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

















October 31, 2011


CR Holiday Interview: Sarah Morean

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this interview has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Margot's Room Concludes With Fifth Installment

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click on the blood
 
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Don't Forget The Last Day Of CBLDF's Be Counted Drive

Today is the last day of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's "Be Counted" membership and fundraising drive, designed to raise much-needed funds for immediate cases and concerns facing the long-standing, much-respected comics organization.

In this morning's press release they claim to be about $23,000 short. One nice thing about a fundraising drive like this one is that there's no threshold that needs to be met for the money you pledge to do good. In fact, if the Fund ends up not meeting the $100K mark, your donation will be that much more valuable in terms of their meeting the goals they're able to with the money they have.

Please consider a membership or some other form of cash donation today.
 
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Go, Look: Illustrations For The New Ghost Stories Book

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Not Comics: Robert Kirkman On The View This Morning

I liked writing that headline. Although the Comics Journal editor in me definitely thought upon first reading about the Walking Dead creator being on the inexplicably popular daytime talk show that it's a shame that this will likely get more play from many comics and cartooning sites -- including a couple that should know better -- than Ali Ferzat winning the Sakharov Prize, and the creator of the TCJ message board in me then thought it might be worth mentioning that of course it's the TV show for which he's on and not really his comics writing, the non-jerky parts of me are happy for Kirkman's success however it finds public display. He's forged his own career path counter to the way most careers are made in comics writing these days, I frequently hear stories from comics fans about nice things he's done for them, and I've enjoyed a lot of his work. Besides, Whoopi Goldberg once wrote a pretty good Complete Peanuts introduction, so it's not like he's going in there cold, plus I'm pretty sure the only way to kill Elisabeth Hasselbeck is also a clean head shot.
 
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Go, Look: Dr. Gruesome's Gallery Of Ghouls

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Always A Treat: Gary Groth Talks To Robert Crumb

The Comics Journal has a Gary Groth discussion with Robert Crumb posted, using as a springboard the cartoonist's decision not to go to Australia to a show after being criticized by a broadsheet. You basically get what their Q&A in Australia would have been like, which includes about a dozen great questions Groth solicited from cartoonists.
 
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Go, Look: Gil Kane Marvel Horror Covers

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Go, Look: WWIII Made Banners For OWS For Halloween Parade

The Village Halloween Parade is one of the biggest parades of any type in the USA. The organizers asked the Occupy Wall Street protesters to participate. To that end, the talented graphics makers that contribute to World War III Illustrated made banners for those folks to carry. The very visually appealing results can be found here.
 
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Go, Look: Gene Colan Dracula Gallery

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Go, Look: A 1962 Issue Of Twilight Zone

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Jason Quest notes on a Bleeding Cool message board site the suicide-related passing of German writer Jens Altmann. Altmann was a frequent contributor to several social sites and platforms related to comics, and was the author or co-creator of the comics works Yesterday's Heroes, Scoop, Cyborg Assault Hamsters, Berserker: The Wild Hunt and Made of Fail. He was also a translator of various works.

image* go, look: Tom Scioli draws The Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants. I always like the act of self-selection involved with that name. Plus you can never go wrong drawing Mastermind because any details you get wrong that's just Mastermind doing an illusion of that thing.

* how Nipper took Addis Ababa.

* not comics: Joe Field digs up an old proposal for a syndicated radio program on comics.

* Shaenon Garrity on Basara. Tony Isabella on more DC New 52 comics. Rob Clough on the journalism comics of Josh Kramer. Greg McElhatton on Celluloid. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Holy Terror. KC Carlson on The Simon And Kirby Library: Crime. Michael Buntag on Brilliant #1.

* not comics: Ryan Sands is gauging interest in a Same Hat t-shirt.

* Bill Baker talks to Eric Berlatsky. Robin McConnell talks to Tom Neely. Michael Cavna talks to Bob Mankoff. Blake Eskin talks to Mark Alan Stamaty. Dave Richards talks to Matt Fraction.

* not comics: I used to participate in these frequent discussions on the role of a comics critic, but at some point I just started thinking that writing about comics is pretty much the same about any other writing. I would imagine that applies to writing about writing about comics, too.

* I keep on reading that there's a Green Lantern-related comic book out there starring a group that pukes blood on things, but it hasn't quite registered with me as something that actually exists.

* not comics: how The Joy Of Sex was illustrated.

* Martin Wisse writes about a reader's suggestion that Love & Rockets is the kind of book you hand people to get them to read comics, which soon moves into that thing I never understand about how the series lacks a natural jumping-on point. I'm beginning to wonder if the old way of encountering TV shows and comics right in the middle of their narratives and then working one's way backward or not depending if it's interesting or not has all but gone away. It could be the stumble-upon approach was simply the default method of those that grew up without access to DVD series season collections and comics trades.

* not comics: Dan Nadel takes a quick peek into Brian Chippendale's studio.

* D+Q posts another one of those photos-and-wisecracks reports, this time on the Dan Clowes and Seth tour's Montreal appearance and their visit to the office. You know, that is a handsome office.

* not comics: hello... hello!... HELLO!... oh no.

* I love Brett Warnock's catch-all blog posts.

* shopping for comics with Austin English looks like fun.

* finally, Chris Eliopoulos dispenses advice on how to stay in the comics industry once you get in. (thx, Matthew Badham)
 
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October 30, 2011


Go, Look: Massive Jeff Jones Art Site With High-Res Scans

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thx, Scott Dunbier
 
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Go, Bookmark: Corto Maltumblr

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Go, Look: Adventures In Depression

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thx, Matthew Badham
 
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Go, Look: Food Fight

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Go, Look: Sleep Deprived

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Please Remember That It's Women Of Wonder Day 2011

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

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

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If I Were Near Long Beach, I'd Go To This

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FFF Results Post #273 -- Serial Comics

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Current Comics You Like That Are Published In Serial Format." This is how they responded.

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John Vest

1. Ditko Act series
2. Mineshaft
3. Glamourpuss
4. Roy Thomas' Conan: Road Of Kings
5. Ditkomania

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Sulk
2. The Walking Dead
3. IZombie
4. Sergio Aragonés Funnies
5. B.P.R.D.

*****

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Eric Newsom

1. Weird World of Jack Staff
2. Casanova
3. Ganges
4. BPRD
5. Snarked

*****

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Dave Knott

* Orc Stain
* Jack Staff
* Reich
* Sergio Aragonés Funnies
* Journey Into Mystery

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Retrofit Comics
2. Papercutter
3. Multiple Warheads (very soon!)
4. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century
5. Nonplayer (hey... I can wait)

*****

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Alan Doane

1. Star Trek (IDW ongoing)
2. Avengers Academy
3. Criminal
4. Faith and Angel
5. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

*****

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Chuck Forsman

1. Phase 7
2. Blammo
3. Heeby Jeeby
4. Crickets
5. The Natural World

*****

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M. Emery

1. Uptight
2. Sergio Aragonés Funnies
3. Ditko Act Series
4. Digested
5. Walking Dead

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold
2) Tiny Titans
3) Life With Archie (For $3.99 for a magazine with at least two full length comics, penny for penny, it might be the best value in comics.)
4) Rasl
5) Rashy Rabbit

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Glamourpuss
2. Sergio Aragones Funnies
3. Roger Langridge's Snarked
4. Tales Designed To Thrizzle
5. Cerebus Archive

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. 2000 AD
2. Age of Bronze
3. Ganges
4. Journey Into Mystery
5. Papercutter

*****

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Gavin Lees

1. Tales Designed to Thrizzle
2. Night Business
3. Snarked!
4. The Unwritten
5. Hemlock

*****

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Sean T. Collins

* Jumbly Junkery
* Lose
* Snake Oil
* Love and Rockets: New Stories
* The Acme Novelty Library

*****

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Scott Cederlund

* The Sixth Gun
* Wonder Woman
* Avengers 1959
* Casanova
* American Vampire

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Casanova
2. Scalped
3. Avengers Academy
4. Usagi Yojimbo
5. Fables

*****

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Derik A. Badman

1. Glamourpuss by Dave Sim
2. Reich by Elijah Brubaker
3. Ganges by Kevin Huizenga
4. Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia
5. House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Morning Glories
2. Avengers Academy
3. Thunderbolts
4. Criminal
5. 20th Century Boys

*****

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John R. Platt

1. Usagi Yojimbo
2. BPRD
3. Jack Staff
4. Rasl
5. Sergio Aragonés Funnies

*****

topic suggested by John Vest; thanks, John

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


Not Comics: Paul Williams Sings "The Hell Of It" On The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Meet Dracula


Trina Robbins At The Fantagraphics Store Talking Nell Brinkley
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Bully! Book Trailer


Local News Coverage Of Mid-Ohio Con


The Greatest American Comic Books


Assuming It's Still Up, Snake 'N' Bacon Cartoon Pilot


A 1988 Lynda Barry Appearance On Letterman That Was Making The Rounds


The Great Al Jaffee


Scott Chantler On Two Generals
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October 29, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from October 22 to October 28, 2011:

1. Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat wins the Sakharov Prize given out by the European Parliament, along with four other prominent members of the Arab Spring protests. Ferzat makes his first press statement in several weeks, dedicating his win to martyrs of freedom. Ferzat became an international news story when he was assaulted by pro-government thugs for his cartoons decrying action against Syrian protesters.

2. Attorney Marc Toberoff's attempt to strike a suit against him by Warner Bros. in the Siegel/Shuster matter fails, setting up a potentially damaging alternative storyline in addition the negative outcome that may come from the suit itself.

3. David Simpson was accused of plagiarizing an editorial cartoon, the second such time the cartoonist has been accused of that act (the first ended in his dismissal from his then-job).

Winner Of The Week
Ali Ferzat. I think that may be the most prestigious award any cartoonist has ever won.

Loser Of The Week
David Simpson.

Quote Of The Week
"In Barry's class, every writing exercise is a repeated ritual. At the beginning of each one, for example, students slowly draw a spiral on a sheet of paper. While everyone did that, Barry recited a poem. It's the same poem every time, by Rumi, and Barry recited it quickly, her head down, her fingers tented before her. 'You're in your body like a plant is solid in the ground,' she intoned, 'yet you're wind.'" -- a New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of Lynda Barry, writing teacher.

*****

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

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

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If I Were In Baton Rouge, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Near Long Beach, I'd Go To This

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Ralph Bakshi!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Nicola Cuti!

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October 28, 2011


Go, Look: Consumade

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thx, michel fiffe
 
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Ali Ferzat Dedicates Sakharov Prize To Martyrs Of Freedom

I'm grateful that a press organization was able to get in contact with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who was one of the members of the Arab Spring movement awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize yesterday morning. Ferzat penned a number of extremely strong cartoons criticizing the Syrian regime's crackdown on protesters, culminating in his being kidnapped and having his hands and arms assaulted by pro-government thugs. That August attack put the widely-respected cartoonist into the international spotlight and proved a huge, public black eye to the Syrian government -- despite their denials and claims they would be hunting down the perpetrators -- for its b-movie villain nature. My gratitude in someone reaching the cartoonist and Damascus gallery owner is that even though there have been statements from Ferzat through the cartoonist's web site, I'm not sure he had spoken to a third-party news source since right after the attack.
 
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Go, Look: Nick Abadzis' Chefs Of America

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Go, Read: Susie Cagle On Being Tear-Gassed At Occupy Oakland

Daily Cross Hatch is right on a development in cartoonist Susie Cagle's attempt to document the Occupy Oakland protests out in the Bay Area, talking to the cartoonist about being caught in a police action and posting her video of those moments. She's raising money for the project here, and hopefully this attention will push her over the desired amount.
 
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Not Comics: Barry Moser's 1984 Frankenstein Illustrations

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Please Keep The CBLDF In Mind As October Draws To A Close

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The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a bit further away from its $100,000 end-of-October goal than I think most of its fans would be comfortable admitting out loud as the last few days of that effort wind down. It's still possible they could make it, particularly if a few heavy-pocketed angels step up, but the nice thing about a CBLDF fundraiser is that there's never a "if we don't make it, all of it was useless" result. If anything, your contributions to a effort that's a bit underfunded becomes more important than being part of one that meets its goal and then some, because those dollars will have to work for dollars that aren't there. I always suggest membership if you can possibly afford it, although just sending them a donation of whatever amount of money is also a good thing and as this story at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com reminds us, their incentive packages for various groups can be strong.
 
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Go, Look: More Beautiful, Weird, Affecting Bill Everett Art

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Warner Brothers Suit Against Siegel-Shuster Attorney To Continue

imageThe Warner Brothers side of the ongoing tussle over the return of Superman-related rights to the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster won a victory in court when a motion to dismiss a 2010 suit brought against attorney Marc Toberoff was denied by US District Judge Otis Wright.

It's more complicated than can be neatly summarized, but basically Warner Brothers is claiming that Toberoff has entered into a deal with the families for part ownership of any rights they have terminated, which they feel should keep him from being the attorney in the legal hashing-out of those matters and I think even potentialy see him censured for interfering with negotiations between the corporation and the families that preceded the suit. It's a pretty serious charge -- legally it will either stick or not, but it potentially sets up a narrative where Marc Toberoff is seen as an impediment to the families receiving the fairest, best deal. For me a key is that these companies had years to set something up with the families, and I have a hard time believing from what the Siegel family has put out there that these negotiations were going terribly well before the possibility of lawsuits entered into the conversation. If you're one who sees the world entirely in terms of legal constructions and obligations, then I imagine this potential outcome will provide more fuel to the rhetorical fire than it might for those that think the families deserve something for the billions in profit their patriarchs' creations brought those companies.
 
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Go, Read: The Spook Tree

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Marvel Expands Free Digital Promotion In Spider-Man Title

imageThat Marvel is apparently expanding a free digital comic book offering through print copies of a $3.99 comic book Avenging Spider-Man to include issues beyond the first one in that series.

This is worth noting for a lot of reasons. One, there's still enough of a Wild West feel with digital comic book strategies from the mainstream publishers that any approach should cause us to at least raise an eyebrow in its direction. Two, if this is supposed to support $3.99 comic books, then that indicates Marvel is very much devoted to having $3.99 comic books. I think the prevalence of $3.99 comic books in the Marvel line has to be a contributing factor to some of the slight exhaustion that line evokes right now with fans -- which is saying something, as I firmly believe the true harm of that price rise is in customer attrition rather than individual choices by customers. Three, such a strategy suggests a focus on digital comics as something that provides throw-in value to the real business of making and selling print comics, whereas I think most publishers are coming around to seeing such comics as their own publishing opportunity. Four, Marvel is providing incentives to comic book stores whose customers identify where they purchased the book, which could be seen as a slight-to-severe overture in the realm of gathering customer information for future initiatives that could cut out the store entirely.

On the other hand, big fan of the Moloids.
 
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Go, Look: Roger Brand Comics Written By Bhob Stewart

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Keep The Women Of Wonder Event In Mind This Weekend

Comics Alliance has a succinct, art-stuffed and link-filled round-up on this weekend's three-city Women Of Wonder event, whereby various Wonder Woman images are put on sale to benefit charities that work with victims of domestic abuse. The reach of the event is a wide one, meaning one is able to bid on artwork from a wide variety of creators. Wonder Woman may be a problematic character in terms of sustaining a modern-style comic book in this particular market, but her iconic look really lends itself to this kind of effort.
 
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Go, Look: Some Vic Martin Cartoons

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Go, Read: Ryan Sands On The Passing Of Jerry Fellows

imageRyan Sands returned to the Same Hat blog this week with a fine post on the passing of manga/anime fandom pioneer Jerry Fellows. Fellows was part of a trio that made one of the first 'zine-style reactions to a Japanese comics and cartoon property. Sands does a fine job of tracing what Fellows did, why this is important, and what specifically fascinates him about people like Fellows.

One of the things I've found slightly unfortunate in comics is the reduction of careers and contributions to personal relationships, perhaps most frequently finding expression in the "I met that guy at a con in 1994 and he was nice" stand-ins for more considered appreciations of the careers of cartoonists and industry members that pop up everywhere when someone of note passes away. This can be a terribly difficult thing to negotiate, because there's a razor-thin line between wanting a different approach to our appraisal of lives and careers and denigrating in some way the people whose primary contributions were in the fan community, people that are not only sons and daughters and mentors and friends to people that might be reading but folks who did important things that are just a bit harder to track than more standard career accomplishments. I think Sands provides a model for a way to approach the life of this kind of contributor, and I was grateful for the chance to learn about him.
 
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If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Baton Rouge, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Fighting Yank #28

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to David Collier on his awards nomination for Chimo.

* if you only have time to read one article today, you could do much worse than this interview with Best American Comics series editors Matt Madden and Jessica Abel. If that doesn't interest you, maybe this TCJ roundtable on Habibi might? I might have linked to that one yesterday, actually, but I'm not even going to look it up -- it's worth mentioning again.

image* Drawn And Quarterly Associate Publisher Peggy Burns went to the comics conference in Iowa City and all we got is this admittedly really fun, photo-filled report.

* speaking of D+Q, this looks sort of like the meals that we used to have at Fantagraphics in the 1990s, except no one is crying.

* not comics: Ron Marz writes about Bernie Wrightson's Halloween parties.

* that's a nice monster design, especially for an era you couldn't go way out of bounds with a monster design.

* Ily Goyanes talks to Dan Clowes. Jennifer Vineyard talks to Dan Clowes. Dave Richards talks to Matt Fraction. Bill Kartalopoulos profiles John Porcellino. Simon Kuper profiles Hergé. Michel Fiffe talks to Paul Duncan and Phil Elliott.

* Ryan Cecil Smith on Warmers. Gavin Jasper on various new DC Comics. Sean Gaffney on Psyren Vol. 1. John Kane on some westerns. J. Caleb Mozzocco on comics he bought at the comic book store.

* DC may have won September, but they lost Scott Porter.

* vote early, vote often, vote for Louis Riel.

* Johanna Draper Carlson points out another maddening cancellation by Marvel, this time of an eight-issue mini-series at its fifth issue. I think they might have been way better off doing this series and that Thor one they cancelled as on-line comics leading up to the release of the respective Captain America and Thor movies, but they're really not set up to do much of anything right now other than make serial comic books. Frankly, I'm sort of generally confused by the overlapping Captain America series they've been doing recently -- some characters anchor their own comic, and that's about it.

image* Tom Neely posts his comic from the new issue of Pood.

* not comics: Evan Dorkin talks about Halloween and horror movies.

* not comics: Michael Cavna has a nice, short post up of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! ephemera.

* my apologies for forgetting who sent this to me, but Death Note won a recent manga poll for best of its type in the decade just past. Sounds good to me, I enjoy Death Note in pretty much all its forms. Speaking of manga -- which I do way too infrequently -- behold the Tower Of Clamp. Also, David P. Welsh discusses some of his favorite scary manga titles.

* people keep sending me links to this picture of Muhammad Ali reading a comic book about Muhammad Ali (and some other guy). I don't mind, though -- who wouldn't enjoy that picture?

* finally, Martin Wisse points to a piece by Colin Smith on the problems of having Dark Knight and Watchmen as the pantheon of serious superhero comics works to give to people. I never thought about this before, but those would be problematic works to hand out. Back in the day (1987-1993) when I was in the kind of social setting where people that didn't read comics would ask for or borrow comics they saw lying around, the only superhero comics that people liked or that I gave out were the comics that made up Batman: Year One -- which I imagine would be less impressive now for its feel being borrowed by the Nolan movies -- and Zot!, believe it or not (college-aged kids and the just graduated are ruthlessly nostalgic for their early teen years). If Flaming Carrot counts as a superhero comic, people liked that one, too. The two most popular comics overall were Yummy Fur #24 and The Big Book Of Hell.
 
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Happy 86th Birthday, Leonard Starr!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Jim Valentino!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Henrik Rehr!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Gary Hallgren!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Joel Meadows!

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October 27, 2011


Go, Look: Jim Woodring Relaunches Web Site

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Ali Ferzat Shares In Sakharov Prize With Four Others

imageAccording to stories this morning in the European press, the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat is one of five representatives of the Arab Spring movement to win the Sakharov Prize. That prize is awarded yearly to figures prominently fighting for freedom on the world stage.

Ferzat, a respected and widely honored cartoonist and particularly prominent in that part of the world, penned savage cartoons about the crackdown in Syria on protesters. This eventually led to an attempt by a group of thugs believed at the very least to have the tacit approval of the government to silence Ferzat by kidnapping and severely beating him, including a direct assault on the hands with which he draws. According to the occasional release from his web site, he's on the road to recovery.

The other people sharing in Ferzat's honor are the late Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, Egypt's Asmaa Mahfouz, Libya's Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi, and fellow Syrian Razan Zeitouneh. Bouazizi was the man who set himself on fire in mid-December 2010, sparking the first wave of protests.

Past winners of the prize include Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela.
 
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Go, Look: Tell-Tale Heart

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Go, Read: NY Times Magazine Profile Of Lynda Barry

There's a very fine and uplifting profile by Dan Kois of Lynda Barry in full writing seminar-giving mode at the New York Times site today, I would guess in anticipation of print publication over the weekend. The power Barry wields as a truth-teller and as someone who applies that truth to extremely troubling portions of people's lives is powerful even when reflected in the words of others.
 
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Go, Look: Patrick Dean's New Nightmares

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* there's some actual convention-related hard news this week. First, the third King Con has been delayed while organizers plan an overhaul. That was immediately forthcoming, so the late move is sure to draw some whistles. I hope everyone hears before they make the attempt to attend. Second, it was announced at Yaoi Con that Digital Manga will be running the next one, in LA.

* this weekend is London MCM Expo and its sizable Comic Village. I'm not going to lie to you and say I know most of those people, but Hunt Emerson's in there somewhere and that would get me out of bed and over to the convention center.

* last weekend was Wizard's Mid-Ohio show. Reaction varied. Panels on Pages ran an extensive interview with a pair of retailers that charges Wizard with a series of unpleasant tactics when it comes to getting folks to attend the show; you should read that there. Veteran comics writer and commentator Tony Isabella thought the show was very well-organized and gave it a positive review here.

* a couple of interviews worth noting: Lance Fensterman puts a bow on New York Comic Con at Graphic Novel Reporter. Indigo Kelleigh of Stumptown manned a booth at Wordstock and was interviewed about the growing regional show. He announces Stumptown's first three secured guests: Geof Darrow, Stan Sakai and Kurt Busiek.

* Matt Bors announces a comics journalism panel at SXSW.

* Erika Moen posts on her recent presentation at Pacific University.

* why Craig Thompson didn't do any signings in Paris.

* photos from the Halifax Zine Fair.

* not comics: this Eyeworks Festival Of Experimental Animation will offer up a significant number of works from cartoonists.

* finally, a quick note: the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund raised over $12K at the New York Comic Con.
 
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Go, Look: Warrior Shepherd

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Go, Look: Piracy Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* as of yesterday, the CBLDF has raised $61,500 towards its $100,000 October goal.

image* the writer David Brothers talks about marketing efforts that irritate and marketing efforts that are A-OK. He singles out the announcement of Fatale by Image as one of the good ones.

* the writer Graeme McMillan admits to some confusion over some of the latest PR spin from Marvel.

* Dan Zettwoch celebrates Shirtoberfest.

* David Maine on Marzi. Todd Klein on Adventure Comics #527-529. Greg Burgas on Torn!. Rob Clough on some CCS mini-comics. Grant Goggans on Indigo Prime: Everything And More. Greg McElhatton on Feynman. Chris Nuttall-Smith on The Drops Of God Vol. 1. Cory Doctorow on Red Light Properties. Sean T. Collins on Gangsta Rap Posse #2.

* Chris Mautner provides a measured appraisal of the New 52 initiative at DC Comics.

* this probably isn't funny and admitting this probably indicates I'm a something of a terrible person, but my first reaction to this was to laugh.

* go here if you want to see sex-swapped X-Men fan art. Although it occurs to me that if you really wanted to see that kind of thing, you probably already have.

* I'm still reloading this post in order to see any updates from Alan Gardner about accusations that David Simpson plagiarized again. We still have yet to hear from cartoonist or paper. The comments underneath that one are interesting. I've received two e-mails supporting the sentiment expressed by Mike Lester in his comment. I wasn't convinced by Lester's statement. We all do bad and unfortunate things, and my heart broke a little bit when I saw this story. Still, I think there's an obvious and crucial degree of difference between what Simpson does here -- barring a spectacular explanation, and I'd celebrate one -- and things like paying homage to a famous image or minor failures of decorum like misquoting a blog post or even tracing an image or two. This appears to be outright wholesale appropriation, with enough effort involved for it to be deliberate, for the (admittedly minor) gain that comes from passing off someone else's work as your own.

* I'm always about a month behind on these new, intermittent Perry Bible Fellowship cartoons. (thx to Michael Buntag)

* pondering the wisdom of Lobo.

* Kristy Valenti provides advice on how to conduct an interview with a comics creator. I would add 1) try not to directly insult the person that's going to be doing your transcribing, and 2) avoid asking Dave Sim how he feels about anything.

* urging fans not to seek reprisal with the company is a classy move from a recently-fired Marvel ex-employee, although it's hard for me to imagine that such a boycott would gain much traction.

* Liz Armstrong talks to Ron Regé Jr. Gilbert Cruz talks to Seth. Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner profile Brian Azzarello. Josie Campbell talks to Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Brian Truitt talks to Jason Aaron. Caleb Goellner talks to Jason Aaron.

* finally, even if you have no interest in an interview with Dean Mullaney and Kurtis Findlay on Chuck Jones: The Dream That Never Was, you should go look at all that pretty art.
 
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Happy 81st Birthday, Leo Baxendale!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Paul Hornschemeier!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Bernie Wrightson!

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October 26, 2011


Go, Look: Sunday Pictorial Review Covers By Bud Blake

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posted 1:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
David Simpson Accused Of Plagiarizing Jeff MacNelly Cartoon

imageAlan Gardner has a succinct and frankly devastating write-up on cartoonist David Simpson apparently copying a Jeff MacNelly cartoon to the point of tracing and re-drawing it for publication in the Urban Tulsa weekly publication. He includes a blended image that leaves very little doubt of the new cartoon's provenance. I'm not 100 percent certain how the copying was initially uncovered, although I was cc'ed a letter with attachments to the publication from a cartoonist calling attention to the act. Simpson was let go from the Tulsa World in 2005 for copying an earlier cartoon he said he thought was one of his own, an explanation that did not satisfy his then-employers. That was an extremely high-profile case, and it's unclear why Simpson would return to the same kind of action a half-dozen years later. This should be tracked as a story throughout the week, I'd imagine with statements from both the cartoonist and the newspaper, and perhaps some sort of penalizing action by the newspaper.
 
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Go, Look: Scaredcited

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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.

*****

JUN118167 MANARA LIBRARY HC VOL 01 $59.99
JUL110054 MANARA LIBRARY HC VOL 01 $59.99
This is a new reprint series of major works from Milo Manara, the Blake Edwards of the comics world, in fancy editions at a fancy price. This is two works: the teamed-with-Hugo-Pratt Indian Summer and a western I haven't seen The Paper Man. Manara's work doesn't do it for a lot of folks, and for others he's downright problematic. I imagine that this series will do pretty well, though. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two announced editions.

imageJUL111183 SMURFS GN VOL 08 SMURF APPRENTICE $5.99
JUL111184 SMURFS HC VOL 08 SMURF APPRENTICE $10.99
I do know the difference between these Smurf editions: one's in softcover, one's in hardcover. I'm not sure where I stand on Peyo's Smurf comics other than to be in slight awe at their continuing appeal to my friends' young children no matter the decade they dig into them, but these are nicely substantial little books for the price. Considering what some parents likely paid for that Sugar And Spike hardcover, I imagine picking up one of these at a deluxe-burger price will be a relief.

MAY110255 ABSOLUTE ALL STAR SUPERMAN HC NEW PTG $99.99
JUN111092 FRANK BOOK HC (NEW PTG) $45.00
JUN111093 FRANK BOOK SC $34.99
AUG110751 AFRODISIAC HC (O/A) (MR) $14.95
New printings of good books -- or their simply being offered again -- doesn't mean you have to buy them, but if you're a superhero fan you probably want some version of the All Star Superman material, if you're a fan of newer work and the 1970s you likely want a copy of the very clever Afrodisiac, and if you're a fan of any and all good things in life you definitely want the Frank work by the great cartoonist Jim Woodring in as many forms as you can pull it across the table and into your lap.

AUG110619 RED SKULL #4 (OF 5) $2.99
I'm thrilled to discover there's a Red Skull mini-series, as I enjoy any super-villain whose primary powers seem to be screaming and acting like a dick. No one invites the Skull into their villainy carpool, that's for sure.

AUG110611 SECRET AVENGERS #18 $3.99
This is the Warren Ellis/David Aja Shang Chi-focused issue that seemed to me like a fine idea when I saw it previewed a while back. It still seems like a pretty good idea, and I'll definitely look at one the next time I'm in a comics shop. I know I'm probably engaging in idle fantasy when I suggest that Karkas and The Reject could be major characters at a publisher like Marvel, but I'm not certain what would ever keep anyone from the embrace of a character that's essentially Bruce Lee playing the lead in a 1970s spy movie drawing heavily on the Sax Rohmer pulps.

JUL110903 POOD #4 (MR) $4.50
An honest-to-god alt-comics effort in a week that's somewhat lacking in them, this newspaper-formatted anthology features work this time out from Joe Staton of all people. That alone would get me to look at it.

AUG110629 SPIDER-MAN #19 $2.99
This issue features the first Marvel comics work of longtime industry blogger and occasional comics-maker Sean T. Collins. This is their Marvel Adventures kid- and new reader-friendly line, which they no longer indicate in solicitation, I suspect as a subtle attempt to break our spirit.

JUL110515 BUTCHER BAKER RIGHTEOUS MAKER #7 (MR) $2.99
AUG110547 WALKING DEAD #90 (MR) $2.99
Two sturdy selections from the Image pile -- Joe Casey's latest dip into madness (seriously, there was an issue about two or three back that featured more violence and male nudity than the entire of comic-shop funnybooks in the 1990s) and Robert Kirkman's latest effort to stretch out the soap opera elements of his post-apocalypse pulp story until what one assumes is a rush of terrifying action in and around issue #100.

AUG110653 WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #1 XREGG $3.99
AUG110276 SPACEMAN #1 (OF 9) (MR) $1.00
A pair of interesting #1 efforts from the mainstream publishers. The Wolverine comic is the latest in like 10,000 comics with Wolverine in the title but is more important as a new launching point for the X-Men. I think the X-Men books are pretty exhausted storywise, but a new standard launching point is about as close as the publisher will come to giving one of the books the chance to become the dominant one in the monthly spread of mutant titles. That's Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, I think. The Spaceman comic is the first of a nine-issue mini-series from Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, the team behind the long-running and substantially successful 100 Bullets. The Vertigo corner of DC Comics seems sort of tired right now, with a lot of series late in run or being shown the door, so this has to be a welcome boon to that line.

JUL111082 DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE BOX SET VOL 01 & 02 $49.99
JUL111081 DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE HC VOL 02 TREASURE ISLAND $29.99
These Floyd Gottfredson-created adventure strips following the early years of the now-neutered corporate icon are everything you want from a feature like this: exuberant, lovely-looking and a lot of fun.

AUG111274 YOTSUBA&! GN VOL 10 $11.99
I haven't caught onto the relaunch of this material, but I certainly enjoyed the first several volumes of this domestic comedy, one that tugs at the perceptions of a child without making it cloying.

*****

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: Margot's Room Offers Up Fourth Installment

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click on the wall
 
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Puthukkodi Kottuthodi Sankarankutty, 1921-2011

imagePuthukkodi Kottuthodi Sankarankutty, the Indian newspaper cartoonist known as Cartoonist Kutty during a long career, died in Madison, Wisconsin on October 22. He was 90 years old.

The cartoonist was born in Ottapalam and educated at that city's high school and later at Malabar Christian College. His first published work was for the humor publication Viswaroopam edited by the satirist MR Nair. That work saw publication in 1940.

Kutty received training from the cartoonist Kesava Shankara Pillai (Shankar), to whom he was introduced by a relative working in the imperial service. The young cartoonist used the exposure of working with Shankar -- then contributing work to the Hindustan Times -- over a six-month period to join the staff of the Jawaharlal Nehru's English-languge National Herald as a cartoonist. His first work for that publication appeared on January 15, 1941.

After a stint at the Herald that ended with that publication's suspension at the hand of the British India Government, Kutty moved to the Madras War Review in Madras from 1943 to 1945 and then the Free Press Journal in Bombay in 1945 to 1946. That year he returned to New Delhi to work for a paper planned by his mentor Shankar, and found freelance work for various publications including National Call and Amar Bharat. Shankar did launch a publication in 1948, a humor magazine rather than an evening newspaper, and Kutty joined that effort's solid cartooning staff. He then found work with the Indian News Chronicle through 1951.

In 1951, Kutty joined the Ananda Bazar group operating out of Calcutta. He worked for that group's publications for several decades, initially the English-language Hindustan Standard but also the Bengali-language daily Ananda Bazar Patrika. He was during the 1950s through the 1980s syndicated to publication including the Hindustan Times, the The Indian Express and Aaj Kaal. Although he did not speak the Bengali language, a great deal of his most significant work was done for publications in that language.

In recent years, the cartoonist was honored as a doyen of the Indian cartooning scene and of Indian journalism generally, one of the last of the classically-trained and traditional-practice newspaper cartoonists.

Kutty moved to the USA to be near family about a decade ago. He stopped cartooning in 2005 due to failing eyesight. Kutty wrote an English-language memoir, Years Of Laughter: Reminiscences Of A Cartoonist, released in 2009. He is survived by a wife, a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.
 
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Go, Look: Dope Rider

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Two Pieces Focus On Shonen Jump Move To Digital Publication

imageI think it's clear we can file the recent announcement that the mega-successful print effort Shonen Jump is being transformed into a digital-only publication in that folder where comics news stories go that are so big and odd that it's hard to parse exactly what they might mean in the long run -- like United abandoning syndication to Universal earlier this year. These are the kinds of stories that make you blink every so often and go, "Oh, yeah: that actually happened."

Here's two pieces that may begin to allow for greater understanding. Deb Aoki has a full write-up on the press conference where the move was announced and a follow-up interview with Viz Media's Senior Vice President and General Manager Alvin Lu with Shuisha Shonen Manga Group Deputy Director Sasaki Hishashi. The hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com has its own interview up with the pair.

I'm only just beginning to wrap my brain around this news, and to that end both interviews are extremely helpful and should be devoured in full. My initial fears remain the same ending that reading as when I jumped into them -- that while this move reflects a more strategized pursuit of a certain kind of customer, I'm not sure that its effect on the overall market for this material won't be drastically altered. I'm not 100 percent certain that Shonen Jump really worked in a way that makes it amenable to digital publication the way it benefited from being a publication with deep reach into a variety of markets otherwise not served by comics. At any rate, this is already one of the key moves of 2012, and one that bears watching in every incremental step.
 
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Go, Look: Mr. Vanoni

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Three Digital Notes: Marvel, Indy Efforts, B&N Criticized

* according to a post at Johanna Draper Carlson's Comics Worth Reading, Marvel has ended one of its exclusives in terms of digital content and a specific platform in a way that may make the publisher's content more generally available. My hunch is that the best way to see that one is as part of the inexorable march towards a standard work being made as widely available and on as many platforms as these publishers -- a standard that will be manipulated by publishers seeking temporary advantages and the like, but the general standard nonetheless.

* we're starting to see more independent comics work come to deals for various digital opportunities. Jackie Estrada sent out a press release this week that said five issues of Batton Lash's self-published Wolff & Byrd, Counselors Of The Macabre are now available for download to mobile digital devices through iVerse. That's work from 1994-1995. PW has a nice piece up here about an enhanced, supported and in-color (!) digital version of Eric Shanower's sprawling Age Of Bronze effort being made available on the occasion of this year's New York Comic-Con. I imagine these efforts will continue, just as I bet someone could find themselves a fruitful position working with some of the indy/alt major players in terms of a digital initiative that encompassed current works and the libraries of affiliated cartoonists.

* Michael Cavna at Comic Riffs rounds up creator reaction to Barnes and Noble's move to take the physical product off shelves that matched ttitles DC offered to the new Amazon e-reader with an exclusive. They're generally not happy with B&N. That's news in and of itself, although I don't see any of the respondents formulating an oh-yeah-that-makes-total-sense theory as to why this gets put at the feet of the bookseller's reaction as opposed to the publisher's action. But if that's the way creators are going to react to this move and others like it, that's a story in and of itself. I still think this is more of a shot across the bow of publishers thinking about doing this with current work that would be hit more deeply by a removal from store shelves, but Cavna's assertions in a couple of places that B&N is scrambling a bit when it comes to formulating competitive digital polices certainly puts some oomph behind series that B&N is just reacting without a grander strategy in mind.
 
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Go, Look: Marbles

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ActuaBD.com: Manolosanctis To Stop Publishing New Books

I lack the context to make a great deal of sense out of this news report at the French-language comics news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com that a publisher named Manolosanctis is looking to move out of new comics publishing and is seeking another direction, but it struck me as an intriguing story nonetheless. The publisher, which launched in 2009, has apparently depended a great deal on building buzz for new works via free sharing of that work on-line, and soliciting a kind of "community sharing" from prospective comics-makers. It sort of sounds like the kind of model that one would encounter in 1999 as opposed to 2009. The article at ActuaBD.com makes a lot of the bad math that rears its head when it comes to making physical comics product with limited print runs, but a peak at one of the comments on the piece suggests there may be some push back against this announcements along the lines that this was an all-but-unsustainable model from the get-go and the publisher may was burning through both investment money and the goodwill of many of its initial contributors in a way that resembled a fuse more than it did the start of a long-sustainable furnace fire. I'm sure there are like 18 billion nuances I'm not getting, though.
 
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Go, Look: Zany #3

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1, 2, 3, 4
 
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Two Scary Contextual News Pieces For Cartoon Expression

* international press organizations have condemned the blocking of the Lanka-e-News web service since October 18. The article places this latest move in the context of government attacks against the press. This includes the disappearance of journalist/cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda in January 2010 on the eve of a contested election, and the torpor that characterized any official investigation of that disappearance.

* a general named Saldiray Berk received a suspended jail sentence from a Turkish court for insulting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This is the same kind of lawsuit that the prime minister and other high officials in the country -- in the region, really -- have brought against cartoonist that have dared to draw elected officials in something other than than flattering terms.
 
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If I Were In Westminster MD, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Menace #9

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Frank Santoro would like you to know that applications for his comics correspondence course are due by this Friday, and that class begins next week.

image* Dave Lapp provides a sneak peak at his contribution to Toronto Draws Tintin.

* not comics: these look lovely.

* missed it: Marvel cancels two of its series.

* not comics: this article at the NY Times from a few days back is more about the writer's identification with 'zines than it is about some resurgence in 'zine-making, but I enjoyed some of the ideas floated in terms of how 'zines fit into the post-Internet expressive landscape.

* KC Carlson talks about the way he stored his comics before they had ways to store comics. I remember seeing a Don Rosa article in a Louisville paper in his TCJ file once, where from the photo you could tell he had bookshelves. I'm personally a big fan of wicker. (via Chris Pitzer, maybe?)

* not comics: congratulations to Ed Brubaker -- and I assume Sean Phillips -- on a movie deal for Coward.

* Jeff Jensen on a number of comics including Daybreak. Kevin Huizenga briefly on Edison Steelhead and Inside The Slow Spiral. Joseph Thompson on Troop 142. Jeremy Nisen on Troop 142. Sean Gaffney on Higurashi: When They Cry Vol. 15. Grant Goggans on The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Avengers Vol. 1.

* a comics and pedagogy roundtable.

* Sean T. Collins talks to JM DeMatteis; JM DeMatteis talks to Sean T. Collins. Cyriaque Lamar talks to Jimmy Palmiotti. Rob Tornoe talks to Jack Newcombe. George Tramountanas talks to Mike Carey. Albert Ching talks to Matt Fraction and Tom Brevoort.

* "young men are safe investments."

* here's a blog post about people going back and forth on Craig Thompson's Habibi.

* finally, if you haven't read this profile of Roger Brand, you need to read it. If you read it once a few days back, you need to visit the comments again.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Glynis Wein!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Mike Cavallaro!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Larry Lieber!

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October 25, 2011


Go, Read: Gary Panter Interview At The Comics Journal

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"Pervert Pepper" Cartoons On China, Libya Surge In Popularity

It's always tough to know how much real impact there is to a claim of something going viral on a region's internet services when there's little way to count the actual number of people seeing something, but this article on cartoons depicting the death of Gaddafi in a way that criticizes China's policy on the recent Civil War in Libya offers a few fascinating elements if the audience is one hundred people or one hundred million. The Hunan-based cartoonist Biantai Lajiao (which apparently means "pervert pepper") used a range of techniques to criticize Chinese policy, from employing the name of an elites-focused hospital in China to openly asking political questions in a classic cartoon style. It has apparently bounced from web site to web site, and of course has now enjoyed an additional round of exposure through news coverage.
 
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Missed It: Modern Arab Comics Survey At Hooded Utilitarian

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Nate Powell Speaks To UN About Darfur

A press release from Top Shelf this morning calls attention to the fact that cartoonist Nate Powell spoke at the UN about Darfur. They provide this video link. Powell's a contributor to a recent effort designed to drive attention to that part of the world and raise some money for refugee camps.
 
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Go, Look: Lindsey Lea

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Cartoonist Revealed As Mutant Precog; Profiled Rather Than Stoned

Cartoonist Tom Scott apparently accurately predicted the course of the recent Rugby World Cup final match a day before it happened. Results I've seen cartoonists predict, but not the actual shape of events in the contest. That's slightly spooky.
 
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Go, Look: A Jillian Tamaki Recipe Comic At Saveur

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Kevin McVey, 1928-2011

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Kevin McVey, an illustrator and theater caricaturist active in the National Cartoonists Society, died on October 19 from complications due to pneumonia. He was 83 years old.

McVey was born in the Bronx. He left high school early to join the armed services near the end of World War II, serving in a non-combat portion of the Pacific theater. After leaving the military a few years after the war, McVey attended art school at one of the many options for such education in post-WWII New York City, taking classes the Flatiron building. He was then employed in advertising.

Citing an enjoyment of his freelance illustration work over his daily agency duties, McVey quit advertising in 1961 and eventually found employment with the Bergen Record, where he would stay for a quarter-century. He provided illustrations, editorial cartoons, a weekly cartoon called Castaway Corner and theater caricatures to the publication. He eventually became syndicated by the LA Times with his feature Celebrity Cookbook. He was best known for the Broadway coverage and caricatures of the stars there, for the size of his publication in the region and the limited range of newspapers actively covering the theater industry.

With the cartoonist Frank Evers, McVey in the mid-'60s co-founded the group of New Jersey cartoonists that would eventually become an official chapter of the National Cartoonist Society. He was active in the group's participation with USO tours, making cartoons for the troops in Vietnam and for those in veterans hospitals.

McVey's theatrical caricatures were honored by the NCS with an award in 1984, taking the honor over nominees Sam Norkin and Al Hirschfeld. He officially retired from The Record in 1989. He would served as a chapter chairman for the New Jersey cartoonists when they became an NCS chapter in 1999, and also briefly served as the national organization's membership chairman. In 2007, McVey received the Tim Rosenthal award for 40 years of service to the chapter.

He is survived by a sister, two children and two grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Betty, in 2010. Memorial contributions have been direct to the ambulance corp in the town of Ho-Ho-Kus where McVey made his home.
 
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Go, Look: Boomerang

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* IDW's next big ol' Artist's Edition book will feature John Romita Sr. and a run of his Amazing Spider-Man work. That should be fun to see at that size.

image* this site has done a pretty lousy job of covering publishing announcements from Conundrum Press, so let's try and make up for that this week by using three of their images with three of their stories. At top is the cover image for their Michel Rabagliati book that they'll be launching at TCAF 2012. At left is an image for the book Valentin from Pascal Girard and Yves Pelletier, for which Conundrum recently acquired English-language rights for Fall 2012 release. At the bottom of this post is the new Dave Collier book they have at the presses.

* the D+Q people are so excited about the new Lynda Barry, they're having trouble writing a proper blog post headline.

* Todd Klein takes a look at the new omnibus edition of League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's out from Vertigo -- I guess that firewall between DC and Alan Moore completely disappeared after a while -- and some of their credit and design choices are odd

* not comics: Jordan Mechner has an e-book up about the creation of his Prince Of Persia videogame, one of the most diversely utilized video game brands of the last couple of decades.

* the writer Warren Ellis chastises Tor.com for the underwhelming nature of their first foray into webcomics publication.

* Philip Nel's biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss has a title.

* the thing I like about the idea of DC potentially doing more Watchmen comics is that on a certain conventional-wisdom-of-the-comics-community level it's so evil that there should be a promotional video with everyone wearing mustaches they would twirl as they talk about it. Another thing that pops to mind is that even when I was a teen reading those comics I remember feeling -- for maybe the first time with a comic I enjoyed -- that I didn't want to read any more comics about those characters. I'm sure tons of people do, though.

* Brian Heater announces the one-pager Engadget: The Comic.

* what Andi Watson is up to.

* here's a short report at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com on Chip Kidd's 2012 Batman book.

* the writer Matt Fraction talks about his new Defenders comic book series. The thing that kept this article in my memory is that instead of going to the original concept Fraction looked to the Steve Gerber-written run of issues. Those were some entertaining comics. Also, by using a previous run as his reference point rather than some conceptual hook, the new comic's core concept more explicitly becomes "characters that can't handle their own series right now."

* finally, I'm not certain I was aware of a Tomer Hanuka art book.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Jordan Mechner's Sketch Blog

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Two Newspaper Cartoons Garner Criticism For Depictions

* Congressman Gregory Meeks has criticized a cartoon appearing in a Queens newspaper for what he feels is a racist depiction of himself and Senator Malcolm Smith. The cartoon was defended by the author of the opinion article with which the cartoon appeared and the cartoonist. The cartoonist, Elgin Bolling, is African-American.

* the readers representative of the Kansas City Star reports a number of objections to the cartoon illustration of a female soldier used on Sunday with a major feature article. While some of the complaints seem to focus on the general issue of such a drawing by definition not being a serious thing, others seemed to react to the style employed.
 
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Go, Look: The Most Underrated Jack Kirby Character

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Go, Look: His Name Is Savage! Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* via Gary Tyrrell comes word of this state of webcomics report from Colleen Doran, detailing her efforts to take her work on-line and profit from it. If you only have time for one post today, I bet that's the one.

image* since I'm going all Conundrum with the images in today's "Bundled" column, let me put this cool-looking cover to the next Ditkomania right here. Unfortunately, it bumps this cool-looking Mythomania poster by Derek Kirk Kim, so you'll have to go look at that one more directly.

* go, look: Chris Schweizer draws Dracula and Frankenstein.

* Oliver East is fired up to go to correspondence school under the tutelage of Dr. Frank Santoro.

* I always enjoy these translation posts from Kim Thompson over at FLOG!.

* Paul Gravett talks to Chris Murray. Cyriaque Lamar talks to Joshua Hale Fialkov. Josh Kopin talks to Jason Latour. Oliver Sava talks to Scott Snyder.

* there's a good piece here from Tim O'Neil that 1) compares the New 52 initiative by DC Comics with the post-Crisis soft reboot from 25 years ago and pulls a lot of similarities out of both I'm kind of embarrassed I missed, and 2) talks about the problems with building a comics line around Superman when Superman has to settle into his Silver Age persona at some point or another, and what's wrong with DC's portrayal of Superman generally. You know one thing I think is tough with Superman? I think the character may be past the point of being able to support multiple books, and that he fits more poorly than most into the soap opera structure that tends to come with that kind of spread.

* Darryl Ayo is angry about the semantics surrounding alternative/independent comics. He suggests this is a post that would have been more relevant several years ago, and I agree with him. There is likely some trail of essays and/or internet argumentation that got him to the point of wanting to write that post, but I'm not privy to where that trail may be.

* the great John Porcellino has launched a photo-stuffed tour diary for his Fall travels, and of course the stuff outdoors is the best material in the post.

* according to this post at Bleeding Cool, they've located the check used to buy the Superman rights from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, which in comics-historical terms is kind of like locating the apple core somewhere deep in the Garden of Eden. Also, Jerry Siegel's hair.

* Todd Klein on Kirby Genesis #2-3. Ben Morse on five comics worth reading. Greg Burgas on Northlanders #21-28. Sean Gaffney on No Longer Human Vol. 1. Greg McElhatton on Star Trek/Legion Of Super-Heroes #1. Ed Sizemore on Love Hina: A Mirror To The Past. Kate Dacey on Gate 7 Vol. 1. David P. Welsh on comics from Kazuo Umezo.

* finally, at Scott McCloud's request, Todd Klein has put the "Go, Freelance" poster image up on his site in larger, more legible fashion.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, June Brigman!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Taiyo Matsumoto!

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October 24, 2011


Go, Listen: Jaime Hernandez Profiled At Deconstructing Comics

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Missed It: South Africa's Press Code Went Into Effect 10-15

It seems like all the Zapiro articles these days are full of incidental news that make you stop and whistle. We learned in a recent interview that the court date for the suit brought against the cartoonist by South African President Jacob Zuma has been set for next year. Here's a piece that repeats that bit of information but soon moves into a discussion of the country's horrible-sounding new press code, which apparently went into effect a week ago Saturday. I'm not certain how you could make Zapiro's descriptions of one of the dubious clauses sound any worse except maybe surrounding it with expletives.
 
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Go, Look: Jubilee #1

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whoa, Joel Orff
 
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George Robert Artley, 1917-2011

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Bob Artley, known for his nostalgic cartoons about farm life in the 1920s and 1930s, died in Akron, Ohio on October 21. Artley had been living in an extended care facility. He was 94 years old.

imageArtley was born George Robert Artley in the small town of Hampton, Iowa, in the north-central portion of the state. His family were farmers. He attended Grinnell College downstate before being drafted into World War II before the start of his senior year. He returned to Hampton after leaving the service, now married. He finished his college education at the University Of Iowa, where a lifetime love for drawing led to an editorial-cartoon gig at the campus publication The Daily Iowan.

After university, Artley worked for a half-decade at the Des Moines Tribune, then at an advertising agency and as an art director for a publishing company. He moved back into the newspaper business first as a community newspaper editor/publisher and then as a cartoonist at the Worthington Daily Globe in the early 1970s.

According to his obituary at the Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa) this was roughly the period in which he began doing his Memories Of A Former Kid cartoons, an escape from editorial cartoons and their politics and the work that would the dominant feature of his professional cartooning life moving forward. A 1978 self-published book, featuring dozens of Artley's drawn reminiscences of life on the family farm, proved so popular the Artleys sold additional printing rights to the Iowa State University Press in order to escape the obligations of fulfilling so many orders.

In many ways, the Memories Of A Former Kid feature was reminiscent of a strong wave of nostalgic cartoons -- and prose works, including newspaper columns -- that appeared in the 1920s and 1930s of Artley's interest and focused on American life from 1870 to 1910. Artley's book collections, all from Iowa State University Press, included Cartoons: From The Newspaper Series Memories Of A Former Kid (1986), A Book Of Chores: As Remembered By A Former Kid (1989), A Country School (1989), Living With Cows (1996) and Country Christmas (As Remembered By A Former Kid) (1994).

While Memories Of A Former Kid remained a feature of the Daily Globe, other regional newspapers carried it as well. Artley retired from from the newspaper in 1986.

Artley was preceded in death by his wife Ginny in 1993. He remarried in 1995 to a fellow survivor of a spouse with Alzheimer's. They met when he wrote a book about losing his first wife in 1994, Ginny: A Love Remembered. The couple split time between Hampton and Florida. They eventually moved to Ohio to be near family.

Many of Artley's cartoons were donated to Minnesota West Community and Technical College in 2007.

A service for Artley will be held in Hampton, Iowa. He is survived by his second wife and three children.

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Go, Look: Jim Aparo's Spectre Splash Pages

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A Couple Of Notes On Marvel's Firings From Last Week

Heidi MacDonald suggests via context and testimony that Marvel letting go staffers last week is part of an entrenched tradition of severe attention to costs in the post-1990s, post-bankruptcy era. This would explain not only last week's baffling-in-any-era-but-this-one moves but recent Marvel strategy regarding hires and even things like adamantly not settling with the Kirby family despite the massive windfall of cash for the company over the last dozen years and the benefits to Marvel that could come with such an overture. This is a terrible time to press any point, as a few nice folks out there face a new work week looking for employment, but it's always worth noting even when it makes us uncomfortable that there are differences in how different companies are run, and how creators and staff either share in or fail to share in increased profits to which they obviously contributed seems to me like it should be a primary standard concerning how we view such companies.

imageAs a side note, I'm additionally glad whenever news of general comics parsimony comes to light because despite its culture of self-deprecating wisecracks the comics industry has a bit of a longstanding problem in terms of a realistic conversation about the rewards and benefits that may greet people that choose to work there. That's pretty much everywhere in comics, from the idea that any newspaper comic strip with a book collection is suddenly making Garfield money to the fact that people already employed elsewhere in an equivalent position will apply for a comics job only to flee in horror when salary gets discussed to the notion that a dominant image for cash rewards in comics comes from the Image bonanza of nearly twenty years ago. I think it's good to know that while there are areas in comics in which a very good living can be had, and even staff positions where employers are generous with perks and benefits and salaries, there are other areas where your idea of how things function may not match how they actually work.

MacDonald also wrote in to make fun of me for my calling Marvel's moves one of the first negative outcomes of the media-conglomerate-marriage age of these companies when so many at DC Comics lost their jobs in their split-the-offices restructuring several months ago. I hope she won't mind my saying that, because she's right. My automatic recall for events of the last few years kind of sucks these days, but MacDonald's 100 percent correct that in making that formulation I should have mentioned that massive, initial disruption at DC, no matter how it was papered over by NDAs and general press stonewalling.

I think the difference between the two, or why this one stings in a particular way that didn't automatically recall DC's moves, is that what Marvel did last week was readily described by those that pay closest attention to that part of the industry as a cost-cutting measure rather than as a needed restructuring of some sort. The nakedness of that description was unsettling to me, at least, and it's not something that I recall was done with DC's even now that my pea-sized brain is forced to recall that reduction of staff and elimination of at least one entire office. As CR's coverage of the newspaper industry's free fall might suggest, I actually have a bit of sympathy for restructuring moves in the new media era. It's hard to know in some cases where there are redundancies or entrenched, non-productive people that were protected by tradition and reliable profit margins, particularly as the landscape shifts underneath each industry's feet. It's hard to fully believe that a 1980s-style publishing staff is automatically the best set-up to meet whatever additional challenges are coming in the twenty-teens. That said, the Marvel moves last week seemed of a different kind entirely, openly concerned with meeting profit expectations and individually questionable in terms of long-term strategy in a way that maybe should make people shiver, if only a tiny bit, when thinking about these massive corporations' long-term commitments to high-cost/high-reward publishing.
 
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Go, Look: Lynd Ward In The Haunted Omnibus

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Go, Look: Mid-'80s Barry Windsor-Smith Marvel Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Tom Ziuko tells the harrowing story of recent kidney-related surgery and emphasizes support for The Hero Initiative.

image* Jonathan Baylis wrote in to say that he was devoting this comics story to the recently-fired-from-Marvel Scott Elmer. Also, for what it's worth, I would buy a t-shirt featuring the Thing's head.

* Chris Cummins talks to Paul Kupperberg. Liz Armstrong talks to Ron Regé. JW Ward talks to Mike Carey not once but twice. Andy Burns talks to Joshua Williamson. James Romberger talks to Neal Adams. Melissa Tan Bio talks to Tom Gauld. RC Harvey profiles Jud Hurd. David Ulin talks to Art Spiegelman. Chris Mautner talks to Austin English.

* Daniel Wüllner on Pope Hats #2. Sean T. Collins on Ganges #4. Eddie Campbell on Setting The Standard. Sean Gaffney on Drifting Net Café Vol. 1. Don MacPherson on Star Trek/Legion Of Super-Heroes #1. Greg McElhatton on Liberty Annual 2011. Brian Hibbs on a bunch of new comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Holy Terror. Ted Brown on Eye Of The Gods.

* not comics: you'll surely be as relieved as I was to hear that Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger is still building that Batcave. Who says that the recent NBA lockout/players revenue dispute lacks a connection to the common man?

* Kevin Czap talks about comics in a gallery setting.

* Sean T. Collins point out that Ben Katchor's latest strip at Metropolis isn't just good, it's relevant.

image* speaking of Collins, he writes about Love & Rockets and jumping-on points here. It's a good post, and it skirts around a subject related to advocating for comics that's of particular interest to me. L&R was maybe the first comic promoted as "you have to read this comic," which given comics' junk roots and general (still-lingering) self-hatred was an intriguing development all its own. I always thought there was a significant, underlying resentment towards the title because of that, as well as similar feelings aimed at any title that has been pushed the same way since. Comics readers are not only willfully iconoclastic, they tend to pride themselves on their taste, because in most cases it's hard-won relative to the general culture. I do wish people would stop indulging that kind of silly stance, though, the thought that there are a few comics out there that have to prove themselves to you, this cross-armed tapping of one's foot waiting to be convinced of something. What a waste of time. Read the comics you like or that you think you might like, and make up your own mind. Take other people's recommendations as recommendations, not as gauntlets thrown in your direction -- believe me, they're not thinking about you when they say these things. If there's one advantage to living in marketing-soaked times, it should be the sophistication to know that when people say "everybody should be reading this" it almost always means "I wish more people were reading this" and it's not really some theorem for you to disprove via personal objection. In general and as always, life's too short for that kind of fussiness.

* The Adventures of Mr. Phil presents some old exhibition notes on Maus in two parts.

* in light of the misfortune that befell cartoonist Ali Ferzat, Michael Netzer talks about his own experience with the Syrian military.

* finally, Chris Pitzer writes on the comics scene in Richmond, Virginia.
 
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Happy 86th Birthday, Al Feldstein!

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Happy 28th Birthday, Austin English!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Mindy Newell!

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October 23, 2011


CR Sunday Interview: T. Edward Bak

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this interview has been archived
 
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Go, Read: Report On Chip Kidd At AIGA National Conference

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Go, Look: DC Girls In Sweaters

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Go, Look: Toad In The Hole

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Go, Look: John Stanley's Work Reprinted Abroad

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Go, Look: Even More World Encyclopedia Cartoons

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Go, Look: Michel Fiffe & George O'Connor Draw Beta Ray Bill

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Go, Read: The First Comic Book Warren Ellis Ever Loved

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via Matthew Badham
 
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If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

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Happy 48th Birthday, Eric Shanower!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Blake Bell!

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Happy 37th Birthday, John Pham!

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FFF Results Post #272 -- All Done

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Completed, Abandoned Or Pretty Much On-Hiatus Webcomics You Like." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Perry Bible Fellowship
2. Narbonic
3. Leisuretown
4. Pup
5. Necessary Monsters (It looks like this one has maybe been revived for GN publication by First in the months since I wrote this and it was published.)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Fred The Clown
2. Minus
3. Gil -- but the good news is, he's comin' back in 2012 in newspapers!
4. Thorn
5. Oh, Brother! -- technically this was a regular syndicated newspaper comic strip, but I'm pretty sure 90%+ of its readership was web-based.

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. The Journal Comic by Drew Weing
2. Nowhere Girl by Justine Shaw
3. When I am King by Demian5
4. Thingpart by Joey Allison Sayers
5. Raw Materials by Larry Gonick

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Doctor Who: The 10 Doctors
2. Kukuburi
3. Breakfast of the Gods
4. Hermit Hill
5. The Marvel: A Biography of Jack Parsons

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


Anders Nilsen Talk At A Pub After A Signing At Page 45
via Oliver East


Knopf Doubleday At NYCC 2011




Shary Flenniken Interviewed
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Sketchbook Video From Mattias Inks
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Kari Korhonen Interview
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Exhibit Of Kabuki: The Alchemy Artwork At Northern Kentucky University
via Rich Shivener
 
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October 22, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from October 15 to October 21, 2011:

1. The layoffs of 11 Marvel employees shines a troubling spotlight on Marvel's practice of tightening their belt even when the only benefit is to match some sort of profits goal placed on the business by its bosses.

2. NYCC sets an attendance record for its brief history at just over 105,000 (although I'm not exactly sure how this was counted). For mainstream comic books at the very least, the event seems firmly ensconced as North America's #2 most sizable and important funnybook show. There was a lot of publishing news.

3. Amazon.com announces its intention to enter prose publishing in a big way in Fall 2012. I'm imagining one of those scenes in a movie where hit men descend on Las Vegas, only it's veteran comics people lurking about Seattle, all looking to pitch Amazon on a comics line.

Winner Of The Week
Jaime Hernandez

Loser Of The Week
The American Cancer Society

Quote Of The Week
"The problem with 'comics' is that they're not all funny. The problem with 'cartoons' is that they're not all sequential. It's a very wide and varied field of work that can't be easily subsumed under one title. Picture stories are an antique medium. Every country has its own name for them. In France it's a strip drawing. In America many call it comics, because they associate the medium with humour. All these names show the limitations of language in describing something complex." -- Ben Katchor

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

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

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

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

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Happy 58th Birthday, Steven Grant!

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October 21, 2011


Go, Look: SM

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That Will Elder Guy Sure Could Cartoon

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On DC's New 52 Month Two

The retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs has an installment of his column up here that discusses a couple of digital comics issues. He comes down against DC going exclusive with its Kindle deal, and comes down super-heavy against Marvel including a free digital copy of a comic book with new issues of a launched series. He's so against the latter, he's not carrying the book at all in his store. He gives his reasons why, but basically he feels that digital copies in a regular comic book represent a clumsy attempt by Marvel to build data on the back of his hard work in a way that could have an adverse effect on his business, and Marvel was dishonorable in trying to sneak this attempt into a comic they had already solicited. Sounds sensible to me, and I like that he addresses the "you're only harming yourself" cry ahead of hearing it, since that has become a really cynical response to any sort of stand by anyone these days.

The real interest in the column, though, comes up top with his analysis of the second month of DC sales in his shop. Hibbs was extremely positive about month one, which I think mitigates against automatically criticizing his sober take on month two with the usual "you're just negative." Hibbs points out (rightly) that even with an influx of new customers joining in the old, any model that counts on people buying comics across an entire line is going to quickly prove itself unsustainable. Hibbs also indicates that at least in his shop, the comics have fallen into established patterns in terms of sales drop-off, with a couple of the critically-lauded series launches being the exception that proves the rule and at least one critically-eviscerated series launch being the example that adds underlines. I appreciate hearing this: I haven't read anything about month two in DC's publishing initiative, and a lot of what came with month one was a lot of bellowing and fist-pumping about the awesomeness of selilng so many comics rather than considered analysis.
 
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Go, Look: Cartoons By Mischa Richter

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Layoffs At Marvel Rattle Freshly Re-Oriented Industry

imageDistressing news broke across multiple comics sites yesterday as news of layoffs at Marvel Comics seeped out through various, well-connected news gatherers. You can probably get about 98 percent of what was written yesterday by spending time with multiple articles on three sites: this one and this one at Heidi MacDonald's The Beat; this one and this one at Rich Johnston's Bleeding Cool; this one at Comic Book Resources. (If you're only able or willing to read one, do the CBR; I read the CBR, double-checked it against what Heidi dug up, and then read the Bleeding Cool pieces for their stabs at contextual analysis; everyone's mileage will vary and adherents of just about every site will indict the other ones if prodded, so tread carefully.)

Their best information indicates that Editors Jody LeHeup and Alejandro Arbona were among those laid off, as well as Assistant Editor Rachel Pinnelas. From production Damien Lucchese, Taylor Esposito, Jerry Kalinowski and Scott Elmer were workplace casualties. Two digital compositors, Eric Bloom and Maritsa Patrinos, were also let go, as well as two as yet to be named folks in the trades department. The initial figure reported as to a final tally of jobs cut started at 15, moved to 13 and is now settled at 11. Updates and additional names are likely today.

An initial batch of notes:

* the initial wave of reaction was to wish all of these people luck with negotiating any present situation related to job loss and all fortune in the future finding gainful employment. That seem sensible, and certainly this site extends those same wishes. There's never a good time to be unemployed; this might qualify as a slightly worse time.

* the "why" of these moves should prove fascinating. The initial reports from all the sites linked-to above have settled in on cost-cutting measures rather than performance issues with those let go. This may put Marvel in the position of having to explain to some super-involved fans and the professional community -- okay, Marvel won't likely do a lot of explaining, which means those people will turn to each other for such explanations -- why cost-cutting had to come for what by most rational measures is a very successful publishing enterprise that serves as a powerful R&D arm for movies and licensing. Marvel saw three movies with its characters out this summer, two from Marvel proper, and has at least two major movies (one from Marvel itself) coming out in Summer 2012. All of those films anchor significant licensing campaigns, and the company in general has moved far past the more confused days of the 1980s and early 1990s with that era's hat-in-hand licensing deals and is partnered up seemingly across the board with major players in dozens of fields. Ironically, another piece of Marvel news Thursday was that they sold a Punisher TV show, which underlines the continuing potency of Marvel's characters in terms of securing such deals and selling related material.

This move at this time will therefore almost certainly place either new owner Disney or the former Marvel head that runs the company for Disney, Ike Perlmutter, or both, under a classic "they chose to maximize corporate profits over long-term company health" spotlight, which in the absence of a compelling narrative regarding structural reasons for why they had to trim staff, and especially in these corporate-critical times (I know without looking someone out there has made an "Occupy Yancy Street" joke), could lead to a decent amount of blow-back and criticism for the company. Or, as one angry person put it to me in rough terms yesterday, a widespread view could develop that these people were fired "so that Ike Perlmutter could wipe his ass with triple-ply $100 bill toilet paper." It's easy to overestimate the effect that this kind of bad press can have on a company with Marvel's market potency, but I don't think it's automatically negligible.

The firings will also put older and history-respectful comics industry folks in the mind of 1990s employment purges (the Marvelcution events), and with that line of thinking forge an additional connection between what happened yesterday to the idea that this is caused by choosing an abstract financial motivation (goosing profits for a quarter or two) over long-term publishing investment (making sure you have the staff and positions in place to negotiate a critical transition period in publishing).

* a few hires pop out to me as specifically intriguing side stories. Between them, Alejandro Arbona and Jody LeHeup were responsible for a big chunk of the smarter Marvel Comics books of the last several years, from Invincible Iron Man to Strange Tales. Either one ending up at another comics company could mean positive things for the company that chooses to hire them; individual editorial talent remains an industry commodity. Their departure might also be felt in a negative fashion. Every editor has creators they favor and creators they don't; change the mix of editors and you almost always change the overall creator breakdown. More generally, the kind of talent that works on slightly more cutting-edge books can be key for comics companies, perhaps not always in a raw sales sense but in shaping the marketplace over time and keeping certain kinds of creators invested and on board with a publisher more completely and for an extended period of their careers. Corrections artist Scott Elmer, aka "Pondscum" or "Scummy," was a long-time, beloved employee and a fixture of that publisher's culture, and will put a face on this round of firings for the creative community past and present.

* there's also the general issue of how the overall fabric of Marvel might change due to these moves, how these moves could alter how Marvel functions as a publishing house in the months moving forward. With the duties of those let go yesterday -- and the duties of recently-fired other employees -- shifting to people still working there, both the work itself and the career paths of some of the workers could see drastic alteration. As to the latter, I know that a very minor version of this where I worked in the mid-'90s contributed greatly to my personal burn-out and likely hastened my exit from that job by two or three years. That doesn't seem out of the question with some of the remaining positions and workers at Marvel. There's also a chance the work itself suffers, and that Marvel is in effect voting for a certain kind of comics production standard and general sales strategy -- steps back from certain kinds of titles, certain levels of attention to production issues or even specific sales avenues -- in the months moving forward. For example, I suspect Rich Johnston may be right when he suggests that a major print distribution initiative in the works earlier this year is likely off the table now.

* another thing worth noting although hard to grasp in concrete terms is how terrifying investment away from certain employees and positions can be for the wider comics community. Does this signal the start of cost-cutting measures at Marvel generally, or even the first roll call in a lengthy series of votes of no-confidence in the high-investment but high-reward business of comics publishing? Will Marvel make even more dramatic moves in a post-Avengers movie world? How distressing is it if you're one of the folks qualified for and desiring of work in the comics industry to see so many positions eliminated and so many capable people enter the field to apply for other positions at the same time you're doing so? When a publisher with roughly a third of its primary market and enormously successful programs in other media decides to fire people, everyone shudders. Another way to look at this is as one of the first major negative events of an era in which both of the major mainstream publishers are partnered more closely with major media enterprises. This could trigger fears for the future of comics publishing generally and should spur a few think-pieces on the positives and negatives of these corporate marriages.

* one nice footnote is that creators Matt Fraction and Jim McCann announced freelance work for Arbona and Lucchese respectively.
 
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Go, Look: The Strange World Of Mr. Mum

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Collective Memory: New York Comic Con 2011

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this article has been archived; click through the image above
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Some Lovely Late-'50s Al Williamson Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Daryl Cagle presents the first round of death of Gadhafi editorial cartoons.

image* I am greatly enjoying this week's run of various Sergio Aragones pages and panels at Bully's blog. You usually don't see his comic book work put into the spotlight this way, but I'm not certain way. There's a lot of it, and it's all pretty fun.

* Don MacPherson on MAD #511. John Kane on some Jonah Hex comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on some comic-book comics. Sharayah Read on Jennifer Blood #1. Hayley Campbell on The Hidden. Todd Klein on Boilerplate and Kirby Genesis #0-1. Michael Buntag on Action Comics #2.

* save your cash for next week's Tony Millionaire Big Art Sale, by which I mean sale of big art.

* hey, here's some great news I either missed or forgot about: D+Q is working with Tom Gauld. The plan I submitted to Congress on how to save the postal service involves Gauld making every person in America three packets of his postcards, but barring that becoming law I guess a D+Q book is cool, too.

* Jeffrey Lewis draws ROM.

* I have no idea what this is and no idea what half of the words in the title mean, but it's free so I'm downloading it.

* this summer was such that I didn't notice the writer James Vance was back on-line and blogging semi-regularly. I always enjoy reading his posts, and am always happy to see an established comics writer blogging. (And thank you, James.)

* Martin Wisse shares some comics numbers from back in the era when comic books sold really, really well, and has some questions about Dr. Wertham's influence on sales.

* Josh Kopin talks to Gabriel Hardman.

* I agree with the sentiment expressed here that it's hard to beat Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott when it comes to satisfy American superhero art.

* finally, the Internet makes me happy by foisting up a few Evan Dorkin drawings of the Spy Vs. Spy spies being murdered: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Steve MacIsaac!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Paul Levitz!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Geof Darrow!

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Please Help Us Sort Out Our Internet Presence By Liking CR On FB

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October 20, 2011


A Couple Of Brief, Left-Over Michael George Notes

There were a few things I wanted to make sure I got up on the site for my own purposes concerning the guilty verdict roughly ten days ago in the Michael George trail. The one-time prominent western Pennsylvania retailer was on trial a second time for the 1990 murder of his then-wife in their Michigan comic book store. The first is that while George was convicted of first degree murder as reported in the initial rush to get the news out there, he was also found guilty of insurance fraud and possession of a gun in the act of a felony. The second is that his sentencing is set for November 21. As to that sentencing, the law that will be applied requires life in prison without parole for the first of the three charges, so I don't know that there's a lot to be decided there. A third major point I wanted to get up on the site is that a few of the wire articles like this one are the first time during this trial that I've read anything from the family of the deceased. I believe they were more vocal last time. I can't imagine what a nightmare this must have been for that family to see a second trial after the first three years ago. In fact, this must have been horrific on all sides, such as in the George daughters, one of whom testified as an alibi witness on her father's behalf.
 
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Go, Look: The Bernie Wrightson 1978 Apparitions Portfolio

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* last weekend was NYCC. There's a collective memory here. The show apparently drew 100,000+ attendees, judging from the photos all but 32 of them in costume. Heidi MacDonald has an intriguing post up here for how succinctly she sums up the future of comics at the show: a) some publisher are likely to never exhibit at NYCC; b) the comics world is changing underneath everyone with the profile of NYCC's attendees exhibit one. It seems to me that show is firmly ensconced in the calendar now the way that Wizard World Chicago used to be, with multiple specific complaints after each one but never going so far as to question the assumed importance of the event. It should be around for quite some time.

* tomorrow's debate in Vermont over Jack Kirby and what Marvel may owe the man and his legacy either legally or ethically or neither or both looks like it could be fun.

* Mid-Ohio Con, now under Wizard's management, is this weekend's major North American show of note. There's no reason why that can't become a solid show in Wizard's who-the-hell-knows-how-they're-doing line-up of regional events. Columbus has been a fertile ground for shows, and can draw from five to six hours away pretty easily if fans are motivated to go.

* finally, here's a report from a Jorge Cham campus appearance.


 
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Go, Look: Ghost Dog Fumetti

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Go, Read: Dan Clowes At The AV Club

imageDan Clowes is one of the best comics-makers working, and just about any interview with him right now is worth reading. As those who have seen him on tour with Seth, Clowes is generally relaxed, warm and insightful as a commentator on his own work and comics in general. This new piece at The AV Club is by the very comics-smart Noel Murray. That means you get some specific, slightly left-field questions about Clowes' work, like the cartoonist's desire to capture the design aesthetic of the late '70s and early '80s, as well as his thoughts on some broader, geekier, topics, like how he felt about doing comic books for those last few, amazing issues of Eightball as opposed to making them graphic novels from the start.
 
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Go, Look: Wild Blueberry Land

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Herblock Remembered Ten Years After His Passing

imageThere's a slideshow here with a super-obnoxious commercial before-hand that has about a half-dozen photos of the late cartoonist Herblock worth viewing (there are about ten total); the gallery of cartoons at the Washington Post also has a commercial in front of it, but if you can stand it, it's also worth watching. He is recalled by fellow staffers and fellow former staffers in a prose article with no video commercial at all here. You might start with this blog post by Michael Cavna, or read that and skip the other three altogether (it depends on the strength of your interest, I suppose). Or you can skip that stuff altogether and just look at this fun and funny Mussolini cartoon.

I'm not exactly certain how Herblock will be remembered by those that remember figures like that beyond a decade or so after they pass. His powerful identification as a force within the Washington Post will likely diminish as the eminence of that institution as a cultural force either fades or shifts emphases. My hunch is that in the long-term when Herblock is remembered at all it will be as an extremely capable cartoonist but also a highly rewarded one, a man emblematic of a time when cartoonists settled in at major papers and became the kind of figures that gave out awards, had their photos taken with colleagues reading their new books, and received accolades from presidents. I'm certain there will continue to be cartoonists with strong careers at solid journalistic enterprises, but I can't imagine anyone starting out right now having the kind of career Herblock had, or leaving behind the stock-fueled fortune he did upon his passing.
 
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Go, Look: Occupation Sketchbook

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

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OTBP: Finding Moby Dick

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Jeet Heer reports on the Iowa Comics Conference. That looks like it was a very good time.

image* via Gary Tyrrell comes word that Kate Beaton is running some of her recent Marvel anthology comics while she's on tour. You should read them, of course.

* Sean T. Collins on Thickness #2. Tom Flinn on MetaMaus. Michael Buntag on Sexbuzz. Bill Reed on Atomic Robo And The Ghost Of Station X #2. Sean Gaffney on Princess Knight Vol. 1. Greg McElhatton on Any Empire. Christopher Allen on a bunch of IDW comics. Ted Brown on Near Death #1.

* not comics: Alyssa Rosenberg previews a forthcoming PBS documentary on superheroes.

* Mike Dawson talks to Kurt Wolfgang. Kevin de Vlaming talks to Ethan Rilly. Josh Kopin talks to Cliff Chiang.

* there's a Red Hulk? A She-Ghost Rider? Flash Thompson is Venom? Apparently so. There was once a character called Adam-X The X-Treme? This says it's true. I have a feeling I'm not going to do very well with the mainstream creators whose comics references are going to go back to about 1995.

* I don't think I've ever seen this Elektra Lives Again promotional piece from Miller and Varley.

* Michael Cavna picks his favorite Herman Cain cartoons. Cavna says that Cain would be a godsend for cartoonists. Hooray?

* Matt Seneca looks at a sequence from the recent "Love Bunglers" by Jaime Hernandez.

* Graeme McMillan muses on death in superhero comics. Basically, it's been done a lot. He also looks at some odd statements about a new Marvel comic and its sales levels -- basically, he suggests that unless they doubled the comic as they say they're going to, it would have done super-poorly.

* the late Martin Skidmore once asked why Thor generates almost no interest with comics fans. That's not quite true anymore, but I wanted to link to it because a) I like that they're re-running Skidmore's essays, and b) I wanted to underline that Marvel has been really good the last five to ten years in terms of resuscitating their Avengers-related properties.

* look at this striking editorial cartoon by Bill Mauldin.

* finally, hey: new David King. And new Mike Bertino.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Jim Engel!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Matthew Loux!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Ryan North!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Len Kaminski!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Mike Baehr!

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Please Help Us Sort Out Our Internet Presence By Liking CR On FB

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October 19, 2011


Go, Look: Introducing Ed Piskor's Brain Rot

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Zuma Case Against Zapiro To Be Heard In August 2012

This interview with the South African cartoonist Zapiro offers up the usual array of considered answers to pointed political questions -- there's a great, direct answer as to why the ANC became poisoned on political satires -- but the piece also provides a bit of hard news I totally missed: the defamation case against the cartoonist brought against him by South African President Jacob Zuma has been scheduled for that country's high court for August 2012. The international record for legal matters against cartoonists brought by high government officials is distressingly poor, although some South African organizations have in the past sided with free expression in terms of political satire, and that indicates there's some hope for Zapiro winning the case. It looks like he's going to fight back hard, anyway; I'm not surprised.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Toronto Draws Tintin

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Missed It: Analysts' September 2011 DM Estimates

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has offered up their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for September 2011. I totally missed them when they came out.

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

My favorite numbers cruncher John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles has begun his analysis of the month here.

It's going to be a tough month to figure out. Many although not all of DC's comic books -- the dominant sales entry this month and certainly the comics to which many people are going to lists like these to see after how they did -- were sold in returnable fashion. This means that there's a built-in adjustment for those figures that may or may not change as they're shipped back to the publisher. The good thing about the way people like Mr. Griepp and Mr. Miller do what they do is that they're pretty damn used to working with estimates because of the reluctance of publishers to release real figures. So it's sort of like eating in a restaurant with two cooks that are used to measuring things out in their hands and by the width of their fingers rather than in measuring cups and spoons that now have to do it solely by sight for a while. In other words, I'm pretty confident in the general ballparking of these figure for analyses like these, but you definitely need to make allowance for really firm statements about specific titles, the next few months more than ever. (I think DC plans on employing returnable comics through late Spring of 2012.)

I think the conventional wisdom for these figures will be that this represents a significant improvement over the last nine to twelve months of serial comics sales figure, but a) the fact that DC scored only a modest victory over Marvel in terms of market share shows how weak their position had become vis-a-vis their main competitor (don't let anyone tell you this isn't important to those companies), and b) the gains overall really kind of underline just how terribly sick the market had become in recent, measurable period. It's sort of like we're all brave enough now to go back and look at how quickly in the ranks comic books fell under the 40K and 30K and 20K figures because things are in slight relief. There's a lot of work left to do, and the potential structural weakness in the overall system -- appealing, long-term content and the ability of stores to move it in major numbers after years of being cuffed about the head and body -- in terms of supporting a sustained surge now gets called into question. There are also some indications that the sales of these comics drew from the sales of other comics down the long tail, which calls into questions how many new customers were involved.

There a couple of graphic novel things worth noting. Frank Miller enjoys strong if not wholly remarkable support in Direct Market shops, while the second go-round on Sailor Moon GNs is once again almost solely focused on bookstore sales.
 
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Go, Look: Richard Thompson Previews His Nursery Rhyme Comic

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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.

*****

AUG111068 NURSERY RHYME COMICS 50 TIMELESS RHYMES HC $18.99
A lot of very good cartoonists -- including rare book appearances from major newspaper strip artists like Richard Thompson and Patrick McDonnell -- working with a very good cartoon editor (Chris Duffy) on a very solid concept (right there in the title). All class, this release.

imageJUL110794 MUTTS OUR LITTLE KAT KING MUTTS TREASURY SC $18.99
Speaking of McDonnell, this is his latest collection. I'm not entirely sure if Mutts is on two tracks right now the way Zits has been, but if it is this looks like a more frequent version as opposed to an over-sized collecting more than one year at a time. McDonnell is taken for granted now, I think because his comic doesn't have a lot of narrative force: you don't remember individual stories from Mutts as much as recurring features and the drawing in general, and something about it seems like it should be something of a story strip as opposed to more jokey efforts that settle into a similar groove all the time. I still very much enjoy the strip, and look forward to the books so that I might catch up.

AUG110282 FABLES #110 (MR) $2.99
AUG110267 TINY TITANS #45 $2.99
AUG110507 ALL NIGHTER #5 (OF 5) $2.99
AUG110315 30 DAYS OF NIGHT ONGOING #1 $3.99
AUG110325 COLD WAR #1 $3.99
AUG110608 AVENGERS 1959 #2 (OF 5) $2.99
AUG110676 DEADPOOL MAX 2 #1 (MR) $3.99
AUG110192 BATMAN ODYSSEY VOL 2 #1 (OF 7) $3.99
AUG110568 FEAR ITSELF #7 (OF 7) FEAR $4.99
This is reasonably fascinating week for mainstream comic books, and you can't always say that. I don't know if I'd buy any of the above, but I'd take a look at all of them. Fables comes out to engender another round of denials from the multiple producers and show runners that are doing this comic in television form this Fall by skirting around Bill Willingham's work to access the fairy-tale premise itself. Tiny Titans garners attention for that big issue number; I was reminded this week that that's a comic book that really works for a lot of kids, and simply isn't the most recognizable property in its category at any awards program where it's nominated. All Nighter gets points with me for being a story about teens but not being about some sort of monster romance -- this is apparently an entire section of most prose bookstores right now. The 30 Days Of Night series is definitely about monsters, of course, but they're drawn by Sam Kieth so I want to see them. Cold War is new work by veteran mainstream comics maker John Byrne, and I'm dying at some point to read a bunch of his current work (the last one of his I read was a series starring the Gary Seven character from Star Trek). Howard Chaykin is always worth reading, which makes Avengers 1959 a must-buy for me at some point. The Deadpool Max stuff features Kyle Baker, while the Batman Odyssey comics feature Neal Adams. Finally, the Fear Itself series makes me curious because it has all the things I like about mainstream comics and creators I always enjoy, but there's a significant negative strain of commentary in superhero circles about it.

JUL110882 ALAN MOORE NEONOMICON HC (MR) $27.99
JUL110881 ALAN MOORE NEONOMICON TP (MR) $19.99
I know almost nothing about this series, although I seem to remember a similar negative reaction to it in some circles. Moore is always worth a look, though.

JUL110888 FREAKANGELS HC VOL 06 (MR) $27.99
JUL110889 FREAKANGELS HC VOL 06 ELLIS & DUFFIELD SGN ED (MR) $39.99
JUL110887 FREAKANGELS TP VOL 06 (MR) $19.99
In contrast to the Moore offering, I am completely familiar with this web-serialized concept from writer Warren Ellis and an artist named Paul Duffield, because Ellis used to show up in my inbox every week and yell at me to go read it (not me personally, everyone on one of his now-defunct e-mail lists). This was super-effective in me getting to spend that time with the work. These books represent the monetizing follow-up to that kind of exposure.

AUG110712 15 LOVE GN TP $14.99
This is probably better known for its initial publishing delays and the general road not taken -- road not taken very forcefully, anyway -- by Marvel Comics in establishing a bookstore-focused set of comics in genres other than superheroes with father issues. It gets a look from me for the contributions of Andi Watson, an appealing and prolific comics creator able to work in a wide variety of styles and formats.

MAR111330 TEZUKAS BLACK JACK TP VOL 16 $16.95
This struck me as the best new volume of an ongoing, mainstream-type manga series out this week. I'm not a Gon fan, haven't picked up a Kingyo Used Books yet and I don't know anything about this week's effort from the Clamp collective, so it's Tezuka or nothing for me. I'm actually not a huge fan of this material, but having the entire series near completion (there's one more to come) is quite the accomplishment.

AUG110883 SERGIO ARAGONES FUNNIES #4 $3.50
I like Sergio's comics because they usually have his name in the title and in this case it's entirely appropriate because that's almost certainly why you're buying it.

JUL111130 METABARONS ULTIMATE COLL SLIP CASE (MR) $129.95
This is your big, fancy book of the week -- some 550 pages in slipcases from Alejandro Jodorowsky and artist Juan Giménez, spanning about a decade of work from the psychologically potent science fiction school of which Jodorowsky is headmaster.

AUG110045 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #5 $7.99
I sometimes wonder after this comic as a semi-important publishing experiment. I hope there's room for the generation of cartoonists mostly represented here to produce new work for a comics audience of the kind you can almost never build anywhere but the comics shop, but I'm not convinced that they've arrived at whatever sales number necessary to guarantee this comic's long-term survival. Not yet, anyway. I know that at the very least I'd pick this up every time I saw on in the shop.

*****

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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Missed It: Another Margot's Room Update

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Missed It: Amazon.com Enters Into Publishing In A Big Way

I kind of held off on this for the emergence of a list -- I still can't find one -- to see if someone in comics might be on it, but it's worth mentioning right now: Amazon.com will publish 122 books in Fall 2012 in what feels like a major potential disruption of, or at least major addition to, traditional book publishing. The implications seem fairly obvious. What's suggested is that traditional book publishers no longer serve enough of a function to justify the cut of money they grew used to taking under the traditional publishing paradigm.

I think this will be a super-compelling argument for a lot of people. In fact it's so compelling that I think it may fairly blast away the more difficult-to-grasp implications and all the ways that exploitation can begin to rear its ugly head if such relationships become the norm. As always, comics can be said to have already had a wide-ranging discussion of a similar set of issues, in that 20 years ago self-publishing enjoyed a surge of popularity through what was then a decreasing number of physical distributors. I think you'll see a lot of those same, basic issues hashed out here, only magnified by the growing realities of digital publishing.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Lisa Hanawalt Shop

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via Sean T. Collins, I think
 
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Go, Read: Ben Katchor Recommends Five Books At The Browser

imageI believe absolute proof that we're in a very good time for comics exists in the fact that the great Ben Katchor came out with a book this year -- his first in a decade! -- and I have to be occasionally reminded of this. Katchor is also one of two The Comics Journal interviews that got away when I was working at the magazine back in the late 1990s. There is no more consistently smart and compelling cartoonist or talker about his and others' cartooning out there, and it's nice to be reminded of that at any and every opportunity. In this interview at The Browser, Katchor recommends five picture books (his preferred term for comics). They are unsurprisingly intriguing choices, and the discussion goes in some interesting directions about the difficulty and rewards of reading comics, particularly complex ones. If you have a coffee break or something similar this morning, this one would be a good piece to leave open on your browser until then.
 
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Go, Look: Mark Schultz Covers

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Go, Click: A Few Comics-Related Occupy Wall Street Links

imageThere haven't been a lot of proper comics links with a strong connection to the Occupy Wall Street protests, but there are probably enough now to make a short post of it. A couple of days back, CR ran a link to Daryl Cagle's post about Nate Beeler's resoundingly negative cartoons on the protesters. Cagle also offers a more standard cartoon round-up from the cartoonists in his digital syndicate, always a good place to take the temperature of a certain element of public opinion. Tomorrow this David Kearns set of sketchbook images from the New York City event shows up on this site as a Go, Look. Brigid Alverson has a smart post at Robot 6 about the presence of graphic novels in various libraries set up to support the movement. Two very smart writers about comics also chimed in with reactions. Anne Ishii has a semi-lengthy blog post here about her observations heading down to Wall Street. I've seen this photo of Tim Kreider -- also a cartoonist, of course -- holding up a sign with commentary featuring his recognizable lettering style in a lot of places that have no interest in comics at all.
 
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Go, Look: Armed Forces Features Cartoons

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If I Were In Westminster MD, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: The History Of The DC Universe Portfolio

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Kevin Kelly, formerly of G4, was named Managing Editor at Wizard. That's a good hire for them. PR here.

image* I am coming a bit late to Dustin Harbin's tribute to the late Dylan Williams, but it's a good one. I see that the last of the auctions listed at Divine Invasion has now finished. I don't know if it's the last one, really; I mean there's not currently one going. I haven't been linking to any other sites for the auctions because I didn't want to create any additional noise for potential buyers, so if there are other places to access auctions to benefit the family of the publisher and cartoonist, someone please let me know.

* Smoky Man talks to P. Craig Russell. Cyriaque Lamar talks to Brian Wood. Josh Kopin talks to Ryan Kelly. Pedro Cortes talks to Hiro Mashima. Cosmic Hobo talks to Garen Ewing.

* Robert Boyd presents the least safe for work swipe file in the history of swipe files.

* I no longer have the blog set up in a way that makes linking to Mattias Inks every day the easy thing it was for a while there, but it's still a lovely sketch blog and I always enjoy my visits.

* I have no idea why he made it, but this Joe Ollmann portrait of an older Captain Haddock made me laugh.

* A bunch of folks on Love Hina. Chad Nevett on the Fear Itself series. Sean Gaffney on The Drops Of God Vol. 1. Sean T. Collins on Sexbuzz. Grant Goggans on The Bendatti Vendetta. Ted Brown on Z-Time.

* finally, I enjoyed this pair of takes on classic X-Men imagery, but I'm old enough to only remember the first one without thinking about it a bit.
 
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Go, Look: A Couple Of Yardbirds Stories

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Please Help Us Sort Out Our Internet Presence By Liking CR On FB

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October 18, 2011


Go, Look: A Laura Park Recipe Comic At Saveur

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Ted Rall Tweaks American Cancer Society For Seeking Free Work

The cartoonist Ted Rall runs a letter he received from and the letter he sent in return to the American Cancer Society. They wrote Rall and presumably others seeking free work -- immediate free work -- in return for some combination of the exposure and one might guess an endorsement of the organization's charitable goals and outcomes regarding same. This intrigues me because organizations like the American Cancer Society presumably ask for free work all of the time from lots of volunteers.

In an industry where people bizarrely do work for free or with a leveraged-against-them contract for people that are seeking to directly and immediately profit from their work, or at least accrue some sort of status by publishing it, suggesting that standards of pay for play be applied to an organization like this one constitutes a forward position. I do think by paying certain people and not others that organizations like the American Cancer Society open themselves up to this kind of thing, though, for sure, and what percentage of a group's received money and volunteer time go where is a huge issue and due diligence as to this matter should be part of everyone's charitable giving. As I recall, the ACS has specifically been criticized in the past for high organization-to-outlay costs in its regional offices. In general it's highly preferable to demand this sort of respect across the board than not at all.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Booksteve's Bookstore Plus

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one of the best bloggers about comics obscurities now offers such obscurities for sale
 
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Go, Read: The Comics Journal Profiles Jaime Hernandez

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It looks like The Comics Journal will be profiling Jaime Hernandez on the occasion of his stunning comics in Love & Rockets: New Stories #4. Dan Nadel has a piece up here; Frank Santoro and Adrian Tomine chime in here. From the comments it looks like there will be a Jeet Heer article/interview at some point this week as well.

It's satisfying to see a magazine like TCJ fostering discussion of a great comic, and somewhat alarming to see two tired Internet constructions almost immediately rear their head: whether or not Dave Sim did things similar to what Hernandez has done and what this might say about the ongoing dysfunctional drama that is the comics community's reaction to Sim, and whether or not "The Love Bunglers" is ideally suited or somewhat less so for reaching new readers. Hopefully, TCJ can stay mostly on target for the duration of the discussion.

I agree with Nadel, Santoro, Tomine and many of the comment-makers that Jaime Hernandez's new work represents a phenomenal achievement. I'm maybe not as interested in finding its place in the pantheon right this second. There's plenty of time for that down the road. One thing that's exciting and should never be denied about a creative achievement on the level of what Hernandez seems to have given us here is what that work might say to us in the future that it doesn't say right now. Even with someone like Hernandez, whose comics have always come to an audience in a serial form that stresses each work's immediacy and currency, the newer pieces and our accrued experiences change what we think of the already-existing comics. I know for a fact that "The Love Bunglers" will be a different comic five years from now, and everything I know about comics suggests it stands a good chance of being a greater one.

What seems far more important to me than making a forceful claim on these comics' behalf is endorsing Hernandez and his work as vital items of wide-ranging discussion and debate. Talking about great works shouldn't ever need to justify itself, yet we do far too little of it in comics. At the same time, it's clear that Hernandez rolling out this affecting a story at this point in his career triggers a host of potential, additional, valuable conversations. He's a founding member of a phenomenal group of cartoonists that emerged in the 1980s and into the early 1990s that due to the way the industry is constructed in a financial sense now we may never see again. That seems worth noting. The fact that Hernandez has been making great and near-great work for almost 30 years now -- with no end in sight -- with alarming consistency I'd suggest places him in a rare class of pantheon-level comics makers, the titans of the most-lauded newspaper strips and the very finest craftspeople that expressed themselves through various enterprises in mainstream funnybooks. As many point out over at TCJ, this longevity enhances the appeal of Hernandez's work, part of the cartoonist's vastly undervalued skill at making the best of different formats and presentations (neither of the last two issues' worth of Hernandez's comics would have hit as hard spread out over several serial comic books). With their largely humane themes -- the power of memory to control our present, the heartbreak of sudden violence, the struggle to overcome one's own emotional limitations when negotiating them no longer seems possible -- Hernandez's comics are in many ways an antidote to all the things that drive comics fans nuts despite their seeming appetite for wallowing in such things for weeks, months, years on end. Sexism in comics is always worth fighting because sexism is pernicious and harmful and thus worth calling into question every time it's encountered, but for many adult fans part of the solution really is to put down the terrible comic that enrages you and buy something like Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 for its fragile, sympathetic portraits of a wide range of human experiences. Jaime Hernandez is also an unparalleled craftsman, one of the last to combine a hard-won set of uncompromising values regarding the execution of comics pages with the number of pages accomplished necessary to become one of those touchstones himself. His work speaks to the distressing shallowness of boiling comics down to concepts and ideas that can be sold into other media in a way that flatters those writers that best stand to benefit. His line work crackles with meaning and import.

An additional thing that strikes me when you look at Jaime Hernandez's career, something with implications for the field entire, is how rare his kind of sustained, idiosyncratic expression has become in an art form where once upon a time it seemed the value of finding the one major vehicle for your life's work was something so clearly understood it almost didn't get discussed. Much has been and will be made as to how these new Jaime Hernandez comics call on plots and characters and narratives from years gone by. That's not a criticism. We can't let that be a criticism. Let me suggest that it's outright bracing to read a cartoonist that isn't negotiating with a perceived, ideal readership but simply making the comics he wants to make as great as he can make them. God bless any cartoonist -- any artist -- that in following their creative impulses chooses to ignore the growing chorus of bleats that art be made easy and meet us not at our point of need but however it's easiest for us to gobble it up. At this point in the remarkable career of Jaime Hernandez, we should all be doing whatever it takes to get to him, not the other way around. It's a privilege to be reading, writing and thinking about comics while he's in the process of making them.
 
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Go, Look: Poc Poc Poc Poc Poc

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that's the basic link to the story as I can't make the specific link work; you'll have to scroll down to see the new stuff
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* here are some details on a forthcoming Andi Watson release, Gum Girl.

image* Vanessa Davis drew an F. Scott Fitzgerald story.

* there were plenty of worthy publishing announcements at New York Comic Con that didn't make yesterday's top ten list. One is the reformation of Rob Liefeld's Extreme Studios imprint/publishing mechanism, to include work from Brandon Graham, Ross Campbell and unused scripts from Alan Moore. Liefeld was given a wee bit too much credit in terms of stepping in and hiring Moore after the writer's unsuccessful self-publishing forays -- there were others first -- but Moore's work there was the start of another rich phase of genre exploration. Here's a panel coverage piece on Vertigo's upcoming titles.

* David Hine and Shaky Kane will be teaming for a follow-up on their Bulletproof Coffin.

* an Ethan Hawke-written graphic novel drawn by Greg Ruth has landed at Hyperion.

* those of you that had "a science fiction story with a monkey robot" in the Frederik Peeters pool for what the cartoonist would be doing ten years after Blue Pills nailed it.

* you'd think more people would want the fire guy on their team. Or maybe working with a fire guy is sort of a pain in the butt.

* Marvel will be doing Dexter graphic novels, featuring the involvement of the character's creator.

* Graeme McMillan writes on how disappointing it would be if rumors of a big event for Marvel next Spring merely means yet another relaunch of the Avengers title with writer Brian Michael Bendis. I wrote the previous sentence last week, and it turns out McMillan can be half-disappointed. There will be an Avengers title as he worried, but the big event is looking like the return of the Phoenix character.

* finally, CBR has a look at some finished-looking pages and the dueling covers for the Brubaker/Philips Fatale series announced at NYCC. A couple of you have written in to suggest that there's a story in that pair taking this title to Image when their Criminal is firmly ensconced at Marvel/Icon. To be honest with you, I haven't read the promotional/announcement pieces yet and has assumed that matter was addressed in one of them.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Lovely Jack Burnley Golden Age Superman Pages

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

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

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Go, Look: Weird Science-Fantasy Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Chris Butcher writes what I think is a near pitch-perfect piece about why he regrets seeing the print Shonen Jump go. Something I haven't seen a lot of people talk about is if comics go on-line is whether this limits the readership to those who can afford the machines on which they can be viewed.

image* I'm not much of an original art buyer, but it seems to me that the buy it now option on these P. Craig Russell Batman pages yields some art at really, really affordable prices.

* Stephan Pastis tells us something about Alice Otterloop most have likely long expected.

* Chris Randle on The Great Northern Brotherhood Of Canadian Cartoonists. Mark Medley on Daybreak. Sharayah Read on Chew #21. Johanna Draper Carlson on the DC Super-Pets line, Love Hina Omnibus Vol. 1, The Meaning Of Life And Other Stuff and various other comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Action Comics Weekly #610 and a selection of kids' books. John Kane on Avengers 1959 #1. Greg McElhatton on Three #2. Don MacPherson on Action Comics #2. Rob Clough on Fugue #1-2 and Grump Toast. Katherine Dacey on X.

* I'd like to more strongly recommend this post with images of Mort Meskin pencils, because I don't think I've seen a lot of that artist's pencil work, but they're scanned in at a really, really small size.

* Cyriaque Lamar talks to Jeff Lemire. Jen Vaughn talks to Beth Hetland. Tasha Robinson talks to Kate Beaton. Tim O'Shea talks to Andrew Foley.

* Andrea Queirolo contrasts the art styles employed by Ludovic Debeurme in the books Lucille and Renée.

* not comics: Mike Sterling may have uncovered the all-time greatest superhero tie-in piece of merchandising.

* not comics: Mark Evanier answers something I was wondering: who won this year's Comic-Con Icon Award at the Scream ceremony thrown by Spike TV? It was June Foray.

* finally, Charles Hatfield explores the 21st century alternative/independent comics landscape in two parts.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Sam Henderson!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Larry Pickering!

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Please Help Us Sort Out Our Internet Presence By Liking CR On FB

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October 17, 2011


Go, Bookmark: Bezembinder's Illustrated Links

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Ten NYCC 2011 Comics Industry News Stories Of Interest

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New York Comic Con was this last weekend. With it -- or at least arriving at roughly the same time -- came a flurry of publishing news announcements from publishers large and small. Here are a few that I thought worth a second glance. These are in no particular order.

1. Viz makes plans to phase out print edition of Shonen Jump in favor of digital Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha.
There were a lot of digital comics announcement at NYCC, which is likely the new status quo for such shows (or certainly should be the rage for the immediate time being). For example, Dark Horse doing digital comics aimed at the gaming audience seems smart to me, for as little as I know about how digital comics and comics for gaming audiences work. Marvel releasing a new app for a significant platform is the kind of thing that seems like it's always important. Ditto the IDW library coming to comiXology. This announcement sounds like what Warren Ellis was talking about in terms of a way for comics publisher to load material onto devices without the reader having to seek it out -- whether or not that specifically hits may not be as important than comics slowly circling a way of doing business that could be beneficial in the long run.

Still, Viz offering a digital version of Shonen Jump that comes out a (I'm supposing) pirates-frustrating two weeks after the initial Japanese magazine publishing is worth noting for its major print consequence: the ending of one of the five US comics titles of any kind during the previous decade, Shonen Jump. The role that magazine played in bringing popular manga series to a significant US audience, in making US publishers sit up and take notice in a way they never would have for thousands upon thousand of Sailor Moon or Tezuka books and in bringing comics to parts of the countries that publishers like Marvel and DC largely abandoned in the 1990s during the stupidity of the Distributor Wars era cannot be understated. I enjoyed picking up a copy for years whenever I went to the grocery, and I imagine that if I were in the town I am now at the age of eight years old, it would have been a comics lifeline.

image2. DC unveils its second Superman: Earth One cover, and it's kidtastic!
There's nothing all that newsworthy except in that standard, breathless, fan way about DC Comics unveiling a cover image for a second of its stand-alone Superman OGN series featuring a version of the character aimed in some fashion at newer readers. We pay attention to it, however, because the recent initial success of the line-wide revamp of DC's serial comic books re-contextualizes the success of this stand-alone Superman series' first book as a kind of anticipating event to the more dramatic, 52 comic book effort.

It's also sort of gross and not exactly kid-friendly, two things which probably haven't been a concern of DC's since I'd say the mid-1980s, and certainly stopped being one when they saw that most parents were happy to take their kids along -- at full ticket price -- to that Batman movie a couple of years back featuring the scary, homicidal, killing-people-with-writing-implements Joker. I'm not even saying that's a bad strategy. In fact, there's something clever about DC attempting to seize a market it has some success in recent decades serving as opposed to insisting on 1958's audience for the character -- it's one of the few times when a character being targeted to a specific audience really fails to convince as an attempt to seize the mainstream, as such moves are generally portrayed. It also should be marked in case DC slowly reverts back to the other model, as there's some evidence that they may over time bounce between those conceptions rather than stick to one or the other.

3. Diamond is attempting to coordinate a second Free Comic Book Day to coincide with Halloween.
I couldn't tell you if this is a good move or not from any individual retailer's standpoint. I imagine that for some retailers this will be a welcome thing, and for others it won't be -- just as May's established FCBD event has become. As a semi-interested outside observer with generally fond thoughts aimed in the direction of comics retail, I don't like it all that much. I think a second FCBD potentially dilutes the established event, and I don't know that there isn't a better way for a holiday growing in retail significance like Halloween to be employed than to aim all those potential customers at "free." I also think that in the long run individual retailers are going to be better able to figure out how to serve their communities than going to a pretty regimented and established program. I even sort of wish that the mini-comics giveaway movement had found some traction, as that was at least a different thing.

All that said, all of my points almost certainly suffer from the fact that a working program with FCBD's pedigree is probably going to be way more effective overall, particularly in the short term, than a patchwork of smaller efforts that haven't really cohered into anything major over the last several years. I'm also interested in seeing what happens with a digital version of FCBD that is likely to settle into place as a major thing starting with next year's program.

4. DC's Vertigo line will be moving to releasing digital versions for many titles on the same day as those titles' print versions.
As I've stated many times I think it makes perfect sense for comics to come out in as many iterations as possible on the same day, and I think this should have been done years ago in a matter-of-fact way. The only alternative seemed to be to establish a hard expectation of a standard delay between versions, and when that never developed, it made these kinds of moves seem inevitable. One question I have is if we're not going to see DC relaunch its Vertigo and kids lines next September -- or the September after -- as a natural follow-up to its New 52 efforts, with the same kind of "these are the comics we're publishing and this is how they're publishing" establishment of an easier-to-follow status quo type of effect on those lines. That of course presumes those lines have some significance within the company, and there are definitely folks out there that would question that thought.

5. Ann Nocenti returns to writing comics with DC's Green Arrow title.
There are multiple ways to enter into this piece of publishing news about the former (mostly-) Marvel editor and writer heading back into serial comics creation. You can point out the dearth of female writers in mainstream comics generally and DC's line specifically. You can suggest that fans' complaints about the latter perhaps made a difference in this hire. You can suggest the same thing about some fans' complaints concerning the Green Arrow comic book. I think it's most interesting to me in terms of Nocenti's career as a comics writer. Her work on Marvel's late '80s/early '90s Daredevil in particular has grown in reputation since she was writing it, as a solid example of making a title memorable without closely adhering to a character's most popular stories and themes. The major characters she created have also grown a bit in retrospect, and remain serviceable today. I imagine those particular skills are something that a lot of DC titles could use right now. It's strange to me that even with comics' inherent stupidities someone with those specific talents has gone such a long time since reasonably high-profile gigs, although I have no idea how much of that was her choice.

6. PJ Holden skips the show.
This is also not a news item in an of itself, but I think it's something worth noting anyway. The artist Paul Holden decided not to go this year's New York Comic Con for various professional reasons, and ended up spending the long weekend facing down a variety of family health issues. This put him in mind of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations going on at the same time as the con. He wrote maybe the only blog post I've seen that connected comics issues to the issues of concern to the protesters in a non-facile, non-ridiculous way. As much as comics folks feel compelled to attend shows, and as much as those in the commentary class are compelled to write about them as a combination of big crowds and bigger parties, the freelancer life can be a very difficult one and there's something deeply scary about the way North American comics culture now has a significant network of great shows and almost no dialogue on health care options for all the people that make such shows possible.

7. Comics for kids remain big news, at least at comics shows.
There were at least two significant announcement for kids comics at NYCC this year. The first is APE Entertainment leaking that it's negotiating with the Sesam Street people for a line of comics related to that iconic Boomer enterprise. The other is one of those Stan Lee partnerships leading to a new line of kids comics, this one bearing the comics impresario's name. I'm sure there are any number of individual comics announced in this category, too. I'm also certain that many kids comics were promoted, for instance First Second and its brand-new release Nursery Rhyme Comics.

The cynical thing to say is that announcements at shows are sometimes the highlight for such publishing efforts. That isn't always necessarily true anymore. A better way to look at it, I think, is that kids' comics along with superhero comics are probably comics biggest area of unrealized sales potential. The argument there is that we have sales of certain kinds of comics that match a reasonable expectation of what those comics might ever sell, while one can more easily conceive of the comics featuring guys with capes and the comics for kids selling more than they do now. It's also probably worth mentioning that the more efforts that come into being the greater a chance is that a few of them hit, so in that way every such announcement encourages.

image8. Ed Brubaker announces an Image series; Brian Wood settles in at Dark Horse.
These are, of course, two separate and pretty standard publishing announcements. The prolific team of writer Brubaker and his best collaborator, the artist Sean Phillips, announced a noir/Lovecraftian type of series for Image Comics called Fatale, while the NYCC-aggressive Dark Horse Comics announced that Brian Wood will be doing a run of Conan with his significant collaborator the artist Becky Cloonan, featuring the pair's adaptation of Queen Of The Black Coast. There are a lot of ways to interpret these announcements, from the fact they're pretty promising for fans that like to read quality genre comic books to the role that Image might play as an option for some projects and some creators to the idea that Dark Horse might benefit from going a bit more slightly away from the Thomas/Smith/Buscema model for their world-famous barbarian character license now that they're further along in their relationship publishing new comic book serials featuring him.

What popped for me, though, was the fact that Brubaker and Wood are prominent writers of comic books, and both of a specific and reasonably large generation of emerging talents that came from comics themselves. I'm a great believer in masses of talented people making a difference in comics history, especially when it may be that we're not likely to see another big group emerge from the ooze of comics culture like that one any time soon (we'd have to have another late '90s/early '00s fallow commercial period and walk back the appeal of writing comics to established creators). In that context, I think the fact that these two creators are finding new things to do, with new publishers, is well worth noting.

9. Marvel announces another Avengers title, Avengers Assemble, which will employ many of the same characters used in the forthcoming movie.
I like Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley as superhero comics makers and as comics industry stories, and I imagine a lot of fans will find their doing an Avengers title featuring the movie line-up sans Thor an appealing prospect. However, you can't look at news like this and not think for at least a few seconds that Marvel seems to be risking burnout on the Avengers concept in terms of its long-term, anchor-their-line qualities in much the same way that multiple X-Men titles likely contributed to the combination of rigid fan expectation and story exhaustion the once industry-leading, mutant-related franchise currently exhibits. The one thing that speaks against this, kind of ironically if you think about it, is that the Avengers of all the big Marvel properties comes with the least amount of built-in, fundamental story elements. Stated another way, it's hard to burn out on the theme of Avengers when there aren't really any thematic concerns, even the fake ones that Marvel sometimes trots out to make the writer's role in their concepts' creation look more important than their brilliant 1960s execution. That title's concept was always sort of "everybody team up," and it's unclear if folks could ever really burn out on that one.

10. Abrams acquires SelfMadeHero.
A letter of intent by Abrams to purchase the UK outfit SelfMadeHero was announced the eve of the show rather than at New York Comic-Con, but I assume the timing was so that the move wouldn't be lost in the crush of news to come and to provide Abrams with some additional focus at the show itself. It's a classic convention announcement, though, even though the standard model for comics publishers the last two decades has been to start from scratch on just about any publishing initiative rather than purchase someone who's good at what it is they do.

One way to look at this move gives Abrams a kind of comics-focused mid-list, and it also cements the UK publisher as something other than a publisher of cool-looking music comics or possibly for some as that group that acquires certain European licenses a bit before most North American counterparts wake up to the possibility that A, B, C book is out there. The announced list for Spring 2012 includes a book from Javier Mariscal and I believe the first of the great David B.'s long-rumored efforts to directly engage wider Middle East issues in comics form.

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Go, Look: D'Israeli And Some Classic Monster Designs

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thx, Matthew Badham
 
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Your 2011 Scream Award Comics Category Winners

The Scream Awards, sponsored by that manly cable television network SPIKE and featuring the only televised awards ceremony to which comics people are routinely invited, has announced its 2011 winners in various categories including the comics-related ones. Winners below in bold.

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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. The October 15 show was taped for broadcast on the network on October 18 and, one assumes, a couple of times after that.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: A Todd Klein And Shawn McManus Boardgame Print

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

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Go, Look: EC Miscellanea

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Craig Fischer promotes a forthcoming event about Jack Kirby and his heirs' various legal issues and makes several points about the difference between legal and moral obligation.

image* this panel is from a beautiful page up for a now-complete auction to benefit the family of Dylan Williams, but there are more such auctions that will pop up here.

* Tom Kaczynski remembers MOME.

* Bart Croonenborghs on Little Book Of Beatles, Midgard Vol. 1 and The Sponge Salesman. Cory Doctorow on Agatha H And The Airship City. Robyn Creswell on Habibi.

* this is a very nice coda to the story of the man whose Superman collection had been stolen for a while.

* not comics: I knew there were rumors that the Affleck/Clooney/Damon trio was going to do Argo, but I didn't know the movie was coming out next year or that they've cast a Jack Kirby.

* the New York Times' City Room blog profiles Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier in a way that should make every person want to part of a cartooning couple, no matter if they're a cartoonist or not.

image* Colin Smith suggests that DC has gone 180 degrees on its portrayal of the John Stewart Green Lantern character. Sometimes I think there should be some version of Bill Simmons' "Veep of Common Sense" at those companies for major and unnecessary changes like this, but they'd probably only ever hire really freaky continuity obsessives.

* not comics: nothing good will come of covering this poor fellow, I bet. I will say it's sort of interesting to me that I lived in Seattle for about a decade and I can't recall ever thinking that crime was so bad that we needed people fighting it in costumes, or even a bunch of angry, chubby teenagers in red berets or whatever. I knew people that were mugged, of course, or suffered from other types of crime, and while that was always awful it never seemed like so many that a drastic change in the form of a counteracting force might be desirable. In contrast, my memory of cities like Indianapolis, Denver and Chicago in the late 1970s did sort of match that kind of thinking. I wonder how much of the modern superhero formula is still rooted in a late-1970s/early-1980s conception of society's dangers without our realizing it?

* Tom Hart talks about spending the afternoon with Derek Ballard.

* Jen Vaughn chimes in with a full and detailed report on ICAF. There haven't been a lot of reports on ICAF since they separated from SPX, really.

* finally, I imagine that a page potentially one day full of sketchbook imagery from Alexis Frederick-Frost is one worth bookmarking.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Bill Holbrook!

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Happy 37th Birthday, David Heatley!

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Please Help Us Sort Out Our Internet Presence By Liking CR On FB

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October 16, 2011


Go, Look: A 2006 Shaenon Garrity Post On Gluyas Williams

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no idea how this one ended up in the bookmarks, but who cares? it's gorgeous!
 
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Go, Look: Bill Sienkiewicz's Facebook Wall Photos Section

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Go, Look: The Perfect Egyptian Breakfast

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

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

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

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I usually don't post facebook pages, and the graphic is too small and therefore super-ugly, but I understand that it's a really small show
 
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Happy 85th Birthday, Joe Sinnott!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Bob Hall!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Larry Young!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Mark Badger!

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FFF Results Post #271 -- Up And Coming

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Recommend Five Comics Creators Still In Some Arguable Way In That Establishing Themselves Phase." This is how they responded.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Joseph Lambert
2. Emily Carroll
3. Theo Ellsworth
4. Lisa Hanawalt
5. Lilli Carré

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Jon Vermilyea
2. Lindsey Lea
3. Kelly Clancy
4. Susie Cagle
5. Jeffrey Lewis -- Been doing it since 1998, but totally invisible to the comics community. Learned about him by listening to the BBC.

*****

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Max Fischer

1. Noel Friebert
2. Jane Mai
3. Øyvind Thorsby
4. Patrick Kyle
5. Jonny Negron

*****

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Eric Reynolds

1. Tom Kaczynski
2. Lilli Carré
3. Joseph Lambert
4. Jesse Moynihan
5. Leslie Stein

*****

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Charles Brownstein

1) Ariyana Suvarnasuddhi
2) Edie Fake
3) Matt Wiegle
4) Trevor Alixopulos
5) Leslie Stein

*****

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Rob Clough

1. Noah Van Sciver
2. Julia Wertz
3. Michael DeForge
4. Sarah Glidden
5. Ethan Rilly

*****

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Ryan Cecil Smith

* Lane Milburn
* Andy C. Jenkins
* Akira Nishitake
* Laura Knetzger
* Jane Mai

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Drew Weing
2. Tom Gauld
3. Kurt Wolfgang
4. Matthew Allison
5. Matt Wiegle

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) Ed Choy Moorman
2) Henry Eudy
3) Rich Barrett
4) Lupi
5) Kevin Cannon

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Emily Horne & Joey Comeau
2. Megan Rose Gedris
3. David Malki
4. Kenny Keil
5. Barron Storey

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

* Moritat
* Michel Fiffe
* Eric Canete
* Chad Thomas
* Ming Doyle

*****

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Alan David Doane

1. Drew Weing
2. Jason Marcy
3. Corrine Mucha
4. Diana Tamblyn
5. Jasen Lex

*****

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M. Emery

1. Jesse Moynihan
2. Bobby N
3. Mat Tait
4. Mandy Ord
5. Natalia Hernandez

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Eleanor Davis
2. Tom Kaczynski
3. Derek Van Gieson
4. T. Edward Bak
5. Noah Van Sciver

*****

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Dustin Harbin

1) Andrew Schick
2) Adam Muto
3) Zac Gorman
4) Roman Muradov
5) Ryan Pequin

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Jose Luis Olivares
2. J P Beaty
3. Edie Fake
4. Ryan Cecil Smith
5. Austin English

*****

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Derik A. Badman

1. Jason Overby
2. Oliver East
3. Julie Delporte
4. Simon Moreton
5. Aidan Koch

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Natalie Nourigat
2. Megan Levens
3. Dan Christensen
4. Annie Wu
5. Terry Blas

*****

topic suggested by John Platt; thanks, John

The fun thing about this topic for me is that everyone has a definition of what this kind of cartoonist is like and who fits that category. I could make a million such lists and never would think of Barron Storey as an artist establishing himself. But to each his own. Even in my own case, as this list was posted about a year ago there are now two cartoonists on my five I would never consider for inclusion right now because I feel they've more than arrived.

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


A Chris Ware Video


Trailer For Troop 142
via


A New Tom Gammill Learn To Draw Episode
via


A Brief Chat With Dean Haspiel



Two Promotional Videos For Mat Brinkman Art Heavy Board Game Cave Evil
via


Signing Featuring Spain Rodriguez


A Joe Ollmann Video
 
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October 15, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from October 8 to October 14, 2011:

1. A jury found former prominent Pennsylvania comics retailer and convention organizer Michael George guilty of 1st Degree Murder in the 1990 slaying of his then-wife Barbara in their Michigan comics store. This was the second conviction for George -- a 2008 judgment was set aside by that trial's presiding judge when he saw what he consider malfeasance from the prosecutor's office in withholding information about other possible suspects. The jury took parts of two days and an entire third to come to their decision. George's alibi that he had been sleeping on his mother's couch at the time was countered by a witness and some earlier testimony by George's mother. George is 51 years old.

2. Sparkplug Comic Books will continue for the time being -- at least in terms of selling already published books -- with Emily Nilsson, Tom Neely and Virginia Paine running the company. The publisher lost its founder and driving force Dylan Williams to cancer in September.

3. Books-A-Million, currently the second biggest physical bookstore chain and a partner with Barnes & Noble on their digital reading program, joins B&N in pulling DC Comics efforts from its shelves that DC made available exclusively to the new Amazon.com kindle device for at least the holiday season. I think this is more sound & fury, allowing these companies to send a message to other publishers that might consider an exclusive on a more crucial sales item that would need their bookshelves more than DC does with those older books right now.

Winners Of The Week
Chan Lowe and the late Doug Marlette. I'm a sucker for Halls of Fame, and I love the fact that Oklahoma has its own.

Loser Of The Week
Whatever person at the Obama campaign came up with the idea of having a contest that is making people work for free at the onset of a presidential campaign that's going to be primarily focused on job creation.

Quote Of The Week
"It's not a growing field. If I pay attention to it too closely, I get depressed." -- Richard Thompson, on the newspaper strip business.

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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The 2003 Book I Co-Wrote About Stan Lee Is A Nook Special

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just October 15, apparently, part of a promotion they do called the daily find
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 39th Birthday, Cat Garza!

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Go, Read: John Wilcock: New York Years, 1957-1971

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October 14, 2011


Go, Look: Matt Bors On Those Similar Steve Jobs RIP Cartoons

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Cul-De-Sac Leads New Cartoon Wave At Miami Herald

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This article on changes with the cartoon offerings at the Miami Herald focuses on Richard Thompson and his Cul-De-Sac strip in a way that I think is very encouraging. Everyone knows that the newspaper strip market is historically tough and has become in the last decade tougher than ever for its shrinking nature. I would suggest that a strip like Cul-De-Sac is particularly vulnerable to how the market has evolved. Its pleasures are in the drawing and in the droll nature of the humor -- it's not a blank-slate launching pad for clever gags. This makes it a tough sell to a market that frequently depends on polls and try-outs to see if strips catch on or not.

Articles like the one in the Herald suggest a different strategy of putting Cul-De-Sac in the paper with a commitment to it for a decent amount of time based on its past reviews and the general enthusiasm it's generated from peers and other papers carrying the material. That's the way everyone used to do it, really. I hope this kind of thing continues, and that Cul-De-Sac gains as many clients as it needs for Thompson to get the maximum enjoyment out of doing it.

Also, basically, I wanted a chance to run what may be the only comic strip episode in history to employ the word "trebuchet."
 
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Go, Look: Celestial Vs. Terrestrial

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Chan Lowe, Doug Marlette Enter Oklahoma Cartoonists HOF

My favorite cartooning hall of fame -- the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall Of Fame -- will induct two fairly big names into its ranks a week from today: widely syndicated and deeply respected editorial cartoonist Chan Lowe and the late Doug Marlette of both editorial cartoon and newspaper strip (Kudzu) fame. Although rightly linked to South Florida where he's made most of his professional impact, Lowe got his start in the 1970s and 1980s in the Sooner State. Marlette was working for the Tulsa World for about a year when he met his single-auto car accident fate in 2007. There's nothing about this story I don't like.
 
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Go, Look: Carl Anderson's Pre-Henry Strip Herr Spiegleberger

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Not Comics: Tintin Movie Sneaks In France To Positive Reviews

imageYou can read a summary article here, or just start poking around: The Adventures Of Tintin played yesterday to a coterie of French-language film critics in advance of its October 22 opening, and most seemed to like what they saw. The obvious joke to make is that the approval of the French doubly dooms the movie in terms of its chances with US audiences -- a market where the film faces an uphill climb in terms of all-ages material and the general audience rejection of that sometimes creepy 3-D animation style that thus far has produced some of the most excruciating, ponderous cartoon movies in history. I've always seen the Tintin movie as a no-lose situation: if it's good, I would enjoy seeing a quality adaptation of that material. Those Tolkien films from a decade ago fairly beat out of my head the notion that movies need to be absolutely faithful to the source material for me to enjoy them. If it's bad, or just doesn't hit, the majority of the people involved have several lifetimes' worth of success each and won't have any of their careers altered in any significant way by one stinker. You also can't say the books haven't already found an audience.

For what it's worth, the majority of the pieces I read this morning were thumbs up on Andy Serkis' Captain Haddock and thumbs down on the Frost/Pegg team playing Thomson and Thompson.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Mars Looks Worse Than Venus, Even

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Brett Warnock either reminds or announces that From Hell is now available in a wide variety of digital forms.

image* not to get all Grandpa Simpson about it, but there was a time when Prince Valiant was one of the great thrills of geek life, coming as it did once a week in a world that didn't cater to those interests every single moment of every single day. (If you were lucky, you got a PV in the morning with some fighting in it and Wide World Of Disney that night featured cartoons rather than some live-action movie.) Those Prince Valiants are still lovely, rewarding strips and the books are great; the artistic achievement's the same. It just strikes me that the change in context really alters the enthusiasm with which readers greet Hal Foster's work, maybe more than with any other comic in history.

* it's good to read that Gabrielle Bell will start posting new comics to her web site at some point. It's not like you can greet their absence with a complaint given that right before leaving the site for a while she did like umpty-billion comics in a row, but it's just nice to read some comics will be posted there. Her comic published on-line here I believe leads off the new Best American Comics volume.

* who is Stanley Martin Lieber?

* not comics: this piece about a potential decline in anchor franchises coming from works of fantasy is really scattered. It also fails to mention that we don't just live in the media world of the last 20 years where super-spending was merely frowned upon but in the post-Hangover world where cheaper movies may be outright preferred by studios. I also don't think general audiences make the same hard distinctions that the author or hardcore prose fantasy fans might make about whether something like the Harry Potter books really are fantasy or not -- I would imagine that if all you had was 10 years of multiple Harry Potter like films, most people would see that as a sustained fantasy-movie boom and I'd agree with them over the objections of some guy in a captain's hat at the used bookstore. Still, I think it's an article worth reading because any decline in big-time fantasy franchises no matter how they're defined could have a major impact on the conventions where these kinds of movies exhibit and promote.

* bear and rabbit, rabbit and bear, friends forever and never a care.

* Nicole Rudick talks to Kate Beaton. Andy Burns talks to Robin Furth. Bart Croonenborghs profiles Peter Pontiac. Dwight Garner profiles Art Spiegelman and his new MetaMaus.

image* there's a very long article here about the depiction of women in superhero comics. The best parts are the nuts and bolts of how to execute certain effects in the midst of one of those stories; the worst parts careen into lectures of the obvious. It's a nice snapshot of each creative person as well as an extended essay on the subject. I still stand by my minor confusion caused by a gut feeling that just creating good comics might be the overriding issue and that it's odd to kind of separate out aspects like this as if they were distinct, stand-alone issues to the extent that this kind of treatment of the images and portrayals suggests they are. It doesn't seem to me like any creative choice is off the table if compelling art is the result, and that the first and foremost result of the criticized portrayals in those DC Comics is that they fail to contribute to anything resembling that end. In other words, to say it once again: maybe these are just bad comics. Update: Gabe Roth sent in a letter disagreeing with this position here. It's very heartfelt and eloquently stated, and I urge you to read it.

* someone out there might find it interesting that the ad for that next Kindle features two DC offerings. Speaking of DC, they're getting a lot of mileage out of this press release that says they sold 5 million comics in 6 weeks. That's a lot of comics. And I have to admit, that is an actual number for a change.

* Win Wiacek on Nuts. Rob Clough on something or other by Ben Horak. Sean T. Collins on Daybreak. Ted Brown on Graveyard Of Empires #1. Erica Friedman on Oshioki!. Katherine Dacey on The Legend Of Mother Sarah. David P. Welsh on Stargazing Dog.

* finally, I'm sure it wasn't intended in a way that made me laugh, but this Immonens post on NYCC got a laugh out of me anyway.
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, Cam Kennedy!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Vanessa Davis!

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October 13, 2011


Go, Bookmark: Keith's Dailies

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Albert Weinberg, 1922-2011

imageAlbert Weinberg, the Belgian artist behind the long-running album series Dan Cooper, passed away on September 29. He was 89 years old.

Weinberg was born in Liège, Belgium in 1922. He studied law before World War 2, planning on a career in international law before the disruptions of war brought to Europe. After the war, he worked odd jobs and eventually found more sustained employment as an artist, initially signing on for work as an assistant to one of the great artists of French-language realist comics, Victor Hubinon. In a scenario that should be familiar to young cartoonists today, Weinberg became part of a recognized, rising generation of cartoonists working in Brussels in the late 1940s and for a time shared a house with some of his fellow new breed. The artist's first assignment for Hubinon was assisting the established cartoonist on his iconic Buck Danny series, and his first major gig at the studio was a total takeover of Hubinon's series Joe La Tornade.

A prolific illustrator for magazines and newspapers, Weinberg contributed art to two major science fiction series for the short-lived post-war publishing imprint Heroic-Albums from the late 1940s into the 1950s: Luc Condor (which ran from 1949 to 1954) and Roc Meteor.

Weinberg began working for Tintin in 1950. He is credited with having contributed to various group efforts on projects for the magazine and for contributing in anonymous fashion to projects by Edgar Pierre Jacobs and Paul Cuvelier.

Weinberg is best and most rightly known for the creation of the long-running Dan Cooper series, for which he would eventually create some 2000 pages of comics art. Cooper was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and his adventures featured both Weinberg's lauded drawings of aircraft but elements that bordered on science fiction. A key few volumes in the first eight featured contributions by former Weinberg collaborator Jean-Michel Charlier, who I believe is primarily credited for fleshing out the supporting cast. The series launched in 1954 as a serial with the storyline Le Triangle Bleu and in 1957 began publication with that story in album form. The series would run to 1992 under its primary creator, going through a pretty standard progression of off-and-on production, diversification in terms of talent involved, the occasional spin-off and multiple publishers. Beginning in 2000, Editions du Lombard re-published the entire series of Dan Cooper albums in twelve books.

Twenty-five million Dan Cooper books have been sold, and the work was translated into fifteen languages.

In 1962, Weinberg created his second most prominent series, Alain Landier, and in 1973 his Baraccuda appeared in the German magazine Zack. He created two series for the Belgian daily Le Soir: The Viscount and L'Aquanautes. Weinberg worked with consistency until about 2004 on short stories; his last work was published in 2010.

Weinberg lived for a quarter century in Geneva. His daughter took to a career in his road not taken: international law.

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Go, Look: Anna Maria De Palmenaer

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many of these are naughty
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* starting today is New York Comic Con, Reed's popular New York comics and pop culture show. The show has carved a significant identity for itself in just a few years: as an East Coast alternative to the summer's Comic-Con International, as the last major comic book show of its type during the calendar year, as a Halloween-season cosplay-arama; as a place for significant specialty programming for anime/manga and comics' pop culture cradle generally, as an easy place for New York publishing houses with a comics arm to exhibit; as a a place for British creators to come and meet fans and potential employers that's a bit of a shorter plane flight than southern California, as a mainstream-focused industry show, and as a chance for comics creators of all kinds to hit the traditional English-language comics publishing center of the universe and drink every last bottle of booze in sight. NYCC gathers all of its customer-friendly information here.

* if you're at NYCC, please take some time to go and support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in some way. Another favorite comics cause is MoCCA, which has a booth set-up and a bunch of stuff planned as well.

* here's where you can find Jason Aaron at NYCC. I mention this and not a lot of other NYCC individual where-they-are posts because the one NYCC I attended Mr. Aaron was very nice to me, a total stranger. If you have a favorite comics-maker, and you're headed to NYCC -- tickets are either scarce or sold out depending on the day, so this is something you should have planned in advance -- check out that favorite comics-maker's web presence for what is sure to be a similar update.

* on the other hand, Mr. Chris Butcher is staying home.

* with Art Spiegelman, Michael Kupperman, Seth and Dan Clowes among the cartoonists currently on the road, it's a busy season for big-name signings and creator appearances. The D+Q blog has a nice, photo-filled report up on a recent visit to Montreal by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly.

* missed it: a report on the Casanova art show at Floating World.

* this is my new favorite comics show.

* the writer Gail Simone enthuses about last week's Geek Girl Con in Seattle. I'm all for smaller shows with a special focus; they add a lot to the overall festival/con landscape and should be encouraged where they pop up.

* here's a report from a stop on Jim Ottaviani's tour in support of his Richard Feynman biography.

* finally, this Facebook set might be the best convention photo set ever. I assume this is Kokomo, Indiana; it certainly looks like Kokomo.
 
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Go, Look: Sarah Becan In Saveur

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Not Comics: Obama Campaign Poster Contest Angers Designers

The cartoonist and Matt Bors is heavily quoted in this piece on notorious free-labor benefiting web site Huffington Post about the Obama campaign holding a contest where artists are asked to submit work for free in support of the president's job plan and re-election. I think Bors comes across as very smart in the piece, and of course he's right: this is the opposite of creating jobs, you don't hold spec contests with your plumber. In addition to Bors' participation, there should be some comics-related interest in the general subject matter of doing work for free. This is a difficult subject for a lot of artists and even writers in the mainstream end of comics, with reactions ranging to outright acquiescence as a nod to the low threshold of participation and high want-to represented by rare creative opportunities in the field to an artist recently basically quitting work in North American comics due to constant changes being requested and the addition work it required. The reaction of some fans, of course, was to mock the artist for being too big for his britches.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: John Buscema, The Lost Drawings

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this remembrance of Roger Brand by Kim Deitch is astounding.

* here's an enthusiastic re-telling of the recent Satish Acharya story, with an emphasis on its positive outcome.

image* people sure love it when someone draws some Jack Kirby-character heavy mash-ups. I'm with the people on that one.

* was second-guessing decisions people make with their lives always a part of autobiographical comics, or is that new? Sheesh.

* Dan Morrill takes a survey of his options in the post-Haven world, and notes that even with those options it will be difficult to find certain books.

* Adam Tedaldi talks to Justin Pasion. Jorge Solis talks to Robert Kirkman. Julia Keller talks to Dan Clowes and Seth. Dave Weigel talks to Mike Allred. Michael Bonesteel talks to Seth and Dan Clowes. Elizabeth Tai talks to Sonny Liew. Dave Richards talks to Humberto Ramos. Geoff Boucher talks to Gary Groth. Michael May talks to Aaron Renier. Vaneta Rogers talks to Dan Jurgens.

* this interview with a former comic book pirate has been making the rounds, and I apologize to whomever had it first. By "pirate" I mean "person that scans comics into digital form to allow other people to download them for free." The takeaway seems to be that nothing is more effective in dissuading these people than their getting to an age or a point where they no longer desire the approval of their peer group for the work they're doing.

* Ali Ferzat's web site recognizes the artist's recent nomination for the Sakharov Prize. At least that's what I think this is.

* I wish the cartoonist Andy Korty all the good health he can stand and the best of luck with his new comic, but ugh -- that title.

* Time Out New York profiles Midtown Comics.

* missed it: Stan Lee's recent NHL project thing was sued by someone cut out of the profits. Also missed it: Stan Lee's recent NHL project thing was apparently profitable. Seriously, though, I shudder to think how much time The Man has spent being deposed over the last twenty years, and I wouldn't necessarily wish that on anyone.

* Adam McGovern on Up From The Stacks. Maria Popova on Hark! A Vagrant. Martin Skidmore on Lone Wolf And Cub. Rachel Cooke on Habibi. Chris Randle on Hark! A Vagrant. Gavin Jasper on some of the New DC second issues. Greg McElhatton on X 3-in-1 Vol. 1. Philip Shropshire on Aldebaran: The Catastrophe, La Blonde. Jeet Heer on MetaMaus. Dan Kois on The Death-Ray. Mark Frauenfelder on The Death-Ray.

* not comics: a limited edition board game featuring tons of art from Mat Brinkman? Don't everyone buy one until I save my 7000 pennies.

* Nate Beeler really doesn't care for the Occupy Wall Street folks.

* Matt Seneca examines a short but harrowing sequence from Al Columbia.

* finally, I'm never sure who can and who can't see this kind of thing, but this early '90s photo array from Marvel is worth your time if you have that historical thing going on. Or if you just enjoy seeing those haircuts again.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Jason Thompson!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Tom Devlin!

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October 12, 2011


I Love You, Comics

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walked to my front door by Fred the Mailman at 4:28 pm
 
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Go, Look: Andrea Tsurumi's Comics About George Washington

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Books-A-Million Joins B&N In Pulling DC's Kindle-Only Books

Calvin Reid has the story over at PW: Books-A-Million is the second largest retail chain now. I think this is one of those things where the public stances are more interesting than the actual damage. From DC's perspective, I think it will probably be an overall good to have the heat of the Kindle announcement and the sales from that device over this holiday season than it will be to have their books on the shelves of these bookstores. From the perspective of the bookstores, it's a shot across the bow of any company thinking of following DC's lead with a book or line that might be more important -- as in newer -- than some stalwart DC regulars are going to be.
 
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It's A Miracle We Ever Had A Lead In Education To Lose

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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.

*****

JUL111060 GREAT NORTHERN BROTHERHOOD CANADIAN CARTOONISTS HC (MR) $24.95
JUL111057 DANIEL CLOWES DEATH-RAY HC (MR) $19.95
Two super-solid, you-want-them releases from Drawn And Quarterly: a brand-new work from Seth using the faster-than-usual technique he employed in Wimbledon Green and a new classic from Dan Clowes now given bookstore dress.

imageAUG110750 POPE HATS #2 (MR) $6.95
I was impressed by this second issue of Ethan Rilly's series, particularly the main story and its dive into vocation and value systems. Seriously, if there could be something like this in the comic store every week, a lot of people that no longer shop there as much as they used to would become devoted comic book store customers again.

MAR110352 ABSOLUTE IDENTITY CRISIS HC $99.99
Then again, maybe not. Yikes. This was a very a popular comic, but thinking of someone spending $100 on an oversize version makes me want to cry like a crying superhero.

JUN118155 ARCHIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 03 $49.99
JUL110055 ARCHIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 03 $49.99
AUG111019 JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY NANCY HC VOL 03 $29.95
It's like it's a race with the John Stanley material and the Archie material to confuse average comics readers to death with various formats and publishing programs. It's a sad day when you get old enough not to recognize if you own a comic book or not simply by glancing at the cover, and it's a sadder day when you no longer know what series of an American pop-culture classic you're buying. All of this material is worth a look, and the Stanley material is close to an automatic buy.

JUN110343 100 BULLETS HC BOOK 01 (MR) $49.99
A major repackaging of a solid performer from last decade's Vertigo line.

AUG110382 BLOOM COUNTY COMPLETE LIBRARY HC VOL 05 $39.99
AUG110384 COMPLETE CHESTER GOULDS DICK TRACY HC VOL 12 $39.99
It's amazing on a certain level that for some comics fan out there going to the comics shop and buying $15 in pamphlets has in 15 years or so become ordering two giant-ass books for $80. I'm trying to think of another arts-consumption experience that's changed this much. As to the books themselves, there was no comic more revered by an entire generation of cartoon-loving fans sitting in the back of middle school study hall than Bloom County, and no comic strip whose appeal seems divorced from its public perception than Dick Tracy.

APR111033 THE CABBIE HC VOL 01 (MR) $19.99
Speaking of Gould, The Cabbie draws deeply from the Dick Tracy well but in a way that criticizes the excesses of its underlying worldview rather than blindly celebrating its virtues. I'm really grateful Fantagraphics is doing this work, because it's not always easy to read.

JUL111290 NAOKI URASAWA 20TH CENTURY BOYS GN VOL 17 $12.99
JUL111272 SLAM DUNK GN VOL 18 $9.99
Two entertaining series with wide appeal that have new volumes out. 20th Century Boys has hit a little harder than this latest trip through the Slam Dunk series, which I think suffers a bit from narrative crawl that was mitigated in the original serialization by the novelty of the sport it covered. That's just a guess, though.

MAY111078 NUTS HC $19.99
This is Gahan Wilson's National Lampoon strip, an extended meditation on/reaction to the sugary-sweet quality of most kids strips.

AUG111336 IF YOU RE CRACKED YOU RE HAPPY SC VOL 01 EARLY YEARS $34.95
AUG111337 IF YOU RE CRACKED YOU RE HAPPY SC VOL 02 FINAL YEARS $34.95
"Humor magazines that aren't MAD" is a final frontier for a lot of comics readers, and this might serve as an extended introduction to one popular source for that material.

AUG111190 TROOP 142 GN $20.00
Mike Dawson's story about a summer session at a Boy Scout camp was serialized both on-line and in handmade paper editions, and gets a fancy book release now from micro-publisher of the extended moment (they have been around for years, after all) Secret Acres.

*****

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: Bernie Wrightson's 1976 Edgar Allan Poe Portfolio

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Amazon.com Suspends Sales Of Holy Terror?

The online bookseller Amazon.com seems to have suspended sales on Frank Miller's Holy Terror, according to an announcement on the page featuring the book on its site. The announcement labels as the cause an unspecified glitch in the way the book was being listed or sold by the bookseller, and suggests that this was brought to their attention by Amazon site users. They continue to offer it through affiliates. I have to imagine that in today's market, particularly one where the DM stores are stuffed with new DC product, a book like Miller's latest depends on Amazon.com sales to get into a certain kind of reader's hands.
 
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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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Gabby Gamboa Illustrates A 2008 Interview With Alison Bechdel

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* two stories broke late in the day yesterday: 1) Michael George was convicted of murdering his then-wife Barbara in their comic book store in 1990; he had been convicted of the crime in 2008 but a judge dismissed that verdict. 2) Emily Nilsson announced that Sparkplug Comic Books will continue.

image* go here to see a cute poster/cartoon by Andrea Tsurumi (the image here is only a tiny part of it).

* Gary Tyrrell looks at the numbers from a survey about digital comics.

* Rob Clough on two from Jon Chad. Sean Gaffney on Negima! Magister Negi Magi Omnibus Vol. 2. Johanna Draper Carlson on Galaxion Book Two: First Contact. Ted Brown on Sweets #1. Michael Buntag on Star Trek #1. Chris Duffy extols the virtues of the latest Chris Duffy-edited project. Win Wiacek on The Cabbie Vol. 1. Augie De Blick Jr. on the Bill Schelly art book about Joe Kubert and the first Carl Barks volume, both from Fantagraphics. Eddie Campbell on Habibi. Ruth Franklin on Metamaus. David Brothers on Casanova: Avaritia #2.

* the writer Alan David Doane writes on the unluckiest characters in comics.

* Deb Aoki takes a look at JManga.com a couple of months in, and has a few suggestions for improvement.

* Alex Robinson talks to Mike Dawson. Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner profile Dan DiDio. George Tramountanas talks to Kieron Gillen. Emma Brockes talks to Maurice Sendak. Albert Ching talks to Marc Guggenheim and Kieron Gillen.

* I might be tempted to buy that CBLDF grab bag even if it were being offered by the Comic Book Legal Attack Fund. That thing has some fun comics in it.

* Nik Scott reminds his fellow cartoonists that Steve Jobs is a Buddhist, so those cartoons of him showing St. Peter an app for getting into heaven or whatever are just weird. Alan Gardner suggests that many cartoonists doing eulogy cartoons could have taken a page from Jobs' life and been more original.

* finally, Hogun the Grim is totally undervalued as a mustache icon. If you'd like to take in one more piece of older comics imagery, this page from Curt Swan is a doozy.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Pat Brady!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Dan Abnett!

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Emily Nilsson: Sparkplug Comic Books To Continue

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The company, which lost founder and driving force Dylan Williams to cancer in September, will be run by Emily Nilsson, Virginia Paine and Tom Neely. More at the blog announcement through the link in the above image.
 
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October 11, 2011


Michael George Found Guilty Of Murder In High Profile Re-Trial

A jury today in Michigan returned a verdict of guilty against Michael George on a charge of 1st Degree Murder. George was accused of murdering his then-wife Barbara on July 13, 1990 in their Michigan comics shop, with the suggested motivation being insurance money and the freedom to marry his present wife Renee, with whom he'd be having an affair. George later moved to western Pennsylvania, where he became a prominent retailer and convention organizer.

George was arrested in 2007 for the crime, which garnered national attention for both its seedy nature and the cold-case nature of how police came back to George. He was convicted in 2008 of the murder, a judgment that was set aside when the presiding judge decided that the prosecutor's office had failed to share crucial evidence with the defense team regarding additional potential suspects. George's alibi was that he was sleeping at his mother's place at the time of the murder. The prosecution offered at least two pieces of evidence against this: a witness that said he spoke to George at the store in a way that didn't match the alibi, and an early statement by the defendant's mother that contradicted later avowals.

The jury had been deliberating since Thursday afternoon. They asked for a review of the testimony given in 2008 by George's mother and for the 2011 testimony of the witness that said he spoke to George at the store near the time his wife was murdered.
 
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Some Days You're Just Grateful Maakies Still Exists

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it's not like the market has been kind to the alternative comic strip over the last dozen years
 
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Nine Thoughts On Advantages DC Comics May Have Moving Forward

imageDC Comics has entered into the second month of its New 52 publishing initiative in relatively quiet fashion. The first month was a resounding success comic-to-comic, for shops, and in the media. There was a slight backlash in terms of a heated, on-line conversation about the depiction of female characters, the reporting of numbers for the market overall that while positive don't match the powerful results for individual comics, and the protests of perplexed readers that prefer other types of comics wondering out loud why so much time is being spent on these kinds of comics in the first place during yet another extremely bountiful Fall season for the art form.

In other words, with the story at a brief lull and a significant portion of the comics-reading audience sick of hearing about it, I thought this a perfect time to present some thoughts on potential advantages the publishing company might enjoy moving forward.

1. The Direct Market Functions In Many Ways As A Market Of Attrition
The Direct Market for serial comic books has something in common with the newspaper client market for comic strips. It can take a long time for the comics that benefit from a big sales splash in either market to slip from high numbers to low ones. Granted, this is less true now than it was in the past. Yet even with a slightly more volatile market, there should be plenty of time for DC to make editorial adjustments and settle into any long-term strategies it wish to employ with its serial books before numbers go back down to pre-New 52 levels. There's little reason to think that the numbers won't stay high for comics shops in the short-term even if by some strange twist of fate zero readers stick around for any of the books in the long-term.

A related effect worth considering is that many Direct Market stores should now be fully invested in what DC is doing, the same way they seize on a hot crossover event or the way many did well with Image Comics offerings 20 years ago. Individual accounts are likely to see it as being in their best interest to give every possible consideration to anything that sustains, replicates or recalls that recent burst of DC Comics high sales. The power of that network of shops to deliver serial superhero product to fans was somewhat underestimated during the ramp-up. It shouldn't be ever again.

2. The Bookstore Arm At DC Has Been The Higher Functioning Arm For Years Now, And Has Yet To Take Its First Shot At This Material
This one should be sort of self-explanatory. DC has enjoyed a very successful book and trades program for several years now, to the point that it's become a lazy cliche of comics analysis: Marvel does well with serial comics, and DC makes up for that with the strong bookstore placement. Those elements of DC and their distribution partners will get their shot at having this new, highly publicized, and to a certain extent pre-sold material enter into the bookstore marketplace in early 2012. It's always good to have a heavy hitter in reserve.

You're not likely to see whatever modest collector's boost came into play in the Direct Market in September, and the excitement level in terms of whatever interest there was in unveiling the general DC Universe "storyline" won't be there to the same degree. Still, conventional wisdom says that the bookstore market is increasingly its own market. DC's distributors will be able to head into this first round of offerings with the memory of DC's successful Direct Market serial comics launch and the resulting press still reasonably fresh on everyone's mind. In the long term, this may become the more important market for a lot of these properties, and DC stands more ready than a lot of companies to facilitate that.

image3. DC Has Enough Institutional Memory Not To Take Any Forthcoming Risks Lightly
One thing to remember about selling a lot of serial comic books through the Direct Market in a short period is that such success carries with it the risk of supply at some point outstripping demand. Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns probably don't have a solid businessmen's memories of the black and white boom/bust period -- Johns was probably 11 by the time Scott Rosenberg launched his third company -- but I bet Bob Wayne (at DC since the mid-'80s and a retailer before that) and Bob Harras (an editor at Marvel starting in 1983) remember it and the volatile early '90s period that followed in direct and relatable fashion. (Lee also has direct experience with those early '90s, although from the wrong side of responsible publishing behavior.)

There are structural reasons to believe the market couldn't be anywhere close to the risky position it was in 25 years ago or in similar times in the '90s or since. DC is the antithesis of a fly-by-night company. There are ordering adjustment opportunities now, and there aren't as many retailer accounts in their near-infancy or still existing in a state of Edenic innocence as there were 20-25 years ago. Any possible impulse to make a quick killing as might happen with a newer company likely isn't going to happen at DC the way they're currently constituted, and I think that stability and wisdom will help them if only by eliminating potential for great harm.

4. DC's Successful DM Launch May Allow For A More Truthful Appraisal Of What Went Wrong
This may be a stretch, but there's a chance that now that things are going well with DC there can be a more rigorous examination of the general market conditions and publishing strategies that turned the once relatively vigorous if sometimes moody Direct Market into a sad, heavyset man suffering hypoglycemic shock and in desperate need of 52 cans of Mountain Dew.

I'm not naive enough to suggest an altruistic motive that could motivate a sort of tough appraisal on where things went wrong. I do see three things that could spark something like this, though. One, there may be a perceived safe space to talk about this by superhero-knowledgeable observers that feel they can do so without being tarred and feathered as negative or betraying team comics. Two, running down what came before someone's perceived comeback/victory/new direction is a way to make that comeback/victory/new direction look that much better in comparison. Three, there are players involved with this surge that seem to think of themselves as straight-talkers, which could spontaneously generate bursts of insight as to how bad things got there for a while. Comics has a little bit of history in terms of making industry reform in reaction to damaging behavior, as when ordering terms were changed in the 1990s after the concreted damage caused by comics that were promised but that either didn't come out or came out so late as to change their commercial prospects. It would be encouraging if that were a possibility here.

I also hope that whatever self-criticism takes hold is comprehensive. My strong suspicion (to the point of obviousness, I think) is that it wasn't just this 2010-2011 period but behavior over the last several years that got these companies stuck in a rut, abetted by more than two decades of fashioning an industry around their output almost exclusively. Wider industry malaise is almost always a delayed reaction, with structural disincentives in support. So it would be disappointing if, say, blame settled solely on individual comics or comics efforts of the last 12 months, particularly when summary judgment may not pass the eyeball test.

No matter what might take place and where it occurs, I would imagine that what exactly happened would be an important question to answer, particularly for a company like DC wishing to build on the initial success of their serial comics launch in the months ahead.

5. A Successful Direct Market Launch Buys DC Time And The Benefit Of The Doubt In Other Areas
There are fine articles about the New 52 launch written by very astute people that don't mention the digital aspect of the publishing strategy at all. I think this is particularly true of mainstream media that came slightly late to the story, the writers that don't follow this stuff every day and were pointed in its direction.

I don't see this as a failure of these reporters and editors, but as a sign there's an opportunity for DC to build on their initial DM sales success by developing other aspects of their publishing program without the second-guessing and scrutiny that would have come had the success been modest or non-existent. Just think how the DC Kindle exclusive news and B&N pushback might have been viewed if DC's comic book DM sales with the New 52 hadn't been phenomenal -- I have to imagine there would have been a lot more accusations that it's DC rather than B&N that doesn't know what it's doing. Now that the principal decisions have been made about the basic shape of the digital and trade publishing programs, DC can finesse decisions on how they're executed without excruciating pressure to get those things right from day one. This relative grace period may also extend to any adjustments they'd care to make with Vertigo, OGN publishing and with kids' comics.

6. DC Has A Fresh Opportunity For Talent Development Available To Them Now
One of the reasons that many observers have expressed long-term worries about DC's recent moves is a perception that the overall creative talent pool at DC at this moment isn't as deep as one might expect for a company choosing a strategy heavy on line-wide creative execution. Leaving aside whether that's a fair appraisal or not, and certainly DC is allowed to scoff at a lot of those criticisms while standing around their offices in their solid gold shoes, it strikes me that DC has a great, new avenue for developing talent: fill-in issues and arcs on ongoing series.

If DC sustains their devotion to hitting production marks, it will almost certainly be necessary with several of these ongoing titles to offer the occasional comic book or run of comic books by an outside creative team or component creators. This seems to me to have potential as an infinitely preferable mechanism for appraising talent and folding in new voices than stand-alone mini-series that may not be related to various ongoing titles and which, additionally, have a dubious recent sales history.

In addition, Marvel is very top-heavy right now, particularly with writers, in that they have a solid group of creators with whom they like working, many of whom have been working with that company for several years now. We also exist in a time when nearly everyone is cognizant of limits, particularly financial ones, to other career options. If you're a young writer that has landed a mini-series or two at Marvel, you're still not going to get to write Avengers any time soon, and your series at Image, if it makes you any money at all, will do so six months down the line. A four-issue run on Animal Man or Mr. Terrific or one of the Batman books may be an attractive destination point for a lot of those comics-makers, much more so than just a few months ago.

In other words, DC may be in a much stronger position to add a lot of talented names to its virtual, collective Rolodex if the company's editors are given new talent development as part of their mandate.

image7. DC Should Continue To Benefit From A Pliable Mainstream Press
One of two big stories from a geek culture standpoint in the launch of DC's new number one issues is how effectively media companies like DC have primed the pump for PR-driven feature-style articles about their constellations of recognizable characters. It is within the immediate memory of several folks in comics, including myself, of a time when such mainstream press placement as realized last month was seen as a near-impossible dream, erupting with fits and starts in only those places with a devoted, maybe slightly unhinged comics fan right there on staff. Those days are certainly over. I don't think that future coverage will be as comprehensive in terms of the number of pieces we saw in August and September, but I imagine that most of these outlets and the writers serving them will be more open than ever to hearing pitches.

8. DC Has A Chance To Tie Its Publishing Success Into A Wider Company Narrative That Could Make The The Belle Of The Warners Ball
If you're looking for a potential, overall storyline for DC right now, you could do far worse than
1. Underperformance of Green Lantern and comics generally in 2010 and 2011.

2. Success with new comics initiative.

3. Further success with digital publishing initiatives and exclusives.

4. A bookstore replication of these comics' initial success in the Direct Market.

5. New Christopher Nolan Batman film makes one billion dollars.
Now, not all of those things may happen, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. Even if Marvel's The Avengers movie or that emo-looking Spider-Man thing are huge hits, Marvel's publishing arm doesn't have much to directly offer a similar narrative. The credit for any success The Avengers enjoys will almost certainly go to the ramp-up films and the film division in general; Spider-Man's credit will fall to the fresh group of creative people involved and to the enduring character.

All component businesses at any major company want to be able to claim they're the key to a rally or turnaround, and DC's comics publishing efforts may have such a gift waiting for them over the horizon.

9. Even DC's Enemies May End Up Helping Them
This one may take some explaining. I think there are arguments to be made that DC's recent success may have triggered what could become a slightly more antagonistic industry press, and may additionally spur Marvel into responsive action at some point down the line. Further, I think it's conceivable that the nature of DC's success may make it so that very little of this impedes DC in the core of their own efforts.

A second significant cultural reaction I see from DC's success is a kind of simmering confusion from some devoted fans and an emerging generation of people that cover comics over the content of some of the books in DC's successful launch. That a comics company might find its way to success making books that you wouldn't be proud to have your nieces and nephews see you reading isn't perplexing in the least to those of us that have been around since the mid-1990s or before. It's only in the last dozen years that the notion that all comics people are in this together has become something of a general operating principle, with it coming the self-flattering idea that if companies like DC are to be successful, they're going to make art that appeals to you or that you at least recognize as appealing.

Something those of us that have been around for a while already knew because it was beaten into us during the 1980s and 1990s: unless you're some fan of the abstract idea of blending words and pictures, in which case every single comic sold no matter what's inside it is a victory, it's entirely possible and even probable that an individual company or group of companies can be super-successful and for a rational human being that's a big comics fan to see this as something other than an overall good.

I think there's a chance that those following the industry closely are going to have to deal with the fact that if a company like DC can move units or meet some similar goal, any consideration as to whether a comic book can be read by children or offers up a worthwhile message or provides a just reward to its creators comes way, way behind whether or not it sells. Hopefully -- and this is probably too great a hope -- being confronted with this reality will force an entire new generation of people covering the industry to take a close view of what they think is important for the field to do. I think a skeptical press benefits everyone including DC in the long run, although they may not realize it right away. For one thing: although there are plenty of comics loved by the press that covers comics closely that never make a dime, there's an undeniably strong confluence between the kinds of projects that are super-successful for someone like DC and pay off over years and year and those preferred and agitated for by hardcore industry observers.

So what about Marvel? It's probably too glib a point to suggest that rivalries like the Marvel/DC competition is good for comics. For one, I have no idea if rivalries are good or not. I actually suspect not in comics' case, at least in an historical sense, as Marvel and DC have chosen in the past to fight over some very unimaginative things in less than direct fashion. If comics were a schoolyard, DC and Marvel would be the heavy kids that whaled on the smaller ones rather than ever fully called each other out, despite running down the other bully at every opportunity.

In other words, when you look at the actual clashing of ideas and policy, Marvel/DC has never been much of a rivalry. As a correlative point, it's also true that Marvel has pretty much owned DC in recent years, underlined with greatest emphasis when the first issue of a DC event series two years in the making failed to beat the second issue of a pretty standard Marvel offering back in late Spring 2008.

With DC's recent success, and the tendency of these companies to work past one another, I think we stand a chance of getting the energy of a rivalry without the companies, say, beating each other (and the rest of us) into unconsciousness. For instance, one can argue that Marvel's greatest recurring accomplishment during the Joe Quesada era was in resuscitating key properties and turning them into reasonably major players according to whatever sales parameters existed at the time. Several properties considered absolute dogs at one point or another -- Thor, most memorably -- since I've been around comics have enjoyed at the very least brief periods of sales success, and Marvel's done a thorough job in reorienting its line with an Avengers flagship group of titles rather than an X-Men flagship group. I don't see any reason why this specific ability of Marvel's can't co-exist with DC's likely long-term strategies for content development. It could be that success for DC will diminish the possibility of damage to everyone else, and that's a positive for DC and for everyone in that company's reach.

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Go, Read: Warren Ellis On The Broadcast Of Comics

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* Nobrow will be doing a series of albums with Luke Pearson starting with Hilda And The Midnight Giant. By the way, that's a first-rate publishing announcement.

image* the artist Sean Phillips seems to be working on some sort of painted-page Conan project, I believe for whatever iteration of Savage Sword is being published right now. Count me in.

* when Fantagraphics announced its new EC initiative and its collection of Zap at CCI last summer, it blew some of their other announcements off of the map -- at least for me. With Amazon finally starting to list books from next summer, I notice that one of Fanta's is a Kim Thompson translated version of Lorenzo Mattotti's 2003 work with Jorge Zentner, Bruit du givre.

* speaking of Fantagraphics, I'm not sure if a date for this project had been publicly announced, come to think of it. It's not 100 percent guaranteed that they'll hit that date, but the various publishers working that part of comics have all been a lot more disciplined since their various, sustained moves into the bookstore market via prose distributors several years ago.

* Marvel not pursuing an OGN program makes little to no sense to me, because it's an obvious opportunity for them to diversify their bookstore offerings. This doesn't mean they won't have bookstore offerings, of course, or even what for them would be diverse ones -- the Oz and Stephen King efforts appear in comic book form first -- but I don't understand why the minimal investment of stand-alone books wouldn't be worth the effort for them. The Oz books even provide a template of the kind of comics-makers that would be perfectly suited to such projects. I also wonder if alarmists will read anything into this in terms of Marvel's long-range publishing plans. Of course, if you're an alarmist, by definition you sort of you read stuff into everything.

* then again, maybe Marvel's taking-their-ball-home announcement was in anticipation of this piece of news from DC. That seems right up the alley of what Marvel has been doing lately.

* Michael Avon Oeming shows off a page from a forthcoming Marvel/USO project.

* Rob Rodi will write a spin-off from that Kirby: Genesis project. I like Rodi's writing, and I was afraid for a while that he had come and gone in terms of comics writing opportunities.

* Alan Gardner tracks some recent newspaper drops and adds.

* Archie is going to bring back its superhero characters in a new title and via an aggressive Netflix-style subscription digital program. Always good to see another model for digital comics sales trotted out for a go.

* finally, this review of Illegal Batman In The Moon provides the service of letting many of us known that Ed Pinsent's follow-up to Illegal Batman is out there for downloading.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Not Comics: A Jeffrey Jones Portfolio

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Will Dinski Awarded An MCBA/Jerome Book Arts Fellowship

The cartoonist Will Dinski has been awarded the MCBA/Jerome Book Arts Fellowship. As he explained the award in a short e-mail, "Basically, I'm awarded funding to learn letterpress + papermaking with the final intent to create a letterpress comic book." The project is described on the awards page as "an artist's book on handmade paper that will contrast the stability of print with the ephemerality of the digital" by presenting URL addresses for 24 on-line comics, with the idea the context of the print comic as the comics expire or are moved. Dinski is an accomplished mini-comics maker and a past winner of the Isotope Award.
 
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OTBP: Picket Line

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Michael George Re-Trial Jury Returns To Deliberations Today

I would imagine that some sort of resolution in the Michael George re-trial could be possible today. I base that almost solely on some observers surprised it lasted past Thursday and Friday of last week. There was speculation in an article that was run in several regional papers over the weekend as to what's going on behind closed doors -- basically, the former George prosecutor suggests that a jury leaning towards acquittal usually resolves itself more quickly than a divided jury or a jury leaning towards a guilty verdict.

I am likely not going to be the person to throw up an immediate on-line posting of any announced verdict, I'm afraid, but I bet Jameson Cook at The Macomb Daily will be the first person to tweet about it.
 
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Go, Look: An Al Jaffee Sampler

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Go, Read: A Drew Friedman Interview

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* everyone seems to have enjoyed working with Chip Mosher as much as I did, judging by all the happy reporting on the announcement the former BOOM! staffer will be joining comiXology in a new LA office in a VP position supervising promotion and business development. I wish him the best with the new gig.

image* I suspect that at this point there's a subset of you that groans when I talk about missing alternative comic books, but there's really no artistic experience I have right now that exactly matches going to the shop and picking up an package of abject oddity like Mack White's Villa Of The Mysteries. Chris Mautner would like to see it collected.

* Mitch Brown talks to Christopher Forgues. Tim O'Shea talks to Jamie S. Rich and Eleanor Davis. Zack Smith talks to Raina Telgemeier. The War Rocket Ajax team talks to Jeff Parker and Erika Moen.

* what the hell is going on outside of Jillian Tamaki's apartment building?

* Dan Nadel is going to feature artwork from James Jarvis this week at the main PictureBox Inc. site.

* there's no such thing as a boring Brandon Graham post. These posts from Craig Thompson on the road have been a lot of fun so far as well. Brett Warnock always posts something interesting, this time links to a few illustrators.

* Timothy Callahan writes about his early superhero reading experiences.

* Scott Cederlund on a bunch of new releases. Gene Ambaum on Congress Of The Animals. John R. Platt on Approximate Continuum Comics. Sean Gaffney on Love Hina Omnibus Vol. 1. Greg McElhatton on Stargazing Dog. Dan Morrill on Shame Conception.

* Brandon Burford and Norm Feuti talk about character development.

* not comics: I imagine this will make some people very happy.

* not comics: hey, it's an Avengers trailer. That will probably dominate comics discourse today.

* finally, the NY Post spoils a Wonder Woman plot point about her secret origin in the new starting-from-issue-#1 comic book series. This will likely generate a lot of discussion about whether people approve or disapprove, although I would imagine the key element here is that the character has been one tough sell the last few decades so anything anyone wanted to do as long as it wasn't completely horrific in terms of her licensing power is going to be on the table. I do have a feeling that this means we won't see Wonder Tot in the new DC books, although I'm not sure I could have stomached a grimly serious Wonder Tot.
 
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Happy 96th Birthday, Joe Simon!

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a few sources suggest he may be 98
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Jim Woodring!

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October 10, 2011


Egad, Look At This Brecht Evens Event Illustration

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Go, Read: Catching Up With Censored Malaysian Cartoonist Zunar

James Hookway has written a fine summary article for the on-line iteration of the Wall Street Journal on the grievous censorship situation featuring Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar, and the artist's expectations as to what can actually be won moving forward. The article does a good job in noting the hints of a possible backing away from the full-on press of such laws, while definitely acknowledging the wait-and-see necessity of saying what that might mean. There's also something played up in the piece that hasn't been the focus of Zunar pieces for a while, mine included: the fact that the Internet has been a safe haven for expression of the kind found in Zunar's cartoons, but that print is still extremely necessary when it comes to reaching the bulk of the Malaysian population.
 
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Go, Look: The Second Installment Of Margot's Room

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in case you haven't picked up on it yet, click on the doll
 
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Updates On The Troubling Situation Facing Syria's Ali Ferzat

* I believe this may be the first public statement by Ali Ferzat.

* Ghazala Irzad has written a sharp, easy-to-enter summary article about the Egyptian exhibit of Ali Ferzat's cartoons that has gone up a couple of months after the Syrian cartoonist was attacked and injured by thugs believed to be operating in some way under the blessing or even orders of the current Syrian regime. It's a nice refresher, for instance making the point what change in Ferzat's approach may have attracted the violent attention of those involved.

* by the way, I still haven't heard much about any international efforts to aid or provide monetary relief to Ferzat. I did hear of a couple of efforts in early stages being put together by internationally-focused organizations. If anyone knows of anything -- particularly an effort that involves direct donation as opposed to something curated and more deliberate -- I think there are some western cartoonists that would love to help out. Knowing how this might be done given the extreme political situation in Syria right now is something beyond my particular skill set.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful, Weird Jay Disbrow Pages

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Go, Read: Member Of 2008 Michael George Prosecution Team Speculates On 2011 Jury Deliberation

Jameson Cook from The Macomb Daily has shaped up as the reporter to read on the re-trial of former prominent retailer and convention organizer Michael George for the 1990 murder of his then-wife Barbara. In a story that in a coverage sense bridges the gap between the start of jury deliberation and that group's return to hashing out the case tomorrow after the Columbus Day holiday, Cook talks to a key member of the prosecutor's team that in 2008 convicted George, only to see that conviction later overturned. He speculates -- and openly recognizes such speculation as just that -- on what the jury might be thinking in terms of how long they're taking to come to a decision.
 
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Go, Look: More From The World Encyclopedia

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Go, Look: Albert And The Barbecue

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it looks like Frank Santoro will be hosting local scene reports for the next several installments of his Sunday space at The Comics Journal. This time: Philadelphia.

image* Paul Gravett provides a title-soaked survey of British comics in the 21st Century.

* Bill Baker on The Canterbury Tales. Nick Smith on Same Difference. Jared Gardner on The Lives Of Sacco & Vanzetti. Sean Gaffney on Hark! A Vagrant. Grant Goggans on Coffee And Beer Money. Greg McElhatton on Strange Talent Of Luther Strode #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics. Alan David Doane on Little Nothings Vol. 4. Johanna Draper Carlson on various Viz books and Supergods. Ted Brown on Scream Queen #1.

* please remember that any links to older Collective Memories can always be added, even when those CMs are no longer on the daily rotation. Brendan Wright's APE report and Jeremy Tiedeman's remembrance of his friend Dylan Williams are two links that went up this morning.

* Brian Hibbs wonders out loud if we've ever had a superstar writer that follows a certain career trajectory. I can't figure out exactly what trajectory he's describing, but the comment-makers seem to be having fun with the question.

* the cartoonist Richard Thompson will be participating in this weekend's Moving Day fundraiser for Parkinson's, and you can support him.

* I pretty much disagree with about one specific observation/conclusion per paragraph in this Sean Witzke piece, but I think the general ideas presented here -- particularly that the pursuit of being cool is a) locked into comics' general DNA at this point and b) may arise from a specific pathology in comics culture -- are ideas worth pursuing.

* JK Parkin talks to Jim Gibbons.

* missed it: this was out there last week, and I'm not certain I mentioned it. The digital facilitator comiXology reports that over 40 percent of their titles were released the same day as their print iteration. I think I phrased that correctly; the point is that same-day release of digital and print seems more and more an inevitability.

* these are the kinds of things that may only interest me, but this is the first time that I've seen someone mention a Kickstarter campaign and in doing so state with comment that a book is being published by someone not the artists. Younger or hipper people than I am won't see this as anything to notice, and they may be right, but it still jumped out at me.

* the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com, the blog for the comics industry news portal Newsarama and the funnybook-focused on-line magazine Comics Alliance weigh in on a big story from last week, the Barnes & Noble push back against DC Comics' exclusive deal with the next Kindle device. As I've said before, I think this is a bit more flash than real heat: 1) DC likely has the chance to go back to offering these DC books through B&N's digital program after a Christmas season and in time not to disrupt its ability to push its first wave of New 52 books through all channels; 2) the books in questions are solid back stock books for which one can argue the novelty and press of being offered on the new device for a holiday season outweighs the same period's sales in a channel they've long been available; 3) my hunch remains that this is less about publishing DC and more about warning any other book publishers away from offering authors or lines to the Kindle exclusively at a time when they would be much more dependent on B&N shelf sales for the initial success of the book. I mention that last because you're seeing a lot of "How Dare DC"/"How Dare B&N" in comics circles. It is worth keeping an eye on this because all the players are now likely to be more agitated, which could drive decision-making.

* not comics: now there's a headline that makes you want to read the story. Or go back to bed, I'm not sure.

* Johanna Draper Carlson notes that the Image comics series Infinite Vacation has fairly slipped from view, and uses that development to wonder after the ability of independent comics to sustain interest and an audience due to the difficulties in publishing them.

* Vera Brosgol will be temporarily shutting down some site sales for a few days at some point over the next few weeks for a very good reason: she's moving into her new home.

* finally, I would imagine that Richard Sala's site would be a very good one to bookmark for the Halloween season.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Paul Nagy!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Jaime Hernandez!

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October 9, 2011


CR Sunday Interview: Mark Sable

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this interview has been archived
 
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Go, Read: Bob Temuka On Jaime Hernandez's Work In L&RNW Vol. 4

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Go, Read: Grantland's Alex Pappademas On DC's New 52

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Go, Look: The Misadventures Of Steve And Steve

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Go, Read: Virginia Postrel On The Alex Ross Exhibit

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Go, Look: Smoke In Your Eyes: Dragon's Breath

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

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

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 56th Birthday, Michael Netzer!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Bob Andelman!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Jim Starlin!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Simon Gane!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Matt Wagner!

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Russell Myers!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Mike Peters!

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FFF Results Post #270 -- All Shapes And Sizes

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Stories You Like From Serial Comic Books: One That Lasts One Issue Or Less, One That Lasts Two, One That Lasts Three, One That Lasts Four, And One That Lasts Five Or More." This is how they responded.

****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. "Master Race"
2. Zot! #13-14 (Vs. Zybox)
3. Whoa, Nellie!
4. "Mad Dogs And Englishmen," American Flagg! #23-26
5. Human Diastrophism (six parts, Love & Rockets #21-26)

*****

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Milo George

1. Fantastic Four Annual #6
2. Fantastic Four #25-26
3. Fantastic Four #48-50
4. Fantastic Four #74-77
5. Fantastic Four #55-61

*****

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Mark Spedding

1. Fantastic Four 8, "Prisoners of the Puppet Master" (Lee/Kirby) -- the first comic I ever read unaided.
2. Fantastic Four 25-26 "The Thing vs The Hulk/The Avengers Take Over". First and best big punchin' crossover event.
3. X-Men (1963 series) 57-59 -- Sentinels story (Thomas/Adams) -- the first (and debatably best) X-Men story to capture the real subtext of the concept, and Adams on fire. Couldn't handle them when they came out though, too scarily realistic for a child of 7.
4. Dr. Strange (1974 series) 1-2, 4-5 (Englehart/Brunner) -- the first Silver Dagger story. Best Dr. Strange story not touched by the hand of...
5. Strange Tales 130-146 (Ditko and various scripters) -- the Dormammu/Eternity epic. The story is a bit ragged but Ditko's art is unrivalled for sustained inventiveness.

*****

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M. Emery

1. Spectacular Spider-Man #118 "Ashes to Ashes" Devastating end to a minor subplot
2. The Amazing Maze Dumoir (2000AD Prog 368-369)
3. Judge Dredd A Question of Judgement - An Error of Judgement - A Case for Treatment (2000AD Prog 387-389)
4. Birdland #1-3 + second #1
5. Punisher (1986 Mini Series)

*****

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Dave Knott

1. "The Anatomy Lesson" -- Swamp Thing #21
2. "Beaches" -- Palookaville #2-3
3. The Galactus Trilogy -- Fantastic Four #48-50
4. "Rabbit Hunt" -- Kane #5-8
5. "High Society" -- Cerebus #26-50

*****

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Brian Nicholson

1. "How Things Work Out" Alan Moore and Rick Veitch, Tomorrow Stories 2
2. Anarky story drawn by John Paul Leon, Batman Shadow of the Bat 40-41
3. Change Or Die, by Warren Ellis and Tom Raney, Stormwatch vol. 1 48-50
4. Jimbo 1-4 by Gary Panter published by Zongo Comics
5. Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron by Daniel Clowes, Eightball 1-10

*****

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Gary Usher

1. "For the Love of Carmen" (L&R 20)
2. "In The Valley of the Polar Bears" (L&R 26-27)
3. Jack Jackson trilogy (Graphic Story Monthly 4-7)
4. "Mark Stone: Sessions 1-4" (Psychoanalysis 1-4)
5. "Rory Randall, Singing Cowboy" (Prime Cuts 1-7)

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. "Browntown," Jaime Hernandez (So good, and a story I use in the classroom for my intro to lit course. Students find all the elements eminently clear)
2. "A World for the Winning"/"A World Lost" two part story from Supervillain Team-Up #14 and Champions #16 (I loved this as a kid and its goofy strengths still hold a lot of fascination for me)
3. Daybreak, Brian Ralph (I could read endless issues of Brian Ralph's characters crawling over apocalyptic landscapes scavenging for food and beating the crap out of each other)
4. Unstable Molecules, by James Sturm (Folks don't really tell four-issue stories any more, now it's all six issue stuff. But here Sturm does everything he wants, and more, all in four issues)
5. Usagi Yojimbo: Grasscutter, Stan Sakai (When Sakai takes Usagi epic, he goes big in a way that builds like a tautly constructed film, without widescreen panels, without decompression, only great storytelling)

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. "A Date With Hopey," Love and Rockets
2. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" (Superman 423 and Action 583)
3. "Southern Comfort" (American Flagg 4-6)
4. Flex Mentallo (four issues)
5. "Born Again" (Daredevil 227-233)

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Animal Man 5 (coyote Gospel)
2. JLA: Age of Wonder
3. We3
4. Stanley and His Monster (1993)
5. Avengers 270-278 (Siege of Avengers Mansion)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. "Death of Superman" (Jerry Siegel's 1961 "imaginary" story)
2. The Uncanny X-Men #141-142 "Days of Future Past"
3. Cerebus #14-16 "The Palnu Trilogy"
4. Criminal: The Last of the Innocent
5. Stray Bullets #22-28 "Dark Days"

*****

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Bob Temuka

1. Tear It Up, Terry Downe (Love and Rockets 28)
2. Preacher 25-26
3. Invisibles v1 22-24
4. Batman: Year One (Batman 404-407)
5. The Return of Barry Allen (Flash 74-79)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. "The Origin Of The Justice League -- Minus One!", Justice League of America vol. 1 #144
2. "Double Blind," Star Trek (DC) vol. 1 #s 23-24
3. The Avengers vol. 1 #s 164-66 (vs. Count Nefaria)
4. The New Teen Titans vol. 1 #s 23-25 and Annual #1 (Starfire vs. Blackfire, with the Omega Men)
5. "The Great Darkness Saga," The Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 1 #s 290-94

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Spider-Man vs. Wolverine: High Tide
2. Amazing Spider-Man #229-230: Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!
3. Wolverine #31-33. Wolverine vs. Monkey Brain Drug Dealing Yakuza Gang
4. The Adventures of Captain America #1-4: Sentinel of Liberty (Best Cap Origin Ever!)
5. Avengers #281-285: Assault on Olympus

*****

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Th MZA

1. "Everybody Loves Me, Baby" (Penny Century #7)
2. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (Superman #423 & Action Comics #583)
3. Dark Knight Strikes Again #s 1-3
4. Interiorae #s 1-4
5. Finder: Sin-Eater (Finder #s 1-14, 22)

*****

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John Vest

1. Wallace Wood's "The Curse"
2. Conan The Barbarian #14-15 (Conan and Elric)
3. "The Idiots Abroad"
4. Fantastic Four #57-60 (Doctor Doom steals the Silver Surfer's power)
5. "The Search For Smilin' Ed" (six parts in Zero Zero 21,22,24,25,26,27)

*****

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Dan Morris

1. "Flies on the Ceiling" Love and Rockets #29
2. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" Superman #423 and Action Comics #583
3. David Boring (Eightball 19-21)
4. Fantastic Four #349, 350, 352, and 354
5. Hicksville

*****

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Paul Stock

1) "Desert Fox!" (or maybe it was called "Rommel!!" (EC Frontline Combat)
2) "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" (Superman/Action Alan Moore)
3) "Idiots Abroad" (Freak Brothers -- that went on for several issues, didn't it?)
4) The entire Buddy Bradley story (Hate)
5) The first 26 (Grant Morrison) issues of Animal Man

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. "Prisoners of Dr. Doom", Fantastic Four #5
2. "The War to End All Skrulls", Fantastic Four Annual #19/The Avengers Annual #14
3. "Big Trouble on Little Earth", Fantastic Four #347-349
4. "In One World--And Out the Other", Fantastic Four #160-163
5. "Into the Negative Zone", Fantastic Four #251-256

*****

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Justin J. Major

* "You Decide! /The Beginning of the End!" Doom Patrol #121 (1968)
* "The Super Stalag of Space/The Execution of Matter-Eater Lad" Adventure Comics #344-345 (1966)
* Hawkworld #1-3 (1989)
* Batman: The Dark Knight #1-4 (1986)
* "The Great Darkness Saga" Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, #290-294 (1982)

*****

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Scott Dunbier

1) Detective #439: Night of the Stalker, my favorite Batman story ever. Written by Steve Englehart, plotted and drawn by Sal Amendola.
2) Superman #423 and Action Comics #583: The last two stories of my Superman, the one I grew up with. As told by Alan Moore. Almost went with Red Nails from Savage Tales 2 and 3!
3) Flash #217-218: The best Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow story -- and some of Adams' best art -- after their book was cancelled.
4) Swamp Thing #21-24: Alan Moore starts the British Invasion, I remember reading these and just thinking WTF. Great stuff.
5 or more) Detective Comics #437 through 443: The great Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson give us Manhunter -- gotta go read my old B/W collection of this again.

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. "Judgement Call," Judge Dredd Megazine #300
2. "The Love Bunglers," Love and Rockets: New Stories #3-4
3. Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1-3
4. "Dead Robin," Gotham Central #33-36
5. "Church and State" (sixty parts, Cerebus #52-111)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Archie Meets The Punisher
2. "The Battle With Bizarro/Bride Of Bizarro" Action Comics #254-255
3. The Idiots Abroad Parts I-III (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers)
4. "Arzach" Heavy Metal Vol.1 -- #1-4
5. Church & State Vol. I & Vol II Cerebus #52-111

*****

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Tim O'Neil

1. "This Man, This Monster" -- Fantastic Four #51
2. "A Blind Man Shall Lead Them"/"Battle of the Baxter Building" -- Fantastic Four #39-40
3. The Galactus Trilogy -- Fantastic Four #48-50
4. Doctor Doom steals the Power Cosmic -- Fantastic Four #57-60
5. The "Son of Doom" Saga -- Fantastic Four #193-200

*****

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Joe Keatinge

1. Superman Adventures #41, "22 Stories In A Single Bound" written by Mark Millar & illustrated by Mike Manley
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey #5 & 6, written & illustrated by Jack Kirby
3. Detective Comics #622-624, written by John Ostrander & illustrated by Flint Henry
4. Robocop vs. Terminator #1-4, written by Frank Miller & illustrated by Walt Simonson
5. Spider-Man #18-23, "Revenge of the Sinister Six", written & illustrated by Erik Larsen

*****

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Sean Ford

1) "Browntown" Love and Rockets New Stories #3
2) "Days of Future Past" -- Uncanny X-Men #141, #142
3) "Atlas" #1-3 (i'm assuming there won't be more...)
4) "Batman Year One" (Batman #404-#407)
5) "I Never Liked You" (Yummy Fur 26-30)

*****

topic suggested by Tom Bondurant; thanks, Tom

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


Footage From APE 2011
via Chris Diaz


Save Criminal Records


Trailer For Nina In That Makes Me Mad!


Video Interview At Inkstuds With Brandon Graham
via


Short Film By Jessica Johnson


Trailer For The Forthcoming Book Picket Line


Dash Shaw Animates A Blind Date Episode
 
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October 8, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from October 1 to October 7, 2011:

1. The Michael George Re-Trial ends and is in the hands of its jury. George, five years ago a popular Western Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer, was being tried once again for the 1990 murder of his then-wife in their Michigan comics shop. A set of 2008 convictions on crimes related to the action was set aside by the judge due to malfeasance by the prosecutor in sharing information.

2. Barnes & Noble pushes back against DC's exclusive deal with the next Kindle device. While the most common reaction seen in comics seems to be making fun of B&N for pulling books and driving their customers even further into Amazon or towards Direct Market stores, I have to think this isn't about DC at all but about other publishers signing exclusives with Amazon.com. While DC is basically giving that new Kindle popular back-stock items, and therefore being pulled from the B&N stores isn't all that big a deal (although nothing you'd choose were there an option), publishers that may be thinking about signing deals with Amazon with new books would likely feel a more significant sting at losing that bookshelf space during an initial launch.

3. Chicago-area small press and backstock specialist distribution company Haven Distributors is shutting down. They came into existence in 2008 after basically buying the popular Cold Cut and its accounts. In many ways, this can be seen as the final event in the 1990s Distributor Wars, where Marvel insanely deciding to distribute itself through Heroes World led to a number of industry-changing and I'd argue short-sighted decisions that made Diamond the Direct Market's dominant distributor by a wide, wide margin.

Winner Of The Week
Katie Longua

Loser Of The Week
An Artistic And Art Entrepreneur Middle Class

Quote Of The Week
"We are disappointed that Barnes & Noble has made the decision to remove these books off their shelves and make them unavailable to their customers." -- Unnamed DC spokesperson.

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 54th Birthday, Richard Thompson!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Sean Bieri!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Tom Hart!

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Happy 46th Birthday, James Sturm!

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October 7, 2011


Reporter's Tweet: Michael George Jury To Continue Work On Tuesday

Here you go. This doesn't mean a hung jury, not yet, but it's clear there's either some disagreement in the room or they're being very, very deliberate. They apparently did ask to review some key testimony earlier today.
 
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We Can Only Hope This Is Why Film Superman Is Sporting A Beard

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probably not, though; second image from here
 
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Looks Like Barnes & Noble Is Pulling Those DC Kindle-Exclusive Books

I'm never ahead of Rich Johnston on anything.
 
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Go, Look: New Dane Martin Web Site

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Michael George Re-Trial In The Hands Of The Jury

A pretty decent summary of the key testimony and the closing statements is here. The jury began deliberations yesterday and will continue to do so today. George, at one time a popular retailer and convention organizer in western Pennsylvania, is on trial a second time for the 1990 murder of his then-wife Barbara in their Michigan comic shop. He was convicted of crimes related to that act in 2008, but that decision was set aside by a judge who thought the prosecutor's office committed malfeasance in the way they shared information with the defense. The case has received national attention for the novelty of a seedy murder in a comic book store and for the fact that charges came 16 years after the murder due to aggressive cold-case work.

I suppose the verdict could come back at just about any time, as you can't tell how long a jury is going to take. As these things tend to work out, I will probably be the last person with a tweet or web site update whenever this happens, so please don't count on to-the-second timeliness from the site on this one. I'll jump on as soon as I can, though.
 
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Go, Look: Ryan Cecil Smith Visits Hong Kong

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Why DC Comics Made A Big Deal They Weren't Into Market Share

Back in July and August, some comics readers with whom I had contact were concerned about one particular aspect of the ramp-up to DC's New 52 comics line re-launch initiative: the clumsy insistence by DC executives and others here and there that DC wasn't at all interested in winning market share but was only interested in putting out good comics. Those sound bytes not only sounded like they were the result of some general edict, they came across like classic lowering-expectations spin. It looked to many people like DC was making an attempt to put a spin on what could have been a tough month of relative under-performance.

imageThat under-performance, of course, turned out not to be the case: the new DC #1 comics performed way ahead of just about any rational person's expectations, and the publisher itself, giving DC the number one comic book for August and 17 of the top 20 for September. However, it's now become clear why the company was shying away from market share specifically: it's tough as hell to win it.

The writer Warren Ellis' very funny and sarcastic post here has it right, I think. If you want to look at this as DC trying to regain market dominance, and tons of people all over the industry including I'll suggest at DC Comics will, protestations to the contrary be damned, eking out a win in market share after that stunning month book to book, when a) the comics are returnable, b) Marvel was not exactly launching bombs in response, this isn't exactly a jaw-dropper. Not winning dollar amount is more understandable given DC's commitment to lower pricing with many of their books, something I think is really necessary right now to avoid a massive shedding of readers over the next year or so. There is also likely an element of market share that relates to number of comics published, but it still's a surprise.

When all this DC stuff was on the horizon, I heard from a few Marvel folks that they thought they had a good chance of winning market share in September, which I sort of dismissed as locker room smack talk. They were right -- they did have a chance. Again, I think Ellis has it right: argue the competitive numbers all you want, the real loser is the potential for industry-wide reform.
 
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Go, Look: Four Great Horizontal Jack Kirby Panels From X-Men #7

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Collective Memory: Alternative Press Expo (APE) 2011

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Morty Meekle

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1, 2, 3, 4
 
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Collective Memory: 24-Hour Comics Day 2011

image

Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2011 celebration of 24-Hour Comics Day.

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

*****

Institutional
* Official Site

Audio
* Lutefisk Sushi

Blog Entries
* Albuquerque Devoted Blog
* IndyWebComics (Indianapolis)
* Martin Wisse
* Studio K Amsterdam

Comics
* Bunbun
* Camila
* De Woelige Barends
* Derik A Badman
* Matthew Brady
* Roman Muradov
* Zwolle

Miscellaneous
* Good Luck Wishes From Scott McCloud
* Good Luck Wishes From Scott McCloud 02
* Matt Madden Remembers His First 24-Hour Comic Experience
* Preview At ScottMcCloud.com

News Stories and Columns
* Staunton Newsleader
* WHSV

Photos
* copicmarker 01
* copicmarker 02
* copicmarker 03

* emibot

*markmonlux
* mkopke

* zyberchema

Twitter
* #24HCD

Video
* Daily Webhead
* Liminka School Of Arts
* Portugal
* 24 Hour Comics Day In Seattle

*****



*****
*****
 
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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 San Francisco, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Near Loyola Marymount, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Lee Harris-Drawn Lon Chaney Biography Comic

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you can access Steve Jobs tributes through Gary Tyrrell, Michael Cavna or Daryl Cagle.

image* this site doesn't really have a vehicle to link to Nick Abadzis' sketches with as much frequency as it used to, but that doesn't mean I enjoy them any less.

* Michel Fiffe talks to Jason Latour. Chris Arrant talks to Frank Miller. Zack Smith talks to Brian Selznick.

* here's a nice-looking Evan Dorkin piece of pencil artwork cover for one of the one-shots from The Guild. And here's some lovely Brandon Graham Habibi fan art.

* happy sixth anniversary to Alan Gardner over at Daily Cartoonist. Gardner's site focuses mostly on comic strip news and he's somehow been able to maintain a highly civil comments section, which if I know my Bible means he gets to go to heaven.

* Melinda Beasi talks about the CBLDF's current Canadian customs case.

* Marvel is moving towards a strategy of free digital copies with $3.99 books. So much for any thought that general industry digital pricing strategies would fall into place any time soon.

* missed it: Ben Towle discusses the follow-up project to the collective sketch and drawing effort Animal Alphabet: AlphaBeasts.

* Kiel Phegley notes that Marvel has rid themselves of COO Jim Sokolowski, who came back to Marvel in 2008 after a run at DC as their director of publishing operations. Phegley says that Marvel got rid of Sokolowski because of basic economic realities tied into the current recession. This sounds a bit fishy to me, at least in the "I bet what Marvel thinks the figures should be like are probably far divorced from what you and I think the figures should be like" sense. In other words, I'm not sure what the numbers are like for Marvel right now, and I'm a little bit uncomfortable granting a hugely successful corporation with multiple hit movies, a strong licensing program and at least 7 months firmly in the number one position in their publishing niche some pressing need to make cuts without seeing such figures first. Heidi MacDonald has a nice piece here suggesting that Marvel has gutted its circulation department, that there's widespread parsimony at the company right now, and that if Marvel were to shutter or outsource its entire publishing line at some point in the future this is where we'd look in terms of the beginning of the end.

* not comics: Alan David Doane reviews that Batman: Year One cartoon movie.

* Jim Rugg on Incredible Hulk #368. Don MacPherson on Hark! A Vagrant. Rob Clough on four CCS anthologies.

* finally, Brigid Alverson writes about a push against someone posting scans of the new Kodansha Sailor Moon books. About halfway through she gets off an extremely funny line at some poor young, entitled dope's expense. I can't even imagine trying to suss out the various positions held by people who do that kind of thing, so Alverson's a braver soul than I am.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Enki Bilal!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Phil Yeh!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Howard Chaykin!

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October 6, 2011


Go, Read: An Interview With Liz Suburbia Of Sacred Heart

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thx, marc arsenault
 
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Is Barnes & Noble Set To Push Back Against The DC/Kindle Deal?

imageI'm hearing from a couple of places now that Barnes & Noble is either considering or has already put into motion a move against the DC Comics announcement that they'll be offering various books exclusively to Amazon.com's Kindle device. This could take the form of a removal of those books from the shelves of the B&N physical stores, with the company's logic being that if books are not made available to them on all platforms, they're not going to be offered through the stores. I imagine we'll know in a few hours. Even if this has since been aborted or it ends up being people chasing shadows, this kind of puts into relief what a drastic and dramatic move DC made this week with that Kindle announcement. Not only would the books' availability be a potential decision-maker technology-wise for some customers, but a trend towards exclusives with prose publishers or even individual authors cutting deals with one platform standard or another could lead to extreme volatility for a market that's not all the way healthy right now. One of the sources that contacted me indicates that this would be physical store removal-only, and that the works would still be available through on-line channels. We should know more in the next 24-36 hours.
 
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Go, Look: Ken Reid Flickr Set

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Michael George Re-Trial Closing Testimony Today

Closing arguments are set to begin today -- and expected to finish this week, certainly, with the case then going to deliberations -- in the retrial of prominent Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer Michael George. George is being re-tried for the 1990 murder of his then-wife Barbara in their Michigan comic book store. He was convicted in 2008, but that decision was set aside by a judge who saw malfeasance from the prosecutor's office in terms of information not being released to the defendant and his legal representatives. The trial received national attention for its general seedy nature and for the cold-case aspect of the original prosecution.

Neither George nor his current wife and then-employee Renee George will testify. According to this piece in the Detroit News, this was the defendant's personal choice. Here's a report on this week's alibi testimony, which included the defendant's mother (through entry of her 2008 testimony), her neighbor, and one of the defendant's daughters. To my memory, the daughter did not testify in the 2008 trial, although both of the former retailer's children were in attendance in support of their father.

My largely unearned impression is that this trial did not go as well for the prosecutor's side as the first one did, and that there was a lot more introduced in terms of alternate story lines. Again, that's a very rough impression with no legal basis beyond staying home from school a lot and watching Perry Mason re-runs 30 years ago or so. Another rough impression that hits me is that the general distrust of George that pervaded the last trial and which may have had a large role in his since-overturned conviction was not as big a deal this time around, or not reported in the same manner. Although I have to imagine neither the defendant nor his wife deciding to testify could potentially contribute to a similar distrust, whether it should or not, and that this testimony may have been specifically damaging in that sense. I thought it was a minor miracle George was convicted once, honestly, and still lean towards eventual acquittal here. We'll see.
 
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Go, Look: Glorious-Looking Matt Fox Comics Pages

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Craig Thompson helped the CBLDF bring in almost $4700 at last weekend's Alternative Press Expo. That's nice.

* as for APE itself, I'm hearing the usual good times were had, but also a bit of mostly informal grumbling that the show was oriented less towards the bulk of the material generally available in the room and more towards the show's big-name guests. In other words, there seem to be exhibitors that aren't making as much money as they'd like, which usually means you get a spray of complaints about the location, the cost, the scheduling and any other factor likely to make the real-life APE fall short of the show that exists in someone's head. It's totally understandable. I don't detect any kind of tipping point where this kind of thing kicks over into animosity -- I still think people want a west coast small press show, and I think everyone still agrees Fall is the time to do one, and I think San Francisco is super-appealing to a lot of comics folk -- but I would imagine the Comic-Con folks are listening intently and stand ready to invest some time there, especially considering the major dramas surrounding their two other shows in recent times. I think anyone with these kinds of concerns should think about contacting them directly, maybe with an actual printed-up letter.

* it's also probably worth noting that Comic-Con will now be focusing on March's WonderCon in Anaheim. That one's going to be interesting because it's the first time Comic-Con has exhibited this close to Los Angeles, and Anaheim was one of the contenders for Comic-Con International when that show thought it might want to move. I think there's going to be a lot of curiosity about that one.

* this convention report from the writer Jason Aaron is a lot of fun, especially if you make the connection why his accidentally sitting next to Melinda Gebbie probably led to a very fascinating conversation. Mostly, though, it's great that people are waking up to the festival model for comics shows the way that Europe practices them, and I hope that North America can one day sustain a half-dozen such shows. The atmosphere of a show as communicated by the host city is really important, even for more traditional convention hall shows. Check out this post by Dan Nadel of PictureBox about this year's APE, where he basically extols the subtle virtues of settling into that city's legendary comics scene for a weekend.

* there's a three-day event in London starting tomorrow held by Institut Francais with a BD orientation that looks intriguing.

* most North Americans and a not-inconsiderable number of European cartoonists and comics people with work in the American mainstream are orienting themselves toward New York Comic Con the 13th through the 16th. You should already have tickets; if that one isn't sold out, it soon will be. You can go here for a look at panels, exhibitors and special events. As I recall, last year was a major booze con with a ton of socializing for the attending pros and those with an excuse to stand near them.

* finally, Andrew Farago wrote in with a quick note that the Cartoon Art Museum fundraiser at Pixar is growing closer and closer.
 
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Go, Look: A Whole Mess Of The Tracy Twins

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Go, Look: Sweet Talker

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If I Were In Iowa City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Little Girl Lost

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Lance Stahlberg confirms to Brigid Alverson Robot 6 that Haven Distro plans to close at the end of the month, although there's the usual idea floated that something might develop to keep the company in business under a different ownership arrangement.

* if you haven't had the chance to read cartoonist Debbie Huey's Facebook post about her cancer, please take the time.

image* this piece of Dylan Williams Family benefit auction art from David Lasky is swell. There's some nice new stuff available from Greg Stump and Megan Kelso you can access through here. If I get to live this life over again but with a lot more money, I'll spend a lot of it buying one-page story comics like Kelso's.

* Danica Davidson talks to Lev Grossman.

* I'm not exactly certain why a link to William Ekgren's cover image for Weird Horrors #7 is sitting in my bookmarks folder, but it's never a bad time to go stare at that amazing-looking thing. Here's a post about the artist that includes more examples of his work. Has anyone ever been able to find a death date, or is Mr. Ekgren maybe still with us? Update: He was alive last year. (thx, milo george)

* so apparently the Starfire character is slutty in a sarcastic, wisecracking way instead of a naive, make-you-really-sad-for-her way. Good to know. Speaking of DC continuity trivia -- because that's what we do now -- Cyriaque Lamar takes the occasion of the informal announcement that DC's various "Crisis" events won't be a big part of the new overarching storyline to run around kidney punching dopey universe-altering story moments from the past 20 years.

* a bunch of you have sent along this blog post about depressing comic strip character, which if nothing else makes it seem highly likely that none of the Miami newspapers carry Funky Winkerbean.

* longtime Phoenix comics retailing fixture Mike Malve has found another job.

* the writer Graeme McMillan muses on price points and release strategies for digital comics. It's a topic worth discussing right now as companies begin to formally move entire lines to that arena. I have to imagine this issue has a really good chance of shaking itself out in the next 12 to 15 months, and I'm guessing they resist for the most part the obvious price point. I suspect the ability to discount and thus drive sales may become really important to those companies, even though I know that sounds slightly nutty.

image* Alan Davis drawing Batroc the Leaper from a script by Ed Brubaker sounds like a lot of fun.

* Marvel has a teaser out for an announcement they're making at the forthcoming ReedPop New York convention. It doesn't take long for someone to suggest line-wide reboot as the announcement, although most people think it's a story-driven thing about the return of their Phoenix character. Although, come to think of it, any character named Phoenix is pretty much guaranteed to come back.

* the writer Jason Aaron shows off some forthcoming X-Men comic book imagery. If that's an indication of the basic design template for the comics themselves, I think it's attractive.

* Comic Book Legal Defense Fund 101.

* I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but when the story broke about Bank Of America charging its customers a high fee for use of the debit cards issued by the bank, one of my first thoughts was that this was a good story for editorial cartoonists because they could take their wrapping paper cardboard tubes and whack the pale, fleshy thighs of the bank while practically no one disagreed enough to complain. You don't get that with cartoons about the presidential candidates.

* this makes me feel a lot better about my own 20-year quest, just recently ended, to look as much as possible like Herbie Popnecker.

* Rob Clough on the comics of Michael DeForge. Wayne Alan Brenner on Best American Comics 2011. Kevin Pasquino on more of those new DC books.

* missed it: Katherine Dacey is back.

* finally, Aaron Diaz explains why cleavage is bad for crime fighting.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Shannon Smith!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Mike Carlin!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Dylan Horrocks!

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October 5, 2011


Go, Read: Drive, An Illustrated Response

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Johanna Draper Carlson: Looks Like Haven Is Shutting Down

Johanna Draper Carlson makes a nice catch on tweets that indicate Haven Distributors will shutter at the end of the month. Haven is the business to which the popular, indies- and reorder-focused Cold Cut sold itself in 2008. It operates out of Skokie, Illinois, several miles due west from Chicago/Evanston.

I appreciate the fact that Draper Carlson included a brief history of modern comics distribution companies in her introductory remarks, and it's really valuable in tracking the life span of Cold Cut and FMI. I would actually disagree with her description of how we got to where we are a bit, although it's more a set of advocacy positions than fact checking. I think it's always worth a reminder that DC's deal with Diamond wasn't just an exclusive but "exclusive with benefits," including DC's potential ownership of Diamond down the line. DC and Diamond keeping this hidden from everyone as other companies struggled to figure out what to do was a big news story when it finally broke in The Comics Journal, and, depressingly, the base chicanery ended up mattering not a bit. I would also say that it's always worth mentioning that the shape of the coffin nail that gave us the Diamond-as-one-distributor-of-any-significant-size market had the faces of Todd McFarlane and the Image gang on the head instead of Team DC. Their decision to join DC rather than stay non-exclusive or to throw their full, have-to-order-Spawn weight behind Capital City was the crucial action there. (All good people everywhere agree that Marvel was a dumbass for buying Heroes World and expecting to distribute themselves, including all of those people at Marvel that told their superiors a don't-fire-me version of just that and were ignored.)

Anyway, the end result of this 1990s self-immolation contest was a market that was really hard if not outright impossible for any other middle man to serve, and one that slowly calcified to even more significant effect over the next 15 years. And so we come to today. My sympathies are with anyone put out of work by these developments. I guess this leaves Last Gasp, Tony Shenton and a couple of the more active, comics-savvy book distributors as the non-Diamond representatives in that market -- not an ideal one for the consumer by anyone's design.
 
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I Will Always Post Wally Wood's Comic Strip Christmas Party

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click through for a bigger image and some discussion by Bhob Stewart
 
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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.

*****

AUG111018 HARK A VAGRANT HC (MR) $19.95
I may have already written this, but when I saw news that Kate Beaton's collection from D+Q was imminent, my first reaction that it was nice to see an alternative comics collection coming out where there was near 100 percent certainty that it would do really, really well. Beaton's funny and she draws with skill in a way that specifically supports what's best about her work. I've had two people e-mail me in the last 36 hours from completely different ends of the comics world wondering out loud how long until this became the best-selling book that D+Q has ever done, and I think they will be more right than wrong in making that assumption. Somewhere right now is a line forming for her signature. (That this actually came out last week and Diamond is a tiny bit late to the party is worth mentioning in that it seems to be happening again this week with Metamaus.)

JUN110034 AXE COP BAD GUY EARTH TP $12.99
I think this is the second book in this series, and worth a look if you missed the flurry of supportive press from its initial rise to first trade publication. A crowd-pleaser.

imageJUL110247 ALL STAR SUPERMAN TP $29.99
MAY110722 FANTASTIC FOUR 1234 PREM HC $19.99
I don't have the easy access to memories of past DC offerings to know if this All-Star Superman trade Diamond has listed is the first time they've offered the Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's mini-series under one cover, but if it is, that's a fine superhero comic and should be read in its entirety like that so I'm not sure what took them so long or why they didn't initially wait for full collection. Then again, they're walking around in solid gold shoes at DC right now, so I should probably shut up with any backseat-driving crabbiness. The Fantastic Four HC collects a mini-series from several years back -- maybe even a decade now -- that featured some really good-looking art from Jae Lee and was kind of first in line in a rambling reconsideration of modern Marvel's first characters. I liked what working for Marvel did to Grant Morrison in terms of having him take on characters that didn't scratch his specific hero-idea itches as easily as the DC catalog does, but I may be the only one. I do note with some curiosity that you can probably have all four issues of the series for under $8 from any of the major back-issues purveyors.

APR110013 MIGHTY SAMSON #4 $3.50
This is the first time I've ever noticed one of these Jim Shooter-spearheaded old Gold Key license comic books, and that's because I thought it was something else entirely.

AUG110289 SWEET TOOTH #26 (MR) $2.99
MAR110587 INVINCIBLE #83 $2.99
JUL110554 WALKING DEAD #89 (MR) $2.99
AUG110607 AVENGERS 1959 #1 (OF 5) $2.99
AUG110930 ROGER LANGRIDGES SNARKED #1 $3.99
This is what I might buy with $20 in my pocket and on a quest to buy traditional comic books only. That's Jeff Lemire's well-regarded Vertigo book, now about 10 issues past where I would have guessed has you asked me outside the funnybook shop, the latest from Robert Kirkman's pair of successful serials, an Avengers comic book from Howard Chaykin that looks like territory you think someone would have explored at some point in the company's past, and a Roger Langridge comic that puts Langridge's name where it belong: right in the title. I might only end up buying the Langridge, but I'd think about the others, for sure.

JUN110962 ROGER LANGRIDGE THE SHOW MUST GO ON TP $19.99
I'd spend the rest of that $20 and a bit more on this, damn the rules.

MAY110416 ARCHIE AMERICANA HC VOL 02 THE 50S $24.99
JUN110466 ARCHIE BEST OF HARRY LUCEY HC VOL 01 $24.99
I long ago surrendered ever figuring out the crush of Archie reprints currently pelting the stands, which means I would be looking at each individual volume in the store. I think a lot of that material is worth owning, but I'm not sure which volumes match what I've conceived of in my head as worthwhile. A Harry Lucey books sounds pretty good, though.

AUG111091 BEST AMERICAN COMICS HC 2011 $25.00
Holy guacamole, this year is hurtling towards its conclusion. There's a pretty nice range of stuff in this latest of the Madden/Abel/Special Guest Star (this year it's Alison Bechdel) series, including confidently-selected snippets from longer work.

JUL111265 NATSUMES BOOK OF FRIENDS TP VOL 09 $9.99
JUL111148 NEGIMA OMNIBUS GN VOL 02 (MR) $19.99
These strike me as the worthiest manga series with new volumes out.

MAY111268 TEZUKA BOOK OF HUMAN INSECTS HC (MR) $21.95
I enjoyed the heck out of this latest Vertical offering from its devotion to the cartooning legend incredible run of pulpy, serious and slightly overheated works from the beginning of his vaunted career's latter stages. I think it's a gas to read, and I even spent some time with the book after devouring it multiple times simply picking visual motifs and laughing my way through their clever employment.

*****

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: Dick Sprang Draws The Life Of HG Wells

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Go, Look: Supermaker

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If I Were In Iowa City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Select Jack Kirby Imagery From The Demon #11

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the great Kim Deitch finishes up his life story through music. If you haven't been reading that series the second they've come out, maybe go bookmark the entire thing for some future, unstructured, in-front-of-a-computer time.

image* Kevin Czap discusses the bizarre and for-adults-only webcomics effort Slechtemeisjes.

* Matt Adler talks to Ivan Brandon. Dave Richards talks to Jan Van Meter. George A. Tramountanas talks to Daniel Way. Brigid Alverson talks to Box Brown. Paul Gravett talks to Dave Gibbons.

* not comics: Peter David's daughter is trying to raise money to save a theater in Jacksonville, Florida.

* I'm not the person that can even pass judgment on this piece featuring ten properties that could do well as digital comics, although it does seem likely that the Star Wars books could have an impressive life there if certain factors fall into place. Speaking of features in that horrible slideshow format, here's one from the same site on comic book properties that should be revived, which is mostly limited to a list of well-regarded superhero comics of the last dozen years that didn't quite make it sales-wise.

* Steve Rude draws Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy in his Andrew Loomis-like way.

* not comics: it seems like these kinds of disputes happen a lot, which is sort of crazy given the amount of money generated. As in comics, the amount of money involved often works against the creators in terms of public perception.

* Michael May suggests a different reading of some specific jungle girl comics than the standard one.

* these Archie covers make me feel funny.

image* not comics: a Lauren Weinstein print.

* the writer and critic Graeme McMillan discusses a list of improvements to the comics industry suggested by the writer Tony Isabella some 15 years ago, and point out that most of them are still a ways off yet.

* Alan Gardner digs up a list of top newspaper comics, pointing out that many of these are older strips from years back.

* David Brothers on Thunderbolts. Somebody I can't tell who it is on 2000 AD #s 1752-1753. Michael Cavna on Metamaus. Rob Clough on various NBM titles. Gavin "Gavok" Jasper on a bunch of new DC titles. Sean Gaffney on Shocking Pink. Don MacPherson reflects on DC's New 52 comics. Grant Goggans on Zatanna: Everyday Magic. Ed Sizemore on A Zoo In Winter. Johanna Draper Carlson on Usagi Yojimbo: Fox Hunt. Sharayah Read on Bump #4. Maggie Koerth-Baker on Hark! A Vagrant. CM Punk on Criminal.

* not comics: this report on forthcoming DC Comics-related cartoon offerings is probably a must-read if you're tracking that company's efforts to utilize their character library across different media. Or if you really like cartoons.

* retailer Brian Hibbs notes that he's selling a lot of comics these days that he's getting through Baker & Taylor.

* not comics: I have no idea how this ended up in my comics bookmarks, but it reminds me of someone saying once that the president that had the most gay friends was Ronald Reagan.

* finally, Frank Miller, Karen Berger and Jennifer and Matthew Holm have joined the CBLDF's fundraising initiative by offering incentives.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Jeff Nicholson!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Bil Keane!

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October 4, 2011


Go, Look: Some Blueberry Images For Sale

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

*****

* Marc Arsenault has re-entred the small press and indie-comix sales business with his Wow Cool store recently re-launching and Arsenault making an appearance on behalf of his business at last weekend's Alternative Press Expo. I guess that's not publishing news of the kind that usually gets put here, but it seems like there are fewer outlets in general for these kinds of books and even fewer of the one-man curated store variety that it's worth noting. Also, Wow Cool has published some comics work in the past.

image* Vertical announced a new licence in anticipation of more announcements this Fall in New York: the wonderfully-titled Flowers Of Evil.

* here's I guess the reason we're seeing a bunch of Shel Silverstein books out right now, with more apparently to come.

* here's a report for all the teasers on Marvel's 2012 plot-baseline setting series Point One.

* Art Adams will be covering IDW's Godzilla comics.

* Thickness #2 was an APE debut that may be OTBP for a lot of folks.

* Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens will be replacing George Perez on the Superman title. That's a veteran pair replacing a veteran creator, which seems a big part of DC's strategy on the top-tier characters.

* Paul Karasik placed a cartoon in the New Yorker this week. I wasn't 100 percent aware he was submitting.

* Benjamin Marra's Gangsta Rap Posse #2 is out, with jaw-dropping image in promotion.

* Papercutz picks up the Three Stooges license in advance of the forthcoming movie.

* finally, since this post began that way, let's end on some not-exactly-pure-publishing news. The cartoonist Frank Santoro has apparently discovered a last box of the original Storeyville publication, the tabloid version, and Copacetic Comics is selling them. If you don't have one, you want one.

*****

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Go, Look: Umbrella Kid

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Go, Look: An Art Gates Sampler

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

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Iowa City, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Anatomy Of A Two-Page Jack Kirby Spread

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the 2011 SPACE Prize nominees have been announced.

image* Jillian Tamaki shows off some of the work recently acquired by the Library of Congress.

* Frank Santoro ropes Ed Piskor into writing a Pittsburgh comics scene report.

* Kevin Melrose notes that DC's Dan DiDio is saying that the various line-wide, reality-bending "Crisis" series have been written out of the new DC continuity, which is the kind of thing that really matters to a lot of people and matters not at all to others. This seems a little bit interesting (and maybe only a little bit) in four ways. One, they can't totally write these events out because they've already established that some of that stuff happened in their new books -- slavish continuity is a sticky, sticky thing. Two, to some extent this speaks against the notion floated during the ramp-up that this material was almost a year in the making and was firmly planned -- a point that's much less important to maintain now that the initial Direct Market success has arrived. Three, writing out past events may make it easier for DC to do a Crisis-type reality-bending storyline for the "first time" a few years down the road. Four, this may betray some of what DC feels about the hardcore older fan as a target audience.

* a retailer writes a newspaper column.

* Craig Fischer on Pluto. Johanna Draper Carlson on Questionable Content Vol. 2 and Archie Archives Vols. 1-2. KC Carlson on a bunch of DC's new #1s. Christopher Allen on a slightly different bunch of new DC books. Greg McElhatton on Justice League Dark #1. Don MacPherson on Batman: The Dark Knight #1. Sean Gaffney on Negima! Magister Negi Magi Vol. 31.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco walks through those Siegel-Shuster statements of writer Grant Morrison several weeks back, and emphasizes how unfortunate they were.

* the legendary John Porcellino will be teaching a one-week, intensive workshop in Spring of 2012.

* a retailer round-up on DC's New 52 initiative.

image* please remember the month-long effort to raise money for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to meet its immediate needs. Today they spotlight some of their art auctions.

* not comics: I'm not sure why anyone should be surprised that Marvel seems intent on trying movies with lesser-known concepts after they've worked through movies with better-known concepts. For one thing, in terms of potential movie audiences Iron Man and Thor are basically not very well-known concepts. For another, I would assume they want to keep making films, and at some point you run out of characters comic book people perceive as top tier. For yet another, they had significant success early on with the movies featuring the minor character Blade. I would imagine a more interesting question is how you pay for a film that they can't pretend it's pre-sold in this era of super-inflated production costs and general studio preference for concepts like Bridesmaids. Marvel has been very creative with some of its cost-cutting measures on their movies.

* Michael Cavna talks about his interaction with the cartoonist Molly Norris that led to her being put on a hit list by the recently assassinated radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

* not comics: Philip Nel picks his ten Desert Island picture books.

* someone at ICv2.com talks to Yang Jae-hyun. Michael Rundle talks to Dave Gibbons. Josie Campbell talks to Tony Bedard. Cyriaque Lamar talks to Dan Clowes. Kim Thompson talks to Kim Thompson.

* one used to have to pretend to be moving towards a degree in another subject to spend one's grad school year's deep in the study of comics.

* if not every person's nightmare, every other person's.

* finally, I'm not sure who can see this picture from Facebook and who can't, but Tom Neely's Sparkplug tattoo is pretty nice-looking.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Chris Warner!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Mike Dawson!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Tod Smith!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Jim Siergey!

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October 3, 2011


Go, Look: Stormy Weather

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Image Announces Same-Day Digital And Print Comics Releases

PR is here. I've been advocating for a few years now that these big, serial comics-dependent comics companies release their books on the same day as their print comics and that they do so in a matter-of-fact way. Barring that, I hoped they would at least adopt some sort of industry standard as to when digital releases would come out. Having something set in stone about digital releases helps consumers both build up an expectation as to when comics are coming out, and, somewhat ironically, know with greater certainty which ones will be available to them whenever they want. The possibility that comic books were going to replicate their "it comes out when it comes out" habits on-line seemed like a wasted opportunity to me. I can't imagine now that the specter of total Direct Market collapse as soon as comics gained same-day availability has been punched in the face and pushed out of the moving car by DC Comics with their New 52 initiative that we shouldn't see a few more of these kinds of announcements in the months ahead.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Brian Bolland's Blog

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if nothing else, I think he could use a few folks hanging around to answer some questions
 
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Charles Brooks Sr., 1920-2011

imageCharles Brooks Sr., a mainstay of southern U.S. political cartooning in the mid-20th Century and the editor/founder of the Best Editorial Cartoons Of The Year series, died on September 29 at his home in Alabama. He was 90 years old.

Brooks was born in Covington County, Alabama in the unincorporated community of Hopewell (now Hopeful). He was an artist as a child, constantly studying newspaper and editorial comics and spending much of his free time with pencil and paper. Brooks studied at Birmingham-Southern college following high school before making the trip north to learn from Vaughn Shoemaker of the Chicago Daily News and the other distinguished faculty of that era's Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Brooks met his future wife during his initial sojourn north, which lasted for approximately two years.

Brooks entered the US Army in 1942, becoming a second lieutenant with the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment. He participated in the D-Day invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. He also found time to contribute cartoon work to the military publication Stars And Stripes.

Brooks moved back to Chicago for a few years after the war, apparently finding work with an outfit at the Fred Zaner Advertising Cartoon Syndicate. He began to search for opportunities back in Alabama and was hired by the Birmingham News as its cartoonist in 1948. Brooks quickly garnered attention in the region as a no-nonsense populist unafraid to take on corrupt government officials, the Ku Klux Klan, or the deeply unfortunate conflation of those two groups.

Brooks won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for outstanding editorial cartoon in 1960 for a piece that appeared in 1959 called "Two Deadly Weapons" about unsafe driving. One of Brooks' most famous cartoons was a piece in late 1966 showing Disney cartoon characters gathered around the grave of the just-passed Walt Disney. One biography states that Brooks won 13 Freedom Foundation Awards, a VFW national award, and two Vigilante Patriot awards. He was a widely published illustrator as well, serving hundreds of different clients.

In 1969, Brooks became president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. It was while in that position that he conceived of and started work on the Best Editorial Cartoons Of The Year series, launched in January 1972 by Pelican Books (a 30th anniversary edition will be released in 2012; its status beyond that is uncertain). According to the piece linked-to in this post's initial paragraph, five volumes of that book were banned in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s.

He retired from the Birmingham News in 1985, a rare figure both for the support of other cartoonists he showed through his annual series and for being a socially conscious conservative cartoonist in a field that has historically featured relatively few of either kind. According to Michael Cavna, Richard Nixon once called Brooks the Herblock of the Right.

Scott Stantis remembers the cartoonist here.

Charles Brooks Sr. is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. He was scheduled to be buried today.

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Go, Bookmark: Margot's Room By Emily Carroll

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click on the flowers
 
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Prism Comics 2011 Queer Press Grant Goes To Robert Kirby

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Prism Comics has given its 2011 Queer Press Grant to Robert Kirby, the cartoonist and publisher behind the gay/lesbian comics anthology Three. Kirby, whose career extends back to the early 1990s, has published two issues of the anthology so far, and the grant is expected to assist in the effort of publishing more. Kirby is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his comic Curbside (1991-2008); he's also known for the anthology Boy Trouble, which he co-edited with David Kelly.

Past winners of the grant include Tana Ford, Eric Orner, Justin Hall and Steve MacIsaac. Kirby's web site can be found here.
 
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Go, Bookmark: A Richard Short Site

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Go, Bookmark: Stephen DeStefano's Tumblr Site

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Go, Look: A Gluyas Williams Sampler

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Not Comics: Death Of The Creative Class

imageA bunch of you have sent along this opinion piece by Scott Timberg at Salon about the shudder, heave and ongoing collapse of what some pundits thought would be a kind of super-bohemian class of creative people springing up around North America and the world as the Internet started to become ubiquitous 10 to 15 years ago. I imagine that a lot of comics people will find a great deal that's recognizable in the article. That's my main problem with the piece, actually; its broad characterizations flatter everyone that's ever made anything or worked in a video store for a couple of years into thinking that they'd certainly be living the dream if it weren't for a vague conspiracy of corporate interests and amateur seekers of free. In fact, it's sort of an odd article in that it's hard to deny its main claims -- that a middle class for creative people and entrepreneurs working in those same general areas has been blasted away -- but it's also difficult to accept its vaguely-stated support arguments, endorse its scope or feel a lot of sympathy for some of its examples. Still, it's worth a read if only for its recognition of this particular struggle. Comics could use a more honest dialogue about who profits and why.
 
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Missed It: Lavishly Illustrated Michael DeForge Interview

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Go, Look: Devil Bird

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Michael Cavna provides an introduction to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as an editorial cartoon subject.

* Shannon Smith has a lengthy piece here on DC Comics' recent publishing initiatives, using Animal Man #1 as a focal point.

image* there's a new Steve Ditko comic out from Robin Snyder.

* that Dan Clowes design sketch for the benefit of Dylan Williams' family looks like it will go for a healthy amount, which is great.

* Dustin Harbin on Hark! A Vagrant. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Supergods. Brigid Alverson on four mini-comics. Rob Clough on The Collected John G. Miller: 1990-1999 and Frog & Owl. David Brothers on The Book Of Human Insects. Esther Inglis-Arkell on Catwoman #1. Sean Gaffney on Kitty Hawker. Don MacPherson on All Star Western #1. Greg McElhatton on Sailor Moon Vol. 1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Daredevil #4. Philip Shropshire on The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969. Francisca Goldsmith on The Hidden.

* not comics: Crockett Johnson recommends a book.

* not comics: Mo Willems visits Eric Carle's studio.

* Alan David Doane talks about publishing comics and some books he has for sale. Not in the same post.

* Stephen Gerding asks five questions of the DC Comics/Kindle deal.

* not comics: it would be nice if they could revive this as I think they're going to do some filming down here and that part of the local economy could use a boost even if it's at a reduced rate. Then again, the thought of a budget-conscious $215 million movie production makes a part of me want to leave society and live in a cave.

* not comics: the curious thing about Entertainment Weekly's coverage of the forthcoming Avengers movie is they apparently couldn't score an actual group photo for a proper cover. I mean, I assume the magazine would have wanted one, and I can't think the studio wants to see something that goofy-looking hit the stands as major initial advance publicity for a movie like that.

* no Richard Rory?

* Pádraig Ó Méalóid talks to Kevin O'Neill. Mike Rhode talks to Jim Ottaviani. Kiel Phegley talks to Seth and Axel Alonso. Jonah Weiland talks to Chris Roberson. Shaun Manning talks to Joshua Williamson. Chris Mautner talks to Matthew Thurber. Vaneta Rogers talks to Charles Brownstein. Alan Bisbort talks to Michael Kupperman.

* not comics: more Roger Ebert 'zine contributions.

* I could see very much liking a Shang-Chi story written by Warren Ellis and drawn by David Aja. Of all the comics in Marvel's second burst -- that period from the initial departure of Jack Kirby to Secret Wars -- it always seemed to me that the late '70s/early '80s run of Master Of Kung Fu comics was the one group of stories Marvel did that would most easily translate into their present-day superhero espionage fixation. It's a far better fit than Steve Englehart's Captain America is, for instance.

* here's a nice-looking Dave Cooper poster on Facebook I'm not sure everyone can see. If you can't, sorry!

* finally, The Best Of PS Magazine profiles the best of the brief period when Zeke Zekely held the PS Magazine contract.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Rob Liefeld!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Ivan Brunetti!

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October 2, 2011


Katie Longua Wins 2011 Isotope Mini-Comics Award

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This is the Isotope Award For Excellence In Mini-Comics, a yearly award given out by the comics shop and social space to a mini-comics maker. Past winners include Josh Cotter and Will Dinski. Longua's web site is here. I think this award is tied into a specific mini-comics: I'm not sure the above image is the one that won, but it's her latest. Congratulations to the winner; I hope it was a fun night.
 
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Go, Look: Joe Quesada's Sunday Routine

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OTBP: Stay Away From Other People

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Go, Look: Cartoons From World Encyclopedia Of Cartoons

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Go, Look: Wood Elves & Eel Hill

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Go, Look: Ken And Earl Webcomics

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Go, Look: Eternal Kirby

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

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Happy 51st Birthday, Barbara Kesel!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Jessica Johnson!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Bill Schelly!

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Happy 72nd Birthday, Ron Turner!

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FFF Results Post #269 -- All With One Number

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Favorite Single Issues That All Have The Same Issue Number." This is how they responded.

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Tom Bondurant

1. New Teen Titans vol. 1 #4,
2. FF vol. 1 #4
3. Avengers vol. 1 #4,
4. Ambush Bug #4
5. Cerebus #4

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Scott Dunbier

* Avengers #4 (Cap is back!)
* Fantastic Four #4 (so is Subby)
* Kamandi #4 (Enter Tuftan)
* Love and Rockets #4 (100 Rooms -- one great kiss)
* Shadow #4 (Kaluta inked by Wrightson!!)

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Paul Sloboda

Hi Tom,

1) Alpha Flight #11 "Set-Up"

They introduced Omega Flight; I loved the character / concept / apartment of Roger Bochs / Box; and the main story to the comic was only TWELVE PAGES LONG... I'd never seen a Marvel comic story so short, prior to that.

2) Elementals #11 "The Disordered Man"

Conclusion of the Sanction storyline. Especially the bit where the codeword is given & Sanction turns into, what, a homeless woman? This struck me as nicely bizarre.

3) Micronauts #11 "We Are The Engima Force"

Conclusion of Baron Karza's (first) rule of Homeworld; a gorgeous cover & story by Michael Golden; and, bought for me by my grandma, the very first comic I ever read, and ever owned.

4) StrangeHaven #11 "a horizontal sprawl of relationships"

The one with Basil Fawlty. Love it!

5) Watchmen #11 "Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty…"

"I did it thirty-five minutes ago."

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Alan David Doane

1. Street Angel #1
2. Marvel Boy #1
3. The Authority #1
4. Miracleman #1
5. Acme Novelty Library #1

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Amazing Spider-Man #248
2. Fantastic Four #248
3. Batman #248
4. Captain America #248
5. World's Finest #248

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John Vest

1. Fantastic Four #10
2. Love & Rockets Vol. 2 #10
3. American Flagg #10
4. Howard The Duck #10
5. Bizarre Sex #10

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Michael Grabowski

1. Love & Rockets Vol. 1 #20
2. Cerebus #20
3. Acme Novelty Library #20
4. Saga of the Swamp Thing #20
5. Love & Rockets Vol. 2 #20

*****

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Robert Berry

* Avengers #16
-"The Old Order Changeth"
Possibly the most important event in my early understanding of how "my older brother's comics" were now "my kind of comics."

* Fantastic Four #16
-"The Micro-World of Doctor Doom"
Revisited many times in FF history for the great story potential.

* Amazing Spider-Man #16
-"Dual With Daredevil"
They meet, they fight. Obvious, but cool.

* Daredevil #16
-"Enter... Spider-man!"
They meet again and fight again, but this time with a reason.

* Champions #16
-"A World Lost!"
Seriously. This is part of the "mini-crossover event" from Super-Villain Team-Up in which Doom rules the entire world to play a game with Magneto. Hard to believe, but Super-Villain Team-Up was a big deal at the time.

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Jake Kujava

1. Mad #3 (Kurtzman)
2. Fantastic Four Annual #3
3. Rubber Blanket #3
4. Acme Novelty Library #3
5. Blazing Combat #3

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Thomas Scioli

1. New Gods #7
2. Tom Strong #7
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey #7
4. Mister Miracle #7
5. Conan the Barbarian #7

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Mark Coale

1. Starman 19
2. Animal Man 19
3. Sandman 19
4. Doom Patrol 19
5. Planetary 19

*****

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M. Emery

1. 2000AD #4
2. Digested #4
3. Oink #4
4. Beasts of Burden #4
5. Eagle #4 ('80s iteration)

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topic suggested by Tom Bondurant; thanks, Tom

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


An Interview With Peter Bagge


The Secret History Of Women In Comics
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Sam Hiti Featured In Promotion For Educational Comics
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Trailer For Metamaus


People Send Me Stuff Like This All Of The Time


Trailer For Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts
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Trailer For Forthcoming Matthew Thurber Work
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Sergio Aragones At Wonder Con 2011


Trailer For Something Called Dry Spell


After Hours At Comic-Con International


Profile Of Secret Headquarters
via
 
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October 1, 2011


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from September 25 to September 30, 2011:

1. American military forces assassinate the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the person that put cartoonist Molly Norris on a hitlist for her "Everybody Draw Muhammed Day" joke.

2. Turkey's bid to be the worst country in the world to be a cartoonist continues, as Bahadir Baruter will be charged for a cartoon from last Spring that contained a hidden, anti-religious message.

3. Cartoonist Mussaveer held overnight in India for joke about a political figure refusing to cover his head in some sort of religious place. These stories are always depressing, but this one looks like one of those that's doubly so in that no razzing of the religion seemed to be on the cartoonist's mind. Rather, he was engaging something that really happened.

Winner Of The Week
Albert Uderzo. Say what you will about his solo Asterix albums as compared to the classics, that's still a lovely, lively style he's employed and one hell of a sales run. I hope he has a happy and contented retirement.

Loser Of The Week
I'd say this guy was a pretty big loser this week.

Quote Of The Week
"My job never actually leaves me. I watch people who come home from work at six and they're done, and that seems crazy. Then again, they have to get up at seven and go to work, to a job that maybe they don't really care about, and I get to do something that I care about. It's the same old complaint and struggle that everybody who does this sort of thing goes through. Because you're carrying the whole thing by yourself." -- Kate Beaton

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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 Nashville, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were Near A Participating Location, I'd Do This

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

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Happy 34th Birthday, A. David Lewis!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Ande Parks!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Bill Spicer!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Richard Corben!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Dave Dorman!

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Missed It: Cleric Who Called For Death Of Seattle Cartoonist Slain

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It's not that I missed this slightly terrifying political assassination, I just temporarily forgot that this was the guy that drove threats in the direction of cartoonist Molly Norris, forcing her into hiding.
 
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Eric Drooker Has Made A Pretty Poster For Occupy The Streets

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