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
















April 1, 2010


Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me Phoebe Gloeckner Was Joining The X-Men?

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you tell me
 
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March 31, 2010


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the writer Warren Ellis caught word of a new serial from Image by David Hine and Shaky Kane: The Bulletproof Coffin. The first issue is due in June.

* slipping out a month earlier is the first issue of something called 7 Psychopaths, noteworthy for featuring art from the prolific Sean Phillips, an artist I wouldn't think had the time for another series.

image* Roger Langridge has put together a self-published, slightly cleaned up version of his Doctor Sputnik comics for sale at conventions. As much as the last ten years have been rough on some of my favorite forms of commercial projects, it's been great to limited-edition gems.

* after a pair of unfortunate co-publishing relationships, Humanoids will apparently strike out on their own. That makes sense to me because if you're putting work into circulation that probably won't sell, you might as well do it on your own. I'm also all for it because I'll be buying a lot of this stuff because it's at least pretty good.

* the writer Mark Millar will apparently guest-edit the re-launched Wizard. I enjoy Millar and have enjoyed Wizard in the past, but the marriage of the two in this particular project makes little conventional sense. First, Millar doesn't seem to have, at least on the surface of things, sensibilities that diverge from or clash with a standard issue of Wizard. Providing a contrast to standard issues is the basis on which most publications do guest-edited issues. The second is that unless the re-launch is going to feature nothing but guest-edited issues it makes little sense to make your re-launch debut one. Still, I think the magazine could probably use a re-fashioning to better reflect its current strategies and approach: I may not see it, as they stopped carrying it in my town about six months ago.

* Drawn and Quarterly shows off its 2010 plans for the Moomin characters. Yes, please.

* Vanguard announces new Neal Adams and Frank Frazetta books.

* the slightly disturbing married Archie Andrews comics effort will be published in magazine form instead of comic book form to better find its potential mainstream-type audience. O-kay. I've been trying to find a way to get excited about that thing in a pop-culture observer way. At one point, I had half-talked myself into the fact that how they portray Archie as a functioning adult might be interesting because he's one of comics' great blank slates. I wasn't able to maintain that feeling for very long.

* the cartoonist Jon Adams wrote in to say that his comic Friendship Town is appearing every Thursday in 96 Hours, the weekend entertainment supplement of the San Francisco Chronicle. Damned if I could find mention of it on his site, though, or a link to where the Chronicle might be putting it.

* I don't think I ever paid attention to the fact that Top Shelf is doing two books with Jess Fink, including that naughty robot thing. Although maybe I did. It can't hurt to say it twice, though, right?

* otbp: Joe Chiappetta has apparently created a prose science fiction novel.

* Archaia has announced a Mouse Guard anthology mini-series.

* not comics: I've heard through the grapevine that Tim Kreider of The Pain and TCJ.com has sold a book of his prose pieces to an established publisher for the kind of money that sounds like what adults makes for doing stuff. Kreider is a kick-ass writer, and I look forward to his book.

* finally, Drawn and Quarterly reveals the cover to its forthcoming collection of Vanessa Davis' comics.

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Go, Look: Barbarian Comic

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Nadel Announces Fumetto Kirby Exhibit

imageDan Nadel formally announces today the not-a-secret that he and Paul Gravett have teamed up to curate a Jack Kirby exhibit in Fumetto. Not only is this two of the most interesting minds on comics teaming up to present one of the half-dozen greatest American cartoonists at what always sounds to me like the ideal convention, European model division (an exhibits-focused show spread out in a town that happens to look like this), but according to today's post it's the first major Kirby show in Europe and Nadel's description of what they have planned sounds like a knockout.

that's a Kirby image, not Nadel
 
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Go, Look: GB Shaw Makes A Joke

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* the idea popular in India and in western conservative circles that Mickey Mouse Plot co-conspirator and Mumbai Massacre advance scout David Coleman Headley is an American intelligence operative remains and perhaps has intensified since Headley's guilty plea. Here's a typical article. I suppose it's possible, although the articles I've read so far sound to me like parents trying to rattle their teenager into a confession by tossing out ideas more than journalists putting two and two together.

* there's a bunch of stuff up today on a Chicago cab driver named Raja Lahrasib Khan accused of funneling money to al-Qaida operatives. There's nothing that links this man to David Coleman Headley or Tahawwur Hussain Rana except that they happened to have the same contact, Ilyas Kashmiri.

* here's an aspect to the original Danish Cartoons Controvery that I hadn't hear of before, one reason being that it's totally minor and off the beaten track: how to respond caused a split between popular Islamic televangelists.
 
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Go, Look: Junkwaffel #5

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Kudos To Renee French On Two Years Updating Her Art Blog

imageThe great Renee French hit the two year mark yesterday in posting art to her site. I almost never see French's site listed as one of the cartoonist go-tos, although the art published there is an experience that's close to a lot of what we get out of her comics-making. The fact that the frequently sublime The Ticking made about zero best of decade lists makes me think that French is either still undervalued generally or y'all use too many superlatives when you write comics reviews. At any rate, congratulations to a fine cartoonist on a compelling run of image-making, and thank you for the all-too-frequent pre-coffee shudder.
 
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Go, Look: John Romita Original Art

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Multiple Bay Area Events Scheduled In Conjunction With WonderCon 2010

As far as I can tell, what follows is a list of official and unofficial activities in and around this weekend's WonderCon in San Francisco. any updates, additions and/or changes.

* The People of the [Comic] Book: A Discussion of Jews and Comics (Miriam Libicki, Michael Aushenker, Craig Kleinman, Joel Schechter and Rabbi Harry Manhoff); Thursday, April 1 7:00 PM; Contemporary Jewish Museum.

* WonderCon; Friday, April 2 Noon-7 PM; Saturday, April 3 10 AM-7 PM; Sunday, April 4 11 AM-5 PM; Moscone Center South.

* Swing Goth Presents The Ball Of Justice (A Pulp Fiction Dance Party); DNA Lounge; Friday April 2, 7:30 PM-Late; DNA Lounge.

* Dave Johnson Needs Pirates Tiki Tour; Friday, April 2 8:00 PM; Bamboo Hut.

* Ed Hannigan: Covered Charity Event and Auction; Friday, April 2 8:00 PM-11:00 PM; Cartoon Art Museum.

* Comic Pop Opening Night Reception; Javier Hernandez; Saturday, April 3, 5:00 PM-8:00 PM; Encantada Gallery Of Fine Arts.

* Comix Experience 21st Anniversary Party; Brian Hibbs and Various; Saturday, April 3, 8:00 PM-on; Comix Experience.

* Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke at Isotope; Saturday, April 3 8:00 PM-Late; Isotope Comics.
 
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Go, Look: Four Color #77 02

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Go, Look: Meet The Cowled Lady

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Go, Look: Dick Duck, Duck Dick

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Go, Read: Gods Of The Planet Olympus

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer and comics historian Mark Evanier revisits the Creators Rights controversies of the 1980s as recently discussed by Steve Bissette.

image* that's a good deal and Jim was an astounding comic book.

* Jog writes eloquently of the late Paul Ollswang's Doofer: Pathway to McEarth a potential and not very well-known top 100 comic of the 20th Century and a publication that used to be the best thing you could buy if you visited the Fantagraphics warehouse (back before they had the store.) Ollswang always seemed caught between generations to me. A lot of his peers do now, but he really did, and it was obvious at the time.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco feels silly for not being in on the joke. That's okay; it took me 17 years to figure out The Lockhorns were called The Lockhorns because "They Locked Horns." It also took me until yesterday to figure out that the "Blue" in NYPD Blue had two meanings.

* crap, I had money on Moose.

* not comics: congratulations to Robert Kirkman and his collaborators on The Walking Dead being greenlit. I don't really cover movies, but that's a very good comic book series, and it could be a very good TV show with obvious benefits directly falling to the comic book series.

* Sean T. Collins on The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (the comic). Sean T. Collins on The Diary Of A Teenage Girl: The Play.

* finally, it turns out the whiteness of Imhotep in a Marvel comic comes down to a production error.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Steven T. Seagle!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Dave Lapp!

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Quick hits
Craft
Shambles
Giant Bug Attacks
Lettering For Proposals
Oohs And Aahs For Weaver And Strain
The Importance Of Punctuation And Happiness

History
E&P Mysteries
Eat It, Tiny Men
Real Fact Comics Quiz

Industry
Happy 10th, Soup To Nutz
Nigerian Newspaper Needs Cartoonist
Bram Stoker Awards Add Comics Category

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Scott Beatty
CBR: Judd Winick 02
CBR: Sean McKeever
Graphic NYC: Jason Little
Newsarama: Jim McCann

Not Comics
Worst Spy Ever
Todd Klein Remembers Dick Giordano

Publishing
Toon Books Now Available On iPhone

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
The Reverend: Various
Todd Klein: Age Of Bronze #29
Grant Goggans: Dodgem Logic #1
Doug Zawisza: Amazing Spider-Man #627
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Mail Order Ninja Vol. 1
Christopher Allen: The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures
 

 
March 30, 2010


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 no-doubt 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 celebrating the Cinderella-like runs of many of the following:

*****

DEC090774 RASL #7 (MR) $3.50
One odd thing about RASL is that by employing the desert setting as strongly as it has, Jeff Smith's current series also underlines how geographically specific Bone was as well. It's just that Bone trafficked in a region -- the American midwest with its forests and its caves and its strange horizons -- that almost never gets explored. Anyway, I have a lot of fun reading RASL in serial form, so I'm looking forward to seeing the new book.

JAN100139 USAGI YOJIMBO #127 SWORD OF NARUKAMI $3.50
JAN100329 ASTRO CITY THE DARK AGE BOOK FOUR #3 (OF 4) $3.99
JAN100231 BLACKEST NIGHT #8 (OF 8) $3.99
OCT090422 GODLAND #31 $2.99
JAN100467 SWORD #23 (MR) $2.99
Here's a small collection of comic book-type comics that may or may not allow you to build one of those classic comic-shop experience of little pockets of creativity sticking out of a thin, blue bag. You even get an honest-to-god veteran of those days in the Usagi Yojimbo comic book, and one of its transitional entities with the latest iteration of Kurt Busiek's superhero universe. Blackest Night brings to conclusion the spine of DC's most recent sprawling event work, Godland continues its slow progression towards its final issue and Sword probably contains some horrifying yet funny scene of someone getting a body part punched off.

JAN100942 IT WAS WAR O/T TRENCHES HC $24.99
I'd say this is the release of the week: one of the great works from one of the great, important cartoonists. This has been serialized a bit here and there over the years, so that's why the work may look familiar, but this book puts it all in your hands.

JAN101203 CHARLES M SCHULZ MY LIFE WITH CHARLIE BROWN HC $25.00
The amount of random material yet to be collected about Charles Schulz could fill a book. And so it has.

OCT090244 CREEPER BY STEVE DITKO HC $39.99
The price point for this bunch of fine but to my memory just slightly south of first-tier work by Steve Ditko seems aimed at that mystery DC patron that never buys anything that doesn't have a per-unit cost of at least $30. I hope one day to meet some of these people and have them accidentally buy me meals in the course of a long weekend.

DEC090840 JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY MELVIN MONSTER HC VOL 02 $24.95
I liked the first one of these and I delight in their total inaccessibility to children, inviting the neighbor's kids into my office and smacking their peanut butter-stained hands with a ruler as they reach for my fancy books. Actually, I had nice books as a kid -- Edward Gorey, Charles Addams -- so I see these as being for kids, too. Cute stories, cute cartooning, cute, cute, cute.

JAN101172 TEZUKAS BLACK JACK TP VOL 10 $16.95
FEB101148 TEZUKAS ODE TO KIRIHITO SC PART 01 $14.95
FEB101149 TEZUKAS ODE TO KIRIHITO SC PART 02 $14.95
Massive chunks of Tezuka -- the Black Jack project has to be over 3000 pages at this point, or at least close to it, with a couple thousand pages to come. I'm not exactly sure what's going on with a two-volume reprinting of Ode To Kirihito, but I think that's a marvelous comic: a mostly straight-forward action-drama that nearly shakes itself apart at certain moments with lucid weirdness, the closes we'll ever see to a Sam Fuller movie in comic book form.

DEC090866 HIGH SOFT LISP GN (MR) $16.99
DEC090868 PENNY CENTURY TP $18.99
Two from Los Bros: a collection of Gilbert Hernandez's stories about Fritz, stories I haven't come close to figuring out yet. The Penny Century book is one of those new-line softcovers and includes a lot of work just after the dissolution of Love and Rockets Volume One. Some of the best comics in the world, and as that Abrams book begins to hit everyone's looking at Jaime's work with renewed appreciation.

DEC091026 PLUTO URASAWA X TEZUKA GN VOL 08 (OF 8) $12.99
If I were Jog, I might be able to write 800 clever words comparing this eighth volume with the eighth Blackest Night book, but as it is I'll just point out it's hitting stories, it's a good series, and it's one that at eight volumes I can imagine having a decently long life in serialized book (as opposed to omnibus) form.

JUL090869 CLASSIC PINUP ART OF JACK COLE SC $18.99
This sounds like a reprint to me; I'd have to see it. The reprint I'm thinking of was a really nice book, although with books like this it's pretty much all in the title as far as potential buyers.

*****

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, that's because I was intimidated by the arena until Coach Dale broke out the measuring tape.

*****

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Go, Look: Cock Robin Murder Trial

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Mickey Mouse plot co-conspirator Tahawwur Hussain Rana is going to stick by his not-guilty plea, according to a smattering of articles up today. One might think that the spectacular not-guilty plea and then rumblings of continued dramatic information revealed by David Coleman Headley might have had an influence on Rana's more inflexible strategy, but he seems ready to go to trial both on his involvement with information-gathering for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and the plan to do harm against principals actors and agencies involved in the Danish Cartoons Controversy.

* here's a look at the prosecutor's preparation for that trial.

* this article claims that India's reaction to the original Cartoons Controversy saw a few brave souls speaking out against violence drowned in "a sea of fanatical clamor."
 
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Go, Look: No Hope In Crime Alley

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prime time Dick Giordano
 
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Missed It: New Death Note Suspension

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I initially missed this but Anime News Network made note late last week of the suspension of a middle-school boy in Michigan who kept a real-world approximation of the Death Note used in the manga and anime of the same name. In the fictional universe, the books afford an opportunity to foist death on the people whose names are written in it. In the real world... well, officials (in the broader sense) seem genuinely split whether listing a fellow student's name you'd like to see die is a passive act -- even a cry for help -- or the beginning of a potentially active one. It's not like wishing people to die is a new experience to high school students, and while I was mostly a genial teenager somewhere among the liquor bottles and Dio sticker designs in my own study hall cartooning might have been bad wishes for a person or two.

ANN's piece has a short list of North American students receiving some sort of discipline for similar offenses, which seems understandable because on one side of the split there's opportunity for an outcome that leads school officials to being sued to the point of wishing to be Death Noted. The one thing I keep thinking is despite this story occasionally repeating, the number of incidents still isn't anywhere near where I would have set the over/under the day I heard of the manga's plot.

thanks, John
 
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Go, Look: Hot Rods & Racing Cars #11

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early Dick Giordano
 
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Tea Party 'Toon: Priggee Goes There

imageHaving noted the portrayal of President Obama as a soft-chested, make-up wearing assaulter of white (well, green) women in a post yesterday, it would behoove me to note the controversial cartoon of Milt Priggee from the other side of the spectrum last week where he depicts members of the Tea Party movement employing the n-word and wielding a noose. Actually, not really: it's just that I heard about the Priggee cartoon today.

As might be expected, it looks like there's been a smattering of attention from conservative pundits and broader media. You can read the initial reaction thread at Daryl Cagle's active web site here.
 
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Go, Look: Uncanny Tales #48

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Mikhaela Reid Retires From Alt-Editorials

imageAlan Gardner caught Mikhaela Reid's announcement that she's ceasing operations on her political cartooning efforts, aimed at an alt-weekly market that was meager to begin with and has only become worse over the years. Reid began The Boiling Point in 2002 and has supplied the feature with 1-2 cartoons a week ever since. She began with one client, crested at about six or seven, and is currently back down to one. Reid cites various time factors as well, including the fact that she's an expectant mom. It's a straight-forward article, I think, well worth your time if you're interested in that aspect of cartooning at all. If you're more of a comic book person, consider that the alt-weekly cartooning (both editorial and feature-style cartooning) bottom has fallen out of that market in much the same way the traditional alternative comic book market all but dropped out in the last seven or eight years while the more substantial, traditional version of that market has held on. Reid cites a number of concurrent interests this may free her up to pursue, and we wish her the best.
 
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Comic-Con Sells All Its Tickets

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Well, it was bound to happen at some point. I think this is two months ahead of last year, maybe? There's a secondary market for tickets on eBay and through other sources that has yet to spring into existence for this year, so it's not fair to say all the tickets are gone-gone, but the initial batches sold by the con are certainly out there in people's hands. The only reason it took this long is that the certain day trips and partial attendance schedules are less attractive than others: four-day passes both with and without preview night attendance sold out super, super quickly and will continue to do so for years to come. I've already had e-mail from a half-dozen people seeking strategic help for planning their 2011 trip.

More than any other factor, the willingness of a certain kind of fan to make a long-range investment in the weekend of Comic-Con International is the development most indicative of how that show has changed in the last decade. Click through the image above for Heidi MacDonald bringing word of the sell-out -- I whiffed on it -- and her analysis.
 
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Go, Look: Ted Dawson's Peter Parker

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Not Comics: Frank Godwin's Robin Hood

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Go, Look: Oh, Piffle!

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Go, Look: War Against Crime #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* all hail Uncle Ron.

* ComiXology was more than the average amount of psyched to announce their retailer tools app.

image* there's a fine interview with James Sturm here.

* Brian Doherty writes a review of R. Crumb's Genesis and gets it done in a few graphs because he's Brian Effin' Doherty.

* the Man of Steel once again edges ahead of the Dark Knight in the American Icons' duel to see which one can better embody the horrifying divide between haves and have-nots in today's recession-soaked America.

* it's impossible to write a headline with the words Alan Moore in it that would surprise anyone.

* the trailer to Scot Pilgrim Vs. The World gave the comics a boost. Well, why wouldn't it?

* Graeme McMillan ends his long look at the Chris Claremont-era X-Men comics with a look at the issues running up to Uncanny X-Men #200. It's a good series of little critical, even though McMillan's completely wrong about everything.

* I don't think I could steal a comic book vending machine, it's probably awfully big, but I'd give it a try. (thanks, Devlin Thompson)

* I wish I had Borders' problems. Wait, no I don't. Wait, I sort of already do.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell looks at PAX East, a convention related to comics in the unique way that it's organized around a comic whose focus is also the subject matter of the convention. It also looks genuinely well-attended.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Forg!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Gary Chaloner!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Ware And Clowes

History
On Black Kiss
Jesse Marsh Sketching
Not Just A Bad Idea: Worst Idea Ever
Johnny Bacardi Remembers Dick Giordano
Tom Bondurant Remembers Dick Giordano

Industry
Guilt Over Packaging

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Nina Paley
CBR: Judd Winick
Robot 6: Chris Ware
CBR: Aaron Johnston
Newsarama: Dan Goldman
Talking Comics With Tim: A Bunch Of Folks

Not Comics
This Is Just Weird

Publishing
Chris Sprouse Bruce Wayne Pages
There Is More Than One Ginger Fox
Congrats On Five Years Of Blogging, I Think

Reviews
Ed Sizemore: Various
Katherine Dacey: Various
Greg McElhatton: Angel: Lorne
Timothy Callahan: The Guild #1
Chad Nevett: Captain America #604
Neilalien: The Mystic Hands Of Doctor Strange #1
 

 
March 29, 2010


Go, Look: Kyojo No Hoshi

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ComicsPRO Annual Meeting: Paul Levitz And Carol Kalish Receive Awards; Speakers Out The Wazoo

imageYou can hit this link for Matt Price's blog-style coverage of the recent ComicsPro meeting in Memphis: this includes the group giving its industry appreciation awards to recently downshifted DC officer Paul Levitz and the late, retailer-solicitous Marvel executive Carol Kalish (1955-1991) and making some changes to its board. I suggest you read it all. It's good to hear that there was discussion of things other than achieving #1 market share, and slightly odd to note that DC sent 12 people to the show. I think if I were a retailer I would be flattered but I would also wonder how the heck DC could afford that much manpower away from the office.

I think there's been a lot of talk about changes in strategy and approach over the years, and while I don't deny it's those kind of discussions that can get people excited about what's to come, it would be nice if there was a bit more what's been done to go along with that what's to come. It's also fascinating to me that digital rights were a big concern, and that this was the subject of Robert Kirkman's speech: I mean, I guess digital rights should be a concern, but it also seems to me that there's a lot of energy that could be placed on making the Direct Market system work more effectively before projecting on some outside bogeyman.

Kirkman; photo by Whit Spurgeon
 
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Go, Look: Strange Sports Stories #4

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Cartoonist Uses Rape Metaphor To Describe Passage Of Health Care

imageSo I guess a conservative political cartoonist has employed a rape metaphor to depict the recent legislative victory by President Obama and Congressional Democrats on the issue of health care. You can read analysis and criticism of the cartoon here and here. I actually think all such imagery and statements are fair game -- the subject of another post this morning, Zapiro, has done like 10 hold-'em-down rape cartoons featuring South African President Jacob Zuma -- but that it's more than fair to analyze and criticize the employment and appropriateness of such extreme metaphors. In other words, I support every cartoonist's right to do ridiculous, even shameful cartoons; I also support that they be called on same.

I tend to find such efforts sad and silly, in equal amounts. The two things I wish people would do when folks in the political realm decide to pull out these giant destruction-of-republic jeremiads and ramp up agencies and actors going about their business as historical travesties on an Emmerichian scale is a) demand consistency across the board and immediately stop paying any attention to someone who isn't consistent but is instead pushing politics as sport, b) hold critics that froth at the mouth over things like the destruction of the nation to some kind of timetable towards this guaranteed Armageddon when they don't get whatever political victory they want. I'm not waiting up, though.
 
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Go, Look: Kaluta's Metropolis

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Is The South African Press Less Free?

This discussion of the South African press under President Jacob Zuma predictably gets into cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro's work critical of the man, including the troubling reaction that many have had to Zapiro's admittedly harsh and uncompromising acts of expression and opinion. It's hard to track an argument made along the "climate of fear" lines, but this article does a better job than most. Some sort of sign from the top that violence against reporters won't be tolerated, yeah, that would be nice.
 
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Go, Look: Casy's Kiss

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A Quartet Of Quick Convention Notes

* the best-written piece I've seen this morning is Robert Boyd on a local Houston show.

* there is a nice bunch of photos here in Joe Gordon's report from Hi-Ex, one of approximately 15,000 UK shows. What strikes me is that with a little lighting and a few professional backdrop posters the space looks much more visually sumptuous than most North American shows of equivalent size. If you run such a show, that could be worth looking into.

image* I'm having a hard time getting a grasp on the Toronto Comic Con, the first in Wizard Entertainment's series of 12 different regional comics shows driven by a mix of old comics sales, actors in genre shows and a smattering of invited comics talent. I'm not seeing much if any news except of the basic "hey, a person we may have heard of" and "look at the crazy people in costumes" variety. Photos like these from Flickr, or sets like these from same, make the show appear mostly like a wasteland. This blog posting by a volunteer suggests it was very easy to get in and get out, which is not how any decently-attended con would be described. On the other hand, there's one weird, washed-out photo in Rich Johnston's set here that shows a few hundred people trying to get in, and Sequential seems to all but outright support Wizard's 20,000 number. It looked like a good convention if you wanted to meet cute cast members from Da Vinci's Inquest that went on to do science fiction shows, but other than that, I just can't tell. If someone out there has a wide-shot of the floor at the con's height, please let me know so I can go look at it!

* the French-language comics news clearinghouse has a report up on how publishers saved money on expenditures at this year's Le Salon du Livre de Paris: one group reduced its space to the tune of 600,000 Euros in savings; another group exhibited together. Attendance remained high over the weekend despite the cost-cutting moves by the exhibitors.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Frank Frazetta PSAs

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Go, Look: Pat Brady Original Art

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Go, Look: Charles G. Bush

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Go, Look: Funny Fizzles

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Xaviar Xerexes relates word that Patrick Farley would like to return to webcomics making and may need a bit of your cash to get started.

image* it was hard for me to get through this long essay on how Kurt Busiek ruined superhero comics, but I think I managed to disagree with every single idea that it suggested. You may do better than I did in both getting through it and retaining enough of it to make an argument of it.

* the great Paul Gravett goes through some of the simplistic misunderstandings that folks bring to manga.

* Alan Gardner notes that Paul Gilligan referring to Wiley Miller as a douchebag for entering his panel that sometimes runs in a strip space as a strip in the NCS Awards. It's a very lively comments thread, although I'd be lying if I said the first thing I did was something other than run a search to see if Miller himself responded (he didn't).

* Russ Manning: Kinky? Well, yeah. That little skirt Magnus wore made me feel all squishy inside and that comic was 15 years before my time.

* this made me laugh. And so did this, I'm not shamed to admit.

* more on the scanlation debate. I would greatly prefer it if scolding were the answer. I'm great at scolding.

* finally, don't anyone panic, but I think the genre-destroying writer Kurt Busiek may have lost his mind.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Marc Silvestri!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Jack Elrod!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Mort Drucker!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Val Mayerik!

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Quick hits
Craft
Everybody Poops
Mike Manley Makes Robin of Sherwood

Exhibits/Events
Go See Craig Thompson

Industry
There Should Be An Award For That

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Antony Johnston

Not Comics
PAD On Selling Out, 1992
Forest J. Ackerman Autobio
This Stuff Just Makes Me Sad
Smallville Creators Sue Warners

Reviews
Douglas Wolk: Nemesis #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Todd Klein: Daytripper #1-2
Greg McElhatton: Nemesis #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Valentine
Chris Allen: Uncanny X-Men #521-522
Katherine Dacey: Little Butterfly Omnibus
Byron Kerman: Best American Comics 2009
 

 
March 28, 2010


Richard Joseph Giordano, 1932-2010

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By Tom Spurgeon

Dick Giordano, a longtime pencil artist and inker as well as a key comics industry figure at Charlton and DC Comics, passed away on Saturday, March 27. He had reportedly been battling leukemia, a fight which was recently noted as having made a potential turn for the worse. Giordano was 77 years old.

Giordano was born in Manhattan and like many of his eventual cartooning peers made use of New York's focused high school system to receive the bulk of his early artistic training. He majored in illustration and advertising art at the High School Of Industrial Art. Once out of school, Giordano went immediately to work at the S.M. Iger Studio, where he was put to work inking backgrounds on titles such as Fiction House's Sheena. This sobering introduction to the field of commercial comics would be his home for the next nine months.

By 1952, Giordano was working freelance and publishing a variety of work through Charlton. Thus began one of two great professional relationships of his long career. Giordano was one of several artists hired when Charlton brought their nascent comics production capabilities in-house in 1951, under Al Fago as editor. Giordano's peer group with the company, which was already building a reputation as a publisher willing to follow youth buying trends into every corner of the comics market, included Sam Glanzman, Sal Trapani, Joe Gill, and Rocke Mastroserio. Giordano would later marry Trapani's sister, Marie.

imageGiordano seized the Charlton opportunity with both hands, performing a number of jobs across various genres and of every kind, big and small, that were assembled into comics at the time. Among the titles he worked on in the early 1950s were Lawbreakers, Racket Squad In Action, The Thing, Space Adventures, Hot Rods and Racing Cars and True Life Secrets. One can see two elements of distinction in Giordano's initial burst of work with Charlton. Unlike some of his peers who were either paired with an inker or pencil artist or even hired one of their own to increase productivity, many of Giordano's early credits had the artist performing both tasks. Giordano also began to do a number of covers, perhaps far ahead of what most artists with his productivity level on inside features might have done. Giordano's early covers frequently focused on a figure, either in action or repose, with backgrounds or scene-setting details falling away. Giordano would develop into one of mainstream comics' more passionate proponents of comics art as a storytelling form rather than an illustrative opportunity, even in still moments like the ones covers generally provided.

Giordano's career at Charlton tends to be marked by a slow rise through the ranks to become managing editor. While true, that progression, like that of American comics, was more fractured than first appears. Giordano began as a freelancer, but in 1955 went on staff at Charlton to keep his assignments. The comics industry of the late 1950s continued to be savaged by distribution trouble and general decline in a readership spending more time staring at television that reached into the relatively and insular Charlton. Although his work there continued unabated, as the '50s turned over, Giordano also picked up romance work from Marvel, a few gigs for the Treasure Chest title, a variety of jobs from Dell and even a comic or two for British publisher Alan Class. Giordano seems to have negotiated this dark period better than most, purchasing his first home with Marie in 1959.

imageCharlton laid down the foundations for a brief run of superhero comics that proved popular with hardcore fans in the very early 1960s, with brief runs on a Captain Atom and Blue Beetle character -- neither of which included Giordano, but as a creator making editorial in-roads he was certainly increasingly familiar with the company's line-wide strategies. With Marvel's success attracting press by the mid-1960s, and after the now-dissatisfied Marvel cornerstone and longtime Charlton artist Steve Ditko returning more fully to that company's fold in 1966, Giordano was able to spearhead the Charlton Action Hero Line that included Captain Atom, a re-jiggered Blue Beetle, The Peacemaker, Peter Cannon... Thunderbolt, The Question and the character Judomaster.

Not only did that bunch of titles make an impression on fans -- perhaps creatively so ahead of their bottom-line sales success -- and not only would Giordano's involvement presage a use of similar characters a couple of decades later with Watchmen, the move drove notice to Giordano from mainstream comics giant DC Comics. The hiring of Giordano into DC's editorial was one of several moves by newly named Editorial Director Carmine Infantino in 1967. Giordano fit both of Infantino's apparent qualifications for such a position: he was a working artist with an artist's appreciation for comics storytelling and effective cover image-making, and he had direct experience editing, particularly working with new talent.

Giordano is credited with involvement in two of DC's most highly regarded series of the period: Bat Lash, an easy-going western in the vein of Warner's immensely popular Maverick television series and offering readers a vaguely insouciant counter-culture feel, and a run of "Deadman" stories in Strange Adventures, one of comics' best attempts ever to use the superhero's uncanny ability to hold multiple genres to its chest by attaching horror elements to an otherwise standard costume and origin template. Burgeoning comics superstar Neal Adams drew the Deadman comics; Adams would prove to be a crucial creative and business partner to Giordano over the next decade and beyond. Comics like Bat Lash and the Deadman run were crucial to DC in that they allowed the company to partially staunch the bleeding in terms of cultural cool that was the result of Marvel's 1960s success, and pointed towards a creative direction for the company to pursue in order to stay relevant with a certain taste-making, hardcore readership in what seemed at the time like a potentially dying industry.

Giordano left DC in the very early '70s to work with Neal Adams at Continuity, where they packaged a variety of comics for a number of purposes, including special projects with both of Giordano's previous biggest clients: DC and Charlton. In 1977 he would start his own company, "Dik-Art," to serve the same kind of clients only with greater autonomy and control. Although this kind of break with traditional publisher/creator relationships was rare enough in comics history that as a business move each stands out on Giordano's long resume, there were two outcomes in terms of art during that period that may have had a greater effect on the cartoonist's overall legacy.

imageThe first was that Giordano became the best of Adams collaborators in terms of inking his work. Giordano's fealty to figure drawing and ability to dissipate just that tiniest bit of over-the-top energy that Adams brought to some of this freelance work made that partnership work much better in terms of comics and storytelling of both the single-image and narrative flow kind than either Hall of Famer would enjoy teamed with other artists. He worked with Adams on memorable runs of Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and also worked with him on 1978's iconic Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, a comic with a deserved pop-culture pedigree that's grown in stature for the relative high quality of the comics art and storytelling contained therein. Giordano also inked Ross Andru on Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, a popular 1976 novelty book that showed just how much the two companies house styles had grown close together.

imageThe second was that almost as soon as Giordano walked in the front door of the New York City comics publisher he began working on covers for DC, starting with romance titles but soon branching out into their more popular titles, particularly those starring Batman. Giordano proved to be a pro's pro in that arena, adapting to various trends and visual signatures with startling alacrity. Story was front and center. A typical Giordano cover might feature a staged scene reminiscent if not exactly loyal to a scene in the comic, but the general handsomeness of the cartoonist's art at this stage in his career afforded whatever was drawn with a simple authority that was appropriate to DC's longtime standing within the industry. He would stay one of the iconic cover artists of that late Silver Age period, doing his part to define DC's overall look until the 1980s and fractured influences across multiple genres began to take hold.

In 1980, DC Publisher Jenette Kahn brought Giordano back into DC's fold. He rapidly ascended from a position editing the various Batman books to managing editor (1981) to Vice President/Executive Editor (1983), the position he held until his departure. When Giordano was brought on, DC had yet to find its footing in a comics marketplace focused less on traditional strengths like brand strength and newsstand sales and more on devoted fans spread out across generations and a Direct Market that allowed publishers to reach those fans with much less risk than had been the case decades earlier. Giordano focused on the comics DC was publishing, initiating what he later called -- casually -- a five-year plan (noting that he may have been a year or two behind), bringing on new talent, matching them to projects best designed to flatter the various, important DC properties. Like many creators in the 1980s, Giordano's pay was based on bottom-line sales. Unlike most creators, his bonuses included revenue from licensing. He settled into a precarious balancing act: revitalizing the DC icons while protecting each one's traditional function within the publishing line.

Giordano worked within the strictures of a leadership team comprised of himself, Kahn and Paul Levitz (Joe Orlando was sometimes included by Giordano as a highly-important fourth cog.) Giordano described the 1980s DC triumvirate in a 1988 interview with Gary Groth:
Actually, the three of us work pretty well together as a team. I'm kind of pleased with it. Paul's title is executive vice-president and essentially he's in charge of, if you want to get down to the simple facts, marketing, to some degree, and the money end of it. He's the one who tells me when I've over-spent my budget, or when I've spent my money foolishly. But he has no input direct into the contents of the magazines. He's the on that will let me know if we've done something that is legally wrong. Jenette, as publisher, is responsible essentially for making the decisions on what material we publish and for guiding me in what kind of material we want to publish for a given year. My basic responsibility is long-range planning in terms of what properties we're going to put on. I decided most of the properties that are going to be published simply by reading a humongous amount of proposals, by looking at work from artist and so on and so forth."
Giordano's description of the editorial team with whom he worked was about 20 people total, seven or eight that reported directly to him, and that in the end he felt responsible for everything between the covers of every DC comic of that period.

imageAmong successes with which he's at least partially if not primarily credited is the reorganization/re-launch of popular characters through event series and special publishing events, the company's major, line-wide Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover that married the development of these properties to an actual storyline, and the grouping of a small bunch of successful horror-tinged titles into a full-blown imprint called Vertigo. Even some of his initiatives that didn't quite come to successful fruition, like a proposed children's line and a graphic novel series, involved measure the company would eventually pursue. Many of the younger artists that Giordano had shepherded through jobs at Charlton, DC (the first time around) and Continuity were among the industry's leading talents. He edited DC's groundbreaking The Dark Knight series with Denny O'Neil, but perhaps just as importantly had his hand in a variety of creative efforts that kept the sometimes-staid company creatively vital during that period, for instance green-lighting Bob Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden's bizarre and still slightly ahead of its time series Thriller, or working with Neal Pozner on the first of many modern attempts to resuscitate Aquaman, or green-lighting two Nathaniel Dusk series featuring art from an absolutely in-his-prime Gene Colan. Giordano continued to be a mentor and touchstone to emerging artists, especially inkers who looked up to that aspect of his career. He continued to contribute artistically, for instance working on John Byrne's revamp of Superman (The Man Of Steel) and the Crisis interiors.

Giordano was essential throughout the development of the DC's hugely success and highly-regarded Watchmen book, being present during the initial recruitment of writer Alan Moore into the American company's fold during an early talent-searching trip to the UK, through the acquisition by DC of the Charlton superhero characters as his former publisher began to crash and burn, to suggesting to Moore that he use original characters on the book to greater creative effect.

Giordano's public profile with comics fans grew in the 1980s through a monthly column called "Meanwhile..." that promoted company news through its publications. Unlike such efforts in EC and most famously Marvel Comics, there was very little tomfoolery inherent in Giordano's pieces, almost nothing or an arch nudge-nudge, wink-wink tone. They were written in a relatively sober, absolutely friendly voice, like a friend of your father's you particularly liked and didn't mind sitting down to listen to. As a pipeline into at least some aspects of working in what still felt like a closed industry miles and miles away from most fans, the "Meanwhile..." columns may have led many in the rising creative class to feel they had the same kind of tutorial relationship as some of the artists with whom Giordano more directly worked.

The 1980s were a hotbed of creators' rights discussions and decisions made on both sides of the divide between creator and publisher. Part of Giordano's legacy as an industry figures is his central role in DC's labeling controversy during this period. He provided his own, eloquent disquisition into his decision-making on the matter and the beliefs fueling them in an interview with Gary Groth in The Comics Journal #119 (January 1988). Denying the persistent accusation that DC had looked into labeling their books due to outside pressure from sources critical of some content like prominent Direct Market retailer Buddy Saunders, Giordano unpacked a view where in-company labeling would act as a replacement tool for an increasingly creaky and arbitrarily applied Comics Code. He also, perhaps to greater controversy, suggested that while DC's decisions might cost them relationships with creators such as Frank Miller and Alan Moore, and that he and others would miss them personally and as revenue-generators, the company would manage to move forward with or without them. "I'm not happy with the situation," he told Groth, "but if you're asking does it hurt from a standpoint of publishing comics in terms of sales, not as much as you might think."

imageGiordano left his position at DC at the midpoint of 1993, closely linked to the passing of his wife Marie due to complications from cancer and partly due to an increasing hearing loss that would come to have a greater and greater effect with just how the comics veteran managed to negotiate his way through the industry. His position was retired with him, and his duties were spread out amongst a surging in numbers editorial staff. Giordano remained a consultant with the company, working on areas of general expertise such new talent development. He remained an active artist, for example providing art to DC's 1994 Modesty Blaise prose adaptation, and standing in for short inking stints on various DC series up until a few short years ago, even as more and more of DC's archival work was bringing back to the stands various projects from the middle and early days of Giordano's long career. In 2002, Giordano was part of the abortive Future Comics effort, working with his friend Bob Layton. In more recent years, Giordano served on the board of the charity The Hero Initiative. A positively bubbly semi-autobiography written with Michael Eury called Changing Comics, One Day at a Time was released in 2003 from Twomorrows.

Giordano was one of several working professionals of his generation that made time to teach comics, working at a variety of institutions including Parsons, The Joe Kubert School, the Comic Art Workshop and Syracuse University.

Giordano received several awards for his work. They include the Alley Award for Best Editor in 1969 and the Shazam Award for Best Inker in 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974. He received an Inkpot from Comic-Con International in 1981. He was named to the Eagle Awards' Roll of Honour in 1986 and shared a Harvey Award in 1997 for his role in editing the original series of what was that year's Best Domestic Reprint Project. He is on this year's Eisner Award Hall Of Fame nominees list.

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Go, Look: David Lasky Draws And Designs A Poster For The Shining

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

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Happy 34th Birthday, Thomas Scioli!

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FFF Results Post #203 -- Sounds

On Friday, CR readers were asked to, "Name Five Sound-Effects, Sounds or Noises From The Comics You'd Like To Hear In Person, Or That You Were Happy To Hear In A Movie." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Snikt
2. Bamf
3. Black Bolt whispers (from the next county)
4. Superman's scream as he punches his way through much of the Scrubb Armada
5. The cash register noise that accompanies anyone's eyes becoming dollar signs

*****

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Uriel A. Duran

1) Aquaman walking around in his wet costume
2) Thwip!
3) The voice of Dream of the Endless
4) The 'boom' of Boom Tubes
5) The engine of any vehicle designed by Jack Kirby

*****

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Eric Knisley

1. THOOOM!
2. The sound made when Don Blake's cane hits the ground.
3. The sound made when the Hulk's expanding feet blow out Bruce Banner's shoes.
4. The mechanical noises made MODOK.
5. The sound of Scrooge McDuck diving through his giant pile of money.

*****

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Don MacPherson

1) Thwip! (Web-shooters)
2) Thrakakoom! (Or any other Mjolnir effect)
3) Whatever sound Starfire's hair makes when she flies (just curious).
4) The sound that Arm Fall Of Boy's arms make when they fall off.
5) The Boom! of a Boom Tube opening.

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. The "SHFFF" of skysurfers on powerboards in Judge Dredd
2. The "BOOM" of a Boom Tube from New Gods
3. The "DOOM" of Surtur forging his sword in Thor
4. Black Canary's "canary cry"
5. The Hyper-Historic Headbang, from an old Alan Moore Future Shock.

*****

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Russell Lissau

1. snikt
2. bamf
3. pfaff (Batman's grapnel firing)
4. The Batcycle's rumbling in Dark Knight
5. yoink

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. The boomtube "BOOM"
2. Buddy Bradley vomiting
3. Maggie's jeans ripping
4. Any sound effect lettered by John Workman, particularly his run on Walt Simonson's Thor (I was always impressed by his Klang!s and KRAKOW!s)
5. Any or all of the sound effects from Far Arden ("Punch!" is a good start)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Jack Mercer's Popeye mutterings in the Fleischer theatrical cartoons
2. Robin Williams' Popeye Mutterings
3. BLOIT! (Popeye's Muscle Popping Up)
4. floof floofiTy flif flif flof da-flaf! (Many Smoke Signals Rising Quickly)
5. Poit! (Cerebus popping in and out of existence)

Brought to you in part (#3 and 4) by the Don Martin Dictionary of Sound Effects.

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Opus Tuba Solo
2. Thwip
3. The cluck of the Whiffle Hen
4. Wuffa Wuffa Wuffa
5. Plexus Ranger's Buzz-Knucks™

*****

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Bill Matheny

1) SHKLURCH! -- A hippie wringing out juice from his beard. The great Don Martin from MAD #139
2) CHOK! -- From Master of Kung Fu, as I recall.
3) SHLIK SKLUSH SHLAKLE SPLAK -- Hanging wallpaper. One more (of dozens) from the mind of Martin, Mad #112
4) SCROITCH! -- Tubby playing the violin from issue #4.
5) Those little hearts floating above a charter's head when they're lovestruck.

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1) "K-POW" in the Scott Pilgrim movie trailer
2) Venus's siren song from Agents of Atlas
3) "HWWWWEDGIE," the sound of Thor giving Hercules a wedgie in Incredible Hercules
4) Scrooge McDuck diving into the coins in his money bin
5) Whatever it was Superman sang in Final Crisis

*****

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Adam Casey

1. An Invincible "Cha-THOOM!" punch
2. A Boom Tube opening
3. The inimitable "BA-THROOM!"
4. A M.O.D.O.K. brain blast
5. Anything for which Todd Klein had to develop a new typeface

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. The Batmobile accelerating (any version)
2. Surtur forging "Twilight", the gigantic "Sword of Doom" (Walt Simonson's Thor)
3. Ape Sex (Love and Rockets)
4. Thwip! (Spider-Man)
5. The Infinity Horn (Dreadstar)

*****

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Des Devlin

* The wind blowing through Tintin's Tibetan cave: WIUUUUW
* Mr. Natural being fellated in the desert by Big Baby: MMPGH MPGH MPGH SMURCH GORP SLUP *BLORP*
* Cerebus walking hip deep in snow to find out the deciding vote: WUFFAWUFFAWUFFAWUFFAWUFFAWUFFA
* Captain America hitting a robot with his shield: WANK!
* A Don Martin supermarket collapsing, in MAD #115: FAGROON KLUBBLE KLUBBLE

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Whatever Superman was singing at the end of Final Crisis
2. Krakkaboom (or any John Workman lettered sound effects from Simonson's Thor run - from a distance)
3. Snap Ploobadoof
4. Ktang (from Capt. Marvel's nega bands)
5. Nurp

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Superman's Song To Save The Multiverse (Final Crisis)
2. The Boom Tube (New Gods)
3. Mary Jane Watson's Laugh (Spider-Man)
4. Doop's Doop-Speak (X-Force/X-Statix)
5. The chime of the F-Sharp Bell (Green Lantern)

*****

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Christopher Brown

1. Woodstock's dialogue
2. Jimmy Olsen's signal watch: "zee zee zee..."
3. Starfire's starbolts: "SKREEEEE"
4. The Boom Tube
5. The "ZIP-POW" of Ignatz' brick to Krazy's head

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Ka-pow!
2. Thoom!
3. The guns from american flagg
4. The boing from male excitedness made by tex avery wolves
5. The klang of cap's shield when it bounces off a room full of AIM henchmen

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. ZIT-ZIT-ZIT-ZIF-ZAT-ZAT-SWIZAP!
2. PFFFT-FRACK! POP ---SPROiNG-GING
3. FLUK GROON GROON GROON GROON SPLAZITCH SPLAZATCH
4. GLADINK BZZZT KLADWAK SPROINK FWAK KAZIK
5. Any other sound effect conceived of by Don Martin

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. That satisfying "SKREEEeeeee!" sound when Magnus, Robot Fighter decapitates a robot with his bare hands
2. The equally satisfying "Gunch!" of a Bode' lizard getting his head and/or 'nads crushed
3. "Gnnyaarrrggghhh!" as someone dies in a CREEPY or EERIE comic
4. "Toot! Tweet! Bonk!" as the Fabulous Furry Freak Bros. get stoned
5. ... and as Don Martin so eloquently put it: "Oot Gackle! Oot Geek!"

*****

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Robert Martin

1. Jesse Custer's "Voice of God" from Preacher
2. The "Papa Ooo Mow Mow" of the Somnambutol Snowballs in American Flagg!
3. Batroc the Leaper's alleged French accent
4. Banshee's scream
5. Also from Preacher: Arseface's voice

*****

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J.M. Shiveley

1. "Thwip"
2. The whirring of a batarang through the air
3. "BLAM BLAM BLAM"
4. The click of Morpheus turning the key to the gates of Hell
5. The sound of a banana peel slip

*****
*****
 
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March 27, 2010


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Ojingogo de Matthew Forsythe
Uploaded by lezardnoir. - Independent web videos.
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via, and for more


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Writer Jamie S. Rich And Artist Joelle Jones Being Interviewed
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Dick Giordano, RIP

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from March 20 to March 26, 2010:

1. Fallout continues from David Coleman Headley's guilty plea last week, partly for conspiring to kill principals of the Danish Cartoons Controvery

2. CBLDF expands its management staff.

3. Cities are still fighting over Comic-Con as decision is due in a couple of weeks. How seriously they're fighting, who knows?

Winner Of The Week
Peter Brookes

Loser Of The Week
The Direct Market, if the marketshare games continue

Quote Of The Week
"Customers want to be entertained for a reasonable price, by stores that are "in continuity" and that are released in a reasonable amount/frequency." -- Brian Hibbs

*****

today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

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

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

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Happy 83rd Birthday, Hy Eisman!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mike Friedrich!

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March 26, 2010


Friday Distraction: Los Bros Gallery

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Go, Look: Choose-A-Seth

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* there were protests in Malaysia earlier today concerning the cartoon-style drawing from artist Lars Vilks in which Muhammad's head was placed onto a dog's body. This is worth noting not just for the continued attention paid the Vilks drawing but for the fact that during the initial Danish Cartoons Controversy protests in Malaysia helped coarsen the atmosphere in that part of the world to the point where similar free-speech issues were dealt with that much more harshly.

* the New York Times takes its own look at the recent David Coleman Headley plea agreement, taking note of how easily Headley traveled.

* I can't quite figure out if Headley's plea helped him avoid extradition by design or by unrelated outcome.

* this should be interesting, and by "interesting" I mean a range of effects from raising an eyebrow to seeing a mushroom cloud on CNN: at least one report on the wires this morning has David Coleman Headley naming specific Pakistani army officers as being involved in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai.
 
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Go, Look: Jeff Smith's Next RASL Trade, The Fire Of St. George, Previewed

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E&P On Jack Higgins' Work Expansion

Newspaper industry bible Editor & Publisher has a short article up on that recent story of Jack Higgins' cartoons showing up in newspapers in Illinois towns Glenview and Hinsdale. Turns out that's just a continuance of the cartoonist's interest in doing local cartoons, the same impulse that generated a book of Chicago-only cartoons in 2009. A Pulitzer Prize winner (1989) working with such smaller papers is going to be a story, but in this case a relationship on that level with those sorts of publication fits what we know about the cartoonist.
 
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Go, Look: More Shintaro Kago

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Let's Hope This Is A Bit Of A Misreading Or There Was Something More To It

I didn't have the financial ability to cover this year's ComicsPRO meeting in Memphis, so I should probably be really careful about parsing the words of those who made it on site. That said, I really hope that Matt Price has it wrong, and there's a bigger takeaway from the DC presentation that an expressed desire to beat Marvel in the DM sales ranking.

imageThere was a time when market-share goals made a lot of sense. That was 15 years ago, when Marvel great attempt at a headless (filmless) media empire had shareholders to impress and DC needed as many performance trump cards as it could muster to block the occasional divisional takeover bids from within the parent company. But at this point, no. Today, both of those companies hold positions of pride withing giant entertainment conglomerates that value them for reasons that have nothing to do with making the big space on a Milton Griepp pie chart.

I would suggest the vital task facing these companies isn't to secure great market share but to grow the market entire. Selling 200,000 copies of the #4 comic book is a far worthier goal than to have the #1 comic book at 87,500. Sustaining or even making thrive comics other than the ones where everyone gets together to fight the super-powered ferret-headed love child of Darkseid and the Beyonder or whatever is a healthier situation creatively for the long haul in comics and exploitation into other media. So I hope there was some of that, too. Sorry I missed it.
 
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Go, Look: Dudley D.

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Comic-Con Should Be In Whatever Venue Can Best Guarantee We Don't Have To Talk About It All The Time

I'm growing more convinced that the sole effect of talking about Comic-Con International more than you have to four months before it arrives is to make you hate it a little bit. And I say that as a flat-out fan of the show and as a beneficiary of its parent company's advertising largesse. Still, people insist, and CCI is a humongous business within comics and as important an institution as is out there, so okay.

imageThe new thing is that Anaheim has put up a facebook page and an open letter campaigning for the show to move there in 2013. Hey, good for them. Press every advantage. I don't know if Comic-Con will move the show, although it occurs to me that it's only important San Diego thinks they might. Seriously, though, I don't know the exact factors the CCI people are bringing to bear in making their decision -- whether it's hotel space, or civic concessions, or exhibition space, or maybe a tax issue, or what. Maybe it's the overall package...? I like the show, and I like it in San Diego; I'm biased that way.

However, aside from the real discussion that's going on even as we speak between the adults in charge, it'd be nice if the imaginary proposals put forward by the competing cities or their proponents didn't suck giant donkey balls. I'd almost consider the internet version of the public face of these proposals from cities not San Diego some sort of ploy by the city of San Diego to make people like them better.

Anaheim has much less of a compact immediate area to host a show, and nobody seems willing to give a forthright answer how Disneyland's proximity -- Disneyland in summertime! -- doesn't ruthlessly punch in the kidneys any advantage that area might have as to parking and hotels. Las Vegas is 40,000 degrees in the summer, it's the worst match in history of a convention city to a convention population that doesn't want to spend money except inside the convention center, the vast majority of the convention population would have to depend on an infrastructure or cabs that likely wouldn't be up to it but would almost certainly result in a black hole of bitching and complaints about the money spent before the weekend was up, and to top things off I'm totally convinced someone would die in the cab line at McCarran and 80 percent of the remaining people spending the two to five hours there Wednesday afternoon would wish that person was them. Los Angeles seems like a much more spread out San Diego that will make the show seem like work for all the Hollywood types and make it actual work for everyone else scrambling to get to the central location each day. Moving to LA would be kind of like when a TV show rebuilds its East Coast sets on the West Coast for some reason no one remembers when the show gets canceled a year later. It does have the advantage of not being an insane option, though. (I have no idea why no one talks about San Francisco, which has the advantage of actually hosting a comics-driven convention twice a year; I'd imagine it's a no-go exhibition space-wise.)

Winning CCI will be for that city like winning the White House is for a presidential candidate. Half the people will freak out, but the other half will grow to appreciate as positive qualities things about the city that never occurred to them before. The (nerd) republic will endure. I just wish it felt like an honest-to-God heavyweight election and less like three fringe candidates hanging around to see if the front-runner gets assassinated.
 
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Go, Look: The Fourth Guest

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If I Were In Florida, 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: More Hugh Hefner

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Not Comics: Charles Robinson's Wilde

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Go, Look: Hi And Lois Original

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Go, Look: Even More Advertisements

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there's a really nice post here from Tim Hensley about a gig facilitating something close to the original Black Blizzard lettering.

image* here's a giant, permanent resource-style list of graphic novels with female protagonist being whipped together by an all-star line-up of Internet writer-about-comics regulars.

* today's loaded selection of birthday includes Alvin Buenaventura and Greg McElhatton. I can't do a birthday greeting post for Alvin because I have no idea how old he is and I can't do one for Greg because I can't figure out an icon/image to use. Happy birthday anyway, fellas.

* there's a three-part interview with Tokyopop's Stuart Levy at the comics business and news analysis site ICv2.com. (1, 2, 3). Levy says the company is stable in the bookstores, stable in a different way in the comics shops, and bullish on digital. The most interesting stuff in there was a comparison of the British and German market. Well, to me, anyway.

* that Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World trailer is a really nice, effective trailer, and the film looks like a great deal of fun. What else is there to say?

* not comics: I would see all of these movies, sure. Why not?

* RC Harvey talks about the launch of Action Comics #1 and whether or not the publication was initially designed for children or adults.

* Darryl Cunningham and Roger Langridge talk UK Web And Mini-Comix Thing.

* finally, Lynda Barry speaking is like the greatest thing ever, don't you know.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Brian Bolland!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Mark Verheiden!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Mitch O'Connell!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Bill Kartalopoulos!

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Quick hits
Craft
Nick Mullins On Thought Balloons
Rick Veitch Sketches The Demon
Cameron Stewart Draws Batwoman
Sean Phillips Sketches John Constantine

Exhibits/Events
Where Mark Evanier Will Be
Go See Jerry Moriarty Saturday
Seriously, Go See James Sturm

History
Featuring Swamp Thing
Comic Fandom Bibliography

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Brian Reed
Newsarama: Jeff Parker
SuperI.T.C.H.: Jen Stuller

Not Comics
NPR: Matt Stone, Trey Parker
Shaenon And Andrew Keeping House

Publishing
Love For New Boy's Club
Hate Annual #8 Previewed
18 Days To Actually Publish?
Massive Hero House Preview
New Creeper Collection Discussed

Reviews
Jonathan: Various
Geoff Elliott: Booth
Nick Gazin: Various
Snow Wildsmith: Various
Ben Gilbert: The Guild #1
Matthew Brady: Meanwhile
Sean Gaffney: Black Blizzard
Rich Kreiner: Abstract Comics
Sarah Boslaugh: Vatican Hustle
David P. Welsh: Bokurano: Ours
Chad Nevett: The Incredibles #7
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Carmela Ciuraru: Backing Into Forward
Greg McElhatton: Brave And The Bold #32
Johanna Draper Carlson: Anime And Philosophy
Graeme McMillan: Various Recent Superman Titles
 

 
March 25, 2010


Go, Look: Richard Thompson, Mapmaker

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posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: On John Hicklenton

The writer Pat Mills remembers his friend and longtime collaborator the late artist John Hicklenton in an earnest and even somewhat understandably scattered post up at Forbidden Planet International's blog. Mills mentions a number of projects that weren't quite as prominent a part of Hicklenton's biography as his 2000 AD work, noting that his late friend had just finished a project called 100 Months for a trio of publishers including one in Great Britain. He also spoke admiringly of Hicklenton's skill with the grotesque and fearful, including this wonderful line: "His range of demons seems inexhaustible."
 
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Go Read: Ng Suat Tong On Miguelanxo Prado's Streak Of Chalk (1994)

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Euro Comics Authors Take Stand On Issues Surrounding Digital Rights

According to a brief report at BDZoom.com, over 750 comics authors and creators active in the French-language comics market have signed a declaration to stop granting digital rights to their publishers until industry standards are worked out in terms of the nature of digital comics work (separate book, derivative work) and how authors will be rewarded for the sale of such works in light of various pricing issues. You can see -- and translate -- a document with the bulk of those names here; the initial document that went out with 14 comics creators including Cyril Pedrosa and Olivier Jouvray can be found in PDF form here.
 
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Go, Look: Peter Parker #4 Cover

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posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: It's The Advertising

* the leviathan that seems to be making itself known to the army officers ringed around the shadow and dust of the print newspaper's near-collapse the last few years is looking more and more like the Great Beast Of Falling Advertising Revenues. The thinking here is that above and beyond any kind of new media development or a shift in consumption habits or loss of readership confidence the most important factor in the struggle of newspapers to make ends meet is that they used to have a monopoly on a certain kind of advertising, or at least to a certain percentage of it: they don't have that anymore. Editor & Publisher reports that 2009 advertising revenues fell to mid-1980s levels last year, falling under $25 billion and representing a 28.6 percent drop. Moreover, the losses are accelerating after a 2007 when they were 9.4 percent down and a 2008 in which they fell 17.7 percent. While there are certainly industries that can operate with $25 billion in one of their revenue streams, the severity of the drops will continue to wreak havoc on an infrastructure designed to function at a certain size unless it bottoms out at some point. This is one of the reasons I think you could see some newspapers culling their comics sections in severe fashion: for many publication, the money is simply not there.

* so what about on-line models, as perhaps exemplified by the conversion of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer into an on-line publication? This profile puts a cheery face on what seems to me some pretty dire analysis: the paper didn't come close to meeting its revenue goals during the honeymoon period, those revenue goals seem super-modest and not indicative of the paper's full operation (that's a hunch on my part, reading between the lines), and the paper in moving on-line hasn't come close to matching the print newspaper's devotion to hard news and is in fact favored the kind of first-person blogging and lifestyle stunts you can get in a lot of places. I've been as hard as anyone on the failure of traditional newspaper models to match bottom-line production to dollars spent, but this doesn't sound like an alternative way of news-gathering; it sounds like an alternative to news-gathering.
 
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Go, Look: Engloruorioues Masktards

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posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
This Twilight Thing May Be Popular

imagePreviously measured in such terms as box office performance, mentions of its stars on entertainment shows relative to that box office performance and the number of tour buses hitting Forks, Washington, the Twilight phenomenon extended into a new area of proclaimed public relevance by moving 66,000 copies of a comics version drawn by Korean artist Young Kim. Publisher Yen Press declared this a record, and there's no reason to doubt them. While the sales were only 1 in 60 over the same period of the movie spin-off of the Stephanie Meyer novel, comics works according to a different scale. One interesting thing that popped up was a comics culture-centric criticism of the ham-fisted lettering techniques, meaning that it was noticed by folks with more of a comics background rather than it being a complaint that erupted from the more general readership of the book. It's also the kind of craft thing that under almost any circumstances wouldn't have a big enough effect on the reading experience to damage initial sales, but could conceivably have an effect on how big a hit the book becomes as the series progresses.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Awesome Hospital

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

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Go, Look: Land Of The Lost

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Go, Look: Marvel Feature #4

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Go, Look: Popeye Vs. Bluto

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Go, Look: You Know How It Is 02

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Go, Look: Lair Of The Horned Man

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* President Obama is like Reagan!

image* super-villain team-up: Julia Wertz and Johnny Ryan. Doing children's book parodies.

* Bob Temuka imagines the end of comics and finds himself not too sad over such an option, at least from a pretty rigorous creative standpoint. I think there's something to be gleaned from here about these companies over-publishing, for sure; except in one or two cases these aren't the greatest concept and it just doesn't make sense from a long-term resource management standpoint to have folks cranking out more adventures for the Teen Titans when they could be working on something else less tired.

* we're down to the last week of on-line voting for the Eisners. You should really go and vote if you haven't.

* go here to stare at a nice charity piece by Stan Sakai.

* if you start here and follow the links you'll see a bunch of artists doing scenes from movies. I think. (via)

* the writer and comics historian Mark Evanier responds to the folks that are rumbling about starting a creator-focused convention to run at the same time as Comic-Con International.

* finally, Robot 6 tracks a rumor that Paul Pope's Battling Boy may end up in on-line serialization. I think I remember a Paul Pope blog post where he pined for the days of print serialization while wrestling a bit with this project, so maybe that's related.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Angel Medina!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Matthew Brady!

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Quick hits
Craft
The Brain Zoo
Atom Logo Study 03
Sam Henderson Sketches

History
Mickey Mouse Magazine Ad
What The Hell Is Going On Here?
Imhotep Was Not A Standard-Looking White Guy

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Fred Van Lente
TCJ: Benjamin Marra
CBR: Jonathan Hickman
Newsarama: John Cassaday
Comics Alliance: Evan Dorkin

Not Comics
A Bracket Of Her Own
No Half-Orcs Need Apply
Send Graeme To The Library
Where The Obsession Came From

Publishing
Black Blizzard!
Biomega Enthused Over
Iron Man Covers For Some Project I Don't Understand

Reviews
Brian Heater: Almost Silent
Timothy Callahan: New Avengers #63
Greg Burgas: Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 2
Sean T. Collins: The Last Lonely Saturday
Grant Goggans: Essential Avengers Vol. 7
Marc-Oliver Frisch: Indomitable Iron Man #1
Michael C. Lorah: Mysterius The Unfathomable
Greg McElhatton: Splendid Magic Of Penny Arcade
RC Harvey: Dominic Fortune: It Can Happen Here And Now
 

 
March 24, 2010


Three Great Cartoonist-Style Signatures

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suggested by Ben Schwartz
 
posted 6:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* In breaking news -- meaning it popped up in my inbox 10 minutes before this post rolled out -- Fantagraphics has signed an agreement with Rick Marschall to create and run a new imprint for the company called Marschall Books. This imprint will be devoted to the historically compelling comics, cartoons and humor efforts in which Marschall is a widely-acknowledged, longtime expert. Tons of information in the press release here.

* Fantagraphics has one of those photo-description-video-pdf previews up for the first volume of its Roy Crane reprint series. He is the source for action in comics, the Douglas Fairbanks Sr. of funnybook lickety-whop, and these books should be a blast. (image at top)

* Daryl Cagle's on-line syndicate turns 10. That's an idea that was way before its time at its inception. Heck, given the incremental, leviathan-like crawl of the newspaper industry, Cagle's operation is still ahead of its time.

image* CBR previews the forthcoming Daren White and Eddie Campbell collaboration The Playwright.

* Fantagraphics published a couple of cover images for forthcoming books on their blog just after I posted last week's "Bundled": Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest and Johnny Ryan's Angry Youth Comix Vol. 3. Speaking of Fanta books, I always enjoy these Jeff Smith covers for the Our Gang reprints.

* the writer J. Torres talks to PW about a repackaging of his Alison Dare material he did with J. Bone from a publisher with the frightening appellation of Tundra.

* I'm not really good with the superhero stuff, and those dopey "I'm an Avenger" silhouettes and their joke equivalents have both more than worn out their welcome and never should have been treated by anybody as straight-up news in the first place, but I guess it's worth noting that Robert Kirkman is going to band together elements of his sprawling Invincible universe into something of a team book. Kirkman has been working through a lot of projects lately, and not all of them feel like hits. This one seems like something safely within his sweet spot, though. As for the original Avengers, I guess retailers are going to get a flat-out, potentially terrifying snootful of them starting this summer.

* veteran Paws Inc. contributor Brett Koth is launching his own strip through Creators, Diamond Lil. You can keep clicking through to a number of links worth consuming if this news interests you.

* the writer Warren Ellis provides a look at the fourth paper volume of his Freakangels project with Paul Duffield, one of the higher-profile and simply conceived web and print projects going. Ellis also notes the existence of a one-volume collection of his NextWAVE series with Stuart Immonen, which was a funny, clever series you might want to have under one cover.

* in case you missed it, Salon dropped Tom The Dancing Bug after a 15-year relationship.

* Captain Underpants will appear in a series four graphic novels; the first one will have a print run of one million, which is actually a modest estimate given the success of the original series.

* here's something that Brigid Alverson caught that I sure didn't: Meredith Gran of Octopus Pie is really pushing for sales through her own site, citing economic reasons. I haven't seen anyone do this with quite that language, although selling to your mailing list and at show and through one's site and to one's friends is pretty common for all authors. Although maybe I'm reading it wrong, this sounds much closer to a vote of no-confidence in seeing a decent return from the release of the book through the standard sales infrastructure of bookstores and on-line retailers, which is a different thing altogether.

* Sean T. Collins profiles the launch of the alt-comics tabloid pood, and expresses doubt that anyone would want to read news comics on newsprint given any other choice.

* Marvel takes baby steps towards publishing Marvelman/Miracleman, the superhero whose kryptonite is a legal brief.

* IDW's latest licensed franchise will be Jurassic Park. Guys, I'm telling you, I'm sitting on multiple issues of potential Eisner-winning Sapphire and Steel storylines here. We can make this happen.

* the writer Graeme McMillan was let go from the science fiction blog-driven site io9, which means I don't have to go to io9 anymore. Their loss: I thought he did good work for them. I look forward to seeing McMillan's by-line on more specifically comics-focused sites, like this one.

* finally, the timing was really bad on this one, but if you haven't read the publishing news announcement for Lynda Barry's Picture This (cover image below), you really should take the time to do so right now.

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Go, Read: Hayao Miyazaki's Comic The Age Of The Flying Boat

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my apologies to whomever had this first
 
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Peter Brookes Wins Cartoonist BPA

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Peter Brookes was named cartoonist of the year at the 2010 British Press Awards, held last night at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Brookes was one of four winners from The Times in a night where the strongest overall showing was apparently enjoyed by The Daily Telegraph. You can go here for a Brooke slideshow, including one of the cuter American health care passage cartoons I've seen. I like how straight-forward his cartoons tend to be; it makes necessary strong punchlines -- if you're not going to be blunt and insightful, you're just piping up like any ol' dumb person.
 
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Go, Follow: Manifestation

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Your 2009 NNA Cartoonist Finalists

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Terry "Aislin" Mosher (Montreal Gazette), Brian Gable (Globe and Mail) and Malcolm Mayes (Edmonton Journal) will vie for top dog in the editorial cartooning category of the National Newspaper Awards to be announced mid-May. The awards have been given out since 1949, and receiving the honor seems to be a first-graph-of-obituary honor for many of its recipients.

Aislin's submissions included the above cartoon, about a humorous situation arising from a breach of etiquette by US First Lady Michelle Obama when meeting Queen Elizabeth -- the kind of thing that makes many people with some relationship to a queen hold their breath but no one in the US notices. Anyway, he makes a compelling point in the article at the above link about how cartooning has become deeply responsive to recurring imagery that gains a foothold via social media and through more traditional media channels. I'm not sure that hasn't always been true, and an upswing in responsiveness to such imagery and its resultant impact seems worth serious consideration.
 
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Go, Look: A Life In The Day

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RSF Makes Request To Sri Lankan President On Behalf Of Cartoonist and Journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda

Although it feels like something they'd know would fall on deaf ears, the Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontiers made an appeal to the office of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to put his weight behind finding -- or at this point, finding what happened to -- cartoonist and journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. Ekneligoda has been missing for two months, and was believed kidnapped on the even of presidential elections. This is the first article I've seen to publish a counter-explanation from government officials: that Ekneligoda staged his own disappearance to embarrass the certain-to-be-incoming president.
 
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Go, Look: Darwyn Cooke Watercolors

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Go, Read: Ace Backwords Helped

The cartoonist and street-level living advocate Ace Backwords is the subject of a San Francisco Chronicle profile, detailing how his friends have encouraged him to apply for some measure of aid to help with recent eyesight losses. The article paints a pretty clear picture of what's going on. Backwords has always been an intriguing talent, marrying some of the best expressive and even transgressive elements of the underground tradition with an alt-culture era nod towards community and relentless self-examination.

What's striking is that he's 53, which I think makes his plight of another, ongoing story, the potential tidal wave of cartoonists and comics folk who never worked in a kind of corporate set-up that was rewarding enough to gain a foothold of the kind that's useful when physical maladies set in, artists that spent that time working for publishers or for infrastructures that fade more quickly than most. It's something worth keeping in mind as a community and an industry.
 
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Go, Look: Four Color #77

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

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Go, Look: The Gorbals Vampire Myth

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Not Comics: The Fairy Circus

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Go, Look: Introducing Mr. Morse

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Go, Read: Iron Jaw #3

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* what Mike Sterling considers the perfect comic. I think it's a really good all-ages adventure comic with a lot of craft elements to recommend it, and it's obviously a pop-culture item with which to be reckoned, so count me on board.

image* Ray Olson picks the best 10 graphic novels to come out since March 15, 2009, although most of them are from 2009 and I'd argue Footnotes In Gaza was, too.

* Graeme McMillan looks at the "Cover Version" concept.

* longtime Marvel editor Tom Brevoort names a few of the company's more prominent extended storyline sagas.

* so I guess some artists are agitating for a Creator-Con alternative to Comic-Con, apparently out of some frustrations with the show. I'm actually stunned that no one's ever tried to just put on a focused show near CCI during that weekend. I don't even see it as a sure sign that people are angry with Comic-Con, as I bet a lot of people would enjoy doing both. I wouldn't spend time going to see a bunch of not-interesting cartoonists, but I'd make the time to go see some good ones if they were nearby. Why not? I plan on shopping at Quimby's during the Chicago Con. One problem I see is that the people who end up trying this have no money whatsoever, because a lot of the stuff that I would imagine working -- honoring CCI badges, for instance -- kind of cut into maximizing the dollar.

* this is beautiful.

image* Sean T. Collins offers a round-up of comics people and the television show Lost.

* Calista Brill expresses her love for The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck.

* Bad-Ass, The Newest X-Man.

* Jeet Heer with more smart talk on word balloons.

* finally, this interview with Ted Adams was described to me as a victory lap for IDW gaining premier status with Diamond, but if you don't get a victory lap for breaking into that club, no one ever gets a victory lap.
 
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Go, Look: Three By Richard Thompson

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Quick hits
Craft
Cute
Slo-Mo
Sasquatch Fight
Atom Logo Study 02

Exhibits/Events
Emerald City Comic Con Report

History
The Good Artists
New Syndicate (1930)
Sam Henderson's First Published Work
RC Harvey On Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson

Interviews/Profiles
Robot 6: Matt Thorn
Forward: Jules Feiffer
Newsarama: Sterling Gates, James Robinson

Not Comics
How One Radpresents
RO Blechman Animation
Thinking About Comics Through Statues

Publishing
What Is O.M.I.T.?
Criminal Vol. 5 Out
Haunt #1 Available For Free
Ted Rall Makes Afghanistan Push
License Rescuing Is Not Dumpster Diving

Reviews
Rich Kreiner: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Thirteen
Mark Frauenfelder: Hicksville
Marc Sobel: Super Spy Vol. 2
Various Writers, Various Reviews
Brian Warmoth: Detective Comics #853
Peter Richardson: It Was The War Of The Trenches
 

 
March 23, 2010


Two New Staffers Added To CBLDF

imageVia press release comes word that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has added a Development Manager and a Operations Manager to its management team. Cheyenne Allott will take on the Development Manger position, which will place her front and center in the organizations' fund raising activities. Brady Bonney takes the Operations Manager position, which means he'll run the office, the web store and various office interrelationships with a goal towards greater overall effectiveness. Both are veterans of the comics industry in the Pacific Northwest: Allot from Dark Horse Comics; Bonney from Things From Another World. Both new hires will report to longtime Executive Director Charles Brownstein, who promises additional moves in 2010 to increase the organization's size and scope.
 
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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 no-doubt 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 crossing off in my bracket the winners and losers among the following:

*****

JAN100072 THE GUILD #1 (OF 3) CARY NORD CVR $3.50
NOV090385 KING CITY #6 (MR) $2.99
DEC090413 ORC STAIN #2 (MR) $2.99
JAN100570 CAPTAIN AMERICA #604 $3.99
JAN100613 UNCANNY X-MEN #522 $3.99
JAN100700 GLAMOURPUSS #12 $3.00
FEB100834 ROBERT JORDAN WHEEL OF TIME #1 $3.99
A bunch of serial comics with interesting things to offer, even if I'm not certain I'd buy any of them were I in the store. The Guild features the unlikely team of Felicia Day and Jim Rugg; King City and Orc Stain are the prime, must appealingly idiosyncratic offerings from the pleasure-from-drawing side of the Image catalog; Brubaker and Fraction offer up solid variations on successful Marvel formulaic approaches in Captain America and Uncanny X-Men; Glamourpuss reaches an unlike 12th issue, and a series adapting Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time begins, which I'm guessing will have to be 15,000 issues long.

DEC090043 BOOK OF GRICKLE HC $17.99
DEC090040 WONDERMARK TP VOL 03 DAPPER CAPS & PEDAL-COPTERS $16.99
Two strong offerings from Dark Horse this month firmly in the alt-comics camp: the vastly under-appreciated Graham Annable, years after a run of mostly great books at Alternative failed to get him all the way over, and the latest in David Malki's successful collections of his webcomic.

NOV090179 NEWSBOY LEGION BY SIMON AND KIRBY HC VOL 01 $49.99
OCT090600 THOR TALES OF ASGARD BY LEE & KIRBY COIPEL CVR HC $29.99
NOV090689 DONALD DUCK CLASSICS HC VOL 01 QUACK UP $24.99
Multiple worthy collections of older material. The Newsboy Legion material is fascinating, much more sophisticated and self-aware just a few years into the superhero genre than I was ever led to belief. Plus you get a Joe Simon introduction instead of mine, which kind of sucked. You can make an argument that the material in the Tales of Asgard collection comprises the third best comic that Marvel made during its 1960s heyday. I also can't recall this material being collected in quite this way before. I have no idea what's in the Donald Duck book, but Barks is always worth checking out.

FEB101095 120 DAYS OF SIMON GN (MR) $14.95
FEB101094 HEY PRINCESS GN (MR) $14.95
Top Shelf's Swedish invasion hits American shores. The first is a book about Simon Gardenfors' attempt to live 120 days away from home without staying in the same place twice, kind of like that recent Ted Rall book with much less creepy. Hey Princess I think is straight-ahead young person autobio of the kind that doesn't come out as much as some rabid critics of anything not in a cape and jockstrap would have you believe.

DEC090958 ON THE ODD HOURS GN $14.95
Another translation from a series of graphic albums featuring stories related to the Louvre, I think Eric Liberge's story is about a man who takes an after-hours job with the museum when it's revealed to him that the work has mythic resonance. Even if I'm not right, I know I'm correctly noting that it sure is pretty.

JAN101198 WACKY PACKAGES NEW NEW NEW HC $19.95
I think this is a sequel to the previous Wacky Packages book, which means more series of these cards that offers up the day-job work of some of the great, later-period underground cartoonists.

JAN101200 ART OF JAIME HERNANDEZ SECRETS OF LIFE & DEATH HC $40.00
I've been dying to get my hands on this book, which seems like it was a delayed a few times announcement to publication. Jaime Hernandez draws like Aaron Neville sings and Usain Bolt runs.

FEB100869 BLACK BLIZZARD GN $19.95
Yoshihiro Tatsumi's crime comic, another one I'm dying to see. It feels like a great bonus release rather than a super-, super-, super-necessary book, which excites me all the more.

JAN100950 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC VOL 13 1975-1976 $28.99
There's a really fine appreciation for Robert Smigel here; funny, too. The work in this period is better than you may remember, and you'll see at least 50 strips you would have assigned to a more obvious "golden period."

*****

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, that's because I am in the grips of March Madness. Go, Northern Iowa!

*****

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Go, Look: Up Your Nose

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John Hicklenton, 1967-2010

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The blog at Forbidden Planet International is reporting that artist John Hicklenton has passed away. The news originated with the 2000 AD forums and has since been confirmed. Hicklenton was afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, and his struggle against MS had become well-known in the UK creative community and more widely through the documentary Here's Johnny.

imageHicklenton collaborated with writer Pat Mills after initially contacting the writer directly, looking for work. He worked with Mills on runs of the Nemesis the Warlock and Third World War series in the late '80s and early '90s. Work on the Judge Dredd character in Judge Dredd Megazine followed in addition to a number of short works throughout. In the late 1990s he provided the art for a four-issue, Pat Mills-written Dark Horse series called ZombieWorld: Tree of Death, working as John Deadstock. That series was later collected as part of 2005's ZombieWorld: Winter's Dregs.

Hicklenton employed an art style slightly off-center from established commercial norms, but one that offered compensations in terms of meticulous rendering and a sense of visceral character design that would have served the artist well in a number of genres. Grant Goggans, a critic with a special interest in the British comics industry where Hicklenton made his career, told CR that the artist impressed him on taking over from Bryan Talbot on Nemesis in the 1980s and didn't stop. "Hicklenton specialized in wild-eyed madmen with clenched teeth and heads set at awkward angles, and stories set in the ruins of urban decay. His Mega-City One was not a place of futuristic wonder, but crumbling basements and black, black sewers. His work could be very challenging and deliberately confrontational, and not just in the way he could obscure traditional panel transitions and storytelling by forcing background elements and shadow into play, but in the way his monsters, demons and aliens didn't look like comic book creatures. They looked like genuine nightmares."

In 2000, Hicklenton received a diagnosis of MS following years of aches, pains and weaknesses for which doctor could find no direct cause. In an interview with the Telegraph given in 2008, he described how he learned he had the disease in almost blunt, comical terms. The occasion of the interview was his participation in the documentary Here's Johnny, which won two Grierson Awards that year. According to this review, the documentary tracks the artist's growing debilitation and his anger towards the remove at which he and other sufferers are treated by the medical establishment.

Hicklenton continued to draw, and had at least one major credit in the late 2000s, a story called "Blood of Satanus III: The Tenth Circle," again with Pat Mills for Judge Dredd Megazine. This was in 2007. He was also working on a project called Sand for a group called Renegade arts entertainment. An interview in 2000 AD Review revealed a thoughtful artist enthusiastic about the comics medium, happy to be (as he described it) "a grafter working in the basement," and a fan of runs of work on the various 2000 AD characters that might have fallen slightly out of favor. He described as his own strengths his painting. Mentioning that he was slightly put off by descriptions of his comics as violent, he admitted he found compelling that element of his work.
... I think violence is fascinating. I've seen someone beaten half to death, and I was very disturbed by it. I can't watch operations and if I have an injection I have to look away. If it's real, then I can empathize with the suffering there. But I sometimes get frustrated with the reactions when I do violent stuff. There's some good gory stuff in Satanus, but it's just fantasy. No one's suffering except me... and Claire (John's wife). It's not real, but I think that every human being, if we're honest, is fascinated with the power, viscera and beauty of violence because of its purity.
In an initial statement, longtime collaborator Pat Mills called Hicklenton "A great artist and a true hero."

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Go, Bookmark: Bruce Wayne Sketches

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* there seems to be some confusion over whether US authorities have yet to make a decision about how much access to provide Indian law enforcement and security official to David Coleman Headley or if they've made at least a summary decision over how much access is to be allowed.

* the Rotterdam newspaper Algemeen Dagblad denies that it removed a reproduction of the cartoon from the artist Lars Wilks depicting Muhammad's head on a dog's body in an article on a conspiracy to kill the artist because of pressure from radical Muslims. Instead, the paper suggests that after an internal review they found the reproduction inappropriate to the content of the article in question.

* I thought this was a pretty good summary piece on the Lars Vilks situation, just as the majority of the accused conspirators against the artists were released.
 
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Go, Read: Jules Feiffer Interview

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Salon Drops Tom The Dancing Bug

The cartoonist Ruben Bolling announced yesterday at his blog that the online magazine Salon has canceled his long-running feature, Tom The Dancing Bug. That cancellation took effect immediately.

imageBolling's strip has run in Salon since the pioneering web magazine's inception in 1995. Bolling reported in his statement that he was told that the strip was dropped because of "severe budget constraints." Given that Bolling's strip has been a signature feature for as long as it has and still places high on the top features list through to the last strip run, severe would seem to be the applicable term.

Bolling also expressed gratitude for Salon and made public his desire to find a new web site home for the strip.

The feature will continue either way. "Losing Salon does not affect Tom The Dancing Bug's financial viability," Bolling told CR. "I wasn't on staff, or paid some exorbitant fee; they paid a syndication-type fee that can't make or break a feature." Bolling's biggest regret is in how well the strip did over the years with Salon in terms of how many readers enjoyed the comics through that publication. "[T]here was a great relationship between Tom The Dancing Bug and Salon's readers -- which is why it was consistently one of the site's most-read features -- and I'm hoping I'll be able to replace that."

Bolling says that he is listening to offers for a new web site home for the strip, which is also syndicated.

This Modern World is at the moment I'm writing this Salon's final surviving strip. Keith Knight announced his break with the publication in early February.

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Go, Buy: Lavender Diamond Art Sale

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Portland Press Efforts Need Cash

Dylan Williams has sent along a missive from the Portland 'Zine Symposium announcing their fund raising drive. I'm not familiar with the organization, not even a little bit, but Williams is an upstanding member of the comics community and I'd tend to take him at his word that this is a worthwhile group. Oddly, T. Edward Bak, another fine Portland-area cartoonist, has written in imploring people to join the Independent Publishing Resource Center, another group with which I have no personal familiarity but sounds great. It seems to me a lot of groups having suffered through 18 months of severe Recession are going to start coming up dry in terms of regular fund raising goals, so I'd keep an eye out on such organizations in your area.
 
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Go, Look: Dave Cockrum Covers

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please note the usual Cockrum family-related information at the bottom of the post
 
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Your 2010 National Headliner Award Comics Division Winner, Runners-Up

Alan Gardner caught that veteran editorial cartoonist Mike Peters of the Dayton Daily News won the National Headliner Award in the category of editorial cartooning. Placing second was Dana Summers of the Orlando Sentinel and placing third was Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The awards program has been around since 1935, and were founded by the Press Club of Atlantic City. Breen is among many past winners.
 
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Go, Look: Killer Gorillas

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Go, Look: Tubby #4

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Go, Look: You Know How It Is

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Nobody Loved Sovereign Seven

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I remember reading the entire series and in the last issue still not being able to tell characters apart
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I wasn't aware of this corner of EC history at all.

image* Dan Nadel unearths a piece of writing from Russ Manning advocating for the publisher Dell. Dan's right that a lot of the activism on behalf of publishers not named Marvel or DC has to be reconsidered in terms of what we now know about some of those great comics.

* this supporting character single elimination tournament is awfully cute, although I just know Richard Rory is going to take right in the shorts on this one. Richard Rory is very underrated -- he's exactly halfway between the creepy perpetual grad student version of Rick Jones and Ed Begley Jr. If I were running the Marvel Universe, every single time a male superhero became romantically interested in a female supporting character, she'd be dating Richard Rory.

* I enjoyed this blog posting from Craig Thompson about some of the Habibi pages he's going back and re-doing. The glimpses of this book are really pretty.

* someone needs to use this cool painting of Superwoman to play a prank on the fanboys about the direction of the Nolan/Goyer revamp of the Superman movie series.

* not comics: I did not know of this Moomin movie, although considering how obsessively various sites followed the Captain America casting, I wouldn't mind if from now on my only knowledge of the movie industry came from the lighted sign outside my local theater.

* it never occurred to me to see this cartoon as a statement on Sarah Palin's sex life. I just figured Oliphant was portraying her life as a lunatic, overheated soap opera and generally being rude to her.

* Archie sales from 2009.

* I don't know if you like Mitch O'Connell's work or not, but he writes hilarious blog post headings.

* not comics: it's great to hear about a bunch of cartoonists devoting time to the USO. Speaking of which, this image from Gene Ha is both lovely-looking and for a lovely-sounding cause.

* I'm not sure what the problem is with full frontal nudity in Emma when it comes to that being a book for teenagers: when I was a teenager, I loved full frontal nudity.

* Noah Berlatsky and gang look at definitional issues, with an all-star chorus of people commenting in the comments thread. At least that's what Noah tells me, I haven't been over there yet.

* Dean Haspiel is profiled and steals my idea for a new Comics Reporter banner logo.

* best wishes to Evan Dorkin on a medical procedure.

* finally, Johanna Draper Carlson digs into the psychology with which legality issues may be regarded vis-a-vis scanlation sites.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Shelton Drum!

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Happy 55th Birthday, KAL!

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Quick hits
Craft
Flower
Atom Logos
Rick Veitch Sketches Swampy
Scott McCloud On Thought Balloons

Exhibits/Events
Chris Butcher Is Going To Comic-Con

History
Best Picture Ever?
Right Now In Comics
Happy 96 Years And One Day, John Stanley!

Industry
BSU To Honor Jim Davis

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: CC Colbert
CBR: Mike Mignola 01
Wired: James Kochalka
Sequential Tart: Von Allan
War Rocket Ajax: Tom Fowler
Talking Comics With Tim: Kat Roberts

Publishing
RASL Vol. 7 Previewed
Please Publish This Awesome Comic

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Richard Bruton: Bone
Sean T. Collins: Black Hole
Andrew Wheeler: Kimmie66
Bill Sherman: Mikansei No. 1
Bill Sherman: On The Odd Hours
Grant Goggans: Vworp! Vworp! #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Toy Story #1-2
Greg McElhatton: American Vampire #1
Andrew Wheeler: Captain Britain and MI:13 Vol. 1
Tanya Lee Stone: Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean
Craig Fischer: The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion
Ed Sizemore: The Girl Who Runs Through Time Vols. 1-2
 

 
March 22, 2010


Post Health Care, Modern Political Apparatus Moves To Ripping Mark Millar A New One

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Okay, it's really just Spencer Ackerman giving over his blog to another writer, but it still struck me as odd that we get an entire column today on how Mark Millar sucks. (thx, everyone)
 
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OTBP: ASIFA-Hollywood's 101 Beautiful Engravings By Gustave Dore

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William Charles "Bill" Jaaska, 1961-2009

imageA variety of on-line sources have concluded then confirmed Bill Jaaska, a comics artist who broke into the field in the late 1980s through independent publishers Eclipse and First before moving on to various jobs with mainstream comics publishers passed away late last year.

Jaaska broke into comics providing art on stories featuring various iconic characters of the 1980s independent comics movement: Judah Maccabee, Jon Sable, Skywolf and Scout. His three most high profile jobs with the major mainstream comics publishers were a run on New Titans that included a pair of issues written by the late artist, a partnership with Peter David on Incredible Hulk that resulted in the fondly remembered Crazy Eight capital punishment issue (#380), and providing art to the early Dark Horse cross-media efforts Terminator: Hunters and Killer and Terminator: Rewired. David wrote of their collaboration in 1991: "Bill Jaaska's art was so effective that, by the time we got to the electrocution sequence, I had become so fond of the character that I was sorry she was going to die."

imageJaaska also provided work to the X-Men, Checkmate and Turok comics, although never catching on with the kind of lengthy run through which careers are firmly established. He apparently left comics behind in the mid- to late-'90s.

In 2004, another of his fondly-remembered single-issue stories on the Hulk title, "Rhino Plastered," was reprinted in that year's issue of Marvel Holiday Special.

In 2005, Jaaska's art was employed in a DVD that combined the Terminator: Hunters and Killers with voice actor talent to create one of the first motion comics efforts -- notable in that the Terminator comics on which Jaaska worked were already pioneering in terms a certain, serious approach that characterizes the current revitalization of licensed comics at such companies as Dark Horse.

"I had always thought that Bill had moved on to bigger and better things and was stunned to learn of his passing," Peter David told CR "I've always felt the that the issues of Incredible Hulk that he worked on were among the most memorable of the series. He had a unique art style and I think it's tragic that he didn't have all the work he could handle and more."

Jaaska's sister speaks in lovely fashion to how surviving family members discovered their loved one's death here and here. His last known location appears to have been the Milwaukee, Wisconsin rooming house in which he was found, alone.
 
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Go, Look: Amruta Patil Interviewed

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard comments on David Coleman Headley's guilty plea. Westergaard was targeted in the Mickey Mouse Plot; Headley's plea included admission of an intent to do harm against Westergaard.

* the Sri Lanka Guardian goes over the plea documents and shares the new information. It looks like the attack on the Jyllands-Posten building was to be a multiple-person suicide bombing to be coordinated by Headley.

* while Headley will not be extradited to India to face charges in their court for scouting out what would become the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Indian officials will continue to have access to him.

* other reports suggest, however, that India won't give up on extradition any time soon.

* just to break it away from Headley for at least one item, here's an update on plans to sue western newspapers.
 
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Go, Look: Will Eisner's Humans

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On The Failures Of The Current Comics Periodicals Market

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I've been writing about the idea of periodical comic books as habitual entertainment since 1995, and I think anyone who has ever been in the habit of buying comics that way would agree to me that reliable, weekly nature of the experience is a significant factor for the way they buy or the way they're aware other people buy. Maybe both. My personal experience has always been that many weekly, Direct Market comics-shoppers have a split impulse that fuels what they take home: they buy and follow certain comics or characters or creators, but they also facilitate for themselves a comics-reading experience that in many cases involves matching a rough or even set amount of money. Usually the two overlap.

To state this another way: while I admit content-only comics buying could be the case with some people, literally none of the comics shoppers I've known in Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Seattle and New Mexico employed a rigid, content-driven buying strategy that would have them comfortably buying one comic one week and eleven the next week. If a week was stuffed with comics they liked my friends and acquaintances might buy them all but they also might just buy the ones they really, really liked. If the week was light on comics they enjoyed, they might try something new, settle for something they sort of liked but was reliably there, or buy books they passed on from a previous stuffed week.

imageIt's anecdotal evidence, sure, but it's twenty years since I started paying some attention to it. There's a ton of factors I don't understand at all that also come to bear: I don't know or understand premium cover collectors, for instance. Like as human beings I don't understand them. I don't know any "I will buy every issue of X-Men even when it hurts" customers, mostly because I stopped buying comics in comics shops before the publishers turned this into a real pressure point, transforming a custom into a dare. I also have to imagine that everything is different for the folks spending $200-$400 a week in regular fashion. Hell, the insides of their cars probably smell different. But to deny any effect to this very specific and peculiar way certain comic books are sold in North America seems to me the kind of thing you can only do in some goofy Internet argument you refuse to lose.

Brian Hibbs touches on this issue and a few more in this recent CBR piece; I think it's a good one to read if you want to understand the modern comics periodicals market from someone on the front lines.

imageHis solutions are all reasonably compelling. I endorse his general logic that if you want to serve a certain kind of customer, you should do your best not to trip over your own feet while serving them, or, you know, directly antagonize them. At least one of Brian's solutions involve a closer reading of comics than I'd be comfortable putting forward. I have no idea if people are favoring one kind of storytelling experience over another, if Armless Speedy (didn't read) is more popular than Brainless Iron Man (read and enjoyed) or what, but I would generally leave that part in the publisher's hands (and in fact, a more systemic problem may be that there's almost no penalty for creating work that's fallen out of favor). Where I might break with Brian is that nearly all of his solutions are about making the current set-up work more effectively, and that runs the risk of keeping the system sort-of broken, or at least skewed. I would suggest to Brian that many of the things for which he advocates more generally, or for which others have long advocated, might also have an effect on better serving the current audience. Here's a few that occur to me on a Monday morning.

1) More stores. Brian uses a drug metaphor to describe the haphazard week-to-week scheduling of the mainstream comics companies being akin to cutting the product with way too much baby powder. I'm more of a Barksdale: I think having more corners would be a good thing, too. I think this might be true even in changing behavior at the existing points of sale. The one thing that we know from the numbers is that more accounts selling comics means more comics sold, even when many of the accounts are crappy. The mainstream comic book industry has potentially pissed away most of a big opportunity to restore its coverage map in an economy that actually favors the pursuit of franchising and small-business opportunities. With a bunch more stores, there's a chance -- a very small chance, but a chance -- that the publishers with a goal of selling two copies of a Wolverine comic will reorient themselves from selling customer A copies of two different comics and selling the same comic to customers A and B. Although it's not something anyone wants to talk about I think that the price point of digital initiatives and a potential greater attention to expenditures that may come from increased corporate attention could be a factor in this, too.

2) Break the back issues market. I think a big chunk of the back-issues market is made-up, exploitative bullshit that leads to a lot of dead pulp lying around. I suspect many stores would be better off in a culture where we treated the vast bulk of used comic books as used books with a higher grind and turnover than as a dubious, strongly asserted commodity they may or may not be able to cash in on at some point. If you want people in the habit of coming into the shops, creatively giving them a reason to show up that has nothing to do with the capriciousness of new comics, that works for a lot more comics fans than I think people imagine. It can also help your entry-point problem. If DVD rental companies worked like comics shops, Netflix would charge $16 to rent Dutch.

3) Incentivize Non-Mainstream Periodicals. I'm no longer a comic shop customer. I was a really good comic shop customer. I came in every week, I spent a significant amount of my discretionary income at these shops. I tried new comics suggested to me by my retailers. I recommended my shops to people. Today, there's almost no periodical work I'm interested in buying that actually appears in comic shops, even when I have months of pent-up demand working in my favor. Were it not for homework and friends, I'd spend less on periodical comics now than I spent in two weeks back in 1991, when comics were much cheaper.

Rather than boiling off layers and layers of comics fans over the years, why not try and restore a reason for those who love them to get back in the exciting habit of buying these comics again? Why wouldn't you want these customers, too? I'm of the mind that as much as the Direct Market did to drive those comics right out of existence, the Direct Market could also work to restore them if it wanted. You could directly target such publications with discounts, although other market agents would likely set their hair on fire and run through the streets if this were done. But even modest programs that, say, excused all publishers with ten-years of standing in the market the freedom to do comic books without being held to Diamond sales minimums until some traction were gained, or a program by which the releases from certain publishers were coordinated so as not to dump them all at once but encourage weekly visits from that kind of customer, these would be easy to do and might help. I would assume that there are better solutions than what I can come up with at 7:20 AM on a Monday morning. But whatever gets tried, it would have to be better than doing nothing.

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Go, Look: Beautiful Alex Nino

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That List Of Webcomics From Sunday

Thanks to the phenomenon known as "insomnia," aka "the crushing worries of existence, nestled at bedside," what follows is an alphabetical, standardized version of the list of current webcomics produced by CR readers on Friday evening.

Although even I can think of a lot of great strips that no one mentioned, I think it's a pretty good list, and only three made me want to build a time machine to go back to caveman times and find some way to destroy mankind's artistic impulse. And then only for a few seconds. Mostly, there's a lot on even this admittedly very standard list with which I wasn't yet familiar. Anyway, I made a folder out of open new tabs and all tabs in a folder function, and look forward to digging in. Maybe you will, too.

* 1930 Nightmare Theatre @ Dumm Comics, Kyle A. Carrozza and John Berry
* 1977 The Comic, W. Byron Wilkins

* Achewood, Chris Onstad
* A Manga Addict, Sam Mooney
* American Elf, James Kochalka
* A Softer World, E Horne and J Comeau

* Bad Machinery, John Allison
* Bear Nuts, Alison Acton
* Between Gears, Natalie Nourigat
* Brat-Halla, Jeffery Stevenson and Seth Damoose
* Briar Hollow, Terry Blas
* Bug, Adam Huber

* Cat and Girl, Dorothy Gambrell
* College Roomies From Hell!!!, Maritza Campos

* Daisy Owl, Ben Driscoll
* Dark Horse MySpace Presents
* Deadbeats, Richard Howell and Ricardo Villagran and Thom Zahler
* Diesel Sweeties, R. Stevens
* Dinosaur Comics, Ryan North
* Dresden Codak, Aaron Diaz

* Ellerbisms, Marc Ellerby
* Ellie Connelly, Indigo Kelleigh
* EmiTown, Emi Lenox
* Endtown, Aaron Neathery

* Freakangels, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield

* Girl Genius, Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio
* Girls With Slingshots, Danielle Corsetto
* Goats, Jon Rosenberg

* Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton
* Haunted, Josh Smeaton
* Heropotamus, Josh Alves

* Iron, SM Vidaurri

* John & John, , d!o
* Johnny Wander, Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota

* Kawaii Not, Meghan Murphy

* Lackadaisy, Tracy J. Butler
* Let's Be Friends Again, Curt Franklin and Chris Haley
* Liz Prince Power, Liz Prince

* Max Vs. Max, Wes Molebash
* Menage a 3, Giz and Dave Zero1
* Mugwhump the Great, Roger Langridge
* My Cardboard Life, Philippa Rice

* Nedroid Picture Diary, Anthony Clark

* Oceanverse, Michael Schwartz
* Octopus Pie, Meredith Gran

* Pajama Forest!, Evan Diaz
* Penny and Aggie, T. Campbell and Gisele Legace
* Penny Arcade, Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik
* PhD: Piled Higher & Deeper, , Jorge Cham
* Pokeweed, Drew Pocza
* PvP, Scott Kurtz

* Questionable Content, Jeph Jacques

* reMIND, Jason Brubaker

* Savage Chickens, Doug Savage
* Sheldon, Dave Kellett
* She Said, Kris Dresen
* Shortpacked!, David Willis
* Sinfest, Tatsuya Ishida
* Sin Titulo, Cameron Stewart
* Socks and Barney, Steve Conley
* Spain & Morocco, Alex Fellows
* Steve Bissette's King of Monster Isle, Steve Bissette
* Strewth, Josh Way
* SubCulture, Kevin Freeman and Stan Yan
* Supernatural Law, Batton Lash

* The Abominable Charles Christopher, Karl Kerschl
* The Bean, Trav
* The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Justin Pierce
* Tune, Derek Kirk Kim
* Toddbot.com, Todd Webb

* Wapsi Square, Paul Taylor
* Whubble, Jamie Smart
* Wondermark, David Malki

* XKCD, Randall Munroe

* Year of the Rat, Cayetano Garza Jr.

Thanks to all the readers that participated.
 
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Go, Look: Simon-Kirby Crime Story

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Go, Look: The Ghost Still Walks

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Go, Look: Blackhawk #49

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Go, Look: Cool Splash Pages

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Go, Look: Atomic Mouse #22

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the federal government is soliciting your thoughts on copyright protection. If you're a U.S. citizen, that is.

image* I'm a huge sucker for tales of pre-1980 comics conventions, so of course I lapped up this post by Steven Thompson about his early convention experiences.

* Jeet Heer brings the deep, deep nerd. Actually, it's not so bad, but the streams he's crossing are pretty atypical.

* well, that's just adorable.

* Marc-Oliver Frisch caught a funny moment from the origin story of the Man of Action collective.

* they forgot Catwoman.

* I thought Gary Tyrrell's write-up of his frustrations with the CCI/Travel Planners system was as cogent as they come, and I've added the problem with not finding out anything to my list of things to ask after.

* somehow I totally missed this Nerve feature apparently collected at Emerald City Comic Con. That's a very funny anecdote from Danielle Corsetto, although it's not one anyone's probably going to offer up at Easter dinner.

* not comics: does anyone have one of these? I'd love to see a photo. (via)

* a bunch of mainstream comics writers are apparently all becoming the same guy.

image* I have no idea why Kevin Huizenga is posting Charles Saxon cartoons to his blog, but I'm not going to complain. Saxon is one of those emblematic cartoonists from the later William Shawn era at the New Yorker, which isn't the easiest period of the magazine to appreciate and one that is even harder to love. He's also the most representative of a kind of attitude the magazine supposedly had towards suburbanites at the time, a perceived contempt that a lot of culture-watchers resented. I wonder if there isn't a lot of material for rediscovery there.

* this is the kind of thing that would figure into one of those lighthearted mystery shows on USA Network.

* I always recommend to everyone that writes about comics that they sit down with the Sunday section from their local -- or near-to-local -- paper, and see what strikes them. Here's a set of reactions from one writer doing just that thing, although not at my urging.

* this is cute, although I didn't stay for very long.

* I've disagreed with a lot of what Tim O'Neil has written recently, but the second of the two reviews here is pretty darn entertaining.

* finally, here's an art-heavy set of photos from Gilbert Hernandez's recent signing in Seattle.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Jay Stephens!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Spain!

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Quick hits
Craft
Cowboy Batman
Elijah Brubaker Sketches
Brian Fies' Giant Melon Head

Exhibits/Events
Go See A Bunch Of Toronto Artists May 5

History
The John Stanley Notebook
Double Points For The Rozakis Joke

Interviews/Profiles
Periscope: Ben Bates
Robot 6: Dave Johnson
Mike Lynch Cartoons: Trade Loeffler
The Greenwich Citizen: Jerry Dumas
The Daily Cross Hatch: Ryan Alexander Tanner

Not Comics
This Is Cute
R. Crumb Wallets
Mickey At The Microphone

Publishing
Uncanny X-Men #523 Previewed

Reviews
Michael May: Booth
Chris Sims: Various
Marc Sobel: Various
Frank Santoro: Garage Band
Sarah Boslaugh: The Reformed
Kim Thompson: Detectives, Inc.
Jesse Gernigin: The Crazies #1-4
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Spirit Archives Vol. 26
Johanna Draper Carlson: Zombie Tales: Good Eatin'
Grant Goggans: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 14
 

 
Happy 63rd Birthday, Don Markstein!

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March 21, 2010


Go, Look: Photo Of The Week

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CR reader Dan Steffan: "As I recall, you recently posted a link concerning somebody's attempt to find George McManus' house in Los Angeles. (Of course, when I went back to find that story/link, I couldn't -- but believe me, you did. Ahem.) Anyway. That story made me remember something else of a similar nature that I stumbled on a while back -- another one of McManus' homes. This time it's his house in Long Beach, NY. I think you'll find the short description as interesting as I did -- to say nothing of the nice color picture. If you didn't tender any such link or story, I apologize -- I hate that I couldn't find it -- but I think you'll find it worth your time, regardless. Have a look.

editor's note: here's that original link
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Current Weekend Comics-Related Major Media Feature News Updates

image* the New York Times digs into the Kirby Family vs. Marvel/Disney legal battle a bit, mostly by focusing on the size and scope and implications of the case, with an undercurrent of personality profile regarding Marc Toberoff. There's a bit of news to scan from it, though, and not just the hunch it shares with most comics folk that the case may turn on how exactly Kirby worked in the early '60s vs. his expectation of how he was working. To rattle them off 1-2-3: 1) Toberoff was surprised by Marvel's counter-suit, expecting a settlement offer, 2) Mark Evanier expects to testify and didn't talk to the Times (he hasn't commented on his site, either), 3) Stan Lee expects the same thing and didn't talk to the Times.

* writers better than I am have recontextualized this piece on Bryan Singer that focuses on his forthcoming X-Men movie work with a lot of background into a piece marking the 10th anniversary of that film. It's a bit scattered, but worth reading if you're into the movie business that has sprung up around comics. I still think Blade gets downplayed a bit -- it wasn't a superhero/superhero movie in the way that X-Men was, but it was a character from an obscure part of Marvel's catalog that was done with serious intent for a grateful audience that allowed it to make a lot of money.

Another thing about the X-Men movie that I think gets over-simplified is to talk about its fans as a monolithic group. By the time the movie rolled around, you had multiple generations and strata of X-Men fans: hardcore, read-it-all-along fans; several cycles of teens that read the comics for a time and then stopped (none of my fraternity brothers -- 1987-1991 -- read comics, but 90 percent knew who Wolverine was) and another series of cycles of teens that watched the cartoon versions and then stopped. Somehow the X-Men had a sizable potential audience without ever breaking out to a mass audience the way it would with the movies -- I think a lot of popular manga functions that way now, and I wouldn't be surprised if 2018's live-action Naruto film surprises the same kind of industry observer. I also think X-Men fans were well-placed. I had an editor write his own positive synopsis to the movie so it would run in the subsequent briefs section instead of the shortened version of my original, negative review, as was customary.

I still don't think that film is very good at all, but I can understand why people enjoyed it, and I still hold that whatever casting director found Hugh Jackman after Dougray Scott bailed should have been given $50 million and had a building on Fox's lot named after them.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Jeff Lemire!

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Happy 79th Birthday, Al Williamson!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Mark Waid!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Marek Bennett!

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FFF Results Post #202 -- Webcheck

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Webcomics You Read That 1) Aren't Any Of The Five I Chose, 2) Posted First On-Line -- Not After Or Concurrently With Print, 3) Are Ongoing (Updating At Least Once This Year)." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Hark! A Vagrant
2. PvP
3. Achewood
4. Sin Titulo
5. Freakangels

*****

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Brian Moore

1. Endtown, Aaron Neathery
2. Goats, Jon Rosenberg
3. Bad Machinery, John Allison
4. Spain & Morocco, Alex Fellows
5. The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Justin Pierce

*****

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Samuel Mooney

1.) remind
2.) Tune
3.) The Bean
4.) Iron
5.) A Manga Addicte

*****

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Wesley Osam

1. Bad Machinery
2. Dresden Codak
3. Nedroid Picture Diary
4. Pictures for Sad Children
5. Cat and Girl

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. The Non-Adventures Of Wonderella
2. Let's Be Friends Again
3. Max Vs. Max
4. Bug
5. Strewth

*****

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Dave Knott

* XKCD
* PhD: Piled Higher & Deeper
* Penny Arcade
* Girl Genius
* Diesel Sweeties

*****

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Jamie Coville

1) Sinfest
2) Diesel Sweeties
3) Dinosaur Comics
4) xkcd
5) The Abominable Charles Christopher

*****

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Kurt Busiek

* Menage a 3
* The Abominable Charles Christopher
* Deadbeats
* Ellie Connelly
* Mugwhump the Great

And a special note for Bearskinrug, which isn't remotely conventional but is chock full o' great.

*****

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Dennis Culver

* Haunted
* Sinfest
* Diesel Sweeties
* Let's Be Friends Again
* Awesome Hospital

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Octopus Pie
2. Scary-Go-Round presents Bad Machinery
3. Brat-Halla
4. The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
5. Lackadaisy Cats

*****

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Michael Carens-Nedelsky

1. A Softer World
2. Piled Higher and Deeper
3. Wondermark
4. XKCD
5. Lackadaisy

*****

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William Doughty

1. Daisy Owl
2. Questionable Content
3. Shortpacked!
4. Girls With Slingshots
5. Oceanverse

*****

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Uriel A. Duran

1) Savage Chickens
2) John & John
3) 1930 Nightmare Theatre @ Dumm Comics
4) College Roomies From Hell!!!
5) Kawaii Not

*****

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Tony Collett

1. SubCulture
2. The Non-Adventures Of Wonderella
3. Sheldon
4. Girls With Slingshots
5. 1977 The Comic

*****

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John Platt

1. Supernatural Law
2. Steve Bissette's King of Monster Isle
3. American Elf
4. Dark Horse MySpace Presents
5. Year of the Rat

*****

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Jamie Cosley

1. Heropotamus
2. Pokeweed
3. Pajama Forest!
4. Toddbot.com
5. Whubble

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Ellerbisms, Marc Ellerby
2. Between Gears, Natalie Nourigat
3. EmiTown, Emi Lenox
4. Briar Hollow, Terry Blas
5. My Cardboard Life, Philippa Rice

*****

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Greg McElhatton

* Girl Genius
* Johnny Wander
* Liz Prince Power
* She Said
* Socks and Barney

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sinfest
2. Tune
3. Bear Nuts
4. Wapsi Square
5. Penny and Aggie

*****
*****
 
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March 20, 2010


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


via




via


via


via


via
 
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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from March 13 to March 19, 2010:

1. David Coleman Headley pleads guilty.

2. News spreads of Kirby family filing for termination of copyrights with Marvel.

3. IDW attains premier status with DCD, Inc. -- first publisher to do so since initial burst of publishers named that way.

Winner Of The Week
Joe Sacco

Losers Of The Week
Fans of Glauco

Quote Of The Week
The only scapegoat and handy corporate employ among the signatures on the freelancer-dominated petition and the January 19 letter, Marv got the corporate boot up the ass." -- Steve Bissette

*****

today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

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

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March 19, 2010


Bryan Lee O'Malley Releases Cover Image For Final Scott Pilgrim Book

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schedule for release July 20
 
posted 7:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: The 66-Year Stink

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I missed this the first time out
 
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OTBP: Weird Schmeird #2

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posted 6:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

One story dominates today: in an attempt to avoid the death penalty, David Coleman Headley plead guilty yesterday to a series of federal terrorism charges. This included charges related to plotting against institutions and individuals related to the Danish Cartoons Controversy, as well as advance scouting on behalf of terrorists that executed 2008's terror attacks in Mumbai. At this time, US officials do not plan to extradite Headley to India. Headley DCC co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana still faces a number of the same charges regarding both series of activities. Details, such as the planned beheadings of the Danish Cartoons principals, should chill.
 
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Go, Look: Josh Holinaty

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via
 
posted 6:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2010 NCS Division Award Nominees -- Seth, Mazzucchelli and Small In Graphic Novel Category

The National Cartoonists Society has officially released its list of nominees for its Reuben Award and NCS Division Awards, which will be handed out in May in New York during the only awards ceremony related to comics requiring formal wear. The Reuben Award nominees had already been leaked/reported at an earlier date: a mighty trio of Stephen Pastis, Dan Piraro and Richard Thompson. All three are deservedly well-regarded. I think it feels like Pastis' year. Admittedly, I know very little about most things.

The Graphic Novels category features the 2009 works by esteemed cartoonists David Mazzucchelli (Asterios Polyp), Seth (George Sprott) and David Small (Stitches); a Comic Books category I don't remember seeing before will come down to Terry Moore (Echo), Paul Pope ("Strange Adventures" in Wednesday Comics) and JH Williams (Detective Comics. I think what's worth noting here is that none of those choices feel like NCS favorites that happen to work in those kinds of comics. It's also worth noting Steve Brodner's nomination in advertising illustration and a fairly loaded comic-strip division category.

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THE REUBEN AWARD

* Stephen Pastis
* Dan Piraro
* Richard Thompson

NCS DIVISION AWARDS

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Television Animation
* Kevin Deters -- Walt Disney Prep and Landing
* Mike Gray -- The Infinite Goliath
* Seth McFarlane -- Family Guy

*****

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Feature Animation
* Ronnie del Carmen, Storyboard Artist -- Up
* Tomm Moore, Director -- The Secret of Kells
* Barry Reynolds, Character Designer -- The Secret of Kells

*****

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Newspaper Illustration
* Bob Rich
* Tom Richmond
* Robert Sanchuk

*****

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Gag Cartoons
* Glenn McCoy
* VG Myers
* Dave Whamond
to be honest, I have no idea exactly what qualifies here; above is a Glenn McCoy editorial cartoon

*****

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Greeting Cards
* Glenn McCoy
* Kieran Meehan
* Debbie Tomassi

*****

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Newspaper Comic Strips
* John Hambrock -- The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee
* Wiley Miller -- Non Sequitur
* Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman -- Zits

*****

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Newspaper Panel Cartoons
* Dave Blazek -- Loose Parts
* Tony Carillo -- FMinus
* Hilary Price -- Rhymes with Orange

*****

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Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration
* Ray Alma
* Anton Emdin
* Tom Richmond

*****

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Book Illustration
* Lou Brooks -- Twimericks
* Tom Richmond -- Bo Confidential
* Dave Whamond -- My Think-A-Ma-Jink

*****

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Editorial Cartoons
* Nick Anderson
* Rob Rogers
* John Sherffius

*****

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Advertising Illustration
* Steve Brodner
* Randall Enos
* Mort Gerberg

*****

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Comic Books
* Terry Moore -- Echo
* Paul Pope -- Strange Adventures
* JH Williams -- Detective Comics

*****

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Graphic Novels
* David Mazzucchelli -- Asterios Polyp
* Seth -- George Sprott
* David Small -- Stitches

*****

some of these are guesses, I'm afraid; please forgive me

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: DC War Comics Covers

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posted 5:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Got A Good CCI Hotel Room = Happy; Didn't Get One = Unhappy Shocker

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I don't want to spend a ton of time talking about the act of securing convention-discounted hotel rooms for Comic-Con International. I think it's a story -- I think it's one of the few times of direct interaction between the forces of growth of that convention and others like it and the impulse to go to that convention and others like it that's not the five-day event itself. At the same time, I'm wary about stories that involve the commercial activity of bunches of people, because I think that participation lends to a greater amount of time talking through things in a way that skews the story. I thought this true of the Amazon.com story, too.

Anyway, like most things in comics -- perhaps exemplified by the first NYCC when people with the ability to circumvent the system seemed to groove on the excitement and exclusivity conveyed through a collapsed registration system that was openly screwing people -- the tendency is to high-five when something works on your behalf and to wish apocalyptic damnation on anything that doesn't. I would suggest there are hits and misses. It's my understanding exhibitors were taken care of a while ago, at least in part -- that seems like a good idea to me. As far as remaining exhibitors and attendees, I can't imagine from a process standpoint anyone not preferring yesterday's in-and-out, fraternity bid system to the rage-inducing and lose-a-working-day access issues of years past. I'm also reminded that people were completely shut out under the old system -- I was last year -- so it's not like a similar result is new to 2010.

That said, I'm totally sympathetic to those that felt they were in and out of the new system really quickly and that they were not treated as they expected to be treated given that facility. You can read a metric ton of them here. I've also read and heard distressing stories about not receiving back any word at all (although here's a thought: could that maybe be browser incompatibility? that's been an issue in the past for TP). I would hate reserving rooms into a void with the white-hot fury of 10,000 suns aka "Frank Martin style." A lot of anecdotal evidence suggests weakness if not outright collapse or corruption in the timestamp system, and that should certainly be addressed along with the non-response type failure. Both should be part of the dialogue that press people and attendees have with the CCI team that employs Travel Planners, and the ability to process what's promised fairly should be a consideration in the long-term future of the show.

On the other hand, I think the idea of fairness only extends so far. It seems to me a lot of what people experience is too many folks wanting too few rooms -- especially those highly-desirable rooms either super close to the show itself or those six to eight blocks away that don't cost an arm and a leg (perhaps an arm and half a leg). Those rooms are indeed awesome. I love those rooms! The lack of such rooms and room generally sucks on the cosmic scale of things, and is another item of discussion about the long-term future of CCI's viability in San Diego. Still, it's hard to see this strictly as an issue of fairness as long as people see their experiences 1) in narrow terms, 2) something they're entitled to. Some people are shut out of rooms they thought they had a chance of getting, and some people just didn't get a cool hotel room; we can't treat those two complaints as the same thing.

I've stayed in Mission Valley; I've stayed 25 minutes by car past Mission Valley. I had a blast those years, too. The way people describe having a hotel out there, it's like they envision coming to the convention center in an all-terrain vehicle shared by Jan-Michael Vincent and George Peppard, dodging giant scorpions along the way. The year I stayed 35 minutes up the highway I made a choice to be there for my job, and doing my job didn't require me to have an awesome room 200 feet from the convention center. (I don't take anyone seriously that claims it does, and I know dozens of out-of-work journalists that would cover the show really, really well from the Holiday Inn in San Juan Capistrano.) Would it make things easier? Sure. But so would the con buying me a better class of notebook and comping my room.

As a longtime con-goer and someone who can get an awful lot of business done there, I wish CCI were as easy to attend as HeroesCon. But you know, I wish New York Comic-Con were a lot cheaper to attend, too, especially as someone getting too old to gracefully crash on a couch somewhere. Ditto Angouleme. Ditto Fumetto. (Okay, maybe especially Fumetto.) People in comics sometimes have a really hard time imagining an industry that exists without them, but such an industry is a truer reality now than it ever was before. Maybe you don't get to own all the comics you want, maybe you don't get to write Uncanny X-Men, and maybe you don't always get to stay at the Hilton and take a 45 second walk to Comic-Con. In the end, even the biggest funnybook show in North America is a funnybook show: you decide if it's worth it to go, and you make adjustments accordingly. The rest really is a lottery.
 
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Go, Look: Frank King Original

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Collective Memory: ECCC 2010

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning Emerald City Comic Con, held March 13 and March 14, 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in the city of Seattle.

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

*****

Institutional
* Convention Site
* Physical Location
* Host City

Audio
* Stumptown Trade Review: Jeff Lemire
* Stumptown Trade Review: Terry Moore
* Stumptown Trade Review: Joe Kelly
* Stumptown Trade Review: Mark Waid
* Stumptown Trade Review: David Mack

Blog Entries
* abowlofnoodles
* A Comic Book Blog
* airshipoverwater
* Animaticus

* brianboshes
* Brilliance Theory
* bud plant
* burntweiners.com

* ComicBookMovie
* comicnewsi
* Comic Smiths Guild
* Craigmore Creations

* devildinosaur
* dougdisneyland

* Dave Kellett

* everydayamasterpiece

* Ferret Nick

* geek-orthodox
* gillespieclan
* Greetings From Nowhere
* grifflog

* hendeldbu
* Hero Initiative
* holdenvcrick

* incontinuity

* kisw blog

* lamazmorradecuco
* Laura Gjovaag 01
* livemorenow blog

* mechanisticmoth
* Michaeloeming.com
* mitch kief
* Multiversity

* nvga online

* otis5000

* PDX Comic Geek
* Pop Culture Zoo: Darkwing Duck
* Pop Culture Zoo: 7 Psychopaths
* Pop Culture Zoo: DC Nation

* Robot 6 01
* Robot 6 02
* Robot 6 03
* Robot 6 04

* slog
* sodermoto
* shehulk
* Stkarnick
* Stumptown Trade Review

* Tales From The Longbox
* tfaw
* The American Culture
* The Beat 01
* The Beat 02
* The Beat 03
* The Beat 04
* The Beat 05
* The Beat 06
* Top Cow Blog
* Trek Today

* unioncopy.com

* woodyafterhours
* worldsalterns

* youbentmywookie

* Zaxy

Miscellaneous

News Stories and Columns
* Bleeding Cool 01
* Bleeding Cool 02
* Bleeding Cool 03
* BSC Kids

* CBR: 7 Psychopaths
* CBR: Armory Wars
* CBR: Marvel Cup O' Joe Panel
* CBR: WildStorm Panel
* CBR: DC Nation
* CBR: The Image Comics Show
* CBR: Mondo Marvel
* CBR: Green Lantern
* CBR: Top Cow
* CBR: Hack/Slash
* CBR: Darkwing Duck

* Comics Alliance's Emerald City Tagged Stories
* ComicsAlliance: The Male Slave Leia Cosplayer
* ComicsAlliance: Oni
* ComicsAlliance: Kate Beaton
* ComicsAlliance: DC Nation
* ComicsAlliance: Mondo Marvel
* ComicsAlliance: Coverage And Contests
* ComicsAlliance: Dark Horse Contest

* Geekosystem

* Geeks Of Doom

* iFanboy
* iFanboy 02

* KOMO

* Major Spoilers
* Miami Herald

* Newsarama: Hack/Slash
* Newsarama: Darkwing Duck

* Oregon Live

* Pop Culture Shock
* Publishers Weekly

* Seattle Times 01
* Seattle Times 02

* TCJ
* Techland.com

Photos
* Charlie Chu
* Cliff Nordman
* don't wake me I plan on sleeping in
* elvinemeloe
* Gilbert Hernandez Signing
* heath bar
* jlh lunasea
* Mourgos Pix
* Oakwright
* seattlegeekly
* Seattle Weekly
* Socal Photography
* studio jfish
* William Doran
* Scotman
* Seattle Geekly
* Seattle Times
* Speedforce 01
* Speedforce 02
* Speedforce 03
* Stumptown Trade Review
* TCJ
* ToFuGuns

Twitter
* #ECCC

Video
* Aaron Douglas Does Impressions
* Chris at emerald city comic con
* ECCC 2010 day one 178.AVI
* ECCC (Emerald City Comic Con) 2010 Stan Lee Panel
* ECCC (Emerald City Comic Con) 2010 Stan Lee Panel: Influences
* Emerald city comic con (Corey Lewis)
* EMERALD CITY COMIC CON 2010 ECCC STAN LEE
* EMERALD CITY COMIC CON 2010 ECCC STAN LEE
* GL Spotlight
* IMGP0046.AVI
* Leonard Nimoy at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle 2010
* Leonard Nimoy at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle 2010 II
* Leonard Nimoy at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle 2010 III
* Leonard Nimoy's Closing from Emerald City Comic Con 2010
* Nerds head to emerald city comic con
* Stan Lee at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle 2010
* Wil Wheaton Emerald City Comic Con
* Wil Wheaton F#$%ing Idiot

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: New Funnies #71

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posted 4:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Popeye Comics #24

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posted 4:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: They Wore The Cloak

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Go, Look: Tezuka Exhibition Pictorial

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posted 4:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* if you read only one piece of writing on a very busy Friday, make it Tim Kreider's review of Pim & Francie. If you have a bit more time, read Jog on thought balloons. If you're still looking for something to do, make me a sandwich. Seriously, though, those are two good articles.

image* the writer and academic Charles Hatfield has another fine, lengthy event report, this time on Robert Williams at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

* the episode of Marvel Team-Up that dares not speak its issue number.

* the cartoonist Kate Beaton apparently loves Lost. Speaking of Beaton, here's a bigger cartoon I haven't looked at yet.

* the new Power Girl team. I can't imagine many fans of the run #1-12 are going to dig it.

* this depressed me more than made me laugh. Sorry, guys.

* I enjoyed this straight-up-gushing portrait of Tony de Zuniga. Beatings for everyone that does not recognize the awesomeness of de Zuniga!

* that is one odd-looking panel.

* Black Hole Short Film Redux.

* Shannon Smith has published an enjoyable, lengthy list of the mini-comics artists, webcomics cartoonists and anthologies that made 2009 a good one. The list includes:
+ Brad McGinty
+ Dustin Harbin
+ Ed Choy Moorman
+ Ghost Stories
+ James Kochalka
+ J. Chris Campbell
+ Josh Latta
+ Julia Wertz
+ Kate Beaton
+ Megan Rose Gedris
+ Michael Kupperman
+ Patrick Dean
+ Pinstriped Bloodbath
+ Rene Engstrom
+ Sally Bloodbath
+ side B: the music lover's comics anthology
+ Supergirl Cosmic Adventures in the Eight Grade
+ T. Avery
+ the 2009 Fluke Anthology
+ the 2D Cloud books
+ The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
+ the DC Showcase Presents line
+ The Deadbeat
+ the Marvel Essential line
+ the occasional Archie digest
+ The Surogates: Flesh and Bone
+ the Winter 2009 volume of Mome
+ Wednesday Comics
The list is all over the place, but to be honest, so is the way most of us read comics. The write-ups are fun, too, so I hope you'll explore them through the link.

* finally, I wasn't going to run a link to this column by Clifford Meth until he e-mailed me a chillingly recent photo of my dog.
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Willie Schubert!

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Michael Jantze!

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Ted Dawson Sketches

Exhibits/Events
Go See Johanna Draper Carlson

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Matt Wagner
CBR: Denis Kitchen
CBR: Adam Beechen
CBR: Carla Jablonski
Robot 6: Dave Johnson
CBR: Sarah Stewart Taylor
Newsarama: Adam Beechen
The Daily Beast: Stephen King
Inkstuds: John Stanley Round-Table

Not Comics
Fess Parker, RIP
Price Point Study In Music
Somebody Stop Tim Burton

Reviews
Chris Sims: Twilight
Steve Duin: Market Day
Matthew Brady: Siege #3
Matthew Brady: Black Jack
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Hicksville
Matthew Brady: PunisherMAX #5
Snow Wildsmith: Dorohedro Vol. 1
Snow Wildsmith: Ristorante Paradisio
J. Caleb Mozzocco: 120 Days Of Simon
Marc-Oliver Frisch: Cowboy Ninja Viking #1-4
Johanna Draper Carlson: DC Universe: Origins
Johanna Draper Carlson: Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs Vol. 15
Snow Wildsmith: Hanako And The Terror Of Allegory Vol. 1
 

 
What Reading Today's Superhero Comics Feels Like A Lot Of The Time


mostly that last 15 seconds, in a loop, with capes
 
posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If You Have A CCI Room Story To Tell, I'd Like To Hear It And Exploit It

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Today was the first day of Comic-Con International hotel rooms being offered at a discount through the convention. This has in the last few years been a day filled with a super-tense, one- to four-hour staring contest with the Travel Planners Web Site as it bottlenecks, followed by much disappointment as the seemingly tiny allotment of rooms quickly dissipates. As such, it's come to represent the rapid growth of CCI and conventions in general, and a potential schism between older fans used to doing things a certain way and newer fans who want in on the fun. This year Travel Planners instituted a time-stamp system whereby people submitted 12 choices and then heard back from TP as to which one they secured with a request to confirm through one day's deposit.

I'm a long-time Comic-Con attendee that uses the system every year. I was shut out of the hotels on this day last year and spent like five hours to learn that I was shut out. This year I spent exactly four minutes on-line and went to watch a basketball game and when I got back I had my fourth choice. So for me, this worked out great. However, I honestly don't care where I stay. I can't imagine there were too many people psyched to get their 12th choice, but for me the only requirement is I stay in at least one new hotel every year to learn what they're like. So my needs are different.

What about you? Did you like the new system? I'm particularly interested if anyone had problems that weren't simply related to more people wanting hotel rooms than were available. Because that's not changing any time soon, and certainly wasn't going to change with a lottery-type system.

Oh, and by the way: maybe check your spam if you never got an e-mail? That's how my program scanned the incoming Travel Planners missive.

photo by Whit Spurgeon; he got his 10th choice
 
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March 18, 2010


Somebody Please Start Selling Prints Of This Beauty By Christmas

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whoa, nice
 
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IDW/DCD: IDW Becomes Premier

imageIDW Publishing announced today via press release that it will become a premier publisher with Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. This would make IDW the first publisher to advance to that status with Diamond since the terms were implemented 14 years ago.

IDW recently broke into the top tier of comics publishers based on market share, a tier traditionally reserved for premier publishers. That achievement was a sign of the company's growing sales presence and indicates a generally positive partnership with Diamond -- also the company's book distributor through a separate arm of the company.

In addition to the status involved -- and don't discount the status involved: as I recall, not getting this status was a real blow to CrossGen once upon a time, although their candidacy was much less convincing than IDW's by a country mile -- IDW will move its listing to a reserved section at front of the catalog and will participate in the Final Order Cut-Off Program before the end of the year. Unlike Marvel and DC, IDW will retain a traditional buy/sell relationship with the distributor. I don't know if IDW will start designing its own catalog pages or if it was already doing so; a query to the publisher has as of this writing yet to be answered.

Although it's unclear just how great an advantage that premier publisher status brings almost 15 years since it was, indeed, a very big deal that helped shape today's market, it's difficult to deny that 1) IDW has achieved that status due to the original sales performance parameters in a much less fruitful economic climate, 2) any assistance in negotiating the Direct Sales Market is, one would imagine, more than welcome. So good for them.
 
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Go, Look: Gordo Samples

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Mickey Mouse plot co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana has been denied bail, even as co-conspirator David Coleman Headley is expected to change his plea to guilty today in a Chicago-area court. Rana and Headley were arrested on charges related to a plot to harm various Danish Cartoons Controversy principals, which expanded into an inquiry as to the men's involvement in advance scouting for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

* Colleen LaRose is expected to be arraigned this morning in a Philadelphia court for her various activities as "Jihad Jane," including work against the safety and well-being of Swedish artists Lars Vilks. Vilks made a cartoon drawing of a dog with Muhammad's head in the wake of the original Danish Cartoons Controversy. Two men were remanded in Irish court earlier this week for their roles in what looks like a loose international conspiracy against the artist. Apparently, like recent detainee David Coleman Headley, LaRose has been cooperating with authorities.
 
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Go, Look: George Evans

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Your 2010 Joe Shuster Nominees

imageSeveral mighty armies of nominees were named yesterday in six categories for the 2010 version of the Joe Shuster Awards. Designed to "recognize the achievements of Canadian comics creators," the Shusters are in their six year. They are named after Superman's co-creator, who was born in Toronto. Winners will be named June 5 during Toronto Comicon weekend.

Additional rounds of nominees will come in the publisher and comics for kids categories, in addition to the Harry Kremer Award (which goes to retailer) and the Gene Day Award (for self-publishers). More information through that initial link.

*****

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ARTIST
* Chris Bachalo -- Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #1-4, Dark Avengers Annual #1, New Avengers #51-52, Amazing Spider-Man Extra! #2 -- "Black & White" (Marvel)
* Darwyn Cooke -- Jonah Hex #50 (DC Comics), Madman Atomic Comics #14 -- "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Madman Movie" (Image Comics)
* Marc Delafontaine -- Les nombrils, Vol. 04: Duels de belles (Dupuis)
* Djief Bergeron -- Saint-Germain, Vol. 1: Le Comte des Lumières (Glénat)
* Dale Eaglesham -- Justice Society of America #26 (DC Comics), Amazing Spider-Man #591, Fantastic Four #570-572, Captain America #600 -- "The Persistence of Memorabilia," Amazing Spider-Man Extra! #3 -- "Nice Things," Origins of Siege #1 -- "Doctor Doom" (Marvel)
* Stuart Immonen -- Ultimate Spider-Man #130-133, New Avengers #55-60, Fantastic Four #569 (Marvel), The CBLDF Presents Liberty Comics #2 -- "Trampoline Hall" (Image Comics)
* Francis Manapul -- Adventure Comics #0-3, 5, Superman/Batman #60-61 (DC Comics)
* Cameron Stewart -- Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye #1-3 (DC/Vertigo), Uncanny X-Men First Class Giant-Size Special #1 -- Origin of Wolverine segment (Marvel), The CBLDF Presents Liberty Comics #2 -- "The Apocalipstix in Taboo Boogaloo" (Image Comics)

*****

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CARTOONIST
* Darwyn Cooke -- Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter (IDW)
* Jeff Lemire -- The Nobody, Sweet Tooth #1-4 (DC/Vertigo), Noir: A Crime Comics Anthology -- "The Old Silo" (Dark Horse), Awesome 2: Awesomer -- "The Horseless Rider" (Top Shelf)
* Bryan Lee O'Malley -- Scott Pilgrim Volume 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (Oni Press)
* Philippe Girard -- Tuer Velasquez (Glénat Québec)
* Michel Rabagliati -- Paul, Vol. 06: Paul à Québec (La Pastèque)
* Simon Roy -- Jan's Atomic Heart (New Reliable Press)
* Seth -- George Sprott 1894-1975 (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas -- Red: A Haida Manga (Douglas & McIntyre)

*****

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COLORIST
* Brad Anderson -- Aliens #1-2 (Cover), Aliens/Predator FCBD 2009, Star Wars: The Clone Wars #8 (Cover), Star Wars: Legacy #32-40, #43 (Dark Horse), Action Comics #873 (Cover), Superman: Secret Origin #1-3, Superman: World of New Krypton #1-6, Superman: World of New Krypton #7, 9-10 (Cover), Wonder Woman #28-35, 39 (DC Comics), Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil #3 (Cover), Franklin Richards: April Fools, Franklin Richards: It's Dark Reigning Cats & Dogs, Franklin Richards: School's Out, Uncanny X-Men: First Class Giant-Size Special #1, Spider-Man & The Secret Wars #1 (Marvel Comics)
* Chris Chuckry -- Air #6-16, The Unwritten #1-8 (DC/Vertigo), G.I. Joe: Cobra #1-2 (IDW), Amazing Spider-Man #582, 591, 599-600, 606-607, Amazing Spider-Man #583, 595, 597-598 (Cover), Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #3, Iron Man Vs Whiplash #2, Ms. Marvel #36-37 (Cover)
* Maryse Dubuc -- Les nombrils Volume 04: Deuls et belles (Dupuis)
* Nathan Fairbairn -- Amazing Spider-Man #605, Dark Reign: The List -- X-Men #1, Dark X-Men: The Confession #1 (Cover), Guardians of the Galaxy #16, 18-19, House of M: Masters of Evil #1, Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1, Nation X #1, Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1-2, Timestorm 2009-2099: Spider-Man, War of Kings: Warriors #2, Wolverine #72, Wolverine: Origins #32, Wolverine: Weapon X #6-8, X-Factor #39-50, 200 (Variant) (Cover), X-Factor #45, X-Men: Kingbreaker #2-4, X-Men Origins: Gambit #1 (Marvel Comics), Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #4-5 (Oni Press)
* Lovern Kindzierski -- The Sandman: The Dream Hunters #3-4 (DC/Vertigo), Angel #19, Doctor Who #1-2, G.I. Joe: Cobra #3-4, G.I. Joe: Cobra Special #1, GrimJack: The Manx Cat #1, Star Trek: Crew #3-5, Star Trek: Romulans: Schism #1-3 (IDW), What If? Daredevil vs. Elektra (Marvel Comics)
* Francois Lapierre -- Magasin général Volume 05: Montréal (Casterman)
* Dave McCaig -- Star Wars: Dark Times #13-14 (Dark Horse), Detective Comics #857-860, Wednesday Comics #1-12 (DC Comics), House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1, Northlanders #14-23 (DC/Vertigo), Mysterius: The Unfathomable #1-6 (DC/Wildstorm), Invincible #66-67 (Image Comics), Berserker #2-3, Broken Trinity: Angelus, The Darkness #75, Pilot Season: Murderer #1 (Image/Top Cow), Agents of Atlas #9 (Cover), Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2-5 (Cover), Deadpool #900, Fantastic Four #571 (Cover), Ghost Rider #33-35, Marvel Comics #1 70th Anniversary Edition, Miss America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Cover), New Avengers #50, 55-60, Origins of Siege #1, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #3-6, Ultimatum: Fantastic Four Requiem #1 (Cover) (Marvel Comics), Resurrection #0 FCBD 2009 (Oni Press)
* Ronda Pattison -- Star Wars: The Clone Wars #4 (Cover), Star Wars: The Clone Wars FCBD 2009, Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Wind Raiders of Taloraan, Star Wars: Purge -- Seconds to Die, Unbound Saga (Dark Horse), Angel vs. Frankenstein (IDW), Killer of Demons #1-3 (Image Comics), Dark Reign: Mister Negative #1-3, Human Torch Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel Comics), Atomic Robo and Friends FCBD 2009, Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time #1-5, We Kill Monsters #1-5 (Red 5 Comics)

*****

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WRITER
* Kelley Armstrong -- Angel #18-22 (IDW)
* Ian Boothby -- Futurama Comics #43-44, Simpsons Comics #150, Simpsons Super Spectacular #8 -- "The Sprint" (Bongo)
* Hervé Bouchard -- Harvey (La Pastèque)
* Maryse Dubuc -- Les nombrils Volume 04: Duels de belles (Dupuis)
* Kathryn Immonen -- Runaways #11-14, Patsy Walker: Hellcat #5 (Marvel Comics), The CBLDF Presents Liberty Comics #2 -- "Trampoline Hall" (Image Comics)
* Dean Motter -- The Spirit #29 (DC Comics)
* Ty Templeton -- Star Trek: Mission's End #1-5 (IDW)
* J. Torres -- Disney/Pixar's Wall-E #0-1 (Boom!), DC Holiday Special '09 #1 -- "Huntress in Naughty or Nice," Batman: The Brave and the Bold #5-8, #11 (DC Comics)


*****

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COVER
* Kaare Andrews -- The Immortal Iron Fist #27 (Marvel Comics)
* Paul Bordeleau -- Faune, Volume 2: La maison du Faune (La Pastèque)
* Darwyn Cooke -- Jonah Hex #50 (DC Comics)
* Darwyn Cooke -- Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter (IDW)
* Marc Delafontaine -- Les nombrils, Volume 04: Duels de belles (Dupuis)
* Dale Eaglesham -- Miss America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel Comics)
* Dale Keown -- The Astounding Wolf-Man #16 Variant (Image Comics)
* Igor Kordey -- Unknown Soldier #5 (DC/Vertigo)

*****

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WEBCOMICS
* Attila Adorjany -- Metaphysical Neuroma
* Kate Beaton -- Hark! A Vagrant
* Andy Belanger -- Bottle of Awesome and Raising Hell
* Rene Engstrom -- Anders Loves Maria
* Karl Kerschl -- The Abominable Charles Christopher
* Gisèle Lagacé and David Lumsdon -- Eerie Cuties and Ménage à 3
* Tara Tallan -- Galaxion
* Steve Wolfhard -- Cat Rackham

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Middle Class Poverty Is...

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Go, Look: Moonshift

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If I Were In Bellingham, I'd Go Eat Here

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Go, Look: The Corpse Springs Alive

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Go, Look: Granny And Slowpoke

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Go, Look: Sketches By Seymour

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Go, Look: Kurt Schaffenberger Ruled

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is CCI's hotel reservation day, kicking off at 9 AM PT. They'll be doing it slightly differently this year, with the person submitting a list and then having to secure the counter-offer with a deposit within a few days. You can go here to get oriented; I thought they did a good job of unpacking it. As the #1 abuser of the non-deposit system over the last few years -- I think I had 17 rooms at the Kona Kai at one point -- I look forward to seeing how the new system works. And as someone who was totally shut out of last year's stampede, I figure I can't have a worse first day... or can I?

image* Sandy Bilus has started a series of posts on Louis Riel; it'd be nice if they were bookmarked "Louis Riel."

* the longtime writer-about-comics Johanna Draper Carlson, who takes what I'd call a consumer advocate's position with a lot of her writing on the business, looks at marketing to women.

* Brian Fies adds his thoughts to Kurt Busiek's recently active posting on breaking into comics. Brian and Kurt by themselves represent two entirely different ways of getting into comics despite the fact they're in (I think) the same advertising demographic.

* the book wasn't a favorite of mine, but I have to admit this board game promotional item for Foiled is a really cute idea.

* the cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley promises details about volume six in the Scott Pilgrim series this Friday.

* the longtime Chicago area retailer Joe Sarno has been hospitalized.

* I'll run the cover image in next week's "Bundled" rather than here, but you should scoot over to Drawn and Quarterly's web site to read the publishing news announcement for Lynda Barry's Picture This.

* Jeet Heer waxes rhapsodic about his favorite comics store, The Beguiling.

* not comics: this is great news.

* finally, here's another interview with Lance Fensterman, which as always makes me feel much less special. The interviewer asks about the Vs. Wizard stuff, which I think is a) mostly boring, and b) gives Wizard more credit that they're due, so I skipped them, but Fensterman's responses were kind of passive-aggressive and compelling and now I wish I had gone there.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Shea Anton Pensa!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Bill Reinhold!

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Quick hits
Craft
This Made Me Smile
Elijah Brubaker Sketches
Sean Phillips Sketches 01
Sean Phillips Sketches 02

Exhibits/Events
Go See PAD
ECCC In PW
Go See Guy Davis

History
Easy Being Green

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jim Valentino
CBR: Rafael Albuquerque

Not Comics
Hey, A Scott Pilgrim Movie Poster
Scott Kurtz Relocating To Seattle?
Steve Englehart's Point Man, Sequel Coming

Publishing
What's Coming Out

Reviews
Greg McElhatton: DMZ #51
Nina Stone: The Sword #22
Kevin Church: Bad Machinery
Rob Clough: Big Questions #13
Sean T. Collins: Weird Schmeird #2
RC Harvey: The Family Circus Vol. 1
Tim Callahan: American Vampire #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Mysterius The Unfathomable
 

 
Well Versed In The Walls Of Worst

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March 17, 2010


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the Amazon.com listings are starting to fill in through the 2010 holiday seasons, and some quick googling can reveal a cover or two -- mostly because of a combination of book distribution catalog requirements and artists active on-line. That's Ray Fenwick's initial shot at a cover for his December Fantagraphics release Mascots, which may or may not be what's actually used when the book comes out. He explains his thinking here.

* the artist Tom Richmond reports that MAD will be bumping up from quarterly production to bi-monthly production, an increase of 50 percent in terms of published pages in a year. He extols nearly all the conceivable virtues of the move in his post, actually.

image* Michel Fiffe is spearheading a run of indie/alt cartoonists taking on Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon character, which will run in the comic book of the same name starting in issue #160. All the press material and statements can be found here.

* a company I've never heard off is bringing back the Charmed property through comic book publication, I guess because there wasn't enough Charmed during its 33 seasons on the air. Although I'd buy it if Gilbert Hernandez were doing it.

* it's always fun when people have fangasms over properties in which you're too old to have participated on any level, and thus it was with the announcement that Boom! is doing a Darkwing Duck comic book.

* the series/property Hack/Slash is moving from Devil's Due to Image. It makes total sense for a book like that to make that move, I'd think -- it seems like an Image book already, the creators can control the publishing schedule to their liking, and they're unfettered on the Image end to make outside deals for the property if any come up.

* I somehow missed this the first time around, but busy Dean Haspiel is putting together a comics section for the new, twice-yearly literary journal Cousin Corinne's Reminder. The first issue features a collaboration by Dean Haspiel with Jonathan Lethem.

* if you follow mainstream comic books, you already knew this, but the team of Palmiotti, Gray and Conner is off of their Power Girl sort-of revamp. Conner moved first and the writing team followed. That title had a bit of traction with some fans, about as much as can be expected in this day and age, I'd guess.

* here's a couple of nice editorial cartooning gigs announced: Drew Litton will be supplying cartoons to ESPN; Rob Tornoe is back in Editor & Publisher after their closing scare and ownership change.

* just a bit more on the Matt Thorn-curated manga works at Fantagraphics, including expected print runs.

* finally, Stan Saki has a cover image (below) and a few details about the next Usagi collection at his chat board.

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Go, Look: Happy Monday

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

There's only major update today, but it's a huge one. It's been announced that David Coleman Headley is expected to plead guilty this week. Headley was one of two Chicago men arrested for conspiring to bring harm to Danish Cartoons Controversy stalwarts Flemming Rose, Kurt Westergaard and the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. While in custody, partly through Headley's cooperation, it became known that he did advance scouting on behalf of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. It makes sense given how much Headley has cooperated with authorities both here and from other countries that a plea deal might follow, and if it's made public as expected there may be some salient information as to how serious their efforts were against the DCC targets. The other Chicago man arrested, Tahawwur Rana, has been much more strident about proclaiming his innocence.
 
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Go, Read: A Short Note On Hal Foster

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Niqab Cartoon Draws Criticism; Aislin Turns Around, Does Another One

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The much-lauded cartoonist Terry Mosher, who works as Aislin, made news this week for a cartoon from last Friday depicting jail bars and a lock through the slit in a niqab. The cartoon refers to the case of Naima Atef Amed, a new immigrant to Canada, who filed charges related to what she believed was discrimination against her during her participation in a French-language class in Montreal. Mosher was not openly confessional in terms of opposing the woman, he followed through this week with another niqab-related drawing, seen at right, above. I don't have the ability to find out the particulars and understand the context of the incident involved, although just mentioning it here will likely result in an accusatory letter, but I did think Mosher's matter-of-fact stand and the paper's willingness to support him worth noting.
 
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Go, Read: Lengthy Gabrielle Bell Piece

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Your Quality Feature News Round-Up

A few articles out there I'd suggest as either better than the average Internet posting, touching on an important issue, or both:

* if there's one historical/soft news/feature piece you need to be reading right now, it's Steve Bissette's ongoing look at the censorship wars of the 1980s -- so far in parts one, two, three, four and five. I've long thought this important, too, not only for the issues raised by the schism that resulted between various camps over how they negotiate the mainstream comics culture of their time period. I'm in full absorption mode right now on this, although I'll express an opinion on this material at some point, but that doesn't mean you should fall behind in keeping up with what Steve is putting out there.

image* Johanna Draper Carlson brings our attention to Tyler Page's breakdown of how much self-publishing has cost him under a certain strategy that involves a lot of con appearances to drive publicity. I think the thing that's interesting here in an historical sense is that while it's funny to say, "Don't go to so many conventions, dude!" I think there was definitely a point at which some sort of direct outreach was absolutely crucial to small- and self-publishers that wanted their work to reach readers, and that this wasn't always the case. When people make relative different ways of getting work out there, they're missing the boat that some methods are far more costly than others, and that all of these methods shape the kind of work readers get to see and how they view them.

* Ada Price of Publishers Weekly talks to a small sample of working retailers about Life During Recession. Direct Market retailers and prominent indy book stores do so much to shape their individual markets that it's hard to find agreement between them and even harder to make much of any shared threads you might discover, but the range of solutions and strategies on display in this piece sure is fascinating. One seeming area of agreement: it was a good year for top-end sellers in terms of books from the regular book publishers, which is something that not all comics shops are set up to sell, and which was an under-reported new story from people like me that if certain books hadn't hit between summer and Christmas last year I have a hunch the commitment from such publishers might have changed. That Yen Press Twilight book should do very well, although I wonder if that isn't a completely different subset retailer-wise from the kind of stores that sell things like Genesis.
 
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Go, Look: Mort Walker Cartoons

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Go, Look: Heat Lightning

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Go, Look: Clare Briggs Obit

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Go, Look: 1979 Neal Adams Profile

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Not Comics: August Schomburg

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Go, Look: MOKF #19

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* TCAF is looking for programming suggestions.

* Thursday passes have sold out at Comic-Con International, with the initial burst of hotel reservations through the con becoming available tomorrow. I think much more consideration should be given by all parties to my being able to rationally schedule the CR Comic-Con Guide, because right now it's really confusing.

image* Kevin Church is right: there are a lot of decent-to-fun action sequences in Marvel comics in the company's earlier days.

* I can't imagine too many people will want to wait until the weekend to watch Richard Thompson draw.

* when posting a few notes on last week's filing by the Kirby Family for termination of various Marvel copyrights, I was confused by a time and character discrepancy in regards to one or two of the characters, particularly the Rawhide Kid, who were invented before the period the suit claimed to cover. A couple of knowledgeable comics pros and one comics historian-type person all wrote in to say that the Kirby revamp on Rawhide Kid was so sweeping and complete that it could be said to be a new character, and that may have been the reason they were included. (Plus there was one of the occasional skips in publication numbers you had back then by the periodical featuring that name.) Since my knowledge of Marvel's western heroes extends to a few time-traveling issues of Avengers and climbing over them at the local flea market to get at comics I wanted, I'll defer to those much more knowledgeable than I am. Sorry, Marvel Westerns fans. Hey, I need something to read in my old age.

* Woman's Day has a feature up on funny comic strips to reconsider. I never thought I'd be typing that sentence.

* this made me smile.

* so did this. (thanks, Devlin Thompson)

* finally, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a preview of the forthcoming Diamond Retailer Summit, scheduled to coincide with the Reed convention C2E2.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Richard Pachter!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Patrick McDonnell!

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Quick hits
Craft
Roger Langridge Sketches
Sean Phillips Makes A Cover

Exhibits/Events
Festival Of Cartoon Art News
Bob Greenberger Went To Spain

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Harlan Ellison
CBR: Tom Brevoort
All In A Day: Jeff Parker

Not Comics
Whitney Matheson On Kick-Ass

Publishing
Big Name Fans
Paul Gravett On May 2010 In The DM

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Grant Goggans: Exit Wounds
Brian Warmoth: Batman #686
Johanna Draper Carlson: Rip Kirby
 

 
March 16, 2010


Joe Sacco Wins Ridenhour Prize

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Cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco has won the 2010 Ridenhour Book Prize for his Footnotes In Gaza, a late 2009/early 2010 release from Metropolitan. Calling Footnotes a "work of profound social significance," the prize committee will give Sacco $10,000 in conjunction with the prize.

thanks, Peggy Burns
 
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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 no-doubt 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 reading aloud from many of the following, in a loud yet lovely voice.

*****

JAN101202 BACKING INTO FORWARD JULES FEIFFER MEMOIR HC $30.00
It's Feiffer's memoir! Of course you want this. Most underrated cartoonist of the 20th Century, that guy.

NOV090223 BRONX KILL HC (MR) $19.99
This is one of those Vertigo Crime comics I haven't seen yet, one by Peter Milligan and James Romberger. I would have to imagine that it will help this line if they can sell books with a comics writer rather than an established crime writer; plus giving their better creators the chance to work on all the different lines could go a long way towards solving some of DC's talent development issues. On the other hand, I've heard next to nothing about this book and it's coming out tomorrow.

DEC090247 MYSTERIUS THE UNFATHOMABLE TP $17.99
I'm glad this one is coming out in a trade, as I thought it kind of lost as a WildStorm comic book when it came out as a limited series -- I think Jeff Parker wanted to punch me in the jaw for saying that back when the series was out, but I really did think it was an odd book out there and maybe would have been better served by a different publisher. It's not like I meant anything bad by it, I swear! Publishing is tough right now.

JAN100571 DOOMWAR #2 (OF 6) $3.99
This is a dopey Marvel comic book at least $1 too expensive for my plebeian tastes. I like the sound of that title, though, and Dr. Doom is certainly the Belle of the Bad Guy Ball right now, judging in terms of how many people want to use the armored monarch. Remember, Marvel writers, it's the fact he's as powerful as he is but still packing heat that makes Doom the villain he is today.

NOV090861 KRAZY & IGNATZ HC TIGER TEA $12.99
Not as many folks as 25 years ago think as highly of Krazy Kat, but it's always worth noting when any new publication comes out, even if it's the "Tiger Tea" sequence you might already have in an issue of RAW.

NOV090763 MOME GN VOL 17 2010 $14.99
Hey, the new MOME is out. It's an odd issue, and vaguely dissatisfying as a whole, but the comics by Renee French, T. Edward Bak and Oliver Schrauwen are stop and stare good.

DEC090032 GROO HOGS OF HORDER #4 (OF 4) $3.99
DEC090729 DIE HARD YEAR ONE #7 $3.99
DEC090755 MUPPET SHOW #3 $2.99
JAN100356 JOE THE BARBARIAN #3 (OF 8) (MR) $2.99
A smattering of old-fashioned comic books, the kind that used to drive a lot more of our comics-related shopping experiences. It's all about the creators here: Aragones, Chaykin, Langridge, Morrison.

*****

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, that's because it's cold out and my fingers don't work. It's really March?

*****

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posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Authorities Arrest Man Suspected Of Killing Brazil's Glauco And His Son

imageAccording to wire reports and picked up by a variety of arts advocacy organizations, a man was arrested while crossing into Paraguay that has since confessed to killing Glauco Villas Boas and his adult son last Friday. The 53-year-old Glauco were shot to death in their home in a Sao Paulo suburb early Friday morning. How this squares with initial reports that two men were involved, I'm not certain.

This article suggests additional detail, such as that the man's name is Carlos Eduardo Sundfeld Nunes, and that like the younger Boas he was a college student, and that there was a shootout involved that wounded a police officer. The article also explains the gossip that ran rampant on Friday and over the weekend that some sort of cult activity was involved: the student was a member of a spiritual center founded by the elder Boas and his wife, and the killer had access to the home of the center's patriarch.
 
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Go, Look: Yak Yak #2

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A Few Notes On The Kirby Family Suing For Termination Of Copyrights

* you can look at the new filing here. You should read it; it's not so bad.

* your plaintiffs are: Lisa Kirby, both as an individual and as a trustee of something called The Rosalind Kirby Trust; Barbara J. Kirby; Neal L. Kirby; Susan M. Kirby. Your defendants are the usual Marvel companies, plus the usual John Does, plus Disney.

* this comes on the heels of a December lawsuit from Marvel seeking a set-aside on September request for copyright termination on 45 Marvel characters.

image* I'm not sure I understand the inclusion of characters like Rawhide Kid, that were revamped under Kirby but actually precede his return to the restaurant. I'm also not sure why we get a Wertham-driven history lesson or have to hear about the art returns, but I'm certainly not a lawyer.

* I think it's fair to say that a lot of this will come down what the legal proceeding eventually decides was Jack Kirby's relationship to Marvel while doing the work in question, whether he was a freelancer or whether he was in the kind of supervised relationship that many feel proves a work-for-hire style relationship. That should prove... interesting, especially if it comes from really nailing down Kirby's relationship with Stan Lee and Martin Goodman during the Marvel surge.

* as has been the case with Stan Lee's various legal maneuverings vis-a-vis Marvel -- and now even vis-a-vis SLM -- what was said in later agreements and how those arrangements could conceivably have an impact on how the court sees the arrangement that existed.

* finally, I usually get more upset at the fans that rage against family members suing on behalf of a deceased family members as greedy. That's still a horrible thing to say about a person of whom you actually know very little, and I still think in many cases it's a combination reaction fueled by the fear of losing one's favorite superheroes and the guilt/entitlement a certain kind of fan may feel by those companies' efforts to "share" the characters with fans.

That contempt is still there, trust me. My main objection, to be honest, is the lack of intellectual rigor it takes to presume that some violation is occurring by seeking this kind of legal outcome, because a) you don't like it, b) you see some hidden message like they've included Spider-Man whose creative pedigree is much more in doubt than that of many other characters. Just stop it. I'll argue the morality involved concerning comics' long-term relationships with creators like Jack Kirby with anyone who'd care to argue the other side, and I'm confident I'd win. But let's not presume that this is something being tried in Nerd Court. What I'm saying is that whether or not there's an ability to sue on these grounds and whether or not this suit is justified is exactly what gets resolved with these motions up to and including a trial and appeals.

Still, I do see more people looking at the Kirby Family's side of things, if not outright rooting for them. That gives me just enough breathing room to feel, well, sorry for people that can't see past a money motivation here or in similar cases, or that can't put a money motivation in its proper and relative context. In the end, these issues won't be resolved according to the devotion of comic book fans or the certainty of creators rights advocates; it'll turn on the law.
 
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Go, Look: Six Lithographs Of Paris Scenes By François Avril

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* two of the people detained by Irish authorities were charged with crimes related to efforts against the Swedish artist Lars Vilks: Ali Charaf Damache was charged with making a menacing call to an individual, while Abdul Salem Monsour Khalil al Jahani was charged with failure to produce a valid passport or other valid document to establish his identity. The detention of a wider group of suspects over a week ago gained international attention when it was found to include two American women. The enmity against Vilks is related to a drawing he did of Muhammad's head on a dog's body, art created in the wake of the Danish Cartoons Controversy.

* the UK may host libel suits related to the publication of the Danish cartoonists; Denmark is seeking an injunction through the EU so that this doesn't happen.
 
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Go, Look: The Incrdible [Sic] Story Of Neil Abercrombie

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from CR reader Richard Melendez: "Underground comix styled campaign flyer (poster?) for former U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie, promoting his run for the U.S. Senate back in 1970. The blog this is posted on is obviously anti-Abercrombie, and very right-leaning, but still thought this was a fascinating bit of history."
 
posted 7:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
John Kane, 1935-2010

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John Kane, a New Yorker cartoonist that came to that particular vocation and venue later in life than many of that magazine's devoted artists, passed away on March 10 after what appears to be a modest period of illness. Kane may have been best known as a friendly and supportive member of the cartoonists' circle that went to lunch every week after showing their work at the New Yorker offices.

Kane worked in graphic design for several years, and approached cartooning with a broad enthusiasm that dug into the details of what made one joke work over the other. In his lovely remembrance here, Derek Van Gieson describes Kane showing up at the offices with multiple variations on individual gags. "Most people had about ten gags to show but John would come in armed with 20 or so cartoons, many of them approaching jokes from different angles or were fascinating executions of an idea constantly working itself out. You'd see an idea germinate and resolve to its final limits within his batch."

Similarly touching personal reminiscences can be found from Mike Lynch and Eli Stein.

Kane's work was first published in the New Yorker in November 2003. He lives in New York City.
 
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Go, Look: John Stanley Draws Lulu

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Go, Look: Hell On Skis

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Go, Look: Nobody Likes Jamm

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Go, Look: Chip -N- Dale #24

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Go, Look: City Snicker

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Go, Look: Ruff And Reddy Go To A Party

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Noah Berlatsky and the Hooded Utilitarian gang recently sponsored a copyright roundtable.

image* here's Amazon.com's local Seattle Weekly with a view on The Great Omnibus Run Of 2010, complete with Jeremy Eaton illustration. (thanks, Matt Silvie)

* I found this essay by Jennifer de Guzman on San Diego's Comic-Con International to be pretty bizarre. I can't figure out why it's so hard for people to fathom that a city like San Diego might have conflicted feelings regarding Comic-Con. A lot of people in comics have conflicted feelings about Comic-Con.

* the writer and comics historian Mark Evanier notes the passing of comics fan turned filmmaker turned very occasional comics scribe Mike Valerio.

* seriously, when Todd Klein started examining logos, I think we were all waiting for this one.

* the writer Kurt Busiek explains how to break in, answers questions from his readers, does an interview with a Girl Scout and always wins.

* the cartoonist and writer Evan Dorkin uncovers a long list of projects he'd like to see collected. Someone make Dorkin the Emperor of Comics, pronto.

* that is one bitchin' letterhead.

* Ted Rall and David Essman on how to save newspapers.

* finally, after being asked to speak at this year's event, Dave Kellett reflects on Bill Watterson's 1989 address to the Festival of Cartoon Art hosted by Ohio State University.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Todd McFarlane!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Steve Lafler!

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Quick hits
Craft
Tim Seeley Designs
How Not To Write Comics
Sean Phillips Makes A Bookplate

Exhibits/Events
Go See Cameron Stewart
Are You Ready To Rumble?
Go See Kazu Kibuishi In Istanbul

History
Boobs
Great Simon And Kirby Ad
JJJ, Morgan Edge Drink-Up
I Hope Blastaar Made The List
Archie Wins The Maggie Award 1958
Dan Dreams Of Heavy Metal Days Past

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Greg Pak
Pop: Paul Rivoche
TCJ: Tom Kaczynski
Newsarama: Tony Daniel
Big Shiny Robot: Mark Millar
Big Shiny Robot: John Romita
Talking Comics With Tim: Jimmy Palmiotti

Not Comics
More Random Japan
But The Berlin Wall Was Built In A Weekend

Publishing
Tom Brevoort On Omega
Mike Manley Begins On Judge Parker

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Rob Clough: Graylight
Sean T. Collins: Various
Rich Kreiner: Meanwhile...
KC Carlson: Avengers Forever
Katherine Dacey: Ristorante Paradisio
Johanna Draper Carlson: Lola: A Ghost Story
Greg McElhatton: Marvelous Land Of Oz #1-4
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Return Of Kind Doug
 

 
March 15, 2010


The Other Kirby Rights Shoe Drops

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posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Brazilian Cartoonist Glauco And His Son Killed During Friday Home Invasion

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The popular cartoonist Glauco Villas Boas, who worked under the single name Glauco, was killed early on Friday in his Osasco, Brazil home by an unknown pair of assailant. Although rumors are flying and the story is developing in ways that could render this sentence obsolete upon my typing it, the shooting of the esteemed Brazilian cartoonist and illustrator was at least initially investigated as a home invasion with robbery and potentially kidnapping as a potential outcome. Glauco's 25-year-old son Raoni Boas, visiting from college, was also killed. Glauco was shot four times at close range. Both men died in a local hospital. A family lawyer told the press that the crime happened after midnight and describe Glauco's widow as being in shock.

Glauco has been a fixture in Brazil's largest newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, since the late 1970s.

Rob Tornoe had the first write-up in English that I've seen. Church services and a twin burial are among plans. A proper obituary should follow in the next couple of days, at which point there will hopefully be more news on the story itself.

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posted 6:35 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2010 Schulz Award Winner

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Christopher Sharron of Kent State's Daily Kent Stater has won the Charles M. Schulz Award given to the year's best college cartoonist as part of the Scripps Howard Journalism Awards. he will received $10,000. Finalists were Bill Richard of the University of Georgia and Jake Thompson of the University of Illinois. According to the award citation, Sharron's submission was filled with a variety of different cartoons. This mini-biography of Sharron shows he's already well-ensconced in some traditional editorial cartooning circles and awards cycles. Past winners include Barry Deutsch and Frank Cho.
 
posted 6:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* if someone out there isn't typing a screenplay right now about dueling soccer moms turned competitive jihadists, I'll eat my hat. This matter of blond Americans teasing with movements that are seeking out artists like Lars Wilks is only tangentially related to the original Danish Cartoons Controversy, but boy is it odd.

* speaking of Wilks, the newspapers that reprinted his cartoon as news of an assassination plot was revealed are circling the wagons. The thought that they would print the cartoons but not run them on-line is interesting.

* the reaction to Terry Mosher's latest cartoon shows just how strangulated the controversy has made just about any cartoon expression of an issue regarding Muslim culture, no matter what you think of this one.
 
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Go, Look: Fistaszki

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Your 2010 Scripps Howard Winner

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According to a report in industry bible Editor & Publisher, Alex Hunter of The Washington Times's "Hunter's Big Picture" feature won the $10,000 prize and trophy going to a Scripps Howard Journalism Award winner, for the editorial cartooning category. Awards powerhouse Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was the Finalist in the category. The cash awards will go out to the winners at an April 23 dinner in Tampa hosted by the EW Scripps Company.

Alex Hunter is a previous Finalist for the award, and his features for the Times combine text, illustration, sequential cartooning and straight-up single-image editorial cartooning. You can access Hunter's work through this link -- I tried going at it from the feature name, but I got lost. I'm not seeing any "Hunter's Big Picture" offerings after the end of last year, but that site isn't exactly ease-of-use, either. Can anyone out there confirm that it's ongoing?
 
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Go, Look: 1970s Kenner Comics Ads

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Your We Could And Then We Couldn't Buy Huge Books On-Line Super-Cheap For A Few Days Update

* one thing that occurs throughout this period of inordinate attention paid to Amazon.com's inability to process code from Diamond and the cheap books that were offered and then not-offered is that there's probably a place for a Ben's Bargains-type site related to comics or, more generally, to geek stuff. I would add such a site to my RSS feed, and I don't buy a lot of stuff.

* publishers Chris Pitzer (AdHouse) and Dan Vado (SLG) offer up responses to the stripping of buy buttons while Amazon sees to everything being fixed. What's interesting is that between the two of them you get a full range of reactions or at least pretty close to one.

* this article at the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com suggests that the comeback in terms of fully functioning listings may take a bit longer than initially expected, and that the full impact of the temporary sales rush has yet to be fully figured out. Fair enough.
 
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Go, Look: Comic Book Conspiracy

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These Are The Days Of Our Lives

E&P has a summary of the latest major report on the state of the newspaper, long-time host to the comic strip expression of the comics art form and, if you've been paying attention to the mass firings and dire news spinning off of that industry on an almost daily basis, a crumbling American institution.

Although the report comes with the incredibly goofy-sounding name "Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism State of the News Media 2010," the message is clear: advertising is collapsing, and newspapers aren't really in a place to make up that advertising revenue loss either via the pursuit of new media opportunities or by making a stand based on the quality of individual publications. I haven't really seen any article state it as plainly as this one, but having just spent a weekend where the only TV commercials seem to star the UPS Cartoonist-Guy, Ellen Page or two children deciding not to cheat on their pregnant teacher, I can't imagine how things have constricted in the newspaper field. Just the thought of a wounded American auto industry seems to me to have obviously grim consequences for newsprint advertising.

As for the human cost, newsrooms have shrunk by 27 percent in the last few years, the report said. I've long said I don't think newsrooms were as lean and productive as they could be, particularly considering the changes in technology available to journalists, but even I'm not grumpy enough to suggest they were 1/3 over-staffed.

How all of this might have an effect on content providers like the strip syndicates seems pretty straight-forward: it definitely might. It's worth noting I haven't heard about a 27 percent shrink in the comics offerings over that same time period, although as stated in the recent past I think strip comics could start to feel it this year a bit more dramatically as things settle down at papers and cuts are still necessary somewhere in the overall package. The details, I imagine, of how thing develop from this point will drive a lot of what happens to specific sectors like comics.
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Berni Wrightson Miscellanea

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Batwoman Run In Detective Comics Wins GLAAD Media Award Against Limited Competition

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Greg Rucka and JH Williams III are formidable comics creators and their run of Batwoman adventures in the comic book Detective Comics demands to be taken seriously. Moreover, having a character with the word "Bat" in it and making that character gay has brought with it a lot of a certain kind of attention that simply wouldn't be there for a new character in some translated manga or an indy-alt comic of note. That said, that run of comics winning a GLAAD Media Award gets cut into a bit by the fact that those awards seem to by default define comics expression as mainstream genre books that work against some sort of pop-culture expectations, expectations that may be more shameful for their existence than the publication of countervailing examples is brave.
 
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Go, Look: World In A Bottle

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Go, Look: Dick Tracy #131-132

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Go, Look: Hit Comics #41

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Go, Look: Wonderworld Comics #6

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Go, Look: A Ralph Mayo Story

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* is it my imagination or did Wizard finally finish this product-focused site re-launch?

image* Neilalien is in search of comic books' first true interracial kiss, and rounds up a bunch of candidates. I don't know why he punks on the Killraven one; maybe it's because the post-apocalyptic setting softens the political/cultural ramifications? The Killraven one was memorable to many Marvel fans of that era not so much because of the kissing but because it was one of only a dozen or so Don McGregor panels from the 1970s that didn't have at least 300 words in it. (I kid because I love.) Also, minus ten nerd points if you thought in terms of Howard The Duck and Beverly Switzer, even for three seconds, during any part of this paragraph or Neilalien's post.

* Ted Rall's newsletter reminded me that his Kickstarter effort to have various readers and supporters (and, perhaps, enemies) send him back to Afghanistan has raised (as of Sunday evening at 9:00 PM ET) $11,005 of the $25,000 necessary. I don't plan on writing about a whole of kickstarter projects with a comics hook, but I wrote about that one before I decided it wasn't always going to be appropriate, and it's one of the more interesting projects attempting to be funded that way.

* someone told me this eruption of nerd outrage over Hulk wielding Thor's hammer is highly amusing. I haven't read it yet. I guess another way to look at this kind of thing is that it's a failure of the editor, for whom some believe the partial job description is to maintain continuity issues for long-time fans and the health of the franchise. I like to think if I were writing comics I'd be trying to do wacky stuff all the time that probably would need to be voted down by a team of editors flying around in a UFO like the Superman Revenge Squad. Like could Henry Pym combine all of his various potions and gasses and do battle against something like Krakoa as a giant, raging half-man half-ant? Because that would be cool.

* I like this Scott Kurtz print he prepared for the Emerald City Con. It's funny to me that the Dick's signage tends to come in just behind the Space Needle as a recognizably iconic Seattle landmark for designs like this one. As the convention calendar settles down and as professional kind of settle into a routine concerning these shows, the ability they'll have to do specialty items and the like should increase.

* David sued Marvel?

* not comics: I will never in 100 years understand the costume impulse. On the other hand, "dude in a dress" was a fixture of the Thursday art walks for the last three years I lived there, so I guess this sort of makes sense.

* finally, the writer and comics historian Mark Evanier talks Violet Barclay, and gets into the gossip aspects of her legacy, notable because so little such gossip of that kind has ever made the rounds and those stories definitely made the rounds.
 
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Happy 73rd Birthday, Dan Adkins!

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Happy 46th Birthday, John Nee!

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I think he was a co-founder
 
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Quick hits
Craft
Awww...
No Idea What's Going On Here

History
Don't Turn Into A Tiger
The Battle Of The Hated Characters
Roger Stern Clears Up Some History

Industry
What Mike Lynch Sold

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Ian Brill
CBR: Matt Fraction
Torontoist: Dave Lapp
Newsarama: James Sturm

Not Comics
Jaime's Fave Criterion Films
Holy Crap, It's The New Simon Trailer
How To Reach Rob Clough, If You've Been Trying

Reviews
Matthew Daley: Drop In
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Hulk Vol. 3
Greg McElhatton: First Wave #1
Kelly Thompson: Girl Comics #1
Marc-Oliver Frisch: X-O Manowar #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Archie #605
Sarah Boslaugh: Bokurano Ours Vol. 1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Teen Titans: Deathtrap
Sean T. Collins: Two Eyes Of The Beautiful
Todd Klein: Rocketeer: The Complete Edition
Sarah Boslaugh: Haridama Magic Cram School
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Fantastic Four: The Master Of Doom
 

 
March 14, 2010


Go, Look: Photo Of The Week

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click through to see the whole thing; thanks, James Sturm
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Sunday Interview: Lance Fensterman

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I plan on speaking more than one time to the various convention organizers this year, as that aspect of the comics business remains in a crucially transformational state. Lance Fensterman runs this kind of show when Reed Exhibitions does them. Their inaugural Chicago show C2E2 is forthcoming in April, and their NYCC is scheduled to return this Fall.

I wanted to speak to Lance in person, but his schedule didn't allow. This e-mail exchange is what ended up being doable. I might have pressed him on one or two points had we talked in person, but to his credit Fensterman didn't outright pass on any of the following queries, some of which were kind of obnoxious. I'm grateful for that. I also think he's genuinely confident that his company's Chicago effort is going to work despite a case you might be able to build that says "hedge your bets": all hotels still available, repairing a generally damaged comic convention brand in the city, the task of enticing people past city limits and into downtown whether or not the infrastructure is there, Chicago's traditional and now very lost identity as a regional show, and the worries that retailers might have in committing to yet another comics show. I think they're in it for the long haul -- at least the long haul as measured in comics industry terms -- so it's worth keeping an eye on how next month's show turns out without making too many quick predictions as to what it means -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Lance, you're approximately six weeks out from C2E2... how many advanced tickets have you sold? Has the con met its goals in terms of advanced sales? How much of the show do you perceive being sold in advance?

LANCE FENSTERMAN: Percents can be deceiving compared to actual real numbers, but right now we have a 50 percent increase in ticket sales over NYCC #1. We've used NYCC #1 as a comparable as we expected the shows to be similar in size when we hatched this plan a year ago. I think we are now seeing that C2E2 will be significantly larger. [Editor's Note: that show ended with 33,000 attendees.] We are really, really encouraging fans to buy tickets in advance as we do have some concerns about crowds walking up to buy tickets -- I need not remind any one of NYCC #1 and the crowds!

SPURGEON: Looking at the C2E2 web site, it appears as if you're still taking reservations at all con hotels... has the con met its goals in terms of booking hotel rooms? Should that be taken as a sign as to level of interest in the show overall?

FENSTERMAN: We secured a big bloc of hotels for the show. We typically do so so our fans, exhibitors, guests, etc have a diverse choice. Of all the metrics we have to measure success, I wouldn't put number of hotel nights near the top of the list (unless, of course, you are in the hotel business)

SPURGEON: For that matter, what's the show's capacity?

FENSTERMAN: We have the entire Lakeside Center at McCormick Place so in one sense I'm not concerned about capacity because we have over 600,000 gross square feet of building to work with between a few floors (more when you add in all the meeting rooms we have). I am worried about registration getting overwhelmed with people walking up to buy tickets, which we'll plan for, and the show floor getting really jammed with fans. We typically do a pretty good job though of building big aisles to keep people moving and creating lots of killer programming so people get spread throughout the building.

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SPURGEON: One thing you and I have talked about in the past is that a big part of C2E2's conception of a Chicago show is to bring it into Chicago's beautiful downtown. That carries with it some concern about access, especially for any suburban and especially out of town attendees. It looks like you're going to be using Soldier Field parking, but can you talk in more specific terms about how you're going to bring people to the show directly, how rigorous and timely a shuttle schedule you're planning, if you have any worries about parking capacity?

FENSTERMAN: Unlike New York, Chicago actually has good mass transit to its convention center! It's funny, in some ways, McCormick Place is much, much easier to get people to than the Javits (sorry, New Yorkers). We have a pretty massive people moving plan in place for C2E2; We have shuttles running from all of our hotels all day long. We have tripled shuttle service form what we provide in NYC. We will run shuttles form the nearest CTA stop from the El. There is a METRA (suburban commuter train line) stop in McCormick Place. McCormick Place is on several city bus routes. We have parking at Soldier Field and we also have parking below Lakeside Center where the show is housed. In short, there is no way you cannot get to C2E2.

SPURGEON: Lance, I've seen one or two things about the general support offered the show by the city of Chicago and Mayor Daley. While that's great, I don't know exactly what that means. Beyond general good will an you talk in terms of one or two specific things that the show has gained by having a solid relationship with its host city that it might not have otherwise?

FENSTERMAN: Chicago as a city is thrilled to have C2E2. They are thrilled to have Reed back in McCormick Place where we have not run a show in a number of years. They are hanging C2E2 banners for us around the city, they extended marketing and PR assistance to us, we've had amazing access to Mayor Daley (I had the honor of meeting with him on one of my visits, in fact). The city understands what we are trying to build a national pop culture event in the city of Chicago and, they are hungry to help us and embrace our fans.

imageSPURGEON: Can you describe the nature of your publicity push in Chicago in the weeks leading up to the show, either in contrast to or as a continuance of your publicity efforts so far? Are you doing radio, local print, television...? What's the specific goal of the publicity in the last few weeks?

FENSTERMAN: We've been building our publicity effort for a year, laying the groundwork with our formal "launch" announcement in February '09. From the start, we have wrapped the Chicago media into all our strategy and planning and it seems to be paying off.

So far, we have had an awesome response and I am sensing lots of energy. I was just interviewed by the Chicago Tribune for a preview piece and I am appearing with Geoff Johns on The Steve and Johnnie Show on WGN Radio on Thursday night, April 15 leading into the show. The Mash, which is the Chicago Tribune's free weekly newspaper which is written for and by high school students, is sending a staff of high school students to cover C2E2 and they are interviewing guests in advance, too. It's very cool. WMAQ, the NBC affiliate in Chicago has been in touch with us about doing a piece, and so has Time Out.

Remember... we're still five weeks out from the show, so this kind interest and commitment is a strong indicator of what's to come. We're looking at some really strong enthusiasm and I think we're going to be blasted all over the Chicago media. We will run a TV spots for the next four weeks, we have print ads running in the Chicago Tribune, the RedEye, The Mash and The Onion. The list is pretty long on the marketing side of things, but I'm confident Chicago will know C2E2 is coming.

SPURGEON: I'm a Midwestern native and was a longtime attendee of the original Chicago Con... but from Indiana rather than from Chicago. When that Chicago show worked, the parking lot and lines were filled with cars and people from Champaign and Detroit and Milwaukee and Akron and Indianapolis. Have you been able to target and/or reach out to potential attendees regionally? Can you describe in as much detail as possible what that's entailed? Are you in contact with comic shop owners in these towns, have you done publicity in places like that?

FENSTERMAN: We have reached out to limited retailers in cities outside of Illinois. We have largely waged a national campaign and a local campaign. Meaning we have ads running on every major pop culture web site (Newsarama, CBR, IGN.com, MTV.com, Ain't It Cool News, etc, etc, etc) and I described our local efforts in a previous question but regionally we have not done as much as we will in subsequent years. We felt that in year one, we needed that national pull and we needed to make sure all of the fans in Chicago knew C2E2 was coming, from that solid base we will extend out further and further. We see C2E2 as a national event rooted in the Midwest.

SPURGEON: A telling element of modern comics shows has been the publishers' collective ability to transform them into a kind of temporary news-event and announcement hub. The more cool titles and creative teams and events that get announced at a con, the more cool that con seems to a certain wide swathe of comics fans, and if there are no such announcements it makes the show seem out of favor, even lame. Are you working with the publishers on hand to give them a media platform, or to encourage their using the con this way? How so?

FENSTERMAN: Yeah, for sure. The first way we are working with them is when the event even takes place. Our customers asked us for a spring event and from there they wanted three major, national events, evenly spaced on the calendar they could use as platforms for announcements and launching new products and campaigns. C2E2 is the first step, with our friends in San Diego right in the middle of the calendar and New York Comic Con at the end of the year in October. This allows a time for these companies to refresh in between, reload, and then make more announcements. While it is premature to put C2E2 in the league of NYCC or certainly San Diego, we really feel this is what our customers asked of us we are confident they show will become.

SPURGEON: Since you're starting this show from the ground up and don't have momentum on the side of your relationships with certain exhibitors, and because Wizard briefly had a reputation as a good retailer's show, I wondered if you could talk a bit about comics retailers coming to sell comics at C2E2. How many retailers do you have? Do you have any prominent ones you care to mention? Have there been any difficulties in getting retailers to sign up? What kind of things are you doing to support that area of the show during a time when I as a fan can go on-line and buy books that way? What will make that experience special for the people that come to buy comics? And do you think people still go to buy comics?

FENSTERMAN: Thus far we are enjoying strong success with the dealers and retailers for C2E2. Graham Crackers and Chicago Comics are some key partners on the show floor, but that's just the beginning (in fact even our pals at Midtown Comics are also participating in the show!) Dealers are price sensitive. They are not at a show to build brand or buzz, they are there to sell. In New York we've been very successful with our retailers and dealers and we've tried to replicate certain things for Chicago as well. For starters, we don't jam our show with media types charging our fans for a picture or an autograph. That creates a lot of competition for dealers for the limited money people are walking into the show with.

We have always believed that we charge a price for admission and then do our best to deliver everything after that free of charge. We don't nickel and dime or fans for everything. Secondly, we limit the number of dealer booths we sell. If the dealer section is too huge or that's all the show is, they have more competition for those dollars. We also work with our dealers and retailers on helping them with some of the union rules that exist in the large markets we operate in.

SPURGEON: Since I'm thinking in those terms, what does C2E2 offer as a national show? Say I have a Firefox window open to the Palmer House reservation site right this second, what will I get out of Chicago that I won't get out of other shows -- or to make it easier, what will I get out of that I won't get out of NYCC?

FENSTERMAN: For starters I think you'll get a whole raft of announcements, news, guests and exclusives you won't get anywhere else and I also think we'll deliver the Chicago vibe to you. From the guest lists, the artists, the parties after the show all will be distinctly Chicago.

SPURGEON: What are your some of your benchmarks for success with this show, Lance? What will make this a successful show? Is there a percentage of attendance capacity you're shooting for? If there's going to be room for improvement in any one area, a learning curve, from what area of the show do you think that will come.

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FENSTERMAN: It's five things really: 1) A busy show with tons of fans, professionals, creators and thus happy exhibitors. 2) Buzz before, during and after the show that raises the profile of our business within the media and promotes our customers. 3) Happy fans. We do extensive surveys after ever show and I want to hear they were thrilled with the event. 4) Happy exhibitors. We do those same surveys for our exhibiting customers as well and I want to hear that the show went well, business was good, they saw new fans and they made a new contact to grow their business. 5) Happy professionals. and creators. We let booksellers, librarians, rights professionals, creators into our shows for a reason -- we believe they are the heart of the industry, but also the future. We want business to be done at our cons not just fan fun. We believe it is our responsibility to help grow the industry.

SPURGEON: How deep is your commitment to a Chicago show -- how many years planned ahead and committed are you, or is this a year to year decision? For that matter, your partnerships like the Diamond Retailer Summit and the concurrent academic conference. Are those ongoing commitments or is there a wait and see element to all such partnerships?

FENSTERMAN: We are committed to Chicago. We have a multi-year deal with McCormick Place because we are committed to the vision our customers had about three massive "tent pole" events in different parts of the country and different times of the year. We think Chicago needs an event like this and our customers want it. While I don't think it's appropriate for me to speak for Diamond, we are committed to creating valuable experiences for the retailer community with Diamond for years to come.

SPURGEON: I'm walking out of the show during its last hour on its last day and you're walking in. We stop to talk. What are we talking about?

FENSTERMAN: What beer I'm going up to my office to open.

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Go, Buy: Last Day For Paul Hornschemeier Custom Art Sale

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If I Were In Florida, 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 Spain, I'd Go To This

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Tom Batiuk!

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I think this is Batiuk
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Brian Walker!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Steve Bissette!

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Happy 44th Birthday, JP Stassen!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Simon Fraser!

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I think this is Fraser
 
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FFF Results Post #201 -- Covered

On Friday, CR readers were asked," Based on the Penguin line of Literary Reprints, Pick Five Works of Literature and Who Should Design the Covers for Them. Use This Format Exactly Or Your Submission Will Be Deleted." This is how they responded.

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov -- Junko Mizuno
2. Setting Sun, Osamu Dazai -- Sara Pichelli
3. The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford -- Chynna Clugston
4. Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote -- Tonci Zonjic
5. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald -- Joelle Jones

*****

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Tucker Stone

1. The Age of Reason, Jean-Paul Sartre -- Amanda Conner
2. The Waves, Virginia Woolf -- Jim Steranko
3. The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford -- Kazuo Umezu
4. Malone Dies, Samuel Beckett -- Darwyn Cooke
5. Herland, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Selected Writings, Charlotte Perkins Gilman -- Johnny Ryan

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Hardy Boys Mysteries, Franklin W. Dixon -- Chester Brown
2. The Nancy Drew Mysteries, Carolyn Keene -- Richard Sala
3. Jernigan, David Gates -- Dan Clowes
4. The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe -- Darwyn Cooke
5. The Lord Of The Rings, JRR Tolkien -- Al Columbia

*****

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Sean T. Collins

* Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell -- Anders Nilsen
* Under Western Eyes, Joseph Conrad -- Naoki Urasawa
* Lord of the Flies, William Golding -- Frank Quitely
* The Death of Ivan Ilych, Leo Tolstoy -- Robert Crumb
* The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer -- Kate Beaton

*****

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Marc Oliver-Frisch

1. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe -- Jim Steranko
2. Manhattan Transfer, John Dos Passos -- Marcos Martin
3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce -- J. H. Williams III
4. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut -- Frank Quitely
5. The Ghost Writer, Philip Roth -- Igor Kordey

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy -- Paul Pope
2. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand -- Steve Ditko
3. The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky -- David B.
4. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- Beto
5. Martin Dressler, Steven Millhauser -- Chris Ware

*****

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Aaron White

1. Franny and Zooey, J. D. Salinger -- Kate Beaton
2. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake -- Ben Catmull
3. The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing -- Lauren Weinstein
4. The Last Picture Show, Larry McMurtry -- Matthew Thurber
5. We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver -- Rick Trembles

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Les Chants de Maldoror, Comte de Lautréamont -- Gabrielle Bell
2. What Makes Sammy Run, Budd Schulberg -- Ron Regé Jr.
3. Sunset Gun, Dorothy Parker -- Lilli Carré
4. The Wood Beyond the World, William Morris -- Mark Beyer
5. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott -- Lynda Barry

*****

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Chad Nevett

1. Ulysses, James Joyce -- Chris Ware
2. Devils, Fyodor Dostoevsky -- Rian Hughes
3. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis -- Bill Sienkiewicz
4. 1984, George Orwell -- Carlos Segura
5. V., Thomas Pynchon -- David Lloyd

*****

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Mike Lynch

1. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields -- Cathy Guisewite
2. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte -- Ai Yazawa
3. Selected Poems, Robert Browning -- Rod McKie
4. The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen -- George Booth
5. The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann Wyss -- Jeff and Bil Keane

*****

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Rich Tommaso

1. Post Office, Charles Bukowski -- Yoshihiro Tatsumi
2. The Divine Invasion, Philip K. Dick-- James Jean
3. Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth -- Joe Matt
4. Pop. 1280, Jim Thompson -- Rich Tommaso
5. The Underground Man, Ross Macdonald -- Jim Rugg

*****

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Mauricio Matamoros

1. The Dunwich Horror, H. P. Lovecraft -- Alex Nino
2. The Book of the Law, Aleister Crowley -- Alan Moore
3. The Bible -- Todd Klein
4. The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty -- Danijel Zezelj
5. The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury -- Brandon Peterson

*****

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Robert Martin

1. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller -- José Munoz
2. In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust -- Chris Ware
3. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman -- R. Crumb
4. The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot -- Gary Panter
5. JR, William Gaddis -- David Mazzucchelli

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Death in Venice (and Other Stories), Thomas Mann -- Eddie Campbell
2. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie -- Ralph Steadman
3. Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut -- Killoffer (See Donjon Monsters: Les Profondeurs)
4. Foundation, Isaac Asimov -- James Turner
5. The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood -- Emmanuel Guibert

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs -- Ivan Brunetti
2. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck -- Gilbert Hernandez
3. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John le Carré -- Charles Burns
4. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger -- Lynda Barry
5. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov -- Johnny Ryan

*****

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Michael DeForge

* J, Kenzaburo Oe -- Ivan Brunetti
* The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier -- David B
* The Monkey Grammarian, Octavio Paz -- Ron Regé Jr
* Return from the Stars, Stanislaw Lem -- Kevin Huizenga
* The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth, HG Wells -- Brendan McCarthy

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky -- Sean Phillips
2. MASH, Richard Hooker -- Sam Glanzman
3. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck -- Frank Quietly
4. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll -- Jill Thompson
5. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson -- Jaime Hernandez

*****

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William Burns

* Hamlet, William Shakespeare -- JH Williams III
* The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald -- Darwyn Cooke
* The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith -- Sean Phillips
* The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Edgar Allan Poe -- Mike Mignola
* The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde -- Alison Bechdel

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Around The World In Eighty Days, Jules Verne -- Moebius
2. Travels With Charley: In Search Of America, John Steinbeck -- Darwyn Cooke
3. The Wings of the Dove, Henry James -- Jill Thompson
4. Our Man In Havana, Graham Greene -- Howard Chaykin
5. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair -- John Paul Leon

*****

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Gary Usher

1. The Way Some People Die, Ross MacDonald -- Jaime Hernandez
2. A Killer is Loose, Gil Brewer -- Kevin Huizenga
3. Operation Breakthrough, Dan J. Marlowe -- Gilbert Hernandez
4. Down There, David Goodis -- Tim Lane
5. The World of Null-A, A.E. Van Vogt -- Dash Shaw

*****

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Eric Reynolds

1. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad -- Ralph Steadman
2. Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian -- Tony Millionaire
3. Miss Lonelyhearts / Day of the Locust, Nathaniel West -- Tim Hensley
4. Animal Farm, George Orwell -- R. Crumb
5. Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger --Adrian Tomine

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. The Violent Bear it Away, Flannery O'Connor -- Roz Chast
2. The Innocents, Truman Capote -- Michael Maslin
3. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers -- Liza Donnelly
4. Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns -- Jack Ziegler
5. Black Betty, Walter Moseley -- Charles Barsotti

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls -- Bill Watterson
2. Catch-22, Joseph Heller -- Joe Sacco
3. The Diary of Anne Frank -- Debbie Drechsler
4. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie -- Dave Sim
5. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut -- Art Spiegelman

*****

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J.E.Cole

* The Aeneid, Virgil -- Juan Giménez
* The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison -- Sean Phillips
* The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli -- Lee Bermejo
* Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell -- Chris Weston
* The Epic of Gilgamesh, Anonymous -- Claire Wendling

*****

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Nat Gertler

1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain -- Raina Telgemeier
2. Psmith, Journalist, P.G. Wodehouse -- Carla Speed McNeil
3. Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe -- Cary Nord
4. The Mouse that Roared, Leonard Wibberly -- Linda Medley
5. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald -- Barry Windsor Smith

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Peter Pan, J.M Barrie -- Kazu Kibuishi
2. The Stranger, Albert Camus -- Steve Ditko
3. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand -- Jim Steranko
4. The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll -- Steve Ellis
5. A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift -- Roger Langridge

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Go, John Clellon Holmes -- George McManus
2. Howl and Other Poems, Allen Ginsberg -- George Herriman
3. Big Sur, Jack Kerouac -- Winsor McCay
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey -- Rudolph Dirks
5. The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, William Burroughs -- Chester Gould

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecroft Shelley -- Frank Miller
2. Catch-22, Joseph Heller -- Robert Williams
3. Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain -- Kiyohiko Azuma
4. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand -- Steve Ditko
5. The Kama Sutra, Mallanaga Vatsyayana -- Rube Goldberg

*****

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Uriel A. Duran

1) The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories, Jack London -- Brian Bolland
2) Inferno, Dante -- Jim Mahfood
3) Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka -- Bill Sienkiewicz
4) The Art of War, Sun Tzu -- Kristian Donaldson
5) Moby Dick, Herman Melville -- Dan Brereton

*****

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Tom Mason

* Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett -- Darwyn Cooke
* The Code of the Woosters, P.G. Wodehouse -- Gilbert Hernandez
* Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome -- Evan Dorkin
* The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon -- Frank Quitely
* Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson -- Seth

*****

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Ian Sampson

* Nostromo, Joseph Conrad -- Sam Hiti
* The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury -- Paul Chadwick
* Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A Heinlein -- Paul Pope
* A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain -- Jim Rugg
* Tales of the Alhambra, Washington Irving -- Guy Davis

*****

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Chris Randle

1. The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov -- Hope Larson
2. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst -- David Mazzucchelli
3. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter -- Junko Mizuno
4. Cigarettes, Harry Mathews -- Chris Ware
5. The Show That Smells, Derek McCormack -- Maurice Vellekoop

*****

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Mandy Dunn

* To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee -- Gipi
* The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov -- Farel Dalrymple
* Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller -- Jeffrey Brown
* A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith -- Raina Telgemeier
* Franny and Zooey, J. D. Salinger -- Bryan Lee O'Malley

*****
*****
 
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The Comics Reporter Video Parade




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March 13, 2010


CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from March 6 to March 12, 2010:

1. As someone put it (can't find it!) the Danish Cartoons Controversy becomes a Coen Brothers film: among those conspiring to assassinate the artists Lars Wilks for his 2007 drawing of Muhammad's head on a dog's body? Forty-six-year-old Colleen LaRose of Pennsylvania.

2. Turkish courts convict British artist and give him jail sentence, immediately commuted.

3. The Eknaligoda Family points the finger at the Sri Lanka government for the kidnapping of family head Prageeth, a kidnapped cartoonist/journalist missing now for six weeks.

Winner Of The Week
Your 2010 Doug Wright Award nominees

Loser Of The Week
Any comics fans rolling in the aisles and foaming at the mouth at not getting some comics priced really low because of a computer glitch.

Quote Of The Week
"You just spend your entire life in [a] low-level money panic." -- Kieron Gillen

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today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

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

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If I Were In Chicago, 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 Florida, 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 Spain, I'd Go To This

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Happy 41st Birthday, Mike Sterling!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Al Jaffee!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Andrew Weiss!

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March 12, 2010


Friday Distraction: This Already Happened

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Go, Look: Lamelos Web Site

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i've done the blog but not the web site; warning: there's music
 
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Your 2010 Doug Wright Nominees

Names of the 15 finalists for this year's Doug Wright Awards were released earlier today. They are:

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Best Book

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* Back + Forth, Marta Chudolinska (The Porcupine's Quill)

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* George Sprott: (1894-1975), Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)

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* Hot Potatoe, Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)

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* Kaspar, Diane Obomsawin (Drawn and Quarterly)

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* Red: A Haida Manga, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Douglas and McIntyre)

*****

Best Emerging Talent

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* Adam Bourret, I'm Crazy

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* Michael DeForge, Lose #1 (Koyama Press), Cold Heat Special #7 (Picturebox)

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* Pascal Girard, Nicolas (Drawn and Quarterly)

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* John Martz, It's Snowing Outside. We Should Go For a Walk.

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* Sully, The Hipless Boy (Conundrum Press)

*****

Pigskin Peters Award

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* Bébête Simon Bossé (L'Oie de Cravan)

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* Dirty Dishes, Amy Lockhart (Drawn and Quarterly)

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* Hot Potatoe, Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)

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* Never Learn Anything From History, Kate Beaton

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* The Collected Doug Wright Volume One, Doug Wright (Drawn and Quarterly)

*****

The Doug Wright Awards go to the best in English-language Canadian comics. The Pigskin Peters award is for unconventional, "nominally-narrative" comics. This year's nominees by a five-member panel: Jeet Heert, Jerry Ciccoritti, Chester Brown, Sean Rogers, Bryan Munn. The winners will be chosen by a different jury. This sixth annual iteration of the awards will be handed out the Saturday night of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival in early May.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Scott Jason Smith

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Spring Convention Season Begins Today

Orlando's MegaCon -- a comics and media con of the regional and not quite national variety -- kicks off at 1 PM eastern today with a comics guest list that includes but is certainly not limited to Darwyn Cooke, Don Rosa and George Perez. As it's still snowing some places in North America, I can imagine those heading to Orlando feel like they maybe figured something out.

imageTomorrow's Emerald City Con in Seattle -- a regional show with a slightly greater focus on comics and individual meet and greets of the Heroes Con variety -- opens up tomorrow at the Washington State Convention Center. Its guest list includes Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, Geoff Johns and a terrifying, goblin-like army of Pacific Northwest cartoonists and comics creators made up of the likes of Ed Brubaker, Jeff Parker and Matt Fraction. That's become a very good show, as a matter of fact, with one weekend highlight being whatever art show opening the Fantagraphics store holds for that Saturday -- in this case one featuring the future greatest living cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez. If there's a greater comics-related joy to be had on an early Spring Saturday sipping beers, hanging out in Seattle's cartooning headquarters, finding out you're standing next to Jim Woodring while occasionally taking a focused gander at Beto's originals, I haven't been informed as to what that might be. Be sure if you're heading to that show to enjoy the range of creators and your access to them relative to the impossibility of this at some other shows. If you're coming in from out of town, try to enjoy Seattle as well: it's a great city to visit; many, many places within its borders are well-suited for large tables of giddy, chatting people drinking designer beers; it's a better-than-average breakfast town and the fans are highly knowledgeable.

And hold on: it may for a lot of you seem like a dead run of comics and comics-related shows from this weekend through July, including an April of major events every single weekend.
 
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Let's All Get Drunk And Take Pictures

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Jack Kerouac would have been 88 years old today
 
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Violet "Valerie" Barclay, 1922-2010

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CR has heard from a pair of sources that Valerie Barclay, one of a handful of working female cartoonists at the end of the comic book industry's heyday in the 1940s and into the early 1950s, passed away on February 26 after a long period of decline. If these reports are true, she was 87 years old. Barclay was perhaps best known for being celebrated as "Violet Barclay, Glamorous Girl Inker" in Stan Lee's Secrets Behind The Comics, where she offered up as proof that both men and women worked in the comics field.

imageBarclay was born Violet Barclay in Manhattan in 1922. (She later adopted the name Valerie without legally changing her name.) She attended School of Industrial Art High School and then School Of Visual Arts. In a 2004 interview, she recalled the she received her first job in comics through Mike Sekowsky, who secured a staff inker position for her at Stan Lee's Timely Comics. This was apparently at the point when the company had relocated to the Empire State Building office, yet before Stan Lee's entrance into the service. During the 1940s, Timely made a line-shift in the heart of its output to publishing a number of humor comics, and it looks like Barclay had credits on a number of those, including the wonderfully-named Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal.

Barclay left Timely in 1949, in part because of the personal tensions in the office, becoming a freelancer for a number of companies including ACG, St. John, Ace, Standard and, briefly, DC Comics. Unable to find work in the field as censorship pressures, declining sales general and distribution difficulties began to squeeze the industry, Barclay temporarily turned to modeling and back to hostessing before moving into a long career in fashion illustration. She later turned to painting.

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Go, Look: Lois And Clark Do It

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New Bookstore For iPad Plans NOT To Shoot Itself In The Foot Over Comics For No Reason At All

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has word that decent-performing bookstore category comics and graphic novels will also have a category in the eventual iPad store. This would be a really weird story if the device had decided to blow off comics, although maybe the fact that manga will be a subset of that announced category or the level at which comics will operate are things people were waiting to hear.
 
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Missed It: Hugh Hefner Cartoons

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

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

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If I Were In Chicago, 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 Florida, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Plastic Man #16

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Go, Look: Schulz Self-Portrait

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Go, Look: Monsters For Rent

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Go, Look: Monster Hunters #7

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* if you read one interview/article/feature today, make it Jason Miles' interview with Dylan Williams.

* if you have much less time than that, NeilAlien's link-line to the Peter Parker Unemployed thing made me laugh.

image* this is beautiful.

* a lot of these notebook entries at Comics Comics are really fascinating but it's awfully hard to link to any one thing of particular interest.

* not comics: I'm going to repeat this a few more times here, as it occurs to me: I'm afraid I'm not interested in running links to your Kickstarter project. I wish you all the luck in the world, and I'm glad you have a new and novel option, but your putting together the basic components of publishing a work isn't newsworthy all by itself. If you haven't educated yourself on it, here's a very positive article on The Daily Cross Hatch.

* not comics: while I'm at it, I maintain a presence on Facebook and sometimes leave it open for hours on end, on some tab located in some browser window. I'm not ignoring your invitation to chat, it's that I won't see it for a long, long time. E-mail's still the best.

* I like and admire much of the work CBR's Kiel Phegley does, but I'm a bit baffled by this new series. Is there really a chance that there are editors out there that aren't going to be positive in possibly fulsome fashion about their current line-up of books?

* it's always a joy to find out the odd things they're doing in superhero comics these days, like apparently having a super-villain chop off Speedy's arm and kill his elementary school age daughter. My first reaction was horror and disgust that there's an audience for that kind of weird, distasteful use of what are remain, ostensibly, children's characters. My second reaction was if this means we somehow get to see a three-page scene of Speedy trying to get high with one arm, it's all worth it.

* finally, Christopher Allen weighs in on that older guard doing graphic novels thing.
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Sy Barry!

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Happy 57th Birthday, RA Jones!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Graham Nolan!

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Quick hits
Craft
On The Zebra G Pen
Elijah Brubaker Sketches

Exhibits/Events
Ronald Wimberly Is In Japan
Periscope Studio At Emerald City Con

History
News Of Yore
The Proto-George Evans
Brian Boyd On The Origins Of Comics

Interviews/Profiles
SuperI.T.C.H.: Nancy Goldstein

Not Comics
The Earth Moved
Hooray For Traveller
JH Williams Loves New York City
We're Not Sure How We Feel About It, Either

Publishing
PvP Vol. 7 Debuts At ECCC

Reviews
Charles Yoakum: Genesis
Sandy Bilus: Crogan's March
Sean T. Collins: All Star Superman
Ed Sizemore: Alive: The Final Evolution Vols. 4-8
 

 
Coming Soon To A Ride-Along Position Deep In The Underpants Of Your Otherwise Mostly Normal Pals

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March 11, 2010


Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Tahawwur Rana has once again been denied bail according to the charges brought against him regarding scouting sites for the Mumbai Massacre and planning harm from the Jyllands-Posten news building, editor Flemming Rose and cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. I guess he's been asking for bail a bunch of times.

* NPR unpacks the Jihad Jane mini-news phenomenon.

* if you want to chop your way into Lars Vilks' home, he's prepared to chop back. That article also provides a fine summary of how that drawing was originally published and a rundown of who republished it this week and why. Here's an entire article focused on the re-publishing of that drawing.
 
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Go, Look: Hanneriina Moisseinen

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Family Of Missing Cartoonist/Journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda Fear He's Dead

The saga of the missing Sri Lankan cartoonist/journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda is stretching to the six-week mark. There's little ground left to cover on his pre-election disappearance except to include more family members in public expressions of fear for his fate and to publish more international organization supporting the family and regional groups in their condemnation of his abduction. This article gives us both. Also included is the fact that Eknaligoda had planned an exhibition of his cartoons this year, which one hopes can still happen if not for the best reason than as something of a response to the worst.
 
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Go, Look: New David Hahn Site

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Your 2010 BSJA Cartoonist Winners

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I made a solemn vow back in 2004 that this site would report each and every scrap of sports cartoon-related news that came its way, out of deference to a once towering and vital but definitely still out there expression of the art form. That is why we were so glad to see the results of the cartoonist category at the British Sports Journalism Awards. The winner was Paul Wood of The Premiersh*ts, which runs in Private Eye; while the runner-up was Nick Newman of the Sunday Times. The awards are voted upon by a short list of five to six peers, made public on the awards program's ballot. I believe without knowing 100 percent of sure that Newman is more explicitly that paper's "pocket cartoonist" -- the best job designation in cartooning -- and it's just that a number of his smaller illustrations and cartoons are either by design or accident sports-related.

that Wood cartoon is from recently, and probably wasn't one of the cartoons for which he won; it just occurred to me that with the John Terry story front and center Wood's cartoon must be a joy to do right now.
 
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Go, Look: Town Tamer

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Analysts: February 2010 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 February 2010.

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 picked the cover image above because that was the last comic book on the chart to sell over 50,000 copies: 26 copies pushed past that mark on these initial sales. I'm sort of interested in the 50,000 and 25,000 thresholds. My interest in that particular market isn't solely tied into the aggregate or into the fate individual comics. I'm also interest in how many comics, for instance, have traction with readers. Because the market can be manipulated to churn out high-end sellers and flooded to churn out a greater interest in low-end sellers. So it's my own personal measure of how many books make a middle-class living or above (50K) and how many books operate well above every cynical model of profitability I've ever heard expressed (25K). So here are the number of old-fashioned comic books exceeding 50K and 25K over the last five years.

2010 -- 26, 72
2009 -- 22, 72
2008 -- 34, 81
2007 -- 37, 80
2006 -- 31, 83
2005 -- 27, 79
2004 -- 30, 78
2003 -- 19, 68
2002 -- 16, 64

Now, it's not like such made-up numbers mean anything. They're just for my own personal musing. There are all sorts of problems asserting specific numbers mean specifically what anyone says they mean on charts like these, because the number of qualifying factors is almost always immense, starting with the re-order For instance, you could look at the numbers now and suggest "Those event tie-ins probably make up more of the comics middle class than in the past." But the distinctions between something related to the mini-series with a colon-ed title and the ongoing titles linked to the current event are difficult to parse, and so on. It does look like there's a bit of a bow in that chart, though.

I don't have anything else -- Fables sure has become a solid performer in trade form for that market. ICV2.com led its analysis with the top of the chart stuff: Blackest Night still bringing in the orders late in its run, Siege not dropping off no matter what you may think of its original performance. I think the Siege numbers are interesting and no one should be mocked for noting that they're not as high as some people think -- some of the same people doing the mocking were quick to point out when DC's Final Crisis had a similar case of perceived under-performance back in 2008. I'll agree that some of the analysis of why seems weird to me. I know I've read some stuff that suggests the concept isn't very solid, and while few such series will match Civil War in terms of an easy-to-digest, little-kid-awesome concept, "super-villains invade Asgard" -- at least I think that's what Siege is about --- seems fine to me with 11-year-old me. (I just checked; he's eating a bowl of chicken nuggets and playing on the Atari 2600, but he's giving me a thumbs up.) There are some secondary analyses of content out that that seem to me a bit more convincing, for sure, about how fans may have perceived this series as a mega-cycle ending, and the structural issues raised also seem worth raising.
 
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Go, Look: Dennis The Menace #62

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Turhan Selçuk, 1922-2010

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According to wire reports, Turkish cartoonist Turhan Selçuk passed away early today in Istanbul. He died during surgery at Acidbadem Maslak Hospital, where he was a patient in intensive care.

Selçuk began his long and distinguished career as a magazine cartoonist, founding a caricature association and finding clients in a number of late 1940s magazine including Tasvir and Aydede. In 1949 he began working with his first newspaper, drawing for them as well as penning articles on the history of caricature. By 1951 he enjoyed his first exhibition and by 1954 he had founded two comics magazines (41Buçuk, Karikatur) and had released his first book, The Turhan Sel&@231;uk Caricature Album. These were considered generational moments in terms of cartoon art in the region, as opposed to solely singular achievements.

In 1955, he joined the daily newspaper Milliyet as its main cartoonist, beginning a series of employment runs at such publications that included Yeni Istanbul (1969), Aksam (1969) and Cumhuriyet (1972). Selçuk was recognized with honorary degrees, showed his work international via museum collection and tour and won several international awards.
 
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Go, Look: Noel Sickles Original

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Philadelphia: All (The Indigant Reactions To A) News (Cartoon) Is Local

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If you ever wondered why even the medium-sized paper editorial cartoon contributors might sometimes seem to prefer broader, national commentary, check out the heat heaved Tony Auth's way for a pretty standard "sleeping on the job" cartoon aimed at South Philly High principal LaGreta Brown. The odd thing is that the responses from her defenders and political supporters feel the need to point out that Brown isn't actually physically sleeping on the job, which is one of those things where you go, "Nobody seeing Tony Auth's cartoon will think that" before you go, "Okay, maybe they will, but still!" and then you finally go, "Point to the critics." I guess it's a step up from Turkey, where the Prime Minister seems to believe he's actually being described as a half-animal.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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Happy 46th Birthday, Lea Hernandez!

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

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Go, Look: Rocky Rhodes

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Go, Look: John Rosenberger Comics

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Go, Look: Dave Berg's Alice

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Go, Look: Tom & Jerry #69

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Douglas Wolk has some cogent analysis here of J. Michael Straczynski being named Superman and Wonder Woman writer. He notes that 1) JMS hasn't exactly set the sales charts on fire with his DC work, 2) he seems to like Superman a lot and Wonder Woman kind of, sort of, 3) he's had some issues getting work out on time. Should be interesting to see what happens. Poor Wonder Woman.

image* I sure did not expect to open up CBR and see an interview with Darryl Cunningham.

* Frank Santoro asks why more of the 1970s mainstream superstars don't do longform work. It's an interesting, but I honestly think it's probably just not a financial arrangement that works for most of those artists, writers and cartoonists. At any rate, BWS and Walt Simonson are working on longform works, and although he's of a previous generation Joe Kubert seems reasonably comfortable working in longer increments.

* not comics: yeah, this is pretty much why I don't care for on-line communities. There's a sweet spot in there where people are being nice to each before they get all self-referential, but it never lasts for more than a few months.

* this made me laugh.

* Mark Siegel talks a bit -- just a bit -- about First Second's plans to publish some of their works as webcomics in advance of graphic novels.

* not comics: the artist and industry advocate Lea Hernandez is essentially rebooting her life. She talks about it here and provides links and suggestions if you're inclined to lend her a hand in some way.

* finally, it's all over except the complaining. Johanna Draper Carlson looks at the Amazon.com pricing glitch story one more time. Apparently, because Amazon.com isn't run by lunatics, they have retained the right to not send people books when a glitch lists their prices at a ridiculous level. This won't fly in nerd court, however.
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Mark Evanier At WonderCon

History
Catman Is Sexy
PAD On Comics Code '92
He Dreams Of His TCJ Interview
When Is Superman Not Exactly Superman?

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: Jason Aaron
CBR: Jim McCann, David Lopez
CBR: James Robinson, Sterling Gates

Not Comics
The Film Industry Is Gross
Howard Cruse Got A Haircut

Publishing
Savage Critics Back Up
Wondermark Vol. 3 Previewed
Wondermark Vol. 3 Previewed
Good News And Bad News For Psychiatric Tales

Reviews
Brian Heater: Newave
Matt Springer: Marvel Boy
Grant Goggans: The Best Of Battle
Tim O'Neil: Punisher MAX: Butterfly
Greg McElhatton: One Piece: East Blue 1-2-3
 

 
March 10, 2010


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* there's a two-page Dan Clowes Wilson story in this week's New Yorker that isn't in the forthcoming D&Q collection of the same name.

image* the big publishing news story of the week is Fantagraphics working with longtime scholar/translator/writer/editor Matt Thorn on a line of comics featuring translated manga. Highlights of the announcements, which were spread out among official PR and a number of posts from those involved, were as far as I can figure it as follows:
+ the first two books will be Drunken Dream a collection of short stories from Moto Hagio in multiple genres from the years 1971-2007. (PR)
+ the first book will be the first in a multi-volume series called Wandering Son from Shimura Takako. (PR)
+ both of these initial hardcovers will be released right-to-left style. (PR)
+ the legendary Hagio will be attending CCI 2010 as a special guest in support of that first book. Usually that means multiple signings, a spotlight panel and perhaps participation on a secondary, group, themed panel. (PR plus my own supposition regarding standard opportunities for international guests at CCI)
+ the line has its origin event the Comics Journal issue on Shojo manga (#269, that featured an interview with Hagio. Then-managing editor Dirk Deppey worked with Thorn on that interview and that issue, which was a precursor to this more involved publishing commitment. (Deppey's Second Statement, details confirmed by Cohen via e-mail).
+ it didn't make the PR, but Deppey describe the deal as an agreement signed with the publisher Shogakukan in addition to it being a line edited and curated by Thorn, so I guess that would be the source of most of the comics they'll be doing. (Deppey Initial Announcement)
+ Deppey will be a consulting editor on the line (Deppey's Second Statement)
+ Matt Thorn has in mind the line-up for the Hagio book, part of which he put together with the help of other knowledgeable manga readers by suggesting an imaginary anthology of its kind. (Thorn)
+ I remain genuinely interested in the length of time -- four years -- the line took in development, just as a process story if nothing else. Although I'm not sure Fantagraphics' Jacq Cohen's answer to my query on the matter really explains much of anything, it is highly amusing. "Good things take time. Fantagraphics likes to marinate on the books we publish. We want to make sure we hold up to to our slogan/mission/tagline/barometer, 'Publisher of the world's greatest cartoonists.' So, starting a line of manga (and I specify 'line' not an 'imprint') there was a lot of careful planning that went into what books, creators, content, etc. Also, everyone is really fucking busy around here." I'm also not sure exactly why the line/imprint distinction is important, but hey, noted.
I join the chorus of voices that looks forward to what sounds like a great line of comics.

* the Steve Kelley/Jeff Parker recent launch Dustin has pushed past the 100-client market, a sign whenever it happens of a likely hit strip that will be around for a while and a sign in distressed times such of these that the strip has been extremely well-received.

* the writer Gail Simone will be leaving a high-profile run on DC's Wonder Woman title at some unspecified near-future time. Simone has been on the prime superheroine's title since 2007. She will continue with the writing gig on the title by which she (mostly) made her name: Birds Of Prey. J. Michael Straczynski will take over the character, which along with his writing duties on the Superman character makes him a formidable force at the icon-interested new DC, an observation I'm sure has been made in countless blogs I barely scan. Wonder Woman is a difficult character in that she's a licensing A-teamer and a Direct Market as its currently constituted in terms of a devoted readership C-teamer.

* since the publication of Girl Comics put into play the opportunity that female creators get in the mainstream comic book part of the comics market, it's nice to see Marvel launch a summer mini-series that give Kathryn Immonen a multiiple-character book to write for a very talented artist and features a bunch of Marvel's underrated roster of female characters (Valkyrie and the African-American Captain Marvel seem like pretty good characters to me, anyway). Marvel's done a pretty good job developing not exactly A-list characters in those space opera comics they've done, and I think efforts like that that also pay attention to just getting certain talented creators more work would be a fine, Marvelish way to rectify some diversity issues.

* finally, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail noting that Marvel isn't the only one trying to make an all-female creator anthology work in a constrictive market: Lombard's anthology Kramix apparently launched with a first issue of only female creators, although it sounds like format has been a bigger issue in initial attempts to find a foothold for that title in an astonishingly crowded French-language market.

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Go, Bookmark: SM Vidaurri's Webcomic Iron, or The Propagandist

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Not Comics: British Artist Has Jail Time Commuted In Most Recent Application Of Crappy Turkish Law

The story itself is pretty straight-forward: Michael Dickinson, a British artist living in Turkey, was convicted of insulting the dignity and honor of Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan through a collage/cartoon that featured the PM's head on the body of a dog. The sentence came out to 425 days in prison, which was immediately commuted to a middle four-figure fine. When Dickinson declared he wouldn't pay, the judge told him as long as he didn't do it again, he wouldn't have to.

As the article explain, it's just another week of artists living with the country's criminal code, particularly article 125, through which powerful political figures like the Prime Minister use the court to try artists for insulting depictions. This has included a number of cartoonists. The combination of a political figure thinking they have the right to act without potential insult, the law itself, the willingness of a political figure to work in a court system that may favor them just because of who they are, and a wide array of application strategies by judges and prosecutors makes Turkey a routinely awful place for free expression. Moreover, it's a basic set-up you also see in other countries, which means it has a foothold in popular thinking.
 
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Go, Look: Al Hirschfeld Caricatures From The Covers Of American Mercury

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some of these are really beautiful: 1, 2
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* so with the unsealing of federal indictments, the world learned yesterday the arrest of multiple plotters conspiring to assassinate the Swedish Cartoon Lars Wilks for a cartoon he did in the wake of the Danish Cartoons Controversy of 2005 putting Muhammad's head on a dog's body included 46-year-old Colleen LaRose of Pennsylvania. She's been held since last Fall. Her American citizenship has set off the expected ruckus in terms of "hidden" American terrorists and the like, and I'm not sure there's anything to do but to sit back, but on one's reading glasses, and see what rolls out of that particular event. The oddest thing to me initially is that an American citizen has any knowledge of or interest in events in another country.

* a new poll finds that a slight majority (51 percent) of Danes do not support the apology issued by the newspaper Politiken over their re-release of the Kurt Westergaard bomb-in-turban cartoon a couple of years back.

* here's some context about the death threats faced by Lars Vilks. I can't imagine just folding something like that into your daily/weekly/monthly life, but I guess you wouldn't have a choice.
 
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Go, Look: Steranko X-Mas Card?

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Kieron Gillen: "You Just Spend Your Entire Life In Low-Level Money Panic"

Kevin Melrose pulled a quote out of a Kieron Gillen interview at Comics Alliance that talks more openly than usual about the dire financial situation facing the vast, vast majority of comic book series out there, series that operate primarily through the Direct Market. It's almost impossible to extrapolate market correction from the success/failure of one series, but I think hearing about how close that particular creative team was from being able to do 48 issues rather than 13, the relative tiny number involved, makes you want ask a bunch of why questions.

The one thing that's confusing to me is that there are more diverse, upper-end, almost-boutique comics stores than ever before -- real have-to-visit stores for adult comics fans -- and there hasn't been a significant loss of the sturdy all-services, take-care-of-everyone comics stores, either. If there are 60 stores in 2010 that play roughly the same role 24 stores did in 1996, why isn't there a corresponding bump for select indy/alt titles on that kind of scale? I'm not suggesting there aren't answers, because there are a ton bandied about. One is that the quality of indy/alt comics simply isn't what it used to be. Another is that Marvel/DC sells more relatively modest-selling comics than ever, so if a store is looking for books to groom into minor by-store sensations they're as likely to afford that space to Agents of Atlas as they might have once given that space to Yummy Fur. But I would think by this time there'd be a few causes steamrolling in clarity.
 
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Go, Look: DC Back-Up Stories

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Your 31st Scottish Press Awards Cartoonist Of The Year Nominees

The 31st iteration of the Scottish Press Awards has released a number of its shortlists in various categories, including Cartoonist Of The Year. They are:

* Brian Adcock -- Scotland on Sunday
* Frank Boyle -- Edinburgh Evening News
* Steven Camley -- The Herald
* Bill McArthur -- The Herald
* Brian Petrie -- The Scottish Sun

As is usual with such programs, those of us with little knowledge of this particular realm of cartooning are happy for the introduction to a slate of cartoonists and the context that they are at least well-regarded. The awards -- the Oscars of the Scottish Press -- are scheduled for April 22 in Glasgow. Last year's winner was Steven Camley; Brian Petrie was runner-up.
 
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Go, Look: Moto Hagio Collages

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Go, Look: New Funnies #83

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Go, Look: The Demon From Beyond

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Go, Look: Castle Of Otranto

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Go, Look: Jack Kirby Originals

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I really wasn't expecting to stop by Blog Flume and see a review of Girl Comics #1.

image* another reader-directed interview with Marvel's Tom Brevoort mentions that they've actually spoken with the Fu Manchu rights holders about maybe eventually doing something with those Master Of Kung Fu comics collection-wise, although there's nothing concrete or timely to report.

* Gary Groth writes about Norman Pettingill.

* Alan Gardner takes more than the usual delight in saying an early goodbye to Internet instigator Bad Cartoonist.

* the great Ron Rege, Jr. is selling some drawings of his he found for $40 each. Way better than 800 pages of Secret Wars II for $8.

* finally, I don't do that well with keeping up with multiple-part interviews -- frankly, I hate 'em 90 percent of the time -- but it looks like Fantagraphics is celebrating its manga line in part by re-running Matt Thorn's Moto Hagio interview from the Journal a few years back. So you might want to track that if you're a fan or just inquisitive. I remember that being a good piece.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Randy Chang!

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Quick hits
Craft
Huh?
Hulk Pants
Craig Thompson Sketches
Bully's Like Into Puzzles Now
Erika Moen Talks Cover Design

Exhibits/Events
Go See David Lasky's Art
Sean Phillips Is Going To CCI

History
We Were Young Once

Industry
I Didn't Understand One Word Of This

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Andy Clarke
CBR: Chuck Dixon
Mr. Media: Hilary Price
Newsarama: Eric Powell
Robot 6: Graham Annable
Newsarama: Matt Fraction
CBR: Joe Harris, Steve Rolston
An Interview With Tigra Superfan #1

Not Comics
These Look Adorable
Other Title Quashed: Bad Hair Day

Publishing
Damon Lindelof Loves Scalped

Reviews
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Katherine Dacey: Shirley
Sean Kleefeld: Logicomix
Grant Goggans: Crogan's March
Greg McElhatton: Girl Comics #1
Brian Heater: Little Nothings Vol. 3
 

 
March 9, 2010


Go, Look: Ralph Steadman's Alice

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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 no-doubt 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 gladly dance with stacks of the following until we dropped.

*****

JAN100190 BPRD KING OF FEAR #3 (OF 5) $2.99
NOV090045 HELLBOY TP VOL 09 WILD HUNT $19.99
JAN100365 UNWRITTEN #11 (MR) $2.99
NOV090380 ELEPHANTMEN #24 $3.50
DEC090410 JERSEY GODS #11 $3.50
Various indy comics offerings. I believe our friend Moritat returns to Elephantmen this issue, while Jersey Gods is Image's second Kirby current pastiche-type comic book to make it into double-digits. What else... I think Unwritten is Vertigo's next big hope for break-out hit, but I could be totally wrong about that. It's also a strong week for the solid Dark Horse Hellboy material, but most weeks are.

JAN100285 MAGOG #7 $2.99
I still can't get over the fact that there's a comic out there called Magog. Do little kids as their mothers to pick them up a copy of Magog when they're sick? Do these mothers recoil in horror? Is this a comic made just so preachers can hold it up at Christian youth rallies?

DEC090220 WARLORD THE SAGA TP $17.99
About five years ago, I had this idea that each mainstream comics company should name four or five properties and never collect them, leaving them as jewels of the back-issue market that could only be experienced that way. The first comic on my list for DC was Warlord. Obviously, this never happened. And to be honest, my plan was mighty stupid.

OCT090360 IMAGE UNITED #1 (OF 6) COLLECTORS ED S/N $25.00
I'm not sure what this is, but it's almost the best nostalgia of all for these guys to be publishing special editions and the like before they've finished the series. Maybe some of the stores that are buying the series can sort of go out of business in response, or maybe the crew can kick Rob Liefeld out before the six-issue series is up.

JAN100238 BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 $2.99
More Grant Morrison multiple-art team (fairly) straight-ahead superheroics. I bought a bunch of issues of this and I can't say I was feeling it, although I like that supple Cameron Stewart art. It may be that I'm just done with Batman. Like I'm on "full" with my lifetime's allotment of Batman.

JAN100589 THE MYSTIC HANDS OF DR STRANGE #1 $3.99
I think this is one of those combination black and white magazine and old-school giant-size issue that hasn't really been a runaway hit with the fans of these characters, and sort of emanates this vibe of the company not really being into the character, either. Still, good candidate for this kind of approach.

JAN100629 X-MEN PIXIE STRIKES BACK #2 (OF 4) $3.99
A lot of fans talk about not reading X-Men comics the same way a certain kind of TV watcher talks about never watching Saturday Night Live: they lie about it for a long time before they actually make the break. I knew I had really stopped watching Saturday Night Live when I saw a New York profile of Jimmy Fallon and I had no idea who that was. Now I know I've stopped reading X-Men comics. Hey, it only took decades.

OCT090994 COMPLETE MILT GROSS COMIC BOOK STORIES HC VOL 01 $39.99
This is the show-stopper of the week, or at least the snatch-off-the-shelf-and-look-at-buying spree-stopper of the week.

DEC091025 DETROIT METAL CITY GN VOL 04 (MR) $12.99
The best manga to buy is comedy manga.

*****

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, that's because I spent most of the day in bed, crying. Happy now?

*****

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Go, Look: Walt Kelly's Cinderella

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* three men and four women, all Muslim and all not from the Irish Republic although all there legally, have been arrested on the accusation they were plotting to kill Lars Vilks. Vilks's cartoon for Nerikes Allehanda wasn't one of the original Danish Cartoons -- being Swedish and all -- but his depiction of Muhammad's head on a dog body was published in the heightened awareness that came after the original Controversy, and he was quickly targeted for death via bounty by various radicals.

* Christopher Hitchens weighs in on the Politiken apology, from the point of view of ripping into claims made by lawyer Ahmed Zaki Yamani.
 
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Go, Look: More Comics-Based Ads

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Not Comics: Josh Alan Friedman On History Related To Magazine Management

imageVia Mark Evanier comes word that the writer Josh Alan Friedman has re-purposed a couple of his essays about Magazine Management and is making that work available on his blog. There are five parts right now: one, two, three, four, five. Magazine Management was Marvel publisher Martin Goodman's pulp magazine effort. While my impression is that Stan Lee's Marvel Comics enterprise were kept pretty much a separate entity no matter if they were across town from one another or essentially sharing office space, certainly there should always be some interest from comics fans in what Goodman was up to all those years with the other company that he eventually sold to Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation.

It's a fascinating topic in and of itself, of course. Friedman's father, the sublime essayist and writer Bruce Jay Friedman, was one of the leading lights of those publications. Mario Puzo may be the group's best known alumnus, but Rona Barrett and David Markson also wrote for Magazine Management publications, which is a jaw-dropping range without having to name anyone else.
 
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Go, Look: Symbiosis

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Go, Read: Johanna Draper Carlson On That Diamond/Amazon Discount Sale

One of the great things about the comics Internet is that instead of faking several days worth of interest in a slow-motion story like the apparently Diamond glitch-driven massive comic book sale over the weekend, which I would likely do by humping someone's links, I can turn you onto an article or two that provide that kind of summary like this one from Johanna Draper Carlson. She has a much more of a consumer advocacy voice when dealing with comics, which I think flatters this story at this stage. While who is going to get what order and at what price hasn't quite worked itself yet, Johanna notes the potential loss to Diamond/Amazon/the publisher (which potentially depends on who gets left holding the bag here), that web sites reporting on this circumstance have been able to profit by running links to the sales through an associate's program -- something I hadn't considered at all -- and that three Diamond Book Distributor employees were let go in order to streamline their tasks into the comics side of things. I have a hunch there's still one more solid news cycle in terms of what happened.
 
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Not Comics: The Plant Sitter

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

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Go, Look: Chaos At The Coffee Bean

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Go, Look: Little Lulu #54

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Go, Look: Planet Comics

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Go, Look: Nobody Likes Toyboy

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer and critic Douglas Wolk has a nice post here about how even a relatively minor "event" going off the rails even a few week publishing schedule-wise can have a dramatic effect for weeks on an entire line. Hopefully some retailer will take Wolk upon on his offer to discuss the potential impact on sales. The sarcastic replies from fans already settling into that comments section probably isn't comprehensive enough for the snark to be termed a cogent, general response, but a general distrust and disdain of publishing initiative sure is part of how fans look at stuff like this.

image* something about this article on North Korean comics made me feel I had read the same profile or one like it before, but I can't imagine that's true. At worst, here's another long article about North Korean comics. (thanks, Robert Boyd)

* I hate to say it, but I don't really understand responding to a list of moments with a list of comics. It just somehow doesn't seem right to kneecap some guy for not being rigorous with his language and standards with a cross-standard tire iron.

* not comics: no Edward Woodward at the Oscars' death montage? That show is gross, and I don't understand why so many folks watch it. The sad thing is that fans are probably complaining about the exclusion of someone else, someone really goofy but with a higher pop-culture profile.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco asks if Marvel's Girl Comics isn't awesome, does it do more harm than good? This is a fascinating question on certain levels, I think everyone knows the balance of reviews on nearly every comic with a lot of creators on it and a lot of publicity surrounding what it's trying to do is probably going to skew positive. There just aren't a lot of negative reviews out there, period. It's also just a good, direct question. I actually don't think a not-good comic designed to get a certain set of people working is 100 percent a bad thing because the ultimate goal is to continue working with that group of people, if that makes any sense. Above and beyond a certain level of professional quality, the more relevant success/failure is in how many talents in that anthology are working five years from now, not how many appear ready to work to a certain level of quality right this instant.

* here's a long article on the political leanings of superheroes. I barely scanned it, as it's not the kind of inquiry that interests me in either direction, but I'm sure some folks will rub their hands with glee over the thoughts of digging into something like this.

* great headline and an array of thoughtful answers to some boiler-plate questions.

* killing babies.

* finally, this is the comic geek's equivalent of waking up and being covered in blood. This is the comic geek's equivalent of a Vegas story.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Rick Burchett!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Mike Kazaleh!

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Quick hits
Craft
Miss Martian Sketched

Exhibits/Events
Report From Art Spiegelman Lecture

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Rob Liefeld
CBR: David Lapham
CBR: Kathryn Immonen
Talking Comics With Tim: Ho Anderson

Not Comics
Ben Grimm Attends The Oscars

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Dan Nadel: Afrodisiac
Douglas Wolk: Meanwhile
Rich Kreiner: Biq Questions
Richard Bruton: Ignition City
Rob Clough: Tiny Tyrant Vol. 2
Tim McGirk: Footnotes In Gaza
Greg McElhatton: Girl Comics #1
Andrew Wheeler: West Coast Blues
Sean T. Collins: Monster Vols. 6-18
Johanna Draper Carlson: Love*Com Vol. 17
Christopher Allen: Kevin Smith's Green Hornet #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Kevin Smith's Green Hornet #1
Marc-Oliver Frisch: Human Target: Chance Meetings
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Directory Of Comic Book And Graphic Novel Publishers
 

 
March 8, 2010


Go, Look: Fifi Chez Les Damnés

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Sandyha Eknaligoda: Govt. Responsible

It's only a short mention on what was a longer treatment of the story on the BBC program Outlook, but wire services made note of a change in rhetoric from the wife of missing cartoonist/journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda in that piece. Whereas up until that piece the position staked out by Eknaligoda was to call for greater action from the government over the kidnapping of her husband on the eve of elections in Sri Lanka in late January, this was an outright accusation that the government was either involved or provided its blessing to the action. The male Eknaligoda had written articles in favor of the losing side of the election for a journalistic organization since shut down in wider, troubling anti-press actions from that nation's government.
 
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Go, Look: Roope Eronen On Flickr

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* a newspaper in Saudi Arabia is claiming that Kurt Westergaard died in a fire and that there's a cover-up as to his passing.

* thirty-eight members of the Danish daily newspaper Politiken wrote a letter that appeared in Saturday's edition saying they regretted the fact that the paper apologized for offense according to an arrangement worked out with a representative of multiple Muslim groups, and are against that apology.

* I got a note from Matthias Wivel on that apology that indicates that a statement by that representative, Saudi Arabian Lawyer Faisal Yamani, overstated the extent of the apology to include assurances the imagery would never be used again. Wivel's studied the situation closely and has been critical of the apology, but says he can't find that as a part of that to which Politiken agreed.

* at least one person has now left one of the Danish Cartoons as a sign of protest Jack Chick tract-style.

* some folks liked the Politiken settlement.

* another heartbreaking report of reprisal killings in Nigeria recalls those that died in 2006 in Danish Cartoon Controversy-related violence.

* finally, a blogger makes a big deal out of the fact that newspaper refer to Muhammad as the Prophet Muhammad but will drop the Christ from Jesus Christ.
 
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Go, Look: More Steve Whitaker

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Herman Gutierrez Sr., 1924-2010

The Corpus Christi Caller Times reports that their long-time letters page freelance cartoonist Herman Gutierrez Sr. died on Friday at 85 years old. Gutierrez apparently provided cartoons to a letter chosen by that page's editor for more than 30 years. A veteran of World War II, Gutierrez was also an teacher at Del Mar College and developed the art program in the West Oso school district. Beyond the loss felt by his family, his friends and his community, it's worth noting that fewer and fewer cartoonists have such long-time relationships with newspapers providing art specifically to one section of a newspaper, an entire avenue for cartoon expression in journalism that's blinking out one by one.

The obituary in the Caller Times, accompanied by a photo of the cartoonist, says that Gutierrez won an award for a pair of cartoons appearing in teacher union publications in the early 1980s. Although the letters archived by the paper include on praising the cartoonist's offerings, none of his work appears on-line as far as I can tell. Gutierrez was also a working caricaturist, and served as the cartoonist for an organization called the League of United Latin American Citizens. He is survived by his wife, four sons, two daughters, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
 
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Go, Look: 7th Voyage Of Sinbad

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Cartoonist Wins Best Actor Award

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I watched Simpsons re-runs last night, including that bizarre recent comic book movie episode, so it wasn't until about five minutes ago I saw that, as expected, Jeff Bridges won the Best Actor Academy Award for his work in that movie that from the outside-in looks amazingly like that Robert Duvall film from 25 years ago. It's worth noting here -- mostly because I'd forgotten until something tickled my brain just now -- that among his many skills Bridges is a doodler and amateur cartoonist. I believe that big chunks of his now charmingly old-school web site are structured around cartoon art he's created. There's a big run of them here, for instance. The above is from his next film, an adaptation of the great cowboy novel and more famous source for a pretty good John Wayne scenery-chewer True Grit. Here's the profile from Drawn! to assure me I'm not nuts in remembering this.
 
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Missed It: Jaime's Super-Heroines

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Go, Look: Vengeance Of Anubis

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Go, Look: The First Batman

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Go, Look: Hour Of The Dragon

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Go, Look: Magic Menace

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Bhob Stewart has a nice post up on the current state of Winsor McCay's New York home.

image* Burne Hogarth on Hal Foster. Doesn't that look like the Valiant family Christmas card? I can imagine that image sitting on Gawain's mantle.

* the comics category of the GeekDad Awards brings you all the comics out there from A to lower-case a.

* this weekly summary of goings-on in the manga world will take you to a heated discussion of scanlations, while also providing you with some of the context necessary to understand that discussion.

* I don't understand this, but it looks like Marvel is doing a 1970s soap opera Captain America comic strip?

* I don't know, Dirk, the minute I'm bullet-proof and able to lift a small car over my head I'm naked for the duration.

* not comics: these kinds of things make my head hurts and I tend to think of the issues involved in terms of creators' rights rather than in terms of optimal outcomes, but here's a post about some data saying e-books have boosted sales.

* so I guess there was a Diamond glitch-driven fire sale for certain over-sized editions at Amazon.com over the weekend? This kind of thing happens every now and then -- like when someone screws up code, or when someone wants to burn through certain kinds of product. Even when it's a mistake, they tend to honor sales but only until on-hand inventory is gone. I missed out on this one.

* finally, Frank Santoro plays the Disney comics version of "What If?"
 
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Go, Read: Five By Rich Tommaso

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Love For WonderCon

History
Derbies
Romance Hats
Jack Kirby Was The 20th Century
Appreciating Ann Nocenti's Daredevil

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: John Jackson Miller
Newsarama: Dylan Horrocks
Robot 6: Anonymous Creator
Comics Alliance: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Not Comics
Boobs
Julia Sweeney Wins
I Can Never Remember What This Article's About

Publishing
Cry For Justice Sounds Gross
The Legend Of Koizumi Profiled

Reviews
Chris Mautner: Smile
Tom Bondurant: Various
Katherine Dacey: Various
Sasha Watson: The Story Of O
Matt Brady: Drifting Classroom
Sean Kleefeld: Deux Ex Comica
Jonathan Woodward: Ignition City
Rob Clough: Little Nothings Vol. 3
Erin Jameson: Crown Of Love Vol. 1
Michael C. Lorah: Little Nothings Vol. 3
Greg McElhatton: Years Of The Elephant
Christopher Allen: Ed Hannigan: Covered
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 23
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Legends Of The Dark Knight #32-34
Sarah Boslaugh: Moyasimon: Tales Of Agriculture Vol. 1
Robert Stanley Martin: Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps: Tygers
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 8
 

 
March 7, 2010


CR Sunday Interview: Tom De Haven

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Tom De Haven is a highly-skilled writer and lifelong comic book fan who has occasionally combined the two to wonderful effect. He is best known as the author of the Derby Dugan cyle -- Funny Papers (1985), Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies (1996) and Dugan Under Ground: A Novel (2001) -- a trip through comic strip and comic book history through some of the out-sized personalities and peculiarly American quandaries that have flourished in the midst of each along the way. In 2005 he penned the earnest, evocative It's Superman!, a Time Warner-approved story about the worldwide icon focused on the character's emergence from and embodiment of American culture of the 1930s.

De Haven's newest work is Our Hero: Superman On Earth, a long essay about the character's 70 years on the page, off of the page, and as a vehicle for the dreams and aspirations of his various contributing creators. We spoke about six days ago, and both worked on the transcript in terms of improving its clarity. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: At the beginning of Our Hero, you discuss various reasons for your doing the essay. One thing you mention but don't tie into the reasons this book came about is the whole It's Superman experience. How do you think Our Hero is different for your having had the relatively rare experience of actually writing the Superman character?

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TOM DE HAVEN: I guess there's three parts to my answer. The first is that I deliberately tried not to do too much writing about writing It's Superman. I didn't want to make this an advertisement for the novel. I deliberately played it down.

The second thing is, before writing the Superman novel, I had read a lot of the old comics and comic strips but hadn't read them in any kind of order. To write the essay I was approaching the character in a very different way. Probably one of the reasons I wrote the essay at all was thinking that, "I've done almost all the research. I've read all this stuff." But then when I started doing chronological research, I realized, "I've read nothing." [laughter]

The other part of the answer is that had it not been for the novel I probably would not have been asked to do this. Art Spiegelman suggested me. Yale University Press had called Artie up and asked him, as I recall, if he would do a book on Alfred E. Neuman. Art wasn't interested but said there's this guy who did a novel about Superman and Superman should be one of the icons in your series.

SPURGEON: Now is there a reverse to that question? Is there something you learned in putting together Our Hero that you wished you'd known when you did It's Superman, anything that might have changed the thinking that went into the novel?

DE HAVEN: No, in a way I'm glad it came in this order. I've been a fan of comics all my life, and so I certainly was a fan of Superman comics and aware of Superman's history. I read all the annuals when I was a kid so I knew about the different kinds of Superman over the years and I was aware to some degree about the [Jerry] Siegel and [Joe] Shuster story.

imageThe Superman novel really comes out of my love for the 1930s. I went into it trying to submerse myself in the Depression-era culture that Siegel and Shuster lived in and which was the milieu for their character. I just immersed myself in the Superman stories from '38 to the beginning of World War II, tried to keep myself focused on that Superman. Once you consider Superman over the course of 70 years, all the TV shows and everything, it becomes really confusing. I wanted to strip it down and write a novel that was inspired by those early comic books and also by the Fleischer cartoons and nothing else.

SPURGEON: The breadth of material you employ in the essay required an impressive feat of synthesis. How difficult was it to negotiate everything that had been written on Superman at this point?

DE HAVEN: It was a nightmare. I did three versions -- not three drafts, three separate books -- for this. The first one I deliberately kept myself out of. There was no "I" pronoun in it at all. When it was done, I thought, "This is the world's most boring term paper." So I did another manuscript where I put myself a little bit into it, but didn't include any kind of anecdotal stuff. I didn't like that one either. Finally I did the version that became our hero. It all took me three and a half years. When I started, I thought, "This will be an interesting project." It was, but it turned out to be much harder than I'd ever imagined. Yale gave me nine months to do it. I started accumulating all the stuff. One essay would lead me to a scholarly book, which would lead me to a series of fan essays. On and on and on. It was overwhelming.

I've taught in the university for 30 years, but I'm in the university primarily because I'm a novelist. And I primarily teach creative writing, although I do some American Studies courses on different decades, and I teach comics, and I teach crime fiction and things like that. But I'm not a scholar. I wasn't trained how to do research. All the historical fiction I've written over the years I've done with an amateur's enthusiasm. So it was an incredibly difficult experience, researching Superman, especially since I knew the essay could be only 50,000 words long. What Yale wanted was an overview of Superman over 70 years. And I had to touch on all the things he was and did and changed. I didn't want to restrict my essay to just the character, because I thought the careers of the people who worked on Superman, not only Siegel and Shuster but Mort Weisinger and Wayne Boring and Robert Maxwell, all those and other people, were fascinating and just as much a part of what Superman is as the comics and cartoons and movies.

So it was overwhelming, and there were a couple of times -- more than a couple of times -- where I thought this was the craziest thing I ever did and that I should just be writing another novel. But I'm proud of it, you know, that I could synthesize everything and somehow get it all in there.

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SPURGEON: One part of the essay that jumped out at me in that it likely involved integrating newer material is that you took a couple of pages to talk about Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. At the same time, I couldn't figure out exactly why it was in there. I wondered if you were just trying to provide a portrait of someone missing out, a way of saying that Superman was so big that your life could be defined by missing out on some involvement with the character. Or perhaps Wheeler-Nicholson was just an interesting story that stuck out to you.

DE HAVEN: Well, it is an interesting story. As a comics enthusiast, I knew about Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Oh my God, what a hard luck story that is. Kicked out two months before Action Comics #1. And then all those bizarro details about his cape and the beaver hat and the green teeth -- or the rust-colored teeth, depending on who was writing about him. He seemed more interesting to me than even Siegel and Shuster. This mysterious figure who disappeared: up until recent times no one really knew what happened to him.

Then, just by chance, I got an e-mail from Nicky Brown, who is his granddaughter. She had no idea I was doing this essay; she was writing to anybody who had any kind of connections to Superman. She had seen my novel and thought I might have picked up some stories about her grandfather. I said, "Well, I didn't. But I'm writing this essay and I'd love to meet you." So Nicky came through Richmond and we got together. She told me about how she had just met the Wheeler-Nicholson family as an adult, because she had grown up with her mother, I think in Texas, and didn't know anything about the family until she was well over 30. Then she met her grand-uncles and cousins and started hearing all those old stories about the major's days as a comic book publisher, and how the stories had affected the family. At that time she had recently contacted Gerard Jones and David Hajdu and was trying to get them to set the record straight in paperback editions of their books because of certain things she had found out about her grandfather. I think Men of Tomorrow, the paperback, does include some changes according to what she told Gerard Jones.

She's a really interesting woman, and we've kept in touch. I don't know if she's ever going to do a biography. I think she did an essay for Alter Ego on her grandfather [Editor's note: an interview with Brown appeared in Alter Ego #88]. She told me it was the tragedy of the Wheeler-Nicholson family. That this guy never talked about losing control of the company that eventually published Superman. He refused to talk about it, but it's sat there like a huge elephant in the family for all these years.

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SPURGEON: You make a clear distinction between the original Siegel-written Superman comics and then the comics that came as the corporation began to pay more attention to this hit they had on their hands. Superman hit hard and fast. How much do you think Siegel's early writing played into that very early success?

DE HAVEN: I think totally. So much of what we think makes Superman popular really wasn't there at the beginning. He was leaping tall buildings, not flying. The supporting cast wasn't around except for Lois Lane. It was a very different kind of Superman. It was all Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and it was completely uncensored. Straight from the id to the page. They had no editorial input because they were turning out so much stuff. Everything they wrote and drew got in, at least for about a year and a half. There was this wild energy to it. The drawing is scratchy and primitive and the stories are about as basic as you can get. It hit not just a 12-year-old sensibility but a 12-year-old sensibility at a really dire time in history. There's A sense of fun about the character that hasn't been there , not really, since the very early days. He's this guy who's so happy to be doing what he's doing, he's playing practical jokes, he's laughing, he's wisecracking like a private detective.

There was no publicity for this thing. On the cover of Action #1 it didn't say, "This great new superhero!" There was nothing on the cover but that famous image of Superman holding a car over his head. His acceptance and popularity was just a spontaneous, democratic fluke. It wasn't a media thing. It was totally from the ground-up. It was 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds buying this comic book in huge numbers because they truly loved and identified with the character. That's what I find to be such an interesting story.

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SPURGEON: Given the management of the character, then, where even the physical look of the character was changed, why do fans stay connected? Do they sense those essential elements? Superman was an immediate hit, but he's also been backlash-proof. He didn't go away with the first wave of superheroes, he survived all these permutations, even having renewed success over the years. Where does Superman get his resiliency?

DE HAVEN: The character's resiliency comes from his very simple premise. Whenever the character gets too complicated or drifts away from the essential elements, that's when the problems kick in. The weird thing about it, the thing hardly anybody knows about unless They're a comics fan or a comics historian is that Superman was originally a kind of outlaw. That he was a citizen-vigilante taking on shoddy automobile manufacturers or crooked lobbyists, all these things that Siegel and Shuster were interested in and got worked up about during the New Deal. That Superman is totally out of people's memories. The character that pops into people's heads when they think of Superman is the former infant from Kyrpton who is just constitutionally good. You can make him look like a refrigerator, or you can make him look like Jimmy Cagney. It doesn't matter just as long as certain key elements are there. We respond to his philanthropy whether we mock it or not. In the '80s when all of those dark superheroes came in, Superman seemed ridiculous. He wasn't cool. Because he wasn't angry or vengeful or crazy. But nevertheless, that's his nature. That's why whenever I hear about they're going to make a Dark Superman movie, I shake my head and say, "Well, there goes another $300 million."

SPURGEON: One thing I didn't know about that's in your essay is how the writer and producer Robert Maxwell infused the character with this broadly liberal take on politics, by the time of the early TV show even lecturing people on camera, until there was a crackdown on that from the executives in the same way they cracked down on similar sentiments from Siegel and Shuster. That's stayed a part of the character's make-up, though, hasn't it? I can't recall an iteration that has gone in the other direction.

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DE HAVEN: Well, except for Frank Miller's.

SPURGEON: Okay. Sure. [laughter]

DE HAVEN: I was on a radio show last week and someone called in to ask about the Frank Miller Superman and what did I think about it. It's such a wrong-headed interpretation.

The thing about Superman is that his basic nature tends towards a certain liberal sensibility. He's not someone who is corporate, he's not someone who is doing things for self-aggrandizement or wealth or power. When you take away all those kinds of goals, you're left with someone who is basically a humanitarian. That tendency is more historically left than right.

SPURGEON: Your section on Mort Weisinger provides a close reading of the narrative and world-building elements woven into the various Superman comics during his time as their editor, a surprising number of story points given that this was already a long-running popular character. You note for instance the changed role for Lois Lane, and the prominence of analytical and strategic thinking in the kind of problem-solving that drives the stories. Do you admire what Weisinger accomplished?

DE HAVEN: Oh, yeah. I've been at university for 30 years and a lot of times writers I admire will come by to give readings or meet with students and often when I meet them they seem like jerks. [laughs] I'm disappointed, but it's beside the point. Their work is what matters, not their personalities. I don't think Weisinger was a nice guy.

SPURGEON: He's one of the notorious monsters of comics.

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DE HAVEN: But that's beside the point if you're looking at somebody's work. That's why I added the quip about him being the John Ford of comic books. John Ford was not a very nice person, either. He treated his people very badly. He was obnoxious and overbearing. But what you look back at and care about is the body of John Ford's work. I think Weisinger's run on Superman is remarkable. No matter how far Superman's editors and writers stray away from the Weisinger mythos, they keep on coming back to it eventually. Because it's good stuff, interesting stuff, evocative stuff. He was, for all of his personal failings, a great editor.

SPURGEON: One thing you didn't do when writing about the '60s and '70s in terms of DC's efforts is you didn't look at Marvel's success and argue that as a factor that had an influence on the other company. You talked more about the Julie Schwartz-edited Superman as a smattering of noble experiments more than as a reaction to what Marvel might have been doing. What attracted you to an analysis of the character within DC?

DE HAVEN: You mean avoiding the rivalry with Marvel?

SPURGEON: More that this new kind of storytelling might have had an effect on Superman -- you don't spend a lot of time with Jack Kirby's Superman, for instance, or Alan Moore's. Do you see Superman as more immune to outside pressure than other characters?

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DE HAVEN: While I was noting the changes in comics that occurred in the '70s, I looked at it more as a generational change of personnel than a reaction to Marvel. Boomer fans took over the fantasy during that period. It was a differently educated group of writers, most of whom had gone to college and grown up during the '60s and were bringing their own experiences to their work on these characters. The first generation of comic book writers, artists and editors approached it as a job. They looked at things differently than baby boomer fans who approached the characters with a big dose of reverence and nostalgia. And having come through the '60s, they tried to bring anti-establishment energy to the characters.

It didn't work very often, at least not at DC. DC had a strong corporate culture and these young guys encountered resistance. There was a constant struggle in the early '70s between what the old school guys would allow and what the new guys wanted to do. It seemed to me to create a neither/nor Superman. Over at Marvel there was much more of an anti-establishment ethos where you could try this or that. DC was a lot more conservative.

SPURGEON: Near the end of the book, you discuss the John Byrne Man Of Steel re-launch, and the Superman that was re-fashioned a bit by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu in Superman: Birthright and the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely All Star Superman series. You group them fairly close together. Do you see them as all of one type? Do you feel they're locked into revamping the character over and over again? The way you've structured your book, the Weisinger-era Superman seems so much more radical than the modern one in terms of how there was this complete story overhaul without simply starting from zero. Could something like that happen again, or we will just see more re-jiggerings?

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DE HAVEN: There will always be re-jiggerings, but the strange thing to me is that the re-jiggerings are coming closer and closer together. The Weisinger re-launch in the late '50s was 20 years after the original. From '86 to the turn of the century, from Byrne to Waid, was also a bit of time. Now they seem to do another re-tooling every couple of years. To me that seems desperate rather than imaginative. We don't need constant re-imaginings of the origin. What the character needs is a stable creative group. The comics that were done in the Death of Superman series, I thought those were wonderful: The Death of Superman and what came after that in the '90s. There was a smart and talented group of editors, writers and artists handling the character for a prolonged period of time that created something that worked.

This thing of changing Superman all the time, changing direction -- "let's kill him again," "let's take his powers away," "let's put him on another planet for a year" -- it seems kind of desperate, as if they don't know how to deal with the character. To me, Superman is the simplest superhero of all. What you need, basically, is good, dramatic consistent storytelling. Why this character can't be put into situations where the stories are paramount is beyond me. I just don't understand it.

But... I don't understand a lot of things about DC Comics. [laughter] For instance, they wouldn't give me permission to use any comic book art in Our Hero. There's A long description, for instance, of how Wayne Boring's characters never look at each other, and I couldn't use a single panel from a Wayne Boring comic book.

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SPURGEON: That was the funniest part of the book, by the way. I laughed at your description. Was that a surprise to you, encountering the odd qualities of Boring's art so many years later? Did that take you by surprise?

DE HAVEN: Yeah. I always had a soft spot in my heart for Wayne Boring, because he did so many of the Superman comic books I read when I was a boy. He also did the Superman newspaper strip that I read when I was a kid. Wayne Boring was much more imprinted with me than Curt Swan.

image[laughs] But when I went back to look at his stories again, I kept on thinking, "What is going on here?" Then I realized that nobody looks at each other. They're all looking off in different directions... and I thought, "What a strange situation." In the scenes when Superman is flying through the air, he looks like he's jogging. [laughter] There are some very strange things when you abstract out the panels from the stories. So yeah, I was surprised by Wayne Boring. Although I still have a lot of affection for him. I thought he was a really good draftsman. As a storyteller, there was a lot to be desired.

SPURGEON: I thought your affection for Boring came through. Another point in the book where I thought your underlying sympathy really made an impression was in your portrait of Jerry Siegel coming back to DC to write comics for Weisinger. I thought that was a touching section, where he returned chastened to the character he created and yet in a way connected to Superman because of these damaged feelings.

DE HAVEN: It's a very sad story. The thing about Jerry Siegel is that in many ways you want to throttle him. You're sympathetic, but you also want to throttle the guy. That would have been the movie to make, rather than Hollywoodland. Although Jerry Siegel might not have been a sympathetic character in a film. He really could, from what I've read, get on people's nerves. Complaining, complaining, complaining, all the time. Now, if I put myself in that situation, I'd probably have gone off the deep end myself.

SPURGEON: One thing I wanted to be sure to ask you is that you wrote so well in the Derby Dugan series about the beginnings and the heyday of the newspaper comic strip, and now we're in a period that seems very far away from that -- where we're maybe not in freefall, but surely in a period of dire signs for the future of printed newspapers in this country and with it a certain way of doing comics. Do you have any thoughts about this era of newspaper strips, given how much time you spent talking about its glory period? Do you feel a particular sadness?

DE HAVEN: I never thought that newspapers would be gone before comic strips. I thought comic strips would disappear long before newspapers did. There are certain exceptions, like Bill Watterson for a while -- but great cartoonists, the ones with style and new ways of expressing the art, don't seem at all interested in newspaper stripping. And I can see why. The restrictions are absurd. If you like to draw, syndicated strips aren't the way to go.

imageThere are still people like me who love newspaper strips. It's a different genre. It's opera as opposed to theater. I've been reading these reprint books which I never thought I'd see in my lifetime, these great Library of American Comics books. I thought the days of reprinting classic comic strips were gone. I'm working my way through Terry and the Pirates and Orphan Annie and On Stage. The beats of these things, and what they did with a daily strip and a Sunday page: it was remarkable. It was one way to do narrative comics, that's all, just one way among many to do narrative comics. And it's a shame that it's gone. Because it didn't have to go. Comic books and graphic novels are great, but there's nothing intrinsically time-bound or anachronistic about the newspaper comic strip. But because of the way publishing has changed and because of the Internet, it's never going to come back. A talent like Milton Caniff, how he told stories, it's just astounding to me.

*****

* Our Hero: Superman On Earth, Tom De Haven, Yale University Press, Icons Of America Series, 240 pages, 0300118171 (ISBN10), 9780300118179 (ISBN13), March 2010, $24.

*****

* cover to book
* an It's Superman! cover
* still from Fleischer Superman cartoon
* the iconic Action Comics #1 cover
* the early Superman comics' edgier choice of bad guys
* the early Superman comics' laughing, vigorous protagonist
* a Frank Miller Superman pin-up
* a typical Weisinger-era cover
* a typical Schwartz-era cover
* a cover from Superman: Birthright
* nobody look at anybody else in this Wayne Boring panel
* jogging-as-flying Wayne Boring panel
* from Terry And The Pirates
* (below) a Joe Shuster Superman drawing showing off the original squat stature

*****

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FFF Results Post #200 -- Celebrate

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Memorable Comic Book Or Comics-Related Anniversary Or Commemorative Issues With An Issue Number That Ends In Zero." Here is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Comics Journal #200
2. Cerebus #300
3. Fantastic Four #100
4. Superman #400
5. Love and Rockets Vol. 1 #50

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Showcase #100
2. Sandman #50
3. Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #200
4. Avengers #100
5. Justice League of America #100

*****

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Don MacPherson

1) Tales of the Teen Titans #50
2) Marvel Team-Up #100
3) Justice League of America #200
4) Amazing Spider-Man #600
5) Legion of Super-Heroes/Legionnaires #0

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Tales of the Teen Titans #50
2. Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #50
3. Justice League of America Vol. 1 #200
4. Action Comics #600
5. Detective Comics #500

*****

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Scott Cederlund

1. Starman #0
2. Captain America #250
3. Legion of Super-Heroes #300
4. Avengers #200
5. Nexus #50

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Detective Comics #400 (Batman/Man Bat, Robbins/Adams-sweet)
2. Nexus #50 (just for that cover alone!)
3. Iron Man #150 (Michelinie/Layton and Dr. Doom/King Arthur)
4. Justice League of America #100 (Seven Soldiers of Victory!)
5. Thor #300 (the end of the seventeen issue Eternals Saga)

*****

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John Vest

1. Daredevil #100 (the 1973 issue with Jann Wenner)
2. Sad Sack And The Sarge #100
3. The Comics Journal #100
4. Captain America #100
5. Tomb Of Dracula #70

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Superman #300
* Superman #400
* JLA #100
* JLA #200
* Brave & the Bold #200

*****

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Robert Martin

1. Zap Comix #0
2. Sandman #50
3. Swamp Thing #50
4. Uncanny X-Men #150
5. Avengers #200 (memorable, if not fondly recalled)

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. King-Cat Comics & Stories #70
2. MAD Special #10 (with Don Martin Nonsense Stickers!?)
3. Doom Patrol Vol. 2 #50
4. The Sandman #50
5. Detective Comics #500

*****

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Des Devlin

* MAD #400
* The Beano #3000
* Sonic the Hedgehog #100
* Whiz #100
* Zap #0

*****

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Ali T. Kokmen

* Justice League of America #200
* Superman Family #200
* Batman #400
* Amazing Spider-Man #300
* Ms. Tree #50

*****

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Douglas Wolk

* Adventure Comics #300
* Detective Comics #500
* Sandman #50
* 2000 AD Prog 700
* Secret Origins #50

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. Amazing Spider-Man #300
2. Sandman #50
3. Dark Horse Presents #100
4. Hate #30
5. Marvel Team-Up #150

*****

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John McCorkle

1. Spirou #3000
2. Radioactive Man #1000
3. Tex #500
4. Zagor #400
5. Dylan Dog #200

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Justice League of America #200
2. Legion of Super-Heroes #300
3. 2000 AD #500
4. Doom Patrol #50
5. Battle Picture Weekly #200

*****

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Bryan Munn

* Fantastic Four #200 --After The Beagle boys and Micronauts, FF was the first series I collected. I asked a friend to get this for me at the comic shop across town in Thunder Bay since I missed it at my local corner store.
* Justice League #200 --I stole this from a Catholic boy in Cambridge, Ontario. My siblings and I were staying with his family while my parents were at a "Marriage Retreat."
* Superman's 50th Anniversary -- I read Amazing Heroes regularly and they devoted a whole issue to Superman tributes in 1988. Most memorable contribution? Gary Groth: "My only interest in Superman, marginal at that, stems from his continuing presence as a symbol of banality and infantilism in the history of the American comic book."
* Palookaville #1 10th Anniversary Edition -- Was this the first of these "alt comics milestone" books? Memorable because it celebrates the against-all-odds endurance of underground Canadian art.
* Drawn and Quarterly 20th Anniversary -- When Adrian Tomine and Stan Bevington saluted Chris Oliveros at the 2009 Wright Awards in Toronto, I remember thinking, "Why aren't there more great graphic novels published in Canada following D+Q's example?"

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Omega the Unknown #10 (1977): I was blown away at the 7-Eleven by seeing the lead character shot dead. I couldn't bring myself to buy it, but I couldn't bring myself to put it down and buy something else.
2. Tomb Of Dracula #70: 1st time reading a comics series end with a real ending.
3. Cerebus #200: Typically abnormal ending to a typically long Cerebus story line with a meta-ending that barely hints at the craziness to come.
4. Amazing Spider-Man #200: First double-sized anniversary issue of a series I bought of a series I regularly read. Return of the burglar!
5. Action Comics #500: I was just plain awed by a comic series lasting 500 issues. The text piece on the series' history was actually more fun to read than the clip show reverie and Luthor's insta-clone plot that made up the thick comic.

*****

thanks to all that participated on this 5FFs and on all previous 5FFs. I have enough already posted to get to February 2011, so it's safe to say this feature will be around for a while.

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Peter Gross!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Cully Hamner!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Ben Templesmith!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Robin McConnell!

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


The Escapist v.s. The Iron Gauntlet from Jamie Caliri on Vimeo.
via
 
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March 6, 2010


CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 7 to March 5, 2010:

1. DC switches lawyers in Siegels case.

2. The Politiken apology debate continues.

3. The Denver Post drops 20-22 comic strips from its paper, depending on how you count it.

Winner Of The Week
Ronald Searle!

Loser Of The Week
Nick Simmons!

Quote Of The Week
"On SVA we were taught how to market ourselves, where to place ourselves in the 'art industry' and how to network to get recognition. It's a very pragmatic, US kind of angle on art, totally different from what I've been taught before. It's all about how to succeed and in that message there is a strong underlying tone of potential catastrophe if you fail. That school offered me some great things, especially in the form of professors like Gary Panter, David Sandlin and many others. But art education must not be so goddamn expensive. Art is not some extremely useful craft to know and that's why they must be all about marketing, I guess. If you become successful, then the school is good. But success is not a measurement of quality." -- Dunja Jankovic

*****

today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Anapest: The Autobio Comic

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Paul Karasik On 21 Things I Like About Dr. Strange (2/28/10)
* Sean Howe On 21 Things I Like About Dr. Strange (2/28/10)
* Mark Coale On 21 Things I Like About Dr. Strange (2/28/10)
* Jonathan Green On A Good Point Regarding Michael Pollard In Last Week's CR Video Parade (2/25/10)
* Chris Butcher (I'm Guessing) On TCAF 2010's Official Launch And Initial Announcements (PR) (2/23/10)
* Domingos Isabelinho On The Tintin Au Congo Commentary (2/19/10)
* Ivan Brunetti On Francoise Mouly At Chicago's Columbia College (PR) (2/18/10)
* Gabriel Roth On The Marvel Astonishing Line (2/17/10)
* John Vest On Early Steve Ditko (2/16/10)
* Jeff Flowers On Prison Pit (2/6/10)
* Matthias Wivel On CR's Best Super-Hero Comics Of The '00s List (2/6/10)
* Fabrice Stroun On CR's Super-Hero Comics Of The '00s List (2/6/10)
* Fabio Antibas On 1985 (The Comic Book) (2/6/10)
* Doug Slack On The Interview With Noah Berlatsky About Elephant & Piggie (2/6/10)
* Andy Kuhn On Lorenzo Mattotti's New Yorker Cover (2/6/10)
* Matt Maxwell On One Of The Best 5FFs Ever (2/6/10)
* Justin C. Sherrill On The Blind Man's Elephant In The Room (2/6/10)
* Dave Kellett Of Sheldon On George McManus' Home on LA's Sunset Boulevard (2/6/10)
* Matthew Wave On Five For Friday #195 -- Musical Anthologies (2/6/10)
* Bill Randall On A Shamus/Wizard Con In Cincinnati (2/2/10)
* John Sargent Of Macmillan On Macmillan's Position Vis-A-Vis Amazon On Saturday Evening (PR) (2/1/10)
* Robin McConnell On Muppet Lanterns (1/31/10)
* John Vest On 1970s Marvel (1/30/10)
 
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If I Were In Austin, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Kieron Dwyer!

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March 5, 2010


Can We Stop This Right Now, Please?

imageIt's Friday and I'm cranky, but let's be honest here in a way I can link back to it later: it's way too late in the game for anyone with half a clue about comics to be doing superhero articles and then having them published in any way that endorses the idiotic, blinkered view that comics or even comic books = superhero comic books. I know everyone's heart is in the right place here, but this is as seriously moronic and in an off-hand way potentially distorting and even harmful as running an article about the top 10 racially-positive moments in sports and then running ten examples from baseball.

There's nothing wrong with writing articles about superhero comics and superhero comic books; I write them, too. It's just at this point you kind of need to say so if that's what you're writing about. You always should have, but at this point it's kind of inarguable. If you're going to send me a full e-mail extolling the virtues of a feature article and ask me to engage with it on that level, I'm either going to ignore you or, worse, look at it like you've asked me to and what you've sent me is going to come up really, really short.
 
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Go, Look: Freddy #2

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Friday Distraction: Graham Annable's Nostalgic Set Stuff I Remember

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Go, Look: Antti Silvekoski

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Charles Addams, New York Cartoonist

imageBetween the celebration of Ronald Searle's 90th birthday and a translation being made widely available of Yoshiharu Tsuge's hilarious interview given in support of what is as of right now his last work, it's been a great week for the reconsideration of formidable cartoonists. So it seems fitting to see a substantial article about a new exhibition of Charles Addams' work, rare for being organized around Addams as a Gotham luminary as opposed to the shadow patriarch of his Addams Family. Also, apparently the exhibit includes Irvin Penn's totally bitchin' portrait of New York cartoonists, 1947, something at which I'm always happy to stare.
 
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Missed It: Two-By-Fours

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via
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* yahoo's business wire was nice enough to pick up on the press release from the law firm of Ahmed Zaki Yamani on their wringing an apology and agreement from the newspaper Politiken. I think this is a fairly damning press release because it claims that its agreement with Politiken involves than an apology for offending people; it actually includes not to republish the imagery again, ever. That's just... well, that's just kind of awful on any kind of free speech front and if true I don't know that doesn't constitute a capitulation and admission that what a newspaper might be asked to do, that paper by virtue of this agreement just won't do.

* here's a student-penned profile of Kurt Westergaard currently making rounds, including a pretty standard critique of the seeking-apology track: that if there are apologies to be made, they should come from a variety of actors in the whole sad affair, not just (and perhaps not even primarily) the newspapers publishing the imagery.
 
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Go, Look: Packing For Mexico

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Saudi Cartoonist Association Formed

It's hard for me to say how important it is -- or isn't -- that 20 Saudi cartoonists have formed the Association of Saudi Cartoonists and Caricaturists. I know that that is a substantial enough chunk of the working cartoonists in that country to potentially have some staying powers. In the article the only female member -- having a female member is itself an incredibly promising sign -- stresses that the organization will play a role protecting members of the profession, which would be optimal. I think even if it turns out the group is more about holding contests and making sure its members place in such shows abroad, the article is worth reading for its relatively upbeat portrait of cartooning's growing status with that region's press.
 
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Go, Look: Grin #1-2

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Being PR Head At Image Comics Is Like Being Spinal Tap's Drummer Only With Less Dying Involved

Image Comics shot out a press release this morning declaring that Betsy Gomez will be taking over the position of PR and Marketing Coordinator. The current person manning this position, Joe Keatinge, will become Sales and Licensing coordinator. Gomez apparently has years of convention and comics experience. Heidi MacDonald says she's been a volunteer with the CBLDF, which a google search verifies. Perhaps providing more precise information on her own comics background can be part of Gomez's first day on the job.

We at CR enjoyed working with Joe Keatinge, and we're glad to see he's secured a new and no doubt challenging position at the company.
 
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Missed It: Canadian Stereotype Comics

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

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Go, Look: Dr. Strange Art

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Go, Look: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

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Not Comics: Fantasy & Science Fiction

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Go, Look: The Hit

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* great headline.

image* Ted Dawson has a wonderful-looking Jack Kirby romance-era page up, including a top tier that has been re-purposed from a newspaper strip. I love stuff like that.

* looking over Roy Crane's shoulder.

* these reader-directed mini-interviews with Marvel's Tom Brevoort have been pretty informative, all things considered.

* not comics: I am going to assume someone pretty early on in the comments took Shaenon to task for not including The Island Of Misfit Toys. We should really do an island-inspired Five For Friday.

* not comics: the actress Eliza Dushku apparently won't be attending the Wizard Entertainment/Gareb Shamus-related shows to which she'd previously committed. This is important because there was a time when that convention group made a big point of having the actress on board. I would guess, however, that Dushku no longer having a genre show to promote is a big part of the decision.

* this group of staff reviews at PW apparently contains the first review of Dan Clowes' Wilson.

* David Brothers suggests trying to justify reading material that's been liberated from the control of its creators or that creator's designated agents is just piracy, and the sooner we admit that the better off we'll all be.

image* a couple of people have e-mailed me this on-line copy of the old Marvel Comics article from Rolling Stone, published at about the 10-year mark in the company's resurgence. I assume it's being linked to for some reason, and I apologize to whomever did that original linking. It's a fascinating article for a lot of reasons, and justifiably one of the most entertaining comics articles of all time. A couple of things, for the 10 percent of you familiar with the article that didn't know them: the writer is from what I remember doing the Stan Lee book the same Robin Green that was a producer on The Sopranos -- working for Stan is how she got a leg up in New York right after college -- and the couple that met through the Silver Surfer letters page that goes unnamed in the article is the Pinis.

* I guess they're bringing back the Thanos character. I always liked that character, although I didn't know he was gone.

* finally, this painting by Milton Caniff is up for purchase at a $750 price, which sounds like a huge, huge, huge bargain to me. It's not hard for me to imagine the whole world wanting something like that.
 
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Happy 79th Birthday, Fred!

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Quick hits
Craft
Vouching For Gipi's Originals

History
Stepping In Poop
Trixy and Frisky and Flitchy
Did They Just Bury The Jar?
Wow, That Is Gorgeous-Looking
The Year Everyone At Rutland Got Drunk

Interviews/Profiles
BBC: Darryl Cunningham
SuperI.T.C.H.: David Cowles
CBR: Bill Barnes, Paul Southworth
Techland: Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkins

Not Comics
Some Ugly Damn Hats
Jim Davis Plans Garfield Musical
David Lasky Protests About Pluto
Tom Gauld Designs Diet Coke Cans

Publishing
Newspapers Are Screwed

Reviews
Chris Allen: Various
Katherine Dacey: Various
Sarah Morean: Hive Vol. 3
Jared Gardner: Lucky Vol. 2
Robert Stanley Martin: Unlovable
Carlton Hargro: Flash: Rebirth #6
Rich Kreiner: Gotham Central Vol. 2
 

 
March 4, 2010


Go, Look: Kapreles Cartoons

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Moroccan Cartoonist Held In-Country?

This report from a Committee To Protect Journalists fact-finding mission to Morocco has a ton of material for anyone interested in a wider context to last year's troubles at publications in that country, which has been accused of hindering its press while at the same promoting itself as a liberal country when business interests call on them to do so. You even get the accusation that the journalists in question are trying to abdicate basic financial responsibilities by complaining to the US State Department, which is a pretty brutal argument.

A mention in the article that cartoonist Khalid Gueddar was prevented from traveling to Spain -- where I guess a number of Moroccans set up when they're exiled by political matters came as a surprise because the last I knew Gueddar was a) on trial for a cartoon he had done about a member of the royal family, and b) not even living in Morrocco anymore. I don't know if I can sort that out, but the overall impression seems to be that expression, including cartoon expression, has become subject to the same kind of legal pressures wielded by powerful public figures that seemed common in several countries during the fallout from the Danish Cartoons Controversey.
 
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Go, Look: Eric Orchard

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SF Chronicle Doing Color Comics?

imageAlan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist seems to think that this will be the case, although he's heard this through a contest framework that would make little to no sense. There have been color daily cartoons for a while. I know that when we did Wildwood ten years ago they were coloring our dailies for at least part of the time, although I have no idea to whom they were selling these to, if anybody. I think it's the default way people are used to seeing new strips on-line, although whether or not we process them as value-added or even in color, I'm not sure. Anyway, if a high-profile daily chose to make such a change right now, it would potentially throw a spotlight on current coloring practices: who's doing the coloring, who's receiving pay for it (not always the same people), and, most of all, whether it makes the comics more popular in that particular community.
 
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Go, Look: Cameron Stewart Posting Batman And Robin BnW Pages

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Your 2010 Prix de la Meilleure BD adaptable a l'écran Nominees

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One thing that the French-language comics culture/community/industry does that seems eminently sensible if not also highly amusing is foster an actual award for a comic property that seems well-suited for adaptation into TV or film, which they target and award at a festival that celebrates both comics and film -- mostly film I think -- enterprises. The news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com seems more excited than usual about this year's iteration of the Monaco festival because not only is there a quality head of that particular program (Jean-Claude Mezieres) but the wider festival has an honorary chair (Jean Van Hamme) with an extensive comics background.

Anyway, here are your 2010 nominees for Prix de la Meilleure BD adaptable a l'écran:

* Il etait une fois en France, Fabien Nury and Sylvain Vallée (Glénat)
* La Petite Fille Bois-Caiman, Francois Bourgeon (12bis)
* Rébétiko, David Prudhomme (Futuropolis)
* Commandant Achab, Stéphane Piatzszek and Stéphane Douay (Quadrants)
* Milan K, Sam Timel and Corentin (Les Humanoides Associés)

The festival in question takes place March 12-13. Van Hamme will receive an award for lifetime achievement on the 13th.
 
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Go, Look: Angel Originals

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Tom Devlin noticed this three-year-old post from Paul Hornschemeier where he discovered a page of layouts with an original page purchase at Heroes Con. I told you people HC is the best con to buy stuff.
 
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Bangladeshi Cartoonist Part Of Suit

According to a burst of regional wire reports, cartoonist Shishir Bhattacharya -- which I assume without knowing for sure is a spelling derivation on artist and cartoonist Shishir Bhattacharjee -- was one of five individuals related to the news organization Prothom Alo sued by the chairman of the business conglomerate Bashundhara Group earlier today on charges of defamation. Also named were the paper's editor, its publisher, its managing director and an associate editor.

The defendants will be called upon "to explain within three weeks why they would not stop publishing defmatory statements, reports and editorials" against the individual bringing suit as well as individuals and companies with which he's aligned. That's the linked-to news report's language, which doesn't sound promising. The nature of the complaint and its cartoon elements will likely be made more public as the case grinds on.
 
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Go, Look: Cliff Chiang Sketches

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Go, Look: Mickey Mouse Original

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Go, Look: On McCay

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Go, Look: The Kilroys #13

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Go, Look: Tough Cop

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* another Zuda winner. Either that's the third one or it's like the 20th and I'm doing a super-crappy job of keeping up.

image* Dash Shaw has a few notes on Thirteen Going On Eighteen, particularly how it's put together as a volume.

* Jeff Smith talks Bone on film with Print.

* a couple more top comics list for 2009 have popped up. The first comes from Mario Z. Alipio aka MZA:
1. Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)
2. Vie et mort du héros triomphante, Frederic Coché (Bries)
3. Footnotes in Gaza, Joe Sacco (Metropolitan)
4. Driven by Lemons, Josh Cotter (AdHouse)
5. Dungeon (Early Years Vol 2: Innocence Lost & Zenith Vol 3: Back in Style), Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar and Christophe Blain and Boulet (NBM)
6. You'll Never Know, Book 1: a Good and Decent Man, Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)
7. Cold Heat 5/6 & 7/8, Frank Santoro and Ben Jones (PictureBox)
8. A Drifting Life, Yoshihiro Tatsumi (D&Q)
9. Pim & Francie, Al Columbia (Fantagraphics)
10. Ganges #3, Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics/Coconino)
11. "3 Jacks," Daredevil #500, Ann Nocenti & David Aja (Marvel)
Honorable mention: Nine Ways to Disappear, Little Nothings: Prisoner Syndrome, Monsters, Beasts of Burden, The Bun Field, Gogo Monster, Uptight #3, Squirrel Machine, Mourning Star Vol. 2, Low Moon, Boy's Club #3, Love & Rockets: New Stories #2.
I thought the write-ups were well worth reading.

* here's a second list, this one from the cartoonist John Porcellino:
1. Genesis, R.Crumb (Norton)
2. OMAC: One Man Army Corps, Jack Kirby (DC Archives)
3. Like a Dog, Zak Sally (Fantagraphics)
4. Blammo, Noah Van Sciver (series) (self-published/Kilgore Comics)
5. Amazing Adult Fantasy Omnibus, Kirby, Lee, Ditko et al. (Marvel)
6. A Drifting Life, Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)
7. Aya, Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie (series) (D+Q)
8. Cecil and Jordan in New York, Gabrielle Bell (D+Q)
9. The Complete Little Orphan Annie Vol. 1, Harold Gray (IDW)
10. Doing Time, Kazuichi Hanawa (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
I should probably have something smarter to say than "John Porcellino!" but I don't. John Porcellino!

* if I understood this, I might agree that it's shady. Since I can't, I can only unfairly assume it's so.

* finally, Mark Evanier and Jeffrey Trexler comment on the Christopher Handley case.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Randy Stradley!

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Happy 5th Anniversary, MangaBlog!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Glenn Hauman!

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Quick hits
Craft
Pretty Cover
Dream River
Re-Designing Superman #1
Sean Phillips Makes A Book Plate
Sean Phillips Draws Robert E. Howard

Exhibits/Events
Report On Act-I-Vate Event
RC Harvey On Last Year's Stanley Awards

History
Superboy Was A Dick
Crisis On Earth-Twinkie
Greatest Superhero Hat Sequence Ever?

Industry
Liveblogging Previews 01
Liveblogging Previews 02

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Hope Larson
Marvel.com: Brian Maruca
Marvel.com: Nick Gurewitch
Marvel.com: James Kochalka
CBR: Joey Comeau, Emily Horne
CBR: Brian Azzarello, Rags Morales

Reviews
Ed Sizemore: Various
Marc-Oliver Frisch: Smile
Todd Klein: The Art Of Ditko
David Uzumeri: Justice League: Cry For Justice #7
 

 
March 3, 2010


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the news site Comic Book Resources has IDW's announcement of various Dr. Who-related projects.

image* the big publishing news of the week to my mind is the redesign of independent stalwart Top Shelf's web site, and, much more importantly, their announcement of future publishing efforts that is stuffed to the brim with new books and old ones shifted around a bit. I think the most crucial is the announcement of five new series: -- Dragon Puncher, James Kochalka; Maddy Kettle, Eric Orchard; Monster On The Hill, Rob Harrell (cover image at top); Okie Dokie Donuts, Chris Eliopoulos; Pirate Penguin Vs. Ninja Chicken, Ray Friseen. When you combine that with a look at their "new faces" like the Jess Fink book We Can Fix It spotlighted with art in this starred entry, you really get a different picture of the company than you might have had just a month ago, a shift -- not all the way, just maybe in emphasis -- from stand alone works like Blankets to more series-oriented offerings like Owly.

* by the way, I stuck an image from Nate Powell's Any Empire on the bottom, just because I hadn't seen word of that one yet -- I probably did and forgot -- and the next Nate Powell book should be something to see after how well-received Swallow Me Whole turned out to be.

* I don't have the skills to coverage new manga publishing news -- not yet, damn it -- but this book from Tokyopop looks kind of cute.

* the Savage Critics web site has updated their look. Blaise Larmee and Trouble With Comics are among those comics-related sites moving to a new place because of blogging provider changes.

* if there is any way at all I or anyone within my limited range of influence can encourage Roger Langridge to make his next project something in the classic strip format, let it be done.

image* Oliver East has posted an entire issue of Trains Are Mint on-line for your reading pleasure. It looks like that may be the beginning of a new publishing strategy for that work as the note hints that the paper editions haven't done well.

* Bob Greenberger reveals the cover to The Essential Superman Encyclopedia.

* the comics news and business analysis site ICv2.com has details on Vertical's Fall 2010 of Ayako. Yes, please.

* this forthcoming cover to I think the last issue of the latest Green Lantern-related DC Universe crossover looks like a poster to the most demented musical ever to hit Broadway.

* finally, Family has copies back in stock of the most recent Treehouse Of Horror comic book, the one with all the talents from Kramers Ergot taking part.

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Go, Look: Andy Council

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Go, Bookmark: Tsuge Interview

imageConventional wisdom suggests there are many things going on in the world of comics that are more worthy of news attention than a French-language iteration of a long, 1980s interview with Yoshiharu Tsuge that ran in L'Homme sans talent. However, one of the great things about covering an art form is that you can make time for these things the same way you can the bolt out of the blue, industry-churning kind of events, and that you can make case for the importance of finding out why artists as great as Tsuge function the way they do.

Although translating an interview twice (once into French; a second time into English via google) is just enough of a game of Telephone that you're likely to come away confused at times, there's a ton here that's informative and highly rewarding. For example, there's a moment where he's talking about how he's unsuited to walking as exercise either because while he's doing it he feels like shit or that he feels like taking a shit. On the other hand, both are funny. Most of the interview is, really. It's driven by Tsuge's massive, continental-shelf indifference towards continuing his comics career -- he didn't! -- as opposed to owning an antique store, and it's sprinkled with all these weird asides, like he was at one point planning on doing a comics version of Thunderbirds.
 
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Go, Look: King-Cat #62

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Virgilio Muzzi, 1923-2010

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According to a brief posting at the Italian comics news clearinghouse afNews.info, the artist Virgilio Muzzi died on February 25. The site learned of Muzzi's passing by scanning local news reports.

imageMuzzi was trained as a painter but entered the comics field in his early twenties. He began right away illustrating albums and applying his painterly skills to the covers from the publisher Universo. His better known serials from his early career appeared in the magazine Audace: "Il Cavaliere Nero" and "Lotta nell'Ombra." In the 1950s he expanded his work slate past Italian offerings into collaborations internationally. He illustrated covers for Eneanto (I'm guessing that's a magazine, although I have no idea), and worked for Amalgamated Press from 1956 on. He continued to keep his hand in Italian comics by providing art to various series, including Cagliostro.

He would begin work as a staff artist on Bonelli's popular Tex Willer series in 1960, contributing to over 30 stories in that long-running, hugely popular and decades-spanning Italian comics series. That collaboration would end in 1987. It is that lovingly precise, almost overwhelming accomplished work in places that is his best-known legacy, although he was considered a reclusive artist lacking public profile to match the obvious skill of his work.

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Go, Look: Linda Lark, Student Nurse

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Go, Read: Statement From Christopher Handley's Lawyer Eric A. Chase

Over at TCJ.com they're running a statement from Christopher Handley's lawyer Eric A. Chase on their perspective regarding their client's taking a plea in his manga obscenity case rather than fighting things out at trial. I don't think any sort of clever recontextualizing or summarizing on my part is appropriate right at this moment, so I hope you'll just read that article.
 
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Go, Look: The Deaths Of Adam Warlock And Thanos (1970s Marvel)

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These comics were named in last week's 5FF Bronze Age poll, so I went looking for them. The page I remembered loving as a 10-year-old that snapped up both issues at the famous flea market in Shipshewana was this one where the superheroes take a bit of time to brood and muse on things. I have no idea why. I guess I was really into superheroes brooding on things. I also had a real fetish for fantasy characters sitting around talking about events forthcoming.
 
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More On That Rob Rogers Cartoon About The Beating Of Jordan Miles

This is fascinating, and although it's not the main focus of this attention I can't imagine a better testimonial to the power of editorial cartoons to drive dialogue. The cartoon by Rob Rogers about the Pittsburgh-area that suggested racism might have been a factor in the police beating of a Jordan Miles, a cartoon that was criticized by police organizations, has also inspired a heartbreaking letter from the mother of the victim. I don't know what's going on in terms of the incident itself, it's not even something to which I've paid close attention, but I have to imagine that it's better to talk through these things in this fashion and it looks like Rogers' cartoon facilitated some of that dialogue.
 
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Go, Look: Plastic Sam

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

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Go, Look: Whip Tip Tales

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not safe for anywhere
 
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Go, Look: Creepy Hollywood Comics

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Go, Look: PI Round-Up

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Go, Look: Lou Fine's Doll Man

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Marvel is apparently once again killing its popular character Silhouette Man.

image* here's a rare review for Darryl Cunningham's other ongoing project, The Streets Of San Diablo.

* Richard Thompson wishes a happy birthday to Ronald Searle.

* the hits keep a-comin' at the Drawn and Quarterly comics playhouse with a copy of Miss Peach.

* this made me laugh.

* I did my own list of 75 books you should own for DC's 75th anniversary, but it ended up just being a list of every comic in which Mr. Tawky Tawny appears.

* that Jeff Smith documentary The Cartoonist continues its intermittent cross-country roll-out with a few dates and times on Chicago PBS stations. If you're a fan of Smith's, you need to see it.

* Nick Mullins discusses a few of the more fascinating parts of that recent Dylan Horrocks interview.

* finally, I can't tell if this is the best picture of Charles Burns ever, or the best picture of anyone ever.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Augie De Blieck!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Dan Mishkin!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Max Allan Collins!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Ronald Searle!

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Quick hits
Craft
F
House
Research
A Hellblazer Commission

Exhibits/Events
Brazilian Comics In The UK

History
On JLA: Detroit
Holy Crap Can An Android Cry

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Roger Langridge
BBC: Darryl Cunningham

Not Comics
Professor Harbin
It'd Be Funnier Were He On Lost

Publishing
Heralds Is A Terrible Name
The Book Of Grickle Previewed
Mitch O'Connell's Secret Project

Reviews
Katherine Dacey: MW
Tucker Stone: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Nina Stone: The Sword Vol. 3
Todd Klein: Melvin Monster Vol. 1
Sean T. Collins: Monster Vols. 4-5
Michael C. Lorah: Al Williamson: Forbidden Worlds
Johanna Draper Carlson: Modern Masters: Chris Sprouse
 

 
March 2, 2010


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 no-doubt 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 find those comics where certain fundamental imagery was present.

*****

DEC090242 ASTRO CITY THE DARK AGE BOOK FOUR #2 (OF 4) $3.99
DEC090403 CHEW #9 (MR) $2.99
DEC090415 SWORD #22 (MR) $2.99
JAN100426 TRUE STORY SWEAR TO GOD IMAGE ED #12 $3.50
JAN100576 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #24 $2.99
JAN101035 STARSTRUCK #7 $3.99
Here's a collection of well-liked -- by at least some people to whom I link regularly at CR -- standard comic-book sized comics. This includes the latest issue of burgeoning Image high-concept hit Chew, a final-battle issue (not "the" but "a") of the Luna Brothers' loopy Sword, Tom Beland's return to serial comics after injury, and the latest in Marvel's frothy Iron Man series. None are for everybody, but all are for somebody. The serial comic experience isn't quite as dead as people pretend it is at times, even on a seeming off week like this.

DEC091032 ONE PIECE TP VOL 34 $9.99
DEC091033 ONE PIECE TP VOL 35 $9.99
DEC091034 ONE PIECE TP VOL 36 $9.99
DEC091035 ONE PIECE TP VOL 37 $9.99
DEC091036 ONE PIECE TP VOL 38 $9.99
A lot of what's out this week reflects unsettled publishing strategies in a more interesting fashion than it does great comics, I think. For instance, here's the fruits of the latest effort by Viz to flood the market with a specific title and -- I think -- catch a series up to its animated iteration. The troubling part of this strategy is that there's seemingly no way this work as well as it did for Naruto. The positive is that no one on earth would expect it to, so if it enjoys any success at all, it will be noteworthy.

AUG090020 GRENDEL BEHOLD THE DEVIL HC $19.99
A second publishing strategy quandary: do you keep moving series into hardcover from established creators? In this case, Dark Horse says yes, but put off the answer to a question posed in 2008 for almost two years.

JAN100264 FIRST WAVE #1 (OF 6) $3.99
Here's a third take on recent publishing strategy. How do you launch a line/imprint within a wider line these days? This is the mini-series that's meant to launch DC's more mystery-men comics efforts as their own group of comics within their overall superheroic efforts, and would seem to have a better chance of success than just soft-launching a line the way they did last summer with that Red Circle stuff.

DEC090284 TRANSMETROPOLITAN TP VOL 06 GOUGE AWAY NEW ED (MR) $14.99
One more publication with implications to general publishing strategies: what is the level of commitment going forward on keeping certain series of collections in print? It seems like of the second generation Vertigo series, Transmetropolitan and Preacher would be the ones that would perennials in terms of all the books finding an audience, but that's just a hunch on my part.

DEC090579 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN HC VOL 01 $39.99
No such decision has to be made on collections of newer work with the reflected sheen of a being a hot movie property. Come back in five to seven years for the more interesting questions to be asked. I enjoyed the superhero comics in here.

NOV090249 SWAN VOL 15 $9.99
Old-school manga is the best kind of manga.

JAN100517 GIRL COMICS #1 (OF 3) $4.99
DEC090594 STRANGE TALES HC $29.99
This is Marvel's newest effort at a slightly off-key anthology effort using variations on its best characters as well as little-used ones (female creators doing female characters), and a collection of its last such effort (alternative comics artists doing alternative takes on Marvel's best-known and quirkiest properties).

NOV090897 ALEX TOTH IN HOLLYWOOD SC VOL 02 $25.00
This is a follow-up to last year's Theakston/Pure Imagination effort, and is definitely one of those book I'd want to pick up and look at before deciding if I wanted to purchase it or not. Alex Toth always deserves at least a thumb-through.

JAN100248 BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #42 $2.99
DEC090927 SAM KIETH SKETCHBOOKS VOL 01 $9.99
Two from Sam Kieth, the first the kind of mainstream assignment an artist of his statue will seemingly always have access to, and an art book showing why editors still get excited in affording Kieth the keys to one of their comic book cars.

JAN100690 STARR SLAYER TP A STARR IS BORN $19.99
Another such artist that seems to be getting work in this manner and then making good on it is Richard Corben. This is the old Roy Thomas/BWS character that was Conan before they got to do Conan. I'm almost certain he was revived and re-conceived by one of the major writers, but I can't think of whom: this is written by Daniel Way but there's no doubt that Corben's art is at the center of this project's appeal.

NOV090785 UNLOVABLE HC VOL 02 $22.99
The art/alt comics effort of the week, a massive tome picking up at the moment the first, well-regarded book left off.

DEC090842 STOOGE PILE GN (MR) $19.95
I'm not sure if this counts as a Petits Livres effort but if it's not officially one of those, it's in the same spirit. I can't get the PDF to load, but I take it it's a book of cartoon-related paintings and imagery, all from the artist Seth Scriver.

SEP091084 OUR SENTENCE IS UP SEEING GRANT MORRISON INVISIBLES SC (MR) $26.95
The only noteworthy book about comics that I saw on the Diamond list this week; Tom De Haven's Our Hero essay on Superman is out in bookstores as of today, so you could pair them up.

*****

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, that's because I am only inspired by the work I admire.

*****

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Go, Look: Dance Craze

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* the Danish Comics Council has made public their statement on the matter of Politiken reaching a settlement with eight international Muslim organizations on the matter of their having re-published Kurt Westergaard's bomb-in-turban cartoon in 2008. Even though the paper made clear that they were apologizing for the insult to Muslim sentiment rather than the publication itself, the Council believes that this has trouble free speech implications. As much as I've spent some of my own commentary time castigating free speech stunts or the choice to make a political point over simply and more directly doing one's job as a journalistic enterprise, I do believe that kind of speech is as fully protected as any and agree that the apology was ill-considered.

* here is what seems to me a pretty typical piece of editorial criticism of the Politiken settlement.

* the same coalition that extracted the settlement from Politiken is targeting 15 other newspapers, this report says.
 
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Go, Look: Born Again

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Go, Look: A Ronald Searle Retrospective

imageAfter running a link to yesterday's piece in the Times profiling the legendary illustrator and cartoonist Ronald Searle on the even of his 90th birthday, many of you sent links to the a three-part profile that ran at a blog called Streetlaughter. It's an excellent companion to that profile. As the piece in the Times focused on the artist at his current age and the personal and social factors that contributed to that personality, this is more of a step by step through important phases of Searle's varied career as an artist. It's also well-illustrated. A lot of fun, and it's nice to have a few days to consider the legacy of a still-living artist like this.
 
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Go, Look: A Muppet Wicker Man

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thanks, Gil
 
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Plagiarist Apologizes For Being Awesome

I'm just kidding, but almost not. I don't have anything to add to the Nick Simmons steals imagery from Bleach and other manga story beyond the eye-rolling that I imagine most reasonable people will perform. I think the ICv2.com article is right to point out there's a kind of shrugged-shoulder defiance/dismissal from younger artists in terms of seeing this kind of thing -- for that matter, seeing most anything -- as wrong, particularly if in the end they get over. I hope the comics company takes a stand one way or the other, and I hope they're hammered/lauded for what shape that stand takes. Maybe they could just get someone to trace the comic as it exists and pay that person, since the artist in question feels that this is okay.
 
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Go, Look: Prairie Home: The True Story

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thanks, Paul Karasik
 
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Comic Strips Pick-Up/Drops Update

* the Denver Post had done its best to link all future polls about the popularity of comic strip to massive purges of same, dropping a whopping 20 strips and adding one after their post recent reader-participative event. The list includes the work of last year's Reuben Award winner, Speed Bump, and the strip of one of this year's Reuben finalists, Cul De Sac. The lone pick-up was Steve Kelley's Dustin, although Scary Gary and Pluggers have been added on Sundays.

The Post was in a unique position of taking on strips when the Rocky Mountain News folded, which not only gave them a ton of strips but ripped the leverage of appearing at the News from the features. The pain will be felt by the strips themselves, particularly the borderline successful strips and modestly successful ones, where placement in a top 20 market and the money that comes with a slot in a bigger newspaper can be a real difference in the pocket of the cartoonist.

As I've mentioned before, I could see anywhere from 10-50 drops of over five features by papers in this calendar year.

* E&P reports that the Omaha World-Leader has returned Hagar and Non Sequitur to its comics pages. The World-Leader was the last paper to announce the kind of major, features-reducing overhaul of the kind the Post just announced. A certain amount of angry reaction is expected and usually built into these kinds of things.
 
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Go, Look: 1st Issue Special #9

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If I Were In Amherst, 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: Speedsters

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Go, Look: Acid Test

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Go, Look: Richie Rich #45

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Go, Look: Jimmy Swinnerton Re-Run

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Jeffrey Trexler has some fun with making connections between Daniel Petrocelli and various goings-on at Time Warner in the past, including a fight on behalf of legal difficulties facing a newer entertainment icon important to the company.

image* Marc Sobel pipes up on The Art Of Jaime Hernandez, which means I get to post a piece of Jaime's art.

* a few bigger-than-usual convention news items of interest. First, Fantagraphics will exhibit at this year's TCAF, although I'm told that Eric Reynolds will not be repping the company at the show. I'm sure it will be someone good. They'll get to hang out with Jim Woodring and Ho Che Anderson at the very least. Second, longtime TCAF exhibitor Drawn and Quarterly will apparently have a small army of talent at that show. Third, Brian Heater presents what looks like a super-solid slate of programming for the upcoming MoCCA Festival.

* not comics: there's something highly amusing about this video of Whitney Matheson wearing an Iron Man helmet and chest light, probably in that you expect her to fall over.

* Johanna Draper Carlson offers up a big post on graphic novels for kids, looking at a bunch of stuff I've barely even heard of.

* finally, this "how cartoonists picture themselves" post reminds me of the only "Viva La Comix" feature I ever killed at TCJ for being too cruel: a group of my high school classmates voting "uglier/the same/better-looking" on that generation of autobiographical cartoonists and their cartoon versions. Ask me about that one if we ever meet in person.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Mark Evanier!

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Quick hits
Craft
Charles Yoakum Inks Bruce Timm

History
Eat It, Parker
Cartoonist News 1925
Love For Jack Of Hearts

Industry
New Publisher, Editorial Directors at PW

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Kieron Gillen
CBR: David Petersen
War Rocket Ajax: Thom Zahler
ACME Comics: Chris Schweizer
Newsarama: Samuel L. Jackson
Talking Comics With Tim: Jim Rugg
Washington City Paper: Jim Dougan
San Francisco Chronicle: Jason Shiga

Not Comics
Art Spiegelman To Judge Totebag Contest

Publishing
Chapter Three Of Brody's Ghost

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Richard Bruton: Meanwhile
Andrew Wheeler: Grandville
Bill Sherman: Little Nothings Vol. 3
Grant Goggans: The V.C.'s: Back In Action
 

 
March 1, 2010


Go, Look: A Recap Of Mo Willems' Week At Rhymes With Orange

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Hilary Price just took a week off of her Rhymes With Orange offering. While there are all sorts of ways to handle that in comics, including re-runs or having a stockpile of strips ready to go, Price instead asked superstar illustrator Mo Willems to step in for a run of strips. That's a fun way to go about it, and Willems reprints his week here.
 
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Go, Read: Charles Hatfield On The Genesis Art Show At Hammer Museum

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Your 2010 BPA Cartoonist Shortlist

The 2010 iteration of the British Press Awards released its lists of nominees for the 2010 version, including the Cartoonist Of The Year category. I have no context for figuring out if they're important -- I'm guessing people go both ways on them in that they've been around for several years but that between the press received and the sponsorships instigated they also are clearly some sort of profit-driver for the host company. Anyway, here is the list of the cartoonists on their shortlist, and since the coverage in North America of the UK political cartooning scene post-David Low defeating Hitler is almost non-existent, it could be that just having a list of cartoonists to check out could make such an awards program worthwhile..

* Peter Brookes, The Times
* Dave Brown, The Independent
* Nick Garland, The Daily Telegraph
* Michael Heath, The Mail on Sunday
* Stanley McMurtry, The Daily Mail
* Matt Pritchett, The Daily Telegraph
* Chris Riddell, The Observer

The Awards Ceremony will be held March 23.
 
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Go, Look: Little Lulu #31

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Go, Read: The Times' Profile Of The Great Ronald Searle At Age 90

imageI greatly enjoyed this profile of Ronald Searle, the noted British illustrator and cartoonist who turns 90 the day after tomorrow. You not only get a sense of the life he's created for himself (a house where the phone never rings) but the cost in doing so (his calculated decision to leave behind his family once his children turned 14). You also get a bracing dollop of St. Trinian's stuff -- including the reminder that he trumped Robert Crumb's screwdriver murder of Fritz The Cat by by a couple of decades when he dropped an atomic bomb on the place -- and the haunting specter of his being held in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II. If I remember right, Searle is on comics-interviewer-supreme Gary Groth's five-finger wish list of conversations he'd like to publish, and that would be wonderful -- although with Searle now 90, one wonders how likely. If there are as many drawings as this article indicates from Searle's time in the prison camp, maybe Groth's publshing company could be employed in that general direction as well.

Department Of D'Oh: Yeah, they've already made that book. I was looking it up about the same time Matthias Wivel wrote in -- the first of nine of you to have the pleasure of reading the book pictured below. Thanks, everyone!

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Go, Look: 1973 San Diego Con Photos

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DC Switches Lawyers In Siegels Case

The invaluable Jeff Trexler, who has been closely following the Siegels/Superman case against Time Warner and DC Comics for Blog@Newsarama, has picked up on two legal moves by the DC team: 1) firing their outside counsel of Weissman Wolff Bergman and replacing them the higher-profile Daniel Petrocelli, best known for his win on Disney's behalf in the long-running Winnie the Pooh legal battles; 2) dismissing outside counsel Frost Zelnick, who provided legal expertise in the area of copyright termination.

Trexler notes that the first could be preparation for a move into direct legal confrontation as opposed to the cycle of court-ordered negotiation into which the case has more recently progressed -- the move to Petrocelli in itself could be seen as an aggressive move, although I can't imagine it'd be one likely to sway or intimidate the Siegels' legal team as much as it might frighten you and me, by which I mean "at all." My completely uneducated hunch is that one could also interpret the move in terms of extending the case through the likelihood of a more pernicious point-by-point resolution allowing for the current custody situation and the options that come with same to continue to some perceived benefit.

I'd love to re-present a lot of Trexler's more specific points through cut-and-paste, but my hope is that you'll read his coverage at the site that's hired him to provide it.
 
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Go, Look: Subby's Strange Powers

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thx, devlin thompson
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Two On On-Line Pricing

Like the vast majority of what's been written about on-line pricing and digital publishing, the two articles on which I'm throwing a spotlight here are intended for prose rather than comics. However, there should be a great deal of crossover involved and it's safe to say that decisions in prose are likely to have an effect on decisions in comics.

The first is an article in the New York Times that if it isn't already being talked about will be for its plain language and apparent intention to cut through a lot of rhetoric and get at the issue of what digital publishing costs. There will likely be objections to the author not "showing the work" behind several of the claims, and the sudden change mid-article to assume bad faith on the part of big book publishing in terms of keeping the current system alive. Still, there's a straight-ahead rhetorical style there I would favor in terms of future articles.

The second is this article from an author returning home after something called a "Tools Of Change" conference, in which you are immediately disabused of the notion that any of this is going to be easy because of so many small-a agencies work from so many platforms, such as the in-house digital publishing-first initiatives at various companies.

I think the takeaway from both is that there are a lot of assumptions that are still be held as if they're firm truths rather than soft truths, right down to the asserted institutional costs of things like the marketing services provided by publishers to something I've never heard of, that authors with the weight to ask for it seem to want greater royalties from digital sales. It also seems to me that in terms of comics there are equal opportunities to drag one's feet along with or to press forward with alacrity -- in that sense, that nobody seems to know exactly what strategy to pursue, it's a wide open field.

thanks, Gil Roth
 
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Go, Look: FCBD Comic Previews

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Go, Look: Jack Cole At Auction

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Go, Look: A Last Little Bit Of Sci-Fi

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posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Yardbirds

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Go, Look: A Selection Of Reed Crandall Stories From Treasure Chest

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you could do much, much worse than kicking off your week with this really fun post from Ken Parille about the formal techniques brought to bear on a page from a classic Casper comic book.

image* a lengthy round-table conversation on the Ariel Schrag book Likewise, including a response from the cartoonist, can be found here.

* how comics folk draw themselves.

* Paul Di Filippo rolls out a theory as to where Sgt. Rock came from -- at least the name. I haven't heard anything about this before. Does anyone out there know if this is a possibility. Bill?

* out of nowhere swoops a nice, short interview with Dunja Jankovic.

* I agree that this is awesome.

* I thought this note from Chris Butcher on the Nick Simmons thing made perfect sense even if it's not the point you might choose to emphasize at that particular time, but on an Internet trained like so many Mindless Ones in the single debating technique of maximize the other guy's argument and re-apply it as if you haven't changed a thing, Butcher has to explain himself.

* this slideshow of monsters drawn by Evan Dorkin is fun.

* finally, Michael Cavna catches a couple of things on that twin million-dollar Superman/Batman comic book sale orgy last week that I didn't, likely because for some reason I kept being gripped by the urge to vomit: this should be a boost for a) older, iconic comics of this type, b) this should be an even bigger boost for such comics that are certified as "graded" at a certain level of quality. In fact, I'd say that was a huge, twin victory for the grading people.
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Joyce Brabner!

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posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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