The 12 Days of Comics: 2010 - Day 1
Demographic: Contemplative/Young at Heart
Selected by: Ryan Claytor
Subsequent Interview by: Justin Giampaoli
Ryan: My first selection for our "12 Days of Comics: 2010" is a seasoned web-comic that was long overdue for a print release. "Copper" is a strip that takes the haiku-like brevity of a daily strip and expands that feeling into a turn-of-the-twentieth-century, Sunday-sized feast for the senses which bubbles with environmental richness and thoughtful allegories on life. The strips are not sequential, each one could exist on its own, but like many diary strips, this character-based fictional narrative and the world in which it is based, becomes more realized with each installment.
It's hard not to be mesmerized by Kazu Kibuishi's effortless line work and subtle, yet expressive, color choices. It rings with a similar tone to that of Charles Schulz's "Peanuts," where you don't always laugh when you get to the last panel, but your thoughts often shift to questioning your own life views, and figuring out which character your thoughts align with best.
If you're interested in looking through a healthy number of the strips, you can find them online at Kibuishi's website: www.boltcity.com/copper. I haven't taken enough time to compare the online archive with the print version to see how much of the book is available for free, but as Clark Gable once said, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." This is a rare case where I'd buy a print version even if every strip was available free of charge. This title is far-and-away my number one choice of the year and, Justin, if you veto this selection, I'd probably have to use my veto to veto your veto.
Justin: Haha! No worries on the veto – that's a great pick! While I haven't read "Copper" myself, I have followed Kazu Kibuishi's other work pretty closely. I was at the Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco when Kazu & Crew first debuted their "Flight" Anthology, this must have been 2004 or 2005 because I was still living in the Bay Area, and like many, was blown away by the inventive world-building, visual storytelling, color palette, etc. I actually literally saw them get signed by Image Comics. Jim Valentino just walked up and said, "Hi, I'm Jim Valentino from Image Comics, we'd like to publish your book." It was an amazing scene, this really storybook moment. I've also read "Amulet," which is a solid adventure read.
Would you say that "Copper" fits in that same Young Adult, all ages sort of demographic? In other words, for parents out there, is this suitable as a stocking-stuffer for a child? For what it's worth, the comparison to "Peanuts" really sold me here. For me, the magic of "Peanuts" was never that it was "haha" funny as you mentioned, but that it was about the juxtaposition of "the way the world is" vs. "the way the world ought to be," and the gang perpetually trying to reconcile the two.
Ryan: Yah, I would. I've read a lot of Kibuishi's work (“Daisy Kutter,” “Flight” Anthos, “Amulet,” etc.) and while each of them fit into different genres (Western, fantasy, and sci-fi respectively), I think it's safe to say that they're all united by a staunch all-ages approach. I don't use that term lightly, either. Like a Pixar film, there truly is something for a wide range of ages to enjoy.
As a slight aside, Kazu and I went to the same university for our undergrad schooling. I remember seeing his comic strips in the university newspaper. I wish I could say we ran in the same crew, but I never spoke with him until I started producing my own comics (shortly after undergrad) and seeing him around conventions. I think it was 2006 when I talked with him in Portland, Oregon at the Stumptown Comics Festival. I told him how much I enjoyed "Copper" and hoped there would be a print version in the near future. At the time, he told me he'd like to, but was looking for someone to publish it. I'm glad he found Scholastic, who shared an interest in making it more widely available.