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
















September 30, 2009


So What Exactly Might Stan Lee Have Been Doing Thirty Years Ago Today?

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I Could Either Rant On Webcartoonists Vs Strip Cartoonists Or Link To Some Edward Gorey House Photos

Not even a contest, really.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon:

* the Herb Block Foundation and WW Norton are co-producing a giant Herblock book this Fall, with a relative ton of event support in and around the late cartoonist's central location, the Washington DC area and 18,000 cartoon on a DVD included with the volume. Less than $30 after discounting, too. The book celebrates what would have been the cartoonist's 100th birthday.

* you don't see articles like this very often on editorandpublisher.com anymore. I'm not sure why.

* a few of my friends for whom this is the sole spur driving them into their local comics shop will be glad to hear that Joss Whedon has indicated he will do a smaller Buffy Season 9 following his successful and still yet to move into that last turn Buffy Season 8.

* Jason Aaron seems to have plans to continue his under-the-radar hit series Scalped past issue #50. He's currently contracted through #48.

* the team behind Baldo is stepping aside temporarily for four Hispanic cartoonists to create a series of Sunday strips in their place. This is being done in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. The creators selected were David LEBO LeBatard, Carlos Saladana, David Alvarez and the team of Anthony Oropeza and Lorenzo Lizana. The first strip appears September 27.

image* here's an unexpected treat: a designed-for-charity publication of 150 Bruce Bairnsfather cartoons and a concurrent auction featuring Bairnsfather originals. It's probably not totally fair to call Bairnsfather the Bill Mauldin of World War I, but both cartoonists' cartoons were a great comfort to the men in uniform.

* did I remember to link to this? I think I did.

* the venerable creator Irwin Hasen, best known as a comics educator and the co-creator of Dondi, will release a graphic novel through Vanguard Publications called Loverboy. The press seems to promise some blend of fictional and autobiographical elements. If nothing else, that name kills.

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a short article up on Tokyopop publishing plans through next spring as expressed through new titles.

* missed it: no more Magic Trixie for a while. There have been three books.

* missed it: there will almost certainly be a sequel to the comics series -- and forthcoming film property -- Kick-Ass.

* Faith Erin Hicks is the new author at First Second Books, with a work called Friends With Boys tentatively due in 2011.

* what if they ended your long-running strip but decided not to tell anyone?

* missed it: Chi's Sweet Home to Vertical.

* missed it: a bunch of forthcoming books and general plans from Les 400 Coups.

* finally, Tom Root is writing Jughead #200. Root is one of the main cogs at the television show Robot Chicken. If I'd seen more than three episodes of Robot Chicken, this is the sentence that would include a clever, referential joke. Anyway, it's sort of interesting how Archie is goosing interest in its various publications more actively than any time I can remember.

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Go, Look: Benjamin Marra's Where The Wild Things Are Tribute Art

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devoted site from Vice with lots more art here
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* the Danish Cartoons were published in Jyllands-Posten four years ago today. The newspaper's actions would go down in history as an incredibly effective blow for Free Speech, shaming several organizations around the world and huge swathes of their membership into reconsidering their extreme views on the depictions of Muhammad and other religious icons. Or not.

* it's International Blasphemy Day, where children around the world leave jars of urine in which soak pictures of Jesus on the mantle, where they are collected and exchanged for slightly less upsetting gifts by Salman Rushdie, who flies between IBD-observant homes on wings made from sewn-together Muhammad Cartoons. The Telegraph remains skeptical it will ever catch on. And yes, they chose this day because of the first bulleted item.

* Yale University gears up for what one hopes to be a spectacularly boring Thursday. I still don't get how Yale is so hot to protect its students that on the one hand their press couldn't publish any depictions of Muhammad in a book about depictions of Muhammad because of some perceived risk that seems to go directly against the theories of the book they're publishing, and yet the same over-protective standard of better safe than sorry that emerges isn't applied to any other area of discourse hosted by the campus.

I might find this professor's explanation that the Press and the University are such different entities that of course they have different standards more convincing if a) the safety of the university of its students wasn't flaunted in explanations for the images being dropped (protecting the YUP employees doesn't really tug at the heartstrings the same way), b) you didn't get articles like this explaining how the school is bringing all of its entities closer together, and c) the implied line of thinking that refusing to publish the imagery the author selected to best make her book informative and truthful is a natural extension of editing, and that meanwhile having high-profile and controversial people on campus is merely some sort of accidental, natural development of general free speech values necessary to a college campus is flat-out asinine.
 
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Go, Look: Marion Montaigne

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College Kids Can't Understand Cartoons

imageCollege students at Slippery Rock University have apparently protested a K Chronicles by Keith Knight because the way in which Knight went about making his point included the depiction of a black man with his head in a noose. Most of the coverage of this piece come from people crossing their arms and making mean faces at the dumb college students and their lack of reading comprehension skills, which is well-deserved, although until there exists some barest outline of a standard for discussing race-related issues in our society I kind of feel for them, too. Also, I sure wish my college paper had carried Keith Knight cartoons.
 
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Go, Look: Olislaeger's Weblog

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The Best SPX 2009 Write-Up Thus Far

Brian Heater's two-parter -- here and here -- covers a decent amount of ground, has tons of pictures of people I've never seen before, and bounces along with a nice sense of humor. Barring someone putting in the effort to turn one of these things into compelling art, it's all you want out of a convention piece.
 
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If I Were In MA, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: David Finch

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Missed It: Dustin Harbin's Signing Of The Magna Carta Strip (In Color)

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I guess it's sort of old...?
 
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Go, Look: Stan and Vince

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Go, Look: Nova's Awesome Bad Guys

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via
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I have little idea what this article specifically means, but I guess a comic book as a library's milestone acquisition is one of those "times sure have changed" moments.

* the cartoonist Eddie Campbell gives thumbs up to Robert Stanley Martin's review of Big Numbers #3.

image* the prominent blogger Sean Kleefeld fails to endorse weight as a measure of health, or Direct Market estimates as a measure of sales, but he does endorse that bitchin' comic book advertisement with Arnold Schwarzenegger holding up Kathie Lee Gifford. I do, too.

* these are adorable.

* I'd never heard of a show of that size having a variant cover done in its honor, but maybe that kind of thing happens all the time.

* the writer, critic and cultural historian Jeet Heer excerpts his essay in The Upside-Down World of Gustave Verbeek: Comics and Art 1900-1915 in support of The Upside-Down World of Gustave Verbeek: Comics and Art 1900-1915.

* not comics: I'd never seen Rich Tommaso with a beard before. I mean the beard he grew on his face; not James Sturm, you smartasses.

* for someone who would certainly be uncomfortable doing so, Robert Crumb gives great press conference.

* I'm not sure it deserves a letter as I don't think suspect that it's an institutional thing, but that's some lousy, smug writing in the New York Times as pointed out by Erica Friedman.

* not comics: New York Anime Festival saw increased attendance this year; that show will be part of New York Comic-Con starting in 2010.

* here's a video and some written material in support of the story about a recent Keith Knight cartoon that has the people upset you'd expect to say they're upset.

* finally, I don't know what Johanna's talking about -- I prefer very expensive limited editions, and if they're accidentally stuffed with cash, I believe in sharing in that sudden burst of good fortune.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Deni Loubert!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, David Baillie!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Mahendra Singh!

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Quick hits
Craft
Zombie Captain America

Exhibits/Events
Go See Francois Avril
Go See Team Bone In Columbus
Dylan Williams Recommends Two SPX Round-Ups

History
Happy Birthday, CBBD!
A Retailer's View Of A Death In The Family

Industry
What Fans Spend Money On

Interviews/Profiles
gritTV: Various
CBR: Patrick McDonnell
Word Balloon: Ed Brubaker

Not Comics
Blutch As A Zombie
Those Clocks Are Quite Appealing, Actually

Publishing
Image United #1 Previewed
In Praise Of The SIGIKKI Effort
One Of The Other Genesis Covers?

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Don MacPherson: Underground #1
Don MacPherson: Die Hard: Year One #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Stuff Of Life
Chris Allen: The John Stanley Library: Nancy
Richard Bruton: How To Date A Girl In Ten Days
Leroy Douresseaux: The Gentleman's Cross Alliance Vol. 10
 

 
September 29, 2009


This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely 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 tomorrow I would pick them up and raise them to the sky, naming them before Odin.

*****

JUN090054 HELLBOY LIBRARY ED HC VOL 03 CONQUEROR WORM & STRANGE PLACES $49.95
I'm not sure how this series of Hellboy collections distinguishes itself from the others, but that's why comic stores are great: you can go and put your hands on the various versions. Some of the time.

JUN090040 UMBRELLA ACADEMY TP VOL 02 DALLAS $17.95
I only sort of liked the first story, but this series had a lot of fans and the volume is likely just as pretty as the first.

FEB090241 ABSOLUTE PROMETHEA HC VOL 01 $99.99
This seems like it would be a gorgeous meeting of artwork and format, although I fairly dipped in and out of the series.

MAY090235 FABLES DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 01 (MR) $29.99
I was trying to find something to write about Vertigo taking Fable to the next step as a foundational title with a fancier set of book releases, but all I could come up with was a bizarre comparison between the successful series and Two And A Half Man that would have qualified me for a beating in all 50 states.

JUL090259 HIGH MOON TP VOL 01 $14.99
This most high-profile Zuda release to date, or at least the first one to go out wide enough that I'm actually on the comp list. I'm guessing it's either about werewolves in the Old West or a Huizenga-like explication of tidal patterns.

JUN090248 SLEEPER SEASON 2 TP $24.99
This was sort of overlooked, I thought, and as such this trade collecting the second series could be a supplementary printing of some sort, but I certainly enjoyed reading the comics as they came out.

JUL090295 UNKNOWN SOLDIER #12 (MR) $2.99
JUL090055 USAGI YOJIMBO #123 $3.50
Here is a pair of well-regarded mainstreamy comics out this week.

JUL090590 AVENGERS INVADERS HC $39.99
Okay.

JUL090539 SHANG-CHI MASTER OF KUNG-FU BLACK & WHITE ONE-SHOT $3.99
I'm not sure why they can't make a modern Shang-Chi comic considering that whole Brubaker/Fraction corner of the big universe and the fact that Doug Moench's work is an even stronger launching point for such a series than the Englehart Captain Americas. I'm guessing this doesn't take them any closer to such a title.

JUL090843 AYA THE SECRETS COME OUT HC $19.95
Oh heck, yeah. I derive a great deal of pleasure from this series. You should buy all three.

AUG090907 BEST AMERICAN COMICS HC 2009 $22.00
Is this the first time it's offered? I thought this was a pretty good run of comics, maybe the best assembled for one of these volumes since people started doing that.

JUL091141 BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUS BY ROBERT CRUMB HC $24.95
When books as big as this one drop, we all turn to look at what made that booming noise.

JUN090765 DIE HARD YEAR ONE #1 $3.99
Good idea for one of these, I suppose. And since it's about Bruce Willis in the 1970s, I'm hoping it's about a nuclear power plant guard in New Jersey. It's probably about young police officer John McClane, though. I also don't suppose he could spend a day or two tracking down and shooting the baby that would become Justin Long's character in Die Hard IV.

AUG090668 GHOST COMICS GN $10.00
A charity comic with an all-star line-up of between-the-cost alt-cartoonists.

JUL090638 GLAMOURPUSS #9 $3.00
Dave is either beginning to get into the groove of things, or he skipped from issue #4 to issue #9.

JUL090800 HOWARD CHAYKIN POWER & GLORY TP $19.99
I don't know why you wouldn't just want to have the original comics, but I remember this being a sort of fun title.

JUL090885 TROTSKY HC $16.95
JUL090730 LOGICOMIX GN $22.95
JUN091064 UPSIDE DOWN WORLD OF GUSTAVE VERBEEK HC $60.00
Three potential books of the week in just about any other week: two from the out-of-left-field OGN category; one from the lovingly prepared reprint category.

AUG090885 PRISON PIT SC BOOK 01 $12.99
This is an awesome book, and you need to own it eventually so why not buy it today?

JUL090874 REFRESH REFRESH GN (MR) $17.99
JUL090875 TINY TYRANT GN LUCKY WINNER $9.99
Two from First Second displaying their range: their admirable support of the young cartoonist Danica Novgorodoff, their translation of new mainstream French comics like those of Lewis Trondheim.

APR091046 TEZUKAS BLACK JACK TP VOL 06 $16.95
It's not my favorite Tezuka, but it's certainly one of a handful of his most popular works. This collection series should go on for quite some time, yet.

*****

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 so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

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, 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. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic here... um... sorry?

*****

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Go, Look: Nate Beaty's SPX Photos

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I knew if I pulled out Greg McElhatton's photos for special mention, within hours there'd be a second group of strong photos crossing my computer screen. The black and whites here are particularly nice-looking.
 
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If I Were Near Duke, I'd Go To This

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Cartoonist Pahé Arrested In Gabon

imageAccording to a brief write-up at the French-language comics news clearing house ActuaBD.com, the cartoonist Pahé was arrested in his home country of Gabon on I think Friday for a confrontation between himself and two police officers that included or was comprised solely of his trying to give those two officers a picture of them drinking beer. The cartoonist tells the story in his own words on various postings on his blog, and although the language barrier always makes taking such things on their surface something less than a 100 percent proposition, that surface take on things if it is totally on the up and up is pretty darn incredible.

The story also made English-language wires; this story includes the name of the cartoon.

Pahé is published in Europe by Pacquet, including I think an autobiographical series.
 
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Go, Look: Of The Spheres

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Go, Look: Lilli Carré Site Re-Do

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Komikero: Our Petty Little Problems Become Trivial In The Light Of All This

Gerry Alanguilan's valuable comics resource Komikero Comics Journal has fittingly been turned for the time being into a resource to direct aid and contributions designed to help relief efforts in the typhoon-battered Philippines. Our best thoughts to the home of one of the world's great cartooning traditions in a difficult time.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Jolly Dogs Of London

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Go, Look: Holds Used In Wrestling

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Go, Look: Veiled Avenger

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Go, Look: Dial C For Corpse

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's not customary for me to recommend links to an event outside of the most recent collective memory, because then everyone wants one, but it struck me while adding this link to Greg McElhatton's photo set that it's modest-sized, everybody looks attractive, and it has a nice cross-section of the kind of people you can expect at an SPX these days, which means only a few veterans.

* wasn't Die Hard Year One this movie? Will the Legion Of Crossover Film and Comics Nerds ever get tired of pointing this out? Lloyd Bochner is even Hart Bochner's dad!

image* there was a time in my life when the thought of a possibly testy direct/indirect exchange between Alan Moore and James Robinson would have justified the entirety of comics' participation on the Internet, so much did I value a hearty back and forth between creators. These days I only find out about them when some smart person comments, like Eddie Campbell does here. Incidentally, I always thought the giant squid ending to Watchmen worked because it indicated a solution to this hideous real-world situation (nuclear brinkmanship) as embodied in a bizarre fantasy construct (Dr. Manhattan) would be to swap in another kind of bizarre fantasy construct (the alien invasion). Given the real world impact when Nancy Reagan decided the story of her husband's historical legacy should move from "Christ-annointed Cold Warrior" to "potential Nobel Prize winner," I'm sympathetic to the concept. Further, I thought this fit into the world Moore constructed in terms of how our imaginations would be forever altered by the physical presence of all of these weirdos. In other words, it's not important whether or not we readers recognize that it's a Rod Serling-type mechanism, because of course we will. What's key is that the people on that world would be completely unable to recognize it as such. This makes that event a fitting capstone on the work's dissection of American 20th Century triumphalism as a toxic narrative while at the same time extending the discussion inherent to Watchmen of superheroes as a genre that falls prey to florid distortion.

* not comics: I wish I'd thought of The Patrick Swayze Manga Recommendation Guide. Although I have to say: all this post-passing love going to Point Break and Roadhouse with nothing afforded the equally hilarious and bizarre Next Of Kin to my mind just confirms America's fundamental hatred of hillbillies.

* for some reason, the title of this post killed me.

* not comics: I've been putting Dame Darcy and Edward James Olmos together for years in fan fiction, and it sounds like they may come dangerously close to one another in a new documentary about salvaging comics as an expressive American art form.

* what does pain teach?

* not comics: I'm pretty certain that if all were right with the world, anyone who put these two people near one another in any kind of analysis whatsoever would immediately explode and the resulting splatter would spell out "I'm sorry" in big letters. I would like newspapers to die now, please.

* finally, I can't tell you how happy this post from Darryl Cunningham makes me, as he begins to get noticed for his forthcoming book on sufferers of mental illness.
 
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Happy 83rd Birthday, Russ Heath!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Tim Vigil!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Jennifer Daydreamer!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Nicolas de Crecy!

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Quick hits
Craft
Sergio Aragones Is Funny
And What He Does Is... BRAINS

History
Erie's Own
Weird Gray Morrow Panel
Whatever Happened To Page?
Nightcrawler's Goofy Parentage Sweepstakes

Interviews/Profiles
Trouble With Comics: Erik Larsen
Johns Hopkins News-Letter: Farley Katz

Not Comics
Adorable
Criminal Poster

Publishing
Exurbia Previewed

Reviews
Jim Holt: Logicomix
Jillian Steinhauer: AD
Paul O'Brien: Various
Andy Frisk: Supergirl #45
Richard Bruton: Grandville
Jason Mott: Old Man Logan
Sean T. Collins: Storeyville
John Seven: Asterios Polyp
Koppy McFad: Vigilante #10
Nina Stone: Spider-Woman #1
Andy Frisk: Ball Peen Hammer
Patrick Bérubé: True Loves Vol. 1
Jeff VanderMeer: Ball Peen Hammer
Leroy Douresseaux: One Piece Vol. 22
Koppy McFad: Blackest Night: Superman #2
 

 
Al Capp Born 100 Years Ago Today


in addition to his many accomplishments in comics, Mr. Capp invented TMZ
 
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Not Comics: Twenty-Four Years Ago

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September 28, 2009


Carlos Roume, 1923-2009

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Carlos Roume, the talented Argentinian artist whose work with Hector Oesterheld is held in particular high regard, died last week. Although he had made public appearances over the last five years according to documentation found through the eternautas yahoo mailing list, Roume was well into his eighties.

imageLike many of the best South American cartoonists, Roume worked in other fields and bounced back and forth between the South American and European art markets in his flush period. Although he was a published illustrator in his early 20s and was well-ensconced in advertising by his mid-20s, his first comics work can be traced to the serial "Lapacho Juan" in the Argentinian magazine Patoruzito in I believe. He found a niche as an adapter of great adventure novels such as Moby Dick, and by the early years of the next decade received a co-creator credit for Sabu, one of many Tarzan-like adventure serials popular at the time. In the late 1950s, Roume began collaborating with Hector Oesterheld and working for his magazine Hora Cero. Their collaborations included Nahuel Barros and Tipp Kenya.

Roume enjoyed a parallel career as an artist for Fleetway in the UK, contributing art to serials such as Dick Daring (in Thriller Picture Library), Kit Carson (in Cowboy Picture Library), and Rodney Stone (in Ranger and others). He also later found a home in the Italian market through seminal comics-publishing kid publication Il Corriere dei Piccoli in such features as Hayawatha and Alazzan. I believe he later moved back into illustration.

A full episode of Nahuel Barros was reprinted by Domingos Isabelino here; the critic wrote about the artist here. There is a magnificent smattering of his published material available at this blog focusing I believe on Spanish-language story comics.

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as with all obituaries that involve looking at words not in English, any help in adjusting any of the above is appreciated
 
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Go, Look: Jesse Jacobs

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it took me a while to find a site for the Doug Wright nominee and Shuster winner, but it was worth it
 
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Go, Look: Astounding Wolverton Re-Run

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Go, Look: Renato Guedes

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

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Go, Look: Denver Gillen

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Go, Look: Dial Z For Zombie

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Go, Look: The Marvel Family And The Great Space Struggle (1952)

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Go, Look: The Vampire World

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you don't see a whole lot of interviews with comics retailers, but here's a long one with the team behind Page 45.

* not comics: it's Banned Books Week. Protest accordingly.

image* the one-man comics resource Steven Thompson has more information on Agar-Agar, the psychedelic-looking strip that ran in the UK magazine Dracula.

* although I'm uncertain if Chicago can support two big, mainstream-oriented comic book conventions (one by Reed; one by Wizard), I certainly think that my former place of residence can host one such convention and then a smaller, creator-focused convention. Here's a report from this year's Windy City Comicon.

* how has torrent activity changed during the recession?

* if you get caught reading this in the back of class, do you get thrown out of school twice?

* not comics: I can't remember with whom I had a bet that Michael Chiklis never displayed two seconds of genuine, actorly enthusiasm in those suck-ass Fantastic Four movies, but it looks like I owe you five bucks.

* Glen Weldon writes at length on Wednesday Comics.

* here's a long exhibition report tracing the growth of sexual material in French comics. At least I think that's what's going on.

* the cartoonist Steve Weissman says goodbye to NICK, the imminently defunct magazine to which he joined many of his alternative comics peers as a contributor.

* finally, I haven't read Brigid Alverson's report on the various comics-related phone apps out there, but I'm looking forward to it.
 
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Go, Look: Three By Wes Hargis

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Quick hits
Craft
Swooning Over Maurice Vellekoop

Exhibits/Events
Fall Out Boy Signing Report

History
Call It Call It Fate
Namor, Comedian
When Is It Not This Time?
Ten Thoughts About SPX99
Superman Says People Are People
Comics Enriched Alain Resnais' Life

Industry
Are We All Inadequate Or What?

Interviews/Profiles
Mania.com: Ed Chavez
CBR: Danica Novgorodoff
Animal Planet: Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson

Not Comics
William Safire, RIP
The Music Of Laika
Send Them Your Shelf Porn
He Knows The Intended Audience
I Went Every Day As Desperately Wants Love Boy

Reviews
Rob Clough: Various
Douglas Wolk: Various
Sarah Boslaugh: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Koppy McFad: Vigilante #10
Leroy Douresseaux: Naruto Vol. 46
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Underground #1
Robert Stanley Martin: Big Numbers #3
Byron Kerman: Detroit Metal City Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: North 40 #1-2
Andy Frisk: Superman: Secret Origin #1
Sarah Boslaugh: Art Theory For Beginners
Johanna Draper Carlson: Shoujo Art Studio
Koppy McFad: Blackest Night: Superman #2
Jared Gardner: The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone
Johanna Draper Carlson: Scarlett Takes Manhattan
Leroy Douresseaux: Takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil Vol. 2
 

 
September 27, 2009


Your 2009 Ignatz Award Winners

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Winners of the 2009 Ignatz Awards were named during a short ceremony on Saturday night in conjunction with the Small Press Expo in North Bethesda, Maryland.

Winners are identified below in bold.

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OUTSTANDING ARTIST
* Tim Hensley, Mome (Fantagraphics), Kramer's Ergot #7 (Buenaventura)
* Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
* Richard Sala, Delphine (Fantagraphics/Coconino)
* Josh Simmons, Mome (Fantagraphics)
* Carol Tyler, You'll Never Know, Book One: A Good and Decent Man (Fantagraphics)

*****

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OUTSTANDING ANTHOLOGY OR COLLECTION
* Abandoned Cars, Tim Lane (Fantagraphics)
* Against Pain, Ron Rege Jr. (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Book 5, T. Edward Bak, Anneli Furmark, Amanda Vahamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Fuzz and Pluck: Splitsville by Ted Stearn (Fantagraphics)
* Kramer's Ergot 7, ed. Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura)

*****

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OUTSTANDING GRAPHIC NOVEL
* Acme Novelty Library #19, Chris Ware (Self-Published)
* Disappearance Diary, Hideo Azuma (Fanfare/Potent Mon)
* Drop-In, Dave Lapp (Conundrum)
* Nicolas, Pascal Girard (Drawn & Quarterly)
* You'll Never Know, Book One: A Good and Decent Man, Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)

*****

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OUTSTANDING STORY
* The Carnival, Mome #14, Lilli Carre (Fantagraphics)
* Disappearance Diary, Hideo Azuma (Fanfare/Potent Mon)
* Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars, Acme Novelty Library #19, Chris Ware (Self-Published)
* Untitled, Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Book 5, Amanda Vahamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Willy, Papercutter #10, Damien Jay (Tugboat)

*****

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PROMISING NEW TALENT
* T. Edward Bak, Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Book 5 (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Colleen Frakes, Woman King (self-published)
* Hellen Jo, Jin & Jam #1 (Sparkplug), Diamond Heights, Papercutter #9 (Tugboat)
* Ed Luce, Wuvable Oaf (self-published)
* Amanda Vahamaki, Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Book 5 (Drawn & Quarterly)

*****

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OUTSTANDING SERIES
* Danny Dutch, David King (Sparkplug)
* Delphine, Richard Sala (Fantagraphics/Coconino)
* Interiorae, Gabriella Giandelli (Fantagraphics/Coconino)
* Reich, Elijah Brubaker (Sparkplug)
* Uptight, Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics)

*****

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OUTSTANDING COMIC
* Danny Dutch #1, David King (Sparkplug)
* Dead Ringer, Jason T. Miles (La Mano)
* Interiorae #3, Gabriella Giandelli (Fantagraphics/Coconino)
* Reich #6, Elijah Brubaker (Sparkplug)
* Uptight #3, Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics)

*****

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OUTSTANDING MINI-COMIC
* Claptrap #2, Onsmith
* Just So You Know #1, Joey Alison Sayers
* Stay Away From Other People, Lisa Hanawalt
* Stewbrew, Kelly Froh & Max Clotfelter
* Xoc, Matt Dembicki

*****

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OUTSTANDING ON-LINE COMIC
* Bodyworld, Dash Shaw
* Danny Dutch, David King
* Thingpart, Joey Alison Sayers
* Vanessa Davis's comics for Tablet
* Year of the Rat, Cayetano Garza

*****

The 2009 Ignatz Jury was Lilli Carre, Vanessa Davis, Robert Kirby, Scott Mills and Laura Park. Hosting the awards ceremony was I believe Liz Baillie. Official PR has now shown up in several places including here.

*****
*****
 
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Your 2009 Shuster Award Winners

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Winners of the Joe Shuster Awards, honoring Canadian comics creators, were announced last night as part of Toronto's Word on the Street Festival. Winners are in bold. The nominees were named in April and in June.

*****

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ARTIST
* Marc Delafontaine, for Les Nombrils T.3 (Dupuis)
* Dale Eaglesham, for Justice Society of America #12, 14-15, 18-22 (DC Comics)
* David Finch, for Ultimatum #1-2 (Marvel Comics)
* Karl Kerschl & Serge LaPointe, for Teen Titans: Year One #1-6 (DC Comics)
* Jacques Lamontagne, for Les Druides T.4 (Soleil Productions)
* Steve McNiven, for Amazing Spider-Man #546-548, Wolverine #66-70 (Marvel Comics)
* Steve Rolston, for Emiko Superstar (DC/Minx), Familiar in House of Mystery #4 (DC/Vertigo), You Ain't No Dancer #3 (New Reliable Press)
* Stephen Sadowski, for Avengers/Invaders #1-7 (Marvel Comics/Dynamite Entertainment), Superpowers #0 (Dynamite Entertainment), Jack the Lantern: Ghosts #2 (Castle Rain Entertainment)

*****

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CARTOONIST
* Gregoire Bouchard, for Vers les Mondes Lointains (Paquet)
* Darwyn Cooke, for Chapter X: The Greater Good in Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1, The Spirit #12 (DC Comics)
* Francis Desharnais, for Burquette (Les 400 coups)
* Jean-Paul Eid, for Des tondeuses et des hommes (La Pastèque)
* Michel Gagné, for The Saga of Rex in Flight Vol. 5 (Ballantyne Books)
* Faith Erin Hicks, for The War at Ellsmere (Slave Labor Graphics)
* Jeff Lemire, for Essex County Vol. 3 (Top Shelf)
* Seth, for Thoreau MacDonald Kramer's Ergot Vol. 7 (Buenaventura Press)
* Dave Sim, for Glamourpuss #1-4, Judenhaas (Aardvark-Vanaheim)

*****

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COLORIST
* Jean-Francois Beaulieu, for G.I. Joe: America's Elite #31-36, Voltron: A Legend Forged #1 (Devil's Due), Marvel Zombies 3 #1-3, Wonderful Wizard of OZ #1, X-Men: Divided We Stand #1, X-Men Legacy #215 (Marvel Comics)
* Blond, for Team 14 #1 (Digital Webbing), Freshman: Summer Vacation Special #1, Magdalena/Daredevil #1, True Blood: The Great Revelation, Witchblade: Takeru Manga #11-12 (Image/Top Cow), Ultimate Fantastic Four #50-59 (Marvel Comics), Beyond Wonderland #4, Grimm Fairy Tales 2008 Annual (Zenoscope)
* Chris Chuckry, for Brave and the Bold #17-18, Countdown to Mystery #4-8, Simon Dark #4-7, Two Face: Year One #1-2 (DC Comics), Air 1-5 (DC/Vertigo), G.I. Joe #0 (Devil's Due), Comic Book Tattoo (image), Amazing Spider-Man #546, 565-567, newuniversal: Shockfront #1-2, The Twelve #1-8 (Marvel Comics)
* Maryse Dubuc, for Les Nombrils T.3 (Dupuis)
* Nathan Fairbairn, for Fear Agent #21 (Dark Horse), Pilot Season: The Core #1 (image/Top Cow), Civil War: House of M #3, Guardians of the Galaxy #1-3, Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust?, Wolverine: Origins #31, X-Men: Divided We Stand #2, X-Men: Kingbreaker #1, X-Men Legacy #217, X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1, 3, Young Avengers Presents #1 (Marvel Comics), Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #3 (Oni Press)
* Lovern Kindzierski, for Sandman: The Dream Hunters #1-2 (DC Comics), The Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons #1-2, Coraline (HarperCollins), Giant-Size Incredible Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics)
* Francois Lapierre, for Gedeon et la bete du lac in Contes et legendes du Quebec (Glenat Quebec), Magasin general 4 (Casterman)
* Dave McCaig, for Star Wars: Dark Times #11-12 (Dark Horse), Action Comics #861-863, Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge #1-3. Joker's Asylum: The Penguin #1, JSA Classified #35-37 (DC Comics), Family Dynamic #1-2, House of Mystery #4, Northlanders #2-8, 11-2 (DC/Vertigo), Broken Trinity: Angelus #1, First Born: Aftermath #1, Pilot Season: The Core #1 (image/Top Cow), Fantastic Four Cosmic Size Special #1, Secret Invasion X-Men #1-4, Ultimate Iron Man II #3-5 (Marvel Comics), Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #2 (Oni Press)

*****

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WRITER
* Ian Boothby, for Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror #14, Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2008, Futurama #35-39, Simpsons Comics #136, 141, 148, Simpsons Summer Shindig #1, Simpsons Super Spectacular #7 (Bongo Comics)
* Cecil Castellucci, for Janes in Love (DC/Minx)
* Darwyn Cooke, for Dragster Riot starring Robin the Boy Wonder and Wonder Woman and Black Canary in Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1; Superman Confidential #11 (DC Comics)
* Maryse Dubuc, for Les Nombrils T.3 (Dupuis)
* Ray Fawkes, for The Apocalipstix (Oni Press)
* Francois Lapierre, for Gedeon et la bete du lac in Contes et legendes du Quebec (Glenat Quebec)
* Mariko Tamaki, for Emiko Superstar (DC/Minx), Skim (Groundwood Books)
* J. Torres, for The Family Dynamic #1-3, Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #11, 13, 17-19, Teen Titans Go! #51-55 (DC/Johnny DC), Wonder Girl #5-6 (DC Comics)

*****

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COVER
* Adrian Alphona, for Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Season Two #1 Variant (Marvel Comics)
* Darwyn Cooke, for The Spirit #12 (DC Comics)
* Marc Delafontaine, for Les Nombrils T.3 (Dupuis)
* Dale Eaglesham, for Justice Society of America #14 Variant (DC Comics)
* David Finch, for Amazing Spider-Man #572 Variant (Marvel Comics)
* Philippe Girard, for Les Ravins (Mecanique Generale)
* Niko Henrichon, for Hostile T.1 (Dupuis)
* Steve McNiven, for Kick-Ass #1 Variant (Marvel Comics)
* Dean Motter, for Mister X: The Condemned #1 (Dark Horse)
* David Sim, for Glamourpuss #4 Zombie Variant (Aardvark-Vanaheim)

*****

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WEBCOMIC
* Kate Beaton, for Hark! A Vagrant
* Michael Cho, for Papercut
* Lar De Souza & Ryan Sohmer, for Least I Could Do, Looking for Group
* Kathryn & Stuart Immonen, for Moving Pictures
* Karl Kerschl, for The Abominable Charles Christopher
* Gisele Lagace, for Menage A 3
* Ramon K. Perez, for Kukuburi, Butternut Squash (w/Robert Coughler)
* Cameron Stewart , for Sin Titulo

*****

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PUBLISHER
* Aardvark-Vanaheim
* Arcana Studio
* Conundrum Press
* Drawn & Quarterly
* La Pasteque
* Les 400 Coups/Mecanique Generale
* Red 5 Comics
* Udon Entertainment

*****

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COMICS FOR KIDS
* Clayton Hanmer, CTON's Super A-Maze-ing Year of Crazy Comics! (OwlKids)
* Susan Hughes and Willow Dawson, No Girls Allowed (Kids Can Press)
* Karl Kerschl and Serge Lapointe (with Amy Wolfram, USA), Teen Titans: Year One (DC Comics)
* Liam O'Donnell and Michael Deas, Ramp Rats -- A Graphic Guide Adventure (Orca Publishing)
* Paul Roux, Ariane et Nicolas Tome 5: Les tours de Babel (Éditions Les 400 Coups)
* Chad Solomon (with Christopher Meyer, USA), The Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws Vol. 2: The Voyageurs (Little Spirit Bear Productions)
* Kean Soo, Jellaby Book 1 (Hyperion)
* Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston, Emiko Superstar (DC/Minx)

*****

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GENE DAY AWARD FOR CANADIAN SELF-PUBLISHERS
* Jordyn F. Bochon for The Day After V-Day
* Jesse Jacobs for Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow
* Miriam Libicki for jobnik!: an american girl's adventures in the israeli army
* Dakota McFadzean for Hypocrite
* C. Eric Peters for Peter the Pan

*****

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THE HARRY KREMER AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CANADIAN COMIC BOOK RETAILER
* Another Dimension (Calgary, Alberta)
* The Beguiling (Toronto, Ontario)
* Comic Encounters (Terrace, British Columbia)
* Curious Comics (Victoria, British Columbia)
* Cyber City Comics (North York, Ontario)
* Elfsar (Vancouver, British Columbia)
* Legends Comics and Books (Victoria, British Columbia)
* Stadium Comics (Brampton, Ontario)

*****

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CANADIAN COMIC BOOK CREATOR HALL OF FAME
* George Menendez Rae (1906-1992)
* Réal Godbout (1951-)
* Ken Steacy (1955-)
* Diana Schutz (1955-)

*****

Our congratulations to all honorees.
 
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If I Were In London, 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 Near DC, I'd Go To This

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FFF Results Post #182 -- Ditko!

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Great Things About Steve Ditko." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The wash work for the Warren Magazines
2. His version of Spider-Man's creation makes most sense
3. In the phone book
4. Killjoy
5. Design For Mindless Ones

*****

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Alan David Doane

1. His depiction of New York City
2. His refusal to compromise
3. His work for Charlton
4. His Spider-Man run
5. His other-dimensional freakscapes

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Designed Iron Man's orange/yellow suit
2. Designed the Mystical Dimensions -- still awe inspiring
3. Drew the greatest single panel in comics history -- hint -- lotsa machinery
4. Designed Electro -- greatest mask EVER!!!!
5. Created the Creeper!!

*****

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Ben Ostrander

1. The Question
2. Eternity
3. Mr. A
4. Objectivism advocate
5. All those fantastic hands

*****

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Steve Thompson

* His costume and character designs
* Eternity
* The Question
* His collaborations with Wally Wood
* The fact that he's still here to see how appreciated he is...even if he can't allow himself to care.

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Plotting/drawing Amazing Spider-Man #1-38
2. Dormammu versus Eternity
3. The M-vest
4. Squirrel Girl
5. Ditko hands!

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Gives great Gorgo!
2. The only artist who can draw the sole of a character's foot pointed at the reader and still make it look graceful
3. The -- BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! -- Creeper
4. Captain Atom: Best non-DC/Marvel/Tower superhero of the 60s
5. Nobody does crazy better!

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Dr. Strange origin story
2. Tales Of Suspense #34 (Oct '62) Splash page extraordinaire
3. creating Spider-Man, for chrissakes!
4. unleashing Mr. A upon an unsuspecting world
5. refusing to kow-tow to "the man"

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Dormammu's flaming head
2. Named a character Ote Kame
3. Unbelievably high WTF quotient of every issue of Shade the Changing Man
4. The Odd Man
5. Current work looks right at home on the Sparkplug table at indie shows

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. The design for Dormammu
2. The design for Mysterio
3. The Spider-Man sequence where he psyches himself up to lift all that fallen machinery, like Hulk Hogan working out of a sleeper hold
4. Ditko hands! C'mon, free spot on the Bingo card. Ditko hands!
5. I have it on good authority that at a Valiant Comics shindig Ditko got up and went after someone who had taken his photograph, brandishing a chicken leg. No fracas or altercation took place, I just like the image of him shaking a chicken leg at the guy while explaining his reasons for not wishing to be photographed. If I remember correctly, the photograph was "taken care of". I guess that's not a reason why Ditko is great, but it is a reason why Ditko is Ditko. And Ditko is great.

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. His comedic timing, layout-wise, as well as the accompanying facial expressions of the various characters in "Captured by J. Jonah Jameson" are all absolutely perfect, making it my favorite regular-sized issue of my favorite run of any super-hero comic, ever!
2. Amazing Spider-Man Annual#1! All-new -- and all Ditko -- from cover to cover! Full splashes for each of six iconically designed baddies! Cameo's by every Marvel character! Great bonus features -- especially the peek behind the scenes with Stan and Steve! (And look -- they're still TALKING!!!)
3. His Warren work was absolutely breathtaking, never more so than on "Collector's Edition"!
4. Every single one of the many five page features done in conjunction with Stan Lee in the back of a variety of Marvel (and pre-Marvel) books, circa 1959-1963, are both fun to read and are visual treasures, especially the splash pages (ably assisted by Artie Simek's fine display lettering)!
5. THE MYSTERY!!! Oh, the mystery...

*****

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Gary Usher

1. The Mocker
2. "Laszlo's Hammer"
3. Been drawing comics for over 50 years!
4. Robin Snyder
5. Did same high quality work no matter what his page rate was, even if there was no pay at all.

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Amazing Spider-Man #25, in which a completely ridiculous robot with Jameson's face appearing on a TV monitor in its head, wanders around the city looking for Spidey. Why can't real newspaper publishers do this?
2. The design for all the Metans in Shade, but especially the Sude robot.
3. I have to go with Killjoy as well, but particularly the giant tears everybody is shedding.
4. He inspired that lovely Hembeck comic where all the Marvel characters spread the news: "Ditko's back..."
5. The Odd Man, the best superhero character DC ever let get away, and clearly a fashion inspiration for the sixth Doctor Who.

*****

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James Langdell

1. Lettering with attitude
2. Panels drawn as torn calendar sheets drifting around the pages of a Charlton mystery story
3. Drawings of classic men's hats that make you want to wear them
4. How an all-star series of inkers on ROM Spaceknight were obviously inspired by the chance to work with his art
5. Eternity

*****

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Jason Michelitch

1. Whenever someone is disheveled and sweaty.
2. Those eyes.
3. The sparkly effect when someone is dazed.
4. The nine-panel grid.
5. Pride in personal expression.

*****

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John Vest

1. All the five page science fiction/horror/suspense stories he did for Marvel in the early sixties
2. His comment on the donation of his Spider-Man artwork to the Library of Congress
3. The Fantastic Four with Kirby inked by Ditko in FF #13
4. His essays in Robin Snyder's The Comics
5. Shade The Changing Man

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Dormammu's fiery head
2. Fanatic devotion to Ayn Rand/Objectivism
3. Captain Universe ("The hero who could be YOU"!)
4. Beware the Creeper
5. He doesn't care what -- or even if -- we think of him

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Integrity
2. The 24 pages he did for Questar Magazine
3. The way he delineated shading in his seventies and eighties work by applying broad open diagonal hatching
4. Unusual Tales #29 (1961) - "Way Out Man" (5 page humor story)
5. Still making comics in his eighties

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. His masks reveal more than they conceal.
2. His hats are dapper on the napper. In fact, his whole wardrobe would make Don Draper drop a log.
3. Spider-Man is fucking awesome, and his is the original, the definitive, the Ne plus ultra.
4. He did a Transformers colouring book, once.
5. Man can cast a shadow.

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. The Incredible Hulk #6
2. Doctor Strange
3. The 1970s reprints of his 1960s Charlton hero comics
4. His odd fill-in issues for various Marvels in the 1970s
5. hands!

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Mr. A
2. Shade the Changing Man
3. Prince Gavyn Starman
4. the "half-mask" depiction of Spidey Sense Tingling
5. Dormammu

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Deep Ruby
* The stories he inked over Kirby
* His old Marvel self-portrait
* That only two or three pictures are public
* His refusal to be interviewed for the documentary

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Ditko has more artistic and moral integrity than anyone I've ever heard of
2. There are more drawings of Ditko in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 than there are photos of him
3. Ditko came up with those super-funky hand gestures Dr. Strange used
4. Ditko came up with those super-trippy backgrounds for Dr. Strange without the use of drugs
5. There is almost zero chance of Ditko actually reading this, and even less chance of his giving a damn

*****

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Vito Delsante

1. His Charlton work (esp his work on the Question).
2. The creation of Mr. A, one of the most true-to-Ditko characters ever.
3. His stubbornness in regards to his position on Marvel, Stan and Spider-Man.
4. Every page of Doctor Strange.
5. The cover of Amazing Spider-Man #33.

*****

topic suggested by Michael Aushenker

*****
*****
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Jack Katz!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Matthias Schultheiss!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Jim Shooter!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Mattt Konture!

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First Thought Of The Day

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, just because the monsters say so.
 
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September 26, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


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Next Week In Comics-Related Events

September 27
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September 28
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September 29
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September 30
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October 1
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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 19 to September 25, 2009:

1. The law firm of Toberoff & Associates on behalf of the Kirby estate files notice of intent to reclaim copyrights related to Jack Kirby's 1960s work at Marvel.

2. Yale University, recently criticized for excising images of Muhammad from book about Danish cartoons, to have Kurt Westergaard speak on campus.

3. AAEC names their officer slate for 2009-2010.

Winners Of The Week
Marvel executives who have already profited from the deal with Disney.

Loser Of The Week
Yamila Abraham

Quote Of The Week
"Every convention it seems has one delightful surprise, and this year it was a group of Arab cartoonists the State Dept. dropped on us at the last minute. The 6 guys from Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait (and their two translators) threw themselves into the convention with great enthusiasm, even going with us on the pub crawl Friday." -- JP Trostle

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

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

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

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Louise Simonson!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Tom Veitch!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Stephen Weiner!

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Tim O'Shea On CR's Fifth Anniversary (9/20/09)
* Donna Urschel On Massive Herblock Exhibit At Library Of Congress Starting October 13 (PR) (9/19/09)
* Audrey Fischer On Herblock Book Release Event At Library Of Congress (PR) (9/19/09)
* James Langdell On A Good Reason To Re-Start Herbie (9/19/09)
* Warren Bernard On Latest Round Of SPX Guests (PR) (9/19/09)
 
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September 25, 2009


Friday Distraction: Ryan Cecil Smith

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Some Days You're Done With Work And Want To See Arnold The Isshurian Again

And the Internet comes through.
 
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Go, Look: Treehouse Of Horror Signing Photos And Various, Related Links

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I've done a shitty job of paying attention to this week's release of the Kramers Ergot issue of of Treehouse of Horror, so please go look at these pictures and if you're in Los Angeles stop by Family to look at the art and buy the issue yourself. If you're not just buy the issue on Jog's advice wherever you're able to buy it.
 
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If I Were In Eugene, I'd Go To This

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Has Anyone Answered This Question?

For all the easy irony and juicy newspaper-story contrasting that comes out of Kurt Westergaard appearing to speak on Yale's campus October 1 just three days after the release of a book from the school's press where author and publisher have decided not to run any images of Muhammad (including Westergaard's) at all, doesn't the fact that the lecture is taking place really put to doubt the "protection of students" response as to why the images are being kept out of the book? Were I Lord of Yale I'd welcome the speech and the publication of the images, so I'm not cracking on the wisdom of having Westergaard speak in and of itself. It just bugs me that if the security of the students is such a vital issue, why host that speech at all? It's like kicking Howard Stern off of your college radio station because he might say something dirty and then announcing Artie Lange will speak at graduation. Okay, not really, but you know what I mean. Why is one acceptable risk and the other is not? This really makes the images decision look like it based on another factor or factors.
 
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Go, Look: Hernandez Brothers Rarities

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Go, Read: Kiel Phegley's Discussion With Michael Lovitz At Comic Book Resources

The writer Kiel Phegley talks with comics-interested lawyer Michael Lovitz about the recent filings by Toberoff & Associates on behalf of the Kirby family regarding several Marvel copyrights, and clears up some of the broader questions. I found it particularly useful in that 1) Lovitz keeps stressing that this isn't a legal action in the sense that it locks any agency into a pattern at this point -- it could be years before a next step is taken, and 2) the principle of creating something for a company still holds to the point that the Kirby family would have to show some sort of outside creation going on to have a chance to reclaim some of these copyrights. This should bring into question not so much the famous Marvel Method generally but the specific practices and arrangements between various players as they existed at Marvel in the 1960s.
 
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Go, Look: Keo Ky Niem

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All Eyes Towards North Bethesda

This weekend is Small Press Expo (SPX) at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center in North Bethesda, Maryland. SPX has an interesting past in that -- and I'm working from memory -- it arose out of one of the Dave Sim tours, had a fruitful decade or so at a Holiday Inn Select of the kind geezer cartoonists will one future day bore you with tales concerning, fairly galvanized the post-alternative class of 1994 into its own strong comics faction, had an educational component, shared space and a semi-combined mission with the academically-oriented ICAF for a few years, and even for a while gave the exhibition hall the Sunday off in favor of a softball game and cookout. But the show also has an interesting present as an American comics show split between festival and small press showcase sensibilities, the longtime host of the Ignatz Awards, one of the three or four most important stops on the convention calendar for a wide swath of cartoonists, a chance for the class of 1994 to pass the baton to the next generation, and an increasingly ambitious programming schedule.

I think what's amazing about SPX is that it could have become quite horrible at many times during its history but remains a favorite if not absolute favorite for scores of pros and fans. So God bless it, and god bless all of you in attendance. Here's some advice if you're going but you're not quite sure what to expect:
image 1) Do a full circuit of the entire room and pay close attention to what's being offered before buying anything -- it's really easy to skip over stuff or to buy something on impulse ahead of something you'd rather have that you see two hours later. You will feel better by show's room having gotten a sense of the room and the snapshot of comics that comes with it than if you skip this step.

2) Buy something homemade or original: leave with something that's unique rather than simply shift around the time and place of something you would eventually buy anyway.

3) Pay attention to the bigger publishers, too. Although the heart of the show is the single cartoonist sitting behind an array of their wares, places like D&Q, PictureBox Inc. and Fantagraphics treat this show with a lot of respect. This means a lot of brand-new material, authors on hand in support of such material, and even special signing periods assembling groups of people together.

4) Do some programming. Like I said, it looks strong this year. Vegas tells me the over/under on uttered words from Joe McCulloch at the critics' roundtable is 27.

5) Go see John Porcellino. I can't boil down as many great cartoonists as are going to be on hand to a list of a dozen like Rob Clough has -- and it is a great group that will be in the building, including folks like Jerry Moriarty, Richard Thompson, Al Columbia and Carol Tyler -- but I do know that John Porcellino almost never goes to such things, he's a great cartoonist, he's a significant cartoonist, and his work is a sterling example of everything you'd like to believe about the kind of cartoonists that exhibit at SPX. Buy his latest King-Cat -- it's good -- or an advance copy of his latest collection (pictured) or just thank him, I don't know. Dive into meeting and buying work from and hearing stories from every cartoonist in which you have the least bit of interest on the premises, but make some Porcellino time.
I hope everyone has a great weekend and drives carefully. For more information, check out Chris Mautner's guide, which includes a list of books that he's anticipating.
 
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This Is An Astounding-Looking Thing

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nerdiest. transformer. ever.
 
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We Don't Know What's Wrong, Either

We do know that there's something going on with my e-mail and the RSS Feed, but what that might be seems beyond us at the moment. My apologies for any inconvenience.
 
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If I Were In MD, 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 Puyallup, I'd Go To This

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Remembering Dracula Magazine

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whoa
 
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Go, Bookmark: Ted Stearn's Site

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Go, Read: Looking At Life

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Go, Look: Two From Atlas Comics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* according to the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com, Radical Comics has signed a distribution deal with Random House for its squarebound comics.

* not comics: there's some fun reading about illustration to be found through the links here.

image* this article on how weird it is to make artists do sketches made me laugh, and of course the commissioned Roger Langridge cartoon is gorgeous.

* the writer and comics historian Mark Evanier says goodbye to Duoshade illustration board. I just know I'm going to be 80 years old using my metal claw hands to search the Mojonet or whatever it's called then and I'll read some article about the progeny of some present-day comics genius rediscovering all these old ways of doing things that were abandoned and flipping out about how great they are.

* the more things change, the more someone tends to rip off the version just past.

* Stan Lee comments on the sale of Marvel to a big media company... in 1986.

* David Welsh unearths some of his favorite items in the D&Q sale.

* I think it's good that cartoonists do this.

* finally, congratulations to writer Robert Venditti and artist Brett Weldele on what surely must be the odd but very fun and thrilling circumstance of seeing one's comic book changed into a massive motion picture with an iconic action star at its center. According to the awesome power of cable TV recently returned to my home, Surrogates opens today. I don't really have the site to do anything with all the preview material they keep sending me, and that stuff is certainly not comics, but I'm happy for the pair of them and hope they're having a great time with the experience. You can read the comic that started them on that journey here.
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Josh Latta!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Massimo Mattioli!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Bob Layton!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Kim Thompson!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Paul Pope!

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Quick hits
Craft
That Seth Float Design
On Translation and Yotsuba&!
Translations Of A Wordless Book

Exhibits/Events
Exhibit At Sean Phillips' House
Go See John Hankiweicz Exhibiting

History
On Getting Back Into Hulk

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jeff Parker
CBR: James Robinson
Newsarama: Jeff Parker
Marvel.com: R. Kikuo Johnson
CBR: Leah Moore, John Reppion
Trouble With Comics: Tony Isabella
Booksteve's Library: Roberta Gregory

Not Comics
Dick Durock, 1938-2009

Reviews
Don MacPherson: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Jog: Treehouse Of Horror #15
Andy Frisk: Superman: Secret Origin #1
James Hunt: Giant-Size Old Man Logan #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil Vol. 2
 

 
September 24, 2009


Sometimes It's Just The Button 02

A couple of "If I Were... I Would Do" posts failed to roll out today, and my e-mail is broken in a way that keeps me getting a timely reaction to their being missing.

The upshot is if you're in New York City or the greater New York City area deciding what to do this evening, please consider this and this. They both sound like swell events.
 
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Leif Peng's Bernie Fuchs Flickr Set

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Yaoi Press Founder Facing Federal Court Charges; Vows Business As Usual

Using this posting at the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com supplemented by this article from a local press angle at the Las Vegas Sun, a picture of Yaoi Press Founder Yamila Abraham's week takes shape. The publisher was arrested on Monday and charged with various crimes related to a web site business she maintained from 2004 to 2006, details in both articles.

There are a few things make this the kind of article discussed at CR above and beyond the unfortunate personal circumstance article we try like hell to avoid. First, the charges are severe enough that their outcome could have an obvious and potentially spine-severing sudden impact on the business. Second, the publisher has vowed business as usual in addition to proclaiming her innocence, framing it in terms of day-in, day-out support of her creators. Third, it's noted that Abraham was assigned a public defender after being found indigent, which isn't a rare thing about small press or specialty publishers but is worth noting in this sort of circumstance as the future of the publishing effort comes into question.

Deb Aoki has a complete round-up as well.
 
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Go, Look: Supervillains!!!

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via about 47 people
 
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Seriously, Please Stop Doing This

Pressing me for a review of your work -- with or without the bonus mini-lecture as to why I should be reviewing your comic and comics like them -- is so distasteful to me that all it does is make me mad at you in a way I'm no longer able to review your work fairly. And so I won't.

I understand the frustration with wanting to see your work reviewed, as there is such little reward in making comics of any type. I really do. But with such a message or series of same all you're saying is that the way I approach my work doesn't suit you. I fail in my job every day, but I do take it seriously. That includes a commitment to the many voices in the small press that I think can be measured back 15 years. It may not include a review of your latest book. I appreciate seeing all of the work I receive, recognize the very real cost in getting it to me, and I promise you I struggle to find something to say about each and every one.

If I've still disappointed you in some direct way you can take a measure of comfort that a review from me isn't anywhere near as influential as I've led my Mom to believe (in other words, not at all), and that as I've never failed to write without prompting about new work that I find superior or even transcendent, you might not automatically be happy with the final result.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, 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 NYC, 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 NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Japanese Nerdvertising

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Go, Look: Wise Men Of Gotham

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Go, Look: Isle Of Mad Revenge

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Go, Look: Dumb Crambo, Jr.

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Michael Dooley has an extensive piece up on Harvey Kurtzman that's well worth your time.

image* I guess it would be more surprising if he panned it, but it's nice to see this article. When I was a kid it was assumed in our house that Prince Valiant was the ultimate accomplishment in comics art.

* this is maybe the longest article I've ever seen Ron Hogan write, on Grant Morrison doing with his comics what Dan Brown claims to do with his latest book. I didn't know who Dan Brown was when I read the headline, and I sure wouldn't have made that connection with what little I know about his work.

* not comics: Seth designed a parade float, citing the connection of the parade float to the past. It would make sense for a lot of cartoonists to design parade floats, but the only other one I can think of is John Romita.

* the cartoonist Daryl Cagle wants you to vote on a cartoon of his that's received some negative feedback.

* finally, this strip didn't make me think of 9/11 at all, but to each his own.
 
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Go, Look: Three By Richard Thompson

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Quick hits
Craft
Zombie Batman

Exhibits/Events
TCAF Teaser Image

History
An Early Gig For Jim Lee
That's One Muscular Speedster
Another Secret Origin For Manga
There Have Been Too Many Marvel Comics
Seriously, Way Too Many Damn Marvel Comics

Industry
I Don't Like The Word Monetize Either
Android Market Adds Comics Category

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Paul Pope
CBR: Phil Hester
Newsarama: Terry Moore
Newsarama: Ed Brubaker
Marvel.com: Jacob Chabot
Collected Comics Library: Brian Fies

Not Comics
Xaime T-Shirts

Publishing
Woodring's Next Is In The Can
Eye On Comics Springs Back To Life

Reviews
Lori Henderson: Domo
Sean T. Collins: Various
Grant Goggans: FTL #1-2
Andy Frisk: The Shield #1
Doug Sawisza: Underground #1
Richard Bruton: Donkey Head #1-2
Grant Goggans: Fin Fang Four Return
Leroy Douresseaux: Yu-Gi-Oh! R Vol. 1
Grant Goggans: Little Annie Fanny Vol. 2
Grant Goggans: Showcase Presents: Bat Lash
Chris Allen: Love & Rockets New Stories #1-2
Grant Goggans: Judge Dredd: Heavy Metal Dredd
Grant Goggans: Requiem -- Vampire Knight: Resurrection
Johanna Draper Carlson: Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs Vol. 14
 

 
September 23, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon


* I think the above is from the same Afrodisiac project due out at the end of this year that's been mentioned in this column before, but it's an entertaining image, so I'm not going to complain. This is amusing, too.

* Comic Book Resources tracks down what happened to Fraser Irving's promised run on Batman and Robin: it's been moved to issues #10-12.

image* according to a post on the blog through which he's been rolling out various chapters and story snippets, Steve Lafler plans on having a graphic novel version of his El Vocho out in 2010.

* Yen Press received much positive buzz for its announcement of a manga adaptation of the first of Lisi Harrison's The Clique books. There's a weird mechanism in comics where folks argue with great passion over whether or not announcements like this are good or not based on various asserted grasps at the series' potential and likely sales, but I'll skip that. The prose books are certainly popular.

* I did not know that Bill Willingham and Bill Williams will be writing the lead feature/back-up respectively on a run of IDW's Angel comics, nor did I know that they were starting to explore working with characters from previous comics into their own stories.

* there is probably something psychologically revealing in the use of the words "worth picking," but rather than dissect that I just thought it interesting to note how DC is packaging together runs on certain books sorted by creator. This is more the way, say, fans identify and buy a bunch of old back issues than companies have traditionally been likely to organize things, or at least it feels that way.

* it's been a while since I looked at the part of the Top Shelf catalog that talks about future releases, but I was compelled to when someone e-mailed to ask if there was going to be comic called The Story Of My Tits (there will be, by Jennifer Hayden). Other non-Alan Moore titles scheduled for that year as of right now are the Bacchus Two-Volume Omnibus from Eddie Campbell (which may be a change, I can't remember), the early Craig Thompson collection Kissypoo Garden and the Ray Fawkes and Vince Locke collaboration Junction True. I would imagine some 2010 releases will get punted back into 2011 as the months pass, and some of the vaguely-scheduled books -- new Pete Sickman-Garner, for example -- might slip into a certain year, and that they'll have perennials (James Kochalka, Andy Runton) as well as the expected Alan Moore stuff but it's fun to take this kind of look ahead.

* finally, Bill Barnes of Unshelved has with artist Paul Southworth launched a long-gestating strip about his time in the software industry called Not Invented Here. If nothing else, that's one of the better titles. Unshelved continues unabated. (via)

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There's A Sale Going On At D&Q

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This link at Drawn and Quarterly's site indicates a 50 percent sale on-line and a 30 percent sale at their store, while the catalog link seems to offer up various books at various discounts. But it's all good, getting D&Q books cheaper than usual. I mean, you can buy the first two Aya books for $20, perhaps in preparation of putting it with the forthcoming third as a Christmas gift, or you can get yourself a giant pile of Chester Brown comic books for less than $30. What's not to like? thanks, Brad McKay

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LA Times On Marvel/Disney Negotiations

I'm putting this here mostly as a reminder of myself, but this article from the LA Times drawn from recent financial disclosures of the Disney/Marvel variety is sure to delight and thrill all of those with penchant for numbers. It basically details the stock option payout portion of what key Marvel folks will receive and notes that Bank Of America was paid some whopping amount for helping to put the deal together or creating life in a laboratory or exploring Mars or something similar.
 
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Go, Look: Doug Fraser At Drawger

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thanks, Chris Pitzer
 
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Iranian Cartoonists In The News

* the cartoonist Nikahang Kowsar is among the many artists and commentators paying close attention to the details of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trip to the US, and this post features one of his cartoons.

* here's a fairly full report on the content of Marjane Satrapi's speech at a college using her Persepolis as an incoming across-class book. Her response to being called a graphic novelist is amusing.

* here's an article about that protest of the cartoon biennial by a number of cartoonists that puts it into the context of similar protests by artists of all types.

* finally, I love any excuse to run a link to a news story about an Iranian cartoonist receiving an award at some sort of international cartooning contest. You can't go three weeks without a story like that showing up on the links radar, although I rarely get an opportunity to run them. I have no grasp of this chain of contests out there, or what benefits are involved with winning them, and I sort of like it that way.
 
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Go, Look: Richard Corben Gallery

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Go, Read: AAEC July Meeting Report

I wasn't able to attend this year's meeting of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Seattle, and I've been fairly hungry for news from it ever since. A lot of folks made that trip in a lousy economy. The second major burst of postings this year at the AAEC site yields this report from JP Trostle that has a link round-up and a rough outline on what went on.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: The Great Art Young

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Go, Look: Steve Brodner On Vacation

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Go, Look: The Manga Hall Of Shame

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Go, Look: Jampur Fraize On Flickr

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Jacob Covey isn't lying: the Conrad Groth sketchbook is an amazing damn thing. I remember talking to a cartoonist from the first dozen pages that was nearly having a nervous breakdown trying to work himself up to the skill level of those who had already contributed.

* the cartoonist Craig Thompson talks about suddenly feeling like you've lost your graphic novel many hundred pages in.

image* I thought this post about the Avengers and its classic line-ups versus the massively successful Bendis-era line-up was fairly interesting. It makes total sense that Marvel's not going to return to a less successful model, particularly one that best serves 45-year-olds, but it's also true that an Avengers movie isn't going to have Wolverine or Spider-Man in it. Well, probably not. Complicating things further, what such a movie will likely resemble is that Ultimates stuff, which goes by a really long name now. I know I had a point -- oh, I remember: It hit me reading this that unlike in the past when older fans complained about the way things used to be, there's a whole generation of comics fans that's between 35 to 45 that's spent a hugely unnatural 25-35 years being a significant audience for superhero comic books that if still hanging around is going to have to wave goodbye to a lot of concepts like "classic Avengers" over the next few years.

* the writer Sean Kleefeld breaks down a recent Brad Guigar reader survey in terms of comparing two questions and what that says about the comics reading habits of those readers.

* not comics: people keep e-mailing me links to this story about the ongoing retail Armageddon, including bad news for bookstores. That means someone had it first. Sorry, someone.

* the cartoonist Evan Dorkin pays tribute to the late Yoshito Usui.

* one feature that I frequently use but never link to is J. Caleb Mozzocco's look at Previews offerings from the big mainstream comics companies. It's smart, it's to the point, and reading it is about as much time as I want to spend musing on their respective publishing strategies. Here's his latest Marvel; here's his latest DC.

* man, Carl Burgos drew one wacky-looking Thing.

* I'm not certain I follow Alan Doane through all the permutations of this mini-essay, but I do think the relative reluctance to make any kind of overture to creators makes a difference as to how people might potentially see the enforcement of these contracts. It's difficult when you read about a bunch of dopes on a second-tier TV show getting extravagant gifts from the network when their show wins an People's Choice Award to think of comics creators directly responsible for a half-billion dollar movie driving God knows how much more licensing revenue not seeing a dime. My friends are more generous to whatever guy is working the craps table in Las Vegas casinos than most comics companies are to their creators on such matters, and my friends still charge each other for gas money.

* not comics: Marvel and a company that sounds like it has something to do with bowel movements is having a contest for budding limited-motion cartoonists to make them a limited motion cartoon starring their characters. Johanna Draper Carlson expresses her doubts that this is a good deal for the contest winner.

* finally, Jog takes a look at the comic that came with a specific edition of Magical Mystery Tour. There was a FOOM comic that baffled me for years when I was a kid where Professor X was replacing all the X-Men with eggs and one of the eggs says "I Am The Walrus." This has nothing to do with that.
 
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Happy 78th Birthday, Stan Lynde!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Jean-Claude Mezieres!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Paul Ryan!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Peter David!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Dan Day!

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Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Makes A Cover
Bigger Scan Of Chris Ware Granta Cover

Exhibits/Events
Matt Madden Is Busy
Photo Array From Bangpop
This Looks Like An Old SPX

History
Shaenon Garrity Starts Telling History Of Yaoi

Industry
Lio Contest Finalists
William Vance Receives Regional Award

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Matt Fraction
Newsarama: Mike McKone
Sequential Tart: Tate Ottati
Blog@Newsarama: David Lapham
SLC Weekly: Jeff Parker, Steve Lieber

Not Comics
I Will Get You, Doane
This Is Either Gross Or Hilarious

Publishing
More Laika News
Invincible #66 Previewed
Beasts Of Burden #1 Previewed
David Welsh Tells You What To Buy

Reviews
Noah Berlatsky: Sailor Moon
Chris Allen: Manhunter Vol. 5
Danielle Leigh: Yotsuba&! Vol. 6
Marc Sobel: Disappearance Diary
Jared Gardner: West Coast Blues
Ed Sizemore: Some New Kind Of Slaughter
 

 
September 22, 2009


This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely 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 tomorrow I would pick them up and crease the corners of the front covers in order to protest all those greedy artists and their families who are seeking control of copyright as potentially afforded them by law.

*****

JUL090740 BART SIMPSONS TREEHOUSE OF HORROR #15 $4.99
The Kramers Ergot crowd does Simpsons comics, which I'm going to assume is way more "some of the best cartoonists in the world do Simpsons comics" than it is "look at how weird it is when this kind of cartoonist does this kind of comic." Comic-book comic of the Fall.

JUL090160 WEDNESDAY COMICS #12 (OF 12) $3.99
There has to be a joke about a newspaper-format comic going the way of most newspapers; I can't find it. It should be interesting to see if sales will have an effect for how this material might be collected.

JUL090397 INVINCIBLE #66 $2.99
JUN090384 MADMAN ATOMIC COMICS #17 $3.50
JUL090522 INCREDIBLE HERCULES #135 $2.99
These are three issues from three generally well-regarded, standard-format superhero serials...

JUN091127 DETROIT METAL CITY GN VOL 02 (MR) $12.99
JUN091097 TEZUKAS BLACK JACK TP VOL 07 $16.95
APR090064 EDEN TP VOL 12 (MR) $12.95
... and these are three volumes from three generally well-regarded manga series.

JUL090341 UNDERGROUND #1 (OF 4) $3.50
Any adventure comic book that takes as one of its primary inspiration Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom is okay with me.

JUN091052 AL WILLIAMSON FORBIDDEN WORLDS SC $25.00
This would have to be at least pretty good, right?

JUN091031 DUNGEON THE EARLY YEARS GN VOL 02 $12.95
More of the skipping-around fantasy series, this time -- for the last time, maybe -- with Christophe Blain providing finished art.

APR090430 GOLDEN AGE MARVEL COMICS OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 $125.00
I sincerely wish I had the money to buy giant books collecting a bunch of comics in sequential order from the comic book's initial era.

JUN090780 MUPPET PETER PAN #1 $2.99
JUL090765 MUPPET SHOW TREASURE OF PEG LEG WILSON #3 (OF 4) $2.99
The latest burst of Boom! muppet material, the latter of which likely features Roger Langridge.

*****

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 so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

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, 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. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic here, it's probably on the secret list.

*****

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Go Read, Bookmark: El Vocho

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* I feel I have to be careful when I discuss things like the Yale University Press decision to drop all depictions of Muhammad including the Danish cartoons from a book about the Danish cartoons because much of the criticism arises from an element of conservative North American politics I don't trust right now in terms playing fair with rhetoric. I can't imagine agreeing with any of the criticisms of multiculturalism in this book, but it's hard to defend that point of view as long as people are making idiotic decisions regarding how to process the Danish Muhammad cartoons and the resulting period of riots, death, economic boycotts and political turmoil that followed.

* all that said, I don't see any reason why I can't join this writer in a big ol' "Huh?" when it comes to reconciling famed Danish cartoonist and one-time proven assassination plot target Kurt Westergaard appearing on Yale's campus October 1 with the claims that the cartoons were kept out of the Yale University Press book in order to keep students safe from violence. If security is such a paramount concern they're editing academic textbooks, why do that visit at all?

* here's a letter that starts by saying that the decision by publisher and author not to run the cartoons in the forthcoming book isn't censorship but is still deeply unfortunate. I agree with both assertions.
 
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Go, Look: Zachary Flagg Baldus

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More On Kirby Heirs & Copyrights

I'm still scrambling to understand the ramifications of the Kirby heirs seeking reclamation of copyrights related to their father, Jack Kirby. In the meantime, I'd suggest Kevin Melrose's catch that Spider-Man is included; Nat Gertler's post on how the reporting on this story, including some of it here, has kind of stunk; and the depressing and even angry complaints of fans in another Robot 6 thread bubbling up from what I believe is a heady combination of fear, fanboy entitlement and comics boosterism. The Spider-Man thing is likely to fuel the kinds of complaints in the third link, although I have no idea why. If I thought I deserved 1/1500th of Spider-Man, for the sake of my family I'd likely file whatever needed to be filed to get it and I can't imagine anyone not living off of a healthy trust fund or from a very peculiar and rigidly constructed set of ethics who wouldn't.
 
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Go, Look: The Last Match

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blog; flickr
 
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Go, Read: Yoshito Usui Remembered

There's a nice follow-up article here on the accident-related passing of cartoonist Yoshito Usui. It indicates both the popularity the cartoonist and his most popular feature Crayon Shin-chan, but suggests that like Dennis Mitchell and Bart Simpson, that feature's lead started out as a subject of slight dismay for teacher and parents but eventually went on to gain cultural acceptance, starring in later educational material. The camera story, which I won't repeat here, is also a peach.
 
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If I Were In Ohio, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Geevum Girls

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Go, Look: Adolescent Encyclopedia

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Go, Look: Lash Lightning

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Go, Look: I Fell For A Commie

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Comics Comics' Tim Hodler and cartoonist Lauren Weinstein on the birth of their baby girl.

* I really love when Daryl Cagle talks about re-using certain motifs, as it's not only interesting but I think this confessional tone gives him the moral force to kick anyone who stole one of the cartoons right in the nads!

image* here's the kind of nonsense that's filling my head recently. The reason Norman Osborn doesn't 100 percent work as a villain in the wider Marvel Universe is that a key and yet frequently under-appreciated aspect of the seminal Spider-Man comics revolves around the fact that Peter Parker frequently encounters adults. The vast majority of these adults are disappointments. Some are outright dicks. The Green Goblin is the ultimate dickish, disappointing adult, and thus Spider-Man's arch-villain (or shares that honor with JJJ, if you're inclined to read the comics that way). Here's the thing: Norman Osborn popping into his Green Goblin costume is the key to his particular brand of dickishness. It's like somebody's dad showing up at the end of the beach movie to drag race against the new kid in town, or popping up in a football huddle so that he can tackle the struggling but ready to win quarterback. It's a dick move, a total invasion into Peter Parker's world by someone who should know better. But when Norman comes up against other costumed villains as he does in this new Marvel stuff, he's an adult wearing an adult costume (that Iron Man thing) fighting other adults: a dick, but not a special one tied into some characters overarching theme. He's Jasper Sitwell on a bad day.

* see? I'm obviously going crazy.

* Dan Shahin interviewed Dan Vado on his radio show. In other news, Dan Shahin has a radio show.

* the esteemed comics scholar Rusty Witek expands on Charles Hatfield's essay on the need for an academic appreciation of comics.

* if this somehow means we get to see Jughead courtside at a Lakers game and Reggie Mantle acting pissed off outside of a club on TMZ, it will all be worth it.

* finally, some not comics: it's hard not to read Roger Ebert's long discussion of the destruction of the once-thriving indie film market and see some parallels to comics, particularly in its author musing after the financial returns from alternative distribution and the fact that what's operating to destroy this system comes down to conscious choice as much as the application of any market pressures.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Peter Kuper!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Noah Berlatksy

History
Space Cabby Sunday
Samm Schwartz, Fashionista
The Most Iconic Hal Jordan Covers

Interviews/Profiles
ComiXology: Josh Cotter
Comics Alliance: Paul Tobin
Comics Bulletin: Caryn Tate
Comics Worth Reading: Robert Venditti

Not Comics
I Love That Tie

Publishing
Doctor Voodoo Stuff Previewed

Reviews
Jog: Manga
Will Fitzpatrick: Ho!
Hervé St-Louis: Exodus
Dustin Harbin: Hey, Wait...
Hervé St-Louis: Thor Annual #1
Nina Stone: Beasts Of Burden #1
Grant Goggans: Get Your War On
Will Fitzpatrick: Giraffes In My Hair
Hervé St-Louis: Dark Avengers #9
Zak Edwards: Beasts Of Burden #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: xkcd Vol. 0
Sean T. Collins: Clive Barker's Suduth
Hervé St-Louis: The Mighty Avengers #29
Hervé St-Louis: The Invincible Iron Man #18
Grant Goggans: The Art Of Harvey Kurtzman
Ed Sizemore: Otaku: Japan's Database Animals
Grant Goggans: Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted
Hervé St-Louis: Dark Reign the List Avengers #1
Hervé St-Louis: Daredevil -- Dark Reign: The List #1
Grant Goggans: It's A Good Life, If You Don't Weaken
 

 
September 21, 2009


Kirby Heirs Seek Copyright Return

The Los Angeles law firm of Toberoff & Associates has sent out 45 notices of copyright termination to several companies including Marvel, Disney, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal concerning characters in which the visionary comics creator Jack Kirby had a creative hand. This likely includes the bulk of the creations driving interest that led to Marvel's recent acquisition deal by Disney and the long ramp-up of high-end deals including a run of successful movies that made this deal happen. In doing so, Toberoff & Associates are said to represent the interests of Kirby's children. As everyone and their mom has no doubt mentioned by now, Toberoff & Associates is the firm representing the interests of the heirs to the creators of Superman in their ongoing litigation with Warner Brothers and DC Comics, and is a firm that specializes in this kind of matter, doing so successfully with a number of television and film properties.

If successful in pressing this series of claims, the character rights in question would return to the Kirby children, who would then be free to seek out new deals for the length of their time holding onto the copyrights, whatever that might be, after which I believe the characters would then become public domain. Characters in which Kirby had at least at hand in their creation -- if he was not solely responsible -- include nearly every popular Marvel character from the early 1960s and almost every character made into a popular film. That would mean a cascading series of characters being up for this legal action starting in 2017. Although it's worth mentioning that the original linked-to article asserts one such claim coming up in 2014.

Some initial thoughts:

* I think a big part of this being news is who's involved as opposed to simply the kind of action being pursued. The fact that aggressive litigator Toberoff & Associates is the attorney of record makes this a bigger deal because of their past successes. It also grants some sort of foundational legitimacy, that there must be something to the legal claim because they're involved. That doesn't mean this won't be called into question. In fact, I bet someone out there asserts this is a tried-in-the-media case without standing where the law firm is expecting to set up a reaction in the press more than an outcome in the courtroom -- I can't imagine that's true, but I bet someone says it. There's also something striking about the Kirby children working together as one on this, as implied, but I'm not sure I have any specific explanation as to why that hits me a certain way.

* it's unclear to me how much previous assignments of any kind will have an impact on what's being done here. I suppose that could be the gist of the whole thing, but it could also be beside the point. I'm unclear on the law and I'm unclear on the history, to be honest. My understanding of the law as person that can spell "law" is that the bulk of what's going to be in question was created well within that window of properties targeted by the changes in copyright law, but I'm unclear as to how important it is to have a history of pre-existing creation as per the details of the Siegel Family's case as that continues. As to the history, Kirby asserted at times that he never signed documents that indicated that what he'd done was work for hire, although other mainstream comics historians disagree and certainly Marvel has always moved forward with confidence in the security of their ownership contracts and a company like Disney would not enter into the kind of overarching ownership relationship with them without a similar strength of conviction in those bonds. It could be that this permutation of copyright law makes all of this moot, too. Everyone's being quiet for now, but I look forward to links on what's being said inside these corporations and a bit of unpacking of the legal ramifications.

* it will be interesting to see if they will stick to clearer lines of creation vis-a-vis Kirby -- the characters where he's credited as artist or generally acknowledged as sole or co-creator, say -- or if it will include characters which Kirby had more of an indirect hand or even arguable contribution, specifically Spider-Man. I think the fact that Sony was apparently served means that the rights pursued include some part of Spider-Man.

* I hope without much encouragement that there won't be the usual round of hissing from superhero fans castigating the family for seeking whatever new situation they feel is due them, or the even odder permutation of asserting an imaginary ideal copyright law situation in this country as a launching point to throw some of the same stones. If I had my way with copyright law via a wave of my mighty scepter, Frank Sinatra Jr. would probably lead a team of show-biz progeny turned assassins to my home, but the family members don't get the option of reshaping the landscape of applicable law when deciding how to apply for certain considerations. Anyone that types the words "whiny" or "greedy" near the name Kirby in the next few days should be ashamed of themselves.

* I can't help but think of two things that likely don't apply to this at all: Marvel's parsimony relative to DC in making payments to original creators of characters and concepts when the movies are successful, and the longstanding rumor that DC ran around shoring up its rights to many of its characters as the Siegel Family case started to loom so as not to have a repeat.

* in the end I think these characters stay on much the same path they're on -- or one like it -- because that path has been a profitable one; getting there might be a huge pain in the ass, though, enough so to potentially alter the desirability of certain deals. If deals are pursued with alacrity and verve and fairness and a desire to do the right thing this could someday be little more than a footnote in history. Toberoff & Associates have kept that kind of ideal outcome information close to the vest with the Siegels and I expect they'll play it just as close with the Kirbys.
 
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Missed It: A Derek Kirk Kim Webcomic

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Yoshito Usui, 1958-2009

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Yoshito Usui, a comics artist and creator of the internationally popular manga, Crayon Shin-Chan, died while hiking near his home in Kasukabe. He was found at the bottom of a cliff near Mount Arafune. Usui had gone hiking on the 11th and fell out of contact with family members soon after, not answering his cell phone. The police began searching at his wife's request on the 15th; the body was discovered on the 19th by a hiker and identified by family and dental records on Sunday. Usui frequently hiked in the area, although perhaps not that close to Mount Arafune.

Usui was born in Shizuoka. He began his career in the mid-1980s and became a contributor to the magazine Action. His most famous serial in that magazine was Crayon Shin-chan, about a five-year-old. It went on to a popular solo series, an internationally-distributed animated version and extensive merchandising including video games. The manga was published in France by Sakka and by Planeta DeAgostini Comics in Spain, where the character became very popular. The manga was published in North America by CMX. CMX has published nine volumes to date, with a tenth due in December. CMX was able to launch its version after the cartoon's run on Adult Swim.

Usui continued to create comics that never quite matched the success of his signature feature. Current publishers Manga Town will continue serializing Usui's work until its December issue. There has been no decision about new episodes of the animated series schedule for release next month.

He was 51 years old.
 
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Go, Look: Dave English's Drawings

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a fascinating post
 
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Siegel Family Case Still Unresolved After Mediation; Judge To Leave Case

Jeff Trexler reports that a 9/11 mediation summit between the family of Jerry Siegel and the Warner Brothers' owned DC Comics over Superman failed to resolve their differences. Further, the judge assigned to the case has announced his intention to leave the bench by mid-Fall. The first is important because it indicates there are some specific issues still in play, while the second is important because the entire tenor of the case could change with a new presiding authority.
 
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Go, Bookmark: The Projectionist

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AAEC Names 2009-2010 Officer Slate

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has named their officers for the 2009-2010 year. As indicated by his previous role as president-elect, Rex Babin will serve as this year's president. Steve Kelley slips into the president-elect role. The vice president will be Mikhaela Reid, the secretary-treasurer role will be filled by V. Cullum Rogers, and the directors will be Mark Fiore, Jeff Parker and Mike Thompson. Immediate Past President Ted Rall will also serve on the board in his capacity as the most recent organization president.

The new Board took office Friday.

The press release also noted that the membership voted 62-4 in favor of the following amendment, making it part of the organization's bylaws:
Article XIX: Ethical Guidelines
In order the maintain the integrity of the editorial cartooning profession, members of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists agree to never engage in plagiarism, the act of appropriating another creator's work as one's own. If a member is accused of a clear and brazen act of plagiarism, the Board may act to permanently or temporarily suspend his or her membership.
It's unclear when and where the vote took place.
 
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Go, Look: The Best Comics Of 5769

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Go, Look: Montreal Comicon Photos

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Go, Look: Long John Silver

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Go, Look: Dash Shaw's Photos From The Rio De Janeiro Book Fair

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Brian Brown says he is trying to put together the must-buy list for the upcoming Small Press Expo. Won't you join him?

image* for all you process fans out there, or just fans of Richard Sala like I am, there's a great post at his site about his process for interiors on Delphine that people keep e-mailing me.

* the great Gaston Dominguez-Letelier of Meltdown talks about selling manga at his store in conjunction with a $1 manga sale that he freely admits is partly a result of some bad buying decisions.

* longtime industry veteran Scott Edelman celebrated what would have been Steve Gerber's 62nd birthday by reprinting the Marvel Comics memo that pretty much said, "This Howard the Duck comic book? Sort of a hit."

image* the cartoonist Jeff Smith walks through his various under-one-cover Bone covers, including the one at the left that I've always liked. Smith has a great conversational tone when it comes to such presentations and you get to hear about the book's history through the covers.

* David Wynne writes a million words on Zenith; Patrick Meaney talks a million more on The Invisibles to CBR.

* the critic Graeme McMillan looks at the transition between that last extended run of Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin and Glynis Wein on Uncanny X-Men and the not-great comics that came after. I always just imagined it was the loss of Byrne's instincts as a co-plotter, which seemed to me pretty strong at that time, but who knows?

* I haven't read it yet, but I'm glad to see a long review of the two-issue Jaime Hernandez superhero feature in the last two Love & Rockets. Those pages are really casual and beautiful in the way you want to yell at people on the bus to recognize this fact.

* not comics: I have either no idea or the roughest of rough ones what this thing is or what game it's for or why they give away stuff like this to attend business meetings and I'd probably throw it away in two months but me still wanty.

* always fun to see a Drew Friedman.

* the writer Kevin Church notes that this is the kind of cartoon that can come back to haunt you when all of your clients go out of business a few years from now, but it's hard to throw that rock when he's already made many lifetime's worth of cash. Maybe it's better to criticize it just because it's ungenerous and mean?

* finally, Jamie Coville recommends this article about a comic shop moving and expanding, with the caveat that there is another comic shop in the town in question, and the store that closed down was called Cosmic Comics.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Craig Thompson!

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Quick hits
Craft
Zombie Hulk
Nick Abadzis Sketches
Those Donahue Hands

Exhibits/Events
Porcellino Tour Swag
New Florida Exhibit Opens
Richard Thompson Is Going To SPX
Evan Dorkin On Bergen Street Comics Signing

History
On Namor
On GI Joe #21
Abbey Road Cover Motif
Ladies And Dr. Strange Comic Books

Industry
David Welsh On Meltdown And Manga

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Richard Sala
Inkstuds: Paul Karasik
ComicsAlliance: Diane Nelson
Tall Tale Radio: Andrew Farago
A Nickel's Worth: Randy Glasbergen

Not Comics
Bernie Fuchs, RIP

Publishing
Another Free Zim Book
Picture This! Previewed
Forthcoming Vertigo Covers
Video For New Will Dinski Book
Map Of My Heart Will Be Out Soon
Please Publish This Awesome Comic Book

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Glen Weldon: Stitches
Kim Larsen: Blindtofte
Tucker Stone: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Joker
Curt Purcell: Blackest Night #3
Jog: Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Marvels Project #1-2
Sean T. Collins: Gangsta Rap Posse #1
Richard Bruton: Necessary Monsters #3-4
Koppy McFad: The Brave and the Bold #27
Leroy Douresseaux: Animal Academy Vol. 2
Ed Sizemore: Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Vol. 5
Koppy McFad: Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #5
Gordon Flagg: Turok Son Of Stone Archives Vol. 2
Sandy Bilus: The Red Monkey Double-Happiness Book
J. Caleb Mozzocco: The Marvelous Misadventures Of Fun-Boy
 

 
Well, That Was One Monday In Row Without A Gigantic Big-Name News Story

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more when I wake up; I want Evanier to say something
 
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September 20, 2009


Five Basic Ways Comics May Have Changed Over The Last Five Years

I've been reflective this last week as CR went past its five-year anniversary, specifically on how the industry has changed in that time. I'm also preparing my initial notes for some end-of-decade thoughts and analysis, some first thoughts that will hopefully lead to deeper, more sustained, better-supported work in December and January. I thought I might share them here in their initial form in order to receive any feedback some of you might be willing to share, or to spark similar thoughts of your own when the proper time comes.

(I do have worries about sharing these ideas here in unfinished form. When recently preparing a worksheet for what I assume will be many end-of-decade discussions about the great comics works, it seems as if everyone and their mom took something I was making for people to use in their Top Comics Of The Decade lists as a top comics list of its own. "I think MY comic deserves to be somewhere on your stupid list" was the outright or hidden message in far too many of my e-mails for a couple of weeks there. It's a worksheet. What's funny is that not only is this not a top comics list, many of the comics on that list right now give me the hives and are some of the worst comics I've read this decade. It's just that I can conceive of some people disagreeing with me and thinking they're great, so I wanted to give folks a chance to consider them and make up their own mind. To repeat: it's a worksheet for making lists; not a list. There's plenty of time for that later.)

Anyway, here are some initial thoughts on what's different now than when CR started in September 2004. I hope you'll accept them in the spirit that they're offered.

1. People Died Because Of Cartoons
In 2005 the newspaper Jyllands-Posten decided to call attention to a story about an author apparently unable to find an illustrator for a religiously oriented project by publishing a dozen pictures of the prophet Muhammad from a dozen different cartoonists. The initial burst of protests about the impropriety of the newspaper in doing so given the overall political climate in Denmark and the newspaper's role as an important cultural institution soon went underground and eventually reemerged as international tragedy. Carried forward by demagogues who went so far as to manipulate imagery so that the cartoons included much more obviously upsetting visuals, the issue crawled back to light in early 2006 with economic force, political force and ultimately violence. Over 100 people died in related protests and actions. It took several weeks for the Danish Cartoons Controversy to stop being a front section of the newspaper story, and it not only occasionally flashes back into the news when, say, a cartoonist involved is threatened with assassination, it remains a nasty and unhealed background wound that informs any number of similar or related political and cultural stories.

I think the Danish Cartoons story is important by the standard measure we bring to events: how it ended lives, how it disrupted politics, how it caused money to be moved around and how its impact has lingered. The rest of the world learned about the seriousness with which several cultures view cartoon art. Journalists debated the responsibility of newspapers in terms of how to behave vis-à-vis stunts or events related to important issues and also how to inform their readership when things get potentially scary. Many failed outright to meet their journalistic obligations, including some that have tried desperately since to fold the entire set of mad and disappointing actions into a more comfortable and flattering narrative. It's been an amazing story.

2. Newspapers Began Their Fade
There were always signs that newspapers weren't what they used to be, but until the last five years, those stories in comics terms usually concentrated one things like there not being any two-newspaper towns and all the competitive advantages this brought to comic strips, or syndicate fees being frozen at a level that made the comics kingpins of years past richer men when appearing in fewer newspapers. Those who depend on the health of newspaper for comics revenues are almost nostalgic for those days right now, as newspapers cut staff like mad – staffed editorial cartoonist positions may number less than 40 – and seek every possible way to save money here and there and negotiate on-line content. Many simply closed.

So what happened? No one knows yet, but we can all guess. I think the best way to describe it is two fold. First, that newspapers lost their monopoly on display advertising and classified advertising revenues just as those things enjoyed a significant overall decline in several markets. Second, that the apparatus designed around the newspaper's delivery of information was poorly constructed in terms of a generational and technological shift just about everyone should have seen on the horizon.

As for causes, I'm with those who point out that newspapers have been so profitable for so long that suddenly being less profitable or even losing money has made many of those who have had to make decisions as to how react feel like the Monopoly Man being dragged from his limo and beaten with sticks. Newspapers made a choice with those profits to pursue strategies in terms of customer service that have one by one been subsumed into other media.

They also failed to plan for lean times. The primary newsroom culture in North America isn't one of liberal bias but of indolence. In many newsrooms the appearance of new technologies did not bring with them adjustments in staff or expectations for daily production, which was fine for as long as the profits kept rolling in. The competitive nature of the profitable comics syndicates meant no feature with even a modest client list was ever abandoned; there have been great strips and hugely popular ones that have come along since the form's heyday but few that were both of those things and even fewer that felt like something concrete and different from a leviathan made up of Grandpa's church pew humor. Even the best strips – and there are so many good ones – sometimes feel like your favorite comedian slipping in a smart joke or two from their supporting role on a bland sitcom. Mostly, though, there's a feeling of doom -- even as cartoonists successful in this area make payments on huge homes and fast cars -- that there simply aren't enough eyeballs to keep the whole enterprise going for too much longer, the moves to providing material on-line have been somehow rash and too late in coming, and the long, long party that is a living to match the skill provided may come to an end.

3. Iron Man Made $585 Million Worldwide
It's not crazy to suggest that the recent big-company moves involving Marvel's purchase by Disney and DC's restructuring in a way that favors brand management are both due to Marvel's Summer 2008 blockbuster movie Iron Man. For Marvel it suggested that its catalog of characters wasn't split into surprising but sturdy franchises like Blade and big-name, summer-defining pop culture icons like Spider-Man, but may yield opportunities to combine the two. For DC it suggested that maybe working one or two characters -- no matter how successful any one of those movies might become -- could be seen as leaving food on the plate.

A key difference in the two moves is that no matter how you spin it, and it will continue to be spun, someone at DC moved from their present job in order to make room for new people and that's not the case at Marvel. This difference brings with it a form of implicit criticism. I'm certain without looking that someone from Warners has already used the phrasing that there was nothing wrong at DC, per se, and that they want to make things even better. I'm sure of it. I'm also not sure you can believe them, not all the way, and I imagine as more general statements of value get out into the public, you'll be able to compare them to DC's strategies and find things that may be changed.

In fact, I think if you look at the way each publishing company is oriented towards supporting TV shows and films and new media and videogames, Marvel clearly makes more sense that way. Marvel's ability to make higher-profile comics hits of titles like Thor (a notoriously difficult title) and change its line-wide focus from X-Men to the Avengers a few years in advance of Marvel film priorities shifting in that same way seems a bit more in line with how people in charge of big entertainment companies proclaim they want than some of the bizarre series that have floated to the surface outside of Green Lantern's light at DC. At Marvel, Iron Man is central to many of the past few events. At DC, you're as likely to see a major event with a central role for Donna Troy as you are for Batman. Marvel re-launches its movie-style Avengers title; DC launches a new Red Tornado mini-series. DC's individual creator most in tune with the modern film-driven publishing market seems to be Alan Moore 23 years ago. Marvel seems mostly in the general neighborhood of a publishing business in tune with a movie one if you grant all the difference in detail elements of those two markets will display.

It's a lot more complicated than that, of course. No matter what gets lost in the details, I think a lot of what we're seeing right now is driven by Robert Downey Jr. eating a hamburger, when something profitable became for a few brief moments something exciting, appealing and profitable and seems to have grown in reputation ahead of its very real numbers. I never would have guessed it.

4. Manga: Less A Phenomenon, More A Category

This is an area to which I'll have to return with numbers and an array of opinions from people more informed about its specifics than I am. For now it's a hunch. It seems, at least from my perspective, that the certainty of manga's triumph over everything in the comics world seems much less certain in 2009 than what was argued on its behalf in 2004. Further, I think this is a combination of very real changes to that element of publishing, but also in a scaling back of the rhetoric on its behalf.

Part of this is that you see limits to manga publishing that seemed aberrant in 2004 if you heard of them at all. Many of the popular series of that grand first wave of huge-selling titles are in the later volumes of their production lifetime or are finished outright. Shojo Beat is gone, as are a handful of niche and smaller publishers up to and including ADV. Certain popular genres have failed to gain a semblance of market presence in North America. Some promising individual titles from the first half of the decade trailed off and now seem unlikely to wrap up in translated form. On-line publishing is in its infancy for any number of reasons. Sometimes perception shapes reality. There has also been enough balkanization in North American comics sales avenues, unfortunate in so many ways, that have made manga's success seem less imposing than it has in those markets where it seems to have replaced a wide variety of comics in terms of desperately longed-for display space. No one should ignore manga, but a lot of people in North America have found a way.

Don't get me wrong. Translated manga remains a hugely popular and profitable and artistically rich expression of the comics form. It's just that as a category it doesn't seem to have the weird vibe it still maintained as late as 2004. Back then, the sky seemed the limit as to how many people might start reading this material, for how many years, and, if it was important to you for some reason, how many kids and what kind would soon be enjoying Fruits Basket and how this made the number of people and type of people that liked the latest Elongated Man mini-series look in comparison. It was some rich rhetorical rocket fuel. At this point, we don't have to -- or get to -- imagine a fictional conquest of the American comics market by Asian comics. We can look at the actual conquest. We can look at Naruto sales figures and have an idea as to how big that incredibly impressive audience is.

On the other hand, I could be wrong and the presence of American manga will soon get back to growing with the same speed and certainty once projected for it. Additionally, when digital comics hit the whole cycle could conceivably start over and we could be hearing about hopeless leads and material unsuited for certain types of devices and all the rest of it. For now, I'll enjoy the relative silence. When I think of all the Tezuka that's been translated, for instance, or getting to read Yoshihiro Tatsumi, or experiencing Cromartie High School, I can better appreciate them now for what they have to offer as opposed to what they symbolize, and I think that's a wonderful, positive thing.

5. There's More Internet Now, And It Changes Where We Almost Can't See It
In a thousand different ways, on-line activity in support of comics has changed over the last five years. It's something with which I've only begun to grapple, because so much of it seems incremental and hard to gauge. I have my suspicions, though, and I see some rough confluences.

The Internet has definitely changed since CR started in terms of allowing people easier access to more complex and resource-heavy expressions of comics, their discussion and general information about them. You see a lot more video now, for instance, in support of all sorts of different comics-related activities. The readers who in 2004 and 2005 complained because there was just way too much art on web sites like this one, I don't hear from them as frequently anymore. The major comics-related sites including publishers run massive, image-driven content previews as if it's second nature now. Although the major on-line presences have been a bit slow in embracing audio files as a supplementary way of reaching readers -- ESPN has a podcenter; CBR doesn't, I don't think, although it supports at least one popular such series -- the folding of video into coverage of the industry and its expressions seems to be proceeding in comics at roughly the same pace it has everywhere else that doesn't already generate video for television. Seems to; I don't know for sure.

The print publishers haven't made a major commitment to an on-line expression for comic as one might have predicted in 2004, although that's a sign of the times as well. Illegal uploading of that material for free has, for whatever reason, failed to overwhelm and invalidate the decidedly not-free print publication of those same comics. Although I'd favor a matter of fact commitment to a price point and wide availability while letting the technology shift underneath it and the ramifications for print publication settle wherever they may, I'm not running a major corporation and have few qualifications to do so. I think there will be some choices made here soon. I'm as worried about comics remaining a place where people can make a decent living as they are about comics remaining a source of corporate profits, so I'm happy for whatever steps they take to give them a best chance at both.

On-line comics seem less a wide-open field four years ago than they do now, with fewer big hits than I was being told would be all over the landscape by now, but those that are making it work succeeding in ways that would make first-generation Direct Market print comics self-publishers not named Eastman and Laird jealous. It all still seems to me vastly unsettled, though.

I think the thing that doesn't get explored as frequently that's changed is that people have grown more accustomed to an on-line facet of their lives and that these attitudes gently shape what we'll read and consume and listen to. From about 1999-2003 a lot of comics people enjoyed screaming at each other as their main Internet interaction concerning comics. I think that's less prevalent now, as is the ability where people read a lot of things about comics through RSS feeds for anyone to show up and with a modest effort gain the ability to drive thousands of eyeballs in traffic to a new site they want people to see. Now those efforts are sometimes measured in dozens of hits. It's a million small choices being made and how those choices shape reality that was always the most exciting thing about the Internet, and as much as the on-line options haven't changed in some fundamental ways they can't help but look different as everyone, even comics fans, grow accustomed to these devices.
 
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If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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FFF Results Post #181 -- Name Game

On Friday, CR readers were asked "Suggest Four Comics-Related Names You'd At Least Consider Giving To A Child And One You Wouldn't, Not Saying Which Is Which." This is how they responded.

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Evan Dorkin

1. Aleta
2. Sparky
3. Kara
4. Jeep
5. Harley Quinn

*****

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Aaron White

* Akane
* Jaka
* Maggie
* Valentina
* Rhino

*****

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Joe Schwind

* Veronica
* Jonah
* Minnie
* Tracy
* Iodine

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Linus
2. Norrin
3. Selina
4. Barda
5. Dondi

*****

image

Marc Sobel

1. Hopey
2. Skeezix
3. Rusty
4. Enid
5. Ignatz

*****

image

Scott Dunbier

Kirby
Skeezix
Burma
Val
Ditko

*****

image\

Nat Gertler

1. Licensable
2. Lotta
3. Jughead
4. Uatu
5. Superman-Tim

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Rerun
2. Poteet
3. Maggie
4. Seth
5. Swee' Pea

*****

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Rob Clough

1. Violet
2. Linus
3. Pepper
4. Spike
5. Richie

*****

image

Peggy Burns

* dagwood
* lulu
* betty
* enid
* tubby

*****

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Thomas Scioli

1. Kirby
2. Ikaris
3. Monsteroso
4. Avia
5. Kamandi

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Henry
2. Annie
3. Olive
4. Dororo
5. Maybonne

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Stig
2. Schroeder
3. Natasha
4. Ernesto
5. Jacques

*****

image

Buzz Dixon

1. Ace
2. Betty
3. Cricket
4. Donald
5. Farbinny

*****

image

Paul Sloboda

1. Aurora
2. Mirth
3. Binkley
4. Dormammu
5. Longshot

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Kirby
2. Batson
3. Calvin
4. Herge
5. Forbush

*****

image

Kenny Penman

* Maggie
* Penny
* Terry
* Vivian
* Rand

*****

image

Richard Pachter

1. Lois
2. Clark
3. Perry
4. Martha
5. Brainiac

*****

image

Greg McElhatton

1. Kirby
2. Shermy
3. Booster
4. Magnus
5. Thorn

*****

image

Fred Hembeck

1. Lulu
2. Alvin
3. Gloria
4. Wilbur
5. Tubby

*****

image

Pat Lewis

1. Josie
2. Linus
3. Windsor
4. Reed
5. Churchy

*****

image

Chris Arrant

1. Violet
2. Logan
3. Phoncible
4. Ororo
5. Luther

*****

image

Uriel A. Duran

1) Vespula
2) Tequila
3) Fethry
4) Atari
5) Kull

*****

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Lulu
2. Fortunato
3. Cain
4. Sluggo
5. Tintin

*****

image

Gil Roth

* Doyle
* Hopey
* Conan
* Ignatz
* Reuben

*****

image

Michael Grabowski

1. Linus
2. Kirby
3. Olive
4. Seth
5. Huey

*****

image

Michael Aushenker

1. Popeye
2. Heathcliff
3. Kal-El
4. Marmaduke
5. Dorkin

*****

image

Stergios Botzakis

1. Selina
2. Groo
3. Orion
4. Modesty
5. Herbie

*****

image

Grant Goggans

1. Nikolai
2. Melvin
3. Zonker
4. Finnigan
5. Modesty

*****

topic suggested by Evan Dorkin

*****
*****
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
I Still Miss Steve Gerber

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he would have been 62 today
 
posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Steve Ringgenberg!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
September 19, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade





Participate: The revolution of fan culture. from lori on Vimeo.


via


via




via




 
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Next Week In Comics-Related Events

September 22
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September 23
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September 24
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September 25
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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 12 to September 18, 2009:

1. Yoshito Usui goes missing. Body may have been found this morning.

2. Mike Lane, one of the best-known cartoonists of this decade to take a buyout from his paper and go syndication-only for a while, retires.

3. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library is ready for its close-up.

Winner Of The Week
Blackest Night

Losers Of The Week
Everyone looking forward to that Barefoot Gen sequel.

Quote Of The Week
"Newspapers have about five years left." -- Berke Breathed

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

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

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

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 32nd Birthday, Sarah Oleksyk!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Cynthia Martin!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 33rd Birthday, Chris Wright!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Garry Leach!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Ted Rall On His Response To Jon Krakaeur (PR) (9/18/09)
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
September 18, 2009


Friday Distraction: Loustal Site

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posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Riad Sattouf

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tell me that cityscape at the top of the site past the entrance page isn't cool
 
posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Daryl Cagle: Mike Lane Retires

imageDaryl Cagle brings word that former longtime Baltimore Sun cartoonist Mike Lane has announced his intention to stop drawing for syndication. Lane had temporarily stopped the production of his work because of health issues, but stresses that his decision to stop cartooning for syndication has nothing to do with that or any health concern.

Lane was an early member of Cagle's Cagle Cartoons syndicate. He stopped cartooning for the Sun in 2004, taking a buyout that had been offered when the Sun was purchased in 2000. At the time he declared that he wanted to try cartooning for a while without the editorial influence that came with a newspaper.
 
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Go, Look: Benjamin Marra's ROM

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Post-Dispatch Defends Matson Cartoon

An RJ Matson cartoon in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that drew criticism through re-posting on the the newspaper's blog resulted in an interesting response by the deputy editor of the publication's editorial page. In his post, Kevin Horrigan talks about the process through which Matson checked in with editorial during the cartoon's creation -- elements of the Klan member's uniform were called into question -- and further asserts that not only was Matson's opinion within the realm of fair play given the paper's commitment to hosting informed opinion, but that the paper itself was considering changes along the same line.

I guess that isn't much of a story now that I type it all out, but I liked the substantive nature of the response and the fact that the editorial cartoon is a major player on the main blog.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Sword Of Shannara

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posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Brian Hibbs On Paul Levitz's Legacy

The retailer and frequent comics industry commentator Brian Hibbs has penned a mini-tribute to departing DC president and publisher Paul Levitz that certainly anyone interested in recent comics history and general industry issues should read. I'm musing writing on the subject myself, so I'll refrain from responding to the piece here, but I think it's a handy encapsulation of a certain point of view about Levitz and what he was able to accomplish. The assumptions that go into it are important and might merit reconsideration, though.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Letters From Camp

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Conan Puffy Stickers

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dennis Vs. The Navy

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Strip Autographs

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's a long piece on George Sprott.

image* the cartoonist Dash Shaw is in Brazil and posting pictures like this one from a 24-Hour comics shop.

* I'm not sure if this counts as "not comics" because there's a cartoon, but here's another fun piece from Tim Kreider in the Times: "I recently had dinner with some old friends, a couple with two small children, and when I told them about my typical Saturday in New York City -- doing the Times crossword, stopping off at a local flea market, maybe biking across the Brooklyn Bridge -- they looked at me like I was describing my battles with the fierce and elusive Squid-Men among the moons of Neptune."

* that's certainly an impressive number of comics-related birthdays today.

* not comics: it's probably that I don't get it over the chance that everybody else is not getting it, but I'm not sure why this is news. The Siegel litigation has been a factor in most news stories about the potential for another film for months now. While one might believe that Warners going ahead with DC's restructuring might imply a certain attitude about the outcome of that litigation, I'm not sure anyone's suggested that the reality of the litigation would stop having an impact on any film they'd want to do just because Diane Nelson's in charge. I guess you could take it as an admission that they won't be doing a quickie film in order to outrace a certain deadline, if that was still on the table.

* this sounds like a terrific exhibit.

* not comics: Mark Evanier writes like the veteran writer he is about the latest round of "why won't writers help me be a writer?" stuff that's flashing through the Internet. Two things that are guaranteed if you do any writing whatsoever, even if it's just community theater reviews in the penny weekly: 1) someone out there thinks you suck and they should have your gig, 2) someone out there thinks you can get their Kung Fu Christmas script made into a movie, even if it doesn't really exist beyond those few words strung together as a concept.

* not comics: this is the first time I've seen the interior of a 1940s bookstore that wasn't the fake one with Dorothy Malone from The Big Sleep. (via). I'm guessing the manga section was really small, but I do see a book with a cover illustration by future New York Daily News editorial cartoonist Warren King.

* finally, the publisher and critic Gary Groth speaks eloquently about first generation DM retailer Bob Beerbohm and the hip operation he so desperately needs.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 26th Birthday, Brian Ralph!

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Brian Ralph is a promising young talent and I will post anything to make him happy, even if it means shaving ten years off his birthday
 
posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 83rd Birthday, Joe Kubert!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Gary Groth!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Chris Radtke!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Robin Brenner!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, William Stout!

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Happy 41st Birthday, John Porcellino!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Zombie Spider-Man
Another Tom Neely Cover Cover

Exhibits/Events
Dorkin & Thompson Signing Report

History
I Glad I'm Not Reading This
Tony Stark In His Underwear

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Rick Remender
Trouble With Comics: Chris Ryall

Not Comics
Thanks, Alan
Newspaper Stocks Up
I'm Sitting Out This War
Hitler's Responsible This
I'd Not Heard Of This Either
This Show Would Have Blown My 10-Year-Old Mind

Publishing
Hot Potatoe Previewed
Some Comics Are Not For Kids
Dissecting The New Justice League
Robot Cholly and Flytrap! (Not Really)

Reviews
David Welsh: Ikki
Kevin Church: Various
Graeme McMillan: Various
Richard Bruton: Lucky Luke
Andy Frisk: Blackest Night #3
Sarah Morean: Nine Gallons #1
Andy Frisk: Action Comics #881
Zak Edwards: Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2
Chris Allen: Vengeance Of The Moon Knight #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Spy Vs. Spy: Masters Of Mayhem
Leroy Douresseaux: The Life And Times Of Savior 28 #4
 

 
September 17, 2009


It's The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library

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Everyone but me probably knew about the name change for Ohio State University's Cartoon Research Library, but I spent more of my childhood plotting to steal the bookmobile as opposed to making use of its contents. The linked-to article provides a fine summary of the holdings' history and their move into a new facility, where the money is coming from and related issues, so I'd recommend everyone with a passing interest in comics powering through it and making sure you're more up to speed than I've been.

This is Billy Ireland, if you were wondering.
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Cliff Sterrett

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posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Analysts: August 2009 DM Estimates

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 2009.

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

John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles has begun his analysis of the month right here.

I'm not sure there's anything that jumps out at me from these figures and charts. DC's Blackest Night crossover, which I believe involves various dead DC Universe characters coming back from the dead with black energy rings to make more dead DC Universe characters, seems to be doing quite well for the publisher. It seems sort of odd to me for this kind of thing to come out in Fall rather than in Summer, but I'm no publisher.

One thing that strikes me is that the first couple of DC's Red Circle one-shots seem to have launched out of the top 100. If I have that right, that would indicate either a badly conceptualized project, a terrifically odd use of popular writer J. Michael Straczynski, or both. Robert Kirkman's top two series (Walking Dead, Invincible) continue to do well in trade form, and a lot of mainstream titles linger at what seem to me astonishingly low sales levels. I imagine there will be some discussion of Wednesday Comics' relative tumble in such a short time, although interpretations are going to vary wildly on whether or not it's a more than expected drop and why it happened. But that's the Direct Market question, isn't it? Why do so many titles routinely tumble? Is there a glitch in the system that forces over-ordering on early issues? Because I can't imagine quite that many superhero fans with quite that many unfinished series in their long boxes.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Waffyjon's Flickr Set

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just an awesome bunch of covers
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Ted Rall Addresses AAEC

Outgoing president Ted Rall has posted a letter addressing both the membership of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and the public. He humorously notes the horrific year, and cites 27 colleagues losing their jobs during the period, bringing the likely, full-time staffed cartoonist number under 40. He also cites some positives.
1. The Chicago Tribune hiring Scott Stantis.
2. The Birmingham News announcing their intention to hire an editorial cartoonist to replace the departing Stantis.
3. The Journal News reversing its decision to fire Matt Davies.
4. The Seattle P-I finding new life on-line instead of closing outright.
5. Attendance of this year's AAEC convention in Seattle despite all these problems.
Rall also said that there may be more guidelines soon from the organization covering areas like plagiarism, and says that next year's convention is in Portland, with 2011 perhaps in Florida. At this point, though, I hope you're reading Mr. Rall's statement and not my regurgitation of it.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Benjamin Bergman Gallery

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posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Berke Breathed Interview

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a super-short interview up with Berke Breathed. This is normally the kind of thing I wouldn't be able to recommend for the length, but he's as blunt as a cartoon sergeant's cigar when it comes to the future of the newspaper strip, and that makes it worth reading. I don't know that I all the way agree with him, but I can't discount the bleakness of his opinions right now.
 
posted 4:02 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Our Thanks To You On Five Years

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Anniversaries are boring around here. I get up and blog. After accepting delivery of a strange space plant from my friend Gil Roth, I spend several hours re-imagining my life as a champion jai alai player before coming around just in time to fight off some sort of dickish, bald alien. Then I eat some cake, watch a bootleg copy of the first four episodes of The Paul Lynde Show, sing the entire Fame soundtrack to my cats and hit the sack.

Thank you for your readership and, in several cases, your patronage. A special thank you to Bart, David and all the contributors. It is a great privilege to be able to do this. I hope CR can continue to improve and be of use and service for years to come.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Kenneth Smith Art

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Omnibus Boy

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Zegra, Jungle Empress

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Raeburn Van Buren

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer and columnist Steven Grant has a lot to say about the DC restructuring news and what it might mean.

image* one of the great, under-appreciated joys in comics right now, particularly for those of us who enjoy the underground comix and their cartoonists, is Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri's magazine Mineshaft. Rob Clough reviews the latest issue.

* everyone's pal David Lasky is going to save the Pacific Northwest and perhaps the world from the killer flu, because that's just the kind of guy he is.

* the blogger Gary Tyrrell says that the person who should get the credit for that popular webcomics-oriented neighborhood on the Comic-Con International floor is Phil Foglio.

* Jean Schulz, philanthropist

* ComiXology acquires another nation-state in its growing on-line services empire.

* I didn't even know even know there was such a thing as federal IT cartooning.

* not comics: the comic business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a couple of pieces up that underlines the flexibility -- or low-end chaos, if you prefer -- that is modern retail: Blockbuster is moving towards more of those kiosks I see families with young children lined up in front of at the grocery store on weekend afternoons; Toys R Us is taking advantage of all that empty retail space out there to set up temporary stores for the holidays.

* this profile of Brian Crane notes that Pickles is in its 20th year of publication and is in over 600 papers. Wow.

* hey, has Marvel ever centered one of these crossover events around Dr. Doom? A good one? I'm not exactly a regular superhero comics reader, but it seems to me the character could potentially use the boost. I mean, it's nice that Harry Osborn's dad got an Iron Man suit and everything, but Doom needs to win nearly every fight not against Reed Richards in steamroller fashion if only to keep people from goofing on his name.

* Slate visits Marvel

* finally, I think I got the subsequent review but not this thinkpiece from Don MacPherson on the 9/11 Benefit Books. You might be able to make an argument that this was one of the first times that comics publishers thought of themselves as modern media companies, with all the expectations thereof.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 66th Birthday, Carlos Sampayo!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Roger Stern!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
A Rose Is Rose Sunday Strip
Mike Manley Draws An Animal

Exhibits/Events
Go See Mark Evanier
Go See Fantagraphics At SPX
WildStorm's CCI Panel On Video

History
On Arrowsmith
The Two Roystons

Industry
DC Should Maybe Be More Drunk

Interviews/Profiles
FPI Blog: Garen Ewing
Booksteve's Library: Don Rosa
Booksteve's Library: Carl Barks

Not Comics
Frank Coghlan Jr. RIP

Publishing
New Amazing Facts & Beyond
Sean Kleefeld Is Looking For An Artist
Not The Next Astro City Cover Design 01
Not The Next Astro City Cover Design 02
Audience, Please Appreciate This Awesome Comic

Reviews
Brian Hibbs: Various
Andy Frisk: Athena #1
David Uzumeri: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Nina Stone: Achwood Vol. 2
Jillian Steinhauer: Far Arden
KC Carlson: The Wolverine Files
Andy Frisk: Detective Comics #856
Greg McElhatton: Awakening, Vol. 1
Sean T. Collins: Night Business #1-2
Michael C. Lorah: The Last Musketeer
Johanna Draper Carlson: Otomen Vol. 3
Leroy Douresseaux: Case Closed Vol. 31
Richard Bruton: Polaroids From Other Lives Vol. 2
 

 
September 16, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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* the biggest news of the moment is the release yesterday of a first book from the mega-popular xkcd, from Randal Munroe.

* it looks like DC is going to do a hardcover book series of its Fables property.

image* they are some of the most thrilling words you can hear about comics, and it's been that way for 20 years now: "There's a new King-Cat out." Okay, maybe it's not all the way out for a couple of days, but it's basically here.

* the cartoonist Joey Weiser has launched a new webcomic called Monster Isle, a version of which appears in Jake. It looks adorable.

* here's another one of those Kickstarter things, this time on behalf of the Gordon McAlpin comic Multiplex. I think I'm going to do all future, similar announcements in this column rather than in their own post. Definitely, if you're a fan or you just like helping cartoonists out generally, check it out.

* the talented Cameron Stewart will take over from Philip Tan for the next art stint on the Grant Morrison-written Batman and Robin.

* there's a tenth issue out of the Paul Rainey title No Time Like The Present.

* the Kuti Kuti folks have a bunch of new stuff hitting the stands: a 13th issue of the same-name anthology, a silent comic from Roope Eronen, a 52-page Aapo Rapi color comic and Tommi Musturi hardcover. Check it out.

* Daryl Cagle's popular editorial cartoonists web site is adding Bill Garner.

* finally, on-line comics commentary veterans Alan David Doane and Christopher Allen are editing a new group blog called Trouble With Comics. In addition to their own writing, they'll be acting as editors on selection of writers that includes Johnny Bacardi, d. emerson eddy, Mick Martin, Marc Sobel Diana Tamblyn, Alex Ness, Matt Springer and David Wynne.

image
 
posted 6:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Vellekoop's Fall Fashions

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posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Sometimes Comics Shops Open, Too

I run links to enough article about comics shops closing that I thought I'd mention this piece about a new comic book shop in Conway, Arkansas. It's interesting to me for a few reasons: 1) the article makes this sound like this is the first store ever in Conway, which I don't think is true; 2) towns of 50,000 with a college component are exactly the sorts of towns that need their own comics shops if that system is to work; 3) there's a lot of talk about retail as this sort of ongoing act of charity that I find odd but certainly see a lot of.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Songs Referencing Comics

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Crayon Shin-chan Creator Missing

According to a small flurry of wire reports and English-language Japanese news sites, authorities are unable to find and are currently searching for the cartoonist Yoshito Usui. The cartoonist behind the "Crayon Shin-chan" franchise left on Friday for a day trip to a nearby mountainous area. His publisher says they are extremely worried about the 51-year-old creator.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bob Montana Archie Strips

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posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics Folk And Their Eyesight News

* here's a sad story: the cartoonist Keiji Nakazawa apparently won't be able to go through with plans for a sequel to his massive hit Barefoot Gen because of worsening eye problems. This Anime News Network post not only reports the exact nature of the maladies facing the cartoonist, but what that volume would have been about.

* here's happier news about the latest surgery undergone by writer John Ostrander and the status of the money being raised on his behalf.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Edwina Dumm Profile

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: TV's New Adventures Of Pinocchio As Presented By Sam Henderson

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Stephen Collins Preview

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via
 
posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Buy: Andrice Arp Mythology Art

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I love the Evan Dorkin Namor strip at the bottom of this post. I think we should all start working to make Namor the most popular character in mainstream comics 2010-2019. It can happen.

image* the group blog Hooded Utilitarian is engaging Sandman while there's still some time left in this anniversary year.

* Sean Kleefeld has a few thoughts about comics folk and health care. They are really, really depressing thoughts, but you should read them anyway.

* that is quite the heavy-hitting line-up in today's birthdays, by the way.

* help support Thomas Nast for the NJ Hall of Fame. I'm not sure how you'd do that, but you could at least think good thoughts.

* you can preview an issue of the current Luna Brothers series The Sword here.

* for an impressive two-part interview with the great Jerry Moriarty, go here.

* not comics: was anyone else who watched the almost heel turn-quality Michael Jordan Hall of Fame acceptance speech reminded of how Charles Schulz seemed to carry around all those early newspaper rejections with him all those years? I may just read too many comics.

* finally, CBR has a long piece up on the Fall convention season. Just seeing the words "Fall convention season" all together in a row made my stomach hurt, because other than a few SPX's back in the day they've never been part of my comics repertoire. But conventions seem to do better than comics these days, so enough crowded together in one season to make its own season is perfectly sensible. That Shamus convention icon is really stupid-looking, by the way. It looks like the convention poster some guy put together for the comic book episode of Murder, She Wrote.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Kip Manley!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Tom Kaczynski!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Seth!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Mike Mignola!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Kurt Busiek!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 32nd Birthday, Amanda Emmert!

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still america's favorite retailer
 
posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
This Is Cute For Sure
Patrick Swayze Sketchathon
Sean Phillips Makes A Cover

Exhibits/Events
Go See Benjamin Marra
Apply Now To Exhibit At TCAF 2010

History
That's One Creepy Child
I Do Love This Photo Of Morrie Turner

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Paul Jenkins
CBR: Zander Cannon
Broken Frontier: Evan Dorkin
Pop Culture Shock: Jill Thompson
Talking Comics With Tim: Christopher Yost

Not Comics
Lynda Barry: Turbine Warrior

Publishing
This Is Cute I Guess
This Just In: Book Publishing Still Gross
Praise For NBM's Bringing Up Father Book

Reviews
Sigrid Ellis: War At Ellsmere
Andy Frisk: Greek Street #3
Richard Bruton: Cedric Vol. 1
Brenda Clough: Prince Valiant
Chris Mautner: Sweet Tooth #1
Sean T. Collins: The Squirrel Machine
Martha Cornog, Steve Raiteri: Various
Elizabeth Hewitt: The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz
Andy Frisk: Superman: World Of New Krypton #7
Rob Clough: The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book
Leroy Douresseaux: The Life And Times Of Savior 28 #3
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Batman: The Story Of The Dark Knight
 

 
September 15, 2009


This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely 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 tomorrow I would pick them up and juggle several in a giant circle, causing a moment of transcendent joy.

*****

MAY090067 3 STORY SECRET HISTORY OT GIANT MAN $19.95
I want to see what this one's like. This is Matt Kindt's follow-up to the ambitious Super Spy.

JUL090015 BEASTS OF BURDEN #1 (OF 4) $2.99
Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson with one of those old-fashioned comics mini-series, a continuation of an anthology feature that was well-received and won awards.

JAN090089 WILL EISNERS SPIRIT ARCHIVES HC VOL 01 NEW ADV $49.95
Is there enough material here to make a big-ass expensive hardcover? I guess there is.

JUL090159 WEDNESDAY COMICS #11 (OF 12) $3.99
They should really start these summer event series earlier in the summer, because this sort of feels like a field trip to the miniature golf course in October.

JUN091071 JOHNNY BOO HC VOL 03 HAPPY APPLES $9.95
James Kochalka.

JUN091123 PLUTO URASAWA X TEZUKA GN VOL 05 $12.99
The manga of the moment.

JUN091122 OISHINBO GN VOL 05 VEGETABLES $12.99
A well-liked manga series that feels more like something that would have been released when manga series were coming out and no one could keep track of their splendid, collective weirdness.

MAY090229 TOM STRONG DELUXE ED HC BOOK 01 $39.99
With this one I'm sure there's enough material, but I have a hard time wrapping

JUL090861 LEGEND OF PERCEVAN GN VOL 02 REALM ASLOR $19.95
This is an old-fashioned, light European kids fantasy series that didn't quite work for me, but it's not like the field is exploding with books of this type.

MAY091042 MARVEL COMICS IN THE 1960S SC $27.95
An issue by issue study of one of the American comic book's great flowering.

JUL090168 BATMAN AND ROBIN #4 $2.99
More Grant Morrison '60s blend superhero comics, with Philip Tan taking up the art chores after Frank Quitely's mini-runs.

APR090395 SWORD #19 (MR) $2.99
JUL090408 WALKING DEAD #65 (MR) $2.99
JUL090580 DOMINIC FORTUNE #2 (OF 4) (MR) $3.99
JUL090510 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #18 $2.99
Your selection of well-regarded mainstream comic books of the week.

MAY090825 JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY NANCY HC VOL 01 $24.95
The latest Drawn & Quarterly offering, so it's going to be handsome as well as great comics. I couldn't find a flat scan, or I would have included one here.

*****

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 so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

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, 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. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, it's because I was distracted by the stutter-step move of Tate Forcier.

*****

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Go, Look: Kickstarting Jamie Tanner

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Jamie Tanner goes all Stuck Rubber Baby on his next project, offering original art in return for support while he's getting the project done. Since it's the 21st Century, magical computer machines are doing much of the grunt work on his behalf.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Gabrielle Bell Blog

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via
 
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Sometimes You Forget To Hit The Button: Pondering the Major Deals

It looks like I forgot to hit the button that would have rolled out a longish set of thoughts about the Marvel/Disney and DC: Restructuring stories. It's up now, and maybe some of you will want to read it. My general take is that these are industry shifts rather than news stories in terms of how things should develop from here on out. I'm not sure exactly how to cover it. I don't feel right supporting everything anyone with an in is telling me, and I'm pretty certain my time will not be well spent making predictions about comics' future like I'm a guest football analyst on Mike and Mike In The Morning. Mostly I think there's a rough shape to the story that indicates certain things may be in play and I share some of those areas of concern in the piece. In the end, I'm somewhat hopeful that there will be a practical reconsideration of traditional comics markets because these deals come at a point of relative strength for the comics entities and a second set of eyes on comics publishing could reveal some of the inbred peculiarities in its functioning for how they are. That may just be wishful thinking on my part, though.
 
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Go, Look: Losing Wayne White

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* columnist Anne Applebaum at the Washington Post links Yale University Press not publishing the Danish Muhammad cartoons or any other expression of Muhammad in art to Conde Nast trying to subvert an article that could be embarrassing to its Russian advertiser and Google not letting Chinese users search politically loaded terms. The general point that this is international influence of American business and journalistic practice seems worth noting to me, but I'm not certain it's the first place I'd go with any of those individual stories.

* have we internalized the fatwa?

* here's a case for suppressing the cartoons. I don't find the arguments very effective, but I think it's a fair summing-up of a general point of view. Also, kudos to noting the author is on board.

* finally, I had no idea that the original reaction to the Danish cartoons was cited as a reason in the government brief to suppress potentially upsetting detainee photos, but it makes me feel icky inside because what that suggests in terms of people adopting the view that the original protests were some sort of mass flip-out as opposed to a rolling set of political responses.
 
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Go, Look: Terrible Yellow Eyes

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I hope Kazu doesn't mind me getting you there through his art; also straight there
 
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Denver Cartoonist Runs Into GLAAD

imageIn what looks like an attempt by the news source to seize on the news item and turn it to its own advantage rather than watching it potentially spiral into something more significant, Patricia Calhoun of The Denver Westword notes in the "The Last Word" blog the objection of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's object to the cobbled-together word "gearfag" in one of the publication's cartoons. The cartoonist in question is Kenny Be, one of a few contributing cartoonist and I think perhaps their primary columnist/cartoonist. The objection seems sort of silly to me, but I'm in no place to figure out the level of dismay certain people may feel about the use of that designation. It is interesting that the publication in question would pick up on it, though.
 
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Go, Look: Dan Nadel's Obsessions

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Go, Look: Funnyman

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Go, Look: On Rainbow Fish

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Go, Look: Galexo!

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plus: more Galexo!
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the critic and cultural historian Jeet Heer walks us through some of the translation choices that Robert Crumb has made with his Book of Genesis.

image* the prominent stuffed animal/comics blogger Bully made me laugh with this post on the opening of an Alpha Flight comic that consists of panels without anyone in them. It's also a striking example of a kind of almost house art style that Marvel Comics had at the time. It's terrifying to think that we also create dreamworlds out of not-great comics if we read enough of them, but I have to admit: I know those rooms, and I've never read that comic.

* SLG announces its iPhone distribution choice. Frankly, I have no idea what to do with this kind of news.

* good question

* the artist and blogger Charles Yoakum talks about Joe Quesada's recent statements on the graphic novel.

* a longer-than-usual profile of Morrie Turner means it's probably better than usual, and this one is.

* the academic Craig Fischer profiles the very interesting work done by Robin Bougie.

* finally, why on earth would a comic book need to go through a continuity overhaul? That sounds awful. My own life, sure, but not a comic book.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Scott Dunbier!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Pete Poplaski!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, John Ira Thomas!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 39th Birthday, Salgood Sam!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Carol Lay!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks
Manga Hitler = Adorable

Exhibits/Events
Toon Report

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Cameron Stewart
Arizona Star: Greg Evans

Not Comics
You're Just Biased
Maurice Vellekoop In The National Post

Publishing
What Are Art And Francoise Reading?

Reviews
John Seven: Stitches
Derik A Badman: KE7
Henry Chamberlain: Rotten #3
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
David B. Olsen: Strange Tales #1
Richard Bruton: The Art Of Harvey Kurtzman
Alan David Doane: Abstract Comics: The Anthology
Leroy Douresseaux: Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Vol. 5
 

 
September 14, 2009


Go, Bookmark: New Tom Hart Comic

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Barney Banks: Extra Life!
 
posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Tintin Au Congo And Racism

A post at ActuaBD.com directs attention to this Swiss newspaper article on the ongoing, border-crossing controversy that is Tintin au Congo. Between the two you get a lot of the ideas swirling around this relatively calm controversy, such as the suggestion that we all need to make clear distinctions between the depiction of colonial attitudes and the application of racist ones.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ant Man, A Tribute

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Levitz/Nelson at ICv2.com

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a solid interview up with departing DC Comics president and publisher Paul Levitz and incoming DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. I hadn't seen anyone ask the "were will you be headquartered?" question yet (they don't know). I have to admit, I was fairly disappointed in the answer to the timing question; I don't find a "we had this planned all along"/"we certainly would have done this later" dichotomy convincing. It's not a big issue, though. Also of interest is mention of DC's existing west coast operations and what Nelson sees in terms of the yet-to-be-announced publisher.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Whatever Happened To Mimi Pond?

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One Of Many Possible Ways To Spend $30 At Top Shelf's Latest $3 Sale

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There's a lot more stuff on there, too, that I have and enjoy: issues of CBA, the second Hutch Owen book, and so on. Top Shelf's latest sale is designed to tie into the movie release of Surrogates, but a lot of times with smaller companies like this it's about gaining further control over inventory. Given how much is stacked against such publishers, I'm sympathetic to these kinds of efforts.

That massive chunk of comics as represented above costs the same as a typical ten-issue mini-series from DC Comics. That's sort of astonishing if you stop and think about it.
 
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Go, Look: New Carol Swain Collaborative Work Previewed In PDF Form

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i love carol swain; she's like a singer with an unforgettable voice. this project is described in detail here.
 
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Go, Look: Holy Rollin'

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CulturePulp Interviews Steve Lieber

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Go, Look: Stalwart Swinburne

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's how you make a comics Internet post: the folks at the FPI Blog bring my attention to Gerry Alanguilan discussing John Lent's forthcoming history of comics in the Phillippines. That's like a half-dozen of my favorite comics people, places and things.

* not comics and missed it: Tim Kreider on 9/11

image* although I am quite fond of the Sub-Mariner, his bad attitude, his contempt for the surface world, the fact that he shows up for the vast majority of his fistfights in his Speedo, and the fact that his other swimsuit for some reason covers most of his body, I'm afraid he loses this one.

* here's a forthcoming exhibit featuring what sounds like photos of key European and British creators.

* Gropius In Space

* here's a nice, long article comparing the new Yotsuba&! Vol. 4 with the ADV version of the same book.

* El Santo collage

* the increasingly infrequent writer about webcomics Eric Burns pops up with a final look at Scary Go Round.

* I'm not certain about the wisdom of leading with the image of a sweaty Steve Lieber, but I always like reading to that artist talking comics. I imagine I have the comic strip version of this same interview linked-to from CR somewhere, too.

* a happy 3500th issue to Beano. That is one long longbox.

* finally, here's an article on sex and comics that I may or may not read. I always wonder why they go to the superhero comics when they write articles like this, as so many funny animals are outright lacking pants.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Tom Dougherty!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Mary Fleener!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Josie Art
Ken Steacy Draws
PJ Holden Sketches
Philip Bond Makes Me Laugh
In Praise Of Cameron Stewart
The Practicalities Of Flying Picnics
On Being A Professional Cartoonist

Exhibits/Events
Cartoonists In Algiers
This Exhibit Looks Awesome
Evan Dorkin On Northampton

History
Birth
Ten Of A Kind, RIP?
Cute Comics Letters
Another '70s Marvel Memo
Whatever Happened To Truk?
Sometimes A Gun Is A Giant Penis
Doug Wright As An Educational Tool

Industry
Personnel Changes At Marvel

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Chris Ryall
CBR: Ed Brubaker
Inkstuds: Jeff Lemire
Panel Borders: Karen Rubins
A Nickel's Worth: Cory Thomas
CBR: Becky Cloonan, Hwan Cho
Worcester: Tara McPherson, Becky Cloonan, Hwan Cho, Melissa DeJesus

Not Comics
Earthships
Nice Costume
On Hector Berlioz
Abhay Khosla On Crime Novels
I Talked To Him On The Phone Today

Publishing
KGB Debuts
The Free Comics Are Here
First 33 Pages Of Whiteout
Please Publish This Awesome Comic
Sean Kleefeld On High Moon In Print

Reviews
John Seven: Various
Rob Clough: Various
Rob Clough: Various
John Seven: Stitches
Andy Doan: Sin Titulo
Tucker Stone: Various
Chris Mautner: Various
Koppy McFad: Magog #1
Steve Higgins: American Widow
Koppy McFad: Solomon Grundy #7
Greg McElhatton: Ball Peen Hammer
Alex Boney: Mouse Guard: Winter 1152
Koppy McFad: Green Lantern Corps #40
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Lunch Lady Vols. 1-2
Richard Bruton: Justin Tyme Chapter One
Leroy Douresseaux: Unsophisticated And Rude
Andy Frisk: Vampirella: The Second Coming #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 20
Leroy Douresseaux: The Life And Times Of Savior 28 #2
 

 
September 13, 2009


On Those Really Big Publishing Deals

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By Tom Spurgeon

There is only one certainty regarding the twin comic book publishing news stories of Disney purchasing Marvel and its library of characters and DC setting in motion a restructuring that includes the departure of Paul Levitz from his current posts: the news cycle is shorter than ever. Some readers e-mailed to me they were bored with the Marvel/Disney story, announced on a Monday, by that Thursday. A few folks began to move off the DC restructuring story by the Friday after the Wednesday it first appeared. This is an amazing thing. Just 15 years ago the comics professional and fan communities took months to process a story as simple as what happened at a big convention or as peculiar as what Dave Sim wrote about people eating other people's brains or as significant as Marvel's ongoing bankruptcy battles, and were happy to do so.

The Internet has not only provided an avenue to get these stories out quickly, it allows the readership to burn through them with an intensity that leads to exhaustion. And it's hard not to blame people for beginning to move on. A number of folks in comics and interested in comics judge any and all news by the bottom line of how it affects their supply of superhero comics. Assurances these recent moves will not change publishing in the short-term ended a lot of people's interest right there. I also think there's a relative helplessness that people feel when big corporations do things of major import, a reaction that renders many of us unable to bring anything to the table beyond a sports-like rooting interest in what happens next.

I would suggest that for those of us who are wholly invested, our being tired of ideas and comments more than 48 hours old is specifically unfortunate here, in that both of these stories are incomplete. The Marvel/Disney story has a bunch of future activity built into its structure. There are lawsuits and shareholder votes and what seems likely to be additional details of the deal revealed. The DC restructuring story goes one step further than Disney/Marvel in that it was purposefully released earlier than originally intended. It was rolled into public view in a half-formed state, so of course there's more to come. Nearly everything of importance with these stories -- everything past the fun of running around and proclaiming how huge these stories are or to note everyone's talking about them like they're an important pair of dinner guests doing the social rounds -- is going to be influenced if not primarily shaped by decisions made further down the line. As is frequently the case with the best comic books made by these companies, how these deals and new arrangements are executed is what going to count, no matter how much the people involved would like to have you think in terms of ideas and polity and intent and nothing will ever be the same.

There's definitely a rough shape to each story. In Marvel's case, the deal itself has yet to go through, but the complications so far seem like obstacles one steps through from bed to bathroom rather than a minefield one might cross. That could change with little notice, but it doesn't seem likely. The thing to look for with Marvel is how rhetoric matches reality. While the hands-off declaration from Disney executives to Marvel managers sounds convincing, and plays really well in face to face meetings and in the press, and even seems like the smart and decent thing to do given Marvel's successes in publishing and in movies, enacting a hands-off policy over the long term is quite a different beast altogether. For one thing, such beneficence depends on the continued success of the person afforded that leeway. For another, a total hands-off policy may run counter to also-stated goals that as many processes as possible be streamlined under Disney practices and companies. Further, Disney will define that success on its terms and not always those preferred by Marvel. I suspect that Marvel's lack of serious, sustained attention to a systemically competitive book program will longer be a sign of Marvel's incorrigibly raffish way of looking at the comics world, but more as an actual shortcoming that demands a lot of work and attention. Disney's resources and existing business relationships should help, but for Marvel's units including publishing to be afforded the independence they desire, they're going to have to come through.

In DC's case there is still a publisher to be named, which will be a big deal symbolically and a bigger deal practically. The symbolism is important because new DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson is very much not a comics person, which by itself I think is a very good thing because her job demands she be something other than a comics person. A comics person being hired to the publisher position -- everyone I know expects it will be a comics person, or at least a publishing person for whom some comics familiarity may be argued, although you're also going to see people pushing for a New Media conscious person -- will placate a lot of worried retailers and creators but will also afford DC the chance to operate effectively within the peculiar publishing industry that is comics. Don't think that soothing worries is unimportant, though. Although few say so publicly, there are people out there with very real fears, ranging from DC becoming more Marvel-style casual in their institutional support of Direct Market stores to DC using their newly-formed, numbers-crunching muscles and Warner Brothers heft to bring in a flood of outside creators to compete with a comic book rank and file that hasn't been able to generate a hit from the umpteenth launching of Doom Patrol or whatever. That's the thing about these huge stories: a twitch in any one policy can change the way the world works for a large number of people. People don't fear change for change's sake. They fear being put on the side against which change is made to gain traction, with little to do on their own behalf to benefit by the new status quo. I think many folks have reason to be at least a bit fearful, at least until things begin to settle a few months into 2010.

Until someone leaks something to Rich Johnston that says otherwise, I think the conventional wisdom is that the publisher job will be offered to Jim Lee. Beyond that, I suspect everybody's guessing by throwing out a bunch of people's names that sound like they might be ready for this kind of publisher gig -- comics guys with administrative experience and some sort of conceivable link to DC that are between 35-55 years old. My hunch is that two or three names from all those lists out there right now will end up being considered, along with a list of about the same size made up of people whose names aren't familiar to comics people. I don't care if I'm right or wrong, though, and am happy to wait on the announcement itself. (If I got to vote, I'd go for super-longshot Chip Kidd just for the quality and potential biting hilarity of his interviews and press statements.) Who guesses right (or who gets the leak) isn't 1/1000th as important as how certain institutions within comics react to the fact of that person's hiring. How those people react to the new publisher isn't 1/1000th as important as that person's performance in the job.

So, let's face it: barring either endeavor going Vinko Bogataj on us, both of these stories are going to develop for years to come. These aren't stories as much as they are new operating realities. That doesn't mean we can't wonder after future elements of what's recently happened. I'd simply suggest it means we take such speculation -- including my own -- with a grain of salt and maybe view these matters as potential directions for the North American comic book industry rather than as a chance to make Strong Statements Of Absolute Certainty. (It's also interesting how many people still conflate the North American comic book industry with comics in its entirety, but that's an essay for a different time. Taking the broader view, and declining to put too much emphasis on might-happens until they actually happen, there are certainly more important comics news stories this decade.)

So while I have no idea what's going to happen next, here's a few places my curiosity is telling me to look for clues. I have no idea what's going to happen next, but I think I may have an idea or two of the general areas those things will happen.

*****

First, I'm thinking a lot about Diamond and the Direct Market. I'm worried about Diamond, the center of a Direct Market of comics shops and hobby accounts I value as comics' unique -- not sole -- way of bringing its product to consumers and as an untapped resource with a lot of potential for a continued role in comics' future.

Due to a few unfortunate developments of the 1990s comics market, and various decisions made by people in charge back then, Diamond is at the center of the Direct Market. That's where our troubles begin. Diamond seems to have suffered in the current recession at a pace far ahead of traditionally wobblier comics concerns. It should be an industry rock. That they aren't suggests problems elsewhere in the ownership's financial holdings, some of which has been roughly documented. Further, there are soft signs of a potential funnybook Ragnarok. For instance, the company's owner is at retirement age with no clear successor, and the company's management is made up of people old enough to suggest these might be their last jobs. Diamond invested a significant amount of capital into a warehouse facility around which whispers of unsatisfactory performance persist. All of this comes after years of policy dictated to them by their largest suppliers, policy that has favored short-term competitive goals over long-term growth and customer satisfaction. The comics movers-and-shakers of 15 years ago -- many of which have unsurprisingly cashed out or retired in the years since -- put all of the eggs from this important comics marketplace into this one basket and then spent the next decade and a half snatching at it and fouling its reeds. A crisis point was inevitable. It may now loom.

This matters to the news of the last couple of weeks because a shaky cornerstone to a fragile marketplace demands the kind of attention that may be beyond new owners or a newly recognized pride of place in the corporate infrastructure. Branding certain characters more effectively up and down the DC/Warner Brothers empire or potentially bringing Disney licenses in-house at a bigger and badder Marvel comics are conceivably good things in and of themselves. Neither of them is automatically a good thing for publishing, let alone sales through that existing market. Nothing that happened in the last two weeks seems likely by itself to make it easier for people in county after county where no comics are sold whatsoever to see this work and develop a relationship to it in comics form as we've come to understand these relationships. This may not be everyone's concern but it's certainly one of mine. New Media solutions may not be the panacea they are in idealized, conceptual formulations; they may not be as profitable, for one thing. A mass market for traditional comic books may be out of the question, but a modest, high-functioning secondary market of the kind that serves so many art forms can be lost to neglect, or overshooting, or pushing solely for the easier growth point because someone roars at us that it's inevitable. We grow closer and closer to a rarified traditional comics market every day, and I'm not sure the kind of slow growth and investment and planning necessary to reinvigorate a core business will be a priority at either reshaped company.

In fact, there could be more damage to the basket. DC could buy Diamond according to tenets put in place in those shameful mid-'90s deals. They'd have to by 2011, I believe. That in turn could trigger a tumultuous period that many comics entities would be ill suited to negotiate right now -- or, really, ever. It's also entirely possible that DC could be at the point at which it could buy Diamond and simply decide not to, allowing the major actor of the Direct Market to heave and collapse like a giant Miyazaki creature, confident that they'll at least will find new life in what's left. Both options are kind of distressing. Also, as Disney sources have asserted they expect to eventually streamline certain Marvel Comics functions within their own existing operations, I worry about Diamond's book arm losing Marvel's business in that arena. Any pain felt at Diamond Books would spread quickly to a number of companies not particularly suited to traditional book distributors as an option.

Second, I'm interested in the potential general effects of a grander Marvel commitment to book distribution, seeing at it may come from outside sources and may initially outstrip demand. Marvel has failed for years to commit itself to bookstore distribution to the same extent DC has. The increased competition from both companies for shrinking bookshelf space could see subtle but important shifts in what is emphasized. It's safe to say that Disney's interest in Marvel isn't in Walt Simonson but in Thor; that they wish to improve Captain America's profile more than they do Steve Epting's. Both sides will still want to win. If with a new Spider-Man movie on the horizon Warner Brothers feels compelled to compete with an army of excellent Spider-Man books Disney/Marvel has put out and onto the shelves, are they likely to push back with Greg Rucka or with Batman? Simonson, Epting and Rucka are names that are important to you and me, and I think the recognition that comics has learned to give its creators over the last 40 years is a wonderful thing on a lot of levels. Bigger isn't always better when it comes to artistic variety and value. Just as it's an overall good we have wonderful stage actors in this country in addition to actors that can open a blockbuster, it's to our cultural benefit that an comics author or artist with an audience that may top out at 65,000 people can find a place to make a living an impression for themselves. I fear for a general orientation towards mainstream creators that changes away from what works about the one we have now.

Third, I'm worried we could see the last vestiges of a proper comics industry disappear into the ether. I'm not sure how to make this argument, how to express the ways that industry can be important to an art form, except maybe in terms of the public face put forward by such entities at conventions. But think about it: would it be more likely for a George Clooney-starring Dr. Strange movie to be announced at Comic-Con International 42 or the D23 Expo planned for 2011? I'm not sure it matters, but it would be different. Would a push for a prime-time Kid Eternity TV show starring Jaden Smith mean the creative team for the comic book on which it's based be given a signing tour -- or would the priority be putting Smith in front of the television affiliates? How these things affect comics has long been part of the commentary at and about the San Diego Con, but the separate world argument where comics remains an island unto itself is more convincing when major players like DC and Marvel have an agenda for such big shows that is different than their larger corporate masters. That may still be the case; that may not. But comics' slow move towards becoming a division of Hollywood is accelerated now. Comics companies that dream of mainstream success will launch in southern California now instead of wherever. There will no longer be West Coast offices, just offices. Even the kind of interns the big companies are likely to see may be different in a few years' time than they are right now.

imageFourth, I am curious about the blending of corporate personalities at the companies, now that Marvel is a part of Disney and that Warner Brothers has woken up to the fact that it owns and is responsible for DC Comics. I don't mean that in the glib sense of everyone at Marvel working in Mickey Mouse ears -- although that would be awesome -- or the folks at Warners putting new characters through "profile enhancement" meetings like some bad movie set piece. I think there's a fundamental bleed, however, when companies work together, and I think that as much as comics companies have been shaped by past changes in ownership it's probably going to happen here, too. As Ben Schwartz pointed out in an essay on this site a couple of weeks ago, in the Disney/Marvel case Disney's purchase and subsequent scuffles with Miramax is as troubling an example as its partnership with Pixar is a positive example. Disney has long been susceptible to protests and/or negative publicity regarding the rudimentary regurgitation to the press of storylines generated by its companies. I personally believe that anyone who thinks Marvel is this sort of rogue, rock and roll company that somehow hasn't in many ways been operating like a huge corporation since at least the middle 1980s is being willfully insane, but I also think they're the sort of company the last ten years that can countenance forays into Bad Taste Land like Norman Osborn's O-Face. I'm not sure Disney makes that trip with them, and I'm pretty sure this would never come up at Pixar.

Renewed Warner Brothers interest in the DC properties could also mean a more watchful eye on things like the original Boy Wonder being humped on a rooftop while he's injured; there might even be a more complex reaction to potentially troublesome expressions than merely pulping the potentially offensive comic around it. These don't sound like bad things on the surface of it, but it could be a potential sea change in how creative expression works through these two companies. Perception matters in comics, in that people adopt stances and pursue business strategies in part according to how they feel welcome and supported and likely to succeed. Many even see the medium's history through superhero goggles in a way that distorts the role of other genres, and seem entirely happy to do so. Comics seems due for at least two new sets of conventional wisdom.

Fifth, I wonder if there aren't areas in which we see an immediate application of the other corporation's values. For one thing, it's entirely conceivable both companies could in a major way go after sketch commissions and similarly unlicensed uses of characters by artists at conventions. This would not only change the culture of comics conventions, but it could do great harm to many artist who depend on such work to help stay financially solvent. Even if the larger corporate interest remains out of the Artists' Alleys and remains in the cinerama, you could easily see the mainstream companies much more protective and litigious when it comes to ideas that in some ways mirror one of the 85,000 they own, and going after small creators that are putting characters and concepts out there that are sometimes one chromosome different from Marvel or DC character X, Y, or Z. I don't think this takes us back to the Marvel Vs. Dave Stevens over The Rocketeer days, but there are a lot of companies working a somewhat limited creative landscape with an eye towards hitting the top slot at Box Office Mojo on some future Spring or Summer weekend. Some of those companies have more lawyers than others. Guess which ones.

Sixth, I do have some not-comics questions, too, just as a general pop culture fan. In the Marvel/Disney case, I wonder how easy it will be to copy the success of the Iron Man and Spider-Man film franchises. Spider-Man is one of the great 20th Century pop culture creations, period. The success of the Iron Man movie arguably flowed from an incredible number of unlikely confluences: catching a Comic-Con bounce when that was still a rising thing, being the first movie of its summer, being the first movie of its summer following a summer after later movies in several series whipped audiences into a new-thing frenzy, easy-to-understand concept, an even easier wish-fulfillment hook, a director that got the vast majority of his actors pulling in the same direction, a killer star turn. None of these things sounds easy to repeat to me. Rebooting series around 10 years old without a sizable audience in the first place is still theory, not practice, and it's a theory where you can just say the end result will be better when the reality is that's not guaranteed. There may be a Blade or three deep on the Marvel bench -- Cloak and Dagger tweaked as a Twilight-like love story of darkness and light, the potentially Iron Man-like Dr. Strange -- but you're talking about Disney, on whose behalf some people complained about the box office performance of Pixar's $600 million-grosser Ratatouille.

I suspect they'll do just fine in that respect. I honestly do. Marvel was purchased at a reasonable price and there are several avenues for revenue outside of the biggest blockbuster movies. Given what we know -- not a ton, but still -- about the future of streaming content and the importance of cable TV networks as brand beachheads internationally, you could argue significant secondary effectiveness of this deal without a steady series of blockbusters. Also, as has been hashed out endlessly, there's the synergy factor: this deal gives Disney access to characters little boys might conceivably want to dress up as for Halloween. I just wonder if the big movie part of it is the slam-dunk assumed for it. In the case of Warner Brothers and DC Comics, I have fewer questions, but I wonder if they'll be able to develop a fresh strategy for developing their characters, and how quickly they can repair their core characters past Batman to serve as a solid base for rolling out the blockbuster superhero stuff. The Green Lantern character has a similarly easy-to-remember hook (space cop with magic ring) as Iron Man (billionaire in robot armor); its lead is probably more generally popular at the moment of his casting but less potentially popular and lacking the affection that a wide swath of moviegoers have for Robert Downey Jr. If it tanks, they'll have a lot of work to do. It should be interesting to see what happens.

Seventh, I have a bunch of random questions and observations that keep swirling to the surface before flowing away, like some sort of wicked comics news tide slapping the shore all the while tossing up superhero corpses and then pulling them back to sea. For one, I have to imagine that the both deals are a vote against pending lawsuits -- the Stan Lee Media case, the Siegels case regarding Superman -- as unresolved, serious matters, although whether that's expectations or denial I couldn't tell you. But if they were considered a serious threat, I can't imagine either deal would have moved forward quickly. I imagine it's possible that both companies, particularly DC, change New York City addresses. I wonder if Marvel will have to break any current charity commitments in order to get on-line with established Disney initiatives. I wonder if this is the moment we call time on Wizard's existence as a magazine with a news involvement with the comics industry -- you can say what you want about the quality of their news coverage over the years, but to just skip these stories on your web site finally confirms that Wizard is more a place for Gareb Shamus commercials rather than it is anything engaged with the industry it's supposed to cover. I wonder a lot of things, never the same three in a day.

Eighth, I remain hopeful that these moves could bring about some beneficial changes in the way publishing works. I know how ridiculous that sounds, and I'm not sure it's the most likely outcome, but there are significant differences between these moves and past moves that have taken place at the ownership/publishing/senior management level. The first is that each deal has come at a time of relative strength for the companies; I see less opportunity for a defensive crouch at any one level, or at least any series of stalls and delays that would be taken seriously. The second is that each comics company is now working or finding greater urgency with a larger agency that has an active history with similar, creative-oriented companies. This isn't a bank buying or investing in the leadership of these companies, or an electronics company buying an entertainment division or naming their best salesperson to the presidency. A third is that each move was done at roughly the same time, with approximately the same goals in mind, and therefore any success enjoyed by one will reflect on the other company. A fourth is that the one concrete move thus far, the one that involves a book being closed, is the departure of Paul Levitz from his current positions. Levitz is a great champion of the Direct Market and a comic book traditionalism I believe is an untapped resource rather than a mass-market hindrance, but he and I think the market as a whole was locked into his conception of what that meant, and where the values of that market should be.

What would I hope for at my most optimistic? An approach to comics publishing that gives up the constant careening between digging out incremental market share victories based on grinding several titles at low sales level and the bizarre idea that the alternative is mass-market acceptance. Traditional comics publishing is profitable and it's not all that impressive in the larger scheme of things. Growing that market by 25 percent, pushing a group of titles over 200,000 units sold without stunts, committing to greater geographical coverage and solving the shipping difficulties that limit existing retail partners month to month sound to me like achievable, valuable goals more about smart orientation than anything that risks over-investment. If everything ends up in new media in ten years anyway, if that path is inevitable and those two markets are indeed exclusive rather than feed different audiences, at least the old way comics will have gone out reaching as many people as it can, and taking those readers into the next step rather than forcing them to reconnect years after they've been driven from the stores. I don't expect Marvel and everyone that follows their lead to back away from the $3.99 price point just because there's less of a pressing need at the corporate level to point towards certain profits; I don't expect DC to suddenly not have a schedule that leaves you scratching your head in terms bizarre titles and mini-series that at best seem intended grind a place onto comic book shelves by attrition and habit and hopes that they'll connect to readers of the previous project. What I can hope for is a reduction in the impulses that make such tomfoolery standard operating procedure. I can hope, anyway. That's enough for now.
 
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If I Were In Helsinki, I'd Go To This

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

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

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FFF Results Post #180 -- Anthologies

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name five regular anthology comics (past or present) that you think are fun, important, or just unappreciated." This is how they responded.

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Christopher Duffy

1. Hyena
2. Twist
3. Bad News
4. Raggedy Ann + Andy Comics
5. Epic

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Zero Zero
2. Arcade
3. Canicola
4. Buzzard
5. The Rook

*****

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Don MacPherson

1) Wednesday Comics
2) Dark Horse Presents
3) Solo
4) Shirtlifter
5) Action Comics Weekly

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Weirdo
2. 2000 A.D.
3. Mad Magazine: Al Feldstein, editor
4. Raw: Volume 2
5. COM

*****

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Sean T. Collins

1. Non
2. Kramers Ergot
3. Mome
4. Paper Rodeo
5. Paping

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. 2000 AD
2. Battle Picture Weekly
3. Action
4. Misty
5. TV Century 21

*****

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Michael Grabowski

* Anything Goes (Fantagraphics)
* Drawn & Quarterly Vol. 1 (D & Q)
* French Ticklers (Kitchen Sink)
* Itchy Planet (Fantagraphics)
* Twist (Kitchen Sink)

*****

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Adam Casey

1. Mad Magazine
2. Shock SuspenStories
3. Weird Science
4. Tales From The Crypt
5. Crime SuspenStories

*****

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Dane Martin

1. Snake Eyes
2. Blood Orange
3. Paper Rodeo
4. Sundays
5. Weirdo

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. Prime Cuts
2. Eclipse Magazine
3. Death Rattle
4. Gay Comix
5. Marvel Comics Presents

*****

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Richard Pachter

1. Zap
2. Warrior
3. Arcade
4. Action Comics Weekly
5. 2000 AD

*****

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Dave Knott

* Metal Hurlant
* L'Echo des Savanes
* Pilote
* A Suivre
* Fluide Glacial

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Bijou Funnies
2. Escape (Gravett/Stanbury)
3. The Ganzfeld
4. Nozone
5. Tales from the Edge

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Comics Revue
2. The Missing Years
3. Wednesday Comics
4. Paper Rodeo
5. Menomonee Falls Gazette

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Crisis
2. Papercutter
3. Wasteland
4. Time Warp
5. Instant Piano

*****

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Alan David Doane

1. Raw
2. Drawn and Quarterly
3. Zero Zero
4. Top Shelf
5. Dee Vee

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Strange Tales
2. House of Mystery
3. Adventure Comics
4. The Brave and the Bold
5. Batman Family

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. Vanguard Illustrated
2. Eclipse Monthly
3. RoadStrips
4. Hoax #1-4
5. Crisis Magazine

*****

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Eric Knisley

1. Weirdo
2. RAW
3. Arcade
4. Yahoo
5. Dark Horse Presents

*****

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John Vest

1. Weirdo
2. Epic Illustrated
3. Red Circle Sorcery
4. Heavy Metal (late 70's issues)
5. Star*Reach

*****

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John McCorkle

1. Pre-Eastman Heavy Metal Magazine
2. Weekly Manga Times
3. Penthouse Comix
4. Judge Dredd Megazine
5. French Kiss Comix

*****

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William Burns

1. Superior Showcase
2. Dope Comix
3. House of Twelve
4. Weird Science
5. World War Three Illustrated

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Critters
2. Dark Horse Presents
3. Wasteland
4. Oni Double Feature
5. Adventure Comics

*****

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Scott Dunbier

1) Weird Science
2) Two-Fisted Tales
3) Crime Suspense Stories
4) Shock Suspense Stories
5) Creepy (1-16)

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. Weirdo
2. Drawn and Quarterly
3. Blab!
4. Mad
5. Snarf

*****

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Rob Clough

1. NON, edited by Jordan Crane.
2. Mome, edited by Eric Reynolds & Gary Groth
3. Low-Jinx, edited by Kurt Wolfgang
4. Studygroup 12, edited by Zack Soto
5. Typewriter, edited by David Youngblood

*****

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Gary Usher

1. Prime Cuts
2. Critters
3. Graphic Story Monthly
4. Centrifugal Bumblepuppy
5. Measles

*****

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Tom Mason

1. Eclipse Monthly
2. Epic Illustrated
3. Quack!
4. House of Mystery/House of Secrets
5. Critters

*****

topic suggested by Christopher Duffy

*****
*****
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Kent Worcester!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Drew Weing!

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Happy 26th Birthday, Matt Bors!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Gary Kwapisz!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Mike Grell!

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First Thought Of The Day

The only thing keeping me on Facebook are those days when my profile inexplicably pops up in a foreign language and I get to hit all the usual buttons while shouting out the words in front of me in a Warner Bros cartoon accent. "Ignora! Ignora!"
 
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This Is Far More Adorable Than Anything I'm Likely To Contribute Here Today

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blown up by me b/c if I give you a part you might want to see the whole; click through for the sharp image and her friends
 
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September 12, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade






via




attractive video and mostly attractive people aside, I will never in 10,000 years understand the costuming impulse


 
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Next Week In Comics-Related Events

September 13
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September 16
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September 17
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September 18
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September 19
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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from September 5 to September 11, 2009:

1. DC Comics becomes DC Entertainment; Diane Nelson named new President; Paul Levitz becomes writer and consultant.

2. PEN American Center urges Yale University Press to allow printing of Muhammad cartoons in forthcoming book.

3. Swine flu cases are being tracked through attendees of PAX.

Winners Of The Week
Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly

Losers Of The Week
Readers of the Detroit Free-Press

Quote Of The Week
"It wasn't Galactus, Lex Luthor, or Dr. Doom that defeated us, but simple dollars and cents." -- the Big Monkey Comics blog

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

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

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If I Were In LA, 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 Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Northampton, 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 LA, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 45th Birthday, Chip Kidd!

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September 11, 2009


Friday Distraction: Dirty BD

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* so apparently Tony Blair thinks that Yale did the right thing in that their university press is declining to reprint the Danish Muhammad cartoons or any other depiction of Muhammad, with the initial half-hearted criticism but now full endorsement of the book's author. What's interesting is that Blair brings up an argument I hadn't heard before: that this is okay because it's not original scholarship. I get the argument, and Blair is clever enough and articulate enough to still argue 2003's justifications for the Iraq invasion on talk-show TV without people yelling out "You Lie," but I can't endorse this distinction.

* I don't believe the notion being floated, but I sure appreciate this sterling example from the Strong Headline-Writing School.

* another politician, another where-I-stood-on-those-cartoons stance of note.

* finally, no one should be prosecuted for a cartoon.
 
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Go, Look: Schizophrenia

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Collective Memory: Disney Buys Marvel

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borrowed with permission from the great J. Chris Campbell

The following are links pertaining to the impending purchase of Marvel and its library of characters by Disney, to be completed by the end of 2009.

*****
*****

Institutional
Disney
Marvel
Initial Press Release
Robert Iger (Wikipedia)
Ike Perlmutter (Wikipedia)
Transcript Of Investor Relations Call

*****

News and Commentary
Andy Doan At Comic Book Bin
AmLaw Daily: SLM Litigation
AppScout
Art Beat

Barron's
Bleeding Cool On 10 Questions
Bleeding Cool On Europe

Casino News Authority
CBR: Initial News Story
CBR Reaction Round-Up
Comic Book Movie 01
Comic Book Movie 02
Comic Book Movie 03
Comics Alliance on Pro Reactions

Deadline Hollywood Index
Digital Spy 01
Digital Spy 02
Digital Spy: Christine Vlatos Lawsuit

Economist.com
ESPN Page 2
Examiner On Direct Market 01
Examiner On Direct Market 02
Examiner On Direct Market 03
Examiner Wire Story 01

Forbes.com

Hervé St-Louis At Comic Book Bin
Hollywood Reporter

ICv2.com: Initial News Story
ICv2.com: Analysis 01
ICv2.com: Analysis 02
ICv2.com: Termination Fee
Independent
Interpark
Investopedia

Journal Tribune

limelife.com

MarketWatch
MercuryNews.com
Motley Fool 01
Motley Fool 02
Multichannel News

National Post 01
National Post 02
Newjerseynewsroom.com
Newsarama: 10 Questions
Newsarama: Retailers
Newsarama: The Animated View
Newsarama: Op-Ed
Newsarama On Stan Lee
Newsarama On Video Games
New York Times 01
New York Times 02
North Shore News

PaidContent.org
Pittsburgh Live

RecentPoker.com
Reuters On Termination Fee

Scotland On Sunday
St. Petersburg Times

The Celebrity Cafe
The Daily Collegian
The Herald-Tribune
The Oregonian
The Sun Daily
The Whig
The Wrap
Times On-Line

Variety 01
Variety 02
Vibe

WSJ: Christine Vlatos Lawsuit

Yahoo Finance

*****

Blogs and Columns
Augie De Blieck, Jr.

Beyond The Multiplex
Blog@Newsarama: The Store
Blog@Newsarama: The Theme Park
Blog@Newsarama: Reaction Round-Ups
Blue Sky Disney

Charles Yoakum
Chris Butcher

Don MacPherson

Galleycat
Gary Tyrrell

James Vance
J. Caleb Mozzocco
Jeff Parker
Joe Field
Johanna Draper Carlson On Business Reactions
Johanna Draper Carlson On Webcast

magnetjunkie
Mark Evanier 01
Mark Evanier 02
Marv Wolfman
Matt Maxwell

Neilalien
NewsOK.com
Nicholas Gazin

Orlando Sentinel

Peter David 01
Peter David 02

Robot 6 01
Robot 6 02

Sean Kleefeld
Steven Grant
Steven Thompson

The Beat 01
The Beat 02
The Beat 03
The Beat 04
The Rebel Yell
The Toilet Paper

Underwire (via)

Warren Ellis
Written World

Zak Sally

*****

Twitter
#disneybuysmarvel (via)
#marvelvsdisney (via)
Joe Quesada's Everyone Relax

Via CB Cebulski, Bob Iger Speaks At Marvel

*****

Audio
Fanboy Radio

*****

Video
Adolf Hitler Reacts

*****

Miscellaneous
Disney Buys Marvel: A Few Historical Notes
IGN On Marvel's Femme Fatales [sic]
List Of Brand Strengths At The Beat
Mike Thompson Editorial Cartoon
Significant Moments In The Publishing History Of Marvel Comics
The Comics Journal Message Board

*****

Claims They Predicted It Jokes
Fantagraphics For Jeremy Eaton
Peter David
Russ Maheras' Incredible Hulk-Duck
Sean Kleefeld For Wally Wood
The Motley Fool (Well, Sort Of)

*****

Mash-Ups Of Marvel/Disney Character Jokes
Ape Lad's Gooflactus
Attackerman
Ben Towle's Steamboat Spidey
Bully
Chris Samnee's M.O.D.U.C.K.
Film Shift
Loose Pages
National Post
News In Film
Russ Maheras' Incredible Hulk-Duck
Ryan Dunlavey's M.O.D.U.C.K.
Screencrave
Wednesday's Child

*****
*****

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from ASM Annual #5 via super-retailer Joe Field

*****
*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: More Free Beasts Of Burden

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Collective Memory: DC Restructures

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Links related to the creation of DC Entertainment, the naming of Diane Nelson as its president, and the re-assignment of Paul Levitz away from his positions as president and publisher, announced on September 9, 2009.

*****

Institutional
DC Comics
Warner Brothers
Diane Nelson
Paul Levitz
Jeff Robinov
Official Press Release
Official Statement From Paul Levitz
Official Statement From Diane Nelson

*****

News And Commentary
Bloomberg.com

CBR 01
CBR 02
CBR 03
CBR 04
Cinematical
Comics Alliance

Deadline Hollywood Daily
DigitalSpy.com

Examiner.com 01
Examiner.com 02
Examiner.com 03

ICv2.com 01

LA Times

Mystateline.com

Newsarama 01
Newsarama 02
Newsarama 03
Newsarama 04
Newsarama 05
NPR

PS3Center.net

Reuters.com

Screenrant.com

Worldscreen.com

*****

Blogs And Columns
Brian Hibbs At Savage Critic

Charles Yoakum
Comics Should Be Good
Comics Worth Reading

David Pepose On Paul Levitz
Dirk Deppey on Paul Levitz

FPI Blog

IconVsIcon.com

Karen Berger
Kurt Busiek On Paul Levitz

Legion Blogpost

Mark Evanier 01 (Deal In General)
Mark Evanier 02 (Paul Levitz)
Marv Wolfman
MTV.com 01
MTV.com 02
MTV.com 03: Interview With Diane Nelson
Premium Hollywood

Robot 6

Sean T. Collins
Spout.com
Steve Thompson On Paul Levitz

The Beat 01
The Beat 02
The Beat 03
The Beat 04
The Beat 05
The Beat 06
The Beat 07
The Beat 08
The Wrap
TV Squad

*****

Other Media
Mike Sterling

*****

Miscellaneous
How Mainstream Comics Used To Announce Changes
Paul Levitz's Diary
How Paul Levitz Retired The First Time Around

*****
*****

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*****
*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: The Last Of Mr. Mordeaux

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Go, Read: Charles Hatfield On The State Of Comics Studies (From Transatlantica)

Longtime CR writing-about-comics pal Charles Hatfield has put his forthcoming article about the state of comics studies on his shared blog for all to see, and if you have any interest in the subject at all it's worth a read. I'm not sure how much interest I have, honestly, but this statement sounds right on: "... academics have professional needs and priorities that are peculiar to the profession, and it's my belief that comics studies in the academy must grapple more deliberately with those needs and priorities. Frankly, I think we're going to have separate out our fandom connections from what we need and what we hope to accomplish as academics."
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Find: Adventures Of Patsy

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Go, Look: Monster Of The Moors

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Go, Look: George Fletcher Clark

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Go, Look: Frank "Hop" Hopkins

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* more on the Swine Flu cases being tracked as having developed at this year's Penny Arcade Expo.

image* a happy second birthday to a personal favorite, Richard Thompson's newspaper comic strip Cul-De-Sac. What a surprise pleasure it's been. I hope there are many more birthdays in its future.

* Harvey was right.

* the great Thierry Groensteen will be honored at the Poitiers library somehow related to but I think perhaps well in advance of their hosting one of the traveling Angouleme exhibits.

* if I'm reading it correctly, the folks at ActuaBD.com seem enamored of Thierry Tinlot's contribution to a Fluide Glacial group blog.

* I am a total sucker for tales from the older days of fandom, where it seemed like there was some extreme effort involved in finding out about certain items and connecting them together, so I read with great interest this entry on the passing of one-time 'zine maker Charles Stumpf. I also swooned over this photograph, for sure.

* Colleen Cover's commission for Kevin Church's ongoing J Jonah Jameson sketchbook army of JJJ's is awfully cute.

* I thought this was interesting post -- the last in a series of posts contrasting The Great Darkness Saga with Blackest Night -- about the way GDS used the fear displayed by its characters to reinforce how the authors wished the reader to view what was going on. People freaking out over stuff is scary. I'm not sure you could do this with a modern series because the audience is more of a hardcore readership with an encyclopedic knowledge of what's going on. That what I'm guessing were mostly younger readers of The Great Darkness Saga didn't really have the tools to piece together what was going on, while readers of Blackest Night have been shown just about everything and are equipped to fill in the blanks themselves, it seems. Then again, maybe not: I'm not reading those comics. (via)

* the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants just became that much more imposing.

* finally, Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist notes that Berke Breathed will make an appearance at the forthcoming Long Beach Comic Con in support of IDW's republication of Bloom County. I suspect Breathed doesn't know the depth of affection a certain generation of comics fans has for Bloom County.
 
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Happy 27th Birthday, Adam Grano!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Rod Whigham!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Ben Towle!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, David King!

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Quick hits
Craft
Nerds Never Heard Of Off-Model Drawing

Exhibits/Events
Kazu Kibuishi Photos From PAX

History
Jason Thompson Is Back
Don Orohek Blog Up And Running
Don MacPherson Looks At The 9/11 Anthologies

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Chris Claremont
CBR: Ethan Van Sciver
Bitch: Shannon O'Leary
Comics Worth Reading: Steve Lieber

Not Comics
Congratulations To Jeffrey Brown

Publishing
Jim Rugg's One Model Nation Cover
Comparing Two Comics With Similar Takes On The Genre

Reviews
Rob Clough: Various
David Welsh: Stitches
Jared Gardner: Various
Don MacPherson: The 9/11 Report
Sarah Boslaugh: The Passion Of The Hausfrau
Leroy Douresseaux: Oishinbo a la Carte Vol. 5
Greg McElhatton: Modesty Blaise: The Lady Killers
 

 
September 10, 2009


Killer Gary Panter Envelope Art

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art by itself; art with story behind art
 
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A Few Notes On DC's Restructuring

Added to as the day goes along:

* the blogger Kevin Melrose has the most rational, straight-forward wrap-up of news regarding DC's restructuring as announced yesterday.

* I'm told by a few people that even after the news broke yesterday, Paul Levitz continued to call certain people to inform them personally, which of course is the classy thing to do.

* here's something: am I the only one that thinks it slightly pathetic that you would push forward news on moves at a billion-dollar company because of the attention being paid your immediate rival? I wouldn't have believed this to be the case, but that's my reading of what's been said as far the timing goes here. First, it's just sort of sad on the face of it. Second, this makes DC look like DC always looks: like if Marvel would jump off of a bridge they'd build their own bridge and jump off of it, screaming "Dark Knight most popular movie since Titantiiiiiiicc..." on the way down. Third, your moves are bound to be compared and contrasted to the previous announcement, and I think Marvel going to Disney wins this one in most people's eyes. Fourth, people are going to be a bit burnt out and your moves won't get the press they maybe deserve. Fifth, you're not ready to answer the most important questions yet in terms of an actual plan for publishing, but the flash and heat of the initial announcement has now come and gone. Sixth, you're pushing forward people into commenting on phases of their career that might be better answered a few more months of preparation. This completely baffles me.

* on the other hand, they will get some heat from the Publisher announcement, whenever that takes place. (I assume there will be a new publisher, although I don't know for sure.) That becomes a big announcement not just for the obvious power and sway this person will have, but for the symbolism of what kind of person they put in that job.

* the obvious one for reading this morning is Dirk Deppey's Doc-Martens-to-the-face appraisal of Paul Levitz's run as a guiding force at DC. How much I agree or not with Dirk's take on things will have to wait until I do the work and come up with a cohesive set of thoughts of my own, but his post is certainly energetic and passionate in a way that I enjoyed.

* here's a minor note: Levitz will remain on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board, that organization's Executive Director Charles Brownstein says via e-mail.

* this Tom Mason feature on Paul Levitz's diary is cute.

* finally, the thought I had the second I woke up the day after Marvel/Disney was announced was "I'm worried about Diamond." The thought I had the second I woke up the day after DC's Restructuring was announced was "I wonder if I should go look at those naked pictures of Milla Jovovich I heard about," but the second thought was totally, "I'm worried about Diamond."
 
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Go, Look: Meet Timmy Fretwork

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Go, Look: Luck

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Go, Read: Joe Quesada Interview

This interview at CBR with Joe Quesada by Kiel Phegley is hilarious for all the questions that Quesada is completely unable to answer, which in itself is revealing as to the way things might be at Marvel post-Disney acquisition as anything else out there the last couple of weeks. What does get answered is interesting, too: how much the Marvel publishing were in the loop, the initial assurances they've received that nothing will change, and his personal, near-bromantical appraisal of deal point-man and Disney honcho Robert Iger (who has the Willow Bay endorsement going for him, if I remember correctly, making this a non-issue).
 
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Go, Look: Strip Cartoonist Autographs

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Post-PAX Death To America Update

Here's something I never thought of until the exact second I read this post at Gary Tyrrell's place: the fact that a super-successful convention like the admirably charity-focused PAX is a prime place for people to catch the Captain Trips-type flu of the moment and take it home with them.
 
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Go, Look: Cy Hungerford

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Go, Look: Stuntman

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Go, Find: A Dick Tracy Blog

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Go, Look: Gene Byrnes

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* missed it: Alan Gardner scores the first interview with new Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis.

image* the publisher and all-too-infrequent cartoonist Chris Oliveros pops up at his company's blog to talk about R.O. Blechman. That's my kind of cameo.

* speaking of D&Q, I think they've gone a little overboard with the interns.

* there's a cutely conceived Peter Parker costume way down in the photos of this Dragon*Con report, but, again, I will never in my life comprehend the costume impulse. I mean, of course I recognize that look of giddy, mostly-but-not-entirely sexual thrill. And I'm pleased for people doing stuff that makes them happy. Still, I'm not sure how people playing dress-up with furious conviction developed such a strong connection to an art form I enjoy as much as I enjoy comics (granted, Dragon*Con is a multi-media con) or why we pay so much attention to it. I guess it's fun to look at, maybe? My own con photos have quite a few costumed people in them. Anyway, there were apparently lots of people getting off at Dragon*Con this year, as in years past, and God bless 'em.

* I liked this post from Johnny Bacardi talking about the specific sequence from Paul Grist that made him a fan.

* the writer Chris Allen responds to two essays: Ilan Strasser's and Ng Suat Tong's. I'm not objective on his response to the article that appeared here, but I thought his reply to Strasser fairly compelling. I'm not sure I agree with a word of it, but it's interesting.

* finally, the columnist Steven Grant talks about royalty-only deals. I think I'm a bit kinder to these kinds of deals than Grant is -- certainly classic newspaper syndication pays according to how many clients purchase a strip -- but I'm not in his position as a freelancer, so it's valuable to hear that perspective.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Jackie Estrada!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Gerry Conway!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Steven Gilbert!

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wherever you are...
 
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Quick hits
Craft
Dreamy
Mike Manley Inks
Paul Pope Draws A Cat
Drew Friedman Makes A Print

Exhibits/Events
CCI Indie Comics Marketing Panel

History
On Flesh!
Comics In Kenya

Industry
Nice Window Display

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Ed Brubaker

Not Comics
The Royale

Publishing
LogiComix Profiled
This Week's Comics
Those Middle Ones Are Pretty
Looking Forward To Family Circus
Love For The Art Of Tony Millionaire

Reviews
Jog: Mushishi
Rob Clough: Katman
Vanja: Soul Kiss #1-5
Shannon Smith: Various
David Cowan: LogiComix
Andy Frisk: The Surrogates
Michael C. Lorah: Magic Trixie
Chad Nevett: Young Liars #18
Chris Allen: Meet The Muppets
Sean T. Collins: Sweet Tooth #1
Richard Bruton: The Photographer
Leroy Douresseaux: Rasetsu Vol. 2
Ed Sizemore: Detroit Metal City Vol. 2
Greg McElhatton: Young Lovecraft Vol. 1
Zak Edwards: Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #2
 

 
September 9, 2009


Warner Creates DC Entertainment; Levitz Steps Down As President, Publisher; New Honchos Recognized

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Now that's a response. Only it's not really a response to Disney/Marvel, because Time Warner doesn't work that way and nobody works that quickly. Still, what a ten-day period.

The president of the newly formed company/division/whatever is Diane Nelson, the current head of I think Warner Premiere but best known as the longtime shepherd for the Harry Potter franchise's interests at the mega-corporation and as a past executive vice president in charge of global brand management. Current President and Publisher Paul Levitz slips into a role the press release describes as "writer, contributing editor and overall consultant" -- or perhaps that's a title, I don't know. Nelson will report to Jeff Robinov, the president of Warner Brothers picture group, who recently re-upped with Warner after lengthy negotiations. Unlike the Disney/Marvel deal, these exact moves or their rough equivalent have been rumored for some time, and news broke ahead of the press release this morning.

If anything, I would assume this is response to the longstanding perception that DC Comics has been lax in their development of hit movie properties in comparison to Marvel. Whereas for some the gigantic success of The Dark Knight seemed to "answer" Marvel's somewhat of a surprise hit with Iron Man, it also threw a spotlight on the lack of a partner property of that stature or a serious development plan for the line in general.

imageThe comics side of things will probably bring its immediate focus to Levitz's departure from his current positions, as he's one of the big-time movers and shaker in comics over the last few decades and is an iconic example of a certain type of fan and fanzine maker turned company executive. Expect a flurry of testimonials and perhaps multiple interviews and/or statements from Levitz, probably with an exact assignment or two outlined. When gossip at San Diego last July turned to the possibility of Levitz stepping aside -- I'm not going to BS you to think I had any special knowledge of this, we've been having this discussion for five years -- one mainstream comics writer made me laugh by saying they thought Levitz might be better suited to being an ex-executive at DC than he was to his then-current role. This person didn't mean that as an indictment past being funny and outrageous in saying it out loud, but I think they were serious in their acknowledgment of the work Levitz has done behind the scenes and where his natural interests seem to lie.

I'll give the general implications some thought, the same way I'm still wondering over the other major corporate comics news of the last 10 days. My initial reaction is that unlike Marvel/Disney this isn't about buying a brand and a way of doing things, this is about a certain level of change being deemed necessary concerning an item (several items) of potential earning power. Granted, to supplement the long-running picture of DC as an entity at Warner that's done everything it can not to be noticed, the fact that it has finally gained major notice through a corporate restructuring around itself might not be the bad thing some thought it might one day be, due to the perceived value it has to the company right now.

With that in mind, if I were an individual creator who worked mostly for DC, I might be a tiny bit more nervous than my Marvel counterpart was last week in terms of my future with the company. Levitz's statement that there might not be long-term relationships with talent that fails to sell takes on a whole new meaning when we learn the guy who said it was tucking a newspaper under his arm and getting ready to head out the door. Yet I would also imagine that there will still be a lot of comics published there (the statement says as much) and that these books could conceivably be more vital to the overall company bottom line and perhaps even more focused as a result. I certainly wouldn't be anything more than a bit cautious and curious: the future may be in some modest way less certain than it officially was a week ago, but nothing indicates radical change, either. Far from it. In a way, the hiring of Paul Levitz the writer suggests as much in terms of the immediate future as the departure of Paul Levitz the publisher.

What worries me with both of these big industry moves as they might have an effect on comics publishing is that this surge of energy from the top down eventually has to reach into a distribution and sales system that is either peach-fuzz nascent (on-line), assailed by outside wounds (book publishing) or abused and weakened and made fragile by years of corporate abuse (the Direct Market). So not only do you have to consider the force of change from these moves, but you have to hope, I think, that we will also see delicacy and precision and an ongoing value for same due to an understanding of their role in making those steamrolling cultural phenomena. Is that kind of cautious maneuvering possible in the age of entertainment properties as juggernauts and leviathans? I dearly hope so.
 
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Please Consider Helping Bob Beerbohm

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First generation Direct Market retailer, longtime collectible comics dealer and hallowed veteran of the Comic Book Store Wars Bob Beerbohm news a few thousand dollars more than he has right now for hip replacement surgery schedule for later this month. He's having a big old-timey comic book sale to facilitate the raising of this morning. Here's more from Mark Evanier and a link direct to Mr. Beerbohm's auction page.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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* a bunch of you have e-mailed a link to this site about a lost Hugo Pratt work (cover above) that I guess was not quite finished. That means someone out there had it first. Thank you, someone.

image* the well-liked small press title Action Philosophers has a 320-page collection coming out in late November: The More-Than-Complete Action Philosophers (0977832937). It will include four new stories.

* friend of CR and longtime Comics Journal mainstay is apparently blogging at Hooded Utilitarian now.

* Sean Kleefeld is going to write a book about comic book fandom, and he invites your input. If I can make a suggestion, I would love to see someone handle with alacrity and care the period between the 1970s 'zine makers and letter-writing circles that seemingly all went into comics and the Internet period of the 1990s. I don't have any sense of 1980s hardcore fandom beyond TM Maple and, if I'm remembering correctly, Joshua Quagmire writing strong critiques of other people's mini-comics.

* here's a surprise: one of those formal on-line press release things that's enjoyable to read. Well, for a press release, anyway. To be honest, I don't know that I'd heard about Sunday Press Books' edition of The Upside Down World Of Gustave Verbeek (cover below), although I suspect that's something that may have been out there just not on the front page of the comics world's mental newspaper. That's a fun strip, and certainly the all-time comics gimmick.

image* the cartoonist Jamie Cosley has launched a new web site devoted to his webcomic, This Is How We Met.

* the artist and cartoonist Stuart Immonen reacts to a cover image and interiors of a forthcoming Craig Yoe-packaged book on Dan DeCarlo's Jetta comics.

* finally, another informative press release, this one in PDF form, about the forthcoming Osamu Tezuka art book from Helen McCarthy.

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Sometimes You Totally Miss Things

It took the re-posting of a standard news article on sitting National Artists in the Philippines protesting the naming of a new group of same lat August for me to figure out there's a comics aspect to the story: one of the artists in question is comics writer and schlocky film director Carlo J. Caparas, and the prominent blogger and fine cartoonist Gerry Alanguilan was among those making the case against him.
 
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Go, Look: Yves Ker Ambrun Galleries

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Nuts And Bolts Disney/Marvel Updates

* yesterday was the day the rest of us began to pick up on Marvel shareholder Christine Vlatos' lawsuit hoping to block the Disney/Marvel deal, although WSJ had it up the day it happened, which was one day after the deal. I'm guessing that the termination fee announcement is what's led to the additional statements. It sounds to me like it's based on how quickly the deal came together, claiming that this indicates there wasn't enough of a sales process to better assist shareholders in finding maximum profit and, subsequently, that the termination fee makes competing offer prohibitively expensive. My perception is that such suits are common and that unless the judge is one of the Motley Fool guys, the suit will have a harder than usual time proving that Marvel shareholders don't stand to benefit a significant amount from the deal as announced.

* something called The AmLaw Daily has an article up on the lingering suit from what remains of Stan Lee Media against Stan Lee and Marvel over whether or not Lee's assignation of rights at the formation of that company included what he was eventually able to win from Marvel in a much-publicized settlement. It's from the lawyer's point of view, and indicates some employment dissonance on the SLM side and while there's no indication of a resolution pre-announcement of the Disney deal, the same law firm working on this case is working on the purchase, so it's not like it's an unknown quantity.

* finally, many news sources have noted the termination fee if the deal doesn't come off as expected: the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a write-up as good as anyone's. This seems pretty typical to me, although I'm not exactly soaked in prior experience covering gigantic business deals.
 
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Go, Look: A Summer In The City

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Marvel Vote Of Confidence To Reed?

A few of you have e-mailed me these two tweets from Marvel's CB Cebulski -- if someone had made a post similar to this one about them first, I apologize -- suggesting they constitute a vote in support of the Reed Exhibition shows mentioned (C2E2 in Chicago; NYCC in NYC) over the Gareb Shamus shows mentioned (Big Apple Con, Anaheim Con). I'd say it's exactly that except there's no immediacy to this statement -- Marvel's has seemingly always enjoyed a good relationship with Reed and has in recent times been clear and open about having no relationship with Shamus' shows. Even the backhanded suggestion that Marvel might be involved somehow is noteworthy, though, as a lot of what's to come in the next 24 months convention-wise is going to be about public perception and institutional support, claims of how certain shows are conceived and claims to the contrary over those conceptions, flashes of PR that are sure to fly around especially as the Shamus shows gear up.
 
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J. Caleb Mozzocco Asks: Is This Panel From The Worst Comic Book Ever?

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DC's Big Monkey Comics To Close

Following a post in the Washington DC-area blog DCist takes us to the Big Monkey Comics site just in time to learn that they're no longer accepting new comics and they're closing except for a couple of days a week where they'll be selling off inventory. I don't know a ton about Big Monkey; I can't even tell if they've been open since 2007 as indicated here or since 2005, which is the initial date on their site's blog. (It could be both, as I know of at least two recently opened Chicago stores that had their starts as name subscription services before going brick and mortar.) I also can't tell how good-looking a place it was. The "as indicated here" link has a pair of photos that seem quite nice; these are more modest.

The post at DCist tells us that this is a second comic shop to bow out of the general area, although I'm certain that the city and surrounding environs are still well-served. The reason cited for the closure is the economy.
 
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If I Were In Cambridge, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Three Stooges #24

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Go, Look: Bugs Bunny In Coronet

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a fun re-run from the ASIFA folks
 
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Go, Look: Yankee Longago

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Go, Look: I Gallop With Danger

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* supposedly the Comics.com site went down over the weekend. Alan Gardner finds out what happened, although I'll have to take his word for it that the response he received actually means something.

image* Charles Yoakum makes a good point here about Jack Kirby as a writer. Because his dialogue was so idiosyncratic, he was likely edited in unflattering way.

* for as much grief as editorial cartoonists receive, some of it deserved, it's difficult not to feel a great deal of sympathy for all members of that proud profession when you hear about people not getting a really easy, straight-forward joke like the one presented here.

* the cartoonist Jim Davis donated a cartoon for papers to use on International Literacy Day yesterday.

* the educator Timothy Callahan picks his favorite interview books, focusing on those focused on comics and cartoonists.

* I guess people still do this?

* David Turgeon's analysis of the mighty Poison River is translated by Derik A Badman.

* the writer and cartoonist Shaenon Garrity talks funny about The Comics Journal. The day after I gave notice at The Comics Journal, I was sitting in Gary Groth's office when Ken Smith called. Gary said, "The only editor of the Journal that ever liked you is here -- and he just quit!"

* finally, PictureBox is having a big sale. As always, sales aren't news: they're better than news.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Dan Vado!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Paul Grist!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Kevin Maguire!

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Quick hits
Craft
Nick Abadzis Sketches
Go Learn From Matt Madden
Definitely Not A Disappointment

Exhibits/Events
Go See Matt Madden

History
Utility Garter
Frank Santoro On Mr. Miracle #18
John Stanley And The Two Gregory Gallants

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Bill Willingham
CBR: Francis Manapul
Newsarama: MK Perker
Newsarama: Doug Mahnke
Optimum Wound: Tim Lane
A Nickel's Worth: Dan Collins
A Nickel's Worth: Brian Crane
Marvel.com: Jeff Parker, Kevin Mahedo

Not Comics
Eric, You Spelled The Word Decade Wrong

Publishing
Pim & Francie, The Unclothed Man Previewed

Reviews
Chris Allen: Humbug
Abhay Khosla: 3 Jacks
Eva Volin: Fruits Basket
Sarah Boslaugh: Various
Snow Wildsmith: Various
Sean T. Collins: Inkweed
Tim O'Neil: Daredevil #500
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Brigid Alverson: Skin Horse
Paul Gravett: The Sandman
Brian Hibbs: Strange Tales #1
Zak Edwards: Young Liars #18
Richard Bruton: The Pasty Anthology
Sean T. Collins: Agents Of Atlas #10
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Wolverine: Logan
Leroy Douresseaux: Kurohime Vol. 13
Leroy Douresseaux: Domo: The Manga
Frank Summa: Your Disease Spread Quick
Leroy Douresseaux: Phantom Dream Vol. 3
Andy Frisk: Justice League: Cry For Justice #3
Leroy Douresseaux: Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Oishinbo a la Carte Vol. 5
Leroy Douresseaux: A Strange And Mystifying Story Vol. 2
 

 
There Are Only 113 Days Left To Celebrate The 25th Anniversary Of Streets Of Fire


 
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September 8, 2009


This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely 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 tomorrow I would be a day early because of the holiday, so I'd turn around and come back on Thursday.

*****

APR090022 ART OF TONY MILLIONAIRE HC (RES) $39.95
I haven't seen this yet, and it's the kind of thing you want to get your hands on before buying, but I can't imagine this not being of interest.

MAR090067 LIFE & TIMES MARTHA WASHINGTON IN 21ST CENTURY HC $99.95
That's... that's a really big book.

MAY090069 TARZAN THE JESSE MARSH YEARS HC VOL 03 $49.95
I'm enjoying the crap out of these, which is a surprise because it's not my favorite kind of comic book and additionally it's the kind of comics work that I think is generally better in comic book form.

JUL090018 BPRD 1947 #3 (OF 5) $2.99
JUL090020 HELLBOY WILD HUNT #6 (OF 8) $2.99
JUL090158 WEDNESDAY COMICS #10 (OF 12) $3.99
JUL090521 INCREDIBLE HERCULES #134 $2.99
This week's well-regarded mainstream comic books of the less-than-$5 variety.

JUL090559 WAR OF KINGS WHO WILL RULE ONE-SHOT $3.99
JUL090618 GUARDIANS OF GALAXY TP VOL 02 WAR OF KINGS BOOK 01 $19.99
I lack that special form of Asperger's that you have to have to follow a years-long sub-section of a mainstream publisher's output, but I kind of enjoy these space Marvel comics when they fall into my lap.

JUN090923 AMULET HC VOL 02 STONEKEEPERS CURSE $21.99
The first volume of this sold like gangbusters and Kazu Kibuishi is a talented cartoonist.

JUL090942 GRIMWOODS DAUGHTER HC (MR) $12.99
Will fans of this long-ago fantasy comic like it as much when it's a book with a spine as opposed to a back-up in a comic book only they can remember? Probably, it's really pretty.

JUN090898 LOVE & ROCKETS NEW STORIES TP VOL 02 (MR) $14.99
Speaking of pretty, the Jaime Hernandez superhero story that concludes in here is gorgeous, but you probably knew that already. Hasn't this been out?

JUL090866 SQUIRREL MACHINE HC $18.99
I'm still digesting this one, but it's lovely and disgusting all at once, just as you might supect.

JUL090863 WEST COAST BLUES HC $18.99
This is the first entry in Fantagraphics' reclamation of Jacques Tardi for North American audience. It reminds me of of an effective British television crime show recast with French actors and their existential concerns. The set pieces are gut-wrenching.

JUL091150 YOTSUBA & ! GN VOL 01 $10.99
JUL091151 YOTSUBA & ! GN VOL 02 $10.99
JUL091152 YOTSUBA & ! GN VOL 03 $10.99
JUL091153 YOTSUBA & ! GN VOL 04 $10.99
JUL091154 YOTSUBA & ! GN VOL 05 $10.99
JUL091149 YOTSUBA & ! GN VOL 06 $10.99
If you don't have these, you want these. Well, maybe not all of you. I found the evocation of the way kids look at the world and are constrained and challenged by same to be very effective and funny. Try one if you get the chance.

*****

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 so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

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, 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. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, it's because I was distracted by the start of the professional football season. Go Bears.

*****

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posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
MISA Media Freedom Award To Zapiro

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The cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro traveled to Swaziland over the weekend to accept the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Media Freedom Award, yet another award claimed by the cartoonist despite being beset in his own country by an antagonistic relationship with President Jacob Zuma, complete with lawsuits. What's interesting about this is that linked-to article above (the country's newspaper site is down, so that link had to be pressed into service before this part of this post) suggests that Zapiro has been just as tough on King Mswati III as he has on on other regional political figures, and that the cartoonist was feted for his lifetime achievements in the country's main newspaper without this being brought up.
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Lose #1

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posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Mutts Among Free-Press Strip Drops

The Detroit Free-Press announced Sunday that it would cut six strips as part of a more elaborate attempt to adjust its comics and related features page to better fit its current financial outlook. They're cutting Amazing Spider-Man, Dinette Set, The Family Tree, F-Minus, Mutts and Rose Is Rose. They're adding Judge Parker as a daily and then again as a Sunday a bit later, dropping Argyle Sweater to do so.

I think that's a fascinating bunch of comic strips to drop, and a startling one to pick up. I wanted to bring that list up here first because I feel it underlines that the current drops are taking place with strips of all ages and pedigrees. If anyone out there is assuming that the strips being cut by papers are solely relegated to marginal or legacy strips, you should probably stop right now. Where newspapers end up landing -- assuming there will be landing -- could transform the comics page in ways other than shrinking the crap out of that market. The remaining audience may have taste that favors a Judge Parker over a Mutts, the same way that CBS television has enjoyed success with a specific kind of comfortable television show over shows with quirkier appeal. That's speaking in hugely inexact generalizations, I know, but I think it's worth considering that the market is going to be different than the one that existed right now, and not just because it has fewer people in it.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
New Comic Strip Archive Goes Up

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(via and context through here)
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Sollies-Ville Festival Prix Winners

imageArt Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly shared the grand prize given out by the Festival de Sollies-Ville at the conclusion of the 21st edition of their show, an effort that included appearances by a number of comics heavy-hitters ranging from Lewis Trondheim and Chris Ware. The Grand Prix Soleil d'or was given to the pair for their lifetime achievements, which span each many honor spread across two distinguished individual careers as well as their shared publishing enterprises. The pair were on hand to receive their award. Other prizes went to the Lorenzo Mattotti adaptation of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" in Delcourt Bob Dylan Revisited as best comic, Jean-Pierre Gibrat's Matteo (Futuropolis) as best album, Matthieu Lauffray's Long John Silver (Dargaud) as best series, Charles Burns' Black Hole (Delcourt) as best foreign album, and the Coup de coeur award to Daphne Collignon for Correspondant de guerre (Soleil). Photos of the awards event are to be found through the link.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ginette Lapalme In Vice

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posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Chris Butcher On DM

The prominent blogger and comics retail employee Chris Butcher has a long post up at his site about not being able to order certain books through Diamond and how this has a ripple effect that could someday shake Diamond to death if they're not careful. It's a textbook example of what I was talking about when Diamond decided to raise their minimums.

I believe that move changed the functional heart of Diamond from "we provide all the comics" -- even if maybe not all the way true and a hangover of the DM's early promise -- to something along the line of "we provide most of the better-selling comics," which may not be something that matches up with consumer habits concerning comic books without a lot of work. The short version, as Chris shows and I asserted, is that if you can get all your comics from Amazon.com or by going to conventions and you can't get them by going to the Diamond-serviced comics shop, you're probably going to go to the places you can get all the comics you want. Even if you can't get all your comics from a single place, you're going to split your purchases in a way that may not flatter the comics shop, and you are going to judge the time you do spend in that outlet on a basis on which it may or may not be ready to compete (you're still getting the service and discounts with which you used to be okay because you could fulfill your wants completely). This doesn't apply to everybody, but may be enough to make a difference in the health of a market that depends on the capricious, bottom-line whims of its best providers more than most.

Additionally depressing is that Butcher notes that this minimums-raising thing has had no effect on the quality of Previews that he can discern. Heck, it may not have boosted service if general rumors are to be believed. I think the overall health of Diamond and its place as part of the core identity of a entire way of producing, distributing and consuming comics are going to be big questions for the next several months. For one thing, I don't think waking up one morning and finding out they're part of a big deal would be all that surprising to anyone.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
E-Mail Doesn't Quite Do This Yet

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envelope art from Frank Santoro
 
posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Pogany On Figure Drawing

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Goose Magazine #2

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: New Criminal Series Preview

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Eddie Campbell talks about Will Eisner's The Spirit: The New Adventures.

image* the writer and publisher Dan Nadel posts a lovely note about Hal Foster and Prince Valiant. Greatly recommended. My dad used to tell a story about Hal Foster that makes me think he may have felt slightly under-appreciated near the end of his long and distinguished run.

* not comics: I never thought of it before, but I guess manga boxes would be pretty low on the priority list given their easy shelvability and all. My manga is wrapped in garbage bags and buried in the back yard.

* I haven't dug around yet to see if this is true, but ewwww.

* another free Eugene Zimmerman book is apparently available here.

* a Jeff Smith link-o-rama.

* mediabistro.com's GalleyCat blog profiles a site that I believe is designed to introduce people to webcomics with significant back catalogs called Archive Binge.

* finally, I missed a brief discussion on-line to which Sean T. Collins draws attention: Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort's statements regarding the success of white male Americans as lead characters on American mainstream comic books. What interests me isn't so much that white males are a safer bet -- Brevoort knows his stuff, plus it's a widely held piece of conventional wisdom that white males are the O-positive blood type of identification in pop entertainment -- but that American comic books feature such a tight loop that one kind of comic book can be viewed so strictly in terms of its performance against another type.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Jordan Crane!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
John Stanley Original Art
Japanese From Hell Cover
How To Draw Milk And Cheese
Missed It: Jen Sorensen Cover
Eddie Campbell On Bacchus #54 Cover

Exhibits/Events
Kaz Kibuishi at PAX
Berndt Toast Exhibit Preview

History
Great Title
More From Kirby's Head
Manga Related To Labor
There Are Still Comics I've Never Heard Of

Industry
Happy 1st Anniversary, Sine Hebdo
College Guide To Chicago Comics Shops

Interviews/Profiles
Squidge: Adam Cadwell
Squidge: Steve Tillotson
Richard Dansky: Thomas Sniegoski
Reverse Direction: George Cochrane

Not Comics
Vote For Clowes
Miriam In Moominland
Tips For The Working Illustrator

Publishing
Deadpool #900 Previewed
How To Find Entire Comic Books On-Line
Isn't This Just 20 Pages Of Lightning Bolts?
Corey Pandolph Trapped In Cartoon World

Reviews
Jog West Coast Blues
Mike Sterling: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
Jim Ousley: Incarnate #1
Don MacPherson: Various
Don MacPherson: Various
Nina Stone: The Mighty #8
David Welsh: Ikigami Vol. 2
Hillary Chute: Asterios Polyp
Rob Clough: Emberley Galaxy
Martin Levin: Masterpiece Comics
Glen Weldon: Masterpiece Comics
Greg McElhatton: Fantastic Four #570
Ed Sizemore: Mouse Guard: Winter 1152
Greg McElhatton: GrimJack: The Minx Cat #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Vol. 3
Johanna Draper Carlson: Kat & Mouse: The Knave Of Diamonds
 

 
September 7, 2009


CR Holiday Feature: Ng Suat Tong On Writing, Collaboration and Superheroes

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By Ng Suat Tong

During a recent e-mail exchange with Joe McCulloch of Jog the Blog I asked him who he thought were the best superhero artists of the current generation. He wrote back indicating that he had been thinking about this for a while and that "superhero comics really are in a writer-driven era, enough so that it's getting hard to identify 'star' artists like there used to be in the late 80s or early 90s."

His thoughts seemed to echo my own. The seeming domination of the writer in mainstream publications (at least as far as publicity and reverence are concerned) is made more curious by the fact that I find the current crop of star writers (with the exception of Grant Morrison who really came to prominence much earlier) pretty flat and uninteresting.

While we were having this e-mail discussion, the artist James Romberger was denouncing the dearth of respect for the cartoonist (and drawing) both among reviewers and industry players on The Comics Journal Message Board stating that:
"The critical malfunction regarding comic art is apparent in the recent New York Times review of Asterios Polyp, The Hunter and a Gaiman/Kubert Batman thing [Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?]. The Batman review is obviously about Gaiman, except that Kubert is the 'geek icing on the cake.' While the writer makes a stab at describing Darwyn Cooke's visual style he falls short with Mazzucchelli, focusing on the events of the story; to describe David's mastery of comics syntax, complex diagrammatical approach and emotional nuance communicated by spare lines he gives us: 'diverse visual conceits and effects'... Critics and audience take their cue from the publisher's promotion and packaging. If the writer is the main creator by virtue of font size and cover ranking then I can absolutely guarantee that the artist is going to get short critical shrift in the long run."
A simple survey of on-line reviews and articles would suggest that Romberger does have a point -- at least with respect to mainstream comics. It's a situation which seems even more inequitable if one considers what passes for a full script in this day and age.

While a number of comic writers claim to revere and admire Alan Moore, few if any have shown any interest in studying or emulating his works. Moore's influence on comics writing virtually stops short at grimy, gritty realism. To be sure, I'm not asking writers today to develop an imagination on par with Moore's but there are some skills which can be learned. For instance, his understanding of the formal properties and history of comics, a more complex interplay between text and drawing and the methods by which he layers structures and scripts. It is clear that Rick Veitch in his Swamp Thing run, which followed Moore's, managed to pick up a number of these lessons and more.

Any review of the quality of present day comic scripts (which are now more frequently than ever reproduced at the back of comic collections) would exclude a writer's thumbnails, photo reference material, late night phone calls, faxes or plain face to face conversations (if there were any; I'm giving the writers the benefit of the doubt here). On the other hand, the scripts which are presented at the back of these collections represent a vital skeletal structure. To suggest that these scripts are more often that not utterly decalcified would not be an exaggeration.


*****

When a writer fails to take into account the limitations and talents of his collaborator, what we are left with may be compared with one of those scenes in science fiction movies where dinner guests are presented with food capsules containing the essence of filet mignon (or bull rectum whichever may be the case).

Pia Guerra's response to Brian K. Vaughan's sparse and determinedly straightforward scripts (as presented at the back of the Y: The Last Man collections) are illustrations conveying as little mood or sense of place as is present in Vaughan's instructions. The comic is left to succeed purely on the basis of Vaughan's ideas and lively dialogue. That these ideas are at various times boring, nonsensical or just plain irritating is beside the point -- I'm focusing purely on Vaughan's mastery of the formal tools at his disposal. Vaughan's stories in the early issues of Y are nearly bereft of devices unique to comics filled as they are with unsophisticated story structures, flat panel to panel transitions and the rote use of splash pages at the end of each issue. If anything, Y reads like an easy to understand sales pitch for comics-illiterate movie executives. Little wonder then that the words HBO and Y are so often uttered in the same breath. Reproduced below are the most formally inventive pages from issue 18 of Y I could find (the script of which was published at the back of the collected edition) -- the better to see the efficacy of Vaughan and Guerra's collaboration:

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Whatever your opinion about Frank Miller's skills as a prose writer or crafter of plots, he was, at the very least, in tune with the mechanics of a comics page (far more so than Vaughan I should add).

In Born Again, his use of splash pages were judicious and often unpredictable. The final page in each issue was never an excuse for a half-baked, badly telegraphed, cliffhanger splash page. It was Miller's use of tension from issue to issue and from panel to panel in the final pages of Daredevil #232...

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... (note the rather the sly use of dialogue in the final panel here to foreshadow the next page) mingled with Mazzucchelli's exceptional compositional and expressionistic skills that contributed to the effectiveness of this famous splash page:

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[Note: By this juncture, Matt Murdock had not been seen in costume since Daredevil #227, nearly half a year ago -- itself a case of careful planning on the part of Miller. ]

I'm not suggesting that the problems with Y would have been completely solved by the application of more skill, time and energy to the script. Vaughan would still have been at the mercy of his artist-collaborator (and vice-versa). On the other hand, the scrawny and simplistic nature of most modern day scripts (which may well be an improvement over anything during the Silver Age or early Bronze Age) has also led to great variation in the efficacy of the accompanying art. Something terrible and quite telling occurs, for example, when Manuel Gutierrez takes over from Alex Maleev in issues #38-39 of Brian Michael Bendis' Daredevil run. In essence, Bendis' simplistic script was laid bare for what it was.

It was my rather lackluster (though not completely disappointing) experience reading Bendis' initial run on Daredevil as collected in his Daredevil Omnibus that made me go back and re-read Miller and Mazzucchelli's Born Again to see if nostalgia had been up to its old tricks. (I should note here that the Bendis Daredevil Omnibus, as opposed to all the prior, shorter, hardcover reprintings, is clearly touted as Bendis' achievement by Marvel since you would be hard pressed to find out who actually drew the issues without peeping inside)

A recent hardback reprint of Born Again reprints Miller's script for Daredevil #233 -- one which bears reading if only to ascertain to whom to ascribe the most praise. It is a sad fact that few of the current generation of mainstream writers understand comics as well as Frank Miller -- hardly one of the greatest writers comics has ever produced, but a decided force in mainstream comics art. Miller, writing in 1987, is of course, full of praise about his collaboration with Mazzucchelli:
"It's almost criminal how easy David makes it to write a script. He makes a three dimensional stage of the individual panel, complete in authentic detail, nonetheless uncluttered and utterly readable. He creates actors whose dramatic range is startling, whose best and most compelling moments are wordless."
While it may not have been perceived as such when it was first released, this was clearly a collaboration of equals (artistically speaking) and is still billed as such to this day despite Miller's considerable name-draw. Here are two pages of Miller's script and the corresponding page from the actual comic just to see what Miller requested and Mazzucchelli added to each page:

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With respect to Miller's writing skills, a telling sequence occurs in Daredevil #232, which is preceded by a medium-sized establishing shot of the Bugle newsroom:

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On the first page of the sequence, Miller's insertion of a woman calling for a copy boy in the first and third panels seems almost like a distraction or an effort to depict the frantic atmosphere of a newsroom. That is, until the fifth panel where she asks in exasperation, "Copy Boy die or what?"

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By the time the second page in the sequence comes round, the words "dead", "cold" and "buried" begin to pop up on ever other panel -- the calm of the hospital murder scene contrasting with the madness of the newsroom:

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It's the kind of sequence you would expect from someone like Alan Moore but not Frank Miller (there's even a small nod to Klaus Janson and a Kurtzman-inspired face provided by Mazzucchelli in the third panel of the third page in this passage).

The sequence, simple as it is, is filled with details which you would never pick up in a movie on a single viewing. It's a good example of some basic yet unique properties of comics. Consider the utter calm created by the fourth panel (virtually empty of dialogue and bedroom details) on the following page where the nurse sarcastically thanks Ben Urich:

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Contrast this with the the writing displayed in Bendis and Maleev's Daredevil -- a series built on the foundation of Miller's Daredevil and using a template established during the Miller and Mazzucchelli collaboration (in short, a thinly disguised regurgitation). Bendis' comics appear to have the greatest visual and formal sophistication among the new generation of "name" mainstream writers which include Brian K. Vaughan and Ed Brubaker (if I don't bring up Brubaker's Captain America run here it is only because it is easily the worst of the bunch and doesn't bear mentioning). An example of this can be seen in some of the double page spreads found in Daredevil:

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It is hard to ascertain where Bendis begins and Maleev ends without the presence of a script, but some of these double page spreads bear comparison with those found in the Bendis-written Powers (drawn by Michael Avon Oeming):

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Bendis' use of such double-page spreads in Daredevil (some containing lengthy expositional dialogue) is probably as effective as the densely written captioned narratives used by Miller in Born Again. The highly visual nature of these spreads in Daredevil suggest a significant contribution on the part of Maleev.

One of the most dramatic moments Bendis was able to come up with over his lengthy run is Bullseye's attempt to kill Murdock's girlfriend, Milla Donovan:

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It's a sequence which hinges on the reader's familiarity with Daredevil continuity and the ghosts of Elektra and Karen Page. The gradual emergence from darkness of Bullseye and the close-ups of Milla's face testify to Bendis and Maleev's reliance on the language of film and television. This is comics as a functional storyboard which moves effectively from A to B and then back to A with a minimum of fuss -- a virtue of the highest order in mainstream comics which aspire to the status of suspenseful melodrama perhaps but the complete opposite of what we find in the works of Alan Moore not to mention a host of superior alternative writer-artists. The meeting between Kingpin and Bullseye in an earlier issue owes an even greater debt to film.

Maleev's realistic art work further heightens this effect throughout the series and the team rarely build on decades of innovation in cartooning and comics writing -- the rather insignificant "homage" to past Daredevil artists later in their run being no exception. A more interesting use of the comics page occurs when Murdock encounters Typhoid Mary where we see, once again, the gradual close-ups but this times placed askew on a full page bleed:

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If Bendis and Maleev's take on Daredevil falters at times in its disregard for the formal properties of comics, it is also guilty of rolling out age old tropes for the "revival" of superhero titles. One is left with the impression that mainstream comics writing has not only stagnated but in all likelihood regressed in the last decade becoming competent yet mediocre.

The comparison here is made more pitiful by the fact that Miller's script for Born Again is hardly perfect. Miller's script is frequently over-verbose and overwrought. His constant repetition of facts at the beginning of each issue betray the serialized nature of the comic at a time when the collection of runs of comics into books were not givens. Yet he clearly understood the visual and structural aspects of a comics page as well as the creation of tension and suspense.

I have intentionally avoided mentioning any Alan Moore-related comics up to this point as this would be perceived to be unfair, much like comparing Maleev's art to that of Jack Kirby as far as drawing is concerned. I will avoid any examples from Watchmen for the same reason. I can personally attest to being rather surprised the first time I saw one of Moore's scripts during the '80s but I have come to expect no less from writers nowadays. There is as much learnable craft in Moore's script as there is irreproducible imagination, as much hardwork as there is inspiration.

Moore's techniques if noted and described in detail would easily fill a book several times the length of this article but it is equally telling what Moore was willing to do in order to get Eddie Campbell on the same page as he was for the "simplest" of scenes in From Hell (only the first of three pages of script shown).

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A similar though more varied picture arises with Grant Morrison whose scripts (together with a few samples) are discussed in some detail here. As with Moore, the quality of Morrison's ideas make any comparison with the likes of Bendis or Brubaker very difficult -- the magnitude of his creative energies are simply of a different order. Even a relatively minor title like Seaguy becomes an opportunity for a plethora of references, symbols and incidental details which enliven the world. As with his other titles like The Filth, Seaguy is so choked with visual absurdities and wacky ideas that you could not imagine them portrayed in superior fashion anywhere but in a comic book.

The density of Morrison's creations owe as much to his text as to the visual images he has his collaborators bring to life. With All Star Superman, his aim was clearly to allow Quitely the space to produce iconic and arresting images of the most famous of all superheroes (as Miller did with Batman in The Dark Knight Returns). Yet his real passion (as revealed, for instance, in the information packed splash pages of his more personal works) is to allow readers to grasp his plots and inhabit his imagined worlds through visual revelations.

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This is in stark contrast to Vaughan's thinly imagined visuals in Y. Granted that the abilities of Richard Case on Doom Patrol or Cameron Stewart on Seaguy far surpass those of Pia Guerra, yet Vaughan clearly makes no effort to create a rich or believable world through imagery in his most famous work. It should be added that Morrison has had his own encounters with a less than effectual artist in the person of Chas Truog on Animal Man. It was a problem he overcame, in part, through his fertile imagination yet there is little doubt that the reputation of Animal Man has suffered because of this unequal partnership.

Readers will find that the success or failure of many of Morrison's comics rely far more on the details of the plotting and narrative than any sublime formal skills (though he is obviously possessed of above average skills in this area). He has not Miller's great gift for pacing an action sequence or delivering a sense of awe. Nor does he have Moore's genius for narrative structure or visual-textural interplay. The reason why Moore's comics seem so elevated above his peers is because of his mastery and frequent use of all of these skills.

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As I have mentioned at the start of this article, the failure to inspire on the part of the current generation of writers would feel less acute if not for the actions of their editors and publicists. In recent years, these figures have sought to elevate a host of rather indifferent writers above their artist-collaborators many of whom have contributed very significantly to the success of certain comics.

The case of Neil Gaiman and Sandman is less egregious if only for the fact that Gaiman is the most important and consistent voice on Sandman. It is clearly to the commercial benefit of his fellow artists (not to mention DC) for his name to get top billing for it is he who is the highest draw. Gaiman's collaborators may in all likelihood be thankful simply for being invited (or allowed) to play in Gaiman's sandbox and to earn a sizable paycheck. Whether this situation is fair to his collaborators (or adapters) is another question entirely. Such issues may in fact be totally irrelevant to most observers who view these as purely financial transactions no different than those undertaken by Carl Barks when he wrote and drew for years without credit.

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Artistically speaking, it is all too clear that Gaiman's artist collaborators had a significant part in the success (or failure) of a number of Sandman story arcs. Here's an example from one of the most revered issues from his run, Sandman #50 ("Ramadan"), drawn by P. Craig Russell. Readers can decide for themselves how best to divide their compliments:

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A similar situation can be found in the newly minted Vertigo Crime line where Ian Rankin is the headliner for pretty obvious commercial and financial reasons -- division of labor and collaboration be damned:

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On the other hand, I imagine that Alan Moore and his collaborators won't be too pleased by the way DC has chosen to credit them on the latest Swamp Thing collection:

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As for Bendis, he has of course acknowledged the gifts of his collaborator in print. At the back of the Daredevil Omnibus he writes:
"Simply put, Alex [Maleev] draws the way I want to draw. In my head I draw like him. His unique sensibilities and approach make him, probably, the most unique artist working on a mainstream monthly comics, and I don't think that's acknowledged enough."
I've included this quotation here not to suggest any agreement with this statement but to give Bendis his due. There is little to reason to believe that he takes any pleasure in the way he has been headlined at the cost of Maleev on the dust jacket of the Daredevil Omnibus. The extent to which Maleev contributes to the mood of Bendis' scripts can be seen in the following script comparison where he both adds to and subtracts from the working script:

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It is clearly the editors and pencil pushers at Marvel's offices who are most at fault for the pretty disgraceful cover credits on the Daredevil Omnibus:

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That the balance of publicity has tipped so far to the side of the writer in recent years, despite little evidence pointing to the surpassing worthiness of their writing skills, should be cause for consternation if not disgust.

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bigger versions of the above images can be found here.

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posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
I Hate To Say It, But The 2010 CCI Placeholder Post Went Up This Morning

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to answer any and all questions between now and Memorial Day 2010
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Barry Blair!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
A Smattering Of Labor Cartoons
Cagle
Bulbul
Bendib
UAW Page
Mike Keefe
CartoonStock
Carol Simpson
Huck/Konopacki
The Labor Cartoons
 

 
September 6, 2009


Go, Look: The Sunday Comics Pages, South Fulton Daily Recorder, August 29, 1976

Grant Goggans has been reprinting feature by feature the comics run by the South Fulton Daily Recorder in their Sunday Section back on August 29, 1976.

I love this kind of thing because it underlines how selective our memory is in terms of newspaper comic strips -- most of the comics pages in the 20th Century were made up of strips, some that ran for years, that no one talks about anymore. Some were pretty good; most were not so good. But they really do slip from memory: I hadn't thought of Winthrop, for example, in years, and I always liked that strip!

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posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #179 -- Funny Animals

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Your 5 Favorite Funny (And Not-So-Funny) Animals." Here is how they responded.


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Buzz Dixon

1. Howard
2. Donald
3. Huey
4. Dewey
5. Louie

*****

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Walter Biggins

1) Scrooge McDuck (Carl Barks, Uncle $crooge)
2) Opus (Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County, Outland, Opus)
3) Hobbes (Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes)
4) Ofissa Pupp (George Herriman, Krazy Kat)
5) Prof. Cosmo Fishhawk (Jeff MacNelly, Shoe)

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Gorilla Grodd
2. Ultra-Humanite
3. Monsieur Mallah
4. Guenter (Futurama)
5. Wile E. Coyote - super genius

*****

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Scott O. Brown

1) Dyno-Mutt
2) Donald Duck
3) Chilly Willy
4) Pink Panther
5) "Blue Aardvark"

*****

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James C. Langdell

1. Frank
2. Porkeypine
3. Ch'p
4. Raul the Cat
5. Goat (the one from Quantum & Woody)

*****

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Steve Thompson

1-Scrooge McDuck
2-Neil the Horse
3-Wonder Warthog
4-Teddy Q
5-Cutey Bunny

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Raul the Cat
2. Devil Dinosaur
3. Ace the Bat Hound
4. Streaky
5. Lockjaw

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Smilin' Ed Smiley
2. Snowy (Milou)
3. Pogo 'Possum
4. Leo (Kimba the White Lion)
5. Recondo Rabbit

*****

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Michael May

1. Cerebus
2. Foghorn Leghorn
3. Snoopy
4. Hong Kong Phooey
5. Raphael (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

*****

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John Vest

1. Mr. Tawky Tawny
2. Omaha the Cat Dancer
3. Gregor the Purpleass Baboon
4. Waldo the Cat
5. Bijou Funnies' Pat the Cat

*****

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Cole Moore Odell

1. Krypto the Superdog, as drawn by George Papp
2. Grover Groundhog (from DC's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)
3. Raymond Quentin Smuckles
4. Ignatz Mouse
5. The Whiffle Hen

*****

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Michael Aushenker

1. WOODY GODDAM WOODPECKER!
2. Definitely NOT Opus or Bill the Cat! How about SNOOPY?!!?!
2. TEEKLE! Clarion's miniature cat from Jack Kirby's THE DEMON
4. AMSAT! The giant kitty that terrorized KONA, MONARCH OF MONSTER ISLE
5. Ditko's version of Atlas' TIGER-MAN! (a sentimental favorite....* sniff, sniff *)

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Miyamoto Usagi
2. Vladek Spiegelman
3. Lapinot
4. Gyro Gearloose
5. Howard The Duck

*****

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Jess Harvell

1. Hobbes
2. Cerebus (up until he stopped being pope, at least)
3. Ignatz
4. Ray Smuckles
5. The platonic Gary Larson cow

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Snoopy
2. Streaky
3. Lockjaw
4. Barker (Zoot Sputnik's cosmically-aware dog)
5. Ch'p

*****

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Wayne Blackledge

1. Peter Bagge's Jesus Critters
2. Jim Woodring's Frank
3. Fritz The Cat
4. Howard The Duck
5. The supporting cast from 'Kamandi'

*****

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Rob Clough

1. Herbert (from Dungeon)
2. Destroyer Duck
3. The assassin from Jason's I Killed Adolf Hitler
4. Fritz the Cat
5. Rory Hayes' Bear character

*****

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Joe Schwind

* A Far Side Cow
* Ignatz Mouse
* Mickey Rat
* Mr. The Toad
* Yogi Bear

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Howard the Duck
2. Snoopy
3. Bill the Cat
4. Pogo
5. Gene the Hackman

*****

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William Burns

1. Bugs Bunny
2. Howard the Duck
3. Scrooge McDuck
4. Pogo
5. The Rabbi's Cat

*****

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Stergio Botzakis

1. Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham
2. Uncle Scrooge
3. Ray Smuckles
4. Boris the Bear
5. Krypto

*****

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David Welsh

* Snoopy from "Peanuts"
* Raul the cat from "American Flagg!"
* Opus from "Bloom County"
* Hobbes from "Calvin and Hobbes"
* Go-Go from "Banana Sunday"

*****

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Gary Usher

1. The Wraith
2. Panku Ponk, manga bunny
3. Huey/Dewey/Louie
4. Super Goof
5. Captain Jack

*****

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Adam Casey

1. Hoppy, the Captain Marvel Bunny
2. Tawky Tawny
3. Chubby da Choona
4. The gorilla from the cover of Strange Adventures #8
5. Licensable Bear

*****

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Frank Santoro

5. Randolph Groomfiend (mouse from 1800MICE)
4. Squeak the Mouse (Groening totally ripped this off)
3. Uncle Garcia (Godzilla character in Gary Panter's cola madness)
2. Hobbes (if you don't like Hobbes you can eat me)
1. Snowy

*****

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Erik S.

5 Deacon Mushrat
4 Comet the Super-Horse
3 the Jeep
2 Hellcow
1 Uncle Scrooge

*****

* topic suggested by Buzz Dixon
* please note: I am going to delete a lot more stuff that doesn't follow basic formatting suggestions as represented by the sample five; reformatting and/or reading your complaints about other people being able to format in a certain way no longer seems the greatest use of my weekend time. I apologize in advance.

*****
*****
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 72nd Birthday, Sergio Aragones!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Mike Zeck!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 64th Birthday, Go Nagai!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 30th Birthday, Jason T. Miles!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

I sure don't miss playing football -- not the way I played, anyway.
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
September 5, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade




context and a link to a fuller snippet here


via


via



via
 
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Next Week In Comics-Related Events

September 8
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September 9
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September 11
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September 12
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September 13
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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from August 29 to September 4, 2009:

1. Disney announces $4 billion plan to buy Marvel and its library of characters.

2. Kodansha ends all licenses with Tokyopop.

3. Malaysian satirical cartoon magazine makers may face charges.

Winner Of The Week
Ike Perlmutter

Losers Of The Week
We're seriously not seeing the rest of Cromartie High School, are we?

Quote Of The Week
"The bitter irony is that Disney now owns the character they helped to make unusable." -- Brian Hughes on Howard the Duck

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

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

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Cathy Guisewite!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Some MoCCA Person On Their September Events (PR) (9/4/09)
* Benn Ray On Atomic Books' SPX-PLOSION 2 Party In Baltimore On September 25 (PR) (9/3/09)
* Alex Bullett On Comics' Least Sexy Issue (9/3/09)
* Fan Expo Canada 2009 People On Their Official Post-Show Figures, 2010 Dates (PR) (9/3/09)
* The Good Folks From Gosh! About Their Joe Sacco Signing September 30 (PR) (9/3/09)
* Dennis O'Neil On Teaching A Ten-Week Course At NYU (PR) (9/3/09)
* Walter Dickinson On A Forthcoming Class Taught By Ty Templeton (PR) (9/2/09)
 
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September 4, 2009


Go, Look: A Large Number Of Jason Lutes Illustrations For NYT Article

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thanks, Robert Boyd
 
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: Steve Bissette On-Line Sketch Archive

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posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
More Staffers Let Go From Wizard

An e-mail from the usual sources says that Jim Gibbons, who was an editor at the main magazine, and TJ Dietsch, primarily associated with Toyfare, are the latest people let go by Wizard Entertainment in what seems like an endless culling of a sizable employee pool. I'm also told this got out on the message boards last night, although if that's true, I missed it. I believe Gibbons was hired a couple of years back as the on-line editor during one of the heaves and seizures that has been the magazine's on-line strategy, but then moved over to the main magazine.
 
posted 6:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Feliz Dia de la Historieta

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Through the launch of the new Factum! site, Loris Z alerts us to the fact that today is Dia de la Historieta, the day in Argentina they celebrate comics. I don't know as much as I should about the Argentine tradition beyond the fact that many of their cartoonists -- whether those that were born there or those that spent the majority of their life there or those with a healthy professional connection to there -- are among the greatest in history. So it sounds like a good day to me.

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Go, Look: Early Tom Toles

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posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Jacob Zuma Uses Journalism Panel But Dropping Zapiro Lawsuit Not In Plans

The crisis in a South Africa independent press precipitated by the discussion of new laws and reviews via entrenched committees for perceived abuses of the power of free media has listed back to the encouraging side of things, according to a recent piece in Mail & Guardian On-Line. Although observers are encouraged by President Jacob Zuma making use of an existing panel, it doesn't seem likely that his lawsuit against cartoonist Jacob Zuma is going to go away any time soon. One of the big stories of this decade in world cartooning is this two-sided press of legislative controls and political figures filing lawsuits, a potentially powerful 1-2 disincentive against critical work aimed at such figures.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Great Cartoonists Means Great Covers

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Chris Ware covers Granta

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Ivan Brunetti covers The New Yorker
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Carlos Latuff Disowns Aussie Graffiti

I don't write a lot about Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, mostly because people getting mad at someone's cartoons isn't really news and the kind of fury that people generally express on both sides of political issues as spurred on by such cartoons tends to make the world a much, much dumber place. However, I did notice that Latuff was recently drawn into a story about strident graffiti in Australia that's been using his name as part of the signage. I was struck by the fact that someone's name could so easily become an act of political protest, even if it's not exactly the most sophisticated kind of statement.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Sword Of Shannara

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posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
One Vote For The FBoFW New-Runs

One writer who apparently expressed doubts about the sort-of ended, sort-of not state of Lynn Johnston's For Better Or For Worse pops up with an article at the year later point endorsing the new comic strips. I can't say that I'm as enthused about the new-old material, and find myself skipping it more often than not, but satisfying a certain kind of devoted fan should keep the strip alive for as long as Johnston would like for it to stay alive. Also, this means that it's been a full-year since the conclusion of what seemed like a three-year run of endless For Better Or For Worse stories, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
 
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If I Were In Lancaster, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Fan Expo Canada '09 Gallery

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various panel recordings here, official PR here
 
posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Tom McAlister's Comics Resume

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Nine To Fivers

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A 1959 Comics Page

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Russ Burlingame at Blog@Newsarama notes a couple of new first series volumes priced at $10 and wonders out loud if that's an effective way to encourage people to try that kind of book. I would imagine there's also an argument to be made that were this to become common, an expectation of this kind of pricing would keep people from sampling new comic books.

* not comics: Warren Ellis writes in Wired UK about the Thunderbirds show as Rescue Fiction and the effect that can have on young minds. I think he's right in that I grew up with expectation I could do nothing at all and I'd still be rescued by a bunch of odd-looking people in colorful costumes, one of whom sounded exactly like Casey Kasem.

image* the great Bully points out why it may have taken a few decades for Iron Man to become an A-list Marvel character.

* missed it: a two-part series on kids reading comics at Biff Bam Pop!

* this may be the most amusing panel of anything I've seen all week, and I've seen a ton of great panels this week. It's great to have Richard back posting more frequently.

* not comics: the photo placed halfway through this article made me smile.

image* whoa! 99-cent comics! There is no mechanism on God's green earth by which you could spend a better $3 on comic books this week than what it takes to buy Sinner #3-5 in that sale. Also: Twomorrows sale.

* and yes, I know: sales aren't comics news. They're better than comics news.

* not comics: well, for one thing, they probably didn't call themselves "media workers."

* not comics: I'm too scared to look, let alone listen, but the nice note in my e-mail inbox says the following link will take me to a song called The Death Of Jason Todd.

* finally, back when I was young enough to make manifestos of my own, I sure would have killed for a title like "Declaration Of The New Vague." While you're there, you can delete the stuff off the end of the URL and bookmark the new clearing house/anthology for British small pressers, Solipsistic Pop.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Scott Shaw!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Paul Smith!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks
Artists Tucker Stone Digs

History
Thinking About Texeira
Do You Know This Bit Of The Wire Trivia?

Industry
The Future Of Comics, Maybe

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Ivan Reis
New Yorker: John O'Brien
Newsarama: Brian Azzarello
This Robert Kirkman Interview May Play Unprompted

Not Comics
Boom
Willy Pogany Re-Run
Archie On Health Care
Hello, Amazon: We Hate You
Those Are Fairly Exquisite-Looking
Way Better Than Guy Ritchie's Lobo

Publishing
This Cover Gag Made Me Laugh
Real Should Have A Bigger Audience
More On This Modern World Back To Voice
They're Even Making Comics For Pat Buchanan To Read
That Bertozzi + Students Iraq War Stories Project Is Over

Reviews
Jog: Various
Erik Hinton: Boody!
John Seven: Various
Correy Baldwin: Drop-In
Jared Gardner: Far Arden
Dan Nadel: Asterios Polyp
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Jeet Heer: Book Of Genesis
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Old #1s
Don MacPherson: Razorjack
Lizzy Tembreza: Johnny Hiro
Andy Frisk: Northlanders #20
James Reasoner: West Coat Blues
Stephen Betts: Proper Go Well High
Jeffery Klaehn: Irredeemable Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: Ninja Girls Vol. 1
 

 
Whoa! Neil Gaiman Shelfporn Is Like The 120 Days Of Sodom Of Shelfporn

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via
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
September 3, 2009


Conversational Euro-Comics: Bart Beaty On Lewis Trondheim's Bludzee

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By Bart Beaty

I love the comics of Lewis Trondheim. And I love my iPhone (yes, I'm one of those people). So when I learned that Trondheim would be doing a daily comic strip for the iPhone (and other less awesome brands of smart phones), I signed up with great enthusiasm. While my initial high hopes have not been dashed exactly, I'm starting to suspect that this might be a case of two great things that don't necessarily add much value to each other.

imageBludzee is the name of Trondheim's strip. It is available in 19 languages (you can switch it up in the options menu) and is sold by iTunes for 99 cents per month. By buying September, you get August free so there are already almost five weeks worth of the strip on the phone.

The interface is very basic. Each strip is six panels long and you can either read it by having the phone scroll the strip for you (each panel is given about three seconds reading time) or by doing it yourself. I do it myself. I find the autoplay too slow for the many wordless panels, but when I adjusted to speed it up it was sometimes too fast for the text-heavy panels.

The strips for each month are presented as items hanging from a tree that grows as new days are added. One nice feature is that the app marks the strips that you've read, so it is easy to stop and start without losing your place. When you want new strips, you open the app on your phone and download the work either from a wifi source or over a digital network from your phone provider.

The downloading is the part that has killed my initial enthusiasm. I read the first five weeks at home via wifi on a new 3GS iPhone. Some strips loaded in as little as four or five seconds. Some took between ten and 15. I couldn't determine any differences in the strips that might account for this, so maybe it's random. Regardless, 15 seconds is a long time to wait for a strip that might take three seconds to read. When I downloaded a strip using the 3G option in the park the other day it took much longer. The speed issue is just a killer. Right now the reading experience is far too slow to be enjoyable.

imageAs for the strip itself, it's very nice minor-Trondheim. Bludzee is a kitten living on the 106th floor of an apartment building in a major city. He (or she -- it's not yet clear) communicates to a friend on the outside world by way of the internet, and is, at present, mystified by his surroundings. The best strips are the ones that tread closest to Patrick McDonnell's territory. In mid-August there was a very strange sequence in which aliens came into the house and broke the door. I wasn't sure what to make of this, and wondered if Trondheim had bored of his own premise after only about 20 days. Bludzee has also had some interactions with a neighboring bulldog, which might push it even more into the Mutts area.

It's impossible, really, to judge a daily strip after only a few weeks (unless you're a syndicate editor, I suppose...). Trondheim is one of the best cartoonists of his generation, so I wouldn't bet against this becoming a very good strip someday. Right now it is cute, well-drawn (the September 2nd strip is the first to make use of backgrounds, and I thought it was the most visually interesting) and not really that funny. It's a wry, grin-inducing strip, at best.

The problem is that right now it is hamstrung by the slow delivery. I'm one of those people who can't read Doonesbury at Slate because I find the interface is too slow and it breaks up the reading pace. Sadly, the Doonesbury interface is vastly faster than that of Bludzee. With luck, upgrades will be made to the speed of the app, and Trondheim will get the sort of platform he's clearly hoping for. This is an ambitious undertaking, but given the speed issues I'm not sure it would be worth a second dollar from me in October. At this point, I'd rather wait to see if someone brings it out as a book.

*****

To learn more about Dr. Beaty, or to contact him, try here.

Those interested in buying comics talked about in Bart Beaty's articles might try here or here.

*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* the Danish cartoons have re-emerged as a political football as Dutch authorities have decided to prosecute the Arab European League for a cartoon that suggests that Jewish authorities have inflated the numbers involved in the Holocaust. Needless to say, the fact that the same authorities declined to prosecute Geert Wilders' Muhammad cartoons-including film has not been lost on politicians in the vicinity. And... that's pretty much it. An editorial in The Australian expresses the view that these instances should not be compared.

* a group of high-profile Yale alumni have expressed disappointment in the university press' decision to withhold re-publication of the original Danish Muhammad cartoons from a forthcoming book on the affair.

* a Saudi Arabian group recently renewed its call that Danish newspaper apologize for reproducing the image, and while those papers don't seem to be falling over themselves to comply, it appears some sort of move or response other than a flat "no" may be in the process of being discussed.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: David Bordwell On Archie

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Please Don't Eat The Giveaway

The Copenhagen Post reports that the powder used in a fingerpainting set distributed with the issue of Anders And & Co. (Donald Duck and Co.) #35, distributed the last week in August, is iron-based and toxic if ingested. Over 40,000 copies of the comic were distributed. Unsold issues have been recalled and the publishers is asking those that purchased copies to toss the offending substance.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Am I The Only One That Thinks It's Weird They Haven't Put This On Stage?


 
posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Are The Manga Series That Show Up In Best-Seller Charts Exhausted Titles?

I don't know quite how to use the Nielsen chart compiled by comics business and news analysis site ICv2.com. There's something about yet another book chart that made me shut down when it came to figuring out my expectations for its general accuracy/inaccuracy. I'm not saying I'm ready to start using it, but I'm ready to fake-use it, for sure.

In that spirit, last time I drew attention to this chart on CR I went right to conventional wisdom and assumed that all of the manga represented were late-run manga -- certainly the ones I recognized were. The idea cradled within that viewpoint is that manga will experience an overall further sales decline than projected because the popular series are cycling near their conclusion -- as is the case when many of the hit television shows are in their sixth and seventh years as opposed to their second or third. I was corrected in that there were indeed some early volumes on the list. So I wanted to pull the series that placed on the next chart and list where they are in their series' run to date.

#1 Vampire Knight: Volume 7 of 11
#3/#17 Naruto Vols. 43/45 of 47
#5 Fruits Basket: Volume 23 of 23
#6 Rosario+Vampire: Volume 8 of 10
#7 Black Bird: Volume 1 of 8
#9 Fullmetal Alchemist: Volume 19 of 23
#12 D.Gray-Man: Volume 14 of 18
#13 D.N.Angel: Volume 12 of 13
#16 Otomen: Otomen Volume 3 of 8
#17 Naruto: Volume 43 of 47
#18 Bloody Kiss: Volume 1 of 2

Vampire Knight, D.Gray-Man, Blackbird, D.N.Angel, Otomen and Naruto are listed in their wikipedia entries as ongoing, which brightens the list quite a bit.

So: while this chart doesn't fully support the conventional wisdom view -- although I imagine this entire arena of comics will miss new volumes of perennial sales ass-kicker Fruits Basket -- it's not exactly the market position of three to five years ago, either. I would nudge the exhaustion theory away from the list of things we can assume, but keep it on the page as something to watch. Manga would likely be suffering that much more right now if there were suddenly a big push-away on vampire stuff, but I think as a culture we're on at least our 112th year of that general phenomenon so I'm guessing it doesn't end next week.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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

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Missed It: If I Were In NYC Between Now And 10-11, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Dave Cockrum Pin-Ups

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Go, Look: Villa Of The Vampire

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Go, Look: Izzy And Dizzy

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Go, Look: It!

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* hooray! Marvel is reinvesting in its retailers with a formal support program. Boo! It sounds like it has severe problems.

image* the great Drew Friedman will be a guest of Jerry Lewis at the MDA Telethon this year. Explanation here. This is the best week of comics news ever!

* not exactly comics, but certainly as strange as everything else that's been put out there this week: Jeff Smith meets Wonder Woman. Because the question may flash into your head, Ms. Carter is 58 years old.

* when in doubt, read Killjoy.

* the art appreciator Robert Boyd explores why one Chester Gould strip has an asking price for $175,000 when many others can be had for less than $1000.

* the writer Brigid Alverson takes a longer than average look at the nominees for Best On-Line Comic.

* there's something about this that says "CCI overcrowding solution." Seriously, though, that's a nice thing for the NCS to do and a great experience for the participating NCS members to have.

* it makes sense that there are Naruto stamps, but that doesn't mean it's not weird. (I forget where I got this, sorry.)

* not comics: I think I'm with the terrifying lady on this one.

* this is the first post-release look at the Lewis Trondheim phone comics effort that I can recall seeing.

* the First Second Editor Calista Brill talks about what an editor is, as it's come up.

* finally, Sean Kleefeld digs into the Zuda interface, and it sounds like it's still as screwy as when many of you went there the first day and said, "Um, okay... yeah... hope the good ones come out on paper."
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Flint Henry!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Mort Walker!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Paul Chadwick!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 46th Birthday, Joe Matt!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Ethan Van Sciver!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips' Animal
That Is A Funny Sign
Adrian Tomine Illustrates
Blogger Shocked By Comics Breast Augmentation

History
Mark Evanier's Spider-Man
Chelsea Cain, Comics Writer
I Really Want This Story To Go Away

Interviews/Profiles
PW: Ed Piskor
CBR: James Robinson
Sacramento Bee: Leigh Rubin
Comics Worth Reading: Jamie Rich

Not Comics
Tolkien Estate, New Line Settle
Chris Allen Reviews Angel Of Death
Nice Bunch of Propaganda Posters Re-Run

Publishing
Sneak Peek Of Hate Annual Cover
Jeet Heer Recommends Bookforum
Some Sort of Tokyopop PR Presentation?
Richard Thompson Gives It Away For Free

Reviews
Rob Clough: Various
Andy Frisk: Greek Street #2
Sean T. Collins: Soldier X #1-8
Andy Frisk: Supergirl Annual #1
David Welsh: Astral Project Vol. 4
Richard Bruton: Redeye Magazine #2
Andy Frisk: Green Lantern Corps #39
Avi Weinryb: Green Lantern Corps #39
Greg McElhatton: Lunch Lady And The Cyborg Substitute
Matthew Brady: Plan B: The Haunted Life Of Doctor Anomalous
 

 
September 2, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the cartoonist Tom Tomorrow announced yesterday that This Modern World returns to the Village Voice on I guess today after an extended absence, which is good news for the alt-weekly and for the feature.

image* this post about his process indicates that Jeffrey Brown is working on a sequel to his Cat Getting Out Of A Bag to be called Cat Walks. There are apparently a journal and a postcard set using art from the first book. (via)

* I've noted this in separate posts, but the on-line publication of Will Eisner's PS Magazine and the availability of a book about Eisner's time at the magazine, Paul Fitzgerald's Will Eisner and PS Magazine is certainly worth noting in the publishing news column.

* the cartoonist Tak Toyoshima is taking his Secret Asian Man from a daily back to its original weekly format.

* it took Gary Tyrrell to remind me that Andrew Farago has recently completed his first mega-arc on his webcomic William Bazillion.

* new Blake et Mortimer for Christmas. The North American market is close to being the kind of market where a big property taking aim at a holiday like this is standard news, but it's not quite there. I'm not sure why this would matter to anyone, but the thought did occur to me. (via)

* Joseph Lambert is coming to MOME.

* I fairly powered past this article at PW from late last month about new deals at First Second (Thien Pham, Dave Roman, Lucy Knisley), Villard (Kazu Kibuishi's anthology work) and Scholastic (Kibuishi's solo work), but that doesn't mean you should. One thing that may or may not be interesting to the average cartoonist or comics industry watcher is that they're all agented deals.

* finally, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has word that Cinebook is going to release volumes of XIII in the United States starting in May 2010.

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posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Helping Steve Perry

This is already a couple of weeks old, but Steve Bissette had a piece up a few weeks back on the plight of animation (Thundercats) and comic book writer (Timespirits) Steve Perry. Perry is apparently destitute and suffering from terminal cancer and is in desperate need of postal money orders (he is without a bank account) at Steve Perry, 38046 8th Ave, Zephyrhills, FL 33542. I'm going to send a small amount today and ask the kind-hearted among you out there to consider doing same.

If the money order part is a pain in the butt, I'd be as happy as last time to take anyone's paypal payments (bobosmailATgoDOTcom) and pass that along to Mr. Perry in the way he apparently needs it to be passed along.

This plea and the similar effort to raise money on behalf of John Ostrander's vision problems I think brings renewed clarity to the fact we may be entering into a period of comics people in trouble that could dwarf the already somewhat horrifying era of intermittent calls for such help in which we currently reside. If the men and women for whom comics was still something of a structured middle class entry point have suffered as much as they have, the toll about to be taken from those creators who lived in a more wide-open era of constant financial sacrifice during the ostensibly flush years could be apocalyptic. We can and have to do better.
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Alan Doane's Best Of 00's

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Today Is The Day When The Disney/Marvel Mash-Ups Push Pass News Analysis Pieces

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borrowed with permission from the great J. Chris Campbell

*****

I'm predicting it will be about 2 PM ET when the posting of mash-up characters like "Logald Duckerine" outstrips the number of solid analytical pieces about the impending purchase of Marvel by Disney. I think what we're seeing today is a widespread realization that what we know of the deal itself indicates very little beyond who gets what kind of stock and just how rich Ike Perlmutter is going to be on New Year's Day.

The rest of it, particularly the publishing ramifications, depends on how the deal is to be executed, and analyzing that is a pretty wide-open game right now. You can come to one set of conclusions by looking at one past Disney deal (Pixar), and come to another by using another such deal as your guide (Miramax). You can choose to emphasize the tone of statements made during the Investor call that sounded like Disney will leave Marvel alone, or you can choose to look at the history of Disney as a company that's more than willing to step in if they perceive their people can do it better (Miramax, again) while noting that the hands-off statements are for now aimed at the film side of things. It's pretty much up to you at this point. Even this kind of article isn't unique.

For now I recommend Nikki Finke's coverage of this as a film industry story, which as usual with her work is a lot of fun and tends to be very well-sourced. And what does Stan Lee think?

*****

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from ASM Annual #5 via super-retailer Joe Field
 
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Go, Look: Marc Lizano's Blog

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Like A Giant Alien Spaceship Crash-Landed On Earth, ADV Dismantled

The comics and related business news and analysis site ICv2.com has the most concise article about the dismantling of longtime anime producer ADV and the sale of assets and the transfer of function into various new companies, most of which have been operating in Houston since May. The story apparently broke wide on anime-focused news and information sites yesterday. Many ADV alumni are said to have landed new jobs at those companies, which if I have it right are AEsir Holdings, SXION 23, Valkyrie Media Partners and Seraphim Studios. There are enough people involved including former ADV officers for at least one knowledgeable-seeming commenter to endorse the view that it's more of a corporate restructuring than the establishment of a new set of businesses.

Founded in the early 1990s, headquartered in Houston, and perhaps best known in terms of a content marriage for bringing the Neon Genesis Evangelion property to English-language audiences, ADV was not only one of the pioneers when it came to the translation and distribution of anime, it ran a number of related businesses and enterprises. This includes a manga line that began in 2003 and for a time published such works as Azumanga Daioh (since retrenched at Yen Press) and Cromartie High School.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Name That Hulk Artist

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I spent 10,000 hours with this page when I was a kid.
 
posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Artist Chris Weston Fights Crime

If you're going to rob a bank, don't rob it in front of a comics artist who can whip up an effective likeness and turn it over to the police. Or do do that, I'm not here to give you effective crime advice. (thanks, Matthew Badham)
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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posted 3:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Do I Really Have To Hype Any Comic Book With This Panel In It?

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Mr. Risk

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The He-Lion's Lair

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Kind-Of '70s Comic Books

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's something nice: Scott Stantis makes his Chicago Tribune debut on its front page.

image* the cartoonist Richard Sala tells the story behind the story of his great-looking new comic, Cat Burglar Black.

* there will be none of this once the Disney management team settles in, that's for sure.

* not comics: I take back anything I might have said that indicated otherwise -- journalism as currently practiced is clearly doomed. Every reporting tool shouldn't require a college course.

* the writer Timothy Hodler wants to know the first person to use an all-black panel for the reasons that an all-black panel is generally used, and he's not satisfied with the initial answer he's been given.

* there are any number of titles that superhero comics publishers put out that make me ask this question.

* here's a nice article on webcomics cartoonists going to print and the various reasons they do so.

* the cartoonist Eddie Campbell continues his exploration of Eisner's middle years.

* finally, I was struck by the overly despondent tone in this mini-rant at ICv2.com by longtime retailer Ilan Strasser that links general Marvel and DC policy to a broad set of woes facing several comic retailers right now. I've long believed that DC and Marvel have goals that compete with the aim of long-term, steady growth in the market. I've more recently been flabbergasted by the timing of the move to $3.99 comics without a corresponding big-picture strategy beyond vague affirmations that the market can handle it, assertions that the last five years of success provided by crossovers and event comics will continue, allusions to the fact that a drop in movie and licensing revenues for a certain period of time between Iron Man movies made this inevitable and the occasional apologetic publishing strategy like adding some (mostly) superfluous back-material. That's such a valuable market to those publishers in terms of monetizing a devoted but ultimately modestly-sized group of fans and assuming the risk for doing so that I wonder after putting all that extra strain on it.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 63rd Birthday, Walt Simonson!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Brett Warnock!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Eric Knisley!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Evan Dorkin In Northampton

History
Multi-Part Anime/Manga Documentary
I'm Glad I Stopped Reading Comics At One Point

Industry
Win X-Men: Misfits
Those Phone Things Will Kill The DM

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jason Aaron
Comixology: Kaz Strzepek
Newsarama: Steve Wacker
Wall Street Journal: Jeff Lemire

Not Comics
Ugh
I Call Them Movics
Book Publishing Is Still Gross
Obvious Jokes Still Make Me Laugh

Publishing
Ball Peen Hammer Previewed
Paul Pope Work In Strange Tales Previewed

Reviews
Andy Frisk: Greek Street #2
Paul Buhle: You'll Never Know
Sabrina Fritz: Psyche and Eros
Dustin Harbin: Gus And His Gang
Leroy Douresseaux: Nana Vol. 18
Nina Stone: Wednesday Comics #8
Paul Constant: The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book
Leroy Douresseaux: The Life And Times Of Savior 28 #1
Beth Davies-Stofka: Alan Moore's Light Of Thy Countenance
 

 
September 1, 2009


This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely 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 tomorrow I would more than likely pick the following books up and give 'em the squinty-eyed once-over.

*****

JAN090074 ACHEWOOD HC VOL 02 WORST SONG PLAYED $14.95
Is Achewood a top five iconic strip of the 00's? There's certainly been nothing like it in decades previous.

JUL090581 STRANGE TALES #1 (OF 3) (MR) $4.99
This is Marvel's parade of alt-comics talent doing their characters. If squinting hard helps you ignore the last 30 years of Marvel acting like a giant corporation, you can pretend this is a last hurrah for Marvel doing things that aren't stuffy and/or square and/or Wonder Man and the Beast singing "Hakuna Matata" or whatever. Seriously, though: a lot of great cartoonists here.

JUL091143 STITCHES HC $24.95
This year, the role of book publishing out-of-nowhere comics volume that many comics fan anticipate but still regard with some skepticism, a part that originated with Shaun Tan and The Arrival, will be played by this fine-looking tome.

MAY090310 NOCTURNALS HC VOL 02 DARK FOREVER AND OTHER TALES REG ED $34.99
These are always kind of cool-looking, but I have no idea what's going on.

JUL090578 STARR THE SLAYER #1 (OF 4) (MR) $3.99
When I was a kid and we used to drive down by car to Indianapolis to visit Comic Carnival's Carrollton Avenue location (and the nearby Game Preserve), one of the things we'd always see when we were there were a bunch of Richard Corben overground comics. This looks kind of close to that, and I doubt there's as much random dongage.

JAN090275 ABSOLUTE V FOR VENDETTA HC (MR) $99.99
I only have one DC absolute edition, the one for New Frontier, and it's really nice-looking. I assume this one will be, too. Good comic.

JUL090279 SWEET TOOTH #1 (MR) $1.00
One of the reasons I liked shopping at Halley's Comics in Chicago when I was in grad school is that Sung Koo would sometimes give me a free copy of a #1 issue to try out. I remember getting the first issue of Sandman Mystery Theatre that way, for instance. DC's program of $1 first issues seems close to that for me, and I hope this Jeff Lemire effort benefits.

JUL090220 SOLOMON GRUNDY #7 (OF 7) (BLACKEST NIGHT) $2.99
Grundymania grinds to a halt. Comics retail can breathe easy until the next Red Tornado miniseries.

JUL090157 WEDNESDAY COMICS #9 (OF 12) $3.99
JUL090016 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #28 CHEN CVR $2.99
JUL090513 AGENTS OF ATLAS #10 $2.99
JUL090509 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #17 $2.99
Your generally well-regarded mainstream serial comics titles of the week. It's amazing that Buffy is already up to #28, but I usually drifted off during that portion of the television seasons, too.

*****

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 so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

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, 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. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, it's because I was distracted by the start of the college football season. Go Generals.

*****

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posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not A Dream, Not An Imaginary Story

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borrowed with permission from the great J. Chris Campbell

*****

As of 8 AM today, Disney apparently still plans to go through with a $4 billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment and its library of characters by the end of this year. This morning's the initial editorial/analysis wave:
* Aarthi Sivaraman at Reuters
* Heidi MacDonald at The Beat
* Marc Bernardin at Entertainment Weekly
* John Madden at Wired
* Patrick Goldstein, LA Times
* Paul Constant at Slog
* RJ Carter at The Trades
* Sean Kleefeld at Kleefeld On Comics
* Zach Lowe On The Lawyers Involved
To which many more shall be added throughout the day, I'm certain. As you'll see if you dive into the above articles -- or look at the top of this post -- it's also "mash-up between Disney and Marvel characters" day, most involving those Mickey Mouse ears, but there's only one of those you need to see. There's also the "Somebody, perhaps even myself, told you this would happen" series of posts, of which I like Sean Kleefeld's best.

Today should shift into the "open speculation about things like publishing and book distribution, not just by people in comments threads" phase by noon.

*****

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from ASM Annual #5 via super-retailer Joe Field
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Ben Schwartz On Marvel/Disney Deal

The writer Ben Schwartz, who has experience writing about multiple entertainment fields, sent me the following letter with a few thoughts about the impending purchase of Marvel by Disney. I thought it interesting enough to publish in the main body of the blog rather than in the letters section, although in doing so I ask you to cut Mr. Schwartz the slack of his intending this as a letter rather than as a formal editorial. Although, as always, he writes very well.

Disney/Marvel
By Ben Schwartz

Some thoughts on the Disney/Marvel deal. You asked about Disney deals that didn't go so well. My first thought: Miramax. In that, Disney absorbed the Oscar-bait studio of the Weinstein Brothers. One aspect of their problems with Disney, and vice versa, is that Disney is very sensitive to putting out material that draws boycott action from advocacy groups. That is, when someone wants something from Disney, they will look at Marvel material (let's say, a violent Wolverine comic with some gore) to paste on the news and say, "Disney sells this to kids." Pixar doesn't create a problem that way, but the pregnant Mrs. Hobgoblin in a recent Spider-Man arc might. Marvel's "out" gay characters might? These are inviting targets for the kinds of creepy protests Disney gets, such as the religious boycotts they've gotten in the past over imagined perverse drawings in their animated films. I'd like add, I think those particular protests were from loons or opportunists, but you see my point? One reason Michael Ovitz left Disney was his pushing Scorsese's film Kundun, a film about occupied Tibet, which infuriated the Chinese government on its release as Disney hoped to broker big deals in China. One reason Miramax's Weinstein brothers left Disney was over Disney's refusal in an election year to release Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Creative autonomy was clearly an issue, as the NY Times reported.

You wrote:
"The publishing stuff is only a little ominous, although the general notion that Disney isn't going to second-guess Marvel where they have expertise would indicate that the comics side of things stands a good chance of being left alone -- except perhaps in terms of a wider platform for book distribution."
imageHah! Ominous because they will leave publishing alone or because they won't? Look, Marvel didn't just get bought up by a subsidiary of General Dynamics. Disney is a creative company, and superhero books in general could use a shake up. No loss, in my opinion, if they did get involved. Marvel's line has been a angry version of Weisinger-era Jimmy Olsen concepts lately (suddenly, everyone's a zombie; suddenly, everyone that was bad is good and was good is bad ...). After all these-post Miller/Moore years of "dark" and "edgy," ie, angry and adolescent, maybe Marvel moving towards pop light isn't a bad idea. The pop-culture Kirby/Lee/Ditko-era was Marvel's creative peak, while 2009 is its financial peak from movies, TV, etc, (but not in comics). They need something.

From the conference call:
"The Marvel brand and its characters are somewhat like the Disney brand and its characters. Not only is there growth for Marvel as Marvel, but Disney opportunities for Marvel -- the parks, the TV channels. The goal is not to rebrand Marvel as Marvel/Disney, but to grow it as Marvel."
Yes, this is where I think things will get interesting. The Spectacular Spider-Man animated show is better than the comics. The X-Men and Spider-Man movies are, too. As I mentioned above, the guys running the comics division live in the past and their sales are mediocre. The people making the comics into movies are the ones connecting to the public in a big way, that's actually made Marvel fun for me again. Does anyone still buy the idea that the comics are where new concepts are generated that get turned into movie and television? The newest idea in comics-to-movies is the Claremont/Byrne X-Men vibe of the early '80s in the X-Men movies.

Over the years, many, many people have complained about Disney for lots of reasons. I know a number of parents who don't want their kids exposed to the Disney version of favorite fairy tales and books. I get that, and understand why. On the other hand, I can't think of a company that would benefit right now from that more than Marvel. Overall, I see the deal as a plus for both companies.
 
posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Kodansha Severing All Business, Licensing Ties With Tokyopop

As usual, Simon Jones has what seems to be a perceptive take on yesterday's huge story about Asian publishing giant Kodansha ending its licensing arrangements with Tokyopop, arguing that the lack of explanation cited by the North American (mostly) translated manga company may just be a form of politeness after an extended period of frustration with how the titles were executed into the western bookstore markets.

imageSomething Jones seems that much more certain about is that the interruption of several series mid-run is a generally bad thing, particularly when it's not the result of massive and unavoidable financial turmoil. David Welsh has a list of titles that may feel the impact of the move, while Deb Aoki breaks things down into series that are now interrupted, series that have already been picked up and replanted elsewhere, and series that are now simply out of print. That interrupted series list includes a number of "name" manga series such as Shuichi Shigeno's Initial D. Nearly every major commentator on manga weighed in, such as Katherine Dacey and Alex Hoffman.

I think there are three basic issues to track here. The first is what exactly this ends up doing to Tokyopop, which I think maybe no one talked about out loud right away upon yesterday's news out of a sort of respect for having just watching someone get hit in the stomach by a small truck. There is some analysis and information today, however. This interview with Tokyopop Marketing Manager Kasia Piekarz seem a perfect encapsulation of the "they'll make it through" argument: they'd been expecting this for a while now, they'd shifted emphasis to the properties, they only regret losing some of the licenses that were near completion because that's bad for the fans, and so on. Other arguments supporting this point of view is the observation that some longstanding Tokyopop licenses had slipped to other publishers already -- such as those getting the omnibus treatment from Dark Horse -- the qualification that recent license announcement from the publisher had mostly avoided Kodansha material, and an argument that some of the series seemed on hiatus long before this Kodansha-enforced hiatus.

Of the two other issues, the second is whether this has consequences in terms of Kodansha entering the English-language-translated manga market itself, and to what degree it has an impact -- I mean, I assume it would have some impact for obvious reasons, but if all of its other licensing relationships remain intact and it looks like they will, that's something different than all of the licenses being assembled. (Also: they have a distributor.) The third, and I wonder if this will be discussed in something more than oblique terms, but as Simon Jones suggests, series ending or even being delayed midstream might be a potentially troubling thing for the manga market generally, as might a switch in publishers if certain consumer habits are locked in. It's not the super-healthiest expression of comics, if only according to the ridiculously high standards of its recent, best successes, and I think these kind of general moves have a bigger impact than many people think particularly among those that don't follow the Inside Baseball aspects of an entertainment industry.

thanks to David Welsh for answering a couple of e-mailed questions
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Chris Onstad In Vice

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Zunar May Face Charges For Gedung Kartun Publication; Calls For Abolishment of 1984 Publishing Act

Here's a small update on a news story from last week about the raid on a publisher in Malaysia and the seizure of the debut issue of its satirical cartoon magazine Gedung Kartun in the form of an editorial from the primary cartoonist involved, Zunar. Zunar refers to a statement made by a government official late last week that his company, Sepakat Efektif Sdn Bhd, may be charged for publishing material without a license. He refutes that statement, declaring that they were issued a permit number although not the physical license, asks for clarification over that permit number issuance if it's coming back to haunt him in this way, and suggests that the law involved is draconian unto itself and being utilized here in counter-logical fashion. Critics of the raid and seizure have suggested that content, including cartoons critical of the Prime Minister, is really at the heart of this matter.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Introducing Pigpen

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posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Scream 2009 Comics Nominees

image* Green Lantern
* Hack/Slash
* Kick-Ass
* Thor
* The Walking Dead
* Wolverine: Old Man Logan

This is a list of comic book category nominees in something called Scream 2009, which is apparently an awards program run by Spike TV to honor media that involve people punching, stabbing and scaring one another. They're in their fourth year. I included them here this morning because I wanted to remind myself that it's kind of fun to see a restrictive view of the comics world by someone coming in with a restrictive view rather than the occasional list like this one that comes from comics people representing all of comics. Plus I find Mark Millar's work more interesting when it doesn't quite hit with its intended audience as opposed to when it does, and you have two great examples here.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Astsushi Kaneko Soil Pages

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this was just sitting in my bookmarks, meaning someone likely had it first
 
posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: EmiTown

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dan Hastings

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Ferdinand The Bull

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you know yesterday was weird when DC could put up pages from the long-awaited Planetary #27 and no one noticed.

image* the cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley has a nice post up here about a sequence from Mochiru Hoshisato's Living Game.

* calling Scott Dunbier... so is it going to be "Dreck" or "Drock"?

* remember that odd DC Comics ad that featured the head of Supergirl cropped out of the image in favor of her breasts and midriff being placed front and center in the sight line of not only the reader but a group of DC's creepily over-fit, slightly assholish, 40-something male superheroes? Remember that some people thought it was just cropped that way for the purposes of the ad? It's okay if you don't. Anyway, it turns out that that's the way it's supposed to look. Plus: the character from my summer toothbrush when I was eight years old apparently endorses torture.

* finally, I have at best a very rough idea what Daryl Cagle's getting at in this blog post and cartoon, but the end result is either genuinely funny or he's-a-jerk funny and the nutso comments are choice as well.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 83rd Birthday, Gene Colan!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Landry Walker!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 29th Birthday, Brendan McGinley!

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posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks
Dan Zettwoch Sketches

Exhibits/Events
Amulet 2 Signing Report
On Mark Millar In Edinburgh
Go See Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson
Speed Bump Celebrates 15th With Exhibit

History
Jeff Lemire Favorite Apocalyptic Comics

Interviews/Profiles
Collected Comics Library: Steve Saffel

Not Comics
Brian Hibbs Recommends A Hospital
Summer Ends Quietly For Brett Warnock

Publishing
Alan David Doane Has A Free E-Book Out
Liveblogging The August 2009 Previews 01

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Chris Allen: Old Man Winter
Sarah Boslaugh: Strongman
Greg McElhatton: Angel #24
Koppy McFad: Flash: Rebirth #4
Sean T. Collins: Flash: Rebirth #4
Koppy McFad: Wonder Woman #35
Vanja: The War That Time Forgot #1-12
Richard Bruton: Little Mouse Gets Ready
J. Caleb Mozzocco: The Story of Honk-Honk-Ashoo & Swella-Bow-Wow
 

 
Let's End The Day With Something Not Marvel/Disney On Top Of CR Briefings


via
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Disney to Acquire Marvel Entertainment

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from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 via the prominent comics retailer Joe Field, who suggested I borrow it. Thanks, Joe. His analysis is through the link in the picture.

*****

That's a hell of a thing to wake up to on a Monday morning.

My first reaction ten seconds after reading the first article is that a lot of money is going to exchange hands and the major Marvel stockholders just went from making Richie Rich's allowance to Uncle Scrooge's end of year bonus.

My second reaction is that for Disney stockholders to receive the same, this deal is going to have to work over at least a moderate period of time.

My third reaction is that the symbolism of everything they hold dear in terms of childhood-resonant stuff that has defined their lives is going to make many old-timey comics/Disney fans' brains explode.

My fourth is wondering if this is a gag because I'm really, really tired this morning. (It's not.)

My fifth is to try and recall and mostly fail in terms of how things worked out in similar deals in the past, like with the muppets -- I think most of their deals have been beneficial, but certainly they've made more money with something like the Pixar people than the Studio Ghibli people, so there has to be some sort of hierarchy and this deal is probably different anyway.

My sixth is assuming publishing remains its own man after the move from penthouse to theme park, but the fact I'm even thinking out loud about that is kind of scary -- something more likely than Disney stepping anywhere near the comics side of things is that there will be an effect in the book business, because Disney has to have better bookstore reach that Marvel's famous T-Rex style attempts to grab onto a chunk of that business in a way that matches their comics market dominance. It's fair to ask whether this will really change all that much in the comics market, as I think the answer is "maybe" and then a lot of talk about structural issues and general initiatives.

My seventh is that this basically provides a shot in the arm to Disney's film-making efforts outside of Pixar, while Marvel gets a better international framework for marketing and distributing licensed work. They would also benefit from a steady television platform with Disney's TV holdings being what they are, something Marvel hasn't really enjoyed yet.

My eighth is wondering if the pro-Marvel people at Motley Fool, so many Stevie Janowskis to Marvel's Kenny Powers, might have physically exploded (actually not; they regret losing Marvel's huge upside stand-alone stock).

My ninth is wow.

*****

The Conference Call: The Walt Disney Company's Agreement to Acquire Marvel Entertainment

I'm going to try and blog this through a provided special audio player that popped up as I randomly clicked on buttons in the initial press feature like a crazy person, although I'm not always sure how this kind of stuff works. The Kitaro-like music before the show begins is making me all Garfield and whatnot this still-early morning.

Wait, now it's turned into generic TV hosting music. I'm expecting Lorne Greene's voice. Or Roy Disney. Or The Watcher. No, it was a lady's. She's thanking me for my patience. She's the operator.

* 10:15 ET
Okay, we're definitely a minute or two past the expected start. My computer clock could be wrong, too. I just hope it eventually comes on. Man, the music finished. That's creepy. Wait for it... nope, new music. Do I have to type in a code or something? I'm confused.

* 10:20 ET
Okay, now it starts. We're being welcomed by the same voice in a little speech that seems geared towards the people that have called in -- mostly investor-type company representatives.

We're thanked by a Mr. Lowell Singer?? [that's it -- he's their investor relations guy] for joining him on short notice.

The news is an hour old as of right now. Bob Iger is there. Marvel people are in New York. Tom something, the CFO [Tom Staggs]. Marvel's board chairman [Morton Handel], cfo [Staggs] and lead counsel [John Turitzin, maybe?] are all there. I'll have to fill in the names later.

Bob Iger speaks first. He describes it as a stock and cash transaction to be completed by the end of the calendar year. He says it will help Disney increase its international profile and provide cross-platform opportunities to these characters. He now praises the brand-building effort. He cites Iron Man, Spider-Man and X-Men in that order -- and then cites Iron Man again as an achievement because it was not a well-known property.

He implies that they're even more valuable because of all the choices out there, as if they're one of the better prizes remaining.

He cites Disney's reach.

He compares this to the Pixar acquisition. The three basic goals apply. 1) Advance our overall revenue-generating strategy. 2) Expand Business reach. 3) Increase our profit to shareholders.

* 10:25 ET

Marvel chairman Morton Handel. I should probably know this name without looking it up.

Ha! He said he was with Bob and Tom. This is only funny if you grew up near Indianapolis, although I guess they're syndicated now.

Handel talks about their brand-building efforts, and how they're modeled on Disney's (which is true in a spiritual sense, anyway), and how Disney leads the way in terms of a company taking the next step.

Another speaker -- one of the Disney guys. He talks about Marvel in terms of assessing its value, very broad language. Synergy points: licensing sales and marketing infrastructure, particularly internationally. Third-party agreements were examined, display Marvel's value, and will be brought in where they will then be reconsidered.

Talks about the library of characters. Many not well known.

Marvel shareholders will get $30 in cash and a certain number of shares according to last Friday's close, $50 per share in value for $4 billion total. He announces that Disney will repurchase shares to get the value back up. He then strings together a bunch of broad financial terms that makes part of my brain die. It doesn't sound like a bad deal, though, and certainly it's Christmas for the major Marvel stockholders.

* 10:30 ET

The operator is going to Q&A.

It's a financial question in two parts, and I can barely make out the speaker's voice. And I'm in no way going to be able to track with Disney/Marvel executive is speaking -- sorry about that.

One of the Disney executive answers says it's a deal not driven by the financial benefits in terms of stock or those kinds of things. They anticipate a straight-forward accounting process. He cites synergies over time and an enhanced growth rate.

DVD Market -- they're encouraged by the trends they're seeing, although that market is changing beyond the general world economic changes. No matter those changes, people are interested in high-quality product, and this tends to mirror US box office. Part of their analysis was concerns of this marketplace, but the attraction of the brand plays a part. He says, "they're not bulletproof, they're not immune from the changes we're seeing," but he thinks they may function as a hedge against this.

Question: Does this deal have any impact on deals with other studios?

Answer: Deals that Marvel have been put in place will generally stay in effect -- he's complimentary of those deals.

Question: Specific examples of revenue-driven synergies? Why is 2012 the first positive year? Is it because of release schedules for Iron Man and Spider-Man movies?

Answer: Cites that Disney will build Marvel over time -- what's gone on before will continue and be enhanced. The timing of film releases has an effect on Marvel's businesses, and that's how they set their expectations. He can't quantify the synergies, but the marriage of Marvel content and Disney infrastructure should be a fruitful wedding.

Question: What about the rest of the library?

Answer: They'll dive into the library now.

Answer: Praise for Marvel's handling of entire library. Again, they're delighted by Iron Man's hit status. They don't pretend to be smarter than Marvel when it comes to this. Part of attraction of deal is the current decision-making framework for these characters, and they will rely on them to continue.

* 10:35 ET

Continued Answers: Notes that with licensing arrangements, they can continue to be attractive, but working within a one-company network removes a lot of friction and they see Marvel mirroring Pixar in this regard. "Nothing better than being one."

Question: Can you give a bit more specifically where you see the opportunities? Video games? Television? Also, what about the International side of this deal appeals?

Answer: Disney right now is running 20 hours a week of Marvel-related programming on one of its cable channels directed towards boy. Disney XD? They see this as an aid for boosting that channel internationally. That kind of reach gives them the ability to expose these characters all over the world, which Marvel could only do before in partnership with third parties. Programming serves watchers, but also serves Marvel.

On the videogame front, they like their licensing agreements -- while Disney is moving in a vertically integrated direction, they don't rule out a blend including licensed games. As these deals get near expiration, they can be re-evaluated.

* 10:40 ET

A little less than 50 percent of its licensing revenue comes from international; Disney is over 50 percent. So that's an opportunity over time.

Question: An obvious synergy area is distribution -- can you confirm self-distribution? How long would that take? Will Marvel's movies go 3-D like Disney's?

Answer: The 3-D is up to the movie producers -- again, Iron Man is cited. Regarding Marvel's current deal with Paramount -- Disney will respect that as the right thing to do and the right thing legally. Over time, it will probably be more attractive for Disney to be the sole distributor -- it reduces costs, and they'll be more aligned with Marvel even beyond the financial motive that Paramount has.

Question: Pixar and Marvel... cross-pollination?

Answer: John Lasseter met with Marvel executives fairly recently. They got pretty excited pretty fast -- they told them to slow down. There's definitely opportunity -- probably not co-branding, but talents and enthusiasms working together on all the different opportunities. Put a bunch of people like that in a room, and sparks will fly.

* 10:45 ET

Question: Bad Bug's Life/Spider-Man joke. Consumer products question. Do you think Disney's leverage with retail distributors will help Marvel-related products? Second question -- movies that aren't in production yet, which management teams will produce those films?

Answer: That kind of synergy is one of those things that people are excited about. On the studio front, they believe in their studio people but also think that Marvel knows their stuff. In their research, they're continuing to be impressed. Creative and business perspective. "Smartly, diligently, and carefully." If it ain't broke... good group of people.

Another person steps in: They don't have direct relationship in certain markets... Disney sure has that infrastructure in place. There's an opportunity to more broadly expose and develop these companies.

Question: Which companies come to mind?

Answer: They have relationships with some but not all of them -- they're at a lesser point than Disney in this regard.

Question: Share repurchase activity -- have you come out of the market and oh my god I have no idea what he's talking about. He asks to be walked through 2010. When do Sony, Fox and Paramount agreements retire?

* 10:50 ET

Answer: On amortization, generally speaking during an acquisition that will be spread out amongst the various efforts? As the conversations became more serious, they paused for some reason. On the current arrangements, they don't want to go into detail -- 1) the deal hasn't closed yet, 2) they expect to keep many deals alive past then, 3) paramount deal is five more pictures approximately.

Question: First, was there a competing bid? Second, will Marvel Films operate separately?

Answer: The deal came about because of mutual admiration. Bob Iger reached out to Ike Perlmutter a few months ago. They see each other as complimentary to what the other does. As to the second, they believe in the creative team and they don't see upsetting that apple cart.

Answer: They haven't looked at the real estate questions, but they don't anticipate moving the studio from Manhattan Beach.

Question: In Disney's fiscal 2010, they'll only have 1Q of Iron Man 2, and then they won't have a ton of profit from Thor and Captain America because of release dates.

Answer: They've counted on that.

Question: Are there benefits for Disney in the comic book marketplace?

Answer: We have a robust children's publishing business. They have a successful comic book business. They will look to broaden both companies' presence in publishing. There are possibilities there.

* 10:55 ET

Question: Praise for secrecy. Does it mark a shift away from Disney-branded deals (for Bob)? Second, there are differences from Pixar in terms of public valuation -- how do you figure the differences?

Answer (Bob): Focusing a lot on Disney because returns have been compelling vs. non-Disney branded business. But this has made them appreciate brands in general in increasingly competitive world marketplace. The Marvel brand and its characters are somewhat like the Disney brand and its characters. Not only is there growth for Marvel as Marvel, but Disney opportunities for Marvel -- the parks, the TV channels. The goal is not to rebrand Marvel as Marvel/Disney, but to grow it as Marvel.

Answer (Tom): Sometimes you can't avoid paying premium prices. They're in a strong position -- they didn't have to do this deal and neither did we. But it was beneficial. Premium company, premium assets = a full and fair price. They're confident that the benefits will create value for shareholders. Win/win.

Question: More value in relation to peak valuations or overall?

Answer: He wouldn't try to compare one deal to another like that. Pixar he thought was worth more as part of Disney and made Disney more valueable, so it will be with Marvel.

* 11:00 ET

Final Question: First, the film financing deal is collateralized by intellectual property -- how has that been impacted? Second, there's probably no company that Disney couldn't enhance -- why Marvel? What drove this particular deal? When did this become an imperative and what need does it fulfill.

Answer: It never became an imperative. We don't have any problematic/strategic holes. Nothing suggested a must-do. It's a great opportunity for both companies. A company we admire, we saw growing, that we were impressed with from a people perspective. The time is right and you move with alacrity so that's what we did. A continued desire to look for great stuff and great people and both old and new distribution forms. It's just awesome all around! Global growth is better served by bringing Marvel into the fold. Executive talent. Creative talent. Check.

Answer: As Bob mentioned, they'll respect the terms of the agreement. They won't answer questions about that deal's specifics. They reviewed it; it wasn't a big factor in their decision-making. That wasn't a concern for itself.

Thanks again, some odd legal language I don't understand, and then they all sing a Marvel Marching Society Song/Mickey Mouse Club theme mash-up. Okay, that part didn't happen.

*****

My Instant Analysis Of The Call And General Thoughts Around Noon ET

I thought there were a few interesting things here. Boy, Disney sure liked Iron Man. We now live in a world where the lingering echoes of Robert Downey's charm can drive billion-dollar entertainment deals.

More generally, it's clear that they see this as a marriage of a strong brand and pretty strong properties with licensing and platform opportunities, and I see it that way, too. Who wouldn't? I think given the compelling example that Disney folks used that Marvel content could be a boon to its boys-focused cable television network, both domestically and internationally, I'm not sure I believe them when they say that Marvel doesn't really fulfill a need within the larger Disney infrastructure for a certain kind of brand. Why not say it fills a boy need? I don't know. That just doesn't seem logical to me, although I can imagine Disney never admits needing anything, even a little bit.

The boy need thing is going to be the first shared point of analysis coming out of this thing, I bet.

It's hard not to think of Disney's attempts to resuscitate the muppets in the light of this deal, especially when they talk about how happy they are to be working with people that know their own brand and have done a good job of managing it. I get the sense that the muppet purchase did not come with an Iron Man-style recent success they could point to. It's also worth looking at how many areas Disney has explored with the muppets in terms of the reach they have that Marvel simply doesn't.

The publishing stuff is only a little ominous, although the general notion that Disney isn't going to second-guess Marvel where they have expertise would indicate that the comics side of things stands a good chance of being left alone -- except perhaps in terms of a wider platform for book distribution. Disney's big book arms moved to HarperCollins from Hachette in 2007 as I recall; Marvel is I believe currently working with Diamond in the book market and people make fun of Marvel's book program a lot, even though there are isolated mega-successes.

Okay, the more I think about it, that's the comics industry question: Diamond.

Apropos of nothing, but it's that kind of morning: doesn't Disney seem like a pretty good long-term partner in developing Thor? Is Generation X going to walk their grandchildren into Asgard past an animatronic Heimdall on a decent-looking Rainbow Bridge? A Warriors Three cartoon show on one of the cable networks? I know the first impulse is to say business as usual, because it's going to be business as usual, but one wonders if there aren't some properties that potentially fare better with Disney's wider reach and number of platforms.

That said, I totally gaped just now on the phone when asked to think of a Marvel property that's not in active development that seems like a perfect Disney property. I'm not sure that's important -- which Pixar property is a perfect Disney property? -- but you'd think one would come to mind. Millie the Model?

In a historical sense, I'm reminded of Marvel's many other corporate owners, the attempts to make a mini-Disney of Marvel in the early to middle 1990s without doing movies first which in part drove the company's overreach and bankruptcy, and the fact that every entertainment company of Marvel's generation looked up to Disney as the model, so it's sort of like hearing about an unlikely romance from your high school days being consummated via marriage.

John Jackson Miller has history on the mind as well, and even includes one of those Perelman quotes about being a mini-Disney.

Also, you can pretty much find this call for yourself through this post's first link, and I encourage you to do so. This was more about wrapping my own head around the deal, although I'm grateful for your company!

*****

Linkarama
* Associated Press
* Disney's PR at their Investors Page
* MarketWatch
* Motley Fool
* New York Times
* Reuters
* Variety
* Wall Street Journal
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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