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
















August 31, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


The Polish Rider


CBS This Morning Feature On Charles Addams
via Mike Lynch


Tad Dorgan Animation
also via Mike Lynch


Jim Unger Remembered


Poorly-Lit Tour Through One Person's Comic Book Collection


Video For Lost Art of Matt Baker: The Complete Canteen Kate
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 24 to August 30, 2013:

1. A trial date was set for former prominent fan presence and convention organizer Ed Kramer, after a dozen-plus years of legal delays.

2. First inaugural 9th Art Prize goes to The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.

3. Big week for comics anniversaries: Walt Kelly would have been 100, Robert Crumb turned 70, and Jack Kirby would have been 96. There was actually enough oomph behind the Kirby birthday this year for me to think that this could become a yearly thing.

Winner Of The Week
Stephen Collins.

Losers Of The Week
Every other panel this year. Oh, I'm kidding, but still: that should be something.

Quote Of The Week
"He was different from almost all the men who followed him on the comics he began. They were interested in producing a good, well-drawn issue of that book... and some, of course, succeeded very well. Jack was first and foremost interested in producing something that would take comics to some new plateau, creating new opportunities and new possibilities. He was also more interested than anyone else who ever worked in comics in creating work that would generate new revenue for his publisher. He had a steadfast, if foolhardy at times, belief that if he made his publishers and collaborators wealthier, some of that wealth would trickle down to him. That, sadly, almost never happened. In fact, it sometimes seemed to work in reverse: The more he made them, the less they seemed inclined to share." -- Mark Evanier

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

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Go, Look: Dave Zissou

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If I Were In Chapel Hill, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In SF, 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 Going To Calgary, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 67th Birthday, Rick Parker!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Shizue Takanashi

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August 30, 2013


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

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Go, Look: Andy Hood

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Go, Read: Marc-Oliver Frisch On The DM's True Nature

Marc-Oliver Frisch does the analysis of the Direct Market approximations for DC Comics at The Beat. His analysis tends to be admirably aggressive and pointed in a milieu that favors amelioration and glad-handing, so I tend those like those aspects of those reports even when I'm not totally on board. This week he goes after a notion that Direct Market stores are a collection of content-driven business entities. He says, "No way."

I think he overstates his case. The New 52 effort from two years ago did have a content aspect, and certain comics were promoted and anticipated over others based on that content: the changes in the characters generally, the Grant Morrison efforts, rising star Scott Snyder on the main Batman book partnered with Greg Capullo, two big guns of Johns and Lee on Justice League, changes to characters like Wonder Woman, John Constantine and Grifter, and so on. I would suggest that the reason the stunt aspect of that line relaunch may dominate in memory is because DC failed to provide compelling content across a wide array of titles for a sustained period of time in a way that allowed them to keep the eyeballs that fell on them due to the successful stunt -- whether that's editorial overreach, the shotgun nature of the relaunch, the lack of creator development at the company for years now or what, that's all there to be analyzed.

The unfortunate thing about Frisch making such a sweeping statement is that it allows for that statement to be refuted in the extreme rather than in the main. Because there is certainly a great attention to and buying-in where stunts and gimmicks and toys and collectible covers are concerned that works in kind of weird, not-always-beneficial partnership to the content-driven elements. That's the true tragedy, I'd suggest: that these two notions do battle and that those stores that would benefit in the long-term from content-driven, slow-growth strategies -- like Brian Hibbs' -- are constantly having to adjust to short-term gimmicks and stunts and the industry that warps itself around them.
 
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Go, Look: Far-Out Fiction

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Collective Memory: Jack Kirby Day, 2013

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this article has now been archived
 
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Go, Look: Captain Science #1

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: Digital News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* missed it: Kyle Baker has launched an on-line strip, Meh. The comics industry is much, much better off when there's an active and engaged Kyle Baker doing work within it.

* comiXology debuted its digital retailer storefronts this week. I love the idea of those programs that a reader can work with a participating local comics shop in making sure they're roped into the purchasing process of digital comics. It's very comics-culture in a good way, I think, and there was a time about 12-15 years ago I think a lot of us saw Internet retail working like this program more generally.

* a couple of you have pointed out to me that Achewood has continued to update after its lengthy break. There's an argument to be made that Achewood was the comic of the '00s, and it's not a bad argument. Gary Tyrrell notes that a number of strips that haven't always updated are updating right now.

* Derf Backderf is still trying out a new arrangement with GoComics.com with his The City. It's my understanding whether or not it continues in the long terms depends on people signing up for it.

* finally, Marvel is offering an incentive-laden premium version of its "unlimited" digital package. I think that's a pretty good package at its core -- I'm not the target audience for convention exclusives and related merchandise, but I like having access to a massive number of comic books. In addition, while I ascribe some value to reading those comics, I don't perceive of them as being worth the full price being asked for them in print form -- I'm a dollar-bin buyer of superhero comics when I buy them at all. If you're a comics person that knows they'll be in a place to read a lot of comics some year, this seems like it would be a good deal -- it'd be what I'd buy for someone looking for comics to read in the hospital, for instance, or a superhero comics reader that is looking forward to a lot of travel or a new, lengthy commute.
 
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If I Were In Vancouver, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Dan Tayler, Boy Detective

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* John Freeman profiles Weirdo via a Knockabout collection. What a great, great comics magazine that was.

image* Zack Smith talks to Paul Pope. Will Scott talks to Olivier TaDuc. Tim O'Shea talks to Steve Orlando. JK Parkin talks to Stan Sakai.

* Gerry Alanguilan writes about what not getting stuff for free meant to him as a young reader. I think that does have a significant impact on how material is consumed, although I don't want to make sweeping claims for a specific experience for any one person. I know that people talk about getting stuff from the library and how that has an impact on how people engage with a medium, but I think there's a cost in how we get stuff from the library, a burden that readers take on (going there, registering, negotiating that system) that brings with it a psychological trigger that's closer to buying than the modern phenomenon of getting things for free on-line.

* not comics: Le Petit Nicolas in Yiddish.

* Joe Gordon on the new Marc-Antoine Mathieu. Frank Santoro on new small-press comics. Jonah Lang on Thunderbolts #14. Ricky Miller on Bloodshot #0. Andy Oliver on The End Of The Fucking World. Tom Bondurant on Trinity War. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Batman Incorporated Special #1.

* Paul Allor gives back.

image* Corey Blake profiles the Eisner Awards.

* not comics: I haven't read this piece yet, but there are a couple of ideas in the subject matter that I imagine apply to comics. How much of the curriculum at the schools that teach comics needs to engage with on-line opportunities? How much of a responsibility in general do schools like that have to prepare their students for changing financial realities in the commercial realm attached to their art form?

* Alan Gardner catches Richard Schickel reviewing the Herblock documentary.

* the artist Frank Cho talks about the desire to do creator-driven projects. I'm sure there is an element of creative frustration involved in a situation like Cho's, although it's worth pointing out that the model career fro comics-makers right now includes creator-driven projects.

* folks love naughty comics in commercially accessible styles.

* finally, it's fun to look at these Mandrake scans, even though some of them are pretty rough in terms of image quality.
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, Jacques Tardi!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Ken Bruzenak!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Robert Crumb!

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August 29, 2013


Festivals Extra: CAB To Feature City Of Glass Panel With Karasik, Mazzucchelli, Auster & Spiegelman

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Comic Arts Brooklyn announced the first of its very selected panels schedule with something rumored but I don't think confirmed: a panel featuring Paul Auster, Paul Karasik, David Mazzucchelli and Art Spiegelman talking about the adaptation of Auster's City Of Glass prose work into the celebrated graphic novel bearing that same name. It will be presented as the "20th Anniversary: Birth Of City Of Glass" panel, and I imagine people are lining up now because that room is going to be ridiculously crammed, like a Jack Kirby panel stuffed full of people stuffed. The only people I can be certain will find seats are the four participants.

Karasik is the festival's director of programming. This will be the first time the four men have appeared in public to talk about the work.

City Of Glass remains an eminently readable, compelling work and one with a wide influence in comics for anyone who wants to work with certain elements of formal play.
 
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Go, Look: The Gosh Comics Events Photo Page

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Festivals Extra: MIX Early Registration; Comic-Con Registration

I mentioned in the Festivals article below this post that I'll be at MIX 2013, held by the Columbus College of Art and Design, next month. I noticed when putting together my links that they're about to end early registration, and then I noticed I had an e-mail reminding me of the same thing. So if you're going to be on hand, it would behoove you to get that done sooner rather than later.

I've had three e-mails from people asking after Comic-Con 2014 badge sales. I'm going to assume that the passion for that event has people pressing for any sort of advantage they can think of, including asking me, because the web site seems pretty clear. I still made poor David Glanzer answer my e-mail, and he highlighted the appropriate text: "Comic-Con is working hard to improve the online registration system and will launch Comic-Con 2014 badge preregistration sometime between November 1 and December 31, 2013."
 
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Go, Look: Blimpy

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By Request Extra: Jess Jonsin On eBay; Rich/Nourigat Sale

There were a couple of cartoonists-trying-to-raise money efforts that I thought might work better this week rather than waiting for Monday. The first is I noticed the cartoonist Jess Jonsin has an eBay auction up featuring Jim Woodring mini-comics. I saw a note somewhere that Jonsin didn't ever intend to sell this item, which indicates to me the sale could use your attention. The writer Jamie S. Rich is holding a Labor Day moving sale on the store he keeps for his own work and that of the cartoonist Natalie Nourigat. Both are movie: Rich within Portland; Nourigat to France.
 
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Not Comics: A Sammy Harkham Print

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Go, Look: Terrors Of The Jungle #4

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* this photo of Werner Herzog at Comic-Con is indeed beautiful. I nearly ran over David Cronenberg one year in one of the back hallways after a panel. He looked not particularly happy.

* Michael Cavna talks to Oni Hartstein about Intervention, another convention with a comics component trying to steer slightly one side or the other of the traditional model.

* SPX named its final special guests -- I'm guessing they're the final special guests -- about eight, nine days ago: Adrian Tomine and Anders Nilsen. Those are both fine cartoonists.

* Comic Arts Brooklyn has a nice line-up of exhibitors, as generally strong as the BCGF that precedes them.

* also, SPX programming is up. Looks good. I'll be talking to Seth in the late afternoon on Saturday, and I hope you come. Please don't heckle. At the very least that means I have the excuse to run some Seth art along with this post. SPX will be one of four shows I'm hoping to do this Fall, health and circumstances allowing, along with MIX and CAB and the Billy Ireland thing. I'm looking forward to them all and to seeing many of you at each one. I wish had the resources and energy to do more.

* Johanna Draper Carlson wonders out loud if Wizard's announced convention film festival is workable.

* Dash Shaw writes about Frank Santoro's Pompeii in advance of their shared panel at SPX.

* a short piece from the Edinburgh Book Festival.

* finally, Rob Clough on Autoptic.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Yet More Great Cartoons Of The World

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* the Black Widow surveys the post-fight landscape. That is a handsome superhero comics panel.

* Hannah Means-Shannon on Heck.

* Zack Smith talks to Benjamin Marra. Matthew Santori-Griffith talks to Freddie Williams II. Simon Willis profiles Chris Ware.

* backlash against released designs for a revamped character have led the writer of the book in question to push back. That is odd on a bunch of levels, but pretty standard for comics culture, I guess.

* not comics: that's a lot of people injured by that show.a

* Matthew Santori-Griffith on Justice League #23.

* finally, Kevin Church walks us through 45 years of official Star Trek efforts in the comic books.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Mark Heath!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Jason Latour!

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August 28, 2013


Jack Kirby, The King Of Comics, Would Have Been 96 Today

Jack Kirby, the mighty heart of the American comic book industry, would have been 96 years old today. Below is a tiny, even insignificant sample of his awesome image-making power, many of which were culled from around the Internet, for your ruminative and reflective pleasure. Long live the King.

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on average, i usually screw up about two of these,

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Go, Explore: Gallery At WhatIfKirby.com

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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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MAY130382 LOAC ESSENTIALS HC VOL 03 POLLY AND HER PALS 1933 $24.99
It's an odd week in the comics shops, but you can't go wrong with these Library Of American Comics efforts so let's start there. Cliff Sterrett isn't one of those cartoonists with whom I have an already-settled "we'll just stay friends" relationship, but he's not exactly on the immediate call-after-I-die list, either. I'd love to read some more, and a full year of the strip in its prime seems like a great way to reintroduce myself to that material.

imageJUL131197 HENRY AND GLENN FOREVER AND EVER #1 (MR) $5.00
JUN130554 MORNING GLORIES #30 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
JUN130560 SEX #6 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUN130027 ITTY BITTY HELLBOY #1 $2.99
JUN130047 MASSIVE #15 $3.50
JUN130045 MIND MGMT #14 $3.99
JUN130249 ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #4 $3.99
JUN130197 BATMAN INCORPORATED SPECIAL #1 $4.99
An odd and not particularly strong week for comic-book format style comics, which means my eyes would roam a bit. The Henry And Glenn comic should be a decent showcase for a lot of Tom Neely's friends-in-comics, and that's a joke that by its nature is funnier the more comics are done. I don't understand Morning Glories, but I sort of enjoy the fact that I don't understand it. The Sex is Joe Casey, and is about as dense and odd as comics come right now. The Itty Bitty Hellboy is Art Baltazar and Franco, the best at that tiny-superheroes style that you see around here and there on-line and usually not in comics shops because, you know, kids stuff = ick in that world a lot of the time. Massive and Mind Mgmt are two of Dark Horse's series featuring in-their-prime mainstream comics genre creator, a sign of their seriousness when it comes to making that format work on the stands. The two DC comics are the on-line Superman thing gone into print, which usually has a comic or two worth reading and the non-Grant Morrison "Batman, Incorporated" book that features a lot of the characters from Morrison's lengthy run.

APR130077 CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES HC VOL 05 $49.99
This is one of those series that I'm super-glad exists, and I have the previous four volumes, but I've maybe read 3/4ths of one? I guess that sounds like a slight dismissal, but I prefer to see it as my having such a strong desire to own this material that I'm happy to buy it ahead of my being able to make the time to enjoy it. Charlie Biro 4-ever.

FEB130373 STEVE DITKO MONSTERS HC VOL 02 KONGA $34.99
I don't remember listing the first one of these -- I probably did, though. At any rate, I'm not as big a fan of all of Steve Ditko's work that many comic-book nuts are, but I do like the monster material and I always enjoy looking at Ditko's pages. One to pick up, for sure.

JUN130618 ROCKET RACCOON TP TALES FROM HALF WORLD $7.99
This is Mike Mignola on the Marvel character turned potential breakout star of next year's relative risk of a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie. I enjoy Mignola's earlier work, although I have no special fondness for this character and find the shtick a little tiresome and obvious. It could potentially work great up on screen; then again, I thought Howard the Duck would do well, too. Anthropomorphism... what are you going to do?

FEB130216 ABSOLUTE SUPERMAN BATMAN HC VOL 01 $99.99
MAY130257 LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN OMNIBUS TP $29.99
APR130263 SANDMAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 (MR) $150.00
MAY130232 JACK KIRBYS OMAC ONE MAN ARMY CORPS TP $19.99
A slight sampling of works from that awesome part of DC comics that seems dedicated in whole rather than just part to the republication of material in various book formats. I'd love to see all of these, I'd probably only eventually buy the second one. I love those OMAC comics -- and it's a Jack Kirby comic you can buy on Kirby Day -- but I have them in comic book form, most of them twice. I assume that the OMAC in questions is a reprint of those original Kirby books rather than something that's come since, but you should definitely look inside before you buy.

imageMAY131432 DEVIL IS IN DETAILS EXAMINING MATT MURDOCK & DAREDEVIL SC $15.99
Daredevil is the most fun Marvel Comics character from a number of historical perspective: the Wally Wood Road Not Taken (by Marvel or Wood), the fact that it is largely divorced from both Kirby and Ditko, the great Bill Everett's involvement, the eventually Frank Miller-driven revival/rebirth, and so on. This is a book about comics, so be warned. But I'm down.

MAY131196 SCIENCE A DISCOVERY IN COMICS HC $19.99
This is a survey of scientific progress from Margaret de Heer, and a follow-up to a similar book about philosophy. I don't do the job I should covering NBM comics, but this seems like a worthy project.

JUN130419 RIP KIRBY HC VOL 06 $49.99
This is the second volume featuring the art of the greatly-underrated John Prentice, who isn't exactly Alex Raymond when it comes to name recognition -- I'd forgotten he'd taken over until someone reminded me -- but could really make with the handsome art.

JUN130411 SAM KIETH SAMPLINGS & DABBLINGS SC $19.99
I have no idea what of Sam Kieth's we're getting here, but I always look at whatever he publishes. It's a great thing that a lot of his work has come back to market in the last 48 months or so.

JUN130410 VISUAL FUNK JIM MAHFOOD ART HC $49.99
I wan't aware Jim Mahfood was working with IDW; that seems like a solid and appropriate partnership.

MAR138285 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC BOX SET 1963-1966 $49.95
JUN131143 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC BOX SET 1963-1966 $49.95
I'm very glad that Fantagraphics is keeping various earlier books and sets from this series in print. I don't know if that's part of the contract or not -- I guess it could be -- but it's not easy for a publisher of any size to keep such a massive number of works available so just on execution alone it's super-admirable.

JUN131211 SMURFS GN VOL 16 AEROSMURF $5.99
JUN131212 SMURFS HC VOL 16 AEROSMURF $10.99
I have greatly enjoyed these Smurfs books, more than I thought I would, although the eye strain at the kid-friendly size at which these are published is a squint-a-thon.

MAY131418 ALTER EGO #120 $8.95
MAY131419 BACK ISSUE #67 $8.95
That is an amazing number of issues, on both of those publication.

APR131132 NUDNIK REVEALED HC $29.99
Gene Deitch! It was actually great to meet Deitch at San Diego last summer; his fans were super-polite and super, super intense.

MAY131141 END O/T F$$$ING WORLD GN (MR) $19.99
Finally, this is Chuck Forsman's book, which has been previewed and pre-released released and promoted pretty well even if you leave out the fact that it was serialized to several hundred readers as a series of mini-comics. I enjoyed the work, and I think Forsman is a cartoonist to watch.

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The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.

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Go, Like: Kirby4Heroes Campaign

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Please Consider Celebrating Jack Kirby's 96th Birthday With A Small Donation To The Hero Initiative

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Today would have been the late Jack Kirby's 96th birthday. I hope that you'll enjoy some of his work today, in whatever form you can find it. I also hope that you'll consider a charitable act in celebration. The Hero Initiative helps out creators that find themselves, for whatever reason, or the wrong side of history and needing assistance in some way. It's a charity that the Kirby Family endorses. This year I sent $9.60 to the charity, a small price I'm more than happy to pay for all the joy Kirby's comics have provided me over the years. I hope you'll do something similar, and encourage your friends in comics to do the same.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Kirby On Tumblr

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If I Were In Portland, 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: The Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this comic featuring Bill Watterson's words drawn in a close approximation of his style is making its way through the image-driven social networking world like a bag of White Castle. I enjoyed it, though, and it's interesting advice -- the material at the bottom is fairly complete if you're looking to know more about the comic and its other creator.

image* Kelly Thompson on Uncanny X-Men #10. Johanna Draper Carlson on Autobiographical Conversations. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comic books. Grant Goggans on more of those Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. Asher J. Klassen on Collider #1. James Romberger on a bunch of different comics.

* disposable is not a dirty word. Did someone say it is?

* Mary Beth Quirk talks to Lisa Hanawalt. David Betancourt talks to Jeff Lemire and Geoff Johns.

* I don't stop by the Library Of American Comics blog as much as I should: right now there's a correction from a recent Superman volume -- cool strip -- and a couple of pieces of good-looking Alex Toth animation art.

* one occasional writer-about-comics' comics feed.

* Mike Sterling writes about comic books whose back-issue price, at one point high, became not very high at all. The first comic book I can remember this happening to was Howard The Duck, although I was young enough that it probably didn't drop a lot. Still, it was remarkable to me as a kid because I had been trained to think that comics would always go up in price forever.

* Josh Kopin on an aspect of Gilbert Hernandez's work.

* I love looking at these comics starring Krypto The Super-Dog. It would be nice if in a matter-of-fact way the comic book marketplace allowed for stuff like this, and not in a "tee-hee, look at us making kids comics!" way.

* totally missed this Bill Holman material.

* finally, Chris Marshall presents a 30-day comics-related challenge that seems like something just about anyone could do.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Joann Sfar!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Elijah Brubaker!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Benoît Peeters!

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August 27, 2013


Go, Look: Pascal Blanchet

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The Nepalese Cartoonist Jyapoo Has Apparently Passed Away

imageFor some reason, I can't access any of the articles, but it seems as if some of the international wire services with English-language reach carried word over the last couple of days that the Nepal-based cartoonist Ujjwol Kundan passed away on Sunday. He was 59 years old. Kundan worked one the name "Jyapoo." I believe that may be one of his cartoons to the right. He lived in Kathmandu. The name "Jyapoo" I come to take as a comedic spin on a name for the people of that region; and certainly indicates a kinship with the average citizen.

I always think that cartooning in that part of the world is an interesting thing because some countries don't seem to have any sort of cartooning tradition before the mid-20th Century, or at least not one that provides a continuity past to present. So you're still on generation one in a lot of those places. You also tend to have a real lack of barriers between print or static cartooning and animation. Kundan was trained in Czechoslovakia at one point as part of an overt cultural exchange between those two countries.

Kundan was also a painter. You can see a photo here.
 
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Go, Look: Children Of Doom

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Go, Read: One-Sentence Per Graph Profile Of Gerald Scarfe

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I hope you'll forgive me the indulging of posting a link to this profile of Gerald Scarfe. I mean, it's a pretty good piece, and Scarfe is always interesting. The reason I'm posting it here, though, is based on a couple of selfish things. One is that I love newspaper profiles where basically every paragraph is a single sentence -- don't ask me why. I think it has something to do with the fact that this was a signifier of tabloid, fun newspapers I only ever read when my family was on vacation. My father's newspaper punished with the lengthy graphs. The other reason I post Scarfe pieces is in the hope that someday Gary Groth will get to interview him: I think it's one of three or four missing interviews in Groth's long and distinguished career.
 
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Go, Look: MTV Geek Begins A Week Of Jack Kirby Posts

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Ed Kramer Trial Scheduled For Early December

The trial of convention organizer and Atlanta comics community fixture Ed Kramer on charges related to child molestation will apparently take place in early December, according to a regional newspaper article. The trial should be about ten days, and while come accommodations look likely to deal with Kramer's litany of supposed health issues, it doesn't look like anything that will keep a trial from coming off. There was also a move to secure Kramer's immediate release, on the basis that an agreement that prosecutors used to jail the accused and bring him back to the region after he was found in a hotel room with a boy had been modified and no longer applies.

This new ruling and scheduling took place slightly over 13 years after Kramer's initial arrest.

Kramer's use of money made from the major regional convention Dragon*Con to facilitate a lengthy legal process that has delayed this trial, and Kramer's alleged actions with young people more generally, was the focus of a creator-led boycott and general calling-attention-to on the matter. The convention has since reformed in a way that Kramer received a buyout. That show's 2013 iteration starts this week.
 
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Go, Look: Vanesa R. Del Rey

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I totally missed this, but Emily Carroll announced an adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak for 2016. That should be very interesting.

image* that nice young cartoonist Joseph Remnant has debuted a Blindspot #3 cover and announced it will be available at SPX 2013.

* About Comics is offering a color edition of It's Only A Game. That sounds nice.

* it's not exactly news and more like a "here it comes" notice, but here comes this year's Best American Comics and its cool-looking Kate Beaton cover. One underrated thing about that project is when the cartoonists serving as guest editor encounter new talent or get really into their work for the first time and come out the other side as enthusiastic fans of their work.

* Simon Moreton has announced a forthcoming major work from Grimalkin Press.

* more Seaguy. Probably not real soon for that one, though, have to imagine that's in the far future. Or not, what the hell do I know? Wait, here's an update.

* Hope Larson talks to the LA Times comics-focused site about her next graphic novel project, Four Points. I'm always impressed when cartoonists have real publicity photos -- seriously, that's a great thing.

* if that's what this means, Nina Bunjevac doing a biography of Nikola Tesla could be fascinating.

* looks like The Walking Dead will see another major covers-related sales thingamabob, a little more than a year after its #100 covers help drive sales on that one through the roof. One of the big worries about covers is that ignorant retailers will over extend itself -- there aren't that many ignorant retailers in the post-1990s comics market. There are still other worries, though, such as driving a lot of a market's money into a specific corner of that market and away from other books. So I hope they're careful. And, after, September's giant cock-up by DC Comics concerning its 3-D covers, I hope they execute the bejesus out of their plans.

* here's an interesting feature piece on a collaboration between Paul Benjamin and two Uzbek creators.

* so I guess the Justice League Of America will move to the part of the America that's Canada in a forthcoming storyline. I guess that's fun; I'm not exactly sure why it's presented as news, but I clicked on the link when I saw it. I think writer Jeff Lemire has been pretty valuable for them.

* finally, I really enjoy this Mary Fleener cover for the upcoming second issue of the new Denny Eichhorn series.

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

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Go, Look: Early Mike Sekowsky

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* your SAW micro-grant application window is closing.

image* Heidi MacDonald talks to John Romita, JR. Since I wrote this in an attempt to post ahead a bit about a week ago, that interview got a little heat for Romita Jr. talking about a controversial scene from Kick-Ass 2 not being what was claimed for it.

* Bob Temuka posts an old piece about Australia's reprints of North American comics.

* caught up with Heidi MacDonald's weekend post on those Avatar "torture porn" variant covers. It looks like where I might come down in a different place than a lot of folks is that I don't see creating art and marketing art as the same activity. I'm profoundly disinterested in such art rather than upset by it, but the cynicism involved in making a special marketing hook of such things strikes me as a soulless, potentially ugly exercise.

* David Mack draws Frida Kahlo.

* it was nice of Ken Eppstein to send the Hero Initiative $10 and to explain why. Nice of Kevin Cortez to recommend a similar donation to his readers.

* you know, that is kind of messed up.

* there are a few new Superman stamps in Canada, but not one from artist Curt Swan. I guess that's worth noting, I don't know. As time compresses, and Superman continues to exist and be relaunched and whatnot in the future, there will be a lot of different Superman depictions doing battle for seminal status. Swan was certainly a fun, facile artist, though, whether his Superman doesn't make a stamp or is on all the stamps.

* Carla Hoffman muses on a storyline that sees the young character Jubilee become a mother and what that means for the character. Kids tend to come across as very, very odd in the evergreen, never-aging context of broader superhero stories, but they remain a very popular trope.

* Noah Berlatsky uses the Zita The Spacegirl series to poke a bit at the idea of "strong" female characters and what that means in terms of the general culture.

* Joseph Hughes on Mighty Avengers #1. Chris Mautner on a bunch of different comics. Brian Heater on a bunch of different comics. Keith Silva and Jason sacks discuss New School.

* finally, Raina Telgemeier has advice for aspiring cartoonists.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Phil Hester!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Denis Kitchen!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Matt Wiegle!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Melissa Mendes!

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August 26, 2013


Go, Read: Lengthy Interview With Chris Reynolds

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1, 2, 3
 
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Your 2013 Joe Shuster Award Winners

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The Joe Shuster Awards, a program honoring Canadian participants in the comics art form, were named yesterday. Congratulations to all involved, and particularly those involved with the Hall Of Fame.

The nominees slate, with winners in bold:

ARTIST/DESSINATEUR
* Isabelle Arsenault -- Jane, le renard & moi (La Pastèque)
* Patrick Boutin-Gagné -- Brogunn (Soleil)
* Stuart Immonen -- All-New X-Men #1-4, AvX: VS #1, #6, Avenging Spider-Man #7, Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel Comics)
* Yanick Paquette -- Swamp Thing #5, 7-9, 13-14 (DC Comics)
* Ramón K. Pérez -- John Carter and the Gods of Mars #1-5, AvX:VS #6 (Marvel Comics)
* Fiona Staples -- Saga #1-8 (Image Comics)
* Marcus To -- Batwing #9-15, 0, The Flash #10,15, Huntress #4-6 (DC Comics)

CARTOONIST/AUTEUR
* Geneviève Castrée -- Susceptible (Apocalypse)
* Scott Chantler -- Three Thieves Book 3: The Captive Prince (Kids Can Press)
* Darwyn Cooke -- Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1-5 (DC Comics), Richard Stark's Parker: The Score (IDW)
* Michel Falardeau -- French Kiss 1986 (Glénat Québec)
* Brandon Graham -- Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1-3 (Image Comics)
* Jeff Lemire -- Sweet Tooth #29-40 (DC Comics), The Underwater Welder (Top Shelf)
* Francis Manapul -- The Flash #5-9,11-15, 0 , Annual #1 (DC Comics)

COVER ARTIST/DESSINATEUR COUVERTURES
* Geneviève Castrée -- Susceptible (Apocalypse)
* Darwyn Cooke -- Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1-5, The Shade #4B (DC Comics), The Shadow #7B (Dynamite Entertainment), Richard Stark's Parker -- The Score, Richard Stark's Parker -- The Hunter SC, Rocketeer Adventures #1-4 (IDW), Creator Owner Heroes #7C, It Girl and the Atomics #2B (Image Comics)
* Mike Del Mundo -- A+X #2B, Amazing Spider-Man #678-679, 683B, Incredible Hulk #4B, Ka by Cirque de Soleil #1, Marvel Zombies Destroy! #1-5, Max Payne 3 #3, New Avengers #24B, Scarlet Spider #1B, 4B, Uncanny X-Men #17, Untold Tales of Punisher Max #5, Venom #16-17, 20, 22B, Wolverine #314-317, X-Men Legacy #1-2 (Marvel Comics)
* Stuart Immonen -- All-New X-Men #1-4, Avengers #14, Avenging Spider-Man #7, AvX: VS #1B, #6B, Captain America and Namor 635.1, Uncanny X-Men #14, Wolverine and the X-Men #15 (Marvel Comics)
* Jacques Lamontagne -- Les Druides, Tome 7 : Les disparus de Cornouaille (Soleil)
* Yanick Paquette -- Swamp Thing #5-15,0, Annual #1 (DC Comics)
* Fiona Staples -- Life with Archie #24B (Archie), Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse), Action Comics #15B, National Comics Madame X #1 (DC Comics), Smoke and Mirrors #1B (IDW), Saga #1-8 (Image Comics)

WRITER/SCENARISTE
* Ed Brisson -- Comeback #1-2 (Image Comics)
* Fanny Britt -- Jane, le renard & moi (La Pastèque)
* Alexandre Fontaine-Rousseau -- Pinkerton (Colosse)
* Kathryn Immonen -- Avenging Spider-Man #7, AvX:VS #1,#6, Journey into Mystery #646-647 (Marvel Comics)
* Jeff Lemire -- Animal Man #5-15, 0, Animal Man Annual 1, Frankenstein Agent of SHADE #5-9, Justice League Dark #9-15, 0, National Comics Eternity #1 (DC Comics)
* Ryan North -- Adventure Time #1-10 (KaBoom!)
* Jim Zubkavich -- Pathfinder #1-3 (Dynamite Entertainment), Skullkickers #13-17 (Image Comics)

WEBCOMICS CREATOR/CREATEUR DE BD
* Attila Adorjany (Cartoonist /Auteur) -- Metaphysical Neuroma
* Jayd Ait-Kayci (Artist /Dessinateur) -- The Fox Sister
* Sophie Bédard (Cartoonist /Auteur) -- Glorieux Printemps 9-20
* Michael DeForge (Cartoonist /Auteur) -- Ant Comic
* Iris (Cartoonist /Auteur) -- Folk
* Salgood Sam (Cartoonist /Auteur) -- Dream Life
* Ty Templeton (Cartoonist /Auteur) -- Bun Toons

DRAGON AWARD (COMICS FOR KIDS)/LE PRIX DRAGON (BD POUR ENFANTS)
* L'Agent Jean! Tomes 2 et 3 (Presses Aventure) -- Alex A. (Cartoonist /Auteur)
* Cat's Cradle Volume 1: The Golden Twine (Kids Can Press) -- Jo Rioux (Cartoonist /Auteur)
* Couette Tome 1: Tombée du Ciel (éditions Dargaud) -- Minikim (Artist /Dessinateur) with/avec Sevérine Gauthier (France) (Writer /Scénariste)
* Fred et Putulik: L'Automne (Les éditions du soleil de minuit) -- Jean Lacombe (Cartoonist / Auteur)
* The Secret of the Stone Frog (Toon Books) -- David Nytra (Cartoonist / Auteur)
* Spera Volume 1 (Archaia Entertainment) -- Josh Tierney (Writer /Scénariste), Kyla Vanderklugt, Emily Carroll, Jordyn F. Bochon (Artists /Dessinateurs) with additional non-Canadian artists
* Three Thieves volume 3: The Captive Prince (Kids Can Press) -- Scott Chantler (Cartoonist /Auteur)
* A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse! (Toon Books) -- Frank Viva (Cartoonist /Auteur)

GENE DAY AWARD (SELF-PUBLISHERS)/PRIX GENE DAY (AUTO-EDITEURS)
* Sanya Anwar -- 1001
* Jordyn F. Bochon -- The Terrible Death of Finnegan Strappe: The Claw of the Earth #1 (of 3)
* Antonin Buisson -- Tranquillement pas vite
* James Edward Clark -- Evil
* Corey McCallum, Matthew Daley -- The Pig Sleep: A Mr. Monitor Case

HARRY KREMER AWARD (RETAILERS/PRIX HARRY KREMER (DETAILLANTS)
* Another Dimension -- Calgary, AB
* Amazing Stories -- Saskatoon, SK
* Heroes -- London, ON
* L'Imaginaire -- Quebec City, QC
* Paradise Comics -- Toronto, ON

CANADIAN COMIC BOOK CREATOR HALL OF FAME/TEMPLE DE LA RENOMMEE AUTEUR CANADIEN DE BD
* Vernon Miller (1912-1974)
* Murray Karn (1924-)
* Katherine Collins (formerly known as Arn Saba) (1947-)


*****

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*****
 
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Go, Look: Superman #400 Portfolio

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The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil Takes Inaugural 9th Art Prize

imageThe Jonathan Cape book The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, by Stephen Collins, took home the first 9th Art Award during the Stripped portion of the Edinburgh Book Festival. It beat a list of luminaries announced to the short list along with Collins' work: Building Stories, Chris Ware (Jonathan Cape); Days of the Bagnold Summer, Joff Winterhart (Jonathan Cape); Naming Monsters, Hannah Eaton (Myriad Editions); The Nao of Brown, Glyn Dillon (SelfMadeHero). You can see examples of the art in the linked-to post, by Richard Bruton over at the FPI blog. That posts also engages with the fact that there were multiple Jonathan Cape works on the shortlist. The awards program is intended to be ongoing.
 
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Go, Look: Elijah Brubaker's Autoptic Report

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Missed It: Lengthy Tom Bondurant Post On DC Editors

I don't follow mainstream comics as much as the majority of comics-related sites do, so I found this article by Tom Bondurant breaking down DC Editorial staffers by assigned comic to be extra-fascinating. It intrigues because of the various job position-titles involved -- where they have meaning and where they might not -- the sheer number of them, and the mysteries involved in terms of those positions' relationship to higher-ups with editorial responsibilities. I have been able to read more mainstream comics recently, including those from DC Comics. Nothing about having those various titles grouped together suggests to me anyone is making a name for themselves as an editorial auteur, although I'm sure if you're more invested in those kinds of comics a bunch of distinguishing characteristics may seem obvious.
 
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Go, Look: Stains

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Go, Read: Anna-Maria Jung On The Passing Of Christian Moser

A few of your have sent along this personal reminiscence of the cartoonist Christian Moser by Anna-Maria Jung. It's difficult to read that and not see a similar friendship you may have had, a similar set of specific regrets and sadness when a person leaves your life at a reasonably young age. This is Moser's site, although I had a difficult time getting past the front page this morning. There is a Facebook presence here. Moser passed away on August 13 of a heart attack. He was 47 years old.
 
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Go, Look: A Wiseman/Toole Dennis The Menace Short

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* as mentioned on Friday, Tom Neely is selling Popeye pages and wrote in to say he could use your attention.

* Mike Choi is offering up a piece of comics-related art for a good cause.

* the Cartozia Tales crowd-funder is at that general 1/4 to 1/3 point that a lot of projects settle into before surging forward or falling back. That Sabre project has set up a tent in the same, general part of the comics camping ground.

* the Gretta Johnson project Star Fruit has met its crowd-funding goals.

* this person was nice enough to send along information to their Indiegogo effort, for two issues of a comic book called Cosmic.

* there should be a Julia Wertz original-art sale soon.

* finally, the extremely ambitious Strongman project, seeking $200,000, will end later today likely having raised just a bit over 10 percent of that.
 
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If I Were In Edinburgh, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Crime Crushers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Top Shelf hit #1 at NYT with their March Vol. 1, which is doubly nice for them because that's the kind of work that will feel the positive impact of being able to be called a NYT #1 book.

image* one of the great joys of having a wide on-line net always out and looking for links is that you sometimes see older ones you either don't remember or missed entirely, like this one to scans a 1973 creators guide published by Charlton. Fun.

* Matt Dodge on Daredevil #30. Carter Scholz on New School. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on The End Of The Fucking World. Brian Bendis on Scene Of The Crime. Dustin Cabeal on Alternative Comics #4 and Failure. Gigi Devlin on Pippi Fixes Everything.

* not comics: I don't have a huge appetite for items related to comics, but I like these mittens.

* this Tumblr post is intended to show off the various women with whom Captain Marvel comes in contact, but I was struck by how sort-of terrifying that hybrid animal in the first image was. Buh. Buh, buh, buh.

* Steve Morris talks to Laura Anderson. Muna Shikaki talks to Janet Hamlin. Jeremy Nisen talks to Isaac Cates.

* Adam Hughes draws Gwen Stacy.

* Michel Fiffe on finding a Joe Madrureira-drawn 1990s X-Men comic in a format used for a Hong Kong edition, and liking it that way.

* finally, Zak Sally can go back to being a cartoonist and image-maker now after a few months of hectic curating and festival organizing, and that make me happy.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Francis Manapul!

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Please Consider Giving This Week In Honor Of Jack Kirby

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I'm going to have the regular site features roll out a little later this morning so that I can take that blog real estate to point out via this post that had he stuck around for several more years the great, late cartoonist Jack Kirby would have been 96 on Wednesday. Kirby was one of the foundational comic-book talents of the 20th Century, and it's on his creations that a significant portion of the mainstream comics industry was built.

A lot of folks including some of Jack Kirby's peers have for whatever reason ended up on the wrong side of comics history, to the point they could use a hand from the rest of us. That's what the Hero Initiative is set up to do. I slipped them $9.60 earlier this month in anticipation of Kirby's 96th, and I hope you'll do something similar. If you don't want whatever you do to go to the Hero Initiative -- which was my choice this year because it is a charity endorsed by the Kirby family -- then I hope you'll direct it somewhere else. If you're not able or if you're unwilling to part with $9.60, then I hope you'll consider some other amount or some other good thing. I also encourage those of you with the public platform to do so to please spread the word about the idea of giving some small amount back or something similar, or at least consider doing so.

Jack Kirby has a wonderful artistic legacy; an emerging identity for good work done in his name would be a fine way to drive even more attention to Kirby's magnificent career. His work has enriched my life, and I'm happy to buy he and his a wife a birthday cup of coffee.
 
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August 25, 2013


Walt Kelly Would Have Been 100 Years Old Today

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Mark Mayerson reminded me.
 
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CR Sunday Interview: Ken Parille

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*****

Ken Parille is one of the best writers about comics to emerge in years and years and years. The East Carolina University professor can write on a variety of comics-related subjects with an almost serene authority, I think mainly for the strength of his observations -- the act of seeing being the primary skill of the critic that gets shortest shrift when they're appraised. His The Daniel Clowes Reader: A Critical Edition Of Ghost World is a marvel. It provides fresh and I think potentially enduring perspective on Clowes' comics work; it makes several forceful distinctions through an egalitarian sense of the critical room rather than forced bluster or clever wordplay. It is a wholly edifying way to revisit and re-experience that work. I strongly recommend it. In lieu of buying it right now just on my say-so or being driven to buy it when you experience the thoughtfulness of Parille's answers below, I hope that you'll maybe at least like the Facebook page and go look at -- and potentially follow -- the dedicated tumblr site while you make up your mind. I greatly appreciated Parille's time and patience with the following. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Ken, I apologize for the unimaginative nature of the first few questions, but I'm interested in the answers. If I ever knew anything about you, I've forgotten it. Is there a history of your interaction with comics you could share? I'm primarily intrigued by those points in your life when your interests deepened and/or sharpened and why. I'm always fascinated a bit by how someone over the course of their life ends up writing about this medium.

KEN PARILLE: I started as a reader and collector -- at times more one than the other -- of Marvel and DC comics. I followed characters and series like the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Hawkman, and Moon Knight, but eventually become more interested in non-superhero comics like Tower of Shadows, Chamber of Darkness, Strange Adventures, and House of Mystery as well as humor comics like Swing with Scooter, Tippy Teen, The Inferior Five, Plop!, and The Adventures of Jerry Lewis. I developed an appreciation for DC and Marvel girls' romance comics that continues. I didn't follow any writers, just artists: I had boxes of Steranko and Bill Sienkiewicz.

Things changed dramatically in the mid '80s, during the time known as "The Black and White Explosion," when I discovered EC, Disney, underground, and alternative comics. I had never seen things like Daniel Clowes's Lloyd Llewellyn or Harvey Pekar's American Splendor. Pekar's work, so different from superhero/fantasy comics, baffled me, with its lack of action and plots. But there was something that kept me coming back. Crumb has said that American Splendor "was so mundane as to be exotic," and I think this was the quality that attracted me.

In the early '90s, I lost interest in current Marvel/DC comics. I remember contemplating a stack of issues and realizing that I had no desire to read any of them. And it was over -- for the time being. I would still buy a few back issues, and the only new issues I would buy were Clowes's Eightball comics, which came out only two or three times a year. In the late '90s, things changed again. I decided to track down all of Clowes's work and create an online bibliography. And my interest in Clowes lead to a renewed interest in alternative comics, as well as a desire to read all kinds of comics.

imageSPURGEON: Could you focus on the Dan Clowes aspect of what you do, how your specific interest in his work developed? Was there an initial work of his that struck you? Was there a key work?

PARILLE: 1986's Lloyd Llewellyn #2 was my first exposure to Clowes. The Lloyd Llewellyn comics were so different from anything I'd been reading. I vaguely recognized that the artwork evoked 1950s and '60s advertising art, but because that was popular before my time, my lack of familiarity was part of Lloyd Llewellyn's appeal. The comics were strange, and Clowes's allusions to things I'd never heard of only increased this strangeness. But the series was great because it was funny -- and because it was often very dark, a fact people sometimes forget. Those issues contained violence-soaked comics like "Hound Blood" and "Dementia Praecox" -- and the faces of Clowes's Lloyd Llewellyn villains are often genuinely frightening. From the beginning, Clowes's work always had this odd synthesis of humor and horror, which plays out in recent graphic novels like The Death-Ray and Wilson, though less explicitly now than in earlier comics.

Clowes's art was really appealing; it was far more minimal and angular than what I was used to (though I can recognize connections now I didn't see then, like Clowes's kinship with Steve Ditko and Johnny Craig). The panels and pages have a lot of white space, and this openness felt like an antidote to the dense DC/Marvel stuff I had been reading. His art also encouraged me to pay more attention to design than I ever had.

Released after Llewellyn ended, the early Eightball issues were important -- I understood the anger toward contemporary culture expressed in comics like "I Love You Tenderly" and "I Hate You Deeply." In his comics, Clowes has a way of tempering his anger, even undermining his own judgments and authority with moments of intense self-criticism. There's a mix of anger, cruelty, sympathy, self-deprecation, comedy, and honesty that, for me sets Clowes's comics apart. Clowes's work confronts very basic, and often very unpleasant attitudes, emotions, and drives, all which he portrays with a ruthless clarity, free from gimmicks. The Rodger Young stories, in particular -- which appear in The Clowes Reader -- were favorites, with their uncompromising portrayal of adolescence. They also signaled Clowes's turn toward character studies, along with his emergence as a cartoonist who understood awkwardness, alienation, and psychology in profound ways.

SPURGEON: So how did that interest manifest itself first on-line, or in different publications, and then with this book? How does a book like this develop at all? What is the value of such a project to you beyond the engagement with the material it represents?

PARILLE: An important moment was my discovery of The Comics Journal message board. In the early 2000s, it had a contingent of smart people, from whom I learned a lot. So I began to post regularly and think about how to approach comics criticism. I wanted to be part of a conversation about comics, and the quickest and perhaps best way to do that was online. Then Todd Hignite, who read my many comments about Clowes on TCJ, asked me to write a piece on his work for Comic Art, which he edited, and I wrote my first comics essay on Clowes's David Boring.

Along with a general interest in comics and Clowes in particular, The Clowes Reader grows out experience teaching comics for well over a decade, going back to my time as a graduate student. My students have always really enjoyed reading and talking about comics, and we have had many interesting conversations, especially when discussing Ghost World, Ice Haven, or The Death-Ray. Though The Clowes Reader is not solely a classroom text (as many critical editions are), that use was often on my mind; so I include features like indexes and a glossary, as well as extensive annotations of reference that many college-age students might not know. I wanted the book to speak to different audiences: students, general comics readers, Clowes readers, teachers who wanted a classroom-friendly anthology, and academics interested in comics. Though Clowes is widely appreciated, I edited the book because I think there's so much more to be said about his work; it really stands up to extended analysis from different critical points of view.

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SPURGEON: This may be incredibly rudimentary, but I see books that are presented to me as "readers" and I always feel like it's assumed I know what that means, and I'm not sure I do. Is there an accepted meaning for a book like this one, great books in the mini-genre, and do people tend to know what that involves? Is the shape of yours determined by any of those expectations or does it break with them at all?

PARILLE: The Clowes Reader comes out of a book tradition in which "reader" is just a synonym for "anthology" -- series like Viking's Portable Readers, for example. It's also from the "Critical Edition" tradition -- books like Norton editions of literary classics -- and it's related to literature anthologies like the Longman or Heath collections, which include primary texts along with introductory materials and annotations. Yet, because these series differ from one another, we needed a title and subtitle that would tell different audiences what the book was all about -- and it took a lot of back and forth to arrive at the full title. We wanted to use the term "reader" and "critical edition" because these words mean something to some people. But because they mean nothing to others, we used the subtitle to explain the contents: the book is comics, along with essays, interviews, and annotations. Since this kind of collection is somewhat new in comics/comics criticism -- most anthologies are either primary materials (comics) or secondary materials (essays, etc.) -- we needed to be explicit. And since Ghost World is Clowes's most widely known work and appears in The Reader, it's in the title, as well.

imageThough previous anthologies provided models for the book, I wanted to do many things differently. It was important that the collection was smart but not stuffy -- it shouldn't seem too much like a textbook. On a basic level, it needed to be a book that people would enjoy reading and looking at it. Alvin Buenaventura's design perfectly accomplishes this goal; the look (his choice of fonts and layouts and the colors he selected for certain text and pages) is streamlined and elegant, helping the essays communicate their ideas and giving Clowes's work a setting it deserves.

Literature anthologies typically begin with the editor's introductory essay, but I didn't want to start this way. I thought Clowes should have the first word. So the book begins with a selection of interviews excerpts -- each accompanied by a comic panel or two -- in which Clowes talks about an issue (why he makes comics, his ideas about narrative suspense, etc.) that is crucial to his approach. In this way, Clowes introduces himself. And this section gives readers who might be unfamiliar with his work a series of key ideas to contemplate as they read further. The Reader ends with Clowes's words, with a lengthy discussion of his creative process. Clowes's ideas about comics and art provide the frame in which everything else appears.

SPURGEON: Talk to me about the general editorial direction of the work, what you wanted in there both comics-wise and text-wise, and how that might have developed since the book's initial conception.

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PARILLE: It took a lot of time to figure out the collection's direction and contents. I first thought it would just be Ghost World and a few essays about that comic, but quickly realized this was too narrow. So I began to think about how to organize a more comprehensive anthology. I knew that Ghost World, which is widely read and often taught, would be key. Then I thought of balancing Clowes's 1990s female coming-of-age narrative with the Rodger Young stories, in which a male comes of age in the 1970s. This lead to a three-part structure: 1. Girls and Adolescence; 2. Boys, Adolescence, and Post-Adolescence; 3. Art, Artists, Readers, and Critics. These sections are preceded by an introductory section with interview excerpts, an aesthetic biography, and a general introduction. Section 3 is followed by a brief coda with a chronology of Clowes's life/career and a "For Further Reading" section.

As far as organization, it was crucial that the book alternate between comics and critical materials, and that within the essays, text and images would be carefully integrated -- and Alvin's design does that. I also wanted a diversity of secondary materials: full interviews; interview expects; a piece on Clowes's children's literature precursors; a short feature on Clowes's revisions of character faces (how he changes them from comic to graphic novel); full lyrics to songs that Enid listens to and sings; excerpts from a zine mentioned in Ghost World; and more. When I couldn't find an essay on a topic I thought should be included, I asked someone to write it. I also thought it would be helpful if Ghost World, a comic more visually and thematically dense than some might recognize, had an index; so I created one with entries for key themes, words, phrases, and objects.

Since Clowes's comics come from so many different artistic and social perspectives, I include essays that employ distinct critical approaches: personal narrative, literary theory, close reading, historical context, psychoanalytic, etc. In order to addresses a wide readership, I selected writers who are smart and write accessible prose. In unexpected ways, many recurring issues tie the essays together: gender, adolescence, music, punk, grunge/gen x/the '90s, Clowes's aesthetics, urban environments, etc. . . . The essays present readers with an expanded sense of what Clowes is about and offer new ways to appreciate his work.

imageSPURGEON: You mention the design, and that it does what you want it to… how involved were you in that aspect of the book? Did you communicate to Alvin what you wanted, and if so, how did that communication work? Is there a specific example of a design flourish with which you're particularly happy?

PARILLE: Alvin would run pages by me and Eric Reynolds -- the book's editor at Fantagraphics -- and I commented on a few placement, layout, and image issues. Together we decided on some of the formats, but the overall look is the result of Alvin's sensibility. Sometimes I wanted a page to be set up one way, but he had a different idea -- and he was right. And when he suggested alternate images for the essays, we went with his because they worked.

I'm really happy with the color and fonts for section titles, essay titles, and author credits, as well as the use of light blue pages to distinguish sections in list form (such as the Ghost World index, the cartooning glossary, and chronology of Clowes's career) from the rest of the book. For me, these elements signal the collection's approachable tone and straightforward organization. And the cover, which I had almost nothing to do with, is great.

SPURGEON: You seem unwaveringly confident that Clowes work is substantive in a way that flatters this multi-pronged approach. Two questions. First, do you know how comfortable Dan is with his work being explored so thoroughly, and in this fashion? Does the author's perspective in that way matter? Second, or I guess, third, do you feel like taking such an ambitious approach brought with it certain conclusions about the material just for the effort of it? I mean, this is probably a terrible example, but I know when I sit through some academic presentations I don't really get the sense they're reading the same material I am. Usually this is some pretty dull material, and Clowes' isn't, but I wonder if you worry at all about assuming something about the work just by this sort of rigor?

PARILLE: I think that Clowes trusted me and recognized that I'm invested in thinking and writing about comics. We needed to get his permission to do the book, but then he left it up to me to make all decisions about the contents. In interviews, he'll say that interpretation is best left to readers. When asked about a specific scene or panel in one of his comics, he'll sometimes say that, while he has his own ideas about what's going on, he'd prefer that readers make up their own minds. So I think he's open to his work being interpreted in the ways it is in The Reader.

The perspective of any author I write about typically matters to me. In a way, the frequently rejected notion of "author intention" is often on my mind as I write. This doesn't mean that it constrains what I say, only that for me the process of writing about/ interpreting a comic is usually (though not always) about trying to understand it from a somewhat sympathetic perspective -- each comic is a potentially complex extension of the person or people who created it. Even though a cartoonist might feel that my interpretation is misguided or wrong, I hope that in some way my analysis aligns with the work. This is a vague goal, and I'm sure I often don't meet it.

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In The Reader I discuss Clowes's "Black Nylon" from a psychoanalytical perspective, not just because I like that way of reading, but because the comic is about a troubled superhero who undergoes psychoanalysis. The story is dense and carefully organized, and using a Freudian approach seemed like a good way to explore a complicated comic on its own terms. I have no problem with anyone making assumptions about a comic's meanings or the cartoonist's intentions if those assumptions come from careful engagement with the comic.

You mention sitting "through some academic presentations" and not getting "the sense they're reading the same material" as you are. The feeling that someone's interpretation shares nothing with yours can be frustrating, particularly when he or she is discussing a work you like. Yet interpretations that come from a new or different perspective can be helpful. When I selected the book's writers, I wanted people who were careful interpreters of art, culture, and Clowes. I'd hope that if someone reads one of the essays and thinks, "I didn't get anything like that out of the comic," they'll consider their response as potentially a good thing, acknowledging new ways of approaching the comic.

The collection has been described as "readable" and "accessible," and again, that's one of the goals, especially given that some people associate critical analysis with impenetrability. You're right when you say there's nothing dull about Clowes's work, and so the last thing we wanted was dull, anything-but-readable discussions. The collection's writers avoid this by communicating their excitement about Clowes's work and offering sophisticated analysis. For this kind of book, I think you need writers who merge these two qualities.

imageSPURGEON: To expand on that last notion, what were your worries going into the work? Can you describe a specific problem that came up and how you solved it? You mention that you wanted certain approaches and when you didn't find them you went out and got them, which is very Steve McQueen, and lot less agonizing than I think most people find putting together a book. What, if any, were the crucial moments for how this work came together?

PARILLE: I wondered a lot about which comics I should include. I wanted the book to display Clowes's wide range, especially in terms of visual style, tone, and genre -- few cartoonists work in as many genres as he does, including the realist short story, coming-of-age fiction, cultural criticism, superhero and detective fiction, autobiography, semi-autobiography, newspaper-style comic strip, etc. And I had some difficulty making final decisions, a problem that was partially solved by deciding on the three-part structure I referred to earlier. Some comics fit this structure better than others, and using it as a content guide helped me narrow my options. This focus also helps The Reader tell a series of larger narratives about Clowes's work as a whole, involving issues of adolescence and post-adolescence, Gen X, the 1990s, advertising, superheroes, the relationship between alternative and corporate comics, etc. . . .

Section 3 also helps with this because it's about Clowes's aesthetics. The Reader's introductions and essays offer numerous ways to approach his comics, and the comics in this section do the same by presenting Clowes's theories about important topics such as comic books, cartooning, style, autobiography, beauty and ugliness, the cartoonist-reader relationship, critics and criticism, and interpretation. All of his comics, not just those in this book, can be interpreted in relation to ideas that he discusses and dramatizes in this section's comics and Modern Cartoonist, Clowes's prose manifesto about comic books and cartooning.

The crucial moments are too boring to recount in any detail, but they were key nonetheless: getting the permission required to reprint the cartoons, poems, song lyrics, and essays, and getting the writers I wanted in the book to agree to contribute essays. All of this took a lot of time, and there was a real sense of relief when an email said "yes."

SPURGEON: Can you talk about you used your own writing? I thought that was kind of interesting that there were a number of pieces from you in the book. Was that a matter of you following your own curiosity regarding Clowes' work, or were you used to kind of fill in areas of inquiry where you couldn't find a different piece.

PARILLE: It was both a matter of following my curiosity and writing about topics that hadn't been covered -- or at least hadn't been written about in a way that worked for this book. For example, midway through the project I was thinking about the prominent role advertising plays in Clowes's 1990s comics and how it begins to change in the post-1998 work. His use of signs, billboards, logos, TV commercials, etc. is interesting because it brings up issues that reoccur throughout his comics: capitalism and consumption, the media, insults, the power of images, and Clowes's longstanding fascination with certain kinds of classic product mascots, which often have a near-magical significance in his comics, such as the "Mr. Jones" character/mascot/icon that haunts his first graphic novel, Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. I didn't search for a piece on advertising because, as I thought about it, I developed a specific idea about the format I wanted it to take: rather than a traditional analytical essay organized around a thesis, I imagined a chronological series of images from his comics and commercial work accompanied by some commentary. Clowes's art would be the focus, and the text would be secondary to the story told by the images.

I thought the collection's overall readability would be helped by having mostly medium-length pieces, not long essays. In part as a result of writing for and reading online sites, I generally prefer shorter pieces, and would guess that many people do as well. Since I needed essays that were relevant to the book's comics, I quickly realized that finding pre-existing pieces of the right length would be difficult.

imageSPURGEON: Can you talk about specifically how one or two of the essays might have been modified for publication in the Reader?

PARILLE: Pam's essay on Ghost World, which first appeared in a collection titled Popular Ghosts: The Haunted Spaces of Everyday Culture, also looked at connections between adolescence and ghostliness in a number of recent films. This material was great, but didn't fit with the volume's focus. So I suggested some edits and a few other scenes she could talk about. We made the changes and were done. The other pieces were edited for consistency in terms of the style sheet, and that's about it.

SPURGEON: You've talked about how you began and ended the book, but is there a key essay in there, or a couple do you think? Reading the book it seemed to me like the Glenn interview and the Melander-Dayton and Thurschwell essays constituted a kind of representative reading of the book entire, like I could let someone read those three and have an idea of what the book was like. How carefully did the curate the middle sections, and to what effect?

PARILLE: You're right that those three pieces could be seen as representative, and I think that's true of many groups, such as one represented by Scott Saul (on the Rodger Young stories), Josh Glenn (on "Original Gen X"), and Darcy Sullivan (on Clowes's creative process). Both of these groups begin to get at the volume's diverse approach to criticism, which includes personal narrative, literary theory, close reading (a story / a line of dialogue), scene-by-scene analysis, contextual (biographical, artistic, and philosophical), interview, etc. Though the book is divided into three thematic sections, I conceived of the pieces as a single group. In this way, no essay or section is key for me; it's really about the interplay between the essays' methods. I thought that constantly moving from one approach to another would keep the writing interesting and give readers unfamiliar with comics criticism a wide sample of the ways comics could be interpreted.

SPURGEON: What essay is furthest removed from your own view of Clowes? Was there work you considered and then on which you took a pass because you just couldn't find a level of agreement with the piece's conclusions? Is it important at all that anyone find totally agreement with the works in a book like this?

PARILLE: Writers like Adele, Kaya, and Josh, for example, approach Clowes's comics in ways that I don't. I couldn't write pieces like theirs because they have knowledge and personal experiences I lack. But that's one of the reasons why I'm happy their pieces are in the book. Though I agree with most of what the writers say, for me it's not really about agreement or disagreement; when one of the writers makes an interpretive claim I disagree with, that's fine. The essays are smart, well-written, and shine considerable light on Clowes's work, and that's what matters. I've certainly read pieces on Clowes that I disagree with, but I didn't consider them for many different reasons, the primary one being that they didn't help readers understand his comics in a new or interesting way.

In my essay on "Black Nylon," I offer some interpretations completely at odds with each other; the comic provides evidence for mutually contradictory readings. Sometimes I see "Black Nylon" as a serious exploration of Freudian theory applied to superheroes, other times as a farce that makes Freud's ideas seem comical by taking them to an extreme, and sometimes as a mix of both. Since I often disagree with myself, I fully expect that readers will disagree with some of the book's claims and observations.

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SPURGEON: Can you talk a bit about the notion expressed that Clowes picks a style according to how he wants to express a certain story? How much of that is a feeling-out process, and how much of that is deliberately selected, do you think, on Clowes' part?

PARILLE: Clowes seems very intuitive in this way. I'd guess that form and content generally originate together. Yet, after the fact, readers can see reasons why the content works particularly well with the art style; it seems as if the style must have been consciously chosen as the best form for the comic, even if it wasn't. A good example might be "Ugly Girls." The dense crosshatching and compositions seem very appropriate to a story that shows the influence of R. Crumb and his ideas about beauty, ugliness, popular culture, and self-critique: was Clowes (who refers to himself as "D. Clowes" in the comic's dialogue) thinking about R. Crumb explicitly? Or was he channeling aspects of Crumb's style unconsciously? Either way, this comic, like Clowes's comics in general, reveal his constant exploration of style. His work displays many artistic personas embedded in distinct drawing styles. You can see this just by flipping though the collection's comics and comparing opening panels: Ghost World is very different from "You"; both of these are unlike "Man-Child"; and none of these look like "King Ego."

SPURGEON: Does Clowes's own admission that these comics are sort of amazingly and relentlessly self-revelatory, even the ones that he thought weren't, change the way we should view his work? That seems to present a greater through-line, a relationship between the works, but it also seems like maybe it presents the danger of a thematic sameness. A lot of his work does seems to be an embryonic version of a later one -- I don't know if you'd agree with me that he sometimes works like that or not?

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PARILLE: In the volume I look at the early origins of this personal aspect when I talk about the power comics had for him as child -- the way he would react (often with disturbing intensity) to a comic's images as if they were reality (not a representation), and the way he intuitively interpreted comics in relation to his family life. Reading autobiographical comics in The Reader like "Introduction" (a never-before-reprinted strip about Clowes's life-long relationship with comics), semi-autobiography like "The Party," and the collection's biographical material can add a compelling layer of meaning to the comics if we think, for example, about the way that a comic like "Just Another Day" connects to his own concerns about truth-telling and autobiographical comics. At the same time, of course, appreciating the comics requires no biographical knowledge -- and we never quite know what they reveal to Clowes about himself and his inner life. In his case, I don't see these comics' personal nature leading to any danger of thematic sameness. While some of his stories arise out of similar biographical sources, they typically employ very different drawing styles and formal organization.

I think you're right that some of his work sets the stage for later comics. For example, you can see the way "Battlin' American" (1987) leads to "Black Nylon" (1997), which sets up The Death-Ray (2004/2011). These three comics deal with emotionally troubled superheroes (and Clowes drew superheroes and read superhero comics when young), but each uses a distinct approach to narration and form and has a specific tone. In Clowes's work especially, reading a later comic in relation to an earlier one always yields interesting insights because each does something new with the interplay of form, content, and narration. This gets at one reason why Clowes's comics and graphic novels work well in the classroom; they're very accessible as narratives and very innovative as comics.

SPURGEON: Do you see gradations in the severity of the humor between works? I know that there's a notion expressed in one of the interviews that to call early works funny and later works more serious is bad critical thought, but surely there are differences in tone and approach -- there are works that are more bluntly, more directly comedic than others. How does tone work for Clowes, how is that part of the language he uses to express what he wishes to express in certain stories?

PARILLE: These questions bring up one of the most interesting -- and nearly impossible to describe -- aspects of Clowes's work: the nature of its constantly shifting tones. The collection includes "Wallace Wood," a strip that, as a eulogy for one of Clowes's main influences, is appropriately absent of humor. "You" is also not funny; rather it reflects on the relationship between cartoonist and reader. There's a submerged sense of melancholy in the strip that I'd be hard pressed to locate where it comes from; maybe it has something to do with the visual representations of the distance between cartoonist and reader, the empty last panel, and the narration's neutral tone.

imageOther strips are scathing comedic satires, like "Art School Confidential," with a relentless take-no-prisoners approach to art school, artistic foolishness, and self-deception: every panel is funny. To return to "Black Nylon" -- when I first read that story, I didn't know what to make of it. Now it seems funny to me in ways that I can't quite explain; it has no explicit gags (as other Clowes comics do), but there's a ridiculousness and over-the-top intensity to the superhero's self-deception and narration. The entire story seems like a very strange, very twisted "joke" -- yet it displays some real pathos, too, particularly in the ending scene. Along with conventionally recognizable comedic moments, Clowes's comics often employ an odd kind of humor in which you'll laugh at a panel but might not know why, or even if you should. This tonally complexity always makes a Clowes comic worth rereading; it often seems like a new comic each time.

SPURGEON: Does Wilson change how we might see either the Rodger Young stories or Ghost World? It could be seen as a response or in relation to that work fairly easily, almost to the point I'm mistrustful.

PARILLE: That's an interesting question I hadn't thought about. Wilson appears like an older version of Rodger in that he also wants a deep connection with other people but has a personality that puts this kind of relationship forever out of reach. While Rodger never voices his desires to others (only to the comic's readers), Wilson blurts them out to everyone, instantly alienating all potential friends. Yet Rodger's retrospective narration displays a self awareness that Wilson typically lacks.

And Wilson's visual approach (Clowes draws each page in a different style, often in the look of a cartoonist who influenced him), makes that book, for me, fundamentally different. (Wilson is also very linear, while "Blue Italian Shit" and Like a Weed, Joe" -- the two Rodger Young stories -- are not). But reading Wilson as a response to these comics, as an outgrowth of earlier concerns, makes sense. While Clowes engages some similar issues in these comics, the same theme treated in such dissimilar ways almost makes it no longer the same theme, if that makes sense. This is true of the three superhero comics I talked about earlier.

SPURGEON: Why Modern Cartoonist so late in the book? That seems in some ways like this evinces the core principles that you thought were important to open the book as opposed to an essay from yourself. What do you feel about reading Modern Cartoonist now as opposed to when you first encountered it? I think it works extremely well in this context, but it didn't have the shock of the new that it had when I encountered it. How much is that a work of a working professional -- would you include it if it were about Clowes by not by him? What do you most appealing about his writing on comics and comics-making, what idea?

PARILLE: You're right that Modern Cartoonist, in which Clowes discusses the cartooning history, reception, and practice, could have been placed where the opening interview excerpts are. But for people not immersed in comics, this manifesto might be a little dense to open with -- it's packed with references to comic book history. Since I wanted to talk about its unusual tone and provide many historical annotations, section three (on aesthetics) felt like the right place. It also works well as a companion to Darcy Sullivan's interview with Clowes on artistic process. Parts of Modern Cartoonist examine the historical and conceptual side of cartooning, while Sullivan's piece explores the details of creating a comic: penciling, inking, lettering, and even drawing folds in clothing. I also think that readers are better prepared for Modern Cartoonist after they've read all of the material that precedes it.

imageWhen I first read Modern Cartoonist, it was a revelation, almost a "shock," as you said. It might have been the first extended piece of comics criticism (though I wouldn't have called it that then) I read. It seems even more valuable to me now as a way to think about comics and about what cartooning means to Clowes.

You asked if I "would you include it if it were about Clowes by not by him?" and I certainly would. But it's written in ways so unique to Clowes -- its odd sense of humor applied to a serious subject; its Freudian-inflected understanding of the cartoonist; a prose style that's simultaneously funny and apocalyptic -- that I can't imagine anyone else could write it. I wanted Modern Cartoonist in the book because it has so much to say about Clowes's values and because it's so entertaining and well written. Clowes's look at cartooning through Freud's ideas about fetishes and his examinations of collaboration, world-making, and object-making offers the most interesting and useful ways to think about cartooning that I've ever read.

SPURGEON: I came out of this book hopeful not just for the sophistication of the approach but the level of the writing across the board. I know that we sometimes bemoan the lack of quality writing about comics, but I think that's because that gets defined in a way that's limited to a certain kind of book or to a certain point of engagement. Do you feel like this book is representative of the range of approach concerning comics, generally, or is this specific to Clowes? Are there are other Readers to be published?

PARILLE: It's likely that, for the time being, there may not be as much quality writing on comics as we'd like simply because, when compared to something like film criticism, comics criticism is a fairly small world. But this has been changing. If we think back to what it was like in 2000, it's clear how much better it is now, with more academic journals, venues like the new online Comics Journal, and the comics writing that appears in the Los Angeles Review of Books among the many positive developments.

It's true that our ideas about what comics criticism should look like -- especially when it appears in books, magazine, and journals -- is often "limited to a certain kind... of engagement" that takes one of three or four modes, such as the review, profile, or analytical essay. I think The Daniel Clowes Reader offers something a little different by using unfamiliar modes and by integrating so many examples of Clowes's art into the essays and talking about them at length.

Clowes's variety in terms of genres and styles as well as his highly allusive comics and broad engagement with contemporary culture makes his work especially suited to this kind of annotated critical edition. But its approach would certainly work for many other cartoonists. I'd like to see a book like this on Chris Ware, for example, and I hope to see more critical editions in the future; Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, for example, is the kind of graphic novel that would work well in this format.

SPURGEON: What do you do next that's comics related? Is there a promotional cycle for this work? Is there a next work in mind?

PARILLE: I've been spending a lot of time getting the word out about the book, but assume the promotion will slow down at some point. As far as what's next, I'm not sure. I have been thinking about a few projects, but don't know if I will stay with any of them.

*****

* The Daniel Clowes Reader, Daniel Clowes and Ken Parille, Fantagraphics, softcover, 360 pages, 9781606995891, 2013, $35.

*****

* cover to the new work
* a cover of Tower Of Shadows, an early Parille favorite
* cover to Lloyd Llewellyn #2, Parille's discovery of Clowes
* Clowes image I don't remember why I chose
* Enid and Rebecca
* from one of the Rodger Young stories
* photo of page of Alvin Buenaventura's design ganked from the Facebook page at Parille's invitation
* from "Black Nylon"
* pop culture-conscious illustration from Clowes
* Ghost World-related art
* from "Ugly Girls"
* from "Just Another Day"
* from "Art School Confidential"
* from Modern Cartoonist
* painting from cover of Eightball; I just like that image (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Pat, Patsy And Pete

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Go, Look: J. Scott Campbell Draws Disney Imagery

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OTBP: Vortex #1-4 Combo Pack

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Go, Look: Fuck Yeah People Reading Comics

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that one specifically is worth seeing in whole; fun photo
 
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OTBP: A Jack Kirby Birthday Tribute Comic

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

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Happy 44th Birthday, Steve Conley!

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Happy 66th Birthday, MW Kaluta!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Andrew Aydin!

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FFF Results Post #348 -- Team Of Exceptional Something-Somethings

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Create A Team Of 4 Superheroes Using Characters Who Weren't Created As Superheroes And Who Didn't Begin In Superhero Comics. In Number Five, Name The Group." This is how they responded.

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Chris Duffy

1. Popeye
2. Luffy from One Piece
3. Queen Cleopickerel, Merduck from Uncle Scrooge Comics
4. Titano, the Monster That Time Forgot (from monster/horror era Tales to Astonish)
5. The Submersibles

*****

Oliver Ristau

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1. Modesty Blaise
2. Ms. Tree
3. Detective Conan
4. Alack Sinner
5. Investig8

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Alvin from Little Lulu
2. Spike from Peanuts
3. Mr. Natural
4. Hutch Owen
5. The Malingerers

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Ignatz (Brick)
2. Charlie Brown (Baseball)
3. Maggie (Rolling Pin)
4. Bill the Cat (Hairball)
5. The Tossers

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sluggo
2. Charlie Brown
3. Mr Natural
4. Daddy Warbucks
5. The Bald Eagles

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Bob Hope (from The Adventures Of Bob Hope comics)
2. Jerry Lewis (from The Adventures Of Jerry Lewis comics)
3. Don Rickles (from Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen)
4. Rudy (from Rudy In Hollywood comic strip)
5. The Rim-Shots

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sally Forth (Wally Wood version)
2. Little Annie Fanny
3. Cherry (formerly known as Cherry Poptart)
4. Nancy DeGroot (from Luann comic strip)
5. The Bangalores

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Momofuku Ando (as seen in Project X: Cup Noodle)
2. Alain Passard (In the Kitchen with Alain Passard)
3. Y-naga (from Fumi Yoshinaga's alter ego Not Love but Delicious Foods Make Me Happy)
4. Lucy Knisley (Relish)
5. The Yummers (They solve international mysteries)

*****

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Brandon DuVall

1. Buddy Bradley
2. Calvin
3. Jughead
4. Scott Pilgrim
5. The Malcontent Slackers

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Gyro Gearloose
2. Olive Oyl
3. Powerhouse Pepper
4. Fearless Fosdick
5. The Alliterative Alliance!

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Gilbert Ratchet (Viz)
2. Roger The Dodger (The Beano)
3. Faceache (Buster)
4. (and their leadersmile Keyhole Kate (The Dandy; specifically, the recent digital reboot)
5. The Not-So-Prefects [sic]

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Jill Bioskop
2. Erin Winters
3. Brenda Starr
4. Ben Urich
5. The Fourth Estate

*****

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Mike McGhee

1. Kit Cloudkicker(Talespin)
2. Captain Harlock
3. GrimJack
4. The Bear from Biomega
5. I was going to add Susan Verhagen from Grendel Tales: Homecoming and say they don't want (re: allow) a name, but upon rereading, I'll settle for "the Grizzled Mighty"

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Patsy "Hellcat" Walker
2. Calvin (Calvin & Hobbes) as Stupendous Man
3. Jeff Redfern (Doonesbury) as the Red Rascal
4. Archie Andrews as Pureheart the Powerful
5. Patsy and the Pretenders

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Fearless Fosdick
2. Thelonius Violence
3. Ace Hole
4. Leo Pulp
5. The Pseudo-Dicks

*****

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Mike Rhodes

1. Alley Oop
2. Ignatz Mouse from Krazy Kat
3. Flash Gordon
4. Gyro Gearloose from Scrooge McDuck stories by Barks (or from Duck Tales)
5. Rock an' Science

*****

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Don MacPherson

1. John Constantine
2. Reid Fleming
3. Obnoxio the Clown
4. Lucy Van Pelt
5. The Curmudgeons

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Smokey the Bear
2. Park Ranger John Smith
3. Mark Trail
4. Bogor
5. The Park Ranger Alliance

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Little Orphan Annie
2. Little Lulu
3. Little Dot
4. Little Lotta
5. The Little League

*****

topic suggested and examples provided by Chris Duffy; thanks, Chris

*****
*****
 
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August 24, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Feature On Chris Ware's Interactive Work


Helen McCarthy's History Of Manga


Mini-Documentary On The Question Character


Sam Henderson On iComics


Nearly Missed This Mega-Viewed Paul Pope Trailer


That News Story About Carlos Latuff Receiving Death Threats


Some Sort Of Dan Clowes-Related Limited Animation


Stan Lee Signing Something At The Wizard Event In Chicago
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 17 to August 23, 2013:

1. TFAW and DCBS join the CBLDF as corporate members -- perhaps the greatest story in the history of comics organizations better known for their shortened names in addition to being a pretty big one just generally. The Fund has a long and intermittently positive relationship with retailers.

2. Autoptic Festival in Minneapolis launches with strong exhibitor satisfaction and good crowds. Growth is available in venue particulars -- no ATM, inconsistent lighting -- and in general sales for many exhibitors. The next one is tentatively scheduled for 2015.

3. The New York Post reported that Archie co-ceo Nancy Silberkleit filed sexual harassment charges in April against a friend used as a company go-between as she eased back into her executive role.

Winners Of The Week
Your 9th Art Award short-listers.

Loser Of The Week
Anyone who skipped Autoptic certain that there was going to be one to attend next year.

Quote Of The Week
"This oddly gratuitous comment, coming at the end of a chapter, is worth a parenthesis. Picasso might disagree with it more vehemently than I will. I'll grant at some level that any image so heavily iconic might need to be symbolically fucked in the ass. But as an actual work of art, I believe it remains unfucked, probably unfuckable, and continues to fuck its would-be fuckers. Nelson Rockefeller wanted to buy it, and Picasso quite rightly refused him. Nelson then commissioned a tapestry imitation, which hung in the UN General Assembly until Colin Powell got up there to announce the start of the Iraq war in 2003. It made a poor backdrop to Colin's message, so the US insisted on covering it up. Looking back, who was fucked?" -- Carter Scholz

*****

Update: an earlier version of this post had "no wi-fi" as an Autoptic venue growth point, but the venue did indeed have free wi-fi and a bunch of people pointed this out to me. My bad.

*****

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

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Go, Look: Journey Into Unknown Worlds #34

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Go, Look: Chrissie Zullo

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

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If I Were In Grand Rapids, 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 Panama City, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Near Trumbull, i'd Go To This

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

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Happy 47th Birthday, Keith Knight!

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Happy 72nd Birthday, Jim Scancarelli!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Scott Lobdell!

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August 23, 2013


I Bought This Comic Book Today

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Who wouldn't want an actual Laura Park comic book?
 
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By Request Special: Tom Neely Is Selling Popeye Pages

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Go, Read: Chris Ware's Live Chat With The Guardian

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Go, Look: Leather Space Man: Meet The Band

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Go, Look And Maybe Even Print Out: Cartoonist Chris Schweizer's Mini-Comics Assembly Guide

Here. I always enjoy this kind of thing.
 
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NEA Magazine: Spiegelman, Clowes Profiled; Neufeld Featured

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Go, Read: Carter Scholz At TCJ Reviewing Dash Shaw

At one point in the early 1980s, Carter Scholz and R. Fiore were the twin north stars of aspirational writing-about-comics. Scholz reviews Dash Shaw at TCJ.com today.
 
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Go, Look: Boyoun Kim

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Go, Read: Frank Santoro On Worthless Comics Collections

imageThe cartoonist Frank Santoro has a piece up at TCJ.com about having to tell someone that the comics collection they thought might be worth at least a few grand is probably worth a couple of hundred bucks at best. It's a fun article. There's an interesting shift in the way a lot of comics readers perceive the collecting side of things: from thinking the entire enterprise is a sham driven by those that can profit off of the perception that most comics will be worth anything at all, to thinking that the idea of a lot of these comics being worth anything at all is indeed a sham but that certain comics being worth something isn't a sham at all. In other words, random issues of Defenders aren't going to be worth $9 or whatever, at least not as a general rule, but key issues of superhero comics might flash at a higher price depending on trade collection or movie roles being cast, and some might even maintain a certain amount of value over time.

I'm actually thrilled as a consumer that a lot of comics have bottomed out, in particular lower-grade but perfectly readable comics by the best comics-makers of the '50, '60s and '70s. It was not possible for me to buy actual Fantastic Four comics drawn by Jack Kirby in the 1980s; I can buy them now for less than what I pay to buy the current issue of the comic book series starring the super-team. I also suspect that the increased profile of original art as a collectible has had an impact on comics-as-collectibles sales, and that the lack of widespread interest in the more obscure alt- or art-comics from the 1980s and 1990s will continue to make them really hard to find albeit cheap when you find them. Those of us that just want to read them should continue to be well served. The greatest comic book site of all time by 2025 may be whatever exists to fulfill the role abebooks.com has right now.
 
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Go, Look: Astonishing #55

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Missed It: ICv2.com On An Ongoing Graphic Novel Pricing War Featuring Overstock.com And Amazon.com

imageThere are a pair of interesting articles here and here on the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com about Overstock.com deciding to chase Amazon.com's book prices -- first by offering a sale where their discounts ran ahead of the Amazon.com discounts; then by proclaiming they will match these price points on a permanent basis. While this may directly benefit consumers of those books through those retail channels, the implications for retail channels such as the Direct Market where there is a dependency on selling things at or near the standard suggested price point, seems obvious. Rob Salkowitz follows up here with a piece on the practice of people visiting brick-and-mortar retail shops and then quickly comparing prices on-line, potentially purchasing the material that way. This is something that a long-term price strategy speaks to more directly, because it builds a consumer's expectations that there are at least a couple of places to find discounts on material.

I don't have any clue if there's an answer to be here, but I do think this is one of those "look at this; no, seriously, look at this" stories in terms of its potential long-term market considerations.
 
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Go, Look: Journey Into Mystery #39

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Missed It: Artist Chuck Ayers Does Promotional Comic Strip For Alma Mater's Heisman Trophy Candidate

imageHere. The marketing of schools through candidates for college football's Heisman Trophy is a major deal for these schools, and has been for about a decade to a decade and a half now. Chuck Ayers is best known for art chores on Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. I think the thing I find interesting about this -- and this may be total misapprehension on my part -- is that the promotional value is almost as much in the idea that this young man has a comic done about him than the actual penetration made by the comic.
 
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Go, Look: Impossible Books

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Festivals Extra: Graeme McMillan On Convention Costs

There's an article by Graeme McMillan on publisher convention costs here. I think the other side of this boom in cons is that people are going to start limiting how many they'll attend, just because they have to. There should be some extremely interesting conversations with conventions and talent/publishers over the next 36-48 months. You will not just be able to throw a con and have the exact line-up of people you want falling over themselves to pay to come there and do business; people are already turning down shows that I think a previous generation of comics people would have killed to be able to do in, say, 1997.
 
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Go, Read: Top Moments From Grant Morrison's Batman Run

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on a day like this one, given what's in the feed, I doubly enjoy just about any article focused on actual comics
 
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Collective Memory: Autoptic Festival 2013

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2013 Autoptic Festival, held August 18 and on various dates with peripheral events in and around Minneapolis, with the main show at the ARIA event space.

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

*****

Institutional
* Convention Site
* Facility
* Host City
* PFC

Audio

Blog Entries, Random Site Posts And Tumblr
* Autoptic Tumblr
* Domitille Collardey
* Genevieve Castree
* iichi
* Jim Keefe
* John Porcellino
* King Cartoon Electric
* Lisa Hanawalt
* Rob Clough
* Secret Acres
* Stwallskull
* The Monologuist
* Trans Atlantis 01
* Trans Atlantis 02

Facebook
* Autoptic Festival Page
* Becky Laff
* Boneshaker Books
* Crystal Erickson
* Donn Ha
* Ed Kanerva
* Jim Keefe
* Landland
* Laura Park
* Zander Cannon

Miscellaneous
* Jim Rugg

News Stories and Columns
* Minneapolis Star-Tribune 01
* Minneapolis Star-Tribune 02
* Minnesota Public Radio
* The Journal 01
* The Journal 02
* Vita.mn 01
* Vita.mn 02

Photos And Stand-Alone Imagery
* Amaya_G 01
* Amaya_G 02
* Amaya_G 03
* Domitille Collardey
* gwebber
* IMAPelican
* Jordan Shiveley
* JP Coovert
* satanandsolomon

Twitter
* @AutopticFest
* #autoptic
* Bill Kartalopoulos
* Cathy G. Johnson
* erik t johnson
* Francesca Buchko
* Jaime Willems
* Jen Vaughn
* John Porcellino
* Kyle Coughlin
* Laura Park
* Mariko
* Marnie Galloway
* Olivia Johnson
* Rob Kirby
* Tugboat Press

Video
* Jim Keefe
* KSTP

*****



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Go, Look: I Am The Changing Man

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* I totally missed that there's a free download of the SPACE anthology available from the front page their site.

* there is a 20 percent off sale at the Viz site this month. Sales are interesting with digital comics in a way they aren't elsewhere because there's a thought that discounts really drive people to buy things to a significant extent -- that there isn't as much a standard digital comics buyers randomly paying full piece for material as there is a buyer that might buy something new but will wait for something older to go down in price a bit.

* Gary Tyrrell talked to Tavis Maiden: one, two.

* Jeffrey Rowland updates and updates.

* Sequential adds the Jonathan Cape books.

* you know, I read but I don't think I ever linked to this major PW state-of-digital-comics piece from about 10 days ago.

* finally, it's been a while since I've been over to Mark Waid's Thrillbent site in a way other than directly to the comics serials. They have a blog I've done a poor job of following; I don't think it's found its level yet, but as Thrillbent is an important effort because of the kind of creator doing it and the things they're trying, it deserves our full attention. This is the recent story I regret missing: the launch of a storefront, which is pay-what-you-will, drm-free and festooned with extras per download -- a model that should be noted and the success of which should be tracked.
 
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If I Were In Portland, 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 Toronto, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Space Court

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I always enjoy the writing of Alasdair Stuart, if anyone has a gig or gigs they need engaged.

image* Tim O'Shea talks to Nick Dragotta. Richard Vasseur talks to Jeremy Dale.

* Roman Muradov's new comic is now available to pre-order.

* Sean Collins notes that a lot of the iconic genre-comics series of the last half-decade have come to a close in the last half-year or so. I haven't been enough of a serial comics buyer since 1992 to grasp the concept of jumping-off points, but I do think that kind of broad shift at a company like that is always worth noting. I think most of Marvel's recent talent moves have been reasonably positive. I'd have to be a lot richer/have a lot more time/be interested in a far narrower range of comics to ever go back to buying 10-12 superhero comics a week, but I think if I did I'd end up buying a reasonably large number of Marvel's series.

* so many of those costume designs are so very unattractive, I'm afraid.

* in case you missed it, this was a very funny moment at the Kim Thompson panel back in July. That was very, very Kim.

* Elizabeth Burns on My Friend Dahmer. Jason Sacks on Barnaby. Glenn Walker on Avengers #18. Ng Suat Tong on Time. Rob Clough on True Porn 2.

* I love finding out that Mike Sterling collects comics like Yummy Fur and Mackenzie Queen. Those comics are hard to collect. I dream of ditching all of my comics and starting over and only collecting alt- or art-comics from 1980 to 1992. I'll do it someday, too.

* that's a nice photo.

* I had no idea that the date and time on Dr. Manhattan's origin incident were figured out.

* David Brothers asks how Superman can be a paragon of moral virtue while lying to Lois Lane about his secret identity. The range of answers is cordial and interesting if you're included to noodle about superhero comics and concepts. I would imagine that this is one of those things that allows different writers to have different takes, and how well they play it is part of what makes the work with that character good or not.

* Alan Gardner finds a Jim Keefe piece on pricing.

* finally, why DC Comics paid Mark Evanier $15 in 1972. This is still an amount that many people get from comics publishers.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Terry Austin!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Chris Bachalo!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Tara Madison Avery!

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August 22, 2013


Go, Read: Andy Hartzell's Chelsea Manning Comic

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Go, Look: Make Boxes, Fill Them

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Go, Read: A Pair Of Stories About The Newspaper Business

* I thought this article, while not about comics not even one little bit -- except in the broad, assumed sense that comic strips are an important expression of comics more generally and thus any article about wider newspaper and media trends has something to say about comics -- puts into solid perspective a lot of the issues facing on-line publishing using a lot of current example and providing figures. Maybe this kind of analysis is old hat in that part of the world, but I certainly don't get exposed to it all that frequently, and I appreciated it.

* this article I missed talks about a recent switch at several Australian newspapers away from more expensive, locally-produced work to cheaper, internationally-syndicated product being used in its stead. This is the mechanism of 40 years ago being brought to bear on a problem of right now, so it's sort of fascinating that way. It's also super thoroughly grim and offers no way out, which I admire. I'm not sure there is one, either.
 
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Go, Look: Orientation Police

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Go, Look: Spellbound #32

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NY Post: Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit Filed Charges Against Company Liaison In April

Here. There's some stuff in there that doesn't make a lot of sense -- it's unclear if the company was named in any suit or not, for example, so there's some room for more reporting. Apparently the person who was the subject of sexual harassment charges by Nancy Silberkleit this Spring is her friend who was involved as a kind of transitional figure to get her more firmly ensconced at the company in a co-CEO role. As referenced in the article, Silberkleit's time at Archie has been tumultuous.

If nothing else, that article is fascinating for its photo of the offices. I had never seen the Archie offices before.
 
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Skipped Mentioning It: Ali Ferzat Interview In The Guardian

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I had skipped mentioning here this week's interview with exiled Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat in the Guardian. I'm a big fan of Ferzat's work as a political agitator and as a human face through which we can process the horrors of that country's protracted in-fighting, but I couldn't find anything particularly new about the feature. I think I found one on a re-read, though. He claims that it's the above chair cartoon that triggered a move against him that resulted in his being assaulted by pro-government thugs. I had always heard a different cartoon or two, so that seems worth noting. I would imagine you might end up hearing back about this if you were in Ferzat's position.

I also always enjoy how stylishly Ferzat presents himself, albeit in the more casual sweaters and scarves category of men's clothing. That's a cartoonist that know he's on a public stage, and given his prominence in that region of the world far before he became an international news celebrity, I would imagine he's been conscious of this for some time.
 
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Go, Look: In A Flat Land

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Go, Look: Dorothy Lamour #3

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So What Does Marie Severine, Newly 84, Look Like These Days?

Irene Vartanoff took her picture during a visit about a month ago.
 
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Go, Look: Battlefront #23

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* this Secret Acres report from Autoptic is the best of the show I've seen thus far, and even when John Porcellino posts his and makes everyone cry will probably remain the most useful for its blend of positive and negative comments. It's really hard to find someone that will be critical on the record in one of these con reports, so god bless this report.

image* the Malta Comic Con announces its first guest: Ian Churchill. I think that's the only show right now of any heft that has a presence in December, if only for one day. December strikes me as a fun time to go to a comics show, but not a fun time to exhibit at one, plus comics people could use the break.

* the sneakiest of all the really big and important show gets underway today. Toronto's Fan Expo is really the August show now for mainstream comics, or at least that's what folks in that world tell me; it's also a show that a lot of mainstream North American comic book creators do as their late summer show.

* Florida Supercon has announced for early July, and has a smattering of location and initial guest announcements as well. That is an ambitious, four-day show.

* here's a short post spotlighting the growth of convention in India, over at The Beat.

* here's the Locust Moon Festival guest list. That's a good list. That's another sign that conventions are very popular right now, that existing shows just kind of improve year to year just in terms of who goes where.

* here's a forthcoming event for which a call for submissions has gone out.

* we are a convention nation.

* finally, I haven't taken the closest look at the 2014 cons and festivals calendar, but it looks like there will be a brutal stretch of shows from the last weekend in March (Emerald City) to Mother's Day weekend in early May (TCAF). You already have ECCC, TCAF, SPACE, C2E2, Stumptown, Awesome Con and one of the Asbury Park shows in that window. You're likely to see MoCCA and WonderCon settle in there somewhere, too. Fumetto is in there, too. I could easily go to 20 shows now and find things to do at each one; I could do two or maybe three a dozen years ago. Amazing.
 
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If I Were In Portland, 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 Toronto, I'd Go To This

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Go, Read: Tom Scioli Examines Silver Surfer #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* good gravy, check out the explosion of comics coverage at the Guardian.

image* while I know about the Jewish elements of Superman's creation, I never stopped to consider that efforts since in comics and in the movies could be seen as anti-Semitic whitewashing of those elements.

* fact: checked.

* Denny Riccelli on Daddy Lightning. Doug Zawisza on Superman: Unchained #3.

* here's a think-piece on the future of British comics now that Clint has come and gone. Here is what the magazine looked like. Here is a breakdown of the content and a description of the basic approach. I think all models are worth trying, and I hope that people are honest about the efforts involved when doing their postmortem analyses.

* doesn't everybody do this? I guess not.... why not?

* The Comics Grid is seeking papers on Krazy Kat.

* Laura Sneddon talks to Grant Morrison. Daniel Glendening talks to Scott Allie and Michael Avon Oeming.

* this site has a tumblr attached to it, but it's not a very active or engaged one.

* not comics: Ande Parks suggests perspective.

* finally, David Lasky passed along this link where a public health dialogue-type project is doing comics about health care. I can't really understand what's going on there, and it doesn't look like it pays anything, but some of you might want to participate given the importance of the subject matter.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, DG Chichester!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Jimmie Robinson!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, James McShane!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Will Shetterly!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Matt Emery!

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August 21, 2013


Go, Look: Be Still. Keep Moving.

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Hey, Let's Talk About Something Called Torture Variants

Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat pivots from a post about the overwhelming number of variant covers in the comic-book marketplace at any one time to enter into a little discussion about a series of covers for a comic book called Crossed that show images of torture. I like that kind of blogging; I think it's good to write about what catches your eye, what interests you, and I would love to see Heidi do this every day. So the idea presented, or at least hinted at, I think, is that whereas most "variant covers" of a comic book feature a different artist or maybe a different character or maybe some sort of printing process element like 3-D covers, these covers show people being sawed in half and the like. So if your special inducement for buying something is to look at stuff like this, logic would seem to dictate that you have a special appetite for seeing images of people being tortured and hurt and oh my goodness what kind of comics customer is that? The pushback is likely along a "hey it's just entertainment/the only difference between drawing the line here and drawing the line where Jerry Falwell would draw it is degree, so suck it you hypocrite" way of thinking, whatever seems to score the most points according to the specific context of the discussion. If nothing else, the Internet has brought to the surface America's deep reserves of rage at being judged for their arts consumption, or, basically, for anything at all, even just by inference.

These covers seem to me to work much the same way that Mark Millar's employment of rape scenes works: Millar uses human atrocities to tweak a genre; Avatar is using human atrocities to tweak a system of sales and distribution. They're both aimed at the bottom line more than they are a lowest common denominator. It's the cynicism of it that seems distasteful to me when I stop and think about it more fully, up to and including the fact that this kind of ploy is only partly cynical. In other words, I'm sure there are people that process this stuff as meaningful art, and that this includes some of the participants. Somehow that makes the other aspects of it more distasteful, like sticking a live-sex scene into one of your films so that it can be sold as the film that has live sex in it when you know that one of the participants is doing it because they're in love. Mostly, though, it seems to me pretty grim, dull art, with either very little self-awareness or nothing but self-awareness: similar points on the great circle of making stuff. People should be able to make any kind of art they want, and while selling it should probably bring with it different responsibilities, that notion was shouted down in comics decades ago and will never get a lengthy hearing. What's left is a small-c critical framework that demands everything be taken seriously. This is artwork that stares up at you with dead fish eyes. It's not upsetting; it's "upsetting." It's product. Yuck.
 
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Go, Look: Crime World, Part Three

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Go, Read: Jeff Trexler On The Latest Kirby Decisions

Here. The instance-and-expense standard is questioned. There's a lot of back-and-forth in the comments, too. Articles like this tend to focus on what's legally allowable -- which is very newsworthy and very interesting to follow. I do have a hard time digging into such articles, though, because I'm always convinced there's a better way to do things than to find the most favorable legal standing -- or Internet justification -- for doing something that happens to benefit you and then investing as much as you can in seeing that that way of doing things holds sway. It always seems to me that a lot of people look to the courts for best outcomes, and that's not what the courts are there to do except maybe in a potentially broad cultural engineering sense over time. I'm also deeply uncomfortable with summary judgments (the non-legal kind) years after the fact on descriptive elements of something like the issues and elements brought up here, but maybe that's just me. It's all very sad.
 
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Go, Look: Lone Ranger Covers Mini-Gallery

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

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

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

*****

DEC121112 CHILDREN OF PALOMAR HC $22.99
You should go to your comic book shop and buy this. It's beautiful-looking, the stories are mysterious and cool, and Gilbert Hernandez is a flat-out great cartoonist: restless, confident and unsatisfied. This is like five regular-sized comic books in cost, too, which isn't much at all. I've re-read mine twice already. Children Of Palomar might have slightly more resonance for those of us that spent a significant amount of time before now reading stories about these characters and that place, but there's only jumping in the deep end with Beto, so don't be shy.

imageMAY131078 ANNA AND FROGA I DUNNO WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO HC $14.95
I am a great fan of the look and feel of these children's comics from Anouk Ricard; I think they have a unique sensibility and some days 90 percent of what I want from comics is to be exposed to someone's idiosyncratic way of engaging the world.

JUN130030 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #110 $3.50
JUN130056 CONAN THE BARBARIAN #19 $3.50
JUN130029 LOBSTER JOHNSON SCENT OF LOTUS #2 $3.50
JUN130245 BATMAN 66 #2 $3.99
JUN130536 BOUNCE #4 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUN130557 REVIVAL #13 [DIG] $2.99
JUN138088 QUANTUM & WOODY #1 2ND PTG $3.99
JUN130628 DAREDEVIL #30 $2.99
JUN130626 INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #12 $3.99
JUN130920 ADVENTURE TIME #19 MAIN CVR $3.99
These are the serial comic-book comics that feature genre work that jumped out at me on the list this week. I'd probably buy two or three. Dark Horse offers up not one but two books from its Mike Mignola-driven comic book line; those are almost always solid. I haven't looked at the Conan work for a while, but they have featured interesting artists since re-numbering. The Batman 66 is one of those comics that I think should be for me until I read it and decide it's not for me, but I love that it exists and I want to go to the comic book shop where that is a top five seller. Bounce is the latest comic from Joe Casey, who is highly prolific right now in a way that's making for all sorts of weirdly interesting comics. Revival is one of those Image books that feels like it's right there in terms of steamrolling a bit, but one can also imagine it just kind of settling in where it rests right now. I enjoy that one when I see it, but I almost never see it. The Quantum & Wood comics are well-liked by people and apparently the rights situation is not horrific, so I'd look at it. I'm always interesting in catching up with superhero comics written by Mark Waid, although I tend to wait for later on. And Adventure Time remains the licensed-property comic of the moment, at least in my world of comics.

APR131166 KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #200 SP ANNIVERSARY ED $8.99
APR131062 RED SONJA #80 (NOTE PRICE) $4.99
JUN130877 SIMPSONS COMICS #205 $2.99
JUN131226 SIXTH GUN #33 $3.99
JUN130044 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #27 (MR) $7.99
Here's a bunch of comics that caught my eye just for the high issue numbers. I would have guessed a little less than half for the Knights, and about 3/4 of the way there on the rest. The Dark Horse Presents having 27 issues is the one that fairly boggles my mind, to be honest with you. Although come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen any of these new Red Sonja comic books.

imageJUN130880 SERGIO ARAGONES FUNNIES #9 (RES) $3.50
JUN130716 OUTLIERS #1 $5.00
Here are the two serial-style comic that I'd be most likely to buy, if I'm being completely honest about it. I'll buy anything Sergio Aragones does, and I've enjoyed this series of short stories from the cartoonist a great deal. I wish there were a similar comic book for every cartoonist of Aragones' stature. The Outliers book is an honest-to-god independently produced, narratively-driven, alt-comic book. It's a really pretty package. I believe Outliers was kickstarted a couple of years back, and I'm pretty certain the comic has been available in some stores through alternative distribution means -- or maybe just through the mail -- for a little while now. But new work from artists is what I go to the comic book shop to read, so Beto aside, this is the one I'd focus in on of all the comics listed here.

APR130028 NEXUS OMNIBUS TP VOL 03 $24.99
Nexus feels done, doesn't it? The way a band you liked as a teen seems done is the way Nexus feels a part of the past. For some reason, this makes me feel older than all of the usual things that make me feel older. But it's a nice bunch of comic books, with a lot of highlights for those willing to dig into one of the ways it was published and take a look. I still enjoy looking at them.

JUN131142 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC VOL 08 1965-1966 (NEW PTG) $29.99
I'm glad to see that Fantagraphics is keeping this material in print in this format. It's a type five comics work, and this volume is right in its prime time.

MAY131142 EC AL FELDSTEIN CHILD OF TOMORROW HC $28.99
MAR131164 EC JOHNNY CRAIG FALL GUY FOR MURDER HC $28.99
I'm loving these creator-driven collections of EC comics work, and the Johnny Craig has been my late-night reading for a few days now. He was just a super-solid comics maker, and the visual virtues are what I keep going to, in part because the stories can be cliched and ragged. Al Feldstein has been the subject of the slowest moving reconsideration of any artist ever, but I do think is reputation is twice what it was 20 years ago, so for that I'm glad.

MAY131140 GAHAN WILSON SUNDAY COMICS HC (RES) $29.99
APR131131 PRINCE VALIANT HC VOL 07 1949-1950 $35.00
Here's how staggeringly and routinely great a certain kind of comics publishing is right now: these are two volumes that could make any best-of-year list of 10 items or less in 1999. They still might this year, but I think in a lot of the years 10-20 years ago they would have been a slam dunk, and for a large number of comics people they won't be paid attention to in the slightest.

MAY131285 AMERICAN COMIC BOOK CHRONICLES HC 1950S $40.95
MAY131427 CURING POSTMODERN BLUES READING MORRISON & WESTON FILTH SC $12.99
A pair of books worth picking up, at least to look at. I wasn't a reader of The Filth, so I'm probably out on that one, but I do enjoy Bill Schelly's thorough, measured approach to comics history -- that doesn't mean I always agree with the tone or conclusions, but I get a lot from them -- so anything new he has out is likely to be of interest: it's an era he does well, anyway.

APR130412 BERKELEYWORKS BREATHED BLOOM COUNTY & BEYOND HC $59.99
IDW has done an excellent, excellent job with re-presenting Berke Breathed to an audience of fans that was still very, very fond of him despite anecdotal evidence that might have suggested a bit of audience burn-out. I think they've also done a good job for themselves, if that makes any sense: the works seem to have all been at a price point that Breathed's fans are willing to pay that seem to make this a profitable part of the business for IDW. Anyway, I would totally flip through this, putting down other comics to do so, and I look forward to catching up to it at some point.

*****

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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Go, Look: How Do I Get Good At Drawing?

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

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

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

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Go, Look: A Captain Midnight Story

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Joe Heller has picked up a group of 26 newspapers in his post-salaried position move to more aggressively self-syndicate.

image* Richard Gehr talks to George Booth. Rob McMonigal profiles Jess Fink. Carl Antonowicz talks to Jon Chad and Alec Longstreth.

* this is the kind of image that haunts the part of my brain that read comics when I was a kid: piles of 1960s comics just sitting there and (one imagines) available to buy/read. I don't know what it's like to be a comics collector now, let alone one younger than I am, but the power in collecting comics for a lot of kids that grew up exactly when I did was this idea that we just missed this amazing run of 1960s comics, comics where stuff happened that they kept referring to in our monthly comics, comics we mostly wouldn't see otherwise unless we bought the older issues themselves. It was also a graspable past, an achievable thing to own, these like 80-150 issues of a specific comic book.

* Jeffrey O. Gustafson on the Bayeaux Tapestry. Shawn Starr on various comics. David Pepose on a bunch of different comics. Josh Kopin on Thor.

* Michael DeForge draws... something... it's cool-looking, though.

* I've posted these more directly in various "parades" and round-ups to eventually roll out on this site, but here is the bulk of the Chris Ware and Joe Sacco videos I've seen from Edinburgh Book Festival, all in one place.

* Paul Gravett writes about localizing the 1001 Comics guide he put together.

* Chris Butcher and Mike Sterling talk some more about DC's failure to meet demand according to some pretty standard ordering practices on a forthcoming special promotion. A couple of things that jumped out at me was the anger over the follow-up, which any way you slice it can't be argued as unavoidable, and the regret that customers won't be served.

* go, look: the Fall previewed in genre comics.

* not comics: a profile of Mercer Mayer.

* Heidi MacDonald caught a Johanna Draper Carlson piece on the number of unique products offered in a calendar month that are variant covers. This isn't what it first appears to be: that's unique product -- number of items for sale -- rather than then volume of sales overall. But it is worth noting. I don't think the variant market is crazy-crazy right now: the retailers are a hardy, sunburned, bunch that likely won't fall for over-extending themselves to bring in variants, and many of the variants are done in a way it's easy to imagine someone wanting to get a specific one just as an alternative to the one that's the "normal" one. I think there is an argument that it's probably overused a bit, and that if it's not an extinction event danger it might be a way to focus money away from one kind of product and onto another. I wish they did it less frequently.

* finally, I enjoyed this short essay on the not-exactly-real relationships we have with comics-makers, particularly those that make comics about their lives.
 
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Happy 84th Birthday, Marie Severin!

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August 20, 2013


Go, Look: Assorted Steeds

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Your Inaugural 9th Art Award Shortlist

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The shortlist for this year's inaugural 9th Art Award, given out in conjunction with the Edinburgh Book Festival, has been released. The book on the list are:

* Building Stories, Chris Ware (Jonathan Cape)
* Days Of The Bagnold Summer, Joff Winterhart (Jonathan Cape)
* The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, Stephen Collins (Jonathan Cape)
* Naming Monsters, Hannah Eaton (Myriad Editions)
* The Nao of Brown, Glyn Dillon (SelfMadeHero)

Judging from approximately 50 entries were Paul Gravett, Hannah McGill, Adrian Searle, and Mary Talbot. The ceremony will be held this Sunday and hosted by Billy Kirkwood. I have a good feeling about the Dillon, although who knows?
 
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Go, Look: Mike Grell Tagged On Tumblr

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Missed It: Best Wishes To Mike Grell On A Speedy Recovery

A few of you e-mailed this health update from the industry veteran Mike Grell about some recent health issues; thank you, and my apologies if some big site of which I'm unaware popularized this link ahead of me (usually when I get a bunch of e-mails, that means someone else had it first). It looks like Grell has canceled one appearance but not others, which is a good sign.

One of the scary things about health care issues as yet another generation of cartoonists and comics-makers and industry people move forward is that so many folks are doing so without health insurance. While this unfortunate circumstance usually manifests itself in terms of the costs involved by a lengthy stay for some reason or another, Grell becoming mysteriously sick from a minor incident underlines another worry. Access to health insurance makes those that have it much more inclined to get immediate care for minor things. This isn't exactly what happened to Grell, as it looks like he got hit hard and then his doctors scrambled to find out why, but in a lot of similar cases you're talking a wound or a bite that gets worse and worse as the person who has it worries about being able to pay for a doctor's visit.
 
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Go, Look: Cartoons From Ballyhoo (1936)

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Retailers TFAW and DCBS Join CBLDF As Corporate Members

I think this could be significant. Discount Comic Book Service (DCBS) and Things From Another World (TFAW) have joined the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund as corporate members, according to this morning's release. There are some minor corollaries here -- this should have fundraising benefits, for one; also, people don't always think of DCBS as a retailer, so their doing something like this is worth noting from a public-perception angle in terms of that business -- but the Fund notes right up front the primary significance, that these are two retailers joining that specific program.

The CBLDF hasn't always had 100 percent awesome relationships with the retailing community, despite its admirable work on behalf of multiple retailers during its more than quarter-century of existence and the impressive work done on the Fund's behalf by several staunch supporters in that specific part of the wider comics community. There is a classic and unfortunate take on the Fund's aid to beleaguered retailers as somehow supporting retailers that have run afoul of the law rather than this support going to retailers that managed not to do this -- a classic comics-culture take on things that emphasizes that there's somehow a limited store of goodwill and aid due folks in the comics community, and an embrace of a fallacy that the CBLDF supports or doesn't support specific people as opposed to more generally wages ware on lousy law and abuse of same. So to see a couple of retailers join as corporate partners is a milestone in terms of the Fund's increasingly positive relationship with that community -- something I have to imagine has been helped by bringing former retailer Alex Cox on board in the Deputy Director role.

So: positive news story, no downside. At least none I can see. I hope it has every imagined benefit and more besides, and that more of that admirable community follow these two retailers' lead.
 
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Go, Look: Sarah McIntyre's Birthday Mermaids

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Note: The Next Autoptic Festival Is Due In 2015

I would imagine that if you're interested in the just-completed Autoptic Festival in Minneapolis somehow being yearly rather than every other year, at least initially, now is the time to either a) tell the people involved that you'd love a chance to either return to the show or visit it for the first time next year rather than two years from now, b) make some sort of vague promise to volunteer/help out that you would then honorably keep, because you're not a jerk. Planning a show is really hard under any circumstances; doubling up on one's plans is, well, obviously more difficult than that. The time to pounce is during the afterglow, if only to afford as much time as possible for the potential of a yes being facilitated.

I think yearly shows are best because they allow for a slightly off year every now and then without killing a show outright and they build audience and exhibitor expectations -- you build something you do into your schedule a bit more easily if it's every year, even if that means you don't attend every year. I also think they seem to have a core of Midwestern participation that might facilitate their doing this than would be possible if their show depended on always bringing in a majority of outside guests. There's also the inducement that if a show is successful, it's nice to have that success every year instead of every other year, the same way it's good to have a successful comic book out every year instead of every other, or to work 40 hours at a high-paying gig rather than 20. The problem, I imagine, would be the time involved -- which is why promising to help might be a boon -- and the fact that the show's institutional partners might not be willing pr able to run something in conjunction with a yearly show.

At any rate, I can't imagine it would hurt and might be helpful to express this desire in the direction of the site's twitter and Facebook accounts, and to the organizers directly if you know them. I wouldn't be shy about it, either.
 
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Go, Look: Marian Churchland Post At ComicsAlliance

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Not Comics: John Schoenherr's Dune Illustrations

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* bunch of new works from kuš! komiks due soon, starting with the 14th issue of their main anthology coming out next week. There is nothing more fun in comics than poking around that site and finding new cartoonists settled in among older, more familiar, even-a-times North American ones. The main anthology issue is previewed here.

image* Deb Aoki has a thorough, straight-up announcements-based publishing news profile of Dark Horse through their "originals" line. I'm not questioning the validity of these projects being original, I've just not heard a line like that called something like that before. Lot of fun work on that list, including a one-volume collection of the Sin Titulo comic by Cameron Stewart I remember enjoying on-line.

* not comics: congratulations to Molly Crabapple.

* did everyone know but me that Fantagraphics was going to be doing a complete Witzend collection in two volumes in 2014? I may have heard that and forgotten, I guess. That seems like big news.

* Vertical will publish a version of Fumi Yoshinaga's What Did You Eat Yesterday? for English-language audiences.

* Johanna Draper Carlson caught this piece of sad news from Vertical regarding shojo works: there may not be a whole lot of them in that publisher's future.

image* hey, it's a Friday Night Lights 'zine. I love it when people react directly to expressions of pop culture by making comics and 'zines.

* the writer Matt Fraction will be leaving his scripting duties on FF and Fantastic Four, to be replaced by Lee Allred (with issue #12) and longtime industry veteran Karl Kesel (with issue #13), respectively. Fraction will continue doing Inhumans-related work for Marvel, and his plots for the immediate future on both the Fantastic Four-related titles will be used by the new writers. Fraction has recently established a series presence at Image Comics, which one assumes will be taking up some of his time as well.

* not comics: a Junot Diaz book featuring a bunch of illustrations by Jaime Hernandez? That should be nice.

* Gabrielle Gamboa is working on a comic for a forthcoming Rob Kirby-edited anthology. Sounds good to me.

* Mark Millar's Clint is shutting it down. Always sad to see someone trying one of the traditional format call it quits, although I have to admit I always sort of rolled my eyes at the name of the publication. I would assume these days there's assumed a PR-related necessity to shout "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" after every single project gets terminated, so I bet we see some of that here, too. I have to imagine that this wasn't the result conceived for that project coming out of the gate. Newsstand-styles magazines is a tough nut to crack right now, maybe the toughest, though, so there's no embarrassment in not having been a major success.

* here's one completely off the beaten path for me -- a volume of Matt Baker's work called Lost Art Of Matt Baker: The Complete Canteen Kate Vol. 1 will debut at SPX.

* November will be Artist's Edition month, which is good news for those looking to buy variant-cover editions from the popular line produced by IDW.

* finally, we're starting to see the Christmas books showing up, and it's hard for me to imagine a better than this giant anthology of New Zealand comics, apparently the first of its kind. Fifteen years ago I sat in a room and listened to Dylan Horrocks talk about this stuff and point at art on the walls; I could have blown that off and just waited for this book.

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

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Go, Revisit: Matthew Southworth's Site

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he promises me it's rounding into shape
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Leela Corman and Tom Hart on Molly Rose Corman-Hart.

* looks like the folks at DanielClowes.com are having another contest in conjunction with the release of another print.

image* Rob Clough on The End Of The Fucking World and Digestate. Tucker Stone on a bunch of different works. Richard Pachter on various comics. Stephen Walker on TV Action #64. Dan Hill on Wild Children. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Jordan Smith on a bunch of different old comics. Sean Gaffney on Bunny Drop Vol. 9. Grant Goggans on a bunch of different Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comic-store comics.

* the very good writer-about-comics Hayley Campbell has left Gosh Comics and is pursuing a specific opportunity elsewhere.

* Bob Temuka writes about Ghost Rider's fabulous flaming head.

* indeed, I am very much not laughing.

* Corey Blake bemoans the relative lack of diversity in the efforts of market leaders Marvel and DC. I'm sympathetic to the points being made, although in the end I tend to be confused by these sorts of criticisms, I think because for me this kind of material tends to fail in a lot of different ways and not just -- or even primarily -- this one.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco on two moments in one of those Red Lantern comics, where one of them is cool and one of them isn't. The thing I can't figure out is how a comic where people vomit blood on other people and make testicle jokes isn't at least entertaining to me. Because I read that comic, and it was kind of a chore.

* finally, Shannon Wheeler has an Etsy shop.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Sean Kleefeld!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Daniel Torres!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Rina Ayuyang!

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August 19, 2013


Go, Read: Toro

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I've never seen this before; fascinating
 
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Let The Jack Kirby Drumbeat Begin: Give Back On August 28

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What would have been the 96th birthday of the late, great Jack Kirby will be celebrated a week from Wednesday. I hope that you'll consider giving something back in the name of this foundational comics talent. I sent $9.60 to the Hero Initiative, a charity the family endorses. I can't imagine there's a bad way to go about giving something, though, or many bad targets for those gifts.
 
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Go, Read: Another Top 50 Graphic Novel List

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Here. It's not horrible. If your first 50 encounters with the art form were these 50 choices, you'd likely be vastly entertained and likely intrigued by comics' ability to make great works. It leans British, so insert whatever joke is appropriate to that at the end of this sentence. What that means for the list is that the there's a sameness to the "surprise" choices. The top selection -- not Krazy Kat, pictured above, which is a mere #39 -- is interesting, for a couple of reasons. One is that the visual to represent it is I believe a still from the very sharp-looking movie version: I don't know of any other graphic novel that has received a boost from its movie version in terms of judging its own, inherent visual quality. Another is that I don't know of any art form where basic comprehension gets used as a qualification for excellence in quite the same way. I like that book quite a bit, although it wouldn't make any sort of similar list I'd put together.
 
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Go, Look: Simon Gane Instagram Sketch Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: MW Kaluta Books Of Magic Cover Art Gallery

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Collective Memory: Publication Of March, Volume One

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Chain Reaction

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* this Cartozia Tales crowd-funder seems fairly ambitious in terms of the gut-check, look-at-the-amount-being raised levels, although you know the work will be completed and given the tie-in that a lot of those folks have to the webcomics world that's not a major amount of money at all. That was also the one that jumped out at me this week as a crowd-funder that might naturally appeal to the specific CR readership.

* the cartoonist and publisher Zack Soto announced last week he could use a little sales attention via his on-line shop.

* I'm always a little curious about publishers running crowd-funders because I feel that providing capital is one of the traditional roles of a publisher, but these folks were nice enough to send me their crowd-funding information, and you shouldn't let me being crabby stop you from checking out their work.

* a couple of familiar names on the IndieGoGo side of things: small-press icon Matt Feazell; the longtime comic book store Golden Apple.

* finally, the Sabre project spotlighted here last week -- Don McGregor working with Trevor Von Eeden -- is at that crucial point where around 1/3 of the money has been raised. I always think that 30 to 50 percent level is the key level, but that's more a feel thing than anything research-based. Or even any-kind-of-real-information based.
 
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If I Were In Edinburgh, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Jillian Tamaki Irish Myths Illustrations

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Michel Fiffe has a list of comic book shortcuts for you.

image* I almost totally forgot to post a link to this Buzz Dixon remembrance of the science fiction figure Richard E. Geis. That's not comics, not really, although there was a time when those two worlds traveled very closely together, particularly on the fan side. I'm also enamored of all the fields where fans crossed over into the formal business end of things, such as they ever were. Also, can you imagine running across a publication like the one pictured here in 1953? We forget the context for this kind of artistic endeavor, but it was a whole different world 1, 2, 3 generations ago.

* Catherine Thompson talks to Molly Crabapple. Molly Crabapple talks to Warren Ellis. Vince Brusio talks to Dave Dorman. Brian Truitt talks to Jock.

* for those of you that always wanted to see Hellboy sock Scott McCloud right in the jaw, Guy Delisle was there for you in 1993.

* you can like the Facebook page for The Daniel Clowes Reader.

* Tom Brevoort says comics is doing okay, thanks for asking. I think comics is doing okay, too. I think it can do better -- and I don't think it can always do better, I think it can specifically do better right now. There could be a better market for long-form fiction. There could be more sales down the list at the alt- and art-publishers. More of the money generated by superheroes and by comics more generally for their cross-media potential could stay in comics. I'd like to see the comic-book marketplace lock into place a little more. But there are definitely positives as well, including what looks like the creation of a serial trade shopper at comic book stores.

* Chris Schweizer draws the Wild West Avengers. Evan Dorkin draws Captain America. James Jean draws a war horse.

* the latest of the Guardian cartoonist sketchbook features focuses in on Kate Beaton.

* Andrew Wheeler on Infinity #1. Frank Santoro on various art comics. Rich Barrett on a bunch of different comics. Todd Klein on A Game Of Thrones Vol. 2, Saga Vol. 2 and Joe Hill's Terrifyingly Tragic Treasury Edition.

* finally, "Wake Up And Draw" will return for what would have been the late Jack Kirby's 96th birthday on August 28.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Josh Cotter!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Gene Ha!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Skip Williamson!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Josh Fialkov!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Stefano Gaudiano!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Adam P. Knave!

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August 18, 2013


Whoa, Look At The Venue For Today's Autoptic Festival

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(also, totally hilarious that Koyama is basically totally set up while everyone else sleeps one off; click through the image to follow the show's twitter account)
 
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Go, Read: A Very Nice New Comic From Lucy Knisley

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All Eyes On Minneapolis And The Autoptic Festival

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Site; Tumblr -- I can't think of a single person that doesn't want this to absolutely kill, both for the event itself and for the possibility of future events. If you're anywhere within a couple of hours, I hope you'll make it there. If you're not able to make it, I hope you'll join me in making yourself look at every expression of comics cool that comes out of the event and its satellite offerings and make it a priority to attend another one -- if that happens.

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Nancy Walk Cycle Video

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Seven Reasons Autoptic Is Important, To Become A Longer List As More Ideas Present Themselves To Me

1. For itself.
Autoptic sounds like a good comics show, with a number of strong, comics-related guests a significant number of whom would be worth a visit on a Sunday afternoon were they sitting at a table all by itself in the room in which the festival takes places. This includes people like Jaime Hernandez. It is very much to comics credit that many of its shows have continued to celebrate the achievements of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez as an ongoing thing rather than a tip of the hit during last year's 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets.

image2. For Love and Rockets: New Stories Vol. 6.
Speaking of the Hernandez Brothers, this comic will debut at the festival this year -- it was the first time in some time that the year's latest Love and Rockets book did not appear at Comic-Con International. We should spend more time focused on specific works like the latest comics from the best cartoonist as opposed to abstraction like comics-culture, character concepts and branding.

3. Because Minneapolis is a great comic city.
Minneapolis is an underrated fount of popular culture generally, and an under-appreciated place for comics creation specifically. This was my list of people and institutions in Minneapolis as a local scene, at least as compiled in rough form last year:
People: Ken Avidor, Terry Beatty, Bud Burgy, Kevin Cannon, Zander Cannon, Joe Combs, JP Coovert, Will Dinski, Ryan Dow, Paul Fricke, Neil Gaiman (*), Mitch Gerads, Grant Gould, Terrance Griep Jr., Peter Gross, Jessica Hickman, Sam Hiti, Raighne and Meghan Hogan, Chris Jones, Toby Jones, Chris Judd, Dan Jurgens, Tom K., Ryan Kelly, Bart King, Robert Kirby, Reynold Kissling, Danno Klonowski (dank!), Diana Knock, Peter Krause, Becky Laff, Bob Lipski, Roger Lootine, Sean Lynch, Doug Mahnke, Brad McGinty, Lupi McGinty, Michael May, Mr. Mike, Sarah Morean, Tom Nguyen, Daniel Olson, Joel Orff, Ozel, Tyler Page, Evan Palmer, Shad Petosky, Keith Pille, Gordon Purcell, Madeline Queripel, Quillan Roe, Brittney Sabo, Steve Sack, Zak Sally, Brett Schlosser, Brent Schoonover, Barb Schulz, Jordan Shiveley, Timothy Sievert, Jon Sloan, Curtis Square-Briggs, Vincent Stall, Steven Stwalley, Paul Taylor, David Tea, Sean Tenhoff, Clarence Thrun, Mike Toft, Chaz Truog, Lewis Tuck, Lonny Unitus, Lance Ward, Dave Witt.

Institutions: Big Brain Comics, Big Time Attic, Cartoonist Conspiracy (Minneapolis), Cartoonist Conspiracy (St. Paul), Dreamhaven Books, Grimalkin Press, La Mano, Midwest Comic Book Association, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Nordeast Comics Summit, The International Cartoonist Conspiracy, The Source Comics and Games.
Even with whatever changes have developed since then, that is staggering, and a pair of lists can go toe to toe with similar from any other comics community in North America.

4. Because the Midwest deserves its fair share of comics festivals.
I love the coastal cities, and have chosen to live in them and frequently visit them for large chunks of my life. A strength of comics is that it draws from any number of regions, not just New York, Los Angeles, Florida and the Pacific Northwest. The Midwestern cartoonists are as important to the development of the newspaper strip as any other region. Cities like St. Louis and Chicago have as fine an editorial cartooning tradition as any other metropolis. Along with CAKE in Chicago and maybe one or two other shows, comics has an opportunity to drive attention to the comics art form as a diverse, vibrant way of making art as opposed to solely a vehicle for licensed properties and lowest-common-denominator trash culture -- not that there's anything wrong with either of those things. Regional expressions may matter more in the Midwest than any other region. Things are close geographically but the dominant youth expression of travel and mobility is car-oriented: you can have a band and live in Bloomington or St. Louis and have half the country within a single day's drive. A show like Autoptic may become important to Minneapolis, but it can also be important to Madison and Chicago and Indianapolis, too.

5. Because tying comics into related forms of expression can be healthy.
I'm about as big a comics-for-comics-sake person that exists, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy seeing comics in different context. Heck, I don't mind looking at comic as fodder and inspiration for film and television shows save for the monomaniacal, self-hating and commercially-motivated aspects of that kind of coverage and its facilitation through convention emphases. Looking at comics in terms of their relationship to 'zine-making and music culture allows a different perspective on the work created and the ways in which artists orient themselves in order to make stuff. We can all learn something.

6. Timing: August is a great month to have a art-comics festival in the upper Midwest.
There aren't a lot of places I enjoy traveling in August, but many of them are north of Chicago -- the loveliest time of the year for many of those places, particularly if you're in an urban setting a bit removed from the demented insect-fest that is that region's lakes and woodlands. It's close enough to the very different Comic-Con International to provide a stark contrast with what that show does very well, close enough to the Fall's offerings like APE and Short Run and SPX and CAB to provide a set-up for the last burst of shows and festivals, and enough weeks removed from CAKE that people in that world of comics might be fairly salivating for a show.

7. The free show model is a very exciting model in terms of driving traffic to a show.
One of the most difficult things for any comics show to do is to develop an audience; being a free event is one way to accelerate this process, I think. I'm not even saying there's a right way or a wrong way to do that -- many shows have a commercial function that people are happy to pay; some even have a charitable aspect; in comics we're way too quick to want to offer up things for free out of a sense that what we have to offer may not be worth it because they're not worth it to a loudly-complaining minority. Still, it's tough to get people to leave the house for something with which they're not entirely familiar, and tough to get people oriented to buying, and also tough to negotiate people's experiences in terms of whether they enjoyed themselves or not. Tough, tough, tough. Free can make these things slightly easier. Plus a summer festival feels right being free.

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View From Jim Keefe's Table

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This Is One Midwestern Show

imageThe Autoptic site has a great exhibitors page I did not see until like five minutes ago when I was looking for table assignments. But working off a list someone sent me a while back of exhibitors -- probably from that page! -- it struck me that there is a hugely strong Midwestern showing at Autoptic. I'm sure there are twice the number of the following, but these are the ones that stood out to me as cartoonists that I relate to either Minneapolis or another place in the land between the coasts. I hope mostly correctly.

* 2D Cloud -- Table #64
* Kevin Budnik -- Table #83
* Kevin Cannon -- Table #70
* Zander Cannon -- Table #70
* Lilli Carré -- Table #54
* Will Dinski -- Table #48
* Sam Hiti -- Table #24
* Kevin Huizenga -- Table #26
* Rob Kirby -- Table #79
* La Mano -- Table #44
* Mr. King Mini -- Table #75
* Anders Nilsen -- Table #11
* Jeremy Onsmith -- Table #55
* Laura Park -- Table #54
* John Porcellino -- Table #27
* Keiler Roberts -- Table #76
* Brittney Sabo -- Table #72
* Sam Sharpe -- Table #65
* Tim Sievert -- Table #23
* Steven Stwalley -- Table #72
* Carl Thompson -- Table #85
* Uncivilized Books -- Table #39

I mean, holy crud. That is one pork tenderloin sandwich/deep dish pizza/fried stick of butter walking Midwestern typical-fest.

Some of these people I've never even met: I've not met Keiler Roberts, not that I remember, and know her mostly through John Porcellino enthusing in my direction about her comics. I have no idea what Laura Park will have at her table, but the last time I was at the same show she was -- I assume she does CAKE -- was a Heroes Con in like 2008 or something, so I'd probably snap up anything she had that I could afford. I liked Sam Sharpe's most recent comic, so would enjoy seeing what else was at that table. And so on. Heck, those three are all Chicago -- you could do a similarly strong list of local-only cartoonists. In particular I hope you'll check out La Mano and Uncivilized either today or at a later date on-line to show your appreciation for the show.

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Go, Look: Ain't Them Bodies Saints Prologue Comic

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Go, Look: Famous Places Where I Have Puked

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Go, Read: Delilah Dirk And The Easy Mark

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Go, Read: A Julian Lawrence Comic

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Go, Look: A Peace Comic

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Go, Look: The Silent Knight

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OTBP: All-Star Motherfuckin' Roids

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

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If I Were Near Dartmouth, 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 Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 36th Birthday, Jenni Rope!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Kevin Church!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Lilli Carré!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Brian Bendis!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Chris Allen!

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FFF Results Post #347 -- Industry Backbone

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Non-Owner, Non-"Creative" And Non-Editorial Employees Of Comics Businesses Or Related Entities, Past Or Present; Use This Format." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Alex Cox, CBLDF
2. Robin Green, Marvel
3. Larry Reid, Fantagraphics
4. George Haberlein, King Features Syndicate
5. Johnny Hayes, Marvel

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Jenny Robb, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
2. Peter Coogan, Institute for Comics Studies
3. Will Brooker, Kingston University
4. Bill Blackbeard, San Francisco Academy of Comic Art
5. The spouses of all comic creators, without whose support many great comics would certainly never have been created!

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Ali T. Kokmen

1. "Erie-At-The-Switchboard", Marvel Comics
2. Charles Brownstein, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
3. Flo Steinberg, Marvel Comics
4. Milton Griepp, ICv2
5. Leigh Walton, Top Shelf

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Matt Emery

1. Tim McEwen - Supanova
2. Ian F. Grant - The New Zealand Cartoon Archive
3. Jim Bridges - The Australian Cartoon Museum
4. Pauline Hannah - The New Zealand Cartoon archive
5. Cath Brinkley - ACAF

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Michael Grabowski

1. Flo Steinberg, Marvel Comics
2. John Verpoorten, Marvel Comics
3. Peggy Burns, Drawn + Quarterly
4. Jen Vaughn, Fantagraphics
5. Karen McKiel, Aardvark-Vanaheim

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Scott Dunbier

1) Claudia Chong, WildStorm
2) Nicole Hunting, WildStorm
3) Betty Vorhies, WildStorm
4) Linda Lee, WildStorm
5) Deborah Marvin, WildStorm

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Chris Arrant

1. C.B. Cebulski, Marvel
2. Ron Richards, Image
3. Alex Segura, DC
4. Drew Gill, Image
5. Alan Fine, Marvel

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Mike Dixon

* Flo Steinberg - Marvel
* Mary McPherran - Marvel
* Ron Richards - Image
* Bob Wayne - DC
* Mark Arm - Fantagraphics

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Rob Salkowitz

1. Carol Kalish, Marvel
2. Chip Mosher, comiXology/Boom!
3. Jackie Estrada, Comic-Con International
4. Dave Scroggy, Dark Horse
5. Michael Martens, Dark Horse

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thanks to all that participated; if use of the Cebulski and Robb images are out of bounds, I'll take them down right quick

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August 17, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Joe Sacco Interviewed At Edinburgh Book Festival


Chris Ware Interviewed At Edinburgh Book Festival


John Porcellino Talking About Libraries


Episode Of Guy Maddin TV Show Survival That Includes Rant About X-Men As Pro-Mutant Propaganda




Patrick Vs. Comic-Con, Episodes 1-3 Of 10


Trailer To Herblock Documentary That Opened I Believe Yesterday
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 10 to August 16, 2013:

1. Ahmad Akkari says that Jyllands-Posten had a right to publish the Muhammed cartoons he and several other imams toured several countries to decry; he's said this before, but this time it got some traction.

2. The family of the late songwriter Georg Kreisler criticizes a German newspaper for running a cartoon that used imagery with which Kreisler is credited to criticize Israel.

3. Word slips out that Brian Hibbs let lapse his membership to the retailing and advocacy ComicsPro a while back, in protest to the direction of that organization.

Winner Of The Week
Kurt Westergaard, who met with Ahmad Akkari and afterwards spoke of the conviction he felt the young teacher had on the subject matter discussed.

Loser Of The Week
DC Entertainment; they're still getting smacked around by retailers a bit

Quote Of The Week
"Right now there is an international wave of moral panic that is attempting to falsely equate sexually explicit art, including manga and anime, with the sexual exploitation and abuse of real children." -- Charles Brownstein

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

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Another Reason You'll Have Wished You'd Gone To Autoptic 2013 -- Love & Rockets: New Stories Vol. 6

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A rare non-SDCC debut for a summer Los Bros Hernandez comic book, announced during one of Jaime Hernandez's appearances leading up to the main show tomorrow. The new issue will be released through regular channels in a couple of weeks.
 
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Go, Look: Journey Into Mystery #17

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

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

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Happy 55th Birthday, Andrew Helfer!

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Happy 57th Birthday, John Romita, Jr.!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Tom McLean!

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August 16, 2013


Do You Live Anywhere In This Circle? Are You Going To Autoptic This Sunday? If Not, Why Not?



Autoptic is a reasonable-sized road-trip away for anyone in the above circle. I can't imagine if that is you, and you're a comics fan of the kind that reads this site, that you won't now at least consider making the pilgrimage, and get in on the ground floor of a potentially key comics event in one of the great cities for comics. Seriously, think about it.
 
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Go, Read: Charles Brownstein's Speech To Comic Market

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Go, Look: The Physio

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DC Entertainment Sends Letter To Retailers Regarding Allocation Of September's Special 3-D Covers

So a couple of you sent me the letter from DC Entertainment about September's 3-D covers being allocated after a big build-up, and the various moves DC has made in response to this. I guess the main piece of news is that they are going to re-solicit the "complete set" orders, so that -- I'm guessing -- fans that wanted the whole bunch of them can still get them, just in early 2014 rather than when they're coming out. I suppose that's a solution, although you end up in a potential Deathmate situation of orders reaching fans far, far after the hype cycle that may be a factor in their being interested in the order. This also opens up DC to the charge of profiting from an artificially-created demand situation they themselves facilitated, with the vast majority of the pressures that came about as a result settling on the retailer. What else...? Well, it looks like the allocation list is up now, and retailer can at least cut orders if they want, as long as that information is into DC by August 23. I don't suppose many will use that opportunity to bail out in a hardcore way -- too many have customers that enjoy these aspects of comics, and desire to serve them -- but at least there's some flexibility in how they approach that month, if only flexibility in one direction.

The belle of the ball here is probably this section:
5. Why didn't DC print at least as many copies of each of the 3-D motion cover issues as they do on the regular monthly series?
Orders greatly exceeded DCE's expectations. We did not anticipate that the demand for these covers would be as large -- or larger -- than the demand for each monthly series. The 3-D motion covers also required a much longer production time than normal covers, so we had to set print runs on these issues out of cycle. As more retailers saw sample copies, orders continued to build beyond the print runs we had set. There was also a physical limit to how many copies we could print due to availability of the special cover stock.
That just sort of sounds crazy to me, although admittedly this isn't my field. 1) I can't imagine they didn't expect these 3-D motion covers to sell super well and if they didn't maybe they should have, and if they should have but still didn't maybe a shrugged-shoulder "we are helpless before the awesomeness of our product offering" stance isn't the way to go here, despite its effectiveness for years and years now. 2) They didn't seem to do anything in the ordering process from the retailer's side of things even in terms of getting information to retailers to reflect this supposed structural impediment. 3) If there were limitations all along, maybe that should have been communicated up front rather than after orders were in, and maybe goosing the system with preview copies when you knew there was a limited amount of oxygen in the submarine was probably a bad idea, too. Brian Hibbs' general take that there is a very established way that retailers do orders now that is encouraged by these companies, and that what happened here runs even more counter to that emerging and pretty much already right there set of practices, also rings true.

So I hope retailers remember this and stay mad, and weather the storm in fine enough fashion that they stay healthy and can make strong decisions the next time something like this comes around, only with the full knowledge that this kind of thing may be the result. Comics has this weird aversion to rewarding good behavior over time, and the end result is a corner of the industry that is both dominant but that also probably operates as the lowest percentage of its reasonable potential of any expression out there.
 
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Go, Look: New Life

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So This Fall You Can Learn Comics History With John Ronan

I am not equipped to cover outreach permutations of the various comics-related educational institutions in terms of what's novel and what isn't, but it did seem pretty interesting to me that Sequential Artists Workshop is being reasonably aggressive in promoting an on-line Comics History class with one of their teachers, John Ronan -- a former workmate of mine, although I haven't seen him for six or seven years. That thing that hits me is that this isn't exactly an outsider-friendly seminar-style hot topic class or a History 101 course but a pretty hardcore early comics course of the kind that deals with an element of comics history isn't exactly a strength of my own limited knowledge. For instance, it takes Ronan a whole week to get to William Hogarth. Here's a snippet from his first-week planner:
Week One: Before Hogarth

Readings: Kunzle, David. History of the Comic Strip, Introduction, Chapters 5, 6 and 7

Comics: Jacques Callot, Horrors of War; Romeyne de Hooghe, Peace Negotiations at Breda; Romeyne de Hooghe, The Wonderful Mirror of the Witts; Romeyne de Hooghe, William of Orange and the French War; Romeyne de Hooghe, The Wonderful Mirror of Orange Showing William Henry III; Romeyne de Hooghe, Picture of the Persecutions Suffered by Protestants in France; Cornelius Danckertsz, First are Described the Cursed Plot; variety of “Popish Plots” comics (including Dawkes et alia); Francis Barlow, True Narrative of the Horrid Hellish Popish Plot; playing cards of the Glorious Revolution, (including Henry Sacheverell, John Law); Dutch, Judgement of Charles the Bold; Dutch, Death of Floris; Dutch, The Theatre of Mercy; Pieter Bruegel, Justice; French, Legal Procedures against the Criminal; German, The Horrible Murder committed i\n famous Halle; Augsburg, The Life and Capture of Christian Käsabier; English, The Escape of Jack Sheppard; German, The Foolish World; German, A Precious hallowed Preservative for protection against Poverty; Heinrich Vogtherr the Younger, The Brother's Lawsuit; Cornelius Anthoniszoon, The Prodigal Son; Dutch, The Revellers and their Soul; Venetian, Mirror of the Harlot's Fate, The Life of the Rake; Giueseppe Maria Matelli, The Honored Life of the Idler; The Game of Husbands and Wifes.
I don't know about you, but when I think of comics courses I think of Siegel and Shuster in the first week rather than de Hooghe.

I've been thinking a lot recently in the wake of Kim Thompson's passing about the rise of literary comics in North America, and I think two things about that element of cultural history apply here. One is that with such a specific construction for how that growth in a certain kind of comics expression was facilitated, including the notion that pulp comics needed to be reformed in that direction, it's bound to have an impact on how we see a lot of the early comics-making, or any sort of visual art with a narrative element that depends on spatial arrangement. Being from the generation that listened to the 1970s-emerging generation, I know that I'm consistently surprised by a lot of comics from 1970 and going back a couple of hundred years just because they don't match up with this very limited purview from which the comics I like best emerged. Another thing about recent comics history that might apply to history more generally is that comics has this mostly newer but also pretty grand tradition of jumping in the deep end and hoping we swim, so I'm happy to see an ambitious take on comics' early history offered at the same time something gentler and more survey-like -- and thus more attractive to students -- might be.

I look forward to the day where I take nothing but classes like this one, and I'm jealous of any of you with the time and inclination to take one now.
 
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Go, Look: Hilda Terry And Teena

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Go, Read: Various Chris Ware/Joe Sacco Appearance Reports

Chris Ware and Joe Sacco appeared at an event run in conjunction with the Edinburgh Book Festival this week; Joe Gordon of the FPI blog writes about that joint interview here. I imagine there are others. I'm not sure there's a ton in that report that fans of either artist wouldn't already know, but the pictures made me laugh and every encounter with those two artists is someone's first. Sacco and Ware are two of comics' best ambassadors in terms of being smart, engaging and articulate on their feet; I don't think it comes naturally for Ware, so I think it's a real boon for the medium that's he done a relatively high number of appearances over the last several months in conjunction with the release of last year's holiday present of the season, Building Stories. As a reader and a fan I am so looking forward to the work that we should get this next decade from that generation of alternative cartoonists that emerged in the late '80s and early '90s. It should be something to behold.
 
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Not Comics: Land Of Terror

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Go, Vote: Harvey Awards Ballots Due Monday, August 19

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Go here to vote for the Harvey Awards. It's a good-citizen thing to do to vote in the comics awards where you're eligible to vote. These awards, which are selected by an industry-wide vote in both the nomination and final-ballot rounds, are held in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con in early September.
 
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Go, Look: World Comics India

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Darryl Ayo noticed (I sure didn't) that the writer-about-comics Cheryl Lynn has decided to do other things.

image* that superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose notes that The Dark Knight Returns got a bump from a Superman/Batman movie announcement, and that bump came in the form of digital sales. That books see a significant increase in sales from related-media advertising seems like a logical outcome, but it still worries me a bit in terms of what gets audiences buying something. It's like only finding out about restaurants that advertise on the scoreboard at the high school football game.

* the Biebercomic continues.

* Deb Aoki has a wrap-up of this summer's digital manga news.

* Gary Tyrrell writes about receiving a copy of To Be Or Not To Be from the point of view of a patron that is familiar with a lot of the webcomics-makers that were involved in its production.

* Brigid Alverson talks to Jorge Cham on the occasion of his PhD Comics beginning to appear at Tapastic.

* finally, the new Al Columbia site is re-launched here. I think that's the proper re-launch.
 
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If I Were In Edinburgh, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Bug-A-Boo!

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* feel better, Ryan Cecil Smith!

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Anna & Froga: I Dunno... What Do You Want To Do?. Anne Ishii on Sunny.

* an example of comics censorship in Portugal in the 1950s.

* not comics: I'm not sure how the hell I ended up reading this article, but I would imagine the notion of how to as-cheaply-as-possible legalize shared creative space could be a big deal for a lot of comics people moving forward.

* Graeme McMillan writes about Jack Kirby. It's interesting to engage with a younger writer on his not "getting" Kirby; I always wondered if that were generational and limited to people my age and our obsessions with a kind of well-rendered slick quality that a lot of the most popular artists were doing at the time we began to make distinctions between artists. Guess not. Kirby is foundational, on the Mt. Rushmore of 20th Century comics-makers; I think it's great we pay attention to his legacy.

* Simon Hanselmann on the topic of the month in comics-culture circles.

* I love the idea of comics shops as little hubs of culture, or at least organizing principles for discussing same. This is a fun post for the pictures alone.

* I'm still intrigued by the idea that this year's Ignatz awards nominees slate may have the highest percentage of female nominees for any such award program at that stage in their process. I think it's about 50 percent, or close to it; I'm not sure I recall a similar slate in any of the years past. I think that's worth noting, but I don't think it's remarkable. It just seems pretty matter-of-fact that a lot of good work is being done by people of all genders now. Why wouldn't there be? Probably the only reason it's on my mind is as an easy refutation of the kind of noxious practices and ideas that have been in the air this month.

* new SuperMutant Magic Academy.

* finally, a little "by request" extra, albeit for a film rather than a comics project: a documentary about diversity issues in comics enters into its final days with some help needed. Or at least they needed some help when I typed this as opposed to where they might be by the time this rolls out.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Jason!

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August 15, 2013


Festivals Extra: Billy Ireland Cartoon Library Grand Opening Festival Registration Goes Live Today

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more information here
 
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Go, Look: Photo Of Adrian Tomine Meeting The First Lady

Here. This came out way classier than the time that S. Clay Wilson met Pat Nixon. I'm kidding! That's actually very cool, and I can't imagine many better representatives from the comics world in an all-arts setting.
 
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Your 2013 Ignatz Award Nominees

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The 2013 Ignatz Awards announced its nominee slate earlier today. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 14 following an on-floor vote at that day's Small Press Expo. This year's nominating committee was Lisa Hanawalt, Dustin Harbin, Damien Jay, Sakura Maku and Jason Shiga. This year's host is Liza Donnelly.

Update: Ethan Heitner wrote in with a thought of which I'm sure some variation was on the mind of those that took a look at this list.
3 of 5 nominees for outstanding artist are women
5 of 5 nominees for outstanding graphic novel are by women
3 of 5 nominees for promising new talent are women
3 of 5 nominees for outstanding web comic are by women

4 of 9 categories are therefore majority women nominees
Thanks, Ethan.

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Outstanding Artist
* Lilli Carré, Heads or Tails
* Michael DeForge Lose #4
* Miriam Katin Letting It Go
* Ulli Lust, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life
* Patrick McEown, Hair Shirt

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Outstanding Anthology or Collection
* Freddie Stories, Lynda Barry
* Heads or Tails, Lilli Carré
* Peter Bagge's Other Stuff, Peter Bagge
* Tusen Hjartan Stark #1
* Very Casual, Michael DeForge

*****

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Outstanding Graphic Novel
* The Property, Rutu Modan
* Susceptible, Genevieve Castree
* Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Ulli Lust
* When David Lost His Voice, Judith Vanistendael
* You'll Never Know Volume Three: A Soldier’s Heart, Carol Tyler

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Outstanding Story
* Arid (Secret Prison #7), Tom Hart
* Birdseye Bristoe, Dan Zettwoch
* The Carnival (Heads or Tails), Lilli Carré
* Gold Star, John Martz
* Neighbors (Stark #1), Joanna Hellgren

*****

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Promising New Talent
* Sam Alden, Hawaii 1997 & Haunter
* Nathan Bulmer, Eat More Bikes
* Philippa Rice, Looking Out
* Diana Thung, August Moon
* Angie Wang, The Teacup Tree, Secret Prison #7

*****

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Outstanding Series
* The Hive, Charles Burns
* Lose, Michael DeForge
* Madtown High, Whit Taylor
* Pope Hats, Ethan Rilly
* Prison Pit, Johnny Ryan

*****

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Outstanding Comic
* Hyperspeed to Nowhere, Lale Westvind
* The Life Problem, Austin English
* Looking Out, Philippa Rice
* Pope Hats #3, Ethan Rilly
* St. Owl's Bay, Simon Hanselmann

*****

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Outstanding Minicomic
* Il Cammino Delle Capre, Kris Mukai & Zachary Zezima
* The End of the Fucking World #16, Charles Forsman
* Hawaii 1997, Sam Alden
* Layaway, Joseph Lambert
* Powdered Milk Volume Ten: The Man Who Could Not Read, Keiler Roberts

*****

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Outstanding Online Comic
* Bird Boy, Annie Szabla
* Gabby's Playhouse, Ken Dahl & Gabby Schulz
* Haunter, Sam Alden
* July Diary, Gabrielle Bell
* SuperMutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki

*****
*****
 
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On Paul Gulacy's 60th Birthday, Why Not Revisit His Awesome 1970s Master Of Kung Fu Splash Pages?

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Searching is fun, but a good place to get a bunch of them is through the three galleries at Diversions Of A Groovy Kind.
 
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Missed It: Retrofit Comics Enters Into Co-Publishing Arrangement With Big Planet Comics

This doesn't strike me as something that's very complicated, or that needs a lot of unpacking, but it definitely deserves a mention. Box Brown sent out a press release on Tuesday noting that Retrofit Comics was now co-publishing with Big Planet Comics, the Washington DC-area comic book store mini-chain. The first release will be Brown's own Beach Girls, and is already out. Brown cites the attractiveness of being able to focus on editorial; Jared Smith of Big Planet cites the store's ongoing commitment to independent comics and the fact they've been carrying the Retrofit books since the first release in 2011. Three more books are planned this year. This makes Big Planet the latest comic book store to dabble in comics publishing, which I guess counts as sort of a mini-trend now.
 
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Go, Look: George Grosz Mini-Gallery

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Quick Publishing News Note: JR JR At A Crossroads?

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There's been a smattering of talk out there about the artist John Romita Jr. perhaps choosing something new to do after his current run of comics reaches its conclusion. This interview done on the occasion of the release of the Kick-Ass 2 movie confirms that uncertainty, or at least potential for same, from Romita's standpoint. This would be interesting in that Romita has a ton of fans, both in terms of comics readers and fellow professionals, but mostly in that he's very, very identified with Marvel so any move somewhere else for anything more than a cup of coffee would be seen as a big deal perception-wise. Romita's also a total workhorse with a publishing pedigree that affords him a significant page rate, so any move from the artist has the potential to say something about the economics of comic-book production right now.
 
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OTBP: Our Library

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Your Danish Cartoons Controversy Hangover Round-Up

A few notes on the story this week that former Imam Ahmad Akkari has recanted the severity of his position regarding the publication of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammed cartoons in 2005. I could be wrong about some of the specifics; Danish is not a language I know, and that's where a lot of the contributing material was initially run. But anyway:

1. As far as I can tell, Akkari was a key figure in but not the leader of a movement working against the publication of those cartoons. He was definitely part of the group that traveled to several different countries in December 2005 preceding the violence that erupted in 2006, and a leading, public voice of that group. He was the co-author of the dossier that was presented on that trip. He was one of those who sought government censure of the newspaper throughout.

2. It's a tough call to what extent Akkari was directly responsible for the pig-snout image that was in the dossier and subsequently presented in media reports as one of the cartoons. He is certainly linked to it. It definitely seems like it wouldn't have been in there without him. It's in how it was received and interpreted that it gets a bit complicated, although maybe only a bit. What I can't tell if how much -- if at all -- the image was presented by the clerics as one of the cartoons. One version I've pieced together is that this image was presented in the dossier not as one of the cartoons but as another image showing Danish attitudes towards Islam. This, of course, was by itself a distortion: the image was based on a French photo and had nothing to do with Denmark at all, let alone that country's policies towards its -- I think -- 200,000 strong muslim population. On the other hand, that someone would offer up an image for one purpose and have it be taken a completely different way is kind of a recurring thing with the whole Cartoons Controversy.

3. I also can't help but think that one of the reasons a false image gained traction -- one of the reasons, anyway -- is that newspapers and other media weren't stepping up to publish the actual images when they became news and, in my opinion, the news-gathering and dissemination roles of newspapers and on-line publications demanded they be published. I'm not interested in apportioning blame but I think what's fascinating about the Danish Cartoons Controversy is the way the use and the refusal to use the media had consequences that were frequently not the ones desired by the person either using or deciding not to use the media.

4. Akkari's role does remind of the initial context of the publication, which wasn't solely about free speech and almost nothing to do with cartoons or even image-making specifically. There was a significant element about the worries of a significant minority population that cultural and political institutions had it out for them in some way, and that the publication of these images were proof that there was widespread hostility aimed towards that part of the population. I think that's likely a cynical construction, a rush to claim a certain status in order to use it as a launching point for complaints, but I would have to imagine some of these issues and concerns are genuine and without agenda for tens of thousands of those outside the core, agitating group.

5. I still don't like the thought of newspapers and other media engaging in free-speech stunts, and think there is plenty of opportunity to fully exercise the right to publish in a responsible way. I also think if you wish to start a discussion and the discussion is quickly taken over by a group a half-dozen people and your point is so lost on folks they end up in a murderous riot or twenty, you sort of suck at discussions.

6. That said, the violence involved was heartbreaking, and the intolerance expressed since, frequently through violence or the threat of violence -- including one incident where Akkari is caught on tape making a veiled reference to violence he has since said is a joke -- is heartbreaking and in many cases a flourishing of all that is bad in humanity. The newspaper certainly had the right to publish those pictures, and to do so without lawless reprisal or threat of murder and property destruction. Nearly everyone else that published the image not only had the right to publish but was compelled to publish by their primary responsibility as journalists to educate and inform. These are not negotiable terms for a free society, and clearly not so in the way frequently presented to us by opponents of this kind of publication.

7. Akkari recanting his extremism from 2005-2006 isn't exactly new. He made overtures like this in just about a year following the riots and came out openly saying exactly what he said recently both last year and earlier this year. Again, it's one of those things where the ebb and flow of the way the media works holds sway over the actual timeline of events.

8. I do think it's reasonable to doubt Akkari's sincerity given his interest in keeping a teaching position that might prompt a more public, liberal view. I also think Akkari's history may indicate a tendency to dissemble and change his mind, including what some feel was an Akkari family turn-around on Danish nationalism when their ability to stay in that country was once in doubt. Like a lot of young men, Akkari also has some creepy misfires on his public record. His are extremely worrisome: hostility towards women in authority positions, strict conservatism regarding a woman's place in society, violence against other students when he was one himself.

9. in general, I feel that if Kurt Westergaard is willing to sit down and talk to the man, I think we can all run the news story without rolling our eyes in the direction of the dead.
 
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Not Comics: Tugboat Printshop

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Missed It: Cartoonist Mamora Gōda Arrested For Indecent Behavior

Here's a news brief that tumbled out of the Anime News Network site yesterday: the manga creator Mamora Gōda was arrested earlier this year for "indecent behavior towards a woman." The brief says that two of the incidents, in April and May, involving throwing a ball at this woman -- knocking her down on the latter occasion, and causing her an injury. The maker of the manga Mori no Asagao was subsequently charged on June 25 and July 12.

In addition to Mori no Asagao, Gōda created Kirakira Hikaru and Samayoi Zakura. All three of those series are set in some aspect of Japan's judicial system, and have been translated into live-action TV series.
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Autoptic, Autoptic, Autoptic. I have been trying and failing to write a serious article about Autoptic for about six weeks now -- sorry, Zak; Sorry, Tom -- and hopefully I will have something up today. If you're anywhere in the region, I hope you're considering a trip to the show this Sunday. If you haven't considered a trip, I'd suggest maybe considering one now. If Minneapolis weren't only slightly less expensive to get to from the Southwest than Toronto, I'd be there myself. Minneapolis is a great comics city and deserves a first-rate alt-comics show. This could be it.

image* a photo array from a Chuck Forsman signing in Brooklyn.

* the belle of the ball this week is a two-part convention report from the Wizard World Chicago -- or whatever they're calling the Old Chicago Show now -- by Sean Kleefeld. Signage is so important and so underrated. I am a big fan of signage. My family and I get together at Thanksgiving and talk about signage. Signage, signage, signage.

* Colleen Frakes is taking commissions pre-SPX -- I bet a lot of your favorite small pressers are.

* here's a write up on a recent, semi-sprawling conversation on how to sue digital means to do store and convention appearances, basically to lower costs. I'm all for convention appearances and for lowering costs, although I'm always a bit confused when comics creators talk about conventions as if public appearances should be profitable.

* Chris Pitzer enthuses over SPX.

* Shannon Smith reports from a small comics show.

* comics and related-book launches don't look like I remember them looking, and, you know what? Good.

* attend the festival/buy the shoe.

* finally, you might want to bookmark the debuts page at the SPX site.

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Go, Look: Softcore

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

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Not Comics: Science Fiction Covers Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this really reads like more of a plotline for a not-very-believable Marvel comic book than it does a rational political analysis. It's also weird in that, for instance, the claim that no one saw certain economic bubbles bursting is wholly untenable, to the point where it almost feels like you're acting out to write that. On a potential flip side, I know one Eisner-winning writer who told me with 100 percent certainty that the last president was going to suspend the elections and stay in office into 2009; the difference of course being they didn't write straight-faced editorials about that stuff, and there wasn't a core of nasty racism at its heart.

image* Rob Harrell talks about his latest work, Monster On The Hill.

* here's a discussion of Cartooning: Philosophy And Practice, that book from the fine gentleman Ivan Brunetti.

* riding around on buses with Dan Clowes drawings on them would have to be weird.

* Chris Randle on The Strange Tale Of Panorama Island. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on a few epic-type comics, including Saga. Henry Chamberlain on East Of West #5. Johanna Draper Carlson on a slew of DC's digital titles and Doubt Vol. 2. Richard Bruton on The Waste and Playing Out. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics. James Bacon on Judge Dredd: Day Of Chaos: Endgame. Sean Gaffney on Kitaro.

* Sean Kleefeld puts a book down.

* Steve Rude is teaching art.

* Rob Clough talks to Dash Shaw back in 2008.

* finally, for future reference in terms of comics awards, I sort of like the mid-career/master split that the playwriting award take here.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Paul Gulacy!

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August 14, 2013


Go, Look: Wait A Minute, Doc...

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Go, Read: Comics Beat On Minneapolis Convention Wars

There's an interesting post by Heidi MacDonald at The Beat on a letter that's been circulating -- apparently for a few days, although I just got it hours ago -- claiming that the Wizard convention business is settling in on a date near that of an established Minneapolis show with a show of their own. It was from a "Fredric Wertham," a person I'm guessing is not the resurrected anti-comics crusader nor an actual namesake. Let me try and upload it here in case you want to read it.

WizardStrikesAgain.doc

I understand being upset. It's a dick move, and nobody likes dick moves. Plus there are issues of perception -- having a "comics show" in your area that is fundamentally different than yours can change the perception of what that mean. Also, the margins may be pretty tight, and losing a little bit of business can have a drastic effect. That said, a Wizard show nearby or close to your weekend isn't the dire threat it once was. Certainly there was no dimming of Emerald City's star when Wizard threw an event in nearby Portland just before that show. Wizard has a sort of unique approach to booking their shows that features a lot of genre television stars rather than programs and guests built around comics reading, so there's rarely overlap between what they do and more traditional show. I'm also not sure how big a breach in etiquette, let alone ethics, putting your show close to another one is right now. Lying about it is; or suggesting that you're constrained from any other option, and the number of open dates at other times on the schedule seem to indicate a not-truthfulness on Wizard's part, claims to the contrary. But I'm not sure just wanting to have a show on a desirable part of a calendar is a heinous act. I mean, I wouldn't like it; I wouldn't go to a McShow that had creeped up on my regional show. I suspect a lot of shows are going to remember who treated them well and who didn't and make their decisions accordingly. At the same time, it seems like competition for certain bits of calendar real estate is inevitable given how generally successful comics shows are and the extent to which they represent a sort of low-threshold entry option for a lot of aspiring businessmen. It'd be interesting if Wizard's response was, "We put on a better convention, and you bet we're going after that other show," but people would probably freak about that, too. Plus, that'd be a hard one for them to back up.

This may be one of those comics things where it's hard to figure out what's going on because the comics industry is so bend-over-backwards and tolerant in encouraging most expressions of comics and comics-related culture that it's hard to figure out where a line should be drawn given those values. I think Wizard conventions are gross. They sadden me. They have little to do with what I like about comics, an exciting and vibrant and diverse art form. I barely cover those shows and I always encourage people to find and support shows that value what they do and that are an overall good for the community in which they choose to work and express themselves, if only as a patron. I've never been convinced that's a Wizard show. In other words, I would be against the proliferation of Wizard shows if they let other conventions choose dates for them, so seeing this as a gauntlet-tossing moment kind of perplexes me. Hopefully, as was the case with HeroesCon several years back when a Wizard show in the same region was a much more dire threat, I hope this show and others like it use the proximity of a Wizard event to crystallize their own approach and blow the carpetbaggers out of the water.
 
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Not Comics: Kajsa Åhlander Persson

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By Request Extra: Zack Soto

The publisher and cartoonist Zack Soto is the latest comics-maker to put out the call that he could use some business right now. A lot of the material being offered is very attractive, too. I own and like all of the books listed here.
 
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Not Comics: Tales Of Three Planets

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Seattle Weekly Names Fantagraphics Best Local Publisher

This kind of designation isn't a rare thing for comics publishers, but I did want to point out how interesting it's been for comics publishers to become a greater part of the local cultural landscape in which they exist. Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly both have stores now through which they've leveraged a significant amount of attention in ways that I think benefit them as a whole. SLG was making use of its space more publicly a few years back; Image runs its Expo in its adopted home area. I think having a local identity can be a very advantageous thing for a comics entity.
 
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Go, Look: Curry And Book Journal Images

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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.

*****

JUN131298 MARCH GN BOOK 01 [DIG] $14.95
It's hard to imagine a book you would want to check out in the comics shop on a day like today more than this one, and it's hard to imagine a better week for it to come out. I haven't read more than about 25 pages here and there in short bursts -- I'm saving it -- but the subject matter is wholly admirable and Nate Powell is in a good comics page-making place right now. Also, Congressman John Lewis has been an admirable partner for Top Shelf on the project: doing tons of press, pushing for a generally high standard in the way the project is presented, and routinely diverting attention to his collaborators.

imageAPR130307 MARK SCHULTZ XENOZOIC TALES ARTIST ED HC PI
This is more expensive -- I think this one hovers somewhere around $100 -- but is also the sole reason that many people will go to a comics shop this week. I like these books as much as most people have: it's fun to look at this material at the original size and note the corrections made -- all the standard, bordering-on-cliché tributes. Schultz is fondly remembered but almost never discussed, certainly not in a way that reflects his one-time undeniable indy-comics superstardom. I imagine this release might have the same effect the Rocketeer and Thor book for their respective artists' reputation, if only in terms of people talking about Schultz again.

APR130044 BPRD HELL ON EARTH TP VOL 06 RETURN O/T MASTER $19.99
This week's Mignola-verse offering is a trade paperback; I've been tempted to collect these in that form, even though I'm a comic book nut, as some of the individual issues are hard to track down. As I've written a bunch of times here, I suspect the regularity with which comics trade are released in the more active series is helping transform serial comics readers into serial trades buyers, which is a fascinating thing.

JUN130454 SAGA #13 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUN130569 WALKING DEAD #113 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUN130290 ASTRO CITY #3 $3.99
JUN131170 BUCK ROGERS IN 25TH CENTURY #1 CHAYKIN CVR $3.99
MAY130253 DJANGO UNCHAINED #6 (MR) $4.99
A light group of comic-book comics this week, too. I only list the Django Unchained comic because it seems like that movie came out when this nation still had slavery. It's hard for me to imagine people staying in a Django mindset for so long that they're anticipating this series as it comes out, although I know that there are some folks that feel that way. They still have an issue left. Saga and Walking Dead together make this a big, big week for non-Big Two comics. The pacing on the Saga felt different to me than it did in previous issues, but I'm not invested enough with that one to say with 100 percent certainty that this is a real thing rather than imagined. The Astro City work finishes up the call-center storyline begun in the second issue, and seems to me the same comic it always was. I will always read and/or look at Howard Chaykin.

JUN130487 ONE TRICK RIP OFF DEEP CUTS TP $19.99
Paul Pope's recent, big trade of individual stories in softcover; there's a lot of work here that I'd completely forgotten, and it's a pretty good first work for those interested in trying Pope out; you should have some idea what he's about and whether that's for you by the time you're about 2/3 of the way through this one.

MAY131338 DOROHEDORO GN VOL 10 (MR) $12.99
I think this is the best of the mainstream, broad-audience oriented manga series with a volume out this week.

JUN131294 OTTOS BACKWARDS DAY HC $12.95
JUN131295 PATRICK EATS HIS PEAS & OTHER STORIES HC $12.95
Two heavy-hitters from Toon -- a sequel to one of the line's original big-splash releases, and the latest from that line's all-time MVP Geoffrey Hayes. I will get them both.

JUN131313 AMAZING FACTS AND BEYOND HC $24.95
If it's not clear from the above, this is sort of a light week -- at least from my perspective. If it's one from yours, maybe consider picking up this collection of alt-newspaper strips from Dan Zettwoch and Kevin Huizenga, two mega-talents.

*****

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 Edinburgh, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: A Jeffrey Jones Edgar Rice Burroughs Calendar

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Faith Erin Hicks notes the fundamental stupidity of the He-Man Woman Haters Club theory of comics.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on various new releases. Bill Blackbeard on The Bungle Family. Rob Kirby on a bunch of different comics. Bart Croonenborghs on Epstein. Rob Clough on Bottomless Belly Button. Tucker Stone on Daredevil #8. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Dogs Of War.

* I had never seen this Frank Frazetta drawing of Superman.

* someone in Norway please have lunch with Alan Gardner.

* Michael Kupperman is about to enter into a new commercial phase of his career and would like your input. Hint: "Black Godfather Of The Ants."

* Will Scott talks to Boris Beuzelin. Peter Howard talks to Annie Koyama. Zack Smith talks to Eric Reynolds and Phil Nel. Alex Dueben talks to Dash Shaw.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco digs into a recent news story about an artist switch on a DC Comic to blast the general DC publishing climate right now.

* Dean Haspiel once saw Howard Chaykin blush.

* Bob Temuka is unstuck in time.

* finally, Stan Lee in 1999 on his thoughts concerning Steve Ditko as a co-creator. That was a nice thing, although a cynic could say it actually represents Lee walking back an earlier statement that said that Dr. Strange was pretty much all Ditko.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Gary Larson!

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Happy 70th Birthday, John Costanza!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Jimmy Palmiotti!

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August 13, 2013


Bundled Extra: Koyama Press Announces Four Titles For Spring 2014 -- Jacobs, Lim, DeForge, Kim

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Koyama Press has announced its Spring 2014 line-up, consisting of four books. They are:

* Safari Honeymoon, Jesse Jacobs, softcover, use of spot colors, 80 pages, 9781927668047, May 2014, $15.
* 100 Crushes, Elisha Lim, softcover, full-color, 100 pages, 9781927668061, June 2014, $18.
* A Body Beneath, Michael DeForge, softcover, black and white, 152 pages, 9781927668078, May 2014, $15.
* Cat Person, Seo Kim, softcover, full-color, 144 pages, 9781927668054, May 2014, $20.

That is an interesting group. The DeForge, incidentally, is a collection of material from early issues of Lose. You can read full descriptions of that one, and the others through the initial link. It looks like TCAF should be a happy time for fans of Koyama's comics.
 
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Go, Look: Philippa Rice

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By Request Extra: Noah Van Sciver Selling Hypo Pages

The cartoonist Noah Van Sciver is selling originals from his The Hypo graphic novel, which featured a young, intensely tortured Abraham Lincoln. They look very nice. I don't know if this is tied into any specific instance of need, but I have to imagine a cartoonist can always use the extra money the sale of original art can bring.
 
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Go, Look: 1978 Calendar Of Super-Spectacular Disasters

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German Newspaper's Cartoon About Israel Draws Criticism From Family Of Song Used As Reference Point

imageObjections to politically conversant editorial cartoons are reasonably common in every culture that offers them.. This is particularly true when issues involving the state of Israel are involved. This story about a cartoon from an edition of last week's German Daily Stuttgarter Zeitung showing Benjamin Netanyahu poisoning a peace-process related dove as if it were a pigeon in the park struck me not for the fact of the objection, or even the strength of the original opinion addressed, but because of a specific hook on which that criticism was hung. Those that went after the cartoon claimed that not only were the politics of the cartoon wrongheaded, but that by referring to a song called "Pigeon Poisoner" by the composer Georg Kreisler, the cartoon also manages to insult a man who fled Vienna in 1938 with his parents and was thus a Holocaust survivor. Kreisler's daughter was among the critics. Kreisler fought in World War II for the US and returned to Europe in 1955; he died in 2011. A criticism that this cartoon also ropes in more general anti-Semitic imagery of Jews as poisoners also surfaced.

If anyone knows the name of the cartoonist involved, I was stumped.
 
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Airboy Was The Best Comic Book... At Being Kind Of Weird

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By Request Extra: An About Comics Warehouse Sale

imageThey actually call it an "Empty The Warehouse" sale. What's going on is that the printer that stores some of About Comics' books for them, Lebonfon, is apparently moving away from that part of their business, and is giving the small publisher an opportunity to have cases of certain books shipped their way. Nat Gertler's company is in turn extending this to interested retailing parties -- or, one supposes, fans with a retailing-sized appetite for a bunch of books at a go. So it's not really a "By Request" deal, in that there's no money being asked for for another purpose, but I thought the arrangement interesting enough I wanted to call attention to it.

I exchanged e-mails with Gertler. He pointed out that this is actually a later stage in an ongoing relationship between publisher and printer that's been evolving for a while now. "It is painful, but it would be much more painful if About Comics hadn't gotten out of the traditional publishing/direct market model a couple years back now and switched our new and back-to-print volumes to a print-on-demand & digital strategy," he told CR. Gertler went on to say that the printer, with whom they had been working since the company's first trade, "had raised their warehousing prices by 60 percent around the time we were transitioning to print-on-demand..." This had prompted them to have some books destroyed, cut contributors in on some cheap deals to acquire more copies of their work, and to make a donation of books as premiums to the CBLDF. "I did manage to quickly sell off a lot of things to some obvious markets -- selling off all of our warehoused cases of The Blank Comic Book, making a deal with the Schulz Museum Bookstore for the warehoused copies of our Schulz collections, and even getting Diamond to order a year's worth of some perennial books in advance by offering them a substantial discount to do so. So this is all painful but not disastrous, and in some ways is ripping off a Band Aid brand adhesive strip all at once, rather than yanking one arm hair out at a time."

Another longtime Lebonfon client, Dan Vado at SLG Publishing, told CR he was unaware of a change in that part of his relationship with the printer, but pointed out, "I do not do much new stuff anymore." He further noted that this is was more of an added service the printer supplied; it was never what he and SLG would have called a "core efficiency."
 
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Go, Look: Boy Comics #93

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Go, Look: Photos Of Gary Groth, Fanzine Maker

I would assume these photos are from the Baltimore Sun archives from a feature article done or at least planned about Groth. It's amazing to me how many such articles were done about young collectors and/or fanzine makers that later on worked in the industry they loved and covered. Making a publishing career out of a start in your bedroom counting out lines of type on an electric typewriter is a remarkable thing. Groth is one of the principal members of an entire generation of comics-industry folk that just kind of threw themselves at the obstacles they faced, over and over again, until they found enough of a purchase to stick around.
 
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Go, Look: Kingdom/Order

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Paul Hornschemeier announces a return to self-publishing with Bygone; he plans three a year.

image* hard to imagine there will be an SPX or SPX-approximate debut as entertaining as Benjamin Marra's Blades And Lasers. There will be a lot of them, though, and they're beginning to round into publishing form. Here's the latest installment of Katie Skelly's serialized version of her forthcoming work from AdHouse, Operation Margarine, near completion. Here's what Nick Sumida will debut at the show. I imagine you could just squat at the SPX tumblr site and collect word of these three or four a day until the show.

* there's an interesting article here at The Beat about an artist named Vanesa R. Del Rey doing the art chores on a BOOM! title called Hit and that this wasn't paid attention to despite a recent focus on women-in-comics issues. I'm not all the way sure how to parse this story in relation to those issues -- it seems to me a leap, or at least a journey of a couple of steps, to go from, say, the writer Mark Millar's use of rape as a genre tweak to who might be working on a specific book -- but it's not a comic whose publishing announcement I caught the first time and it looks like it could be a fun title. There is a lot of talent out there about which to write that are women, and a lot of companies to write about with gender diversity in their staffing make-up. My gut feeling is that should be a reality of everyday coverage rather than a spotlighted push-back mechanism, or even conceived of that way, but it never hurts to bring the subject up.

* the singer and songwriter Max Bemis is set to make his debut as a Marvel comics writer.

image* Sean Gaffney takes a walk through the most recent licensing announcements out of the world of manga. That's good, because that kind of coverage is totally not something I do well. Still, I would imagine the big news there is the re-emergence of the spottily-available series Monster, this time in nine volumes. That is a very good comic, and one that has recently been making the rounds as a potential cable-TV series.

* Al Columbia drops casual mention of a new comic from Floating World and PO Press here.

* I'm not sure I'd seen a cover image for the AdHouse version of that hot Gregory Benton offering from MoCCA this year.

* a look at the first major Michael DeForge book from Drawn and Quarterly, as it goes off to press.

* so I guess an art change from Kevin Maguire to Howard Porter on some sort of future version of the Justice League characters is worth noting. That is sort of interesting in that both artists have a legacy with the Justice League concept. What I find a bit more interesting is that the market will foster multiple versions of that particular team superhero project. I mean, it's sort of fun when you're a kid and/or a superhero fan to see variations of favorite character, but does that really have a chance to dig in? I guess 46 different Avengers titles says "Yes." And it's not like there haven't been a billion X-Men titles for 20 years now; I would go straight to hell were a quiz from St. Peter in which I would asked to tell a lot of those books apart.

* the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com looks at the next few books due for release from Drawn and Quarterly, including an Anders Nilsen book whose cover I'm not sure I'd seen yet.

* new Jeremy Baum in September.

* finally, Renee French has been mentioning on her Facebook feed that she is a few panels away from finishing her Fall book Hagelbarger And The Nightmare Goat, previewed here by publisher Yam Books.

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

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Go, Look: Cool-Looking Dan Spiegle Art From 1978

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I think this is about as formal a launch as we're likely to get for the Kirby family's fundraising efforts surrounding what would have been the late Jack Kirby's 96th birthday. I hope that you'll read the article and participate in their campaign or some other, just find some way to give back on that date or in recognition of that date.

image* Chris Sims talks to Cliff Chiang. Brian Truitt talks to Jonathan Hickman. Patrick Riley talks to Lee Sullivan.

* it's really fun to read Tom Scioli right now.

* I am always charmed by publishers congratulating their artists and writers on awards wins, maybe more than I am charmed by award themselves.

* not comics: D+Q does very well with these.

* Cory Doctorow on On The Ropes. Richard Bruton on I Am Fire. Kelly Thompson on Trillium #1. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Zenith. Paul O'Brien on All-New X-Men #15. Johanna Draper Carlson on Midnight Secretary Vol. 1. Rob Clough on two by Dash Shaw. Jordan Smith on a bunch of different comics. More from 1987 by Matt Derman.

* these are the recent comics that Richard Bruton liked the most. These are the recent collected editions Chris Marshall says are worth checking out.

* Bob Temuka talks about paper.

* former Alternative Comics publisher Jeff Mason looks so peaceful this way, like he's real people. I also liked this drawing Box Brown did of Hulk Hogan. Please stay tuned for future episodes of "Following Links Off Of Twitter At 2:36 PM On A Monday."

* Brandon Seifert on why he doesn't write rape scenes. That's an interesting perspective. I'm actually more of the mind that absolutely everything is on the table when it comes to art, which is one reason why Millar's practice of using this specific horrifying act as little more than a raise-the-stakes genre tweak seems so deplorable.

* Johanna Draper Carlson caught a process post by Raina Telgemeier so I will send you there through her.

* finally, it's fun to follow the writer-about-comics Jog on twitter.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Donna Barr!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Bret Blevins!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Shannon Wheeler!

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August 12, 2013


Go, Look: Leslie Hung

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Missed It: Brian Hibbs Lets Dues Lapse To ComicsPRO

Totally, totally missed that Brian Hibbs has apparently decided to end his relationship the retailer advocacy organization ComicsPRO over the current board's reaction to DC's last-minute announcement they didn't have enough 3-D covers printed to cover orders for their September promotion. Luckily, Bleeding Cool caught it; I guess you really do have to read the comments. ICv2.com also picked up on it.

I think that's a big deal, although maybe not in the way we usually figure these things to be a big deal. Hibbs was very much a booster of putting together a group like that one, and used to a very persuasive advocate in public and in private for the good it could potentially do. Whereas the way we usually figure out the size of a story through the heat generated by the clash of personalities, I would put the focus on the cause for Hibbs to make this move: it's not that Brian Hibbs is unhappy, but why. If ComicsPRO is not working with its membership to do something as straight-forward as taking a company to task for a complete, ugly train wreck and total failure like not being able to cover orders on a heavily-publicized promotion, we're talking a pretty firm identity for that group moving forward that is much bigger than whether any one person is under the tent. In other words, I think if ComicsPRO settles into a more general advocacy role without teeth, an avenue for publishers to promote their books to member retailers, that is bigger news than whether or not Brian Hibbs is a member. Although, hey, it's still pretty big news. Brian was the group's public midwife, or at least the person running around and handing out cigars. They'll miss him.

Update: Hibbs wrote in at about 4:00 PM ET to say that he had let his membership lapse before this issue cropped up. So this is the kind of stance that made him do that, rather than the exact stance. I took the context of his posting this in a thread about a specific instance of the kind of action -- or inaction -- that made him do that as a sign that there was a direct causation. Guess not. I regret the error, but I have to admit -- I'd probably make that same supposition 199 times out of 200. I'm glad to clear it up in this case, though, partly in the hopes that Mr. Hibbs will cite another instance of what he sees as this trend so that I can publish it in another update graph right below this one. Mr Hibbs?
 
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Go, Look: The Sound Of Magic

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New Round Of Threats Against Cartoonist Carlos Latuff

The Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff appeared on a widely-repeated television feature news story on Al Jazeera late last week over the weekend, where he claims to have received multiple death threats due to his work. At apparent issue is a crack the cartoonist made about a boy murdering his Sao Paulo police officer father and the rest of his family as deserving of a medal.

Latuff is no stranger to severe reactions to his very strong statements, those made vocally as well as through his cartoons. His aggressive stands regarding Middle Eastern politics have achieved special resonance after the Arab Spring. He has called for the dismantling of special arms of the Sao Paolo police while under the spotlight the death threats have tossed is way.
 
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Go, Look: The Less Said The Better

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Missed It: Two Awards Winners I Forgot To Mention

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* that lovely veteran of mainstream comics Sal Buscema will receive the HERO Lifetime Achivement Award in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con weekend in September. I think that's nice. I enjoyed a lot of Sal Buscema comics when I was a kid, and like looking at them now, and while he was not one of his generation's foundational talents it seems to me he had an honorable and lengthy career in a realm where both of those things were difficult.

* looking back at my coverage of July's Eisner Awards, it seems like I missed mentioning that Russel Roehling won this year's Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award. I like Russ Manning and I like promising newcomers, so that just has to have been a mistake on my part. Congratulations to Mr. Roehling. One thing I like about the Eisners is this run of other awards that are given out on the same night, although they are pretty rough on the flow of the awards program. The Manning one is the one I like the most, mostly because I'm so old now the thought of having to make distinctions in terms of people being new one year and not the next is completely out of my grasp. They also tend to go to people with craft chops, folks that tend to gravitate to corners of comics that are not my main areas of attention. You can see his stuff here. That's one of his pieces below.

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Go, Look: Performance Enhancement In Baseball

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while the print magazine has run all sorts of comics, this is the first classic-narrative webcomic type offering I've seen on their site
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

At this late date, the articles about the culture legacy of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons are usually deeply depressing and indicative of unchanging, unfortunate positions on a variety of sides. This one is different. Ahmad Akkari, at one time a vociferous critic of those cartoons, has since come around on the right of the newspaper to make and publish them. That's encouraging. As much as I have questioned the wisdom and essential sincerity of the free-speech aspects claimed for that publishing move over the years, there is no doubt that a newspaper should have the right to publish something like that, and no way one should ever argue that an extreme response is justified.
 
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Go, Look: Anya Davidson

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Go, Read: Gerry Conway On His Comments Re: Sexism In Comics

The writer Gerry Conway took to Twitter to clarify his thoughts about a recent panel on which he participated that some thought tremendously disappointing in terms of the collective attitude on display about women and mainstream genre comics. A good place to start to see what his replies and clarifications were like is here. You might also check his twitter feed for fallout from that fallout and various personal interactions.

I think it's good to hash these things out. Like I wrote a few days ago, there is usually some better way in terms of getting through some of these issues than going super knives out on everyone and assuming bad faith when it comes to responses. It's an Internet culture thing. When someone goes "yeah, that was stupid/unfortunate/jerky" about something they said or wrote, you can either work with that or you can snatch it out of their hands and beat them over the head with a "you even admit this is wrong." I get that there's a huge amount of frustration when you have to deal with a lot of bullshit over a long period of time, so I'm very impressed with those that keep a cool head or at least enough of one to push the discussion forward. Issues are rarely arguments to be won, even though that's sometimes the only way we think of them. It'd be great if it were that easy.
 
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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* some of the more recent mini-fundraising efforts by comics people with whom you might be familiar came from David Lasky, Tom Neely and Shannon Smith. I'm sure they could all still use some patronage, although I'm not sure those exact individual deals/sales are all still going on. Couldn't hurt to check, though.

* it also couldn't hurt to head over to Simon Hanselmann's site and see what is left that is being offered art-wise.

* the writer Don McGregor and the artist Trevor Von Eeden are the talents involved in a Sabre-related project seeking crowd-funding; details here.

* PictureBox is still having a sale.

* the Strongman project has a ways to go to meet its goal.

* always a fan of people just asking for travel money. That seems like a thing that's going away.

* finally, I'll mention this here since I haven't yet: the late Jack Kirby's 96th birthday would have been the 28th of this month had he lived this long. I'm hoping people will consider doing something in Kirby's name on that day. I'm donating $9.60 to the Hero Initiative, which is a charity that the Kirby Family seems to endorse. I don't care to make this a thing, or to secure credit for having made a specific suggestion. That feels weird to type, even. I don't care to encourage you to donate in a specific way, through a specific site or with a specific person/organization in mind beyond the memory of Kirby himself -- I just hope you'll maybe consider doing something on that day or in anticipation of that day in memory of that foundational comics-maker. I figure it's all bottom-line good, no matter how you do it.

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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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Go, Look: Ronn Sutton

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you now have the option of attending Camp Sean Gordon Murphy.

image* Daniel Kalder on Pietrolino. Alison Hallett on To Be Or Not To Be. Simon Hanselmann on a few different comics. Paul Tumey on some of the lost comics of Jack Cole. Rob Clough on The End Of The Fucking World. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Time. John Parker on Sex. Levin Hunt on Morning Glories. Andy Oliver on Wu Wei. Evan Henry on Todd, The Ugliest Kid On Earth Vol. 1.

* not comics: I don't pay a whole lot of attention to folks' illustration gigs, but I ended up here looking at Melissa Mendes' art and I enjoyed myself.

* Elvis Mitchell talks to Gary Baseman.

* Frederik Hautain writes about the utility of comics industry journalism.

* not comics: a couple of think-pieces/features on recent journalism-related developments that were recommended to me by a friend can be found here and here. I'm not sure which is more amazing: the relatively rapid readjustment in industry perception concerning the value of some major properties anchored in ink, or the thought that people are still running super-bloated on-line ventures that are hemorrhaging money and seem lacking direction. What a tremendous opportunity was burned through by so many unproductive ventures without a chance to succeed. It's like if 90 percent of reforms in the comic-book industry 1975 to now were variations on Tundra. Things suck on the newsstands, too, in case you were wondering.

* hey, it's Ben Catmull.

* Frank Santoro digs into some back-issues boxes and shares what he finds there.

* I have yet to dig into Hillary Chute digging into the idea of comics as poetry, but don't let my sloth keep you from enjoying yourself if you haven't already discovered the article via one of the 12 billion links out there for it.

* finally, I'm not a big fan of the Huffington Post site, but one way that site orients itself seems to have an advantage for comics. By so nakedly appealing to the desire of those involved to promote themselves, my hunch is that Huffington Post could accommodate a lot of the energy that used to go into prose writers writing newspaper editorials. I know, for instance, when I did that Stan Lee book a decade ago I was encouraged to submit Stan Lee-related prose editorials to places like the LA Times to coincide with a new Marvel movie whenever one came out the next couple of years. As an on-line venture, Huffington Post seems to me a better place to put comics that perform this function. Anyway, here's a feature related to the Ottaviani/Wicks work Primates.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Akimi Yoshida!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Chris Sims!

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August 11, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Steven T. Seagle

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*****

Steven Seagle is the writer behind the new First Second work Genius, which he created in conjunction with the artist and cartoonist Teddy Kristiansen. He has worked in comics for a quarter century, including a fondly-remembered run on the 1990s Vertigo anchor book Sandman Mystery Theatre, and some of that line's more diverse, challenging series: House Of Secrets, The Crusades and American Virgin. With Joe Kelly, Joe Casey and Duncan Rouleau, Seagle has enjoyed enormous success as a writer and producer of television and gaming work via the creator collective Man Of Action, with the high-profile, licensing success Ben 10 an obvious career-changer complete with subsequent producing and creative opportunities of a partnership-with-giant-companies nature. Seagle is also a former educator -- he continues to mentor younger writers on an unofficial basis -- and has written for the stage.

Genius continues Seagle's partnership with Teddy Kristiansen, with whom Seagle collaborated on the stand-alone projects It's A Bird... and The Red Diaryt/The Re[a]d Diary. Genius is a extremely well-paced comic -- it pushes through a lot of plot points where less experienced creators would linger, perhaps for dozens of pages. I caught the writer about a week out from Comic-Con International in what I imagine is a very typical Los Angeles writer/producer moment: taking calls from his car, between one point and another. I enjoyed talking to him. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: I lied to Gina Gagliano at First Second to get this interview. I told her I wanted to ask you about Genius when I really just have like ten questions for that project you did last year, The Re[a]d Diary.

STEVEN T. SEAGLE: [laughs]

SPURGEON: But let's start with a more general question. Considering all that you have going on, how important are comics to you in terms of the progression of your career? How important is it to you that you keep on completing projects in that medium? Is it a personal thing? Does it still have a role in terms of developing other aspects of your career?

STEVEN T. SEAGLE: I think it's super important. As excited as I am by all of the stuff that Man Of Action has going on in animation and TV and film, all of that stuff that takes a lot of our time and a lot of our focus, we're four comic book guys. I think each of us is constantly thinking about how we carve out the time to make sure comics continues to be a part of what we do. For me, I really feel like I wasn't creating enough stuff in comics a couple of years ago. I took Thursdays, and I said, "Every Thursday I am going to go to this Korean spa in LA where I can think." It's like a Starbucks, only I can't understand what anyone is saying since it's all in Korean. "I'm going to work all day long, without my phone and without my e-mail, on comics projects. Make sure that it has a regular, continued pulse in my life." I love the form. Some of my absolutely dearest friends are comic book people, like Teddy. There are people I want to do stuff with. It's just making sure I pay myself with that time to keep doing that stuff.

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SPURGEON: Where you are as a writer right this very moment, what about comics do you enjoy, what about comics makes you dig in?

SEAGLE: There's two things that really appeal to me about comics. One is that as much as possible as I can make it, it's about me and whoever I'm working with. It's just what we want to do. That idea you can still create something -- and thank God for Image Comics. I love my editors. I've loved working with Shelly Bond and Karen Berger was always very kind to me. But I love doing what I want without people telling me no. And if it can boil down to just me and Teddy, or me and Becky Cloonan, somebody that I really love working with, doing what we want with no interference? I'm going to be very happy.

The other thing is that I'm a structuralist. I really like weird forms. Most of what I read is abstract. Most of what I'm into in the arts and entertainment industry is very avant-garde. Comics is a place where I feel I can work that stuff, where I can come up with my own abstract ideas, and find ways to make them palatable to an audience. Re[a]d Diary is a perfect example of that. The form is what was really compelling to me. It didn't stop me from trying to write a good story that by the end of the day you'd enjoy reading once you were done.

SPURGEON: Is it just that you have leeway in comics to attempt such things, that you're at a point in your career where those opportunities are available to you in comics, or is there some formal element or elements in comics that brings these things out of you?

SEAGLE: It starts with the leeway, but I think comics is this very weird medium where it's not only this amalgam of pictures and words -- most of the time -- but there's that control factor of the audience. One of my favorite things to do is to try to create some kind of tension between what you're reading and what you're seeing, and make people grapple with "how do I interpret that?" I think films feel a lot more literal. TV is very literal. Stage you can get away with some of that stuff visually, for sure, but comics it almost seems that's part of the nature of how you read a comic. You can dwell on the image. You can look at it different ways. If you really play with the mechanisms of comics, you can get all kinds of meaning you're not going to get out of any other medium, and I think that's great. It's a lot of fun for me to mess around with.

SPURGEON: The tradition of writers in comics is very pulp-driven, and very celebratory of this kind of natural storytelling process. When I think of just talking to you casually, I know that you have some education as a writer, and that you've worked in a variety of fields. It seems you have a relatively sophisticated take on the potentialities involved with different forms and the structural possibilities in comics. Do you feel like that's an under-appreciated aspect of comics? Do you feel common cause with any other writers, writers you feel might share your interests in how comics work in different ways? Or do you feel like a man on an island surrounded by seas of compulsive storytellers?

SEAGLE: If I'm being totally honest, I feel a little alone in American comics. I definitely think there are guys that get what you could do with comics. The nature of the business does not leave a lot of leeway for pursuing those avenues. My books don't sell incredibly well a lot of the time because they're out there. That's part of the nature of doing the kind of work I like to do, I'm not going to be that favorite comic book writer guy, and you have to be okay with that. You have to be okay with the fact that you're not going to make a kajillion dollars off of your comics. I"m very fortunate in that the Man Of Action side of our business has propped us up in such a way that I can go, "I want to do The Re[a]d Diaries just because I want to." [Spurgeon laughs] I think it's worth doing. And I think people will like it if they can find it, but it's going to be a tough sell to get people to find it.

I think there are writers that understand what comics can do as much as I do, but it's tough to get somebody to let you tell those kinds of stories in the U.S. I think the more European stuff I read the more I see people that know this even better than I do.

SPURGEON: Are there a couple of names that spring to mind, European creators that work the same general territory?

SEAGLE: I've owned Stigmata for a very long time, by [Lorenzo] Mattotti. I had it in Italian... I had no idea what it was about. That's a book that when you actually sit down and read it, you go, "Oh, there's a lot more happening than just the picture or the text or the intersection of those two things." Another book I just read, Sandcastle -- does that strike a bell?

SPURGEON: Not particularly.

SEAGLE: I'm terrible with titles. I have a terrible memory for things like this. I think it was called Sandcastle, and it was such a clear, metaphorical book. The whole time I was reading it I was fighting it, going, "Why am I finishing this book?" It was kind of thin, and was driving me crazy. But, as you get through it, you go, "Oh, this is kind of brilliant in its simplicity." And that's because they played with the form on such a meta-scale. You have to get to the last page for it to add up to something. That book stayed with me -- even though I can't remember the title. [laughter]

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SPURGEON: I don't know how to talk in detail about The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary -- for one thing I think there's a lot of fun in people just finding that book, and digging into it on their own. I hope people will give it a chance. It's a very pretty book, too. One thing that interests me about it is the playfulness of your introduction. I wondered about the process of a book like that, what you learn about comics doing something like that. How you read them, even. What was it like for you coming out the other side of that project?

SEAGLE: For people who don't know, this was a book that Teddy put out in a different language, in a different country. I had the book, I loved the pictures, I thought I knew what it was about, but I couldn't read it because I don't speak Danish, which is the volume I had -- I may have had it in French. I started trying to figure it out like a detective. "Well, I know how to read a comic book. It's image to image. Can I piece together what this story is?" I ended up writing a translation only based on visual cues and keep the word balloons where they were and roughly the same length.

I got it totally wrong. There's so much at work in terms of the interplay that even with my absolute best efforts to try and get it right, I didn't even have the same lead character that Teddy did. [Spurgeon laughs] And yet, I still feel like both books -- the book comes as a flip book, with his version and my version -- I feel like both books work with the same set of sequential images; they're just totally different thematically and character-wise.

To answer your question -- which I promise I'll do eventually -- when I work with young writers, I tend to spend all of my trying to break down the idea that there is one path for them to follow in a story. I think there are an infinite number of ways to tell the same story. We get stuck telling it the same way because of the genre trapping in comic books that we love. We want things to be a certain way because that's the way they've always been. I think that's death for the medium. I think you have to go about it the other direction and say, "How many different ways can I tell this, and of those ways, which one is the most interesting that will still satisfy a readership?"

So Re[a]d Diary wasn't for me, "Oh my gosh, how do I do this?" It's how I think about writing all of the time. It was a fun way to finally directly apply that methodology to a book instead of sitting down and going, "How do I get from plot point A to plot point B."

SPURGEON: Was there an element of it that surprised you in the doing of it, though? You mentioned your plot not matching Teddy's, and that surprised you... I imagine that this was a decent way to hold up a mirror to your own writing, what things you favor, what you might bring to a project that without this sort of exercise you might not even recognize or see. Did you see strengths of yours as a writer, even?

SEAGLE: I discovered a lot of things. When I sat down to start on it, I kind of made up some rules, because I thought I kind of knew what it was about, but I didn't want it to be arbitrary... so I used this weird method to translate the opening caption. I decided that whatever this weird method resulted in, that would be the theme of the book. I didn't even know the theme, necessarily, I had kind of an idea of the milieu of the book, and the character's journey. But I thought I would leave the theme -- which I think should inform the dialogue in comics; it should be about what it's about rather than just what happens or else it's kind of boring. And that I left to the John Cage of it all. This random chance theme that showed up. And then I just stared on page one, and I was like, "I'm just going to plow through this thing." I made it like 16 or 17 pages, and then I hit a letter. Teddy had drawn a letter somebody wrote somebody, and I just got so stumped. [Spurgeon laughs] I was like, "Who the fuck is writing a letter and who are they writing it to?" Because nothing I had come up with fit someone writing a letter all of the sudden. That really just junked me, and I had to go to the end of the book and I was like, "I'll just go to the end and figure out where I'm going to wind up. See how that goes." That worked out pretty well. Then I worked back to this letter. And there was that was damn letter again. I still didn't know what to do with it. I just kind of having to reinvent the process, because Teddy had used a storytelling device I would never use at that point, and I had to figure out how to do something with that. It was great. It made me really struggle with how I was going to tell that story. Because he had already done it. I had to follow this road map somebody gave me, in a foreign language, and make it work.

SPURGEON: Even with completed art I would have to imagine that makes it different to write for it. I know there are comics projects that work with existing, completed art, and that seems like a very different than shaping the art from your words and ideas. It can't be changed.

SEAGLE: When I taught writing classes, I would give people a couple of page of my art, like pages I've done with no word balloons on it. I'll tell them, "Do not go and find this comic book. Just write this dialogue. Look at these pictures and write this dialogue." You get some amazing things. Like usually there's one or two that are way better than what you wrote yourself. [Spurgeon laughs] "God, why didn't I write it this way?" I've always thought about that, and I was so glad Re[a]d Diary was a way to actually try that out. A full-lengthy project. I was just kind of giddy the whole time I was doing it.

SPURGEON: Before Gina gets mad at me for our not talking about your new book -- which I enjoyed very much, by the way -- I wanted to ask you about the creative partnership in question more generally. Your work with Teddy Kristiansen unfolds over tremendous periods of time. It's A Bird... was four years of time in production; this was six, I think. There's a lengthy creative process.

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SEAGLE: Yes. I love Teddy and do not wish to throw him under a bus, most of that length is what it takes him to be as good as he is. I finish a script for him in about a year -- It's A Bird... took about a year and Genius took about a year -- but then he takes several years... I mean, he lives in Denmark, where they've got all these great cafes... delicious tea... and they're all literate, and he has these beautiful daughters and a gorgeous wife... there's a lot capturing his attention other than my meandering little scripts.

Part of it is that and part of it is the care he puts into what he does. With Genius, I got back the first 10 or 12 pages and I thought, "Oh, this is going to be terrible. What is it with this color palette?" When the book was done, I saw what he had done with the color palette. It was clear he had thought through a very meta-design of what color would do in that book. That stuff takes time.

SPURGEON: Is there any anxiety on your end that you don't have ongoing input? There's a compulsion in comics for getting something out and done; there's something very rewarding about turning around a completed project reasonably soon after it starts. It's kind of the flip side of the control issue in comics. You're probably even a different writer than you were when the script was initially completed. [Seagle laughs] Is it tough? Is it hard to tamp down your desire to continue working on something when you're on completely different schedules like that?

SEAGLE: Not really, because I'm not that guy. Mike Allred, whom I've worked with before and love dearly, 10 minutes after he finishes a page he no longer draws like that and can't bear to look at it. I'm a guy where I can look at something I did 25 years ago and I still like it. If I hated it 25 years ago, I hate it now; if I liked it, I like it now. I'm fortunate in that way. I've also learned with Teddy that our books are just going to take however long they take. So I try not to make something so of the moment that it's dated the second you read it. Themes in something like Genius or It's A Bird..., they are broad, universal themes that I think hopefully play now and hopefully play 10 years from now. Also in the digital age of comics, stuff needs to last. It needs to resonate years later because it's never going away. It will always be available. I sell as many of my first book at Comic-Con as I do of whatever I have new that year. If it doesn't hold up, what are you going to do?

SPURGEON: One thing I thought remarkable about Genius -- and I'm not sure how to articulate this without edging up dangerously close to a non-flattering reading of what I'm going to say -- is that there seemed like there was a room for a lot more book here. You could have expanded it. But it seems very measured. It's of an appropriate length, I think it's a smart length. You don't spend too much time in this world, but there's enough time spent here... the pacing of it and scope of it seem judiciously selected.

Your done-in-one books seem to work pretty well as units. Is there an element of winnowing things down that comes naturally to your creative process? How much right brain activity goes into deciding how long you're going to spend on with an individual work?

SEAGLE: [laughs]

SPURGEON: Yeah, I know. [laughs] It just seems that you have so much going on here, that if there were some significant prize money per page involved you'd have no problem doubling the length of the work. But you didn't, and the work is stronger for that.

SEAGLE: You gotta think audience. This is a heady book. I wanted to deal with some major themes. As a reader, I don't want to read 400 pages of that. It would exhaust me. So I appreciate you saying that, because a lot of it was about how quickly I can say these things I want to get through, without belaboring and without boring people. It would be a very boring book at twice the length, I think. As it is, I think it has a lot of giant thoughts that move pretty quickly. You can dwell on them if you want to, you can be done with them if you want to.

Also, with Teddy, it's a few years to get this many pages. We could be in walkers if it were 600 pages. [laughter] I think he'd still do that book, though.

SPURGEON: This is the first book of yours I've read where it really hit me that you have some stage experience. There's a lot here that could have been up on stage. I suppose this one is actually stage-ready, too, with the visual conceit of Albert Einstein's appearances. What I mean is that Genius is driven by dialogue and structured scene to scene. There are progressive tableaux. I also noticed that your stage experience is one of the few things about your career that works itself into your McMillan bio, so I'm guessing it's important. Is there a stage element to this one, do you think?

SEAGLE: Maybe. I have a play that's been touring for about eight years, and while I was writing this book I was on tour with that play. Certainly it could have been stomping around in my subconscious pretty easily. I'm not positive if that's what I'm thinking. I tend to think of comics solely in terms of comic books. Pretty much where my mind sits is "What haven't I seen Teddy draw before?" and "How could I throw Teddy in front of an oncoming train, of something impossible to draw?" Those are the things that get me excited about comics. I worked with Kelley Jones, and I was like, "Kelley, what do you want to draw?" He said, "Horses." So I made up Crusades so there would be something with horses in it and Kelley could draw what he wanted. With Teddy I was like, "I want to give Teddy something completely non-literal that I don't even known how to describe. And then make him struggle with how to draw that." And there's a scene which is that scene.

SPURGEON: Yeah.

SEAGLE: It's definitely from a structuralist's point of view, and cold and clinical on one hand, but it's kind of a beautiful moment in that it's me just going, "I'm working with an artist. Let's let an artist do some art and tell the story completely visually where I don't even know how to describe what I'm looking for." That's usually how I'm thinking as opposed to, "I hope this can turn into a stage show. Or a TV show." Or whatever.

SPURGEON: It's more that I wondered after the nature of dialogue as the way in which the story is told; the characters continually run into each other and clash through language. That seems stage-like. So I wondered if there was any of that here, that theater conception of putting two characters alone in a room and having them talk. It didn't seem like a pitch! [laughter]

SEAGLE: My very first comic had no captions at all. It was just dialogue. After that there was a book I did called The Amazon with Tim Sale that had two different conflicting captions that also battled with the dialogue. I wrote some X-Men comics where I wrote one thing and somebody else came in in the middle of the night and added captions, things I didn't even write.

SPURGEON: Oh my goodness.

SEAGLE: Everything's a crutch. If you go, "I'm going to do an all-dialogue book," certain crutches show up because you have to have dialogue move the story along. The same thing is true of captions. I was feeling that captions are lazy for me. I just wanted to try and move them out as much as possible. I didn't completely get rid of them, but they were turned down to be sure.

SPURGEON: In terms of structure of a book like Genius, how much of that is communicated to Teddy by you, and how much of that comes from Teddy more directly? Even the grid, the basic grid that you use. As I recall your pages are mostly three-tiered throughout, but it varies greatly in terms of how they're presented. Is that your decision or his decision?

SEAGLE: The older I get the more I am trying not to tell artists how to do design. Sometimes you create a story where the structure of the panels is critical to the way the story unfolds, you're mirroring some kind of theme or metaphor with the visual imagery of it. But in general what I try to do is go, "Here's what I need to have happen on this page. Here's the dialogue I'm proposing to you, although it may change by the time we get done." I try to do it in terms of events. There are this many events. Tell that however you want to. If you can tell it in one panel, have at it. If you need 15, I trust you. We still do layouts. Teddy will send me layouts and I'll be like, "Well... I don't think this is clear." Or "I was hoping for more of a block." But I"m trying to let people do what they're good at, and I'm working with good people." So I don't know that I need to be a control freak all of the time. If I'm working with somebody new, then yeah, I might be a lot more measured in what I give them. But in general I say, "Here's what's in my head, show me what's in your head and let's come up with the best synthesis of those two things we can."

SPURGEON: How much of the thematic work is designed by you? When I say thematic work, I think Genius is rich that way, and you're going to have a lot of discussions in a lot of the interviews you'll be doing about how those ideas are played out. But for example the idea of intelligence and perception, and the way the different characters embody variations on intelligence and perception. Is that something you work on ahead of time or is that something that reveals itself to you through the story?

SEAGLE: Teddy wants a full script. So there's not a lot of random discovery in a book I do with Teddy generally. The next book we're doing together is batshit crazy that way. [laughter] But he likes information. The trick is... all of that layering is already there, so the trick is not to suffocate him with it. He's aware of what I'm going for. The dialogue is pretty much there, although I rewrite the dialogue when I get finished art because you get rid of whatever you can. I'm pretty intentional about things. I don't want to spend a year on a book where I don't have an idea why someone would want to read a book and what they would get out of it. Even though that's now mine to control.

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SPURGEON: This is a really basic question, but it's one about which I'm curious: what is the basis of your sympathy for the lead? Is there sympathy for the lead and his situation? I think we can assume some things, because there are universal themes involved, but what is your particular "in" with this guy? Not just the personal-anecdote nature of it, because you've talked about that as well, that this is based on a family anecdote, but the situation -- what is appealing to you about the situation? What does your sympathy bubble up in terms of what the lead is facing? It's not your life, Steven. [laughs]

SEAGLE: It's everyone's life. Publish or perish is a bigger metaphor. My wife is a college teacher. She's at a community college in California that doesn't have that. I used to teach at the four-year level. And if you wanted tenure, you had to publish articles. These articles had nothing to do with teaching students. Which is kind of the job of a teacher. But it was somehow more important that you have these national periodicals regurgitating this stuff that you laid out that's of marginal importance, if that, at least in the discipline I was in. I'm sure there are theoretical journals about chemistry and stuff that really matter. My stuff, it was interesting, but it didn't matter. So part of it is that. But come on, if there was a Wizard Magazine right now, I wouldn't even make the top 500 writers. [laughter] This is a career where there's no cause celebre unless you're the hot young ticket. I wasn't hot young ticket when I was young and hot. I'm neither of those things now, and I'm still not that guy. I think I relate to him that way. But as much as I kick that around in the book, you're right. My life is great. I have nothing to bitch about. If I need to be popular, that's my own shortcoming. That's not exactly what he's getting at, Ted in the book, but we're getting at something similar. What actually matters to you as a person. Is it these giant things. This culture is so fucking star obsessed I might just throw up. You've got to be American Idol; you can't just be a good singer anymore.

SPURGEON: There is a social critique here, and maybe we can focus that on the comics world. As you mentioned, you've been around for 25 years now. I always thought that comics did a pretty good job relative to other fields in terms of valuing artists through the course of their life. Kim Deitch put out a book the week Genius came out. He's got to be 70 now. He has a place to publish. We do a pretty good job relative to other art forms. We're not totally youth obsessed. We don't have too many Biebers running around in comics. [Seagle laughs] You now have a way where you've removed yourself from those pressures in comics... is there anything you're noticed about the way comics works the last 25 years? Are we getting closer to that pernicious element of society that's youth- and star-obsessed? Are we doing okay, Steven?

SEAGLE: We're doing fine. [laughs] My critique is about my own misinterpretation of things more than the industry. I think the industry is what it is. It has some hideous sides which are that it's an art form that is highly commercialized -- the work that people would do if they weren't obsessed with the paycheck and they didn't have to be concerned with the monthly numbers, there are so many brilliant people that I'd love to see cut loose. When they do, I love to see it. Not everything has to be a huge success, but to see where there head actually is, I think that's cool. The young crop right now -- to talk like an old man saying "you kids get out of my yard" -- I'm in touch with a lot of those people and I like a lot of their work. They're talking about their next book deal, and "My advance came through." I hope they know how lucky they are that that's the vocabulary they're using to describe their careers at this point, when they're like 21 years old. Because I think the talent is as good as it has ever been. They've benefited from a lot of people struggling -- and not even me, I'm in now way referring to myself here -- but a lot of the independent greats of the last couple of decades who made this possible, this kind of golden era of book deals. Genius is coming out from First Second, which is a MacMillan company. And it's been amazing to me to watch how they do business. Book publishers do it very differently than comics publisher, and it's been a real eye-opener for me. It's great. If that's your first job as a cartoonist, with a company like that? First Second publsihes a lot of new people. They're in for a great lifetime if that continues.

SPURGEON: If there's a detail that pops into your head that underlines what's different about this experience as opposed to your previous experiences?

SEAGLE: The biggest thing is that I've had this book since December. The idea that a book publisher prints this book seven months before it comes out. They send it out to reviewers for a few months. I have copies I can show people. Yesterday this book came out. I've waited so long for this book anyway, but then I had it for half a year where I couldn't give it to anyone or show it anybody, per se. It's smart, so I see why they did it. And it's definitely built some momentum pre-release. But it's weird. I've done books through Image where I'm like, "The files went in yesterday; we'll see it in two weeks!"

SPURGEON: The change that the lead character undergoes in Genius... I found it a little confusing. I don't know if it's intentional ambiguity on your part or not. He makes a decision near the end to kind of seek a different life path. While that solves his professional problem, and there's an idea that he is going to pay attention to the smaller life events that are more that he'd been missing out on because of his attitude towards work and his obsessions. But do you think it's going to be easy for this guy now? [Seagle laughs] Do things get better for his having made that decision. Or did you want some doubt there, that you can make a choice like he has but... it might be tougher than just making that choice.

SEAGLE: I don't want to answer that question in print. I feel like there's something in the book that speaks to that, although maybe it's executed in a way that' it's not there. [laughter] We'll talk about instead my wife's grandfather, who knew one of the great secrets of the 20th Century. Max. There's a piece that relates to this in the story in that I tried to pry this secret out of Max before he died for two solid weeks. He would not budge. He was a government man, he had taken an oath. The secret involved government secrets and he was not going to part with them. After he died, it suddenly dawned on me that that might have been the cover story. That knowing what he knew might have been troubling to him. To him not knowing might seem better than passing on what he knew. So in Genius, Ted's turn is part knowing that the small things in life that he's missing, but part of it is the other half. Should you know big things or not. There's a difference between knowing something and telling something. When you get to that order of magnitude, I think it's profound, and I was trying to play with that push and pull.

imageSPURGEON: I may shove this back earlier in the interview -- you mentioned in another interview that you were surprised that there wasn't interest in you and Teddy doing a follow-up work to It's A Bird... and that it was this lack of interest that set you on the odyssey where you ended up at First Second. Is there a reason you can see now that book didn't end up at Vertigo, or that you more generally didn't end up doing more single-volume works with them? That book was well-received and sold and people still remember it -- people don't remember all the books, and that one's in our memories. Did that company change?

SEAGLE: Listen, part of it was us. Part of it was how long it took us to get that book done. I fully own that part and Teddy owns that part. But at some point I was like, "Well, okay, it took us a long time to get through it, but the book was pretty good when we got done. People at DC told me it was their favorite thing they had published since they started working there. Some of that will create a momentum even if the process of getting the book done on time was not good." And it just never did. Eventually I went to Shelly and said, "Hey! Something more for me and Teddy?" And she was like, "I don't... think we can."

SPURGEON: Hm.

SEAGLE: I think the difficulty of getting that book done poisoned the well a bit. Now if I were in charge, at some point I'd go, "But that was a good book. We'll just know next time not to expect it any time soon." But that was not the climate there for us.

SPURGEON: What is the extent of your teaching, Steven? I know that you said you taught for a while in four-year universities, but do you still teach? You've talked about working with younger writers... is there some sort of mentoring program I don't know about?

SEAGLE: [laughs]

SPURGEON: Is there a group of kids coming over to your living room and drinking beers with you? What's going on, Steven?

SEAGLE: There actually is, in a way. I love teaching. If entertainment options completely fall apart as they tend to as you get older, I will go back to teaching and not have a moment's doubt or regrets about it. I used to teach college at Ball State University. I taught at Pasadena City College here in LA. I taught at Mt. San Antonio College where my wife still teaches a class every now and then. But writing took over my life. I couldn't teach anymore. So the last two years I've tried to mentor some younger writers. I mentor some young people from afar. Others come to my writing group every week. It's not a writer's group of "Hey, read me your stuff and I'll read you mine." It's really about creating a structured writing day where people will write all day and see that other people are writing all day. Occasionally I'll do boot camps for new writers where we spend a lot of time looking at the possibilities of writing... the deceptive complexity of form. One of the favorite things I do is there's a Gilbert Hernandez page with no word balloons on it. I Xerox it, cut it apart, and I show that you can tell the story by putting those panels in any order. You can tell it. Somebody can walk through those panels and tell you that story. Story is innate. We're a culture that tells stories and we've always been that way. The idea that order is pre-determined is bullshit. You'll tell me that story no matter what order I put those panels in. Rarely has anyone put those panels in the "right" order, the order that Gilbert had them in initially. I love stuff like that. You gotta pass along what you know. People helped me when I was trying to figure it out, I have to help others figure it out. Hopefully they'll do the same for whoever's next.

SPURGEON: You're definitely at a point where you can have a sense of your career as a whole -- you're 25 years in, you have 10, 25, 40 years left. But you're far enough along that you might have a sense of it. Do you think in terms of what you want to do with the time you have left, however much time that is, or is it just going to the next project?

SEAGLE: I think about it in the wrong way, which is the reason my audience doesn't grow logarithmically like the Mark Millars of the world is that every time I finish a project, when I start the next one, I go, "How do I alienate everybody that liked that last one?" [Spurgeon laughs] Not in a mean way! It's a constant merry-go-round of weird. People will like one of my books and then pick up another and I'll say, "That is not going to be anything like the one you liked. I apologize." Some people like that, and some people are confused by that.

SPURGEON: Now is that just where your interests lie? Or is this self-sabotage?

SEAGLE: I'm not the self-destructive Man Of Action. If you're going to stay fresh as an -- in quotes -- "artist," you have to do stuff that's interesting to you. It'd be very easy to crank out more books that are exactly like It's A Bird.... It's way more interesting to go, "Could I do a book that would appeal to people who like that book that's not really like that book?" That's more how I think about it. Sometimes you do, and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you make something totally unexpected. I don't want to do the same thing again. After you've solved all the problems of a story once, there's little rewarding in doing it again.

That's kind of what's wrong with monthly comics right now, and why I wouldn't remotely entertain doing one. They're really looking for you to tell the same story over and over again, but with different characters in it. Who would want to do that? There are people, but I am not that guy.

SPURGEON: Are there connections in your work that you see that others might not? Is there a consistency to your body of work, or is it really the those differences that drive you? You followed up It's A Bird... with American Virgin, maybe. That was very different. You do have strong breaks. Do you have a core readership that follows you that sees connection more casual readers might not?

SEAGLE: I think all of my book are about the exact same thing. I've never said what that same thing is. I'm surprised no one else has said it. Maybe it's so under the surface that it's not apparent. I feel like all of my protagonists have the exact same thing in common, which is personal to me. But it doesn't come up. People don't even think my protagonists are the same. So I guess I'll keep doing it for 25 more years. Maybe somebody will notice. [Spurgeon laughs] I did a thing in Sandman Mystery Theatre. I think it was issue #50. I took a piece of every single dream that had been in the comic so far and strung that into a new narrative. I was like, "People are going to notice this. That's a piece of every dream that's been in the book so far." Not a single person noticed. Including Guy Davis, who I love as much as any artist on earth. He didn't even notice until I told him. So that's how I work. I spend all of my time working on stuff that people don't even notice.

SPURGEON: I want to turn that into an indictment on your behalf, but do you ever think we don't bring a sophistication to reading comics? Does the readership lack the ability to process this kind of thing?

SEAGLE: No, no, no, no, no. There's a very sophisticated readership. I'm not everybody's cup of tea. I have people come up at cons that absolutely get stuff the way I'm hoping will get it. I know the work works for some people that way. But then I also have people that come up and say, "Your Superman book It's A Bird... was stupid. Why didn't you want to write Superman?" They fixate on a detail that is to my mind not even central to that story, but that's what they took away from the work. But they bought the work and read the work and that's what it meant to them. I have to own that part, too.

SPURGEON: We're talking about people walking up to you, and you and I are talking on the eve of San Diego Con. You mentioned something in an interview once where you said that the ability to talk and get along with people was a central writer's skill -- not a professional skill, but a writer's skill. Is that a fair assessment as to what you were talking about? Because it does seem like those interpersonal skills do separate some artists and creators from others. Do you value your ability to negotiate these bizarre waters you find yourself in sometimes?

SEAGLE: Absolutely. I tell comics writers, I tell TV writers that I work with, I tell new people... I have a hierarchy. When people are looking for who they want to work with in entertainment industry jobs, I feel like they look for, "Do I like you? Do I want to spend a day around you? Are you making my job easier?" Somewhere around four or five they go, "Do you have any talent?" Somewhere lower than that is "Is your talent high-level?" [Spurgeon laughs]

I think creative people, and I'm one of them, we all want to go, "It's our talent. How much better than the next creator am I, and if I'm a lot better, that's going to set me apart." That's so not how it goes down. It's "Do I like you? Can I stand being around you? Will you make my world function?" And then, "Are you good at what we do?" also. At the very least those things are equal. But from what I see, the kind of social strata part matters more initially. If it turns out you're brilliant it's like, "Oh. Hallelujah. Home run." They don't start with "Are you brilliant?"

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SPURGEON: I had one question about Genius that I failed to get to. One thing I liked about it on a re-read is that there is a sexual through-line that isn't overplayed. There's the son's budding sexuality, and there's the lead character's impotence. Is it difficult to bring in the sexual element to a work and not have it dominate a book? [Seagle laughs] We don't have a big history of treatment of those issues in comics work, and almost none in terms of it being there as a secondary element. Even for comics to be read by adults. Is that difficult for you, to write using those themes and to work with their more delicate aspects?

SEAGLE: I hope I did a good job with that. I appreciate you saying so. It's one of the things you worry about. I wanted the difference between the teenaged thought center and the adult thought center, and that to me is one way to get at that. I like the interplay. I had a lot of dads that read the book go, "Oh, you had that conversation with your son." And I was like, "I don't have a son. So no." But that dialogue must have worked then, to seem genuine. Sex... I hate that America is so puritanical about sexuality and nudity. Force feed us violence until we explode but let's pretend we don't have bodies and we don't do anything with those bodies. If we do something with them, it had to be a caricature of a body that looks like it was rendered by a computer... it's so screwed up in my mind. I want real human beings that have conversations about their jobs and sex and dinner and in-laws. I want to run the gamut of what people talk about and have them sound like people actually sound.

*****

* Genius, Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen, First Second, softcover, 9781596432635, July 2013, $17.99.

*****

* the cover to the latest book
* covers to The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary
* from The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary
* page with color scheme front and center
* our hero
* from It's A Bird...
* matter-of-fact treatment of sexual issues
* one of the man uses of Einstein imagery related to the new work [below]

*****

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*****
*****
 
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OTBP: Bezoar

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Happy 49th Birthday, Jim Lee!

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FFF Results Post #346 -- Special Deliveries

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Favorite Specifically Identifiable By Its Own Name Combat Moves From The Comics." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Fastball Special.
2. The Iron Fist.
3. Black Bolt's master blow.
4. Goku's spirit bomb.
5. Lady Shiva's leopard blow.

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. The Twisker-Sock (Popeye)
2. The Goodnight Irene Punch (Mammy Yokum)
3. Snicker-snak (Little Boy Blue--Fables)
4. Hit 'em low Olive Oil (Daredevil) (Hey, it worked once)
5. The Double Whammy (Evil Eye Fleegle)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Twisker Punch (Popeye)
2. Batusi (Okay, it was on the show, but he still decked two of King Tut's men while dancing)
3. Kick In The Balls (Cheech Wizard)
4. Bullets & Bracelets (Wonder Woman)
5. CLOBBERIN' TIME!!!

*****

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Jeff Parker

1. Tarzan's Full Nelson
2: Hulk's shock-wave clap
3: Magnus' Transistor-Chop
4: Superman's finger flick
5: Captain Easy's Spank

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Strontium Dog's Electronux
2. Slaine's Warp Spasm
3. Dredd's Heat Seeker
4. Modesty Blaise's Kongo
5. Dad Dare's Paralysing Pistol

(...justifying employment of weapons as combat maneuvers.)

*****

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Mike Baehr

1. Shock Wave Technique
2. Dual-Weapon, Like, Bash 'n Slash Technique
3. Hosk Emit Abusion
4. Battle Warping
5. Word Pressure Magic

All from Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest.

*****

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Ben Z.

1. Nova flame (Johnny Storm)
2. Knife-to-the-eye (Frankie)
3. Spin Dash (Sonic the Hedgehog)
4. Maneuver Seven (Young Justice. It's just a renamed fastball special.)
5. Big stupid hand (Green Lantern)

*****

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Rodrigo Baeza

1. LICKETY-WHOP!
2. Snoopy's pounce
3. Herbie Popnecker's Lollipop Bop
4. "Mandrake gestures hypnotically"
5. "Burn."

*****

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Don MacPherson

1. Darkseid's Omega Beams
2. Human Torch's Nova Blast
3. Dr. Strange's Crimson Bands of Cytorrak
4. The Forever People's Infinity Man summoning/merging
5. Shouting "Shazam!" to get the magic lightning to zap an opponent.

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Darkseid's Omega Effect
2. Black Widow's Widow's Bite
3. Doctor Strange's Winds of the Watoomb
4. Android Captain Marvel's "Split!" attack
5. Sailor Venus' Love Me Chain

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon (Makankosappo).
2. Canary Cry.
3. Rock Lee's Front Lotus (Omote Renge).
4. Thor's God Blast.
5. Erza Scarlett's Requip: The Knight.

*****
*****
 
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August 10, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


March Profiled


Commercial For Johnny Ryan At Altamont Apparel


How Chris Pitzer Reacts To Book Pitches


Art Spiegelman Interviews Al Hirschfeld
via MIke Lynch


The View From Here With Lynda Barry
via Mike Lynch


Something For Nothing
another from Mike Lynch; I just steal everything from Mike Lynch now
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 3 to August 9, 2013:

1. DC punts on an effective handling of their 3-D covers offer for a forthcoming "Villains Month" line-wide promotion, not only angering retailers but servicing the corner of the retail market that is probably not the most fruitful soil for long-term growth.

2. Remaining charges dropped against the Singaporean cartoonist Leslie Chew.

3. Summary judgment upheld in Marvel's ongoing legal tussle with the Kirby family.

Winners Of The Week
Fans of Achewood. It's been a while.

Losers Of The Week
I think you have to say the Kirby Family. Jurisdictional issues aside, it looks like the construction of how they got to work-for-hire for what Jack Kirby did for Marvel has some heft to it that can travel, as opposed to it being a collection of hunches emanating from one judge. The decisions also underlined the notion the growth in our understanding of how creators operated in those days really doesn't have any influence on the legal outcome.

Quote Of The Week
"So, this means that there are retailers out there that have been happily and aggressively promoting this stunt, racking up big preorders, selling full sets in advance of shipment, in some cases even collecting money from consumers, all the while DCE didn’t officially or formally tell the retail community that these could be allocated. Whoops!" -- Brian Hibbs

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Kree/Skrull War Splash Pages

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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 Edinburgh, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 56th Birthday, Scott Bukatman!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Eddie Campbell!

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August 9, 2013


Go, Read: First Achewood Strip In Quite Some Time

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Steve Breen's Bob Filner Cartoon Defended By ADL

It's not a big story, but it's kind of an interesting side note: the regional Anti-Defamation League director whose area includes San Diego takes a look at charges of anti-Semitism in a Steve Breen cartoon and gives the cartoon a pass. Apparently the criticism came about during a time of sensitivity about criticisms of Mayor Bob Filner due to his Jewish background. I hadn't thought about how the nature of depictions of an embattled politician might change according to that specific act of public interest, in both positive and negative ways, but it makes total sense that it would.
 
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Go, Look: Katusha Tumblr

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Go, Read: Charles Hatfield On Most Recent Kirby/Marvel Decision

Here. Charles Hatfield is a comics scholar whose best known work, Hand Of Fire, is about Jack Kirby and his creative contributions. I think Hatfield is onto something in that whatever laws favor Marvel it's still just sort of wrong to categorize that work as work for hire. It's one of those things that can be done but shouldn't be done. A better way should have been found, and was always possible. I don't really think that justice is done when the court decisions go the way I'd prefer them to go, either. The whole thing seems sad. It seems doubly sad to me now that Disney is involved in that I think Disney -- despite some dire, well-documented business practices -- has done an okay job with throwing the spotlight on some of the key talents over the years and could do a job with the Kirby legacy that would enhance their business rather than take away from it. In other words, I think it's even in their interest that a better way be found.
 
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Go, Look: Love For 1970s Wolverine

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Stan Lynde, 1931-2013

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Stan Lynde, the iconoclastic western cartoonist behind the long-running comic strip Rick O'Shay, died on August 6 in a hospital in Helena, Montana. The cause of death was cancer.

Lynde was born to a sheep ranching family in Montana in 1931 -- the work available to Lynde's father at the height of the Great Depression. They lived on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation. His mother was an artist, and encouraged him to draw -- to keep him occupied and out of trouble, according to family legend. Lynde made his first comics for the high school paper. He had learned that people made a living doing newspaper cartoons, which he would later and in multiple interviews call a revelation, and had thereafter set his sights on landing that gig himself when he got older. He even thought he might write about the cowboys and other figures he met through his father. Among those cartoonists he admired were Al Capp, Milton Caniff and Fred Harman; he considered Hal Foster an exemplar.

Lynde attended Montana State University in the late 1940s, where he studied art and journalism. He joined the US Navy in 1951. While in the Navy, Lynde drew a recurring feature, Ty Foon, for his base's newspaper.

Lynde left the Navy in 1955. He did some ranching and worked for a time in journalism in Colorado Springs. He moved to New York approximately a year later. He found work at the Wall Street Journal and attended art classes. In 1958 he sold Rick O'Shay to the Tribune-News Syndicate.

imageRick O'Shay was a sometimes light-hearted, sometimes more serious western set in the town of Conniption. It enjoyed a unique creative pedigree. Rick O'Shay (sound it out) initially started as a humor strip, with a greater tie-in to the Hollywood version of the Old West with which people were familiar in movie theaters and on TV. It was only over time that Lynde's comic became more a standard continuity feature. In addition to its sunny-faced protagonist lead of the same name, Lynde introduced a number of memorable, colorfully named supporting characters such as Mort Gage (a banker) and Ouyat Burp. "I like puns," he would later say. Lynde's most memorable character may have been the gunslinger sporting the wonderful appellation of "Hipshot Percussion." The strip was a solid performer, and Lynde moved back to Montana in the early 1960s when the strip hit the 100-paper mark. The feature's bigger clients included the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Inquirer. It would stay around that client level for much of its run.

"I grew up reading the comics pages as a kid, and Rick O'Shay ran in the Houston Post," the writer Robert Boyd told CR. "I was a devoted reader. When I started reading it, I was too young to realize that almost all the characters' names were puns. I was reading it in the early '70s, by which time it had morphed into an almost totally straight continuity strip. I had no idea about its humorous beginnings. Has there ever been any other strip that made this transition? It would be like BC gradually changing from a gag strip to a serious depiction of paleolithic life."

Stan Lynde would work on the strip until 1977, when differences with his syndicate forced him to leave the feature he created. It lasted only a couple more years without him, coming to an end in 1981. Lynde's strip not only engaged first comedy and then more forward dramatic narrative, it was frequently contemplative about nature and man and various values Lynde ascribed to the old West. "I think being able to express myself and express ideas and to connect with people through the western stories were important," he told an NBC news affiliate in November 2012. "I have a strong feeling about our western history. I think the Western and the values of the west are American values and what makes our country unique."

In 1979 Lynde created a second western comic strip, Latigo, for Field Newspaper Syndicate, which ran until 1983. The artist and writer Buzz Dixon, a tremendous fan of Rick O'Shay, also enjoyed the later work but recognized that it had even less of a chance in the modern marketplace. "One of the key distinctions between Rick O'Shay and Latigo, and one that perhaps explained the latter's failure to gain the same traction Rick enjoyed, was that Rick O'Shay was first cousins with Gunsmoke and The Rifleman and other family-/community-oriented TV Westerns of the 1950s while Latigo was more akin to A Man Called Gannon," Dixon wrote at his site in a tribute to the late cartoonist.

imageLynde worked a variety of comics, illustration and prose gigs over the last three quarter century. After Latigo faded, Lynde made a weekly panel called Grass Roots which ran in the mid-1980s and was revived in 1998. His later work also included a revival episode of Rick O'Shay called Rick O'Shay And Hipshot: The Price Of Fear, comics for Fantomen in Sweden including Chief Sly Fox and Rovar Bob. In recent years Lynde set up shop in Helena where his Cottonwood Publishing put out on the market eight different prose novels, including seven in the Merlin Fanshaw series. He maintained an author's blog here. In recent months he had made local news for a plan made public that he and his wife were to relocate to Ecuador. They returned this Spring when Lynde became sick.

Boyd was also a fan of how Lynde saw to his own comic-strip legacy. "What's great about Lynde is that after he left the strip and retired to a ranch in Montana, he started publishing book collections of the strip and new material. Rick O'Shay, Hipshot, and Me: A Memoir by Stan Lynde is a key text -- it really lead me to rediscover the strip and see how it evolved. I've reread that book many times -- it's so pleasurable. The book is itself very reminiscent of 10 Ever-Lovin Blue-eyed Years With Pogo, which mixed autobiographical sketches with comics." Boyd noted that among his Cottonwood Graphics effort was a two-issue Rick O'Shay color comic series, The Price of Fame.

Lynde won the Western Writers of America's 2009 SPUR Award for the original audio book of the novel Vendetta Canyon, which he later called the award he was most proud of.

Lynde donated some of his original art and even his well-known cowboy hat to the Montana Historical Society before departing for Ecuador. Some of Lynde's original were destroyed in a fire.

Stan Lynde was 81 years old. He is survived by his wife, Lynda, their eight children, and two sisters. A memorial service is planned for September 6 in Helena. He is to be buried in Billings.

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Go, Look: As The Crow Flies

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* I totally missed that that very nice man and longtime Cartoon Books color artist Steve Hamaker has launched an on-line serial.

* Paul B. Rainey is ending the on-line publication of his strip Thunder Brother: Soap Division, but will keep the print version going. His reason? He prefers the interaction he's enjoyed with the print readers.

* Iestyn Pettigrew wrote in to mention that proceeds from this go to Bill Mantlo's care. It's a harrowing story, and one that should be on the mind of every single creative person that struggle with finding affordable healthcare.

* folks keep sending me this link.

* problems from the user end with Kodansha's new e-book program.

* finally, the very good Dungeon Quest work is now being made available through the comiXology service. I like that comic quite a bit. It's funny and weird.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: The World's Most Criminal Defense Attorney

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Craig Fischer on Paul Joins The Scouts. Richard Bruton on Gum Girl Vol. 4. Joe Gordon on Dept Of Monsterology #1. Colm Creamer on Batman, Incorporated #13. Kelly Thompson on Trillium #1 and Scratch9: Cat Tails #1. Paul O'Brien on X-Men: Legacy #13-14. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on various comics. Brian Gardes on an older effort by Warren Ellis. Grant Goggans on various Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. Rob Clough on Tales Designed To Thrizzle. Noah Berlatsky on The Death-Ray, mostly. Sean Gaffney on Last Of The Mohicans.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco takes his own look at the state of DC Comics.

* a lot of folks were upset enough about this panel report to tweet about it a bunch, and there were a few blog posts in response. While it seemed like there were unfortunate statements being made, or rather statements with unfortunate implications, it didn't seem like core-of-being stuff. As was the case with Before Watchmen, I think there's a real tendency in comics to super-excoriate those that say or do things with which we strongly disagree, right down to a "I just don't like that guy" level. People are complicated. As much as Mark Millar took it on the chin the last couple of days -- and deservedly so -- for his statements about rape in the context of a growing body of work that uses certain plot points specifically for their upsetting nature, we can recall he helped track down and stop a real-life harasser of female comics professionals not too long ago.

* not comics: Matt Bors gets a request to clean up some links.

* Sean T. Collins profiles Matt Furie.

* it still seems to me that in many ways, John Buscema was the most talented natural comics illustrator to ever work at Marvel Comics, and they had both Jack Kirby and Joe Maneely working there. I think Kirby's the greater artist and accomplished far more, but in terms of just natural talent, the ability to turn around high-quality drawings on a regular basis, Buscema probably still has my vote.

* Tony Moore says he's sorry.

* finally, Len Wein reveals a bit more as to why he was cut a check for that The Wolverine movie.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Rick Leonardi!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Posy Simmonds!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Bob McLeod!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Josh Neufeld!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Ted Stearn!

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August 8, 2013


Go, Look: Ghost Grunt

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Pro-Marvel Summary Judgment Vacated Against Neal And Lisa Kirby; Upheld Against Barbara And Susan

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According to the court document someone just shot me in PDF form, Marvel seems to have won the significant part of the recent round of legal maneuvering with the family of cartooning legend Jack Kirby. While the summary judgment against Neal and Lisa Kirby was terminated on grounds of jurisdiction, the basic argument against the family was upheld in terms of Barbara and Susan when it came to nailing down whether or not the work Kirby did for Marvel back in the 1960s constituted work for hire. If I'm reading the basic logic correctly and these documents are on the up and up, it seems because these works were work for hire as the case by Marvel asserts, there were no copyrights to be assigned that can no be reclaimed.

There will be much better and more thorough analyses for sure, but the basic principles applied seem to be something called instance and expense. The decision establishes Kirby in the court's mind as a independent contractor whose main work in this time period, including the work in question, is intended for Marvel based on their assignments and even their broader expectations for what he would be doing there; the pencils and character designs are also a contributing work to an overall, completed product. They also suggest that historical testimony offered by Mark Evanier and John Morrow does not provide counter-evidence as to how Marvel might have seen or even approached that relationship because it is not based on direct evidence or testimony as to how that company worked but rather readings and interpretations of others' accounts.
 
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Go, Look: Nina Bunjevac's Etsy Store

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Not Comics: Tickets Go On Sale For Fun Home: The Musical

Here. Hey, I hope it's good. The cartoonist Alison Bechdel certainly has a passion for the theater.
 
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Go, Look: Dan Barry's Big Town

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DC Announces Allocation Of 3D Covers At Last Possible Minute Heading Into A Month-Long Promotion...

... and a bunch of other words I'm not all the way sure I know how they go together. Let me try, though.

imageSo between this article by Kiel Phegley and this rant from retailer/advocate Brian Hibbs, what I've pieced together is that DC has announced that they can't match orders on all of the 3D-cover editions of books from their "Villains Month" promotion. The reason they give is that the 3-D covers result in enough of a delay that they are not able to react to fulfill orders even though they printed an extra ton of this stuff. As a result, they are going to "allocate" what they have based on an unclear set of standards that will likely short a bunch of people, if not all of the Direct Market-served hobby and comics shops, in ways that will make for some pretty panicked decision-making when the books finally show up. Further, Hibbs maintains that whatever portion of that hassle involves self-inflicted wounds is merely retailers acting as they've been trained to act, a kind of late-ordering habit from which they were not warned away and for which they have been rewarded several times. As far as the impact within the shops, this means that most retailers have already and in good faith worked with at least some of their customers in terms of having them anticipate, order or perhaps even advance-buy these books, and they stand a very good chance of not even getting those books now, let alone the ones that a more casual fan might expect them to have. Allocations being what they are, these shops are at an even greater risk of disappointing people that invested or at least anticipate certain permutations of this event -- getting all the Batman-related 3D covers, say, or getting a complete run. All of this puts the retailer in a bind, a bind that will not be shared by the publisher because the whole thing makes the 3D covers and perhaps even the covers that will be subbed for them hotter, more collectible commodities.

Hm.

You know, comics does this every so often. There's this way of spinning incompetence -- or even understandable mistakes -- as helpless and unfortunate circumstances due to the powerful force of the fundamental awesomeness of some item or event. "Don't look at the fact that we didn't prepare well enough to handle paying customers: this show's super-popularity is crushing us." That kind of thing. In this case, it sounds like there's going to be some doubt in the retailing community that this was unavoidable, due to the lateness of word being sent out, and rumors that what's really at issue is the high cost of the 3D cover process. I doubt that there's going to be serious blowback, though, particularly if there end up being short-term gains. I think Hibbs has an interesting take on it in that something like this can almost be seen as a natural outcome of the messed-up world that is selling comics based on dubious, manufactured collectible value. The idea there is that as long as there's money to be made short-term, or maybe even just the "excitement" of "how darn popular this item/event is" to be enjoyed, or in some cases maybe even just a promise of a quick return to normal, it honestly doesn't matter if things are screwed up for a month except, maybe, for one concern: it's yet another failed opportunity to improve on lasting, sustainable relationships with readers based in great part on providing them with entertainment to be consumed in a reliable, professional fashion.

I suspect Hibbs may also be right in that if this becomes enough of a "thing" that DC gets some buzz and heat from it in a "whoa, so much demand!" way, other companies may push at the margins of what's acceptable in order to try and one-up the good folks at DC in search of a similar success story. Comics!

if i'm not supposed to have this goofy image, someone please tell me and I'll aubible
 
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Go, Look: Hook, Line And Succor!

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Go, Read (Or Not): Mark Millar Profile At New Republic

imageThis is a very sad profile for a place like New Republic to run, an article by an Abraham Riesman on the writer Mark Millar that gives him a lot of room to talk about his use of human atrocities in the course of his superhero genre tweaking: a tried-and-true way to provide fans with puerile thrills and to carve a little homesteading plot of his own out of some very limited creative real estate. It's as dumb and as upsetting in places as you can imagine; it is a piece that runs right up to the edge of this kind of black hole of banality that is modern pop culture. The writer does get Laura Hudson to stomp on Millar's assertion that rape is just another atrocity on the ol' tool belt to use in such genre play. She explains why it's different to such strong effect that when you have other writers-about-comics explaining, for instance, that there's a satirical edge in the comics that doesn't get translated to the movies, it seems like a pretty silly argument to be making. It'd be nice if the article itself did more basic parsing of what Millar says as opposed to outsourcing a few key, hit-generating points. The article seems to hold in abject wonder the controversial heat generated by this genius of rape scenes and other "kinks," the man who gets to have it both ways in most things that count.

Mark Millar has really, really played the press over the years, in any number of such articles. They are pieces that tend to be characterized by a broad jumble of assertions that make for a better story -- or maybe just sort of an arguable one, which these days is just as good -- than the facts might more strongly suggest taken on their own. They are rarely detail-oriented; they tend towards broad, hard-to-discredit claims. Is it really possible that Mark Millar received some sort of major career boost by becoming a darling of early Internet message boards? Sure. Is it possible that there was some interest but also a backlash by people that didn't care for the cruder, more pandering aspects of his Authority comics and that he moved into the Ultimates gig after a variety of assignments? Sure. Who can say at this point? Wikipedia entries are written by the winners. This profile reads a bit differently than the ones that used to run in various Scottish newspapers because there's more history to follow now, a whole run of horrific plot lines used in the various ways described, and the self-aggrandizing narrative of Millar's career in superhero comics starts to not jibe with more specific memories of those times as grander, broader, more streamlined claims began to be made for it. There are no step-backs in this version of the writer's story, and almost no mention of his collaborative artists or the writers in whose established story spaces he found room to riff. Hudson nails one of the most repellent of Millar's recent creative choices: a scene in Kick-Ass 2 that uses the rape of a female character solely as a motiving factor in a male character's story and as a kind of grotesque titillation both for its content and for the very fact of its aberrant nature. It's good to have that kind of cynical ploy underlined in terms of its noxious reasoning as many times as is possible to underline something. What doesn't get pulled out enough is how clichéd and unimaginative and bottom-line old-man lame such a plot point is in the first place. It's realistic, man, except that it really isn't. It's satire and it's really not.

So why do some folks listen? I imagine some genuinely like those kinds of comics. I imagine others don't have a strong opinion on content issues and/or appreciate those things that Millar does well (I think he does a pretty good job with fight scenes as a storytelling element; that his comics have a humorous element is worth noting, too) that they can see the rest of it as Millar playing the fool. The primary reason, of course, is that it's worked! Mark Millar has been extremely successful in selling a lot of his comics and a number of his movie concepts. One assumes him to be very financially well-off in a way that directly reflects well on him as the primary agent of his own success. This insulates Millar from a lot of criticism because we live in a world where money is the bottom line, even, maybe especially, in art. Thus we take very seriously an artist who can speak comfortably of flipping the Tony Stark/Bruce Wayne archetype because someone bought the development rights to that particular gaming-table bit of wisdom for a hefty amount -- as if that, and the list of incest-pregnancy hurdles that follow, isn't silly to the point of being laughable. In fact, in comics, riddled with exploitation on all levels, Mark Millar is currently one of the two or three role-models for an entire segment of the industry. God help us all.
 
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Go, Look: Teapot Therapy

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* I totally missed Seth's SPX poster. Not sure I'd seen this Farel Dalrymple SPX 2013 poster yet, either.

* there are a lot of shows now. I was noodling around with what next year might look like, and made a long list of shows that I could be perfectly happy attending just in North America. Even leaving some I'd be perfectly happy to attend off of the list -- like any Projects sequels or CAKE or APE -- and budgeting modestly in terms of cash needed on the ground for incidentals and meals, I ended up with a $14K projected outlay! Now, obviously, I can't spend even a healthy double-digit percentage of that much money. But it does show how many decent cons and festivals there are now. It's a rich, rich time.

* speaking of next year's shows, I became slightly paranoid at some point over the weekend that MoCCA has yet to announce dates but I was told by one of their board members they're all looking forward to the next year's show and there's no chance one won't come off. So that's good. It will be interesting to see what that group can do with a full year to plan and execute a festival. New York is very expensive for a lot of exhibitors, so there isn't a lot of room for years of build.

* here's a Boston Comic-Con report.

* here's a piece by Andrew Wheeler on Comic-Con International. It used to be a much bigger show in the overall firmament, sure; when I moved to New Mexico in 2003, it was the only show I made sure to attend every year, and the only other show I might feel the need to attend was SPX. It's still a useful and vital show. I always find it weird when sites with some role in shaping how that show is perceived comics-wise run articles critical or questioning of how that show is perceived comics-wise. Every special guest that was a comics person was a walking feature story, and I doubt very many of them had feature stories written on them -- maybe a panel on their spotlight presentation, I don't know. I thought there was a lot of interesting comics news this year, and none of it involved photo arrays of people in costume.

* finally, Janet Smyth talks comics at the Edinburgh Book Festival.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: The Moon Knight Portfolio

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this CBLDF amicus brief join-in seems perfectly reasonable to me.

image* Frank Santoro has some notes on Building Stories. Henry Chamberlain on Satellite Sam #2. Matt D. Wilson on Life Begins At Incorporation. Nathan Wilson on The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia. Cory Doctorow on The From Hell Companion. Rob McMonigal on a bunch of Oily Comics. Andrew Weiss on War Man. Ken H on Heroman Vol. 4. Josh Kopin on a bunch of different comics. Carl Antonowicz on The Changers.

* I always enjoy the foundational comics blogger Bully and his devotion to extended series of posts, like this one on DC House Ads.

* Kiel Phegley talks to Marguerite Bennett. Sarah Hunter talks to Gene Yang.

* this seems worrisome to me either way.

* congratulations to Bruce Canwell on his recent marriage.

* Johnny Ryan talks about his recent run of fake Chick tracts.

* finally: poor, poor Howard. The thing that kills me is that at that time, 1986, when the movie came out, it seemed like Howard the Duck had been gone from comics for like a hundred years. He had only been around in any form I think a dozen years at that point, and in that time went through a guest-star cycle, his own color comic and his own black-and-white magazine.
 
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Happy 89th Birthday, Gene Deitch!

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August 7, 2013


Stan Lynde, RIP

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OTBP: Benjamin Marra's Blades And Lazers

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Singaporean Cartoonist Leslie Chew Apologizes For Facebook Cartoons; Court Drops Contempt Charges

The Singaporean cartoonist Leslie Chew, real name Chew Peng Ee, has had the remaining contempt charges against him dropped by a Singaporean judge after the cartoonist apologized. The cartoons in question were posted to Facebook and ran afoul of that country's stance on criticizing government figures. A charge of sedition, terrifying as it sounds, was dropped earlier this month. While the wire stories seem to proclaim this a happy outcome -- and I guess it is compared to this guy going to jail for a bunch of years -- the thought that anyone would have to apologize for posting cartoons on Facebook critical of one's government is vomit-inducing.
 
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Go, Look: Ex-Xerox

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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.

*****

APR130380 FELDSTEIN MAD LIFE & FANTASTIC ART OF HC $49.99
I'm glad that folks have started to come around on the art and writing and editing of Al Feldstein, whose most significant crime in some circles seems that he wasn't any of the other monstrously-talented craftsmen working in close proximity to EC Comics and MAD. I know very little about him that wasn't covered in the Comics Journal interview, so I look forward to pawing my way through this very large book.

imageJUN131315 OVER THE WALL GN $14.95I quite liked this fantasy comic from Uncivilized Books, current darling of the boutique arts comix publishers. I enjoyed the pacing, and I thought it had a tinge of darkness to it of a kind that I find very appealing in this sort of story. That's a cartoonist with whom I am completely unfamiliar, as well.

MAR130075 FAGIN THE JEW 10TH ANNIVERSARY HC $19.99
APR130449 DISTANT SOIL TP VOL 01 THE GATHERING [DIG] $16.99
JUN131138 NO STRAIGHT LINES QUEER COMICS TP $35.00
JUN131163 AMULET SC VOL 03 CLOUD SEARCHERS NEW PTG $12.99
This is a big week for re-releases, which used to not mean a whole lot to me in my buy only absolutely new everything days. As an old man with a bad memory and without weekly access to a comic book store, seeing books show up again on the shelves is a key part of my comics buying. If I'm not buying the actual re-release or edition or effort, the new volume puts that work squarely back in mind, and sometimes even sets me off on an attempt to buy an older version. The Fagin book is Will Eisner's re-telling of the Fagin story in a way that seeks to poke at anti-Semitic stereotypes in any number of classic pieces of literature, including Dickens'. Colleen Doran's primary affiliated work continues its steady push back onto shelves; Doran's process posts about everything involved in getting the work back out there have been super-informative and appreciated. The No Straight Lines I imagine would have to be the softcover version of Justin Hall's well-received anthology. I don't keep a lot of anthologies of this type -- by which I mean a sampling across a theme or group of cartoonists -- as I prefer to collect individual-author efforts. I thought that one was well-selected, though, and I'm hanging onto my hardcover version. The Amulet series is one of those hidden comics -- hidden from DM markets and discussion of same -- that sold like 18 billion copies in a bunch of different channels, including comics shops.

APR130078 LONE WOLF & CUB OMNIBUS TP VOL 02 $19.99
Much like that last group of books, I think just about any comics library will want a little of this work unless its themes, content or basic aesthetics are offensive to the collection owner. It's on my list of books to kind of put together at one point, in one form or another, so I'll be very interested to see what this particular version looks like.

JUN130420 TORPEDO TP VOL 04 [DIG] $17.99
This might be a re-release, too, but I can guarantee it's super-good looking and probably cool, too. I own the first couple of volumes and again, not exactly my main area of collecting interest, but a total keeper.

JUN130028 ABE SAPIEN #5 $3.50
JUN130038 CATALYST COMIX #2 (MR) $2.99
MAY130553 FATALE #16 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
APR130567 PROPHET #38 [DIG] $3.99
MAY138256 SATELLITE SAM #1 2ND PTG (MR) $3.50
JUN130558 SATELLITE SAM #2 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
MAY138319 HAWKEYE #11 2ND AJA PTG VAR $2.99
Serial comics is sort of weird this week. As has been the case for several years now, it is totally dominated by genre work and superheroes. The Abe Sapien is this week's Mike Mignola-spawned effort. Those tend to be solid; I know people for whom that is their sole serial-comic interest. Catalyst Comix is the Joe Casey-spearheaded superhero effort, using the briefly flourishing Dark Horse line of such comics as its source material. Casey is in a very prolific and super-odd place right now and I read everything he does. The Fatale is probably the big, dependable performer of the week if it's not the Prophet -- the Saga I just read would be, but I don't think it's out in shops until next week. Finally, there are three comic books featuring work from the writer Matt Fraction, extra-notable for his collaboration with two very fun comics artists: Howard Chaykin on the early TV industry-set Satellite Sam and David Aja on a re-release of that super well-liked Hawkeye comic. You know the one.

JUN130808 ALAN MOORE FASHION BEAST HC (MR) $32.99
JUN130807 ALAN MOORE FASHION BEAST TP (MR) $24.99
This is one of those Avatar comics derived from an author's work that's not originally comics, in this case worth noting because the work in question is one of writer Alan Moore's more famous outside gigs: a screenplay set in the world of fashion written with Malcolm McLaren. That it's a screenplay should make for some intriguing comics although in general I haven't really taken to any of the releases of this type.

MAY131321 BAKUMAN TP VOL 20 $9.99
It's always good to note the best series with a volume out on any given new comics Wednesday; this is a concluding volume, too.

APR131261 JOE KUBERT TRIBUTE TO THE CREATOR & MENTOR SC $17.95
So I guess that the second planned issue of Jon B. Cooke's new comics-related magazine has transformed into this, more of a book-length tribute to the late Joe Kubert. Cooke does this kind of thing very well, and I can't recall seeing something along these line in a major way for the late Kubert, who at the time of his passing was -- I think -- the greatest living mainstream comic book creator.

FEB130220 IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB HC $39.99
I'm super-curious about this material: an actual hard-to-find magazine project helmed by Jack Kirby in the 1970s when getting on the magazine stands seemed like the greatest idea in the world -- or a necessity, if the periodicals market for comics was as screwed up as anecdotal evidence suggests it was. This should have material that wasn't included in the actual, initial publication. It's rare to get a Kirby book of (mostly) little-seen material, so this is sort of a big deal. I'd go and look at this sucker in the shop, that's for sure.

*****

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 Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Foxing Quarterly

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* that's super-nice. Congratulations to the happy couple, one of comics' most-liked.

image* John Seven on some different comics, including Darryl Cunningham's. Sean T. Collins on Abyss. Don MacPherson on A User's Guide To Neglectful Parenting, various comics and the "Whatever Happened To...?" feature. Greg McElhatton on Monster On The Hill, Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 27 and Big Plans. Henry Chamberlain on Sandcastle. Seth T. Hahne on Genius. J. Caleb Mozzocco on the DC summer annuals. I don't really all the way understand why there are DC summer annuals when it's not like the regular series are crushing it on the charts right now, except in relative terms. I suppose there are any number of creative uses to which a stand-alone issue for a series can be used, though. Augie De Blieck Jr. on Wolverine. That was quite the event for a lot of us kids that loved the Chris Claremont/John Byrne X-men. It also might have been the last time we got psyched for an X-Men related event.

* Jakob Free profiles Matt Seneca. John Hogan talks to Karen Green. Tim O'Shea talks to Tim Gibson.

* a massive comics collection profiled. I have to admit, I dream of throwing all of mine away.

* people always love unsold pitches. "Sprout" seems to me a terrible name for a superhero.

* somewhere at the Hicksville lighthouse in heaven, Paul Pope's Kamandi sits on a shelf next to Al Columbia's Cave Carson. Although in both cases, I'm happier to have read the projects that filled that professional creation time.

* Brigid Alverson reports from the Boston con held last weekend. I'd totally forgotten the original was canceled because of the bombing at the end of the Boston Marathon. That's a terrible thing to happen to your event, although not as terrible as actual bombing at your event. Still, I'm glad it went well, or at least that it sounds like it went well.

* finally, Justin Giamapoli talks backmatter.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Sasa Rakezic!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Paul Dini!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Tommi Musturi!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Leanne Franson!

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August 6, 2013


Go, Look: The Grizzly

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Albert Ching Joins CBR Staff As Senior Editor

Oh, great. (Just kidding; congratulations on the new gig to the former Newsarama mainstay.)
 
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Not Comics: Recent Luke Pearson Cover Art

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Go, Read: Stefano Gaudiano, Brian Fies Sound Off On That Young Cartoonists Post

I received a pair of interesting letters about the young cartoonists post and its summary discussion posting from the comics-makers Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Fies. I appreciate their writing in, and both have an expansive, idiosyncratic take on issues raised.
 
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OTBP: Popcorn Muscles #1

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Go, Read: Tim O'Neil On DC Comics Right Now Vis-A-Vis A Review Of Their Trinity War Storyline

imageThere's a lengthy and really good post here from the writer-about-comics Tim O'Neil on the current "Trinity War" plotline at DC Comics, and how this serves as a distillation of what's going on at the company a couple of years into its relaunch from late 2011. I think I agree with the general thrust of his reading -- I've maybe read about 15-20 percent of those comics, usually in heaping gulps from the dollar bins, so I may not have a sensible, informed take on things. O'Neil also places this era in the context of superhero comics of the last 25 years, which is completely freaking beyond me. I remember some of those titles from the late 1990s being okay, but I also remember a lot of bland nonsense that to me is indistinguishable from the new stuff save for the height of the collars.

I think O'Neil's strongest points come when he talks about a "Trinity War" side project featuring the characters John Constantine and Captain Marvel (now bearing the goofy name "Shazam") and notes that they are completely able to share space without any difficulty because their comics actually feature the same general tone now, and that this tone manages to smooth over all the interesting edges of each character. I haven't read a ton of the new Captain Marvel stuff, but the John Constantine character in the current DC Universe is sort of strangely hilarious to me whenever I see him, like running into Blair Underwood doing a recurring as playboy robin hood Omar Little on Rizolli And Isles. I'm not the biggest fan of John Constantine, but I feel a bit sorry for him, like I keep hoping that he'll escape.

imageI think the surprising factor of the whole DC relaunch 24 months in, at least for me, is that the characters haven't been developed in a way I thought would be a greater priority for the company. There are very few characters that seem to have caught the attention of that fan base as characters, and I might even be able to argue that for as many characters that have gained in terms of fan attention, there are others that have lost some ground. Appealing to the fanbase isn't always the primary goal, but a company's readers excited about a character or set of characters in a way that those characters are the focus of discussion is one measurement that there's some movement in that area. I just haven't seen as much of that as I thought I would. I'm not sure I buy O'Neil's reasoning that "DC Entertainment" has become more important in terms of branding than developing individual properties; I think they may have just whiffed on this.

imageThe degree of difficulty in doing something like rehabilitating an entire library of comics characters is brutal, just a shade below the "create an entire new universe" task which comics companies also tend to think is relatively easy and which ends up being an endeavor that usually comes back to haunt them. Marvel got to where they are at this moment creator-wise and books-wise by a sort of bonsai-like pruning and slow development/deployment played out over a dozen or so years now. That's benefited their character library: Luke Cage, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, the Winter Soldier and Captain Marvel are all characters that have moved to a better place due in part to this slow-simmering approach. You could argue that simply by bringing Mark Waid onto Daredevil, Marvel did more to change fans' view of a longtime character in a positive way than DC did with its entire New 52 initiative. DC jump-started their current direction by editorial fiat, and one hears rumors of a creative climate that is a difficult one in which to operate. Few of the new versions of these characters have caught fire.

There aren't a lot of think-pieces this massive on superhero comics, so if that kind of comics-making interests you at all, you should pay that post a visit.
 
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Go, Look: More Great Cartoons Of The World

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Not Comics: Newspaper Industry Explodes With Headline-Making Sales To Rich People, Shut Downs

imageThe New York Times has a summary article on the recent spate of media purchases, led by two billionaires -- or former billionaires, maybe, I'm not exactly sure where each fortune stands -- featuring crown-jewel type newspapers. The focus of those stories, and I think it should be the focus of those stories, is that the papers went for a fraction of what they were considered worth 10-12 years ago. I don't think anyone on earth would have projected these papers to still be worth anywhere near those ludicrous amounts, but the severity of the decline in value startles.

This comes the same week the "new" Plain-Dealer starts publishing. That's one of those plans that involves cutting the shit out of the news staff, not really cutting into the executives as drastically, calling the company a "media company" a lot, waving arms like Mandrake the Magician in the direction of the Internet as some sort of home for news/profit center that we somehow haven't seen in the ten years that's been a thing, and cutting home delivery.

I'm not always on board with the shape and tone of how many folks react to these tough times for newspapers. I think that newspapers in general were uniquely, poorly prepared for a paradigm shift such as the one we've seen away from print consumption and display advertising. I also think their way of riding out the first severe drop from five years or so ago now was to hope that things would calm down and to wonder after various early retirement packages. But as the son of a newspaperman and as someone that spent about seven years working in newsrooms, it makes me very sad to see this, particularly the difference in management philosophies from just a generation ago. Seriously, if the same impulses that control newspapers now held sway in 1978, newspapers would have collapsed into dwarf-star state by the mid-1980s.

I don't think this has a drastic, drastic effect on comics syndication that we haven't already seen, at least not yet. Very few new features get launched now, and it's not that great rags to riches opportunity it used to be. There are still a lot of people making their living there, though, and syndicates seem to be better prepared than a lot of media companies to operate through leaner times. It always, always bears watching, though. One thing you don't see any longer? A belief in the progressive reform of comics for newspapers, like a return to sports cartoons or an ambitious editorial cartooning strategy including long-form comics, perhaps. Times are tough, and people are worried.
 
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Go, Look: Tales Of The Night Watchman

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I was pleased to see the formal PR announcing this Fall's publication of a Neil The Horse collection from Hermes Press. That was one of the odder ducks of the indy-comics era, and while you can still snap up the actual comic books I wonder if that one is so far removed from the currency of comics conversation that just having it out again in a different form is a boon so that we can talk about it, at least.

image* Dark Horse will publish the more traditional of the EC collection projects, a version of the EC Comics Library that releases volumes by comics title and issues. Russ Cochran is on board.

* Jeet Heer's book about Francoise Mouly is now excerpted at the publisher's site.

* this new Benjamin Marra comic completely escaped my attention.

* CO2 Comics says it has finished its second phase of publishing projects and has three books out there for you track down: Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy, by Steve Lafler; Non, by Chris Kalnick; The Adventures Of Roma, by John Workman. I have the Doggie Style; I hope to dive into it soon.

* there will apparently be a Christmas edition of Happy, the Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson effort of recent vintage.

* the next issue of Palooka-ville previewed.

* this column should focus on comics not out for a while rather than already out, but I missed totally new DFC Library paperback editions.

* finally, a preview of The Hartlepool Monkey, forthcoming from Knockabout, surfaced at the FPI blog.

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Go, Look: The Telltale Bullet

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Go, Look: Brolar, Dude Of The Atom

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* new Al Columbia site.

image* Laura Sneddon talks to Peter Hogan.

* Chris Sims on The Long Journey. Dominic Umile on The March. Bob Temuka on Grendel. Sean Gaffney on The Twin Knights. Sarah Horrocks on Anita Live Vol. 1. Rob Clough on Little Fish. Todd Klein on Astro City #1, Swamp Thing #21, Green Lantern: New Guardians #20, Green Lantern #21 and BPRD: 1947.

* hard not to like this Batman visual.

* Sean Collins talks about one of the odder comics-entry points of the 1980s and 1990s, trading cards, and then walks us through a hero history for Wolverine. The latter is fun to see if only that what I remember as incremental builds in his character over several years is done by like slide #3.

* very excited for the Billy Ireland people moving their library to their new digs this summer, and I'm loving the occasional photos.

* not comics: this Lightning Bolt song is actually tuneful and catchy.

image* Carl Barks profiled, with plenty of art.

* wow, look at this pretty little stack of "Golden Age" comic books. I think those are beautiful objects, and I never used to think that.

* Don Simpson talks about doing studies of Frank Santoro's work, without knowing it was Frank Santoro's work.

* here's a finished piece and its pencil-art rough from Sarah McIntyre.

* finally, Mike Lynch underlines the irony of a cartoon about exploited creators being exploited and notes a Jeffrey Koterba process post.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Ed Hannigan!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Sarah Horrocks!

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August 5, 2013


By Request Special: Shannon Smith's Kid Needs Braces

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a lot of that art is very cute
 
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Go, Bookmark: The Superhero Reader

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On Various Reactions To Posting A List Of Young Cartoonists

imagel received some interesting from yesterday's posting of a list of how old certain comics-makers were at an early highlight-moment in their careers. Most of it was a display of prickly defensiveness regarding the idea of age, the notion that by somehow pointing out that this group of comics-makers were of a certain, mostly-in-their-20s age when they hit certain high points, this was an assault on the idea of making comics when you got older. Nothing could be further from the truth. It wasn't my intention, and it's not a particular hang-up of the marketplace, I don't think. I think comics in general does fairly well with older creators as long as their work remains vital. The solid performers in the indy-alt market are about 80 percent in their 40s to 60s. Money-makers in comic strips tend to favor veterans of the editorial page as much as a kid fresh off of his college paper gig, probably more so at this point. The still entrenched editorial cartoonists tend to be veterans, if partly because younger cartoonists are scared off by lack of opportunity. There are a number of men and women born before 1970 with sweet gigs in mainstream comics, too. I am quite old myself. So no, it's not great for everybody, and yes, comics doesn't use all of its talent and there are corners of comics with a unhealthy fixation on fashionable talent and there's even an idea that all artists have a limited shelf life and that a 45-year career or whatever in many cases isn't a realistic thing. But like I said, I think it's a better place than some markets taken as a whole. So not only wasn't that list intended that way, I don't think there's such an overwhelming status quo of favoring young people against all reason that there's any danger in running such a list. It's just a list.

The instigating series of incidents for me to do that post were wrapped up in something I had noticed before and that had recently come up three separate times: an insistence of not just calling people between the ages of 38 and 45 "cartoonists," or "working cartoonists," or even "new cartoonists," but "young cartoonists." I've experienced this before. One of my Comics Journal writers called me ageist back in the 1990s when I wouldn't let someone in a "Young Cartoonists" issue who had published in Arcade. I think you see it a lot in casual ways, too, say a 41-year-old comics-maker referring to herself as a fellow traveler with cartoonists largely in their late 20s. I think it's partly the fear of being seen as irrelevant asserted in the above fashionability scenario, partly aligning one's career progression with those in a similar place, and partly the very comics thing of wanting to filter all discussions of comics in some way where you're front and center. Yet I also wonder if it's the simple fact that there are so few rewards in such a hard field that positioning yourself as a youthful voice and not just a new one has perceived advantages, if only in self-conception. I mean, it's not as easy as that, but I've seen it enough times that I think that's a factor. I like and value all the comics-makers, 16 to 90, and I hope you do, too. It's a remarkable thing that Phoebe Gloeckner was submitting publishable work at age 19 and an also-remarkable thing that Miriam Katin put out We Are On Our Own the year she turned 63. Those are both great cartoonists; but really, only one of them was young.

image from Katin's latest, Letting It Go
 
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Go, Look: Just Mad Books

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Someone Wrote In To Mention That The Dan Clowes Cover In The Latest Big Auction Made Nearly $50K

imageIt was original cover art to Lloyd Llewellyn #3, which came out in 1986. I think you need to be signed in somehow here to confirm that, but I don't have any reason to think they're lying to me. I guess that's notable because most of the big-ticket items at auctions like these tend to be character/creator combinations, where one assumes the affection for a certain superhero character if not the very specific experience of reading that very specific comic book plays a huge role. At any rate, you don't see a ton of mid-five figures spent on anything like the Clowes cover. Clowes has a significant fan base, though, one with a Hollywood element to it and therefore some money. I suspect he's always done pretty well with more immediate original art sales when he's done them. It would be nice if a significant market opened up for this kind of art for those that have kept a lot of their art, although the impulse to pay that much money for something like that is so far out of my range of comprehension I can't say much about it besides.
 
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Go, Look: Exploded View Poster World

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Go, Read: Brigid Alverson Summary Of Pay/No Pay Debate

The writer Brigid Alverson summarizes a recent bunch of responses to a writer claiming that paying artists up front dampens their enthusiasm for a project. I'm probably more sympathetic than most to the idea that paying people can in addition to being the right thing to do complicate things in the direction of how you've structured that payment. Still, this is a terrible set of circumstances from which to build a publishing philosophy. I'm therefore glad to see pushback. I'm also not sure there isn't some dissonance here. There really may be a difference between two artists with different time requirements for their tasks approaching a shared project and a project through which one artist is trying to facilitate something they want done by surrounding themselves with the talent to do so. I know comic strip artists who pay a co-writer in a way that's different than they pay a person supplying gags. There's building a home together and hiring a contractor. Creative relationships are complicated and just because in many, many cases one undeniable factor of time spent has a simplistic aspect to it -- "I can't do this work for free without dying" -- that doesn't necessarily make it something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes that just is.

One of the weird things about arguing things on-line is that people want perfect arguments that cannot even allow for the idea of a possible exception. In reality, there are usually exceptions to everything. We should remember they're exceptions because they're rare and extraordinary, and that this doesn't indicate an unavoidable imperfection in any one set-up as much as it indicates an unavoidable circumstance about most. Morally and practically, the baseline for work performed should be an expectation for pay, and super-strongly so when there's pay or another potential reward involved at some point along the way or in places along that way. Moreover, this should be pay without specific hardship entailed, if the only reason for that hardship is to mitigate risk beyond a reasonable point. The specifics can be worked out against that backdrop. If all of that means it's hard for you to fund all the projects you want, or makes you take extra steps in doing so, well, sometimes funding professional arts projects is hard and requires a few extra steps.

By the way, a lot of this current debate is also made possible because the perceived money in comics right now -- and in some cases the actual money -- is in the intellectual property rather than the executed item. If you tend to see creative relationships as conflict-driven, that means on the one hand you have the writerly advantages as the economic freedom of being able to perform multiple jobs in the space of time it takes an artist to do one and potential sole or sole perceived access to the transferable element of that property, while the artist's advantages are in creating an item of actual value (the original art) and the fact that the skill-set is limited and necessary for the work to exist as a comic in the first place. Fight, fight, fight.
 
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Go, Look: kinokogallery.com

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* this is something a bit different: a magazine with free content that already has a track record of publishing is doing a crowd-funder to keep going: Off-Registration.

* here's one artist's commissions information. Many artists you enjoy will have something similar available through their on-line presence, and many can use the work.

* the Gahan Wilson movie kickstarter is getting near that halfway point where it's rumored things start to build momentum on crowd-funders like these. Of course, by the time this post rolls out, it might be on the other side of that halfway point.

* Fort Wayne's Appleseed convention is trying to raise about $8000. I like Fort Wayne; it's one of those cities that never gets talked about... I'm not sure about a comics tradition there. I went to a store the day Reagan was shot, so they had some people buying comics back then. Grass Green lived there... I'm sure there are others.

* finally, you could buy some stuff from J. Chris Campbell. He hasn't asked for any special consideration and for all I know the guy owns a solid gold car, but that art is cute.
 
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Not Comics: Sveta Doresheva

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Go, Look: Traditional Comics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I hadn't noticed that Rob Steibel and the Kirby Museum have parted ways, apparently because of the former's penchant for commentary on the latter's site.

image* John Rovnak talks to Dean Motter. Andrea Tsurumi talks to R. Sikoryak and Kriota Willberg. Josh Bell talks to Steven Grant. Brigid Alverson talks to Ken Sasaki. Graeme Neil Reid talks to Darryl Cunningham.

* not comics: designs from an unproduced Micronauts cartoon.

* Adam McGovern on a few different comics. Somebody named Andy on Incidents In The Night, Sky In Stereo #2 and Ticket Stub. Rob Clough on MOME #22. Oliver Sava on Batman, Incorporated #13.

* Alexander Nagorski at one of the DC blogs pays tribute to Grant Morrison's run with the Batman character.

* not comics: I don't know what this is, either.

* the Aurora Rise charity profiled. That article does a good job of breaking with standard narratives in terms of how it presents the fact that these people died, which is tough to do because the nature of violence here means we have a lot of standard narratives for that kind of thing.

* so I've been having dreams that Andy Capp joined the Avengers. Ken Eppstein sent along this cartoon that indicates he at least has a passing familiarity-via-proximity to Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson.

* I've never understood marketing offers, let alone known them inside and out in a way I can endorse them, but I guess if you go here you can get some sort of freebie from GoComics.com.

* Seth has dug up a Len Norris cartoon that has the same basic structure in terms of its joke as the famous Saul Steinberg 9th Avenue cartoon that came much later.

* David King draws Sluggo.

* I love it when people talk about their comics collections.

* a couple of you have sent me this article about innovations in webcomics coloring; it was fairly fascinating, so thank you.

* finally, via Jog tweeting about it comes this article about Naoki Urusawa having a conversation with Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten. That is a bunch of heavy-hitters.

 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Steve Mitchell!

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August 4, 2013


Len Wein To LA Times: He Got A Check For The Wolverine

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Here's the money quote: "Lucius Fox has earned me a great deal more money than Wolverine ever has, although I will say that for the latest film Marvel did send me a nice check."

I'm never sure why no one talks about these things openly. In some cases there are legal reasons; in other cases, it seems more like there is general fear of legal reasons maybe cropping up. Since it's more difficult to assert a positive formulation for talking, I guess that sort of answers the question. This was actually rumored about 10 weeks ago, I heard it from two different directions, although there was no confirmation coming from Wein or Marvel. So as I understand the scorecard now, Marvel is paying people, although not as much as DC, and maybe not for a lot of things, and DC probably isn't now that Paul Levitz is gone, except maybe they are if you fill out the right paperwork. Comics!

Don't get me wrong, though: it's good when a creator is paid for their work, especially when there is money to pay that creator. This is true when contracts favor the creator, and this is true when they don't but the company would like to favor the creator.

Len Wein is the character's co-creator. I'm not exactly sure how the detailed provenance works on that character -- I know that John Romita Sr. is often credited with the costume.
 
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Young Cartoonists...

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* Phoebe Gloeckner turned 20 the year her work appeared in Young Lust.
* John Porcellino turned 20 the year King-Cat Comix And Stories #1 came out.

* Barry Windsor-Smith turned 21 the year Conan The Barbarian #1 came out.
* Adrian Tomine turned 21 the year Optic Nerve #1 came out from Drawn and Quarterly.
* Dave Sim turned 21 the year Cerebus #1 came out.
* Gerry Conway turned 21 the year Gwen Stacy died.
* Hergé was 21 when the first Tintin story began to be serialized.

* Frank Miller turned 22 the year Daredevil #158 came out
* Jaime Hernandez turned 22 the year Love and Rockets #1 (self-published) came out.
* Michael DeForge turned 22 the year Lose #1 came out.
* Lynda Barry turned 22 the year Ernie Pook's Comeek first appeared in newspapers.
* Bill Sienkiewicz turned 22 the year Moon Knight #1 came out.
* Noah Van Sciver turned 22 the year Blammo #1 came out.
* Garry Trudeau was 22 the day the first nationally syndicated Doonesbury strip was out.

* Will Eisner turned 23 the year The Spirit first appeared.
* Bill Mauldin was 23 years old when he won the Pulitzer Prize.
* R.O. Blechman turned 23 the year The Juggler of Our Lady was published.
* Frank Santoro turned 23 the year Storeyville came out.
* Eddie Campbell turned 23 the year he created the first Alec short stories.
* Craig Thompson turned 23 the year Goodbye, Chunky Rice came out.

* Gilbert Hernandez turned 24 the year Love and Rockets #1 (self-published) came out.
* Jack Kirby turned 24 the year Captain America #1 came out.
* Kate Beaton turned 24 the year she started uploading cartoons onto the Internet.
* Scott McCloud turned 24 the year Zot! #1 came out.

* Moebius turned 25 the year Lt. Blueberry first appeared in Pilote.
* R. Crumb turned 25 the year Zap #1 came out.
* Dan Clowes turned 25 the year Lloyd Llewellyn #1 came out.
* Julie Doucet turned 25 the year Dirty Plotte #1 came out.
* Tom Hart turned 25 the year Hutch Owen's Working Hard came out.

* Chris Ware turned 26 the year ACME Novelty Library #1 came out.
* Chris Onstad was 26 when the first Achewood appeared on-line.
* Jason Lutes turned 26 the year that Jar Of Fools began serialization.
* Steve Gerber turned 26 the year that Howard The Duck made his first appearance.
* Milton Caniff was 26 when the first Dickie Dare appeared.
* Chester Brown turned 26 the year the first Yummy Fur from Vortex came out.

* Bill Griffith turned 27 the year the first Zippy comic appeared.
* John Byrne turned 27 the year X-Men #108 came out.
* Grant Morrison turned 27 the year Zenith first appeared.
* Charles Schulz was 27 the first day Peanuts appeared in newspapers.
* Bill Watterson was 27 the first day Calvin and Hobbes appeared in newspapers.
* Emily Carroll was 27 when she posted "His Face All Red."

* Jeffrey Brown turned 28 the year Clumsy came out.
* Harvey Kurtzman turned 28 the year MAD #1 came out.
* Peter Bagge turned 28 the year Neat Stuff #1 came out.

* Alan Moore turned 29 the year the first chapter of V For Vendetta was serialized.
* Seth turned 29 the year Palooka-ville #1 was published.

* Steve Bell turned 30 the year If... first started appearing in the Guardian.
* Dori Seda turned 30 the year her first comic appeared in Weirdo.

* Ralph Steadman turned 34 the year "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved" came out in Scanlan's.

I know that not all of these are first comics, and sometimes not even the first publication of those comics, but they were the ones I was thinking about.
 
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Maybe We Could All Think About Donating $9.60 To The Hero Initiative In Jack Kirby's Name On 8/28/13

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This August 28 would have been Jack Kirby's 96th birthday. This has me wondering if a $9.60 donation to the creators-in-need charity The Hero Initiative on that date might be an appropriate thing to do. I think I'm going to. I don't know if I'm going to use the instructions here for more than an address check, but I will shoot them that small amount of money. I think that this is a good thing that family does, and I think there's nothing wrong with direct participation or parallel participation depending on your mood and point of view. Sure, all the usual caveats apply that this is a drop in the bucket and I know some people are wary of giving through charities just on general principle. I don't think charity is limited by any one suggestion; neither is our memory of a great artist like Kirby. But it has to help. I settled on $9.60 and am mentioning it now because I can't imagine it's much of a hardship for 90 percent of you to put together a little less than $10 over the next few weeks. I'd buy Mr. Kirby a coffee were he still around; this is a way I can buy him three. I hope you'll think about it.
 
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You Should Like The Kirby4Heroes Facebook Page And Look At The Massive Kirby Family Photo Album

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Go, Look: The Illustrated Adventures Of Vaginal Davis

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Not Comics: The Voynich Manuscript

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Not Comics: The TinCanForest Print Shop

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Go, Look: Worldwidecox Inc.

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Go, Look: IDW Publishing's Tumblr

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

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Happy 61st Birthday, Franco Saudelli!

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Happy 37th Birthday, K. Thor Jensen!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Rick Norwood!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Mike Gold!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Charlie Adlard!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Robert Pope!

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FFF Results Post #345 -- Happily Ever After

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Series From Which You Own Comics Even Though That Series Didn't Finish (At Least In North America) And Likely Never Will." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Eye Of Mongombo
2. D'Arc Tangent
3. Cromartie High School (English Translation)
4. Big Numbers
5. 1963

*****

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Steve Replogle

1. Burglar Bill by Paul Grist
2. Kane by Paul Grist
3. Jack Staff by Paul Grist
4. The Eternal Conflicts of the Cosmic Warrior by Paul Grist
5. Barry Windsor-Smith: Storyteller

*****

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Jonathan Baylis

* Coventry -- I loved this Bill Willingham series and am super happy to have Fables, but I would've liked to have seen this continued.
* Mage -- Still waiting on The Hero Denied. Does Matt Wagner need to live some more life for this to be concluded?
* Shade -- The Ditko edition. I have the Cancelled Comics Calvacade issue, but wish there would've been more!
* Miracleman -- C'mon Gaiman/Disney, enough effin' around. Let's finish this sucker, huh?
* Stray Bullets -- C'mon Lapham! Nothing's been as good as this series! More Amy Racecar!

*****

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Dave Knott

* Coventry
* Underwater
* Fell
* Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga (English translation)
* The Aerialist (serialized in Dark Horse Presents v.1)

*****

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Nathaniel G. McDonald

1. Hepcats
2. No. 5
3. 1963
4. Underwater
5. Nonplayer

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. Eye of Mongombo
2. The Destructor
3. Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth
4. Big Numbers
5. The Spiffy Adventures of McConey / Les Aventures de Lapinot

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Big Numbers
* Sonic Disruptors
* StormWatch: Team Achilles
* Swamp Thing (Rick Veitch Jesus Storyline)
* The Authority (Grant Morrison/Gene Ha)

*****

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Tony Collett

1. MICRA
2. Sonic Disruptors
3. Miracleman
4. Area 88
5. The Bible (DC Treasury Edition)

*****

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Jeff Flowers

1. Jeremy Brood (it was intended to be a three volume story)
2. Border Worlds
3. Chica (English translation of Bang Bang)
4. D'Arc Tangent
5. Scorpio Rose

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Dorothy (2004)
2. Mirror Walker (1989)
3. Colonia (1998)
4. Wonderland (1998)
5. Pirates of Coney Island (2006)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. The Shadow (Helfer/Baker)
2. 1963
3. M.Rex (later resurrected for TV by Man Of Action)
4. Desolation Jones (To be in England)
5. Supreme (arguable)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Dungeon
2. Journey: Wardrums
3. Stray Bullets
4. Strangehaven
5. Hectic Planet

*****

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John R. Platt

1. Pirate Corp$/Hectic Planet
2. M.I.C.R.A.
3. Miracleman: The Silver Age
4. Mr. Average
5. Jack

*****

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M. Emery

1. Dan Dare reprints from Titan (I presume these are available in the US.)
2. Thirteen Going on Eighteen collections from D & Q
3. Atlas
4. Bambie and her Pink Gun
5. Detour

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Couplers
2. Buck Rogers (TSR)
3. Destroyer Duck
4. NFL SuperPro
5. Nightmare On Elm Street (Marvel)

[Note of explanation: These are all projects I worked on that died premature deaths]

*****

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Mike Rhodes

1. Omega the Unknown (original by Gerber and Mooney)
2. Void Indigo
3. Miracle Man
4. The Night Man
5. Leave it to Chance

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
August 3, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Robert Crumb: Musician, Music Video Actor


SPX Video


The Team Cul De Sac 2013 Comic-Con Panel


A Time-Lapse TCAF 2013 Video I Missed


Carol Tilley Profiled


Matt Bors And Jake Tapper


Venom: Truth In Journalism
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 27 to August 2, 2013:

1. Sedition charges were dropped against Singaporean cartoonist Leslie Chew. Chew is still under criminal prosecution threat for a bunch of also-dumb lesser charges, but the sedition stuff being dropped is apparently a big deal.

2. Group of family-values concerned South Carolinians make untenable charges against the literary value of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Luckily, most people on the ground there seem to be seeing their protest as the wholly idiotic sham that it is, although some will be worried that groups like this will be working against books whenever they do so.

3. DC mentions casually that they still officially plan to publish the Orson Scott Card story for Superman that drove people to manic irritation due to Card's vehement, extreme opinions against gays being married.

Winner Of The Week
Kelly Sue DeConnick, helping in the effort to send young women to summer camp.

Loser Of The Week
The Palmetto Family Council, for the very specific brand of nasty politics it plays. I don't mind values-based argumentation, but taking an extreme view under the protection of "well, that's my opinion" and grinding against a college being a place where ideas get shared even if they're not the ideas you like, these are horrible things.

Quote Of The Week
"There is only getting up and doing it all over again, smarter and harder, until something ups and fucking kills you, because that’s the only thing big enough to stop you. This is The Great Work, and all you have to do is choose it, not look back and never fucking stop until you’re in your box, under the dirt and flowers are growing between your teeth." -- Warren Ellis, who would be the greatest high school guidance counselor in the history of the world.

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Please Double-Check My Con Listings, October And Beyond

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Here. What do you think I'm missing?
 
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If I Were In Boston, I'd Go To This

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Happy 59th Birthday, Gianfranco Goria!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Reed Waller!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Marc Weidenbaum!

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August 2, 2013


All The Best News Drops At 4 PM On A Friday: The Billy Ireland Library Opening Festival Goes Live

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It's the biggest event of the Fall, maybe the last few Falls, that no one talks about very much. Those that have been to past affairs have loved it, or at least say so in my direction.
 
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Go, Look: More Paul Karasik At Martha's Vineyard

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Bundled Extra: Sam Henderson Re-Launches MagicWhistle.com; Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary This Fall

imageI can't quite get it to load, but apparently alt-comics veteran Sam Henderson has relaunched the site bearing the Magic Whistle name here. Henderson has a bunch of work coming out this late summer and into the Fall, including a new, 13th issue of the Alternative Comics mainstay. You can get a look at that material -- a collection of Scene But Not Heard and a zero issue of Magic Whistle here, which is a really good presentation of the material that was sent out last night/this morning. I'll cover it again in the next proper Bundled column, but I wanted to give you a heads-up on the web site in case you wanted to spend some time poking around over there this weekend. There's apparently a ton of color work.

I've always thought Henderson an interesting talent. I've always enjoyed his comics. What he does seemed really suited for the way the industry -- such as it is, was or will ever be -- was set up at one point where Nickelodeon could make use of his gag-making sensibilities and a regular comic book allowed not-overwhelming access into his mindset and world. When the two primary ways to get at cartoonists are on-line and on library/bookstore shelves, that seems a different matter. I predict a slight comeback over the next 36 months for the alternative comic book proper -- I've been predicting this for about seven years, mind you -- and if that's the case I think Henderson could potentially benefit.
 
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Go, Look: Toon Books Tumblr

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Various Sites Note DC's Stated Intention To Publish Heavily-Debated Orson Scott Card Superman Story

Here's one such article noting that Dan DiDio in the recent ICv2.com interview featuring himself and Jim Lee declared that DC still intends to publish Orson Scott Card's Superman originally intended to help launch an online/print Superman anthology featuring various creators. When initially announced, that move was widely criticized because of the iconic nature of Superman's virtuous status as a character combined with Card's seemingly demented-in-their-severity calls for resistance to gays having the right to marry. A similar protest has begun to coalesce around a forthcoming movie version of Card's well-liked Ender's Game work.

I have to admit, I blew right past that part of the interview, I think because I find it hard to believe that if DC wanted such a story done they couldn't have had it completed by now, even with artists -- like the first one assigned -- reluctant to perform the assignment. In other words, I kind of thought that this was the face-saving language of DC complying with the request of those objecting. And I could still be right. It didn't strike me until reading this new batch of articles that a lot of people may want DC to abandon that story and a working relationship with Card on Superman in a stronger way than the existing story not simply managing to see print, or not seeing print right away. So I'm kind of at a loss at what happens next. Bears watching, though.
 
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Go, Look: Gabrielle Gamboa

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Assembled Extra: Laura Hudson On Randall Munroe's Time Comic

We mentioned down the page our desire to spotlight coverage of comics that's focused on specific works: here's a piece from Laura Hudson on Randall Munroe's webcomic Time that talks about its creation and how it was received and perceived by its initial readership. If you've only had cursory knowledge of it or no knowledge at all, I imagine that article works pretty well as an introduction.
 
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Go, Look: John Buscema Fantastic Four Splash Pages

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there were few mainstream comic book artists in the 20th Century more gifted than John Buscema
 
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Assembled Extra: Keith Knight Latest To Try Subscription Model

Keith Knight follows in the footsteps of prolific cartoonists with a devoted audience on-line such as Matt Bors and Ruben Bolling, and is now offering a subscription model to those fans in order to more closely follow his work. From my vantage point, efforts like that seem to have been a way for a few cartoonists to buttress income with a hopefully good-sized, one-time -- and then on a hopefully regular schedule thereafter -- cash influx. It should provide a measure as to degree and nature of Knight's appeal to his first line of fans, although it's difficult to draw sweeping conclusions from any one overture. Knight is one of comics' more dependable road warriors over the last two decades, and has always been active on-line. it was those fans, one imagines, that came through for him in a big way on a recent graphic novel crowd-funder. I wish him well.
 
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Go, Look: Matt Crabe

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Go, Read: Lengthy Think-Piece On Grant Morrison's Batman Run

imageIt's by David Uzumeri: here. I thought that was a very thorough initial thinking-over of the themes, successes and failures of the Grant Morrison written cycle of Batman stories, which came to its conclusion this week with the release of Batman, Incoporated #13, and in that more of our comics coverage should be anchored by the release of work into the world wanted to throw my minor spotlight on it. Morrison is a really good maker of mainstream comic books when he chooses to be, and his Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Arkham Asylum, JLA, All-Star Superman and Final Crisis books at the very least have echoes in a lot of what's been done and what's being done in that realm of comic books. I don't know that Batman joins him, and it was always my sense that in this case some of his energy was being spent just being allowed to play with the character as he has.

The review acknowledges two interesting things about the series that aren't strictly content-related. One is that what Morrison was doing was so different and so singularly odd it kind of created a bubble around itself during DC's universe-revamp, at least long enough for the story to get to its end mostly intact. I find that kind of fascinating, and maybe the most Morrison thing about the project. Another is that the artists involved really had a lot to do with what worked and what didn't. That is an obvious idea, certainly, they're one-half of each work's authorial team. Still, the effect of the artists issue to issue is something that Morrison fans and superhero comic book fans sometimes have a hard time engaging unless that artist is a super-stylish craftsperson like Frank Quitely. Morrison can be a very dominant partner.

Having Morrison working these old-time Batman-related series seemed to me a positive for that tradition of making comics, a boon for a way of presenting work that's been shunted aside for relaunches and reboots and renumberings and stand-alone formats that are at time driven by a market bending reed-like in the direction of talent that may or may not deserve it. It's like getting 12 episodes of a writer with a prestige HBO series writing/producing pedigree working one of the network crime franchises. I'm sad that there are suddenly a limited number of these books to buy here and there in quarter bins; those that engaged this work on the racks are likely to be even more bummed out.
 
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Go, Look: Fort Foot

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By Request Extra: Names Being Collected For Pruett Effort

Phil Hester is apparently putting together a list of names for and commitments to an art auction to benefit the longtime editor and publishing figure Joe Pruett: first tweet, second tweet. Pruett suffered a stroke, the kind of thing that can wipe out your finances even if your insurance is up to date and paid for.
 
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Go, Look: This Might Hurt, But I'm Hungry

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Daily Cartoonist: Exit Interview With Joe Heller

The cartoonist Joe Heller was recently let go by the Gannett-owned newspaper the Green Bay Press Gazette. Alan Gardner interviews Heller. He's apparently the last fully employed editorial cartoonist in the entire state, which is depressing. I wonder how much coverage staffed editorial cartooning has these days; I'm guessing not a lot. Heller is apparently massively self-syndicated and was long expecting a move on Gannett's part, so hopefully he'll make this transition with aplomb.
 
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Go, Look: T. Motley

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Johanna Draper Carlson has a write-up on Kodansha's e-book program, which is going to be independent of a third-party service and feature very-close-to-print pricing. I guess both are controversial in some circles, although I would have to think that things are so unsettled that there's really no orthodoxy or guaranteed-success model with which to beat anyone's choices over the head. I would imagine that this is more an indignant declaration of preference than a sober analysis yielding bafflement, although both can drive the actual success or failure of such an effort.

* the FPI blog has relaunched. Very snazzy. I sometimes think about revamping this site and then I realize I don't even the time to update it the way I should every day.

* the hobby business news clearinghouse ICv2.com has a round-up of digital news from Comic-Con, some of which we've talked about here and some of which we haven't. It's a solid, succinct post, though. The comiXology news bears repeating; if there was a winner in terms of size-and-scope announcement at that show, it was likely that company.

* Gary Tyrrell at Fleen wishes Jeph Jacques both a 2500-strip and a 10-year anniversary. Tyrrell also looks at recent Kickstarter rumination and talks about what crowd-funding serves and what it might not serve. I think that's a really useful tool, but I also suspect that some of the abuses and crash-and-burns could have been avoided with a slight ramp down on the rhetoric behind the general idea of crowd-funding. But I'm sort of an old guy, so I might be more determined to think that than I should be.

* here's a link to the digital version of Matt Bors' latest. Looks like he's self-selling, or close enough to it, which means the bulk of the cash will go to the cartoonist. I thought that was a highly entertaining book.

* finally, there's a pretty fascinating article here about the "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" cartoon that ran in the New Yorker two decades ago. The upshot in terms of this columns's coverage area is that it's both found a second life on-line and that it's generated $50K in income for its cartoonist.
 
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If I Were In LA, 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 Portland, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Steven Heller Profiles Will Burtin

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* good to live in Gaineseville: Sequential Artists Workshop has announced Dash Shaw and Gabrielle Bell as teachers of Spring 2014 programs.

image* Richard Bruton on One Good Thing. Derek Royal on The Unwritten #50-51.

* a podcast reviews this year's Eisner Award winners.

* not comics: let me plop this rant in here about anticipation culture so that I can remember to go and look at the tweet-mashing site that presented it this way.

* not comics: Cameron Stewart's swell Halloween costume, circa 2000.

* not comics; Corey Blake looks at fan pushback as a symptom of personal identification being threatened, which I think is a fair way to understand what goes on a lot of the time with that kind of thing. I think those issues are fairly fascinating, really; I have a lot of sympathy for folks that really buy into certain kinds of art because they're invited to. Why wouldn't they feel discombobulated when that art gets changed on them? I don't think you can hold onto that kind of anger for very long, particularly if you're out of your teens, and some expressions of that are wholly unacceptable, but I do have sympathy for the initial reaction.

* people keep e-mailing me links to this roundtable featuring a bunch of different, talented artists, I guess because they show a level of disdain for the act of reviewing comics? I haven't listened to it yet, but if that's what it is, that sounds fair to me. No one has to like everything, and there's a really strong and sensible tradition of artists in all media not having much use for reviewers and critics. I've never read reviews of stuff I've created. Plus I've written some reviews all-too-worthy of contempt.

* there is one week until the deadline for the next issue of Symbolia. They pay their contributors, so that's worth noting. A lot of the folks that send me e-mail looking for contributors do not. I don't know their rates, but paying is something.

* not comics: I like these Chris Cilla t-shirts.

* not comics: this photo of Jim Blanchard makes me laugh; looks like a cool book, too.

* Sean McDonald talks to Warren Ellis. That's a nice PR photo there.

* a lot of folks earlier this week linked to this PR-generated story about Jim Lee putting the Jack Kirby Argo pages up for auction in order to help pay for his kids going to school.

* finally, Kit McFarlane muses on Superman.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Danny Hellman!

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Happy 77th Birthday, Victor Moscoso!

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thanks, David Scroggy
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, MariNaomi!

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August 1, 2013


Missed It: Franklin's First Appearance In Peanuts Was 45 Years Ago Yesterday

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This tweet someone forwarded to me indicates that the character of Franklin was introduced into Peanuts 45 years ago yesterday. I always liked Franklin when I was a kid; he seemed nice, mellow and accepting of his surroundings -- which Schulz mined for a bit of humor on at least one occasion. Certainly he came into the strip at a time Schulz was still on that glorious, mature-cartoonist run to end all glorious, mature-cartoonist runs. You can read that first run here. It's actually more jarring now to see him mention his dad is in Vietnam, but certainly it was the character's race that alarmed southern newspaper editors.

Franklin only stays in three days that first time, and comes back on October 15, for a short run of really funny strips. I think that's the first time Schulz poked fun at the weirdness of his characters within the strip, something he returned to in the last few years of the run.

Tom Heintjes has a nice article up on the whole affair here.

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Go, Look: Jillian Tamaki On Tumblr

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Go, Read, Listen, Watch: Steve Bell Draws US Presidents

It's always fun to look at Steve Bell's work and to listen to him talk about it: Bell has the gift of gab and draws some exquisitely cruel cartoons. I have to admit that part of my reason for looking at the article in the first place is that it had a little text, a video and an audio component; it's basically my nightmare of what all articles are going to be expected to look like three years from now.
 
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Go, Look: As The Crow Flies

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GroupThink Results: Comics Industry Coverage

imageYesterday I asked CR readers to sound off on their ideas about the future of the coverage of the comics industry, what they'd like to see and why. Accompanying that request was this attempt at a response from me.
I'm usually pretty kind to industry journalism. I think comics is fairly well covered in a lot of ways, particularly relative to writing about other art forms and their businesses. There is at least one thing I admire about all of the major groups and efforts devoted to comics in a journalistic way, and there is a lot that I feel is genuinely laudable about most of the brand-name locations.

That in mind, and with the obvious caveat that I'm in this specific line of business, I'd like to see a few things happen:

* more rational discourse about and coverage of the newspaper strip business. I think that may be one area where were better served 10 years ago with some of the coverage we had then, although that may be a completely unfair generalization.

* more site-sponsored, long-form journalism, particularly from the sites that are sites (TCJ, CBR) and that have some resources to devote someone to generating material on their own rather than in reaction to the news.

* more formal obituaries as opposed to personal reminiscences. I love personal reminiscences, particularly when they have something to say about the person that passed more than the person that's do the reminiscing. Still, I think the first draft of history is in those obits.

* fewer people working for free or for fiendishly reduced rates. I think this has an impact on everything, from the expectations we have for the quality of work that we do to crowding the marketplace in a way that makes it hard for specific folks to get over enough that what little money there is might be used to support their work.

* ownership of articles by article-writers as the industry standard, except perhaps when salaried work is involved or unless a specific deal for a specific run of columns or articles is worked out, for instance a run of news briefs for which there is likely no secondary market.

* a vast reduction in use of the word "exclusive" and of search engine optimization tactics more generally. The term "exclusive" shouldn't be used for gift-wrapped content; that word implies an achievement in securing a story greater than being the recipient of one. I also believe that all news organizations should offer original, unique content on a regular basis. An in-text "exclusive" quote from anyone other than Steve Ditko should probably be skipped.

* more writing to a general audience from our knowledgeable insiders.

* no coverage of any story that could be a story at the Daily Bugle or Daily Planet.

* I wish more writers who wrote for group sites were more careful to build up an identity of their own that the work for other sites fed into. We shouldn't have to cast around when someone quits a group blogging gig for wherever they landed; we should have a primary destination to find that out that's with us because the column had been sending us there all along.

* greater up-front participation in news stories by the major industry players and a generally more respectful attitude towards those that risk participating. At the very least, I and I'm sure others could take a pass on most of the angry e-mails from folks hoping to direct coverage by strongly asserting you should have known to better present their point of view by some sort of magic osmosis. If you object to something but aren't willing to go on the record, barring some pretty extraordinary circumstances it's difficult to take your objections as seriously as you likely hope we will.

* a better understanding of what "off the record" means. It's something you work out in advance with someone, not a morning-after pill or something you trumpet as a kind of magic spell while saying whatever. You also can't declare other people's information off the record, even if that information is about you. There's also a difference between off the record, background-only and use for non-attribution.

* a greater attention to comics works. Certain cartoonists putting out certain works should be the backbone of coverage.

* wider attention to the issue of creators-in-need. I love charities, but there is a lot more to so many people needing to ask for money than any charity can or should be expected to handle.

* to please stop using the word "comics journalism" for journalism about comics as opposed to its less weird use as meaning "journalism in the form of comics." That's just odd.

I can do better at all of these things, too.
Here are some of the responses. I really appreciated those that sent stuff in; I probably wasn't thinking really clearly that hosting a discussion of an issue in which I'm a daily participant was going to end up with more writing about CR in a non-critical way than I intended to be in here, but I know those are sincere expressions and hopefully there's enough of value to offset that. Certainly as many of the points made apply to this site as to any other magazine. If you'd like to join your voice to this discussion, including (especially) slamming this site right to the floor,

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imageMichael Grabowski

I would be willing to pay a reasonable subscription fee to support a website to pay for journalists reporting, covering, or investigating substantive news involving comics creators, comics businesses and their owners & practices, the interaction of comics with the wider world of culture, business, legal system, politics, and so on. Not stories about creators migrating across titles or companies, and not stories about character developments. But without some kind of payment model for such a website, I can't imagine any website or person regularly providing that sort of writing for such low pay.

It would also be an interesting component of such a site if some of the comics news coverage could utilize the comics form itself. Some of TCJs Cartoonist Diaries have tilted in that direction.

One current story that comes to mind is the immediate, short-term, and long-term impact that can be known and reported when a sudden void in a key position in comics occurs, usually from a death. What can we know will happen when a Jay Kennedy, Rory Root, Dylan Williams, or Kim Thompson is suddenly no longer filling a vital role in their own business or the wider comics art-industry culture? The tragic nature of death, especially an unanticipated one, and the general chumminess between people in the comics industry and people who write about it tends to minimize the occurrence of "what happens next?" questioning in the coverage that follows. Granted, that sort of news should be separated from reporting the death itself, but for instance there was no delay in attempts to report on the impact to business at Apple in the wake of Steve Jobs' death.

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Robert Boyd

Thanks for including me in your mailing. I don't have strong opinions about comics journalism. The day to day stuff is not particularly interesting to me.

I guess if I have an ideal writer-about-comics, it's Bob Levin. I'm not sure whether to call his work journalism or history; it contains elements of both. But I like long-form, personally involved non-fiction articles. You wrote one of the classics: "Witness at the Marvelution." (I just wrote one -- not about comics -- that I'm kind of proud of.) Comics could use a Grantland. So I guess if comics journalism could attract a bunch of Susan Orleans to the field and manage to pay them to do their stuff, I'd be an eager reader of the results.

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Chris Arrant

I've been putting a significant amount of thought into the broader picture of comics industry journalism, especially now that its shrugged off most of the last vestiges of the print medium with the end of Wizard and the change in format for The Comics Journal now firmly in place.

As I've described to other journalistic colleagues working in other areas, comics industry journalism primarily sits in the nexus of Entertainment Weekly for comics as an entertainment form, but nuanced to target the core audience of full-time comics fans and not to a more general audience. This, as Tom points, leaves other non-"comic book" comics formats like newspaper strips, political cartoons and even some general audience graphic novels even out in the cold in terms of coverage -- but also in terms of audience these comic industry journalism news outlets have garnered. Sometimes you write for the audience you want, but oftentimes the safer bet to keep the lights on is to right for the audience you have.

With that out of the way, here's some white whales I'd love to see comics journalism incorporate in some shape or manner:

Working on more "evergreen" comic stories to compliment the "breaking news" and time-sensitive coverage of releases coming down the pipeline. Right now the money is in getting the big story out there first, and the way the current system is set up it, by-and-large, doesn't foster the focus on evergreen features that could be featured covering broader industry issues, as well as more in-depth coverage of storylines, creators' careers, etc. For all sites, it's the newest stories on top and then older as you get down: imagine if your local newspaper did that. If a book's not a #1, a new creative team or a game-changing story-arc, it's hard to get traction on getting a story in print -- digitally, that is.

Get inside the industry: right now comics industry journalism straddles the line between its niche fan audience and being a more insider-y focus like Deadline; with some exception though, it's people on the outside wanting to know what's on the inside. I think there's a market for actual industry insider-type approach to comics as a workplace, talking hiring patterns, what the current market is like for works on the book market for creators, and the real realities of working inside comics. I understand that is a niche of an already niche market, but I think there's a highly underserved audience that would pay for a comics equivalent of The Wall Street Journal.

More upfront disclosure of conflicts of interest. I've written for comic publishers in the past, both doing actual comics and doing journalism for comic companies like Marvel. In those times I was careful not to cover those publishers' works, and if I needed to I would include a disclosure about my affiliation with them. But right now there's several staffers at comics industry journalism sites, on both an editorial and freelance writer level, who actively do work for comic publishers and also cover those same companies with nary a disclosure to be found.

Comics coverage for the common man: what do comics fan who aren't Wednesday shoppers do when they want to read about comics? They wade into the deep waters of comics news websites by-and-large devoted to fans that live and breathe comics on a daily basis. It's easy because that audience is already build up over time, changing hands from Newsarama and the Pulse in the early days over to CBR, ComicsAlliance and others in the present day. The best coverage for the casual comics fan is instead found in more geek-centric blogs like Boing Boing or one of Wired's blogs, but there exists room for something in between. The problem is building that audience.

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imageChris Cummins

You make great points. Here's some of my thoughts on what changes I'd like to see from comics journalism:

- I'm not a huge fan of articles that merely rehash the latest DC and Marvel press releases without adding any insights from the writer.

- I'd much rather see coverage of a forgotten-but-fun comic like Ocean's weirdo Popeye Special origin story from 1987 than endless news of the latest company-wide event.

- More pieces about industry veterans in need of help. This LifeHealthPro piece on Bill Mantlo springs to mind, as it ultimately eclipses the industry to become a rumination on the complexities of family and healthcare.

- Some writers are more about building up their own personality and "brand" than actually doing a decent job covering news stories. This is unacceptable to me.

- A greater amount of articles covering the lives of under-the-radar writers and artists. I'd be happier reading about a Bob Bolling, Bertram Fitzgerald or Bud Sagendorf than another piece on Steve Ditko's ideology.

- More coverage of indie books. By and large sites are doing a great job of this, but there still are so many exciting artists and books (Ed Luce's Wuvable Oaf springs to mind) that deserve more attention.

- Any writer whose insights consist of "this rocks" or "this sucks"-style mentality should be fired. There are too many hungry and talented writers out there waiting in the wings to share their intelligent commentary for this sort of "analysis" to acceptable for readers or editors.

- For the love of God, enough with the endless Kickstarters already.

Thanks for letting me be a part of the conversation!

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Josh Leto

I would love to see more journalism in all the aspects that you discussed, which basically started laying out the tenets of journalism as opposed to commentary. I read commentary because that's what is available, while I continue to long for journalism.

Your site is the first comics site I read, and the only site I read daily. I offer that as a preface so that you know that this next bit is not intended to be derisive. I can only remember one piece of journalism from your site in the last 90 days (not that my memory is something to brag about). That's the Kim Thompson obituary. The commentary and the interviews are very well done and feature quite a bit of journalism ethos, but feel different for the back and forth.

I just assumed that there was no financial benefit from any site doing journalism. I read Bleeding Cool and TCJ frequently, and ComicsAlliance and others when linked to, but generally for news and reviews, not for journalism. I remember fondly the days of The Comics Journal featuring one or two major journalism efforts per month, of which I read nearly 100%.

In my non-comics reading, I have read only one periodical consistently for the last 15 years (countless others have come and gone), and that's Esquire. I have no trouble enjoying the light celebrity interviews, and commentary, such as columns and PR dressed up as "information about interesting things," but I relish a journalistic approach to a topic that I might not have any interest in before the opening paragraphs. When it comes to comics, I would read a journalistic approach to any related topic. For example, my interest in Manga is close to zero, but a journalistic effort about the way the assembly line shops work would be fascinating to me.

One really interesting bullet in your list was "more writing to a general audience from our knowledgeable insiders." Because I know comics and the industry so well, I forget that a journalistic approach would enhance the readability of an article by "outsiders," so I agree with this wholeheartedly.

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Iestyn Pettigrew

What i would like to see more of is in depth articles detailing the history of comics, strips or companies that shines a light on unseen corners.

I feel that a lot of hobbyists put up interesting works but have little in terms on context to place them other than as oddities. I was struck when visiting the Musee d'Orsay in Paris by how they contextualised the revolution that was Impression by showing work that were well regarded or prize winning at the same time -- I'd love to see an article deconstructing why something was so different that really drew out the comparisons to work available at the time.

The opposite of that is historical importance -- how something influenced people, the building almost of canons of influence and schools of approach, like the line that runs from Jack Kirby through to Fort Thunder for example.

I think career spanning interviews with those few remaining first generation comics fans turned artists and their experiences is vital. All that information will be lost soon and some should capture it and mine it.

Sort of not journalism, but I'd love to see it anyway. Pieces arguing for the worth of works that need reviving or revisiting.

On a personal note -- more interviews, thought pieces and reviews by you or by other but of a similar quality would be deeply appreciated.

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Stefano Gaudiano

Odd -- i happened to be reading, and enjoying, your pre-and-post-Before Watchmen articles when i got this e-mail. this coincidence motivates me to attempt a response at your request even if i have very little of substance to say.

The sites i follow somewhat regularly are yours and a handful of the ones that are more pr & news vehicles for the mainstream comics market, rather than forums for discussion/analysis/exploration of the medium.

I follow CBR, Newsarama and Bleeding Cool partly out of curiosity as a comics fan, mostly because they cover my professional field and serve admirably the purpose of any professional trade publication. It's likely i would not have had a career as an inker over the last ten years, if not for an interview with Michael Lark that was published by one of those sites back in '03.

As an elder fan i love the medium, but not most of the genre titles that are produced monthly and suck up most of the oxygen on CBR and Newsarama; so i often find myself wishing there were more substantial pieces to read when i have time to do more than just skim for general industry updates. i like your notion of focusing more on creators than characters, and would be interested in more explorations of general topics along the lines of Steven Grant's occasional contributions (If not for Steven i might not have become a reader of whatever site published him in the early naughts, which would mean i would not have read the interview with Lark that prompted me to reach out and apply for the inking job on Gotham Central, which could mean that now i might be working for Microsoft, or be homeless, or even both! instead of going strong as an inker.)

Used to like a site called The Ninth Art, and a reviews-centered site by two guys whose names i forget (was one of them Don MacPherson?) TCJ looks good, but i crave more substantial work specifically on the more commercial end of the artform's spectrum -- like your articles on Before Watchmen, for example. I have no interest in reading those books, but i am interested in reading about them -- would love to read a talk with John Higgins on what motivated him in his approach to the pirate-back-up assignment that fizzled out when he and Len Wein ceased to function as a team. What an amazing connection of themes right there -- the old project exhumed and desecrated, much like the character in the original Pirate-Comic-Within-Watchmen desecrated the corpses of his own townspeople. Wein and Higgins were the only two creators carried over to BW from the original work, collaborating on the only fragment of the original story that might conceivably Not have been tainted by further exploration. and then, classic creative differences put an end to the work; something that ironically is normally not seen in corporate-owned comics. Creative differences would have killed Watchmen as dead as Big Numbers. Before Watchmen might have been immune by its nature, instead we got that aborted story somehow ennobling and deflating DC's questionable venture in equal measure.

Honestly it seems a miracle that that sort of failure-to-create-together is not more common. anyway -- that's the sort of thing that fascinates me -- a general exploration of the way things work.

I'm not sure why i don't visit Heidi's Beat more frequently than i do. I should add it to my tabs list, at the risk of distracting myself further at times when i really should not be doing more than skimming the surface for news of the world, and moving on.

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Bryan Munn

Tom, interesting topic. I second all of your notes about fair pay, transparency and the need for real journalism, but find it increasingly hard to get worked up about any aspect of superhero comics production, especially from Marvel and DC. I do think that more hard news about comics retail, sales, and stock reporting would be helpful. I don't think we will have a professional class of comics reporters until there are more than a half-dozen paid comics reporters in North America, preferably with journalism backgrounds. Not likely in a time of shrinking journalistic opportunities. The money and interest is not there and doesn't show any signs of materializing. If only a rich comics collector would endow an investigative journalism organization. Kickstarter?

In the absence of a comics trade journal or any form of guild, union, or professional association, I 'd love to see "the comics industry" such as it is covered more regularly by mainstream trade journals as well as major outlets (from Hollywood Reporter to NYT), especially from the creator/labour/rights angle. It's hard for non-actor film professionals to get any kind of coverage so I'm not holding my breath. I'd also like to see more English-language coverage of the Quebec and Franco-Belgian comics worlds and I'm very curious about current Japan comics culture outside of popular children's comics exports. I'd also like to see more reviews of and interviews with graphic novel and minicomics creators.

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imageDanny Ceballos

Let's all get off the effing internet for a moment: I can't be alone in missing great printed journalism (think O.G. Comics Journal, Destroy All Comics, the all too short run of Comics Comics zine). While I think sites like CR and TCJ get it mostly right (format and content-wise)and almost everyday deliver the goods in great writing about topical and off the beaten path comics related news, I want something I can hold and spending more than a cursor browsing minute over. I want a physical object that reflects the ideas and passions of its creators. It's interesting to think that a medium that is still largely concerned with a printed medium is by and large mostly discussed and criticized on a non-printed platform. The internet lacks permanence. It's like daily television, broadcast once and then vapor trails. A virus is coming soon to wipe our facebook smiles away and then what?

More voices brought into the fold: We often forget that some internet sites, like CR, are one inhumanly active human being trying to take it all in and put it all out there. TCJ has a nice pool of talent to lean on (Clough on minis, JOG on weeklies, Santoro on whatever Santoro finds interesting, i.e. what we need to pay attention to). I guess this would fall under editiorialship of running a site. You can't be everywhere at once, so reach out and find someone to cover that story, exhibit or convention you can't get to.

I'd like to see more coverage (has there been any) on the state of comics education and like minded resources (i.e. the soon to be opened Billy Ireland Library slash museum). It seems like this is a big story that isn't being talked about. Fer chrissakes, the current roster of professors includes the likes of Ivan Brunetti, Gary Panter, Lynda Barry, Tom Hart, etc.

Let's talk money: I have no ideas how these sites support themselves. I would pay for a subscription to CR if you had one. I'm a comics fan, so it's a proven fact that I, and I imagine others, would like to support things we like by voting with our wallets and buying a physical object. This whole the internet is free is bullshit and must come to an end.

If you want to enjoy someone's labor then put up the cash to do so. I like how Gabrielle Bell funded her recent run of July Diary. The price point she was asking for an original page of art was so ridiculously cheap, so you get the art and you get to support a creator you cherish. Isn't that a system that should be standard by now? I would buy at least 2 CR t-shirts with the Sam Henderson logo or any zines you might throw together (hand written rough notes scrawled on the floor of you Comic Con motel room). The point is I want to support artist I like and the "philosophy" of the internet concerning money to creators seems to be "fuck you make it free". Every time I see a commercial before a youtube clip I know the only ones making money off the internet are globcorporations.

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Tom Bondurant

First, the obligatory disclaimer: I can only speak for myself, not for my colleagues at Robot 6, and certainly not for anyone in the larger CBR universe.

Second, a more personal disclaimer: I don't consider myself a "comics journalist." I say that out of respect for my friends who are working journalists. I'm just a lawyer who writes about comics on the side. That probably gives me a certain detachment from the industry, but it also means I'm not as familiar with as many aspects of it as I'd prefer to be.

Along those lines, when we talk about comics-industry-related journalism, I think we have to treat it as a pretty wide range of contributors, writing on a fairly broad spectrum of topics. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "greater up-front participation ... by the major industry players and a generally more respectful attitude towards those who risk participating," but sometimes I don't see a lot of respect from the corporate-comics representatives when someone from CBR or Newsarama actually does challenge one of them. Probably the biggest hurdle those sites have to overcome is the perception -- by both readers and industry folks -- that they exist as a sort of organized sycophancy for DC and Marvel. No doubt a big part of this is the focus on story elements and (perhaps secondarily, insofar as they actually produce the stories) creative-team moves, because those help drive sales -- but to go much further would get into yet another critique of the Direct Market, and we've got enough of those already.

Still, it reminds me that I would like to see more emphasis on the production of comics. Because he was one of the special guests at this spring's MidSouthCon (a Memphis tradition for 31 years and counting!) I got to interview Terry Beatty for his spotlight panel. He's drawing the Sunday continuity for The Phantom (speaking of newspaper strips) and he does it all digitally, except that he prints out "pencilled" pages and inks them by hand so he'll have original art to sell. I think we all know generally how comics are made, but more insight into styles and processes would help bring home the personalities behind them. One of the things that frustrates me about DC these days is that I know a lot less about who's editing what. I mean, I know generally who the big editors are -- Matt Idelson, Brian Cunningham, Mike Marts, etc. -- but they all tend to run together. You'd think for all the heat it takes over "editorial control," DC would be very interested in showing that yes, its editors don't just pass along the latest directives from Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, and Geoff Johns. However, I don't see any great impetus to take on such a project (I'd take a stab at it, but it'd take me away from the weekly column for a while) and I don't know how receptive DC would be.

By the way, that Amazing Heroes cover you used is one of my all-time favorite issues, and I still refer to it when I need some Crisis On Infinite Earths research. I also wanted to mention the AH Preview Specials, because I always got a charge out of reading even the smallest tidbits about what might be coming in the next six months. I enjoyed all those pinholes of information because it gave me the sense that there was actually a collaborative process going on behind the scenes, and I didn't mind that the information was both several weeks old and subject to change over the coming months. There seemed to be more openness and transparency back then, and I welcome any journalistic shift which facilitates such an environment.

Before I forget, I want to second your call for more newspaper-strip coverage. I haven't subscribed to a newspaper since 2005, but I pay for both the United Feature Syndicate and King Features comics services, and before that I read newspaper strips online through the Houston Chronicle's website. I would love to know more about how those economic factors have changed, particularly since a number of ex-Marvel and DC artists are now working on serials like Rex Morgan, Judge Parker, and Dick Tracy.

I suppose the kinds of stories I'd like to see five years from now tend to involve actual investigation, and not just talking to whomever will talk to you. Naturally, that sort of work doesn't come cheap, whether you're talking about time or money. I really enjoyed Padraig O Mealoid's exhaustive Marvelman history over at The Beat, but I shudder to think how long it must have taken to put together. It is easier to be reactive, particularly since "breaking news" might take precedence over, say, an examination of internal DC politics during the run-up to the New 52 relaunch. That kind of shift requires a firm commitment to engage readers over a shared appreciation of craft, not necessarily plot; and before you can do that, you may have to establish a standard framework for discussing craft. We don't all have to be art history majors or literature experts, but we should know the basics, and be able to understand them as more than the means by which plot twists are delivered. Comics-journalism sites can help with that.

Ultimately, though, you have to convince people that what you present as journalism matters. I know how that sounds, but I think it's fundamental. The more we talk about the things we think are important, like creators' rights or the intricacies of the works, the more we encourage readers to at least acknowledge those things. The Internet can make anyone's experience with comics journalism as broad or as narrow as he or she wants. The challenge is to expand a reader's perceptions sufficiently, so that he or she can grasp all that comics have to offer.

Thanks for listening. I'll try to be more coherent next time.

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Ken Eppstein

In contrast to your comment about "comics journalism," I'd actually like to see more of the journalism done in the actual media form. I don't think that'd be weird at all. I'm a big fan of interviews that are presented as a cartoon, for instance. At the core of it, I think cartooning is applicable to any kind of narrative and I don't see journalism about comics being any exception.

(In that regards, have you met Julian Dassai on any of your trips to Columbus? He does a full page interview comic strip in every issue of a local monthly entertainment mag, 614 magazine. I keep telling Julian and his editor Travis that it's a pretty big deal that they're giving a local cartoonists a full page in every issue... I suppose to their credit, they don't see it as such.)

I'd like to see more profile pieces on artists, writers, publishers and retailers. Particularly those who are taking steps "outside the box" when it comes to the problems faced by anyone in the comics industry. Admittedly that's a whiny and little self serving, but not totally. For instance, I'd be interested in knowing what kind of ups and downs Oily Comics has experienced with their subscription service. I was also fascinated by the article you linked to about the curated pull lists.

Other than that, it's not so much what is being covered as how. I'd like to see the craft of journalism in comics tighten up in general. Articles that reference multiple sources. Actual conversational interviews instead of sloppy email survey-style interviews. Whatever the piece, less snark and sarcasm embedded into "news items."

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imageSteve Morris

I think we should spend less time complaining "why aren't there any...?" and more time proving that question wrong. The distinction between a reporter and a reader is that the reader gets to demand what they want to see, and the reporter then has to ensure that they get it. When people say "there are no women writers in comics", they mean to say "there's no women writers at DC or Marvel."

A fairly valid complaint in and of itself -- but at the same time wouldn't a better use of time be to say to our readers "hey look, you can buy comics by women over at Boom or IDW, maybe you could skip Marvel this month and try those comics instead?"

Every type of person is making comics. Every type of comic is being made. It's the job of comic reporters to go out and find them and share them. Every time we write a big article saying "nobody writes westerns anymore" we're acting at though Oni Press don't count! Well, stop pining for your old Rawhide Kid comics and try The Sixth Gun, folks!

Complaining gets traffic, I get that. But if we stop being so short-sighted and point people towards the women or LGBT or western-loving or African-American writers who are in comics, perhaps we can persuade our readers to try new things and explore different companies as well?

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Andrew White

I have a few comments that fall under the general rubric of your point that cartoonists and the comics they make deserve a greater share of coverage. First, I wanted to point out the particular lack of coverage of the younger set of prominent alternative cartoonists. People like, to pick a few of many possible names out of the hat, Ryan Cecil Smith or Maré Odomo or Lala Albert or Angie Wang, are doing really exciting and unique and I would say well-received work but aren't being written about or interviewed to any great extent. I believe Sean T. Collins has raised this issue a couple of times.

Another subset of cartoonists who aren't receiving as much critical engagement as they deserve is webcartoonists. Maybe this coverage exists and I'm not aware of it, but it's certainly not prominent in the places where I look for quality critical analysis of comics -- like your site or The Comics Journal. This is particularly surprising when it comes to people like Evan Dahm or John Campbell whose work is much more within the alternative comics vein than, say, Homestuck, and who I very much suspect would be more widely covered in alt-comics circles if they were published by a Secret Acres or a Koyama Press.

It's of course a challenge when there are perhaps a dozen people who write about these kinds of comics with any regularly, which I'd imagine is the only real explanation for this. However, I still think it's worth making note of it.

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Matthew Meylikhov

The one thing that I don't particularly find appealing about a lot of comic coverage and writing is how much inherent cynicism there often is very quickly when it comes to reporting news -- at least with Big Two Comics, if not creator-owned announcements. It seems the sort of de facto reaction to many announcements and revelations and whatnot is to weigh the negatives of it against every potential ounce of positive immediately (unless it is, as you say, a gift-wrapped "exclusive"), and readers certainly feed into it by responding more to take-down pieces than they do ones that perhaps spotlight something new and great they might not know about X or Y. From my interaction, anyway.

For an industry that we all claim to love enough to want to write about it daily or weekly or whatever in varying circumstance, we certainly spend too much time talking about what we hate about it. I don't think knee-jerk reactions help the discussion of what we want from comics as a whole.

That's just my two cents, though. I recognize there are hits in negativity, and that it wouldn't be any more helpful for everything to be sunny all the time always. But I know for at least me, for example, if there's a news piece I'm considering covering that I know I can't cover in a fair and balanced manner, I'll pass the reporting on to someone else who I know can do that and I'll save my thoughts for an opinionated editorial somewhere down the road. I've been guilty of the "here's the news and here is why I hate it!" post in the past, and it's something I actively try and work on to keep myself from doing too much.

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Michael Netzer

Around the same time that a previous CR note mentioned a David Simon quote referenced by Jonathan Korman on the fall of journalism, I ran into a Robert Jenson essay of similar sensibility, The Collapse of Journalism, and the Journalism of Collapse. Of special interest in the latter is how Jenson deconstructs the evolution of journalism into three primary prototypes; Royal, Prophetic and Apocalyptic, which might bear further consideration when considering to which of the three any given comics journalist intimates. I've been intending to jot down a few thoughts on the subject since bookmarking these, but life's curves insisted on tugging me away until now. So it's good and timely to have this group think as an impetus to spend a few moments on it, especially relative to what we'd like to see specifically in comics reportage in the future.

I generally like to think of most constructs as parts of a greater one that's more responsible for defining its parts than the parts themselves. and is often far from the eye, or at least distant enough from our innate desire to focus on an issue throughout any discourse about it. It's almost as strange as being told to remain on topic in some forum discussion when it seems necessary to go off on a tangent or two in order to help clarify an intent. I know this is often to my detriment because it seems most tendencies want to home in with a sharper look at detail. I can wholly appreciate that on the one hand, but I also can't help feeling that we sometimes miss out on a critical overall context by overfeeding this tendency for focus. So at the risk of blurring the picture a little before homing in on this important topic, a thought or two on my perception of current socio-cultural trends that I think should be of wider concern to the overall subject of journalism.

imageI've always sensed an inter-cultural clash brewing below the surface of our lives, but I can't remember ever feeling it as acute as it seems to me today. The growing feeling I'm getting of late, especially through the filter of the comics press, is that most news or editorial items are not as simple as a candid personal take trying to elucidate on any given issue -- or a simple disagreement over support or opposition to another. It seems to be more about how each of us makes a choice in referencing the reality we thrive in; (1) supporting the general state of affairs by applying actions and deeds toward preventing any rocking of the boat, or its essential structure, that threatens its homogeneity, which doesn't necessarily mean not being critical of less essential aspects of it; or (2) feeling enough of an overall discomfort about the same essential state of affairs, in order to voice some concern about the threat that our snowballing wider trends pose to our individual ability to cope with tomorrow's world, as it seems to be taking shape, based on our memories and perception of the line, or curve, that's led up to where we're at today -- and portends of where we seem to be going.

I also tend to think that these two primal choices are inherent components of two primal personality prototypes that more or less define the type of people we are -- and that the cultural clash resulting from a conflict between them mainly serves to strengthen the position and dedication of each type within its own prototype -- as opposed to possibly influencing one side toward changing their world view and hopefully tipping a balance toward a more desired result. I know this all seems awfully vague and detached but I think I need to say it in order to move on with more specificity, as I hope to.

Given what seems like an exponentially accelerating growth of the comics medium into nearly every imaginable area within the wide plethora of social, cultural, economic and political constructs, I find it encouraging that along with the seemingly shallow dialogue that dominates a lot of the more institutional industry press and fan exchanges, there's also what seems like a skyrocketing propensity of a lot of writers to try to rise above the commonality, or dig far deeper under the surface of news and issues in an effort to put forth a fresher perspective. One recent indication of this was the choice for Eisner Journalism Award recipient this year which was a big surprise to me because CR had also won it last year and I didn't expect it again when I voted for the site this time also. Along with this being a good opportunity to congratulate Tom on the well earned award, I think it's telling us that there's an upswell thirst among industry professionals for more depth, sensitivity and focus on the humanity behind the stories saturating the art form, as CR is known for doing. And I tend to believe this is also indicative of a desire within the wider reading audience, even though we might get a different impression by glancing any given random news-feed from major industry press circles. So it seems doubly appropriate that this group think was prompted at this site and that it will have the attentive ear of many professionals, journalists and bloggers across the medium.

One of the things I try to keep in mind when traversing the comics web community or writing something about it, is that we're in a different age than before and access is so open today that we're probably well served by taking into consideration the idea that a sizable outside readership of non-community interest is likely keeping an eye on things, or at least checking up on us from time to time. I think this type of awareness can and should affect the approach to industry press and discourse, though I know how easy it is to slip out of such cognizance sometimes, especially when focusing on specific issues geared for a pinpoint need. It might generally not be unlike the difference between an informal chat among friends relative to a panel discussion with a hefty audience at a convention. The setting usually affects the content of the same discussion, yielding entirely different results in two such scenarios, even when conducted by the same people. And although I tend to want to be a lot less formal in my life and wish that the whole world could live as if it's having an informal chat among friends, the reality is that a wider and less familiar audience seems to usually elicit more depth, sensitivity and humanity in expression, than a smaller and more cozy gathering. I'm not sure that's an applicable rule in every situation but I think it's a more common outcome than not. Extending this idea into how a wider audience affects the industry press, I sometimes wonder what the medium might look like if most of us felt the eyes of the entire world upon us, and conducted our professional industry presence accordingly.

While I tend to be somewhat in awe of Tom's ability to break down the primary issues of comics journalism and formulate a list of points he'd like to see change for the better, which I'm in major agreement with him on, I also tend to get stuck on a few that seem to me like a litmus test for the state of the medium. These have more to do with how people are paid or rewarded for their work as contributors to any of the business entities, and how the issue of creators-in-need is filtered through the comics press, as examples. I think it's understandably uncomfortable for any writer to overly indulge in the stage available to them, by using it as a crusading platform from which to raise an awareness and dialogue of a need for something to change on these basic humanitarian issues. And it seems doubly uncomfortable when realizing that socio-economic norms have become so entrenched in our culture that waging such campaigns more than often means ruffling a lot of feathers most writers are not always willing to disturb. But going back to the first posts referenced here by Simon, Korman and Jensen on the role of journalism as an agent for improving our collective state, I can't help the feeling that the comics press is generally operating under an unspoken rule that journalism cannot be expected to fulfill such a role for the comics community. This is not to say that a lot of writers aren't trying to chip away at these barriers, but I wonder if it's always being done full-heartedly enough, and with a clear enough awareness of what it'll take to influence wider policies and entrenched norms that seem to have taken root on such issues.

In a medium overflowing with visual and contextual grandeur and awe, with countless and continuous creations to cover and pontificate on, these other more immediate humane issues tend to be moved over to slower burners, perhaps giving a little satisfaction that they have some presence at all on the collective cooking fire. And though this can lend a current and temporary comfort from such disturbances to an overwhelmingly aesthetically oriented art form, I'm generally more concerned with the heavier price the comics community could eventually pay for not utilizing its clout at an earlier stage in order to stress these ethical and humanitarian needs, and the critical importance of how we collectively conduct our business -- including the sometimes injurious deviations from preferred outcomes that we often allow ourselves to tolerate.

So, if there's any one point that I'd like to see remain etched in the aftertaste of this collective think, it might be that regardless of how convinced we may be that we're all doing our very best in order make our journey as fine an experience as possible for ourselves and for everyone with us along for the ride, we can and should take note of some of the issues discussed by the three wider-journalism writers referenced at the beginning of this response, as an example of what journalistic courage, creativity and purpose can, or should, entail. Heaven knows I find myself failing miserably, time after time, to put forth a thought or idea that succeeds in being embraced to a degree that seems to have a visible effect on any proceeding or how others might think about it. But I like to think that I learn from the failures, even though I'll likely fail again, time after time, hopefully for new reasons that'll become a lesson for future efforts. What I won't do, at least I think that I won't, is give up the fight. And regardless of whatever terms we might choose to express it in, the presence and work of many comics journalists should be seen as a nothing less than a righteous crusade, because there is clearly a wide and growing apathy in place that many powers-that-be seem to be happy is there -- and journalism remains the primary tool through which to inform and incite an opposing discontent to an existing apathy. I certainly don't want to, nor like to, upset anyone too much, but I also have a difficult time remaining indifferent when certain constructs are clearly insistent on injuring our collective well-being, and that seem to be enjoying our reluctance to rock the collective boat, or even to talk about it openly among ourselves.

When all is said and done, I'd hope this will be one of the viable directions that an evolving imperative on comics journalism would pursue.

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Chris Mautner

Off the top of my head, I think the some of the problems you enumerate aren't specific solely to the comics industry but are endemic to journalism (and especially feature journalism) in general. Goodness knows I'm familiar with angry emails asking why I didn't get so-and-so's opinion and/or people that are more than happy to talk plug their latest venture but unwilling to answer tougher questions.

I would certainly like to see everyone paid better, or at least, if working for free or a menial fee, retain some ownership of their work. Everything I write for PennLive is owned by them, but I get a weekly paycheck and health benefits.

I would also love to see more multi-part stories. A series of in-depth stories on, for instance, sexism in the industry, or the financial challenges that small press publishers face, would be great. But, as you know, doing that takes a lot of work and time. And few people are willing to make that sort of commitment without any sort of sufficient financial recompense.

In general I think we still need to do a better job of highlighting the richness of medium itself and trumpeting its best examples, both within and outside of the industry. I still come across a lot of people who, when I say I read comics, ask me how much my collection is worth or who is my favorite superhero. And I know a lot of people would say who cares, like what you like and stop trying to draw other people to your cause/hobbies and they're right to an extent. But I feel like the constant infantilization of the medium not only prevents worthy creators from being seen by the audience they deserve but also holds us back financially, aesthetically and in our ability to create a shared history. I dunno. I'm not a "team comics" guy but I feel like there needs to be some sort of thoughtful outreach that goes beyond the "this is kewl" attitude but I'm probably just talking out of my hat at this point.

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Kiel Phegley

I'm just arrived in Kalamazoo after about a 15-hour day of packing shit into a 16-foot "Budget" rent-a-truck and then driving it across Chicago in close enough proximity to rush hour to make me want to become a possessionless hermit, so my jello-like brain can hardly give this a coherent response, but what the hey. Here are my things for comics journalism:

image* A more diverse group of writers on comics -- This is actually something we've gotten a lot better at over the past five years, but since the overall ratio of white dudes with too much disposable income/access to Doritos to literally every other group of human beings ever is still so out of balance, I can't not mention it out the gate. A wider range of people writing about comics through the specific lens of their experience makes writing about comics better and makes comics better in general. We should all be seeking out, recruiting and promoting different writers than we are to the journalism fold, full stop.

In particular, it blows my mind that I can't name one writer about comics off the top of my head who has a specific LGBT focus. In a time when there so many comics (both of the small and personal and big and promotional variety) being made about human sexuality, gender identity, gay rights, etc, it's crazy how much of the coverage on that material is generated by straight bros. And maybe this is just me, but going to cons the past few years, I get the sense that there's a strong Latino fan contingent growing in mainstream circles. Would love to hear more about what those guys dig.

Of course, immediately after writing that paragraph, I thought of Brett White and Elliott Serrano and felt embarrassed it took me three minutes to call them to mind. Still: more more more more, please.

* More outlets in general -- Tom, I totally feel you on the idea of better pay and more content ownership being the baseline we set for our peers. But more so than arguing for those big ideas on ethical grounds, I feel like the way forward in that respect is a big marketplace where the best outlets will give the best writers the best deals. When I started working in this business, there were arguably three big blogs on comics and two big news sites. And now there's like, what, a third more than that after a general shuffling of the deck?

With the general growth in the comics market and the pop culture buzz around what we do and make, I wish we'd see a similar growth in publications about comics. As it is, I feel like some publishers and fans are content to hand out high-fives every time some mainstream media outlet creates a "Geek" blog to run He-Man previews on. I know that it is tough financially to build a paying journalism market about anything let alone comics, but places like CBR and iFanboy started as passion projects for their creators, so I don't think growth on this front is impossible. If we support new all-comics outlets that make no money today, they may make some money tomorrow.

* More variety in the outlets we've got -- Similarly, I'm soooooo with you on your desire for more long-form writing about comics. When I worked at Wizard, having that long lead time of weeks or even months to develop personality profiles or multi-sourced trend pieces and the like over was my favorite part of the gig (it also produced a few things I still think of as my best writing in eight years on the job, but I don't think most folks ever read any of those articles, so whatever). But despite my love of doing that stuff, most outlets that exist today don't have the metrics to make that kind of writing worthwhile for their bottom line.

One of the most disheartening things for me over my years at CBR has been to see how little traction the rare long piece I get to do has with our readership. There are some great things day-to-day online comics reporting supports, but meaty features is rarely one of them. And I know there are people out there who say guys like me should be doing these kinds of stories for the love of it or with a "if you build it" attitude. But as a freelancer, if I'm given the option to get paid five times for five smaller articles that have the same readership as one bigger article that pays once (even if the pay scale is upped as an incentive), I'm going with five smaller pieces any day. I have Doritos to buy, after all.

But! Things like magazines and Kindle Singles and anthology books are built to showcase longer form work and pay out to the contributors for their effort, and we are dying for more of a concentrated effort on that front. I was super bummed that Mike Cotton's Champion iPad magazine never really got off the ground because I'm sure that could have been a place for some meaty features if it established an audience first. And does anyone know if that Bleeding Cool magazine does long form, in depth features? I only looked at it once and passed it over because it looked like it was laid out using circa 1998 Print Shop (sorry, nameless designer who I'm sure works very hard), but if someone told me they had a bad ass profile of Gerry Conway in their next issue, I'd pick it up for sure.

And it'd also be amazing to see any kind of comics-focused TV project happening, whether it be one of those syndicated dealies, through a streaming TV service or as an honest-to-goodness cable series. Does anyone else remember The Anti-Gravity Room? That was on in like 1996. There are about 45 shows on cable right now dedicated to subcultures like garbage picking and swamp trash socialites, and the best we've got is Comic Book Men? Weak.

Holy shit that ran way too long. I even had a fourth bullet point going about a more open and civil debate style, but then I remembered that I turn into a total jagweed in comment threads whenever anyone criticizes me or CBR, so I just deleted it.

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imageCorey Blake

Great topic. I think it's important we take stock collectively and individually, and always look for opportunities to learn and improve. My thoughts on some of the specific opportunities for improvement you cited, plus my own wish list of what I'd like to see in the next five years:

Yes to more comic strip coverage, plus webcomics coverage. I tried to do my part with the latter at The Comics Observer but never got a good handle on it before my own schedule squeezed it out. It also didn't help that I don't have the journalist and newspaper background like a number of my skilled Robot 6 colleagues. I don't consider myself a journalist, and usually refer to myself as a pundit, despite the negative connotations that word has for some people. It seems the most accurate, though. I provide commentary on the comics industry. I don't think commentarian is a real world.

More long-form investigative journalism would be fantastic to see. It's risky for the sites that have the resources to finance it, though. DC Comics discontinued CBR's weekly Q&A column with Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase because they weren't comfortable discussing controversies. I don't have any insider info on that incident; I had the same view on it as everyone else. Attempts are made to ask the harder questions, and when the people being asked don't like it, access is cut off. Most comics coverage sites are essentially entertainment news sites targeting comic books and the geek culture surrounding them. Entertainment news has value, but in the end it's about promoting the consumption of entertainment instead of promoting the health and longevity of an art form and its creators. I would like to see the day we have the ability to go deeper. Sean Howe's work on Marvel Comics: The Untold Story gives me hope, but even he admitted that as he got closer to the present, the less willing his interviewees became in participating.

I would like to see our industry's journalists follow the traditional Principles of Journalism as codified by the Pew Research Center here.

I'm very much in favor of more writing to a general audience. This can be an intimidating art form and industry. The more points of entry, the better.

A better understanding of "off the record" would be great. I'd love to hear it, actually. (See above re: not being a journalist.) Maybe what we need is some journalist workshops or training or schooling targeted to our industry. There are more schools of how to make comics than ever before. Maybe the next step is schooling for those that write about comics, whether that be reviewers, journalists, interviewers, pundits, etc.

One thing I've written about previously, and something I'd still very much like to see, is comics about comics. Why don't we use the very language we are most proficient at absorbing information to present information? Whether it be reviews, articles, interviews, exposes, whatever. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey's The Comic Book History of Comics might be the longer form template and there have been others in the past. There are a couple of webcomics that provide some good (or only sometimes good) satire on comics. I'd love to see a strip or page by Jim Lee addressing how DC's editorial works with upper management, just as an example. The obvious answer is that it's time consuming and takes artists away from producing pages attached to a cover price. But if The Gutters can get guest writers and artists to contribute some of that webcomics' best material, why can't news sites do something similar? An op-ed column from professionals would be an excellent start. I realize this may confuse the "comics journalism" terminology even more, but I'm willing to take that bullet.

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Joe Musich

Great questions regarding news spinning out the comic art universe. Relevancy would be my response. The greatest experience in my 60+ years of comic bookery was this past Comic Con with the blending of inclusive politics and art, i.e. the focus on the Lewis related memoir The March. The CBR link today says it was well as it could be said. Journalism either small or large J is what needs coverage and you do this better then anyone out there. Good for you. As more corporate control is being exercised more coverage of what it means is important. What points of view are washed away under that corporate tide is what I need to know about. Where are the editorial cartoon panels at cons these days ? How can the tunes be best used to keep the public informed ?

Thanks for asking. Ypou seem to be the only one who does.

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imageShannon Smith

I'd like to get a couple of thoughts on your site out of the way before I comment on your other points. The Comics Reporter is great. It is the standard of online "comics industry journalism". And since there currently exists no print "comics industry journalism" any more, I guess it's just the standard period. I'm guessing that part of the reason you posted this particular "group think" is that you yourself want your site to do a better job. I have a few thoughts. You could have more reviews. I would enjoy that. I would enjoy if you had someone like Rob Clough on your site that could plow through all those comics most of us never see and fewer of us make the time to review. I really like when you, Tom Spurgeon, review new and old mainstream comics. But I don't necessarily need either of those things. The one thing I don't have that I do need from The Comics Reporter is for it to work on my cell phone. That would allow me to move my Sunday morning reading of The Comics Reporter to the living room where the kids and the TV cartoons are. This would just mean adding to your site code what Rich Barrett reminded me is called "responsive design".

If I just took a casual survey of the state of "comics industry journalism" I could make a case that things are going very well. I could point at The Comics Reporter. I could point to writers like Joe McCulloch that are both informative and entertaining and writing at a very high level. I could point at someone like Rob Clough that is consistently, relentlessly doing the work of leaving no stone unturned in the world of small press and self publishing.

But in general, I feel like comics journalism is in a state of regression. We have a few good writers. We have a handful of very good writers. We have maybe less than a half dozen good editors. We have maybe less than a half dozen good sites that are not one man shows or solo blogs. We've lost good writers. We've lost good editors. We've lost a lot of good websites. And most of that void has been filled by people way to willing to shill for the publishers. It's just PR and talking points that have been spoon fed to the websites. That alone is not a surprise. Maybe that is how it has always been. What is surprising to me about it is that the websites still think there is an audience for that kind of material. By the time they post this stuff it's already old news. If I could speak directly to the powers that be at the big comics news sites what I would say (and they should already know this of course) is that your readership already has facebook and twitter. They don't need an individual post for every press release. It's time to grow up and cut that crap out. It's time to start being writers and not shills. Stop it with the press releases. Stop it with the top ten lists. Grow up and start writing. Because, again, your readership has facebook, twitter etc. and you are not going to compete with social media by just posting the same talking points. And posting the press release with a question mark added at the end does not really count as driving discussion on an issue. You are going to have to do a little work and actually write about the topic. And also, realize that is it totally okay to not write about the topics that don't matter to anyone.

But I'll stop ranting and get to your points;

More long form site sponsored journalism? Yes please. It's probably the main thing that separates the link bait sites from the destination sites which I will check on each week or daily. I'm not going to visit The Beat to read something I already got the gist of in their twitter feed but I will make it a point to pour myself a cup of coffee, go to the site and read one of those long history of Marvelman things. There are guys out there doing good work like that but most of it is on solo blogs and stays under the radar. The bigger sites need to do a better job of getting those guys into the fold.

But that takes some work and real writing and points to the problem you mentioned when you talked about money and the need for fewer people working for free. I don't have a solution for that. But it's a major problem. It's the main problem really. It's the reason we lose our best writers/bloggers/journalists/sites. They just can't afford to put in the time. And this is the same problem we are seeing in comics publishing. A lot of the best cartoonists on this planet right now are not making comics because they just can't afford to. They work in animation, storyboarding, illustration, design etc. and all comics can be to them is an occasional hobby. That is super depressing. And I don't know anything about making money. And I'm not sure there are any models to point to as examples of how to do it right. The only thought I really have is what if instead of 30 really good solo bloggers working for nothing, we had four or five Comics Alliances where guys are working for something? And that might not even improve the state of "comics industry journalism" but I'd feel a lot better about it. But for sure, people need to own their work. And I'd be interested in seeing the best of a lot of that work collected and printed. Some sort of annual journal of online comics writing. I'd buy it.

Something else I think we could do better is name names. Stop giving companies a pass by blaming things on "editors" or "executives". Call 'em out. There is no way they are going to participate in the discussion if you don't even call them by their names.

I'd also like to see more comic shop level reporting. We get monthly sales analysis but we don't hear much from the shops outside of the retailers that are bloggers. We don't hear much factual information about how these event comics are actually working in the shops. How many shops are there anyway? 1,500? 3000? They have phone numbers. They have websites. They have email addresses. We could ask them questions. It's not that crazy.

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Matt Wilson

First, off, Tom, let me say I appreciate you offering up this forum. This is the kind of stuff we ought to be talking about in the comics community. We should be demanding better from the medium and everything that orbits it.

As others have pointed out, many of the issues you point out aren't specific to reporting on the comics industry. They're endemic to the state of reporting in general. I have a master's degree from a pretty good journalism grad school, and I'm pretty sure that's the only reason I know what all the distinctions between on/off the record, on background and not-for-attribution are. I'm genuinely not trying saying that to brag -- I can show you all the nothing I have as a result of that degree if you want proof -- but simply to point out that the distinctions lots of people in the reporting business hold very dear are very unclear to everyone else.

imageI worked at a newspaper for about four years and now my day job is as an editor/reporter at a trade publication that has nothing to do with comics. Many times have I been told something was off-the-record after it was already said, which, by the rules, isn't actually how it works. I've had people say stuff was supposed to be off the record after publication when no mention of that was ever made during the interview -- and if a person identifies his or herself as a reporter, everything is de facto on the record. That's in journalism ethics books universally. Lots of people don't know that. They likewise don't know that "off the record" means you can't publish that thing, in any form. Not in a rumor column, not as a cheeky blind item. Not at all.

It's exacerbated a bit in the realm of comics reporting because a good many of the people doing it -- and this isn't meant as a dig, it's just the truth -- are fans first, reporters second. Or third or fourth or fifth. A lot of folks are in it because they want a platform to talk about the stuff they like or rub elbows with people they want to rub elbows with. They haven't taken journalism ethics or law classes and don't know they're supposed to. Or don't care. Call it the democratizing influence of the Internet.

That said, I do think that's getting better, incrementally. Sites have conflict-of-interest and disclosure policies now, and I think the more and more of people doing reporting at a lot of sites do have a sense of professionalism.

That could be the result of more comics-reporting sites being housed under big-media umbrellas, where things are more regimented. Of course, there are huge downsides to that. One of them is long-form journalism simply isn't a part of the equation in an internet populated with churnalism, as it's derisively called.

I love that ComicsAlliance and MTV Geek give me a platform to write longish columns about things or do long interviews, but make no mistake: It's a luxury they afford me and themselves because they earn clicks, and therefore advertising money, from the latest post about the next Marvel movie or Batman video game. We can all sit around here and talk about how much we'd love to see deeper, more involved pieces about independent comics and fewer links to movie trailers, but "TL;DR" isn't just something people cracking jokes say. Lots of people just plain don't read long pieces. And as frustrating as it is, writing about comics on the internet is a business.

Does that mean the battle for real-deal comics journalism is a losing one? It doesn't have to be. But we can't just talk about how we hope for things to get better and them assume they will. Publishers, readers and writers all have to do their part.

Readers, those of us who want long-form reporting about real issues like gender equality and race, need to trumpet the good stuff we see out there, because the way we're going to get more of it is if those articles draw tons of eyeballs. Earlier this year, I did a series of interviews with retailers about Orson Scott Card, fan demands, how the political views of creators might affect retail, etc. I was proud of them. I feel like I covered the issues pretty well, and that's something I rarely have the opportunity or time to do. They weren't the most popular articles on the site, though, because they didn't make Reddit's front page or get linked a million times on Twitter. That's got to happen if the people with the money are going to support stuff like it.

And for writers, we need to make long-form content compelling. A 2,000 word article about gender that reads like a senior thesis is not going to get anybody fired up enough to read the whole thing, let alone tell a friend to. Articles, especially on the Web, need voice. If there's one thing I've learned writing stuff on the internet for a decade or so, it's that people want personality in what they read. A lot of comics stuff is either dry or fawning.

There's lots more to say about exclusives and access (which comes back to that fans-first thing), but I think I'd better cut it here. Hope this was useful.

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Michael May

First, I'd like to echo your call for a distinction between writing about comics and journalism in the form of comics. I'm prepared to yield the term "comics journalism" to folks like Joe Sacco, mostly because "journalism" is too flattering a word for most writing about comics, including my own. I kind of like the straightforward descriptiveness of "writing about comics." It encompasses everything from reviews to thought pieces to actual journalism, and allows people at all levels of talent and expertise to share the space.

That said, I don't want using a less impressive term to excuse poor writing. As a community, comics people should be more demanding of those who write about comics. Whenever this topic comes up, I always hear jokes about the need for reviewing the reviewers, but that's not a bad idea and the scope could expand to other kinds of writing besides reviews. Maybe we don't need a whole site dedicated to it (though Dick Hates Your Blog was extremely useful), but writers about comics need to be held accountable more than they are. We need to praise the good ones more often and point out what the others are doing wrong.

In that spirit, we need more discussion to define what constitutes bad writing about comics. You make a great point about the overuse of "exclusive," for example, and the use of news sites as free advertising. And while I'm not totally against the scope of "comics news" creeping into "comics-related news," I'd love to see sites separate stories about other media and culture into their own sections, if only so we can see how much of those sites' writing is actually about comics.

There's another conversation to be had about how practical this is from an economic standpoint. Conventional wisdom says that sites are rewarded for getting stories first and using provocative headlines to bait readers into clicking. I don't doubt that's true, but I'd love a model where I could pay a reasonable subscription rate for access to some kind of boutique site with complete, thoughtful, and well-written coverage, even if it lagged a day or two behind the other sites. Somebody should be able to create something like that in the next five years.

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Darryl Ayo Braithwaite

imageThe number one thing that I miss about comics journalism is the web site The Daily Crosshatch. It breaks my heart regularly that it just lays there dormant. It provided bite-sized chunks of information about a bite-sized, micro-scale corner of the field. Occasionally, Comic Book Resources will talk to a mini-comics cartoonist. But on The Daily Crosshatch, said cartoonist was the main event. I don't feel like any entity has stepped in to fill that gap and it's ironic since mini-comics and micropress have become more interesting than ever with the rise of Retrofit, Oily, Space Face and Koyama. It bums me out that the one space that felt like "our" comics information outlet no longer operates.

I liked that their interviews were multipart and staggered so as to retain ongoing interest. I felt that their reviews skewed too positive -- but other than that, it was a fine project and one that the indie comics scene is suffering for lack of. Most people don't seem to realize how much they're missing out on in terms of functionality, content design and (sounds crass) marketing.

And their "guest comics" feature where readers and cartoonists would send in one-page strips was a fantastic idea.

Comics journalism needs another small site, is what I'm getting at.

Anyway, that's what I think.

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posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: NonCanon Dot Com

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posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Just One Crushed Peanut

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posted 5:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Derf's Last Strip For The Cleveland Plain-Dealer

I've already called attention to the fact that Derf Backderf and his The City were terminated by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. I might not have placed it in the proper context of that once-proud publication's recent round of horrific-sounding layoffs and the latest, darkly comedic attempt by an ownership perhaps upset their profits aren't what they used to be to palm off a wounded not-every-day paper hammered halfway through the round hole of Internet publication as some sort of new media enterprise led by marketing executives; I thought you might want to look at the last strip here.

One thing that a strip like Derf's does well in the context of a newspaper is that it doesn't have to be limited to the presentation of ideas that fit conventional event narratives. As is the case with this strip, Derf can just pulverize some broader notions -- CEO pay, for example -- without having to tie it into something "fair" or "newsworthy." It's a powerful weapon for papers, and all the great, worthwhile ones had a really good cartoonist available to them, and in some cases more than one. For a couple of decades, the alternative press either had their own or shared a really solid group of about a half-dozen, a group to which Derf was a late but valued addition. We always remember those moments in cartooning where an individual offering meets history in a way that is poignant and affecting, but the quiet insistence of cartoons is important, too, their ability to not give up on an issue or a point of view. There are fewer papers now, and fewer slots, and fewer good cartoonists let alone great ones; we are poorer as a culture for their growing absence.
 
posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Kenan Rubenstein

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posted 5:05 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* here's a report in comics form on a comics convention in Glasgow.

* one thing I wondered after during last month's Comic-Con International is if there were any additional security measures on concerning who was allowed to enter and where. I was stopped twice by security entering random front doors and was directed to the place where press registers. Even though I was already registered, I was told this was the only place I could enter. So I wondered if they were wrong or if that might have been something the convention did. Turns out the security was just wrong. CCI's David Glanzer:
As I had suspected and hoped, that information was incorrect. Once the doors open press can access the hall from any door that any individual can access. It's only in the morning before the hall is open that they are directed to the press registration area.
So that's nice to know. I ignored both admonitions, which was sort of a dick move and I apologize for it.

* six weeks until SPX. Yikes.

* this interview with the aforementioned David Glanzer suggests Comic-Con is still hoping for a WonderCon in San Francisco and is also looking at Anaheim because of the SF venue's unwillingness to work with them more than six months ahead of time. I sort of hope that maybe they expand their Fall show away from the alternative stuff because that part of the calendar is so stuffed with similar shows, keep the Anaheim spring show, and do a more mainstream show in November or whatever, but I'm probably in a minority on that one.

* finally, even without some major players setting dates as of yet, the 2014 calendar is firming up, at least for the first half of the year. No big conflicts as of yet.
 
posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: The Never Give Up Image Explored

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posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* another interesting process post here from Colleen Doran about restoring some older work. We always assume that certain comics are going to be around forever and be perpetually available in pristine copies, and the truth is that this is very difficult to achieve.

image* James Bacon on The Earthbound God.

* it seems astonishing to me that more than 20 years has passed since John Byrne had that run with the Namor character at Marvel. I think of that as one of Byrne's later projects.

* here's a literary journal that's accepting submission for a comics issue. It doesn't look like they pay anything, which would make me look elsewhere, although there's a long tradition of people using literary journals as a springboard to a specific kind of audience so I'll leave those issues up to you. I'm saying you should check, basically.

* here is a run of photos from the first iteration of The Projects, the Portland comics show with a non-commercial orientation that debuted last year.

* Sean Howe talks to Chris Claremont. Caleb Goellner talks to Vincent Iadevaia.

* it's beginning to feel super-odd to a lot of people I know that Stan Lee spends so much time at conventions.

* not comics: this Frank Stockton mini-gallery is fun.

* I don't know why I have a link to an eBay auction of someone selling over two hundred issues of Justice League Of America, but there you go. I liked some of those comics when I was a kid, the ones from the 1970s and the very first ones.

* not comics: some days I'm not sure there's a comics equivalent to cinephilia, and other days I think all of comics is like this.

* I haven't seen a whole lot of scans of Howard Chaykin originals, let alone indy-iconic images like this one.

* finally, here is a pair of deeply handsome comics magazines.
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Mark Newgarden!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 26th Birthday, Michael DeForge!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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