Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary















September 30, 2008


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

* I don't fully understand a lot of the new sites about comics that pop up, and I don't understand this one beyond the fact that seems like it would be an expensive URL. I did get the usual e-mail from someone at the site talking about how I should be assisting them to do whatever, and how it will benefit me to do so.

image* the latest iteration of the Legion of Superheroes will end at issue #50. That's the cover image from #49, by the way. Anyway, not that DC canceling stuff or a Legion title biting the dust is ever news, but I had to wonder: how many times out in official fashion is that for this series? Six? Seven? Eight?

* the publisher Del Rey has announced two manga series from a newly-formed partnership with Cartoon Network: Bakugan Battle Brawlers and Ben 10 Alien Force. The first book will be December's Bakugan Battle Brawlers: The Battle Begins, and will employ stills from the animated shows. The Ben 10 Alien Force series will begin in April. Original works in both series will start the next season: Summer 2009 (BBB) and Fall 2009 (B10AF).

* this seems like a pretty ambitious on-line endeavor man-hours wise for a promotional thing. Hadn't heard of the book before now, so I guess the announcement part worked.

* finally, if you're ever really, really bored you can always look at a bunch of forthcoming (mostly) small-press work by going to a blog search engine and typing in the phrase "my graphic novel." Here are some from the first page that pops up today: Kalpa, Sharks and Butterflies, Untitled by Dave Wagner, Untitled from Chris Harrison, Untitled by Megan Baehr.
 
posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Pat Oliphant Cartoon Featuring Sarah Palin Draws Hundreds Of Complaints

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I missed this: the cartoonist Pat Oliphant's early September cartoon that feature Sarah Palin speaking in tongues led to at least 350 complaints. One reason for that may have been that it automatically went to an on-line feed, an incident and practice discussed here.
 
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Two More Staff Cartoonists Let Go

News has hit various newspaper industry news sources about two more editorial cartoon positions lost. Richard Crowson of the Wichita Eagle was laid off, according to a note at Editor & Publisher, having held that position for slightly more than two decades. Peter Dunlap-Shohl accepted a buy-out from the Anchorage Daily News rather than let one of the other two people in his department take the hit. He had also been at his position for more than 20 years. E&P estimates that there are about 80 staffed editorial cartoonist positions still out there.
 
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Collective Memory: BCC 2008

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning Baltimore Comic-Con, held September 27-28 at the convention center in Baltimore, Maryland.

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people

*****

Institutional
Convention
Physical Location
Host City
Harvey Awards

Audio, Photos, Video
Ad House Books
Evil, Inc.
Greyloch
mrghode1
Stuart Immonen
Vinh-Luan Luu

Blog Entries
Adhouse Books
Aquariann
Are You A Serious Comic Book Reader?

Bent Corner

Capes & Babes
Capt'n Eli
Critical-Hits
CWR: Harvey Results

Danny Douglas
davextreme
Drew's Reviews
Duck and Cover Studios

fanboywonder

Howling Curmudgeons

Jimmy T's Blog
Johanna Draper Carlson
Johanna Draper Carlson on Convention Giveaways
Johanna Draper Carlson Post Mid-Show

Lost Ronin Studios

Matt Maxwell
Mike Manley

Rablog
Rebel Scum
Rob's Blog
Russ Anderson

Stuart Immonen

The Beat At The Harveys 01
The Beat At The Harveys 02
The Beat At The Harveys 03
The Beat BCC Preview
The Far Reaches
The Illustrator Blog
The Process
The Surfing Pizza
The Zap! Pow! Zoom! Initiatives

News Stories and Columns
CBR: Boom! Studios Panel
CBR: The Superman Panel
CBR: Marvel Your Universe Panel
CBR: Image Comics Panel
CBR: Webcomics Panel
CBR: Harvey Awards Winners
CBR: Bendis/Kirkman Debate
CBR: Cup of B Panel
CBR: Tucci Presents Sgt. Rock
CBR: DC Nation Panel
CBR: Love of Comics Panel

ComicMix: Bendis/Kirkman Debate

Critical Hits

Johns Hopkins Publications

Newsarama: Boom! Studios Panel
Newsarama: Image Comics Panel
Newsarama: Bendis/Kirkman Debate
Newsarama: Dark Horse Panel
Newsarama: Superman Panel
Newsarama: Cup of B Panel
Newsarama: DC Nation Panel

PWCW

Retriever Weekly

Tucker Stone on DC Comics Panel
Tucker Stone Predicts The Harveys
Tucker Stone on the Convention Overall

Variety

Wizard: Bendis/Kirkman Debate

*****



*****
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Your 2008 Harvey Awards Winners

The 2008 Harvey Awards winners were announced during a ceremony on Saturday, September 27, at the Marriott Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore. The awards are named after the legendary cartoonist and comics editor Harvey Kurtzman. I believe they are the only North American major comics awards focused primarily on comic books in which the general voting pool generates both nominees and winners. This year's winners are in bold.

*****

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BEST WRITER
* Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Grant Morrison, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone
* Brian K. Vaughan, Y: The Last Man, Vertigo/DC Comics

*****

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BEST ARTIST
* Gabriel Ba, Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics
* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Guy Davis, BPRD, Dark Horse Comics
* Frank Quitely, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

*****

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BEST CARTOONIST
* Darwyn Cooke, The Spirit, DC Comics
* Matt Kindt, Super Spy, Top Shelf
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press
* Vasilis Lolos, Last Call, Oni Press
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

*****

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BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM - ORIGINAL
* The Arrival, Scholastic Books
* Donald Duck: The Case of the Missing Mummy, Gemstone
* Exit Wounds, Drawn & Quarterly
* Laika, First Second
* Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press

*****

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BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED
* The Annotated Northwest Passage, Oni Press
* Antiques, Vol. 1, Gemstone
* Captain America Omnibus, Vol. 1, Marvel Comics
* Damned, Vol. 1, Oni Press
* Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, Marvel Comics

*****

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BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT
* Complete Peanuts, Fantagraphics Books
* Complete Terry and the Pirates, IDW
* EC Archives, Gemstone
* Popeye, Fantagraphics Books
* Walt and Skeezix, Drawn & Quarterly

*****

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BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL
* Eduardo Risso's Tales of Terror, Dynamite Entertainment
* Exit Wounds, Drawn & Quarterly
* Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Abrams
* Moomin, Vol. 2, Drawn & Quarterly
* Witchblade Manga, Top Cow/Image

*****

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SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR
* Chris Eliopoulos, Franklin Richards, Marvel Comics
* Nicholas Gurewitch, Perry Bible Fellowship, www.pbfcomics.com
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

*****

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BEST ON-LINE COMIC
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney, Self-Published.
* EZ Street, Robert Tinnell and Mark Wheatley, Comic Mix
* Penny Arcade, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, Self-Published.
* Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch, Self-Published
* Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo, Dwight L. Macpherson, Thomas Boatwright and Thomas Mauer, Drunk Duck

*****

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SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION
* The Annotated Northwest Passage, Scott Chantler, Oni Press
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books
* EC Archives, Various, edited by Russ Cochran, Gemstone
* Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez, Villard
* Super Spy, Matt Kindt, Top Shelf

*****

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BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY
* Alice in Sunderland, Dark Horse Comics
* All Star Superman # 8, DC Comics
* Captain America # 25, Marvel Comics
* Donald Duck: The Case of the Missing Mummy, Gemstone
* I Killed Adolf Hitler, Fantagraphics Books
* Immortal Iron Fist #7, Marvel Comics
* Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen # 1, Oni Press

*****

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BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION
* Blah Blah Blog, Tom Brevoort, Marvel.com
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth and Michael Dean, Fantagraphics Books
* Meanwhile...: A Biography of Milton Caniff, R.C. Harvey, Fantagraphics Books
* The Naked Artist: Comic Book Legends, Bryan Talbot and Hunt Emerson, Moonstone Books
* Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, edited by J.C. Vaughn, Gemstone
* Reading Comics: How Graphic Albums Work and What They Mean, Douglas Wolk, Da Capo Press

*****

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BEST COVER ARTIST
* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Marko Djurdjevic, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* James Jean, Fables, Vertigo/DC Comics
* Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Dark Horse Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

*****

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BEST LETTERER
* Chris Eliopoulos, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Jared K. Fletcher, The Spirit, DC Comics
* Willie Schubert, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone
* Douglas E. Sherwood, Local, Oni Books
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library, Acme Novelty

*****

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BEST COLORIST
* Susan Daigle-Leach, Uncle Scrooge, Gemstone
* Jamie Grant, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* Matt Hollingsworth, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Matt Kindt, Super Spy, Top Shelf
* Laura Martin, Thor, Marvel Comics

*****

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BEST INKER
* Stefano Gaudiano, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Steve Leialoha, Fables, DC Comics
* Mark Morales, Thor, Marvel Comics
* Kevin Nowlan, Witchblade, Top Cow/Image

*****

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BEST SYNDICATED STRIP OR PANEL
* Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau, Universal Press Syndicate
* Get Fuzzy, Darby Conley, United Feature Syndicate
* The K Chronicles, Keith Knight, Self-Syndicated
* The Mighty Motor-Sapiens, Mark Wheatley, Daniel Krall, Robert Tinnell, MJ Butler, Craig Taillerfer, Matthew Plog, and Jerry Carr, Self-Syndicated
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate

*****

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BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES
* All Star Superman, DC Comics
* Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Damned, Oni Press
* Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics
* Uncle Scrooge, Gemstone Comics

*****

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BEST NEW SERIES
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* The Order, Marvel Comics
* Resurrection, Oni Press
* Thor, Marvel Comics
* Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics

*****

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BEST NEW TALENT
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Jeff Lemire, Essex County, Top Shelf
* Vasilis Lolos, Last Call, Oni Press
* Robbi Rodriguez, Maintenance, Oni Press
* Christian Slade, Korgi #1: Sprouting Wings, Top Shelf

*****

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BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Flight Vol. 4, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Ballantine Books
* Mome Vol. 8, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics Books
* Popgun Vol. 1, edited by Joe Keatinge and Mark Andrew Smith, Image Books
* Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriquez, Villard
* Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, edited by John Clark, Gemstone

*****
*****
 
posted 3:57 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were Near Yale, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Charles Hatfield's Trip To The Center For Cartoon Studies

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Go, Read: 150 Panels Of Concrete

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Go, Look: Heeb's Best Of 5768

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* officials expect a resolution soon in a dispute between Geppi's Entertainment Museum and the state agency that rents space to it. Depending on how you look at the world, you may be more shocked by the rent figures being thrown around or by the fact that Geppi's museum isn't a non-profit.

* if I'm reading this correctly, the Seattle Times is in the midst of a massive changeover to emphasize on-line content, which should include the liberal use of editorial cartoons. In fact, this makes me think that editorial cartoons may not even be in the print edition anymore -- or appear much less frequently than they used to. The Times is a real meat-and-potatoes newspaper in a lot of ways, so I'll be interested to see how this goes over.

image* the interesting thing to me about the forthcoming Windy City Comicon on October 25 is that it's being held in within Chicago proper, at the Center on Halsted, which is basically three blocks towards the lake from the Waveland side of Wrigley. Being inside of a city like Chicago means you might be slightly less accessible to people in the suburbs and in, say, Milwaukee, but you're a lot closer to a lot of city folk that don't want to go all the way out by O'Hare. I think a number of people will be checking in on this to see how they did.

* the writer Paul Gravett offers up a 2001 article about comics reading habits around the world -- I had not seen those figures for Mexico before. Judging from what I saw in Rome's airport last month, you're much more likely to find manga there today than you are a copy of a Joe Kubert album.

* building on this theme, Matt Thorn takes a two-part look at the latest Mainichi newspaper manga reading survey compiled in 2007 and published earlier this year.

* this article suggests that United Media only recently offered their on-line and e-mailed daily comics in color.

* those of you with a fondness for goofy superhero comic books that prefer the days when there wasn't a super-obsessive, moralistic fan community digging into plot points according to some precious conception of a favorite character and thus ruining the simple joys of junk-culture might join me in making a yuck face whenever today's fans decide to go over some narrative from 30 years ago in that same, relentless, bordering-on-miserable fashion.

* this DC panel report by Tucker Stone from last weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con captures the essential strangeness experienced any not-diehard fan that rolls into one of these presentations, although I'm happy to hear that the Green Lantern milieu has been thematically re-worked to better correspond to Jimi Hendrix's "Axis, Bold as Love." I've long wondered if you could have an entire panel made up of presentations from old panels without anyone knowing the difference.

* site note: I should be caught up with 50 Things A Comics Collection Should Have additions by the time this rolls out; thank you to all that participated so far and please keep them coming if it interests you.

* finally, I love the suggestion made here, perhaps unintentionally, that a reason why webcomics cartoonists do their originals on paper is to facilitate original art sales.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Deni Loubert!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Jack Ohman Event Report

History
Domingos Isabelinho's Comics Canon

Industry
Tundra Growing Quickly
Matt Bors to Free Inquiry
Hi and Lois Crushes Competition
Another Paper Changes Its Comics
Pennsylvania View Of New George Trial

Interviews/Profiles
Baltimore Sun: Bernie Wrightson
Message For The Week: Dale Wilson
Boytoons: Dale Lazarov, Amy Colburn
The Commonwealth Times: Allison Smith

Not Comics
This Story Shall The Good Man Teach His Son

Publishing
Indian Comics On-Line
Noah Berlatsky Discovers a Spider-Man Magazine

Reviews
AV Club: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Jog: Swallow Me Whole
Pol Culture: The Night Fisher
Jason Thompson: Faust Vol. 1
Sean T. Collins: Fatal Faux-Pas
Greg McElhatton: Northlanders #9-10
Matthew J. Brady: The Boy Who Made Silence
Rob Clough: The Complete Peanuts 1969-1970
Ben Strasser: All Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder #10
 

 
September 29, 2008


Go, Bookmark: Semi-Retired Critic Domingos Isabelinho Has A Blog

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OTBP: The Real Cost Of Prisons

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Go, Look: Presidential Debate Sketches

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Go, Look: Matt Forsythe

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Sean T. Collins presents a way of understanding the recent financial crisis a significant percentage of us will understand, although we probably wish we couldn't.

* not comics: I'm not sure why I remember this, but the late Paul Newman was once the next-door neighbor of the late comic book artist Gil Kane; the Kanes named their son, Scott, after Newman's son. From Kane's 1996 Comics Journal interview with Gary Groth: "We used to call him Brando because he was blonde-haired and looked just like Marlon Brando. The turned-up upper lip. At that time we found out he was in Picnic [on Broadway]. He was the understudy. He finally left the community when he went to make a movie called The Silver Chalice. He moved from where we were to a better community near us called Fresh Meadows." It is widely believed that Kane's version of Hal Jordan, Green Lantern's secret identity, was physically based on a young Newman, although I have no idea how true that is or who has claimed it and I'm not certain it's worth tracking down.
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Russ Heath!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Tim Vigil!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Jennifer Daydreamer!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Nicolas de Crecy!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Iowa Show Report
Horror at the Harveys
Bellingham Show Report
Webcomics Panel at BCC
Alison Bechdel Event Report

Industry
I Hate Your Cartoon
Calgary Comics Scene
Comics = Culture and Commerce
Manga Class For Special Group Of Teens

Interviews/Profiles
Inside Movies: Stan Lee
Splash Page: Ron Wimberly
Washington Times: Julie Negron
Business Standard: Saad Akhtar
Pakistan Observer: Charles Schulz

Not Comics
The Feature That Will Not Die

Publishing
Stantis Brought On To Balance Luckovich

Reviews
Lisa Damian: Fluffy
Mel Odom: Locke and Key
Richard Krauss: Mallard #4
Pauline Wong: A Wise Man Sleeps Vol. 1
Bill Williams: Star Trek: The Complete Comic Book Collection
 

 
September 28, 2008


On The Passing Of Raymond Macherot

imageBy Kim Thompson

My reaction upon learning of the death of Raymond Macherot was an emphatic "merde." He was the last surviving member of the seven Grand Old Belgians who so far as I am concerned were responsible for the glory of French comics post-war -- Franquin, Morris, Peyo, Roba, Will, and Tillieux being the others -- and the only one who did most of his best work for Tintin magazine rather than Spirou (although his undisputed masterpiece, Chaminou et le Khrompire, was the first thing he did for Spirou).

Even though his predilection for funny-animals and simple drawing style made his work seem to be the most childish of the lot (which is why I didn't pay particular attention to him when I was an adolescent -- dumb kid!), he had a dark wit that, years later, makes his work as fresh as ever even as his other cohorts look dated. And of course that simple drawing was exquisite. On to of which he was, of his peer group, the most willing to mix it up and try out new series concepts even if his publishers tended to squash them and push him back into the box of his two bucolic series, Chlorophylle and Sybilline.

imageHe hasn't been particularly well served in terms of reprints, either -- much of his later (admittedly weaker) Sibylline work was not even collected into albums, and Chaminou remains, insanely, out of print -- and he would be on the very bottom of my list of European cartoonists likely to ever make it into English. One hopes that his death might spur either the mainstream publishers who released the work, or energetic smaller publishers, to get more of it back into print. I'll have my Euros ready!

I have many regrets, but not slipping some Macherot into Critters when I had the chance is near the top of the list today.

*****

Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics co-publisher, editor of the 1980s funny animal anthology Critters and longtime champion of European comics in North America, was nice enough to send us this letter on Friday evening. I liked it enough I wanted to spotlight it here for a day before moving it over into the letters section. Thanks, Kim.

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If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Edmonton, I'd Go To This

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Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: Milton Knight's Midnite The Rebel Skunk

* go, look: Michael Kupperman shorts

* go, look: they claim they are the future of comics publishing

* go, look: Endtime Illustrated

* go, look: Teamwork, The Star Trek Way
 
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FFF Results Post #135 -- Powers

On Friday afternoon, participating CR readers were asked "What Four Superpowers Do You Have (1-4), and What One Superpower Do You Want (5)?" The subject was suggested by Richard Pachter. Here are the results.

*****

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Richard Pachter

1. Ordering Chinese food for takeout or large gatherings
2. Making mixtapes (or CDs)
3. Keeping strolling musicians away from my table at restaurants
4. Knowing if my friend Ron Farber is on the phone when it rings
5. Flying

*****

Tom Spurgeon

1. Waking up whenever I tell myself I'm going to wake up.
2. Packing a suitcase for a long trip so that it weighs between 49.2 and 49.8 pounds without my having to weigh it to check.
3. Convincing large groups of people to skinny dip.
4. Being my own second worst enemy.
5. Eating planets.

*****

Kathryn Immonen

1. Singlehandedly carrying an inordinate number of boxes
2. Finding vintage clothing on the racks at Goodwill
3. Parallel parking
4. Quickly opening any sealed packaging
5. Invisibility

*****

Danny Fingeroth

Superpowers I have:
1. Parallel parking
2. Ignoring clutter
3. Calming agitated people
4. Agitating calm people

Superpower I want:
5. Time travel

*****

James C. Langdell

1. Causing computer equipment to break down just by being there
2. Conducting music at sight
3. Reaching into piles of paper on my cluttered desk to grab what I need
4. Driving smoothly
5. Disintegration beams

*****

Dave Knott

1. Procrastination
2. Remaining "just friends" with every acquaintance of the opposite sex
3. Eating any kind of food with no sign of disgust
4. Riding a bicycle for thousands of miles to get to a comics convention
5. Immortality

*****

Scott Dunbier

1) Can catch 40 quarters off my elbow.
2) Can predict to the minute how long a car trip will take.
3) My gravy at Thanksgiving.
4) Remembering phone numbers as well as all issue numbers from comics with art by Neal Adams.
5) To stop time.

*****

Roger Langridge

Gots:
1. That thing where you double your forefinger over and pretend the thumb of your other hand is the tip, then pretend to pull off the end of your own finger (preferably in front of small children)
2. Trumpetting like an elephant (again, to delight two-year-olds)
3. Typing with one finger at super-speed, assuming I haven't pulled the end off
4. Being able to hand-letter my comics without a computer (it feels more and more like a super-power every day)

Wants:
5. The ability to freeze time for everyone but me

*****

Gabriel Roth

1. reading in the car without getting carsick (when I was a kid my parents were so impressed by this that I actually imagined it might get me into the Legion of Super-Heroes).
2. speaking extemporaneously.
3. doing repetitive tasks efficiently on Mac OSX.
4. picking the right size Tupperware container to accomodate a plate of leftovers.
5. earning a living.

*****

Sean Kleefeld

1. Ordering the best meal off any given menu
2. Unlimited stomach capacity for carbonated beverages
3. Razor-sharp toenails
4. Ambidextrous thumb-twiddling
5. Always picking the fastest check-out line at the grocery store

*****

Uriel A. Duran

1) Catching roaches alive
2) A very good memory for trivia and useless facts
3) Walking silently and unnoticed (handy for spooking people simply by suddenly speaking from behind them)
4) Meeting deadlines on time
5) Flight

*****

Tom Bondurant

1. High tolerance for pain (a doctor actually told me this; you don't want to know why)
2. Power walking
3. I am apparently a pretty good cook, at least according to the surprised reactions of my wife and parents
4. Super-editing (probably another surprise)
5. Super-speed (Flash-style, with the protective aura and everything)

*****

Grant Goggans

1. Whenever the phone rings, I know who is calling.
2. I can make any Internet argument immeasurably worse.
3. I can find a better shortcut to any location in North Georgia via surface streets.
4. Those "Billy" bookshelves from IKEA? I can assemble those suckers blindfolded.
5. I would like the power of Garbage Clairvoyance Nudity Teleportation. That means that whenever I notice trash on the side of the road, then the jerk who tossed it there is immediately transported back to it without any clothing.

*****

Vito Delsante

1. The ability to worry without cause or reason
2. The ability to make my wife laugh
3. The ability to rub my dog's back leg and make it stretch out. It's much cooler than it sounds
4. The ability to hit 9 out of 10 deadlines (only ever missed one)
5. Some kind of healing factor. My back is killing me.

*****

Bill Doughty

1. Turning traffic lights red the moment I reach them.
2. Thinking about a particular episode of a TV show, and then it airs the next day.
3. Super mumbling.
4. Can change shoes quickly.
5. Time travel.

*****

Jamie S. Rich

1. The power to cloud women's minds so they don't see my obvious attractiveness.
2. The ability to recall what obscure B-sides by British bands came out with what A-side and in what order.
3. I can turn just about anything into an innuendo or match it to a song reference.
4. By that token, I can meet someone and within five minutes make an innocent joke that turns out to hit their most vulnerable point without even knowing it.
5. How to disappear completely.

*****

Matthew Craig

1. Hypnophobic Superconductivity of the Brain.
2. The pent-up rage of a Coke machine on a rollercoaster.
3. A beard.
4. A tongue like an alligator's life-partner.
5. An Infectious Dance.

*****

Christopher Duffy

1. Ability to hypnotize dogs.
2. Ability to find worst morning radio show.
3. Can find up to three dollars in change in pockets at any given time.
4. As child could mock adults with no resultant punishment. (This ability has mutated into power to attract and breed wiseguy kids.)
5. Either time manipulation (slowing it down, time-travel) or bee eating.

*****

Gil Roth

1. Ability to find change between sofa cushions
2. Ability to metabolize Colt .45 (but not Crazy Horse)
3. Ability to find appropriate quotes from Judd Apatow movies
4. Galactus Grip
5. Buddhist Palm

*****

Walter Hudsick

1. Spontaneous dinner party generation
2. Booming voice
3. Super-movie-dialog-recollection
4. Touching greeting card personal note writing
5. Invulnerability

*****

Aaron White

1. Finding just enough money at the absolute last minute.
2. X Ray Spex Vision, aka ability to imagine what people look like naked.
3. Deafening Inner Monologue.
4. Ability to transmute aesthetic opinions into moral judgements.
5. Ability to go to heaven and take all my friends, loved ones and pets with me.

*****

Sean T. Collins

1. Buns of steel
2. Able to alphabetize CDs with deadly accuracy
3. Google-fu
4. Sean is the snuggliest one there is!
5. Teleportation, with BAMF! sound effect but without smell of sulfur

*****

Lee Hester

I believe that everybody has super powers. It's just a matter of finding them. Here's the ones I have, plus the one I want:

1. The ability to sing any popular song from the last 100 years, instantly, from memory.
2. Incredible luck. No other explanation for staying in business for over a quarter of a century.
3. Bring me any comic book, turn it to any page, and I will tell you who drew it, and usually who inked it.
4. I can collect without using a want list, and never buy a double.
5. I keep hoping that I will be able to jump in the air and freeze like they do in the Matrix, but I have fallen short in every attempt.

PS. In my experience, the most super powered of all comics folk are the following:

* David Mack (He can do just about everything that Daredevil can do.)
* Steranko (A real life Doc Savage)
* Chuck Rosanski (Incredible mojo, including finding the Mile High collection-the best EVER! )
* Peter David (Has the most amazing hidden talents this side of Leonardo)

*****

Eric Knisley

1. Making cats angry at a distance
2. Drawing Victorian iron pipe work
3. Helping people move
4. Backrubs
5. Flying

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Four By Richard Thompson

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I suppose I'll have to stop eventually
 
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First Thought Of The Day

I figured out about a year ago that I'm a great audience for comic book movies because if they're awesome that's great because I like awesome and if they're totally tear-your-hair out horrible that's great because I think that's awesome, too.
 
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September 27, 2008


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

September 28
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September 30
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October 1
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October 2
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October 3
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October 4
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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from September 20 to September 26, 2008:

1. DC pulls the plug on its Minx imprint.

2. Beleaguered cartoonist and Muhammed caricaturist Kurt Westergard regrets speaking in front of the Danish People's Party.

3. Raymond Macherot, mainstay of the Golden Age of French-language comics magazines, passes away.

Winner Of The Week
Anyone looking for a desk at the Wizard offices.

Losers Of The Week
Anyone planning on driving up from the US Southeast to Baltimore Con, maybe SPX.

Quote Of The Week
"You stand over the sink and eat dinner." -- Lynn Johnston

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Quality
 
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If I Were In Kansas, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Chris Arrant On Four Superpowers He Has And One He Wants (9/27/08)
* Craig Fischer on the New Yale University Anthology Edited By Ivan Brunetti (9/27/08)
* Darko Macan on BoDoi's Publisher Dire Proclamation That You Can't Sell A Print Magazine About Comics (9/24/08)
* Dash Shaw and Gary Panter at Duke Event Information Because Duke's Web Site Completely Sucks (PR) (9/24/08)
* Christopher Duffy On Five Comics With Female Leads (9/20/08)
* John Vest On Meat Cake And The Good Times Killing Us (9/20/08)

 
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Happy 81st Birthday, Jack Katz!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Matthias Schultheiss!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Jim Shooter!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Mattt Konture!

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Five For Friday #135 -- Powers

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Five For Friday #151 -- What Four Superpowers Do You Have (1-4), and What One Superpower Do You Want (5)?

Richard Pachter

1. Ordering Chinese food for takeout or large gatherings
2. Making mixtapes (or CDs)
3. Keeping strolling musicians away from my table at restaurants
4. Knowing if my friend Ron Farber is on the phone when it rings
5. Flying

*****

This Subject Is Now Closed. Thanks To All That Participated.

*****
*****
 
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September 26, 2008


Raymond Macherot, 1934-2008

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The highly-regarded Belgian cartoonist Raymond Macherot, a major contributor to that comics industry's golden age of anthology magazines and the creator of several successful series, died early this morning. Among his creations were Chlorophylle, Clifton, and Sibylline. He was 74 years old.

imageMacherot was born in Verviers. Although he trained to be a painter and also at one time wanted to become a journalist, he eventually became an illustrator and cartoonist. His biography at Lambiek.net notes that his first foray into cartooning were gags in an approximation of Virgil Partch's popular style that he submitted to the comedic magazine Pan under a pseudonym.

Macherot joined Tintin in 1953, serving as both writer on Fred Funcken's Le chevalier blanc and as an illustrator/cover artist. His first series came a year later with Chlorophylle. Chlorophylle was a funny animal feature that helped establish Macherot's reputation as one of the more skilled cartoonists to ever work in that area of comics. He would continue exploring that creative terrain with his Croquefredouille stories, which shifted the setting from the country to the city. In 1959 he created another of his signature works, the detective series Clifton. Both Chlorophylle and Clifton would be continued by other authors with varying degree of success.

imageIn 1964, Macherot left Tintin for Spirou, where at first he worked on the abortive Chaminou series. It lasted for only one story, Chaminou et le Khrompire, but was eventually revived by several artists in the 1990s including Macherot himself. Its reputation exceeds the series' publishing success. Macherot's next project, Sibylline, better resembled his previous work and was more of a hit for the publisher and cartoonist. That series would end in 1990 when the cartoonist initially retired, and in 2006 be revived -- under Macherot's watchful eye -- by Andre Taymans.

Among those with whom Macherot collaborated were Paul Deliege (as writer on Sibylline), Olivier Saive, Rene Goscinny, Raoul Cauvin, Yvan Delporte, Berck and Will. The last two did gag panel work with characters spun off of Macherot's series.

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There Are Officially Way Too Many Awesome Comics Published Right Now

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Not that I'm complaining, but this terrific anthology showed up on my desk yesterday and maybe I just wasn't paying attention or more likely I'd just forgotten, but having it on my lap was the first time it really registered with me. If I had known an anthology this good was coming out I wouldn't have let the package sit there unopened for a couple of days, if you know what I mean. There are some all-time comics short stories and several forgotten gems here, like Jessica Abel's "Jack London," Phoebe Gloeckner's jaw-dropping "Minnie's 3rd Love," Jaime Hernandez's vastly underrated "Jerusalem Crickets" with those great single panels of the band playing, Robert Crumb's Charley Patton biography, Carol Tyler's beautiful "Country Music," Chester Brown's "My Mom Was A Schizophrenic," Kevin Huizenga's "The Curse," that David Mazzucchelli one with the lady with the trilobite outlined in her belly, and Jim Woodring's "Particular Mind." And that's like a quarter of the book. It's ridiculous.

I know this post must read like something Larry King would write, but I always remember how in 1999 I had a hard time finding five comics to put on a Best of the Year list.
 
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Another Day, Fewer People at Wizard

I'm told without being able to 100 percent confirm that long-time employee Cheryl Padilla, the human resources manager for editorial at Wizard, is now longer at the company, along with Basi Rhodes, who was I believe in some sort of support position like a receptionist. Major magazine-about-comics publisher and convention organizer Wizard has either let go or fired or had quit a staggering number of employees, many from editorial, over the last 20-24 months.
 
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If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Vancouver, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Durham, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Yukaina Tekkosho

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Go, Read: Jamilti

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Go, Read: Defending Peanuts

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Go, Read: The Rise and Fall of Shojo

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Go, Look: Batman Comic Strips

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Go, Unearth: D&Q Video Footage

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If someone can follow the links and find the footage in question and e-mail me as to where it is, I'd appreciate it. Judging by the overall visual quality of the above, my theory right now is that the video segment doesn't exist and we're looking at a still from Chris Oliveros' appearance on Streets of San Francisco.

Okay, here it is.

Ha ha, here it actually is.
 
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OTBP: The Factoids Of Life

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Go, Look: Sub-Prime Mortgage Comics

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Go, Look: Jack Davis Album Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* according to the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com, the cartoonist Jeff Smith will make one story appearance in 2008-2009, and ComicsPro member stores will bid for it. The auction and Smith's participation in the signing will benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Smith did an similarly exclusive event for charity deal with a launch party for RASL earlier this year at the New York Comic-Con.

image* a 1982 fan-directed book of fumetti stuffed with obscure, early-'80s comics industry gags? How did they know 26 years ago to make a book that is obviously solely intended for me?

* comics consumer advocate Johanna Draper Carlson notes that ADV isn't answering pleas from PiQ subscribers for refunds on the canceled magazine.

* congratulations to Joann Sfar for making the most frequently challenged authors of 2007 list. Lot of cat haters out there.

* not comics: another analyst strangely not working for Motley Fool that thinks Marvel's stock is severely undervalued.

* good = long podcast interviews with Don Rosa, better = long podcast interviews with Don Rosa including talk of Rosa's obscure pop-culture projects, best = long podcast interviews with Don Rosa including talk of Rosa's obscure pop-culture projects and photographs.

* finally, the Naruto-as-glacier theory.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Louise Simonson!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Stephen Weiner!

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Quick hits
Craft
Steven and Hobbes
These Look Really Cool

Exhibits/Events
Wish I'd Seen This
Go See Dan Piraro
Picking The Harveys
Go See Fanta at SPX
Go See Dash and Gary
The Greatest Name Ever
WizardWorld Adds Fearfest
Andrew James Jones In Paris

History
R. Fiore Defines Things
What DC Published And When

Industry
Chari Pere Wins Award
Manga Cafe Mika Profiled
PW On Liquid Comics Deal
What Is Wrong With Marc Guggenheim?

Interviews/Profiles
Marvel.com: Jeff Parker
Newsarama: Marc Nathan
Newsarama: Matt Fraction
The Chronicle: Dash Shaw
Splash Page: Matt Fraction
He Works With Bill Phinger
Comic Debrief: Douglas Wolk
Patriot-News: Takehiko Inoue
Muncie Comics Podcast Profiled
Comics Bulletin: David Tischman
National Book Festival: Neil Gaiman
The Brooklyn Paper: Jonathan Ames

Not Comics
His TV Adventure 01
His TV Adventure 02
New Fanta Downloads
Working Until 3:00 AM
Students Graded Mint to Poor
Chester Brown Runs For Office 01
Great Library, Great-Sounding Exhibit
How Would You Like To Be Disposed Of?

Publishing
Survey Of Comics Page
Self-Syndicated Cartoon PR
Another Classics Illustrated Re-Launch

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Jon Hastings: Hwy 115
Erik R. Johnson: Various
Paul Schlader: Watchmen
Paul O'Brien: Greatest Hits #1
Jason Sacks: Echo: Moon Lake
Richard Bruton: Gentleman Jim
Tim Callahan: All Star Superman
Sean T. Collins: Service Industry
Sarah Morean: Nurse Nurse #1-2
Nik Dirga: Too Cool To Be Forgotten
George Gene Gustines: American Widow
Jillian Steinhauer: How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less #2
Richard Bruton: The Leather Nun & Other Incredibly Strange Comics
 

 
September 25, 2008


Don Wilder, 1934-2008

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Don Wilder, the writer of the syndicated comics strip Crock, died yesterday morning according to Mike Rhode. He passed away in his home. Wilder co-created the Foreign Legion-based gag strip in 1975 with artist Bill Rechin and the late Brant Parker of Wizard of Id fame. According to Editor & Publisher, the feature still boasts 200 clients. It is carried by King Features.

Rechin and Wilder also launched a sport-related panel strip called Out Of Bounds after Crock was up in running. It did not last. There have been multiple Crock-related books including 1979's Crock (Ballantine) and several titles published with Hodder & Stoughton and Coronet in the UK.

Wilder was an artist in addition to being a writer. He earned a degree from East Tennessee State and took courses at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was during a long and varied career a technical illustrator and a visual-information specialist at the CIA. His newspaper obituary states that he lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia, having moved there from Knoxville in the mid-1960s to take the CIA position.

He was a member of the National Cartoonist Society and the National Press Club.

Don Wilder was 74 years old. He is preceded in death by his wife of 37 and is survived by two sons, their children and a companion. A memorial service will be held tomorrow.
 
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Original Management Team For Virgin Acquires Those Properties For Itself

There's a press release out there that indicates the original Virgin Comics management team of Gotham Chopra, Sharad Devarajan and Suresh Seetharaman has purchased the Virgin Comics asset and placed them under a new company called Liquid Comics. This make sense and seems to me a pretty clearly self-evident story: these are the people that really believed in the potential for what Virgin was doing as a way to develop a ton of distinct properties, and now they're set up to do that kind of development without the corporate expectations that would come partnering with Virgin. For one thing, they can put some comics on-line or skip that step altogether instead of trying to gain a foothold in the largely hostile-to-outsiders Direct Market. That has to be a relief.
 
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If I Were In Maryland, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Durham, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Missouri, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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OTBP: Souvlaki Circus

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OTBP: Kuti Vol. 9

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Go, Look: Mice Templar, Chapter One

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OTBP: It's Sexy When People Know Your Name

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's a really long story on lesbian manga, upon which I have a hard time commenting due to an empty mental crater where my knowledge of lesbian manga might otherwise be resting. I might suggest that Speed Racer's box office shudder and collapse was probably not all that great for manga's reputation as a source of films, but the rest of it could be totally made up for all I know.

* one comic shop owner suggests that something that all retailers might do in the face of uncertain economic times is concentrate on being able to supply the basic services for which your shop is known.

image* the writer Mark Evanier notes that the San Diego Convention Center has announced some reasonably firm plans for increasing the size of the facility. Increasing the convention center's size will help them keep Comic-Con International.

* the comics writer and columnist Steven Grant has a nice column up. It's strongest up top on the issues of interchangeability and why work for hire going away really wouldn't solve anything. It's a bit more scattered further down on the idea of making the industry better. I don't agree with Grant that a lack of consensus makes industry improvement more difficult -- at least not exactly the same way he does. I believe that a lack of consensus is likely to be impossible even on broad issues, let alone specific conceptions of what improving the industry means. Still, if enough people were to adopt values of ethics in business, excellence in art and sustainable growth, I think the industry improves over time. I think it has in the past despite not everyone being on board. I don't think of a better industry as a robot you build but as a room to clean. Hopefully if you pick up a broom others over time will follow your lead and there will be a tipping point. If they don't, you still did the right thing.

* not comics: I have to admit, I saw the photo accompanying this article and my first thought was, "Has it really come to someone out there doing Brother From Another Planet comics?" He's a young-looking 61, that Joe Morton.

* finally, do you know what I always forget? To love myself. Do you know what else I forget? That Drawn and Quarterly has an entire separate blog devoted to their bookstore. It's worth it for the photos alone, or for the twin posts where someone mixes up the Oliveros Family with the Brown Family, which funny on more than one level.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Kim Thompson!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Paul Pope!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Bob Layton!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Massimo Mattioli!

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Quick hits
Craft
Go See Art Spiegelman
Lynda Barry and Prose Authors on Craft

Exhibits/Events
Awesome Lynda Barry Signing Report

Industry
Must-Have Manga

Interviews/Profiles
Guardian: Alan Moore
Loyolan: SS Crompton
CBR: Danica Novgorodoff
Den of Geek: Nick Landau
Splash Page: Glenn Eichler
Down The Tubes: David Fickling
Talk About Comics: Steve MacIsaac

Not Comics
Mickey Mouse Should Not Be Killed

Publishing
eManga Site Open For Business
Look At New Prince Valiant Book
IDW Prez Candidate Books Out 10-8

Reviews
Noah Berlatsky: Nana
Richard Krauss: HayDay #1
Deb Aoki: Blank Slate Vol. 1
Jon Hastings: Grendel Archives
Talking With Tim: Dean Haspiel
Andrew Wheeler: Journey Vol. 1
Steve Duin: Welcome To Hoxford
Nik Dirga: Too Cool To Be Forgotten
Kristy Valenti: Herbie Archives Vol. 1
Dave Ferraro: Me and The Devil Blues
Sean Kleefeld: The Great Outdoor Fight
Leroy Douresseaux: Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Vol. 1
 

 
September 24, 2008


And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #1

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"FYI, everyone, our region is out of gas. I hear there won't be a regular supply for a week or more, so Mal and I may not make it to SPX." -- Hope Larson, via Twitter, about an hour ago.

If you haven't heard, no, you haven't woken up to the movie Road Warrior -- well, not yet -- but the already strained gas delivery system snapped in several places by Hurricane Ike for the next fortnight or so has cast some doubt about drive-ins from below the Mason-Dixon line attending not just SPX but I have to imagine this week's Baltimore Con. Something to watch for and something to consider as a dry run for a less dramatic but still very likely outcome we should start to see in the future as early as 2009's cycle of shows. A lot of conventions have for the past decade or so depended on a lot of cheap and easily available gas being consumed in order to get people there, especially the professionals in attendance that are part of the attraction for local and regional fans and who tend to pick up that bill themselves because they can make the weekend cost-effective by selling stuff and conducting other business. In other words, although I doubt we're quite at the time where no one will go to any conventions we're also ten years or so past the era when I could fly from Seattle to SPX for $140 round trip, or could drive there from Chicago for about $80.

I apologize if I'm not supposed to quote that kind of thing; a few readers e-mailed it to me.
 
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Michael George Will Not Be Freed In Anticipation Of His December Trial

Michael George was denied bond yesterday, apparently because he represents a flight risk. Earlier this year, the prominent Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer was tried and convicted and sentenced to life in prison related to crimes including the murder of his then-wife in their Michigan comics store in 1990. That decision was recently overturned based in part on the judge's estimate of potential prosecutorial misconduct. George will start a new trial in December.
 
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Another Week, Another Change In Status For An Editorial Cartoonist

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This time it's Dwane Powell, who will go from full-time to part-time at the News & Observer in Raleigh. This follows a round of buy-outs, that followed a round of layoffs. Powell has worked at the paper since 1975.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* here's a nice summary of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's apology for his speech to the conference of the Danish People's Party and some of the concerns that journalists had about the appearances.

* missed it: Dutch filmmaker Geert Wilders agrees to pay Westergaard approximately $11,000 (USD) compensation for Wilders' use of Westergaard's Muhammed cartoon in his documentary.

* hey, lousy dress rehearsal = great performance, that's what I say.
 
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No One But The Pure In Heart

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Publisher: "On ne peut pas vendre des journaux imprimes avec de l'info BD"

I can't tell from this article if after 11 years on the stands the French magazine about comics BoDoi is moving into an on-line iteration, or will move into an on-line version and then try and facilitate a no-cost print publication, but hearing someone say you can't charge anyone for a magazine about comics as I think he does here seems pretty astonishing to me.
 
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If I Were In Newark, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Berkeley, I'd Go To This

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Go, Bookmark: Jesse Reklaw Tour Diary For New Slow Wave Collection

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Go Watch: Weekend Magazine Show Profiles A Bunch Of Cartoonists In 1982



via Mike Lynch
 
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OTBP: Otherworld Uprising

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Go, Look: Barbara Yelin

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Go, Read: Pepe and Pepito

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Jeff Smith returns to blogging with praise for Bear Creek Apartments.

* the politician Hillary Clinton didn't get the Democratic presidential nomination, but she will get her own comic book, complete with art direction eerily reminiscent of the new Barack Obama/John McCain funnybooks from IDW.

image* it's going to take a more knowledgeable writer about manga than I am -- that would be all the writers about manga -- to figure out if there's anything new of substance in the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com's four-part major interview with Viz executive Gonzalo Ferreyra. It seems to me a lot if not all of what's discussed, like their publishing some of Oshinbo, has already been put out there. It's always useful to have someone take the temperature of a company like that, though, and at the very least the piece provides a useful summary of various initiatives.

* newspaper industry bible E&P takes note of Daryl Cagle on the future of editorial cartooning. It's not animation, suggests Cagle.

* the publishing industry newsletter PWCW interviews the actress Mia Kirshner on her forthcoming I Live Here, which will include greatly anticipated work from Joe Sacco and Phoebe Gloeckner. As I recall, Kirshner attended McGill University at either roughly or exactly the same time as mainstream comics writer and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, which is the very definition of useless trivia but this site bows to no other in comics news relating to the Harvard of the North.

* the prominent comics reviewer Paul O'Brien may be shifting to doing reviews bloggy style. That'd be too bad; I like the site.

* basically not comics: I probably shouldn't be as amazed as I am, but I find it sublimely odd that there's still so much passion by nerds that movie and television shows not make fun of their favorite comics/tv/radio characters, or do them "properly," and yet there's so little sympathy for the upset feelings of the actual creators who have legitimate claims to feelings of ownership over those characters.

* finally, the writer Tom Crippen disagrees with my view on recent work done by Pat Oliphant. Okay. First, I really don't presume to know if Oliphant is connecting with people or not; I would guess that he's alienating as many people as he's delighting. Probably more. Probably many, many more. However, I'd disagree with Crippen on whether an editorial cartoonist or any cartoonist needs to connect in order to be good, let alone admirable. Their effectiveness might be in question, and I make that clear from the start of the post in question, but sometimes good work or work that we admire doesn't connect with as many people as another approach might. People becoming disenchanted with Bill Mauldin was practically the overriding theme of that cartoonist's later career. I admire a lot of Oliphant's recent work in large part because it's angry and blunt and risks alienating people.

Second, I would disagree that Oliphant's attack on Sarah Palin speaking in tongues is just "making fun of people" let alone doing so "for being different," and I say this as someone with plenty of pew time in charismatic churches where a lot of speaking in tongues is done. That's the first image of the cartoon, not the whole cartoon. The bigger argument, it seems clear to me looking at the cartoon, is that Oliphant is savaging the presumption of a political candidate having a direct line to God because they speak in tongues. There is plenty of that criticism in evangelical churches I've attended. As I thought I made clear, I don't expect most people to get past the gleeful meanness of the initial salvo, but I have to admit I didn't expect one of those people to be a Comics Journal critic. I do admire the point Crippen makes about the random, scattered quality of Oliphant's work, which isn't something I addressed.

Here's a profile of Mr. Oliphant.
 
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Go, Read: Five By Richard Thompson

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Quick hits
Craft
Tim Lane's Poster
Taking Ivan Brunetti's Home Course

Exhibits/Events
Go See Leigh Rubin
Alison Bechdel Lecture Report

History
On Todd McFarlane
X-Men Poetry Slam

Industry
Give Graphic Novels A Chance
Drawing Manga For Health Education
Chrome Comic Books Raise Money For Charity

Interviews/Profiles
Pulse: Derf
CBR: Jason Kruse
PWCW: Brian Wood
CBR: Frank Marraffino
FPI Blog: Declan Shalvey

Not Comics
New Hulu.com Anime Channel
Also, Ruben Studdard Is Black
Mark Fiore Wins On-Line Award
Norman Rockwell Model Passes Away

Publishing
Constitution Book Out
Collins-Mota Comic At Top Shelf
Making The Vertigo Encyclopedia
New Robert Williams Coming In 2009
Presidential Candidate Comics Profiled
Barack Obama Issue Of Savage Dragon Reprinted

Reviews
Peter Sanderson: Various
Comic Book Haters: MOME
Ed Chavez: EkiBen Hitori Tabi
Chris Butcher: Black Jack Vol. 1
Sean T. Collins: New Engineering
J. Caleb Mozzocco: American Widow
Leroy Douresseaux: Wild Ones Vol. 4
Greg McElhatton: Uncanny X-Men #502
Leroy Douresseaux: Prince Charming Vol. 2
Patrick Schabe: Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight
 

 
September 23, 2008


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

* a couple of you sent me this link (thank you!) that lets us know they're publishing adaptations of Diana Gabaldon's prose work and/or works in comics form related to that prose work.

image* the charity group The Hero Initiative will publish its Marvel-allowed book of Hulk illustrations this December. Monies earned will go to the group's charitable work with older and in-need comic book creators.

* here's some good news if like me you're an Evan Dorkin fan: he's completed 16 pages of comics for a version of Larry Doyle's prose novel I Love You, Beth Cooper to be released next year in conjunction with the film version. Dorkin did the cover illustration for the well-received book.

* the venerable alt-comics publisher Fantagraphics announces a 2009 book from Jason collecting the hilarious New York Times comic serial Low Moon.

* here are some of the covers on those mini-comics I noticed in one of the recent shipping lists. They're meant to be Halloween giveaways. Halloween is weird. I think there needs to be a Halloween czar just to set a baseline standard in terms of candy-bar size, and what you can give out and things like that.

image* finally, a few of you wrote in to inquire after the status of the Joost Swarte book at Fantagraphics, Modern Swarte, after Amazon.com canceled pre-orders. Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics says that the book will be out in 2009. They canceled orders because they can't say exactly when in 2009: they want to give Swarte all the time he needs to do as much work as he wants on the book before starting the release cycle. The publisher remains confident the book will be released next year, though, and they'll re-solicit when they know exactly when it will ship.
 
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Greg Goldstein Named COO At IDW

I don't know a thing about Greg Goldstein beyond the resume that's reprinted in the press release announcing his being brought in at IDW and the occasional on-line thing I've like this reminiscence of going to the Phil Seuling cons in New York. But IDW leaping into fourth place and near that same time bringing on a long-time industry and related-industries veteran to help operations, that makes this a significant hire. It also indicates that IDW is doing its best to recognize that there are different issues involved facing companies at different stages of growth, which isn't a lesson that publishers always learn in time to help things along.
 
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Go, Read: New Chapter In Jay Allen Sanford's San Diego Comics History

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I'm a little lost as to what's covered in what chapters in the series, but the story of Todd Loren that seems to be presented for the first time today is one of the more compelling ones in modern comics and these reports are stuff with art and photos. Click through the image above.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Zapiro Now Receiving Death Threats

The Zapiro vs. Zuma story of South Africa's greatest cartoonist taking on its ascendant politician has to be one of the most fascinating stories in years. The publication of Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro's cartoon depicting the ANC leader as a rapist about to do horrible things to the justice system hit right before a number of big wins for Zuma politically: namely, he came out on top in the court case threatening him, and he began to consolidate power as his political party recalled its current leader. This and the unusually strong visual language deployed by Zapiro has led to a sort of backlash I'm not sure the internationally well-regarded cartoonist has ever experienced before. Anyway, this article provides a nice summary and notes the latest: death threats against the cartoonist, the newspaper and its star refuse to apologize, and implied threats that sort of prove the cartoonist's point.
 
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Missed It: Fearful Chinese Cartoonist Leaves Homeland For New York City

There's not much more I can say about this profile of cartoonist Haibo Wang and his journey from China to America other than 1) I don't know how the hell they came up with that 42 million people figure, 2) I'm therefore looking at that figure with the stink eye, 3) I thought the piece was otherwise clearly written and 4) my general impression is that it's just sort of a nice story, although it might have been nicer were he able to stay in China and do what he does. I hope he finds work in New York.
 
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My First Rejected Comic Strip Gag

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I had no idea what I was doing.
 
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Lion In Winter Watch: Pat Oliphant

imageIf you're one to see things in terms of causes and fighting effectively or not on their behalf, you may be worried or delighted that cartoons like this Pat Oliphant piece on Gov. Sarah Palin are being used to recast the upcoming presidential election as a culture war instead of a referendum on policy, philosophy and national direction. Neither those concerns nor our political views should dim our appreciation for what a total ass-kicker Oliphant remains this relatively late into his career. He and Tom Toles may be the only political cartoonists left that go knives out after what they're criticizing and manage to do it without giving off a strong second impression of "hey, look at me going after this person." Plus in Oliphant's case you get classically beautiful editorial cartoon art -- his caricatures of the Republican candidates in the linked-to cartoon are idiosyncratic, recognizable and highly amusing.
 
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If I Were In Philly, I'd Go To This

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Go, Read: The Japanese Ratty Line

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OTBP: New Construction #2

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Missed It: The History Of Doug

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Go, Look: The Attack Of The Flowerman By Jeremy Eaton (From 1975)

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Go, Look: Kyle Baker's Early-Career X-Men-Related Humor Comics

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Go, Look: Fantagraphics Photos

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is as thorough a local cartoonist profile article as I've ever seen. In this case, the featured city is Fort Wayne. So if you ever wondered if there were cartoonists in the northern Indiana city and original home of the Detroit Pistons beyond the late Grass Green, now's your chance.

* here's a nice discussion of Chester Brown's Zombie Romance ad and a link to its download.

image* you can now affix an official Eisner Award seal to your nominated or winning comics object. I just sat here for five minutes staring at the screen trying to come up with a decent joke about a third seal for rejected books that had a picture of Will Eisner giving the finger, which is probably why I'll never qualify for the gold seal and may stop any year now qualifying for silvers.

* I really like Steve Bell, but I have to admit this isn't much of an article beyond the cartoon.

* people keep sending me this article by Chuck Rozakis, I guess the first in a series, on webcomics. There's too much here that's asserted that I think is vitally important for me to really like the piece, although I agree with roughly half of the assertions. I've always had a difficult time arguing these issues with anyone because deep down I believe the core value is control and it seems to me that everyone else sees the core value as profit -- I don't mean that in a snotty way, or even as a judgment of those values. It's more that everyone I talk to seems to be coming at it from a different point of view, both in what they choose to argue and how they argue it.

* it seems to me that Johanna Draper Carlson missed one in her list of ways to break into mainstream comics writing, and it's not "be really good." It seems to me that befriending a working writer and then writing a comic with them is a way a lot of writers are getting into that field.

* now that is some major-league shelf porn: Charles Schulz.

* finally, the cartoonist Scott Adams explains how he can write the same joke twice. One of the weird things about comic strips is they're often criticized for repeating jokes or having a joke that's roughly like another joke out there. As much as each and every one of us occasionally tells a funny story only to have someone say, "You told me that one before" I always thought we should be a bit more understanding concerning those that have to write 365 jokes a year for years on end.
 
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Happy 77th Birthday, Stan Lynde!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Jean-Claude Mezieres!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Paul Ryan!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Dan Day!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Peter David!

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Quick hits
Craft
Daryl Cagle's FAQ
Arts Say No To Harper
I Feel Bad For Laughing
Brooke McEldowney on Color 01
Brooke McEldowney on Color 02
What It's Really Like To Work With An Editor

Exhibits/Events
Honoring Frank Frazetta
Manga at NY Anime Festival
Spiegelman Does Miami Poster

History
On Funerals
Missy, Julia, Robert Crumb

Industry
Brett Noel to NSWG
Local Media Report on Diamond Warehouse Move

Interviews/Profiles
Borders: Jeff Kinney
CBR: Rick Remender
LA Times: Josh Neufeld
Bookslut: Eddie Campbell
Panels and Pixels: Eddie Campbell
New Lenox Patriot: Tom Birmingham

Not Comics
Nerd Wins
Weirdest Meme Of Decade
Jen Sorensen Still Blogging
Way Better Than An Action Figure
James Vance Not Impressed by Spirit Posters

Publishing
Madeline Revived
Another Alcoholic Preview
Why I Killed Peter Previewed
What Happened to My Comics?
Gold Key Star Trek Comics On-Line

Reviews
Mike Gold: Che
Nina Stone: Various
Greg Burgas: Various
Douglas Wolk: Various
Rob Clough: The Wang
Deb Aoki: Future Lovers
Steve Duin: Telling Stories
Devan MacPherson: Identity Crisis
Richard Bruton: Tripwire Annual 2008
Sandy Bilus: Love & Rockets: New Stories #1
 

 
September 22, 2008


I Rather Like These New BCC Posters

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That's all.
 
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Kurt Westergaard Speaks Before The Danish People's Party, Then Regrets It

The cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the artist behind the most infamous of the controversial 2005 Muhammed caricatures that ran in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten and caused the infamous Danish Cartoons Controversy rioting and political turmoil in 2006, and a target for potential assassins who has been officially hiding from same since earlier this year, spoke before the right-wing Danish People's Party at their annual convention. He later stated in an interview he regretted doing so, although he castigated some for making really basic correlations between his appearance and an inferred endorsement of all the party's beliefs.

It's fascinating to me how the Danish Cartoons controversy has bounced back and forth from issue of journalistic principle to an issue of politics, and this is the most extreme example for a while. I linked to T. Thorhauge's commentary at Metabunker instead of the actual news stories because I thought he was succinct and to the point.
 
posted 4:24 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Lynn Johnston On Being The Boss, Financial Crash Courses and Sink Dinners

imageThe Peterborough Examiner has a pretty remarkable article up that I don't think has been published yet -- it claims to have been based in part on some work done as long ago as May -- on the last two years or so in Lynn Johnston's life. The cartoonist, whose For Better Or For Worse made the transition earlier this month from ongoing storylines to a mix (I think) of reworked earlier strips and new strips set in that period, talks about her husband leaving their marriage in 2007, the financial situation in which she found herself immediately following the break-up, having to pare down her studio and, prompting one strongly affecting image, eating dinner over her sink. One interesting piece of news is that she'll be doing some charity work in South America as a interpreter. Looking around a bit, it seem like Alan Gardner and Dave Astor also did a Little Rascals take at this piece.

Brad Mackay draws my attention to this interview from late last month, which is also very good.
 
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Go, Read: The Case For A Re-Trial

Brian Dickers on the Detroit Free Press looks at the recent judgment in favor of a second trial for convicted comic book retailer and convention organizer Michael George and decides that it's a good thing.

Also, I forgot to mention this Friday, but along with the announcement of a bond hearing tomorrow, the judge denied the prosecution's attempt to have the new trial moved back off its early December date. I probably should have nailed that down.
 
posted 4:17 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
My Vote For Comics Panel Of The Year

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That's right: It's the Mighty Thor, and he wants his Kate Bush CD back.

from Ufoja Ladhdessa #1 by Marko Turunen, Daada Books
 
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Tokyopop Revamps Pilots Program...

... just maybe not the way you're thinking. While writer Brigid Alverson notes the discussion about the nature of that program's contracts and doesn't report any movement there, the majority of the piece covers structural changes and web site alterations that needed to happen before the resulting work could be showcased in the first place.
 
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The Real Secret Origin Of Ozymandias

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deep down, you knew
 
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Brian Hibbs Pushes For Street Dates

The outspoken direct market retailer and columnist Brian Hibbs makes the case for street dates. I'm for street dates -- which means that instead of comic books arriving on Wednesday to be sold that very day they would be shipped an earlier date and then put out for sale on the date they're supposed to go on sale. It's an interesting issue for the direct market of hobby and comics shops because comics shops are notorious for pressing any advantage they can and a significant number of retailers believe that if someone out there has a greatly anticipated comic book, they are simply not waiting until the street date to provide them to their best customers.

What makes Hibbs' argument interesting to me is that he's really not arguing for street dates as most of understand it, he's arguing that all books should be shipped one day earlier. This creates many of the advantages of street dates -- like better set-up time for retailers, more time to prepare if something's gone wrong, and it puts everyone on the same playing field with retailers who already get their stuff one day earlier -- but doesn't achieve some of the things that many of us think of as systematic improvements, primarily the ability for the industry to rally around the fact that exact issue of X book is available on exact Y date and thus build anticipation for that book, or have better general planning within months so that 18 of 24 books staring teenage mutants or whatever no longer come out on one day. A couple of the advantages to simply advocating that everyone get the comics a day earlier is that it eliminates many of the more legit concerns of a more comprehensive street dates system, like all of the sudden requiring stores be able to store books that haven't hit their street date. It can also be sold as leveling the playing field as opposed to frightening change in the status quo. The obvious punishment of violating the street date -- having your books held until day-of -- would be severe but wouldn't put anyone out of business.

I would imagine that the there would still be widespread cheating and widespread accusations of cheating and protestations of innocence and demands for punishment and some folks declaring they were morally obligated to cheat and other folks extolling the virtues of playing it smart in a system that demands cheating and maybe an inability by Diamond to remember to ship one package in 17 a day later, mostly because everyone is crazy now. But it might be worth seeing if this could get done.
 
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Jacques Fierain, 1934-2008

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The writer about Jacques Fierain died on Wednesday, September 17 according to a notice at Le Graphivore noticed by Gianfranco Goria at afNews. He was I believe a primary school educator and then a librarian in addition to being a writer. A passionate comics fans since his youth, Fierain contributed to several publications and wrote a series of four books about BD in various provinces, becoming a common figure in the festival circuit.

He is survived by a sister and three children. Services will be held tomorrow.
 
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Go, Read: Babe And Pauncho De Leon's Fountain Of Youth And Beauty

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Go, Watch: Gerald Scarfe Slideshow

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OTBP: Canicola #6

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Go, Watch: Pasquale Venanzio Draws


 
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Go, Look: Three Golden Age Stories

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Go, Read: Dick Briefer's Frankenstein

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Go, Look: Leif Goldberg and Erin Rosenthal Paper Boat Milwaukee Show

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via the Drawn and Quarterly blog
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* our most sincere condolences to CR contributor David P. Welsh on his loss, and a late wish for the same to Brigid Alverson, a much linked-to writer here.

image* one wonders if this humorous graphic novel were more about the financial system in general rather than its specific subject matter as claimed for it before the world's headlines turned to the financial system in general. Either way, it's refreshing to read someone talk so bluntly about publishing costs and finances in an article.

* the way superhero comics constantly talk up some weird aspect of their existence bugs me, too.

* not comics: Frank Santoro wants you to listen to some John Coltrane.

* this profile of Iranian artist Adeshir Mohasses emphasizes his cult status among the current generation of Iranian cartoon makers.

* the perennial story on the depiction of American politicians as pawns of Israel is broken out of its glass case in time for the 2008 election.

* it's not comics, but I'd love to see this Babar exhibit. That site provides this New Yorker article as a link because of its discussion on whether or not Babar paints a much too rosy picture of the effects of French colonialism, but it also makes several nice if brief observations about the art.

* it seems to me that if American prizes other than the Maisie Kukoc gave out money, more people would pay attention to awards.

* finally, I totally missed this: Dreamhaven Books, a popular small bookstore that carried graphic novels as part of its overall product line including a lot of prose in genres that tend to favor comics as well, moved last month into a one-person set-up. What effect if any that will have on their Neil Gaiman specialty-shop business has yet to be determined.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Peter Kuper!

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Quick hits
Craft
Obama By Feiffer
Sailor Suits and Tanks
Spider-Man and the Green Goblin
Ask Peter David A Writing Question
R Crumb and Gahan Wilson = Real Artists

Exhibits/Events
Jog at SPX
Go See Josh Elder
Huge Harrods Exhibit
The Schulz Museum Endures
Jesse Reklaw Tour Announcement
Schuiten and Peeters Exhibit Report
Jim Lee Throwing Out Baseball To Open Con
Perhaps The Saddest Picture Ever Photographed

History
This Joke Always Works With Some People

Industry
I Hate Your Cartoon
Credit Crunch Hits Retailer
The Changing Face of Mini-Comics 03
You Can Hate Our Cartoon All You Want

Interviews/Profiles
Wired: Ed Brubaker
The Times: All Things Hellboy
Arizona Republic: William Katt
Savannah Morning News: Rick Vitone
ToTheCenter.com: Christopher Moeller
Gonzaga Bulletin: Gonzaga's Nearby Comic Book Shop

Not Comics
Larry Hama Trivia
Moe Culture Growing
More on Watchmen Movie Battle
Actual Funny People Cast In Tintin
Are Video Games Bad For Comics?
Tintin From Universal to Paramount
Suddenly, I Want To See This Movie
Where Were You When Book Publishing Died?

Publishing
Bush Is The Perfect Foil
Superest Gets Book Deal
The State Of Dirty Comics
Securing Your Catalog Space
A Harry Potter Comic Got Made After All
The South Seas Still Loves The Phantom

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Kevin Church: Various
Mark Allen: Hulk: Gray
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Richard Krauss: Chase #1
Azizul Rahman: Ninja Scroll
Chris Mautner: Cancer Vixen
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Tiny Titans
Christina Koh: Koi Cupid Vol. 1
P-Chan: Monkey High Vols. 1-2
Johanna Draper Carlson: Li'l Kids
Aditya Sinha: Blake and Mortimer
Katie Trattner: The Tarot Cafe Vol. 7
Greg O'Driscoll: Savage Dragon #137
Johanna Draper Carlson: Nana Vol. 10
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Age of the Sentry #1
Leroy Douresseaux: San Chronicles Vol. 3
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Batman: Lovers & Madmen
Patrick Hayes: Star Trek: Assignment Earth #5
Jog: The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard
Sean T. Collins: Captain Britain and the MI:13 #5
Bill Sherman: From The Shadow Of The Northern Lights
Chris Mautner: The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: The Arina Tanemura Collection: The Art of Full Moon
 

 
September 21, 2008


CR Sunday Interview: T. Alixopulos

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*****

imageT. Alixopulos has long been on the radar of small-press comics fans but his more recent books have placed him in that more general category of cartoonists to watch. After completing two lengthy, ambitious comics in Dread and Mine Tonight, earlier this year Alixopulos released Hot Breath of War into the market through Sparkplug. Hot Breath of War filtered the cartoonist's romantic, restless nature and growing political consciousness through a style reminiscent of the magazine cartoon essay of decades past. The work admirably eschews direct confrontation and sweeping generalization for a cascade of narratives that at times are more obtuse than they are strident. Together, they paint as effective a portrait of the nation's mind-set, at least from one artist's view, as any comic currently out there. I owe the cartoonist a personal thank you for how quickly this interview came together, and I urge you to check out some of his work either on-line or the next time you find yourself at a major alt/indy show.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: I know almost nothing about your background. The name is memorable enough I'm thinking that I remember it on-line and then started seeing you at shows like San Diego and maybe SPX. How did you start doing mini-comics?

TREVOR ALIXOPULOS: I was born in Hawai'i and grew up in California, in the outer rural fringes of the Bay Area. I'd always read comics, superhero comics, RAW, Tintin comics, whatever, growing up, and had ideas of being a cartoonist. But back in the early-90s superhero comics reached such an absolute nadir of quality that they bludgeoned away all my remaining adolescent interest in being a penciller. I could relate more to comics like Love & Rockets, and 'zines were still kind of on the upswing, it seemed like you could make minis and people somewhere out there would read them. I went to San Francisco's Alternative Press Expo for the first time in 1994, but really began doing comics in earnest around 2000.

imageSPURGEON: What do you think kept you at it when a number of your peers stopped?

ALIXOPULOS: I came to mini-comics toward the end of the '90s zine-explosion, just as the internet was sort of subsuming and supplanting it. But paradoxically, the new ease of communication and networking gave small-pressers a new lease on life. I might have quit anyways if I had been more isolated, but I was fairly close to a comics hotbed. Around 2001 I started coming into San Francisco regularly and meeting people like Dan Zettwoch, who was my own age and doing mini-comics too, or Jesse Reklaw and Andrice Arp, who were a bit older and seemed more established, and that gave me a lot of encouragement. More to the point, though I'm self-effacing I have a lot of pride and quitting comics was never really an option because it would have felt like a personal failure on my part.

SPURGEON: I remember liking your appearance in the Chris Brandt film Independents. Where was your segment filmed? It looked like you were on a loading dock somewhere. That film was about the creative impulse; is that something you've ever thought about, why you do this?

ALIXOPULOS: That sequence was actually filmed in the loading docks in the back of the APE convention hall, in San Francisco. I was trepidatious about the project originally, but was really pleasantly surprised at how that interview turned out, given that Chris threw it at me in the closing minutes of the convention and I may or may not have had something to drink just prior. It was perhaps appropriate that Chris interviewed me at a Con, because that's usually when I wonder "Why am I doing this?" When I'm alone with pen and ink it rarely occurs to me because it's so enjoyable.

imageSPURGEON: How do you look back on your early mini-comics at this point? They seem very different than your last two or three books. They also seemed about ten years out of their time, more like bursts of energy than something was formally ambitious or controlled and literary-minded. What do you like about that work and is there anything about that work to which you feel little or no connection now?

ALIXOPULOS: What I like about my older mini-comics are some of the things that I feel a bit disconnected from today, and that is their spontaniety. They have mysterious completeness that comes from doing them only when I felt inspired, they emerged from the wealth of time at a twenty year old's disposal. It's like they arrive fully-formed.

The graphic novels feel more messy and sprawling than my mini-comics, but at the same time weightier, more exploratory. My old minis were in this smart-assed underground comix mode. Some of that was my age and some of that was the times, the sort of sheltered sarcastic doldrums at the turn of the century. As much as they might seem out of time then, they're doubly so now. I feel like the world around me changed to such a degree that my brand of satire was inappropriate and reductive. The times had become more charged and cinematic and they didn't seem to fit into gag strips anymore.

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SPURGEON: Do you agree that Dread was an important book for you in terms of your development? It seemed more ambitious than some of the earlier work, more of a type in some ways visually with what you're doing now. What do you remember about doing that book?

ALIXOPULOS: Dread was the first comic I did that I felt didn't fit easily into a mini-comic format, it's longer and weirdly paced, and was dismayingly difficult to physically assemble. I remember Dread coinciding with a weekly comics workshop/critique night that some of the Bay Area cartoonists (Lark Pien, Andrice Arp, Jesse Reklaw) were organizing. We'd meet in an apartment or a warehouse space and sort of methodically go over what we were working on. I'd never really planned a book out like that before and I'd certainly never been forced to lay out all the pages on the floor in front of my peers and read it aloud. It was a good experience, it probably made something that easily could have been far more shrill somewhat more palatable. The book grew out of a scared, hopeless feeling about the way the world seemed to be going, but it ended up being far more formal and cool in tone than I expected.

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SPURGEON: I went searching for Dread on the Internet and one page on which it's mentioned says that it's debuting at SPX. Can you talk a little bit about having those kind of comics shows available to you as a cartoonist? Is it important to have something like that to focus your publishing plans or are they incidental to what you'd be doing?

ALIXOPULOS: The shows did provide a rational structure to an endeavor that in my darker moments could seem like some dadaist thought experiment. I remember Vanessa Davis told me something that Tom Hart told her, "Don't get flustered about doing your comics, nobody's watching and nobody cares." My problem was I was certain that that was actually the case. By going to shows I could make-believe that people out there care that I "debut" something even if I knew rationally that they probably didn't. There are endless possibilities for procrastination with minis, so it helps to work toward a real event.

imageSPURGEON: For that matter, I think of you as part of a larger group of cartoonists, mostly on the West Coast. Do you feel like you're part of a community in that sense? Has it been important to you to have friend in the cartooning field in terms of feedback or your overall development?

ALIXOPULOS: Santa Rosa's a smallish city, so it was just a welcome experience to be able to drive an hour to the Bay and be able to meet up with three, six, eight cartoonists at a time. There was a certain esprit d'corps initially where I was just happy to meet any cartoonist, but over time things settled out into community that I felt a kinship with creatively and personally, which I think is still there but a bit scattered geographically now. Dan moved back to the Midwest, Jesse and Andrice moved to Portland, as did about a million other cartoonists. I think the artists on the Global Hobo site were kind of a pure representation of that particular community.

imageSPURGEON: Mine Tonight is an extremely ambitious work. It switches storytelling styles mid-stream, thwarts a lot of easy narrative expectations, and even has you in it as a character. How was that book written? What kind of process led your from concept to getting it on the page?

ALIXOPULOS: I'm glad you think it was ambitious! I guess it's probably not even as complicated as some superhero story arcs but it felt overwhelmingly complex at the time. Sparkplug approached me about doing a 70-100 page graphic novel, and I had no novel. I had just a few fragments of ideas; a secret agent during the 2004 elections, a hillbilly frog, a trip to the island of Nauru. I filled a notebook with diagrams and thumbnails, basically jamming all the ideas together and then boiling off the excess. Eventually a very personal story of redemption seemed to emerge from it. Once I had a general idea of it, I would thumbnail out a chapter at a time in the notebook, and then switch to my sketchbook and draw the final product. Working on a long, dense book had its challenges, I'd feel like I was making progress and then realize "Oh wait these two characters have to meet at some point but I forgot to figure out how."

SPURGEON: I don't know if you'd want to talk about which parts of Mine Tonight were based on your experiences, but I was wondering if you could talk in general about doing a book that seems a snapshot, or maybe better an exploration of a state of mind at a certain time in one's life. Was it difficult to work with material that seems while reading it to be very close to you, or did that book make it to the page easily?

ALIXOPULOS: Both Mine Tonight and THBOW are definitely definitely explorations of a certain time one's life, so I guess it's an open question at this point if I can work any other way. I needed to invest a lot of myself in Lukas, the main character, so I could see him through to the end. I guess what worries me about pulling so much from my life would be to somehow cheapen my memories, that someone from my past might read it, recognize a few things and then assume that the whole book was a stripmine job. But it's much more about who I was while I was writing it, and because it was in the end a hopeful book, I felt good while I was writing it and it felt good to write.

I appear as a character in the Mine Tonight, but "my" role in it is almost as a feint, to de-emphasize in the reader's mind any distracting autobio suspicions they might harbor toward Lukas. I did get involved in activism in the late '90s, and mined some specific instances for the book. But beyond those specifically I wanted to apply my experiences in a more universal way to Lukas, about how you find that real life doesn't neatly fit into ideological and moral constructs, but that doesn't exempt you from trying to do the right thing.

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SPURGEON: How did you start work with Dylan [Williams, Sparkplug's publisher]? I don't know that I've talked to too many people that have worked with Sparkplug, can you talk a bit about the process of doing a book with them? Do you get any feedback editorially or design wise? How closely does Sparkplug adhere to your wishes on the books you do through them. I'd be interested in hearing about your overall experience, or if there's anything that really sticks out about it.

ALIXOPULOS: I was aware of Dylan from some years back, he'd been in the Bay Area before moving to Portland. He came along offering to print a graphic novel at a time when I was felt creatively hemmed in by the restrictions of minis and financially busted from jet-setting small presserdom. I'd run up my credit card on mini-comics and comics shows, and the returns are so slow and small for even a wildly successful mini that it's like you never get them, they get reverse-amortized or something. So I was just grateful. Sparkplug starts from the premise that the artist calls the shots creatively, because their vision is Sparkplug's whole reason for publishing the book.

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SPURGEON: Was I onto something when I suggested that the visual style of Hot Breath of War was drawing on the visual essay style from cartoonists and almost-cartoonists of the 1950s and 1960s? Do you consciously develop style?

ALIXOPULOS: I can't pin down one specific iconic work but I do really enjoy that essay style that Jules Feiffer and those old New Yorker cartoonists pioneered, I like the measured pace of it, how it feels both gestural and considered. And even today it feels modern, engaged, which was an effect I wanted for THBOW. Another thing about that style that I like is how it has no firm distinction made between words and pictures. That's real cartooning to me, when the art is direct, like handwriting. Within the bounds of my own overall style I think I'm a bit of a chameleon, I try to tailor-fit each strip to the subject. This gets me into trouble though, because there are a couple of characters in THBOW who are in more than one story, but I think the variation in style obscures that fact.

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SPURGEON: I don't remember where the title "Hot Breath of War" comes from, although the phrase isn't totally unfamiliar. Is that a specific quote?

ALIXOPULOS: Not really, it was just one of those stock phrases, i.e. "Like a velvet glove cast in iron" that seem to float around. I heard it somewhere and liked the sound of it and filed it away. Then one night while tending bar at this local pub/bookstore a country song came on that had a lyric about "the hot breath of this monkey on my back," which reminded me of it. The themes that all that suggested, war as an addiction or obsession, with these sexual overtones, seemed rich to me. I started thinking about what kind of book would have that title and those themes and went on from there.

SPURGEON: Speaking of which, if I remember correctly, you open the book with a vicious quote from Thomas Paine that indicts war as a business of nations. Is Paine part of your reading? Are you well read historically, politically? What kind of reading informs your work, do you think?

ALIXOPULOS: I'm fairly well-read historically, but I'm strictly under-grad literarily, because I'm a lazy fiction-reader. I've only read bits of Thomas Paine, but his biography has always seemed fascinating to me. I'm almost more interested in learning how people lived their lives than what they have to say about them. My dad is a history professor and I read a lot of nonfiction and academic stuff. I suppose I'm more likely to pick up a book of letters average people wrote to FDR than John Steinbeck, say. I draw some from history, philosophy, mythology, the Bible, essayists like George Saunders, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Edward Abbey, Alain de Botton, and a tiny bit of poetry.

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SPURGEON: There's a great deal of sprawl to Hot Breath of War, both in terms of it being a number of short stories and those stories varying greatly in terms of subject matter and tone. Did the book come together in one sustained burst, or is it constructed from a number of independent, component works? How did you feel about putting together such different stories under one cover, how those shifts in mood and story type might be interpreted by the reader?

ALIXOPULOS: The other day I came across some early thumbnails for it and surprised myself by how planned out it was. I knew which stories would make up the book well before I wrote any of them, it was like I drew up a Cliff's Notes version of the book before I began. In some strips I had the whole narrative pretty much in mind at the start and in others just an image, "Little boy, lost in the woods," say. After drawing them it was a matter of arranging the stories in a way that read best, which ended up being close to how I'd originally sketched it out. By grouping such different stories together, without comment or explicit explanation, it was my hope that the connections the reader would draw would feel more charged and vital than if I had spelled them out for them. I wanted to do a comic that had jarring transitions, but ones that took place within a realm that the reader would want to revisit.

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SPURGEON: Hot Breath of War seems to grapple with the mood of the entire nation, the way that war and certain politics have changed our way of thinking, altered reality as it were. How careful are you when dealing with these big issues in terms of presenting your narratives when it comes to becoming overly didactic or shifting from parable to polemic? Or is that even a concern?

ALIXOPULOS: It was definitely a concern with both books. It would have been more of a concern if I had been pushing for some specific solution, but I don't think THBOW does that. The book struggles with its observations and tries to give them the weight they merit, but much of those observations are made in the telling, in the way the stories unfold. As an example, the opening story of THBOW is this sort of broad slapstick cartoon battle, but the story's punchline is not the point, it's in the way the characters talk past one another and speak without communicating that works to the books themes. One thing I've noticed with political art is that it's very easy for the artist to lose their unique voice, and in so doing lose control of the work. It seems like when we speak about our private lives we use our own language, but when we talk politics we tend to use the same old cliches. I tried to instead use my own symbols, as well as taking classic but disused cartoony themes, from things like Popeye or Betty Boop, and applying them to modern concerns.

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SPURGEON: You mentioned in an e-mail to me that you were at the point in the book's cycle where you were able to think about it differently, maybe even talk about it in a way you weren't prepared to when it came out. Can you talk about that a bit? How has your ability to talk about the book changed? How might you think about the differently now?

ALIXOPULOS: It is much different now, a completed book is a whole different animal. I think that the creative process is like many endeavors in life, from business to romance, where you must steadily work towards a goal without looking too directly at it, and without appearing to pursue it overly much. Gilbert Hernandez said something about how when Tonantzin died it surprised him, even though he knew it, on some level, and I kind of get that. You hide the things you do when you're doing them but then that's a problem when you're done and you're expected to explain it! So going back to my original explicit plans for the book has actually helped me talk about it, as did reading reviews of it. When I'm working I have to think in comics, but translating it into words can be awkward. Like, in my mind at the time, the narrative leaps the book makes related conceptually to the logical leaps people make when we go to war, but when I say that out loud it sounds kind of funny.

SPURGEON: Was there anything you felt people simply didn't get out of that work that you knew was there?

ALIXOPULOS: There aren't that many outlets for in-depth criticism in comics, so I've been generally satisfied with attention it has received. Sometimes people get distracted by the structure of the book without particularly paying much attention to the formal nature of it. I felt like the book's arrangement is necessary; it deals with such big themes that I had to address them with a light touch, in an impressionist manner. I'm a young guy, and there's only so far beyond my field of experience that I can speak authoritatively about. But at the same time, I do want to speak to these themes, so I leave the reader a lot of discretion and I hope that we can meet in the middle.

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SPURGEON: I've really liked the little bit of sketchbook work of yours I've seen over the years. Are you still devoted to working in a sketchbook? How important has that been to your growth as a cartoonist?

ALIXOPULOS: Keeping a sketchbook began as a grudging concession to artistic practice and became an integral part of my creative process. I was frustrated because my comics seemed stiff and graceless compared to my sketchbook drawings. My work-around for this performance anxiety was to dump my Bristol board and do everything in my sketchbook. Ever since Mine Tonight, all my comics have been ripped out of the sketchbook. I probably couldn't have gotten away with this pre-photoshop, but now your originals can be as ragged and messy as you like.

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SPURGEON: How have people reacted to your last two books, given this year's long domestic political process? Is there anything about the way this year's presidential election has gone so far, or anything about the last days of the present administration, that interests you as an author having just completed two long works about politics and culture?

ALIXOPULOS: I was wrapping up THBOW as the election was just ramping up, and some of my early reactions made it into the book. One of those was the use of language and how it has evolved in politics, from its former purpose as an Orwellian gloss to just plain white noise. It's become common to see talking heads on cable news create a sort of surreal situation where no one can understand what they are saying, but that being OK because it drowns out their opposition as well. Sort of a murder-suicide of rhetoric. I have a few ideas bouncing around, but I think that, for myself, and probably many other people as well, at this point I'm just sort of holding my breath until we find out what kind of country we'll all be living in.

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SPURGEON: You turn 30 this year -- or turned 30. Has hitting that milestone had any effect at all on your orientation towards your comics, your art? Have you given any thought where you'd like to be when you're 40?

ALIXOPULOS: I think turning 30 actually looms over much of The Hot Breath of War, despite the sort of worldly and historical elements to it. The two longer stories in the book are rooted in a mid-'20s lifestyle that I was looking back on, of going out at night and trying to make some desperate connection against a backdrop of what to me seemed like desperate times. There is something simultaneously nihilistic and hopeful about those stories that I felt would relate to the broader world that we live in. Back when I was 20 there was no way I would have predicted that I would have done a book like this, it was the furthest thing from my interest at the time. So I guess I hope that when I'm 40 I'll create something that's equally unexpected.

*****

* cover to The Hot Breath of War
* photo from Stumptown 2008
* part of a page from The Hot Breath of War
* cover to an Alixopulos mini
* from Dread
* another mini-comics image
* from The Hot Breath of War
* cover to Mine Tonight
* page from Mine Tonight
* from The Hot Breath of War
* from The Hot Breath of War
* from The Hot Breath of War
* from The Hot Breath of War
* from The Hot Breath of War
* from on-line sketchbook
* from The Hot Breath of War
* from The Hot Breath of War

*****

* The Hot Breath of War, T. Alixopulos, Sparkplug, softcover, 128 pages, 2008, $13

*****

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*****
*****
 
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If I Were In Niles, I'd Go To This

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Five Link A Go Go

* go, bookmark: Corinne Mucha blog

* go, look: Brad McGinty remember his dad

* go, read: another long interview featuring T. Alixopulos

* go, watch: Matthew Craig on the BBC

* go, read: SPX Programming PR
 
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FFF Results Post #134 -- Female Leads

On Friday afternoon, participating CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics You Like Where -- Clearly, So That A Fifth Grader Could See It -- The Lead Character Is Female. And Name the Comic, Not The Character!" The subject was suggested by John Vest. Here are the results.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Little Orphan Annie
2. Persepolis
3. Elfen Lied
4. Cold Heat
5. Little Lulu

*****

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Peggy Burns

* Little Lulu
* Ghost World
* Ernie Pook
* Dirty Plotte
* Nowhere
* Love & Rockets

Editor's Note: Peggy Burns gets to name as many as she wants.

*****

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Eric Reynolds

1. Love & Rockets
2. Little Orphan Annie
3. Ghost World
4. Little Lulu
5. Daddy's Girl/Summer of Love

This was a tough one, because if I go with what resonated with me at my most influential age, #1 might be the New Mutants circa mid-to-late-80s (I was in love with Kittty Pryde and to a lesser extent, the irish werewolf girl whose name I can't remember), but the above are my favorites as an adult, off the top of my head. But I could have just as easily chosen anything by Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Julie Doucet, Phoebe Gloeckner, or Lynda Barry. I feel weird choosing 4 works out of 5 by men (when I think Little Lulu, I think John Stanley, not Marge, for better or for worse), but hey, I'm a guy.

*****

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Nat Gertler

1. Jane's World
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight
3. Leave It to Chance
4. Why I Hate Saturn
5. Halo Jones

*****

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Steve Stwalley

1) Krazy Kat
2) Nancy
3) Little Lulu
4) Rick Geary's Blanche series
5) Palomar

*****

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Elijah Brubaker

* one hundred demons
* How to understand Israel in 60 days or less
* lucky
* Ivy
* Laika

*****

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Randall Ragsdale

1. Tank Girl
2. Wonder Woman
3. Lost Girls
4. Promethea
5. Lost At Sea

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Blue Monday by Chynna Clugston
2. Nana by Ai Yazawa
3. Pastil/Pastille by Francesca Ghermandi
4. Grendel: Devil's Legacy (#s 1-12, the Christine Spar year) by Matt Wagner & the Pander Bros.
5. Rare Creature by Kelley Seda

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Alias
2. Perla La Loca
3. The Ballad of Halo Jones
4. Dykes to Watch Out For
5. Cat and Girl

*****

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Jones

5. Octopus Girl
4. Uzumaki
3. Love and Rockets
2. Beecomix
1. The Marston/Peters Wonder Woman

*****

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Dave Knott

* Why I Hate Saturn, by Kyle Baker
* On Stage, by Leonard Starr
* Girl Genius, by Phil and Kaja Foglio
* Indian Summer, by Hugo Pratt and Milo Manara
* Ernie Pook's Comeek, by Lynda Barry

*****

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Joe Schwind

Little Iodine
Motor City Comics
The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist
The Tinder Box (Classics Illustrated Jr 540)
Ghost World

*****

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Ryan Kirk

1. Yotsuba&
2. Blecky Yuckarella
3. Miss Fury
4. Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
5. Promethea

*****

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Booksteve

* On Stage
* Strangers In Paradise
* Kelly Green
* She-Hulk
* The Ballad Of Halo Jones

*****

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Richard Pachter

1. The Ballad Of Halo Jones
2. Cherry Poptart
3. Dirty Plotte
4. Sally Forth
5. Persepolis

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. Love and Rockets
2. Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane
3. Ghost World
4. Trots and Bonnie
5. Catwoman (well, of course)

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. Love & Rockets (duh!)
2. The Greatest of Marlys
3. Ghost World
4. Gemma Bovery
5. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

*****

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Calum Johnston

1 - alison dare
2 - little lulu
3 - love & rockets
4 - give me liberty
5 - batgirl year one

*****

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Don MacPherson

* Echo
* Alias
* Birds of Prey (Chuck Dixon/Gail Simone runs)
* Water Baby
* Leave It to Chance

*****

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Domingos Isabelinho

* A Harlot's Progress
* Life? or Theatre?
* Die kleine Dame
* Ernie Pook's Comeek!
* La Orilla

*****

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Tony Collett

* Strangers In Paradise
* Little Lulu
* Fallen Angel
* Playful Little Audrey
* Ghost World

*****

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Chuck Forsman

1. Nancy
2. Lucky
3. One Hundred Demons
4. Fun Home
5. My New York Diary

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. The Dreamer
2. Kukuburi
3. Girl Genius
4. The Devil's Panties
5. Cheshire Crossing

*****

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Shannon Smith

Dirty Plotte
Kabuki
THB
La Perdida
Fun Home

*****

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Sean T. Collins

1. Poison River
2. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
3. Paradise Kiss
4. Wet Moon
5. The ACME Novelty Library #19

*****

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David Ferraro

This was a tough one for me since I read a lot of comics with female lead characters, but I narrowed it down to the following:

1. Peculia
2. Elektra: Assassin
3. Luba
4. Artesia
5. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

*****

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Patrick Markfort

* Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight
* Love & Rockets
* Fun Home
* Whiteout
* Ernie Pook's Comeek

*****

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Matthew Wave

1) Pastil
2) Naughty Bits
3) Fun Home
4) Josie Mac: Distant Voices and Josie Mac: Trading Up
5) We Are on Our Own

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Little Orphan Annie
2. Jaka's Story
3. Daddy's Girl
4. Manya
5. Late Bloomer

*****

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Eleanor Davis

* Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
* Gokinjo no Monogatari
* Skim
* Ghost World
* Lucky

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

* Chase
* Manhunter
* Promethea
* Angel and the Ape

and stop me if you've heard this one before...

* Venus!

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. On Stage
2. Naughty Bits
3. Love and Rockets
4. Thirteen
5. Little Lulu

*****

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William Burns

1. Promethea
2. Dykes to Watch out For
3. Meat Cake
4. Why I hate Saturn
5. She-Hulk

*****

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John McCorkle

* Patty's World, by Phillip Douglas and Purita Campos
* Mary Perkins On Stage, by Leonard Starr
* Jessica Blandy, by Jean Dufaux & Renaud Denauw
* Julia: Le avventure di una criminologa, by Giancarlo Berardi
* Angeline, by Adeline Blondieu, Éric Summer and Serge Fino

*****

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Tucker Stone

1. Queen & Country
2. Nana
3. 2 Sisters
4. The Pro
5. Selina's Big Score

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Veronica
2. Night Nurse
3. Wendy, the Good Little Witch
4. Whoa Nellie
5. Lady Cop

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Valerian
2. THB
3. Modesty Blaise
4. Mechanics/Locas
5. FLCL

*****

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Russell Lissau

1. Little Gloomy
2. Scary Godmother
3. Babymouse
4. Magic Trixie
5. Catwoman

*****

Thanks to all that participated. I did bounce a few to the letters column that didn't pass the clarity test or had to be qualified in order to pass. Sorry about that. I hated doing it, but I hate getting the e-mails from other participants complaining about it more than just about anything in my professional life.

*****
*****
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Craig Thompson!

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First Thought Of The Day

All of my dreams lately involve some sort of dire violence or attending comic book conventions in strange locations, but never the two at the same time.
 
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September 20, 2008


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

September 21
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September 23
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September 24
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September 25
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September 26
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September 27
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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from September 13 to September 19, 2008:

1. Michael George story progresses: he will have a bond hearing next week; the original trial's jurors are not pleased.

2. Zapiro/Zuma battle over potent Zapiro cartoon continues.

3. Retailer sentenced for DVD piracy.

Winners Of The Week
Your 2008 Ignatz Award nominees!

Loser Of The Week
Anyone out there if they were still waiting to hear on the CBLDF thing.

Quote Of The Week

"The professional political cartoonist -- the man or woman who spends their life living and breathing politics, history and sociology and devotes their career to distilling new ways of thinking about the world with a drawing, could become extinct." -- Ted Rall

this week's imagery comes from a comic book written by the late Steve Gerber, as I believe he would have been 61 today
 
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If I Were In Halifax, I'd Go To This

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Michael J. Grabowski On Changing One's Orientation Towards Comics (9/20/08)
* Derik A Badman on Five Titles That Clearly Offer Female Leads (9/20/08)
* Michael Aushenker on Five Strip Which Clearly Feature A Female Lead (9/20/08)
* Vito Delsante on Five Comics Clearly Featuring Female Lead Characters (9/20/08)
* Andrew Horton On Five Comics With Female Leads (9/20/08)
* Brian Fies On Writing About Process (9/19/08)
* Jamey Owen, Age 14 or 38, On Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1 (9/18/08)
* Tucker Stone On Simon Baker (9/18/08)
* Kevin Greenlee On Goodbye To Print Iteration Of Clear Blue Water (9/18/08)
* Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Announce Incognito (PR) (9/16/08)
* Domingos Isabelinho on Ron Cobb (9/14/08)
* Jason McNamara on Martian Confederacy Signing 9/13 (9/13/08)

 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Steve Ringgenberg!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Five For Friday #134 -- Female Leads

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Five For Friday #134 -- Name Five Comics You Like Where -- Clearly, So That A Fifth Grader Could See It -- The Lead Character Is Female. And Name the Comic, Not The Character!

*****

1. Little Orphan Annie
2. Persepolis
3. Elfen Lied
4. Cold Heat
5. Little Lulu

suggested by John Vest

This Subject Is Now Closed. Thanks To All That Participated.

*****

Five For Friday is a reader response feature. To play, send a response while it's still Friday. Play fair. Responses up Sunday morning.
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
September 19, 2008


Michael George Bond Hearing Set For Tuesday By Presiding Judge

The prominent Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer Michael George, whose conviction on various crimes surrounding the slaying of his then-wife Barbara in Michigan in 1990 at their comic book store was overturned in a surprise decision one week ago, will learn Tuesday if he will be allowed to go free pending his new trial, starting in December. George was convicted in March and sentenced to life in prison in June, but the presiding Judge set aside the decision due to his appraisal that evidence the prosecution new about that was not presented would have had an impact on him had he been deciding rather than a jury.
 
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Friday Distraction: Your 2008 Baltimore City Paper Comics Issue, Contest

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
All These Good Times Are Killing Us

The blogger and retailer Chris Butcher provides the most high-profile of a number of rumblings out there about the staggering number of quality publication being released every week in comics right now, which when combined with increasingly dire news about the US economy is making many people ask the question of whether or not something has to give. I would imagine in a lot of cases something has already given: certainly in mainstream comics and in manga we see evidence that there are limits to the depth and breadth of those particular markets -- people are no longer buying everything. One advantage that the smaller art comics market has over its bigger brethren is that its primary corporate entities are a) established, disciplined comics publishers that managed to survive when there was no money in what they did and aren't likely to go crazy now that there's a tiny little bit of money in it, b) major publishing houses that have the resources to adapt by, say, changing the size of advances or simply getting out.

imageThat doesn't really help matters if you're a comics consumer whose eyes are bigger than your wallet. I'm an atypical consumer of comics in that I get a lot of stuff for review purposes. However, one thing that helped me when I was a broke grad student and an even broker recession-suffering twentysomething was to change my orientation towards comics. I stopped thinking New Comics Day and started thinking about building a library -- to have a comics collection I would never resent taking with me. The way I did this was roughly 1) figured out what I was spending, 2) quit going to the shop for six weeks, 3) started depositing a percentage of my weekly purchase amount -- whatever I wanted it reduced to -- into a fee-free checking account starting that first break week and making that a weekly habit (or doing so virtually in terms of my existing account; if a dedicated account or category sounds insane to you, you don't buy enough comics for buying comics to be a problem), 4) vowed to end the practice of double-dipping, which didn't always mean trades over comics but certainly meant one or the other, 5) when I started to buy again not buying anything the week it came out for six months, 6) never buying from the same place three times in a row. At least that's how I remember that transition this week; my memory's not great there. But the rough idea of it is solid.

Although if everyone were to do what I did it might mean the death of the Direct Market, I'm much happier now with the way I purchase comics than I was as a teen and as a young man. Waiting just a tiny bit of time before purchase makes me reconsider how much I really want something apart from the desire to consume it immediately, and allows me access to things like the first wave of Amazon.com used book sales of that item. Making myself buy from different locations helped improve the variety of my purchases -- when you're buying from Abebooks.com instead of Roger's Comics Hut you're more likely to buy an Abner Dean book as opposed to a third comic series starring a team of young runaways. Making a decision to buy something based on how much money you have in your comics account is a much less stressful process than deciding if you want to take extra money out of the same account that facilitates car repairs and the purchase of medicine. Moreover, once you restore some sanity week-in and week-out, and establish a habit of buying only the books you're really going to enjoy instead of buying a bunch of comics to have a comics-reading experience or some other, strange reason, you'll find that the occasional impulse buy of a big, expensive hardcover or picking up a random pile of comic books is a fun thing to do a few times a year.

If you're still overwhelmed by a desire to read certain books, try inter-library loans to facilitate freeing up cash for those comics that aren't available that way. I'm not certain most folks really need to own a copy of Terry Gilliam's Animations of Mortality, but it's a book just about any comics fan will enjoy reading. If you orient yourself to Wednesdays-only and can remember a time when you could buy everything you wanted that was out that day, it's bound to be frustrating to grapple with a present reality where you can't. If you orient yourself to 114 years of an art form it's obvious you'll never own it all; you can relax and take more pleasure in everything you can own. It's a fact of life that in comics as with all things wonderful in this world you're probably going to want more than you can afford. It doesn't have to get you down. Buy to read. Collect to re-read. And most of all: enjoy.
 
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Comics Retailer Sentenced To Home Confinement On DVD Piracy Charge

Robert Miller of Sarge's Comic Store in New London, Connecticut was sentenced to six months home confinement, a financial penalty and two years probation for making and selling pirated DVDs, TheDay.com reports. Miller's store, which will remain open, has four full-time and three part-time employees and has been in operation since 1999.
 
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I Will Be Spitting Venom All Over It

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That headline is a quote from Alan Moore on the forthcoming Watchmen movie. It kills because it's so funny as a stand-alone, but the article is actually quite interesting the way most Alan Moore articles can be compelling. In case you missed it, the famed comics writer in no way supports the Hollywood treatments of his work, or, to be honest, much in the way of modern, blockbuster film.

Although it's never going to be a popular stance, I think something Moore's strong views provide is an opportunity for self-examination when it comes to comics' self-image as a business and comics' ability to build its own ethical, workable industry away from Hollywood profits and, to a much lesser extent, away from strategies that depend on, rather than make use of, book publishing avenues. I think this is really important, because I firmly believe the trend over the years is for fewer people to make decent money in traditional comics than used to, even though in some ways there's more money than ever. By concentrating on ethical growth within the comics industry, including an equitable return to creators and a fair chance at all marketplaces, you can also help deter potential exploitation that may come when someone from another medium walks in the room carrying one of those Beagle Boys-style bags of money. Although I severely distrust the hype and boosterism and mix of projection and reality that frequently comes with the discussion that's been engendered in that part of comics, I sometimes wonder if our collective inability to discuss, say, webcomics models in a rational way is because it's potentially upsetting to practices that might take it right in the kidneys from the possibilities those avenues may provide some creators.

God bless Alan Moore for taking an unpopular stand that depends on an ethical position regarding certain deals and types of art. Let us all fight for an industry where more people are encouraged when they take similar stands, and have the standing and position to do so without feeling like they're risking house and home.
 
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If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Ontario, I'd Go To These

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that second one is a PDF
 
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If I Were In California, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Modena, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Zak Sally's Rejected Nickelodeon Gag Panels

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Go, Read: Grant Morrison's Various Favorite Superman Moments/Stories

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Go, Look: Intergalactico

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Go, Look: Pogo Collection Gallery

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Go, Read: Local #3

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Gil Roth explains the current financial crisis in terms we can all understand.

image* we're reminded by J. Caleb Mozzocco that recalled comic DC: Decisions #1 is on the stupid clock in terms of our finding out what was so wrong with it it couldn't be released to market. We now know, much to our collective industry shame, that a Batman comic was recalled because DC felt the insane need to print curse words under the suddenly not-so-black blocks covering them, and that a Superman comic was recalled because Superman must share drinking habits with Radar O'Reilly instead of, I don't know, a guy. I hope we never find out what doomed the initial printing of DC's opposite-of-greatly-anticipated (I'm guessing) exploration of superhero political views, because that means we can dream up much more amusing horrors than almost certainly exist, say a Krassneresque flashback that features Hourman having sex with the hole in Jack Kennedy's skull, or a brand new scene showing off Green Arrow's Muhammed Cartoons arrow.

* the publisher and creator Nat Gertler writes in to tell me what those mini-comics being offered on the Diamond shipping list were: "You're not supposed to be able to pick those comics up at the store today. Rather, they're for stores to give out on Halloween." Thanks, Nat. The attentive reader will note the exclusion of "JUL0800666 NAKED PICASSO'S PENIS MINI COMIC PI."

* too soon?

* the prominent blogger Kevin Church insists that social media is not the answer you think it is.

* you know, I'm all for boutique publishing models and have celebrated them in comics since Chris Oliveros came along with his consistently excellent Drawn and Quarterly. That said, I find this article that suggests a specific "Mom and Pop" prose publisher is impressive because it managed to throw a halfway decent party to be so depressing I wanted to stab myself in the face. Now and forever, book publishing is gross.

* finally, the writer Hervé St-Louis dissects the latest Marvel Comics television commercial, because a few years ago we apparently slipped into some bizarre pocket universe where Marvel Comics has television commercials.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Garry Leach!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Cynthia Martin!

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Quick hits
Craft
How To Script A Comic
Jacob Covey on Designing Popeye
How He Approaches Cartooning 02

Exhibits/Events
Go See Josh Elder
Worst Advent Calendar Ever
Review of Craig Thompson Installation
Go To The Harveys On Someone Else's Dime!

History
Remembering Christian Comics
Why Mary Marvel Used To Be Awesome

Industry
Comic Store Moves
I Hate Your Cartoons
Comics Are Bad For Kids
I Hate Your Hating Of Cartoons
Comics Not Just Bad For Comics, Not Even For Kids

Interviews/Profiles
He Likes Jann Jones
SmashdTV: Dean Haspiel
The JC.com: Alissa Torres
Newsarama: Robert Kirkman
Newsarama: LeSean Thomas
East Hampton Press: Stan Goldberg
Burlington Book Festival: James Kochalka

Not Comics
NOOOOOO!!!
Calm Down, Otaku
Culling Your Collection
Neil Gaiman On A Horse
You've Seen The Teaser, Now Buy The T-Shirt
Are There Really Any Film Critics That Count As Snobs?
Peter David on Why Discussing Gay Marriage is Important

Publishing
Upcoming Fanta Books
New On-Line Comics Site Launches
Happy 2nd Birthday To Eye On Comics!

Reviews
Jason Young: Fables
Ian McGillis: Various
Deb Aoki: sola Vol. 1
Christoph Mark: Pluto
Richard Krauss: Tranny
Tom Flinn: Breakdowns
Jessie Bi: Le Petit Prince
Erik R. Johnson: Various
Jason Young: Robin #178
Greg Burgas: Hard Boiled
John Mitchell: How to Love
John Mitchell: Paul Goes Fishing
Sean T. Collins: Daredevil #110
Richard Gehr: Deitch's Pictorama
Tucker Stone: Lots of Garth Ennis
Chris Butcher: Disappearance Diary
Dan Phillips: All Star Superman #12
Richard Bruton: Maggie The Mechanic
Greg McElhatton: Buck Godot, Zap Gun For Hire Vol. 2
 

 
September 18, 2008


Jurors Object To George Re-Trial

Macomb County Circuit Court James Biernat will wait until tomorrow before releasing his written decision on whether or not prominent Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer Michael George will be freed on bond to await a second trial for crimes related to the 1990 slaying of his then-wife Barbara in their comic book shop. The judge set aside the original murder conviction last Friday, shocking both sides of a well-publicized case that ended with a life-in-prison verdict earlier this year.

As you can imagine, at least some of the jurors aren't happy, and the majority of the story in the link above details some of their reactions. The victim's family's reaction can be found here. It is extremely rare for a judge to set a case aside after a decision has been reached, and I imagine it's even rarer when the judge declines to do so during the trial.

It's not fair to the photographers for me to re-run any of the photos employed to illustrate those articles, but there are a couple of photos and even some video, all interesting, through the links. You'll probably want to see them if you've been following the case.
 
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CBLDF Adds Two New Staffers

imageThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) has added two new staffers to its New York office. Mike Scigliano will be Deputy Director, while Jill Friedman has come on board as the group's Fundraising Manager. I was aware that the first position had been advertised; not aware at all about the second position. Scigliano comes to the group after previous positions at DC Comics and Wizard Conventions; Friedman has held a variety of jobs, at least some of which seem comics-related.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Nate Powell Site

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Go, Bookmark: Pete Mullins' Blog

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Everyone Loves This Peanuts Panel

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Go, Read: Facts About Scriptures

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Go, Look: Cinefamily Program Art

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Go, Look: Happy Smurfday

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonists Jeffrey Brown, Anders Nilsen, Paul Hornschemeier and John Hankiewicz are dissolving their group on-line effort The Holy Consumption.

* cartoonist Charlos Gary has landed at the Washington Times.

image* does anyone else find it somewhat amazing that the last comic standing of the mid-1990s Fantagraphics publishing expansion (Dave Cooper, Renee French, Jeff Johnson, etc.) turned out to be Meat Cake?

* here's a ten commandments for young cartoonists, issued at at the start of a new school year, paraphrased and translated for semi-maximum awkwardness.

* comics consumer advocate Johanna Draper Carlson looks at a recently-announced ComicMix print comics plan. I figure there's a 60/40 chance Johanna hated just being called a comics consumer advocate.

* not comics: Ted Rall's first editorial animation.

* more musing on the long-term, deleterious effects of having a work-for-hire system dominate so much of the comics industry landscape. Here's Noah Berlatsky. Here's Steven Grant on the subject. I think there's some sloppy argumentation going on here in general about the difference between a practice being widespread and it being dominant, and whether or not comics should be compared to popular art forms or secondary ones.

* comics industry officially ridiculous.

* I think even if you accept all the necessary caveats about Alexa as an imprecise measuring tool, and you should, this can't be good news. I'm not sure you can go to hatred as opposed to apathy, either.

* Brendan Wright de-launches blog.

* speaking of Dark Horse (Wright's new job is there), they've donated an issue of every one of their publications to Mike Richardson's alma mater, Portland State University. I think comics library collections are really important, so it's always nice to see this kind of thing done.

* finally, I enjoyed reading some of the latest round of sweeping generalization and incisive commentary about the book business. It mostly starts with this article, and the responses collected here. Jessa Crispin holds forth on the subject of the death of book review sections. I think I would disagree with the New York article critics that just because you can tweak the severity of the scenario being argued that it doesn't mean there isn't a real cogent critical viewpoint there. I think I would also massively disagree with Crispin that the loss of authority is an issue. Authority went away in 1978; what's been lost since is exposure. Plus, as an aside, I'm always confused when people cite the New York Times review section as this kind of authority over New York Review of Books -- I always thought everyone read NYROB and no one really gave a crap about the NYT section, but enough people who know better say it's so so I'm obviously wrong. Also, unless you've forgotten, book publishing is gross.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Brian Ralph!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Joe Kubert!

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Happy 59th Birthday, William Stout!

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Happy 40th Birthday, John P.!

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Quick hits
Craft
Don't Just Give Notes
Sketching Don Quixote
Bryan Lee O'Malley's Tool
How He Approaches Cartooning
Eddie Campbell Appreciates Steve Lieber Drawing

Exhibits/Events
Save That House
Chaland Honored
Fans Flock To Telford
Editorial Cartoon Exhibit In Waco

History
Really Crappy Ideas
Cool Marvel Newspaper Ad

Industry
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoon
What's John Kovaleski Doing?
E&P On Rall State Of Industry Essay
Another Iranian Contest Award-Winner

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Frank Quitely
Newsarama: Karl Kesel
Groth-Deitch Interview Trimmings

Not Comics
Buttons!
Bob Winquist, RIP
Dan Piraro Performs
Awesome Photo Array
Stacy Curtis Kids Book
Zippy For Prime Minister
Peter David at George Takei's Wedding

Publishing
New Comics Days Blues
The Stand Comic Previewed
Scott Adams Polls Economists
The Alcoholic Comic Previewed
Dan Piraro's Rejected Cartoons
Ender's Game Comic Previewed
What He Looks Forward To Seeing
The Grotesque World of Event Comics

Reviews
Bully: Various
Deb Aoki: sola Vol. 1
Jog: Black Jack Vol. 1
Chris Mautner: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Jog: All Star Superman #12
Don MacPherson: Retroactive
Greg McElhatton: Flight Vol. 5
Greg McElhatton: BPRD Vol. 8
Richard Bruton: The Invisibles
Eric Burns-White: Least I Could Do
Eric Burns-White: Real-Life Comics
Sean T. Collins: Pocket Full Of Rain
Marc Singer: All Star Superman #12
Marc Singer: Love and Rockets: New Stories #1
Chris Allen: Captain America: Operation Rebirth
Johanna Draper Carlson: Kitchen Princess Vol. 7
Jarrett Duncan: Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice
 

 
September 17, 2008


This Isn't A Library: New and Notable Releases to the Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that jump out at me from this week's probably mostly accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here -- I might not buy any -- but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick up the following and look them over, and as a result, my retailer and I might not befriend each other on our various social networking sites.

*****

JUL080011 ARCHIE HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL080012 BONE HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL080015 COWA HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL080014 DONALD DUCK HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL080013 PEANUTS HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI

What are these? These sound cool.

JUL083946 BURMA CHRONICLES HC (MR) $19.95
I greatly enjoyed this book, the third of Guy Delisle's estimable different-culture profiles. In fact, I think I enjoyed it the best of all three books.

MAY080069 ASTRO BOY TP VOL 1 & 2 $14.95
I'm looking forward to trying this.

JUL080206 AIR #2 (MR) $2.99
I so, so, so wanted to like this, because a comic book set in airports and around air travel sounds potentially fascinating. Air travel is an interesting, otherworldly experience and seems perfectly suited to being captured by the comics medium. I don't think I'll be buying a second issue, though, as the execution felt hamfisted.

JUN080288 JANES IN LOVE $9.99
Ditto this, except maybe without the "sounds potentially fascinating" part.

JUN084143 LOCAL HC $29.99
Huge collection of the series by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly; I'd like to see it, and see how big it is.

JUL084147 LOOK OUT MONSTERS (MR) $9.95
This is an oversized Xeric winner I remember being kind of cool if a little slight. I'd refresh my memory if I were near a comic book shop by checking it out.

JUN080209 ALL STAR SUPERMAN #12 $2.99
The book of the week not by Guy Delisle, and I believe the conclusion to a very good cycle of Superman stories by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

MAY080213 SUPERMAN KRYPTONITE HC $24.99
This would probably be the Darwyn Cooke/Tim Sale story that ran not all the way consecutively in Superman Confidential.

MAY082203 GODLAND #25 $2.99
JUL082210 SWORD #11 (MR) $2.99
APR082208 WALKING DEAD #52 (MR) $2.99
I read all of these Image serial comics when I see them. Sword is the latest Luna Brothers series and their comics are kind of nuts. Speaking of which...

JUN082243 ULTRA TP VOL 01 SEVEN DAYS (NEW PTG) $17.99
This is the first one of the Luna Brothers' big series, and was nearly a television show, I think, with that grim-looking lady from the boring Terminator TV show. I never understand TV shows with robots. I would think that the Terminator show would be all about the teenage boy constantly having sex with the pretty robot, like all the time, but it's not for some reason. This denies reality, even a reality with robots. Robots confuse me. I used to watch that Star Trek show with the robot in the crew, and I never understood why they didn't keep him on "low," so that when he was controlled by aliens or super-computers or whatever and tried to hurt the other crew members you could just slap him to the floor. Anyway, Ultra doesn't have robots. It's about superheroes if they were celebrities of the kind that would appear on TMZ. It's nowhere near as good as the Luna Brothers comic with the cannibal naked women and giant space sperm, but a lot of folks seemed to like Ultra when it first came out. Their women have attractive shoulders.

JUL082344 AGE OF SENTRY #1 (OF 6) $2.99
Comic books with Sentry in them are like TV shows with Simon Baker in them. No one's interested, but it seems like it should work so they keep trying.

JUL082419 GENE COLAN TRIBUTE BOOK DRACULA COVER $9.99
JUL082418 GENE COLAN TRIBUTE BOOK IRON MAN COVER $9.99
JUL082420 GENE COLAN TRIBUTE BOOK MARVEL MONSTERS COVER $9.99

I think I may have written something for this. I'll check and write it up again tomorrow if I did. Who doesn't like the Colans? Gene Colan at 1960s Marvel was like the guy for whom they rewrite a major part in a TV show even though he's severely off-type. His style was that powerful. Adam Austin 4-Ever.

JUL083601 TERRY MOORES ECHO #6 $3.50
JUL083591 GLAMOURPUSS #3 $3.00
Terry! Dave!

MAY084041 KOLCHAK TALES NIGHT STALKER O/T LIVING DEAD #3 (OF 3) $3.99
I watched that TV show with Stuart Townsend hoping that Bruce Campbell would show up in a seersucker suit driving an old car, beat the crap out of the pretty Kolchak, and take over the program. Never happened. I always liked the original Kolchak because he wore the same clothes all the time and he was always killing people and then telling the police it was a monster. That never works for anyone except Kolchak.

JUN084477 ROUGH GUIDE TO GRAPHIC NOVELS LTD HC $35.00
JUN084476 ROUGH GUIDE TO GRAPHIC NOVELS SC $18.99

This is Danny Fingerorth's guide to the graphic novel movement.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back and probably a bit high, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock.

If I didn't list your new comic, I blame a politics of personality over substance.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Read: Matthias Wivel at Metabunker on the Zapiro/Zuma Controversy

This is as solid a thinkpiece as I've read on the controversy surrounding an extremely strong cartoon created by Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro about ANC leader Jacob Zuma. He even manages to explain why Zapiro always draws Zuma with a shower head attached to his skull, which I always forget to do.

 
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Clear Blue Water Ends Its Print Syndication Run; Will Resurface On-Line

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Dave Astor at E&P notes that Karen Montague-Reyes' Clear Blue Water will end its print syndication relationship with Universal on September 28 and that the cartoonist will continue the feature as a webcomic.

While there are a few webcomics that have gone into print and then back into being a webcomic, I think this is the first to go from print into an on-line iteration since Michael Jantze moved The Norm on-line in 2005. Montague-Reyes' multi-ethnic strip has been syndicated since 2004. The decision to end the relationship was the syndicate's, which nearly always indicates low sales.
 
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More On August 2008 DM Figures

* a few of this site's readers and now the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com point out something I should have caught initially: that IDW moved past Image into the #4 market share slot. That's fascinating if you're a longtime industry watcher, as Image isn't exactly a weak sister right now. IDW is poised to have a good Fall as well with those presidential comic books coming out extremely soon.

* the writer Sean T. Collins wrote in to object -- slightly -- to my noting that the DC event tie-ins to Final Crisis could be said to have performed better than Marvel's Secret Invasion tie-ins by noting that the company's approach tie-ins different:
I was struck by this claim in ICv2's analysis/overview (I can never remember which is which), but it really depends on what you're classifying as tie-ins. The primary Secret Invasion tie-ins, in terms of telling the most important related stories, are the ongoing Mighty Avengers and New Avengers series, both of which outperformed any of DC's Final Crisis-related titles. While DC's "colon" tie-ins (as you so memorably dubbed them) did in fact out-perform Marvel's, this isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. In recent years, the most consequential tie-ins for Marvel events have been in the relevant characters' main, ongoing series (a la the two Avengers books), while the colon-titled miniseries created specifically for the event tend to be inconsequential cash-grabs and are generally recognized as such (the idea being that if it really mattered, it'd happen within Uncanny X-Men or Thor themselves). DC's colon titles, on the other hand, are supposed to be where it's at -- particularly for Final Crisis, whose colon tie-ins are almost all status-quo-altering books by the company's biggest writers (Morrison, Johns, Rucka, Meltzer). Seen in that light, it's not surprising that Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds outsold Secret Invasion: X-Men -- indeed, I'd imagine both companies expected it to shake down that way.
That all sounds sensible to me. When it comes to figuring out how mainstream comics work, I'm more of a guy walking through the desert with a stick in the shape of a "Y" than a prophet leading anyone to truth.
 
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More On Recent AAEC Elections

In addition to the new board taking over at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, the group has released the members of the new leadership in their entirety. The AAEC keeps its immediate past president on the board and has its president-elect assume a leadership position before moving into the presidency, which seems to me an eminently sensible idea.

imageHere are the people to blame for everything good and bad that happens to editorial cartoonists for the next 12 months:

President: Ted Rall, Universal Press Syndicate
President-Elect: Rex Babin, Sacramento Bee
Vice President: Steve Kelley, Times-Picayune
Secretary-Treasuer: V. Cullum Rogers, The Independent Weekly

Directors: John Branch, San Antonio Express-News; Jeff Parker, Florida Today; Mikhaela Reid, Metro Times.

Ted Rall has released a state-of-the-industry essay, which you can find here.
 
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Go, Look: Matt Thorn Writes On The Adventures Of Little Sho

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Go, Look: Marc Dekter Challenge

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OTBP: You Ain't No Dancer, Vol. 3

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Go, Look: McCain: The Mavericking Maverick Mavericks More

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* did you see the 2008 Ignatz nominees that were released mid-afternoon yesterday?

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com writes a bit more about Marvel's plan to do on-line titles featuring some of its more popular, film-friendly characters. It's one of those stories that could come and go without causing a ripple, but it's also something that if it hits or if it leads to an effort that hits could be important in terms of the move publishers will likely have to make in terms of on-line content over the next half-decade.

* go here for a longish essay by DD Guttenplan -- whom I think may have been Luke Cage's film-making buddy in the 1970s Hero For Hire series -- about the comics medium in general and the work of David Hajdu and Douglas Wolk on comics in particular. Guttenplan makes a funny joke about Wolk's apparent (to him) desire to be comics' Pauline Kael, although when people always look for precursors to today's critical writers about comics I always wonder if they pass over people like Carter Scholz, R. Fiore and Donald Phelps because of the relative obscurity of their platforms rather than the content and character of their writing. (thanks, James Langdell)

image* especially as the book's been out for a while, I like the fact that a major mainstream-comics site will suddenly do an interview on something like Hope Larson's Chiggers. Too much comics coverage is focused on this week's new books. Chiggers was a book that I liked just fine but wasn't necessarily aimed at me that burrowed into my brain a bit more than I expected; more to the point, I bought a copy for a young person that really, really liked it, and that's not to be taken for granted. I think there have been about three or four random books for younger readers this year that are kind of interesting in the same way Chiggers is. Anyway, I guess the news here is that Larson's about 70 pages into her next project, which at this rate and a projected size of 240 pages might put it into the first half of 2010 or so.

* hey, this is nice. I think the thing a lot of people appreciate about Nickelodeon's comics efforts is that they don't automatically equate doing comics for kids with trendy approaches and styles as much as funny, effective ones.

* not comics: more Spider-Man movies. I would imagine that the problem with Spider-Man movies is that as the series of films progresses you have to build the second half of a character arc where the comics haven't because comics always need to retain that classic formula. So you have nothing to guide you and the audience conditioned to see the character as open-ended will resist whatever it is you do. Or maybe not. More likely it's just really hard to hit that sweet spot that gives you an entertaining, widely appealing Spider-Man movie rather than a tired, goofy one and that this becomes more difficult with every film.

* finally, the publisher and occasional cartoonist Chris Oliveros weighs in with a photo-driven post on Drawn and Quarterly's presence at the Brooklyn Book Festival and a visit to RO Blechman's studio. I think I would have been totally floored and freaked out by Moomin when I was a single-digit aged youngster, too.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Carlos Sampayo!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Roger Stern!

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Quick hits
Craft
On Political Art If Senator Obama Wins

Exhibits/Events
Harveys Tickets On Sale
New York Anime Festival Is Totally Awesome

Industry
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoon
Rubes In 400 Papers
It's Tough To Be A Retailer

Interviews/Profiles
I Feel Old
Wired: Rick Geary
Style Weekly: David Hajdu
Louisville Courier Journal: Danica Novgorodoff

Publishing
On PopGun
This Week's Comics
The Shat Is Doing Comics
Political Comics = Potential Killing
I Have No Idea Why I Bookmarked This

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Air #1
Paul O'Brien: Various
Josh Frankel: Slam Dunk
John Mitchell: Slow Storm
Paul O'Brien: X-Factor #34
David Ulin: American Widow
John Mitchell: Scrambled Ink
Paul O'Brien: Young X-Men #5
Steve Duin: Comic Book Tattoo
Paul O'Brien: X-Factor: Layla Miller
Adam Klin Oron: Mr. Monster: His Books of Forbidden Knowledge Vol. 1
 

 
September 16, 2008


Terry & Robyn Moore, Safe In Houston

From Charles Brownstein:
Dear Blog Friend,

The Moores asked me to help them out by spreading a message, so hopefully you can help disseminate:

As you may be aware, the Abstract Studios team, Terry & Robyn Moore, live in Houston where they are set back slightly by Hurricane Ike. They personally are fine, but don't have any utilities, including electricity and other business necessities. They're only able to be online for about 10 minutes a day because of very nice neighbors. They want people to know that they're going to be out of touch for about a week, and ask that you please be patient while they get back up to speed. Please join me in keeping them in your thoughts.
Charles Brownstein is the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

* a new magazine, SuccoAcido, launches promising articles in a variety of languages and from a variety of countries.

image* the much-lauded writer/artist team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips will debut their creator-owned Incognito in December, from Marvel's Icon imprint. Called "a twisted mash-up of noir and super-heroics" in the solicitation copy, Incognito likely recalls the Brubaker/Phillips team name-making effort Sleeper more than it does the straight-up crime book Criminal, although the book looks to be in the same, extras-stuffed format of the latter title.

There's a nice-looking cover and a couple of pages with the announcement that I'm running here so you can see them at actual full size rather than crammed in here. I enjoyed Sleeper, and I enjoy Criminal, so I'm looking forward to this.

* great news for magazine cartooning fans: Fantagraphics will be doing a giant, fancy, slipcased Gahan Wilson collection, due October 2009. That's great news for fans of cartooning, period.

* finally, Tom Crippen has joined Noah Berlatsky at the blog Hooded Utilitarian. A long-time writer about comics, Crippen is probably best known as the author of the Comics Journal's current superhero column. As for Berlatsky, the writer debuts a new column here.
 
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Your 2008 Ignatz Award Nominees

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The 2008 Ignatz Award nominees have been announced. They will be given out during a ceremony October 4 at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. The Ignatzes are a juried-nomination award celebrating creator-driven work of the type that exhibits at the Expo.

The jury this year was Gabrielle Bell, Farel Dalrymple, Eleanor Davis, John Hankiewicz and Andy Hartzell. Bell also received a nomination.

*****

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Outstanding Artist
* Warren Craghead, How to Be Everywhere (self-published)
* Lat, Town Boy (First Second Books)
* Jillian Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)
* Laura Park, Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream (self-published)
* Michel Rabagliati, Paul Goes Fishing (Drawn & Quarterly)

*****

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Outstanding Anthology or Collection
* Inkweed, Chris Wright (Sparkplug Comic Books)
* Little Lulu Vol. 18, John Stanley (Dark Horse)
* Papercutter #7, edited by Greg Means (Tugboat Press)
* Pond Life, John Broadley (PictureBox)
* Windy Corner #2, edited by Austin English (Sparkplug Comic Books)

*****

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Outstanding Graphic Novel
* The Hot Breath of War, Trevor Alixopulos (Sparkplug Comic Books)
* Notes for a War Story, Gipi (First Second Books)
* Paul Goes Fishing, Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)
* Spent, Joe Matt (Drawn & Quarterly)

*****

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Outstanding Story
* "Americus", MK Reed and Jonathan Hill, Papercutter #7 (Tugboat Press)
* "The Candy Rod", Onsmith, Hotwire Comics #2 (Fantagraphics Books)
* "The Galactic Funnels", Dash Shaw, Mome #11 (Fantagraphics Books)
* The Thing About Madeleine, Lilli Carre (self-published)
* "The Urn", Chris Wright, Inkweed (Sparkplug Comic Books)

*****

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Promising New Talent
* Oliver East, Trains Are... Mint (Blank Slate)
* Austin English, Windy Corner #2 (Sparkplug Comic Books)
* Chuck Forsman, Snake Oil #1 (self-published)
* Sarah Glidden, How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (self-published)
* Lars Martinson, Tonoharu (Pliant Press/Top Shelf Productions)

*****

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Outstanding Series
* Eye of the Magnetic Creature, Leslie Stein (self-published)
* Injury, Ted May, Jason Robards, and Jeff Wilson (Buenaventura Press)
* Paul series, Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Reich, Elijah Brubaker (Sparkplug Comic Books)
* Snake Oil, Chuck Forsman (self-published)

*****

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Outstanding Comic
* Cryptic Wit #2, Gerald Jablonski (self-published)
* Department of Art, Dunya Jankovic (self-published)
* Lucky Vol. 2 #2, Gabrielle Bell (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Palooka-ville #19, Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Snake Oil #1, Chuck Forsman (self-published)

*****

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Outstanding Mini-Comic
* Bluefuzz, Jesse Reklaw
* Dorado Park, Lilli Carre
* How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, Sarah Glidden
* Ochre Eclipse #2, Jonas Madden-Connor
* Swell, Juliacks

*****

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Outstanding Online Comic
* Achewood, Chris Onstad
* Danny Dutch, David King
* Slow Wave, Jesse Reklaw
* Thingpart, Joe Sayers
* Traced, Tracy White

*****
*****
 
posted 6:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
More on Zapiro/Zuma Cartoon Battle

More on the Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro "rape of justice" cartoon, its target Jacob Zuma and the controversy surrounding both:

* the latest Zapiro cartoon criticizing the judicial treatment of Jacob Zuma is explained here.

* a speech by Jacob Zuma extolling the virtues of a free press have led some to speculate he may not take new legal action against Zapiro.

* commentary blog and columnists are having a field day with the issues raised.
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Chester

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Peter Birkemoe sent this note as an update: "Our original mailing contained an error. He is running for Member of Parliament, not Member of Provincial Parliament. MP, not MPP. There is an upcoming Federal Election, but there is no upcoming Provincial Election." Man, politics is confusing.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
August 2008 DM Sales Estimates

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The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com offers their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for August 2008.

* Overview
* Analysis
* Top 300 Comic Books
* Top 100 Graphic Novels

We'll link to an update from John Jackson Miller's Comics Chronicles right below here if they ever make one available:

* Comic Book Sales Estimates
* Comics Shop Sales Market Share

Dominating all talk about this month's sales now and in the future will likely be the performance of the Watchmen trade in the full flush of interest generated by its movie trailer. If memory serves, the ICv2.com estimates for the two-decade-old graphic novel -- 43,393 -- are about four to five times what a top-selling trade might sell in a typical month through those channels. Stunning.

However, the seven months of declining sales figures noted by the site may be a bigger story just in terms of its implications. Month seven is a bit more alarming than month one in that you can't really compare August 2007 favorably to August 2008 in terms of what event comics were out the way you can the two earlier sales months this year and last. In other words, you can't immediately eyeball the cause for the decline. Periodical sales are a unique offering of the Direct Market of comics and hobby shops, so any decline in those figures over time would be of great concern. In terms of the ongoing story of Marvel dominance over DC in periodical sales, it seems like the two top DC books had a good month, the top 20 stayed about the same, the DC event tie-ins may have performed proportionally better than Marvel's and the weekly Trinity continues its rubber toy thrown against the wall slow tumble.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Read: On Drawing The Veeps

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Not Comics: New Graham Annable


 
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Go, Read: More San Diego History

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Go, Look: Gahan Wilson Gallery

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Missed It: Top Ten Ways Spider-Man J Is Better Than Spider-Man A

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* media giant Gannett reports newspaper ad avenue was off 16.8 percent in August with what looks like further degradation of classifieds revenue. Craigslist may destroy comics!

image* this may be slightly older or brand new, I can't tell. It sure is good-looking: Farel Dalrymple's Percevil.

* love/hate 01: I liked this manga news story about a library defending its Boys Love collection as much as I disliked this piece of goofy invective that manages to hit all the usual culture war buttons with its simple, meaty paw.

* love/hate 02: I liked this editorial by Brian Hibbs pointing out that the way retailers have exploited the situation surrounding a recent Batman naughty word recall pretty much screams "You can't trust me with street dates, ever!" as much as I disliked this Joe Quesada mini-speech in the middle of a social interaction site interview about Robert Kirkman's exhortation for creators to make creator-owned comic books. I'm not sure I'd want to go to nerd court and defend every word of Kirkman's speech, but the general point that comics could and should be a friendlier, more profitable place for creators to create isn't a threat to mainstream comics but merely a challenge to the worst excesses of the industry that's been shaped around it.

* not comics: I didn't know this was getting an American release.

* finally, someone not working at Motley Fool (I think) enthuses about the potential for long-term, media company success at Marvel.
 
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Happy 31st Birthday, Amanda Fisher!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Kurt Busiek!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Mike Mignola!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Seth!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Scott McCloud
Vintage UK Art On Display
Toon Books Signing Report
Why Can't CCI Be More Like PAX?
Craig Thompson Readying Giant Installation
Seriously, Craig Thompson Readying Giant Installation

History
The Graphic Novel Tradition

Industry
On WFH Comics
Best Headline Ever
The Comics In Oregon
Rochester Comic Book Shop Closes

Interviews/Profiles
LAT: Eric Powell
Arthur: Alan Moore
Pulse: Mark Schultz
CBR: Alex Robinson
FPI Blog: Jason Lutes
Pulse: Ross Campbell
The Sound of Young America: Adrian Tomine

Not Comics
Kaz Won An Emmy
That's Fairly Adorable
Nerds Rally Behind Potential PM
Nice Bruce Jay Friedman Review
Zak Sally on David Foster Wallace
TV Star Carries Small Pile of Comic Books

Publishing
Alan's War Previewed
Folks Love Eddie Campbell
That's A Great Name For A Strip
Former Editor: Beano, Dandy = Too PC
Sandra Bell-Lundy Tackles Spousal Abuse

Reviews
Jog: The Boys
Dorian Wright: Manly
Bill Sherman: Various
Aaron Fleming: Ocean
Chris Mautner: Typhon
Steve Duin: I Kill Giants
Don MacPherson: Various
Ed Sizemore: Faust Vol. 1
Richard Bruton: Temptation
Cory Doctorow: DMZ Vol. 5
Geoff Boucher: The Alcoholic
Paul Gravett: American Widow
Bryan Young: Moon Knight #22
Dave Sim: Strange and Stranger
Michael Lindsay: Marvel Apes #2
Noah Berlatsky: Stuck In The Middle
Richard Bruton: Yesterday's Tomorrows
Michael Lindsay: Incredible Hercules #​121
Jon Hastings: You Can't Get There From Here
 

 
September 15, 2008


Merrill Lynch Selling to Bank of America

All eyes are on the New York financial market as major players Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch undergo company-altering upheaval. Merrill Lynch is worth mentioning here because of their role in financing the new Marvel Entertainment movies. At least I swear they're with Merrill Lynch. I don't know that there's anything to say about that at this point that isn't gassy and speculative, but it probably should be noted.

You can see related, short, not-comics, historical films here and here.
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Zapiro Vs. Zuma Controversy Throws Spotlight On Speech Legislation

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The political and journalistic reaction to a cartoon by Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro depicting various South African political entities holding down the justice system to be raped by ANC political leader Jacob Zuma -- an earlier strip with the same visuals as the one shown above -- has reached the opinion-article stage in most cases, particularly in light of Zuma's very good week politically in having groups rally to his support, the fact that some have criticized Zapiro's use of rape as a political metaphor, and Zuma being absolved of his latest round of legal troubles. However, some issues are just now being brought to light. An article by Frans Conje suggests that legislation designed to combat child pornography could actually have a huge impact on the type of free expression used by Zapiro in having work like his Zuma cartoon published. It's a story worth watching for its effect on the prominent international cartoonist and for its mirror in various attempts in the United States to pass anti-child porn legislation with a chilling or outright harmful effect on political speech.

Also, it's hard to track, but it looks like Zapiro has been having a creative field day with the original image and the resulting furor, including the strip above riffing on the original and this cartoon more explicitly and obviously engaging the issue. Considering the heat accompanying the way this has been made a political issue and what I would agree really does look like manufactured outrage on the part of those originally tagged by Zapiro, it's awesome to see an artist hold his ground with equally adamant fury. One thing that always kills me about media criticism of this kind is that the issues become equivalent when, to take this case as the example, if one side is right the judicial system has been assaulted, and if the other side is right somebody may have made a bad cartoon.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Sergio Toppi Interview

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part one, part two, part three
 
posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
In Case You Missed It: New Michael George Trial To Start December 2

In a late Friday decision that was surprising to many even with the families of both convicted and murdered assembling in a Michigan courtroom, the prominent retailer and convention organzier Michael George had his March conviction on various charges including murder and June sentencing of life in prison set aside in favor of a new trial by the man presiding over the first, highly-publicized court proceedings, Macomb County Circuit Court Judge James Biernat. George was convicted for crimes surrounding the 1990 killing of his then-wife Barbara in their comic book store in Michigan. The decision to re-try George is based on the judge's appraisal of prosecutorial conduct during the case, and whether or not this would have affected his own decision had this been a bench rather than a jury trial. It seems from a distance to this observer as much an indictment of prosecutorial actions such as a lost file that may have indicated a criminal suspect in the area at the same time as it is an appraisal of the circumstantial case made against George in the first trial.

The Michael George case was watched closely in the comics community because of George's role as a successful retailer and organizer for a once-popular Pittsburgh show. It was also bad publicity for a profession that had recently suffered another, similar conviction in the UK when former retailer and on-line comics broker Ronald Castree was tried and found guilty in the 1975 Lesley Molseed murder. It was also watched closely for the cold case nature of the trial, and it's safe to say certain lurid or outsized aspects of the murder such as the comic shop setting, the to-the-head gunshot cause of death, a financial motivation and reported affairs by George also drew interest.

I thought this was a nice article: an interview with one of the jurors. That person sounds not happy.

The new George trial gets underway December 2.
 
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Go, Read: Steven Grant Presents

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Go, Look: Slow Storm's Danica Navgorodoff Guests at Partyka

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Go, Look: Four From Barnacle Press

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Ted Rall moves from president-elect to president of the AAEC.

* potentially troubled, for-sale syndicate Tribune Media Services has launched its on-line catalog.

image* go here for Jessica Palmieri's photos from the weekend's Kim Deitch exhibit opening in New York.

* not comics: goofing around on the Internet early in the morning led me to this April 2008 article about the state of criticism.

* major line-up changes have been announced at the San Francisco Chronicle, which to my memory has a very positive pro-comics reputation. The state of newspapers being what it is, they've previously made public that they're moving to four pages from six pages on their Sunday line-up. Gone: Mister Boffo, The Fusco Brothers, Brevity, Tokyopop's revolving offering and Sherman's Lagoon. Dilbert moves to the business section. The paper will add Candorville.

* there haven't been a lot of Kevin Huizenga interviews yet, so this one at du9 seems worth noting.

* people keep sending me this.

* if your Internet-Fu is such you can avoid the teeth-grinding inconvenience of having a radio program pop up and start talking if you want it to or not, you might want to get a reminder for Clay Bennett's Mr. Media interview. That should be a good one.

* finally, the official word is that there is no official word about Berkeley Breathed ending his Opus. The content of recent strips and some circumstantial evidence have led some to believe this may be coming to pass. Personally, I like the fact that the strip is around, although I know some readers are down on it and a few editors may even bear a grudge against the Sunday-only feature based on I think it initially being presented as a savior for the Sunday funnies due to Breathed's considerable and well-earned 1980s-era popularity. Any talented cartoonist willing to do new work for the comics page should be welcome no matter how the result matches expectations. Besides, 200 or so clients in this market (I think that's the number) is nothing to sneeze at. I think it speaks well of Breathed's creative integrity that Opus seems to have worked with audiences at times and not worked at all other times, as opposed to his providing something middle-of-the-road and assured that might please the broadest audience in the most general ways on more days of the year. In other words, I hope Opus sticks around as long as he wants to do it, and not a second less or more. Dave Astor engages the subject here.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Peter Poplaski!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Carol Lay!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Scott Dunbier!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
On Exhibiting Mary Blair
Morgantown Con Report
Smurfs Invade Lausanne
Vancouver Krazy Show Reviewed

History
He Went Pogo
Remembering Dirk West
Remembering Kris Kovick

Industry
Comics Shop Closing
Daddy's Home In Jersey
John Benson Is Screwed
Pastis Invades Berkshires
More Ad Revenue Misery For Newspapers

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Dan Nadel
Times: Gerald Scarfe
InkStuds: Dash Shaw
Pulse: Team Bluesman
Newsarama: Alissa Torres
Asian Journal: Rod Espinosa

Not Comics
Nagi Noda, RIP
Appreciating Hellboy 2
David Foster Wallace, RIP
Film Festival Remembers Tezuka

Publishing
Tom Toles Slams Media

Reviews
Marc Mason: Veeps
R. Sukumar: Oldboy
Brad Curran: Various
Bill Sherman: Various
Aaron Fleming: Ocean
Cari Boatwright: Various
Cory Doctorow: Seaweed
Craig Fischer: Planetary #10
Richard Krauss: Chaotique #1
Lisa Katayama: Tokyo Zombie
Andrew Wheeler: Scrambled Ink
Abhay Khosla: Secret Invasion #6
Byron Kerman: The New York Four
Sean T. Collins: Bottomless Belly Button
Jesse Schedeen: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Greg McElhatton: Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever
 

 
September 14, 2008


CR Sunday Interview: Scott McCloud

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*****

I read the comics that make up the new collection Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 when I was a college student, much older than the 'tween and early teen that seems perfectly suited to the manga-influenced tale of Jenny Weaver and her superhero friend from another Earth. Instead, I was a terribly confused young man, who, like many others at that age, wanted to regress to my own 13-year-old days and those concerns and all the feelings rampant in those first, true, out-of-family friendships. I probably fell a little bit harder for the title than I should have, and when I talk below about fans that seem to like Zot! more than creator Scott McCloud seems to, I'm to be counted among their number.

imageGiven the major crush of news that came with McCloud's recent making of a comic to introduce Google's Chrome browser, a Scott McCloud interview devoted to the new Zot! book and general industry talk is a bit like an interview with Sarah Palin limited to the summer of 2008 in Alaskan politics. I hope you'll indulge me as much as Scott does in our conversation below.

Zot! remains interesting to me now that I'm no longer a young man and only a little bit confused because I think it may be one of best works out there in any medium when it comes to capturing the quality of lives lived by bored 1970/1980s suburban teens and exploring the way those kids turned to fantasy as a coping mechanism. It is also of great interest as an historical document within comics: McCloud's use of manga storytelling tropes, for example, feels prescient considering their present-day ubiquity; similarly, the medium now sports an entire library shelf of work aimed at a young audience in a way that makes McCloud's first series less of the total odd man out it once was when it comes to finding readers able to process all that it's trying to do.

I always enjoy talking to Scott, and I laughed several times during the interview below.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: You just got back from the East Coast, right? You did some appearances on behalf of the book.

SCOTT McCLOUD: Harper had me doing three events in New York and, of course, I'm always promoting at talks and whatnot around the country.

imageSPURGEON: Was being out for this book any different than being out for the kinds of books you've been doing more recently?

McCLOUD: [laughs] It was different than Making Comics... I didn't have to do it for an entire year! [laughter]

SPURGEON: Do people make that connection between the kind of work that you do now and the older work, or did you see people that have only kind of latched onto this work?

McCLOUD: It's very unpredictable. Most of my fans are pretty eclectic: they have a broad understanding of the many things I've done. But then you have these little pockets of people who only know me for Zot! and are dimly aware that I've gone on to do some kind of book afterwards.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Right.

McCLOUD: And then there are others who are surprised that I had ever done any kind of fiction. Then there are those that know me only for the web stuff. It's interesting seeing that Balkanization.

I remember a talk we did during the tour at Auburn University in this well-appointed room at their big library. It felt as if every single person in this room knew me as a different person. It was like all the McCloud tribes had converged into some great summit.

SPURGEON: Were there any technical difficulties in getting this work together? Or were all of those problems overcome with the Kitchen Sink editions?

McCLOUD: There was a gargantuan technical challenge for me, in that I only had Photostats of some pages, originals of some pages and neither of some pages, which meant I had to resort to the printed copies.

SPURGEON: Wow.

McCLOUD: First of all, the challenge was scanning them in and making sure they were all the same size. Then, because I'm picky, I also had to equalize the line weights in Photoshop. I would make a pretty complex series of adjustments and often hand-tooled fixes to make sure that the pages looked more or less that they came from the same source. This involved sometimes applying filters to the lettering separately from the lines. It was a pretty gargantuan job.

SPURGEON: How long a job was it?

McCLOUD: That part of it took up a good six weeks of continuous work.

SPURGEON: Oh my goodness.

McCLOUD: But it was worth it. It looks pretty. And now when I look at it I don't want to throw it against the wall like I do with some of my books.

SPURGEON: Is it nice in general just to have this work in one place, to be able to point at a book and say, "That's where it is"?

McCLOUD: I love it. I think I'm just obsessive-compulsive enough that having things in scattered places eats away at me. Having it in this one singular package is very gratifying both to my practical side and to my psychoses.

SPURGEON: [laughs]

McCLOUD: The fact that it's a very attractive package helps. I like the size of it. Like Frank Miller, I think that comics are too damn skinny. The trim size that became the standard in the industry, it's just a little too narrow. It doesn't feel right. So I had the opportunity to make it a bit squarer and slightly smaller, because I think it handles better at that size.

I was particularly fond of the cover we ended up with. I had a more conventional cover that had that same illustration, but it was in the middle and the logo was at the top and I had this more muddled green and gold scheme. My editor at Harper, Hope Innelli, very late in the process asked if she could just take one last crack at this vague idea she had in her head. She came up with a black, white and silver design with the logo and illustration switched. I knew almost instantly that it was infinitely superior to what I had come up with. [laughs] I said, "Yes, let's go with it."

I was really grateful to them, because it was clear that if I had said no that would have been the end of it. It was just so beautiful. Every time I look at it, it just makes me smile.

imageSPURGEON: The thing that pops out at me about that cover is the dates: 1987 to 1991. [McCloud laughs] Understanding Comics came out two years later, in '93, right?

McCLOUD: Exactly.

SPURGEON: You were a machine, Scott! From like '87 to '93 you were a page-producing machine! [McCloud laughs]

McCLOUD: Maybe on some levels, but really I had a lot of deadline troubles during that time.

SPURGEON: I guess when I see all that work in one place it looks like a lot of comics but according to the standards of the time, you were one of the irregular guys.

McCLOUD: Exactly. The ultimate example being the infamous Zot! Month when Eclipse had planned several things around Zot! and none of them came out during Zot! month. [Spurgeon laughs] It was the most terrifyingly embarrassing thing that ever happened to me as a pro.

SPURGEON: Is there anything to be said for working in that fashion even though you felt behind most of the time?

McCLOUD: I think the biggest difference was that there was this disjuncture between my potential and my delivery. There was this scraping, this friction, and you could see it in the panels where it looked like I was asleep at the wheel. You could see that parabola of panic that I think most cartoonists are familiar with, where you begin at a pace where you have to do a page every two days, and then gradually it becomes a page a day, then two pages a day then three pages a day.

As a result, it was just uneven. Some of the worst, most offensively incompetent faces and figures came out of those panic periods. When I began Understanding Comics, and especially in my later projects like Making Comics, I became much better at estimating how much time it would take. It helped that the advances I was getting were enough to cover our living expenses while I was working. I became pretty punctual. Understanding I think I went slightly over. But with projects like Making Comics, I was delivering on time.

The amazing part is, through careful management of caffeine, and incredibly long work hours, my productivity curve was almost flat. I would begin with a little more than a day per page, and I would end with a little more than a page per day. That to me was extraordinary. And I was getting enough sleep every night. And my productivity didn't dip at 3:00 pm because that's when I would have a Dr. Pepper. I had figured it out. I'm much more efficient these days.

SPURGEON: I wonder if anyone's ever looked at the dysfunctional nature of deadlines and the nature of productivity and what that's done to artists over the years. You get the sense even with some mainstream artists that there are talented people that kind of rattled and fell out of the industry because they couldn't ride that wave for more than a couple of years.

McCLOUD: Many relish the late-night, 3:00 AM panic, because that can produce a feeling of near-euphoria. What I found seemed to work much better was marathon-and-rest, basically. Take a year of seven days a week, 11 hours a day, but then rest for a time. It's tough on the family, but then when I'm done, there's some relief. Then, when I go back into marathon mode, I go back with a great deal of energy and even a certain degree of joy. I find myself loving to sit down at 8:00 AM each day. To sit down in front of that screen and work. I love the process, and I don't feel tired.

SPURGEON: I recently wrote a short essay about this book where I talked about how I saw an emotional underpinning to Zot! and I was confused because the introductory material in this volume didn't unpack or explain this, I guess according to my demands as a reader this be done. [McCloud laughs] I think you nailed a kind of longing and boredom that kids have, and you've said since that perhaps this was something that you drew on from friends and their situations. It wasn't something from your own personal experiences, necessarily.

McCLOUD: In your review the overarching question is how much of this was scooped right out of my own emotional experience and how much did I have to extrapolate? If you think about it, we're in grade school, most of us, for about 12 years. And over the course of 12 years, virtually anybody is probably going to accumulate enough genuine anguish. If you had one really bad day, you can probably do a reasonably good job -- provided you can remember the texture of that day -- of extrapolating to someone else's really bad childhood.

I would have to rate my childhood as maybe a 7. It was reasonably happy. In elementary school I belonged to an advanced program so in class, I was surrounded by kids that if anything were smarter than me. On the playground, though, I did get bullied. I guess we all did. [laughs] All the kids in the AP program probably got bullied. So I knew what it was like to really, genuinely have my ass kicked. I was kicked in the balls at one point by this kid that was supposed to be some kind of hall monitor. I was kind of terrorized here and there. For the most part, though, it wasn't too bad.

In Junior high, I was still being a nerd with my pals like Kurt Busiek, but I also learned to disappear. I learned the art of gaming the system so as to seem ordinary. In high school, because we lived in a really smart town, I wound up falling in with the nerd core, which was kind of huge. There were enough children of engineers and scientists and newscaster and politicians and journalists and professors that we had an entire cafeteria filled with nerds. So that was really liberating. I kind of portray that a little in Zot! also.

Of all of the things that I portray, all of the real serious problems that people have, the only one that I didn't experience first hand at all was the pain of parental discord. My parents got along pretty well. If they fought, they were good at hiding it. So the potential divorce that's sort of at the center of Jenny's world, and the real dysfunctional parents that a few of my characters have, those I did have to look to my friends for.

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SPURGEON: Was there any desire on your part to deal with the question of how kids escape, how kids negotiate those harsh times through the kinds of fantasies represented by Zot and his world?

McCLOUD: I think on one level I was a bit cold in my approach to that theme. I was working on a detached level of thinking. "Well, this is what the story demands. These are my themes. Let's see if I can work with various themes and variations on that." I was trying to conceive of these things as a writer. "What would a writer do here?" [laughter] So I wasn't as emotionally invested in it.

I've always been fairly agnostic on the question of escapism. I saw escapism as a valid option. At the same time I was wrestling with the validity of escapism in my own writing. I saw all these non-genre comics outside my window and wondered if I was on the wrong train. [laughs] As a kid who early in college was reading RAW, I secretly feared that by its nature my mission was doomed to be a little bit more trivial.

It's helped, as a parent, to be in a family of nerds. My wife and my two girls are total fangirls. I've seen what a great experience it is to just bask in the warm glow of escapist entertainment. Buffy and whatnot. So I've sort of forgiven my previous self. But I think I do still want to try and play in that other arena. Does that make sense?

SPURGEON: Sure. To poke you a little further, it's clear there are people with a great deal of affection for this series. It's not just about escapism; it functions as escapist literature for some of those people. There are fans of this work that are more into it than you are.

McCLOUD: [laughs] Yeah, you were very astute in making that observation a while back.

SPURGEON: Did you mean for the work to be taken that way? You have these mixed feelings towards escapism, but you created this work that's a very powerful piece of escapism.

McCLOUD: I wanted it to be. But it's an escapism comic by the guy who was going to write Understanding Comics. I was trying to figure out what kind of rocket fuel would drive this thing. I wanted it to be a very effective form of escapism. But I was doing it through the manipulation of certain archetypes, storytelling tropes, and the effect of certain drawing styles. I was a scientist. The scientist in me had this storyteller chained up in the basement. [laughs] I was making what use I could of my intuitive storytelling persona to harness that stuff. That was the real fuel: the less scientific more emotional side of myself -- but the formalist was still driving the bus in a lot of ways.

SPURGEON: Now, certainly the experience your kids are having is very different than the one you and Kurt lived through when you were kids.

McCLOUD: Yeah.

SPURGEON: Did you get any sense when working with this material again how much of it was of a time? For instance, you also mentioned that there was some nuclear dread informing parts of it. That might not be as much of a factor now.

McCLOUD: I don't think that the nuclear dread part necessarily dates it. Now that we have the book all in one place and I can look at it from enough emotional altitude, I have to say I feel as if it's less dated than other things of the era. I think I tried very hard at the time to create work that would last. I think I was maybe aware more than my peers as to aspects of what we were doing that were tied to our time. I was trying to steer clear of those.

SPURGEON: Is there an example of that that pops into your head? Especially if it ends up with you insulting someone else's work. [McCloud laughs] I'd like that a lot.

McCLOUD: I wish I could do you that favor. [Spurgeon laughs] If you look at the other titles that could be most closely associated with me of that era, the ground-level middlebrow alternative superhero variant type titles, many of them were about genre. If there's one through-line in what I've been doing all along it is I actually don't give a fuck about genre. I can enjoy something that plays with genre, but almost everything I've ever really valued stands outside of any given genre. I look at my favorite movies, like Run Lola Run or Princess Mononoke or Fight Club, and I realize they're very hard to shelve. I think Zot! at the end of the day is kind of hard to shelve. That makes me happy.

SPURGEON: Was that just you being contrary?

McCLOUD: No, it was my trying to find something earnest, something without the irony of the moment, without the winks and the nudges and the affiliations: the different ways that works of narrative call out their origins, or play on them. The way that they require that you already be in this moss patch of pre-existing genre trappings so that you can appreciate "Ooh, they went that way instead of this way."

That's such a muddled answer. I tried to create characters that were basic archetypes, or basic human thoughts. I tried to create villains that were based on ideas about the future that were fundamental, like the idea that our machines would become us or that we would become our machines. All of those things were really an attempt to create something that wouldn't be washed away when fashion changed.

SPURGEON: Two contexts that have changed for the book is that there was almost no young-adult aimed material at the time. That is a huge category now. Another difference then and now is that some of the storytelling techniques you used common to manga were not part of the visual vocabulary when Zot! was coming out but may be more prevalent now. Do you think either one of those factors changes the reading experience?

McCLOUD: History in some ways has caught up to the book. The manga techniques I was using were at the time pretty rare in American comics. Now they're more mainstream, although I'm still frustrated in that people seemed to have picked up on just the surface stuff. In terms of the young readers aspect, it's nice to think that Zot! might be a bridge book for kids that read Bone, or Baby-Sitters Club or whatever. I imagine that the superhero trappings might stop a lot of them. There are a lot of readers that never read superheroes. That go straight from Fruits Basket to... I don't know what.

SPURGEON: One reason I wonder about the work being perceived differently than it might have been then is that back then it was processed in large part in terms of how it broke with standard superhero tropes. It was a subset of superhero readers because that was almost the entire audience back then.

McCLOUD: Here I'll actually name names: if you compare it to Don Simpson's Megaton Man or Jim Valentino's normalman, both of those really worked in a way that referenced where they existed vis-a-vis what had come before. Sure you can look after the fact and say, "Okay, Zot!existed to the left of this and to the right of that, above this, below that, comparing it to Marvel or DC or American Flagg! or Nexus or whatever. But I really wasn't thinking about that. I was just cracking open Osamu Tezuka. I was trying to channel my childhood. Where it stood in relation to the other comics on the shelves at the time was more of an accident than for others working in a similar vein.

SPURGEON: Have you heard from anyone who's picked this book up brand new and read it?

McCLOUD: Random people: reviewers, people that saw me talk and bought it and wrote me a couple of days later. One of my missions with this book was to erase some of the embarrassment I felt about this material. I could go back and fix the worst parts of it. When I hear back from people, people don't just see it for its problems; they have a very balanced view of it. I haven't yet heard the complaints I thought I would. "Oh yeah, Mr. Making Comics [laughs] you can't do, so you teach." I haven't heard that.

SPURGEON: That's good.

McCLOUD: Yeah, it made me feel good. Oh, and by the way, the reason that the dates are on the cover? It's kind of ungainly, having the dates there. It's because I was terrified that somebody would think it was the thing I did right after Making Comics.

imageSPURGEON: [laughs] That's horrible. And it's horrible that I laughed. [McCloud laughs] Hey, I wanted to ask you a nerdy question that came to me while re-reading Zot! I thought that the character designs held up pretty well. That's not something you have occasion to do -- other than your narrator stand-in I don't think of your work in terms of its character design.

McCLOUD: Yeah, I haven't gotten to do that in a long time.

SPURGEON: Are you happy with the way the designs look?

McCLOUD: If you asked me in 1988 about my strengths and weaknesses, I would have said figure drawing was a weakness and character design and layout were strengths. I felt good about that stuff then. Still do. Little things like making sure the eyes are all different. I'm a big crusader against the cookie-cutter approach. Even very talented cartoonists have templates for their characters. I hated that. I wanted every character to carry their own stories on their back and be their own universes. Ensuring those differences was very important. It'd be hard to find two characters that have exactly the same eyes. With the broad characters, the villains, I was going for something where every part reflected the whole, so that they have this instant impression -- just looking at them I wanted them to have a particular effect, like they stepped out of a dream.

imageI have to give props to Paul Rivoche. When I was working on the proposal for Zot!, he was putting up those posters of Mister X. I thought Mister X looked like it was going to be an amazing book. I knew it would be out well before Zot!, so it would be okay that I was pilfering some of the design aesthetic. [laughs] I think 9-Jack-9 was partially inspired by that poster he did of Mister X, where he's sort of in the background and the glasses are reflecting the light or whatever. I actually felt bad when Mister X didn't come out until after Zot! Rivoche never even drew it.

SPURGEON: Those posters were something, though.

McCLOUD: They were. I created color posters for the proposal; I'm not sure anybody saw them. It was partially in response to that, the idea that a character's image could be just as iconic as a movie poster or a trading card.

imageSPURGEON: I want to shift gears a bit for the last few questions. You did some work on creators rights issues once upon a time, and were part of the original crew putting together the Creator's Bill of Rights. The golden goose of media rights seems to have put a lot of those issues back into play. As a result we're seeing a lot of cartoonists that don't seem to understand those concepts in a way that your generation did, or not caring, or even asserting it's no one's business if they want to sign a horrible contract. That it's their god-given right.

McCLOUD: Well, it is. I'm not sure that that part is all that different.

SPURGEON: Okay. [laughs] Do you follow these newer conversations?

McCLOUD: I'm keeping an eye as to what's going on, particularly the web ventures. Things like the Platinum deal, and what Tokyopop has done. We're obviously heading down the same road. It might be helpful to have a set of rights circulate among the communities. My feeling was that the rights in the Creator's Bill of Rights were fundamental and that each of us could choose as individuals and say, "These are the things I shouldn't be signing away at all." But it was always an opt-in thing. I didn't see anyone having the responsibility to sign onto this for the good of the community. It was a very libertarian impulse. It was waking up to this enormous amount of power in your hands, and just exercising it.

SPURGEON: Are you surprised these issues have to be re-argued? I think there was a sense 20 years ago that once these issues were brought to light they would serve as a bedrock for future discussions to build from there. They would endure.

McCLOUD: Things were actually quite stable for a while. In many respects throughout the late '90s creators rights were used as a matter of course. People expected to get their originals back. They expected to be able to use a lawyer for negotiation. They expected to have the rights of ownership and control.

You have to remember there are two crosscurrents and they go to extremes on both sides. On the one side, you have people trying to snatch up rights in the old-fashioned way. Like Tokyopop. And then you have webcomics artists making literally 40,000 comics -- and I'm not throwing this figure out to impress anyone, it's apparently true -- that are acting like 40,000 little Dave Sims. They have absolute control. They have no strings on them at all. They can put whatever they want out there. They have control over their distribution. We sure didn't. It's a lot like the evolution of Fair Use, which has become more restrictive in some corners and evaporated in others.

The conversation is far more vigorous and omnipresent than it used to be. When we did the Bill of Rights, we got the cover to the Comics Buyer's Guide the next day, and eight months later The Comics Journal wrote about it. [laughter] Compare that to something like the Platinum deal, where you had something like 700 zillion words posted on message boards and forums and sent out in e-mail in the space of a few weeks. People like Scott Kurtz were weighing in. If someone like DJ Coffman wants to take the plunge, he's doing so in an atmosphere of full disclosure.

SPURGEON: Is there a chance that the democratization of the dialogue harms the quality of that dialogue? There was something impressive about getting those issues of CBG and TCJ -- a kind of "You should pay attention to this" that doesn't exist when the argument is being shaped on a message board.

McCLOUD: The equivalent gesture in the current climate would be if three or four of the majors got together and released something together. If you, Heidi and Dirk all agreed on something, we would notice.

SPURGEON: Because the world would end. [laughter]

McCLOUD: But you know what I mean? We still have vetted sources, respected sources. The process just goes faster. The discussions devolve almost immediately into that mulch of he said/she said, endless debates that always end with someone being compared to a Nazi, but you still have ideas that remain and make a difference.

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SPURGEON: I saw you at San Diego this year; you didn't see me. You were going from one segment of the floor to another. You were in a hurry. It occurred to me you're someone that is insulated from a lot of the heave and fall of daily business in the current comics climate. You're not creating comics in a way that you want to be a writer on a TV show or expect to have three movies picked up suddenly.

McCLOUD: Probably not.

SPURGEON: Given where things seem to stand, is there anything to be said about the state of your creative profession right now? From your perspective, do you still work in a good place? Is it crass, over-commercialized, not as wide open...?

McCLOUD: I think it's a good climate with one huge exception. That sector that could previously make a living: that's beginning to erode for some creator-types. It's easy to see that this economy could slide, and that part of the industry could dry up.

SPURGEON: Wait, which market are you talking about?

McCLOUD: All of them, that's the point. [laughter]

I like that we have an economy of free and DIY and a growing market for graphic novels and an all-ages movement. Although the manga scene doesn't have an effect on too many creators here, there's that, and there's the traditional superhero realm. Diversity is healthy. When you have more diversity in the marketplace, it's healthier. When you don't, you have crossbreeding and degradation. It's hard to find another period of history in comics in North America where you've had this much diversity, maybe by a factor of three or four over the last few years. It's pretty astonishing.

The problem is that in a few years this may result in a diversity of ways to make no money. [Spurgeon laughs] To me, that's the sole danger. I have a problem seeing any other downside.

SPURGEON: It may be less diverse than the market we had in our heads.

McCLOUD: I don't know about you, Tom, but it's pretty close to the market I was dreaming about in 1988.

SPURGEON: I guess what I saw when looking from my outsider's perspective at my comics and cartooning friends at various shows this year is that we've progressed past the point where we're no longer inhaling the fumes of the promise of big-time publishers' interest, the promise of Hollywood, the promise of monetized web publishing. Instead, it's the reality of those things.

McCLOUD: Okay, I'll grant you that. I do think there's a sense of slowed momentum.

SPURGEON: I'd suggest it's maybe a "I don't have a place here" feeling. That although things are better overall, that not everyone gets to be on board. Now if this were my interview and not yours, I could go on in fascinating detail at this point.

McCLOUD: [laughs] I think this might be the first San Diego in a little while where people could look at the situation and see that some of these trends have peaked. That wasn't true last year or the year before.

SPURGEON: And if you haven't gotten on the other side yet, that could be worrisome.

McCLOUD: The tide is going back out. That can be a very frightening thing. I saw a furtive look here and there.

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SPURGEON: Another thing: I spoke to Daniel Merlin Goodbrey a while back, and I remember him as a person you were high about during your advocacy for early webcomics. It occurs to me that that realm has severely changed since then, that the dialogue back then was about the possibilities of the form, or just wrapping your mind around these new comics. Now when I talk to people, it seems the dialogue is dominated by the idea of monetization.

McCLOUD: There were a lot of creative possibilities for experimentation early on. There still are. The difference is that in 2008 no one is proposing ways for the experimental weirdos to make money. I was back then, and it failed. Right now almost all of the successful business models are built on daily or thrice-weekly gag strips. Short attention spans. Those include some extremely talented people and some great comics. The point is to have a lot of chatter around the comic. The comic as social space. It's this little centerpiece on this potpourri of appetizers and party favors that make the money: advertising, merchandising, sponsorships, t-shirt, mugs, that kind of thing. If you wanted to do the equivalent of Jimmy Corrigan on-line, or RAW... it doesn't really lend itself to that model yet.

The alternative models like subscriptions and micros were a non-starter. Guys like me failed to come up with something for long-form comics. But guys like the Penny Arcade guys or Scott Kurtz have done really well by the short form comics.

SPURGEON: You say "yet," but isn't it hard to break out of this kind of reward pattern?

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McCLOUD: We may get locked into certain models on mobile devices, but in terms of the overall web an alternate system or revenue model can still present itself. Nobody's fighting over one finite patch of ground: the ground is essentially limitless. So that doesn't worry me so much. The fact is, I don't have the answers now, so I'm going to go off and draw a graphic novel. I'll see how things look when I get back.

SPURGEON: Does having a new book out put you in a different place to create?

McCLOUD: Psychologically, it was healthy for me before I came back to fiction in a big way to get a handle on what I thought about my first attempt. I have some really mixed emotions about my work from 20 years ago and its relative worth in the scheme of things.

Having fought through those feelings and getting some perspective on them, I'm better able to move ahead, not look in the rear view mirror, not have those doubts that come with new enterprises. I can return to fiction knowing that I've learned a lot in 20 years.

*****

* cover to new collection
* McCloud-drawn McCloud icon
* Jenny Weaver as designed by McCloud
* the covers to the last black and white sequence in the Zot! comic book series
* key two-page sequence from book
* Zot! as designed by McCloud
* 9-Jack-9 as designed by McCloud
* Creator's Bill of Rights TCJ issue cover
* the interface to an on-line Zot! comic
* Uncle Max as designed by McCloud
* photo of McCloud at 2003 San Diego convention

*****

* Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991, Scott McCloud, HarperCollins, 576 pages, 9780061537271 (ISBN13); 0061537276 (ISBN10), July 2008, $24.95

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If I Were In The UK, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Missouri, I'd Go To This

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Five Link A Go Go

* go, read: Jigsaw Speaks His Piece

* go, bookmark: Spanish comics magazine

* go, watch: Hart Fisher's youtube channel

* go, read: The Funnybook Dungeon

* go, look: Steve Ditko's Chuck Norris
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Mary Fleener!

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First Thought Of The Day

Do you ever get sad when you sense something you liked once upon a time making the shift from current passion to rediscovered passion to period piece?
 
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September 13, 2008


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

September 14
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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from September 6 to September 12, 2008:

1. Convicted retailer and convention organizer Michael George will get a new trial concerning the murder of his then-wife in their Michigan comic book store.

2. Zapiro under fire for strong cartoon featuring the ANC's Jacob Zuma.

3. Maurice "Sine" Sinet has an initial hearing on anti-Semitism charges regarding an essay that led him to getting fired from Charlie Hebdo; blows it off to work on his new magazine but presents witness list and gets second hearing date in January.

Winner Of The Week
Marvel Sales, bookstore division

Loser Of The Week
Anyone that lost brain cells reading about pulped Batman comics.

Quote Of The Week
"He took control of his life with help from an equal-rights-oriented Milford point guard named Hadley V. Baxendale" -- Gil Thorp plotline summary in a Chicago Tribune article about the strip's 50th anniversary. It's not the greatest quote, but I love the name Hadley V. Baxendale.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Quality
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In The UK, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Near Isotope, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Rohnert Park, I'd Go To This

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Chris Mautner on DC Lettering The Curse Words It Blocks Out and My Internship Office (9/11/08)
* Ali T. Kokmen on Comics Is Strange (9/11/08)
* Nick Marino on Target Selling Comic Books After All (9/11/08)
* Kirsten Baldock on Submissions Opening for the 2008 Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics (PR) (9/11/08)
* Steve Jamrozik on Why There Isn't Early Shipping to DM Stores (9/9/08)
* Mark Coale on the Street Dates Question (9/9/08)
* Adam Casey on the Reality of New Comics Day (9/9/08)
* Kyle Garret On Comics For Kids (9/9/08)
* Sean T. Collins Answers All Of The Confessional Questions (9/8/08)
* Vernon Wiley on Friday's Write-Up of the new Chicago-Area Store (9/8/08)
* Brandon Graham Answers Many Of The Confessional Questions (9/8/08)
* Richard Starkings Answers All Of The Confessional Questions (9/8/08)
* Mario! Answers Many of the Confessional Questions (9/8/08)
* Paul Pope Answers All The Confessional Questions (9/8/08)
* John Vest on Comic Book Shops Then and Now (9/5/08)
* Frank Santoro on Seattle, NYT (9/5/08)
* John Vest on Journey and Comics From 20-25 Year Ago (9/2/08)
* Josue Menjivar on Jack Kirby's 91st Birthday (8/31/08)
* Vito Delsante on Kyle Baker at JHU 09/03 (PR) (8/30/08)
* Derik A Badman on the Other KE Coming Out This Fall (8/28/08)
* Fred Hembeck on Blogging Like It's 1996 (8/28/08)
* Brian Moore on the Richard Thompson Go-Looks (8/28/08)
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Mike Grell!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Gary Kwapisz!

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Michael George To Receive New Trial

Michael George, the prominent Pennsylvania comic book retailer and convention organizer convicted of the 1990 slaying of his then-wife Barbara in their Michigan comic book store, will receive a new trial. The decision was made by the presiding judge after evidence of a possibility surfaced that information about a possible alternative suspect could have been entered into evidence through the calling of that person's ex-wife; the decision counted on the judge deciding this could have made a difference were it a bench trial.

Because of the nature of that potential new evidence, it also could be argued that Judge James Biernat Sr. was in effect making through his judgment an appraisal of the nature of the conviction and its relative solidity. Some had criticized the original conviction as based mostly on circumstantial evidence.

George had been sentenced to life in prison in June.
 
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September 12, 2008


Five For Friday Special Results: The CR Readers Confessional Answers

On Friday, I asked CR Readers to "Answer One of the Questions From Five Groups Of Five Questions." Here are the results.

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1. What is your favorite stand-alone publication of the last five years?
* Ganges #1 -- Mario!
* Gemma Bovery -- Richard Starkings
* Steve Rude, Artist in Motion -- Andrew Mansell
* mourning star -- Brandon Graham
* Scorchy Smith and the art of Noel Sickles (and not because of where I work!) -- Scott Dunbier
* Gary Panter's "Jimbo in Purgatory" -- Andrei Molotiu
* Ice Haven -- Marc Sobel
* LOCAS: The Maggie and Hopey Stories -- Michael Grabowski
* This would have to be Lost Girls. I remember buying the first two issues from Kitchen Sink and wondering if it would ever get done. And when it was finally published by TopShelf, it exceeded those fifteen plus years of anticipation from the presentation and design to the story from Moore and the sheer beauty of Melinda Gebbie’s artwork, it was worth the wait. -- Chris Beckett
* Solo: Darwyn Cooke. Worth it for the Question story alone. -- Vito Delsante
* Making Comics, by Scott McCloud -- Nat Gertler

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2. What is your favorite ongoing serial comic that's published an installment in the last three months?
* Jack Staff -- Richard Starkings
* Casanova. -- James Smith
* ARMY@Love -- Ben Ostrander
* Seth's Palookaville -- Aaron Francis Dumin
* All Star Superman. -- Leif Jones
* All Star Superman by Morrison/Quietly, hands down the best. -- Paul Pope
* BPRD -- Eric Knisley
* Jason Aaron's "Scalped" -- Timothy Callahan
* The Walking Dead (and normally I hate zombie comics.) -- Paul Sloboda
* Criminal -- John Vest
* Scalped -- Johnny Bacardi
* Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 -- Russell Lissau
* The Spirit -- Rod DiManna
* delphine by richard sala -- Austin English
* Casanova - Fraction, Moon & Ba, Image Comics. -- Matthew Craig

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3. What is your favorite webcomic?
* Anders loves Maria -- J. Colussy-Estes
* Rainbow Orchid -- Richard Starkings
* http://beatonna.livejournal.com/ -- Mario!
* http://www.wetherobots.com/ -- Ryan Dunlavey
* Hands down Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery. -- Jean-Paul Jennequin
* http://www.samhiti.blogspot.com -- Paul Pope
* The Clockwork Game by Jane Irwin -- Kat Kan
* http://garfieldminusgarfield.net -- Scott Cederlund
* http://www.sinfest.net/ -- Buzz Dixon
* Narbonic -- Kristy Valenti
* http://www.dashshaw.com -- Rob Clough
* I've seen very little press about Questionable Content, but I just adore it. I can see its faults, and cringe when so many of the characters speak with such similar voices, but it never fails to make me smile, and once a week or so laugh loudly. I wish he'd redraw the first couple of hundred strips and put them out in a nice bookshelf edition. -- Grant Goggans
* Achewood -- Dick Hyacinth
* Cow and Buffalo by Mike Maihack -- Dan Boyd
* Sinfest. -- Jamie Coville
* Achewood, easily. -- Tucker Stone
* Scary Go Round. (If you haven't looked at it in a couple of years, it is well worth it. The art and story are at a very high level now.) -- Marc Arsenault

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4. What is your favorite ongoing newspaper strip?
* Whatever strip in The Guardian Posy Simmonds is currently working on. -- Richard Starkings
* Doonesbury - The truly remarkable thing about this strip is that I would have given the same answer to the question twenty years ago. -- Dave Knott
* Lio -- Uriel Duran
* Richard Thompson's "Cul De Sac" -- Dan Steffan
* Get Fuzzy -- Jason Michelitch
* Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker -- Fred Hembeck

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5. What is your favorite comics web site that is not a link- or commentary-blog?
* http://www.barnaclepress.com/ -- Mario!
* Dial B For Blog -- Richard Starkings

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6. What's the best experience you've ever had in a comics shop?
* Being asked by Heroes Aren't Hard to Find (Charlotte) to moderate their monthly comics discussion group -- Andrew Mansell
* I suppose buying a somewhat tattered copy of X-Men #1 in 1978 for the then-outrageous sum of 5£ this took place in Britain) would qualify, although there have been many other happy moments. -- Jean-Paul Jennequin
* It's hard to do better than a good quarter bin. -- Brandon Graham
* Going to a comic book store for the first time and discovering back issues. -- Leif Jones
* The guy at Fantasy Castle (a cheesy shop in Woodland Hills, CA) who told when I was a 15 year old kid that Jack Kirby lived fairly close and had a listed phone number. Sometime soon I'll finish a blog about it. -- Scott Dunbier
* In fifth grade, I nearly neutered myself when I tried to steal a hardcover copy of Charles Vess' Spirits of the Earth Spider-man graphic novel by shoving it down my pants. -- Marc Sobel
* Probably the day I bought Love & Rockets #3 (the magazine) when it was brand new. I enjoyed it so much that I mail ordered issues #1 and #2 from Fantagraphics and continually collected it and other Los Bros Hernandez titles to the present. Actually all the days going into my comic shop in 1983 seemed like great experiences with the new direct sales titles. -- John Vest
* The closest I've ever come to doing the comics-shop-every-Wednesday thing was at Santa Cruz's Comicopolis, because the owner, Troy, has just about the best customer service skills I’ve ever seen at any retail establishment, and trained his staff accordingly -- friendly and helpful (they memorized all the customer's names), but low pressure and not fanboy-y at all. Even if what I wanted hadn't come in yet, I would try to buy at least one comic every time, just because I really wanted to support his store. (Doesn't sound like much, but back then, I spent about 30 percent of my income there.) -- Kristy Valenti
* Probably going to Meltdown for the first time and being stunned by the sheer variety of comics and the attractive way it was presented. I've been to a lot of great shops, but that's still the best overall experience. -- Rob Clough
* Easy. The first time and every time I've ever gone to Lambiek, in Amsterdam. I've often told people that Lambiek is the only comics store I've ever walked into that's given me a hard on. Hah! My best experience there happened during a visit that, unfortunately, came just a couple of days AFTER a large Joost Swarte exhibit of original art. Being a huge Swarte fan I was disappointed to have missed it and mentioned my regret to the proprietor. He then told me that while the show had been taken down, the art itself was still stacked up in a back room awaiting their return to the artist. Despite this, if I wanted to, I was welcome to go back into the rear of the store and go through the piles of original art that I'd missed seeing. And I did exactly that; unsupervised and delighted. I was one happy cartoon boy, I can tell you. A great store. -- Dan Steffan
* This might be cheating the question a little bit: My dad owned a comic book shop while I was growing up, and ordered through the late, lamented Capital City. When Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor first came out, Capital City ran a promotion with Dark Horse where the stores with the highest order numbers got Harlan for an in-store signing. My dad, a big supporter of non-superhero comics work and a huge Ellison fan, was going to order a bunch anyway, so he easily rose to the top of the heap (or near it), and Ellison came to do an in-store signing. (My dad also got to go to dinner with Harlan and a few other retailers, and he brought me along, which is one of the best experiences of my life period, but didn't occur in a comic book store.) When Harlan showed up for the signing, he found me sitting in his chair reading a Tank Girl comic. He spooked me by growling "get outta my chair", then told me he was just kidding, and let me sit at the table and hang out all day while he signed endless books and did his Harlan-schtick. I was eleven. So that is, by far, the best experience I have ever had in a comics shop. -- Jason Michelitch
* There have been a lot -- discovering Luther Arkwright in a Fredericton, N.B. walkup, meeting Martin Nodell at a local signing in Bangor, ME, or purchasing the first six issues of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in St. John, N.B. -- but the best experience was going to visit a friend who was working in a local shop and asking him, as an afterthought, if they had a copy of Swamp Thing #42. He said nothing, went out back, and returned with the issue. After a number of years, I finally had a complete Alan Moore run. I went home and read through the entire series for the first time that weekend. -- Chris Beckett
* Having my first "professional" appearance be a signing for my first mini comic, which was held on Free Comic Book Day at my local shop, Emerald City Comics, a couple of years ago. -- Dan Boyd
* Leisure World, Book Land, Action Packed Comics, The Comic Cave. Now I buy from all over the place. -- Jamie Coville
* At FantaCo, in Albany, New York. The late Raoul Vezina handing me a copy of Love & Rockets no. 1 to check out when I asked him what was new that he liked. I wouldn't swear it was the same visit, but in my brain Nexus #1 and Grendel had just come out too. -- Marc Arsenault
* Overchanged on a copy of Mark Waid's Ka-Zar; instantly fell in doomed, unrequited love. (Christ on a coracle, that's ten years ago. I wonder what she's doing now...) -- Matthew Craig
* Working at Jim Hanley's Universe in NYC. Honestly, it taught me a million things that I would have never learned otherwise. -- Vito Delsante
* When a pretty young lady who was just hired at a local game shop came in, looking for someone to play some games with her so she could learn her product line. We ended up, ummm, "playing games" for a few months after... -- Nat Gertler

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7. What's the worst experience you've ever had in a comics shop?
* Shop owner's dog wizzed on my ankle when I was waiting to check out! -- Ben Ostrander
* Finding a copy of an out-of-print book I'd been looking for for years in an old remainder box, only to be told upon attempting to pay for it, by the guy who ran the place, that he'd decided he didn't want to sell it after all! -- Aaron Francis Dumin
* shrink-wrapped books -- Brandon Graham
* dealing with the trollish guy who works the backbin room at St. Mark's Comics on St. Mark's St. in NYC, by far the unnecessarily rudest and most boorish person I have ever encountered in comics retailing on 4 continents and a number of islands. -- Paul Pope
* Finding my own books in the remaindered bin -- Buzz Dixon
* Back when I first interviewed Alex Ross, I was looking for copies of his early work. I found a shop that had copies of Terminator: The Burning Earth; the shop owner checked his database and saw he had them. But he refused to go into the back room to look for them. He lost the sale. -- Russell Lissau
* Women/manager was changing a baby on the counter and she said, to whoever was listening, "Shit, he's been eating dirt again." -- Tucker Stone

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8. List the names of the comics shops that have been your shop in your lifetime of buying comics.
* Comics, Cards, and Collectibles -- Reisterstown, MD; Comics Factory -- Pasadena, CA; Midtown Comics (via mail-order) -- Elliot Blake
* JC's Comic Shop in Toledo, Ohio. The Beguiling in Toronto Ontario. Laughing Ogre and Monkey's Retreat in Columbus, Ohio. Village Comics, Jim Hanley's, and Midtown Comics in NYC, Meltdown and Golden Apple in LA. Album and Un Regard Modern in Paris, Continuara in Barcelona, Gosh! COMICS in London, Lambiek in Amsterdam. -- Paul Pope
* Foundation, Second Foundation, Chapel Hill Comics (note: these are technically all the same shop) -- Eric Knisley
* The Million-Year Picnic, Forbidden Planet, Jim Hanley's Universe, Comic Carnival, The Vintage Phoenix -- Andrei Molotiu
* The unnamed newstand near my house and Amazon.com -- Uriel Duran
* Jelly's the Original (Pearl City and Honolulu, Hawaii) - Percy at Jelly's is the one who helped me become a real comics fan after years of reading comics; Books, Comics and Things (Fort Wayne, Indiana); Comic Emporium (Panama City, Florida) - this is my current LCS. -- Kat Kan
* Tazmanian Comic Connection - Port Moody, BC; The Comic Shop - Vancouver, BC; Comics Ink - Los Angeles, CA; Golden Apple - Los Angeles, CA; Star Clipper - St Louis, MO; Campus Comics - Carbondale, IL -- Paul Sloboda
* 1)Amazing Fantasy-- Evergreen Park, Illinois; 2) Paperback Seller-- Palos Heights, IL; 3) Friendly Frank's-- Alsip, Illinois; 4) Lee's Comics-- Worth, Illinois; 5) ?????-- Oak Lawn, Illinois (can't remember the name of it but it was by 95th Street and Cicero in the late 80s.); 6)Amazing Fantasy-- Orland Park, Illinois; 7) Argos-- Grand Rapids, MI; 8) Tardy's Collectors Corner-- Grand Rapids, IL; 9) Apparition Comics-- Kentwood, MI; 10) ???-- Bowling Green, OH (can't remember the name of it but it was the early 90s and the shop was a baseball card shop that carried all the "hot" comics); 11) JC Comics-- Toledo, OH; 12) Graham Crackers-- Downers Grove, IL; 13 More Fun/Graham Crackers-- Darien, IL; 14) Graham Crackers-- Wheaton, IL; 15) Graham Crackers-- Naperville, IL (current)
* The Book Trader, Smyrna GA, middle school, mid-80s; Titan Games & Comics, Smyrna GA, high school, late-80s; Bizarro Wuxtry, Athens GA, 1991-present -- Grant Goggans
* Super Giant Comics, Spartanburg SC (no longer open); Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, Spartanburg SC (this branch is no longer open); Heroes and Dragons, Columbia, SC; Capital City Comics, Madison, WI (and boy do I miss it); Currently: DCBS, I guess -- we'll see how it goes -- Dick Hyacinth
* Vintage Books, early-mid 80's; Books and Buttons, mid-late 80's; Pac-Rat's neé the Great Escape, 1984-2005. -- Johnny Bacardi
* Comics & Comix, Palo Alto, CA; Peninsula Comics, Belmont, CA; Comic Relief, Berkeley, CA; 21st Century Comics, Orange, CA -- Michael Grabowski
* Queen City Comics in Buffalo NY while in college, Fantaco in Albany NY; A Strange Land in Kingston, NY, and for the last 25 years, Mountain Empire Comics in Tennessee--which I've never set foot in, but have dealt with via mail order very happily this past quarter century. -- Fred Hembeck
* als comics (16th and guerrero in san francisco); hero's comics (san francisco...no longer in buisness); comix and da kind (san francisco); sf comic book company (the first ever comic store...right around the block from my middle school); forbidden planet (840 broadway, nyc... also my most steady source of employment) -- Austin English

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9. If a comic shop has opened within 50 miles in the last two years, what exactly makes you think it will or won't survive until a fifth anniversary?

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10. What is something you've done in a comics shop you're sorry happened?
* I have shoplifted a comic. I am going to hell. -- James Smith
* Recently I was shopping at the Atlanta comics store Oxford Comics, and I got into a big argument with an employee. Oxford is a bizarre shop--they order practically everything in the Diamond catalog, as far as I can tell, but there's no rhyme or reason to it and they don't seem to know their stock. Their inventory control and categorizing are from 1987 or thereabouts. My ultimate frustration is with the way they treat their graphic novels: they're all shelved by title. This is fine when it comes to superhero stock, but it's practically useless when I go in there looking for, say, various Rick Geary titles, or the newest graphic novel where I only know the author. They've got similar problems with the manga. I finally got so frustrated by their idiot savant-ness that I finally said something, forgetting that some of the staff is particularly testy. Anyway, I got into a big argument, and it was ted my time and wasted the staff's time. I'd like to just stop going there, but they usually have things I can't find anywhere else. Why can't comic book stores in a major city be better? -- J. Colussy-Estes
* Bought five copies of X-Force #1 so I could get all the trading cards. Actually it was six copies so I could read one and keep the rest in the polybag as an "investment". -- Ryan Dunlavey
* I was talking with the proprietor of my regular shop and used a racially-sensitive quote from Howard Cruse's Stuck Rubber Baby. Although it was used in context, the quote was probably viewed as intensely racist by other customers who weren't privy to the entire conversation. -- Dave Knott
* I was fifteen when I went to the DC offices to visit and get a tour from Julius Schwartz, who was a friend of my mom's BF. He secretly gave me a copy of Superman #75 two weeks before the official release/character's death. I excitedly hurried home to the shop I worked and hung out at in the Bronx, and sold the comic to the owners who promptly put it on display at a ludicrous price. Needless to say the store was reported to DC within hours and threatened with legal action, the story of how they obtained the comic got out and I was fingered as the culprit, and Julie's trust in me was betrayed. I felt guilty for this for years. Ugh. -- Jeff Ayers
* Played in a "Mage Knight" tournament -- Timothy Callahan
* The comic shop I used to frequent in high school had an owner that would spit his chewing tobacco into a large Denver Broncos cup and then leave it around various parts of the store. One Wednesday morning he left the cup on the display counter where he was sorting the new comics. In my zeal to grab a copy of Mighty Mouse #7 I accidentally knocked over the cup and spilled the disgusting tobacco juice all over a good batch of the new comics. -- Rod DiManna

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11. Who is the Greatest Living Cartoonist?
* Jaime Hernandez. Is this a trick question? -- James Smith
* Eddie Campbell -- Mario!
* Kim Deitch (yes, I would have given the same answer a month ago as well!) -- Andrew Mansell
* Moebius -- Ben Ostrander
* Moebius -- Brandon Graham
* Kyle Baker -- Scott Dunbier
* Crumb -- Paul Pope
* Dan Clowes -- Timothy Callahan
* Robert Crumb -- John Vest
* Robert Crumb -- Dick Hyacinth
* Leonard "Mary Perkins: On Stage" Starr -- Fred Hembeck
* Raymond Briggs -- Marc Arsenault
* Bob Sikoryak. The future will show that I'm right. -- Vito Delsante

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12. Name the female cartoonist highest up in your personal pantheon.
* Lynda Barry -- J. Colussy-Estes
* Shawn Kerri -- Ryan Dunlavey
* Lynda Barry -- Aaron Francis Dumin
* Wendy Pini -- Brandon Graham
* Lynda Barry -- Eric Knisley
* Lea Hernandez -- Kat Kan
* Allison Barrows, creator of Preteena (full disclosure: Allison wrote the Goofyfoot Gurl graphic novel series for my company) -- Buzz Dixon
* Rumiko Takahashi -- Kristy Valenti
* That would be Mary Fleener, who may not have drawn many comics in recent years but is still one of the best. -- Rob Clough
* Rumiko Takahashi -- Grant Goggans
* Jill Thompson -- Russell Lissau
* carol tyler -- Austin English
* Carla Speed McNeil -- Nat Gertler

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13. Name the cartoonist with a non-white South American or African heritage highest up in your personal pantheon.
* Kyle Baker -- Brandon Graham
* Kyle Baker, of course. -- Dan Steffan
* Trevor Von Eeden -- Johnny Bacardi
* Eduardo Risso. His work on 100 Bullets is electrifying, and yet, I can remember finding it difficult to "get into" when I first looked at this series. But it grows on you, and then once you've read a collection, you go back and start examining the artwork and see that with an economy of lines he is able to inject an energy and a beauty that many over-delineated artists are unable to evoke in their best pages. I've since picked up some of the reprint series that have been published with his art like Borderline, and am continually amazed at his facility. -- Chris Beckett

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14. Who is the world's most under-appreciated cartoonist?
* Dave Cooper. -- Leif Jones
* Theo Ellsworth -- Marc Sobel
* Roberta Gregory -- Rod DiManna
* Vittorio Giardino -- Dan Boyd

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15. Name a cartoonist you know is great but whose work you find hard to enjoy.
* Ivan Brunetti - fantastic cartoonist, but his stuff either depresses the hell out of me or just plain grosses me out. -- Elliot Blake
* Gary Panter - I know that he's revered by the alt-comix crowd, but his art usually looks like chicken scratches to me. -- Dave Knott
* E.C. Segar -- Andrei Molotiu
* Dan Clowes -- Uriel Duran
* Dave Sim. -- Jeff Ayers
* Jack Kirby (before my time, I guess) -- Paul Sloboda
* Sergio Aragones -- Scott Cederlund
* Lynda Barry -- Jason Michelitch
* Gary Panter -- Michael Grabowski
* Chris Ware -- Dan Boyd
* Hernandez Brothers -- Jamie Coville
* Hank Ketcham -- Tucker Stone
* Terry Dodson. -- Matthew Craig

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16. What was the first comic that you remember buying after the last time you stopped buying comics?
* Tom Strong. I forget which issue. -- James Smith
* Iron Wok Jan vols 1-15 -- J. Colussy-Estes
* X-Men #141 way back when -- I went from no comics in 6 years to Marvel junkie in no time... -- Andrew Mansell
* Animal Man #17 -- Jeff Ayers
* Daredevil #190. It was the issue that got me buying comics again in a regular way (and visiting the comic shop in my area). I had been reading comics sporadically in the late 70's after Steve Gerber's run on Howard The Duck was over. I had gotten jaded on comics for the most part until I saw Daredevil #190 on a rack at a Hop In Convenience store. It was so unusual and foreign looking from the Daredevils I remembered in the late 60's and 70's I was really drawn to it. -- John Vest
* Dave Sim's Glamourpuss -- Buzz Dixon
* 2000 AD -- Grant Goggans
* First comic I can absolutely remember buying is Secret Wars #5. Last time I quit reading comics on an obsessive basis was 2000, though I think I bought a couple of things here and there in 2001. The last was probably an issue of Magic Whistle in the summer of 2001. -- Dick Hyacinth
* The tpb of Batman: The Long Halloween -- Russell Lissau
* Runaways in the manga-style collections. -- Marc Arsenault

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17. What comic do you plan to revisit one day?
* Tim Truman's Scout -- I remember it being great when I was a teenager, curious to see if it still holds up. -- Elliot Blake
* The original Howard the Duck series by Steve Gerber. That comic was so important to me as a teen. -- Jean-Paul Jennequin
* Heartbreak Comics -- Scott Dunbier
* Beanworld -- Eric Knisley
* Moebius's "Lt. Blueberry" -- Timothy Callahan
* Cages -- Dan Steffan
* The Spirit, Kitchen Sink's 1980s reprints of the post WWII years. -- Michael Grabowski
* Creepy, in that fancy new archive format from Dark Horse (which I bought even though I still have all the original issues, picked up off the newsstand). Re-read the very first issue just today, in fact -- there were a few clunkers in there, but it gets better -- that I remember well. -- Fred Hembeck
* Cerebus -- Dan Boyd
* Ravage 2099. -- Matthew Craig
* Love & Rockets -- Nat Gertler

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18. Name a comic that was even better when you tracked it down than you remember it being the first time.
* GI Joe - the Larry Hama written stuff from issues 20 through around 100 or so. Solid, exciting action sequences, a well developed ensemble cast of characters, the perfect balance of para-military realism and superhero goofiness (colorful uniforms, code-names, improbable sci-fi elements) - just really, really fun well-written stuff. And Herb Trimpe! Good comics. -- Ryan Dunlavey
* The Spirit: The New Adventures #1 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. -- Leif Jones
* Marshal Law (thanks to Jog) -- Marc Sobel
* American: Flagg!, the first 20 issues or so; I let my originals go when I sold my first collection in 1987, but I really wanted them back so a few years later I came across a good-sized run in a back-issue box, and bought them. As everyone who's picked up the recent hardcover knows, those stories still hold up very well. -- Johnny Bacardi
* Marvel Tails #1 (First appearance of Spider-Ham) -- Rod DiManna
* Superman #400, the big anniversary issue. I remembered enjoying it as a kid when I bought it off the stands, but when I sought it out as an adult and got a chance to re-read it, the diversity of stories, the artists involved, and everything about the book brought back that nostalgia we all experience with comics, but I found that it stood up rather well, mainly because it was unlike any other Superman story that might have been published at the time, or any time. It seemed as if the creators were allowed to interpret Supes rather liberally, and I’m grateful for that. -- Chris Beckett
* Incredible Hulk #142. As a kid most of the jokes went right over my head. As an adult it gave me a double whammy of nostalgia and unseen humor. -- Jamie Coville
* the 5 Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes -- Tucker Stone
* david laskys boom boom -- Austin English

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19. What is the worst comic in your collection that you keep for reasons other than its quality?
* Dell's Lives of the American Presidents -- Ben Ostrander
* An issue of Donald Duck with nearly half of the panels carefully cut out from when I was five and tried to make my own comics by pasting them into an old notebook. Being a Barks story, not a bad quality comic per se, but at this point completely unreadable. -- Aaron Francis Dumin
* Spidey Super-Stories #39 - The first Spider-man comic (possibly the first super-hero comic) I ever purchased for myself with my own money. So bad that I'm surprised that I ever bought another comic. -- Dave Knott
* To be totally honest about it, Ditko's recent self-published work, such as "Steve Ditko's 32-Page Package." -- Andrei Molotiu
* The Mexican edition of DC's Super Juniors Holiday Special. I keep it because I simply like kitsch stuff. -- Uriel Duran
* "The War" 4-issue limited series, as the concluding chapter to the entire (original) New Universe run of comics, from the late 80s. I keep it to remember that nostalgia, left unchecked, will stink up a room. -- Paul Sloboda
* Obnoxio the Clown vs. The X-Men -- Scott Cederlund
* My issue of X-Men Unlimited #5 (Volume 2). I think I could have done a better job, and one day, I hope to get another shot at it. -- Vito Delsante

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20. One word only: what is your primary non-comics association with comics?
* Libraries -- Kat Kan
* Library -- Kristy Valenti
* Immersion -- Jason Michelitch

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21. What one site not your own or a friend's does CR not in your opinion cover near enough?
* Dial B for Blog -- Jamie Coville

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22. Name a comics figure this site has never interviewed you'd like to see interviewed.
* Eve Gilbert -- Mario!
* Any of the old-guard MAD magazine mainstays - Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, etc. except for Sergio, who is a terrific cartoonist, it's just that there's so few interviews/info about those other guys (that I'm aware of). -- Ryan Dunlavey
* Matt Feazell -- Jean-Paul Jennequin
* Again, Moebius. -- Ben Ostrander
* Ben Katchor (Hey, if you can dream, so can I!) -- Aaron Francis Dumin
* Garry Trudeau -- Dave Knott
* David Boswell -- Scott Dunbier
* Jim Woodring -- Eric Knisley
* James Sturm -- Marc Sobel
* Alejandro Jodorowsky -- Uriel Duran
* Mary Skrenes -- Timothy Callahan
* Rick Geary. -- Kat Kan
* I'd enjoy reading an interview with Matt Wagner, especially one if you got him to answer when (if at all) he intends to publish Mage III. Martin Wagner may not owe me fifty bucks, but Matt Wagner owes me a third & final volume, I say semi-jokingly. -- Paul Sloboda
* Nigar Nazar -- Kristy Valenti
* Dylan Williams.-- Rob Clough
* Garry Trudeau -- Grant Goggans
* Bob Fingerman -- Dan Steffan
* Jeffrey Rowland -- Jason Michelitch
* Adam Hughes. If you've interviewed him, I don't recall it. -- Johnny Bacardi
* Matt Groening -- Michael Grabowski
* Steve Ditko. Hey, lotsa luck with that, Tom... -- Fred Hembeck
* Dave Sim -- Rod DiManna
* Looking through the archives, it appears you've not interviewed Scott Morse. Warren Ellis once said in a Bad Signal of his that any new work from Morse was cause to celebrate (though I am paraphrasing) and I agree. I own a vast majority of his published work and have enjoyed every one. Coming from an animator’s background, I find his style and storytelling to be distinct and I think his perspective would be very interesting. -- Chris Beckett
* Guy Davis -- Dan Boyd
* Allen Spiegel of Allen Spiegel Fine Arts -- Marc Arsenault
* john hankiewicz -- Austin English
* I'm afraid to say I don't really have a specific candidate in mind for this answer, but I'd love to see more craft-oriented interviews, please. -- Matthew Craig
* Jerry Scott -- Nat Gertler

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23. Name a comics figure this site has interviewed you'd like to see interviewed again.
* Ed Brubaker -- Elliot Blake
* Revisit all the Fort Thunder guys -- Andrew Mansell
* Does Joe Casey count? I'd like to see you interview him again. -- Scott Cederlund
* Matt Fraction. His career has really evolved a lot since the last interview you posted with him. I enjoyed the TV wrestling allusion you used a while back with Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction as the Ole and Arn Anderon of comics. I think Matt Fraction would be in the Arn role. There's a lighter quality to his stories. The moody and unsettled feel in some of Ed Brubaker's titles fits Ole's lack of conscience persona. -- John Vest
* I haven't seen a Dean Haspiel interview on the site, at least not in a long time, and with his current success online, I'd like to see the difference(s) between his last interview (if there was one) and a new one. One of these days, he's going to be called one of the Godfathers of the Current Age, and I think he should be "checked on" periodically. -- Vito Delsante

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24. Name an under- or unreported news story from your perspective.
* I'd like to see more about comics inroads into the traditional book market (what are the imprints, strategies, and experiences of cartoonists--such as Ben Towle's recent experience: www.benzilla.com/?p=1105 -- outside of the familiar comics markets. Full disclosure, I work in the traditional book market) -- J. Colussy-Estes
* The steep rise in prices of original art following the "Masters of American Comics" exhibition. -- Andrei Molotiu
* The explosion of comics and GN sections at public libraries. -- Russell Lissau

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25. Name a resource this site could house that would be valuable to you.

* Cover links -- Buzz Dixon
* Okay, this is asking a lot, but here it is anyway: I'd like to see a national guide to comics shops worth visiting, with brief capsules explaining why you'd want to visit and the like. I know that Alternative Comics has that Indy Friendly Store list, but there are several stores on that list that, while not bad stores, aren't really that indie friendly, and several missing ones which are extremely indie-friendly. But it would be nice to know which stores have a good selection of older back issues, which stock minicomics, which have a lot of non-comics pop culture merchandise, which ones are kid-friendly, etc., etc. Obviously this would require you to depend upon the scouting reports of others, which you may or may not be comfortable with doing. -- Dick Hyacinth

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BONUS NOT COMICS SECTION
1. What is your favorite sandwich?
* Peanutbutter and jelly -- Aaron Francis Dumin
* Fried egg, lettuce, tomato, & cheese sandwich--lightly toasted bread, mayo, lots of salt and pepper, egg over easy. -- J. Colussy-Estes
* a Rueben and a cold Smitty (I have to wash it down with something, right?) -- Ben Ostrander
* muffuletta, especially from the Central Grocery in N.O. -- Andrei Molotiu
* Pepper-Mill Turkey with Swiss, lettuce, tomato, spicy brown mustard, and pepper on an everything bagel. -- Jeff Ayers
* Triple Cheeseburger Sub with Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato -- Timothy Callahan
* My favorite sandwich is prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, roma tomato, basil and olive oil on whatever bread's fresh, from Molinari's deli on Columbus in San Francisco -- but I'd need two of them, and something fizzy to drink. -- Paul Sloboda
* The Cuban sandwich is the height of salty, porky decadence -- Rob Clough
* Well, Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppe is, of course, based on a comic, but I'm not saying this to sneak something into the bonus section! It's a small chain with maybe twenty stores in the southeast and Indiana. Their Dagwood sandwich is not completely accurate - it lacks spaghetti, fried egg and a lobster, for starters - but it's a huge beast of a meal you can barely fit in your mouth, full of yummy meat and every fixing in the store. It's held together with a skewer and an olive placed atop it. Not a sandwich you can tackle daily, but worth it once in a while as a treat! -- Grant Goggans
* Peanut butter and jelly -- Russell Lissau
* Peanut Butter and Jelly -- Jamie Coville
* The chicken, bacon, avocado made by the post-2AM crew at the 79th street deli. Only post-2AM crew counts. -- Tucker Stone
* Peanut Butter, Honey + Bacon on a toasted muffin -- Marc Arsenault
* Chicken, Ham and Pineapple baguette (white bread), as bought in the Barnes Wallis Restaurant, UMIST, Manchester, in 1994/5. I was nearly run over by drug dealers one time, but damn, was that sammich worth it. -- Matthew Craig
* What is your favorite sandwich? Hands down, the peanut butter & jelly (strawberry...I've been converted), but I rarely eat it so that I never under-appreciate it. The one I'm particularly fond of is honey maple turkey, swiss cheese or mozzarella, canadian bacon, russian dressing, lettuce, tomato on a bagel (but a roll is fine). -- Vito Delsante

2. Name three US vice-presidents in the order that they occur to you.
* Richard Nixon, Harry Truman, Dan Quayle. Not bad for a Frenchman, if I do say so myself. -- Jean-Paul Jennequin
* Quayle, Cheney, Adams -- Scott Dunbier
* Cheney, Quayle and Gore -- Kristy Valenti
* Spiro Agnew, of course; John Tyler (I read a lot about William Henry Harrison several years ago); Al Gore, who rode the mighty moon worm. -- Johnny Bacardi
* Dan Quayle, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon -- Fred Hembeck
* Aaron Burr, Dick Cheney, George HW Bush -- Dan Boyd
* Agnew, Rockefeller, Ford -- Nat Gertler

3. Name a movie that shouldn't have been remade and a movie that should be.
* Shaft/The Conversation -- Dave Knott
* Sabrina/Midnight Cowboy. -- Leif Jones
* Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (remade as Mr. Deeds with Adam Sandler in the Gary Cooper role)/Saturn 3 has a great core idea re what constitutes identity, but the cast and shoddy special effects reduced it to crapola -- Buzz Dixon

4. Otto Graham, Joe Montana or Tom Brady?
* Otto Graham, but only if Lou "The Toe" Groza is protecting him and kicking the extra points. -- Andrew Mansell
* Joe Montana. -- Scott Cederlund
* I wish I knew more about Otto Graham beyond what I've read. I'll go with Joe Montana, since it seems like a lot of Graham's mystique appears to be tied to his being a "winner," and I would guess that this downplays the contributions of his teammates. Then again, for all I know Graham carried the team on his back and deserves the overwhelming majority of the credit for the Browns' success during his tenure. (FWIW, Armchair GM has Johnny Unitas as the greatest of all modern era quarterbacks, but they don't consider Graham to be a modern-era quarterback. Montana is #2). -- Dick Hyacinth
* Tom Brady, because my girlfriend is from Boston and would kill me if I said otherwise. If we're just going on coolness-of-name, Otto Graham. Aaaaand, that exhausts all two of the criteria that I have available for forming an opinion on this matter. -- Jason Michelitch
* Joe Montana -- Michael Grabowski
* Joe Montana. I came of age in the '80s. I was a Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson kid. Good time (and good choices) for a sports fan. -- Chris Beckett
* joe montana!! -- Austin English

5. If you could have any middle name in the world not "Bronislaw," what would it be?
* "American." Or "Trinidad." -- James Smith
* Anything that begins with A but only so I could enter "RAD" when I got the high-score on Asteroids. -- Ryan Dunlavey
* "Kreegah-Bundolo" -- Eric Knisley
* "Zeus" -- Marc Sobel
* "Gojira" -- Uriel Duran
* I'd like to have Spartacus as a middle name. -- Dan Steffan
* Galvatron -- Rod DiManna

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Related Links
* ADD Answers All 30
* Brandon Graham Answers Many Of The 30 Questions
* Marc Sobel Answers All 30
* Mario! Answers Many Of The 30 Questions
* Paul Pope Answers All 30
* Richard Starkings Answers All 30
* Sean T. Collins Answers All 30

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thanks to all that participated; as always, answers riffing on the question rather than answering it or answers that try to stuff more than one answer in will likely be eliminated to reduce complaints. If you answered more than five questions and the bonus I may just take your first five or delete the response altogether; sorry, but I don't show up at your job with extra work for you, even when invited. I'd still indulge you, because I'm flattered by your enthusiasm, and I don't like to be Mr. Weatherby, but then I'd get complaints from readers who would demand on being allowed "the right" to expand on their answers and my blood pressure would surge to a J Jonah Jameson-like 640 over 380 and this site would be remembered as the site by the guy who exploded. Also, there were a lot of these, so one or two answers may have slipped away just by accident.

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posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Starlen Baxter, 1960-2008

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Gary Reed draws attention to the passing of the writer, artist and publisher Starlen Baxter, who apparently committed suicide on June 8. Baxter was a publisher and I believe occasional creator at Nerve Magazine, a late-period underground/early alternative that featured talent such as Bill Widener, John Howard and Heather McAdams. Baxter then went on to do work with Caliber's various imprints and Dark Horse Comics. The Columbus project was done for Dark Horse in partnership with the underground legend Jack Jackson. Baxter's suicide came two years to the date of Jackson's own self-inflicted death. Among the Lexington, Kentucky area-based creator's better-known projects were Mack the Knife, Suppressed: A History of Violence in America and Channel X.

Baxter was found dead in his car, and his funeral was held three days after his passing. An old friend and brief working partner remembers him here. I believe this may be a photo gallery maintained by Baxter, and this indicates he moved back to Kentucky in 2007 to take care of ailing parents.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Zapiro Speaks On ANC Controversy

* a must-read interview with cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro about his recent cartoon featuring various South African political entities holding down that country's justice system so that ANC leader Jacob Zuma can rape her has appeared in the Los Angeles Times. It contains a fine summary of the story as well.

* target Zuma seems to have received a decent amount of support in the affair, particularly from his close constituents.

* the politician certainly received a boost when corruption charges against him were dropped.

* the Young Communist League would like to see the cartoon investigated.
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Publisher Adds Wowio Payment Clock

imageThis is funny: publisher Lone Star Press has gone so far as to add a payment countdown clock because of late second quarter payments from the Platinum-owned Wowio company, once a significant contributor to the bottom line for several publishing enterprises. I think it may be counting up rather than counting down -- sue me, it's early -- but it's still pretty damn humorous, especially if you're not the one owed cash. Here's a substantive piece at PWCW about the deal, although there's not much more to say than what's been out there for a while: "still owing people money for 2Q; things look dim for 3Q profits to match previous levels."
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Marvel Captures More Bookstore Sales

Here's a nice catch by the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com from Marvel's presentation to the Merrill Lynch Media Fall Preview Conference two days ago: apparently, the percentage of their publishing sales from the Direct Market has gone from the high 80s to the low 60s. Since their I'm pretty sure their DM sales have improved in the same period, this marks a pretty big expansion into a book market where DC has long enjoyed a crushing lead, and still, with their Random House deal coming to life this year and the Hammer of God that is the Watchmen trade, almost certainly continues to dominate. If nothing else, it should provide some background as to the state and nature of various Marvel publishing decisions a few years in either direction: everything from publishing partnerships (such as their work with Stephen King) to their willingness to do five-issue limited series with less-than-absolute comic shop circulation with the thought that the trade paperback might perform well.
 
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Go, Look: Raymond Scott at 100

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I'm not going to re-run someone else's commissioned drawing for the sake of writing a "news" story, but you should really go look at this beautiful Drew Friedman drawing. I guess looking at it a second time you can buy a print, but I don't care about that as much as you should go look at it.
 
posted 4:02 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Cartoonist Tom Toles As Accidental Presidential Stump Speech Writer

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The text from the Tom Toles cartoon appearing September 5 has apparently worked its way into the speeches of presidential candidate Barack Obama. The strip contains a succinct indictment of the John McCain/Sarah Palin ticket as an enterprise for change, and is as funny and to its point as most efforts by Toles manage to achieve. Many feel that Toles is the nation's best and most vital editorial cartoonist, occupying the Washington Post slot previously held by Herblock, the cartooning equivalent to playing shortstop for the New York Yankees. Beyond the novelty of that bit of information being worked into the Senator's speech, and what is likely to be the kind of posing and name-calling substituted for issue engagement since Adams vs. Jefferson springing up around using a cartoonist's efforts for that material, there's the issue of attribution into which the linked-to article delves a bit.

I think I'm within my rights to use the cartoon, as it's the item of discussion and not used to, say, illustrate a more general and related point; if someone from the Post wants to yell at me and have me reconsider, please do. While I wait by the inbox, do me a favor and click through to the Post site anyway.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In The UK, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: David Chelsea Web Site

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I think it's very nice, David.
 
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Go, Look: Gwen Stacy's Return

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Go, Look: Crumbling Wimpy

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Go, Look: How We Got Gay Married

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OTBP: Stay Tooned! #2

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this was unexpected but very cool: Takehiko Inoue interviews the captain of the Japanese wheelchair basketball team.

image* considering Richard Thompson and Cul De Sac could probably file stalking charges against this blog (see typical post below this one), it's kind of odd that the first anniversary of the strip in its syndicated form escaped my notice. Happy important milestone birthday to one of the signature comics of this decade. The rough rule of thumb for comic strips is that one third of those that debut don't make it this far, so this is more important than you might think.

* it's probably very common, and I suppose it's better than doing it and not talking about it, but I still find it weird to read people openly speaking about what comic books they're going to plumb for their movies.

* finally, here's Frank Miller's reaction to the goofiest comics-related story of the year. I was hoping someone would get him on the radio and fail to bleep any curse words he provided in a statement, but this will more than do.
 
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Go, Look: Seven By Richard Thompson

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Seing KAL and the RNC
Matt Davies Goes Home
Seriously, Go See Chris Onstad
Kids Comics Pavilion to Debut at BCC
Another Jewish Superhero Comics Exhibit

History
They Forgot Arcade
Comic Strips Endure
Hooray For Gil Thorp
Hank Ketcham, Cartoon Journalist

Industry
Worst Thief Ever
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoon
Strip News Round-Up

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Ron Marz
CBR: Danielle Corsetto
Politicker: Jim Borgman
Xconomy: Scott McCloud
EarthSky Blogs: Jay Hosler
Livingston Daily: Eric Wilmoth

Not Comics
Richard Donner Joins House-Saving Effort
Is Anyone Really Still Mad At Campy Batman?

Publishing
Can You Pulp A Webcomic?
Clickwheel Adds Elephantmen
More On Marvel Noir Crossover
Three New Cartoonists To Cagle
E&P on Mike Rhode's Pekar Project
Liverpool Paper Tries Comics Pull-Out
Archie Unveils New Trade Dress, Logos

Reviews
Dave Ferraro: Prince of Persia
Mike Mumah: Strange and Stranger
Scott A. Rosenberg: American Widow
Leroy Douresseaux: Dr. Slump Vol. 16
Brandee Strachan: Comic Book Tattoo
Jacob Covey: The Comics Of Noel Troll
Jamie S. Rich: The Mindscape of Alan Moore
Richard Bruton: The Bakers: Babies and Kittens
Tanner Braaten: The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard
 

 
September 11, 2008


Does A Revitalized Chicago Bode Well For Continued Comics Growth?

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

As suggested in a couple of previous postings, I spent a day or two in Chicago this month on either end of a longer trip. I lived in Chicago in the early 1990s, and my brother, Whit, an occasional contributor to this site, has lived there ever since.

In hindsight, I can see that a small but significant part of my time in Chicago was spent making the transition from a comics fan into a comics reader. I hit graduate school and its enforced personal poverty at about the time that one could go to the comics shop on any given week and -- with some latitude to include a Vertigo title here and there, and maybe Cerebus -- walk out with one or two non-superhero periodical comic books of decent to high quality. Thus for the first time in my life the comics I wanted cost exactly as much money as I had to spend. I wasn't buying a big ol' pile of four-color fun for a weekly fantasy wallow, and I wasn't pining for an experience I couldn't have. I was buying specific books and individual creators at the point of their release. The weekly trips to either Moondog's or (usually) Halley's Comix proved to be welcome alone time away from class in Evanston. Those trips became a part of a wider arts experience in the same way that taking a cab to the Lincoln Center in New York can be part of a night of theatre. I had become a patron of the comic book shop rather than its booster.

imageComics seemed around Chicago a lot back then, at least more than I had been used to anywhere else and certainly more than in the small Virginia town where I studied as an undergraduate. I had gone from a washed-out comics Kansas to a full-blown, four-color Oz. I was buying everything I wanted from first-rank comics shops instead of struggling to find one or two things off of a spinner rack. Chris Ware had just started in New City; the Reader still ran its old-school alt-comics and a few scattered pieces by people like Heather McAdams. There were conventions and occasional gallery openings -- I once sold beer to art patrons mulling around among paintings by Mitch O'Connell. Special events could be fun as far as they went. I hit the Chicago convention a couple of times. I met Robert Crumb at a mid-year show out by the same Chicago airport, a strangely alternatives-forward show where I bought comics from Larry Reid at the Fantagraphics table and Denis Kitchen at the KSP set-up. Comics were a part of my weekly immersion in the arts the same way monthly openings at the World Tattoo were, or John Woo movies at the Music Box had become or plays at Prop Theater or any of the other experiences I was having. It wasn't all-comics, all the time; it was great comics given their time.

(I don't know that there's anything meaningful to it, but I was blissfully unaware of anything about the industry's politics during this entire period. The Comics Journal was too expensive for my meager budget considering what I perceived to be a slight step down in quality from the magazine's Golden era which at that point I marked from the Kirby controversy through Gary Groth's run of huge, masterful interviews with giants like Jules Feiffer, Crumb and Los Bros Hernandez. My perception of what was going on in comics was gleaned from rare comic shop conversations and what was happening on the stands – like I didn't knew who Andrew Rev was, but it was clear something was up with Comico. Looking back, I wonder if my relationship to comics wasn't just as meaningful for that ignorance.)

imageI've been going back to Chicago ever since to visit my brother or, from the time he retired until he passed away, to do things with my father. My dad dropped me off at the old Quimby's location on his way back to Indiana once; my brother and I hit the present Chicago Comics location for the first time after I left graduate school. I went to a couple of Chicago comics shows while working in Seattle. Conventions and proto-comics stores were how I primarily experienced Chicago as a comics town when I was a kid, so this felt more like a connection to that time than my post-college years. My memory of the 1990s Chicago shows is meeting a few people for the first time while there (like Grass Green, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld), Hart Fisher cursing really loudly, Steven Hughes' striking presence in that long line of twenty-something kids with long hair with whom he was signing books, having maybe the strangest lunch ever with Susan Alston and Al Simmons, and I swear talking about European comics with Rob Liefeld's wife. I haven't been back to a Chicago convention since the first Wizard effort, which was more of a mulligan before they really went to work on the place. Over the years, Moondog's closed, Halley's closed, even Larry's on Devon -- a formidable and idiosyncratically run old-school shop to which hundreds of kids all over the Midwest made a destination trip at some point in their young lives; imagine Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory if there were no hope for ownership and Wonka were played by Harry Dean Stanton -- closed. Dan Clowes, who once wrote one perfect Chicago strip after another, moved west. The University of Chicago produced at least two cartoonists of note: Ivan Brunetti and Jessica Abel. Chris Ware moved papers and then moved papers. Chicago Comics walked up the street a few blocks, lost an Eric and purchased Quimby's.

imageThe point to all of this is that with my brother moving to Los Angeles, that very well may have been my last time spending several non-vacation regular workdays in Chicago, or maybe any significant time at all. So I wanted to say thank you to the wider comics community and retail landscape that helped me streamline my passion for comics into the wider interests of an adult, arts-interested life. I also wanted to point out that while spending an inordinate amount of time this trip hitting comic book shops and seeing cartoons everywhere -- walking around town became my default exercise activity -- it seemed to me that Chicago as a comics town is in the midst of a comeback. Chris Ware is as esteemed as any local writer or artist. People love Alex Ross, too, in a distanced but respectful way that reminds me of how people used to speak of Chester Gould living and working nearby. I saw one comic book store opened up a short walk from the location of Larry's long-gone hole in the wall, with stock that would have made it one of the three greatest shops I had ever visited if I had seen it back in 1991, and saw signs of another shop from a successful chain reportedly about to open just a bit further away. I heard about a shop opening near Arturo's over by Damen and Western and Milwaukee that sounded like it was making a minor religion of hand-selling. I shopped several times at a consistently high-performing Chicago Comics store, Jordan in '93, and thought briefly each visit about purchasing their shrink-wrapped block of every single issue of Walt Simonson's Thor run. I bought a Sunday Sun-Times in addition to a Tribune for the first time ever because Cul De Sac runs in the Sun-Times. Someone on the El that saw me reading some editorial cartoons boasted that they used to work with Bill Mauldin. I saw a Hairy Who presentation in the Art Institute's library with more than a few Dan Nadel notations and laughed at the two R. Crumbs the museum space had hanging near a George Grosz in one of the I think permanent exhibits, about two hundred yards from a massive painting by Lyonel Feininger.

imageThat's not to say everything seemed healthy. The Tribune's Sunday comics section was printing their features the smallest I'd ever seen in a major newspaper. There's still no real equivalent to Moondog's, that high-end chain in a prime downtown retail locations (Graham Crackers comes closest), at least none that I saw (the Moondog's location I used to visit was house one of the city's many pizza joints named Ranalli's). I found excuses not to visit Quimby's, which has happened more often than not the last few times I've been to the Windy City and can't be a good thing for a store like that. The Borders locations I visited look like sick relatives putting on a brave face during Thanksgiving holiday, with fewer comics and less vigorous presentation, at least to my eye. Overall, though, it seemed that people in Chicago were interested in buying and looking at and even occasionally talking about comics in a way I don't think was true during any other visit I'd made in the last 15 years. It was a good comics trip.

As a result of all this good will and multiple, near-daily opportunity, I bought more comic books in two weeks than I had the last two years, enjoying the thrill of stepping into a shop and spending a few dollars and taking some sort of comic book home. I'm more convinced than ever that comics retail is there to create business as much as facilitate what's already there, and I hope that efforts to open more stores in the months ahead proceed cautiously and vigorously. Having lived five years in a town without a comic book store, I find it incredibly easy to be seduced by them. Chicago isn't New York or Los Angeles when it comes to being a comics town, but I think it's more representative of the country between the coasts than any other city west of Jersey and east of Palm Desert. A resurgent Chicago, the greatest arts city in the world in terms of its audience not being a busload of tourists or a motley collection of friends and family members, would have to be a good sign of comics' immediate future. One only hopes the major players don't eventually kick over the lamp.
 
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Go, Look: Rediscovering Ron Cobb

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thanks, Shane
 
posted 4:07 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Did Sine Blow Off Hebdo Hearing?

He just may have. Although there's enough in the way of basic factual difference from what we've already heard to cast the article in doubt, it states that the cartoonist facing charges of anti-Semitism from an editorial in Charlie Hebdo, the magazine from which he was then fired, stayed home to work on his Charlie Hebdo competitor. Instead, his lawyers showed up to present a list of witnesses they'll be calling, and the next hearing was set for January. Maurice Sine Sinet is facing the charges because of statements about the son of Nicholas Sarkozy he says were clearly intended as satirical humor.
 
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Go, Read: Maurice Sendak Profile

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Go, Look: More Bowie Sketchbook

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Go, Look: More Rufus and Flook

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* our pals at Isotope have announced a call for submissions in the 2008 version of their award for excellence in mini-comics.

* the cartoonist Ben Towle has the table layout for the forthcoming Small Press Expo. I've been meaning to go back to SPX for quite some time. Although at one time I was more in favor of moves and strategy that would have made that event more of a festival and less of a small press show, it's certainly thrived to the point where I was likely very, very wrong.

image* speaking of conventions, James Owen has an entertaining map comparison of San Diego's Comic-Con, then and now. I want to go to the Moebius table.

* the prominent blogger Dirk Deppey weighs in on that deeply stupid story about DC recalling a Batman comic because there are dirty words in it. I guess if there's an angle that hasn't been explored, it might be either a) Frank Miller's reaction given his long-ago complaints about censorship at the big companies, b) how printing a word and then putting a block over it is totally freaking weird beyond anything any of us has ever heard before and all other speculative threads should be stopped while we all sit around and marvel over the sublime goofiness of this practice. Is someone pulling our leg here? Because this sounds insane. Do they perhaps fully delineate Superman's hogan and then draw his costume over it? Is this why an Action Comics issue was rumored to be pulped as well? Do we have a new explanation whenever a comic is late involving inking and body hair? Is this why Aquaman has never been late? Comics is strange.

* I've thought about accepting applications for an intern, but I barely do any work myself let alone create so much spillover work as to occupy another person, so you'd really just be coming over and talking about comics. Does anyone out there want to come over and talk about comics and watch White Shadow re-runs on Hulu.com with me? If so, please

* people keep writing me to say that they're selling Watchmen at Target, and that this fine North American retailer and I would guess butt of various Larry the Cable Guy jokes doesn't otherwise sell comic books. Speaking of Watchmen, Alexandre Su wrote in to remind me that international editions of such books are common; what isn't common is offering them in North America. I had expressed some puzzlement about this yesterday, and jokingly suggested the international edition of Watchmen was like the international edition of Monopoly or had to be read with a Pepe Le Pew accent.

* I found this review to be hilarious.

* finally, if these two stories are any indication, Aron Head is going to blog only about items of fervent fan discussion from 1995: being ashamed of your comics reading, winnowing one's comic book collection.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Rod Whigham!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Ben Towle!

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Quick hits
Craft
Bryan Lee O'Malley Makes A Page

Exhibits/Events
On Comics At Bumbershoot

Industry
On Humanoides/Devil's Due
More On Downsizing At Virgin

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: Garth Ennis
Comic Riffs: Jim Borgman
Newsarama: Matt Wagner
Bookslut: Lauren Weinstein
PWCW: Pat Mills, Kevin O'Neill

Not Comics
Star Trek is Archie Bunker-Aged

Publishing
PWCW on The Stand Project

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Jog: Blurred Vision, Vol. 4
Noah Berlatsky: Nana Vol. 5
Matthew Brady: Wolverine: Saudade
Shannon Smith: Good Minnesotan #2
Mel Odom: Checkmate: A King's Game
Craig Fischer: jean qui rit et jean qui pleure
Marc Singer: Love & Rockets: New Stories #1
Sean T. Collins: Don't Go Where I Can't Follow
Rob Clough: Graphic Classics: Ambrose Bierce
Andrew Wheeler: A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child
 

 
September 10, 2008


This Isn't A Library: New and Notable Releases to the Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that jump out at me from this week's probably mostly accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here -- I might not buy any -- but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick up the following and look them over, and as a result, my retailer and I might don giant robot suits and fight one another.

*****

JUL080108 FINAL CRISIS REVELATIONS #2 (OF 5) $3.99
Five years from now I think we'll look back and laugh on this extended period where comics frequently came out with obtuse titles right alongside the ones where you could kind of tell what they were about. We'll need something to e-mail about in our new non-comics industry jobs.

JUL088045 WATCHMEN TP INTERNATIONAL EDITION $19.99
I'm pretty sure this is a version where Rorshach speaks with an out-sized French accent and Nite Owl is called Athene Noctua, the goofiness of which is what affects his libido. Actually, I'm absolutely certain this isn't the case, and instead this a version of the freakishly hot-selling decades-old book that is somehow directed to non-US markets. Whether or not the work needs such an edition, I can't imagine it took them a whole lot of time to greenlight one.

JUL082409 ETERNALS BY JACK KIRBY TP BOOK 02 $24.99
I'm not sure why this was split into two parts given the whole thing is probably less than 400 pages, but there are 50 reasons why no one asks my publishing advice. Anyway: good comics, although I think there's a traceable decline between the material in the first volume and the material in this one.

JUL082393 OMEGA THE UNKNOWN PREM HC $29.99
Hey, this series was really pretty good. Reading it for five minutes a month over a year's time, I think it was about the advance of adult concerns and tedium on childhood, but I'll need to read it again to know if that's ridiculous or if I was onto something. Probably the former.

JUL082328 PATSY WALKER HELLCAT #3 (OF 5) $2.99
I'm only slightly confused that I like this.

JUL084309 AMERICAN WIDOW HC $22.00
A long memoir of a year in the life after 9/11. It didn't make an impression on a first reading, but I'm diving back in over the weekend.

JUL084001 PRINCE OF PERSIA GN $16.95
This would be the book of the week on most non-Majority Of Gilbert Shelton's Entire Career Output Wednesdays, although I guess there's Krazy Kat to consider as well. A potential breakout or, I guess, a potential setback for First Second. They've gone the classy route with this multi-media property tie-in, that's for certain.

JUL084140 FREAK BROTHERS OMNIBUS TP (MR) $35.00
The book of the week, I'd say, as it's one of the all-time great comic book series collected in a giant single volume. Quite the bargain, too.

JUL083994 KRAZY & IGNATZ TP 1943 1944 HE NODS QUIESCENT SIESTA $19.99
Here's the most serious challenger to the Freak Brothers book: the final days of the greatest comic of all time, given that series' usual classy treatment.

JUN083972 SIXTEEN MILES TO MERRICKS & OTHER WORKS SC $29.95
This debut book looks interesting.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back and probably a bit high, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock.

If I didn't list your new comic, please try writing me shrill, insistent e-mails about my failures. That always works.

*****
*****
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Update on Zapiro/Zuma Cartoon Flap

The great thing about the news story on Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro's cartoon depicting various South African political entities holding down the justice system for a potential raping by well-known, powerful ANC official Jacob Zuma is that everything seems parceled out in bite-sized chunks. The Freedom of Expression Institute terms the cartoon strong but acceptable. One of the named political parties asks for an apology. Zapiro's newspaper supports its artist. Jacob Zuma may file another lawsuit, this one specifically tied to the new cartoon. Here's a bit more on the political tussle that led to the cartoon. All news stories should be this sweetly compartmentalized.
 
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Go, Read: Jim Borgman's Goodbye

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If I Were In Missouri, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Home Wanted By A Baby

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Go, Look: A Message From Bill Ayers

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Go, Look: Three By John Stanley

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Go, Look: Handy Man From Timbuctoo

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posted 8:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* so as a number of you have written in to tell me, the reason why the latest issue of All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder was recalled was because there were visible curse words. Apparently, instead of using nonsense words for foul language, the comic prints them and then blocks them out, kind of the comics equivalent of bleeping over language on family-timeslot TV shows. This time you could still read the words. You can look at photos of the offending panels here. So: no naughty words for a Batman funnybook for whatever reason. Also, one person tells me that this week's Action Comics was pulped as well.

image* the strip-focused blogger Alan Gardner notes that W.T. Duck was launched into print syndication this week by Universal. He explains some of that feature's back story. You can see the strip's on-line resource page here. I find that approach to panel lines very odd.

* the mainstream American comics-oriented comics site Newsarama has news of some of Marvel's post-Secret Invasion plans that were revealed at the Diamond retailer summit: a crossover event called "Dark Reign," a Mark Millar-written title in the Ultimate Marvel part of their publishing empire, and a teaser image from an anniversary issue of one-time, long-time flagship Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel has developed a strong sales position in serial comics over competitor DC by rolling out a constant series of company-wide crossovers and then goosing individual groups or titles within its publishing reach with special titles and events. The result has been an enviable sales dominance marked by contributions from any number of properties in the company's line.

* finally, the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, a site that posts a number of cartoons and related illustrations through it popular web site, is raising money to increase its ability to post such imagery. I hope you'll consider joining me in sending them a few bucks.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 62nd Birthday, Jackie Estrada!

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Gerry Conway!

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Political Cartoonists at SPX
Comics at New Yorker Festival
More From Decatur Book Festival
Photos From Show In Pennsylvania
Report From Show In Pennsylvania

History
On the FantaCo Chronicles
On Being an Intern at Mid-'90s Marvel

Interviews/Profiles
ComicMix: Charles Kochman
AudioShocker: Chris Giarrusso

Publishing
American Widow Project Profiled

Reviews
Douglas Wolk: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Jog: Afro Samurai Vol. 1
He Loves Harvey Comics
Derik A Badman: Various
Matt Springer: Aqua Leung
Dave Ferraro: Red Colored Elegy
Chris Allen: Strange and Stranger
Michael May: Flight Explorer Vol. 1
 

 
September 9, 2008


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

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There's not a lot of publishing news to report this week, at least not a lot of which I'm aware, so I ask your indulgence as I use the column to mention a pair of projects from a single creator: one that's slipped out almost without my noticing it and one that's coming in late 2009 or early 2010. The boxed set of Tony Fitzpatrick's long love letter to and meditation on Chicago in a series of portraits and poems, The Wonder is now available from La Luz De Jesus and Last Gasp. Fitzpatrick doesn't consider himself a cartoonist -- and rightly so, as he doesn't make cartoons -- but his themed presentations of ideas about physical spaces and their potential meanings are so obviously close enough to the way we understand how comics work (a visual-verbal blend, the development of an idea within and between images) that you can't exclude them. Plus they're quite lovely so even if you had to you'd be forgiven making an allowance on their behalf.

The other news is that Fitzpatrick is far along in working on a follow-up -- probably for a specific New York publisher this time around, one that showed interest in the third Portraits book that concluded The Wonder -- about the city of New Orleans in its post-Katrina state. Fitzpatrick is clearly inspired by the cultures that inform that city but it's worth noting he also enjoyed his first great commercial art success providing the cover to the Neville Brothers' album Yellow Moon. From the looks of the very rough preview I've seen, that may be more of an illustrated work when completed than a series of images with poetry infused into them, although there's plenty of such imagery, too. Whatever it looks like in final form it will almost certainly be worth reading.

image above from the third Portraits series
 
posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Sine LICRA Hearing In Lyon Today?

I think this may be the day that the cartoonist Maurice "Sine" Sinet, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, is being brought in front of a tribunal in Lyon by the Ligue Contre le Racisme et l'Antisemitisme for comments in a July 2 editorial about the son of the French President converting to Judaism in order to facilitate marriage with his girlfriend. Sine was subsequently fired from Charlie Hebdo and his story has become a bit of an international affair due to a combination of historical anti-Semitism in France, the presence of the Sarkozy family at the center of the story, and the irony from Charlie Hebdo winning a case brought against it based on their reaction to the Danish Muhammed caricatures. This article confuses me a bit because it talks about two cartoons: one I thought was an essay and one I'd never heard of before.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Retailing Issues: The Rush To Ship

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has re-opened the issue of early shipping for comics products, with about a half-dozen retailers weighing in on that original piece. I'm not sure this particular discussion is specifically interesting in any way, but the general failure of the Direct Market to get past its policy of a mad scramble to put product on the shelf by sending it to stores day of, essentially giving them no opportunity to plan for what's come and what didn't, remains endlessly fascinating to me. It's basically a market that bases a fundamental part of its business on the widespread and nearly absolute expectation that a significant number of its retailers will routinely cheat a potentially better system and that even with pretty much a single distributor no one is willing to enforce a change in the way things are done. Imagine a movie system or a world of television where we weren't always sure what movies would open or what TV shows would be on until two days before or even day of.

I'm likely to receive criticism for saying so, but this has always been one of those things, like the publishers not taking that last step to have a disciplined and rational release of material across the weeks of a month or retailers again not willing to participate in some industry-wide advocacy that might lead to a competitive store in their area, that makes it hard to feel bad when a system loses sales to on-line or different brick-and-mortar retail avenues.

image* here's yet another semi-baffling issue unless you spend enough time in comics to become accustomed to this sort of thing: rumors abound that a naughty word in the crazy-ass All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder series may have led to that book being recalled. Something seems not quite right about this story, and while I think it's funny more than tragic that DC occasionally recalls comics either post-printing or later in the distribution process, it's always a little alarming when someone on the airplane develops a nosebleed. Anyway, while I haven't a clue as to what it would be, I wouldn't be surprised if something additionally weird was going on here -- if nothing else, it seems pretty late in the process for DC to notice something goofy considering how early other such incidents were caught. To the wider point, one has to think a more rational way of releasing material to market would better insulate retailers against losing such and such comic on such and such week. Although it's not like the title in question ever came out regularly enough to inspire a recurring sense of consumer expectation.
 
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Strong Zapiro Cartoon Draws Ire

imageThe much-lauded South African cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro is back in the news for work that features the politician Jacob Zuma. This time it's a picture of the politician preparing to rape the justice system, and the controversy seems to break down along the lines of whether or not the chosen visual imagery is too strong or even racist in nature. It also seems to be driving people into comes that one might expect from a cursory knowledge of the issue: the people being depicted don't like the image much; fellow cartoonists suggest the imagery is more than justified. Zapiro defends the work here. The cartoon appeared on Sunday and is apparently the talk of Johannesburg. There may be an audio interview with Zapiro I can't get to here. In case you'd forgotten, Zuma was sued in 2006 for cartoons about Zuma's rape trial.
 
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Go, Look: Naps of Polly Sleepyhead

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Go, Look: RW Alley

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Go, Bookmark: David Lasky and Frank Young's Carter Family Project Blog

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Go, Read: The Onion Sisters

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a happy 50th to the great Gil Thorp. I've always enjoyed Jack Berrill's square-jawed and greatly economic soap opera set among the various sports teams at mythical Milford High, and although I've enjoyed his various successors much less than I enjoyed Berrill, they've managed to maintain their audience's general level of interest in the strip in a way that I think just having the Berrill material out there somewhere would not.

image* two fun pieces up by Shaenon Garrity: beautiful scans from Noboru Ohshiru's Kasei Tanken, and a look at the campus art and photo evidence left behind by fellow Vassar graduate Anne Cleveland. My hope has been that Cleveland will do an interview with Garrity, although I think there's only a slim chance of this happening, even slimmer if she's passed away since I last checked. I think I might disagree with Garrity's assertion that Cleveland should have been more prolific. I haven't double-checked, but I remember my initial thought looking at her bibliography was that it was about the size of what you might expect from an artist with her apparent level of publishing success, especially if there's work that doesn't appear on such a list.

* for two people to send me to this cool animation by Imiri Sakabashira indicates to me someone major out there had it recently. I apologize to that person. Still: cool animation featuring work by an underrated cartoonist. I think it starts playing whether you like it or not.

* finally, Newsarama has a nice, short interview with longtime comics retailer Joe Field of ComicsPro about the prospects of selling comics in a down economy. He makes a couple of points that I hadn't thought about before, and reinforces my thoughts on a couple of points, and overall I hold to my idea that the conventional wisdom that comics have done well in economic down times is wishful thinking rather than a reality. A problem with writing about the prospects for the Direct Market of comics and hobby shops in a down economy is that the DM has only experienced maybe one as a mature market without hugely extenuating circumstances. The most recent recession came just after a period of very specific -- and largely self-inflicted -- economic trauma within comics that's going to skew any results. I was surprised there wasn't more on how the DM might be more (or less) insulated from general economic trauma than the bookstore market. Two distinct market avenues seems to me as big a factor as the different price points available now and maybe once upon a time -- damage to the general distribution system would be a good guess as to how comics really took it during economic down times in the mid-'50s and early-'70s poorly.
 
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Quick hits
Craft
Is Kim Deitch Great or Awful?
On Color and Precision in PBF
Long Piece on McCloud's Chrome Comic

Exhibits/Events
R. Crumb Exhibit Story
Report From Decatur Book Festival 01
Report From Decatur Book Festival 02

History
On Milton Caniff's Seminal Influence

Industry
Alison Bechdel on FBOFW New-Runs

Interviews/Profiles
A.D. Project Profiled
Garen Ewing: David O'Connell
Diamond Bookshelf: Jay Lynch, Eleanor Davis, Dean Haspiel

Not Comics
Alan Moore Defends Rational Thought
Movie-Related Link Someone Was Nice Enough To Submit

Publishing
Eat Our Dust, Dave Sim
MAD Political Issue Previewed

Reviews
Rob Clough: Various
Brian Hibbs: Various
Jog: Slam Dunk Vol. 1
Tucker Stone: Various
Kevin Church: Various
Rob Clough: Comic Art
John Mitchell: Bluesman
Richard Krauss: Hickee #4
Richard Bruton: Crossed #0
Isaac Cates: Freddie and Me
Michael Re: American Widow
John Mitchell: Gentleman Jim
John Mitchell: The Surrogates
Michael C. Lorah: The Alcoholic
Paul Gravett: Why I Killed Peter
Jeff Lemire: Love & Rockets Vol. 3 #1
Shannon Smith: Shitbeams on the Loose
Richard Bruton: Too Cool To Be Forgotten
Steve Duin: Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles
Chris Sims: Zot! 1987-1991: The Complete Black and White Stories
 

 
September 8, 2008


Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* al-Qaeda representatives have made another tape threatening Denmark for reprisal over the 2005 publication and subsequent occasional re-publication of cartoons caricaturing Muhammed in the pages of various newspapers. The group earlier claimed responsibility for the bombing of Denmark's embassy in Islamabad.

* what's happened since to Ahmed Akkari.

* the Chicago Tribune does a summary article on The Jewel of Medina, if anyone out there in comics-land is still interested in this non-comics related incident revolving a prose novel.
 
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Go, Read: Little Ideological Annie

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one of the best writers on comics on one of the most fascinating aspects of one of the all-time comics.
 
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Newspaper Comics Fans Look To Opus and Berke Breathed For Signs And Clues

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Comics as apparently end-focused as yesterday's Opus cartoon should only intensfy the slight but persistent buzzing that some sort of news on the immediate fate of Berke Breathed's Sunday-only feature may be due. Opus is a more direct sequel to one of the sales and popularity juggernauts of the 1980s, Bloom County, and was the artist's third strip after the more immediate, sort-of sequel Outland. While news of the popular cartoonist and children's book author's return with a strip named after his most popular chaeracter was met with great fanfare, the specially formatted strip has not quite become the sales juggernaut and rallying factor many had figured it might.

It was mentioned back in May that Breathed suffers from a mild amount of spastic torticollis, which has already worked its way into the flurry of e-mails I've received this morning asking me if I know anything (I don't). I guess Alan Gardner has talked about the rumors recently as well.
 
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Go, Look: The Terrors of the Tiny Tads

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Go, Look: The Woo Woo Bird

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Go, Look: Matthias Lehmann

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the latest issue of Dark Horse Presents on MySpace features both Achewood and Beanworld.

image* the cartoonist Jim Borgman emphasizes that he's not retiring, just reducing what was a pretty staggering workload. Certainly the story isn't Borgman's reduced workload -- he's successful enough he should be able to set his own hours and priorities at this point -- but that Borgman is a singularly successful cartoonist in a modest-sized market, and the way he's been embraced by Cincinnati has always been a model for a newspaper-cartoonist relationship. It's sort of like finding out Cartoon Dad and Cartoon Mom still love each other and will stay married, but Cartoon Dad is going to be living in the gatehouse.

* the great Ben Katchor will make a rare modern-day convention appearance at the 2008 Small Press Expo (SPX).

* is it really this difficult to find comics for kids? I'm not doubting the writer, just doubting the priorities of the world in which someone like him gets to operate. I was at a social gathering over the weekend, and a lot of parents asked after comics for kids as if they were asking if they still made Tiny Mighty Mo's; there's something that's not quite connecting there.

* the writer and commentator Hervé St-Louis asks after what Marvel does with its potentially privacy-law troublesome information, and again why they wouldn't be forthcoming about such plans given such laws.

* finally, a 20-year-old book begins a not very severe slide down the sales charts. I'm not sure that any of us have a handle on how completely weird this story is. Speaking of Watchmen, have I already linked to this? I think I have, but I'm not certain.
 
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Go, Look: Marvel Bullpen Pics

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Quick hits
Craft
Oh Yeah

History
On Bill Mauldin

Interviews/Profiles
3 AM: Peter Bagge
Pulse: Frank Cammuso
Mr. Media: Alan Gardner
Inkstuds: Trevor Alixopulos
Newsarama: Roger Langridge
Blog@Newsarama: Ernie Colon, Sid Jacobson
Comic Book Talk Radio: Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey

Not Comics
Teacher Raising Money For Comics Textbook

Publishing
Visiting Boom!
The Martian Confederacy Previewed

Reviews
Chris Mautner: Various
Katherine Farmar: Death Note
Sean T. Collins: MOME Vol. 12
Sarah Morean: The Mousehole
Ed Sizemore: Haruka Vols. 1-2
Davide Beretta: Aya of Yop City
Sean T. Collins: Wet Moon Vol. 2
Steve Higgins: Funeral of the Heart
Greg McElhatton: Swallow Me Whole
Allan Holtz: Little Orphan Annie Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: In Odd We Trust
Greg McElhatton: Suburban Glamour Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Why I Hate Saturn
Johanna Draper Carlson: Monkey High Vol. 3
Brigid Alverson: Real Vol. 1, Slam Dunk Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: The Twilight Zone: The After Hours
 

 
September 7, 2008


CR Sunday Interview: John Pham

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*****

With his new, twice-yearly omnibus SUBLIFE, the young cartoonist John Pham attempts that most difficult of artistic achievements: recalibrating one's artistic voice after having already made an early, promising impression. Pham was one of a small group of exciting cartoonists to emerge at the beginning of this decade. Immediately noticed for his self-published work, he was in the original MOME line-up as well. The work in SUBLIFE can be difficult and challenging as Pham delves into cartooning influences far removed from the surface pleasures of his earliest comics. The major serial (or many serials that will come to share space in future volumes of SUBLIFE) in the debut issue, "221 Sycamore St," eases us into the lives of a handful of city residents bound by familial relationships or geographical proximity. What sounds like it could be a slog bounces along livened by a unique take on tiered comics pages and a loopy sense of humor that surfaces in various surprising ways. I was happy he agreed to talk to me. I hadn't heard from him in a while. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: My first question would be the obvious one: where have you been and what have you been up to? I think there are a number of people familiar with your self-published work and the Epoxy Press stuff that maybe haven't followed you into the comics that have come since. How did the first part of your career come to a close, and what have you been doing in broad terms in the years between then and now?

JOHN PHAM: I've been here, in Los Angeles, still toiling away on comics. Just really slowly. I guess for the last few years I've been juggling the comics work -- most of which appeared in early issues of MOME -- with so-called commercial work. I also went through some serious, heavy personal stuff which kinda took the wind out of my sails for a while.

Once I was done with issue three of Epoxy, I sort of took some time off serious comics work in order to reexamine what I was doing. This was convenient because I was getting a lot of commercial jobs that provided a reasonable and consuming distraction. While doing those jobs, I worked in my sketchbook, made the Substitutelife, Mildred Lee, and the Gay mini's... I looked at the Epoxy issues and I was pretty unsatisfied with them. With the exception of maybe Modesto, I didn't feel like I could fully commit to continuing any of those stories. I didn't even like the title "Epoxy"; it sounded like the name of some dumb graphic design studio.

It was around this time that a Canadian graphic design studio called "Epoxy" contacted me, threatening to litigate for the trademark. I wanted to fight for it on principle, but I hated the name anyway, so fuck 'em. They can keep it if it means that much to them.

It actually kinda worked out well; it gave me a chance and excuse to start over with a new title, which got me excited about doing comics again. I was able to think about the Epoxy stuff as something that was effectively done, in the past, all wrapped up. I was approached by Eric and Gary to be in MOME, and I said sure. I thought I could contribute to the anthology while doing my own solo thing, but I soon figured out that wasn't really a possibility.

Which relates to my working slowly. For the years following Epoxy, I got used to working so slowly, approaching the real comics work as sort of low on the priority totem pole... The commercial and miscellaneous work had hard and fast deadlines, so those had to get done. On top of it all was the personal upheaval I was experiencing at the time, and it made for a bad mix, comics productivity-wise.

I was stoked to be in MOME, though, and happy to at least have some sort of outlet for my comics while I was working my way through some tough times. After I think the second issue, I drove up to Seattle with my good friend Jason Shiga and asked Eric [Reynolds] and Gary [Groth] if they would publish a solo book by me. I told them if they didn't I would let Jason loose on them. And that's how SUBLIFE came about.

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SPURGEON: Talk about that initial conception of SUBLIFE. Did you see it as a longer work in a series of longer works -- ? I mean, I think it's a first volume. Did you see it as a book series or as a comics anthology? How crystallized was it when you brought it to Fanta and what changed between conception and execution?

PHAM: I originally wanted it to be a pamphlet series, 24 pages each, maybe three times a year. The idea of a regular deadline -- like what MOME provided -- was attractive to me. Gary suggested a 100-page, once-a-year annual format. Our compromise was to do maybe two issues a year, at about 48 pages each, squarebound. That would make them similar in size and format to Jason's books.

Unlike Jason's books, however, the series will be an anthology, with serialized longer work, standalone stories, and one-pagers rounding out each issue.

I originally wanted the first book to be about 72 pages. That got pared down to 64 due to technical printing stuff. So there's a bunch of material that was done for issue one that will end up in issue two. Mostly one pagers, short stories, gags. The one backup strip that did make it to the first issue, "Deep Space" was an afterthought. I wanted to do a strip that was different in tone and style to the "221 Sycamore St" serial, just to sort of balance the whole comic out. I did that strip in a bit of a fever in order to get it done in time to print, but it turned out okay I think. I'm actually really eager to continue it.

SPURGEON: Before I start hitting you with questions about the work, I was told you were about the happiest cartoonist anyone could recall seeing to have the unbound copies of SUBLIFE at San Diego. Or at least you were far happier than anyone has ever been to have unbound copies. Is it good to have this book out, to start this series? Are you excited about the prospect of doing regular comics work for a while?

PHAM: Yep, I was genuinely happy and relieved to finally see my book, unbound or not. I had been agonizing for months over how it would print and it was such a great thing to see that the printers hadn't majorly screwed anything up. In fact, all the fuck-ups in the book are mine alone, and they are very minor.

Specifically, I was concerned about how the colors would mix, whether this printer would be able to process the weird layout technique I employed to separate the two inks I was using. I was using new colors I hadn't used before, so I wasn't sure how those would print. Plus, I did really small, delicate foil stamping on the cover, which I wasn't sure would hold, or even look good. The binding wasn’t so much an issue or question mark for me.

But seeing all those other unknowns coalesce perfectly into this little object was a joy for me and represented the release of great, months-long pent up personal tension, which I guess sounds kind of gross, but yeah, it was happy times.

As far as doing more widely published comics work, I'm not sure if excited is the word...I'm definitely eager, and a little nervous. I'm concerned about being able to still juggle this commercial-work crap with producing SUBLIFE at a reasonable pace. I can only hope to do my best.

SPURGEON: Talk to me a bit about the "Sycamore St" serial. I guess the dopiest question is to ask after its conception and if it relates to any shared-living experiences you've had in the past. If so -- I guess also if not -- what is it about that kind of experience that made you want to work with it in a comics narrative?

PHAM: I have not had a shared living experience like the one in the story, no. There isn't a whole lot that is in the story that's been experienced by me first-hand, technically. But I did do a lot of research.

I don't want to get into the specifics of why this shared-living situation is in the story. I think I may have had some reasons when I came up with it, but they've either changed or have been forgotten by now. Or maybe they're too embarrassing to list. Who knows?

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SPURGEON: Can I ask what the research entailed?

PHAM: Just the usual stuff. I read a bunch of books, interviewed some people. Drove around and took pictures. I interviewed some friends who were coke users, as well as a Southerner who was raised as a segregationist. I read a bunch of books about White Supremacists and their ilk. The story is set in Los Angeles so just living here can be seen as equal parts research and inspiration.

There's still a lot of research to be done, but I usually try to save it for right when it is about to be relevant to story.

SPURGEON: Let me ask you this, then. I just did a panel at the San Diego where Rutu Modan and Eddie Campbell talked about working with characters in their longer works. They indicated they didn't know the characters until they had done some pages about them, which meant that they were frequently different in later appearances in that comic than in their initial appearance. "221 Sycamore St" is presented to us as a series of character studies, or at least arranged that way. Have you experienced any change in your attitudes towards these characters as you work to put their stories in comics form. More generally, how has getting some work under your belt changed your plans for the work ahead, or do you adhere closely to original plans?

PHAM: The story is always changing. New themes and ideas present themselves all the time, the real challenge for me as a writer is to try to keep the whole work somewhat coherent while being flexible enough to work in the changes. I didn't even really know what the story was about when I began to write it. I thought I could get a handle on it in the prep stage; I wrote lots of outlines and notes and leaned on my research heavily. But of course most of that stuff went out the window once the story began to progress.

So I try not to keep too tight a reign on things as I work on it. It's interesting how the story reveals itself to you as you sort of flail blindly through the some parts of the process.

I have to say, it's really tough to talk about this sort of thing because the work is still incomplete.

One of the things I've always loved about long, serialized comics work like Jimmy Corrigan, Peanuts, even superhero stuff, is the perceptible growth and change you can chart from the early pages of the strips all the way to when they mature. Even a dumb strip like Garfield., which I loved as a kid. You can see how characters were drawn differently, how the rhythms of the story sort of fluctuate, or how the themes have yet to crystallize. And then the work blossoms and solidifies; it gains its own sort of momentum and coherence in theme and style. And the great thing is the process is transparent, you can sort of experience the artist's discovery as they experience it.

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SPURGEON: The strip you mention... one of the striking things about your first issue is your use of elements of traditional cartoon shorthand: broken lines to indicate a line of sight, pictures rather than text in word balloons or thought balloons, floating imagery to indicate a state of mind, insets to draw attention to a specific element within a panel. How much thought do you give to the use of these elements? Is there a danger in overusing them? Are you cognizant of their effect on the narrative itself, the way they might communicate a kind of intrusion into the narrative by the author's voice? How do you view those techniques?

PHAM: If I get the opportunity, I'm pretty eager to use these devices. They usually have to come from a need in the story, like for instance when uncle A____ throws the house keys at Phineas, in the second half of the first issue. At their proper size in the panel, they are quite small and possibly unrecognizable as keys. So I almost had to draw that inset with the larger depiction. Dramatically speaking, I guess it makes the keys themselves more important too, which is true. And a lot of times using a cartooning device is just the most efficient way to depict something; it's shorthand, you’re right.

And I don't necessarily think of them as intrusions to the narrative. They're just storytelling tools. And if it reminds the reader that he/she is reading a cartoon, then even better!

I'm also trying to get away from the sort of filmic visual vocabulary that I used in my old stuff. At least with this strip, since I'd like it to feel more like it's got the texture and rhythms of a novel rather than a movie. But I do like the idea of presenting some of the situations in the story almost as a stage play. Instead of a roving camera and use of close-ups, just having a static background, with the characters entering stage left or right, full-figure. This way you can read a character's body language, and not just their faces. You get this sense of fixed distance from what's happening too, which is interesting. But I may be getting away from your original question here...

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SPURGEON: No, that's cool. In fact, that seems like a natural jumping off point into the question most people have asked me to ask you, which is about the general look of your comics now as opposed to your earlier work. Your work now seems to me pared down, much more stylized than representational, and your line seems more delicate than it might have been once upon a time. Can you talk about how you've developed the look you're using now, and what you feel your current styles brings to your comics that might not have been achievable with what you were doing five to seven years ago?

PHAM: I wasn't really happy with much of what I did in Epoxy, but the drawing style stood out most to me as garish, generic, technically flawed, and worst of all, inconsistent. I just didn’t have the chops to draw the way I wanted to. It felt like I was pandering to an extent, drawing in an accessible way, when what I really wanted to do was develop an idiosyncratic, personal style. So when I did the Substitute Life strip -- the one that's in that cardboard mini -- I decided to throw everything I had stupidly learned about comics up until that point away. I just tried to be a bit more honest and pure with the cartooning and while I'm not completely happy with the results, it was still a breakthrough for me. And I guess you can see where the style for that grew into the cartooning style I'm using nowadays.

I think when I started I was definitely aware that I was trying out different styles and channeling whatever cartoonists I was into at the moment. Looking back at some of the stuff now -- and it's painful, believe me -- I can see the heavy [Dan] Clowes and [Adrian] Tomine influence in "Modesto," my dumb version of a soft sci-fi Akira-esque world in "Shiva," and maybe an attempt at a watered down Paul Pope- and Frank Miller-type story with "Elephantine." The obvious, fatal flaw with a process like this is that the work tends to end up being just a weak dilution of the stuff that originally inspired it.

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SPURGEON: Is there anything to rebooting your style once you've been making comics for a while that's different than putting together influences early on? Are you perhaps more cognizant of overtly experimenting to get an effect, or is it perhaps even more subtle this time around, simply attempting to create in a certain way where the influences get pulled along in the attempt?

PHAM: Skimming over some of the Epoxy stuff now, it's like looking at my high school senior portrait.

And it's not so much experimenting so much as it is finding way of writing or drawing that I'm happy with, one that doesn't make me feel like a douche all the time. It's all terribly subjective and emotional, but that's okay, and I’d like to think that it is as simple as that. Right now I'm really happy with this thin line style that I'm using in SUBLIFE, at least in the latter half of that first issue. I really like how it helps accentuate the angularity and flatness of the drawing. Which may help with the panel to panel reading experience, whatever. So maybe I've finally found something that works for me, who knows?

SPURGEON: John, before we get too far away from it, and to make more explicit something we kicked around earlier in slightly obtuse fashion, how do you write? I get that you do research, but how do you take what you have to the page? For that matter, how much do you take to the page and how much develops on the page?

PHAM: It depends on the strip. With "Sycamore St," I try to keep it relatively structured. I'll generally write a few notes down as to where I want a particular section to go, then move to thumbnails, pencils, inks, etc. It's kind of an iterative process, so the final colored version of a page can sometimes differ entirely from the thumbnailed one, and the changes could have happened anywhere between the penciling stage to the lettering one.

With "Deep Space," it's pretty much made up as it goes along, section by section. Those pages were done in sequence, from one cluster of panels to another, without much planning or scripting in the traditional sense. It's a much more inconsistent way of working, as you'll notice that the tone of the strip changes drastically throughout. Which I guess can work for that particular story, since it's about two spacemen driven to near-insanity whose fortunes change by the end of the second page. The direction for that strip is pretty open ended, as opposed to the "Sycamore St" strip, where I'm attempting to present a much more crafted and structured narrative.

imageSPURGEON: I'd also be interested in hearing a little bit about how you structured certain pages in "Sycamore Street." You open with a sequence featuring a cat avoiding some dogs. I thought it compelling that you're sort of working with a grid pattern, but at the same time you're breaking it up with bigger, single panels, and the panels aren't exactly even or uniform between rows. Can you talk about the pacing of that sequence and the effect you get with the single panels and the way the panels don't correspond tier-to-tier the way they might on a traditional comics page?

PHAM: "Sycamore St" is set on a baseline three-tier structure. I did it for reasons that relate to the story, and it's a template I try not to deviate from too much. I know the book will be end up being long, maybe a few hundred pages long, and I want the reading experience to be as plain and uncomplicated as possible, since maybe the plot itself may end up being a bit convoluted. I don't want the reader to have to decipher what's going on in each individual page, they'll never make it to the end.

So I try to approach each tier as its own unit or sentence, which I guess makes each complete page like a paragraph. You'll also notice this prose-like conceit at the end of some of the sequences where the tier finishes short, like at the end of "The Sheet."

I try to keep the size of the panels within the tiers flexible, so it doesn't look like a grid, which I think would be distracting from the whole each-tier-is-a-unit idea. On the other hand, I'm not averse to breaking up the rows every once in a while, with title panels and such.

SPURGEON: What are you trying to achieve, then, on those rare occasions you break the tiered effect?

PHAM: It's a good way to slow the reader down and break up the monotony of the constant three tiers. And it's generally for important panels like the titles, the dream sequence, the isometric view of Terence's room, etc. Sometimes, however, I just need vertical space to show something, like when the cat gets blocked in the alleyway by that high wall.

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SPURGEON: The last scene in this issue, with the dog: it's slightly terrifying but at the same time it's also funny. And there's a lot of that in this first issue: the fact the Captain Joe Ho is doing his shift pantless, the catalog of smells that make Vrej happy, the relentlessly pathetic fantasy in which Hubie Winters indulges. There's a lot of humor here. What is it about that tension between pathos and humor that appeals to you? Are you cognizant of working that territory between our feeling for your characters and our laughing at them? Are there any risks to building characters that way?

PHAM: The humor usually comes as a logical outgrowth of some of the scenes. Sometimes it's shoehorned. Overall I guess its a modal way of telling a story that I think works well in some situations. I guess humor can be disarming on the surface level -- it entertains -- which makes it a good delivery system for anything you’d like to communicate, even if it’s a horribly offensive idea. Or even a really serious, profound one. Of course, this is hardly an original thought, as much older, deader guys have been using this mode in discourse since time immemorial. Plus, shitting, pissing and farting is always funny.

There is a danger in working this territory, and I recognize it. I'm really conscious of playing the racist MacDonald brothers for laughs too much, which I think would trivialize them, or worse, imply some sort of ironic stance I am taking with their portrayal. I don't necessarily want to distance myself from the white supremacists any more than I would any of my other characters since I'm extremely curious about exploring what makes them tick. And humor can be a good tool in this, but again, I don't want to lean on it too much.

SPURGEON: One more, then, just because I'm afraid if I don't ask I won't see you again for another five years: when is the next book due? What are the serials planned for it and how much should we see of each?

PHAM: Fantagraphics and I are trying to figure out whether a Spring '09 release would be feasible. I'm working on a four-month long commercial project right now that's sort of forced me to put issue #2 on the back burner -- what else is new? The good thing is I already have a bunch of stuff done for it, with the rest of it more or less mapped out. There will definitely be more self-contained smaller strips. There's a two-page memoir about my parochial school alma mater, a one-pager about the world's greatest baseball player, another one-pager about warring bloggers, a small installment of the "Sycamore St" serial, as well as another episode of "Deep Space." There will also be a medium length, self-contained post-apocalyptic story that's a bit of an experiment.

In all, it should total about 48 pages, squarebound. I'm excited about this issue because of the sheer variety of strips that will be included. Oh, and if I can plug a few of my other upcoming projects: my girlfriend Raina [Lee] and I are gearing up to publish 1-UP #4 -- a journal/zine about weird video game culture -- and we're rounding up submissions. I've also got a strip in the upcoming Kramers Ergot Vol. 7 that sort of relates to some of the events in the "Sycamore St" serial. And if you live in the LA area, please come to my mom's nail salon, it's called Linda's Nail Care, it's located on 8322 Wilshire Blvd, call 310-657-6078 for appointments.

*****

Sublife Vol. 1, John Pham, Fantagraphics, softcover, 64 pages, 9781560979463 (ISBN13), August 2008, $8.99

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all art from Sublife Vol. 1

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Five Link A Go Go

* not comics: Random Harlot Table

* go, look: photo of Saul Steinberg

* go, look: MODOK in love

* not comics: Zooey and Her Purple Crayon

* go, watch: John Lennon vs. Al Capp
 
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First Thought Of The Day

I don't think we've given the term "fumetto" the consideration it deserves as a possible international, borders-crossing word for comics, BD and manga.
 
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September 6, 2008


CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from August 30 to September 3, 2008:

1. New calls to boycott Danish food products based on offenses relating to the Muhammed caricatures published in 2005 and republished since.

2. Lynn Johnston moves into the "new-run" phase of her For Better or For Worse, basically doing new material from old storylines featuring the Patterson family.

3. Mark Siegel casually drops mention of rough First Second sales figures for recent books, bucking an industry-wide trend going back to Moses and his Canaan Comics line.

Winner Of The Week
Scott McCloud

Losers Of The Week
Anthony Haters

Quote Of The Week
"Mandarake's shares soared by 17 percent at one stage, prompting one Nomura analyst to declare the stock 'an obvious short for when the market starts thinking rationally again.'" -- Leo Lewis

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Quality
 
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If I Were In New Jersey, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This

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Happy 71st Birthday, Sergio Aragones!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Mike Zeck!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Go Nagai!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Dustin Harbin!

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September 5, 2008


Five For Friday Special -- Confessional

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Five For Friday Special -- Answer One of the Questions From Each of The Following Five Groups

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Favorites
1. What is your favorite stand-alone publication of the last five years?
2. What is your favorite ongoing serial comic that's published an installment in the last three months?
3. What is your favorite webcomic?
4. What is your favorite ongoing newspaper strip?
5. What is your favorite comics web site that is not a link- or commentary-blog?

Comic Shops
6. What's the best experience you've ever had in a comics shop?
7. What's the worst experience you've ever had in a comics shop?
8. List the names of the comics shops that have been your shop in your lifetime of buying comics.
9. If a comic shop has opened within 50 miles in the last two years, what exactly makes you think it will or won't survive until a fifth anniversary?
10. What is something you've done in a comics shop you're sorry happened?

Greats
11. Who is the Greatest Living Cartoonist?
12. Name the female cartoonist highest up in your personal pantheon.
13. Name the cartoonist with a non-white South American or African heritage highest up in your personal pantheon.
14. Who is the world's most under-appreciated cartoonist?
15. Name a cartoonist you know is great but whose work you find hard to enjoy.

Nostalgia
16. What was the first comic that you remember buying after the last time you stopped buying comics?
17. What comic do you plan to revisit one day?
18. Name a comic that was even better when you tracked it down than you remember it being the first time.
19. What is the worst comic in your collection that you keep for reasons other than its quality?
20. One word only: what is your primary non-comic association with comics?

Self-Improvement
21. What one site not your own or a friend's does CR not in your opinion cover near enough?
22. Name a comics figure this site has never interviewed you'd like to see interviewed.
23. Name a comics figure this site has interviewed you'd like to see interviewed again.
24. Name an under- or unreported news story from your perspective.
25. Name a resource this site could house that would be valuable to you.

Bonus Section: Not Comics
1. What is your favorite sandwich?
2. Name three US vice-presidents in the order that they occur to you.
3. Name a movie that shouldn't have been remade and a movie that should be.
4. Otto Graham, Joe Montana or Tom Brady?
5. If you could have any middle name in the world not "Bronislaw," what would it be?

*****

This subject is now closed. Please God, let it be closed.

The results will appear in this space next Friday.

*****
*****
 
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Friday Distraction: Golden Age Comics Downloads Site

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* new calls rise up during Ramadan to boycott Danish food products because of the Muhammed caricatures.

* a Danish publisher is in negotiations to buy Jewel of Medina, the novel dropped by Random House when some predicted violence as a result that would remind folks of the Danish Cartoons Controversy of early 2006.

* we are apparently losing the War against Islamofacism.

* this is the first I've heard of Bloody Cartoons. I think.

* one lecturer on a college campus is accused of stating that Flemming Rose, the editor of Jyllands-Posten involved of the original publication of the Muhammed caricatures, is Jewish.

* discussion of that Sheikh Said interview from earlier this summer where he talked about the Danish Cartoons.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
That Fresh New Comic Shop Smell...

By Tom Spurgeon

So I'm walking down the street the other day from Northwestern's Ryan Field to the place I'm staying in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago, when what do I come across but a new comic book shop in the neighborhood. Third Coast Comics opened up three weeks earlier than the time of my visit, meaning four weeks ago now, in the 6200 block of North Broadway. This is an unassuming part of a major north-south thoroughfare about four blocks west of Lake Michigan and three blocks south of Loyola University. I used to live two streets over.

I love comic book shops. Although I'm happy to criticize their excesses, argue against what I might feel are delusional statements from their owners and hammer the system that encourages both, my simple standard for why comic book shops are terrific is that if they didn't exist and then suddenly existed, I'm pretty sure the day they sprung into being would be considered the greatest day ever for comic book fans. Comic book shops have the comic books in them. I like the stinky ones and the awesome ones, the successful ones and the clubhouses, the ones where I can send my Mom and the ones I'm sort of scared to go into. I want an industry that encourages the great shops but a culture that allows for the ones that are less than great. I try to give individual shops the same leeway I give individual comics creators. I wish I had one in my town.

What I never get to see anymore is a brand new comic book shop, all pink-faced and stubby arms flailing in the air. It may be as long as ten years now since I entered a shop whose past history was marked in days rather than months or years. Here are a few pictures of the new Chicago retail establishment taken by my brother Whit, accompanied by some notes from my visit. I hope if you're in the area you'll consider stopping by.

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These are two of the owner-operators: Thad Doria and Terrence Gant. (A third partner, Joey Gerharz, wasn't at the store the day CR stopped by.) I dealt with Gant. I liked him because he had the gift of gab, which I appreciate in a comic shop owner; he seems to be working his ass off while enjoying the experience, which some of my retailing friends tell me is key; and he knew local retailing history, such as this shop's location around the corner from the legendary Larry's on Devon space, now closed, which delights me as a industry wonk. He made me laugh with a couple of stories about Larry's, a shop he used to travel across town to visit as a kid. He talked about how grumpy Larry (at least I assume the owner's name was Larry) could be with his customers and claimed that when Larry's was split into two retail locations side by side, with separate front doors and the two fronts not connected inside as far as anyone could tell, local fans compared the set-up to something Batman villain Two Face would run because one side was light and airy and mostly clean; the other was dark and cramped and seemed sort of dirty.

Another thing that was interesting about Gant is that he said he moved into this location after a few years of selling comic books on-line as a virtual retailer. This is the second time I was made aware of a new Chicago retailer had come into opening a brick and mortar store. Could that be a trend in the making? Could this be a way for retailers-to-be to gain experience and test demand in an under-serviced area? And to be honest, I don't think I'd ever met a comic shop co-owner that was black, so I imagine that has to be a good thing, too.

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This is the storefront, with pen and ink (I think) drawings of various cartoon characters around the glass portion of a space Gant described as "falling into our lap" when I asked him why Third Coast set up in this exact location. To the question itself he responded they wanted something north, but not as north as the Evanston-bordering Rogers Park (distance and parking issues) and not right on Loyola's campus, either (too great a dependency on student traffic). North Broadway in Edgewater is an interesting area in that the neighborhood has gentrified since the early 1990s, but hasn't thrived in the way you might expect for the number of people choosing to live here. So while things have steadily improved, for example a lot of the restaurants have cycled out two or three times and many of the services-type places have changed hands. Still, there's parking all around, a number of livable blocks within biking and walking distance, and it'd be easy to access the shop from the Granville stop on the El (in fact, it's probably a little shorter distance than you have to walk from the Belmont stop to Chicago Comics). So I can understand Gant's satisfaction.

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Above is a walk around the store's main racks. Generally, going clockwise and starting to the left as you walk in: books about comics, manga, high-end alternative, two big periodicals racks, a smaller periodicals rack, alternative and superhero trades, the main desk and then I think maybe kids books or other accessible titles. There are also two stand-alone shelves in the middle. That's not exactly everything the store offers, and I might have goofed up a rack or two, but that should give you a rough idea of what they have on hand. The key to place can be summed up as follows: it's a full-service comic book shop in terms of breadth of coverage, perhaps not depth. Heck, there's one full row devoted to the Ignatz books. I probably wouldn't make the trip from if Chicago Comics were closer, but I'd kill for this in my hometown.

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This is going to sound silly, but if you live in a town without a comic book shop, as I do, you can forget how powerfully appealing certain items can be when you see them in person. I spent an entire day last week looking slack-jawed at art books on the shelves at Chicago Comics. In Third Coast, I was struck by the Marvel Omnibus editions once I saw them on the shelves here, and nearly bought one. Gant says that sales thus far have been split between periodicals and books about 50/50, and that he plans to expand both manga and collectibles offerings to reflect what's being asked for by his potential customer base.

*****

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This is the back wall above a little sitting area where, among other things, the store apparently hosts its own podcast.

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Finally, stepping through the back, here's a physical plant advantage the shop plans to exploit: a courtyard in which to hold meetings of the monthly club as weather allows (they've done one so far) and to expand the space with which Third Coast can better host various in-store events. They haven't done a signing yet, but Gant says they plan to work their way into doing so as they're able to bring in local and visiting cartoonists and comic book makers. I have to imagine you'd be treated well if you did one here and it couldn't hurt to give them a ring if you want another Chicago location.

I don't know if this shop will make it. Running a comic book store is rough even when everything goes right. Chicago has one of the great destination stores (Chicago Comics) and one of the great alt-focused stores (Quimby's), while Evanston has Comix Revolution about five miles away; there's also a sign in the window of an empty retail location about eight blocks south of Third Coast that indicates a location of the Graham Crackers chain may opening there before too long.

Still, Chicago used to be maybe the great market for comics and as such I think has the potential to carry a lot more retail. There's a store about five blocks down from Chicago Comics on Clark that seems to do just fine (it's been there a while), so readers are happy to support stores other than a single-destination shop. I personally can't imagine anything better than walking past a comic book shop of interest on a Saturday when you've nothing better to do except a bit of around-the-neighborhood shopping. I hope it all works out and hopefully some of you out there will include this shop in your general plans regarding Chicago as a comics destination. I think you'll like it, and I wish the new owners the best of luck with establishing their own place in Comics Chicago.

photos by Whit Spurgeon

*****

* Third Coast Comics, 6234 N. Broadway Chicago IL 60660, terry@thirdcoastcomics.com, 847-863-7450.

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Lickety-Whop: Captain Easy Versus Everybody Part 04

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panels without violence removed
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Le blog BD d'Obion

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Go, Look: Frederic Peynet

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Go, Look: Mike Pencrec'h

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there is apparently a DVD of all the Star Trek comics coming out -- does anyone know if there's a rights payment on any of this, if even a rights payment expectation is ludicrous given the nature of the project, or if this gets handled under the "historical page by page scanning" exception or whatever it's called?

image* ask a question on the Internet and ye shall receive an answer in your e-mail dept.: after wondering out loud if there was enough of Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill's Death Race 2020 to make a collection, the old Corman line's editor Robert Boyd passed along a short note. "There were only three issues of this featuring the classic team of O'Neill and Mills. Pretty thin for a book," wrote Boyd. "Obviously, though, it should have been reprinted to accompany the movie. But the movie is a big flop, as far as I can tell. So perhaps this wouldn't be the best time to reprint." Another thing that was cool about the comic series from the short-lived Roger Corman's Cosmic Comics is that there were one-pagers in the back from alt-comics talents about celebrities that died in auto crashes -- I always thought that was a terrifically well-conceived back-up feature, and some of the results were pretty great, too. I think someone needs to bring back quality back-up features.

* not comics: Dylan Horrocks' not-so-secret, nsfw blog about naughty things.

* here's the weirdest comics-related thing I've accidentally googled: a Paul Ollswang memorial bookend.

* here's the second-weirdest. By accident, I mean, not that it's the strangest site ever or anything.

* people keep asking me to post a link to this Paul Pope drawing of a naked lady reading Watchmen.

* finally, here are 60 things Brad Curran hates about comics. I've been trying to make a similar list but the first one went to 14,357 and the second one was merely "1. Me" after which I cried for 11 hours.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Cathy Guisewite!

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Quick hits
Craft
Looks 10, Dance 3

Exhibits/Events
At The International Manga Museum

Industry
FBOFW 01
Fitzsimmons to Cagle
Entering the World of Comics
Hong Kong Artist Wins Japan Prize
Cartoon Collection Goes To Auction

Interviews/Profiles
PWCW: Posy Simmonds
Gamespot: Penny Arcade Guys

Not Comics
Arf Lovers Blog Is Down
Google Makes Us Dumber
Letting Kids Find Your (Funnybook) Stash

Publishing
Alan's War Profiled
In Your Face, Dave Sim

Reviews
Jog: Kick-Ass #4
Mel Odom: Method Man
Neil Cohn: The System of Comics
Richard Bruton: Queen & Country
Greg Burgas: Jews and American Comics
Paul Gravett: Jack Cole: Stretched To His Limits
Bill Sherman: Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991
 

 
September 4, 2008


This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that jump out at me from this week's probably mostly accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here -- I might not buy any -- but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick up the following and look them over, and as a result, my retailer and I might throw hands.

*****

JUL082182 MIXTAPE HC VOL 02 JIM MAHFOOD ART $24.99
I didn't know there was a first volume of these, but I like Jim Mahfood's art so it's practically the definition of something I'd want to look over in a comic book shop.

JUL082414 ESSENTIAL THOR TP VOL 02 NEW PTG $16.99
Some prime time brute and loot Kirby punch-'em-up comic books. Best monsters ever.

JUN083900 BERLIN TP BOOK 02 CITY OF SMOKE (MR) $19.95
Jason Lutes gets deeper into the life of the pre-WWII hotbed for 20th century isms, using the time-honored literary techniques of bringing in an entirely different storyline for an additional exploration of the wider work's themes and having a couple of the characters switch dance partners maybe before the reader expected them to.

JUN084319 DR SLUMP TP VOL 16 $7.99
MAY080072 KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE TP VOL 07 $10.95

Two manga series I'm following... at somewhat of a distance in terms of where I am in each one, but I'm still following them.

JUN084326 SLAM DUNK GN VOL 01 $7.99
One manga series I will be following, at a nice price point. I love the idea of sports comics. Actually, I've read enough of them now I know I like sports comics.

MAY083864 DEITCHS PICTORAMA SC $18.99
MAY083866 LOVE & ROCKETS NEW STORIES #1 $14.99
JUN083954 PORTABLE FRANK SC $16.99

Fantagraphics' super-strong line-up of summer jump-on books for three groupings of their major, major talents.

MAY083874 COMICS JOURNAL #292 $11.99
Gary Groth goes nuts interviewing the Dietches.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back and probably a bit high, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock.

If I didn't list your new comic, good.

*****
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posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Does Martin Wagner Owe You Fifty (Or Some Amount Plus Fifty) Bucks?

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Go here to get the short form and links to a long discussion with Gail Simone, Martin Wagner and Ian Boothby participating. Subject: whether or not Martin Wagner owes various people money from broken promises during his self-publishing years. If you're one of the people, you might be particularly interested.

(For the record, I once wrote an essay about something else entirely and titled it "Martin Wagner Owes Me Fifty Bucks," because, if I remember correctly, I'm a dick. Martin recently wrote and inquired about it; I shared with him the story behind the claim and told him if he wanted to pay me back at this late date he should direct that amount to the CBLDF with my best wishes.)
 
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OTBP: Holy Shit

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OTBP: Good-Bye Marianne

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OTBP: Benjamin Button GN

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Missed It: Lifelike

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Missed It: The Principles of Uncertainty

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Lickety-Whop: Captain Easy Versus Everybody Part 03

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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: James McShane

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Go, Look: Christophe Blain

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Go, Look: Bullegalerie

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Go, Look: Manu Larcenet

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Keith Knight, a newly-minted syndicated cartoonist for print publications, discusses the future of the newspaper.

image* here's an interesting piece by Rob Tornoe about editorial cartoonists covering the events of a modern political convention from back in the office.

* finally, the cartoonist and educator James Sturm writes in about the publishing news of a couple of days ago:
Though no fault of your own, when I read "James Sturm and friends" I wince!!! I collaborated on this book with Alexis Frederick-Frost and Andrew Arnold (not the A.A. formerly of Time). Alexis, Andrew, and I were all equal partners on this one (unless the book is totally a dud -- then it's because of them!
Thanks, James. The book James is talking about is called Adventures in Cartooning which I believe is designed to work as a kids comic at the same time it encourages kids and helps them along with making some comics of their own.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Scott Shaw!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Paul Smith!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Tim Broderick!

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you can wish the cartoonist a happy birthday tonight at 7PM at the Naperville Barnes & Noble, if you're in the area
 
posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
R. Crumb Exhibit Report
Big Sale at PictureBox Inc.
Dan Clowes Signing Photos
Dan Clowes Signing Photos

History
Margaret, 1970
On Graphic Novels

Industry
On Kramers Ergot Vol. 7
Manga Sales Estimates Charts

Interviews/Profiles
Israel21c: Rutu Modan
AudioShocker: Ross Campbell

Not Comics
I Agree

Publishing
Dan Clowes Cover To Next Brunetti Yale Anthology

Reviews
Jog: Various
ADD: Abandoned Cars
Chris Allen: Comic Art Now
Steve Duin: An American Widow
Greg McElhatton: My Brain Hurts
Matthew Brady: Army@Love Vol. 2
Chris Allen: Batman: Jekyll & Hyde
Nina Stone: The Mighty Avengers #17
Chris Allen: The Compleat Next Men Vol. 1
Rob Clough: My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down
Chris Allen: Criminal: The Dead And The Dying
Chris Allen: Wolverine: The Death of Wolverine
Chris Allen: Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight
 

 
September 3, 2008


Go, Buy: Top Shelf's $3 Sale

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All publishers have sales, and many comic book shops have them as well. I love them all, although it's hard for me to use this site as a vehicle to let you know about more than a few. As a publisher that depends on its at-convention sales as a significant portion of its overall cash flow, it's my belief that Top Shelf Comix moves a bit past finding such sales useful. I'd say Chris and Brett need a successful sale every now and then in order to redress stock imbalances and keep inventory to a minimum. Therefore I always try to encourage people to go to Top Shelf's site and take advantage of their occasional special offers, and I hope I would do so if they weren't an advertiser. So: please consider buying stuff form Top Shelf's latest sale. Besides: it's $3 Eddie Campbell graphic novels, for pity's sake. Best stocking stuffer ever.

(It runs through September 12; I'll try to recommend some specific books between now and then.)
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jim Borgman Takes Voluntary Severance

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In perhaps the biggest sign of the times moment related to cartooning in recent, tumultuous newspaper industry history, the cartoonist Jim Borgman, a fixture at the Cincinnati Enquirer for 32 years and maybe the prime example of a cartoonist leveraging his popularity into a variety of opportunities as a staffer and freelancer, has taken a voluntary severance package that may include up to one year's salary. This will bring to an end his daily cartoon contribution, although he'll stay in the pages of his longtime home as a weekly feature provider. Borgman may be better known to many as the artist behind the successful Zits feature with writer Jerry Scott. Borgman's departure comes in the midst of an overall reduction of the paper's workforce mandated by changing staffing needs and economic belt-tightening.

I believe that 32 years makes the Enquirer Borgman's only full-time professional newspaper home, although I know he did a feature for the Washington Post for a couple of years and his work is widely syndicated. Borgman won a Pulitzer in 1991, the Reuben in 1993, and several NCS divisional awards.
 
posted 9:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CBR On General Wowio Pay Ugliness

I suppose I could yank some pull quotes out of there, but basically all you need to know is that the Wowio downloadable comics service, a recently highly profitable revenue stream for various publishers, has apparently failed to pay in a timely fahsion what it owes some of its suppliers for 2Q 2008 and has altered its structure to the point it seems it will barely owe anyone anything in the future. New owner Platinum claims that the late payments are due to an ongoing transition in ownership, although those claims and others related to it seem extremely vague. Although all of this information has I think been out there in one for or another, CBR sings this tune in the form of a feature article. While there was obviously something broken at the company that led it to seek a safe harbor, things seem to have become worse rather than better.
 
posted 9:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Colossal Post on Comics Retailing, The Fully Stocked Shop and Elusive Alchemy

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There's a post at the FPI site this morning containing a conversation between Richard Bruton and Kenny Penman that I think is must-reading for anyone interested in the Direct Market end of the comics business. They start with a recent pair of posts by Brian Hibbs about what he learned in installing a point of sale system in his store and go on to riff about a lot of things that seem to me to capture a lot of the discussions about comics retail I've had over the last year. I'm visiting a lot of comic book shops this week, and I don't have one within two hours of where I live, so I may come at them with fresher eyes than I used to. I've found something to buy in all the shops I've visited, good or bad, that I wouldn't have purchased otherwise. I have no idea what that means, if anything, but I think it may another tiny sign we've come to the point where stores have to sell periodicals and books by being good stores -- not a good store as designed by the grumpy comics consumer, or argued into existence by someone with a specific agenda, but a good store defined by its ability to generate sales in the face of not just general apathy but in a world that includes Amazon.com and Internet piracy.

Anyway, I like the discussion because it talks about some very right-now issues but also baseline concepts like the fully-stocked shop. That's a powerful and almost certainly now-untenable principle that goes back to the appeal of comics shops in their earliest days: whereas you couldn't count on being able to get all the comics you liked at a spinner rack, you could get all of them and more at the comic book shop. One of the writers smartly notes that the only fully-stocked shop going is Amazon.com; which is totally true in a sense. At the same time, I don't think with a single major distributor (and the ability to access accurate information this should but doesn't always allow) and all of the handmade comics out there left out of traditional distribution channels comic shops as a group should back away from leading the world -- including Amazon.com -- in their ability to be a place anyone can go to to get any comic that's out there. So former realities become future principles, and so on. The better the quality of thinking over the next three years on the business in its entirety, the better-established comics will be in the next three decades.

photo of Chicago Comics by Whit Spurgeon
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Crooked Leg

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Go, Look: Abner Dean Ad Art

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Go, Bookmark: Mugwhump the Great

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Go, Look: Shary Boyle

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Go, Look: Los Bros Hernandez Art

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Go, Watch: Jason Lutes WSJ Interview


 
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Go, Look: More Jack and Max

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Clifford Meth has posted another round of comics auctions of Dave Cockrum's books and related materials.

image* for what it's worth, I wouldn't mind in the slightest if a retailer told customers not to buy Love & Rockets or Kramers Ergot in a newsletter or review or summary of what's on the racks, despite what's asserted on I think my behalf here. In fact, this year I listened to two prominent retailers criticize Kramers for its obtuse covers, and I only punched one of them in the face.

* the writer Bob Levin talks about being published by The Comics Journal and Fantagraphics. I love John Benson, but that's a deal for John Benson! In fact, I'd like to offer Bob my name on one of his article/interviews, for his name on his choice of any five articles posted here.

* finally, Max Ink writes in to note he's rewritten the SPACE Prize/Day Prize publicity material to better explain what each prize does.
 
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Happy 85th Birthday, Mort Walker!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Paul Chadwick!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Ethan Van Sciver!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Flint Henry!

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Quick hits
Craft
On Criticism
Philosophy of Batman 01
Philosophy of Batman 02

Exhibits/Events
Sean Phillips Exhibits

History
On Ross Andru
On Gaspar Saladino

Interviews/Profiles
Inkstuds: Eddie Campbell

Not Comics
The RASL Tassle
Killer Kowalski, RIP
Tom Verducci: Tom Verducci is Awesome

Publishing
Sandman: The Dream Hunters Previewed

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Air #1
Sean T. Collins: Fire
Paul O'Brien: Various
Chris Mautner: Various
Paul O'Brien: X-Factor #34
Eric Burns-White: Sarah Zero
Paul O'Brien: Young X-Men #5
Eric Burns-White: Shortpacked
Eric Burns-White: Real Life Comics
Paul O'Brien: X-Factor: Layla Miller
Eddie Campbell: Red-Colored Elegy
Sean T. Collins: Brilliantly Ham-Fisted
Eric Burns-White: The Order of the Stick
 

 
September 2, 2008


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a preview of October NBM title featuring David B.: Nocturnal Conspiracies. That's as good as reminder that exists that the book is coming out soon.

image* longtime favorite Marshal Law is making the shift to illustrated prose novellas next month. Does anyone know if there's enough of the O'Neill/Mills Death Race comic to reprint?

* among the projects revealed in this morning's ICv2.com three part interview with First Second's Mark Siegel: a trilogy from Jordan Mechner called Solomon's Thieves stated to start Spring 2010; the short-story suite The Eternal Smile by Gene Yang and Derek Kirk Kim (Spring 2009); the European awards-juggernaut Photographer by Didier Lefevre and Emmanuel Guibert; The Color of Earth trilogy by manhwa creator Kim Dong Hwa (starting Spring 2009); and on into 2009 with Adventures in Cartooning, James Sturm and friends; Stuffed! by Nick Bertozzi and Glen Eichler; Ball-pene Hammer by Adam Rapp and George O'Connor; Richard Sala's Cat Burglar Black; and Genius, by It's a Bird... team Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen.
 
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Shuster Family Claims eBay Fraud

From Mike Catron:
I am writing this notice on behalf of Jean Shuster Peavy, the sister of Superman artist-creator Joe Shuster.

There is currently (as of noon Eastern time, September 1, 2008) an item on eBay which claims to be "FIRST ANNUAL 2005 Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame Award". That claim is untrue.

That year's Hall of Fame Shuster Award (it was not called the Joe Shuster Award in its first year) was given posthumously to Joe Shuster and accepted in person by Joe's sister, Jean Shuster Peavy.

I was at that awards ceremony when the plaque was presented to Mrs. Peavy and personally examined it myself later that evening back in her hotel room. Today, that plaque hangs on a wall in her home. It is not for sale. I re-confirmed this with her last night (Aug. 31, 2008).

Whatever that thing on ebay is, it is not the plaque awarded to the family of Joe Shuster.
As of 7:45 ET this morning, the item was still up.
 
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Allez, Regardez: Sine Chat July 2008




 
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Go, Look: McCain-Palin Cartoons

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With a holiday weekend and Gustav throwing a monkey wrench into the full launch of the Republican National Convention, most of what passes for political commentary has settled onto John McCain's pick of a running mate and the subsequent story of Governor Palin's daughter's pregnancy. Go here for one such series of political cartoons.
 
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Go, Look: Pedro The Peril

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Go, Look: Quincy

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Go, Look: Giant-Man Vs. Commie Apes

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OTBP: Wonder Women of America

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is there an emoticon to indicate ducking under one's desk?
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the Internet giant Google has announced its Chrome browser by way of a comic from Scott McCloud. I'm sure I could run some art or enthuse about what an awesome gig this must have been for McCloud, but that's kind of gilding the lily; if you're on-line at all, you'll likely want to read about the browser, and it's fairly apparent that this is a opportune platform for Scott doing what Scott does comics-wise. Or I could just link to mean stuff like this.

image* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com does a state-of-company interview with First Second's Mark Siegel. (Part One, Part Two, Part Three) It may shock some people to hear the kind of numbers that Siegel is throwing around for basically first-run alt-comic graphic novels. Heck, it may shock some people that Siegel is willing to throw numbers around at all. He also talks about their 2009 schedule.

* the writer and prominent blogger Chris Butcher admits he just likes conventions. One gaming professional admits something that all comics folk eventually learn: the older you get, the longer it takes to recover from shows.

* I thought this was a pretty decent list of Superman stories.

* finally, it would be a very nice thing indeed if the house where Superman was created were to be fixed up, but I have a hard time being convinced from what I've read that this is the most deserving comics charity out there given the advancing age of many freelancers whose works are making millionaires of big-company board members instead of affording those creators a comfortable retirement. How many older creators are living in a house that looks even this nice? Or at all? How was the $50,000 for exterior repairs arrived at? According to a realtor.com search, there are 21 three-bedroom houses in that zip code that go for $40-60K for the whole shooting match. Is there an appraisal of the work that needs doing from someone not a writer that visited the house once? Is it too much to ask for the creators that make enormous amounts of money from Superman like Brad Meltzer lead the way and make public their donations? Would Superman organize an auction? At the risk of sounding like a jerk, something about this doesn't seem all the way thought through to me.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Walt Simonson!

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Quick hits
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More John Byrne Trek Artwork
Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad For Women

History
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Larry Clow: Who Can Save Us Now?
Don MacPherson: Elephantmen: War Toys
Scott Campbell: Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness
 

 
September 1, 2008


Your 2008 Space Prize Nominees

The 2008 finalists for the Space Prize, which will take the place of the Day Prize suspended by Dave Sim so that he can concentrate on his comics work, have been announced:

* Birth, Alterna Comics, Michael S. Bracco
* Blink: Barefoot in America, Breakfast in the Park, Onward Studio, Max Ink
* Breathers #1, Justin Madson
* Clockwork Creature:Chapter One, Ambrosia Publishing, Kyle Strahm and Wesley Craig Green
* Concepcion, Pretentious Comics, Rickey Gonzales
* The Secret History of the Ineffables Part 1, Mystery City Comics, Craig Bogart
* Lackluster World #5, Gen:Eric Publishing, Eric Adams
* The Serial Squad!, Bad Place Productions, Paul E. Schultz and Jon Hodges
* A Thorn in the Side, Carbon-Based Books, Bill Knapp

To be honest, I don't remember exactly what the Day Prize was for or know what the SPACE Prize will be for, and the link doesn't tell me much of anything. It obviously has something to do with the small press. They will be given out at next year's SPACE show in Columbus in April, and since there's cash involved, we will pay attention.
 
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Jacques Tardi Employs Newspaper Serialization in Advance of WWI Book

imageI may be reading this article wrong, but it seems like there are a couple of things worthy of note about this story on Jacques Tardi's forthcoming book on World War I with the historian Jean-Pierre Verney, Journal de Guerre (Tardi and Verney actually work separately on individual sections). One is that everyone is expecting an album from Tardi on this subject on its 90th anniversary in a way that indicates both the importance of that conflict on European history and on Tardi's imagining of that conflict as a primary way by which people process that historical information. That's totally mush-mouthed, but what I'm getting at is that this is a big deal in Europe and the fact that through Tardi's work is the way that many people see the conflict is again, a big deal. Another thing about the original story is that in the ramp-up to the book's October release it looks like they're doing more with that newspaper tabloid format that Tardi used to positive effect with his Secret de l'entrangleur work, doing fifteen pages of comic and illustrated history per year that way. I can't think of exact North American equivalents for either the scope or the nature of the serialization. An added bonus at the link is the image they scanned, which is the first I've seen from the project -- I've reproduced a thumbnail of it in this post that will hopefully encourage you to go look.

thanks to Kim Thompson for the prompt corrections
 
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George Jonas On L'Affaire Sine

This is as succinct an English-language wrap up on the controversy surrounding comments by the cartoonist Maurice Sinet in Charlie Hebdo, if you haven't quite wrapped your mind around it yet.
 
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Go, Look/Not Comics: R. Kikuo Johnson Illustrates Bush For NYT Mag Article

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Alaskan Cartoonists Appraise GOP Vice-Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin

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Rob Tornoe puts to good use the Gustav-influenced slowdown of events at the GOP convention
 
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First Posting: 2009 CCI Early Guide

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I can tell from all that glaring that some of you aren't happy about this being put up so early, but if I don't put up something about 2009's CCI before mid-September, I start getting e-mails.
 
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Go, Look: Out Of Water

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Go, Look: Chinese Political Cartoons

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Go, Look: Osgar Und Adolf

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Jeff Smith won a distinguished alumnus award from his high school.

* the cartoonist Lynn Johnston begins the new-run era of For Better or For Worse today. I'll run as many links to FBOFW stories as I can in the Quick Hits section, but I think it's worth pulling out this Editor and Publisher story that takes on the issue of whether or not readers will go for the revamped FBOFW.

image* there's a reasonably good discussion at the Comics Journal message board about the best living American cartoonist, mostly because it delves into the issue of how much power to afford the increased literary sophistication of cartoonists like Chris Ware, Dan Clowes and Joe Sacco in making such estimations. I think Crumb is the greatest living cartoonist, which I know is a slightly different question but one that I feel is less problematic because I have more ways to measure great than I do best. Crumb is discussed in this article about a Philadelphia exhibit. It would be nice if estimations of his career contain that criticism of the '60s part of it.

* one of the great political cartoonists of the 20th Century, Naji Al-Ali, has an exhibit up in Sana'a, Yemen.

* the cartoonist Ellen Forney has talents of which I was completely unaware.

* you know, "Terror Titans" is a stupid name for a superhero group, but it makes sense as most teens with bands give them really stupid names, too.

* comic shop retail employee Dustin Harbin talks about where he sends new readers after they read Watchmen.

* finally, you can read a concise PAX report here. PAX is the gaming convention organized and run by the Penny Arcade webcomic guys, and is also the beneficiary of a decision made by the giant industry gaming convention to go back to being an industry gaming convention, something that could conceivably happen down the line to the successful comics conventions. Not likely, but conceivably.
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Gene Colan!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Art Spiegelman
That's One Hell Of A Title
Report From PDX 'Zine Symposium

History
Boys Need To Read More Comics
50 Things He Loves About Comics

Industry
FBOFW 01
FBOFW 02
FBOFW 03
FBOFW 04
FBOFW 05
FBOFW 06
FBOFW 07
FBOFW 08
FBOFW 09
Comics In Oregon Schools

Interviews/Profiles
Sun-Sentinel: Brad Meltzer

Not Comics
When Cartoonists Own Restaurants
Chad Carpenter From Sarah Palin's Neck of the Woods

Publishing
Tori Amos Comic Profiled
Randy Zimmerman's Blog Debut
Psychology of Superheroes Project Profiled

Reviews
Tpull: Various
Simon: Planetary Vol. 1
Steve Duin: American Widow
Richard Krauss: The Trugglemat
Daryl Goh: Kirby: King of Comics
Richard Krauss: Welcome to the Dahl House
 

 
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