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
















August 31, 2011


Schulz Library Puts Out Second Call For Help

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Go, Read: The Art Of Peace

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Sebastian Beaty Reviews DC's New 52

From CR contributor Bart Beaty, in this morning's e-mail.

"True comics story: My five year old has recently started enjoying going to the comics store since I buy him NBM's Smurfs translations. The store has a section where they put out all the free postcards and promo books, which he knows he's allowed to take. He's just learning to read on his own, so he is fascinated by these things and reads them over and over: 'Black Panther is a man without fear! What does that mean, dad?' I usually can't answer these questions.

"So last week he picked up DC's preview of the relaunch and said 'Who's the man with the Superman t-shirt?' I told him it was Superman. He said 'No, Superman has a cape.' The store owner assured him that this was indeed the new Superman and Sebastian just rolled his eyes and said 'Superman has a cape' and walked away.

"At least there's still Smurfs for this kid."
 
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Go, Read: Michel Fiffe On Indie Comics/Mainstream Fusion

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Conversational Euro-Comics: Menu Announces L'Apocalypse

By Bart Beaty

The first actual change that I noticed at L'Association after the discontent of the first half of this year was when I received a box last week with review copies of three new books -- Christian Rosset's Avis d'orage dans la nuit, La Bande a Foster by Conard Botes and Ryk Hattingh, and Viva la vida by Baudoin and Troubs (which is excellent, by the way) -- and they included press sheets. That might seem like a small thing, but for a publisher who resisted having a web site and once described their press officer as "not really" in their catalogue, this concession to marketing and promotion (some would say to professionalism) seemed oddly amusing. Further, the comics had printed barcodes on them -- a first for L'Association, who had previously used removable barcode stickers. Welcome to the twenty-first century and the new L'Asso!

This morning brought an email, labelled "collective but private," in which Jean-Christophe Menu announced the vague outlines of his new project. Now separated from L'Association, although with a large number of books that he signed and edited (including the three noted above) still at the press, he has announced a new label: L'Apocalypse.

Perhaps the biggest news in his semi-news release is that Menu will be working with Etienne Robial, the founder of Futuropolis, and one of the most important figures in French comics during the 1970s and 1980s. What is promised is a vast catalogue of comics, art books, collections of drawings, texts and music (on vinyl!), all of which will position comics within an expanded field of artistic production. As he says, "The Apocalypse will be rock 'n roll."

With regard to the comics, Menu suggests that a number of former L'Asso artists will be following him to his new publishing house, as well as others not previously associated with that endeavor. He is promising a renewed commitment to the avant-garde in which he can publish "weird projects" in total freedom. I, for one, will look forward to it with great interest.

As with the Mayans, Menu's Apocalypse will arrive in late 2012.

*****

To learn more about Dr. Beaty, or to contact him, try here.

Those interested in buying comics talked about in Bart Beaty's articles might try here.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Bookmark: Petey Otterloop Takes Over Cul-De-Sac

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I'll admit that I jumped the gun on the "Petey Otterloop at Cartoon Camp" recommendation yesterday, as this week's Cul-De-Sac (starting here) marks a continuation of the storyline where Petey is assigned a comic from real life and decides to do one on sister Alice's play. I hope you'll consider joining me in reading it in real time in your paper or on the syndicate's site; cartoonist Richard Thompson says that Petey's comic should last through next week. I think Thompson's strip is in a really good place right now, and I hope it picks up additional papers until it gets to the middle-hundreds or so.
 
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This Isn't A Library: 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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

MAY111196 ANY EMPIRE HC $19.95
Nate Powell's major follow-up to the well-regarded Swallow Me Whole, this time tracking the effects of militaristic culture in the lives of three young people.

JUN110178 FLASHPOINT #5 (OF 5) $3.99
JUL110187 JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 $3.99
DC Comics' well-publicized major serial comics issues transitioning the company from their "universe" of the last 25-26 years and into a new, broodier one.

imageAPR110208 STEVE DITKO OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 STARRING SHADE $59.99
DC isn't releasing much this week, but even in a week stuffed with single-issues and trades a large volume of Steve Ditko 1970s work for the publisher would be worth a peek. This features but is not solely made up of the Shade material; you also get Stalker and a bunch of shorter works from various anthologies. It's a rare combination of material that's a) from a major comics creator and b) only haphazardly paid attention to over the years.

JAN118123 BPRD TP VOL 11 BLACK GODDESS $17.99
JUN118153 HELLBOY THE FURY #3 (OF 3) (2ND PTG) $2.99
The Mike Mignola and Mignola-related books, arising from one of the most fertile corners of the modern comics industry, make their usual appearance in some form on the weekly lists. Always worth a look. If I had a comics shop locally, I could see following these books a much because they're consistently published as because I enjoy them.

MAY110039 CREEPY PRESENTS BERNIE WRIGHTSON HC $19.99
MAY110040 EERIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 08 $49.99
I think maybe the first artist-focused Warren reprint, and one of Dark Horse's standard archival reprints. I think I'd be more interested in the Wrightson even if the prices were reversed, although those series definitely have their fans.

MAY110048 LITTLE LULU PAL TUBBY VOL 04 ATOMIC VIOLIN & OTHER STORIES $15.99
I don't have any comprehension of this material or, to be honest with you, this series, other than that the work itself is generally well-liked and I have to imagine with the obvious pedigree worth a look were you standing in a comics shop today.

JUN110412 ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #4 (OF 4) $3.99
I wasn't aware this family-approved tribute to Dave Stevens' foundational indy-comics series was going to be only four issues in length, but that sounds about right. Brendan McCarthy.

JUN110534 BUTCHER BAKER RIGHTEOUS MAKER #6 (MR) $2.99
FEB110462 INVINCIBLE #82 $2.99
Two of the Image comics at different ends of their limited but surprisingly diverse publishing framework: demented superhero deconstruction spearheaded by writer Joe Casey; sturdy-as-hell superhero revisionism from Robert Kirkman and friends.

MAR111015 BONE ONE VOL COLOR ED SGN HC 20TH ANN BOX SET $350.00
This is the elaborate box set you've been seeing advertised in RASL, full of extras and supplementary items but mostly notable for the miracle that is Bone looking that nice in color after looking that nice in black and white. Sometimes it seems like Jeff Smith isn't playing fair.

JUN110792 GIRL GENIUS HC VOL 10 AGATHA H & GUARDIAN MUSE $48.95
I don't really have anything to say here; I just liked the price point.

JUL111088 GHOST WORLD SPECIAL ED HC (NEW PRICE) $25.00
APR110903 LIFE & TIMES OF SCROOGE MCDUCK HC VOL 01 (AUG090745) $24.99
JUL111089 GAHAN WILSON 50 YEARS PLAYBOY CARTOONS HC (NEW PRICE) (MR) $75.00
JUL111223 INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET GN NEW PTG $24.99
Four books that have been out before, including new and what one guesses is more attractive pricing for the Ghost World edition and the Gahan Wilson boxed set, both of which should be in just about any serious cartoon library. I've totally lost track on which edition of Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck that is, but I like those comics and think they're charming. You should probably read the hybrid book Hugo Cabret before the movie locks a certain kind of visual realization into your head -- the comics sections invoked the hush of silent movies and work extremely well.

JUN110989 KILLING VELAZQUEZ GN (MR) $20.00
Conundrum's English-language reprinting of a recent, well-liked, French-language volume, given the most sober comics cover I've ever seen.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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Go, Look: Green Verses

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* I think the political conclusions in this article slightly unhinged, but I hadn't seen anyone link the uprising in Libya to the Danish cartoons.

* this piece on a female hacker jacking up sites publishing the Danish cartoons and dealing out justice to men doing horrible things to women sounds like the pilot episode of a USA Network summer show ("Hacks," with Debra Messing) more than it does something that totally exists in the real world, but the way the cartoons are broadly employed as a cultural touchstone fascinates me.

* this is the first article I can remember seeing where a positive aspect of the Cartoons Controversy -- the shared reluctance of the Danish government and its court system to crack down on Jyllands-Posten no matter how stupid, contemptuous and/or reckless one thinks their decision to publish was -- has been a potential North Star for someone working their way through a similar case. Usually when the cartoons and their fallout come to bear on a censorship matter it's to point out the overall negatives that spun out of those depictions of Muhammed.
 
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Go, Read: Mort Drucker's Sublime-Looking Perry Mason Parody

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Go, Read: Noel Murray On Erotic Comics

I liked this Noel Murray thinkpiece on erotic comics. Murray makes a fine, hand-smacking-forehead observation about the difference between the covers for the old Omaha The Cat Dancer trades and the new ones, and he provides an intriguingly kind reading of Omaha generally. On other points I'm slightly less convinced. For instance, I'm not certain that I totally agree with his quick and cynical appraisal of Eros Comics' progression as a publisher. That was a weird line of books, and since little sustained attention was paid it when it was ongoing concern it's difficult to parse the nuances that existed there. I'm also disappointed that while he brings up the rise of nudity on pay cable shows and the expectation that people brought to sex-focused material once upon a time, that this isn't explored more directly instead of the old violence/sex double-standard trope being trotted out. You can't tell me that there aren't people watching True Blood with the same sort of expectation for nudity he describes in post-underground comics readers of the '70s and '80s. I also think there's something to be said about the work of cartoonists like Chester Brown and Gilbert Hernandez, who confront sex in their work in different ways than Alan Moore does, not to mention the way some of this material is engaged by manga and in webcomics. At any rate, it's nice to have someone taking seriously these kind of broad developments and intersections with popular culture, even though I shudder more than usual at the thought of reading the comments section.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Kirby's Jimmy Olsen Splash Pages

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Go, Look: Three 1946 Little Lulu Stories

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Dan Nadel talks to SPX's Warren Bernard in timely fashion about the excellent news that SPX is working with the Library of Congress on a collection of material related to the show.

image* Tom Neely's Popeye tribute comic Doppelganger can be found scanned in its entirety over at Comics Alliance.

* Robin McConnell talks with Brandon Graham, Rebecca Dart and Robin Bougie. John Siuntres asks questions of Brian Bendis. Mike Rhode interrogates Marty Baumann. The magnificently-named George A. Tramountanas speaks to Victor Gischler. Mark Sable and Abhay Khosla debate Mat Brinkman's work.

* missed it: Portland's Guapo Comics And Coffee has apparently decided to drop the comics part.

* Warren Ellis talks about an idea floating around out there that digital comics will place a greater emphasis on shorter comics stories.

* the first and last sentence of Philip Nel's forthcoming book on Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss.

* a bunch of newspaper cartoonists will remember 9/11 on the tenth anniversary, via a Sunday cartoon. There was a similar effort back in 2001 I think maybe at Thanksgiving. Come to think of it, it should be interesting to see what the best political cartoonists do that day.

* various Justice League line-ups discussed.

* he didn't make it; it was posted on his site as a disavowal.

* you, Steve Ditko inking over Dick Ayers does sound like it would be attractive.

* someone crazy with a lot of money to blow should do a book of 1980s indie-comics advertising art.

* and a few, short words on shared licenses.

* Sean Gaffney reviews Tenjo Tenge Vol. 2. Don MacPherson explores Pherone. Greg McEhlatton checks out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco bounces between a bunch of individual comics.

* finally, this is a fun discussion of collaboration in Indie comics. I think it's partly an historical accident we don't have more, as doing it all yourself represents the cleanest break with mainstream comics tradition.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Rick Parker!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Shizue Takanashi

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August 30, 2011


Go, Bookmark: Art Auction Site For Dylan Williams' Benefit

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Go, Bookmark: One Thousand Ferzats

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thanks, Allan Haverholm
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* I did not know that Fantagraphics was going to be doing something with the late Jack Jackson's library of works. It's a tough field, but if there's a top five of under-appreciated cartoonists set in stone out there, Jack Jackson's name has to be among them.

image* the cartoonist Chris Schweizer shows off a few pages for the third Crogan book, and provides an update on scripting for the fourth.

* the imminent Habibi sure cuts an impressive figure.

* Sleepwalk And Other Stories enters its fifth printing.

* I don't know if I linked to this already or not, but it's always good news when a new issue of Ganges is about to drop.

* the Batman of "Earth One" is one squat-looking little kid.

* missed it: the debut a while back of a twice-weekly webcomic from prominent creators -- and I believe office mates, maybe? -- Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik and Scott Kurtz.

* Steve Skelton has placed 2 Cows And A Chicken on hiatus.

* Cul-De-Sac picks up the San Antonio slot vacated by Family Tree. I think that's a fine tonal match, and I hope other newspapers consider it. It's an interesting piece to see what Richard Thompson's profile looks like these days in the public sense.

* DC's recently popular Justice Society of America comics will return in some as-yet announced form under the new re-launch.

* the Lutefisk Sushi cover-artist contest is currently in the voting stage. You can pick between Zander Cannon, Ryan Dow, Dwitt, Britt Hammberg, Lupi McGinty, Dan Murphy, Bill Prendergast, Britt Sabo, Tim Sievert and Brett Von Schlosser. If nothing else, you can familiarize yourself with any of the cartoonists of whom you're not aware.

* Al Davison is trying to raise money for a part-autobiographical book through IndieGoGo.

* finally, a new Ditkomania dropped earlier this month.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Read: Prospect Park Dusk, Prospect Park Dawn

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please forgive the earlier attempt to rename the comic
 
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Michael George Motion Dismissed; To Stand Trial September 7

According to regional newspaper filings, Macomb County Judge John C. Foster denied a motion filed by Carl Malinga, the defense attorney for former prominent comics retailer and convention organizer Michael George, to dismiss the murder case against his client based on their handling of evidence that might have benefited his client. George's second trial -- the results of the first in 2008 were suspended because of the evidence issues -- will begin September 7.

George is accused of the 1990 shooting death of his then-wife in their Michigan comic book store. At the time of his arrest four years ago, George was relocated to Pennsylvania where he had remarried. The trial garnered some significant attention for its lurid aspects and the fact that it was for a murder several years old that was being brought not from new scientific evidence but by an administrative initiative digging into older cases. Prosecutors maintain that the case was dismissed in part because of the difficulties in trying an old case and securing all of the police paperwork from long ago.

A hair found on the sweater Barbara George was wearing at the time of her murder was tested this Spring for a potential match with her husband; it did not match. That delayed a planned March 2011 second trial. George has been out on bond since June 2010. Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski will preside over the trial.
 
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Go, Read: Petey Otterloop Goes To Cartoon Camp, 2011

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Week One
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Week Two
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
 
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SPX Establishes Collection At The Library Of Congress

I'm working entirely from a just-dropped press release, and while that's always a danger I thought this announcement cool enough for exception's sake: Bethesda's Small Press Expo is establishing a Small Press Expo Collection at The Library Of Congress, working with curators to establish a bunch of works at the Library that show off the diversity of the independent comics scene that the Expo serves. Since the Library already has access to copyrighted works that are submitted for collection, this specific effort will include self-published work such as mini-comics and tabloid anthologies. The only works considered will be from cartoonists that attend the show or those that are Ignatz Award nominees -- those nominees will receive automatic inclusion. The Expo's web site will be digitally archived.

I'll jump link to the full press release when it gets posted somewhere. Until then, you can download this word document version if you're interested in as much information as they've put out there: spxloc.doc.
 
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Go, Look: I Was Told I'd Be Picked Up

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A Few, Brief Notes On Reaction To The Ali Ferzat Beating

* the savage beating given Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat last week, including the symbolic act of assaulting his hands to punish him for drawing cartoons critical of the current government regime, has become the kind of story that unites American political commentators in denouncing the act -- albeit to different ends after that initial criticism. Over at National Review Online, Jay Nordlinger compares Ferzat to Estonian cartoonist Heinz Valk.

* it makes sense that Ferzat's international reputation will likely provide the basis for some of the support he'll receive -- it's harder not to support someone who won an award or who spoke in your country than it would be if the person were largely unknown. This short piece indicates that the Netherlands' foreign minister is working on behalf of EU censure of the act.

* the Egyptian Cartoonist Association pledged their support of the cartoonist many of them call friend, and plans an exhibition of his work this Fall. That article mentions that the French foreign ministry has pledged their support -- France being one of many prominent markets for Ferzat's work.

* "When the president sends ruffians to beat a cartoonist, he is on the way to defeat." -- Yediot Aharonot

* Jean Plantu pays respect.

* finally, it's worth mentioning this Cagle post again, if only for the number of cartoonists who criticized the action through the strategy of showing a kind of cartoonists' solidarity with the injured artist.
 
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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 Portland, I'd Go To This

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Dueling Depictions Of Batman's Rogues Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there are a bunch of photos of the flood-threatened Schulz Library at The Center For Cartoon Studies here, and again in Jen Vaughn's report here.

* David Hyde runs a bunch of links to general media coverage of DC's imminent re-launch.

image* the writer and critic Rob Clough finally gets around to naming his top 50 from 2010. This is something I could make ample fun of if I had published mine in a reasonable time period instead of "not quite yet." His number one is a surprise (and not the book pictured at left).

* a Big Questions review round-up, in honor of the book's hometown launch. Keith Knight provides a bunch of links to recent interviews.

* the retailer and foundational comics blogger Mike Sterling celebrates one of the fun features in recent comics publishing history, the exhaustive indexes in the Complete Peanuts series.

* SLG publisher Dan Vado has done some self-inventory and would like your questions.

* Craig Thompson announces the artists to whom he once sent postcards tangentially related to their work, something I think stumped everyone.

* I thought it was weird at first to read the writer JM DeMatteis saying a quick goodbye to his JLI work in the context of DC's present universe fading, but the more I think things through, the more that comedic Justice League stuff could be argued a signature book of that quarter-century era, with little before or after that was like it.

* Todd Klein reviews John Byrne's Next Men #4. Sean Gaffney delves into Dorohedoro Vol. 4. Greg McElhatton takes a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (another one?). Don MacPherson explores All Nighter #3. John Kane confronts Jack Kirby's The Losers. Johanna Draper Carlson flits from manga volume to manga volume and unpacks Little Nothings Vol. 4. Finally, Kate Dacey shakes Cage Of Eden Vol. 1 until it drops something.

* Michael Cavna posts his favorite Hurricane Irene-related cartoons.

* finally, a spot of nerdcore: a Michael Kupperman neck tattoo.
 
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Happy 68th Birthday, Robert Crumb!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Jacques Tardi!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Ken Bruzenak!

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Please Remember To Support Dylan Williams

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you can bid on the above Steve Lieber drawing here; you can buy books from his fine publishing outfit Sparkplug Comic Books here; you can buy comics at Floating World on the second day of the Williams benefit -- information here
 
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August 29, 2011


Go, Look: Doll Parts

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On Rejecting The DC Digital Retail Deal

You should read the whole thing. I think Brian's characterization of the new retailer-as-digital-storefront deal as essentially brick and mortar retailers serving as agents for the digital retailer is reasonably dead-on, or at least as close as it has to be for a certain class of retailer to push away from the table. I expect there to be changes to the program to deal with some of these concerns -- if there haven't already been modifications. In a new initiative, there tend to be rules that are put in as boilerplate where no one sees the downside until someone flips out, rules that people are only too happy to modify. But the general theory of "who is doing the retailing?" as it were, that seems clear. And it ain't the direct market shop owners. Plus there's something to be said about how one side perceives the relationship that this kind of deal was offered in the first place.

The second half of Hibbs' essay, where he doubts that digital in and of itself will drive anyone to a comics shop, also seems rational to me. I would add a few things. Hibbs seems to get to his conclusions by characterizing the likely audiences and casting aspersions on the exposure model as a general theory. I think he's right that exposure as a driver across a product group tends to be a dubious proposition, but I think a potentially more fundamental key is that the digital experience is going to be different than the comics shop experience to the point that there's no reason for anyone to link them on some sort of continuum. Buying stuff on-line has never driven me to a shop; it's replaced a kind of buying or maybe supplemented a kind of consumption -- and that's with a consumer good that's exactly the same. Here we're talking two different kinds of products, and a percentage of customers that will have no previous, significant experience with brick and mortar as opposed to knowing one and then being introduced to the other. (If I suddenly found out there were brick and mortar stores that sold discs of last night's television shows, the kind of thing that I only began to access when they showed up on-line, I'm trying to figure out if there's any way on earth this would appeal to me.) I also think that when Brian lists the kinds of comics customers for whom digital works, he kind of skates by people that prefer to shop from home as opposed to going to a store just as a general rule now. You don't need to have a bad shop or no shop at all to prefer digital; you just have to prefer digital.

The other thing that I think one should maybe keep in mind is that even if the digital and brick/mortar combo is to work, it's unlikely that it's going to work for everybody. As I recall, the new program launched with something like 100 stores signed up, but more than that it's a fundamentally different way of doing business and not everyone is going to figure it out to advantage -- just like only a percentage of stores were able to utilize manga or alt-comics and not everyone in comics retail even makes good use of trade paperbacks. To put it bluntly, the system the DM has now barely works; a new, more complex system seems to me to have less of a chance of going smoothly even if there's 100 percent buy-in.

Ultimately, this seems way too damn close to the re-launch to have people like Hibbs finding out that the program is a dud for them. This deepens the impression much of the entire DC initiative has been slapped together, on an artificial deadline, for no particular reason anyone cares to share.
 
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Go, Look: Bingbang Buster

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James Sturm: CCS' Schulz Library Building Potentially Lost

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Upon hearing dozens of e-mailed and tweeted rumors, CR asked Center For Cartoon Studies Director James Sturm for an update as to possible storm-related damage hitting CCS and particularly its Schulz Library. He responded at approximately 3:30 AM Monday morning.

"Crazy night," Sturm wrote. "Brave and tough-minded group moving books out of the library until 3 AM as White River continued to rise."

Those following the weekend's news closely know that as much as Hurricane Irene seemed to fizzle out of any serious impact on New York City as had been feared, the state of Vermont was hit with torrential rains and resulting flooding, with rivers that may not have crested as of Monday morning. CCS in located in White River Junction. The Center's Schulz Library is located nearest the river of any school building. A late-night call went out for volunteers to help salvage books before they were potentially water damaged.

Sturm indicates that despite the harrowing night, the volunteers were largely successful. "Trees, huge freight containers smacking into bridge a few feet away as we worked. Got maybe 70 percent of the stuff out of there, rest moved to higher shelves. [We'll] know more tomorrow [about the] fate of rest of collection." Sturm indicated that the building itself might be a loss. "Probably won't be able to move back into that wonderful space (the old firehouse). The Schulz Library shares the building with The Main Street Museum, a one-of-a-kind place. It would be awful if that amazing institution went under."

Sturm then moved on to positive news, that the rest of the school's infrastructure -- further removed from the river -- seems to be doing fine. "Rest of CCS is dry and safe (here's hoping it stays that way!)." He concluded by promising that library services will be made available to CCS students as soon as is possible.

Update, 8:30 AM ET: Sturm wrote in this morning to give good news. "This area is a mess, but no water got in the library. Not one book lost." There is, however, serious damage to the old Firehouse that was the library's home, and Sturm will organize a crew to get the remaining books out of that building today. "So many people offering help and support -- very humbling."
 
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Go, Look: Cartoon Cavalcade Rarities

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Update On Assaulted Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

All I'm seeing at this point is information gleaned from the cartoonist's web site: a photo of a candlelight vigil at the cartoonist's house, a photo of the bloody t-shirt that Ferzat wore the morning of the attack, a lengthy account the only new thing (I think) is that Ferzat was abducted after having his car intentionally slammed into by another car, and something we linked to late last friday, a post denying any direct affiliation with a purported self-portrait making its way around the Internet.

The only other things I see out there are the expected Cagle cartoon round-up and a cartoon of support at Cartoon Movement.

I'll keep an eye on the story if there are any developments, such as an effort by cartoonists in the U.S. and in other countries to aid Ferzat, CR will cover it.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: 1962 Norwegian Men's Magazine Cartoons

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* when it comes to topical, comics-related posting, you can always count on Bully and Daryl Cagle.

image* not comics: the best answer to the question Vanessa Davis asks about which of her recent paintings to put into print form would be all of them, but if I had to choose one I'd choose the one at right because it's really hard to find art that can be appropriately hanged in a bathroom.

* the dancing Annables.

* Rob Clough examines Inkweed. Sean Gaffney reviews Anesthesiologist Hana Vol. 1. Sean T. Collins looks at Fantastic Life. Grant Goggans plows through Mister Miracle #1-5.

* Don MacPherson unpacks the crap out of a recent Marvel retailing initiative in which they offered in trade an advertisement in their books for a certain, massive level of purchases on a single comic.

* please remember that Floating World Comics starts their Dylan Williams fundraiser today.

* missed it: I really like how enthusiastic JH Williams III was when it was announced DC would be releasing a trade collecting his various Chase work.

* I'm kind of loathe to link to anything about Jim Shooter's blog because of its documented attempts to rewrite history in Shooter's favor, but this story is pretty funny.

* Michael Cavna walks through several cartoon-related responses to the retirement of Steve Jobs.

* not comics: the three things I remember about the 1992 Captain America movie is that I watched it on Christmas, Captain America steals Ned Beatty's car with the old "I'm pretending to feel ill until the fat guy leaves his car at which point I'll run and jump in on the driver's side" trick, which really needs to be part of every superhero's repertoire, and there's a very strange environmental message tossed in at the end. Speaking of Captain America movies, I recently saw the new one on a rare excursion out-of-doors. I thought it was sweet-natured and a decent August matinee movie, surprisingly violent in its own, PG-13 way. I think it lacked the killer set pieces most movies offer that are fondly remembered for a long while, but it should be a pleasant enough thing to run across on pay cable on a Wednesday night in a couple of years. The fight choreography and action scenes were new-movie standard, and the acting was at a reasonably high level ensemble-wide. I did notice that every time there wasn't something specific for Chris Evans to do in terms of physical action, he looked like a guy walking across a set in a funny costume. (To be fair, I have that problem with most of the superhero movies. One thing Hugh Jackman's done well in the X-Men flicks is he always looks like a guy who smells everything and wants to stab half of it; I'm guessing it's the dance training.) I also thought when Evans' head was on that skinny guy's body -- someone please invite that skinny guy to a convention -- he looked like Jack Kirby's original conception of Johnny Storm. I liked the film's final line.

* Paul Gravett profiles Anthony Earnshaw.

* Jonathan Ross writes about comics in his typically amusing fashion. I'm always intrigued by those guys that love comics but don't have a real appetite for them outside of genre work. I know that enrages some people, but I just sort of find it fascinating.

* finally, Mark Evanier remembers Jack Kirby on the occasion of what would have been his 94th birthday. One of the direct benefits of all this attention paid to the late artist is that it means we've recovered for popular reading a lot of his works that might otherwise have been ignored.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Mark Heath!

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Late-Night Facebook Rumors Swirl Around CCS

At the Schulz Library, various Irene-related rumors swirl: depending on who you read, the books were all moved to keep from being damaged and/or something struck the library. Doesn't sound like anyone is hurt, and I imagine it will all clear up in the morning.

It's on Twitter, too. I'm guessing the former at least is almost certainly true. Good luck to all the nice people out there. Please stay safe and know everyone out here that's fond of the school will do everything they can to assist if it's necessary in the days and weeks ahead.
 
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August 28, 2011


Jack Kirby, The King of Comics, Would Have Been 94 Years Old Today

Jack Kirby, the mighty heart of the American comic book industry, would have been 94 years old today. Below is a tiny, even insignificant sample of his awesome image-making power, many of which were culled from around the Internet, for your ruminative and reflective pleasure. Long live the King.

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Go, Catch Up: What We Did At The Weekend

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Go, Look: Cars And Plants

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Go, Read: DC Comics Event Slaughters Billions

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I dare you to get to the line that begins "Alfred the Butler" and not laugh
(from Sean T. Collins)
 
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Go, Read: Marko Djurdevic Slaughters Everybody Else

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described here; actual report here
(another one from Sean T. Collins)
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Santa Rosa, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 36th Birthday, Elijah Brubaker!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Benoît Peeters!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Joann Sfar!

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FFF Results Post #264 -- Best Buds

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Characters With Whom You Wanted To Be Friends As A Child." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Linus
2. Spider-Man
3. Jimmy Olsen
4. The Thing
5. Mr. O'Malley

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Eric Reynolds

1. Kitty Pryde
2. Snoopy
3. Popeye
4. Power Pack
5. Changeling

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Michael Dooley

1. Skippy
2. Kayo
3. Mickey (himself) McGuire
4. Worry Wart
5. Smokey Stover (for adult supervision)

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1) Hot Stuff
2) Sasquatch (from Alpha Flight)
3) Popeye
4) Bugs Bunny
5) Billy from Family Circus, but only when he's wandering around the neighborhood.

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Michael Grabowski

1. Dennis Mitchell
2. Charlie Brown
3. Kitty Pryde
4. Peter Parker
5. Popeye

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Rob Clough

1. Linus Van Pelt
2. Bugs Bunny
3. Jarvis
4. Richard Rory
5. Beverly Switzer

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Frank Juliano

1) Shang-Chi
2) Clint Barton
3) Norrin Radd
4) Dick Grayson
5) Howard The Duck

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Justin J. Major

* Hot Stuff the Little Devil
* Jughead
* Billy Batson
* Johnny Quest
* Steve Dallas

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Mark Coale

1. Barry Allen
2. Scott Free
3. Hank Pym
4. Raul the Cat
5. Hot Stuff

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Eric Newsom

1. Tim Drake
2. Chuck Taine
3. Angelo Espinosa
4. Stephanie Brown
5. Marvel Comics artist Rick Parker of "The Bull's Eye" fame

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Fred Hembeck

1. Pete Ross
2. Peter Parker
3. Little Archie
4. Jimmy Olsen
5. Little Lulu (Tubby and Alvin were both just too annoying)

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Tom Galambos

1. Charlie Brown
2. Robin
3. Richie Rich
4. Linus
5. The Superfriends (as a unit. I didn't have a clear preference).

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Bat-Mite
2. Casper the Friendly Ghost
3. Snoopy
4. Milo Bloom
5. Jughead

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Tom Bondurant

1. Zonker Harris
2. The Atom (Ray Palmer)
3. Commander Arcturus Rann
4. Kid Flash (Wally West)
5. Uncle Scrooge

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Jake Kujava

1. Herbie
2. Tubby
3. Sad Sack
4. Pluto
5. Jack Kirby's Hulk

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Eric Knisley

1. Doctor Canus
2. Big Barda
3. Alfred Pennyworth
4. Ben Boxer
5. Porkypine from Pogo Possum

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M. Emery

1. Stogie
2. Hoagy
3. Garfield
4. Bogor
5. Dan Dare

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Gerry Alanguilan

1. Tintin
2. Sam Guthrie-Cannonball
3. Alfred E. Newman
4. Kitty Pryde
5. Brother Eye

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Jason Green

1. Heathcliff
2. Stimpson J. Cat
3. Michelangelo
4. Asterix
5. Jokey Smurf

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Andrew Mansell

1. Robin
2. Linus
3. Mon-El
4. Sun Boy
5. Ultra Lad

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Buzz Dixon

1. The Lone Ranger
2. Superman
3. Donald Duck
4. Gorgo
5. Dondi

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Chris Duffy

1. Spider-Man
2. The (blue, furry) Beast
3. Nightcrawler
4. Snoopy
5. Nova

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Indigo Kelleigh

1. Renensco P. Blue
2. Sam & Max
3. Zot!
4. Binky & Bongo
5. Hobbes

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Woodrow Phoenix

* Jughead
* Hank McCoy
* B H Calcutta (failed)
* Ralph Dibny
* Janet van Dyne

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John Platt

1. Jimmy Olsen
2. Spider-Man
3. Richie Rich
4. E-Man
5. Irwin from Boom Hilda

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Vito Delsante

1. Dick Grayson/Robin
2. Cosmic Boy
3. Ferro Lad
4. Rick Jones (I wanted to be in the Teen Brigade before I was a teen!)
5. Wally West/Kid Flash

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Marc Sobel

1. Han Solo
2. Spider-Man
3. The Wonder Twins
4. Snoopy
5. Jokey Smurf (he only had one joke, but it was a good one)

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Randall Kirby

1. Forsythe P. Jones
2. Jack Power
3. Pig Iron
4. Kool-Aid Man
5. Huey Duck (et al)

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Marc Arsenault

1. 555 95472
2. Tintin
3. Invisible Kid
4. Abigail Arcane
5. Rick Jones

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Dustin Harbin

* Richie Rich
* Jackie Jokers
* Jughead Jones
* The Black Knight
* Gyro Gearloose

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topic suggested by Michael May; thanks, Michael

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Some Guy Selling Water Outside The Baltimore Comic-Con


Local Radio Station Visits Baltimore Comic-Con


Asaad Ferzat Talks On Al-Jazeera About His Brother (Briefly)


Kurt Westergaard Speaks!


Kurt Westergaard Speaks Some More!


Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat Sitting Up In Hospital Bed After Attack


Broom Hilda Anti-Smoking Cartoon


Loriot Tribute Video
 
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August 27, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 20 to August 26, 2011:

1. Syrian dissident cartoonist, gallery owner and one-time satirical magazine publisher Ali Ferzat picked up by a quartet of masked gunmen, beaten (mostly in the hands and arms) and dumped on a road near the Damascus airport. Ferzat's hands were targeted for his having drawn cartoons critical of the current regime's crackdown of protesters.

2. Industry shudders as once-successful Phoenix-area chain Atomic Comics closes.

3. DC begins its PR ramp up for next week's debut of its relaunched books.

Winner Of The Week
Dylan Williams.

Loser Of The Week
The animated corpse of Stan Lee Media.

Quote Of The Week
"I have some great memories of my regular customers, seeing these people week in and week out. Some for as many as 25 years of not missing a beat as they picked up their books. Bringing the new readers into comics by doing various promotions and events was something I enjoyed a great deal and will truly miss. Hopefully the customers and fans I cultivated will find new a new place to call home and get their geek on. To all my fellow comic book retailers out there, I truly hope you do not succumb to the same fate, can see this recession thru, and continue to be successful and flourish. I will be here rooting for you! With DC's September release of the #1's, Marvel's makeover of key books and continual growth, and other publishers working hard with some amazing new and exciting content, there is hope on the horizon for the direct market! I have enjoyed sharing thoughts and ideas with all these other retailers. Much love and appreciation to you all." -- Mike Malve

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today's cover is from the great comic book series Four-Color

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

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Matt Wiegle!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Denis Kitchen!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Phil Hester!

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August 26, 2011


I Don't Think This Is Legitimate, But I Would Love It To Be

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The above has been flashing around twitter and on some sites as being a self-portrait from Ali Ferzat, the Syrian cartoonist beaten by pro-regime thugs yesterday morning. While I hope it is, because that would be awesome beyond words, it doesn't really look like most of his cartoon work, it seems a bit on the nose, and I don't know how you'd draw with a fractured arm (I'm 99 percent certain Ferzat is right-handed). Also, I'm not sure the middle finger means the same thing in Syria as it does in Syracuse. I'll update if I can find out one way or the other.

Update: A post on his official site says he's not responsible for the supposed "self-portrait."
 
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Updates On Cartoonist Ali Ferzat's Thursday Morning Beating

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What follows are links to updates on various aspects of yesterday's big news story: that a group of masked gunmen aligned with Syrian security forces kidnapped and broke the hands of that country's most prominent dissident political cartoonist, the 60-year-old former publisher and current Damascus gallery owner Ali Ferzat.

* the BBC has a fine, general report up which places the attack in the context of ongoing violence in Syria. Foreign Policy had the best reaction and context-of-the-cartoonist's-work article up late yesterday.

* the US condemned both the general acts of repression and this act specifically in a statement by the State Department yesterday.

* the cartoon reprinted above from Ferzat's site has become a second or even third contender for "cartoon that set the authorities off."

* as that link indicates, the cartoonist's site is back up.

* an early article on the beating shows what Ferzat looked like when he didn't have the shit kicked out of him (I would imagine he's standing in his Damascus gallery), says he was taken to Al Razi hospital, and I think suggests he might have had surgery, which doesn't sound right to me. A later article from that same publication says that Ferzat was pulled from his car by his attackers, there were four of them, and that a bag containing his work and work implements was taken from him. It also says he had no idea where he was taken or dumped (it was a road near the city's airport).

* as that article indicates, initial reports such as the one that ran on the Washington Post blog gave Ferzat two broken hands when it looks like now only one may be broken. Both hands were obviously savagely attacked, incompetence being the sole factor from both being broken, and the cartoonist has repeated his claim this act was directly intended to silence his pen and punish him for past cartoons.

* the New York Times tallies the injuries as two fingers on his left hand broken, his right arm fractured and general bruises including more severe damage around his left eye. This would match the bulk of the pictures emerging, such as this thorough group, and explain why he held up his left hand for inspection and not the right one. No mention of the spinal cord injury suggested in a couple of the Arabic-language pieces.

* that Al-Jazeera blog post linked-to just above this line indicates that the cartoonist is resting at his home in Damascus.

* maybe the best of the as-yet-unconfirmed nasty stories surrounding the incident.

* the bulk of reports indicates that the perpetrators were a group of "Cbihh," a much bandied-about and controversial term used to cover a broad range of extra-military, hired thugs working in conjunction or even in excess of what uniformed soldiers are doing. I would imagine this will give authorities some room for denial of involvement, and I would imagine reading some of the anger involved that most people on the ground there won't have much patience for claims made on that basis.

* as expected, state-run media founts are reporting that Syrian authorities are looking to apprehend the men that administered the beating.

* U.S. cartoonist Jen Sorensen rightfully calls this "a political cartoonist's worst nightmare." Robot 6, Cartoon Brew and The Beat are among those comics-related news sources that have covered the story so far.

* here's an array of Ferzat cartoons set to music. Here's another, I think better, one.
 
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Go, Look: JR Williams' Cartoons And Comic Gallery

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DC Comics Gears Up For Next Week's Relaunch Push

I'm attempting to write something on recent concrete retailing developments leading up to DC's relaunch, which starts next week with the distribution of two transitional comics, Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1. Hopefully I can post that early next week. For now, I'll direct you to probably DC's best piece of PR-generated coverage yet, another super-friendly piece at the LAT Hero Complex blog that's a report on the forthcoming event through a kind of profile on Dan Didio and Jim Lee.

The reason this one seems so appealing is because they've pulled out the "comics are dying/we have to do something" argument, which is a great piece of rhetoric for a lot of reasons. First of all, comics sales are dying, and companies like DC should be doing something. Second, it makes DC sound honest and bracing relative to how they might come across with a strategy that didn't at least rope in some sort of critical analysis of the state of comics publishing. Third, it suggests a contrast between what they're doing and what other companies -- Marvel almost solely, of course -- aren't doing. Fourth, it adjusts expectations a bit in the way that when something has to be done there's an element of hoping for the best, whereas if something is done by choice or to gain an advantage it brings in a greater expectation that it has to strongly succeed to have been worth doing. In other words, this is pretty good PR, and a nice set of arguments to take into a week of mainstream publicity where they can be employed or not depending on the venue.

My objection to this PR strategy is I haven't seen anyone suggest that nothing should be done or that times aren't desperate. The few strong doubts I've seen or heard expressed are about DC's ability to execute this plan as strongly as they need to for it to have the effect they want it to have without causing a massive and largely unnecessary employment of resources that could have been better employed elsewhere. That's an important distinction, and astute characterizations of the motives and causes involved don't really touch on that point. Nor does DC's initial success in capturing the attention of comics shops order-makers with several titles launching at 100,000 plus assay those fears -- although that's a far more positive outcome than if they hadn't launched well, for sure. The thing is, DC is coming off of years of producing comics like this series that seems to have totally baffled a huge fan of their characters in its lack of delivery on basic storytelling promises -- to be about something, to answer a question initially asked in a way that satisfies. I'd suggest this largely unstated assurance that things will change in the content is a key thing to keep in mind as the DC Comics PR assault reigns over the next five days.
 
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Go, Look: Rian Hughes' Burlesque Illustrations

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Collective Memory: Baltimore Comic-Con 2011

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

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

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Go, Look: Great Jack Kirby Single Page

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Signe Wilkinson is ending Family Tree, a well-liked comic strip that never really caught fire. She did it for three-and-a-half years. Family Tree recently lost its place in the Philadelphia market where Wilkinson is a well-known and award-winning editorial cartoonist.

image* the author Philip Nel says that if you give him a good title for his forthcoming book featuring Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, or something close to the title they end up using, he'll send you a nice copy of the book. (That's not the cover or anything, I just like that image.)

* this Grendel image took me back, although it feels like 40 years ago instead of 26.

* go to Book Club with Evan Dorkin.

* you should download and listen to Charles Brownstein's history of comics censorship.

* Johanna Draper Carlson reviews the sixth volume of Bakuman. Matt Seneca digs into Zegas #1. Rob Clough dissects Too Small To Fail. Tucker Stone reflects on SF #1.

* not comics: Noah Van Sciver is selling framed art to make rent.

* a Roman Muradov comic for John Martz.

* Ben Morse picks his favorites of November 2011's (mostly) mainstream comic book covers.

* Ken Parille argues that people miss out on the black humor and philosophical underpinnings in Steve Ditko's non-Marvel '60s work. I think that's an intriguing piece, although I doubt anyone past the generation of kids that were actually consuming Ditko's superhero comics ever asked out loud why he couldn't do some more books in that vein. For most he's simply a non-entity.

* Greg Rucka talks about the limits of gritty.

* finally, a not-comics item from the "things that may only interest me" department: if I'm reading the Facebook posts correctly, Scott Morse and Zander Cannon were married on the same day 10 years ago yesterday (not to each other).

 
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Happy 32nd Birthday, Francis Manapul!

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August 25, 2011


Washington Post: Syrian Forces Broke Ali Ferzat's Hands

There's a picture here, and it upset the hell out of me, so fair warning. This apparently happened early this morning when he was picked up and then later dumped to be found by passers-by. A publisher and a gallery owner in addition to being one of the most renowned cartoonists in his region of the world, Ferzat has been fighting against the limits of Syrian free speech and expression for decades, and has been actively cartooning and speaking against the government crackdown against protesters since March of this year.

According to that report, this was done specifically because he drew something "against his masters." He's a 60-year-old man.

There's a Facebook page here in support of the cartoonist by making support into an event; there's a regular Facebook page here.

I hope there's something more to the story, as everything about the story right now is pretty much horrible, and will report any developments to the story or the cartoonist on the site.

Update: We're starting to see a second wave of analysis and update-type stories hit the Internet. The one slightly good thing so far is that in pictures like the one here, I can't tell if Ferzat's hands are actually broken -- there's enough swelling for it, yet one imagines they would be wrapped differently -- or if they're just beat to shit.
 
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Floating World Announces Benefit Sale + Art Show To Benefit Sparkplug Publisher Dylan Williams

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This seems like a very good thing. As the post relates, these are not things that Williams would ever ask anyone to do, but the ailing publisher is so well-liked that I would imagine something was inevitable.
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* The Small Press Expo has announced a Graphic Novels Gift Program and has named its first recipient. The linked-to piece at Comic Riffs shows the bookplate designed by artist and cartoonist Lilli Carré. The books will be presented September 6, a few days before the 2011 show.

* here's a report on the annual Singapore Toy Game And Comic Convention, run last weekend for a second year (of the show's four years in existence) by Reed Exhibitions' ReedPOP arm. The article is quite straight-forward in describing more expensive exhibition costs and a perceived dimming of star wattage on comics guests, although the crowds themselves were up. I seem to remember the 2010 edition taking place much later in the year, too, for whatever that's worth.

* various con reports and anecdotal evidence suggest an extremely positive vibe emanating from last weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con, particularly for veteran con-attending professionals. Cited most frequently were the size and enthusiasm of the crowds, particularly given the comics-only focus of the show.

* this is likely only of non-groan-inducing interest to me, but we're getting to that point of the year where several of the standard hotels used for the 2012 Comic-Con International in San Diego are starting to show up on search engines, albeit with rooms in the $300-$600 a night range. This includes the Kimpton and Starwood offerings.

* I will never in my life fully understand the costuming impulse, including and maybe specifically its massive surge in popularity. It was less than ten years ago that I strained to find anyone at all in costume for my amused, non-comics reading brother to see at a big comics show.

* finally, Toronto's FanExpo is the big show of this weekend, and gets underway late afternoon today.
 
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Go, Look: It Would Have Been So Easy

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Multiple Reports: Cartoonist Ali Ferzat Beaten By Syrian Forces

Passersby found a bleeding Ali Ferzat on Airport Road in Damascus early this morning. The story to hit international wires is that the outspoken cartoonist and well-known Syrian cultural figure was picked up by masked men believed by those inside Syria to be members of the regime's security forces, beaten, and left on the road where he was discovered by others.

Ferzat, the former satirical magazine publisher now a gallery owner in central Damascus, has long worked at the outer edges of speech and expression as allowed in Syria. He began drawing the recent and still-ongoing uprising last March, and has appeared on television where he was severely critical of the current regime and its crackdown on protesters.

What happened to the cartoonist, whose international reputation is probably at its most intense in the region, where he is a much-admired cartoonist in several countries, is being interpreted as a sign that the regime is now working against artists that publicly advocate against the regime even if their newsworthiness might lead to bad publicity.

Ferzat is 60 years old.
 
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Go, Look: Peanuts Clone Shrimpy, By Joe Harold

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If I Were In D.C., I'd Go To This

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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Samples Of Jack Davis' Bo Rearguard

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I'm going to hazard a guess and say the must-read, comics-related feature of the morning -- if you haven't devoured it already -- is critic Jog interviewing Alejandro Jodorowsky. It's not even all that long, but it's good.

image* this Sam Hiti-drawn, '60s-style Marvel painted panel featuring Nick Fury and Captain America sure is something.

* not comics: somehow reporting on the losses suffered by a company taking losses for inventory and various other costs of closing business just seems mean. I'm still worried about this hitting the reading culture in places that don't have bookstores, no matter if those same stores now closing killed everything else in the area first.

* that's a lot of anti-Aquaman haikus.

* boycott fever spreads.

* a first-timer's fresh look at Concrete.

* not comics: here's a profile of a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary about comics and their move to digital. I like that they're talking to Jim Davis and Kate Beaton, and the stills make it look like the people will be filmed attractively, which is always a good sign for a project like this one that there's some technical skill involved. Gary Tyrrell endorses it, which would seem to be another positive.

* Craig Fischer is among many to take up the call that books be purchased from Sparkplug at this time. I encourage everyone to consider it.

* he's kidding, but tell me "Lulu Phegley" doesn't sound exactly like the kind of strange name of the kind more than the expected number of cartoonists seem to have.

* finally, I really hate the Newsarama slideshow presentations, because no way am I going to go all the way through a cycle of pictures and writing for the sake of a single link given my limited workday right now, but this one looks like it might be fun for nostalgia's sake. The thing I think most depresses me about the "old" DC universe (which I guess goes back to 1985, right?) shuffling off the mortal coil is that there's no "Whatever Happened To Man Of Tomorrow?" for this cycle of stories.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Steve Conley!

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Happy 64th Birthday, MW Kaluta!

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August 24, 2011


This Isn't A Library: 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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

MAY111197 INFINITE KUNG FU GN $24.95
A potential star-maker for Kagan McLeod: a massive, energetically-told kung fu fable of the kind you'd think would have been done a bunch of times in comics but have a hard time of thinking of a similar work. Nicely-presented support site here.

JUN110035 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #3 DAVE GIBBONS CVR $7.99
JUN110036 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #3 PAUL CHADWICK CVR $7.99
I hope this anthology series continues to get over because serial features and short stories seem perfectly suited to artists like Gibbons and Chadwick in a marketable way that mini-series and one-off complete books maybe make less sense now. That's basically a hunch on my part, I couldn't prove it on a chalkboard.

imageMAY111048 BIG QUESTIONS S&N HC (MR) $69.95
Book of the week. I think it was Sean T. Collins that pointed out that this book is so big that it's not only Anders Nilsen's latest work but the first comics in there are Nilsen's first comics work. There's a not-signed and presumably not-numbered edition for around $45, I think.

MAR110064 BLACKJACKED & PISTOL WHIPPED CRIME DOES NOT PAY PRIMER $19.99
A best-of featuring the classic crime comics title, one of the most important series in history and one-time industry sensation? I'm dying to see this one. I've heard complaints from some people about the way Dark Horse has done some of their collections, so I think I'd pay attention to the art direction and production in general before walking it up to the cash register.

MAY111112 BOUNCER ONE ARMED GUNSLINGER HC (MR) $29.95
I didn't know what this was, but my Dad's favorite movie was Bad Day At Black Rock, so I went to look at Jog's listings and he tells me this is a Alejandro Jodorowsky/Francois Boucq from Humanoids. I can't imagine this not being worth at least a look if not an outright blind buy.

MAY111241 NAOKI URASAWA 20TH CENTURY BOYS GN VOL 16 $12.99
The best ongoing manga series with a new volume out this week.

APR111002 NOGOODNIKS HC (MR) $24.95
This is another title about which I know absolutely nothing, although the description of this Petits Livres work from Adrian Norvid makes it sound interesting.

JUN111419 IN THE STUDIO HC (SALE ED) $12.99
JUN111421 KIRBY KING OF THE COMICS HC (SALE ED) $12.99
Two of the most talked-about books about comics of recent vintage, offered for a low price. In The Studio is Todd Hignite's book visiting various artists on their home turf; the Kirby book is Mark Evanier's.

JUN111099 PIN-UP ART OF HUMORAMA GN (RES) (MR) $19.99
Alex Chun's books on various gag cartooning efforts are pretty perfectly conceived in terms of going deep into cartooning corners in which very few travel and then representing it in an easy-to-comprehend way for those of us that lack the drive to scramble after this stuff when it was much harder to access.

APR111037 DRAWING POWER COMPENDIUM OF CARTOON ADVERTISING SC (RES) $28.99
I've seen this book and been through it once; I don't have a sense of the quality of the text or the editorial precision involved, but the art is kind of jaw-dropping in terms of presenting images from various great cartoonists I've never seen before.

APR110386 ARCHIE AMERICANA HC VOL 01 THE 40S $24.99
This is a reprint into one volume of both successful 1990s-released volumes reprinting work from the various "Archie" stories of the 1940s, heavy on first appearances and character introductions.

JUN110503 MALINKY ROBOT COLL STORIES & OTHER BITS TP $16.99
A collection of short stories from the visually appealing Sonny Liew.

JUN110635 CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY #621 $2.99
JUN110670 FF #8 $2.99
These are the two superhero comics I'd consider buying this week. It's funny to be at the point in one's life where when as a kid you remember the eternity between monthly issues and today you look up and there's already an eighth issue of a title you thought was on #2 or #3.

FEB111067 MILTON CANIFF MALE CALL HC $39.99
I'm not sure where this Hermes Press stands in terms of this material (Milton Caniff's sexy strip for servicemen) being collected before now, but everything Caniff is worth a look and this is the very definition of a book I'd pick up and look over in a store.

JAN111193 COMICS JOURNAL #301 (MR) $30.00
Our long national nightmare is over. It's a strong issue, too, perfectly suited to the new format, which I will remind you as a public service is perfectly suited to the back of most toilets. The Tim Kreider essay on Cerebus is a keeper, as is the Crumb interview and the Jim Woodring sketchbook section.

APR111032 ESPERANZA LOVE & ROCKETS BOOK SC (MR) $18.99
The latest in the surprisingly near-perfect softcover reprinting of the Love & Rockets stories, this one focusing on Hopey's career change, Angel becoming friends with Maggie and first Maggie, then Ray D., getting mixed with Vivian the Frogmouth. These read much more powerfully in a few sittings than in their serial form -- it's much easier to track supporting characters like Reno, for one thing -- and the highlights are absolute series highlights. One of the stories when it was first published made me leave an answering machine message talking about a plot development as if they were real people.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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Go, Bookmark: The Near-Sighted Monkey

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thanks, Danny Ceballos
 
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Go, Read: James Sturm On Placing Work At The New Yorker

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I don't know that it's a brand-new feature article idea, but James Sturm's piece at Slate about trying to place work in The New Yorker has a genial, straight-forward quality and is well worth a coffee-break read. The bonus is that Sturm shares his cartoons, and they're good enough it really does drive you to wonder what gets in and what doesn't and why. Plus: Sam Gross sits on a couch and holds court.
 
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Go, Look: Russell Brockbank

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Go, Look: The Little People

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Go, Look: Dick Dillin's JLA/JSA Splash Pages

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there's something affecting about the way these are staged
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Rob Tornoe has another of his lengthy features up at Editor & Publisher, this time on staff cartoonists.

image* David Brothers pummels Grant Morrison. Sean Collins pointed out here that this basic Grant Morrison primer is pretty good, and indeed it is. I do miss the inclusion of his very good early works St. Swithin's Day and New Adventures Of Hitler if you're going to list over a dozen Morrison works -- I can't remember if Marvel Boy made the list or not, either.

* this picture of Usagi Yojimbo as Prince Valiant is fairly adorable.

* Bully reacts to yesterday's East Coast earthquake as only Bully can manage. Daryl Cagle rounds up initial editorial cartoon reaction. Mike Sterling confesses to the earthquake's cause.

* not comics: a painting of Warren Ellis.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco notes that Marvel has many more female creators working on November comics than DC does.

* Don MacPherson reviews Spontaneous #1-2. Gary Tyrrell doesn't really review as much as strongly recommends Zahra's Paradise. Sean Collins would like you to look at a scary webcomic. There's a sound element involved, so be careful with your settings.

* Theo Ellsworth muses on the loss of a studio.

* finally, here's Jog's top ten favorite comics list.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Scott Lobdell!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Keith Knight!

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August 23, 2011


Please Consider Helping Sparkplug's Dylan Williams

imageCartoonist and Sparkplug Comics Publisher Dylan Williams is facing serious health consequences due to a recent cancer diagnosis. The private Williams has apparently given the critic and writer Rob Clough the okay to ask on his behalf that comics fans out there consider supporting Sparkplug at this time by buying books from the company. This site wholeheartedly endorses this idea.

Clough provides a list of recommended books, and just giving the Sparkplug shop the once-over it's clear that there are at least a dozen to two dozen books on there that would be of interest to anyone with the slightest appetite for art comics: Flesh and Bone, Lemon Styles (on my top books of 2010 list), Orchid, The Heavy Hand, Inkweed, Asthma, Whirlwind Wonderland, Service Industry, Sleeper Car and The Hot Breath Of War all spring to mind. I'm sure I'm missing several great books, even personal favorites.

I can't imagine any better way to satisfy your own consumptive urges and lend a hand, so I hope you'll join me in considering a purchase over the next couple of days. There's a ton of material available, and the Sparkplug shop gives a pretty clear indication of what each book will be like. If you still feel like you'd be ordering blind, and that's stopping you, in my opinion the Victorian comics anthology Orchid and the dream-like, comics-as-you've-never-seen-them Asthma are significant books in addition to being vastly enjoyable ones. But really you could take any buying strategy -- anthologies, stand-alone books, series, female cartoonists -- and apply it here.
 
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Go, Look: John Porcellino On Drawing A Page Of Fantastic Four

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* the first volume of Fantagraphics' long-awaited series of Pogo books, to publish the syndicated strips in their entirety, has gone to press. Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics co-publisher, told CR as to period between announcement and publication: "There were a number of reasons for the long delay on this book, including the difficulty of finding some of the tearsheets in complete and usable condition, some very extensive retouching by both our production department and Carolyn Kelly, and some roadblocks that are now receding in our rear view mirror. But it's at the printer, by God, and we expect the next 11 volumes to go far quicker and smoother." As someone that briefly edited Fantagraphics 1990s reprints of some of the Pogo material, I can certainly attest to general difficulties in locating reproducible copies of the strips, and I would imagine that company's increased resources and skill at putting out such volumes, along with Carolyn Kelly's involvement, made finding tear sheets possible but not automatic.

image* Sam Costello and Neal Von Flue will debut their folk-ballad adaptation collection Labor And Love at SPX next month.

* Ed Brubaker will be writing a new, as-yet-unannounced new project coming out next year, tied into the spin-off issue from the recently-announced mini-continuation from the Marvel event series Fear Itself he's written for November publication.

* the first issue of the limited-edition Zegas #1 is now available on-line.

* this is only publishing news in the "news to me" sense, but Kim Thompson wrote in to inform CR readers that eight volumes of the Jean Tabary-drawn Iznogoud series in English are available through Amazon.com.

* Aron Nels Steinke has gone to Kickstarter for funding on his next comics project, Big Plans #5.

* speaking of Fantagraphics (we were up top, anyway), that's a great-looking cover.

* finally, I'm not certain that I've mentioned that Faith Erin Hicks' Friends With Boys will be serialized on-line by publisher First Second before its early 2012 print release. While there are models for Internet publishing that seem to enjoy greater buzz right now, previewing a work to drive people to a then-published print collection still holds a lot of power and effectiveness.

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Bernhard-Viktor von Bülow, 1923-2011

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Bernhard-Viktor "Vikko" von Bülow, the popular cartoonist and illustrator turned filmmaker, actor and prose author, better known to his fans as "Loriot," died on August 22 from complications due to old age. He was 87 years old.

The son of a Brandenburg police officer and a scion of a prominent German family, Von Bülow graduated college and became an officer in the German army during World War 2. He attended the Academy of Art in Hamburg after the war, and in the 1950s found work as a cartoonist. His clients included Die Strasse and Stern. It was during that initial period that he assumed the nom de plume for which he was best known, "Loriot." (This was French for "oriole," the bird on the artist's family crest.) His long-running features at Stern were "Wahre Geschichten Erlogen von Loriot" and "Reinhold des Nashorn.

Loriot moved into television comedy in the 1960s with the show Cartoon. He later had two shows bearing his pen name, in the late 1970s and then again some twenty years later. He was the writer and director and star of the well-received movies Oedipussi and Pappa ante Portas. According to wire reports, both his cartoon collections and his prose books sold in the seven-figure range.

In 1998 the artist received a Great Cross Of Merit With Star award for his body of work. He made appearances on media-generated lists of favorite Germans. Von Bülow spent many of his older years out of the public eye at his home on Lake Starnberg in Bavaria.

A private burial is planned.

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Go, Look: Richard Sala's Kramer's Ergot Vol. 7 Panels

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To Sue Your Enemies And See Them Driven Before You

imageHollywood Reporter makes a slightly bigger deal than is probably necessary about a Stan Lee Media, Inc. lawsuit about the transfer of the Conan properties. It's a fun read, though.

Basically, all this white dwarf version of SLMI -- now a completely different entity from the individual Stan Lee, and in fact they're contentious -- has going for itself is the assignation of various media properties during its brief and troubled life back during the heady days of Internet Fever 1.0. The current board believes this includes the assignations Lee made at company's near-start, which they further think that because of the nature of the settlement Lee eventually forged with Marvel that this includes various Marvel characters he co-created -- that in coming to terms with Lee Marvel admitted Lee had some claim to ownership that made such a settlement possible, only Lee couldn't settle because SLMI owned those rights. It sounds like a con-man movie plot, but there you go. SLMI vs. Stan Lee/Marvel is where most of the heat has been with SLMI in recent years, and I think after being soundly defeated once, the SLMI claims against Marvel are going to make another cycle through the court.

This is a bit different. The acquisition of the Conan rights was a separate, pretty straight-forward (as I recall, anyway) deal, so the focus of this case will likely be on how the rights were ceded back to the person directing them now, and whether or not this was a permissible move according to where the company was in bankruptcy proceedings or who was doing the transferring at the time it was done.

I would imagine this is a combination PR move and legal maneuver designed to buttress similar claims in other cases. The timing of the suit and the fact that the new Conan film made like $11.37 in domestic box office would seem to indicate this. Then again, with SLMI, who knows?
 
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Go, Look: Bong Ring Ding

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Go, Look: Beautiful PLOP! Cover Gallery

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Go, Look: Riot #6

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a heads up to any and all US comics folk working in Canada to maybe call their accountant.

* comics is a mean business.

image* here's a nice photo set from a show featuring work by Colin Panetta, Hans Rickheit and Mark Velard.

* this interview with Grant Morrison in Rolling Stone is short enough for a coffee-break read. I imagine people will focus on the critical jabs (Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Chris Ware, The Comics Journal) or the statement that comics is in a death spiral, but the thing that struck me was that he wasn't asked to come on board the Action Comics title until March. Do we take that to mean that DC started planning books in October and didn't approach their #1 writer until five months later? I remain baffled by significant elements of that whole story.

* watch this video or cartoonist Mark Tatulli will club you to death with his giant arms.

* this interview with Lee Lorenz at The Comics Journal is as good as the new on-line iteration of the publication gets, although you'll a dozen coffee breaks to get it all in.

* someone needs to do a Galactus art show.

* Craig Yoe wishes George Herriman a happy birthday.

* congratulations to Joe Wos and the Toonseum on news that they'll be adding a lot more space. Although maybe it's not all paid for yet.

* here's what I think is Lewis Trondheim's offering to the Reprodukt anniversary show.

* not comics: I always like the reports from when Chris Butcher goes to Japan.

* in defense of cruder comics.

* Chris Schweizer shows off some sketches and design work he's doing in advance of his next book. Andi Watson is apparently so hardcore he does thumbnails for his thumbnails.

* I laughed, I cried.

* finally, this is a pretty fun little guessing game. I didn't get them all.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Chris Bachalo!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Terry Austin!

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August 22, 2011


Jean Tabary, 1930-2011

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Jean Tabary, the co-creator of the Iznogoud series and a frequent collaborator of iconic French comics writer Rene Goscinny, died on August 18. He was 81 years old.

Tabary was born one of nine children in Stockholm in 1930. His father was a professional musician. After a brief period as a young adult working various jobs, he made his first sale to Vaillant in 1956. The Richard et Charlie series ran for nearly eight years and was later collected by Tabary himself.

imageIt was only a few years into his long career that Tabary created two of his longer-lasting properties. Totoche, launched in 1959, was a youth-focused strip that ran in its own feature for years, was given its own monthly magazine for a period, and even spawned a popular spin-off featuring two supporting characters. A year earlier, Tabary created the first iteration of an intermittent feature called Grabadu et Gabalioutchou, a gag-oriented comic employing different formats.

In 1962, Tabary began a fruitful collaboration with writer Rene Goscinny. A secondary character in their first collaborative comic (Les aventures du Calife Haroun el Poussah) soon dominated the feature and became a runaway hit, eventually appearing in Pilote. The strip was renamed after the character: Iznogoud, the scheming Grand Vizier, and plots were constructed around the character's desire to overthrow the ruler he served and take his place. Tabary's energetic cartooning proved a lovely, appropriate match for Goscinny's clever wordplay. When Goscinny died in 1977, Tabary took over the feature and began to focus on longer stories more suited to publication in album form. The would eventually sell over 10 million books, and spawned a 1990s cartoon version and a 2005 live-action film.

The success of Iznogoud gave Tabary the resources necessary to start his own publishing house after Goscinny's passing. It was initially called Seguiniere and later changed it name to Editions Tabary. Tabary published two monthly magazines (Les Vacheries de Corinne a Jeannot and Les Recres de Totoche), anchoring those efforts with new versions of past, successful works. He also collected his older work into volumes with varying degrees of success.

There were 27 albums made featuring Iznogoud almost exactly half the work of Tabary providing writing and drawing and emerging from his own publishing house. The last book, La faute de l'ancetre, came out in 2004. The artist suffered what one obituary described as "a cardiovascular accident" in that year.

Jean Tabary is survived by two sons and a daughter and was preceded in death by his wife in 2005.

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Go, Look: The World Of The Wizard King

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Go, Interact: The Nisoor Square Shootings

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Industry Shudders On Word Of Atomic Comics Chain Closure

Twitter, Facebook and texting have driven a story about the apparent and sudden closure of the four-store Atomic Comics chain, a major Diamond account and one of a dozen or so Face Of Comics retailers in the entire North American Direct Market of hobby shops and comic stores.

There were four stores operating in the greater Phoenix area: Phoenix itself, Mesa, Chandler and Paradise Valley. The first location opened in 1988. The stores were known for their bright, open, customer- and "civilian"-friendly feel -- they seemed like model strip-mall stores -- and for their ability to pull in major comic book creators for various signings and special events. My memory is that they were largely mainstream comics-focused stores, although that could be a faulty recollection and is based solely on intermittent visits to two of their locations.

I was in Phoenix about a year ago and spoke at length with one of the area's retailers about the Phoenix market in general. While he remained sunny about its long-term positives, I've never talked to anyone in comics so absolutely dead certain that the economic turmoil of the last three years had specifically hit at the heart of his region's comics business.

According to his general theory, Phoenix had long ago lost its traditional industries and the infrastructure (local banks, support businesses) that had developed with them, had in more recent years seen its tech business dry up or lost to states with a greater proclivity towards working government/private sector partnerships, and starting in the second half of the 2000s began to quietly shed a lot of excess retail -- all of them together the kinds of places that offered jobs that employed the kind of people that would then tend to have extra money on a regular basis to spend on comics, toys and games. I don't know how much of that is true, or how much any of it would directly apply if at all to Atomic Comics, but if you partner a broad customer burn-off with more focused declines in comics readership one would suspect that a series of substantial, heavy-inventory stores would have greater problems negotiating the current landscape, not fewer ones.

The timing of the closure is also intriguing because of DC's forthcoming relaunch and what I'm assuming was to be the chain's participation in that event. It would be more common in a conventional-wisdom sense for a retailer to wait out a potential current fallow period to get to that heavily-promoted event cycle before making a decision to shut down. Ditto that there are four stores that are to close all at once rather than a reduction in locations followed by a single-store closure.

A number of creators with connections to the chain, such as cartoonist and author James Owen, are today expressing their best wishes to those feeling the impact of the closure.

I'll try to jump back on here when there's official confirmation, which I assume will come today. My sympathies to the region's comics readers and to the employees, managers and owner Mike Malve.

Update: Mike Malve sent out a letter today; Robot 6 is running the text in full. It's pretty heartbreaking. He cites the economy, but also as a kind of momentum-breaking event the 2006 accident where someone drove into the Mesa location. Malve mentions that once the routine of many of those that used to go to the Mesa store was broken, they never came back, a reminder of the fragility inherent in an industry largely devoted to high-volume, recurring sales to a hardcore customer base.
 
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Go, Look: One Last Girls From Esquire Gallery

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Go, Look: Famous Last Words

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* if I jumped the gun to say that TCAF exhibitor applications were being accepted the first time I did so and this inconvenienced you, I apologize. They're certainly accepting them now. That's a great show and a positive one for most exhibitors to whom I spoke.

image* here's another pair of intriguing top ten lists: one from the cartoonist, free speech advocate and longtime industry fixture Larry Marder, another from the young critic Sean Witzke.

* Sean Phillips roughs a cover.

* Gili Warsett talks to Vanessa Davis.

* Christopher Irving examines the new P*S Magazine compilation book; Josh Kopin reaches into the longbox for a peek at Johnny Double; Rob Clough gets all poetic; Sean Gaffney motors back to Riverdale for The Best Of Archie Comics.

* I'm working on a theory that any comic with a recipe in it is 10 percent better than it would be without the recipe.

* Martin Wisse makes fun of that super-horrible Atlantic list of non-fiction comics "masterpieces" from several days back. It's galling that an author can admit to not including something for publication because they were afraid of Internet reprisals and not be automatically fired and/or laughed out of town. For the record, I've never received a single piece of e-mail like that and this site covers Sacco every chance it gets -- not that even 25 e-mails a day should stop anyone.

* a call for artists from a Japan 2011 earthquake-related relief project seems like the kind of thing that everyone knows about days and weeks and months before I hear word, but in case you haven't read anything about it yet, here you go.

* the writer and reviewer Chris Mautner recommends an old Gargoyle mini-series. That's a minor Marvel character, one of whose hooks is that he's a senior citizen and not all fighty like the young'uns. I like Gargoyle more now looking at him through the rear view window than I did when I was a kid.

* Andrew Weiss would like to suggest that Jack Kirby's Fourth World-era character Flippa Dippa was inspired by Bruce Jay Friedman's play Scuba Duba. This theory not only makes sense, it is the only entry in the area of Flippa Dippa studies of which I'm aware. (via Mike Sterling)

* one day someone's going to post an article like this that's totally a joke and I'll have linked to it as if it's not.

* finally, it's always a good day on the Comics Internet when Barry and Leon from Secret Acres post. Ditto when Frank Santoro posts in the middle of a road trip.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Will Shetterly!

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Happy 31st Birthday, James McShane!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Jimmie Robinson!

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Happy 47th Birthday, DG Chichester!

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August 21, 2011


CR Sunday Interview: Keith Knight

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this interview has been archived
 
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Your 2011 Graphic Story Category At The Hugos Winner

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Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
 
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Your 2011 Harvey Award Winners

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The Harvey Awards were given out last night during a ceremony held in conjunction with Baltimore's Baltimore Comic-Con. Multiple winners were Darwyn Cooke, Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer: Artist's Edition, Roger Langridge and Jaime Hernandez (albeit one for a book about the cartoonist; one for the book on which he works).

Last Night's winners are in bold.

BEST LETTERER
* Scott Brown, Box 13 (http://www.comixology.com and Red 5 Comics)
* Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit (IDW)
* Dustin Harbin, Casanova (Icon Comics)
* Troy Peteri, Witchblade, (Top Cow)
* Robbie Robbins, Locke & Key: Keys To The Kingdom #1 (IDW)
* John Workman, Thor (Marvel Comics)

BEST COLORIST
* Veronica Gandini, Mice Templar Volume Two (Image Comics)
* Laura Martin, The Stand (Marvel Comics)
* Ed Ryzowski, Gutters (http://www.the-gutters.com)
* Dave Stewart, BPRD (Dark Horse Comics)
* Jose Villarrubia, Cuba: My Revolution (Vertigo/DC Comics)

BEST SYNDICATED STRIP OR PANEL
* Cul De Sac, Richard Thompson (Universal Press Syndicate)
* Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau (Universal Press Syndicate)
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell (King Features Syndicate)
* Non Sequitur, Wiley Miller (Universal Press Syndicate)
* Tom The Dancing Bug, Ruben Bolling (Universal Press Syndicate)

BEST ONLINE COMICS WORK
* Guns Of Shadow Valley, David Wachter and James Andrew Clark
* Gutters, Ed Ryzoski, Ryan Sohmer, and Rich Young
* Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton
* La Morte Sisters, created Tony Trov, Johnny Zito and Christine Larsen
* PVP, Scott Kurtz

BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL
* AX: Alternative Manga, edited by Sean Michael Wilson and Mitsuhiro Asakawa (Top Shelf)
* Blacksad, Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse Comics)
* It Was The War Of The Trenches, Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)
* The Killer: Modus Vivendi, Matz and Luc Jacamon (Archaia Entertainment)
* Torpedo Volume Two, Jordi Bernet (IDW)

BEST INKER
* Damian Couceiro, Hawks Of Outremer (BOOM! Studios)
* Steve Ellis, Box 13 (http://www.comixology.com & Red 5 Comics)
* Gabriel Hardman, Agents Of Atlas (Marvel Comics)
* Mark Morales, Thor (Marvel Comics)
* Sal Regla, Magdalena (Top Cow)

BEST NEW SERIES
* American Vampire, Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquerque (Vertigo/DC Comics)
* Echoes, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rashan Ekedal (Top Cow)
* Gutters, Ed Ryzoski, Ryan Sohmer, and Rich Young
* Kill Shakespeare, Andy Belanger, Anthony Del Col, and Conor McCreery (IDW)
* Sixth Gun, Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt (Oni Press)
* Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee (Marvel Comics)

MOST PROMISING NEW TALENT
* Barry Deutsch, Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (Amulet Books)
* Comfort Love and Adam Withers, Rainbow In The Dark (RainbowintheDarkComic.com)
* Chris Samnee, Thor: The Mighty Avenger (Marvel Comics)
* Scott Snyder, American Vampire (Vertigo/DC Comics)
* Nick Spencer, Morning Glories (Image Comics)

SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS
* Matt Groening and various contributors. Edited by Bill Morrison, The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis (Abrams ComicArts)
* Roger Landridge, The Muppet Show (BOOM! Studios)
* Ryan Sohmer, Gutters (http://www.the-gutters.com)
* Shannon Wheeler, I Thought You Would Be Funnier (BOOM! Studios)
* Thom Zahler, Love And Capes (IDW)

BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC PUBLICATION FOR YOUNGER READERS
* Amulet Volume Three: The Cloud Searcher, Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix)
* Jingle Belle, Paul Dini and Stephanie Gladden (Top Cow)
* Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3856 Story Possibilities, Jason Shiga (Amulet Books)
* Reading With Pictures, Josh Elder, Executive Editor (Reading With Pictures)
* Smile, Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)
* Tiny Titans, Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani (DC Comics)

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED
* Art In Time, edited Dan Nadel (Abrams ComicArts)
* Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites, Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Dark Horse Comics)
* Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer: Artist's Edition, designed by Randall Dahlk & edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
* The Marvelous Land Of Oz, Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel Comics)
* Tumor, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Noel Tuazon (Archaia)

BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Blab World #1, Monte Beauchamp and Bill North (Last Gasp)
* CBGB, edited by Ian Brill (BOOM! Studios)
* Popgun #4, edited by D.J. Kirkbride, Anthony Wu and Adam P. Knave (Image Comics)
* Reading With Pictures, Josh Elder, Executive Editor (Reading With Pictures)
* Strange Tales Volume Two #1, edited by Jody LeHeup (Marvel Comics)
* Uniques Tales, edited by Comfort Love and Adam Withers

BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT
* Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer: Artist's Edition, designed by Randall Dahlk & edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
* The Darkness, Garth Ennis, Marc Silvestri and Batt (Image Comics)
* Jet Scott, Jerry Robinson and Sheldon Stark (Dark Horse Comics)
* Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies And Color Sundays, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW)
* Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, Neal Adams and Dennis O'Neil (DC Comics)

BEST COVER ARTIST
* Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit (IDW)
* Jenny Frison, Angel (IDW)
* Marcos Martin, Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel Comics)
* Mike Mignola, Hellboy (Dark Horse Comics)
* Frank Quitely, Batman And Robin (DC Comics)

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION
* 75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Myth-Making, Paul Levitz (Taschen Books)
* The Art Of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets Of Life And Death, Todd Hignite (Abrams ComicArts)
* Jerry Robinson: Ambassador Of Comics, N. C. Christopher Couch (Abrams ComicArts)
* Oddly Compelling Art Of Denis Kitchen, Denis Kitchen and Charles Brownstein, edited by John Lind and Diana Schutz (Dark Horse Books)
* Will Eisner: Portrait Of A Sequential Artist, Andrew D. Cooke, director, Jon B. Cooke & Kris Schackman, producers (Montilla Pictures)

SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION
* Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer: Artist's Edition, designed by Randall Dahlk & edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
* Oddly Compelling Art Of Denis Kitchen, Denis Kitchen and Charles Brownstein, edited by John Lind and Diana Schutz (Dark Horse Books)
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit, Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
* Shazam! The Golden Age Of The World's Mightiest Mortal, Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear (Abrams ComicArts)
* Wednesday Comics Hardcover Edition, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC Comics)

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- ORIGINAL
* Duncan, The Wonder Dog, Adam Hines (AdHouse Books)
* Market Day, James Sturm (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Scott Pilgrim Volume Six: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press)
* Wilson, Dan Clowes (Drawn and Quarterly)
* X'ed Out, Charles Burns (Pantheon)

BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES
* Chew, John Layman and Rob Guillory (Image Comics)
* Daytripper, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (Vertigo/DC Comics)
* Echo, Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
* Fantastic Four, Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham (Marvel Comics)
* Locke & Key: Keys To The Kingdom #1, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez (IDW)
* Love And Rockets: Volume Three, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

BEST WRITER
* Cullen Bunn, Sixth Gun (Oni Press)
* Joshua Hale Fialkov, Echoes (Top Cow)
* Roger Langridge, Thor: The Mighty Avenger (Marvel Comics)
* Ryan Sohmer, Gutters (http://www.the-gutters.com)
* Mark Waid, Irredeemable (BOOM! Studios)

BEST ARTIST
* Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit (IDW)
* Duncan Fegredo, Hellboy (Dark Horse Comics)
* Dean Haspiel, Cuba: My Revolution (Vertigo/DC Comics)
* Brian Hurtt, Sixth Gun (Oni Press)
* Chris Samnee, Thor: The Mighty Avenger (Marvel Comics)

BEST CARTOONIST
* Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit (IDW)
* Jaime Hernandez, Love And Rockets (Fantagraphics)
* Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth (Vertigo/DC Comics)
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (Oni Press)
* Jeff Smith, RASL (Cartoon Books)

BEST SINGLE ISSUE or STORY
* ACME Novelty Library #20: LINT, Chris Ware (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Echoes #1, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rashan Ekedal (Top Cow)
* Daytripper, Fabio Moon and Gabiel Ba (Vertigo/DC Comics)
* Locke & Key: Keys To The Kingdom #1, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez (IDW)
* Love And Rockets: New Stories Volume Three, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Popgun #4, edited by D.J. Kirkbride, Anthony Wu and Adam P. Knave (Image Comics)
* Wilson, Daniel Clowes (Drawn and Quarterly)

Congratulations to all winners and nominees.
 
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Go, Look: Tom Sutton Art Over Wally Wood Layouts

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posted 8:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Ronald Searle Birthday Cards From Pixar Artists

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Go, Look: Comics Canonization

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Lee Elias Drew The Strangest-Looking Heads

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Go, Look: Oxytocingrey

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

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

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Marie Severin!

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FFF Results Post #263 -- Jocks

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Notable Athletes From Comics." This is how they responded.

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Peppermint Patty
2. Jimmy Lebeuf
3. Ted Grant
4. B.D.
5. Ben Grimm

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Jules (Deathwish) Folquet
2. Jon Sable
3. Peco Hoshino
4. Angel Of Tarzana
5. Roy Race

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1) Ben Grimm (Football)
2) Rocky Davis (Wrestling)
3) Hanamichi Sakuragi (Basketball)
4) Lucy Van Pelt (Baseball, Football)
5) Flash Gordon (Polo)

*****

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M. Emery

1. Billy Dane -- Billy's Boots
2. Artie Gruber -- Harlem Heroes
3. Sergio -- Love & Rockets
4. Polly Jane -- The Plain Janes
5. Johnny Cougar -- Tiger

*****

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Bob Temuka

* Kenny Lampton (Look Out For Lefty in Action)
* Storm! (Storm in Tornado)
* John 'Giant' Clay (Harlem Heroes in 2000ad)
* Billy Dane (Billy's Boots in Tiger)
* Matt Tallon (Mean Arena in 2000ad)

*****

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Michael May

1. Walter Langkowski
2. Charlie Brown
3. Phil Grayfield
4. Lawrence "Crusher" Crock
5. Flash Gordon

*****

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Christopher Brown

1) Wildcat
2) Charlie Brown
3) Northstar
4) Rena Titanon
5) B.D.

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. "touchdown king" Ben Grimm (Fantastic Four)
2. supersurf competitor Chopper (Judge Dredd)
3. star pitcher Herbie Satten (House of Fear)
4. hookball centre forward Largo Brillo (Tozo, the Public Servant)
5. professional wrestler Crusher Hogan (Amazing Fantasy)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. NFL SuperPro (yeah, like I was going to put someone else in the #1 position)
2. Tank MacNamera
3. Speed Racer
4. Joe Palooka
5. Charlie Brown

*****

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Nat Gertler

1. Flash Thompson
2. Phil Grayfield (NFL Superpro)
3. Super Boxer Max Turner
4. Muhammed Ali
5. Herbie Satten, who gave his all for the game in EC's "Foul Play"

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Peppermint Patty
2. Sis Boom Bah
3. Mile-a-Minute Jones
4. Joe Palooka
5. Ozark Ike

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. B.D.
2. Matt Tallon
3. Bad Jack Keller
4. Conrad King
5. Charlie Brown

*****

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Joe Schwind

* Stan Musial
* Merton of the Movement
* Alex Wickham
* Tom Brown
* Herbie Popnecker

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Steve Lombard (Football)
* The Flash (Long distance runner)
* Kraven (Hunter)
* Popeye (Boxer)
* Zonker Harris (Streaker)

*****

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Tony Collett

1. Flash Thompson
2. Ronnie Raymond
3. Joe Palooka
4. Jefferson Pierce
5. NFL Superpro

*****

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Alan David Doane

1. Big Moose
2. Flash Thompson
3. Steve Lombard
4. Charlie Brown
5. Joe Shlabotnik

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

* Booster Gold (Michael Jon Carter)
* Lawrence "Crusher" Crock (The Sportsman)
* Herbie Satten ("Foul Play", The Crypt of Terror)
* Phil Grayfield aka Superpro
* Walter Langkowski (Sasquatch)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Ben Grimm
2. B.D.
3. Guy Gardner
4. Rokk Krinn
5. Charlie Brown

*****

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Des Devlin

1. Cerebus (Five Bar Gate)
2. Superman (red sun boxing)
3. Hobbes (Calvinball)
4. The Masked Marvel (wrist-wrestling)
5. An Offensive Nibling (43-Man Squamish)

*****

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Shannon Smith

* Flash Gordon
* Rocky Davis
* Kickers Inc.
* Jack Murdock
* Mr. Terrific

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Northstar (Skier)
2. Wildcat (Boxer)
3. Moose (Football)
4. The Grizzly (Pro-Wrestler)
5. NFL Super Pro (Football)

*****

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John Vest

1. Ben Grimm
2. Flash Thompson
3. Battlin' Jack Murdock
4. Vicki Glori
5. B. D.

*****

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Justin J. Major

* Ted Grant, Undisputed Heavyweight Champion -- Sensation Comics
* Rokk Krinn, Magnoball Cosmic Games Champion -- Adventure Comics
* Victor Stone, Track and Field -- Teen Titans
* Tiger Mask, Puroresu -- Weekly Shonen Magazine
* Raymond Quentin Smuckles, Great Outdoor Fight -- Achewood

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Crusher Crock (sportsmaster)
2. Phil Grayfield (nfl superpro)
3. Rokk Krinn (magnoball)
4. Steve Lombard (nfl qb)
5. Bugs Bunny (baseball, golf, high diving etc)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Rena Titanon
2. Battlin' Jack Murdock
3. Joe Shlabotnik
4. Diana from the Palomar stories
5. Joe Palooka

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Masked Marvel
2. Joe Palooka
3. Flash Gordon (polo)
4. B.D.
5. Benjamin J. Grimm

*****

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Chris Lorraine

1. Charlie Brown -- pitcher
2. Linus -- Second Base
3. Snoopy -- Shortstop
4. Lucy -- Right Field
5. Schroeder -- Catcher

*****

topic suggested by Stergios Botzakis, PhD; thanks, Dr. Botzakis

*****
*****
 
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Please Someone I Know Steal Me A Stan Lee Glass

At the Harveys, a thing of beauty.
 
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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


The Original Submissions To The Team Cul-De-Sac Project
via


Classic French-language Market Cartoonists


I Guess This Is A Studio Ghibli Little Nemo Pitch...? I Haven't Watched It Yet
via


A Look At One Of Mattias Adolfsson's Moleskines
via


Lynn Johnston Remembers Charles Schulz
via


Stephan Pastis Remembers Mark Tatulli
via


An Alison Bechdel Process Video Snippet
via


Frank Miller For The CBLDF
via
 
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August 20, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 13 to August 19, 2011:

1. Robert Crumb explains why he couldn't go to Sydney for a planned appearance over last weekend -- he and his wife had some fears for his safety after an incendiary newspaper article was published.

2. DC Comics begins its ramp-up to their line relaunch, apparently in the planning stage since about last October.

3. The one-time publisher of several alt-weekly style comics and illustrations New York Press retreats to an on-line only iteration.

Winner Of The Week
Your 2011 Ignatz nominees

Loser Of The Week
The Sunday Telegraph

Quote Of The Week
"Reading the new TCJ #301 interview with Michael Kupperman and Al Jaffee, it occurred to me that declining industries seem to counter-intuitively react by trying to cover more bases poorly, rather than provide better value for the things they're actually most capable of doing well. Kupperman made a remark about magazines and print media responding to digital culture by dumbing down their content to hopefully attract a larger audience.

"I think the same idea applies to specialty shops, bookstores, comics shops, etc. -- in a changing market where suddenly you're not the only available outlet for whatever it is you sell, the answer is not to sell MORE at dwindling profit (see Borders, et al), it's to get better at selling what you are best at selling, what you provide that another may not, or at least not as well as you.

"In terms of comics shops, carrying a complete line of books so that you never miss a sale is no longer the best business practice. Your bottom line is choked with maintaining an ever-expanding back stock of books, trades, hardcovers, deluxe hardcovers of the same books and trades. Likely as not you're providing a better browsing experience for a shopper that will later purchase that book on Amazon at 40% off cover." -- Dustin Harbin

*****

today's cover is from the great comic book series Four-Color

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

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

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Daniel Torres!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Sean Kleefeld!

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August 19, 2011


Friday Distraction: Darryl Cunningham's Chiropractic

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New York Press All The Way Gone From Print

imageManhattan Media has announced it's going to terminate the print iteration of the alt-weekly New York Press, merging it with a revived print publication with a completely different name intended to cover more community news. New York Press was founded in 1988 and since late 2002 has been through a number of ownership changes and directional shifts to the point that many would argue this is no way the same paper that was set to compete with the Village Voice in its first several years of existence and that its obituary is nearly a decade overdue. I'm not certain that this is even a trends story on its own -- for one thing, I have a hard time all-the-way buying the distinction made in the piece that there's some sort of quantifiable "alt-news" category that you can either embrace or shunt aside -- but this story gets mentioned here because of its link to comics. The publication was at one time a significant comics and also illustration client for a number of (I think mostly) New York-based or New York-connected cartoonists: Tony Millionaire, Gary Panter and Danny Hellman among them. There's probably something funny to be said about a newspaper losing or downplaying its connection to its cartoonists and then eventually falling out of favor, but there are too few outlets for comics work period for there to be any jokes at all.

a Robert Goodin illustration from a 2006 issue
 
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Go, Look: Giant Ben Towle Process Post

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Go, Read: Dustin Harbin On The Future Of The DM

The former longtime retail employee, former convention organizer and current working cartoonist and illustrator Dustin Harbin has a longish post here about what he sees as the future of Direct Market retailing. Both the post and the discussion that follows it are engrossing. I think that Shannon Smith's objection that there's a necessary distinction between what's inevitable in a marketplace and what's rushed-towards by fearful market players is something that needs to be worked through for a greater understanding of what's at stake.

imageI think there's an historical conflict in play as well, in that the appeal of the comic shop for many customers is that it's the place where all the comics exist that one knows about and probably at least slightly more comics than that. As a consumer, it seems to me there's a fine line between a store having a specialty sales aspect that distinguishes it from other stores -- like selling high quality Silver-Age comics, or doing a thriving quarter-bin business, or carrying small-press comics, or offering a rich supply of manga -- and from allowing that focus to make the store seem smaller than one's personal digital options. When you're a devoted alt-comics, small-press guy like Harbin it may be harder to understand why specialization isn't automatically a virtue, but to put it another way: when I used to visit Chicago and had time to visit one store, I hit Chicago Comics rather than Quimby's because more of my comics bases were covered at the former.

It could also be that the entire discussion hinges less on what comic stores offer aside from the traditional weekly comics experience, or that said experience no longer appeals in an paradigm-shifting sense, and more on that the major suppliers have poisoned the well on that experience in a startling variety of ways and don't have any easy way to back away from what they've done without causing further damage.
 
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Go, Read: An Autobiographical Maakies

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Nephew Of US Senator Accused Of Swiping Art

It's a pretty sadly familiar story at this point for a cartoonist with work on-line to have images crudely appropriated by someone else and have them re-purposed for a quick profit; in Ursula Vernon's case, this was slightly different in that the print-maker doing the appropriating 1) was offering certificates of authenticity, which is sort of begging for reprisal, and 2) the person behind it is the nephew of noted content censor Senator Joseph Lieberman. Webcomics-focused blogger supreme Gary Tyrrell has the funniest and most to-the-point write-ups on the case, including what you might be able to do to help: here with a follow-up here.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Massive Superman Newspaper Strip Repository

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this article on DC and Marvel moving to Asia speaks in such broad generalities it's hard to glean anything useful from it, but the percentages chart at the bottom showing western vs. Japanese comics market share in various Asian markets is worth a look. (thanks, Paul D)

* two fine warning posts from wise comics veterans: Tony Isabella on what a contract should do; Print On Demand horror stories from Colleen Doran.

image* you just know John Porcellino would have to have a fascinating 10 favorites list, and he does.

* Johanna Draper Carlson, as finely attuned to a view of comics from the consumer's vantage point as any writer-about-comics out there, takes a look at the launch of the JManga portal. She also dissects the interview with Alvin Lu of Viz that the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com did in two parts, and looks at CBG's move into digital.

* I'd buy that Batman comic.

* Mike Sterling on where to start with Swamp Thing.

* Ryan Cecil Smith talks about a cute, fun baseball manga.

* the author Tom De Haven has contributed a fine essay about modern reprint efforts to TCJ.com. It's one of those articles where the approach makes the piece; I wouldn't be interested in just any article about that subject matter.

* really fine choice of interview subjects by Graphic Novel Reporter: Abrams book designer Neil Egan.

* FLOG! profiles Wendy Chin.

* congratulations to the writer Brian Bendis for re-committing to longtime employer Marvel in a way that he makes sound was pretty satisfying from his vantage point. Good for him.

* Neil Gaiman looks like he's having fun.

* I think DC doing a midnight madness style promotion for the first wave of their relaunch books is a great idea. I'd go to one if my local comic shop had one -- if I had a local comic shop -- and if you went to something like this you'd probably buy one of the relaunch books. Richard Bruton suggests that the trailers DC released in support of the relaunch could use different music.

* the answer is "sure." I mean, it already has a couple of times.

* Stuart Immonen sketches Star Wars. Evan Dorkin has posted more original art for sale. Chris Samnee draws a very youthful and vibrant-looking Dark Phoenix. Benjamin Marra channels Jack Kirby.

* finally, Alison Bechdel is working. Actually, I'm not sure I all the way knew she was doing a memoir about her mother; I felt like I knew when I read the casual mention in that post, but that project makes so much sense I might have been faking that memory.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Stefano Gaudiano!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Josh Fialkov!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Josh Cotter!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Gene Ha!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Skip Williamson!

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August 18, 2011


Your 2011 Ignatz Award Nominees

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The nominees for the 2011 Ignatz Awards were announced this morning via press release by the Small Press Expo. The ceremony will take place on September 10 in Bethesda, Maryland.

This year's nominating panel of judges was Rina Ayuyang, John Porcellino, Kris Dresen, Mike Dawson and Theo Ellsworth. The host for this year's ceremony is Dustin Harbin.

*****

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Outstanding Artist
* Michael DeForge, Lose #3 (Koyama Press)
* Edie Fake, Gaylord Phoenix (Secret Acres)
* Renee French, H-Day (Picturebox)
* Joseph Lambert, I Will Bite You (Secret Acres)
* Carol Tyler, You'll Never Know, Volume Two: Collateral Damage (Fantagraphics)

*****

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Outstanding Anthology or Collection
* Black Eye, edited by Ryan Standfest (Rotland Press)
* Gay Genius, edited by Annie Murphy (Sparkplug)
* I Will Bite You, Joseph Lambert (Secret Acres)
* Make Me a Woman, Vanessa Davis (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Three #1, edited by Robert Kirby (Rob Kirby Comics)

*****

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Outstanding Graphic Novel
* Gaylord Phoenix, Edie Fake (Secret Acres)
* The Heavy Hand, Chris Cilla (Sparkplug)
* Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Barry Deutsch (Amulet Books)
* Special Exits, Joyce Farmer (Fantagraphics)
* You'll Never Know, Volume Two: Collateral Damage, Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)

*****

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Outstanding Story
* Blood of the Virgin, Crickets #3, Sammy Harkham (self-published)
* Browntown, Love and Rockets: New Stories No. 3, Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* LINT, Acme Novelty Library #20, Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
* The most gripping mind-exploding triumphantly electric of our time, Papercutter #15, Jonas Madden-Conner (Tugboat Press)
* Weekends Abroad, Three #1, Eric Orner (Rob Kirby Comics)

*****

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Promising New Talent
* Darryl Ayo Brathwaite, House of Twelve Monthly #3 (Comixology)
* Tony Breed, Finn and Charlie are Hitched (www.hitchedcomic.com)
* Jesse Jacobs, Even the Giants (AdHouse)
* Jon McNaught, Birchfield Close (Nobrow)
* Jesse Moynihan, Forming (Nobrow)

*****

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Outstanding Series
* Crickets, Sammy Harkham
* Dungeon Quest, Joe Daly (Fantagraphics)
* Everything Dies, Box Brown (self-published)
* Lose, Michael DeForge (Koyama Books)
* Reich, Elijah Brubaker (Sparkplug Comic Books)

*****

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Outstanding Comic
* Crickets #3, Sammy Harkham (self-published)
* Danger Country #1, Levon Jihanian (self-published)
* Habitat #2, Dunja Jankovic (Sparkplug Comic Books)
* Lose #3, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
* The Magic Hedge, Marian Runk (self-published)

*****

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Outstanding Mini-Comic
* Ben Died of a Train, Box Brown (self-published)
* Danger Country #1, Levon Jihanian (self-published)
* Gaylord Phoenix #5, Edie Fake (self-published)
* Morning Song, Laura Terry (self-published)
* Trans-Utopia, Tom Kaczynski (Uncivilized Books)

*****

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Outstanding Online Comic
* Alphabet Horror, Nate Marsh
* A Cartoonist's Diary, Pascal Girard
* Finn and Charlie are Hitched, Tony Breed
* Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton
* Lucky, Gabrielle Bell

*****
*****
 
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the buzz from last week's Wizard show in Chicago, still the company's flagship convention, was extremely strong from a kind of grass roots comics standpoint. In a nutshell: no official presence from the biggest comics publishers and a reduced presence by most retailers meant that emphasis was split between the celebrity-type stuff Wizard's been doing lately and a large Artist's Alley set-up. I hope mini-comics legend John Porcellino won't mind if I say that he stayed the whole day, sales were good and he met several fans of his work while at the show.

* speaking of Chicago, organizers of something called the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, or CAKE, have announced a show for June 16-17 2012 at Columbia College. I'm not certain there's anything else that weekend or not; Heroes Con in Charlotte is I think a week afterwards.

* this week it's Baltimore Comic-Con, a show of the major regional/smaller national variety highly regarded by attending professionals for its mostly laid-back atmosphere and resolute focus on comics over other media. Baltimore is a fun city to visit, too, which always helps. That is a fine guest list.

* everything else about Wizard's convention business seems to be sort of a mess this week, as they've pruned some of their ambitious slate of local and regional shows to something more manageable. Heidi MacDonald has a nice list of the changes up here. A few things are worth noting there. The first is that some of these conventions were purchases/partnerships with already existing show. Just because Wizard is divesting from them doesn't necessarily mean the show will fail to go on in some semblance of its pre-Wizard form, so if you're a potential attendee keep an eye out. The second is that this all reflects on Wizard's plan to string together a constant stream of such shows, and indicates that such shows may not be as automatically profitable as some folks belief. The third is that Wizard has as part of these moves put an imminent (September 24-25) Los Angeles-based comics show into a state of limbo. This in itself has three notable aspects: that they're potentially going to screw creators and exhibitors that have made non-changeable plans; that to cancel something this close to the event indicates some very bad things about the company's convention business generally; that Los Angeles continues to vex convention organizers, Wizard in particular.

* 2012 exhibitor registration has opened for the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon. SPX has posted their list of official show debuts.

* finally, Kevin Czap reviews the Philly Alternative Comics Convention, a young show that has drawn interest from area cartoonists and a few alt-comics publishers. Willceau Illo has another report up here.
 
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Go, Look: Gordon Smalls Endures The Wasteland

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Ali Farzat Speaks Out On Syrian Uprising

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The Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat granted an interview that ran on Al-Arabiya TV on August 4 that indicates that he stands firmly against the severe governmental crackdown on protesters, and that the heart of the movement is a wholly Syrian one without connection to outside political forces. He's also apparently doing cartoons about the deepening crisis, as he talks about one of them. Farazat, whose difficulties in making cartoons and publishing satirical magazines in Syria have been longstanding items of international concern, had earlier this year held his artistic brethren to a firm standard of not supporting the status quo or hedging to see which side came out ahead, declaring he was making a list of where various artists stood. His description of the plea made by government officials to not interfere in a crucial moment of history is worth the click-through all by itself.

I believe that's a cartoon about the ironies in using force that was published this Spring, and I think it directly relates to the Syrian authorities use of force in this crisis
 
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Go, Look: Morally Unethical Comics

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Go, Read: ICv2.com Summary Report On State Of Market

The hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com will release these kind of summary reports every now and then on the Direct Market of comics and hobby shops in kind of broad, general terms. Event fatigue, ineffective media tie-ins and a decline in manga are apparently the themes this time out. In particular, they note the lack of a bump for issues related to the current comics events, as opposed to issues of the special series themselves, as a sign they're not having the impact of past efforts. It's also somewhat surprising to me, come to think of it, that DC didn't have at least a rough equivalent for their Green Lantern movie to their Lee Bermejo-drawn Joker graphic novel that did so well after that last mega-hit Batman movie. Comics publishers usually go the other way and try too hard to replicate past successes, but I'm not aware of anything in this general ballpark.
 
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Go, Look: Boys pt 1

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Preston Allen Dean Jr., 1915-2011

imageThe cartoonist know as Pap Dean, a legendary cartoonist of Louisiana who worked for the Shreveport Times as their editorial cartoonist and newspaper illustrator for nearly 40 years, died on August 15 in Alexandria, Louisiana. He was 10 days shy of his 96th birthday.

Pap Dean was born Preston Allen Dean Jr. in Colfax, Louisiana. Like many children, Dean was a fan of the then-burgeoning comics pages, in particular George McManus and E.C. Segar. Dean graduated from high school in 1932, already having taking courses from the Landon School Of Cartooning, the mail-order service influential in developing and/or encouraging several cartoonists of Dean's era. According to an amazing story on his wikipedia page, the young Dean lost his college funds when an uninsured bank went under during the Great Depression. Having to drop out of Louisiana Normal (later Northwestern State), Dean wrote of his plight to Huey Long. Long interceded on his behalf and had him enrolled at Louisiana State University. Dean graduated in 1937, and for a time was enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Art.

Dean was given the nickname "Pap" by a young bully in his elementary school class.

Dean first stint of employment with the Shreveport Times actually came with an affiliated company, Shreveport Engraving, in 1938. The Times was then and for a long time remained the largest newspaper in northern Louisiana, as well as one of the more influential publications in the American South.

That tenure was interrupted a few times, the first during a three and a half year period serving in the US Military during World War 2, where Dean was among those that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He joined the reserves after the war, and left the service as a lieutenant colonel. In the mid-1950s he worked as an illustrator for a company called Arklas Gas and ran an art studio. He also worked as an art director for the Shreveport Journal from the late '50s into the early '60s.

The majority of his professional career was with the Times, however, and he became known for his largely genteel approach, which was buttressed by the fact he did a lot of work for the publication in an illustrative as opposed to more exclusively providing commentary. He later described his approach to cartooning as definitely having a point, but going for a "side blow" rather than a direct hit. He retired in 1979.

Dean was a founding inductee into the Louisiana Political Museum And Hall Of Fame, and for years prepared a caricature to stand alongside the exhibit honoring each fellow member. Dean was also a prose author, penning historical volumes on Louisiana generally, and separate volumes on the towns of Colfax and Natchitoches. He also authored a book of pen-and-ink drawings of Louisiana homesteads. Dean eventually donated his archives to the Louisiana State University campus in Shreveport.

Dean had three children with the former Doris Moore, and later remarried.

Dean eventually retired to a small town near the place of his birth, and kept a studio in Alexandria twenty-five miles away. Near the time of his death, he had moved into Alexandria itself and passed away in Rapides Regional Medical Center. Any memorials were asked by the family to be sent to the Boy Scouts of America and to the United Methodist church in Dean's hometown.

He is survived by two sons, a daughter, several grandchildren, and various relatives of his second wife, who like his first preceded him in death.
 
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If I Were Near Minneapolis, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Tulsa, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Jack Kirby Toxl Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Daryl Cagle remembers 9/11.

image* the writer Brian Wood talks about what appears to be the last days of his recent, half-decade, fruitful relationship with DC Comics.

* Mike Dawson talks to Lisa Hanawalt.

* a couple of recent interviews I missed at Comics Waiting Room: Craig Thompson; Rob Guillory. Here's an audio interview featuring the super-talented Laura Park.

* I guess there was a lot more 1960s/1970s retro-feel Marvel art out there to be uncovered.

* this post over at Comics Alliance may be more than you ever thought you would read about comic book lettering, but Moebius is involved. He makes a number of good point, including that readers can train themselves to read just about any style of lettering, so a blanket claim of illegibility rarely has a lot of real weight.

* Martin Wisse digs into a recent top comics list from the perspective that few women artists are represented near the list's top. He suggests various ways around this in the future.

* Jon Carroll remembers Pogo.

* not comics: this is a strange article in that the Cincinnati Enquirer wants to trumpet a forthcoming format change even though the real news is that they're moving production to Columbus. Still, the thought of newspapers changing formats seems to me to have drastic implications for syndicated comics strips.

* not comics: that's a bunch of swell Dan Zettwoch-related merchandise.

* Johanna Draper Carlson takes a thorough look at the new JManga portal.

* the newly-christened blogger Tony Isabella provides a basic checklist as to things that need to be in a contract between creative people and publishers. Meanwhile, the cartoonist and artist Colleen Doran walks her readers through some print-on-demand disasters.

* David Welsh picks his Fumi Yoshinaga top five.

* having people thinking they bought a copy of million-dollar comic book Action Comics #1 when they buy the forthcoming, new Grant Morrison-written version, doesn't seem to me like it would be all that big of a problem. On the other hand, it's comics, so there's a possibility.

* Rob Clough reviews I Will Bite You. Craig Fischer reviews The Feathertale Review #7. Jon Gorga pummels Red Spike.

* the writer Graeme McMillan speculates on why Marvel may be scaling back the price point on its latest X-Men relaunch. He also wonders out loud why female creators only rarely pitch at Image.

* finally, I'm not sure I understood all that much of this except that the writer is joining the Kirby boycott. Early in the morning, that's more than enough for me.
 
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Happy 28th Birthday, Lilli Carré!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Brian Bendis!

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August 17, 2011


This Isn't A Library: 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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

MAY111142 LITTLE NOTHINGS GN VOL 04 MY SHADOW IN THE DISTANCE $14.99
I all but lap up these watercolor autobio comics from Lewis Trondheim; there's something about their tone and the quality of the artwork that hits me right in the visual pleasure centers. I'd grown use to seeing these book come out in January, so I'm happy to see the publisher hadn't suspended the series. You can read some pages here.

MAY110282 99 DAYS HC (RES) (MR) $19.99
MAY110283 FOGTOWN TP (MR) $12.99
Two crime books on the same day seems a little odd and unnecessary, although one is the initial release of a hardcover and the other is a softcover.

imageDEC100079 TOO MUCH COFFEE MAN OMNIBUS TP VOL 01 (RES) $24.99
That's a lovely price point for a 500+ page book, and Wheeler's work is both loved by a fervent audience and undiscovered country for a completely different set of alt-comics fans.

FEB110270 WE 3 DELUXE EDITION HC (MR) $24.99
The well-liked series from mid-decade gets a fancy edition with a few more pages and one images production flair that justifies the price for three comic books' worth of content. This was Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's story about a trio of doomed-to-be-put-down animal-soldiers, and while it left me a little cold it's well-executed and certainly had tons of enthusiastic fans.

JUN110467 COMPLETE LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE HC VOL 07 $49.99
APR110043 LITTLE LULU TP VOL 28 PRIZE WINNER AND OTHER STORIES $14.99
MAY111084 COMPLETE PEANUTS BOX SET 1979-1982 $49.99
MAY111083 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC VOL 16 1981-1982 $28.99
This is the major archival material not the last book mentioned in this post. I love Little Orphan Annie, and while I'm not the most careful Little Lulu reader, 28 volumes is an impressive publishing achievement for any project. I liked Lynn Johnston's Peanuts introduction, as it focuses on Schulz's resistance to getting older and the appeal of having an entire world completely in your control.

JUN110636 CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 $3.99
JUN110587 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #507 FEAR $3.99
I think these are both really solid superhero comic book serials, but that extra dollar means I'd be giving the clerk a $10 bill for two comics -- the first issue of Captain America was a breezy read -- and I have to admit that would be distressing to me, and motivation to send me to the $1 boxes instead.

MAY110897 INFAMOUS CHARLIE SHEEN (ONE SHOT) $3.99
Once again, comics is on the cutting edge of today's popular culture.

JUN111408 WORLD OF SMURFS $24.95
You'd usually think that something like this at this price point is directed at adults and their nostalgia for the Smurfs property reignited by the movie, but I bet a lot of little kids would want to look at something like this, too. There's something about having something explained to you, or getting more information about something, that's only hinted at through a narrative, that's deeply appealing to young people.

JUN111098 SETTING STANDARD ALEX TOTH GN (RES) $39.99
This is one nice-looking book, certainly the one I'd place my greedy paws on for a look-see in a comics shop excellent enough to carry it. Greg Sadowski always does the job. It's intriguing to me how elusive an appraisal of Alex Toth's work has become despite the work having among its primary virtues directness and simplicity.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: New John Porcellino On Reprodukt's 20 Years

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it was done for an anniversary exhibit opening next month
 
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Insider Trader Slams SEC Case Vs. Toby Scammell

I don't follow business writing enough to know if there's context that would change the way I might read this article about the SEC case against the man accused of profiting from information about the Disney acquisition of Marvel gleaned through his girlfriend. It could be that the writer is a known quantity in a way that would invalidate some of what he says, or that there's an obvious angle being worked, I couldn't tell you. Still, as the original news story presented the case as kind of slam dunk, it's compelling to read someone defending the actions of the accused as a series of educated guesses using avenues for information that shouldn't be privy to regulation or legal rulings. I'm not sure that reading someone else's e-mails doesn't constitute something a bit more severe than recieved pillow talk, but the novelty of the position given what I'd read before stuck with me. Also, I hadn't all the way noticed that the guy's name is "Scammell."
 
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Go, Look: Television Adaptation Comic Book Covers

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After A Hard Day Of Making Comics, Have A Gren

The son of the late cartoonist Grenfell Jones, known over his long career by the shortened pen-name "Gren," has crafted a beer in his father's honor. That's not exactly a hard-hitting news item, but I like the article for the sense of how the cartoonist kind of worked his way into the regional culture of where he was being published, and into the sub-culture of rugby clubs on which many of cartoons focused. The trend is for comics to go national and broad and kind of all pursue the same paydays, and it's nice to be reminded of how something can come to matter to people that's maybe sacrificed a bit of broad appeal for a more focused relationship with an audience. I think it's healthier for the art form over time as well.

Also, it's really funny that the cartoonist preferred whiskey.
 
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Go, Look: The Sketchbook Of Richard Greene

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DC Comics Begins Its Ad Push For Re-Launch

imageYou can see a pair of videos that they're going to use at Hero Complex, if you can stomach watching an advertisement for the privilege of then watching an advertisement. I have about as much chance as deciding whether that's a cool or effective ad as I have of replicating the drawing in the next ten minutes, but it does occur to me that when you're publishing 52 new comics, you can only advertise a few of them at a time. My worry is more how you sell 52 issue #23s, and for general creative/quality issues after they burn through the juice of twisting old paradigms. At some point, "new Superman" has to become Superman, and has to appeal to an audience all on his own.

The thing DC has going for them is that the numbers are so incredibly slight that even a relatively tiny (say 20K) or isolated (a few titles become hits; others barely register) or limited (September kills, then a decline) bump-up can be portrayed as a significant victory. The on-line endeavor will almost certainly be portrayed that way no matter what happens, because that can be said to represent all-new sales in that they're going from zero to whatever. (DC and Marvel also each have a huge card in reserve with their on-line efforts: old comics, particularly those not-collected, access to which could eventually be part of a streaming-movie equivalent bonus to subscribers.)

For the curious, Heidi MacDonald is re-running some candid Tripadvisor-style photos of the new DC Entertainment offices out west. The offices look strangely and surprisingly depressing to me, with some bizarrely huge, wide-open spaces and some cramped and barely utilitarian spaces, although it's nice to see that there's a laid-back dress code.
 
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Go, Look: Weird, Filthy Triple-XXX Orgy Comics

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not safe for life
 
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Go, Look: The Fantastic Four's Mighty 1966

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* calling all Clowes tattoos.

* alt-culture distributor Wow Cool is running a test on their new on-line store.

* I'm going to guess this is the last TCAF report. Although you never know.

image* Eric Buckler interviews Lorenzo Mattotti; Robin McConnell chats with Igort; Broken Frontier talks to Blank Slate Books Publisher Kenny Penman (1, 2).

* Rich Johnston's site Bleeding Cool posted a complete list of the art Brent Anderson had stolen from his car in San Diego.

* Erica Friedman on the Canadian customs case.

* so yesterday retailer and TCAF organizer Chris Butcher instigated a massive twitter explosion of suggestions for conventions, starting with the premise that the idea of the convention being planned for would be that the cartoonists and exhibitors make as much money as possible. It's a pretty chaotic conversation, and there are a lot of retweets to sort through. There's a link to the raw feed in the linked-to post, but I used this.

* Deb Aoki returns to the JManga panel at Comic-Con International to talk about the potential game-changer.

* now the drops and pick-ups at newspapers are just getting weird.

* go, bookmark: longtime comics pro and member of the commentary class Tony Isabella has launched a blog.

* this is very nice, but sometimes I think certain projects get underway because they'll generate feature articles.

* several heavy-hitter French-language cartoonists of the early 1970s populate this video. (via someone I forgot; sorry)

* the writer Robert Kirkman has signed a deal to have the books in his Skybound imprint distributed in Asia.

* a lot of writers write things they later on have no memory of writing, but in Dana Jennings' case there was a very good reason.

image* a few reviews: John Hilgart on the Starstruck Deluxe Edition; Todd Klein on Green Lantern #66 and Green Lantern Corps #60; Geoff Grogan on The Moon Prince (not officially a review, I don't think, but a recommendation); Sean T. Collins on 2009's Tales Designed To Thrizzle #5; Grant Goggans on Big Nate: From The Top. Johanna Draper Carlson on Lightning Girl Loves Rocket Boy.

* take a course from Miriam Libicki.

* the idea behind this comics-related Kickstarter project dealing in conceptual, limited-audience art sounds intriguing to me, and I'm not even high.

* I agree with the sentiment expressed in this blog post about Marvel playing high shenanigans on DC and whether or not it's some crime against comics, although since it's one of the Motley Fool guys, and they love Marvel with the white hot passion of a thousand suns, I'll probably take a moment to reconsider my position.

* not comics: Jillian Tamaki's fabric doodles.

* Jason does Clowes.

* finally, Shaky Kane's next project is profiled by USA Today. You heard me.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, John Romita Jr.!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Tom McLean!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Andrew Helfer!

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August 16, 2011


Not Comics: Renton Cops Demoted In Video Affair



I guess this is sort of the conclusion: the cops responsible for making a video satirizing the Renton Police Department and another cop that enabled it to be uploaded from a more secure location have been disciplined. My free speech streak wants to punch everyone involved from the punishment end of things right in the face, although I have to admit that 1) I would be open for someone explaining to me what conduct rules for being part of the Renton department involve and why having such rules could be a good thing, 2) it's definitely worth noting this outcome is far less terrifying and less directly of interest to print cartoonists than when the department went psycho and tried to finesse criminal charges against a person they believed operating outside the department.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* somehow I missed that Top Shelf was publishing a print collection of Jennifer Hayden's Underwire. It's either just out or just about to be out, so hardly counts as news, but I thought it worth noting.

image* Titan plans a series of Alex Raymond Flash Gordon books, which I assume means that Checker is no longer doing their books, although that certainly doesn't have to mean that.

* here's a look at the cover and design for Seth's Wimbledon Green sketchbook-comics follow-up The Great Northern Brotherhood Of Canadian Cartoonists. Pretty. Xeroxes on this one have gone out to reviewers, and it looks like a lot of fun. I think there was a preview up at TCJ last Spring, but damned if I could find it now. It was probably a limited time thing.

* Chris Wright announced via his Facebook presence that Fantagraphics will be publishing his comic Black Lung.

* one of my favorite people in comics, the writer Carlton Hargro, has put together a Kickstarter proposal for his comics character Isis. I hope it gets over, although there's a lot of work left to be done there.

* a lot of folks have in the past week linked to this preview and these images from the forthcoming collaboration between Mary and Bryan Talbot: Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes.

* Marvel announced which characters will anchor what I'm guessing is one of a bunch of different titles with the name Avengers in it, which is always a sign of where some of their developmental priorities lie. It seems like a pretty dull line-up, in that I couldn't tell you if this happened to be the line-up from three years ago. And no magic guy. I do wonder if anyone will ever be able to resuscitate some semblance of significant popularity for the Vision character, as he was maybe the favorite of hardcore Marvel fans before Wolverine assumed that role via Uncanny X-Men. It would probably have to be a soft reboot and break, as I can't imagine this generation of writers being around to be influenced by comics quite that old.

* I missed this last week, but the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced details of its latest Liberty Annual. I also just missed getting a note in about the cartooning collective CLAMP resuming work on Legal Drug. And apparently there's a new issue of Optic Nerve coming out.

* comics industry survivor store Tripwire has a new issue coming out, previewed here.

* finally, Koyama Press announced new books from Julia Wertz and Matthew Forsythe. There aren't any additional details about the Wertz book that I can see but the Forsythe one will be a mini of teaching-related strip he's been posting to his web site.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Snappy-Looking 1958 Gene Colan Story

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Del Connell, 1918-2011

imageThe writer and comics historian Mark Evanier brings word that the animation artist, writer and longtime comics editor Del Connell passed away over the weekend. He was 93 years old.

Connell went to work for the Disney Studio in 1939, where he was employed by the department that dreamed up new characters for forthcoming movies. Movies in which appeared Connell's work of that nature were Fantasia and Dumbo.

Connell served in the military for the breadth of the Second World War. He returned to Disney in 1945 as a screenwriter, contributing to The Three Caballeros, Alice In Wonderland and numerous shorts. Evanier mentions that Connell wrote the short "The Cold-Blooded Penguin" used in the feature The Three Caballeros while still in the Army.

In 1950, Connell began to work for Western Publishing as a writer, mostly on Disney's ultra-successful comics efforts. One of Connell's primary duties seemed to be writing movie adaptations and stories for Disney's special issues -- an appropriate role for the former Studio employee. Connell was a prolific writer all around, however, and contributed a number of fondly-remembered stories to more standard elements of the Disney line including their duck comics. Connell also wrote for other studios' major cartoon characters, including Tom and Jerry (MGM) and Porky Pig (Warner).

In 1956, Connell became the editorial director at Western, a position he held for the next 28 years. This put him directly in a overseer's role with Western's prodigious output for decades of time. He also continued to write, co-creating the long-running (and Lost In Space precursor) Space Family Robinson series in 1962 with Dan Spiegle, co-creating Supergoof with Paul Murry in 1965, providing the initial concept and writing for the character Wacky Witch in I believe the comic of the same name in 1971 and debuting the Mighty Knight character in an issue of Super Goof in 1979. He was a contributor to the daily and weekly Mickey Mouse feature from 1968 until his retirement to the southern California town of Tehachapi (southeast of Bakersfield) in the late 1980s when Western ceased operations. The Mickey Mouse work was uncredited. Connell also worked with Roger Armstrong on the Little Lulu newspaper strip during the 1960s.

A search for Connell's name in the credits of comics on the resource Grand Comics Database yields 128 pages of listings.

Connell was the living recipient of this year's Bill Finger Award, designed to bring recognition to under-appreciated but deserving writers in comics industry past and present. His son Brady accepted on his behalf at this year's Eisner ceremonies during Comic-Con International.
 
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Go, Look: HOW

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Marc Toberoff Files Appeal On Behalf Of Kirby Heirs

You can read the story from hobby business news and analysis site here, and the Deadline story here. Although I think there's a distinction between the estate and Kirby's heirs, and it's the latter involved in the suit against Marvel over copyrights for work Jack Kirby created, both article pretty much say the same thing: this was expected, attorney Marc Toberoff has had success with cases like these in part because of his dogged pursuit of them, this is just beginning, and so on. A summary judgment is considered not just a loss but a bad loss, and it will be interesting to see on what basis Toberoff grounds the appeal.
 
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Go, Look: Vip's Armed Farces

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Water Damage Crisis At Staten Island Hanley's Location

Kevin Melrose has the most succinct write-up of massive water damage at the Staten Island location of Jim Hanley's Universe. Apparently, the New York City-era was soaked with record-breaking rainfall levels this weekend. Store manager Nick Purpora told SILive.com that the water came through the roof and may have destroyed up to 80 percent of the store's stock. The store will be open regular hours today, according to a tweet from the store's account, and I would imagine it's a good idea if you're in the region to buy something from that store or the store's Manhattan location in support. Here's a video of the store late from Monday night as it prepares for business today.
 
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Go, Look: More Ladies Of Esquire Cartoons

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Go, Look: Wally Wood Over Gil Kane On Teen Titans

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* did I ever link directly to Kim Thompson's remembrance of F. Solano Lopez?

image* Timothy Callahan read all of Cerebus in seven days and lived to tell the tale. In fact, he says it wasn't all that difficult. That's going to be the new 24-hour comic for reviewers, isn't it?

* will Achewood be back soon? Gary Tyrrell points out a hopeful-sounding tweet and mentions that we'll soon be coming up on the strip's 10th anniversary. I know I'd like to see it again.

* not comics: Stan Lee will throw out the first pitch at a Nationals game to promote literacy.

* Thea Liberty Nichols interviews Dan Nadel. Tim O'Shea has a chat with Rachel Pandich. Sophie Gould at The Portland Press Herald profiles Ranae de Liz. Robin McConnell grills Chip Kidd.

* Brandon Graham talks about Roger Langridge and casually tosses out the best name for a comics review column ever.

* listed and justified: the new DC Comics series retailer and foundational comics blogger Mike Sterling will follow. That's a lot more books than I plan on checking out, but I'm not exactly a devoted mainstream comics reader at this point. I'm in more of a "listen to what people say is good and then buy copies when it's canceled and the back issues go on sale for $1 each" phase. I may have a fantastic 2013.

* this is nice and everything, but I think we all know the real money is in leather jackets and locks of hair.

* not comics: this list of science fiction and fantasy books recommended by NPR poll-takers sure is odd. Neither my favorite book in that category that I read as an adult, nor my second favorite as a child made the list. Two comics works did -- Watchmen, Sandman -- which I guess is why a bunch of you sent it along.

* Robot 6 has a link-heavy post to cartoons that covered the London riot.

* Eddie Campbell muses on Bill Mauldin.

* finally ANN notes that attendance at this summer's Comiket declined 20,000 from highs in 2009 and 2010. Considering that high was 560,000, I can't imagine anyone sees this as a super-serious matter. One worth noting, though. It's in no way related, and isn't a comics show, but Gen Con was apparently up 20 percent.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Jason!

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August 15, 2011


Go, Read: Lisa Hanawalt On Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Go, Read: Steve Geppi's Million-Dollar Art Deal Gone Bad

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I'm behind on this, but there's no reason you should be waiting for me to catch up, nor is it fair to ask you to read me simply parroting someone else's very fine article as if it were my own.

The importance of any story that turns on accusations of money owed by Steve Geppi or a significant reduction in his personal fortune is of prime interest to the comics industry for obvious reasons.
 
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Francisco Solano López, 1928-2011

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*****

Francisco Solano López, the acclaimed Argentine artist who published with an array of international publishers including those in the U.S., died on August 12 from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 83 years old.

imageFrancisco Solano López was born in 1928. His first published comics work came in 1953, when the young artist signed a contract with the publishing company Columba. His first assignment was with the writer Roger Pla on the feature Perico Y Guillermina. Solano López met the writer Hector German Oesterheld when he was assigned to scripts at Abril. They began a series Bull Rocket in the publication Misterix. Oesterheld recruited Solano López as a co-founder of Frontera, a publishing effort that the writer funded and ran with his brother. Among their collaborations were the character Joe Zonda and the series for which Solano López is best known, El Eternauta. That series debuted in September 1957.

El Eternauta told the story of an alien invasion of Buenos Aires from the point of view of a group of survivors. Its enduring image of men in suits traveling through a poisonous, weaponized snowfall was a sign of the still-young Solano López's growing strength as an image maker. In addition to the thrilling nature of the story and the chops put on display by the writer and artist, El Eternauta trafficked in an obviously rich series of potential and realized metaphors: the invasion of Buenos Aires by an outside force, the monsters and creatures the resistance fighters encountered, the ultimate enemy controlling these things from afar. Oesterheld would later rewrite and aim the story more squarely at political targets; its sequels, not all of which were drawn by Solano López, straddled the line between science fiction adventure and political satire, often to the dissatisfaction of one part of the audience or another. But because of the skill of its practitioners in executing the story, the hero-as-group at the story's heart and Solano López's haunting imagery, El Eternauta remains one of the most influential and most highly regarded of all Argentine comics series. The original serialization ended in 1959. The story was revived in its own magazine in 1961, soon before a national economic crisis contributed to the closure of Ediciones Frontera. A more stridently politicized remake of El Eternauta without Solano López's involvement came in 1969, and a sequel featuring the artist's work began in the 1975. Solano López would later work on sequels created after Oesterheld's disappearance and presumed death.

It was in part because of the political undertones of El Eternauta, particularly its commentary on Argentine and Chilean politics, that saw Solano López flee to Spain out of fears of reprisal. This was the first of two extended periods away from his homeland, although wherever he traveled he remained distinctly an Argentine both in mannerism and art style. "He was the absolute exemplar of the courtly South American gentleman, an enthusiastic and ultra-reliable professional, and an artist to the core," wrote Fantagraphics publisher Kim Thompson in his tribute.

While in Europe, Solano began to provided more work for Fleetway, a relationship that would last for decades off and on and see the artist illustrate several comics series including Kelly's Eye, Pete's Pocket Army, and The Drowned World.

In the 1970s, Solano López returned to Argentina and picked up work on older series such as the El Eternauta sequel (the property was now with Editorial Records) and newer ones such as Slot-Barr and Evaristo. The latter of those two new efforts paired him with the writer Carlos Sampayo. Evaristo was a series of short stories about a police commissioner in Buenos Aires in the 1950s. That work was the basis of Solano López's eventual first major entry into the North American market, the 1986 Catalan publication Deep City. Says arts writer and former comics editor Robert Boyd. "I wish someone would retranslate and reprint this book. These stories are extremely abbreviated -- so much is left out. As you reread them (as I often do), you fill in the blanks. The richness of Solano's art helps you. He had a gritty, earthy realistic style. It's a brilliant work -- a classic." Boyd praised Lopez as an urban artist whose cityscapes were specifically South American, and particularly evocative of his longtime home Buenos Aires.

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Despite this facility with urban storytelling, both Boyd and eventual Solano López publisher Gary Groth compared Solano López's artwork to that of famed U.S. western and war artist John Severin. Groth: His work always reminded me of a more proletarian John Severin; just as Severin captured the environment of dust and dirt in his Westerns, Solano captured the grit and texture of urban life -- and like Severin, he could adapt his style to humor."

"When I think of Argentine artists, I think of artists who were influenced by Milton Caniff," Boyd told CR. "Lots of chiaroscuro. Alberto Breccia and Hugo Pratt seemed to use Caniff as sort of a starting point, though both evolved in very different directions. Ditto with Jose Munoz. But Solano approached it differently. His art felt more like John Severin's than Milton Caniff's -- although I think Solano was a better artist than Severin."

Fleeing Argentina once again at the end of the decade because of further political turmoil, Solano López set up shop once more in Spain. He arranged for the continued serialization of his then-current work in two Italian magazines: LancioStory and Skorpio.

imageBy the time the 1990s rolled around, Solano López was in the midst of a relatively short but fruitful period working for a variety of North American publishers. Having already run a piece of the work in a 1987 issue of its anthology Prime Cuts, in 1991 Fantagraphics re-issued a 1978 Solano López comic featuring a script from his son Gabriel, Ana. A brutally-told story again using both offbeat science fiction and a series of events loaded with metaphorical power, Ana was distinguished by Solano López's stunning portraiture work. Much of Ana is told in the faces and figures of its participants, giving it a affecting fragility not always found in politically oriented comics. While Solano López certainly had the skill to make idealized forms, something he would put on display to great effect later in his career, many of the characters in Ana have a real-world, beaten-up quality, and its his evocation of what co-publisher Gary Groth called "the rot of politics" on what was essentially a canvas of flesh that made Ana a ruthless, unsettling work.

imageSolano López collaborated with the cartoonist Jim Woodring on Freaks, derived from Tod Browning's film, for the ill-fated Fantagraphics Monster imprint. There were four issues, published in 1992. The artist Jim Blanchard, who art directed the series, remembers the artist's general skill and the facility with which he worked. "I saw a few quick portraits he did of Fanta employees that were terrific -- his drawing talent was immense, and it seemed like he cranked out detailed, high-quality comic pages faster than anyone."

It was during this period of publication in the U.S. that Solano López became known as one of the best artists in the world working in erotica, splitting efforts between Fantagraphics' Eros line and comparable international outlets for that material like Spain's Kiss Comix. His best known series for Eros were the Young Witches books, Young Witches 2 in particular bringing an incredibly high quality of art to its imaginative series of couplings and depredations. Solano López later won a Best Erotic Author prize for that work and the "Silly Symphony" full-color comics (this may have been another collaboration with son Gabriel).

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Those that worked with Solano López in the U.S. remember the man in addition to the artistic achievements. "Professionally, he was a delight to deal with. Personally, he was even more delightful," said Gary Groth. "He stayed at my home once in the early '90s, and he was sweet, funny, and gregarious. I remember a wonderful dinner we had at my home barbecuing ribs and talking late into the night."

Ryder Windham was an editor at Fantagraphics and Dark Horse and was Solano López's primary contact at the Seattle-based alternative comics publisher. "It was while working on Freaks that I really got to know Solano and appreciate his work even more. So when he visited the US in 1994, when I worked at Dark Horse Comics, I was happy that he agreed to stay at my place for several days. Robert Boyd and I had great fun showing him around town. We went to the Columbia River Gorge, the zoo at Washington Park, and drank beer at the Goose Hollow Inn. He loved looking at women, and I got the impression that they found him adorable. We threw a big party for him."

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Boyd remembered that same party. "Ryder hosted a party in his honor. It was a few comics types and the usual collection of young singles who came to Ryder's parties. Joe Sacco and Thom Powers cornered Solano because they wanted to talk about comics and politics, but Solano, then in his mid-60s, was more interested in chatting with the 20-something girls there. I remember he found one who spoke Italian and surprised her with his Italian flirtations." He added, "Solano was 35 years older than me, but I felt a strong connection with him -- he was charming, a delightful dining companion, worldly but unpretentious."

Solano López did receive some work from Dark Horse, illustrating a Robert Boyd short story in Dark Horse Presents, an Aliens story, and working on several issues of an abortive relaunch of the Jonny Quest property. "I wrote [the short story 'Buoy 77'] with the intent of giving him some work, but really I was the main beneficiary--my amateurish hard-boiled story was immensely improved by his brilliant artwork." López also returned to work for Fleetway during this period, doing six-page "Nipper" stories for Roy Of The Rovers monthly, and provided inside art and cover illustrations for Bram Stoker's Burial Of The Rats at the short-lived Roger Corman's Cosmic Comics.

One of his final original comics to appear in the US was a two-page contribution to Dark Horse's 9/11 anthology with writer Pablo Maiztegui. As Boyd was quick to point out, the work López did that has been translated into English or meant primarily for English-language audience is "the tip of the iceberg" in terms of his overall career output. "There's so much he did that should be in print here. And maybe some of it will be published. I'm only sorry that Solano won't be here in person to receive the praise his work so richly deserves."

imageWindham remember the artist's hands, and a specific act of kindness. "Solano López was doing a pencil sketch at the dining table in my apartment in Portland, Oregon, in 1994, when I noticed his hands looked younger than mine, which was kind of annoying because he had a few decades on me. I said, 'How old were you when your hands stopped aging?" He thought this was very funny. But it's true, he had lovely hands, not a mark or age-betraying wrinkle on them.

"After I moved to New York City and married, he asked me to send a photo of my wife, Anne, and over a year later, in May 1997, I was surprised to receive a pencil sketch of Anne based on the photo. He wrote, 'It has been a huge pleasure to try and make the portrait of Anne. I sincerely hope you like it.'

"He was a real sweetheart, and I miss him very much."

Solano López was briefly hospitalized after the hemorrhage in the Italiano Hospital in Buenos Aires. It was believed he had been in ill heath for a while.

In addition to son Gabriel, Argentine news sources mention another survivor: a daughter Maria, who was with him near the time of his passing.

*****

* from El Eternauta: a great López face
* photo of the artist provided by Ryder Windham; my thanks to Windham for this one and the one below
* a cover to one of the magazines serializing El Eternauta
* Ana
* one of the Freaks issues
* from the Young Witches cycle of stories
* Ryder Windham and F. Solano López in Portland, 1994
* another great López face
* self-portrait of the artist at his drawing table

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: I Dunno Exactly

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Robert Crumb On Why He Can't Visit Sydney

In a long letter that describes fears ranging from further embarrassing the city of Sydney to concern that he might be open to some lone nut targeting him for assassination, Robert Crumb held forth on his recent decision to cancel his trip to Australia for the second year of Sydney's graphic arts festival. You can read the summary article here. You should read both pieces but primarily Crumb's letter if you're at all interested in the story. Crumb says the assassination fear was on wife Aline's mind as well. In case you missed it, a profile in a Rupert Murdoch-owned paper the Sunday Telegraph played up to vicious effect the more salacious elements of Crumb's career, targeting the artist personally for what most audiences and critics at this point in Crumb's long career widely recognize as art that has obvious satirical and confessional value. This led him to cancel his planned trip to Sydney, and put the story on international wires. Gary Groth says in the latest summary piece that Crumb is not likely to change his mind.
 
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Go, Read: Spera

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Go, Read: Jesse Hamm On Alex Toth's Artistic Development

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Alan Gardner caught that the Renton police department now believes that it was an officer that did the animation exposing department foibles, which makes their decision to suspend pursuit of a criminal charge completely hollow as they're taking care of this via an in-house investigation.

image* it's been a long time since I saw all the L'Association Persepolis book covers, and I hadn't seen stills from the forthcoming live-action film of Poulet Aux Prunes before now. Paul Gravett has both in this profile.

* everything you've heard about the clutter in Fantagraphics' office is true.

* and then there was that time that Bill Gaines appeared on To Tell The Truth.

* not comics: this is just odd.

* I like that we're seeing a bit more evidence here and there that Fantastic Four is a first-tier assignment. It should be.

* check out this completely awesome-looking membership card the Dallas con gave out in 1973. I would stand in line for quite some time to get something similar at one of today's big shows. I'm pretty certain that if my friends and I discovered a time machine, I'd annoy all of them by making making all our trips to early 1970s comics conventions.

* Austin English posts an intriguing list of favorite ten comics.

* tiny comics really need to make a comeback.

* a sign of a great strip is that its author can be totally convincing describing plot points that on the surface read like complete nonsense. Cul-De-Sac is a great strip.

* is there any good reason that this has two covers? I guess it's a last issue, but that still seems weird to me. I have no idea why this kept being a title once Grant Morrison left, although I'm sure some of the comics themselves were pretty good. I guess I won't be able to complain for a while about series being extended given the line-wide re-launch. At least not for a few months, anyway.

* not comics: Frank Santoro writes great travel posts.

* the writer and reviewer Rob Clough suggests the upcoming, planned-to-be-fancy Solipsistic Pop #4 as a worth project to support via the mechanics of crowd funding.

* a study shows that Dr. Suess makes people happy.

* the story profiled here is perhaps best known for the ultra-daffy image of tiny supermen flying out of Superman's horns, but I think I would buy any comic that featured Devil-Superman and his "weak and evil" nature. Does anyone have a sense of who buys the old 1950s Superman reprints in various forms from DC? I'd like to think it's people completely grooving on their endlessly entertaining stories, but the people I know like that buy old comics with this stuff. So I'm guessing it's mostly serious collectors, in both senses of "serious."

* both this and this made me smile.

* finally, three pieces of art caught my attention this morning: Larry Marder's tribute to the Fantastic Four; Michael DeForge's snappy illustration for The Beguiling (I can recognize all but one of the characters, which is kind of maddening); Johnny Ryan drawing a really dirty picture of a smurf controlling a robot that's having sex with a gremlin, which is doubly awesome because it's a commission.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Paul Gulacy!

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August 14, 2011


All Of These Things That Have Made Us

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

"You have a life-threatening condition," the doctor said.

"We need to get you somewhere where they can operate on you," he continued, the words tumbling out of him.

"We need to get you there immediately." A breath.

"We have a hospital. We have a surgeon. When we have an ambulance, you'll go."

He stepped away from the room, closing the curtains behind him with a shriek of ball bearings on a metal track. I liked this doctor. He had a broad smile. He rapped his knuckles lightly on the edge of the counter when he turned away to contemplate a piece of advice, talking his way through various bits of specific medical knowledge. I found this endearing.

What he said this time, right to my face, didn't settle in for about 30 seconds. I remember laughing at least once, a memory-laugh that bubbles up when you remember something amusing, about what exactly I have no recollection and probably didn't know right then, either. I turned and looked at my Mom, the parent and person whom I'm most like, in the room with me by accident. "Can you take out a pen and piece of paper? I guess I need to tell you some things."

None of them were about comics.

*****

That's a lie, of course. Plenty of them were about comics. Four of the seven people outside of my family I wanted her to contact were I to die in the next several hours were people I'd met through comics. A pair of them were former co-workers. One was an ex-intern. One was simply a guy with whom I became friends because we both enjoyed making Moses Magnum jokes on-line. My friends.

You could do far worse than to build a lifetime of friendships with the people you meet in comics. Far, far worse. I'm not sure you could do much better. As much as I'm made uncomfortable by a vision of comics that lacks the comics themselves, a way of approaching the professional and artistic communities that could without blinking substitute designer baskets or arcade games or action figures for the comics medium, I understand the appeal of wanting to stay around smart, curious, kind and mostly forgiving people for as long as possible, even if one's passion for the art form fades.

I've always been grateful that I came of age at a time when engaging the entirety of pop culture was an act of scrambling to find out about things and then to track them down. I'm equally thankful that I made my first adult friends without the comforting approximates provided by social media. I benefit every day from the act of casting off most of what had come before and building something that was on personal terms entirely new and, in many ways that count, lasting. That I had to travel 2762 miles to find people that understood all of my jokes, that believed in many of the same things I did in a thousand different, fractured ways, that were willing to make a fresh appraisal of who I was and what I had to offer and where I was lacking, somehow that journey made those brief years that much sweeter, or at least makes them so in memory. A couple of months into my time in Seattle, I used to find reasons to work at night just so I could listen to a certain group of people talk to one another. Except for the fact that so many of us were deeply unhappy, I'd gladly live through great, sweeping portions of that period in my life again.

imageMom and I also talked about my comics collection. This is an absurd thing to crowd into anyone's last few hours with any loved one, but I hadn't potentially left any other three- ton piles of cultural ephemera sitting around with which folks would have to deal were I to absent myself. Just in case you were wondering: there are no good answers for instructing others what to do with all those books, at least none that flash to mind while a crowd of people 12 feet away foist their measured, furious attention on a nine-year-old with a scorpion sting. Maybe those people that disengage with the form have a point.

*****

It was my first IV, my first ambulance ride, my first encounter with Morphine, my first hospital bed, my first flood of antibiotics, my first time meeting a group of surgeons, my first discussion of a Shooter-era Marvel market share sized mortality rate, the first time I'd been put under.

*****

Sometimes I worry I stick around the comics industry because it's the easiest thing I can do. It's almost impossible to get drummed out of comics. You can half-ass it for forty years. You'll always be welcome; if you're lucky, you might win an award or even get into a Hall Of Fame. We're an industry of more later, new creative teams, to be continued, we'll stop putting them out late when you stop buying them, it's great to have you back, all that is water under the bridge, you should do a few more issues, of course I know who you are.

That doesn't mean there aren't people in comics that work extremely hard. Many do. Maybe most do. In fact, the indolence exhibited by some wouldn't be possible without the rigorous energy of others that don't have the space to be unproductive for even a half day, that don't have the time to google themselves, that couldn't fathom participating in an on-line debate. I've talked to the children of strip artists whose primary memory of their fathers and mothers is that person at a drawing board, desperate to get away for a few moments but deciding with an almost whole-body resignation to continue working while life-moment X, Y and Z unfolds nearby. It's just that in comics so many pretend to work hard, too, with a thousand strategies to let themselves off the hook for this minimal effort. More comics people than any others I know have more days where they go to work, stare at things, have a conversation or two, do something on their computer that could be argued in the kindest court in the land to have something to do with their jobs and then retreat home.

It's always denied. According to personal testimony, no one with a comics job ever puts in an easy day. At some point, some comics people began to boast of their work output, portraying themselves as art heroes putting the time in and loving it, or at-wit's-end time managers struggling to carry a heavy load -- people that watch themselves work rather than just work. You'd see them send out frequent high-fives to fellow hard-workers, saying what they're doing out loud so that the effort might matter to someone even if the work does not. As career midway games go, comics is more pick up a floating duck than a ring toss. One halfway memorable thing really does put you in the club forever. Comics has a staggeringly low threshold for initial participation and a lower one for renewing one's dues. Comics will demand next to nothing from some people even as it demands almost everything from others.

In seventeen years I've never had a workday that matched what my conception of a day at work should be. I'm happy to put off what should be routine as if I'm holding at arm's length grand projects I must steel myself to achieve. I write sentences that can't be diagrammed and let them be. I finesse entire paragraphs that allow me to avoid making a single phone call. I've lost too many interviews to count, and others I just stare at the tapes or MP3, because something in me is too paralyzed to continue transcribing. I've made up things to get past screwing something up, fantasies right out of whole cloth, and nobody's noticed. I have a job that takes me a few hours a week and I've yet to fill the remaining hours with anything worthwhile.

Comics is the place where I'm the least scared.

*****

I don't remember the coma. I have a single flash memory of a nurse in a blue shirt trying to turn me over, a nurse I never saw again. Otherwise: darkness. I woke up with a tube in my mouth. I woke up. I'm plugged in. There's something in my neck that drips into my heart, to help keep me free from pain. A band occasionally tightens around my arm to check my blood pressure and I'm surprised every time it happens. I'm dancing in place. They have my legs in a device that moves them as if I'm one of those foam creatures under a window of plastic with dials attached to my joints. I find out later that it's a machine to keep the blood in my legs from clotting.

If I learned anything that first 48 hours awake, it was to focus on the next event: the next breath, the next five minutes, the next question written on the notepad, the next time someone might come into the room. To my surprise, after a life of avoidance I'm not that bad at taking things as they come. Although come to think of it, no one carves time like an unproductive writer.

The specks on the ceiling panel above my bed occasionally crackle and surge into cartoon drawings outlined in blue. I blink -- two, three times -- and they disappear.

*****

My brother told me that this entire ordeal was my body's last-ditch attempt to keep me from seeing Green Lantern. My brother is a very funny man.

imageI spent way too much time over the next several days thinking about things like the Green Lantern movie. By "too much time" I mean in the overall scheme of things, certainly not in terms of what I was doing. I was living 22-hour days, from 2 AM to 12 midnight. I could barely sleep, and as every experience in the hospital was a new one the days seemed even longer than they were. I had nothing but time, punctuated by short bursts of telephone conversations where I made little to no sense, where all I wanted to do was to thank the person calling over and over again. I tried to think about anything except comics, but I don't have enough in my life to fill that many hours. So I thought. And thought. And thought. Big, unclear, messy thoughts.

The thing that's remarkable to me about Green Lantern was the severe dichotomy of rhetoric over the fact that the movie performed greatly under expectations. On one side were those gleeful about it, as if enough money to cure a disease going down a hole were some thrilling victory for right-thinking individuals everywhere. On the other side you have those out to willfully deny the failure, to suggest that $100 million was nothing to sneeze at, it opened well with this group of people and that indicates this, hell yeah we're doing a sequel and before you say another word where is your multi-million dollar movie that opened in thousands of theaters, Mr. Critical? Our chatboard arguments now come pre-made.

I don't know much about the film industry, but I figure that a movie that doesn't perform well is a movie that doesn't perform well. Sometimes art doesn't hit. As much as the message board pundits and twitter prophets might proclaim with strong words cribbed from the Internet Handbook Of Effective Declarations the reason why one thing becomes successful and another doesn't, they don't really know, either. Life goes on. Something opens seven days later. Other movies get made. Shouty Batman is back next summer, and the comics people that care to bask in reflected glory can strut around for the three major cons after it opens to 1000 trillion dollars or whatever. It's a curious thing to embrace as meaningful. It's barely a thing at all. Every movie's credits make me sad.

It might have been the medicine doing its job, but I couldn't help but conflate Green Lantern struggling to scramble past Hop on the year-to-date lists with the wider DC Comics moves of the last couple of years. I'm not sure I should. But there it is. It's largely, I think, because I don't understand the publishing moves, either. It feels like the last few years for DC have been one long period of family-rattling misbehavior by a formerly stand-up husband. I understood that DC, with their simmering resentment at being the industry's stand-up, good-guy, supportive partner to a Direct Market with a "I Love Marvel" tattoo on its bicep and the House That Jack Built on the speed dial. I understood a lot of things about that old DC.

I remain largely clueless about the new status quo. I still don't understand exactly what it is Diane Nelson does. I don't understand what was so right with DC Comics the last several years that they chose to double-down by creating a three-headed brain trust out of people in the thick of that company's recent orthodoxy, nor do I understand what makes those people natural agents of change if that what's called for. I don't understand how DC looked at its current talent pool and roster of characters and decided that 52 new titles was the best idea, and I have serious doubts they can maintain it in a successful way over six, twelve, eighteen months without a tremendous burn-off of resources that could have been employed to much greater effect in less dramatic ways. I know that because it's DC they'll cite numbers we can't see and declare it a success no matter what happens. That part I get. But I don't understand how as a media company DC can put all their eggs into a Green Lantern basket and not have things like TV shows lined up for Kid Eternity and toy-generating property supreme Dial H For Hero -- or some equivalent, something, anything that indicates they realize the richness of that character library. Frankly, I may never understand this era of DC. I just hope there's another one.

I had a very childish reaction to DC's big news of a line-wide re-launch and same-day digital offerings. I realized as I was lying there in the hospital watching cable TV's endless cycle of late-period Tim Burton movies that I had this reaction because the announcement frightened me. It felt to me like the death of industry, or at least my admittedly child's idealized conception of industry where people make things and then are paid fairly for the fruits of that thing. Comics has given up industry for proximity. That's not exactly breaking news. Too few people make comics for the reward of making comics, both because there are fewer and fewer rewards and partly because there's a promise for a greater return down the line. It seems entirely appropriate that as comics became more invisible to average folk, disappearing into comics stores, the physical product would in time begin to matter less and less to the folks that own and make them. I think what bothered me most is that the Green Lantern movie briefly turned the talented writer Geoff Johns into a young guy standing near a major motion picture, a guy that wears a black t-shirt in photos to stand in dramatic fashion alongside his attractive employer. In a better world, an opportunity like this would have felt like an impossible bonus to a richly successful life, and the writing career itself would be the story, not suggested as a prologue to something that really matters.

*****

Being in comics long enough allows you special insight into large, dysfunctional groups of people, which is handy when you're living in a hospital. The sooner you learn to accommodatingly plug into the staff's work day as opposed to continuing to demand that they find a way to work within the confines of the artificial constructions you dragged in there with you, the better things go. Ask for your sleeping pill two hours after everyone else wants one. Negotiate for special attention during the next downtime in exchange for quickly excusing them right now when they're obviously busy. Don't ask for anything at the time the person likes to do their paperwork. Being in a bed for 24 hours a day is not unlike being behind a convention table, except the bathroom is closer. Hospital gowns and nurse's uniforms are the original cosplay.

*****

It's the longest period of my life since age four that I went without reading a comic book. The wonderful thing about that is they became strange again, full of conventions and assumptions that are just a step or two beyond instant comprehension. All art is like that, theater to sitcoms to pop music, and if you step away for long enough the mystery of them appeals even when the content falls short. Because comics count more on the reader than most forms, it's that much harder to make a critical point -- you really are reading a different comic than anyone else has. There are people hooked on narratives, and people that only look at the art, and people that hang onto moments, and people that prefer it when the invisible mechanisms of the form hold greater and more obvious sway. There are people that pick up signals and signs related to a certain experience either received or adopted and judge art if it hits all of those buttons or not. They're all quick to tell you that the other people are doing it wrong.

imageEven worse, to love comics too often becomes a loyalty test of singular devotion according to specific, ascribed parameters (all of comics, art comics, superhero comics, strip comics, manga). And yet there are people for whom comics is an occasional thing, an avenue for nostalgia when the various Marvel soap operas meant the world to them, or a pleasant side trip from prose into Persepolis during last year's book club. You used to be a comics fan if you owned half a shelf of Peter Arno books, a few Peanuts volumes and something by Bill Mauldin. Now an entire room devoted to comics and toys and original art might get you noticed, but maybe not even then. The demographic that comics has the hardest time welcoming in isn't one defined by race or gender or age but by passion. People don't need to love comics as much as you do to have a perfectly rich and meaningful relationship with the form. There's no one right way to read a comic. There's no one right way to read comics.

*****

Walking for the first time after it's been a while is interesting because you have to push past a frozen state of the kind you might suddenly develop if you were trying to be very quiet, or stopping in front of a door having forgotten something behind you. It's like breaking out of the longest kind of pause.

*****

Sometimes I think I hang around comics because in some deeply troubling way I'm not finished with them yet. It helps that comics-obsessed people my age benefit from another accident of cultural history, the good fortune of being dragged into new and exciting expressions of comics art at just the age we were ready to read them, a period 1980-1994 that shoved a lot of folks into their early 20s without any intention of missing the next big thing or just reveling in more of the same. That showering of riches, all the really good comics and the great ones and even the increasingly cleverly satisfying pulp wringing monthly miracles from tired characters, it's like comics made a promise to a certain group of us and then, for the most part, kept them.

Every person passionately interested in an art form thinks that passion fascinating. In other art forms, however, there's an ease and commercial context to that initial relationship that makes coming to terms with it an answer to a throwaway question on a panel, or the first response in a 10-part interview, the part most likely to be cut and something almost always laughed over. Comics is odd, a medium of heartbreak and musty smells and approximations, and it doesn't have an easy commercial element except for a lucky elite. A very small number of people take to them in that wholehearted way that seems more common to other media. Art comics has a tradition where not long ago its champions fell in love with the form when they had so little access to its history and lived in such artistically fallow times they had no choice but to believe in comics that hadn't been made yet. Like the physical items in many collections, we carry all of it with us, the comics we loved as a kid and all the barely-formed reasons why, the comics that opened our eyes, the comics that we attach to a time and place, the comics that devastated us as adult readers for their skill and insight, the comics that we helped other people enjoy. The model that dominates comics discourse is self-inventory.

imageI know less about comics than the day I took my first job in its North American industry. Some days I wonder if they aren't better understood on multiple continuities of genres like fantasy and memoir rather than as a thing unto themselves, others I'm sure I'm just about to find the secret, obvious link that connects Joe Maneely, Cliff Sterrett and Edmond Baudoin and present it in a way a child could understand. I'm curious about what's been lost when comics became for some of us something to consume in the presence of other comics fans rather than the viciously lonely but sustaining act reading them used to be. I question how I perceive reality differently for watching 100,000 fistfights without repercussion, millions of deaths executed somewhere off-panel. That's the ultimate failing of mainstream comics, right? They trade in realistic actions but the consequences and context slip further and further into fantasy, so that we stand stunned when a real world incident that wouldn't merit a panel of costumed adventure ruins lives and causes grief on an unimaginable scale. I question how many comics will finally be enough, and what's taking me so long to get there.

I'm not even sure I know how to read comics yet.

When I was younger, I would tell people that one reason I liked comics is that the beginning was just out of reach, that you could on a summer weekend shake the hands of men and women that at least for comic books were there at the start. You could comprehend the whole affair, particularly if you valued them first as art. The older I get the more I prefer the churn, the more I feel a kinship with the dead-ends and false starts and careers and companies that never quite took off, the ten-cent rooms and wicker baskets on porches at lake cottages over the hardcover editions and deftly arranged library holdings. At this point in my life I'd prefer to read the complete works of a defunct independent comics company from the 1980s than the fruits of the latest top 100 list. I'm sentimental now, and that's a part of it, but I also think there's something to a form that's constantly slipping out of your grasp, that's broader and deeper and weirder and more intense than even the excellent works that sifts to the top. Unlike prose or film or theater, we read comics as a window to other comics, comics we may never see, comics that may or may not be out there. We read all the comics we've ever read and all the comics we've yet to read.

****

I'm getting better. I'm still sick. Every day a nice lady comes over to the house and stuffs gauze into a hole in my body. I take pills. I'm on a strict diet that I can't ever quit. I feel beat up and exhausted, the Sunday morning of a four-day convention bender with two hours of sleep the last three evenings and a ripping headache but nothing in the way of happy memories to justify the diminished state. I can make it around the block on foot with some effort, but I need to lie down for a while afterwards. I can only sit up to write a few hours a day, and my concentration, my ability to make what I'm writing reflective of how I'm thinking, for better or for worse, that's been slippery. I feel less than wholly human.

I am extraordinarily lucky. Hundreds of millions of people go through worse every single day. Initial diagnosis aside, I won the health lottery something like five times in a row there. I am so, so, very lucky.

I realize that it's self-absorbed in the extreme to write something like this. As a writer, I need to write these things down so that I can possibly figure them out, both in the doing of it and then later on when I feel the need to look back.

My hope is that by publishing it some of you will start getting check-ups again if, like me, you'd stopped. I hope that you'll be skeptical of every initial diagnosis. I hope you embrace the inevitable fragilities of getting older with good humor and perspective and forgiveness. I hope that you're the friend and family member to someone else in this situation that my friends and family were to me. I hope that you take nothing for granted. If you don't have enough insurance to make this kind of thing easier on you and your family, and believe me when I say that minimum of comfort makes a world of difference, then I hope you'll at least familiarize yourself with the programs and processes that can help you. I hope that you'll step back and for a moment appreciate your seat on whatever side of the window you're on concerning your interaction with comics, this most remarkable and unlikely art form, and the range of human experiences on which it offers insight. I hope that you'll never substitute those things for experiences of your own.

The lesson this summer offered me was granted in the two hours in the ambulance on my way to surgery, when I was forced to look at my life as a potential whole unit, as something with a beginning and a middle and an end. It may have been denial, it may have been an emotional shutdown, but I had surprisingly few regrets, far fewer than used to come to me on an average sleepless night when I was totally healthy and completely terrified. I thought of my friends and family, each one in turn, and the extraordinary yet ordinary thing of loving people and being loved in return. When I die, I may or may not be remembered by a larger group of people for a moment or two. A smaller group of people will keep me with them for a longer while. Eventually those people will die as well, and I'll truly be gone. It's more than enough. People come to comics because they want to matter, but in every way that's important they already do.

I'm in a long aftercare program. I favor sprints over marathons, and now I'm plopped onto a road course that will last until the end of my life. It takes some getting used to. My prognosis is excellent, yet reversals are possible and setbacks are inevitable. A repeat performance isn't out of the question. As much as I continue to get better, as much as smiles greet me at the doctor's office as opposed to calm looks of concern, as much as I feel stronger and more capable and filled with more energy every time I get out of bed, I can't say with 100 percent certainty, "I'll be around this time next year."

Then again, neither can you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Jeffrey Jones In Swank Magazine

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Go, Look: 1970s/1980s Syndicate Advertisments

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Go, Read: Herb Trimpe Interview

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thanks, Gus Mastrapa
 
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Go, Bookmark: Current Destructor Story

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

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

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Happy 61st Birthday, Gary Larson!

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Happy 68th Birthday, John Costanza!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Jimmy Palmiotti!

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FFF Results Post #262 -- Alt-Four

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name An Alternative Fantastic Four: Four Characters #1-4 (Including One Woman) And At #5 The Creators That Would Handle The Comic Book." This is how they responded.

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Opus
2. Zot!
3. Power Girl
4. Charley the australopithecine
5. Steve Gerber (w) and Arthur Adams (p)

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Tom Stoppard
2. Rebecca Gilman
3. Tony Kushner
4. Alan Ayckbourn
5. Megan Kelso and Chester Brown

*****

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Dave Knott

* Alan Turing
* John von Neumann
* Grace Hopper
* Paul Erdos
* Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, and Kevin Cannon

*****

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Joe Keatinge

1) Pablo Picasso
2) Gertrude Stein
3) Ernest Hemingway
4) Henri Matisse
5) Marian Churchland

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Sean T. Collins
2. Johanna Draper Carlson
3. Tom Spurgeon
4. Brian Hibbs
5. Evan Dorkin

*****

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Milo George

1. Tom Collins
2. Brandy Alexander
3. Flaming Doctor Pepper
4. Harvey Wallbanger
5. Bill Finger & Wally Wood

*****

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Jim Wheelock

* Ida Lupino
* Shelley Winters
* Bettie Page
* Chuck Connors
* Howard Chaykin and Jordi Bernet

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Barry Bonds (The Human Torso)
2. Jose Canseco (Been Grim)
3. Professor Rocket Clemens
4. Debbie Clemens (The Invisible Witness)
5. From the House of Idolatry: Another tale of inflated triumph and inevitable tragedy from Joltin' Jeff Millar and (Wild) Bill Hinds

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Evel Knievel
2. J. Jay Arms
3. Kreskin
4. Andre the Giant
5. Steve Gerber and Butch Guice

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Moe Howard
2. Larry Fine
3. Curly Howard
4. Lucile Ball
5. Michael Maltese and Frank Tashlin

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Stephen Colbert
2. Nick Offerman
3. Alison Brie
4. Aziz Ansari
5. Ty Templeton and Cliff Chiang

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Kurt Cobain
2. Dave Grohl
3. Krist Novoselic
4. Courtney Love
5. Jonathan Lethem and Charles Burns

*****

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Brandon Graham

1. lucky luke
2. Obelix
3. Tintin
4. Jill Bioskop
5. Drawn by Duncan Fegrado and written by Carla Speed McNeil

*****

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Gary Usher

1. Tom Heintjes
2. Thom Powers
3. Tom Spurgeon
4. Helena G. Harvilicz
5. Harlan Ellison and Mike Diana

*****

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Vito Delsante

* John F. Kennedy
* John Lennon
* Patty Hearst
* Milton Bearle
* Alan Moore, JH Williams III and Jose Villarrubia

*****

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Eric Newsom

1. Dorothy Parker
2. Robert Benchley
3. John Peter Toohey
4. Alexander Woollcott
5. By George S. Kaufman & Al Hirschfeld

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Lionel Messi
2. Ronaldo
3. Jose Mourinho
4. Hope Solo
5. Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

*****

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Tony Collett

1. Bobby London
2. Ben Snakepit
3. Julia Wertz
4. Rob Liefeld
5. Tony Isabella & Fred Hembeck

*****

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John DiBello

1. Buddy Holly
2. Patsy Cline
3. Elvis Presley
4. Jerry Lee Lewis
5. Bill Griffith and Steve Dillon

*****

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Rob Clough

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Buddha
3. Albert Hoffman
4. Emily Dickinson
5. Steve Lafler

*****

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M. Emery

1. Christopher Hitchens
2. Richard Dawkins
3. Ayn Rand
4. George Carlin
5. Garth Ennis and Eddie Campbell

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Richard Dawkins
2. Mary Anne Hobbs
3. Bruce Dickinson
4. Ewan McGregor
5. Nick Blinko and Simon Gane

(Lemmy Kilmister as Doctor Doom)

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. Rena Titanon
2. Mr. Natural
3. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
4. The Death Ray
5. Dan Clowes and Jaime Hernandez

*****

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J.E. Cole

1: Peter Tachell
2: Harlan Ellison
3: Camille Paglia
4: Darkus Howe
5: China Mieville/Alan Moore and John Paul Leon

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Abraham Lincoln
2. Emily Dickinson
3. Herman Melville
4. Arthur Rimbaud
5. Written by Gabrielle Bell and Drawn by Brandon Graham

*****

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Matt Silvie

1. Stephen Hawking
2. Edith Massey
3. Klaus Kinski
4. Man-Thing
5. Written and drawn by Rick Altergott

*****

I tried to stick to contextual art and publicity photos. I apologize if I misappropriated something. All art will be removed Monday morning for archiving this one, and if you want something down sooner, just let me know.

*****

topic suggested by Stergios Botzakis, Ph.D; thanks, Dr. Botzakis

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


Video From A Recent Grant Morrison Signing At Midtown Comics
via


Steve Brodner Draws A Debt Ceiling Cartoon


CR Staff Photographer Whit Spurgeon In A Comedic Video Short


The AV Club Visits The Superman House
via
 
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August 13, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 6 to August 12, 2011:

1. A pair of British comics shops are damaged in that country's spate of riots, but only superficially and reports were that all stores in the region opened for New Comics Day.

2. Renton police suspend investigation of a local cartoonist that had been posting YouTube video playing up the department's foibles, certainly one of the more distressing assaults on free speech in recent memory even for as far as it got.

3. Philadelphia newspapers cut approximately ten strips combined, including two by prominent area cartoonists. Philadelphia is a major market and used to have the reputation as an early achievable one for a young cartoonist with a strip on the rise.

Winner Of The Week
Newly-announced retiree Ralph Macchio.

Loser Of The Week
Renton's police department and whatever goofball signed off on the original investigation.

Quote Of The Week
"Frankly, there's no amount of awareness that can pay the artist to be an artist. Asking female creators to donate their time and efforts for non-paying projects is, at best, ineffectual to the cause. There is no pedestal flattering enough, no validation tangible enough, to outvalue a month's worth of rent. And that's what we want -- for underrepresented artists to pay their rent, so we can see more incredible art from them." -- Meredith Gran

*****

today's cover is from the great comic book series Four-Color

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

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

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If I Were In Santa Monica, I'd Go To This

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Happy 59th Birthday, Donna Barr!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Shannon Wheeler!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Bret Blevins!

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Marvel Senior Editor Ralph Macchio Retires

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Congratulations to Ralph Macchio on 35 years at the company and his announced retirement. Given Marvel's tumultuous recent history in terms of ownership and editorial policies, staying there three decades-plus is an amazing thing. Searching his name on the Grand Comics Database yields 78 pages of editorial credits, including runs on important 1970s and 1980s comics as Master Of Kung Fu, Thor and Daredevil. If I remember correctly, he was a one-time assistant to Dennis O'Neil among others and one of his what I'm assuming is an army of assistants was Bob Harras.
 
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August 12, 2011


Francisco Solano López, RIP

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Renton Police Suspend Investigation Of Cartoonist

The Renton, Washington police department has suspended its investigation into an anonymous cartoonist that posted videos on the Internet satirizing the department's actions and personalities. A judge on Tuesday had suspended the search warrant by which the department hoped to uncover the real name of the cartoonist, and perhaps charge that person with some sort of cyber-stalking crime. The obvious First Amendment implications had critics nationwide but particularly in the region howling in protest, and hopefully the outcome will make a greater impression than the opportunity to pursue someone for a dubiously applied crime like the department's actions suggested was possible.
 
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Go, Look: Improv Night

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Scottish Cartoonist Accused Of Assaulting Daughter-In-Law

According to a story hitting international wire services this morning, the cartoonist Donald "Malky" McCormick will go to trial in December on charges of assaulting his daughter-in-law Nicola McCormick. McCormick reportedly seized her by the throat and hit her in the head several times with a stick. He's also charged with disorderly conduct for challenging people to a fight and banging the stick on a door. This all took place in the town of Fenwick on July 8.

McCormick is 68 years old; his daughter-in-law is half his age. The cartoonist's web site calls him Scotland's best known cartoonist and caricaturist. His clients include the Daily Record, Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph and an untold number of Scottish businesses and civic organizations.
 
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Go, Look: Joe White

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Your 2011 Shel Dorf Awards Nominees

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The second annual Shel Dorf Awards are asking for your vote. They're an awards program that was started last year in conjunction with the inaugural Detroit Fanfare show. They're named after Shel Dorf, a Detroit native and a longtime force in organized fandom usually associated with the early days and subsequent growth of Comic-Con International in San Diego.

The photos from last year's program indicates various themed awards are given out for lifetime achievement as well as the following awards by category for yearly work -- it could be that this is the first time those categorical awards are being offered, I can't all the way tell. The categories seem logically selected and "winning a Dorf" has an undeniable ring to it, so the program definitely has that going for it.

The 2011 nominees are:

Writer of the Year
* Jonathan Hickman
* Joe Hill
* Geoff Johns
* Robert Kirkman
* Rob M. Worley

Penciler of the Year
* Richard Bonk
* Guy Davis
* David Finch
* Jason Howard
* Ethan Van Sciver

Inker of the Year
* Mike Deodato
* Klaus Janson
* Andy Owens
* Wade von Grawbadger
* Scott Williams

Colorist of the Year
* Jeff Balke
* Jay Fotos
* Laura Martin
* Nei Ruffino
* Dave Stewart

Editor of the Year
* Shannon Eric Denton
* Shawna Gore
* Angela Ruffino
* Jim Salicrup
* Steve Wacker

Cover Artist of the Year
* Eric Basaldua
* Tim Bradstreet
* Tyler Kirkham
* Mike Mignola
* Alex Ross

Letterer of the Year
* Jim Campbell
* Jay Fosgitt
* Todd Klein
* Tom Orzechowski
* Bill Tortolini

Mini Series of the Year
* Artifacts
* Daytripper
* Flashpoint
* Locke & Key: Keys To the Kingdom
* Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard

Original Graphic Novel of the Year
* Brody's Ghost
* Cuba: My Revolution
* Earth One
* Market Day
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit

Web Comic of the Year
* Axe Cop, Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle
* FreakAngels, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield
* Girl Genius, Phil & Kaja Foglio
* Gutters, Ryan Sohmer
* Wombat Comic, Neil Bryer

Syndicated Print Strip of the Year
* Beardo, Dan Dougherty
* Non Sequitur, Wiley Miller
* Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis
* Speed Bump, Dave Coverly
* Zits, Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman

Comic To Multi-Media Adaption of the Year
* Captain America: The First Avenger
* DCUniverse Online
* Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
* The Walking Dead
* Thor

Comic Blogger of the Year
* Stefan Blitz (Forces of Geek)
* Michael Hamersky (Michael D. Hamersky On Comics)
* Rich Johnston (Bleeding Cool News)
* Heidi MacDonald (The Beat)
* Various Contributors (Robot 6)

Continuing Series of the Year
* Amazing Spider-Man
* American Vampire
* Fables
* Fantastic Four
* GI Joe: A Real American Hero
* Green Lantern
* Secret Six
* Sweet Tooth
* The Unwritten
* Usagi Yojimbo

Self Published Comic of the Year
* Bob Howard, Plumber of the Unknown, Rafael Nieves and Dan Doughterty
* Cursed Pirate Girl, Jeremy Bastian
* Echo, Terry Moore
* Lackluster World by Eric Adams
* Reed Gunther, Shane and Chris Houghton
* The Uniques, Comfort Love and Adam Withers

Kids' Comic of the Year
* Little Green Men
* Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard
* Owly
* Scratch 9
* Tiny Titans

Winners will receive their awards at Detroit Fanfare on September 24.
 
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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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Go, Look: Jack Kirby Using Nine Panels For An Action Page

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* The Comix Claptrap is back, and your hosts are speaking to Anne Koyama of Koyama Press.

image* on the occasion of the first volume of Fantagraphics' reprinting of the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse hitting the market, Jim Korkis tells the largely forgotten story of Malibu's attempt to publish those same strips some twenty years ago.

* I hope it works out that the original Thor quit to appear in unpublished issues of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, because those adventures were much more pleasant than the ones he's in now.

* not comics: I love not-all-there Patty Duke.

* the chief editor of the Kickstarter sensation Womanthology project shows up in a comments thread at The Beat to talk about the scrutiny the project has received. At TCJ, Dan Nadel suggests he could do four premium anthologies and pay everyone a good page rate for the amount of money that project received on Kickstarter. Womanthology isn't paying any of its contributors. I believe you should pay contributors and certainly you should if there's money to do so, but of course other people disagree and they're certainly allowed to proceed the way they want to -- just as I and others are allowed to voice our dissenting views and make comment on the general practice.

* also, Nadel is right about this Atlantic list. Not only are none of the named books masterpieces (some smart people think The Photographer has that status, granted), some of them are uninspired if not outright awful comics.

* not comics: and then there was that time that Bill Gaines got stuck in the arm of the Statue Of Liberty.

* does anyone else find the phrase "potty mouth" just a tiny bit more disgusting than a similar combination of actual curse words? Maybe for some people Pearls Before Swine is one of those works of popular art where your memory has the characters cussing even though they didn't, like Sanford and Son or Cannon.

* this is like my manga collection, only the exact opposite.

* whenever I'm reading a comic book western, I'm always dying for more superhero continuity.

* go, look: Evan Dorkin draws Sin City and Skeleton Key.

* the SEC alleges that a 26-year-old man whose girlfriend worked in Disney corporate practiced insider trading by buying options based on knowledge of the Marvel-Disney deal.

* excellent.

* finally, a smattering of late-in-the-week reviews: Hayley Campbell digs into Like A Sniper Lining Up His Shot, which gets the "awesome title" award if nothing else; Christopher Allen drills deep on Asterix And The Black Gold; Johnny Bacardi dissects a bunch of books at once.
 
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Happy 29th Birthday, Chris Sims!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Akimi Yoshida!

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August 11, 2011


Go, Read: Seth On Boycotting Marvel

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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* SPX has just announced its 2011 programming slate. At a first glance, the Woodring, Thompson, Nilsen, Brown and Beaton/Chast panels look really interesting.

* today sees the launch of this year's Wizard show in Chicago, once the clear #2 show in the U.S. but now probably best known as the top show in Wizard's line-up of various, never-ending conventions focused on geek culture more generally. Chicago is a great comics town, particularly for mainstream comics consumption, and the outside-the-city location of the show allows for a lot of people from Indianapolis to Akron to Milwaukee to Chicago's own substantial suburban sprawl to make highway-easy road trips on an extended summer weekend. (In that way the show connects back to its pre-Wizard roots; as a teenager I used to make that trip with friends from Syracuse, Indiana, with a quick dip into the city itself for carry-out from Arturo's on Western on the way home.) You can read about the show's comics-making contingent here, which is certainly stuffed with respectable names but remains a far cry from the show's recent heyday when the now-defunct print magazine's pull meant the show could count on at least a small group of established headliners. Update: A reader suggests fewer old Chicago Con stories and more analysis of Wizard's PR.

* MoCCA sent out a letter yesterday explaining their position in scheduling their decade-old NYC comics festival the same weekend as Stumptown and one week before the growing-in-popularity TCAF. Stumptown's Indigo Kelleigh had earlier released a conciliatory note here. I think despite the clumsy phrasing which sets up some dissonance between the idea of simply finding dates and finding dates that please the exhibitors (the letter seems to suggest there was a choice of dates and MoCCA picked the ones in conflict with other shows because the exhibitors wanted them, as opposed to being forced into specific dates simply because of the difficulty of booking space in NYC), I believe the vast majority of people understand and accept their decision and don't really have a mad-on for them in any way, shape or form. Both shows draw on deep pools of local talent and should have no problem filling every available table. To be honest: As a con attendee, given a choice between these two shows that I've attended and enjoyed, I would sit them both out if it made attending TCAF easier.

* this article suggests two non-mainstream comics people that will be in attendance at WW Chicago: Bloomington's Nate Powell and Chicago's own Ivan Brunetti. I think John Porcellino said he's going to try the show for one day, too.

* I recommended Graham Annable's Flickr stream in another post this morning. Not only had I missed that entire giant collection of cartoons, but I specifically missed this fine on-line comic about TCAF 2011.

* the Canadian-focused comics site Sequential interviews Shannon Campbell, the organizer of the recently announced Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. It's encouraging to see that Chris Butcher of the Toronto show on which this show will be largely modeled has been solicitous (I know Chris a little bit and didn't think he'd get proprietary or weird, but it's still nice to hear!) and to hear statements like this: "Our goal with VanCAF is to create something distinct and complimentary to Vancouver's other events: an open festival that is free for the public to attend, entirely focused on comics, and that brings in a number of out-of-town artists while still featuring plenty of locals." I think open festivals are a great thing generally and the potential for such an event in Vancouver, one of the great North American cities, has me fired up.

* the writer and veteran con warrior Mark Evanier talks about Comic-Con and comic conventions generally for those with an aversion to crowds.

* finally, bookmark and save: R.M. Rhodes created a map of "good eats" around the location of the forthcoming Small Press Expo.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Julie Doucet's Tumblr Account

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via Bill Kartalopoulos
 
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Go, Look: Martin Rowson On The UK Riots

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I'm not familiar in any meaningful way with the deep roster of UK editorial cartoonists, but there are a few that spring to mind when a story hits like that of the recent UK riots. Steve Bell seems to be on vacation, but Martin Rowson has provided a series of handsome-looking cartoons here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

What's fascinating to me is that unlike U.S. cartoonists Rowson is not immediately penalized or dismissed for failing to strictly cling to some bizarre notion of this-side/that-side balance, and that the imagery itself can be somewhat obtuse and his readers are still able to pick up on what he's saying.
 
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Go, Look: Graham Annable On Flickr

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Go, Read: Simons Furman + Williams Eulogize Marvel UK

imageAlbert Ching at Newsarama caught up with writer Simon Furman and artist Simon Williams about the May death of Marvel's longtime efforts to make comics in the UK for UK readers, an endeavor that stretches back to the late 1970s and for the last dozen or so years has continued under an arrangement with the Italian media company Panini. The Disney partnership essentially brought this to a quick end.
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It's interesting to me in that having a separate creative source for a separate market seems like the more modern thing to do, and bringing all such comics back under the central control of the main publisher seems like the way things would have worked in decades past -- rather than the other way around. It's also a loss of a specific freelance market that likely hits dozens of creators, and that's not a small thing in this market. I can't speak to the creative legacy having read very few of the actual comics, even the lauded ones, but the fact that there are these comics that exist on a different path from Marvel's main course, and that their story is now complete, seems inviting in a way that's hard to describe to someone that's never been a hardcore fan of comics at some point in their lives.

Graeme McMillan comments here.
 
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Go, Look: Some Wally Wood Original Art

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Go, Read: Meredith Gran On The Value Of Paying People

You've probably already seen it discussed, but if you've been reluctant to go read the cartoonist Meredith Gran's lengthy suggestion that a way to help women in comics is to pay them, stop and go read it: it's a well-written, smart post. Gary Tyrrell suspects that an impetus for that post was that a recently announced and massively successfully crowd-funded anthology to feature female creators offers exposure and perhaps some sort of exposure-driven program instead of pay; whether or not that was her intention, it's hard for me to believe people could discuss Gran's lengthy statement and not bring this up as a matter of contention. That project now has enough money to pay its contributors and should, just as comics in general should get over its embrace of the subtle, pernicious exploitation of constantly accepting or even suggesting free work from people. Comics has a few charities where free work is appropriate. I'm not certain it is anywhere else, and I'm not sure we're tough enough as an arts culture in demanding from people who accept labor that they're responsible for not just a plan for what to do with it but for bringing a checkbook to the table. We can all do better, myself included.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Can This Be Real?

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Marvel's promotion to trade retailers their DC comics covers for a variant Marvel comic is fairly lame because a) they've done it before and b) it assumes a clear creative and market leader position that Marvel has less claim to right now than they might have a few years back, but this article at Wired that compares it to destroying literature or buying books to burn them is so insanely silly I have to wonder if it's a parody.

* here's a long survey-style article on the state of journalism through comics.

* Paul Gravett talks up a forthcoming Comica event by discussing its subject matter and some of the creators that will be in attendance. It's all about war.

image* this Giant Robot interview with Anders Nilsen is very short, but I can't imagine getting two words out that would make sense doing an interview at Comic-Con, so I'm suitably impressed.

* not comics: here's the second half of that Jonathan Rosenbaum essay on Walt Disney.

* I totally missed this article on Ben Katchor and temporal palimpsests. Ditto this long post from Bully on various artistic interpretations of the Fantastic Four origin that have been published over the years. It's funny how important that moment is in Marvel's overall narrative and every telling of it kind of stinks. Speaking of Marvel's first modern superhero team, Martin Wisse backs me up on my not caring for placing those characters in the 1960s.

* the artist and illustrator Simon Gane posts some pretty art.

* I remember there was a time when calling a book Wolverine And The X-Men was a way to crack on Uncanny X-Men for featuring too much Wolverine. In other mainstream comics news, Milo George reminds us that the best Red Skull was Frank Robbins' batshit Red Skull with the head that looked like a child made it from red clay.

* whoa.

* three interviews worth reading: James Romberger talks to Anders Nilsen for PW; Kristy Valenti chats with Jim Rugg for TCJ; Thea Liberty Nichols discusses art-type things with Lilli Carre for art:21. (The last one via Robert Boyd.)

* Jason Aaron and Jared Fletcher talk lettering.

* not comics: let's all look at Mimi Pond's house. And then the house/studio of Genevieve Castree and Phil Elverum. And then the place where Tove Jansson lived. This is sort of creepy.

* Kevin Czap has strong feelings about Alan Moore.

* I bet the British Newspaper Strip Club is nothing like the very Seth-like image I have in my head.

* Rob Clough looks at some autobio; Sean T. Collins digs into The Heavy Hand; J. Caleb Mozzocco works his way through Ghosts In The House!; Mick Martin is doing a series where he reviews every volume of Lone Wolf And Cub; Alan David Doane discusses his his choices for best comics of all time.

* Freddie Moyer?

* here's an older comic from Eddie Campbell. It's intriguing to me how quickly a lot of cartoonists settle into a version of their current style that's recognizable as their current style, and it's also a treat to see work that's not quite there to see all the directions they could have gone. Update: Eddie Campbell has since written me e-mail to say that he was drawing a specific way and his style wasn't still in development. I withdraw the point!

* finally a pair of pretty, forthcoming covers.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Jim Lee!

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August 10, 2011


This Isn't A Library: 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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

MAY110284 DARK RAIN A NEW ORLEANS STORY SC (MR) $19.99
I greatly enjoy Simon Gane's artwork; here's a preview of the book, which I think is a crime book set in New Orleans in and around Hurricane Katrina, from back when the hardcover was coming out.

imageMAY110784 FORMING HC $29.95
This is a beautiful-looking book from nobrow (via AdHouse) featuring Jesse Moynihan's on-line strip. I'm looking forward to diving in when it surface on the top of the pile, and it was tempting to have it jump its place in line. If you're in a shop today that has it, definitely look it over.

FEB110377 ARCHIES MAD HOUSE HC VOL 01 (NOTE PRICE) $34.99
I lack the focused familiarity with the Archie books for me to know how the "Mad House" or more out there material compares to the more traditional stuff of which I'm aware, but I'd sure like to look at it and see.

APR110515 MORNING GLORIES #11 (MR) $2.99
I think this Image series does very well, and like other series hits from Image it's fun to see how strongly the authors play one or two notes to really drive home the compulsive, serial nature of such works.

JUN110605 FEAR ITSELF FELLOWSHIP OF FEAR FEAR $3.99
This listing reminded me of the Monty Python spam sketch.

JUN110667 SUPER HEROES #17 $2.99
Is there really a comic book called "Super Heroes"?

JUN111245 BLANKETS HC $39.95
This is the re-release that coincides with the forthcoming release of Craig Thompson's Habibi; at the very least it gives the author multiple books in which to write his name during signings.

JAN111386 TEZUKAS BLACK JACK TP VOL 15 (RES) $16.95
That's a lot of Black Jack, and I assume we're getting close to the end of that material. I'm not the biggest fan, but millions of readers have certainly loved that series.

JUN111138 BAD ISLAND GN $10.99
JUN111137 BAD ISLAND HC $24.99
This is more Doug TenNapel, who is one prolific creator right now. Because of the availability in two formats, this has to be from Scholastic.

FEB110732 SECRET HISTORY BOOK 16 (MR) $5.95
I should be able to make a clever comparison to League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen here, but nothing's popping into my head. Sorry. I do enjoy this straight-ahead, slightly gonzo, slightly paranoid time-spanning adventure comic whenever it crosses my desk and I'm sure I'll enjoy the latest chapter, too.

APR111003 NIPPER TP VOL 02 1965-1966 $16.95
Another little volume of primetime Doug Wright, whose art is stunning to behold.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Mattias Adolfsson's Sketchbook Comic

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the artist behind the great cartoon images blog Mattias Inks ran a couple of sketchbook comics pages recently: part one, part two
 
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Another British Comics Shop Damaged By Violence

This time, Joe Gordon of Forbidden Planet International writes in, it was the Manchester FPI store that had its storefront damage in the waves of rolling violence that are shuddering through the country right now. He says the damage was much like yesterday's report of harm done the Nostalgia & Comics storefront. "Luckily as with our N&C lot the storefront was damaged but they never got into the store itself and the staff were all fine, thank goodness." He also says that tracking the story was "in a weird way uplifting" because of so many fans and well-wishers expressing concern on twitter and on Facebook. A Wolverhampton store that was rumored to be in the midst of similar street turmoil reported back to Gordon that they have escaped so far without damage. Gordon also promises in that note and in this blog post (which has a photo of damaged glass) that their stores will be open for business today, serving fans and readers on New Comics Day as best as they're able location to location.
 
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Missed It: Sarah McIntyre's China Travel Diary

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via; I'm glad they found it because I sure didn't
 
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Update On Philadelphia Newspapers Cutting Strips

Mark Tatulli wrote into CR to clue me on to this article at a Philadelphia-focused blog that better details recent cuts in the city's newspaper strip offerings. It's apparently more than one paper, and there have been more than four strips feeling the axe if you broaden the context past this week into recent history.

imageThe article reports that the Inquirer cut Sally Forth, Overboard, Non Sequitur, Hagar The Horrible, Ziggy, Rex Morgan, MD and Tatulli's own Lio. The Daily News rid itself of several cartoons including Family Tree and Candorville.

The post also says that Tatulli is local (I don't have any reason to disbelieve them, although for some reason I thought he was in Vermont), which when combined with the fact that they even supported his early offering Bent Halos makes the decision to drop Lio particularly loopy. Signe Wilkinson does Family Tree, and she is of course a huge editorial cartoonist presence in that city. There was a time when a local cartoonist doing a nationally syndicated strip not only stayed in the paper, they received prime position and the page was built around that effort. I'm also particularly sad for Non Sequitur and Candorville, two strips in the prime of their syndication lives that contrast sharply with pleasingly done legacy strips.

It seems to me, and this is just a hunch, that there's such a massive disconnect between readers and the newspapers now that almost anything can be done on the comics page without passionate reprisal. Where 30 years ago dropping what the newsroom considered a paper's least significant comic would trigger a flurry of letters and phone calls, now people just shrug their shoulders and, over time, read fewer papers.
 
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Go, Look: A Visit With The Fantastic Four

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Go, Read: Terry Moore On Digital Platforms

The cartoonist Terry Moore speaks here in direct, concise fashion on finding a digital comics platform that works for his latest venture and digital comics generally. The impetus is a rigidity in the Direct Market that has an impact on everyone but especially independent creators offering new titles. Moore was fairly forward in establishing a beachhead in bookstores when that market began to present opportunities for comics creators, and he's not afraid to speak his mind, so I would imagine his thoughts encapsulate a lot of his fellow creators' opinions on the matter. I think he's right in that the lack of a workable, point-to-it business model at this point should be a huge concern; he's also right in that the doomsayers have been around since forever.
 
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Go, Look: Will Morris

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Go, Read: Censorship Of Underground Comics App For iPhone Discussed By App Creator At Imprint

I'm just now catching up to this one, and if you haven't read it already here's the short interview by Michael Dooley talking to app creator Kim Munson. Basically what seems to have happened is that an app designed to bring a selection of underground comics art to digital device users was approved for the iPad with a bunch of warnings but had to have multiple images censored in order to be approved for iPhone. I don't really see this as the same thing as escorting a publicity-hungry actress from the grounds for wearing a revealing costume except in the broadest of terms. What's scary is that Apple is obviously a dominant market force and if their corner of this market comes with obvious, content-altering restrictions, then almost nothing has changed in the last 25 years except the person with the spray paint can is drawing a private rather than a public salary. It's hard for me to believe this can even be an issue given what's out there on the Internet and available to everyone with three clicks of a mouse.
 
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Go, Look: Bernie Wrightson Illustrates The Stand

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Go, Look: The Girls From Esquire (1952)

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Jog writes about Phoebe Gloeckner in that weekly new comics round-up he does where he always seem to write at length on some barely related topic. It's about "Minnie's 3rd Love" specifically, and I've always thought that an astonishing comic.

image* Timothy Callahan is buying Cerebus, lots of Cerebus. By the way, I read the full version of Tim Kreider's piece on Cerebus in the new Journal and it's really good. Kreider provides a smart and very sympathetic reading, although I'm not sure a super-devoted Cerebus fan would see it that way.

* not comics: I did not know that Frances Bean Cobain has an Al Columbia tattoo.

* comics historian Mark Evanier explains to a reader of his blog how Fantastic Four could have come out in August 1961 despite having a date on it that says November 1961.

* for all that the Fantastic Four comics worked in the 1960s, I'm somehow not a big fan of placing the characters in the 1960s. That's a nice picture and everything, I just don't get a thrill out of seeing those characters "in their time" the way someone could surmise I might from my affection for the original Lee-Kirby run. What can I say? I'm complicated.

* Rob Clough reviews Isle Of 100,000 Graves. By the way, since a dozen or so of you asked, reviews return to this site after Labor Day, when I hope to offer a straight four-or-more-reviews-per-week run right until mid-December. Thanks for your patience.

* book publishers always try to get authors of new books to write something for a newspaper editorial in the area of their expertise; I wonder if cartoonists will start doing that, too?

* that was a particularly sad new comics day.

* not comics: I'm not exactly sure why, but this post from Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson killed me.

* wow, that's a lot of X-Men. What's the identity of that Rocky Joe-looking dude in the front row? Also, I forget the codename and even the first name of the Proudstar character, but having a knife out when you're posing for a group picture is just weird.

* finally, I'm pretty certain that this link to an old Amazing Heroes Preview Special for a Fantagraphics collaboration with Alan Moore that never quite happened came from TCJ.com.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Eddie Campbell!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Scott Bukatman!

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August 9, 2011


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* Sparkplug Comics announced the imminent arrival of Passage, a 32-page comic from acclaimed mini-comics maker Tessa Brunton. Brunton talks about getting a box of her new comic book in the mail here.

* in more always-welcome news about cartoonists of whom I'm only dimly aware making comic book debuts, Top Shelf has solicited an 80-page stand-alone book from Jennifer Hayden called Underwire.

image* while waiting out publishing delays on their much anticipated Carter Family biography to shake loose, Dave Lasky and Frank Young made a graphic novel about the Oregon Trail. I would have just sat around and complained a lot.

* I'm not certain if the idea of selling all of DC's September re-launch comics for $104 after tax is an idea that more stores are considering and not just The Beguiling, or if DC endorses it or not, but that strikes me as a really good idea.

* I keep on forgetting to link to this very good news for a lot of comics fans from a couple of weeks back: Raina Telgemeier will follow up her briskly selling and Eisner winning Smile with a book called Drama. It's due in Fall 2012, and as it's about the rich subject of young theater geeks, I imagine it has a chance to sell very, very well.

* not comics: I'm a fiend for cartoonist-made postcards (Jordan Crane and Tom Gauld are particular favorites), so word that Chronicle has released a book of cards featuring work from Paul Hornschemeier is great news.

* this is interesting, if I'm reading it correctly: Lewis Trondheim is conducting some sort of virtual cartoonists' workshop through the pages of Spirou.

* I'm not certain I knew a new Jason book was coming out as soon as two months from now. It looks like an odds and ends book with a lot of relative Jason rarities.

* Von Allan is asking for your help in spreading the word about his Stargazer, Vol. 2.

* Bill Day is the latest cartoonist to join Cagle Cartoons.

* Austin English is working on a new story called My Friend Perry.

* hey, there's a new issue of kuš! out. It features Latvian artists from other fields making comics.

* via the 211 Bernard blog comes word of two not-comics publishing projects that I completely missed: a new Yeti is out; McSweeney's has a kids book line.

* nobody answer him so we keep getting these previews.

* Cole Moore Odell and Patrick Ford both wrote in about my confusion over how Kirby's run on Green Arrow could support a new omnibus edition, each of them pointing out that the book also contains all of the random (meaning non-Challengers Of The Unknown) work that Kirby did for DC back in the 1950s. Thanks, guys.

* here's good news from the writing-about-comics perspective: a new issue of Charlton Spotlight will drop this Fall after a three-year hiatus. (thanks, John Vest)

* finally, congratulations to Doug TenNapel on bringing his 150-page Ratfist to an end in its on-line serialization iteration.

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*****
 
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Graphic Arts Festival Confirms Crumb's Withdrawal

imageNews slipped out yesterday that Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb had decided not to travel to Australia to headline Sydney's Graphic Arts Festival, due to an unpleasant newspaper article about the artist's work accusing him of sexual deviancy, which the couple believed might lead to unpleasantness and even the potential for violence on the ground. The Festival has since confirmed, meaning that initial efforts to get the cartoonist to attend were unsuccessful.

Crumb was going to be interviewed on stage and participate alongside Jim Woodring and Reg Mombassa in what is described in news stories as a workshop.

I heard from organizer Jordan Verzar in a brief e-mail this morning. He sent along some pertinent links, like a Facebook page devoted to urging the cartoonist to attend and the main Facebook page where the withdrawal is discussed. On a first glance, it seems as if fans are critical of the newspaper article rather than the cartooning couple. Verzar emphasized that the show -- which debuted last year -- would go on, and pointed to events like this one as an example of the festival's diverse offerings. Those who bought tickets to the planned Crumb event will be offered refunds and tickets to other events. I hope the show goes really well, and my sympathies extend to Verzar for something completely out of his control.

The festival takes place August 20-21.
 
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Go, Look: Cartoonists Draw Recipes For Saveur.com

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Not Comics: Charles Schulz Home Up For Sale

Charles Schulz joins Al Hirschfeld as late cartoonists with former homes currently up for sale that are stressing their connection to the famous artist. This was the Santa Rosa home in which Schulz lived for approximately a quarter century, and was purchased for what these days sounds like a ludicrous quarter million dollars in the early 1970s (It's on sale now for over $2 million at what the post says is a reduced price).

Although a dozen years passed between the Schulzes selling the house and it being put on the market again, which means there's no trace of their specific decorative touches. It's still fun to look at the photos, if only for a time when a successful syndicated cartoonist could make his way to this kind of acquisition and it was considered a normal thing.
 
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Go, Read: The Specifics Of Which

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Birmingham's Nostalgia & Comics Damaged In Riots

Via the Forbidden Planet International blog comes word that their Nostalgia & Comics store in Birmingham was damaged as recent riots spread outside of London and into other English cities. It appears as if the primary damage was to the store's windows rather than the people taking stock; none of the employees were around when it happened and they are returning to work full hours today.

Nostalgia & Comics is perhaps best known for its specific attention to indie- and alt-comics, although my understanding is that it's a full-service comics store. It is also one of Great Britain's earliest comic shops, dating back to the late 1970s and getting started due to the efforts of early UK fanzine maker and convention organizer Phil Clarke. It became an affiliate of Forbidden Planet in 1997. You can read about the store in a 30th anniversary profile here.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Classic Joe Kubert Art On Tor

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Lisa Benson's redistricting cartoon came under fire for what some felt was a racist message; Benson explains her work here.

image* I'm really burnt out on interviews right now, but this talk with Brandon Graham is pretty swell. Any interview that quickly lays out a couple of humorous stories featuring Moritat is my kind of interview. I worry that we don't have an industry right now that best supports a talent like Graham.

* Poopsheet Foundation reviews The Wolf. Rob Clough reviews Mascots. Chris Allen reviews the first part of TCJ #301. Reviews Godfather R. Fiore reviews that Luc Besson Adele Blanc-Sec movie that never came out in the U.S. so that The Change-Up could have 300 more screens. Todd Klein reviews Dark Rain, a book I'm dying to see as I'm a huge mark for Simon Gane.

* I love when Barry & Leon at Secret Acres do one of their giant, now seemingly monthly posts.

* the artist Becky Cloonan gives an impassioned answer to a question about doing what she does full-time and as a living.

* here's an article type as common as the Local Cartoonist Profile: cartoonists delight in new scandal.

* from the writer Matt Maxwell comes word that Alex Sheikman has devoted some blog space to writing about comics short stories: 1, 2, 3.

* someday we'll get back all the Kirby.

* I would pay full price every evening it was in town for a Chester Brown movie starring Sean T. Collins' choice for Brown in the leading role.

* finally, the great Floyd Gottfredson is profiled.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Posy Simmonds!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Ted Stearn!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Rick Leonardi!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Bob McLeod!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Josh Neufeld!

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August 8, 2011


Robert Crumb Pulls Out Of Sydney Appearance

He was apparently upset by the tone of a major newspaper article about his appearance, says one of the same publisher's newspapers. Hopefully Jordan Verzar can talk him into reconsidering.
 
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Philadelphia Inquirer Drops Four Strips Including Lio

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I'm not sure of all of the strips were dropped or how the funnies page was reconfigured around dropping so few features, but Terry LaBan mentioned on Facebook this morning that the Philadelphia Inquirer dropped four strips (none of which were his Edge City), while Mark Tatulli confirmed via the same avenue that his Lio was a casualty. He's already rallying the troops to have the strip reinstated. I remember that a dozen years ago, an Inquirer slot was consider an excellent and achievable perch for a strip in its first few years meaning a big market and a reasonably progressive comics page.
 
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Not Comics: Illustrations By The Great Matt Fox

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MoCCA Festival 2012 Same Weekend As Stumptown Comics Fest

I'm glad Heidi MacDonald picked up on this, because I sure didn't. The MoCCA Festival has announced its 2012 dates for the exact same weekend as Portland's Stumptown Comics Fest. As Dustin Harbin patiently explains in the comments thread, this means that a number of small-press cartoonists will lose an important venue to exhibit and sell work. Another poster points out that Stumptown clashed with SPACE this year in much the same way MoCCA will overlap with Stumptown this year, to little obvious impact. I suspect that this will add to the slowly growing chorus of dissatisfaction with MoCCA, but like many successful shows there will almost certainly be enough exhibitors to make a full house at the New York event. It might help MoCCA that Stumptown is in the middle of a transitional period from small hall to convention center, which if history is any indication means that they're probably not at their most-loved right now.
 
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Modern Marvel Comics Turns 50 Years Old Today

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Mark Evanier says that Fantastic Four #1 hit the stands 50 years ago today, and I certainly believe him when he says things like that. The Stan Lee and Jack Kirby effort, distinguished by its blending of genres and Kirby's raw, powerful and accessible art, kick-started one of the great sustained creative efforts in comics history: the Marvel superhero books of the early to mid/late 1960s. Fantastic Four itself would become one of the line's twin flagships and the initial run featuring Lee and Kirby is frequently placed on Best-Of all-time lists. I personally think it the finest superhero comic of all time, particularly an astonishing run of creative energy, character creation and consistently powerful art the title enjoyed from 1965 to 1967.

While it's painful but necessary given events this summer to remember that Jack Kirby did not as fully participate as he might have in the eventual rewards that have been showered on Marvel-published creations he played a tremendous, crucial part breathing to life, I think it's also always a positive to take a moment and think of Marvel's best books not as eventual high-concepts in the making to be exploited by other media but as extremely well-executed, vibrant and flat-out fun comic books.
 
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Go, Look: Jonathan Bennett Remembers Nevermind

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it's on Facebook, so you may not want to click through if that's a hassle or a no-go
 
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Death of Former NY Post Cartoonist Linked To Heroin Ring

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The recent death of Bay Rigby, the son of legendary Australian cartoonist Paul Rigby and a well-known cartoonist and illustrator in his own right, has led police to connect his passing with that of actor David Ngoombujarra and seven others in west Australia including but not limited to the port city of Fremantle where Rigby currently made his home. The connecting cause seems to be a potent form of heroin that's hit that region scene; a police eyewitness claims to have seen Rigby take a combination of heroin and amphetamines a week before is death. An organized crime investigation has been launched.

The 48-year-old Rigby was found dead in his current studio/home in a small building on the property of a friend on July 28, 11 days after the death of his actor friend. The narrative established in the newspapers indicates that the pair were drinking buddies that drifted into the consumption of hard drugs. Rigby's most prominent cartooning gig a mid-1980s run contributing to the Page Six offering from the New York Post. In addition to his native country, posts on his Facebook wall indicate Rigby also lived for different periods in Boston (where he worked for the Boston Globe) and New York. He is survived by a brother, three sisters and their mother.
 
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Go, Look: Gene Colan, The Timely Years

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posted 12:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Renton Police Vs. Cartoonist Update

It looks like the news story about the Renton (WA) police department seeking to uncover the name of a cartoonist that made videos lampooning their behavior and prosecute that person under cyber-stalking laws may have run its initial course. Where it goes from here depends on the outcome of attempted prosecution and any backlash facing the department, the prosecutor and the judge. The original news source breaking the story has uncovered that the King County prosecutor's office refused to issue an indictment, which led department representatives to take it to Renton to see if what they wanted could be found there. This builds on criticism focused on the department's overreaction to the cartoons, which would become infinitely more publicized were the prosecution to move forward. As it is, a misdemeanor charge may still be sought, which while not the five years a felony charge could bring may still have a chilling effect on free speech in and out of the cartoon arts.

The Renton officials involved in the story are named in this blog post.
 
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Gabrielle Bell: Read The Comic, Buy Some Books, Win A Print

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Go, Read: Lengthy Profile Of Dave Moriaty Of Rip-Off Press

I can't imagine a better use of a coffee break this morning than to spend time with this Austin-American Statesman profile of Dave Moriaty, present in Austin during that city's vital period as a precursor to the more full-blown underground comics movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s and a co-founder of Rip Off Press. There's a lot of fun in the details and analysis from Moriaty himself and underground comix historian supreme Patrick Rosenkranz, including an amusing story of how Moriaty met his late wife and talk of the Playboy article that increased some comics print runs ten times what they were before it hit.

The article also has a news element: Moriaty suggests that remaining Rip Off operator Fred Todd is thinking about finally shutting down the long-time publisher, primarily a vehicle for Gilbert Shelton's Freak Brothers work.
 
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Go, Look: Seuling Convention Program Art

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Go, Look: Even More Jacky's Diary

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Ben Towle discusses the James Sturm and Art Baxter response in comics form to Understanding Comcis, "Build A Beach Head," with commentary from the creators. Towle makes the great point that Understanding Comics has power simply because it's presented as text, and the Sturm-Baxter work is one of the few to question some of its basic assumptions while being presented in a style that matches McCloud's equally persuasive use of comics.

image* no one sells comics like Frank Santoro sells comics. Literally, no one else sells them like this.

* the third person in the site's history of mentioning birthdays wrote in to say they were dismayed by having their age revealed. As always, I'm happy to delete an entry upon anyone's request. Just to be clear: to the best of my knowledge, I don't reveal anyone's age that's not out there on the Internet already. Also, I'm deeply uninterested in wishing people a happy birthday sans their age. For me, 90 percent of what's interesting about the birthdays is marking the age of certain cartoonists and comics people, which I think adds specific historical context to a wide variety of matters. Being reminded that the bulk of the 1970s and early 1980s indie creators are at the very least approaching 60 has changed the urgency with which I write about certain industry issues, and knowing that many if not most of the underground creators are ten years older than that alters my expectations for further works from certain groups of cartoonists. I have to admit, I also lack whatever gene it takes to fully understand why anyone not a Hollywood actress creeping towards 40 would want to lie about their age or hide it from view. Still, we all have our hang-ups and our preferences and I'm happy to delete those notices when asked.

* veteran convention warrior Mark Evanier muses on WonderCon, and the potential for it to be somewhere other than San Francisco next Spring.

* I've always liked the Black Terror. That's a pretty freaky costume in the context of its day, plus that name says "I have serious mental problems and I'm going to inflict them on you."

* I would sort of hope the bioethics industry had more on its plate than to be able to fret over the implications of the narrative in the Captain America, but from what people are sending along maybe that's just me.

* Amazon.com may be one heck of a comics retailer, but they're kind of a jerky one.

* more classic Richard Sala illustrations.

* not comics: Johanna Draper Carlson catches word that Jordan Crane's The Last Lonely Saturday has been adapted into a short film. It could be that everyone already knew that.

* following Graeme McMillan following Jim Shooter's blog finally paid off: he notes the publication of post-legal action (from Disney) Howard The Duck character sketches.

* hey, there's a Gary Panter Fans group on Facebook.

* finally, Richard Thompson presents not one, not two but three comics about cicadas.
 
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Happy 87th Birthday, Gene Deitch!

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August 7, 2011


CR Sunday Interview: Brannon Costello

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this interview has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Relocation Contemplation

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Go, Look: Re-Colored Jack Kirby 2001 Art

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Go, Look: Love For The Vigilante

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Go, Look: Love For Hup

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Go, Look: Yet More Early John Stanley Work

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

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

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Happy 48th Birthday, Sasa Rakezic!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Paul Dini!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Tommi Musturi!

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posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #261 -- Hall Of Names

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Creators You Think Won't Get In The Eisner Hall Of Fame That You'd Like To see In There." This is how they responded.

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John Vest

1. Jack Chick
2. George Baker
3. Reg Smythe
4. David Boswell
5. Wayne Howard

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Nell Brinkley
2. Ethel Hays
3. Virginia Huget
4. Shary Flenniken
5. Nicole Hollander

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* David Boswell
* Jorge Zaffino
* Frank Hampson
* Frank Bellamy
* Mike McMahon

*****

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Bob Temuka

1. Carlos Ezquerra
2. Murray Ball
3. Dave Cockrum
4. Evan Dorkin
5. Lee Falk

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. John Ostrander
2. Rick Veitch
3. Roberta Gregory
4. Gary Larson
5. Evan Dorkin

*****

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J.E.Cole

1. Al Hirschfeld
2. Posy Simmonds
3. Jan Duursema
4. Juan Gimenez
5. Frank Hampson

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Enki Bilal
2. Carlos Ezquerra
3. Paolo Serpieri
4. Jackie Ormes
5. Tsugumi Ohba

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Frank Bellamy
2. Ronald Searle
3. Joe Colquhoun
4. Carlos Ezquerra
5. Ron Embleton

*****

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Kevin Mellon

1. Dave Sim/Gerhard
2. Michael Zulli
3. Rick Veitch
4. Martin Wagner
5. Reed Waller/Kate Worley

(Wasn't sure about dividing up teams, so listed them as one.)

*****

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Joe Keatinge

1) Yves Chaland
2) Bill Blackbeard
3) Paul Karasik
4) Edgar P. Jacobs
5) Jiro Kuwata

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Al Hartley
2. Fred Carter (along with Jack Chick)
3. Fletcher Hanks
4. James Winslow "Win" Mortimer
5. Helen Meyer

*****

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Eric Newsom

1. Lynda Barry
2. Frank Robbins
3. Joe Gill
4. Gaspar Saladino
5. Klaus Janson

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Joe Staton
2. Bob Rozakis
3. Dick Dillin
4. Gary Larson
5. Irv Novick

*****

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Gary Usher

1. Clay Geerdes
2. Steve Skeates
3. Deni Loubert
4. Mario Hernandez
5. Steve Willis

*****

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John Platt

1. Dick Briefer
2. Jim Starlin
3. F.G. Cooper
4. John Totleben
5. Dan Parent

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Bob Burden
2. Harry Hanan
3. Dan Green
4. David Thorpe
5. Bob Laughlin

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Dave Sim
2. Johnny Craig [Editor's Note: Jackie Estrada reminds me that Craig is already in the Hall of Fame]
3. Al Taliafero
4. Gerhard
5. Walt Simonson

*****

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Mark Spedding

* Chris Donald
* Matt Fox
* Rory Hayes
* Hunt Emerson
* Ray Lowry

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Jerry Grandenetti
2. Bob Oksner
3. Don McGregor
4. Mort Meskin
5. Frank Robbins

*****

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Charles Brownstein

* Joel Beck
* Shary Flenniken
* John Porcellino
* Cliff Sterrett
* Carol Swain

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. Al Wiseman
2. Bob Bolling
3. Leonard Starr
4. Kurt Schaffenberger
5. Pete Morisi

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Mark Beyer
2. Jerry Moriarty
3. Gary Larson
4. Justin Green
5. Grant Morrison

*****

topic suggested by John Vest; thanks, John

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


Quick Draw Panel From CCI 2011


Interview With American Creators At Munich Festival


Craig Thompson Interview At CCI 2011
via


A Bill Watterson-Inspired Mural For A Child's Room
via


Fred Gallagher Interviewed At Anime Expo 2011



Zapiro Presents At A Design Conference


CBC News Story On That Odd Cartoon In Nova Scotia About Muslim Celebrating The Oslo Killings

 
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August 6, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 30 to August 5, 2011:

1. Reaction to Marvel's win in court over the Kirby heirs late last week leads to calls for a boycott.

2. DC's new corporate infrastructure locking into place. This includes a final, get-together lunch for the WildStorm imprint, which was started as an independent company in 1992 and sold to DC Comics in 1999.

3. Simon Bond, whose 101 Uses For A Dead Cat was perhaps the most popular of a wave of similarly-formatted comic book that paved the way for comics in bookstores today, passed away. Dead Cat spawned sequels, imitators and reformatted versions of the original; it spent several weeks on the bestseller lists and was profiled in People and in Time.

Winner Of The Week
Peanuts

Loser Of The Week
The Renton Police Department

Quote Of The Week
"That is a moral issue here, and Marvel's pattern of decades of effectively slandering, maligning, and dismissing Kirby and his legacy is, too." -- Steve Bissette

*****

today's cover is from the great comic book series Four-Color

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

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

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

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 60th Birthday, Ed Hannigan!

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August 5, 2011


Congrtulations to Warren Ellis, Paul Duffield On The Conclusion Of Their Freakangels Serial

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Ellis' announcement here; last episode begins here; first episode here
 
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Sam Norkin, 1917-2011

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Sam Norkin, a widely-published caricaturist and cartoonist whose work spanned seven decades and whose clients included entertainment industry publications and major newspapers, died in his sleep July 30 in New York. He was 94 years old.

Norkin was born in Brooklyn in 1917. He initially studied under the muralist Mordi Grassner before receiving a more formal arts education at a variety of institutions: classes at Cooper Union, the Brooklyn Museum Art School and Metropolitan Art School among them.

Norkin's first sale was a drawing of Alfred Hitchcock directing a stageplay version of the popular detective serial Mr. and Mrs. North in 1940 created a market for his work by focusing on access to a theatrical, opera or dance productions before the show opened, which was typically the point at which photographers were allowed in to capture the show. He had a long-time gig with the New York Herald Tribune from 1940 to 1956 (it was that paper that bought the Hitchcock drawing), and then worked at the Daily News until the early 1980s. He also worked as an art critic and wrote articles on culture for the Daily News. In recent years, he provided art to InTheater. He occasionally provided illustration to theater-related books. Tom Richmond notes that Norkin would occasionally do caricatures at privates functions, something many such artists avoid when they build a career like Norkin had.

His best-known book is 1994's Sam Norkin: Drawings, Stories, which came out from Heinemann. He was widely exhibited, and won honorifics from his work from the Drama Desk (he was at one point that organization's president) and the League of American Theatres and Producers. Active in the National Cartoonists Society, he won the Special Features Award in 1980 and the Silver T-Square Award (1984). The Drama Desk recently instituted an award in Norkin's name, the "Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award," which will become part of that group's awards program starting in 2012.

Norkin's body was donated to Presbyterian Hospital in New York. He is survived by a wife, a son, a daughter, a step-daughter, a step-son and several other family members.

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Go, Look: The Dudes

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Brief Updates To A Trio Of Stand-Alone Stories

* conservative columnists are still using Arizona Star cartoonist Daniel Fitzsimmons aggressive recent history to do what columnists in every corner of the political spectrum do these days: scorn and preen.

* a bunch of newspapers here and abroad are using the occasion of the Hosni Mubarak trial to revisit the notion that political cartoonists once cowed into never drawing Mubarak when he was in power now feel perfectly safe doing so.

* although it's not exactly comics although something with clear implications for comics-makers, it's probably worth noting that more media sources have picked up on the story that police in Renton, Washington are trying to track some guy supposedly making salty Internet video about the department and desire to charge him with cyberstalking. Here's a piece in the Post-Intelligencer; here's video of a press conference with a police official responding to criticism. There's something slightly off about this story, and I can't quite put my finger on it, but until I learn more I ask that anyone looking at it do so with a grain of salt.
 
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Go, Read: Medical Center

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Go, Read: Paul Karasik Profiled In Martha's Vineyard Times

Well, of course he is. The great thing about a Paul Karasik profile is that you could practically throw in any sentence at all -- "Karasik also competes three days a week as a professional lacrosse player" or "Karasik occasionally advises White House staff on obscure elements of international etiquette" -- and it would be totally believable.

(He's also featured in Vineyard Gazette On-Line.)
 
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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Drawings That Rocked Rick Parker's World

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Jake Parker explores The Known World Of Visual Storytelling.

image* The Adventures Of Mr. Phil posts three more late-'80s indie-comics promotional images: Kafka, The Puma Blues and the Adam Hughes-drawn Death Hawk. I'm old enough even the visible folds in the images take me back.

* not comics: Brian Fies recommends the Forty Acres web site.

* Brian Ralph concludes his five-day CCI comics diary with good advice on how to leave the show and a bunch of photos.

* I can't remember how I found this, but apparently Fantagraphics has up some promotional material for its forthcoming first edition in its Carl Barks ducks effort, and almost as a rule that would have to be worth checking out. To be honest, I can't even tell if that's new-news or old-news.

* not comics: Joe Ferrara's 30-year odyssey singing the national anthem at Giants games.

* hard advice from Maison Immonen.

* not comics: what going to high school with Crockett Johnson would have been like.

* cartoonists and comics-makers ask questions of Alan Moore.

* writer Jeff Lemire talks re-launched Animal Man.

* Bully reviews Barack Obama's presidency to date in the comics. In a not-related-at-all post, Michael Cavna at Comic Riffs picks his favorite of the President Birthday editorial cartoons.

* not comics: Terry Gilliam teaches you animation. (via Gil Roth)

* it's always a good thing when Evan Dorkin draws Marvel characters.

* Graeme McMillan suggests that modern mainstream comics writers' tendency towards stylized dialogue sometimes makes the characters sound the same.

* not comics: Editor & Publisher notes that some media stocks experienced more drastic-than-average drops in yesterday's stock tumble. A comics-related item: Daryl Cagle spotlights a few stock market drop cartoons.

* the site Hooded Utilitarian did a Top Comics poll.

* author Brian Selznick is due for a big Fall with a new book and Martin Scorsese-directed film version of his hit hybrid effort The Invention Of Hugo Cabret. Here's Selznick speaking to PW. Here's ICv2.com breaking down his forthcoming season for hobby business devotees.

* finally, Tony Millionaire asks the eternal question (at least where Tony Millionaire is concerned): is this strip better when I drew it drunk or sober?
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Steve Mitchell!

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August 4, 2011


The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* I have no conception of the proposed Vancouver Comic Arts Festival to be held next May beyond what I can read through that link, nor do I know if the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is flattered or frustrated by someone trying to build an event they say will model itself after that successful show. I do know that Vancouver is one beautiful, amazing city to visit, so I'd love to see some kind of show find purchase there.

* speaking of TCAF, they've launched the 2012 iteration of their site, which includes exhibitor applications. That's a fine, fine show. I had a blast at the 2011 version. Although it's expensive to buy an airplane ticket from the American southwest to Toronto, that's a top-tier, world-class city and just having a show there as opposed to someplace else adds an element that's hard to replicate with more hermetically sealed events or ones in cities where the words "quaint" and "charming" are bandied about. Don't get me wrong: the show runs with enough snap it'd be worth visiting were the entire affair relocated to Muncie, Indiana. That it's in Toronto just makes it sort of ridiculous.

* you're following the Brian Ralph comics on Comic-Con, right? Here's day four.

* still no official word on the location of 2012's WonderCon. I hope they keep it in San Francisco in the long-term, and I'd prefer to see some sort of continuity maintained next year with an alternate SF location, but I'd understand if they moved it temporarily or even permanently.

* if you're heading to either show or just thinking about it, SPX and Baltimore Comic-Con are in those portions of their respective ramp-ups that sees them adding guests and announcing events seemingly all the time. Chicago's Wizard World show takes place not this weekend but next, and to the surprise of no one is much more quiet in terms of comics-related announcements.

* finally, the always-vital FPI Blog has a huge blog post here on the forthcoming Edinburgh International Book Festival from a comics perspective.
 
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OTBP: Alack

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I can't find a re-usable cover image of a book released in June on the great series by Munoz and Sampayo, published to coincide with an exhibition this summer at Galerie Barbier & Mathon. As discussed and described here and here it sure looks like a keeper.
 
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Missed It: DC Infrastructure Locking Into Place

Heidi MacDonald has a nice write-up here on something I completely missed: that several infrastructure changes at DC Comics are now settling into their final state. This includes the full establishment of DC Entertainment in Burbank, the physical consolidation of publishing endeavors back in New York to reflect smaller staffing levels, and the final closure of the WildStorm offices.

imageNo one should be sad or discouraged that worked at or for WildStorm. Nineteen years is a lengthy run for any entertainment enterprise, and only in comics with its mindset locked onto forever characters does running a company for nearly two decades seem in the slightest way like too short a time. A number of fine comics were made. The history of the company within comics is secure for its contributions to high-end superhero comics during the late '90s and early 2000s, an extended moment in the medium's history that preceded this a concurrent wider cultural interest in a certain kind of superhero narrative. The primary DC "universe" should for years to come see some benefit from folding several of the company's characters and concepts into its wider narrative. The book end of DC benefited greatly from being able to offer the WildStorm work in a number of formats, particularly profitable, high-end ones. Companies will be graced for years with creators that saw a key part of their career unfold there, or people that worked there in an editorial or publishing capacity.

Still, I think there's some historical work to be done -- not right now, but eventually -- as to why that imprint failed to become the point on DC's spear, as some thought would happen back in '99 when WildStorm's acquisition was announced. Given DC's roll of the dice in a line-wide relaunch this September, one hopes that WildStorm's messy 2008-2009 line re-direction specifically, and attempts to re-brand the line more generally, are studied within those walls with alacrity rather than buried in corporate memory. Because that didn't go so well. I would imagine there's also some exploration of the company's evolving relationships within DC Comics and with certain creators (primarily Alan Moore) to be done that might provide a different view on long-standing industry issues. For today, though, the good times and fond memories can and should hold sway. Goodbye, WildStorm.
 
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Go, Look: Littoral Line

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Not Comics: Police Seek Charges Against Animator

I can't confirm this story about a Washington police department seeking charges against an animator for doing videos about the city's police department with the actual videos themselves, or, well, practically anything that would come up on a google search. But if true it's quite the entertaining story, with slightly terrifying and obvious implications for comics-makers.
 
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Go, Look: Front And Back Covers To Zap #0-11

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Peanuts Announces Multi-Platform Digital Initiative

I'm not all-the-way certain if Michael Cavna over at Comic Riffs is announcing this story himself or running a lengthy press release, but a major digital expansion for the Peanuts property, while not exactly comics and maybe not involving comics in any form at all, is worth noting for a couple of reasons. For one thing, this is the inevitable result of the partnership with Iconix that came about when United Media Licensing sold them their contracts with the property as part of the UM library. For another, it will likely be worth marking what works and what doesn't work as potential strategies for other high-end, high-recognition properties hoping to find a way to connect with younger readers.
 
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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Tanino Liberatore Draws Batman

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Ellen Forney for winning the Seattle Weekly' best local cartoonist title. Seattle's one of those cities where there's enough cartoonists for that to really mean something.

image* a site called Western Fictioneers names the top ten western comic books of all time. I'd go the Blueberry books one and Boys' Ranch #2, but maybe that's just me.

* the writer and reviewer Graeme McMillan recommends the Stan Lee line at BOOM!. Kevin Czap also has love in his heart, but it's for the cartoonist Joseph Lambert.

* not comics: sheesh. I have never in my life looked at a hobo and connected that to a present-day poor person, just as I've never looked at a Roger Langridge drawing of a stock vaudevillian and thought "modern reality show TV star." I say this as an actual, real-life, present-day poor person.

* I think I got this at TCJ: Ernesto Priego unearths a decade-old interview with Joe Sacco. I know I got this not-comics one at TCJ: Jonathan Rosenbaum on Walt Disney.

* it's always a good time when Drew Friedman draws Tor Johnson.

* do you remember indie comics promotional images? I still have an envelope full of posters from that era buried in the back room somewhere.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco fixes the forthcoming Action Comics #1 covers. That second one strikes me as a pretty awful cover, actually.

* Chris Allen explains why he won't be reviewing any Marvel-related material for a while.

* it's easy to make fun of deals like this between Marvel and kitchen implement supplier par excellence Williams-Sonoma, but I continue to swear the second-biggest difference between this version of Marvel and previous attempts to get the company over is the quality of its licensing partners. This one is no exception.

* that Walker Bean book is an admirable book.

* I wonder who got this job?

* finally, Alan Gardner points out the flaw in Stephan Pastis' plan to off Jerry Scott.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Robert Pope!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Franco Saudelli!

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Happy 35th Birthday, K. Thor Jensen!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Charlie Adlard!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mike Gold!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Rick Norwood!

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August 3, 2011


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

imageHere 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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

FEB111046 WILLIE & JOE BACK HOME HC (RES) $29.99
FEB111045 WILLIE & JOE WWII YEARS GN $39.99
You need all the books featuring American Hero Bill Mauldin your shelves can handle, but the Back Home collection is doubly recommended for telling on one of the most startling stories in the history of cartooning: how Mauldin basically destroyed his own potentially lucrative syndicated panel offering by pulling no punches on what he saw as a curdling of the American spirit after World War 2: a multi-month act of creative self-immolation I'm not sure has ever been seen before or since. It's an amazing thing to witness those cartoons first-hand.

MAY110046 USAGI YOJIMBO #139 $3.50
It's becoming less and less weird that this is the only ongoing serial comic book that caught my eye this week. Stan Sakai's series I believe starts a new story as the 200th issue of Usagi comics overall is a mere two months away.

MAR110355 JACK KIRBY OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 STARRING GREEN ARROW $49.99
I had no idea Kirby did enough Green Arrow work to sustain an omnibus, which means I have a lot of comics to read.

APR110385 CANIFF HC $49.99
A biography utilizing rare pieces of the great cartoonist's art and illustration sounds pretty damn great, and I certainly would want to place my hands on it and check it out were I in a comics store.

MAY110741 OZ MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ GN TP $19.99
Marvel has done really well with these books, and they boast a strong creator pedigree. I haven't seen more than maybe a single issue.

JUN111213 GOODBYE CHUNKY RICE PANTHEON ED (O/A) $12.95
All Craig Thompson books on deck!

MAY111244 BAKUMAN TP VOL 06 $9.99
MAY111264 SLAM DUNK GN VOL 17 $9.99
These are the two best new offerings from solid-performing mainstream manga series. As I usually point out, the Slam Dunk book are nice because there's such an incremental approach to building new basketball skills and plot points that reading it in serialized form can be somewhat maddening for a North American sports fan more familiar with the sport.

DEC100986 STEVE CANYON COMP COMIC BOOK SERIES HC VOL 01 $49.99
This strikes me as a crazy project, but I'm all for crazy projects: a reprint collection of all the Dell comic books featuring Milton Caniff's second-and-longer-half-of-professional-career creation. I bet without looking to make sure that this features work from talented Caniff assistants like Bill Overgard.

MAR111402 KRAZY KAT & ART OF GEORGE HERRIMAN HC (RES) $29.95
George Herriman anything is worth a look.

MAY110324 WALTER SIMONSON THOR ARTIST ED HC PI
IDW's craziest-conceptual series of books gets another edition, this time featuring the underrated Walt Simonson, albeit in his least underrated work.

APR110357 HERO COMICS 2011 (ONE SHOT) $3.99
This is the charity comic that features a reunion of the creators behind Sandman #1. Helping older creators in need is a worthy, worthy cause of course.

JUN110963 ROGER LANGRIDGE SNARKED #0 $1.00
This is an easy-access issue for Roger Langridge's new series from Boom! I bet most of you reading don't need an easy access point for Langridge's work, but anything that helps him maybe get over with original work is just fine with me.

MAR111224 TANK TANKURO HC W/ SLIPCASE $29.95
I'm dying to see this collection, and would be if the only thing interesting about it were Chris Ware's design. But there's so much more. If I lived in a town with a great comics shop, this would get me away from my desk and over there on my lunch break.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Hereville Wins Oregon Council Of Teachers Honor

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Abrams points out that their November 2010 publishing effort Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, from cartoonist Barry Deutsch, won an honor called the Oregon Spirit Book Award Middle Reader Honor Book, given by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English. This is aimed at honoring books that do all the usual great things for young readers while reflecting the "spirit and values held by Oregonians." Hereville is one of those books that an audience has responded to in significant fashion but for whatever reason the book has remained mostly off the radar of hardcore comics reader.

Speaking of this book and awards, I noted back in March it received a nomination for the Andre Norton Award at the science-fiction oriented Nebulas -- it didn't apparently win, although the nomination was an eye-popper all by itself.
 
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Reminder: Eddie Campbell Is Blogging Again

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I keep meaning to say so, but the most consistently interesting blogging comics professional started at it again this summer, and we're all the richer for it. Put Eddie Campbell in your feed or your bookmarks or whatever you use to check in on someone frequently. You won't be sorry.
 
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Go, Read: Editorial Places Zunar's Travails In Context

imageThere's an intriguing editorial here by someone named Steve Oh about the various battles the cartoonist Zunar (full name Zulkiflee Anwar Hague) has had with the government in Malaysia over books collecting his political cartoons. By far the best thing about the piece -- which I almost blew by after a first scan -- is that it reminds us that places like Malaysia don't have a rich tradition of political satire that makes what cartoonists like Zunar do both understandable, and in many ways valuable, to the culture at large. The author borrows liberally from Western visual satire tradition including Thomas Nast to make this point. He also writes in encouraging fashion on why a country like Malaysia needs to embrace work of the kind Zunar makes, suggesting that even in times when there are high political stakes a culture needs to embrace self-criticism and intellectual inquiry as necessary tools.
 
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Go, Look: Rumbling, Chapter 2

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2011 Harvey Awards To Close Voting On August 6

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The Harvey Awards are shutting down their 2011 voting this Saturday, August 6 at Midnight. The ballot is available as both a PDF document and a text document at the program's web site. The winners, as has become recent tradition, will be named at an awards program held at the forthcoming Baltimore Comic-Con.

Here are the nominees, which I think may have been announced during this site's recent hiatus or during one of its frequent, less official hiatuses triggered by author indolence. It's nice to see Jaime Hernandez take home nominations, as I thought his work in last year's Love & Rockets issue was the best comics work done in 2010.
 
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Go, Read: Yeast Hoist #8

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Go, Read: CCI's 2011 Best & Worst Of Manga Panel

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Deb Aoki has posted a massive write-up here on this year's Best & Worst Of Manga panel at Comic-Con International. This is one of my favorite recent recurring panels at that show because it's old-fashioned (a group of critics react to titles they've selected in various categories as they flash up on a nearby screen) and reader-focused (it's about finding new comics to read, and people actually sit there and take notes). I wish there were more panels like it in more areas of comics (a webcomics one in particular would be nice). If you want a broad reading-for-pleasure manga guide, a "what's out there right now that most people would have a chance of enjoying" kind of survey, parts of this list definitely fit the bill.
 
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If I Were In Halifax, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: A 1970s Richard Corben Art Medley

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Tucker Stone on five years of blogging. The only thing better than five years of blogging is quitting at four years, but I bet Tucker already knows that.

image* Chris Oliveros wrote a nice note here about Seth's 20th anniversary publishing Palooka-Ville through Drawn & Quarterly. That's quite an achievement in the alt-comics world, and congratulation to Seth and his publisher. Speaking of D+Q, the Doug Wright Awards picked up right away on news of a new Nipper. The artwork from Wright during the period covered is pretty unbelievably sharp.

* the great Paul Gravett reviews work featuring (in different ways) two formidable British writers: Alan Moore, Grant Morrison.

* Philip Nel calls this article on Crockett Johnson the most thorough look at his life yet published, and I'm not going to argue with him.

* I love the species of feature know as the "Local Cartoonist Profile." Here's one of Hy Eisman.

* not comics: nice tattoo. From the same site, a look back at one of that handful of English language underground manga anthologies that came out several years ago.

* a few of you e-mailed me this article profiling a smattering of webcomics cartoonists based on their ability to make a living from their work. That usually means someone had it first, and I apologize to that person.

* Johanna Draper Carlson caught that Image redesigned their site and has included digital purchase links. I assume everyone will be doing that soon, although three years ago I would have assumed that everyone would have done that by now.

* two noteworthy reviews of the Fantagraphics Peanuts: one from a hipster dad, one from a dad and his daughter.

* the first sentence of this blog post by J. Caleb Mozzocco made me laugh. I'm not sure I understood much of what follows.

* I don't think I've ever read or listed to an interview with Kevin O'Neill.

* the critic Rob Clough recommends Jeff Zwirek's kickstarter fund-raiser.

* over at Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna picks six effective cartoons about the debt ceiling stand-off or whatever the hell that was that I kept fleeing with my remote control. I like the Toles.

* someone please use The Big Alvin.

* finally, you're reading Brian Ralph's diary comics about Comic-Con over at TCJ, right? Here's day two. Here's day three.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Gianfranco Goria!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Reed Waller!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Marc Weidenbaum!

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August 2, 2011


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

It's been a while since this column appeared, and my bookmarks go back several weeks. Please bear with me.

* not enough was made of Conundrum Press picking up Michel Rabagliati's Paul à Quebec for publication as The Song Of Roland. I'm not certain if there's any publishing story behind the move; I'm just glad to see more of that work in English.

image* hey, here's First Second's Fall list, including new Sara Varon, the print publication of their on-line effort Zahra's Paradise and a new edition of Derek Kirk Kim's Same Difference, I guess this time without the "other stories." Speaking of First Second, they sold out of their first printing of Anya's Ghost.

* speaking of lists of books, PictureBox posted their Fall line-up a while ago as well.

* speaking of books going back to print, this is apparently also true of the Vertigo book Daytripper.

* I'm not sure that I saw this call for mini-comics from Michael Dowers repeated in a lot of media sources.
am looking for mini comic submissions for a new two-volume set of hardbound books to be published by Fantagraphics. This series will cover mini comics from the dawn of time (early 70's) to the present. Since Newave (1980’s) has already been covered, the main focus will be on the 1990's to the present although earlier minis will be covered too. The books will be the same size as the original Newave book (only more like 700 pages each) and will only reproduce whole mini comics that are 5 1/2 X 4 1/4 or smaller just like in the Newave book. (If you are concerned about the size of your submission contact me and we can talk about it). No digest sized comics or bigger will be accepted.

The two volumes are to be simply titled "Treasury of Mini Comics" Volumes one & two.

I am looking for contributors. I am looking for the best of the best. Any creator can send me their mini comics, disks, or photocopies to be considered for publication for this project. Or email me and send low-res jpegs to: brownfieldpress@hotmail.com.

Please send titles to: Michael Dowers 361 E. Birnie Slough Rd., Cathlamet , WA 98612.

If you want your material returned it is important to enclose return postage. Any mini comics that are kept will be placed in the Fantagraphics collection after the books are published. Also anybody sending actual mini comics will receive comics in trade from Brownfield press.
I really liked Dowers' collection of Newave minis, and if this is half as good it'd be worth trying to place work into it.

* Robot 6 passed along the line-up of this year's Treehouse Of Horror comic book about six weeks ago.

* Hermes Press is doing a collection of Agent 13 comics. Or republishing pre-existing graphic novel versions, I'm not sure. That property had its genesis in the old TSR Top Secret role-playing game, I believe.

* the writer Clifford Meth is developing a property with the NFL player Ovie Mughelli. That's too good a name for comics to let professional sports have it all to themselves.

* Fantagraphics has announced the line-up for its first EC book, Corpse On The Imjin collecting Harvey Kurtzman's war stories.

* I totally missed that Kid Koala has a new graphic novel on the immediate horizon.

* let me add my voice to the chorus of those noting something obvious: the forthcoming children's book Keep Our Secrets from Jordan Crane looks really cool.

* I have no history with the property, but thought that Archaia's work with the Fraggle Rock characters and milieu seemed sturdy enough when I read one. They're also doing reprints of the 1980s material.

* that proposed graphic novel Eric Dolphy was successfully funded on Kickstarter. A proposed Smiths-related anthology is a long way from its goal as of yet, albeit with plenty of days left to go.

* two Jack Kirby-related items of note. Master of all things Abstract Comics Andrei Molotiu is working on a book to benefit the Kirby Museum. Also, I apparently missed that Stan Taylor has been working on a book about the iconic cartoonist.

* Sean T. Collins notes and places into context panel news from San Diego that Gilbert Hernandez will be returning to his Palomar setting for the next issue of Love and Rockets.

* finally, Ryan Cecil Smith has brought the first issue of Two Eyes Of The Beautiful back into print.

*****

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Please Bookmark And Read: Gabrielle Bell Won The Month Of July

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The one thing I'll regret most about the recent hiatus from a comics-linking standpoint is not being around to guide readers on a frequent basis to the fruits of Gabrielle Bell's decision to do daily comics for July. Rarely do you get that much work from a talented creator like Bell, and even more rarely do you get it from someone locked in with the consistent making of compelling comics like she has been for a long while now.

She writes about the conclusion of the project here; you can start reading the comics from the beginning here.
 
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Go, Read: TCJ On The Recent Marvel/Kirby Decision

Mike Dean wrote an article for The Comics Journal on the recent Kirby/Marvel decision that is now going to appeal. Its best feature is a concise explanation of the standard used for determining whether what Jack Kirby did was work-for-hire, for which I'm personally grateful. Although oddly, I would have to imagine that some of Lee's own writing about that period would provide examples that run counter to this standard, although the most obvious one -- what Lee once wrote about how Dr. Strange was basically Steve Ditko's idea -- would never come to court. It's well-written generally, too, and I think the article places the proper emphasis on how the judge put more stock in Stan Lee's testimony than on constructions of what happened from people that weren't there. I'm not quite sure that I agree with Dean's matter-of-fact conclusions that the judge felt publicity pressures or that the family only sued to settle -- not their matter-of-factness, anyway -- at least without seeing his source work on those two points, but I think those are arguable points for sure and could certainly be true.

And of course, the real tragedy is this all seems so wholly, depressingly unnecessary.
 
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Go, Read: Comb-Over

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Debates Over Cartoon Consequences Continue To Rage

One of the more interesting developments of the last ten years is how cartoons feed into the commercial cycle of political outrage. This was of course an element of the Danish Cartoons Controversy, and part of what has been deeply astonishing about that event and its long hangover was seeing what in some ways seemed like a typical puppet show of political stances become a very real set of economic boycotts, jailed journalists and people dying in riots without moving away from its cartoon roots and solely into the underlying issue itself.

Two stories that bubbled up on the wires today mirror the construction of those initial arguments. They probably lack the unique set of social circumstances that might drive the whole thing into a bigger story involving the cartoon themselves and some dire real-world consequence. Still, they're worth noting for their criticism of the cartoonist's role in enabling real-word events, dragging into a discussion of the issues how those issues are presented and by whom. An editorial writer at the English-language Turkish news portal suggests here that a lazy, ill-considered element of hate speech that's been bubbling up in European cartoons for quite some time gave solace to the views of mass-murderer Anders Breivik. A second is how angrily conservative-minded folks seem to react to the cartoons from Arizona Daily Star cartoonist Daniel Fitzsimmons regarding the Tea Party movement, suggesting the obvious savage contempt that Fitzsimmons displays on a routine basis crosses a line to normalize certain stereotypes and to even recommend violence as a solution for problems they present.
 
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Go, Read: Marvel's First '60s Superhero Dr. Droom

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Go, Bookmark: Chalk And Cheese

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Giant Robot interviews Brian Ralph. If you haven't gone to see Ralph's first of what should be a week of diary cartoons centered on Comic-Con International 2011, you really should.

image* Chris Mautner talks Jack Cole at this Comics College column. He suggests that the Plastic Man Archives series has been suspended after eight volumes, which is too bad because it took a while for Cole to get really going there.

* general error alert: my writing has been sloppy enough recently for me to conflate the Kirby Estate with any actions taken by his heirs distinct from that Estate; I deeply regret the mistake wherever I made it and I won't make it again.

* today's bookmark-and-save feature is surely this interview with Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF over at Graphic Novel Reporter.

* Matt Dembicki offers up a nice set of photos from Saturday's DC Zinefest. Ryan Cecil Smith has a report from the 2011 Tokyo Art Book Fair.

* as far as guilty pleasures go, you could do worse than Andrea Tsurumi's.

* not comics: apparently, more personal films from talented creators will save superhero movies. Save them from consistent, massive domestic gross box office figures, I guess.

* if you've ever felt bad about that period in your life when you couldn't remember if it was "Spiderman" or Spider-Man, Scott Edelman has good news: Marvel didn't know right away, either.

* it appears that the answer to my long-standing question as to why more comics publisher don't have their cartoonists do A-B-C alphabet primers is that plenty of cartoonists already do them, thank you very much.

* certain Aussie advocacy groups are upset with Robert Crumb. In a way, it's nice to know that Crumb is still pissing someone off.

* not comics: Chris Butcher hosts the kind of dinner party that twelve-year-old me would have believed only happens in heaven.

* remember that day when The Atlantic profiled a cartoonist and it didn't seem like this deeply strange, wonderful and unlikely thing?

* not sure exactly what's going on here, but Bastien Vives sure draws one weird-looking Ninja Turtle.

* finally, while I'm not certain if it's still going on or not, any sale involving Drew Weing original art is something worth asking after even if the answer might be "it's over."
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Danny Hellman!

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August 1, 2011


Go, Read: Steve Bissette On Jack Kirby And Marvel

I've been reading these missives from the artist and educator Steve Bissette over on Facebook. At one point I even asked him if I could re-run one such post as a guest editorial here. What I forgot is that Bissette has a wider Internet presence of his own. He's posted all of his commentary on the matter here.

imagePlease take a few minutes and read it. Please. Bissette isn't just a keen observer of industry practices based in part on his own unfortunate experiences over the years, I think he has a special, admirable sensitivity for the mistreatment of artists. His decision not to participate in anything Marvel-related derived from artists that created material but have not been able to share in any modest, reasonable way in their massive success is a moral issue and something I think every comics fan should consider with great seriousness.

What remains most troubling about what Marvel has done and continues to do to many of its contributors and their families is how deeply unnecessary all of it seems. Marvel has resources out the wazoo. They have plenty of publishing money to provide royalties to a creator or an estate on work republished, even more movie money to make payments to creators for use of their characters in a movie, and tons of accrued cultural capital to properly give folks credit for a storyline or character without damaging the all-precious brand. To habitually punish their past runs needlessly counter to the way they treat a number of their current creators happy to be partnered up with them, and the generally positive attitude most people have in comics towards their current editors and publishing people. The thought that the only way this huge subset of artists can reasonably profit from their work within comics is to have stumbled into some beneficial series of accidents of history -- to have outlived most of their peers, to have worked at a time when these things were more important, to have signed certain contracts at certain times or avoided doing so, to get their case under the most sympathetic judge, to be of some current publicity use to the corporation profiting from their work -- is vomit-inducing. For these companies that traffic in heroism and trumpet going the extra mile to do good to cling to a strict legalism that keeps the money flowing in certain directions should trouble even the most accepting, enthusiastic fan. For one major company to adhere so much more tightly than another to money-stringent practices that one's eyes pop upon being forced to listen to those differences and for no one to think this is a significant thing boggles the mind.

To the best of my knowledge, none of these creators or creators' families that have resorted to legal means with any of the companies have done so spurning a reasonable offer. None of these people strike me as moguls-in-waiting, or stick-it-to-the-man types. They come across to me as people who feel they or their loved ones have been done a wrong, people that want to be able to afford the really good kind of health insurance while lawyers that had nothing to do with characters take home huge bonuses based in some considerable way on the initial genius and innate potential of that work. Maybe some of these people will find relief in the courts. I don't know. I do know that we live in a world where lottery winners will sometimes give money to the people that did nothing other than print their tickets, where fans will give money to someone if they express a need and do so based on the fact they benefited not to the tune of billions of dollars and enduring wealth for generations of their families but based on a satisfying artistic experience or series of them, where people routinely share their good fortune with others without a court telling them to do so -- and all without trafficking in some heroic ideal as their stock in trade. None of this makes sense. It needs to matter more than it does.
 
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Go, Look: Illustrated Wallace Stevens Roundtable

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Simon Bond, 1947-2011

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Simon Bond, the cartoonist behind the best-selling, seminal book of cartoons 101 Uses Of A Dead Cat, died in Northamptonshire County, England, on July 22. He was 63 years old.

Born as the older of a pair of twins in New York city to British parents, one of whom worked for the United Nations, Bond and his family moved to Nottingham when the future cartoonist was a small child. He studied art at the West Sussex College Of Art And Design In Worthing from 1965 to 1968. Upon graduation, Bond worked for Tatler in paste-up at about the time that long-standing publication's name was restored from London Life by publisher Guy Wayte. He left that position to briefly manage a jewelry store.

Bond moved to the United States in 1970, settling in Phoenix which suited his chronic asthma. There he held a variety of jobs, including that of cartoonist. Bond freelanced for a number of magazines including Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, National Lampoon and The New Yorker. He released his first book, Real Funny in 1976.

In 1981, Methuen in Great Britain and Clarkson N. Potter (now an imprint of Crown) in the U.S. released Bond's collection of 101 Uses For A Dead Cat (called 101 Uses Of A Dead Cat In Great Britain) at the height of a cat-cartoon craze that included Jim Davis' groundbreaking first collection of Garfield cartoons and the B. Kliban cat-focused books. It sold 600,000 copies in its first year on its way to over two million copies in twenty countries, spending 27 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in the year of its publication. The book was profiled/reviewed in Time and People, spawned two official sequels (101 More Uses Of A Dead Cat and Uses Of A Dead Cat In History), an unofficial sequel/response book (The Cat's Revenge), an omnibus (2001's Complete Uses Of A Dead Cat), a number of calendars, several imitators and a 25th anniversary re-issue in 2006.

Bond returned to England in 1982 just as his career had surged because of the hit book. A follow-up to the cat book, Unspeakable Acts, failed to perform as well as 101 Uses. He also worked on a screenplay during this period. Back in Great Britain, Bond picked up Punch and Private Eye as clients. He married an American in 1985. Among the cartoon book releases and his consistent production for various publications, Bond himself published and co-edited the humor magazine Squib in the early 1990s. His books, which came out at a steady rate of about one a year, included A Bruise Of Bouncers (1987), Battered Lawyers And Other Good Ideas (1989) and Everybody's Doing It. I believe the bulk may have been published by Longstreet Press. Bond illustrated a pair of books by Alan Abel as well as books by Tom Isitt and Percy Richer. He edited a book of RS Sherriffs work, and even authored a children's book series starring the teddy bear Tough Ted (titles included Tough Ted And The Tattered Ear). His last original book came out in 2002.

at top is perhaps the most famous cartoon of Bond's career; Bond actually owned four cats at various points in his life despite being allergic to them
 
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Go, Look: Super Teenage Mario Brothers

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from Jose-Luis Olivares; thanks, Gus Mastrapa
 
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Prageeth Eknaligoda Disappearance Part Of A Cycle

Journalism advocates observing Sri Lanka politics over the last four years are asserting that the recent violence against a newspaper editor is part of a continuum of violence against journalists stretching back to 2008. This includes the 2010 pre-election disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda, whose plight was engaged reluctantly by political authorities -- from the party Eknaligoda did not support -- who claimed post-election security kept them from devoting proper resources to an immediate search. Fifty-nine year old news editor Gnanasundaram Kuhanathan of the Tamil paper Uthayan was beaten by men with iron pipes and left for dead near his home on Friday. A reporter from another paper was attacked in late May.
 
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If I Were In Halifax, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Oh, Those Beautiful Zorro Comic Books

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I think it's nice that DC Comics has released a "we hear you" statement regarding the employment of female creators in its forthcoming relaunch, more prominent characters in same, and future endeavors related to both. For one thing, the release should give some encouragement to those that thought the roll-out of the relaunch news was done in a strange manner PR-wise, and it's nice to know that the company is likely genuinely sensitive to how it's going to be perceived on particular issues. At the same time, I think there's a trap in crowing about one's article/one's post/internet complaining in general/widely-mocked public agitation bringing about a press release from a publisher. Like the relaunch itself, it's the execution that matters with this issue, not the shaping of publicity concerns around the issue and rhetorical back-and-forths. Let's see where they are six months, one year, three years from now in terms of actually developing a wider range of talent and employing it to best effect. I think there are achievable goals for a company like DC with an issue like this one, goals that would benefit the company. But they have to do it.

* speaking of which, did anyone ever praise the Nadel/Hodler TCJ for having a group of solid women writers and artists contributing to the publication after initially criticizing their female contributor-light re-launch announcement? I hope so, for I surely missed it.

image* Richard Sala posts 1998's "Stranger Street" series of images.

* the cartoonist Michael DeForge posts two more pages from a forthcoming work called College Girl By Night.

* Colleen Doran on the recent Marvel/Kirby decision.

* over at The Bowery Boys, a semi-lengthy post on the New Yorkness of various Marvel superheroes. There's a worthy link in the comments section as well, if you want to explore this a bit further. (thanks, Gil Roth)

* not comics: Mo Willems is crafty.

* Guy Delisle covers Focus Vif.

* check out Aaron Renier's design for this years CCS diplomas. That's way better than my diploma, which, I kid you not, was on such a greasy sheepskin that all the letters fell off.

* Richard Thompson's background posts on various Cul-De-Sac dailies tend to be a lot of fun, such as this one on making a change in a storyline fairly last minute and the deeper personal memories it taps.

* Dustin Harbin continues his series of process posts with a discussion of scanning. I don't have the chops or even the equipment on hand to make an appraisal of the things Harbin's writing down, but he has a nice, conversational tone and at worst this strikes me as a "my perspective" series of pieces if they fall short of being authoritative.

* not comics: I bet the cartoonist Frank Santoro would have fantastic barber shop-style conversational patter. I'd go once a week, and I don't have hair. (thanks, someone I forget)

* not comics: there's nothing to do with this depressing article on the LA Times cutting freelancers but read it, consider the implications, and shiver, shiver, shiver.

* not comics: the cartoonist John Porcellino sent along and recommended this link if you're interested in reading more about the Borders collapse and liquidation. For one thing, that the liquidation prices may not have represented savings as one might think such a sale should would be up to the company doing the liquidation, not the bookseller or its remaining employees.

* not comics: the Captain America movie has now made more money than the one based on Green Lantern.

* finally, Sean Collins reviews Tom Neely's The Wolf.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mark Newgarden!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Tom Wilson!

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Happy 24th Birthday, Michael DeForge!

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TCAF 2012 Exhibitor Applications Were To Open Today

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that was the original announcement; I'm posting this way in advance so things may have changed between then and now
 
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