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
















March 31, 2013


Go, Look: Gil Roth Visits The Asbury Park Comic Con

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Go, Look: DC Comics Lady Superhero Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: Zunar Cartoonist

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Go, Look: Elijah Brubaker At Study Group

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Go, Look: Page Adapting A Short Scene From The Warriors

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Go, Look: Oracle-Era Barbara Gordon Art Commissions

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

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

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Go, Look: Hal Foster Tarzan Up Close

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Happy 48th Birthday, Steven T. Seagle!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Dave Lapp!

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FFF Results Post #329 -- Documentaries

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Makers You'd Love To See Starring In A Documentary About Their Life And Work."

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Jack Katz
2. Dave Sim
3. Chester Brown
4. Lewis Trondheim
5. Lynda Barry

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Michael Buntag

1. William Moulton Marston
2. Alfredo Alcala
3. Yoshihiro Tatsumi
4. Joe Sacco
5. Moto Hagio/Year 24 Group

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Winsor McCay
2. George Herriman
3. William Moulton Marston
4. Jim Steranko
5. Don Martin (but it would have to be animated)

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Tom Cherry

1. Richard Thompson
2. Pam Bliss
3. John Porcellino
4. Sergio Aragones
5. Evan Dorkin

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Justin J. Major

1. Jack Chick
2. Wm. Gaines
3. Steve Ditko
4. Neal Adams
5. Kim Deitch

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Jim Engel

* Walt Kelly
* George Herriman
* Harold Gray
* Percy Crosby
* Will Gould

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Mark Mayerson

1. Walt Kelly
2. Dick Briefer
3. Hank Ketcham
4. Dick Moores
5. Gus Arriola

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Dan Morris

1. Fort Thunder
2. Yoshihiu Tatsumi
3. Wally Wood
4. Kazuo Umezu
5. Dave Sim

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Nathaniel G. McDonald

1. Jean "Moebius" Giraud
2. Erik Larsen
3. John Byrne
4. Howard Chaykin
5. Katsuhiro Otomo

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Marc Arsenault

1. Pat Boyette
2. Jim Steranko
3. Michael Netzer
4. Shawn Kerri
5. Phoebe Gloeckner

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Shannon Smith

1) Jim Shooter
2) Joe Shuster
3) Bill Mantlo
4) Spain Rodriguez
5) Julie Doucet

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Chris Opinsky

1. Harvey Kurtzman
2. James Kochalka
3. Moto Hagio
4. Gary Panter
5. Gil Kane

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Douglas Wolk

1. Gerald Jablonski
2. Jim Steranko
3. Vince Colletta
4. Ann Nocenti
5. Jack T. Chick

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John Platt

1. Sergio Aragones
2. Ted Rall
3. Bill Griffith
4. Trina Robbins
5. Marie Severin

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Tom Bondurant

1. Jack Kirby
2. Jim Steranko
3. Jenette Kahn
4. Julius Schwartz
5. William Moulton Marston

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Marty Yohn

1. Harvey Kurtzman
2. Joe Kubert
3. Dave Sims
4. Gary Larson
5. Matt Baker

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Bob Temuka

1. Sergio Aragonés
2. Pat Mills
3. Dave Sim
4. Marie Severin
5. Jim Steranko

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Chad Hanna

1. Ben Katchor
2. Garry Trudeau
3. Don Rosa
4. Jules Feiffer
5. Eddie Campbell

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Renee French
2. Rumiko Takahashi
3. Brendan McCarthey
4. Evan Dorkin
5. John Byrne

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Jackie Estrada

* Dave Stevens
* B. Kliban
* Brecht Evens
* Al Williamson
* Sergio Aragones

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Joe Keatinge

1. Hugo Pratt
2. Justin Green
3. Little Thunder
4. Jim Steranko
5. Jack Kirby

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Scott Cederlund

1. Jim Steranko
2. Greg Rucka
3. Paul Pope
4. Moebius
5. Jessica Abel

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Rob Salkowitz

1. Jim Steranko
2. Bob Kane
3. Jim Warren
4. Alex Raymond (screenplay by Dave Sim)
5. Dwayne McDuffie

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William Burns

1. Naji al-Ali
2. Arn Saba/Katherine Collins
3. Al Capp
4. Floyd Gottfredson
5. Chester Gould

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Marc Mason

1. John Byrne
2. Lewis Trondheim
3. Berke Breathed
4. Marie Severin
5. Matt Wagner

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J.E. Cole

1 Jeffrey Catherine Jones
2 Tezuka Osamu
3 Jack Kirby
4 Joe Kubert
5 Siegel and Shuster - Any documentary about these two would have to be called "The Original Sin"

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Jim Steranko
2. Barry Windsor-Smith
3. Alex Toth
4. Marie Severin
5. Neal Adams

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Matt Emery

1. David Low
2. Yoshihiro Tatsumi
3. Ken Reid
4. Sid Scales
5. Nevile Lodge

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Buzz Dixon

1. William Moulton Marston
2. Frederico Fellini
3. Vaughn Bodé
4. Fletcher Hanks
5. George Caragonne (yeah, even though I saw this first hand...)

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Danny Ceballos

1. John Porcellino
2. Gabrielle Bell
3. Steve Ditko
4. Tom Hart
5. Grant Morrison (for sheer laffs)

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David Robertson

* Peter Bagge
* Phoebe Gloeckner
* Sydney Jordan
* James Kochalka
* Dudley D.Watkins

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Oliver Ristau

1. Howard Chaykin
2. Alex Nino
3. Hideshi Hino
4. Isabelle Emilie de Tessier (Marie Duval)
5. Phillipe Druillet

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topic from Aaron Dumin; thanks, Aaron; also, I chose not to use three that included links to current or past documentary projects, as that way lies madness, and also chose not to use one where all five answers were themselves, because gross

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March 30, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Dash Shaw Book Trailer


A Kid Reads An Aquaman Comic Book


Milton Caniff At Work


Latest Scott Stantis Video Show


Carol Tyler Speaks
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 16 to March 22, 2013:

1. The very skilled cartoonist Kuang Biao is denied access to an Internet platform for an unnerving 29th time.

2. NCS announces the divisional slate of its yearly awards, with a ton of familiar-to-comics-culture-followers names joining the usual array of worthy, hard-working people most folks like that haven't heard of, in categories like greeting cards. Two on-line categories this year.

3. WonderCon opens, and thus the convention season entire has undeniably begun. This is that show's second year in Anaheim, which will lead to speculation about the future of that show in that Los Angeles-adjacent city, as opposed to its original home in the Bay Area. There will also be a lot of publishing announcements.

Winner Of The Week
Dave Whamond

Loser Of The Week
Anyone thinking of running an event near SPX to handle exhibitor overflow, as the independent-oriented show adds space for about 80 more.

Quote Of The Week
"I want to apologize for the inflammatory comments I made on Twitter a few nights ago. I was stung by an accusation made about a character -- i.e., that the point of view expressed by a fictional character in a book I write revealing me to be a racist. It was late at night, my feelings were hurt, and I lashed out in anger without thinking things through. I'm deeply sorry for my unfortunate choice of words and any offense taken to them." -- writer Rick Remender

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today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

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Go, Visit: Domitille Collardey's Temporary Site

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

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If I Were Near Asbury Park, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Happy 50th Birthday, Gary Chaloner!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Forg!

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Happy 56th Birthday, David Hagen!

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March 29, 2013


Friday Distraction #3 -- More Girl Scouts Making Mini-Comics

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i'd run these every friday if i could; also, nice new blog design at the Billy Ireland
 
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Friday Distraction #2 -- Johnny Ryan On Marriage Equality

Well, it made me laugh. All "because it's Johnny Ryan"-related warnings apply.
 
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Friday Distraction #1 -- Two New Yorker Cartoonists Visit Art Of Harvey Kurtzman Exhibit

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Go, Look: Negative Emotions

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Go, Read: A Pair Of Profiles Of Arab Spring-Related Cartoonists

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There are two edifying profiles up right now of cartoonists who have come to greater international attention because of their work in and around the Arab Spring movement, or at least the spotlight on that region of the world and its cartoon-makers that the sprawling news event has facilitated. Medea Benjamin profiles Dooa Eladl, whose work is funny and strong and immediately graspable by western audiences, which I don't find is always the case with Middle Eastern cartoonists. It's hard not to admire the statement of absolute certainty in the value of one's work that concludes that article. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation's coverage of Fumetto yields this article, where they profile two cartoonists in their 30s: Lena Merhej and Mohamed Shennawy.
 
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Go, Look: The Spider Man

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Go, Read: David Weigel On The Norm Augustinus Drone Cartoon

There's a piece up at Slate by David Weigel that discusses claims by Norm Augustinus that a cartoon he did on the use of drones made him a target of secret service attention, with one supposes the implication being that there was less of an interest in the cartoon as a legitimate threat against elected officials than a desire to a) intimidate the cartoonist away from certain kinds of speech, b) protect the administration from Augustinus' claims of harassment, c) something nebulous and maybe even darker about the drone program and its importance to some set of political aims held by the current White House. You should read it if that kind of thing interests you. I think Weigel plays it correctly: it's at least interesting in terms of a certain political mindset, and the charges being made are nasty enough that if someone is willing go on the record making them they should be taken seriously enough to report.
 
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Go, Read: Matt Huynh

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Exploring Copyright 101 With A Missouri Politician

A brief news article here about a Missouri politician using an Adam Zyglis cartoon and then taking it down when informed you can't just do that may be worth noting if you're as interested in I am about the lack of a grasp of general principles of copyright generally. I still think it's pretty clear that you can't use someone else's content unless it's contextually important as the subject of a piece, and even then that can't be a platform for over-use. I could be wrong, but I've operated from a belief that says I could, for instance, use the Zyglis cartoon in question here because this is a story about that cartoon in a way the politician couldn't just republish it, or someone else couldn't just use it to illustrate whatever political point it illustrates. The idea that you can use whatever you google is an interesting one both because it reflects a core belief that a lot of smart people have, and because it's an operating truth for a lot of people that don't have a sophisticated set of thoughts on the matter. The explosion of Tumblr kind of puts these issues back on the table.
 
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Go, Look: Fuck You, Liz Prince

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Go, Read: Stefan Kanfer Profiles George Herriman

imageThe writer Stefan Kanfer offers up a hugely solid profile of George Herriman and Krazy Kat here. I'm so grateful to have all of the published Herriman material of recent years in my modest comics library. I think those are beautiful comics, richly funny, and the part of my brain that processes comics as a series of impulses and hunches feels that you can look at Krazy Kat and draw a direct line between it and all of the comics since that have stressed an idiosyncratic mode of personal expression over other creative strategies. It's always worth reading about Herriman. It was nice to see the article mention the Top 100 issue of The Comics Journal as one of the cultural signposts for the strip as it's remembered. Although it was released into a completely different context than the one I believed would exist for it, that list stands up okay, I think.

thanks, Gil Roth
 
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Go, Look: Craig Carlson

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Festivals Extra: WonderCon Launches Today

I remain semi-fascinated by the fact that the traditional Spring show WonderCon has just sort of decamped to southern California for a couple of years as a result of a kind of rambling dispute with convention infrastructure officials in its traditional home, San Francisco. A lot of the reaction to that bit of news depends on seeing one side or another as acting in bad faith: that city and convention center officials in San Francisco should in the interest of basic reason be much more solicitous of WonderCon's needs, or, conversely, that WonderCon engineered the whole thing in order to get a convention going in Anaheim. I don't think either stance reflects the truth. I think the first is a strategic choice and the second is Comic-Con strongest play in response. In fact, I hope things work out for Comic-Con to stay in Anaheim, whether by adding a fourth show, by keeping WonderCon where it is this weekend for the near-future, or by keeping the Anaheim show and revamping APE into a broader convention. I don't think they have any plans in any direction; I'm just talking about my personal preference: it would be nice to be able to count on a big mainstream-oriented Southern California show, and one hopes this might even in the long term trigger an alt-show of some kind in LA proper. But with WonderCon, the thing is I think CCI's collective skill-set is such that they're the best people to put a convention on in Anaheim the Spring before a summer movie season, and that unlike many of the other candidates for putting on a show of that size and scope they remain comics-interested, so that should remain a core of such a show. Los Angeles is also super-convenient in a way that San Francisco is not, which in the years to come will be a bigger and bigger deal.

Anyhow, for comics fans that might want to spend a day over there -- not Saturday, which is apparently sold out -- or have already purchased tickets, I'd recommend the traditional Quick Draw! panel, the Jeff Smith spotlight and Smith's panel with Terry Moore. I'd attend the Elfquest anniversary panel, too, although whether or not you go to that one I imagine is already something you know walking in the doors. Jeff Smith is there promoting this Fall's RASL color hardcover, and he's a friendly, articulate panel presence that tends to speak his mind. Oh, and I also enjoy the comics made by the writer Jeff Parker, who will be talking to Pat Loika along with the talented artists Gabriel Hardman. There are Comics Arts Conference presentations, which can be dry for a lot of people but are usually fun for the subject matter of individual presentations and the fact that they tend to feature folks that you don't see on a lot of other panels. I'd enjoy hearing other views on Matt Kindt, for instance.

My personal memory of WonderCon in San Francisco is that it's a strong show to see original art and to buy from the dealers that specialize in that work, but in Anaheim I'm not as certain.
 
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Go, Look: Lucky (The Tumblr Version)

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Jeff Parker will write a digital comics effort focused on the Batman from the 1960s television show Batman. That seems like it should be an interesting test of what kind of impact a well-known, accessible comic with some broader marketing muscle behind it can have digitally. Jonathan Case will provide art; Michael Allred will do covers. I like all of those creators, and while I like the idea of 1960s Batman more than I ever like sitting through more than a few minutes of the television show, I think that'd be a fun milieu to explore.

image* this site will note elsewhere it's the cartoonist Kevin Huizenga's birthday. He has a lot of the Bona work up on-line and offers up an intriguing digital profile generally if you poke around.

* I'm still sort of totally fascinated by how content-aggressive Marvel's overall digital strategy seems to be, if only glimpsed through things like their regular discounting of serial comics event series and other things that might relate to their ongoing "story." It's sort of like stumbling across some TV show you meant to watch but didn't quite get to, for the price of a couple of coffees.

* I wonder if that's the model, if we're not seeing a model now, for all that there are additional models to come. That would be, roughly: 1) new mainstream comics at prices equivalent to the books on the stands; 2) heavy and aggressive discounting of material in some sort of strategic way if possible to drive people to new material; 3) big chunks of material offered at an even more aggressive price point from the publishers themselves, although that one is still in development. That seems like a working strategy moving forward, at least in the short terms as consumption habits continue to evolve. It's not going to be a really evangelistic strategy if it stays that way, or at least not one with the ability to catch fire. I always sort of suspected that to stay away from 99 cents as a standard comic-book price point, despite the howls that this had to be the way to do it, might end up being a strength for at least the short-term: it allows for discounting strategies, and it doesn't lock the publishers into a lower price point moving forward. I'm sure other disagree with all of that, in strident terms.

* I like the site enough to do a "go look" on it sooner rather than later, but I thought it was interesting how Matt Huynh presented his comics work there.

* finally: Gary Tyrrell, whose blog is like an actually good version of this column posted every single damn day, has a couple of fine posts about webcomics people enjoying massive success through crowdfunding here and here.
 
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If I Were In Anaheim, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Plume

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Gavin Jasper and Chris Sims take a look at a recent DC Comics videogame tie-in comics, Injustice: Gods Among Us. I actually read an issue of the comic in question and found it intriguing in the sense that the videogame audience is an audience DC is very, very much interested in bringing on board.

* Kiel Phegley talks to Jim Rugg. You know, you saw those two guys talking in a bar and you'd think it was a meeting of the Young Republicans Club. Those are two upstanding young men, with respectable haircuts.

* so I guess this find a comic book shop feature on the CBR home page is new. I like comic book shops.

* Sean T. Collins on Cold Heat.

* this fascinating-looking book is apparently out now, although it may not be officially out-out until it debuts first at MoCCA and then at TCAF.

* there's a bunch of cool-looking Chris Ware art here. Couldn't tell you exactly what the hell that is, though. Ditto this, except the art part.

* comics that react directly to pop culture is the most underrated legacy of comics on-line.

* finally, Richard Sala makes great characters.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Val Mayerik!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Mort Drucker!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Jack Elrod!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Kevin Huizenga!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Marc Silvestri!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Dan Wright!

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March 28, 2013


Go, Look: Short Comics By Sam Alden

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By Request Special: Jason Lutes Seeks Crowd-Funding

imageI haven't seen a whole lot of the classic generations of alternative and post-alternative cartoonists take to crowd-funding mechanisms quite yet. The one that comes to mind is Dave Lasky seeking extra funding to complete the Carter Family book with Frank Young, but even that is a bit different than someone taking to those mechanisms in order to facilitate a book. Rich Tommaso, too, did one. I'm probably forgetting something obvious -- or several somethings obvious -- but I think it's still safe to say that that crowd hasn't really taken to those mechanisms quite yet.

The lack of easy-to-remember alternative comics artists making books this way is the primary reason I noticed when Jason Lutes sent along word of this group project he's working on. The educator and artist is about as solid an alt-comix citizen as there is. Moreover, it's an experimental project growing out of his work at Center For Cartoon Studies. And it's already done. So maybe check that one out. I'll try to remember to include it in the regular "By Request" column.
 
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Go, Look: The Devils Of Tajumulco

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Also It's Weird To Call Superheroes By Their First Names

Marvel's use of X-Men related imagery and concepts as potentially valuable tools in getting at nuances of racism, classism, sexism and homophobia has a generated a couple of posts on other sites -- here and here -- and likely a lot of well-meaning, agitated comments threads of the potentially high-traffic variety. The only thing that pops into my head when I hear about stuff like that is that these are really broad metaphors at best, and a first-class ticket to the Land Of Stupid at worst. As someone in an old TCJ interview stated, marrying whomever one loves isn't really the same as fighting robots at the Mall with the laser beams that fire out of your face, so you have to be careful drawing equivalencies. I do think broad, poppy metaphors have a place and are sometimes very useful rhetorical tools, particularly with young people, but they're rarely as all-encompassing as some folks seem to believe, nor do they reward rigorous application and study the way some people assert they can.
 
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Go, Look: Awesome 1960s Fan Artwork From Linda Pardee

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* it's all about WonderCon. WonderCon, WonderCon, WonderCon. If you're a small-press person you may be thinking about MoCCA or FLUKE, but for the bulk of the traditional comics world, it's all about Anaheim for the next four to five days. I think that's a good place for that show long-term, I really do, and it's a place at a time of the year I'd be interested in seeing them develop. People sometimes run down Anaheim, but I was in Seattle several weeks ago and I swear that convention could have taken place in Anderson, Indiana, for as much as most of the professionals in attendance left the convention center and immediate-area hotels. I'm not sure about everything that's going to be there, but I know that Jeff Smith is making the trip and will be showing off full-color pages from RASL.

image* the second iteration of the The Projects show has announced for August 23. This is the teaser poster. August/September in the Pacific Northwest is beautiful.

* the other talked-about show of the weekend is the Asbury Park Comic Con, which is quickly becoming a model show for quirky, small comics shows run by folks more for love of having such an event than dreams of Comic-Con cash down the road. I'd love to see that one someday, and if anyone sees CR pal Gil Roth down that way this weekend, please be nice to him.

* speaking of which, this FLUKE poster is super-pretty. It's stick it at the bottom of this post pretty.

* I also liked this Portland Zine Symposium poster.

* here's a Mega-Con report. That mainstream-focused show is extremely well-liked by its regular professional attendees, although it's never quite captured the imagination of a bunch of people the way that some of the other long-running regional cons have. At least not to my mind. I've read people say that the Orland-based show suffers a bit from neglect by the comics press. I don't know if that's true or not, but I think these things catch on and ride waves independent of the comics commentariat. Sounds like a nice show, anyway, and if I lived nearby I'm sure I'd be hugely grateful for its existence. Just as a comics fan I'm pretty grateful.

* The Beat caught word of the formation of a convention for Long Island. I would think Long Island could use its own convention, sure. We are going to see a ton of conventions announced in the next 24 months, as people try this out. I hope that the good ones survive, and that the bad ones crumble without hurting anyone.

* Pat Oliphant will be honored at this year's AAEC convention. It sure was fun to sit in the audience with Richard Thompson and watch Oliphant draw in charcoal a couple of San Diego Cons ago.

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

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Go, Look: A 1962 Paul Reinman Comic

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Michael Cavna has responses to this years NCS Reubens slate. I'm not sure I'd seen this year's poster.

image* Jason Azzopardi on The Secret Science Alliance And The Copycat Crook. Greg Burgas on Calling Dr. Laura. Bruce Canwell on Al Capp: A Life To The Contrary.

* one thing I'd love to see in the future is more scene-specific comics blogs -- kind of like this one on the Houston arts scene by Robert Boyd, but only about comics.

* not comics: I always wondered why I remember watching some classic TV shows under a different name: Mark Evanier says it's because it was the network re-running them under a different name. Or at least that could be it. Thanks, Mark Evanier.

* Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner profile Robert Kirkman.

* here are a couple of rejected Iron Man covers by Paul Hornschemeier.

* not comics: Martin Wisse on the Anne McCaffrey dragon books as seminal fantasy prose, or at least whatever you'd call their blend of fantasy and science fiction. I think he's right, but I actually think he undersells those core trilogies, which I think are pretty great for smart kids and teens. There are a bunch of reasons, including but not limited to: McCaffrey's prose is ideally suited for younger readers, straight-forward and no-fuss; the plots are reasonably complex without being over-challenging in terms of adult themes, the Harper Hall trilogy is where I first discovered the boarding-school fantasy that the Harry Potter books utilize to even greater effect, and the good-guy/bad-guy elements are interesting in that the biggest threat is environmental rather than all-encompassing, directed evil. I was also fascinated by the fact that the two trilogies kind of wove in and out of each other, and by the concept of a civilization that declined rather than progressed. I'm very grateful to have read those books in my tweens.

* missed it: advice to a young cartoonist.

* Josh Bayer writes on getting in Derf's contribution to Suspect Device #3.

* I'm not sure where I got this link using the newly-announced all-female X-Men lineup to springboard into a fashion illustration featuring the various characters and their styles, but it was enjoyable, so here.

* finally, here's a column devoted to gimmick covers and the like, and the comics that boasted them. That seems as good a way as any to get into the comic books of the 1990s.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Thomas Scioli!

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March 27, 2013


Go, Bookmark: The Longbox Project

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Small Press Expo Adds Tables To Deal With Exhibitor Demand

Warren Bernard's note is here. To be honest with you, I didn't even know there was room to expand the ballroom space, but I'm terrible at paying attention to my surroundings that way. That does mean the Big Fall Feel-Good Small Press Show Of The Moment is full up this year and moving forward, at least in that space (and no other space suggests itself, as far as I know, and even if one did I'm not sure they'd want to mess with their current wave of success). The reason this wasn't done right away, apparently, was that the Expo is wary of simply adding tables ahead of a drawing an audience that will support the extra people with stuff to display. So this is something of a calculated risk. The ability of a show like that develop an audience for what it does is something that doesn't get talked about so much, but it's obviously a huge key if not the primary factor for the success/failure of such shows, period.
 
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Go, Look: Afrodisiac Cover Mini-Gallery

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On Digitizing The WWI Cartoons Of JM Staniforth

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I enjoyed this article on an allotment of money being made available to digitize 1300 World War I-era cartoons from the Welsh cartoonist JM Staniforth, even though I'm slightly confused as to why it takes $105,000 USD to digitize a bunch of comics and wonder what the bidding process there was. That aside, it's great to have as much work being preserved in as many channels as possible. Paper preservation is even more important, I think, and one can argue that in many ways paper is even more secure and a better return on investment giving the rapid changes that digital models and storage options are still rifling through. But digital is good, too. Staniforth is an interesting subject, and perfect for showing how cartoonists at one point were a real force when it came to distinguishing papers and how crusades by cartoonists can have an effect on history -- if only social and local. His work is frequently gorgeous.
 
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Go, Look: Anne Of Cleves Gables

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Statues Of Cartoonists Alert: Bil Keane Fundraising Deadline

Comics fans and the good citizens of Paradise Valley, Arizona have until April 30 to raise the rest of the money necessary to fund a statue honoring the late Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane, this feature article notes. There's a good photo of what is planned here, which seems to stand against the claim the article that the family's mother is included. Here is the place to donate. It doesn't sound all-the-way dire if the fundraising effort falls short -- it sounds like officials will just reload for another shot at it down the line, although one would guess that eventually the statue is either funded or not and the two-year anniversary of Keane's death on this November 8 sounds like a likely time when the whole thing will either be finished or reconsidered.

This site is all for statuary featuring cartoonists and/or their work, especially in this case where one might expected a much cheaper project involving painted footprints.

Keane lived in that area of the country for the bulk of his professional life.
 
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Go, Look: Girls Of Monster Paradise

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Go, Read: Zack Soto On International Postage Rate Increases

There's a fun and I think -- as far as I can ever tell with these things -- public discussion on Facebook instigated by Study Group publisher Zack Soto on the recent rate hikes in International mail and how this would seem to have a big effect on those small-press publishers that sell material overseas. The converse is also true, of course: that fans of North American comics not in North America that like to order stuff directly from publishers will also feel the impact of these significant price increases. The interesting parts are 1) that Soto was taken by surprise after soliciting orders just how severe those increases are, and 2) there may not be any good way around just charging more money or adding more material to orders and hope that people are still interested.

In a way, this sort of reminds me of the continuing high costs of travel in the post-9/11 world and how this may be the only thing keeping the system of festivals and cons from being a constant, ongoing option for capital-light cartoonists. As is the case with the travel costs, it's not like this has kept those cons and festivals from thriving, and I'm not sure that postal rate increases will damage anyone's business to the point of no return. But it is a factor, and it puts on display the sometimes delicate web of ways that comics get sold.
 
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Go, Look: Rodrigo Baeza

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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.

*****

DEC121218 BLACK PATHS HC GN (MR) $24.95
If you go to the comics shop to buy original (at least to you) work from world-class talent, I would imagine that a stand-alone book from the visually powerful David B. published by SelfMadeHero would qualify. I would buy this without a comic book store showing it to me, and I would pick it up and look at it after I bought the thing, even.

imageJAN131405 DAVE SIM CONVERSATIONS HC $40.00
My giant 1996 interview with Dave Sim that ran in The Comics Journal is in here. I don't own that interview, and Fantagraphics has a good relationship with the series of interview books with which this is a part. I hope I get to see it someday! At any rate, not a lot of my interviews are republished in this way, so I'm looking forward to seeing this interview myself. I remember doing that interview in a way that I don't remember doing a lot of the others I've done. I was in an apartment in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle and at the end of our talk I told Sim, "I hope you feel that went well." And he said, "You mean you hope I think that went well." True story. He was very nice to me during that interview, though, and I liked the result. Those interview books are usually pretty entertaining.

NOV120033 HUSBANDS HC (MR) $14.99
I don't know anything about the content of this story, but as I recall this was a digital-driven serial offering that now hopes to find an audience with a print edition in hardcover. We need all of the models that work we can put our hands on, and Dark Horse has done some interesting things on-line for as much as they're also invested in super-traditional ways of publishing comics.

NOV120029 NEXUS OMNIBUS TP VOL 02 $24.99
I'm a big fan of the Steve Rude-drawn, Mike Baron-written superhero comic from (primarily) the 1980s and 1990s, although I think it's perfect form is still the original serial comic books. Those are pretty easy to attain, too, at least as far as it's easy to pick up comic books. Your shelving proclivities may differ.

NOV120419 LOAC ESSENTIALS HC VOL 02 GUMPS SAGA MARY GOLD $19.99
This run of books from the Library Of American Comics with a kind of get-in, get-out strategy as opposed to completist archiving seems perfectly matched to a few, key runs from The Gumps. That could be an amazing strip when it was going, but it's also one that doesn't necessarily always communicate to modern readers even of the kind that might buy a book of old strips.

JAN131275 JOHNNY BOO HC VOL 05 DOES SOMETHING $9.95
I enjoy James Kochalka's comics generally, and this series features his work a) when it's silly and intended for kids, b) in color, so count me in. I've known parents with really little kids for whom this series hit a sweet spot in the 2-4 years old range.

JAN131250 JUDGE DREDD ORIGINS TP (MR) $19.99
I'm sure Jog over at TCJ has an awesome, funny, and to-other-writers discouraging write-up of exactly what this book entails, but over here you'll just have to settle for a facile observation that this is a more modern version of classic 1970s/1980s Judge Dredd saga-making, and a suggestion that this may even be a good jumping-on point if you've wanted to get back into that material during its recent resurgence but weren't sure where to start. John Wagner's had an amazing career as a comics scriptwriter, and he's never been better than the last five or six years. I would certainly check this out in a store.

JAN130076 BPRD VAMPIRE #1 $3.50
JAN130103 MISTER X HARD CANDY ONE SHOT $2.99
This is the Dark Horse set of three distinct serial comic-book offering in stores today. The BPRD work is generally very strong mainstream comics work -- both involving as a reflection of a rich, pulp, narrative tapestry and as a stand-alone series of stories with clear storytelling signposts. I have no doubt this one will add to that respectable tradition-in-the-making. The Mister X material is I believe series creator Dean Motter, not the best cartoonist to work on this series over the years but the driving force and the best comics-maker for that material. I saw but didn't read the story when it appeared in small, serial chunks, but I look forward to catching up now.

DEC120562 FATALE #13 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
OCT120469 MORNING GLORIES #25 (MR) [DIG] $3.99
This is the little Image stack I'd make in a comics shop today. The Morning Glories is a kind of a finale to the first, extended storyline; that book has done really well sales-wise over the last few years, and even though it has lost some of its currency -- particularly when compared to outright phenomena like Walking Dead and -- the fans of the book are still out there. I love the recent dive into the past that Fatale has taken, as there's an untethered, crazy quality that isn't quite there when the story is bound to more traditional genre elements. Plus it's fun to watch Sean Phillips come up with visual solutions in multiple genres.

JAN130637 AGE OF ULTRON #3 $3.99
JAN130642 GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #1 NOW $3.99
JAN138150 HAWKEYE #1 5TH PTG AJA VAR $2.99
I'm not sure that I'd buy any of the Marvel comic books here, but it's a trio worth noting for other reasons. The Age Of Ultron book is their current "event" comic, and how those do is always worth following just in terms of these companies chasing a pretty fickle readership in the context of lots and lots of similar efforts. The Guardians Of The Galaxy title may not just be the latest book to sort of roughly tie in to a future movie project but one that is key to the ongoing, underlying storytelling shift at the company. And it's nice to see that nice little Hawkeye book push into a fifth printing. That means it's actually selling through stores.

NOV121031 LEONARD STARRS MARY PERKINS ON STAGE TP VOL 01 NEW ED $21.95
Leonard Starr draws better than all but a few artists you're likely to find in your funnybook shop today, and I adore the fact that these books exists. My mom loves them, too.

JAN131158 OLYMPIANS GN VOL 05 POSEIDON EARTH SHAKER $9.99
This series has done pretty well, it seems; love the price point, and there's not a lot of work out there for that specific boy-driven-but-not-entirely-boys audience.

NOV120942 GLENN FABRY SKETCHBOOK SC LTD REMARKED ED (MR) $75.00
I would imagine this is gorgeous; I don't know much about it, but I'd certainly take a look unless it were back behind the counter. I would still want to look at it if it were behind the counter, I'm just shy.

JAN130371 COMPLETE ZAUCER OF ZILK $6.99
IDW continues to hammer out a place for independent work from super-talented comics picture-makers and artists to emerge after 1980 with this one, a collection of the 2012 series and probably the only place where you'll see the adjective "glammatronic" applied. Seriously, you have no soul if you don't at least look this one over. That's a great price point for 80 pages.

*****

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 because I hate you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: 27 Comics That Came Out 20 Years Ago

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Go, Look: Sal Buscema Avengers-Era Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Bob Temuka on The Adventures Of Captain Sunshine. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Ark and Pluto. Rob Kirby on a bunch of new comics. Gabe Roth on Omega The Unknown. Rob Clough on Graphic Classics: Mark Twain. Sean T. Collins on Ant Comic. Sean Gaffney on Welcome To The Erotic Bookstore Vol. 1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various picture-books. Henry Chamberlain on The Activity. Johanna Draper Carlson on 21st Century Boys Vol. 2. Colm Creamer on Wolverine And Jubilee.

* here's a much linked-to article on the digital comics reading habits of young people, and why they're not exactly up to speed with what was imagined for that market at one point.

* Andy Burns talks to Joe Keatinge. Bill Baker talks to Eric R. Gignac. Chris Mautner talks to Rina Ayuyang.

* not comics: Glen Weldon reviews a recent staging of the Superman musical. I'm sort of obsessed with 1960s musicals, because there were so damn many of them, and I have to say that I never thought much of this one. Then again, neither did Weldon until he saw it on its feet.

* Eduardo Risso draws a Blade Runner-related commission.

* not sure I was totally aware that Columbia scored the Harvey Pekar scripts. That's an interesting thing to have in academia's hands.

* I had totally forgotten that Matt Groening scored a Spin cover before having done The Simpsons -- at least as its own TV show.

* finally, Lisa Hanawalt explains her process.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Ivan Brandon!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Hy Eisman!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Mike Friedrich!

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March 26, 2013


Missed It: Tony Millionaire Mini-Gallery

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NCS Announces 2013 Slate Of Divisional Nominees

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The National Cartoonists Society has announced the divisional nominees for its 2013 awards program, known as The Reubens. That program is in its 67the year. The following cartoonists and projects will join already-named Brian Crane, Rick Kirkman and Stephan Pastis, who will be competing in the Outstanding Cartoonist Of The Year category, the winning of which is considered winning "The Reuben."

There are familiar names galore in the comic book and graphic novel categories; there are two on-line comics categories this year as well.

Television Animation
* Todd Kauffman, Executive Producer -- Sidekick
* Alberto Mielgo, Production Design -- Tron: Uprising
* Rich Webber, Director -- Aardman Animation Studios, DC Nation

Feature Animation
* Rich Moore, Director -- Wreck-It Ralph
* Joann Sfar, Director -- The Rabbi's Cat
* Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Director -- The Secret World of Arrietty

Newspaper Illustration
* Mark Brewer
* Bob Rich
* Dave Whamond

Gag Cartoons
* Roz Chast
* Sam Gross
* Mick Stevens
* Jack Ziegler

Greeting Cards
* Bill Brewer
* George Schill
* Jem Sullivan

Newspaper Comic Strips
* Brian Basset -- Red and Rover
* Jeff Parker and Steve Kelley -- Dustin
* Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman -- Zits

Newspaper Panel Cartoons
* Tony Carrillo -- F-Minus
* Dave Coverly -- Speed Bump
* Hilary Price -- Rhymes with Orange

Online Comics -- Short Form
* Graham Harrop -- "Ten Cats"
* Jonathan Lemon -- "Rabbits Against Magic"
* Michael McParlane -- "Mac"

Online Comics -- Long Form
* Vince Dorse -- Untold Tales of Bigfoot
* Meredith Gran -- Octopus Pie
* Pat N. Lewis -- Muscles Diablo: Where the Terror Lurks

Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration
* Barry Blitt
* Daryll Collins
* Anton Emdin

Book Illustration
* John Manders
* John Martz
* Dave Whamond

Editorial Cartoons
* Clay Bennett
* Michael de Adder
* Jen Sorensen

Advertising And Product Illustration
* Luke McGarry
* Ed Steckley
* Wayno

Comic Books
* Amanda Conner -- Silk Spectre
* Evan Dorkin -- House of Fun
* Bernie Wrightson -- Frankenstein Alive, Alive!

Graphic Novels
* Derf -- My Friend Dahmer
* Joseph Lambert -- Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller
* Chris Ware -- Building Stories

If you want to play "read the nominations like tea leaves" there's probably some fun stuff in there for you. It looks like the Dustin creators should move into Reuben consideration sooner rather than later. I wonder if there could be an opportunity for someone like Chris Ware to be considered in future years as well. There's also a continuing trend of alt-cartoonists in the editorial cartooning awards consideration arena, with Jen Sorensen crashing that category here.
 
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Go, Look: Batman Year One Re-Colored

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CMP: Chinese Cartoonist Sees 29th Internet-Access Suspension

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There's not much to the actual story of cartoonist Kuang Biao having another account suspended by -- one has to believe -- Chinese authorities, but it's a story worth tracking if only that the cartoonist has gotten back on 28 times after being booted. You gotta root for someone like that, as well as more generally the idea of a cartoonist having basic access to potential readers. Biao is probably best known for a 2010 cartoon in support of a fellow journalist, which led to a formal reprimand and fine.
 
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Not Comics: Galaxie Gallery

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Will Remaining Newspaper Readers And Media Consumers Generally Be Open To Certain Kinds Of Rhetoric?

I know that I'm reading way too much into this letter about Michael Ramirez and his editorial cartoons, but I was struck by the phrase that the person wanted a conservative cartoonist, just one that didn't come across as so nasty. I've noticed this come up a lot with conservative pundits and thinkers, that there's an element of intolerable lack of charity in the way that their arguments and beliefs are presented, which I have to think is going to shape political cartooning as that field becomes less and less institutionalized and therefore I think more susceptible to the broader marketplace. It also of course makes me think there'd be a market for someone that solved that particular set of riddles in how to make work that operated on that level, but that's always been the case.
 
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Go, Look: Cranberry Boggs And Don Dean

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the strip; the cartoonist
 
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Missed It: Aussie Cartoonist Booted From Upper House

Here's a story I missed about something I didn't know. So apparently in Australia the Upper House of their legislature establishes rule through their president for the way media access for work. One of those rules is that you're not allowed to depict politicians unless they're standing up, which I take to mean that they're doing official business or on the record -- or something similar, the important point being the distinction made, not the nature of the distinction. At any rate, a cartoonist violated that and was asked to leave. Perhaps the truly astonishing part of the story is that a cartoonist was doing this sort of work in the first place, which I take as a reflection of Australia's rich editorial cartooning culture and a corresponding value placed on having someone in the position to cover legislative activities with drawings on paper.
 
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Go, Look: George Kambadais

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* it's been about two full weeks since SelfMadeHero made their formal announcement of an April 26 publication date on Rembrandt. I hope they'll forgive me. That looks worth noting, so I figure late is better than not at all.

image* if you're like me and the fun of stumbling across brand new or nearly brand new talents -- at least to you -- making comics is a big part of the fun of following comics, then this is the kind of link that is perfectly suited for you.

* here's a letter from Jim Rugg about his new project, Supermag. He seems really intent on working with the shops in the ways he can work with the shops, so I hope there's some reciprocal interest shops to Rugg.

* there have been some strange goings-on at DC Comics in terms of its talent and assignments on key books, probably worth noting. In fact, it's probably worth taking a step back and reminding ourselves that pretty soon that company's two acknowledged A-list writers, Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns, will be off of the solo titles for which they've been most recently known, books featuring the Superman, Batman and Green Lantern characters. Both will continue to do plenty of work for the company. Still, I would imagine that this could be a bigger deal than was acknowledged even as those individual announcements were made: it's a tough marketplace, it's one that doesn't necessarily find a lot of sales strength in companies and characters by themselves, and a continuing criticism of DC post-New 52 is that they don't have a deep talent bench of the kind that may be necessary to cover the multitude of assignments that their line continues to make available. There was subsequently a bit of drama over two solid writers leaving vacated titles before they even got going, titles made available by the aforementioned Johns and Morrison departures: Josh Fialkov on one of the Green Lantern-related books; Andy Diggle on one of the Superman books. The Diggle one I think remains something of a mystery to even close watchers of that material, while the Fialkov one is believed to be related to an editorial directive revolving the death of one of the characters. That character-death, with fans since assured this will not happen, is its own little story, but I think the whole thing is potentially more interesting as a sign of just how significantly controlled from editorial a lot of DC's titles may be. A called-for character death in a comic book isn't some actor being unreliable, or even sleeping with the producer's wife: it's a pure storytelling decision, and the kind of thing you think would be left to the creators, not forced upon them.

* I quite like the presentation here of a forthcoming book by John Broadley.

* it looks like Nick Abadzis has something in the works.

* here's a new poster in support of the Tune series.

* finally, Wired has a preview of Janet Hamlin's Sketching Guantanamo, due this Fall.

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

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Go, Look: A George Tuska Sports Comic

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this picture of superheroes by Lisa Hanawalt may be the finest piece of art ever created.

image* I missed these shots of Wally Wood and friends at a 1968 EC Fan-Addicts Convention.

* Jack Krak is indeed the motherfucker.

* Tony Salmons draws the Hulk.

* Nick Gazin reviews a bunch of comics and shows off a lot of cool-looking art, in the latest installment of his long-running review column.

* Noel Murray appreciates Chris Claremont and the major Chris Claremont-scripted stories like Days Of Future Past.

* I'm not sure I know what's going on here, where it seems like you'd have basically no familiarity with the characters in a way that you'd need to for the sorting function of one of those fake tournament set-ups to kick in. Or maybe not, maybe people are filled with affection for these characters and pitting them "against" one another will clarify the nature of that bond. I've seen stranger things happen.

* OK.

* finally, a Gasoline Alley classic.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Mark Verheiden!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Greg McElhatton!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Bill Kartalopoulos!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mitch O'Connell!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

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Happy 60th Birthday, David Boswell!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Brian Bolland!

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March 25, 2013


Go, Look: Ginette Lapalme

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Go, Read: Mike Lynch On Under-Selling Your Work

Mike Lynch chimes in on the recent work-for-free discussions by noting that one way that cartoonists and other creative people are routinely asked to place a steep discount on their services is through the assumption of rights at the moment of acquisition that don't really have anything to do with the actual transaction taking place. As Lynch notes, if your rights are worth enough for someone to want them, they're worth enough for you to ask that you be paid for them, no matter what those rights in question may be.
 
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Go, Look: My Morning Sketch

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Simon Moreton is raising money through original art sales and commissioned artwork. Here's another such person raising funds for future projects.

* one thing I like about crowd-funding is I do feel I'm hearing about more comics than I would have otherwise, like this one: Ashes.

* good to see veteran comics-maker JT Dockery meet his goal with a crowd-funder.

* here are some other projects with names I recognize: Mark Sable, Ryan Standfest and Nate Fakes.

* this post on how to help the writer Peter David is still on top of his well-trafficked site, which I take to mean any help you'd be willing to provide would still be appreciated. Mr. David suffered a stroke late in 2012.

* finally, it's always a good thing to buy things being offered by tried-and-true small press talents. You know they'll use it for necessary things, and they have a long history of making comics as one of those necessary things. There is no better person, no artist with a better track record, than the great John Porcellino. I look forward to the mental-Internet when I can just send John a couple of bucks every time I think to.
 
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If I Were In Leeds, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Frankenstein #6

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* if I were going to do a best-of 20th Century comics at this point, I'd try and consider the film parodies at MAD. It's amazing that even at this late age I'm still seeing movie I was certain I'd seen before but really I only saw the parody in MAD.

image* Urs Bellermann profiles Chris Ware. Padraig O Mealoid talks to Eddie Campbell. Sasha Fields profiles SAW.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco calls bullshit on Aquaman's lady-impersonating abilities.

* Mitchell Hooks, RIP.

* I quite like this image.

* Raina Telgemeier is a star.

* Jeffrey O. Gustafson reviews a bunch of new comics and a pair of Tintin albums. John Kane writes on a bunch of comics, and a bunch of different comics. Rob Clough on a bunch of different graphic-novel efforts from several years ago. J. Caleb Mozzocco on DC Super Friends.

* not comics: Gil Roth vs. the GQ 21st Century prose mini-canon.

* love for Portland's Reading Frenzy.

* Joe Shuster was penniless in the early 1950s.

* finally, Alex Buchet writes about the Al Plastino Option on Peanuts, and even reprints some of the Plastino comics, if you've never seen them.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Anthony Woodward!

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March 24, 2013


Go, Read: Seth's Inaugural Doug Wright Awards Speech, 2005

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Eventually Everything Turns Into San Diego Comic-Con

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some poor lady in a glass box promoting the movie Species 3, San Diego Comic-Con 2004

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the actor Tilda Swinton in a glass box for an art installation-type project, MOMA 2013
 
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Go, Read: Five Insane Moments From Indian Comic Books

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

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If I Were Near One Of These Events, I'd Go To It

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If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 37th Birthday, Gabrielle Bell!

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FFF Results Post #328 -- Webcomics HOF

On Friday, CR readers were asked, "Imagine There's A Hall Of Fame For Webcomics; Draft An Inaugural Class." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Achewood
2. Narbonic
3. Leisuretown
4. Hark! A Vagrant
5. Witches And Stitches

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. When I Am King
2. American Elf
3. Same Difference
4. The Perry Bible Fellowship
5. Narbonic

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. The Perry Bible Fellowship
2. Dinosaur Comics
3. Hark! A Vagrant
4. xkcd
5. Achewood

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sinfest
2. Coffee With Jesus
3. Thorn
4. Zen Pencils
5. Least I Could Do

*****

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Niel Jacoby

1. Achewood
2. Penny Arcade
3. Girl Genius
4. Hark, A Vagrant
5. XKCD

*****

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Anthony Charbonneau Grenier

1 - A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage Is Irreversible
2 - Dr. McNinja
3 - Gunshow
4 - Bouletcorp
5 - The Realist

*****

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Michael May

1. Abominable Charles Christopher
2. Penny Arcade
3. Dinosaur Comics
4. Hark, A Vagrant!
5. xkcd

*****

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Gary Tyrrell

1. Achewood
2. Octopus Pie
3. Hark! A Vagrant
4. Sinfest
5. Changes from day to day (so does #4, honestly)

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Scary Go Round
2. Diesel Sweeties
3. Girls With Slingshots
4. Hark! A Vagrant
5. Achewood

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Perry Bible Fellowship
2. Hark A Vagrant
3. Forming
4. Achewood
5. Fart Party

*****

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Brian Moore

1. Leisuretown
2. Electric Sheep Comix
3. Narbonic
4. Keeping Two
5. Laugh Menu

*****

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Eric Newsom

1. Exploding Dog
2. Red Meat
3. Piled Higher and Deeper
4. Perry Bible Fellowship
5. Gunnerkrigg Court

*****

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Daniel Spottswood

1. Laugh Out Loud Cats
2. Octopus Pie
3. Laugh Menu
4. Neil Jam
5. Hip Hop Family Tree

*****

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Dustin Harbin

1. Achewood
2. Perry Bible Fellowship
3. Hark A Vagrant
4. Dinosaur Comics
5. Octopus Pie

*****

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Mike Rhodes

1. Something Positive
2. Girls with Slingshots
3. Wapsi Square
4. Reptillis Rex
5. Sinfest

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Bodyworld
2. Eat More Bikes
3. Lucky
4. Hottest Chick In The Game
5. Comics Workbook

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Life Ain't No Ponyfarm (english version)
2. Decrypting Rita
3. Emily Carroll
4. Everett
5. Selektive Erinnerung (english version)

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Achewood
2. Cat & Girl
3. Sinfest
4. Octopus Pie
5. xkcd

*****

thanks to everyone that participated; anyone that complains that Gary Tyrrell didn't answer gets banned because Gary Tyrrell can say anything he wants about webcomics

*****
*****
 
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March 23, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson


David Horsey On Political Cartoons


A Mid-March Scott Stantis Livecast


The Cartoonist In Comics Panel


Steve Bell On The Iraq War 10-Year Anniversary


Matt Pritchett's Typical Day


Rob Rogers On Depicting Disgraced Politicians
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 16 to March 22, 2013:

1. The Chicago Tribune drops Shoe, which at one time would have been a consideration only if terrorists had somehow taken the Tribune offices, underlining the vastly changed landscape of American newspaper comics.

2. The Small Press Expo experiences server collapse while trying to register people for the 2013 show, an indication of how much people have come to value shows generally and the small press that show specifically. It also called into question -- at least for some, but I don't think in any way that was ever serious in terms of it changing the policy -- the Expo's non-curated status.

3. The discussion over whether or not to work for free continues unabated within prose and comics, leading to multiple think-pieces and a general realization that the entire enterprise of ever making a livable income from your art work or related efforts has changed forever, and maybe not in an all-the-way-good way.

Winners Of The Week
Your 2013 Doug Wright Awards finalists.

Loser Of The Week
The people running the server site for the Small Press Expo.

Quote Of The Week
"John Stewart Is Not Going Anywhere" -- an actual and in approximate-to-that form much-traveled headline this week, about the living status of a fictional character, combining both legitimate publishing news and comics' weird death-of-characters fixation.

*****

today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Ryan Stegman's Art And Stuff

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

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

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If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 58th Birthday, Kevin Kallaugher!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Shelton Drum!

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March 22, 2013


Go, Look: Pascal Girard

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By Request Special: Rantz Hoseley Could Use Some Short-Term Assignment Work After An Auto Accident

That's here. Rantz is an industry veteran of the quiet but lengthy CV variety, and has a variety of skills that could be employed. He's been rounding into a major project or two for a bit now, at which point we'll all be lucky if he answers our e-mail, but for now that's a guy who could use some extra work and has no interest in taking charity. I wish I could employ him.
 
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Go, Look: A Tripwire Image Mini-Gallery

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Go, Read: Michael Cavna Talks To Lisa Hanawalt About Her James Beard Foundation Finalist Status

It's here. For some reason I seemed completely incapable of posting anything about the nod, which is one of those cool things for which comics should be routinely eligible but comics rarely get thought of that way and are rarely as excellent or as fun as Hanawalt's piece in a way that just convinces people to consider them because they're of surpassing quality. It became widely known... I think Monday.

Hanawalt's first hardcover book debuts at TCAF from Drawn and Quarterly, and there are few of the younger cartoonists with her career ceiling.
 
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Go, Look: Hooray For Fred Guardineer!

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Not Comics: Douglas Rushkoff Interview

Surely just about any enterprising comics culture watcher can find stuff in a Douglas Rushkoff interview over which to muse in a comics-oriented way. Don't let me limit your imagination. Do let me call your attention even if things like presentism aren't your cup of tea to a couple of explicit notes about comics in there including an almost throwaway line about the author's interaction with a senior mainstream comics editor that may cause a sharp intake of breath if it hits you the same way it did me.
 
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Go, Look: Isabelle Pralong

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Vertical moves into digital publishing with multiple-device books being made available. The initial titles are Twin Spica (Kou Yaginuma), The Drops Of God (Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto) and 7 Billion Needles (Nobuaki Tadano). I've only read the first of those, but I found it a solid, generally charming, specific-milieu soap opera of the kind I would have consumed like chocolate cheesecake at a certain age.

image* the writer Brian K Vaughan and the artists Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente released the first installment of a comics story called The Private Eye for on-line consumption on a "pay what you like" model. Warren Ellis has the most cogent commentary, if nothing else for the reason that he's Warren Ellis and practically invented established comics pros taking to the Internet and trying out serialization models. I would disagree with Ellis that this particular model is something a publisher might have easily presented to a cartoonist -- I don't think that publishers can slip as seamlessly into the "pay what you like" model or even the "suggested minimum price" model as easily as an artist or artists working on their own behalf. I do agree that there's been a significant lack of movement from publishers in presenting models to creators. Also: it's good to have a comic from those creators, even if they were using a model of shaving it into dudes' backs at conventions and selling tickets.

* there's a digital comics sale on the Hellblazer title, if you're interested in maybe seeing some of those comics. Hellblazer was a longtime super-steady performer for DC Comics and ended at its 300th issue as the character of John Constantine was merged into the standard superhero universe. If I recall that title correctly, and I was not a reader past the early issues, it would be #27 (a Neil Gaiman stand-alone) and #41-46 (a well-regarded Garth Ennis story) that would probably be good sampling points for you. I wonder if we won't look back at comics like that and not see anything like them being done currently, perhaps sooner than we think.

* here's a great thing: the Derby Dugan trilogy is available in digital form now. That's Funny Papers, Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies and Dugan Under Ground. I enjoyed them all on paper.

* count Keith Brown's The Wages of Sin among those webcomics with a print-comics iteration.

* here's the link from another press release that looks potentially interesting, someone presenting the reader-manipulation aspects of a project in the context of a very seriously illustrated science-fiction work, which isn't always a pairing of intent one gets.

* Tim Kreider has updated his site to about 2009 or so. That sounds mean, but I'm clearly stuck in 2004 so it kind of isn't.

* finally, I almost missed this in terms of getting it into this column, but here are a bunch of Robot 6 contributors talking about Marvel's streaming service, which gives you unlimited access to a bunch of different comic books all at once. It's an interesting model in that most of the movie options have this kind of bifurcated approach now.

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

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

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

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If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Top Ten Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Michael May revisits some of the recent not-comics links on paying creators that you may have seen here and adds a few of his own, as well as his own take on the subject. I think all of this asking of questions is super-healthy; if you're only making a modest amount and you're paying a modest amount, I can't see that there's any harm in the subject being explored. In theory and in practical, historical terms, there are reasons that creators may work for free -- but none of those reasons is "because sometimes people work for free."

image* that very same Michael May pores over Lookouts. Johanna Draper Carlson on Superzelda, Message To Adolf Vol. 2 and Lizzie Newton: Victorian Mysteries Vol. 2. Henry Chamberlain on Action Comics #18. Paul O'Brien on a bunch of X-Men comics. Kelly Thompson on Fearless Defenders #2. Sean T. Collins on "His Face All Red."

* I like this Spider-Man cartoon.

* not comics: Moleskine opens up a US store. There will be some drawing on some of those pieces of paper that are to be found in that store.

* Ryan Burton talks to Patrick McEown. Padraig O Mealoid talks to Eddie Campbell. Bill Baker talks to Manuel Auad.

* HeroesCon needs volunteers.

* Johanna Draper Carlson notes Entertainment Weekly's cursory coverage of the Orson Scott Card writing Superman controversy at DC Comics.

* there are so many things to buy that aren't exactly comics, like one of these prints, or this print specifically or this t-shirt.

* don't really know why there are three Thors here -- I would assume time travel, but it could also just be a fanciful picture united by the fact that it's the same dude -- but I liked this picture. Thor should be full of pretty pictures like this, like an endless series of never-before-seen heavy metal album covers.

* RW Watkins teases the early Spider-Man out of Blue Velvet.

* finally, Laura Park is the best.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Jay Stephens!

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March 21, 2013


Romenesko: Chicago Tribune Drops Shoe

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you have to be of a certain age and have a certain orientation towards newspaper strips, but if you do, this is super-weird news
 
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Go, Look: Kabinett

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Go, Read: A Day In The Life Of A Digital Editor

So I totally missed this post on The Atlantic about the difficult realities facing on-line publishing. I think it's a good companion piece to some of the writing from this week and especially last about writing for free. I can remember a time when people writing on-line were turning down dollar-a-word gigs because they didn't sound as fun as these other gigs over here. I turned down gigs that I would consider cutting off a toe for now, and I'm far from the kind of writer that gets those gigs first.

So yeah, I think the model is changing, for prose and for comics, and the only real standards to apply involve seeing where the money that exists goes and if that's fair to the content being created. That's why I would suggest that not working for free -- and not asking people to work for free -- is important as a fundamental guideline and operating principle as opposed to some abstract declaration of Internet rhetoric. If we're in a situation where there isn't a lot of money at all, it's triply important that we don't indiscriminately support institutions because while some of them may well pay their people as much as they can and support them in ways that compensate, others may not. That includes some institutions that are just structurally unable to make what they have going on work in a way that allows for creators to be paid. The same thing happened at a lot of newspapers the last decade. It wasn't that the idea of newspapers became suddenly and completely non-viable, but newspapers were legitimately diminished a bit in overall stature and income, they were diminished in stature and income in specific areas of past strength, they were diminished in a way that exposed an infrastructure that was slow to react and maybe unable to react to the extent it needed to, and as a result of all of these things a lot of them didn't recover and another bunch of them are still reeling.

So yes, things are tough all over, but that doesn't mean that it's on any one segment of the creation cycle to take the lead when it comes to sacrifice. Let's do more to make creators being paid our starting point instead of one potential outcome.
 
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Go, Look: Dylan Horrocks Draws The Monster Manual

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* nothing of major import this weekend, at least not as far as I can tell. Fumetto is ongoing, and there's a Wizard show in St. Louis. That's a pair about as far apart on the opposite ends of the show spectrum as you can get.

* WonderCon is just sitting there waiting to happen not this weekend but the next one, after which by any any and all measures it's convention season. I know that Anaheim was good to that show last year, and I'd actually like to see them stay down there with something, if not that show specifically. First, I would think that Comic-Con's blend of pop culture would play really well in the greater Los Angeles area this far out from summer. Second, they are comics nerds at their core and I bet if someone else ended up with an Anaheim/Los Angeles show in that same general time period they would not be. They'd still have APE to keep a hand in in San Francisco, either with that show, or another show like a WCSF (WonderCon San Francisco), or a transformed show in that same general time period. I know that's backseat driving, but it's hard to resist.

* here's the MoCCA programming. I think that's a fine strategy, keeping it really limited in terms of number of events. That show has a chance to catch on, and sooner rather than later, but they shouldn't overplay their hand.

* the 2nd Annual British Comic Awards have a big press release up here to catch everyone up. This includes the nominating committee members, the committee chair, and addressing the gender disparity issue that came up last year.

* did you know that Fumetto has a store with a bunch of convention exclusives? A lot of those things are really nice-looking. Fumetto is one of those shows that is not dominated by its commercial aspects, so the ones it does offer are kind of fascinating.

* here are some photos from the current Ron Rege Jr. exhibition.

* finally, Jamie Coville has audio and photos from the most recent convention in Toronto.
 
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Go, Look: Holderith Muriel

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Doug Wright Awards Announce 2013 Finalists Slate; Albert Chartier To Become "Giant Of The North"

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The Doug Wright Awards announced this morning that the late Albert Chartier will enter The Giants Of The North: The Canadian Cartoonists Hall Of Fame this morning. They also announced the 2013 finalists slate for its awards program. Ethan Rilly, Michael DeForge and Michael Comeau are among the Canadian stalwarts that enter into this year's program as past winners and present nominees, given this year's awards a kind of next-generation look all-around.

Best Book

* Lose #4 by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
* By This Shall You Know Him by Jesse Jacobs (Koyama Press)
* The Song of Roland by Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
* Pope Hats #3 by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
* Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest (Koyama Press)

*****

Doug Wright Spotlight Award (a.k.a. "The Nipper")

* Nina Bunjevac for Heartless (Conundrum Press)
* Brandon Graham for King City (Image Comics)
* Patrick Kyle for Black Mass, Distance Mover, Wowee Zonk #4
* George Walker for The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson -- The Porcupine's Quill
* Eric Kostiuk Williams for Hungry Bottom Comics

*****

Pigskin Peters Award (Experimental/Avant-Garde Comics)

* Hamilton Illustrated by David Collier (Wolsak & Wynn)
* Hellberta #2 and "Sir Softly" from s! #12, by Michael Comeau
* Michael DeForge, Larry Eisenstein, Jesse Jacobs, Mark Laliberte (editor), Marc Ngui, Ethan Rilly, Tin Can Forest and Magda Trzaski from 4PANEL, a special comics feature in Carousel Magazine #28, 29
* Ginette Lapalme for "So, what should we do with ourselves?..." from Wowee Zonk #4 and "Little Stump" in s! #12

The event will be held on May 11 in conjunction with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is their ninth year.

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

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

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Go, Look: Gene Colan Cover Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this article by Brigid Alverson about the recent swirl of conversation surrounding Kickstarter and crowd-funding more generally is a fine catch-up if you don't naturally follow those issues. Alverson's take on what constitutes such projects worth watching intrigues as well.

image* Brian Nicholson on Hot Dog Beach 2. Alan Scherstul on the Al Capp bio and the comics of Michael Kupperman.

* Andy Burns talks to Joe Casey.

* super-cute Los Bros convention sketch. I thought their art looked different than that by that point, so that part of it is interesting, too.

* there is a massive process post from Faith Erin Hicks here on Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. I would imagine anything she'd have to say on the subject of adaptation would be worth noting, particularly if you're a younger cartoonist. In fact, I would imagine just about anything she has to say would be of value to working cartoonists at a similar point in their careers, or about to enter them, as she has made a lot of pages over the last few years. Here's another, more formal process post featuring work in those Avatar: The Last Airbender comics.

* here is an original Tony Salmons piece of Hulk art owned by Erik Larsen.

* not comics: there are a lot of pretty and affordable prints here, from up-and-coming and already-there cartoonists.

* finally, here's a report from the Will Eisner edition of that weekly comics talk/symposium that's going on in New York Monday evenings.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Mark Waid!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Marek Bennett!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Jeff Lemire!

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March 20, 2013


Go, Look: Ward Zwart

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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.

*****

JAN130488 MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE HC $34.99
You could walk into a store, buy this massive collection of the Bob Fingerman 1990s alt-comics series, and have a satisfying week in comics. I think this is the way to have that material, too, and I'm usually a bigger fan of the original comics. I have an interview with Bob coming up; I'm behind on the transcription. I hope this does well, as I certainly enjoy and like the cartoonist. I also like that Robert Kirkman is a fan, as the next time I'm watching Walking Dead I can look for equivalent characters.

imageDEC121220 WHEN DAVID LOST HIS VOICE HC GN (MR) $24.95
This is the second graphic novel from the Flanders-born, Brussels-based Judith Vandistendael, released in the English language market by SelfMadeHero. Those are all things for which it's worth rooting. This book like the first was nominated for the awards-slate at Angouleme. If you go to the comics shop to encounter fully-realized works by quality cartoonists with whom you're not automatically familiar because they've been around for 75 years, this could be the book you take home.

NOV120054 UNAUTHORIZED TARZAN HC $29.99
NOV120055 UNAUTHORIZED TARZAN HC LTD ED $59.99
I have a feeling that Tarzan reprints could become the new Archie reprints, by which I mean there are so many facets and aspects and series and ways to approach the material that I'm never going to have any idea from a title which one is worth buying and which one isn't. This one is the Charlton comic book series, with Gill and Glanzman, and those are comics I always wanted to see but never got around to buying -- so I'd definitely pick this up in a store.

JAN130077 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #105 COLD DAY IN HELL #1 $3.50
JAN130092 CONAN THE BARBARIAN #14 $3.50
JAN130095 MIND MGMT #9 $3.99
JAN130382 POPEYE #11 [DIG/P+] $3.99
JAN130594 INVINCIBLE #101 [DIG] $2.99
JAN138123 NOWHERE MEN #1 4TH PTG $2.99
JAN130604 REVIVAL #8 [DIG] $2.99
JAN130605 SAGA #11 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JAN138174 THIEF OF THIEVES #10 2ND PTG $2.99
JAN130676 ALL NEW X-MEN #9 NOW $3.99
JAN138109 HAWKEYE #3 3RD PTG AJA VAR $2.99
JAN138110 HAWKEYE #4 3RD PTG AJA VAR $2.99
JAN138111 HAWKEYE #5 3RD PTG AJA VAR $2.99
JAN138112 HAWKEYE #6 3RD PTG AJA VAR $2.99
JAN130975 ADVENTURE TIME #14 MAIN CVRS [DIG] $3.99
JAN130866 ALL CRIME #1 (MR) $3.95
A big week for classic independent comics, by which I mean genre comics that aren't superhero books. There are a few superhero books, too. The above list probably overstates my potential interest by about half, but I think a certain kind of customer is really pleased by seeing most of these books. Nowhere Men and Revival are doing battle to become the next Image Comics stealth hit; there's nothing stealthy about how well Saga has performed. I guess the post-number 100 numbering on the Mignola-verse books should continue; I have no reason to think they won't be solid. What else...? In superheroes, it looks like there are more crying Bat-people comics (not listed here), back to stands for the bulk of the Hawkeye series to date and a new issues of Invincible and the X-Men book with Stuart Immonen art (I think). At any rate, I'm not sure this would get my dour, mid-forties ass to the comics shop, but 17-year-old me would have the best day ever. There really are a lot of comic-book comics out there; they're just not finding their way into as many nooks and crannies and reader niches as, say, graphic novels are. I believe All Crime #1 is a purposefully retro comic, which is something I'd at least look at unless the cover design is horrific.

NOV121032 LEONARD STARRS MARY PERKINS ON STAGE TP VOL 11 $24.95
You won't find a better-illustrated book on the stands this week, that's for sure. Total freakin' miracle that this market somehow supports 11 volumes of primetime Leonard Starr; hooray for miracles.

JAN131403 COMICS AND NARRATION HC $55.00
This is Thierry Groensteen's follow-up to The System Of Comics, and thus on the Christmas wish list of every tow-headed comics academic in academia. Christmas is far away, though. If you don't buy this but your retailer has it buy something extra just because your retailer is awesome.

JAN131273 BARRYS BEST BUDDY HC $12.95
I'll read everything that Renée French makes, and with this one I'll be on the lookout for any potential friction between her fearless and usually unfettered image-making and the educational demands of a Toon Book.

*****

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 because I hate you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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If I Were Near Luzern, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Otto Soglow Tagged On Tumblr

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Paul Gravett discusses Roy Lichtenstein. There's so much good writing about Lichtenstein, and I have almost no interest in Lichtenstein.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Steve Ditko's Monsters Vol. 1. Chris Mautner on Hair Shirt. Andy Shaw on The Book Of Human Insects. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Black Lung and The Massive Vol. 1. Geoffrey Lapid on The End Of The Fucking World.

* Tony Harris draws a version of the Boy Commandos. Eric Reynolds draws Peter Bagge. Benjamin Marra draws Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five.

* not comics, not exactly, but still amazing, that amount of money raised.

* the writer Frank Barbiere on how hard making comics is. I don't know, I only made comics for three years as an everyday job, and I thought it was a pretty great gig. Quadruply so for a writer. I worked in a foundry once; that was hard. Experiences differ, though.

* that's a very nice-looking Gene Day page.

* "I'll take 'Swiss TV game shows are apparently way more nerdy than their American counterparts' for $500, please."

* David Axe and Tim Hamilton talk about their Army Of God. John Rovnak talks to Steve Murphy. Robin McConnell talks to Dave Taylor. Steve Morris talks to Mike Molcher.

* finally, Matt Dembicki sent along this random encounter with a piece of Will Eisner art.">Frank Barbiere on how hard making comics is.
 
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Happy 88th Birthday, Bill Lignante!

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March 19, 2013


Go, Watch: Local Chicago News On Persepolis Flare-Up


 
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Go, Listen: Gil Roth Interviews Matt Wuerker

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Go, Read: A TCJ Interview With Walter Biggins

Jeet Heer talks to the departing University Of Mississippi Press acquisitions editor here. It's already been three years since the equally key Seetha Srinivasan retired, and how much there wasn't a change at that time shows just how much influences Biggins had on the shape of that comics-focused line.
 
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Go, Look: Willy And Kay

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Missed It: John Porcellino And Simon Moreton Chime In On Postage Rate Increases

I ran across the following missive from the great John Porcellino in trying to sort out my mail yesterday. He sent it in response to February's attention to a postal rate increase and how that might have an effect on those that physically mail comics out to customers, particularly those overseas.
One way zine distros have figured shipping for their items in the past is by listing the weight of each item alongside its price. The customer adds up the weights as well, and then refers to a chart to figure the cost. I've considered this, but even then there are so many variables, like the size and shape of the package, that I don't know how accurate it would be.

For instance, if someone in Canada orders three King-Cats from me, it's actually cheaper to mail them all individually in separate envelopes than in one package, because once the mail is over 1/4" thick it becomes a package instead of letter rate, and those rates are higher.

I've been systematically tweaking my rates for 20 years, and had it pretty accurate. The problem is that these new rates throw all that out the window. I feel like I'm starting over just trying to get a handle on it all.
I hope that most people have settled into new strategies. I suspect that the rate hike will mean a significant change in the way some people consume these comics, for instance placing a higher premium on picking up a bunch at shows or when overseas. It will also probably have a negative overall effect on business.

Right after the e-mail from John Porcellino came this missive from Simon Moreton:
Just reflecting on your post about postal rates changing in the US. They changed significantly here in the UK last April (this article talks largely about domestic rates) that has left us with similar challenges to what is happening over there now - though perhaps your prices have ended up higher, I'm unclear as yet. As an example, to send a single copy of one of my zines, costs me £3.30. I sell them for £3.00 but cannot justify charging the consumer full price for postage -- so I charge enough to make a 50p profit on a zine. Without charging, I'd obviously make a loss. It's very tough. I already find shipping prices very high to order things from the US, and I imagine that'll now be worse.

I wonder though what role distros may have in mitigating against this. The ability to ship in bulk to the US helps, so that I'm not sending out things individually. John P carries my work, as does Secret Acres and Microcosm Distro. I just sent a parcel to the latter that cut postage down to ~£1 a zine. Sadly, with a 50/50 or whatever split, it still means I barely break even assuming they sell everything. BUT it does give me exposure, which to be honest, is all I care about - having people find and enjoy and relate to my work, that's my goal. So bulk mailing obviously is (and always has been) the most cost effective way of sending material.

But I guess my question is: will distros be able to step up as distributors and offer overseas zines and minis a chance to find a footing, prohibited by peer-to-peer internet sales? Am I daydreaming? Will there be an option for them to somehow absorb and recentralise imports? Will that mean anything? To be honest, I know more about US distros than I do about UK ones.

Anyway, this is a staggeringly unwarranted and unneeded sounding lesson on postal economics -- musing in part because I should be doing something better, no doubt. I'm sure fireworks are bursting forth from your inbox as you read this..
I thank both gentlemen for their e-mails, and encourage anyone else with something to say to drop me a line.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: You'll Have To Save That For Another Time

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Box Brown Would Like To Give Everyone A Nice Print

In "Comics By Request Extra" news, Box Brown wrote in to say that they're looking to add a few more subscribers to the Retrofit comics effort. That's the old-fashioned alt-comics initiative featuring a bunch of talents that weren't old enough to make comics back when there were a lot of comics in that format. Here, read for yourself, or at least go look at the print.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Batton Lash Commissioned Art

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
2013 Eisner Awards Submissions Is Tomorrow, March 20th

It says Tuesday, but my e-mail from awards administrator Jackie Estrada and the calendar say that the 20th is a Wednesday. I'd get these postmarked post-haste in any event. You were probably going to send your comics to Frank Santoro anyway.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Okay, Someone Please Explain To Me What This Is



I've not heard anything about this, which makes sense because I miss stuff like this all of the time, but it's also not on Marielle Heller's IMDB.com page. That usually doesn't happen. So I'm confused. Is this for real? When do we get it? Was it actually done without people noticing? Is that possible anymore?

If you want to take this more back into comics, Sean T. Collins just re-posted his 2003 interview with the great cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner.
 
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Marijpol

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* John Martz will have two books debut at TCAF, and the covers are very handsome.

image* it seems like there were a bunch of casual, just-dropped-in-there announcement about various books being made over the last week. For instance, it's hard for me to imagine bigger news for the Library Of American Comics from a publishing-news standpoint that they're going to work with the strip iterations of DC superheroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. That's not the work they do that I find the most artistically satisfying, but 1) there are some really, really good comics in those strip runs, by some of the best creators to work on those characters, 2) DC roping in the IDW publishing partner/arm to do these is significant in and of itself and a vote of confidence in what they're doing there, 3) I have to imagine there's a completely different market for this stuff than perhaps the Little Orphan Annie material (which I dearly love).

* here's another one of those stand-alone items of news, Fantagraphics doing a book of Guantanamo trial sketches from Janet Hamlin. That actually sounds more in tune with a lot of the material they were publishing around 2004 when they suddenly released a whole bunch of politically aggressive books, but it also sounds really good, and that's pretty much timeless.

* we're about a week away from the comics-interested humor magazine The Devastator dropping its latest issue. That isn't really news, but I wanted a place to mention they're seven issues in, which is something.

* you can tell by the size of the preview being offered the new Percy Gloom book is imminent. I quite enjoyed Cathy Malkasian's last two books.

* Matt Bors updates us on the progress of his crowd-funded print book effort.

* the writer Greg Rucka ran this much-reblogged excerpt from his forthcoming creator-owned work (with Michael Lark and Santi Arcas) called Lazarus, and asks for your pre-ordering consideration.

* not sure that I knew we get to see new Paul Hornschemeier this year.

* Renée French's books are handsome no matter what market in which they appear. Seriously, for someone that works with a bunch of different publishers, they all seem to do well by her design-wise.

* I am the worst person at tracking and interpreting such things, but it seems like IDW has found itself some publishing space with deluxe editions of a lot of the stuff they publish, which isn't a dumb space to pursue at all given the age of the people that might be interested in this material and their potential income.

* finally, here's one I didn't know about at all: a print collection of this work here. If not a collection, a print iteration. Thank you, random, insomnia-induced wandering around Facebook.

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posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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at least I think that's something you can go to; it should at least be something you can listen to
 
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Pete Morisi Romance Comic

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posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this letter to fellow Tokyopop orphans from Chuck Austen is fascinating for the details he provides. I'm still digesting it. There's a super-fine line between the kind of encouraging advice Austen gives and being seen as more forgiving than most because things worked out for you. He kind of jumps back and forth across that line a ton, but I think that piece would be less interesting if it were more politic.

image* Sean Gaffney on Barrage Vol. 1. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on The Shade, Hawkeye Vol. 1 and a bunch of different comics. Ryan Holmberg on Clone Woman. Alex Hern on Lose #4. Glen Weldon on the Maurice Sendak interview in The Comics Journal #302.

* I've whined on here before that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the costume impulse (and that I may have a tendency to overthink when it comes to processing why others embrace it). I'm also frequently surprised by how many comics collections include a sizable number of toys. I always thought that was two separate markets, and in fact the people I know that keep a bunch of comics either don't have toys at all or have one or two more as a novelty than as something that is part of their enjoyment of comics. There are a thousand ways to like something, and it's good to be reminded of that.

* this Jackie Chan comic link ended up bookmarked as "MotoHagioChan" in my folder, so I'm guessing that's what that is. I blame late nights trying to figure out Tumblr.

* check out the excellent Tad Dorgan that Robert Boyd recently purchased.

* the writer Matt Fraction reminds that Bill Sienkiewicz once adapted David Lynch adapting Frank Herbert.

* Kelli Korducki talks to Jaime Hernandez. Ryan Burton talks to Boaz Yakin.

* Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia, has announced a conference and its intention to add a two-year program in comics and graphic novels. You can learn more about its current, Ken Steacy-directed program here. The conference is scheduled for April 7.

* finally, I read a couple of days back that many of these fine Joseph Remnant drawings are still available. I like them and wish I could buy them all.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Willie Schubert!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Sergio Ponchione!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Michael Jantze!

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March 18, 2013


Go, Look: Death Milks A Cow

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posted 8:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
SPX Apologizes For Sunday's Exhibitor Registration Collapse

imageThe Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland relied on the bedrock of its enormous goodwill in the small-press community yesterday negotiating a collapse in its on-line exhibitor registration for the 2013 show this September. Here's the apology they sent out.

SPX is not a juried show, so they have to find some way to make the bulk of their tables available on a first-come, first-served basis in order to satisfy that democratic leaning. I think not being juried is a crucial element for that show now. About a decade ago or so I agitated with the SPX board to make Small Press Expo a juried show. This was back in the day when there weren't any. I thought a juried show would make for a better showcase for comics. I was wrong. SPX chose to keep to the non-juried strategy, which was the right choice because it keeps them connected to the mass of creators for whom this is The Most Important Comics Show. I think it also best serves their audience, and their audience is a formidable thing.

So, if you move that basic impulse to be non-juried into the rich soil that is conventions generally right now, sprinkle a little bit of SPX 2012 Was Awesome on top, and the result is what happened yesterday. There are bound to be a ton of disappointed people, and all sorts of negotiating for table space in the months ahead.

I think the SPX folks and particularly Warren Bernard are smart enough to handle this as well as it can be handled -- that letter is a good start, and so was the humor shown as things melted down, and so were the promises to go through things like timestamps to best figure out who was there to register at what time. I have every confidence in them, and I think most people do in that realm of comics. The show will go on, and it won't look any different for this day of frustration. They have a full year to figure out 2014.

Mr. Chris Pitzer of AdHouse, exhibiting at the 2012 show
 
posted 8:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Wonderfully Vulgar

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a staggering amount of awesome material here
 
posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I Did Not Know That Michael Ramirez Spoke At CPAC 2013

Here. It seems like he presented a pretty straight-forward liberal media bias argument, illustrated with cartoons. That's actually a compelling thread in conservative political thought these days, as to blame a distorted media and timid messenger puts the focus and blame somewhere other than the message itself. I would imagine this is a fertile place from which to produce a lot of cartoons.

Ramirez is a two-time Pulitzer winner.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gabby Goes To The Dentist

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posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read Steve Bissette Makes A Proposal

Steve Bissette pivots from news that the next Spider-Man movie is being filmed with state tax breaks to suggest that this provides an opportunity to pressure Marvel into paying Steve Ditko for Spider-Man royalties he believes he's due. I always like to see media sources cover this story, and I think it's of continuing interest -- I know the financial situation facing creators is something my friends that aren't into comic always seem intrigued by when it comes up in conversations about the latest run of movies. I think what may be most interesting here is the way Bissette puts into concise language both Ditko's situation and a possible way out.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Monstrous Prints

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Is The Comic Book I Found On My Bed

imageFor whatever reason, since the time of my 2011 surgery I've become one of those people that keeps books on the bed, sometimes for weeks at a time. I'm guessing it's because I don't thrash around as much anymore, and also because reading has become more important to me. I also suspect it has something to do with not going to be bone tired all of the time. The books left on my bed routinely include comics. Cleaning my bedroom yesterday I made the bed and my eyes fell to this issue of Fantastic Four, issue #63, lying on one of the pillows. It struck me that this was the kind of comic that I would have killed to own as a kid, but it would have been nearly impossible to secure one. I bought my copy, a perfectly readable comic book, for $1 at the recent Emerald City Comicon.

We're going to see a lot of comics become more attainable moving forward, including many that it will be hard to imagine would ever be that way. Part of this is market; a bunch of us can probably remember when Howard The Duck was relatively expensive to purchase, as well as how the prices on those collapsed almost 20 years or more ago now. But I also think the availability of a lot of comics may be due to a number of factors that play a bit wider than rise-and-fall price points. This includes the ubiquity of eBay exposing some of the collectibles market as a fraud, the availability of comics in collections and digitally, and even the aging of the audience for these books. These are all things that reduce the market for these comics as things to read, as things to own. Part of this saddens at the same time I'm still a little freaked out I can so easily own copies of work like this. Mostly it reinforces the awe I feel about what a magnificent time it is to read comics, and all of the choices we have now. I think these are beautiful objects, and it's not a bias out of which I'm willing to be talked.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Angela Oster

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Taiwanese Cartoonist Tu Tse-Wei Wins Award At Fumetto

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Here's a wire report that popped up about the Taiwanese cartoonist Tu Tse-Wei winning a young talent award at the Fumetto International Comix-Festival in Lucerne. I wasn't aware they had such an award, although as I recall -- and am able to locate on their site -- they do have a comics competition based on a theme. The cartoonist works under the pen name Ahn Zhe, and was a finalist for a similar award at this year's Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in Angouleme.

I also can't all the way tell if this is his site or not. I think it is, though, because of what appears in the background of the photo accompanying the news story. Cool site.
 
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Go, Look: Exem

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Tripwire is still hanging in there on their crowd-funder. Here's a tweet featuring a page from an older issue, a copy of a column written by a then-young Mark Millar, who doesn't read as a different person than the Mark Millar of today. They have a tumblr featuring a lot of older art, like the image above, here.

* P. Craig Russell's latest crowd-funding effort is in its final days, if not hours, by the time you read this. I can't imagine a more prolific, productive professional to back on one of these things.

* there's not much time left in Steven Sanders' Kickstarter.

image* my hope is that by the time this rolls out the Robin Snyder Steve Ditko project seeking funding here will have met its goal. Either way, it's something you should know about. Jog sent me the link. That's a pretty great comic, and it's been out of print forever.\

* the Roman Dirge fundraiser is still going on; according to that site, that's related to his hospital bills following a hit-and-run accident.

* one thing that's fun about crowd-funders is that you run across cartoonists you didn't know had any interest in working in certain formats, like this graphic novel project by Nate Fakes, whom I thought of as more of a gag/humor cartoonist.

* Leigh Rigozzi is involved with this crowd-funder anthology, featuring a service with which I'm unfamiliar. Blood & Thunder apparently features talent from New Zealand and Australia.

* I haven't sorted this all the way out, but it looks like a film project by Juliacks, which makes it worth noting.

* here's a webcomic about knitting -- which I didn't know existed, but like already -- that has a kickstarter going and already funded with a bunch of days remaining.

* I bet the Art Thibert Kickstarter is either funded or really close to being funded by now.

* this Kickstarter campaign was tweeted at me by someone nice. It looks like field-trip day for the Fantagraphics intern program.

* here's one that looks interesting, from Ryan Standfest: Black Eye 2.

* here's a mini-comic with an appropriately mini-comic sized funding goal, already met. I don't think anyone would have believed this Sailor Moon-related one was going to have a hard time meeting its goals.

* we must be in the season of interesting-looking crowd-funder because here's another one, a doodle-driven project from Brian Fukushima.

* I would have to imagine this 2D Cloud-related crowd-funder has totally blasted by its goals by the time this rolls out. Worth looking at regardless.

* finally, a bit of not-comics but also comics (also comics-related): the very talented Dunja Jankovic is selling some art in order to a) move some of it, b) move herself, at least for a while. Go here.

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

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

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Not Sure I've Ever Heard Of Jon L. Blummer

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posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I forgot to mention this last week when it was still fresh news, but the Boston Phoenix has closed. That was a once-great alt-weekly with which I've had little direct interaction in the last ten years or so -- it looks like I wasn't the only one. It feels like -- feels like -- that this may be a classic case of newspaper collapse, in that the model at which the Phoenix was successful wasn't going to make the trip into the next set of years and the publication and its staff was ill-equipped to adjust to new realities even though they gave it a shot. The last time we heard from the publication was when they fired the cartoonist Karl Stevens; Stevens is quoted in the article.

image* here's one I've been waiting for: RC Harvey on the new Al Capp biography. Louis Falcetti on Wolverine #1. Edward Gauvin on So Long, Silver Screen. Maxwell Majernik on Age Of Ultron #2.

* I know this sounds odd, but a lot of really fun art these days comes out of the gaming habits of cartoonists.

* Matt Maxwell says the funniest thing about this is the redaction bar, and I think he's right.

* Beau Smith says comics needs to diversify or die. I'm scared to death of Smith, so when he mentions dying, I perk up.

* I like this Clara Bessijelle drawing.

* the New York Times profiles the AIDS-awareness comic AIDS In The End Zone.

* Jaime is the best one. Here he is working with the CBLDF on a print.

* Kirby, Kirby, Kirby. Leyendecker, Leyendecker, Leyendecker.

* here's something I caught late, adding Sonia Harris' ECCC con report to the collective memory: Roberta Gregory is looking for some on-line assistance, work-related. Roberta is super-nice, so I hope someone out there can help her if this hasn't already happened.

* Dave Richards talks to Jason Aaron. Steve Sunu talks to JH Williams III. Tereixa Constenla profiles Matt Madden.

* I'm always a little creeped out by right assignations as a part of the rules for something, but the one in this contest makes sense. That sounds like a pretty good contest.

* Alan Gardner has collected all of Andrews McMeel's recent video work with Lincoln Peirce into one place. It's several videos instead of just a few, otherwise I probably would have put it up in the video parade.

* check out the vintage Dan Clowes comic book back-matter, including a hilarious letter from Gilbert Hernandez.

* a lot of artistic talent in this photo.

* finally: whoa, original art from Airtight Garage.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Michael J. Vassallo!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Shea Anton Pensa!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Bill Reinhold!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Farel Dalrymple!

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March 17, 2013


My Favorite Spider-Man Story Is Still High School Analogy

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posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
So A Quick Couple Of Notes About Working For Free

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Greg Kelly sent along this link, a report from a panel of established prose writers discussing working for free. I found it kind of odd and even disheartening, for a couple of reasons.

One, I was surprised that anyone in the audience would have a hard time admitting they've written for free. Nearly everyone does, or has, unless they've been super-, super-lucky and either so hardcore or so relatively disliked that they've never been asked to submit something somewhere for a reason other than the paycheck after becoming well-established. If they haven't worked for free, I suspect that they have probably worked at less than market value. Having experienced both circumstances is even more likely. I'm not sure what the hell that reluctance to share means, although I suspect it can't be a positive thing because it doesn't seem honest. There's a lot of bad information that gets passed around in creative communities because of fear and pride.

Two, it seems to me a very specific Internet-culture trigger is settling in on this argument when it comes up: treating the idea of not working for free, and not asking others to work for free, as some sort of legal brief filed in nerd court that then gets examined and picked apart by treating it as an absolute statement to be assaulted rather than a strong idea to be considered, all with an undercurrent of "You think you're better than me?" giving it power and force. Does that sound familiar? It happens a lot. Whenever I see smart people doing that, I always think of some friend coming to me after having had a hard time due to drinking and saying they're thinking of giving it up entirely. I don't necessarily think that's the time to hector the shit out of them that they may, say, want to drink some champagne at their kids' weddings, let alone justify my own drinking habits and how they might actually be a part of what works in my life. Sometimes there are more important reasons to talk things through than one side gets to win an argument.

When I make statements about not working for free, or link to one, it's because I want that idea to be the baseline from which choosing to work for free represents a deviation or a very specific opportunity with its own set of rewards. It's not because I'm somehow interested in winning some sprawling argument on an abstract expression of principle to 100 percent effectiveness, or to make myself look good by staking out a position on a specific side, or to show I'm better than someone. I think it's pretty clear that at this point there's a lot of routine exploitation in comics that takes advantage of mechanisms that used to play a more formal, developmental role and still do play a legitimate one -- internships and getting mentored and working at a low rate or even free to get one's foot in the door and improve and be seen. I think each instance of potential exploitation in comics is worth questioning, as is the general drift and thrust of the marketplace created by those individual instances. I'm also not convinced that because things work right now for some people that things can't be improved for others. Abuse seems to me worth launching a few rhetoric bombs, even if it leaves the flank exposed.

Ultimately, I feel a greater effort can be made on a lot of our parts to pay and to be paid and to see that others are paid. This isn't a problem to be solved; it's a positive that can be explored. I don't believe in the profound cynicism of giving up and saying "this is how things are." I find that doubly absurd when asserted at a time and in instances when you can point to specific decisions being made for this behavior or that practice to become policy. Questioning the way things are seems to me a good thing whenever it occurs. I think an ethos of more significant rewards to creators and makers and contributors can be a greater part of comics' future if we collectively and actively work on making this a value and then help each other hold ourselves to it. I still have a lot of work to do in this area, too. I think just about all of us do.
 
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If Twitter Is To Be Believed -- And It Always Should Be -- SPX Exhibitor Registration Is Noon Today

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I'm sure it will work out great.
and scene
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Sure That I Knew About This PBS Webcomics Short


thanks, Greg Kelly
 
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Go, Look: Last Call #1: OK Hotel, Seattle

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Go, Look: Miscellaneous Comic Book Cover Art

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OTBP: The MSU Student Comic Art Anthology

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Go, Look: Animal-A-Day

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OTBP: Force Field Fotocomix Vol. 1

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Go, Look: March MODOK Madness

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Go, Read: Classic Gary Groth Interview With Barry Windsor-Smith

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Go, Look: Shooting The On The Ropes Video

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

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

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

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

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

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If I Were Near Granada Hills, I'd Go To This

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Patrick McDonnell!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #327 -- Doppelgangers

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Characters From TV And Their Comics Equivalent." This is how they responded.

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Chris Duffy

1. Ted Baxter -- Steve Lombard
2. Bionic Man -- Cyborg
3. Maverick -- Bat Lash
4. The Phoenix -- Adam Warlock
5. Cousin It -- Grog

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Andy Sipowicz -- Harvey Bullock
2. Hawk -- Luke Cage
3. J.R. Ewing -- John D. Rockerduck
4. Kwai Chang Caine -- Shang Chi
5. Freakazoid -- Madman

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Varian -- Aztec Ace
2. Rod Serling -- The Phantom Stranger
3. Davros -- Korvac
4. Frank Serpico - Clint Barton
5. Thurston Howell III -- Oliver 'Daddy' Warbucks

*****

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Michael May

1. Ed Norton -- Smiley Bone
2. Matt Houston -- Tony Stark
3. Buffy Summers -- Peculia
4. Data -- Atomic Robo
5. The Man from Atlantis -- Aquaman

*****

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Des Devlin

1. Benjamin Linus ("Lost") -- Walter Kovacs ("Watchmen")
2. Trixie Norton ("The Honeymooners") -- Tootsie Woodley ("Blondie")
3. Alan Partridge ("I'm Alan Partridge"; "The Day Today"; etc.) -- Roland Hedley ("Doonesbury")
4. Ernest G. Bilko ("The Phil Silvers Show") -- J. Wellington Wimpy ("Thimble Theater")
5. Sybil Fawlty ("Fawlty Towers") -- Maggie ("Bringing Up Father")

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. The Fonz (Happy Days) -- Wolverine
2. Lieutenant Horatio Caine (CSI: Miami) -- Batman
3. Ziva David (NCIS) -- Black Widow
4. Patsy Stone (Absolutely Fabulous) -- Emma Frost
5. Emily Bishop (Coronation Street) -- Aunt May Parker

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Radar O'Reilly -- Professor X
2. Charlie (from Charlie's Angels) -- Mr. Mind
3. Number Six -- Batman
4. Latka Gravas -- Howard the Duck
5. Jerry Seinfeld -- Spider-Man

*****

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Tom Cherry

1. Jim Rockford -- The Spirit
2. Uncle Arthur -- Mr. Mxyzptlk
3. Sue Sylvester -- Granny Goodness
4. Veronica Mars -- Barbara Gordon
5. Uncle Joe Carson -- Uncle Marvel

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) Richie Cunningham -- Archie
2) Zack Morris -- Archie
3) Dawson Leery -- Archie
4) Brandon Walsh -- Archie
5) Parker Lewis -- Archie

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Jessica Hyde -- Modesty Blaise
2. Number Six -- Frank
3. Frank Reynolds -- Reid Fleming
4. Dr Gregory House -- Black Jack
5. Kwai Chang Caine -- Usagi Yojimbo

*****

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Chad Nevett

1. Walter White -- Lex Luthor (Silver Age Version)
2. Latka Gravas -- Groot
3. Master Shake -- Batman
4. Chandler Bing -- Peter Parker
5. Nicholas Brody -- James "Bucky" Barnes

*****

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Mike Rhodes

* Chance Harper (Strange Luck 1995) -- John Constantine
* M.A.N.T.I.S. (Fox, 1994) -- Iron Man
* Martians from War of The Worlds series (Syndicated 1988) -- The Skrulls
* Prey (ABC, 1998) -- The Inhumans
* Battlestar Galactica (remake/reboot 2011) -- Electric Warrior

*****

topic and suggestions from Chris Duffy; thanks, Chris

*****
*****
 
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March 16, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


A Chris Schweizer Watercolor Demo


Jim and Frank at The Hugo House


Not Comics But Still Pretty Cool


Trailer For Titan Books' It Came!


Derf Presents On Journalistic Techniques In Comics


The Latest From Sam Henderson


An Image Comics Documentary Trailer
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 9 to March 15, 2013:

1. A military court decided to keep the Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh in jail for more interrogation, calling worldwide attention to this practice of detention without charges.

2. Some sort of directive involving Persepolis from the Chicago Public Schools -- we live in times where the exact nature of that directive is going to be denied and spun -- ends up being one of those spectacular, slow-motion PR car-crashes that just makes you shake your head in terms of the unnecessary stupidity of it all.

3. JManga's shut-down and a server-crushing, abortive promotion with Marvel and comiXology throws the spotlight on the state of the digital downloads market and jumpstarts the actual-downloads vs. access to restricted copies debate all over again. Start with the links here, maybe.

Winner Of The Week
I think Marvel Comics. They did share in the comiXology promotion setback, but that's more on the digital service provider than it is on them, and massive demand for your product that makes a bunch of news isn't a bad thing PR-wise. More importantly, being as aggressive as they were at SXSW with digital generally, from a position of strength, is a solid, solid move.

Loser Of The Week
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Also that we have someone called the CEO of a public school system.

Quote Of The Week
"These are not photos of torture. It's a drawing and it's one frame. I don’t think American kids of seventh grade have not seen any signs of violence. Seventh graders have brains and they see all kinds of things on cinema and the Internet. It's a black and white drawing and I'm not showing something extremely horrible. That's a false argument. They have to give a better explanation." -- Marjane Satrapi

*****

today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Neal Adams Mini-Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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I couldn't find a direct link in the e-mail PR; PR people, please provide direct links
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 56th Birthday, Steve Lafler!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Todd McFarlane!

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March 15, 2013


Go, Listen: Crogan Adventures Radio Show

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Missed it: Dave Brown Is UK Press Awards Cartoonist Of The Year

Dave Brown of the Independent won the cartoonist of the year honor at the Society of Editors' UK Press Awards held last week. Brown has been at that publication since 1996, and is about a quarter-century into his career overall. He's probably still best known for that cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating babies. Those awards are jury-selected and have been going since the middle 1970s.

In being given the award, Brown was cited for this cartoon specifically.
 
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Go, Look: Space In Text (Tumblr Edition)

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Mohammad Saba'aneh Detention To Hit One-Month Mark Tomorrow

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Here's the best English-language update out there this morning on the jailing of Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh, which tomorrow will reach the one-month mark. He has yet to be charged, was held in solitary confinement initially, has been refused family vistors, and has apparently been interrogated with more interrogation to come -- on what or to what end is unclear. The jailing and its potential political implications -- that Saba'aneh might have been jailed sole for expressing an opinion damaging to the political aims of those in power -- has been the focus of a great deal of agitation on behalf of those that would like to see the policy end.

The cartoonist has a Facebook presence here, which includes a number of cartoons done in solidarity with his plight. This one is very striking. The cartoonist's site seems devoted to tracking tweets about his situation.
 
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Go, Look: Miscellaneous Russ Heath Cover Art

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From Chicago On-Line Sources Comes Word Of Potential Removal Of Persepolis From School Libraries

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Here's the kind of thing that popped up this morning in e-mails and via twitter, this one complete with the apparent memo that went out to Chicago Public Schools officials to remove Marjane Satrapi's novel Persepolis and make sure it is not being taught in classrooms. That memo says this is according to a decision made at a meeting on Monday.

This should be fun to track. I don't remember anything in there that would be particularly objectionable, although I'm the houseguest that gets yelled at by his friends for the comics I leave on the kitchen table. Seriously, though, it would be at the extreme end of my friends that wouldn't let their teens read that one, and I'm from Indiana. The small-p political orientation of the work could enrage any number of idiots that might pursue removal and I supposed this could be a pre-emptive step while that is processed; I don't know. I don't see that Satrapi has said anything inflammatory recently, although she's generally outspoken in an admirable way, I think.

imageI'll be playing catch on this one this morning. I can't imagine there aren't 10,000 things more important to the conduct of a major city's school system than removing a years-old, much-lauded book, and I can't imagine anyone thinking this kind of decision is a way of handling anything that won't bring a bigger headache with it.

Update (10:30 AM ET): I had a reader write in that brought up an interesting point, that when they were on one of those panels to pick one book for an entire city to read the high-school librarian on the panel objected because they thought the book could be read as a dismissal of, and subsequent possible harassment focus, for traditional Muslim students. That's not something I considered. The city in that case chose another book.

Update (2:30 PM ET): Here's a pretty good summary article on where things stand about 1:30 PM Chicago time on Friday. It looks like this may have been directed at that single school rather than all schools; it looks like the directive came from the top, or at least the top of the school system; still no instigating incident; the library copy is not being removed because that's against the law; the book in question is a 7th Grade book. That starts to make a bit more sense, although it strikes me as a completely asinine decision -- both the decision itself and the people that want the book removed or being kept from use not knowing that this would get out and make them look bad. Sheesh.

Update (2:35 PM ET): Here's a bit more on the walk-back as far as the physical removal and the usual couching in language of inappropriateness for an age group. I guess the torture images may be a little severe is what they're saying. I have no idea still what the instigating incident for all of this was. Surely there has to be a better way of spending a beleaguered school district's time than this nonsense.

Update (4:15 PM ET): This Tribune article has quotes from Marjane Satrapi, who does pretty well for someone faced with this kind of stupidity early in the day.

Update (6:10 PM ET): Barbara Jones of the Chicago-area ALA in a press conference, caught here on video.


 
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Go, Look: A Visit To Fantagraphics

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a few photos I took around the place a couple of weeks ago
 
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Collective Memory: STAPLE! 2013

imageLinks to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2013 edition of STAPLE!, held March 2-3 in Austin at the Marchesa Hall And Theater.

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

*****

Institutional
* Convention Site
* Facility
* Host City

Audio
* STAPLE 2013 Indie Game Panel

Blog Entries And Tumblr
* KFJK 01
* KFJK 02
* KFJK 03
* Rick Klaw 01
* Rick Klaw 02
* Robert Boyd
* sacurrent
* StapleGator Tumblr
* Weird Girls
* WorkOfArtPG

Facebook
* STAPLE! On Facebook

Miscellaneous

News Stories and Columns
* Bleeding Cool
* Your News Now

Photos And Stand-Alone Imagery
* Allynn Garcia
* DeadbeatHero
* designcoyote
* Jamie Kinosian
* Sasha Blaschka
* Megha Issues
* STAPLE 01
* STAPLE 02
* STAPLE 03
* STAPLE 03
* STAPLE 04
* STAPLE 05
* STAPLE 06
* STAPLE 07
* STAPLE 08
* STAPLE 09
* STAPLE 10
* Stevan Zivadinovic

Twitter
* STAPLE! On Twitter
* #staple2013
* Steve Niles

Video
* Deborah Gill 01
* Deborah Gill 02

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Simon Roy At Study Group

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here's something interesting: a new digital comics magazine for Europe, with editions in French and in German. Christian Maiwald sent those links and says the French edition has a pay version with a bunch of extra content.

* Two big digital stories this week, big enough they led to initial, separate postings from this very not-good-at-digital-or-online-comics-stories site: JManga announced it is shutting down; a comiXology promotion with Marvel went awry. This will lead to a lot of discussion about downloadable files without restraint as a way to both avoid massive server-traffic shutdowns and to allow people to keep manga which they pay to see if there is a change in the arrangement that got it to them in the first place.

* I don't have a great grasp of what's being put out there in terms of comics that aren't aligned with one of the major publishers or digital distribution sites, but this looks like one of those. I imagine there are worlds and worlds of things being done out there.

* I'm also not certain that I know all the way how to place this announcement of IDW doing single issues through Apple's iBookstore in terms of its context -- I don't know if other have done this, or other services, or what. But it seems to me a fruitful thing for IDW. The single-issue format strikes me as an effective sampling format, if nothing else, and a way for a company like IDW to manipulate price per segment in order to get people to read.

* finally, I don't get a lot of "hey, I just launched a webcomic" e-mails these days, but I got one for this new webcomic so I thought I'd post it.
 
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If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: The Haunter

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Bruton on Good Cop Bad Cop #1.

* finessing child-killing: Bleeding Cool has an interesting post here on how finished art for a scene featuring the death of Robin is different from the earlier drafts, with implication as to what DC would wish communicated and how with sensitive material like that.

* not comics: movie fans please consider liking the Facebook page for the short movie my brother directed. My brother takes all the photos for this site that aren't terrible, and the movie features the nice lady that accompanied me to San Diego Con last year to help make sure I didn't pitch over from exhaustion.

* I don't think I've ever seen this Steve Rude drawing of Magneto and Professor X before, and I like all three of those things.

* seriously, what is up with all of these fantastic-looking comics shops?

* Robin McConnell talks to Julia Gfrörer.

* hey, look: it's NON #1.

* I don't recommend a lot of sales, but I do so enjoy these high-end mini-comics done by the Latvian collective behind kus!, and maybe you would, too. I know that I regret not buying all of those L'Association mini-comics 15 years ago.

* I'm not sure I understand the question being asked here, but I like Will Eisner's body of work and I always enjoyed seeing that guy at comics shows.

* finally: man, check out the Gorgo.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, John Nee!

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Happy 76th Birthday, Dan Adkins!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Ger Apeldoorn!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Scott Kurtz!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Alex Segura!

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I Love That Dylan Horrocks Is Drawing Cartoonists

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March 14, 2013


Go, Look: Robert Boyd's Comics Exhibit Checklist

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Here. Holy freaking crap, he has a lot of great stuff. If you're in Houston, you should go to his opening.
 
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Go, Look: The Muse

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Military Court Orders Further Detention Of Mohammad Saba'aneh

The latest English-language press report I can find on detained Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh says that an appeal on his behalf at the Ofer military court was rejected, and he was ordered to be held for another eight days. This should facilitate more interrogations, although I'm never quite sure if that's "interrogations" or actual interrogations or something terrifying that's related to interrogations. The report also said he had been held in solitary confinement before being transferred and that the brother of the 30-year-old cartoonist was arrested on March 6.
 
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Go, Look: Photo Set Of New Store In Charlottesville

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JManga Shutdown, comiXology #1s Snafu Throw Spotlight On The Formatting Of Digital Comics One "Owns"

So apparently the web site JManga has announced it is shutting down after about a year and a half in business. It is generally believed that the site never gained traction with its potential readership, although for all I know about that kind of business the real reason is "werewolves." Derik A Badman notes in succinct, funny fashion that any comics content you purchased from that disappears along with the site. My basic understanding has been that when you buy comics from these sites you're basically buying access to read these comics on their site. My further impression has always been this is at least partly due to the notion that giving people the actual comics will only facilitate more sharing of same through uploading and even direct transfer, although I suppose there are other factors in play.

This basic set-up is also as I understand the way the popular comiXology site works, at least in broad terms, and thus the JManga closure raises the question for some folks as to what happens if that site goes away, or any of the other sites like it. (I would also imagine that this also puts on the table what happens if a publishing partner ends their partnership, but maybe that's been covered somewhere.) Anyway, this set of issues gets a workout here, with the added oomph that the writer believes that truly downloadable comics would be less of a strain on servers than the current system, and that this would have helped comiXology avoide their #1 promotion difficulties. If massive and complex pricing variations are going to be inherent to that business model moving forward, that's something to be considered.

I think where this gets a little tricky for me in terms of the rhetoric involved is that I don't really believe I'm being sold a false bill of goods. I'm far from a sophisticated customer for these sorts of products and comics on-line generally, to the point I've made some spectacularly poor readings of Kickstarter projects, but I still sort of fundamentally knew with these kind of comics that I've only ever purchased the right to read something for the lifetime of the service from which I purchased it, sort of but not entirely the same way I'm reading free comics at GoComics.com until they decide they're not free. In other words, I'm not suddenly dismayed by the implications of JManga crashing and burning, as I know on a gut level that this is what I'm in for. I think if people know that, or if they should reasonably be expected to know that, then you kind of shift into the endless backseat driving model for criticism of these businesses, what they should do. I'm always reluctant to pursue this because these companies are generally successful and seem to know what they're talking about, while I'm woefully under-educated on these matters and have made a total of 31 cents as an adult. I welcome the continuing conversation as I ramp up to speed, particularly those that separate the forthright opinions expressed from the thundering certainty with which they're communicated.
 
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Go, Look: Re-Colored EC Comics Covers

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Go, Look: Simon Roy On deviantART

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* interesting weekend for shows, as there's something in Leipzig that looks cool, day shows near Chicago and in Albany, the sizable and well-liked MegaCon in Orlando, and the jewel of the European comics festivals in beautiful cities sometimes attended by bunches of North Americans but maybe nearly as effective for the idea of it as for the reality, Fumetto. Anders Nilsen and Robert Crumb are the primary exhibits of interest when it comes to English-language cartoonists there in Luzern, although there's a ton of stuff as always.

* NYCC starts rolling out tickets today.

* SPX invites you to try out their registration walk-through.

* so this convention means that if a second edition of The Projects comes off there will be five legitimate comics conventions/festivals of the kind where people might stay in a hotel or house nearby in Portland this year. That is fairly awesome, actually.

* get those Stumptown Award applications done immediately, and postmarked right away.

* Bill Kartalopoulos sent along word about Open Space's Fourth Annual Publications And Multiples Fair, held in Baltimore, Maryland. His list of comics-type people attending included Austin English, Matthew Thurber, Clara Bessijelle, Leah Wishnia, Andy Burkholder, Lale Westvind, Eamon Espey, all of the Closed Caption Comics people and himself. Here are several links Bill sent. One more here.

* the Lakes International Comic Art Festival sent out a press release crowing about an admittedly awesome line-up of guests. The European-style festival in the UK can now boast: Bryan and Mary Talbot, Sean Phillips, Ed Brubaker, Jose Munoz (!), Joe Sacco, Posy Simmonds, John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Glyn Dillon, Jon McNaught, Doug Braithwaite and Andy Diggle. That sounds like a blast.

* Seattle's Short Run announced for November 30. Thanksgiving weekend is a tough weekend for comics shows, usually, because of difficulties in travel and making the time, but in this case that's almost exclusively a local show with a local audience. I bet there are fewer than 20 people that traveled to last year's.

* finally, I'm not the best judge of web sites, but it strikes me that this is a very good web site for a smaller show.
 
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If I Were In Houston, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Speed Comics #22

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I am probably the last person to catch up to that fun Wired piece on Vertigo Comics, but in case that's not me but you, here you go.

image* Richard Bruton on "California, Part Three." Noah Berlatsky on 7 Miles A Second. Sean T. Collins on Haunter.

* my apologies to Carlos Nine for aging him a year recently via a birthday announcement. The artist just turned 69.

* here's a report on a graphic novels panel presentation at SXSW moderated by Calvin Reid.

* Alex Dueben talks to James Vance. Paul Constant profiles Eroyn Franklin.

* I don't think this is the first time I've encountered an article on the origins of Alfred E. Neuman, but this article looks as well-researched and as fun as any of them and I look forward to digging into it.

* David Brothers digs into Garth Ennis' work a bit.

* the Harveys nomination ballot is now open. This used to be one of the great chores of being in comics, and as a result there were some years a long time ago when it was rumored one or two ballots separated the last person to get on the final ballot from the first five runners-up. It's easier now, but I imagine it's still worth doing the nominations ballot both in terms of how much relative influence you can have on this venerable awards program, and just being a supportive industry person generally.

* I like this quote of the day.

* Dylan Horrocks draws George Herriman. Roger Langridge recently visited the Horrocks household.

* I can't imagine a post more fun to read than a post with photos of Seth originals in it.

* finally, someone wrote in to remind me that the Emerald City Comicon actually streamed a bunch of their programming, including that Image Comics panel that I talked about in my ECCC report. That's great that they're able to do that now. I'm not sure I can always find the time to watch all of the panels from any show, but there is always one or two I miss so if they start showing up after the shows in a place I can catch them, that's swell. More importantly, panels are definitely a resource I hope someone will eventually archive.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Steve Bissette!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Tom Batiuk!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Brian Walker!

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Happy 47th Birthday, JP Stassen!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Simon Fraser!

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March 13, 2013


Seattle's Short Run Festival Announces 2013 Date: November 30

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Seattle's Short Run Festival has announced its 2013 show will take place in Washington Hall on November 30. This will be the show's 3rd year.

According to the press release, "After the festival closes, Washington Hall will be transformed into a 'Comics Prom', a 21 + dance party." Well, all right then.
 
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Go, Look: Joseph Remnant's Street Musician Series

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Analysts Weigh In On February 2013 Direct Market Numbers

imageThe comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has offered up their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for February 2013.

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

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

This is one of those weird months where there was a monster in the room -- the multiple-multiple-multiple variant cover Justice League Of America #1. Like most of the aggressive, multiple-variant stunts of the recent past, the state-by-state cover offering was enough to push the comic book over 300,000 copies sold. This doesn't seem to have sucked the sales oxygen from the room, however, at least in that other recent top serial comic book performers did their standard very good, with another half-dozen titles at 94K and over. Marvel seems to have greatly benefited from its own version of playing with open Direct Market flame, double-publishing titles within a single month to strong effect at multiple points in the top 20. Sales drop under 50K right around 35 titles, for whatever that's worth.

The numbers on Saga, at almost 50K, are also worth noting. That is a bonafide hit book.

The graphic novels chart is a bit more interesting for the strong showing of this month's #1 book, the latest LOEG effort from Top Shelf, and for the number secured by the latest Adventure Time effort. I don't suppose there's a lot of interest there sales-wise, but it's always a bit compelling to see which of the books sell in Direct Market shops. All in all it seems a normal month: positive sales trends overall continue, manipulation of sales up top has short-term effects but brings long-term questions, etc. etc. For now, though, everything seems sustainable, which isn't always the case in this particular realm of comics.
 
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Go, Look: Venn Diagrams Issue One

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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.

*****

DEC121205 HAND DRYING IN AMERICA HC $29.95
A new Ben Katchor book, which basically means you could walk into the store, buy one of these, walk out, and you would have had a fine comics experience for that week. I hope that this one gets a bit more attention than the last one, which was inexplicably ignored by the comics-culture side of things. I always wonder if the relative idiosyncrasy of Katchor's work in terms of the daily grind of comics -- it's not like you'd ever expect too many people to cite him as an influence in the way that other citations get your head nodding in a long interview -- has kept him from being fully embraced in the comic-shop milieu. I don't know; he's not lacking for fans, though, and the books consistently compelling, with every release is worth checking out.

imageDEC121219 HAIRSHIRT HC GN (MR) $24.95
In addition to the thrill of walking into a comics shop knowing you're going to encounter a first-rate, known quantity like Ben Katchor, this week also provides a book-length effort from a talent with which you're probably only familiar in bits and pieces: Pat McEown. I'm dying to see this one, and I'd drive into any comics shop within a hour that promised me a glimpse.

NOV120067 BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL TP VOL 26 BLIZZARD (MR) $19.99
OCT121259 NAOKI URASAWA 21ST CENTURY BOYS GN VOL 02 $12.99
JAN131320 PARADISE KISS TP VERTICAL INC ED VOL 03 $19.95
That's a lot of quality manga -- two sturdy to excellent series either having reached (the Urasawa) or getting close to (the Samura) their conclusions, plus the last volume of a three-volume reprinting of an early series by Ai Yazawa, perhaps best known for Nana. I'm not sure if you weren't following these already you'd jump on at this moment, but there are a lot of happy quality-manga fans out there today.

DEC128352 BLACK BEETLE #1 NO WAY OUT (2ND PTG) $3.99
DEC120171 BEFORE WATCHMEN OZYMANDIAS #6 (MR) $3.99
JAN130615 WALKING DEAD #108 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
DEC128322 ALL NEW X-MEN #2 3RD PTG IMMONEN VAR NOW $3.99
DEC128323 ALL NEW X-MEN #3 3RD PTG IMMONEN VAR NOW $3.99
DEC128324 ALL NEW X-MEN #4 3RD PTG IMMONEN VAR NOW $3.99
DEC128325 ALL NEW X-MEN #5 3RD PTG IMMONEN VAR NOW $3.99
DEC128326 ALL NEW X-MEN #7 2ND PTG MARQUEZ VAR NOW $3.99
This is a bit of a strange week for serial comics, the kind where I figure you'd send ten different comics readers into a shop to buy something in this format and you'd get eight different sets of choices when these folks came back out. The new Walking Dead hits, that's been rock-solid for its fans for quite some time. The X-Men stuff is the Brian Bendis/Stuart Immonen offering that looks like it's hitting with fans a bit: I like Immonen's work there and Brian Bendis when he's re-formulating something is the best Brian Bendis right now. He knows those audiences very well. The Black Beetle stuff is very pretty, and reminds me of the late-'80s Eclipse and First comic books for which I was a fiend at the time. Finally, this is the last scheduled date for the Before Watchmen effort, although I guess one of the comics is a bit behind and still needs to come out and an epilogue-type story once discussed is now never to be released -- at least it hasn't been heard from since. I'm not as excited as the day Watchmen #12 came out, but maybe some fans are. I should probably write a follow-up essay about those comics.

MAY121178 MICKEY SPILLANE FROM FILES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL 01 $49.99
NOV120058 CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES HC VOL 04 $49.99
These are two collections of material -- the Mike Hammer effort from the 1950s newspaper strip, the Biro material from roughly the same period -- that I'm glad exist even though I'm baffled that there's any audience for them. We are a richer arts community from having so much work out there to be seen.

SEP121231 FRAZETTA SKETCHBOOK SC $24.95
The below image isn't the cover to the Vanguard softcover sketchbook, but it's the Frank Frazetta art that's been used to put one together. I always look at Frank Frazetta books when I see them, even though at this point it's mostly a nostalgic pull. There was a time when visual culture was very different, more desert than marketplace, and the vigor that Frazetta's art had in spade felt like a long drink of water after a lengthy, hot walk though dust and powder.

*****

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 because I hate you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Simon Roy On Flickr

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

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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Joe Staton Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you really need to get your entry for the Stumptown Comic Art Awards submitted. You only have until Friday, and that's if you go to the post office yourself.

image* Craig Fischer on Messages In A Bottle. Paul Di Filippo on The Freddie Stories. Don MacPherson on Grey Area #1.

* go, look: Rafael Grampa draws Spider-Man. Max draws a library-inth. John Kenn draws my first day in the third grade. Dustin Harbin draws a kid in a tree. Renee French draws whatever Renee French likes. Plus an ant. Matthias Adolfsson draws the maze of my dreams. Steve Rude draws on commission.

* on the end of formal comics censorship in Australia.

* not comics: Matt Maxwell looks at this painting by the great Carl Barks and sees more than a little Earl Otus in there.

* from Iestyn Pettigrew comes this link to a discussion about how to process comics as art, posted at the site of Great Britain's leading modern art museum (or one of them, I guess, I couldn't say for sure). The one time I'm glad I don't have the background in art to say smart things that people with that background can say is when I see people having trouble processing an issue that I blow past without a single worry.

* Bill Baker talks to Rick Geary.

* not comics: the cartoonist and artist Nate Powell went on a Civil Rights-related tour and took a bunch of photos.

* finally: holy crud, Jack Kirby.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Mike Sterling!

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Happy 60th Birthday, RA Jones!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Marc Sumerak!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Andrew Weiss!

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Happy 92nd Birthday, Al Jaffee!

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March 12, 2013


Go, Look: Pigs!

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Two Institutions Of Potential Major Interest Announced

These are both PDF links, if that makes a difference to anyone out there:

* the filmmaker George Lucas plans a cultural museum with a significant illustration and cartooning component. That could be fascinating. As I recall, Lucas is one of those guys that has several pieces of key art from both of those areas.

* the Scuola Internazionale di Comics will open a branch in Chicago, which I guess beat out Miami and San Francisco according to this press release. They have nine locations in Rome. Sara Pichelli is a graduate, and Paolo Serpieri is the school's artistic director. Next year the school will celebrate its 35th birthday. They'll booth at C2E2 and will soon hold an open house.
 
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OTBP: Roughhouse #1

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good luck on that one
 
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Additional Notes About The Marvel #1s Promotion At comiXology

imageSo this promotion by Marvel and the digital comics distribution service comiXology whereby a massive number of #1 issues and related offerings would be made available for free for a limited time didn't come off as planned, as crushing demand squeezed the affected servers like little kids with strong hands set loose on a table of modeling clay. The service shut things down and issued an apology. I could conceivably see them doing some more formal spin and outreach through the mainstream-oriented comics press this morning, although I haven't noticed any at this writing.

If there's some sort of rational solution in terms of how to make this up to affected customers -- a plan both smartly conceived and well-executed -- it's hard for me to see this as a huge deal in terms of comiXology and its relationship to its existing and potential customer base. There's a lot of heat that may result when you're denied something you've just been promised, but I'm not sure if it isn't more flash paper than four-alarm. There are no real rivals for comiXology on this particular playing field to swoop in and snag this audience, it's the kind of thing that can be made up to those customers with an exact or near-exact or even enhanced version of what was originally promised, and if all of that goes well there can be some PR benefit to be found in something failing because of massive demand. It's a memorable moment. I'm usually horrified by that last one, but I don't really see people truly inconvenienced here in a way that's resulted in my wanting to barf in the past when that particular swerve was employed. I think there's enough basic appeal in what comiXology does and what they can do with a promotion like this one, which is give you digital copies out the wazoo, and I think the site is easy enough to use that I believe people will give them another shot even if they're furious at them for a little while.

This seems a bit more compelling on the company/publisher level, as comiXology needs to be able to keep their promises to companies like Marvel in part to dissuade them from eventually taking this business back in-house, or at least entertaining that idea. Or just partnering elsewhere. The service may also need added cooperation from the publisher to execute this popular promotion -- if the time limitation was a big deal to Marvel, say, this could have some effect on how comiXology makes good on that initial promise. We'll see. It's worth noting that this is also one of those things where the huge demand may open more doors than the botched execution may shut. I would imagine that if Marvel eventually gets these books into the hands of fans and that this results in a bunch of different sales of subsequent issues, or maybe even if it doesn't, they'll not only be happy but other companies will seek to employ their back catalogs in similar fashion. If they find some immediate, workable solutions and everyone gets on board, it might turn out that facilitating such sales is something for which comiXology becomes known in a positive sense. That's a while off, though.
 
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Go, Look: Miscellaneous Michael W. Kaluta

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the release of the new Marshal Law collection is imminent in a way that anything about it hardly counts as publishing news -- we should have it in our hands in about six weeks. Still, I was delighted to see a final cover image, as that's been a long-delayed book and one that I've been looking forward to reading/owning/seeing.

image* I know that I've almost certainly discussed the Fall Renée French book from Yam Books, Hagelbarger And The Nightmare Goat on this site at least once before now, but I'm not sure that I knew there were some preview images available. French is in a really good place right now creatively, and I'm always delighted to see her work with really good, tiny boutique houses like Yam -- I know the books will look great, and it brings the publisher to the attention of a bunch of different artists that pay attention to what French is doing.

* another book that is almost upon us is a grand collection of Bob Fingerman's Minimum Wage series, a 1990s alt-comic that seemed both completely of and slightly ahead of its time. I would imagine that it has a much bigger potential audience that will hopefully catch up to it in this form. Here's a free preview from that book that I saw when Heidi MacDonald tweeted it out.

* Viz Media will be doing Ben 10 books inspired by the hit cartoon series and licensing success. I think that's a good match. It'll be nice to buy some of those for some super-energetic boy-children of my friends.

* DC announced its next major storyline in its Batman book by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo will be a story about the character's origins and early adventures as now defined by the New 52 universe. I made a twitter joke about this yesterday, but I think it's legitimate for a publisher to seek press for storylines on major books like that, and I think it's worth paying some attention to as publishing news. One thing I like about the way they've handled that Batman book recently is that they make buying that serial comic sound important and worth doing just for itself: not because it's part of a wider storyline, or because it has implications for X, Y and Z editorial-driven plotlines, or because it ties into a movie. I think it's a model worth following, really.

* the other piece of DC Comics news worth noting is that June will only see 50 serial comics come out from the publisher rather than 52, which would be a branding problem in most cases historically but not these days, not really. As I recall, some of the recent interview with DC executive spoke in terms of publishing according to what the market would bear, so it's not a huge surprise. I do think it's interesting to note that with Before Watchmen leaving the marketplace and with a potential shrink away from 52 serial comics, that seems a significant amount of books overall, just the bulk of them, that we won't see now. I mean, I'm sure they'll have best-sellers, and they sold a lot of variant-cover Justice League Of America books recently and should sell a metric ton of the Snyder-Lee Superman and seem to be orienting themselves to more books featuring top characters, but that's a slightly different strategy. Enough to note, anyway.

* via a tweet from Jog comes this article describing a new Masamune Shirow work.

* Koyama Press sent out a pair of press releases while I was in the Pacific Northwest. The first was to announce a distribution deal with Consortium Book Sales And Distribution. They already do Nobrow Press and Uncivilized Books as part of their 100-plus publisher line-up. That sounds like a good match for them. The other was to formalize their debuts for TCAF: Michael DeForge's Very Casual, Julie Delporte's Journal and Victor Kerlow's Everything Takes Forever. It's nice to see people use TCAF -- and events like SPX and BCGF more generally -- as publishing launchpads for new books. I think shows work well for publishers that way, and vice-versa, at all levels.

* finally, new Seth! And it's auto-bio.

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Go, Look: Simon Roy Comics And Illustration Portfolio

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Go, Look: Marie Severin Draws EC Comics

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Go, Look: On Captain America #198

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain on COPRA #4. Johanna Draper Carlson on A Parent's Guide To The Best Kids Comics.

* here's Glenn Walker on Marvel introducing elements of its 1980s "New Universe" into its various titles now. I thought it was inevitable that they do this, but I thought they might go sudden appearance rather than slow ramp-up.

* the day they forgot to print the comics.

* Tom Bondurant writes about Jerry Ordway's Internet posting last week about not getting new comics work. I've had some people e-mail me, because I've written in the past about the limited number of years that people in comics may work or may be expected to work. I think this one was different in that Ordway seems like one of those professionals that used to get work for a really long time, much longer than if he's no longer to get new comics work of the mainstream variety as of now. It's also a sign that people don't really understand why DC editorial is making some of the decisions it's making, and second-guessing editorial decision is a big part of following those companies closely.

* hooray for Mario Hernandez.

* you have only a couple of days to get in on this project by Roman Muradov.

* not comics: go, Coach Todd.

* Chris Mautner profiles a local comic art collector.

* so I guess Disney has no plans to move forward with 2D hand-drawn feature-length animation. I can't say as I'm crushed about this, but I'm not a fan of traditional animation. A lot of my peers see comics as an extension or as something that extends into that art form a lot more than I do.

* that time Colleen Doran worked on Lynn Johnston's art.

* JP Fallavollita talks to Andy Diggle. Andy Burns talks to Fred Van Lente. Dylan Horrocks profiles Alan Moore.

* Deb Aoki posted a great photo of Shigeru Mizuki, in front of his picture morgue.

* not comics: here's a short essay/rant from Sean T. Collins about the lyrical and unexplained in fantasy, using the 1980s fantasy films as a springboard because of their inability to get across the detail involved in Tolkien-style world building.

* finally, I can't remember if I linked to this review of a recent John Cuneo show, but even if I did, it's worth mentioning again.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Graham Nolan!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Sy Barry!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Nathan Schrieber!

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March 11, 2013


Go, Look: Remembering Moebius

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Third Triennial Academic Conference At Festival Of Cartoon Art Puts Out Call For Papers

Here. That's going to be a big to-do there in mid-November, so make sure you try and go if you have something to present. In fact, The Beat just posted information on this like it was an unknown thing until now...? I thought everyone knew that grand opening was coming. I guess I was wrong. But yeah, they're opening up their big library at the same time they're running their slightly-under-the-radar every-other-year festival, so that should another comics-visit must for 2013.
 
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Go, Look: Honeymoon Spotlight

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Marvel, comiXology Drive Attention To Digital Download Comics At SXSW

Using the technology-friendly and forward cultural festival SXSW as a springboard, the successful digital download site comiXology working with Marvel has in the past few days driven a significant amount of attention and resulting traffic to its efforts, to Marvel's Internet-comics strategies, and to the phenomenon of reading comics with essentially or even actual print-ready characteristics on-line or through devices. The main lever for that has been a promotional effort by Marvel to offer up hundreds upon hundreds of free #1 and related-issue comics in order to get people trying out various titles and Marvel's book on comiXology more generally. This has crushed the site's servers, if the number of error messages and general on-line freaking out is to be believed, and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't. I can't even call it up to link to it more directly right now. I think it's here. Good luck with that.

This particular promotion and the general PR push for comiXology has been interesting to me in that I think it proves me wrong that it's the matter-of-fact that will have the biggest impact in digital comics -- at least of a certain type. My thought has always been that companies like Marvel, creators more generally, should have just committed in a broad and "there it is; we're going to use it" way to putting their work for sale on-line via digital copies. I wonder now if the resistance to getting that work up hasn't been a boon in that suddenly people can wake up to these massive libraries these companies have through grand or even modest but frequent price-driven giveaways. Shows you what I know.

The company has also chosen to spotlight its Submit program for indie comics through a partnership with Shannon Wheeler, as described here. I think those two things together may be fairly significant if they result in long-term execution along the lines hoped for.
 
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Go, Look: Sit Back Down

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Continued Attention Paid To The Jailing Of Mohammad Saba'aneh

An interview here by Aaron Schachter with cartoonist Uri Fink is one of several pieces that continuing to drive attention to the fact that the Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh is one of the nearly 5000 Palestinians currently sitting in Israeli jails, in this case and in many other without a charge. The cartoonist's arrest has helped draw attention to this issue, whereby authorities can hold someone that way for up to 90 days and even indefinitely at the prosecutors' discretion.

Saba'aneh was detained in mid-February while crossing back into the country from Jordan. He has published in several places including Cartoon Movement, which has been on this story from the start.
 
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Go, Look: An MK Brown Short Comic

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Missed It: Chris Sprouse Departs Orson Scott Card Superman Story For Anthology; DC Puts It On Hold

imageI missed a couple of key developments in the story of DC's plan to include an Orson Scott Card-written story in an anthology featuring Superman to go on-line and then into print -- a project that more generally ties together interest in Superman driven by a new movie with the desire for the publisher to try new material using digital strategies of varying sorts. The first was that artist Chris Sprouse decided to withdraw from the project; the second was that DC announced that Card's story would be put on hold.

What this means, particularly moving forward, is going to take some sorting out and some time, and I'm not sure we'd get all the way even if it became a full-time job. As I've stated a bunch of times, the thing I find curious and strangely ironic is that anyone at all takes Superman so seriously that they see him as a paragon of certain virtues in a way that extends onto those making stories about him, or the potential for the kind of stories they might make. The irony comes in that DC's continuing insistence that their characters are awesome and really mean something has been taken seriously and then turned on them to criticize an editorial hire, with a further cultural item of note that it's the less conservative elements of the political spectrum that are being utilized to make that criticism -- maybe not the stereotyped conception of Superman, but a Superman as an inclusive, uniting force. I'm not even sure how that gets built into any sort of ongoing view of the character, though. In this Salon interview, Glen Weldon suggests that maybe all political conceptions of Superman are terrible. Then again, I'm not sure that what Card would have written would have engaged the political constitution of the character in the way that, say, Grant Morrison's does, albeit on a different axis.

The censorship issue interests, too, although not in that Internet-lawyer way of seeking out hypocrisies and shouting that precedents have now been firmly established. I don't think that's the case. If I had to guess -- and I'm a terrible guesser -- I think there was a big element of right-now, small-p politics here, in that while Card working on a prominent superhero or having a publishing agreement more generally with a comics publisher or even a movie coming out hasn't been as big a deal in the past, the post-2012 election brought with it a line of "fuck this and fuck him" thinking for a lot of people when confronted with issues of intolerance and bigotry and their agents, an impatience with coddling expressions of belief and outright political activism with significant human costs as just a difference of opinion. I actually think that's healthy. I think what's key is that you look at what is being threatened, what is being asked, what is being called out before you draw any equivalencies. For instance, I would suggest there's a Grand Canyon of difference between calling for legal or extra-legal, violent action against people getting married than it is for declaring your unhappiness and intention not to buy things regarding a political activist getting a sweet freelance gig featuring a character we have been continually invited to invest in as meaningful and partly the cultural property of fans and society more generally. I never saw anyone saying they didn't want Card to make art, and in fact I personally hope Card makes as much of it as he desires.

Related to Card's own art, here's a piece from an admirer of Card's much-respected science fiction novels about the particular disappointments they feel with Card's political activism.

It was interesting talking to pros about this at ECCC off the record. I had about a half-dozen brief conversations -- with no one I mentioned by name in my ECCC report, by the way. Everyone except one person ventured the opinion -- roughly -- that what was interesting to them was that this was another example of DC's general editorial lack of foresight concerning details, and the company general prickliness on LGBT issues when they arise. I'm not sure I know enough about either line to say whether that's the best way to interpret it, either one of those things, but I thought it was interesting the bulk of the conversations went there. I'm not sure DC had any other way to play it once things got going.
 
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Go, Look: Miscellaneous Bernie Wrightson

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* fans are attempting to raise $25,000 for the creator Roman Dirge after a short hospital stay caused by a hit and run accident. I am glad the cartoonist is recovering, and I would imagine that anything you could give to alleviate this particular financial burden would go a long way to both seeing to it that Dirge has time to make more comics and to showing your appreciation for the comics he's made, if you're a fan.

* Dave Kellett is doing another Kickstarter on behalf of his documentary project, which will apparently feature audio from Bill Watterson. Usually when someone does a second Kickstarter project all sorts of alarms go off, but this is very specifically targeted and well-incentivized. It has already met its significant goal with more than three weeks remaining.

* veteran creator Art Thibert has a kickstarter going here.

* the 2013 edition of the Steve Rude sketchbook is being kickstarted here.

* here's a crowd-funder from some nice person that wrote me asking that I go and look at it. Seems pretty straight-forward to me. If nothing else, it's a site with which I'm completely unfamiliar.

* finally, there was a big hullabaloo about a Kickstarter attempted and then suspended featuring a project by the writer Mark Andrew Smith and the artist James Stokoe, a project so massively and successfully funded during its first go-round that it was kind of a news story. You can start here or here if you want to unfurl what happened this time.

It seems like there are a few threads there. One is the use of Kickstarter as kind of a substitute retailing mechanism -- which many people claim it is (usually when confronted with skepticism over cynical aspects of certain projects), and which it's my understanding the site itself and many of its most fervent fans believe it is not. In other words, there's a strong sense that Kickstarter is there to facilitate the making of projects, not to get projects into folks' hands with maximum reward. Another is that artist James Stokoe distanced himself from the project, with all the resulting claims of malfeasance and flashes of anger that this can sometimes bring, including a reminder that Smith had a previous falling out with another artist with whom he was partnered on a creative project. Another is a kind of general confidence in Kickstarter issue, whether or not one can always count on these projects being completed and if more successful projects are even more susceptible to being at risk and how much blame gets placed on Kickstarter, if any, and how much on the artists in question.

I always assumed that at some point there would be some sort of group-accounting mechanism for past projects woven into the fabric of the site, where you can go and see if people got their stuff, but I don't think that's happened at all yet except informally. At any rate, the second kickstarter was suspended, and I don't see any significant alterations in how anyone does business except maybe in what Smith is able to convince people to crowdfund.
 
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Go, Look: Simon Roy Tagged On Tumblr

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Go, Look: Jim Rugg At Fonts In Use

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Go, Look: D&D&D

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on Pope Hats #3. Colin Panetta on The Badger #46. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Resident Alien, Unterzakhn, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Nemo: Heart Of Ice and a bunch of different comic books. Robert Boyd reviews five different comics.

* it's still very odd in a sense to see coverage like this emanating from major news organization. That's also worth reading for the eclectic group of artists assembled as representative of Thompson's career. That is not the group I'd put together, but Kim's been involved with so many books there worlds of interpretations there.

* Bill Baker Talks to Keu Cha. Adam Witt talks to Brandon Graham.

* Batman hasn't been reacting well to the latest tragic storyline.

* the retailer and foundational comics blogger Mike Sterling notes that a long-time customer at his store passed away, and talks about him a bit. Noticing someone is gone and then googling them and finding out the bad news is something we all do a lot of these days, and it's only going to get more frequent until it's our time to go.

* there was a press release late last week put out there by Diamond where the distributor reported well over four and a half million comic books were ordered for the forthcoming Free Comic Day 2013. That's a lot of funnybooks.

* Josh Kopin applauds Jeph Jacques for keeping a story moment a story moment rather than making a big deal over what's not all that big a deal.

* finally, here's a super-fun Saul Steinberg article, about re-assembling a lost work.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Simon Pierre Mbumbo!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Lea Hernandez!

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Happy 36th Birthday, J. Caleb Mozzocco!

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Our Site Difficulties Should Be Over, Maybe, I Hope To God

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Thank you for patience with our light blogging as the site blinked in and out at the server level for three weeks, a period of time when half of the CR team was on the road and half of it was super-busy at the day job. If there was ever a perfect storm of this site's dysfunctional qualities, it came in the last three weeks. I apologize. We've taken steps to help ensure it won't happen again, which means it probably will happen again but at least there will be steps involved.

I hope to catch up with some lightly-examined news stories over the next three weeks.

Two of the longer pieces I was able to get up are an Emerald City Comicon report and an interview with Gary Groth. I'm happy with both of those, and I hope you check them out.
 
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Toren Smith, RIP

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March 10, 2013


Several Notes From Emerald City Comic-Con Weekend

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By Tom Spurgeon
Additional Reporting And Coverage By Jen Vaughn


What follows are several observations from a weekend spent at the Emerald City Comicon in beautiful downtown Seattle, Washington. This is going up on a Sunday because my site has been a disaster on the server end recently and I haven't been able to get on here to finish it up before now. So please forgive me.

* so in a few short years Emerald City has gone from promising newcomer to basically the start of the North American convention season. That doesn't mean there are no shows held before this one, or that they aren't great, or that there aren't shows elsewhere which attract the attention of North American comics-makers. What it does mean is that this is the first show which enough people in comics attend and/or to which they pay attention to kind of mark the collective mental adjustment into con season. No sleep until Brooklyn.

* my apologies for how uneven the following might become. It's been difficult to post recently.

* because of various quirks inherent to travel in 2013, it was cheaper of me to take a train into Los Angeles for about 36 hours and then fly north to Seattle. I think this is actually becoming more of a thing, as I have friends that will assemble trips according to lowest cost in a way that takes them three or four hours away from their intended destination. This is particularly true of people on the West Coast going east, I think. They might fly to Louisville to drive to Indianapolis. It's worth noting how much changes in the way we travel have an impact on cons and shows and thus comics. I still know people that set what days they attend San Diego, or what East Coast shows they'll do at all, based on travel considerations.

* I did a couple of comics-related things in L.A. despite my best efforts not to. I honestly thought I wasn't going to have any time to do anything, so I wasn't going to try and contact anyone, but I ended up having a few hours here and there.

image* I visited Jonah Weiland in the new North Hollywood Comic Book Resources offices. I did my morning Internet about 200 feet up the street in a corporate coffee place, taking a long break to do so in the middle of my morning walk, so it seemed rude not to say hi. I'm as friendly with Jonah as two guys of approximately the same age who do sort of the same thing but in a way where there's almost no overlap whatsoever can be friendly. That's pretty friendly. I generally enjoy Jonah. We come at things really, really differently, but I still like reading things on that site and the things he does that I wouldn't do -- like the "exclusives" fixation -- are things I understand someone else doing.

* it's a nice space, the new CBR, with half of the office now given over to... well, if you follow CBR and track the kind of things they've started to do over the last few years you can guess why they wanted some extra room right in the office. They were still in the stuff in boxes stage of unpacking when I showed up. But I liked the building. CBR has kind of a back office, but the building has space in it on the street that'd be nice for a publisher. That's a cool neighborhood, still growing, adding shops and restaurants like mad. You could do much, much worse.

* Jonah is one of the few comics editors that also thinks like a producer/publisher, if that makes any sense. I like talking to him for those insights.

* we both enthused over how much we've come to enjoy Comic-Con, which is weird in that Jonah spends the entire week on a boat in the harbor and I cover the kinds of comics people are quick to say the convention doesn't emphasize anymore. We also talked about the possibilities for more shows in the greater Los Angeles area.

* anyway, I think CBR is pretty settled in. I liked the feel of the place. North Hollywood is kind of perched on top of that whole region, so I bet they're bound to have a lot of guests popping over to do whatever. It made me want an office again, that's for sure.

* I can't really share any of the gossip, which mostly involved Jonah and I explaining to the other person who we were talking about. Jonah betrayed no confidences, and I have no confidences to betray, so it sort of worked out. We agreed that in general it's time for the non-creatives in comics to pick up their games to match the creative flowering of the medium. So get to work everybody. Seriously, stop reading this site and go do something that makes money appear in cartoonists' pockets. Jonah and talked about you, specifically, needing to work harder. I mean, we blew a big chunk of an afternoon doing this, but the rest of you are on the clock.

* Jonah suggested I walk up the street to Blastoff. This is a new store in North Hollywood, run by a team including half of the Eisner SOR-winning team from the Earth 2 store a few years back, Jud Meyers. Here's a half dozen photos from my visit, including Mr. Meyers right up top. My brother Whit Spurgeon took them on his phone. Please note my vintage artbomb.net t-shirt, as I'm able to fit into all sorts of clothes from the late '90s now.

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* as you can see it's a nice, clean store, perfect for signings and events, with a devoted kids place in the front of the shop and some decorative elements that are fun but not overwhelming. I liked it. I bought some superhero books, since I don't usually see them. Stuff with apocalyptic events facing brave Jack Kirby co-creations. You know how they are. The thing is, I went into two brand-new stores like this in the two weeks I was on the road, both from retailers who were using the good year that the Direct Market of hobby and comics stores has enjoyed to make something of their own in a new place. It's enough to give one hope. I really like comic shops; my criticisms of them usually come when I feel they've asked to be privileged in a way I think is detrimental, or when figures are kind of fudged in a way that flatters them in a way they don't deserve. But shops are great -- they've made comics healthy and profitable in a way people keep coming in and exploiting that money away from creators, so that's a sign right there. Oh, I'm just kidding. I like all the ways to buy comics, but I like comic book shops best of all. I wouldn't be here without them.

* good luck to Blastoff. You should visit, particularly if you're nearby doing an interview with Jonah. That'd be a good comics half-day, right there.

* you could probably spend a chunk of the remaining half-day at The Iliad Bookshop about a mile or so away from Blastoff and from where Jonah Weiland is sitting checking his phone for LA Clippers updates. The designer and writer-about-comics Sonia Harris drove over from Sherman Oaks to hang out and visit and chat. I think we both liked the place; I know I did. They have a huge wall of comics that's as eclectic as I've seen a used bookstore of that size offer, and there are a lot of signs of comics art around the place. So I recommend that place.

* I also briefly stopped into House Of Secrets when I was on another walk, and bought some Hellboy-related comics. That's a nice shop, too.

* from here we get into my notes on the convention itself. To help me cover Sunday and to provide an extra set of eyeballs on what I was seeing, I hired Jen Vaughn to keep her eyes open on that last day of the show and to provide me with a report. So when I start talking about "Jen," I'm not referring to my imaginary friend or a 1970s TV Movie side to my personality. At least not as far as you know.

* first of all, Seattle's still a fantastic city. It's a big deal to have cons in fantastic cities, because these are places everyone wants to visit and having comics festivals in great cities also makes comics look good. When they announced the Autoptic show in Minneapolis, that it was in Minneapolis during the summer was the initial big-deal part. Bar cons are great, too -- nobody in the small and indy press dislikes SPX, and people in mainstream comics still talk to me about the original WonderCon set-up -- but comics needs to be in all the great cities.

* speaking of great cities, the light rail to downtown from the Seattle-Tacoma airport still blows me away. How civilized. The transit system can be tough in Seattle, because it's hilly and winding and people are car-oriented in a way that keeps routes down a bit from the ideal. Over time that gets to you. But for a week or a weekend? Delightful.

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* I even caught bus signage for the con.

* to my eyes the city of Seattle embraced the show more than in years past -- I guess everyone loves a winner -- although that's a tough thing to measure. I saw more local signage, merchant signage, and advertising outreach than in years past. This is key because Emerald City is one of those shows that basically provides national guests to a regional audience, so the audience and the locale have to supply all of the energy that the visiting professionals and companies do not already provide. It's not like a San Diego Con where a significant percentage of the attendees are flying in, at least I don't think so or at least not yet; most of the crowd struck me as Northwesterners.

* and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, that the audience is local. In fact, in the overall landscape, I think it's a great thing. Regional conventions where you can still get a ticket if you work at it a little ahead of time can drive attention and focus to comics for the remainder of the year. We think of Seattle as a great alt-comics town because of Fantagraphics and all the great cartoonists that live there and that many of them have found work in related, pop-culture expressions from that region. Ditto Portland, and its versions of those same things. But there's a strong mainstream-oriented comics culture there, too, with a lot of people working in professions marked by geekery and relative affluence. If the alt-comics crowd is a little low-key at this show, they do have others, and there's more than enough people willing to make this a weekend about Adventure Time and Hellboy and that new Hawkeye comic and standing around in costume and getting something drawn for your kid and all the related flourishes of junk expression.

* I think the shops that sold tickets did well. Certainly the three I visited on Wednesday saw constantly ringing phones as people asked after by-then sold-out tickets, particularly for the weekend. Eric Reynolds told me that Fantagraphics even sold out of their allotment at the store, which surprised him.

* so no surprise walking in that ECCC seemed from my perspective to be a successful show. From a sheer asses-in-seats standpoint, it would almost have to be a successful show. There were a lot of people there.

image* I thought the crowds were okay, though, in terms of traffic and flow. It didn't seem a burden except in a few bottleneck points. Others I talked to disagreed with me on this, and were slightly horrified by the number of people they get through there now. It seemed like San Diego to me, but only the end of the CCI show floor with the comics and comics dealers.

* one reason why traffic may have seemed mostly okay is that ECCC was physically bigger this year, at least the comics area was. There was the entire comics area from 2012 plus another one of about 55 to 65 percent that size across a walkway. It seemed bigger to me physically than most shows I've attended, to be honest with you, but people tend to freak out if you make comparisons and don't have your numbers. I do know that a lot of people didn't know there was another half, which is a sign right there of a pretty big show.

* another sign that things are going well is that local people complained to me about the show being better a few years back, which is a natural Seattle thing to do. You've arrived, ECCC!

* I saw Dan DiDio walking around at least twice, and when I mentioned this to other folks they expressed surprise. I 'm not all the way sure what that surprise means -- I guess it could have been a DiDio life model decoy, even, and the real DiDio was making live appearances 2000 miles away, although I doubt it.

* the surprise at DiDio's presence could stem from the fact that DC still has a very modest presence at the show and Marvel I'm not sure had one at all. Given that Marvel's Comic-Con displays are basically re-appropriated movie sets now, it makes sense the House Of Ideas would go big or, basically, go home.

* I would imagine there's a very good chance both companies ramp up in future iterations. It will be interesting to see how ECCC handles the show's growth in that sense, and I don't mean that in a way I want to put them on the defensive. ECCC built its reputation on being a creator-forward show, and a bigger company presence is one thing that cuts into that element; more company booths sort of has to mean fewer creator booths, at least proportionally. I don't think it will lose that as long as artists and writers want to table, but the feel of the show may be transformed over the next few years.

* ECCC is still small enough that knowing the basic landscape and layout yields specific benefits. Like I know a bunch of people avoided a lengthy line downstairs at the show by entering through the walking park next to the convention center. Certain stairs and elevator banks were much less frequented than others. There was even an advantage to avoiding, say, the most immediate coffee place for one up the street. ECCC is still a convention that can be worked.

* the ECCC volunteers were mostly super-pleasant and smart, which make sense as Seattle is sort of a ground zero for super-pleasant, smart people.

* I thought the signage could use some work. I know that the convention program had the required information about events, and that this information is downloadable to one's phone now -- if, unlike me, you're a functioning member of digital society. I also saw that each room had a physical listing of events that were in that room. I still think centralized listings somewhere -- maybe one per floor -- would be a good idea. I mean, I know why that's not a priority with all of the other options, but I would still love to see as much information out there as possible, and those volunteers pulling out a program with someone to talk them to another part of the convention center might agree.

* I thought the sixth floor was generally confusing. This was an upper floor of the show with a lot of the comics-related programming and some of the TV stuff. I honestly could not find the BOOM! Panel -- the signage kept driving me to Gillian Anderson's panel, or, rather, angry people that thought I was cutting the line at the Gillian Anderson panel.

* I am more convinced than ever that the essential separation of comics from other media by floor, this actual physical separation, is a huge boon for the show. It frequently felt like a hardcore comics convention next to a celebrity-driven convention, which is a nice feeling.

* for whatever it's worth, the one celebrity about whom I heard from multiple folks, both comics people and local Seattle-ites I know, was Anderson. People seemed pretty excited to see her. I have no real idea what that means, although I recall that the X-Files was a pretty humongous show amongst Seattle 20-somethings in the '90s, finding a place into early Friday nights (early on, anyway; I want to say it later switched, and maybe more than once) the way that Armisted Maupin noted all sorts of people in 1970s San Francisco watching Mary Tyler Moore on Saturdays.

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* to repeat myself a bit, and link some things together, the comics part of the show arrangement was split into two big parts, which probably could have also used some signage tweaks or something along those lines to better communicate that there were two rooms. The skybridge between those rooms contained the worst traffic flow decision of the convention a photo area right at the corner. This not only took away this key area of traffic but had people slowing down to gawk instead of continuing to walk. Seattle people are polite enough to not just stop in aisles posing -- at least not on a regular basis -- so if you make good decisions about where to put formal photo areas, you should be fine.

* this is a feel-thing for sure, but it seemed to me that more professionals on hand made greater use of the city, such as leaving the con or even the immediate neighborhood for meals. I'm not really all that interested in the culinary habits of comics pros, but this indicated to me a class of pros that are making ECCC a regular stop, the kind of place where you figure things and feel comfortable venturing into the city as opposed to clinging to one's hotel and immediate environs. As I think the key to the festivals and cons moving forward is greater city-wide participation, this is a positive for the show as well.

* of all the writers-about-comics on hand at ECCC, and there were a number, I had maybe a half-dozen pros and industry people tell me that they had been happy to finally meet David Brothers, and about that same number tell me that they enjoyed meeting the ComicsAlliance editor Joseph Hughes. Nobody was happy meeting Robin McConnell.

* I'm kidding about McConnell. Everyone likes that guy, and people were familiar with his work whenever I introduced him.

* Jen Vaughn noted something about Sunday that was also a good sign for ECCC, I think: that the show went pretty strong, pretty late. By that I mean there were still people hitting booths late on the last day. That's not always the case with comics shows, which can crash horribly on the final day after about noon. This may have been partly because of some misprints in terms of how late they were running Sunday, but for all I know this could have been the Seattle resident's over-fondness for Sunday brunch. It was likely a bunch of things -- the fact that you're drawing attendance locally and regionally means fewer people scrambling for the airport. The comics floor apparently didn't thin at all until 3 PM on the third day, and kept fairly busy right up until 5 PM.

* here's something I kept hearing that Jen also noted as something she encountered: a lot of people at the show expressed an interest in buying serial comics but simply aren't served by a comic store a) at all, b) in a way that's of bare minimum interest. This seems like another big opportunity for comiXology and related services as more and more people may become willing to engage comics, particularly serial comics, on-line. This would likely have an effect on people being willing to try comics with which they're unfamiliar. If they're not seeing them, they're not buying them. It's not that that system was ever reliably fantastic for that latter function, but we need every system we can get. Jen points out that MonkeyBrain and other on-line publishers fulfill the curatorial role a bit, and could be even more important moving forward. I don't know how that will shake out, but I certainly admit the possibility. It's funny that the strong publisher branding which is mostly a comics thing may end being a strength in this very broad, public, and technologically-forward way.

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* I saw a bunch of service vendors. Jen saw this as well, and she found art-supply providers like Copic and a WACOM digital table booth particularly intriguing. There were a bunch of geek-material providers, too, maybe most notable someone displaying customized gaming tables in one of the crossing-through spaces. I think a lot of people fiercely interested in those activities like putting their hands on that material at least once before they buy it. Those tables sure beat the card tables one found in the basements of my youth. At any rate, I'd love to see cons drive more business like this to shows, and maybe even make a bigger deal of it as its own section.

* this note from Jen made me laugh: "God bless the stroller people who leave the stroller at home and carry their baby dressed as Lumpy Space Princess or a TARDIS on their shoulders."

* basically at this point I'm just looking at what Jen sent me.

* okay, here's one. One booth a bunch of people including Jen said bothered them a bit when I asked around was a zombie-type photo booth where you could get your photo being taken, with the result that bunches of kids were being given guns and then photographed with them looking cool. I think those are very difficult discussions to have, the one about violence in culture, but I was encouraged that people weren't shy about expressing their distaste. I think discourse is healthier than summary hand-waving.

* as a company representative, which I am not, Jen noticed something I didn't: that a lot of people working the show as journalists were also working it as professionals. In other words, they were pulling a modern-day Ham Fisher: in the midst of doing their jobs or at least in proximity representing themselves as journalists, they'd bring out material to pitch. That's kind of gross, although it's a bit hard for me to throw a knife at someone mixing tasks on the con floor as I'm pretty personally social at those things in addition to seeing to my job with this site. I have to imagine it's common, too. Jen confesses she used to do the same thing. I don't know if there's anything that can be done about that other than to point it out. Also, if any journalist's conduct makes you uncomfortable, complaining to the editor that sent them usually works, particularly over the long run. I can't imagine there are a lot of people working shows that go on long, creepy runs pressing this to their advantage. It occurs to me comics may have a bigger, more basic problem in that so many of our journalists would rather be creators.

* more random notes.

* did you know that tabletop gaming culture has a secret, invite-only convention going? This has nothing to do with ECCC, but two different people told me this. I could see this developing in comics, for sure. It probably already has, and I'm not invited. There's a lot of stuff left to try. Can you imagine if someone did a Spirits Of Independence-type tour but didn't reveal where they were until 48 hours out? That would be kind of cool.

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* the new ComicsPRO president, Thomas Gaul, looks a bit like UFC head honcho Dana White. Actually, he probably doesn't except in the broadest terms, but that's what flashed across my brain when I met him while out on the Thursday night preceding the show, in a Capitol Hill bar that was trying just a little too hard. I think their electing him bodes well. It's good to see a new face in the retailing world. Gaul seems nice, and it was cool he came to hang out and have drinks with a bunch of alt-folks and hangers-on. I like that Gaul comes from a background of other-stuff-not-exactly-comics and that he came to brick-and-mortar retail after starting selling books elsewhere. I also like that he had jobs before running comics retail -- one of the big retail giants, which one I can't remember. I think those experiences are all potentially valuable to ComicsPRO members. He seems a forceful and sincere advocate for retailing.

* I also noticed that night and over the weekend what a strength Alex Cox's retailing background must be to the CBLDF.

* the Thursday night dinner and drinks scene was fun, although I crapped out long before it ended up back in the main hotel bar. I met some local Seattle cartoonists from the publication the Intruder who seemed to show up just to tell me every building in which I ever had fun in Seattle has now been destroyed and replaced by condos. That was very kind of them, I appreciate their time, and I'd have fun doing the same to their tabloid, except I can't because it's pretty good.

* this one is out there a bit, but it strikes me that it's great to be around young alt- and indy-cartoonists in a setting like ECCC, because seeing people a lot like you but that aren't you is the greatest aid to letting go of the egotistical conception that poisons comics a bit, this unwillingness to see comics as anything that extends past your own experience. Eric Reynolds from Fantagraphics and I talked about this a bit, how awesome it is to see people carving out a space similar to our own from decades earlier. Comics goes on. We're all just renting our booths. As soon as we recognize an industry, an art form, a medium greater than the a conception that flatters our own particular contribution, the better off we'll all be.

* here's a note I made myself on booth design. I thought the simpler booths did better: table/backdrop set-ups. There were a few booths with recessed spaces and it always seemed to me people avoided those a bit, like they smelled a bit unpleasant. I've always felt the big advantage of traditional table-focused cons is that attendees understand them as something equivalent to a flea market or a high school jobs fair, and I think that's also true of traditional booth set-ups directly. You can't invited someone into a space for discussion if they don't want to go.

* the only physical copy of a book I bought at the show was an art-driven handmade publication from Miriam Libicki, a long-time comics road warrior. She was there with her family, they are all adorable, and it's always nice to talk to her a bit. I get most of the comics I use for this site for free or from a retailer, but it's nice to buy direct when you can, or at least participate a tiny bit in the con economy. I wish I could do more.

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* I walked around the city a bit. The thing that was striking about Seattle on this trip was the retail sprawl, by which I mean the store corridors had been extended in every single neighborhood I visited -- about a half-dozen (Ballard, Wallingford, Downtown, Capitol Hill, University District, International District). I wonder if that's not just a mini-trend in terms of people trying out things in this economy, or starting out stores as a second career, or long-term investment, or even as the structural basis for retirement. That last is a model I see in my small New Mexico town a lot, where people run a business at break-even points just to have something to do.

It hits me, though, that this does indicate there may be opportunities for comics shops. One thing about comics shops is that there are multiple models that haven't been tried yet -- it may be the only good thing about the rigid model past the retention that model has given comics in a broader sense during the general collapse of physical retail over the last 15 years. I like all the ways of selling comics, I don't think there's too much in the way of overlap that isn't just something broken being fixed. So if we're going to have more retail, I figure that's a potentially good sign. Comics leads the way in everything.

* so I met the writer Garth Ennis on Friday evening at the end of my time in the Sheraton bar, and as I tweeted out I was just slightly unfocused past the point of being able to make enjoyable use of that opportunity. He seemed nice as all hell, though. Ennis has had a formidable career as a comics writer, and a big enough one now that your assessment of his work may not even depend on how you feel about ur-'90s comic book series Preacher.

* I'm not sure how much booth placement was good or bad. It was different, or at least seemed that way, and I'm not sure it always cohered into set structures. Someone pointed out that if someone has a crappy show they indict booth placement and if someone has a great show they credit their awesomeness, and that's pretty accurate, I think. I learned at Comic-Con a long time ago that it's also hard to judge which placements are good: I've seen people die in the front aisle with primetime exposure and people thrive in back corners. ECCC seemed to -- seemed to -- opt for mixing things up, mostly, and sprinkling people into different locations throughout the rooms, although you could argue there were a few dedicated areas. I thought foot traffic was pretty good throughout -- it didn't have the thing I've seen at smaller show where entire rows were just dead empty. I think if they stick with that format a bit, people knowing where things are and how to get to them will yield benefits.

* everyone likes Jim Demonakos. It's not always fair to conflate our personal feelings about someone with the institution they run, but it's a human thing to do so, and it's a very, very comics thing to do so strongly and without reservation. I think that personal affection that people have for Demonakos is a huge bonus for the show.

* I ran into the writer Matt Fraction briefly, who is the kind of guy that thanks me for coverage of his events because it allows him to see things he couldn't see from his perspective signing books. I look forward to his Image Comics collaboration with Howard Chaykin, which should be fascinating on one level in that Chaykin tends to nail the comics he writes himself fairly quickly in terms of how he wants them to work and I tend to think of Fraction as a person who on his creator-owned material fairly feels himself settle into them, where an issue done a year in is different than the very first one.

* the Fraction, Brandon Graham, Chaykin, Joe Casey Image Comics panel -- there might have been one more person on there -- sounds like it might have been one to remember. I totally missed it.

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* the creators I saw tabling where I did a double-take just because I didn't know they would be there were Chaykin, Simon Bisley and Gerry Conway. These are men that have very specific reputations and seemed more than happy to live up to them in person, at least as far as you might think this would have an effect on meeting them at a con.

* I got to meet Fiona Staples, and people enthused at various points during the weekend about meeting her.

* I think a lot of people were busier than in past years. I know that a few people to whom I spoke easily last time -- the writer Greg Rucka for example -- were pretty slammed this time around. I did hear an array of perspectives, though; you always do.

* I ran into Kurt Busiek over by the Joe Casey/Matthew Southworth table. I was happy to see him, I had heard there were some health issues, the latest permutations of his ongoing difficulties in that direction, and I thought he looked good. It's also nice to hear he'll be returning to his Astro City work.

* I was not allowed onto the con floor with my press pass like I was in 2012, which didn't surprise me because that particular access felt like an aberration. My check-in experience was super-smooth, although it's my hope before I die to be in a comics convention press line with some peer I recognize instead of the usual long line of people I don't know.

* I didn't see a lot of press and PR people this time. It's starting to get like that at shows.

* I spoke to Ross Richie of BOOM! at one point, which I was happy to do because I hadn't seen Ross since he became a daddy. I like Ross, and I don't like all that many guys with the aggressive advocacy skill-set he has. I think you need guys like Richie at companies like BOOM!, as it's their energy that's going to help carry a company like that in its initial stages after which you need someone that's going to also be able to instill a culture that works when they're not around and that holds together during what is likely to be high editorial turnover. That's not an easy pair of things to combine, and I think Richie has done a fine job so far. I like that the people that work at BOOM! seem really, really into working at BOOM!

* Richie said something that I've heard a lot of people say, about how important it is for comics people, particularly in their 40s and beyond, to listen to younger employees in terms of just getting a grasp on what's out there to be published and sold and which creators are worth pursuing. Richie described the Adventure Time stuff that BOOM! has been doing as something that fairly burbled up from the editor and senior editor level rather than from the top down.

* saw Shannon Wheeler at the BOOM! booth and picked up a copy of their Daniel Johnston hardcover. It's always good to see Shannon, someone I've caught at these shows for almost two decades now. There are fewer folks like that at every show, which is healthy rather than sad, but it makes seeing those folks you do see a lot more fun.

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* ran into David Malki and Dave Kellett on the floor, both con veterans at this point and certainly comics veterans. They were working a fairly active webcomics area of the floor, and both were busy when we spoke. I'm a fan of both guys, and I hope they do well.

* I got to meet Ryan North, whom I hadn't met before. I've enjoyed his comics.

* I wish I had something profound to say about the presence of webcomics and the like. I think the personalities are interesting over there, the way that that element of comics culture has grasped onto these public appearances in a way that seems slightly different than more traditional comics areas -- I'm not sure I can articulate that very well, but I've never gotten that overall pushback of "I don't want to be here" from the webcomics people that I've sometimes sensed from other cartoonists and comics folk I know. And now they're getting good at being at cons, adjusting to what works. If I had to table at a con and was allowed to hire a consultant, I might spend that money on Malki, for instance.

* It's also fun that various people in that world are developing as cartoonist. I've enjoyed this latest run of Meredith Gran comics, for instance, and even though I'm always afraid she's going to take my lunch money for no other reason than she could, it's always a delight to see her at a show. Gran was one of several creators I only saw outside of the show, which speaks to the overall size of the place.

* God bless you if you stopped me and told me that you read the site. That is really nice of you, and a great reminder that people may actually read what gets put out there. I received many fine recommendations of things to go see from you folks.

* hey, let's talk about panels.

* I thought in general that the programming was infinitely stronger comics-wise than it was last year. That's a snap-judgment, but I couldn't find any comics panels that interested me at certain times of the day last year; at this one, I missed panels for the sake of seeing other panels.

* this was the first year that when I went to panels nearly all of the panelists were working their phones before the panel started. I thought that was a striking visual.

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* so I went to a panel moderated by Allison Baker on the Internet's effect on comics. Kelly Sue DeConnick pulled a slow-motion rant over the course of the hour indicting the expectations placed upon creators that want to do the fullest array of on-line promotions as a) time spent away from writing, b) something of a waste of time given that so many publications mirror a publicity function that can be self-directed, c) potentially futile given that there are structural barriers keeping people from buying books they enjoy hearing about on-line. The other panelists -- Jen Vaughn, Emi Lenox and Shannon Watters -- were intriguing mostly for how matter-of-fact they were about using these tools as opposed to kind of strategizing their use of them, if that makes any sense. Soem of the throwaway lines made me perk up a bit, like Watters' reminder she basically recruited for her books at BOOM! by tapping people she knew could do the job because they were doing work on-line where it could be seen and tracked.

* I spoke to DeConnick after the panel a bit, which was fun. She is super-busy, and that she gave me that much time was really nice of her. She's nice generally, and was kind to me when I was sick a couple of years back. I'm glad she's getting superhero-comic work and I look forward to her Image title. Her writing is different than a lot of writing that's being done in that world right now, in that she strikes me as more of a novelist or essayist, naturally, than the kind of scriptwriter/screenplay-maker that usually scores comics gigs, at least right now.

* one trend that's interesting that I thought continued at this year's ECCC is that people were active in terms of wanting to improve panels. People want to be good on them and they want them to be good. Like one person said to me that they wanted panels to be full of practical advice no matter the subject, just really serve the needs of those in the audience. That's not exactly how most people approach them, and maybe it's time to try out different ways of doing them. I've always thought there would eventually be site-specific downloads for those that attend panels; maybe we're headed in that direction, maybe another.

* another panel I saw was a "Best Of Times/Worst of Times" panel, which was sort of fascinating for the array of opinions and industry conceptions on hand. The thought that if someone could just get on TV they'd become a big chat-show superstar driving people to their comics was actually floated, which was an idea I didn't think existed anymore. I think it was Bill Willingham that floated the super-oddball idea that there must be some sort of diversity at Marvel and DC because if there wasn't he wouldn't like some of the comics and dislike others, which I guess means the Brady Bunch was a diverse crew because I didn't care for Bobby...? That just sort of confused me. At any rate, it was that kind of panel. I have to say, I'm also a little uncomfortable with new financial models being asserted when I'm not sure I know their details. That applies to people that may be presenting themselves as doing well that are doing poorly, but I think it's also true of people that are portrayed as doing spectacularly that are simply doing well. I know I made that mistake with Don Rosa over the years, so it's not just happening now. I'm not sure our dialogue about career models and success are all working out of the same shared ideas of what the broader terms we sometimes employ actually portend. Of the individual panelists, Brandon Graham was funniest, and dropped a great line that when people talk about breaking into comics what they really mean is breaking into making a living at comics. That is very, very true.

* I guess Bill Willingham might be working on something for Monkeybrain either sooner or later, if what he said on the panel continues to progress. I would imagine that a lot of comics creators are going to explore all of the models out there, and that some sort of on-line model will be worth it for people to explore. Willingham also expressed deep admiration for this strip.

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* I also attended the Jeff Parker spotlight panel moderated by David Brothers, which was somewhat sparsely attended but about twice what I might have thought at that time of night. He's very funny, that Jeff Parker, and served me booze right from his seat at the panel, which I recommend to all panelists on all future panels. Parker talked a bit about eschewing standards of structure and prescribed story conventions for entertaining the reader while letting those elements kind of follow in the wake of how you choose to engage the audience. Parker's sort of the living embodiment of Marvel's deep writing bench right now, and I imagine his body of work will be one that hardcore fans will return to the way we used to dig up certain Steve Gerber mainstream runs.

* I got to meet the writer Chris Roberson, one of the show's comics stars, I think. He has a commanding presence and is charismatic in front of a crowd, whether on a panel or gathered around a few cigarettes outside of a bar. He could be Darwyn Cooke's brother the junior senator. Roberson's slams on the current culture at DC Comics made up about 80 percent of the lines I heard repeated or talked about outside of the panels themselves.

* ran into Dan Goldman, recently returned from Buenos Aires, which he described as a tough but useful experience. He has a bunch of work out there, or at least already done, so I hope he received the publishing platform he was looking for, or that it's coming soon.

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* I hit Randys Readers, the finest booth in all of ECCC boothdom and one of my favorite places on the planet. Seriously, I could just sleep under the table, except there are comics down there, too. I even love having Randy -- I assume that it's Randy -- look at my pile of already-purchased comics and start suggesting things. Bought some $3, perfectly readable Jack Kirby Fantastic Fours, and a bunch of Master Of Kung Fu. I experienced little-kid joy of the fat-kid-that-buys-things variety, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. You could assemble a pretty good comics company from the people that visited that booth over the course of any random hour.

* saw Justin Norman, still at work on the DC's All-Star Western title, now for the first time actually set in the American West. I like his art on that book. Norman was discussed at several points throughout the weekend in social situations in which he was not present, a figure slightly larger than life. He's recovering from arm pain. I always enjoy catching up with Norman. He's an all-time favorite comics person for me. He's been a really solid worker for DC, and I hope they realize it and appreciate him.

* the cartoonist Ellen Forney said her book Marbles was still doing very well, and I couldn't be happier for Ellen Forney. She's kind of like the living spirit of Seattle comics in a lot of ways.

* also spoke to Peter Bagge, one of the great figures of alternative comics and American comedy of the last quarter century and I will fight you if you don't agree with me on both points. Okay, not really: I'm old, and it's not worthing fighting over, but I do strongly think these things. Peter and I talked about his forthcoming Margaret Sanger book, The Woman Rebel, which he turns in at the end of April. It's 72 pages, Drawn and Quarterly, and probably not a barrel of laughs given her immense career on behalf of women and as a much-battered symbol of women's right and liberal ideology. I'm doing the introduction, so I can't wait to read it. I also saw a new Bagge book of odds and ends from Fantagraphics, which I enjoyed quite a bit, particularly for the collaborations -- there's a Rick Altergott strip in there with the funniest visual depiction of Peter Bagge ever I was happy to see again.

* people seemed quite impressed with the collection of books and art at writer and consultant Rob Salkowitz's house. He threw a reception for Batton Lash and Jackie Estrada Saturday night. It's also get to see Lash and Estrada, and their view on the show given their primetime perch as longstanding Comic-Con International royalty would likely be worth its own article. Lash is teaching himself to paint, and I think he's already there.

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* so we were sitting at breakfast waiting for Brandon Graham to show up talking about how he's a rock star now and he shows up carrying a bass guitar. It was for him to draw something on, but still. He had a really good show, I take it, and last year's was kind of a debutante's ball in terms of his showing up on a lot of different radars. I like when people are kind of linked to different shows; that's a super-intriguing cultural lever there.

* did everyone know but me that Emily Carroll had a new comic up? And that her work appears in this book? I mean, that's one very, very talented cartoonist for me not to know either one of these things.

* I also met the talented artist Simon Roy, whose pants exploded into shreds at the convention.

* the ECCC bar con was pretty weird. It was packed but it wasn't... it wasn't humongous, if that makes any sense. It didn't seem like that big of a show if you just went to the bar at 1 AM. But that's a nice bar, and there is plenty of seating if you can snag one. Saturday night, I'm told, was legitimately crushed.

* it's actually encouraging when the main hotel bar is smaller than you'd think, because it means that more people are spread out into more places having their own experiences and adding to the overall tapestry of the convention weekend. This isn't important, that, say, Charles Brownstein was heading over to The 5-Point in Belltown rather than joining folks closer to the convention itself at some sort of more traditional city-type restaurant, but I think it's healthy.

* spoke with the writer Joe Casey for about two hours regarding the specific satisfactions brought to him by his recent, really interesting run of creator-owned comics. He has two sizable projects out this Spring, including the first issue of Sex -- out this week. No one engages with comics quite like Casey, in that he deeply cares about some elements drawn from his comics-reading and yet cares about others, including some which typically travel with the ones he does admire, not at all. Also, it's weird to hang out with Joe away from a convention when you can see his eyes. Also, he looks 28 years old. So did Ennis. Me, not so much. Someone at the Fanta office asked if I worked at the company in College Park, Maryland, back in the late 1970s.

* I didn't get a lot of mainstream comics news -- I'm not sure how much people gossip, I suppose a lot, but they obviously don't gossip around me. A couple threads I found interesting: a lot more attention to "what am I getting out of this publishing deal?" thinking than I've ever heard, which I think could be a huge positive, and basic economic disparity issues, that certain cartoonists were getting money that didn't seem to relate to their talent or to their assignments or to their sales or to the time they've been in the industry, while others wilt on the vine. As always, it's the younger cartoonists that seemed most positive.

* the day after the show I hung out at the Fantagraphics offices a bit, and went from editor station to editor station being shown books that they were working on. All companies should consider doing this more formally. Getting press to casually talk with someone while they call objects to a screen is a super-appealing way of sorting out certain efforts from the tidal wave of books to come. Like one thing I didn't know about the Mike Catron-edited Blake Bell/Michael Vassallo Marvel Secret History book is that it will have a bunch of Magazine Management art and illustration from comics veterans, including Jack Kirby. I also saw Catron's flow charts for all the forthcoming EC editions, which was formidable and terrifying.

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* Jason T. Miles, the cartoonist and publisher whose momentum in the small press was curtailed a bit following a bit of post-Dylan Williams soul-searching (that's my guess, anyway) and some family matters (less of a guess), will have some fascinating work out this year. I hope to announce some of it here at CR.

* saw Preston White, whom I owe an interview. The longtime Fantagraphic art director/production person has seen a lot of comics history. He was very gracious, I thought, talking about how skilled the young designers are today, contrasting it with his own work which is just a job that fell to him in the early days as other people took editorial control.

* had a nice comics-related lunch on Monday -- discussion, not the cuisine. I'm not sure what a comics-related lunch would involve: probably giant slugs and spinach, and this was much nicer. The group included Allison Sampson, whose work I've seen and whose work you'll eventually see. Her traveling companion's job is that of a weapons designer, so of course we talked about comics instead.

* what else?

* the one show that the indy/alt people were excited enough to talk about? New kid on the block Autoptic came up a bunch. There's going to be a big want-to with that one. The calendar is hugely crowded though. There was also the usual talk of going to shows not directed at small-press or comics efforts, the risks and potential rewards. A lot of mainstream-y comics people were quick to point out similarities in feel between this show and HeroesCon in Charlotte, as well the Baltimore Comic-Con on the other side of the summer. Next up for a lot of those people is WonderCon, and I don't think there was any desire from the professional I talked to that that one move back into the Bay Area any time soon considering a) Southern California's continuing importance to that whole realm of comics, b) the enthusiastic crowds that the show saw last year when it relocated down there -- for how long is still unknown. So that's some convention-business drama, anyway, as all of this hashes itself out. I didn't hear a whole lot of enthusiasm for Chicago's Reed show, even when I brought it up, but most of the pros I talked to are West Coast people and might not naturally attend that one.

* I think a lot of people did well at their tables, at least as far as I paid attention and heard back. Brandon Graham and a lot of (broadly) similar cartoonists with some name recognition and fantasy-art type comics chops looked like they were doing well as a general rule. There were commissions delivered to people at the show, which is a sign that folks are beginning to count on ECCC on their calendars. One comics pro told me he was extremely happy having made about $2200 at his table by the end of the weekend. I have no idea what people make at their tables, but from my perspective it would be an outright con novelty to have made $2200 by the end of a con weekend rather than have spent that much money. This strikes me as one of those things almost entirely made up of personal benchmarks and hard to compare.

* the best "And Now You Know… The Rest Of The Story"-style story came from Justin Norman and ended with, "The name of that mysterious cartoonist? Lewis Trondheim." I'm pretty sure 84 percent of all comics stories can be improved with that ending.

* I did talk to a few pros that seemed to experience the convention more as a group of people there to cosplay and simply not buy anything as a firm decision right from the start, as opposed to it being a place that provided a stream of 100 percent potential customers. I also didn't find anyone promoting a specific thing or things as the way to sell at this show, and you usually find someone out there that confident. This makes some sense as cons have become so important to so many cartoonists the last half-decade that there are a bunch of different, well-developed approaches right now.

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* one thing I saw that was fascinating to me was a long line at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for the Image honcho and writer Eric Stephenson, who was apparently signing a variant of his comic book that was linked to the show and I think maybe the Fund. It seemed like something of a joyless exercise, but man, it was a long line. I don't really understand the entire collectibles impulse as expressed there -- it strikes me that these constructs aren't really sustainable except in this sudden-flowering way, that there's no real value to these variants except some sort of understood, immediate value to these variants. This strikes me as totally insane, but as long as the damage is restricted I see them more as a waste of time than as a poisonous influence -- I imagine the Fund enjoys the money, too. Yet another reminder that comics is a big tent. Standing in that line holding a stack of books for someone to sign was a highlight for more than a few weekends.

* the retailer and occasional publisher Jason Leivian had a small table there, that he shared with folks like Francois Vigneault and Zack Soto. Leivian was coy about future Portland-related convention plans: coy in the sense he didn't want to accidentally announce anything, not coy in the sense of "Leave me alone, I'm never doing anything again and just talking about it breaks my heart." Not that way. I bet in general we hear about the rest of 2013 from all potential shows sooner rather than later. It will be more than we can all attend.

* cons are mostly pleasant experiences spent among friends engaging in things for which we hold great affection. It's entirely possible that more than a few lives changed last weekend in addition to all of those good times being had. This isn't a horrible thing, and as long as cons work, and they seem to work right now, we should probably work with them as a strength than to push them away as not having anything to offer comics, or one specific kind of comics, or our own experiences with comics.

* there were a lot of costumes at this show. I swear it was only a dozen years ago you'd have about ten. I don't really understand the costume impulse, but I was told by three different people that I'm over-thinking it and that "costumes are fun."

* speaking of which, at one point walking back from a dinner somewhere, I overheard an attractive, well-dressed young woman respond to a friend by pointing at herself and saying "This cosplay is called 'style'." Not really sure what that was about, but it made me laugh.

* you know what someone mentioned that I think might become a thing? Stunt-tabling. Like what if Fantagraphics at an Emerald City decided to emphasize a big back-issues sale as opposed to having their usual array of books on hand -- or in addition to having those books? Or what if the entirety of Indie Island at HeroesCon did similar 4x6 paintings of superheroes for $40 each and made a big deal of it in advance? Or what if someone released an entire series in serial comic form only at six different cons? I bet this takes hold a bit, as conventions become more ingrained, and there continue to be more of them and people angle for attention during them.

* so that was about it.

* it looks like Emerald City Comicon may be the show a lot of folks have been waiting for, and in a couple of years could round into a significant anchor for the first few months of the year, even though so many of its strengths are that it's a regional show, and creator-driven. They go late March in 2014 -- I wondered if they'd add a day, but they're still doing three -- and each of their next few iterations should be fascinating. I hope to attend them as I'm able.

* congratulations to the sponsors, organizers, owners and volunteers on their success.

* my personal thanks to all the kindnesses shown me that weekend. Thanks to Jen Vaughn for the eyeballs rental. Please visit her site. And a big thank you to my hosts: Rhea and Clem and Eric.

* Seattle remains a comics culture jewel and one of the great, cool places to live ever. I usually have a hate-hate relationship with places I've lived to the point I've considered building tunnels to get people I know out, but not that city on the Puget Sound. I miss it.

* as always, it was great to see everybody.

* on my way back home, I diverted for 14 hours to my friend's small town in California. On our way to dinner we stopped at a comics shop that had only been open two days. It had high ceilings and lovely cabinets -- it was nice, the kind of store you happily take your non-comics reading pals and the kind where you anticipate signings and social events. I'd send my Mom in. It was much like the Blastoff store pictured above, more Secret Headquarters than Bob's Secret Dungeon. On the front table sat The Walking Dead and Journalism. There were toys I'd never seen before and an entire wall of trades. Two small kids were negotiating with their parents for a book apiece.

A man in his early 20s walked in and beamed into his phone, "I can't believe it! Comics!"

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: This Is Legend #1

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Happy 37th Birthday, Randy Chang!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Troy Hickman!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Jason McNamara!

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FFF Results Post #326 -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Redux)

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comic Strips Of Which You're Fond -- For Whatever Reason -- And That Did Not Last For More Than Five Years." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Hejji
2. Rudy
3. Franklin Fibbs
4. Top Of The World
5. Spot The Frog

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Milo's Week
2. Dick Sargeson
3. Shafts of Strife
4. Smoke vs Water
5. Deeds That Thrilled Australia!

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sally Forth (Wally Wood)
2. My Cage
3. Franklin Fibbs
4. Tucker
5. Cleats

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Rudy
2. Sky Masters
3. The Kin-der Kids
4. Star Hawks
5. White Boy

*****

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Mike Baehr

1. Norb
2. Gahan Wilson's Sunday Comic
3. McGonigle of the Chronicle
4. Sam's Strip
5. Bat Boy

I just read #2 today.

*****

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John Platt

1. Little Sammy Sneeze
2. Batman (1989-1991 version)
3. Opus
4. Sam's Strip
5. Lucky Cow

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Sky Masters of the Space Force by Jack Kirby and Dave Wood
2. Maintaining by Nate Creekmore
3. Sam's Strip by Mort Walker & Jerry Dumas
4. In the Land of Wonderful Dreams by Winsor McCay
5. Friday Foster by Jim Lawrence and Jorge Longaron

*****
*****
 
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March 9, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


A 1977 Interview With Stan Lee


Steve Breen Featured On Local San Diego TV


Jeph Jacques Speaks


A Group Of People Attending Emerald City Comicon


One Of The Best Pieces Of Video The Last 25 Years: The Stan Lee Interview From Jonathan Ross' BBC Documentary On Steve Ditko That Came Out Some Years Ago Now
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 2 to March 8, 2013:

1. Fantagraphics Co-Publisher Kim Thompson announces a leave of absence following a diagnosis of lung cancer. We wish him every bit of healing power in the weeks ahead.

2. The 2013 iteration of Emerald City Comicon kicks off any remaining conception of the North American convention season that hasn't already been kicked off. It was a packed, successful show.

3. Comics-related economic issues stay at the forefront with more people confessing as to their difficulties in one way or another managing careers in comics.

Winner Of The Week
Emerald City Comicon

Loser Of The Week
The idea that making it in the comics industry is making it.

Quote Of The Week
"Most of the successful comics I don't think are successful because they're comics, but because of their subject matter." -- Gary Groth

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today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Namio Harukawa

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

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

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Happy 50th Birthday, Pier Nicola Gallo!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Brian Biggs!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Rick Burchett!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Paul Fung Jr.!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Ivan Grubanov!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Mike Kazaleh!

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March 8, 2013


Go, Look: Magnus Johnstone

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Go, Read: Alex Buchet On Xavier Cugat's Cartoons

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

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

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Go, Look: Hoagy Carmichael Bio Comic At WFMU Blog

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's always 1983 somewhere.

image* Richard Bruton on Imaginary Gumbo. John Anderson on Muse. Sean Gaffney on Neon Genesis Evangelion: Comic Tribute. Sean T. Collins on "Black Death." Brian Gardes on The Adventures Of Superhero Girl. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comic books.

* not comics: I'm going to run this same bullet-point for this entire week to see if it makes any discernible difference. In case you didn't know, this site has a related twitter feed and a Facebook page. I've been kind of undependable about updating them in a way that makes any sense in relation to this site. The twitter account is basically an insult machine, and the Facebook page gets neglected for days at a time. But I'm hoping to get better, and it's not a big commitment on your part to follow either one, if you're so inclined.

* Richard Gehr talks to Charles Barsotti. Nicholas Yanes talks to Colleen Doran.

* not comics: buy stuff from Sean Kleefeld.

* finally, this web site supports any and all statuary projects featuring cartoonists.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Paul Sloboda!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Eric Powell!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Brent Willis!

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March 7, 2013


Go, Look: 1980s Marvel Animation Pitch Art

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Collective Memory: ECCC 2013

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this site has been archived
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: 2001

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this violates my own policy of posting stuff that's just a stone cold rip rather than a recontextualization of older material, but it's really beautiful so I hope you'll forgive me
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I greatly enjoyed this article about a secondary market -- or markets, I guess for comics digital download codes.

image* Richard Bruton on Lucky Luke Vol. 38. Todd Klein on Green Lantern #16 and Green Lantern: New Guardians #16. Rob Clough on a bunch of comics from Ireland. J. Caleb Mozzocco on one of the newer Justice League books. Greg McElhatton on Animal Man #18. Michael May on Amala's Blade.

* this is adorable.

* Michael Cavna does a fine, occasional service picking his favorite cartoons on a specific subject: here's the latest.

* not comics: I'm going to run this same bullet-point for this entire week to see if it makes any discernible difference. In case you didn't know, this site has a related twitter feed and a Facebook page. I've been kind of undependable about updating them in a way that makes any sense in relation to this site. The twitter account is basically an insult machine, and the Facebook page gets neglected for days at a time. But I'm hoping to get better, and it's not a big commitment on your part to follow either one, if you're so inclined.

* I miss reading David P. Welsh, and hope he's well.

* finally, here's a cute, lightly-animated Jack Kirby tribute.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Robin McConnell!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Cully Hamner!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Peter Gross!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Ben Templesmith!

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March 6, 2013


Fantagraphics Co-Publisher Kim Thompson Diagnosed With Lung Cancer; Will Take A Leave Of Absence

By Tom Spurgeon

Thursday afternoon/evening Fantagraphics released a statement on behalf of co-publisher Kim Thompson, announcing his recent diagnosis of lung cancer. It is reproduced below in its entirety. Kim is a good friend and I love him; I wish him the best in the weeks ahead. I think he's an art hero, and the medium would be very different without his contributions. I hope you'll take time to send him a note saying so, if you're so moved.

*****

From Fantagraphics:

Kim Thompson has been my partner at Fantagraphics Books for 35 years. He's contributed vastly and selflessly to this company and to the comics medium and worked closely with countless fine artists over that time. This is a tough announcement to make, but everyone who knows Kim knows he's a fighter and we remain optimistic that he'll get through this and report back to report to work, where he belongs, doing what he loves.

-- Gary Groth

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I'm sure that by now a number of people in the comics field who deal with me on a regular or semi-regular basis have noticed that I've been responding more spottily. This is because of ongoing health issues for the past month, which earlier this week resolved themselves in a diagnosis of lung cancer.

This is still very early in the diagnosis, so I have no way of knowing the severity of my condition. I'm relatively young and (otherwise) in good health, and my hospital is top-flight, so I'm hopeful and confident that we will soon have the specifics narrowed down, set me up with a course of treatment, proceed, and lick this thing.

It is quite possible that as treatment gets underway I'll be able to come back in and pick up some aspects of my job, maybe even quite soon. However, in the interests of keeping things rolling as smoothly as I can, I've transferred all my ongoing projects onto other members of the Fantagraphics team. So if you're expecting something from me, contact Gary Groth, Eric Reyolds, or Jason Miles and they can hook you up with whoever you need. If there are things that only I know and can deal with, lay it out for them and they'll contact me.

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On behalf of Kim, we would like to encourage anyone who would like to reach out to him to feel free to send mail to him c/o Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, or email to fbicomix@fantagraphics.com.
 
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Just Because My Site Is Horrible Doesn't Mean You Should Blow Off Going To The Comic Book Shop

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Go buy something like the above. Comics are good.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Classic Ripley's Comic Story At WFMU Blog

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thanks, Buzz Dixon
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Burton on XIII: The Irish Version. Michael Kammen on Thomas Nast: Father Of Modern Political Cartoons. Rob Clough on Windowpane. Tucker Stone and friends on a bunch of different comics. Robert Boyd on various comics. Noah Berlatsky on Seven Miles A Second.

* Dave Sim clarifies his thoughts on prostitution, as his name was apparently invoked in an essay about Chester Brown.

* not comics: I'm going to run this same bullet-point for this entire week to see if it makes any discernible difference. In case you didn't know, this site has a related twitter feed and a Facebook page. I've been kind of undependable about updating them in a way that makes any sense in relation to this site. The twitter account is basically an insult machine, and the Facebook page gets neglected for days at a time. But I'm hoping to get better, and it's not a big commitment on your part to follow either one, if you're so inclined.

* I like this Dylan Horrocks panel.

* Michael Dooley talks to Denis Kitchen. Gary Groth talks to Jerry Moriarty. RC Harvey profiles Stan Lynde. Joseph Epstein on Saul Steinberg. Jim Rugg, Jasen Lex and Ed Piskor talk to Faith Erin Hicks.

* finally, Chris Mautner walks new readers through Winsor McCay.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Kieron Dwyer!

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March 5, 2013


Go, Look: Classic Bob Montana-Era Archie

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Go, Look: Milo George On Metallum Terra

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Missed It: '13 Cartoonist Studio Prize To Chris Ware's Building Stories, Noelle Stevenson's Nimona

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Building Stories by Chris Ware has won the print-book iteration the 2013 Cartoonist Studio Prize and Noelle Stevenson's Nimona the webcomics version, it was announced at Slate magazine. Judges were Dan Kois (Slate), Francoise Mouly (The New Yorker, Toon Books) , and "faculty and students at the Center For Cartoon Studies."

Each winner receives a $1000 cash prize. CR supports the idea of cash prizes for comics in pretty much every way that's possible.

Two extensive short lists stuffed with quality works are available at the above link.
 
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OTBP: Jordan Crane Cover on Cometbus #55

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SPX Announces First Round Of Special Guests For 2013

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With the North American convention season now informally kicked off with the Emerald City Comicon just past, expect a bunch of festival-related announcements over the next month or so. There's going to be a bit of a push behind MoCCA, and we should hear about a sequel to some of last year's shows if we're going to get sequels, and the Fall season should start to shape up.

With that last area comes this announcement of a first blast of guests at Small Press Expo: Gary Panter, Seth, Lisa Hanawalt, Frank Santoro and Gene Yang. I like all of those cartoonists, and if you're a conventions nerd it's always interesting to see a) how a show like that assembles a guest list and b) how that guest list will have an impact on other shows' during the year and just past. After last year's "Titans Of Alt-Generation One" approach, this is a more balanced effort, but I think one that will flatter that show's institutional strengths. Plus Seth and Gary Panter participating in that show's programming could be quite something.
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* in a letter to this site, Nicole Rudick takes CR to task a bit, and I think rightfully so, on the short shrift I gave a line of questioning in the Gary Groth interview. Rudick is a really fine writer and interviewer, so it's effective to hear that kind of thing from a peer.

image* Richard Bruton on LOAf. Rob Clough on a bunch of different comics. Todd Klein on Green Lantern Corps #15, Flash #15. Don MacPherson on Watchmen: Dollar Bill #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Cross Game Vol. 8. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Cross Game Vol. 8.

* not comics: I'm going to run this same bullet-point for this entire week to see if it makes any discernible difference. In case you didn't know, this site has a related twitter feed and a Facebook page. I've been kind of undependable about updating them in a way that makes any sense in relation to this site. The twitter account is basically an insult machine, and the Facebook page gets neglected for days at a time. But I'm hoping to get better, and it's not a big commitment on your part to follow either one, if you're so inclined.

* Brigid Alverson talks to Kevin Hamric.

* finally, a welcome home to Okazu.
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Fred!

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March 4, 2013


More Posts About The State Of Comics-Related Economics

John Allison and Matt Bors; I really feel like this kind of thing has a major chance to dominate discussion this year, and that momentum will build behind plunging into areas we don't normally go with that rhetoric, as more people are more brutally honest about the details.
 
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Go, Look: Odd, Affecting John Forte Artwork

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OTBP: Always Elwes

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2013 May Turn Out In A Major Way To Be About The Realistic Parameters Of Comics Careers

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First Don Rosa writes of his farewell to Disney comics, then we see a return of the troubles experienced by William Messner-Loebs, now we get a poignant mini-essay from veteran cartoonist Jerry Ordway.

For whatever reason, it seems we are seeing more and more glimpses into the heartbreaking realities of working in an industry with limited rewards, with limits on those rewards dictated by a sometimes-exploitative system fiercely supported by many of the exploited, and stuffed to the gills with hundreds of talented creators waiting for a similar chance on the merry-go-round. I think it's a conversation that needs to be carried on all the time, in every way possible, with as much truth and kindness as we can muster. In the meantime, Mr. Ordway is a sure hand and talented artist; someone who hires him for the right gig would almost certainly benefit.
 
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Go, Look: Some Dawn O'Day Strips

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Miriam Katin will go on tour. It's a great thing we get comics from Katin.

image* Richard Bruton on No More Heroes #4. Rob Clough on Mineshaft #28. Todd Klein on BPRD: Hell On Earth: Russia. Sean T. Collins on Forming and Supermutant Magic Academy. Sean Gaffney on The Wallflower Vol. 30. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a couple of the Civil War spin-off series. Grant Goggans on some Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. Phil Nel on TCJ #302.

* not comics: I'm going to run this same bullet-point for this entire week to see if it makes any discernible difference. In case you didn't know, this site has a related twitter feed and a Facebook page. I've been kind of undependable about updating them in a way that makes any sense in relation to this site. The twitter account is basically an insult machine, and the Facebook page gets neglected for days at a time. But I'm hoping to get better, and it's not a big commitment on your part to follow either one, if you're so inclined.

* Sean T. Collins profiles Uno Moralez.

* finally, just to make this the most Sean T. Collins day ever, here's Sean making his debut over at Wired with a piece on the recent bat-killing.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Glenn Hauman

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Happy 57th Birthday, Randy Stradley!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Chip Mosher!

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March 3, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Gary Groth

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*****

imageI met Gary Groth in 1994 when I went to work for him at The Comics Journal. He was on crutches the first time we shook hands. I enjoyed working with Gary, and admire his work as a writer, an industry advocate, a critic and as a publisher with Fantagraphics Books. A lot of what goes onto this site is a direct result of his influence. I consider him a friend of a stature that far exceeds our ability to stay in reliable contact.

Groth is the best interviewer of comics figures and cartoonists that the medium has ever enjoyed, and one of the best in all the arts. In the new issue of his The Comics Journal, #302, he knocks it out of the park with a loose, funny and poignant interview with the artist and author Maurice Sendak, since departed. I thought this might be a good time to have my own sprawling conversation with Gary: about that interview, and others, and the industry more generally. It's always great to pick his brain. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Do you worry about your generation of comics-makers getting older?

GARY GROTH: Oh, yeah.

SPURGEON: It occurs to me that up until now we've had generations of comics people that had some financial difficulty despite working during an era where comics tended to afford folks a more reliable living than what developed for many after 1980 or so.

GROTH: The underground generation in particular is old enough to worry about. You know, ironically, many of them never worked for corporations but they may be healthier in some ways than a generation that did. I'm talking about a certain level of underground cartoonist. Those that worked in a way that they became viable... after they're 40 or 50 years old they're probably in better shape.

SPURGEON: What about mainstream creators of your generation? I think many in real terms that are doing the same kind of work with the same frequency don't make as much as the previous creators just because I don't think that royalties have kept pace with inflation.

GROTH: I have some friends -- a few close friends -- in that generation in that field that I worry about. The problem is they become less productive, or fall out of favor. They have to rely on social security or selling art. I'm not sure there's a lot we can do to resolve that problem.

imageSPURGEON: Did you read that address that Don Rosa wrote? The retirement essay?

GROTH: I did, yes.

SPURGEON: One thing that interested me about that is he was forthright about not making as much money as people assumed he did because of the success of his work. I wonder if that's not part of something we can do, be as brutally honest as possible so that people don't extend themselves chasing a certain dream or status that then doesn't pay the way they expect it, too. I know a lot of cartoonists have cited back at me a number that Kevin Huizenga mentioned as a yearly salary in the Journal a few years back. Can we be more honest about the exact nature of the rewards available in comics?

To put it another way, your son Conrad is about the same age as a lot of these kids that are attending comics-related degree programs at places such as CCS and SCAD. Don't we owe younger cartoonists a more honest record of the rewards given we're asking them to take on debt?

GROTH: We're asking them to learn something they can't possibly, in many cases, be able to learn. The vast majority of them will not earn a living making comics.

SPURGEON: Shouldn't we at least trash the myths of "If I get a syndicated comic or mainstream assignment or book contract, I will make it"?

GROTH: Is there still that myth? I went to CCS not too long ago. Most of the students there seemed to have a pretty good head on their shoulders. I did portfolio reviews, and I asked each student what they expected from comics, what they wanted to do. I think most of them had a pretty good understanding of their chances. Many of them talked about doing their comics as a side effort. So at least among that sample they seemed to have a good idea of what's out there, but maybe that's because James [Sturm] and the people out there make sure they know.

Wouldn't you say it's much better than it was in 1975 or 1980?

SPURGEON: I'm not sure.

GROTH: We have a situation now that reflects more the status quo of real-world publishing. If you have clout, if you have a brand, you can negotiate for a better contract. If you don't, you have to accept a lot of things in a non-ideal way. I assume a lot of people working for big companies are still wall-paid. They earn as much as those with a middle-class income. The spectrum is so broad.

I read a great piece by Francis Ford Coppola a few years ago that basically stated no one said that filmmakers had to make a living. There's no law. That seems like pretty sound insight from someone who would know.

SPURGEON: Isn't comics different, though, in that there's this major pattern of exploitation over the years? That seems to me to provide a different context than merely citing structural issues. And I don't mean just bad contracts, but an entire industry orientation that arises for a culture where your base line may be exploitative. Even the seemingly benign. You have these companies now that are capital-light, or generally resource-light, in a way that makes me wonder if that's not a basic assault at a reasonable expectation that we need to have about what roles companies play in the making of comics art. There seem to be publishers that aren't there to facilitate art or artist but themselves, the corporate identity, first and foremost.

GROTH: [laughs] Well, I'm sure that most publishers pay as little as they can get away with. There's a constant war.

SPURGEON: Let me ask that in terms of a positive. Does the history of comics exploitation and this appraisal of how tough artists can have it help foster in you as a publisher an increased vigilance in terms of how you engage with your artists?

GROTH: Absolutely. As you know, we don't do work for hire, except in some very specific cases all of the work we publish is owned by the creators, with specific rights. They fundamentally own the work. I don't know what contracts are like at a Random House or a Simon And Schuster. I imagine they arise from the nature of the individual author, and the deal, and what the agent is able to demand. Don't you think that cartoonists are in the best situation they've ever been?

SPURGEON: I think in a lot of ways it's a wash. I mean, in some ways, obviously there's way more information on the table, and people are conversant with that information, and there's even an vigorous ethos that supports certain standards, but that doesn't mean creators can always put themselves in a place to take advantage of that information. There are also counter-narratives, such as the idea that you take on a bad contract in order to one day find themselves in the position to have a better one, that can work against equitable outcomes. People sometimes choose things that aren't good for them, or good for others.

GROTH: That's the operative word, though. They choose.

SPURGEON: I guess... I would say it's more like the construction where it's not ideal, but better. I wonder if we're not a culture soaked in exploitation.

GROTH: On the other hand, there's a greater equity. There's a greater equity on the cartoonists side of things. There are more options.

SPURGEON: It is a remarkable thing, looking at the make-up of the Chicago conference last year for example, how things have improved for a lot of cartoonists that didn't have an opportunity to forge careers even 15 years ago. Joe Sacco's career I think is an amazing thing.

GROTH: But there aren't many cartoonist of his level, that can do that. We're living in a weird time. There's a shift in the underlying market realities for several classes of cartoonists. I'm not up on newspaper syndication and those cartoonists, but it's obvious that the kind of money made 50-60 years ago isn't being made by as many cartoonists now in that field. If nothing else, there are fewer newspapers.

SPURGEON: The amount of money per newspaper and what that means is definitely a factor between then and now. I'm finishing that Al Capp biography and I was stuck by how frequently a figure is cited for client newspapers where it's "let the good times roll" where today it would be like "call your social worker."

GROTH: And still there are more cartoonists out there today, more aspiring cartoonists.

SPURGEON: So does any element of that change how you deal with the artists with whom you work? The fact there are so many of them out there and that this may have a deleterious effect on the field overall?

GROTH: No. I'm not in the business of dissuading cartoonists from being cartoonists. But whenever a younger cartoonist comes to us with a book proposal, I do explain what the realistic expectations for sales might be.

SPURGEON: Do the cartoonists share in your realistic appraisal?

GROTH: No. Almost never. Virtually every author of a book thinks it will be a best-selling book. On one level I appreciate that optimism, that idealism, but I face this grim reality every single day. I'm not infallible, but I can look at most books and come up with a pretty accurate estimate as to how it will sell. Occasionally I'm wrong.

SPURGEON: I guess that's an example of what I suggested a bit earlier about the disconnect between the information available and how that information is applied. Because you can certainly find out in rough terms what most books sell. It's just that many artists choose not to use that information to make a fair appraisal of what awaits them.

GROTH: They choose to look at the samples that are most successful. They see their book as the next Persepolis instead of the other 99 percent of books, books that mostly don't do all that well.

SPURGEON: So is this disconnect particularly ingrained in the younger cartoonists, do you think?

GROTH: Well... that's a generalization. But it often is the case that a cartoonist without a track record will have a higher estimation of success for their work than those that have one. It's a long, hard struggle.

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SPURGEON: A different question about young cartoonists: you're publishing more of them at Fantagraphics. Over the last couple of years you've announced maybe a half-dozen projects with cartoonists I think of as being in this emerging generation, cartoonists like Chuck Forsman and Noah Van Sciver. I remember even 19-20 years ago that you had to make a concerted effort to process work by cartoonists of that generation, the Megan Kelsos and the Dave Laskys, so I wondered how involved you were with these newer signings and what it was like to look at the comics made by the cartoonists coming of age now.

GROTH: It is mostly me and Eric [Reynolds] who have brought in the newer work. It's exciting. It's important to keep things vital, and aesthetically alive.

SPURGEON: Do you see strong distinctions as a group between those comics and comics that came out from young cartoonists 10-20 years ago. Or is good cartooning good cartooning in a way you see more of a continuum? Do you have difficulties processing certain things about the newer comics you're seeing. Is there any cartoonist that took you a while to come around on.

GROTH: There is, one in particular, although I can't remember who that is right this second. Okay, what you said about good cartooning being good cartooning? I think that's true, but I think that good cartooning is so much more complex than that. There are cartoonists that send work to us, and I'll love certain aspects of it. I'll love the drawing, or I admire some of the writing, but frequently the story doesn't come together. You can see strength in the components, but not in the whole. That's what we look for when we publish younger cartoonists, this sense of everything working together. I'm generalizing. I was going to say something to the effect that the stories sometimes see frivolous, but that's not really true.

I know they're learning to put together entire packages at these schools, that everyone is working on all facets of their own stuff.

SPURGEON: Tom Hart told me that he wondered if cartoonists today maybe weren't as interested in standard narratives as his generation of cartoonists. The story is not always as important as the comics delivering a certain kind of art on the page.

GROTH: I've read that, but I'm not sure I know enough to agree or disagree. We published a collection of Lilli Carré's short stories, and as virtuosic as the graphic approaches are, as she chooses different graphic techniques for different stories. Even something as obviously visually-oriented as that seems grounded in story in a way. I'm not sure I can think of a cartoonist who wasn't primarily interested in story.

SPURGEON: Basil Wolverton?

GROTH: I think that's a weakness of Wolverton's. His best work is probably based on the Bible, which of course is story-oriented.

SPURGEON: You know, I think you could argue that really strong narratives are something in two of your higher-profile recent projects, the EC reprint series and the Disney books from Floyd Gottfredson and Carl Barks.

GROTH: You don't get more story-oriented than EC Comics. Those are dense seven- and eight-page stories. If I think about whether comics require narratives, I would say they don't, but that 99 percent of the time this is what works about them, the way in which they captivate and hold our attention. That's how we interpret the world. So it's possible, but I think I've always been attracted to strong narratives. That's important to me.

SPURGEON: How close is this new issue of the Journal to your ideal with this new, post-issue #300 iteration? Because it seems like it exists on a different progression from the last issue, but I'm not sure how you see it. Did you look at the first big-brick issue and attempt to consciously refine it?

GROTH: I'm not sure that I consciously did that, but I'm sure I looked at #301 in some ways as I began to work on #302. I'm very happy with both issues. I was becoming increasingly displeased with the magazine. I think that's because I wasn't entirely happy with what we had to do to fill nine issues a year. The subject matter. We constantly had debates where the Journal's mission was to cover all comics or should we focus on those comics that we thought were meritorious. I was always nagged by the idea that certain comics were important to a specific subset of comics if not comics themselves. That was essentially the idea, that we could focus a magazine of more specific subject matter. I'm really happy with it so far.

SPURGEON: What would you give as an example of a feature that ran in the old iteration that wouldn't have a place in this new one? You wouldn't cover The Walking Dead, I take it.

GROTH: You got that right. We covered a lot of mainstream stuff, and I can see certain people as important mainstream creators. I just don't see the need to do that anymore. I really wanted to do something I could feel focused on what I felt a connection to. All respect to Robert Kirkman, but I don't feel connected to his work. I wanted this new version to reflect my own attitudes, and if it couldn't do that, I couldn't see the point.

SPURGEON: Does having the on-line version give you more freedom to pursue those very specific goals?

GROTH: I think so. Dan and Tim and I are on the same page, although they have a lot of latitude. There are things I like more than others on that site, and things I'm less crazy about.

SPURGEON: One thing I think you've done well on-line is engaging the Journal's function as a kind of magazine of record. I thought the Spain Rodriguez memorials were pretty great, and couldn't really have appeared on any other site, or even in the written magazine due to the delay in publication.

GROTH: Well, we have done them there before. I don't do a lot of work with the web site, but I did set that one up and make some of the initial contacts. It might have been my suggestion.

SPURGEON: Speaking of Spain Rodriguez, do you think the underground cartoonists have received their due?

GROTH: That's such a tough question to ask. I don't know how to measure that. In some cases, cartoonists are given more than a fair shake, in other cases, less. There this whole stratification in popular art where two percent of the artists suck up almost 98 percent of the oxygen. Not just the undergrounds but generally. Crumb and Spiegelman exist in a public space that's more significant than where Spain Rodriguez lives. It's not like Crumb and Spiegelman don't deserve the attention they receive; they do. But obviously I think artists like Jack Jackson, Bill Griffith and S. Clay Wilson, I think their work could be more widely appreciated. They could have a wider readership. One of my missions as a publisher is to get work like that out there. I'm really proud of the Jack Jackson book, but it's not going to sell out. It's the nature of mass culture. Even within the niche cultures, even within this one, the hierarchies remain, and that's not always to the benefit to all of the worthy artists.

SPURGEON: You know, I always wondered to what extent you have a refined aesthetic exclusively applied to comics, or how much comics exists on a continuum for you with your estimation of prose.

GROTH: That's a good question. I'd say there's certainly a corollary between them. I don't know if I have a passion for any formal qualities in and of themselves. Every medium reaches an end having to do with the human experience. Most of the successful comics I don't think are successful because they're comics, but because of their subject matter. I think films are successful because they're films. I think people appreciate a reading experience. I don't think that's true of comics. I think Maus is successful not because it's comics but because it's a really good work about the Holocaust.

SPURGEON: Okay, so how do you appraise someone like Jaime, where the quality of his art is an obvious factor in how his works are processed?

GROTH: Sure, but at the same time Jaime could probably do a book about gun-running and drugs and prostitution and sell more copies.

SPURGEON: And Chis Ware's formalism?

GROTH: The formalism is the subject matter.

SPURGEON: And Crumb?

GROTH: Crumb is unique.

SPURGEON: You always struck me as a guy that maybe didn't have a special connection to comics as comics.

GROTH: That's not true. I do love the form. I love the drawing. One thing I would love to do -- one thing I love about comics is the line. It's so important. I could see analyzing nothing but the line. You could blow up 30 cartoonists -- Segar, Jaime, Crane -- just blow up their line. I think that's so big of a component for the expressive nature of comics. I think everyone acknowledges this, perhaps subliminally. But probably not as much as they ought to. Not as much as they do content. But in a way, it is content.

SPURGEON: I wonder what you think of the quality of writing about comics now more generally. There's a lot of it now. When I came here, we had almost no writers. It was a weird time in that you had a generation of guys, like Darcy Sullivan and Bob Fiore, that were just not going to write as much about comics as they had previously. I remember you and I talked about the need to develop writers in the magazine, like Bart Beaty and Chris Brayshaw. One advantage of a magazine is you could have people write every month.

There's a lot more critical discourse now than there was then. It's not as hard to find writers anymore.

GROTH: There's no dearth of writers. You can't throw a fucking rock without hitting a comics critic.

SPURGEON: Are you happy with the level of discourse? Has the writing improved across the board?

GROTH: There are some good writers about comics. Probably proportionally... I mean, proportionally we were doing pretty well in The Comics Journal. I don't know what you think.

SPURGEON: I never read it. [laughter]

GROTH: Didn't you read it when you copy-edited it?

SPURGEON: No, not really. I think it's fairly obvious when you read those issues I wasn't reading it when I copy-edited it.

GROTH: Is this the current policy at The Comics Reporter?

SPURGEON: It's worse, because I'm pretty much the only writer.

GROTH: You don't read that, either.

SPURGEON: I prefer it that way.

GROTH: The Comics Journal was the only magazine back then, the only periodical.

SPURGEON: It was pretty much the Journal and then there were some academic guys, like John Lent and Rusty Witek. For a quick moment or two there were a couple of competing magazines -- Indy, Chris Staros, Destroy All Comics, Crash. But that was really about it. I remember jumping on some academic lists to find some writers -- I'm pretty sure that's where we found Bart. Now it's not so hard.

GROTH: There's such a volume of writing about comics that I don't really follow. I don't have the appetite. I follow the Journal writers. Most writing about comics is consumer-oriented, reviews.

SPURGEON: Let's talk about some writing I know you like. One writer you've used in both issues of the new-format Journal is Tim Kreider. He's a strong writer about comics, and a strong writer generally. What is it you like about him as a writer about comics? Is it just the strength of his prose?

GROTH: No, no. Tim... [pause]

SPURGEON: I can tell you what I think some of strongest qualities are.

GROTH: What are those?

SPURGEON: One is that I think he has a real honest, thorough engagement with work when he writes about it. That's something that made him perfect for the Cerebus assignment in #301, because I don't have any doubt that he wrestled with as much of that work as possible, rather than solely thinking of an end-result essay. He's a grinder, in a sense, but more in that he takes very seriously that responsibility.

GROTH: I think that was one of my more brilliant editorial moves, assigning Tim to Cerebus. I think that's the best piece written about Cerebus.

Tim brings a kind of general familiarity with literature. And he's conversant enough about comics that he can apply that appropriately to comics, and render insights because of that. He's obviously a smart guy, but he has that willingness to dig into things. I'm trying to figure out a way to say that a quality of his writing is that he's non-academic. He doesn't follow trends and theories. He imposes his own sensibility, his own critical sensibility, his own idiosyncratic critical sensibility. I think that's where the best criticism comes from, as opposed to reading the application of a literary theory. I think that's where we get a more cultivated understanding of art. With a critic like that, you can learn where they're coming from and assess their reaction to the work.

SPURGEON: Is there someone that you want in the Journal you haven't had yet?

GROTH: A writer? I can't say that there is. I can't say that there isn't someone out there that I couldn't get. I don't assiduously follow comics criticism.

SPURGEON: Do you have any response to the criticism -- I think it was Heidi MacDonald that was public with this observation -- that this latest issue lacked women writers, cartoonists and even subject matter? I know that Esther Pearl Watson was scheduled but there was a hitch there.

GROTH: Yeah, Esther was supposed to be in it. I have to admit I'm gender-blind when it comes to good writing. And to subject matter.

imageSPURGEON: One thing that you said about the Maurice Sendak interview that was interesting to me is that you didn't have a significant past relationship to his work. You had to go read up on it, which you did with great thoroughness, but it wasn't art with which you had been interacting for years and years.

GROTH: I didn't read him as a kid. And I didn't read him to my kid -- I didn't tell him that part. I knew who he was, obviously. I was aware of his work.

SPURGEON: What elements of the interview are you happiest about? I'm particularly interested in why you thought it might have been a good last interview for Sendak.

GROTH: I guess what I'm happy about -- I was worried about it. The moment I left his house I knew I had something really good or something disastrous.

SPURGEON: Kind of like this interview. [laughter]

GROTH: Yeah, right. Although, no: this could just be mediocre. [laughter]

I was concerned. After I got back, and after it was transcribed, I came around to thinking there was something deeply truthful about it. And -- however brief it was -- about our relationship. I read all the interviews I could with him before I did the interview. There was a very good interview he did that I did not read, with Terry Gross.

First of all, it was obvious he didn't want to do an interview about his career. He was somehow resistant to that. I didn't know exactly why, although now I think I know why: he just wasn't comfortable doing that. He's comfortable talking off the cuff.

SPURGEON: Now was that a function of his age?

GROTH: No, I don't think so. He never did an interview like that. Whenever he was asked questions like that, he's spin off. He was hard to nail down. I thought there was something... he's obviously incapable of dissembling. He was able to talk about existential, difficult subjects like death. Obviously he could talk about death at the drop of a hat, but maybe I got another layer. I didn't run away from it. This was the first I'd heard that he might have been a father. He was very open about that.

SPURGEON: The interview sort of reminded me of... and I don't know exactly why, but it reminded me of the longer interview you did with Gil Kane late in his life. I thought the Sendak was similarly poignant. It struck me that they were both older men, and I wondered if you think that interviewing older cartoonists as you have so many times might naturally drive the conversations in those directions?

GROTH: That might have something to do with it. Gil was really a deeply human person. At least with me. He was the person I was closest to for many years of my life. And I have to say, that when I was with Maurice, I felt a similar rapport. You know you have friends, you have some friends with whom you talk about some things, like movies and comics, and you have some friends you talk to about more important things.

SPURGEON: Sure.

GROTH: This could be delusional on my part, but I felt that way when I left Maurice. I assumed he was going to live a few more years. He was pretty robust. We walked around his property. He was reasonably robust, and I was thinking he was going to be alive for a few years. I remember thinking this was going to be a beautiful albeit short friendship. It was shorter than I expected.

I felt that same rapport I had with Gil. Here's somebody I could talk to about a lot of things. Even when we talked about comics or film or literature or whatever, we talked about it on a certain level. Why does this mean so much to me? Why is this so good? That level. Gil and I could talk about that. Gil had a reputation for being aloof and analytical. Maybe that was true. My interview with him, we talked about his cancer.

SPURGEON: That interview had one of the most devastating things I've ever read, where Gil told a story about leaving an elevator in Las Vegas, and he realized when passed someone that he no longer had the basic connection he used to have to other human beings. That was just heartbreaking beyond words.

GROTH: I was thinking of that exactly when I was talking about Maurice a minute ago. That kind of human-level -- I'm sure Gil had told me about that previously, in conversation. He said something like that previously he had been tall and good-looking and people noticed him. And now he had to get used to the fact that people wouldn't notice him. He had to get used to the new him.

I think Maurice had that same level of honesty. He could talk about that kind of thing freely.

SPURGEON: One thing I thought interesting in that you went and looked at all of Sendak's work for this interview is that it reminded me once again for all that you've accomplished in terms of shepherding comics in a literary direction, that your conception of comics, particularly early on, was locked into a specific time and cultural place. Bob Fiore has written about the fallacy of believing, for example, that a place to make greater, more literary comics was in reforming the then-dominant mainstream expression of comics.

You also in those first few years of trying to do this were living in a time of much less access to a collective, cultural memory. So things like European comics were something you had to be exposed to when events conspired to provide you that opportunity rather than being able to simply seek that stuff out when you became curious. There was even a greater distinction back then between strip work and comic book work, that the format dictated content to a much greater, perhaps more rigid extent than the way we think of that working now.

GROTH: I think you're onto something... but I think you might be slightly off. In a way, in The Comics Journal we were trying to expand what comics were. That's why we interviewed Jules Feiffer and Ralph Steadman.

SPURGEON: You eventually got there.

GROTH: That was the '80s.

SPURGEON: Yeah, but you were eight, nine, ten years along when those pieces appeared. You didn't start there. Are there still things you discover about comics? Does looking at a Maurice Sendak's work change the entirety of what you think about comics in any way?

GROTH: I'm not really sure it does. Sendak was so very much his own artist.

SPURGEON: Even when you interviewed Feiffer, and you were very receptive to the fact that not only was Feiffer comics but it was comics in a way that informed comics that were being done right at that moment, there was enough of a barrier up that your choosing to say this wasn't simply understood -- it had to be said, which is weird in and of itself.

GROTH: I saw him as a cartoonist. I see all of this as cartooning.

SPURGEON: What I wonder is if you still find people that way. Or is that not where your interests are anymore?

GROTH: I guess my interest back then was in pushing comics into a more literary mode. I wanted comics to be the equivalent of The Bicycle Thief. In that way, I was pretty narrowly focused. Of course, my other focus was beating up on Marvel and DC [laughter] the general corporate status quo.

SPURGEON: But at that time, there really were comics that did roughly what you wanted comics to do, even if you weren't seeing them. Or they had come out.

GROTH: Do you think that's so?

SPURGEON: Did you know about the early Saul Steinberg comics? Did you look at any of Steinberg's output as comics? I don't think you were likely aware of the Monsieur Lambert comics from Sempé -- those seem like they would qualify.

GROTH: What year was that?

SPURGEON: I think that was pretty early, Gary; certainly the Steinberg was, and the Sempé would have been mid-'60s. A couple of things from Al Hirschfeld cohere in more of a narrative sense, too. How much work of that type were you were aware of?

GROTH: That's a good question. I was certainly aware of Feiffer's work. Tantrum came out in 1979.

SPURGEON: A very specific example that springs to mind is in the Harlan Ellison interview when you're talking about the potential of comics to have literary weight. Your example is more conjectural -- a comic that doesn't exist but has a, b, c qualities -- although you do reference a couple of works by P. Craig Russell as being in the same ballpark. But you don't say, "Like Feiffer," and that fascinates me. I know that by that time you were certainly a big fan of Doonesbury, but you don't naturally reference that strip, either, when talking about this conjectural model. Doonesbury had an adult sensibility, obviously.

GROTH: That's true. I saw Doonesbury as more of a separate thing. Good in and of itself, but not exactly the direction I wanted to push comics. I guess I saw it as a good but also restricted to a certain commercial comics mode bound by its own history. I was more interested in liberating comics for longer-form works.

SPURGEON: So when you discovered they were doing, I don't know, comics-style essays in Holiday, from people like Ronald Searle, you don't necessarily think, "There it is." And you certainly didn't then.

GROTH: Well, that's right, that's right... but I only learned of those gradually. I would discover these obscure or anomalous comics.

SPURGEON: So is that encouraging at all, that after setting off on this decades-long journey, to find these example in comics past? That you're not just making it up as you go, or at least not totally?

GROTH: They were more like hints of what comics could be. And they weren't well-known at that time. It was like the history of film where Citizen Kane is this obscure thing that no one saw.

SPURGEON: So when was the moment when you realized that the comics coming out were going to hit that spot for you? What comic was it that you felt reached what you had imagined for comics? When could you stop talking about comics that didn't exist yet and start talking about those that did?

GROTH: It was that whole period in the '80s, where [Art] Spiegelman was introducing us to the next generation of American cartoonists as well as to working European cartoonists, like [Joost] Swarte. That was a whole different way of looking at comics than even underground comics. Also the Hernandez Brothers. When I got the self-published Love And Rockets, it wasn't there yet. Jaime's work was strong. When they turned in the second and third and fourth issue of Love And Rockets, that sort of embodied what I had in my head.

SPURGEON: I know that you saw something in Love And Rockets. But you're telling me that pretty early on you saw not only potential but that this was the kind of comic you had been hoping for?

GROTH: Yeah.

SPURGEON: So what kind of comic would you like to see now?

GROTH: I want to see that comic I can't envision myself.

*****

* Gary Groth on Wikipedia
* Fantagraphics Books
* The Comics Journal #302
* TCJ.com

*****

* Gary Groth at Comic-Con International 2012
* art from Don Rosa
* art from a young cartoonist recently published by Fantagraphics, Noah Van Sciver
* the new print TCJ, #302
* Maurice Sendak illustration (below)

*****

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Go, Look: New Emily Carroll: The 3 Snake Leaves

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Go, Read: James Vance On Will Eisner

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Go, Look: Comics From New Funnies

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Not Comics: Three More JRR Tolkien Calendars

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forgive me this indulgence: I stared at a lot of Tolkien calendars between the ages of 8 and 12, and it never quite occurred to me they would keep doing them after I lost interest, although, you know, of course they did
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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Happy 37th Birthday, Augie De Blieck!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Dan Mishkin!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Max Allan Collins!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Skottie Young!

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March 2, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Nicolas De Crecy Profiled In Relation To A January 2013 Show


Brecht Evens Speed Drawing


Charlie Adlard Signing A Book At FIBD 2013


Gabriele Dell'Otto Draws Daredevil


Chester Brown's Panel At FIBD 2013


Fun, Sped-Up Tour Through FIBD 2013


Stan Lee Home Movies
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from February 23 to March 1, 2013:

1. Emerald City Comicon launches its biggest version yet, kickstarts the North American convention season for most people, underlines just how popular conventions have become in the last 15 years, and opens stuffed with various comics professionals hyping the bulk of their 2013 work.

2. Tom Tomorrow wins the Herblock Prize.

3. Jimmy Margulies spoke to Alan Gardner about vacating his current position of full-time employment.

Winner Of The Week
Tom Tomorrow

Loser Of The Week
Fans of Jimmy Margulies that liked reading him in that particular newspaper as frequently as possible.

Quote Of The Week
"I really shouldn't be saying this." -- basically someone on every single panel I attended at Emerald City Comicon.

*****

today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

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

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mark Evanier!

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March 1, 2013


Sock Monkey Migrates From Dark Horse To Fantagraphics

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I don't have a lot of details on this, but apparently the terms of the contract between the cartoonist Tony Millionaire and Dark Horse on Sock Monkey have run their course, and Millionaire informed the Portland-based company he'll be taking the property up I-5 to Seattle's Fantagraphics Books. Fantagraphics has worked with Millionaire for years on collections of his alt-weekly strip Maakies. Initial plans are for a large, omnibus-style edition of existing work, which I think would be a slight break from the comic-book and story-book style publications Dark Horse did with the property.
 
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Go, Look: A Barry Windsor-Smith Covers Mini-Gallery

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Missed It: Bulleted Round-Up Of ComicsPro News

One thing I deeply regret in a "I need to make this a bigger priority" way as opposed to a "I tried but I just couldn't do it" way is not attending the ComicsPro Annual Meeting just past in Atlanta. I'll try to make the next one, which is also in Atlanta -- my understanding from speaking to someone last night is they schedule two years in a row for the added discount to members that comes with that commitment.

Anyway, 2012 was a super-solid year for DM retail, the best for many of the most effective shops out there in more than a decade. I think it's high time I got something up about the big meeting, even if that means I'll find the occasional nugget to report down the line as opposed to knowing 100 percent I'll nail it done-in-one. So:

* here's a general news story about events from the show, including the naming of Thomas Gaul from a pair of Anaheim stores as the organization's new president. He replaces Joe Field. I actually ran into Gaul last night, and he seems extremely positive about the weekend and direct market retail generally. I think he'll be an interesting public figure in that sphere -- it's nice to meet someone new, as much as I love all the retailers I've come to know over the year, including the formidable Field.

* Cindy Fournier and Will Eisner won the appreciation awards given out by the organization -- the late artist obviously taking home the memorial version of the two honors. Fournier is the Vice-President of Operations for Diamond Comic Distributors.

* finally, here's the text for the speech given by Eric Stephenson from Image at that show. That is a speech for those retailers in a lot of ways, so I think my biggest takeaway is along the lines of seeing how Stephenson crafts a message for that audience, what he emphasizes and what he doesn't.
 
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Go, Look: Correspondence From E. Simms Campbell

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Let The Year Of Gilbert Hernandez Begin

imageThere's a nice piece up over at The Advocate about Gilbert Hernandez on the publication of his Julio's Day, which I suspect -- suspect and hope -- will kick off a lengthy period of appreciation for one of the great, prolific cartoonists of our time. I'm told that Julio's Day reads astonishingly well now that it's been collected, and I can attest to the quality of Hernandez's forthcoming book from Drawn and Quarterly, Marble Season. I think we're supposed to see a collection of New Tales Of Old Palomar -- which I'm told will be called The Children Of Palomar -- and that work really shows off the cartoonist's under-appreciated power as an image-maker. I can't imagine a whole lot of better things for comics than if the Hernandez Brothers build on their 30-year anniversary momentum and stay relevant in a way their work demands.
 
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Go, Look: And The Wind Blows

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* IDW and Monkeybrain will team up to release some of the digital-forward titles in print form. My understanding is that this is non-exclusive and basically is a deal that the companies have taken to those creators and that there may well be other publishers that do print comics that have run on that site. At any rate, print publication is an important thing for a lot of digital efforts, and it should be interesting to see how this effort unfolds.

* just this morning -- or at least in the last 48 hours -- iVerse announced a partnership with Viz Media focused on library patrons. I'm not all the way certain how that works, in that I'm not certain of the level of desire for that material from people that use libraries. Libraries are generally interested in the Viz material, that's for sure.

* the episodes for Strip Search, the reality-style programming from the Penny Arcade people, have begun their roll-out.

* I love this headline from Johanna Draper Carlson about inducements for participation at the Kodansha site.

* finally, here's more from Robot 6 on Chris Onstad's hopes and plans for an Achewood cartoon.
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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

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

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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

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OTBP/Not Comics: Science Fiction

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* all eyes on Seattle.

image* Richard Bruton on I Don't Like My Hair Neat. Jason Thompson on Chi's Sweet Home.

* I think it's good to poke and prod at characters and ask questions about how they're portrayed, as in this piece on the backwards-looking elements in different versions of Wonder Woman. I'm not sure that it's anything more than a sign of how certain characters work, but I would imagine that if you're into those kinds of comics it's a question worth pursuing.

* Michael Cavna announces the winner of a recent caption content.

* Steven Heller talks to Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen.

* finally, J. Caleb Mozzocco walks readers through the latest iteration of the Guardians Of The Galaxy concept, which will be a point of emphasis for Marvel as a movie version roars to life. Hannah Means-Shannon looks at one of the new comics works that will put Marvel in that space-opera place more firmly, although they've set up the infrastructure for that kind of thing in recent years.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Joyce Brabner!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Benjamin Marra!

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