August 31, 2006
Happy 60th Birthday, Rick Parker!
posted 3:50 pm PST
More Reaction to Tokyopop's Exclusives
As is usual with these kinds of stories, reaction throughout comics continues regarding American manga giant Tokyopop announcing that it will take some titles off of the retail market and sell them exclusively through their revitalized web site.
* an article by Chris Butcher we noted yesterday as an important initial response
has since then fostered a small but very contentious comments section. One notion that arises from those comments is that this move may be solely about the lack of response for certain titles in bookstores as opposed to comics shops, and that the Direct Market retailer is merely a casualty of a war for shelf space in those stores.
* as they tend do with such issues, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com is publishing retailer reaction as discrete articles: West Virginia's Robert Brown
and Sydney, Australia's J. Carmody
* three of you were nice enough to e-mail this piece by Bill Flanagan at Sensei's Ramblings
, which is probably as eloquent a piece sympathetic to Tokyopop's position as you're likely to read.
* this note I'm inserting after the rest was written: Dirk Deppey engages the issue
as his lead piece of analysis this morning and seems slightly sympathetic to Tokyopop's position as elaborated on by Flanagan. If I'm getting him right, he thinks that the decision by the majority of the Direct Market to have little or nothing to do with manga constitutes a further vote of no confidence in the material that like it or not, may cost the good stores in certain cases; but he further believes in a much more real-politik style motive behind the initiative than what Tokyopop claims. He also calls Tokyopop's Stuart Levy names, which is entertaining.
* helpfully, Johanna Draper Carlson surveys
on-line pundits: Dorian Wright seems to suggest
that DM retailer reaction may be more pull-the-plug than negotiate-individual-disappointments; Lyle Masaki notes that a key
to periodical comics like manga series is to make them easier not harder to find; John Jakala calls into question
the functionality of Tokyopop's plan.
* although on the surface it's completely unrelated, I think it's worth noting here the Cartoon Books press release
that they've blown through initial Direct Market orders of 20,000 on a seventh printing of the one-volume edition of Bone
. That's an example of a company recognizing comic shop retail as a distinct market and explicitly pursuing it rather than letting it wither and die as a casualty of trying to get on bookstore shelves.
* also unrelated is this note from retailer Brian Hibbs
about his store's investment in Lost Girls
; I think that speaks to the point of someone partnering with the Direct Market even though other, more direct sales channels -- in this case, hand to hand sales by Top Shelf at conventions -- were pursued as well. As I mentioned yesterday, the exclusivity element of this Tokyopop endeavor specfically confuses me.
* me, I'd like to wait for Chris Butcher to make his full case before I decide to weigh in or not, although you may be able to guess some of what I'm thinking from the above.
posted 9:35 am PST
Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Eli Wallach
As more evidence that the media's relationship to comics has changed almost 100 percent in recent years, the New York Sun
's Gary Shapiro provides a blow by blow
of a panel discussion Monday night at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art that wouldn't be out of place on a comics industry web site or message board two days after San Diego Con. The panel, in celebration of Arie Kaplan's Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed!
, seems to have started out by engaging the topic of comics' growth as an art form but most of the good details in Shapiro's report arise from the backstage, more business-related anecdotes.
posted 9:21 am PST
Dupuis Veterans Find New Positions
If I'm reading this article at ActuaBD.com
correctly, two veterans of the Dupuis publishing house that were involved in that company's ongoing management turmoil
since a change in ownership have found new jobs. Longtime Dupuis fixture Claude Gendrot will join the still sort of new Futuropolis
venture; Corinne Bertrand of Dupuis' Expresso
will work on the Quadrant Solaire
line at Soleil. Gendrot reportedly sent out letters
to various institutions and professionals regarding his move.
posted 9:07 am PST
Garrity: Modern Tales Longplay Returns
The flurry of late-summer activity in Joey Manley's section of the webcomics world continues with Editor Shaenon Garrity's announcement
of the return of the "Longplay" section at the Modern Tales site
. The free area hosts completed comics and long-running serials, like William G and Sahsha Andrade's It's About Girls
, seen above.
posted 8:56 am PST
PAX Hits Nearly 20K; Moving Downtown
The webcomics-focused site Comixpedia notes
an August 30th entry at the Penny Arcade site
that gives a final attendance figure for the gaming Expo spun off the popular webcomic of 19,323 (which I believe is double 2005's show) and announces a move into Seattle's downtown for 2007.
posted 8:45 am PST
Go, Look: Massive Postcard Gallery
posted 8:42 am PST
Canadian Cartoonist Marc Pageau Challenged on Holocaust Contest Entry
site has done a fine job tracking Canadian cartoonist Marc Pageau's involvement with the Holocaust Cartoon Exhibit currently on display in Tehran, ostensibly in response to the Danish Cartoons Controversy that began in Fall of 2005. This interview with Bryan Munn
on various subjects finds Pageau in forthright mode concerning his aims in entering and the ideas behind the show. This morning the site notes
a discussion on a message board in which Pageau participates. The interesting thing to me about the show is that it seems to me to have been portrayed as an exercise in one idea (tweaking the West's tolerance for Free Speech) while the reality of what's on display seems to embrace several (including Israeli policy concerning the Palestinians) -- not in a sneaky way, necessarily, but in the way all exhibitions take on different forms when they're assembled as opposed to the idea behind the assembling.
posted 8:23 am PST
Henry Jenkins' Outtakes: Comics Less A Medium Than A Form Of Expression
In two outtakes
from his Convergence Culture
made available on his blog, the writer Henry Jenkins looks at comics as an example of his theories
. In doing so he provides a snapshot of comics that's slightly different than what one usually sees from books tackling the subject. The main difference here -- and perhaps the primary value of what Jenkins writes -- is I think in seeing comics as existing in a state of change and trying to understand that collection of relationships as a whole rather than trying to break it down as competing models and one way of doing things coming to dominate another.
I'm not sure I agree with any of it, but the notions floated fascinate, and I find appealing the idea that comics should be seen far less often in terms of various dichotomies. For instance, some days I suspect comics is already well within its digital age and that this has little to do with the overthrow or even the decline of print.
I hope you'll read those two entries
thanks, Gus Mastrapa
posted 6:12 am PST
Patrick McDonnell Offers Katrina Series Print As Humane Society Fundraiser
Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist caught this
before I did: the cartoonist Patrick McDonnell is making available
a poster of a week's worth of Mutts
featuring a successful animal rescue in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It goes for $45, and a much larger version may be seen through the link. McDonnell also advocates on his site for a change in legislation so that pet owners won't have to leave behind their animals in any future disasters. The effort benefits the Humane Society, in which the cartoonist is actively involved.
posted 6:10 am PST
Go, Read: Richard Sala Interview
posted 6:06 am PST
Not Comics: Prominent Sites Relaunch
* The Comics Journal
and its highly regarded blog "¡Journalista!
" completed its ambitious re-launch Wednesday under the guidance of Dirk Deppey; this includes a new version of the infamous Comics Journal Message Board
as well as a number of recurring features.
* Alan Gardner's The Daily Cartoonist
has recently switched servers
. Gardner focuses on news items related to editorial cartooning and newspaper strips.
* Although not exclusively a comics site, or even mainly one, the popular site maintained by the writer Warren Ellis features a new look
* Gianfranco Goria's afNews
is in the process of a slow redesign
* Blog@Newsarama notes that Marvel.com has brought back message boards.
* Mike Baehr will redesign the Fantagraphics web site
posted 6:04 am PST
Comics To End In 2013
Next FBOFW Book Announced
Brad Meltzer Hits The Bay Area
Glenn McCoy Speaks In Missouri
Go, Listen: Agnes' Tony Cochran
Emo Boy Goes Choose Your Own
Prez Clay Bennett's AAEC Farewell
Missed It: Tour Of The Geppi Museum
Jacob Covey On Italian Horror Comics
Daryl Cagle On One-Name Cartoonists
TDLS Podcast: Tycho Interview Part Two
Becky Cloonan Interviewed By Chris Arrant
Friends Of Lulu Comics Anthology Wants You
Videogame Based on American Born Chinese
CB Confirms 20,000 One-Volume Bone Re-List
Marvel Previews New Universe Re-Do
; Other Stuff
List Of Marvel Covers Added To Stamp Announcement
August 30, 2006
Alan Moore, Lost Girls and JonBenet
Today's article profiling Alan Moore and Lost Girls in USA Today
is kind of mindbending if you think about it: a chat with the esteemed comics writer speaking in forthright fashion on his and Melinda Gebbie's formidable and filthy new project peeking out at a nation of readers amid the pie charts and Emmy post-party reports. It's a fine piece of its type, though, as are most articles on the very quotable Moore; he nails down his personal objection to the V For Vendetta
film in less than 50 words and there's even a tantalizing hint as to what's to come with the next League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
What may be stranger than the piece itself is the notion within it that Lost Girls
will be seen in the context of resurgent interest in the now long-ago murder of child pageant star JonBenet Ramsey. The writer also identifies the context of the V For Vendetta
movie as 9/11 rather than the London subway bombings that had a direct impact on the movie's release. Maybe that's how the movie was seen and the book will be seen, but I'm kind of doubtful.
is expected to drop to retailers over two weeks in mid-September.
posted 11:07 am PST
Go, Read: Jaime Hernandez Profile
The San Antonio Current profiles the cartoonist Jaime Hernandez
, coming off the heels of Ghost of Hoppers
and his "La Maggie La Loca
" feature in the New York Times Sunday Magazine
, both of which are filled with exquisite panel after exquisite panel. The Hollywood question comes up again in the piece, in the sense that while a deal isn't exactly on the table, or perhaps even likely, at least now there's a greater possibility of a deal that allowed the artist's sensibility to be put on screen, and not just his characters.
posted 10:47 am PST
ADL Accuses Arab Cartoonists of Depicting Jewish Control of UN, US
The Anti-Defamation League continues to delve into regional and international coverage surrounding the recent and tenuously paused Middle East conflict between Israel and militia forces in southern Lebanon. This time out their eyes are set on how the Arab media depicts Jews in control of the United Nations and the United States, with a summary article here
and copious examples posted here
. Before someone asks, I did try to look at some Israeli papers, but didn't have much success, so if someone knows of a place where the work of Israeli editorial cartoonists is summarized or analyzed, please let me know.
posted 6:08 am PST
OTBP: Big Fun Magazine
I bought the above at a comic book shop for half-price last weekend, expecting it to be some odd British effort from 1984 or something, and was surprised to find that it was almost brand-new
. The line-up in my issue (#3)
is Bert Christman, Leslie Turner, Warren Tufts and Frank Robbins: vibrant artists, none of whom could be expected to carry a magazine by themselves but together make for a formidable illustration art-showcase style battery. The presentation is nice, too: really simple, boldy-colored covers and an overall package that looks less like Comics Revue
and more like the Fantagraphics/Coconino Press Ignatz line.
Newspaper adventure strips aren't for everyone, and there's nothing transcendent about this work that would change a skeptic's mind. But for those familiar with the rhythms and approachs of a now nearly-nonexistent approach to comics, I have to imagine these would be nice additions to the library. Look at them first, though -- they look great to me, but I have little in the way of ability when it comes to discerning reproduction quality.
posted 6:07 am PST
Malaysia: Danish Cartoon Crackdown Set Dangerous, Presumptive Tone For Press
It comes on top of a fundraiser for the publication in which it appears, but this article
at Aliran Monthly
makes the case that actions taken by the Malaysian government against two newspapers in terms of their coverage of the Danish cartoons controversy
were the models for a series of actions through which the government controls the press, not to mention the self-censorship involved. I have no means to judge the truth of the situation described, but it's a chilling picture.
posted 6:06 am PST
Happy 63rd Birthday, Robert Crumb!
posted 6:05 am PST
Spider-Man In Newspapers: 44 Weeks
Michael Sangiacomo's article in the Plain-Dealer
about the copies of early Spider-Man
comics is the first place I've seen the nuts and bolts of the operation detailed: 22 issues published over 44 weeks, about a year skipping major holiday weekends. I mention this because the sustained exposure this project could have is a slightly different advertising model than a one-off of "here's a really old comic book" like I thought it might be.
posted 6:04 am PST
Happy 60th Birthday, Jacques Tardi!
posted 6:03 am PST
Chris Butcher of Comics.212.net on "Tokyopop's Increasingly Stupid Decisions"
The prominent blogger and trusted employee of the major retailer The Beguiling
Chris Butcher takes a shot across the bow
of yesterday's ICv2.com two
interview with Tokyopop's Mike Kiley about their direct sales exclusives. Butcher is a fierce advocate for positions shared by many in the Direct Market on issues like this one, so it should be interesting to see how this develops -- not just for the argument itself but for how it may embody a general reaction by retailers to Tokyopop's initiative.
One thing that stands out to me about Butcher's first response is that he states that the Tokyopop executive "equivocates out his ass" on the matters discussed. Agree with it or not, I thought Kiley's position on at least one thing was clear: selling books in existing series through their new web site may not make retailers happy, but the sales numbers are too low for it to cause great harm. If you ask me, the weaker part of the interview on a second read is the question left hanging of why exactly these efforts need to be exclusive
in order to serve this burgeoning web audience, a question that isn't asked or answered. It's not exactly my area of expertise, admittedly.
* Anime on DVD Forums
* Bill Flanagan
* Brigid Alverson
* David Welsh
* David Taylor at Love Manga
* Retailer Ed Sherman
posted 6:02 am PST
BBC News Dissects The 9/11 Report
You know how you're watching an American network news show, say about Hurricane Katrina, and the footage of Charlie Gibson or whomever on a French Quarter balcony and multiple features on food and music confuses the crap out of you and then you turn to the BBC's nightly newscast and while it still has all the shortcomings of television news it at least seems somewhat engaged with some semblence of real issues? That's sort of how I feel reading this article on The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
after a week of scanning dozens of stateside reactions to same. The writer is generally positive, but he diligently finds both quality moments and shortcomings in the choices made by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
, not in some perceived bias against comics or a misunderstanding of how the medium works and for whom. He even recognizes the straightforward approach taken by the veteran pair as just that -- an approach with advantages and disadvantages as realized -- not a morally superior wave of the hand that sidesteps elements of artistic emphasis.
Not every comic is a litmus test on "comics," and it's been refreshing to read someone engage the work itself in a reasonable, measured way. What's more important than who reads this acknowledged hit and why and how many of them there are is what they're getting out of it.
posted 6:01 am PST
Dean Haspiel Told Me About This Comic
posted 6:01 am PST
Moomins Connect Countries
Jon Benet Commentary Cartoon
PWCW: Anthologies in TPB Format
Calvin Reid Interviews Stuart Levy
Local Cartoonist Profile: Ben Gibson
Preview of Presidential Doodle Book
Not Comics: John Byrne v. Peter David
Katrina Anniversary Cartoons Beat on Bush
Dayton College Kids Make Room For Cartoon
Comic Strips Part of Urban Landscape Art Project
Comics-Related Free Speech Resources For Librarians
McDonnell Nominated for 3rd Humane Society Board Term
August 29, 2006
Bring On The Book Publishers
No one should be surprised that the Sacramento Bee's look at the Fall season in books
would include Marisa Acocella Marchetto's Cancer Vixen
from Knopf. As I understand the work, it's a longform comic, a memoir, a survival story, and a portrait of a woman's life in New York -- areas of exploration and expression all of which have yielded successful bookstore offerings over the last ten years. The release becomes worth noting, I think, in that this is one of a group of comics-format books that were signed in the more traditional book publishing way as opposed to being translated works (Marjane Satrapi), or work that's been successful in another format (Brian Fies) or narrative work solicited from talent that's proven itself in other comics' arenas or in serial form (Chris Ware), or even high-concept packages (Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon). Cancer Vixen
feels more like a book that happens to be a comic than just about anything seen so far, and from a perspective where one had grown used to major publisher releases bearing comics culture pedigrees, it seems like something totally different.
I know this should be "Bring on the Agented Submissions" or something like that, but I'm just that fond of alliteration
posted 12:15 pm PST
New York Times: On the Ground At Iran's "Holocust" Cartoon Exhibit
The New York Times surveys the Holocaust Cartoon exhibit in Tehran
and comes away with some doubts that people are going to see what was billed as a test of the West's free speech permissibility in response to the publication of Muhammed cartoons in the Copenhagen paper Jyllands-Posten
last Fall and subsequent protests and political turmoil in exactly those terms. It's the details that kill here: the misspelling of "Holocaust" on one of the exhibit's signs, the more expansive view of the show's meaning as described by a participating artist, the reaction of the sole Jewish member
of the Iranian parliament, and the laconic response of locals when asked if they were in a hurry to attend.
posted 12:02 pm PST
Go, Bookmark: Re-Launched NACAE Site
The National Association of Comic Art Educators (NACAE) has entereed into an agreement with Diamond's educational e-mail newsletter Diamond Bookmark
for the inclusion of NACAE content in future releases. Even better for most of us, the same press release indicates that the group's web site
has re-launched with study guides, lesson plans and similar offerings. The first batch up at the site right now includes a Tom Hart lesson plan for Chester Brown's Louis Riel
, right down to the Little Orphan Annie
strips included for comparison's sake (pictured).
posted 11:46 am PST
Michael Riley, 1924/5-2006
The Toronto Star is reporting
that Michael Riley, an artist on one of the homegrown Canadian "whites"
that became popular among Canadian youth during World War II as American comic books had become a restricted item in 1940, died August 19 at age 81. The article states that Riley was best known for a jungle-queen character named Terena, an obscure-enough feature I'm unable to find any evidence of the character or a comic by that name. After leaving comics, Riley worked for years in commercial art. He is survived by two sons and four grandchildren; he was preceded in death by his wife in 2004.
posted 11:07 am PST
E&P: Clay Bennett of the AAEC Looks Back on a Tumultuous Year as Prez
David Astor at Editor & Publisher talks to departing Association of American Editorial Cartoonists President Clay Bennett
about his year in office, which turned out to be a busy one. Astor and Bennett
look at essentially five issues that marked Bennett's time in office: administrative hassles with the yearl convention, the Association's web presence upgrade
(as I recall they used to have a less elegant web presence as a sub-domain on a Michigan-based site), the continuing loss of editorial cartoonist staff positions in the newspaper industry, Tom Toles being criticized by the joint chiefs of staff, and, of course, the Muhammed cartoons controversy from earlier this year.
The interview's most surprising revelation is that Bennett says he left the organization's point-man position on the Muhammed cartoons to other high-profile members because he didn't want to further endanger the life of his Christian Science-Monitor
colleague Jill Carroll
, a reporter held by kidnappers at the time of the riots and political turmoil swirling around the cartoons. I had no idea.
becomes the new president on September 1.
posted 10:44 am PST
The Last San Diego Con Interview
Indulge me on this one. I know that July's Comic-Con International is probably the last thing on anyone's mind at this point, but I wanted to get a follow-up interview with CCI's representative David Glanzer
up on the site after everything settled down because of my frustration when reporting on the 2006 show in getting my hands on information and quotes from a high-quality but scattered battery of immediate-reaction type news stories. I think there's some new information here, but best of all, I know where it is.
posted 10:28 am PST
Another Reason to Enjoy This Fall
It looks like Dylan Horrocks will get another comic out this calendar year.
posted 9:55 am PST
ICv2.com: Tokyopop's Web Exclusives
The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com takes a look at Tokyopop's new on-line efforts, specifically its decision to offer a combination of new titles and ongoing series as on-line exclusives, through a feature
and an interview with Publisher Mike Kiley in two parts
Kiley admits that the company has little to no idea if the effort will work or to what extent it may work if it does, and deflects the retailer investment criticism -- that stores have built up a readership for certain titles that they are now losing to Tokyopop.com -- by pointing at the bottom line sales of those series and saying: "I'm not aware of anything in the existing ongoing series category for which any retailers that I know of are going to be put into a situation of hardship by losing those particular books. That's no knock on anyone; it's just admission of financial reality." Kiley further points to the idea that shelfspace is limited and certain series are just not being served by the current marketplace.
According to the interview, the program should top out at about three or four releases a month for the "forseeable future."
posted 9:09 am PST
Go, Look: KARcomics Galleries
I sure hope the above isn't some assemblage of ethnic insults of which I'm completely unaware.
posted 9:02 am PST
Long-Running Fourth Rail Closes
But Comic Pants Review Site Opens
Why This Guy Fake Hates Gail Simone
Brian Wood's DMZ Background Materials
Not Comics: FL Con Nails Down Guest List
Eisner Bio Interview Series: Gary Chaloner
Jerusalem Post on Balm of Gilead Aid Effort
Rudy Ascott Profiles DC's Minority Characters
Lalo Lopez Focus of PBS Documentary Episode
More Science Behind The (Superhero) Comics
Site Claims Comics Mainstream Media Acceptance
Tania Willard's Aboriginal Suicide Comic Hits News Again
August 28, 2006
Iranian Cockroach Cartoon Editor Acquitted; Cartoonist Still Being Held
According to a story that hit the wires this morning
, the newspaper editor Gholamhossein Islamifard has been acquitted of charges of "creatiing division among sects of society" and "insulting the Azeri-speaking people." Islamifard was the editor of the Tehran daily Iran
that in a weekly supplement Iran Friday
on May 12 published a cartoon by Mana Neyestani
featuring a cockroach speaking in the language of the Azeri minority, a group that make up nearly 25 percent of the total population and live in great numbers in Iran's northwestern Azerbijan province. This resulted in days of protests in that region, including rioters setting fire to buildings and at least one report of four people dying. This led to the firings of the cartoonist and an editor, the state-run paper being shut down and the eventual arrest of Islamifard and Neyestani. Neyestani still awaits trial while being held in the notorious Evin prison, and the paper has been suspended since May 23.
There are a couple of things odd about today's developments. One is that name of the detained editor was previously given as Mehrdad Qasemfar. This could have been a misidentification of the paper's editor in chief as opposed to the editor actually jailed. The second is that the ban on the newspaper was supposedly lifted in June
although some of what I'm reading today indicates a ban might still be in effect -- perhaps the newspaper was simply not re-established after the ban was lifted.
TCJ.com's Dirk Deppey caught this as well
: last Friday the human rights organization Amnesty International recognized
Ali Khodabakhshi, one of many Iranian-Azerbaijani figures detained after the unrest in late May and early June, as a person of concern in terms of his treatment while in custody.
posted 2:08 pm PST
Jack Kirby Born 89 Years Ago Today
Jack Kirby, the sublimely talented comics artist and industry great whose career spanned and frequently drove the first 50 years of the American comic book's existence, not to mention a creator of pop culture as significant as anyone who lived in the 20th Century, was born 89 years ago today.
Mark Evanier remembers.
Kevin Church remembers.
posted 1:39 pm PST
Lost Girls Orders Exceed First Printing
Chris Mautner at the Harrisburg Patriot-News
looks into Top Shelf's publishing effort regarding the release of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls
, with an indication that initial orders of the strongly sexual, elaborately designed project have matched the first printing, meaning the book is already into its second printing before
its formal drop date.
Asked to clarify when the book was coming out and be available in stores, co-publisher Brett Warnock passed along this note from Top Shelf co-publisher Chris Staros: "Diamond has them (Lost Girls
) now, so they should hit stores by Sept 6th, and then another batch on Sept 13th, and then the 2nd printing in Mid-October (as I suspect that the first printing will sell out within a couple of days)."
The first two printings together will apparently cost Top Shelf around $300,000, says the Patriot-News
piece. Mautner also talks to local retailers: four of five plan to carry the book, one is waiting for a customer to request it (a reaction which is to be expected due to the cost of the item), and none have decided to pass on ordering the book because of fears of legal hassles or personal concerns concerning its content.
Mautner's review of the work can be found here
; part one of a long interview with Alan Moore that ran in the newspaper in some form but isn't yet up on the web site can be found on Mautner's blog, Panels and Pixelsl
; Mautner's personal observations on how the Lost Girls
suite of articles was used by his paper are here
posted 1:01 pm PST
NY Times: Focus on Christian Strips
In this week's New York Times
Week in Review section, John Leland looks at Kevin Frank's Heaven's Love Thrift Shop
, a new effort from King Features Syndicate
by a Christian cartoonist which deals with issues of God and faith important to the cartoonist, and, one hopes, a sizeable number of readers. Also profiled are Guy Gilchrist, who does a strip called Your Angels Speak
, previous attempts to deal with those subjects in the paper, including setbacks experienced by Mr. Frank and Mr. Gilchrist, and the general resistance the newspaper strip has had to such strips over the years.
The good news for all of these folks is that times have changed to the extent that the New York Times
is doing an article on the launch of a comic strip, which as a writer for the defunct Christian-themed strip Jay Kennedy mentions seems astonishing. The potentially not-as-good news is that the launch figure for Frank's feature
was 15 papers -- which is certainly a number that can be built on, even in these tough times for strip space, but isn't a number that conveys any advantage to Frank in finding a voice or much room to potentially lose clients if more readers in those markets complain than back the work.
posted 12:34 pm PST
Not Comics: Anime/Manga Fans Exist at the Bottom of the Geek Status Ladder?
I've never seen in action the argument the Toronto Star
makes that anime/manga fans are looked down upon by older, more traditional geeks
, but I guess it could be so. When I worked in comics in Seattle in the late 1990s there seemed to be a certain Samuel-Beckett-style venom the Seuling Con Era comics readers had for players of table-top role-playing games, of which there were many in town at the time. The only general convention I've ever attended is Comic-Con International in San Diego, and while the older fans there seemed frequently peeved at the inconveniences of the larger crowds, they appeared mostly befuddled by the anime/manga crowd specifically, many of the men muttering something along the lines, "They have girls... we never had this many girls..."
At any rate, I wanted to link this up for the opening anecdote: "In 2004, former [Taiwanese] president Lee Teng-hui dressed up as the stubborn kendo master Heihachi Edajima from a popular Japanese comic book series Sakigake!! Otokojuku. With flowing martial arts robes, bamboo sword and sidekicks in tow, Lee strutted his stuff for publicity pictures." I always liked that story, and the picture of the politician at his wikipedia site
, so I'll take this excuse to mention it here.
posted 12:08 pm PST
Happy 50th Birthday, Benoit Peeters!
posted 9:50 am PST
Not Comics: Initial PAX Buzz Mostly Positive; Videogame Series Planned
I've heard from a dozen or so readers that this year's Penny Arcade Expo
, a gaming convention in Bellevue, Washington established by the popular on-line gaming-culture strip, was well-attended and seemed to have been a hit. I've read nothing official yet, but the photos from their site
indicate a bustling crowd and perhaps a need for a bigger convention hall.
Most of the news out of the show has focused either on perceived gamer reaction to the price point on the forthcoming Playstation 3 and the announcement
that the Penny Arcade
strip will itself serve as the basis of a videogame
, from Hothead Games, beginning with one to be called Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. Maybe the nicest bit of news to come out of the show was that the Penny Arcade
team will give a $10,000 scholarship
to a student aspiring to work in the game industry. Joystiq's dedicated coverage
includes a story on how today's Penny Arcade
strip was drawn at the Expo.
The reason why all of this becomes noted here is that working with business manager Robert Khoo, cartoonists Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins have been leveraging their on-line comic into an increasingly lucrative position within the field covered and satirized in the strip. This is something I can't remember happening since the newspaper strip Dilbert
, and something I think is unique within the growing field of webcomics.
posted 9:09 am PST
Happy 35th Birthday, Joann Sfar!
posted 8:52 am PST
Local Cartoonist Profile: Orlando Harding
Interview With Platinum's Scott Rosenberg
Star-Bulletin On Manga-Stylized Franchises
Bubblr Among Mashup Enabler Applications
A Week From Friday: Manga Night In Glasgow
Missed It: Dave Sim At Night Flight For CBLDF
Comic Book Creator For Videogame Snapshots
Profile Of Wuthering Heights: The Graphic Novel
You Must Become Acquainted With Harvey Pekar
Editorial Cartoon Satire Outstripped By Real Life?
Piciarello: 9/11 Report A Boon For Graphic Novels
Cartoonist Wants To Raise Millions Via His Web Site
Cartoons Depict President Out Of Touch With Reality
Library Trends: GN Adaptations, Manga, Cine-Manga
Geppi Museum Curator: Working Hard Before Opening
Canemaker Further Nails Down Winsor McCay's Legacy
August 27, 2006
Happy 60th Birthday, Denis Kitchen!
posted 9:00 am PST
CR Sunday Magazine
A Short Interview With Ed Brubaker
Please Oh Please Someone Do This Promotion At San Diego Next Year When I'm Around to Watch It
* Mike Sterling has some sort of odd Black Hole fan-made movie trailer up
that's probably 100 years old and already seen by everyone, although I can't remember watching it before. I made it to about 0:43.
* Joel Meadows of Tripwire
fame has moved his blog to here
* I wanted to download a piece of art from Ed Brubaker's MySpace page
, so I had to put one up myself
. I'm not one for networking, but if a few of you out there could friend me up and save me from having a sad-looking friends profile consisting solely of the most aggressive MySpace whores, if only so my brother would stop making fun of me, I'd surely appreciate it.
* If you want a MySpace-related item that's actually useful, go look at Jason Rodriguez's list of retailer and independent bookstore profiles.
* I haven't listened to it yet, but the Comics Interpreter
has a new episode up
of its podcast Pyrrhic Victories
* Several people sent me a link to this speech balloons article
, but I somehow never managed to post it during the week.
Go, Look: Out Our Way
JR Williams' Out Our Way
has a lingering reputation as a comics panel that was so indicative of "life as lived" at the time that it was frequently clipped and put up by readers that saw themselves and their experiences in it jokes and situations. What interests me, though, is that this strip was done long enough ago that I honestly don't recognize half of them I've read as anything that speaks to my own life: it works for me less frequently as musings on how we're all the same as people 70-80 years ago than a window into a past that's totally different.
Go, Read: Interview With Eric Reynolds
First Thought of the Day
My new theory is that people that say they don't like The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
simply don't like The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
posted 7:38 am PST
August 26, 2006
CR Week In Review
The top comics-related news stories from August 19 to August 25, 2006:
1. Muhammed cartoons: the riots have ended, the ill feelings continue.
2. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation rolls out
to big-time publicity and big-time initial sales.
3. Cold Cut dumps
their tiered ordering system.
Winner of the Week
That new 9/11 Report graphic novel adaptation. Despite taking a few brutal shots from the critics, sales look great.
Loser of the Week
The Quills, an awards program with a TV show and a graphic novels category that somehow got to the announcement stage before someone realized
that one of the graphic novels nominated was a prose book. Not the dumbest thing we ever heard of, though.
Quote of the Week
"I don't take drugs anymore. I knew a guy who couldn't remember his wife's face." -- Jim Woodring
that pig sure has the right idea
posted 7:00 am PST
Happy 86th Birthday, Brant Parker!
posted 6:00 am PST
August 25, 2006
Site Notes Potentially Offensive Jesus Cartoons in the UVA Student Newspaper
A site called RedState
, which by the name I assume skews to the American conservative, has drawn attention to a pair of comics
by a student cartoonist named Grant Woolard in a feature called Quirksmith
that runs in the University of Virginia newspaper. This interests me because 1) student newspapers were a hopping center of debate and boundary-pushing during last school year's controversy surrounding the Prophet Muhammed cartoons
, and 2) because many political observers feel that conservatives will beat the culture wars drum as loud as they can this Fall with mid-term elections coming.
You can see the offensive cartoons by scrolling down here
. Strangely, the feature above Quirksmith
featured Jesus one of those days and didn't get mentioned. That one came much closer to making me laugh, so maybe there was a humor dispensation.
posted 12:06 pm PST
SLG Offers 69-Cent Digital Comics
Digital versions of print comics are nothing new, but the difference between most efforts and this newly-announced endeavor from Slave Labor
is that these are comics put up for sale in their on-line store
as opposed to free content designed to drive readers to print efforts, such as Marvel and DC have tried. Included in this initial suite of comics for sale are Super-Scary Monster Show
issues #1-3, and Emo Boy
issues #1-2, with Pirate Club
promised at a future date. With a single exception, the comics will require downloading a comics-viewing application.
posted 11:45 am PST
Not Comics: Jef Czekaj Putt-Putt
Peggy Burns of Drawn and Quarterly
passed along some links related to a miniature golf project
organized by the cartoonist Jef Czekaj
in Somerville, Massachusetts. I post them here for your Friday-afternoon-in-August reading pleasure.
* photos of holes on the course
* kid trying to play Czekaj-designed hole
* cartoonist Tom Devlin painting
* cartoonist Kurt Wolfgang art
* Kurt Wolfgang and family
posted 11:33 am PST
Capital City Was Sold 10 Years Ago
Not today or anything -- it actually happened in July of 1996 -- but this note about a yearly gathering of former Capital City Distribution employees, or "Capitalistas,"
made me do the Little Rascals head bob and surprise face this morning in realization it's been ten years since the birth of the one-distributor dominant Direct Market. What had been a slow consolidation of distribution agencies as Direct Market comics sales swelled in the '80s and early '90s become a rush of horror-movie decisions when Marvel decided briefly to distribute itself and DC made a business decision to enter into an agreement with Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. Final major competitor Capital City's sale to Diamond was the Berlin Wall Coming Down of that time in comics: not the most important moment, but the most symbolic of an era's end.
It's worth noting that the sale was actually done in a way where Capital's accounts with publishers were assumed and therefore the bottom half of the industry didn't immediately collapse. This may seem from today's vantage point like a no-brainer for Diamond, but the period preceding the Capital sale was an era of weird, self-immolation style decision-making. Against that backdrop it looks positively enlightened.
posted 10:57 am PST
Hirings, Firings: Marts, Gassere, Etc.
* Newsarama reports
that Marvel Editor Mike Marts is making the move across town to become a Senior Editor at DC Comics. The article notes that Marts is the first Senior Editor hire of the Dan Didio era at DC. I think it may be worth making a historical note of the move from Marvel's standpoint, as a real strength of the initial post-bankruptcy Joe Quesada era at the publishing company was locking down a second line of editors that were trusted and liked by the creative community.
* With the new TCJ.com
launching this evening, one would assume that former TCJ
managing editor and new Tucsonite Dirk Deppey, longtime TCJ
News Editor Michael Dean and perhaps even Fantagraphics/TCJ
employee Kristy Valenti have all officially taken new titles with the company, if not simply new tasks.
* Jose-Louis Bocquet will edit the Aire Libre line
* Newspaper comic strip force Universal Press Syndicate announced a series of internal promotions
, affecting a number of longtime employees.
* Anne Gassere will become Managing Editor at the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com
, a position created for the one-time Capital City Distribution employee.
posted 10:34 am PST
Go, Read: Never As Bad As You Think
I'm probably the last person to pick up on Stuart and Kathryn Immonen re-launching a webcomic
at Stuart's site. As noted by Sequential
, Stuart Immonen is a high-profile illustrator in terms of print work, so his pursuing this kind of project might be considered news in and of itself. I just sort of like the way it looks.
As punishment for my being so late, I'll defer to Sequential
or The Beat
for an explanation of the strip's genesis and rebirth.
posted 10:16 am PST
Not Comics: NYCC Space Limited
The second annual New York Comic-Con
, February 23-25, 2007 at the Javits Center
, has sold out of its retailer/dealer space and is 90 percent at capacity for its remaining exhibition space, the show announced yesterday via press release.
Last February's inaugural event, the first widely-endorsed, event-type show to hit the city since perhaps the long-ago days of the 1970s or early 1980s when everything convention-related was a lot more modest, suffered after a firestorm of attendance overwhelmed show capacity and organizers' ability to handle the crush of bodies. This is a much nicer problem, although the release indicates the Reed Exhibitions
event will seek additional space.
posted 10:03 am PST
Not Comics: Big Year Expected for PAX
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer previews
this weekend's Penny Arcade Expo
, the gaming convention in Bellevue Washington helmed by the Penny Arcade
team of creators Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik and business manager Robert Khoo. The article says the convention could be attended by as many as 17,000 people, which would double last year's attendance. Although the article gets some of its energy by pointing to gaming industry speculation about which shows might benefit from a more modest E3 convention, the article does go into the show as a successful extension of the strip's themes and, one assumes, a profitable execution of the company's business plan.
Lea Hernandez Interviews Tycho.
There can't be two Tychos.
posted 9:49 am PST
Happy 59th Birthday, Michael Kaluta!
posted 9:43 am PST
Rumor: New OGN Publisher Imminent?
I apologize if this is already well-known or if it's easy to figure out from existing information -- I don't track rumors and hype-driven announcements all that closely. But this note from writer Chris Allen's blog
caught my eye:
"Speaking of music, one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the world is getting into original graphic novels directly, and I am in consideration to write one or more of them, which is really effing cool. It's music-related; that's all I'll say for now."
posted 9:20 am PST
Athletic Trainers Laud Bleachers
Vietnam's History in 200 Episodes
Graphic Novels in Moscow (Idaho)
Tim Kreider on Nightline Last Night
Local Cartoonist Profile: Steve Ryan
Star-Gazette on the Comics Western
801 Giving Fans The One They Want
Not Comics: Doug Marlette's Second Novel
Fangoria Profiles New Bob Fingerman Book
Kapur Interview in Support of Virgin Comics
Paul Saint's Art About Remembering Comics
Post Office Appearances Beneath Big Three?
Mary Worth Makeover Article Hits Syndication
Beetle Bailey Makes Editorial Guest Appearance
Not Comics: Comics Fan Surveys Comics Movies
Better Learning Through Barks, Goscinny, Herge, Gonick
August 24, 2006
Marvel's 2007 Stamp Series Line-Up?
Let the Marvel Value Stamp jokes begin! From the Virtual Stamp Club's discussion boards
through Gary Dunaier at MoCCA comes word of which Marvel characters will be appearing on the 2007 stamps, a series expected since DC is doing one right now. The line-up:
The Incredible Hulk
Spider-Woman? So much for that marriage bump for Storm.
posted 7:46 pm PST
New Dave Sim Project?
thanks to all that e-mailed
Larry Young Replies in Letters
posted 4:32 pm PST
Joe Sacco, Rock and Roll, and the Current Comics Publishing Landscape
Natalie Nichols' profile of the cartoonist Joe Sacco
through his most recent collection But I Like It
is smart and revealing. It looks into Sacco's days making comics on rock and roll and manages to contrast that work with his later work as a cartoon journalist but also dissects the rock comics in question on their own merits. Just getting the George Orwell comparison out of Sacco would have been worth a feature article, as far as I'm concerned.
The article and Sacco's book point to elements of the current publishing scene worth noting as well. With this Sacco book and the forthcoming Love & Rockets
re-releases, Fantagraphics seems to be letting changes in the market influence how they repackage the work of various artists for new audiences, which seems a smart way to go and a far cry from the "let's publish it and see if anyone shows up" landscape of years ago. Also, the article notes that this collection features comics from when Sacco was doing his solo book Yahoo
, a reminder of how important it was for a lot of the current creme of the art-comics crop to have solo books in which to try new approaches and follow various muses while at the same time producing a lot of pages.
Steven Grant notes the Crumb influences in his positive review of the same book.
posted 2:14 pm PST
Maximo Carvajal, 1935-2006
According to afNews
, the Chilean cartoonist Maximo Gorki Carvajal Belmar
died on Monday. Carvajal claimed to have learned to read with comic strips, and after studying in Vina del Mar and Santiago found his first work in comics while making ends meet as a factory worker. Greatly influenced by Milton Caniff, Carvajal ran the first magazine in Chile to publish work all of which was illustrated by Chileans. He became a prolific illustrator of adventure stories for such magazines as Vistazo
and El Mercurio
. He later worked in science fiction, war and horror before moving into animation late in life. According to what I can get out of this long tribute
, he may have been best known in certain circles for his work on the signature character Dr. Mortis
, while the afNews article noted his enthusiasm for and outreach to the younger generations of Chilean cartoonists.
posted 1:45 pm PST
Go, Bookmark: Making Comics Tour
As has been discussed here, Scott McCloud and his family are doing a segmented, year-long driving tour
through all 50 states in order to publicize the third in the cartoonist's series of comics about comics, Making Comics
. I think it's worth bookmarking the official tour blog
as they count down, if only that the nature of the effort seems to speak to few comics marketing truisms: the efforts of individual artists to promote their works in as many unique ways as they can dream up, the importance of on-line efforts to involve as many people as possible, and the effectiveness that many cartoonist have found that comes with selling their work in person or at least in close proximity.
posted 1:35 pm PST
Go, Read: ImageTexT 3.1 Articles
If you like your comics filtered through a healthy dose of academia, then ImageTexT release day must be a big day in your household. This is a web magazine dedicated to comics scholarship run out of the longstanding major player in the world of comics studies, the University of Florida. The front page can be found here
, but maybe I can entice you with a direct link or twelve.
* Reading the Illustrations of Jules Verne's Voyages extraordinaires: The Example of Le Superbe Orenoque, Terry Harpold
* The Exotic Other Scripted: Identity and Metamorphosis in David Mack's Kabuki, Jim Casey and Stefan Hall
* Desire without Closure in Jaime Hernandez' Love and Rockets, Esther Saxey
* Architectural Grounding in Miller's Elektra: Temporality and Spatiality in the Graphic Novel, Renee Tobe
* Imagining Terrorists before September 11: Marvel's GI Joe Comic Books, 1982-1994, Christopher Norlund
* Yorick, Don't Be A Hero: Productive Motion in Y: The Last Man, Lyndsay Brown
* Drawn to Extremes: The Use and Abuse of Editorial Cartoons by Chris Lamb, Michael Mayne
* Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture ed. Sherrie A. Inness, Ione Damasco
* The Gospel According to Superheroes: Religion and Popular Culture ed. B.J. Oropeza, James Fleming
* Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture by Bart Beaty, Tof Eklund
* Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, and Their Fans by Jeffrey A. Brown, Lelac Almagor
* Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, Philip Sandifer
I wish these kinds of programs had been around way back when. I once used Gilbert Hernandez's treatment of Frida Kahlo's lifestory in a survey paper on approaches to Latin American historical biography and the next Wednesday I was caned during halftime of a basketball game.
posted 1:28 pm PST
Happy 40th Birthday, Keith Knight!
posted 1:15 pm PST
TCJ.com Offers Re-Launch Test Site
Go help Dirk Deppey with his re-launched TCJ.com
by going here
and commenting on what you've seen.
posted 12:50 pm PST
Jim Woodring Speaks, Draws, Endorses
* A brief interview.
* Jim Woodring's blog
, stuffed with great art and soaked in the artist's unique sensibility.
* Eric Reynolds on Woodring and the Moleskine notebooks.
* Jacob Covey on Turbo Teen
posted 9:40 am PST
Grant Morrison: Best Interviewee Ever
It's really rare for me to link to an interview with a creator talking about a specific comic book series
. Of course, very few of those creators doing specific comic book series are Grant Morrison
, who, in the midst of more standard talk about the Joker and the Batmobile, can summon up the goods to hilariously carpet bomb another creator's project, as in this comment on Frank Miller
's upcoming Batman vs. Al Qaeda comic book:
"Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it's likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I'd be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb 'vs' Al Qaeda."
Even if you love Miller's work and hate Morrison's, you have to admit that's pretty funny.
Ben Schwartz Replies In Letters
Gerry Alanguilan Replies In Letters
posted 9:10 am PST
Happy 65th Birthday, Jim Scancarelli!
posted 8:34 am PST
Never Underestimate Manga
Comic Book Bin on Meat Cake
Vancouver Loves Alison Bechdel
Porcature Artist Grew Up on Comics
Local Cartoonist Profile: Aaron Shaps
I Know Women Who Like Judge Dredd
Not Comics: Rogue Trooper Videogame
Women Of Comics and Illustration Exhibit
Nick Anderson: Out of Date and Proud of It
August 23, 2006
Tracking 9/11 Graphic Novel Reaction
A cross-section of media reaction to the release of The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
and its on-line serialization.
* Slate continues its serialization.
* The creators on the Today show.
* CBS News takes note.
* Mark Evanier introduces the serialization to his readers; promises further discussion later.
* Ethan Heitner at TomPaine.com looks to see if it's a good comic -- he doesn't seem to think so.
* PW's The Beat notes leap in Amazon.com sales.
* KWWL has the Eastern Iowan reaction.
* Whitney Matheson enthuses.
* TCJ messageboard grouses.
* Wonkette continues to kick project in the groin.
posted 12:32 pm PST
Flemming Rose to Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi: Dialogue Needed
I missed a couple of elements about Sunni Muslim authority Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi's statements in an interview at Berlingske Tidende
that the Muslim world had not forgotten the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed that ran in the paper Jylland-Posten
, and that the paper should be closed and the editor jailed. One was that he suggested that another editor, Flemming Rose, be depicted as a pig. The other is that Rose repolied
by suggesting that the thought that being depicted as a pig as punishment indicates a need for dialogue in that few members of the Western World would think being depicted as a pig all that bad a thing.
posted 11:52 am PST
UK Manga Cover Art Plagiarism Claim
Barring a massive attempt to slam someone by doctoring upload times, this claim that a cover for an anthology called MangaQuake
came from an earlier piece of art seems like a pretty straightforward deal to me
; it's worth noting for the methodology involved and the fact that if true as seems likely someone would try something this brazen and easily debunked. That's the copy on the left, slightly cropped version of the original on the right.
posted 11:42 am PST
Not Comics: Tim Kreider Loves Pluto
The editorial cartoonist Tim Kreider
is also a fine writer, as anyone who read his exegesis on B. Kliban in one of the Comics Journal
specials a few years back can certainly attest. He has a guest editorial in the New York Times about the planet Pluto
which contains throwaway gems like "I've long regarded Saturn's misty tantalizing moon Titan as the Homecoming Queen of the solar system, courted and fawned over, stringing us along with teasing glimpses under her atmosphere, while Pluto was more like the chubby Goth chick who wrote weird poems about dead birds and never talked to anybody."
posted 10:43 am PST
Go, Look: Canadian Media Bonanza
If the work productivity of comics fans goes down in significant fashion over the next several days, you can blame Brad McKay. According to Sequential
, McKay is responsible for The Comics in Canada: An Illustrated History
, a massive collection of choice, comics-related video and radio clips from the CBC archives.
posted 10:14 am PST
Tower Bankrupt; Should Be Acquired
Tower Records declared bankruptcy for the second time, after doing so in 2004, multiple source reported yesterday. ICv2.com has tracked the story
in addition to a related story about the bankruptcy of the Musicland chain. They identify Musicland purchaser Trans World Entertainment
as a likely buyer, and note that debt financing has been secured and a sale should be fast-tracked.
As I recall, Tower didn't have as many comics-related accounts as Musicland because the latter was a bit more aggressive with anime -- it sounds like Tower's accounts have a great chance of being better taken care of in this incidence, anyway. The fact that Tower carried comics, albeit dependent on the individual store, was in the 1990s one of the few signs of interest from the outside world in the rapidly snowballing fruits of the comics medium.
posted 9:52 am PST
Happy 41st Birthday, Chris Bachalo!
posted 9:44 am PST
Robert K. Hoffman, 1947-2006
Robert K. Hoffman
, a co-founder, managing editor and longtime trustee of National Lampoon
, died on Sunday from complications of leukemia
. Hoffman was a key editorial presence according to his peers. A graduate of Harvard and its business school, Hoffman was one of three members of Harvard Lampoon
who became a co-founder of the satirical, national magazine, along with Henry Beard and the late Doug Kenney. In addition to its contributions to American satire as a breeding ground for writers and performers, National Lampoon
was a home to a significant amount of accomplished cartooning.
Hoffman used his buyout from the magazine's parent company to buy modern art, eventually amassing a collection worth $150 million, and later became both a hugely successful businessman and a patron of the arts in the Dallas area. He was 59 years old.
posted 9:34 am PST
Happy 54th Birthday, Terry Austin!
posted 9:29 am PST
To Slab Or Not To Slab
Bandai Targets Fansubs
Comic Spotlights Deaf Rights
Tom Tomorrow Attending FAIR
The Case of the Substitute Reuben
Christian Reader Backs Gary Varvel
Remember When Creators Denied They Wrote Comics?
August 22, 2006
ICv2.com: Paul Levitz on DC, Industry
The annual Paul Levitz interview at ICv2.com has been a general must-read, if not so much for the startling thrill of its content -- some of Levitz's answers can feel overly measured -- than for a glimpse as to where the CEO of DC Comics generally stands on various comics issues. Don't just read someone's pull quotes, access the whole thing:
* Part One
* Part Two
* Part Three
* Part Four
There's a lot of interesting talk about marketing in there, which befits both the emphasis of DC's personnel moves over the last 24 months and the nearby presence of Stephanie Fierman
while the interview was conducted. Among the ideas and concepts engaged are: subtle changes in CMX trade dress; how CMX can be limited as both a young brand and by the deal-breaking unwillingness of DC to publish material more mature than that in their other lines; how DC's research seems to indicate that the number of trades readers will pass periodical readers soon; the fact that Fierman has helmed a couple of huge market research projects; the difficulty in selling several titles (the Superman titles) instead of one (V For Vendetta
) when a movie comes out even though the many titles probably sell a greater number overall, and how an approach borrowed from television writing helped make 52
a risk worth taking.
posted 1:24 pm PST
Not Comics: Steadman on Birth of Gonzo
The great cartoonist and illustrator Ralph Steadman has book coming out on his fruitful collaboration with the writer Hunter S. Thompson, The Joke's Over
, certainly one of the five most important artistic pairings involving a cartoonist to be found in the 20th Century. This article at the Independent
provides an outline of their relationship, including Steadman's generous appraisal of how Thompson put his talent to use.
posted 1:13 pm PST
Marvel and DC on Downloading Comics
I thought this feature about downloading comics content
seemed generally clear and raised an interesting point or two. DC and Marvel seem to have different basic attitudes about people uploading their comics, at least as much as Joe Quesada as an artist articulates a strong reaction against the notion of his work being pirated. Their respective on-line programs seem equally passive and slow in developing, though, and any significant differences in approach will likely disappear as these programs become a greater player in the Big Two's ongoing competitive fervor. The article also helpfully points to ways you can join in the comics-for-free fun.
I downloaded some comics once -- it was a big group of mostly DC comics that I think is a regular package someone out there puts together. I wouldn't care to do it again, but I can see the appeal. It was a nice way to read a lot of stuff I wouldn't bother to pay $2-$3 to read, and kind of a crummy way to read stuff I would have enjoyed more on paper. With mainstream comics, at least for me, the former group is much, much bigger than the latter -- and here's a key: I suspect it's true of anyone who doesn't have massive amounts of discretionary income, too. In addition, I've long had the sneaking suspicion that as mainstream comics become more and more dependent on soap opera plot reveals and less dependent on providing a stand-alone visceral and entertaining experience that on-line consumption could steamroll in appeal. If I wake up tomorrow morning with a life-changing desire to track Marvel's Civil War
, running to the comic shop and dropping $168 or whatever on single issues is probably not my first option.
posted 12:20 pm PST
Comics Project to Aid Israeli Children
American-Israeli publisher Mahrwood Press has announced the creative line-up for its charity comic Balm in Gilead
, targeted to help fund children's charities in Northern Israel after the recent month-long war partially in that region. Those creators include Neal Adams
, Jon Bogdanove
, Dave Cockrum
, Len Wein
, Peter David
, Colleen Doran
, Mike Kaluta
, Joe Kubert
, Stan Lee
, William Messner-Loebs
, Clifford Meth
, Robin Riggs
, Joe Rubinstein
, and Marv Wolfman
. A full list is available through the primary link.
posted 11:19 am PST
Slate Serializes 9/11 Adaptation
USA Today Profiles
posted 10:54 am PST
Civil War Delay Fallout Continues
The comic book industry and its various factions continue to mull over the consequences and meanings of Marvel Comics announce a slight delay in its Civil War linewide event, both the comic itself and various related issues of regular titles.
, Brian Hibbs analyzes the situation and proposes some compensatory moves
Marvel could make.
Alan David Doane says diversify or die.
The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has been running reaction from retailers, including: Jim Brocius
, Kathleen Bottarini
, Ted Mays
, Ilan Strasser
, Jay Bardyla
, Marc Bowker
, Jesse Leon McCann
, Joe Krolik
, and David Whelan
In something tangentially related solely through the idea of placing blame on agents of mainstream comics, Graeme McMillan unpacks the first round of a game Marvel's Tom Brevoort is playing at his blog
-- readers play editors and suggest moves; Brevoort uses his years of experience and inside knowledge to paint a painfully realistic picture of the likely results.
While this seems to me like a great idea to show Brevoort's readers the constraints and limitations of working as an editor at a big mainstream company, it also seems slightly insane in that any corrections that involve the wider company could be seen as an indictment of other departments or existing policies.
In this first round, Brevoort explains that the Marvel PR folks won't facilitate a certain proposed effort. This risks engendering less a reaction of "I guess editors really do have limited powers to do something like this" and more "the PR people at Marvel sure sound like unhelpful jerks." It should prove interesting to track the picture of Marvel painted by this effort.
posted 10:10 am PST
Happy 42nd Birthday, DG Chichester!
posted 9:52 am PST
Quill Award Nominees Announced
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
has been nominated in the humor category of the 2006 Quill Awards. The Quills are a program supported by Reed Business Information and perhaps best known for having their show broadcast on network television. The graphic novel division offers up five comics: Alison Bechdel's Fun Home
, Brian Fies' Mom's Cancer
, Walter Mosley's Maximum Fantastic Four
and Kohta Hirano's Hellsing
. amd Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto
. A Chris Claremont novelization of the latest X-Men movie had made the list but was removed. I wish that both Jack Kirby and Mosley had joined Stan Lee as Maximum Fantastic Four
authors in the site listing, but the they don't even have the illustrators of the children's illustrated books category listed, so that's not a special snub.
posted 9:45 am PST
Bob Weber Teaches the Kids
Planned Manga-Related iPod?
Local Comics Figure Profile: Frank Wynne
Drummer Has Seven Million Comic Books
Cartoonist Takes Vacation to Work at Fair
James Sturm Visiting Writer in App State Program
August 21, 2006
Numbers, Comics and Graphic Novels
* Active Images is my hero today -- not for announcing the sell-out of their Elephantmen #1 comic from Image
, but for attaching the print run's number of 16,000 to that sell-out. Comics publishers have a numbers phobia that rivals my own aversion to cauliflower, so it's nice to see someone being straight up about it.
* Multiple people have e-mailed me this article about #1 Bookscan chart-toppers
in the graphic novel category since January 2005, so I apologize if they saw it somewhere I'm not crediting. It includes a link back to 2005's final chart
. "One thing is consistent, however: TokyoPop and VIZ dominate, the majority of their titles reaching No. 1" is a heck of a potentially misleading statement, but in general it's a nice look at how the chart-toppers function as chart-toppers.
posted 12:45 pm PST
Go, Look: R. Crumb Album Art List
posted 12:44 pm PST
Grand Sheik: Jail Editor; Ban Paper
The Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, a key political leader in Egypt and within the larger Sunni Muslim world, takes time to remind us that few people in his circle have forgotten the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed
in last year's Jyllands-Posten
that caused worldwide riots in the first few months of 2006. He helpfully suggests the editor be sent to prison and the paper be banned for several years.
posted 12:43 pm PST
Go, Look: Wally Wood's 22 Panels
has Wally Wood's famous and still-funny "22 Panels That Always Work" up in a high resolution document for your downloading pleasure
. Mark Evanier provides the context.
posted 12:35 pm PST
Cold Cut Dumps Tier System
Cold Cut Distribution
is making a policy change in order to simplify its ordering system -- a flat discount no matter how many comics are ordered. This makes a lot of sense; inducements to order more and receive a greater discount implied that Cold Cut was out there competing with Diamond rather than providing a different service entirely.
posted 12:28 pm PST
Seth Next at NYT; Jaime's Ends Early?
Seth is the next artist up
for the New York Times Sunday Magazine
slot, which according to a statement at the site
goes on a brief hiatus until Seth's starts. This is confusing
to fans of Jaime Hernandez, who became worried the 17th would be the last published. (An 18th then arrived)
; neither the 17th or 18th looked linked-to to me. According to Kim Thompson at the Comics Journal site
, the cartoonist has completed all 20 chapters, so it would be surprising if the series were suspended. It would also suck, because "La Maggie La Loca" has been beautiful-looking, a real cartooning showcase.
Kim Thompson Replies in Letters
posted 9:34 am PST
Marvel Rescinds GLBT Label Policy
Positive news in last Friday's "Joe Fridays" Q&A with Marvel's Joe Quesada
, in that the publisher is getting rid of a policy that basically had it so that any comic starring anything other than a heterosexual character would be labeled with the mature readers MAX label. Newsarama's blog has the pull-out
, and it would be rude of me to run it here as my own work.
This is good news. The policy was insulting and dumb, and the argument that it stemmed from obtuse criticism of a goofy Blake Edwards-style ho-ho wink-wink Rawhide Kid mini-series
from a few years back seemed way too sensitive and over-cautious.
posted 8:49 am PST
Happy 77th Birthday, Marie Severin!
posted 8:46 am PST
Garrity Names MT Lounge Adds
In a month stuffed with on-line comics news and manuevering, Modern Tales
Editor Shaenon Garrity has announced
additions to the Modern Tales
"Strip Lounge" section, the free section attached to the "VIP Room," where the subscriber-only content can be found. They are:
Anywhere but Here, Jason Siebels
Brain Fist, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
Genre City: Plan B, Benjamin Birdie
Irregular Webcomic, David Morgan-Mar
Kings of Pop
, Benjamin Birdie
Popcorn Picnic, Chris Shadoian
Spork, Sylvan Migdal
Where Am I Now?, Jon Bakos and Ross Smith
Wondermark, David Malki
The new strips, with offerings on various release schedules, starts today. Garrity took over the Modern Tales
editorship from Eric Burns
, and acknowledged the additions were largely selected by Burns.
posted 8:24 am PST
Details on Virgin's India Launch
If I Were In Panjim, I'd Go To This
Kids Draws Comics For The Uninsured
Not Comics: Long Profile on NW Fandom
Emerging Cartoonist Profile: Stephen Pastis
Larry Young Thinks You'll Like Answers #2 and #4
August 20, 2006
Sunday CR Magazine
Dave Astor at Editor & Publisher: For Better or For Worse Is the Greatest Comic Strip of All Time
Many people expect Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse
to end sometime in 2007. With that in mind, tributes and testimonials were likely to begin soon.
Dave Astor at E&P
gets a jump on everyone with a bold claim. In his view, For Better or For Worse
is not just a highly regarded strip, it's not just the best going, it's the number one strip of all time.
Go, Look: Ed Brubaker on MySpace.com
Of special interest is a video parodying a recent Comic Foundry
video discussed on this site and elsewhere.
Go, Look: From Trees to Tribune
Includes appearances by Sidney Smith, Frank King, Frank Willard.
thanks, Shad Petosky
Go, Read: Takeshi Miyazawa on Leaving Marvel
Go, Look: Erwann Surcouf
Go, Read: George Roussos Biography
Not Comics: All Hail Captain Harriman
First Thought of the Day
So 15 hours apart I visit a random bookstore in a shopping mall and the same city's leading Direct Market retailer. I know I'm probably the last person to realize this, and it makes me sick to say it, but the bookstore was by far the better comic book shop. It had more books I was interested in buying. It had more books. It had the top periodicals all in one place instead of nestled in a giant wall of everything that's come out in the last six months. It was housed in a nicer physical plant by a factor of about one billion. And finally, its supplementary materials weren't figurines and dice but books and coffee. I know which one I'd be happier to visit again.
posted 6:00 am PST
August 19, 2006
CR Week In Review
The top comics-related news stories from August 12 to August 17, 2006:
1. Marvel pushes back
books in its Civil War linewide mega-eventalooza, causing retailers and readers to get so mad they promise to stock and purchase future issues with a frowny face on.
2. Iran's Holocaust Cartoon contest opens up
for exhibition purposes.
3. Word leaks
of Wizard's action a week ago Friday of letting go two long-time and popular employees who were working on the con side of things, although Wizard promises this has nothing to do with any sort of disappointment in the recent Chicago Con and other Wizard shows. Really. They swear. You know it's amazing given their recent attendance figures announcements that no one made the joke "Wizard announces layoffs of 2143 employees." Of course, that would be jive.
Winner of the Week
Marvel's Tom Brevoort, whose "I"ll fight anyone in this room who wants to crack on our handling of Civil War" approach to Internet discussion of the matter certainly got him noticed
Losers of the Week
Retailers with a lot invested in Marvel's Civil War
. You can kid as I did a few lines up about fans buying the stuff and retailers stocking it anyway, but the bulk of retailers have very little choice. While diversified retailers can negotiate cash flow issues delays cause better than retailers that concentrate on pushing superhero material, what that prescription misses is that this is a period of growth for comics, with some new faces out there building a clientele any way they can and some old faces trying to build momentum, which means the Direct Market is slightly more fragile than usual.
Quote of the Week
"All we can reach are 'hearts and minds,' because we can't lay our hands on the actual machinery." -- The writer Warren Ellis on why self-marketing is important to so many creators: it's the only way they have to compensate for a screwed-up system.
that Beagle Boy has the right idea
posted 9:53 am PST
Happy 62nd Birthday, Skip Williamson!
posted 9:31 am PST
This Week's Five For Friday
Results for this week's "Five For Friday" -- Name Five Places That Appear In Comics That You'd Like To Visit -- are now up.
posted 7:45 am PST
Happy 40th Birthday, Stefano Gaudiano!
posted 6:51 am PST
August 18, 2006
Happy 39th Birthday, Brian Bendis!
posted 2:21 pm PST
Beto on Sloth and Serialization
"I'm not going to serialize so much in Love and Rockets
anymore like I used to. I'm going to do more single stories in each issue in a more experimental vein. Because I do want to be doing graphic novels as well, and that's going to take care of the characterization-type things. So I won't really need to be doing that in Love and Rockets
I'm not sure how many people have picked up on this, but Gilbert Hernandez -- one of our greatest cartoonists and someone who has been working at a high level for 25 years now -- has been making one thing clear in his interviews supporting his book Sloth like this one with Christopher Mautner
: he's going to work differently from now on.
posted 1:23 pm PST
ICv2.com Uncovers CW Minority View
The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has put up their first piece on retailer reaction to Marvel's "Civil War" hiccup, and has invited retailers to comment in the days ahead. Of interest in today's article:
a retailer satisfied by Marvel's handling of the news and their decision to stick with artist Steve McNiven.
's blog track Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort's messageboard responses
posted 8:52 am PST
OTBP: Underground Greats
Here are a few books that may not show up in your local comic shop or on the front table at the local Barnes & Noble, but are still worth seeking out:
A large art book from S. Clay Wilson has to be an amazing thing. This new volume from Ten Speed Press features the man who may have been the heart of underground comix.
Fantagraphics releases so many books these days it might be easy to lose this necessary retrospective of Greg Irons -- one of the most underpublished underground comix artists of importance. Curiously, I couldn't find this searching the Fantagraphics web site.
The ComicsComics blog
was where I found out that Last Gasp is selling copies of this important undergound comic again, a kind of pre-Arcade Arcade
Joe Schwind Replies in Letters
posted 7:00 am PST
Go, Visit: Cerebus in Salt Lake City
Night Flight Comics has announced that the 70-piece show "Ye bookes of Cerebus: The Comic Art of Dave Sim and Gerhard" will open on Monday
, split between the City Library branch lower urban room and Night Flight's space. The artist will discuss his work during an extended appearance October 27th, a few days before the exhibit closes. I believe this is the same exhibit that would up at St. Bonaventure, and that student is listed as this show's curator.
Jason Trimmer Replies in Letters
posted 6:45 am PST
Happy 29th Birthday, Jenni Rope!
posted 6:30 am PST
Missed It: Harvey Awards Details
I keep forgetting to post this, but the Harvey Awards have announced
how they're going to do their awards program -- with a dinner up top. Paid admissions to both the dinner and the ceremony were a big hassle in New York and seem more designed to keep the events intimate than make any serious money, although it's important to note that Baltimore Comic-Con two-day attendees will go for free. The Harveys are one of two long-running comic book industry focused comics awards programs.
posted 6:15 am PST
CSM on Tweens and Comics
Jeff Stahlers' Work Exhibited
Revisiting Pogo From Fireside
The Kids, They Love the Comics
Dick Tracy Meets Pockets Hymer
Cartoon Art On Display In Wichita
Creators Syndicate Names Three New Veeps
August 17, 2006
More on Marvel's Delayed Civil War
Marvel delaying its massive Civil War
superhero series "event" and several affected issues in regular series has hit enough of a nerve to ratchet up the heated Internet rhetoric a few degrees, including but not limited to: a Newsarama piece with Editor Tom Brevoort
, passionate responses from fans both there and on various messageboards
, retailers like Brian Hibbs
and Jason Richards
chiming in, and of course reports on blogs
The basic issue of delays is an issue as old as the market. My own noodling led me to think about Camelot 3000
, a "King Arthur returns to defend us against aliens" mini-series that was one of the first DM-only titles. Its last few issues were terribly delayed, with the finale coming 10 months after issue #11. Here's a discussion about that series
in the context of another, later delay. According to that discussion, interest in the title as measured in back issues sales was killed.
There are huge differences between now and then; this is in many ways a unique occurrence. No one expects this slight delay to kill interest in Civil War
. The Internet provides a vehicle for fan frustration that doesn't require even the minimal effort of putting pen to paper, so it may be exaggerated, and our use of it has been going on long enough anyone who doesn't like it can accuse it of being exaggerated and dismiss it as a result. "Civil War" is a line-wide event, and as such it should have been that much better planned. The delay seems to me to have been announced really, really late in the game. At the same time, it's no longer a periodicals market in the same sense as 20-plus years ago: the companies are set up to sell individual issues of series as much if not more so than series, and have been for some time now. I would argue that the market is more fragile now, with more and more risk running downhill and landing in the retailers' laps. You and I might criticize a store (a longrunning store, anyway, not one building its clientele) for not being diverse enough that a slight delay on some Marvel titles, even important Marvel titles, would hurt beyond the obvious cash flow predicament, but that's the mainstream top-end dependent market that DC and Marvel have worked so hard to shape. It's too much to suggest that Marvel and DC have created a market so that they can do stuff like this, but it seems to be one of the perks.
In general I don't think my opinion is any different than yesterday: Marvel disappointed their fans but screwed their retailers; the fans will get over it, the retailers have to. Marvel treated their retailers in a way that makes sense given the current shape of the comics market and its emphasis on specific content and, eventually, trades. We should all feel for retailers who will be stung, particularly new ones. There's little that can be done about things like this given the current market set-up, except work slowly and with great passion for years and years to change its face and then its heart. The question is will anyone remember to keep fighting once the Civil War gritty-teeth superhero confrontational soap operatics and high sales start up again? I have my doubts.
posted 11:27 am PST
Chicago Reader's Fourth Section: RIP
Here's a brief story from Editor & Publisher
that interests me although the relationship to comics is only tangential: the well-known alt-weekly Chicago Reader
is going to a three-section structure from its longtime four-section structure sending a smattering of its classified section comics into the front three sections. The reason? The move to web-only classifieds and a desire to save on printing costs by reducing the number of separate sections. The changing landscape of advertising is a huge issue for newspapers and because of that it's a big issue for the comics that they run. Although there's literally no change here in terms of the comics the paper will feature, and some like Chris Ware's won't likely even move, that has a lot to do with this being a proactive move by a market leader rather than a reactive one by someone scrambling to catch up.
posted 10:59 am PST
Sequential Profiles Canada's Sole Artist in the Iranian Holocaust Exhibition
Sequential takes a look
at Marc Pageau
, the only Canadian listed among the 240 cartoonists taking part in the Holocaust cartoon contest thrown by Hamshahri Daily
and I guess Iran Cartoon.
For those of you reluctant to click over who are curious, listed participants from the United States are Mike Flugennock, Aaron Heineman, Robin Moore, John Bryant, David Baldinger, Peter Lifton, Jack, Matt G., Bernhard Kurt Vennekohl, Foreed M., Hugh Bradley and Leo Garcia.
As for the reaction of the world in general, I think what may be more surprising than the fact that Jewish groups believe that entries in Iran's holocaust cartoon contest are troubling
is that this is the first article I've seen on the subject. It's not like the world is lacking in troubling news right now that you have to go look at some cartoons to find it, but I have noticed a smaller degree of rhetoric about the free speech opportunities afforded by the subject than when the contest was announced.
posted 10:43 am PST
Go, Look: Escapist/Spirit Pages
Bob Andelman provides a look at several sketch-to-finished-art sequences
between the late Will Eisner and Alex Saviuk on a story where Michael Chabon's The Escapist meets Will Eisner's The Spirit. They are identified as Eisner's last works.
posted 10:36 am PST
Zonderkidz Hits Christian GN Market
The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com notes
that Zondervan will this time next year launch six graphic novel series for the Christian youth market (meaning they'll be sold by Christian booksellers in addition to bookstores and comic shops). Five of the series will be created for the Zonderkidz imprint with one a translated straight-up Bible adaptation from Korea. The first two volumes in each demographically targeted series will be released in August 2007 -- a plan that Zondervan's representative claims come straight out of their market research.
Mike Miller, formerly of Alias, will be involved with the line.
posted 10:13 am PST
Happy 68th Birthday, Trina Robbins!
posted 9:49 am PST
Missed It: DC Issues in PDF Form
For all I know this stuff has been up for months, but the great afNews site had a note up this morning about it
and it's certainly the first I've noticed: DC has the first issues in each collection for several cornerstone Vertigo series available on-line in downloadable PDF form. This includes first looks at The Sandman
, Y The Last Man
and 100 Bullets
. Go here.
posted 9:40 am PST
Happy 50th Birthday, John Romita Jr.!
posted 9:39 am PST
ActuaBD.com: Classiques Illustre
The news site ActuaBD.com has a news brief about Casterman exploring adaptations of current literary works
into comics form. This includes the Tardi version of Pierre Siniac's Monsieur Cauchemar
that was serialized in newspaper form and that Bart Beaty talked about here
. Other than that, what you might notice is that the effort is kind of all over the place in sort-of appealing fashion: some authors working on adaptations, material drawn from a lot of different sources, and so on.
posted 9:35 am PST
Happy 48th Birthday, Andy Helfer!
posted 9:33 am PST
Kieron Gillen Profiled
Paul Gravett On Manga
Wired Explores Doujinshi
Editorial Cartoonist Loves His Heart Attack
Syndicated Strip Cartoonists Hit Missouri Toonfest
August 16, 2006
Time to Retire Arab Stereoytpes?
If the articles I read from Australian news sources are any indication, Australia has a more passionate relationship with its editorial cartoonists than America does and a more active, currrent interest than that enjoyed by the United Kingdom. (I'm having one of those mornings where I'm confused by basic fact, so if "United Kingdom" is an outmoded term, please forgive me.) This editorial by Abe Ata
therefore doesn't surprise in its length and easygoing breadth of its analysis of Arab stereotypes in its cartooning, and how this has an impact in Australia according to such factors as Arab/Muslim distinctions, the socio-economic status of Australia's muslims, and the effect some cartoons may have on the Arab Christian minority. I don't know if I agree with all of the analysis, but it's nice to have the general issue on the table.
posted 12:02 pm PST
If I Were In Tehran, I'd Go To This
Both The Drudge Report
and Editor & Publisher
describe some of the works on display at Iran's Holocaust cartoons contest exhibit, a response to last winter's depictions of the Prophet Muhammed in a Copenhagen newspaper.
posted 11:16 am PST
Comixpedia On Webcomic Site Design
Xerexes at Comixpedia makes a smart point
about the spate of site re-designs for major on-line webcomics like Perry Bible Fellowship
and Scott Kurtz's PvP
(art above): maybe more than marketing the strip through an appealing site, form is beginning to follow function. As strips like these become bigger and more successful and have deeper archives and broader audiences, what they need from a site changes. This is important, I think, not just for these strip but how they'll affect, if only indirectly, the design goals of print comics in their on-line iterations.
posted 11:03 am PST
ICv2.com: FCBD '07 is May 5
The business news and analysis site ICv2.com leads with a story this morning
that the Free Comic Book Day
2007 promotion will be held on May 5 this year. This is also the same weekend the expected-to-be-gigundus Spider-Man 3
movie is scheduled to hit theaters. Free Comic Book Day is a promotion whereby giveaway comics are made available to shops at a reduced cost and attention is called to local shops by letting media and potential customers know that people showing up at the shop on that day will take away something for free. It began in 2002.
Why this date is noteworthy is because there had been discussion in previous years whether or not the promotion should be moved so it could be paired with a superhero-related movie opening. Despite the inroads of manga and a few select art comics in bookstores, superhero remain by far the dominant genre in Direct Market comics and hobby stores. Also, a big-time franchise movie opening provides an easy local media hook. Others felt that moving FCBD away from late Spring simply to pursue a movie opening risked putting the event squarely in the path of regular summer weekend shopping disruptions like university students heading home or people heading out of town to the lakes or whatever, and diminished the stand-alone nature of the event. My gut says that with last year's event doing well without the movie tie-in, proving a point for the long-term, that not so many will complain if the movie is just sitting there on one of the good late Spring weekends waiting for a dance partner as opposed to demanding pursuit into the hotter summer months.
posted 10:26 am PST
Maybe Not the Retailers' Side...
Marvel Comics has announced a line-wide scheduling hiccup
in their market-dominant Civil War
mini-series, spin-off series, and those regular titles participating in the storyline. The superhero vs. superhero linewide event about superhero registration (making it in some peoples' eyes a discussion of real-world civil rights) that should serve to retrench Iron Man as a major player with his movie on the horizon, re-launch the cornerstone character Thor and which has already featured the Spider-Man character unmasking himself, the main Civil War
title has squatted atop the sales charts since its inception. Although I lack the proper immersion in the flow of mainstream comics and how they're sold to describe in sumptuous detail what this move could mean in every corner of the market, a rough map of the issues landscape presents itself rather easily:
On the one hand, these comics are popular enough that I can't imagine this dims sales or reader interest much beyond people howling on the Internet
. It could also be interpreted as refreshing, albeit in a slightly square-planet way, to have a big mainstream company stay behind a creative team (specifically artist Steve McNiven) rather than force material out by editorial/production fiat.
On the other hand, once you disrupt the flow of anything in the market moving this many copies it's bound to have a deleterious effect on retailers
who count on providing these books to customers -- some of whom are casual customers who may lose interest as Marvel's series loses momentum and Summer turns to Fall -- and managing money in order to maximize their ability to do so. This was announced pretty late in terms of retailers expecting a comic to show up that wasn't going to show up. My hunch without looking to make sure is that it may also put at risk having collections of some of this work available during the holiday buying period, or even the post-holiday Christmas cash period.
Myself, I feel for the retailers and don't feel any acrimony or disdain for the artists whatsoever. Publishing schedules are the publisher's responsibility, and there are ways of ensuring a publishing event like this one can hit its target dates that unless they're employed puts the publisher squarely in the bullseye for blame regarding any needed adjustments. Two things jump out at me, though. One, this really underlines how increasingly dependent mainstream comics sales are on specific comic books with specific content as opposed to the days of inventory issues and a broader strength in series. Two, I think Marvel's choice to back McNiven may reflect a greater interest in the quality of the eventual trade and its potential life on the shelves at a time when no one will remember this delay.
Newsarama has the list of titles involved and a quote from series writer Mark Millar. Millar also discusses the issue here.
As I keep getting e-mailed, artist Steve McNiven speaks to the situation via Millar's on-line forum.
I have no idea if that's a proper cover or something someone made at home
posted 9:51 am PST
Go, Read: Evanier on Kirby Tributes
with the writer Mark Evanier
on the 1990s Superman cartoon series and its related comic yields an interesting graph or three about how Jack and Roz Kirby looked at in-comic and in-cartoon tributes to Kirby by depicting his image.
posted 9:38 am PST
Spider-Man Comics Hit Newspapers
One hundred twenty-two of News America Marketing's 1000-plus client base will apparently participate in a Spider-Man comic giveaway in the next several days, with an insert of the character's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy
#15. These clients include the Chicago Sun-Times
and the New York Post
(ad above), which is a pretty good two in your 122. Marvel signed a deal with News America Marketing last Fall.
I don't like backseat driving big company publicity, but this move bears watching by those who do for a number of reasons, including 1) the age of the material being reprinted, 2) the audience profile for most daily newspapers, and 3) the likelihood for follow-up between an effort this broad and a market mechanism for Marvel's modern comics comparably narrow in scope.
thanks to Gary Dunaier for the jpeg
posted 9:26 am PST
Ellis Closes Rocket Pirates Submissions
Too many submissions so far for the editor to continue an open-submissions process, so he has temporarily closed it.
posted 9:11 am PST
Kevin Frank Profiled
Dame Darcy Takes on Jane Eyre
Brad Meltzer Hates Anti-Comics Snobs
Warren Ellis Previews: Fell #6
; Nextwave #7
Not Comics: Danish Cartoon Source Under Fire
Korean Paper: Nationalist Japan Reflected in Comics
August 15, 2006
posted 11:15 am PST
Opus: Still Quite the Popular Character
It's not so much the news that Berke Breathed
character, who has traveled with him from Bloom Country
through Outland and into the ongoing Opus feature
, could be the star of a feature film
in 2008 that indicates the character's popularity. It's more that both Alan Gardner at DailyCartoonist.com and the Editor & Publisher
staff would pick up on this
kind of thing as a news story. Opus
hasn't been the comics page savior that many thought it would be, but that hasn't dimmed the lead character's star quality in a significant way. Not only does a movie with Opus make perfect sense even if Breathed were to walk away from Opus
before 2008 (not that there's been any indication), one probably has to look at Bloom County
as one of a few, serious, potential complete-strip collection candidates, which seemed a longshot at one time.
posted 11:00 am PST
Fantagraphics: Castle Waiting HC Hits 7K
According to this fairly nice albeit scattered survey-style article about female cartoonists and the female audience for comics
by the Republican-American
in Waterbury, Connecticut, Fantagraphics has sold 7000 copies of Linda Medley's massive Castle Waiting
hardcover, making her the top-selling female cartoonist in the company's history. I note this because you rarely get sales figures of this type. FBI's publicity guru Eric Reynolds rightfully says that in a different world the company might be able to sell many thousands more.
posted 10:47 am PST
ICv2.com: GNs Set Sales Pace in July
The business news and analysis site has released their Direct Market (comics and hobby shops) numbers for July, indicating increases sales from 2005 in both the comic book and graphic novel categories, with graphic novels outpacing comic book for the first time since last Fall.
The July comic book market seems to be working really well at selling copies of the current major "event" comics -- Marvel's Civil War
, which looks like a juggernaut, and DC's one-year-every-week series 52
, which has not yet quite given over to last month's potential first signs of diminishing returns. I think it's interesting that most of the growth can be seen in the top end of the market -- there are still the same number of comics selling over 50,000 as there were last year, for instance. The graphic novel market is noteworthy again for both its differences from the bookstore market and the way it's actually much more diverse than the comic books -- you'd probably have to get into the 200s to find anything in the periodical format equivalent to Fruits Basket
As always, ICv2.com's information is broken down like this:
* Lead Story
* Analysis Story
* Top 300 Comic Books Actual
* Top 100 Graphic Novels Actual
I'm not a big one for tables and the like, as I don't think there's enough continuity in the emphases the companies can place on different titles to really track something from issue to issue anymore, but it's always fun to look in and see what's going on. That's a reasonably high-volume number on that Fables
series of books for it to sell in the low five figures, for instance.
posted 9:59 am PST
TCJ.com to Re-Launch on August 25
Refashioned site and return of "Journalista" delayed in part
by Dirk Deppey's move; had been scheduled for today. May be a moot point.
posted 9:55 am PST
Go, Look: Marooned Reconstruction
One of those things one might have assumed already existed: an online reconstruction of the pirate comics story interspersed throughout Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' superhero series Watchmen
* linked to at Newsarama's Blog
* explained here
* found here or through the image
posted 9:49 am PST
Gay League on Marvel's GLBT Policy
I would have totally missed this if not for an e-mail, but this article
spotlights Joe Quesada's statements at Wizard World: Chicago on Marvel's unwillingness to have a gay and lesbian lead character in a solo mini-series without an explicit content warning. Supposedly this stems from the 2002 mini-series Rawhide Kid
and criticism Marvel received on CNN's Crossfire
program. The spirit of Fredric Wertham is even invoked.
This seems bizarre and unfortunate on a lot of levels, and I have to wonder what was going on where this policy would become specific in exactly this unique, public, potentially hurtful way as opposed to there just not being any titles like this -- the way there aren't any television series with gay lead characters that spring to mind. As I recall, Rawhide Kid
was a smarmy, obvious comedy and hardly the basis on which the feasibility of a type of character should be judged. I'm also not sure if Crossfire
is even on anymore for exactly the reason it seemed like pre-staged fighting for the sake of fighting rather than honest engagement of any issues or representative of the public's view on any issue. It's at least not every respected. Heck, I saw that episode and Stan Lee came off well, and Lee's forte has never been fighting on the issues. This is all very weird.
There's a significant conservative element among superhero comics fans that tends to be passionate about these issues; as a result, discussions like this one here
can be real fire and brimstone affairs. Noted in the thread is that Marvel does have gay supporting characters, most notably in the title Young Avengers
posted 9:23 am PST
Happy 53rd Birthday, Paul Gulacy!
posted 9:15 am PST
Whoops, We Forgot Your Comics
Profile of Susan Veraghen Character
Metal Gear Solid's Interactive Aspects Profiled
Local Cartoonists Profile: Ron and Justine Fontes
Andelman Denied Saviuk Escapist/Spirit Preview?
August 14, 2006
Newsarama: Wizard Con Staffers Let Go
Newsarama is reporting
that Stewart Morales, Wizard Conventions, Inc.'s Director/Strategic Planning and Marketing and Gabe Fieramosco, Wizard Conventions, Inc.'s Manager/Business Development, have been let go. I think Wizard Conventions, Inc., is a sister company to Wizard Entertainment, publisher of Wizard
magazine, but it could be a division or something. Wizard employees were informed of the move Friday morning.
The move comes after a chaotic, rough 12-14 months for Wizard's Wizard World conventions, including but not limited to: an abortive attempt to start a New England version of the show, an abandoned attempt to start a show in Atlanta that wilted in the face of support for the same-weekend Heroes Con, denials of that attempt, announced attendance figures at this year's Philadelphia show very few at the show believed, getting snaked on a big New York show by Reed Exhibitions after Wizard had been circling the Big Apple with a hungry look in its eye for two-three years (they did work with Reed on show publicity), and, last Tuesday, announced Chicago attendance figures very few at the show believed and a subsequent refusal to discuss how those numbers were tabulated.
No plans have been announced for how the duties performed by Morales and Fieramosco would be fulfilled for the time being, or if the two would be replaced, or if replacements would likely be other staffers or outsiders brought into the company. Wizard's convention business faces some stiff challenges: a loss of momentum, some weird scheduling for 2007 (the Chicago show right on Comic-Con International's heels again; the Philadelphia show the same weekend as the feel-good hit of the circuit, Heroes Con), and the perception that convention organizers in San Diego, New York and Charlotte are doing a better job at making shows that sell out. On the other hand, there's nowhere to go but up, and with expectations as low as they are right now the day-to-day Wizard Con gig could be a career-making opportunity for the right person or people.
does a fine job on reporting this move in the context of other Wizard staffing moves, so you should read their article
posted 3:53 pm PST
Doug Wright Awards: Date, Venue, Q&A
posted 12:11 pm PST
Artists Are Talking About Their Process
* Bryan Lee O'Malley on scripting.
* Rivkah on page construction and flow.
* Charles Vess on collaborating with Mike Kaluta.
posted 11:33 am PST
Masters of American Comics Show Shifts From Milwaukee to NYC/Newark
posted 10:03 am PST
People Are Talking About Others' Comics
"These are 31 packed pages, a marvelous balance of weird myth, compelling half-history, classy sex & violence, old-fashioned war adventure, and dense themes of religious mania rising up to replace one reality with another, and how the corporeal form is so much less important than the ideas that said form leaves in its historical wake. It's up to the reader to determine what David B. means to conclude from all of this, but it's ambiguity in its most satisfying, stimulating form, a story as eager to engage the pulse and the gut as the mind. It never fails to astound me how easily David B. can mold his hugely symbolic art style into tight panels of action that operate on no less a visceral level than stories not presented in upper-crust, 'literary' anthologies, but he's not failed yet from the admittedly small look we've gotten in English. This is the sort of impossibly smart, lovely comic that pinches you awake, and forces you to consider that yes, perhaps anything really is possible after all." -- Jog on David B. and Mome Volume Four.
"This is the comic that introduces the archenemy of Samaritan, the Superman-archetype for Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson's Astro City. His name is Infidel, and as you can see he draws on Muslim iconography even more openly than Samaritan draws on the Christian variety, transforming the hero's vaguely dove-like symbol into a crescent and star. I don't think Busiek and co-designer Alex Ross intend any cultural judgments with this juxtaposition; they're just following the logic of comic book antagonisms, distorting Samaritan's imagery and concept to come up with his opposite number." -- Marc Singer on Astro City Special #1.
"It works well, starting off with a loud and over-the-top sequence of events as Conan deals with an ambush, but then shifts into something much more subtle and atmospheric. It sounds strange when talking about printed material, but Mignola's first issue of Conan starts out very loud and then slowly drops in volume until it's almost too quiet in its stillness, as the situation that Conan's in begins to make itself clear. It's very effective, luring the reader into a false sense of complicity just like Conan himself, as well as making for an excellent cliffhanger." -- Greg McElhatton on Conan #29.
posted 9:37 am PST
ICv2.com: Fruits Basket, Naruto, Halo and Confirmation on a "DVD Effect"
The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com looks at graphic novel bookstore sales and comes away with a variety of noteworthy points.
The hot performance of Marvel's Halo
graphic novels interests me because I swore I heard once and I can't remember where that Marvel wasn't the first place that property was going to end up -- which means somewhere someone is gnashing their teeth. As a non-canonical, non-universe strong performer, Halo
greatly enhances Marvel's overall bookstore profile. In other news: the latest Fruits Basket
dominates at a 2 to 1 ratio, V For Vendetta
received a significant boost related to the DVD release of its movie version, and Naruto
remains the manga volume version of 1980s X-Men
posted 9:08 am PST
Missed It: Cartoonist and Child Porn Ring
This article about members of a child porn ring
indicates that an earlier round of police action against people in the same group included the arrest and conviction of a 38-year-old cartoonist, who received a jail sentence.
posted 9:05 am PST
Comics Registry: Boardman Robinson
The great Boardman Robinson has been added to CR
's ongoing comics bibliography project, The Comics Registry.
posted 8:50 am PST
Paris Comics Bookseller Passes Away
I found the subject of this article by Didier Pasamonik interesting -- the passing of Pierre Scias, described as the driving force behind the Paris bookstore Librairie Actualites
-- for its brief glimpse into the country's comics retail past. Pasamonik describes the bookstore as a places for science fiction as well as comics, and Scias as someone with a passion for American comics artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko as well as those that fit the more natural underground feel of the place. I've not encountered that kind of nostalgia and fondness for a certain retail model from someone immersed in the French-language market, but I guess those things can be universal.
posted 8:45 am PST
Happy 56th Birthday, Gary Larson!
posted 8:08 am PST
Ellis Leaks On-Line Venture Names
Warren Ellis has leaked
what he calls "less than half" of the comics and creators to appear on his forthcoming Rocket Pirates on-line site, done in conjunction with Joey Manley. The list includes such known quantities as Eric Knisley
(with Mickey Death
), Charity Larrison
(Edge of the Continent
) and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
(The Nomad Church
). You should go to Ellis' site for the full list rather than read it here. As I understand it, the Rocket Pirates site will work sort of like a radio show, with non-exclusive rights to the comics but still gathered into one place in order to achieve a cumulative effect, and bring some of Ellis' on-line readership and the writer's sensibility into play.
posted 8:05 am PST
Happy 63rd Birthday, John Costanza!
posted 8:00 am PST
Meet Joe Heller
Wichita Loves Pickles
He Wants To Be Dan Piraro
Local Media: Otakon Report
Local Cartoonist Profile: KOHAD
Nerds, Scholars, Business, Porn, Art
Star-Bulletin Looks At School Rumble
Not Comics: Garfield Statues Across Indiana
Not Comics: Play About Cartoonist Hits Newport
August 13, 2006
CR Sunday Magazine
A Short Interview With James Vance
Go, Look: Shigeru Mizuki
stolen from TCJ board
Researching Doug Wright
Go, Look: Vanessa Davis in NY Times
This continues their series from last week's Hope Larson cartoon.
Mazen Kerbaj Is Still Blogging From Beirut
The most important comics site going.
Site Reminder: The Comics Event Calendar
First Thought of the Day
At what point do you give up on getting everything done you wanted do in the Summer and shift your thinking to that you're getting a few weeks' jump on what you want to do in the Fall?
posted 12:21 pm PST
August 12, 2006
CR Week In Review
The top comics-related news stories from August 5 to August 11, 2006:
1. Cartoon Fallout in the Middle East: Israel army's secret cartooning corp
; cartoon blog receives group support
; ADL decrys anti-Semitic cartoons throughout region
2. Civil War
drives fine quarter for Marvel's comics publishing arm; entire company performs ahead of estimates
as larger corporation makes shifts in licensing and in filmmaking.
3. Traditional comics convention season ends with Wizard World: Chicago with realization the real convention season is 11 months long now. Wizard reports figures
that even with a generous counting strategy make a lot of people on the floor this year and years past doubt their veracity.
Winner of the Week
Writer Jeff Parker
, whose Agents of Atlas
may not break break sales records but the reviews for which should put him on the map as a mainstream comics writer to watch.
Loser of the Week
Wizard's convention arm.
Quote of the Week
"I'll leave my family out of that one." -- Fun Home
's Alison Bechdel on her next book.
Gomez Addams has the right idea
posted 10:05 am PST
August 11, 2006
Richard Mock, 1944-2006
, who provided illustrations to the New York Times
editorial page for 16 years, died on July 26 in Brooklyn following a long illness.
A noted painter and sculptor, Mock's work for the Times
consisted of expressionistic, black-on-white linoleum prints taking a satirical stance on some issue of the day. According to the Times
, Mock also worked in cartoonish portraiture. He was included in the 1973 Whitney Biennial and served as the official portrait painter of the 1980 Winter Olympics. He is survived by a companion, his mother and his sister.
posted 10:26 am PST
Cartoons Show Discontent With UN
Arab News has an angle
on recent Middle East cartoons I haven't seen elsewhere: that Arab cartoons overwhelmingly indicate widespread disillusionment with the United Nations. Although not as alarming as strongly-evidenced claims that the region's papers are soaked with anti-Semitic drawings, the notion that there's a near-consensus on an specific issue coming out in pen and ink seems worth calling attention to.
posted 10:01 am PST
KFS Launches Christian-Themed Strip
King Features Syndicate takes its second shot
at a newspaper comic strip centered in a mainstream Christian milieu with Kevin Frank's Heaven's Love Thrift Shop
. Thrift shops -- sometimes sponsered by multiple churches -- were always a part of church life as I experienced it during my teens and early 20s, and it provides an easy interface between any characters who have Christian beliefs and people who don't, so the concept seems to me pretty clever. Frank also appears to have a web site up
at the strip's launch, which is another advantage of which not all new strips can boast.
posted 9:42 am PST
Not Comics: Dissecting Wizard Magazine
I declined yesterday to recommend Tim Leong's latest video at Comic Foundry
, this one castigating the nationally distributed superhero fan magazine juggernaut Wizard Magazine
, for several reasons. First, I have a hard time working up any passion for or against Wizard
(for those of you out there not aware of the magazine, imagine a men's glossy writing about nothing but superhero plotlines, comics creators, and geek consumables, with drawings of Elektra rather than photos of Anna Benson). Second, the video takes something like seven minutes to charge that the publication is sensationalistic and sexist. Third, the nature of videoblogging means more talking head than I can generally stand.
However, if you're interested in comics fan culture on any level, the video and the commentary linked to the video are a Mulligan Stew with lots of big, meaty pieces: Leong and others deploring the suggested ambassador status of Wizard
, the presumption of judging Wizard
according to journalistic standards that it's hard to imagine the magazine caring about or for which it would logically qualify, Frank Cho potentially making light of the dead (from an anecdote that kicks off an article that may or may not be real), a response or two insisting that the magazine used to be good, lots of truth-to-power right-ons, Wizard
people accusing Leong of print-run envy, insults from the Wizard
fan base that support Leong's general argument, and, finally, charges of hypocrisy (or a more direct plea to shush up) because of Leong's tartish magazine covers (sexism) and the slightly more hysterical parts of his video (sensationalism). You don't usually get all of that in one place.
posted 9:14 am PST
OTBP: Tim Eldred's Grease Monkey
Click through the image for a review; the piece notes this is science fiction and fantasy publisher Tor's second graphic novel, which is why it's noted here.
posted 9:06 am PST
Not Comics: Todd McFarlane, Sportsman
Here's a brief interview with Todd McFarlane at ESPN's Page 2 site
, about his buying the latest noteworthy home run baseball (take that, Tony Twist!) and his attitudes towards various sports and sort-of comics issues. It's probably my imagination, but I've always thought McFarlane uses fewer rhetorical tricks with non-comics reporters. It could be the subject matter as well.
posted 9:01 am PST
Happy 42nd Birthday, Jim Lee!
posted 8:51 am PST
Brenno Fiumali, 1933-2006
The news and resource site afNews notes that Brenno Fiumali passed away yesterday at 73 years old. Fiumali was an artist and later art director on the Diabolik
magazine. He was also an uncredited assistant to Frank Pauludetti. He was born Reggio Emilia.
posted 8:35 am PST
Batman Is Back
Review of Insomnia #2
Retail Passes Test at P-I
Go, Read: Natsuki Takaya Interview
Warren Ellis on Alan Moore's Page-As-Stanza
Coverly's Speed Bump Contest: 4000 Responses
August 10, 2006
The Great Jack Jackson Remembered
Click through the image for a lengthy series of memories and stories about the underground great and seminal figure in the development of the graphic novel.
posted 11:33 am PST
Not Comics: McCloud's Tour Dates
With coordinated blogging, family participation and a 50-state theme, Scott McCloud's tour in support of his Making Comics
has to be the most ambitious promotional effort ever taken on for a comics publication, and as such is worth noting. Northeastern dates and locations have been announced.
I would imagine that if nothing else people will be paying close attention in order to crib potential tour locations of their own.
posted 11:13 am PST
OTBP: Children's Books 2005-2006
Rainy Dohaney, August 2006
Peter Kuper, October 2006
Tony Millionaire, September 2005
posted 10:58 am PST
Authors Seeking Peanuts Anecdotes
Editor & Publisher has a write-up here
; site here
posted 10:27 am PST
Go, Look: Profile of FF #102 Project
Comic Book Resources has a brief article up
on Marvel's forthcoming restoration/presentation of an unpublished Jack Kirby and Stan Lee late-era Fantastic Four
comic. I have to imagine given the attention paid Jack Kirby that all of this stuff has been discussed and shown to death, but I hadn't seen any of the art yet. As a fan of Kirby's expressive, loose storytelling in his last few years on Marvel's seminal 1960s title, I look forward to the project.
Speaking of the Fantastic Four, Chris Sims recently profiled
many of the sublime action panels featured in Fantastic Four
#55, a terrific showcase comic book for Kirby in his Marvel superhero prime. Sims makes note of Mr. Fantastic threatening the Thing, aggressive and overwhelmingly self-confident behavior par enough for the course back then it makes me wonder if any Marvel character is further removed from his original 1960s persona than Reed Richards.
posted 9:51 am PST
Not Comics: Andy Capp Statue
I can't think of anything better than a bronze statue celebrating Andy Capp
, the most popular violent, alcoholic adulterer ever to strike his wife in a widely-read newspaper comic strip. Not only does Capp have the best licensing food deal ever (Andy Capp Hot Fries), I swear there were at least 50 or so Andy Capp
collections, which are no doubt best read bathing in a large pail in your living room as your wife heats the water up on the stove. Someday, our comics reading grandchildren will ask us to explain Andy Capp
to them, and our answers will not satisfy. That is his greatness.
posted 9:29 am PST
Happy 51st Birthday, Eddie Campbell!
posted 9:11 am PST
Miller Responds to Coulter Mini-Flap
As promised, Wiley Miller issued a statement about the International Herald-Tribune
opting for a different versions of his Non-Sequitur
tomorrow; the original featured a joke about conservative lightning rod Ann Coulter. Miller voiced support for the paper's move, while pressing them on their claim for why. Editor & Publisher has updated their story with Miller's response.
posted 9:08 am PST
UGO.com Offers Issues of 52 On-Line
Free issues of 52, uploaded one at a time, says Newsarama's blog.
I have a hard time imagining that as a superhero story 52
could become more than the kind of middle of the road, bland, soap opera that DC's specialized in for years now. Beyond the level of interest in the fictional universe this series presumes, I find DC's removed but passionate attention to the heroic qualities of its characters bizarre, I have about as much interest in seeing a morose Elongated Man as I have in seeing a final Thin Man
movie where William Powell lies in bed crying and wetting his pants, and the each issue = one week conceit seems doomed for failure, particularly with multiple plotlines that should
flow and resolve at different speeds. As a pop culture experiment and a snapshot of comics today, it might be worth digging into if you can do it for free, so I plan on reading the five issues as they're provided.
If you're reading and didn't know about it yet, Douglas Wolk continues his 52 blog
posted 9:03 am PST
The Hindu on Graphic Novels
Details on the Crippen Collection
Artist Draws on Single-Panel Simplicity
A Look at the NASCAR Comic Book Deal
What's Going On With DC and Marvel Right Now?
Chinese Government Targets Cartoon Industries
August 9, 2006
Israelis Upset by Anti-Israeli Cartoons
* The Anti-Defamation League has put out a release
about their major report on Arab press cartoons, which loses points for a faulty link (try here instead
) but receives points for use of the word "fusillade."
* This article accuses European cartoonists
of downplaying the risk that Israelis feel when making cartoons critical of the actions in Lebanon.
one of the gentler cartoons reprinted from Jordan
posted 2:19 pm PST
How Alison Bechdel's Life Has Changed
I enjoyed this measured, even-handed article
by Lauren Ober about Alison Bechdel and the changes in her life since the grand reception afforded her latest, the autobiographical story and potential comic of the year Fun Home
. Ober describes the media coverage and Bechdel's reaction to seeing her intimate story discussed in magazines and newspapers across the country, but she also gets into some things I hadn't thought of: the reaction of Bechdel's family, and the impact having to deal with the success of this volume has had on her ability to manage her syndicated strip career simply from a time standpoint.
posted 12:33 pm PST
FanDumb: Pink Vs. Martin Emond
According to this massive write-up
at the FanDumb site, the pop singer Pink is being accused of ripping off the look of various Martin Emond
cartoons and designs for use as visuals in her latest video. I can't imagine you'll need anything more than what you can find through this post's first link, which includes this brutal side-by-side comparison
of cartoons vs. stills. The New Zealand-born Emond committed suicide
in Los Angeles in March 2004.
posted 11:40 am PST
ActuaBD.com: Pif Gadget Reeling?
Didier Pasamonik has an article up on ActuaBD.com
tracing the travails of the relaunched (2004) Pif Gadget
magazine, including a horrendous circulation collapse, personnel problems, and anger from some that the magazine hasn't been given more direction and a greater chance to succeed. The original Pif Gadget
-- really the middle-era name of a magazine that went by several in a long run
that included comics from Jean-Claude Forest
to Rene Goscinny
to Hugo Pratt
-- ended in 1992, and many of the strips in the new version are reprints from its pages. If I'm reading it correctly, the first poster in response is a webmaster who calls the magazine over-protective of their Internet imagery, forcing him to shut down a site about the magazine.
posted 11:20 am PST
Go, Look: Wentworth Miller Cartoons
I have no idea who Wentworth Miller is, but 1) that's a bitchin' name, 2) I love cartoons with local flavor so specific it's hard to figure out what the heck is going on, and 3) it's really cool to do cartoons with your dad.
okay, I'm kidding. Mr. Miller is the star of the television show
Prison Break, and will apparently grow up to look exactly like Anthony Hopkins.
posted 11:16 am PST
IHT Drops Ann Coulter Non-Sequitur
Editor & Publisher reports
that the International Herald-Tribune
has asked for a substitute for this Friday's Non-Sequitur
, which apparently features the conservative publicity engine Ann Coulter in a burqa
. According to the article, cartoonist Wiley Miller is withholding comment until the Herald-Tribune
gives a reason, which one assumes is more complex than "Well, that just sounds repulsive." Coulter also did not comment, for which one imagines we can all be thankful. Miller and Coulter share a syndicate. The article mentions that Non-Sequitur
is in 700 newspapers, and that there was only this one request for another cartoon.
posted 11:02 am PST
Metro: Hutch Owen In; Rocky Out
posted 10:45 am PST
WWC Announces 58,000; Fans Jeer
This isn't exactly comics, but the convention business is worn into the fabric of comics at this point, so I'll plunge ahead: Wizard Entertainment has announced 58,000 attendance at this year's Wizard World: Chicago
, taking place over last weekend. According to a note from Newsarama
at the end of the press release, Wizard doesn't answer questions as to how they get this number, whether each day's attendance is counted as an attendee or whether Gareb Shamus stands in an MMA
ring and holds his thumb up and takes a guess or what. The reaction from Newsarama
readers to the press release proves that at least one selection of comics fans doesn't believe this to be an accurate number, any way you want to count it. If nothing else, overwhelming on-the-ground rhetorical evidence indicates that this year's show was a step back from previous years, and the 58k figure would be a new record over last year's 56k.
This is important in two ways. One, softer or at least stagnant attendance is a bad sign for the WW series of shows, and as other shows are having banner years and making announcements that people actually believe, this may indicate that Wizard's model isn't as appealing as some. Proclaiming new records for every show doesn't exactly encourage tinkering. Two, putting out press releases that even mainstream comics fans give the finger to can't be good for the company's general relationship with the comics fan and comics pro that are still the heart of such shows. After an LA show that performed under expectations, a Philadelphia show that also released numbers that people who were on the floor did spit takes upon hearing, and last year's shifty debacle of a proposed Atlanta show to compete with Heroes Con, Wizard is a much less appealing dance partner than at any time in their recent past. I think this is important because conventions no longer function the way they used to, as places to find tons of stuff that you can't find elsewhere and to immerse yourself in a hobby in a social way that's not available to you any other time of the year -- the Internet provides both of those things for a lot of people now. Conventions these days need to be appealing events as well as provide the fundamentals of geek commerce. If you're gross, and skippable, fewer people both pro and fan will want to go.
Only a very small number will complain about the Chicago show's proximity to San Diego -- two weeks -- if the Chicago show improves to provide its own unique and worthwhile experience. And the good news for Wizard is that there seems to be a ton of room for basic improvement: pre-show press coverage was extremely light, particularly in mainstream news sources (when the paper in Munster, Indiana provides your big preview article, it's time to get on the phones); the panels sounded uninspired and Wizard's ability to work with companies to get announcements with fan heat out of them was mostly MIA; there are guests of honor with greater star wattage than Jeph Loeb that should be available for future cons; they won't be competing with Otakon in '07
and can pursue a greater manga presence; they could easily offer someone like Chicago Comics or Top Shelf extra space to have signings and programming with non-Wizard type artists reporters might want to cover even if the bulk of fans won't, and so on. They could also choose to stop bullshitting people with these weird claims for record-setting numbers that everyone sees coming and no one believes -- but one step at a time.
posted 9:34 am PST
Happy 61st Birthday, Posy Simmonds!
posted 9:24 am PST
Go, Read: Michael Davis Interview
ICv2.com has an interview with Michael Davis
about his new comics line partnership with Urban Ministries
, which Davis rightly recognizes not just as a giant in religious publishing but in African-American culture. Not only is the subject matter worth noting, you just don't see too many interviewees serving up anything like Davis' heated rhetorical flow.
posted 9:16 am PST
Happy 45th Birthday, Ted Stearn!
posted 9:02 am PST
Happy 39th Birthday, Josh Neufeld!
news from Dean Haspiel
posted 8:55 am PST
Review: La Perdida, Epileptic
Nick Anderson Rules YouTube.com
Contest Leads to Shop Name: Swin City
Not Comics: Loeb Charity Auction Bring in $72K
Lewis Re-Channels Robin Notes Into Power of Six
Congress to Learn About Internet Through Comic?
DMP Formal Announcement of New Imprint, Company
August 8, 2006
Missed It: Turkey Cartoon Context
This summary article
from last year (although it popped up today in a news search for some reason) points out that Turkey's court decisions against cartoonists haven't been limited to the Prime Minister filing suit against people that portray him as an animal. Apparently a cartoon collection of the strip Sunday Lovers
by Metin Ustundag
has been the subject of a court's ban on the grounds of "abusing the public's sexual feelings," although this new report lists the latest clearing of that book as a positive sign.
You can read the whole article for a lot of free press struggles-type context on what's going on in Turkey, although I'm pretty certain the "Batman penal court" mentioned right above the Ustundag note isn't what we all hope it might be.
posted 12:25 pm PST
Not Comics: Crumb On Stage (x4)
I'm not sure if when this article says
this is Hip Pocket Theatre's fourth staging they mean new plays, updated plays (my guess) or simply different productions, but this looks to be one of the stranger intersections between a cartoonist and another art form. Plus, I just sort of like the image.
posted 12:19 pm PST
Marvel's 2Q '06 Statement: Publishing Up, Income Down, Estimates Crushed
Marvel took an expected hit
in second-quarter figures released yesterday, but as its results pounded analysts' per-share and sales forecasts Marvel was able to raise the bottom end of its year-end profit forecast in what was in general a good day for the company. Publishing sales were up 21 percent due to a continued move into bookstores and better-than-expected sales on the mini-series Civil War
and its related comics.
As far as danger signs go, the always intensely Marvel-interested Motley Fool points
to diminished cash reserves brought on by buybacks and a related embrace of some debt, which may leave the studio in a strange position moving into the movie business; ICv2.com smartly notes
that toy retail sales were probably down and that the positive figure in the report reflected changes in the sales relationship as they move to Hasbro, following up with conference call
information that there have been disruptions in product flow.
posted 11:28 am PST
Changes at On-Line Heavy-Hitters
Joey Manley announces Achewood
moving a specialized subscriber-only package of 76 cartoons from Serializer
a couple of years back -- a selection distinct from its main free content offerings -- to WebComicsNation; Scott McCloud
calls attention to Perry Bible Fellowship
getting a presentational makeover.
news I find interesting in a weird way, in that it remains kind of amazing to me to think of on-line efforts, the reading of which is so locked into daily or weekly repetitive access, as having multiple iterations and deep resources and levels of audience interest where this kind of thing is possible. That sounds patronizing, but I mean it in a where-has-the-time-gone way; the quality of work has never been in question. If you think about it, though, Chris Onstad is essentially using content as a support mechanism for content, which is pretty great.
posted 10:58 am PST
ICv2.com: Tower Records Wobbling
ICv2.com did such a thorough job tracking the Musicland travails that it's no surprise they're on this story
about Tower Records' recent problems taking a noticeable dip for the worse, including not paying its bills. I have no idea who still sells through Tower or to what extent. While the comics business news and analysis site notes that Tower's problems won't be as major as Musicland's from a size standpoint, it's worth noting for a few reasons: 1) any disruption that may extend to comics publishers is potentially bad, as they tend to be less capitalized than some of the huge businesses talked about during the Musicland thing; 2) it's worth noting that historically Tower locations were kind of forward on carrying some comics material in the 1990s; 3) I don't think it's too big a leap to see such travails as potential lessons for all brick-and-mortar businesses as the nature of buying habits in an industry change.
posted 10:34 am PST
Go, Bookmark: Nickelodeon Magazine Blog Dedicated to Their Comics and Art
This looks to be a great resource for tracking the comics and art output from the hidden gem that is Nickelodeon Magazine
-- the above is from Eleanor Davis -- or following the artists back to their home bases.
posted 10:25 am PST
Local Publisher Profile: Fantagraphics
It's interesting to read profiles of comics companies as local companies, just so you can see how the newspaper or magazine boils down what the company does and its back story/essential character. For Fantagraphics in this case of a local newspaper report
it looks like it's a) principled publisher, b) classic strip comics, c) part of the comics boom, and d) saved by its fans.
posted 10:18 am PST
Happy 82nd Birthday, Gene Deitch!
posted 10:16 am PST
Profile of Ted Rall
Seattle P-I Profiles Ellen Forney
Local Cartoonist Profile: Brad McMillan
Locher Winner Wins Luckovich Contest
OTBP: CARtoons Book, Not That CARtoons
August 7, 2006
Latest Middle East Cartoon Fallout
Two feature articles show how a conflict like that currently unfolding in the Middle East has an impact on all areas of life, including ramifications for cartoonists. The first article profiles an unnamed member of an Israeli army group drawing cartoon propaganda dropped into Lebanon
, which I find fascinating on a number of levels. Meanwhile, Mazen Kerbaj's cartoon-oriented blog of personal missives from Beirut, which I hope has been bookmarked by many of you, is apparently not available
in every country in the region, because access to Flickr where the images are stored is denied. This looks to have led to some mirror posting and e-mailing of images, which I think is noteworthy as a groundswell of support.
posted 10:24 am PST
Darwyn Cooke on New Spirit, Eisner
Bob Andelman's interview with Darwyn Cooke about Will Eisner (click through the image) includes art from the forthcoming Spirit
comic -- unsurprisingly, it looks gorgeous.
posted 10:20 am PST
Not Comics: Luann the Rock Opera
There's a lot of color concerning Greg Evans' Luann
in this article about a museum exhibit
on family comic strips: the feature is still in approximately 300 papers, Evans sees Luann growing up into Cathy (not really, but in a way worth noting) and that he has written a musical version that a high school is putting on. For obvious reasons this reminds me of Mort Walker's effort to get Beetle Baily on stage
some twenty years ago.
posted 10:16 am PST
The solid profile of Jack Kirby
that accompanies the above fails to live up to that mind-blowing graphic, but to be honest I can't think of a piece of writing that would.
posted 10:10 am PST
Jess Fink Joins Manley's Porn Site
Joey Manley announces the launch
of Jess Fink's Dirty Limericks
, the first ongoing feature at his new pornographic comics site Adultwebcomics.com, and thus continues Manley's news-stuffed August 2006. Jessica Fink is a veteran of the Fantagraphics/Eros print stable.
posted 10:06 am PST
Go, Look: Partyka Guest Onsmith
posted 10:02 am PST
Missed It: Daily Cartoonist on Decline
I totally missed this feature
on Daily Cartoonist about the continuing decline of American newspaper circulation figures and the cartoon syndicates' reaction to those numbers and various future opportunities. It's a useful snapshot of the intractable problem that is declining sales numbers and various in-the-industry attitudes about what to do.
I still suspect that at times, behind closeed doors at the office and far away from the press, there might be more muttering and heads on desks than what comes through here, though.
posted 9:56 am PST
Comics Collective Launches Today
posted 7:15 am PST
Comics Registry: Rea Irvin
The great Rea Irvin has been added to this site's ongoing bibliography project, The Comics Registry.
posted 7:00 am PST
Go, Look: Syncopated Comics Site
posted 6:45 am PST
Chicago and the Weekend in Cons
The Collective Memory: Wizard World: Chicago 2006
entry is a work in progress. I've added about 25 more entries to Collective Memory: Comic-International 2006
since I hastily claimed I was done adding links.
As for Wizard World: Chicago itself, I'm hearing from friends and readers it was a dull show that lacked that furious fanboy edge even though it was targeted to the devoted superhero fan and superhero comic book purchaser to a greater degree than ever before. From-the-floor attendance estimations varied wildly, although Saturday was certainly healthy. Since Wizard was suspected of including tumbleweeds in its count at their less than packed Philadelphia show, any reported number will be met with great suspicion. ICv2.com
points at convention exhaustion and competing cons for the lack of a sharp show, factors which no doubt played some role, although 1) when I think of Wizard working on full cylinders, I don't think of gaming companies and manga, and 2) if you put on your Eltingville
hat and look at the comics people signing and what was announced from a distance, it doesn't sound like an exciting show on paper, either.
My guess is that people are extra tired from conventions this year because the season started in February, it's a hot, miserable summer and both airport and car travel have become much more difficult in a rabbit being cooked in slowly heated water way, and the mainstream North American comic book companies were caught at a down cycle in terms of hype. If you think about it, what is naturally up to be announced isn't the Next Big Event, but the calm before the Next Big Event, the brief return to kicky-punchy status quo after DC's multi-year Cosmic Rape Odyssey and Marvel's Civil War
("What Side is Captain America On?") miniseries before whatever new pair of line-spanning sagas stomp in and plop up top of the sales chart. For the mainstream comics fan, Wizard World: Chicago sounds like it was going to the cineplex and getting trailers for all the movies that open in March.
No matter the reason, if I were an official at a mainstream comics company I would take note of and be slightly worried about any
fall-off in enthusiasm from the historically dependable Chicago/Midwest meat and potatoes comic book reader.
Baltimore's manga and anime expo Otakon
plays the role in anime and manga expos the old Chicago show used to play for comics -- the recognized number two con, with approximate attendance of 20,000-25,000. Anime News Network ran this general summary
of industry panels, and a lot of sites had news of a new yaoi manga company
. There will likely be some comics culture heat on the Tokyopop announcement of on-line exclusives
, as a perfect chatroom storm of something manga-related and something on-line related and something retailer-relations related, but my gut says this isn't a significant enough move to be anything other than noted and filed away to see how it develops. I have a pretty poor record with manga predictions, though.
The British small press show Caption
was this weekend, too, I believe. Not much in the way of reports as of yet that I can find, but I do see a few anticipatory blog postings.
In some ways, small press shows are more important to those cartoonists than big shows are to the big mainstream writers and artists.
posted 6:30 am PST
Happy 49th Birthday, Paul Dini!
posted 6:15 am PST
Librarian Reviews Titles About Comics
Baptist Paper Profiles Christian Comics
Cartoonists From Europe and Asia to Singapore
Tom Crippen's Millions Not Quite All They Could Be
Mark Evanier Finds Market That Acts Like Comics Market
August 6, 2006
CR Sunday Magazine
A Short Interview With Jeff Parker
Go, Read: Alan Moore at Nerve
A Site Designed to Drive People Insane
This French-language site for Kaiji Kawaguchi's Zipang
is cleanly designed, informative and guaranteed to make you go crazy if you keep the sound on for more than 45 seconds. Luckily, it's easy to turn off.
Go, Look: George Pratt Sketchbooks
you might have to play with the "open new windows" right click option to get some of this to open
Marc Sobel Reads Love and Rockets
Marc Sobel is marching through Love and Rockets
issue by issue and makes me want to do the same thing.
Not Comics: Collapse of Baseball Card Market
First Thought of the Day
I apologize if anyone has tried to phone in the last week. We had flooding down here and a lot of phone service got screwed up, including my own. Since my Internet works, and there are lots of people without service, I decided to wait about 10 days to see if the line comes back on its own. Considering how miserably hot it's been in the rest of the country, I don't want to rage against the occasional weirdness of our blissfully mild Southwestern Mountain summer
. I was caught in a hail storm yesterday out walking and couldn't bring myself to complain. Although, you know, ouch.
posted 7:42 am PST
This Week's Reviews
I am dutifully trying to catch up with my reviews. This week's targets of low-level critical discourse are:
* People and Poses
* Crazy Zine! #1
* Watching Days Become Years #3
* They Found The Car
* Wonderland #1
* Virgin Comics #0
* Louis Riel
* Emissary #3
* Casanova #3
* A Guidebook to the Center for Cartoon Studies
* The Baby Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea
* Read My Lips, Make My Day, Eat Quiche and Die!
* Mom's Cancer
posted 6:30 am PST
This Week's Five For Friday
Results for this week's "Five For Friday" -- Give the World Five Anthology Gimmicks -- are up now.
Thanks to all that participated. I really like the quality of the responses here.
posted 6:00 am PST
August 5, 2006
Robert Thaves, 1924-2006
Robert "Bob" Thaves, the pun-crazy cartoonist behind the long-running strip Frank and Ernest
, passed away on August 1 at age 81. According to writer and comics historian Mark Evanier
, the news was posted on the Frank and Ernest web site.
Thaves was an enthusiastic fan of cartoons as a youth, and a gifted mimic of popular features at the time. He published in college magazine while attending the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 1950. It would be 22 years before Thaves became a fully syndicated cartoonist, in 1972, following years in industrial psychology. The notice from the family says the strip was tried out at the family dinner table. Frank and Ernest
would achieve blockbuster status, with over 1000 clients, moving from NEA to United Media.
Frank and Ernest
was always an odd strip, featuring two characters that continued from panel to panel, in various forms, in non-sequential sequences that existed in service of that day's joke. Thaves' work offered up a unique solution to the shrinking space newspapers afforded comic strips: it featured a one-panel format, usually centered around that single gag or pun. Thaves won the National Cartoonist Society's divisional award in Panel Cartooning in 1983, 1984 and 1986. In the 1980s there was talk around the newspaper industry that Frank and Ernest
had benefited from a strange source: Gary Larson's mega-popular The Far Side
, which trafficked in the occasional pun itself and was considered a "weird" strip like Thaves'.
For a late starter in terms of not having his work syndicated until the year he turned 48, Thaves allowed Frank and Ernest
to become an early adopter of various digital opportunities common to strips today. It was the first major strip to feature its creator's e-mail address, it has an ambitious, content-driven web site, and claims are made on its behalf that it was the first to digitally color its Sundays and feature interactive strips on its web site.
Bob Thaves' son Tom will continue the strip. The younger Thaves has been working with the strip since 1997, affording the elder Thaves a semi-retirement.
posted 8:06 am PST
CR Week In Review
The top comics-related news stories from July 29 to August 4, 2006:
1. Israel's ambassador to Norway Miryam Shomrat files an official complaint
over a cartoon using Holocaust imagery to portray recent actions by the Israeli government.
2. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sues Mehmet Cagcag and the magazine Leman
for a cartoon portraying him as a tick. It's familiar ground for Erdogan's lawyers.
3. DC institutes an order adjustments policy.
Winner of the Week
Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., for reversing its decision
on whether or not to work with PictureBox, Inc.
Loser of the Week
Ilham Aliev, president of Azerbaijan, for shutting down Internet access
to a satirical web site that dared to make fun of him.
Quote of the Week
"I might not accept your submission. In fact, I probably won't; I'm very picky." -- New Modern Tales
Editor Shaenon Garrity, in the midst of this week's trend for cartoon recruitment.
Jughead has the right idea
posted 7:48 am PST
August 4, 2006
If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This
posted 4:39 pm PST
BBC Profiles Nepal's Batsyayana
A Nepalese political cartoonist with a compelling backstory of press repression and negotiating certain themes in order to be heard, Batsyayana pops up in the Western press every so often; this is one of the better profiles.
posted 11:55 am PST
NYT Reviews Feiffer at Adam Baumgold
As I recall, the show's been up all summer and is scheduled to close next week but it looks like unless the dating is weird the New York Times may have just noticed
; lots of artwork at the Adam Baumgold site
posted 11:23 am PST
Guardian Looks For Young Cartoonist
If you qualify and win
, not only do you get a pretty decent cash prize, but you are graced with one heck of a temporary platform for your work.
posted 11:15 am PST
Go, Look: Huizenga's SPX Badges
posted 11:12 am PST
Shaenon Garrity on MT's State of Union
New Modern Tales
editor Shaenon Garrity has made her first public statement
regarding the state of the site she's taken over, things like what to do if you're waiting on a response from the previous editor.
posted 11:04 am PST
Go, Look: Hope Larson in NY Times
posted 10:44 am PST
Viz Starts Promotion With BART
As your company gets bigger and more successful, the promotional efforts become more diverse
posted 10:37 am PST
Happy 40th Birthday, Charlie Adlard!
posted 10:25 am PST
A Brief Guide To Wizard World: Chicago
Here's my much less impressive guide to Chicago and the Wizard World: Chicago show, taking place the next few days in what is certain to be insanely grotesque heat defeated at the convention center by powerful air conditioning of the crisp, freezing variety only Midwesterners know how to make. Those of us who have been around for several years can remember a time when there was no Wizard World in front of Chicago, you could buy your American Splendor
s from Harvey Pekar
directly and the Chicago con was at least
the second-biggest show in the country. But that was a long time ago, an era that no doubt began with a few phone calls to Larry's Comics on Devon
and that saw its climax during the early-'90s Image Comics coming out party/sign-a-thon
Wizard World: Chicago
is still the second most important show for mainstream companies, and may be the
most important show for Marvel. Big mainstream comics companies like the Chicago crowds and are used to working with Wizard's magazine division on the kind of announcements they'll be making all weekend. For other companies, though, BookExpo America
and when added up a series of market-target shows like SPX
have grown more important than Chicago, and the new New York show may get big enough quick enough to become a competitor in terms of attendance. Anyway, Chicago remains a well-attended show after being rescued by Wizard in the late '90s, and is much loved by many people. Here are some tips.
1. First of all, you're not in Chicago. You're in the village of Rosemont
. Between O'Hare and Chicago proper, Rosemont is a hotel and convention hub that has hosted multiple Wrestlemanias in its stadium and has a semi-creepy reputation as a gated community. You won't experience any of that, though. You may not experience any sunshine, even. We used to call Chicago the Logan's Run show because 1) with the tubes connecting hotels and convention center you never had to go outside and 2) we're nerds. Anyway, adjust your expectations.
2. To say the same thing in a slightly different way, Chicago seems to be much more about the hotel bars, poker games and hanging out in someone's room than it is about heading out on the town or going to a party paid for with somebody's publicity budget.
3. Getting to the show is horrible, quite frankly. I used to work out there and a 25 minute commute in the morning became a 90 minute one at night in early rush traffic. It's better on the weekends. I believe you can take the El (you can get to Rosemont on the El, but I don't remember how far away the convention center is), but that's not exactly an easy journey, either. The best way to approach it is to make the journey part of the fun.
4. Chicago is the greatest American city in which to eat, doubly so if you value stuffing your gut more than experiencing a broad variety of subtle, delicate tastes. What you'll find in and around Rosemont is mostly a collecton of upscale chains. The Gino's
chains both do okay stuffed pizza (most of my friends prefer Gino's; I like Giordano's better); stuffed pizza being a Great Chicago Food. Another Great Chicago Food is the Chicago hot dog, which you can get nearby at Gold Coast
or Augie's Doggies
. I lived in Chicago for a few years and I never made taste distinctions between hot dog locations, so you might not have to, either.
5. If you still want to eat cheaply but also hit an actual Chicago hipster landmark, try Arturo's
at the Western elevated train stop. It's likely different now, and everything certainly
costs more as I haven't been there in 13 years. But it should still do you right for pretty cheap. They have parking, accept credit cards and are open 24 hours.
6. Honestly, you can eat on just about any corner in Chicago and have a decent meal. The neighborhood bars are fantastic, too.
7. If you make it into Chicago, perhaps staying over a day or two, both Chicago Comics
are worth a visit.
8. If you want to do something touristy, here's my personal pantheon of Chicago landmarks/experiences:
a) a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
b) a visit to the Art Institute to look at the Winslow Homers
c) a Sox game at Comiskey, making sure you stop by the old home plate and pay tribute
d) reading the Sun-Times in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton followed by an alcohol-fueled early lunch of steak sandwiches at the bar in Miller's Pub, making sure to raise a glass to the signed photo of Dick the Bruiser
e) seeing a good small theater production
f) shopping at the amazing Jazz Record Mart
g) cocktails at the Green Mill
9. Blues bar of choice: Buddy Guy's Legends
, but seeing some blues is not the requirement you'd think.
10. As for the show itself, Wizard World: Chicago is developing a quality reputation as that most retro of all things comics convention-related: a place to shop for old comics. Bring your want list and your wallet.
11. WWC is also a good place to have a slightly longer conversation with a small press artist you like or with whatever non-mainstream guys decided to attend; plan to take a longer walk around artist's alley than you might at other shows.
12. It may be limited in what comics it offers when compared to some of its rivals, but despite the thrust of some of its advertising Wizard World: Chicago still concerns itself with comics more than it does with movies or toys. You'll find many pros relaxed, in a good mood, and ready to socialize. Attend a panel and cheer for creative teams you know nothing about. Buy a cartoonist a drink. Look at some Charlie Biro
comics. Be responsible, be safe, and have a good time.
Native Chicago Ivan adds and admonishes:
1. Getting to the show is not horrible. The El will leave you less than 2 city blocks from the convention center. If you stay at an O'Hare area or Rosemont hotel the commute will be less than 15 minutes.
2. At the risk of sounding like a hopeless mid-westerner, we do not eat stuffed pizza in Chicago. [Editor's Note: D'oh!] Chicago is the home of deep dish pizza -- Giordano's and Gino's are both good, but Pizzerria Uno is where they created the deep dish pizza.
3. Arturo's is still open, still decent food and still fairly cheap.
posted 6:30 am PST
Happy 54th Birthday, Franco Saudelli!
posted 6:15 am PST
Hats Off To Homer Davenport
My Dad's Old Paper Criticizes Blondie
Cartoons Part of Anti-Semitism Watch
Justin Higgins Defends Comics 9/11 Honor
Baltimore Sun: Comics Should See More Ads
August 3, 2006
posted 1:51 pm PST
Erdogan Sues Over Portrayal as Tick
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apparently sued the satirical magazine Leman
and its cartoonist Mehmet Cagcag
for 25,000 Turkish liras ($16,700) over a cartoon portraying the politician as a tick. Erdogan has sued various Turkish publications depicting him as an animal in their pages, causing political groups throughout Europe to question his commitment to a free press. The cartoon in question this time used news of a tick-borne disease to craft a point about Erdogan's political performance. For those keeping track, this is the fourth installment in the ongoing "Erdogan as Animal" saga
, and you can cross the following off of your list:
1. Horse (April 2004)
2. Cat in a ball of wool (May 2004)
3. Frog, camel, monkey, snake, duck and elephant (February 2005)
Cagcag and Leman
are no strangers to controversy, having received death threats in 2003
for cartoons on the Palestinian situation. The trial is expected to start in September.
posted 9:42 am PST
Carlos Roque, 1936-2006
According to this report at afNews.com
, the artist Carlos Roque
passed away on July 27th in Louvain, Belgium. He was born in Lisbon, and got his start at the Portuguese newspaper Camarada
. A longtime contributor to Spirou
, Roque was known for his gag series "Angelique" and "Wladimyr" and for being one of the few artists from his home country to penetrate the mainstream of the French-language comics market.
posted 9:30 am PST
Cartoonists Profiled Coast to Coast
"The chrysanthemum-print wallpaper custom made from a William Morris pattern and selected by a design historian who guided her father's restoration still hangs in the living room. The foyer remains the baroque red of a place where sex is an entrepreneurial pursuit. The floral wallpaper in the master bathroom remains the same, as does the enormous glass-fronted cabinet in the library.
"Other flourishes are long gone, like the heavy draperies that Ms. Bechdel's old photos show hanging from tall windows in tenebrous colors, and the furniture arrayed in serpentine rhythms." -- The New York Times profiles Fun Home and follows Alison Bechdel home.
"Then there's the diarrhea. In 'Occupied,' done by Tatsumi when he was 35 -- about the same age Tomine is now -- a struggling children's comic-book artist (of course) gets fired from his job and plummets headlong into midlife crisis. But while on the toilet, he finds unexpected inspiration in perverted graffiti scrawled on the bathroom wall. 'I had to draw! I had to draw!' the guy says. 'I was overcome with the desire to draw.' That, Tatsumi and Tomine agree, is what cartooning is like."-- LA Weekly digs into the Adrian Tomine and Yoshihiro Tatsumi relationship.
posted 9:07 am PST
Mario Faustinelli, 1924-2006
Mario Faustinelli, a friend of Hugo Pratt and member of the Venice Group for whom that artist created his first feature, "Asso Di Piche" for the magazine of the same name edited by Faustinelli, died on July 31 following a long illness
. (Pratt is general acknowledged to have co-created the character with the writer Alberto Ongaro, but Faustinelli wrote the feature as well.) Going to Argentina with that group of artists that included Pratt looking for opportunities after World War II devastated the Italian comics industry, Faustinelli began to concentrate on painting in addition to his comics work. He returned to Italy in 1957.
posted 8:44 am PST
People Are Talking About Their Comics
"So, as I became a young man, I started to feel that what was required in comics at that point (humor) seemed frivolous or silly. I became more interested in creating works influenced by detective works and a more realistic world. Before I started making these more mature works, there would never have been a murder scene in comics. I started depicting murder scenes and adults committing murder and having no regrets afterward. [When these were published] there were organizations that began pressuring rental shops to censor [them]. They started policing the material, saying these books were a bad influence on children." -- Yoshihiro Tatsumi at PWCW
"Doing stuff for kids is pretty much the same as doing stuff for adults. I just have to exchange the sex and violence and profanity for boogers and pizza and Christmas." -- Johnny Ryan at the UK The Beat
"I perfectly understand that artists have to feed themselves and their children, or that somebody might wish for 'better exposure,' or better money, or that somebody would basically just be open to offers from anyone, and so on. But on the other hand, some artists would not accept higher pay if it meant being part of a shitty collection, or letting down the smaller publisher thanks to which they exist, or just mixing with assholes, etc. I mean, it's still a choice everyone can make. It's just like in the music biz; you'll have the bands that stay at their small label, while others will accept a deal at a major, sometimes for good, most often not. And the question will remain as long as artists wanna make a living with their art." -- JC Menu, from an excerpt of his interview at the TCJ.com site
posted 8:15 am PST
Comics Talent Needed Everywhere
Well, a couple of places, anyway.
* Warren Ellis will be looking at submissions for his webcomics collective, Rocket Pirates
, which he discusses here.
* Devil's Due is looking for artists for two specific projects, described in this press release.
posted 6:30 am PST
Go, Look: Oota Keiticle
posted 6:15 am PST
Cagle Adds Four Cartoonists
Niche Cartoonist Profile: David Reddick
Amazing Story of Manga and Murder Case
Local Cartoonists Profile: Murphy and Mise
The Speculation Theory of '90s Market Crash
August 2, 2006
If I Were Nearby, I'd Go To This
posted 5:00 pm PST
Azerbaijanis Kept From Internet Comics
So if you're the president of a country and there's this web site
that occasionally runs cartoons that make fun of you, how do you keep your people from reading it? When your name is Ilham Aliev and your government controls the long-distance network most of your Internet-accessing citizens use
, it's not very hard.
posted 2:29 pm PST
In Praise of Diamond: Distributor To Work With PictureBox, Inc. After All
It's my understanding that dominant North American comic book distributor Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc.
has reversed its earlier position whereby it declined to work with small arts-comics and art publisher PictureBox, Inc.
after taking a look at its material, and will now work with the publisher on a series of solicitations. Does this mean I think that PictureBox will be a success in the comic book direct market? No, I think it will be tough for PictureBox. PictureBox's books have thus far been mostly exquisite but most exist at the far end of standard comics expression. Today's direct market recently proved too tough for a comic book starring Jack Kirby's The Thing, Marvel's heroes-with-feet-of-clay Alpha character; something as delicate and odd as Cold Heat
isn't exactly a guaranteed home run.
At the same time, I feel it's extremely important that publishers who have their act together -- and Dan Nadel's attention to production values, consistent and recognizable taste and ability to secure high-end book distribution deals qualifies him on that count -- are given the chance to see what they can do in that marketplace. The more quality comics-first publishers given access to the market the greater the chance the market may grow and change in ways that are important beyond the bottom line. So I commend Diamond for giving Mr. Nadel and his books a chance, and for the courage to change its mind.
posted 1:51 pm PST
DC Institutes Adjustments Program
This is a fairly big and I think fairly positive news story, thoroughly leaked by now but I preferred the write-up here
for clarity. Basically, the DC Final Order Cut-Off program institutes a series of standards by which direct market (comic shop and hobby store) retailers can adjust orders on certain groups of books according to certain time constraints. This is desirable in order to both better control one's supply and to react to shifts in demand for certain products. As the article notes, Marvel has a similar program and DC has been trying out this type of ordering with its weekly series 52
. Although the linked article doesn't mention it, I believe that Marvel's program was in many ways a response to the issues raised in the Brian Hibbs-led lawsuit against the company for not meeting the obligation of its strict sales terms. Although in a perfect world these types of programs would be the result of a conscious effort by these companies to improve the system rather than a forced to/reacted to model, no one should complain about the original impetus when the end result is greater control given to those on the front lines of retail.
posted 1:22 pm PST
Please Tell Me You See It, Too
If you go to this site to read a month of Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse
-- a great way to take in a strip, by the way -- I swear that in some panels the characters blink. At least for me they do. It's been a long week.
posted 1:12 pm PST
Cartoonist May Sue Card Company
This is a link
to Gary Huck's famous oil cartoon. This is a story
about Gary Huck's feelings about defending his ownership of that cartoon. This is me caught between admiration for an artist defending his rights against commercial exploitation and being slightly uncomfortable with the idea of legal ownership of humorous expression.
posted 9:07 am PST
Go, Look: Late Book's Cover Art
This Fall's "oral autobiography" from Fantagraphics, Comics As Art: We Told You So
, ended up being late enough it somehow scored a Dan Clowes cover, perversely rewarding the writer's sloth.
posted 8:55 am PST
Go, Read: Alan Moore Interview
A reasonably long and, as one might expect, compelling interview with the writer Alan Moore on his new work Lost Girls
, has been conducted by Noel Murray and posted at The A.V. Club.
I'd quote, but you should read the whole thing.
posted 8:39 am PST
Happy 42nd Birthday, Danny Hellman!
posted 8:36 am PST
Go, Read: Eric Orner Profile
MoMA Does Comics Imagery Show
Adult Comics Fans Fuel Noxon Book
Local Shop Profile: Action Games & Comics
Local Cartoonists Profiled: Afterthought Team
August 1, 2006
Joey Manley: Shaenon Garrity Replaces Eric Burns as Editor of Modern Tales
The Viz editor and popular webcartoonist Shaenon Garrity of Narbonic
(pictured) and Smithson
fame has been named the editor of the on-line comics effort Modern Tales
, according to an announcement
made by the site's founder Joey Manley at the Comixpedia site this morning. Garrity takes over for Eric Burns
, who Manley says let the position go due to unrelated "life issues." Manley praises Garrity's knowledge of all things comics and notes her work as a volunteer at the Cartoon Art Museum in addition to her professional accomplishments.
In related news, T Campbell is leaving Graphic Smash
to be succeeded by Tim Demeter, while the writer Warren Ellis is working with Manley to create a free webcomics portal
posted 10:51 am PST
Claypool Cancels Three Titles After Diamond Edict; One To Go On-Line
If I'm understanding the press release
correctly, Claypool Comics is cancelling its long-running titles Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
(with February 2007's #166), Soulsearchers and Company
(with that same month's #82), and Deadbeats
(with the next month's #82). They plan to then place new adventures in the Deadbeats
series on-line. Call me cynical, but this seems more like a cancellation/salvage action as opposed to what we think of when we think of a company moving on-line. This move is the result of the company's many months of negotiation with Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. after that company informed Claypool last Fall they were no longer meeting minimum sales standards of the kind that allow for a profitable relationship between the dominant distributor of North American comic books and one of its clients.
On the one hand, it's hard to argue that a company with Claypool's history and pedigree wasn't given a chance to prove itself in the marketplace, that it wasn't a known quantity to retailers and readers, who in a broad sense simply weren't interested in those comics at a level that the distributor could make work. On the other hand, it's easy to become dismayed as Claypool contributor Peter David has
that cancellations aren't usually the province of the middle partner in the publisher/distributor/seller relationship. Of course, this is the playing field that resulted when back in the '90s Marvel yee-hawed its way off the direct market cliff by trying to distribute itself, DC saw this as a moment to press for an advantage instead of dig in and bleed some resource money waiting for a correction, and Image was unwilling to spend its capital (har har) propping up a system even if it would have benefited them greatly in the long run. No one should be surprised. It's amazing it hasn't happened before now.
One thing I find slightly ridiculous is that despite its position as the market
, Diamond seems to still be working some angles as if it were one agent among many in a freewheeling, complex distribution and sales landscape. Again, if I'm reading the PR correctly, what was available to Claypool to make needed changes during this time of crisis was a series of purchased promotional services like flyers, posters and free comics. I could be totally wrong about this, but it seems slightly ludicrous that at this late date detailed information isn't in the hands of every publisher, not just the ones with something to trade for it in 1995, so that each can improve their market position and be targeting their market shortcomings all along. Diamond has the retailers' hearts and their ability to write timely checks is not lost on publishers; they're not in any real danger of losing money to direct sales from publisher to shop, at least not any more than bad service costs them already and, ironically, neglect in building stronger secondary-client distribution channels costs them in the future as these companies shrink and scramble to survive. What should concern us isn't whether or not Claypool deserved to be shown the door but if everyone without a major crossover superhero mini-series is being given the best chance to succeed.
posted 10:07 am PST
CBLDF Announces Massively Successful Comic-Con; Sketches Remainder of 2006
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
, the long-running non-profit organization that advocates for the free speech rights of members of the comics industry including mustering legal defenses for entities targeted for prosecution in violation of those rights, has announced a massively successful 2006 Comic-Con International
, with monies raised on multiple fund-raising fronts (parties, memberships, an auction included) topping out at $67,000. There is a press release here
and a longish interview with Executive Director Charles Brownstein here
. In the Newsarama
interview, Brownstein goes over some of the Fund's goals for the rest of the year 2006, which include an expected victory in the Gordon Lee case currently grinding through its last days in Georgia and at least a pair of ambitious educational initiatives. The Fund's ability to maximize its time in San Diego to raise money for what one hopes is the final stages of the Lee case has to be considered a victory for and an industry vote of confidence in Charles Brownstein (pictured), after conduct questions were raised earlier this year stemming from a late 2005 incident.
posted 9:51 am PST
Dupuy and Berberian: Article, Comic
The French TV guide Telerama
, a publication that frequently features articles about cartoonists and comics, has a profile of Dupuy and Berberian
up on their site, as well as a four-page comic
. Check out the way the text pops on the comics page when you roll over it with your mouse -- I can't tell if that's really cool or really annoying, but it sure is different.
posted 7:00 am PST
Go, Read: Sean Phillips' Blog
Via Matt Maxwell
posted 6:45 am PST
What Editorial Cartoonists Do Now
An interesting article by David Astor
on the expanded duties embraced by many staff editorial cartoonists, particularly concerning newspaper on-line strategies, has been posted at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists site with Astor's permission.
posted 6:30 am PST
Happy 75th Birthday, Tom Wilson Sr.!
posted 6:15 am PST
Dilbert's Scott Adams Ties the Knot
Congratulations to Scott Adams on becoming a husband and stepfather, although I imagine the primary interest most comics people will have in this article
about the successful cartoonist's recent wedding is its informal march through some of his business dealings.
If you prefer your news of connubial bliss to be of the small-press, comic-book variety, try this.
posted 6:10 am PST
Kevin Frank Profile
Miami Loves Civil War
Andrew WK, Cartoonist
Montreal Gazette on Classic Julie Doucet
Local Comic Scene Profile: McAllen, Texas
Daily Blog Archives