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
















September 30, 2011


Go, Read: ICv2.com On DC's Kindle Pricing

imageThere's a smart article here at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com on something I didn't pick up on at all: that by offering books like Watchmen in a Kindle-only version at the $9.99 price, DC may be establishing a precedent for digital trade pricing that could have a far-reaching impact for comics publishing. I think the point is more important than the prose-publishing context, but that's also helpful if you've never read it before.

My only quibble would be that I'm not certain that the protection of comic book store pricing is the main issue here, but the fact that these are really big corporations whose overhead and cost needs per copy are on some level rigid -- at least as these institutions currently exist. In other words, places like Marvel and DC are set up to profit at a sustainable, even profitable level from X-number of paper goods priced at Y-level prices. They aren't necessarily set up to profit at a sustainable level from A-number of combined paper goods and digital offerings priced at B-level overall pricing. This isn't an issue right now, as digital is still seen as bonus money from the main income source of print. That's why the key here is the establishment of a precedent that may hold sway when digital is more of a direct component of initial monies earned. As I can't see the people that profit from these corporations willing to settle for less of what they're getting unless they're absolutely forced to, I imagine that it's the creators that stand a very good chance of taking it in the shorts.
 
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GoComics.com Has Been Running 1934 Li'l Abners Since July

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This makes almost no sense to me: you can barely read some of them, and they start a month into Capp's run rather than from the beginning or some famous storyline later on. Still: worth a look if you're a fan.
 
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Rabee Aridi, 1976-2011

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Various comics sites with a focus on Arab-language cartoons starting with I believe Syria Cartoons are reporting that the young Syrian cartoonist Rabee Aridi died on September 23. Aridi was born in Damascus and apparently learned cartooning through private lessons rather than it being something that he picked up in formal art lessons in school. He was part of several exhibits in Syria and internationally, a common option for cartoonists in that region of the world. I can't tell if it's his work that was hung by or if he himself worked for the Arab Organization For Education, Science And Culture, which I believe is an Arab League organization.
 
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Go, Look: Wally Wood Draws Doctor Doom

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One Way To Sidestep Most Talk Of 52 New DC Comics...

... is to come up with a suggested 52 titles that aren't owned by Time Warner. Always remember that you get to decide what comics are important to you.
 
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If I Were In Berkeley, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Nashville, 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 White River Junction, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Frank Robbins' Invaders Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's Kate Beaton's world.

* Glenn Hauman asks whether or not Time Warner's apparent apathy towards making a big real estate commitment to New York will result in all of DC being moved to the west coast. I honestly don't know why they didn't all make the trek the first time.

image* today is the last day you can climb on board with the successful Kickstarter campaign that David Lasky and Frank Young started for their Carter Family project, and get some of that sweet, sweet Lasky original art.

* another high-interest item to benefit the family of the late cartoonist and publisher Dylan Williams: a pair of sketches of the Ice Haven book design by Dan Clowes. That one's out of my price range, but there are plenty of items going for much cheaper that look lovely. Also don't forget that Williams' friends will help Sparkplug exhibit this weekend at APE.

* what doing research at the Schulz Library is like.

* happy birthday and for the last time get off of my lawn.

* David P. Welsh on The Book Of Human Insects. Sean Gaffney on Bloody Monday Vol. 1. Don MacPherson on Blackhawks #1. Christopher Allen on a bunch of DC New 52 books. Johanna Draper Carlson on The Unwritten #29. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of comic books of the kind that you buy at the comic book shop. Brian Hibbs on several DC New 52 books. Gary Tyrrell on The Abominable Charles Christopher. Joseph Thompson on Troop 142. Nick Gazin on a bunch of comics. Jeremy Nisen on Troop 142.

* always a good day when there's an update at the Secret Acres blog.

* Noah Berlatsky assures us that not all comic books are sexist.

* I don't know how in the hell I ended up reading a Marvel.com story about the character Rogue, but it's sort of fascinating to measure each writer's approach to something like that. For instance, Mike Carey is really quick with definitive statements, much more so than the other writers save for the occasional strong statement from Jason Aaron.

* I don't know if you can see this jokey superhero image on Facebook, but it's awfully cute.

* Alex Dueben talks to Gahan Wilson. Dalton Sharp profiles the team behind Rock Testament. Frank Santoro talks to Jesse Moynihan. Jeffrey Renaud talks to Grant Morrison. Shaun Manning talks to Richard Sala.

* there are worse reasons.

* finally, Rob Steibel responds to one of those posts about how everyone hates Stan Lee's guts and wants to disparage his contributions. I think Steibel's right to point out that this is one of comics' great generalizations that hardly ever turns out to be accurate and certainly isn't true in a general sense. It's also fair to point out that one way not to experience a push back against your contributions is to make sure that what you put out there initially -- or simply allow to be put out there on your behalf -- is as accurate and fair as possible.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Deni Loubert!

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Happy 34th Birthday, David Baillie!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Mahendra Singh!

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September 29, 2011


CBLDF At $19,000 Of Needed $100,000 October 31 Funds Goal

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I would suggest bookmarking the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund news blog from now until October 31, if it's not part of your daily routine already. They're the $19K into a $100K fundraising initiative that will end October 31. If nothing else, the widespread popularity of the Fund in the creative community likely means a host of premiums will be offered that might interest a lot of comics fans. There are also classes to attend where there's a donation involved, all of which so far have sounded pretty great. You might also consider joining, particularly if it's something you've always meant to do but just never pulled the trigger.

In another piece of CBLDF news just announced today, they now own the famous image of the CCA seal. Although there have been attempts in the past to use the image in various ways, there's no reason that with the Fund behind it and monies going to a good cause this can't become the industry's version of the Che Guevara image.

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PR: DC Announces 100 Graphic Novels For Kindle Fire

Here. I take it that DC's PR wing is feeling it these days because coming out with a list of 100 books being made available this close to a major technology announcement news story seems to me really well-timed and well-conceived. As for the books themselves, I had not known that Watchmen had never been offered digitally. Well, not officially, anyway.
 
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Note To Critics: Don't Forget Death-Ray In Your Articles On Habibi And Holy Terror As 9-11 Reactions

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"We could all see it happening and we could all see that nobody was going to be able to stop it, and we all knew what an idiotic blunder it was going to be and just a hubristic show of force by this country, which seemed like it was not a vital player anymore but kind of a dying cranky old man, and that's kind of where the older version of the Andy character came from, I think. He was sort of the perfect stand-in for America as it existed in 2004, this kind of fading irrelevant cranky bastard who's not going to let it all slip through his fingers without one last catastrophe." -- Dan Clowes on the invasion of Iraq in an interview at Flavorwire.

It's a good interview all around.
 
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Go, Look: A Lorenzo Mattotti Process Post

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Cartoonist Held In India For Insulting Religious Practices

This one seems pretty straight-forward at this time, although no less depressing for it. The cartoonist Harish Yadav, who works under the pen-name Mussaveer in the Prabhat Kiran afternoon paper published in the city of Indore, was picked up Tuesday by police on charge of insulting the religious beliefs of Muslims. At issue was a cartoon based on a minister's decision not to don a skull cap during a recent fast.

The 39-year-old Yadav was released on bail yesterday morning. A complaint had been filed on September 20, which was the day the cartoon initially appeared; one report suggests that the police needed a few days to track the cartoonist down. The paper ran an apology Wednesday, but its principal actors defended the cartoon to press.
 
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Go, Read: A 1970 Interview With Whitney Darrow, Jr.

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* APE this weekend. If you get in line right now, you can probably get your book signed by Kate Beaton. I kid, but they have about a half-dozen really popular alt-creators anchoring the show this weekend, which is notable only in that such shows -- including this one -- are perhaps better known for their depth of talent than for the headliners. Everyone should visit the Sparkplug presence there and buy some books and attend whatever memorial event is offered for Dylan Williams. Mostly, though, you should just go if you can. Because of the Moscone Center's infrastructure issues, it'll be a year before a major show returns to the area. If you go to your favorite small-press publisher's site, you might be able to find an APE preview like this one.

* there's a ton of stuff to do at a show like that one, although two traditional stops seem to hold their usual promise: the CAM reception, which this year features Lloyd Dangle's Troubletown, and the traditional blow-out at Isotope.

* hey, APE also has a shuttle bus system this year. Maybe they had one in past years, I don't know. I love shuttle buses.

* FanExpo Canada claims nearly 78,000 attendees for 2011.

* Tony Isabella reports on the Detroit Fanfare show just past. It sounds like an old school show in maybe slightly too large a space.

* check out this Jason Aaron photo array from a recent comics festival in northern Spain. I know there are a lot of different reasons people go to shows, and I've enjoyed many one-bar same-hotel cons over the years, but I think more and more people are waking up to the fact how awesome it is to make a convention/festival part of a more standard vacation and I'm not sure other than Toronto and to a slight extent San Diego and San Francisco and perhaps New York the North American shows are oriented that way. That's not an indictment, because the overriding motivation of these shows is to make the experience profitable for its vendors and fun for its attendees, but it engenders some thought about where these things end up ten years from now.

* First Second extols the virtues of ICAF. The well-known academic conference begins today.

* finally, Craig Thompson posts from on tour in support of Habibi.
 
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If I Were In White River Junction, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Romantic Bison

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a bunch of you sent a link to this article about the decline in web-related rankings for the Newsarama site, which at one time was probably the acknowledged leading on-line comics news-type production out there.

image* Eleanor Davis draws robots for the forthcoming benefit show intended to fund the Giant Robot 2 retail space into more of formal gallery.

* I can't remember if I linked to this, but Kate Beaton posted a video thanking her fans on the eve of the book release of Hark! A Vagrant. That's a classy move, and it's too bad that many comics shops waiting for their Diamond shipment won't have a chance to be on board with this as the publicity begins to hit, at least not right away.

* various DC stuff: Here's a piece on decompression in Justice League #1 and how that story could be more firmly packed for greater value. I think this person likely has a point, but broader, general health of mainstream comics issues have even less of a chance of flying when the exact opposite behavior is being richly rewarded. It's like trying to convince someone of the long-term value of broccoli when they just lost 25 pounds in two weeks on the all-McDonald's diet. Deb Aoki pens a more general piece about the DC relaunch from the perspective of a devoted manga reader. In a follow-up to this week's major fan dust-up, DC would like you to know that what they're doing with their Starfire character really isn't like perving up a show from the Disney Channel, it's more like taking a character from a Disney Channel show and giving her a prominent role on a skeevy HBO series. Meanwhile, Graeme McMillan reviews the whole enterprise.

* although I'm not a big one for Facebook campaigns, I'm all for the end result here.

image* Daryl Cagle wishes a happy birthday to Thomas Nast, who can't hear him. Seriously, though, I don't think anyone would mind that day becoming some sort of recognized day for editorial image maker. Nast continues to be a real influence for a lot of world cartoonists.

* Kristy Valenti writes about Rob Liefeld as a fashion designer. Well, somebody had to.

* while I can get behind the idea of a title that seeks to consolidate a mainstream comics line's general direction for a year, although I think if I were still a twelve-year-old living and dying by that stuff I'd want a more dramatic name.

* this comic shows up every so often on the scan and post blogs, and it's disturbing every time.

* Gavin Lees talks to Metaphrog. Casey Burchby talks to Michael Kupperman, which just from the names involved sounds very fanciful.

* the WSJ blog profiles Toon Books on the occasion of their imminent Hilary Knight release, Nina. That work looks very pretty.

* Sean T. Collins on Prison Pit Vol. 3. Greg Burgas and Chip Mosher on Planet Of The Apes Vol. 1. Josh Kopin on Wonder Woman #1. Rob Clough on various mini-comics. David Brothers on Holy Terror. Esther Inglis-Arkell on Wonder Woman #1. Don MacPherson on Teen Titans #1. Greg McElhatton on Holy Terror. Johanna Draper Carlson on Angel & Faith #2, Pope Hats #2 and Ghostbusters #1. Sharayah Read on Beyond Wonderland #1.

* Bleeding Cool caught that editor Janelle Asselin is moving from DC to Disney. PW reports at length about Betsy Mitchell's departure from Del Rey.

* not comics: I have no idea where this link in my bookmarks to a comics sans t-shirt came from.

* finally, Kevin Czap on the completeness of James Kochalka's art.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Jennifer Daydreamer!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Tim Vigil!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Nicolas De Crécy!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Russ Heath!

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September 28, 2011


Turkish Cartoonist Faces Jail Term For "Renouncing God" Message

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Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be in the midst of a big-time splash on the world stage as a kind of economic success story alternative-to-Iran leader of/spokesman for the secular Muslim world, but his country's record for treating free speech in cartoon form continues its recent deterioration. International news wire stories like this one are reporting that cartoonist (and I believe occasional publisher of his own magazines) Bahadir Baruter has been charged with "insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the population" and faces up to one year imprisonment. He was charged by the public prosecutor's office in Istanbul. Baruter is in his late forties and is a veteran of the comics and humor magazine industry in his home country.

The cartoon in question shows a man in prayer calling God on his cellphone asking to leave prayers in order to run some errands. At significant issue is a "hidden" message in the wall decorations where the words "There is no Allah; religion is a lie" supposedly appear. The cartoon was published in the humor magazine Penguen back in February; the cartoon became a mini-sensation via the Internet and the editors apologized for its publication while Baruter stood up to take full responsibility for the cartoon's messages. I'm not certain why the delay between publication and indictment, although I imagine that the prosecutor's office needs someone to file a complain in order to take action.

This sounds deplorable and slightly ridiculous to me, particularly in that there was already a public reaction and accompanying criticism of the cartoon. Given Turkey's recent history of government officials suing cartoonists that draw caricatures of public figures, this potential outcome could more firmly establish a continuity that's dismaying in the extreme.
 
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Go, Look: John Crespi On 1930s Chinese Cartoon Art

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via John Porcellino via David Lasky
 
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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.

*****

JUN111212 HABIBI GN (MR) $35.00
JUL111154 HOLY TERROR HC (MR) $29.99
This will be the pairing that most people talk about today, although it occurred to me if Diamond hadn't punted on Kate Beaton's book on her publisher's well-coordinate launch day, you'd have a super-intriguing trio of works to discuss and a quartet (along with new Love & Rockets) powerful enough to get any alt-comics fan into the comics shop if that's how they're buying their comics. At any rate, the broadest interpretation of subject matter puts Craig Thompson's love story and Frank Miller's over-the-top sock to the jaw of radical Islam in direct contrast to one another. I'd buy the Thompson first. I'd probably buy it second, too. That's a lovely-looking book, and does everything odd and daring you want a cartoonist to do with the chance afforded them by a major publisher and a previous strong-seller.

imageMAY110248 KAMANDI OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 LAST BOY ON EARTH $49.99
MAR110342 COVER STORY DC COMICS ART OF BRIAN BOLLAND HC $39.99
Two big-item purchases from the part of DC that puts together old comics and work for your bookshelf. Brian Bolland's covers are always a lot of fun, and they're certainly a proven attention-getter over the last two decades. The Kamandi stuff is ragged, weird, glorious late-afternoon Jack Kirby. I think that's 20 issues worth of comics, weird only in that five years ago I could find the individual comic books for $2 or less an individual issue. That might still be true, I don't know. The issue with the giant bats and the super-virus contained in this volume may be the comic book of the entire 1970s.

JUL110238 ALL STAR WESTERN #1 $3.99
JUL110191 AQUAMAN #1 $2.99
JUL110210 BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT #1 $2.99
JUL110236 BLACKHAWKS #1 $2.99
JUL110193 FLASH #1 $2.99
JUL110196 FURY OF FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MEN #1 $2.99
JUL110221 GREEN LANTERN NEW GUARDIANS #1 $2.99
JUL110227 I VAMPIRE #1 $2.99
JUL110223 JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1 $2.99
JUL110198 SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1 $2.99
JUL110203 SUPERMAN #1 $2.99
JUL110239 TEEN TITANS #1 $2.99
JUL110231 VOODOO #1 $2.99
Either all of or most of this week's run of new DC superhero comic book series. I like the artist Moritat's work, so All-Star Western #1 probably appeals to me most, although the nerd in me probably wants to scope out the bittersweet flavors of Justice League Dark, where the dark, Vertigo-y qualities to one of these new DC books is achieved through heredity and being grafted on to this new mashed-up DC universe instead of by pooling a bunch of black ink in the middle of some four-color enterprise of years' past.

MAY110049 FINDER LIBRARY TP VOL 02 $24.99
The second of two books catching fans up to at least this year's cycle of stories in Carla Speed McNeill's many-swear-by-it, many-have-never-read-it science fiction series. I think this works really well as a run of serial comic books, but the ability to get this much material this quickly at these prices (given that both book will probably be discounted by someone out there) tends to be a pleasure.

JUL111059 DAYBREAK HC (MR) $21.95
A really, really entertaining "zombie art film" comic from Brian Ralph, one of my favorite cartoonists. I know that sort of sounds like a cursory appraisal, but I'm not sure what else I can say about his comics except that I enjoy them a lot and want every edition.

JUL111061 PURE PAJAMAS HC (MR) $22.95
Marc Bell's comics for various publications collected into one place and I think provided with material that connects the stories a bit? Bell is a natural-born cartoonist of the kind that anyone publishing him deserves a reward -- although they'd probably just rather find a few hundred more readers of that cartoonist's work.

JUL111150 SAILOR MOON TP KODANSHA ED VOL 01 $10.99
There's likely something to be said about both this seminal comics-for-girls series being reprinted and that this is a Kodansha project, but I'm not certain I have much to say beyond those magnificently broad stop-and-point observations.

JUL110633 NEW AVENGERS #16 POINT ONE $2.99
MAY110707 BRILLIANT #1 (MR) $3.95
FEB110639 KICK-ASS 2 #4 (MR) $2.99
JUL110643 CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY #622 $2.99
APR110705 CAPTAIN BRITAIN HC VOL 02 SIEGE OF CAMELOT $39.99
JUL110742 SIGIL TP OUT OF TIME $14.99
JUL110614 DOROTHY AND WIZARD IN OZ #1 (OF 8) $3.99
JUL110725 EMMA PREM HC $19.99
DC will continue to get all the attention this week, but rival Marvel has a lot of strange comics out this week. The New Avengers book -- one of those "jumping on" comics, the concept of which makes me wonder more than ever after the mental prowess of young people these days -- teams Brian Bendis and Neal Adams. Brilliant is Bendis' creator-owned comic with I think Mark Bagley, interesting in that I swear this has been out already -- either that, or the PR for titles like that is really out of joint with the comic release itself. Kick-Ass is Mark Millar's sequel to his super-successful creator-owned series and money-making movie. Captain America and Bucky is probably the best of their straight-up superhero adventure serial comics out this week. I believe the Captain Britain book is another packaging of some still relatively little-seen Alan Moore-written material. The Sigil book is one of their repackaging of material from Disney-owned stumble-and-collapse publisher Crossgen, while the final two books listed are the serial component and book component of Marvel's supposedly successful book adaptation program. I'm not sure what I'd personally buy here -- I'd probably look at the Neal Adams, buy the Captain America if I were in a superhero-only shop and will eventually try to get the Captain Britain in some sort of used and discounted state. But that's a little of everything from a normally monolithic publisher.

JUL111208 1 800 MICE HC (MR) $22.95
Everything I wrote about Marc Bell above also basically applies to Matthew Thurber; this book collects five previously published issues of his series and one that never was. He's not an easy cartoonist for me to grasp, but I really like staring at this work.

MAY111194 EPIC CHRONICLES HAGAR THE HORRIBLE HC 1976-1977 $19.95
I think you had to be around in the 1970s to remember how big a hit Hagar was and how quickly, although just about the only thing that really survives about that initial crush audience-to-comic is its mighty and never-to-be-bled-dry client list.

JUN111097 LOVE AND ROCKETS NEW STORIES TP VOL 04 $14.99
Finally, I can't imagine there being a better comic out this year than Jaime Hernandez's work in this latest volume. If there's anything that comes close, I'll be overjoyed.

*****

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: Johnny Negron

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Sergio Bonelli, 1932-2011

Sergio Bonelli, a towering figure in Italian comics making and publishing, passed away on September 26 at a hospital in Monza, a small city near Milan. He was 79 years old.

Bonelli was born in 1932 in Milan. He was the son of Gian Luigi Bonelli, the popular co-creator of the hugely successful Tex Willer character featured in Tex, a series that launched in the late '40s when Sergio was a teenager.

imageBonelli began writing comics in 1957 under the name Guido Nolitta. The pen name was initially used to afford Bonelli some professional distance from his famous father, but continues to be utilized in a variety of places even though Bonelli's identity behind the pseudonym is well known. His first gig was a translation of the series Verdugo Ranch from Spanish in to Italian. His first original series was Un ragazzo nel Far West, with artist Franco Bignotti. By the early 1960s Bonelli began to find his level, writing several installments in the Little Ranger series, co-creating with artist Sergio Tarquinio the series Il Guidice Bean and most importantly becoming the co-creator of the character Zagor in 1961.

Zagor was an imaginative western set in the 1820s in a fictional Pennsylvania forest, featuring a kind of folk-legend, larger than life character that fought to keep the peace throughout his largely untamed home territory. In addition to hitting elements of the still-popular western genre, the serial wasn't afraid to fold in elements of other genres, most memorably science fiction. The series proved tremendously popular in Eastern Europe, and Turkey's film industry produced three unofficial movies in the 1970s. The character joined Tex Willer in comics published in the Greece and Israel markets. Bonelli wrote Zagor's adventures until 1980, making him the series' primary writer on 182 issues of the character's lengthy saga, as well as stories for a half dozen or so special editions.

The writer enjoyed a massively successful concurrent career as an editor and eventually publisher with the company CEPIM, the company that eventually became Sergio Bonelli Editore. He's credited with cementing the popular 96-page Italian comics format and within the bounds of genre adventure making sure his line offered up a variety of characters and concepts. Primary among the big hits that arrived under his editorial run was the hugely popular Dylan Dog from writer Tiziano Sclavi, which debuted in 1986. Other hits for the company, of the many that thrived under Bonelli's apparent editorial strategy of leaving his creators alone to make comics as they saw fit, were Nathan Never and Martin Mystère.

Bonelli remained a potent creator in his own right. He co-creadted the Mister No series in 1975, and wrote a number of that decade's Tex stories. In 1990, he co-created the series River Bill with Francesco Gamba.

Bonelli was hospitalized for a week before he passed away. The exact cause of death has not been released.

Sergio Bonelli is survived by a wife Beatrice and a son David, both of whom were reportedly with him at the moment of his passing. David works at the publisher bearing his father's name. The web site of the publishing company that bore his name is allowing fans to post messages. They've announced a funeral for September 29 at the Chapel of the Monumental Cemetery in Milan.
 
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Go, Read: Stanley's Status Seekers

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Missed It: Please Consider Donating $$$ To Ben Snakepit

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I totally missed this notice from Ben Snakepit about some recent financial problems, mostly because as his post indicates he's not a cartoonist of whom I think of when I think "Internet presence." Anyway, if you've enjoyed his work in the past, now might be the time to consider tossing a few dollars his way. Actually, if you haven't seen his work before, now might be the time to tossing a few dollars his way. I hope things have become better in the time between his post and this one.
 
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If I Were In Portland, 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 San Francisco, 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: A Kirby Image Dissected With Close-Ups

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Graeme McMillan asks what DC will do for an encore after their successful September.

image* DC, DC, DC; the company and its publishing initiatives are on the mind right now for many comics fans, even ones that usually don't think about such things -- proof DC is clearly winning the psychic PR battle, too. In that light, Sean T. Collins alerts as to three mighty discussions of Justice League #1: this Brian Chippendale review, this Ken Parille review and the comments under the Ken Parille review.

* Jenni Scott talks to Pat Mills. Seth Peagler talks to Jason Latour.

* not comics: Bhob Stewart runs a pair of old Roger Ebert science-fiction fanzine contributions.

* sorry, those last two starred items were accidentally not about DC. This post about a seven-year-old reading and commenting on DC's Slutty Starfire character is nearly as depressing as the comic book pages of the character out there right now. I don't think the issue is whether or not a company like DC can have characters acting however they'd like them to act as much as it is whether the result is good art. Then again, it can be undeniably weird maybe everywhere but comics to re-purpose kids characters towards racy material. I think if you go that direction you're open to this criticism no matter what sales figures you can point to in counter-balance, or what rights you'd like to assert. This kind of thing also invites discussion of whether these changed characters are interesting characters in and of themselves or if they're interesting only because they represent some fan checklist change in the status quo. If possible, that's even sadder then that little girl's lament. Here's a cartoon on basically the same subject.

* not comics: on the other hand, no one's complaining about Sexy Superman Movie Parents.

* an artist raises the freak quotient on the X-Men.

* Seth Peagler on Habibi. L. Scott on Zegas. Doug Zawisza on Ultimate Spider-Man #2. Chris Murphy on Batman: Holy Terror. Erica Friedman on Morita san ha Mukuchi Manga Vol. 4. Daniella Orihuela-Gruber on Gandhi: A Manga Biography. Sean Gaffney on Bunny Drop Vol. 4. Grant Goggans on Madame Mirage. Andrew Shuping on The Day The Robots Woke Up. Johanna Draper Carlson on Archie: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics 1946-1948 and Stargazing Dog. Paul Di Filippo on Hark! A Vagrant.

* here's a preview of Tale Of Sand.

* not comics: check out this detail-packed illustration for a bank by Mattias Adolfsson. Or take a gander at this record label art by Theo Ellsworth.

* finally, I prefer to see this as comics getting one step closer to the TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids joining those new, sexy Teen Titans.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Flavio Hoffe!

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September 27, 2011


Albert Uderzo Retires, World-Class Freelance Gig Opens

imageThe Australian has the best English-language article on artist Albert Uderzo's announcement he's retiring from the drawing of future Asterix albums. The character has not only enjoyed enduring popularity for its classic run of albums created by René Goscinny and Uderzo until the writer's death in the late 1970s, but subsequent right up to recent albums have sold millions of copies -- in recent years due to extremely strong interest from the French-language reading public in classic comic series, of which the Asterix series is the most prominent still being created. This sales success has come despite the commonly-held belief for many that the post-Goscinny albums represent a significant step down in quality. Uderzo announced that a successor will draw the next album, which given potential sales levels and the newsworthiness of such a project makes that one of the most high-profile comics freelance gigs ever.

Uderzo turned 84 in April. It was announced in January of 2010 that Asterix albums would continue to be published after Uderzo's passing.
 
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Go, Look: Wally Wood Marvel Concept Art

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Michael George Re-Trial In Heat Of Damaging Testimony Run

Now that some of the procedural sideshows have been put aside, at least for the present, the re-trial of one-time prominent Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer Michael George has apparently moved into the main run of testimony against George. George is accused of the 1990 murder of his then-wife Barbara at their Michigan comics shop. He was convicted of the crime in 2008, but that decision was set aside by a judge citing misconduct by the prosecutor's office. The early-week testimony included an ex-employee talking about his perception of the George's relationship and the retailer's flirtatious nature, and an employee at a nearby business talking about a big argument the couple had that day.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Brendan Burford Blogs At Daily Ink

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Burford, perhaps the stealthiest powerful figure in comics today if not in the industry's history, is doing the the recurring feature "Editor's Dispatch." This isn't yet tagged as its own thing but will almost certainly be worth visiting the site itself from time to time in order to dig it up.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* hey, there's a new Kevin Huizenga mini-comic out. These other two new minis feature Huizenga work as well.

* if I'm reading this correctly, the Dargaud effort on behalf of DC will be called "Urban Comics."

image* Darryl Cunningham has finished the guts of his next book.

* Paul Gravett walks us through major November releases.

* I don't run as much webcomics-related publishing news as I should. Here's a press release about a site designed to foster lists of webcomics users are reading, I think so that others might pick up comics to read from those lists. Here's a webcomic I hadn't seen before, Peter Quach's Freedman.

* this forthcoming Forbes-published biography of a segment of Steve Jobs' life has sure been getting a lot of promotional mentions, but I guess it's worth noting that it's coming out.

* me wanty department: Dynamite is doing a Howard Chaykin art book.

* it's not comics, but any new magazine called Illustrators will be welcome around my house.

* here's intriguing word of a long-delayed graphic novel featuring the Man-Thing character by the late writer Steve Gerber and the artist Kevin Nowlan.

* Geoff Grogan posts a bunch of updates as to future plans.

* Ryan Cody is running a slightly different kind of Kickstarter campaign, in support of his Icarus.

* Ed Piskor's Wizzywig has finished up its on-line serialization and will be published on paper by Top Shelf next year.

* Sean Philips is showing off work from Fatale, a forthcoming project with Ed Brubaker.

* I guess some folks might laugh at Marvel angling to get the character Valkyrie over in some fashion, but they've done a good job managing certain characters that way, she has a nice look and decent skill-set, and that company could use a few more B-list female protagonists.

* Johanna Draper Carlson caught that Sarah Becan is giving away the sixth issue of her Shuteye series to owners of issues #1-5.

* finally, Chris Arrant places into context an imminent, translated-to-English work by the artist Trevor Hairsine.

*****

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

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OTBP: Amazing Everything: The Art Of Scott C.

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Mumbai Police Deny Asking For Cartoon's Removal

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Mumbai police apparently now deny having suggested to cartoonist Satish Acharya that he remove the above cartoon about Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar. The cartoon was published on the cartoonist's blog after an appearance in the publication Mid Day on September 5. As if to provide additional commentary about the fading effectiveness of print publication, it's the blog appearance that apparently spurred policy to contact the cartoonist.

The article linked-to above by someone named N. Ganesh is very thorough, getting into Acharya's story in great detail, too much detail for this to be some sort of blurted-out claim to bring attention. Also, as a result of the caller's request, the cartoon has through news reports, blogging, Facebook posts and re-tweeting been seen by tens of thousands more people than might have bothered with it in the first place.
 
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Dave Lapp Is Posting His Children Of The Atom Strips On-Line

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Oslo prosecutor Geir Evanger said his office will try three terrorism suspects for a plot to harm Danish Muhammed caricature cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and the Jyllands-Posten newspaper building that originally released those drawings. That should start next month.

* as terrorists seemingly come in groups of three now, another such cluster (gaggle? pride?) of such men was revealed to have targeted a Lars Vilks book promotional appearance in Gothenburg, Sweden. Vilks was not an original Danish Cartoons Controversy cartoonist or really a cartoonist by trade at all, but an artist that during the political turmoil surrounding those cartoons' publication drew a picture of Muhammed's head on the body of a dog.

* according to this article, a 2006 television report about the Danish Cartoons was the fulcrum point for a study about religion's impact on media perception.

* a columnist named Diana West feels the Kurt Westergaard bomb-in-turban cartoon needed to be a part of the 9/11 anniversary celebrations. I'm not certain I agree with that -- although I'm almost convinced just by the size of her photo -- but certainly media outlets should have run the cartoon art after it became an international news story.

* speaking of the Westergaard bomb-in-turban drawing, that exact tactic is apparently enough of a thing now there are entire articles written about it.
 
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Go, Look: Someone Old, Someone New

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Laura Miller presents her choices for top graphic novels on the stands via the super-annoying slideshow format. I hope there's good stuff past choice #3, because I'll never know.

image* Till Thomas sent along photos from an art comics-related gallery opening that happened in conjunction with the Hamburg Comics Festival.

* Paul Di Filippo on Habibi. Todd Klein on Justice League #1, Sinestro, and The Spirit #17. Rob Clough on Love & Rockets: New Stories #4. Sean Gaffney on Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. 18. Don MacPherson on Legion Of Super-Heroes #1. Greg McElhatton on Wonder Woman #1. KC Carlson on a bunch of New 52 books. Johanna Draper Carlson on Gandhi: A Manga Biography and Bubbles & Gondola. Sharayah Read on Beneath The Valley Of Rage #1. Josh Kopin on Outfoxed. Mike Sterling on Firestorm The Nuclear Man.

* Martin Wisse has praise for an insight of Tim O'Neil's concerning Cerebus and '80s/'90s comics generally.

* Wizard names its essential underground artists, which may seem superfluous given how much of Wizard's content over the years has been about celebrating the great comix-makers of the '60s and '70s. It's not a great list, although everyone on it is actually an underground comics cartoonist (RAW isn't really best understood or even widely thought of as an underground comics magazine). Points to Wizard for I think only spelling one cartoonist's name wrong and for not trying to shoehorn someone like Jim Steranko into there.

* Michael Dooley talks to Joan Crosby Tibbetts. Alex Dueben talks to Dan Vado. Tim O'Shea talks to Michael Kupperman. Glen Weldon talks to Kate Beaton.

* two really fine examples of link-blogging at the rock-solid Robot 6: a funny headline, graphic and idea here; a great find and potential insight here.

* support the CBLDF and learn about the business of promotion by attending this pay event. My own advice for helping people promote their comics is to leave me alone because it's almost certainly going to be easier for me to steal links from other blogs than to understand your press release all on my own, but admittedly I haven't yet had my coffee this morning.

* holy haddock, Aquaman is 70. I still find it fascinating that this guy talks to fish. I know how to swim and how to punch people I don't like and I've worn at least one bright orange shirt in my lifetime; I've never, ever talked to a fish, let alone had one talk back to me. You can keep your harpoon hands, palace machinations and sunken San Diegos: I'd read hundreds of pages of straight-up conversations with sea creatures and pay for the opportunity to do so.

* not really comics, but still quite disturbing.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco asks after the newsworthiness of some random new dude on the re-launched youthful super-team Teen Titans being gay when they just could have made someone like whichever Robin is on the team gay. Now that the Robin role is supposed to be an internship program, shouldn't it be more diverse? What kind of anti-American program is Batman running up there?

image* look at these lovely Rand Holmes illustrations.

* if I remember the story correctly, about 15 years ago when I worked at The Comics Journal we had the subscriptions person search the database to see if anyone famous got the magazine so we could get a quote from them. The only person that popped up was Andy Richter. Gary said, "Who is Andy Richter?" and after five minutes of an argument that's been mercifully blocked from my memory we decided to stick with a quotes-from-cartoonists campaign.

* here's a treat, especially if you're a fan of the specific work but also if you just like comics process posts: JM DeMatteis posts the original proposal for Abadazad.

* Chris Schweizer draws a man in uniform. Here's another longish post with a lot of art from Brandon Graham.

* not comics: here's an outcome that hasn't been fully explored -- newspaper going behind a pay wall but doing it at a really cheap price with plenty of incentives. It's amazing how much absolute white noise and incomprehensibility still exists on an issue that people once thought would resolve itself five years ago.

* this letter from W. Dal Bush about stocking Marvel collections, specifically those from Grant Morrison's X-Men run, cracked me up.

* finally, I totally missed this: James Romberger on Milton Caniff and IDW's Terry And The Pirates collections.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Jim Shooter!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Matthias Schultheiss!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Mattt Konture!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Jack Katz!

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September 26, 2011


Sergio Bonelli, RIP

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Your 2011 Shel Dorf Award Winners

The second annual Shel Dorf Awards were held over the weekend at the Detroit Fanfare show. This is an awards program 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.

Winners in bold.

MINI SERIES OF THE YEAR
* Artifacts
* Daytripper
* Flashpoint
* Locke & Key: Keys To the Kingdom
* Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard

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)

KIDS' COMIC OF THE YEAR
* Little Green Men
* Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard
* Owly
* Scratch 9
* Tiny Titans

COLORIST OF THE YEAR
* Jeff Balke
* Jay Fotos
* Laura Martin
* Nei Ruffino
* Dave Stewart

ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL OF THE YEAR
* Brody's Ghost
* Cuba: My Revolution
* Earth One
* Market Day
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit

COMIC TO MULTI-MEDIA ADAPTATION OF THE YEAR
* Captain America: The First Avenger
* DCUniverse Online
* Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
* The Walking Dead
* Thor

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

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

LETTERER OF THE YEAR
* Jim Campbell
* Jay Fosgitt
* Todd Klein
* Tom Orzechowski
* Bill Tortolini

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

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

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

Additionally, Randy Scott won something called the Jerry Bails Award. Congratulations to all winners and nominees.
 
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Go, Look: We Others

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Ali Ferzat Nominated For The Sakharov Prize

imageAccording to a story at a Tunisian business news portal -- I'll assume it will have broken wider by the time you're reading this -- the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat was one of several Arab Spring figures nominated for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. That's an award named after the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov that's been given out by the European Parliament since 1988. Nelson Mandela was its first winner, while Kofi Annan and the French-based advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontieres are past recipients. The nominees are usually named around now, with a winner declared in October and the award presented on or around December 10, celebrated as Human Rights Day. The winner takes home a cash prize worth approximately 80,000 USD.

Ferzat, one of his region's best-known and one of the world's most respected cartoonists, was assaulted on August 25 by a group of thugs critical of his work against the current Syrian regime and its various draconian policies and actions directed towards protesters during this year of widespread regional political uprisings. As far as I know, Ferzat remains at rest in his Syrian home. An exhibition of his work in honor of his recent travails recently went up in Cairo.

a Ferzat cartoon lampooning his government's idea of dialogue
 
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Go, Look: Our Best Show Yet

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Minck Oosterveer, 1961-2011

imageThe accomplished, versatile and prolific Dutch adventure comics artist Minck Oosterveer died in a motorcycle accident on September 17. He was 50 years old.

Although a greater rarity in his generation than it was for European artists of the past, Oosterveer grew up reading European comic books but holding a special place in his heart for the American adventure comics of the newspaper dramatic serial heyday of the 1930s through 1950s. In a 2009 interview, he cited both Dutch and American comics masters Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond, Harold Foster, Will Eisner, Alex Toth, Frank Robbins, Hans G. Kresse, Piet Wijn and Alfred Mazure as influences.

Oosterveer joked that he became a comics artist because his planned career as a sailor was scotched by needing to wear glasses and not being any good at math. After art school, the cartoonist started his professional career working on a wide variety of comics illustrations and licensing comics through the Studio Peter de Raaf, with properties ranging from Sesame Street to Spider-Man. After a brief period working as a computer-graphics artist, his first European comics breakthrough was in partnership with Willem Ritstier on a series called Claudia Brucken, which ran in Lombard's Tintin and was later collected by the publisher. Their success with that series led to a newspaper comic gig in the sizable Rotterdam newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, which Oosterveer rendered in his take on the American style he valued for its directness and ability to convey mood.

In the late 1990s the pair also created Zodiak for De Telegraaf, that company's highest-selling newspaper. They also did Arachna for a magazine called ComicWatch and a series Rick Rolluik for the Flemish-audience targeted magazine Suske en Wiske Weekblad. For De Telegraaf again in 2002 the partners combined on a strip called Nicky Saxx. That feature ran until 2008 when the newspaper ceased publication on serial comics. A bit later they created a comic called Trunk, a western called Ronson Inc. for Eppo and contributed comics to the Storm series created by Don Lawrence.

In 2008, Oosterveer broke into the American comics market at BOOM! studios. His most notable comics with that company were with the Zombie Tales title with writer Mark Waid. BOOM! recently announced that it's making work the late artist did for the company free for digital download in tribute to their lost colleague.

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OTBP: Smoke Signal #10 With New John Severin Cover

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Jack Adler, 1917-2011

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Jack Adler, the longtime production mainstay of DC Comics and eventually that company's production manager and vice president of production, died on September 18. He was 94 years old.

Adler graduated from high school earlier and went on to become a graduate of Brooklyn College, where he completed an intensified one-year course in art. He didn't join DC's ranks until 1947, when he formally came on board doing production and coloring for the entire comics line, then in a period of outright industry leadership. Adler's contribution to comics-making history began before his joining DC. In the late 1930s he developed a color separation process for King Features on the beautifully elaborate Prince Valiant strip, and assisted the New York Daily News in developing their graphics work. Adler worked for the separations companies with whom DC worked before bringing some of that work in-house, leading industry historians to the sometimes-disputed notion that Adler worked on separations for the comic book's commercial true-arrival point: Action Comics #1. (His friend Mike Gold says in his loving tribute that Adler definitely worked on the less-important but still significant Superman #1.)

imageWhat is 100 percent clear is that Adler later displayed a thorough understanding of color in comics to the point where he and color comic book could almost be made synonymous, a staggering claim in an industry dominated by color reproduction. From his catbird seat at DC Comics and through virtue of his tireless ingenuity in terms of technical solutions, Adler firmly established many of the ways comic books were produced during his long career at DC Comics. Further, he had direct input on how hundreds of that company's characters were to be colored -- an under-appreciated act of character creation. Adler was also a general problem-solver within the company. He inked covers, and also developed procedures such as the astonishing wash technique used to significant sales effect on book covers in the late 1950s and early 1960s, perhaps most notably a run of GI Combat issues and maybe most handsomely with Adler inks over Gil Kane pencils on Green Lantern. He also contributed technical expertise -- he was a skilled photographer -- to the use of photo elements on covers, used to striking effect in the 1970s. The look of comic books at one of the all-time prestige comics publishers during a period of absolute sway and influence can be credited to Jack Adler.

Adler kept his initial production position until 1960, when he became the company's assistant production manager. He held that position until 1975, when he became production manager and vice president of production. He would retire after six years in that last job, in 1981. As a supervisor, Adler worked through a variety of different publishing strategies and claimed to have had no problem -- leading a team he trained in his own methods and preferences -- dealing with any publishing production workload tossed his department's way. Adler was often thought of in terms of working in partnership with longtime DC art director and later President Sol Harrison, whom because of his position of authority Adler would later suggest perhaps shared in too many of Adler's individual accomplishments. The two were one-time classmates, and both worked at separation companies before DC. Harrison brought Adler into the company.

In an interview conducted four years ago, friend Joe Kubert cited conversations with Adler both about the process of making comics and, more directly, about what it takes to start a school as being a significant part of the core ideas he took into the founding of The Kubert School. Adler apparently declined a full-time position in 1976.

Adler won the 1971 Shazam Award for best colorist.

Adler's passing was first reported on Howard Stern's current radio show; the broadcast personality was the late artist's cousin, and in conjunction with that announcement expressed the esteem with which he held Adler.

A lovely photo credited to Adler of Christopher Reeve visiting DC Comics can be seen at the top of this post. Todd Klein -- the man to the right in that Reeve photo -- discusses his work under the old DC coloring system here. Photos of Adler at work, both in the early and latter stages of his long career, can be found at Mark Evanier's site. A slideshow of Adler's work on DC Comics covers can be found here.

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

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Go, Bookmark: Dave Sim TV Dedicated Page At YouTube.com

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I'm providing a non-Collective Memory link to this Shannon Smith SPX report hoping that "Don Heck Yeah!" catch on as an expression.

image* looking at these three images of promotional material from the series Evangeline reminds me that sometimes we experience certain comics even though we may never read them. There are probably comics that I owned that I couldn't recall faced with an image from their pages, and I remember this one even though I never owned an issue.

* speaking of straight-up nostalgia, Marc Arsenault unearths a flier from when Comic Relief made a commitment to carrying 'zines.

* go, look: Kirby's dumbest hero.

* I lack a lot of the chops to make total sense of this chart that people keep sending me, but an analysis of recent disruptions in the manga market as they had an effect on a popular series seems to me something worth returning to until I get it right.

* Jacob Lambert on Habibi. Jason Thompson on Spriggan. Josh Kopin on Habibi. MC Canvas with an illustrated review of Habibi. Sean Gaffney on Ninja Papa Vol. 1. Sean T. Collins on "Touch Sensitive." Don MacPherson on Green Lantern Corps #1. Johnny Bacardi on lots of stuff. Philip Shropshire on Irredeemable #29.

* a heartwarming tale of young comic book reader Alan David Doane.

* Dustin Harbin grouses about sketchbook etiquette at comics shows.

* not comics: Joel Meadows is attempting to crowdfund a book of London photographs.

* not comics: the funny thing about the attention paid leaked photos from the next Christopher Nolan Batman movie is that you'd think Nolan with that last Batman movie that made a zillion dollars and everyone seemed to love would have earned at least some sort of free pass from reactionary fandom scorn, but that seems not to have been the case. Fans are hilarious. On the other hand, this photo of another forthcoming genre movie seems pretty goofy-looking to me and I have no investment in the original material, which I always found really boring. Maybe we're all just wired that way now.

* David Welsh asks someone to please publish this awesome comic.

* that's an amusing page, although somehow this kind of meta-commentary always sort of depresses me.

* to be clear, I think it's entirely possible to know the joys of serial entertainment and to experience the boost in quality that comes via a work with an ending. I love television shows that have a beginning, middle and an end but that run for years, much more than I do shows that continue forever. I don't even really begrudge people that genuinely enjoy endless serial literature, either, I just think there's value in the other kind of story that comics is kind of slowly squeezing from the marketplace in something other than a done-in-one graphic novel, and I think that's too bad.

* love for the British Cartoon Archive.

* Alan Gardner provides the public service of reminding us that the Jay Kennedy scholarship deadline is coming up a couple of months from now.

* Mike Rhode talks to George O'Connor. Cyriaque Lamar talks to JH Williams III. Charlene Renberg Winters talks to Brian Crane. Jesse Pearson talks to Johnny Ryan. I can't tell who this is talking to Axel Alonso. Andrea Queirolo talks to Joe Matt.

* Robot 6 caught mention of something that completely escaped my attention: some grousing over Stan Lee receiving a military service award, which Lee apparently didn't even know that he was about to receive.

* finally, Robert Boyd hates superhero comics.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Tom Veitch!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Stephen Weiner!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Louise Simonson!

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September 25, 2011


Go, Look: Greg Stump Making Art, Drawing Stories At In Yr Shoes

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The cartoonist and comics educator Greg Stump is providing illustrations including narrative comics for a site about shoes called In Yr Shoes. It sounds like he could use a few more shoe-related stories submitted by readers, so get on it if you're so inclined.
 
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Go, Look: Animals In Midlife Crises

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Please Remember The Dylan Williams Benefit Auctions

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Even if you have no desire to help the family and loved ones of the late cartoonist and publisher Dylan Williams in a time of financial need caused by Williams' illness and passing, you owe it to yourself as a comics fan to check out the auction site just for historical opportunities like buying the original art to a Peter Bagge Neat Stuff cover -- 25 years in the rear view mirror now. Jason Miles of Profanity Hill is facilitating another round of material to be auctioned, so there should be noteworthy stuff up accessible through The Divine Invasion for the near future.
 
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If I Were In Detroit, I'd Go To This

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

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

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the fest, not the show
 
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If I Were In Canada, I'd Go To This

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Happy 55th Birthday, Kim Thompson!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Massimo Mattioli!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Bob Layton!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Paul Pope!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Josh Latta!

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FFF Results Post #268 -- Adaptations

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Adaptations From Literature You Like." This how they responded.

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John Vest

1. Valley Of The Worm by Robert E Howard, adapted by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane
2. Red Nails by Robert E Howard, adapted by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith
3. Nausea by Sartre, adapted by R Crumb
4. Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, adapted by Gahan Wilson
5. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper by Robert Bloch, adapted by Ron Goulart, Roy Thomas, and Gil Kane

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. City of Glass by Paul Auster, adapted by art spiegelman, Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli
2. Elric by Michael Moorcock, adapted by Roy Thomas and P. Craig Russell
3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Harvey Kurtzman and David Levine
4. The Policeman and the Citizen by Ambrose Bierce, adapted by Simon Gane
5. Freaks Amour by Tom De Haven, adapted by Gary Panter

*****

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Jeff LeBlanc

1. City of Glass by Paul Auster, adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli
2. The Hunter by Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake), adapted by Darwyn Cooke
3. John Carter, Warlord of Mars (various novels) by Edgar Rice Burroughs, adapted by Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, et al.
4. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, adapted as "Good Ol' Gregor Brown" by R. Sikoryak
5. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (various stories) by Fritz Leiber, adapted by Howard Chaykin and Mike Mignola

*****

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Christopher Brown

1. 2 Book of Kings 2:23-25, The Bible, adapted by Brian Bolland in Outrageous Tales from the New Testament
2. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, adapted by Rick Geary, First Comics Classics Illustrated
3. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, adapted by D.G. Chichester and Bill Sienkiewicz, First Comics Classics Illustrated
4. Jungle Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, adapted by P. Craig Russell
5. The House on the Borderland, by William Hope Hodgson, adapted by Simon Revelstroke and Richard Corben

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. King Lear by William Shakespeare, adapted by Ian Pollock
2. Emma by Jane Austen, adapted by Nancy Butler and Janet K. Lee
3. Excelsior by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, adapted by James Thurber
4. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, adapted by Gahan Wilson
5. The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen, adapted by Lilli Carré

*****

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Jeet Heer

* Action Camus by R. Sikoryak
* Hester's Little Pearl/Red Letter Days (i.e. The Scarlet Letter meets Little Lulu) by R. Sikoryak
* Dostoyevsky Comics by R. Sikoryak
* Moby Dick by Gilbert Hernandez
* Candide cover by Chris Ware

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. City of Glass by Paul Auster, adapted by Paul Karasik & David Mazzucchelli
2. Study in Scarlett by Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Ian Edgington & I.N.J. Culbard
3. Thousand and One Nights adapted by Jeon JinSeok & Han SeungHee.
4. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, adapted by John K. Snyder III
5. Green Tea by Sheridan LeFanu, adapted by Kevin Huizenga

*****

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Steven Thompson

* There Will Come Soft Rains -- Ray Bradbury, adapted by Al Feldstein and Wallace Wood
* Tarzan by Joe Kubert
* Dracula by Thomas and Giordano
* "Repent, Harlequin," Said The Tick Tock Man -- By Harlan Ellison, adapted by Roy Thomas and Alex Nino
* The Illustrated Roger Zelazny -- Gray Morrow

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. The Stars, My Destination by Alfred Bester, adapted by Howard Chaykin
2. Studs Terkel's Working adapted by Harvey Pekar, etc.
3. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll adapted by Kyle Baker
4. Demon with a Glass Hand by Harlan Ellison, adapted by Marshall Rogers
5. Parker: The Hunter and The Outfit by Richard Stark, adapted by Darwyn Cooke

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder in MAD #9
2. The Outfit by Richard Stark/Donald Westlake, adapted by Darwin Cooke
3. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, adapted by David Marowitz and R. Crumb in Introducing Kafka
4. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, adapted by R. Sikoryak as "Good Ol' Gregor Brown" in Masterpiece Comics
5. From A to Z, in the Chocolate Alphabet by Harlan Ellison, adapted by Larry Todd as Harlan Ellison's Chocolate Alphabet

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, adapted by Rod Lott and Lisa K. Weber
2. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Antonella Caputo and Nick Miller
3. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, adapted by Rick Geary
4. The Bridal of Death by Bram Stoker, excerpted from The Jewel of Seven Stars and adapted by J. B. Bonivert
5. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, part one adapted by Tom Pomplun and Simon Gane

*****

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Joe Schwind

* Crime and Punishment (Classics Illustrated 89) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, adapted by Rudolph Palais
* The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson, adapted by Richard Corben & Simon Revelstroke
* The Image of the Beast by Philip Jose Farmer, adapted by Tim Boxell
* The Last of the Mohicans! (TWO-FISTED TALES 40) by James Fenimore Cooper, adapted by Jack Davis
* Rip Van Winkle (Classic Comics 12) by Washington Irving, adapted by Roland Livingstone and Dan Levin

*****

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Kenneth Graves

1) Age of Bronze (The Illiad by Homer), adapted by Eric Shanower
2) Parker, the Hunter (by Richard Stark), adapted by Darwin Cooke
3) 7 Billion Needles (Needle by Hal Clement), adapted by Nobuaki Tadano
4) Cinderalla (Cinderella, collected by the Brothers Grimm), adapted by Junko Mizuno
5) Nat Turner (The Confessions of Nat Turner by Thomas Gray), adapted by Kyle Baker

*****

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John Platt

1. The Selfish Giant by P. Craig Russell
2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mike Ploog
3. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Kin Platt (no relation) & Nestor Redondo
4. Cool Air by Bernie Wrightson
5. Elric by Roy Thomas, P. Craig Russell and Michael T. Gilbert

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Red Nails by Robert E. Howard, adapted by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith
* Mars is Heaven by Ray Bradbury, adapted by Al Feldstein and Wally Wood
* Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, adapted by Kyle Baker
* The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, adapted by Gary Gianni
* The Hunter by Richard Stark, adapted by Darwyn Cooke

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells, Classics Illustrated version, art by Lou Cameron
2. Valley Of the Worm (as Bloodstar) by Robert E. Howard, art by Rich Corben
3. Repent, Harlequin, Said the Tick-Tock Man by Harlan Ellison, adapted by Roy Thomas with art by Alex Nino (I've heard Harlan isn't fond of this adaptation but I think it's the aces)
4. King David, from the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles in the Old Testament, art by Kyle Baker
5. Dracula by Bram Stoker, art by Kate Beaton

*****

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Joe Kuth

1. Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham, adapted by Spain Rodriguez
2. Ulysses by James Joyce, mini-comic adapted by Dave Lasky
3. Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard Von Krafft-Ebing, adapted by Robert Crumb
4. "Green Tea" by J. Sheridan LeFanu, adapted by Kevin Huizenga
5. The Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories, adapted by Howard Chaykin and Mike Mignola

*****

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Rob Berry

1) James Joyce's Ulysses by Robert Berry
2) The Iliad by Eric Shanower
(oh, wait, those are already here...)
3) Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings by W. M. Kaluta
4) John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany by Seth
5) John Steinbeck's East Of Eden by Art Spiegelman

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka, adapted by R. Sikoryak
2. City of Glass by Paul Auster, adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli
3. "Green Tea" by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, adapted by Kevin Huizenga
4. Ulysses by James Joyce, adapted by David Lasky
5. The Man with the Getaway Face by Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, adapted by Darwyn Cooke

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock, adapted by Doug Moench and Alex Nino
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray, adapted by R. Sikoryak
3. Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, adapted by Hunt Emerson
4. The Tinder Box by Hans Christian Anderson, adapted by Damien Jay
5. The Face on the Barroom Floor by Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, adapted by Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis.

*****

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Steve Flanagan

1. "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by DH Lawrence, adapted by Hunt Emerson
2. "Don Quixote" Book 1 by Cervantes, adapted by Rob Davis
3. "The Stainless Steel Rat" by Harry Harrison, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell and Carlos Ezquerra
4. "City of Glass" by Paul Auster, adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzuchelli
5. "Brouillard au pont du Tolbiac" by Léo Malet, adapted by Jacques Tardi

*****

topic suggested by John Vest; thanks, John

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


The Latest Episode Of Comic Book Storytellers


A Visit With Eric Joliffe
via


Some Sort Of Neil Gaiman Commercial I Haven't Looked At Yet
via


Just In Case Any Of You Were Wondering If There Were Ever Real-Life Superheroes


Some Sort Of Video Report From A Marvel Writers' Conference
via


Pete Millar T-Shirts And Short Interview With Those Keeping His Work Alive
 
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September 24, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from September 17 to September 23, 2011:

1. News reports have Danish Cartoons caricaturist Kurt Westergaard leaving Norway and returning to Denmark after a credible threat on his life surfaced. Westergaard was in Norway for a promotional event.

2. A hearing was scheduled for the inclusion of potential new evidence in the Michael George trial. George, a prominent retailer and convention organizer in western Pennsylvania, is being re-tried after the overturn of a 2008 conviction in the 1990 murder of his then-wife in their Michigan comic shop.

3. With every Fall comes the inevitable article about massive disarray behind the scenes at the Angoulême Festival. Somehow, the show always comes off despite these dire rumblings, although I guess you never know.

Winner Of The Week
Ríus.

Loser Of The Week
Ziggy. Now and forever.

Quote Of The Week
"This is a Catwoman for 2011, and my approach to her character and actions reflect someone who lives in our times. And wears a cat suit. And steals. It's a tale that is part crime story, part mystery and part romance. In that, you will find action, suspense and passion. Each of those qualities, at times, play to their extremes. Catwoman is a character with a rich comic book history, and my hope is that readers will continue to join us as the adventure continues." -- Judd Winick

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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the show, not the fest
 
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If I Were In Hamburg, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Wonders Of Our Solar System

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Go, Look: Comics From Cracked #16

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1, 2, 3, 4
 
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September 23, 2011


In An Attempt Not To End The Week On Humping Superheroes

I read a couple of really good comic books this week. I may review each of them at some point, and I'm not even sure they're out yet, but I want to put them on the radar of as many people as possible.

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Love And Rockets: New Stories Vol. 4 contains the conclusion to the recent run of "The Love Bunglers" stories -- again with a heartbreaking digression into the past, for the first time giving us the perspective of a key figure in Maggie's life, Letty -- by Jaime Hernandez, and a potential final chapter to his 30-year Locas saga as well. This is incandescent work. At this point, Jaime Hernandez draws comics better than maybe anyone's ever drawn comics. The story is beautifully paced, there are at least two stop and stare sequences in there (both involving Maggie and Ray D.), the characters are warm and human and funny, one of the subplots addresses with significant insight and potency Jaime's long-time fascination with the power of memory in providing life with meaning and the ending made me choke up both as a moment with resonance across decades of comics but also for the thematic twist it provides on something we've seen in the last few appearances of Jaime's best character (she wanted to hear it; she needed to say it). I don't know that it's something you can pick up out of the blue, but my God, what a remarkable comic. I'm so grateful to have read it.

*****

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The best thing I can say about Pope Hats #2 by Ethan Rilly is that I read it right after consuming the Hernandez Brothers' latest and it made its own unique, positive and subtle impression. The main story engages something with which comics outside of Joe Casey's mainstream superhero books almost never seems to bother: vocation and the constant referendum on self that work provides the self-aware. Rilly has one of those super-appealing, can-seemingly-do-everything-he-wants-it-to art styles. If Rilly's comics were a building, they'd look completely comfortable sitting on the same street with all of the A-list D+Q gang. It's the sensibility here that rewards, however, his way of gently portraying the protagonist's self-recriminations even and maybe especially at those moments when she think she's swimming strongly through a foreign environment. The second story feels like a television pilot for Dan Clowes' Wilson, but even that one's funny and authoritatively rendered, with several sequences placed within the story for which it's up to you to provide meaning. I'd say it's promising work, but I think it's already there.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: DC Comics Splash Pages From 40 Years Ago

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Breaking Comics Down Into Their Nutritional Elements

There are a couple of interesting articles out there about the portrayal of female characters in the New DC comic books, particularly (and maybe only) if you're a watcher of those kind of comics for their ongoing fascination as reflections of pop culture. Laura Hudson's lengthy, earnest piece on Comics Alliance on the sexual proclivities of Starfire and Catwoman in a pair of issues #1 gets at the difference between the portrayal of strong, even sexually aggressive women in such comics and the manipulation of that notion to re-present yet another round of male sex fantasies. Heidi MacDonald's post at The Beat about much the same thing brings in a well-received launch to Wonder Woman and features that site's usual array of revealing comments from people with odd Internet handles.

imageThe thing that pops out at me about this kind of analysis generally is that I wonder how much of this is the fact that these comics with objectionable moments just don't seem like very good comics. I recently read one of the writer Michael Pollan's books called In Defense Of Food. This is an extended essay building off of ideas introduced in his popular The Omnivore's Dilemma. Among the many things Pollan argues is that modern nutritional science and the processed food-driven food industry tend (for the ultimate purpose of maximizing profitability) to separate components of food from food itself even though doing so may be harmful to our greater understanding and health. The way some of these superheroes-having-sex arguments are developed kind of strike me as roughly the same thing, that whether or not these are simply poorly-written or lazily-executed comics isn't as important as how they engage a certain tone, how they might come across to a perceived potential audience, or what kind of portrayal they offer on various issues of identity and representation.

In other words, I'm thinking maybe these comics just sort of suck. I've been going out of town for hospital appointments once every couple of weeks, stopping in this amazing store that's bought out the previous owners (a comics shop) and is selling all the accumulated back stock for a buck a pop. This has given me the chance to check out a bunch of mainstream comics from the last 10 years I never would have read otherwise, including the opportunity to re-read a big chunk of Ed Brubaker's Catwoman run from several years back. There was sexual material in those comics as well, but those moments were in service of wider thematic points, taking on issues that people actually engage in the real world such as the complications of sex as a coping technique utilized by the emotionally devastated and the difficulty of negotiating an intense relationship when different levels of emotional involvement are in place. Execution is everything, and those comics may not do it for you, but I think making the attempt to use plot points to actually tell a story has to matter.

When I read about slutty Starfire or Catwoman humping Batman on some roof somewhere, it just doesn't seem to be about anything but -- at best -- the set-up for some potential, facile, soap opera-style payoff down the road. It's boobs in a horror movie, empty comic book calories of a slightly ickier kind but pretty much on the exact same level of an Ed Hannigan or Sal Buscema-drawn sequence where two heroes fight briefly before they team up to defeat some arbitrary super-menace. It's not about anything but itself: a plot point that's divorced from plot but instead denotes X, Y, Z difference in this character or that one. A lot of modern comic books strike me as less about a narrative and more about the constant rewriting of four-color wikipedia entries. They don't mean much of anything unless you buy into the notion that these corporate-owned characters are inherently important above and beyond the stories they tell. For me, that's not a very satisfying meal.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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

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

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If I Were In Hamburg, 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: Fright Pattern

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* prominent retailers Brian Hibbs and Joe Field enthuse over the success of DC's re-launch. I'm very happy for the retailers that have done well.

image* the writer Tony Isabella, who manfully refuses to use subject tags or any other grouping mechanism, is blogging about a story he did with Steve Ditko several years back. It includes the pencil breakdowns and final pages. Here are six of those posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

* a profile of New Zealand comic shop owner Jeremy Bishop.

* not comics: the secret history of Spider-Man movies.

* here are a few things that John Porcellino learned while drawing a page of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's comics. I'd read something like this every day if it were possible.

* Julian Sanchez notes that the major rich superheroes inherit their wealth while the major rich supervillains tend to be self-made men.

* David Brothers on Casanova: Avaritia #1. Sean Gaffney on Ninja Papa Vol. 1. Don MacPherson on DC Universe Presents #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco not once but twice on Wonder Woman #1. Ed Chavez reviews various SPX mini-comics. Chris Sims on Batman #1.

* click-run don't click-walk to the second part of D+Q's photo array from Helsinki; this one has their visit to Tove Jannson's apartment and studio. Pretty great stuff.

* a short list of World War II-related graphic novels.

* Johanna Draper Carlson makes note of a digital-only DC Comics comic book related to the television show Fringe.

* the writer Sean Collins is looking for artists.

* Nick Abadzis draws Big Barda.

* finally, Mike Lynch alerts us to a dramatic performance of Tomb Of Dracula #10. I always thought performances of comic books would make some inventive theater company a very fine late-night series.
 
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Happy 73rd Birthday, Jean-Claude Mézières!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Peter David!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Stan Lynde!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Paul Ryan!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Dan Day!

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Landry Walker Announces Two Dylan Williams Memorials

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From Landry Walker:

"There will be a memorial panel for Dylan at APE on Sunday. Probably from 12:45-1:45 (since confirmed), and another one in the Bay Are on the 24th of September in Albany, California ."
 
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September 22, 2011


Go, Read: Science Denial

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Seth Wins 2011 Harbourfront Festival Prize

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According to a flurry of posts on the blogs attending various prominent Canadian news organizations, it was announced yesterday at a luncheon in Toronto that the cartoonist Seth has been named the recipient of the 2011 Harbourfront Festival Prize. Seth will receive $10,000 as part of the recognition, which will be officially conferred upon him during the closing evening of the 11-day literary festival in question: October 29. Seth reacted to the journalistic inquiries that have popped up thus far by pointing out the once extremely unlikely nature of such a win.

Seth has a new book out this fall from Drawn And Quarterly, The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. The publisher congratulates the cartoonist here.
 
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Go, Look: Channel Surfing

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* MICE, Pete's Mini-Zine Fest, Detroit Fanfare and Comicfestival Hamburg are among this weekend's notable events.

* APE looms. It strikes me they have some really dependable fan draws this year in Craig Thompson, Dan Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Kate Beaton and probably a couple of people I've missed that are now mad at me.

* Jason T. Miles sent along advance word of Short Run, a small press event in Seattle scheduled for November 12.

* I guess I missed Intervention Con. That's a digital culture show that many people might remember as overlapping with Small Press Expo in a previous year. Did any webcomics people go? Was it fun?

* AdHouse Books has announced its intention to attend the forthcoming Richmond Zine Fest. I think it's good for the more boutique-sized comics publishers to set up at any show whose audience might have an interest in seeing their work.

* you may or may not be able to access this video of Drew Friedman and Abe Vigoda on Facebook, I can never tell. It's from the recent signing for the latest Old Jewish Comedians book.

* Drawn And Quarterly has posted a mighty photo array from Tom Devlin's and Peggy Burns' recent trip to the Helsinki Comics Festival that's entertaining enough that the chance you'll briefly see Devlin's bare ass if you click on the embedded video shouldn't be enough to dissuade you. I love how people in comics are awakening to the reality of far-flung comics festivals as travel opportunities in addition to whatever inherent awesomeness is provided by the show.

* finally, a profile of Ana Merino and the poster that accompanies it remind us that ICAF is next weekend. White River Junction sounds like a great place to have an event like that one, probably the best known of the academic conferences that engage with comics and cartooning.

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Go, Read: An S. Clay Wilson Profile

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thanks, Patrick Rosenkranz
 
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A Pair Of Random Notes About Cartooning And Journalism

* this article by John Feffer at Truthout on the effectiveness of graphic novels as instruments for exploring foreign policy unfolds in succinct fashion with plenty of solid, basic insights about the works he engages and what makes them effective. He's even sharp enough to be unkind to the stupid comics effort of the group he describes. One thing that intrigues me about articles like this one is by nature they have to focus on the uniqueness of comics. This one does a better job than most of underlining that the sensibility and intent of the cartoonist is key as opposed to a broader piece where these works are treated as noteworthy just because they're comics.

* Christoph Niemann has announced his attention to live-cartoon the New York City marathon as a participant in the race -- likely running a mile than walking a mile while drawing. Niemann admits over on twitter that he hasn't figure out the drawing part, and for now is only training for the running.
 
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If I Were In Scottsdale, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Needed: More Heroes Assaulted By Jealous Dudes In Bad Helmets

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Johanna Draper Carlson notes a format change for one of the Archie series, one that's aimed I think at really little kids. I kind of like Archie's current willingness to try a lot of stuff right now; that's an admirable use of their relative stability and perennial appeal. Johanna also writes a short post here about not-completed manga series that need to be rescued.

image* Adrian Tomine donates a nice-looking, unpublished drawing to the ongoing auctions to benefit the estate and loved ones of the late Dylan Williams.

* Kevin Pasquino on a cross-section of DC's New 52 titles. J. Caleb Mozzocco on two first volumes from the Shojo Beat line. Brian Hibbs on a completely different cross-section of DC's New 52 titles. Don MacPherson on Batman #1. Chris Sims on Daredevil #4. Hayley Campbell on Any Empire.

* we join Robert Boyd in sending birthday wishes to JIS.

* not comics: Chris Butcher talks at length about the band R.E.M. on the day they announced their termination. As I was a college student at a southern university in the late 1980s, I don't think it's possible for me to say anything of value about a band that had a presence like that one had in that world. One thing that's interesting to me as a comics fan is a few folks wailing about the band's demise. I can't imagine any interpretation of that group's long run that isn't a success story. Comics could use more projects with a beginning, middle and an end, and more fans willing to see things draw to a close.

* Cyriaque Lamar talks to Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. Jesse Shedeen talks to Peter Milligan. Steve Sunu talks to Daniel Abraham. Mike Rhode talks to Mike Imboden. Felicity Gustafson talks to Sonny Liew. Someone with a fancy-looking site talks to Chris Pitzer.

* this Morpheus print by P. Craig Russell looks nice.

* here's a lengthy process post from Michel Fiffe, focused on his Zegas.

* the idea that the Image founders don't get enough respect seems absurd to me. To my eye, they received more than their fair share of respect at the time Image roared into being, and today are more respected as a group of creators and businessmen than any group of seven of their direct peers you could assemble. Image does enjoy a mixed legacy, but I think that's fair. On the one hand, their initial success and continued fealty to the Image model has and continues to be a positive for a number of creators. They also moved a lot of comics through a lot of stores. On the other hand, their horrific shipping habits early in the company's history severely damaged a lot of shops, and their decision to go in with Diamond in the mid-1990s set the industry on the course of an ultimately limiting and horizon-shortening, single-distributor Direct Market. The relative quality of their comics both to other comics and in terms of whether or not they live up to the opportunities presented those creators is an important issue to many people as well. In the end, if you define respect in bottom-line terms rather than some abstract "sense of the room" taken by a fan of those creators, the Image guys have done undeniably well -- it's hard for me to conceive of too many mainstream creators out there that wouldn't gladly trade their sum total of rewards from the industry for what the bulk of the Image founders have enjoyed.

* finally, yuck. Although if Slutty Starfire is joined by Junkie Speedy and a host of other stridently-portrayed, broad, unpleasant, teen stereotypes, that would be hilarious and awesome.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Peter Kuper!

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Landry Walker Announces Two Dylan Williams Memorials

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From Landry Walker:

"There will be a memorial panel for Dylan at APE on Sunday. Probably from 12:45-1:45 (still waiting confirmation on time frame), and another one in the Bay Are on the 24th of September in Albany, California that interested people can contact me about."
 
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September 21, 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.

*****

JUL111182 MONSTER CHRISTMAS HC $9.99
It's a little early for Christmas, but this is a nice-looking, substantive and funny comic book short story by Lewis Trondheim from I think 10-12 years ago that manages to capture a unique Christmas experience (going away for the holidays) in a bizarre but true-seeming way. I think it's good enough it won't be forgotten by the holidays, but comics is fickle.

imageAPR111049 A ZOO IN WINTER HC $23.00
This is Jiro Taniguchi's latest, ostensibly more meditative work (well, it seems to be presented that way) along the lines of The Walking Man or A Distant Neighborhood although with a heavy cultural history/period piece hook as its protagonist is an apprentice cartoonist from decades back. I'm a fiend for Taniguchi -- his work can vary in quality but when it's good it's very, very good -- but I'm not as familiar with this work as some of the older material, so to find this book in a comics shop today would be a pleasure. Pick it up and look at it if you encounter it.

JUL110011 ARCHIE LAUGH COMIC MINI COMIC PI
JUL110013 BOOM SNARKED HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL110010 CASPER/STRAWBERRY HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL110009 DH SCARY GODMOTHER HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL110015 DONALD DUCK HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL110012 FRAGGLE ROCK HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
JUL110016 MAMESHIBA ON THE LOOSE MINI COMIC PI
JUL110014 NBM SMURFS HALLOWEEN MINI COMIC PI
Speaking of holidays, Halloween minis sounds like a fine promotion to me -- how it's executed would be the important thing, though. For one thing, I have to imagine there's no chance of a comic for adults slipping into some kids bag if the focus is on these minis rather than older comics.

JUL110925 SIMPSONS TREEHOUSE OF HORROR #17 $4.99
And speaking of Halloween, it's hard to go wrong with this annual event -- this year Jim Woodring is on board with a contribution.

JUL110206 BATMAN #1 $2.99
JUL110216 BIRDS OF PREY #1 $2.99
JUL110242 BLUE BEETLE #1 $2.99
JUL110195 CAPTAIN ATOM #1 $2.99
JUL110215 CATWOMAN #1 $2.99
JUL110200 DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1 $2.99
JUL110220 GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1 $2.99
JUL110243 LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #1 $2.99
JUL110214 NIGHTWING #1 $2.99
JUL110217 RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1 $2.99
JUL110205 SUPERGIRL #1 $2.99
JUL110192 WONDER WOMAN #1 $2.99
This is either most or all of the new #1 issue comic books that DC is putting out this week. I'm not sure a single one interests me, but I'm also pretty certain they've all sold through their print runs. It seems like a bunch of books that have been troublesome in some creative sense in the last couple of decades, but that only shows signs of potential trouble for these series continuing to entertain and appeal down the line rather than right away. I'd be excited if to get into heaven required a comics quiz, but doomed to hell if one of the sections was about all the various iterations of that Legion Of Super Heroes property.

MAR110490 ARCHIES JOKE BOOK HC VOL 01 BOB MONTANA $29.99
JUL110855 ARCHIE CHRISTMAS CLASSICS TP VOL 01 $14.95
JUL110841 ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #222 $3.99
I think I'm baffled enough by the avalanche of Archie material coming out that I can no longer comment with any confidence about any single volume, but if I were in a comic book store and saw Bob Montana's name, I'd pick this up.

APR111038 ARMED GARDEN & OTHER STORIES HC $19.99
APR111035 MAN WHO GREW HIS BEARD GN $19.99
Two beautiful and challenging books from Fantagraphics. The first features David B. retelling difficult fables in a way that every single panel is a stop and stare event. The second features Olivier Schrauwen and a suite of stories where deriving even basic meaning doesn't come easy. I'm enamored of both, and have read each one more than once since they arrived. Pieces of both books appeared in MOME.

JUL110637 CAPTAIN AMERICA #3 $3.99
JUL110652 DAREDEVIL #4 $2.99
This strikes me as two pretty solid takes on classic Marvel characters early enough in series' runs that everything should be relatively easy to grasp.

JUN111290 DETROIT METAL CITY GN VOL 10 (MR) $12.99
Your best be in terms of mainstream manga series this week.

JUL110990 GAME OF THRONES #1 $3.99
I imagine there are high hopes for this series, which seems to come along at a perfect time in terms of the television series being between seasons and even that new wave of readers having probably finished with the prose books now. At the same time, I'm having a hard time remembering a comic series adaptation like this really, really working as compelling art on its own.

JUL111112 ZAHRAS PARADISE GN $19.99
This is an interesting experiment as well as a worthy project, as the print publication of this book set in the aftermath of the failed Iranian political protests of recent vintage was preceded by a massive and well-publicized Internet serialization. I imagine it should do very well, as the prestigious nature of the project and its asserted event status soften against those elements that might lead people not to want to buy it in print form.

JUN111096 MARK TWAINS AUTOBIOGRAPHY 1910-2010 HC $19.99
This Michael Kupperman book is mostly prose rather than comics, but it's funny enough not even the biggest comics purist will care. I'd read an entire book of Kupperman listing stupid names of people that Mark Twain ran with in 1970s discos.

*****

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: Linda Medley Lost Starstruck Series Original Art

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Another Day, Another Great Artist Raising Publishing Funds

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This time it's John Porcellino, raising money on Facebook to meet costs on the next issue of the legendary series King-Cat Comics And Stories through the sale of tiny drawings to be included in your purchase of the comic and mailed to you. Not that one, though. It's already gone. King-Cat is one of the most important series of all time, and Porcellino one of the medium's special creators.
 
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Go, Look: Two Illustrations By Wally Wood

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Missed It: Isotope Award Submission Process In Final Week

imageGiven such a busy comics calendar, it's not a major crime to have missed the announcement for this year's Isotope Award For Excellence In Mini-Comics program, which concludes its nominations cycle on September 30. That's the one that's tied into APE, with required attendance at a party in the winner's honor (although I suspect the shop and gallery space would have a party that weekend anyway). Anyhow, it's certainly a good way to bring one's work to the attention of lazy, slack-jawed mopes that don't have access to comics shows where new mini-comics can routinely be discovered. Past winners include Josh Cotter, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Will Dinski.
 
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Go, Look: This World Is Ours

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If It's Fall, It Must Be Time For Angoulême Ramp-Up Drama

The French-language comics industry news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com has up its seemingly annual article on backstage machinations at the Angoulême Festival. As usual, a lot of it seems like a series of minor aspersions cast that mean a lot more to those that know the principals than they do to the rest of us cut with a healthy dose of general, committee-style bloviation, the kind of thing that happens when you have to raise money annually and there are multiple institutions involved: the festival itself, the various government agencies that provide some funding, corporate sponsors, publishers and permanent institutions within the city that participate in a major way during the show's January run.

Other stuff is more curious. From my surface reading of the piece I'm not exactly sure how a festival with potentially 200,000 people attending doesn't generate more money from ticket sales and publishing space fees than seems to be acknowledged in the article. It also strikes me as worth noting whenever a major publisher or two backs out of a show long in advance, as seems to be the case here -- although I think that's happened a few times in the last few years, too. Art Spiegelman will be presiding over the 2012 Festival, so I would expect a bit more than is usual year to year from English-language pre-press, including the various awards announcements in late Fall that serve as a more benign unofficial-but-traditional precursor to the Festival itself.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Mayhem At The Manor

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thx, Randall Kirby
 
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A Trio Of Digital Comics Publishing News Updates

* Graphicly has announced and put into use an app that allows users to install comics on their Facebook pages, which I guess is a wholly unique offering of that service right at this moment. This will be used -- one would guess -- by the publishers in a promotional sense, although the press I've seen also places emphasis on fans doing it in order to proselytize about their favorite books.

* Chris Ware has developed a comic called Touch Sensitive available exclusively for the iPad through the free and I assume easily downloadable McSweeney's app.

* Marvel's digital bundles idea seems like a the start of something that will be used to much better effect down the line. I can't imagine that at some point one of these companies with tens of thousands of past comics not really making any sort of significant bottom-line contribution to their sales won't find a way to employ them on behalf of selling newer comics or subscription packages.
 
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If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In White River Junction, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Tracking Down Luke The Spook

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Kate Beaton is cover featured on the latest issue of the Canadian publishing magazine of record Quill & Quire.

* Yayo won the Charles Biddle Award -- a very nice-sounding award, by the way.

image* please, please, please someone make a giant poster book featuring Mattias Adolfsson's works like this one sampled in tiny part at left. It's like the nursery wall of my dreams.

* Brigid Alverson catches a post devoted to some of Rick Geary's pencil work.

* that's a lovely single image from Paul Pope. Ditto this Jose Munoz drawing from the same source. I'm also a fan of Mike Dawson's drawing of Drunk Hulk.

* congratulations to Dave Lasky and Frank Young on hitting their goal for additional funds to finish their Carter Family project, and congratulations to all of those on board for some of that sweet, sweet Lasky art. Now that that's a done deal, please everybody consider helping out Ron Regé Jr.

* Michael Ventrella talks to Darrin Bell. Pamela Paul talks to Maurice Sendak. Alex Dueben talks to Jim Ottaviani.

* this D+Q photo array and convention report from the recent Small Press Expo is full of enough candid shots that it deserves its own listing away from the Collective Memory.

* Kim Thompson explains that trippy photo comic in which he starred, posted on-line the other day.

* Kelly Thompson on Optic Nerve #12. Sharayah Read on Spartacus: Blood And Sand #1. Grant Goggans on Popeye Vol. 5. Sean T. Collins on Habibi. Sean Gaffney on Codename Sailor V Vol. 1. I have no idea who this is on 2000 AD #1750-#1751. Michael Buntag on Green Lantern: Ganthet's Tale.

* you know that serial superhero comics are starting to get old when there are this many stories about Hulk being shot into space; on the other hand, this is an easy way for writers to change things up for the character from his traditional "hunted" narrative.

* the CBLDF discusses its original art sales.

* the artist and educator Steve Bissette once again talks in reasonable fashion about being asked to do work for free, and all the permutations of complaining about that kind of imbalance.

* so is Vibe still an embarrassment in current DC continuity? They should have a superhero called "Reboot" that always comes out ahead every time they shake the big wicker basket that is the state of reality.

* Graeme McMillan caught that Jim Shooter posted some a decade-old Marvel contract.

* finally, if you're thinking about accessing the new Sugar & Spike archival editions from DC and are still sitting on the fence, here's a bunch of material about the series at Four Realities.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Craig Thompson!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Drew Friedman!

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Happy 31st Birthday, David Malki!

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Landry Walker Announces Two Dylan Williams Memorials

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From Landry Walker:

"There will be a memorial panel for Dylan at APE on Sunday. Probably from 12:45-1:45 (still waiting confirmation on time frame), and another one in the Bay Are on the 24th of September in Albany, California that interested people can contact me about."
 
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September 20, 2011


Domitille Collardey Is Sketching + Tweeting Her Way Across Vegas

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Jack Adler, RIP

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* over at Domino Books, Austin English previews several pages from Spider Monkey, a project he's working on with Jesse McManus.

image* DC Women Kicking Ass tracks the relatively short but extremely tortured road for the Batwoman character to launch in her own issue #1. Speaking of DC Comics, they're apparently bringing back their Ray character, and there are already some creative team changes on other "New 52" projects.

* here's a bit of news I can't say anyone expected: Archaia will release an English-language version of Marjane Satrapi's illustrated book with Edward Gauvin The Sigh in November. Satrapi has a ton of fans, particularly those that will buy her in bookstores, so that has to be a fine opportunity for Archaia. The article mentions that Archaia will be doing similar book-release projects from European publishers in the coming months. Satrapi should also be doing a bunch of promotion in support of her Poulet aux prunes movie.

* occasional writer about comics Ed Howard has moved his comics writing to a devoted site, Thinking In Panels.

* Broken Frontier profiles a book I hadn't heard a thing about, but might be of interest out there to music-loving comics folks (both readers and publishers): Hervé Bourhis' Het Kleine Boek Van De Beatles.

* the cartoonist Billy Tucci is re-telling the story of the birth of Jesus in comics form. I take it from the article that this has a very evangelical Christian thrust, but I'm not 100 percent certain.

* Toon Talk has migrated to Facebook.

* finally, I keep on forgetting to mention this graphic novel from New Zealand or as a OTBP, if only for the relative novelty of new work from that wonderful place: Kimble Bent: Malcontent.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Hearing Set For Potential New Michael George Trial Evidence

As reported here, it looks like new evidence may be entered into the Michigan re-trial of former prominent Pennsylvania comics retailer and convention organizer Michael George for the 1990 assassination-style murder of George's then-wife Barbara in their Macomb County comic book store. The evidence in question -- to be considered Friday in a special hearing -- seems to feed an alternative storyline to George being the perpetrator: a disagreement between another (now apparently deceased) hobby retailer and George over the conduct of this other retailer's employee, and the black car that the figure may have owned that may or may not match descriptions of same given by other contextual witnesses to the original crime. Black cars lingering around crime scenes are a hallmark of most murder cases where there's not a direct, linear, and well-witnessed narrative, but I have to imagine that even getting a hearing on this stuff benefits George. George's 2008 conviction was later set aside for re-trial because of malfeasance by the prosecutor's office.
 
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Go, Look: Guy Delisle's Jerusalem Previewed In Le Monde

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and it looks very, very nice
 
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Tom Wilson Sr., 1931-2011

imageTom Wilson Sr., the creator of greeting card and comic strip success story Ziggy, died on September 16 according to a statement from his family and the syndicate behind the Ziggy comic. He turned 80 on August 1st.

Wilson served a two-year term in the US Army from 1953 to 1955 in and around his attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, from which he graduated in the year of his military discharge. He was briefly employed by a newspaper company in Uniontown. In 1955 he joined American Greetings in cleveland as a designer. He was promoted to a creative director position two years later and would eventually become a company vice-president, at some point serving as the president of the company's licensing subsidiary Those Characters From Cleveland (now American Greetings Properties).

In addition to Ziggy, Wilson was also involved on the creative team that developed the successful licensing characters Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears, and is responsible for the company's Soft Touch line of cards.

Ziggy was created in 1969 for the American Greetings collection When You're Not Around. The comics panel followed in the summer of 1971. Launching in a scant 15 papers, Ziggy became one of that decade's bigger syndicated hits. Ziggy, designed around the nearly featureless character's daily misfortunes in dealing with situations both archly broad and specific to the perils of modern life, drove several collections for Andrews McMeel as that company seized a significant market position within American bookstores. Perhaps unique to modern comics licenses, Ziggy also sold millions of greeting cards through his put-upon yet hopeful everyman appeal, and moved several years' worth of calendars. The feature currently has over 500 clients between daily and Sunday newspaper editions, only slightly down from a peak of over 600 outlets. Wilson turned the feature over to his son, Tom Wilson Jr., in 1987.

In addition to his work at American Greetings and the initial years of the Ziggy comic, Wilson's paintings were exhibited in a number of North American venues (including a show at the Cleveland Museum of Art and a place in the Society of Illustrations annual New York show, according to his syndicate biography). He received a writing credit on the 1982 animated television special Ziggy's Gift. The special won a 1983 Emmy Award.

Wilson had suffered at one point from lung cancer, and while reports of his passing have him dying after a long illness and peacefully in his sleep, the exact cause hasn't been mentioned.

Wilson is survived by a wife, a son, and two daughters.

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Go, Look: Doggie Style

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Mr. Lafler wrote in to say that this first cycle of stories has concluded; I look forward to catching up
 
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Rius Leads Mexican Cartoonist Campaign Vs. Drug War Bloodshed

I'm not sure exactly why this has come up -- it seem like there's some sort of publicity element to it -- but a few articles like this one are out there describing the role that Mexican cartoonists led by one of the world's great lion-in-winter cartoonists: Ríus. The article linked-to above brings with it a few intriguing points of emphasis: the cartoonists are concentrating on the political context for the violence and in no way wish to criticize the victims, even those involved in the drug trade; the cartoons are part of a cultural movement to bring attention to the incredible numbers involved in drug violence (over 40,000 dead since the government crackdown) and the range of victims involved; and the role cartoon culture has in general not just to put issues before a certain segment of the populace in certain ways but specifically as an issues-interested alternative to a way of presenting the news in Mexican newspapers. Given the acts of reprisal visited upon critical bloggers and journalists in the country, the fact that a cartoonist can do an open-air signing of such work without suffering grievous bodily harm seems worth noting.
 
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OTBP: 500 Dessins, Vol. 1

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Report: Norwegian Police Arrest Man For Plotting To Kill Danish Cartoons Artist Kurt Westergaard

Here's a succinct write-up about Danish Cartoons caricaturist and surprising post-Controversy public figure Kurt Westergaard recently cutting short a trip to Norway due to intelligence he received about an imminent assassination attempt.

That article -- and not many others, frankly -- has Norwegian police subsequently arresting a 30-year-old man and charging him with planning the assault, which was to include the use of automatic weapons. The 76-year-old Westergaard was in Oslo when he received the information, and departed the country on Monday. He had planned to attend a book signing on Tuesday. Initial reports since all-but-debunked by the cartoonist say that he had to return home because of a heart attack.
 
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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Frank Frazetta Draws A Western Short

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I like about half of this statement from the First Amendment Center on the newspapers pulling Doonesbury last week. I don't think anyone on earth thinks the Chicago Tribune somehow doesn't have the right to pull material it wants to pull, and to bring it up lends a kind of false even-handedness to the situation it doesn't deserve. However, the statement does nail the Tribune's silly verification excuse for what it is, noting that it makes it sound like the paper vets all the other strips and other runs of Doonesbury, which can't be true.

image* here's something nice: the FA site is going to start running a selection of reviews written by the late Martin Skidmore. I don't know a ton about Skidmore, and in fact think of him more for his late-'80s early-'90s editing gigs rather than as a reviewer, so I'm looking forward to this. The link takes you to a piece on Sinner. Speaking of Sinner, why can't we have all that stuff under one cover?

* there's probably a joke to be had that the projected onlooker to Marvel's story conference speaks in odd sentences that sound weird when you say them out loud. That joke would be mean, and I wouldn't approve.

* kids today, I tell you.

* Top Shelf's massive discount sale continues through this Friday. Such sales are a significant element within Top Shelf's overall business plan, and there's a ton of strong bargains in there. I mentioned last time how I might quick spend $80 bucks on deeply-discounted comics; I could just as quickly and happily spend $81 on these less drastically discounted books: From Hell, Alec: The Years Have Pants, Ax Vol. 1, Carnet de Voyage, The Ticking, Far Arden and League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1910. That's six weeks worth of bedtime reading.

* I like to think of this taking place under a giant metal dome with people hanging from it, like in that third Mad Max movie.

* I think Frank Santoro would be the best teacher in the world.

* Matthew Badham sent along this link to a long post from D'Israeli about doing detail work in comics panel and the time commitment involved in choosing to do that with freelance work.

* Daniel Best profiles Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Rich Baez profiles Glenn Dakin. RC Harvey profiles Max Eastman. Several creators toast Dylan Williams. Raymond Masters talks to Tony Bedard. Philippe Geluck pays homage to Jean-Paul Mougin.

* not comics: masturbation advice from Shungiku Uchida.

* hey, that fan-has-Superman-collection-stolen story took a positive turn.

* on the other hand, the last line in this story depresses me. The one thing that always gets me about the collectibles market is that it's kind of boldly not related to anything other than made-up speculation at this point. It's like we're all on a road trip with a crazy uncle that smells bad and keeps talking about Mamie Eisenhower. The way I first encountered that market -- and I know this makes me sound like Grandpa Simpson -- the comics that cost more were generally the comics that comics fans wanted to buy so they could read them. So when people started to snap up Uncanny X-Men around issue #125 or so, all of the sudden your copy of Uncanny X-Men #94 was worth $15. Somewhere between 1988 and 1995 the whole thing curdled, although even before that there were actual rare comics listed in the guides for cheap or not at all and pretty ordinary superhero comics at nearly every store marked up to more moderate prices -- comics that sat in most shops' longboxes like film at the bottom of a glass.

image* my mom had to be convinced that the element under Garfield in last Friday's strip was his tail, not his penis. Seriously, it was like she had money on it.

* speaking of our beloved newspaper comics, Richard Thompson talks us through the end of Petey Otterloop's ill-fated cartooning run on Cul-De-Sac. He's a very sophisticated cartoonist, that kid.

* I would really like this not to be a story anymore, by which I mean I would like for this to be an unremarkable thing. In fact, I sort of assumed it was a little bit more common practice than a company doing a press release -- or however this story was instigated -- would indicate.

* not comics: the Tintin movie seems to have a lot to do to overcome the North American bias against that unpopular style of animation they're using and the film market's current close attention to immediate box office performance. I'm not sure I care if it's successful or not. No one's career is likely to be ruined if it's not and if it is, we may get more movies that look like that. I guess I just hope it's good enough I'll want to see it and that it will drive kids to those books -- or at least not get in between the kids and the books.

* finally, Electron Boy RIP.
 
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I Still Miss Steve Gerber, Who Would Have Been 64 Years Old Today

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Happy 54th Birthday, Steve Ringgenberg!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Coop!

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A Brief About-The-Site Note Concerning Events Listings

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I'll admit I'm not the best at doing events listings, but a couple of things worth repeating pop into mind while trying -- and largely failing -- to process a new batch of hopeful e-mails.

1) I don't as yet link to Facebook events pages from CR. I don't like it on principle (I think Facebook is for contacting one's friends or fans, not for communication business to business), I get a dozen or more complaints every time I do it, and Facebook graphics are too difficult to make use of for a link. I'm happy to add Facebook pages to my calendar on Facebook, and maybe one day I'll change my mind or simply be defeated by the rolling tides of history, but for now you have to have a link to give me that's not on or related to a sign-up service. Since I live on the side of a butte in the middle of nowhere, I don't even read the Facebook invites that come to me via Facebook.

2) All I need to post your event is basic info, a link and (hopefully) an image -- stuff that's less than a half-minute to put together. If it takes me more than that half-minute to find any of this stuff, I tend to give up and delete the e-mail.

3) I'm never going to list everything. Although I don't adhere to these kinds of guidelines like they're nerd contracts that must be followed to the word, I do try to only list events I could conceivably see myself (or, in the case of some special events limited by gender or age, some version of myself) attending.
 
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Landry Walker Announces Two Dylan Williams Memorials

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From Landry Walker:

"There will be a memorial panel for Dylan at APE on Sunday. Probably from 12:45-1:45 (still waiting confirmation on time frame), and another one in the Bay Are on the 24th of September in Albany, California that interested people can contact me about."
 
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September 19, 2011


Go, Read: Lengthy, Compelling Interview With Zunar

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Not Comics: Bruce Jay Friedman's Reasonably Good Life

I'm greatly looking forward to the autobiography of the humorist, father to future alt-comics pioneers and former Martin Goodman editorial employee. "Every word you write should be put on trial as if for its life."
 
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Go, Look: Slam, Smash, Sob

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Gilles Chaillet, 1946-2011

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The artist and comics writer Gilles Chaillet died on September 14 in the small community of Margency just north of Paris. He was 65 years old.

Chaillet was born in Paris and as a child had twin passions: European history and serial adventure comics. He began working for Studios Dargaud in 1965 as a colorist, working on classic series like Blueberry. Chaillet's resume indicates he was something of a jack-of-all-trades early in his career: he published a couple of gag cartoons in Tintin in 1966, finished a Barbe-Rouge story in 1968 when its creator became ill, did any number of advertising and licensing jobs related to Dargaud characters and anonymously drew 14 small books featuring the adventures of Albert Uderzo's dog-character Idéfix.

His first public break came in 1976 with Jacques Martin on the Lefranc series, a gig the artist kept for the next two decades. He also worked on the Alix series and again with Martin drawing two installments of the Voyages d'Orion books and working on several of the texts throughout the series.

He is perhaps best known for his own creation, the serial Vasco about a young banking clerk in 14th Century Italy since collected in 23 albums. With writer Didier Convard on Le Triangle Secret and more recently Vinci. Those fans of the artist not aware of him for books like the Vasco series may known him for his impressive 2004 map-laden book Dans la Rome des Césars, a book that tapped Chaillet's extensive knowledge of the city and that time period. In the last decade he also wrote for other artists such as Bernard Capo (Tomelaine), Gine (Les Boucliers de Mars) and Christophe Ansar (Cognito).

A 24th volume of Vasco -- written but not drawn by the cartoonist -- will be released next year.

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Go, Look: Instant Que

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One Last Comment About The Dropped Doonesbury Palin Strips

I buy the defense of the newspapers last week suspending Doonesbury in order to avoid complaints and subscription drops behind the laughable veil that the editors would have seriously vetted the book from which the strip quoted if it had only been published even less now reading this asinine article linked to by Alan Gardner. If you're arguing for dropping those Doonesbury strips on principle, it matters not one iota that you're put in the position of defending Sarah Palin -- that's what defending a principle entails. If you feel you're defending the person behind the principle and are troubled about this enough to say so, you're likely not really arguing from principle but from sensibility.

It's fine to not want to run strips or opinion columns or news articles based on your sense of what's fair or proportionate or suited for a daily newspaper and what's not, but let's not kid ourselves as to the overriding motivation involved -- it ain't principle. I'm sorry newspapers no longer operate at a 10 percent additional profit every year in a way that cushions them against occasionally running something other than the blandest content imaginable, but at some point editors and publishers have to decide who their newspaper is for -- the people that get pissed over an expressed opinion that has as much of a chance of becoming an actual legal point of contention as I have of winning the Boston Marathon and therefore drop your publication in order to further wrap themselves in all the stuff with which they already agree, or for people that demand a heady mix of opinion and articles and reportage and features and can process those things like adults. Those papers never should have run Doonesbury in the first place, and I'm 100 percent certain that when the strip was in its prime rather than its Autumn the "principles" involved in this kind of circumstance would have magically been seen in an entirely different light.
 
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If I Were In Providence, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Alex Toth Draws Singing Cowboy Jimmy Wakely

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Alan Gardner catches that the Las Vegas Sun has dismissed their editorial cartoonist Mike Smith.

image* someone needs to do a book of book ownership stickers, like this pretty one by Roy Krenkel that Ron Evry has up on his Facebook wall.

* Ted Brown on Back In The Day. Johanna Draper Carlson on The Spirit #16. Brian Hibbs on a few new DC titles, and a few more. Greg McElhatton on Power Within. Don MacPherson on Frankenstein #1. Sean Gaffney on Oresama Teacher Vol. 4.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco compares comic book sales number to subscriber-only television provided by a former prominent television pundit.

* site note: the Dylan Williams and SPX 2011 collective memories have been archived. I'll still add to them, though.

* Paul Gravett talks to Reinhard Kleist.

* these Ten Of A Kind pieces by Bully are always good for pointing out minor lapses in creativity at the various mainstream publishers.

* good headline.

* I could live solely on a visual diet of exotic shelf porn from distant shores.

* I'm with Sterling on this one.

* finally, Sean Collins leads us to Lisa Hanawalt's parade of oddball fashion week-related drawings. Speaking of Collins, his noting in passing that a couple of the major, dependable mini-comics producers were absent from SPX and this gave him a sense of the energy of the show shifting elsewhere for this year made me think how little of what goes on in SPX reports is really about taking a fact or two and coming to a conclusion -- basic con report stuff. Mostly it's theories of community and the state of the art form and/or debunking of other people's theories with clever rhetoric. Collins also profiles L. Nichols here.
 
posted 3:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Cynthia Martin!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Chris Wright!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Sarah Oleksyk!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Garry Leach!

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September 18, 2011


Dylan Williams, 1970-2011

imageThe publisher, cartoonist and comics historian Dylan Williams, best known for his successful small press publishing house and distribution company Sparkplug Comic Books, died on September 10, 2011 of complications due to cancer. He was 41 years old.

Dylan Williams was born in Berkeley in August, 1970. He split time during his childhood between northern California and India, spending several years of his young life in both places. According to testimony by Williams' friends, he lived primarily in a single-parent household with his mother, Joanna, an Asian Art historian and UC Berkeley professor, since retired. In a 2008 interview with Joe Biel, Williams described being a fan of both metal and punk music, and creating his initial comics with skater friends. Williams received little to no formal training as an artist. He dropped out of California College Of Arts And Crafts in Oakland after a brief enrollment in part, according to his longtime friend Landry Walker, "due to disgust with the school's negative attitude towards comics."

Williams began work at the legendary comic book retailer Comic Relief in 1992, moving between the San Francisco and Berkeley locations. He remained there until February 1996. Fellow Comic Relief veteran Branwyn Bigglestone told CR, "I remember Dylan being pretty shy, but usually with a smile on his face. I always felt like his ability to be entertained and impressed by the world hadn't been smushed the way it had been for so many of us jaded punk rock kids from back then. That's a special thing." The cartoonist and musician Zak Sally, who met Williams during this period, described him as a popular, well-liked employee.

The artist Gabby Gamboa, a longtime personal friend of the deceased, put great emphasis on the younger Williams as "incredibly self-educated, so curious about the world. He always bristled against institutionalized learning, but he could not stop following his intellectual curiosity. He would obsessively read and research about everything that interested him, comics and illustration obviously, but also film theory, history, etc." Gamboa cited his mother as a source for Williams' passion for continuing, self-directed education.

One benefit for cartoonists, comics fans and cultural historians of Williams' active curiosity from childhood through his passing was his work in comics scholarship and advocacy for forgotten or under-appreciated artists. He formally published a few articles -- his most consistent outlet was probably the short-lived magazine Destroy All Comics -- and was singularly effective as a hands-on proselytizer, directly communicating his likes and dislikes to fellow comics fans and other cartoonists. Author and publisher Dan Nadel cited Williams' endorsement as the primary reason for the inclusion of Harry G. Peter in his book Art In Time. Cartoonist Tom Devlin recalled in a short essay at Drawn and Quarterly's blog his being directly challenged in his assessments by Williams, presented with work that Williams believe ran counter to Devlin's appraisal and asked to read and reconsider. Williams also created one of the best artist-focused web sites on-line, The Life And Art Of Mort Meskin.

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In his recently published remembrance of Williams, Sally recalled the most extravagant fruits of his friend's devotion to certain cartoonists: full 'zines of works from favorite Williams cartoonists like Meskin, Alex Toth, Dick Briefer and Bernard Krigstein (a cover for one of the Kurtzman issues is shown here) that Williams made in part due to his access to expensive original comics and archival editions on the shelves of Comic Relief. The idea was to put work made obscure by the shifting sands of history or the profit margins of archival collectors into the hands of comics fans at a cheap price. Sally wrote of Williams' motivations thusly: "Dylan did not do this because everyone would say, 'Wow, how ballsy.' It's because he thought it was bullshit that no one got to see this work. Because it was great work, important work. He didn't want credit for it, didn't want to be seen as the guy who did that, he just did it because it needed doing."

imageAfter a brief flirtation with trying to do superhero comics, Williams had settle into a decided alternative/arts school of comics making. Williams was a founding member of the influential Puppy Toss comics collective. Puppy Toss formed in early 1992. Founding members were Williams, Landry Walker, Scott Hsu-Storaker, K. Capelli and Chris Hatfield. Later members included Gabby Gamboa, Ben Catmull and Eric Jones. Most of those involved had some connection to one of the Comic Relief locations. Sharing an office space -- including the still early '90s comics publishing house rarity a computer -- and working shows together, Puppy Toss may have been best known for its anthology Skim Lizard, which published in both mini-comic and standard comic iterations. The collective also shepherded comics by individual members, such as Williams' own mini-comic Horse. Puppy Toss was a bright spot in what many consider a mostly fallow period in comics publishing -- the business-wracked mid-1990s -- and signaled a move towards a collectivist ethos in comics making that remains in evidence today. It also directly inspired and/or guided other, similar distributors, such as Marc Arsenault's Wow Cool enterprise. Arsenault recalled to CR sitting in on Puppy Toss meetings and even using their computer to make his company's initial advertisements.

Walker describes Williams' involvement during the collective's initial days in terms of "directing the overall look and feel of the company, with a passionate focus on the expansion of using Puppy Toss and a distribution hub for other small press creators." The cartoonist Steve Lafler, then an established veteran in his mid-thirties, told CR that he sought out Puppy Toss and later wrote a piece about them for a local arts publication after seeing and being impressed by some of their comics. "Their espirit de corps, work ethic, love of the medium, and dedication to the cooperative model -- all this stuff was a real breath of fresh air, and a major wave of fresh blood into the Bay Area scene. A lot of talent there! They were organized, had a cool catalog, a giant mailing list. [The co-op model] seemed to work for them; it really looked like everyone was willing to take responsibility for the whole deal, and it looked like they were democratic about it too."

Although several dates are given in on-line materials about Puppy Toss' closure, and some cartoonists left earlier than others, a pair of members suggested to CR that 1995 could serve as an agreed-upon ending point.

Williams moved to Olympia, Washington in 1997 with his girlfriend Emily Nilsson. The two moved to Portland the next year, and quickly settled into a city that would in a few years' time be recognized as a potential comics-making capital of North America. The couple was married in September 2010, in a ceremony performed by their friend Tim Goodyear.

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Williams continued cartooning during the Olympia-to-Portland period, creating the initial issues of his series Reporter, a true crime comic called The Crime Clinic (with Slave Labor), and a recurring strip feature called "Hey, Grandpa!"

It was in Portland that Williams began what many consider his life's work: Sparkplug Comic Books. Cited by some as the first Sparkplug project (a copy of Reporter: Little Black claims that title for itself, with Orchid the second), and certainly the book that put the company on the small press comics map and established elements that would in many ways define the publisher over the next several years, was the anthology Orchid. Featuring Victorian horror stories adapted by artists such as Gabrielle Bell, David Lasky and Kevin Huizenga, Orchid debuted at the Small Press Expo in 2002.

Although he's unclear about the exact provenance of the book in terms of Sparkplug's initial output, co-editor Ben Catmull described to CR the origins of the book as a publishing project. "A couple of years before Orchid, Dylan and I had contributed to an anthology called Toxic Paradise. It was published by Slave Labor and edited by Landry Walker and Eric Jones. The theme was zombies. That gave Dylan the idea to edit his own horror-themed anthology. His initial idea was to have H.P. Lovecraft as the theme. For some reason he invited me to be the co-editor. I didn't know what that entailed. I just knew that I liked the idea of working with Dylan.

image"I forget why but he changed his mind and wanted the theme to be adaptations of authentic Victorian horror stories. In theory this sounded like a great idea to me. But in reality I had never read any old Victorian horror stories. So I wasted most of the time frantically reading through lots of short stories trying to find just the right one. By the time I found one that excited me I realized that it would have been too massive to finish on time. So I fell back onto adapting something almost embarrassingly short.

"I think among the other contributors, Gabrielle Bell was the only one that I had suggested and the rest were invited by Dylan. Since Dylan and I lived really far apart I didn't really know how to stay involved with the production and distribution of the book. I ended up having so little to do with the making of Orchid that it was out of Dylan's generosity that I was still credited as co-editor."

The resulting book was a consistently high-quality, well-written, engagingly drawn and strikingly well-conceived work featuring cartoonists that clearly deserved -- if not demanded -- a wider audience. It remains one of the strongest collective artistic statements made by the rising post-alternative generation of cartoonists that emerged of the late '90s/early '00s. The book continues to be sold in the Sparkplug Comic Books shop, and is as compelling a work now as it was at the time of its initial publication.

imageOver the next several years, Sparkplug Comic Books published anthologies, solo comics, collections of previous work and stand-alone book volumes. Williams was specifically devoted to the pamphlet comic book, long the most accessible of the standard comic publishing formats, at a time during which most publishers scrambled towards the more beneficial math provided by the graphic novel/trade paperback model. Although Williams himself would likely shy away from any discussion of publishing highlights having passion and enthusiasm for all of his projects, among the best-received works Sparkplug released to the world were John Hankiewicz's Asthma, Chris Cilla's The Heavy Hand, Chris Wright's Inkweed, David King's Lemon Styles, Jason Shiga's Bookhunter, Trevor Alixopulos' The Hot Breath Of War and Rina Ayuyang's Whirlwind Wonderland (with Tugboat Press). Sparkplug also published two of the best alternative comics series of the last decade: Jeff Levine's Watching Days Become Years (page shown) and Elijah Brubaker's Reich. It is difficult to imagine the majority of Sparkplug's projects finding initial homes elsewhere, or the larger world of comics over the last decade-plus without them. Over 50 creators and nearly a dozen anthology titles were affiliated with Sparkplug in either a publishing or distributing capacity by the time of Williams' passing.

Williams also became widely known in comics circles for eschewing sales avenues he found ethically unappealing or somehow not in line with Sparkplug's aims and goals. He shunned Amazon.com when similar publishers embraced the on-line bookselling giant. When dominant hobby shop distributor Diamond tightened its sales requirements and this caused them to take an outright pass on Hellen Jo's spectacular and critically lauded Jin And Jam #1, Williams withdrew his work from the Diamond sales gauntlet. He focused on putting work into comics stores through alternative routes such as direct sales and moving copies via the independent sales agent Tony Shenton. Williams was an effective hand-seller of comics who displayed at any number of conventions, and was the most active alternative comics publisher and distributor in terms of routinely attending the 'zine culture's various public shows. He became an organizer with the Portland Zine Symposium, and cited such shows generally as a key to reaching his comics' natural audience. The Sparkplug Comic Books web site, which facilitated direct sales of a different sort, has long been both inviting and easy to use.

In February 2009, Williams opened the DVD and bookstore Bad Apple in Portland with Tim Goodyear, a project the pair had dreamed up in the previous year. Williams told interviewer MK Reed in 2010, "We were both sort of feeling like we had some understanding of comics and wanted to do something we were both totally no good at. We're going to be continuing all kinds of stuff like that throughout our lives, it would seem. Both of us love movies and books and art, and we wanted a way to involve ourselves in the larger community of Portland." The store also provided Williams with a workspace through which he could pursue his Sparkplug-related activities.

Although his choices gave Williams the reputation of someone working counter to certain comics' business interests, his friend, the cartoonist and fellow distributor Jason T. Miles of Profanity Hill emphasized to CR that Williams' positions were not about a rejection of any arts or business culture but an embrace of self. "Dylan loved and devoured all forms of culture, both mainstream and obscure. Dylan ceaselessly sought and struggled to find a way for himself and others to proudly and fearlessly be themselves... be yourself, even if that means you aren't going to appeal to 'mainstream taste' or 'alternative taste.' We're barely alive and its stunning to recognize how easy it is to succumb to shallow trends, whether aesthetically or commercially, all in the service to abate the fearful desire of wanting to be loved and accepted. Dylan bravely inverted this well-worn ego tread and helped many, many people to find and express themselves through art. He had such a gift for recognizing what made a person special."

During Sparkplug's fifth anniversary year in 2007, Williams rewrote the page on his company's web site discussing the house's conception and general aims:
"Sparkplug Comic Books is a small publisher. The intent is to stay small, as small as I can keep it. I like the idea of getting little seen work to a wider audience. I've moved on from simply that. Also, it seems a little bit presumptuous and self-aggrandizing.

"Most of the work Sparkplug and I've published over the past 5 years has been put to print because I liked it, more than any other reason. So, I can't really claim to be publishing people whose work hasn't been seen by a wider audience. Ultimately it comes down to me liking the work.

"In looking back, the choice of work seems to have been based on the writing, first and foremost. Emphasizing the 'book' in comic book. And yet there have been visually based works as well. My chief requirement being that the work I've published made me think and challenged me as a reader, requiring an investment of time and thought."
In that same statement, Williams cited bringing on other books and minis from self-publishers that he admired as the biggest change in Sparkplug's first half-decade, and wrote that distributing comics he admired was nearly as much fun as publishing them.

imageSometimes lost in the achievements that fell to Sparkplug was Williams' own cartooning work. His best-known comics were those found in the series Reporter, although Williams created a number of considerable shorter works as well. Cartoonist, publisher and critic Austin English was a fan. "Dylan's cartooning is just as beautiful as his publishing, but perhaps less obviously pleasing -- Dylan might have liked that about it, the not-easy nature of it," English told CR. Dylan is someone who loved Alex Toth but also loved 'vaguenesss' in storytelling. It's something Dylan talked about a lot -- how he appreciated 'unclear' art. And so you have a lot of Dylan in his cartooning: that obvious love for Noel Sickles' cartooning coupled with perhaps the opposite of Sickles. I think one of the nicest things to be said about Dylan recently was that he would discuss 'Steve Ditko and Fiona Logusch comics in the same breath.' His cartooning does this, too."

Sparkplug Comic Books became a consistent presence at the Small Press Expo's Ignatz Awards over the last 11 years, pulling in 19 nominations and a win in 2003 for Jason Shiga's Fleep in the "Outstanding Story" category. The number of honors won by artists with whom Sparkplug had some relationship, particularly early on in their careers, has and will continue to be felt outside of those with the official imprimatur. Regarding this year's "Outstanding Graphic Novel" winner Gaylord Phoenix, its publishers Barry Matthews and Leon Avelino posted on their Secret Acres blog on September 16, "Long before we came along, Dylan was buying up [cartoonist] Edie [Fake]'s extra Gaylord minis and distributing them, and trading comics with him. He was offering any kind of support he could, because that's what Dylan did for cartoonists."

Williams had the attention and admiration of his peers. "Dylan was a super-interesting publisher," Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds told CR. "Not just what he published, but how he published. Jason Miles and I have talked for years about this, about what a pure example Sparkplug has set for all of us publishing alternative comics. I think more than any other his contemporaries, from bigger companies like us and D&Q to smaller ones like PictureBox or Buenaventura, Dylan really just published what he liked, for the sake of it, with virtually no concern for his own bottom line. If he had faith in the work, that was enough. That can be true for any of us, from book to book, but I don't think anyone was quite as consistent about it as Dylan. Look at his quiet devotion to the comics format -- the pamphlet format -- in the face of all logic. I doubt anyone in comics had better and more honest intentions as a publisher than Dylan."

Reynolds cited Williams' commitment to his artists as a key factor in his company's success. "His weaknesses somehow became his strengths, his integrity trumped his ambition and Sparkplug was the better for it. I know, for example, that Dylan loved established cartoonists like Jaime Hernandez or Dan Clowes. But I don't think he had any ambition to publish artists like that. They already had an audience; he would rather help someone like Austin English or Chris Cilla find theirs. That's really something."

Working for an older, more established company and putting many of the same cartoonists into traditional bookstores via individual books and anthologies like MOME, Reynolds respected the way that Williams sold Sparkplug's work through as many different channels as possible. "Dylan created a better grassroots network for finding homes for these books than just about anyone," Reynolds said. "I suspect he sold a smaller percentage of books in the usual marketplace -- comic shops and general bookstores -- than just about any publisher out there aside from maybe a company like Archie. I'm not even sure how he did it. It was clearly a byproduct of coming from punk and 'zine culture. None of which is to say he didn't want to make money. I think he very much wanted Sparkplug to pay for itself so he could simply continue to do what he loved doing, and I know he worked really hard at it. But I think he was happy being on the fringes, championing work that no one else would."

"More than anything, I admire how many cartoonists he encouraged and nurtured. He really befriended his artists; I sense he really cared about them as much as their work. I can't think of a guy off the top of my head who gave more of himself to comics and cartoonists. I loved Austin English's anecdote about Dylan telling him that 'selling comics was god's work.' I'm sure he said it with tongue-in-cheek, but on the other hand, he had clearly found his own higher calling."

English cited Williams as an inspiration for his own company. "Me starting Domino Books is 100% a result of knowing Dylan," English told CR. He described the generous nature with which Williams received news of efforts some people might have seen as competitive interests, and noted that Williams paid close attention to cartoonists he thought he could bring a wider audience "Dylan believed in encouraging people and he often resisted publishing people who he thought 'would get attention anyway.' That's to say, there were cartoonists he loved that were actively looking for a publisher that he avoided working with because he felt they would find support anyway. There were potentially popular books that he loved artistically that he could have published that he backed away from because he was sure those artists would find other helping hands. He published work that he felt needed to be published by him and supported that work relentlessly."

"Dylan's support of my work changed my life and I'm not alone -- it wasn't merely someone printing your work -- there was a huge amount of faith and belief that Dylan instilled in you and Dylan believed that was an important thing to do. If you believed in someone, you better let them know," English added. "If you worked with Dylan, you were a partner and he believed in the ebst aspects of you. At times that belief was hard to live up to and I think you often let Dylan down. But more often then not, you rose to the occasion."

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David King described to CR the experience of being published by Williams. "I've never dealt with any other publishers but I get the impression that unless he has some clout an artist can't just do whatever he wants if he's working with one of the bigger outfits." He described Williams an an editor with a light touch, someone with an eye on making the published work as close to that conceived by the artist. "My experience with Dylan on the three books I've done with him is that the whole project should end up exactly how I envisioned it and I never got pushed around editorially by him. I'm pretty sure he handled people differently, though, by being more involved or less involved in putting together books depending on the artist. He was a production junkie and we always talked a lot about the paper and InDesign or what-have-you. He did all the printing locally and always called me up from the print shop on the day the book was being printed and reassured me that everything was going to look OK."

"I think he was annoyed that I kept sending him oddball square books and he'd give me the business about it once in a while, but he was committed to doing right by the people he worked with and making good comic books," King wrote to CR. "He never asked me to change anything. He always seemed genuinely excited and interested in the stuff I'd send him and checked in every now and then to see if had a new book in the works, probably his way of gently telling me to get busy when he knew I wasn't doing anything. We joked that Lemon Styles might put Sparkplug out of business because it's overpriced and too big, but he did it anyway, which was pretty nice of him."

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In "Alex Toth," a short comic done for English published in 2009's Windy Corner Magazine #2, Williams mentions a diagnosis of leukemia and discussing with the comics art great their mutual health problems. This is as public a confession that exists that Williams suffered from cancer starting with that leukemia, a series of diagnoses and setbacks that would eventually take his life. Williams fought the disease in its various permutations privately -- most had no idea he was ever sick, while others could never quite figure out exactly when and to what extent -- and with considerable dignity and tenacity.

"His initial diagnosis with cancer made him very aware of time," Landry Walker told CR. "He hated to waste it. He was always very concerned with personal control, and despised the idea of any substance -- such as sugar or caffeine or alcohol -- controlling him. He was already a vegetarian when I met him, and had quit smoking cigarettes earlier as well. I watched him swear off caffeine, which was weird because he was obsessed with his morning coffee for years. But it was about health and control for him, and that was something that carried through to his handling of art and business." In a short essay at The Comics Journal, Trevor Alixopulos described a changed man. "He had a touch that some people have when they've been breathed on by something large and final. He was a little less carefree, but had a depth of compassion that was all the more poignant because you could tell it was something that he wrestled into being, and continued to wrestle with."

Williams returned to the hospital in the summer of 2011 facing renewed complications from cancer. He revealed some of the basics of his situation on a Facebook post or two, and was immediately surrounded by a swarm of concern from friends and professional colleagues. On August 23, Williams gave the nod to critic Robert Clough that he would be amenable to receiving support through the purchase of books from Sparkplug. This led to an extended effort by many on-line sources and comics community advocates asking friends of the company and comics consumers generally to consider buying works from the publisher. For many it brought into focus the wealth of Sparkplug's publishing catalog. Williams' friend Jason Leivian of Floating World organized a two-day sale at his Portland store, during which they raised money equivalent to two full New Comics Day's worth of sales for Williams. Leivian also organized a books-and-art auction that drew support ranging from Iron Man writer Matt Fraction to cartoonist/printmaker Jordan Crane.

Williams was apparently in relatively good health and seemed to many on the road to recovery when the Small Press Expo began the weekend of September 10. Friends Tom Neely and JT Dockery were manning the Sparkplug Comic Books table in Williams' place, in part in order to raise additional monies for the publisher. Word of Williams' passing hit the show in the second half of the Expo's first day, recasting the event, attended as always by a significant number of Williams' friends, fans and affiliated cartoonists, in a melancholic light. Most of the week of September 11 in the small press and independent comics communities was given over to on-line tributes to the publisher and cartoonist, many extolling his considerate nature, intellectual curiosity and virtues as a friend.

Landry Walker related the following story to CR. "When I was 20 years old I jumped on a stone wall out by the ocean and almost fell. Dylan grabbed me by the back of my jacket and saved me from what would have been a very bad fall. He wasn't the kind of guy who would even accept thanks for something like that. He seemed both embarrassed and respectfully amused by gratitude. I don't think he usually felt it was necessary. All he expected from people was to be listened to and treated with respect. You gave him that you had his absolute dedication."

Dylan Williams was laid to rest on Thursday, September 15, in Portland's Riverview Cemetery, attended to and remembered with abiding fondness by the community of people in which he was a valued, trusted member. Williams is survived by his wife, a father, a mother, and hundreds of cartoonists for whom he'll long remain a guiding light and beloved figure.

*****

My deepest thanks to Williams' friends and peers for taking time to answer questions during a very difficult week. Any correction as to factual information in the above would be greatly appreciated and more material may be added as new information on Williams' life comes to light.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Solano Lopez In British Comics Magazines

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Not Comics: Lord Of The Rings Concept Art

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Go, Look: Martin Groch

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

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

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

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

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Happy 62nd Birthday, William Stout!

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Happy 19th Birthday, Brian Ralph!

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he's sensitive
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Chris Radtke!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Gary Groth!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Joe Kubert!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Robin Brenner!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, John Porcellino!

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FFF Results Post #267 -- Saturday Night Superhero Movie

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Make Up Five Made-For-TV Marvel Movies From The 1970s And Indicate Who Played The Lead." This is how they responded.

*****

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Chris Duffy

* Guardians of the Galaxy -- Richard Benjamin (as Vance Astro), Billie Dee Williams (Yondu), John Travolta (Martinex), Beau Bridges (Charlie 27)
* Supervillain Team-Up -- David Carradine (Namor) and Henry Winkler (Victor Von Doom)
* Valkyrie (Susan Dey)
* Nova (Robbie Benson)
* N'Kantu, the Living Mummy (Howard Rollins)

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Wolverine, Harvey Keitel
2. Nick Fury, Barry Newman
3. Omega The Unknown, Barry Bostwick
4. The Black Widow, Susan Sullivan
5. Master Of Kung Fu, Yuen Biao

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Spider-Woman, Pamela Sue Martin
2. Killraven, Grant Goodeve
3. Daredevil, Parker Stevenson
4. She-Hulk, Anne Lockhart
5. Valkyrie, Cheryl Ladd

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Machine Man -- Lee Majors
2. Black Panther -- John Amos
3. Jarvis -- Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D-- Christopher Hewitt (Mr. Belvedere)
4. The Watcher -- Telly Savalas
5. ROM -- The Robot (Lost in Space)

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. The Shroud, Ted Danson
2. Dr. Strange, Peter O'Toole
3. Ghost Rider, Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel
4. Luke Cage Power Man, Jim Brown
5. Ms. Marvel, Cathy Lee Crosby

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Iron Man, Nick Adams
2. Nick Fury, Robert Culp
3. Professor X of the X-Men, Ray Milland
4. Ms. Marvel, Cheryl Ladd
5. Howard the Duck, Billy Barty in a Sid & Marty Krofft costume

I bet you're getting some terrific responses to this, and can't wait 'til Sunday!

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Here Comes Storm, Tamara Dobson
2. The Man Called Nova, Wesley Eure
3. Giant-Man & The Wasp, Van Williams & Niki Dantine
4. X-51, Jeff Bridges (cameo by Lloyd Bridges as Dr. Abel Stack)
5. Odin's Other Son: Loki, Rip Taylor (played as a campy comedy, obviously)

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Ant-Man & Wasp -- Martin Landau and Barbara Bain
2. Iron man -- Warren Beatty
3. Batroc -- Jean Paul Belmondo
4. Mad Thinker -- Bobby heenan
5. Doctor Doom -- Vincent Price

*****

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Justin J. Major

* Captain America - Steve McQueen
* Doctor Strange - Yul Brynner
* The Inhumans - Burt Reynolds and Sally Field
* The Thing - Ox Baker
* Killraven - Dennis Hopper

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Ant-Man, Randolph Mantooth
2. The Human Fly, Rick Rojatt
3. Man-Thing, Ted Cassidy
4. Black Panther, Dennis Haysbert
5. Dominic Fortune, Richard Hatch

*****

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Robert Berry

* Quasar -- Bruce Jenner
* Captain America And The Falcon -- Robert Redford and John Amos
* Giant Man And The Wasp -- Barry Bostwick and Yvette Mimieux
* Omega The Unknown -- Clint Walker
* Starlord -- Barry Williams

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Iron Man, Burt Reynolds
2. Nick Fury, Barry Newman (I hadn't thot of that, but now that you mention it, yeah, in a heartbeat)
3. Shanna the She-Devil, Farrah Fawcett
4. Hero For Hire, John Amos
5. Giant Size Man-Thing, John Holmes

*****

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Matt Silvie

1. Man-Thing, Klaus Kinski
2. MODOK, Edith Massey
3. The Black Panther, Redd Foxx
4. Luke Cage, Richard Pryor
5. Spider-Woman, Edwige Fenech

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1-4 The Fantastic Four
Mr. Fantastic, Richard Benjamin
The Invisible Girl, Cybil Shepherd
The Human Torch, John Schneider
The Thing, Fred Dryer
5. Skull The Slayer, Chuck Norris

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Spider-Woman, Jaclyn Smith
2. Doctor Druid, Leonard Nimoy
3. Iron Fist, Chuck Norris
4. Fing Fang Foom, Mako Iwamatsu (voice)
5. Blade, Jim Kelly

*****

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Joe Vince

* Iron Man: Charles Bronson (co-starring his robe from "The Mechanic")
* Fantastic Four: Leonard Nimoy, Sid Haig, Leif Garrett, Debbie Harry
* Heroes for Hire: Jim Brown and Sean Cassidy
* Punisher: William Devane
* Howard the Duck: Billy Barty

*****

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Christopher Brown

1) The Days & Nights of J. Jonah Jameson -- Hal Linden
2) Ghost Rider -- Evil Knievel
3) Tigra -- Farrah Fawcett
4) Howard The Duck -- Hervé Villechaize
5) Fantastic Four -- Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Fantastic, Jack Klugman as the Thing, David Cassiday as the Human Torch, and Marie Osmond as the Invisible Girl, and Orson Welles as Dr. Doom

*****

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Paul Sloboda

1. The Dazzler - Cheryl Ladd
2. Iron Man - Burt Reynolds
3. Machine Man - Patrick McGoohan
4. Fantastic Four - Richard Sanders (Les Nessman from WKRP) as Reed Richards
5. Thor - Gary Busey

*****

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J. Colussy Estes

* Tony Stark, Iron Man!, Don Adams
* Thongor, Richard Chamberlain
* She Hulk, Lauren Tewes
* Doctor Strange, Gabe Kaplan
* Power Man & Iron Fist, Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder

*****

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Mike Lynch

1. Deathlok, John Saxon
2. Night Nurse, Joan Van Ark
3. Ghost Rider, Michael J. Pollard
4. Nick Cage, Lloyd Haynes
5. Man-Thing, Janos Prohaska

*****

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Brian Fies

1. Werewolf By Night, Bud Cort
2. The Scarlet Witch, Jaclyn Smith
3. Ben Urich, Reporter, Darrin McGavin
4. The Black Panther, Lloyd Haynes
5. Galactus, Charlton Heston

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) The Fantastic Four. Bill Bixby as Reed Richards. Jessica Lange as Sue Storm. Mark Hamill as Johnny Storm. Ernest Borgnine as Ben Grimm.
2) Gil Gerard as Captain America
3) Sidney Poitier as Brother Voodoo
4) Jack Palance in Tomb of Dracula
5) Peter Fonda in Son of Satan

*****

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John Siuntres

* Iron Fist, Perry King
* Iron Man, Gabe Kaplan
* Nick Fury, Chad Everett
* Werewolf By Night, Ken Howard
* Night Nurse, Lee Merriwether

*****

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Elliot Blake

* Daredevil/Randy Mantooth
* Black Widow/Faye Dunaway
* Man-Thing/Richard Benjamin
* Dr. Strange/Ben Gazzara
* Woodgod/Paul Lynde

*****

topic suggested by Chris Duffy; thanks, Chris

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


Fake Stan Lee At Comic-Con 2011
via


A Short Interview With Dan Wasserman


SPX 2011 Panel -- Navigating the Contemporary Publishing Landscape


Teaser Trailer For The Last Mortician


SPX 2011 Panel -- Images of the Body


A Progress Report From Alison Bechdel
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Not Comics: A Video A Friend Of Mine Linked To On Facebook That Reminded Me Of Those Beasts Books
 
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September 17, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from September 10 to September 16, 2011:

1. Cartoonist and publisher Dylan Williams passed away on September 10 from complications due to cancer. A long-ago employee at Comic Relief and a founding member of the 1990s cartoonist collective Puppy Toss, Williams' best-known work as a cartoonist was Reporter and his best known work of any kind was the small press publishing house and distributor Sparkplug Comic Books.

2. A smattering of major newspapers drop Doonesbury for the week over his use of snippets from an as-yet-to-be-published biography of celebrity politician Sarah Palin.

3. Small Press Expo wraps up an enormously successful year in Bethesda, Maryland with strong crowds, money raised for the CBLDF, a strong slate of Ignatz winners, a collection started for the Library of Congress and announced feature guests (Dan Clowes, Chris Ware) for the 2012 version.

Winner Of The Week
Zunar.

Losers Of The Week
Those newspapers. I mean, come on.

Quote Of The Week
"She once called in a restaurant reservation for me and my daughter, and said 'The name is Gonick. That's "G" as in "God."'" -- Larry Gonick on Jackie Onassis.

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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posted 12:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Roger Stern!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Carlos Sampayo!

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September 16, 2011


Go, Look: Joe Ollmann Recipe Comic At Saveur

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the cartoonist Chris Schweizer writes up his experience at Dragon*Con.

* Dan Clowes and Chris Ware have been announced for SPX 2012. Sounds like it will be a fun show. Here's the PW story covering that same show.

* I think I had Wizard World New England happening this weekend instead of next month, when it goes head to head with NYCC. The odd thing is that no one complained. Update: Heidi Mac just e-mailed to say this was canceled. Well, that's the last time I'm listing any Wizard shows except maybe Chicago.

* someone did complain when in an earlier iteration of this column I forgot to mention Montreal Comicon, which is this weekend.

* this is the place all the cool comics kids around the world are turning up this weekend.

* Alternative Press Expo (APE) is hurtling towards us at lightning-fast speeds. I'm told that the Sparkplug table will be manned, perhaps by close Dylan Williams friend Tom Neely among others, so maybe start saving your ducats for some expenditures there. With no Wonder Con in the Bay Area -- at least for 2012 -- this the last of the major organization shows to be held in that region for a spell. As always, that's a great part of the country for comics, and a swell city to visit. I'm also told hotel rooms for this particular show are kind of tough to nab, so maybe think in terms of commuting over if you haven't nailed that down yet.
 
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Go, Read: Proximity Talks

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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.

*****

MAR110489 BARKS BEAR BOOK HC $34.99
A collection of relatively obscure Carl Barks comic book material. It features an introduction by Jeff Smith. I like to imagine Smith has original copies of this material just sitting around the house.

JUN111064 OPTIC NERVE #12 $5.95
Book of the week. You don't see too many real-live alternative comic books in the wild, these days. I like to imagine all those fans with the title from the beginning hitting the comics shops with their baby carriages. Previewed here.

JUL110211 BATMAN AND ROBIN #1 $2.99
JUL110213 BATWOMAN #1 $2.99
JUL110233 DEATHSTROKE #1 $2.99
JUL110229 DEMON KNIGHTS #1 $2.99
JUL110226 FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF SHADE #1 $2.99
JUL110218 GREEN LANTERN #1 $2.99
JUL110232 GRIFTER #1 $2.99
JUL110244 LEGION LOST #1 $2.99
JUL110199 MISTER TERRIFIC #1 $2.99
JUL110222 RED LANTERNS #1 $2.99
JUL110228 RESURRECTION MAN #1 $2.99
JUL110234 SUICIDE SQUAD #1 $2.99
JUL110204 SUPERBOY #1 $2.99
I think this is all of this week's DC's number ones; it's at least most of them. I'm not sure that I'd look at any of them real closely, but the JH Williams III art on Batwoman sure is pretty, and I enjoyed the Grant Morrison-directed Frankenstein revamp on which this new series was based -- although I enjoyed it in a way that didn't really leave me wanting more. Peter Milligan is writing the Red Lanterns book, which means there may be more substance to it than the sort-of desperate concept implies. I guess the Grifter book might be interesting if you're a devoted thinker about superheroes. That was a pretty dependable character for Wildstorm that would seem, theoretically, to have the most difficult transition into a DC-style universe in terms of keeping what made it work -- the Detective John Munch of the comic book world.

imageJAN110334 SUGAR AND SPIKE ARCHIVES HC VOL 01 $59.99
The real sauce from DC this month: the beginning of a reprint series featuring Sheldon Mayer's long-running kid series, after literally decades of fans asking. This may not be an ideal format in that it's really expensive and can be a bit overproduced-looking -- something like what D+Q does with the John Stanley material would be ideal -- but it's nice to have this material out there in some form.

APR110042 ARCHIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 02 $49.99
MAY110044 COMPLETE MAJOR BUMMER SUPER SLACKTACULAR TP $29.99
A quick snapshot of the slightly more complicated reprints market of today (as opposed to a few years back): Dark Horse publishing two collection of other publishers' original material, one a archival presentation of classic Archie material, the other a reprint of a late '90s, comedic superhero featuring a slacker-turned-superhero. Wasn't Major Bummer supposed to be called Major Fuck-Up at one time?

MAY110532 SUPER DINOSAUR #4 $2.99
Robert Kirkman and John Howard are doing a modern kids book here, with all that implies, but it's professionally executed and it's hard not to nod your head in the direction of the "I can't believe that hadn't been done" nature of the concept.

JUL110732 NEW X-MEN BY GRANT MORRISON GN TP BOOK 05 $14.99
Is this material not all in print in trade form? I can't believe that's the case. Anyway, Morrison's X-Men comics were pretty fun although I don't think he stuck the landing.

JUL111123 AMULET SC VOL 04 LAST COUNCIL $10.99
Most comic shops will probably miss out on selling this successful kids series, and it will sell a kabillion copies anyway.

JUN110822 AWAKENINGS GN $19.95
I was hoping for an adaptation of the treacly Robin Williams/Robert De Niro movie -- now an astonishing 21 years in the rear view mirror -- but this is a handsomely packaged and produced zombie tale.

JUL111240 KORGI GN VOL 03 A HOLLOW BEGINNING $9.95
I read the first one of these and it sort of gave me the creeps, but I imagine there are tons of fans. The dogs are very meticulously drawn. This is the kind of book I imagine friends and loved ones of hardcore comics fans latching onto to the slight frustration of those hardcore comics fans.

JUL111271 ONE PIECE TP VOL 58 $9.99
JUL111260 TWIN SPICA GN VOL 09 $10.95
I'm not a huge fan of One Piece, but that's a series that sure doesn't miss my patronage, plus you have to love any series with 58 volumes to its name. That's like two shelves in a comics store. I'm more of a fan of Twin Spica, and I'm relieved to see that the Vertical series has continued on despite worries that it might be truncated at an earlier point.

JUN110785 YIDDISHKEIT JEWISH VERNACULAR & THE NEW LAND HC $29.95
This is the Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle-edited anthology about, well, Yiddish. Its existence in comic shops is as wonderfully odd and potentially jarring in its own way as some of the weirder and more depressing stuff that shops offer up. Let me see if I can find an example of what I mean...

JUN112071 BOO BERRY AD ICON PLUSHIE $12.99
... here you go. I'll leave it up to you to decide which one your shop is more likely to carry. By the way, every single person in the United States between the ages of 35 and 45 either vomited after eating a bowl of cereal with Boo Berry on the box, or knows a kid that did.

JUL111236 BENJAMIN BEAR IN FUZZY THINKING HC $12.95
A new Toon book and I think brand-new series, from BD (usually with his brother, I think) and kids book veteran Philippe Coudray. It's appealing-looking, that's for sure.

JUN110988 MAD FOLD IN COLLECTION 1964 - 2010 HC $125.00
I like a title where just the title is enough to sell it, or at least make you want it.

*****

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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Two Places To See Olga Volosova Art Work

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Collective Memory: Dylan Williams, RIP

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this post has been archived
 
posted 12:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bob Lubbers' Robin Malone

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Collective Memory: Small Press Expo (SPX) 2011

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this article has been archived
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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Ibis: Invincible + Several Decades In Front Of Gritty Superhero Trend

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making fun of his hat and cape is totally up to you
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Michael Cavna has a nice preview up of the Library of Congress' new cartoon-related exhibit.

image* here's a photo comic starring a very young Kim Thompson. He'll almost certainly correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Thompson was part of a letter-exchanging group of people that included Mark Gruenwald -- whose publication is the instigating factor in the short comic's story -- Jo Duffy and Rob Rodi.

* there's a review round-up of new DC Comics reviews at FPI's blog.

* Alan Gardner at The Daily Cartoonist comes out in support of the newspapers that killed Doonesbury this week. I think the act of killing this week's Doonesbury was ridiculous, and that there wasn't any principle involved except for not wanting to deal with the complaints and possible subscription drops. Columnists run material ahead of book publication all the time, and in fact prominent bloggers and members of on-line media did so in the case of today's cartoon reveal about Sarah Palin and basketball player Glen Rice. It's a pretty messed up society that fixates on a celebrity sort-of politician's sex life from the 1980s, granted, but there are ways for people to avoid this kind of close scrutiny -- just not a lot of them that allows one to make a lot of money. (I'm personally surprised from a political standpoint that few people in that realm seem to fully understand that a politician/celebrity that deftly employs the "I'm just like you" avenue of appeal is enhanced by any reveal of a past discretion and doubly enhanced by perceived persecution for same.)

* this has to be fake, because kids don't like comics and girls don't like superheroes.

* I like how they unexpectedly ratchet up the weird in the first sentence.

* not comics: Peter Richardson asserts that artists earning nothing and/or having day jobs is nothing new, which he talks about in response to an analysis speaking of the decline in money for writers. I think there are some cultural trends that are driving down some previously-inflated revenues, for sure, but that there's also a great deal of exploitation when it comes to negotiating these changes. Same with newspapers; same with anything. As a money-starved industry generally, comics holds a lot of clues as to where things might be headed, and I would imagine that's an equal number of honorable arts business that don't rely on older models in terms of location and perceived resource allocation needs and callous businessmen that seek to pass along any reduction in rewards available to the lowest person on the ladder: the freelancer. I also think one place where comics' Hollywood fixation hurts it is that we're that much slower in developing alternative methods of supporting the continued, long-term publication of comics.

* how Star Wars saved the comic book industry. Jim Shooter quotes almost always make me laugh.

* Sean Gaffney on Cage Of Eden Vol. 1. Don MacPherson on Legion Lost #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of comics that showed up at the shop this week. Johanna Draper Carlson on New Avengers #16 and X-Factor #224.1. Kristian Williams on Liar's Kiss.

* finally, I don't remember how I arrived there, so apologies to the person who directed me, but here's a conversation about creating covers for Commando.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Amanda Emmert!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Mike Mignola!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Kip Manley!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Tom Kaczynski!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Seth!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Kurt Busiek!

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Ron Rege Jr. Is Looking For Funds To Complete Cartoon Utopia

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He's going the "you send me a word, I'll make art based on that word" Gary-Panterish to raise those funds. That's a great gift for someone, by the way, because a) they can send in their own word or b) you can send in the word that links to whatever weird object your friend is into (like if they collect owl-related pottery and pictures or whatever).
 
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September 15, 2011


Go, Look: Dylan Williams' Alex Toth Comic For Windy Corner #2

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posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Zak Sally Remembers Dylan Williams

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By Zak Sally

As I write this, the passing of Dylan Williams is less than a week old. It's fresh and it hurts; for me, for everyone that knew him, for the comics and small press community as a whole.

You try and think of this person; how you've known them. When you've known them. What the size and shape of the hole they will leave in your world will be, and the world outside your own.

The hole Dylan Williams leaves will be Dylan-shaped.

As I'm sure many, many people will attest in the coming days and weeks (and, I hope, years) there was no one like Dylan Williams; and I think that was his fight in this life, as an artist, a cartoonist, and a publisher. To be his own man, to try to run his business in the way he felt was right, to define his own relationship to his own art and the art he loved. He won that fight, no question.

Some would say that describing a fellow human being's life on this planet in relation to something as trivial and ephemeral as "comics" would be a gross disservice to that human, but I think Dylan would be proud to have his life viewed that way. People leave marks in different ways, and the mark Dylan made in the comics world was as honest, sincere, and hard won as any individual in the history of the medium. Maybe the freshness of his loss is driving me to hyperbole, but I doubt it. In the past few months many have mentioned the fact that Dylan is (god damn it, was) a private individual, and I guess that's true. But more accurately, he just wasn't about to make any sort of big stink about himself. I think he mistrusted that whole impulse, very deeply -- even, at times, to the degree of not taking credit that was duly his.

I'm going to take some time and make a big stink about him. Because he's not here to tell me not to anymore. And because writing about him alive feels a lot better than facing the fact that he's gone.

I first met Dylan in Berkeley CA, over 20 years ago. I was a mess of a 20-year-old kid, and landing in the east bay I tried selling my messed up little comic book 'zines. I can't remember if Dylan was working at Comic Relief, or if I just met him thru the 'zine circle, but he was, as always, immediately the most supportive guy I'd ever run into. In fact, as I write this, I'm realizing that Dylan was the first person to actually like my comics, ever, period. Up until that point friends, family and such knew I did it and that it was a big deal for me, but had no idea what to make of my scribbly bullshit. Just having someone like my comics at all was a new and crazy experience for me, but having it come from someone who not only loved comics as much as I did, but who (I soon found out) knew about 20 times more about comics than I did was... something else. Dylan invited me to some Puppy-Toss (a 'zine and comic distro collective Dylan started with some other east bay comic types) stuff, and I think I went to a meeting once but... like I said, I was kind of a mess. But I got to know Dylan.

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Here's my apocryphal Dylan Williams story.

In those early days, Dylan ended up as the 'zine buyer for Comic Relief. One day I went in there and at the 'zine counter was this collection of Kurtzman stuff photocopied in a big thick 'zine (but pretty beautifully designed, I've still got them...), 64 pages or something, for some ridiculous price: $2 or something. Now, this was back in the days when this stuff was really hard to find... there were the big expensive EC hardcover collections that were $70 apiece or the original comics, which were collectors items, even more ridiculously priced. As a young cartoonist, Kurtzman and Krigstein and all those guys were constantly referenced but actually being able to read a bunch of the stuff was a difficult and expensive thing. So a ton of that stuff in a 'zine for $2 was just amazing. I picked it up and said to Dylan, "What the hell is this!! Who put this out, there's no info on it" and he did this sort of, jeez be quiet thing. And I can't remember if it was then or later that he explained it to me: he'd "put it out." They loved him at comic relief. So on one of his lunch breaks he'd gone into the CR "Vault" where they kept all the expensive, collectible stuff (such as old EC comics), walked out of the front door to the copy shop two doors down from Comic Relief, made copies of the stuff he needed (I swear he said he even took out the staples then replaced them to get cleaner copies), made a 'zine out of them, the walked two doors down back to work, snuck the comics back into the vault, and sold those 'zines at the 'zine counter.

Do you understand me? Dylan did not do this because everyone would say, "Wow, how ballsy." It's because he thought it was bullshit that no one got to see this work. Because it was great work, important work. He didn't want credit for it, didn't want to be seen as the guy who did that, he just did it because it needed doing. For me, that was always what Dylan was, from the moment I met him. Maybe Dylan couldn't see it, but this was some character stuff from the word go, and it's what he did

Later, in one of those (incredibly, now that I think about it) strange confluences, in the late 90's I went to visit my friend Mr. Mike, who had uprooted to Olympia, WA, and ended up staying on his floor off and on for a number of months; Dylan and his girlfriend (later to be wife) Emily lived in the very same weird '70s apartment complex. I got to spend some more time with Dylan; we'd just hang out and talk comics -- I'd never really had friends that I could just utterly nerd out with; where you're speaking that language that only the dyed in the wool comics freaks can understand. You know, where you can talk Yves Chland and then Herb Trimpe in the next sentence and the other person knows exactly what you're talking about. Dylan had always gone further with that stuff than i'd ever dreamed of doing; he corresponded with "forgotten" cartoonists, he wrote articles and did 'zines and magazines about these guys. I didn't last all that long in Olympia, but I think Dylan moved first. He and Emily moved to Portland, and I think that's about when he started Sparkplug in earnest.

Dylan and I are almost exactly the same age, and I know that we shared some generational things in common. We grew up the real kind of comics nerd/ obsessive, then loved it so much that we kept loving it past the point where normal folks stopped. Where "being published" by a "real" publisher was still something that was deeply ingrained as something to aspire to, something defining your work as real and worthwhile. Getting involved in 'zines and self-publishing changed all that, for both of us; but I also think both of us had that residual nagging voice for a long time, wondering if that outside validation was important, even as we were learning the ways in which it wasn't.

Sparkplug was where Dylan put it into practice, where he said -- you don't have to do that: you can do this. I can, you can, we all can. You don't even need to make a big deal out of it -- you can just do it.

In some conversations with him, I know he said he felt like he'd wasted precious years of his life trying to fit into those molds; what other cartoonists did, what other publishers did. And that over time, with Sparkplug, he felt he'd finally completely sloughed all that stuff, and was doing what felt right and made sense to him and the way he wanted to do business, rather than what you were supposed to do, what "real" publishers did.

He truly, truly loved comics.

Not just one flavor, one stripe, but all of it. The whole thing. He loved 'zines and comics and people making stuff; the whole deal.

I am a deep down to the core of me nerd for the medium: its history, its lore. The comics trivia I've accumulated over the course of my life would be embarrassing if it was something I had any interest in being embarrassed about. But Dylan, man... the guy was encyclopedic. Whatever I knew, Dylan knew about 10 years before me. His eye for comics was as attuned as any I've ever known; way the fuck back when, he was showing me stuff that, at the time, I thought, "Huh. I don't get it." But invariably it's stuff I come around to like "Holy shit, how could I not see how amazing this is." Again, 15 years later. Jesse Marsh. Mort Meskin. Hell, Dylan was the first person who showed me Dick Briefer (okay, that one I got right away). Anybody read that great strip he did in Windy Corner about being a longtime correspondent of Alex Toth?

No? Now would be a good time.

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Dylan and Sparkplug was never anything anyone made a big deal about. There was never a huge splash, a giant push. He found work he loved and believed in deeply, then he published it and believed in it, pure and simple. Then he went and showed it to people, sold it to them, told them how great it was. Dylan was an inexhaustible fountain of support. And if you look at the books he put out (and you should) there's very little common thread between what he published in conventional aesthetic terms other than that he believed in it, and that he thought other people should see this amazing work. Olga Volozova to David King? Austin English's The Destroyed Room to Tales To Demolish? Asthma? Hellen Jo and The Heavy Hand? Many, many others. He loved them all (go to the Sparkplug site and just scroll down on the store page... it's beautiful and heartbreaking. then buy all of it). Even if what it was wasn't "your thing," you were glad it was out there... Christ, we've lost something enormous with his passing. That comic history he knew so much about -- for me, he's part of that now.

Not as any one thing, but as all of it -- 'zine guy, comics historian, publisher, educator, and let's none of us forget for a moment -- a cartoonist himself. He was all of those things because it was all of one piece with Dylan.

I'm almost done printing the first book collection of Sammy the Mouse. I had to have plates made for the title and dedication page. A month ago I knew it would be dedicated to Dylan, no matter what happened with the cancer. In the past week or so, I had convinced myself that he would see it, and that maybe it'd make one of his chemo days just a little better, or something. Because it would have. Because Dylan loved to see his friends do shit, make comics. He loved and believed in the good shit, and I'm honored to say that, just like 20 years ago, Dylan was still a vocal supporter of my stuff. I know that because when he did those things he did it quietly, but all the way. He carried my stuff through Sparkplug, as he did with many, many other artists whose work he liked. He also told me. Like he did with a hundred other artists. He knew what that sort of support had meant to him over the years and that's what he wanted to do with Sparkplug: to be that for other people, and beyond that -- be honest, be ethical. Avoid bullshit and hype as best you can, it just drags everything down in the end. Make your own hole in the wall. Fuck being the biggest fish in the pond, Dylan had no interest in that: he wanted to just make a totally different pond, one that people would feel good about swimming in. and it wasn't "everybody else is doing it wrong, and I'm doing it right." It wasn't that at all.

It was just, "There's different ways of doing this. Here's what I'm doing because it makes sense to me." the small press wasn't something he did, it was his home.

What I wanted to write in my book was something from one of our last conversations -- this was right before the new cancer prognosis had come in. We were talking about life and (since he'd so narrowly just avoided it) death and, of course, comics. And he just said, in an offhand way while we were talking about some comics "business" thing -- someone who'd (probably innocuously) inferred that Sparkplug being a "small" publisher somehow translates to being a "hobby" publisher (where actually, Dylan very much believed in keeping things small as a business model), and Dylan was kind of in an uproar: "You know, you say what you want, but comics are what I am -- man, you cut me and I bleed comics." It's something he'd only say in confidence but anyone who ever met Dylan and would disagree with that statement is either lying or blind.

I wanted to make that the dedication "To Dylan Williams, and everyone else that bleeds comics." Because that's me, and those are my people.

But I didn't because I think that would have made Dylan uncomfortable, or possibly mad. I think he would've worried that he would've sounded pretentious.

So I didn't.

But it was true; the guy bled comics, pure and simple.

And this, I know is not hyperbole -- I've never met anyone who lived, breathed, and bled comics more than Dylan Williams.

And if someone made a list of all the shit he's done -- be it Puppy-Toss, the bootleg 'zines, his comics, interviews, correspondences, articles he wrote, magazines he published -- all the stuff from before Sparkplug, I think it'd be jaw dropping. Add Sparkplug and the books he helped bring into the world through that, then add all the 'zines and comics he distro'd, the artists he supported in all kinds of ways, and things get even more distinctive; you could see a pattern. And that pattern charted a real particular kind of enthusiasm and inspiration -- not the kind of inspiration that comes in a flash, makes a big noise and then slowly fades from view; it's the kind that is so deeply felt and consistent that it's almost invisible. But it carries a huge heft.

He just loved this shit, and wanted to spread around how much he loved it. And really, what I think the key to Dylan, and to Sparkplug, was that Sparkplug wasn't a Publishing Company who Published Comics. It was a human who did something that meant the world to him; that thing happened to be comics. He didn't talk about it, or wave some flag; he just did it.

And, over time and in a thousand small, quiet ways, it inspired a lot of other people.

I'm not sure Dylan saw himself in that way. Until very recently.

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I don't think it's any coincidence that Dylan and Bill Blackbeard spent a lot of time together, and were kind of kindred spirits in a lot of ways. Dylan was, of course, a different guy, a different generation. What they did was different, as well. It was, sadly, weeks (months?) before the world of comics learned about Blackbeard's death. But unlike Blackbeard, Dylan's health troubles went public.

I think, in these last few months as things got very dire, Dylan got to actually hear about the mark he'd made. He never ever would have asked for it, and under other circumstances I think he might've viewed it with some skepticism, but I am incredibly happy that he had to hear it, had to take it in. there can be some snipe and pettiness in our little world of comics (as there is in any community), but I was so happy to see the unilateral support and kindness for Dylan, from all quarters. artists, publishers, indie, art, mainstream, the entire continuum of comics: they all said I know what you did here, and how you tried to do it, and what it is is awesome. You backed me up, or you liked my work when no one else did, or that you just plain inspired me. Wasn't some bullshit hagiography, either. All this typing I did isn't just me, it's something you can hear echoing all over the place right now; but in the last month of his life he heard it in a way he'd never, ever heard it before.

I think it meant the world to him.

And this has given me a lot of solace in the past month. Even though I thought he was going to make it.

I thought: he got to hear what he's done in this world he loved, this world he lived in. what people thought of how he tried to be a part of that -- and what they thought was honest and overwhelming. As is the response to his death. Look what people are saying about this guy. Look how they are saying it. Nobody's making up stuff about Dylan; they are just saying what kind of person he was, what he meant to them.

It was never the point of what Dylan was trying to be, and do. He didn't seek out that attention, and he didn't like it.

But for him to hear that resounding chorus before he died... it makes me very, very happy. I was able to tell him how awesome Sparkplug was, how much it had inspired me while he was alive, and a lot of other people were able to do the same.

Dylan being taken now is terrible.

For him not to have heard those things -- now that would be sad and unfair.

And all this is just aside from the fact that Dylan was just a real, real good guy, period. What he was in comics was what he was outside of comics (as if there's really a line that can be drawn there). He was thoughtful and funny and humane.

I saw Dylan at the few cons I'm able to get to, and we'd be able to talk on the phone now and again. The fact that this will never happen again is incredibly sad. I am far, far from alone in this. That I can't call him up and get his take on something comics-related, or anything-related, really.

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Someone said recently "You could do far worse than to build a lifetime of friendships with the people you meet in comics." I think about that a lot.

If you're lucky, you make a couple families in this life. There's the one you came from, and the ones you make. Dylan was one of the oldest and most cherished of my comics family; one that made an indelible mark on my life, from real early on 'til the moment he died, and will continue to. God damn am I going to miss Dylan Williams. I could go on and on. I already have.

That Dylan Williams-shaped hole looks jagged and terrible right now.

No one else can walk through it, because it follows the exact shape of him and the life he painstakingly carved out; he's gone, far too soon. That's painfully sad and true.

But if Dylan's got a legacy (and he damn well does) it is that no one else will ever fit through that hole, he would welcome anyone that tried, and he'd cheer for them if they busted up the wall while they did it. In fact, I think he'd just tell them to take what they liked about his hole and make their own -- that was the whole point for him. Do whatever you do with passion and honesty, and it's not only worthwhile, it makes the world a slightly better place. Be what you are.

It's the highest compliment I can pay to the man, and there's many many things about Dylan I don't know, but I do know that this sentiment would make him happy.

That, and that I loved the guy.

To his friends, his family, and his wife Emily; its hard to know what to write. But we all agree that we're better for knowing him.

He wasn't one in a million, he was one in quite a few millions.

He didn't talk it, he lived it.

*****

Dylan Williams' memorial service and wake/get together following is today in Portland; Sparkplug is here; an auction site to defray hospital expenses is here; you can learn more about Mr. Sally here

photo at top of Dylan Williams by Gabby Gamboa, and used with her permission. other art by Harvey Kurtzman, Chris Cilla, Hellen Jo, Billy De Beck, and Dylan Williams; video of Williams and Sally below

*****



*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: A Growing Continent Of Toxic Plastic

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Go, Read: Mike Lynch On Bill Woodman

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

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Go, Look: Zambini The Miracle Man

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i'll be honest with you: that's the best panel
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Brett Warnock reminds us that Frank Young and David Lasky are closing in on making their Kickstarter goals. The premiums are good on that one, considering they're driven by a Lasky-made print and original art, so you might want to check it out. Speaking of Kickstarter projects, Burning Building Comix is in the last hours of their graphic novel proposal and could use some consideration.

image* there's a longish article here on British comics magazine well worth checking out. Even if you don't like the words, it's very well-illustrated. The photo at right, for instance, proves that the Brits started "New Comics Day."

* Johanna Draper Carlson asks how to fix the convention press pass system. I'm glad that most of the major conventions value on-line coverage, and would rather they err on the side of letting a person in with a faked blog than to keep them all out. Then again, I don't begrudge any show of restricting their press list if that's what they want to do. I've paid for admission into conventions in order to cover them, just as I've purchased comics in order to review them. I always appreciate a courtesy, but it's a courtesy.

* Andy Burns talks to Charles Soule. Mike Dawson talks to Alex Robinson. Brigid Alverson talks to Eric Hobbs.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco passes along comics-making advice from Bakuman.

* here are a few DC links not reviews. 1) The writer Graeme McMillan wonders after specific factors in the Direct Market success of DC's new publishing initiative. 2) This is too bad; I liked that character the way she was. 3) Since I complained about DC not getting its character library into television deals when I wrote my grouse-a-thon a couple of weeks ago, I should probably note when they do so. (I still think Kid Eternity is the one: a kid bringing dead historical figures back to life! How is this not a best-selling comic and tangentially-related network TV show? I'll write the Li Po issue for free.)

* sadly, I don't think what Brian Bendis is talking about is weird as much as I'm resigned to that kind of thinking being out there.

* Don MacPherson, Brian Hibbs and Kevin Pasquino on more of those DC books. Greg McElhatton on Bake Sale. Sean T. Collins on The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969. Sean Gaffney on the 39th volume of Oh My Goddess!. David Brothers on Ultimate Spider-Man #1. Rob Clough on a bunch of new stuff from Silber Media. Patrick Markfort on The Comics Journal #301.

* I almost feel like buying one of these.

* finally, I'm not exactly sure why we get all of the lists that go into the final list, but it looks like the YALSA have started up another round of deciding their great graphic novels for teens.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Salgood Sam!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, John Ira Thomas!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Carol Lay!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Scott Dunbier!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Lance Tooks!

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September 14, 2011


Newsday, Journal-Constitution Also Drop Palin-Related Doonesburys

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Legendary media blogger Jim Romenesko has the best round-up on the news that a handful of newspapers have decided not to publish Doonesbury in their print editions this week, featuring a run of strips pulling excerpts from an upcoming Sarah Palin biography. Romenesko links to both a statement from Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis and a news report from Creative Loafing on the Atlanta paper's decision. I think this is pretty silly and I don't really buy the excuse that the book hasn't been vetted as I can't imagine that they would have been run after a serious vetting by the editor-in-charge.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* Retrofit Comics debuts with James Kochalka's Fungus. Retrofit is cartoonist Box Brown's fond nod to the heyday alternative comic books.

* IDW places some of its graphic novels into the iBook store. I have no idea what that really means, but it sounds important. Actually, I do know that IDW has been quietly pushing at digital options for a much longer while than many publishers, so this is an announcement worth noting.

* via the Wright Awards site comes news of and a trailer for the forthcoming Pascal Blanchet book.

* Gabe Fowler announced on Facebook that Smoke Signal #10 will have 7000 copies printed and feature a John Severin cover.

* the writer Graeme McMillan suggests that the world is already conspiring against this new Spider-Man kid.

* the retailer and blogger Mike Sterling is happy to see that new Sugar & Spike hardcover.

* this interview with Gabrielle Bell includes talk of two forthcoming works.

* via Gary Tyrrell comes news that Dean Trippe's Butterfly has returned.

* I'm glad to see that the series Twin Spica got to a ninth volume. I'm not sure that was always guaranteed.

* Mark Anderson takes his panel cartoons to GoComics.com.

* it's not comics, it's trading cards, but it's for a good cause.

* the anthology Chameleon will apparently debut at APE in a couple of weeks.

* it looks like Tokyopop may use a partner to co-publish a third volume of Hetalia, but apparently that's because production was completed -- it's not a return to publishing or anything.

* Johanna Draper Carlson asks after the sales on Life With Archie and notes a likely silent cancellation.

* publisher Chris Pitzer and creator Tom Scioli announced American Barbarian at SPX.

* Cable is going to shoot a lot of superheroes.

* finally, it's not really comics, but a children's book can be too close to call, and it's always nice to see his work. The book is the first in a series called Everything Goes, and featuring various modes of transportation. He has a bunch of posts about it here.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Congratulations To Zunar On Winning Hellman/Hammett Grant

I had a heck of a time finding out who the cartoonist was on this morning's announcement of Hellman/Hammett grant winners from the Human Rights Watch (they normally go to writers), as I couldn't find a list even where one was promised (I assume this will be corrected later this morning). Luckily, a Malaysian news organization notes that their cartoonist Zunar was one of the recipients. In addition to the worldwide publicity involved with receiving one of the grants -- more than two decades old and with $3 million distributed overall -- this also means a certain amount of cash money (up to $10,000 USD) to the recipient in order to help support them in their respective struggles. Zunar, real name Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, continues to pursue legal action against his government for police actions in banning his books and disrupting their publication via seizure and arrest.
 
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Go, Look: Susie Cagle's What Every Woman Should Know

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Jean-Paul Mougin, 1941-2011

Jean-Paul Mougin, the co-founder and long-time editor of seminal French comics magazine À Suivre, died in Brussels yesterday at the age of 70. Although an official cause of death has yet to be announced, he was a longtime sufferer of complications due to throat cancer.

imageMougin came to prominence in the late 1960s as the editor of a revived Pif Gadget from Editions Valliant. Under Mougin's stewardship that magazine flashed over one million copies sold in both 1970 and 1971, and introduced French-language readers to Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese in addition to a number of other heavyweights and eventual heavyweights of French comics such as Jean-Claude Forest, Paul Gillon and Gotlib. It was also noteworthy for its move away from heavy serialization and the favor it gave to more complete stories, a practice Mougin would later bring to his signature assignment. In 1972, his connection to Pratt enabled Mougin's recruitment to Casterman, where he assisted in the publication of well-received albums such as Hugo Pratt's La Ballade de la mer salée, a 1975 Angoulême debut and 1976 festival prize winner.

In 1978, Mougin co-founded and became the primary editorial voice for À Suivre, one of the foundational magazines of both French comics and for world comics with serious literary or art-comic aspirations. It was another well-publicized Angoulême Festival debut. In addition to Pratt, A Suivre would publish Alejandro Jodorowsky, Moebius, Milo Manara, Jacques de Loustal, Jacques Tardi, François Bourgeon, Ted Benoît, Guido Crepax, Vittorio Giardino and François Schuiten among dozens of others. The line-up in the first issue alone could have fueled an entire publishing line. The vastly influential, arch and metaphor-laden Forest/Tardi work Ici Même, recently republished in North America by Fantagraphics, launched with the magazine.

À Suivre became such a touchstone of a certain, seriously-intended approach to comics that some cartoonist's careers were marked by the publishing choices they made after not finding favor with Mougin and the magazine. It is also cited as the major factor in Casterman's transformation from staid publisher of traditional French comics and potential cultural oblivion; one obituary suggests that the black and white nature of the majority of those comics was in part because it made their publication less of a risk for the big-name house. À Suivre came to an end in 1997 after 239 issues, in roughly the same period as a serious, new wave of alternative comics began to take hold in the market. It is widely considered one of a half-dozen of the most important BD magazines of the 20th Century. Mougin moved to Brussels and apparently enjoyed a quiet retirement, in part because of his illness.

mon français est très pauvre; si vous avez une correction, s'il vous plaît envoyez-le accompagné
 
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Go, Bid: John Porcellino's Art For Dylan Williams Benefit Auction

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that's a beauty; please consider a bid on that piece or another one to help the family of the late publisher and cartoonist Dylan Williams
 
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Go, Look: Here's Looking At You

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

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

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

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Go, Read: John Stanley's World, Part VI: A Violent Universe

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Gabrielle Bell talks about her future plans, MOME, and why she took down the vast majority of those diary comics.

image* it's always a good day when Jim Woodring puts new art up on the hall of fame site Comic Art Collective.

* bunch of DC Comics-related links out there. Kiel Phegley surveys retailers about the new DC comic books. It looks like they've really exceeded expectations in that market. Scott Snyder talks about his DC efforts. Bob Wayne and John Rood talk to the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com. Dan DiDio talks to CBR, and here's the take-away quote. As I wrote a couple of weeks back, if DC is able to maintain publishing discipline over the long term, that could be a great thing for the industry. Graeme McMillan points out a panel recording where indie publishers talk about DC's moves.

* congratulations to Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick on their Richard Feynman book at First Second hitting #1 in its New York Times sales category, whatever the hell that means.

* good for the CBLDF walking away from SPX with $12,500.

* all cities should be designed by either Darryl Cunningham or Mattias Adolfsson.

* not comics: in certain ways, niche news sites are beginning to outperform bigger ones.

* Tim O'Shea talks to Sterling Hundley. Tim Callahan talks to Johnny Ryan.

* some day I'll have the time to look at one of these Newsarama slide shows, but not today.

* not comics: sales on the newsstand have not been kind to magazines.

* the writer Graeme McMillan asks after the original plans for this summer's Flashpoint event series, and speculates a bit based on an old series of ads on what that series might of looked like had it not been drafted into the John the Baptist role for the Jesus that is DC's New 52. You'd think it'd be easy to tell, because the line re-launch stuff shoved into Flashpoint seems so clumsy it feels like it could have been cut right out of that final series issue.

* Rob Clough on Little Nothings Vol. 4. Don MacPherson on Green Arrow #1. Brian Hibbs on #1 issues for Stormwatch and Static Shock.

* Michael Cavna asks if comic strips should be held to the same fairness standards that newspapers apparently apply to traditionally written article. I'm going to say "no."

* the writer and cartoonist Shaenon Garrity, who recently enjoyed a successful Kickstarter campaign, dishes out some advice on how to best replicate the success she and some others have had.

* finally, the writer Jeff Jensen suggests that the comics industry fully embrace the TV model for scheduling its work. This strikes me as odd as I'm not sure TV really has that kind of structure anymore.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Tom Dougherty!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Mary Fleener!

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September 13, 2011


Nestor Infante, 1957-2011

imageNestor Infante, a Filipino cartoonist that also worked as Ernesto Infante and Tor Infante for a variety of publications in the Philippines and in North America, passed away recently according to a note sent by Gerry Alanguilan, an historian and creators advocate for comics and cartoonists in that area of the world. He was 54 years old.

Infante studied both fine and commercial arts before becoming a professional illustrator with a gig drawing scenes from the Bible and providing illustrations for teaching materials, both for the East Asian Parish Institute. Infante also took courses from the Nestor Redondo studio. In 1974, Infante joined the RAR Publishing House owned by Mars Ravelo. He worked on a feature by Ravelo called "Sisid, Dyesebel and Sisid" during his initial stint with the company. With the writer RR Marcelino, Infante created Tiny Tom, which was published in Funny Komiks in serialized fashion for more than a year.

Influenced equally by illustrators like Howard Pyle and cartoonists like Alex Toth, Infante worked for two brief but significant periods in North American comics: at DC in the early 1980s on then-waning titles like The Unexpected and House Of Mystery, and then at Continuity in the early 1990s on the Ms. Mystic and Megalith character. Infante also did work for Acclaim. He was also a self-taught painter.

a Continuity cover penciled by Infante, inked by Kevin Nowlan
 
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Go, Look: Stripped! Documentary Out-Takes


more here
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* today's news that Swedish authorities arrested four potential terrorists on Saturday is compelling from a Danish Cartoons standpoint for the absolute certainty with which is conveyed a direct line from the cartoons to Lars Vilks' Muhammed-on-head-of-dog drawing to raised concerns to actual terrorism.

* strange bedfellows department: the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan, widely believed to have been directly related to the publication of the original cartoons and Denmark becoming a cultural target in the months after that, led to Denmark authorities to exchange information with those in Libya.

* this brief profile of Denmark as a potential target for terrorism focuses on the Jyllands-Posten newspaper where the Danish cartoons first appeared but also provides some nuggets of context for how the country has dealt with some of the surrounding issues.

* here's a long, general article about the chilling effect the Cartoons Controversy may have had on free speech. They rope Jytte Klausen into the conversation, accessing the information she compiled putting together her book on the affair and also the fact that she and her publishers allowed the image of the original cartoons to be excised from that book. I don't think there's as much room for debate on that one as some people seem to suggest. I consider the original publication of the images much more of a small-p political stunt than an exercise of free speech rights, but when those images and what they looked like became a key component in an international news story with lives and money at stake, I think any serious news-gathering or scholarly enterprise had to publish them or otherwise make them available to readers in order to fulfill the basics of their chosen mission. This includes Klausen's book.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Ant Comic

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OTBP: The Fracture Of The Universal Boy

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

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Some Days You Just Want To Look At Russ Heath-Drawn Dinosaurs

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weekdays
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Brigid Alverson on Mirabilis. Todd Klein on Dark Horse Presents #1. Oliver East on Justice League #1. Geoff Grogan on his all-time favorites. Chris Marshall on Blazing Combat. KC Carlson reviews a whole bunch of DC books. Kevin Pasquino reviews a gruesome-sounding Batman-related book. Brian Hibbs on first issues for Swamp Thing and Animal Man. Greg McElhatton on Batwing #1. Don MacPherson on O.M.A.C. #1. Sean Gaffney on Butterflies, Flowers Vol. 8.

image* I still regularly visit Andi Watson's sketchblog, I just don't really have a place right now to plug individual sketches.

* a new, dark horse contender for eventual long-term home for Wonder Con emerges.

* some leftover 9/11 links I didn't get around to using Sunday, when they were pertinent. Michael Buntag on In The Shadow Of No Towers. That book made this list of essential post-9/11 works. Here's a mention of the New Yorker's 10th anniversary cover, which recalls the iconic black-on-black cover from a decade ago. Here's an abstract for a much longer piece written by Kent Worcester, who wrote many a fine article for me years ago at The Comics Journal and has become even better since. Jim Borgman talks to Minnesota NPR about the strip comics cartoonists' effort to do 9/11-related cartoons on Sunday.

* if this cartooning thing doesn't work out, the cartoonist Brandon Graham should be hired by a major metropolitan newspaper to write their headlines.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco asserts that Batgirl is the least most positively reviewed of the new DC series launches thus far.

* Rob Clough profiles Max Mose. War Rocket Ajax has Jess Fink in as a guest. The Paris Review talks to Maurice Sendak.

* the Wright Awards are flattered by Dustin Harbin's account of the 2011 iteration, and recommend that you buy that mini.

image* Steven Brower writes about the dream comics of Jack Kirby, Mort Meskin and Joe Simon, worth it even if you just wanted to go to the post and stare at the art employed.

* not comics: I think X-Men: First Class would have been my favorite superhero movie when I was 14 years old because it's, you know, about stuff.

* not comics: on Joost Swarte off the page.

* Michael Cavna has a lot of material on how Garry Trudeau got to fold in material from an as-yet published book on Sarah Palin into Doonesbury dailies. Twitter is involved, and Trudeau's general orientation towards Palin as a political figure and as a source for humor is revealed.

* a bunch of folks sent me this link to Eric Orchard's visit to the all-kids comics shop Little Island Comics; Internet custom dictates I now apologize to whomever out there had it first in a prominent enough place folks saw it.

* Daryl Cagle on his first published cartoon.

* I'm all for this preview of a forthcoming Daredevil comic, if only it visually recalls the great Jack Kirby drawings of red African animals made completely from sound, some of my favorite panels from the King Of Comics during that comic book glory period. I also think it's smart for Marvel to bring in a creative team for a palate cleanser on that character after the super-dark, noir-influenced run stretching back to Brian Bendis' first few issues, and probably all the way back to whatever the last issue of the Kesel/Nord run was.

* Sam Henderson writes about seizures. The headline alone is worth the click-through.

* this is a cool photo of folks visiting the Library Of Congress on the front-end of SPX weekend.

* this may not be available for everyone to see, but Scott Shaw! posted that funky Frank Zappa/Marvel Comics ad over at Facebook. I'm also not sure everyone can see this call for academic papers related to comics.

* finally, if you have some time during a short break this morning and want to spend it reading, you couldn't do much better than Steve Bissette talking/ranting about people asking him to work for nothing.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Kent Worcester!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Drew Weing!

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Happy 28th Birthday, Matt Bors!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Gary Kwapisz!

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September 12, 2011


Romenesko: Chicago Tribune Pulls Sarah Palin-Related Doonesburys

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According to media watchdog Jim Romenesko, the Chicago Tribune has pulled this week's worth of Doonesbury cartoons from its pages. The paper notes in a separate news story that the strips, which include excerpts from Joe McGinniss' forthcoming Sarah Palin biography, does not meet their standards of fairness. Apparently, the book won't be released until September 20 and therefore can't be reviewed by the Tribune for accuracy. It's sort of hard for me to believe that a big paper like that can't get a hold of a politically relevant book like that, or that there would be a significant screening process were it to be made available, but that's their story. (Actually, since typing that sentence, I learn only three advance copies were sent out.)

The decidedly non-political Thatababy is being run in its place.
 
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Go, Look: Mo Willems Reprints His 9/11 Comic

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Mark Beyer Launches Serialized Webcomic On The End Of Being

News of a new cartoon, even from someone as celebrated and only intermittently published like Mark Beyer, usually goes into the "Bundled" column, but I couldn't wait. It's called "The Off Switch" and it's the cartoonist's reclamation of an abandoned idea from the mid-'90s.
 
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Go, Look: Wally Wood Double-Page Galaxy Magazine Spreads

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Go, Look: Hey, Man

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Go, Look: Great Jack Davis Art In Model Nephew

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Go, Look: Frank Frazetta's Louie Lazybones

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the Ignatz Awards were announced over the weekend. Congratulations to all winners and nominees. On Sunday, a consortium of cartoonists ran 9/11-related Sunday strips for the event's 10th Anniversary.

image* the writer Fran Lebowitz talks about Ben Katchor's work on the third page of this interview about New York writers. (thanks, Gil Roth)

* Philip Nel reprints one of the cut appendices from his forthcoming book on Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, and links to all of the other posts on the same general subject matter. You could lose yourself for a while there.

* Kevin Czap on 21 Journeys. Alex Carr on The Hidden and Daybreak.

* JH Williams III is fired up for the advent of his new Batwoman and is sharing art: 1, 2, 3. Jeff Lemire talks about writing Animal Man for that general DC initiative. I hold it's really important they find one or two fresh creative voices in their line-up, and that those talents hit with an audience: Lemire seems a likely candidate. In related news, at least one retailer -- grateful for how the books are doing -- would like better information on subsequent printings. David Uzumeri tracks continuity changes. Mike Sterling's post here makes me think that some folks are selling these hot comics for more than cover price, which is somewhat distressing. I wish people wouldn't do that.

* Larry Marder draws the World's Finest.

* Gary Tyrrell notes that Shaenon Garrity is looking for information about successful Kickstarter campaigns.

* the dumbest story in recent comics industry history comes to an equally idiotic end.

* Chris Mautner picks superhero stories from unlikely sources. He's not really interested in satire, so no Kurtzman/Elder, but it's a pretty good list. Looking at the comments, it always makes my eyes roll when people argue that some title about the adventures of a superhero doing superheroic things "really isn't" a superhero title when it really, really is. I have no idea where that impulse comes from, but it probably has something to do with the rigidity of the genre as practiced. The only comparison I can think of is when people used to say Stephen Sondheim didn't write musicals. Warren Ellis used to be highly amusing about crushing people on his on-line platforms that would offer up that argument.

* imagine encountering Blankets in high school.

* finally, I thought this the most interesting critic-examining works post on the subject of 9/11 cartoons. I wasn't aware that Sean Phillips did the cover for last week's Village Voice. Daryl Cagle provides a platform for a bunch of editorial cartoonists to remember the day and their most memorable cartoons about it. Alan Gardner reflects on yesterday's strip-comics effort about 9/11's anniversary. I don't think anyone really distinguished themselves with a memorable comic there. Paul Gravett looks at two comics commenting on the event from two of the world's best cartoonists: David B. and Joe Sacco.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Chip Kidd!

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FFF Results Post #266 -- Biographies

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Creators And/Or Creative Teams And The Shoddy, Instant Comics Biography They Would Create; #5 Has To Be A Biography Of You." This is how they responded.

*****

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Nat Gertler

1. Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby, Nicola Tesla
2. Hal Foster, Justin Bieber
3. Robert Crumb, Howard Hughes
4. Mark Waid and Chris Eliopoulos, Adolf Hitler
5. Shary Flenniken, Nat Gertler

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Gilbert Hernandez, Russ Meyer
2. Jaime Hernandez, Dan DeCarlo
3. Chester Brown, Simon Cowell
4. Mark Beyer, The British Royal Family
5. Shane O'Shea And Ogden Whitney, Tom Spurgeon

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Milt Gross, Michele Bachmann
2. Chester Gould, Rupert Murdoch
3. Al Capp, Sarah Palin
4. E.C. Segar, Rush Limbaugh
5. Bill Holman, Michael Dooley

*****

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Gary Usher

1. Jaime Hernandez, Jack Webb
2. Gilbert Hernandez, Dave Goodis
3. Spain, I.F. Stone
4. Tony Millionaire, Amy Winehouse
5. Carl Barks, Me

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Chynna Clugston-Flores, Edward Gorey
2. Kathryn Immonen & Stuart Immonen, Michael Caine (mid-60s to late '70s)
3. Corey Lewis, Akira Toriyama
4. Annie Wu, Jarvis Cocker
5. Jack Chick, Jamie S. Rich

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Gabrielle Bell, Emily Dickinson
2. Justin Green, Marie Severin
3. Frank Miller, Nancy Reagan
4. Lynda Barry, Kenneth Patchen
5. Gary Larson, Danny Ceballos

*****

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Chris Keels

Charles Burns - Iggy Pop
Jack Kirby - Samuel Fuller
Brendan McCarthy - Philip K. Dick
Kim Deitch - Ed Wood
Peter Bagge - George Cecil Ham... uh, Chris Keels (For much of the time I was reading Hate, my roommate was the real-life version of the Jimmy Foley character, so I feel like he's already done this...)

*****

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Scott Edelman

1. Diane Noomin, Amy Winehouse
2. Robert Crumb, Bill Clinton
3. John Pound, Arnold Schwarzenegger
4. Larry Welz, Miley Cyrus
5. Howard Cruse, Scott Edelman

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. John Byrne, John Glenn
2. Kate Beaton, Julia Child
3. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Gary Busey
4. Gail Simone and Nicola Scott, Jimmy Carter
5. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, Tom Bondurant

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, Mick Foley
2. Jill Thompson and Brian Azzarello, CM Punk
3. Los Hernandez Brothers, El Santo
4. Phil Hester, Harley Race
5. Richard Thompson and Gene Weingarten, Mark Coale

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Dave Sim, the prophet Muhammed
2. Chester Brown, Dave Sim
3. Chris Ware, Steve Ditko
4. Jack Kirby, John McCain
5. Garry Trudeau, Michael Grabowski

*****

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Matt Emery

John Wagner/Carlos Ezquerra - James Coburn
Steve Ditko - Stan Lee
Gabrielle Bell - Michel Gondry
Gilbert Hernandez - John Stagliano
Joe Matt - Matt Emery

*****

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Matt Silvie

1. Jack Kirby, Klaus Kinski
2. Milo Manara, Marion Cotillard
3. Tony Millionaire, Joseph Conrad
4. Tim Lane, Raymond Chandler
5. Jason Miles, Matt Silvie

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. David Gallaher & Steve Ellis, Tom Waits
2. Scott McCloud, Marshall McLuhan
3. Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross, Jack Kirby
4. Kevin Cannon, Ernest Hemingway
5. Cameron Stewart, Sean Kleefeld

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. John Stanley and Irving Tripp, Gary Coleman
2. Leonard Starr, Mary Tyler Moore
3. Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, Jim Steranko
4. Johnny Craig, Bernie Madoff
5. Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones, Fred Hembeck

*****

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Mark Mayerson

Jack Kirby, Al Capone
Darwyn Cooke, James Dean
Joe Kubert, General George S. Patton
Jack Cole, Lenny Bruce
Dick Moores, Mark Mayerson

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Jack Chick, Jimmy Lee Swaggert
2. Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Charles Bukowski
3. Rick Altergott, Larry Flynt
4. Rick Geary, Nikola Tesla
5. Tim Kirk, Buzz Dixon

*****

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Elijah Brubaker

1. Kevin O'Neill, Adam Sandler
2. Larry Stroman, Jimmy the Greek
3. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, Colonel Sanders
4. Guy Davis, Tolstoy
5. John Kerschbaum, Elijah J. Brubaker

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Frank Miller, Richard Nixon
2. Dash Shaw, L. Ron Hubbard
3. Jordan Crane, Johannes Gutenberg
4. Eric Stanton, Pamela Des Barres
5. Charles Biro, Lou Copeland

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Michael Kupperman, Richard Nixon
2. Steve Ditko, Alan Greenspan
3. Mat Brinkman, Julie Andrews
4. Graham Annable, Orson Welles
5. Clive Barker and James Stokoe, Marc Arsenault

*****

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Joe Keatinge

1) Paul Pope, Boris Vian
2) Joost Swarte, Frank Lloyd Wright
3) Marian Churchland, Gertrude Stein
4) Seth, JD Salinger
5) Boody Rogers, Joe Keatinge

*****

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James Langdell

1. Irwin Hansen, Justin Bieber
2. Rick Altergott, Gov. Rick Perry
3. Mary Fleener, Lady Gaga
4. Bill Amend, Steve Jobs
5. Roz Chast, James Langdell

*****

topic slightly altered from a suggestion by Nat Gertler; thanks, Nat

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*****
 
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September 11, 2011


Dylan Williams, RIP

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Dylan Williams, cartoonist and publisher of Sparkplug, has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 41 years old. Our deepest condolences to his friends and family. This is shattering news. He will be sorely missed.

I don't have any idea how Oregon treats any remaining medical bills in terms of the estate or any close relatives, nor do I have specific insight into Williams' situation there. I do know that he felt a great passion for his comics company and its offerings, and I have to imagine that any ordering of books and/or attention paid to the ongoing auctions established for his benefit would still be appreciated.
 
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As Many Links As I Can Find To 9/11 Comic Strip Tribute Comics

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Here are as many links as I can find to the comic strips provided by various comic strip makers to their clients on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I'm putting the full list up, and will endeavor to find links to them all. I'll admit that I haven't linked to comic strips like this in a while, and it may take me a while to find someone out there publishing everyone on the list, for which my apologies. Double apologies in advance for any glitches in the software being used by newspapers for their on-line comics.

The coordinated effort is discussed here.

* Agnes
* Apt. 3-G
* Archie
* Arctic Circle
* Ask Shagg
* B.C.
* Baby Blues
* Barney & Clyde
* Beakman And Jax
* Beetle Bailey
* Between Friends
* Big Nate
* Bleeker The Rechargeable Dog
* Blondie
* Brewster Rockit: Spaceguy!
* Buckets
* Buckles
* Candorville (pictured)
* Chuckle Bros
* Crankshaft
* Curtis
* Daddy's Home
* Deflocked
* Dennis The Menace
* Dick Tracy
* Dog Eat Doug
* Dogs Of C-Kennel
* Doonesbury
* Dustin
* Edge City
* Elderberries
* Fastrack
* Fort Knox
* Freshly Squeezed
* Funky Winkerbean
* Gasoline Alley
* Grand Avenue
* Hagar The Horrible
* Heart Of The City
* Heathcliff
* Heaven's Love Thrift Shop
* Herb And Jamaal
* Hi And Lois
* Home And Away
* Ink Pen
* La Cucaracha
* Lio
* Little Dog Lost
* Luann
* Mallard Fillmore
* Mark Trail
* Marvin
* Mary Worth
* Momma
* Mother Goose & Grimm
* Mutts
* Nancy
* Ollie & Quentin
* On A Claire Day
* One Big Happy
* Over The Hedge
* Pardon My Planet
* Pluggers
* Pooch Cafe
* Prickly City
* Pros & Cons
* Real Life Adventures
* Red Rover
* Reply All
* Retail
* Rhymes With Orange
* Rubes
* Safe Havens
* Sally Forth
* Sherman's Lagoon
* Shoe
* Six Chix
* Snuffy Smith
* Speed Bump
* Stone Soup
* Strange Brew
* Tank McNamara
* The Amazing Spider-Man
* The Brilliant Mind Of Edison Lee
* The Duplex
* The Family Circus
* The Meaning Of Lila
* The Other Coast
* The Pajama Diaries
* Tina's Groove
* Todd The Dinosaur
* Wizard Of Id
* Zack Hill
* Zippy
* Zits

Or, because I'm a moron, you can skip all that and go here.
 
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Tor Infante, RIP

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Your 2011 Ignatz Award Winners

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The winners of this year's Ignatz Awards were announced in a ceremony last night in Bethesda, Maryland, held in conjunction with the Small Press Expo. Box Brown and Joseph Lambert won two awards each.

This year's nominating panel of judges was made up of Rina Ayuyang, John Porcellino, Kris Dresen, Mike Dawson and Theo Ellsworth. The winners were voted on by attendees of the show, which was apparently stuffed to the gills on Saturday. The host for this year's ceremony was Dustin Harbin.

Winners in Bold.

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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

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Rebelution

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Go, Bookmark: Dry County

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Go, Look: Hurricane

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Go, Look: More Obscurities From Cartoon Cavalcade

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

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Happy 57th Birthday, Rod Whigham!

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Happy 34th Birthday, David King!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Ben Towle!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Adam Grano!

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Phoebe Gloeckner On Making Art


A Tour Of The Schulz Library At CCS From April 2011
via


This Was Great With The Sound Off


A 2009 Michael Kupperman Clip That Flashed By On Facebook A Few Times


Scott Edelman Talks To Archie Goodwin, 1975
 
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September 10, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from September 3 to September 9, 2011:

1. Criminal Records announces an all-but-certain closure in local media, taking away a key cog in Atlanta's retail scene and essentially bringing to an end the age of the alt-music/alt-comics retailer.

2. Michael George re-trial begins in Michigan with jury selection. The former prominent Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer is facing a second trial for the murder of his then-wife in 1990 in their comic book store, after a 2008 conviction was set aside.

3. The Beguiling opens up a store in Toronto called Little Island Comics, to be focused on kids material.

Winners Of The Week
The kids of Toronto.

Loser Of The Week
The comics and music fans of Atlanta.

Quote Of The Week
"It was the most cinematic scene I've ever experienced. Most people had power outages by that time. When we were out there the only lights that we could even see by were a lot of people with flashlights and just these blaring emergency lights. It was a strobe-light kind of a situation, and we're trying to grab the books that we can see. James and I had briefed people on what the most important stuff was; everything else was just going to be moved to higher shelves. While we were in the building a train car came down -- there's pictures of it everywhere -- and it slammed against the building. At one point there were a few... gas tanks? Like propane tanks? One of them exploded. All of the sudden everything smelled like gas. So we evacuated everyone." -- Caitlin McGurk, on the night volunteers moved the Schulz Library due to potential flooding damage.

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, 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 Bethesda, 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 Berlin, I'd Go To This

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Happy 65th Birthday, Jackie Estrada!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Steven Gilbert!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Gerry Conway!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Alison Bechdel!

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September 9, 2011


David Lasky & Frank Young Need Help Finishing Carter Family Comics

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I don't usually recommend this kind of thing, but a) David Lasky's among the nicest people I've ever met; b) I have a short list of cartoonists whose general industry support and subsequent ability to make comics I'm tracking in order to one day pass judgment on the entire alt-comics age and Lasky's definitely on that list; c) part of the delay in finishing the book in the initial advance-driven burst was taken out of the creators' hands; d) they're offering really good premiums, making this essentially a David Lasky original art sale at 1994 prices. You're welcome.
 
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Rejected Western Carolina Cartoon Sparks Debate Over Publication

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This is probably the most rational discussion I've ever seen on-line about a rejected political cartoon, to the point where the editor that did the rejecting contacts a former editor who talks about why he wouldn't have done the same thing. I think it's worth noting just because while we cover some stories where a cartoon is waved away by an editor for reasons that seem minor and/or ridiculous, a lot of the time it's a judgment call by those gatekeeper.

I would imagine that in the long run, you're better off with an editor involved in the messages being shaped by his paper than with someone that isn't, but there are certainly potential problems along the way. This also the usual modern story elements in that the cartoon was published on-line through alternate means, and the discussion is driven in part by twitter.
 
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Go, Look: A Bob Lubbers Tarzan Sequence

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Lawyers In Michael George Case Work Through 1/3 Of Jury Pool

There's a nice follow-up news story here on jury selection in the Michigan murder re-trial of one-time prominent retailer and convention organizer Michael George. It focuses on how the trial is negotiating potential media bias, due to the attention received by the case against George. He was convicted in 2008 for the 1990 comic-shop murder of his then-wife Barbara before seeing that conviction set aside due to prosecutor malfeasance -- the nature of the crime, the cold-case element of the trial and the back-and-forth that led to the decision being overturned in favor of a new trial have all brought publicity to the case.
 
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Go, Look: High-Quality Scans Of Early Wally Wood Stories

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A Few More Notes On This Weekend's Small Press Expo

* here's a link-filled general preview at Robot 6.

image* the SPX site has a lot of pertinent information up on its own behalf. This includes a list of show debuts, information about the weekend's Ignatz Awards ceremony, and a blog stuffed with guest announcements.

* Mike Rhode continues his interview series with Darryl Ayo, Dustin Harbin and Jen Sorensen. Michael Cavna of Comic Riffs chats with Domitille Collardey of Pizza Island.

* Lauren Weinstein talks about a downside of going to SPX.

* 2011 Ignatz host Dustin Harbin talks at length about where he'll be and what he'll be bringing.

* Chris Pitzer has a bunch of photos from SPX 2002 up, starting here. It's amazing how many people I don't recognize that seem to be big deals.

* Dan Nadel extols the virtues of the show and talks about PictureBox's presence there.

* Rob Clough recommends some artists to seek out at SPX. I'm more of a take-everything-in guy, but that's a good list. I will suggest tracking down Tom Galambos, who is sitting with Dan Zettwoch and Kevin Huizenga. Galambos will have new books for the first time in ten years.

* The Beat has a bunch of coverage here.

* finally, in the most important news of all, Barry and Leon at Secret Acres quell fears that the hosting hotel may have been damaged in the earthquake in a way that had an effect on the exhibition floor, or worse, the bar.
 
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If I Were In Baltimore, 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 North Carolina, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Lovely Pencil Art From The Late Mike Wieringo

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Cartoon Movement announces its participation in a research project with the London School Of Economics And Political Science.

* IDW, one of the more aggressive companies when it comes to pursuing digital on a variety of platforms, has now placed 19 graphic novels into the iBooks store.

image* totally missed this: Chris Butcher interviews Taiyo Matsumoto for the manga neighborhood of the About.com site on the release of his No.5 into English for the iPad. Here is that work previewed.

* this Kickstarter campaign to fund the teaching of comics-making to young women in Cambodia met its goal before I even saw the e-mail asking me to draw your attention to it.

* here's a patient explanation of the DC digital initiative. It's told mostly from DC's point of view in a publishing-news style way, but it is careful to note things like the solid objections many direct market retailers had to the deal they were offered to work with DC's partner Comixology on selling digital copies. I'm not sure how to take the last line that DC expects no poaching from print, as I believe that pirated scans from physical copies were available before the physical copies were. It could be that this is speaking to some other type of poaching. Comics Alliance points out that many fans hate change, even when it's drawn by David Mazzucchelli. If nothing else, the New 52 initiative has brought us several posts from retailer/blogger Mike Sterling. Martin Wisse rolls his eyes at Superman's new "image."

* can pop-culture creations become myths if they're owned by big corporations?

* no one told me that Brian K. Vaughan had become the President of the United States.

* here's another comics-related documentary film project. That's a lot of white dudes.

* Daryl Cagle picks out five funny cartoons about the GOP presidential field.

* the Asheville Citizen-Times profiles Chris Sparks and his efforts on behalf of Team Cul-De-Sac.

* Brigid Alverson on Chimichanga. Sean Gaffney on Drifters Vol. 1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Boys Of Steel. Johanna Draper Carlson on the first three issues of the new Criminal mini-series.

* not comics: I'm not sure how I ended up with this one in my bookmarks, but apparently Ginette Lapalme's cat is sick? Washington is a great name for a cat.

* here's a photo of the Little Island Comics storefront, complete with lucky, about-to-be customer.

* Bhob Stewart provides a semi-massive post on EC Comics-era lettering.

* Tom Devlin extols the virtues of Marc Bell, while Mark Siegel celebrates the uniqueness of Sara Varon.

* still loving these scans of years-ago indie comics advertisements.

image* the cartoonist Shannon Wheeler covers this year's Alternative Press Expo program, for the show of the same name taking place on October 1-2. I'm reading that people are really scrambling for close-proximity rooms or even apartment floor space for that show.

* manga curmudgeon David P. Welsh takes one of his intermittent looks at his collection by sorting it by title and letter -- while this sounds kind of arbitrary, it actually has the effect of making you realize how much eminently readable manga material there is out there in little cross-sections like that. Speaking of reliable writers about manga, Katherine Dacey is redesigning her long-running web site.

* not comics: various broadcast interviews and news stories and trailers in support of the Boilerplate franchise.

* that's just the Cannon Way.

* Graphic NYC gives the writer Grant Morrison its photo + profile treatment. Fantagraphics has an interview up with the great Kevin Huizenga. Boing Boing chats with Craig Yoe.

* the writer Mark Verheiden writes about buying old comics just to see them subsequently reprinted, and suggests Al Feldstein's teen comics at Fox as a likely candidate for future collection.

* finally, I guess "GD" means "God" to some people? And cursing is somehow a liberal trait? Another tempest in a teapot for the funnybook industry and another chance to run something that drives a bunch of comments.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Dan Vado!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Paul Grist!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Kevin Maguire!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Ted Adams!

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September 8, 2011


Please Remember That The Dylan Williams Benefit Auctions Are Starting To Cycle Through eBay

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this one will be sold one hour or so after this initially posts
 
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George Kuchar, RIP

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Juanjo Guardido won the Grand Prix at this year's Festival BD de Solliès ville. It looks like this is that show's 23rd year.

* this weekend is the Small Press Expo, perhaps the major event on the North American small-press calendar and the home of the Ignatz Awards (hosted this year by Dustin Harbin). The only advice I have about that show is attempt a full walk around the room -- and if you can help it, don't buy anything on that initial tour. It's an amazing experience just to take in that much comics art, particularly from people you haven't quite heard of before. This year sounds like a really strong show.

* if you're in the area Friday, you might attend Atomic Books' yearly SPXplosion event. They even have their own awards program.

* if you're attending SPX this weekend, please consider paying special attention to the table shared by Tom Neely and JT Dockery, because they'll be repping Sparkplug Comic Books at the show. That company's publisher Dylan Williams is battling cancer and therefore won't be able to make it to North Bethesda. Anything you can do to purchase comics from Tom and JT will get back to Dylan to assist with the financial aspects of Williams' current fight.

* this column neglects a lot of posts about signings, such as this photo-filled post by Michel Fiffe about a July 20th get-together for The Savage Dragon Funnies. Here are some photos from the recent Troop 142 launch party. Go here for a shot or two from Floating World's exhibit in support of the new Casanova.

* MCM London Expo is apparently expanding its Comics Village.

* D+Q announces Kate Beaton's North American tour.

* there are "what I'm going to have at SPX" posts everywhere you look. A small sampling: Kevin Huizenga reports that the fourth and fifth collections of Leon Beyond will be available at SPX. D+Q released a schedule of signings and available books here. Here's where the Retro Fit cartoonists will be and what they'll be bringing.

* finally, the CBLDF has posts on the Jeff Alexander Memorial auction here, and information on material you can purchase to assist the Fund and the SPX's charitable efforts here.
 
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Go, Look: Victor Kerlow

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via
 
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Michael George Re-Trial Begins With Jury Selection

Local media sources report that the Clinton Township, Michigan trial of prominent retailer and convention organizer Michael George got underway yesterday with jury selection. George is on trial for the 1990 murder of his then-wife Barbara George in their comic book store. He was convicted in 2008 of first-degree murder but that decision was reversed later that year due to malfeasance on the prosecution side. That reversal was challenged and stood up in higher court; George's motion to dismiss, however, was denied. This is the retrial.

The trial has been well-publicized for the lurid nature of the crime, its unique setting and the fact that George was retried from a cold case based on gathering and putting together information that wasn't new scientific evidence.
 
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Go, Look: Welcome To My World

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When A Publisher's Comic Book Sale Becomes Worth Mentioning

imageTop Shelf Comics has announced the latest iteration of its yearly (or almost-yearly) massive discounting sale, which will last until September 23 and this year includes savings extended to purchases made at this weekend's Small Press Expo.

I know that there's a line of thinking that someone's sale isn't worth mentioning except in kind of consumer-friendly, wave to the seller, community-of-comics way. I feel the difference between this kind of sale and sales you see from shops and on-line sellers is that the shape of the comics market is such that publishers like Top Shelf have long utilized selling books through the mail and at conventions as part of an aggressive direct-to-consumer sales system that a) mitigates the lack of saturation their titles have in comic shops, b) supplements and perhaps goes deeper into the line in terms of the books they're able to place into bookstores. In other words, sales like this one are a key component in the survival of a Top Shelf, businesses forced to conform to certain practices because of market idiosyncracies. It's hard for me to think of an equivalent in another medium. I've never been hand-sold by a Sonny Mehta or a Ray Muzyka.

Mostly, though, I just sort of like sales and this is a good one. I'm lucky enough to have just about everything from Top Shelf, and disorganized enough not to risk a second purchase. If I lost all of my books later this morning to some sort of angry-at-Chris-and-Brett sentient sinkhole, here's how I'd spend a quick $80 in the sale, working solely from the $3 and $1 listings.

* Banks/Eubanks $3.00
* Dear Julia, $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #1 $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #2 $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #3 $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #4 $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #5 $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #6 $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #7 $3.00
* Dodgem Logic #8 $3.00
* Fox Bunny Funny $3.00
* Happy #1 $1.00
* Happy #2: Elephant, Bunny, & Chicken $1.00
* Happy #3: Zirkus $1.00
* Happy #4: Female $1.00
* Hutch Owen (Vol 1): The Collected $3.00
* Hutch Owen (Vol 2): Unmarketable $3.00
* Jennifer Daydreamer #1 $1.00
* Jennifer Daydreamer #2 $1.00
* Micrographica $3.00
* Pistolwhip (Vol 1) $3.00
* Pistolwhip (Vol 2): Yellow Menace $3.00
* Regards From Serbia $3.00
* Sulk (Vol 1): Bighead and Friends $1.00
* Sulk (Vol 2): Deadly Awesome $1.00
* Sulk (Vol 3): The Kind of Strength... $1.00
* SuperF*ckers #1 $1.00
* SuperF*ckers #2 $1.00
* SuperF*ckers #3 $1.00
* SuperF*ckers #4 $1.00
* Super Spy (Vol 2): The Lost Dossiers $3.00
* Tales of Woodsman Pete $3.00
* The 120 Days of Simon $3.00
* The Man Who Loved Breasts $1.00
* The Playwright $3.00
* The Troll King $3.00

I can imagine putting together two or three similar lists pretty quickly and easily, and that's not getting into the many newer books that are less drastically discounted. In terms of comparing this kind of haul to weekly new comics buying, $80 will get you 23-25 mainstream comic book issues -- maybe a third of a single crossover event.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Not Comics: A Sampling Of Noel Sickles' Commercial Illustration

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Your 2011 Scream Award Comics Category Nominees

North America's newly favorite made-up awards program (I know, I know, they're all made up) the Scream Awards, sponsored and broadcast by the proud, testosterone-wielding cable television network SPIKE and recognizing achievement in various manly genres of media-making, has announced its full slate of awards nominees. This includes three comics categories: Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel, Best Comic Book Writer and Best Comic Book Artist. Those nominees are:

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Best Comic Book Or Graphic Novel
* American Vampire, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque (Vertigo/DC)
* Chew, John Layman and Rob Guillory (Image)
* Daytripper, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (Vertigo/DC)
* Locke & Key, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez (IDW)
* The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (Image)

*****

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Best Comic Book Writer
* Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Captain America: Reborn, The Marvels Project, Steve Rogers: Super Soldier)
* Joe Hill (Locke & Key, The Cape)
* Robert Kirkman (The Astounding Wolf-Man, Haunt, Invincible, The Walking Dead)
* Grant Morrison (Batman Incorporated, Joe the Barbarian)
* Mike Mignola (Baltimore, The Amazing Screw-On Head)

*****

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Best Comic Book Artist
* Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead)
* Mark Buckingham (Fables)
* Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy)
* John Romita Jr. (The Avengers, Kick-Ass)
* Bernie Wrightson (Doc Macabre)

*****

The nominations process was juried. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on October 15, taped for broadcast on the network on October 18 and, one assumes, a couple of times after that. I have yet to see mention of the Comic-Con Icon Award, won last year by Ray Bradbury.

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

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Go, Look: Cheryl Gladstone At LaurenWeinstein.com

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Brian Doherty looks at the art of curating comics.

* the Fairfax Connection profiles Carolyn Belefski.

image* go, bookmark: Vice now has a page devoted to its comics-related articles.

* this Matt Fraction interview with Laura Hudson escaped my attention until someone e-mailed me about it, but it's quite long and involved and, as is usual with the writer, stuffed with insight and compelling asides. There's a new Love & Rockets out?

* you may be familiar with the Kirby Crackle, but have you ever seen Joe Maneely's?

* Rob Clough on three new anthologies. Tucker Stone on a few issues of last decade's intriguing and I think two-series run with the Cable character. Greg McElhatton on Troop 142. Brian Hibbs on the new #1 issues of Justice League and Action Comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Two Face: Year One. Johanna Draper Carlson on My Boyfriend Is A Monster: Made For Each Other.

* oh, so that's where that went.

* not comics: Adrian Tomine illustrates Haruki Murakami.

* Jared Gardner has a new column over at TCJ, which looks like he'll be basically writing for old people and nostalgists -- perfect for me!

* not comics: Buzz Dixon compares pornography to Christian media.

* not exactly comics: this post asks after the cultural effect of 9/11 on superhero effort across various media. I imagine that the real answer is that it's both deeper than we think and very hard to exactly describe, but saying so would make for a pretty horrible essay.

* finally, Robin McConnell talks to Craig Thompson.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Jordan Crane!

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September 7, 2011


Go, Look: Reinventing Football

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Objections Surface To Doonesbury Joke About Tight Sweaters

imageI'm not sure that I have anything to add to this one. On the one hand, it seems to me a not very good joke. On the other, it's kind of refreshing for someone to call out the issues of sexuality that are on the table in cases like this one. One thing about Doonesbury I've always found interesting is that my personal taste is not for Garry Trudeau's jokes that come directly from the mouths of celebrities and politicians, preferring to much greater extent those that are filtered through Trudeau's amazing cast of original characters. When I stop to think about it, the current weirdness of the American political process may be one of the few cultural developments in the last 40 years that doesn't bring to mind a few obvious character representatives from the Doonesbury roster.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Davis Valentine's Day Cards

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Alt-Comics Reacts To News Of Criminal Records' Closure

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The news of the imminent closure of Atlanta's Criminal Records yesterday hit comics in general: all comics stores are important right now, let alone the long-running ones with a national identity. Alternative comics was struck by the news harder than most. Not only was Criminal Records one of that region's leading accounts in terms of consistently carrying alternative comics material as part of their product mix, and not only was that even more important in the 1990s when material from publishers like Fantagraphics and Top Shelf wasn't widely available in bookstores and selling a lot of comics on-line was still a dream, Eric Levin's Little Five Points neighborhood anchor shop was a certain type of comic store that was key to those comics' development and self-conception: the combination music and comics store.

It seems strange to talk about this now, but there was a very recent time during which basic coverage of or even penetration into entire regional areas was a huge concern for alt-comics publishers, and ways to distinguish what they were doing as something other than a crude, taboo-busting variation on superhero comics production proved few and a far between. Retailers like Criminal Records and Seattle's now-defunct Fallout Records, Books & Comics placed an imprimatur of cool on the comics they carried. They also provided a place for signing stops and creator appearances that may have been a little more friendly to those works' natural audiences than some of the stringently mainstream-focused comics shops might be. There was a time in the mid-1990s when visiting a city's comics shops you also had to check the local alternative culture-savvy music store and in more than a few you'd find a rack or shelf's worth of comics there. While this never settled into a long-term trend, and stores selling physical copies of music have been hit even harder than comics shops in the post-Internet retailing world, a place like Criminal Records survived and over the years remained a vital outlet for a lot of alternative and art comics, in addition to quirkier mainstream efforts. With Criminal Records now on its way out, it seems likely that it and stores like it will take a place in whatever historical imagination exists for the alternative comics movement the way that the head shop has become a legendary fount for the undergrounds.

CR contacted about a dozen potentially related parties last night, and while not everyone was able to provide commentary the ones that wrote back did so with a forthright regret that I think is worth reading in full.

Eric Reynolds, Associate Publisher At Fantagraphics: "Well, it just sucks. Criminal is one of those places like Comic Relief or Fallout Records or Quimby's, etc., that helped define my generation, in not only the types of culture we consumed but how we discovered and engaged it. They were -- and are -- tastemakers, even more in music than comics (which I always liked; working with Criminal was cool). I always naively assume a place that special will live forever, so I was really shocked to read about this today.

"I first worked with Eric Levin over 15 years ago, and Fantagraphics was working with him well before that. I actually only met him in person for the first time last summer, and we joked about how hard business was in this modern world but we were both still happy to be at it. That guy knows his business as well as anyone, he's got great taste, he's a huge ambassador for music and comics and art, and it just makes me kind of despair that a place like might not be viable anymore, in a city as big as Atlanta."

Alt-Comics Heavyweight And Occasional Musician Peter Bagge: Criminal Records is a fantastic store owned by a fantastic guy. This is tragic news -- and what makes it worse is that I'm part of the problem. I used to live at stores like this, and lordy knows if I'd ever have had the career I've had without them. But like everyone else now I never leave the house other than to eat and drink, and even that's like once a week. Thanks to the internet the world is now at my fingertips. I wish Eric the best, and hope he does well with whatever he plans to do next."

Cartoonist Rich Tommaso, For Several Years A Resident Of Atlanta: When I think of Criminal Records I think of the years 2001-2003, back when the comics section was run by ex-long-time employee -- and pal-o-mine -- Rick Jackson. Week after week he would persist in recommending comics to me that were the polar opposites of the usual art-house stuff he knew I preferred: he'd shove copies of "mainstream" comics in my face like Brubaker and Cooke's Catwoman, Milligan and Allred's X-Force, Mignola and Davis' B.P.R.D., Dixon and Pulido's Batgirl... to which I always just waved my hand at, shooing them away, saying, "Nah, I don't read that stuff!" If only I had listened... I could've enjoyed those comics as they hit the shelves every month! That's what I imagine; an alternate universe where I could've -- not just stood in Criminal and glanced at those comics--but bought them and enjoyed them and talked about them with the clerks, every week. So I will miss that shop if not for anything else, but for those days when they'd tried so hard to get me to stop being such a goddamn comics snob."

Atlanta-Area Cartoonist Justin Colussy Estes: "We have a frick-ton of great cartoonists, but we lack a critical mass of excellent comics retailers. Criminal Records is the exception. I remember seeing Dan Clowes and Pete Bagge there when they did their tour back in the nineties, and the Bros. Hernandez sometime in the decade before that. They regularly supported local cartoonists, and made an effort to balance the 'mainstream' comics and gns with 'art scene' and 'general audience' works." -- Justin Colussy-Estes

Top Shelf Publisher Chris Staros: This is sad news, indeed. Criminal Records was one of the few shops in the nation that, when they opened, catered to all the Indy comix, zines, and minis, and racked them next to all their CDs and Vinyl -- legitimizing comix in the mainstream eye years before others did. They will surely be missed."
 
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Go, Look: Karn Piana

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via Dan Nadel
 
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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.

*****

JUL111111 FEYNMAN GN $29.99
Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick tackle the popular cultural and science figure's life in part by taking structural clues from his discursive speaking style.

JUN110033 USAGI YOJIMBO #140 $3.50
The 199th comic book in Stan Sakai's long-running series, for some people I know the one comic book they pick up at the store most convenient for them to visit.

imageJUL110708 CASANOVA AVARITIA #1 (OF 4) (MR) $4.99
The first all-new effort in the well-regarded Matt Fraction-written Moon/Bá-drawn cycle of series starring a dimensional-hopping super-spy to come out under the Marvel umbrella of imprints. There's not a whole lot like it on the stands right now -- not just the specific work itself, but the entire category of difficult and highly personal, genre-twisting stories.

JUL110201 ACTION COMICS #1 $3.99
JUL110225 ANIMAL MAN #1 $2.99
JUL110212 BATGIRL #1 $2.99
JUL110209 BATWING #1 $2.99
JUL110208 DETECTIVE COMICS #1 $2.99
JUL110197 GREEN ARROW #1 $2.99
JUL110241 HAWK AND DOVE #1 $2.99
JUL110190 JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1 $2.99
JUL110237 MEN OF WAR #1 $3.99
JUL110235 OMAC #1 $2.99
JUL110240 STATIC SHOCK #1 $2.99
JUL110230 STORMWATCH #1 $2.99
JUL110224 SWAMP THING #1 $2.99
The week's worth of new DC #1s. The Action Comics effort is the big ticket item here, for the historical importance of the title's previous iteration and for writer Grant Morrison's involvement. Hawk And Dove is the one that sold well enough for people to suggest that maybe this New 52 thing from DC is an attempt to secure old Image generation comics fans the way that some of Marvel's efforts over the last 10 years brought fans of comics 1975-1985 back into the fold. I have to admit, I thought "Batwing" was a typo.

APR110228 ASTRO CITY LIFE IN THE BIG CITY HC NEW ED $29.99
APR110229 ASTRO CITY LIFE IN THE BIG CITY TP NEW ED $17.99
There has to be something intriguing to more and more companies releasing hardcovers and softcovers at the same time, but I'm not sure it applies to re-releases as much as it does to new ones. I have to imagine this is a perennial seller for the company, though.

JUN110346 CUBA MY REVOLUTION TP (MR) $17.99
A paperback version of the well-publicized book by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel, which I believe is a fictionalized account of a young woman whose experiences match Lockpez'.

JUN110730 OZ HC OZMA OF OZ $29.99
I'm told Marvel does surprisingly well with its non-superhero books aimed at the bookstore market, of which this one has been maybe the most high-profile in terms of awards attention.

JUL111109 AMERICUS GN $14.99
A book about a small-town young person's fight against library censorship seems to me like it would very much appeal to small-town librarians and feature-story writers, although maybe I have that totally wrong.

MAY111047 BIG QUESTIONS TP (MR) $44.95
A different version of Anders Nilsen's massive release -- a paperback whose price point starts at $25 cheaper. I think this is close enough to the hardcover drop to count as a simultaneous release, as discussed above.

JUN111172 GON GN KODANSHA ED VOL 01 $10.99
I love this description of the series here: "Gon is a small dinosaur that has managed to survive extinction. He goes on fun adventures in a world of vibrant creatures and fauna. A unique manga told entirely without words, Gon features lush art depicting detailed beautiful environments." What I remember about the series in past iterations is that it seemed enormously cruel and violent in a way that would have greatly appealed to me as a child with a magnifying glass and too much time on my hands.

JUL111230 LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND SO MANY SPLENDID SUNDAYS NEW PTG $125.00
Well, yeah, you certainly want this if you don't have it. Not only magnificent comics but one of the more important efforts in this generation of reprint projects as well.

JUN111294 VELVETEEN & MANDALA GN $16.95
A Vertical book from cartoonist Jiro Matsumoto. Not all of the non-Tezuka Vertical efforts have found an audience, but this one seems violent and sex-filled enough to have a shot.

JUN111335 CATS DOGS MEN WOMEN NINNIES & CLOWNS $40.00
Unpublished William Steig. This fascinates me because while I have a desire to see more Steig, I'm not sure how he'll be served if these are ideas that weren't fully-realized or even intended for publication. So I do want to place hands on it before I order. If this is in your comics shop today, cherish that comics shop.

JUL111125 KISS & TELL ROMANTIC RESUME AGES 0-22 GN $15.99
I'm a little confused here, because I thought this Harper Perennial collection of MariNaomi's autobiographical work structured in a way you can infer from the title came out last Spring. You should pick it up and give it a look if it hits your shop today, regardless.

JUL110778 DO IT YOURSELF DOODLER SC (MR) $6.95
Previewed here. If I were clever, I'd write an appropriately upbeat sentence about some comics-related efforts due to arrive from flickr and tumblr efforts.

JUL110449 BIG LIE #1 $3.99
Profiled here. Rick Veitch and Gary Erskine use a fictional narrative as a vehicle to call into question elements of the 9/11 official narrative.

MAY110047 LITTLE LULU GIANT SIZE TP VOL 04 $24.99
Dark Horse's almost stealthy work reprinting the Stanley/Tripp Little Lulu work in multiple formats continues here.

JUL110985 FINDING FRANK AND HIS FRIEND GN $39.95
APR118175 FINDING FRANK AND HIS FRIEND GN $39.95
I have no idea why this has two completely different solicitations spaced just a couple of months apart, but I assume this is the high-concept look back at a strip that doesn't really exist that also came out in 2010 long enough to qualify for Eisner consideration.

MAY111079 LIKE A SNIPER LINING UP HIS SHOT HC $18.99
A sure thing, I'd imagine, another collaboration between pantheon-level cartoonist Jacques Tardi and the crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette, whose previous English-language release West Coast Blues impressed many when it came out a while back.

JUN110784 PS MAGAZINE BEST PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE MONTHLY HC $21.95
A very handsome book detailing the comics efforts employed by Will Eisner and his studio to teach our military men certain sound principles of operational upkeep. If like me you have a hard time reading a lot of these comics at once, this historically-grounded volume will soften that quite a bit with its contextual work.

*****

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

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Go, Look: A Top 10 Kirby Spread (In Terms Of Strangeness)

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Douglas Wolk reviews Anders Nilsen's gigantic Big Questions for the New York Times.

image* Austin English interviews one of my favorite cartoonists, Warren Craghead, for TCJ.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Year One: Batman Scarecrow. Grant Goggans on The Cardboard Valise. Sean Gaffney on Book Girl And The Captive Fool. Derik Badman on four books from Colosse.

* this is the kind of comics crossover I can get behind. Plus I'd like a poster.

* you know, these fake plans for The Comics Journal are really funny, but I bet if in 2001 you'd written in "Viva La Comix!" that in 2011 two of the Ganzfeld guys would be given the magazine and put the whole thing on-line except for a 9000-page paper edition that cover-featured Robert Crumb's adaptation of a book from the Bible, everyone would have laughed at that, too.

* Theo Ellsworth makes some art.

* those fake TCJ plans are a parody of DC Comics's recent moves, if you aren't following that story. Matt Seneca goes knives out more directly. He shares my basic feeling -- frequently discussed here -- that comics has been something other than a mass medium since sometime between 1947 and 1958 and any attempt to reclaim that status tends to end in misguided policy. He also employs an argument I used to see a lot more from The Comics Journal in the late '80s and early '90s: that ultimately the comics in question don't mean anything.

* Sarah Morean and the Minneapolis Indie Xpo are profiled in a Twin Cities publication or web site (I can't really tell which).

* they actually cooked the lamb. In a completely unrelated post, here's a discussion of recipe-related comics-making by some of your favorite webcomics makers.

* not comics: taking the mic proffered by the writer Warren Ellis, Jess Nevins talks about how the roots of the cultural impulses we relate to modern fandom had their start in the social activities of young Victorian-era women. I like to think the Internet was created for people like Nevins: folks with deep knowledge of a single subject or era and the ability to apply it to a lot of different concepts.

* Wiley Miller strikes a nerve.

* love for the Ames lettering guide, including jpegs of the instructions that come with one.

* I always liked the Marvel super-villain the Vulture because he fit so well into the idea of the early Spider-Man comics as our young hero running a gauntlet of asshole adults, and he really hasn't fit in since.

* Mike Sterling talks DC from a retailer's standpoint.

* Laura Terry draws that railroad car that hit the Schulz Library.

* Peter Richardson enthuses over the forthcoming Barks books from Fantagraphics.

* finally, the cartoonist and frequent comics commentator Gerry Alanguilan draws in a strip format. I don't know that I recall ever seeing a lot of his work in color.
 
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Local Media: Criminal Records To Close In November

This is too bad.
 
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September 6, 2011


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* Levon Jihanian wrote in to mention that Danger Country #2 will be out in time for APE. The first issue was nominated for a pair of Ignatz Awards.

image* in the "comics' nice guys" department, Zander Cannon will be the cover illustrator for the next Lutefisk Sushi effort, while Gene Yang has since January been working on writing the next Airbender: The Last Avatar comic book. That latter announcement should have driven its own announcement as Yang has a long history as an involved fan of that property, and has fashioned a nice career for himself with his own work, but I kept forgetting to put something up. Sorry, Gene. That one's from Dark Horse, and looks like it's being published in digest form.

* I hope this John Martz book from AdHouse Books doesn't get lost in the Fall Books crush.

* the good news is that Optic Nerve will have a new issue out soon. The bad news is that if you stop to realize how many years Optic Nerve has been around you may develop a tiny headache. It's still way better news that a new issue is coming out, though.

* Paul Rainey is serializing a new series on-line.

* a discussion about restoring Simon & Kirby.

* Dean Haspiel is apparently about to undertake a new Billy Dogma storyline.

* this Facebook post from Barry Deutsch indicates he's finished script work on Hereville 2.

* Johanna Draper Carlson parses an IDW press release about having acquired the Magic: The Gathering license, looking for how they negotiate the fact that this was a much more popular endeavor 15 years ago. I'm not suggesting you click on this link without turning down your speakers -- there's some dramatic music there and I don't know how to stop it -- but it's a report that indicates IDW did okay with at least the first issues of its latest license that may have been more popular years ago.

* here are details on November's Wally Wood sci-fi collection from Vanguard.

* this site doesn't mention as many new on-line efforts as it probably should, so consider this a step in that direction: Matthew Badham directs our attention to a site devoted to cataloging and reviewing stand-alone stories from the long run of 2000 AD.

* finally, a brief mention at the D+Q blog notes that Brian Ralph's zombie comic Daybreak was pulled aside by customs officials, and that this has delayed the US debut in shops until after SPX. The book will be at SPX, however, as will Ralph.

*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 12:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Great News: R. Kikuo Johnson Has A New Web Site Up

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even better news: it's in support of a new work from Toon Books in 2012
 
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A Few Minor Updates On The Beating Of Syria's Ali Ferzat

* this general profile of Ferzat and the beating he received offers up the comparison that's been on the tip of everyone's typing fingers: the murder of Victor Jara.

* I had yet to see this specific response from Chip Bok.

* the Next Media Animation crew has their say.

* one link I've seen has this video reporting that a family member says the cartoonist is recovering and will return to cartooning when he's able.

* this article makes a too-facile comparison between Ferzat's beating and the fact that the television host David Letterman has been threatened by jihadists but probably won't have his tongue cut out. Even if the latter actually happened, it doesn't seem to me to have the same quality as an act that has the imprimatur of the state, but maybe that's just me.

* this video posted at the official site shows a small rally the sites says is in France; it ends with a loud horn going off, so be careful -- I'm not kidding. The footage includes posters made of Ferzat out of what I'm guessing are his own cartoons as component visuals, a process that always leads me to think magic is somehow involved.
 
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OTBP: Nelson

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Why It Was Important For DC To Keep Prices Down

I ran across this comment from DC Executive Vice President John Rood late yesterday about his disappointment that DC reducing its prices this year to $2.99 across its line (with significant exceptions) has failed to lead to an increase in sales. I've seen similar comments from other DC people. I hold that anyone that expected a trackable boost in sales on a specific comic book or specific comic books through price reduction was always whistling up a tree, and I'm surprised enough to see people that should know better say so in public I wonder if they're doing so for effect rather than they're really dismayed by the lack of results.

Recent comics history is filled with price point maneuvers in the Direct Market that conventional wisdom might think would lead to a boost or an increased proclivity to try certain books, but hasn't: everything from the occasional mainstream round of 99-cent or similarly reduced-price books to alternative pamphlet pricing generally. I think it's pretty clear that the customer base that buys comics on a regular basis has shown time after time they don't routinely make price comparisons on a one-on-one basis.

I maintain that the reason as many publishers as possible keeping their pamphlet prices reasonably low remains important is that it diminishes the number of people driven from weekly comics buying when the value of their comfortable purchase point -- $10 to $20 to $100 to whatever -- becomes reduced and they experience this as disappointment over a length of time. In other words, higher prices don't drive people to lower-priced comics, they drive people out of the habit of buying serial comics. Comic book buyers tend to be habitual buyers, many of whom will buy series for years after they've stopped enjoying the individual comics they purchase, mostly because of various issues of purchasing momentum. They don't burn easily; they simmer. This is the main reason why raising prices can be dangerous: it's extremely difficult to track the harm it may do.
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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posted 12:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
More Reed Crandall And George Evans On Twilight Zone

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* best wishes and good luck to Ian Brill, who has left his editor's position at BOOM! to try his hand at writing full-time.

image* you're keeping up with the increasingly odd fantasy series Destructor, right?

* I know this won't be accessible to everyone, but Jay Lynch has a nice post up on Facebook about Filipino comics.

* check out these cool-looking Wally Wood pencils.

* Mike Rhode gears up for this weekend's Small Press Expo by talking to various cartoonists hitting the area: Alexis Fajardo and Keith Knight thus far. Tim O'Shea keeps marching to the beat of his own drummer, presenting an interview with color artist Elizabeth Breitweiser.

* I really do enjoy these old promotional images, even when they're not exactly promotional images.

* those Kim Deitch memoir-style essays through music over at TCJ have all been vastly entertaining; you can read this one as a stand-alone if you want, as it's stuffed with intimate details of the underground comix era.

* Josh Kopin reviews Justice League #1. As does Christopher Allen. Todd Klein looks at Legion Of Super-Heroes #12, Adventure Comics #525 and Green Lantern #67. Rob Clough dives into recent volumes of Graphic Classics. Greg McElhatton looks at Wandering Son Vol. 1. Don MacPherson is crazy. So is Steve Sunu. Ed Sizemore gets into Tank Takuro.

* Marc-Oliver Frisch picks up on a massive DC failure to publish a recent month's worth of books as they said they would according to the solicitations. This should end with the New 52 initiative, and I imagine that it was the cause as well.

* the veteran comics industry pundit Alan David Doane has one of his semi-frequent, comics-related auctions up and running.

* the writer and critic Chris Mautner recommends six books from Sparkplug Comic Books as part of the ongoing effort to direct people to consider buying books from its ailing, highly-regarded publisher Dylan Williams.

* I can't imagine there will be much more fun out there to be had on the comics Internet the next several days than following stuffed-animal blogger Bully on a scan-heavy trip through Atlas/Seaboard.

* finally, Martin Wisse looks at Tim O'Neil's look at cartoonist Dave Sim and Cerebus.
 
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Happy 32nd Birthday, Jason T. Miles!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Sergio Aragones!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Go Nagai!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Dustin Harbin!

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September 5, 2011


Totally Missed It: Beguiling Opens Up Kids-Oriented Comics Store

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It's called Little Island Comics, the pertinent information is in the image above, the blog that you should bookmark is here (as a direct link probably makes that easier), and when The Beguiling says they're opening quietly, they really mean it! You can shop there tomorrow in advance of a grand opening.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Jay Lynch: Skip Williamson's Home And Gallery Hit By Irene

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I totally missed this until now, but apparently the home and gallery of major underground-era cartoonist Skip Williamson was damaged -- made toxic, even -- by the recent flooding in Vermont caused by Hurricane Irene. Jay Lynch has a YouTube video posted he says was shot in Williamson's neighborhood.

Now would be an excellent time to buy Williamson's memoir Spontaneous Combustion for the Kindle. My memory is that he's not only a good writer but a fearless one. Lynch says that direct cash donations can go to Williamson at PO Box 1567 Wilmington, Vermont 05363. I hope that you'll consider helping.
 
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Go, Look: The Labor Print Archives At Georgia State University

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posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
DC Comics Should Release Its Digital Numbers

As seen in this interview, it looks like DC won't be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there.

This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage -- call it the "I have a girlfriend in Canada" of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn't know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.

One weird result is that DC's lack of reporting numbers has also likely hurt specific DC efforts. When someone provides analysis on numbers that don't reflect all of the sales, even when it's just a few thousand copies that aren't seen in the pre-order estimates released to the Direct Market, certain comics can acquire the reputation of a losing, perhaps-soon-to-be-canceled endeavor. This must be maddening to the creators involved, who know because of their royalty statements that sales were better than the best numbers analysts have.

We have legitimate agents that are interested in numbers, and would process them in responsible fashion. Why not open up that end of the industry fully instead of partially? I can't imagine what DC would lose, except the ability to finesse certain publicity goals. If they choose to keep that information to themselves, then that's fine as well. In that case, there should be widespread agreement that any claim made on the behalf of numbers a company chooses not to release should never make a headline and rarely make an article.
 
posted 12:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Drawings By Serge Clerc

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posted 12:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Labor Day Brings With It Good News And Scary News

It's Labor Day here in the U.S. One bit of good news about Labor Day is it remains the traditional, cultural end of the summer. Therefore there is much cooking out, swimming, boating and rueful, musical recollections of dating Australian girls/guys in leather jackets down at the beach to be had by all. One piece of bad news is that September is when this site starts to get questions about the next year's Comic-Con International, still a whopping 10 months away. With that in mind, the placeholder edition of the Comic-Con guide has just gone up in the Commentary section. We apologize for this yearly intrusion of next summer into the tail-end of this one.
 
posted 12:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Dustin Harbin Has 15 Thoughts On The State Of Digital Comics

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Harbin is a cartoonist for whom digital must seem very appealing and a long-time brick-and-mortar retail employee, two worlds that are straddled much less frequently than you'd imagine
 
posted 12:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Norm Muffitt, 1942-2011

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Norm Muffitt, a prolific cartoonist for news publications in the Canadian northwest that worked under the nom de plume "Bush," died on August 19 in Alberta from complications due to cancer. He was 69 years old.

Muffitt was the son of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer. The elder Muffitt enrolled in his country's air force at the outset of World War II and was presumed dead after going missing in action in the European theater of war -- through documents declassified years later Muffit discovered his father died off the coast of Ireland doing secret test pilot work. Muffitt noted in an interview with Susanna McLeod done earlier this year that, "The last thing he asked my mother was to keep him (meaning me...) out of uniform. Ergo I joined the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Air Cadets, Army Cadets, Reserve Air Force and Militia as soon as I came of age. I learned to fly on an Air Cadet Scholarship at 17."

Muffitt told McLeod his childhood love of cartooning was nurtured during his mother's second marriage, to a jazz musician, during his teen years. He enrolled in the RCMP at age 18, and continued to draw on the side. One of his duties was touring North America performing in the organization's long-running equestrian showcase the RCMP Musical Ride. He would eventually become a pilot, first with the RCMP and then after retiring in 1986 with Transport Canada.

Muffitt made his first professional sale to Army Laughs magazine in 1971, while in the thick of his career as a pilot. A chance meeting with publisher Jack Sigvaldason of what would eventually become the Northern News Services in early 1972 kickstarted would become a nearly four-decade relationship with that group's publications. The pen-name "Bush" was used because of Muffitt's ties to the RCMP's Air Services Branch. Although Muffitt had permission to pursue that work if his true identity could be hidden from everyone save his editors, Muffitt worked in a position of enough sensitivity in terms of flying dignitaries around the Canadian northwest that any extra notoriety might have become a hindrance. Muffitt's first cartoon for Northern News appeared in November 1972.

Among Muffitt's many, varied and typically frequent clients were Northern News' first paper The Yellowknifer, News North, The Deh Cho Drum, The Inuvik Drum, The Fort Saskatchewan Record, The Albertaner and The Sherwood Park News. Muffitt would do both black and white and color work as required -- sometimes a black and white version would see publication in print and a color version on-line. He was regarded as a gently humorous cartoonist that focused on local and regional issues. Two of his recurring visual elements were a mouse -- based on a mouse that got loose in the newspaper offices early in his freelance relationship with Northern News -- and a raven.

Muffitt was diagnosed with cancer in May, and went on hiatus from his six-days-a-week cartooning gig soon after.

Muffitt was an active member of such organizations of RCMP Veterans, the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists and the St. Albert Cosmopolitcan Club. He received RCMP's Long Service Medal and the Silver Jubilee Media, and was given the Belt Of Orion Award For Excellence by the Canadian Aviation Hall Of Fame.

Norm Muffitt is survived by his wife, a sister, a daughter (the cartoonist Jen Jones), a son-in-law, two grandchildren and a great grand-child. A "Best Of Bush" feature at Northern News can be seen here.
 
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Go, Read: A Proposed History Of Jack Kirby's "Crackle" Effect

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Go, Look: Steve Ditko's 3-D Disaster Doom Death

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Sam Henderson recalls the Ted Rall/Danny Hellman dust-up of years gone by.

image* the prolific comics artist and illustrator Sean Phillips posts images of a few of the paintings he'll be exhibiting during his community's art walk. I hope there's one of Larry Manetti.

* this seems like a cute site of comics-related pictures, although I'm never a huge fan of labeling your scan of other people's work -- if you're able to scan and post the image, someone else should be able to re-scan and re-post.

* I deeply hated these characters as a small child.

* this P. Craig Russell page of art is the usual fun-to-look-at item, but the "comics is weird" description of how the page came into being is the keeper here.

* I totally missed that R. Sikoryak has joined the faculty at The Center For Cartoon Studies.

* Noel Murray writes about newspaper comics, with a nice graph on Cul-De-Sac. I'm not sure I agree with how Murray's set up his history, but he's playing in such broad strokes I'm not sure I could write an article of similar length and cover as much ground. I think my strongest disagreement in terms of how he set that up may come with his deciding not to touch on that whole Beetle Bailey school of high-concept gag strips at any length -- unless I missed it -- as I think that was clearly the dominant strain of strip-making in the second half of the 20th Century -- one reason Kelly, Schulz and Trudeau stood out when they made their debuts, and Watterson, Larson and Breathed popped on the page later on.

* speaking of Cul-De-Sac, Petey Otterloop continues his run on the dailies, and reveals himself to be quite the formally inventive cartoonist.

* Daryl Cagle spotlights a round of Labor Day-related cartoons.

* longtime retailer Mike Sterling appraises DC's New 52 launch from behind the counter of last week's inaugural efforts.

* Paul Gravett reviews a mess of comics, including a new one from Bastien Vives. Win Wiaceck examines The Comics Journal #301. Colin Panetta unpacks the good and the bad in Dark Horse Presents #3.

* finally, I believe this is that famous photo where seven seconds later Adrian Tomine beat the photographer to the ground with his bare hands. Okay, that didn't really happen, but that look on Tomine's face is pretty scary.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Cathy Guisewite!

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posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Remember You Can Still Buy Stuff To Benefit Dylan Williams

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This site continues to run the latest in terms of auctioned comics art, publications and illustrations made available to benefit ailing comics publisher Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comic Books. You can also buy things from the Sparkplug shop. The above is a photo of an array of PictureBox Inc. books donated by publisher Dan Nadel.

I've heard that the two-day sale at Floating World last week on Williams' behalf netted two New Comics Days' worth of money for the publisher's bills, so that's great to hear.
 
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September 4, 2011


CR Sunday Interview: Caitlin McGurk

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this interview has been archived
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sue Storm Pin-Up

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these were cool because they functioned as a pretty picture but also as a storytelling suggestion that the Marvel superheroes functioned like celebrities rather than as stock superheroes
 
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Maybe The Best Name For Any Cartoonist Ever

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Not Comics: James McConnell Profiled

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Go, Look: Reptisaurus And Grass Green

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Go, Look: 1950s-Era Joe Kubert

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Go, Bookmark: Snowball 99

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Go, Look: The Try To Sit Like Mary Jane Watson Contest

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Go, Look: Speedy At The Factory

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

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posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 35th Anniversary To Scott Edelman And Irene Vartanoff!

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Paul Smith!

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posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Scott Shaw!

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #265 -- Collection Wish-List 2011

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Works You'd Like To See Collected In Archival Editions." This is how they responded.

*****

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John Vest

1. Gerber/Colan Howard The Duck newspaper strips
2. Omaha The Cat Dancer stories from Sizzle by Vance and Waller
3. Dick Moores' Gasoline Alley
4. Shary Flenniken's Trots And Bonnie
5. VT Hamlin's Alley Oop

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. the complete Virginia Huget
2. the complete Ethel Hays
3. the complete Faith Burrows
4. "Oh! Margy!" and "Merely Margy" by John Held, Jr.
5. "Blondie" (from 1930 to 1932) by Chic Young

*****

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Michael J. Ryan

* Keif Llama by Matt Howarth
* Rima by Kanigher and Nebres
* Journey by Meisner-Loebs
* The Hecker by The Bierbaum and Giffen
* Not Brand Echh!

*****

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Jeet Heer

* The Gumps by Sidney Smith
* Bungle Family by Harry J. Tuthill
* Suburban Heights and other newspaper panel strips by Gluyas Williams
* When a Feller Needs a Friend and other newspaper panel strips by Clare Briggs
* New Funnies and other comic books from the 1940s and 1950s by John Stanley (i.e. all his non-Little Lulu work)

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. Barnaby by Crockett Johnson... oh, wait, that's already happening.

1. Stumble Inn by George Herriman... that one too?

What an embarrassment of riches they are publishing these days, eh? This list just gets shorter and shorter... it's still pretty long, though.

1. Steven by Doug Allen
2. Odd Bodkins by Dan O'Neill
3. Peter Wheat by Walt Kelly
4. Barney Google by Billy DeBeck (Designed by Roger Langridge, please!)
5. The Doo Dads by Arch Dale

*****

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Matthew Johnson

1. VT Hamlin's Alley Oop
2. Tom Batuik's Funky Winkerbean
3. Mort Walker's Sam and Silo
4. Dean Young's Blondie
5. Chip Samson's The Born Loser

*****

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Don MacPherson

1. the Len Wein/Dave Gibbons run on Green Lantern
2. Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's Empire
3. Pre-Moore/Davis Captain Britain comics from Marvel UK
4. the Alex Saviuk-drawn backups from Action Comics (Atom, Aquaman, Air Wave)
5. Batman Family

*****

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Joe Schwind

1. Bob Armstrong's MICKEY RAT
2. Melinda Gebbie's Comix & Stories
3. Marsh, Sgroi & Ushler's DAVY CROCKETT (1955)
4. Harrison Cady's Bugs, Birds & Bird's Eye Views
5. Gabby Hayes Western (1948-53)

*****

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Matt Maxwell

1. THE MICRONAUTS -- Marvel run. No explanation is necessary. None would suffice.
2. Kirby's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Probably impossible due to rights, still, would love to have it.
3. EPIC ILLUSTRATED. The entirety of the magazine run.
4. Alex Toth's short works for DC. This is a no-brainer.
5. RUDY by William Overgard. One of my favorite strips from my childhood, sadly overlooked.

*****

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Thomas Scioli

1. Jack Kirby's In the Days of the Mob
2. Michael Golden and Bill Mantlo's Micronauts
3. Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy's Master of Kung Fu
4. Jack Kirby's 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, and Steve Ditko's ROM:Spaceknight

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sam Glanzman'z Kona, Monarch Of Monster Isle
2. Jim Stenstrum & Abel Lazaman's Rex Havoc & The Ass-Kickers Of The Fantastic
3. Dave Sim's Glamourpuss
4. Shary Flenniken's Trots And Bonnie (Yeah! Me, too!)
5. Stan Lynde's Rick O'Shay (particularly the Sunday strips in full color)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Doonesbury
2. Jack Kirby's 2001: A Space Odyssey (adaptation and ongoing series)
3. 'Mazing Man
4. Cerebus
5. The Phantom (newspaper strips) by Lee Falk, et al.

*****

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Patrick Ford

1. Jack Kirby Silver Surfer graphic novel from the complete pencil photocopies with Kirby's original typed script.
2. George Herriman Los Angeles Herald-Examiner cartoons complete
3. Harvey Kurtzman Little Annie Fanny a big chunk reprinted from Kurtzman's layouts
4. Garrett Price White Boy/Skull Valley
5. Sidney Smith Chester Gump Sunday adventure pages complete

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Wired World by Phil Bond
2. The uncollected Captain Marvel/Captain Marvele Familymaterial by CC Beck, et al (w/better production)
3. The uncollected Plastic Man material by Jack Cole (ditto)
4. Scribbly by Sheldon Mayer
5. Rubber Blanket and other miscellaneous comics David Mazzucchelli doesn't wish to reprint/collect

Does the uncollected Cromartie High School material count? Or is that a translation -- ? Aw, who cares, I just want to see the rest of that material already. This is bullshit!

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Complete Smilin' Ed Smiley by Raoul Vezina
2. Cap'n Quick & A Foozle by Marshall Rogers
3. The short works of Brian Ralph from Non, Monster, etc.
4. Harvey Kurtzman's freelance years - late '50s/early '60s
5. THB by Paul Pope

*****

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Fabrice Stroun

1. Rom (Mantlo, S. Buscema, Ditko; Marvel)
2. Champagne et gâteaux secs (Michel Pirus; published in 1985 & 86 in Métal Hurlant)
3. Soldier X (Igor Kordey, Marvel)
4. Big Numbers (first three issues + third finished but never published one)
5. All the comics Jim Shaw has exhibited in art galleries over the years

*****

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Jeffrey Flowers

1. The Complete Witzend (Wally Wood and company)
2. Twisted Tales And Alien Worlds (Bruce Jones's anthologies from the 80's)
3. Jeff Jones's Idyl and I'm Age strips
4. Jim Steranko's Outland movie adaption
5. Shary Flenniken's Trots And Bonnie

Sadly, my number five matches yours!

*****

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Indigo Kelleigh

1: The Complete Life in Hell
2: The Heckler/Ambush Bug
3: Akiko
4: 1963 (complete with unpublished issues!)
5: Cerebus (the phone books are comprehensive, but the newsprint paper is hardly archival)

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Trots and Bonnie
2. Deadenders (complete this time)
3. The Shadow by Helfer & Baker
4. Adventures of Bob Hope

and... oh yeah...

5. Thriller!

*****

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Charles Brownstein

1) The Comics of National Lampoon, organized by artist
2) The Complete Works of Joel Beck
3) The Complete Works of Richard Corben
4) Tales From The Heart (one proper, definitive edition)
5) Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children (Not Comics, but originally presented in that format. And I still love it)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Michael Evans' Montague Hale
2. Al Taliaferro's Donald Duck (a decent best-of would be fine)
3. Air Pirates Funnies
4. Kurtzman & Elder's Goodman Beaver (complete, including "Goodman Goes Playboy")
5. Steve Ditko's non-Spider-man/Dr. Strange work for Marvel in the 60's.

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Fort Thunder, PAPER RODEO newspapers
2. George Carlson's work from Jingle Jangle Comics
3. Gabrielle Bell's 31 Day's of July Web Comic Experiment
4. Osama Tezuka's Phoenix
5. Frank Santoro's Blast Furnace Funnies

*****

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John Platt

1. The Secret Files of Dr. Drew
2. The complete Dick Briefer funny Frankenstein issues
3. F.G. Cooper's cartoon monograms
4. The collected gag cartoons of Tom Cheney
5. All of Rick Geary's short strips

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Mark Landman's Fetal Elvis stories
2. Alan Moore's Miracleman
3. Pete Bagge's Hate Annuals
4. The Grendel: God and the Devil storyline
5. Tim Truman's Scout

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Doonesbury by G.B. Trudeau
2. The Bogie Man by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Robin Smith
3. Steed & Mrs. Peel by Grant Morrison and Ian Gibson
4. Oh, Wicked Wanda! by Frederic Mullally and Ron Embleton
5. Sapphire & Steel by Angus Allen and Arthur Ranson

*****

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Dustin Harbin

1) Blueberry
2) Comprehensive collections of early Richie Rich
3) Adolf (I know this isn't what you're asking, BUT it's been out of print forever, since long before the Vertical revival of Tezuka reprints)
4) Corto Maltese
5) All Jay Stephens' early stuff (Sin Comics, Oddville, etc.)

*****

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Mark Coale

1. 1950s danger trail
2. 1950s phantom stranger
3. Master of kung fu
4. Deadly hands of kung fu magazine
5. All american men of war balloon buster

*****

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Gerry Alanguilan

1. Collections of the best work from Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, and Alex Niño from '70s DC.
2. Collection of Barry Windsor Smith's 80's work from Marvel including covers.
3. Mad Magazine Omnibus collecting issues #1-50
4. Alan Moore's oversized Swamp Thing Omnibus in black and white.
5. Supernatural Thrillers from Marvel.

*****

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M. Emery

1. Ron Embleton/Frederic Mullally Oh Wicked Wanda!
2. Jose Ortiz/Alan Hebden/John Wagner/Alan Grant The Tower King/House of Daemon
3. Keith Watson Dan Dare
4. Len Lawson The Lone Avenger
5. Conrad Frost/Basil Blackaller/Tony Speer Ace O'Hara

*****

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Gabe Fowler

1. Raw 1-8 (comprehensive, full-size)
2. Arcade
3. Dan Clowes's uncollected early work
4. all of Cowboy Henk by Kamagurka and Seele
5. Paper Rodeo

*****

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Simon Heath

1. Krazy Kat dailies by George Herriman
2. Polly and Her Pals dailies by Cliff Sterrett
3. U.S.S. Stevens by Sam Glanzman
4. Thriller by Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden
5. Master of Kung Fu by Moench and Gulacy et al.

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. Dennis The Menace by Fred Toole and Al Wiseman
2. Little Archie by Bob Bolling
3. EVERYTHING Jim Aparo illustrated for Charlton: Wander, Thane, Tiffany Sinn, The Prankster, Miss Bikini Luv, The Phantom, and a bunch of mystery and sci-fi tales (while i certainly liked his DC stuff, there's something about his earlier work that I absolutely love!)
4. All the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Atlas era (and early Marvel) shorts. I realize that these are actually being collected in the ongoing Atlas Masterworks editions currently being published, but--taking nothing away from the accompanying stories by Kirby, Heck and all the rest--having the Ditko stories all gathered together in one place would be a dream come true!
5. Master of Kung Fu by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Wordsmith
* Slow Death
* Witzend
* Kelly Green
* Weirdo

I know Wordsmith was collected in a couple of trades but I'd like to see it in a nice book.

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Darna by Mars Ravelo and Nestor Redondo
2. Voltar by Alfredo Alcala
3. Ikabod by Nonoy Marcelo
4. Slice of Life by Larry Alcala
5. Hagibis by Francisco V. Coching

*****

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Mark Waid

1. Scott McCloud's ZOT, complete in a uniform library
2. The Complete Superman Dailies and Sundays, 1939-1965
3. Jimmy Thompson's Robotman
4. Tales From the Heart by Goff & Nieves
5. John Stanley's Dunc 'n' Loo

*****

topic suggested by John Vest; thanks, John

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


Charles Schulz Draws And Talks About Charlie Brown


A Tribute To Ronald Searle's St. Trinian's


Short Film About The 2011 Philly Alternative Comic-Con


Jaime Hernandez Talks To CBR At CCI


Doug Sneyd At This Year's Fan Expo In Toronto
 
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September 3, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 27 to September 2, 2011:

1. DC officially relaunches its superhero "universe" with the dual release of Flashpoint #5/Justice League #1 to comic book shops and through same-day digital release. Much publicity was had.

2. The world and his fellow cartoonists react to the beating of Ali Ferzat.

3. Former prominent retailer and convention organizer Michael George has his motion to dismiss denied, and will stand trial once again for the 1990 murder of his ex-wife in their comics store starting September 7.

Winner Of The Week
Small Press Expo

Losers Of The Week
San Francisco comics fans

Quote Of The Week
"Decompressed storytelling needs to take a hike. Women need to be more than (literally in JL's case) cheerleaders for the dudes. What you show on the cover needs to have some resemblance to what's in the comic. And assume every comic is someone's first (especially when it's a first issue) and make it clear who's who." -- Ian Boothby

*****

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

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

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

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

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Happy 88th Birthday, Mort Walker!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Ethan Van Sciver!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Paul Chadwick!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Victor Cayro!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Joe Matt!

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Not Comics: College Football Season Begins In Full Today

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I'm happy, but maybe not this happy. Also: obligatory comics tie-in.
 
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September 2, 2011


Recent Updates On Situation Of Malaysian Cartoonist Zunar

The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who has been battling the Malaysian government over the banning of books and harassment received because of politically satirical cartoons, sent along a pair of updates as to his situation. The first is that he has recently been named as an Artist-In-Residence at the Art and Censorship Program offered by BilbaoArte/Fundacion BBK in Spain. It's a three-month program, Zunar will join 20 other artists in Spain from early October until the end of the December, and will take part in and design the poster for the VI Festival Against Censorship in November. In a statement, Zunar says the residency means the following for his situation.
"1. [The] Artist-in-Residence award is not only a recognition for me as an editorial cartoonist, but also for the struggle to fight censorship and suppression of expression in Malaysia.

"2. It gives me a new strength to produce more cartoons that focus on corruption, waste of public money and injustices by the Malaysian government.

"3. It is also a signal for the Malaysian government to stop all types of intimidation, threats and the use of criminal laws to silence me and other artists because the art community around the world is watching them.

"4. I would like to thank my fans, supporters, readers, friends and families who have been giving me the continued support for this achievement."
Zunar also notes that the Kuala Lumpur High Court will hear his suit against the Malaysian government over his September 2010 and a book seizure surrounding his book Cartoon-O-Phobia. The last round went against the cartoonist and his legal representation, seemingly without a full review of materials presented.
 
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Go, Look: Blobby Boys

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Bleeding Cool, Robot 6 On Source Of Pirated Justice League #1

So apparently there were pirated scans of DC's Justice League #1 available for download hours before the print and downloadable-comic copies were available for sale. This could be seen as a troubling sign for the company's relaunch and digital strategy introduction this week not necessarily from a security standpoint -- something like this was bound to happen -- but more for what it indicated as an appetite for digital copies of the publisher's New 52 comics that slips past the price point at which DC has decided to make them available. This post at Robot 6 leading back to a Bleeding Cool post gets you to what was uncovered: that DC's digital partner Comixology did release some copies of the book early, but that the pirated copies came from a physical comic book. I would imagine the latter scenario is more of a relief than a hiccup at Comixology would have been.
 
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Go, Look: Lizz Hickey's True Romance Comics

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5
 
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Washington Post Writers Group To Syndicate Mike Lester

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This piece on WPWG picking up Mike Lester seems a pretty straight-forward, announcement-style publishing story, but I think it's worth noting because a) the Washington Post Writers Group has a really small roster, b) my impression is that Lester is one of the stronger conservative editorial cartooning voices currently working, and c) the Rome News-Tribune where Lester is headquartered is, as the article points out, one of the smallest newspapers to have an editorial cartoonist of any time, let alone one that of a stature that wins national awards and is attractive to the syndicates.
 
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Whoa, Look At This Dave Lasky Carter Family Page

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Go, Read: As'ad Abu Khalil On Ali Ferzat

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Ethan Heitner passed along this link to a sensitive portrait of the work of recently assaulted Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat by the Lebanese cultural critic As'ad Abu Khalil. Abu Khalil also makes a case for the importance of the assault in the broader story of the Syrian uprising.

The post reminds me that one thing about Ferzat's site worth bookmarking and visiting at some point is the massive cartoon gallery.
 
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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 New York City, I'd Go To This

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

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OTBP: The First In Line


more information here and here
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Noah Berlatsky publishes interview work product from a recent article on the effect that the closure of Borders will have on manga.

image* I think Kieron Gillen will do a good job on the X-Men books he's writing, but it's odd to think of Wolverine as a protector of children given that one of the more popular ways to present the character over the years has been in partnership with a teenage girl.

* not comics: shelf porn, the real-world crossover.

* sounds like Charles Hatfield had a nice summer vacation.

* wearing a "V For Vendetta mask" serves the man, it doesn't fight the man.

* there are a few interesting posts and comments regarding DC's New 52 out there. Shannon Smith points out that the biggest-selling comic of all time, best known for its variant covers and insane speculation aspects, did have a ton of pages and featured a lot more things happening plot-wise than in the decompressed, standard-sized Justice League #1. Johanna Draper Carlson talks about the goals driving the relaunch here, while industry veteran KC Carlson has a piece on relaunch issues generally here and Justice League #1 specifically here. That pair comes at superhero comics from what I perceive to be a slightly more involved place than I do, so I appreciate that pair of perspectives. Ditto that of longtime fan Brian Hibbs on the closure of the former DC Universe. This post by John Jackson Miller would seem to be the place to start to get a general idea of what's going on in the market in a broad sense that led to these moves by DC. The writer Marv Wolfman ropes in the "Silver Age" changes and updates as another linewide revamp, which puts the mechanism at a once-every-25-years frequency. Of all the high-fives that DC gave itself on their blog on the day the relaunch took place, the one to take a second look at is from Hank Kanalz.

* Sebastian Bach may have lost his home to Hurricane Irene, but he saved his comic books.

* not comics: Drew Friedman draws his dad: the novelist, playwright and former Martin Goodman employee Bruce Jay Friedman.

* I hadn't yet seen this review of Duncan The Wonder Dog.

* not comics: funnybook stores 1, Department of Homeland Security 0.

* "I have never drawn Peanuts for children."

* sometimes a link will stick around my leftovers file long enough I totally forget its context or why I bookmarked it, but this photo gallery called "Drawing Hats At The Philbrook Museum" might be more entertaining with no context and no explanation.

* here's a long piece on the contributions of Lee and Kirby to the comics they made together.

* a great letter received by cartoonist Mark Parisi.

* the writer Tony Bedard has mixed feelings about the revival of two Crossgen titles he wrote. I remember liking the freewheeling nature of Bedard's work at Crossgen.

* finally, Caitlin McGurk talks to fellow librarians about acquiring graphic novels for their collections.
 
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Happy 29th Birthday, Colleen Frakes!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Eric Knisley!

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Wide Range Of Art To Benefit Sparkplug's Dylan Williams

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The Divine Invasion site continues to feature a number of art pieces that are being auctioned for the benefit of Sparkplug Comic Books' Dylan Williams, who's currently fighting cancer and facing steep hospital bills. I hope you'll consider bidding -- there are some really nice pieces in there, including a Laika page by Nick Abadzis.
 
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September 1, 2011


WonderCon Chooses Anaheim For March 16-18 Show In 2012; Plans To Negotiate For Return To SF In 2013

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Two things of interest. The press release, which you can read in a word document here --

wondercontoanaheim.doc

-- does not mention anything about years past 2012 for either the Moscone Center in the traditional San Francisco setting or for Anaheim. Also, Wizard and C2E2 have agreed to adjust dates on their Anaheim and Chicago shows to make room for WonderCon. This explains why the dates for C2E2 appeared on the McCormick Place site but not from Reed itself. Considering the lack of listing of weekend events at the Chicago lakeside venue on other Spring 2012 weekends, they should be able to find dates reasonably well.

I think this is too bad, as San Francisco is a beautiful setting for a show with a great mix of shops and plenty of things to do off site. I hope the show goes back there, because I think in a Bay Area setting the show will only grow in appeal over the next half-dozen years. On the other hand, Anaheim is Anaheim, and movie studio support at what always seemed to me a perfect time to provide hype to summer movies could give the show some juice that way. Plus you can't have a show if you don't have a proper venue, and the Moscone Center seemed to not only have the structural problem of doing repairs when WonderCon needed dates, it didn't seem to move quickly enough to provide options.

Update: Reed has announced April 13-15 for its 2012 C2E2 show in Chicago.

Update #2 I spoke briefly to David Glanzer of Comic-Con about the decision. He answered the biggest question asked by the press release's phrasing in the affirmative for the Bay Area home of the long-running show. "We will continue to try to book dates at Moscone in San Francisco for 2013." Glanzer said there was no time table for that announcement. "It is typically a long process so I would imagine as soon as we have something to report we will announce. Obviously the longer lead time we can have the better for exhibitors and attendees to plan their schedules." I take that to mean they do not hope for a repeat of this year's extended period before a firm announcement forced up on the organizers by the Moscone Center refurbishment.

Asked what finally came into play to make this decision at this time, Glanzer responded, "Several factors came in to play on our announcement. The first being whether or not we were all in agreement on how to move forward. That is to say making a decision on whether to have a show in 2012 or sitting one year out. And that process really did take some time. In the end we decided it would be better to keep the show on the comics calendar and hope that people will attend even though it's in a different city." He added, "San Francisco really is home to WonderCon and the fan support has been so tremendous that while the show will move for 2012, we hope to have some sort of fan event or events in the Bay Area next year."
 
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Dan Clowes Wins Pen Center USA Graphic Literature Award

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From my understanding Daniel Clowes' win in the Graphic Literature category of the Pen Center USA literary festival awards, for his body of work, was announced today along with several other winners. A ceremony will take place in November. Clowes will receive a $1000 cash prize.
 
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A Few Day-After Thoughts On DC's New 52 And Digital Strategy

imageKudos to Dave Itzkoff at the New York Times for not doing in his article yesterday what most news organizations have done with the DC Comics' re-launch: become a promotional arm for the company. This is doubly commendable because the Times has been accused in the past -- with reason -- of publishing a constant stream of PR-assisted "news" stories about that publisher. It's not that I'm against feel-good stories. There is a feature-y side to DC's re-launch for sure. To cover only that side does everyone a disservice. This is a major publishing news story. So I was really happy to see Itzkoff at least bring up the specter of re-launch exhaustion as a significant part of his piece.

Itzkoff's article isn't wholly negative. I don't think it necessarily should have been. In fact, I'd say there are several positive aspects to what DC has done with their re-launch thus far.

I think DC's publicity campaign rounded into shape the closer they go to yesterday's launch date. It's to DC's credit -- not its detriment -- that they've roped in so many publications, news organizations and individuals to write soft pieces on the re-launch. I also think most of their recent run of messaging has been effective. I don't buy the "we had to do something" take of recent vintage for a minute, but I understand the strategic benefit: saying so casts DC in a light that contrasts them against Marvel in a way that's hard for the House Of Ideas to muster a response beyond gritting their teeth and waiting for the next, inevitable opening. DC additionally hoodwinked a lot of people into portraying their re-launch as a reboot of material from the 1930s instead of what it really is: a reset from the mid-1980s soft re-launch, buttressed by mini-recalibrations between then and now. In fact, the only DC messaging that's rung totally false to me is the "we don't care about market share" idea that's seeping through in a few statements made in various places. This seems absurd to me as they're launching 52 titles instead of 13. Overall, though, that's a pretty good hit-to-miss ratio. As mentioned before, they've also managed to reach reasonably wide with this latter phase of the ramp-up. The initial announcement for a time there seemed to distribute all pertinent news from one of their ungainly blogs.

A second positive for DC is that their initial penetration in terms of sales and attention within existing comics stores has been relatively successful. This is despite any and all caveats -- which definitely should be made -- about DC offering returnable books, the numbers compared to previous years and efforts (they're not great), and any and all incentives to help make those sales numbers happen. Solid to spectacular (for 2011) sales on top titles were not guaranteed here. One title over 200K and six over 100K given what's at stake isn't worth any of the giddy writing we've seen on the subject, but it should be noted. Those of us that have been sourpusses about the whole thing have an extra obligation to recognize that the initial orders were way better than it's feared they could have been. Combined with DC's gentle guidance of event coordination in New York City and across the country, I imagine a lot of retailers did very well Wednesday night and will do well through this weekend. While I strongly believe that a few great months aren't as necessary right now as a string of good years, a few great months -- hell, one great weekend -- will likely be a godsend to a lot of these businesses considering how poorly the industry has performed over the last several months.

I'm also encouraged by the idea that greater line-wide discipline -- or attempts at same -- are planned as part of the new era. I don't know if they'll be able to do it. They have some notorious flakes on key books, and other books have gone to largely untested talent. But I like that they're trying. Knowing when something is going to come out and having a reasonable expectation that a publisher will hit those marks, this is something that aids retailers and readers. It helps retailers in helping them avoid unbalanced weeks where there's either too much or too little product in a focused area (Batman books, say) dropped onto the stands. It also should allow some of the savvier retailers to micro-adjust their emphases towards certain sales on certain weeks. Greater discipline assists readers in that they can count on books of a certain type being in the store, as opposed to visiting a store thinking an issue is coming out and having to leave disappointed. The plan also could make Diamond more responsible for delivering material on time, because the digital availability will make a lie of something mysteriously not being out. I think those things are a subtle psychological trigger, but a powerful one for consumers. Look how many alt-comics fans stopped going to the stores once they figured out there weren't all that many alternative comic books coming out anymore. For a business that depends on habitual exposure and perpetual impulse buying, the companies have sure been sloppy about the ways to best maintain those relationships. This would seem to me a rational step towards fixing that, if they can pull it off.

A few aspects to the re-launch initially perceived as negatives might have turned into positives or become so as things get underway. The timing of the move has been in question since the start, and there are still some big issues there, but at the end of the movie summer and before the start of the NFL season a line-wide re-launch is probably going to do better in terms of media exposure than at other times of the year. And while I don't think DC used this convention season particularly well, and a lot of their panels continued to come across as hostile and/or weird, having the bulk of the summer convention season to promote the re-launch logically seems like it would be a more effective use of that time than if it had been employed to get people excited about a bunch of issues #3.

That the DM side of things has gone well thus far has diverted a lot of attention away from the digital aspects of the re-launch. I didn't totally expect this. Itzkoff's Times story, as an example, mentions digital about three graphs from story's end. Other coverage is also burying this aspect a bit in favor of rapt wonder over the event buzz and the new number ones. But you know what? I'm not sure that DC is ready for a full-court press on digital issues, regular scrutiny as to how that side of the business is doing, what it's doing well and what it's not. I think the relative success on the DM side may be a good thing for the publisher in that it allows DC some time to shape a response to initial on-line sales figures in a way that could extend their re-launch story several weeks, if not months, and allow some guidance and adjustments along the way. When you're killing it in the comics stores, and the bulk of the coverage depends on capturing the move as some sort of "event," doing well in the digital realm becomes a bonus rather than an immediate necessity.

I'm even kind of warming up to certain aspects of keeping the price point on digital where it is, and for placing the vast majority of the emphasis on digital copies of new work. I mean, I wish someone would ask DC more directly about this, and really press them for an answer, but absent that I'm beginning to see some semblance of wisdom there -- if only the accidental kind. While whether or not a prohibitive price point keeps the entire endeavor from gaining the traction it should remains a crucial issue (if not the crucial issue), there might be -- might be -- something to be said for the ability to work a variety of sales promotions via a reduced pricing strategy aimed at certain comics, particularly if you tie that kind of incentive into more significant purchases like subscriptions or clustered buying. In other words, there's no guarantee that a lot of people were going to come on board at 99 cents, so an alternate strategy might be to rope in the hardcore readers who want material at full price or near it, supplemented by more people that could be enticed into certain kinds of perceived bargain shopping including 99-cent downloads. This basic price point also might allow DC to stay where they are instead of running into problems boosting the price in a few years after everyone has become accustomed to 99-cent comics -- no one does consumer entitlement like a comics fan.

The focus on brand-new digital comics for now gives DC (and Marvel, too, really) the ultimate "sixth man" sitting on their bench, just waiting to come into the game and dunk on everybody, shattering backboards and setting people's hair on fire: a massive back-issues library, which could be discounted severely and made a part of incentive plans. That is one hell of a thing to have in reserve, and DC is smart to treat it thus far as a commodity with value rather than shoving it on-line for free and hoping for some of that sweet, long-tail action.

Now, all that said, I still have significant concerns about the re-launch in general, concerns that I think dwarf the positives. Most of those concerns are about execution. I think there are general, justified fears concerning the execution of this project long-term. And now that the conceptual period is past, and the comics are actually coming out, this re-launch is now almost entirely about execution.

imageSome of my concerns have already been placed on the table. I think the cock-up in offering retailers a digital deal many of them rejected too late to have them onboard for the re-launch is a distressing sign. Moreover, I worry that DC simply doesn't have the talent roster to pull off 52 series developing in successful fashion from 52 #1 issues. I wonder whether the leadership team of Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns are the people able to provide the necessary leadership to reach all of the expressed goals of the re-launch. While they are veteran DC comics makers/editors, a big part of the re-launch is apparently about breaking with the past. Reading the two comic books that came out yesterday was fascinating in this regard. As pointed out by more astute readers of superhero comics than I am, Flashpoint was not only a sprawling, messy, slightly barbaric, fan-fiction like, dumb-assed death orgy on a lot of levels, there were basic failures of logic in the crucial fifth issue ("You caused the timeline to shift!" "How did I do all this exactly?" "Shut up. You did it! Feel bad!") of the kind that tends to bother fans when it becomes ingrained in storytelling choices. Worse, the transitional portion of the comic felt as grafted on as a musical number folded into the last 20 minutes of Schindler's List. Justice League #1 was clear in a talking-very-slow kind of way, and had pretty art and (especially) coloring, but somehow managed to a) be the debut of a new superteam that didn't feature the new superteam, b) feel like it took 90 seconds to read, c) have one female character with a speaking part (one line) and d) feature dialogue that at times felt like it was translated into a foreign language and back again.

If these comics are to break cleanly with the past, we have yet to see it in anything previewed or published beyond some surface-oriented stylistic elements. The juice of "this is how things are different than your memory of them" lasts only so long under the best of circumstances; considering the multiple times this trigger has been activated, fans likely have less patience with it than ever, and new readers won't care. Given that the bulk of the creative people involved are sturdy veterans of the field or younger creators that started their mainstream comics careers with DC, I don't know how hopeful we can be that there's really anything different in what's going to be sold. One thing that's fascinating about the rhetoric that's driven the re-launch is that the past has been disparaged as either hopeless or out of date, without anything close to a real reckoning that it's mainstream companies like DC that bear the blame for how their particular nest has been fouled. Deciding to do no harm isn't a switch one throws; it's a long process of getting at the problems and making tough changes, and even then not everyone can do it.

While I can't gauge how honest DC is being with itself, many people have some serious doubts how honest they've been with the public and press. The seemingly rushed and altered-nature feel of the ending of Flashpoint, the unexplained gap between the plan's supposed starting date and DC bringing in their #1 or #1A writer onto one of their flagship books (October to March) and delays in putting creative teams together generally, the lack of a top-line licensed property from the Warner end of things to give the project some additional outside-the-comics-shop oomph, the abrupt endings in a number of the books with plot points left unresolved, the cacophonous rumor-mongering about the veracity of specific stories offered the press, the limited spectrum of creators involved and the chaotic nature of some of the planning leading up to the re-launch, all of this suggests to many folks who've written into CR that there must be some sort of ultimatum on file -- despite no mention of this from DC, and protests to the contrary in terms of this being solely a publishing initiative.

While I'm sympathetic to the idea that maybe there's something we haven't been told, I personally don't believe that a hard ultimatum is necessarily in play. I think if 1/10 of what is out there about the mood at DC is true, someone would have leaked this. I further believe that it's perfectly within how I understand DC to function that these kinds of decisions might happen as a matter of course, up to and including an arbitrary deadline adhered to as if it were placed upon the company from on high with the oldest child of every staff person at risk if it were missed. Basically, though, while I have no idea which story might be true to what extent, neither version has flattering implications.

The run of potential complications with the re-launch seems endless. I don't know how you can look at the fact that scans of yesterday's issues were being offered by pirates hours ahead of their debut and not be alarmed by the implications for DC in trying to get their downloads business off the ground at a relatively exorbitant price point. It's slightly distressing for a company with DC's historic difficulties in treating talent that greater emphasis was placed on the editors behind this project than on any creators that aren't also executives. A September launch means the second arc and a natural, potential reader's exhaustion sets in during the harsh winter months, a terrible time for a potential dip. I still don't know how 52 new #1 comics are going to breathe in a comic shop environment better for being released in the same month than if they had been staggered out over a year. Their children's and Vertigo books seem to be slightly dying on the vine for lack of attention relative to the superhero books, and there doesn't seem to be any real reason for that, either. The number of old-time fans saying "Well, that's it for me" would seem to be cause for concern. The whole issue of whether or not downloadable comics represent the best format choice for digital comics in the first place seems to have never been raised.

I'd say I hope DC succeeds, but to be honest I'm not invested in their success. It's mostly that I don't want to see them fail. I fear the collateral damage, and a lot of nice people work for DC or count on work the publisher produces. The best outcome to my mind is that the high level on Direct Market initial orders for certain books allows for a significant reduction in orders over time but remain relatively high at least for a year, that digital uses its first few months of day-and-date and the rush of new readers just happy to have comics available this way to work out a variety of strategies to sell to all sorts of audiences on a regular basis, that some of the young guns DC employs end up as prolific and powerful as the British writer-led class of the 1980s, that the move to digital causes a matter-of-fact turn to embrace the digital market by all sorts of players, and that somehow the re-launch gives DC the room they need to seek more direct solutions for the structural problems comics still faces, all of which involve more complex issues than which superhero is wearing what kind of pants and how much pizza is doled out to hungry comics fans in line.

*****

* a Frankenstein cover, a comic I might check out at some point down the road
* Dan DiDio
* pencils and inks from a splash page to Justice League #2 (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Read: Kipp Friedman's Comic Book Fever

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if nothing else, you'll now know where you're going when you get that time machine finished
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* this weekend is Dragon*Con, a science fiction and fantasy convention with a devoted following and a significant although not overwhelming comics presence. It also has a reputation, and I don't know how true this is having never been, of being a very social convention. Ralph Bakshi will be a guest at this year's show, and giving out awards at their film festival. Comics guests will include Mike Grell, Peter David, Stan Lee, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bernie Wrightson and Jim Steranko.

* Fantagraphics and Fantagraphics-related cartoonists will have their usual presence at Seattle's Labor Day weekend tradition: the long-running, Bumbershoot festival.

* I had a couple of people write in about last weekend's Toronto Fan Expo to say the show decided not to honor press passes for the Saturday of the event, which strikes me as awfully odd and a reason to never plan my weekend around the Toronto Fan Expo, even though Koyama Press was there as probably were many other folks in whom I'd be interested.

* the Baltimore Comic-Con announced its costume contest winners. People surely do love the costumes.

* here's a sharply-produced video made at the Philly Alternative Comic-Con.

* Alan David Doane warns you off of the Adirondack ComicFest in favor of the Albany Comic Con.

* Craig Thompson will debut his Habibi at SPX in a way that benefits the CBLDF.

* Metaphrog contributed an article about their experiences at the comics-savvy Edinburgh International Book Festival for the Guardian. Sarah McIntyre made a cartoon and had several photos taken in Dave Lasky-approved hats.

* Brett Warnock shows off the designs for the next generation of Top Shelf convention banners.

* finally, I totally missed this spiffy-looking Jim Rugg SPX program cover.

*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 11:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: My Home Was A Suburban Nightmare

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It's September First: Someone Out There Must Be Enraged At A College Student-Drawn Editorial Cartoon

Until then, here's the back story on an apology made by a Swarthmore cartoonist late last year. Apparently someone took the word "survivor" to automatically mean "rape survivor," which is the sort of automatic leap of logic that probably makes slightly more sense when you're a college student. Anyway, it's a bit more rationally explored in that think piece than what you'll find right after a cartoon sets someone off. The last few years of student cartooning have been stuffed with stories like this one, although most of them tend to fall in the "what the hell were they thinking?" camp.
 
posted 11:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Chester Gould!

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posted 11:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Longish Mike Diana Interview

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I may have missed this Mike Diana interview or it may be really new, I can't tell. I also can't quite figure out if it's just been a long time since I read an interview with the only cartoonist out there once sentenced to stop drawing, or if there really were a lot of stuff in the piece about which I had little to no idea. In this anniversary year for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, revisiting the events of one of their most famous trials with the man they were defending sounds like a fine idea -- if you're reading this somewhere where people might not understand all of the giant, stabbed penises appearing over your shoulder, you might want to delay your perusal or disable the images. I haven't read a Mike Diana comic in years, but I was always astonished how quickly free-speech defenders were to state they didn't like it. I thought Superfly in particular was a pretty good comic, and would certainly think about buying the collected Boiled Angel Diana talks about in the interview.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Strangely-Colored, Lurid-Looking Ellery Queen Comic

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Gina Gagliano shares a Sara Varon recipe for Sugared Flowers.

image* one of the great things about the major newspaper comics collection projects is that you look at a new volume, like this one in the Prince Valiant series, and you realize there is volume after volume of high-quality work to come.

* the always-interesting artist Ladronn draws the Incredible Hulk.

* if you have several minutes of free time today, like a coffee break, and you haven't tried Ryan Holmberg's manga column at TCJ yet, this installment is a fine entry point for its discussion of the industry's reaction to this year's major earthquake in Japan.

* Ty Templeton wishes R. Crumb a happy birthday.

* I guess bloody covers sell now?

* not comics: Alison Bechdel, maybe the one cartoonist most frequently linked to the state of Vermont, talks about the process of finding out exactly what happened to her region during the recent floods.

* Mark Evanier talks at some length about Chase Craig.

* Michael Cavna picks his favorites of the "visual responses" to the Ali Ferzat beating.

* not comics: I like that at 16 years old, George RR Martin was calling himself George RR Martin.

* I could totally believe this.

* CBR talks to the amazing Jaime Hernandez. Too Much To Dream engages Jim Woodring. NPR chats up Jim Lee. The Long And The Shortbox Of It! takes some time with Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett. TCJ Talkies has words with Tom Kaczysnki. AV Club Philadelphia spends a few moments with James Kochalka. Accidentally Pineapple assures us that Diana Tamblyn is both cheerful and slim.

* here's a Malinky Robot review round-up. Greg McElhatton dissects Americus. Rob Clough wrestles with Indestructible Universe Quarterly #6-7.

* finally, I had no idea there was a Hooked On Comix 3. I might have failed a test on Hooked On Comix 2.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Landry Walker!

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