Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ci Vediamo

By Hazel Newlevant

The Xeric Awards were monetary prizes given out to comic book self-publishers from 1992 - 2012. Created by Peter Laird (co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), they probably gave out close to, if not over, a million dollars to hundreds of comics creators. They stopped last year, apparently due to the popularity of webcomics and creators using Kickstarter as a means to raise money to fund self-publishing. The Xeric Foundation now only gives out grants to charitable and non-profit organizations (and not comic book related ones as far as I could tell).

While I understand the appeal of Kickstarter, I was saddened by this news. I think the value of the Xeric awards was that they were providing funds for completed works (many Kickstarters are for uncompleted work), and for supporting books that might not find an audience immediately, even with the internet and Kickstarter. One thing Kickstarter has revealed is how few people artists actually need to support their projects. This is both cool in that their projects get funded, and weirdly frustrating in that it was so difficult to find an audience before. My friend has a Kickstarter that's just about to be fully funded (after about two weeks), and it has well under 100 backers. It's not for a huge amount, but it's probably the most she's ever made in one go on one of her own projects.

Newlevant was one of the final people to receive a Xeric award, and I'm both glad she got it, and glad I received a copy, as this is a beautiful book. You can't tell from the scan above, but the cover features cut outs of the two characters, with the actual black ink art being printed on a blue card stock "cover" underneath. The interior pages alternate a more "normal" paper with a semi transparent one. The transparent paper allows for shadows and silhouettes of the characters to move and disappear from page to page. It's a really cool effect!

To quote from the letter Newlevant included with this comic '"Ci Vediamo" is an Italian parting phrase meaning "We'll see each other."' The story is about two people who encounter each other on the street. The actual encounter is left to the reader's imagination, as it's represented through various plants (though I just had a total "oh shit" moment, as I flicked back through the pages and suddenly was able to see an image I hadn't realized was there), but it seems as though it doesn't end well for both of them.

As far as stories go this one isn't really that great, but it's the format in which it's told that really grabs your attention. I love the way the semi-transparent pages can change how an entire page looks once they overlap, and that "oh shit" page I mentioned above really impressed me. I went back and forth multiple times looking at pages before and after the additions of the silhouettes and shadows. It all looks really cool, and you couldn't get the same effect digitally.

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