Panel to Panel Classics #3

Teenage Wildlife: Craig Yoe Talks Archie

an interview with John Rovnak

Craig Yoe is an internationally renowned cartoonist, designer, author and founder of YOE! Studios with Clizia Gussoni. Craig has created acclaimed products and promotions, from MTV station ID spots to Disney theme park attractions, and has six patents for toy inventions to his name. Before founding YOE! Studios, Craig was Creative Director/Vice President General Manager of Jim Henson’s Muppets and a Creative Director at Nickelodeon. Dubbed “Dr. Seuss on acid!” by Animation Magazine, Craig Yoe is a wildly entertaining speaker on creativity; his worldwide travels as a lecturer have taken him to Italy, France, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and Singapore. He has also served as curator for fine art exhibits at museums all over the world, including most recently the Comics Stripped exhibit for the Museum of Sex in New York City.
YOE! Studios has won numerous awards including the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, two Addys, the Mobius and the Will Eisner Comics Industry Award.
Among his growing line of YOE! Books (published by IDW Publishing) is, Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers, released in 2011.

This interview was conducted over the phone on November 8, 2010.

John Rovnak: In the past, you’ve written about fetish art (Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster) and good girl art (Dan DeCarlo’s Jetta) in comics, would you also include Betty and Veronica on the continuum of good-girl art?

Craig Yoe: Oh absolutely. I think nobody had sexier girls than the Archie Company. They’re just drawn in such a beautiful way. They’re buoyant and wholesome, yet a little sexy. They’re teenage girls that anybody with blood flowing through their veins would want to date. [Laughs] Well maybe there are a few exceptions and some people that don’t swing that way; but if you like the female species, then Betty and Veronica are at the top of my list of hot looking girls. As an elderly gentleman I can say I appreciate them, but they are after all teenagers, so I‘ll be sure to appreciate them from afar. [Laughs]

Rovnak: Who do you prefer, Betty or Veronica?

Yoe: Definitely, there’s no doubt about it, I’m a Veronica guy! I’ve always gone for girls like Bettie Page, Morticia Addams, and Annette Funicello; and maybe topping that list would be Veronica Lodge. Definitely.

Rovnak: Comic book histories consider Dan DeCarlo to be the definitive Archie artist; the artist responsible for creating the Archie house-style. What impact do you feel artists such as Harry Lucey, Bob Montana, Samm Schwartz, and Bob Bolling had on the Archie house-style?

Yoe: You make a point in your article (Deft Mastery: The Genius of Early 1960’s Archie Comics by Philip Charles Crawford, from Panel to Panel Volume 1) that Dan’s work was so incredible and has in many ways overshadowed Harry Lucey’s work. As I worked on this book, I began to appreciate Harry Lucey more and more and how incredible he was. Dan (DeCarlo) was a friend of mine, and I’ve certainly worshipped at his altar for many years; he’s a good girl artist, as good as any of them in any time or any place. But Harry Lucey really captured my attention, so I now see both of them as masters. Everyone immediately thinks of Dan, and he sort of overshadows Lucey, but both of them have overshadowed the creator of Archie Bob Montana. I’ve always been a giant Bob Montana fan. Over time his Betty and Veronica got sexier and sexier. He has a great sense of humor, and he was also a “two-fisted” fighter in the cartoon world in that he could not only draw beautifully, but he was a really funny writer. Usually cartoonists are struggling to come up with a gag a day, but his Sunday strips, and sometimes the dailies, would have multiple jokes within the context of each strip. I think he was incredibly clever, and a great draftsman, and good girl artist who has been kind of overlooked.

Rovnak: What about Samm Schwartz?

Yoe: I wouldn’t classify him as a good girl artist, but talking to many of the young Archie artists, and some of the fans while doing this book, and I know that when I was growing up myself, a lot of us had tremendous admiration for Samm Schwartz because he gave us such tremendous enjoyment drawing Jughead. I don’t think too many people think of Jughead as a sex symbol, but as far as a character that’s great for laughs and has a little bit of rebellion and attitude, Juggie’s got it. In polls Archie Comics has done, Jughead is usually sited as everyone’s number one favorite character. There’s just something very, very cool about him. He’s nonchalant, and he doesn’t get into the battle of the sexes that everyone else is involved in. Jughead steps back and is kind of cynical about the whole thing, and there’s something nice and fun about his attitude. And his character design is terrific. I’ve got to find one of those Jughead hats myself [laughs]

Rovnak: Bob Bolling. Any thoughts about him?

Yoe: Bob Bolling has been compared to Carl Barks, as far as a storyteller. There’s certainly a tremendous charm in his work. His Little Archie’s are very different than Archie and the gang as teenagers. And there is a child-like innocence and quality in his work; more than any of the other Archie artists. As a writer he explored all kinds of fantasy and different themes and times. His stories were almost surreal in a child like, daydream kind of way. I really love him and appreciate him. We’re going to be publishing his own favorite story in the book, and many Archie fans have sited that it’s their favorite story as well.

Rovnak: What story is that?

Yoe: It’s called “The Long Walk.” It’s from Little Archie #20. It’s really sweet and a lot of fun.

Rovnak: The introduction of Kevin Keller, Archie’s first openly gay character was a huge success; popular enough to go into a second printing. However, many longtime fans would argue that Jughead, a self-labeled woman hater, was Archie’s first gay character, albeit thinly veiled. Any thoughts on the matter?

Yoe: I’m so excited that Archie is doing groundbreaking work in introducing Kevin, who was created by the über-talented Dan Parent. We’re all pretty aware that Archie, Betty and Veronica seem to be very heterosexual, Reggie too. But I always saw Jughead as asexual. His main interest is hamburgers, and he’s a woman hater because he’s Archie’s best friend and he sees how many jams Archie gets in by having his heterosexual desires never working out. I’ve known a few asexual people, and have had a few asexual friends in my life, and Jughead has always seemed like one of those types to me.

Rovnak: Historically, adults in the Archie world are depicted as unattractive, overweight, and often toothless (Mr.Weatherbee, Miss Grundy). They are a sharp contrast to the attractive and physically fit teens that populate Riverdale. The only exception is Mr. Lodge who is presented as relatively attractive and physically fit. Why is he the exception?

Yoe: All the adults seem to have had a makeover in the past few years or so. But you’re right. Mr. Lodge is pretty good looking, and Mrs. Lodge is kind of a babe now. Betty’s mom is still kind of lackluster, but Mrs. Lodge looks pretty darn good. My partner pointed out that Mrs. Lodge could probably afford botox and the best plastic surgeons. She looks pretty good. Even in the latest stories, Mrs. Grundy looks a lot better; well rested or something. Everyone seems to have taken a few youth pills in the last couple of years, or found the fountain of youth; they’re all looking pretty good now.

Rovnak: Most comic book historians focus on the history of superheroes and horror comics, but your work is unique in that it focuses on characters and genres usually overlooked by traditional historians of the comic book. The historical work you’ve done has certainly expanded and altered our understanding of the field. What draws you to write about the genres of funny animals (Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails), teen humor (Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers), and children’s comics (The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics)?

Yoe: Ironically, as I get older, I’m more interested in the younger stuff. I really have little patience for superheroes. Guys running around in tights, hitting each other; it’s just not a big area of interest for me. I feel like I’ve grown up, so now I’m interested in things like comedy and kid’s comics. I think the world needs a good laugh. I certainly feel the same for myself sometimes. I like writing books about Milt Gross (The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story). Even with my recent Frankenstein book (Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein), people ask me do I like the horror version best, or the funny version best? And I certainly gravitate towards the funny version. But I do actually have a couple ideas of some superhero histories up my sleeve… But by and large I cringe when I think about how much documentation there has been of superhero comics, and superhero artists, in comparison with the other genres. All these neglected genres, many of these have brilliant artists and writers, fascinating histories behind the comics, and I think these things need to be told. It’s what gets me up in the morning. When you tell people the term comics, all they think of is superheroes and superhero movies. I’m all for putting the ‘comic’ back in comics. That’s a big thrust for Yoe! Books.

Rovnak: What do you say to the comics fan who says, “Once you’ve read one Archie comic, you’ve read them all?”

Yoe: We’ve been talking about the artists, but George Gladir and Frank Doyle are some of the most brilliant writers that comics have ever known. And there are newer guys, like Craig Boldman, coming up with great stories too. When John L. Goldwater created Archie Andrews, he was sort of the antithesis of Superman. He knew he couldn’t out-super Superman. He tried. The MLJ Company tried with the Black Hood and The Shield, which as we know was the first patriotic hero by over a year, but still they couldn’t compete with Batman and Superman. So what’s the antithesis to that? A normal human being. Writing comedy was hitting the sweet spot with teenagers, and their foibles, and their interest in the opposite sex, and being in school. There’s a whole group of people who contributed to the brilliance of Archie. John L. Goldwater had more than an idea, he really put a lot into the character, and a lot of thinking behind the character. Then when he gave the job to visualize Archie to Bob Montana, Bob brought a tremendous amount in from his own personal experiences in high school The editor Harry Shorten, I feel contributed a lot too. No one, rarely, mentions that there was a writer on the first three stories that’s credited, Victor Bloom. People know very little about him, but I was able to turn up a little bit of information; I wish I had more, but it is more than has ever been put together. Archie Comics had an incredible team then and they have an incredible team which continues through today. Archie is keeping these stories fresh and green, creating new ideas and humor. I really enjoyed doing this book inparticual because I’m usually not working with any people, because the books I’m usually working on, the cartoonists are long gone. But, it turns out that the Archie offices are less than a half an hour from Yoe! Books’ office. I’m going over there all the time. The management they have at Archie now is phenomenal! Jon Goldwater leading the show, with Victor Gorelick and Mike Pellerito, are doing kick-ass comics. The excitement that’s over there, the ideas that are flowing, the attitude, and the valuing of the creative people of the past who did Archie and that are currently doing Archie. The way that they are esteemed and thought highly of, it’s just a thrill to me; I’m tying to get some of that across in the book too. How not only that Archie has had a glorious past, but the present is very exciting and it seems like it’s very bright; we’re going to need sunglasses [laughs].

Rovnak: It’s interesting, and amazing, that Archie has survived all these years without relying on, or resorting to, such things as licensing and expanding themselves outside the comics market. They really don’t adhere to the same business model that, I would say, 99% of the comics industry adheres to.

Yoe: Yeah, they have this weird concept; they’ve always given people great stories and great artwork. It’s an interesting concept, and an interesting way to run a comic book company. [Laughs] By golly, it just might work…

For more information on YOE! Books go to www.yoebooks.com

Interview © John Rovnak

Order Today!!

Panel to Panel: Exploring Words & Pictures
Edited by John Rovnak

Featuring New Interviews With…
*MARK BODE: A 21st Century Renaissance Man by John Rovnak.
*GLENN DANZIG: Damn, It’s Danzig by John Rovnak.
*JIMMY GOWNLEY: Normal Guy to the Naked Eye by Rachael M Rollson.
*ALAN MOORE: The Magical Adventures of an Extraordinary Gentlemen by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe.
*STEVE MURPHY: Comes Out of his Shell by John Rovnak.
*DAVE SIM: The General in His Labyrinth by Jon Mathewson.
*JIM WOODRING: A Touch of Madness by Daniel Barlow.
*BY JINGO: A Personal Meditation on the Comics of Jack Kirby by Rob Walton.
*MARVEL 14: The Incredible History of France’s Censorship of Marvel Comics by Jean–Emmanuel Deluxe.
*KEEP YOUR PANTS ON! The Rock Art of James Kochalka.
*BUDDY COPS in Full-Color by Mark Martin.
*BEAT PANELS: OR; IS THERE MONEY IN POETRY COMICS? by Stephen R. Bissette featuring the graphic poetry of Peter Money and Rick Veitch.
*ORGANIZING COMICS: How Comics Created a Community in Rural New England by Daniel Barlow.
*EUROPE’S KRIMINAL HISTORY: featuring MR. KRIME by Mort Todd with Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe.
*EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Re-Imagined Interpretations of Forgotten Characters of the Public Domain.
*MY SKETCHY SUMMER, or 5 Days Hard Labor at the Center For Cartoon Studies by Philip Charles Crawford.
*CLOVER FIELDS ON FIRE: The Intellectual Architecture of Robert Crumb and the Tyranny of the Masses by Experience Kring.
*Organic Comix presents JIM SIMON’S SHIELDMASTER.
*DEFT MASTERY: The Genius of Early 1960′s Archie Comics by Philip Charles Crawford, featuring Teenage Wildlife: an interview with Craig Yoe by John Rovnak.
*MEET JOE PRIEST: A Personal Reflection on Where Faith and Comics Meet by Fr. Chris Kulig, O.Carm.
*An archive of past interviews, from paneltopanel.net, featuring DAVID MACK, LARRY MARDER, LARRY HAMA, JAIME HERNANDEZ, JAMES STURM and STAN SAKAI.
* and more….

Cover by MARK MARTIN
274 Pages, Full Color
$40.00
(scheduled to begin shipping Aug/Sept 2011)





To Be, Or Not To Be…?

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Panel to Panel/Kickstarter fund raising campaign came to a close.  Although we did not reach our financial goal via Kickstarter, this project still continues to move forward.  After a couple days of needed rest and distance from the project, I returned to it with a simple email that I sent out to each of the book’s contributors.  That email, as I had hoped, sparked a conversation which not only helped to decide the fate of the project, but also captured a unique moment in time for Panel to Panel.  Publishing in the year 2011 offers many opportunities, as it does hurdles, and this book is no stranger to either of those.  With the permission of all those involved, I have compiled the majority of the emails which were exchanged over the last week or so, to share here on the blog.  It shows you, the reader and consumer, what steps we, as a collaborative group, are taking to make this book a reality and offers a “behind-the-scenes” look at our process.  It begins with my initial email…

John Rovnak: Hello everyone! It’s about time I came out from under my rock and talked to you all about the current state of Panel to Panel. I’d like for this email to spark a conversation amongst all of us, and encourage you all to reply (to all) and toss around our ideas. To start, as all of you probably know, our Kickstarter.com campaign failed. 🙁 Now, it wasn’t a complete failure… We did manage to raise quite a bit of awareness and potential sales, just not enough, and it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. I, for one, am exhausted from all the “trying” I did! So what does this mean? We have a finished product ready to go!! But where? We could go back to the print-on-demand avenue. It allows the book to get out into people’s hands, but at a higher cost. The book would retail for roughly $40.00. I’ve considered breaking the book up, maybe into three smaller volumes, and pricing them out that way. Any thoughts? I could also shop it around to some publishers, and see if something of this size and format would interest them. We could also solicit the book with Diamond and see what kind of numbers that generates. They have seen it, and will carry it! But then it still comes down to the juggling of orders and printing and MONEY! Bottom line is, I’m anxious to move on! I love this book dearly, but I’m really sick of looking at it. That’s not to say that I’m done with it. I just have a lot of ideas for another one!! REALLY good ideas that I can’t wait to share… But I really need to know what I’m doing with this one. These are all my initial/scattered thoughts, but I want to start getting back to it!

Mark Masztal: Like I have said to John recently, I don’t think we should break up the book. Dismembering it down to three volumes, in my mind, would cheapen the beautiful book we have now. I think trying to go through various publishers, like I’ve mentioned to John, would take the pressure off us to come up with the printing costs. It also means that some of the coin will have to go back to the publisher.

Rob Walton: My only experience here is in publishing Ragmop. I explored every avenue, including printing overseas (a considerable savings and better paper and binding, but little guarantee of shipping). Going through Diamond was frustrating, and as I mentioned to John before, caused me to inflate the price to 29.95 because Diamond ends up taking 70% of the cover (60% plus another 10% for shipping and early payment). If this is a not for profit effort, that’s fine, you’ll probably break even if you don’t do an overrun like I did. BUT, this is far more marketable than Ragmop, so… Solicit and see?

Craig Yoe: It’s such an incredibly beautiful book! Publishing is so darn difficult these days. I think a publisher might be hard to find, though Twomorrows Publishing comes to mind. May be worth a try and see what interest there is, and what kind of deal there might be. Don’t get discouraged, John! It’s a great publication, just a very tough time for publishing.

Mark Martin: I say it is time to make that book actually exist, for people who are actually willing and able to actually buy one. Anybody else can go piss up a rope. 1. Get a cost-per book to print 100 copies, digital print-on-demand 2. Round that up, and add on whatever it costs to pack and ship. Come up with a price that you can live with. 3. Advertise that cost on your website, facebook, comics websites, Craig Yoe’s forehead… Everywhere you can think of. Tell folks to SEND MONEY NOW, and they’ll get the book in a couple of months. ANNOUNCE A DEADLINE for taking orders. Give it about a month. Anybody that does not order in time will have to wait til next time – if there ever IS a next time. 4. Give yourself another week after the deadline, to tie up any loose ends. 5. ORDER THE BOOKS from the print-on-demand printer. Even if it is only 100 books 6. Get the books, pack the books, ship the books 7. Hold your book that actually exists in your hands, love it, cuddle it, hug it 8. Move on. GO GO GO!

Rob Walton: Now there’s gumption! Hard to disagree. Another thought is offering an ebook. I’ve heard places like Costco do incredible ebook sales. I’m old school, in that I like to hold a book like this in my hands to love, cuddle and hug like Mark, but younger generations enamored with technology might prefer a digital option as well. Could this be formatted for the iPad? Put it on your website and start selling downloadable copies now until you can figure out print options! I think Mark is correct though. We need to make this exist. A print on demand edition could conceivably go a long way in securing a wider popular edition through either Diamond or an existing publisher (D&Q?). The buzz has already started through Kickstarter. Don’t lose it.

Mort Todd: Here’s my 2¢: First, basically do what you did through Kickstarter via a PayPal contribute button. That way there would be no immediate deadline, or minimum or limit what you can generate. Offer premiums similar to what you had for Kickstarter, which would be sent out 4 to 6 weeks after the contribution (so you can get the right number of things manufactured) with a set release date for the book (Fall/Winter?). You could also take book preorders without the premiums. Go through a POD, sell it through their web store and via your websites and Diamond. From past experience I think it’d be better to go DIY rather than work through an existing publisher. That said, if you did go with a publisher, Fantagraphics may be a good bet due to P2P’s content and Fantagraphic’s audience and distribution.

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe: Yes you can do pre-sales. I do it for record projects of mine for my music label. An idea right?

Rachael M. Rollson: From the quiet front, I say – git’er done. I like Mark Martin’s suggestions – I want a real live book in my hand to save and collect and pass on…I want to tote that tome around with me and look cool on a park bench and everybody to say, “ooooh, what cosmic loveliness would be worth dragging around like that, I gotta get me one”…now, I don’t know anything about POD, I don’t know anything about iPad’s and I don’t know anything about current publishing trends – but I know this book should be real. I have no advice to offer, just absolute support…

Philip Charles Crawford: I agree with the others – I think it’s time to make the book available in a printed form. Perhaps the first 100 copies could be a limited edition collector’s edition limited-run, variant cover, etc. That would provide those who want a copy now the opportunity to buy one. This would give you a little time to also shop it with publishers or to get advertising for subsequent printing. Also, once you sold enough to go into a second printing then you could do some Stan Lee type publicity: Because You Demanded, Back in Print, etc. It is such a hard time to get published, but once you’ve got an initial product out there in some capacity, it may be easy to shop to publishers or get advertising. You have my support on whatever you decide.

Daniel Barlow: I’m with Mark Martin on this! Get the book out, gain a reputation in the industry for doing this kind of book and start moving forward with the second one. Such a great book needs to get out there ASAP!

Craig Yoe: This book is awesome and hopefully will find an audience that appreciates its greatness!

Steve Murphy: Sorry for the delay and while it seems moot at this point, here are my two cents: I’d break the book up into 4 parts/”issues” and publish ’em quarterly thereby establishing an ongoing presence in the marketplace, meanwhile beginning work on issue 5, etc. I just think the current cover price for a single volume is way high. I know I couldn’t justify the single-shot expense to my wife given our family’s low “disposable income” budget.

John Rovnak: Way to throw a curve ball, Murph!! 🙂

James Kochalka: Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even buy a copy for myself at the price I assume it’s going to be.

Mark Masztal: It’s actually not a bad idea.

John Rovnak: Um, Mark…. I suggested this the day after Kickstarter ended, I I believe YOU were the first to shoot it down. 🙂

Craig Yoe: It’s very difficult, I think, to sell a publication/book that is a smorgasbord/anthology these days. People like single subject books on something they really like, and even that’s getting very, very hard in today’s economy. And at the same time there’s so many good things coming out in competition. Sorry for this negative note. I really do love what you have put together, but it’s a tough world in publishing these days, always has been I guess, but now more than ever. I’ll do what ever I can to support whatever direction you decide to go, as I’m sure will everyone here. You obviously have a lot of people that like you and what you’ve put together. This is much to your credit and all the talented people that have been helping. Rooting for you…

Mark Masztal: I did, just because of the extra work and having to find new cover art etc. It does get us in the affordable market place. I’m just worried about the covers and where they will come from. We could use my Danzig piece as a cover with some editing and then maybe one of Rick Veitch’s and Peter Money’s poetry pieces. Maybe use Mort Todd’s T-Shirt design or maybe see if we could plead with Mr. Bodé for a piece??? I have to agree with James. Tight market place, tight economy and a $40 price tag will equal no sales. Specialty markets maybe, but it will be a low sales percentage. Anyone got a rich uncle or grandparent? Where’s Kevin Eastman’s uncle when we need him???

James Kochalka: This is actually a fair argument for doing the big book as “print on demand”. Only the people who really think this is the book for them will buy it. And that’s fine, right?

Rob Walton: I will say this, going back to my experience with Ragmop: After the failure of the graphic novel, the hearsay was that I should have republished it as a run of 12 issues and then collected it. It all comes down to what you want to hold in your hands at the end of the day. There’s no right answer in publishing any more. The market was screaming for graphic novels in 2006 so I gave them one. Turns out, what they really wanted was TPB collections from Marvel and DC. Just roll the dice.

John Rovnak: At the end of the day I want to hold in my hand the same thing I’ve wanted to hold in my hand since I dreamt this silly thing up, a massive collection of my favorite things!! I will explore the multiple volume thing a bit more while I’m waiting on that final printing quote, but I think I know what the answer will be. The one thing I envision if a multiple volume package were to happen would be a handy-dandy slipcase to hold them all. But I’m getting way ahead of myself here.

Mark Martin: Just do something. If you can do it and not LOSE money, you are way ahead of the game. Stick with the book plan.

Mort Todd: I opt for the book over the segmented series. Screw being accessible to those that might buy this instead of Ultimate Spider-Man. Make it the Necronomicon of comics that many know of, few have seen (unless they got $40)!

Stephen R. Bissette: It’s not my or our money, but my philosophy these days, given the screwed market, is if I’m going to do a book, DO THE BOOK. It’s one of the reasons I did Teen Angels as the whole 400+ page monster. If it’s going to exist, at least make sure—profit, loss, or draw—it’s the book you want it to be. It may be the only shot you take or get. Have no illusions about sales. It’s a long slog promoting, even when you GET distribution in place. No one is going to promote it for you; any who do, it’s a boon and a charity, but it won’t be singularly effective, even if it’s Entertainment Weekly you score points with. It’s WORTH doing. DO it.

Craig Yoe: Well, Stephen is a smart guy, and while there’s a part of me that is cautionary in practice, I’m doing exactly what he’s doing. The market is shit, people don’t have or don’t spend money, but I’m just going to do the best damn books I know how to do and damn the torpedoes full speed ahead!!!

Steve Murphy: Putting the issue of cover price and personal disposable income aside… I don’t think one can compare Ragmop and Tyrant to this P2P book. The former are comic books, whether in periodical or bookshelf form, while P2P is overall a piece of collected journalism (and thus, in my mind, capable of being sliced up and served in smaller chunks). Another potential way to frame this can be via the question “What are your long term goals as a publisher, John?” While it would indeed be very cool to be known as the guy who published this (potential) one-hit wonder of mammoth coolness, perhaps instead chopping it up in order to become an “ongoing concern” via periodical publication would better serve your long term goals (by perhaps creating a steady cash-flow that you can build upon). Besides, the world needs a, uh, comics journal that is more unique, fun and constantly evolving than the self-serving yawn known as the Comics Journal

Stephen R. Bissette: People buy $40 books every day, especially art book and graphic novels. Teen Angels retails at $30. It’s high, but POD and having to price for Diamond Dist. discount required it; it’s 400 pages, if people balk, screw it. We can’t give away the farm begging for sales that may never come anyway—and if you do, and the sales don’t manifest at $9.99 or $14.99, you end up with just a portion of what you intended in print, and likely pulling the plug in frustration, WITHOUT the book you wanted existing, or ever existing. Just my two cents… It’s a gamble whatever you do. FYI, Taboo was a gamble, at a time when we were always broke, had two kids, and were struggling monthly to meet rent. At least, if only one issue had existed, I could know it was the best I could edit, package, and make exist, with no regrets. That had sugardaddies. Without ’em, I compromised on Tyrant, never doing a collected (told to wait until I got to the magic “six issues collectible” format), and regret it—and there IS no Tyrant book edition. Thereafter, with every experiment (POD with Green Mtn Cinema, then five volumes of Blur, then Teen Angels, the latter with the distribution I couldn’t get on the former), I made sure whatever the book, however modest or grandiose, it was the book I wanted to exist, and nothing less. It’s all a gamble. You break it up, you lose. You cut bait, you lose. You fish and lose, with the whole package, you win: you have the book you wanted to exist in existence. Just make sure you don’t gamble more than you can afford to lose, $$ wise.

John Rovnak: Going back a couple comments, I tend to agree with Mort Todd’s email, and I’d like to expand on it. “Screw being accessible” is right, to a degree. I agree with a more punk rock/DIY attitude (although this book may appear a bit more New Wave). I myself would buy this, no questions asked. It appeals to my tastes as a consumer on so many levels, and I know I can’t be alone here. Yes, times are tough. Yes, print is dying. But I spend a lot more per page for books that pale in comparison to what we’ve made here. I know I want it to be printed. The whole reason I dreamt this thing up was because posting reviews and interviews online was so unsatisfying. I couldn’t hold it, I couldn’t physically share it, it seemed cheap. Comics to me are about the printed product; the smell, the weight, the fragile spine which holds the whole damn thing together. Think of some of your favorite comics. I’ll bet there’s a treasury edition or giant-sized something on that list. Those huge publications were always the coolest. Imagine them broken down into cost effective books that matched everything else on the shelf. They wouldn’t stand out. They wouldn’t be memorable Now think of some of the price tags you’ve ignored over the years because the content and packaging made it irresistible to you and your better sense. Do you think back and regret the purchase? If the content is shit, yes. But that’s not the case here. I guess I’ve convinced myself… I believe in a big ‘expensive’ book…

Rachael M. Rollson: Alright, I need to elaborate on the “live the dream” fragment I posted before… I don’t have a lot of money either, but if I get to choose a quality treasure once in awhile then I don’t think that $40. is too much to ask – this IS quality, it is also quantity, and it is ours… I am not sure what the market is professing at this time, either, but I know that I like variety – and since I am a consumer (as well as a contributor here) I should be counted, too – and I like big books with lots of different artists and topics – I don’t always have the time to seek out new and exciting things so this is a great feature of some new and some tried and true’s. I might actually learn something and go seek out more of it (fancy that). It might be a long slow climb uphill, but then if it is what you wanted without compromise then it will stand on its own… I believe in it – make it happen.

Rob Walton: Big expensive book! Big expensive book! This fool and his money are ready to be parted! One copy sold!

John Rovnak: A perfect example, and an idea I think is comparable, is McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Look at the prices they fetch for an insanely varied product.

Stephen R. Bissette: Bottom line: people GIVE AWAY product online daily (myself included with the blog). The market is screwed in part because of that. Many of us pay $$ for special books we want. If we miss our window of opportunity, given the tiny print runs on many books, they are then hundreds of $$ IF you can find them at all. Case in point: Beating the Devil: The Making of the Night of the Demon by Tony Earnshaw. I missed buying it when it was new. Now, it’s $100 and up, and it’s only a year old. You want your book just read, give it away, online, or as a nominal-charge PDF. You want this to exist, publish it. Nobody is going to do it for you. Pursuing that will just delay it longer, and you’ll end up having to publish it yourself anyway, I fear.

Rob Walton: Going back to Ragmop one last time. A day doesn’t go by when I’m not proud to see that 400 page sucker on my self or to feel the heft of it in my hands. It lost money, and I can’t give it away, but I’m damn happy I did it. No regrets!

Mark Masztal: Sounds like we’re doing a big book.

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe: …a well crafted book is needed more than ever ! So I don’t mind paying 40 bucks, if the book is worth it.

Rick Veitch: I think Murphy’s got the best take here. If your goal is to build up P2P so you aren’t forever plagued by undercapitalization issues, then offer it in as many formats and platforms as you can. Have you considered going with Image? They can do floppies, collections and digital. Their preorders on floppies will be better than if you solicit it yourself.

Mark Martin: Sell it to the Comics Journal!

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe: You can try Fantagraphics, but also Top Shelf, Drawn & Quarterly and Image too right?

Stephen R. Bissette: I wouldn’t waste the time, but that’s your call. You’ll piss away a year or more searching for a publisher, and may still end up empty handed (speaking from experience)…

Mark Martin: No no, I meant the “conversation” here – Sell that to TCJ. Sell out, man! Go for the big bucks! Buy a yacht!

Rob Walton: It seems to me that a lot of people were willing to pay $40+ for this project on kickstarter. If those same people transfer their support to a POD edition it might go a long way to raising you sales. For that edition you don’t need EVERYONE to buy, only some. Then you print additional copies to send to targeted publishers for a potential popular edition OR a second volume. Offer them the second volume with the rights to republish the first. Two birds with one stone? Get the book out to those who demand it, and then shop it around with less pressure.

Teenage Wildlife

© Archie Comic Publications, Inc.

One of my favorite features in Panel to Panel is an article entitled, “Deft Mastery: The Genius of Early 1960’s Archie Comics” by Philip Charles Crawford.  Now I’ve never been a huge Archie Comics fan, but these 10 pages by Philip have forever changed my opinion of Archie Andrews and his fun loving gang of friends.  After initially reading “Deft Mastery”, I’d decided to send a copy out to cartoonist, designer and author Craig Yoe.  Who better than Craig to view this article and give us a little feedback as we wrapped up the editing process?  Well that feedback turned into an interview, which will now run along side “Deft Mastery”.  It was a great opportunity to pick Craig’s brain and discuss, in detail, his feelings about Archie Comics.  You see back in November 2010 when we spoke, Craig was also wrapping up a project, his recently released book,  Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers.

I hope you enjoy this preview, as much as I enjoyed chatting with Craig.

John Rovnak: In the past, you’ve written about fetish art (Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster) and good girl art (Dan DeCarlo’s Jetta) in comics, would you also include Betty and Veronica on the continuum of good-girl art?

Craig Yoe: Oh absolutely. I think nobody had sexier girls than the Archie Company.  They’re just drawn in such a beautiful way.  They’re buoyant and wholesome, yet a little sexy.  They’re teenage girls that anybody with blood flowing through their veins would want to date. [Laughs] Well maybe there are a few exceptions and some people that don’t swing that way; but if you like the female species, then Betty and Veronica are at the top of my list of hot looking girls.  As an elderly gentleman I can say I appreciate them, but they are after all teenagers, so I‘ll be sure to appreciate them from afar. [Laughs]

Rovnak: Who do you prefer, Betty or Veronica?

Yoe: Definitely, there’s no doubt about it, I’m a Veronica guy!  I’ve always gone for girls like Bettie Page, Morticia Addams, and Annette Funicello; and maybe topping that list would be Veronica Lodge.  Definitely.