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

















April 30, 2013


Go, Look: Some Of The Greatest Comics Ever Made

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Your 2013 Stumptown Comics Award Winners

imageThe 2013 version of the Stumptown Comic Arts Awards named its winners at a ceremony last Saturday night. They are in bold below.

*****

BEST WRITER
* Cullen Bunn -- The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun
* Greg Rucka -- Stumptown
* Leia Weathington -- The Legend of Bold Riley
* Joshua Williamson -- Sketch Monsters
* Nunzio Defilippis and Christina Weir -- Bad Medicine, Volume One: New Moon

*****

BEST ARTIST
* Jonathan Case -- The Creep
* Ezra Clayton Daniels -- Upgrade Soul
* Steve Lieber -- Alabaster: Wolves
* Juanjo Guarnido -- Blacksad: A Silent Hell
* Matthew Southworth -- Stumptown

*****

BEST CARTOONIST
* Francesco Francavilla -- The Black Beetle
* Brian Churilla -- The Secret History of D.B. Cooper
* Noah Van Sciver -- The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln
* Carla Speed McNeil -- Finder: Talisman
* Chris Schweizer -- Crogan's Adventures

*****

BEST LETTERER
* Finder: Talisman -- Carla Speed McNeil
* The Yellow Zine -- Roman Muradov
* The Black Beetle -- Nate Piekos for Blambot!
* Jumbo Deluxe -- Adrian Wallace
* Wings for Wheels, "Home is Where the Boss Is" -- Nomi Kane

*****

BEST COLORIST
* Lilli Carré -- Heads or Tails
* Brian Churilla -- The Secret History of D.B. Cooper
* Bill Crabtree -- The Sixth Gun, Bad Medicine
* Kory Bing -- Skin Deep: Exchanges
* Roman Muradov -- The Yellow Zine

*****

BEST PUBLICATION DESIGN
* A Comic Guide to Brewing Coffee -- designed by Lara Antal
* Grandville -- designed by Bryan Talbot
* Bucko -- designed by Allyson Haller
* Heads or Tails -- designed by Lilli Carré
* Blacksad -- designed by Cary Grazzini

*****

BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Once Upon a Time Machine -- published by Dark Horse Comics and Locust Moon
* No Straight Lines -- published by Fantagraphics
* Creepy -- published by Dark Horse Comics
* The Devastator -- published by The Devastator
* Smut Peddler -- published by Iron Circus Comics

*****

BEST SMALL PRESS
* Poorcraft: The Funnybook Fundamentals of Living Well on Less -- C. Spike Trotman and Diana Nock
* Terra Tempo: The Four Corners of Time -- David Shapiro, Christopher Herndon, and Erica Melville
* Devastator #7 -- published by The Devastator
* Fame and Misfortune -- Kel McDonald
* Wings for Wheels: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen -- Edited by Nomi Kane

*****

BEST NEW TALENT
* Margaret Trauth -- Decrypting Rita
* Ibrahim Moustafa -- High Crimes
* Leia Weathington -- The Legend of Bold Riley
* Laurianne Uy -- Polterguys
* Kory Bing -- Skin Deep Exchanges

*****

BEST WEBCOMIC
* Ezra Clayton Daniels -- Upgrade Soul
* Andy Warner -- Brief Histories of Everyday Objects
* Jake Richmond -- Modest Medusa
* Evan Dahm -- Vattu
* Juan Santapau -- The Secret Knots

*****

READERS' CHOICE AWARD
E.K. Weaver

*****

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Go, Look: Wulf & Merl

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
 
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Go, Look: Menace #8

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Go Look: Yet Another Carmine Infantino Image Gallery

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I quite like the cover to the forthcoming Reggie-12 collection from Brian Ralph, featured over at D+Q.

image* here is a massive, lengthy post about an imminent work for which I have almost no other advanced knowledge: The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.

* I bet this Dash Shaw book does very well for Fantagraphics. That one's due in June, although I think it will be available wherever Shaw is doing appearances between now and then.

* Anders Nilsen turns in an accordion-style book into D+Q.

* finally, one comic to look forward to in May is the second issue of Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever. Tom Neely recently published both covers on Facebook: his is on the left, Livon Jihanian's is on the right.

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Go, Look: Early Warren Kremer Comics Art

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Go, Look: Paul Petro

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean T. Collins on Road Of Knives. Rob Clough on Madtown High #1-3. Todd Klein on Wonder Woman #18 and Resident Alien Vol. 1. Don MacPherson on Jupiter's Legacy #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on a bunch of Marvel comics. Grant Goggans on a bunch of different Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Justice League Of America: The Rise Of Eclipso.

* gross.

* the DWA interview series begins with Michel Rabagliati.

* Graeme McMillan pokes at the idea that the Eisners somehow snubbed superhero comics with this year's nominations. McMillan asks out loud if this is where the cutting edge of the art form is these days. That there's a pathological reaction to an awards nominations slate with a load of superhero-related nominations in it is way more intriguing than any direction even a good writer like McMillan will go. It's defensive and odd. I know I still get hammered via e-mail when I suggest something like, say, that there aren't any superhero comics in any one of my year's top ten, with a line of thinking that things should somehow be balanced between that particular form of expression and others. I kind of thought most fans were past this, at least enough it wouldn't flare up as a conversational theme in a year where there still a ton of these titles and their creators up for awards. I have a deep and abiding affection for superhero comics, and think many of them are excellent and that overall the best of today's cape-and-cowl comics are probably underrated in terms of their overall quality and I still look at people pursuing these complaints with a raised eyebrow.

* finally, there's apparently a documentary about Herblock gearing up out there.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Greg Holfeld!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Andrew Mansell!

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photo by Heather Peagler provided by Dustin Harbin
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Ben Catmull!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Nat Gertler!

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April 29, 2013


Eisner Nominated News Site ComicsAlliance Shut Down

Here's a decent story on it. This was told to people at Stumptown Comics Fest before the weekend as a potential blogging panel focused on ComicsAlliance folks was canceled and then re-booted as a more general blogging panel. News of the move of the War Rocket Ajax podcast to Chris Sims' own site preceded the leaked news this morning.

My understanding is that four people were fully employed by the site, and that the freelancers were paid, which makes this a casualty in terms of the prose market for writers about the arts as well as a loss for comics.

I wish all of those people the best, and that they stick around comics in some capacity. I enjoyed reading that site.

literally typing this standing up in an airport; forgive any errors
 
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Not Really: Papercutz Blackballs The Comics Reporter

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Here. So I guess this is a thing now?
 
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Go, Look: Ronald Searle Editorial Illustrations

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AAEC Decries Rick Perry Ohman-Cartoon Apology Request

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Alan Gardner has a succinct write-up on the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists coming out in support of Jack Ohman by denouncing a request by Governor Rick Perry that he apologize for a cartoon about the role that lack of worker protections may have played in a recent Texas tragedy. There are a bunch of fascinating things about that whole back-and-forth, including this being one of those incidents where the decorum of talking about something seems to be of greater concern than any kind of analysis or criticism of the actual thing that happened. The comments are pretty good there, too.

One hope I have is that we could enjoy a dialogue about the timing issue at some point other in the midst of a specific example that people believe involves someone speaking out on a political matter "too soon."
 
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Go, Look: Men's Adventures #25

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Go, Read: Stan Mack On A 1996 Cartoon And Today's Events

Here. Not a lot of cartoonists talk/write as well about their own work as routinely as Stan Mack does.
 
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Go, Look: Some Gil Kane Marvel Covers

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Go, Look: Carmine Infantino At The Time Bullet

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* Henry Chamberlain's A Night At The Sorrento And Other Stories seems to me to be one that could use some attention with seven days or so remaining.

* the day after a couple of key set-up-and-raise-funds events for the CBLDF (C2E2, Stumptown) is a good day to jump on and support what they do.

* this is a super-cute high concept.

* Elaine Lee, Michael May and Ken Lowery all have crowd-funders that are already successful but to which one can still contribute.

* here is how things are proceeding on the Tripwire 21 project that was featured heavily on various sites including this one during its fundraising stage.

* finally, any film based on a Jack Chick tract is okay by me. Like Tootsie.
 
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Go, Look: Ripples & Stars

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

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Go, Look: Curt Pardee

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this Jack Ohman cartoon is drawing its fair share of attacks, including one from Governor Rick Perry. It seems in bounds to me, but I have a very low threshold for "allowable" commentary -- I figure just about everything is on the table. I have to imagine that this is a story I'll update enough to make its own point today or tomorrow.

image* Brigid Alverson talks to Jason DeAngelis. TJ Dietsch talks to Frank Quitely. Alex Dueben talks to Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher, Miriam Katin, Chris Schweizer and Gregg Taylor.

* Charles Forsman recently added Hidden Fortress Press material to the all-important Muster List.

* Marc Tyler Nobleman would like you to know why his book, Bill The Boy Wonder, should have been nominated for an Eisner. It's refreshing in that it doesn't blame Frank Santoro.

* Mike Dawson passes along this link to a letter of complaint about his scouting-related book, Troop 142.

* Dan Archer writes about his recent comics work about human trafficking.

* Ward Sutton reviews the latest David Sedaris in comics form.

* cartoonists take the best notes.

* not comics: I'm not a gamer, tabletop or computer, but I love the fact that we have these texts we don't understand and they're only like 45 years old.

* I am all for charitable efforts by big companies, and therefore I am happy to see DC doing some good with this charitable enterprise.

* finally, I like the colors in this Lisa Hanawalt image.
 
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Happy 28th Birthday, Jessica Campbell!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Olivier Vatine!

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April 28, 2013


Five Things I'd Direct A Casual Buyer To Consider At This Weekend's Stumptown Comics Fest

There are a ton of great books available for sale at this weekend's Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon.

One thing we forget about when at shows like this one is how the mix of recent backstock, alt-comics perennials and the latest books from which to choose. I walked through the show yesterday with an intermittent, casual comics shopper who walked away with the majority of what follows.

There are no wrong answers in terms of what someone wants to buy at a comics show, and getting stuff directly from the makers and primary seller of this material can be a special experience with which devoted comics readers can lose touch.

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* Benjamin Marra's comics are always a hit with people that are simply looking for a fun comic to take home. Ask Marra about Kenny Loggins.

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* Brandon Graham is very tall, which impresses people, and this book offers a lovely price point for an idiosyncratic, fun, accessible work.

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* a bunch of people are selling original art, but few pieces are as nice as the pen and ink drawings Eamon Espey has for an astonishing $10. At least I think that's what they cost. Whatever it is, it's cheap.

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* Matt Bors' kickstarted book, getting his work into the hands of an audience who simply wouldn't see it were this left to traditional publishing avenues, is the kind of thing comics shows were created to benefit.

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* the two booths from which you should always buy something at a small-press comics show, if they're there, are Spit And A Half and Sparkplug. John P. didn't make this one, but the Sparkplug gang did, and this is a nice-looking book.

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* just about brand new, over-sized tabloid Jonny Negron? Yes, please.

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* this is a few years old, but I thought this Paul Tobin/Colleen Coover effort was unique and under-read and due to be rediscovered after the attention they've received for their digital comic Bandette.

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* Becky Cloonan says she is particularly proud of this work, and that's enough of a recommendation for me. I'll be buying this one today.

*****

Again, there are no wrong answers -- someone could be just as happy with their purchases not coming within a country mile of any of the above, and I'm sure I could swap all of these out for similar choices five or six times without a lot of effort. The fact that there are this many choices is what's great about a comics show. We should never look down on the basic act of commerce as unimportant or beside the point. It's not everything, but it can be pretty wonderful.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Scans From Strange Tales #90

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Go, Look: Some Richard Thompson Political Caricature

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

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

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

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

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Peter Pontiac!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Dick Ayers!

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April 27, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


The Art Of Harvey Kurtzman


Pete Of Pete's Basement Goes To MoCCA Fest


Stan Lee And Jim Lee At Long Beach Con 2009


The Top Five Batman Comic Books


Joe Dator, Cartoonist


Chinese Political Cartoonists


Haven't Looked At This Yet, But It's Lynda Barry


Graphation Comics Charity Fundraising Video
 
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Let Me Make A Case For A Specific Book At Stumptown

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There are bound to be a lot of fun, interesting comics available this weekend at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland. Some of them will come from the regional publishers Top Shelf, Oni, Dark Horse and Fantagraphics. Others will come from individual cartoonists and comics-makers. I hope to talk about several such books on Monday. For now, I want to ask for some consideration if you're on hand for Matt Bors' brand-new, self-published Life Begins At Incorporation, which I understand will be available from the cartoonist himself.

Bors is a young editorial cartoonist, which all by itself is a statement worth paying attention to. He's also a new-generation editorial cartoonist, which means he works in a style that is different than the Oliphant/Conrad/MacNelly clones by which that expression of comics is most easily defined during this age of its publishing decline. Bors does a lot of four-panel comics, and frequently if not always works in color, and has a bigger audience on the Internet than he does in newspapers. The reason he's self-publishing, it seems at least to me, is that there really isn't a place in traditional publishing for his work, nor is there a place for him right now in many of the traditional feeder markets that might make a book seem a good idea.

It's a good book, too, with a lot of cartoons and a significant essay component both on cartooning and the issues involved in individual pieces. It reprints a few that gained some traction, like his wonderful cartoon on Steve Jobs' passing or this stop-and-think-and-smile effort featuring the birth rate for non-Whites in North America. It could also be seen as a rigorous and uncompromising document from someone pretty solidly, across-the-board, operating from the Left during an election season and its immediate aftermath where that was a viewpoint that wasn't out there as much as you might think.

Bors is local to Portland and important to the further development of the editorial cartoon. He and his core readership have put themselves out there a bit in making sure he has a small number of books to get rid of over the next several months. I hope you'll stop by and check it out, or consider a purchase from a bit further away. It's the kind of book that would benefit greatly from your convention purchase.
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from April 20 to April 26, 2013:

1. Egyptian cartoonist Magdy L Shafee released on bail after being charged with various crimes related to his being at a protest.

2. Cartoonist Leslie Chew arrested in Singapore on sedition charges, for cartoon posted on-line through Facebook.

3. The ridiculously over-stuffed convention schedule gets the rest of the way underway this week with yet another candidate for Big Mainstream Comics Show Of The Spring with C2E2 and first West Coast Small Press Show with Portland's Stumptown.

Winner Of The Week
Rob Rogers

Loser Of The Week
The Comics Reporter, for not clicking the release button on an article congratulating Steve Sack for his Pulitzer Prize win until several days later.

Quote Of The Week
"Though [Crockett] Johnson usually claimed that there was no one particular inspiration for Barnaby's fairy godfather, he did admit that "O'Malley is at least a hundred different people. A lot of people think he’s W.C. Fields, but he isn't. Still you couldn't live in America and not put some of Fields into O'Malley. O'Malley is partly [New York] Mayor La Guardia and his cigar and eyes are occasionally borrowed from Jimmy Savo, the diminutive vaudeville comic and singer." -- Philip Nel

*****

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

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

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

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

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Happy 35th Birthday, Sean T. Collins!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Yoshihiro Togashi!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Jan Mullaney!

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April 26, 2013


Go, Look: Nate Powell Original Art On Etsy

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Group Think Updated: In What Ways Does The Culture Of Comics Have An Impact On How Business Is Done?

Update: On Tuesday, we ran the following "Group Think" posting to facilitate thoughtful responses from the CR readership. The responses we received are now below the following.

*****

The author and consultant Rob Salkowitz sent in the following e-mail after I posted on Steve Bissette's thought on Marvel and DC choosing many of the policies they have that have an impact on creators rights.
"Saw your post this morning on Bissette's thoughts about corporations screwing creators, the choices involved, and the options. FWIW, I think there's a phrase in management-speak that applies here: 'culture eats strategy for breakfast.' Corporations reflect the values (or lack thereof) of their leaders, as filtered down the chain of command. As a business analyst by trade, I find that often the best explanations for aberrant business behavior arise from basic human psychology, not just the twisted logic of capitalism.

image"When I look at the sociology of the early comics biz, especially DC and Timely, I see a very particular cultural dynamic at work: highly ambitious, entrepreneurial owners drawn from the same basic background as the artists (e.g., 1st or 2nd generation Jews from the lower depths of New York), half a generation or so older than their creative talent. Sure it serves their ownership interests for them to keep as much of the rights and profits as they can, but it's more than that. It is psychologically and socially necessary for the owners to create distance between themselves, good upper middle class bourgeoisie and aspiring capitalists, and the sweaty working-class artisans who do their work. I imagine you've read enough 'birth of the Golden Age' stuff to know what I'm talking about.

"Think about how that works in practical behavior terms: Donnenfeld, Liebowitz, Goodman, etc. -- rising ethnic businessmen, trying to legitimate themselves in a marginal industry -- will do anything in their power to avoid being lumped in socially with the Siegel-and-Shuster class (scruffy, nerdy artists -- obviously total 'losers' in the world view of the ownership class), or worse yet, people like Jack Kirby (a kid from the slums, basically). If the owners were WASPs, it wouldn't be as important because outsiders would immediately recognize the social distinction, but since it was all Jews (and a few Italians and other ethnics) from top to bottom, the bosses needed to demonstrate their authority by treating the workers like garbage. That's how they figured the capitalist peer group whose approval they craved would recognize they were 'respectable.'

"As a result, you get a whole business culture defined by keeping the help in their place and not conceding any ownership prerogatives. IMO, all the odious trapping of the comics business: exploitive contracts, asshole editors, lack of benefits/dignity/certainty for freelancers, disposability of staff, arise from this 'familiarity-breeds-contempt' dynamic that characterized the early business. Once big money arrived, it became easier to justify this behavior in terms of greed – an acceptable motivation in corporate capitalism -- rather than simple class insecurity and pettiness. But that's where it comes from.

"Note that Joe Simon, Will Eisner and Bob Kane (or at least his family) are a different matter -- they come from slightly more middle-class origins and have some respectability attached to them, so it is easier, I think, for the bosses to treat them as autonomous creative people. And of course Stan Lee was Goodman's nephew. IMO, it's no coincidence that these are the people who came out of the Golden Age with relatively good business deals. As a class, they didn't pose as much of a threat to ownership's self-image.

"That was all a long time ago, of course, but I think there's ample evidence that this attitude is encoded in the DNA of DC and Marvel, and maybe also of Archie. When you think about the Levitz/Kahn regime at DC -- whatever its faults from other standpoints -- I think you'd have to say it was characterized by a certain humanitarianism toward the creators. IMO, this was born of the fact that Levitz and Kahn both came from middle class Jewish backgrounds where showing the lower-downs who's boss was not as important to the definition of success. But note also that Jack Liebowitz lived to serve on the board of AOL/Time Warner, and Ike Perlmutter certainly strikes me as a current day manifestation of this same temperament. Evidence indicates that the attitude lives on, even as its origins get lost in the mists of time."
What do you think? Is Mr. Salkowitz right about that aspect of comics culture and its impact on business dealings? In what ways might he be wrong? Are there other ways you've noted a connection between the culture that informs comics and the comics business?

*****

Shannon Smith Responds:

I think there is plenty of circumstantial evidence throughout the first 60 or 70 years of the US comics industry to back up Mr. Salkowitz's theory but I don't know how much that bias exists today. Comics history is certainly filled with awful things. And we've done those awful things to the very best and most important of our creators. But I don't know how unique that is to comics. It's kind of like a coal miner with black lung and the person who had their land swindled away by the mines arguing over who got screwed worse. Salkowitz talks about it being encoded in the DNA of DC and Marvel but I fell like even it was, DC and Marvel have acquired entirely new DNA over the past five to ten years. They just are not the same companies anymore. DC especially.

DC Comics does not exist as a company. It's just a brand name used by DC Entertainment which is just a division of Time Warner. I don't think for one second that DC Entertainment boss Diane Nelson has any of that DNA or any of those biases. Mainly because I don't' think Diane Nelson knows or cares anything about comics history. Mainly because she all but told us that she did not know anything about comics. I do agree with Salkowitz in that "Corporations reflect the values (or lack thereof) of their leaders, as filtered down the chain of command". So let's take a look at who DC Entertainment's leader Diane Nelson is. When she was brought in she was heralded as the person that oversaw "the franchise management of the Harry Potter property". What the hell does that mean? Harry Potter was already a phenomenon in books. She did not make the films. David Heyman made the films. From what I can make out, her job was mostly to say no on J.K Rowling's behalf. Rowling wisely maintained control of her characters preventing Time Warner from exploiting them in TV, cartoons and other movies. The "franchise management" of Harry Potter was very conservative under Nelson compared to other hit franchises. No Harry Potter comics, no Harry Potter manga, very few Harry Potter toys, no Harry Potter happy meals, no, no, no etc. Which, seems to be the exact opposite of Nelson's job description as head of DC Entertainment? A company the very creation of which was said to be to exploit these properties in TV, cartoons, movies, video games toys etc.

Now, let's look at what Nelson has actually done with DC Entertainment. As far as DC Comics goes I think she has mainly let the inmates run the asylum. Lee, Johns, Harras, Dido etc. have done the heavy lifting and made some pretty big changes. Not radical changes. Not really. Nothing much that was not already tried with the DC Explosion between '75 and '78. I think Nelson's real work has been in pushing the overall branding of the "DC Universe" with things like "We Can Be Heroes". As far as marketing and licensing goes she has been pretty conservative. I don't see any evidence of the impact of comic's culture in her moves. Just standard corporate branding. You see comics history being repeated with the New 52 but I think that's just lack of imagination more than any cultural bias.

The main "ah ha" point I can think of post the creation of DC Entertainment where you would say that the comics culture biases just won't die is the recent hubbub about lousy creator deals on DC's digital first comics. But I don't know if that's the gravity of decades of comics culture or if it's just the nature of how things are done when a company exploits its properties in new arenas. I think before you can completely debate that issue you'd have to have a better idea of how things are done in Time Warner's other ventures. Video games, TV, movies etc. How does a creator contract on a DC digital comic compare with the contracts for the creators that made the video game it is based on? Is the guy that came up with the story idea for level six of the Injustice: Gods Among Us game getting a royalty?

As for Marvel, I think the buck still stops with Ike Perlmutter. And sure Disney's purchase of Marvel had to impact its DNA (or vice versa depending on who you ask) but I still think Ike Perlmutter out ranks all of that history. Perlmutter literally is a Jewish immigrant and certainly fits the mold Salkowitz is describing. The guy went from street vendor to CEO. By varying accounts (and at least one lawsuit) Perlmutter is somewhere between a cheap bastard and straight up racist bastard. But we don't know a lot about him. We do know a little about his business record and it is all about "a whole business culture defined by keeping the help in their place and not conceding any ownership prerogatives". He fits into Salkowitz's theory nicely. But his methods were the same with all of his previous companies and investments before he controlled Marvel. So I don't think that is a comics thing. I just think that is a shrewd ass vulture capitalist thing.

Overall, I just don't think there is a lot of comics DNA left in either company. It's just corporate DNA. Same as any other sub division of those corporate behemoths. Right now, at this moment, we still have a few "comics people" pulling some of the strings at DC and Marvel. Harras, Wayne, Didio, Alonso, Quesada etc. So, for sure, they carry with them all of the bacteria of a life in comics and you could say that it is in their DNA. But all of those guys are just one red box on an Excel spread sheet away from being replaced by a corporate lackey with no connection to comics at all. If there is still something unique about the culture of the comics industry I think it is being assimilated into the larger corporate culture and won't last much longer. For better or worse.

*****

Chris Cummins:

This is a fascinating question to be sure. Unfortunately, I think that there's still such a vast disconnect between interests of commerce and creativity in how the mainstream publishers do business (for whatever reasons, though I suspect that financial concerns far outweigh any sociological ones). I'm sure that I am slightly off-topic here, but it bums me out that we are in 2013 and creators' rights are still an issue. I realize I am being idealistic. But as a writer/comics historian who has several friends within and on the fringes of the industry, I am unable to move past that to deal with the larger question at hand for this Group Think.

So while I fully believe that this debate is worthwhile (and thank you for delving into such issues with your peerless work), I may be way too biased to formulate an opinion on this subject other than this slight missive here because I simply want hard-working, talented people to be acknowledged and paid for their efforts. I realize that everyone else here does too, but man, it just burns me up to see folks getting screwed over so much. Sigh.

That said, I can't wait to hear the rest of the group's thought

*****

Michael Netzer:

Rob Salkowitz makes a compelling case for the Jewish immigrant psyche, early last century, being at the root of the brutal way business has been, and continues to be done with creators in comics. And though he puts some convincing evidence on the table, I'm not sure it completely holds up when considering a few wider parameters.

It is true that Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution in Europe were not readily embraced in thriving US industries, and so turned to the fledgling mediums that weren't sought after by longer-term Americans. Mostly because these industries couldn't yet offer enough financial security. This seems why Hollywood, the comics, print journalism (which although had been around a little longer than the former, it was still a risky business model and the pay-scales there left little to be desired), and later television, among some others, became an attractive home for the new arrivals to help develop, and offer an opportunity for them to lead a promising new industry with a potentially successful business model.

Hollywood, as an example, was mostly led by immigrants coming from the same background as the ones who, for the most part, established the comics industry. Yet we don't see the same type of relationship with let's say, screenplay writers, directors or actors, as we see with comics creators. Though this may be obvious to most, the news that Robert Downing Jr. earned $50M from his role in last summer's blockbuster from Marvel, while most of the creators of the film's main characters in the comics had little to no mention in the credits, succinctly drives home the profound difference between how both mediums relate to their creatives. The question then is, why does this difference exist? According to Salkowitz, there should be little to no difference at all between them. Or that Hollywood should have followed the same model as the comics, in how it relates to its script-writers, directors and actors, because the same immigrant psyche was at the ground floor of both industries.

I rather think the reason for the difference is that comics were a much lower profile industry than any other. The eyes of the business world were glued to Hollywood, journalism and later Television, even from the early years, and it wasn't easy for these businesses to get away with the type of abuse of creators that the comics became notorious for. But I also think Rob's letter sheds an important light on some of the reasons things came down the way they did, even though there's room to consider his theory needs the added relative anonymity of the comics as a more prevalent factor, to help put that history into better perspective.

This all reverberates for me with the title of the Group Think on how the comics culture might impact business practices. Most industry insiders wouldn't have dreamt such a thing possible a few decades ago when most of the business world barely knew there was such a thing as a comics culture, and most of those who knew could care less about it. The comics culture has and continues to grow exponentially in all directions. It's come into its own, maybe not in a way we'd all like to see, but it's clearly become a notable and visibly permanent fixture on the map. And it seems to me, that if we draw a straight line (or a curved one, doesn't seem to matter much) for the comics culture, from the golden-age to today, then the prospect for the future is indeed a very promising one. Maybe even of the more ambitious and relevant cultures on the world stage, because it offers the raw creative process not found in most other art forms, from which many other cultural mediums are drawing fundamental concepts. When I used to say something to this effect is in the industry's future to my colleagues in NY back in the 70s, they'd mostly shrug and remind me that the comics business is in shambles and that there's no future for it whatsoever. I think most of them look at the scope of the medium today with no less than amazement, relative to how things looked to us back then.

How business is being done in comics may not have changed much since comics started doing business. But comics creators, at least the ones who are able to put the wider picture into perspective, should be realizing by now the immense influence they could have over how that business is being done. People who are able to write and draw comics are for the most part at the helm of a medium that's becoming one of the more influential ambassadors to the business world. We have the tools, we have the means, and most important, we have an understanding of the need to exercise that influence.

I'd suggest that we could begin by considering a basic assumption that was once a creed of the founders of free trade. Namely that the success and happiness of an individual is directly linked and proportionate to the success and happiness of the collective construct that the individual is a part of. That the success of only a few and powerful, cannot be a lasting one, because if the social foundation it stands upon collapses, then so will it also collapse. That to forge a lasting successful socio-economic construct, necessitates the collective success of the society it thrives in.

I think that if the comics community, fans, professionals and creators, can begin to internalize and disseminate this basic principle, which seems to be becoming more and more evident in time, and try to demonstrate its effectiveness through the business outlets that we do have some influence and control over, then we might be taking an important step towards helping change the tides in how the corporate entities do business with us.

*****

Bob Temuka:

I'm an eternal optimist, so I really do think things are getting better. I think the impact comics culture has on the business is huge and that it is making the industry more ethical, but it's a painfully slow process. Even though many terrific creators are having a rough time in the industry, it's still so much more ethical than it used to be, even 20 years ago, (with a few notable exceptions, because there will always be some dickheads).

Creators are still screwed over on a shamefully regular basis, but there are also more good people than bad in the industry. Rob Salkowitz's ideas about the cultural dynamic are definitely part of it, but there are also a thousand little ways that things are getting better in this regard. It's such a vast subject, spread over years and years, with plenty of evidence.

But these kind of changes do take time, and it has taken more than half a century for the business to realise that fucking over your creative talent might actually bite you on the arse. These kinds of attitudes don't die overnight.

The good thing is, while they do take a long time, they are happening faster and faster. With the internet, anybody behaving like an unethical douchebag will invariably be exposed. It took decades for people to figure out how badly some creators were getting screwed over, now it can happen in a matter of weeks.

*****

Stefano Gaudiano:

I loved Rob Salkowitz's analysis. We beat our heads against the wall treating various sorts of injustice as impersonal "institutional" problems, even when a small amount of common sense would lead to mutually beneficial resolutions. What trumps common sense is the wild card of irrational needs and feelings, which are always personal and basically unique to each situation.

There are countless instances in which the profit needs of an institution would be better served by fair treatment of its clients or employees. Any individual within an institution however may believe that it is either mandatory or beneficial for him or her to perpetrate an injustice. Once an injustice is pointed out, nothing really prevents an institution from making amends, but someone in the institution could have a personal concern about 'looking weak'. That personal concern is what drives the decision process.

Rob Salkowitz's interpretation of events in the 1930's may or may not be entirely accurate in its specifics, but as a concept it provides a glimpse behind the curtain of what we take as given. Thanks to Rob for writing that, and thank you Tom for publishing it on your site.

*****

Danny Ceballos:

That sad and terrific book MEN OF TOMORROW made me a little more aware of how that comics business culture came into being and why it continues to thrive. Any artistic business that operates at a financial imperative over everything else is ultimately doomed (Hollywood learned this sad lesson in the sixties and seventies). Obviously, I can't speak for the inner workings of MARVEL / DC, although anyone can still point to how these corporations continue to deal with past creators (Ditko, Kirby, Siegel / Shuster) to see their true business colors.

imageI imagine either of those huge conglomerates could have moved boatloads of Peanuts books, but I'm guessing one of the reasons the Schulz heirs went with a company like Fantagraphics is because they have a proven track record for treating creators fairly, as well as putting out consistently great looking books. It should be noted that Fantagraphics is a company that grew out of comics fandom and they took a stand against what the big two did (and continue to do) in regard to creator rights (the egregious Watchmen reboot anyone?). If there is a sea change in comics business it is somewhat reflected by the fact that creators are taking greater control of how they make and distribute their own work (starting their own presses, selling directly thru the internet, etc). Maybe it's a good thing Marvel and DC are models not to emulate. Sometimes you need to wade through shit to exit a sewer.

*****

Michael May:

I love the fresh perspective of Salkowitz' idea and there's definitely food for thought there, but he lost me on the "humanitarianism" of Levitz' time in charge of DC. Creator deals were reportedly pretty good in general under Levitz, but he was also responsible for the treatment that drove away Alan Moore. The CrossGen exodus also happened during his time. As a broad-strokes argument, Salkowitz has a point, but using Levitz as an example doesn't really support it.

*****

Chris Arrant:

While I don't know enough to speak on the business manifestations of psychological profiles of the comics businessmen of the early 20th century, there's a tangent to this in more recent memories that's played out in my mind quite often as a unique quirk in comics: comic creators turned editors and publishers. The trend of working comics creatives like Carmine Infantino, Jim Shooter, Joe Quesada, and Jim Lee deciding to take more editorial/publishing roles is fascinating to me, especially in that corporate construct Salkowitz talks about where editors and publishers tend to keep their creator's at arm's length. I see some of the initial reasoning behind hiring comic creators as editor and publishes as a reaction by those that put them in those positions to try to endear themselves more to comic creators and try to engender better creator relations. Like Michael Jordan's transition from being a basketball player to a basketball executive, in some of their cases you can see a gradual shift of allegiances and reasoning for different arguments that spring up every couple years.

And I'm careful to separate these creators-turned-executives from the separate trend of editors-who-write. That seems a carryover from comics' roots in magazine publishing, but unlike magazine publishing and journalism where editors rise up through the ranks after being writers in comics it seems they're editors first -- an interesting juxtaposition if you look at it. In these cases, where editors moonlight as writers their work seems to come from a far different place, generally, due to them not being a working writer previous to their editorial work, giving material that seems to hit a checklist of storypoints the publisher requires but only in service to a mandate as opposed to more creative solutions where a story incorporates mandated points brought in by a publisher.

The overlap between comics' creative class and the office types has proven to give the industry some of its biggest successes but also some of its most conflicted tribulations, but it doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon.

*****

Martin Wisse

An interesting theory and I'm a sucker for class based analysis like this. I think there's a lot of truth to this thesis, but I have a few caveats however about the distinction with which the working class, immigrant cartoonists like Siegel & Shuter or Kirby were treated and how well their middle class colleagues fared..

While Eisner, Kane and Simon did indeed do much better than the vast majority of Golden Age cartoonists in terms of remuneration and keeping control of their intellectual property, this had less to do with their class background and more with the fact that each of them were them not just cartoonists but owned their own studios. As is well known, Eisner (together with Jerry Iger) worked as a comics packager for clients like Quality and Fiction House, while Joe Simon did the same for a succession of publishers, including National and Timely. We remember Simon & Kirby, but tend to overlook that they had a whole studio working for them in the forties and fifties.

It can be argued that Bob Kane did largely the same, only in-house for DC, where some part of the preferential treatment he got from DC management was surely for his efforts in keeping the people who actually did he work in line. In this he played the same role as the editorial class, with his continued employment dependent on the results he got from people like Bill Finger.

Which doesn't mean class didn't play a role there, just at a slight remote. It's probably not a coincidence that it was the cartoonists from, as Salkowitz puts it, "slightly more middle-class origins", who by and large started and ran these sweatshops. Part of belonging to the bourgeois after all means growing up with a better understanding of how business works than working class kids. In the end though Eisner, Simon and Kane still exploited working class cartoonists for the benefits of capital, profiting from their positions as middle men.

As for Salkowitz' observation that "this attitude is encoded in the DNA of DC and Marvel", yes, judging from the horror stories coming out of sixties and early seventies DC, this is correct. It only disappeared when the fans took over in the seventies and eighties, when both companies were owned by largely neglectful conglomerates who were much more interested in making Wonder Woman underoos than in whatever happened with the comics themselves. That and the shift to a fan driven, direct market where cartoonists were no longer anonymous, but could sell books for them, gave room for the Big Two to treat their creative talent slightly better than had been historically the norm.

As we know, this didn't last long. Especially at DC the old attitudes about cartoonists as largely interchangeable cogs in the machine are alive and well; only a handful of proven superstars escape that treatment.

*****

Chris W.:

"Saw your post this morning on Bissette's thoughts about corporations screwing creators, the choices involved, and the options. FWIW, I think there's a phrase in management-speak that applies here: 'culture eats strategy for breakfast.' Corporations reflect the values (or lack thereof) of their leaders, as filtered down the chain of command. As a business analyst by trade, I find that often the best explanations for aberrant business behavior arise from basic human psychology, not just the twisted logic of capitalism."

Which is a strategy that won't survive its first meeting with "culture", the whole point of the 'culture eats strategy' quote. If leaders don't understand who they're commanding, they do a bad job of commanding.

"When I look at the sociology of the early comics biz, especially DC and Timely, I see a very particular cultural dynamic at work: highly ambitious, entrepreneurial owners drawn from the same basic background as the artists (e.g., 1st or 2nd generation Jews from the lower depths of New York), half a generation or so older than their creative talent. Sure it serves their ownership interests for them to keep as much of the rights and profits as they can, but it's more than that. It is psychologically and socially necessary for the owners to create distance between themselves, good upper middle class bourgeoisie and aspiring capitalists, and the sweaty working-class artisans who do their work. I imagine you've read enough 'birth of the Golden Age' stuff to know what I'm talking about.

By "sweaty working-class artisans" I assume he means the people at typewriters and desks and not actual sweaty members of the working-class. This is the sort of nonsense that drives me rightwards. This writer is working so hard to project his own beliefs on people who died decades ago that he fails to take any account of any viewpoint that might disagree. I don't think Donenfeld, Liebowitz or Goodman hated Jews, but I can see an argument that they hated Jews. Does it hold up to scrutiny? No. Does that mean it's false? No. I just made up the argument five seconds ago, does that mean it's wrong? No. The people in question died decades ago, so it's not like there's actual evidence. Meanwhile, workers don't get very sweaty at a typewriter or drawing-board, whatever era they live in (where they're fortunate enough to have typewriters and drawing-boards.)

Just take the basic quote "1st or 2nd generation Jews from the lower depths of New York". It's a long-established fact of legacies that second generations differ from the first, but this quote makes no distinction. Would Baptists from Boston behave differently than Jews? Joseph P. Kennedy was a 2nd generation Catholic, how does he fit into this paradigm? A bourgeoisie who bought his (second-favorite) son a Presidency and his youngest a fifty-year Senate career? How are we defining Jews? How are we defining 1st and 2nd generation? Bill Gaines vs. Max Gaines? It's psychologically and socially necessary to project one's own beliefs on generations long-past, but that tells us nothing about actual culture, which already devours strategy.

"Think about how that works in practical behavior terms: Donnenfeld, Liebowitz, Goodman, etc. -- rising ethnic businessmen, trying to legitimate themselves in a marginal industry -- will do anything in their power to avoid being lumped in socially with the Siegel-and-Shuster class (scruffy, nerdy artists -- obviously total 'losers' in the world view of the ownership class), or worse yet, people like Jack Kirby (a kid from the slums, basically). If the owners were WASPs, it wouldn't be as important because outsiders would immediately recognize the social distinction, but since it was all Jews (and a few Italians and other ethnics) from top to bottom, the bosses needed to demonstrate their authority by treating the workers like garbage. That's how they figured the capitalist peer group whose approval they craved would recognize they were 'respectable.'

These people were barely removed from gangsters and pornographers, it's nothing but projection to determine at this late date who's approval they were seeking. As Jews, wouldn't they (maybe, possibly) look for God's approval above all else? Or does God not count? He sure doesn't in this version of the comics biz of eight decades ago. Maybe they were looking for their mother's approval, or a grade-school bully, or Flash Gordon's. Yes, they had the freedom to practice capitalism instead of being assigned their tribal roles, but that doesn't prove whose approval they were looking for, or what views they took of those sweaty inkers.

"As a result, you get a whole business culture defined by keeping the help in their place and not conceding any ownership prerogatives. IMO, all the odious trapping of the comics business: exploitive contracts, asshole editors, lack of benefits/dignity/certainty for freelancers, disposability of staff, arise from this 'familiarity-breeds-contempt' dynamic that characterized the early business. Once big money arrived, it became easier to justify this behavior in terms of greed â€" an acceptable motivation in corporate capitalism -- rather than simple class insecurity and pettiness. But that's where it comes from.

This is indistinguishable from any other leftist boilerplate of the last few centuries. How does the writer know they weren't justifying their behavior the same way before big money arrived? He doesn't, he's just projecting his own views back in time so it leads up to what he thinks now.

"Note that Joe Simon, Will Eisner and Bob Kane (or at least his family) are a different matter -- they come from slightly more middle-class origins and have some respectability attached to them

Define "slightly more middle-class origins." How does it differ from the "1st or 2nd generation Jews from the depths of lower New York"? What separates Bob Kane from Roy Thomas, except religion and age? How "slightly" is "slightly more middle-class"? So they made $20,000 a year instead of $17,000 a year? What's the difference?

"so it is easier, I think, for the bosses to treat them as autonomous creative people."

No, it's easier for you to generalize how other people make their decisions and plan their strategies. It certainly helps to remove any sense of individuality of decision-making. Will Eisner made better decisions than Jerry Siegel, but that's just a social issue which is easily dismissed and there's no chance of the sweaty artist making better decisions than the sweaty guy at a typewriter. Good thing they weren't working in the sewers or coal mines. This kind of viewpoint would get them killed real quickly.

"And of course Stan Lee was Goodman's nephew. IMO, it's no coincidence that these are the people who came out of the Golden Age with relatively good business deals. As a class, they didn't pose as much of a threat to ownership's self-image."

"As a class"? The "slightly-more middle class Jews" against the "1st and 2nd generation of Jews from the depths of lower New York"? If that's what "class" entails, then the concept needs to be throw away and pissed upon. Are there any Jews you can point to who are "slightly-more middle class" than the "1st and 2nd generation of Jews from the depths of lower New York" who didn't grow up to create comic books? How do you distinguish between them? Do non-Jews have any place in this concept of society?

"That was all a long time ago, of course, but I think there's ample evidence that this attitude is encoded in the DNA of DC and Marvel, and maybe also of Archie. When you think about the Levitz/Kahn regime at DC -- whatever its faults from other standpoints -- I think you'd have to say it was characterized by a certain humanitarianism toward the creators. IMO, this was born of the fact that Levitz and Kahn both came from middle class Jewish backgrounds where showing the lower-downs who's boss was not as important to the definition of success. But note also that Jack Liebowitz lived to serve on the board of AOL/Time Warner, and Ike Perlmutter certainly strikes me as a current day manifestation of this same temperament. Evidence indicates that the attitude lives on, even as its origins get lost in the mists of time."

Eisner, Kane and Lee were middle-class Jews too. Do you trust them? It's this sort of nonsense that drives me rightwards. People who want to write or draw have the freedom to write and draw. People who see a publishing niche to fill have the freedom to do that. Most of the problems will only come about after the fact. Yes. Mr. Salkowitz is very wrong.

Editor's Note: My thanks to Chris W, but please don't anyone ever format like this one again.

*****

Patrick Ford:

The attitude of publishers seems to me simply a function of basic human nature. People with an edge will almost certainly use that edge to their own advantage. That's the reason why I like laws and regulations. We need far more, and stronger, laws and regulations than we already have.

Class distinctions are tied in with this, but they are just another aspect. Liebowitz apparently looked down on Goodman and his tiny company. When Liebowitz was asked if he played golf with Goodman, he seemed offended by the idea he'd socialize with Goodman.

You go to a ghetto and there are the weak and the strong on a block. A guy walks in with a gun and he's got an edge. Disney walks into a room with 15 attorneys and they have an edge.

Jack Kirby: "I wouldn’t want to be in a position of leadership where I could hurt somebody, because I feel that I’m capable of it. A lot of people in my generation are capable of it. It’s done all the time in business... That’s what competition means: One man symbolically killing another."

*****

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*****
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Go, Read: John Porcellino On SPACE

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Go, Read: Cartoonist Chris Weyant On Making A Boston Marathon Bombing Cartoon For The New Yorker

Here. You usually don't get to see a cartoonist speak at length about the subtle pressures of doing work in response to a story like that one, so it's nice to see several graphs on the subject.
 
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Go, Look: Tracing Comic Book Covers

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my brothers and I did this all the time, with "copy paper" from my dad's home office supplies, taped around a comic book
 
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Festivals Extra/Personal: CCAD's Mix Announces For 2013

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Robert Loss of Columbus College Art And Design announced the return of the Mix symposium for 2013 earlier this week. Subtitled "CCAD's Celebration Of Comics," it's one of those academic events that also brings in an artistic element. I'll be on hand, participating in some elements of programming. This will included an interview of/presentation with Jeff Smith, the conference's Keynote Guest. I've never talked to Smith live, so I'm looking forward to that. I will endeavor to do a good job. That event will take place September 27 at 7 PM; the entire event covers two days, the 27th and 28th.

They have a call for proposals you academics out there can download in PDF form: Mix_2013_CFP.pdf

Smith will also be exhibiting a lot of his RASL work for the first time over the weekend; that work is frequently beautiful in the originals. There will also be a comics contest, and CCAD will concurrently exhibit the paintings of Gary Panter. I heard a great many positives about the 2012 show, featuring Chris Ware.

More information here.
 
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Go, Look: Rocky Lane Western #15

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* holy crud, I totally missed a final outcome for the Joey Manley-related on-line comics publishing one-time empire. I had to get there from this well-written reminiscence by Shaenon Garrity. Love that photo. We'll all be dead soon.

* this seems potentially huge, but I have a really poor track record of adjudicating such things and I'm kind of at a loss as to how to track them: reading various GoComics offerings on mobile devices.

* Inktart has put out its latest call for submissions.

* Dylan Horrocks' Magic Pen keeps chugging along.

* Gary Tyrrell over at Fleen pulled out webcomics-related nominations out of this year's Eisners batch and that's a really interesting list for its size and range. I wonder if we don't notice that any more because comics stretch across boundaries more than ever or if it's not as easy to settle onto on-line comics that reflect a webcomics culture or if those kinds of comics are just more ubiquitous now.

* finally, I would think this would be an interesting class to take just in terms of the right-now of it. I'm not sure where that came from; probably Tyrrell.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: The Worm Troll

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it looks like these Modern Farmer comics are going to be a continuing series. I like that.

image* Todd Klein on Justice League #18. Richard Bruton on Stumpy And The Living Stone and Dockwood.

* I find the fact that the CBLDF does so well with variant issues now as fundraisers to be hugely fascinating. I mean, it's not fascinating in the way you can talk about it endlessly, because there it is, but I find it intriguing that this is a place they've arrived.

* the writer Brian Bendis posts the video of Jack Kirby on Entertainment Tonight from 1982. The early '80s were brutal to comics on television. There's a Stan Lee appearance on that one Alan Thicke late-night show that I remember being hilariously mean, although it's been years since I've seen it.

* this is the kind of thing that may only interest me, but I believe when the AB Walker exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum closes at the end of the day, that will mark the end of their use of that particular space in anticipation of moving into their new one. Grand opening this Fall.

* not comics: via Gil Roth comes this home furnishings piece in a potential Luke Cage-themed home.

* that looks like an interesting publishing panel.

* Liz Ohanesian talks to Gilbert Hernandez.

* the writer Marc-Oliver Frisch was so happy with his latest analysis of DC comic book sales figures that he wrote me an e-mail with a link to it. He's pretty tough on the sales figures and you might draw in a sharp breath or two over lines like "estimated sales of the average new DC Universe comic book fell to 31,000." There was a time in the mid-1990s when we had concluded that a title needed to sell around 26,000 copies for a company like that just to be profitable -- this was probably loony talk, and I couldn't defend the process by which we came to that conclusion other than it had something to do with a mini-confession from someone who was talking about that number before it became a reality for any comics like that. And the numbers work way differently now, as does everything about the economics of comics from a publishing standpoint. Still, it's sort of amazing to even talk about numbers in that neighborhood.

* Alan Moore on the late Robert Morales.

* finally, Mike Bertino takes us into the secret world of beards. I only wish that I had a face on my neck instead of all that extra skin.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Michael Kupperman!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Kerry Gammill!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Matt Dembicki!

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April 25, 2013


Go, Look: Ron Regé Jr.

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Cartoonist Leslie Chew Arrested In Singapore For Sedition

There is a fairly succinct wire-style article here about cartoonist Leslie Chew being arrested and charged for a cartoon he posted to his Facebook page that could be read to accuse the government of racism. This apparently happened last Friday, and he was released on bail Saturday. The cartoon was posted March 27. He will continue to be investigated under the Sedition Act. The cartoonist stresses in that piece that he makes clear the politicians depicted are fictional.

The Wall Street Journal has more information, including that material were confiscated and that a police report has been issued although Chew's name was not divulged there. This is apparently the Facebook page for the comic in question.

Chew face up to three years in jail and a hefty fine of about $4K USD if convicted.
 
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Go, Look: Carmine Infantino Cover Gallery

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Thomas Nast Award Goes To Rob Rogers

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Editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has won this year's Thomas Nast award. That's an award given by the Overseas Press Club -- a group that's been around since the late 1930s and was started by a group of foreign correspondents -- to a cartoonist who has displayed excellence in covering international affairs. The award was given out Thursday night in New York City.

Thomas has been at the Post-Gazette since 1993 and has been cartooning for Pittsburgh audeinces since 1984. He is a former Pulitzer Prize finalist.
 
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Go, Look: Weird Dead Comics

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A Few Notes On Visiting New York's MoCCA Arts Fest 2013 And S.P.A.C.E. 2013 In Columbus

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* so a week apart I went to two very different comics shows: the MoCCA Arts Fest in New York City, and SPACE in Columbus, Ohio. What follows are some notes from those travels. I apologize for their lateness; nothing here quite cohered, and I thought they might do so as time passed. Then I got busy. Then my computer blew up.

* I have relatively few hardcore travel/flight notes this time out. I remain slightly dismayed how thinly we're spread in terms of our travel infrastructure, how missing a single connection can capsize your trips for a day or more, and how little this seems to matter to any of the airlines that might be able to better cope with the consequences of this were it to become a priority to do so. This is not my memory of travel even 15 years ago, and can't be a good thing for the prospect of traveling a bunch in the future. I think travel may become more increasingly attractive to cartoonists and other comics folk.

* so: New York and MoCCA.

* since New York is first, let me do a New York-related travel note about the hotels I stayed in. I did spend some time with a friend in New Jersey but in the city I stayed at hotels. I prefer this, even though I know most people couch and guest room surf -- there were a couple of comics people inhabiting the otherwise empty home of Brian Heater, for example, perhaps even with his permission. But at this point in my life I almost always opt for a hotel. I'm old, I prefer to watch ESPN at full blast at 3 AM while eating corn ships, and I occasionally have Night Shrieks.

I stayed in three NYC hotels. According to on-line review sites, this should have cost me $1500 and involved rats constantly running over my face. New York hotel room reviews are about 20 percent crazier than all other hotel reviews, which are pretty loopy to begin with. People seem to savage any hotel that isn't really top-end as being a series of tiny hell-holes in a crumbling façade staffed by ingrates. I thought all three hotels I stayed in -- a Best Western at Bowery and Grand, Pod 51 reasonably close to the Society of Illustrators (I got a full room rather than one with a shared restroom) and the Marcel at Gramercy Hotel near the show itself -- were freaking fine, and everybody at each place was super-nice. I would stay in all three again. I also worked all three down under $150 a night by just checking discount sites with some regularity in the weeks leading up to the show.

So it's possible to do a hotel in NYC and not get screwed. Just saying.

* okay, that boring point was to make everyone leave that was likely to leave so we can gossip, you and me. How are you? Have you been well?

* comics shows are sort of amazing right now. I could go to a comics show every other week for a solid ten months, and that's not the month that includes Angouleme. It's a whole different world than it was a generation ago, when there were maybe two or three shows in an entire year that one might consider doing. It's a better world, I think.

* I flew into NYC on Easter Sunday. This was the Sunday before MoCCA.

* I was close enough that first night to stop by the KGB Bar Easter-tradition comics reading on my way to a late dinner. Robyn Chapman told me that attendance was slightly down, but there were still enough people I had to stand. I enjoyed what I saw: Sam Henderson doing funny voices, Jesse Reklaw singing a song on his guitar, and at least one cartoonist I'd never heard of whose work I enjoyed -- I think the one I saw and whose work intrigued me was Caroline Paquita. The room would hold maybe 40-50 people at most. I'm glad I did such an event this one time, as I can't imagine that becoming my kind of thing on a regular basis even if I had the opportunity. But anything that cartoonists want to do and that they think helps get their work over with an audience, I'm for it.

* one unfortunate element was a small stream of traffic walking past the screen in varying degrees of stooped-over politeness in order to get at a bar. One man that looked a lot like Michael Chiklis walked in during the Jesse Reklaw reading, wondered out loud what in the hell he was seeing, and then asked me where he could "score some blow." That's never happened to me at a comics event before. I'm not sure that I knew I looked like a guy who could help a guy score some blow.

* don't get me wrong, I still sold some to him. It was just weird to be asked.

* I thought that Karl Stevens' material read surprisingly well, and seeing him emphasize the funny parts actually changed the way I'll approach those comics in the future.

image* the new Jesse Reklaw comics mentioned a couple of times already are kind of fascinating-looking if you compare it to the crisper, easy-to-scan work for which he's best known; I picked up that book, called Lovf, at the show.

* one bit of publishing news I gleaned from that event is that Karl Stevens is drawing a full-length graphic novel on contract, I believe from someone else's script but still in that distinctive style of his. I think it's okay I report that in a casual way here.

* I wonder sometimes if Stevens isn't one of those cartoonists super ill-served by the shape of the current marketplace, that were we in an era where he could be published three or four times a year in comic book form people would pick up on what he does in order that he might build a more significant fan base in that traditional comics world. I wonder, I wonder.

* the reason I flew into MoCCA a full week in advance was so I could attend my friend Gil Roth's talk with Ben Katchor at the Monday night comics symposium held at the Parsons New School. Gil is a very skilled comics interviewer, and I urge all publicity people to include his podcast on their publicity plans for the New York area.

* one supposes Katchor spoke to Roth both as a way to provide content for the ongoing symposium but to help promote his new book, Hand-Drying In America. You should go listen to it here.

* so I guess they do this symposium every Monday? Or at least they do this on Mondays with some regularity. Charles Brownstein presented the next Monday, the one after MoCCA, and I was invited to present sometime this summer if I could make it back to the city. That's also slightly astonishing to me, that something like that exists and that it hasn't existed for years. While there are models for and examples of more informal comics get-togethers stretching back decades -- not to mention outright parties and alcohol-fueled lunches -- there's a lot to be said for something formal like this as a foundational thing on which the local community of artists, industry-folk and hardcore fans can hang their hat. I hope that five years from now every single comics town with an appropriate, sponsoring institution can offer something similar.

* the Hand-Drying In America book is beautiful and immense and formidable; we honor and enthuse over none of our routinely great cartoonists as little as we do Ben Katchor, and I'm not sure why. Katchor was an engaging reader of his own work when projected on a screen, and I imagine would be a complex and challenging interview subject were I sitting in Roth's chair.

* the event was fairly well attended: a full room with people along the back wall, skewing older, but with more than few young people. Seymour Chwast was there. Bob Sikoryak. Bill Kartalopoulos. Andrea Tsurumi. Keren Katz. Connie Sun. Arlen Schumer. A bunch of people I didn't know. I would go to this a lot if I lived there.

image* there are several things I recall about the substance of the interview, even without the podcast refresher. One was that Katchor said he had the full support of his parents in the sense that one of them had always wanted to pursue art and one of them had such strong memories of cartooning as an honorable profession that this seemed like a great thing for their son to do. He noted how hard it would be to be a cartoonist without the support of one's parents given all the other difficulties, and something about that struck me as a particularly kind and generous thought. Another thought that floats to surface was that Katchor seemed to avoid the label of nostalgia, and in fact at least one emphatically stated he'd like to see the future be more interesting far more than he'd ever want to retreat to a more interesting past. Yet another thing I recall was that Katchor said it was more difficult to make comics now than it was when he started out, which is something you hear quite a bit from older cartoonists. Pressed on process, Katchor noted he writes his strips first, which I didn't know. This allows him the luxury of doing that portion of his work wherever he finds himself. He also stated a preference for the free newspaper as a home for his work because of the easy access to his work by people that maybe couldn't afford a book collection or even Internet access.

* anyway, that was good. Ben Katchor! New York City! Comics!

* something that came up there and elsewhere throughout the New York portion of my trip was the notion of comics community. This is a natural subject matter at shows. I did not get a sense of strong local comics community from the New Yorkers with whom I hung out, even by the pretty loose nature of how comics culture defines those things. I could be completely wrong about this, or intersecting with cartoonists who are older and have more complex lives than allows for easy interaction with a bunch of their peers. I hope if I'm right that it changes; I think there's a lot of value for younger cartoonists, in particular, in having regular events to attend and regular faces on which to count seeing. I'm barely "in" comics, and I rely on a version of this.

* while staying with Gil Roth. I got a podcast tutorial for the long-threatened CR podcast. Something soon, I promise.

* I studied Roth's vast library of comics, which is fascinating to me because Gil is quite well read generally so his comics collection is a component of that larger devotion to books and reading rather than its own thing. It's hard for me to imagine Gil building a comics vault, if that makes any sense. You are much more likely to see a shelf of Ron Rosenbaum and David Gates books near the Eddie Campbell than you are a row of Batgirl statuettes. All love to the statuettes and those that adore them, but I like seeing as many different ways of conceiving and interacting with comics as is possible. If Shelf Porn were a real porn site, all the categories would take you to the same page.

* Roth owns a significant number of works from artists like Gary Panter, but he also had some buys that reflect his local comics retailer: Joker's Child (my favorite name for a comics shop in a while). He has these hardcover Marvel volumes that I didn't know existed: one, for example, collects the entirety of the Walt Simonson run on Thor. Marvel's book publishing program seems so arbitrary and goofy at times, like it's less a publishing strategy than a performance art piece on the subject of not keeping stuff in print. I don't think I've even seriously covered that element of their overall output, let alone bought a lot of it, it's such a slow-motion train wreck in so many ways. Anyway, I would love to have a few books like that one, and I should learn more about what's out there.

* comics could do far, far worse than adding 8000 Gil Roths to its reading audience, which strikes me as a goal equally achievable and desirable as converting 50,000 videogame players. As we move past seeing comics resources as limited and to be spent in parsimonious fashion on whatever element of comics most flatters ourselves, it would be wonderful if the needs of all readers were more directly engaged. I used to spend money on comics that I couldn't spend now. This is dumb.

* saw the writer about comics and occasional comics-maker Sean T. Collins on Tuesday. It's always nice to catch up with a peer. We talked about the on-line writing market in which he participates with some strength and force as a reviewer of TV and music, most noticeably as a high-end re-cap style writer about television. (He doesn't really write recaps, but his reviews are informed by the same thorough engagement with the material that recap culture has brought to the service. If you want to spend some time with the episode of the show you just saw and enjoyed, you could read one of Sean's reviews the same way you might consume a formal recap.) It sounds rough out there in that market, with relatively meager returns in terms of pay for just a staggering amount of writing being done. Granted, Collins is more than grateful for every opportunity that comes his way so any aspersions cast are wholly my own. I'm not sure what the hell happened to that writing market, why there's no longer any money for on-line content -- don't say there never was because I know differently -- but it isn't pretty. I'd hate to be stringing together a bunch of freelance gigs right now considering how few opportunities there are for so little reward. It's terrifying. This was actually by far the more positive of the two lengthy conversation I had with talented working writers.

* had lunch with Bob Fingerman on Thursday, at about 105th and West Broadway. We talked about vocational issues, and comics marketing, and Bob's reputation as having something of a noticeably fallen face on the last day of major comics events.

* that's right, all I did was eat with comics-people. What do you do when you travel?

* I always enjoy Bob, and I hope his Maximum Minimum Wage trade does well. It is a handsome mounting of that material, and that's a key alt-comics series. I certainly think it'd be as effective a springboard into a younger-persons TV show as any other comics property that exists right now. A comic might be an odd place for someone to go for something like Girls, but that comic could definitely work that way for some enterprising TV producer. I also suspect that Fingerman is eager to do more comics work, which would be great.

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* you can tell the above is the office building that houses DC Comics because there's a Batman symbol in one of window. Actually, I have no idea if that's a DC office at all, and might prefer it not to be. I hadn't visited since Archie Goodwin was alive.

* ran into the writer Mark Sable in the lobby. That was nice. I like that guy.

* I had an excellent meeting with John Cunningham. It was all off the record, informal and engaging, and I greatly appreciate Cunningham taking the time to talk to me. I enjoyed the discussion and learned a lot -- all in above-board fashion -- that I'll be able to employ at CR.

* hung out with Scott Nybakken a bit on my way out of DC. Scott works in the archives department there, and is very nearly a 20-year DC employee at this point. Nybakken was my immediate predecessor at The Comics Journal, is a very good writer, a nice man, and the kind of person on whose back the North American comics industry is carried. We have a number of mutual friends.

* I didn't have a lot of solid questions about DC archival work. Nybakken said he would like to see his department do more Jack Cole and I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with that. I don't think Scott would mind me writing that he noted how the archives started as something the art department did but the place added an editorial component to that task in a formal way -- by which I mean people in charge of editorial with people they report to -- at a later date. That's kind of interesting. He seemed happy and looked well.

* Nybakken took me by DC's library, where I received a nice tour. This included getting to hold copies of various iconic superhero first editions. I was interested to learn that one reason DC has a number of fairly impressive books on hand is for legal reasons, not just editorial-driven research, which makes total sense. I saw the drawer full of licensed comics and some of the oddities, including an apparently famous comic a rich man licensed for his sons birthday in which the birthday boy and all his friends appear. That would have ruined me for all other comics when I was that age. I would have wanted more of them with me in it. I was bad enough about characters that reminded me of me. Like Kitty Pryde.

* that night I went to the MoCCA-related reception at the Society Of Illustrators, a place I'd never been before. That was... that was pretty great, actually. I could have looked at the art for five hours. Here are photos of the basement level with the Harvey Kurtzman exhibit on the walls and the first floor when they had the boxes on hand they were taking to MoCCA exhibitors the next day.

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* what struck me was 1) how nice in general the art displayed was, 2) how nice the place was otherwise (you can see how people would have wedding receptions there), 3) how earnest the people were and how they were generally interested in learning more about the milieu of comics in addition to the work itself. Bill Griffith, Diane Noomin, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Fingeroth, Anne Ishii, Gina Gagliano, Heidi MacDonald, Bill Kartalopoulos and Calvin Reid were among the comics people on hand.

* the overall impression of that reception was a show of institutional strength, whether or not that was what was intended. Kind of "this is our home, this is how we treat comics art, this is how we operate dressed up and trying to impress, we look forward to you being part of our family" as a message, if that makes any sense. It was hard not to be a bit taken in.

* at one point Calvin Reid looked around the ridiculously well-appointed bar and dinner area and proclaimed, "So... MoCCA died and went to heaven." I laughed.

* Anelle Miller was as generally impressive in person as she was in this interview, and I thought she came off extremely well in that interview. I don't want to overstate things, but she struck me as someone that works very hard, is focused on what is in front of her, and is open to making changes and doing things differently from a position of strength rather than as part of a constant referendum on what she's done and how she did it. This is much more rare in comics than it should be. It seems to me that in comics a ton of us seem to approach work matters as if from a crazed, defensive hunch, ready to advocate on behalf of what's been done or our actions or both in a kind of strained way usually reserved for congressional hearings. I don't know if that communicates, but if you've been around comics long enough, I think you know what I mean. We always seem to be defending ourselves. It's never about the opinion as much as it's our right to have this opinion. And I didn't get that from the SOI people.

* the Society also had free booze at this event, at least for the first half, so everything I just wrote was probably purchased from me one bottle at a time. And then I went to a bar, and talked about comics, and I seem to recall Danny Fingeroth asking me multiple questions about Laramie, Wyoming, and I don't all the way remember how I got back to the hotel.

* it was the day that Carmine Infantino died.

* I was lucky enough to have lunch with Brendan Burford the next day. I worked with Brendan when I wrote a strip being syndicated at King Features, where Brendan is now the comics editor. Despite my occasional inability to spell his name correctly, he's yet another one of my favorite people in comics. I'm surprised we don't make a bigger deal of a former mini-comics maker and indy anthology editor holding one of the few positions in comics that can actually provide cartoonists with careers. Everything we talked about was off the record, and most was off of comics. There's no better conversation than one enjoyed about some specifics of New York architecture with Brendan Burford.

* later that evening I went to the Dash Shaw event at Desert Island in Brooklyn, seeing it for the first time. Primed by a subway ride where I thought someone was actually going to offer me a seat, I made the first of 43 million old jokes I was to make the rest of the weekend, telling owner Gabe Fowler I was on hand to ensure he wasn't the oldest person in the room. Soon I wasn't the oldest person, although I never left the top three. That's good, though.

* my new thing at comics shows, incidentally, seems to be one excruciatingly clumsy bro-hug with at least one comics person under 35.

* Brooklyn. I watched a young couple break up just outside the store. I should have given them their privacy, but I stayed and watched like a creep, pretending to text from my $5 phone. I think the guy actually feigned a leg injury to make her stick around and take him to the hospital. I wish I could say it's the first time I've seen that particular move. It didn't work for him, either.

* two different sets of people walked up to the shop and walked away when they found out the former bakery space was no longer a bakery. I guess it was some kind of temporary electronics store directly preceding the takeover by Gabe Fowler. He sent me a link to some photos of the conversion.

* anyway, Desert Island seems a well-stocked store, and makes good use of its space. I saw a bunch of stuff there I hadn't seen before, and two different cartoonists showed their friends books they had done that they hadn't seen displayed in any retail establishment before. I could have spent $10K in twenty minutes.

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* as implied, a lot of younger comics people came out to see Dash and eat cake. I talked to Ben Marra about EC artists -- I never talk to that guy. Gary Groth and Fantagraphics would have been gratified to hear that Marra said he had no real experience with the EC comics and was looking forward to the hardcover series to rectify that. Marra expressed a specific interest in Al Feldstein, which is an intriguing choice.

* I hunt out briefly with Team Young Comics at a bar stocked with people straight out of a Brooklyn cliché agency. I imagine I looked like George C. Scott searching for his daughter.

* slightly later than that, I joined Team Young Fantagraphics in a bar that looked like it could use boiling. Because it was Brooklyn, where apparently this kind of thing happens all of the time, we were joined in our elbow-bending and ethical discussions of workplace romances by a man named "Hot Tub Tony" and his friend "Joe Babyshoes." Hot Tub Tony seemed baffled by my presence, and, at that point in the evening, so was I.

* I have never been more tired at a comics event than I was Friday night. I slept ten hours, and missed the first hour of MoCCA.

* MoCCA is held on a Saturday-Sunday, which I think works for a show like that. I like one-day shows slightly better, I think, just because I can never tell the difference in my memory between one-day and two-day shows. Still, I think the two-day format may be the strongest format, if that makes sense. Three or more days starts to get into grouchy old-man territory for me, and the only thing I think it facilitates that I like are things like schools visiting a show, if a show is able to attract that audience. But really I love them all. It seems to me much more natural to extend events back into the week preceding a show than it is to extend shows into Thursdays and Fridays, at least at this point. I am probably in a huge minority on this.

* most of the people to whom I spoke agreed with me that MoCCA 2013 was a generally successful, although not special, comics show.

* the overall atmosphere and the operational smoothness of the show got the highest marks. One publisher told me they never had an easier time at a show not TCAF. A lot of people also sold pretty well.

* there were only two people I spoke to convinced the crowds were noticeably lighter than the previous years. One of them, however, was on the advisory board, so I thought that was interesting. I have to imagine that show lost some momentum in recent years and with the shift; this year may have been more of a placeholder in terms of the publicity drive and anything more ambitious being done with the show -- that, of course, depends on the Society's plans.

* I talked to exactly one person with an overall negative impression. I'm sure there were others, but no one in my direct sphere other than that single person.

* so yeah, good show. If the number of people basking in its glow was probably limited to those that had special experiences and those for whom this show hit a particular sweet spot, I also bet there weren't a lot of people grinding their teeth at noon on Monday.

* let's pull this apart for a bit.

* I think the primary strengths of MoCCA 2013 can be broken down three ways. One was the institutional stolidity on display throughout. That would be Anelle Miller, the rest of her team from Society Of Illustrators, and the committee she put together to bridge that world and the comics world in which arts-comics in New York operates. The second was a general buy-in by several creators and key comics people, something required to make a show in that world work. The third was that an audience showed up.

* don't discount that last one. The biggest underreported story of the surge in festivals and comics shows is the way that audiences have responded to them. Whether this is fans of more general media for whom comic conventions seem to be their own thing independent of anything one might possibly or even accidentally have to read, or whether this includes those that attend what are essentially reading festivals with comics at their center, audiences have taken to cons and festivals in a way that outpaces the reasonable level of expectations for anything in comics beyond top-level art-comics talents. In other words, we have shows that perform ahead of what a smart person might have predicted for them a few years back. And the best shows have the best attendees -- as far as I know without exception.

* the show was four rows facing the entrance to a back row anchored by the CBLDF. Behind that last row was a curtained-in art show featuring comics art from the Society Of Illustrators. Programming was in a side room (the table talks) and downstairs (the formal panels).

* if you haven't been, the 69th Armory is a big space, sort of an indoor basketball court-sized space of the kind you tend to find in a lot of small, mid-western towns. It's a massive, thick-necked jock of a building, too. If you went to high-school with it, it would wrestle at 185 pounds. There is a balcony around the exhibition space that remains inaccessible to con goers, and some downstairs space that seems about 2/3 used, I couldn't quite tell. The show stretched pretty much the length of the floor, with some more versatile space up front. Behind the final row of tables facing these rows was an art show selected by the sponsoring organization, I think about 60-70 pieces. It looks like there's room to expand, but the show will have to be smart about it, it won't be automatic.

* I have to admit, I sort of liked the space. I thought it was interesting and kind of cool. It wasn't as nice as the Puck Building, but professional basketball was never played in the Puck Building. Most of the people that had a negative reaction to the space itself seemed to do so in terms of remembering past, not-great elements of shows, like the year where it was apparently 400 degrees, called "The Sweaty Show."

* one person did express unhappiness that it was an armory and that they actually once saw military personnel there, which was kind of a buzzkill in terms of it being an indy-comic experience.

* I was a little freaked out to see that much art on display with an open side door nearby, and I'm told that some of the flourishes made a huge difference in how the room was perceived, but I thought the space itself was fine.

* I'm not sure I can say the same thing about that neighborhood, which struck me as a place people go to rather than a place where people already are. It was a nice enough, but a little not-arts oriented and not exactly a boon.

* it was not a popular neighborhood with the New York people to whom I spoke. I heard two different people reference bars in which we found ourselves as "bro bars."

* so I think that's a cool place to have a show, but it's not an outstanding one. I suspect that the show could potentially move, and I could see them considering any number of space options for future iterations. I suppose we'll know soon enough.

* one big get for MoCCA was that Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, AdHouse and PictureBox all showed up, which at one time or another was in significant doubt.

* the Drawn and Quarterly booth was without Julia Pohl-Miranda, after she was delayed at the US border. I think I'm able to say that without irritating anyone; it was openly discussed on the floor. Once thing Fiona told me is that an enormous number of people stopped by and asked if they could help; it doesn't look like she needed it. D+Q had very few books by show's end, and most of their signings seemed well attended.

* Fantagraphics had Jen Vaughn and Jacq Cohen and Gary Groth. AdHouse had Chris Pitzer (looking slim) and Boulet. PictureBox had Dan Nadel and his terrifying, "I am the less-handsome brother of CF" beard. Secret Acres had a high-energy Barry and Leon. It was the old gang, mostly there.

* dividing the hall and aisles with curtains this year -- a new thing, apparently -- was a positive move for most people to whom I spoke. What I mean by that is that there were curtains that separated the show into aisles -- it wasn't just the way the tables were arranged. This kept the hall from seeming oppressively large because your vision was limited to the aisle you were in. It also helped with noise by muffling the noise from tables behind you. I think that was an overall positive, in a way that I imagine someone out there is going to joke about, but is definitely worth noting.

* what else...? I'd give the signage an A-. As the son of a hospital administrator I have a signage fetish, and I'm always frustrated by the shows where I can't tell where I am or where I'm going. It was still a little difficult to find the panel presentations downstairs, or at least I walked a couple of people down there that weren't finding where they were supposed to go. People liked the big row banners as a design element.

* the support staff was widely praised, at least in my direct vicinity, for being courteous and solicitous in terms of asking people if they needed help. I caught one dancing when they thought no one was looking.

* on Saturday. I saw Brigid Alverson interviewing Darryl Cunningham. That's two super-nice people. I'm thinking they talked about comics and how to clean petroleum off of waterfowl.

* all of the younger cartoonists and comics people seem to be either a) dropping weight by mad, b) working out to get into shape. I suspect they're coming to kill all of us over 40. People mentioned to me without prompting Sean Ford, Katie Skelly, Michael DeForge and Leon Avelinho as looking like they were in a particular good place health-wise. A lot of people seemed happy and positive independent of their table sales or the general shape of their lives in comics.

* went to dinner with Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler on Saturday night and told Comics Journal war stories. Dan and Tim together make up about 11 percent of the total audience for such stories, so that was super-convenient. Dan Nadel's unfortunate haircut and beard was the butt of several jokes and at least one person walked up to me just to express their displeasure with it. I thought it looked okay, but the widespread anger at it made me laugh.

* had a drink and too-short conversation with Paul Pope at a bar on Saturday night. I greatly enjoy Paul; he's always treated me like a prince, that guy. I was a fan of his work really early on, and I was happy to make a case for THB in TCJ at a point in time where a lot of what we thought was important to comics worked out of a completely different tradition. Paul and I talked a bit about how he ran his PR through a completely made-up press person when he ran his self-publishing outfit in the Columbus days. More people should do that. Pope and Dan Nadel made plans to take Blutch out to a jazz club, which is exactly the kind of conversation you'd think Dan Nadel and Paul Pope would be having over glasses of alcohol in a New York bar. I look forward to Battling Boy. You know, that Image hardcover that they did has a ton of work in it, by the way; I just noticed that before I left for New York. For some reason I just thought that was one or two stories, but it's a bunch.

* it was great to see Rick Altergott and Ariel Bordeaux, former Seattle comics community members of my era turned Providence nuclear family with their young son. It was his first con. Ariel has a work done for which she's seeking a publisher. I hope publishers will ask after it.

* it was also wonderful to run into new daddy Tucker Stone at the end of the show; I thought he might not make it to festival, but he did, despite the new family member at home. I'm told he attended most of the show in a Bergen Street Comics capacity. I won't lie to you that a giddily happy Tucker Stone isn't slightly terrifying.

* I never saw Gary Tyrrell; I have a theory he's some sort of sentient computer program, and was not dissuaded by his absence. I ran into Darryl Ayo for about 10 seconds. He tweeted twice with his left hand while shaking my hand with his right. Okay, I'm just kidding. It was three tweets.

* I thought the programming was strong and well selected. We have a very high standard for programming right now, but this seemed perfectly pitched to the more casual nature of this particular show, while giving us solid spotlights on the guests of honor. The three panels I was able to attend were pretty packed. The sound was just fine, roughly the same at different places seated.

* I watched a big chunk of Dan Nadel's panel with Stan Mack, Miriam Katin and Bob Fingerman, all of whom were funny and charming. Lot of Stan Mack fans in that room. Mack mentioned that one reason he has worked with found dialogue is that some of the illustrated reportage he did was billed that way. Bob Fingerman also made a humorous point about how gun experts flood the e-mail accounts of any author, comics or otherwise, that fails to provide exact information in terms of a gun being depicted or shown.

* the Bill Griffith/Paul Di Filippo conversation was lively and had a real outreach feel to it, the kind of thing where there was information that fans that know his work a bit would enjoy hearing, or hearing again, but also seemed to place Griffith's work in a broader, more general context that would allow you to appreciate what he's been doing if you'd never seen his work before. Di Filippo -- a science-fiction author, a comics reviewer, and a one-time superhero comic book scriptwriter -- did about as solid a job as I'd ever seen of slipping questions in and out of a pre-prepared slideshow. I was glad he pointed out how generally attractive that strip is.

* I missed out on lunch with Griffith, Di Filippo and Gil Roth because God hates me. That strategy of standing somewhere where you know you're going to see someone when they walk by? That is an overrated strategy.

* I thought the talk between Jillian Tamaki and Ryan Sands was quite good. Tamaki showed up for her panel about 30 minutes early with karaoke stories (apparently Michael DeForge is something). Sands sauntered in about ten minutes later. Tamaki was worried she was late, Sands not so much.

* Tamaki was a guest of honor -- I was happy to see that, I think she straddles the world of comics and illustration with aplomb. She enjoyed a significant line at her post-panel signing with the CBLDF. She had a mini-comics edition featuring the Super Mutant Magic Academy comics with her. Those are some of my favorite comics right now.

* Tamaki said at her panels that she would be moving to an SMMA collection after her latest, big project was done. That's great news. She's also moving forcefully through another major project with Skim collaborator and cousin Mariko Tamaki.

* Sands sounds like he's ready to step up his publishing efforts, which is good news for comics given his displayed taste, the quality and range of his acquaintances, and Sands' belief that cartoonists being rewarded is a primary concern for publishers.

* one popular cartoonist acquaintance of Tamaki in the audience told me after the panel they were having a fun time not tabling at the show. I heard that a lot from people, how refreshing it is to actually attend a show without having to do business there. It's nice to have shows that cartoonists want to attend as shows.

* there were generally positive vibes about the Society's juried Awards winners, with opinions expressed ranging from "they were excellent" to "they were on the high end of what I've seen here." That seems to me like a pretty good award given that a) the judging process was spread out amongst some severely busy people, b) the award itself was new, and it usually takes some time for those things to catch on. I hope people will attend the SOI event where those winners are displayed. Again, it was something the Society should be able to build on, if they want to.

* If they want to, if they want to, if they want to...

* I got to meet Serge Ewenczyk of Ca Et La on the floor, just wandering around. I think we might have met at the Tugboat booth. We talked about amazing conversations we've witnessed with comics people that were never taped. He also mentioned that the French-language edition of Duncan The Wonder Dog used different paper that displayed the artwork differently, which I'm dying to see.

* ran into Charlie Kochman from Abrams, who showed me pictures of the slow, deliberate moving of his comics and cartooning stuff from one apartment to another. When comics becomes a religions, Kochman will have a surprisingly high number of powerful relics.

* there was a bit of talk on the floor about the show, about improving it. There were about a dozen people told me they hoped the show might significantly curate in the future, and other industry folks to whom I spoke thought this would be the case moving forward, at least on some level.

* I'd say maybe a half-dozen people, including festival board members, expressed an interest in bringing in some sponsors in a way that would directly allow the Society to cut prices on tables. The cost of tables is still a major concern. I know some people that did not make their money back, although they considered it an effective write-off. That's not as sustainable thing long-term.

* the CBLDF said they had a good show, and made over $5000 to put towards their work.

* what else...? one very well-known cartoonist flipped out in my direction about the Adam & Eve cartoon on display at that show, the one from Eleanor Davis. That display of comics was generally well-reviewed, at least in anecdotal fashion by those around me. It's nice to have things to do at a comics show other than engage in commerce, as much as we all love commerce.

* the one comic-thing I kept staring at in the little museum display -- which I thought was fun, both to have and the actual art as compiled -- was a panel of Brenda Starr getting hit in the head with a flying wrench. What a goddamn odd thing to have appear in your morning newspaper.

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* was there a book of the show? Well, there were the prize-winners, including the Gregory Benton book I heard a lot of folks talking about outside of those awards. Dean Haspiel asserted that the appeal of Benton's book was its handmade, tactile quality; I tjust sort of thought it was cool. There was a book by a young cartoonist named Keren Katz that people talked about -- she was giddily happy after the show and that book looked like the future. The Boulet sold out. A lot of things sold out.

* I saw at least three editors explicitly talent-scouting for future editions of the publications they ran.

* the Lucy Knisley line at one of her First Second signings I saw was very long. I have to imagine that book of hers will do well. Gina Gagliano said they actually field-tested the recipes in Relish, which sounds like the best editorial task ever, but I couldn't tell if she was kidding me or not.

* I forgot to ask Calista Brill about her recent trip to India, but it was nice to see her too, if only briefly. She was actively dissuading young cartoonists from continuing on in the field and I am very much kidding.

* one subject that kept recurring in conversation over the weekend were all the comics schools, usually sponsored by running into some students or some sort of prominent alumni. I believe some of the schools were set up at the show. At this point, I see the schools as more of a hardcore social organizing
mechanism than I'm discerning any difference in the art being made.

* no one took me up on my offers to help box up after the show; of course, I didn't ask anyone that looked like they might have actual work for me to do. I walked up the street and did some on-line work at a coffee shop. It was fun to enter back into New York and become crushingly, immediately, and beyond-all-doubt anonymous and small and forgotten and unimportant. I would imagine it's the unique New York challenge when it comes to building a comics community, the idea that little that matters in comics is likely to matter to anyone else.

* there were the usual awesome small comics-moments galore. I got speak to peers I enjoy like Joseph Hughes and Jonathan Gray. I got to talk at greater length to cartoonists I only knew in passing, like Katie Skelly. I saw Gene Kannenberg walking up the aisle, who was one of the rocks when I edited The Comics Journal. He's now in Albany, New York. You could publish a really solid comics magazine from industry writers on the floor of that show. I talked to Michael DeForge about his conversations with Gilbert Hernandez at last year's SPX. Meredith Gran gave me her appraisal of the show entire, which I don't remember now because I'm old. I saw Charles Burns walking table to table with Gary Leib. One prominent cartoonist expressed the opinion to a friend of mine that Burns' new series of books is going to be better than Black Hole by its conclusion. I think it's very good, and relatively under-discussed.

* I wasn't aware comics-focused agent Judith Hanson suffered a stroke in 2009, mostly because I would never have guessed that of the energetic, forceful woman to whom I spoke at the show.

* it sounds like 2009 through 2011 was a vast, apocalyptic landscape for comics folks' general health. Anyway, she was a on a panel -- which is rare for her these days -- and doled out practical advice bomb after practical advice bomb.

* the folks at Fantagraphics said they did well with Ulli Lust book, and the new edition of 7 Miles A Second.

* AdHouse sold out of their Boulet book. People were generally excited to meet Boulet. He's around at a bunch of different shows this Spring.

* as mentioned earlier, D+Q seemed to get rid of everything they had on hand, although, as was the case with SPX 2012, I'm not exactly sure what they had on hand.

* people were nice to me. As you get older, you learn to appreciate this. Here's a sign-of-the-times observation: more people complimented the CR twitter feed than complimented CR as a web site. "I enjoy you on Twitter" as opposed to "I enjoy the site." First time that's happened. Maybe "CR" is becoming a brand. Gross.

* I went to the afterparty at a nearby bar, hosted by The Beat and comiXology. I got to speak briefly to Heidi and to Chip Mosher, two people to whom I rarely speak at such events, if only in passing.

* Ellen Abramowitz was there, another person who had come out the other side of some recent health issues. I was happy to see her. I hadn't talked to her in quite some time, and I'm not sure we'd ever met. The MoCCA Festival and MoCCA's presence at SOI is her legacy in comics as much as it develops here away from her time more actively in charge. I didn't understand everything she said to me, but at one point she said she underlined that maybe I would look back on the original MoCCA's work more positively, that she and the others working with that organization weren't bad people. I never thought so. Let's talk about that, though. The old MoCCA group had what seems to me a lousy reputation with a lot of people, and I think there were a lot of bridges to be rebuilt. There probably still are. I'm sure others have sunnier memories. I don't think anyone broods over it, though, and the willingness of people to reinvest in the show as currently constituted is proof that no one in comics holds a grudge for very long when there's no longer a reason to hold that grudge.

* but that's the tough thing in comics, isn't it? We all want to be involved, but maybe we don't get to be remembered or regarded in a way that matches that initial desire and impulse to give back. It's tough. Someone made a joke is complimenting Chris Ware that, "Suddenly, we're all Salieri." That's a little strong, but more of us are going to be forgotten than remembered, that's for sure. What we do in comics has to be worth more than what it returns to us in self-validation. At the same time, we could probably also be kinder about the degree and forcefulness with which we criticize. Yeah. Tough.

* the SelfMadeHero group was a generally attractive group holding court. I found myself at a table with Nick Abadzis, Darryl Cunningham and others. I could listen to Abadzis talk for hours, and Cunningham has beautifully expressive hands. It was so great to see Cunningham, one of the great comics stories of the Internet era.

* Nick Abadzis explained to me that Guinness is the perfect post-convention beverage because the non-aggressive alcohol-content is less challenging than something at a more deadly level. Always happen to learn about booze from the people that know it best: cartoonists.

* while at the Sunday night party I asked if anyone had heard of any cartoonists fights and I immediately regretted the next 20 minutes of stories about domestic violence and people bleeding so much pillows stuck to their face. Thankfully, this covered about only two or three violent incidents. I will never ask this question out loud again.

* at three different points during the weekend I heard people talk about secret on-line methods of communication employed by various camps of cartoonists. That's kind of scary.

* so MoCCA was good. I had a great time. More than it just being a solid show, MoCCA is "back" in the way that show seems to have enough foundational ballast to be the New York spring show moving forward. If it wants to be. New York can host a lot of shows, but I think if someone wanted to do an arts show for the Spring as an alternative to MoCCA they would have had to have had something going this year.

* I would also point out that so much depends on what the Society Of Illustrators wants to do next, and how the show and its final numbers and its potential fits into their plans. To be sure, the opportunities seem to be there for them to settle in for a good long time, but they are likely to have way different standards than people that run a show that's either crassly bottom-line or done solely for the love of the form.

* postscript: every single festival board member I saw and all of the SOI staffers asked me to send in ideas to improve the show. Like I said: that's a very different thing for comics. Anyone that had complaints or observation might do well putting them into a letter and sending them to Anelle Miller.

* I hung out with the CBLDF's Charles Brownstein that Sunday night, who in the time I've known him gone from precocious magazine to foundational comics industry presence. That is a guy wholly invested in the industry and medium. He's great company. I wish he could write more, because he's a good writer about comics, but we're lucky to have him where he is.

* I spent Monday morning in the company of Jen Vaughn visiting Karen Green at Columbia University, first taking a look at the stacks where books in their collection can be checked out, then in the rare books room with boxes of original materials and old collectibles that can't be. We were met briefly by Connie Sun, and getting to see a young New York cartoonist like that was a nice bookend to the New York portion of the trip. That's NYC's comics future, right there.

* Green is a tiny dynamo of a woman that walks 3X faster than I do and seemed to have the magic power to know which elevator door will open given multiples from which to choose. Her office wouldn't look out of place in the middle of the Fantagraphics art department, and the bags next to her desk contained the raw materials Jerry Robinson used to put together his book on comics.

* the holdings are pretty amazing. A couple of things of interest to me. They keep a lot of material in the stacks to check out, and the items are widely circulated. That's not always the case with comics holdings. Also, Green seems to me to have been given a significant amount of leeway in curating the collection, which means, wonderfully, she's allowed to pursue various interests and lines of inquiry as long as they make sense for what they're trying to build there. So the collection is kind of cool and quirky, not just big.

* I had fun looking at a bunch of Chris Claremont written material. Columbia's primary purview is New York comics-making, which I think will take them in some extremely interesting areas. I should remember but do not the name of the woman that brought us material from the stacks.

* I would like 10 percent of whatever Green decides to do next and hope to God that nothing she wants puts me in her way.

* one additional travel note: I rode the M60 bus from Columbia to LaGuardia and it was just swell. I'd never taken it before, although I was aware of its existence and have actually recommended it on this site as a way to get into Manhattan from LGA. It's just a city bus that has LaGuardia on its route, so you have to manage your own luggage, but if you're looking to save a few extra bucks, there you go.

* ran into the Koyama Sisters at the airport. That's honestly never happened to me before. Annie said Koyama Press had a great show, but there wasn't enough time to press her for details.

* I think MoCCA did what it needed to do, and a bit more besides. Its primary goal as I saw it was to instill in the comics community a certain level of confidence in the Society Of Illustrators as the people running the show. I think that was accomplished. I also think they didn't lose any of the attendance momentum they might have in skipping a year, and I think the show was an effective, pleasant experience that was successful in a business sense for many of the exhibitors. Its other major goal was to give SOI an idea of what running a show was like, and I think we will learn what they thought by what they do with it next.

* it's up to the Society, really.

* the next weekend I went to Columbus for SPACE, the long-running independent and small-press comics show organized by Bob Corby.

* I really think highly of Columbus as a potential comics community, with the caveat that it's a comics community already. It has a first-rank star cartoonist in Jeff Smith. It has the Billy Ireland library and the talented people that work there. It has a number of other, local cartoonists. It is the thriving city in its region, which means it will continue to draw young people from places Cincinnati and Cleveland. It has the \ in addition to Ohio State. It has Laughing Ogre, one of the long-running comics retail know-them-by-name players. Most importantly, perhaps, it's dirt freaking cheap to live there -- the house-buying opportunities are so tremendous even comics can dream of ownership -- and it's right in the center of the eastern half of the United States. You can drive to every show not hugging the West Coast in less than a day. In Columbus I bought a beer for $1.60 -- and I had just missed Happy Hour.

* so I like Columbus.

* SPACE is one of Columbus' comics shows, along with the festival that Billy Ireland runs every third year and the local mainstream show that sold itself to Wizard.

* in my dream landscape for North American comics shows -- and we're almost there -- there is San Diego, with two mainstream, national-import shows flanking it in the Spring and in the Fall. There are three to five regional conventions that are run well enough to attract everyone in the area and an undercurrent of national visitors, perhaps intermittently. These are shows of special charm and affection, particularly for old-time comics fans who desire a slower, comics-focused experience. There are a few comics festivals of ambition, great, thriving places where the art form and the creators come first. There are a few, odd specialty shows, with a specific focus or a stunt aspect: single-creator cons, cons focused on kids books. Finally, there are dozens of local shows, some perhaps bordering on regional.

* I think SPACE is one of those local-to-regional shows, albeit one that the national small press community looks in on with some interest, for its awards and history and a chance to visit the Columbus area.

* that's in no way an insult. I think what Bob Corby does with SPACE, particularly for the local comics community, is art-hero heroic. I think more people should stop and appreciate the kind of thankless effort involved. A well-executed, smaller show can be just as meaningful as any other show out there, depending where it hits its exhibitors and attendees in a way they need or seek. I really believe that. We love binaries in comics: good/evil, rich/broke, fair/unfair, big/small, but most things don't function that way.

* I had a really good time.

* I came in on Thursday and went to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, reacquainted myself with Caitlin McGurk and Jenny Robb, and finally met Lucy Shelton Caswell, which was a huge thrill for me. I could not be happier that the Library is moving to a new, glorious location for the simple fact that it reflects on her professional lifetime of work on comics behalf. What a fighter for the art form Caswell has been. She is both friendly and formidable.

* my next comics-related function was the next day: meeting with Jeff Smith and getting a brief tour of Cartoon Books. I met the company's main on-line focused person, asked after some of the oddities on the wall, like a giant poster from a period of time they were seeking to animate the property themselves and were seeking some outside financing, and took a peek at a few attractive RASL pages. It's a sharp-looking place, professional and efficient, much like the company it houses. They are fully in RASL mode.

* Smith is one of my favorite people in comics. I don't think he'd mind if I shared that he's excited about moving into web serialization with the next project, Tuki Save The Humans, which looks fun -- I only saw an image or two. Jeff also strikes me the way a lot of people of his comics generation hit me these days: as someone looking for that third act, a way to continue making work that's meaningful but also function within the wider artistic communities that increasingly look to him for guidance and leadership.

* we ate pizza and told stories about other 1990s self-publishers: some happy, and some rueful.

* the Billy Ireland Library had a small reception in honor of SPACE that was well-attended and I guess would be one of the last events in their current space. They had art out and people were allowed to go back into the stacks in small groups under supervision. There was an astonishing-looking Hal Foster page, and Ed Piskor -- very recently in-residence at the Thurber House -- held forth on the Chester Gould.

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* I saw Tom Hart and Leela Corman and, of all people, Bruce Chrislip. Bruce Chrislip! My understanding is that Bruce Chrislip -- a native of Youngstown, Ohio -- was the first cartoonist to move to Seattle back in the early 1980s. He was there when Peter Bagge arrived. He was around at many of the same parties Tom Hart and I attended in the dead-middle 1990s, and was the cover boy for Bagge's infamous I Like Comics fanzine. When we used to see Chrislip walking around Ballard, we'd yell out that he was the I Like Comics guy. He lives in Cincinnati now, and visits Columbus frequently for events like this one. I freaked out some Seattle people by texting his picture their way. Chrislip is working on a history of mini-comics.

* Caitlin McGurk was familiar with I Like Comics as soon as I mentioned it. This is a publication that came out when she was seven years old. God bless specialty librarians.

* Carol Tyler was also up from Cincinnati with several of her students. She is one of our great cartoonists and I've enjoyed every time I see her. She's had a tumultuous last few years.

* a highlight for me is I got to meet Caitlin Naber, one of the volunteers working at cataloging the Dylan Williams collection. I'm really happy that collection exists and if I can ever answer any questions about donating,

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* there was a backroom party at Laughing Ogre. This was literally a back room: it looked like a place some Hollywood actress in an independent film trolling for an Oscar nomination would have sex with an apron-wearing Billy Bob Thornton. Free beer, though. And sandwiches! I talked with several people, including Matt Dembicki, who declared his love for the show. Jeff Smith arrived. I met one of the The Outhouse guys, Christian Hoffer, their Editor-In-Chief. He was super-nice. Apparently, I'm kind of a dick on Twitter. Sorry, everybody. Talked to James Moore. Began a conversation with Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics that we continued the next day. Also met Gib Bickel, who still works at the store. Everyone was super-nice. At one point I lamented the loss of magic shops and someone pointed out to me the next day that there was a magic shop within a half-mile of the convention.

* had a late drink. It was so cheap I picked up a couple of the other bills so as to be able to run a credit card charge that wasn't ludicrous. Columbus!

* JT Dockery let drop he once interviewed Hubert Selby Jr., I think to make me hate him. I enjoyed hanging out a bit with Dockery. We have a mutual pal in legendary writer-about-comics Bob Levin. Dockery's presence reminded me of an element of 1990s comics culture that doesn't seem around so much today, this continuity with other elements of alternative or slight-out-of-touch culture: grindhouse cinema, authors like Charles Willeford, music raw and locally made. You don't see that so much now as you used to, and I'm not sure why that is.

* the Ramada where SPACE was held wasn't the best hotel where I'd ever attended a con. My room at the hotel was big but musty, the elevators acted like recalcitrant interns, and the bar didn't open until late in the afternoon, literally three hours each day after my first desire for a drink. There was standing water in the stairways, and, this is probably more mean than a useful observation, roughly two-thirds of the guests looked like Travis Tritt. Nice staff, though, and I liked the size and shape of the basement room in which the con itself was held. It reminded me a bit of going to my local university's student center for conventions in the 1980s, gaming and comics, men sitting behind tables.

* so the hotel is what it is, but I get it: the tables cost $65, that's what folks there can afford to exhibit, and you're not going to easily find a facility where that can be done in a town as aggressively convention-utilized as Columbus.

* I caught up with some of the people I know from other shows, and those whose work with whom I'm familiar. There was a small Denver contingent there, minus Noah Van Sciver, who was off lecturing or something. A number of Pittsburgh's cartoonists made the trip. Derf Backderf had startling-looking originals, and talked about his France trip, a potential move ahead and what Abrams is hot for him to do next. He's going back to France next year, for Angouleme at least. Talking to My Friend Dahmer's French-language publisher at MoCCA, he told me that one thing that was intriguing about the positive reaction for Derf's book is that they didn't know of Jeffrey Dahmer, so they were just kind of reacting to the cartooning.

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* on Sunday, Derf left and Matt Feazell took his place. Not bad. Feazell had new comics.

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* Joseph Remnant was there, next to Hart and Corman's SAW table. John Porcellino was the other side of Remnant. John P. looked healthier than I'd ever seen him, clean-shaven and beaming in glasses from underneath the Chicago Bears cap. He seemed well. We're working on something for the Dylan Williams collection. We talked about how easy it is to let a potentially profitable convention weekend slip into the red. We also talked about the Bears in free agency, of course.

* Spit And A Half remains a treasure. John described Keiler Roberts as a particular favorite right now.

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* Nate Powell drove over from Bloomington. Powell may be the living embodiment of comics/music crossover DIY-ism. Several of the other cartoonists in attendance talked about how fun it was to hang out with Powell, as it was a small enough show that they got to do that and hadn't at any other cons. I spoke a couple of times to Katherine Wirick, Powell's booth-neighbor, and even met her mother. The show was like that. I got to meet Steve Hamaker.

* I heard different things about the actual table performance -- a wide, wide variance of things.

* the mood, though, was mostly positive, pleasant, upbeat. None of that apocalyptic, scorched-earth feeling I got when I used to attend shows like this in the 1990s.

* I watched a couple of panels, but only fell asleep during one. They were lightly attended, mostly. They were small enough that three of the panelists noted I had fallen asleep. I had never seen the basic Billy Ireland presentation that Caitlin McGurk gives, and that was fun. I did not fall asleep during that one. That slideshow offered up more photos of Bill Blackbeard's comics-stuffed home than I'd seen. I still couldn't be happier Blackbeard got in the Eisner Hall Of Fame, mostly because he's beyond a place where we can give him a heck of a lot more than that and I want to give him everything I can. My life is better and certainly wholly different for his work.

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* for dinner Saturday I had Vietnamese with many of the people listed above, at a place Carol Tyler found. The entire meal for eight people cost about as much as a lunch I had with one other person in New York.

* there was an after-party on Saturday night, the convention's halfway point in every way except mentally. I found the puppet show based on Eamon Espey's comics delightful and bizarre -- I have absolutely no sophistication when it comes to processing puppets, I just clap and grin like a simpleton. You should see that one if it comes to town. Leela Corman sang with a friend while Tom Hart sat in the audience with a giant grin on his face. That was nice. I think Leela might have planned to dance, but she was very pregnant. It was great to hang out with Corman; I don't think I'd spent five minutes with her before that weekend, although I know we met. She's very passionate about the way artists are treated. JT Dockery sang a song with dirty parts in it and we were suddenly concerned for the guy that brought his Mom. I worked the door for a while. One of my favorite cartoonists bought me a beer. It was a fine evening.

* there was an after-the-afterparty at someone's home that involved Everclear -- which I thought was a fictional form of alcohol that only appeared in pre-1992 movies starring James Spader -- and open flame. I clapped Gabby Schulz on the shoulder on my way out. It was surprisingly easy to find street parking given that it's a college town.

* I slipped out Sunday late afternoon happier for the experience.

* Columbus: it's the future.

* there was a lot more, much of it personal and meaningful, but this is already way longer than it has any right to be. It's a good thing I know the editor.

* it's great to have so many worthwhile comics shows.

* onto TCAF.

*****

all photos by me; New York cartooning art at top and bottom by Will Eisner and Denys Wortman

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*****
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Go, Look: War Gods Of The Deep

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* this weekend is Stumptown, one of the solid veterans of the indy-comics show and mostly-local show scenes. I hope to see you in that great comics city of Portland. Here is the latest exhibitor list. I'm looking forward to a Milo George-led Dylan Williams panel on Saturday early evening and experiencing Portland as a comics town directly and generally. I will update on multiple days. It should be an interesting show, and it is their anniversary, with limited-edition prints and everything, so congratulations.

* for mainstream comics book fans in particular, and comics fans of the Midwestern variety generally, it's C2E2 weekend. That Reed event is also an interesting show. It's very quiet, in a sense, but you know how you can plant tomatoes in just about any square of dirt in the Midwest and grow these massive, lovely, great-tasting things? I think that's also sort of true of conventions in Chicago. I think people are coming around to attending the show, and as long as that remains the case the show will do very well. Also, as a just-off-major show the bar con is likely to be fantastic and gossipy, and not just because they somehow shoehorn exclusive beers into that place. But please, comics people, get out of the Hyatt and go eat somewhere nice. Chicago is the best eating town in America $10 to $500.

* the Lakes International Comic Art Festival continues to add to its already-impressive guest list.

* Baltimore Comic-Con put its tickets on sale. They do some of those VIP-style tickets that I don't all the way understand, so there might be some extra reading involved. That is a very well-liked comics-centric, mostly mainstream comic books show that people talk about in the same sentences as Emerald City and Heroes. I've never been. Baltimore is great, though.

* it's a couple of weeks after the fact, but this is a fine photo set from this year's MoCCA Festival.

* speaking of MoCCA, there's now an opening date for the show displaying the winners: May 21, with a reception on May 22.

* finally, here's footage of the SPACE awards program from that Columbus show's 2013 edition, several days ago now.


 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go, Look: The Titular Hero

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* love for key 'zines and comics retailer Reading Frenzy at the Drawn and Quarterly blog.

image* Rob Clough reviews a pair of Toon Books and Chewing Gum In Church. Todd Klein on Green Lantern Corps #18. Grant Goggans on The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Secret Six: The Darkest House.

* Quill & Quire profiles Canadian-based Eisner Award nominees.

* not comics: Adrian Tomine illustrates Terrence Malick. As a bonus, here's another spotlight on Tomine's workspace.

* all about Georges Clooney.

* Martin Pasko writes on the Jerry Siegel/Joe Shuster character Superman, now 75 years into its publishing history.

* I've linked to some individual pieces by this year's Eisner Awards judges but not, I think, the Comic-Con published piece from the group.

* Jen Vaughn talks to Steven Weissman. Casey Gilly talks to Lucy Knisley. Steve Morris talks to Emma Vieceli.

* Laura Sneddon writes here on the latest incarnation of the Wonder Woman comic as a Wonder Woman comic. I am also a fan of early Etta Candy.

* finally, Matthew Jent writes a fun essay about how American Elf triggered a move to Vermont. "Major life decisions that came down to something in a comic" is a category that would make a pretty good Five For Friday, although maybe finding five such decisions would be pushing it.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Milo George!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Albert Uderzo!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Peter Sanderson!

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April 24, 2013


Go, Look: Handpainted Gilbert Shelton

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Go, Look: Maurice Vellekoop, Chester Brown Draw 2013 Doug Wright Awards Host Scott Thompson

From here. That's Vellekoop on top; Brown on bottom. The DWAs are held the Saturday evening of the forthcoming TCAF.

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CR Newsmaker Interview: Christopher Butcher

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*****

If all goes well, CR is going to run a bunch of convention-related material over the next few days, including a long-delayed MoCCA/SPACE report and daily updates from the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland.

I'm kicking off this mini-burst of coverage by featuring an interview with Christopher Butcher, the driving force behind the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. TCAF is one of the two or three must-do events on the North American convention calendar and arguably the most influential show of the previous decade. I know people that only goes to TCAF. This year's iteration goes off two weekends from Saturday, with satellite events scattered on the calendar in the ramp-up. I hope to be on hand. I wanted to ask Butcher about TCAF's development as an institution to try and gauge where shows of this type are more generally. I'm grateful for his time. He's been sick. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Chris, we're rounding in on TCAF; can you snapshot what it is you're doing for the show right now, like one day's worth of tasks and assignments, just to give us an idea of what's on your plate?

CHRISTOPHER BUTCHER: I've been sick for the last week, so things for the next two weeks are a little more compressed than normal. On the schedule for Monday, I've got to finish the ads that will run with our media sponsor NOW Magazine Toronto, and get the floorplan for the Taiyo Matsumoto art exhibition back to The Japan Foundation for approval. Speaking of, I've got to finish going over the souvenir booklet for that event, too.

That'd be a full day usually, but I've gotta power through that and prep our media PR going out Tuesday, and to do that I've got to finalize all of the programming (which is in a good position, it's just committing it to paper and a schedule.

Plus an exhibitor email has to go out, a general TCAF e-mail has to go out, and I'll probably have some Beguiling and UDON stuff that's too time-sensitive to ignore.

Actually listing this all out is making me want to stay in bed tomorrow, now that I see it in front of me.

SPURGEON: This year's slate seems tremendously ambitious, more thoroughly conceived up and down the guest list than some of the top-heavy shows of recent past. Is that a fair assessment? Are you able to do more work securing a complete array of guests now that you've been doing this show for a while?

BUTCHER: Yes, definitely, this show is working on a number of levels that it never has before.

A big part of it is both the regularity and the longevity, doing the show every year, and doing the show for 10 years, means that we've got better relationships with publishers, with partner and sponsor organizations, and with our staff. Publishers and Arts organizations trust that TCAF will be a great place to promote their authors, work, and culture, because of our record, and so they come on board with support earlier, and so rather than 15 rounds of back-and-forth ending in sadness, usually a phone call or e-mail is netting a confirmation now. It's a hell of a lot better.

For example, if we didn't have such a strong relationship with The Japan Foundation in Toronto, and with VIZ Media, and with Shogakukan, stretching back 5-10 years, it would have been impossible to mount The World of Taiyo Matsumoto gallery show. Bringing Matsumoto-sensei to Toronto was first floated for the 2007 show, and it's taken us that long to build up a significant relationship with all parties, including Matsumoto-sensei (who is both incredibly busy and very in-demand), to make it a reality. But yeah, now we get an awesome original manga art show, incredibly rare even in Japan let alone here.

As for doing more work, I'd say we probably are. TCAF has become a part of every aspect of my life, traveling to Japan and San Diego, traveling for UDON to Seattle and Boston, all of it contributes to building a stronger TCAF. I'd say all of us are working on TCAF more, and also year-round, although it's no one's full-time job at the moment.

SPURGEON: Is there any regret in going to every-year-a-show status a few years ago? What was the biggest worry going into that shift?

BUTCHER: The biggest worry was honestly how much it would take out of me, because I was pretty-much the main source of energy behind the show. I'm still doing more work than I was in 2009, but we've also got a great executive staff, particularly including Miles Baker, Gina Gagliano, Krystle Tabujara, Andrew Townsend, and my husband Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, that have taken on huge roles within the organization that are absolutely essential to it happening. And of course, the Beguiling's commitment has gotten larger, probably despite owner Peter Birkemoe's best wishes, just because a larger store/commercial backbone is required.

imageSPURGEON: How far along are you in terms of TCAF's institutional development? How close is the show to being the show you want to have two, five, ten years moving forward. What's the biggest difference in a show ten years from now, do you think, if everything works out between now and then?

BUTCHER: Actually, I think we hit the show I wanted in 2012. I thought that show was a really great execution of the kind of event that we patterned it after, that is best evidenced in North America by BCGF, SPX, MoCCA, and Stumptown (among others). The comics-as-art showcase, I think we did a great job there, engaged about as many people as possible given our set-up and mandate. I think that's still an important show model, and one we support and encourage.

I just I think we're onto some next-level shit, now.

TCAF 2013 is kind of like mine and Peter's wishlist, way back in the day, come to life. It's a little ridiculous. The "We won the lottery, what kind of comics show would we throw" dream... except neither one of us has won any sort of lottery, believe me. We have the first ever North American art show for Taiyo Matsumoto, and one of the largest and one of the only exhibitions of original manga art in North America. We're doing four institutional gallery shows of varying sizes, we've got governmental support from at least 10 countries, authors from 20. Art Spiegelman is flying up to debut his new career retrospective, Francoise Mouly is giving three days of presentations on subjects near and dear to her heart. I mean, even to me, it doesn't really seem real sometimes.

The biggest difference between now and ten years from now, is that this is kinda/sorta/almost still in that sphere of BCGF, SPX, MoCCA, Stumptown, and etc., but 10 years from now that exhibition will, I think, only be one small part of a much bigger series of events that celebrate the medium. I don't think Toronto is set up to play host to a large-scale event in the way Angouleme is, we'll probably never be that. But I think we'll be a lot closer to the Angouleme idea than to the current arts-comic show model, next decade. I think we've taken important steps in that direction this year.

Or, you know, not.

SPURGEON: I could be wrong about this, but it seems you have a lot of international guests this year. Do those require more support? Is there a distinct advantage to bringing in a David B. or a Gengoroh Tagame that you wouldn't get with otherwise, an audience to which they might appeal, for instance?

BUTCHER: High profile guests definitely require more support financially, the expense is much greater than bringing guests from the U.S. Though the state of travel being what it is, it's only $100 more expensive to fly from Paris to Toronto than to fly from certain parts of California... We've been fortunate in that most of our international guests are easy going and happy to be in Toronto, and I don't think they require much additional hand-holding beyond addressing the language barrier (when it exists).

I think the use of the word "advantage" there is really interesting. Let me unpack that a little.

It is of tremendous advantage to the publishers of David B. and Gengoroh Tagame for them to be present to support the launch of their book. The basic bookselling things -- an author on hand helps move books -- play out at shows, for sure. But there's also the media to consider -- it's easier to get a story landed if the author is there with the book to give it a human angle. And TCAF does whatever it can to support major authors attending with new books, including financial support, sure, but we also really beat the drum by having a 'debuting books' section on our site, by promoting debuts and authors through social media like Facebook, Twitter, and our new Tumblr, by maintaining those lists to get potential customers excited. As a publisher and author, the financial benefits are there.

The creative benefits are there too -- David B. and Gengoroh Tagame, or Rutu Modan and Ulli Lust, or whomever you want to mention, these are singular creative voices within the comics medium. Just bringing them to Toronto, to interact with 400 other cartoonists, thousands of members of the general public, the benefits of sharing their experience and vision directly, and indirectly through the promotion of their work, is of tremendous creative benefit.

For TCAF, I think there is a distinct advantage to bringing international creators to Toronto, but it's different than I feel people expect. Most shows, because they're charging admission, are concerned with getting people through the doors in order to fund the show (and, theoretically, more shows). But for us, our mandate is basically to celebrate Canadian graphic novelists, and we do that by creating a space where the authors can make money and engage the public, create opportunities for them for the future. Attracting international talent, and international attention, feeds into the recognition of Canadian cartoonists, draws parallels artistically between the creation of comics around the world. The advantage of bringing over Japanese, French, Israeli, or Austrian-by-way-of-Berlin cartoonists is that we get to fulfil our mandate, and increase the appreciation of comics across our city and country.

SPURGEON: What is something TCAF has, some element or feel, that's Canadian in a way that other shows can't quite emulate it?

BUTCHER: Well I was going to say we're humble, but this interview is kind of blowing that.

I dunno. Canadians always get tripped up when they try to discuss what's Canadian about themselves or their arts. The default response, and I apologize if this seems petulant, is that Canadians made it.

From what my American friends tell me, the fact that we've built such a strong relationship with Toronto Public Library, is a very Canadian thing. We're proud of that relationship, but I don't know if I buy its "Canadianess" though. I've had a lot of conversations about how to get NYPL on board for a similar event. I could see it happening I guess...

I guess institutionally we have a few advantages, arts funding and the like, but TCAF operated without any government funds from 2007 through 2012, and we've just received some support this year for the first time. If we were able to truly integrate our festival into the cultural fabric of the country, there might be more governmental financial support available, but that would be TCAF-future, not TCAF-now.

For now, I'd probably say that the thing that sets us apart is our strong volunteer base -- more than 200 people signed up to volunteer this year, more than we might actually be allowed to use. There's a lot to be said for Canadians willing to pitch in and lend a hand, and we're greatly appreciative of all of the support we've gotten. We couldn't do it if we didn't get this level of volunteer support, and that's something that can be said of other prominent Toronto events like The Toronto International Film Festival, or HotDocs.

Toronto, and its citizens and graphic novel fans have really supported us, and they are awesome for it.

imageSPURGEON: Has the explosion of shows that have come along since TCAF started, and the reinvigoration of established shows, changed the context of what you do at all? For instance, with more shows on the slate, more options, do people want to be paid, or are they just harder to get?

BUTCHER: I think I answered that up top, to a degree, but specifically with "getting" guests... It's not something that we're worried about not happening, but it's something that we're happy about when it does happen. Does that make sense?

We work for months and sometimes years to make guest visits to TCAF a reality, publishers work to time releases specifically to coincide with TCAF and to bring creators on board, we're very cognizant of the work involved and we're grateful to the folks that work with us. But at the same time, there are guests that we've invited every year for four years now, that can't make room in their schedule or simply don't want to travel. Guests that don't like to fly, that don't have book releases coinciding with the show, that don't or can't get institutional support. Or people would rather go to New York or San Diego, because hey, those coasts are pretty awesome. It happens, and at that point it's out of our hands, so we don't dwell. All we can do is make the best possible case for TCAF and for Toronto, and every year our case gets stronger.

SPURGEON: Can you give a specific example of one way you partner with the city of Toronto? What do city official think of the show, or does it even register?

BUTCHER: Well probably the biggest specific example is our partnership with Toronto Public Library, which is a city institution.

For another example, this year TCAF received a community funding grant from Toronto Arts Council, the section of Toronto government responsible for supporting the arts. This was in recognition of what we bring to the table, for the arts, in Toronto. We'll use that to fund various aspects of the show, and to give back to some of the artists that we work with. We haven't applied for this funding since 2004, but we were happy to get it. It's less than 10% of our overall budget though?

As for what City officials think of the show, we know they're aware of us, and we've received positive and complimentary feedback from individual city councillors and people working with the city, and that's great.

SPURGEON: Is there a strategy you employ when putting together an exhibitors list? How many people that apply get in? Is there an element you'd like to add in future years?

BUTCHER: Our strategy isn't entirely public because we don't want people to try to game the system. I will say that it's really down to the quality of all aspects of the application. We privilege exhibitors who work on comics rather than in related media, and who have physical comics to sell. Essentially, the exhibition space at TCAF, at Toronto Reference Library, is a marketplace for the sale of comics and graphic novels. The other stuff, like prints or goods or shirts, is all secondary. So if an exhibitor only has digital comics and their physical work is shirts or prints, TCAF isn't a good fit for them. TCAF is about comics. Beyond that commercial concern, we look to see if the work is any good, is saying anything. There are three of us going through applications now, all with very diverse tastes.

We also bring in guest curators for separate areas as part of TCAF. We have a small press area which is administrated by The Wowee Zonk collective, Patrick Kyle, Ginette LaPalme, and Chris Kuzma. They're really well-connected within the 'zine scene, and they curate an amazing collection of creators in their area. Theirs was the favorite area of Pen (Adventure Time) Ward's at TCAF last year. We're also working with Miguel Sternberg and the folks at Bento Miso, a video game and design-oriented co-working space in Toronto, to accommodate a brand new, off-site exhibition area. It'll be filled with creators who are working in digital narrative and experimental games... it's called the Bit Bazaar and it's going to be down on Queen Street, and it'll be really exciting stuff.

As for the applications themselves, about 1/3 of the applicants get an exhibition space, and about ½ of the applicants end up participating in the festival in some way, like programming or through some of our off-site and outreach events.

I can't see things changing too much in the next couple of years. I think we've got a set-up that most people are happy with, or can at least agree is as fair as we can make it.

SPURGEON: What don't people know about your job, Chris?

BUTCHER: No one wants to know how the sausage is made, Tom.

SPURGEON: I'm intrigued by the fact that you've been doing this for a while now. Where does putting on a show like this fit into your general life plans? Is this something you'll continue to do for a while?

BUTCHER: Yes I'll be doing this for the foreseeable future, though I have no idea how it fits into my life plans. TCAF has been a wonderful experience for me personally, and it's positively affected thousands of people. I won't be giving that up any time soon. But my current schedule is probably unsustainable... a number of people have told me that the closer I get to 40, the harder this is all going to get, and I can feel it already. Oh, getting old, it sucks.

TCAF is here to stay, and I'm going to do my best to remain a part of it.

SPURGEON: Is there a dream guest you haven't gotten yet? Has anyone ever turned you down?

BUTCHER: Oh yeah, we get turned down all the time, for lots of reasons. There are creators who were formative to my own understanding of comics as a medium, at different stages of my life, that I would love to have at TCAF... mostly to try and share what is so important to me about their work with the folks attending. We've never had Lynda Barry, Junko Mizuno, or Julie Doucet at TCAF, all for different, very valid reasons and all 3 are cartoonists who we'd love to celebrate at the show. Schedules, their artistic and commercial interests, and the timing of their graphic novel releases just hasn't worked out.

Japan and Europe are almost completely untapped markets, in terms of very important creators who should come to North America. I could rattle off dozens of names, but won't, for fear of who I would forget.

SPURGEON: What's the moment of greatest satisfaction for you in doing this job, Chris? What element, what moment, do you enjoy the most?

BUTCHER: I usually have a better answer to this after the show, this close to the next one, it's all just excitement and stress swirling around me at maximum speed.

Hmm. Probably, on the macro level, it's that TCAF and its success have inspired other shows, and created an alternate distribution system that has made individual works, whole publishers, actually possible. I'm not trying to take credit for that in any way, really, there's so many cooks around that particular pot, but I can see the patch of TCAF in that particular quilt, and it makes me happy to know that we're contributing to putting dollars in artists' pockets, consistently.

The other thing I really like about my TCAF job is that it's really helped mitigate all of the shit I did/said online for years and years before TCAF. I've mellowed a lot in my old age, I'm not quite as consistently angry about the shitty state of the comics industry, and am consequently picking fewer fights and making fewer enemies. The fact that I've given back so much helps mend some of those wounds from when I was picking fights and making enemies, and that lack of stress is nice.

If I ever stop working with TCAF though, it's knives-out.

SPURGEON: What would you have people know that may be sitting on the fence about going or not going to this year's Festival?

BUTCHER: My friend Meredith Gran ran an awesome event called "Webcomics Weekend," and then she followed it up a year later with another one. Even by the second one, both artists/authors and members of the public were discussing the show in an "I don't know if I can make it this year, I'll just have to go to the next one!" sort of a way. A "this will always be here, so I'll get to it when I get to it," type of attitude which, realistically, has gotten all-pervasive since the beginning of the internet age. Well there wasn't a next Webcomics Weekend, and it's been 3 years now. It was an amazing pair of events, ones that I personally not regret getting to attend, and really captured a spirit and zeitgeist that likely can't be repeated. If you missed out, you missed out. I feel like TCAF is like that, every year.

We haven't had Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez in Toronto together for 16 years. There are amazing creators who visit us every year to take part in the Festival that will probably never get to attend again, that never have again. The level of access to our international artists, creators like David B., Blutch, Taiyo Matsumoto, Gengoroh Tagame, Judith Vanistendael, Ulli Lust, Frederik Peeters, Chihoi, Eric Lambe, Rutu Modan -- I can tell you, flat out, we will not be able to do this again. So I think people who are on the fence about attending need to ask themselves the question "Can I afford to miss my only opportunity to meet _____, to hear them talk about their work?" rather than "Can I afford to miss TCAF this year?"

TCAF will probably be around next year, but with nearly 40 percent new/first-time exhibitors every year, exactly what TCAF is will likely be very different next time around.

*****

* TCAF

*****

* photo of Christopher Butcher by Charlie Chu provided by Butcher
* this year's basic show information
* Maurice Vellekoop's ten-year poster
* Taiyo Matsumoto's 2013 TCAF poster
* a header from the on-line presence for the Festival

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Read: The Spoily Brats

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By Request Extra: NZ Store Fighting For Life

I'm not sure I know exactly what's going on, but it looks like a New Zealand retailer is making a last-ditch attempt at surmounting some obstacles in terms of bills and thus staying open, at least in the short term and hopefully for the long term. Here's a Facebook post; here's a bunch of their listings, many of which are closing today; here's their Facebook presence more generally.
 
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Go, Look: Jim Rugg Recommends Early Image Comics

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Pat Bagley Wins Best Of The West Award

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Via Alan Gardner comes word of an editorial cartooning prize in a journalism awards program with which I'm less than familiar: the Best Of The West, which is subtitled journalism contest and grants program. This year's prize, judged by Matt Wuerker, went to Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune. Second place went to David Fitzsimmons, of the Arizona Daily Star, while third went to the syndicated, Portland-based cartoonist Matt Bors. You can go to examples of work from all three cartoonists from the linked-to citation up top.

The Best Of The West is an Arizona non-profit and its journalism contest covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Fifteen entries were received in the editorial cartooning category.
 
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Go, Look: Forbidden Worlds #34

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Magdy L Shafee Freed; Still Faces Charges

The Egyptian cartoonist Magdy L Shafee is out on bail as of about two days ago, via this Facebook posting from a family member. He had been directed to four days of interrogation based on a weekend arrest for protesting in Cairo. Here's a pretty thorough article on the original arrest.

Shafee still faces charges that sound ridiculously broad and randomly applied. He will likely continue to find helpful the attention and support of peers and fans in various locations around the world as this progresses. The World War 3 Illustrated tumblr looks like a go-to place for updates on both Shafee's situation and any events in support.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Odd 1972 Gene Colan Panels

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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.

*****

MAR130991MARBLE SEASON HC $21.95
A potential book of the year, this is Gilbert Hernandez's childhood memoir built from a concentrated dose of on-the-ground experience focusing on one comics-savvy, creative child. Accessible without losing any of Beto's idiosyncrasies; these kids pop when set against the bulk of today's comics kids the way that little Ronny Howard did in the early '60s against the well-scrubbed young people of 1950s TV.

imageDEC121356 OF COMICS & MEN CULTURAL HIST AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS SC $35.00
Jean-Paul Gabilliet rigorous examination of comics, translated and I believe also updated by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen. Bart Beaty is published here whenever he wants to be published here, but I do enjoy his prose academic work quite a bit. If you're in a comics shop, maybe take a look.

DEC121184 DOUBLE FINE ACTION COMICS TP VOL 01 $19.99
DEC121185 DOUBLE FINE ACTION COMICS TP VOL 02 $19.99
A bunch of Scott Campbell. I don't really know that much about these specific collections, but I'm a fan and now I wish I were in a comics shop today to check them out. Maybe later this week.

FEB130032 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #23 (MR) $7.99
That's a staggering number of issues, and I have to imagine that in addition to providing some good comics this is one of those publication that has provided a lot of cartoonists and comics-makers with paying jobs at a time when placement for short work is scarce.

DEC120168 BEFORE WATCHMEN COMEDIAN #6 (MR) $3.99
DEC120170 BEFORE WATCHMEN COMEDIAN #6 COMBO PACK (MR) $4.99
And so it ends.

FEB130014 BPRD VAMPIRE #2 $3.50
FEB130400 A DISTANT SOIL #39 [DIG] $3.50
FEB130449 INVINCIBLE #102 [DIG] $2.99
FEB138467 JUPITERS LEGACY #1 BLANK SKETCH CVR (MR) $2.99
FEB130379 JUPITERS LEGACY #1 CVR A QUITELY (MR) [DIG] $2.99
FEB130380 JUPITERS LEGACY #1 CVR B HITCH (MR) $2.99
FEB130381 JUPITERS LEGACY #1 CVR C JOHNSON (MR) $2.99
FEB130382 JUPITERS LEGACY #1 CVR D NOTO (MR) $2.99
FEB130403 MORNING GLORIES #26 (MR) [DIG] $1.00
These are the standard serialized comic book format comics that jumped out at me from the list this week. Again, it's almost solely pretty easily categorized genre material, as whatever serial alt-comics publishing there is seems to mostly work its way through alternative channels. The Mark Millar/Frank Quitely book -- for which you can get an alternative cover, although unless you're a collector I'm not sure why you wouldn't just want the Quitely -- is a pretty odd-looking comic book from a couple of the superhero genre's best comics-makers of the last 15 years. I could look at those weird figures Quitely draws all day. The Morning Glories comic is a jumping-on point, although I was just as confused by this one as I have been on the 25 previous issues.

FEB130422 INVINCIBLE HC VOL 08 ULTIMATE COLLECTION [DIG] $39.99
JAN130507 MORNING GLORIES TP VOL 04 TRUANTS $14.99
Just a note that Image tends to pair trades in various programs with new issues of the comic book where the material was originally serialized. I don't know if that's intentional, but it strikes me as a pretty good way to do things if it is.

JAN130797 HT FAKE MOON LANDING EXPOSING MYTHS HC $16.95
I didn't see this one until I chose the over images to feature, but this could certainly lead off any week of new comics listings and its presence here helps make this one of the most formidable new comics weeks of the last couple dozen.

FEB131018 JERUSALEM STORY OF CITY GN $24.99
This is another book that could safely carry an entire week, at least from an advance interest standpoint: a long drama from Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi detailing the lives of an extended family in -- I'm working from memory now, but I think this is true -- the early days of the Israeli nation.

JAN131335 PEPITA INOUE MEETS GUADI HC VOL 01 $24.99
And here's yet another potential must-have: a travelogue/art book from Takehito Inoue as he delves into the world of Gaudi. Every noun after "must-have" makes me want to own this book.

FEB130674 MEATHAUS TP #8 HEADGAMES $14.95
FEB130675 PEANUTBUTTER & JEREMY BEST BOOK EVER TP $14.95
I believe these are both repeats, having come out maybe even more than five years ago, more like ten with the Kochalka. Still, I would have to imagine they're something you'd want to look at were you in a story and a fan of either anthologies or James Kochalka's kids' work more generally. I like it when books stay on the stands.

FEB131105 SO LONG SILVER SCREEN HC $22.95
Finally, a big fancy Blutch book. "Blutch" should sell this one on its own, except maybe the fact that almost none of his work is over here makes that kind of a silly statement. Bound to be beautiful.

*****

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 In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were Near Bryn Mawr, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Going-Going-Real Gone!

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Philip Nel on the invention of Barnaby? I like it when TCJ does posts with me in mind.

image* Craig Thompson talks to Blutch. Tim O'Shea talks to Michael May. TJ Dietsch talks to Ed Brubaker.

* for some reason I had this Dorkin & Dyer cartoon bookmarked. It's a good one.

* not comics: I'm glad to see Garry Trudeau get TV opportunities; that one show of his with Pamela Reed was way ahead of its time.

* Dave Lapp sent along a link to this blog post, noting in his e-mail that it takes him about 15 hours to paint a comics page with acrylics.

* everything Kochalka.

* Graeme McMillan charts Superman over the last 75 years.

* Todd Klein looks at the lettering of Gaspar Saladino.

* why do the rich guys get all the superpowers?

* Laura Sneddon on Jupiter's Children #1. Zainab Akhtar on five Eisner nominees you need to see. Rob Clough on Sumo. Sean Gaffney on Kanokon Vols. 1-2. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Archer And Armstrong, Silence & Co. and Teen Boat.

* happy 10th anniversary to Soleil Manga.

* finally, sage advice for one's past self.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Devlin Thompson!

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April 23, 2013


Go, Look: New Vanessa Davis At Tablet

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Go, Watch: Video And Slideshow For Cartoonists Demand Action To End Gun Violence



The main site for the cartoonist-led effort in support of a recent push by a group of mayors to serious curtail gun violence can be found here. Ruben Bolling, who spearheaded the effort, talks about doing so here.

That's an interesting group of cartoonists involved, about as ecumenical a bunch in terms of format and approaches as you're likely to find working together on anything. I also sort of like that this is the first I'm hearing of it, that Bolling decided to go with this group rather than subject the effort to the widest possible campaign to make sure everyone that wanted to be involved at this initial stage got to be involved. That would be a very comics-culture approach, and I believe not as effective as simply roping together a small bunch of talented cartoonists and putting something out there.

Anyway, I'm always uncertain as to why more cartoonists aren't involved politically in this kind of public advocacy way, although I guess alienating audience members can be a concern, particularly for certain models of revenue. That's also always fascinating to me, that people would feel alienated from someone and their work for a political view they don't necessarily share, but that's largely true of the whole of modern American life now.
 
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Go, Look: Ger Apeldoorn's Immense Carmine Infantino Archive

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Go, Participate: Eisner Awards Voting Is Up And Running

imageHere.

Administrator Jackie Estrada's note says this as far as folks eligible to vote. "The following working comics industry professionals are eligible to vote in the Eisner Awards: Comic book/graphic novel/webcomic creators (writers, artists, cartoonists, pencillers, inkers, letterers, colorists); all nominees in any category; comic book/graphic novel publishers and editors; comics historians and educators; graphic novel librarians; owners and managers of comic book specialty retail stores."

Estrada's note says this as far as folks not eligible to vote. "Who is not eligible to vote? Comics press or reviewers (unless they are nominees); non-creative publisher staff members (PR, marketing, assistants, etc.); fans."

So there you go. I hope you'll vote if you're eligible. It's a way to participate in the wider community that is better for your having taken that time.
 
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Go, Look: Little Star In New York

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Group Think: In What Ways Does The Culture Of Comics Have An Impact On How Business Is Done?

The author and consultant Rob Salkowitz sent in the following e-mail after I posted on Steve Bissette's thought on Marvel and DC choosing many of the policies they have that have an impact on creators rights.
"Saw your post this morning on Bissette's thoughts about corporations screwing creators, the choices involved, and the options. FWIW, I think there's a phrase in management-speak that applies here: 'culture eats strategy for breakfast.' Corporations reflect the values (or lack thereof) of their leaders, as filtered down the chain of command. As a business analyst by trade, I find that often the best explanations for aberrant business behavior arise from basic human psychology, not just the twisted logic of capitalism.

image"When I look at the sociology of the early comics biz, especially DC and Timely, I see a very particular cultural dynamic at work: highly ambitious, entrepreneurial owners drawn from the same basic background as the artists (e.g., 1st or 2nd generation Jews from the lower depths of New York), half a generation or so older than their creative talent. Sure it serves their ownership interests for them to keep as much of the rights and profits as they can, but it's more than that. It is psychologically and socially necessary for the owners to create distance between themselves, good upper middle class bourgeoisie and aspiring capitalists, and the sweaty working-class artisans who do their work. I imagine you've read enough 'birth of the Golden Age' stuff to know what I'm talking about.

"Think about how that works in practical behavior terms: Donnenfeld, Liebowitz, Goodman, etc. -- rising ethnic businessmen, trying to legitimate themselves in a marginal industry -- will do anything in their power to avoid being lumped in socially with the Siegel-and-Shuster class (scruffy, nerdy artists -- obviously total 'losers' in the world view of the ownership class), or worse yet, people like Jack Kirby (a kid from the slums, basically). If the owners were WASPs, it wouldn't be as important because outsiders would immediately recognize the social distinction, but since it was all Jews (and a few Italians and other ethnics) from top to bottom, the bosses needed to demonstrate their authority by treating the workers like garbage. That's how they figured the capitalist peer group whose approval they craved would recognize they were 'respectable.'

"As a result, you get a whole business culture defined by keeping the help in their place and not conceding any ownership prerogatives. IMO, all the odious trapping of the comics business: exploitive contracts, asshole editors, lack of benefits/dignity/certainty for freelancers, disposability of staff, arise from this 'familiarity-breeds-contempt' dynamic that characterized the early business. Once big money arrived, it became easier to justify this behavior in terms of greed – an acceptable motivation in corporate capitalism -- rather than simple class insecurity and pettiness. But that's where it comes from.

"Note that Joe Simon, Will Eisner and Bob Kane (or at least his family) are a different matter -- they come from slightly more middle-class origins and have some respectability attached to them, so it is easier, I think, for the bosses to treat them as autonomous creative people. And of course Stan Lee was Goodman's nephew. IMO, it's no coincidence that these are the people who came out of the Golden Age with relatively good business deals. As a class, they didn't pose as much of a threat to ownership's self-image.

"That was all a long time ago, of course, but I think there's ample evidence that this attitude is encoded in the DNA of DC and Marvel, and maybe also of Archie. When you think about the Levitz/Kahn regime at DC -- whatever its faults from other standpoints -- I think you'd have to say it was characterized by a certain humanitarianism toward the creators. IMO, this was born of the fact that Levitz and Kahn both came from middle class Jewish backgrounds where showing the lower-downs who's boss was not as important to the definition of success. But note also that Jack Liebowitz lived to serve on the board of AOL/Time Warner, and Ike Perlmutter certainly strikes me as a current day manifestation of this same temperament. Evidence indicates that the attitude lives on, even as its origins get lost in the mists of time."
What do you think? Is Mr. Salkowitz right about that aspect of comics culture and its impact on business dealings? In what ways might he be wrong? Are there other ways you've noted a connection between the culture that informs comics and the comics business?



*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: World War 3 Illustrated On Tumblr

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SAW Announces Latest Round Of Micro-Grant Recipients

The Sequential Artists Workshop has announced a new round of micro-grant recipients. Receiving money from the educational institution will be Alabaster and Asher Z. Craw, both profiled in full along with their winning projects on the page found through the above link. The group also lists about a dozen other artists from whom they received interesting work.

The micro-grants are just that, small cash prizes given to cartoonists to assist them in completing ongoing work. I think it's a model for how organizations that may not be hugely flush with cash can still give back to the creative community they count on to breathe life into what they do.
 
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Go, Look: A Lovely, Untitled Rina Ayuyang Comic

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* according to isolated yelps around the Internet and the press release they sent out, Koyama Press is going to have a Blobby Boys book out this Fall. The work from Alex Schubert will be 52 pages, full-color, softcover, and go for $10. It should debut in September.

image* Conundrum Press has announced that they'll be debuting a stunning five new comics works at this year's mid-May TCAF, from authors Michel Rabagliati, Chihoi, Philippe Girard, Lorenz Peter and Joe Ollmann. The Ollmann was a book originally ensconced at Drawn And Quarterly subsequently taken to Conundrum by the author.

* I'm very happy for Dean Haspiel to get to work with Mark Waid on one of the Archie superheroes. Dean Haspiel should be constantly employed drawing superheroes as much as he wants to take on that kind of work. I will check that one out.

* here's a call to bring back British girls' comics in a bigger way.

* I have some extra bookmarks that I'm not I've used, so this is not only old news but news that may have already found its way onto the site. Hey, this site deserves its awards nominations with maneuvers like this. Anyway, here's a link about the end of DC's Batman Incorporated title, that series being one of the companyh's creative highlights of recent memory. I think maybe I blacked out rather than processed this one as true, but Dark Horse will do the original Star Wars concept material as its own comic. I would think the creators used would be everything on that. Anyway, as someone that read all of those early-Tolkien drafts when those were published, I can't really blame anyone for getting into that project. Finally, I totally missed word of a new King Features strip, and I don't really know why.

* I am greatly looking forward to this book.

* via widely-disseminated press release comes word that Random House has purchased the graphic novel series Hilo from the writer and cartoonist Judd Winick, with a first book scheduled for 2015.

* finally, via the FPI blog comes word that Egmont will be putting together books of comics based on the properties of Gerry Anderson. I imagine there are a lot of fun comics there.

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Go, Look: Comics At Anarchopussycat

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

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Go, Look: Poor Man's Party

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the talented editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman asks if a cartoonist is a journalist? I had never read the Rube Goldberg line.

image* Zack Smith talks to Farel Dalrymple. Josh Kopin talks to Jason Lutes and Donna Almendrala.

* not comics: you can buy Darryl Cunningham-decorated luggage now.

* now all we need is a real time machine to go back and replenish our collections. (via Danny Ceballos)

* here's a piece on reading comics versus collecting them, the twist being the presence of what digital comics means for both impulses. I'm not really harsh on collecting comics; I think that's a perfectly fine thing to do with your time and money although I'm a terrible collector of everything except inertia. It is weird to pursue collectible monies in a way that harms the reading one, but only because it seems unnecessary.

* check out this great, intimidating photo of that nice man Ivan Brunetti.

* Johanna Draper Carlson on Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. Grant Goggans on The Man With No Libido.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco is very excited about this Mister Mind. That original Mister Mind design is one of the all-time greats, though.

* Todd Klein's favorite Superman memory.

* finally, Steve Willis has posted the text from a key article in the popular movement against comics in the late 1940s.
 
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Happy 71st Birthday, Edmund Baudoin!

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James Smith On Comics And The Culture Of Recapping

You're probably unaware, but the culture of recapping you lament missing from comics exists almost totally on Wikipedia. While I think most online "reviews" are really just synopses of the issue in question, I'll concede you may be thinking of something a little deeper. To that end, I suggest looking up any relatively-known superhero character or series on Wikipedia and marveling at the commitment and sadness of whoever wrote, say, the Hawkgirl entry.

Speaking more generally on that culture, you may find this interesting.
 
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April 22, 2013


Your 2013 Graphic/Novels Category Winner At The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Is Sammy Harkham

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Harkham was competing in the category with Alison Bechdel and Leela Corman
 
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Go, Look: Postcard From Fielder 02

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Belated Congratulations To Steve Sack On His Pulitzer Win

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Looking back with some horror this weekend, I noticed this site's initial post about Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune winning the 2013 Pulitzer in Editorial Cartooning was one of a few that did not scroll out last week due to me not being all that great at my job. I am deeply sorry not to report that in a timely fashion and also not to be one of the first comics-related sites to congratulate the veteran Sack. Here's how it went down in the newsroom; that must be a wonderful moment.

You can see a bunch of Sack's 2012 cartoons here in a Star-Tribune slideshow. All of the Pulitzer organizations own links to Sack can be found here.

Clay Bennett (Chattanooga Times Free Press) and Jeff Darcy (Cleveland Plain Dealer) were this year's finalists. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the first time I recall seeing Darcy receive major recognition like that.

Steve Sack has been at his current publication since 1981, which might at this point be a greater achievement, at least statistically, than winning any award out there. He took his current position after two years in Fort Wayne at the Journal-Gazette. Sack was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 2004, and is represented by the Cagle syndicate. He is a past winner of a National Headliner award and a Berryman.
 
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Go, Look: Little Lulu Kleenex Ads

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Go, Read: Massive Sarah McIntyre Post On Publishers/Creators

The cartoonist Sarah McIntyre has a lengthy livejournal (!) post here on a very recent panel in which she participated on the relationship between publishers and creators. I would imagine that there is a ton of stuff that a lot of creators, particularly young ones, might glean from it. It's entertainingly written with a lot of photos of hats in it even if it's of no use to you at all.

There's also a pretty good exchange in the comments section about the idea of publishing not-great material that's sort of a tie in that it's easy to see the truth to each side. I do sort of think that that there have to be ways to publish material that's not as engaged as one's best work might be so that it helps the creator and even deepens their relationship with a readership.
 
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Go, Look: Comics In Modern Farmer

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Missed It: Movement In The Ed Kramer Proceedings

This is almost two weeks old now, but it looks like the Ed Kramer legal tussle continues its back-and-forth. Reading this article, it's hard not to come away with some hope that momentum has been lost from the Kramer side -- at least the legal maneuvers are described in a way they seem more like rote moves than a fevered battle being pitched. Perhaps that's reading too much into it.

Kramer's ability to fight the charges against him are being financed by his stake in Dragon*Con, the longtime Atlanta convention for which he was once a key mover and shaker. This is still the best overall article on the matter.

A move by professionals to get other professionals and fans to stop supporting Dragon*Con because this legal scrum is where the money is going has a couple of interesting side elements. A first is that there hasn't been a conviction yet, and for some people that's the important issue above and beyond the nature of any allegations; a second is that some people have decided to see this as an attack on Dragon*Con as some sort of endorsing agency for the things that Kramer is alleged to have done and that a) this isn't fair, b) the convention can't break ties with Kramer without legal repercussions and have tried to do so, c) the convention is a positive for a lot of people.

The idea that there must be someone to blame is an intriguing outgrowth of comics culture, although one has to wonder if that isn't beside the point in this case. I would think whether or not you're furious at Dragon*Con or if your heart breaks for their predicament, just not wanting to be involved in the legal clusterfuck that's developed -- out of distaste for someone abusing the system, or because the implications of his alleged crimes are monstrous -- might be enough righteous motivation for folks to divest themselves of any involvement with that show, or, really, any comics show where this developed.

Update: It looks like Heidi MacDonald also updated on this story this morning, with video.
 
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"Shit Twins" Is A Spectacularly Great Title

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Go, Look: Human Trafficking Story At BBC News

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Latest Siegel Family Decision: Superboy; 2001 Deal Details

Kevin Melrose has the best current write-up of the latest legal decision regarding a move by the families of the creator of Superman to re-assert ownership right to that material. Melrose puts the entire thing in admirably plain language: basically this ropes in Superboy and some other related material into a string of decisions about deals and offers that has been previously judged to stand-up, saying that this material was intended to be used in that process.

The decision also releases details of the deal in question, which could be worth tens of millions of dollars barring a kind of accounting that the family has stressed through the legal process they feared would take place. Hopefully, it won't. I personally would like to see the families get as much money and as much satisfaction as is possible here for the industry- and culture-changing nature of that original creation. I wish it had come more freely than through a tortuous legal process but now that we're at this end point I would like to see as many positive as possible.
 
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Go, Look: Johnny Ryan Original Art Sale

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looking is free
 
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Cartoonist Steve Breen Wins National Headliner Award

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I totally missed last week's news that Steve Breen of the Union-Tribune in San Diego won first place in the Editorial Cartoons category of the National Headliner Awards, which are given out by the press club in Atlantic City and honor work in both broadcasting and print journalism. Luckily, Alan Gardner caught it and I can draft off of his fine blogging.

Second place was Walt Handlesman (Newsday); third place went to Clay Bennett (Chattanooga Times-Free Press). That is a solid group.

I would say that the Headliner Award is one of the half-dozen major awards that goes to editorial cartooning yearly. It's certainly a first- or second-graph obituary mention. Breen also won in 2009. Breen is not even 45 yet, and has already built an impressive, career's worth of awards wins.

You can look at all the winners on this PDF. The Union-Tribune is showing off Breen's work at a gallery related to the award win here.
 
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Go, Look: Galleries Of Splash Pages Featuring The Joker

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1, 2
 
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Emily Nilsson Announces Transfer Of Sparkplug Books Ownership To Virginia Paine

Word went out over the weekend via Facebook and the Sparkplug site that owner Emily Nilsson was transferring ownership to that company's longtime employee Virginia Paine. This move was done in February. Nilsson describes Paine as "formerly my employee and business partner." The company had announced it would be moving forward in 2012 after founder Dylan Williams' Fall 2011 passing with a triumvirate of Paine, Nilsson and the cartoonist and close Williams friend Tom Neely. Nilsson and Neely plan on pitching in where they can with Sparkplug as it moves forward.

Projects mentioned in the latest posting include a continuation of the series Reich and the publication of a sequel to the second Sparkplug effort (and first major splash in the small comics publishing world) Orchid, Orchid 2.
 
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Go, Look: Comics Spring

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* glad to Bingo Baby go over the top, five days out.

* I've been reminded that Henry Chamberlain is a great friend to all comics and indie comics in particular. He's also a peer in terms of reviews and interviews. I would imagine that anything he is kickstarting is worth at least a check-out.

* this Action Lab Entertainment project is near its goal.

* I will likely mention this elsewhere on the site, but Johnny Ryan has been putting a ton of work up for sale recently, and it's modestly-priced and very handsome stuff.

* finally, I was really grateful to see Steven Thompson get the money he needed for a new computer, and I have to imagine any extra money you might want to throw his way will be put to excellent use. Dude does like 2500 blogs.
 
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Go, Look: One Panel U Submit

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Not Comics: Virtual Memories Show Tumblr

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* today at noon is the end of voting for the Stumptown Comic Arts Awards.

image* Kiel Phegley talks to Axel Alonso and Mark Waid. Someone at ActuaBD.com talks to Derf Backderf.

* not comics: remember, this is Hal Jordan.

* dug up some old bookmarks I'm not sure I've posted; please forgive me if any are repeats. Here is Dan Berry's Guide To Making 24-Hour Comics. Chris Cilla posted a photo of various sketchbooks. Sarah McIntyre showed glimpses of a forthcoming work. I would just not want to be affiliated with this guy at all, and I'd sacrifice a bit to get there. Here is the life of an illustrator that worries too much. A recent symposium-style offering in New York is profiled here. Finally, kudos to those that held alternative events for the canceled con in Boston.

* Hannah Means-Shannon on Breakers. Timothy Callahan on Action Comics.

* Glen Brunswick delves into the sudden appearance of X-Men #1 art in the comics shop market in the 1980s, which must have been super-cool for those art director even if it points to some potentially awful stuff going on in terms of the provenance of those pages. I hate to send people to serial posts, so it's not a complete story yet, but I'll probably forget to return to it if I don't do so now.

* Batton Lash remembers George Gladir.

* finally, Brigid Alverson calls attention to Dark Horse's 25th year publishing manga.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Steve Englehart!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Larry Mahlstedt!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Tadashi Matsumori!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Bryan Hitch!

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April 21, 2013


Go, Bookmark: The 2013 Doug Wright Awards Art Auction

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These People Went Around To Boston Comics Shops And Gave Away Their Convention Stock From The Con

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that strikes me as a fun and nice thing to do
 
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This Is What Desert Island Looked Like Under Construction

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I had wondered out loud; Gabe Fowler sent along the above link. It was some sort of mobile technology store with a lowered, fake ceiling and everything.
 
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Staying On Top Of Magdy L Shafee Arrest Via WW3 Illustrated

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even better might be to triangulate between WW3I, Words Without Borders and Shafee's Facebook page. Shafee was arrested on Friday night; the cartoonist has long been actively involved with political protests in Egypt. You can follow tweets about the case here.
 
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Go, Look: Jeremy Baum SPACE Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: Patrick Kyle's Trolls

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OTBP: š! #13

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Go, Look: Doodle Alley

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Go, Look: I Don't Smoke

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

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

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

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If I Were In Brooklyn, 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: America's Greatest Comics #8

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

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Happy 48th Birthday, Teri Wood!

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FFF Results Post #332 -- Assistants

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Assistants From The Comics Who Are Cooler Than The Character(s) They Help. Use This Format. Restrict Yourself To One Joke/Riffing-Style Answer, Please." This is how they responded.

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Chris Duffy

1. Arnim Zola (Red Skull)
2. Sliver Surfer (Galactus)
3. The Helper (Gyro Gearloose)
4. The Recorder (the Rigellians)
5. The guy who cut hair for SHIELD (all of SHIELD)

*****

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John R. Platt

1. Hermy (Nilson Groundthumper)
2. Betty Brant (J. Jonah Jameson)
3. Mikhlo the gorilla (the Red Ghost)
4. Rufferto (Groo)
5. Willie Lumpkin (the Postmaster General)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Air-Walker (Galactus)
2. Harley Quinn (Joker)
3. J. Wellington Wimpy (Popeye)
4. Marsupilami (Spirou et Fantasio)
5. Fuyu Kanoe (Zoichi Kanoe)

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Shebaba O'Neil (Ironwolf)
2. Harvard-Harvard (Bob Hope)
3. Percy Jenifah (The Shadow's "cobbie", Helfer/Baker run)
4. Ilsa (Star Hawkins)
5. Bridget Kronopoulous (Aztec Ace)

*****

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Matt Emery

1. The Hedgehog (Bogor)
2. Snowy (Tintin)
3. Willie Garvin (Modesty Blaise)
4. Suzi Cho (James Blocker and the rest of the time troopers in Timequake)
5. Seth (Joe Matt)

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Honey Huan (Duke)
2. Alfred (Batman)
3. Marcie (Peppermint Patty)
4. Henchman 21 (The Monarch)
5. Duo Damsel (Duo Damsel)

*****

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Christopher Brown

1) Lying Cat (The Will)
2) Monsieur Mallah (The Brain)
3) The Legion of Super-Pets (The Legion of Super-Heroes)
4) Skeets (Booster Gold)
5) Silver Age Superman Robots (Silver Age Superman)

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Lucien (The Sandman)
2. The Asp (Daddy Warbucks)
3. Yupyop (King Aroo)
4. Grimes (Baron Bean)
5. Marcie (well, she calls Peppermint Patty 'Sir')

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Amadeus Cho (Hercules)
2. Ebony (The Spirit)
3. Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Donald Duck)
4. Proty I (Chameleon Boy)
5. Damian Wayne (Dick Grayson)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Alfred (Batman)
2. Ofelia (Luba)
3. Netley (William Gull)
4. Baskin (Lord Julius)
5. Dum Dum Dugan (Nick Fury)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Posey (Cerebus)
2. Harley Quinn (Joker)
3. Lonesome Polecat (Hairless Joe)
4. Alfred (Bruce Wayne)
5. Jarvis (The Avengers)

*****

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Alex Cox

1. Michael Binkley (Milo Bloom)
2. Roast Beef Kazantzakis (Ray Smuckles)
3. Bulma (and heck, all of the side characters in DRAGON BALL) (Goku)
4. House Roy (Funky Flashman)
5. Kamandi (Dr. Canus. Kind of a cheat there, but for all intents and purposes, Kamandi was Watson to Canus' Holmes.)

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Supergirl, Superman's Secret Weapon (Superman)
2. Cryll (Space Ranger)
3. Brute and Glob (Sandman)
4. The Awesome Android (Mad Thinker)
5. The crack Hydra Agents who line up behind one another to do the sweet "cut off a limb" pose (The Supreme Hydra)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce Wayne/Batman, et al.)
2. Rick Jones (The Hulk, The Avengers, Captain Marvel, etc.)
3. Marcie (Peppermint Patty)
4. Tom Kalmaku (Hal Jordan/Green Lantern)
5. Paul Gambi, tailor to supervillains (The Flash's Rogues' Gallery)

*****

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Bob Temuka

1. Wulf Sternhammer (Strontium Dog)
2. The Wasp (Hank Pym)
3. Cassidy (Preacher)
4. Oberon (Mr Miracle)
5. Joyce Brabner (Harvey Pekar)

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Flip (Nemo)
2. Smiley Bone (Phoney Bone)
3. Franky (The Goon)
4. Rufferto (Groo)
5. Wendy Watson (The Middleman)

*****

topic and suggestions from Chris Duffy; thanks, Chris

*****
*****
 
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April 20, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Profile Of KAL


Ev'ry Little Bug


That Billy Ireland/Boing Boing Video That I'll Never Find Again Otherwise


New Graham Chaffee Previewed


Melinda Gebbie Trailer


The Full Carol Tyler/Henry Jenkins Thing
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from April 13 to April 19, 2013:

1. The Egyptian cartoonist Magdy L Shafee was reportedly arrested in Cairo with several other demonstrators.

2. Eisner Award nominations came out this week, along with some complaints about the potential for bias on the part of judge Frank Santoro, who when Before Watchmen came out had spoken out strongly against the creators involved.

3. The 75th anniversary of Action Comics #1 was celebrated. That comic featured the industry-changing work of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster on their Superman character.

Winner Of The Week
Robert Downey Jr., apparently.

Loser Of The Week
Hopefully, the idea that companies that work in the creative arts have no choice in the policies they pursue.

Quote Of The Week
"I definitely had strong feelings about Before Watchmen when it was announced. However, once I became an Eisner judge, I took my responsibility seriously, set my feelings aside, and considered the books that were submitted -- as did all the other judges." -- Frank Santoro

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Reports: Cartoonist Magdy L Shafee Arrested In Cairo

Here. He was apparently arrested with several other demonstrators and scheduled to be prosecuted this morning.
 
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Go, Look: Livio Ramondelli's Marvel Paintings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 48th Birthday, Evan Dorkin!

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Happy 64th Birthday, John Ostrander!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Didier Kassai!

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April 19, 2013


Go, Watch: Billy Ireland Cartoon Library On Video


Comics' strength isn't necessarily in its institutions, but its institutions are definitely strengths, and frequently under-appreciated. Let's change that.

The video and its making is described here.
 
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Steve Bissette: Marvel And DC Have Made Choices

I don't always agree with the comics-maker, historian, advocate and educator Steve Bissette on creators' rights issues, but I respect his opinion and I think this post is a particularly good one on a few matters and is worth hearing on the day the characters of Superman and Lois Lane created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster turn 75 years and 1 day in terms of their published history.

The first notion Bissette floats that I think is compelling is that DC and Marvel largely choose the policies they follow. That includes massive chunks if not the entirety of their policies regarding Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. There's a construction out there that corporations are bound by strategies that maximize profit in the most incredibly crass and short-sighted ways. In fact, people are so certain of this construction that they'll somehow apply it to reversals of policy and practice, there being a reversal involved seeming to indicate that strategy and choice play significant roles. I maintain that if both companies really wanted to, Marvel and DC could affect different policies in the main. Further, I'd suggest that they might even be potentially more profitable policies over the long-term, but I'm always hesitant in offering that up as a justification for fear that would become the litmus test for those kinds of choices.

The second Bissette notion worth considering is that Jack Kirby and the Siegel/Shuster pairings represent fundamentally different cases than the bulk of company/creator relationships because of their foundational nature. I think that's a pretty compelling argument and one that cuts past a kind of delaying/throw-hands-in-air tactic that frequently gets used to suggest that nothing can be done. I'd rather everyone see the best outcome, but I'm not locked into keeping the families of the core creators from being helped just because it's more difficult to reward some guy who worked on a Superman comic in 1974. Comics has a tendency to discount things that can't be executed to 100 percent effectiveness -- out of some ideological purity or general sense of fairness, I'm not one hundred percent certain. In general I think fixing one problem is a positive gain that doesn't have to justify itself against all the other potential, comparable examples.

The third idea in that piece is one I've used a bunch in that there are existing models for improving the situations: the Bob Kane deal could be applied to Siegel and Shuster; the Stan Lee deal could be applied to Jack Kirby. Are those perfect solutions? No. But they'd be improvements, and they kind of stand to show that there are better strategies available than the ones currently employed and that these can be implemented without those companies being destroyed. Does Batman seem significantly crippled in comparison to Superman because of the Kane deal? Did Stan Lee diminish the Marvel properties moving into the big-movie phase? Of course not.
 
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Go, Look: Lauren Albert

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Collective Memory: Carmine Infantino, RIP

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Walter Wysoski

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Collective Memory: SPACE 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Carmine Infantino, The Timely Years

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Go, Read: Graeme McMillan On DC Pulling From CBR A Promotional/News Column Featuring Two Editors

Graeme McMillan has a succinct enough wrap-up of DC pulling a CBR column that featured an ongoing Q&A of Bob Harras and Bobbi Chase about various DC Comics-related things for me to feel comfortable linking to it here without baffling the shit out of a sizable chunk of CR readers. Apparently there was a disagreement about what the scope of those questions should include. My understanding is that DC will now host a similar feature via one of their on-line efforts.

I think there's a bunch of interesting issues raised there, although nothing of significant import. I don't think it's true as has been asserted that there's an expectation unique to comics that company executives and other higher-ups submit themselves to questions. I think sports media has long featured a similar concept, and in fact offers a much more highly developed one market to market, with coaches shows and the like. I think as much as comics has shifted the idea of authorship onto these positions, those positions engage with the media about as much as one might expect.

In terms of broader trends, I suspect that you're going to see people continue to restrict access in a better attempt to control their message, and that this is a potentially significant thing in terms of the drift of it rather than the drama of it. I think that a lot of folks don't care that this kind of news receives even the bare minimum vetting that frequently accompanies what takes place even when an outside actor is involved, and a lot of other folks distrust such agencies or feel they're sophisticated enough to pull at the truth if they're given the content. When I stumble across TV shows focused on content of forthcoming efforts in film and television, I'm frequently totally unclear as to who made the show.

One thing I find super-interesting about comics in terms of the basic coverage involved right now is that as far as I can tell there's been very little participation in the most interesting general trend: the culture of recapping and lengthy, rolling criticism over individual segments of prestige TV shows and movies. I don't know why that is, although several possibilities likely contribute, such as the relative brevity of the basic unit of consumption. Comics does seem more safely stuck in the previews/PR mode of engagement, though.
 
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If I Were Near Hanover, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: A Visit To Miriam Katin's Studio

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there's a really good post here at The Beat about 20th Century kids comics using Gilbert Hernandez's slideshow as a springboard.

image* James Baker writes about the satirizing of George Augustus Frederick.

* Michael Cavna eases into a fun piece on the Eisners judging process.

* Dominic Umile on The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward.

* the writer Ron Marz on the specific satisfactions of DIY projects.

* the comics-maker Dan Jurgens penned a short piece for CBR on the Jerry Siegel/Joe Shuster character Superman, now 75 years old in published form. Tom Bondurant wrote this blog post on the Lois Lane character, also now 75 years old in published form. Graeme McMillan re-runs that great Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely page from the All Star Superman series.

* Mark Kardwell tosses a spotlight on UK comics publishing in advance of this weekend's Comica events.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco on You're All Just Jealous Of My Backpack.

* finally: feel better, Bob! For all the people disagree on everything in comics, more people I know agree that Bob Levin's Most Outrageous is the best book about comics and cartoonists, ever. He's a great guy, too.
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Steve Schanes!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Martha Thomases!

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Happy 88th Birthday, Jim Ivey!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Mark McMurray!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Michael Dowers!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Max Riffner!

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April 18, 2013


Robert Morales, RIP

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Go, Bid: Ivan Brunetti Page On eBay... For The Kids

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In comics, your professor will put his art on-line for sale to help you raise money for your anthology. Comics is grand.
 
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So I Guess Some People Are Mad At Frank Santoro For The Bias Of Having A Strong Opinion About Things

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I'm not sure I'm tracking this very well, but my understanding is that there have been some flashes of Internet-style complaining/argumentation that focuses on statements that 2013 Eisner Awards judge Frank Santoro made about the comics-makers that worked on the Before Watchmen books from DC Comics, and how the strength of his statements on that matter might have caused him to be biased while serving as a judge on that awards committee. I think it's a good line of questioning to pursue. Those statements were public, as is Santoro's role on this year's nominations committee. Why not look for potential bias in an institution like that one? You can read a summary of this flare-up at Rich Johnston's site, including a statement from the creator/educator.

I think Frank Santoro is exactly the kind of judge that comics awards should have. I don't consider the ability to make moral and ethical distinctions and their subsequent expression to be bad things. Those are good things. In fact, it's very comics that expressing an opinion like Santoro's and how that might keep people from a specific kind of praise they somehow deserve is considered a greater issue than the choices of the artists that led Santoro to express that opinion and the effect those choices may have on the lives, careers and artistic legacies of generations of professionals.

I guess this stuff could be an issue if Santoro put on display a show of grinding against these artists and their work in a way while performing his judging duties that casts doubt on his ability to do the job he accepted. The thing is, we have no evidence of this. We have testimony the other way. That's important: accusations aren't food trucks, you can't just park them nearby. When Santoro says that he pushed for Before Watchmen creators and and even work on that material because he took his job seriously, and points out that Before Watchmen creators received nominations for other works, that's all I need to hear. In fact, I didn't need to hear that. Santoro told me further via an e-mail exchange that these things never came up during the process of selecting this year's nominations. Why would they?

One of the interesting things about the development of the Internet as a tool to have conversations is that the possibility of something taking place is often seen as the same thing as something that actually takes place. It's mistaking the abstraction of an argument as a direct correlative event to something in the real world. If we can argue something is possible, that's all we need to do: a potential bias = a bias, a potential construction by which something might happen = it could have happened and might as well have. It's very multiverse friendly. We should probably stop.

I look forward to future years when people explore the potential biases of all Eisner judges and not just the ones that have flamboyant on-line personae or whose stances have a shaming element to them. In fact, it's usually the quiet ones. Undue influence can be positive or negative.

If you could give me five Frank Santoros on every judging panel from now on, I'd sacrifice ever being nominated again for how fun and interesting that would be. Good on us for having this conversation. Good on Frank for meeting the accusations head-on. Nothing to see here; let's move forward.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Armstrong #13

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Collective Memory: Carmine Infantino, RIP

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Commentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of the Silver Age Artist, Designer and Editor Carmine Infantino (1925-2013).

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Institutional
* Devoted Web Site
* Lambiek Entry
* Wikipedia Page

Past Interviews, Profiles And Articles Of Interest
* TCJ 01
* TCJ 02
* TCJ 03

Audio
* Comic Zone
* TerraZero

Blog/Tumblr Entries
* Arnold Zwicky

* Bat-Blog.com
* Brainstomping

* Chimpomatic
* Comics Should Be Good
* CR

* First Comics News
* flix4ipods
* Frank Campbell

* General Tso's Revenge

* James Vance
* Jamie Coville

* Mark Evanier 01
* Mark Evanier 02
* Mark Evanier 03
* mikrosserifis

* nerdsynq

* Pipoca Moderna

* Robot 6 01
* Robot 6 02

* Scifant
* Seigi No Nakama
* Shadow Of A Doubt
* Shannon Smith

* The Beat

* Virago

* wiiaddictos
* Wow Cool
* WTV Zone

Facebook
* Carmine Infantino Fan Group
* Carmine Infantino Public Figure Page

Message Boards And Comment Threads
* Comic Crack
* DVD Talk
* Penny Arcade
* True Beatles Fans Only
* Vicio Juegos

Miscellaneous
* A Black Canary Story From 1948
* A Cover Gallery
* An Appreciation Of Carmine Infantino By Mark Waid
* Interview In Italian
* Marvel.com
* Star Wars Wiki

News Stories and Columns
* Ain't It Cool
* AV Club

* BDZoom
* Bleeding Cool 01

* CBR
* ComicsAlliance
* Comics Should Be Good

* Emertainment Monthly

* Hollywood Reporter

* iFanboy

* New York Times

* The Awl
* Toledo Free Press

Photos
* Henry Sene Yee

Twitter
* #carmineinfantino

Video
* Speeding Bulletin

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OTBP: Suspect Device #3

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So I Guess Superman First Appeared 75 Years Ago Today

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I'm not sure how accurate the dating is, but April 18 is a day given over to the character of Superman, and this the 75th year of his first publication. That's a really great character, and a remarkable achievement by his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I hope that you'll remember Siegel and Shuster today as much as you remember the character. I think there's a reason that we see language about the latter as much if not way more than the former. I like imaginary characters, and Superman is about as broadly appealing as they come, but I like artists and writers more and I think theirs is the accomplishment worth celebrating.
 
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Go, Listen: You Can't Tie Down A Banjo Man

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* so it looks like there's a festival in Poland starting today. Wouldn't you want to go to a comics festival in Poland if this were possible? I would.

* this didn't really sink in until I was running Collective Memories for FLUKE, SPACE and MoCCA all the same time, but holy crap, there are so many shows you could attend now. You could probably go to a pretty good comics show every other weekend March to September. This is an amazing thing. I say this a lot, but one reason I felt comfortable moving to Silver City, New Mexico is that there were only maybe three comics shows I'd want to attend in any given year. Now there are three some months.

* speaking of the Athens comics show, the crew from Dollar Bin did some interviews at FLUKE. I like those Dollar Bin guys.

* here's nice new site for MECAF.

* go here to pick up items related to the recent MoCCA Festival. I don't know if their availability means that demand was soft or if they just want to blast through their inventory when a show is near its conclusion, but I don't think the former option is a negative -- Society Of Illustrators is using this year to figure out things like the demand for festival-related stuff. For you, though, this is a Michael DeForge t-shirt opportunity.

* here is Gerry Alanguilan with a con report for a show near him. I always love reading events coverage from Alanguilan.

* finally, here's a piece by DWA jury member Natalia Yanchak on deciding to sit on that award's jury, which contains a list of the awards winners. It's on Huffington Post, which works according to a model of not paying its contributors in any traditional sense, so that's not my favorite place to read about an industry that has problem paying its creators. Then again, I guess people read that site with great devotion and therefore writers use it for things like drawing attention to themselves or things they like. So there you go. I'm not sure why I just felt the need to describe Huffington Post as if it came into existence five minutes ago, but what the hell.
 
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If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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Not Comics: Some Kate Baylay Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Grady Hendrix wrote in to say he's published longer interviews with Tom Richmond and John Ficarra than was needed for a recent Film Comment article about film parodies at MAD. You can find all of that here.

image* Colm Creamer on Avengers #6. Todd Klein on Aquaman #18. Johanna Draper Carlson on Li'l Gotham #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Batman: The Black Mirror.

* not comics: is this the best comics t-shirt of the last 10 years? Is this the best comics t-shirt not the King-Cat t-shirt ever?

* Chris Arrant previews Youth In Decline.

* Hannah Means-Shannon talks to Matt Kindt.

* this is an odd question. The classic indie/mainstream dichotomy is completely beside the point with a lot of emerging creators and readers and becoming increasingly irrelevant to a not-inconsiderable number of the older ones -- I'm about as old as they come, and it didn't occur to me until I read that article to think of the Eisner nominations in that way and I'd been looking at the nominations sheet for about 24 hours with the express purpose of analyzing it.

* not comics: a future for immersive content?

* this development is completely weird to me, and I'm not sure why. Hopefully I can find a better angle by tomorrow's digital comics column, which is where this site covers on-line press.

* Naomi Fry talks to Geneviève Castrée. Michael Cavna talks to Ben Katchor. Kiel Phegley talks to Eric Stephenson.

* not comics: do they really need urging? Also, for what it's worth, Neil Gaiman and I agreed for years on leather jackets.

* finally, there's a fun article here from Charles Hatfield talking about the Eisner nominations process. It's pretty much what I've heard from other judges in the past, but not a lot of people have written about it.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Roger Salick!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Darryl Cunningham!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Thierry Groensteen!

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April 17, 2013


Doug Wright Awards Announces Scott Thompson As Host

imageThe Doug Wright Awards has announced actor Scott Thompson as the host of its 2013 program. The Kids In The Hall, Larry Sanders Show and Hannibal actor will take the stage on Saturday, May 11 at 7 PM for the awards show, which honors the best in Canadian comics. Three awards will be given out.

This year's event will also induct the late Albert Chartier into The Giants Of The North, the Canadian Cartoonists Hall Of Fame. Chartier died in 2004 after more than 65 years cartooning. His strips included Seraphin and Onesime. Guy Badeux will induct Chartier.

Thompson has experience as a host in addition to his acting, taking the reinds for the 2004 Genie Awards and the reality show My Fabulous Gay Wedding. Thompson wrote the the graphic novel The Hollow Planet in partnership with IDW Press and Frozen Beach in 2010.

The event, to be held at TCAF hotel headquarters the Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel, is free to the general public. Doors will open at 6:30 PM.
 
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Go, Look: I Know Now Why You Cry

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A Few Eisner Awards Notes The Day After Nominations

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Here are a few things that occurred to me this morning while reviewing this year's nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, a traditional big deal for the North American comic book industry as much as those kinds of things are a big deal to folks. These are the ones given out during the Friday evening of Comic-Con International weekend.

1. I think this is the kind of nominations slate people expected when the judging panel included Frank Santoro, Michael Cavna and Charles Hatfield -- all three of whom are broadly cognizant of alternative work from a variety of comics-maker, including young ones.

image2. Chris Ware nabbing a bunch of nominations for Building Stories isn't a surprise, nor is recent fan- and critical-favorite Ed Brubaker getting a bunch in conjunction (mostly) with his work on the horror noir Fatale with longtime collaborator Sean Phillips. I do think the latter is noteworthy, though, as Brubaker is enough of an old hand to appreciate the nominations -- he was nominated years and years ago very early on and then I believe not again, or at least without sustained momentum, until this latest phase of his comics-writing career began to flower.

3. I'd say the surprise title in terms of multiple nomination would probably be the four going to the charming on-line title Bandette. That's good work, and the first issue is free for you to look at right now. I was also happy to see Joseph Remnant and Carol Tyler take home multiple nominations. Tyler in particular, I think, gets frequently overlooked.

4. It's weird to see DC not take home bunches and bunches and bunches of nomination if you came up in the mid-1990s when it seemed they were one Gary Groth and Kim Thompson bankruptcy away from winning all of the nods every single year. It's a different company now, particularly as oriented towards prestige work of the kind that tends to take home recognition like these awards.

5. That's a first nomination for 2000 AD, which is a nice nod in the direction of the super-solid work they've been doing there and the Premier League-type growing appreciation for that work by hardcore comics aficionados in the US.

6. I like that Faith Erin Hicks is invested enough in this kind of signifier to express disappointment that her Friends With Boys didn't get a nomination for something. I think Hicks is the real deal, a total comics lifer that will work for the next three decades if she wants to do so.

7. I'll be rooting for CR contributor Bart Beaty to win the book category for which his fine Comics Vs. Art is nominated.

8. The Matt Fraction-written Hawkeye series from Marvel is different enough and of a high-enough quality that it seems like it stands a good chance of winning an award or two. I thought Fraction's work on that last cycle of Casanova was really interesting, so I'm glad to see that get some attention as well.

9. I'm not sure if it's a representative list or if that's even possible in comics these days; comics' overall output is more Balkanized than it's ever been. But I think there are some really good books on that list, and only a handful I didn't personally care for when I read them.

10. For whatever it's worth, the highest-ranked work on my never-released, best-of-2012 list not receiving a nomination of any kind were the Joe Sacco books that came out, which I had as a single entry. I thought those were both pretty great books.

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Go, Look: The Rejection Slip

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Alternative Comics has finally announced its 2013 books. This includes an anthology bearing the company's name, more Sam Henderson and a Karl Stevens book.

image* so I guess that maybe a cancellation of Marvel's Winter Soldier model may be more of an adjustment of the comics series of that name with a new Captain America movie on the horizon more than it is Marvel bailing on that character. I don't know; I thought that character worked pretty well as a foil to Captain America and reasonably okay on his own, mostly in terms of extending what Ed Brubaker was doing with those characters in general, a kind of amped-up version of the 1970s Steve Englehart run. I would imagine there would be a use for a title like Winter Soldier to kind of hold some of the "black ops" superhero stuff in one or two places while the rest of the line toys with space opera, the way there always seem to be these weird, backwards-looking, convoluted X-Men comics.

* Titan Comics has released covers to its forthocming A1 Annual.

* I don't really cover kids books in this column, but this Happy Punks 1 2 3 is awfully cute.

* so they're starting roll 2014 books out on Amazon -- never a great place to go for exact information on when something is going to be released, but generally functional for those companies with aggressive books programs which at this point seems to be pretty much all of them. Anyway, I was happier than usual to see a third volume of Buz Sawyer is going to be released. That's not the best strip. It's not even that cartoonist's best strip. But it's super-handsome, and it reads pretty well when you get to devour a bunch of it at once. I can't imagine those sell to anyone, but I guess somehow it works.

* a new issue of Magic Bullet is imminent.

* finally, IDW is doing its forthcoming Carlos Ezquerra-centric Judge Dredd book via its recent strategy of doing limited editions of books. I think that's a nice way to do certain projects, as the demand for works like that is very, very focused.

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Go, Look: The Island Of Thunder

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Go, Look: SAW On Tumblr

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Collective Memory: FLUKE 2013

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Go, Look: PictureBox On Tumblr

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Go, Look: Miguel Covarrubias' Face Time

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's no-doubt largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

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DEC120334 MARSHAL LAW THE DELUXE EDITION HC (MR) $49.99
This is an extremely low-interest week for me. It happens. If I lived in a town with a comics shop, I probably wouldn't go to that comics shop today. That's just me, though; I'm sure there are tons of books that will delight and thrill other readers, even those that share a similar interest in comics as an expressive art form as opposed to a delivery system for specific genre thrills. Anyway, I already own this Marshal Law material in a way I'm happy owning it, but I'd love a hardcover collection, too. I'd certainly consider it this week. I think the Marshal Law comic was stylish-looking and funny in its various iterations; I don't take playing with superheroes seriously enough to know where it stands on some spectrum of similar works, but it amused the shit out of me and still does.

imageJAN131261 HP LOVECRAFT CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD GN $19.95
Here's one that I know next to nothing about, which is a thrill when it happens and is a vote for the superiority of the comics shop over just counting on your own limited expertise to direct you to any and all books you'd want. It's from SelfMadeHero, and they've done very well recently.

JAN130097 BLACK BEETLE #3 NO WAY OUT $3.99
FEB130013 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #106 COLD DAY IN HELL #2 $3.50
FEB130051 CONAN THE BARBARIAN #15 $3.50
FEB130324 POPEYE CLASSICS ONGOING #9 [DIG/P+] $3.99
FEB130460 REVIVAL #9 [DIG] $2.99
DEC120589 THIEF OF THIEVES #13 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
FEB130480 AGE OF ULTRON #6 $3.99
FEB130842 ADVENTURE TIME #1 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
FEB130836 ADVENTURE TIME #15 MAIN CVRS [DIG] $3.99
FEB130843 ADVENTURE TIME #2 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
FEB130844 ADVENTURE TIME #3 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
FEB130845 ADVENTURE TIME #4 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
FEB130846 ADVENTURE TIME #5 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
FEB130847 ADVENTURE TIME #6 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
Since it's not a great week at the comics shop, I would cast my net wider than usual when it came to looking at serial comic books. We have some stylish-looking genre comics from Dark Horse with those first three, an IDW effort I've enjoyed, two from Image including Robert Kirkman's "produced" effort that seems like a TV show in the making, the latest issue of Marvel's current "event" series starring that dickish robot Ultron -- always make your artificial life forms weak, and build them out of tin foil when you can -- and a bunch of the Adventure Time books re-released in a way I'd take a second look at them. I'd probably also re-examine books I didn't buy in recent weeks, but I'm not truly equipped to cover such an exploration here.

FEB130420 HAPPY TP (MR) [DIG] $12.99
FEB130421 HARVEST HC (MR) [DIG] $19.99
JAN131008 BLAKE & MORTIMER GN VOL 10 SARCOPHAGI OF 6TH CONTINENT PT 2 $15.95
JAN131010 LUCKY LUKE TP VOL 25 STAGECOACH $11.95
JAN131011 LUCKY LUKE TP VOL 26 BOUNTY HUNTER $11.95
DEC121234 MODESTY BLAISE TP VOL 23 GIRL IN IRON MASK $19.95
JAN130460 ART OF STEVE DITKO HC NEW ED $39.99
DEC120394 POPEYE CLASSICS HC VOL 01 $29.99
JAN131218 MONSTER HC BOX SET VOL 1-4 $39.99
JAN130808 PARIS COLLECTION TP $10.95
JAN130810 SLOW NEWS DAY TP $12.95
DEC120778 THE LODGER GN (MR) $19.95
Here's a similar casting about for various re-releases and trade drops, including some sturdy names from across the Atlantic. I like the last three all enough that I already own them, but Andi Watson and Karl Stevens are perfect cartoonists for certain readers and I hope they always make comics.

DEC120054 ALIENS HC INHUMAN CONDITION $10.99
I've never bought an Aliens comic book as far as I can remember, even the ones with Jim Woodring's involvement. But in a week like this one -- for me, maybe not for you -- I would definitely take a look at a lengthy work with Sam Kieth art and a John Layman story. Nothing wrong with that pair of creators working together.

*****

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 In Portland, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In Montreal, 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: Majestic Creature

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* so I guess the actor Robert Downey Jr. made $50M from one of the movies starring the Tony Stark character he played. He played it very well, and I'm happy for actors to have as much money as possible -- my brother's an actor -- but I can't help but think how ludicrous it is that a company like Marvel that purports to sell us heroism can't pony up a 1/10 of the money paid one of the actors in an ensemble movie to make an extra-contractual payment to some of the creators. They choose not to, and I think we're compelled to wrestle with how we want to deal with them in terms of that choice. It seems like that sort of thing deserves a response, demands that we own a choice there, and not just fall into patterns of uncomplicated consumerist compliance despite their appeal.

image* Joe Gordon on Hawkeye Vol. 1. Richard Bruton on The Murder Mile. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on various comics, MIND MGMT Vol. 1 and a video from Jenna Marbles. Bryan Munn on Journal.

* Jeffrey Renaud talks to veteran comics-maker Jim Starlin in an interview that's casually revealing of some of the editorial behind-the-scenes involved in DC New 52 books.

* you know there's a CR tumblr, right?

* one of the NPR blogs talks about lady superheroes generally via a new documentary. I always thought it would be pretty easy to make a Wonder Woman movie as far as those things go, but that's just me.

* Heidi MacDonald makes a positive case for comics. I would make a slightly different case, and that there's so much good makes me furious at the bad, but there are some very positive things about comics right now. Although if the standard is someone thinking that comics is going to go away in five years, that's not exactly a high bar for achievement. She also makes a case for bad things in comics. I'd also make a different case there, but I might not remember any part of my own case were I to mistakenly read the comments again. Yeesh.

* so I wondered out loud yesterday whether this year's Eisner nomination for Gilbert Hernandez was his first, but I was told by administrator Jackie Estrada it was Beto's fourth, after 1991, 1992 and 2007.

* add Aurora Rise to the list of permanent comics charities.

* Jeet Heer writes about Hitler cartoons.

* finally, Stan Sakai is the best.

 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Jean-Pierre Gibrat!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Ben Dunn!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Noel Tuazon!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Kazuichi Hanawa!

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Happy 78th Birthday, Jiro Kuwata!

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April 16, 2013


Your 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees

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What follows are a list of this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Award nominees, as best as I'm able to format them. The Eisner Awards are held the Friday night of Comic-Con International weekend in July. They are a juried-nominations/industry-voted awards.

My initial impression was that there are a lot of younger cartoonists on this list: Brandon Graham, Joseph Remnant, Julia Wertz, Michael DeForge among them. I don't really believe in the changing of the guard, not in comics, but it's worth noting when a lot of young talent like Joseph Lambert gets noticed in a widespread way. A second thing I noticed is that Frank Young is in the writer category for the Carter Family book he did with Dave Lasky. The book is also nominated. Young's been around for a long time -- he was a TCJ managing editor a long time ago -- and I don't think he'd ever done a comic of any sustained length before this one, and maybe not a comic of any kind. One more thing I noticed is that both Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez received writer/artist nods. A lot of people thought that Jaime, at least, would be nominated last year for his recent work on Love and Rockets.

Congratulations to my peers in the Journalism category, and to all the nominees more generally.

*****

Best Short Story
* A Birdsong Shatters the Still, by Jeff Wilson and Ted May, in Injury #4 (Ted May/Alternative)
* Elmview by Jon McNaught, in Dockwood (Nobrow)
* Moon 1969: The True Story of the 1969 Moon Launch, by Michael Kupperman, in Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 (Fantagraphics)
* Moving Forward, by drewscape, in Monsters, Miracles, & Mayonnaise (Epigram Books)
* Rainbow Moment, by Lilli Carré, in Heads or Tails (Fantagraphics)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
* Lose #4: The Fashion Issue, by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
* The Mire, by Becky Cloonan (self-published)
* Pope Hats #3, by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
* Post York, by James Romberger and Crosby (Uncivilized Books)
* Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8, by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics)

Best Continuing Series
* Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
* Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
* The Manhattan Projects, by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra (Image)
* Prophet, by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy (Image)
* Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Best New Series
* Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
* Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
* Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
* Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
* Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
* Babymouse for President, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
* Benny and Penny in Lights Out, by Geoffrey Hays (Toon Books/Candlewick)
* Kitty & Dino, by Sara Richard (Yen Press/Hachette)
* Maya Makes a Mess, by Rutu Modan (Toon Books/Candlewick)
* Zig and Wikki in The Cow, by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler (Toon Books/Candlewick)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
* Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
* Amulet Book 5: Prince of the Elves, by Kazu Kibuishi (Scholastic)
* Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse, by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos (Archaia)
* Crogan's Loyalty, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)
* Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson (Nobrow)
* Road to Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)
* Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens, by Meredith Gran (kaboom!)
* Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)
* Ichiro, by Ryan Inzana (Houghton Mifflin)
* Spera, vol. 1, by Josh Tierney et al. (Archaia)
* A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

Best Humor Publication
* Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
* BBXX: Baby Blues Decades 1 & 2, by Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman (Andrews McMeel)
* Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)
* Naked Cartoonists, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Best Digital Comic
* Ant Comic, by Michael DeForge [2]
* Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover [3]
* It Will All Hurt, by Farel Dalrymple [4]
* Our Bloodstained Roof, by Ryan Andrews [5]
* Oyster War, by Ben Towle [6]

Best Anthology
* Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
* No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall (Fantagraphics)
* Nobrow #7: Brave New World, edited by Alex Spiro and Sam Arthur (Nobrow)
* 2000 AD, edited by Matt Smith (Rebellion)
* Where Is Dead Zero?, edited by Jeff Ranjo (Where Is Dead Zero?)

Best Reality-Based Work
* Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)
* The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts)
* A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Otié (Self Made Hero)
* The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, by Julia Wertz (Koyama Press)
* Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, by Ellen Forney (Gotham Books)
* You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)

Best Graphic Album -- New
* Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
* Goliath, by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)
* The Hive, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
* Unterzakhn, by Leela Corman (Schocken)
* You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium
* Chico and Rita, by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal (Self Made Hero)
* Homer's Odyssey, adapted by Seymour Chwast (Bloomsbury)
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Score, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
* Road to Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)
* A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

Best Graphic Album -- Reprint
* Cruisin' with the Hound, by Spain (Fantagraphics)
* Ed the Happy Clown, by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Everything Together: Collected Stories, by Sammy Harkham (PictureBox)
* Heads or Tails, by Lilli Carré (Fantagraphics)
* King City, by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)
* Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel (First Second)

Best Archival Collection/Project -- Strips
* Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, vol. 2, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin, by Johnny Gruelle, edited by Rick Marschall (Fantagraphics)
* Percy Crosby's Skippy, vol. 1, edited by Jared Gardner and Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Pogo, vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
* Roy Crane's Captain Easy: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips, vol. 3, edited by Rick Norwood (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project -- Comic Books
* Crime Does Not Pay Archives, edited by Philip Simon and Kitchen, Lind & Associates (Dark Horse)
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born Again: Artist's Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
* Wally Wood's EC Stories: Artist's Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
* Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man, by Carl Barks, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
* Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics, edited by Michel Gagné (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
* Abelard, by Régis Hautiere and Renaud Dillies (NBM)
* Athos in America, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
* Blacksad: Silent Hell, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
* The Making of, by Brecht Evens (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Monsieur Jean: The Singles Theory, by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian (Humanoids)
* New York Mon Amour, by Benjamin LeGrand, Dominique Grange, and Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material -- Asia
* Barbara, by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga)
* A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Otié (Self Made Hero)
* Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
* Nonnonba, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Thermae Romae, by Mari Yamazaki (Yen Press/Hachette)

Best Writer
* Ed Brubaker, Fatale (Image)
* Matt Fraction, Hawkeye (Marvel); Casanova: Avaritia (Marvel Icon)
* Brandon Graham, Multiple Warheads, Prophet (Image)
* Jonathan Hickman, The Manhattan Projects (Image)
* Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)
* Frank M. Young, The Carter Family (Abrams ComicArts)

Best Writer/Artist
* Charles Burns, The Hive (Pantheon)
* Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets New Stories, vol. 5 (Fantagraphics)
* Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets New Stories, vol. 5 (Fantagraphics)
* Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Everything We Miss (Nobrow)
* C. Tyler, You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart (Fantagraphics)
* Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Best Penciller/Inker
* David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)
* Becky Cloonan, Conan the Barbarian (Dark Horse); The Muse (self-published)
* Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
* Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image)
* Joseph Remnant, Harvey Pekar's Cleveland (Zip Comics/Top Shelf)
* Chris Samnee, Daredevil (Marvel); Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom (IDW)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
* Brecht Evens, The Making Of (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (Dark Horse)
* Teddy Kristiansen, The Red Diary/The RE[a]D Diary (MAN OF ACTION/Image)
* Lorenzo Mattotti, The Crackle of the Frost (Fantagraphics)
* Katsuya Terada, The Monkey King vol. 2 (Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist
* David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)
* Brandon Graham, King City, Multiple Warheads, Elephantmen #43 (Image)
* Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image)
* Yuko Shimizu, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)
* J. H. Williams III, Batwoman (DC)

Best Coloring
* Charles Burns, The Hive (Pantheon)
* Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
* Brandon Graham, Multiple Warheads (Image)
* Dave Stewart, Batwoman (DC); Fatale (Image); BPRD, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson, The Massive (Dark Horse)
* Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Best Lettering
* Paul Grist, Mudman (Image)
* Troy Little, Angora Napkin 2: Harvest of Revenge (IDW)
* Joseph Remnant, Harvey Pekar's Cleveland (Zip Comics/Top Shelf)
* C. Tyler, You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart (Fantagraphics)
* Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
* Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
* ComicsAlliance, edited by Joe Hughes, Caleb Goellner, and Andy Khouri
* The Comics Reporter, edited by Tom Spurgeon
* Robot Six, produced by Comic Book Resources
* tcj.com, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (Fantagraphics)

Best Comics-Related Book
* The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, edited by Alvin Buenaventura (Abrams ComicArts)
* Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics, by Dewey Cassell (TwoMorrows)
* Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe (HarperCollins)
* Mastering Comics, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson's, edited by Chris Sparks (Andrews McMeel)
* Woodwork: Wallace Wood 1927–1981, edited by Frédéric Manzano (CasalSolleric/IDW)

Best Educational/Academic Work
* Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, by Elisabeth El Refaie (University Press of Mississippi)
* Comics Versus Art, by Bart Beaty (University of Toronto Press)
* Crockett Johnson & Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature, by Philip Nel (University Press of Mississippi)
* Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, by Susan E. Kirtley (University Press of Mississippi)
* The Poetics of Slumberland, by Scott Bukatman (University of California Press)

Best Publication Design
* Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
* Dal Tokyo, designed by Gary Panter and Family Sohn (Fantagraphics)
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born Again: Artist's Edition, designed by Randy Dahlk (IDW)
* Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
* Wizzywig, designed by Ed Piskor and Chris Ross (Top Shelf)

*****
*****
 
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Go, Listen: Gil Roth Interviews Ben Katchor

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Go, Look: Panels 2 Ponder

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Go, Look: Batton Lash's Monsters For Sale

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Go, Look: Art From Robert Boyd's Comics Collection

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Go, Look: Reality #1

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Go, Look: Various Variant Cover Images Featuring Wolverine

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If I Were In NYC, 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: Adventures Into Weird Worlds #25

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Happy 49th Birthday, Steve Haynie!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Kim DeMulder!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Leonard Rifas!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Paul Rivoche!

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Happy 36th Birthday, David Aja!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Charles Hatfield!

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April 15, 2013


Go, Look: Hichram Amrani

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Jeff Smith talks about his forthcoming webcomics-driven project here. My understanding is that this basically going to be the Faith Erin Hicks model, with individual pages serialized at a steady pace. I think that's fascinating news.

* Greg McElhatton explains what happened to his Read About Comics site, one of the foundational places for day-in, day-out comics reviewing on the comics Internet.

* the CBLDF has a bit more on a case where Apple's nebulous policy about content caused a provider to err on the side of caution and pull a bunch of material. I honestly don't get this impulse from a company like that at this point and time. I have to imagine most of the even super-conservative people I know have wrapped their minds around there being comics material that might not allow an equivalent movie to be shown on daytime PBS, and that this is material that adults might want to read. The stupidity of that aside, not communicating to your publishing partners in rational, direct terms seems so wholly awful that I'm not even sure how to process it.

* I haven't spent the time to figure out Aces Weekly yet, but here's information on a fourth issue.

* Simon Moreton is using a pay-what-you-like model for a comic that he hopes will raise money for a trip to SPX. That's a physical comic, but it's primary outreach is on-line culture oriented.

* finally, when in doubt, steal from Gary Tyrrell. That's writing-about-digital-comics advice, but also life advice. Tyrrell caught what he thinks might be the first kickstarter campaign on behalf of an on-line comic that doesn't exist yet, which might offer up some thinking counter to conventional wisdom that says all of these successful webcomics-culture crowd-funders are based on building audiences for work on-line before money is obtained. Also Scott C and Kate Beaton are apparently doing events in Alaska this week.
 
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Go, Look: Ryan Heshka

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Go, Read: Paul Gravett On Thatcher In UK Comics

Here. Paul Gravett's survey of the late Margaret Thatcher's portrayal in British comics evinces the authority one expects from Gravett -- as opposed to the kind favored by the one-time Prime Minister. I like how matter-of-fact it is about one or two of the masked portrayals.
 
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Go, Look: ERB-Dom #47

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* I enjoy the work done by Mark Sable and Salgood Sam and it would be fun to see them work together on this project.

* this nice person sent me a link to their Kickstarter, a comic called GYR. Seems pretty straight-forward to me. The nice thing is when you send one of these long-running campaigns I can cut and paste it and run it on multiple column days.

* I'm still interested to see what happens to this Jason Lutes-directed project seeking crowd-funding.

* this publisher asked for "extra coverage" on their crowd-funding campaign. Really the only extra coverage I can supply a publisher doing crowd-funding is to repeat my usual bafflement that you get to be a publisher if you don't have any money to publish. I know that it's possible that this is a good arrangement for the artists involved or that there are projects where a publisher might want to do this because of their limited interest, but I really think it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the publisher to be doing enough they should be participating without our looking askance. I know many people disagree with this, but I think extra scrutiny in these cases isn't just allowable but necessary. This is true of former past bad actors in the marketplace that want to keep a hand in and it's true of promising newcomers whose offerings look really cool.

* finally, Michael May would like you to know about this kickstarter for Kill All Monsters.
 
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Not Comics: Some Sort Of Art Related To Tekkon Kinkreet

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Imagination #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library could use some volunteer-type help on the 27th.

image* Brian Gardes on Diosamante. Todd Klein on Swamp Thing #18.

* not comics: here's a handmade animated video from Matt Silvie's friend Chris Garrison.

* Alex Dueben talks to Joelle Jones and Ann Nocenti. JK Parkin talks to Paul Cornell. Michael Cavna talks to Simon Tofield.

* not comics: I don't know if sending you there a few days after it was posted changes the offers made or the promotion discussed, but Kate Beaton endorses a Canada-centric book effort.

* go, look a pair of themed rooms.

* I guess some comics fans are upset that a movie was developed from a graphic novel that may or may not actually be an existing graphic novel? I think that's what this means. I don't know, Hollywood is so engorged with bullshit it's hard for me to settle on one thing as beyond the pale.

* finally, DC apparently introduced a transgender character into one of its comics recently. At this point it's less difficult to imagine a transgender character in a DC superhero comic book than it is to tacitly engage with a conservative baseline against which this kind of thing becomes news.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Patrick Larme!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Sam Peeters!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Robert Luedke!

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April 14, 2013


Six Things The Comics People I Know Are Talking About

image1. Comics Festivals and Conventions.
We now have enough conventions that an aggressive festival schedule could provide someone with a show worth traveling to every two or three weeks from March to September. This is astonishing to me. There's a lot of practical chatter about which shows to attend, and why, and what shows at which one can sell, and how. Nearly everyone to whom I speak in comics these days feels like the shows are important in some way, even if it doesn't necessarily line up with their specific role in comics. The show about which there seems the biggest baseline curiosity? CAKE.

2. Money.
The basic shape of these conversations seems to be alternating between cartoonists not having any idea at all how they might make more money for themselves and a general, dawning horror that most people in comics probably make a lot less money than we might of thought using standard constructions for exploring these issues. In other words, a lot of people are broke and worried, but they're pretty sure they're not the only ones.

3. Comics Schools.
There are more people than ever out there that went to comics schools or established comics programs, enough that they have a presence unto themselves and that they've also caught the attention of those that don't have any schooling in comics at all. I've talked to maybe a dozen people in the last 10 days that are out-loud wondering if those educations have the value that their bottom-line costs indicate. It's not an aggressively negative appraisal, like one that needs to be defended; I think it's more that it's an idea that is largely removed from the experiences of a lot of cartoonists to the point where they're just of naturally curious about how those schools might work and to what ultimate end. There's also this interesting strain of people outright celebrating the virtues of such programs completely divorced from vocational concerns.

4. That Time Dan Nadel Saw A UFO
Captured on camera here.

5. Community
It's not the buzzword it was three years ago, but I've had a few reasonably sophisticated, lengthy to the point of being fulsome conversations about building on a strength of recent comics history: that there are a lot of nice people out there willing to support and engage with one another in a way that improves the worthwhile qualities of working either in or proximity to the comics medium. That's a conversation that needs continued development. Everyone's pro-community, but building one of meaning and value is a lot harder than declaring one con's afterparty the most awesome experience ever or to bask in the glow of a recent convention. There's also a danger that one may get so wrapped up in an idea of common causes and bonds of friendship that a community becomes a closed circle in a way that doesn't encourage audience-building and engaging others with your art.

6. Kim Thompson
A significant number of people have expressed continued concern about the health of Fantagraphics co-publisher and all around super-talented good guy Kim Thompson.
 
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Go, Look: A Katsyua Teruda Story

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Go, Look: Adventures Into Terror #11

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Go, Look: Arcticomic

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Go, Look: Paper Rocket Minicomics

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Go, Look: Blacksad Art Mini-Gallery

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

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

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Happy 64th Birthday, Dave Gibbons!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, David Reddick!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Chuck Dixon!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Katsuhiro Otomo!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Gerhard!

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FFF Results Post #331 -- One For The Wall

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Pieces Of Original Art You'd Want To Own If You Were The Only Person In The World Allowed To Have Original Art So You Could Get Whatever You Wanted." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Any Page At All From Kirby's Big Thor Vs. Hercules Battle
2. The Chris Ware Superman Goes Splat Page
3. Any Gilbert Hernandez One-Pager
4. That Speedy Ortiz Visits People After Dying Page, From Jaime
5. An Original Barnaby Where Gorgon Talks

*****

Scott Cederlund

1. A page of Gilbert Hernandez's clouds from Julio's Day
2. Any war story page drawn by Harvey Kurtzman
3. Matt Wagner's Mage Interlude (Grendel #17?) where Kevin Matchstick first shows up in the story.
4. Any Alex Toth romance page from a Standard comic
5. The Bill Sienkiewicz page from Elektra Assassin that's an homage to Kirby's Glory Boat page from New Gods.

*****

Rob Salkowitz

1. Just about any classic Spirit splash page from 1948-50 (River of Crime, P'Gell, Life Below, etc.)
2. Anything from Dr Strange's battle with Dormamu by Ditko that takes place in Dormamu's dimension
3. That silent seduction page from Steranko's Nick Fury #2 that ends with the shot of the gun in the holster
4. Crumb's haunting portrait of Robert Johnson
5. Any great Alex Toth action page

*****

JE Cole

1: The double page spread of Tetsuo Shima confronting Akira in the wreckage of Neo Tokyo after its accidental second destruction at the boy-gods hands
2: All the pages from the final Jim Lee-Chris Claremont X-Men issue (Adjectiveless X-Men #3)
3: "He didn't think it too many" page from Slaine The King by Glenn Fabry.
4: A single page from Richard Corben's Den. If only to prove that they still exist.
5 : The double page spread by John Totleben from Miracleman #15 which has the titular character wailing in the center of a London destroyed by the psychopathic madman Kid Miracleman.

*****

Jamie S. Rich

1. Bill Sienkiewicz's cover from the obscure Eclipse comic Phaze
2. Page 1 (or any really) from Pat McEown's "Wanted Man" story from Dark Horse Presents #130
3. Jaime Hernandez's "Death Tales" one-pager
4. The last one-page comic in Adrian Tomine's original Optic Nerve minis
5. The last page of Grendel #9, by the Pander Bros.

*****

Richard Thompson

1- Any bust of a politician by Daumier.
2- Any of Ronald Searle's drawings of Toulouse Lautrec
3- Any Pogo strips where they sing Christmas carols.
4- A Krazy Kat that features violent changes of weather (wind, rain, etc. I'm not pick. Though I 'd prefer a Sunday).
5- A Pogo strip that has a brief, cryptic-yet-graceful reference to Kelly's late daughter, Kathryn Barbara.

*****

Josh Leto

1. The Frazetta cavemen cover from Weird Science Fantasy
2. Superman "kills" Batman page from Dark Knight Returns
3. Jim Vol. 2 #1 cover by Jim Woodring (Frank in the lily pond)
4. The Punk Rock Concert cover of Love and Rockets by Jaime
5. The Jack Davis Spalding ad with Dr. J ("Street Ball")

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Page 6 of Fantastic Four #50, when Johnny returns from the end of the universe (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Joe Sinnott)
2. Page 1 of Detective Comics #475 (by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin)
3. The double-page splash (pp. 2-3) from New Teen Titans vol. 1 #39 (by Marv Wolfman and George Perez)
4. Green Arrow's big soliloquy from Green Lantern vol. 2 #76 (by Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams,and Dick Giordano)
5. Any late-period Calvin & Hobbes Sunday page (by Bill Watterson, of course)

*****

Matthew Allison

5 - One of the pages from the Official Marvel Try-Out book that Charles Burns inked over in Buzz.
4 - The cover to Dark Knight Returns issue #2.
3 - Pretty much any Ramona Fradon page from Metamorpho the Element Man.
2 - Brian Bolland's Four Dark Judges double page pin-up
1 - Kirby's double splash page(s) from New Gods #5.

*****

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Des Devlin

* Will Elder, "Visiting the Grandparents" (parody of the 1950s Beer belongs goodwill print campaign) (MAD #27)
* Gilbert Shelton, "When I Set My Chickens Free"
* Gluyas Williams, Coney Island
* Al Jaffee, Christmas decorations (Humbug #6)
* Neal Adams cover (Batman #251)

*****

Chris Beckett

When I think of comic art and the comics that really stick with me, I always think of the covers rather than a specific interior page because it was the book itself that really resonated with me. So all of my original art pieces would be covers from important books.

1) cover for Flash #323 by Carmine Infantino - the Flash was "my" superhero and Infantino was my Flash artist and this cover showcases best the distinct manner with which Infantino drew super speed. Gorgeous!
2) cover for G.I. Joe #23 - this was the first comic I remember buying that started my now quarter-century + collection and it will always have a special place in my collection
3) cover for Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 - George Perez was the superhero artist whose work rose above the rest, and this cover, which included the death of my favorite superhero is the iconic Crisis cover, for me.
4) cover for Sandman #8 (mini-series) - I would welcome any piece of art from Dave McKean, but to have the art from the first issue of Sandman - a defining series in my comic reading history - that I ever bought would be unreal.
5) cover for From Hell #1 - Alan Moore is my favorite comic writer and From Hell is, to me, the pinnacle of his oeuvre. and Eddie Campbell's art in this was revelatory. So, the cover from that first issue (I can still picture it on the shelf the day I walked into my local shop and first discovered it, having no idea Moore & Campbell were working on this) would easily be the crown jewel of my collection.

*****

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Tim O'Neil

1. The last page of Cerebus #231
2. The page from Louis Riel where Riel talks to God.
3. Anything from Brian Chippendale's Ninja.
4. The last page of "Jeepers Jacobs."
5. Page #37 of Marvel Two-In-One Annual Annual #7.

*****

Sean Kleefeld

1. The cover of Fantastic Four #254
2. The double page spread in Batman #237 showing the Rutland Halloween Parade
3. "Stupid, stupid rat creatures!!"
4. Any Jack Kirby/Joe Sinnott collaboration
5. Any of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Wonderland

*****

Scott Dunbier

FFF Original Art #1: Golden Age Covers
* Frank Frazetta, Famous Funnies #213 Cover
* Harvey Kurtzman, Two-Fisted Tales #25 Cover
* Reed Crandall, National Comics #26 Cover
* Wally Wood, Weird Science #16 Cover
* Mac Raboy, Master Comics #27 Cover

FFF Original Art #2: Comic Strips
* Robert Crumb, A Short History of America (Original version)
* Charles Schulz, Peanuts daily from October 2, 1950
* Hal Foster, Prince Valiant Sunday from June 19, 1938
* Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Sunday with them wearing sunglasses and dancing
* EC Segar, The Popeye Sunday with Wimpy eating the cow

FFF Original Art #3: Complete Stories
* Bernie Krigstein, Master Race
* Alex Toth, Taps
* Robert Crumb, You Can't Have Them All: Magnificent Specimens I Have Seen
* Al Williamson, Food For Thought
* Barry Smith, Cimmeria, Land of Darkness and Night

FFF Original Art #4: Silver Age Covers
* Jack Kirby, Avengers #4 cover
* Jeff Jones, Wonder Woman #199 Cover
* Steranko, That Hulk Annual Cover with Hulk holding the logo
* Jack Kirby, Kamandi #1 Cover
* Barry Smith, Conan #24 Cover

FFF Original Art #5: Other stuff
* Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four Annual #1, two-page spread with Submariner
* Will Eisner, P'Gell splash, her lounging lounging
* Walt Simonson, Detective #442, Manhunter part 6, page 1
* Neal Adams, Green Lantern/Green Arrow #89, last page
* Frank Frazetta, Untamed Love splash page from Personal Love

*****

Michael F. Russo

1. R. Crumb's "A Short History of America"
2. The splash page introducing Reuben Flagg in "American Flagg" #1 (background depicts Mark Thrust program)
3. D.C. Comics Presents #3, page 24 Garcia-Lopez's Superman moves the Earth
4. Jean-Michel Basquiat's Pegasus (I think John McEnroe owns this)
5. Pages from Love & Rockets #24 depicting Maggie's first visit to Ray's apartment

*****

Danny Ceballos

1. Lynda Barry's painting of James Brown
2. Harvey Kurtzman's rough for the cover of MAD #1
3. Osamu Tezuka's cover image of Dororo for WEEKLY SHONEN SUNDAY #8, 1968
4. Jillian Tamaki's cover drawing of Everlasting Boy for Supermutant Magic Academy mini #1
5. R. Crumb's back cover for ZAP #1

*****

Chad Hanna

1. A Space Period Chester Gould Dick Tracy
2. Any Fontaine Fox Toonerville Folks Panel
3. R. Crumb's "Patton" story
4. Dave Sim and Gerhard's High Society "Phone Book" cover
5. Any of the final pages of Yves Chaland's Freddy Lombard "F.52" story

*****

Buzz Dixon

1. The Jehovah-like Pencil Sketch Jack Kirby Did Of His Grandfather That Was Hanging In His Living Room
2. Terry And The Pirates, Sunday Oct. 17, 1943 (http://hoodedutilitarian.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Caniff_speech_9_17_43.jpg)
3. Any Sunday Rick O'Shay where Hipshot Percussion talks to "the boss"
4. Vaughn Bode's cover for the February 1968 issue of Galaxy
5. Cerebus Throwing A Baby

*****

Stergios Botzakis

1. The last page of Spider-Man's origin from Amazing Fantasy #15
2. The last page of Daredevil #232 (Next: Armageddon)
3. Any page from Gilbert Hernandez's For the Love of Carmen
4. An action sequence page from Jaime Hernandez’s Whoa Nellie
5. Any page by Carl Barks with Uncle Scrooge swimming in his money bin

*****

John Platt

1. Any Will Eisner Spirit splash
2. The cover to Warren's Spirit magazine, issue 28
3. Any Rick Geary one-page strip
4. The cover to Mike Mignola's Hellboy: Conqueror Worm # 2
5. Every page of Promethea # 32 by J.H. Williams III -- plus a wall big enough to display it all.

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. The climax and also final page from "Master Race" by Bernie Krigstein http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PQJOnDHjSIk/UEI11aiWWuI/AAAAAAAAC2A/-R-2ke-USrk/s1600/bernardkrigstein-masterrace-page-008.jpg
2. That impressive Spread (Page 10/11) from "Frankenstein Alive, Alive" #2 by Bernie Wrightson http://www.steveniles.com/.a/6a0105352227a9970c017c32bffac9970b-popup
3. Any "Flash Gordon" page by Alex Raymond
4. The bizarre beauty captured in the sixth page of Kerasköet's "Jolies Ténèbres" /leseprobe.php?id=9783941099302&page=6
5. I think this is a page from Warren's "1984" magazine, drawn by Alex Nino. Anyway, I want it.

*****

Marc Arsenault

1. Pages 2-3 spread from Jack Kirby's New Gods #6 'Glory Boat'
2. Page 2 from the first Moebius Incal book
3. Harvey Kurtzman's cover rough for Mad #1
4. Page 5 of Showcase #4 by Carmine Infantino - the one with the floating food. I kept a xerox of the top panel by my desk for many years.
5. Saga of the Swamp Thing #23 page 16 by Bissette & Tottleben

*****

Scott Cederlund

1. A page of Gilbert Hernandez's clouds from Julio's Day
2. Any war story page drawn by Harvey Kurtzman
3. Matt Wagner's Mage Interlude (Grendel #17?) where Kevin Matchstick first shows up in the story.
4. Any Alex Toth romance page from a Standard comic
5. The Bill Sienkiewicz page from Elektra Assassin that's an homage to Kirby's Glory Boat page from New Gods.

*****

Shannon Smith

1) Any of Carmine Infantino's Star Wars covers. I'd probably grab #15 first.
2) Any of Joe Kubert's Tarzan covers.
3) Any of Gene Colan's Tomb of Dracula covers or pages.
4) A Peanuts strip featuring Lucy's psychiatric help stand.
5) A page from R. Crumb's The Book of Genesis. (Or maybe the back of the dust jacket.)

This was way too hard. I'd want some late 70s Kirby Marvel stuff too. Devil Dinosaur, 2001... how could you choose?

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. The cover of Love & Rockets #24 by Jaime Hernandez
2. That great Jack Kirby two-page spread from the first issue of Kamandi
3. Will Elder's splash page from "Starchie!"
4. The original art of that insanely detailed Batcave print Dick Sprang drew several years ago
5. Harvey Kurtzman's Times Square arcade

*****

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Jonathan Baylis

* The cover to Captain America 212 (actually up for auction next month!!!) - Kirby (you know the one, Tom)
* Cover to Swamp Thing 28 - Bissette/Totleben
* Marvel Team-Up #55 Splash Page - Byrne
* Any of those Tom Gauld Noah's ark pages from Kramer's Ergot
* any Master Race page - Krigstein

*****

Dave Knott

* A late 20's "Polly and Her Pals" Sunday strip by Cliff Sterrett, preferably the "night at the theatre" one
* Walt Simonson's cover for Thor #337
* Any page from Herge's "Tintin In Tibet"
* The Robert Crumb page where he kills off Fritz The Cat
* The last Doonesbury strip, after Garry Trudeau finally retires

*****
*****
 
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April 13, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


MegaCon 2013 Costumes Video




Video Of Comics From Some Guy's Comics Collection That I Could Watch For 87 Hours


Guy Shows Off His Adult Comics


Nice People Making A Video Diary Entry From Floor Of First Day Of WonderCon


Interview In French With Fred, Opens With Sketching


Sabrina Jones And Ethan Heitner Talk About World War 3 Illustrated
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from April 6 to April 12, 2013:

1. The Palestinian cartoonist Muhammad Saba'aneh was sentenced and fined by an Israeli court.

2. The comic book Saga #12 was not available via one of the digital platforms that people utilize to read comics these days, due to a comiXology interpretation of a panel involving an explicit sex act and how that might run up across Apple policy. After a flurry of negative reaction to this news, it was clarified that Apple had no objeciton at all and the book was to be made available that way.

3. MoCCA Festival 2013 ends in New York, the first year under the Society Of Illustrators banner.

Winners Of The Week
Gregory Benton fans.

Losers Of The Week
All of the other cartoonists until Building Stories cycles its way through an awards season.

Quote Of The Week
"Saba'aneh's family said the verdict was a relief as it would end the pressure of interrogation." -- Fars News Agency

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Journey Into Unknown Worlds #20

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

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If I Were In Tallahassee, 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 Somerville, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 54th Birthday, Herr Seele!

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Happy 57th Birthday, François Schuiten!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Dennis Janke!

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April 12, 2013


AdHouse Announces They'll Be Publishing Gregory Benton's MoCCA-Recognized B+F

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Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books announced earlier today that his company will work with French-language publisher Ca Et La to do a combined American/European edition of Gregory Benton's wordless comic B+F, one of the most discussed works at the recent MoCCA Festival and an inaugural winner of that festival's new awards program.

Pitzer and AdHouse were exhibiting across from Benton. "I think I was the first to purchase his B+F at the show, he wins the award, we both get home and sign a contract," Pitzer told CR. "I've always loved Gregory and his comics, so I'm pretty stoked to be doing this."

Although design considerations have yet to be nailed down, Pitzer is thinking the published version will be 64 pages, full color, hardcover and in the $20 range.

photos supplied by Pitzer
 
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Go, Look: Riika Auvinen

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They're Drinking Oven Cleaner At Fantagraphics Again

I don't usually link to sales, because a) who cares and b) ew, but at least this one comes with a nice animated gif.
 
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OTBP: Sacred Prism 2: Internet Comics

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Matt Bors Is America's Greatest Obituary Writer

Seriously.
 
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Go, Look: Reid Psaltis

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Collective Memory: MoCCA Fest 2013

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this article has been archived; please click through the image
 
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Go, Look: Art From I'll Be Damned #2-3

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

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

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Go, Look: The Devil's Ibistick

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* go, read: Chris Butcher on the manga market through the comic-shop prism.

image* Richard Bruton on The Bluecoats Vol. 6. Bart Croonenborghs on White Cube. Rob Clough on a bunch of various comics, and then another bunch of various comics. Todd Klein on Flash #18. Sean T. Collins on Operation Vaporizer. Don MacPherson on Buddy Cops. Grant Goggans on Indigo Prime: Anthropocalypse. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Benjamin Bear In Bright Ideas.

* Rob Salkowitz makes a cogent couple of points in his letter to CR about the Saga #12 imbroglio from earlier this week. He notes that comiXology was clearly interested in disseminating the material because of its easy availability on every platform but the one in questions, and suggests that the policy via which it was temporarily unavailable through that channel is purposeful strategy rather than unfortunate result.

* not comics: I forgot to post a link to this article on writer-about-video-games Gus Mastrapa taking a step back when his child was born and wondering how that would have an impact on his relationship to that medium. That's an idea I've seen applied to comics, although maybe not as directly.

* finally, Johanna Draper Carlson notes that the relaunched Quantum And Woody won't have Christopher Priest writing it and therefore she has little to no interest in the project.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, J. Scott Campbell!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Gary Martin!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Troy Nixey!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Tanino Liberatore!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Tim Sievert!

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April 11, 2013


Go, Look: Nick Edwards

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Jim Rugg Asks A Question About Comics Sales

The cartoonist, designer and podcaster about comics Jim Rugg wrote in to ask about a recent podcast on which I appeared talking about the sales of comics. His letter:
I found your thoughts on building comics' audience interesting. I wonder if we've entered an age, where all three of the scenarios you describe are all possible:
1. Building casual fans (Time-Warner and Disney with their brand licensing approach)
2. Building passionate customers (which I think is something comic book shows and online efforts like your site, tcj.com, and individual sites and blogs and podcasts all support - I think this is ultimately up to the individual, and now days, there is enough quality content that if a person discovers comics and has a passionate reaction to the form, we as creators and professionals and fans/customers can all support and welcome that new convert)
3. Organizing comics in terms of individual content rather than under a collective "form," (I think a number of books and creators and publishers do this well, for instance, Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree has certainly found fans based on its content in addition to comics fans who find the cartooning appealing)
I think all of these strategies are possible and being supported by a wide variety of people and groups within our industry. I interpreted your comments to suggest one strategy may be superior to another, but from my perspective who cares because one strategy being adopted by one group doesn't really impact the other strategies, does it?
So let me respond.

I'm not sure if I'd describe one strategy as superior to another; that seems the kind competitive-to-binary way that arguments on the comics Internet move that gets us arguing definitions and reasonableness and what was just said and meant more than it get us talking about the actual issues involved.

The main distinctions I would make when it comes to arguing comics sales is that 1) I want policy and strategies that drives sales -- actual sales, as opposed to an indirect benefit; 2) I want policy and strategies that stand a better chance to see pay go to cartoonists and comics makers over one that doesn't. I think slow growth mechanisms that build on existing institutions are under-utilized given their historical effectiveness and speak to those two areas of a concern more than broader solutions might.

And yes, I do think that some entities pursuing different strategies can come at the expense of those kind of slow-growth strategies. I think businesses can emphasize policies that favor things like market share and publicity and chasing after specific properties and their well-being because of some concern outside of publishing over making a healthier industry where more people are paid more frequently over a longer period of time. I would kill for Marvel to become a better industry citizen; they're already awesome at being a public corporation.

So basically, short form, I would like more energy and resources focused on driving attention to things like opening more shops, say, as opposed to placing articles in USA Today or whatever. I think companies have limited resources to do these things, and I would prefer to see them spent in a way that builds on what we know drives money into creators' pockets not because that's better, but because I think there's an opportunity there. I think paying creators and investing in the art form itself makes for better art over time, and is fair besides. That doesn't mean I don't love all the other strategies, and I realize that opens me up to attacks of "he just wants comics to remain a little thing." It's more like I think comics -- the actual comics -- are for the most part a niche art form the way all art forms not maybe movies and TV and video games are now, and that once you realize that it may be better to find 200,000 more readers and 50 great comics shops than it is to create 2,000,000 people that know who Iron Man and a rack of five comic book at 200 Wal-Marts. Or at least the former shouldn't be ignored for the latter.

So no, Jim, it's not hard and fast, but I like the see the baseline emphasis change. More readers. More buyers. More for comics-makers. Creators not corporations. Books not brands. And so on.
 
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Chris Ware Wins Lynd Ward Prize For Building Stories

imagePenn State University has announced via press release that Building Stories by Chris Ware won the Lynd Ward Prize For Graphic Novel Of The Year 2013.

Two honor books were also named, from -- in an exciting way -- works from relatively young cartoonists: Heads Or Tails, Lilli Carré (Fantagraphics); The Understand Monster Vol. 1, Theo Ellsworth (Secret Acres).

Ware will receive a cash prize of $2500 and the Library Of America Lynd Ward set, and the school plans to honor him in an event later this year.

You can juror quotes on the books at the release available through the above link. The jurors were Dr. Adam Haley (jury chair), Sadie Buckallew, Amanda Clossen, Dr. Michael Jay Green and J. Jeff Ungar -- all members of the PSU academic community that have employed graphic novels in their work.
 
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Go, Read: Today's Comic That People Keep Sending Me

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One Last Round Of News On The Saga #12 Saga

The writer Brian K. Vaughan released a statement -- The Beat has it here -- apologizing for a release he sent out regarding comiXology and the comic book Saga #12. That's kind of him, but I think it was wholly unnecessary. I hope people will take it in the spirit that it was offered rather than use it to grind on various talking points, but I'm not encouraged that will be the case.

I have to say, I seriously don't understand the attention to semantics with the way this story has wrapped up. I'm about as self-lacerating as they come, I wake up in the morning shouting "I'm sorry," but if Apple has a policy that led comiXology to interpret the content as inappropriate, I think that's a stupid policy and it's fine if Apple is made to own that. It's great to hear it was a overly conservative misinterpretation, and even greater to hear that the comic will be made available, but it's also shitty that it happened in the first place. It's not like this was pulled from the ether as some sort of phantom issue -- that comic was temporarily not available because of a policy that concerns itself with cartoon boners. That's bad.

Further, I think it's awesome that everyone paid close attention to this. It's an important issue given the dominance of certain players in that market, and there's no better use for journalism than to point at something that's wrong in a way that focuses attention on it until it's changed/rectified/readjusted. It may have been rectified without the extra attention, but I'm not sure we know that for certain. Mostly, though, anyone that interprets the clumsy negotiation of a potentially troubling content policy by a corporate entity as some sort of failure to make sure that the PR image of involved business is treated with some perceived level of demanded respect is a scary person. Fuck that. Question everything. Tiny boners 4-ever.

It also occurs to me that another way to look at this story is in part a tribute to how quickly Saga has swelled to first-class comics status.
 
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Go, Look: Antony Huchette

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this weekend it's SPACE in Columbus, Ohio -- American's next great comics city.

* here's a round-up of news from that Fables-Con event a couple of weeks ago. I'm intrigued by the thought of specific-property conventions and specific-creator conventions.

* here's a Dundee Comics Expo report.

* I missed this from a while back: the writer Brian Bendis on a then-recent store signing. I'm all for store signings.

* in case you missed it a while back and in case I forgot to put it into a Random News between its appearance and this column, the second wave of guests announced for that Minneapolis show Autoptic is pretty great. Minneapolis is one of our fine comics cities and one of the regional arts centers to reckon with more generally, and it should have a cool show every damn year. The number of shows one can attend in a calendar year, by the way, is becoming ridiculous, particularly if you love the superheroes and the alt-comics with some degree of fervor.

* I nearly missed this Chris Pitzer photo gallery from the Asbury Park show.

* I never linked to this cartoon from back in the early days of the "frustration with SPX over the exhibitor sign-up" thing. I think everyone understands and has great sympathy for how aggravating that kind of thing can be.

* finally, here's a festival in Poland I've never heard of -- or I've heard of and then forgotten. It would be a wonderful thing to attend a comics show in Poland, I think, although depending on the festival maybe the charms of that would be lost on all but a few of us.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: More Larry Reynolds Cartoons

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you won't see anything better in comics today than this photo of Herr Seele.

image* Joe Gordon on Medusa. Greg McElhatton on Batman #19.

* not comics: Matt Bors drew some gamers. Dylan Horrocks has a photo-driven Tumblr.

* it's kind of surprising that Hank Pym has never really worked at Marvel Comics. If you think about it, they've been jacking with that guy character-wise from almost the very beginning: Stuck-At-10-Foot Mopey Goliath was basically a different character than Giant-Man/Ant Man.

* Alan Gardner drives our attention to a GoComics.com tribute to the late Roger Ebert.

* here's a piece on the reclusive nature of Calvin And Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. I'm not sure that I understand anyone being baffled by a guy that would apparently just like to be left alone. What about being a public celebrity is more awesome than being a private one?

* finally, Corey Blake flatters some gasbag from a podcast by talking about issues raised in a recent podcast about selling more comics. I think that Blake's description of my view is close enough for his response essay to be fair and raise some interesting issues.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Matt Kindt!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Scott O. Brown!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Michael Rhode!

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April 10, 2013


Go, Look: A Noel Sickles Facebook Gallery

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David Steinberger Updates On Saga #12 Availability

Here. I don't really follow the semantic/rhetorical elements of the statement all that well, but you know, I don't really have an investment in those elements, either. If Apple's policies are such that a partner could interpret them that way, they're potentially pretty stupid. If comiXology had been right in making that interpretation, we could say with greater confidence that they're stupid; since they were not right in making that interpretation, it seems they are less stupid than originally feared. I'm all for less stupid. Like I wrote in the initial post down the page, I don't think the fact the sex was gay was ever an issue as a serious component of this except that it was potentially remarkable that the panels were even singled out so I understand the concern. But, since it looks like comiXology is the one that interpreted the rules, I can see them actually being that close of a reader of such material.

Anyway, the should be available soon in the way that it was not, and any lingering fear about the issue's content can be allayed. That's a fine ending to the story. No lingering harm, no lingering foul, and we can all go back to normal and stop posting about boners. Hopefully, there will be no delays in future releases, and this accommodation of this particular comic will be an example of how that policy works going in the other direction.
 
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Ed Fisher, RIP

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Go, Read: The CBLDF On Why Selling Saga #12 Isn't Actionable And Is In Fact Well-Protected

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has an important post up here derived from news yesterday that Apple won't carry the Image comic book Saga #12 on one of their services because of two panels apparently involving explicit sex between two gay characters.

I honestly don't have any idea whether or not the panels came to the attention of the folks that decided not to carry it solely because of their explicit nature or some combination of that explicit nature and it being expressed through a scene including gay characters. I strongly, strongly suspect that it's solely the explicit nature of those panels, with the only counter-argument that lends credence to the other side being that you have to be the goddamn comics art super-detective to suss this out if you aren't checking that scene for reasons other than completely rational, non-biased, non-judgmental boner-huntage. Honestly, though, I don't give a shit. I think it's really dumb not to carry something because of that, just roll your eyes out of your head dumb, and I further don't have any patience for values that leap right to the language being used in expressing disdain for the act of restriction over the implications of that act of restriction. I mean, come on: that kind of rhetorical judo is 20 years old now. I certainly hope that if pressure is applied in the direction of that company they will reverse their decision in this specific case and review the policy. It seems very 1980s culture war.

The fact that we have to reassure people that they won't be prosecuted for selling a comic with tiny boners in it to adults that I'm going to guess have either seen or are at least comfortable with the concept of boners in the context of a story they've decided to enjoy seems to me an almost crystal-clear, real-world example of the dangers of restricting access to this material as a business decision because of some goofy-ass policy.
 
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Go, Look: Jacques Pyon

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Detained Palestinian Cartoonist Sentenced And Fined

Someone forwarded to me a wire story found here that says the detained Palestinian cartoonist Muhammad Saba'aneh has been sentenced to several months in jail and asked to be paid a fine on a charge in Israeli court of consorting with "enemy entities." He had been picked up after a border crossing in mid-February.

The devastating thing in that article may be that the family is actually relieved by the progression of the case out of the interrogation phase. The cartoonist is well-known for his political cartoon work in that region; no strong connection between that work and this prosecution has been established.
 
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Go, Look: Comics By Bill Walton

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Go, Look: The Pathology Of Nowhere

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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.

*****

JAN131096 UNICO GN $34.95
I'll walk back any and all confusion I have about name publishers -- even minor name publishers -- working through crowd-funding tools if it means that we get the occasional handsome-looking, full-color Osamu Tezuka book. This isn't work with which I'm at all familiar, but it's awfully cute looking, and Tezuka's pages are almost always a joy in one way or the other just in terms of the visual language and staging he employs.

imageOCT120439 BRINGING UP FATHER HC VOL 02 CABBAGES & KINGS $49.99
JAN120420 WILL EISNER SPIRIT ARTIST ED HC PI
DEC120503 STEVE CANYON HC VOL 03 1951-1952 $49.99
It's only my inability to keep things on the brain for more than a few minutes at a time that keeps me from declaring this The Greatest Week In IDW Publishing History, what with three archival volumes to die for. I quite enjoy Bringing Up Father the more that I read it, the Artist Editions series always yields positive results, and I quite enjoy the first ten years or so of Steve Canyon whenever I encounter it.

FEB130027 1 FOR $1 MIND MGMT #1 $1.00
DEC120059 MIND MGMT HC VOL 01 $19.99
I like the idea of releasing $1 promotional issues at the same time as a collection; I would buy the one-dollar version for sure were I still a frequent comics-shop patron.

JAN130325 TINY TITANS TP VOL 08 AW YEAH TITANS $12.99
DC's best and most consistent comics offering over the last 15 years was the Tiny Titans effort partly collected here. Every parent I know that has given them to a kid has reported back to me with positives, and that's not always the case with any comic book let alone one with as aggressive a baseline as kid superhero books.

FEB130461 SAGA #12 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
FEB130463 SEX #2 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
FEB130179 CONSTANTINE #2 $2.99
FEB130477 AGE OF ULTRON #5 $3.99
OCT120680 SECRET SERVICE #6 (MR) $4.99
JAN130720 HAWKEYE #9 $2.99
This is an interesting book of genre comics in the classic comic book format. The Saga was banned for distribution by one of the Apple services, which is horrifically stupid but puts a great deal of focus on that title. The first issue of the Joe Casey-written Sex intrigued me for its pacing and evocation of 1980s independent comics. I thought the first issue of the revamped John Constantine vehicle Constantine was pretty awful, but I bet it had its fans; it's interesting to watch that roll-out from a mainstream perspective given how little magic-using characters seem to matter in those universes anymore. We see the latest issue of the current Marvel event and the last issue of the latest Mark Millar effort, already in heavy pre-production for a film. Finally, Hawkeye is the most reliable of the well-crafted superhero comics on the stands right now.

JAN131012 VALERIAN GN VOL 01 CITY OF SHIFTING WATERS $11.95
I'm a big fan of Jean-Claude Mezieres -- and writer Pierre Christin, for that matter -- so translated work from the old days (early 1970s Pilote comics) is something that would get me to the comics shop to take a look, no matter what.

OCT121084 EC JACK DAVIS TAINT MEAT ITS HUMANITY HC $28.99
OCT121087 EC WILLIAMSON 50 GIRLS 50 & OTHER STORIES HC $28.99
If you stop and think about, the fact that some people are excited about getting into these organized-by-artist volume because they have little to no exposure to those works and the fact that other people are complaining about the size and some of the scanning issues while standing around at cons means that these comics still matter, at least to hardcore fans. I think they look great, and I enjoy these comics for what they are as opposed to how they were seen in the miserable context of 1950s mainstream comic books. I'd buy the Williamson before the Davis, but I think most people I know prefer the Davis.

*****

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 Santa Barbara, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: A Georges Pichard Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* The Comics Journal has trimmings from a Carmine Infantino interview they did while I was there in the mid-1990s, that he asked be held until after his passing. They also have a Greg Stump news story featuring the late Silver Age icon. One of the cool things about doing a TCJ interview is that it made it easy for a while to work with figures we just interviewed on news stories.

image* Kelly Thompson on Birds Of Prey #18. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Pluto Vol. 4, Julio's Day and Indestructible Hulk #6. Chris Mautner looks at a bunch of comics.

* not comics: for some reason, this news of Adam Ant launching a tour in close proximity to Comic-Con International cracks me up. I would imagine, though, that you'll see a lot of similar attempts to draft behind comics-related events given how well they've been doing.

* Nat Gertler suggests that I could be totally wrong in asserting yesterday that the Foglios could have avoided a recent loss of rights to a bunch of prose books through a publisher's bankruptcy through better contract-making. I could definitely wrong -- I honestly don't know -- which makes this kind of thing even more disturbing although less that kind of disturbing where you can point at someone or a situation and vent some rage. I'll put it on the list of things I'll look into at some point, but let's assume for the moment that I screwed that one up until I know more.

* Bill Baker talks to Nimue Brown and Tom Brown. Tim O'Shea talks to Michael Kaluta.

* finally, just to give this random news offering a little symmetry, I enjoyed this post from Mark Evanier on Carmine Infantino.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Bill Marks!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Jacques Loustal!

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Happy 56th Birthday, James Hudnall!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Scott Hampton!

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April 9, 2013


Go, Listen: Talking To Tim Young About Comics Sales

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I spoke to Tim Young at the Deconstructing Comics podcast here about comics expanding its business base, getting more asses into seats. I think that's a good conversation to have, although it's a difficult one, too. I'm not sure that I have any answers, and I'm probably pretty hilarious in a Nelson Muntz point-and-laugh way trying to talk about broad business concerns at 6 in the morning or whenever the hell we did it. It was a couple of weeks ago.

I do feel pretty strongly about one element of my basic take on such issues, though: building an audience for comics may be as much about adding 200,000 passionate customers than 20 million casual ones, primarily because I like business models where money goes to the creators involved as opposed to a) no money going to those people, b) money going elsewhere outright, c) some sort of cultural capital being raised in which the creator may not be able to participate when it's finally cashed in, and I'm a little more confident a devoted audiences gets creators to that place in more efficient and rewarding fashion. In other words, I'm more interested in people actually buying comics as opposed to there being an abstract audience of comics buyers, and I'm not sure this is always a distinction people make. In fact, I think there was a time in comics culture where that didn't matter to comics fans, where they'd rather people just stop making fun of comics more than they wanted more people purchasing them. To put it yet another way: I think there are models that build audiences for creators and I think there are models that build awareness of brands; I don't have much use for the latter.

Also worth asking is whether or not we're in a time when organizing things by "comics" is a fruitful pursuit at all, if we're not all better off building an audience for individual things rather than an entire medium. I very much doubt Tim and I talked about that, though, because we'd still probably be on the phone.
 
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Go, Look: The Bristol Board

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The Foglios Lose Prose Novel Rights In Publisher Collapse

Paul Constant, who in my perfect universe would be able to write about comics all of the time whether or not he wanted to, catches up to a publishing story regarding a non-comics iteration of a comics property that I guess Rich Johnston originally ran. Apparently, Phil and Kaja Foglio did not have a workable rights reversion on a series of books regarding the Girl Genius character and milieu so that when the publisher collapsed and its assets were transferred, they have to sort of accept the new contract that will be offered, and it's a shitty one. So that's terrible. I'm sorry to hear this.

Anyway, I know that the usual set of reactions when you hear about things like this is to either rage at the situation or to cross one's arms and give a mini-lecture of obtaining better contracts. I have to think, though, that a) there's a way this could be worked out if folks were willing, b) it really is useful to remember this kind of thing when putting together future contracts, but you actually have to do that as opposed to just using that construction as something with which to beat on the original people that didn't obtain that thing. At any rate, it's something you should take note of, and apply the lessons accordingly. I hope something can be worked out.
 
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Still Maybe The Best Superpower Of Them All

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Go, Look: Heroes Of Our Youth

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I missed this when it first appeared a couple of weeks back, but Stuart Immonen posted these pages from Russian Olive To Red King, the long-simmering and I believe still-forthcoming book with the talented writer Kathryn Immonen. I look forward to that one. I don't know that it has found a publisher yet, but I have to imagine more than a few publishers would love to work with them. I'm working with a computer with a screen the size of a toy dog, so if the above is slightly out of focus that's on me, and I apologize. Go look at it through the link.

image* I also missed that there's apparently a cover for the long-anticipated Susan Alston book on her relationship with Dave Sim. I have to imagine that will be powered through by a lot of people that won't admit to reading it. I'm also happy to see that the fax machine play a prominent role, as I've long maintained that Sim is the greatest faxer in comics history.

* it's hard to imagine more welcome news on a Tuesday morning than a forthcoming Jeffrey Brown book from Top Shelf.

* a future Crow project teaser.

* here's the apparent latest from SelfMadeHero.

* I'm glad Joe McCulloch caught this, because I sure didn't -- PictureBox has some of the Decadence Comics available for sale. Those kinds of partnership may become increasingly key as direct mailing from places not the US to the US and vice-versa becomes increasingly cost-ineffective.

* there's a bunch of good-looking stuff made available recently through Domino.

* finally, I almost missed this, but D+Q will be doing an edition of Anders Nilsen's Rage Of Poseidon this Fall.

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Go, Look: An Ivo Milazzo Facebook Gallery

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Go, Look: Bill Sienkiewicz New Mutants Character Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

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I don't have a bunch of links this morning, but something sort-of funny and potentially interesting occurred to me about a superhero comic book. Is it my imagination, or has Marvel's Cyclops actually become a pretty good character for that company? It seems that way. I don't know, I don't read a ton of those comics. But the former square-jawed honor student becoming a stone-cold terrorist kind of works in those comics, or at least it seems to. I'm sure there's a more than significant chance they'll back away from it after a while, if they haven't already.

One reason why that struck me as interesting despite not being a close-watcher of X-Men comic books is I that I suspect one reason this has worked for them is something that doesn't usually result in an advantage: a bunch of different writers adding elements and taking away from them with a character like that over a long period of time. In other words, we're talking accretion rather than a constant return to first principles. Doesn't that make sense that should be kind of interesting, this kind of grind and push and pull and what that does to various characters? Because it seems to me it rarely does. I'm not sure why that is. Part of it may be that these characters also work over time because of the power of their original conception, exacerbated by the fact that Jack Kirby was a foundational comics creator that frequently tapped into great ideas in a way that his were often the most powerful conceptions.
 
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Happy 130th Birthday To The Great Frank King

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Happy 58th Birthday, Fabio Civitelli!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Ashley Holt!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Frank Young!

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April 8, 2013


Go, Look: Dylan Williams Reporter

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Your 2013 MoCCA Fest Award Of Excellence Winners

According to what I was able to piece together Saturday night from various intoxicated people and had confirmed through this tweet, the MoCCA Festival named its first Award Of Excellence honorees after a 6 PM meeting the first day of the show. The winners were:

* Simon Arizpe
* Greg Benton
* Kim Ku
* Jane Mai
* Nick Offerman
* Kenan Rubenstein
* Andrea Tsurumi

I've been told since that one of those may have been more of an honorable mention, but I don't know which one. The panel of judges was David Mazzucchelli, Gary Groth, Paul Pope, Nora Krug and Karen Berger. The panelists had the work for about a week to look at it on its own, which was a suggestion made by Gary Groth as opposed to an original strategy of finding stuff at the show.

The Benton book in particular was much talked about on the floor of the show.
 
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Go, Look: Tintin Page

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OTBP: Sonatina #2

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A Belated Congratulations To Tucker And Nina Stone

I'm told the reason I didn't see Tucker Stone all weekend was because he and wife Nina were at home with a new child, so congratulations to them. I can't recall any other critics pairing being able to announce a child before, although I always held out hope for Jog and Chris Mautner.
 
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Go, Look: A Wordless Dick Ayers Comic

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FFF Results Post #330 -- Vertical Love

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Books Or Series From Vertical That You'd Recommend." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Ode To Kirihito
2. MW
3. The Book Of Human Insects
4. Dororo
5. Twin Spica Series

*****

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Chris Opinsky

1. The Book of Human Insects
2. MW
3. To Terra
4. Black Jack
5. Dororo

*****

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Dave Knott

* Knights of Sidonia
* Black Jack
* Twin Spica
* Peepo Choo
* Buddha

*****

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Jason Green

1. Paradise Kiss
2. Twin Spica
3. To Terra...
4. Black Jack
5. Chi's Sweet Home

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Message to Adolf
2. Book of Human Insects
3. Black Jack
4. Buddha
5. Dororo

*****

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Justin J. Major

1) Ayako
2) Apollo's Song
3) Black Jack
4) Buddha
5) Dororo

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Dororo
2. Twin Spica
3. Princess Knight
4. Black Jack
5. Book of Human Insects

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Crockett Johnson Tagged On Tumblr

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* this nice person sent me a link to their Kickstarter, a comic called GYR. Seems pretty straight-forward to me. The nice thing is when you send one of these long-running campaigns I can cut and paste it and run it on multiple column days.

* I'm not sure how far along it is at this point -- I'm doing this link back in March -- but a Jason Lutes crowd-funder intrigued me enough to run links in a few columns 1 2 3 and I don't do that a whole lot.

* to re-run one from last week: Reading Frenzy isn't a comics store as much as it is a 'zine and small-publications, but I certainly bought comics and comics-related things when I lived in the Pacific Northwest and I generally found it a swell store. Here's a crowd-funder they're doing. It's hard to imagine Portland without it.

* Rob Kirby suggested this already-successful crowd-funder might be of interest to folks.

* Henry Chamberlain has a crowd-funder going here; he says it's his first, but not likely his last.

* this international effort from Turkey will end its run on Kickstarter by the time of next week's column.

* finally, I think this is the last time I can run the Tripwire crowd-funder.

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

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Go, Look: How To Draw 1000 Funny Faces

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Happy 35th Birthday, Kazu Kibuishi!

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there's a really good article at The Beat here about the ability of creators to secure reversion rights from Tokyopop on properties they created and supplied the company before it stopped being a full-time publisher and became the kind of publisher with properties that might drive a movie deal or two or occasional mini-flourish of new publishing efforts -- at best. It's really scary that so many people went blithely and, at times, even arrogantly down this path and are now just as screwed as anyone who worked in times where there were no other options. I'm glad they call bullshit on one or two of the public claims regarding individual negotiations, too.

image* Sean T. Collins on Black Is The Color. Rob Kirby on more mini-comics/stand-alones. Paul Di Filippo on Hand-Drying In America.

* Lauren Davis on Dylan Horrocks.

* I never read these articles about mainstream comics I should be reading, but I think that construction is pretty interesting, that there's this thing going on out there and we should be on board, that there's an experience we should be having.

* the emphasis on art and toys in this comics and comics-related stuff collection seems to underplay an impressive number of shelves.

* Carla Hoffman writes about Marvel's robots. I just sort of liked writing that sentence.

* finally, I'm always interested when Robert Boyd writes about comics. Here's one on his recent original art show, and here's a set of reviews.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Andrew Langridge!

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April 7, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Bob Fingerman

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*****

imageI have a lot of fond memories of Bob Fingerman from the mid-1990s when the publication of his Minimum Wage series coincided in rough fashion with my run as an editor at another Fantagraphics effort, The Comics Journal. I liked that his comics engaged with sex, and that they found other ways to depict attractive people that didn't depend on 1950s gag cartoon standards and that the New York he described in his books seemed to match up with the city as I experienced it on twice-yearly visits. I enjoyed Bob's company at comics shows like San Diego, and we've stayed friendly since. I was really happy to see that Image Comics had published an immense hardcover of the Minimum Wage comics and all the extras as Maximum Minimum Wage. I think that it's work that deserves to be seen by a different generation of comics-readers, and as we talk about below, the fact that there's a market on television for shows about people in New York leaving lives of mostly comedy but significant tragedy blended in changes the potential context in which the work might be received. I'm grateful to Bob for his time. As is made clear in the initial exchange, we both kind of noodled on this a bit. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: You've been interviewed a lot for this book, and the story of how this project came together is out there in general terms. I wonder, though, if readers of this site know what happened that we suddenly have this giant Minimum Wage collection. Can you talk about how we got here?

BOB FINGERMAN: I don't want to get anyone in trouble... so I might need to see the transcript before it sees print, just for this question.

SPURGEON: I can work with you on that.

FINGERMAN: I don't have the unhealthiest ego. But I don't have a very, I think, big ego, either. So for me, Minimum Wage was kind of done. It was in the past. I wasn't thinking of doing a big, deluxe, shiny new version of it. [laughs] I was pitching a couple of projects to a publisher. I had a new series I was pitching, and it wasn't what they were looking for. The editor I was pitching to said, "You know what my favorite thing of yours is?" And I knew he was going to say. "Minimum Wage" And it was. So he suggested something like that would be an easier sell. The projects didn’t come to pass there, but it planted a seed to do a new edition.

I shot an e-mail to Robert Kirkman. Kirkman was a very enthusiastic fan of Minimum Wage. He used to send me fan mail back when he was still working in a light fixture warehouse, and he was just getting started, and he started to self-publish Battle Pope. He would send me issues of Battle Pope. He sent me these really nice fan letters, which I wish I could find so I could have included them in the book or put ’em up on the web site. I don't know why I can't find them, I can find all my other fan mail. But anyway, he'd always been a vociferous supporter... I'd seen him at comics conventions when people asked him, "What do you consider influences?" and he often mentioned Minimum Wage. And he and I are friendly. So I sent him an e-mail pitching him everything that had been put into my head and a little bit more. "I want to make this a big 9X12 hardcover. I want to include all of the comics. I want to include all of the covers. I want to include all of the pin-ups..." I really laid it on. About three hours later I got an e-mail back from Robert saying, "As a fan, I want this book to happen. So I'm going to make it happen."

It went from being a bad day to a very good day within a couple of hours, which isn't usually the way things pan out. [laughs]

So it's very nice. It's good to have a longtime fan and friend that's now one of the biggest names in the business.

SPURGEON: Robert is an interesting guy... you know, a chunk of his work right now seems oriented towards television. Is that a concern of yours, and of this partnership on this book? Was there a thought about re-presenting this work for that kind of market?

FINGERMAN: That's I want. I've already been talking about this with... my management, which sounds obnoxious or show-offy. I wanted this thing to be a TV series back when I was doing it in the '90s. I won't say it got close, but it was in the process. There was a very talented comedy writer I'm friendly with who almost was attached as show runner. When he became unavailable, that's when it collapsed. The thing is, the television landscape was very different in 1998. That's like a million years ago. Basic cable had not blossomed into the fertile, adventurous area it is now. There was nothing like Mad Men or Walking Dead or Justified. There are so many great shows being done on basic cable, let alone premium cable. Forget about the Internet: there was no such thing as streaming shows; no Netflix or Hulu. None of that. There weren't shows with the vibe of Minimum Wage. In a weird way I've always felt -- and this is going to sound egotistical -- that I was ahead of the curve. I'd gotten there too soon. It didn't really find its audience and then years passed and things like it came out and did well.

SPURGEON: What do you think of as works that are of a mind with Minimum Wage? What are its creative peers?

FINGERMAN: I think things like Girls and Louie. Those in particular come to mind. Both are set in New York, both are about struggling people, both balance comedy and drama. The thing about Minimum Wage is if I wanted one issue to be dramatic, like the abortion one, that was it. I could just go that way. Then I could do a comic-con issue and it would be funny. For me it was what served the story, the tone. On a show like Louie, he's done some episodes that are harrowing and some that are uproariously funny. His show is a bit more... in a way film-studenty, because he'll indulge himself with strange casting and go off on very surreal tangents. I did less of that. But it's a very grounded show. Except for little indulgences I think it's very grounded. So something like that gives me hope that a Minimum Wage series could happen now.

I don't know if you ever saw it... there was a British TV series called Spaced, with Simon Pegg?

SPURGEON: Oh, sure. Yeah.

FINGERMAN: That's one of my all-time favorite series. I doubt he and Edgar Wright have even heard of me, but in a weird way that show, Spaced, which came later than Minimum Wage, when I was watching that series I remember thinking it was close to the vibe I wanted. That show captured that phase of young people's lives, especially young people that are trying to be creative and find work in a creative field. The fact that Simon Pegg's character is an aspiring comic book artist... it went off in crazy, surreal directions... but it had a sensibility that made me jealous. "Man, the BBC will take some chances." If you can deliver a show on a low budget, they'll say go ahead and try because they're only making a six-episode commitment. I think they're a lot more willing -- at least in those days -- to take a chance. American TV has been prohibitively expensive. I think basic cable has changed that. Look at Louie's deal. Maybe his deal has changed, but I remember reading that so long as he delivered an episode for $250,000, which is nothing in TV terms, they would let him do whatever he wants.

I think the climate has changed. So I would dearly love to see Minimum Wage as a TV series. And not just because I might actually make some money. [laughter]

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SPURGEON: Can you talk about your connection to that kind of story, the story you chose to tell in Minimum Wage? What is it about that period of life that made you want to create a work about it, that you find affecting when other people do it? Because I can't imagine you would have made all of those comics without some sort of personal connection. This wasn't an extended, laborious TV pitch.

FINGERMAN: Oh, no. I wasn't thinking of TV at all when I first started doing it. In a way it was only when I got ready to stop doing it that I thought in terms of TV.

SPURGEON: What was it about that period in someone's life -- your life -- that you thought was worth exploring? It was a recent period in your life.

FINGERMAN: [laughs] It's not so recent anymore. But it was. I did a panel last week at this Housing Works thing with a couple of other autobiographical comics type people, Dean Haspiel and Laura Lee Gulledge. Ethan Young. I was wrong. I was talking about time giving you perspective on things. Off the top of my head I think I said it had been at least ten years since I had lived what was the basis for Minimum Wage. It was actually a bit less than that. In a way, I think that what made me want to do Minimum Wage was that everything I had done before had been pure fiction, pure escapism. I wanted to do something more personal as a challenge to myself. I still couched this in fiction. I've been asked over the years, "Why Rob Hoffman and not Bob Fingerman?" I didn't want to do straight autobiography. I wanted to play a bit fast and loose. I wanted to be able to mix chronologies, use people from different parts of my life. Add some, eliminate others.

I wanted to do something that did feel personal. Where I did feel connected to it.

SPURGEON: Was there something specific to that story? You could have done early childhood. You could have done family memoir. You could have done a genre story set in that same milieu. You consciously chose to tell the story of that relationship and those years. Was it just the romance of that time in your life? Did you think there was a lot of humor to be mined there?

FINGERMAN: I thought it was funny. I thought it would be entertaining. Seldom have I ever sought to do work that would only be interesting to me. [laughs] I always thought it could be entertaining to an audience bigger than any it actually ever found. 

I have thought about doing comics about my childhood and adolescence. I wanted to do something... in a way, what I wanted to do, which never fully got realized because I ended the series, I wanted to do the story of a couple that didn't belong together. I thought that would be a different angle. It’s not like I was seeking to do a romance comic. I knew how the story ended. I intended to take it through not its inception, as it's already a thing, but take it through the dissolution of the relationship. At a certain point I didn't want to do that anymore. I've actually thought a lot about coming back to Minimum Wage, starting it up again.

SPURGEON: Huh.

FINGERMAN: For years I thought about it. But I just thought, "I don't want to go through that all again." [laughs] "I don't want to relive that dark shit." That won't be fun to draw. That won't be fun to write. As an artist, maybe that's a very cowardly thing to say, but it's also a pragmatic thing. If I'm going to have a shitty time doing it, I'm probably going to do bad work. By and large, it is a humor book. So while I was putting together this collection, the solution came to me on how to get back to it. Let's just say I'd pick it up a few years later.

imageSPURGEON: You mentioned your art... one thing that was striking to me looking at this material again is how striking the character designs were, how you managed to create attractive people that weren't typically attractive. There's also this graininess to the setting that's appealing. How hard did you work at the look of Minimum Wage? Because you were a very young cartoonist when you started doing it, at least a relatively young one in terms of work produced. It looked really different than the work that came before. Did it take you a while to get there?

FINGERMAN: Oh, yeah. I think... I think... I always find it interesting when artists' work doesn't change. There are some artists where you look at their work from 30 years ago and you look at their work now and it looks exactly the same. I don't know if that's a conscious decision, or just a lack of growth. Or they found something they liked and stuck with it. 

I can't do that. So my work is constantly changing. It would be very boring for me... maybe it would be better for my career! But I think it would be boring if the art stagnated. I had just come off of doing White Like She. That's my least favorite book, particularly in terms of the art. I was trying to experiment -- again, do something different. That was my first graphic novel. It was really heavily photo-referenced. I was drawing with rapidographs and everything was just... I was using French curves for making perfect curves. It was really a soul-deadening experience, working on that book.

So for Minimum Wage, I'm not even sure what it is I wanted to do, but I wanted it to be radically different than anything I'd done before. Right before White Like She most of my regular work was porno-type stuff for girlie magazines and what have you. I did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for about a year. I started work on Minimum Wage right before I turned 30. I wasn't a kid, but I was still young. Younger. As a 30th birthday present, I decided to draw something that would be fun in a style that would be fun. I wanted to loosen up. The first Minimum Wage book looks radically different than what it ended up looking like. I couldn't keep up that kind of looseness. I’ve had a natural tendency to tighten up and make things a little more slick. It's an urge I'm constantly fighting. The art style... it was a very conscious attempt to make it as close to my sketchbooks as I could. So no building up heavier lines with one pen over and over again because I never learned to brush ink. It was draw directly and simply. And of course it morphed as I was working on it, and it became more... I don't know, a Herge clean line. I had to change again. It definitely metamorphosed over the time of doing it, which is why collecting it I went back in and have done some retouching to make the art more consistent.

SPURGEON: I know you did that last time; you did that this time as well?

FINGERMAN: Yeah. [laughs] In my introduction I wrote I was toying with calling this the OCD Edition [laughter]. Michele, my wife, actually forbade me -- I didn't listen -- to do any retouching this time around. I said, "Just a little bit. No more than 10 panels." I think I ended up retouching over 50 pages.

SPURGEON: Oh no.

FINGERMAN: I was completely redrawing some pages. Like I said, it was an obsessive-compulsive thing. I'm going to get it right this time.

SPURGEON: Did you get it right? Are you happy?

FINGERMAN: I like it, but I'm sure if there's another edition... [laughter] Something about this story in particular -- that's why I hope this one will be the last one. If there's more Minimum Wage I've just got to start with new chapters. I cannot keep fucking with what I've already done.

SPURGEON: Working with that material again, I know I have an answer to this question, but I'm interested to yours: do you see things that are time-machine elements, that are of New York of that specific time? I don't want to cost you a modern television deal if you speak to this, Bob, but I wondered if anything leapt out at you as being specifically New York City in the 1990s.

FINGERMAN: Yes and no. I've already thought about how to pitch this thing as a TV series, and it would be contemporary. There's very little intrinsic to it that you can't just update.

SPURGEON: I agree with you.

FINGERMAN: It's almost all technology. I have people using pay phones instead of cell phones. Nobody's using computers. In a way, the changes are a bit superficial. In other ways, they're not. This was part of the fiction aspect. The part of my life I was writing about, the character Rob... if you did his timeline he's a decade younger than me. As I was drawing it, I made the setting contemporary. He was living this period in the mid-1990s. I was living it in the mid-'80s. So it's malleable. There are some things that he's referencing in the comic that if I really closely examined them, maybe he shouldn't have, where I’d think, "A guy who was 22 years old in 1997 might not make that reference." Particularly before the Internet took over and everyone suddenly became clued in to everything. He would make reference that I would make. I call that an indulgence. Artistic license.

 But the time period... ? New York was always essentially... I don't think you could set this anywhere else. Which may be very limiting and just cost me a TV deal. [laughs] I don't know. I'd like to think that New York serves this story better than any other location.

SPURGEON: What about New York serves this story?

FINGERMAN: It's because I intimately know it. Well, here you go. Here's an area where the times have changed so much where maybe New York isn't integral to it anymore. He's a struggling freelance illustrator. Publishing was pretty much all centered here. Certainly if you wanted to do magazine work, this was the place to be. That doesn't matter anymore. The Internet took care of that, for whatever magazines are still using illustrators. That's a diminishing pool. You can be anywhere, though. Anyone can submit. There's a whole chapter called "Art Directors Must Die" where he's trucking around his portfolio? I don't think there's anyone that does that anymore. I might be wrong. There might be a couple of dinosaurs, or retro-hipsters, that actually bring a book around. It's been so long since I pursued that kind of work that I'd have to do some research into how illustrators get gigs now. [laughs] I don't even know anymore.

SPURGEON: One thing that intrigues me about the series, Bob... you talked about being ahead of the curve, in terms of the material you were doing. I wonder if you weren't a man out of time when it came to format as well, Bob. My memory is that Minimum Wage came out right after the boom for the alt-comics -- just after that market got tough, anyway. It even came out in kind of a thin "Graphic Novel" format, initially. And it never seemed settled. Do you remember that as a struggle, just trying to find a way for this material to come out.

FINGERMAN: Oh, absolutely.

SPURGEON: You've had some prose experience now. You've done illustration, too, in addition to comics. How do you look at the vocational struggles you've had in comics. Is there ever a tendency to look at it in terms of some sort of conspiratorial effort against you, the number of times you've had setbacks? Or do you think you're close to finding that one way of presenting your comics that best flatters them? 

I mean, I guess since vocation is such a big part of Minimum Wage, I wonder how you looked at your own struggles in that arena.

FINGERMAN: That is a great question. [laughs] I'm not sure I have a great answer for it. This is one of those things, especially if you're answering something publicly, where... I don't ever wish to appear ungrateful. In the plus column, I've had a pretty uncompromised career. I've had greater and lesser degrees of success artistically, but I've pretty much called my own shots and done the kinds of books I wanted to do. But in terms of their timing, their reception or whatever. It's always been a source of frustration for me. Here again, the question of ego. I know that I'm not for everyone, but I'm convinced in a nation of over 300 million people there are tens of thousands that would get what I do. By and large, I think what I do is very accessible. So the whole thing about how you reach an audience, that has always perplexed me. I don't know if it's the timing issue we talked about, or...

imageSPURGEON: Are you confident that this one will find an audience? [pause] Are you... hopeful?

FINGERMAN: I'm hopeful. This is the first thing I've ever released through Image. Image's name brings its own... I think there's a lot of good will between Image and retailers.

SPURGEON: There is right now, for sure.

FINGERMAN: So I'm hoping that that will work in its favor. I also think it's a good-looking book. I'm very proud of it. I think... in way, the design of the book, this is my most overtly eye-catching. In addition to being large I think you'll notice it across the room. I think that might help. [laughs] Over the years I've done some very subtle covers, and I think subtlety may be for the birds.

SPURGEON: This is a terrible question, and I don't want to depress the shit out of you [Fingerman laughs], but Bob, you're my older brother's age. You're a little bit older than I am, not much. The last time I saw you was at a public event, and after we talked I ran into a mutual friend of ours, also around that same age, that was a little freaked because for the first time in a long time he was having a hard time finding a publisher. For whatever reason, he was just wasn't hitting with what publishers want. Is getting older a concern for you?

FINGERMAN: It's a concern. Especially as things keep changing. It's never been easier to get your work out there, and it's never been harder to make a dime from it. This whole phenomenon of giving everything away on the Internet? Say what you will about Harlan Ellison, but he's right when he talks about -- did you see that movie about him, Dreams With Sharp Teeth? I think it's from that -- you get approached by someone and they try to talk you into doing something for exposure, and basically it's that they're trying to get you to give away your work for free. And his attitude is "go fuck yourself; I've worked really hard at my craft. If you want what I do, pay me." It's Harlan Ellison, and he's a blustery guy, but I appreciate the spirit of that. The last couple of books I've done have been pirated. The second something is made available digitally, boom! It shows up on dozens of torrent sites for free. There are arguments I've had with people where they say, "At least people are reading your work." And I think, "Well, yeah. Maybe. But what's my motivation to keep doing it? I gotta live." It's a very utopian idea, to say, "Art for art's sake" and be happy that people are reading it. But if you're like me, I've always called myself a commercial artist, and if you're not making any money anymore, you're not a commercial artist. You're just an artist. I have no desire to be an artist. I'm not that pure. [laughter] I like the commercial part. It's harder and harder to be commercial.

SPURGEON: I wondered where you thought you fit into this current landscape.

FINGERMAN: That's one of the reasons I wrote novels. I wanted to write them anyway -- this speaks to the restless nature I have, why I don't stick with one title over 20 years. If I really had wanted to bear down, I could be talking about Minimum Wage #50 now. But I just didn't want to do it. In addition to the artistic cowardice [laughs] I just didn't want to do one thing. I had other things I wanted to do, and I knew one day I'd be dead, and I wanted to try a bunch of different stuff before it was too late. I was hoping the novels would kick ass and open some doors. I'm glad I did them. But mainstream publishing, the whole prose field, is as fucked as any other field right now. Maybe more so. It really is kind of a dinosaur field. It's battening down the hatches against its own doom. I wrote more novels than I got published. Two got published. I have several unsold manuscripts. Both of the books I did publish I wanted to keep going with them. I had sequels. I didn't have sequels in mind when I wrote the, but when you sit down with something and work for two year or so on it, I can see why people do multiple books. You get to know your characters. You like them. I hope most writers are fans of their work. You like what you did and you wonder where the story goes.

I'm proud of the novels I put out and I'm glad they're out there. I would have liked to have gone forward. With things being the way they are, it's not just practical to go forward with them. That's why I'm going forward with stuff for television. The one field I would love be involved in is the videogame field. I don't think I'm too old for it, but I will be soon! [laughter] Videogames is one of the most exciting fields out there. The Roger Ebert and Martin Amises that make these sweeping pronouncements that videogames will never be art, they haven't played one since Space Invaders or something like that. Some videogames are intensely rich, novelistic experiences. Yes, you're running around shooting things or wrecking cars or whatever. But some of the narrative opportunities in games don't exist in any other medium. The idea that you can do branching stories, where you as the player, based on ethical decision you've made, can have a completely different outcome than another player? That's very exciting.

SPURGEON: I think Minimum Wage, the Videogame would have been my absolute favorite at age 14.

FINGERMAN: [laughs] The opportunities there would certainly be different than in other games. "Go home. Fuck girlfriend. Go to White Castle. Get nauseous." [laughs] "Which do I choose? I'll do both."

*****

* Maximum Minimum Wage, Bob Fingerman, Image Comics, hardcover, 360 pages, JAN130488 (Diamond), 1607066742 (ISBN10), 9781607066743 (ISBN13), March 2013, $34.99.

*****

* cover to the new volume
* photo of Bob Fingerman by I think me
* from the well-received convention issue, now installment, of Minimum Wage
* the striking character design
* one thing Image did for Bob Fingerman is put him in its creator-driven, "creators at work" promotional series
* an across-the-page panel from Minimum Wage (below)

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Go, Look: More Hey Granpa

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Go, Look: Big Deal Comics And Stories (Tumblr Edition)

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Go, Look: Astonishing #13

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OTBP: New Jobs

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Go, Look: Jiji Manga, 1921

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Go, Look: Sharkmouth

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

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

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

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Claire Bretécher!

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April 6, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade





Making Of De Lastman


An Interview With Hugo Pratt


Trailer For Comics Festival In Nice


Dave Barry Talks To Matt Groening
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 30 to April 5, 2013:

1. The comics artist and former DC editorial head-honcho Carmine Infantino passed away. He was 87 years old.

2. WonderCon hits Anaheim for a second straight year, and looks fairly settled in down there.

3. The MoCCA Fest gears up for its first year under the leadership of the Society Of Illustrators.

Winner Of The Week
Marc Toberoff's bank account

Loser Of The Week
The Moscone Center

Quote Of The Week
"Creating and hosting multiple versions of the images (archival versions plus web-ready versions), along with maintaining reliable hardware and software with appropriate backups and curation plans so you don't lose all your hard work to the next power outage costs money... again, to do it right you can't just put a couple of hard drives you got at Best Buy in your basement, register a domain with GoDaddy, and use one of their default webpage templates to provide access." -- Jim Ottaviani

*****

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

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Go, Look: Amazing Detective Cases #13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 57th Birthday, Mark Askwith!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Hijinx Comics!

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April 5, 2013


Carmine Infantino, 1925-2013

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Carmine Infantino, a comic book artist best known for a distinct style and several lengthy runs on major Silver Age titles, a publisher of DC Comics during a tumultuous period as the company shifted from its traditional to a more modern comics publishing role, and a designer of comic book covers responsible for many of most iconic images from the commercial mainstream comics realm, died on April 4. The news roared like a wildfire through various comics' social media expressions before finally being confirmed last night. He was 87 years old.

Infantino was born in Brooklyn. Although he would later join the Art Students League and took classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Infantino began his career while still in high school. Similar to many of the younger artists that came immediately after the first generation of comics makers, a pair of generations Infantino straddled, the artists was in general a fan of the work he was now being hired to do. Infantino worked for comics packager Harry "A" Chesler and received a professional inking credit with Timely in 1942. He was partnered on that assignment with Frank Giacoia, who would be a longtime and frequent partner of the artist. Infantino also worked for Charles Biro on the Hillman material Biro was putting together, and contributed to books at prominent publishers Fawcett and Holyoke.

Infantino's first assignment for DC Comics, the company for whom he would do most of the most prominent work of his career, came in a "Johnny Thunder" story in Flash Comics that was published in 1947. The DC characters affiliated with Infantino during his run at the tail end of that first sustained industry sales period included Green Lantern and The Flash.

In the 1950s, Infantino's art changed to reflect a smattering of different artists ranging from Edgar Degas to Lou Fine. He was moved to DC's other genre books during the first half of that decade, becoming an adept contributor to books featuring western, romance and horror stories. One prominent sideline was the "Charlie Chan" feature for Jack Kirby and Joe Simon at Prize.

A method of marking the history of North American comic book by the relative popularity of superhero comic books offered up what would be its first split in 1956, when a resurgence at DC Comics featuring new versions of old characters like The Flash began to appear: later known as The Silver Age. Infantino did the cover to the first issues featuring one of those prominent, revamped superheroed and thus provided that era with its first image: Showcase #1. In addition to working on that character's comics, working from scripts written by the late Robert Kanigher, Infantino also enjoyed lengthy runs on the Adam Strange and Deadman characters, and eventually moved to the Batman comic book for a major revival effort beginning in 1964. His work was already distinctive in that it diverged in noticeable ways from dominant styles of the day; Infantino's figure-drawing was also more elegant than powerful.

Infantino's skill with cover design resulted in his being the DC line's primary designer in the mid-1960s, a role for which he was ideally suited. His covers were rock-solid assemblages of strong images, cognizant of where the eye might travel. He had also picked up on a successful element of comic book covers more generally of revealing an outrageous plot point or pivotal moment from the story inside the comic book as a sales inducement.

Eventually made the line's editorial director, Infantino's tenure included Bat Lash, The Shadow, a ballyhooed run of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, a solid run of Tarzan books and the hiring of Jack Kirby away from his hugely successful run as a primary driving force at rival Marvel. Infantino made artists like Joe Kubert and Dick Giordano editors, and negotiated publishing moves such a poorly conceived price increase that saw the publisher out-maneuvered for the eyes of what many now saw as a declining audience.

After leaving DC when he was chased from his directorship position, Infantino enjoyed a successful run as a freelancer, working at Marvel and Warren, perhaps most memorably on the Star Wars book and Spider-Woman. He then moved back to DC where he worked on several titles including another rfun on The Flash. He was one of the artists that worked on a Batman newspaper strip -- Infantino's run came in 1990-1991. The early 1980s work is particularly interesting to view now because of how relatively stylized it was for mainstream comics art, including these figures and faces that seemed almost more sketched than penciled/inked. In some ways the later period Infantino work almost captured the cultural zeitgeist and its emphasis on superficial physical beauty as much as his 1950s work had nailed down an element of science-fiction influenced action-adventure art. He remains a deeply under-appreciated creator, and what covers he created almost always remained compelling.

Infantino was also one of several working artists from his generation that taught, in his case at School Of Visual Arts.

Current DC Comics editorial/publishing leadership remembers Infantino here.
 
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Go, Look: Pluto Is Still A Planet To Us

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Ruling: Siegel Family Attorney Marc Toberoff Off The Hook For Half-Million Legal Fees To DC

ICv2.com has the most succinct write-up on a key decision in terms of sorting out remaining issues involved with the last several years of litigation between the heirs of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and DC Comics. Any comment I can formulate in my head seems a re-iteration of what's in the piece more than anything additional I might say: I would imagine it's a relief to Toberoff to not have to pay that bill, although that's not exactly an award-winning insight. I suppose one could make an argument on one side or another of the way such decisions either discourage or fail to discourage attorneys pursuing these kinds of cases more generally, but I'm not even certain that's a cogent or reasonable thing to get into.
 
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Go, Look: A Wally Wood Facebook Gallery

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Bundled Extra: PictureBox Releases "Manga List"

The hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a post up about the boutique publisher PictureBox Inc. groups its manga-related titles into a single sub-list of its overall 2013 output. This interests me for a few reasons. The primary one is that the books display a significant range and they all look like they have an excellent chance to be worth reading. A secondary reason I noticed the article, though, is I'm not sure I've seen this specific solution to drive attention to a sub-category of offerings used as frequently as you might think it would be used. It is April, so announcing a 2013 categorical list may seem kind of odd, but I think I might welcome such a list to a severe degree at the beginning of the year and then again when a first book is released.
 
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Go, Look: Art By Dylan Horrocks

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* the writer Mark Waid re-launched his Thrillbent effort on Monday, with a decided emphasis on making comics that are device-specific. That's one to watch for Waid's position in the industry and his ahead-of-the-curve embrace of digital platforms.

* this is interesting: Jeff Smith's next project will have a major on-line/digital component. If I'm doing things correctly, I ran a full post on this closer to the beginning of the week, but this goes here in case I didn't. But yeah, Smith is a devotee of the serial print comic, so I'd say this is a major sign of the times. Plus: new Jeff Smith.

image* so the other week I asked for people to suggest runs of (mostly) superhero comics for which I might keep an eye out when they potentially become available for cheap on comiXology and through similar services. I've been enjoying catching up on various superhero comics -- and similar, genre-related efforts -- via discounted purchases on random days when I don't feel like working for an hour or so. Here is what the readers suggested:
* Art Baxter: 1. Cable #97-107 (Marvel, 2001-2002); 2. Soldier X #1-8 (Marvel, 2002-2003); 3. Black Widow MAX: Pale Little Spider #1-3 (Marvel, 2002); 4. Thrillkiller #1-3 (DC, 1997); 5. Vengeance #1-6 (Marvel, 2011-2012).
* Shannon Smith: 1) The Zaucer of Zilk 1 & 2; 2) The Surrogates Case Files 1 & 2; 3) Adventure Time 1-12; 4) Judge Dredd (IDW) 1-4; 5) Superman Vol. 1. 305-308 and/or any issues they have in the 300s and 400s up to and including 423. All that pre-Crisis stuff.
* Tom Bondurant: 1. The Defenders #1-5 (Marvel, 2005-06); 2. Detective Comics #854-63 (DC, 2009-10); 3. Captain America #444-454 (Marvel, 1995-96); 4. DC 2000 #1-2 (DC, 2000); 5. Green Lantern 14-17, Green Lantern: Mosaic #1-16 (DC, 1992-94).
* Oliver Ristau: 1. The Spectre #0-62 (DC, 1992-1998); 2. The Sentry #1-6 (Marvel, 2000-2001); 3. Ultimate Marvel Team Up #1-16 (Marvel, 2001-2002); 4. Wolverine: Snikt! #1-6 (Tsunami, 2003); 5. Desolation Jones #1-6 (WildStorm, 2005-2006).
My thanks to those that sent lists and I'm sorry if I missed yours. E-mail got crazy there for a while.

* Plastic Babyheads is the latest GoComics.com acquisition.
 
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If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Ramayana: Divine Loophole

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

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

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Sparky Watts #6

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* DC Comics enters into phase two of its admirable effort on behalf of a focused, international anti-hunger campaign.

image* Sean Gaffney reviews the fourth through sixth volumes of Neon Genesis Evangelion Omnibus. Sean T. Collins on that Josh Simmons Batman comic. Sean Rogers on Hand-Drying In America. Joe McCulloch on Muse and Cryptic Wit #3. Daniel Kalder on District 14: Season 1.

* I suspect we're going to see a lot of collections being sold over the next five years, just as lifestyles change and storage issues become an issue and people develop different kinds of relationships to the comics medium.

* if by some strange law you are only allowed to follow one link a day, let it be this one to a gobsmacking single-page image dug up by the good folks at the Billy Ireland library.

* Steve Sunu talks to Jason Aaron. Blake Hennon talks to John Layman.

* Paul Gravett's Angouleme report is a sight to behold.

* finally, Lucy Knisley did this week's TCJ diary in advance of MoCCA and her next book, Relish. Those should all be up now. I always enjoy looking at Knisley's color-comics work.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Art Adams!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Joey Weiser!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Patrick Dean!

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April 4, 2013


Massive Explosion Of Tweets Say That Carmine Infantino Has Passed Away

I'm on the road, so hopefully this has either been cleared up or been confirmed, but a massive explosion of afternoon tweets from people such as George Perez and Mark Waid are claiming the passing of mainstream comics industry icon Carmine Infantino -- a fine artist, a former publisher of DC Comics, and maybe the best cover designer in commercial comics history. I will confirm or clear up myself as soon as possible, but don't expect it from me this evening -- you might head elsewhere.
 
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Fred, RIP

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George Gladir, RIP

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Festivals Extra: A Short Interview With Anelle Miller on MoCCA

imageA bunch of people I know and trust from the world of art comics asked me to interview Anelle Miller in anticipation of this weekend's MoCCA Festival in New York City. Miller is that show's primary driving force now, and has been since the assumption of the MoCCA name and resources by the Society Of Illustrators last year. She is that organization's Executive Director.

Once either the first or second most popular event on the arts/alt festival circuit, the MoCCA Festival grew to have a mixed reputation in the art comics world. It was still a New York show, and one with an honorable pedigree, but there developed in recent years considerable tension, I believe based on the disparity between how much the community valued having a show like that and how much the museum whose name was on it valued the show and its primary audience. In addition, the rise of other significant arts comics shows, primarily TCAF, and the resurgence of SPX have changed the context in which a show like the MoCCA Festival is judged.

This weekend's edition of the show is an important event in the progression of art comics festivals, and thus art comics. All eyes on New York City, and, for a few moments first, one hopes, this interview. I'm grateful to Miller for making the time. She even contacted me when I failed to check in at the discussed hour. She seems like a smart, hard-working person. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: We're talking 10 days out from the show. Can you give me a snapshot as to where you are right now?

ANELLE MILLER: Well, today I just finished getting off the phone with the electrician, talking about all of the power lines that we have to drop. Some of the vendors want to have electricity at their booths, at their tables. We need to have electricity for the programming room and the TVs we're going to have in the museum. That was my morning conversation, with the electrician, talking about how many power drops we need and how much people power that will take. We are finishing up the souvenir journal. It's in production, and it's absolutely gorgeous. It features a little blurb about all of the exhibitors. They gave us their visual and words. It's really extraordinary. It's 48 pages, full-color; it's very beautiful. We're very, very excited about that. That's being finished up. All the signage is in the works. Tara [Jacoby], who is our designer, is working on all of the badges for everyone. We're having a volunteer meeting here tomorrow night. We invited all of the volunteers. There are about 130 volunteers at this point. They're going to come here and we're going to give them a powerpoint presentation to show them the layout of the armory and the floor and where everything is going to be positioned. We're going to talk to each of them about their responsibilities, because Kate [Feirtag] has assigned duties to each of the volunteers. They'll get to meet all of us and know who all the captains are. If they have any issues, at least they'll be familiar with the faces. That way when we talk to them they'll know who we are. Hopefully tomorrow night we can give them their badges and their food tickets, as each volunteer will be allowed to go down to the MoCCA cafe and get some food during their shift.

Hopefully the t-shirts will be here. They should be here later today or tomorrow, so they'll get their t-shirts. So that's tomorrow night. I'm working on my questions for my panel that I'm moderating, so I have to get done this weekend. I want to get them out to my personal panelists.

SPURGEON: Which one are you doing, Anelle?

MILLER: I'm doing art as a mission, co-moderated by Peter De Seve. I've got Arnie Roth and JJ Sedelmaier and Nora Krug on my panel. It should be kind of fun. I think it's going to be really fun. We're going to talk about the business, and the industry, and teaching illustration and comics. Just kind of talk about a lot of great topics that I think people will be interested in. And of course introduce the Society to people that don't really know a lot about it. Talk about our history, the programs we do and our mission. The educational things, our initiatives, all sorts of good things like that.

SPURGEON: Clear something up for me. I found out you guys were going to do the Festival when someone approached me at the Small Press Expo last Fall. This person had been involved with the festival in the past, and said that a lot of the same people would be involved moving forward. I've been told since that not many people at all from previous iterations are going to have involvement. So tell me: is your personnel infrastructure people from past shows or newer people?

MILLER: The only person that decided they wanted to stick with us and work with us is Emma, the exhibitor coordinator, who's been amazing. Emma Rivera. She's been instrumental in helping to get all the information out to exhibitors, she's been doing the e-mail blasts, she coordinates the layout of the tables and gets the table assignments out to the exhibitors. She's been fantastic. But other than Emma, there are maybe some of the volunteers we don't necessarily know by name at this point. It's pretty much our infrastructure that has been managing the whole thing.

SPURGEON: How much of a unique experience is this for you and the Society? Do you have experience doing this kind of show on any level?

MILLER: Not to this huge scope. We put on big events here, and certainly in my past, in my prior professional career I hoped to organize huge sales meetings for the Estee Lauder companies, which were pretty extensive and detail-oriented. But here at the Society this is a first for us. We know there are probably going to be some glitches, and you can't help that. We're trying to cover all of our bases, and trying to think of every details, but it's hard to do that. Until you actually experience something like this, you don't even know the challenges you face.

SPURGEON: Is there a challenge thus far that's been difficult for you, that maybe surprised you? Is there a specific aspect you've found challenging?

MILLER: I think based on information that had been given to me about MoCCA Fest, I think some of the challenges like hiring a professional electrician. I guess from my background I'm used to doing things -- I want to be politically correct in saying what I'm going to say -- a very professional way. That's really the only way I know how to produce things. I think for us here it was a little bit surprising that certain things hadn't been done before. We're hoping that the things we are doing will make it more fun for the exhibitors and also the people that come to MoCCA Fest.

SPURGEON: So I take it you mean there's been some significant investment on your part into the show.

MILLER: Yeah, yeah.

SPURGEON: Can you talk about that a little bit? There's a widespread belief in comics that MoCCA Festival is one of the things that worked about the museum in its previous iteration. I have to imagine if there's investment that needs to be done, that means a greater cost and, as a result, some risk in doing the show.

MILLER: There's definitely more of a financial cost with the show now. We're doing things like -- and I knew there would be some expenses involved when I had some ideas about what I wanted to have happened, like creating a room within the room. When you do that, you have to think about the walls within the walls, which cost about $5,000 to rent. You have to think about the lighting for the art -- that was part of what I was talking to the electrician about this morning. So yes, there a lot of additional costs. Clearly, creating the ability to have a cafe downstairs = much bigger cost. We're actually having signage!

I can tell you exact numbers if you want, because I have the budget right here. [Spurgeon laughs] I told everyone I'd be transparent about this stuff. Yeah, my signage is coming in at $5,550. We're going to have giant banners hanging from the ceiling to designate the aisles where people will be exhibiting. It's aisles A through G. When you walk into a trade show, you always see that kind of signage, so we're having that. Anything you think of when you produce this kind of event, it costs money. You have to be prepared to spend it upfront. Hopefully you see that in revenue in return. I'm hoping we will break even in this first year. Hopefully that will allow us to see what works, what doesn't work, what people like. I always think signage is important and it's going to brighten up the whole armory. A lot of people have talked about the fact that the Armory is kind of... I don't know, not an appealing environment. And it's not. It's kind of a big open space. Our industry is about being visual, so I feel it's important to have that visual thing going on.

We're bringing wi-fi in, which we didn't have in the past. So there's a cost related to bringing wi-fi in. I'm looking at my whole budget now... even the audio-visual equipment we're renting, there's a significant increase in the cost of that because we're going to have a professional technician on site, making sure the programming runs well. We're going to be videotaping the programs. For me, I like to have things run smoothly. I think it's important in certain aspects to have professionals. It's great to have volunteers, and volunteers are wonderful, and we couldn't do it without volunteers. But in certain areas we need to make sure we're covered professionally.

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SPURGEON: You know, I always think of the old show... I think of that old show as a crucial fundraiser for that organization. But it sounds like you have outreach goals, and mainstreaming the MoCCA stuff into what you do at SOI more generally. The necessity of MoCCA Fest making as much money as possible has perhaps been reduced because of your institutional strength. Is that a fair observation?

MILLER: I think that's true, Tom. We see this as here as an extension of our mission. We see this as a place where MoCCA Fest can grow, and become bigger and become more of a -- how can I put this? I was just talking yesterday to Paul Levitz. He and I were brainstorming a little bit. We were talking about how when we were done with this we were going to sit down and talk with city official and see if we can extend MoCCA Fest next year. You know how some trade shows have events going on in other venues. Maybe we can... yes, we'll have MoCCA Fest happening in whatever venue that takes place -- we'll look at the Armory and see if the cost is right for us to even be renting the Armory or if there other venues that might be better. But maybe there's other things that are going on at other places in the city during MoCCA Fest. Other programming, screenings, things that really extend the visibility of this industry. We're always looking to extend the visibility. That's the whole point of our community and of our mission here with illustration. How can we get it out to more people? How can we include more people into knowing what's happening with these artists? That's going to benefit the artists. That's the bottom line: benefitting our artists.

SPURGEON: Speaking have spoken highly to me about your personal touch on this show. I get the impression that there was -- maybe not going so far as to call it bad blood, but there were a certain number of personalities involve with MoCCA as it existed previously, sometimes difficult personalities. Is there something to your efforts in terms of explicitly getting people back on board with MoCCA, say targeting key exhibitors? Are you interested in restoring the shows luster within the comics community? Has that been part of a process for you?

MILLER: It has been. I had to mend a lot of fences. I did. I had to do a lot of outreach, and talk to people. Yes. Yes, I had to do that.

SPURGEON: Is there a way you can summarize what the issues in general were with some of these folks, or maybe what you were able to tell them that got some of them back on board. Gary Groth at Fantagraphics, for example.

MILLER: I think... I think...

SPURGEON: Why are people in a good mood about you, Anelle?

MILLER: [laughs] I'm a fun girl, Tom! [laughter] And I'm very passionate, and I'm very caring, and I'm aware what people have to spend, what costs are. I understand that coming to a festival is expensive, especially for people coming from out of town. Fantagraphics, they've got a lot of costs. They have to put people up, they have to ship, they have to do all sorts of things like that. So one of the things we tried to talk about here at the Society is how we can help people make this a more pleasant experience. How can it be fun? The bottom line is that it be fun. Art should be fun. There shouldn't be any bad blood, and there shouldn't be any bad feelings. It's about having a good time. When we saw the charges some of the exhibitors had to incur in the previous MoCCA Fests, like they were charged for shipping their boxes here, and then they were charged for having them brought over to the Armory. We were like, "No. We can't do that anymore. They're paying a lot for a table. We don't want to add that cost on in addition to what they're already paying for a table." So that's a cost we're incurring. The boxes are shipped here, and then we're hiring... we have a 17-foot truck that's going to come to the Society Friday morning. At 7 AM. One of guys here, one of our wonderful staff, is going to pick up the truck and drive it here. All of our volunteers are going to load up the truck and we're going to get everyone's stuff to the Armory. So that's a cost we're just going to absorb here, and not put it back on the exhibitors. So that's one thing that we had heard, that exhibitors weren't so happy about. It might sound silly, but I guess it's not really. I don't know.

SPURGEON: Another difference I think for the Fest now is that it takes place in an entirely different context for shows. When it started there weren't a whole lot of shows that were similar to MoCCA. All shows are different, but there are a lot of shows and festivals to choose from now, for both exhibitors and fans. There are even some of those shows in New York. It sounds like you're pretty concerned with your own gameplan right now, trying to execute that, especially this first time out, but do you give any thought to the context in which MoCCA takes place as a comics show? For instance, how much of a New York show do you see this? Do you see it as the Spring show for comics, potentially, moving forward if you hit on all cylinders, or one of a few heavy-hitters, say?

MILLER: I think once I get through one I'll have a much better sense of how I can answer that in a way that will make sense, but I think for certain this show always has to be about the indy comics community. I don't see it turning into superheroes or anything like that.

SPURGEON: That is a question. In a way, that focus is assumed, but there were indeed rumors in past years that it might be opened up to mainstream exhibitors at some point.

MILLER: That's not going to happen. The superhero thing is great at New York Comic-Con, where people get all dressed up and do their thing. That's great. That's the perfect venue for that. That's not what MoCCA Fest should be about. Young people... indy comic... alternative things -- it should be all about. It shouldn't be commercial in any way. What I would love to see is some of these young people being exposed where they can get work, or jobs, or published in a bigger way. Would I love to see that happen for some of these young people? Of course. That's always our goal here.

SPURGEON: What would you have the comics community know about the Society, if you would have them exposed to what you do through the Festival.

MILLER: That's one of the reasons we're going to try this year the Awards Of Excellence. We're have a panel of five wonderful people who are going to judge some of this work. I have work pouring into the office. I have five huge boxes sitting here with incredible work that's being sent to be judged, with wonderful notes from artists. They're grateful their work is going to be seen by not only these five jurors, but if they're chose their work is going to hang here at the Society. It's a big deal, a really big deal.

SPURGEON: I wish I had a better question for this moment, because while I know there's been some blowback on those awards I'm not sure I understand its exact nature.

MILLER: What has that been? Heidi tweeted something about that, and we put a call into Heidi this morning like, "What's going on? Did we do something?"

imageSPURGEON: I think... again, I'm not the best person on this. But I think some people questioned the process of it at the beginning. They wondered about the ability of the jurors you've chosen to get a sense of that material in a way they can give out a prize. I think that was it. So I think it may be doubts about the execution on this. I do know that I had one person that e-mailed me that wondered if Gary Groth, for example, would be able to find enough time to make a decision or if he'd do so in a hurry.

MILLER: Gary is the one that came up with the whole process of how this was going to be done. [Spurgeon laughs] That can be public knowledge. Gary and I had a long conversation about a week and a half ago before he went off to Spain's memorial service. I had thought it should be done a certain way and Gary said, "No, Anelle. The way you're thinking probably isn't going to work. We need more time to look through these comics. If we all go around on the day of the Festival, we're not going to have enough time to judge fairly. Here's how I think we should do it. You should put out a call for entries and have all the work shipped to you. Have everyone send five copies of everything. Create these five boxes." On March 29, this Friday, I will be sealing these boxes up with all of the entries and shipping them to each juror. They'll have a whole week to look at this stuff. So all of the jurors were excited about that. Karen Berger had the same concern, having enough time to look at the work. If they have a week, they should have the time to come to their decisions. That's how it's happening. They'll have the work on Saturday.

SPURGEON: What is the basic approach as far as presenting this year's Festival to the public? Is there someone in mind that you'd like to see attend the Festival?

MILLER: I need to see how that's going to go. I hope there are a range of people, that if they don't already come to MoCCA Fest that are fans of this kind of work, but also collectors, people who maybe don't understand what this level of comics and cartoon art is about the indy world. Even people that think of the comic and cartoon world as superheroes. We're hoping that maybe the public that comes, maybe they can become a little more sophisticated and look at this work in a different way. I really hope that happens. I think it can. Maybe it won't happen in the first year, but I think it can really happen. I really do.

SPURGEON: You've put a lot on reacting to this first year. Will others have input? Do you have a feedback process in place so that you can hear about other experiences at the show?

MILLER: We have a questionnaire in all of the exhibitor packages seeking feedback. They can tell us what they liked, what they didn't like, what they think we can do better. They'll have something to fill out to send to us or getting something to us at the show. Getting feedback is critical. We have to know what people like. We may think something is great, but when we look at the survey we may find out it's not so good. So what do we do to change it?

SPURGEON: The comics community as recently as nine months ago didn't know if the Festival would continue. When you were making the decision whether or not to do the Festival, do you remember if there was a key moment or something about the show or some possibility for what the show can become that made that decision for you?

MILLER: I always knew it was going to happen. There was never any doubt in my mind. It was part of my conversations when we transferred the assets over. I said, "We are going to make this happen." I wasn't sure how I was going to do it because I had never done it before [laughs], but I knew we were going to continue this. There was no way it wasn't going to happen.

*****

* photo of Miller supplied by Miller
* MoCCA Fest 2013 poster
* Gary Groth, whose idea for how to do the Awards was accepted and utilized
* photo of Miller as a child supplied by Miller [below]

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: Pop Tates

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Festivals Extra: Tommy Lee Edwards Purchases Part Of Con

There's an intriguing story here by the superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose about the artist Tommy Lee Edwards buying a nearby regional con that through his efforts in the recent past saw a surge of attendance. I wanted to note it because I enjoy how all of these models are absolutely wide open, and that we haven't settled on any one way cons should move forward or what size they need to be to be viable. I'd love it if there were a half-dozen such conventions with artists at least partly in charge.
 
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Go, Look: A Hugo Pratt Facebook Gallery

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Festivals Extra: Stumptown Announces Very Limited Prints

Here. I like how limited these are, and convention-related items is a hugely underreported element of the strange, hyper-incentivized comics market. I don't know that there will be a run on these prints the way there are on special comic book with covers done just for one show or another, but I think the principle is in place in a way we're likely to see more and more of them in the future. I bet we even have a comic series that's only sold at a series of conventions. That kind of thing. Comics has a highly-developed ethos in regards to making stuff as widely available as possible in as many places as possible that's always kind of rubbed up against the collectibles impulse -- I think with the degradation of some markets entirely, we're bound to have all sorts of weird, limited results. Bring it on; should be fun.
 
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Go, Look: Yeah Dude Comics

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Collective Memory: WonderCon 2013

imageLinks to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2013 edition of WonderCon, held March 29-31 in Anaheim at the Anaheim Convention Center.

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

*****

Institutional
* Convention Site
* Facility
* Host City

Audio

Blog Entries And Tumblr
* Becky Cloonan
* Buzz Dixon

* Central City Comics Blog
* Comic Impact
* Comics Online

* Defective Geeks (tagged)

* Fetch Anything

* Glitter Mint

* Lauren Spieller

* Nerdacy
* Nerd Machine

* Pop Culture Maven

* Sarah Yim

* Terry Moore
* The Beat (tagged)

Facebook
* WonderCon Page

Miscellaneous
* Bleeding Cool Message Board

News Stories and Columns
* Bleeding Cool (Tagged Archive)
* CBR (Tagged Archive)
* MTV Geek (Tagged Archive)

Photos And Stand-Alone Imagery
* CBR's Set-Up
* ComicBookMovie.com
* Comic-Con Friday Photos
* Comic Vine
* io9
* SuperHeroHype
* The Realm Cast

Twitter
* #WonderCon

Video
* " title="The Confluence 01">The Confluence 01
* Web Series Watch

*****



*****

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Punky

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Kodoja: Terror Mountain Showdown #1. Lucy Boyes on The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song. Dominic Umile on Army Of God.

* another Dave Sim-related art auction.

* James Adams profiles Shary Boyle. John Rovnak talks to Bob Fingerman.

* finally, I'm not certain if knowing about the Internet-driven non-story about actor Jon Hamm's penis size makes these drawings by Frédéric Fleury made more funny or less funny, but they're certainly still funny.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Dave Johnson!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Simon Bisley!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Bob Rozakis!

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April 3, 2013


Go, Look: Sub-Zero

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Your 2013 Comics Category Expozine Awards Nominees

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The Expozine Alternative Press Awards has released their nominations list for this year's award, to be given out at this Sunday's awards ceremony. The award honors the best books displayed at last Fall's iteration of the event. They include English Comic and French BD category, although the entire award slate will be of interest. Nominees and winners were picked by a panel of six judges. They are sponsored by a variety of interested institutions, including the Canada Council For The Arts and Drawn And Quarterly.


English Comic

* You Can Never Be Me (Batman Comics), Patrick Kyle
* Crud #2, Vicki Nerino
* Heartless, Nina Bunjevac, Conundrum Press
* Hungry Bottom Comics, Eric Kostiuk Williams
* All Rumours are True, Laurel Lynn Leake
* Betsy, Sophie Goldstein

BD Francophone

* Codex Montrealensis, Dimo Garcia et Gigiola Cacere
* La traversée, Chloé Germain-Thérien
* Entre deux mondes, Brice Artaud et Grégoire Mabit
* Le Front #5, Front FroidScio, Gabriel Lamarche

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Go, Look: A Bernie Wrightson Facebook Gallery

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Your 2013 Glyph Comics Awards Nominees

imageThe Glyph Comics Awards program released its list of 2013 nominees on Sunday evening. It's always an interesting list, as the Glyph purview focuses both on content/characters and creators. This year there's a bunch of independent work with which I'm barely or completely unfamiliar. The awards are given out with Philadelphia's East Coast Black Age Of Comics Convention, scheduled this year for May 18. Congratulations to all nominees.

Story of the Year
* The Call; Steve Broome
* KOBK; C. J. Johnson, SMACK!
* Monsters 101; Muhammad Rasheed
* Shadowlaw; Brandon Easton and Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami
* Ultimate Comics Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Samnee and Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley

Best Cover
* Indigo: Hit List 1.0; Richard G. Tyler ll
* Jaycen Wise; Richard G. Tyler ll
* Night Stalker; David Miller
* Shadowlaw; Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami
* Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6; Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley

Best Writer
* Steve Broome, The Call
* Brandon Easton, Shadowlaw
* C. J. Johnson, KOBK
* Keith Miller, Tri-Boro Tales
* Muhammad Rasheed, Monsters 101

Best Artist
* Jacob Newell, Origins Unknown: Point Of Authority
* Jerry Gaylord, Fanboys Vs. Zombies #1-9
* Charlie Goubile, Corsairs
* Chris Samnee, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6
* Richard G. Tyler ll, Jaycen Wise

Best Male Character
* Bomani, H.O.P.E.; Raymond Ayala and Rafael Desquitado and Jacob Elijah Hallinen and Kim Jacinto
* Dashawn, KOBK; C. J. Johnson and SMACK!,
* Miles Morales, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Samnee and Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley
* Mort, Monsters 101; Muhammad Rasheed
* Jaycen Wise, Jaycen Wise; Richard G. Tyler ll

Best Female Character
* Christina, KOBK; C. J. Johnson and SMACK!
* Larue Dalcour, Corsairs; Daniel McNeal and Charlie Goubile
* Dyana, Night Stalker; Orlando Harding and David Miller
* Indigo, Indigo: Hit List 1.0; Richard G. Tyler ll
* Tia & Zari Jenkins, Surpurbia; Grace Randolph and Russell Dauterman

Rising Star Award
* Raymond Ayala, writer, H.O.P.E.
* Steve Broome, writer and artist, The Call
* Brandon Easton, writer, Shadowlaw
* Sharean Morishita, writer and artist, Love! Love! Fighting!
* Willie Smith, writer and artist, Blackguard: Psycho Therapy

Best Comic Strip or Webcomic
* Ant; Julian Lytle
* Blackguard: Psycho Therapy; Willie Smith
* Blackwax Boulevard; Dmitri Jackson
* The Call; Steve Broome
* Mama's Boyz; Jerry Craft

Fan Award for Best Work
* Ascended: The Omega Nexus; Roger Reece and Jerry Reece
* Origins Unknown: Point Of Authority; Victor Dandridge and Jacob Newell
* Shadowlaw; Brandon Easton and Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami
* Ultimate Comics Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Samnee and Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Mighty Star, Part Three

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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.

*****

AUG121142 JULIOS DAY HC $19.99
This is the second major book for Gilbert Hernandez in what may be seen as his year, a changes-the-way-you-view-it collection of a recent, and I'd dare to say lightly-regarded in that initial publication, serial. It's also a fine companion to the already-released Marble Season for its strategy of depicting a life through several moments spread out over years and years as opposed to a series of vignettes from a specific time. Gilbert Hernandez can do it all.

imageJAN131274 BENJAMIN BEAR IN BRIGHT IDEAS HC $12.95
The previous Coudray book from Toon was talked about a lot in my direction from comics-reading friends of mine who quite enjoyed it. I didn't always hear if the kid loved that book as much as the adults, but anyone loving anything in comics form is a) worth reporting, b) worth at least picking up and looking over in the comics shop. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

FEB130050 SNOW ANGEL ONE SHOT $3.50
FEB130026 1 FOR $1 THE MASSIVE #1 $1.00
FEB130010 ABE SAPIEN DARK & TERRIBLE #1 $3.50
JAN130586 GLORY #34 [DIG] $3.99
JAN138337 SEX #1 2ND PTG (MR) $2.99
FEB130474 AGE OF ULTRON #4 $3.99
FEB130543 ALL NEW X-MEN #10 NOW $3.99
JAN138280 ADVENTURE TIME FIONNA & CAKE #2 2ND PTG $3.99
This isn't exactly a stellar week for serial comics work -- which is an area inhabited almost solely by mainstream-oriented material these days -- meaning I would probably dip a bit more heavily into what's out there that didn't obviously hit my interests more squarely. One that I would like buy any week including one stuffed with material aimed directly at me is the Snow Angel book, which is a collection of recent David Chelsea shorts. As for the rest, it ranges a bit. There's a $1 comic and a Mignola-verse effort from Dark Horse, which are pretty reliable. The Ross Campbell-drawn Glory ends with this issue, and that was a wonderful-looking thing at times. I already have the Joe Casey book, reminiscent of 1980s city-focused books like Mister X. Those are the two Marvel Comics I would most consider picking up this week, including the latest issue of their major "event," this time out featuring dickish super-robot Ultron. The last one is a Boom! licensed comic from a group of cartoon-related book that have been well-liked thus far.

JAN130330 PUNK ROCK JESUS TP (MR) $16.99
I have this, but haven't read it: Sean Murphy's solo mini-series for Vertigo, now collected. It just sounds Vertigo-y, doesn't it?

NOV121175 ADVENTURES OF JODELLE HC (RES) (MR) $45.00
This is a massively beautiful book that I also have but have yet to read, a 1960s erotic comic from Guy Peellaert and Pierre Bartier, heavily influenced by pop art trends, collected and tidied. For some reason, my knowledge of what was going on in terms of adult content in 1960s French-language comics was even more rudimentary than I would have guessed.

JAN131190 ARMIES HC (MR) $34.95
I bet Jog wrote graphs and graphs about this one, but my memory tells me only that it contains key work from the 1970s Metal Hurlant days, and likely looks freaking gorgeous. I don't have much immersion into that realm of comics, which would make having it in my hands such a wonderful thing, one of the reasons comics shops are the best.

JAN131202 ARE YOU MY MOTHER A COMIC DRAMA SC $15.95
NOV121177 COMPLETE CRUMB COMICS TP VOL 02 MORE STRUGGLE (MR) $19.99
Two formidable new editions: the softcover of the recent Alison Bechdel meditation/memoir; early Robert Crumb with that specific volume enjoying a much longer in-print lifetime. I would imagine many, many adult comics fans wanting both in their library, and if your comics shop carries them both, it's a gem of a place.

DEC121110 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC VOL 19 1987-1988 $28.99
Speaking of libraries, here's the latest in the Peanuts series, this time around featuring an introduction from Garry Trudeau and the big Schulz shift into three-panel dailies.

DEC121064 LETTING IT GO HC (MR) $24.95
Finally, you could have an excellent week at the comics shop showing up and only buying this Miriam Katin book, her follow-up to the memoir We Are On Our Own. It's about Katin having to deal with her son's moving to Berlin and the tidal wave of emotions this sets in motion.

*****

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 am actively plotting against you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Fat Superman

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

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Not Comics: From The Art Of Animation

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Lucy Knisley writes about the comics stores of her youth, which I think was about 20 minutes ago. It strikes me, though, that authors write for Huffington Post the way authors used to do editorials for major newspapers when their books came out.

image* Robert Boyd suggests a classic: Matt Madden's History Of Comics In Six Panels.

* not comics: someone out there suggested that you could use the Heritage Auctions site to occasionally look really close-up at art created by people like Norman Rockwell, because of their big, high-res scans.

* Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Are You My Mother? and Time Warp. Rob Kirby on various comics from Oily Comics.

* not comics: a Don Simpson zydeco album cover.

* Don MacPherson explains how some people routinely get Marvel's digital downloads at less than their cost: by buying the free digital copy from a print reader that doesn't want the copy coming to her. This is also a way one gets print comics with a little discount, too, now that I think of it. I think this is one of those things where the math doesn't work in Marvel's favor in your head, but it may work for Marvel long-term by keeping a pair of audiences happy and engaged.

* I love this Gengoroh Tagame bookplate. If I can lose another 35 pounds and grow a mustache, I have a feeling that book will supply me every cosplay idea I'll ever need.

* Maurice Sendak on an artist's life.

* the ratio of art to toys as a supplementary item is probably the snottiest way possible to make snap judgments of other peoples' comics libraries, but I sort of can't help but go there. It's not so much a cast-aspersions as my own interest in comics is almost solely in them as something to read, although I do own some original art because I like original art, too.

* here's a reminder from that fine gentleman Chris Pitzer to get in there and vote for those Harvey noms.

* finally, I don't know why this Winsor McCay is in my bookmarks, but I'm not complaining.
 
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April 2, 2013


Go, Look: Exit Smiling

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Stay, Read: Jim Ottaviani On Library Scans Of Old Strips

So the other day, I wondered out loud about the cost of digital scanning announced for a project involving a very fine Welsh cartoonist's World War I cartoons. Who should see this and write in but everyone's favorite nuclear engineer turned librarian and maker of science comics, Jim Ottaviani. Jim?
In your piece on the digitization project, you wondered why it costs so much money.

Short version: digitization with the goal of preservation and long-term access costs serious money. Doing this right is often a hard sell outside of the library and archives world, though, since it's not easy to tell the difference between a good job and a bad job until it's too late.

Long version: They're working from the originals, and their vintage also means they're likely to be fragile. Even if they're not -- often old paper is better quality than new -- they're still originals, which means they'll want to take great care when handling them... no piling 'em up and letting a sheet feeder go to town. Also, because of the vintage, the resulting images are likely to need significant clean-up to present them as they originally appeared.

If they're including the cost of archiving, that makes it more expensive as well. Creating and hosting multiple versions of the images (archival versions plus web-ready versions), along with maintaining reliable hardware and software with appropriate backups and curation plans so you don't lose all your hard work to the next power outage costs money...again, to do it right you can't just put a couple of hard drives you got at Best Buy in your basement, register a domain with GoDaddy, and use one of their default webpage templates to provide access. Reliable long-term access means more expensive equipment, and people to set it up and then maintain the hardware and software.

They may not be including the cost of the latter, but even if they aren't the piece you linked to notes that money "will go towards training 30 volunteers and 80 under-graduate students at Swansea, in how to care for the original drawings, as well as digital scanning and clean-up techniques." It would probably be cheaper to hire professionals to do it, but they're using the material to teach professional techniques.

So, while $105,000 for 1,300 images doesn't look like a great bargain on the face of it, I suspect a few hours of work will go into each image. At $80/image overall, and in light of what they're doing and how they need to do it, the cost doesn't look crazy to me.
Thanks, Mr. Ottaviani. Please consider buying Primates.
 
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Go, Look: Three From Boulet I Missed

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One Last Thing About The SPX Exhibitor Registration Meltdown

Now that extra tables have been opened up, apologies have been made and the idea of curating has received the necessary due diligence that should come when a system, in this case first-come/first-served registration, experiences some difficulty, I suspect Bethesda's Small Press Expo is moving forward with what is likely to be another good year for one of the jewels of the increasingly crowded and heated convention schedule.

I did have a lingering question, though, one that was suggested to me by several CR readers who were frustrated by what happened. Some folks communicated to me that while they were sympathetic to the server difficulties experienced by SPX, they felt this should have led to the slate being wiped clean and a new registration being scheduled rather than the Expo soldiering on. This feeling was exacerbated by a suspicion that many of them had that alternatives were presented to potential exhibitors durin the meltdown that didn't enjoy 100 percent penetration in terms of who learned of them.

I asked Warren Barnard, the Executive Director of SPX, if he would speak to why the Expo made the decisions they did, why not a do-over? This is the reply he sent.
As you pointed out in your e-mail to me, there are a number of people who felt that the SPX Tablegeddon (Thanks Heidi!) deserved a do-over or that the Paypal process to get your tables registered was somehow gamed one way or another. Allow me to address both of these issues head on.

imageThe decision not to do a do-over was one of both technology and business. On the technology end, as a backup, we had actually put the new registration process on another ISP's servers 48 hours before D-Day. So when our main web site went down and after a lame (at best) response from our ISP, we redirected the traffic to that backup site. Which promptly crashed. This was a clear sign that trying to get a new ISP to meet our clearly robust operational needs was going to be challenge. Not knowing when we could find someone who could do the job was not an option, as we were running out of calendar time to get the tables sold.

Which brings us to the business reasons. First, there are a number of exhibitors who count on SPX for debuts of new books as the show occurs at the start of the Fall book selling season. They need to know whether to schedule guests for book tours, allocate funds for travel, etc. Telling everyone we were going to postpone again (we had already postponed twice) to a date that we could not define because of the above technical constraint was not an acceptable alternative.

The second business reason for not having a do-over was that SPX already had peoples money for more tables than were at last years show. This issue of refunding money and the bad feelings that would have engendered was something we were not fond of in terms of a task that would need to be performed if we did this again.

It was also this issue of already having the money that was the driver to open the room up. We did not want to open the can of PR worms that would have ensued if we started refunding money to some people, but not to others. Once we did the calculations, we realized that luckily we could accommodate everyone who paid with an expanded ballroom, solving that problem.

Now, the decision to post the exhibitor form on Google Docs and open up Paypal directly was not ever conceived as an alternative method. In fact, this process was thought of after we saw the second site crash, and this process was strictly meant to relieve pressure on the web site. We hoped enough people would go to the Paypal/adhoc method, allowing the website to start processing.

Alas, only 11 tables were processed through the web site, showing that even after getting people off the site, it still could not handle the process of orders.

To get the word out about this adhoc process, we clearly could not use the web site itself, we which don't use as the main method of communication to SPX Nation anyway. We could not use our e-mail lists, as we knew a number people who were not on those lists were trying to get tables. Plus, using this method would have given preference to previous exhibitors as well as those attendees who signed up for e-mail (of which some may have wanted tables), something that we would not want to do.

So we used our social media streams, our normal methods of communications, to tell everyone about the change. At this point Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook comprise some 50,000 SPX followers, so we felt if people were going to find out about this, this was the only way to get the word out. Using social media allowed as much of a democratic and random process as the original signup via the website would have. And to give an idea as to SPX's social media reach, that Sunday #SPX actually got up to #5 trending on Twitter.

In fact, to show how democratic and random the process really was, of the 244 people who got tables through the adhoc Paypal/Google Doc process, 134 of them we did not have on our Master Exhibitor e-mail list and will be new exhibitors at this years show.

Now, a perspective as to how fast things moved. Once the Paypal/Google Doc method was posted, starting with Box Brown's order (we love you Box!!) at 12:50PM, we sold out 202 tables in 30 minutes. That is selling a little over a table every 10 seconds. This helps explain why the web site crashed. Those people who were all hitting the Enter key at the same time when the web site was up at Noon were now dispersed timing wise through Paypal, because not everyone was on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr at the same time to get the word about the new process. No question we would have sold out in like 5-10 minutes, tops, if the site had not crashed.

After this years show, we are going to re-think how the table registration process is done, as there were many lessons learned that we need to integrate into a new way of doing this. So no thought whatsoever is going to go into table registration until then, as we have a show to run and need to focus on that for the next 136 days (but who's counting).

We hope this helps explain the background as to what happened vis-a-vis these two topics.

To everyone who went through all of this, well, once again, we are sorry.

But we also want to thank the tremendous support SPX Nation has shown us as we have gone through this experience.

We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to the show and I can't wait to meet the all of the new exhibitors who will be there for the first time.

Warren
I'm happy to have those issues addressed at CR, and appreciate Mr. Bernard's time. It looks that they'll keep the first-come, first-served element of registration, and I hope that remains the case. I was an active proponent for SPX moving to curation 15 years ago, but that was before the rise of all these other festivals that make good use of that tool plus another 15 years of SPX doing it the way they do it. This also strikes me as one of those incidents that is going to have a hangover, and that we'll at least reference it psychically when the next odd thing in terms of the Expo becomes an issue. It's the cost of hitting one's stride.
 
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Go, Look: A Johnny Craig Facebook Gallery

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Go, Look: George Herriman Tagged On Tumblr

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I forgot to mention this, but Matt Madden noted that his mini-comic with Jessica Abel and Lewis Trondheim, Cavalcade Surprise, will join L'Association's Patte De Mouche series at some later date.

image* here's a look at their catalog more generally. A lot of compelling works there; the Tom Gauld is the only one with which I'm familiar.

* Mark Waid and Paul Smith will be doing a Spirit/Rocketeer series.

* there will be a new Katie Skelly-edited mini-comic anthology called Out The Window available this weekend at MoCCA and, one guesses, subsequently through regular channels and directly.

* about 20 minutes after last week's "Bundled" column went live, First Second sent along a press release about their Fall 2013 season. I believe it's a repeat, or at least there was nothing on this list of which I was unaware. So I don't think it's the announcement of the slate. Still, it's worth repeating that information, as First Second is of general and continuing interest to comics readers. The 2013 First Second Fall season will be: Battling Boy, by Paul Pope; Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang; Fairy Tale Comics, by various; Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action, by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost; Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff; The Cute Girl Network, by Greg Means, MK Reed, and Joe Flood; Tune: Still Life, by Derek Kirk Kim and Les McClaine. That's a super-solid line-up, and I think a lot of people are waiting to see if the Cliff book can be a strong performer in this market.

* the art direction on the new edition of the Gene Deitch music-related cartoons looks nice.

* the third issue of Suspect Device is either imminent or upon us.

* more Baltic comics anthology goodness; that one should be out in about three weeks.

* the title Quantum And Woody is returning as an ongoing; that was a well-liked comic book serial of its day.

* the writer Warren Ellis is teaming with the artist Mike McKone on an original graphic novel starring the Avengers property, initially created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. I like Ellis' superhero comics, and would be interested to see what he would do with the extra pages.

* here's a report on the launch of a Steve Job biography in serialized manga form.

* finally, Kevin Huizenga put out a new mini-comic about eight days ago; you should own all the Kevin Huizenga you can.

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Not Comics: Boris Artzybasheff Covers For Golden Book Magazine

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Go, Look: François Vigneault

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Lisa Hanawalt was named to a 30 under 30 list by Print.

image* Erica Friedman on No Straight Lines.

* that's a nice picture of Jim Borgman from 20-plus years ago, learning he won the Pulitzer.

* I didn't link to the 24 Hours Of Women Cartoonists posting series when it was initially being unfurled over at The Beat, because I suck, but you can catch up with it here.

* I greatly enjoy SuperMutant Magic Academy and look forward to seeing these posters at MoCCA.

* Patrick Ford sent along a link to this early-March interview at Discaholic with Robert Crumb, which would be worth it just for the photo up top.

* I have to say, I sort of still don't understand how a publisher that seeks crowd-funding on anything other than the most bizarre project in the entire world stays a publisher, or at least a viable publisher that anyone might treat seriously. I can understand how there might be exceptions to this notion, but it seems to me that if you're not bringing capital to the table, your ability to do all the other things a publisher does has to be pretty first-rate in order to justify your participation on any level. Then again, it could be that treating publishers seriously is severely over-rated from the perspective of the publisher, and whatever it takes to get material out becomes paramount. I'm not sure.

* the shelving at the CCS Library is super-attractive.

* Zack Smith talks to Darryl Cunningham. Amid Amidi talks to Walt Peregoy. Paul Povse talks to Tom Englehardt back in 2010.

* here's a cute-looking bracket-type thing for superhero comics runs.

* Gary Tyrrell urges initial caution in coming to any sudden conclusions that one property is a rip-off of another, particularly when those properties deal in pretty broad strokes. I think that's good advice no matter where this particular one ends up -- or has ended up, as I'm probably not the best source for close-watching on a story like this.

* finally, the CSU Long Beach Union Weekly profiles Meltdown Comics, one of the core retailers of the entire Direct Market system.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, James Vance!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Mike Barreiro!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Ive Sorocuk!

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April 1, 2013


Go, Look: Ronald Searle In LIFE Magazine, 1957

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Your 2013 Best Graphic Story Hugo Nominees

This year's slate of Hugo Awards nominees have been announced. They come with a Graphic Story category. Those nominees are:

* Grandville Bête Noire, Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
* Locke & Key Volume Five: Clockworks, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
* Saga Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Image)
* Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia, Howard Tayler and Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
* Saucer Country, Volume One: Run, Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly and Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (DC/Vertigo)

In addition, the comics-related book Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them was nominated in the Best Related Work category, and the comics-related film The Avengers was nominated in Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

The winners are to be announced on September 1 in San Antonio, Texas. Serving as toastmaster will be Graphic Story nominee Paul Cornell. Past winners of the Graphic Story category include Digger and volumes 9-10 of Girl Genius.
 
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Go, Look: Meghan Turbitt

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Bundled Extra: Jeff Smith Artist's Edition, Webcomic

imageThere was a bunch of pretty interesting comics news out of WonderCon; as a big-publisher, mainstream show, it's a handy way for comics people to drive attention to future projects through panel announcements and accessing press both on site and eager to do something in coordination with the show.

The cartoonist Jeff Smith had the most interesting pair of announcements.

The first is that he'll be doing a prehistoric story with comedic elements called Tuki Save The Humans that will feature a significant free digital/on-line component. I read that here first. That's worth noting because a) new Jeff Smith, b) Smith is one of the last two decades' biggest proponent of serial indy comics, so this is a shift, c) we don't have a ton of creator-driven projects in digital form with comics-makers that have an established comic-book past, at least not yet.

For the second, here's an interview with Artist's Edition series editor Scott Dunbier about adding a collection of Jeff Smith stories to the books with the original art/color photocopied format that everyone loves so well. I believe Smith either all of his original art or practically all of his art, minus a few gifts perhaps, so he's a natural for this kind of treatment. I hope this means we'll see a run of independent-era cartoonists in this series. One of my worries when it was announced was that the financial investment involved meant that we'd only get really top-selling work: Walt Simonson and Frank Miller and that kind of comic -- which I love seeing, of course, but it's nice that we may get a variety of styles available to us in this series.

The initial Bone book will focus on the storyline "The Great Cow Race" with some extras and more perhaps made available in different editions down the line. I find Smith's originals sort of fascinating, so I'm glad others will get to see them.
 
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Go, Look: Ahn Zhe

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Go, Look: An MW Kaluta Facebook Gallery

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Go, Look: Forthcoming Classes And Events At SAW

I have not quite figured out how to run word of classes and events through learning institutions on this site, and there's no bigger gap in my desire to cover that material and my displayed ability to do so than with Sequential Artists Workshop. So maybe just go over here for a bit, especially if you're anywhere near Florida or know anyone that is, while I figure this out for SAW and for other institutions more generally.

You might also follow their presence through Tumblr. I can try to get a stand-alone link up to that site at some point, and will. Last night's show at KGB raised a few dollars for the place; I hope you'll consider supporting it as you're able and inclined in other ways.
 
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Go, Read: Cartoon Machine

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* this nice person sent me a link to their Kickstarter, a comic called GYR. Seems pretty straight-forward to me. The nice thing is when you send one of these long-running campaigns I can cut and paste it and run it on multiple column days.

image* this would be a good time to buy some JR Williams original art, if you're so inclined. JR's art is great -- his is the first art I bought when I moved to Seattle back in '94.

* a Jesse Reklaw-related crowd-funder? Yes.

* Frank Cho will take a Liberty Meadows project to crowd-funding in September.

* here's one from I think Turkey with artists from all around the world involved.

* the Tripwire crowd-funder is ongoing.

* Crowd-funding was a significant subject of this panel at WonderCon.

* Reading Frenzy isn't a comics store as much as it is a 'zine and small-publications shop, but I certainly bought comics and comics-related things there when I lived in the Pacific Northwest and I generally found it a swell place to go. Here's a crowd-funder they're doing. It's hard to imagine Portland without it.

* I totally missed that Radio Comix had a fundraiser because of an accounting snafu. They didn't need my help.

* the Caravan of Comics people are back at again.

* the Roman Dirge hospital-bills effort remains ongoing, while this post is still at the top of Peter David's site.

* this Australia/New Zealand fundraiser is heading into its final hours.

* finally, Jason Lutes wrote me about this interesting-looking project for which he's seeking crowd-funding. I might try to run this link again, but I thought it was interesting for a couple of reasons: one, there haven't been a ton of crowd-funder run by cartoonists of Lutes' caliber and generational profile; two, I think we could see a point where we have a lot of people running secondary projects through crowd-funding mechanisms.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Wangela Wrong

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there was a rolling story last week about the use of terminology in one of the Marvel comic books that was interpreted, sometimes angrily, in the context of a longstanding assertion that Marvel's comics with mutants in them are most effectively regarded in terms of those elements that provide insight into bigotry. I commented on it here to say that I basically think that such a conception is at best a blunt, broad metaphor so of course it's going to break down almost immediately and under tons of circumstances, and that's despite all the legitimate and even enlightening uses for blunt, broad metaphors. The most earnest and thoroughly written article on the matter from the perspective of those that engage with those comics more regularly was probably here; the writer of the comic apologized for snapping at fans here; I agree with most everything David Brothers writes here.

image* how on earth did I miss these fun cartoonist portraits by Chris Schweizer? Here's one such post.

* not comics: here's a whiskey named after Loki. As much as whiskey has lied to me in the past, with its promises of no hangovers and that I would be better looking to women if I drank a bit more, this seems entirely appropriate.

* Allan Holtz and company attempt to solve "The Frank Moser Mystery." Those are nice-looking strips.

* David Harper talks to Dennis Hopeless.

* Bob Temuka on Hit-Girl. Rob Clough on Graphic Classics: Mark Twain. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Sean Gaffney on Tokyo Babylon Omnibus Vol. 1. Brian Gardes on Bad Machinery: The Case Of The Team Spirit. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Hawkgirl: The Maw. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on a bunch of different comics. Joe Gordon on The Massive Vol. 1. Richard Bruton on Channel Evil.

* here's a piece on the use of Fourth World characters in Lois Lane, of all places. I always loved the way the Fourth World stuff interacts with the rest of the DC material. That stuff is really potent because it's Kirby, but it also settles uneasily into the core of that universe, I think, which is still this Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman triumvirate. It's like DC has this central myth to it and then this other myth, and the other myth is so vital it kind of crashes into the first myth constantly, like an angry storm slapping against a genteel seawall.

* no one would ever make fun of Superman for this.

* finally, Alex Buchet writes on Steve Ditko's collaborations with studio-mate Eric Stanton.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, James Robinson!

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Happy 16th Birthday, Radio Comix!

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Happy 24th Birthday, Comix Experience!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Bob Lappan!

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Happy 10th Birthday, Partyka!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Brad Meltzer!

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