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The Blog of Gene Luen Yang - Oh, Brother!
Oh, Brother! 


Just found out about this via the comics blogosphere-- man, I'm excited! Jay Stephens, one of my favorite cartoonists ever, is cartooning once again! He and Bob Weber Jr. are doing an online comics strip called Oh, Brother! There's a lot of hubbub around its launch because King Features has supposedly put a lot of eggs in this basket, but I'm just happy to see ink from Stephens' brush again.

Stephens' late 90's graphic novel The Land of Nod Rockabye Book is, in my opinion, a cartooning masterpiece that never got its due. When Booklist Online asked me for a Printz-worthy book that was published before the Michael L. Printz Award was established in 2000, Rockabye immediately came to mind.

Stephens did several other graphic novels like Atomic City Tales and Jetcat Clubhouse before leaving for animation. I can't blame him -- there's a lot more money in animation and The Secret Saturdays is a really cool cartoon, but part of me wishes that he'd stuck around for the graphic lit boom of the last ten years. I'm sure his writing and drawing prowess would've earned him all sorts of accolades (not that an Emmy is anything to thumb your nose at) and, selfishly, I just want to read more Jay Stephens comics.

So here's to hoping Oh, Brother! is just the beginning!

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We Won An Eisner! 
Just got back from the crush of humanity that is Comic-Con International. It was fun, it was tiring, it was geeky. Not that I minded -- those are my people. I have to say, though, comics' presence seems to be diminishing. Movies and video games and television were drawing big crowds. There were definitely a good number of folks walking through the comics aisles, but it just didn't seem as lively as it used to be.

On Friday night, Derek and I got a Will Eisner Comics Industry Award! (Who is Will Eisner, you ask? Let the Internet learn ya a thing or two.) "Urgent Request," the last story in The Eternal Smile, was named Best Short Story. It was an amazing night for both of us.



The Eisner has got to be one of the most awesome-looking awards ever. It's like a miniature Daily Planet building. You half-expect a miniature Superman to fly out from the back. Good job, Gentle Giant!

I mentioned my editor Mark Siegel during our acceptance speech, but he really deserves more than just a mention. Mark is a visionary-- First Second started off as a small group of synapses firing at each other in his brain. Now it's a true home for cartoonists. Comics from around the world converge in its halls. Storytellers from a variety of media mingle in its parlor. Book culture and comics culture swap ideas in the kitchen. There's nowhere else quite like it, and I can't tell you how lucky I am to be a part of Mark's dream. Beyond this, I can boast about having an editor who is a better cartoonist than me. I can also boast about having an editor who's a friend. Thanks, Mark!

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Strange Tales Volume 2 
First, if you're at Comic-Con, please visit! Here's my signing schedule:

Signing at First Second Books (Booth #1323)
Saturday 7/24/2010 at 1:30pm
Derek Kirk Kim will be there, too!

Signings at SLG Publishing (Booth #1815)
Sunday 7/25/2010 at 10:00am
Sunday 7/25/2010 at 3:00pm

Outside of those times, I'll be at Artists' Alley table GG-19 with Wayne Lo .

Yesterday at their Comic-Con panel, Marvel announced the second volume of Strange Tales , an anthology where indie comics creators are asked for their take on a Marvel character of their choice. When Marvel editor Jody LeHeup approached me for a story, the 12-year-old boy inside of me peed his pants.

I did a short little story about my absolute favorite Marvel character ever, The Fabulous Frog-man. Who is the Fabulous Frog-man, you ask? Why he's Eugene Patilio, the son of failed supervillian Leap Frog! After dear old dad retired from crime, Gene decided to use the Leap Frog's spring-loaded super-suit for good!

When I was in fifth grade, my friend Jeremy figured out that we could get our parents to drop us off at the library, sneak out of the library, walk about 20 minutes to a comic book store, buy comics, sneak back into the library, and then check out big books to hide our comics in so we could bring them home. On my first such outing, I bought Marvel Team-Up #131, featuring Spider-man and the Fabulous Frog-man. It was Frog-man's second adventure ever.



Jeremy and I actually got into a fight over that book. I found the only copy in the store, but he really wanted it because he had Marvel Team-Up #121, which had Frog-man's first adventure ever.



Luckily, our friendship survived. In any case, here's a model sheet from my four-page Strange Tales contrubution:



Strange Tales Volume 2 drops in October. When it comes out, I'll have to buy a copy for Jeremy.

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Comic-Con International 
I can't believe Comic-Con is just over a week away. Man, summer goes by fast. I will be there from Friday afternoon through Sunday. My good buddy Wayne Lo has graciously offered to share his table with me, so we'll be at table GG-19 in Artist's Alley. I'll also be doing signings at both the First Second booth and the SLG Publishing booth. Here's the schedule:

Signing at First Second Books (Booth #1323)
Saturday 7/24/2010 at 1:30pm
Derek Kirk Kim will be there, too!

Signings at SLG Publishing (Booth #1815)
Sunday 7/25/2010 at 10:00am
Sunday 7/25/2010 at 3:00pm

Please come by! If you bring me one of my books - or even a blank sheet of paper - I'll be happy to do a sketch for you! I'll also be selling:

1. My books
2. Monkey King buttons
3. My son's latest mini-comic
4. This awesome t-shirt my brother-in-law designed using one of my drawings:



$15 a shirt. I've got adult and kid sizes!

Oh yeah, I'll also be at the Eisner Awards on Friday night because The Eternal Smile, the book Derek and I did together, got nominated this year. The Eisners are the Academy Awards of comics, only you don't have to be some drug-addled starlet to attend. It's open to the public! If you've never gone, please do this year! You've gotta go at least once!

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Harvey Pekar Died Today. 
I found out this morning during my daily walk through the comics blogosphere. Harvey Pekar's been in the back of my mind all day.

When I was growing up, our local library had a small collection of American Splendors dutifully shelved in the 741's. I tried reading them more than once, but couldn't. Usually, comics drawn like this had at least a couple of panels my mom didn't want me to see, you know? This was just some working shmoe talking about his stupid, boring life.

I didn't develop an appreciation for Harvey Pekar until I was well into my adulthood. It's hard not to when you're a cartoonist. After all, every great autobio comic in the last twenty years finds its roots in him. And he was a part of the generation who spearheaded the merging of the comics market and the book market, a phenomenon that I've personally benefited tremendously from.

More than this, Pekar's comics contained a message that I simply wasn't ready for until I was his fellow working shmoe. Pekar found the art in the mundane. The small, forgettable triumphs and tragedies of the everyman's every day were recorded and offered up for contemplation. Pekar gave them a... a sacredness... by making them into images on paper. This might sound weird, but the animus behind his work reminds me of a certain Catholic mystic famous for finding the divine in the small things of ordinary life.

As someone who struggles with balancing comics, family, and a day job, I deeply admire how Pekar balanced comics, family, and a day job for decades upon decades. He was an artist, but he was also a family man who worried about putting bread on the table. He mixed the creative with the practical. And he made having a day job seem romantic-- I'm reluctant to give up my own day job in part because of his example.

So thank you, Harvey Pekar. I'm going to read one of your comics before I go to sleep tonight.



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