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
















March 31, 2012


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 24 to March 30, 2012:

1. Ali Ferzat ends a recent trip to Great Britain from where he's staying in Kuwait with a BCC interview where he talks in forceful, forthright fashion about his beating at the hands of pro-government thugs and his plans to eventually return to Syria. He also talks about being unable to make comics art right away, which I don't think has been part of his statements until now.

2. Al Ross, oldest living New Yorker cartoonist whose work appeared in that publication over seven different decades, dies in New York.

3. With the Doug Wright Awards, the Stumptown Fest-related awards and the NCS divisional awards all announcing nominees, and with the Eisner nominations due sometime next week, the 2012 awards season officially kicks off.

Winner Of The Week
Comics creators as engines that make -- and through which we meet -- so many remarkable characters.

Losers Of The Week
All of us, including and maybe particularly myself, for the ways we haven't made a natural value of torshe comics community a reverence for the character creation abilities of so many comics-makers.

Quote Of The Week
"Was there a question?" -- Ellen Forney

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today's cover is one of a few I bought for $2 a pop at ECCC

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

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

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

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If I Were In Birmingham, 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 Tijuana, I'd Go To This

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Brynocki was created by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy.

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* The character Dave of Thune was created by Mike Baron and Steve Rude.

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* The character Crackajack Jackson was created by Len Wein and Herb Trimpe.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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March 30, 2012


Your 2012 Stumptown Comic Arts Awards Final Nominees

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The Stumptown Comics Fest has announced the final lists of its nominees for the 2012 iteration of the Stumptown Comic Arts Awards. You can vote for your favorites on the jury-compiled list here. Winners will be announced at the official festival After Party on April 28.

BEST WRITER
* Joshua Williamson -- Sketch Monsters
* Phillip Gelatt -- Petrograd
* Cullen Bunn -- The Sixth Gun Volume Two: Crossroads
* Brandon Graham -- Prophet
* John Arcudi and Mike Mignola -- BPRD: Hell on Earth: Russia

BEST ARTIST
* Tyler Crook -- Petrograd, BPRD: Hell on Earth: Russia
* Fiona Staples -- Saga
* Gary Gianni -- Monster Men
* Brian Hurt -- The Sixth Gun Volume Two: Crossroads
* Jonathan Case -- Green River Killer

BEST CARTOONIST
* Stan Sakai -- Usagi Yojimbo: Fox Hunt
* Roman Muradov -- The Yellow Zine
* Ray Fawkes -- One Soul
* Jaime Hernandez -- Love and Rockets
* Carla Speed McNeil -- Finder

BEST LETTERER
* Nate Piekos -- Green River Killer
* Stan Sakai -- Usagi Yojimbo: Fox Hunt
* Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis -- Manara Library
* Roman Muradov -- The Yellow Zine
* Doug Sherwood -- Petrograd

BEST COLORIST
* Bill Crabtree -- The Sixth Gun Volume Two: Crossroads
* Dave Stewart -- Hellboy: House of the Living Dead; Chimichanga
* Roman Muradov -- The Yellow Zine
* Richard Ballermann -- The Prophet
* Diana Nock -- The Intrepid Girlbot: Unconditional Volume One

BEST PUBLICATION DESIGN
* Petrograd -- Tyler Crook and Keith Wood
* Any Empire -- Nate Powell
* Luci's Let Down -- Marjee Chmiel and Sandra Lanz
* Kus! #9 -- Ryan Sands
* Dotter of her Father's Eyes --Bryan Talbot

BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Dark Horse Presents -- edited by Mike Richardson
* Elf World #2 -- edited by Francois Vigneault
* Lies Grownups Told Me -- edited by Nomi Kane, Jen Vaughn, Caitlin M.
* Kus! #9 - edited by Ryan Sands
* Study Group Magazine - edited by Zack Soto

BEST SMALL PRESS
* Gangsta Rap Posse #2 -- Benjamin Marra
* The Intrepid Girlbot: Unconditional, Volume One -- Diana Nock
* Fugue #1 -- Beth Hetland
* Luci's Let Down -- Marjee Chmiel and Sandra Lanz
* Study Group Magazine #1

BEST NEW TALENT
* Jonathan Case -- Dear Creature, Green River Killer
* Roman Muradov -- The Yellow Zine
* Diana Nock -- The Intrepid Girlbot: Unconditional Volume One
* Marjee Chmiel -- Luci's Let Down
* Jonny Negron -- Diamond Comics #6

That's a fine list; I'm glad to see the Sands-edited anthology nominated, for example, and whenever vastly respected talents like Jaime Hernandez (who should be on every awards list this year or I have serious reservations about that list) and Stan Sakai are nominated in an awards slate at the same time Benjamin Marra and Jonny Negron receive nods, I think that's fun.

I have to say, though, and I hope I can express this without in any way casting aspersions on many of the fine nominees above, that it's hard for me to grasp the specific purpose of this program. I'd welcome a letter from an administrator or jury member providing their point of view. These nominations seem hugely ambitious in terms of the number of categories, which seems to me it would diminish the modest press bump and accumulation of status over time that comes with something like the more restrictive slate the Doug Wright Awards offer. With open on-line voting, these aren't really festival awards in the way that I understand festival awards. An award that extended the branding of the Fest might make sense if one could see a direct reflection of the festival in the awards slate beyond that these seem to be (I don't know for sure) the folks showing up at this year's show, but from my vantage I look at this slate and I could see it being reflective of any number of shows. So color me a bit confused.
 
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Go, Read: An Al Ross Appreciation

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Bob Mankoff has written a fine appreciation of the late Al Ross here. It focuses on the development of his art style into the much-lauded direct-ink approach for which Ross was praised by many of his obituary writers.


 
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Go, Look: Sam Bosma

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Go, Read: Marvel's David Gabriel On Various Sales-Related Stories

There's some reasonably compelling material in this CBR interview with Marvel's David Gabriel about various issues related to the sales and the selling of their superhero comic books, almost none of it the slightly hard-to-believe company line that gets toed. Simply put, it's difficult for me to believe these companies when they insist they're not interested in market share when their policies seem to be designed to win market share. It seems much more likely to me that the diminishing of winning market share as a viable goal is more rhetorical strategy than a viably incredulous claim that everyone seems to misunderstand what they're doing. I have similar doubts about Gabriel's defense of higher price points as having a direct tie-in to unit sales in a way that directly justifies the higher price point.

What I found a bit more intriguing in here is stuff like the identification of Marvel's last editorial high-point (the Astonishing X-Men launch/Avengers Disassembled period, which indicates that Marvel is trying to launch a second major cycle of story arcs rather than right the ship on this one) and the idea that digital will eventually work in completely different ways than print. I think that last part is true, but I don't think this necessarily means that both systems necessarily maintain their integrity.
 
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Go, Look: Feral Boy And Gilgamesh

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Five Things I Learned Doing Characters And Creators Month

imageThis Saturday ends a month where I tried to make a special effort when it came to linking mentions of comics character to their creators. I did this because I thought I didn't do it enough, that I was way too willing to talk about certain characters as if they sprang full-formed from some corporate entity. In addition to trying to contextualize characters in regular, daily coverage, I chose to make a series of daily posts explicitly listing three characters and their creators. I had fun doing this.

These are my impressions as this month wraps up.

1. I think the lack of natural, easy and accurate connections we make from creators to characters is evidence the comics industry doesn't value creators as much as it should.
While there are a lot of characters linked to specific creators out there, other characters aren't described this way at all, still others are described in partial and conflicting terms and sometimes sources that claim to know who created X, Y, or Z have it flat wrong. I was also surprised by how much I didn't know, how many characters I assumed were created by one person that were actually created by another. It was tough to make up lists of three in natural fashion. I think if such information enjoyed greater common currency, it'd be easier to riff on various groupings; I was completely unable to do so.

2. The comics industry should value creators this way, because comics-makers are freaking awesome at creating memorable characters.
There are so many great characters out there, and almost every comics creator of import created several on their own. I think this point struck me most poignantly when I was looking at some Peter Bagge work. I was laughing at a Studs Kirby strip when it hit me that by a reasonable person's measurement (not my own; I love the guy) Studs might not even be in the top 10 of characters Bagge has created. That's a great, great character, and he might not start on the Peter Bagge Fantastic Characters softball team! Some creators are like that. You also have those creators that have created incredibly deep benches in their respective "universes," like Garry Trudeau and Los Bros Hernandez.

3. Linking characters to creators in the course of daily commentary was harder than I thought it would be.
Once I got the hang of the daily updates, those became easier and fun. What was difficult was mainstreaming those values into my coverage, which is the main point of embracing this exercise. I expect to struggle with it in the future, too. We really seem to have a value as a community that stresses company ownership over creative pedigree.

4. Historical antecedents and developmental talents didn't complicate things as much as a lot of people swore it would.
When I announced the project, one thing I heard back from well-meaning people and cross-armed Internet lawyers is that I would be doing a grave disservice to people that developed characters by mentioning the original creators and not those creators that added X, Y, Z element to the character. I didn't find this to be the case. I think the key is that by embracing this exercise this site isn't defining these characters by their original creators in contrast to recognizing their current creative teams or the key creators in their development. Hopefully it's being done as opposed to describing these creations in terms of their ownership. I think that applies to the general issue as well. I suspect that giving credit to original creators can be done and giving credit to people that have added to and developed characters can be done, and I'm not certain why that has to be placed in opposition except to somehow devalue both.

5. If creating characters is going to be a major strength of the comics industry moving forward, recognizing the creators of those characters becomes that much more important.
Doing the daily lists put a smile on my face and I hope a few of you out there find it more fun than didactic. We do a pretty good job now in comics of finding value in comics' literary value and entertainment value -- we're not winning that fight, but there's a fight and we're getting our shots in. Let me suggest that there are also positives in recognizing elements that aren't so squarely focused on the whole. I don't think the best way to see comics is as a series of opportunities for pin-ups or pretty art, but there sure is a lot of pretty art out there. Similarly, I don't think that comics is best understood in terms of intellectual property development -- now there's a phrase to put a little puke in your mouth -- but let's face it: comics-makers are great character-makers, too, and I'm as blessed in many ways by getting to meet J. Wellington Wimpy as I am reading what he does in Thimble Theatre. Why not turn this into a boon for the creative community? They deserve it.
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Athens, 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 Atlanta, I'd Go To This

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Maggie Chascarillo was created by Jaime Hernandez.

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* The character Gaara was created by Masashi Kishimoto.

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* The character Obélix was created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Eric Stephenson of Image on sell-outs. It's always been slightly absurd how many folks accept the standard spin on this particular market development.

image* go, look: Kid Clampdown. I don't get a whole lot of unsolicited links that turn out to be interesting, but that was one.

* Rob Clough on various minis. Todd Klein on Green Lantern: New Guardians #6 and Swamp Thing #7. Johanna Draper Carlson on 20th Century Boys Vol. 19. Sean Gaffney on Bunny Drop Vol. 5. Leroy Douresseaux on Kamisama Kiss Vol. 8. Erica Friedman on Tsubomi Vol. 16. Katherine Dacey on The Sabertooth Vampire. Greg McElhatton on Take What You Can Carry. Grant Goggans on Mazeworld. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comics. Kelly Thompson on The New Deadwardians #1.

* a University of Texas student cartoonist was fired for her Trayvon Martin cartoon. It makes me very uncomfortable when someone is fired for the content of a cartoon, even when that content sounds completely idiotic.

* great to see that some folks bought that wonderful Bill Mauldin Back Home book at Amazon's major discount.

* Mike Dean has penned a piece I have yet to read on MoCCA, a kind of summary article on what they've accomplished and what they haven't over the last decade. The comments section is pretty interesting, too. I did read some of that. It slays me that grown-ups will actually argue the "why don't you donate/contribute rather than criticize?" thing as if that's a real argument. I would imagine that some folks criticize rather than donate/contribute to an institution or a cause because they feel the thing in question is worth criticizing more than it is something worth donating/contributing to. That anyone seems to believe that this kind of thinking isn't just a strong counter-argument but actually trumps the impetus of criticism is mind-boggling to me.

* Dean follows up with a Lawrence Klein interview today at TCJ.

* a meal and conversation with several comics industry folk.

* not comics: Seth makes a nice-looking cover.

* I'm grateful for this press release for its succinct summation of where Nerdist Industries came from. I'm always a little suspicious of advisory boards and of endeavors to capitalize on a way of looking at art that seems to be working from the outside in.

* here's a lengthy report from that recent comics symposium in New York.

* Dave Richards talks to Rick Remender. Matt Staggs talks to Queenie Chan.

* One Piece moves units.

* finally, Johanna Draper Carlson on What Happened To Comic Book Ads? I remember when I noticed that Wizard had very few ads, six months later Wizard was gone.
 
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March 29, 2012


Please Consider Buying Seth Art To Benefit Ailing Writer

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The cartoonist Seth is among those artists donating work to a benefit auction for the writer Derek McCormack, who just underwent an operation for cancer. The site is here. They are gorgeous pieces, Seth is one of the more conscientious comics people, and it's for a great cause.
 
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Thoughts And Prayers With The Great S. Clay Wilson

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I'm hearing the great S. Clay Wilson is not responding well to recent surgery. I'm on the road right now, with intermittent on-line access, so while I will keep up with the situation as best I can, I can't promise you anything immediate if there are developments. Wilson is one of the great, crucial cartoonists of the last 50 years, the man who gave the underground comix cartoonists the permission to work from the underground; all thoughts and prayers are with him and those that provide his care.
 
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Go, Look: Cyril Pedrosa's Blog

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this weekend is Emerald City Comicon, which is in the major regional show category and getting a bit more major every year. They seem to have done a pretty good job of folding an aggressive media-guest track without irritating any of the comics people, many of whom have genuine affection for the event. If travel worked out okay, I'll be there sitting in the back of the room for various panels, and attending the Fantagraphics pinball-related party in Belltown Saturday night. I hope to see some of you there.

* I keep forgetting to say so, but Konami Kanata is scheduled to appear at TCAF this year.

* in other TCAF news I forgot to post, The Marriott Bloor/Yorkville will be the official hotel this year, with a special convention rate.

* finally, Mark Evanier talks about WonderCon complaints. I think I get what he's saying, although I think that complaints about the town and any peccadilloes of attending convention in said town are fair game. They're not fair game in terms of blaming the nice people that work on the con, but where a con is held and what that means I think are legitimate avenues for analysis.
 
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Go, Look: Jerome Lereculey

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Venus was created by Gilbert Hernandez.

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* The character Zonker Harris was created by Garry Trudeau.

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* The character Agrippine was created by Claire Bretécher.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Chris Staros continues his lifelong comics odyssey by adding "teaching" to the list of things he's done.

image* go, look: Retelling Planet Stories. This is a Matt Madden-style sounding experiment where Nicolas Labarre is doing the same page from an issues of Planet Comics over and over again.

* JK Parkin on Bloodstrike.

* so I guess Warner Brothers now wants a trial on various Superman-related matters. The legal stuff is always interesting to me, but it doesn't have an impact on how I feel about the company's treatment of creators over the decades and their legacy for doing so. It's shameful that the families of such a massively profitable character weren't rewarded in a way that brings about this sort of legal tussle, particularly in that the families don't seem to have reason for doing this other than to receive what they feel is a greater reward.

* this Ward Sutton cartoon about the Mad Men characters is fun, although a bit uneven. I like his really old Don Draper.

* Jonah Weiland talks to Tom Brevoort. Tim O'Shea talks to Brian Churilla.

* Kelly Thompson writes about a major plot point in the new Wonder Woman comics. Sometimes I think if these companies would just commit to a half-dozen comics featuring iconic, kids-friendly versions of the characters it would be easier for fans to process plot points like this as something specific to an interpretation as opposed to a new "reality" that has the weight of being the official version. Does anyone really think the official version of Wonder Woman in our collective cultural impression of that character doesn't include something because the 1458th comic book about the character has decided on a new direction?

* this is what Bastien Vives looks like. I'm not sure why his work hasn't broken over here yet, if only in the relatively modest way that accomplished work of that type can break.

* comics' Edenic apple core continues to drift upwards in auction price.

* Peter Bagge isn't just an under-appreciated comic book creator in the broadest way those things are measured; he's under-appreciated in terms of his more general contributions to American culture. Here's a preview of his latest.

* Dan DiDio picks ten favorite comics from his decade-long and still-ongoing run at DC Comics.

* I haven't seen the actual comics yet, but Alan Davis strikes me as one of those guys who is both adored by superhero comics fans but in a way sort of underpublished.

* finally, Robotman is comics' ultimate wingman.
 
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March 28, 2012


Go, Look: Barbara Shermund

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Nicole Hollander Announces The Retirement Of Sylvia

The cartoonist Nicole Hollander has announced the retirement of her three-decades-plus strip Sylvia, although re-postings of older work on her site will continue.

I used to enjoy that strip in the Chicago Tribune where it being eased from the pages seems to have been the first shoe dropping with this being the other one. Hollander's work was different than a lot of what appears on the comics page, just in terms of how she draws and how she cartoons, and I thought the Sylvia character nailed a specific type as well as anyone could be expected to do so.

Thank you for the comics, Ms. Hollander, and congratulations on your run.
 
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Go, Look: Aisha Franz

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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.

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NOV111117 TEZUKA DORORO COMP TP ED $24.95
I'm not as interested in this material by Osamu Tezuka as I am in that splendid period when he was making feverish adult-style longer works, but this is a really good format for this work and the cartooning is of course a frequent joy.

imageDEC110436 TORPEDO HC VOL 05 $24.99
Those Torpedo books are gorgeous, like "she'll never talk to you" good-looking. Ridiculous.

JAN120582 BULLETPROOF COFFIN DISINTERRED #3 (OF 6) (MR) $3.99
DEC118207 FATALE #1 VAR CVR 4TH PTG (MR) $3.50
JAN128085 INVINCIBLE #89 VAR CVR 2ND PTG $2.99
NOV110462 MORNING GLORIES #17 (MR) $2.99
JAN120608 WALKING DEAD #95 (MR) $2.99
JAN120672 DAREDEVIL #10 $2.99
JAN120981 ROGER LANGRIDGES SNARKED #6 $3.99
This strikes me as a very strong week for comic-book comics -- the kind I personally like and the kind that are generally well regarded, a smattering from each category I present to you above. The big comic book reprint news of the week is likely to be the fifth reprinting on the Action Comics #1 effort, but the Fatale #1 fourth printing strikes me as a much bigger deal -- better comic, tougher category.

DEC111078 CINEMA PANOPTICUM GN $16.99
I assume this is a new edition of the Thomas Ott, in which case I already have it. If you don't, those books tend to hold up really well over time.

JAN121095 ABANDON THE OLD IN TOKYO TP (MR) $16.95
JAN121094 PUSH MAN AND OTHER STORIES TP (MR) $16.95
You want these Tastumi re-releases, too. My apologies if they're tied into a new release I'm missing while looking at the list.

JAN120778 GONZO A GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY OF HUNTER S THOMPSON $17.95
I don't know anything about this one, other than I remember it coming out earlier so I suspect this is a new edition. I'd definitely look it over.

NOV110226 GONE TO AMERIKAY HC (MR) $24.99
I don't know very much about this stand-alone effort from veterans Derek McCulloch, Colleen Doran and José Villarrubia, but that's not for lack of information out there and available. I'd pick it up and check it out for sure. I always sort of feel that Vertigo doesn't feel all the way confident in their OGNs, like it's the kind of song they don't particularly like to do at karaoke or something. At the same time, I think it could be a fruitful avenue to them, more fruitful than it has been, anyway.

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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: Brian Churilla

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* while a lot of the focus on the hangover aspects of the Danish Cartoons Crisis has been on reactions of those objecting to the cartoons, there is also a great deal of passion from those reacting to the reaction in a "Battle Of Civilizations" way.

* here's a classic hangover article about on traveler encountering various opinions regarding the cartoons several years later.

* if I'm reading this correctly, this is a politically moderate South African writer trying to wrap his mind around the incident, subsequent depictions and some of the arguments made around both.

* Dutch, Danish... they both start with a D. A better writer than I am would kill with a Djibouti joke right here.
 
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If I Were In Atlanta, I'd Go To This

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Peter Loony was created by Dash Shaw.

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* The character Lyman Johnson was created by Jim Davis.

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* The character Caspar Milquetoast was created by HT Webster.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* missed it: this year's National Newspaper Awards finalists.

image* missed it: Drew Friedman on the caricature art of John Johns.

* arts blogger and alt-comics industry veteran (retired from comics division) Robert Boyd has news and links up about a George Kuchar exhibit.

* I always look forward to more work from Julia Wertz.

* David Chelsea talks perspective and the latest Ivan Brunetti New Yorker cover.

* I love that in comics when there's a news story about legalized brothels in Ontarios, I get multiple e-mails with Chester Brown-related headlines.

* three Hernandez brothers, a Hatfield, and some guy I don't know who that is.

* Mike Dawson and Alex Robinson talk to Tony Consiglio and Josh Flanagan. Someone at Mulholland Books talks to Brian Bendis.

* Doug Tennapel reminds that it's the making of the books rather than the talking about the making of books that's important. I'm sort of fond of both, but I would have to be.

* Frank Santoro on a bunch of comics sitting on his desk. His desk sounds pretty great.

* Joe Keatinge can plan my weekend anytime.

* finally, I don't really have a link for this, but apparently Paul Karasik is teaching a course this summer at CCS. That sounds good.
 
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March 27, 2012


Doug Wright Awards Names Its 2012 Finalists; Announces Terry "Aislin" Mosher To Hall Of Fame

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The Doug Wright Awards have announced their finalists for the 2012 iteration of their annual awards ceremony. Terry "Aislin" Mosher will be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. The program also named the finalists for its three more customary, yearly awards: Best Book, Doug Wright Spotlight Award (for talent deserving wider recognition) and the Pigskin Peters Award (for avant garde/experimental comics). They are:

Best Book
* Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Lose #3 by Michael Deforge (Koyama Press)
* Mid-Life by Joe Ollmann (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Paying for It by Chester Brown (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Reunion by Pascal Girard (Drawn and Quarterly)
* The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists by Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)

Doug Wright Spotlight Award ("The Nipper")
* Emily Carroll for "The Seven Windows" (from The Anthology Project vol. 2), "Margot's Room" and "The Prince & the Sea" (and other comics at emcarroll.com/comic).
* Patrick Kyle for Black Mass #5-6
* Betty Liang for Wet T-Shirt #1, "It's Only a Secret if You Don't Tell Anyone" (in š! #9), "Anna Freud's Recurring Dream" (and other comics at bettyliang.tumblr.com)
* Ethan Rilly for Pope Hats #2 (AdHouse Books)
* Zach Worton for The Klondike (Drawn and Quarterly)

Pigskin Peters Award
* Hermoddities by Temple Bates (Conundrum Press)
* Pure Pajamas by Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Hellberta by Michael Comeau (Koyama Press)
* Various comics including those at connorwillumsen.com by Connor Willumsen

The awards are scheduled for May 5 at Jackman Hall at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Mosher will also be a guest of the festival, and will participate in an on-stage discussion of his life and career during the awards ceremony with writer Rick Salutin.

The nominees were chosen by a committee of Jerry Ciccoritti, Jeet Heer, Bryan Munn, Chris Randle and Sean Rogers; the winners will be selected by a jury of Shary Boyle, John Martz, George Walker and Julie Traves.
 
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Go, Read: A Mari Ahokoivu Interview

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Tim Kreider wrote in to say he's updating The Pain again in anticipation of his forthcoming prose collection, and that there's also a promotional Facebook page. You should go like it.

image* Sean T. Collins, from whom I've read about 93 percent of everything I know about Jonny Negron, ran this cover image from a forthcoming PictureBox Inc. effort. Due this Fall.

* here's some excellent news: Dylan Horrocks and Karl Stevens are teaming up to finish Dylan's The American Dream. They're looking for a publisher. I'm looking to buy a copy.

* Aubrey Sitterson is excited about the new Redekai comics with which he's involved.

* congratulations to Eagle Times on reaching the quarter-century mark.

* here's a permutation to a standard publishing news story that I hadn't considered. The low sales for Vertical's just-completed run of Twin Spica means that series is likely to go out of print, and not in a slow way over several years, either.

* no link available; this is something I read in the bathroom in a magazine printed on material derived from dead trees: a profile of the artist Christian Marclay in the March 12 issue of The New Yorker indicates "he had enlisted a Tokyo publisher, Akaaka, to print a comic book book that would be composed entirely of bits from other manga." That sounds not really interesting, but there it is.

* Domino Books has a cover up for the next Jonathan Petersen book.

* not comics: I missed this Dave Cooper print.

* most certainly comics: Fantagraphics previews Trubble Club #5.

* Johanna Draper Carlson caught word that Laura Lee Gulledge has announced a book with Abrams for 2013.

* you know who has that new edition of Paul Kirchner's The Bus for sale? PictureBox Inc. does.

* James Harren will be doing some Conan with the writer Brian Wood.

* I'm always in favor of more Judge Dredd.

* I forgot to mention that there will be a Womanthology ongoing; it was announced 10-14 days ago. The contributors will be paid, which was something that became a bone of contention about the first, famously/massively-kickstarted stand-alone version.

* finally, I missed this fine-looking cover for the next Josh Simmons effort with Fantagraphics. Simmons and Fantagraphics have had a fruitful run so far; they don't seem to have a lot of cartoonists that are in his exact comics generation or that pursue the kinds of projects he does, which if true (and not just my impression) I would imagine helps.

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Go, Look: Abandoned Brian Hurtt Site

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Comics' Giving Heart: Projects, People In Need Of Funding

* this note come from Ron Turner via Charles Brownstein, on the great S. Clay Wilson. "S. Clay had successful surgery this morning at SF General. He had been having pressure on his brain from fluid build up. This was causing major problems. I think, (I haven't seen him yet, as he is in recovery) that they would put stints in his head to drain the excessive fluid. We all wish him well. Lorraine noticed the problem and got him to the Doctors quickly. The S. Clay Wilson special needs trust can always use some donation if you can. I will update later." Wilson is one of the crucial figures in 20th Century cartooning, and all that money goes straight to his care.

* as always, we look in on the status of publishing projects from indy veteran Batton Lash, alt-comics giant Jim Woodring, and small-press institution Sparkplug Books. They could all use some attention; they're all going reasonably well. The Batton Lash one is probably successful at the point this post rolls out (I'm writing this Sunday morning), but Batton's good people and there are still inducements to be had.
 
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Missed It: Shit My New Yorker Cartoons

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Scabbard was created by by Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden.

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* The character Dave Davenport was created by Shaenon Garrity.

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* The character Francie was created by Al Columbia.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I'm late to it, but it's hard to imagine a nerdier or more fun span of time than that spent devouring a lengthy Gaiman vs. McFarlane timeline.

image* Colleen Doran writes about swiping and the use of photo reference, with examples.

* James Romberger profiles Jaime Hernandez.

* not comics: there's a bunch of analysis out there right now about Reed putting Variety up for sale, and how damaged that particular news-information brand became in a short time. I liked this piece just fine. The "gasp, paywall!" stuff isn't as interesting to me as what she seems to be saying about the extended mismatch between perceived mission and resulting product. Also, the fact that Variety seemed to be spending loads of cash through a general economic down period seems like it should be important.

* not comics: via Devlin Thompson comes a link to this site's posting of an ad featuring Mort Weisinger's Miss America pageant book.

* Jason Thompson on business manga. Sam Thielman on various new releases. Surface Dweller on The Man Who Grew His Beard. Marc Sobel on Love and Rockets: New Stories Vols. 3-4. Shaenon Garrity on Mars. Craig Fischer on The Walking Man. Ed Sizemore on Kodoku No Gourmet. Philip Shropshire on Irredeemable #34. Don MacPherson on Supercrooks #1. Chris Mautner on three books for kids. Todd Klein on Wonder Woman #6.

* finally, you can't say John Darling jokes have ever gone out of fashion when they've never been in fashion.
 
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March 26, 2012


Your 2012 NCS Divisional Award Nominees

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The National Cartoonists Society has named the Divisional Awards nominees for the 2012 awards show, to be held the weekend of its yearly meeting. They are:

TELEVISION ANIMATION
* Ben Bocquelet and Antoine Perez, Production Design on The Wonderful World of Gumball (Cartoon Network)
* Penn Ward, Character Design on Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)
* Erik Wiese, Production Design on The Mighty B (Nickelodeon)

FEATURE ANIMATION
* Mark McCreery, character design: Rango
* Carlos Saldanha, Director: Rio
* Jennifer Yuh-Nelson, Director: Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom

NEWSPAPER ILLUSTRATION
* Glen LeLievre
* Michael McParlane
* Bob Rich

GAG CARTOONS
* Mathew Diffee
* Zach Kanin
* Barbara Smaller

GREETING CARDS
* Dave Klug
* Glenn McCoy
* Rick Stromoski

NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIPS
* Glenn McCoy, The Duplex
* Jeff Parker, Dustin
* Mike Peters, Mother Goose and Grimm

NEWSPAPER PANEL CARTOONS
* Mark Parisi, Off the Mark
* Stephanie Piro, Smile
* Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur

MAGAZINE FEATURE/MAGAZINE ILLUSTRATION
* Victor Juhasz
* Bruce McCall
* Edward Sorel

BOOK ILLUSTRATION
* Barbara Lehman, The Secret Box
* Mark Pett, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes
* John Rocco, Blackout

EDITORIAL CARTOONS
* Lisa Benson
* Mike Lester
* Mike Ramirez

ADVERTISING ILLUSTRATION
* Nick Galifianakis
* Kevin Kallauger (KAL)
* Tom Stiglich

COMIC BOOKS
* Darwyn Cooke, "Betty Saves the Day" in Rocketeer Adventures #2
* Duncan Fegred, Hellboy: The Fury
* J.H. Williams Batwoman

GRAPHIC NOVELS
* Chester Brown, Paying For It
* Rick Geary, The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti
* Ben Katchor, The Cardboard Valise

ON-LINE COMIC STRIPS
* Matthew Inman The Oatmeal
* Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, Penny Arcade
* Jon Rosenberg, Scenes from a Multiverse

CARTOONIST OF THE YEAR/THE REUBEN AWARD
* Brian Crane
* Stephan Pastis
* Tom Richmond

This year's awards ceremony -- North American comics' only black-tie event -- will be held in Las Vegas on May 26.
 
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Go, Look: Dan Berry

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Go, Look: The Daily Cross Hatch Guest Strip Archive

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Stacy Curtis Joins Richard Thompson On Cul De Sac

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Today marks the first Cul De Sac strip that creator and current Reuben Award winner Richard Thompson has done with the inking of illustrator and artist Stacy Curtis. Thompson talks about the decision in his usual charming fashion here. Curtis was at one point a full-time editorial cartoonist who lost his staffed gig at The Times Of Northwest Indiana during what still might be called the initial wave of what would by 2008 become an ocean's worth of recent trouble for practitioners in that field; his transition to a wider array of freelance and self-directed gigs, including children's book illustration, was done to a certain extent in the public way the Internet facilitates and was no small encouragement for many cartoonists in a similar situation.

It looks like Curtis' primary gig will be inking the daily strips, and that he won't be a credited creator on the strip. Thompson has missed some deadlines in the recent past and is currently undergoing treatment for Parkinson's Disease. Today also marks Thompson's return to new work after weeks of high-profile substitute runs from various comics luminaries and professional fans of the award-winning work. I am thrilled to have him back.
 
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Missed It: A Panorama Of Middlemarch

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thanks, Gil Roth
 
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Ali Ferzat: "My Arms Were Black From The Beating"

The Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat continued his London-centric western press appearances over the weekend with this profile at BBC News. This is the first time I've seen Ferzat say that he couldn't draw after being beaten and instead wrote satirical sketches until he got that ability back. Ferzat adds that he's about 90 percent returned, and that he's changed styles in the months since that attack by pro-government thugs. It's not comics, but it's also very compelling where he talks about the burden that people carry outside the country that they no longer have the luxury of carrying if they're still living there.
 
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Not Comics: NC Wyeth Illustrates Robin Hood

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Go, Buy: Your Shopping Bargain Of The Day

This site isn't one to stress a lot of sales without some sort of activist/publishing news hook involved, but Alan Gardner of Daily Cartoonist noticed today that Willie & Joe: Back Home has seen its original price point pulverized on Amazon.com all the way down to six bucks.

That is a remarkable book, handsomely mounted in a way that's probably worth $6 if you wanted to gut the contents and use the cover on something else. I talked to editor Todd DePastino here. I think this is maybe the most amazing work ever to appear on a newspaper comics page. It's good to great comics, for sure: Mauldin was funny, and mean, and drew well. More importantly, however, Willie & Joe: Back Home is an important historical document whereby we get to stand witness to Mauldin eschewing what could have been a lifetime's worth of high-fives from grateful soldiers and their families, instead taking this major wealth-making opportunity of a comics feature of that day and using it to repeatedly head-butt the holy shit out of what he saw as a sick, post-War America. It's practically demented and wholly admirable. In terms of money left on the table, Mauldin's Back Home work may be the greatest act of creative self-immolation comics has ever seen, and for that reason the book is a jaw-dropper for twice its original price. That it's available for God knows how long for the same amount of money as one and a half of this week's 20-page superhero comics? Come on.
 
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If I Were Near Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Mr. A was created by Steve Ditko.

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* The character Judge Horatio Curmudgeon Frump was created by TK Ryan.

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* The character Lily Maier was created by Debbie Drechsler.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Avatar Press had a bunch of con set-up material in a trailer stolen. I hope they recover some of it.

image* just because I haven't been checking in on Chris Wright as much as I did at one time, that doesn't indicate an absence of things being posted to his site.

* Jonathan Liu on Pogo Vol. 1. Mike Sebastian on various new releases. Richard Bruton on Phoenix #12 and 2000AD Prog 1775. Jason Thompson on Hellsing, Pretty Face, Golgo 13 and Disappearance Diary. Erica Friedman on Comic Beam. Carlo Santos on 20th Century Boys. Greg McElhatton on Baby's In Black. Johanna Draper Carlson on Summit Of The Gods Vol. 2. Tucker Stone on a bunch of comics. Grant Goggans on The ABC Warriors: The Volgan War Vol. 1.

* on Green Arrow being named Green Arrow.

* not comics: here's a gallery of Ted Withers' pin-up art.

* Ed Sizemore uses Jiro Taniguchi as a springboard for a discussion on manga and its definitions.

* this blog post on the Avengers movie and Jack Kirby's relative lack of credit confuses me because I see this line of reasoning fairly often and I don't know anyone that supports Jack Kirby receiving more credit for his creative accomplishments has ever said or would ever say other creators don't deserve credit. Further, giving Jack Kirby credit for what Jack Kirby did in no way means that these other artists suffer. I think it's a total non-issue, I think the logic behind it is a weird outgrowth of Internet culture and I think the only thing the kind of argument serves is the people that are receiving millions of dollars to retire on and lavish praise by their peers and in the press that had very little to do with the creation of anything.

* Jim Rugg's very funny poster has apparently annoyed a Pittsburgh-area retailer.

* Carla Hoffman apologizes to digital comics.

* I always liked that so much energy for about 25 years there with the Superman comics was coming up with clever solutions for story-related problems, like some sort of kids' book series where you'd flip to the back and pretend you got the answer, too.

* Chris Arrant talks to Mike Deodato, Jr. Derik A Badman profiles Jaime Hernandez. Steffen Rayburn Maarup talks to Matthias Wivel. Matt Emery talks to Claire Harris. David Brothers on some things he likes about Frank Miller.

* finally, a sea-stories related creator link-a-rama.
 
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March 25, 2012


CR Sunday Interview: Thomas Scioli

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*****

imageThomas Scioli recently released a print version of his American Barbarian through AdHouse. Like much of what audiences have come to expect from the artist, who turns 36 this week, American Barbarian is a song sung in the key of Jack Kirby with lyrics, shadings and major solos all Scioli's own. I thought it a blast, and I wanted to ask the prolific cartoonist about various elements of its creation. He was nice enough to write back. Like all of my interactions with Scioli, I found him earnest and possessed of a great deal of clarity when it comes to talking about what goes into his art.

I hope that you'll consider American Barbarian among your major comics purchases for this richer-than-usual winter comics shopping season. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: The last time we talked was 2008, when you and Joe Casey had just announced you'd be winding down on Gødland. At the time you both intimated it would end with #36, although you left yourself some wiggle room. Is that still the plan?

THOMAS SCIOLI: It's ending with #37. I'm drawing #36 now.

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SPURGEON: What has taken up the bulk of your time since that wind-down? I know in 2008 you talked about returning to your own series, but I'm not sure how much of that work has come out.

SCIOLI: I put out a Myth Of 8-Opus OGN and some minicomics, did Gødland #25-35, a Captain America issue and American Barbarian. I did some other things here and there and a lot of non-comics freelance work.

SPURGEON: You also back in 2008 expressed maybe a bit of frustration about what sold in the marketplace, and how tough it had become for newer comics work. Do you still have concerns about finding a place in the market as currently constituted?

SCIOLI: No. Webcomics are the solution to that problem. I wouldn't launch a new series in comic book form. I'd serialize it as a webcomic, then put out the collection. That's what I did with American Barbarian. Building an audience with a monthly print comic doesn't make any sense to me any more.

imageSPURGEON: Let me ask a bit about building that audience... would you characterize how big of an audience you were able to build serializing on-line? Was there anything specific you learned about that model in putting it into practice, anything you'd care to pass along to a cartoonist thinking about taking that particular plunge?

SCIOLI: It's hard to gauge how many people that amounts to. You're an old pro at digital publishing, do you know of a website or software that helps you translate those Google analytics figures into some kind of number to tell you how many people are reading it?

SPURGEON: No.

SCIOLI: I know it's bigger than the number of people who bought copies of my serialized print comics. About five times as many readers? Something like that. I think the difference is the level of attachment. People can read the entire thing and figure out if they like it or not before being asked to pay for it. I feel like I've grown a whole new audience pretty much from nothing and I plan to continue to build on that with each new work.

Before I started this book, I felt like I was at the end of my career, that it had run its course. This project saved me. It made me excited about comics again, and it was only possible because of the webcomics format.

I guess a piece of advice is, there's more to comics than just words and pictures. When you think about the great comics, how many of them were the height of great writing, or the pinnacle of finely-crafted art? I'd argue most of the great comics were not. Their greatness was in an intangible quality that existed apart from those two very obvious craft elements. Try to work less in those two areas and more in that third area. That's where the reader lives. They're not living in the craft, they're living in the holistic experience.

Dare to be self-indulgent. Comics take a lot of hours of a cartoonist's life. Make sure you enjoy those hours. That enjoyment will carry over to your audience. The hard work is the amount of time you're sitting at the drawing table. The things you draw should be whatever you want to draw.

I'd advise not allowing yourself to be too limited by what you think will work for print. That said, you should keep the print version in mind. Don't obsess over it, but don't paint yourself into a corner.

This is specific to the form that webcomics exists in at this moment, but I think a good general bit of advice is to be open to new formats. Things change with increasing rapidity, and you want to be aware of it and be willing to do the work it takes to make those jumps. Each change in technology is an obstacle that could take you out of the game if you don't adapt to it.

SPURGEON: I know that Gødland -- at least the visuals -- developed out of your sketchbooks and what Joe Casey reacted to in them. How did American Barbarian develop? Is it also a matter of working with material you're constantly designing, or are there elements of problem-solving moving from a story or story idea into a design?

SCIOLI: It came out of sketchbooks very gradually. It was something that I worked at on the side little by little. I put together a series of post-it notes with various moments. Assembled it into an eight-page story. It wasn't exactly what I wanted. I decided to change up my process and wanted to write it like I imagine Alan Moore writing. I got a notebook and made 12 chapters, each chapter pertaining to a month of the year. I free associated about what each month means and wrote down every association I could think of. I took those elements and added events and incidents that related to each month. I kept refining this and ended up with a 12-chapter story that had a lot of incidents, but no through line connecting it. Then one night, my mind wandered and all those incidents rearranged and assembled themselves along the spine of a basic revenge story. It was more or less the complete American Barbarian story as it is published. So although things came together seemingly by magic, it was at the end of a long organized working process.

SPURGEON: Is this your most ambitious project, do you think? I know that the work is split into chapter, but it's pretty much conceived as a one-off. Was that different for you in terms of writing and executing the project?

SCIOLI: 8-Opus and Gødland were more ambitious, but it was an ambition of ignorance. I didn't realize what I was signing myself up for. I didn't realize how grueling it would be working on multi-volume, multi-year series, and had I known, I would've embarked on something much shorter.

Now, having a better idea of what I'm capable of, American Barbarian is my most ambitious project. I'm a little bit afraid that it might be the best comic I ever do. I hope I make something better, but it definitely feels like a culmination of everything that came before it. If ambition is connected to page count, I don't see myself having the energy to try another book this length.

Everything I'd done prior to this was intended to be vast epics that ran for years. I'd have general ideas of where I wanted to go, but I'd just kind of meander. With this I wanted to have everything more or less figured out before I started drawing. And I wanted to draw it in about a year. it took me a year and a half to draw it. I was tired of working on things that ran for years and years with no end in sight. That used to be the thing I aspired to, but I've found the negatives outweigh the positives. For me, I can only work on a project for so long before I start running out of steam. American Barbarian was the perfect length. Long enough to be a satisfying epic journey, but short enough that I could actually complete it without totally burning out on the concept.

SPURGEON: What about working with AdHouse appealed to you? I know that small publishers are notoriously hands-off generally, at least for the most part, but I wondered how it might have been different working with Chris [Pitzer] -- who has, for instance, a strong design sense -- and some of the other folks with whom you're published.

SCIOLI: The book was close to completion by the time we decided to work together so I don't know how much any publisher would've been able to contribute to the project. What I wanted from a publisher was good book design and a commitment to the project. I knew the book would look good with AdHouse. Great attention to detail. I also have the impression that he's got experience getting books placed in places beyond just comic stores. Chris was a fan of the book, too. He was genuinely excited to work on it. That was important to me.

SPURGEON: How do you set the general tone in a work like American Barbarian? Because there are design elements and parts of the story that could be seen as so outrageous they're humorous, or even self-lacerating, but I also don't get the sense you see those things that way at all. Is there a line you're conscious of in terms of being too wild, or do you feel when you're working with something like this you're better off going out as far as you can in terms of story elements and parts of the visuals?

SCIOLI: There's nothing that's too wild. I made the decision a long time ago that in order to make good adventure comics you can't be afraid to look dumb.

I think tonally the closest thing to this comic is the Rodriguez and Tarantino double feature GrindHouse. That film was a turning point for me as far as how I thought about my work. Hitting the beats of the genre, but also trying to make something transcendent out of junk. And the laughs in this are like the laughs in Grindhouse where it's a loud grunt of shocked surprise.

I don't think self-restraint on my part would do anybody any favors. If I have a line, it's an aesthetic one. I wouldn't put in something that I find visually unappealing.

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SPURGEON: A couple of specific creative choices jumped out at me. First, I love the name "Two-Tank Omen." Do you remember specifically from where that one came? Second, the visual of American Barbarian literally spelling out his overall aims on his hands where he could see them... how did that strike you that you wanted to pay attention to that specific image?

SCIOLI: Those are two good examples, because they came from very different processes. Two-Tank Omen appeared to me in a dream. It's the kind of word play I like to do, so it definitely fit. The thing with American Barbarian's hands came to me in a semi-meditative state. I don't practice meditation or anything, but I find myself occasionally entering a state of mind similar to what people who practice meditation describe. I enter those states either just before falling asleep, or on long car rides. In this particular case it was while reading an entertaining, yet not-very-demanding book. So as I'm reading a junky book with one part of my brain, another part of my brain was wandering. That's where a lot of the threads came together. That sequence came fully formed, but in retrospect I can see where the pieces came from. But it's maybe a little disingenuous to describe the components because it's not like I sat down and put them together piece by piece. It came to me fully formed and I was, after the fact, able to see where it came from, but it was an unconscious process that came from being open to inspiration.

There's something that's typical in revenge narratives where the hero writes a vow to whoever he's going to avenge. You see it a lot in silent movies. Sometimes it's written on a wooden headstone in a hastily-dug grave. The "note-to-self." There's also the component of Kirby-style comics, and action comics in general, being obsessed with the hands. The triple exclamation point drives home the Kirby link. There's the violent self-punishing nature of revenge. Stigmata. The physical reminder of pain that could be referenced again and again through the story.

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SPURGEON: Tom, the look of the piece, the color and shading I think is very striking. You do this wonderful thing of putting these strident, strong colors against more basic backgrounds, and setting off specific elements -- like American Barbarian's hair and the other red/white/blue images -- against those single-color images. How much development was there in terms of how you were going to approach color, and are you happy with the specific events you were able to achieve?

SCIOLI: I was very happy with the end result. Color was the starting point of this comic. I wanted to have some sort of striking visual that exists entirely apart from the black plate. In its earliest phases, the book was "Rainbow Barbarian." The red-white-and-blue motif is what I settled on.

I've had plenty of time to think about color. For most of my life I learned to work in black and white. When I made the jump to color comics, working with colorists, I had so much to learn. It forces you to think about your drawings in a different way. I was reacting to the way my work was being colored and adjusted to it. I started coloring more and more of my own work. It was incredibly difficult. I didn't like what it looked like. By the time I started American Barbarian I decided to settle on a limited palette of my favorite colors on everything I'd done up until that point. I decided since I was going to color it myself, I could leave a lot of open areas in the black plate and still be able to communicate what I wanted to.

The black plate in modern comics is so deep and rich and stark that it separates itself from the rest of the colors. It's like the black plate is way up in your face and the colors are way way way in the background. The way most artists deal with this is to make the lines in their black plate very thin. I have a heavy hand. I like a bold application of ink, but it's too much if you print it as a cmyk black. I eliminated the black plate and found a color that's dark enough to read as the main line, but soft enough that it's within the same range as the other colors. That's made all the difference. The line that we've seen throughout the history of comics up until the '90s isn't a black line. It's a scabrous, skin-cancer dark brown. I wanted to find a line color that held the art together the way that line does, but is a more pleasing color, so I settled on a deep deep green. I feel like my color work finally looks right. It's taken a long time to find my way here. If you'll notice in the webcomic I start with a standard black line then part of the way through I discovered that green line. If I had done this as a monthly comic book, I would've stuck with the black line throughout, so it's another benefit of test-driving it in webcomics form.

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SPURGEON: One of the more exciting visual flourishes I think came early on: the first approach of Two Tank Omen as a kind of rising tide on the page, crowding out the standard narrative. I really liked that; can you talk about what you were trying to achieve there, and where that might have originated? How confident are you in tweaking page design like that?

SCIOLI: Sometimes I'll have an idea for a visual flourish or a sequence and no place to use it. I'll have layout techniques, panel arrangements that I'll jot down for future use. There's the age old comics thing of a page where you have the main strip at the top, then a second supporting strip at the bottom. I had the idea of having a sequence of pages where the secondary strip gets larger and larger until it takes over the strip above it. Years later I found a use for that concept in American Barbarian. I think that's an important part of the creative process, to store up tricks in hopes that one day you'll find the perfect place for them.

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SPURGEON: Another very bold choice you make at certain times is to use a different art technique within the narrative -- like a photo panel, or dropping the hard lines for a more rounded effect where the shapes are emphasized? Is that just playfulness on your part, a way to spice up the story visually and keep it interesting for you, or does each of those instances speak to a specific solution to a problem you saw on the page?

SCIOLI: A splash page or a double splash used to be the showstopper in a comic. Now they're rather commonplace, so to really freeze the moments you want to highlight, you need to do something different. Radically changing the drawing style or switching media is an easy one. There used to be the fear that you need to be consistent to keep the reader with you, but that's just not the case. The reader will follow whatever images you string together and make some sort of sense of them. You'd have to come up with something really jarring to totally lose them. So there's no fear really.

I thought that this project could be a transitional work, where I incorporate more tonal work throughout as accents, as show-stoppers, then by the time I was finished with this, I could do purely tonal drawing in my comics. Once you start coloring your own work, you can't help looking at everything differently. The tone drawings/paintings take about as long as penciling, inking, erasing, coloring. Some of the pages I knew from early on I wanted to paint, some I just woke up that morning in the mood to paint something. I feel like in a future project I could alternate between line drawing and tone every panel, for a 1-2-1-2 rhythm.

SPURGEON: I know that in Kirby's work on Kamandi, elements of modern culture appear in these future settings so that he can make a point about specific elements involved in those cultural constructs but also to make the point, it seems, that the future may echo those thing in a kind of fallen state. Do you include things like the lottery, say, to make a point about the lottery, or as a kind of homage to folding in that kind of element into this kind of story? I realize I may be over-thinking this in very dramatic fashion, but I wonder how you decided what to include and what not to include that could be taken as satire and commentary.

SCIOLI: I assumed once I put the word "American" in there, it could be read as some kind of commentary. I think the kind of commentary is similar to some of the things in Kamandi in that it's not a direct commentary, but comes at things sideways, taking bits and pieces and assembling them in a way that's meaningful for the purposes of telling a good story, and whether or not they resonate as a statement is secondary. I spent a lot of time building a bank of story bits and then found a place for them later on in the process as the story took shape. The lottery was one such instance. It's kind of like Kirby's approach to mythology. There's a willful deliberate misunderstanding of existing mythology that he used to build his own mythology. That same kind of thinking, deliberately jumbling elements from current events and popular culture, to create something resonant and compelling.

I lived this book. It took over a years to slowly spool out the story. It probably took you about an hour to experience this story, for me it was in slow motion stretched out as I wrote, drew, colored. I know all the seams. There are parts of this story that are very important to me, very serious. There are parts that are an afterthought, or parts that come part and parcel with the genre, preloaded. At least as far as the idea of a society that picks members to feed a monster. It goes back to Theseus and the Minotaur. The idea of a lottery where the prize is death is a genre staple. Giving it the shape of the modern lotto with the popping ping pong balls seemed a natural flourish.

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SPURGEON: I thought your Angouleme diary was very interesting in that you pointed out how disreputable the comics you read as a kid were for European readers of that material. Did that perspective cause you to think of those comics in a different way, or was that just generally curious to you, that reaction?

SCIOLI: I think about comics in so many different ways.

As someone who has spent a life obsessed with comics, specifically superhero/scifi/fantasy comics, there's part of me that thinks they probably are poison. The superhero genre has so much toxic shit in its DNA. I'm able to love it and work in it because my focus is on the spectacle, the surface elements, the color, the psychedelia, but when you get to what's thematically at the heart of it, it's ugly.

These interviews are tough because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it's "Yay Comics!" and sometimes I wake up and feel like it's this awful destructive thing. Probably fixating on anything to the degree that I fixate on comics would be the same.

You probably feel it even more than I do. I just read and focus on the comics that interest me. You, as a journalist, have to give a lot of attention to things that you would run from otherwise. You've got to hate comics at this point, right? Or is there a point where that energy turns into something else?

I've always been interested in how people react to Kirby. I had such a strong specific reaction to Kirby's work, that I assumed everyone else would feel the same way. I've heard more than once from people who were scared of Kirby's work, which is shocking because it's often thought of as harmless kid stuff. But a lot of Kirby's work can be deeply disturbing. It's interesting when you find something that has a seal of approval that's actually very subversive. I think that's what [Robert] Crumb hit on, drawing in an old-timey Disney-esque style. Kirby can be employed in a similar way.

imageSPURGEON: Do you think people in Europe and the US take you work in the spirit it's offered or do they bring their own fixations and ideas to it in a way that surprises you? Are you satisfied with how your work is viewed, how people take to it?

SCIOLI: When people talk to me about it, it sounds like the major things I wanted to accomplish got through. OMIGODTHISISAWESOME is the main reaction I was hoping for and I've gotten a good bit of that from the webcomic. I'm excited to see how the print version will be received. I feel like it'll be a whole new audience discovering it. The small advance print run boded well for things. I've seen a lot of people bury their nose in the book and smell it. At first I thought it was a specifically European reaction, like smelling the cork from a bottle of wine, but I've seen people in the US do it, too. So obviously at the very least the fake nostalgia aspect of the book is working.

More and more I'm treating comics as an activity and a process I engage in. I'm becoming less and less focused on how it will be received. Strangely enough, this is the best received work I've done. What I've learned from that is if you just "do you" people really respond to that. When you second guess and aim to please, you don't give it your all. The danger is the possibility of sliding into irrelevance, but I think it's more likely that it makes you capable of making truly great work. The safety net is no matter how far down the path, no matter how idiosyncratic your work becomes, you can't disappear. As long as there's an internet you can get your work out there. Making boring work is how you make yourself invisible.

I think creators should not give an ounce of worry to what spirit their work is going to be taken in. You have no control over that. You can't even control the format it's read it in. I've had a lot of conversations and in the topic of webcomics in general, there's a lot of resistance from creators about how they want their work appreciated a specific way. Some creators I've talked to are troubled when readers are most attracted to the elements of a story that for the creator were afterthoughts. I'm sure a creator's favorite work is very rarely their most popular work. There's the fan disappointment when you find out your favorite creator isn't fond of your favorite work of theirs.

The instant feedback is one of the things I love about doing webcomics. It is often surprising what people latch on to. It's interesting for me seeing which American Barbarian original art people buy. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it's "out of all the pages, that's the one you want!?" When you create something there are a range of elements in it, many you're not even fully aware of. Some resonate with people for a million different reasons that say a little bit about the work itself, but and a lot about the reader. Comics are incredibly interactive. There are a couple of moments in American Barbarian where I deliberately played with that. Where I'd ask people, what happened in this scene, and there are a couple of different ways the scene can be read.

I'd found through the process of posting, that the less you spell things out, the more open to interpretation you leave things, the more involved the readers become. I was surprised just how much you can get away with not showing and still have it read the way you want it to.

Everybody has a different version of the story when they read it. I'd hate to ruin somebody's version by talking too much about what it meant to me when I was making it. And it's beside the point. So much of the creative process is mysterious. There's a lot of hammering, polishing and refining, but there's also a lot of digging, and making the best use of the things you dig up. If there's a unifying theme to my work, if my work's about anything, it's about exploration and that was true of the creative process as well.

Ultimately you can't control how people consume your work. You can't even take for granted that a reader is actually going to "read" your comic. Maybe they'll just quickly flip through a tumblr or flickr account of the images. I've been consuming a lot of old comics that way. You just have to hope your work is distinctive enough to survive the translation and hope it's inviting enough that people will want to study it more closely.

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* American Barbarian
* American Barbarian, Thomas Scioli, AdHouse Books, hardcover, 256 pages, 9781935233176 (ISBN13), $19.95.

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* cover image from the AdHouse hardcover of American Barbarian
* photo of Scioli taken in 2011
* image from Gødland
* five images from American Barbarian, hopefully explained in context
* image from the Angouleme report Scioli did for TCJ
* image related to Myth Of 8-Opus
* an image from late in American Barbarian, just one I liked (below)

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Go, Look: A Wally Wood Illustration Gallery

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Go, Look: A Gray Morrow Illustration Gallery

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Go, Look: A Roy G. Krenkel Illustration Gallery

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Go, Look: Two Intellectual Amos Stories

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Go, Read: Love For Marvel Premiere

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Go, Look: At The Movies

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If I Were In Kansas 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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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Cathy Andrews Hillman was created by Cathy Guisewite.

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* The character Midge McCracken was created by Roberta Gregory.

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* The character Judomaster was created by Joe Gill and Frank McLaughlin.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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FFF Results Post #288 -- Show And Year

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Four Specific Comics Conventions Or Festivals You Enjoyed And Give A Few Reasons You Enjoyed The One You Have At #4 As The Fifth Response." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. San Diego Comic-Con (1995)
2. An Unnamed, I Don't Think Repeated Show In Chicago (1992)
3. Heroes Con (2008)
4. BCGF (2011)
5. The BCGF I attended late last year was my first time out of the house since my summer health issues. I was exhausted most of the day, but it was good to be back on my feet, seeing people I knew, and meeting people I didn't. I even got to moderate a panel. I'm not the biggest con-goer, but I really, really appreciated this one.

*****

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Scott Dunbier

1) Lucca 1990
2) San Diego Comic-Con 2000
3) United Kingdom Comic Art Convention (UKCAC) 1987
4) Detroit 1990 (approximately) Great Eastern conventions?
5) Okay, I was torn, I was going to write about the first time I went to Lucca and how beautiful the city was, the wonderful people, and the food... hmm. But I had to go with this one in Detroit because -- even though it was a lousy show (I did it as an art dealer and had zero sales on the first day, a couple hundred bucks on the second) -- I don't think I ever laughed so much in my entire life as I did sitting in a hotel room with Mike Mignola and Mark Nelson, just the three of us telling stories and watching a Ronco commercial with Mr. Ronco himself spray painting his head. Might be the funniest night I've ever spent. Oh, one more thing -- the show was at a Hyatt that had its elevators arranged in a circle, with the buttons in the center on this platform that looked like the crystals in Superman's Fortress from the movie. It was a bit confusing, took you a second to realize where the buttons were. So this woman walks up and can't figure out where the buttons are. She looks around for a minute and then figures it out in her head -- and she walks over and starts jumping up and smacking the indicator lights next to one of the elevators. Ah, good times.

*****

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Kat Kan

1. NoviCon just outside Detroit (2003)
2. Wrath of Con in Panama City Beach, FL (2009)
3. Creative Con in Panama City, FL (2011)
4. New York Comic Con (2007)
5. NYCC is the only major comic con I've been able to attend; I was a panelist for the Trade Day before the official opening of the convention, and I was able to walk the floor of the con and meet some great comics people before I had to fly back home.

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. Chicago Con (1986)
2. Mid Ohio Con (2003)
3. Motor City Con (1995, I think)
4. C2E2 (2010)
5. Chicago Con (1992) Coming back to the hotel at around 2 in the morning and seeing the lines of people still waiting for autographs from the guys in the Image tent is something I'll never forget seeing. A strange time in comics!

*****

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Tom Mason

(1) New York Comic Art Convention (1978)
(2) WonderCon (1994)
(3) Comic Con International (2010)
(4) Grenoble (1990)
(5) One night by invitation, I was part of a very small dinner group of six people that included Ervin Rustemagic and Hermann (creator of Jeremiah). While waiting in the hotel lobby for our last person to show up, Maurice De Bevere (aka Morris, the creator of Lucky Luke) dropped by for a few minutes and regaled us with stories.

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Paradise Toronto Comic Con 2005
2. TCAF 2010
3. Hobby Star Fan Expo 2006
4. San Diego Comic Con 2008
5. This was my first San Diego. I got to meet in person a number of pros and friends I've communicated with online for many years. The programing blew away all other conventions I've been to. I also saw/bought a bunch of books I didn't see available elsewhere. Even after long, red eye flight home with a stop over I was so happy for having been there I was full of energy and rocking out during my 2 1/2 hour drive home from the Syracuse airport.

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. New York EC Comics Convention (1972)
2. San Diego Comic-Con (1974)
3. Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention (1986)
4. San Diego Comic-Con International (2006)
5. Busy, busy. Moderating four sessions – "Masters of American Comics," "Masters of Lowbrow Art," "Masters of Alternative Comics," and "Comics: When Pictures and Words Collide" -- with a spectrum of star panelists: Ivan Brunetti, Mary Fleener, Rick Geary, R.C. Harvey, Chip Kidd, Denis Kitchen, Roger Langridge, Isabel Samaras, Shag, Brian Walker, Esther Pearl Watson, Craig Yoe, and others... and what's not to love about that? Also, autographing and otherwise hyping my first, newly published book, The Education of a Comics Artist. Only downside: for the full four days I didn't get to just roam around and discover/experience things that didn't involve me, me.

*****

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Mark McMurray

* San Diego Comic-Con (August 1998)
* SPX, Silver Spring, Maryland (Sept 1997)
* ACE, Manchester, Vermont (July 1995)
* Creation Con, NYC (November 1978)
* I was 10 and couldn't have imagined something as amazing as a "Creation Con" would exist in our world! Watching John Byrne sketch for fans between autographing comics and trading barbs with Howie Chaykin, who sat next to him, was an enlightening experience for this young fan. I still own the Cyclops sketch he did for me that day! The quest to own a complete collection of X-men started at this show after snagging a copy of X-Men #8 in great shape for 8 bucks! By shows end, my autograph book was filled with signatures from many artists like Steranko, Herb Trimpe, Gray Morrow, Bob Larkin, JR AND JR JR, Gene Colan, Rudy Nebres, Tom Yeates, etc etc etc! I could go on and on, but all in all, it was a great day that has stayed with me all these years.

*****

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Rodrigo Baeza

1. Fantabaires (Buenos Aires, Argentina) (1998)
2. SPX (1999)
3. SPX (2000)
4. All Time Classic New York Comic Book Convention (White Plains, NY) (2000)
5. This was a one-time event focused on Silver Age comics, with guests that included creators such as Carmine Infantino, Joe Kubert, Marie Severin, Roy Thomas, and Julius Schwartz. It was great to see these people in person and in some very interesting convention panels (some of which were later transcribed and published in the pages of Alter Ego). This con was also an opportunity to meet people (such as the late Rich Morrisey) from some of the comics-related mailing lists I participated at the time, always a fun thing. All in all, it was a great experience, and many of the people who have attended agree that this was a unique convention. My only disappointment was not being able to meet Henry Boltinoff (he was a guest, but due to health reasons it seems he didn't spend too much time at the con).

*****

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Greg Vondruska

1) Small Press Expo (2002)
2) Unnamed Tampa convention (1986)
3) A.P.E. (1997)
4) Megacon (1995)
5) Megacon (1995) I got a signature from Gil Kane, got a critique from Dick Giordano and listened to Howard Chaykin in a panel as he described how America hates virtuosity.

*****

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Scott Edelman

1. Creation (1971)
2. San Diego Comic-Con International (2007)
3. SPX (2009)
4. Phil Seuling's July 4th Comic Art Convention (1970)
5. I was 15, it was my first convention, and I watched as a copy of Action Comics #1 failed to meet its $325 minimum bid at auction. Then I found I was sitting next to Big Name Fan Tom Fagan in the audience, to whom the copy was brought to flip through as I stared wide-eyed. Oh, and I bought my first Golden Age comic and my first page of original art. Could it get any better?

*****

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Shannon Smith

1. Fluke 2011
2. SPX 2011
3. HeroesCon 2003
4. Atlanta Comicon 2001
5. This was the 1st Atlanta Comicon way out in Gwinnett County. Not to be confused with several other similar named shows. A pal of mine was a co-founder so I was suckered into being a volunteer. I wanted to be a comic book writer so I took advantage of the situation and spent a lot of time talking with writers. Todd Dezago put the notion in my head to not wait on an artist and just go ahead and make minicomics on my own. The next con season I was on the other side of the table with my first minicomics.

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. MegaCon 2003
2. MegaCon 2007
3. DragonCon 2010
4. Comic-Con International: San Diego (2005)
5. First Comic-Con ever, and Dean Haspiel took 10 minutes out of his day to give me a whirlwind floor tour and introductions with some great cartoonists.

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. FantaCon (1982)
2. San Diego Comic-Con (1989)
3. SPX (1997)
4. APE (1994)
5. The first APE. Wow Cool's first west coast show as an exhibitor. Zak Sally drove us down and exhibited with us. First big alternative press comic show I can think of every having heard of outside of anarchist book fairs. I don't remember if it was at the first or second APE (maybe both) but we were set up next to Vale from ReSearch. He bought a copy of the Sassy with Kurt & Courtney on the cover from me at a later show.

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Noreascon 1 (1971)
2. Christian Book Sellers Association (or whatever they're calling it now) (2007)
3. SDCC (1986)
4. Rockin' Pasadena Comic Con (2010)
5. Rockin' Pasadena Comic Con was a disaster of truly epic proportions: A huge venue, lots of vendors, plenty of programming but absolutely no attendees! Stan Lee showed up for an autograph session & bailed as soon as possible. I don't think there was a single panel that didn't have more panelists than audience members (and those were usually vendors). Even the Scientologists closed their booth & bailed a day early! Why am I listing it as a con I enjoyed? 'Cuz I got to hang out & talk w/o interruption with a number of friends, I picked up a rare DVD, and I get bragging rights for being at one of the worse shows in history!

*****

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Steven Thompson

1 -- The 1977 Comic Art Convention (Normally held in New York but in Philadelphia that year)
2 -- Don Rosa's Omnicon in Louisville in 1976
3 -- A 1975 Cleveland Con in August
4 -- Chicago Con in 1989 or 90
5 -- It was the first Con attended with my future wife, we made friends with Kim Yale and Kate Worley, both of whom died too soon.

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. SPX (1994)
2. MOCCA (2002)
3. TCAF (2007)
4. San Diego Comic-Con (2000)
5. This was the last year I attended SDCC after going almost every year since 1987 (we stopped going mainly due to the cost), and it was a weird show for me knowing that. I was also nominated for two Eisner awards for Dork #7, a work I was fairly proud of and thought actually deserving of the nominations for a change. I didn't win, which bummed me out a bit. After the ceremony I decided to introduce myself to Will Elder, one of my favorite cartoonists and someone who's work has been a big influence on me. I'm usually too nervous to introduce myself to people but I had had a few drinks and I knew I'd never have another opportunity to meet him, so I went over. Anyway, to cut to the quick, I had a fifteen-minute talk with Elder and his wife and it was one of the most wonderful convention memories I have and will likely ever have.

*****

yeah, I lost a couple of these; my apologies

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this feature will return in two weeks

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Gerry Alanguilan Goes To The Supercrooks Signing


Comic Book Storytellers Episode #6


Alan Moore Speaks
via


Guy Peellaert-Related Animation
via somebody I can't remember


Jim Morin Animation


Dan Clowes At Meltdown Commercial


Roz Chast Speaks


Michael Ramirez Speaks


Stan Yan Profiled


Ali Ferzat Profiled
 
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March 24, 2012


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 17 to March 23, 2012:

1. A mini-brouhaha over a new Corto Maltese book indicates a paradigm shift in that market has already taken place, from "thank God we're getting this material" to "God help those that don't do right by this material."

2. The final tally of newspapers dropping a run of abortion-themed Doonesburys from publication reaches 60. Just as important: no papers dropped Doonesbury altogether over this.

3. Ali Ferzat makes a public appearance in London in support of Syrian culture; is profiled by a few wire services and gets general points for his vow to return to his beleaguered homeland.

Winner Of The Week
Mark Waid, for being the first in his specific constellation of comics-makers to make a commitment to digital-first comics work.

Losers Of The Week
Those sixty newspapers. I mean, come on. It's Garry Trudeau; he makes comics about subjects like that one.

Quote Of The Week
"I told you to shut your big yap, sissy!" -- Butt Riley

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today's cover is from the thriving small-press and independent comics scenes of the 1980s and 1990s

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If I Were In Kansas 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 Charlotte, I'd Go To This

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Wild Dog was created by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty.

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* The character Jetcat was created by Jay Stephens.

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* The character Ernie Weiss was created by Jason Lutes.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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March 23, 2012


Go, Read: Jacks

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Two Political Cartooning-Related Stories Draw Attention

A pair of political cartoon-related news pieces of the let's say "very strong and blunt" variety popped up in wire stories today. Rob Rogers' cartoon for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday featuring a Klansman as commentary on the Trayvon Martin shooting received some "controversial cartoon" coverage even though the article in question doesn't really cite any specific outrage. Meanwhile, Daryl Cagle notes that Michael Ramirez made a speech calling President Obama a liar in a very plain language, an effort that included showing some cartoons that indict policies with which Ramirez has problems. I'm not sure that either one of those stories is noteworthy in and of itself -- I guess the Rogers one could get there in a hurry -- but the severity of the expression is interesting to me in that editorial cartoonists tend to reflect certain attitudes towards propriety in political discourse whether at the board or at the podium. One could argue that a connection to or even a disconnect from a certain tenor in the way people talk about politics is to that field's credit, or that either one of those things speaks poorly about the ability to hit with audiences right now.
 
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Go, Look: A Mort Walker Gag Cartoon Gallery

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Three More Random Links Linked-To Randomly

A few more of the random-type comics links presented themselves early today in a way that might make them a bit strange were they to be held until Monday.

* a bunch of you have been sending me links to this Graphic Novel Reading Rainbow site. It holds thorough reviews of the "pick up a book and work one's way through it" type, organized around a class project.

* Dustin Harbin is the beneficiary of a classic "Local Cartoonist Profile" article from the Charlotte Observer, tied into the forthcoming release of a third and final Diary Comics project. I love the Local Cartoonist Profile, and before comics-related news surged a few years back such articles made up maybe 10 percent of comics-related stuff you'd see as mainstream coverage.

* here's a piece about Chuck Ayers of Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft coming into contact with a Funky Winkerbean mural going up at Kent State. I like that one because I always feel it's difficult to gauge how many fans something like a long-running comic strip has, and how fervent they are. This is Ayers' 25th year of work on Funky.
 
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Not Comics: The Book Of The Little Past

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Collective Memory: WonderCon 2012

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Jimmy Corrigan was created by Chris Ware.

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* The character Judge Dredd was created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (with Pat Mills).

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* The character Alley Oop was created by Vincent T. Hamlin.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* check out commentary from Box Brown and the team of Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy on specific works over at the FPI Blog.

image* Sean T. Collins on SuperMutant Magic Academy. Rob Clough on some mini-comics, sorted by theme. Todd Klein on Night Force #1. Don MacPherson on Short Hand. Katherine Dacey on The Sabertooth Vampire. Greg McElhatton on Luther. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of comic books. Richard Bruton on Harbour Moon.

* who runs the Cartoon Library?

* there are a lot of Kolor Klimax images in high-resolution in their press pack. Speaking of packs, Warren Ellis' is a lot cooler than mine. Mine has a beat up Toshiba laptop for which I forgot to bring the extension cord so it has no power, a copy of a Super-Villain Team-Up issue drawn by George Evans, a sandwich, a pen I stole from the bank, another sandwich, the license for the dog I keep forgetting to put on the dog, and an article my brother sent me from Hollywood Reporter about television shows I don't watch.

* the DC kids title Superman Family Adventures is previewed here. Kids really seemed to like the last one that those creators did, at least much as kids were able to put their hands on it.

* in hosting various countdown posts leading up to the release of the art book Modern Cartoonist, the Daniel Clowes blog has been hopping with new stuff.

* Guzumo talks to Dylan Horrocks. RC Harvey profiles Johnny Hart. The Hodler/Nadel era at TCJ has enjoyed a lot of success getting quality material from Harvey. Alex Dueben talks to Brian K. Vaughan.

* here's the first word I've seen about the Centre Pompidou phase of this year's Art Spiegelman exhibit. First official, PR-type word, I mean.

* finally, Brigid Alverson explores the question of manga buying habits and comic book shops.
 
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March 22, 2012


Go, Look: I Didn't Call Your House

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Go, Look: Some Very Pretty Full-Color King Aroos

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Comics' Giving Heart -- Projects, People In Need Of Funding

* Sparkplug Books is going the crowdfunding route for its first slate of books following the 2011 passing of founder Dylan Williams. You can read and pledge here. The projects in question is a collection of Katie Skelly's Night Nurse; the ninth issue of the ongoing series Reich, by Elijah Brubaker; and a book called The Golem Of Gabirol by Olga Volozova. Those are all worthy projects, and I urge you to check out that fundraising campaign.

* as always, we look in on fundraising for projects from established industry veterans Jim Woodring, Batton Lash and Keith Knight. The Jim Woodring one seems to be moving along reasonably nicely given the time remaining, the Batton Lash is really close to seeing the finish line from where it stands right now (or at least is poised to make a major move in that direction in the next several days) and the Keith Knight is still a long way off.

* Koren Shadmi hit his targeted amount. So did Jonathan Rosenberg (that one ends a few hours after this will post). So did Ted May. There are always a ton of projects on there for you to check out, many of which could use a hand.

* finally, I believe this week would have seen the 65th birthday of the late writer about comics Don Markstein. His site Toonopedia has donation information and I have to believe that could come in handy to the family right now.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Steve Ditko Spider-Man Covers

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Sarah Boslaugh reports on a Tibet in Comics exhibit passing through St. Louis.

image* I'm not sure that I've linked to the Stumptown poster yet. That's an image of it here.

* Fumetto starts Saturday; that's the big show in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland, one that regularly attracts North American alt- and arts-comics talent and kind of an exemplar of the "not commerce but art shows all throughout the city" model of festival. It's one of a half-dozen shows I'm dying to do someday. All the shows look good but the one in the primary slot on the site is Yves Chaland.

* there's a good-sized show in Kansas City as well.

* Heroes Con continues to add folks.

* a lot of comics folks, particularly mainstream comic book creators with some sort of connection to the Pacific Northwest, are gearing up for next weekend's Emerald City Comicon, a show big enough to enter the collective consciousness with the other ten or so sizable shows and small press festivals out there.

* the debate over how much a commitment San Diego should make to its convention facilities in a way that best serves Comic-Con will continue for all time. I occasionally like to look on that as a story, but there's little dramatic tension there except the manufactured kind. San Diego will decide on what it feels is a proper level of investment into its convention center and more generally its downtown; Comic-Con will pick what they think is the best venue for its show. These are business decisions rather than ones driven by a moral consideration that indicates a best outcome, and they're decisions that have to be made. So while there are ramifications to these decisions I wonder sometimes if there's a lot to talk about -- especially now that we pretty much know the stakes and what many of the players generally want from that show.

* finally, I'm going to try to mention this elsewhere, but you only have until tomorrow to vote for the Eisner Hall Of Fame. All the nominees are worthy; due to the unique nature of his contribution and the fact I believe he'll be lost to an imminent flood of 1970s/1980s superstars due to hit the lists in the next couple of years, I hope you'll consider Bill Blackbeard.
 
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I Don't Think I'm Familiar With Edmund Good

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Rizzoli Responds To Accusations Of Shoddiness On Corto Maltese

You can read the publisher's response to accusations of shoddiness on a new Corto Maltese book here; they sent a letter out that's gone around a bunch (I had it forwarded to me three times). The criticisms they're trying to deflect are best articulated here. The upshot of the explanation seems to be that the edition is based on a mid-1990s book that creator Hugo Pratt approved. That's a good thing to point out, I guess. That such changes would have been made against the creator's wishes otherwise would make this a bit more awful. As it is, the story is just as interesting in terms of what the market for archival reprints will accept and what it won't -- there's going to be significant pushback against lousy production, cropping and resizing in an era where other publishers are falling all over themselves to make the best-looking books they can, not just an acceptable version.

Some readers will no doubt try and place into a nerd court framework, where "we can't dictate to the creator and the estate what's acceptable" or whatever. That's sort of beside the point because no one's really doing that. Barring brutal malfeasance, no one's suggesting that the publisher be censured or punched in the ghoulies for making what some feel is a lousy-looking book. Certain fans are just not going to want that book, particularly when they hear about the choices made. While I think this one is going to be a slam dunk "yuck" from a lot of readers, there are editions and projects out there with finer distinctions to be debated, and I think a discussion of those kinds of issues will be a part of such projects' public acceptance through the remainder of this generation of such projects.
 
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Wanted: More Comics About Violent Psychotics Named "Butt"

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Imagine a character actually named "Butt Riley." Now imagine how awesome a comic would have to be to surpass the awesomeness of that name. This is that comic.
 
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If I Were In Dekalb, I'd Go To This

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Ryuk was created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.

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* The character Kevin Matchstick was created by Matt Wagner.

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* The character Prince Valiant was created by Hal Foster.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* go here for a great post from Bryan Lee O'Malley on how to break into comics. Or, basically, how that's not really what happens. Dean Haspiel speaks to something that happens a bit later in the creative lifetime -- when you realize that it may not be worth it waiting on the gatekeepers to notice you. (both links via just about everybody)

image* this tribute to Bill Dubay contains many, many, vintage fanzine pages. I love looking at that stuff. (via)

* David Brothers on Twin Spica. Rob Clough on some mini-comics. Philip Shropshire on RASL #13. Greg McElhatton on Luther and Batman #7. Sean Gaffney on Kodoku no Gourmet Vol. 1. Grant Goggans on Anya's Ghost. Brian Chippendale on... well, it's Brian Chippendale. Todd Klein on Aquaman #6 and Superman #6.

* Rob Tornoe on self-syndication.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco stops by the funnybook shop. Dan Nadel goes to the gallery.

* like some sort of demented comics saga, the story of Stan Lee Media keeps on keeping on. Basically, they lost another court case but claim that this ruling really leads to success with a different track of litigation. At heart of all of this still seems to be the assignment of rights to the media company and what these rights included according to later agreements between Lee and Marvel when they finally settled their differences.

* Marvel will ship their highly-touted Avengers Vs. X-Men early, leading Graeme McMillan to wonder after leaks and early sales.

* Gary Panter (!!) talks to Bill Griffith. Alex Dueben talks to Denys Cowan. Karl Keily talks to Leah Moore and John Reppion. Shaun Manning talks to Mike Costa. Gilbert Short talks to Marc Silvestri.

* some Korean cartoonists have day jobs, too.

* am I the only one that reads Food Or Comics? and comes up with meal alternatives to every selection of books?

* and here's a foundational Wonder Woman suggestion. I can never tell if Wonder Woman is broken or if she of all the superhero icons just feels the broken parts of the infrastructure more than any other character.

* I did not know there was something called The Drawn Word.

* I'm thinking crazy is probably going to be the order of the day for the guy that dresses like a bat and beats people up as his primary vocation.

* finally, Warren Ellis asks a bunch of people if the fine art of magazine making is screwed. All of my lottery-winning dreams involve paper.
 
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March 21, 2012


Fran Matera, RIP

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Go, Look: Magic Mountain

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Go, Read: On Mark Waid's Digital Comics Efforts

It's my understanding that the writer Mark Waid turns 50 today; I suppose that's as good a time as any to mention that the established mainstream comics scribe is making a push into digital comics -- Chris Sims has a genial description of what this entails here. Waid is by far the first comics-maker to move into digital distribution of work, but I think he has enough of a name in the traditional comics realm -- his Daredevil run is well-regarded -- that certain people will pay attention to this a little more than they might otherwise. Waid's also a fine comics talker, and has been pushing the need for digital comics efforts since at least 2008 when I talked to him on a panel in Charlotte. The attention the effort will receive is likely to include a defense against absurd claims of abandoning the direct market of comics and hobby shops -- if it hasn't already -- but I think most people realize that most creators pursue a variety of projects on a variety of platforms and that they don't really approach their jobs in terms of which lunch table they feel the greatest need to sit the entirety of Senior Year.

More importantly, I think that someone like Waid getting involved and generating some press that way will put more models on the table from which other creators might potentially pick and choose. The recalcitrance of the mainstream comics companies in terms of endorsing specific models of digital publishing has made that a pretty wide open field, even more so than the technology dictates.
 
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Go, Look: Moon Queen

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Venezualan Cartoonist Files Complaint Against Harassment

According to a piece up at El Universal, their cartoonist Rayma Suprani has filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office in Venezuela and written a letter to the president of the Venezuelan Journalists' Association alleging harassment since being criticized by the host of a state-run TV program. She claims in both letters that this is part of a harassment campaign to intimidate her and others like her from speaking out on government policy.

Suprani has been an editorial cartoonist since 1999, with a career that's run the length of Hugo Chavez' time in power.
 
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Go, Look: Rather Lemony

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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.

*****

OCT111101 NANCY IS HAPPY GN COMPLETE DAILIES 1943-1945 (RES) $24.99
This is lovely material, lovingly presented, as satisfying a production-style execution of a strip collection as I've seen in a long while. And that's not exactly a category light on well-executed books.

imageJAN121176 SAMMY THE MOUSE TP VOL 01 (MR) $14.00
Zak Sally's labor of love pulled back into his own grasp and away from other publishers and even printers. There's something about the future of comics in Sally's decision to just make these things himself, although the comics would be worthy of your attention if they were printed by a super-corporation on the bleached paper of original art from exploited 1960s creators.

NOV110051 AXE COP TP VOL 03 $14.99
JAN120074 BPRD HELL ON EARTH LONG DEATH #2 FEGREDO CVR $3.50
DEC110057 BPRD PLAGUE OF FROGS HC VOL 03 $34.99
JAN120089 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #10 STAPLES VAR CVR $7.99
JAN120088 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #10 YEATES CVR $7.99
A lot of Dark Horse's sturdier marketplace offerings all gather around the new releases shelf to bully the other companies' output. The Dark Horse Presents has a timely Thomas Yeates cover the week where it was announced he'd be taking over for Gary Gianni on Prince Valiant.

JAN120316 TINY TITANS #50 $2.99
I believe this is the concluding issue on a series much liked by a lot of little kids and older customers for little-kids friendly comics work. The creative team is moving to a new effort so the comics will continue, but I imagine this makes the TT material primetime dollar-bin material for the next several years.

DEC110427 MICHAEL KALUTA SKETCHBOOK SERIES SC VOL 01 $9.99
I'm always interested in what Mike Kaluta is doing, and would take a look at this if the cover were made of prickly thorns.

JAN120408 ROCKETEER ADVENTURES 2 #1 (OF 4) $3.99
I'm not as interested in the adventures of Cliff Secord from people other than his late creator -- or at least following his late creator's passing an involvement -- but I'm sure others are and I think that IDW set up this project the right way.

JAN128086 PROPHET #22 VAR CVR 2ND PTG $2.99
JAN120601 PROPHET #23 $2.99
My memory is that at one point buying new serial comic book after the date of release could be a dicey thing -- people moved their attention elsewhere, further down the ever-continuing stream of the "get tiny chunks of culture in a bag" endeavor. I wonder if that's the same anymore, with the emphasis on graphic novels and other books that might stare at you for more than a few minutes on a single day before you decide to commit or walk away. In other words, I wonder if getting earlier issues of a series like Prophet works now in a way it didn't used to.

SEP110645 ELEKTRA ASSASSIN PREM HC (MR) $24.99
SEP110646 ELEKTRA ASSASSIN PREM HC DM VAR ED 85 (MR) $24.99
This is a mainstream comics perennial, and probably on the short list if you have a collection made up of permanent editions of this sort of thing. I'm told Marvel is old-man-landlord mercurial when it comes to keeping these things in print, so have a look if you're in the shop today.

JAN120907 DINOPOPOLOUS HC $7.99
This is a comic I have no idea what it is, not really, but I know it's from Blank Slate, I know it's in an oversized format but is basically comic-book length, and I know I'd want to look at it if I were in the store. It might be the first thing I look at. Being in a great, full-service, comic book store is a wonderful thing if you have that opportunity.

NOV111094 UNDERTOW GN $19.99
This is the other one I'm interested in seeing in the "beeline towards the book" way. I actually know an like Ellen Lindner's work, but I'm not sure I know a whole lot about this stand-alone offering (as in this is the first I've heard of it unless I heard of it and forgot). There's a preview of pages here.

JAN120675 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #514 $3.99
OCT111103 EIGHTBALL LIKE A VELVET GLOVE CAST IN IRON TP NEW PTG (O/A) $19.95
DEC111247 HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES TP VOL 06 $12.99
The best of the single-issue superhero comic books, the best of the stand-alone new indy/alt printings and the best of the ongoing mainstream manga series, all valuable ways to interact with the art form in your comic book-type shop. I have to admit that even though I thought I'd never think such things, the price point on the Iron Man book does wrinkle my nose a bit, and I'm just imaginary buying here.

DEC110435 CARTOON MONARCH OTTO SOGLOW LITTLE KING HC $49.99
This week may start and end with a major purchase of the 20th Century Classic variety; if that's your week, it's a good comics-buying week. Thank goodness for this stupendous age of comics reprints -- to have one going that coincides with such routinely strong new material is almost too much. Viva la comics.


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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: Light Riot

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

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character The Vision was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. (appearance and name indebted to the character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby)

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* The character Studs Kirby was created by Peter Bagge.

*****

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* The character Metamorpho was created by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the new Epitaph Records by way of Steve Niles comics distribution endeavor has a name and a first project.

image* David King buys some comics.

* Jillian Steinhauer on Harvey Pekar's Cleveland.

* more Bad Dad.

* I have a few Before Watchmen commentary posts that have been sitting in my bookmarks folder for weeks. I'm sorry about that.

* Pascal Girard, Matt Forsythe and Tom Devlin go back to school. 1980s-style hijinks and a cameo by John Kapelos failed to develop, but it sounds like a good trip anyway.

* that the Comics Journal opened up their archives to a Moebius interview on that great artist's passing had the unintended consequence of providing access to a Tony Auth interview when the former Philadelphia Inquirer cartoonist was in the news for becoming former to that publication.

* I can't be the only one that would buy this.

* not comics: here's an article about the print edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica ending that devolves into a "you couldn't possibly read every volume of an edition" nerd battle royale in the comments section. For some reason, that seems appropriate. I am very grateful that our household had one one of these when I was a kid.

* Ryan Sands may or may not be an underappreciated figure depending on your perspective, but he's at least a big enough deal to appear in the dreams of cartoonists. Speaking of people on that list, here's a TCJ profile of John Workman.

* Tom Racine talks to Darrin Bell.

* not comics: when critics mattered.

* finally, a Superman Art Mystery.
 
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March 20, 2012


Go, Look: Jeffrey Jones Science Fiction Illustration Gallery

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Go, Read: Reuters Profiles Ali Ferzat

There's a pretty good wire-ready profile of the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat here worth the read if you're so inclined. It actually corrects a misinterpretation of an earlier article to which this site linked: as suspected, Ferzat is not living in Syria right now. He's in Kuwait. I was confused by his stated desire to return to Damascus. It's also interesting to me to read him on the cordial relationship that artists had at one time with President Assad, and how that just seemed to suddenly end.
 
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Not Comics: Anne And Janet Grahame Johnstone

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Go, Read: An Evisceration Of New Corto Maltese Book

Here. I'm sure there's all sorts of ways to fuss after something like this as being unfair or off the mark, just as I'm sure there are people for whom the new Hugo Pratt release is a fine book. In addition to the entertainment value, though, a piece like that indicates just how far things have come in terms of the expectations people bring to archival projects. I think it's good that these standards exist, both in the short- and long-term.
 
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Go, Look: Early Joe Kubert

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Comics' Giving Heart: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

* I asked Brad Mackay if he knew the status of the cartoonist Rick Trembles, who was evicted earlier this year from his long-time apartment in dubious fashion. Trembles had hoped publicly someone could help him find a job and maybe even a new apartment. He still hopes. "It goes nada. Need a steady job (of any kind) before I can proceed with looking for an apartment. Apartment hunt's been bust as well. As I recently posted on my Facebook status update: 'I've been losing my shirt wallowing in the pipe-dream that is the Montreal arts/music "community" for three-and-a-half decades. Are you telling me outta all the people I'm supposedly connected to here, there isn't a single one of you that can hip me to some dumbfuck job for me to get back on my feet after this ilegal eviction the city just put me thru?' Frustrating to say the least."

* the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a window-within-a-window on their front page talking about the costs incurred during the recent Canadian Customs Manga case and how you can donate to help.

* Keith Knight is hoping to prod his ambitious Kickstarter campaign over the $20K mark this week.

* speaking of sturdy comics veterans with current fundraising projects, we are always interested in updates from Batton Lash and Jim Woodring. Lash's looks like it's making progress although a bit more slowly since the halfway point. Woodring still needs around $100 a day for the month-plus remainder of his project's plea-assistance lifespan.

* finally, Chris Brandt has launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of repacking the creator interview from his Comic Book Independents documentary about comics and the creative process into a series of unexpurgated interviews.
 
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Go, Look: Another Batch Of 1957 Esquire Cartoons

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* they're counting down to the release of the Dan Clowes art book and why not?

image* this Fall, Drawn and Quarterly will be publishing Brian Ralph's alt-comics classic Cave~In as an all-ages book. New cover, too.

* Bruce Canwell announces that the second Library Of American Comics Alex Toth book is going to be late.

* Vertical, Inc. makes a couple of edition notes. I didn't know that the on-line booksellers might mis-price something in advance, but that makes total sense.

* there was some mainstream comics news publishing-type announcements at WonderCon. Changing the Thunderbolts to Dark Avengers seems to be an odd choice consider Marvel's relative lack of workable brands that weren't created in the early 1960s, but if it means we maybe get Brynocki as Dark Jarvis, I'm cool with it. Brian Wood is picking up a pair of the X-Men books. Kelly Sue DeConnick is the writer that will be transitioning the Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel character into a new iteration of Captain Marvel. DeConnick's superhero stories aren't really like anyone else's in the Marvel writer roster, so any platform for her is a good thing. Also, with DeConnick/Parker/Wood leading their WonderCon news, that's a nice job by Marvel in putting forward a few of their not-huge-star writers. Mark Waid unveils his immediate digital plans, which I think is probably the most interesting material from this show in terms of what we're going to see over the next six, 12, 24 months. It's also the one that will likely initiate the dumbest backlash.

* a final Steve Gerber story featuring the Lee/Thomas/Conway/Morrow swamp monster Man-Thing will appear this summer. That's nice.

* Brian Wood and Ming Doyle talk a science fiction/sports-related forthcoming project.

* two items of Rocketeer-related news, of all things, also WonderCon-related (at least one of them is). One is that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee will be doing an extended story featuring Dave Stevens' characters. I like both of those creators, and while I have to admit to almost no appetite for more Rocketeer I'm sure that will be a handsome, fun comic for those that do have that desire to see more of that world. The other is that IDW is collecting the other work from Dave Stevens, which I honestly didn't know was enough to generate a collection.

* speaking of collections, there will be two new ones this year featuring Liberty Meadows work.

* finally, a hardcover editions of The Silver Darlings is due this summer from Blank Slate.

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It's Been A While Since We All Stared At A Kirby Page

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character George Sprott was created by Seth.

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* The character Wildfire was created by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum.

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* The character Johnny Cloud, Navajo Ace was created by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Epitaph Records to distribute comics.

image* Charles Hatfield on Prophet #21-22. Tucker Stone on various comics. Dan Nadel on various comics. Rob Clough on Kmart Shoes. Greg McElhatton on Shuteye. JE Latosa on The Walking Man. Sean Gaffney on Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Vol. 13.

* laugh, you jerks!

* not comics: a piece of Peanuts-related merchandising for the rest of us.

* Tim O'Shea talks to Paul Maybury.

* Kelly Thompson picks 25 great superheroine moments. I think if I tried to make a similar list it would end being 25 Wonder Tot moments, so I'm glad to read Thompson's.

* I think I would bankrupt myself just buying whatever this kid wanted from any table he wanted them from.

* Paul Gravett writes about the forthcoming line of British, comics-related stamps.

* finally, I'm looking forward to reading this piece on Watchmen by David Brothers and Sean Witzke. Scanning it so far, I'd disagree that Watchmen is considered "the best comic" to the entirety of comics. I think it was pretty low on the list of TCJ's top 100, for one thing, and I'm not sure how that isn't an important list enough to weigh in on that conversation (I believe the top superhero comic on that list was Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four). I do think Watchmen had a "this is the best one" to a lot of contemporary superhero creators and fans for the first 15 or so years following its publication, and I suspect that what they're talking about can certainly use that more limited understanding as the springboard without any alteration, so I'm likely just complaining to complain. Like I said, I'm looking forward to reading it. Ditto this piece on DC brand management, even though that phrase gives me the creeps. Scanning that one is further proof that Scott Snyder is the emerging star that DC needed to find and develop with the initiative, one of about a half-dozen things I think they needed to accomplish for this to work in a broader sense over a longer time.
 
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March 19, 2012


New On-Line John Porcellino Is Always A Great Thing

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Not Comics: Ali Ferzat Appears On Syrian Culture Panel In London

The cartoonist Ali Ferzat was apparently a part of the weekend's Reel Syria event in London, showing up on a panel about that country's culture during this state of crisis. He looks pretty great now a bit more than a half year removed from the brutal assault aimed at his resistance-sympathetic cartooning. He's also still living in Syria. I've heard that he's in Damascus, that he's in another part of Syria and even that he left the country for Kuwait, so that's good to know. That he's in Syria and allowed to travel to such events strikes me as an intriguing thing as well, although maybe I'm completely wrong there.
 
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Go, Look: Truth Is Fragmentary

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Michael Cavna: Sixty Papers Pass On Abortion-Themed Doonesburys

Michael Cavna at Comic Riffs has a round-up of news related to last week's run of abortion-themed Doonesbury strips. Apparently, more than twice the number of papers than expected by the syndicate ran alternates or suspended the feature for the week, but that this number was still less than five percent of the feature's total clients. His last point is interesting, too, that it generated almost no talk-show content. I'm not sure that automatically means that something like Doonesbury lacks a footprint in the current culture -- although I'm sure without even looking some knobheaded commentator out there wrote an article or blog post entitled "They Still Publish Doonesbury?" or something similar -- but it seems to lack one in the way that allows for most political culture stories to gain traction. I think more people read these kinds of things than one might think, but that they may have always made less of an impression than people might have hoped, but that's a hunch on my part.

There's a fine interview here with Garry Trudeau where he talks about creating his comics in a world of rapid-response satire. He makes the point that the strips featuring characters about which people care seem to allow for greater impact. That kind of sounds trite if you look at it one way, but I think it's a point that bears repeating as frequently as possible. Trudeau also notes that someone released all the strips on a single day and that this was a potential problem for some of his clients in the obvious way that would be. I hadn't heard someone had done that.
 
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Not Comics: Mike Kaluta Illustration Gallery

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Not Comics: The Newspaper Implosion From The Inside

I thought this editorial by a person listed as the public editor of the Philadelphia Daily News interesting in all sorts of ways on the general subject of the ongoing newspaper crisis that seems to forcing out so many cartoonists. The writer penned this piece in the wake of a bunch of Philadelphia-area related cuts, including one of veteran cartoonist Tony Auth from his staff position.

I'm a little confused like I imagine some readers might be that someone that lives in South Dakota is suggesting lessons for a newspaper in terms of not reflecting local culture and outlooks more, and that anyone writing a chatty essay like this one really embodies getting back to a core mission, but that's me being cranky. Mostly, though, I think it's a decent snapshot of attitudes by a newspaper culture participant and observer about the difficult situation facing all newspapers right now. This includes the fact that maybe people enmeshed in that culture aren't necessarily going to offer up helpful fixes. For instance, asserting newspapers need to keep institutional memory and young people will be popular in a newsroom made up of those things, but what if a paper can't keep both? How much institutional memory does a paper need? What does that entail in practical terms? Do terms like "flexibility" and "the ability to move quickly" really mean anything, or are they just broadly generic descriptives that carry with them a kind of "well, of course those things are good" weight? Is that viral Olive Garden review really a victory for local journalism, and if so, does it teach us anything that can be replicated in another market? This story seems far, far from over, although as a reader of those kinds of publications and someone that roots for the traditional staffed editorial cartooning positions, I worry that it's a story still being hashed out in vague terms.
 
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Missed It: Those Ronald Searle Wartime Cartoons

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Go, Read/Listen: NPR On Chinese On-Line Political Cartoonists

I enjoyed this NPR story on Chinese political cartoonists and the trouble they have sustaining images on the Internet with various policies in place to discourage them and the willingness of the companies they use to be discouraged. That said, I'm not sure there's a lot more to it than the words I typed in that first sentence. It's a classic "yeah, there it is, right there" article, although it's good to know that these artists exist, for sure.

Also, "Rebel Pepper" is a great name.
 
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Go, Look: Gerald McBoing Boing In Four Color

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Ben Bolt was created by Elliot Caplin and John Cullen Murphy.

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* The character The Flaming Carrot was created by Bob Burden.

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* The character Hazel was created by Ted Key.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this article at the French-language news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com seems to suggest that fixed pricing on digital books might be a big concern for their general book industry. I'm trying to wrap my mind around this being an issue for North America and specifically North American comics. I certainly think there are a small number of major players out there in a way that some sort of prohibitive deals are achievable, but I'm not sure how what they're talking about would work, really. It does make me wonder if down the road there's a chance for some really aggressive, take-out-the-competition pricing strategies. There's a lot of history in comics for that kind of thing. As it turns out, this kind of move isn't even on the table yet as people wonder after making any money at all, and then after making enough to keep the current infrastructure in place. My stomach still hurts at the thought, though.

image* I like that "Gary Gianni draws giant squid" can be an organizing principle for any effort, even one as modest as a blog post.

* check out this fun MAD promotional shot. It's one of those things where I'm sure I've seen it before, but I don't have a specific memory. I mean, I would have seen that before now, right?

* I'm still collecting Collective Memory links for Moebius' passing, such as this tribute from Fábio Moon.

* here's Helen Rosner on the best of culinary comic books. Speaking of which, here's a great-looking cake.

* I can't remember if I linked to this fun post about Marie Severin's Marvel Bullpen Map or not, but it's worth the risk of linking to it again, whatever that risk may entail.

* Rob Clough on some autobiographical mini-comics. Bob Temuka on late-1980s/early 1990s Justice League. Brian Hibbs on various comics. Johanna Draper Carlson on The Earl And The Fairy Vol. 1. Sean Gaffney on Poor Poor Lips Vol. 1. Todd Klein on Batman: Gates Of Gotham and Irredeemable Vol. 7.

* Knut Larsson writes about participating in one of those draw-to-live-music deals.

* Evan Dorkin offers up maybe the greatest character name ever.

* Sean Kleefeld would like to convince you that comics are like red meat.

* not comics: I can't remember if I didn't know someone had done a Lynd Ward documentary or if I knew someone had done one and had since forgot. I blame the crushing yet handsomely rendered gears of modern society.

* speaking of things to check out, and we were at some point on here, scroll down a bit here for a 1902 Happy Hooligan poster. That is one good-looking poster. (thx, Devlin Thompson)

* some nice person at Horror News Networks speaks to Frank Hudec.

* finally, ROAD TRIP!!!
 
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March 18, 2012


CR Sunday Interview: Ruben Bolling

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*****

There's a moment in the interview that follows where Ruben Bolling (real name Ken Fisher) talks about the virtue in nailing the joke in each installment of his long-running Tom The Dancing Bug. He does so in a way that makes me hesitant to make a big, complicated deal of this introduction. One of the great things, and maybe the great thing, about Bolling is that his work is consistently funny. The definition of a working cartoonist over the last two decades, Bolling delivers a fine joke or trenchant observation more often than he does not. Tom The Dancing Bug makes me laugh, and Bolling is right to assert this as perhaps its sole, defining virtue. That should be enough. It is enough.

Still, one thing I've grown to appreciate about Bolling is how poorly he fits into a premeditated niche, or, if you prefer, how his work has become its own thing independent of delivery system. That isn't always the case with funny people. If you think of other comics humorists, they tend to work really well within a specific kind of traditional comic slot. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is almost the platonic ideal of a gag strip, for example. Bolling has managed to stay funny without any kind of traditional home -- even a "new traditional" one. I like that he's just basically done what he's done, and then found a home for it. When the work has shifted somewhat to encompass different concerns in Bolling's life, Tom has remained as true a vehicle as ever; ditto its appearances on-line in a variety of Internet homes, and with its print partners. I have to imagine the last thing on the cartoonist's mind is how his work displays an encouraging model of putting one's work out there and letting the readers come to you, but there it is.

I'm very grateful for the time the cartoonist-writer took to complete the following. We had meant to talk for the Holiday Interview series, but that was before I knew I was going to have to start compensating for memory loss and didn't write it down. I forgot we were going to interview, which is strange only in that I rarely forget to seek out new Toms. I'm thankful for Bolling's patience, consistency and perspective, all of which are on display below. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: We tend to link cartoonists to their primary venue -- "comic book artist" or "strip cartoonist" -- but it strikes me that you don't have a lot of company doing exactly what you do, how you do it. How would you describe your primary place in comics? Do you envision your work as separate as, say, something that appears on Boing Boing or in syndication?

RUBEN BOLLING: Tom The Dancing Bug is definitely an oddball thing. It's a comic strip that is syndicated in newspapers, but it's weekly, large-format, sometimes political and also appears prominently and separately on the web. It's shaped like a comic book page, and uses many different styles, often evoking the styles of comic books, such as superhero comics and funny animal comics.

Also my humor style does not really come directly from cartooning, but from television comedy.

I guess all this reflects the idea I had from the very start of the strip: I wanted to do it all. I wanted to be every cartoonist, and I didn't want any restrictions on what I could do. This probably means I don't have a set place in comics. My annual convention is very small; it takes place in my kitchen, and one beer is served.

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SPURGEON: [laughs] The Boing Boing venue that you have, now that you've been there for a while, what's different about being published through them rather than some of your other homes, past and present? Is there a different audience? Do you feel presented in a different way or with different elements emphasized?

BOLLING: I think of Boing Boing as just one of my clients, but a really, really important one. First, they have such a vast and enthusiastic readership. And when I say enthusiastic, I mean it both in the sense that they are very engaged, but also the vibe is very optimistic and positive. Boing Boing generally doesn't point out things that suck so they can be snarky and superior, they point out things that are awesome. You get the feeling this group could save the world with technology, steampunk and unicorns.

It's also been great to be on Boing Boing because the people who run it are unbelievably inclusive and energetic. After being interviewed on their podcast, Gweek, Mark Frauenfelder invited me to become a co-host -- which I can only manage to do about every other week, but it's been a blast -- and I'm doing a t-shirt with them, and we're talking about a co-venture on a book, etc. I even attended a Boing Boing meet-up that was a lot of fun. It really feels like I've joined a really fun and adventurous community.

But I also just started on Daily Kos, and I have high hopes for a very different audience, building on that momentum. It's so cool that I just did my first Super-Fun-Pak Comix installment that appeared on that site, and even though the site is exclusively about politics, it was really well received. And I'm so excited to join what Tom Tomorrow's built there, with a great group of cartoonists, many of whom are old pals.

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SPURGEON: How do you look back on all those years with Salon now? Is there any lingering confusion on your part as to why your work -- which was popular with them -- was cut loose? Was the time spent trying to find a new, primary home a tense one?

BOLLING: My warm experience at Boing Boing for a year and a half is in stark contrast to Salon, where the strip ran for 15 years. I'm so grateful for that run, but, aside from their great first editor, David Talbot, I never had a meaningful conversation with anyone there, ever. And that includes the parties -- on the rare occasion I was invited -- I felt like an interloper in an office party, which I guess I was.

I was always listed among the most-read features, so I was confused when they let the strip go. They even told me at the time that my traffic was great. Of course, it was part of a purge of all comics; Carol Lay and Keith Knight were jettisoned before me, and Tom Tomorrow left not long after.

Trying to find a new home was extremely tense. Financially, it didn't make that big a difference in my life, but I felt that it was essential that the strip have a prominent, audience-building web presence.

SPURGEON: You've been on-line generally for a really long time now, although your work precedes that being a primary home for it. Do you feel that's been a boon to your career, its accessibility on-line? Is there a part of you that would have preferred a shift to a earlier window for your career, with print as the primary driver?

BOLLING: Being on the web really early -- Salon picked up the comic I think in 1995 -- was great in some respects, but it also hurt me because until Salon dropped the strip, my entire web strategy was: Salon. And that complacency on my part was not healthy or productive.

But basically the web is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's made me much more well-known than print ever has. Especially now that I'm on Boing Boing. On the other hand, the web has been replacing print exposure without sufficiently replacing the income that comes with print. The challenge for all transitioning print cartoonists is to figure out how to leverage that "fame" (in quotes, because it is just web-fame) into dollars.

imageSPURGEON: Has the social media aspect to being on-line made a difference at all for you? I know that you tweet, and you have a modest but not overwhelming number of people that follow you that way.

BOLLING: "Modest but not overwhelming?" That's not even damning me with faint praise, but more like damning me with damning. [Spurgeon laughs]

For years, I resisted social media because it really went against my whole philosophy as an artist -- I think the work should speak for itself, and I try to keep myself out of the spotlight. I hide behind a pseudonym, I do few interviews, and at one point I realized I may be the only cartoonist I know who's never drawn himself in his work.

But I realized a couple of years ago that this purist philosophy doesn't work today, and you've got to sell yourself as well as your work. It wasn't until I found Twitter relatively recently that I really embraced social media -- I actually now find that a lot of fun.

I'm now doing a lot more stuff like that, but in some ways I'm still not all that comfortable with it. I always have this fear that if I pull back the curtain, the audience will find out that the cartoonist behind the comic strip is just some guy.

SPURGEON: Do you still work just the one evening a week, and is that still a process you enter reasonably cold in terms of having prepared material before you sit down to work? How would you say your work over the years has been determined by the way you're able to produce it? Would you be a different cartoonist if this were your sole gig, or if you were constantly working on material just to get it out the door?

BOLLING: Oh, I've never sat down at the drawing table without an absolutely complete script, and some idea of the look of each panel. I may change a word or two while I'm drawing/lettering, but I'm not an improviser.

But I sort of cling to the somewhat romantic notion that the comic writes itself, and I have very little control over its content. I know that's not really true, because on other projects I have plenty of control over the tone and subject matter of my work, but I allow Tom The Dancing Bug to flow somewhat organically. And now I'm not sure if anything I just said is true.

SPURGEON: You've mentioned in the past that you've been dissatisfied with elements of your cartooning, such a relative tightness to some of what you draw. How rigorously self-analytical are you about your comics? How are you different now as a cartoonist than you were ten years ago?

BOLLING: I honestly think I'm somewhat less ambitious as an artist than I was ten years ago. I used to put a lot more thought, and work, into each panel, and now I sort of know how the panel should look, because I've done lots just like it, and just get it done.

While I'm pretty confident in my writing, I'm very critical of my drawing, and that's the aspect of my game where I feel like I'm cheating and bluffing. I think the comic would be so much better if I could draw the comic I have in my mind rather than the one that comes out of my pencil.

Almost all of my non-Tom The Dancing Bug plans involve writing and not drawing, including TV writing.

imageSPURGEON: Your big interview with The Comics Journal in 2001 and 2002 made a definite point of you doing more political work. That seems to have continued, and I think it makes for some of your best cartooning. Was there a process for you in trying to figure out how to do more political work? Are you happy with those cartoons when you do them generally; do you think you've found your voice there? When that works for you, what works about it for you?

BOLLING: I started doing political work just because I found it as another way to be funny. Before I was a cartoonist, I was about as apolitical a person as you could find.

But it's true that after 9/11 and Bush's reaction, this changed on a visceral level. I began doing political installments not only much more often -- like, always -- but with real anger and passion.

But ultimately, I always know that what makes a good Tom The Dancing Bug is not a comic that vents my anger, or even one that makes an "important" point. It's one that is funny and interesting by saying something in a new way.

When I'm writing anything, whether it's a comic strip or a TV script, there's this rare, magical moment when what I've written surprises me. I didn't just write from point A to point B, but suddenly L showed up, and I didn't see it coming. That's just the very best feeling, and trying to find that high again is absolutely the reason I'm a writer/cartoonist.

imageSPURGEON: Did the tenth anniversary of 9/11 bring you to any reflection on that event's impact on your cartooning? I thought a lot of your work was terrific in the weeks and months that followed. Also, in general, do life events tend to have a drastic effect on your work, maybe stuff that happens that we all don't share in?

BOLLING: 9/11 had a huge impact on my cartooning. I remember that for months it seemed bizarre to me that I would write about anything else. The first time I eventually did do a comic of general humor, even though I felt the time was right, I sort of cringed when I sent it out.

But I generally keep my personal life events separate from my cartooning world, although of course some things leak in, consciously and unconsciously. Years ago, after a horrible and tragic life event, I wondered whether I could ever write a comic again, and I certainly didn't want to. I took a week off, then gave it a half-hearted try, and was shocked when I was done that I'd created a totally off-topic silly comic about one of my recurring characters, Bob, that was a solid B+ comic. I was genuinely amazed that my ability to write a comic strip seemed totally independent of my mood or frame of mind.

SPURGEON: One thing I seem to remember about you is that you're a parent, and I know that when I talk to cartoonists that mine certain material about their lives and attitudes they tend to tell me that seeing their kids go through things brings a different or at least an added perspective. Has that been true at all with raising your kids; do you re-see things through their eyes?

BOLLING: Being a husband and a father is the most important aspect of my life, and the one that gives me the greatest joy, but if that's manifested in my comics, it's certainly very subtle.

Thinking about it carefully, one example: I wonder whether I would have come up with my Lucky Ducky character if I hadn't been gearing up for something I greatly anticipated, introducing my children to kids' comics, including the Carl Barks Donald Duck comics.

But while re-seeing things through my kids' eyes has been a thrill for me personally, but I'm not sure it's had much of an impact on Tom The Dancing Bug.

imageSPURGEON: I like your parodies, your gently satirical pieces that count on a certain visual, and I think you have a natural grasp on what makes some art styles pop. Is there anything you think you've learned about why certain kinds of visual shorthand work, why [Jack] Kirby works a certain way, or [Will] Eisner, or certain bigfoot styles?

BOLLING: Really, the only time I get excited about drawing a comic is when I have an idea that requires me to evoke the look of a certain cartoonist. Sometimes, say when I'm drawing a "God-Man" comic, I'll have the idea that a certain panel should look like Kirby or Eisner (both of whom I use a lot), or Curt Swan (who is so underrated, and particularly appropriate for God-Man). And I'll do it in their style, even though it's doubtful anyone but me would ever realize or notice.

I know that aping other cartoonists has been a great education. Sometimes it's not until I really study a Kirby drawing for the purposes of getting his style right, that I'm struck by the raw power and majesty he can evoke with just the right pose. Studying Hergé (for "Billy Dare") and Barks has been a blast, and has really stepped up my game for all of my comics.

I just had a week where I had to do some Dr. Seuss-style art for a comic about the Lorax movie, and I just did a week guest-cartooning for Richard Thompson's great comic strip Cul De Sac. Both were great fun because their loose, almost improvised inking style is so different from my natural style.

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SPURGEON: Do people still have the same reaction to the fact that you engage religion to which you expressed some frustration to Kent Worcester back in 2001? I wonder if the dialogue there has lightened up or coarsened.

BOLLING: Well, there's less blowback on all my "controversial" comics, because the strip is in fewer daily newspapers. They won that war, but it was a war of attrition.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Berke Breathed before leaving the field again offered up an observation in a few places that he regretted on some levels the crowdedness of cultural and political commentary, that it's a different ballgame when you're doing satire alongside MAD and when you're doing it alongside MAD, The Daily Show and a hundred high-profile others. Has the context of similarly-focused efforts changed at all for your work, do you think? Are audiences more sophisticated now, for instance?

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BOLLING: No doubt, there's much more competition, and a much shorter cycle. This Lorax comic I just did is a good example. I couldn't believe the Lorax was being used to endorse things like SUVs, I tweeted about that on a Monday, then decided my next comic would be on that subject. As I took my sweet time writing the comic, I started to see some online attention to this issue, then on Friday, it was the lead story playing on the news on my radio alarm when I woke up, and I started to panic. Then saw that Colbert had done something on it.

I refused to give up on the issue, so I drew it up a few days early, and posted it on Boing Boing on Monday instead of its normal day, Wednesday. After all these years, I think I have a good sense of the right timing on this stuff, and I could feel the window on this comic closing real fast.

SPURGEON: One thing I thought was funny in something I read is you castigated an early George Bush Sr. cartoon, but it was a cartoon that you not only did but that I believe you collected, and it seems to me if you were dissatisfied you could have culled it. Do you think about a legacy for your work? Do you have a sense of what's worked and what hasn't and any desire to make a case for what you've done well?

BOLLING: I'm not sure which comic you're referring to, but my first book was published in 1992, and I'd only been a professional cartoonist for two years. I was insanely lucky to get a book contract at HarperCollins that early in my career, but that meant the book contained everything I'd ever done. I literally could not take out a page.

The nature of this kind of cartooning is that you really don't think about any legacy. You do a comic, and the minute you're done you (and the readers) only care about the next week. That's a relief when I do one I'm not too proud of, but when I do one I like a lot, and gets a lot of praise and attention, I really resent that I only get to live with it for a few days. I'm always jealous of musicians who get to tour the rest of their lives on their hits, with the ability to make people happy every single night with something they've written years ago.

SPURGEON: There's a very human, curious, skeptical and even practical undercurrent to your work, a sensibility that emerges when you read a bunch of it at once. How important is it to you that people get the entirety of perspective that you bring to a subject? Are you okay with people just laughing at the gag?

BOLLING: I'm really glad that you found an overarching sensibility in my work -- and that it reflects positive attributes -- but really, my only goal is to get the reader to laugh at and/or enjoy each individual comic, one at a time.

In some ways, I view a sensibility or consistent themes emerging from reading many comics at once as a failure of imagination. It means I wasn't able to keep each comic different enough.

SPURGEON: I noticed your name in Ken Fisher form being used to mark your participation in the Cul De Sac strip roundtable of creators being used while Richard is sick. You've talked a lot about what the nom de plume did for you early on, but has having one that's so loosely applied had special uses over the year?

BOLLING: Ugh. No, I try to keep the pseudonym strictly applied for all public purposes, but that was the result of a mix-up at my syndicate. And now I'm being asked about it in an interview. The pseudonym thing has been a giant pain, and I wish I could get my time-traveling character Percival Dunwoody to go back to when I decided to use it (I was a teenager!) and tell me to cut it out!

SPURGEON: Are you a stable cartoonist, do you think? Are you set up in a way that you can go several more years? Why will you finally quit?

BOLLING: Well, I've never intended Tom The Dancing Bug to be the only thing I did; I've always done other things. I live my life, and then a strange byproduct of that life is that I emit this weird comic strip once a week. So I guess I'll stop if and when the things that come up in my life crowd Tom out.

*****

* Tom The Dancing Bug at GoComics.com
* Tom The Dancing Bug at Boing Boing
* Tom The Dancing Bug at The Daily Kos

*****

* all art from Tom The Dancing Bug, hopefully employed in responsible, clear, contextual, illustrate-a-point fashion. Except maybe that last bit below, which I stole because it made me laugh.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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OTBP: D.I.Y. Magic

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not comics, but a lot of cartoonists serve as illustrators
 
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Go, Look: Loston Wallace Gallery

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Go, Look: Dan Adkins Illustration Gallery

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Hägar The Horrible was created by Dik Browne.

*****

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* The character Vigilante was created by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin.


*****

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* The character Ray Smuckles was created by Chris Onstad.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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FFF Results Post #287 -- Cartoonist + Newspaper

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Traditional Staffed Editorial Cartoonists You've Enjoyed That No Longer Have The Position Where You Enjoyed Them." This is how they responded. Well, a couple of them, anyway.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Tom Toles (Buffalo News)
2. Charles Werner (Indianapolis Star)
3. Tony Auth (Philadelphia Inquirer)
4. Jeff MacNelly (Chicago Tribune)
5. Mike Peters (Dayton Daily News)

*****

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Patrick Ford

1. Paul Conrad (Los Angeles Times)
2. Herbert Block (Washington Post)
3. Bill Mauldin (Chicago Sun Times)
4. Don Wright (Miami News)
5. Thomas Nast (Harper's Weekly, bound volumes)

*****

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Frank Cammuso

* Jim Borgman (Cincinnati Enquirer)
* Rex Babin (Albany Times Union)
* Bill Mitchell (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)
* David Catrow (Springfield News & Sun)
* Jeff MacNelly (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

*****

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John Cole

1. Dwane Powell (Raleigh News & Observer)
2. Tony Auth (Philadelphia Inquirer)
3. Jim Borgman (Cincinnati Enquirer)
4. Jules Feiffer (Village Voice)
5. John Trever (Albuquerque Journal)

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


James Kochalka Mini-Documentary


Gary Panter Talks
via


Another Great Moebius Video


Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now


Jules And Kate Feiffer


A Sid Couchey Profile


Woodsman Pete And Beard Philosophy
 
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March 17, 2012


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 10 to March 16, 2012:

1. Criminal charges were dropped by the Canadian crown in the manga customs case facing 27-year-old Ryan Matheson. As CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein explains in the linked-to article, the case was a win for the act of coordinating legal efforts for something like this and the decision to face them down, as well as the fact that Matheson avoids criminal charges. It's not a victory in terms of it being less likely that someone is going to get picked up on another, similar, customs-related charge.

2. The very effective editorial cartoonist Signe Wilkinson will be kept on the Philadelphia Daily News after her employment status was brought into question in another round of "well, we have to let go lots of people" at the beleaguered publication. With the Inquirer announcing the departure of Tony Auth scant days ago, that would have left a top 10 American city with a proud tradition of cartooning without a major, staffed editorial cartoonist.

3. WonderCon kicks off in Anaheim, bringing with it the traditional start of the convention season and the compelling story that the once longtime Bay Area festival may or may not return to the Bay Area. Conventions have become a reliably successful part of the overall constellation of businesses related to comics -- reliable in that there are a lot of them and that the seem to be generally legitimate, not that any of them is ever an easy enterprise.

Winner Of The Week
Matt Bors. That made me happy.

Losers Of The Week
Newspapers that dropped Garry Trudeau's abortion strips. Come on, it's Garry Trudeau. You've known about Garry Trudeau for four decades now.

Quote Of The Week
"When I think of my audience, I like to have good thoughts and think about how lucky I am to have one that is as intelligent as mine and as moral as mine." -- Alan Moore, who might eventually burn away enough of his audience through statements about Before Watchmen that this is true.

*****

today's cover is from the thriving small-press and independent comics scenes of the 1980s and 1990s

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

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Punk was created by Pat Oliphant.

*****

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* The character Powerhouse Pepper was created by Basil Wolverton.

*****

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* The character Mr. Am was created by Harold Gray.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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March 16, 2012


Go, Look: Less Quality But Less Quantity

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posted 2:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Group Think: Who In Comics Is Underappreciated?

imageThe recent passings of longtime Fantagraphics art director Dale Yarger, on-line comics site pioneer Don Markstein, the Harvey artist Sid Couchey and yet another one of those French-language comics fans and organizers that helped establish that part of the world's vibrant comics culture has me thinking about all the ways in which comics is built by people that are never fully recognized for their contributions: people that are underappreciated. I've been thinking about this more generally since Bill Blackbeard's death and the late archivist's appearance on the last two Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame ballots. The image to which I frequently return is the number of books in a great comics shop in which Blackbeard played some sort of role. It's staggering to me, and I'm not sure that as much lip service as we pay to someone's contributions in that way that we ever rightly come to terms with what they've done, internalize it, and move on. One of the wonderful things about being a comics fan in this day and age is that you can meet those who had a hand in the near-entirety of what we know as the commercial flowering of the medium.

So I was curious: who do you think, living or dead, is underappreciated in terms of their contributions to the entirety of what we know of as comics? I understand that's a difficult question and one can lead to a lot of self-indulgent writing. I'm certainly of the mind that everyone in comics is underappreciated, and I'm not immune to feeling the desire that my choice for someone I'd name in this fashion reflect well on me, or even flatter a person from whom I can benefit. So I hope that any of you that might write in will avoid the "You know who's still underappreciated? Charles Schulz!" entry or the "My editor is an awesome lady" paragraph. I'm hoping to tap some sober appraisals, divorced from your personal relationships, perhaps just one or two sentences on someone you suspect has never quite received their due -- even if it's someone about whom you don't know a lot but wish to because you feel like you may be missing out. Another thing that's nice about comics is the most modest fulcra can sometimes make for the lifting of huge parcels down the line, so maybe a mention here could put a name into some future writer's head about a possible subject about which to write, or a different way to look at things.

My own wish list is extensive, but let me share three. I have a general desire to know more about comics circulation people and the decisions they were making in the '50s, '60s and '70s. So maybe Martin Goodman's Circulation Manager Johnny Hayes could be put down as someone about whom I'd like to know more. I always feel like Mark Alan Stamaty was a significant figure for a lot of cartoonists now in the prime of their careers, and certainly a productive artist, widely-published, with a great deal of displayed skill inherent in his work. I have almost no grasp of his work, though. And let me name one contemporary, another person about whom I know next to nothing. One of the interesting things about attending BCGF in December 2011 was that it really underlined for me how relatively little I know about the emerging generation of alt-cartoonists. I was at several points literally having to be led around and introduced to people like some sort of clueless dad at a cotillion. Two different people in two different conversations named one person in particular as important to some members that scene in terms of being a taste-maker, context-provider and generally being a way into understanding what's going on there. I have no idea if they're right or not, but I have it on my list of things to do to find out more about Ryan Sands.

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Michael Grabowski: I have to imagine that there are a number of key early retailers now nearing retirement age if not already there (Bud Plant) who fit in this category. I just don't have any names for you. But who were these guys (I assume -- there may be women involved in the early direct/resale market who were active for reasons besides being the spouse of one, and if so they certainly fit the underappreciated tag) who each made the decisions to gamble whatever capital they had on a storefront to maintain a stock of used comics and purchase nonreturnable new ones? I don't think comics retailing has ever been an easy field to enter, let alone stay healthy in, but that first generation of people who raised up the hobby from the fan paper ads into a business that has come to be the sole support of the periodical side of publishing -- those folks deserve some name-recognition and decent history-writing.

OK, in addition to Bud Plant, Phil Seuling is a name that comes to mind. Bob Beerbohm? And many more, I'm sure. Harry Kremer as well?

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imageJim Kingman: Steve Skeates. He wrote several tremendously entertaining short stories for editor Joe Orlando's mystery comics ("The Gourmet" from PLOP! #1 immediately springs to mind). Plus, his slightly-ahead-of-its-time work on Aquaman, along with artist Jim Aparo, in the late, late 1960s and early, early 1970s has been, in my humble opinion, noticeably underappreciated.

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Mark Sharar: Dick Dillin, Pat Mills, Frank Robbins, J.M. DeMatteis, Jerry Grandenetti, Pat Boyette, Dan Spiegle, Jorge Zaffino, Esteban Moroto, Peter David, Frank Thorne, Tom Sutton, Sal Buscema, Erik Larsen, Robert Loren Fleming, Dave Sim.

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Danny Ceballos: I'm still frustrated and confused by the lack of any re-print collection or critical attention paid to the late George Carlson (Jingle Jangle Comics). His jaw-dropping comics are every bit as beautiful and strange and poetic as the best of Fletcher Hanks or John Stanley, yet George Carlson's legacy remains an obscure footnote, fetish item and a rumor.

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Rodrigo Baeza: Some ideas:

Translators: I believe not enough attention is given to translators, especially now that more European comics are being translated into English. We've been lucky to have good translators such as Helge Dascher and Kim Thompson, but I believe most of the time we take for granted a job that isn't easy and that if not done competently could possibly ruin a book.

Letterers: I'm thinking here of those craftsmen who specialized in lettering comics for mainstream publishers, and whose contributions (at least for me) were an important part of the reading experience. I would love for example to know more about Japanese-American letterer Ben Oda, the man responsible for the distinctive lettering of the Kurtzman-edited EC comics and many Simon-Kirby comics (to name merely two examples out of a decades-long career). Or about Howard Ferguson (another Simon-Kirby letterer), John Costanza, Artie Simek, and so on. Thanks to the efforts of Todd Klein we now more about many of these craftsmen and the logos they designed, but there are probably many interesting stories yet to be told about these people.

Newspaper strip cartoonists: We're lucky to have so many good and historically important strips available these days in deluxe reprint editions, but I believe many post-1950 cartoonists are currently being overlooked. These are cartoonists who are not in the same league as Herriman, Caniff, or Schulz, but who still have decades of fine work behind them that could find an audience today: Johnny Hart, Mell Lazarus, Russell Myers, Tom K. Ryan, and so on.

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Chris Cummins: Thanks for letting me know about this. I recently saw Al Jaffee at an event here in Philly and it really got me to thinking about how unique he is. The old guard is slipping away. I have no doubt that Jaffee's legacy is ensured, but there are two specific comics icons whom I feel are largely overlooked. All that said, here's my entry:

imageFrank Doyle and Harry Lucey are the greatest comedy team you've never heard of. For decades the pair toiled away at Archie Comics, unknown by the mainstream and underappreciated by the young readers who devoured their stories then moved on to see what else Jughead and the gang were up to.

They were both utility players for Archie, working on whatever title necessary with Doyle handling story duties and Lucey bringing the Riverdale gang to life with his clean, timeless art. But when working in tandem, Doyle and Lucey could turn ordinary kids comics into something transcendent.

Growing up, Archie titles were my comics of choice. But when I entered puberty, they fell by the wayside as I became enthralled by the Marvel Universe. Recently though, I have rediscovered my old Archie digests and for the most part it is the Doyle and Lucey stuff that seems the most memorable to me. It's been said that Doyle and Lucey, along with the great -- and equally underrated -- Samm Schwartz form Archie's holy trinity of talent, and this is a point I completely agree with. The pair's stories are packed with whimsy and slapstick, but their work never condescends to the intended young readers. Like the humor of the Muppets, the Doyle/Lucey collaborations have much appeal for adults as well. Because really, it's never not funny to see Archie fall down on his ass or watch as Reggie gets pummeled by Big Moose.

Even though IDW has been printing volumes of rare Archie material, it still doesn't feel like enough to help shake the company's uncool stigma that causes the incredibly funny stories by Doyle and Lucey to be overlooked. Fortunately the tide is changing thanks to the contemporary work of Dan Parent, Paul Kupperberg and Alex Segura.

So maybe Lucey and Doyle (yep, Schwartz too) will eventually be held up in the same regard as EC Segar and Winsor McCay amongst comics historians. I hope so. They certainly deserve to be.

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Nate Cook: Just off the top of my head...

We know all about Will Eisner, but what about his partner, Iger (did I spell that right?)? Was he also a cartoonist? What did he do? Why did Eisner see him as a good partner? What did he do after comics?

For early comics artists, what about Fred Guardineer (thanks for the creator/character posts... that's what made me think of him). Seems like he had an unusual style, not quite as out there as Fletcher Hanks, but weird and cool, yet I don't know much about him or what he did (Zatara aside ... there was that extremely weird "Moon Man" strip on Lambiek).

I find that there's not that much info out there on British comics ... not like with Japanese or French ones. Maybe Paul Gravett would be a good example of an underappreciated chronicler of such things?

Speaking of, I'd love to see some kind of in-depth article about Chris Reynolds (besides the great Seth piece... that was a while ago, and I'd like to see a process-type post on how he does that unusual art of his ... also, what is going on with his kindle-only comics now?) and also a process post on James Turner, who may be one of the only guys doing all-computer artwork (NiL, Rex Libris, etc.).

That's all I got right now!

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Evan Dorkin: I've always been interested in who the really good and influential and maybe even inspirational editors are that have worked in comics. People who actually make the work better and put together projects and creators or creative teams. Editing is a misunderstood job and role in comics, it doesn't get much real attention other than when Big-2 editors are taken to task by fans or they hop on a message board to act poorly. Editors are rarely part of the equation when things get praised, at least as far as I see it. We blame editors when something goes wrong. I don't think the fans and readers and even some creators know what really goes on in the offices, and not just the mainstream offices. Artists discuss process and tools, writers put their scripts out there, colorists and letterers and graphic artists show off tutorials -- what do editors do? How do they do it? Who's good at actual editing and not just scheduling and pushing papers around? There aren't many editors who get talked about like creators, many of them who do get some attention are usually also artists or writers, Kurtzman, Feldstein, Goodwin, Kanigher and the like (or they're characters or bogeymen, like Weisinger or Kanigher). There are editors who really do exemplary work, protect their talent, nurture their books, go to bat for the medium and care about what they're doing to an extent where they are actively shaping the comics landscape. And there's also people putting together archival collections at D&Q, FBI, IDW and elsewhere, some of whom do get press and acknowledgement. Maybe this is another conversation, but editors and editing are a conversation we rarely seem to have, for obvious reasons, most folks don't talk about book or magazine editors save for a few names. But if the same names appear on a lot of the books you read, those editors might have more to do with what you're enjoying than just calling people up and saying "Where's the pages?". And I bet the same can be said for some publishers we don't talk about much other than being "the publisher."

I'm not naming names only because I don't want to just list people I've worked with and like, which seems like a suck-up, but that's the extent of my knowledge. I have had a fairly limited experience with editors, I tend to work with the same people a lot. So if you look at my books, especially from the past decade or so, you'll know who I mean.

Also: There are great con organizers and promoters out there. They're not all Gareb Shamus. The good cons are a sort of backbone to the industry, more so now that ever, perhaps. Sheldon Drum of Heroes Con runs a great show that feels like a community gathering every year. Chris Butcher and crew at TCAF, a blessing in the North America scene. I'm sure there are others but I've been doing very few shoes for some time now and have fallen off the circuit.

Although I don't work with SLG anymore, Dan Vado has brought a lot of talent into the business, put out a lot of fun books, pushed the areas and venues where comics were being sold and seen, and started doing dedicated small press shows with APE before SPX and others revved up, among other things. He took a lot of beatings trying to help the cause of comics and got taken for granted for it much of the time. I don't think people ever gave him enough credit for what he did and tried to do.

Also: the people who process the checks are often the most important people in this business.

Excelsior!

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John Platt You asked this right after Mark Evanier announced the death of Josie DeCarlo, wife of Dan and inspiration for the iconic leader of the Pussycats. As Mark put it, "Josie continued to promote [Dan's] name and work" after he died. Supportive spouses or partners like that can mean so much to either help creators create or to keep their memory alive after they have died. (I'm also thinking about Jeannie Schulz here.)

But what about relationships that bring more pain than pleasure or support? Look at Carl Barks' disastrous second marriage. I think it could be argued that we'd never have had the genius of Carl Barks if not for the escape his artwork and storytelling provided from his abusive alcoholic wife, Clara. Barks himself said he was divinely inspired during this period, and the stories he told then, born of this period of personal pain, remain classics.

I don't think Clara Barks or people like her should ever be "appreciated," but sometimes the negative forces in our lives need to be acknowledged.

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imageRob Goodin: Harvey Eisenberg comes to mind when I think of underappreciated cartoonists. He was a flat out master draftsman and storyteller and it's difficult to find out anything about him or even which comics he drew.

Perhaps a subcategory that may or may not count are Europeans that are almost unknown in America that shouldn't be: Martin Tom Dieck, Blutch, and Ludovic Debeurme. Ludovic finally had a book published by Top Shelf last year so maybe his fortunes are changing.

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Roman Muradov: I'm not a proper funnybook person to have important opinions, but the subjects resonates with me deeply. These three I think are criminally underrated:

1. Vincent Giard
2. Richard Short
3. Tim Hensley (Wally Gropius)

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Sean T. Collins: Ha, I was ready to click on over to Gmail and send you an email with the header "Ryan Sands" until I got to the very last line of your post. I can't think of anyone who's more convincingly demonstrated the commonalities between alternative manga of whatever stripe and the contemporary alt/art comics of North America; he is clearly a genius-level printer and zinemaker; he's been instrumental in the rise of many of my favorite young/new cartoonists; he loves Lady Gaga and smut and was tapped to guest-edit a women's comics anthology despite being a not-woman.

Tom Devlin's a giant figure, I think, and it's been fascinating to watch him fold his own fully formed aesthetic into that of another publisher with an aesthetic just as distinct without compromising either. Plus, I like to think of Peggy Burns scrambling to pry his hands off the briefly unguarded D&Q twitter account the way I have to run down the hall into the kitchen to keep my crawling baby from eating out of the cat food dish.

Dan Nadel, and the PictureBox/Comics Comics/nu-Journal braintrust in general, may actually get the amount of appreciation they deserve, but perhaps not the kind of appreciation they deserve? You look at what he/they said/published and look at what the people who rose up in their wake did, specifically regarding the reclamation of genre, and it's apparent they're a class by themselves.

I'm always going to say that Phoebe Gloeckner is one of the Great Cartoonists, even if at this point she's the Great Cartoonist that got away. I know her influence on people like Lisa Hanawalt is profound, and barely ever discussed; her willingness to go there, wedded to such rigorous and relentlessly emotional and traumatic memoir material, makes her work a powerful permission slip for cartoonists to go just as far, more so than anyone since Crumb. Meanwhile her mix of prose, illustration, and comics in The Diary of a Teenage Girl grows increasingly prescient.

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Brian Brown: Tony Shenton!

This dude gets everyone's mini-comics into stores! No one else does what he does really.

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imageMark Andrew Smith: I think that Sergio Aragones is under appreciated as well as Kazuo Umezu. Also Daniel Torres is one of my all-time favorites.

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Jonathan La Mantia: This one is a tough question -- great and terrible. Without going into the laundry list of everyone I know, making it sound like a lot of sucking up -- I'd say I'm most interested in some of the founders of now defunct publishing houses, distributors, and the early fanzine publishers.

As far as naming them it's tough -- I came across Underwood-Miller when I finally got the Berni Wrightson book, A Look Back (Wrightson is someone I would be going on and on about right now -- had you not asked us not get into fan-boy mode) the book is just phenomenal and it looked like Underwood-Miller really had a great catalog of very well presented special editions- I'd love to know more about them. Denis Kitchen and Kitchen Sink Press is another one -- there's a lot of history and well known titles -- and now I'm looking it up, I really hate to say that I didn't know he was the founder of the CBLDF (if I did at one point completely forgot -- I'm going to go with that one). Phil Seuling and his East Coast Seagate Distribution, New Media/Irjax, and Pacific Comics -- names that now that I'm actually thinking about them and looking them up there seems to be a good amount of information available- I'd say if anyone reading is interested in learning about the formation of the direct market -- there are worse ways to spend an evening. Finally, Bhob Stewart is someone who seems to have a fair amount of credits to his name but I didn't know anything about him until I went looking for fanzine publishers.

As you said, the industry is fraught with hard working individuals who sometimes fall through the cracks in history, the ones who paved the way end up getting paved over. The good thing about our current technology is the one of the easiest ways to find out more about someone is look them up online. If you're lucky that person you think should be getting more credit is also using that social network you're always on, and you can tell them directly how happy you are for their contributions. I recommend doing it now -- before they're not around any more to take the compliment.

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this group think is now closed

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Go, Look: A Steve Rude Mini-Gallery

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Charles Brownstein On The Lessons Of The Manga Customs Case

imageExecutive Director Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was nice enough to take time from his busy WonderCon weekend schedule to answer a few questions about the just-concluded Customs Manga case facing Ryan Matheson since 2010. With all criminal charges dropped, my attention drifted towards the contexts by which we're to understand its conclusion, the implications for the comics industry and the potential for other prosecutions of this nature.

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TOM SPURGEON: Is there any indication as to what specifically led to the charges being dropped? Was it someone reviewing the case, something the defendant's legal team specifically worked out, something measurable like that?

CHARLES BROWNSTEIN: My understanding is that the breakthrough was a change in prosecutor shortly before the scheduled February trial date, coupled with the fact that Michael Edelson and his team developed an astonishingly strong defense on a wide range of constitutional grounds that would have been likely to prevail in court.

I think that the facts were very bad for the prosecution. Ryan was outrageously mistreated in the course of his ordeal: his search was not conducted in a constitutionally valid fashion; he was denied access to counsel; he was denied basic necessities like food and blankets; he was denied access to the American embassy; he was taunted by police who actually told him he could be raped.

And the art in question had unquestionable artistic merit, was not obscene, and was not child pornography. One of the two images that we believe to have been at issue is this Moe style parody of the "48 positions," which is a kind of Japanese Kama Sutra, which is itself a parody of the 48 Sumo positions. This link has background on the source images.

The other piece we believe to have been in evidence was in the anthology Mahou Shoujo Ririnana. The entire anthology is derived from an existing anime called Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. ("Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS"). I am still working to locate the exact page in question (not all the evidence has been returned yet, and who knows what condition Ryan's computer will be in when it is), but we believe it depicts the fictional characters Reinforce, a 900-year-old computer program that is about a foot tall, and Vivio, a non-human shapeshifting magic creature who takes on a variety of female forms in a story that ends in a sexually explicit fashion.

While both of these comics are adult material, I can't see any reasonable adult viewing those images and convicting them as depictions of child sex abuse. Particularly in the context of the expert testimony we were prepared to deploy.

All the way around, I think it was a case that was unlikely to break in the prosecutor's favor. I know Ryan and Michael held a hard line that they would not agree to any criminal charge, and Michael did a terrific job managing that. Although I believe the defense would have prevailed at trial, I wholeheartedly respect Ryan's decision to accept the regulatory charge, because it closed the matter without the risks inherent in a trial where the consequences of conviction are a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison and registering as a sex offender.

SPURGEON: Where do you think this leaves us in terms of potential future prosecutions of its type? Will this encourage or discourage such proceedings?

BROWNSTEIN: Unfortunately, I don't think this outcome changes anything in terms of the risks inherent in crossing borders with comics. Nor do I think it diminishes the risks of people being prosecuted under child pornography laws for possession of comic book art, because no binding precedent was set at trial. Even if a good verdict were reached here, it wouldn't be binding here in the States. At best it would provide guidance, but it would still be a battle to be fought and won in an American court.

Ultimately, I think these issues are still very much in play both internationally, and here in the United States. And I think that they're an easy get for prosecutors because individuals tend to be automatically predisposed to assume guilt wherever an allegation of child pornography is made. Even in this case, where the charges against Ryan were dropped, and he's been cleared of any wrongdoing, you're still seeing a lot of internet comments suggesting that he must have possessed some form of child pornography. Well, no, he didn't. If he did, there's not a reality in which the Crown wouldn't have proceeded to trial.

People aren't rational about this issue. And that makes it dangerous, potent, and very much in play. If you factor in the current cultural climate, where, just today, Rick Santorum pledged to increase prosecution of laws against the distribution of pornography if elected President, it's not hard to see how cases against comics may be about to get worse rather than better.

SPURGEON: This was a different case for you; are you happy with the case as a sort of first time out in this area? Do you think your coordination and individual contributions will improve if a similar case crops up in the future.

BROWNSTEIN: I think this was a good result, and a win, because ultimately Ryan was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. It wasn't the precedent-influencing outcome that one always hopes to achieve when taking on a case like this, but those cases are always rare. It was a first for us, becoming involved in an international case involving an American citizen, and I'm pleased that we were able to become involved. It was the right moral thing to do, and it raises extremely important legal concerns that are going to be ongoing, which means it was right for our mission. While I sincerely hope that it is never necessary for us to become involved in a case like this again, I think we were able to sort out important precedent questions as an organization, and are in the early stages of building a much better network for international coordination on important Free Expression related matters. So, yes, it made us smarter, it expanded our network, and that always makes us better able to coordinate our defense efforts.

imageSPURGEON: What would you have the wider comics community take away from the case and its outcome?

BROWNSTEIN: This is one of those rare moments where Benjamin Franklin's famous quote, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately," is the most potent and accurate assessment of our current situation. Even today I saw a lot of discussion that it's okay for authorities to prosecute the really icky stuff. But when you look at the actual images Ryan was prosecuted for, it's clear that the authorities have a much lower threshold for what constitutes the really icky stuff than the average person who's ready to sell their fellow comic book reader, retailer or artist down the river.

If Ryan were convicted for possessing that Moe 48 Positions, what chance does the average indy cartoonist going to TCAF have of carrying stuff into the show without hassle, much less fear of arrest? What hope does a retailer who orders from the adult order form for his store have when that stuff is in his internet cache? We're a field that thrives on the power of the static image, and while our communities have our own understandings of what's acceptable and what's taboo, our understanding may not always square with that of local law enforcement. I'm not saying these things to stir up fear, I'm saying that equivocating about what kind of censorship is acceptable to us, as individuals, creates cracks in our armor that can bring censorship down on our field as a whole.

Ryan's story proves that there's absolutely no profit in adopting a posture indicating that "censoring that stuff I don't like is okay," because taste isn't what laws are built on, precedent is, and the precedent here could have hurt the readers and makers of comics from all over the world in a serious way.

Now is the time to hang together, to advance broader understanding about our content, and to take a firm position that upholds its merit as important free expression. And that's the work we at the Fund are putting our back into right now.

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posted 2:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ronald Searle In Yugoslavia

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posted 2:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Tony V. Wright On Brett Ewins

This came to me from Matthew Badham via a sequence of links Alex Haley would have found daunting. Wright pays attention to the former prominent illustrator's current, distressing situation in terms of it as a failure of the institutions that might otherwise support someone in Ewins' position. I think that's a fine way to focus on what's happened and what continunes to happen, and I do remember that even those directly affected by Ewins' out-sized behavior had sympathies in that direction.
 
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Go, Look: Some Handsome-Looking 1941 Irv Novick

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Signe Wilkinson Will Stay At The Philadelphia Daily News

Michael Cavna had this up late yesterday afternoon: the situation by which the Philadelphia newspaper establishment might lose both Tony Auth and Signe Wilkinson within several days of one another had been side-stepped. The prominent editorial cartoonist -- a key figure in comics history for being a woman in that position, but mostly just a skilled practitioner of her craft -- will stay on with her newspaper despite that publication shedding jobs in this latest chapter of the Great Newspaper Shake-Out Of The 21st Century. I think that's great news and I hope that the Daily News and all newspaper will renew their efforts to try and find ways to make their cartoonists a bigger part of what they offer and how they offer it. I know that's a loaded criticism to make because you can't just change what people do to suit a long-term marketing and positioning need, but I have to think there are more options out there for the talent on hand.
 
posted 1:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: Moebius, 1938-2012

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Commentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of the cartoonist, illustrator and designer Moebius (1938-2012).

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imageInstitutional
* Lambiek Entry
* Official Site
* Wikipedia Entry

Past Interviews, Profiles And Articles Of Interest
* TCJ (1987)
* Two Interviews Found By Comics Commentary

Audio
* Master Of Screaming Metal Panel

Blog Entries
* Apo (k) lyps Comics Galerie

* Bob Temuka
* Boing Boing
* Bouletcorp.com
* Bully

* Cameron Stewart
* Charles Hatfield
* Charles Yoakum
* Chris Foss
* Collected Comics Library

* Dave Taylor
* Dean Trippe

* Entre Comics

* Fischer On Comix
* Fourth World Blues
* Fred Schiller
* Fred Van Lente

* Geoff Grogan

* Holy Hangover, Batman

* Intergalactico

* Jason
* Jeff Parker
* Jesse Hamm
* Joe Keatinge

* Lines And Colors

* Mark Siegel
* Martin Wisse
* Matthias Wivel
* Matt Seneca
* Metabunker
* Michael Cavna
* Michael Deforge
* Mike Allred
* Mike Sterling
* Mindless Ones
* Mistah Phil
* Mitchul

* Nantua
* Neil Gaiman
* nichangell comix
* Nick Abadzis

* Robot 6

* Sarah Burrini
* Scott Edelman
* Sean T. Collins
* Sean Witzke 01
* Sean Witzke 02
* Sébastien Soleille
* Swamps

* The Beat
* The Comic Book Catacombs
* The Folio Club

* Will Pfeifer

* Yaxin The Faun

Facebook Posts
* Al Davison Drawing
* BD Gest
* Brian Michael Bendis

Message Boards
* Libertythink

Miscellaneous
* Bouletcorp.com
* Darko Macan 01
* Darko Macan 02
* Francesco Francavilla
* James Kochalka
* Lou Copeland
* Luggage For Moebius
* Quenched Consciousness

imageNews Stories and Columns
* 3News

* ActuaBD.com
* Alt Film Guide
* Anime News Network
* artinfo.com
* Artnumerica
* Auction Central News
* AV Club

* BBC News
* BD Gest 01
* BD Gest 02
* Big Pond News
* Bleeding Cool
* Broken Frontier

* CBR 01
* CBR 02
* CBR 03
* Chicago Now
* Chicago Sun-Times
* Chron.com
* Comic Book Bin
* Comic Mix
* Comic Mix 02
* ComicsAlliance
* Crunchyroll

* Dalje.com

* Empire Online
* ergocomics
* Europe1
* Examiner.com

* Geekosystem

* Hooded Utilitarian
* Huffington Post

* ICv2.com
* io9
* ivpressonline

* Joystiq

* Korea Herald
* Kotaku.com

* LA Times
* Local 10

* Malta Today
* My San Antonio

* NY Daily News

* Reality TV World
* Reg Hardware

* Sequential
* Strip Vesti

* TCJ.com 01
* TCJ.com 02
* TG Daily
* The Celebrity Cafe
* The Comics Reporter
* The Daily Star
* The Mary Sue
* The Record
* The Verge
* The Weekly Cafe

* Variety

* Washington Post
* Westword
* Who2

Photos
* Conversazioni Sul Fumetto

Twitter
* #RIPMoebius

* Becky Cloonan

* CB Cebulski

* Douglas Noble

* Jaime Hernandez 01
* Jaime Hernandez 02
* Jaime Hernandez 03
* Jamie McKelvie
* Joe Quesada
* Joe Keatinge
* Jonathan Ross

* Larry Marder

* Mike Norton

* Neil Gaiman

* Scott Dunbier
* Stephen Mayer

* Tonci Zonjic
* Tony Moore

* Woodrow Phoenix 01
* Woodrow Phoenix 02
* Woodrow Phoenix 03

Video
* An Evening With Moebius
* FPI Blog
* Moebius Redux Documentary
* Wow Cool

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Manhog was created by Jim Woodring.

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* The character Cutey Bunny was created by Joshua Quagmire.

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* The character Jon Moses Sable was created by Mike Grell.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Booklist has a top 10 graphic novels list for 2012 up, which if that were an accurate description would be a new record for getting one of those up early. It's a 2011 list with a 2012 name, though.

image* Sean T. Collins talks to Jonny Negron. Some nice person not named in a place easy for me to find it talks to Roger Langridge. Heidi MacDonald talks to Brian K. Vaughan. Some nice person talks to Si Spurrier. Brian Salvatore talks to Tonci Zonjic. Chuck O'Donnell talks to Ralph Macchio. Blake Bell talks to Josie DeCarlo.

* Sarah McIntyre draws very cute monkeys. You know, writing that out looks horribly rude.

* Pat Bagley is clever.

* it's hard not to be in love with Saul Steinberg.

* Fletcher Arnett on Trouble. Andrew Shuping on I Kill Giants. Don MacPherson on Avengers Assemble #1. John Kane on various comics. Sean Gaffney on The Earl And The Fairy Vol. 1. Grant Goggans on 2000 AD prog 1771. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comics. Michael Buntag on a pair of newer comics. Charles Hatfield on Blue.

* well, I suppose that's one way to go.

* so there's a sale at PictureBox, Inc. That's more news of the "I'm talking to you about stuff on the bus" variety than like actual, hard news, but hey: a sale at PictureBox, Inc.

* more of that Bad Dad.

* making the same complaint and expecting a different result, that's the definition of... well, you know what I mean.

* news only Joe Casey and I care about: no love for the Englehart Avengers era.

* Krypto was a good actor.

* finally: vote early, vote often, vote Clowes.
 
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March 15, 2012


CBLDF: Charges Dropped In Canada Customs Manga Case

With the general understanding that this very good news, I'll refer you to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund brief on the crown dropping criminal charges against 27-year-old Ryan Matheson for manga found on his computer in 2010 -- he's pleading to a violation of a customs procedure, and won't stand trial as a criminal. I want to write a better article tomorrow, and pretty much anything I could give you today would be parroting what the Fund has put together.

One thing they will emphasize over there, and God bless them for it, is their own contribution to Matheson's defense. I think that's a point that shouldn't be lost -- this took a major effort and major funds invested. Although the outcome for Mr. Matheson and free speech advocates generally is a relief and the nature of the result thankfully minimizes in a way what was being faced here, in a way you can't forget the affront and danger inherent in the charges. Today would be a fine day to thank the CBLDF or another contributor by sending a donation their way. One nice thing about such a donation is that if effectively employed fewer will be necessary down the road. Today is a day we mark that kind of successful employment.
 
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Group Think: Who In Comics Is Underappreciated?

imageThe recent passings of longtime Fantagraphics art director Dale Yarger, on-line comics site pioneer Don Markstein, the Harvey artist Sid Couchey and yet another one of those French-language comics fans and organizers that helped establish that part of the world's vibrant comics culture has me thinking about all the ways in which comics is built by people that are never fully recognized for their contributions: people that are under-appreciated. I've been thinking about this more generally since Bill Blackbeard's death and the late archivist's appearance on the last two Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame ballots. The image to which I frequently return is the number of books in a great comics shop in which Blackbeard played some sort of role. It's staggering to me, and I'm not sure that as much lip service as we pay to someone's contributions in that way that we ever rightly come to terms with what they've done, internalize it, and move on. One of the wonderful things about being a comics fan in this day and age is that you can meet those who had a hand in the near-entirety of what we know as the commercial flowering of the medium.

So I was curious: who do you think, living or dead, is under-appreciated in terms of their contributions to the entirety of what we know of as comics? I understand that's a difficult question and one can lead to a lot of self-indulgent writing. I'm certainly of the mind that everyone in comics is under-appreciated, and I'm not immune to feeling the desire that my choice for someone I'd name in this fashion reflect well on me, or even flatter a person from whom I can benefit. So I hope that any of you that might write in will avoid the "You know who's still under-appreciated? Charles Schulz!" entry or the "My editor is an awesome lady" paragraph. I'm hoping to tap some sober appraisals, divorced from your personal relationships, perhaps just one or two sentences on someone you suspect has never quite received their due -- even if it's someone about whom you don't know a lot but wish to because you feel like you may be missing out. Another thing that's nice about comics is the most modest fulcra can sometimes make for the lifting of huge parcels down the line, so maybe a mention here could put a name into some future writer's head about a possible subject about which to write, or a different way to look at things.

My own wish list is extensive, but let me share three. I have a general desire to know more about comics circulation people and the decisions they were making in the '50s, '60s and '70s. So maybe Martin Goodman's Circulation Manager Johnny Hayes could be put down as someone about whom I'd like to know more. I always feel like Mark Alan Stamaty was a significant figure for a lot of cartoonists now in the prime of their careers, and certainly a productive artist, widely-published, with a great deal of displayed skill inherent in his work. I have almost no grasp of his work, though. And let me name one contemporary, another person about whom I know next to nothing. One of the interesting things about attending BCGF in December 2011 was that it really underlined for me how relatively little I know about the emerging generation of alt-cartoonists. I was at several points literally having to be led around and introduced to people like some sort of clueless dad at a cotillion. Two different people in two different conversations named one person in particular as important to some members that scene in terms of being a taste-maker, context-provider and generally being a way into understanding what's going on there. I have no idea if they're right or not, but I have it on my list of things to do to find out more about Ryan Sands.



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Go, Look: A New Chapter Of Army Of God

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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events -- Special Interview With David Glanzer

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This weekend is WonderCon, the traditional start to the convention-going year. In 2012, WonderCon is an intriguing show for several reasons. First, there have never been more vital, legitimate North American comics conventions as there are right now, so any arguable start to a year of such shows is worth noting as well as any longtime, established shows. Second, this year marks a move from the traditional Bay Area locale of the show to Anaheim. There's no guarantee the show will go back to San Francisco or stay in Anaheim, which means how this show does is going to be closely watched for some clue as to the stakes that might be involved with its future. In addition, the Anaheim area is a compelling story for comics conventions in and of itself -- that there isn't already a regular show of this size settled in at Anaheim's massive convention facility is to my eye almost as noteworthy as this particular show settling in there for 2012.

With plenty of news to be made, I asked Comic-Con's David Glanzer a few questions about WonderCon and the other shows on their 2012 con slate. I appreciate his time in responding.

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imageTOM SPURGEON: David, instead of making some sort of guess at it myself, I was wondering if you could maybe share from the con's perspective what you guys identified as unique challenges to this Anaheim show? You guys have been doing this a while, so I'm sure you were able to point out what you were facing... what were some of the things that leaped out at you once the decision was made to move the show to Anaheim?

DAVID GLANZER: Probably the most obvious was being in a totally new city and a totally new venue. Even though Anaheim is just a matter of a couple of hours north of San Diego, it's a very different market. We had to figure out how to alert everyone that we were moving, why we were moving and to see if we could energize locals to come to the show. Also, what challenges would we have with exhibitors/volunteers/staffing. Really, it's kind of like mounting a first time show.

SPURGEON: If there's one thing we've learned with all the very good, newer cons out there, it's the benefits of momentum, of establishing a show over a few years' time. How do you make this show operate as something other than a brand-new show? How is it beneficial to you to have WonderCon in Anaheim as opposed to skipping a year with WonderCon and having the AnaCon or something like that in this slot?

GLANZER: I honestly don't know that having the show is more beneficial to us than not having the show. There are a lot of added expenses to mounting a show in a new market. I do believe, however, that having the show can be more beneficial to the industry. It's nice to keep the show on the circuit for exhibitors, professionals and fans. And it does meet our mission statement, especially if we can introduce new people to the industry. We have a pretty exciting line up of guests so in that respect I think it's a good thing. The momentum question is a good one. While we have made it a point to let people know that WonderCon in Anaheim is put on by the same people who put on WonderCon in SF and Comic-Con in San Diego, it really is like a totally new show. We hope that our experience in producing successful shows will translate well in Anaheim and that everyone will have a great time. We are certainly working diligently to see that this happens. But, in the end, only time will tell if we were successful. I have my fingers crossed.

SPURGEON: Here's a question that a lot of casual convention-goers have asked me. Why do you think there isn't a major-major show in the Los Angeles or Anaheim communities? That seems like an ideal pair of communities for a comics show, and while there are some admirable shows that have taken place there, there's nothing as established as in other cities.

GLANZER: That's a great question and one for which I don't really have an answer. I will say, however, that oftentimes I see shows try to start out bigger than I personally think they need to be. Some think Comic-Con started out as a huge four day event. It didn't. Long time attendees remember how small we were. We have always been most successful in answering the demand; basically not putting the cart before the horse. If one day got too crowded then, out of necessity almost, we would add an additional day. So, again, I don't really have an answer.

imageSPURGEON: Tell me about the space that you're getting to use. Is it a standard convention space? One thing I liked about the Moscone Center as a home base for WonderCon is that it seemed to have some architectural quirks, like those raised sitting areas behind the registration booths. How important is a space generally when you plan for a show like that one?

GLANZER: Space is always very important. Not only exhibit space, but meeting space and hotel space. Anaheim offered several things that other centers didn't. For one they had dates that were available and close to the calendar for typical WonderCon dates. They also had the exhibit space and meeting space and a hotel right across the plaza.

We actually sold out our original exhibit space early on and the center was able to accommodate a move to a larger hall. While there are two other conventions being held at the same time, we have enough meeting space to have a great selection of programming and with our host hotel across the plaza it's very convenient. And even though our room block has sold out, Anaheim has a variety of lodging choices in different price ranges so finding a room shouldn't pose a problem.

SPURGEON: I've been trying to figure out something to ask about your programming... I guess one thing I'm curious about is whether or not the point you are in the calendar year determines what works and what doesn't. Do you get panels from people looking to promote specifically for the summer of 2012? Is there anything more generally that distinguishes WC programming from CCI programming, or are there strengths in kind of making a lot of the programming synergistic?

GLANZER: This is going to sound silly, but programming first and foremost is based on what we would like to see. Guests are usually invited many, many months in advance of the show. And those guests are favorites for any number of reasons. It's great when they have new and interesting books out or coming out that we can then build programming around.

In terms of Hollywood, it really depends upon the studio or network. We have a long history of delivering audiences. Sometimes studios will promote projects that are a year off to build grassroots interest. Or even to gauge audience reaction. Sometimes, and this is rare but it does happen, studios will bring in talent for a film that opens within a week or so or sometimes even that weekend.

SPURGEON: Am I right in thinking that response from exhibitors was strong? Because when you and I talked early on after your announcement, I remember joking in your direction that the response would probably be, "I really miss San Francisco... but you know, Anaheim would be pretty convenient to do..." From where are you seeing a spike in interest?

GLANZER: Actually yes. As we discussed we were able to fill our first hall very quickly. Anaheim was great in moving us to an expanded hall and now that is sold out as well. So we are pretty grateful for that.

SPURGEON: How does advanced sales on people attending the show look in comparison to past years?

GLANZER: We are actually ahead of last year's numbers a bit. Hopefully that will continue with at-door sales, too.

SPURGEON: I know you probably can't answer this in any detail, but can you sketch out what your decision-making, planning and announcement process is going to be like for the decision you need to make about next year's WonderCon? When should we know what you'll have planned?

GLANZER: Well so much of it really rests on San Francisco. Currently it's been challenging as we can't secure dates with a longer lead time than six months. As any exhibitor knows, six months isn't really convenient to planning your year. We hope to get dates with a longer lead time, and when that happens I think you'll hear the announcement very quickly. So, basically, once we know, we'll let everyone know.

SPURGEON: How do you guys grade out the CCI badge-selling weekend just past?

GLANZER: I would love to have been able to say great. And while we did go through our allotment in record time (1h22m) the truth is there was, yet again, another glitch.

While our website could handle the traffic and the registration site could handle the traffic, the link we provided in our email to those with Member IDs (the only way you could participate) had an analytics that became overwhelmed a little after one minute and continued to be overwhelmed until some minutes later. So if you cut and pasted the link, if you had bookmarked the link in advance or if you went through the Comic-Con website you were fine. But the instruction we gave to simply click the link ended up not working as well as we had hoped.

SPURGEON: The one thing I'm not totally sure of with the badge-selling is that I don't know why the system seems to change every year when you have had attendance capped for a few years now. What are you improving? Is something like the Member ID system there to make the process go more smoothly, or is that to put a system into place that is more secure...? What does your ideal badge system do? Are you close to locking into place how the show is going to operate moving forward?

GLANZER: We receive a great many comments and suggestions every year. And we try to improve upon our system based on those comments. The Member ID system is a way we hope to streamline the process and, hopefully, cut out a majority of those who just buy badges to resell them. While there was that horrible issue with the email link, the Member ID system allowed us to reduce the time it took to purchase a badge. Remember last year it took nearly seven hours or so before we were able to process available badges. This year it was less than an hour and a half.

imageSPURGEON: I wondered if you could answer a couple of complaints that have been out there about CCI more generally, that seem to come up when some folks have a frustrating weekend like some folks surely did with the badge sales. First, do you feel like you've priced the event too low not to have a better control on demand?

GLANZER: We have received complaints that the prices are too high. I don't know that there is a happy medium. We've always priced the event at what we hope is a fair price. When i first attended the show I was a teenager. I didn't have a lot of money then and I would imagine teenagers don't have a lot of money now. I would hate to think raising prices to allow only those who could afford to attend would be the best solution.

SPURGEON: Second, are you at all sympathetic to the idea that you're basically leaving a ton of attendance "on the table" by keeping the show the size it is?

GLANZER: Oh, absolutely. We made this decision back in the mid 2000s. We knew that the proposed expansion, if it happened, wouldn't even begin to be addressed until 2011 or later and any build out wouldn't occur until at least 2015. We received a huge volume of feedback from our attendees saying they wanted us to stay in San Diego. They realized the space considerations but it seemed more important to keep the event in its hometown. And I certainly see their point.

So while we have limited space at the center, we have moved some programming to area hotels and even placed some events outside the venue. We were able to accommodate an additional 4000 people last year which is obviously a drop in the bucket, but space is a contestant in each decision we make.

SPURGEON: Third, was there any thought at all to have professional and press registration before the regular badge sales, and are you worried at all that people might be left out that would have liked to have had a shot at a buying a badge?

GLANZER: The truth is there are people who would like to attend the show who will not be able to. Any organizer, I don't care who they are, would feel this is one of the worst scenarios with which to be confronted. While some business people joke they'd like to have our problem, in reality I don't think they would. It creates a big level of negative backlash. With regard to Press and Pros, we've had to limit those numbers of late in an effort to make more badges available to the public.

We didn't open pro or press early because there was still a lot of testing that needed to be done on the infrastructure as well as the entire Member ID system.

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SPURGEON: You've announced a pretty impressive early guest list for APE; is there anything you do differently when you have a show opposite a show, like this year with APE and NYCC taking place on the same weekend?

GLANZER: No one ever wants to run into that type of situation. Luckily for us these two shows are very different. As I've said before, we try to put on the type of show we would like to attend. I am sure that is true for any show we are opposite. But hopefully APE will be another well attended show. It's honestly one of my favorites. The key is hopefully letting the audience for APE know how unique of a show it is and hopefully it will be another successful event.

SPURGEON: David, if you didn't have any responsibilities for the upcoming WonderCon, where would we find you? On a beach far away? The dealers room? In costume getting your photo taken? I have money on this, so no pressure.

GLANZER: Tom, honestly, and I do mean this honestly. I think if I retired and had no responsibilities with the show, you would see me in the exhibit hall spending more money than I probably should and taking in panels of guests I hardly ever get to see. And I would do it all in costume. Yes, I would. In fact, I still have two costumes from way back in the day... both of which seem to have shrunk terribly in the intervening years.

Beach time is great time, but the beach is always there; WonderCon happens only once a year.

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* WonderCon starts tomorrow in Anaheim. Comic-Con International is in July; APE is held in October.

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Not Comics: HB Vestal

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Waiting On Possible Criminal Charges Against Mike Konopacki

A Wisconsin Republican state assemblyman Steve Nass filed a formal criminal complaint against the cartoonist Mike Konpacki last week after Konopacki assembled a fake version of a press release using a faked version of the assemblyman's letterhead. The release briefly led to some on-line reportage that, because it was based on a parody release, was not true. At the heart of the conflict between the cartoonist and the politician is apparently the politician's move to suspend a planned art show done in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of political protests in the state. Konopacki has since apologized for the appropriation, and has reportedly been suspended from his current gig.

While one supposes there's a vigorous debate to be had about what constitutes parody and what constitutes potential fraud, which is certainly something that will be debated in criminal charges are filed based on the complaint, at this point I would hope that cooler heads prevail and that Konpacki's admission that his move was a step too far will bring about a similar confession from the politician's office that pursuing a felony charge with jail time attached also seems a ridiculous use of any of the system's time given the measures taken by the employer. I'm not totally optimistic about this.
 
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Not Comics: Drawing From Animation Architecture

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via
 
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Waiting On Philadelphia And The Fate Of Signe Wilkinson

I thought this article provided some clarity to a situation that was hinted at in others: that even with Tony Auth departing the Philadelphia newspaper scene, cartoonist Signe Wilkinson was advised to do so as well. She's so far declined, but that doesn't mean a decision won't be made on her behalf as apparently necessary staff cuts move forward. She does have support in that community, and is believed to have specific value to the journalistic mission in which she takes part. I think this is an obvious "showdown" situation, where while it may be a bit silly to play it up in that terms there is a definite clash of perceived best outcomes going head to head. Wilkinson's status as an extremely high profile female cartoonist plays into this as well.

One of the things that's frustrating about the Philadelphia cutbacks story is that for the most part newspapers are perceived to have moved past the worst elements of three or four years ago when things seemed to be in free fall. Again, that's too easy: there have been plenty of cutbacks and plenty of staffed newspaper editorial cartoonist position cut since the darkest days, but this kind of thing still seems slightly out of joint with the overall mood. It's also a deeply uncomfortable sign in that arguably, part of what got newspapers into this mess in the first place comes down to the idea that the industry was poorly prepared for any kind of systemic blow after years of dependable profit margins for many of their companies. This was a source of self-laceration (as in "we did not do what we could to increase efficiency to keep pace with changes in technology") but also provided a small measure of comfort (as in "these cuts are horrible but maybe, despite our every impulse that these our factors beyond our control, we were due some of these changes") in dark times. That further, still-drastic, and perhaps even basic coverage-altering cuts might be necessary in a major market calls into question the manner in which the initial rounds of cutbacks were performed as well as the long-term effectiveness of such solutions. Unsettling times.
 
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Go, Look: 1940s Superman Trading Card Images

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via John Firehammer
 
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If I Were In Bristol, 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 Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Somewhere Near Duke University, I'd Go To This

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Blue Devil was created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Paris Cullins.

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* The character Boris The Bear was created by James Dean Smith.

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* The character Brother Voodoo was created by Len Wein and Gene Colan. (with costume design by John Romita)

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the FLUKE show in Athens has sent out a press release I'll stick at the end of this sentence: FLUKE2012pr.doc. The show is April 21 this year, and I wish there were a dozen more like it in similar communities.

* Mark Evanier notes the passing of Josie DeCarlo.

image* Mike Dawson talks to Renée French. Katie Haegle talks to Eliza Frye. Matt Seneca talks to Michael DeForge. Kurt Amacker talks to Alan Moore. Deb Aoki profiles Jaime Hernandez.

* not comics: Joe Gross is thankful for the portrayal of a comic store clerk in the movie Gayby.

* Sean Collins mentions on Twitter that he's no longer blogging for the group effort Robot 6. I thought Collins did a good job with alt- and art-comics coverage for that part of the CBR on-line comics news empire.

* Martin Wisse describes his comics comfort reads. I don't know that I have specific comics comfort reads but I read a lot of comics in that way, if that makes any sense. Like if I'm in a super-crappy mood or other feeling down I'll pull some random serial comics series out and spend a couple of days with those comics as my reading companion.

* Abhay Khosla has some questions he'd like to ask Alan Moore.

* Evan Dorkin wonders after the comics box-office bombs. I bet there's a prose book-publisher project or two that barely made any money back on their advances, maybe the one or two that were positioned as successors to Persepolis. You also have to consider Team Tundra.

* Chris Butcher writes about the Tohoku Disaster one year later. That event was a big deal for a lot of comics reader whose consumption of manga was part of a bigger process of learning about/learning to enjoy Japanese culture more generally.

* in case you were wondering -- I sort of was -- Garry Trudeau has done strips about abortion before this week's run and they weren't always very well received, either.

* it's all positive news from Gary Tyrrell at Fleen.

* Leah Moore on the fact that female readers of comics read all kinds of comics.

* Andrew Shuping on Saga #1. Greg McElhatton on Empire State. Don MacPherson on The Secret History Of DB Cooper #1. Sean Gaffney on Twin Spica Vol. 12. Sean T. Collins on Pope Hats #1-2. Bart Croonenborghs on the latest Slaine. Todd Klein on Hellboy: House Of The Living Dead and Hellboy: The House Of Hell And Others.

* there's a new site up for the Jeffrey Jones film. (thanks, David Scroggy)

* Sean Kleefeld explains why crossovers don't work.

* I never understand the toys, not really, but that is a very handsome shelf full of comics.

* Alan David Doane describes his lack of interest in the comics themselves.

* finally, Philip Eagle wrote in to mention in reference to my whining about the lack of underground/alt-comics work available in digital editions that there's at least one academically-oriented repository of that material. I did not know about this.
 
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March 14, 2012


Missed It: Ladder Bearer

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Go, Look: Jack Davis Meets The North American Indians

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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.

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NOV110026 MONSTERMEN AND OTHER SCARY STORIES HC $24.99
This is mostly a surprise to me; I have a vague memory of a Gary Gianni collection of his material from various Hellboy-related back-ups, but not firm knowledge that it was imminent. I suspect this material might have additional power gathered all in one place.

imageDEC111081 COMPLETE CRUMB TP VOL 01 EARLY YEARS OF BITTER STRUGGLE $24.99
DEC111082 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC VOL 17 1983-1984 $28.99
JAN121272 CORTO MALTESE TP VOL 01 BALLAD OF THE SALT SEA $25.00
NOV110052 CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES HC VOL 01 $49.99
OCT110248 DC UNIVERSE BY ALAN MOORE HC $39.99
DEC110438 ARCHIE AMERICANA HC VOL 03 BEST OF THE 60S (IDW) $24.99
Here's almost $200 of archival material all worth a look. The Peanuts and the Crumb are automatic buys for me: the former and the reigning Greatest Living Comics-Maker. The Corto Maltese is of course of high interest because of that work's pedigree and reputation; a lot depends on the way the project is executed, which is why getting to be near a full-service comics store can be the greatest thing in the world. That's really the publishing project of the week, I think, the release to note. Ditto the Crimes Does Not Pay work, although there's a bigger chance that work is less interesting page to page than the Maltese. Alan Moore's superhero work is always of potential interest, although even with Moore there's some diminishing returns after a while and I'm not certain at this point you couldn't pick up what you really wanted in the original comic book form. I remain sort of baffled by all the Archie books, but I'll look at every last one of them.

JAN120483 ART OF MOLLY CRABAPPLE SC VOL 01 WEEK IN HELL $9.99
DEC100415 GEORGE PEREZ ART OF HC $49.99
NOV110296 WOMANTHOLOGY HEROIC HC $50.00
Here's three notable releases in which I don't have a lot of interest but that's more personal taste than any slam against the works in question. That's a nice price point on the Molly Crabapple; I'm just not familiar enough with her work to want this sight unseen. George Perez is always fun, although an art book with that price point (I'm having a depressingly mercenary imaginary day at the imaginary comics shop) deserves hands-on scrutiny. There are some good creators in the Womanthology anthology, although I have to admit I don't have $50 to take a chance on finding someone new I might like if that's the point of the book, and I think it is. I'm not 100 percent certain. Or for me to find even several people. Fortunately, I'm pretty confident in my ability to find the creators I value through their individual work, by paying attention to what's been written and what's out there book to book. I hope I'm right to be confident that way. I don't think I've ever not been able to find a cartoonist whose work I've enjoyed; at least they haven't been kept from me for long. Your mileage may vary considerably from my own.

JAN120340 NORTHLANDERS #49 (RES) (MR) $2.99
JAN120485 SAGA #1 (MR) $2.99
JAN120076 LOBSTER JOHNSON THE BURNING HAND #3 (OF 5) $3.50
DEC118235 THIEF OF THIEVES #1 VAR CVR 2ND PTG $2.99
JAN120607 THIEF OF THIEVES #2 $2.99
JAN120664 CAPTAIN AMERICA #9 $3.99
JAN128240 ADVENTURE TIME #2 $3.99
JAN128109 ADVENTURE TIME #1 (3RD PTG) (PP #1011) $3.99
NOV110717 MOUSE GUARD BLACK AXE #4 (OF 6) $3.50
Here's a bunch of stuff that kind of popped out at me as potential comic-book comics buys. It's a strange list in that I think it all pretty much inhabits an area of "I'd look at it, but I probably wouldn't buy it." It's still a compelling group of books form a publishing standpoint. The Northlanders is an issue of a serial comic winding down from Vertigo, the company that did higher-end serials pretty much exclusively for a while there; the Saga is a new comic that provides roughly the same kind of reading experience except it's from Image, where those comics seem to be clustering. There's a Mignola-verse comic. The Thief Of Thieves gets points for being a comic in a genre (crime drama) other than horror or superheroes, yet seems deserving for demerits for being a little too self-congratulatory for being that kind of comic. It kind of reads like a 15-minute segment in some future TNT/USA Network TV show starring someone like... I don't know, Bill Paxton? When that kind of thing is so easily available in other media, I'm not sure that it just being a comic book is a big selling point, unless you're really wowed by the thought of comic books doing such a thing. The Captain America is from reliable Ed Brubaker (at least I think it is). The Adventure Time stuff seemed to hit reasonably hard with its target audience first time out, and I'm curious about it. The Mouse Guard books seem to be pretty reliable packages for what they do, too. I'm not sure I'd come away with any one of those books, but they'd all be in there fighting for my attention and somewhere out there someone is going to mutter "all right!" about each of them as they scoop it up.

JAN121203 SMURFS GN VOL 11 SMURF OLYMPICS $5.99
JAN121204 SMURFS HC VOL 11 SMURF OLYMPICS $10.99
I enjoy these collections of classic kids material -- I'm assembling the softcovers.

JAN121309 TWIN SPICA GN VOL 12 $13.95
This is apparently the last issue in Vertical's reprint of the kids-becoming-astronauts series. I was never 100 percent on board. It had that thing I find distracting in a lot of manga series in that the characters and situations tend to reflect these huge clichés in ways that I find more distracting than enervating. But there was some really fun junk rattling around in this one, and I liked its view of a bunch of kids feeling the effect and weight of personal and public history in a way that doesn't get brought out a lot in works about young people -- mostly because it doesn't always occur to the kids in that situation. It was an admirable publishing project, as far as these kinds of projects go; I hope it had its fans.

*****

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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posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Even More Lynd Ward Pen And Ink Illustration Work

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posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics' Giving Heart -- Projects, People In Need Of Funding

* a cartoonist of whom I'm completely unaware named Raúl Treviño wrote in with a link to a fundraising page for his latest comic, Tinkers Of The Wasteland. I'm completely unfamiliar with webcomics work emanating from Mexico, which is reason enough for me to run the link so I can look in on it when I have a few second. It makes sense you'd see work like this springing up all over the world, right?

image* the Kickstarter project on behalf of the latest book from veteran cartoonist Batton Lash has reached its halfway point. This allows me to run another picture of Batton Lash. One of the premiums apparently puts you on the jury in the trial depicted, which is the kind of thing I find adorable.

* the Toonseum is still accepting donations here. I'm not sure where they are on monies raised or needs met, although it's not like they'd spend extra money on solid gold shoes.

* another veteran cartoonist, Keith Knight, has pulled past the 10 percent point on his effort to fund his first graphic novel here.

* the Injury Comics #4 fundraiser looks to be about there.

* finally, it looks like the Little Heart project made its goal, but I imagine there's still room for more donations if you're interested. That's the marriage-equality comic out of the Minneapolis area.
 
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: George F H Taylor

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posted 1:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 12:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Fat Freddy Freekowtski was created by Gilbert Shelton.

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* The character Etrigan was created by Jack Kirby.

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* The character Bouncing Boy was created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* do you even need to read the comments on something like this to know what they're like? I think the weirdest thing at this point is how many people get worked up about the kind of objection Alan Moore is making in a way that suggests they feel they have some sort of significant -- or even equal -- interest in perpetrating their consumption habits exactly the way they'd prefer to maintain them as he does reacting to what he perceives as a cycle of abuse over a quarter century of his professional life. It seems to me like there's enough material out there to enjoy that doesn't involve an aggrieved creator. I guess some folks disagree with that notion, though.

image* this link opens up a PDF version of Nick Offerman's Seventy, Never Sixty-Five. Free comics!

* someone at the charity Nerdyshirts talks to Dean Haspiel about his involvement with that group. Andy Burns talks to Chris Ryall and Tom Waltz.

* for no particular reason, here's Hergé and Andy Warhol (via Devlin Thompson). If that's not random enough for you, how about a Red Sonja 45 RPM slipcase? (via John Firehammer)

* Jeff Flowers would like for this site to mention a forthcoming Marada The She-Wolf collection. And now it has. Thanks, Jeff.

* check out this super lovely-looking page from James Sturm. It's apparently a comic about aging. Christian Maiwald sent in that link.

* here's an international silent-comics competition.

* I totally missed Marc Goldberg being named Chief Technology Officer at comiXology. Is that a thing that companies have? That sounds like something from Star Trek. I'm sure this specific position is very real, though. That seems like a successful company to me.

* finally, Steve Lafler sent along a note that Dog Boy #5 has started free serialization. I'm not totally sure why all of this out-of-print alt/indy material isn't available for digital download right now; it seems like that's a business opportunity for someone. Not a great business opportunity, mind you, but very few of those available in comics are.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 13, 2012


CR Newsmaker Interview: Scott Dunbier On IDW's Artist's Editions & Going Back To Press On Wally Wood

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*****

imageI see a lot of comics these days. Some projects stand out. One that's made a specific impression is the Artist's Edition series that IDW has been doing. These are the books printed at the size of the original art, featuring comics work such as the 1980s indy-comic classic The Rocketeer, a run of Walt Simonson's fondly remembered Thor, a primetime sequence of the Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. "Peter Parker on a motorcycle" Spider-Man and, most recently, a bunch of EC Comics by the patron saint of 20th Century cartooning, Wally Wood. In a comics world stuffed with high-quality reprints, these have stood out for me as lovely objects -- near-lunatic objects -- as well as their being a fine and sometimes even surprising way to re-experience some strong mainstream comics efforts.

I've been trying to interview veteran industry figure Editor Scott Dunbier for a few years now, and I thought I'd pitch him one more time with this specific project of his as its focus. Happily, he agreed. With the Wally Wood version of the series selling out and reportedly already going for a ridiculous premium, he let me know we even had a news hook. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Scott, now that we've noodled on this a bit via e-mail I understand you and IDW have a couple of things to announce: that you have publishing news about the Wally Wood Artist's Edition book and then some convention-related Artist's Edition announcements... I want to make sure that gets noticed, so I thought I'd just give you the floor right up top. What's going on?

SCOTT DUNBIER: First off, we're going back to press on Wally Wood's EC Stories: Artist's Edition.

SPURGEON: Huh. Okay.

DUNBIER: It was a difficult decision; from the start of the Artist's Edition program we had made it clear that these would be one-time ventures, [that] when they were gone they were gone. Part of that was based on pure financial reasoning -- these are big books, expensive to produce. And you have to realize, we overprinted Wood by a good margin. But retailers deluged us with reorders, and our direct-to-consumer sales were very brisk as well. This might sound corny but it's really true -- people demanded that this book be reprinted. I mean, we got reports of fights breaking out in stores over copies, how crazy is that?

SPURGEON: [laughs] I had not heard this.

DUNBIER: We're hoping to have the book available again at the end of May or early June. I urge people who missed it the first time to pre-order it with their local comic shop, or through the IDW web store. Additionally, we did print 100 copies with a variant cover -- like the Simonson Comic-Con version last year -- featuring a self-portrait of Wood from the classic story My World, and it will be available at the Wonder Con later this week.

imageSpeaking of Wonder Con, aside from the Wood book, we'll also have a limited edition of John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man: Artist's Edition there as well. It will be limited to 250 copies, each signed by John Romita and Stan Lee, and with an original headshot of Spider-Man or another Spidey-related character. These will also be available on our on-line store by the time this posts, and you can reserve a copy for pick up at the show as well.

SPURGEON: Well, if nothing else that kind of satisfies my general curiosity about how the books are doing... I want to ask a couple of questions about the provenance of the Artist's Edition series. You said in an interview with Scoop last year that the germ of what became this series began with you making photocopies of comics and comics art. I have a photocopier and I have some comics art, but I don't make photocopies of comics art. Why were you making these copies, Scott? Come to think of it, do you have a background in original art collection, either with that side of the business or just collecting it yourself? I remember that when I saw you at a WonderCon a couple of years back, you seemed to know all of those guys.

DUNBIER: Before I was an editor I was a dealer of original comic art, and also a collector.

SPURGEON: Right, okay.

DUNBIER: For a short time I was also a member of CFA-APA -- Comics and Fantasy Art Amateur Press Association -- which is a self-published magazine that has something like 50 members at any given time, each one fanatical to some degree about comic book art, comic strip art, paintings, sketches, etc. APA's really are bizarre and crazy things. Each member produces an article on a given theme and prints out a number of copies that are sent to a central editor who then binds all the contributions together and mails them out to each member.

God, I'm getting bored writing this; I hope I don't put all your readers to sleep, Tom.

SPURGEON: This is the only part some people will read.

DUNBIER: The point about the making copies of art: I realized that I would get much better reproduction for my articles, especially for pencil work, if I made them in color. The good part was: they looked fantastic. The bad part was: it was the 1990s. Color copies were expensive, especially if I was doing 50 or 60 sets! [Spurgeon laughs]

Getting back to art dealing, I did that from the early to mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. As an art fan, it was a great way to make a living, but I eventually grew a little tired of it, became complacent, and when an opportunity presented itself -- by my friend Jim Lee -- to leave New York and move to San Diego to work at WildStorm, I decided to try it out. And the rest is history, at least to me.

SPURGEON: How did this specific project develop at IDW? I have only a rough sense of how you guys work, but it seems like the folks on the editor level have some independence in terms of developing projects.

DUNBIER: We totally do. It's really a unique place to work. I've said this a few times before but it's worth repeating: IDW is in many ways like WildStorm was in the old days -- there's the same kind of excitement about something new -- but much more focused. And that's really because of Ted [Adams] and the trust he has for the people who work here.

SPURGEON: How closely do you work with individual collectors on the books? I know you thanked Mike Burkey in the Romita book. Are the individual books dependent at all on unearthing collectors that have the material you need?

DUNBIER: Each book is different. For instance, you mentioned the Romita Spider-Man book. All the art came almost entirely from Burkey, but the Wally Wood work came from a number of sources. The Daredevil: Born Again book is possible because David Mazzucchelli saved most of his art. He actually did sell two issues of Daredevil a few years ago but, amazingly, he made great color scans of the art so we can now have the entire, seven-issue story and see all those gorgeous pages.

SPURGEON: You mentioned photocopying this material in color, and that this is important in terms of what you want to do. Can you tell me why? I'm not visually sophisticated in the way that I'd automatically know. I know that with color you're bound to see some blue lines, but is there another effect you get capturing the pages this way? How big a difference is it?

DUNBIER: It's essential. If you shoot the art in black and white then you will have a nice, clean looking representation of a piece of art. The Russ Cochran EC Library is a good example. Those pages were all shot from the originals in black and white. And, I want to point out, that library is the definitive word on EC comics as far as I'm concerned, but if you compare the stories in the Wally Wood Artist's Edition to the ones in the Cochran books, you'll see a world of difference. By printing the originals in color you are able to see the blue lines, as you mention, but so much more. You actually can achieve a feeling of real depth with these scans. You can see the paste-over corrections or, especially in the case of Wally Wood, all the different kinds of paper he would use: there are actually pages in the Wood book where he uses Duo-shade, Scratchboard, Pebble Board, and even Zip-a-Tone -- all on the same page! You can see the cuts in the EC art board and where Wood laid in these various papers from the back.

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SPURGEON: Something I didn't realize until I saw the staggering dimensions of the Wally Wood book is that you're letting the size of the original dictate the size of the book, or at least I think you are. Was that the idea all along, or was there any thought of going to one specific, oversized dimension on the books?

DUNBIER: Yes, to me an Artist's Edition is the same size as the art. And when I say "art" I'm also talking about the paper it's drawn on, to the edges. Looking at that is part of the fun.

SPURGEON: Is there anything you've been doing where you've been surprised at the dimension in which the artist was working?

DUNBIER: No surprises yet, but I'm sure there will be at some point! One thing that's a funny is I keep hearing the same joke over and over, that people will nail legs on them and have a "coffee table" book.

SPURGEON: The Wally Wood originals I've seen can be so beautiful they're almost daunting; I think I actually lost consciousness staring at a page in San Diego once. You mentioned Wood working in a variety of media... are there challenges in terms of the production process for individual books in the series?

DUNBIER: Yes, there are challenges. I prefer to be able to scan images here in San Diego, to try and keep the images as consistent as possible -- and then we can do color adjustments if any are needed. But sometimes the art is so valuable that the owners don't want to send it to us -- which is completely understandable! In those cases we figure it out as we go.

SPURGEON: Are you still working with Randy on these books? There are so many quality designers right now in comics, but I feel like I should know his work better than I do. Can you talk about a specific contribution he's made to the series?

DUNBIER: Yes, Randy Dahlk is my go-to guy. Luckily, he's not only a wonderful designer but he also loves these books as much as I do. Well, nearly. He won an Eisner award last year for Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer Artist's Edition. Check out his blog to see some of the other books Randy has designed.

imageSPURGEON: I thought doing a Simonson book was really inspired, in that while of course that Thor work is popular, and of course you're hitting that sweet spot for a lot of fans of that stuff who are at the perfect age to buy that kind of presentation of an old favorite, the book itself was really, really interesting -- I thought it flattered that material specifically in a way that was more than making it big, if that makes any sense. Why that book at that point in the series?

DUNBIER: A couple of reasons -- first, I happen to be a huge fan of Walter's work, have been since I read my first chapter of Manhunter when I was a kid. Also, his stuff is so big and bold and beautiful that I feel it benefits greatly from the Artist's Edition treatment. And I wanted to show that books like this could work with a variety of styles.

SPURGEON: What's it like to work with Marvel on a project like that? Are they a good licensing partner?

DUNBIER: Marvel has been fantastic. I wasn't sure we could convince them to let us license this material but when I sent them Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer Artist's Edition they were sold on the concept. After that it was just a matter of settling deal points.

SPURGEON: Can you give me an idea of how well these books have done? I'd prefer sales figures down to the single copy, but I understand if you can't go there. I take it from what you said earlier that the series has done well, though?

DUNBIER: The series has done well; the response has been very positive. As for actual numbers, I'm afraid it's not my place to release them. But they have done well, all but the Romita have sold out, and that one will be out of print soon.

SPURGEON: To follow up on that... a friend of mine and I were in a comics shop when we saw the Simonson book. He saw this massive thing behind the desk and asked me about it. I told him what it was, and he had the owners prepare a little space for him to check it out and he eventually bought it. It struck me while watching my friend basically take the book out for a special test drive that this isn't a typical item for a lot of stores. Do you have any sense how comics shops are doing with these books? Is it something a lot of them are prepared to sell? Do you get feedback from them?

DUNBIER: It depends on the store and how adaptable they are. My local shop here in San Marcos doesn't carry them because his clientele is geared more towards the nuts and bolts monthly periodicals. Chris Butcher at The Beguiling told me he could have sold 20 more copies of the Wood book. Cliff Biggers of Dr. No's sold out of his order very quickly. Most stores I talked to have done well with the books. But it's certainly not for everyone. But I also think it's something that non-comics fans can also appreciate, because at their heart these are art books.

imageSPURGEON: I wanted to ask a few non-Artist's Edition questions. The Rocketeer anthology. What was that experience like? Because it seems like you executed that one in laudable fashion in terms of working with the family and in assembling artists with affection for that material.

DUNBIER: The Rocketeer is a very special series. Dave Stevens' character really resonated with readers; it definitely did with me. I still remember how I felt when I saw that very first Rocketeer ad in the back of the first issue of Starslayer #1: I wanted more! And I don't think my reaction was the exception, but instead, it was the norm. Dave created something extremely rare and wonderful and it just hit people and made them almost giddy when they read it.

Doing the Anthology was a little dangerous, taking a character that was so beloved and doing new stories. Looking back it feels a bit foolhardy. But there were so many creators who wanted to tell a Rocketeer story, who loved the original stories, and who also wanted to take a crack at him themselves. So when the family gave us a thumbs up to move ahead it really wasn't hard to find great people to tell these stories. The reaction was gratifying: we got some nice reviews and did a second printing or two.

The second anthology begins this month and there is a whole new batch of creators telling Rocketeer stories, plus there are gorgeous covers by Darwyn Cooke.

And at WonderCon we will announce a new Rocketeer mini-series that isn't an anthology, but one big story. I wish I could tell you the creative team on it but I think people will be pleased with the gentlemen doing it -- tune in on Friday to find out who it will be!

SPURGEON That response is interesting to me, because while the project seems to have been assembled in a respectful way, it's also something that I have to admit I haven't sought out. I liked the original series very much, but what I liked about it was Dave Stevens, not so much the characters he made -- or at least I don't separate the two. I don't think I'm alone in that. What is about the character that you think stands up to, or even asks for, another round of interpretation? Is it just more Rocketeer, or is there something specific that you think the stories in the anthology and the forthcoming longer story add to that character, add to what Dave created?

DUNBIER: What drew me to that first Rocketeer piece I saw was the combination of Dave Stevens, who I had never heard of before, and this mesmerizing image that felt like it fell out of a time warp -- it was a cross between a classic pulp magazine illustration and an EC comic splash -- I loved it and found it shocking: how could such an incredible artist appear full-blown out of nowhere? How could I have never seen his stuff before? And when I read The Rocketeer -- anxiously waiting for each new chapter to appear -- it was the combination of story, art and character that captured me. Not to mention that Dave was a creator who thrived on collaboration. He wanted to work with other people. Look at the list of artists in the Complete Collection and you'll see what I mean: Arthur Adams, Sandy Plunkett, Michael Kaluta... they and others worked on the series. There was at one time a plan to do a Rocketeer/Superman crossover. Unfortunately it fell through, but Dave was going to do covers and splash pages, and have another artist do the interiors. Given that, I feel pretty sure Dave would have been fine with others working on the Rocketeer.

SPURGEON: I still think of you as a WildStorm guy... now that we've had a little bit of distance since the line's final days, are you satisfied with the way the first draft of history has been written there? Is there something that WildStorm did that you hope it's remembered for that people may not go to first when discussing its legacy?

DUNBIER: I'm very proud of the work WildStorm did, I was lucky to be there. It was a great place to work and there was a lot of positive energy. People wanted to be there.

As for history, I haven't really paid attention to what's been written. I see some things from time to time but haven't really dug into it. Someday, probably after I retire, I'll try to write about it. The one thing I want people to remember about WildStorm is that it was incredibly diverse. We published, off the top of my head: Planetary, The Authority, Danger Girl, Battle Chasers, Crimson, Astro City, Leave it to Chance, Zero Girl, Four Women, Ocean, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea, Top 10, Tom Strong, Tomorrow Stories, Automatic Kafka, Wildcats 3.0, Ex Machina, Sleeper, Point Blank, The Spirit, The Boys, Gen13: Ordinary Heroes and others I'm sure I missed. We also initiated and oversaw the recoloring of Watchmen for the Absolute Edition. That's a lot of stuff! So the WildStorm legacy is diversity, at least to me. And that we put out some really good books.

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SPURGEON: I've enjoyed the Bloom County books you've done. I think an underrated achievement there was just getting Berkeley Breathed to agree to return to that material for archival editions given some of the bruising that seems to have occurred in his comics efforts since. Has that been a rewarding relationship from your end? Is there a specific memory you think you'll take out of those efforts?

DUNBIER: Doing books with Berkeley Breathed has been extremely rewarding to me, I put it right up there with doing stuff with Darwyn and Alan [Moore]. I had thought of doing these collections while I was still at WildStorm and nothing ever happened with them. When I came to IDW, it turns out that Chris Ryall, after a suggestion from our CFO Matt Ruzicka, had contacted Breathed, and Berkeley basically said, "Thanks but no thanks." So I reached out to Berkeley anyway, since if you don't ask the answer is always no, and got him on the phone and just sort of made him agree to let us put out these collections -- he was reluctant at first but I eventually wore him down. He really had no idea that people cared about him or his work. He wasn't fishing for compliments; he really believed no one cared, which I find remarkable.

One of my favorite memories of Berkeley is at Comic-Con in 2010. I had to practically beg him to come, and to do signings -- we actually negotiated how many he would do! Well, of course, he had lines all around our booth every day. He thought no one would show up for his presentation -- it was in one of those gigantic Comic-Con rooms -- and it was standing room only. And he got an Inkpot award and the first Bloom County collection won an Eisner award. I practically had to drag him on stage to accept it with me. I can't tell you how nice that was, because he was so genuinely surprised and happy about the entire experience, the whole tremendous outpouring of emotion and goodwill towards him at Comic-Con. That's a great memory, one of many.

*****

* Wally Wood Artist's Edition, the new edition pre-order
* Wally Wood Artist's Edition, Wonder Con pick-up
* Romita Artist's Edition, limited edition
* Romita Artist's Edition, Wonder Con pick-up
* the IDW shop more generally

*****

* cover to the Wally Wood Artist's Edition WC pick-up
* photo of Dunbier from 2010
* cover to the John Romita Artist's Edition limited edition
* cover to the now sold-out first edition of the Wally Wood book
* image of original art page from the Simonson book, swiped from Chris Ryall's blog (sorry, Chris)
* a cover to one of the Rocketeer anthology comics
* a cover to the first of IDW's Bloom County collections
* interior page from the John Romita Artist's Edition WC pick-up (below)

*****

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posted 12:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 1959 Best Cartoons Of The Year

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posted 12:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the cartoonist Dan Berry is offering for sale his 24-Hour Comic from the Angouleme Festival: Cat Island. You can read the whole thing here.

image* there are new mini-comics for sale in the Oily Boutique, including a series by Max De Rodrigues.

* the Classics Illustrated library has made its way to the Nook reader. Those price points seem sort of high to me, but what the hell do I know? Hell, for years I thought every other issue of Classics Illustrated featured Upton Sinclair's The Jungle when that was really only every fourth issue.

* a promotional quote by a fictional character isn't the weirdest thing you're likely to see as these mega-corporation partnerships move forward.

* the project has a place in this site's "giving" column, but the fact that Ted May and Company have an issue of Injury in the can is publishing news, too.

* there's a new issue of š! on the horizon, which is always good to hear.

* it's only publishing news the way we measure it for one more day, but the Little King book being imminent is a wonderful thing.

* Kevin Huizenga has finished a 60-page comic. That is also a universal positive. Huizenga could do a comic about what a worthless person you are, and you'd still be excited on the day it came out.

* Evan Dorkin talks about his appearances in two forthcoming issues of Dark Horse Presents.

* speaking of Dark Horse, here is some interior art from a forthcoming Baltimore series, the two-issue Baltimore: Dr. Leskovar's Remedy.

* Jaime Hernandez is apparently hard at work on his contribution to this summer's Love & Rockets.

* Graeme McMillan writes about artist changes at a pair of DC Comics comic book series; this is an issue not just for the comic itself, but as part of the attention paid to these kinds of comics right now in general for adhering to a schedule even if it means bringing in talent other than the talent considered the book's primary creators. That's actually a sort of nuanced issue. Of course there's going to be a bit of rough going as the mainstream companies try to keep schedules; they've trained the remaining, hardcore audience not to care about these things, not really, not in a way that penalizes the practice except in a slow bleed of readers over time and occasional instances of strain absorbed by the retailers. I still think that in the long term it behooves them to publish as rationally as possible, and that likely means publishing the vast majority of their periodical comics on a firm, dependable schedule. McMillan also blogs about apparent impending nuptials for Marvel's Northstar character, which sort of breaks with my policy of mentioning things that could be reported in the fictional universe in which they take place, but okay. I just hope no one tells that Hector guy from the swimsuit issue.

* finally, Salgood Sam would like to tell you about Carte Blanche 14, which has things like this panel from a Daniel Ha comic. In fact, it has the rest of the comic, too.

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posted 12:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Big Little Book Cover Gallery

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posted 12:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: The Complete Mervin The Magnificent

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posted 12:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Dagar The Invincible was created by Don Glut and Jesse Santos.

*****

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* The character Matthew Hawk, the Two-Gun Kid, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

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* The character Harold Teen was created by Carl Ed.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I couldn't be happier to hear that Matt Bors won this year's Herblock Prize. He's a very skilled, very serious cartoonist and it's hard to imagine someone out there working right now in a better place for any raise in profile that may come with an award like that one. The Herblock comes with a cash prize. By the way, I think this Bors cartoon on Steve Jobs was an important moment in terms of putting the cartoonist, occasional comics-maker and Cartoon Movement editor out in front of people: it was smart and funny and by far the most memorable cartoon about Jobs' passing.

image* is there anything nicer than jumping on-line and finding an Ivan Brunetti New Yorker cover gallery just waiting for you? I think not.

* not comics: via Brian Moore and the author John Crowley comes this magnificent review of John Carter.

* Greg McElhatton on Hell Yeah #1. Rob Clough on Incredible Change-Bots Two. Philip Shropshire on Spaceman #4. Don MacPherson on various comics. Johanna Draper Carlson on The Lovely, Horrible Stuff and Baby's In Black. Sean Gaffney on One Piece Vol. 61. Paul Rainey on Fantastic Four Adventures Vol. 2 #23-28. Katherine Dacey on Is This A Zombie? Vol. 1.

* not comics: you know, that is an attractive t-shirt.

* so I guess Captain Marvel is coming back. Not the one re-named "Shazam" by DC Comics with the dishtowel on his head, but the one at Marvel that died of cancer back in the '80s in one of those graphic novels that looked like they were all designed to feature cancer-related storylines. I can't imagine this is the first time they've tried to bring him back, but there you go.

* five years in Leavenworth for selling Boob McNutt.

* Tim O'Shea talks to Jamaica Dyer.

* Paul Duffield writes about the pernicious qualities of sexism in an arts industry.

* I don't really understand the point of this interview, since any figures tossed out are supplied in haphazard fashion, in broad terms, and not explained. I guess it's sort of interesting to hear that direct market retailers represented at a recent meeting seem to be solidly behind the $2.99 price point, because it was my impression that more material was potentially going to be priced above that price point. I hope this means that's off the table. My suspicion is that the price point is important and that as many comics need to be priced as cheaply as they possibly can because of the really hard to track effect higher price points have in terms of driving readers from the market once their cumulative purchases are no longer satisfying. I hope that DC continues to see the value in rational pricing, because there's going to be no real backtracking from Marvel. If they gain a market advantage from following a policy that involves the least amount of primary market self-immolation, bully for them.

* I completely whiffed on the existence of Sister when doing Jan Berenstain's obituary. There was a time when I thought I knew everything about comics when I knew only 1/100th of what I know now, and I still learn something new every day.

* Tony Millionaire draws Popeye.

* finally, they need to have Faith Erin Hicks do a Hunger Games graphic novel because a) I'm guessing that in all the universes where a Hunger Games graphic novel is made about 99 percent of them are super-boring, and b) I need something to bring the teenaged children of the friends in whose homes I'm staying at a couple of different points this year. Here's what it would look like.
 
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March 12, 2012


Go, Look: Oddball Basil Wolverton Find

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Not Comics: Pulp Magazine Cover Gallery

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Picture Forming Of Newspapers Handling Doonesbury Abortion Strips

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I don't have a clear picture yet as to how many newspapers are dropping a controversial Doonesbury sequence on Texas abortion law, but Michael Cavna's impeccable coverage named a few in last week and there are others popping up like the Athens Banner-Herald. The Banner-Herald has an interesting reason: they don't want their readers to confuse it with Georgia law under consideration right now. That's novel, although I'm not sure that doesn't have scarier implications for the newspaper's view of its readers than if they were bouncing it for broader reasons.

I'm never quite sure what the reasoning is behind not carrying this kind of material. This isn't a case where Trudeau is suddenly using his platform in an exploitative or unsavory fashion; Garry Trudeau has been Garry Trudeau for decades now. I would think that anyone reading a newspaper in this day and age would be able to process the viewpoint Trudeau expresses; I can't imagine there are even kids that if they can read and understand Doonesbury will be dismayed by Doonesbury. In many ways, the newspapers kind of dancing around the issues or even going full-on substitution suggests that certain topics won't be discussed in certain ways, or that the papers feel they have a certain kind of reader that wants no part of such discussions at all. Neither one of those options is very appealing.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful Russ Manning Tarzan Scans

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Go, Look: A Mick McMahon/John Wagner Short Comic

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Go, Look: More 1957 Esquire Cartoon Album Cartoons

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Three (Or Four) Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The characters Abigail Scrapple and Aubrey Eustace Scrapple were created by Al Capp and Raeburn Van Buren.

*****

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* The character Johnny Quick was created by Mort Weisinger and Chad Grothkopf.

*****

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* The character Katy Keene was created by Bill Woggon.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Charles Brownstein on ten years at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

* Johanna Draper Carlson looks at Archie Sales Figures for 2011. I know how positive a lot of people are about what Archie's been doing, but one thing I think works about their publishing initiatives is that they seem to be focused on achievable gains.

image* I keep meaning to mention this, but Lynda Barry's Tumblr has been full of fun, inspiring mini-reports from the teaching work she's been doing at the University Of Wisconsin.

* Greg McElhatton on Fairest #1. Brian Hibbs on a bunch of different comic books. Todd Klein on Legion Of Super-Heroes #3-4, Legion Of Super-Heroes #5 and Batman: Odyssey #3-4. Matt Seneca on Is That All There Is?. Richard Bruton on Hector Umbra. John Freeman on Superior.

* Gerry Alanguilan shares his rejection letters.

* Paul Gravett talks about a comics course in England as a tipping point.

* Tatsumi on the shelf.

* I'd ask "has it come to this?" but I think we know it ended up there a long, long time ago.

* whenever I see posts like this one about Golden Age comic books, it reminds me of looking at ancient baseball box scores or train timetables. I have no idea what's going on, but I'm intensely fascinated.

* the versatility of the better superhero designs never fails to amaze me.

* Frank Santoro talks to Zack Soto. Michael Armstrong profiles Jim Woodring.

* Jim Rugg pays tribute to the Palmer's Picks column in Wizard magazine, the place he first heard about a lot of indy- and alt-talent that he continues to read today. I imagine that that column played a similar role for a lot of cartoonists around Rugg's age, and I think it was clear even back then that its presence in those pages was a good thing.

* Johanna Draper Carlson recommends two shows I missed.

* finally, Bob Temuka writes on maybe the biggest change in fan culture over the last generation or so: comic book stores as a place to meet like-minded readers; the Internet and its various chat opportunities for same.
 
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March 11, 2012


Go, Read: On The Creation Of Batman

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I've been trying to stay away from linking to scans of clearly copyrighted material but this is too bizarre and given the creators rights discussion raging on right now I hope that's context enough to excuse this link
 
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Go, Read: Drew Friedman on Topps Flip-O-Vision

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OTBP: Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through The Looking Glass

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Go, Read: Feeling Good

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Jonah Hex was created by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga.

*****

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* The character Manowar, The White Streak was created by Carl Burgos.

*****

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* The character Glenn Ganges was created by Kevin Huizenga.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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FFF Results Post #286 -- Future Grand Prix Winners

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics-Makers You'd Like To See Win The Grand Prix At Angouleme In The Next 15 Years." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Joost Swarte (the Netherlands)
2. Chris Ware (USA)
3. David B. (France)
4. Posy Simmonds (UK)
5. Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Japan)

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. Seth (Canada)
2. Alison Bechdel (United States)
3. Jason (Norway)
4. Brian Talbot (United Kingdom)
5. Vittorio Giardino (Italy)

*****

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Rodrigo Baeza

1. Carlos Giménez (Spain)
2. Carlos Nine (Argentina)
3. Ben Katchor (USA)
4. Eddie Campbell (UK)
5. Lorenzo Mattotti (Italy)

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Bryan Talbot (UK)
2. Walt Simonson (USA)
3. Baku Yumemakura (Japan)
4. Naif Al-Mutawa (Kuwait)
5. Serge Le Tendre (France)

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Eddie Campbell (Australia or UK -- I dunno how this works)
2. Jaime Hernandez (USA)
3. Chester Brown (Canada)
4. Taiyo Matsumoto (Japan)
5. Emmanuel Guibert (France)

*****

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Sean T. Collins

1. Alan Moore (U.K.)
2. Gilbert Hernandez (U.S.)
3. Chester Brown (Canada)
4. Moto Hagio (Japan)
5. Jason (Norway)

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Chester Brown (Canada)
2. Lynda Barry (USA)
3. Lat (Malaysia)
4. Alan Moore (UK)
5. Yuichi Yokoyama (Japan)

*****

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Scott Dunbier

1) Darwyn Cooke (Canada)
2) Jason (Norway)
3) Woodrow Phoenix (Great Britain)
4) Bill Watterson (United States)
5) Jordi Bernet (Spain)

*****

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Jeet Heer

1. Chester Brown (Canada)
2. Lynda Barry (United States)
3. Eddie Campbell (Australia)
4. Yuichi Yokoyama (Japan)
5. Jason (Norway/France)

*****

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M. Emery

1. Pat Mills (UK)
2. Stan Sakai (USA)
3. Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Japan)
4. Dave Sim (Canada)
5. Alejandro Jodorowsky (Chile)

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Naoki Urasawa (Japan)
2. Gilbert Hernandez (USA)
3. Chester Brown (Canada)
4. Sergio Aragones (Spain)
5. Alan Moore (UK)

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Jill Thompson (US)
2. Jason (Norway)
3. Monkey Punch (Japan)
4. Chester Brown (Canada)
5. Alex Nino (The Philippines)

*****

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Dan Boyd

1. Taiyo Matsumoto (Japan)
2. Christophe Blain (France)
3. Jason (Norway)
4. Chester Brown (Canada)
5. Vittorio Giardino (Italy)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Jim Woodring (USA)
2. Seth (Canada)
4. Tom Kaczynski (Poland)
3. Igort (Italy)
5. Jason (Norway)

*****

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Fabrice Stroun

1. Riad Sattouf (France)
2. C.F. (USA)
3. Dave Sim (Canada)
4. Atsushi Kaneko (Japan)
5. Kevin O'Neill (England)

*****

topic inspired by this article

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*****
 
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Jean Giraud/Moebius, RIP

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade











Moebius, RIP
 
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March 10, 2012


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 3 to March 9, 2012:

1. Moebius passes away. One of a handful of artists that could seriously argued as the world's greatest living comics-maker while still alive, the legendary cartoonist, illustrator and designer was 73 years old.

2. One of the elder statesmen of staffed editorial cartooning and a regional fixture with decades of work under his belt, Tony Auth is leaving the Philadelphia Inquirer in another round of cutbacks and hope-for-reliefs with that city's newspapers.

3. It's announced that Doonesbury will offer substitute strips for a strong, forthcoming series on abortion issues. Michael Cavna interviews Garry Trudeau.

Winner Of The Week
Jules Feiffer, who deserves all the lifetime achievement awards he may have coming.

Losers Of The Week
Gary McCoy and Mike Lester, makers of exceedingly nasty and highly personalized cartoons about the made-up political issue of the day, mirroring highly criticized sentiments uttered by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

Quote Of The Week
"Little by little the agents have taken over the world. They don't do anything, they don't make anything, they just stand and take their cut." -- one from Moebius.

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today's cover is from the late Moebius

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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The character Mike Blueberry was created by Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean Giraud.

*****

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The character Arzach was created by Moebius.

*****

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The character Major Grubert was created by Moebius.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Doonesbury To Offer Replacements For Abortion-Themed Week

News that Garry Trudeau will be offering replacements for an abortion-themed story in Doonesbury hit wires late today. Since we're in a cultural war frame of mind right now as a people (thanks a lot, Republican primaries + reasonably decent economic news) I think it blew up a little bigger than it maybe would have otherwise. I'm always happy when Trudeau gets attention like this, though.
 
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March 9, 2012


Missed It: Ted May Seeks Support For Injury Comics #4



I should have had this up in the 2 AM column, and I'll make it part of next week's, but I wanted to draw special attention to Ted May's announcement of a campaign on behalf of his Injury Comics #4. I like Ted May, and I like that he's been doing traditional comic books. I also like that his comic is done, so there's no chance we won't see the thing.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Matt Seneca Comix

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BCGF Shifts 2012 Iteration Of Show Into Mid-November

The Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival has announced its 2012 dates; the successful, still-just-starting out show will have its next offering on November 10. This marks a move into November from the early December slot the show settled into during 2010 and 2011. I like that show, and I like a late Fall reason to go to New York. I'm not sure the move has any effect on my desire to go, although I have to admit I liked having a show in December because there was certainly very little else I might have planned for that time of year and I could connect it to other holiday-related travel. Fortunately, at my age, there's very little else I have planned at most times of the year and holiday travel is no longer something I look forward to doing.

I went to the 2011 BCGF and enjoyed it a lot. I hope the space for panels will be larger.
 
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Go, Look: King-Cat Comics And Stories #70

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King-Cat is one of comics' perfect things
 
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Go, Read: "The Kamen Rider Will Live Forever"

I thought fascinating this article about how absolutely jacked up certain parts of Japan still are following last year's tsunami and earthquake crisis. It's almost relentlessly sobering; even the photos don't stop at one photo of scrawled-out messages at the local, now-closed, cartoon museum but like a half-dozen.

That's the comics-related content, by the way, that museum. What I thought noteworthy about that wasn't so much the notion floated that comics characters are paragons of hope -- I would guess some are, while others aren't -- but the way that museum is portrayed as a part of the city's daily life: something for which the city was known, right down to the architecture that called attention to it. Comics live more and more in that nebulous world where they barely exist except as concepts to make money and provide distraction. We're quite capable at this point of having hours of conversation about comics we haven't seen, nor ever will. For example, there's the copy of Action Comics #1 owned by Nicolas Cage that as the fulcrum for an idea -- movie star has his comic book stolen -- is driving an inordinate number of entertainment stories this morning on the announcement of a movie treatment of that incident. That's a happy story, one that barely exists outside of words hanging in space; a big, empty building with people writing on plywood is a sadder, grander thing.
 
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Go, Look: George Perez 1980 Avengers Splash Pages

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Zunar Profile: Civil Trial Resumption Pushed Back To Early April

There's a bit of hard news in this latest, lengthy profile of the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar: his latest civil trial against authorities over their harassment and work-seizures that was set to start again in late February was apparently pushed back to April. The profile is worth reading for the insight into Zunar's career, particularly its stop-and-start qualities. I'm at a bit of a loss when it comes to figuring out the exact nature of its assertion that Zunar is back to cartooning, although I've occasionally seen new material from him at Cartoon Movement.
 
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Go, Look: Wally Wood LP Cover Art

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The Columbus Dispatch Hires Nate Beeler As Cartoonist

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The Columbus Dispatch, a well-established newspaper with a six-figure circulation serving a metro area of about two million, has announced its hire of Nate Beeler to its editorial cartooning position. This is a story in a lot of different ways. It marks a new gig for Beeler, a well-regarded cartoonist ensconced at the Washington Examiner since 2005. Beeler has won the Thomas Nast Award and the Berryman Award in the last half-decade. That the Dispatch is looking to add an editorial cartoonist in the first place is a story, although a slightly melancholy one for being so noticeable in a time where newspapers are shedding cartoonists like they're losing subscribers. Another angle is that Beeler replaces Jeff Stahler, who was suspended and then resigned in December in the middle of plagiarism accusations.
 
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Go, Read: More Translated Bad Dad

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Go, Read: Lewis Trondheim On Fixing The Angouleme Festival

Sarah Glidden has provided a translation of this article by Lewis Trondheim on how to improve the Angouleme Festival. I thought this was compelling because rarely do you get the French-language cartoonists' perspective on what the festival does and doesn't do -- you usually hear from attendees, or press, or folks from the English-language funnybook world that are maybe visiting every few years. There's also stuff in here I hadn't thought of. I sort of liked the fact that a jury of young people selected the prize for the comic aimed at that audience, not stopping to consider the view that this might upset some of the artists who work in that field who would like different standards brought to bear. It's also somehow comforting to hear that some experiences are universal, such as the fact that a big comics show has a hangover effect on getting back to work no matter where it's held.

Heck, if nothing else you get Trondheim's abbreviated list of cartoonists he thought should have won the festival presidency before he did.
 
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Go, Look: Art History Comics

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Your 2012 Glyph Awards Nominees

imageThe Glyph Comics Awards has released its nominees for the 2012 iteration of its program, featuring "comics made by, for, and about people of color" for the year 2011. They are affiliated with the East Coast Black Age Of Comics Convention held in Philadelphia each spring. This year's ceremony is May 18.

Story of the Year

* The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, Brandon Thomas, writer, Lee Ferguson, artist
* On Being Crazy from African-American Classics: Graphic Classics Vol. 22, Tom Pumplun, writer, Kyle Baker, artist
* Princeless, Jeremy Whitley, writer, Mia Goodwin, artist
* Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man Volume 1, Brian Michael Bendis, writer, Sara Pichelli, artist

Best Writer
* Brian Michael Bendis, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man
* Jeff Parker, Thunderbolts
* Brandon Thomas, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury
* Jeremy Whitley, Princeless

Best Artist
* Kyle Baker, On Being Crazy from African-American Classics: Graphic Classics Vol. 22
* Lee Ferguson, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury
* Mia Goodwin, Princeless
* Rob Guillory, Chew
* Sara Pichelli, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

Best Male Character
* Luke Cage, Thunderbolts, Jeff Parker, writer, Declan Shalvey & Kev Walker, artists; created by Archie Goodwin & John Romita Sr.
* Miles Morales, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, Brian Michael Bendis, writer, Sara Pichelli, artist; inspired by the character created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
* Moses, Radio Free Amerika; created by B. Robert Bell, writer and penciller, Robert Jeffrey II, co-writer
* Mister Terrific, Mister Terrific, Eric Wallace, writer, Gianluca Gugliotta & Wayne Faucher, artists; inspired by the character created by Charles Reizenstein and Everett E. Hibbard

Best Female Character
* Adrienne, Princeless; created by Jeremy Whitley, writer, and Mia Goodwin, artist
* Afroella, Afroella, created by Gemma Bedeau, writer, and Lee Fenton Wilkinson, artist
* Miranda Mercury, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury; created by Brandon Thomas, writer, and Lee Ferguson, artist
* Vielle, Fungus Grotto, created by Ms. Shatia Hamilton, story and art

Rising Star Award
* B. Robert Bell & Robert Jeffrey II, Radio Free Amerika
* Ms. Shatia Hamilton, Fungus Grotto
* Whit Taylor, Watermelon

Best Cover
* Chew #27, Rob Guillory, illustrator
* Deadpool Max #7, Kyle Baker, story and art
* Mister Terrific #1, JG Jones, artist, Lovern Kindzierski, colorist
* Princeless #1, Mia Goodwin, illustrator
* Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #4, Kaare Andrews, illustrator

Best Comic Strip or Webcomic
* Fungus Grotto, Ms. Shatia Hamilton, story and art
* Marty's Diner, Dmitri Jackson, story and art
* Café Con Leche, Charlos Gary, story and art

Judges for the 2012 awards are: Omar Bilal, webmaster, BlackSuperhero.com; Robin Brenner, editor-in-chief, NoFlyingNoTights.com; David Brothers, comics blogger, 4thLetter.net; and Tim Callahan, comics blogger, Comic Book Resources. Karen Green was previously announced for the judges panel but has been removed.

The awards were founded in 2005 by Rich Watson, who will retire after this year's awards program.

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If I Were In Chicago, 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 Near This, I'd Be In Attendance

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

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Edison Steelhead was created by Renée French.

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* The character Sir Rodney The Chicken-Hearted was created by Brant Parker and Johnny Hart.

*****

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* The character The Rocketeer was created by Dave Stevens.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Daryl Cagle and Martin Wisse follow up on the McCoy/Lester cartoon story. Alan Gardner follows up on the Tony Auth story and suggests that we may hear about changes in Signe Wilkinson's status, too. If the axe falls on both of them, that's a potential story of the year candidate.

image* Mort Todd remembers John Severin. Ao Meng talks to James Stokoe. Cyriaque Lamar talks to John Jackson Miller. Caitlin McGurk talks to Martin Lund.

* Drawn and Quarterly links up all the blogs related to the creators they publish.

* I'm greatly looking forward to reading this Ryan Holmberg piece given a few moments. They've all been pretty good so far.

* Kenton Smith on kids comics. Fletcher Arnett on JSA: The Unholy Three. Rob Clough on the comics of Dina Kelberman. Andrew Shuping on Korgi Vol. 3. Don MacPherson on Fairest #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on the Hellboy series. Sean Gaffney on Dengeki Daisy Vol. 9.

* not comics: via Sean T. Collins comes this intriguing discussion by film and television guys of the film versions of superheroes. We're about 15 years into the rise of that genre as a recurring thing, and more than three decades into the genre, period, so I think there can be lessons learned and judgments made. I don't like a lot of those movies, and I guess it's sort of interesting to think about why. I like bits and pieces of a lot of them, actually, and many pass the time, but overall it seems like kind of a dud group of films. I think the best superhero fight scene I've seen is that casino fight in Kung Fu Hustle, and I wish more of those movies had thoughtful action scenes wedded to some sort of idea of dramatic stakes like that one does. When those movies tend to fail for me, they usually fall short in basic movie-making ways as opposed to displaying some sort of specific genre malfunction. Like I sort of found that first Iron Man movie hard to enjoy when all those young soldiers died and they never came up again as a plot point. Then again, not really thinking a lot of the stories in relation to others in the medium but sort of enjoying bits and pieces here and there is pretty much the relationship I have with that genre in comics form.

* Steven Brower dislikes the practice of using covers not by Jack Kirby on books about Jack Kirby.

* Don MacPherson walks his readers through various stabs at making Captain Marvel a grimmer, grittier character.

* my name is Andy Capp, and I am a legacy character.

* finally, Johanna Draper Carlson muses on recent news that Marvel won't be doing any more Crossgen titles, at least not in the near future. I always figured that Crossgen was there to provide Marvel more material for the bookstore side of the marketplace, but that Marvel's never figured out how to do that other than through adaptations of huge bookstore-friendly brand names. I could be totally wrong about that, though. I also don't think those concepts were very strong, honestly, and in fact, that Crossgen attempted to midwife a connected universe into existence without the talents of a Jack Kirby or the cream of a few companies' output at their disposal was the weakest part of a never-strong company.
 
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Comics' Giving Heart -- Projects, People In Need Of Funding

image* the prolific cartoonist Keith Knight is looking to raise $40K in support of his first graphic novel effort.

* here's a reminder -- with video -- of efforts on behalf of the flood-stricken Toonseum.

* you know, there's a bunch of kickstarter stuff out there right now. I don't know that I have a refined sense of what's worth supporting and what isn't beyond more charitable projects or projects by artists and companies I know, but I'll try to develop one. For now you can just click on this sentence. The established webcomics people look like they're doing well with these efforts. Only hours left to get on that Diesel Sweeties one.

* the Jim Woodring fundraiser chugs along, now even more safely past the halfway point. I can never tell how much momentum these projects have in the latter stages, but there's plenty of time left on this one. Woodring is one of comics' finest creators.

* Dan Vado's art space facility update is in its final hours, and could use an angel stepping in if that one is going to happen according to the parameters established in the fundraiser.

* the high end options on the Little Heart fundraiser are all still sitting there. If I had the money, I bet the Joseph Remnant page is super-attractive.
 
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March 8, 2012


Gabrielle Bell Announces Lucky Collection The Voyeurs

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I usually hold off on publishing news until Tuesday's publishing news column, but that's a long way off and I wanted to put as many posts on top of that stupidity from the editorial cartoonists as I can. Gabrielle Bell's work has been super-strong the last couple of years, and anything she's doing is worthy of note.
 
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Jules Feiffer To Receive John Fischetti Memorial Award

Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist lets us know that the cartoonist Jules Feiffer is this year's recipient of the John Fischetti Memorial Award, given for lifetime achievement. Mr. Feiffer -- a Pulitzer winner and a recent Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement winner from NCS -- should get every award for which he's eligible. I don't know much about this particular award off the top of my head; it's the one administered out of Chicago, and I think it's given as part of a dinner.
 
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Go, Look: Scans Of Bill Everett's Original Sub-Mariner Origin Story

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Gary McCoy Receives Blowback On Sandra Fluke Cartoon

So apparently the cartoonist Gary McCoy made a cartoon about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student that testified before Congress about birth control, that echoes vilified statements from Rush Limbaugh. McCoy didn't go so far as to call the young woman a slut and demand to see her having sex on videotape; he did employ some stereotypical physical mocking. The cartoon takes off on an aberrant and as far as I can tell -- and I'm sorry if this ruins a part of your day for me to say so or to not say so as strongly as you wish I'd say it -- completely bizarre and removed-from-reality idea of taxpayers paying for people to have sex if insurers provide contraception needs.

To be honest with you, the cartoon actually makes me a tiny bit more sympathetic for the beleaguered radio host, by showing that some of the ideas driving his shameful, hateful performance on the radio the other day have currency with folks that I guess live and function in the real world -- at least McCoy, a respected working cartoonist, and those that have publicly supported the cartoon when it's been posted on some sites and one would guess in some papers. The tenor of the conversation makes me sad, the substance of the conversation makes me sad, the direction of the conversation makes me sad, the savagery of the conversation makes me sad, that this is something anyone would choose to talk about considering all of the pressing issues out there makes me sad. What a terrible, stupid-ass cartoon.

Update: Mike Lester sees Gary McCoy's pandering on this dumbass issue and raises him a racial stereotype. Is it too late to go to every article I've written the last few years about the decline of staffed editorial cartooning positions and add a "hooray"? (thanks -- I guess -- to Kevin J. Maroney)

I'm just fine with letters, but unless we went to high school or I've recently slept in your home, if I have to read it, it gets published with your name on it
 
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Go, Look: Tom And Ed

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Go, Read: Robert Boyd's Tribute To The Late Designer Dale Yarger

imageRobert Boyd has a lovely tribute up to the late designer and art director Dale Yarger at his arts blog. Boyd worked for several comics companies through the 1990s and into the early 2000s; his time at Fantagraphics in the early '90s overlapped with Yarger's reign as that company's primary art director. I liked this graph in particular, about the design choices Yarger made on the Best Comics Of The Decade book series.
"Now all you younger designers might be thinking, big deal? Aside from this being an elegant solution, keep in mind that these covers were done before Quark, before Photoshop, etc. The desktop publishing revolution was just around the corner, but it hadn't hit Fantagraphics yet. So that means that he shot each of those images with a stat camera, cut out the parts he wanted by hand, waxed them (so he could paste them down), and pasted them on a sheet of clear plastic, which he then attached to a lay-out board with a tape 'hinge' and instructions to the printer to print this layer in black at 30%. And that was just one of the many hinged overlays he created for this cover. (The text that reads '1980-1990' for example was not typeset -- Yarger hand-cut those numbers out of a rubylith overlay.)"
Boyd's piece isn't just a tribute to Yarger, it's a reminder of how different comics has become in the past two decades (when I started work at Fantagraphics 17 years ago, I didn't have a computer) and how ingenuity and hard work have always been at a premium.
 
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Go, Look: More Lynd Ward Illustration Work

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Missed It: Lebanese Cartoonist Denies Removing Cartoon

According to a series of reports that first popped up in English at Beirut Spring, the Lebanese cartoonist Pierre Sadek (warning: that link plays synthesizer music) denies have taken down a mid-February cartoon of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah after supporters of that organization complained about it, I believe through Facebook. This report is one of a few to point out that the caricature is fairly benign both according to reasonable standards of just looking at the thing and certainly in the context of other artistic treatments of the public figure. This looks like one of the sites claiming the cartoon was taken down.
 
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OTBP: But I Really Wanted To Be An Anthropologist

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* it's pretty much the pause before the storm that is Wonder Con and the traditional start of the North American con year. With Emerald City coming hot on the heels of that show, we're pretty much at a full gallop by April Fool's Day. I think Wonder Con is an interesting show this year, for the move to Anaheim and for other reasons, and I hope to provide a pretty full preview in this space next week.

* in the meantime, I'm sure there are comics-type things to be found at the Chicago Zine Fest. There a bunch of interesting, growing shows in that part of the country now, and that's a good thing.

* Geek Girl Con has its August dates.

* I think all comics events need barbecues.

* finally, in a month devoted to forging more significant ties between creators and their creations, how can I resist an Image Expo report all about meeting creators?
 
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Go, Look: Ward Sutton's Rejected Family Circus Cartoons

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Don't Forget The Eisners HOF, And Please Consider Bill Blackbeard

You have several days left to vote for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Hall Of Fame for 2012; I hope that you'll exercise the option. If you're unclear whether or not you're eligible, I'd say be up front about your qualifications and let the awards administrators decide. It doesn't take so long to vote that this would be much of a wasted time if you're disqualified from having that vote count.

I'd like to repeat my plea that voters consider Bill Blackbeard for inclusion. I do so knowing that every single one of the nominees would make a fine entry this year. Two reasons why I'm hoping Blackbeard makes it in this year. One, I think he's clearly qualified. The late archivist and historian seems to me the most important figure in his neck of the cartooning world by a wide margin, and a crucial figure generally. He's responsible for more books in the standard bookstore array of comics with a spine than any figure not Jack Kirby. At the same time, I wonder after his chances. I'm afraid his is not a name that will resonate with a wide swathe of voters, particularly with so many cartoonists and artists up for inclusion. An additional thing I find worrisome is I think we're on the cusp of a deluge of late-1970s and early 1980s emergent cartoonists and comics-makers, including several titans of indy comics and the first generation of alt-comics makers. When those folks are added to the nominations list in the next few years, it's going to be hard to get anyone else in for a while. So while every vote is a worthy one, I hope that you'll think about Mr. Blackbeard. Comics wouldn't be what we think of as comics without him.
 
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If I Were Near This, I'd Be In Attendance

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Trashman was created by Spain Rodriguez.

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* The character Howard The Duck was created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik.

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* The character Tippie was created by Edwina Dumm.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Bart Beaty wrote in after his latest column went up to recommend this blog for anyone looking for further conversation about Katz. He would also like to note a correction pertaining to yesterday's review of Katz. Fremok did not sell the book at Angouleme. He regrets this error.

image* go here for a free digital copy of The Bureau Of Drawers Quarterly Anthology.

* missed it: Paul Hornschemeier reminds that later this month he'll be starting that Graphic Novelist Residency with The Columbus Museum of Art and Thurber House. He is their inaugural recipient.

* David Plotz on Elephant And Piggie. Andrew Shuping on Blue Pills. Greg McElhatton on Supurbia #1. Tucker Stone on an avalanche of recent comics. Ng Suat Tong on Princess Knight.

* congratulations to Martin Wisse on ten years of blogging and our continued condolences in negotiating recent life events.

* Chris Butcher shares a draft of his introduction to the forthcoming Little Hearts.

* the Black Bag Mystery... solved!

* I'm giving serious thought to ending this site just so I can spend more time following this one. Okay, not really, but still: bookmark that site.

* via Sean Kleefeld comes not one but two letterheads used by Bob Kane.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco expresses his displeasure over a new costume for a new iteration of the Jay Garrick version of The Flash. It looks like a pretty standard modern costume to me, although I'm glad he notices what I found weird about it, the announcement coming through a depiction of the character running through a gauntlet of rats. That just seems like really weird way to communicate the powerful wish-fulfillment aspect of those characters, like making the wall-sized poster of a quarterback him getting his arm knocked sideways for an interception rather than his standing tall in the pocket.

* Zander Cannon walks us through the creation of a cover.

* this is a funny article, and betting on the thickheadedness of mainstream comics fans is usually gold. That said, I don't see how mainstream comics companies were stuck between a choice of getting comics out on a rational schedule or using a lot of substitute artists, sometimes poorly-selected. I'm kind of with the fans on that one: they pay a premium for those comics, and some sort of rational solution to this seems possible.

* this is indeed very cute.

* Richard Sala's art just gets prettier and prettier.

* finally, I guess I totally missed something called Creator Owned Day. That I believe every day should be Creator Owned Day hopefully partly absolves me of my bad blogging. Here's one article suggesting some creator-owned comics, which is the kind of thing that's interesting because there's a really narrow strip of works with which such articles are concerned.
 
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March 7, 2012


Go, Look: New Jordan Crane Is Always A Welcome Sight

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Conversational Euro-Comics: Bart Beaty On Katz

imageBy Bart Beaty

Though questions of parody and appropriation have a long history in comics, they are remarkably little thought through. Cartoonists at MAD regularly stepped on the toes of other comic book publishers with their satires of Starchie and SuperduperMan with few repercussions, but when the Air Pirates turned their pens towards the Disney empire the situation played out with rooms full of lawyers.

In Paris this week, cartoonists and lawyers were back at it. The subject this time out is Katz, an edition of Art Spiegelman's Maus in which all of the characters -- not just the Nazis -- are depicted with cat's heads. Flammarion, the French publisher of Spiegelman's work, sought an injunction against the small Belgian press Cinquieme Couche, the distributor of the appropriated edition. Cinquieme Couche is not fighting the injunction because of the costs that would be incurred, although they are maintaining their belief that they have the legal right to produce the book in question. The have agreed to destroy all of the remaining copies in their possession.

I was given a copy of Katz at the Angouleme festival, where it debuted as a small part of Spiegelman's presidency. The book was for sale at a number of booths -- I saw it at L'Association, Fremok, Cornelius, Requins Marteaux and Cinquieme Couche -- although it is credited with neither an author nor a publisher. Speaking with one of the people intimately involved in the creation of the book, I was told that it was part of an effort to destabilize existing ideas of authorship in the comics field, with the goal of producing comics that are authorless and which have no publishers. This is an idea that I find appealing on an intellectual level, and I was keen to read the book.

I should probably note that many of the comics that I find most interesting are those that challenge the notion of cultural ownership in various ways. Given the fact that the comic book industry (both in France and, probably even moreso, the United States) is so fundamentally structured by a culture of malfeasance where artistic credits are due, I find efforts to expand the discussion about the circulation of culture imperative. To my mind, some of the most vital comics currently being published (I'm thinking, for example, of the work of Jochen Gerner) are explicitly critiquing the logics of originality and authorial control.

I found Katz, therefore, to be an interesting book. The decision to appropriate the entirety of Spiegelman's work -- every page, every line of dialogue -- seems central to its implicit argument that Maus, as a key text that has shaped comics culture unlike almost any other, is already an object belonging to the community as a whole. It is, this book seems to be saying, a revered work, open to challenges and contestations by others.

Further, I was struck by how closely aligned the work is to much of the existing academic criticism of Maus. By replacing mice and pig heads with those of cats, the anonymous authors of Katz refuse what they see as a fatalism in Spiegelman's work. This point of view was perhaps best expressed by Hillel Halkin, writing in Commentary, who asked of the central visual metaphor in Maus: "Why did the Germans murder the Jews, who did not fight back, while third parties like the Poles let it happen? For the same reason that cats kill mice, who do not attack cats, while pigs do not care about either: because that's the way it is".

I should stress that I do not particularly share Halkin's objection. I think that Spiegelman fruitfully problematizes the potentially essentializing aspect of his representations in the pages of Maus itself. But this is a widely shared criticism of the work and its expression is one that I think should be encouraged. Flammarion's lawyers argue that the appropriation pushes too far and Cinquieme Couche lacks the resources to dispute that charge. Myself, I would argue that it is the very thoroughness of the appropriation that makes it so compelling. Katz challenges us to see one of the most important comics ever produced with new eyes. How is that a bad thing?

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

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

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Go, Read: Drew Friedman On George Wachsteter

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Tony Auth Leaving The Philadelphia Inquirer

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There aren't three other editorial cartoonist staff position changes possible that would be bigger than Tony Auth leaving the Philadelphia Inquirer, the latest in an ongoing, multi-year run of concrete, not-to-be-stepped-away-from changes in that world of cartoon expression. Auth has been at the Inquirer since 1971, and won the Pulitzer in 1976. He is also a past Herblock Prize winner (2005).

The linked-to article suggets that Auth has already found another position, at a web site with a link to public radio. That's good news. I'm still not sure how this isn't best seen as yet another blow to the idea of editorial cartooning staff positions. One take I suppose would be to point out Auth's age (he has to be about 70) and suggest this makes it slightly less shocking than if a younger cartoonist with Auth's weight and pull had been pushed out the door. The article makes clear that this is part of staff-reduction changes at the newspaper, though, so you kind of have to take it in that light. I wish Mr. Auth all future enjoyment and success and I hope there's some attention paid to his significant run with the publication in the weeks ahead in addition to the necessary analysis of what it means in the wider context of what's happening to his profession.
 
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Go, Look: A Philippe Dupuy Mini-Gallery

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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.

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DEC110506 KING CITY TP (MR) $19.99
A collection of Brandon Graham twice-started, once-finished series hits the most pleasure points with the most potential comics readers this week, so it goes right up top. That's a very, very accessible price point for that many pages, too. I enjoyed the series in serial form quite a bit.

imageDEC111077 FRIENDS WITH BOYS GN $15.99This new work from Faith Erin Hicks I'm aware of -- that's an all-time title, for one thing -- but despite knowing there either is or was an on-line iteration out there the first page I read of the collection is the first page I'll read of the collection. I'm looking forward to it. One of the unique joys of reading comics right now is getting to experience fully-formed work in original graphic novel form.

NOV110038 COMPLEAT TERMINAL CITY TP $24.99
OCT110020 HELLBOY TP VOL 12 THE STORM AND THE FURY $19.99
Two mainstream projects on the outer frontier of how "mainstream" is defined in North American comics. The first is a collection of a series now 15 years (!) in the rear-view mirror, with Dean Motter playing lead dog and estimable talents Michael Lark and Mark Chiarello acting as creative support. That's... that's a pretty powerful combination of creators working in that realm of books. The Hellboy is I think the last of the Duncan Fegredo star-turn as artistic point man on those titles, the most consistently strong in all of traditional North American funnybook publishing for several years now.

JAN120265 ANIMAL MAN #7 $2.99
JAN120327 FAIREST #1 (MR) $2.99
MAY110517 MICE TEMPLAR VOL 3 #8 MICHAEL AVON OEMING CVR $3.99
MAY110518 MICE TEMPLAR VOL 3 #8 SANTOS & GANDINI CVR $3.99
JAN120584 FATALE #3 (MR) $3.50
JAN120663 WINTER SOLDIER #3 $2.99
These are the comic-book comics that pop out at me on the list of such books being released today. I enjoy the Ed Brubaker-written comics whenever I see them; I think Brubaker puts a lot of work into the overal presentation/package elements of serial comics as well as being solid writer for that material in general. I don't read the Animal Man and Fairest comics (well, it's probably more accurate to say I don't plan to read the latter, as it's just now out), but I think they fulfill a role in DC's overall approach to that market. I think to make their New 52 initiative work for more than that first few months DC needs to make stars of some of its new writers, and Animal Man along with Batman gives them their best chance to do that. The Fairest title is the latest permutation of the Fables universe (that's the Vertigo fairy tale stuff), which I tend to think of as an underutilized resource for that publisher, period. I've tossed in the Mice Templar comic because I read it and I didn't understand one lick of what I was reading, and I always sort of admire that. As I recall, there was even a full-page glossary of strange terms.

DEC111226 CHI SWEET HOME GN VOL 08 $13.95
There's not a ton of mainstream manga out right now, but I'm due to return to this title to see how it developed. The first volume was heavy on the depiction of experiences that would not be repeatable in later volumes, if that makes any sense, so I have no idea what these later adventures even encompass.

DEC110699 AVENGERS 1959 TP $16.99
I've become a big fiend for Howard Chaykin's work the last few years, and this includes the fascinating place he's carved out for himself at modern Marvel. This is a story of 1950s Marvel characters all doing nasty, Chaykinesque things. At least I hope. I'm probably going to track down the comics at some point rather than buy this trade, but I'd sure pick up the trade.

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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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Not Comics: Beautiful 20th Century Magazine Covers

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Comics' Giving Heart -- Projects, People In Need Of Funding

image* Raighne Hogan's Little Heart project on behalf of marriage equality is moving into the last days of its Kickstarter program and is still a long ways off from meeting its goal. There are a ton of Kickstarter initiatives out there, but this one seems like it has an issues-focus and isn't something that could be funded under too many other existing mechanisms.

* a couple of folks out there have forwarded the following letter that indicates the ToonSeum in Pittsburgh could use a helping hand after suffering a flood.
Dear friends of the ToonSeum,

I am writing to you today in a personal plea. Over the past five years the ToonSeum has had a great many successes with your help and support. We have grown from a tiny space inside of another museum to a unique independent attraction in downtown Pittsburgh's Cultural District. We have brought in some of the top cartoonist in the nation and exhibited over 40 exhibits! This New Year brings exciting new exhibits and opportunities including our newly opened Will Eisner's New York exhibit on loan from Denis Kitchen and our friends at MOCCA. I know as members and fans you will enjoy our summer exhibitions, which include Care Bears 30 Years of Caring, and Pittsburgh is Gotham! We also have a great line up of programming and workshops.

As we enter another phase of our growth we have hit a small setback. Last week during the heavy rains, our warehouse began to leak and flood. While no original artwork was stored at this site we did lose a great number of books, comics, exhibition reproductions and equipment. Much of these items were awaiting transfer to our new ToonSeum library on site. This was a temporary offsite holding storage where we kept books and equipment awaiting cataloging and transfer. We also used this space to store event and workshop supplies and equipment.

The damage and clean up will be extensive. During this time the ToonSeum's day-to-day operations will remain unaffected however the cost of replacing what was lost and the clean up will be difficult.

We are reaching out to you, our fans, for your help.

Your tax-deductible donation will help support the ToonSeum is this tough time. Any amount is deeply appreciated and will help greatly.

There are several ways to give and links are provided below.

You can donate via Razoo at http://toonseum.org/waystogive.html

Paypal to donate@toonseum.org

Or by sending a check to:

The ToonSeum
945 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

On behalf of the ToonSeum, our board, volunteers, staff and myself,

Thank you.

We exist because of fans like you.
A look at the linked-to donation page doesn't provide more information on the flooding, but local media have apparently picked up on the same plea.

* another project that looks like it could use a major angel or two is the SLG attempt to improve its Art Boutiki Gallery.

* to update on a previous item of focus from this column (and individual posts like it), Jim Woodring's request for money to complete his book Fran has moved past the halfway point. Jim Woodring is one of our finest cartoonists.
 
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If I Were Near This, I'd Be In Attendance

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Black Jack (Kuro Hazama) was created by Osamu Tezuka.

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* The character Scratch Fury: Destroyer Of Worlds was created by Scott Kurtz.

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* The character Shang-Chi was created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* inside the home of Chris Ware.

image* Michel Fiffe talks to John Ostrander. George A. Tramountanas talks to Christos Gage. Vaneta Rogers talks to James Robinson.

* more on David Mazzucchelli's disavowment of a new collection of Batman: Year One at Collected Comics Library.

* Graeme McMillan recommends comics to people he meets at dinner parties. I just usually tell people I'm an astronaut. He also writes a bit about photo-reference and the slow gestation period for a collection of Marshal Law.

* so Cheryl Blossom has cancer now.

* not comics: tracking potential box office receipts seems to me like a tedious enterprise, but folks get super-interested in this stuff. I think I'd care more if I gave a crap about the consequences (vastly overpaid executives being shuffled into new jobs; people not being allowed to make more entertainment product) or if the movies cost more to see if they cost more money. That said, I'd write about comics that way if the figures were available.

* Gavin Jasper on a bunch of the DC Comics New 52 funnybooks, six months in. John Kane on same. Ted Brown on Double Jumpers #1. Charles Yoakum on World's End Vol. 1. Don MacPherson on The Shade #5. Sean Gaffney on The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer Vol. 1. Grant Goggans on Strontium Dog: The Project. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Justice League #4. Augie De Blieck on a variety of comics. Chris Sims on a free on-line Avengers/Spider-Man comic book designed to teach kids about banking. David Uzumeri on Animal Man.

* Ken Parille on superhero costumes.

* finally, Steve Ringgenberg pens an obituary for Sheldon Moldoff.
 
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March 6, 2012


Dale Yarger, RIP

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Dale Yarger was the primary art director at Fantagraphics during that company's first big push into doing books, and was also responsible for design on The Comics Journal in the early to mid-1990s. If you remember alt-comics when they looked like this, you knew Yarger's work. I'm grateful to have known and worked with him.
 
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Go, Look: Good. Now We Are Alone.

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Go, Look: An Ernie Bushmiller Gallery

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Go, Read: Jog On Various 1980 Issues Of Metal Hurlant

imageOne of the regular pleasures of the comics Internet is the weekly New Comics Report at TCJ from the critic Joe "Jog" McCulloch. What makes it fun and worth checking out with regularity is that McCulloch frequently uses the platform provided by New Comics Day to write some sort of extremely loose critical piece on top of the "this is coming out right now" stuff.

In the latest, McCulloch engages with a bunch of issues of Metal Hurlant he found bound together (with one missing) during a recent trip to the comics shop -- an experience more generally whose value, admittedly lost on some folks, he describes in funny, insightful shorthand. If you're paying close attention to what's being written on the Internet about comics and by whom -- and why wouldn't you be? -- you might process the piece as the latest by those writers and cartoonists under 35 or so to forge a connection with the strongly-crafted fantasy comics of the 1970s and 1980s, which you might then be able to interpret as something these folks are doing to craft a meaningful comics history for themselves that's more about those comics and cartoonists and less about things like RAW and the undergrounds. Or maybe it's just a piece about a bunch of older comics. Either way, it's fun to read.
 
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Go, Look: An Unpublished Devil Dinosaur Page

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Le Soir: Katz Publisher Agrees To Destroy Remaining Copies

Citing a lack of ability to contest the legal actions taken against it by the French-language publisher of Maus, the makers of Katz, a recent effort where Art Spiegelman's famous comics work was reprinted with cat heads placed over the mice heads, will destroy their remaining copies of the book in an agreement signed in the course of legal proceedings against the new book. Dan Nadel called Katz a lame conceptual prank and lazy here; Spiegelman's publisher contends it was an outright appropriation of the existing work. The courts seems to have largely agreed with them, despite the claims of the accused that there'd be a fight if they could afford one. Eight hundred copies were apparently made; no word on how many are left to be destroyed.
 
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Go, Look: Mike Kaluta Science-Fiction Comics Covers

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this is one of those with a bunch of scattered publishing news, all over the place. So why not start with an "off the beaten path"-style post about a new comic book out there for folks to buy? The above image is the new one from Mardou. Preview here; review here. It looks like a chunk of a much larger project.

* this would be huge: Fantagraphics' Kim Thompson has confessed his company's interest in the Sinner material.

* there's a pretty big mainstream publishing news story that seems to be lurching forward in bits and starts. News that the writer Jonathan Hickman is ending his run with Marvel's Fantastic Four comics would be news in that world by itself. Hickman's run was well-received, and married the kind of big-event focus that Mark Millar brought to the title a while back with a kind of ambitious, science-fiction feel that's marked a lot of the better mainstream comics over the last decade. But if you combine it with word several days ago that Brian Bendis is ending his affiliation with the Avengers titles, it suggests that Marvel is going to move its writing talent to different books -- that seems to me a pretty logical way to leverage the writers they have right now, writers they seem to like very much, in a way that could bring some energy to their titles. Execution will be key, though.

image* buying box sets of mini-comics is a little beyond my personal comics-buying skill-set, but this group of comics includes minis from Charles Burns and Mat Brinkman and is tempting me to try it out.

* Alan Gardner informs us that The Cartoonist Studio is launching an e-publishing initiative.

* Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover are apparently working on something superhero-related.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco describes a new version of an iconic DC Comics character, as the mainstream comics companies looks to make publishing hay out of all its properties. As much as I think a goofy version of a character traditionally suited for another take indicates that it's the market that's broken, not the character, I do appreciate that DC finds value in getting all of their big names out there in the comics publishing realm as opposed to their sitting on one or two of them. Although man is that take goofy. It's almost impossible to parody.

* say it ain't so, Joe.

* there were a bunch of individual forthcoming project posts in the last several days. To group a bunch of them together: new series from Vertigo, a Daniel Johnston (!) book at BOOM!, Koyama Press backs a fourth issue of Wowee Zonk, a David Lloyd crime book goes to the iPad.

* Britt Wilson has finished her book.

* I guess it's sort of interesting that a character from the Walking Dead TV show may find their way into the Walking Dead comic book.

* this post was apparently the first official advance publicity on Chris Ware's big Fall release.

image* I'm not all the way certain of the exact nature of this apparent alt-comics (European version) team-up, but that's a pretty cover and those are formidable names.

* not comics: did you know you can buy Alan Moore-related stuff to support Occupy London? I did not.

* here's a follow-up story on some reasonably significant comic strip-related publishing news from recent days: Corey Pandolph ending the Elderberries strip started by the late Phil Frank and the very much still living Joe Troise. It's a good story, being from Frank's old stomping grounds the San Francisco Chronicle.

* comics projects by pairs of otherwise unrelated cartoonists: Matt Kindt and Gilbert Hernandez at Dark Horse; Bernie Wrightson and John Byrne at IDW. (The Wrightson is in collaboration with the popular writer Steve Niles.)

* a couple of potentially key digital comics-related news announcements this week: Dark Horse expands its device footprint; Marvel is going to make what sounds like a digital comics announcement at the forthcoming SXSW. The Dark Horse PR is important to note because hitting all the devices seems like it's going to be an inevitability for all of these companies, so the sooner that happens it seems to me the better; the Marvel announcement sure sounds to me like it could be a digital-first content initiative, but I could be totally wrong about that.

* it's not comics, but it's a pretty good cartooning gig: Slate is doing a monthly book feature that will spotlight one cartoonist's art in relation to the featured material.

* Blaise Larmee has a bunch of new stuff up at his shop. Well, it was new when I got the e-mail about it, anyway.

* additions at the AdHouse and Domino Books distribution end of things.

* finally, a publishing process post on the next Brecht Evens book.

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If I Were Near This, I'd Be In Attendance

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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The character Jackeen J. O'Malley was created by Crockett Johnson.

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The character Karkas was created by Jack Kirby.

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The character The Human Torch was created by Carl Burgos.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the very excellent cartoonist David Mazzucchelli has strongly disavowed a sloppily-produced version of his foundational superhero work Batman: Year One.

image* I think I've done formal art posts out of Jack Davis' Abraham Lincoln illustrations four or five times during the lifetime of CR, so I'll just make note here of a new posting of those images. Seriously, there's no better way to spend a coffee break.

* Andy Yates talks to Lisa Hanawalt. Thomas Dimopoulos profiles David Greenberger. Jeffrey Renaud talks to Jeff Lemire. Tim O'Shea talks to Karl Kesel.

* R. Stevens can do anything.

* it totally escaped my attention that MAD has been running original satirical content through their blog. That seems like it should be a big deal. Has that been a big deal? Am I just old enough to be a little cowed by MAD and no one else really is anymore?

* not comics: Lauren Weinstein writes out her entire belief system. Mine involves tamales.

* Daisy Rockwell on Habibi. Bob Temuka on DMZ. Greg McElhatton on The Silence Of Our Friends. Erica Friedman on a bunch of different comics. Brian Cronin remembers Sheldon Moldoff. Karen Sandstrom on My Friend Dahmer. Todd Klein on Green Lantern Corps #4-5. Ryan K. Lindsay on Scalped #56.

* some days Mike Sterling finds things just for me.

* the Billy Ireland Library blog looks to be celebrating Will Eisner week with a bunch of posts.

* TCJ has transcribed the public panel I was lucky enough to moderate with Brian Ralph and CF at last year's BCGF. That was a fun panel. I was still in pretty rough shape when I attended that show, to the point where my friend Gil Roth squired me to dinner before the panel because I looked like I was about to pass out. I don't remember much of the panel itself except that Brian was as great as he usually is and CF, whom I don't know, was articulate and impassioned as well. So I'm looking forward to reading the transcript later on today.

* go see Nate Powell.

* the CBLDF is running the content of a letter sent to eBay and Paypal about a new policy concerning the sale of erotic work. That seems slightly terrifying to me, because it seems like there are a few companies that are really, really dominant in certain aspects of the digital marketplace, and I'm not sure how you get around their making policies that vastly restrict the ability of certain voices to be heard.

* finally, can you help Sean Kleefeld solve this mystery?
 
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March 5, 2012


Go, Look: Giant Peter Arno Gallery

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

This is pretty straight-forward today, but also fairly major. Four men will be tried in Denmark with crimes related to a terror plot to shoot up the offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. It's that newspaper that published the caricatures of Muhammed that drove the original Danish Cartoons Controversy more than a half-decade ago now. This is a different group than those charged with similar crimes in Norway recently -- they were three Swedes (of an arrested four) living in Denmark, and conspirator based in Sweden. This marks the first time this kind of internationalist conspiracy to do harm has been tried in Denmark itself.
 
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Go, Look: Even More Esquire Cartoons

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Go, Look: Early Harvey Kurtzman Comics Work

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Go, Look: Ric Estrada Romance Work

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German Police Union Cartoons Slammed With Racism Charges

This is one of those stories that's difficult to follow for mostly not being reported in a language with which I'm familiar (I can feign competency with English, and that's about it). It looks like a calendar sponsored by the police union in the German state of Bavaria (the southeast state in the country; biggest city Munich) has been removed, defended and generally discussed depending on the circumstance and report, but generally following criticism of the racial caricature and wordplay depending on the otherness of those depicted. This includes caricatures of black people generally and Arabic people more specifically. This has now led to the standard fallout one can imagine will accrue to such an item, which in this case has included charges of another police calendar from another union in Germany, equally racially charged.

If I'm reading the stories correctly, while one police chief ordered the originally indicted calendar removed from police station walls, other police officials including those more directly responsible for the material being published have defended it. This is what seems to have led to some pointing out that other police union calendars/cartoons have been equally deplorable, including that second calendar now driving coverage. Links to what looks like past, racially-charged work by the cartoonist in question can be found here, here and here. While the cartoonist's web site is now down, a key official has apparently denied that this purported other calendar was ever published, asserting that the cartoons in question were rejected for publication. So it's clear there's still some sorting out to do.

You can see a slideshow of some of the cartoons here here, which includes some humor that some feel is just more generally tasteless whether or not it has a racial component.

Footnote: As is always the case with political stories, I'm happy to run any even vaguely responsible letter. I'm not going to engage with e-mail seeking to form or alter coverage or vent in my direction (or even correct factual errors) without being published -- so everything barring irresponsibly provocative responses will be published with your name on it and linked to from this article.
 
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If I Were Near This, I'd Be In Attendance

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Velia Rossi was created by Rina Piccolo.

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* The character Stu was created by Dan Wright.

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*The character Captain Easy was created by Roy Crane.

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This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Neil Gaiman is to receive approximately $400K from an escrow account established by Todd McFarlane.

image* Michael Dooley talks to J. David Spurlock about Wally Wood. Spurlock was recently named director of the late artist's estate.

* Graeme McMillan declares 2012 a possible Year Of Image Comics. There's probably something to that, although McMillan's analysis doesn't touch on any of the structural issues that I think may be involved. In short, I really don't think Image gets Ed Brubaker and Grant Morrison to do comics for them if those creators didn't feel that Image was the right place for those individual comics to do well in both series and trade form.

* Frank Santoro shows off some of the comic books he collected on a recent road trip.

* missed it: a short tribute to John Severin over at Ain't It Cool News.

* Gary Tyrrell continues to track Rich Burlew's massively successful Kickstarter campaign, looking at Burlew's release of how much the overall total was hit by dropped pledges (not a lot at all) and how much it has to pay out in fees (a tiny bit more than they thought).

* David Brothers on Spider-Man: Reign. Greg McElhatton on Glory #23. Don MacPherson on Friends With Boys. Johanna Draper Carlson on Usagi Yojimbo #144. Nina Stone on Galactus: The Origin. Rob Wells on Area 10. J. Caleb Mozzocco on some picture books. Ryan Lindsay on Usagi Yojimbo #144. Rob Clough on African-American Classics. Greg Burgas on On The Odd Hours. Todd Klein on Yesterday's Tomorrows. Richard Bruton on Tortured Life #1.

* I greatly appreciate this response to yesterday's Charles Hatfield interview.

* Kiel Phegley talks to Axel Alonso and Matt Fraction.

* hey, it's a new Magic Pen page.

* the artist Ralph McQuarrie has apparently passed away. There was a time when looking at the way an artist drew stuff that related to your favorite film or book (like the yearly Tolkien calendar) was maybe the best thing that you could do in relation to something you liked until there was a sequel in theaters or bookstores or the film showed up on network television. In the case of Star Wars, there was a huge gap between the material out there through which one could extend one's interest and the fervent desire for fans to live in that universe a while longer, so staring at McQuarrie's art was a big, big deal. At least it was in our house.

* Tim Kreider draws Nichelle Nichols.

* Faith Erin Hicks reviews Alien in comics form.

* Paul Gravett has posted a succinct and fact-stuffed review of this year's Angouleme Festival, including the pertinent fact about the French-language comics industry that more than 100 books a week are being published (on average) while sales are not growing to match the increase in books being sold (although they're weathering declines better than other sectors). I can't imagine what it must be like to publish a book when there could be 100 or so other books out in a week; the American market is way overcrowded for the number of people it serves, but there's some stratification in the books being offered that I don't think is necessarily reflected in what comes out in that key European market.

* I'm always thankful for more translated Guy Delisle shorts.

* finally, this is very funny.
 
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Comics' Giving Heart -- Projects, People In Need Of Funding

image* indie comics veteran Batton Lash has launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of the next Supernatural Law trade: The Monsters Meet On Court Street. Batton is one of my favorite people in comics and a total ink warrior with years and years and pages and pages of comics to his name.

* it looks like Koren Shadmi's The Abaddon is about halfway through its allotted time on the active Kickstarter campaign and a little more than halfway in reaching its funding goals. I thought In The Flesh was interesting enough I'd like to see more.

* Jim Woodring's fundraising project on behalf of his forthcoming Fran looks like it's off to a good start with 58 days remaining. Woodring is one of the great living cartoonists.


 
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March 4, 2012


CR Sunday Interview: Charles Hatfield

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imageI've known Charles Hatfield since he was one of the go-to writers at The Comics Journal in the mid- to late-1990s. He has since become one of my windows into the world of academic writing about comics, although I'll take his views any place and in any context I can access them. Hatfield's second major book-length work on the medium -- after 2005's Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature -- has just dropped. Hand Of Fire: The Comics Art Of Jack Kirby presents the California State University (Northridge) professor's body of thinking on the seminal comics figure. I had a blast reading it, and it's hard for me to comprehend how much fun it would be to take a course with this work as the core of its required reading. As has always been the case with my enjoyment of Hatfield's writing, it's the side arguments and component theories that are for me as much fun as any overarching conclusion. I believe that particular focus for my enthusiasm is reflected in the following interview, which at times becomes a series of "And what about this? And what about that?" questions. I am grateful Hatfield took the time to indulge me, and I'm pleased this work is out there. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: You mentioned in your introduction some of your history with reading Jack Kirby comics, and that this stretches back to childhood. How much of your childhood perspective on Kirby do you maintain in your current way of looking at the artist, do you think? Do you think it helps or hurts to have read Kirby then in terms of the kind of analysis you want to bring to him now?

CHARLES HATFIELD: I like to describe Hand of Fire as a tug o'war between the ten-year-old me and the older, professorial me. But I don't suppose it's a tug o'war so much as an overlaying of one on top of the other. The ten-year-old me is still at work in there somewhere, whispering or nudging or just making trouble. Or perhaps just supplying the initial oomph, the enthusiasm that gets me going and propels the whole thing.

I had worried that working on Hand of Fire for so long -- six years, at least -- would suck the air, the joy, out of reading Kirby for me, but thankfully that hasn't happened. My guess is that a childhood perspective is part of, though not necessarily the biggest part of, what motivates my work on Kirby and keeps me going. There's also the buzz of new discovery, or rediscovery, to fuel the work.

As I say at the front of the book, I couldn't have done what I do in Hand of Fire as a child, or even half a lifetime ago as a young adult. I don't think I could have done it as well even as recently as, say, 2000 to 2005, the period when I finished my PhD thesis and turned it, very gradually, into what became my first book, Alternative Comics. I couldn't have pulled off Hand of Fire then. The childhood perspective needed to steep a while, and various adult perspectives I had learned in the meantime had to be adjusted, challenged, or unlearned in order for me to move forward.

Until I started writing for The Jack Kirby Collector back in the '90s, I had put a lot of time and distance between me and my ten-year-old, Kirby-mad self. I got trained as a traditional sort of literature scholar. Pretty well trained, I'd say. In fact the path I took to studying comics academically was roundabout, and crazy: I didn't do any dedicated coursework on comics anywhere, nor in cultural studies per se, and the comics were something apart from my schoolwork: my escape valve, I guess.

When I did my MA and PhD, my coursework and official interests were mostly in traditional literature, that and composition studies, the latter because I was learning to teach writing. Of course I got some literary, rhetorical, and cultural theory in the process. But the courses I was taking were solidly in fields that were already known to be important, in the English department sense of things. Already consecrated. So my way into comics studies at the PhD stage was about belatedly taking my extracurricular, unofficial passion and insisting that I get official credit for it.

Some of what I learned during all those years may have gotten in the way of Kirby, but some of it helped me see Kirby in new ways (ahem, cue the long excursus on semiotics in Chapter One!). As I said, learning and unlearning. The main thing was to unlearn some of the suspicion of childhood pleasure I had learned in the meantime. Thierry Groensteen, in one of his essays, says we comics scholars might as well admit that many of us are just reaching out to our childhood selves. I see that: I'm reaching back across that gulf, though now equipped with a different sort of knowledge. As someone who teaches and takes an interest in children's reading and culture, I don't feel any hesitation about claiming that!

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SPURGEON: We're approximately the same age. Something I always find interesting about those that came to Kirby in the '70s is the strange reputation he enjoyed at the time. All the kids I knew that read comics -- not that there were a lot, mind you -- loved the Kirby reprints and maybe enjoyed some of the New Gods stuff when we were younger. Yet as we became little 10-14 year old sophisticates, we really didn't like Kirby's newer stuff all that much, finding it silly and even crude in that surface manner of 1970s comics. We love that stuff now; we didn't then. Did you struggle at all with how you processed Kirby as you got a little older? Why do you think there was a backlash against what Kirby was doing in that era?

HATFIELD: The backlash question comes to a point in the last chapter of my book, where I focus on The Eternals but also take in the rest of Kirby's mid-'70s Marvel run, which the most vocal fans of the time -- the letterhacks -- seemed to regard as a pure embarrassment, a disaster. I never got that, as a kid. I admit, though, that my interest in all comic books petered out in late 1977, so that I missed the last several months of Kirby's output there, the first time around (no Devil Dinosaurs for me as a kid).

I really liked the early Eternals, and got a kick out of Kirby's Black Panther, too, for a while. I followed his Captain America And The Falcon run, though that's one I decided to part with as I got older (not The Eternals -- I kept those!). I remember that 2001, the monthly, was the one book that bugged me as a kid, and I can remember why: it had no ongoing story, no continuity, and didn't explain the fundamentally mysterious stuff going on in 2001. Of course it didn't! Naturally, what bugged me then thrills me now. (Think about it: in Kirby's 2001 you usually get a mix of Kirby primitivism and Kirby futurism in one crazed story. What's not to like?)

I had an odd window onto Kirby, as a kid with no reliable access to comics that were more than a few months old. Two years ago was distant history, to me, not because I lacked interest but because the work was out of my reach. My exposure to the Fourth World was limited to the wan DC revivals of the late mid-'70s, that and the first issues of New Gods and Mister Miracle, for which I paid the, to me, unbelievable sums of $3.50 and $3.00 respectively (this was in 1977). But Kamandi and The Eternals were the cat's meow for me, and I also dug into OMAC and most of the other Kirby of the time. Being distanced from organized fandom, and being just ten years old, probably spared me that too-sophisticated attitude of the dedicated letterhacks back then, an attitude that mystified me: Why didn't they like this stuff? I admit, I had enough of a fannish attitude to pine for the continuity missing in 2001, but I didn't have a reverence for Steve Englehart or Don McGregor, etc.

As I say in my book, there was a fan culture in place by the early '70s that looked upon Marvel's continuity, and also its efforts toward obvious social relevance, as the destiny of comics. Kirby, while full of ideas -- in hindsight, some pretty disturbing, provocative ideas -- didn't fit in with that. Congenitally restless is how I describe him. I don't think he wanted to be the conservator in a museum already filled with a lot of his creations. And, in a way, his approach was less cozy, less ingratiating, than the Bullpen Bulletins POV. He was wild.

Jonathan Lethem has an autobiographical essay about collecting and defending, but not really liking, '70s Kirby. He says that Kirby hit the stage of "great/awful" during that period. I disagree (I'd say maybe that came a bit later, though I have a soft spot for almost all Kirby). What's clear is that Kirby went spinning off in his own wild orbit.

It helps to remember that most of Kirby's comics, though not at all condescending, were basically children's comics. They had a kind of undiluted graphic and symbolic intensity. Whereas most -- not all, but most -- of the Marvel comics then had an air of restive adolescence. Bradford Wright has a good essay on the culture of malaise and self-interrogation that blanketed comics in the mid-'70s, a kind of entropic and self-regarding period that Kirby, I have to believe, couldn't have had much patience with.

imageSPURGEON: More generally, is there a period of Kirby or a sustained part of his output for which you don't have a particular passion? Is there a period of his career output that may be possibly overlooked even today?

HATFIELD: I've been working my way back into what I call post-semi-retirement Kirby, that is, the direct market era stuff: Pacific, Eclipse. The 1980s. It can be rough going. It's hard, because that stuff is pure, undiluted Kirby -- heady, hell-bent stuff, so I want to like it -- but it's also ungainly, like a caricature of the prime '70s work. Of course a lot of Kirby fans don't think so, and so maybe they'll howl at those parts of the book where I dismiss that period. Sure, I get a kick out of those comics -- I lost anything like objectivity a long time ago -- but it does seem clear to me that Kirby's powers were failing then, and that he wasn't well served editorially by the environment he was in, though surely he felt much freer. I think the years over the drawing board wrung a lot out of Kirby: when his work started to fall off, he fell hard, and the results could be pretty distressing -- though even a patchy work like The Hunger Dogs, which has some really awkward narrative lurches in it, also has stuff in it that speaks to me, stuff that's poignant.

As far as overlooked stuff goes, I think the new Titan Simon & Kirby reprint project may help show just how good Kirby's late '40s to early '50s work could be. The level of craft and the inky atmosphere of some of those comics bowl me over. A whole run of Black Magic in tip-top shape, or a nicely restored volume, would be great. On the occasions when the S&K workload allowed, or required, Kirby to wholly pencil and ink a story himself -- there's gold there. Whatever the genre.

I'm just now digging into Michel Gagné's collection of S&K's Young Romance. It's lovely to have that. Although Simon & Kirby tends not to be my home base -- as a reader, I prefer the "unleashed," mythopoeic Kirby of the '60s-'70s -- the most "overlooked" stuff, I think, comes from the S&K shop era.

SPURGEON: A couple of questions about the book project itself. Where do you think this book fits in in terms of existing works or even the broader thinking about Kirby. What was it that you felt you brought to the table that hasn't been put out there about Kirby as of yet?

HATFIELD: I like to boast that Hand of Fire is the first academic monograph on Kirby in English (the first, period, as far as I know, is Harry Morgan and Manuel Hirtz's Les apocalypses de Jack Kirby, from 2009). True enough, but that doesn't really explain what the book is up to.

There are three key things going on in it. Two are new to the Kirby discussion, I believe. The first of these is an emphasis on Kirby's process of drawing as fundamentally narrative drawing, that is, as generative rather than merely illustrative. I try to get a new handle on that issue, examining the process of cartooning and what it means to "write," i.e. compose, through drawing. This has implications for many cartoonists besides Kirby, in fact for cartooning in general. The axial idea in the book is: cartooning equals narrative drawing, and narrative drawing has its own pressures, its own rules. This crystallized for me some time after I had started the book, when a brief coda in Groensteen's The System of Comics touched off a spark and I starting thinking more and more about drawing. It's not just the craft of Kirby's drawing, but its relationship to storytelling -- as impetus, goad, inspiration -- that fascinates me. I wanted to write a book that paid respect to cartooning, rather than tiptoeing around that word.

The second is also new to the discussion, or at least newly articulated. That's my emphasis on Kirby's technological sublime, his habit of using technological metaphors -- that awestruck SF mode he internalized as a kid -- to depict what he called "the maximum state," that is, extreme states, extreme conditions: transformation, transfiguration, epiphany, apocalypse, self-annihilation, rebirth. Kirby is constantly gesturing toward the ineffable, toward the place where rationalism fails, where words are rendered pitiful, halting, inadequate, where all of us re-experience the young child's sense of being overawed, and stunned, by the grandeur and terror of the universe. He clearly loved, though I think also feared, technology's capacity to unlock experiences the likes of which we've never had before. Essentially, he used SF to channel a spiritual feeling, one in which sublime fear renders us slack-jawed, overborne. I see a lot of this in Kirby, this tendency for the story and art to strive together toward the inexpressible.

The third thing is a more comprehensive examination of what is, for devoted fans, familiar ground: Kirby's key contribution to Marvel Comics, and the controversies that surround that; Kirby's revitalizing of the superhero, which to me is as much a re-creation, a complete redefining, as a revitalizing; overall, what Kirby did for and to the comic book field. Along the way, I get into some issues that I believe will resonate beyond the study of Kirby himself. For instance, several chapters wrestle with the practice of continuity in comic books, and Chapter Three offers a capsule history of the whole superhero genre, as compressed as I can make it.

SPURGEON: My second question... you're an academic. I know why writers-about-comics do books about people like Jack Kirby, but how does creating a book like this one fit into your wider career responsibilities. Is it advantageous to you to have a book like this to your name? Are you expected to publish?

HATFIELD: Heh. The easiest thing to say would be that Hand of Fire is a post-tenure book.

Seriously, I felt freer with this book than with any other big project I've done. Perhaps more deeply obligated too, more anxious about screwing up, because the subject matter means so much to me personally -- but also freer. Freer rhetorically, freer with style, freer to "season to taste." I enjoy the prose in it more than the prose in Alternative Comics, which now, at times, seems stiff by comparison. Of course I also felt freer conceptually, or else the writing never would have limbered up.

I think getting to this point was, again, a matter of unlearning certain careerist anxieties: about status, security, perceived seriousness, etc. Perhaps I could have written Hand of Fire, or something like it, years ago; I doubt it would have caused me any troubles, career-wise. Where I work, people are good to me. But I wouldn't have believed it possible back then. What I didn't have then that I've had in the last few years is a mind unburdened by the need to prove myself for tenure. That doesn't mean completely unburdened, mind you, but the yoke feels lighter now.

Certainly I'm expected to write and publish. Goes with the gig, and it's something I like to do. Exactly what and how much you're supposed to publish, and how freely you can do it, are questions that are answered differently at different universities. In my case, I've been lucky to have an unblocked path, research-wise, and no sense of being trammeled by old, out of date expectations. Seriously, I can't believe how fast and freely the comics studies work has been coming this past decade. It's exploding.

I do a fair amount of writing that doesn't qualify as "academic" in the strict sense, including trade stuff, blogging, all that. I consider that part of my profile as a public intellectual. Hand of Fire of course was born out of writing like that, but it's been ratcheted up several notches, and held to a different standard of evidence and rigor, because it's a university press monograph, a full-on academic text. But the line between that which I write for pleasure and that which clearly fulfills career responsibilities can be pretty porous: I'm now collaborating with Craig Fischer on an academic book about Eddie Campbell, and that came about through blogging.

You asked if it's advantageous to do work like this. It can be. But the biggest advantage for me is that it keeps me learning. I heard someone say at a conference once that we professors are lucky to have a job that allows us to spend part of time working on "problems of our own devising." I like that. I agree with that. If it was comics that kept me in academia -- and I think that's true -- then, conversely, academic work keeps me coming back to comics, from new angles, and has probably kept me a fan. I like framing and then working on research "problems."

imageSPURGEON: What did you bring to this project that you learned while doing Alternative Comics? How do you look back on that experience more generally?

HATFIELD: Alternative Comics was a springboard for me, in a double sense. It was a springboard into working as a professor for a living, since the book began as my PhD thesis (2000), which enabled me to finish grad school. Of course finishing the thesis didn't guarantee anything beyond the "PhD" I could put after my name. I had to take part-time work, apply for jobs, interview, and then, at last, get a job, move cross-country with my family, start a new life in essence, and work like mad between 2000 and 2005. That's when my thesis, drastically transformed, finally hit the book market as Alternative Comics. Writing the thesis was prerequisite to that, as opposed to a guarantee of work or security.

Essentially, Alternative Comics is a radical adaptation of the thesis. During the run-up to its publication, 2000-2005, I was starting to bridle at the terms of the literary approval that I had sought in the thesis. I started trying to bring my academic field, literature, toward comics, in all their messiness and craziness, their historical complexity, their lovely, irreducible populist weirdness, rather than other way around, bringing comics toward conventional literariness. I was starting to build a more confident case for studying comics academically on comics' terms. This required discarding a bit of the thesis, and vaulting over some of the worries I had inevitably had when I was a grad student. So, the final revisions were liberating. Some of the stuff that ended up in the introduction and conclusion to Alternative Comics -- stuff that wasn't in the thesis -- ended up stoking the fires for the Kirby book.

I had learned a lot from doing the thesis -- from finally completing a big project. Not least, I'd learned something about my own habits as a writer, and how to exploit, or evade, those habits as needed. Also, I'd worked up a formal vocabulary for writing about comics (with the help of so many other sources: [Scott] McCloud, [Will] Eisner, etc.). And I had learned to enrich and complement the nuts 'n' bolts formalist stuff, which I already loved, with more context: economics, history, ideological concerns, ideas about comics reading as a social practice, etc. The tough stuff. That was key. I was, and am, proud of the way Alternative Comics puts all those things together.

So I'd come a pretty long way from my original thesis proposal of the mid-'90s, which I had titled "The Rise of the Graphic Novel" (groan). That was my version of "The Comics Grow Up," I guess, a theme that just reeks of status anxiety. Between filing the thesis in 2000 and at last releasing the revised book in 2005, I earned my way out of that anxiety.

Still, it hadn't occurred to me that doing a monograph on Kirby could be my Next Big Thing. It didn't occur to me until my publisher, Mississippi, announced a new monograph series, "Great Comics Artists," founded by Tom Inge. I was at a conference (was it as long ago as 2003?) with my good friend and grad school crony Gene Kannenberg not long after that series was announced, when Gene leaned over and said to me, basically, "If you don't submit a book on Kirby to this series, you're nuts." Bingo! Cue the cartoon light bulb over my head. Why hadn't I thought of that before?

I think I had to get Alternative Comics out of my system before I could seriously think about it. But I did. By then I had all the formalist and sociocultural background I needed to get started, thanks to AC. So the first book was a springboard in that sense too: demanding enough to prep me for what came next.

Doing Kirby turned out to be different enough from AC that it felt like a bit of personal reinvention -- as I said, there was some unlearning as well as learning going on. So I had a sit-down with the ten-year-old me, and started delving into Kirby yet again. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

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SPURGEON: I think this was more of a throwaway line than anything you go into in great detail, but you claim at one point that Kirby's development of the superhero team was directly related to his kids gang comics. Can you talk a bit more about that? What makes the team books specifically tied to that genre as opposed to drawing more generally from ensemble works in a variety of genres and media?

HATFIELD: When I think of Kirby's team books, I think of two kinds of teams, both familiar from bygone pop culture: the kid gangs, of course, and the old war movies, with their reliably multicultural casts of GIs, all pitching together, all fighting and suffering and revealing their characters together. These formulas are similar. Kirby's kid gangs always consisted of a handful of contrasting, symbolically loaded personalities: Big Words, Scrapper, the usual mix of unlike types. From Big Words and Scrapper to Reed Richards and Ben Grimm isn't that big a leap.

Of course that contrastive approach is a tried and true way of striking sparks in a team format. You can see it all over popular serial storytelling. Call it the "mixed nuts" approach to story generation. But for Kirby the kid gang was the template closest to hand, the ensemble formula he knew best.

You can see the Challengers of the Unknown as a riff on this, too: Rocky versus Prof, that sort of tension. But in that case the personalities weren't so distinct. The Challengers were defined more by generic roles (pilot, scientist, etc.) than by tempers. The Fantastic Four is a better, sharper riff on the same premise -- but with the added influence of romance comics.

This contrastive ensemble approach is not unique to Kirby or comics, obviously. I see it in all sorts of series fiction, in TV of course, and especially obviously in sitcoms. It's a formulaic way of generating variation and complexity. I think Kirby's particular version of it came from the kid gang comics, which were a mashup of his own boyhood experience and the Hollywood "kid" groups: "Our Gang," the Dead End Kids, etc. It seems to me that Kirby's real-life experiences drew him toward groups of boys as a subject, and that dividing up personality traits among the boys was a way of venting various aspects of his own character: not just the Brooklyn/Scrapper type, but also the genius, the brooder, etc.

imageSPURGEON: You make a point in your introduction and again later on that Kirby's work has a natural tendency towards violence. Can you focus on specifically what about Kirby's natural proclivities plays a role makes his work different as opposed to his just engaging in the requirements of some of the genres in which he works. You go so far as to suggest Kirby's quieter work is about the still time preceding violence.

HATFIELD: Kirby himself likened the stylized violence in his early comics with the rough-and-tumble violence of his own boyhood -- and with the struggles born of his class, his poverty, his growing up on the Lower East Side, at that time one of the densest, most tumultuous neighborhoods on Earth. For this, his late story "Street Code" serves as a kind of autobiographical key, a long-deferred personal reflection. It shows how the rough intensity of his work came from an intense, violence-fraught boyhood. I note that his most powerful work even in the genre of romance comics, which are often assumed to be fundamentally different from the hyper-masculine hero comics, bristles with the threat of violence. The good stuff is always storm-wracked, intense.

Once, in an interview, Kirby countered [Fredric] Wertham's argument (in Seduction of the Innocent) that comic books would ruin children for gentle, quiet reflection by saying that children are not about gentle, quiet reflection in the first place. That they, we, are creatures of emotion, feeling everything with a terrible urgency that comics like his could express. That tells you a lot about his mindset. Kirby had a revved-up sense of life, based in conflict. Of course he did, given where he came from. That's why he was able to throw himself into superheroes without condescension. He was never patronizing toward that material, or that audience. I think it jibed too well with his experiences.

It's funny. When I first started writing about Kirby's Kamandi, my boyhood favorite, I remembered Kamandi as a combination of gumption and innocence. I remembered a quality of wide-eyed simplicity, far from the sort of fretful adolescence that later writers tried to inject into the character. I suppose that's a fair enough description. But when I actually reread those comics with my older son, I was struck by how blood-curdlingly violent they were. To understand Kamandi, you have to think of him as a wide-eyed boy who kills.

SPURGEON: Why is the lack of refinements in a lot of commercial comics art a problem for the academic study of comics art? Is it just we don't have multiple drafts, which would be beneficial, or is it more about the work that results from a lot of reflection and care?

HATFIELD: I'm not saying it's a problem because the comics aren't any good. I'm saying it's a problem because a certain academic mindset -- I'll call it the literary, because that's my neighborhood -- has a hard time getting reconciled to the rough energy of the work.

It's not just the surface qualities of the comics -- their brusque, energetic, violent quality -- that complicate literary reception. It's their nonstop serial nature, the way the production demand forced so much roughly finished, or barely finished, work onto the market. When academics -- I should say more specifically literary critics, because of course there are other academic mindsets out there -- pay attention to graphic narratives these days, they often frame them in terms inimical to old-fashioned periodical comics, terms learned from [Art] Spiegelman's Maus and a handful of other comics that have shifted the terms of reception over the past 25 years or so. Those are great comics, monumental works, and I wouldn't for a moment push them aside, but I don't think they prepare readers for grappling with the larger history of the medium.

So, my comments about lack of revision and refinement in old comics are really directed toward critics and academicians, not to apologize for the comics' rough edges, but to urge readers who are coming at these comics for the first time to step into a different mind-frame. Again, this is not necessarily a problem for all academics -- after all, some social historians are more interested in popular periodical comics than in any of the post-Maus stuff -- but specifically a problem for people in my discipline, literary studies, where the popular is still often derogated with an "asterisk" or qualifier. What I'm after is a deeper historical understanding of all comics, including those typically excluded from literary study (but of course essential to understanding where Maus and so many other contemporary works come from).

imageSPURGEON: You call romance work the open secret of Kirby's career. Why that phrase?

HATFIELD: Things are changing now, because we're seeing reprints and a new appreciation for Kirby's romance books. But for a long time his romance period, if it was written about at all, was viewed as one of steady but disengaged make-work, incompatible with or separate from his now more famous stuff. Bracketed off, not factored into what he did later. It wasn't "secret," of course, but it was somehow difficult to assimilate into the larger narrative about Kirby that fandom had in mind. I recommend Harry Mendryk's blog series on the Simon & Kirby romance books as an antidote -- that and Gagné's book.

I think it was Jeet Heer who gave me a wonderful line about how Kirby never discarded a genre, but always carried the lessons of that genre forward into his new work. He did this with romance, in the Marvel superhero books. Seriously, how can we imagine the Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four, or for that matter the Claremont/Byrne X-Men, without the history of romance comics behind them?

SPURGEON: How aware do you think Kirby was of the elements of social class as a determinant in his work?

HATFIELD: I don't know if Kirby was always so aware of it that he could put it into words at the drop of a hat. But a good starting point would be the interview he did with Will Eisner, in Shop Talk, where he clearly links his artistic development to his self-consciousness about class. That conversation suggests that even his relationship to Joe Simon, his most important true partner in the business, was shaped, at least at first, by his awareness of class differences. Kirby thought of Simon as a middle-class guy. He didn't think of himself that way.

Kirby truly was a child of the tenements, a battle-scarred survivor who had to remake himself by dint of continual effort. His sympathy for kids like that shows through in a lot of his work, so I have to believe that, yes, he carried his feelings about poverty and social striving with him throughout his life. I cannot imagine the rise of Marvel Comics, for instance, without Kirby's desperate economic need, his fear of poverty, and his ingrained understanding that a man must bust his ass to provide for his family. Kirby always worked hard, and I believe not a day went by that he didn't remember why.

SPURGEON: I thought this was a key moment in your book, this phrase here: "Kirby's handling of movement and action continually urges his iconic renderings of form towards the symbolic." How much do you think that idea works against misapprehensions of Kirby's work, and how much do you think people have accepted this as a natural outcome to how Kirby made art?

HATFIELD: I realized while working on the book that superhero or action-oriented comic book art is usually a tense tug o'war between naturalism and cartooning. You can see this even in Joe Shuster's original Superman, which is so much a take on Roy Crane's strip work in Captain Easy and Wash Tubbs (the early Superman almost is Easy, right?). Crane's compromise between naturalism and caricature, which anticipates Caniff in that important respect, is cartoony, boisterous, but rooted in real-world appearances just enough to give the depictions of roughhousing action some kick, some sense of danger. I see this tension throughout superhero comics, even though so many of the pivotal artists there -- take Lou Fine, or Neal Adams -- have been about infusing the drawing with more realism, or classicism. More Alex Raymond, right? Kirby's work sits smack dab in the middle of that tension: he dug Raymond as a young man, but what makes his work exciting to me is the way he couldn't quite hit that mark. By the time he laid down the Marvel blueprint in the '60s, he had pushed that tension into a kind of hyper-energized graphism, a super-graphic symbolic shorthand.

To me Kirby is the key artist in this tug o'war because there was something so unstable and vital in his approach to drawing. The endless arguing among fans about which Kirby inker was "best" -- [Joe] Sinnott, [Wally] Wood, [Mike] Royer, Kirby himself, whoever -- reflects this, because Kirby's raw pencils presented a kind of stark choice to his inkers. Which inker you dig probably says something about where in that tug o'war you prefer to be. Kirby's graphic symbolism is often so brutal -- I'd say he surrendered all pretenses to refinement as he got older -- that his art has this tightrope-walking quality. The "iconic," from the passage you mentioned, refers to likeness, similitude, realism; the "symbolic" refers to Kirby's own desperate, inspired ways of trying to find a code for physical action in a static medium.

My friend and colleague Rusty Witek has an excellent essay on different "modes" of comic art in the new book Critical Approaches to Comics (ed. Duncan and Smith, 2011). In that essay, which I've been using in my teaching lately, he distinguishes precisely between the cartoon mode and the naturalistic mode, with much greater precision than people usually make that contrast. Each mode is not just a style, or a stylistic range, but also a set of narrative expectations that tends -- tends, mind you, because we're not talking about absolute rules here -- to come with each style. To gloss this in class, I contrast Raymond and [George] Herriman, showing images of Rip Kirby and Krazy Kat dailies. In Kirby you have the varied compositions, the cinematic influence, the dynamism of the naturalistic school, post-[Milton] Caniff, post-[Hal] Foster, post-Raymond, all those adventure cartoonists, but on the other hand you also have a shorthand and a graphic energy that tack toward Herriman and Crane's end of things. The anti-classicism, the brusque symbolism, and the sheer momentum of drawing that is animated more by concept than by standard ideas of beauty.

I think of Kirby's cartooning as narrative drawing not only because he used it to tell stories but also because he used it to generate stories. It was the pressure of coming up with stories that caused that instability and vitality in the artwork. So one misapprehension about his work is that it is a flawed realism or a flawed illustration, that he "couldn't draw" certain things correctly, or that he needed a slick inker to tame the drawing. I think this misapprehension lives on in the way some readers prefer an Alex Ross sort of approach to polish up Kirby's concepts -- even though the results of plugging Kirby into photorealism are, for me, laughably out of whack. These days, though, I'm glad to see what I take is a growing appreciation of Kirby as a cartoonist who cartooned.

imageSPURGEON: When you talk about Kirby's eccentricities, are you making a distinction at all between those developments in his work and more standard workplace solutions? Or is "eccentricities" to be understood not in the context of Kirby but more in the context of art in comics generally?

HATFIELD: Kirby's work had enough power to make his eccentricities into standard workplace solutions! Pity artists like [Don] Heck, [John] Romita, [John] Buscema, etc., who were told to do it "the way Jack does"!

Some of those "eccentricities" are due to the usual demands of narrative drawing: its radically streamlined and typified nature, its simplicity, its reliance on standard symbolism. Those eccentricities are widely shared, and were shared well before Kirby. But some of Kirby's own peculiar problem-solving did become industry standard for comic books. Kirby's approach to graphic narrative is the DNA of today's superheroes, yes? It's the vintage "Marvel" style. In some ways it's still the Marvel template, despite the surface differences between his cartooning and the reigning hyperrealist styles today.

SPURGEON: I was impressed with your use of the phrase fuzziness when it comes to the comics made at Martin Goodman's comics company; you even note how that extends to what we call the place. That said, is there a trap at all in kind of putting that imprimatur on the process, the way it kind of absolves multiple points of view on who did what and to what extent?

HATFIELD: Oy, this issue is very much on my mind in the wake of the news about Marvel v. Kirby: the judge's decision last summer, Stan Lee's deposition in the case, the current appeal, all that. The question pains me a bit, because what I'd like is a world where things aren't fuzzy and justice is done.

By "fuzzy," I mean that the business, that the business of creating Marvel, and the proces of it, is poorly documented. The documentary record is scant. Personal memories are marshaled to the cause because we have so little else -- apart from the evidence of the comics themselves.

The comics themselves tell me that Kirby, as I say in the book, was the beating heart of most of the Marvel comics. The fuzziness that surrounds the issue has to do with both the interests of the people and corporations now involved, and the sheer elusive cageyness of Martin Goodman's way of doing business. There are a few long, drawn-out footnotes in my book just for the sake of getting the company's history right!

My book gives an elaborate argument against naive auteurism, that is, blunt, one-sided attributions of authorship (the whole Kirby v. Lee issue, which most CR readers know well by this point). I make that argument tactically, to show that I know about the fuzziness. I get it. But my intent there is not to dethrone Kirby. Quite the opposite, my intent is to put the case for Kirby's authorial role on what I hope is firmer footing. In my mind, Kirby is the essential co-author of Marvel Comics, and the source of most of what was and is interesting about Marvel's line ([Steve] Ditko's seminal work being the important exception). I want readers to appreciate how hard it is to judge these matters due to that aforesaid "fuzziness," but I also want them to come away understanding that Marvel is really a testament to Kirby's miraculous imagination and sheer hard work.

You said it well: trying to be nuanced, and to avoid oversimplification, can lead to a moral relativism, which is, yes, a trap. On a personal level, I'm participating in the current Marvel boycott because what I know about Jack Kirby's work cuts through all the fuzziness.

imageSPURGEON: You say that Jack Kirby may have underappreciated at the end of his Marvel run, even cognizant of coming to the end of his commercial effectiveness. This stuck out to me because of some of the stuff you wrote earlier about the development of Kirby's career, which didn't seem marked by self-reflection. On what did you base that specific appraisal?

HATFIELD: Well, Kirby took quite a shellacking in the letter columns of those late Marvel books, so much so that he made a last-ditch effort to reroute the mail to his California address rather than Marvel's NYC offices. He must have heard quite a bit of painful criticism in those days. Historical accounts of this period are full of shadowy insinuations about adversarial Marvel staffers too, people who had come up from fandom, who disparaged Kirby's late work. Kirby may have believed that they had it out for him. In any case, it's often said that the weight of negative fan comment bore down on him.

Kirby was never in a position to assert artistic automony regardless of sales. For someone of his generation and outlook, sales and positive fan response were very important. As he told Ken Viola in an interview, his inspiration was "the fact that I had to make sales." So the spate of short-lived projects he ending up doing in the seventies, the vocal hostility of some fans, the editorial troubles he had with Marvel, the rejection of his final Black Panther and Captain America runs, the cancellation of so many new projects, the lack of a commercially viable way forward for some of his most personal work -- I have to believe that all that weighed down on him. I don't find much evidence for that in the interviews he gave; it would have been unlike Kirby to complain publicly about poor or disappointing sales. But my sense is that he left monthly comic books in 1978 with bruises.

Consider: Kirby was so at home in comic books. He wasn't really at home anywhere else, not in newspaper strips, not in storyboarding animated cartoons. Comic books were the base of his working life. So why would he leave them? Well, his options then, at around age 60, were few. He had run his course with the only two comic book publishers that managed to resist the overall drastic drop in sales during the '70s, DC and Marvel. Options were closing. He was getting older, and the work was telling on him physically. Getting a gig in animation, ultimately as a development artist and producer in animation, without having to do the plodding work of scripting or storyboarding episodes, must have been a godsend. But even then he couldn't quite stay away from comic books, right? Imagine what it must have taken from Kirby to leave behind him to leave behind his full-time comic book work in 1978.

To the extent that Kirby indulged in self-reflection, I think he did so because the comic book business seemed to be failing and because he himself was getting older, and at a crossroads. There is a sense in which comics used him up, and spat him out.

imageSPURGEON: I was intrigued by your section on the misapprehension a lot of fans have towards the realism of Marvel Comics; what ultimately is the biggest distortion that comes out of seeing those comics that way?

HATFIELD: "Realism" plays an important role in the stories that Marvel likes to tell about itself, and that Stan Lee tells about his career. It's so often touted as the difference, the X factor, that gave Marvel the edge in the sixties. Realism, we're told, is the key that separated Marvel from its predecessors in superhero comics. Realism is also a goal that results in the continual revising and reshaping of the Marvel myth: the standard that justifies the rehashing and polishing of Kirby's stories in the form of revisionary efforts like [Kurt] Busiek & Ross's Marvels, and so on. This "realism" is a bit of a totem. It's become important as something to strive for but also to rebel against in superhero comics, a problem that my friend Marc Singer takes up in his new book about Grant Morrison (UP of Mississippi, 2011), where he examines the claims for realism in the Watchmen generation, and how Morrison first bowed to, but then resisted, that trend.

I think realism is an inoculant against social change. [Frank] Miller invoked it in Dark Knight, but being realistic wasn't really the overriding goal of that comic, right? Recuperating the genre, making it hip, topical, a bit dangerous -- that was more Miller's goal. Injecting it with a dose of social and psychological realism, or ambiguity anyway, was enough to reframe the icon (Batman), to destabilize the genre productively and make it less predictable. Realism was a tool there -- but ultimately Dark Knight ends with two superpowered, square-jawed demigods slugging it out! Watchmen shoots for realism in a more thorough, more comprehensive way, but it too has other fish to fry. Its lasting virtues, to me, are formal, philosophical, and analytical. And, DC's recent moves notwithstanding, Watchmen was a terminal experiment, not a franchise defibrillator like Miller's Batman.

I remember when readers were saying that they wished Mike Grell's Green Arrow really patrolled their neighborhoods -- yipes! No thanks. At bottom, the superhero is a wish-fulfilling genre. Never mind the physics -- the psychology, the morality, the politics are wish-fulfilling, schematized, and self-contradictory. Those tensions speak to us, but the results aren't "realistic" in any sense I can recognize from literary realism. How can realism, as a yardstick, help us appreciate "This Man, This Monster"?

Part of the difficulty here is that comics can reach for hyper-realism in visual style while flouting realism in so many other ways. Again, there's that tension between realism and symbolism, naturalism and stylization.

Also, I think that too exclusive an emphasis on realism tends to flatten out the comics, over-exaggerate the role of scriptwriters, and underplay the role of cartoonists. Implicitly, the selling of "realism" by Marvel and Lee implicitly reinforces a view of comics production based on the strict division of labor, writer v. artist, a model that puts the wordsmiths in charge and diminishes the generative and improvisational nature of cartooning. I don't buy that.

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SPURGEON: Your reading of X-Men is pretty much the best case I've ever seen put forward for why that title was important in the overall scheme of what Kirby contributed to the genre. What's kept others from seeing that same thing?

HATFIELD: Gosh, Tom, I don't know. I wrote that portion of the argument way back in 1994 (a version appeared in The Comics Journal's Kirby Memorial Issue), and I don't know why the argument hasn't been picked up and expanded since.

I suppose the argument depends on seeing a likeness between X-Men and The Fourth World. Also the Inhumans, The Eternals, and various late Kirby works, with their divided pantheons of good and evil superbeings: mutant v. mutant, Black Bolt v. Maximus, New Genesis v. Apokolips, Eternal v. Deviant, and so on. It may be that, for a long time, the shockingly different aesthetic of the New Gods, etc., kept fans from examining the likeness between those comics and X-Men. But I came to the early X-Men by, basically, reading backwards: reading the Fourth World first, and then X-Men reprints later. So I saw the later work as the departure point, and the earlier work as flashback: a peek into the roots of the idea.

Perhaps part of what has kept others from seeing the same things is that they think of Kirby's 1970s comics as "Kirby comics" and his 1960s comics as "Marvel comics." My argument is that comics from both eras speak to a common set of obsessions, and use a common set of narrative strategies. Kirby's.

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SPURGEON: I maybe missed this in your section on the Technological Sublime and Kirby -- why did this develop for Kirby so much later on his career, as opposed to being present throughout?

HATFIELD: It may have been present throughout, but kept in check by the lack of a fitting context for such explorations. Marvel provided that context, by enabling Kirby to rejigger the superhero. Also, the world was changing so fast; it must have been dizzying to an old-time SF fan with a prophetic streak, like Kirby. His mind always had to outrun what he saw in the world around him; prophesying via fiction was one of his habits. Kirby was king of the what-if scenario. As the world changed, he reached farther. Apocalyptic SF of the Cold War era may have had something to do with it, as did Kirby's own experience of ageing. I think this penchant just got stronger over time.

Part of the answer to your question must be the sheer intense pressure of production in the sixties, which drove Kirby so hard but also gave him more license. The Marvel juggernaut generated its own crazy momentum (most of it coming right off Kirby's drawing board). Kirby was riding that. Lee didn't have control over plotting by the mid-decade. Kirby burst out, fizzing, exploding. Marvel was a license to go nuts. Kirby, who was living over his drawing table without a break, week after week, had a license to invent like never before. Imagine him sitting at home, working like mad, day and night, and all these bottled obsessions starting to spill out. Damn!

Part of the answer also has to be graphic. Kirby's imagination answered to his drawings, as well as vice versa, so the increasing grandeur, the expanded scope, of the drawing must have been a goad. Part of cartooning is envisioning stories that provide you with endless pleasure and challenges in drawing. Kirby drove himself onward, outward.

In a curious way, the very commercial superhero comics of Marvel, and the unrelenting production rhythm they demanded, allowed, or made, Kirby dive deep, deep into himself. As I say in the book, it was then that Kirby began seriously plumbing the sublime: pleasure in terror, in the feeling of being overwhelmed by life. After all, from Kirby's point of view -- his workroom, at home -- the experience of creating Marvel comics was mainly a solitary one. What we get are the lovely results of that tremendous pressure.

imageSPURGEON: You seem to endorse the view of Fourth World as a treatise on fascism; do you have any sympathy on the view that it's more about war and violence itself?

HATFIELD: Yeah, good point. It's about fascism if you insist it's about Darkseid, and what Darkseid wants. But if, instead, you say it's about Orion, who is a piece of Darkseid that opposes Darkseid, who hails from Darkseid's world but prizes something else, then you can make the case that the story is about ambivalence. The ambivalence of Orion: of having to resort to violence to stop the Darkseids of the world. There's a terrifying ambivalence behind stories like New Gods #5, 6, and 7.

From that point of view, the Fourth World is about a price exacted from all of us. Even the morally pure, nonviolent way represented by Izaya is terribly compromised, because Scott Free, Izaya's son, is sacrificed as the cost of that "purity." New Genesis has its part to play in this war, not just Apokolips, yes?

If we say simply that the Fourth World is a treatise on fascism, we're off the hook, scott free. Almost everybody says they hate fascists. But if we say it's about our own complicity in warring and violence, we're left dangling -- which I prefer. I think that's the better way to read it, because it's less easy.

SPURGEON: Is there any way in which the culture of Kirbyana limits our view of what Kirby did and how he did it? Do you feel more comfortable seeing this book as a part of that spectrum or standing a bit apart from it?

HATFIELD: That's a challenging but fair question. Again, I think of Hand of Fire as an academic project, because I see it as rising to a style of argument -- as I said earlier, a standard of evidence and rigor -- that I learned academically. It's an extension of my life as a professor -- and I consider myself lucky that I get to write about Kirby under that banner. Very lucky. I'll never stop saying thanks for having a job that allows me to come up with my own research problems, in this case Kirby, and address them as I see fit. As I said before, it's a blessing to have a gig where, for at least part of the time, you get to tackle problems of your own devising.

As I say, it was a handful of years ago that I realized that Kirby could be such a "research problem," that I could, once again, integrate into my academic life something that until then I had kept apart. My lifelong obsession with Kirby could become, as we say, a research monograph: my next big thing. Who'da thought? Again, lucky.

Of course I'm a Kirby fan. Have been for almost as long as I can remember. So I've been a keen participant in the culture of Kirbyana. What working on this book confirmed for me, though, is that I had to keep hagiography and special pleading at a distance. I couldn't give way to sentiment. I had to make a case for Kirby in the widest terms possible. I had to find a way to write simultaneously for Kirby fans and for the uninitiated. I also had to try to improve my writing, to show by style as well as substance that Kirby is an inspiring, complex subject.

Comics fandom is a double-edged sword. It inspires us to projects like this, but it can also blind us. This is what I say in chapter three about fandom's take on the superhero as the be-all and ened-all of the whole history of comic books. That view, I think, is too settled and insular, to be a wholly reliable guide. Fandom is about special pleading in a sense -- or often about not pleading at all, but simply enjoying a conversation among friends: comfortable, specialized, inward-turning. I like that, actually: the clubhouse feel. It's when fandom turns outward that the special pleading starts. Often it just turns inward, to reaffirm that sense of group identity, of belonging. On a gut level, I feel that sense of belonging, too. But when I started Hand Of Fire I had to ask myself what it would be like to write a book about Jack Kirby, and therefore about superhero comics, without assuming the reader's love of the genre? What it would it be like to write for readers who might approach Marvel Comics with a tabula rasa?

Only in that sense do I see Hand of Fire as standing apart. The fan histories I grew up with -- All in Color for a Dime, Steranko's History of Comics, and so on -- used the inclusive "we," the in-group pronoun, a lot. They assumed an audience of comics lovers. I happen to like those books a lot, but I knew from the start that Hand of Fire would have to be something different. Because of who I am, because of the multiple audiences I'm trying to reach, and because I really did want to explain the strange and thrilling qualities of Kirby's work without leaning hard on nostalgia.

SPURGEON: What can we learn about Kirby from artists like Tom Scioli and Jose Ladronn that at least part of the time work very closely to some of the same visual motifs he worked?

HATFIELD: I would have loved to say even more about Kirby homages and parodies in the book. One thing I do say is that "Kirby's style" in itself has a huge sentimental, thus ideological, value for experienced comic book readers. It is a magnet of sorts, a holy symbol. Doing something in a Kirby-esque style, or with Kirby-like elements, almost always carries with it an element of tribute, whether it's Scioli, Ladronn, [Keith] Giffen, or [Bruce] Timm, or someone doing something a bit farther afield, but still indebted to Kirby imaginatively (I'm thinking of David Mazzucchelli's wonderful story "Big Man" here).

In the book I argue that there's something ironic about these homages, at least the ones that cleave very closely to Kirby's drawing style. A distinctive personal style like Kirby's is the result of that artist's own hard work, his own problem-solving. Kirby's style is a unique high-wire act, an individual and quirky way of balancing mimesis (I mean the imitation of real things), symbolism, and the physical act of drawing. The results are highly imitable, but by rights they shouldn't be. After all, Kirby's style grew in response to his own narrative inspirations, his speed of working, and the rhythms of his working life. It embodied his own conflict-filled view of life, his agon. The animating impulse, the animus, the struggle, was all his. So it's strange to see other artists yoking themselves to his style, to see them slavishly follow the outward results of Kirby's inward process. Kirby, by all accounts, didn't want to dominate other artists' visions that way.

I do enjoy some Kirby homages. To me Scioli's work is interesting and fun because he taps into some of the flat-out weirdness of late Kirby, the sense of a personal cosmology and symbology that "works" despite, or rather because, it is so severely stylized. I get a kick from that. But I have a hard time imagining Scioli drawing the stories in Young Romance, or the splendid, very sentimental last scene in Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, or even the melodrama and moralizing of "This Man, This Monster." Ditto Ladronn. They're responding to particular aspects of Kirby, and, even though those are probably the same aspects I love the most, I can't help but be reminded that what they're doing is a partial take on Kirby, whereas Kirby himself gives off so many different notes and feelings, up and down the scale.

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SPURGEON: Fifty years from now, do people still care about Jack Kirby? How do you think it will be expressed differently than what we see now, when there are still people that remember him as a creative force from their childhood?

HATFIELD: Here we go, back to childhood again. Yes, I do believe that people -- some people, which after all is the best you can hope for -- will care about Kirby. Anything that strange, yet also that organically consistent, anything with that kind of idiolect, that peculiarly personal visual language, and yet so scruffy and populist in nature, so abundant, so widely diffused in the culture -- people will always pay attention to that. That kind of cultural overgrowth, that ripeness, generosity, and craziness, will always attract. From an aesthetic point of view, the prime Kirby comics are out of this world. They have personality. They also, obviously, have had influence. From cultural and ideological points of view, people will continue to wonder about the ways Kirby's comics reflect or distort tensions and troubles in the popular imagination. Kirby always bottled the Pop obsessions of the moment, then gave them a wild, personal spin. So I have to believe that the archive of work he left behind will draw both cultural critics and art lovers in perpetuity. The interest may turn out to be more historical and formal than sentimental, but Kirby did so much that, yes, hell yes, interest will persist.

Naturally the terms of interest are changing as comics culture, and popular culture generally, get farther and farther away from the time when "comic books" (in the ephemeral magazine format) made sense as an everyday commodity, a truly mass entertainment. Already things aren't what they were 30-odd years ago, when I was a kid buying Kirby comics. They're not what they were back in 1994, when Kirby died and when John Morrow launched The Jack Kirby Collector. So I think that the interest in Kirby will be differently expressed. I expect and hope that he'll be widely acknowledged as what he was, a great American artist, and one of the preeminent storytellers of the 20th century.

*****

* Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, Charles Hatfield, University Press Of Mississippi, hardcover, 304 pages, 9781617031779 (ISBN13), December 2011, $65.
* Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, Charles Hatfield, University Press Of Mississippi, softcover, 304 pages, 9781617031786 (ISBN13), December 2011, $25.

*****

* a splendid Jack Kirby image
* cover to the new book
* 1970s Marvel Kirby (from The Eternals)
* Captain Victory-era pin-up
* Hatfield's previous book
* image from the Simon & Kirby Newsboy Legion team
* from "Street Code"
* a romance cover
* early '60s Marvel Superheroes Kirby panel
* 1970s Black Panther splash
* panel from "This Man, This Monster"
* an X-Men panel
* some of that Kirby tech drawing
* cover from the Fourth World cycle
* spectacular Kirby spread
* Kirby folding romance into superheroes (below)

all characters depicted except for the image implied on the cover of Hand Of Fire and the images on Alternative Comics created or co-created by Jack Kirby

*****

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*****
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Holy Crud, Someone Started A Blog Devoted To Holiday Magazine

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

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

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


 
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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character "Rip Kirby" was created by Alex Raymond.

*****

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* The character Cerebus was created by Dave Sim.

*****

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* The character Fujiwara-no-Sai was created by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata.

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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FFF Results Post #285 -- Comics-Makers 55 And Over

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Favorite Living Comics Makers Older Than Fifty-Five." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Moebius (73)
2. Edmond Baudoin (69)
3. Robert Crumb (68)
4. Jim Woodring (59)
5. Gilbert Hernandez (55)

*****

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John Vest

1. Joe Kubert (85)
2. Steve Ditko (85)
3. Kim Deitch (67 or 68)
4. Barry Windsor-Smith (62)
5. Howard Chaykin (61)

*****

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Isaac Cates

1. Bill Griffith (68)
2. Posy Simmonds (66)
3. Alan Moore (58)
4. Eddie Campbell (56)
5. Lynda Barry (56)

*****

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Brandon Montclare

1. Joe Kubert (85)
2. Sergio Aragones (74)
3. Hayao Miyazaki (71)
4. Michael Wm Kaluta (63)
5. Frank Miller (55)

*****

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Dave Knott

1. Gahan Wilson (82)
2. Claire Bretécher (71)
3. Walter Simonson (65)
4. Jiro Taniguchi (64)
5. Garry Trudeau (63)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sam Glanzman (88)
2. Tony Isabella (61)
3. Mark Evanier (60)
4. Yrs trly (58)
5. Dave Sim (56)

*****

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Mark Mclegg

* Joe Kubert (85)
* Moebius (73)
* Richard Corben (71)
* William Messner-Loebs (63)
* Dave Sim (55)

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. Frank Thorne (81)
2. Bill Griffith (68)
3. John Costanza (68)
4. Terry Austin (59)
5. Matt Groening (58)

*****

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Bob Temuka

* Joe Kubert (85)
* Art Spiegelman (64)
* Pat Mills (62)
* Bryan Talbot (59)
* Jim Woodring (59)

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Joe Kubert (85)
2. Neal Adams (69)
3. Todd Klein (61)
4. Jimmy Johnson (60)
5. Alan Moore (58)

*****

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Mark McMurray

* Irwin Hasen (93)
* Dan Spiegle (91)
* Joe Kubert (85)
* Steve Ditko (84)
* John Byrne (61)

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Marie Severin (82)
2. Jerry Moriarty (74)
3. Spain (72)
4. Miyazaki Hayao (71)
5. Ann Nocenti (55)

*****

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David Brothers

1. Steve Ditko (84)
2. John Romita (82)
3. Herb Trimpe (72)
4. Jim Starlin (62)
5. John Romita Jr (55)

*****

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Chad Nevett

1. Steve Ditko (84)
2. Alejandro Jodorowsky (83)
3. Pat Mills (62)
4. Jim Starlin (62)
5. Howard Chaykin (61)

*****

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Ralf Haring

* Alejandro Jodorowsky (83)
* Walt Simonson (65)
* Wendy Pini (60)
* Alan Moore (58)
* Stan Sakai (58)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Steve Ditko (84)
2. Jacques Tardi (65)
3. Eddie Campbell (56)
4. Lynda Barry (56)
5. Dave Sim (55)

*****

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Jake Kujava

1. Al Jaffee (91)
2. Russell Heath (86)
3. Gilbert Shelton (72)
4. Gary Panter (62)
5. Tony Salmons (55)

*****

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Jog

* Steve Ditko (84)
* Alejandro Jodorowsky (83)
* Richard Corben (71)
* Mitsuru Adachi (61)
* Eddie Campbell (56)

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Joe Kubert (85)
2. Ramona Fradon (85)
3. Richard Corben (71)
4. Alan Moore (58)
5. Geof Darrow (56)

*****

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J.E. Cole

* Joe Kubert (85)
* John M. Burns (74)
* Arthur Ranson (73)
* Ryoichi Ikegami (67)
* Posy Simmonds (66)

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Richard Corben (71)
2. Don McGregor (66)
3. Mike Kaluta (64)
4. Howard Chaykin (61) (!)
5. P. Craig Russell (60

*****

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Domingos Isabelinho

1. Barron Storey (72)
2. Jose Munoz (69)
3. Jacques Tardi (65)
4. Lorenzo Mattotti (58)
5. Eddie Campbell (56)

*****

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Niel Jacoby

* Steve Ditko (84)
* Jim Steranko (73)
* Neal Adams (70)
* George Perez (57)
* Frank Miller (55)

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Jim Steranko (73)
2. Dan O'Neill (69)
3. Jordi Bernet (68)
4. Skip Williamson (67)
5. Rick Geary (66)

*****

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Mike Pfefferkorn

1. Nick Cardy (91)
2. Dan Spiegle (91)
3. Joe Kubert (85)
4. Mike Grell (64)
5. Don Rosa (60)

*****

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John Platt

1. Mort Walker (88)
2. Steve Ditko (84)
3. Sergio Aragones (74)
4. Skip Williamson (68)
5. Stan Sakai (58)

*****

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Michael F. Russo

* Joe Kubert (85)
* Steve Ditko (84)
* Neal Adams (70)
* Howard Chaykin (61)
* Chris Claremont (61)

*****

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Rodrigo Baeza

* Dan Spiegle (90)
* Bob Lubbers (90)
* Jules Feiffer (83)
* Carlos Giménez (70)
* Jacques Tardi (65)

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Sergio Aragones (74)
2. Robert Crumb (68)
3. Kim Deitch (68)
4. Jacques Tardi (67)
5. Garry Trudeau (63)

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Joe Kubert (86)
2. Jules Feiffer (83)
3. Jim Steranko (74)
4. Jordi Bernet (68)
5. Dean Yeagle (65)

*****

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Alastair Tervit

1. Leo Baxendale (81)
2. John Cooper (70)
3. John Wagner (62)
4. Bryan Talbot (60)
5. Hunt Emerson (60)

*****

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Alexa Dickman

* Lily Renée (87)
* Ramona Fradon (85)
* Marie Severin (82)
* Jim Steranko (73)
* Alan Moore (58)

*****

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Robert Martin

1. Jules Feiffer (83)
2. José Munoz (69)
3. Moto Hagio (62)
4. Alan Moore (58)
5. Eddie Campbell (56)

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Joe Kubert (85)
* Jim Steranko (73)
* Neal Adams (70)
* Walter Simonson (65)
* Bernie Wrightson (63)

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Steve Ditko (84)
2. Paul Ryan (63)
3. Roger Stern (61)
4. Wendy Pini (60)
5. Phil Foglio (55)

*****

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Charles Brownstein

1. Joe Kubert (85)
2. Sergio Aragones (74)
3. S. Clay Wilson (70)
4. Justin Green (66)
5. Mary Fleener (60)

*****

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Ian MacEwan

1. Carmine Infantino (86)
2. Jordi Bernet (67)
3. Howard Chaykin (61)
4. Katsuhiro Otomo (57)
5. Lynda Barry (56)

*****

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Shannon Smith

1. Carmine Infantino (86)
2. Walt Simonson (65)
3. Mike Grell (64)
4. Howard Chaykin (61)
5. John Romita Jr. (55)

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Joe Kubert (85)
2. Denny O'Neil (72)
3. Walt Simonson (65)
4. Howard Chaykin (61)
5. Steven Grant (58)

*****

I deleted a bunch of responses for not following the format or when I noticed the ages were obviously wrong. Also, I deleted a couple that named the late Sheldon Moldoff. Sorry about that; not my best topic. I appreciate your participation. Better luck next time.

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


Joe Sacco At Angouleme
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More Joe Sacco
via


Craig Thompson At Angouleme
via


Choreographing Osamu Tezuka
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Not Comics: Performance By Adrian Norvid
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Amanda Conner Draws A Silk Spectre Commission
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Tom Gauld Interviewed
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March 3, 2012


Sheldon Moldoff, RIP

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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from February 25 to March 2, 2012:

1. Zunar's civil lawsuit against Malaysian authorities resumed in Kuala Lumpur. The cartoonist is suing because of harassment received due to the political and satirical nature of his cartoon work.

2. In a culture-war maneuver worthy of General Custer, a conservative advocacy group asks a big retailer to remove an Archie publication showing character Kevin Keller getting married to his future husband. Archie of course struck back hard in terms of staunchly defending their character and their publication, gaining all sorts of publicity for the character and praise for that defense. Keller is also a poor choice for any conservative group's "the monster in our midst"-style agitation, being as Dan Parent's creation is in all ways an Archie character, and thus fairly adorable.

3. Another structural implement of the forthcoming digital comics world snaps into place as iTunes devotes a part of their bookstore to comics and graphic novels. Even if the move ends up not fully working, such efforts are key steps in finding out what will.

Winner Of The Week
The US Marshals Service, a potential breeding ground for the next generation of comics retailers.

Losers Of The Week
A surprisingly significant percentage of comics-related Kickstarter projects, we learn through Gary Tyrrell's analysis in the light of so many high-profile successes as of late.

Quote Of The Week
"The world today brings news that Jan Berenstain, co-author with her husband Stan of the 45 years and running Berenstain Bears series for children, has passed on to a better world. As any right-thinking mother will agree, good riddance." -- Hanna Rosin, in a much-criticized "nasty obituary."

*****

today's cover is from the thriving, small-press independent comics scene of the 1980s and 1990s

*****
*****
 
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Reminder: Comic-Con Badges Go On Sale This Morning

Heidi MacDonald talks about the sale of Comic-Con International badges here.

The keys are 1) it will take some time, 2) it has the potential for being error-filled because of high demand, 3) you need to have a Member ID to even participate.

Good luck to all badge purchasers. With demand what it is and the limits to membership being what they are I'm pretty sure some frustration from somebody somewhere is going to be inevitable. There are likely going to be people who say, "I'm just going to do [My Local Con]," which I think is a perfectly rational response, or "Why can't it be like it was in [insert year here]?" which is only a little weird in that I bet building a time machine is a lot more difficult than getting badges to a high-demand funnybook convention.

Update: And... scene.
 
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If I Were Near Bologna, I'd Go To This


 
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If I Were In Austin, I'd Go To This

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

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Elly Patterson was created by Lynn Johnston.

*****

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* The character Abe Sapien was created by Mike Mignola.

*****

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* The character Edwin Jarvis was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. (I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the above image from the cover of FOOM #6 is Marie Severin.)

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
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The Great Ronald Searle Would Have Been 92 Today

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March 2, 2012


Go, Look: A Small George Price Gallery

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Go, Look: Being Jane Maikovich

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Go, Read: Kiel Phegley On DC's Jerry Robinson Memorial

People in comics criticize both the degree of commitment that its mainstream comic-book companies have shown to the men and women that created the properties they now manage and the short attention span of the on-line press that has sprung up around those businesses. That's two reasons it's nice to see CBR's Kiel Phegley write a long piece about DC's recent memorial service on behalf of the late Jerry Robinson. I know that there's a tendency to denigrate events that by themselves might be seen as a positive if we can also criticize them as not being a significant part of a series of efforts moving in one, concerted direction, but except in cases of outright exploitation, of using one to hide the other, I disagree. It's a good thing, I think, independent of our other appraisals, to remember people like Robinson, both at a memorial and in print like this article, and it's good to celebrate what they've done. Also, Paul Levitz should get credit for breaking out the phrase "direct lineal imbuement" in discussing one of this summer's tentpole movie celebrations of snarling and hittery.
 
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Go, Look: Personal Computer

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One Of The Very Best Cartoonists Seeking Patronage

Jim Woodring is one of the great cartoonists of his generation, and probably one or two generations on each side of his own. He's one of those cartoonists that raises one's estimation of the entire art form for him being it. "We have a Jim Woodring; what do you have?" You can make the case -- some, like Scott McCloud, have already done so -- that Woodring is such a singular talent that he may be remembered decades and centuries from now when most other comics-makers have long since faded from memory.

So there is every reason to take seriously a fundraising project initiated by Woodring in order to assist him in the completion of his next book, Fran, a follow-up to the exquisite Congress Of The Animals and another volume in a recent and slightly unexpected flurry of major works from the creator. I think the perks being offered are solid, but more importantly, I'd really like to see this book and it's worth buying a few less-good ones in order to help make this happen. I hope you'll consider joining me.
 
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Go, Look: A Gallery Of Advertising Cartoons

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Not Comics: Gerard Jones On The Value Of Publicity

The writer Gerard Jones has a post up here about the value of publicity, using the more blunt question "does publicity sell books" as its starting point. Jones is a working writer, so his answer reflects his own experiences: some publicity will drive some sales, but mostly the overall effect of publicity is building opportunities of all kinds over the long term. Sounds about right to me.

One of comics' many hang-ups is that we don't have a realistic picture of what publicity and marketing efforts on behalf of a work or creator should actually look like. This is sometimes seen in a critical way looking at individual comics or people that someone thinks should be receiving more attention, but the hang-up gets even more play as a kind of magic marketing bullet applied as the band-aid over some perceived lack of sales. The basic problem with this is that such efforts are usually defined by the thing-not-achieved rather than by any stricter sense of what the effort might look like independent of its effectiveness. So saying a book needed better marketing to be successful means that it needed the marketing that leads to a book to being successful. This may drive several years of Internet conversation -- it already has -- but it's not that helpful in applying things to the real world, where this stuff either works or doesn't.
 
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Go, Look: Some Really First-Rate Hogarth Tarzan Scans

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Jack Davis BCGF-Weekend Book Now An Actual Rarity

I'm not sure why this amuses me, but it does. The Fantagraphics Jack Davis book had a cover-warping problem (I can attest to that), so they want back to press on an altered edition. That edition should be out very soon, after having been delayed a bit. The amusing part is that a new edition makes the version they released to adoring audiences at The Strand the Thursday before the Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival and the festival itself actual rarities, which doesn't happen a lot in the world of alternative comics publishing. If you combine this with rumors of huge prices already being bandied about for purchase of that new IDW Wally Wood Artist's Edition, it's like the EC stable has suddenly and once again become the hottest thing in comics. That's all right with me.
 
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If I Were Near Bologna, I'd Go To This


 
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If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character DiDi Glitz was created by Diane Noomin (visual above by Noomin)

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* The character Shinichi Mechazawa was created by Eiji Nonaka (visual above by Nonaka)

*****

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* The character The Black Terror was created by Richard E. Hughes and Don Gabrielson (visual above by Elmer Wexler)

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there's a comic out there for everyone.

image* Richard Sala has a bunch of new original art for sale, through the very handy Comic Art Collective site. I think that's a core comics-on-the-Internet site.

* Sean Gaffney on GTO: The Early Years Vol. 11. James Romberger on a bunch of comics. Paul Rainey on Spandex #6. Todd Klein on Green Lantern: New Guardians #3-5.

* this Justice League just looks weird, grumpy and smarmy.

* not comics: the writer Andrew Sullivan suggests that the late Andrew Breitbart is the first casualty of the 24-hour-news-blogger-twitter-culture-war cycle. The way he describes it makes me think of someone who's really into comics culture kicking the bucket, and that doesn't seem like an impossibility. Most of us have gone from years of being the only person we know that reads comics to being able to "live" in the company of comics fans for the majority of the hours in any given day. I wonder sometimes if we wouldn't all be better off taking a step back. Not even each person: collectively better off.

* Bruce Canwell presents five strips from April 2, 1947.

* this is a funny cartoon about a super-creepy practice.

* this tale of a small child getting their parent fired up to learn about superhero comics is a very heartwarming story until you stop and think about the fact there is no reason at all the events described should be a rare thing. Then you get mad.

* these original art pages are lovely.

* not exactly comics: Mark Evanier talks about that cartoon that Marvel did in the '60s where instead of hiring a team of top-flight animators they basically gave a guy a pair of scissors and some old comic books. The theme songs were pretty awesome, though.

* Maura Judkis talks to Gavin Aung Than. Somone at ComicsAlliance talks to Brandon Graham.

* Daryl Cagle has been drawing lots of dead people recently.

* finally, I have to admit I sort of like half-crusader/half-pagan Two Face.
 
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March 1, 2012


Go, Look: Spin Re-Running Ward Sutton's 1994 Monkees Comic

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At least I assume it's the same one, given currency by Davy Jones' passing.
 
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Go, Look: Molly Kiely

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Maybe The US Marshals Can Run The Entire Comics Industry

I know that the main hook for articles about the final disposition of the comics collection owned by convicted meth dealer Aaron Castro is jokes about the nerdy criminal and his funnybooks, with a slight nod in the direction of underground economies and past rumors of same involving comics.

Still, I can't help but be impressed that the US Marshals service was able to get $125K for the 18,000+ comics seized. Have you tried to sell comics in a "take them all" fashion these days? They got a ton of bids, too. I'm not saying it's worth starting a prostitution ring to find someone willing to take on my complete run of Dagar The Invincible, but if I have to move again I'll definitely think about it.
 
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Go, Look: Hal Foster Tarzan Dailies

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posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2012 Eagle Awards Nominees

The venerable, mainstream-oriented, fan-driven program The Eagle Awards has announced it has opened voting until April 2 in a variety of categories. The Roll of Honor nominees -- I'm guessing that's sort of the big award here, considering there are more than two dozen on works and creators from 2011 -- were Brian Michael Bendis, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes, Geoff Johns and Frank Quitely. Also, congratulations to my nominated peers.

I haven't stopped to take the full measure of the nominees relative to one another, but it looks like JH Williams III and his work has a number of nominations. Scott Snyder's writer-category nomination is another indication he's pretty much an A-lister now, or is at least an emerging one.

Winners will be announced on May 25 at the London MCM Expo.

Writer
* Ed Brubaker
* Geoff Johns
* Alan Moore
* Grant Morrison
* Scott Snyder

Writer/Artist
* Darwyn Cooke
* Jeff Lemire
* Francis Manapul
* Frank Miller
* J.H. Williams III

New Writer
* Michael Carroll
* Robert Curley
* Nathan Edmondson
* Jeff Lemire
* J.H. Williams III

Artist (Pencils)
* Chris Bachalo
* Becky Cloonan
* Jim Lee
* Ivan Reis
* J.H. Williams III

Artist (Inks)
* Becky Cloonan
* D’israeli
* Gary Erskine
* Chris Samnee
* Scott Williams

Artist (Painted Work)
* Adi Granov
* Alex Ross
* Esad Ribic
* J.H. Williams III
* Sean Phillips

New Artist
* Mahmud Asrar
* Francesco Francavilla
* Emanuela Lupacchino
* Axel Medellin
* Declan Shalvey

Colorist
* Jeff Balke
* Jamie Grant
* Laura Martin
* Rod Reis
* Dave Stewart

Letterer
* Ed Dukeshire
* Chris Eliopoulos
* Todd Klein
* Annie Parkhouse
* Richard Starkings/Comicraft

Editor
* Karen Berger
* Tom Brevoort
* Chris Ryall
* Matt Smith
* Steve Wacker

Publisher
* Dark Horse
* DC Comics/Vertigo
* IDW
* Image
* Marvel

American Comic Book (Color)
* Aquaman
* Batman
* Batwoman
* Daredevil
* Hellboy

American Comic Book (Black & White)
* Echoes
* RASL
* The Walking Dead
* Usagi Yojimbo
* Wolves

British Comic Book (Color)
* 2000AD
* CLiNT Magazine
* Doctor Who Magazine
* Judge Dredd Megazine
* STRIP Magazine

British Comic Book (Black & White)
* Blood Blokes
* Commando
* Futurequake
* Lou Scannon
* Viz
* Zarjaz

Comic Book (New)
* Animal Man
* Aquaman
* Batman
* Daredevil
* Wolverine And The X-Men

Manga
* 20th Century Boys
* Blade of the Immortal
* Bleach
* Naruto
* One Piece

Comic Book (European)
* Betelgeuse
* Dylan Dog
* Jennifer Wilde
* League Of Volunteers
* Requiem Vampire Knight

Webcomic
* Ace Kilroy
* Axe Cop
* Freakangels
* Hark! A Vagrant
* xkcd

Single Story
* Animal Man #1
* Aquaman #4
* Daredevil #7
* Doctor Who #12
* The Amazing Spider-Man #655

Continued Story
* "Flambé" in Chew
* "Ghost War" in American Vampire
* "Hydrology" in Batwoman
* "No Way Out" in The Walking Dead
* "The Black Mirror" in Detective Comics

Cover
* 2000AD Prog 1752
* Aquaman #1
* Batwoman #1
* Daredevil #1
* Detective Comics #880

Original Graphic Novel
* Batman: Noel
* Habibi
* Hellboy: House of the Living Dead
* Teen Titans: Games
* The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969

Reprint Compilation
* Aquaman: Death of a Prince
* Detective Comics: The Black Mirror
* Thor Omnibus by Walt Simonson
* The Walking Dead Vol. 15
* We3 Deluxe Edition

Comics-Related Book
* 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
* Alan Moore: Storyteller
* Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero
* The Batman Files
* The Marvel Art of John Romita Jr.

Comics-Related Movie/TV Show
* Captain America: The First Avenger
* Misfits
* The Big Bang Theory
* The Walking Dead
* X-Men: First Class

Comics-Related Web Site
* Bleeding Cool
* Comic Book Resources
* Comics Alliance
* Newsarama
* Zona Negativa

Magazine About Comics
* Alter Ego
* Back Issue
* Comic Heroes
* DC Comics Superhero Collection
* The Comics Journal

Roll Of Honor
* Brian Michael Bendis
* Darwyn Cooke
* Adam Hughes
* Geoff Johns
* Frank Quitely
 
posted 5:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sarah Glidden's London Sketchbook

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posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Erica Friedman reports on last weekend's MangaNEXT show. So does the CBLDF. The Fund has also run a report from Image Expo.

* if you're a publisher and you're going to have a convention bearing your name, you're probably hoping for some "reconsideration of a publisher"-type articles like this one. And here is another one. If you want more of a blow-by-blow of last weekend's Image Expo, CBR's coverage is probably the only place you're going to to get it. I can't say for sure having only looked at several dozen article instead of more than a hundred, but the general opinion on that one seems to be that it was a good-vibes show and about what'd you expect attendance-wise for a brand new effort. I wouldn't be surprised if a half-dozen publishers have shows bearing their names five years from now.

* Mark Evanier extols the virtues of WonderCon.

* finally, a bunch of SPX news. Table space is sold out. That has obvious ramifications for this year's show but probably indicates they could utilize more space if they go in that direction. (You can see the current exhibitor list here.) That same link has a look at the festival's new poster. That poster has words on it that indicate Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez will be in attendance. This is all good news. It sounds like a fine year to go to that one, and I haven't been for maybe a decade.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Charles Forsman Mashes Up ET and Garfield

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posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Bookmark Immediately: The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Blog

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New Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum hire Caitlin McGurk is apparently being put to use posting material to a new blog celebrating that institution's holdings. That is potential "the general quality of my life has just improved a noticeable bit"-level good news if you like staring at awesome scans of rare comics art and then reading about them. I mean, I assume you like such things. Does anyone not like such things?
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Sexual Ideology In The Works Of Alan Moore

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this is apparently out, but Amazon doesn't believe it's out
 
posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
The Howling Vortex Of Madness That Is Mainstream Comic Books

I wish I had a firmer grasp of the context to make smart commentary on this interview with writer Judd Winick about his Catwoman series. As I recall, negative on-line rhetoric was directed in the direction of his initial New 52 Catwoman comic book for elements of its portrayal of the lead that touched on sex obliquely in that sniggering way that entertainment featuring women but aimed at men frequently tumbles into ("whoops, the bad guys found me with my shirt unbuttoned again") and for the classic Bill Finger/Bob Kane character having what looked like fetish-y, storyline sex with another character created by Kane (and developed by Finger): superhero prime Batman.

What catches my eye in the new piece is that for the sake of a rebuttal the criticism is reduced to a blanket condemnation of the character's relative sexiness, the idea that basically these readers somehow can't handle this sexy stuff. (There's a side order of "they were totally saying that all we were going to do is dry-humping scenes from now on" which just seems silly.) Now, I wasn't totally up on the criticism the first time around, but I swear that the point of articles like these wasn't a kidney shot to the idea of sexy but that this specific portrayal and others like it were kind of really, really gross, and this cut into anything else you might be doing with the character. It was less "this sexy Catwoman has me confused and dismayed" than "I can't believe I have to hide a Catwoman comic book from my 12-year-old; although maybe I better hide it from every other woman I know, too."

It's quite the achievement to drop the subtleties from an issue that hardly has any subtleties, but there you go.
 
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If I Were Near Bologna, I'd Go To This


 
posted 1:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Three Comics Characters And Their Creators

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* The character Zatara was created by Fred Guardineer (image above by Guardineer)

*****

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* The character Stingray was created by Roy Thomas and Bill Everett (alter-ego Walter Newell) and Thomas and Marie Severin (Stingray persona) (image above by Marie Severin and Johnny Craig)

*****

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* The character Stumbo The Giant was created by Larz Bourne and Warren Kremer (image above by Kremer)

*****

This month I'm making an effort to more consistently present comics characters in relation to the men and women that created them. As a daily reminder, I'm going to post a visual of three different characters and as best as I can provide a link to each character's original creator or creators. If I screw something up,

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Buzz Dixon remembers Jan Berenstain.

image* wow, that is just a staggering number of unpublished Troop 142 pages. Like a Strider as a hobbit wearing wooden shoes amount of ultimately unused material.

* Brad Mackay on The Someday Funnies. David Berry on a bunch of different comics. Greg McElhatton on Cross Game Vol. 6. Johanna Draper Carlson on Government Issue. John Parker on The Playboy. Todd Klein on Irredeemable Vol. 6.

* do they still have things like Sharper Image? Because I really need to buy a Joker Utility Belt.

* not comics: people keep e-mailing me this photo array of 1970s rock stars with their parents.

* and you thought the new Wally Wood Artist's Edition book was big.

* there's a response from Archie CEO Jon Goldwater in this post about the Kevin Keller Vs. Activist Christian Moms story, or however you want to describe it.

* Scott Edelman ends his series of posts about character write-ups he found around the Marvel offices back in the day.

* here's an article about 12 colleges where comics are taught, which includes a short description of how they're taught. I'm not sure this is something I ever wanted to know, but it's also something about which I had little to no idea.

* hey, it's J. Chris Campbell's Neatobots!

* Andy Burns talks to Caitlin R. Kiernan. Stilts McGoon talks to the Trip City collective (1, 2). Mike Dawson talks to Box Brown. Robin McConnell talks to Jog, Matt Seneca and Tucker Stone. Colin Smith on It's A Good Life, If You Don't Weaken. Rina Ayuyang and Thien Pham talk to the great Tom Hart. A bunch of folks talk to Nick Spencer. Graeme McMillan talks to Troy Brownfield.

* I didn't know that certain fans were mad at the new Catwoman comic because Catwoman was all sexy and rash; I was under the impression they were mad because she was being kind of dim and gross. Tells you what I know.

* my favorite superhero, Gilbert Hernandez's Fortunato, never makes lists like this one.

* all the comics are going to be put onto digital, all the hard copies destroyed, and then we're going to lose the digital copies, aren't we?

* Chris Sims talks Batroc The Leaper.

* finally, Wayne Boring draws Superman.
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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