Friday, 30 May 2014

News, Views, and Oddities #34

News, Views and Oddities, a fortnightly feature where we link to various bits and bobs which have grabbed our attention, encompassing comics, books, illustration, design and film. Clicking fingers at the ready.

More comics  from the immensely talented Ines Estrada are a very good thing indeed- she recently announced that the first 3 issues of Lapsos are to be collected and released as a single volume, published in English by C’est Bon Kultur, and is set to debut at the Helsinki Comics Festival. The book will be a hardback and printed partly in colour and partly in duo-tone (blue and neon red). Estrada will also be at CAKE this year, tabling with Patrick Kyle, and will be coming fully prepared- if you're going, make the wise decision to stop by her table.

On the subject of conventions and preparedness, Lucy Knisley shows you how it's done with her Mary Poppins-esqe 'con-box' which contains everything from water-colours to a change of clothes. I love seeing stuff like this.  

Gene Yang participates in  Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by listing his top ten favourite Asian American comic book characters.  

Bastien Vives' Polina is to be adapted into a film  of some sort- my French is non-existent, and translation programmes young and trying.

Really enjoyed Dakota MacFazdean's report on a Swedish comics festival- nice tone, widely encompassing and lots of photos. Interesting and engaging- something to aspire towards. 

Getting excited for Anouk Ricard's Benson's Cuckoos as it near publication; it's set to debut at ELCAF, with the lady herself in attendance. 

If there is a right way to spend Friday, it's probably scrolling through Lorenzo Mattotti's art; this is an exhibition of his Vietnam pieces.  

I really enjoy Chris Anthony Diaz's photo portraits of cartoonists and comics people at various cons and events- these are from TCAF.

Your 2014 Russ Manning award nominees. Pleased to see Vanessa Del Ray on that list.

Kyle Platts and friends are painting buildings as part of the Converse Cons project. Very coll buildings they are, too.

Comics you should read:

I know, I know, you snobs- it's a comic based on a cartoon- what of it? Perhaps not the kind of news you're used to seeing covered here, but I think this has the potential to be pretty damn good, if it's done right. And it's a comic about a brown family and food, and y'know, I'm brown and love food, and Tina is my spirit animal; sometimes things are just that simple. To get to the point, Fox cartoon Bob's Burgers, which revolves around the Belcher family- parents Bob and Linda, children Tina, Gene, and Louise- running a struggling hamburger restaurant somewhere in new jersey, is getting its own comic. 

The comic will be published by Dynamite- who announced they'd gained the license in July last year, and will  feature five new strips, titled 'Louise's Unsolved Mysteries,' 'Tina's Erotic Friend Fiction,' 'A Gene Belcher Original Musical,' 'Letters Written by Linda' and 'Bob's Burgers of the Day.' It's releasing in August, and I'll be buying it, and you should, too.

Archaia to publish Sergio Toppi's The Collector this September

An English translation of the late, great Sergio Toppi's The Collector was first announced back in 2012 (I believe), and after numerous delays, Archaia will finally be releasing the book early this September. The Collector was Toppi's longest-running original series- he began in it 1984, charting the adventures of the bowler-hatted, daredevil Collector, a chameleon of man who time-travels the world in order to seek out rare and fascinating artifacts. It is only the second of the hugely influential (see Frank Miller, Walt Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz ) Italian artist's work to be translated in English after Archaia published the seminal Sharaz De in January 2013. That book quickly sold out of its first printing, leading to quite a wait before a second run was produced; hopefully that experience will have informed demand and decisions made this time around. Toppi is one of the bona-fide greats of the medium- the ones you don't get to argue about- and the fact that so little of his work is available in English for wider audiences to appreciate is something of a travesty, and this news fantastic.

The Collector  will be published in an over-sized, hardback format, and is due to hit shops on September 3rd. It will be available for pre-order through comic shops starting May 28th. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

New web-comic: Mike Medaglia's Last Days of Nobodies

The multi-faceted Canadian/British comics artist Mike Medaglia (Seasons, Wu Wei) launches his new web-comic, Last Days of Nobodies, today, and it promises to be a beautiful, lyrical work, one to bookmark. On paper, Last Days of Nobodies seems to be an amalgamation of elements I tend to dislike in comics: a meditation on the nature of art, a floral, textile-inspired style, a purported re-imagining of the thoughts and actions of notable cultural figures, but somehow Medaglia's managed to produce something that washes all my biases away. Much of that is down to the palpable passion he has for his narrative, which aims to explore the impulse and creation of art via the lives and stories of three artists: Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, and Franz Kafka. I asked Mike to explain the idea of the comic a little further:

'The concept for Last Days of Nobodies is that I want to celebrate artists making art for the sake of art. That is the beautiful freedom of art, that you may not sell your work, or receive great praise or recognition, but you can get up everyday and pour yourself into it any chance you get. No one can take that away from you. I think these three artists (Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and Kafka) really illustrate that in their own way. Also, they all seemed to use art to both ask questions about the world and the nature of being human, and to frame the world in new ways.

I came up with the concept in a sleepy haze one day when I was feeling sorry for myself as an artist, nothing seemed to be working the way I anticipated - I think we all go through that - but when I thought about these artists that I love who struggled with their work, I wanted to tell their some of their stories as a way to help myself really. There is something comforting in their approach to each of their art forms. Then the concept of their deaths sort of formed from that.' 

Reading through it, it has a really lyrical, poetic cadence, a thoughtful flow, helped along by the weaves and vines of pattern and scrolled text. I often find the use of textured, embroidered influences in comics distracting and uncompromising in a fashion- the aesthetics of the affectation overpowering the narrative as a whole, but Medaglia's pared it back here, and it works nicely in tandem with the rougher, more vivid textures  he moves on to in Van Gogh's world. I believe the idea is for Last Days of Nobodies to be an ongoing piece; beginning with part 1, which focuses on Van Gogh, and then parts 2 and 3 presumably encompassing Emily Dickinson and Kafka respectively.

Comics Shelfie: Isaac Lenkiewicz

The last comics shelfie before I go on holiday (no need to worry- it will be back in its regular slot in a fortnight; I'm just excited about my holiday), and it's the turn of the ace Isaac Lenkiewicz, author of Giant Fighters, Dead Cats of Plum Street, illustrator on Triassic Terrors, contributor to Nobrow's Showcase anthology, and the artist who created the fab coke-swilling, book-reading frog header for this very blog. I've talked about Isaac's work a few times here, and I hold his cartooning in the highest regard- I think he's one of the best comic creators working in the UK (although he doesn't produce nowhere near as much work as I'd greedily like him to)and his work is such a pleasure to look at- especially the clarity and cleanliness of his lines. I know it's customary to do so, but go have a browse of his Tumblr blog to see the quality of beautiful work on show and the extent of his talent. His shelfie is a high-quality, eclectic mix that probably more closely mirrors my own tastes than anyone else so far, if you discount the fact that my shelves are nowhere near this tidy or organised. But over to Isaac:

'So here's my small shelf, there was a bunch of junk on top but I plonked it onto my bed for this photo. This is where all of my stumpy books are kept, mostly manga and autobiographical stuff. On the bottom shelf are some of the many many single issues I own, more of those will pop up in a bit.

La Pacifica! I was going through my detective and film noir phase when I got this, good stuff though. As you can see I don't really keep my books in any kind of order, I quite like having them like this, Dan Berry squished between Jim Mahfood and Masashi Tanaka.

This is my big shelf, the top row is mostly full of books for reference, if you look carefully you'll be able to see a novel adaptation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The next two rows are all comics in no particular order, although I suppose I put all of my larger books together. You'll see more single issues on the row below. The bottom row contains a lot of the stuff I read when I was just getting into comics.

I think I do tend to mostly put my favourite books next to each other, that's kind of like ordering things right? That's not my copy of Pinocchio but I love it so much, I hope it becomes really attached to Christophe Blain and Gipi so I can't possibly tear them away from each other. There are a few French language comics here, I'm slowly translating Isaac le pirate 5 and really clumsily too. I can't read or speak French.

Here are my long boxes, they're usually stored underneath my bed.

I pulled out some examples of the kind of life that inhabits them. There's such a variety of comics in these things, but there are loads of Hellboy, BPRD and Walking Dead single issues. Last year I hacked out a big chunk of my singles collection but I think I want to get rid of a bit more, I don't want to be a person who has loads of stuff.

I started hoarding comics when I was about 14 years old, I was really into Sam Kieth back then. He was who got me really excited about comics. The first Sam Kieth comic I picked up was called Scratch, a 5 issue mini series from DC about a werwolf, oh and Batman made an appearance apparently.

Oh look! I found these boxes underneath my bed, man... there's loads of stuff I forgot about in these. Loads of batman books and all of my Hellboy and BPRD Trade Paperbacks.

Paul Pope's Horse Press Books
I used to compare my progression with artists I admire, when I was 23 I bought myself a copy of the Ballad of Dr. Richardson after finding out Pope was 23 himself when it was released. I remember flicking through it and just thinking "Ohhh I've got some catching up to do". Not long after I read it I think I found out he was actually 22 or something, that was the last time I compared my own progression with other artists based on their age.

GUS by Christophe Blain 
I carry GUS around in my bag most of the time, well actually at the moment Weapons of Mass Diplomacy has temporarily replaced it. I don't want to carry too many comics around, books are heavy. I picked up GUS after reading Isaac the Pirate and having that feeling of "I must read everything Christophe Blain has ever made" that everyone has. I feel like Blain's dialogue and the mannerisms of his characters are what really makes his work exciting. He shares a skill I think, with artists like Richard Corben and Thomas Ott, and that's the ability to make anything he draws believable. It doesn't matter if he's drawing a man with a footlong nose, it seems like it could actually exist because of the movement and lighting he conveys in his lines.

Comics I first discovered in my local library 
Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar and Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
When I came across these two comics a few years ago at my local library, I felt like I had found buried treasure. They've both been incredibly influential and at the time opened me up to lots of different kinds of comics. It was through reading Joann Sfar's books that I became aware of Christophe Blain and David B. I carried around and read the library copy of Vampire Loves so much that the cover fell off, I think I renewed it as many times as I could (partly because I was embarrassed to return such a battered book).

I'm going to describe how I feel about Jillain Tamaki's work the same way it seems almost everybody does, "Now THIS is comics." I remember being gobsmacked when I saw her art, so exciting. I ended up buying the same exact library copy of Skim as I first read and for 50p! Ridiculous right? Stupid library, they don't know what they're doing.'

Many thanks to Isaac for his time and participation. You can view all the previous installments of Comics Shelfie here. Remember to stop by on the 11th of June for the next installment.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Magnetic Press to give Tony Sandoval's Doomboy English language release

New publishing imprint Magnetic Press have now released their first 2 books: Super Ego, and Naja, and are pressing ahead with the announcement of further rights acquisitions. The one that seems to have piqued a few people's interests -including mine- is Doomboy by Mexican artist and writer Tony Sandoval, releasing in hardback this September. Chosen as part of the Official Selection at Angouleme in 2012, it went on win the youth jury prize, and has since been translated into several languages worldwide, although this will mark the first time it will be published in English.

The story sounds nicely bittersweet and poignant: a young teenage boy, a bit of a loner in possession of a love of metal music and a very active imagination, is left bereft when his girlfriend dies suddenly. As a means of coping, he begins to broadcast songs to her beyond the grave, playing his heart out on his guitar, under the nom de plume 'Doomboy.' Unbeknowst to him, however, the broadcasts are being picked up all across town… and beyond, with the legend of Doomboy spreading like quickfire, and turning his simple life upside down.

I like the sound of the book- and I'm keen to see where it goes, but I like the look of it even more; Sandovals' watercolours, lines and style here remind me of Boulet in more subdued form, really wonderful. It's really good to see Magnetic continue to pick up these titles and bring them to wider attention, and I hope people will look into them- it's been nice to see this announcement picked up by a number of bigger comics sites and one would hope all the press translates into a portion of sales of some kind.

More preview pages under the cut.

Something pretty: Richard Thompson's complete Cul De Sac

I bought the complete slip-cased edition of Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac (gestures towards pictures), and statement of obviousness aside, I thought I'd do a quick photo post on the production and design aspects of it. Although I'm very much looking forward to doing so, I haven't read any of it yet; I like the idea of going completely unknown into a work, and not just any work, but a definitive version of said work, in this case, 5 years worth of newspaper strip cartoons, and am looking forward to the immersive experience of spending continuous time within that world- I'm not a dip in, dip out sort of reader. I only know of Thompson and Cul De Sac thanks to Tom Spurgeon's relentless championing of it over at The Comics Reporter, so on the other hand I purchased this solely on the strength of Tom's respect and appreciation of it (it's been on my periphery for a while due to him)- that, and an eventual search to view a couple of strips to see whether it'd be something I'd be interested in was enough to bring us here. Thompson is currently the co-subject of a 2-man exhibition at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Art Museum, alongside the great Bill Watterson, which belies the calibre of his work. Cul De Sac has as its protagonist the 4 year old Alice Otterloop, following her life at home and at school.

So, the two pictures above are the front and back of the slip-case. It contains 2 just-slightly-wider-than-A4 paperbacks- volume one and two, each running to 314 and 315 pages respectively, with a 5 page introduction by Art Spiegelman in the first book. The bright orange/blue/red/yellow colours look lovely- attractive and inviting, but the cardboard used for the covers isn't very durable or thick, which is what you look for in 'heritage' editions which you want to be long-lasting. The binding appears to be perfect bound with the covers glued on securely enough if you take care of them. I don't mean to sit here and be nit-picky, but I like my books to be able to take a bit of a battering and still be okay, scuffs and dents aside, especially when you're paying a princely sum of money for complete/absolute editions like these, and I'm not convinced by the covers here at all, really. The paperback covers are inset with a high shine, veneered, cream, inset image which is well-done and pops nicely against the background block of colour. The paperbacks have a nice heft to them, and are much more easily manageable size, and pleasant to flip through compared to some heavy hardback beasts- looking at you Calvin and Hobbes. A purported drawback could be that the strips are presented smaller, but that's not a problem here, with either 2 double-row strips or 3 single-row strips displayed on each page clearly (some in black and white, some in colour), giving the art plenty of room to breathe.

Front covers of the paperback volumes:

Back covers (An aside: I had trouble deciding which covers were the front and back when inserting the pictures here; I'm starting to get really dis-orientated theses days with which way books read, as stupid as that sounds. I've read and wrote Arabic and Urdu since I was a child which goes right to left, so I've never really had a problem reading Japanese comics that way, but I picked up a volume of Ghost in the Shell which was a 'flipped' left to right and my head actually dizzied in trying to wrap around the concept. I'm not sure why I'm starting to have difficulties with it now -I read Akira flipped and that was fine- but recently even with English language books something inside my head wants to start at the right):

Another disappointing aspect was the production on the slipcase- it's  generally solid, but I'm confused as to why the whole thing couldn't be cloth-bound instead of just the sides. Or if not cloth bound, something more substantial than the thin paper covering used here- as you can see from the picture below, the indentations where the paper's glued onto the cloth and the edges of it, is pretty visibly pronounced. This paper covering is going to succumb to any knocks and scuffs much more readily. I don't quite understand why you would scrimp when producing something like this- people tend to expect to pay a little more for absolute/ definitive editions anyhow, and the RRP on this is £57, even getting it at £45, you'd expect something that reflects a respect towards the first complete collation of Thompson's work. 

I'm not hugely bothered by it, but it does seem to be very poor practice- I always refer to the Hellboy library editions in instances like these, which are a feat of exquisite, quality book design- sturdy, stitched binding, cloth bound covers and cost a lot less than productions like this one. Granted, Dark Horse might have a bit more money to play with, and are aiming at a larger audience- than Andrews McMeel are with Cul De Sac, but surely you take into account costs which you intend to recuperate. It seems all the more incomprehensible because it's only a few small matters that could so easily be addressed, and yet in not doing so, it's resulted in the creation of a lesser product. 

Despite these niggles, flipping through the books has me more excited than ever to begin reading them (some time in June when I'm next free)- Thompson cartoons like a wry, restrained Quentin Blake and the few strips I've been unable to resist have been excellent. I'd enthusiastically recommend familiarising yourself with Thompson's work- there are a few different paperback editions around which would provide an ideal introduction.

Some interior pages and close-ups:

There's something Farel Dalrymple-y about the flying kid panel here

Tintin piece sets new world record for comic art

Ruminations on the increasing value and position of comics in the art world gained further consolidation this weekend after an original Herge Tintin piece sold for 2.5 million Euros at auction on Saturday, setting a new world record in the process. The piece, valued between 700,000-900,000 in the auction catalogue, dates back to 1937 and is signed by Herge himself. Interestingly, it isn't actually a page from the comics, but a double page spread (intended for end-paper purposes) of 34 inked Tintin drawings, featuring him and the ever-faithful Snowy, in various guises and situations, as seen in a number of his adventures. It was sold to an American collector after a period of frenzied bidding at French auction house Artcurial in Paris, shattering the record for the previous highest-selling piece of comic art -also held by Herge for the cover for Tintin in America (1932), which sold for 1.3 million Euros last June.

Comic art has rapidly been establishing itself as a force amongst at auction over the past decade, with collectors willing to pay huge prices for work, and prices multiplying in value as a result. The Tintin piece was part of a whole auction dedicated to Herge and his most famous creation, titled The Universe of the Creator of Tintin. This comes after French gallery Daniel Maghen's incredibly successful collaboration with renowned auction house Christie's earlier in March, which collated an unprecedented amount of original comics art from some of the medium's foremost masters- Moebius, Enki Bilal, Osamu Tezuka, Frank Frazetta, Mattotti, Franquin, and more, breaking 12 world records for high prices previously held by individual creators. That auction also pointed to the growing market for comics art, with buyers coming from all around the world; the Middle East and Asia, and 14 different countries in total, with the gallery also reporting that almost half were new customers in the original art market.

'This new world record confirms the place of cartoon art as a major art form,' said Artcurial's cartoon expert Eric Leroy. You can view all the pieces sold in the Artcurial auction via the exhibition catalogue, available online in pdf format here.


Friday, 23 May 2014

Raina Telgemeier's Sisters to receive 200,000 print run

An excellent, uplifting piece of news to bring in the weekend; Raina Telgemeier’s upcoming book, Sisters, a follow-up story to her hugely successful, Eisner-award winning Smile- which has now been on the Times bestseller list for over 100 weeks(!) - will be given an initial print run of 200,000 copies, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Telgemeier will support the book's release this August with a book tour. As huge as that number is, I've no doubt it will do enormously well- perhaps even eclipse Smile (which currently has over a million copies in print), now that Telgemeier's books have provided a built in audience and a greater awareness.

I'm in the process of writing about the success of Smile, but I think there's a few things that can be superficially gleaned here. One: the market for children's comics exists. That may seem obvious, but the number of comics publishers not looking to that area at all seems frankly daft to me. Two; I often hear people complain about the lack of comics suitable for children and I don't think that's true: there's not a great deal of serialised, monthly all-ages comics, but the book/graphic novel market is in pretty healthy shape- you only have to look to Toon Books, First Second, Papercutz, even D&Q more recently with the Pippi and Anna and Froga series to see the wealth of material around. 

Being in the UK makes it that bit more difficult to gauge; not only is the market in the US bigger with a more robust system of book and library fairs, events, but availability is also a problem- Scholastic's Graphix line has had no distributor here, Amazon aside, meaning bookshops are unlikely to stock it. I believe that may have changed recently, but the situation largely remains the same. But 200,000 for an all-ages comic-book! What an amazing achievement for Telgemeier; the kind of comics news that makes you glad to be a part of the medium.

Sisters will be published on August 26th. You can see a preview of it here, in Scholastic's Fall 2014 showcase.


Rotopol Press announce new Thomas Wellmann- Pimo & Rex: The First Eye

German publishers Rotopol Press released their 2014 catalogue earlier this week, and the book that immediately caught my eye- along with a new Nadine Redlich- was the second installment of Thomas Wellmann's Pimo and Rex. I absolutely loved the first book, released concurrently in English via UK publishers Blank Slate Books in 2013, and truly marking Wellmann's arrival on the comics scene after  a few smaller publications and contributions to various anthologies. This November sees the duo return for more adventures, with Rotopol set to release Pimo and Rex: Das Erste Auge (The First Eye) in German, and again hoping to publish simultaneous English and Spanish editions.

Pimo and Rex: The First Eye reunites the reader with the best friends- Pimo, a writer of artist temperament, and the more sedate Rex, a successful gourmet cook. Together, the two of them weather the everyday thick and thin of life, which in their case just also happens to include battling against magicians, necromancers, the undead and more, -although despite what the day may bring, they always make sure to find some time to party.

Having gotten engaged in the first volume, Rex is now planning to walk down the aisle with his beau Leopold, and has asked Pimo to be a groomsman, a role he's struggling with. The wedding promises to bring  all manners of trouble as Pimo finds his head turned by Margaret, his magical muse, and  a mysterious guest wanders amongst them. And as if that wasn't enough, the wily Yaya is plotting to steal the legendary 'first eye' a wand that promises the holder immortality...

This is yet another addition to my ever expanding list of 'books releasing in 2014 which I'm very excited about,' and if you'd like to see why, I'd highly recommend buying Pimo and Rex (available in English here, and German here) and basking in the glow of Thomas Wellmann's talents.

Here's a few sneak peek images Wellmann's been posting on his Tumblr blog (which is seriously one of the best out there- regular posts of various amazing art, illustration and projects) the one immediately below  is of Leo and Rex getting married, while the last one is a first look at the wily Yaya:

Comics & Cola: the curious tale of OK Soda

Last October, I started working at a comic book store. As I've mentioned before here, I feel pretty lucky that I live in a city which has not one, not two, but three, comic book shops, so apart from benefiting as a consumer, when I saw a part-time position advertised at OK Comics, I applied- I didn't need another job, but I wanted to know more about the business side of comics and comics in general, and thought this would be a way to facilitate that. While I'm still not convinced of my ability (or inherent lack thereof) to sell anything, I love being around comics, and I love working with the guys (who put up with a lot from me, God bless).

We were at work one morning, shooting the breeze, talking comics, talking this and that, and the name of the shop came up. 'OK Comics?' I said, 'Is that a dry, sort of ironic thing- they're not great they're not bad, but they're ok?' And then Jared proceeded to tell me a great story about the name's derivation, and how my blog had an inadvertent, serendipitous connection to the whole thing. It's a pretty cool story, an interesting, you-couldn't-make-it-up, slice of comics and popular culture, and I thought it'd make a nice bit of reading for a Friday, so here we go.

In 1993, Coca Cola, still feeling the after-effects of recession, made the decision to re-hire Mexican advertising guru, Sergio Zyman, as head of marketing for all the company's beverage brands, giving him the task of creating a new drink that would help Coke capture the highly-sought after Generation X  and Y demographics. Zyman's appointment was a surprising choice, mainly because he had been an integral player in the fiasco that was New Coke, a disastrous campaign that is still seen as the largest failure in Coke's advertising history, and one that almost bought the company to its knees (you can read about it here).

Nevertheless, Zyman decided the way to harness the attention and interest of these young misanthropes would be via something different- non--traditional, and so OK Soda was born -the name chosen after market research revealed Coke to be the second most recognisable word in the world, with first place going to 'ok'. In order to provide OK Soda with a distinctive look, Zyman bought on board Portland-based advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy (the people responsible for Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign), who turned to the world of alternative comics for inspiration, hiring some dudes called Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes to help create and design the look of the brand. What resulted was a dull silver grey and black aesthetic highlighted by the occasional burst of red- 6 can designs were produced, each one featuring the head-shot of a different figure, some more abstract than others, all rather grim-looking, staring directly out at the consumer. The 'OK' was placed in a stark white box outlined in a red border,  the  unremarkable black font again emphasising the concept of, well, 'ok,' and  oddly placed at the top left or right of the can.

It was released in conjunction with a similarly trying-too-hard to be off-beat marketing campaign, which included a non-descript slogan- 'Things are going to be OK,' setting up a hotline of 1-800-I-FEEL-OK to which people could phone up and leave messages that were sometimes used in the adverts themselves, and even a magical item called the OK Manifesto, the brain-child of written associate creative director Peter Wegner, a list of semi-philosphical musings of vague nothing-ness:

  • What’s the point of OK? Well, what’s the point of anything?
  • OK Soda emphatically rejects anything that is not OK, and fully supports anything that is.
  • The better you understand something, the more OK it turns out to be.
  • OK Soda says, “Don’t be fooled into thinking there has to be a reason for everything.”
  • OK Soda reveals the surprising truth about people and situations.
  • OK Soda does not subscribe to any religion, or endorse any political party, or do anything other than feel OK.
  • There is no real secret to feeling OK.
  • OK Soda may be the preferred drink of other people such as yourself.
  • Never overestimate the remarkable abilities of “OK” brand soda.
  • Please wake up every morning knowing that things are going to be OK.
Excerpts from the manifesto could be found replicated on the outside and inside of drink cans.

Unsurprisingly, the drink didn't do well; the beverage itself, essentially Coke with a more citrusy taste, received a luke-warm response, and the campaign a corresponding combination of confused and are-you-for-real reaction, which led to it being pulled from shelves in 1995. In retrospect, it sounds horribly cringe-worthy, an overt, overly affected, too-cool-for school attempt to get down with the kids, a fundamental lack of understanding your audience, coupled with a muddled and heavy marketing approach. The idea of under-selling something to a segment of audience who doesn't care or buy into advertising shilling huge, empty promises seems paradoxical, to say the least, but I can't help but think it has an element of crazy genius in there somewhere, and that it could have worked (Clowes and Burn's graphics are nicely distinct and striking, and the red and black and 'ok' feeds back into the Coke brand) had they kept it more focused and streamlined, and not overcooked it with things like the OK Manifesto. 

As these things seem to go- and certainly this seems to be a story perhaps more deserving of that status than others- OK Soda now has a cult reputation and following with cans, promotional material, posters, and even the 5/6 vending machines that were produced featuring the Clowes/Burns art selling on Ebay for big prices. And that, my friends, is the unlikely connection between one of the largest brands in the world and two of our finest comic creators. And the story of how OK Comics got a name. Which brings us full circle back to... Comics and Cola!

Here's a compilation of all the OK Soda TV commercials: