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
















September 30, 2013


Go, Look: Ronald Searle's Berlin Wall Drawings

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Cartoonist Charges Threats By Preacher's Supporters

A freelance cartoonist who engaged the subject of Asaram Bapu's arrest for sexually assaulting a minor has apparently reached out to police after a number of threats of physical harm from people that claim to be Bapu followers. This includes getting at Arvind Sharma through his Facebook presence, which I find interesting as a way to facilitate this kind of aggressive reaction.
 
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Go, Look: Vaughn Bodé Art In IF Magazine

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Go, Read: Majed Badra Update

This short piece on Palestinian cartoonist Majed Badra doesn't contain a whole of new information about being denied an opportunity to travel to the US because of specifics in his cartoons, but that story intrigues me enough that I'm not sure I care. That kind of objection to material feels new to me in a way that I can't figure out.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Kirby OMAC Splash Pages

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Go, Read: Joe Sacco Has A Corgi Named "Funny"

That fine cartoonist and excellent human being Joe Sacco is profiled "visit-to-the-studio" style by the Telegraph. It's the first piece of PR-driven Sacco material I've seen in support of The Great War, one of the books I'm greatly looking forward to seeing before 2013 slinks out the door.
 
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Go, Look: King Leonardo Cover Gallery

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Go, Read: Piece On Karen Evans Joining Luann

I thought this a fascinating piece on the state of the newspaper strip, albeit through the mirror of a strip that launched nearly 30 years ago. Karen Evans will join her dad Greg Evans as a co-creator on his Luann.

The hook for this piece and I imagine others like it is that Karen was the initial inspiration for the strip's lead, and this puts her in much the same situation as Jeff Keane on Family Circus. For me, what's interesting is the details and musing on the basic set-up of that strip. I don't know that I knew the client count on that feature, for example, and it's interesting that the musical still works its way into a core description of the older Evans.

As for what I mean by basic set-up, I'm interested in the fact that Luann was around in a day where that industry was established so that a lot of sales momentum could accrue to work with a good idea in an business-offering sense. When my father's paper bought Luann my memory is they bought it because the main editor right below my dad wanted a strip that targeted his then-teenaged daughter, whether or not it would actually appeal to her -- it just seemed like a good idea to have a strip like that. There were a lot of strips during that time period that distinguished themselves that way in addition to whatever they had to offer in terms of an artistic voice. That feels like a way-bygone era now.
 
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Go, Look: The Art From Batman Adventures #3

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Go, Look: Josh Cotter Has Migrated Full-Time To Tumblr

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the Yeti Press subscription-style fundraiser has almost certainly met its initial goal by the time this post rolls out, but you still might want to get on board.

* here's a modest crowd-funder for a strip with which I'm completely unfamiliar, Miserable Comedians.

* don't know if it's tied into anything special other than the need to have money for the overall grind of life, but these Dave Lasky pages are a total bargain.

* finally, DC Entertainment is doing another round of fundraising for their admirable effort in Africa. If you like DC Comics stuff, that might be a place for you to do some good.
 
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Go, Look: Even More ERB-Related Fanzine Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* team KutiKuti: I enjoy the comics, and it looks like I would greatly enjoy them as festival guests.

image* I totally missed that Kevin Melrose found an article on the Amazing World of Superman road-not-taken.

* Paul Di Filippo profiles Ed Renfro. Kiel Phegley talks to Axel Alonso and Mark Millar. Matt D. Wilson talks to Emily Carroll.

* Ben Schwartz comments on the recent Ivan Brunetti New Yorker cover.

* Paul Constant on Woman Rebel. Rich Barrett on a bunch of different comics.

* what Charles Hatfield is reading.

* there's a preview gallery here of a new book featuring cartoons from Private Eye.

* how Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee changed modern comics history.

* finally, man has a point.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mahendra Singh!

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Happy 36th Birthday, David Baillie!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Deni Loubert!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Kieron Gillen!

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September 29, 2013


A Few Notes About MIX 2013

imageTom Spurgeon

* so I attended MIX 2013, which is an academic driven but not dominated event in Columbus, Ohio on the campus of Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD), and organized by one of its professors, Robert Loss.

* the festival is in its second year. The main guest last year was Chris Ware. The main guest this year was Jeff Smith.

* I had a very enjoyable time.

* I was in Columbus for a relatively long time, actually, a little more than a week, due to the way my travel worked out and the availability of a place to stay, both things for which I'm greatly appreciative.

* one air travel note, aimed specifically at the two or three people out there that might still have their "Artbomb" t-shirts. You know, the ones with the grenades on the front? Not the airlines' favorite shirt that you will ever wear. Stick with a classic.

* okay. MIX.

* it's a nice city, Columbus; it has all the Midwestern city virtues without the haunting, melancholy presence of a now-faded industrial past. I can't figure out exactly why that is, but my guess is education, government and insurance are dominant non-industrial business sectors that are reasonably recession-proof. That doesn't mean there aren't different classes in evidence there, there's just not that doomed quality I'm used to from cities between the Rockies and the Alleghenies.

* the CCAD campus itself is a classic downtown university area: a mix of buildings constructed for the purposes of teaching and housing students, and a bunch of buildings from the neighborhood reclaimed and re-purposed as classrooms, offices and studio space. I like the physical part of that campus very much. It being the Midwest, everyone was really friendly. It was not the nicest part of town, but it wasn't anywhere near a bad part of town, either. There were a couple of missions near CCAD, including a very active-seeming one about two blocks north of northernmost campus buildings. At the same time, it was maybe a three block walk west to a row of expensive looking condos and then another block or two to a series of office buildings teeming with workers flowing in and out.

* there are a lot of schools in Columbus.

image* I wrote about seeing Gary Panter lecture at CCAD here. He wasn't there for MIX, but his appearance's proximity to the show proper allowed for a kind of soft roll-out of events.

* I got to spend a little time with Panter on Tuesday after his visit to the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum space. He and Jeff Smith spent some that afternoon looking at a bunch of stuff from their permanent collection, including work by TS Sullivant and Bud Fisher. At dinner on Tuesday, Panter talked about some of the original art pieces he owned, a not-surprisingly idiosyncratic and eclectic selection. Panter and I had coffee after dinner and went deep into the current publishing landscape, his forthcoming oversized Jimbo work and life as an artist more generally. It was great to see him. Everyone in Columbus loved the guy, and students were beaming over specifics concerning his studio visits a few days later.

* Panter hit the road on Wednesday to rejoin his band and play some music.

* I wrote about visiting one of Robert Loss' classes here. That was fun, and it was nice to see a lot of the students attending MIX events over the weekend.

* got over to the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum space myself for the first time since they moved from their longtime basement space into the much larger space for which they've been diligently and heroically raising money for years. Their grand opening is in November, but there were already students manning the desk in the reading room when I visited.

* as for the space... um... holy shit.

* there are multiple elements to the new digs: I started in a reading room with so many bookshelves the old reading room library takes up about ten to twelve percent of available shelving (they will move more books into the space over the next several weeks). This room -- where you would go if you needed something from the library and have it brought out to you; their holdings don't circulate -- will be named after Lucy Shelton Caswell, who started the library and for whom I hope this Fall is a major appreciation period from all of her peers and all of us in comics. The reading room all by itself, if that were the only thing available, would be kind of an amazing thing. But there is so much more. The reading room is to the right of a grand lobby, decorated with a Billy Ireland-festooned stained glass piece and big enough to echo. It will eventually get Ireland's desk and maybe one or two other pieces. The reading room is below a gigantic, multi-purpose classroom and hosting space which they will control and schedule for use (there's a kitchen adjacent to the social space). Back down on the first floor, the reading room is across the lobby from the offices, including an administrative space, individual offices for Jenny Robb and Caitlin McGurk and I would have to think Caswell but I didn't check, devoted reading/sorting/filing areas, and a film shooting area. This space leads to a locked, gigantic backroom area of stacks into which their holdings will settle, about the size of an athletic field. On the second floor, across from their dedicated classroom, they have a gigantic, three-pronged gallery space supported by a mounting room, complete with display casings and mucho wall coverage area. The gallery space will be broken down to one permanent display and two revolving ones. The first show, the one that goes up for the festival weekend, will actually cover both of the latter two spaces: it's to be curated by Brian Walker and you could see names like "Ware" and "Buscema" marked on paper on the floor underneath where the art will go. Leaving the gallery, there is also some shared-area stuff, like a fancy rotunda facing the main road and a freaking auditorium they'll make partial use of.

* in other words, it's ludicrous. It's shut your mind down incredible in terms of the kind of physical plant generally afforded this kind of thing. It's step-into-another-universe weird. The new Billy Ireland is the best specialty library space I've ever seen of any kind, the best classroom and office set-up I've seen for any comics enterprise, and boasts the most attractive gallery spaces I've seen devoted to comics. It's insane. You'll see a ton of pictures in November from the grand opening, but I was impressed. Good for Caswell, Robb and McGurk in terms of raising that money and getting that move (partly) done. They still have a ton of work to do, but you can see the shape of it. It's a pleasing shape.

* I am super-grateful to Caitlin McGurk and Jenny Robb for showing me around.

* CCAD was hosting two gallery shows related to the MIX show. That was a really good space, as well: modern and clean and definitely multi-purpose. The comics stuff covered about half of it. There was a show of Gary Panter's paintings, and a display of Jeff Smith's RASL work. The Panter show was a lot of fun, hung in a straight-forward fashion in a space near the lobby. It was paintings, all about two feet by three feet in size; a variety of subjects familiar to anyone that's spent time with Panter's work. I was very fond of a cowboy piece that might remind those who know Panter's story of his father's artwork.

* the RASL display was very cleverly arranged. The major throughway for access was a small hallway holding works of influence over the newly collected work: a screen playing noir films; a copy of a Kamandi work (Smith referenced Jack Kirby's character in designing RASL's lead); that kind of thing. Across from the hallway is a giant of RASL's dimension-hopping art-thief hero, which was very eye-catching. A small shelf held about five copies of the collected work for easy access and hands-on perusal of the comics themselves. There were about a dozen clusters of pieces, including two groups that I think were there to off the narrative in original-art form. There was one group of very attractive cover art images, and one of studies of historical figures and related photos that resulted in images that Smith dropped into RASL during its lengthy Tesla-related sequence.

* the belle of that particular ball was a life-sized model two students created of the story's hero, complete with the dimension-hopping machines placed on his shoulders and a bottle of liquor on the floor behind him. I saw a lot of people looking at that part of the exhibit and laughing and giving one of those bemused "what in the hell...?" At his keynote conversation on Friday evening, Smith recognized those artists and they got a healthy round of applause.

* ran into Laurenn McCubbin a bunch of times during the weekend. She's teaching at CCAD now, and is new enough that some of the comics folks at various times said something along the lines of, "I didn't know she was here until a couple of days ago." It was really nice to see her. She noted that as she's lived in the Midwest before -- Chicago and Kansas City -- that there wasn't much of a transition period in getting used to Columbus, and that she was enjoying her city and her new teaching gig.

* the idea behind MIX is that you get the usual academic presentations made but that you also have creators and interested comics-people on hand for general exchanging of ideas in and out of those presentations, a series of workshops, and what I would say is traditional comics-panel type stuff.

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* there was a small table for commerce manned by a bunch of nice folks including -- I think primarily -- Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics. I quite liked this poster-piece by Katherine Wirick of her Kent State-related comics. I thought that was very attractive. Eppstein told me that sales were pretty solid out there; and the table definitely looked considerably less encumbered by show's end.

* I saw this Eppstein-facilitated comic several places around time.

* I haven't been to a series of academic presentations on comics since being around for a couple of years of the ICAF/SPX marriage in Bethesda. I think just as panels have improved since the late 1980s with repetition and judicious application of technology, so have academic presentations. Nearly all of them had tailored visual accompaniment, and all of the presenters seemed happy to be sharing the work while displaying some skill in doing so.

* this is probably due to how Robert Loss and whatever system or people he used to facilitate this, but the presentations were really light on jargon and hardcore academic analysis and instead presented their ideas in a fashion where someone like me could understand what the hell was going on without becoming baffled. I realize that if I say that it sounds like the work wasn't rigorous, but I honestly don't know if that's a factor. I suspect it could be as much if not more that the kind of presentations I was seeing were really solid in terms of presenting their ideas -- just the fact that it was a presentation rather than a testing period, or a peer review, probably made those presentations what they were. If you read the occasional academic book, what it reminded me of was the work of Bart Beaty or Charles Hatfield, where there does seem to be all of the meticulous attention and theorizing you would expected with such a work, but it's presented in a way that allows you to engage the ideas driving the discovery and application of new material.

* I enjoyed the straight-up academic presentations I saw. It was like going to the idea store.

* like to give you an idea, this the first series of presentations I saw, "Women And Culture In Comics," moderated by McCubbin. There were four speakers: Tiffany Pascal on "Tiffany Pascal on “Bleak Manhua, Bright Manga: Subversive Realism in the Work of Hong Kong’s Female Comic Book Artists," Azisa Noor Koesoema on "The Girl in the Hijab: A Study of Female Character Representation in Indonesian Islamic Comics," Grace Gipson on "Who Says Storm Is The Only Black Superheroine? An Interpretative Textual Analysis Of The Black Superheroine," and Tammy Birk on "Gay Shame, Gay Pride, and the Risk of Intimacy: Reading Julie Maroh's Blue is the Warmest Color." They all gave me stuff to consider.

* what I remember of Birk is her affectionate reading of the material, which she went into at some length, and the representation of physical intimacy on the page as well as the use of the color blue. Apparently the film favors a class difference over the intricacies of the physical relationship that Birk found so thrilling. Pascal suggested that Hong Kong has more of feminist comics scenes and that this ties into that area of the world's fundamental isolation from -- and later fascination with -- the rest of the world. She also provided three or four names of cartoonists I'm going to dig into once I get home. Noor Koesoema suggest that Indonesian Islamic comics objectify women spiritually rather than physically, all the way down to convincing guys that they "deserve" this idealized person. Grace Gipson I expected not to be so interested in, but her process intrigued me. She basically had a bunch of students create a black superheroine and then dissected how in each case they constructed their character -- what was important to them, what kinds of narratives they used, and so on.

* I mean, I would have sat there just to hear about Koesoema's work. So to get four in the space of 80 minutes was pretty great.

image* on Friday afternoon I did a panel moderated by James Moore on the emerging Columbus cartooning scene. I was on the panel with Jenny Robb, Bob Corby, Ken Eppstein, whom I recognized, and Jeff Stang from Laughing Ogre, that entire region's primary store of note, whom I did not. Robb presented a few slides previewing the space. Bob Corby showed photos from the 1980s generation of mini-comics makers and talked about the growth of SPACE -- I had forgotten that show is pretty much SPX's cousin in that they both sprang from the Spirits Of Independence Tour stops in their respective areas back in the mid-1990s. Corby also had all of his badges from over the years -- I love how people keep their badges; I know about a dozen people who still basically have every badge from every show. Eppstein provided a local publishing voice and was able to contextualize comics within the Columbus music scene. Stang provided perspective on the kind of support that a store like Laughing Ogre can provide local cartoonists. I played bass.

* bunch of stuff talked about. I was impressed that Laughing Ogre buys comics from local comics-makers in addition to devoting a space in the store for them. A lot of stores do consignment for non-Diamond ordered material, which I understand, but actually buying the comics is a boon to those comics-makers so I think that's great when a store does that. There was a lot of talk about the increased quality of local media coverage, just how many cartoonists and comics-makers are in the area now (Eppstein said it may be 150) and the potential of the Billy Ireland space opening as a place to facilitate elements of the local cartooning culture (use as a meeting space, an attraction for out-of-town cartoonists, etc.). It was noted that Columbus had a lot of physical advantages as a place cartoonists may want to start heading: it's cheap to live there for the level of cosmopolitanism it offers, it's centrally located in terms of getting to shows particularly east of the Mississippi and there's enough of a winter and even a sticky summer to allow for lengthy periods of sustained work inside. We even talked about Bruce Chrislip.

* at the panel, Jenny Robb announced that the shows to follow the opening show at the Billy Ireland exhibition space will feature Bill Watterson in one of the spaces and Richard Thompson in another. The latter will be the first show at the museum curated by Caitlin McGurk.

* had dinner with a small groups of MFA students, Loss, McCubbin, Jeff Smith and Vijaya Iyer where we talked about a whole mess of arts-related issues. One of the spaces the school has is a converted car dealership, so there was cool like driveway leading into the space. There was a chalkboard with drinking-game rules for Space Jam, which almost made me want to suffer through Space Jam again. Almost.

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* I was primarily on hand this week to interview Jeff Smith for the keynote conversation, which took place Friday night to a packed auditorium. I wanted to cover the breadth of Smith's career without depending on intimate knowledge of his works in order to follow along, but I wanted the questions to be challenging enough that if you've heard Smith speak before, or read an interview, there'd be enough new material there for you.

* I think it went pretty well.

* Smith is great in front of audience. We were sitting in these Brady Bunch-looking chairs and I had a remote in my hand to move the slides, which made us look like two really old versions of a couple of teenagers in someone's basement watching a Cheech and Chong tape that somebody's Dad taped off of early '80s HBO. Or an alternate-universe Wayne's World with Jeff Garlin as Wayne.

* before we started -- it was a packed house -- the dean of the school came up on stage and crushed our writing appendages with his giant, endowment-facilitating hands. So if Jeff's new webcomic venture starts late, we know who to blame.

* just to be clear: Jeff's webcomic isn't starting late.

* there wasn't a bunch of stuff I didn't already know that I learned in that interview, but it's always nice to hear from an artist about their work.

* Smith is one of the first cartoonists that I remember that seemed to work on how to present his work to an audience in more than a "well, here it is" way. I have a hunch that was more general restlessness and curiosity on Smith's part than a calculated effort to win hearts and minds, but it works.

image* Smith's impulse to self-publish Bone came out of his frustration with the development process for syndication. We talked a bit about how his animation work and desire to work on a strip had an effect on how he did comics -- I think the way he always underlined character traits in the early Bone comics comes from those traditions. We talked about the general distrust of fantasy work that existed in the early 1990s, the friends he picked up along the way working in that general independent milieu, how art serves as a reassuring through-line in RASL, that kind of thing. I did remember to ask him what it was like the first time a grown-looking adult told him that they read his work when they were a child. (Spoiler: it was weird.)

* don't think I knew that Smith considered doing Robin Hood as a follow-up to Bone, although he had settled on RASL far before Bone ended -- he did the Shazam work for DC in part because he needed a bit more time to develop RASL, not because he hadn't settled on a next project.

* he recommended the comics of Sam Alden.

* we ended with that question from the audience on the RASL statue.

* I had a really good time doing that, and appreciate both the opportunity and Jeff's generosity in answering questions.

* there was a signing after the conversation. They sold out of Smith's books including the new RASL, and Smith signed for what must have been a couple of hours. I think Smith has been pleased by the reaction to his latest book at the first few stops he's done for publicity; I bet he has a readership of a kind now that will have been waiting on RASL rather than reading it in serial comic book form. He's off to Chicago next.

* there was a tremendous amount of goodwill aimed at Smith as an area creator but also as a key creator for a lot of people born post 1980 as a key influence in terms of their love of comics.

* early on Saturday I ran into Tony Isabella in my building. I got to meet him at San Diego and it was nice to see him again. He did that super-kind thing where he walked with me a little bit even though at some point without letting me know this he knew he'd have to peel away and go back to his room before joining me. Anyway, good to talk to him.

* had a nice conversation with Carol Tyler about her punk-rock days and baton twirling, because Carol Tyler is awesome. Later that day she told me a book idea that's as good as any I've heard in the last five years. I hope she makes a fortune.

* later that morning I attended a workshop facilitated by Victor Dandridge, a local writer and publisher. He also moderated the panel related to a film on black masculinity in 1960s/1970 mainstream comics later that day.

* Dandridge is extremely personable and a very good advocate for his own work -- not every cartoonist is both of those things, and some aren't either one. It was extremely interesting to me to see how he arranged his morning presentation, what ideas he hit: for instance, he talked about the divide between certain kinds of comics-making we sometimes do as mainstream/alternative/independent and which he described in terms of "indie vs. indy." He talked about building the brand, which is the kind of thing that usually makes my eyes glaze over but was fairly interesting when he talked about separating the brand from the person a bit in order to frustrate blowback from things you might do in the public arena. He also talked in very candid terms about money: how much tables at conventions cost, when and where to sell your work according to opportunities that might arise, rolling with the punches when expectations fail to cohere in reality.



* that afternoon's featured presentation was on a short documentary called White Scripts And Black Supermen about a variety of topics swirling around black superheroes from the 1960s and 1970s filtered through the director's experiences with them as a kid. I enjoyed the film and the follow-up panel. It was teeming with fascinating ideas, and a couple of interesting bits of comic-book history. There was a really great short interview with Tony Tallarico about his Lobo comic at Dell, a western featuring a black, male lead that was refused by distributors along with everything else in the Dell stacks that came with it -- it was heartbreaking to see him kind of matter-of-fact still struggle with why that idea didn't work, that wall of racism into which he once smashed. Dwayne McDuffie's interview segments were generally excellent, and the scholars across the board were funny and interesting.

* I think the primary value for me was seeing the presentation of criticisms of the problematic aspects of certain superheroes. While it's kind of easy to lay into the bizarre qualities of DC's pantless, singing Tyroc, I'm not sure that I'd heard the specific analysis here of characters like The Black Panther (the imaginary country of Wakanda becomes a lost opportunity to empower an actual African country; the Kirby solo run puts the Black Panther into a secondary role) and Luke Cage (his attention to making money played into a stereotype and made him less noble and aspirational than a lot of young readers hoped). There was a throwaway line in there about black skin being treated as "hard," kind of an armor unto itself, that could drive an entire book, I bet.

* I thought Dr. Jonathan Gayles was very appealing in the follow-up panel; that was a wide-ranging discussion from that careened from a discussion of specific members of The Blood Syndicate to Luke Cage's role in Alias #1 to various generational differences in how characters might be perceived. I hope I can do more on the film; just that there's more Dwayne McDuffie interview time I haven't seen yet -- his statements in the film on how DC lost an opportunity for a first-tier black character by not building on John Stewart's popularity in the Justice League cartoons were forceful and eloquent -- makes me happy.

* Tony Isabella was very funny on the panel, and told that great story he has about DC wanting to do a black solo-title character that was was actually a white racist -- a kind of walking EC Comics final-panel twist as a series lead.

* the last even I attended was a presentation made by a group of female cartoonists that meets in Columbus on a regular basis, with Carol Tyler along to provide an historical perspective in terms of her nearly 35 years in comics. Tyler is always very funny in front of an audience, and talked in pretty uncompromising terms about pursuing what you want to pursue in art. The affirmation received in doing comics, and the projection of one's self onto specific favorite comics characters was something that came up more than once. There was also a refreshing amount of admitting ambiguity about one aspect of art or another. It was a nice ending to a fun weekend. I missed the after-party.

* met Rafael Rosado briefly. He told me that he was working on a sequel to Giants Beware, which was a nice-looking First Second book. I did not know that.

* talked to a lot of happy academics and local folks on my way out the door. The writer James Moore expressed how different it was to be at a comics show where there wasn't an overriding commercial impulse, where that was being taken care of at a festival store rather than through the efforts of individual artists. I imagine that would change just about everything.

* I don't have any idea how the numbers break down, or even a context for what would distinguish good numbers from bad. Loss said he was pleased. I can't imagine 10 more people could have fit into the room for Smith's talk.

* the framework of the show seems strong. I like it conceptually, and the execution is pretty far along for a second year show given the expectations folks have for shows now. While there a was a technical snafu with the keynote conversation, for example, they had people on hand to fix things. I think that bodes well for the future. An academic conference on comics to which everyone is invited is a nice way to get to a non-commercial model for a comics show. I think the potential liability expressed to me by several folks -- variations of "I'm not sure who this show is for" -- will diminish even further as more iterations of the show come together. I would not be surprised to see CCAD build on the to add more of a comics focus institutionally. More importantly for this piece, I think they have everything they need to execute a quality show in years to come. Hats off to Robert Loss. I encourage any A-list art comics folks with a Fall book in the years ahead to have our people touch base with Loss, and would recommend anyone in the area with an appetite for feedback on and discussion about comics make room for that show in your life according to your ability to attend. I would be happy to do the whole thing over again.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: More Nell Brinkley

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Not Comics: Frank Frazetta Illustrates Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Go, Look: Nickel Comics

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Go, Look: Headline Comics #23

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Go, Look: Ibis The Invincible #5

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OTBP: Jeremiah

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Go, Read: Is Bill Mauldin's "Back Home" A Graphic Novel?

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

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

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Happy 48th Birthday, Jennifer Daydreamer!

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Happy 87th Birthday, Russ Heath!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Nicolas De Crécy!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Tim Vigil!

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FFF Results Post #352 -- Love And Rockets Covers

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Favorite Love And Rockets Covers." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Vol. 1 #23
2. Vol. 1 #24
3. Vol. 1 #28
4. Vol. 1 #31
5. Vol. 2. #2

*****

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Jeffrey O. Gustafson

1 - 1.24
2 - 1.36
3 - 2.1
4 - 1.50
5 - 1.23

*****

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Jeffrey O. Gustafson

I couldn't stop at five, sorry!

6 - 1.9
7 - 1.11
8 - 1.37
9 - 1.17
10 - 1.47

Jaime heavy ranking, but, hey, Jaime for life.

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1) vol.1, #24
2) vol. 1, #29
3) vol 1, #39
4) vol 2 #1
5) New Stories, #4

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. Vol. 1, #44
2. Vol. 1, #20
3. Vol. 1, #16
4. Vol. 1 #37
5. Vol. 1 #38

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Vol 2 #5
2. Vol 3 #3
3. Vol 3 #5
4. Vol 2 #18
5. Vol 2 #14

*****

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Mike Lynch

1. Vol. 1 #1
2. Vol. 1 #15
3. Vol. 1 #50
4. Vol. 1 #5
5. Vol. 1 #20

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Vol. 1 #24
2. Vol. 1 #21
3. Vol. 1 #3
4. Vol. 1 #38
5. Vol. 3 #1

*****

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Billy Franco Arias

Vol. 1 #23
Vol. 1 #3
Vol. 1 #24
Vol. 7: The Death of Speedy
Vol. 1 #32

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Vol. 1 #24
2. Vol. 1 #33
3. Vol. 2 #13
4. the self-published (black and white) #1
5. Vol. 1 #8

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. V1 #9
2. V1 #20
3. V1 #24 (one of my absolute favorite covers on any comic)
4. V1 #33
5. V2 #1

*****

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John Platt

1. Vol. 1 # 11
2. Vol. 1 # 39
3. Vol. 2 # 14
4. New Stories # 1
5. Vol. 1 # 5

*****

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Fabio Antibas

1. Vol. 1 #24
2. Vol. 1 #29
3. Vol. 2 #16
4. Vol.1 #11
5. Vol. 1 #33

*****

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Bob Temuka

1. Vol. 1 #11
2. Vol. 1 #24
3. Vol. 1 #28
4. Vol. 2 #6
5. Vol. 2 #16

This was the hardest one ever, Tom. Because they're all so fucking good.

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Vol. 1 #3
2. Vol. 1 #11
3. Vol. 1 #39
4. Vol. 1 #50
5. New Stories #1

*****
*****
 
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September 28, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Hogarth, Druillet, Buscema: 1972


Woodrow Phoenix Profiled


Theo Moudakis Profiled


Meet Jules Feiffer


Trubble Club Reads The Infinite Corpse


A Bill Frisell and Jim Woodring Collaboration
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from September 21 to September 27, 2013:

1. Akram Raslan feared dead.

2. The BCA releases its short list of nominees.

3. Retailer announces move away from new comics; whether that's a sign of weakness (a shop earmarking new comics as unworkable) or health (you can have a comic shop that specializes in old comics) concerning the Direct Market remains to be seen.

Winner Of The Week
Team Cartozia

Loser Of The Week
Ed Kramer.

Quote Of The Week
"Part of it is just enjoying working on my own schedule, and not having to do comics where the end of every story is that everyone puts on costumes and goes and punches each other." -- Ed Brubaker

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Dave Lapp Now Has 100 Children Of The Atom Strips Posted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 36th Birthday, Flavio Hoffe!

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September 27, 2013


MTV Geek, RIP

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they did a great deal of comics coverage; best wishes to any full-time or freelance writers whose life is disrupted by this news
 
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Go, Look: Steve Ditko Superhero Covers

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By Request Special: Jess Johnson Has More Mini-Comics eBayed

Here. Johnson was one of the most interesting cartoonists to emerge with that second alternative group of Lasky, Cooper, French, Eaton, Pope and Hart. I don't know the circumstances behind the sales that Johnson has been doing, but it is my understanding they are necessity-driven so I hope you'll give them some consideration. Those are all great minis.
 
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Go, Look: Genus, Part Two

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So I Sat In On A Comics Class This Week

imageSo at Robert Loss' invitation I sat in on his Literature Of Comics and Graphics Novel class at the Columbus College Of Art And Design on Wednesday afternoon. The subject was depictions of race in comics, but we got way off topic. Some observations.

* the class was about half-women, half-male and I think about 40 percent non-white. I didn't make a head count, but it seemed like a very diverse class. It can never be stated enough how the changing face of comics readerships and comics-making is the underlying story for a lot of major comics trends and will be the driver behind multiple movements in the years to come.

* because it was a college class, there were different levels of interest. So some students spoke a lot, while others didn't speak at all. It seemed like most of the class was reasonably engaged with Loss, though; there weren't too many dead-eyed stares and a little more than half the class participated in the wide-ranging discussion.

* the primary entry point for most of these students into comics is the mainstream comics they enjoyed.

* they make little to no distinction between the mainstream comic books they've enjoyed and the cartoons and the movies featuring those characters. The Justice League and Teen Titans Go! cartoons were referenced as frequently as any actual Batman comic. I don't think they saw these things as entry points into comics as much as they all like cartoons and sort of like comics, too. One source of outright confusion for many of the kids was the fact that the comic books differ in fundamental ways from the comics or even the movies based on the comics. For instance, there was still some confusion over why there was a Green Lantern movie and this did not feature the John Stewart character featured prominently on the cartoons they enjoyed.

* the primary distinction most of the students made about depictions of non-whites in comics is that they were unsatisfying rather than simply not there. One student articulated the notion that the black characters he encountered all seemed to be best friends and even comic relief as opposed to characters whose desires and actions drove the plot. Another student was disturbed by how many black characters seem to be broken characters, and how many seem to trade in super-strength or, oddly, electricity-based powers as opposed to the usual array of super-powered approaches.

* there was a significant distaste for heavy continuity, although when speaking about comics they enjoyed, some of the students seemed more than able to speak to plot minutiae. I took some of the criticism to mean there was very little in the expression of comics as typified by standard mainstream continuities. Stand-alone efforts like Batman 100 were praised not just because they allowed easier entry but because the art and writing was on its craft merits more interesting to them than a standard comic book.

* for my part I tried to point out how the commercial aspects of comics shape what you see on the page, including the notion that you must not only make profitable works but the most profitable works, particularly in the short term, which guides some potentially short-sighted choices. I also pointed out that a lot of what we think of as modern permutations of cultural protest against diversity, like the idea that moves in that direction are tokenism and adherence to political correctness, have antecedents.

* Loss and I also assured one young man that people in the 1980s really didn't talk like the gang members in The Dark Knight Returns.

* I had a fun time, and appreciate the invite. Loss has a nice feel for the broad range of comics expression without sacrificing intimate knowledge of mainstream material; if you have need of a comics academic or someone knowledgeable about comics in the Midwest, I'd recommend him.
 
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Go, Look: On Herb Gardner And The Nebbishes

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Collective Memory: Rose City Comic Con 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Boys And Girls' March Of Comics #52

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: Digital News

By Tom Spurgeon

* comiXology has reached 200 million downloads in an acceleration of the services they provide. The company was founded in 2007 and reached the 100 million mark in 2012. Here is an article speculating in blunt fashion about a potential IPO at some point down the line -- they want sooner rather than later.

* the writer Frank M. Young is working on a bibliography in e-book of John Stanley's 1960s work.

* the aggressiveness of those in charge of the 2000 AD material in getting those comics available via digital means has been a huge boon for the half-dozen or so of my friends that are consumers of that material.

* finally, one of the great services Gary Tyrrell performs for the webcomics community at his Fleen is breaking down the presence of the cartoonists about which that community cares at major conventions. His NYCC previews are here and here.
 
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If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Not Comics: Bunchy

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a blog that catalogs abuses connected to Scientology, Infinite Complacency, looks at the short comics biography L'Evadé De La Secte.

image* Tim O'Shea talks to Art Baltazar and Franco.

* Richard Bruton on Minimal Comics and Yoko Tsuno. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of those DC Comics villains books. I've read a bunch of those, too. Rob Clough on Persia Blues. Sean Gaffney on One Piece Vol. 68.

* not comics: here's a call for more Marvel women characters with powers in the Marvel movie/TV universe.

* Dean Haspiel draws Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge and Forsyth Pendleton Jones III.

* here are the ten things that Whit Taylor has learned making autobio comics.

* these roughs by Rina Piccolo are interesting, especially given what her final comics look like.

* finally, I keep trying to find a place to run this Lynda Barry comic from a couple of weekends ago and keep failing.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Mattt Konture!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Jack Katz!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Matthias Schultheiss!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Jim Shooter!

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September 26, 2013


By Request Special: Josh Simmons Art Sale

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The talented cartoonist Josh Simmons had put out the call that he's having an art sale. He's selling original art pages here; he's accepting commissions -- that's one of them above -- here. The original pages in particular are priced to move.
 
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Sizable South Carolina Retailer Moves Away From New Comics

Someone pointed out to me this morning that Rich Johnston's site Bleeding Cool was running an announcement from the South Carolina store Heroes & Dragons that as of November 1 they would no longer be carrying new comics. I assume they got it from their Facebook account here, although I guess this could have appeared in multiple places.

This is kind of fascinating because by the photos they run on the Facebook account that's a pretty big store, and they have no intention of going away -- they're going to shift their emphasis even more directly onto old comics and collectibles. So on one hand you have the curious spectacle of someone looking at the unprofitable parts of the comic shop and deciding that new comics are the part of what they do that can go, but you also have people thinking that there's enough money in other areas that they can continue to operate. Both of these things carry odd implications, particularly the former. If you rope in Buddy Saunders moving to the virtual store MyComicShop.com full time, which is a collectibles driven business, you could even assert a mini-trend.
 
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Go, Look: The Scout

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Go, Read: Michael Dooley's Massive, Illustrated Survey Of Comics Referenced By Dr. Fredric Wertham

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Michael Dooley over at Print Magazine has engaged Banned Books Week in a comics-focused way that I found deeply entertaining: a massive, fully-illustrated essay showing the comics to which Dr. Fredric Wertham objected in his writing about the depravity of the industry as it existed in the 1950s. Here's part one; here's part two. It's great to see that material in this context, and I'm grateful for all the scanning!

On Monday, the CBLDF detailed attempts to ban recent comics by geographical location and nature of the objection.

It's hard for me to even baseline-fathom the idea of purging books from libraries as a sensible reaction to anything, but it happens and it needs to be confronted with seriousness in ever instance possible.
 
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Go, Look: Jasen Lex's Tumblr

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Your British Comic Awards Shortlist Nominees 2013; Leo Baxendale Will Join Raymond Briggs In HOF

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The British Comic Awards formally released its shortlist of nominees yesterday; I'm told the list may have been circulated before then, but I wasn't aware of that. They also announced that Leo Baxendale would be the second cartoonist put into the Awards' Hall Of Fame, joining Raymond Briggs from the program's first year.

The nominees were named by a committee. They are:

Best Comic
* The Absence #5 -- Martin Stiff (self published)
* The Listening Agent -- Joe Decie (Blank Slate Books)
* Mud Man #6 -- Paul Grist (Image Comics)
* Soppy #2 -- Philippa Rice (self published)
* Winter's Knight: Day One -- Robert M Ball (Great Beast/self published)

Best Book
* The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil -- Stephen Collins (Jonathan Cape)
* Judge Dredd: Trifecta -- Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Simon Spurrier, Henry Flint, D'Israeli, Carl Critchlow and Simon Coleby (2000AD Graphic Novels)
* The Man Who Laughs -- David Hine and Mark Stafford (SelfMadeHero)
* Mrs. Weber's Omnibus -- Posy Simmonds (Jonathan Cape)
* The Nao of Brown -- Glyn Dillon (SelfMadeHero)

Young People's Comic Award
* Cindy & Biscuit #3 -- Dan White (self published)
* The Complete Rainbow Orchid -- Garen Ewing (Egmont)
* Hilda & The Bird Parade -- Luke Pearson (NoBrow)
* Playing Out -- Jim Medway (Blank Slate Books)
* The Sleepwalkers -- Vivianne Schwarz (Walker Books)

Emerging Talent
* Isabel Greenberg (The River of Lost Souls)
* Dilraj Mann (Frank Ocean VS Chris Brown, Make You Notice, Turning Point)
* Will Morris (The Silver Darlings)
* Jade Sarson (Cafe Suada)
* Lizzy Stewart (Solo, Four Days In Brussels, Four Days in Iceland, Object Stories)

Hall Of Fame
* Leo Baxendale

A panel of judges will select the winners in all categories save for the "Young People's Comic Award," which will be decided upon by reading groups consisting of young people. The awards will be named on November 23 in conjunction with the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds.
 
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Go, Look: More Jacky's Diary

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Go, Look: Headline Comics #43

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I've got MIX fever and you can't stop me. I'll be around all weekend, hope you can make the interview with Jeff Smith if you're in the area.

* so someone wrote me the other day and asked after cons next year. This was the list I sent back. It's nowhere near complete, but it gives you an idea of how stuffed the years are now.

+ Angouleme, January 30-February 2
+ Emerald City Comic-Con, March 28-30
+ Stumptown Comics Fest, April 12-13
+ SPACE, April 12-13
+ C2E2, April 25-27
+ MoCCA Festival, likely in April, Maybe Early April
+ Wonder Con, likely in April, Maybe Late April
+ TCAF, May 9-11
+ MeCAF, May 18
+ VANCAF, May 24-25
+ CAKE, May 31-June 1
+ Denver Comic Con, June 13-15
+ HeroesCon, June 20-22
+ Comic-Con International, July 23-27
+ Baltimore Comic-Con, September 5-7
+ SPX, September 13-14
+ New York Comic-Con, Likely October
+ APE, Likely October
+ Comic Arts Brooklyn, Perhaps November

This leaves off a bunch of stuff like Short Run, the Kids Read Comics show, the growing Arizona-based shows, things like the AAEC convention and the Reubens weekend and so on. Incredible.

* missed this discussion from June over at the AV Club about television conventions and how Comic-Con may or may not be informative for that kind of thing. It's fun to see people talk about different cons that seek to do the same thing as comics shows because it's informative to have that convention experience boiled down that way.

* this strikes me as nakedly opportunistic but also potentially really, really smart.

* finally, this Nina Bunjevac report from Raptus makes it look like the coolest festival ever.
 
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If I Were Near Appalachian State, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Not Comics: Roy Krenkel Illustrates Burroughs For Ace

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I'm coming late to this basically non-story about a clown wandering the streets that Alan Moore calls home, but the whole thing amused me. That's a hell of a headline. That's also a scary picture there at the bottom, or at least I found it so.

image* Sean Gaffney on Dorohedoro Vol. 10. Johanna Draper Carlson on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Vols. 1-2. Andy Oliver on The Megatherium Club Volume One: The Great Ape and And Then Emily Was Gone. Rob Clough on some autobiographical minis. Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan Vol. 7. Jonah Lang on Superior Spider-Man #18. Evan Henry on Kiss Me, Satan #1.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Chris Duffy. Will Scott profiles Meredith Gran.

* not comics: I'll take your jeans commercial and raise you two focusing on booze.

* Tom Bondurant walks through recent DC editorial moves by casting them in terms of the company's character-development responsibilities. I think this is worth noting, although in the specific of the Batwoman character it seems like everyone is cognizant of what DC might be doing in setting a specific creative edict away from having the character marry, they just don't agree with it. I think that creative team had done enough with that minor character that favoring some sort of editorial plan over anything they want to do seems silly. Then again, I don't run a comic book company except over coffee, in my head.

* finally, next.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Stephen Weiner!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Louise Simonson!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Tom Veitch!

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September 25, 2013


Go, Look: Dalton Webb Re-Launches Web Presence

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Lynda Barry Joins UW-Madison Department Of Art

Alan Gardner at The Daily Cartoonist caught that the great Lynda Barry has joined the University of Wisconsin as an assistant professor on its Madison campus. Barry is one of the best cartoonists and excellent essayist, and has made part of her living the last several years holding writing seminars. UW is a massive school, with over 40,000 students. She spent last Spring on campus as an artist-in-residence.
 
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Go, Look: Boulet In Portland

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Missed It: Tucker Stone Is Nobrow's New Marketing/Sales Director, US

Revealed here, according to multiple e-mails tossed my way. Stone was working the Nobrow table at SPX, and has retail experience, so a marketing/sales position makes sense. I saw Stonee in action in more of a substitute PR-guy role at San Diego Con this year with Image, and I thought he performed those duties admirably. I'm all for people re-engaging with comics at different points than their current position if there's a place for them, and this certainly qualifies.
 
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Go, Look: Inhumans Splash Pages Gallery

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Go, Buy: Top Shelf's Annual Mega-Sale Ends On Friday

imageTop Shelf's annual sale ends Friday; it's an important way that company stays afloat. Not only are there deep-inventory offerings but a bunch of their newest books are significantly discounted. I think this is how I'd spend $100 this year.

* Alec: The Years Have Pants -- HARDCOVER $49.95 $8.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Ax Volume One: A Collection of Alternative Manga $29.95 $3.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Carnet de Voyage $14.95 $5.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Far Arden $19.95 $5.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Gingerbread Girl $12.95 $3.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Happy #1 $3.50 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Happy #2: Elephant, Bunny, & Chicken $3.50 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Happy #3: Zirkus $3.50 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Happy #4: Female $3.50 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Hey, Mister Volume Three: The Fall Collection $12.95 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Hutch Owen Volume One: The Collected $14.95 $3.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Hutch Owen Volume Two: Unmarketable $14.95 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Jennifer Daydreamer #1 $4.95 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Jennifer Daydreamer #2 $4.95 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume III: Century #1 - 1910 $7.95 $5.00 (US) Add to Cart
* League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume III: Century #2 - 1969 $9.95 $5.00 (US) Add to Cart
* League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II): Century #3 - 2009 $9.95 $5.00 (US) Add to Cart
* March Vol. 1 - HARDCOVER $29.95 $15.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Micrographica $10.00 $3.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Nemo: Heart of Ice $14.95 $7.50 (US) Add to Cart
* Regards From Serbia $19.95 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* Super Spy $19.95 $10.00 (US) Add to Cart
* The From Hell Companion $29.95 $3.00 (US) Add to Cart
* The Playwright $14.95 $1.00 (US) Add to Cart
* The Ticking $19.95 $3.00 (US) Add to Cart
* The Troll King $14.95 $3.00 (US) Add to Cart

Or you can buy 24 mainstream superhero books. It's all about what you enjoy buying.

There are many other worth combinations, sure sure. I think this particular take leaves me with four extra bucks or so, which I would spend on candy. That is a lot of high-end work from three of my favorite creators and comics people: Tom Hart, Eddie Campbell and Renee French.
 
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Go, Look: Boom Boom Brannigan

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Go, Look: Some Primetime Meskin/Robinson Work

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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.

*****

AUG131418 WORLD MAP ROOM GN $19.95
Yet another book in PictureBox's super-strong 2013 thus far, this is the first from a new series by the fascinating comics-maker Yuichi Yokoyama. I'm told that this one might be one to get even if previous works confused you or even left you cold; I have yet to all the way catch up with my copy, although it sure looks nice.

imageJUL131331 TROPIC OF THE SEA GN $14.95
This is the first time I can remember two works of manga being the first two books that caught my attention on a Diamond releases list, which is a testament to the strengths of these works and my limited appetite for a lot of translated manga as much as it could pretend to be an indictment of one of the great worlds comics traditions. The late Satoshi Kon was a heck of an interesting filmmaker; this is a comic from I think his mid-20s, and I'm dying to see it.

JUL130068 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #28 (MR) $7.99
I don't have much to say about this comic's contents, but I'm always amazed that an anthology -- even one with this title's legacy, awards wins and virtually unfettered access to publishable material of the kind it represents in the marketplace -- has done as many issues as this one has.

MAY130033 SIN TITULO HC $19.99
I would imagine this is the Cameron Stewart graphic novel work that ran on-line -- and is still there, the last time I looked.

JUL131163 LOST BOY GN $12.99
JUL131164 LOST BOY HC GN $24.99
This is a very accomplished-looking fantasy book of the "wonders in my back yard" variety, by artist Greg Ruth -- his solo debut with Scholastic. I couldn't tell you if it didn't retain my attention for its own qualities or just because it's a genre and approach to that kind of work for which I don't particularly care. Surely Ruth will have the opportunity draw comics for as long as he cares to.

JUN130744 MOUSE GUARD LEGENDS O/T GUARD VOL 2 #3 $3.50
This series, back on its second go-round, has a nice conceit to squeeze short stories from its animal-driven fantasy setting: a tavern storytelling contest. I will always check to see who's participating in these books as there were two from the previous series with short stories to die for.

JUL131264 REBETIKO HC GN $22.95
A SelfMadeHero release gaining wider-than-one-might-expect distribution due to that publisher's arrangement with Abrams, this is David Prudhomme's book of recent vintage that won the Prix Regards sur la monde at Angouleme, an autobiographical-comics prize also won in its short history by heavyweights Joe Sacco and Yoshihiro Tatsumi. I would certainly pick it up to look at it, and might buy it cold.

JUL130059 ITTY BITTY HELLBOY #2 $2.99
JUN130542 FATALE #17 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
JUL138176 SAGA #13 2ND PTG (MR) $2.99
JUL130538 SAGA #14 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUL130541 SEX #7 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUL130403 SEX CRIMINALS #1 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
Let's put the comic-book comics at the bottom this time, so a cover can be run for the Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky Sex Criminals comic book. I enjoyed that first issue -- it looked really crisp, and while I know that kind of contextualization is lame, it was interesting to me to read an Image book that didn't rely on hard-man chest beating or a string of horror-show atrocities to keep my interest. I mean, I like those things, but a bunch of sex jokes and the like was a nice change of pace. I was sort of sad when the "criminals" part made an appearance. Other than the fun Baltazar/Franco-driven "Little Hellboy"-style effort, everything in the genre serial comics pile is Image oriented. The new and most recent sell-out on Saga will make a lot of shop owners happy in terms of I bet they're always happy when that comic comes out; the hilarious dour Sex continues, and Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips are like a mini-Mignolaverse in terms of regular genre-book reliability.

*****

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 Toronto, 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 St. Petersburg, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Whatever Place I Needed To Be To See That, I'd Go To It Or Near It Or Whatever

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Not Comics: Illustrations For Burroughs Westerns

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Bruton on The Listening Agent. Levin Hunt on Infinity #3. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Batman Is Brave and Superman Fights For Truth. Rob Clough on some books that are out again in a different format. Matt Derman on a bunch of different comics from 1987. Sean Gaffney on Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. 22.

* Kiel Phegley talks to Matt Fraction and Nick Lowe. JK Parkin talks to Colleen Coover.

* always grateful for a look at shelves that don't come at comics from a strictly toy/collectible angle. I like that stuff, too, but it really dominates features like these.

* I had fun reading Noel Murray's take on Marvel's Avengers title, although I'm not sure I agree with a lot of it. Different critics, different sensibilities.

* one of the places where comics gets weird these days is in the fan reaction to property management, where the protests sound issues-based just without any issue actually involved. There's no "because of" to the objection. That could just be my reading of these things, though.

* this sounds super-dumb, and I'm someone actually sympathetic to elements of the cultural argument in a way that can end dinner parties.

* finally, I actually find the way Marvel numbers their comics baffling to the point it frustrates me away from buying their comics, although I'm a very occasional buyer and really only for work at this point. For me it's mostly the interchangeability of the titles, and the lack of continuity among creators that would give me signposts to tell one book from another. I can't even imagine having to negotiate weird numbering. I'm not sure it's healthy in the way that all of this seems like these companies are stacking numbers in order to seize a bit of market share at the cost of developing an easy relationship with a range of readers over time. The scary conclusion to draw may be that these companies don't believe such readers exist.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Bob Layton!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Massimo Mattioli!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Paul Pope!

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The Late Kim Thompson Would Have Been 57 Today

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Like many folks out there, I still very much feel the loss of Kim Thompson. One way to celebrate his life, which ended in June, would be to write a nice letter or two directed at the kind of non-creator industry contributor Thompson was in his long and fruitful career. Or you could rent something by Lars Van Trier.
 
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September 24, 2013


OTBP: Bezoar #2

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So I Got To See Gary Panter Speak Last Night

It was my pleasure to see about five-sixths of a talk that Gary Panter gave at the Columbus College Of Art And Design last night. He's on campus for several days concluding I believe tomorrow. A show of his work is up at the Canzani Center Gallery from now until a bit into October. I haven't been yet, but I believe it is focused on his paintings -- I'll have to see.

imagePanter was a guest at this month's Small Press Expo and when I saw him after his presentation last night he asked if all the jokes were the same. I laughed, but really, they weren't. Panter's talk was a long ramble accompanied by a wealth of imagery ranging from light-show posters to comics covers to commercial illustrations to photographs of toys he put together during the Pee-Wee days. As is the case with Panter's work, a pair of primary joys is just drinking it all in visually and uncovering bits of humor and insight along the way. One thing he noted is that a key to his own career may have been his obsession with book design and design more generally, something he declared very important for artists to consider in terms of how their work engages with its public. Panter made strong distinctions between private and commercial work, noting the virtues to his art of being able to make his living in a way other than his most personally expressive outlets and talking about the similarities between letting your ego take a back seat when working with a commercial partner and when simply collaborating with a fellow artist. He also urged everyone to draw for the sake of building a repository of ideas, and to follow one's artistic obsessions even if the rewards weren't immediately apparent. As an example of the latter, Panter mentioned he's indulging in a period of making hippie beads right now. This is something he also mentioned at SPX, but he let drop in Columbus that one benefit is that this allows him to think in terms of colors and color combinations he might use in painting.

Another thing we were able to talk about briefly before he was off to dinner amongst the MFA studio spaces is how much he enjoyed SPX, which he called a perfect balance of people. Panter noted again when asked about the intensity of the visual culture informing comics right now the commitment to drawing in evidence that wasn't in his opinion around 30 years ago, and how dense and involved a lot of the imagery he saw was.

I was too tired from a day of travel to make a proper report out of the content of Panter's speech -- I really wanted it to wash over me and enjoy it on its own terms, and that was easily accomplished. I'll see him speak every chance I get precisely because there are more stories, even twice-told, than any single speech can hold. I will try to see the show while I'm here, and encourage anyone in easy driving distance to do so, too.
 
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Go, Look: It Will All Hurt, Part Four

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Totally Missed It: Infamous Conventions Figure Ed Kramer To Stay In Jail Until Early-December Trial

A bunch of you e-mailed me this link over the last few days, indicating I'd missed a short story from last week about Ed Kramer, affiliated with Atlanta's Dragon*Con until other partners arranged buyout -- and slight name change -- earlier this year. My apologies to whatever prominent site or sites has run it since, the appearance of such posts being what tends to foster multiple e-mails in my inbox.

Kramer has been charged with counts of child molestation going back more than a decade. He has been able to use the money he made through his participation in the convention to fund a series of what I think can be called delaying tactics on those charges, some related to claims of poor health. This had in turn led to a move by several creators to boycott the show and has driven an avalanche of discussion about things like the culpability for organization in terms of what is done with their money, the nature of fandom, and what a group can and can't do when they no longer which to be affiliated with a specific person or persons.

This latest is another recent sign that the charges facing Kramer are having a more difficult time in being delayed and/or allowing the possibility for the accused to spend time out of jail while things are sorted out. It looks like a trial remains scheduled for early December.
 
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Go, Look: Sid Check Art Work And Sketches

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Festivals Extra: About Rose City Comic Con

I've yet to even begin sorting out the Rose City Comic Con, a Portland-based convention whose -- I believe -- second-year show took place last weekend. Hopefully by the time I roll this out at least the bare bones of a "Collective Memory" is in place some scrollable distance below this post.

A lot of what I heard people talk about and the e-mails I received about Rose City suggested that the show was a big deal because it gave Portland a mainstream-friendly comics/pop-culture convention that wasn't run by Wizard. I suppose that's true; a show is a story all by itself. Two other potential stories, though, are 1) the extension of the Emerald City-related convention business -- if the Portland show in which they're now invested comes off over the next few years, they are an even more significant player in the increasingly vital conventions continent of the world of comics, 2) the possibility that a show with mainstream and genre-driven indy leanings behind which Portland's significant creator community can rally having an impact on long-time indy-to-small-press show Stumptown's direction and strategy moving forward. We'll see how it all shakes out, I'm sure.
 
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Go, Look: Love Secrets #32

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Go, Look: Strange Stories Of Suspense #12

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I've always wondered why Bastien Vivès hasn't published in a sustained fashion -- or, really, at all -- in English as of yet. He seems like the kind of personality that American comics audience would enjoy, and some of his works are very appealing. Looks like Jonathan Cape is going to do Polina, which isn't the one I thought would see publication first in that manner, but there it is. Update: Bill Kartalopolous reminds me that Jonathan Cape is way ahead of me here, having published a version of Le gout de chlore in 2011.

image* you don't see a lot of full-color self-published work, so this Marguerite Dabie effort stood out for me.

* completely missed word of an interview book with Warren Ellis based on the interviews that went into the documentary about the writer. I love nine-hour interviews; I conducted a few of them myself (hi, Evan).

* Simon Hanselmann's Megahex has a publication date (June 2014) if not a final cover. That's a nice temporary cover, though.

* it looks like this Photobooth: A Biography book is imminent; I'm always happy to see a visually accomplished stab at non-fiction in comics form.

* the cartoonist Joe Ollmann reminds that he's working on a bigoraphy of William Buehler Seabrook.

* Johanna Draper Carlson reminds me of a kind of publishing news I don't run enough of here in this section: when mainstream companies cancel titles, this time an X-Factor series distinguished mostly by a long run of issues from the writer Peter David.

* Fantagraphics posted a preview of their major re-issue of Trina Robbins' work on North American female cartoonists.

* I was told in Bethesda that Kevin Huizenga is working on another volume of Ganges, which is welcome news. He is one of the best cartoonists. Speaking of things I was told, I guess Bob Levin is working on support material for the Zap collection project at Fantagraphics. I love just about everything Levin writes.

* this Superman book looks interesting for the oversize format being employed. I love early Superman art, as the character settled in for the long cultural haul.

* finally, Sam Alden tweeted out the cover for his forthcoming collection from Uncivilized Books.

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

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Go, Look: Terry And The Pirates #3

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gorgeous but also *sigh*
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* check out the Paul Pope poster for the young-person-reading portion of the upcoming book fair in Miami. That's a nice get.

image* Rob Clough on You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack. Ricky Miller on RASL. Sean T. Collins on First Year Healthy. Noah Berlatsky on The Killing Joke. Walter Biggins on The Rocketeer: Cargo Of Doom and The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror. Hillary Brown on Iron Bound.

* I love comics company catalogs, and I hope someone is collecting them company to company because they are often the first thing to go when I purge my collection. These Conundrum efforts are nice, the D+Q occasionals are always stunning, and the Fantagraphics offerings were/are always a blast.

* it's amazing to me that the Complete Peanuts has already entered into the 1990s with this latest volume. There was a time when the end of that series seemed an impossible distance away.

* Henry Chamberlain talks to Stephanie McMillan. J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Gene Yang.

* this was also one of my favorite moments from the new Peter Bagge book.

* the magic of 3-D.

* here's a nice report at the Top Shelf blog on a Powell's event for God Is Disappointed In You, which I'm told sold extremely well at SPX.

* go, look: an 11-year-old re-designs the various Green Lantern factions.

* finally, the Cultural Trust vs Joe Wos.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Shinobu Kaitani!

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Go, Look: A Private Prison

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September 23, 2013


Go, Read: Colleen Coover Interview

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1, 2
 
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CNN Report: CRNI Fears Akram Raslan May Be Dead

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Buried several graphs down in a more general profile of cartoonists and caricaturists in volatile areas of the Middle East on CNN comes word that Cartoonists Rights Network International believes that the artist Akram Raslan may be dead. Raslan was honored by the group earlier this year for his cartoons in the face of Syrian oppression, and I believe was imprisoned in mid to late 2012 from the newspaper offices of Al-Fida in Hama.on sedition charges. If true, this would be a horribly distressing outcome for art and artists in an admittedly horrific part of the world right now. Earlier word had the artist being tortured and kept in inhumane conditions.
 
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Go, Look: Adapt, Part One

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Go, Read: Robert Boyd Notes Robert Storr Tried To Start A Comics Department At MoMA, Pitches MFAH

Robert Boyd pulls some information from that beautiful new Co-Mix book and underlines it out in the open so that we all get the point, that Robert Storr at one point a generation ago hoped to start a department of comics at the Museum Of Modern Art. Even if you don't know that museums like that have departments -- I would have flunked that quiz -- that sounds like the kind of institutional could-have-been worth noting. Better yet, Boyd spins it around and pitches something similar to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The first commenter pops in to throw some cold water on the entire idea, which makes the whole thing even more interesting. In the 20 hours between my writing this and it rolling out on CR, Art Spiegelman will probably pop in with some videotape of actual meetings or something. Okay, not likely, but you never know.

I'm a let's-try-everything guy more than a magic-bullet guy when it comes to the promotion and promulgation -- the Stan Lee in me insists on that second word, appropriate or not -- of the comics medium, so Boyd's pitch sounds great to me even if the results might be mixed. If nothing else, I can see how art museums moving in that direction more formally might lead to a bitchin' job or two for someone out there.
 
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Go, Look: Mad Hatter #2

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I Do Continue To Collect Collective Memory Links For Weeks And Weeks And Months And Months

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People stopped sending me a lot of links for Collective Memory posts about five years ago, but I still like doing them and I continue to add to them whenever I can for as long as I can. I doubled the size of the SPX 2013 CM over the weekend, and hopefully I will have found the time to greatly expand the Baltimore Comic-Con entry.

swiped from this set, a later addition
 
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Not Comics: Jeffrey Catherine Jones Draws Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs Notes Late-Month Hitch In DC's Processing Of Already Dicey Event Series Comics

This may be a little arcane for a lot of folks, but I'm sure the withering contempt the retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs displays here for DC Comics' handling of its current event series in terms of simply getting books into retailers' hands will communicate no matter what your background may be like. If you missed it, in broad terms what happened is that DC Comics was unable to fulfill orders for a big event driven by cover gimmicks where ordering took place based on standard procedures and patterns to which they and Direct Market retailers adhere. This is even more slightly problematic than the usual times when store owners are left holding the bag for a company like that in the face of unhappy customers, as there may be as a result beneficial buzz for the company and its publishing initiative due to demand exceeding fulfillment.

One of the comments below the article suggests that the content of these books might also constitute a let-down.
 
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Go, Look: Cathy G. Johnson

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Totally Missed It: Nick Bertozzi's Persimmon Cup Crowd-Funder

imageThe crowd-funding campaign for a print version of Nick Bertozzi's webcomic Persimmon Cup should have gone in this week's crowd-funding column, but I totally missed it. I only remembered it when I was e-mailing with someone about folks that do a limited number of days at a show, like Bertozzi did with SPX this year. Bertozzi has made a number of comics pages over the last few years, including a big chunk for another writer, so I'd be happy to see him make some more concretely his own. The project seems modestly conceived and is admirably lean in terms of options provided; it looks well on its way to success.

That project has been a popular web offering, although I have to admit it's been a while seen I checked in. I greatly look forward to the book.
 
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Go, Look: Jason Lewis Colorist

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* the indy comics shared-universe anthology Cartozia Tales is going to cut it very close. That's more of a subscription-style drive, so it's pretty easy to suss out at least one way you'll get something in return. I think I would have hit this one with more frequent updates but this column just skipped a week and I would have guessed it funded by now.

* the Yeti Press subscription-style fundraiser looks well on its way. It might even have reached its goal by the time this rolls out.

* most folks I know have told me they would do whatever it takes to keep Rick Geary publishing, and now here's their chance to stand up.

* whoa, Molly Kiely sighting.

* Taki Soma and Michael Avon Oeming are raising money for suicide prevention and perhaps you would like to help them. That's very nice.

* this person was nice enough to write in and ask that their all-ages fantasy project being listed here for your consideration. I almost feel more compelled to look at project where I don't know anyone, as I'd hate the virtuous things about crowd-funding to slowly morph into a way of raising money for people that are already well-connected.

* finally, two established creators with successful but still-ongoing crowd-funders are P. Craig Russell and Alec Longstreth.
 
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If I Were In St. Petersburg, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Random Edgar Rice Burroughs Volumes

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's someone writing about making money almost solely through comics shows.

image* Richard Bruton on Tales From Scene City Issue 3: Babezilla Part 1. Joe Gordon on The Hartlepool Monkey, Filmish: Food On Film and Goddamn This War. Evan Henry on Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #1. Evan Henry on Sidekick #2. Brian Gardeds on Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant.

* these occasional pieces on the FPI blog asking that material be considered for translation are kind of fun, even when you have no idea what it is they're talking or even very little interest in what you're seeing.

* Alex Dueben talks to Charles Forsman, Arthur de Pins, Fiona Staples and Kazu Kibuishi. Marc Mason talks to Eric Trautman on the occasion of his having left the Red Sonja book, in five parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Kristen Korvette talks to Shannon O'Leary. Brian Truitt talks to Ed Brubaker.

* Bob Temuka on writing fan fiction.

* Bart Croonenborghs compares and contrasts two heavyweight comics heroes with distinguished publishing pedigrees.

* here's a list of Marvel's licensed comics from the "Bronze Age," which I take to mean 1970 to the mid-1980s or so -- the breaking-off point tends to be either the Big Superhero Story Re-Set Button series Crisis On Infinite Earths or Watchmen. The comics listed are a reminder just how much companies can depend on work like that. In many cases it was a solid gig for some veteran comics-makers, too, which isn't something anyone should discount. Of course, there is a line of argument that without Star Wars comics, Marvel and perhaps the entire American comic book industry may have ceased to exist.

* I haven't seen any Kelly Thompson reviews in a while, so I was happy to see this piece on the Batwoman creative-team change over at DC Comics.

* finally, how comic books had an effect on the history of rap.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Peter David!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Paul Ryan!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Dan Day!

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Happy 75th Birthday, Jean-Claude Meziérès!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Michael Peterson!

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September 22, 2013


Video Parade Extra: CCAD Uploads Multiple MIX Panel Presentations From 2012 In Advance Of 2013 Show

Preparing to appear onstage with Jeff Smith at next weekend's MIX symposium in Columbus, I noticed the Columbus College Of Art And Design has uploaded video of three of last year's presentations in anticipation of this week's show. They can also be accessed here.


Kirby Goes For Broke



Digital Alternatives


Indie Comics Spotlight

That last video is the most panelists I've ever seen on stage for a comics panel!
 
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Go, Look: Steve Does Comics

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Go, Look: Godsend

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Go, Look: David Proch

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Not Comics: ArtKandy

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OTBP: Wet Cough

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Go, Look: Livux Life

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Go, Read: Monkey's Paw

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this lengthy effort recently concluded; congratulations to its creators
 
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OTBP: Epic Earth Adventures #2

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

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

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

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

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Happy 55th Birthday, Peter Kuper!

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FFF Results Post #351 -- Almost Whole

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Four Serial Comics Offerings For Which You Have A Complete Run; Name One You Wish You Did." This is how they responded.

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Jim Rugg

1. Black Hole
2. Stray Bullets
3. Yummy Fur
4. Eightball
5. Jamie Hewlett's Cannonball from Deadline magazine

*****

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Sean T. Collins

* The ACME Novelty Library
* Big Questions
* Black Hole
* Mome
* King-Cat

*****

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Joe Keatinge

1. Jack Kirby's Kamandi
2. Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon
3. Walt Simonson's Thor
4. Frank Miller's Daredevil
5. John Buscema's Conan the Barbarian

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Warrior
* A1 (Original British version)
* Wasteland
* Weirdo
* Creepy

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Miracleman
2. Bacchus/Eyeball Kid
3. Mr. Monster
4. Hate
5. Weirdo

*****

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Mike Rhodes

1. Steve Gerber's Man-Thing
2. American Flagg!
3. Leave it to Chance
4. Neil Gaiman's the Sandman
5. Locke and Key

*****

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Dave Knott

1. Kane
2. Sandman Mystery Theatre
3. The Nimrod
4. Batman Adventures
5. THB

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Love and Rockets vol 1
2. Deadline
3. Eightball
4. Sin
5. Jack Kirby's 2001: A Space Odyssey

*****

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Jones

1. 1963
2. Youngblood -- the Alan Moore and Steve Skroce one
3. Authority -- the Grant Morrison and Gene Ha one
4. Electric Ferret
5. Acme Novelty Library -- I lent #1 and #10 to a friend and never got them back, which is pretty much the worst tragedy that has ever befallen anyone anywhere

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Preacher
2. D.P.7.
3. X-Files (Topps)
4. Speedball (Ditko's run)
5. Stray Bullets

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. American Flagg!
2. 'Mazing Man
3. Nextwave
4. Miracleman
5. Nexus

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Love and Rockets (vol 1)
2. Power of Shazam
3. Killraven (Amazing Adventures)
4. Yummy Fur
5. Dagar

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Cages
2. Eddy Current
3. Elektra: Assassin
4. Kabuki: Metamorphosis
5. Golden Eyes and Her Hero, Bill

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. TEOTFW
2. RAW, volume one
3. Evil Eye
4. Steve Ditko's version of Shade the Changing Man
5. EC's Two-Fisted Tales

*****

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Michael F. Russo

1. American Flagg
2. 100 Bullets
3. John Carter, Warlord of Mars (Marvel 1977-9)
4. Mister X
5. The Fantastic Four

*****

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Chris Zepeda

1. Captain America (silver age), although I have all the Brubaker run also
2. Defenders
3. Love and Rockets
4. Sandman
5. The Spirit (Warren Mags)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Dirty Plotte
2. Bone
3. Real Stuff
4. Naughty Bits
5. Journey

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. Sandman
2. Ganges
3. Planetary
4. 20th Century Boys
5. Michael Rabagliati’s Paul series

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Robin Snyder published Steve Ditko Series
2. Acme Novelty Library
3. Eddie Campbell's Bacchus
4. Cheval Noir
5. American Splendor

*****

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Chuck Forsman

1. Peacemaker (Charlton)
2. The Maxx
3. Yummy Fur/Underwater
4. Crickets
5. Planet of the Apes Magazine (Marvel/Curtis)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Wolverine: Snikt!
2. Thriller
3. Obergeist: Ragnarok Highway
4. Nemesis The Warlock
5. Negative Burn

*****

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John Platt

1. Usagi Yojimbo (all volumes)
2. Ms. Tree
3. Savage Henry
4. Kane
5. Those Annoying Post Bros.

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. The Invisibles
2. Toxic!
3. Miracleman
4. Quantum and Woody
5. Sugar and Spike

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Young Liars
2. Shade the Changing Man (Ditko)
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
4. Oink
5. 2000AD

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Sandman Mystery Theatre
2. Shade the Changing Man (Ditko & Vertigo)
3. Grendel (color series)
4. THB
5. Love & Rockets

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Groo the Wanderer
2. Savage She-Hulk
3. Fish Police
4. Zot!
5. Howard the Duck

*****

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Derik A. Badman

1. Cold Heat
2. Ganges
3. Rubber Blanket
4. Glamourpuss
5. King-Cat

*****

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Karl Stevens

1. Eightball
2. Optic Nerve
3. Cerebus (though, 1-9 are not first printings)
4. Hate
5. Mad Magazine

*****

idea and suggestions by Jim Rugg; thanks, Jim

*****
*****
 
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September 21, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Lee Holley Draws Ponytail
via Mike Lynch


Jim Lee At Flying Colors


A Trailer For A Thomas Yeates-Draw Louis L'Amour GN


German Election Described In Weird "Comic Book" Form


Ali Ferzat Interviewed By BBC


Christian Adams Profiled
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from September 14 to September 20, 2013:

1. SPX 2013 comes and goes, with all the attention on small press comics makers that usually arrives with it.

2. Gilbert Hernandez wins the Pen USA graphic literature award as his next book is announced.

3. Wizard World doubles its convention slate, a sign of the general appeal of conventions right now and the specific attraction of Wizard's TV and movie actor driven strategy to a lot of markets.

Winner Of The Week
Beto

Losers Of The Week
Young cartoonists who didn't go to SPX. I read more posts from younger cartoonists yearning to be at this show than any show in recent memory.

Quote Of The Week
"whenever i feel like slowing down, i think about how my favorite living cartoonist is still putting out, like, seventy books a year" -- Michael DeForge

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Please Continue To Send In SPX 2013-Related Links

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I will keep adding links to this Collective Memory for as long as I receive them. The above picture of that great cartoonist Peter Bagge came from Gil Roth's photo array here, which I added to the Collective Memory earlier today.
 
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If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 38th Birthday, Craig Thompson!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Drew Friedman!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, David Malki!

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September 20, 2013


Let's End This Week On The Most Adorable Note Possible

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A Few Notes On SPX 2013

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By Tom Spurgeon

Here are a few notes on Small Press Expo 2013, which happened last weekend in Rockville, Maryland.

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* I thought it was a good show.

* that said, I'm sure for many people it was a great show. I'm sure for a few people it was even a life-changing show. That is the nature of events like the Small Press Expo.

image* one of the great things about going to a show like SPX as you get older, as you sort of rocket past the median age of the room, is that you're reminded that all of the small stuff with which you've grown comfortable if not jaded, remains, for a lot of folks out there, a big, big deal. SPX is a lot of people presenting their work in public for the first time. SPX is creative people interacting with idols and peers and other huge, looming figures in their lives. SPX is meeting someone who's read something you've done, perhaps for the first time, and getting that specific thrill of reaching someone through art. SPX is watching others act from a vantage close of being right up next to them, folks that share your same orientation and sensibilities and values. There are so many people for whom being asked to do a panel is a thrill not a chore, for whom just feeling included in some way is awesome, folks who are trying to work up the courage to give someone in that room their comic you would never think intimidating, people that are terrified and excited and thrilled and nauseous all at the same time just to be in the same room with a certain someone. Maybe you.

* we should show more respect for those people, for those impulses, for that stage of things.

* so, SPX 2013.

* I don't have a lot of pure travel notes. Travel West to East in the United States remains a thin, unpleasant exercise. I had to get up at 1 AM to catch the only flight from Tucson that would get me to New York City before Midnight, so hooray for that. Everyone on my connecting flight from Dallas to New York was a swaggering, aggressive, New York stereotype, which is always a howl, but other than that all of these trips this year have started to blend together.

* I went to New York first, flying into LaGuardia. I spent the vast majority of my time near New York over in New Jersey. I used public transportation as much as I could, even though I had money budgeted for a few taxi trips. The New York City transit system has added an express route from LaGuardia to the stop where you pick up the E train into Manhattan, which I didn't know despite reading what I could before I left. That is a huge boon. It sounds silly, but I still talk to people that make their travel plans based on avoiding certain confusing travel options, particularly with New York. They're all not bad if you're relatively unencumbered. I would never recommend a rush hour subway car for anyone with motion sickness, but it got the job done.

* by the way, is motion sickness something that comes back to haunt old people? I never used to be this way at the end of flights and riding on buses.

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* while in Jersey, I caught up on some long-range CR work in the home library of occasional comics podcaster Gil Roth. He and his wife the photographer Amy Beadle Roth (that's her photo above, used with permission) have converted their basement into a home library, including a beautiful comics section. I love toys, I really do, but it's nice to see comics in setting other than among action figures. Although in this photo, there is a kind of toy or something back there! I don't say that kind of thing to be mean, but I do think there are so many ways we tend to affiliate a certain way of interacting with comics with the whole of it.

* got into the city for a brief visit. I went to the new location of Forbidden Planet NYC, which is a bigger place with a better feel to it than the old one, I think, despite losing maybe a half-point on personality and forsaking whatever nostalgic hum you affiliate with comic book shop physical locations. That was a store that had just lost a customer, in an assault in the middle afternoon a week earlier: the story made the Times. If there's a fundraiser for that customer, I hope to report it on the site. It's a terrible thing to lose a customer. I'm not always with the idea of community in all circumstances, but I love the merchant-customer relationship a great deal, and believe it's an important part of civic life.

* the shop seemed to be doing a pretty solid business in t-shirts when I was there. It seemed well-stocked with comics overall. I did not understand that shelving system. They basically go alphabetical order with the time-since-initial-racking increasing in age as you went downward shelf-wise. So the new comics were up on the top shelf; the recent-but-not-brand-new comics were in the middle; the little less than recent comics were below that. This was pretty headache-inducing to me as a not-regular comics shopper, because I had to go to three different places to find each comic I could think of wanting to see. It's really noticeable now, too, just how fully alternative comic books have abandoned the field. I've been told that one newish publisher that has worked in that format will do so no longer. As for the books in the shop, it took a group of us about 15 minutes to find the new Ulli Lust, which we basically discovered by walking up an aisle until someone spotted it. The clerks were super-nice, though, and I'd sacrifice a small goat on a raise altar to have a shop 1/10 of good within walking distance of my home.

image* for what it's worth, the shop was sold out of the New Avengers series, the one from Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting where the heroes stand around being buffed-out, crazy-ass super-scientists and do very little more than say portentous things about reality's imminent descent into the cosmic toilet. I have a soft spot for that kind of comic, I really do. My favorite comic when I was a kid was that one Avengers/Marvel Two-In-One annuals crossover because at one point the Avengers fly into outer space and they spend a couple of pages sitting around being broody. I was a weird kid, more Council of Elrond than Battle Of Helms Deep. I don't know if it's that so much about childhood is waiting, but I love it when superheroes mull over what's to come.

* I bought some mainstream comics I would hours later leave in an Irish-themed bar, never to be seen again. Someone tell me if Thanos wins.

* I had drinks with someone who is to be a moderator at this week's surprisingly comics-heavy Brooklyn Book Festival, and dinner with two cartoonists putting their final touches on SPX preparations. Both visits were a blast. On my way out of the city and back to Jersey I stopped by an apartment on the west side to hear a prose author give a few words at an afterparty in support of his book launch (my ride was attending). Questions from the audience at a small party of attractive big-city dwellers in New York are pretty much as self-involved as questions from the audience of people dressed like Adventure Time characters in a panel at San Diego. Still, I had a good time, and recommend that all book launches in comics from now on end with catered sushi in folks' personal homes.

* flew from JFK to Reagan. In getting to JFK I exercised my mutant power to take the shuttle train route that has to make the most stops to get me to where I'm going.

* one of the great advantages to the SPX experience is being able to fly into Reagan National Airport, which is relatively small and bumps up right next to the metro train. Getting from Reagan to the SPX hotel involves an approximately 40-minute ride with one transfer, eventually dumping you at a station is 200 yards from the hotel's front door. So basically it's possible to go to SPX from a home in northern New Jersey without getting into a car. I think this enormously civilized and super-convenient. The same local train system will also take you to and from Union Station for Amtrak -- Frankie Santoro and Dash Shaw were two cartoonists that left the show that way. Union Station is where you also pick up some of the city-to-city buses. So a lot of folks use that train. I'm sure the shuttle and drive-into-show options are great, too, but I think the proximity to infrastructure is a big deal. Emerald City benefits the same way, as does Stumptown. If we're to be expected to do multiple shows per year from now on, and many of these younger cartoonists and industry people might be asked to do that, the ease of the trip is going to be a big concern moving forward.

* I think the physical plant of the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel And Conference Center is just about perfect for the show as it is currently constituted. Some of that is cleverness on the part of the show's organizers, like using multiple access points to that hall to place publishers likely to do signings that involve line-ups near the doors so that those line-ups can extend out the door rather than cover the front of other tables. It was fun to walk around the place with Michael Kupperman a bit later on Thursday evening and see what it looks like quiet. The panel rooms are pretty nice, it's an affordable place overall, particularly if you're sharing a room, even the gym is halfway decent. Paying for wireless service in 2013 is sort of galling, but I realize that hotels are locked into all sorts of plans and price points because they were early adopters. It's fun to sit in the lobby on that big, lit table -- aka the "I hate this table when I'm hungover and trying to type" table -- and be social and check things out, too. I always feel like a big brother sitting at that table, doing a little busy work while the activity buzzes all around me. A lifeguard, maybe. If only they'd let me take my shirt off.

* one thing that was fun about coming in a day early is that there were other conferences there. Comics people are definitely nerdier, and bit more disheveled, but the social dynamics of professional conferences look much the same to me as comic cons, the way that certain types tend to gravitate towards one another, the joy people take in bending elbows and gossiping.

* no West Virginia band this weekend. I missed them. They were kind of like a generalist geek control group last year.

* I liked the hotel front desk staff. I have to admit, though, I've been there a couple of years now and I don't find the majority of the staff at that hotel particularly helpful or friendly. I saw some pretty rude shutdowns of behavior -- people being loud in greeting one another, the high crime of finishing one's burger in the lobby -- where the reaction from staff came off to me as if they had caught someone taking a wazz on one of the house plants. I mean, I get it, there are rules, but you wonder after a lighter touch. I either pass as enough of a normal or I'm too dopey-looking to be noticed at all, but I did see what looked like a couple of staff making asides about Expo attendees they were just helping or trying to help. I also got bad directions a couple of times and couldn't get housekeeping to come to my room one day for some unknown reason. This sounds like a lot of complaints! I don't mean it that way. I had a great time. But I did notice this. I thought they were more brusque this year in herding people out of certain areas of the hotel, too -- I'm not sure what changed to keep people out of the outside area at the post-Ignatzes party, for instance. Anyway, there's that. I'm sure most experiences were very different than my own, just like the experiences of the show overall. I've done way too much traveling this year. I have a refined aesthetic for chain hotels now. But I have to say that was my general take. It was more like San Diego in the '90s hotel-staff wise than the friendlier staffs you tend to encounter now, if that makes any sense.

* first comics person I saw upon arrival was Jeff Smith, who within 45 seconds made an "olds" joke -- probably his last, there wasn't really a lot of that this weekend. Smith and Team Cartoon Books were on their way to a Politics and Prose signing that they feared would feel the impact of a horrific downpour. They were right -- only about a dozen people showed up, and this is after the event was moved to a local auditorium. There's a good ending to this down the page, I swear, but that must have been an odd start to the weekend.

* the rain was definitely a thing. Every person that came out on Thursday was delayed in landing that afternoon. One would spend 11 hours on a plane before disembarking; another eight hours.

* I bought Jeff a glass of wine and myself a draft beer and spent $22 and suddenly I remembered why a lot of people drink in their rooms at this show.

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* had dinner and -- as I mentioned -- walked around the hotel a bit with Michael Kupperman, someone I'd seen in Toronto but before that hadn't seen since like the 1998 SPX or something. Kupperman is one of our funniest cartoonists and an interesting comics-maker and I'm glad to see the communities surrounding comics opening up to him a bit. We talked about their not being able to use the terrific "Quinception" story from Tales Designed To Thrizzle in the newest Best American Comics and about life in New York more generally. Smart, funny man.

* Kupperman and I ate at a place Thursday evening to which both of us will be returning for several meals in hell. It had kind of a "prison food" theme going, and we couldn't stop laughing at how deeply unhappy the people in the restaurant seemed to be that we chose to eat there (no one else was there). The upshot? Food isn't great in that immediate neighborhood. As much as the relatively great travel infrastructure is a definite plus, I'd have to say this remains a minus. Not as big a minus as the trains are a plus, though. There is good food within a 30 minute walk, more-than-serviceable food within ten minutes, even, and a bunch of fine places to chow down a couple of train stops away in Bethesda. Still, it does feel a bit isolated, fairly or unfairly. One funny thing is that I know a few cartoonists from big cities that love to eat chain-restaurant food at cons for the red-state novelty of it, so those people are loving life.

* my eating was great, though. I had good Tex-Mex west of the show, really good Korean north and west of there and fine Ethiopian north and a little east on Sunday night. No complaints. You just have to dig a bit.

* a lot of folks eat carry-away from the Whole Foods. Some dip into McDonald's. Others bring food. One writer about comics told me that he "genuinely loved the hotel food here." He told me this between bites of bread pudding, which did look good. I would say it's above-average for hotel food, which is above-average generally, with a definite ceiling, and like a lot of hotel restaurants sort of pricey for most folks. But it does the job. Like I wrote earlier, the physical plant of this hotel really, really works.

* I don't know if the liquor and beer store in the shopping mall next to the McDonald's was there in previous years, but it sure was handy.

* hit the bar Thursday evening with Mr. Kupperman; Peter Bagge stormed by before turning around to come back. He said something like, "I didn't see any comics people until I saw you two shlubs out of the corner of my eye and knew it was a couple of comics guys even if I didn't know you." Pete is the best. It was really great to see Peter, and I hope he had a good weekend. I think he's by far the most undervalued of the great 1990s alternative cartoonists at this point, and his new book with Drawn and Quarterly is very, very good.

* "weird things people asked me to draw at shows" was this year's "really old inkers from mainstream comics I liked" in terms of recurring, light-hearted conversations.

* we were joined by Smith with tales of rain-out horror, and then Carol Tyler, briefly, followed by Sam Alden, and we stayed in that group for a couple of hours. This was kind of cool because we had the older generation's show star -- Smith -- and one of the younger generation's big show stars, Alden, just sitting there going back and forth. Smith is youthful looking, but Alden looks like he just got elected treasurer of the high school drama club. He charmed a lot of people. Smith had a copy of Best American Comics and it was fun to watch Alden read his contribution in there, and see how well it printed. It was fun in general to see Smith enthused about the younger talents he discovered for himself in guest-editing that book. "I am the world's biggest Kate Beaton fan," he beamed, hours before welcoming her as a distant relative.

* one of the special guests got sick on Thursday night and went to the hospital briefly, but rallied and made it through the whole weekend. I thought the show did a nice job of looking after this person and working with their needs moving forward.

* Friday was fun, and not just because there were more than 10 comics people at the hotel. It's an exciting day, with so many people happy to see one another. As good as any show might be as it unfolds, it rarely matches the one in your head that hasn't happened yet.

* I was lucky enough to be asked to join the Library Of Congress trip, mostly by the tried-and-true method of sitting in the lobby near all the other people going and looking really sad and even making loud hints that if I didn't get to go I would just sit there and write stuff on the site about how I didn't get to go. That was another train trip, which with that many people felt like a school field trip to the zoo or whatever. I kept expecting Warren Bernard to hand out money for ice cream. I got to meet Jon McNaught, and reacquaint myself with Jim Rugg and Chris Pitzer. Nice to see them all. Heidi MacDonald was on hand. Gary Groth. I sat behind Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier on the way over. We ran into José Villarubia on the train -- he's a local and was just going about his day. One of our number thought he looked like Caddyshack-era Brian Doyle Murray, and he sort of did.

* people in DC are very blonde compared to people where I live.

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* we met Andrew Aydin, Chris Ross and a small army of LoC librarians at the big solid block of a building -- it reminded me of an academic building on a campus. Ross was the second person on whose name I totally punted this weekend, after Sean Azzopardi. He wouldn't be the last.

* maybe my favorite moment at the library was watching Jeff Smith taken aback by Gluyas Williams and making a written note to find more of Williams and to look at more of magazine cartooning generally. I also noticed that Jon McNaught may have been the only person drawing from the originals, in a little notepad. He may have just been taking notes.

* Chris Ross and I talked about digital, which is usually me learning gobs of material even in just the casual sentences while realizing how little I know about that entire expression of comics. We talked about the accounting problems involved. I knew that the pay cycles were different, but I guess there are also some very technical considerations like how some of the columns in a publisher's overall expenditures are organized with a digital component. I don't know where that ends up, but I think as a group and industry we're finally started down that road in a broader way, and I'm not sure we were as early as a lot of people thought we were.

image* they had a lot of stuff pulled. The two groups of material that most impressed me were some Oliver Harrington originals from the Pittsburgh period, and some stunning pen and ink illustrations from Harrison Cady. I'd never seen Harrington originals from that earlier part of his life, before Germany. He worked a lot bigger at that point, and the thought that you could trust a newspaper printing process to pick up any of that detail stuns me. The Cadys were at the bottom of a pile of his Peter Rabbit work; they were large, about 2 feet by 3 feet, but just magnificent looking things; they had a bunch of us marveling at the chops involved but also at a world where you could be paid an amount of money where making work that meticulous made any sort of business sense. It seriously looked like it was made by an army of stoned faeries. All of it was gorgeous. I was surprised by how modestly-sized the AB Frost originals were; those look like they'd be really hard to print in terms of how pretty they were at that size.

* the library and its holdings are open to you if you're in that area and make an appointment. You should make the excuse.

* I had a lunch obligation so left before Heidi MacDonald's graphic-novels speech, which later received the ultimate positive review from someone on hand of "It made me less hungry until it was over." Saw a young man at the Metro stop changeover going about his day wearing a Johnny Ryan t-shirt and very loud pants. People in costume got on the train at one point, too, which made no sense to me but I imagine there must have been an indication of something going on somewhere.

* Friday afternoon at SPX is fun because people start rolling in at about 3 PM and keep showing up all night long. It's like the first day back before college starts back up except with looking at comics promised for the next day as opposed to football two-a-days. A number of people went to the Atomic Books signing in Baltimore -- Peter Bagge tried to get people to share his car, but no one else was ready to head out as early as he was -- but most hung around the hotel, hit the Expo's reception, picked up their badges, and started socializing. My friend Gil Roth showed up earlier that afternoon and taped an interview with the great Roger Langridge, the quietest of all the super-fun cartoonists on hand that weekend. He was selling original art to die for -- he sells it to move, and move it does. Since it was Yom Kippur, Gil and I ate before nightfall, but missed our chance to hit a baseball game with Chris Pitzer and Rafer Roberts.

* that evening was a swirl of new faces and familiar ones. Kate Beaton was down to hang out rather than exhibit. Barry and Leon from Secret Acres seemed to be in a high humor all weekend long, which I think means they've each had a good year. I got to meet Chris Breach from the old TCJ message board and re-live moments of Fantagraphics historical minutiae -- he's on an around the world tour. Talked to Lisa Hanawalt and Ryan Sands at the top of a stairway -- Sands was talking about getting matching tattoos with Michael DeForge and I still can't figure out if by saying so he was screwing with me specifically, screwing with everyone generally, or completely serious. Ken Eppstein from Nix Comics said "hi" -- super-nice guy and part of a fairly sizable Columbus contingent (Bob Corby and James Moore were also on hand; Smith and crew; Caitlin McGurk; all traveling separately from the Arch City, but still) at the show. I saw Darryl Ayo Braithwaite. Ran into the foursome of Katie Skelly, TV Alexander, Sophia Wiedeman and Meghan Turbitt a few times that weekend (the first inset photo of this post is Turbitt and Alexander). Bumped into Ed Piskor. Dustin Harbin. Ben Catmull. Brian Ralph. Will Dinski. Jen Vaughn. Noah Van Sciver. Totally surprised and pleased to see Ryan Cecil Smith, who is still in Japan but may be heading back to the LA area. He's a very talented cartoonist.

* I was sad to hear about the passing of Kim Thompson's parents, Aase and John, and all condolences to one-time comics industry regular Mark Thompson on his loss.

* many went to bed at an unreasonable hour; many did not.

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* there were more comics-people in that gym on Saturday morning than I'd seen in 20 years of convention-going combined. I'm not kidding. Until that morning I'd seen three people in hotel gyms during comics shows: Kevin Eastman in 1997 in San Diego; Meredith Gran at SPX last year; Jeff Smith the day before this show. There were at least six comics folks in there on the first day of SPX. I was not feeling all there, and when Justin Hall came in and started doing alarming things with pulleys, I quit and stole a bunch of fruit and went back to bed until the show started, weeping softly and watching Johnny Football highlights.

* the show started with a line that took a bit of time to build into show traffic. Then show traffic was crazy in that good way big crowds can be crazy for two, three hours. That tapered into about 80 percent of that for the rest of Saturday and maybe settled a bit down from that, even, maybe another five percent, for the bulk of Sunday. There were not a lot of flow issues.

* one guy stopped me in an aisle about 2 PM and told me he read CR and was taking my advice to walk around the room and look at everything first but then he figured out the room was too big and my advice was super bad and I sort of agreed with him.

* the room was noticeably huge, with row after row after row of exhibitors, some even stacked two to three over one display space.

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* ran into a blur of people over the next few days. Rob Ullman (picture #1) had an array of his sharp-looking material on display, at multiple price points. He's doing hockey comics now, which I completely missed. The great retailer and one-time DC local Bill Boichel was there. Calvin Reid was on hand to help team write the PW story on the show. Reid admitted his trips were different to his home area as he got older and certain relatives passed on. Warren Craghead was exhibiting for the first time, despite attending the show off and on for I think 18 years or so. Simon Moreton exhibited with Craghead. Diana Tamblyn (picture #2), a veteran that looks like she showed up in comics six months ago, had her first book for sale there, and had been sweating the printing job until a couple of days out. Jonathan Baylis' latest So Buttons... had a Jay Lynch cover. Never saw Lynch on the floor, and caught him briefly in the bar on Sunday evening, after the show ended. Ran into Nick Bertozzi. The last time I saw Nick I swear he was holding the baby that was now a 12-year-old pulling at his arm. He seemed well, and called the Jerusalem graphic novel he did art for a physical gauntlet. Saw Chris Staros at a distance. Andrea Tsurumi, Charles Brownstein. Met Whit Taylor, who was nice enough to say Hi while standing in line to see Congressman Lewis. Sophie Goldstein. JT Dockery (picture #3), Colleen Frakes. Paul Lyons. Ed Kanerva. Annie Koyama. Keren Katz. Connie Sun. Oliver East was Skyping into the Craghead/Moreton table, and it was sort of disgusting, actually, to look down and see his smiling face beaming out of Craghead's abdomen. Nobody do that again. Joe McCulloch was there. Chris Mautner and his young, comics-making daughter, Veronica were on hand, attending panels and doing trades. Tracey Hurren and Julia Pohl-Miranda were manning the D+Q table. Gary Panter and Dan Nadel walked by before Gary wheeled and tracked me down -- I was so flattered I didn't mind he thought I was someone else. Anya Davidson was there (picture #4, with Dan Nadel). Frank Santoro was hugging people in the aisle. I saw Tom Scioli briefly. It was like this all day. Lamar Abrams was about as nice as ever. Dash Shaw I ran into briefly. Charles Forsman and Melissa Mendes I saw once, maybe twice and basically never again. All this as I was sort of not stopping to talk. It was a solid, solid room.

* people were sort of nicely dressed, a continuing trend at comics shows but rare for this one because of the laidback nature and youthful breakdown of the room. I saw more than a few ties, and a bunch of nice-looking dresses, what my dad would have called Sunday brunch dresses; something you could wear to Churchill Downs or Pimlico for a big race. Someone mentioned to me that as comics moves in the direction of all this media and constant coverage and shows where a physical presence is required, some sort of media training or at least acknowledgement there are things to learn about how to present oneself to the public is going to become something worth considering. We've come a long, long way on a lot of this stuff. Take programming. If you ever went to a show in the 1980s or early 1990s, even a show with great guests, the panels were usually the kind of low-energy, "hey, you got any questions?" snark-fests that you see rarely these days -- oddly in many cases when you still see them it's from mainstream comics makers with a lot of resources to do a more sophisticated job. Part of this slow change is the comics ethos of wanting to be anti-corporate and never wearing a tie or whatever, but a lot of it is likely that low level of self-hatred involved that seems pretty widespread in this specific arts culture. It's good to see people give some thought to how they might be perceived outside of a very tiny room, in every way that can be applied to every situation where it might be applicable.

* not sure what to say about my general impressions of the material on the floor. Gary Panter said something during the weekend that there's a exceedingly impressive visual culture now, and that it's an amazing thing to compare the kind and level of drawing that exists now to its equivalent from 40 years ago. I think he's onto something there for sure. I'll check in with what gets written about the show moving forward, because maybe someone will nail this, but I failed to detect any sort of new or startling trend in terms of the way stuff looked, the kind of comics being made, the types of stories being told. I don't buy as I've read from some folks that there's a rigidity in the type of material being presented or the art styles on hand. If you're coming from a tradition that favors cinematic storytelling and well-rendered figure drawing, a bunch of what SPX has to offer might look the same. But any time spent acclimating yourself to that material yields a wide variety of approaches, particularly relative to more traditional types of comics-making. In what makes a certain amount of sense given how far along we are in developing the idea of the graphic novel as industry ideal, I think I may have detected a level of treating mini-comics as disposable in deference to more fancily-produced work. That stands in contrast a bit to the kind of approach that, say, the folks at Fort Thunder brought in, where mini-comics became more frequently seen as beautiful objects. I do know that when I talk to other critics that there's a bit of restlessness that there hasn't been a full-bore assault of outright great works from cartoonists under 35, but I'm not sure that means the same thing to those artists that it might to my particular peer group.

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* the Congressman John Lewis signing line in support of March Vol. 1 was long and very steady. People were hitting that line and making the commitment because, at least two people told me, they'd kick themselves if they didn't. That book has done very well for Top Shelf and I have to imagine there's no shortage of Civil Rights Era anniversaries into which they might tie a second volume. All of those involved say that the Congressman is deeply grateful for the attention that the book has brought that part of American history in which he directly participated, and I think this is one of those cases where the cultural trigger of the book's release to get Lewis on the news programs and into feature articles is something worth considering as it own thing. I bet we see that second book as soon as is humanly possible, and if Nate Powell is reading this he should stop and get back to work. This first volume continues to do well on the charts. Something I didn't know or knew and forgot is that Andrew Aydin is working on a graduate degree with a final project on the Martin Luther King, Jr. comic. That sounds like a paper I will want to read. I once wrote about comics during my graduate degree program years but certainly not a full, final thesis/dissertation-level work.

* Jeff Smith was carrying around in his bag a little AF Frost book, first printing 1890. People take the best stuff out of their bags at SPX.

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* I went to two panels that first day. Bill Kartalopoulos interviewed Gary Panter, who was in fine, highly-amused form. He had a great line about the Mary Tyler Moore Show ending the '60s -- a decade he described as a constant hope for something more interesting and exciting that usually came through -- and had everyone laughing about his pair of acid trips. Panter made the point that he gravitated towards punk because that was a a cultural expression that had room for the kind of art-influenced comics he wanted to make. Panter at one point also spoke in thousand-year-old English. Kartalopoulos is really good at that kind of slideshow-driven presentation; Panter later described Kartalopoulos' moderation as "perfect."

* talked to Seth for his spotlight panel. I thought it went well, particularly in that I wanted to cover his entire career in some fashion -- something along the lines of the TCAF keynote I did with Los Bros Hernandez -- in case someone in the audience was discovering Seth for the first time. Seth is an articulate, thoughtful public speaker. He said a bunch of interesting stuff. Seth reminded the audience that at one point in the 1990s before the idea of graphic novels really took hold simply doing a 23-page comic seemed like a work of daunting length. He said he can no longer stand to look at It's A Good Life, If You Don't Weaken although he respects the practical ambition involved in how the younger version of himself tried to put the work together. We talked a bit about the rapid growth he saw in his own work in Wimbledon Green and George Sprott, given that the former was a sketchbook comic and the latter was a comic for a major client that was edited a lot from serialization to collection. We talked a bit about his work is less about nostalgia than it is about cultural decay -- there's a preferred aesthetic, but we mostly engage with it in Seth's work as it's fading from view. The new issue of Palooka-Ville looks terrific -- he said that he feels an increased compulsion to release issues once a year once he turned 50 last year around SPX time -- and we discussed its component parts. Clyde Fans will negotiate the shifts in style on hand in its serialization by making the chapter breaks really strong -- the style will shift as the story does. I also had him talk a bit about remaining a prolific artist despite not doing comics full-time, something I think a lot of attendees deal with all the time.

* anyway, I like the new Palooka-ville a lot, and recommend it. I thought he nailed the presentation of it this time out. I carried one around with me all weekend.

* it's always great to see so many of my peers: Rob Clough, Heidi MacDonald, Michael Cavna, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Johanna Draper Carlson, Tucker Stone, Matt Seneca, Hannah Means-Shannon, Calvin Reid.

* the dumbest conversation I had was with someone who asked me if I thought Kevin Huizenga should run for president. I mean, of course he should. Come on.

* the most necessary conversation I had was with Zak Sally to apologize for blowing some coverage I'd blown for his very successful Autoptic show. Talking to Sally and Tom Kaczynski, two of the show's organizers on hand (I'm sure there were more) eliminated all consideration to my mind that there might be a version of the show next year rather than their waiting until 2015.

* saw Matt Dembicki, who told me about the DC Conspiracy crew's outreach via making comics in a museum setting.

* had dinner Saturday evening with the Drawn and Quarterly crew, and watched Lisa Hanawalt and her boyfriend the comedy writer Adam Conover share large amounts of complicated food. I tried to eavesdrop on Seth at one point and instead of something like a discussion of the aesthetic qualities of space heaters heard him talking to his part of the table about the comparative social acceptance of Star Wars vs. Star Trek. That must have been some conversation there. Not what I expected. My friend Gil and I agreed the next day is the best part of any conversation that involved Seth talking about his childhood is that you get to imagine him doing whatever dressed in a smaller version of the suits and coats and hats he wears now, even though we know that wasn't the case.

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* Brian Ralph was one of the drivers to the Saturday night restaurant; he was to start teaching class down at SCAD this week. Last year Ralph was in a bit of a wild period, which is less appealing in one's late 30s than in one's mid-20s. This year Ralph has a child on the way and a full house of kids due to his current relationship. It's nice to see people go through life changes between these times encountering them. That Reggie-12 work is handsome and fun; you should look at it if you're in a store.

* come to think of it, no one that I can think of was a particular wreck of a person the way two or three people were last year. If there was a slight dimming of enthusiasm and relief and exultation at SPX in 2013, there was a greater sense of health and maturity and perspective. Very few people in that room felt like they'd be easy to shake free of the cartooning body, if that makes any sense. Lot of lifers around.

image* I enjoyed the Ignatzes. I sat behind a soon-to-be LA-bound Nate Bulmer and his wife, to the right of Team Mautner and to the left of Cole Closser and his partner. She looked young and wore braces, which was perfect for that room. Closser is from Arkansas, the first cartoonist I can remember being from that beautiful state. Liza Donnelly hosted. There was a quick tribute to Kim Thompson, various stand-and-bows from SPX people, and a sprightly run through a show dominated by female presenters. Rutu Modan had the funniest line of the night when she noted that it was kind of unfair to have to present an award having just lost one 30 seconds earlier. "You should work on that," she humorously admonished. People cheered loudest for Sam Alden. Michael DeForge won three and kind of blew his thank yous on the first walk-up-to-the-podium. He's in a good place right now, that young man, and the Drawn and Quarterly volumes begin very, very soon.

* still don't have any idea why awards lists don't automatically come with phonetic spellings. That would seem easy to do. I'm not sure I'd nail "Lale Westvind" if I'd never seen it before, either. There were multiple presenters working in a second language, too. Maybe they do provide them, I don't know. I always wonder that, with every show in every medium.

* I like the festival feel of those awards, and I think they're a boon. It's fun to vote on them, and I think it's a way to rope a lot more people into the show's general vibe.

image* The sponsor speech to close the Ignatzes from Chip Mosher was interesting for a bunch of reasons. One was that comiXology was on hand all weekend in the first place in the form of Mosher and a couple of his colleagues -- not a lot of the general industry apparatus was. I saw maybe one big-mainstream editor, maybe two mid-major representatives and fewer than a half-dozen folks from retail. Another thing that intrigued me about Mosher's speech and sponsorship is that comiXology is killing it right now, adding employees in a time when everyone is cutting and conquering Europe, but Mosher was on hand at SPX making a case for people to use their Submit program despite what is likely no compelling business-survival sense for them to be recruiting aggressively. That says something about that company. My favorite thing about Mosher's little speech, however, was that he was basically introduced as the guy who, when he finished talking, everyone could start drinking and eating from the chocolate fountain, which has to be the most hilarious introduction to any speech ever. "Here is the man keeping you from having a good time. Give him a hand!" I'm surprised people didn't yell "hurry up" right from the audience, even though Mosher spoke quickly.

* I saw Mosher a bunch of times over the weekend. I wasn't aware he was a comics lifer, essentially, and was a teenaged retail employee back in Texas a long time ago. He was one of the people putting bullet holes into comics being sold by Shannon Wheeler, and a lot of the more interesting sort of art/alt projects at Boom! when he was there bear his imprimatur. There was a lot of talk about comics marketing that weekend, its limits and its possibilities, and Mosher is kind of a walking avatar for those issues in the work he does for the digitally-focused company.

* the Ignatz afterparty seemed to go for a shorter time and without the just-outside area being a way to stay cool and drink outside. We were marshaled from that part of the building with some firmness when the party shut it down. I had a good time talking to a bunch of people I hardly ever see otherwise, including Karen Green and Box Brown. Brown and I got about 10 minutes into our long-overdue, I'm guessing will-be-25-minute discussion of the last 50 years of professional wrestling.

* I spent a good twenty minutes drinking beers with Noah Van Sciver and the top of a slumped-over Sean Ford's head. (Sorry, Sean.)

* for some reason despite punting up to ten names this time out right there on the show floor, I remembered the name of a Syracuse University professor with whom I had drinks once in 1984 (and no I'm not that old, I'm very tall for my age and the drinking age was 19). It's a very small world.

* Sunday.

* I love the fact that SPX makes time for people to do things between the show events -- hitting a few strong points as opposed to seeking to please everyone under the sun. We are a "more" sub-culture, so anyone that opts for less is not only likely to succeed in a very specific way if they hit their marks, but they're doing us all favor, besides. In this case, being able to spend nearly all of early Sunday doing interviews and generally catching back up is a godsend compared to the drumbeat I feel at other shows. There is enough time to go all the way out for dinner in a restaurant a good distance anyway and make it back to the Ignatzes without speeding.

* a lot of these shows really do seem to be about execution. They could do two more panel tracks at this thing and make all of those people happy, but I think the show would suffer overall, at least as currently constituted. I think you're going to start seeing a less is more strategy at a lot of these shows, both generally -- publishers are beginning to wake up to what sells at shows now as compared to five or ten years ago -- and specifically, maybe limiting the number of cartoonists and comics-makers they'll host at any one time.

* Kate Beaton was this year's Charles Burns, someone of major import that as I mentioned earlier just happened to be there as opposed to doing business in a formal way. I'm told that Kate Beaton and Jeff Smith realizing they were distantly related wasn't just weird it was delightful to watch for their enthusiasm in figuring it out. Those are two very nice people. They should sell bottled water from that region of Canada.

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* Sunday seemed less stressed to me on the floor. That morning you started to see sell-outs. Yes, some of them were from cartoonists with publishers where some folks' first reaction was that maybe more books should have been brought, but some of them came from cartoonists on their own. Hip Hop Family Tree sold out, but so did Operation Margarine #3. Frank Santoro said Sunday night that his Pompeii was all gone by show's end and he guessed that meant about 120 sold. Jeff Smith and Cartoon Books did an enormous business in RASL. They sold out of their books and all of the books that didn't sell at Politics and Prose (told you there was a happy ending). Annie Koyama and the Secret Acres people said they had done very well. Benjamin Marra's Blades And Lazers was a sell-out -- Marra himself was only there the first day.

* Ed Piskor's response to his book being sold out was to aggressively solicit orders for copies to be mailed to patrons from Piskor himself. That book should do very well.

* there seemed a bigger sprawl of people hanging out all over the hotel on Sunday, not just the exhibition hall and the panel rooms. It was a glorious, lazy, genteel and genial afternoon. I tracked down the latest Monster. I watched Veronica Mautner trade comics with Ryan Cecil Smith. I picked up the new Love And Rockets.

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* in my orbit, people were talking about the Monster, the Hellen Jo issue of Frontier, the new Farel Dalrymple book at AdHouse (which sold out), the Todd Bak book at Floating World (also sold out), the comics from the Italian publisher including their anthology, and the comics by Anna Bonngiovanni and Sophie Goldstein. More than a few folks enthused at me about the accordion book of Anders Nilsen. It was a show of solid debuts.

* I got to see the Telegraph Gallery prints for the first time and I wanted to travel back in time and have 15 of these prints up on the walls in my college housing bedroom that confused my fraternity brothers and friends as opposed to that one Jaime Hernandez poster and a couple of Steve Rude portfolio plates.

* I saw about ten minutes of Sam Henderson and Michael Kupperman moderated by Tim Hodler, a panel Gary Panter practically rubbed his hands with glee to get to see. It was disjointed, funny and uncomfortable, not necessarily in that order. Ulli Lust left a few minutes after I did. I don't know why, but what struck me as funniest was when people would try to ask questions about it that hadn't been there. "How did Kupperman do the Val Kilmer hair?" is a sentence that needed to be formed by human mouths long before SPX 2013.

* topics of conversation in the hall were future plans -- a lot of people moving, a few new couples or word of same, people taking jobs -- gender/race issues, generational differences, the state of the industry and the state of the show.

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* let's talk about the last of those. I got a lot more negative reports talking to as many people on the floor as I could than I've read the last few days on-line from people reporting on SPX. This includes some of the same people being sunnier now than when I talked to them. Hm. So either they were more pessimistic on the floor, or are more optimistic away from the floor. Perhaps the weekend got better once I had moved along. I couldn't possibly say. But I do have to trust what I was hearing, and how I pursued my sample, and this tells me while some people did super-well a lot of folks did okay or maybe even a little less than okay. One person talked in terms of making gas money, which isn't exactly ambitious. One young woman to whom I spoke was shut out. This wasn't alarming on its own -- most shows are going to have an array of results -- but stood in stark contrast to last year when the only person I talked to that didn't shout back "I did awesome" with their fists thrust over their heads victory-style struck me as so odd I did the Little Rascals bob-chin double take right there and immediately bought something from them. If I had applied a standard of buying something from people that felt they their sales were a little less than they thought they'd be, I would have gone broke.

* there was endless speculation about the difference in sales. Most people targeted the number of people exhibiting, from a variety of standpoints. More people meant more things to buy, even though crowds were generally good throughout. Some folks said that if there had been fewer people exhibiting many of them would have become buyers, which I'm not sure I all the way believe. Some people argued the number of excellent high-ticket items kind of sucked oxygen that in the past might have gone to smaller, handmade items. A couple of folks pointed out that anything that won an award or was otherwise acknowledged in a prominent place even if it was just the Expo's debut books list seemed to do well, which they felt was a sign that people were overwhelmed to the point of hoping for direction. The award winners at the Ignatzes seemed to get a bump. Another theory advanced is that a lot of the handmade work is so expensive now that it's simply harder for people to buy a lot of books at the show.

* my hunch is that convention sales are part of a fragile mechanism that probably did feel the effect in the change in the show's size.The crowds are amazing, so I'm not sure there's a ton more that can be done there in order to attract enough people that everyone gets business. There was a lot of cash being spent, for sure. Warren Bernard was happy to report the ATMs were emptied, which all by itself meant tens of thousands of dollars on the floor. A lot of folks use plastic now, too. Was it enough to cover what might have been 600 people hoping to crush it? Probably not.

* the best line here was from Andrea Tsurumi: "I sold a lot more this year. [pause] I had much better stuff to sell."

* part of what dogged the entire weekend was that after 2011's grief-filled weekend marked by Dylan Williams' death and last year's jubilation at most folks being healthy and getting healthier, not to mention its godly level of marquee talent, this was in comparison more of a solid year that was likely to suffer a bit in comparison no matter how many people Jeff Smith made smile just by his presence, or Carol Tyler made laugh, or Peter Bagge put at ease. Those kinds of years are important; they show off a show's core strength.

* of what's out there in other areas of comics to be read about the show, I liked Whit Taylor's practical advice, Nick Mullins' comparison of SPX to APE and Mike Dawson's affecting admission that 2012 was a rough year for him.

* Sunday night I hung out a bit with Frank Santoro, Dash Shaw, Sam Alden and Bill Kartalopoulos over dinner and then a wide variety of cartoonists and comics people a bit later on. The differences in opinions on industry issues by generation has been intriguing to track, and should be for several years to come. The biggest difference to my mind from five years ago is that we have a lot of cartoonists in the field now that simply do not give two shits about some longstanding issues of great interest to a comics people older than 35.

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* my big worry for the cartoonists that tend to gravitate towards SPX remains industry, or whatever might replace industry, being as effective and useful for the artists as we can make it. We have an enormous number of talented people making comics right now. Not all of them are great, but a significant percentage have something to say, an audience to develop that if given the chance to find that work might be really into them. I'm not sure we have the same level of talent or consistent execution at a high level on the industry side of things. Let's use this site as an example. This site does reasonably well in terms of its overall consideration as a mechanism that covers and allows entry into comics. CR is generally well-liked, it generates some income, it sometimes gets to be up for awards. At the same time, let's face it: this is a blog, run part-time, at times in haphazard fashion (I frequently don't get a review up; I skip Sundays that should have interviews for lack of time), on equipment that barely works using 2004 software. I love my site, but it's not Building Stories in terms of its face to the world. The threshold is low for entry into comics but has become higher and higher for becoming a successful cartoonist. I'm not sure that threshold has skyrocketed in similar fashion for those of us not content-makers. It's low and may remain low. God bless us all, but a lot of folks working as non-creatives in comics are better at explaining why we do things the way we do them than ever become better at doing those things. We're heading towards some really interesting conversations about what can be expected and what can be achieved for and by the level of talent we have making comics right now. When someone is getting invited around the world to various festivals and shows, when they see their work the subject of attention in mainstream publications like the New York Times or on-line where the eyeballs can be counted, when they see other people moving units and receiving accolades that they consider peers, some will understand that's just the way things cultural churn works right now but I bet more and more people are going to ask if there isn't something more that can be done on their behalf. I'm not sure the old models hold true in a lot of areas the way they used to, whether that's an expectation for, say, coherent digital sales strategies or for a certain level of excellence concerning art direction, or some sort of answer to the notion floated that all art is going to have an equal shot at the marketplace.

* we need to have real conversations about where this ends up, if the generation of comics-makers in their primes is an aberration that we'll never see again or a benchmark against which the actual work and reach -- not the perceived promise and arguable exposure -- of cartoonists beginning to do major work right now can reasonably hope to exceed. Then we need to figure out where everyone else may fit in. We need to imagine a better comics industry, or whatever stands in its place, the way that people in the 1970s and 1980s imagined better comics.

* there's a lot to discuss. One interesting side-note is that I think we have more skilled comics-makers who might not end up being published at all were their publishing partner to leave the field tomorrow. While there are alternatives galore, that doesn't mean that they're suited to all comics-makers. I'd rather a field with as many options as possible, not just one aimed at folks with the ability to brand themselves or with friends and family that have enough money to support what they do. I want all the options. That even one of a dozen or so publishers leaving the field could have a drastic impact on the artistic lives of several people in a way that can't be ameliorated suggests a sort of cultural parsimony in terms of basic publishing opportunities. And there's always the financial consideration. We haven't seen a big burn-off yet in terms of talent leaving the field, but we may as a bunch of those born after 1980s get into their late 30s and early 40s. We live in interesting times.

* there were more people around Sunday night in 2013 than in 2012, although the night ended semi-early for me. Noah Van Sciver left my company with the wonderful, "I'm going to go hang with my friends now." Talked to a bunch of people, including Marc Arsenault, Charles Brownstein and Caitlin McGurk. McGurk is back at work looking for donations to the Dylan Williams Collection at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, and I think that's a vital mission for SPX to support on its floor by letting her do that without getting in her way, the same way that so many journalists and industry folks are left alone to do what they do there. When a show becomes less vital, the lack of attendant business is one of the first signs that it's headed in that direction.

* my apologies to everyone I missed, and I assume it was a lot of you. I'm sorry. I have a hard time remembering things now.

* comics is the best place in the world unless you need something from it. Peak experiences are important, but so is what we do with them. SPX 2013 was a reminder of some of comics' core strengths and its underlying fragility.

* I was glad to get home, not just to get away to comics but to work on them some more, in a different context, away from the eyes of my peers. Those moments are important, too. If 2012 was the year I learned to love comics shows for the first time, 2013 is the year I've learned to love the time in-between those very fun weekends in terms of my involvement with this medium. I hope people came home and got to work. There's a lot to do. There's a lot that can be done.

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Go, Look: Things John Porcellino Found In A Box

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Collective Memory: SPX 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: George Woodbridge Masked Ranger Cover Gallery

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: Digital News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* I would imagine that details on Jeff Smith's launch of his forthcoming webcomic would be of significant interest to a lot of the comics camps out there, if not all of them. Smith has to be the highest profile creator with serious serial-comics options to opt instead for an on-line distribution model followed by collection in print. That should be fascinating in terms of how it goes.

* speaking of which, that's a fairly major re-design over there at Smith's place already, one that indicates we'll be getting a lot more than just new webcomic episodes once it rounds into shape.

* I'm kind of at a loss more than usual this week on on-line comics news... hm... I probably need to re-think this column because it certainly hasn't had the desired effect of forcing me to report on this particularly landmass of Planet Comics more effectively. The solution is to probably just bear down and be a better blogger. That's usually the answer. It may be that in the new year I just bite the bullet and try to find a columnist. Please no one pitch me, though.

* one thing I have enjoyed looking at recently is the on-line component of the Cartozia Tales effort, if only because I would imagine a lot of comics no matter what their model would like to plug into the energy and fanbase that a lot of on-line comics have in terms of building initial interest and crowd-funding momentum.

* speaking of that kind of thing, this is the first SPX that I didn't feel like there was this kind of odd webcomic world within the larger SPX world. It just kind of all felt like comics.

* finally, I wake up every day lately grateful for the newly updating Achewood. I'm not sure why, but it seems a fragile thing. Everything seems fragile now.
 
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If I Were In St. Petersburg, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: The Venus Series

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Bruton on Thunder Brother: Soap Division #6. Steve Morris on Button Man. Chris Mautner on Tarzan: The Complete Russ Manning Newspaper Strips Volume One: 1967-1969. Alex Lupp on Chester 5000: XYV.

* Marie Severin draws the X-Men.

* not comics: on engaging with problematic art.

* Steve Sunu talks to Marc Andreyko. Hannah Means-Shannon talks to the Comic Book Men. Keith Silva talks to Isaac Cates.

* well, there was no way I wasn't going to click on a link to "Peter Bagge on the new MySpace." I had forgotten about the new MySpace since those semi-terrifying commercials from the NBA Finals had faded from memory.

* there's a nice Richard Sala flickr gallery here. I would run a proper "go, look" but using the images is disabled so you're stuck with text -- for this link, not for the gallery, which is glorious. Sala is in an excellent place art-wise right now, and has been for years and years, and I always like looking at what he wants to put out there.

* finally, help solve the mystery of the idle, doodling cartoonists.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Steve Ringgenberg!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Coop!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Tom Williams!

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September 19, 2013


By Request Special: Lisa Hanawalt's Superhero Paintings

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I don't know that these are tied into any special need, but I liked looking at them and like the little Hanawalt painting I own, so I thought it might be of interest
 
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Go, Look: Three From Simon Gane

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Go, Look: Roger Langridge Begins New Cycle Of Sketches

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* my SPX report is finished and will be up tomorrow, hopefully in a version that does not kill people by boring them to death like the current one would.

* totally forgot that Boomfest in St. Petersburg is underway. Someday I hope to go to that show.

* we are in the midst of a bunch of stuff going on in conjunction with the Brooklyn Book Festival. There are also events in St. Louis and Portland.

* MIX looms.

* finally, I did not notice right away that both Vancouver and Baltimore have con dates set for 2014.
 
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Go, Look: No Network And A Lot Of Kids

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Missed It: AAEC Swaps Out Board; Fiore Assumes Presidency

I totally missed the Association of American Editorial Cartoonist doing their switch from one board to the next. That means Mark Fiore has moved from incoming president to actual president with Jack Ohman taking his place in the on-deck circle. Other board members include that great writer-about-comics and fine cartoonist RC Harvey and alt-editorial cartoonist Jen Sorensen. That's an interesting crew there. Fiore won the 2010 Pulitzer.
 
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If I Were In St. Petersburg, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: MW Kaluta Draws Pellucidar

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Todd Klein has a new print for sale; he talks about its creation here. Those are almost always super-nice.

image* Gavin Jasper discusses Thunderbolts.

* Matt Bors notes the oddity of superhero comics fans that hate years and years and years of material but keep buying it. Then again, I continue to vote.

* not comics: why being asked to work for free sucks.

* muppet + grant morrison.

* not comics: I have to imagine it's super-weird to have someone tattoo their work on your skin, but I also think it would be worse to show the person whose work you've used your tattoo. What if they don't like it? What if you've visually misquoted them? I wonder if it's weirder or less weird if it's a friend.

* finally, Evan Dorkin draws Batman in the animated style. Speaking of Dorkin, there's a new place to find his animation work: here.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Chris Wright!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Cynthia Martin!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Sarah Oleksyk!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Garry Leach!

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September 18, 2013


D+Q Announces Gilbert Hernandez's Bumperhead As Author Wins Pen Center USA Graphic Literature Award

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Big two-fer for Gilbert Hernandez today as it was announced that the world-class cartoonist would be the 2013 recipient of the Pen Center USA's graphic literature award for outstanding body of work while at the same time his second book with Drawn and Quarterly, Bumperhead, will be released in Fall 2014. D+Q published Marble Season earlier this year.

The next D+Q will continue an incredibly fruitful and hard-hitting series of works from the cartoonist, a run which began with Marble Season is likely by Fall 2014 to include work in two issue of the iconic publication Love And Rockets, and encompasses a number of other original and collected works. I think he might be on the grandest run over a several-month period enjoyed by any cartoonist in the history of the medium.

According to the PR, "Bumperhead is the story of a young Hispanic boy and his immigrant father who doesn't speak English. Nicknamed 'Bumperhead' by the neighbourhood bullies -- due to his odd-shaped head -- he frets over his dad's inability to understand the world around him. On top of that he's trying to gain the attentions of his dream girl and fit into American culture. Bumperhead explores the intergenerational immigrant identity, and the complexities of the father-son relationship."

The usual line-up of D+Q support players will be involved: FSG distributing in the US, Raincoast Books in Canada, Samatha Haywood representing international rights.

My review of Marble Season can be found here.

The Pen Center USA awards have been around since the early 1980s. It is a regional competition and honors creators in a number of categories. The graphic literature awards has been around since 2010. Its past winners are Matt Fraction (2010), Daniel Clowes (2011) and Joe Sacco (2012). It comes with a cash prize and there's a dinner in Beverly Hills.

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Go, Look: Harrison Cady Sketchbook

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Festivals Extra: CAB Continues Roll Out On Limited Programming Slate; Releases Kim Deitch Poster

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Paul Karasik dropped me a line about Comic Arts Brooklyn announcing another panel on its limited programming slate. This time it's what looks basically like a Young Cartoonists panel called "What We Like" to be hosted by Karen Green and to feature Katie Skelly, Lisa Hanawalt, Michael DeForge and Joe Lambert. I actually think that could be fascinating in that younger cartoonists tend to be exposed to a magnificent variety of material in all sorts of odd fashion since the horn of plenty that is cable TV and Internet culture started barfing around 1995 or so. You tend to have real obscurities mixed in with very broad mainstream material. Plus those are all visually appealing artists.

I don't plan on making singular posts out of every piece of programming added to CAB, but I hope by posting Karasik or Green will find a way to get me into the panel audience for this one. That Knitting Factory venue is not the biggest venue in the world; that show is weeks away and I've already given up on being seated at the City Of Glass reunion panel.

Also, for no particular reason, here's the Kim Deitch poster they've recently released.

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Go, Look: Liniers

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Go, Look: Images From A P. Craig Russell Portfolio

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Festivals Extra: Wizard World Expands Its Slate Again

Heidi MacDonald has a nice report here on the convention organizers Wizard World adding seven shows to its docket. According to MacDonald's post, their forthcoming schedule looks like this now.

image* September 20-22: Wizard World Ohio Comic Con
* October 18-20: Wizard World Nashville Comic Con
* November 22-24: Wizard World Austin Comic Con

* January 24-26: Wizard World Portland Comic Con
* February 7-9: Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con
* March 7-9: Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con
* March 28-30: Wizard World Louisville Comic Con
* April 4-6: Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con
* May 2-4: Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con
* May 30-June 1: Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con
* June 19-22: Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con
* August 1-3: Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con
* August 21-24: Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
* September 12-14: Wizard World Richmond Comic Con
* September 26-28: Wizard World Nashville Comic Con
* October 11-12: Wizard World Austin Comic Con
* October 31-November 2: Wizard World Ohio Comic Con
* November 7-9: Wizard World Tulsa Comic Con

Here's where that same list runs into some scheduling conflicts with other comics shows, the "competing" show in parentheses.

* September 20-22: Wizard World Ohio Comic Con (Project Comic-Con in St. Louis; Rose City in Portland)
* October 18-20: Wizard World Nashville Comic Con (GeekGirlCon in Seattle)

* January 24-26: Wizard World Portland Comic Con (Amazing Arizona Comic Convention)
* March 28-30: Wizard World Louisville Comic Con (Emerald City in Seattle)
* April 4-6: Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con (Nothing yet, but good chance either MoCCA or WonderCon could fall here)
* June 19-22: Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con (HeroesCon in Charlotte)

I'm sure there will be others as the schedules fill out.

There's nothing here that looks like a big deal, and certainly there's nothing like the close proximity this year's event in Portland had to Emerald City -- and that ended in an Emerald City blowout. I guess it might be worth noting that Wizard is going to have a show the same weekend as the super well-liked HeroesCon in Charlotte for the trivia of it. Wizard futzing around with announcing a competing show in Atlanta was, along with its inability to take the plunge in New York City and thus allowing Reed that foothold, the thing that killed their momentum from several years back when their shows looked like they might become a more serious thing for the comics industry than they've been since.

For the most part, Wizard's cons are their own thing, and you're really only talking about a potential hassle if something were moved close to a super-similar show. It's hard for me to imagine wanting to go to any Wizard show at this point. I know plenty of comics people still do them, both in the "that's my local show" way and the "I'll stand out in this sea of non-creator driven comics" way. Wizard's shows seem mostly -- not entirely, but mostly -- for a certain kind of general genre fan that I'm not these days and to the extent that I married any passion to that love that would put me in a convention hall never was. There's no industry component to them at all, except maybe in an informal sense. Looking at that list, if I had to attend one it would be the New Orleans show because of New Orleans. I've heard people say nice things about the New Orleans and the St. Louis shows, and I still know people that go to their Chicago summer event.
 
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Go, Look: Max Wittert's X-Men Comics

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YALSA Names Its Great Graphic Novels List For Teens

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The full press release driven article is pretty self-explanatory: each year the "Great Graphic Novels For Teens Committee" picks a bunch of books that they believe represent quality and appealing reads for teenagers. This year 55 books were selected from 98 nominations. Ten books are identified in a list that "exemplify the quality and range of graphic novels appropriate for teen audiences." That list is:

* Backderf, Derf. My Friend Dahmer. 2012, illus., Abrams, paper, $17.95, 978-1419702174.
* Fetter-Vorm, Jonathan. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb. 2012, illus., Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Hill and Wang, $22.00, 978-0809094684.
* Lambert, Joseph. Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller. 2012, illus., Disney Hyperion/Disney Book Group, $17.99, 978-1423113362.
* Bendis, Brian Michael and Sara Pichelli. Ultimate Comics Spider-man, V.1. 2012, illus., Marvel, $24.99, 978-0785157120.
* Hicks, Faith Erin. Friends with Boys. 2012, illus., Roaring Brook/First Second, paper, $15.99, 978-1596435568.
* Kwitney, Alisa, Rebecca Guay and others. A Flight of Angels. 2011, illus., DC/Vertigo, $24.99. 978-1401232009.
* Long, Mark, Nate Powell and others. The Silence of Our Friends. 2012, illus., Roaring Brook/First Second, paper, $16.99, 978-1596436183.
* Murakami, Takashi. Stargazing Dog. 2011, illus., NBM Publishing, paper, $11.99, 978-1561636129.
* Telgemeier, Raina. Drama. 2012, illus., Scholastic/GRAPHIX, $23.99, 978-0545326988. (Image Above)
* Waid, Mark, Paolo Manuel Rivera and Marcos Martin. Daredevil V. 1. 2012, illus., Marvel, $19.99, 978-0785152378.

The lists are presented at the ALA midwinter meeting, and hopefully provide librarians with a guide to add books to their collections. Congratulations to the authors that placed a book on any of these lists.
 
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Go, Look: Kate Or Die!

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Go, Look: Terry Austin's Heroine 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.

*****

JUL131092 COMIX RETROSPECTIVE SPIEGELMAN HC (MR) $39.95
It may be comics burnout coming off of SPX, but I'm looking at the list of new releases and coming up reasonably empty -- at least in terms of a lot a books I'd check out. Chief among the books I'd want to see is this retrospective of Art Spiegelman's career, handsomely mounted by D+Q. That's a fine partnership fora book like this one.

imageJUL131288 BIG WET BALLOON HC $12.95
I don't always pay proper attention to the books TOON releases. That's mostly my fault, with maybe just a dash of work coming from cartoonists for whom I have little natural affection. I love looking at Liniers work, though, and am intrigued by what he might do with this particular kind of story.

JUL130041 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #111 $3.50
JUN130717 MAGIC WHISTLE #13 (MR) $3.99
Let's limit the serial comic book format comics this week, too: imagine a quick trip to the comic shop, someone sitting in the car impatient for your return. I always look at the latest of the Mignola comics and have started to collect them in that format. The Magic Whistle is the very funny Sam Henderson in the format best suited for the kind of comics he makes. I own the previous twelve.

APR130362 POPEYE CLASSICS HC VOL 02 $29.99
This is the Bud Sagendorf series, but I haven't looked at either the comics or collections yet. I may or may not solely be interested in the Segar material, I don't know yet.

APR131129 EVERYBODY IS STUPID EXCEPT FOR ME HC EXPANDED ED $24.99
This is an expanded hardcover edition of the recent book of political and cultural reportage from that ace of all comedic-sensibility wielding cartoonists of the last 25 years: Peter Bagge. It was fun to be around Bagge at this year's Small Press Expo, and I hope people continue to pay attention to his comics right up through the 25th anniversary of Hate in 2015 and beyond. It'd make a good companion buy with the Woman Rebel book from D+Q.

JUL131095 REGGIE 12 HC $21.95
Speaking of D+Q, here is the pretty-looking Brian Ralph collection of magazine cartoons. I like just about everything Ralph does, and as it feels sometimes he's doing less and less as his career as an educator continues to solidify into a major life undertaking, I am very cognizant of each and every release. I wasn't kidding about the word "pretty-looking," either. That's a nice-looking book. It's also the cartoonist's birthday, if that makes a difference.

JUL130441 CENTURY WEST OGN (MR) [DIG] $7.99
This is a Howard Chaykin work that was published in Europe refurbished at one of his current comics homes, the resurgent Image. I look at everything Howard Chaykin does.

JUL131239 SCHOOL SPIRITS HC (MR) $19.95
The first of two PictureBox books on this week's list, I have yet to catch up with Anya Davidson's work in this volume. PictureBox is on extremely strong run right now, so I assume this one is of exceedingly high quality, too.

JUN131448 TRIPWIRE 21ST ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL $24.99
Hey, it's our old friends at Tripwire, refusing to die.

JUL131238 POMPEII GN (MR) $19.95
This if Frank Santoro's new book, which he told me sold out at SPX. I like Frank's work generally, and look forward to seeing how teaching comics might have had an impact on how he makes them. Whoops -- gotta go!

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Death Lies Ahead

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Go, Look: An Edgar Rice Burroughs Portfolio By Frank Frazetta

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here are the long lists for the forthcoming British Comic Awards; I like the idea of doing that. Although I have to imagine if you don't make the long list you're pretty bummed.

image* Richard Bruton on Transreality.

* David Berry talks to Jeet Heer. James Sturm talks to Connor Willumsen. Adam McGovern talks to Seth. Vaneta Rogers profiles Charles Soule.

* this passionately constructed post is really instructive if you have a passing interest in superheroes, or maybe a past interest, and you're sometimes confused by some of the criticisms the mainstream comic book lines will sometimes engender from passionate fans about a subset of issues, such as how a kind of character is represented or treated across the board. One thing about which I've written in the past that I think is super-interesting is the idea that you can be invested this thoroughly in a subset of your reading experiences.

* not comics: I don't know how I ended up with this in an open tab, but it's cute.

* finally, there was that time Dave Sim wrote to the New Yorker.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, William Stout!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Chris Radtke!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Brian Ralph!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Gary Groth!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Robin Brenner!

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Happy 45th Birthday, John Porcellino!

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September 17, 2013


Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

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By Tom Spurgeon
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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OTBP: Monster, Vol. 3

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Missed It: Your 2013 Shel Dorf Awards Nominees

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I noticed that one can vote for this year's Shel Dorf Awards now, and subsequently learned that the nominees haven't been posted here yet. I don't know if that's because they're new or if I just missed them, but I'm pretty sure it's the latter. My apologies. The awards are given out at the October Detroit show, and are named after key figure in the development of comics conventions Shel Dorf.

The nominees are:

Writer of the Year
* Brian K. Vaughn
* Dan Slott
* Mark Waid
* Robert Kirkman
* Scott Snyder

Penciler of the Year
* David Aja
* Fiona Staples
* Greg Capullo
* Jim Lee
* Ryan Stegman

Inker of the Year
* Bill Sienkiewicz
* Jonathan Glapion
* Mark Morales
* Scott Williams

Colorist of the Year
* Brandon Graham
* Dave Stewart
* Fiona Staples
* Laura Allred
* Nei Ruffino

Editor of the Year
* Chad Lambert
* Craig Yoe
* Raven Gregory
* Scott Allie
* Steve Wacker

Cover Artist of the Year
* Alex Ross
* David Aja
* Francesco Francavilla
* J.H. Williams III
* Skottie Young

Letterer of the Year
* Chris Eliopoulos
* Chris Ware
* Jaymes Reed
* Joe Caramagna
* Todd Klein

Mini Series of the Year
* 47 Ronin
* Age of Ultron
* Five Ghosts
* Godzilla
* Star Trek The Next Generation: Hive

Original Graphic Novel of the Year
* Arsenic Lullaby -- The Big Stall
* Building Stories
* District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington DC
* Parker: The Score
* God Hates Astronauts

Web Comic of the Year
* Battlepug by Mike Norton
* Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio
* Penny Arcade
* Questionable Content
* Adventures of Dr McNinja

Syndicated Print Strip of the Year
* Beardo by Dan Dougherty
* Dilbert
* Funky Winkerbean
* Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis
* Pickles

Comic To Multi-Media Adaption of the Year
* Arrow CW
* Injustice: Gods Among Us
* Iron Man 3
* Man of Steel
* The Walking Dead

Comic Blogger of the Year
* Decapitated Dan
* Heidi MacDonald The Beat
* Rich Johnston Bleeding Cool News
* Robot 6 (various contributors)
* Tom Spurgeon The Comics Reporter

Continuing Series of the Year
* Batman
* Daredevil
* Hawkeye
* Saga
* Superior Spider-Man
* The Walking Dead

Self Published Comic of the Year
* Aw Yeah Comics
* Demeter by Becky Cloonan
* Rachel Rising by Terry Moore
* Rainbow In The Dark by Comfort Love & Adam Withers
* Touching Evil by Dan Dougherty

Kids' Comic of the Year
* Adventure Time
* Bodie Troll
* My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
* Princeless
* Sonic The Hedgehog

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look; Perhaps Buy: Gerhard's Prints

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OTBP: Chosen

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Self Made Hero announced a battery of impressive acquisitions last week, including the Christophe Blain-drawn Quai D'Orsay.

image* in what has suddenly become a very good week for comics-are-attractive news, Blank Slate and Rotopol Press are teaming up to do Pimo & Rex from Thomas Wellmann.

* Heidi MacDonald at The Beat caught that Uncivilized Books will be publishing Sam Alden. The book will have as a part of it his well-received Hawaii 1997. The Portland-based Alden was this year's new cartoonist winner at the Ignatzes, and has work in the new Best American Comics.

* JH Williams III shows off a Sandman cover. They're going to sell a lot of those comics.

* finally, just to make this week's column about rights acquisitions as much as is possible, here is the latest from Conundrum Press.

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

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Go, Look: MW Kaluta Draws Carson Of Venus

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I hope things rapidly improve at MyInkComics, victims of a fire.

image* David Brothers pulls out a favorite scene from Dark Knight Strikes Again.

* Tim O'Shea talks to Jon Proctor. Someone at NPR talks to Art Spiegelman. Brandon Soderberg talks to Josh Bayer. Joshua Wolfson profiles Kelly Sue DeConnick. Mike Rhode profiles Michael Wenthe.

* not comics: I sort of still don't get the toys, although I tend to overthink these things.

* Darryl Ayo on Mighty Avengers #1.

* a reminder that Sean Howe's tumblr is still a lot of fun.

* finally, we live in such a convention nation that, like NFL franchises, they're starting to have an impact on how people make development plans.
 
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Happy 70th Birthday, Carlos Sampayo!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Roger Stern!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Hope Larson!

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September 16, 2013


CR Sunday Interview On a Monday: Warren Craghead

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*****

imageWarren Craghead is one of cartooning's most inventive talents, and a leader in non-traditonal comics-making. He's been around long enough to have been an early Xeric recipient. His work is ceaselessly inventive. Warren plucks at comics' formal underpinnings without ever sacrificing the tune: his comics are wholly satisfying above and beyond their uniquely experimental nature. Craghead continues to make comics available through a variety of places, including but certainly not limited to the Comics Workbook site, at Oily Comics and in a forthcoming effort with the Latvian kus! collective. He also makes wonderfully aggressive caricatures for his Ladyh8rs tumblr. Craghead is a Virginia resident, and someone I think of in conjunction with his region's prominent small press mega-show, SPX. He tabled for the first time this year. I love talking to him. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: I don't know that I have any firm grasp on the entirety of what you do vis-a-vis comics, anymore, Warren. I know of projects here and there but I don't know that I know everything the way I used to. For instance, I don't know how much of your artistic life -- how much of your life, even -- is centered around comics. Is there a way to snapshot that? If we ran into each other at a high school reunion, could you give me an idea of what you have going on broad-picture? What role does comics play in everything that you do?

WARREN CRAGHEAD: I think one of the things in the last 15 years or so, the last 10 years for me, has been before that I was doing comics and then there was a bright line and the other side I was doing art, art work, fine arts work. I started with books like Jefferson Forest and Thickets and it's gone forward where everything is just kind of mixed up and smeared around. Now everything feeds into everything else. I have a family. I have two young daughters. I have a full-time job. So I have to recycle as much as I can. [laughs] A lot of the ways I work on comics is I just do a ton of drawings. Then I sit down and try to fit them together, see how they might work together. Some of those drawings might end up used in collages later on. Some might end up in a story I haven't even started yet. All of it becomes the same thing. So now when I'm having shows at art spaces, it's pretty much the same work that ends up printed in magazines. The comics work.

Part of it is because I don't have any time to work anymore, so I have to take every single second... I have to fit in. Part of it is the way I've always been. I've always had this need to break out of normal things.

SPURGEON: When you say you're doing drawings all the time, when you're doing a series of drawings and then seeing how they fit together, is a concentrated period? Is there a way to differentiate between different periods of image-making?

CRAGHEAD: Yeah. Two ways. One is if I get... if someone says they want me to do a piece for this magazine. Say the guys in Latvia, the kus! comics guys. I'm doing a piece for them. It's what I was working on when you called. It's due at the end of the week. It's almost done! There's a theme to it, as I usually have. Now for that one I'll sit down and say, "All right, well, I want to do a 10-page story." So I'll do 40 drawings based on that theme so I can throw out two thirds of them or use them later. Then I find ways to take the best of them and fit them in with text I've been writing, so it sort of fits together.

In those cases, I'm sort of directed. Other ways, sometimes, I have this thing where I'm drawing one or two pages just randomly every day. That's built up over this year where I have this stack of drawings. One of the things I'm trying to do before SPX is take some of those drawings and make a 24-page book out of them. I don't know if it's going to happen or not.

SPURGEON: Is there a visual signifier that connects a series of drawings like that? Is it, "Now I'm going to work this way" when you make the decision to do a series of drawings? Is your image-making consistent? Is something set in stone when you sit down, a right-brain decision to work a specific way for a specific length of time?

CRAGHEAD: Usually. Tpieces I've had on Comics Workbook, the one requirement Frank Santoro gave me is that it has to be inside a comics grid, which for most people is easy. [laughter] For me, that was a great constraint. I took it and ran with it. For the first series I did, I tried to subvert the grid as much as I could. Since then, the ones I did about 700 Club, and the ones I've done about my kids, those have been regular kinds of comics.

Another page is Ladyh8rs, where I draw grotesque portraits of misogynous public figures. That's much more in a caricature style. I have to hit what they look like but at the same time make them look monstrous. That's been a lot different for me to, to do that over the last year and a half. Most of the time, whether I'm doing a piece for a literary journal or a comics thing or I'm just drawing not knowing where it's going to end up, I end up drawing the same way. I don't sit down and say, "This is going to be seen by my SPX friends, so I better draw it this way."

Part of that is because the comics world is open to almost anything now. It's one of the great, liberating things about working in comics. People are open to all kinds of crazy stuff.

SPURGEON: Do you feel like the context has changed for your work over the last 20 years? You were an odd duck when you showed up. You were noticeable just for the oddity. You were noticed for how you broke with most people's comics. Do you think there's a different context for what you do now? Is there a more appealing context for you now?

CRAGHEAD: Yeah, I think so. When you think of publishers like PictureBox, in a big sense, they're definitely straddling the line between fine arts and comics. That's a space I wander around in as well. I think there's a lot of people, younger than me -- some not too much younger -- that make it easier for me to be out there with this weird stuff. I'm thinking of Aidan Koch, Simon Moreton, Jason Overby, some of these people -- Derik Badman -- some of these people that are not working as traditional cartoonists but are still holding onto that essence of comics of images put together, sometimes telling a story, sometimes not. That's always been at the heart of what I've done.

SPURGEON: Do you hear from those folks directly? Are you in the wonderful and horrible position to have people come up to you and say you inspired them, or is it mostly a sense of peer-to-peer relationships?

CRAGHEAD: [laughs] No, I haven't heard that. Not that I can remember. [laughter] There are people for whom I feel I have an affinity, where we've wandered into this strange landscape on our own and are like, "Oh. I've found you." The internet makes that so much better, so much easier to deal with. When I'm talking to Allen Haverholm in Sweden or Oliver East in the UK about work that we're doing, I would never have been able to hook up with those guys without the Internet.

SPURGEON: That's a fairly major factor in your overall comics presence, Warren. You have a lot of work up on-line.

CRAGHEAD: Yeah.

imageSPURGEON: Let me ask about you Ladyh8rs, before we get too far away from it. I'm very fond of that work. Was that just you wanting to make drawings in a certain way? Because that doesn't seem to be a natural progression from anything I know about your art.

CRAGHEAD: It came out of natural outgrowth of being the father of two daughters. [Spurgeon laughs] Last Spring, like a year and a half ago, I live in Virginia and the general assembly here was debating these bills that would make anyone that wanted to have an abortion have a transvaginal ultra-sound. Which meant even a rape victim would be penetrated again if they wanted to have an abortion. I was getting angrier and angrier. I have a friend who's an activist who was in the general assembly just tweeting constantly about what they were saying. So I kept seeing it on my computer. I felt I wanted to do something. So I started doing what I would normally do: I started drawing. I started drawing these people. I thought I should put it on-line. Tumblr makes it easy to put stuff online and for it to be shared.

So I started this Tumblr... for a while, I was doing it every day. Now I'm down to twice a week. The first drawings are pretty crude. Some people I need to go back and draw again like Rush Limbaugh. My first shot at him was fine at the time but I think I've honed my skills in making these people look horrible. [laughter] I'm much better at now than I was.

SPURGEON: How do you mark that growth? What do you have in the tool box now that if you went back to Rush, you would do better?

CRAGHEAD: Well, I think part of it goes back to what you asked earlier. I don't draw figures much, or at least haven't until the last few years. So I was drawing their heads and faces kind of like I would draw a building or debris or rocks on the ground. Over time I've gotten better at saying, "Oh, I can pull this and twist this." As any good caricaturist knows, you can really twist a face around and still have it read as a human face. I'll cross their eyes, or make their nose bigger. A couple of them recently I've left the ears off and it's really disturbing to see them without eyes. [laughter] These are tricks that most cartoonists probably learn when they're baby cartoonists. I didn't learn them because I was too busy trying to draw cubist drawings and some of the crazy paths I went down. In a way, it's brought me back to a greater appreciation of the straight cartooning people. More than I ever have before. Not that I didn't respect them before.

SPURGEON: Oh, I've heard you talk. [Craghead laughs] So what has it been like to have this outlet? You said the project came out of this period of frustration with the ongoing political theater that is the Commonwealth of Virginia. Was it helpful? Has it been helpful? What's it been like to publish that work and have people respond to it?

CRAGHEAD: I'm also employed by the sate university here. I'm a state worker. I could get myself in trouble. I was semi-anonymous at the beginning. I've expanded way beyond Virginia now.

At first it was cathartic for me. A professor here told me he really liked them because the Left doesn't use ridicule enough. I wanted to point him to a lot of comics people. But he said we need to make fun of these people, to show them as the ridiculous people that they are. I think also... I have family friends that have daughters that are older than mine. Mine are five and eight. They're teenagers. They've seen them and responded to them -- these are young women that are just becoming politically aware themselves, and realize their rights are on the line. They seem to appreciate it. I also get some random e-mails.

I don't know what effect it's having. I've tried to troll some of these people on twitter. "Look, I've drawn a picture of you!" With a link. [laughter] Only a couple of people have taken the bait. I was hoping to make some people angry. They all have thick skins, I suppose; they're used to it.

SPURGEON: There's a longstanding tradition in political cartooning of cartoonists drawing the worst elements of a political figure and the political figure asking for the drawing, responding in this flattered, slightly shameless way.

CRAGHEAD: One thing that inspired me, too, was that Philip Guston did a whole series of pictures about the Nixon Administration. I saw a show of those ten years ago. I tried doing some of George Bush, but I couldn't quite capture the horror. This has been my attempt, I guess.

SPURGEON: I wonder if you conceive of your work in a way... you've talked about having a place for your work, which makes me think you might look on what you do as having a specific range of effect. A different way of engaging or bringing in art under this giant umbrella of "comics." When you look at some of those artists, when you look at your own work, do you think there's something your kinds of comics communicate that maybe standard comics can't? Is there a strength in what you do in depicting an inner life, perhaps, or a different set of emotions than usually gets depicted in more traditional employments of the medium? Do you see an advantage to the art you want to do?

CRAGHEAD: I can only speak for my experience. I think anyone can do almost anything in comics. I wouldn't claim I can do something that other people can't. I do know the way I work tends to be more comfortable with -- for lack of a better word -- mystery, or confusion: not nailing everything down. I think that not planning things out... having ideas in mind but making them be stories that tell themselves... someone wrote an essay about William Faulkner where they talked about how some of his books seemed to be stories that told themselves. That's always stuck in my head. I think that way of working can be really fruitful in a strange way.

I think part of it, too, I was thinking about this the other day, that the image is a primary concern for me. In putting together this story for the kus! comics guys, while I labor over the words it's really the image that have to flow together. That's the main starting point for me. Maybe that's a place where I start that other people, more traditional cartoonists -- whose work I love -- don't. I remember reading an interview with Jaime Hernandez, and this could be true or not because I only hazily remember this, where he talked about how he would draw pages and panels would be blank. He'd have whole, finished pages but some panels would be blank. He'd go back and draw in those. Almost like he would understand that the timing of the page required certain panels in certain places and there would be holes he'd go back and fill in. He's an artist strangely that I feel influenced by, strange because my work looks nothing like his, but there's a sense in his work where you as a reader have to do a lot of work to figure out what's going on. Or at least I do. Maybe I'm dumb. He does not spell everything out for you. That taught me a lot as a young comics reader and artists. He does extremely powerful work that's beautiful to look but not necessarily easy to process right away.

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SPURGEON: I'm thinking of is I always think of you as someone who dealt with text on the page as a visual element when few people were. Seeing you treat text as part of the drawing in your work kind of snapped me out of text as this overlay, the way we get them in commercial comics. I wondered if there are elements that you see people play around with, maybe not artists that have a similar aesthetic across the board, but craft elements where you don't have much else in common? Has comics become more like your work in the last 20 years despite itself?

CRAGHEAD: I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but Jason Overby uses these letter stamps. The words are most of the image. I love his work. It infuriates me, because I'm like, "Damn." My biggest compliment is I will curse out someone like Oliver East when I see him doing the same things. This relentless inventiveness in how he puts together a page, how he creates an image. He's someone that I see where his works are the simplest of narratives, taking a walk, but he's relentless inventive like I said in how he draws this stuff.

I recently wrote about Simon Moreton's book Grand Gestures. He draws these guess, and it's like two pages of riffing on how to draw geese. It's crazy. I love that work is able to have that freedom. Austin English did these de Kooning-esque, crazy-ass drawings. They fit now, and are perfectly in place, in the comics world. Aidan Koch the same way. These washed away, eroded drawings that fit really well into the comics world. All of this stuff would fit in a fine arts context as well. In fact, I think most of it is way better than what is being show in the fine arts world. At least what I've seen. That's why I've always been drawn to the comics world. It's always been better. Better work.

Less money, but better work.

SPURGEON: Is that frustrating for you? I would think you've grown accustomed to that fact by now. Is the commercial aspects of it, even finding a little space for the kind of comics you do, is that difficult? Has that had an effect on your art, do you think, that there's such a limited commercial context for what you do?

CRAGHEAD: Yeah, I think it has. In my case, I kind of choose to have a positive spin on it. I don't want to compare myself to them, but TS Eliot and William Carlos Williams, these guys had day jobs that were regular jobs. There weren't commercial concerns about their work. I don't have to worry that I need to sell a piece. Even my friends with gallery careers, they have to worry about how much of a work is going to sell. I feel lucky that I don't have those concerns, with my job and everything. I feel it allows me to go further out on a limb than maybe I would have otherwise. It's one of the liberating things about comics.

The other thing is that there are a lot of resources, and I want to encourage cartoonists to look around at the fine arts world. There is a lot of money floating around in grants and residencies and fellowships that you can get. I've gotten a Virginia museum fellowship -- it's a museum in Richmond that gives out an eight thousand dollar a year fellowship. I've gotten it three times. These places are not just open to my kind of crazy work, but even more traditional comics work. They would love to throw money at our people, the comics people. So I would encourage people to look around for what normally painters would apply for.

CRAGHEAD: There's a prize up in DC, for DC, Maryland and Virginia artists. I've been a finalist there twice. And every time I'm basically showing comics. I'm making the little fold-up books that I make and showing comics pages. Obviously that's not the same as big museum shows and galleries and making thousands of dollars at art fairs and all that. But I think there is a bigger market for us, that we can tap and begin to take our piece of. Maybe that's a good way to think about it.

There are so many good people working in comics right now that have a hard time making it. I would love to see them have the resources to make more stuff so that I can look at it and get frustrated by how good they are. [laughs]

SPURGEON: I saw you last year at SPX. This interview is going to appear on SPX weekend. Is that a value of a place like that, to have these exchanges, such as cartoonists talking to one another about what resources are available out there.

What's the value to you to a show like that?

CRAGHEAD: I thought this would be one of your questions, so I've thought about that. I've never tabled there before. I'm going to with Simon Moreton this time. I may have a different idea afterwords. [Spurgeon laughs] Maybe I'll make a million dollars. Maybe I'll just be exhausted. I don't know. The value for me really is to meet or to listen -- to the luminaries, the Hernandez Brothers or Gary Panter or someone like that, but really more the people I'm in the mix with. To meet Frank Santoro or Austin English. To meet Chucks Forsman and Melissa Mendes. People I've met on the Internet and conversed with, but I've never met in person. I'm sad that I met TCAF this year, where I could have met Oliver, Oliver East.

Last year was great. I got to hang out with Renee French. We've been Internet friends for a long time. She got me obsessed with Formula One car racing, which she loves.

SPURGEON: Yes. Yes she does.

CRAGHEAD: She got me totally into it, too. It was good to finally meet her in person. That's a real value to me. It also used to be of value in that I could see books I'd heard a lot about but hadn't gotten my hands on. But now there's a really good gallery called Telegraph Gallery that opened here in Charlottesville that has all that work in it. It has Retrofit and PictureBox and Fantagraphics. I can go there and see the stuff. It's a great 'zine and comics places. That value isn't as great to me. Seeing people and talking to them... even people I don't know that well but would want to meet, that's happened to me, too.

I still haven't had that Drawn and Quarterly vs. Fantagraphics fistfight over my work that I talked to you about like 20 years ago. [laughter] I'm still waiting for that.

SPURGEON: There can be a whole new generation of people having that fistfight now.

CRAGHEAD: [laughs] Exactly.

SPURGEON: Some of the older folks might not be in fistfighting shape anymore.

One thing I hear from you during this conversation is that you talk about not being shackled by commercial considerations... so is there work you've done with which you're wholly satisfied, if only in conception and ambition. Are there representative Warren Craghead works, works that have taken advantage of this opportunity for unfettered expression? Are there works that have come closest to your ideal?

CRAGHEAD: Yeah. I think that... well, no. [laughter] If I said anything else, my wife would say I was lying. I'm the kind of person that would give my wife a drawing for her birthday and then like six months later I'm cracking open the frame to fix part of it as she gets really angry at me.

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SPURGEON: That's a warning for anyone that wants to buy an original from you.

CRAGHEAD: Keep it away from me. [laughter] Even a book like How To Be Everywhere, which I published in 2007... It's going to be published in Belgium, in the original French, so I've been working on it. Man I want to fix some of those drawings. I'm proud of it, and I think it's a good book. But I draw differently now. There's parts I want to change.

I think some of the shorter pieces I've done over the last few years I'm happy with. The little tiny fold-up books I've done over the last few years I'm happy with. I'm not trying to put myself down, that's a traditional cartoonist's thing I know. I'm just never totally satisfied. I always think I could do something a little bit better. Most of the last few years I haven't published too many books, it's mostly been pieces in magazines and then these tiny books I do for all sorts of different occasions. In those I think there are some works I'm happy with, some I don't look back on and cringe.

There's a story about Willem De Kooning -- I don't know if it's true -- where there's a famous painting of his up in museum. He looks at it, and he goes out to an art store and buys some paint and brushes. He comes back in and starts painting on the painting. The guard is like, "What are you doing?" They don't know who he is. He goes, "This is my painting! I have to fix this part!" I don't know if that's true or not, but I totally understand the sentiment.

SPURGEON: Is there any element to the artist you were that you can't access anymore?

CRAGHEAD: You mean from a long time ago?

SPURGEON: Yeah. Writers sometimes get a chance to re-write something, and in making the attempt they realize it can't be done because they're not the same person, or even close enough to that person to get to the place that person was going.

Is there anything about a way you used to do art that you miss?

CRAGHEAD: I think some of the older work I see a freedom in it that I overthink now. I remember reading something about the guitarist for REM where they asked him why he started playing the mandolin and he said, "Because I'm no good at it. I got too good at guitar. I was no longer stumbling and figuring things out." There's some work that I've done, even the work from the late 1990s that was more traditional cartooning, where I see a freedom I hope I can still find in my work. I do kind of cultivate that. I'm so busy I don't have time to overthink things. I have to go with my gut. Hopefully that gut is reasonably honed and developed.

I guess the other quality I miss from that really old work is that it was more visually accessible at first glance. I feel like the world has caught up to me, and that now, at least in the communities I wander around in, my work is not out there -- there are people that are further out there than me, and that's fine.

imageSPURGEON: This is a super-generic question, but I'm interested in your answer: does having kids around change your approach to art?

CRAGHEAD: Absolutely. I'll draw with the kids. They have this freedom. I remember thinking, "Oh, man. They're so good. I want to find that." Maybe that's why I was talking about freedom earlier. My daughters are five and eight, so there's a real craziness, a real investigation into form, a real figuring things out that I see them do when we're drawing together that for lack of a better word makes me inspired. It makes me want to do that myself. Luckily, I've been able to so far to avoid where I draw something "better" than them and they get all upset and mad about it.

They know I'm weird drawer. They know I draw all the time. We were just on vacation and all three of us had sketchbooks. All three of us were drawing all the time. The other thing it does is it forces me to work quickly in the middle of the night and early in the morning. I have to take care of them.

SPURGEON: I wondered if you thought there was anything regional to your work. You're one of the few cartoonists I think of in terms of being in this specific place, but I'm not sure why.

CRAGHEAD: The last few months I've been thinking a lot about street photography, especially my friend Craig Atkinson; he's an artist and a photographer. He's from the UK. He publishes these photo books. I don't know anything about street photography; I only know it through his work. He'll go around and take pictures of a building, or an event like a festival, and then he'll publish a 28 page book of photographs put in order. I can make the case that they're comics. I probably will at some point. I really like that idea of documenting a space. I think of him along the same lines as Oliver East, who walks and then tries to document those walks in a crazy way.

I also think of the painter Stuart Davis, the American cubist painter from the '30s and '40s, who I'm obsessed with as well. He would go around with his sketchbook and draw things from the town he was in. Then he'd go back to the studio and turn those drawings into sometimes- aggressive cubist compositions. More and more I've wanted to do work that documents where I am and what I see, what's around me. When I see Molly Crabapple's work from Gauntanamo Bay, and Joe Sacco's work, there's obviously a sense of someone being on the scene drawing and reacting to stuff.

When we were on family vacation, we were at Lake Erie in upstate New York. I said, "Okay, I’m going to pretend to be a street photographer this week, but instead of taking pictures I'm just going to draw all the time." I filled up this sketchbook with all these drawings. So I'm going to see if I can put them together into some set of coherence. That sense of place you mention is definitely something I think about more and more.

*****

* Warren Craghead

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* Works from Mr. Craghead's oeuvre, hopefully used in a context that's understandable according to contextual clues

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Go, Read: Dr. Michael J. Vassallo On Venus, Vol. 1

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Go, Read: Ellen Forney, Eric Reynolds On Kim Thompson

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CR's Stand-Alone Publishing News Stories, SPX 2013

These were the publishing news stories that were their own posts on The Comics Reporter during SPX 2013 weekend.

* AdHouse announces collection of Noah Van Sciver's work.
* Fantagraphics announces The Complete Eightball 1-18.
* Fantagraphics to continue with themed Peanuts books with Batter Up, Charlie Brown hardcover.
* Peter Bagge working on additional comics for first new Buddy Bradley collection in several years.
* Retrofit announces its next two publications for Fall 2013.
* Uncivilized Books confirms Fall 2013 schedule including launch of writing-about-comics prose series.
* Youth In Decline Confirms Sascha Hommer for Frontier #3 as issue #2's Hellen Joe spotlight debuts.
 
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Go, Look: Alex Eckman Lawn

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Go, Look: A Dana Andrews Mini-Biography By Bill Everett

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the first "Best Of" list always goes to Heeb, although some publications without a special calendar factor involved get closer than you might think.

image* Richard Bruton on And Then Emily Was Gone.

* I don't know, I figure the actual fixing of the problem involved might take precedence to any complaining of any kind about the treatment of this potential human tragedy in a cartoon. Then again, I imagine one can do both.

* it's tough for me to carve out the time that's probably necessary to jump down the rabbit hole and follow this article to its logical conclusions and any and all permutations of same, but all freelancers with health insurance should be checking to see if there are any changes coming as the health care system slowly changes.

* finally, Scott Edelman seems more concerned than most might be that in celebrating the anniversaries of two of their superteams, they fudge the publication date. That must have been a good summer day at the newsstand, by the way.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Kip Manley!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Kurt Busiek!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Seth!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Tom Kaczynski!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Amanda Emmert!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Mike Mignola!

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September 15, 2013


Uncivilized Books Formally Announces Fall 2013 Schedule, Rolls Out Various Details

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Calling it more of an "open secret" than a formal publishing announcement, the up-and-coming alternative and arts comics publisher Uncivilized Books has now formally announced its Fall 2013 offerings. This includes works in comics form as well as long-form works of criticism. The latter will be published in a devoted series.

That link is here.

The comics works are:

* Pascin by Joann Sfar, Translated by Edward Gauvin, 200 pages at $24.95.
* War of Streets & Houses by Sophie Yanow, 64 pages at $10.95.
* That Night, a Monster... by Marzena Sowa & Berenika Kolomycka, 50 full-color pages at $14.95.

The books in the "Critical Cartoons" series are:

* Ed vs. Yummy Fur by Brian Evenson, 100 pages at $12.95.
* Carl Barks' Duck: Your Average American by Peter Schilling Jr., 100 pages at $12.95.

You can get full details and see cover imagery in the linked portion of this post, above. That looks like an exciting line, and just about anything Uncivilized is doing right now bears watching.
 
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Fantagraphics To Release First New Buddy Bradley Trade Collection In Seven Years This April

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Fantagraphics has announced the April 2014 release of the first new trade collection in seven years featuring Peter Bagge's work on the iconic Buddy Bradley characters. Buddy Buys A Dump will focus on material that's been published in the Hate Annual books. It is a continuation of the Buddy Does Seattle/Buddy Does Jersey omnibus-style collection of that groundbreaking material.

The 144-page, full-color collection will sell for $22.95.

Bagge is actually doing several new pages of comics for the collection, a rarity for this kind of material, and generally welcome given this is the cartoonist's foundational comics character. I hope that the book benefits from an increased attention on Bagge and his work that started with this year's Woman Rebel and that this intensifies in 2014 until 2015's 25th Anniversary of Hate.
 
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Fantagraphics Announces The Complete Eightball 1-18

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Fantagraphics Books has announced a massive hardcover two-volume set, complete with slipcase presentation, collecting the first 18 issues of Daniel Clowes' seminal alternative comics titles Eightball.

The book will list at about $95 for its 454 pages, in full-color. The release will tie into the 25th anniversary of the publication of the title's first issue, in 1989. This will include all of the material between the covers, the covers, and some supplementary commentary-style material to buttress what's there. The entire package will be supervised by Clowes.

The book is planned for August.

While some of the material to go into these two volumes has been collected in other books, Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds told CR there is still "a not-insigificant amount of strips that for whatever reason, Dan never wanted to collect." Reynolds says there should be between 16 to 32 pages of extras, with Clowes perhaps writing something for that material in addition to supervising the design aspects.
 
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Fantagraphics To Continue With Themed Peanuts Books With Baseball-Related Batter Up Charlie Brown

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Fantagraphics has officially announced Batter Up, Charlie Brown!, a best-of selection of baseball-related strip from Peanuts in a kind of gift-book format: hardcover, 64 pages, two-color, appealingly designed including a hand-held format.

There's several interesting things about that as a bit of publishing news. One is that this means the Christmas-related gift book the alt-publisher did last year must have been successful enough for another endeavor. Another is that this -- with softcovers of the dailies and color Sunday editions -- represents an extension of the Peanuts relationship that has been very profitable for the publisher as they head into the last 10 years of the archival collection of the dailies. Yet another is that this will give Fantagraphics another Peanuts-related track to explore as the general licensing traffic for Peanuts picks up in anticipation of the 65th anniversary of the strip in 2015.

The book is due in April.
 
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Retrofit Formally Announces Keep Fresh, Alhambra

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Box Brown and Retrofit Comics have announced the next two releases on their rolling comics production schedule. Keep Fresh by Zejian Shen (upper image) will arrive in October, while Alhambra by Sophia Foster Dimino (lower image) should be available through all channels in November. Both books will make their festival debuts at Comic Arts Brooklyn.

Retrofit is the publishing outfit whose primary mission involves utilizing the idea of lower-cost, lower-entry, fewer-page comic book style formats in order to present alternative and art-comics work.
 
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Please Visit Warren Craghead Today At SPX Table D13

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not only is Mr. Craghead one of comics' unique talents and a cartoonist with whom you should be acquainted, he has graciously agreed to let me move his Sunday interview to a special Monday presentation in order to make room for some publishing news announcements; thank you, Warren
 
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Your 2013 Ignatz Winners

imageThe 2013 Ignatz Awards announced its winners last night during a ceremony held at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel in conjunction with Small Press Expo (SPX). Hosting was Liza Donnelly. Michael DeForge won three awards, in an evening marked by the female presenters. The nominees by category with winners in bold:

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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 MINI-COMIC
* 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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This year's nominating committee was Lisa Hanawalt, Dustin Harbin, Damien Jay, Sakura Maku and Jason Shiga. The awards are voted on by attendees of SPX during the festival.

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Go, Look: Some Ken Battlefield Art

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Go, Look: A Reggie Van Gleason The III Story

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Go, Look: Inferno, The Flame Breather

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Go, Look: The Dan Barry Index At The Fabulous Fifties

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

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

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

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Happy 44th Birthday, John Ira Thomas!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Scott Dunbier!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Lance Tooks!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Salgood Sam!

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September 14, 2013


SPX: Youth In Decline Announces Sascha Hommer For Frontier #3 As Hellen Jo's Issue #2 Debuts

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Ryan Sands of the still-very-new publishing imprint Youth In Decline announced today at SPX that Sascha Hommer will be the focus of the Winter 2013/2014 issue of their rotating showcase title Frontier. That will be the title's third issue.

Sands notes several things about the choice to focus on Hommer for the next issue. It's the first time a substantial work of the cartoonist has appeared in English, and the first time his work has been published by a North American outfit. Hommer is the Hamburg-based author of Insekt and Vier Augen, among others. His work has fans amongst other Youth In Decline affiliated artists, including Michael DeForge.

The stories in the issue will be "Drifter," "The Black Lord," and an excerpt of Transit. Hommer will re-letter from a translator's work.

Youth In Decline is rolling out the Hellen Jo-focused issue of Frontier #2 at the publisher's table at SPX, starting today. That's a 32 page full-color book featuring the girl-gang paintings of recent vintage. It also features an interview conducted by Sands, featuring such turns of phrase as "I draw the girls I admired and despised on the schoolyard, girls whom I secretly wanted to be, girls who treated me like shit. I romanticized and hated them, really did not understand them at all, but I wanted a taste of their power. I wanted to inspire lust and loathing in people who would grovel at my feet."

A release of Hellen Jo handkerchiefs is scheduled for October, and will be available from the publisher at Comic Arts Brooklyn.

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Noel Cook Reminisces
via Mike Lynch


Grant Morrison At Edinburgh Book Festival


Christian Adams Profiled


NCS Cartoonists Drawing The Troops


Interview At "Muhammad Cartoonist's Hideout"
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from September 7 to September 13, 2013:

1. Marvel and Gary Friedrich settle on the Ghost Rider matter in dispute.

2. Buddy and Judy Saunders sell their iconic Lone Star Comics brick and mortar locations.

3. SPX weekend gets underway in Bethesda with a sizable number of first-time exhibitors and the usual "state of small press" atmosphere.

Winner Of The Week
Gary Friedrich

Losers Of The Week
The friends and family of active New York City comics fan Jeffrey Babbitt, tragically murdered reasonably near the comics shop he frequented.

Quote Of The Week
"The digital comics distributor launched in 2007 with fewer than 100 digital titles; it now offers more than 40,000 comics titles, including a fast-growing international business. Comixology marked its 100 millionth download in late 2012, after five years in business, and the company expects to hit 180 million less than a year later." -- Calvin Reid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Mary Fleener!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Tom Dougherty!

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September 13, 2013


Go, Look: The Art Of André Lima Araujo

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A Few Isolated Thoughts On Small Press Expo 2013

The Small Press Expo is this weekend. Here are some last-minute notes about attending this year's show as folks settle in. I've been here since last night. I'll have SPX-oriented publishing announcements all weekend, an Ignatz Awards write-up early Sunday morning, an interview with a first-time exhibitor and formidable cartoonist that day, and a full recap on Monday. Here's to a good time.

1. The real story of SPX may be the audience.
I've written this a bunch of times, but as much as we tend to treat these shows as an experience had by cartoonists and those in the rough conception of what gets called the comics industry, they're frequently as much if not more if not outright about the audience of fans and buyers that come to these shows every year. SPX has many strengths, but none of them would matter if it weren't for the people that come to the show, pay to get in and greatly enjoy themselves. We're kind of a convention nation now, in that comic cons are something that people know about and do. A small press comics festival is slightly different, but these folks know the score and there's never any weird bleed from one kind of show into another. Let's stop and appreciate the other side of the table.

2. Make sure to use the neighborhood.
SPX is the "Camp Comics" show, in that the vast, vast, majority of what happens at the Expo and after hours is confined to the hotel where the exhibition halls and programming rooms are located, which happens to be the same hotel where the vast majority of attending professionals and hardcore fans are staying. I'm typing from one such room right this moment. That doesn't mean you can't make use of the things that go on outside of the show. Heidi MacDonald is speaking at the Library Of Congress; Peter Bagge will be at the Reason offices today and leading a bunch of pros up the road to Atomic Books tonight. I am pretty sure there were "Hey, I'm on the East Coast" events in New York last week and that there will be in the week ahead.

The neighborhood is very, very office complexes and chain restaurants, but it has its useful features. I believe there is still a Dunkin Donuts in a strip mall the other side of the McDonalds where the coffee is just as good as that sold by the hotel. There is a 7-11 and a Whole Foods close by for direct purchase of food and drink to be carried back to one's hotel room. Around the corner from that 7-11 is a small beer and wine store. Nearly all of the walk-in restaurants within a half-mile do carry out. And, you know, it's DC. Sneaking out, even down the road, via train to do something can be a great way to catch a breather from the overwhelming comics-ness of the entire weekend, whether or not you take a bunch of folks with you.

3. Always circle the big room before you start buying.
One thing I always suggest to con attendees is that you spend at least five seconds in front of each table in the exhibition hall before buying a darn thing. I'd make an exception for a piece of original art, or something else that might disappear right that second, but the books themselves can almost wait a couple of hours until you see what's out there.

SPX runs a model debut books posting here; that's a good way to have a few things in mind for which to watch out. Rob Clough recommended some things here. Paul Karasik, if I remember correctly, eyeballs who is going where and visits the tables that have less traffic than others in search of hidden, idiosyncratic gems. I like so much of it it's hard for me to make a specific recommendation -- it's my job to look at these comics, at least it's a big part of it, and therefore it's hard for me to generate a level of acquisitive excitement about encountering these works in the wild. I do look at everything, though, and I'm excited this year to see what, for example, Gary Panter might bring to the show. I love original art. There are a lot of good illustrators here this year. I look forward to seeing if Peter Bagge brought anything weird.

A couple of strategies that are useful if you're overwhelmed is to ask the maker of something you like enough to buy what they like on the show floor -- you might get them recommending a pal, but you also might get something that aligns with your tastes. I also think that the publishers at these shows serve a unique to this context purpose of identifying a few people to whom you might pay attention. Not only do these publishers have debut works they've just published at SPX, but they'll frequently have nearby or even signing right in their booths cartoonists they have recently published or are about to publish. That doesn't mean your tastes will automaticlly line up with a Annie Koyama or a Chris Pitzer, but I think the person they're eyeballing for a potential long-term publishing relationship would have to be worth a second look. I know that's what I do.

And remember you can also follow up with a lot of these cartoonists and all of the publishers -- get their names and get on-line.

4. SPX features model programming.
Bill Kartalopoulos is really good at putting together a programming slate. He has a taste in comics that is closely aligned to what SPX does well, and he works with the moderators in order to encourage good work out of them -- he doesn't overburden them with a billion different panels, for one, and spreads out what he has going on to a number of voices. Like who doesn't want to see Tim Hodler work one of these things (Sam Henderson + Michael Kupperman, I think)?

At any rate, I think you're going to be in good shape no matter when you decide to take some time off of your feet. Other than the Gary Panter (him again) I'm not sure there's any I've specially targeted, but that's mostly because I'm interested in every one.

5. This could be an interesting year in terms of the mood and spirit of the show.
2011 was marked by the sudden, surprise passing of cartoonist and small-press publishing icon Dylan Williams. 2012 was a year of joy and relief after a period of 12 to 15 months filled with a lot of sadness and struggle in the independent comics and small press communities.

I think 2013 could be a reasonably reflective year, in addition to the usual high-spirited shenanigans and the social crush of it all. A number of this latest generation of emergent cartoonists -- the Internet and social media-savvy comics creators born after Reagan was shot -- are in their early 30s now. You don't have it all figured out by age 30 but unless you're a completely self-absorbed goober you do notice that certain storylines for your life simply aren't going to happen as you might have hoped and thought they would, even as others may open up. There's a momentum to life that you didn't have at 23.

In addition, a lot of the art comics publishers seem to have settled on groups of two, three, six cartoonists in that 25-35 age range with whom they're going to work on a couple of books. The potential volatility of some of the deals being offered cartoonists has mellowed out a bit as well: I haven't heard someone saying "This person got this" in a way where the deal struck me as aberrant or primal lunacy for years and years now. It's probably never a good thing to assume one knows what to expect -- there's a lot in comics we wouldn't have if conventional wisdom were ever totally accepted -- but there's a sense in the room that a few baseline realities have established themselves. We know what certain deals at certain publishers entail; we know what building success on the Internet yields in many cases.

So I think you're going to hear a lot from cartoonists and publishers who are oriented for the next two to seven years of work in a way that the uncertainty of the marketplace and some of the vague promises out there of what could happen didn't allow before now. I think that's an exciting place to be, and I hope that great work results, perhaps something announced or even sold on the floor this weekend.

*****

So that's it. I mean, it's a comics show. Come look at the comics and hear people talk about comics. Attend an awards show. Have a cocktail. I hope to see you down there. Travel safely, and enjoy what's about to happen.

*****
*****
 
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AdHouse Books Kicks Off SPX By Announcing Noah Van Sciver Collection Youth Is Wasted For Summer 2014

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Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books kicked off that company's Small Press Expo weekend by formally announcing Youth Is Wasted, a June 2014 collection from the cartoonist Noah Van Sciver. Van Sciver, whose last major work was the 2012 Fantagraphics book The Hypo, plans to republish various short stories from his series Blammo and from various anthologies to which he submitted work.

"Noah has a rare ability," Pitzer told CR. "He makes me want to find and read his comics. So when he approached me about working on a collection, it was a no-brainer. He's a hella comic creator."

The book in question is set for 112 pages, in softcover, with a $12.95 price point. Its ISBN is available through that initial link; a PDF preview and a Diamond order number should eventually be available there as well.

With Katie Skelly's Operation Margarine due around April, that gives AdHouse two books for 2014 featuring new-to-them cartoonists.

"The stories I'm putting into this book are very meaningful to me, and Adhouse is one of the few publishers I'd trust to present them tastefully," said Van Sciver. "I can't think of one Adhouse book that sucks."

Chris Pitzer and AdHouse are showing on the SPX floor and welcome your approbation and questions. I believe Mr. Van Sciver will be at the Expo as well.
 
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Go, Look: The Unpublished X-Men

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The Hartlepool Monkey Wins French History Award

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According to this post over at the FPI blog, the comic Le Singe de L'Hartlepool has won the "Rendez-vous de l'histoire" given out by a history festival in the city of Blois. As that post points out, this puts that work in the category of those that win awards that are theme- or subject- or area-based rather than comics-oriented.

That work will be published in English by Knockabout as The Hartlepool Monkey. The creators are Wilfrid Lupano and Jérémie Moreau.
 
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Go, Look: Chuck Dillon

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Bob Layton Notes Character-Related Settlement With Marvel

Here. I have no idea what that might concern, but Layton was certainly an invested creator with the company at a time from which they draw inspiration and characters for the movies and related projects. He cites the recent win by Gary Friedrich.

This may sound weird given that most of these cases have been totally knives out all the freaking time for the last two decades, but a case like Friedrich's and what one might assume of a case like Layton's, these seem to me from what little I know about the law perfect examples of cases that are likely be settled. Broke creators are sympathetic figures, the law is uncertain enough that one judge can totally disagree with a previous decision and sound just as legitimate doing so, the creators are usually uninterested in anything other than recompense, and Marvel literally has billions of dollars.
 
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Go, Look: Zoro

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Collective Memory: Helsinki Comics Festival 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Images From An NCS Portfolio

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Collective Memory: Baltimore Comic-Con 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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Go, Look: More Edgar Rice Burroughs Fanzine Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Brian Nicholson recommends Ted Jouflas.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Tony Cliff.

* Gavin Jasper suggests that one reason DC Comics may be experiencing some blowback is that their line is editorially overseen in a way that leads to a sameness between titles, and thus fans can't settle in on a comic book with a different tone when they object to the one in front of them.

* Rob Clough on The Daniel Clowes Reader. Sean Gaffney on Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories Vol. 1. Grant Goggans on Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. Sean T. Collins on Illegal Batman. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Forever Evil #1, a bunch of the tie-in comics, and a bunch more of the tie-in comics.

* finally, a brief overview of the new age of mainstream comic book science fiction.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Drew Weing!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Kent Worcester!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Gary Kwapisz!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Matt Bors!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Chuck Forsman!

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September 12, 2013


Bundled Extra: Smoke Signal Ramp-Up In Works

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Gabe Fowler of Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn has announced the next step in an overall surge of activity from his corner of the comics world. After announcing a one-day festival with Comic Arts Brooklyn to take place in November, after what I'm told is a series of physical improvements at his store (that may be still ongoing), Fowler is now focusing on his Smoke Signal free comics publication. His released plan involves three initial steps.

* increasing circulation on the publication to 10,000 copies
* expanding distribution into the NYC subway system by recruiting volunteers to had out copies at high-traffic locations like the Union Square, Grand Central and Bedford L stops.
* hiring Chris Ware for a wraparound cover and nailing down a "stellar lineup" for that debut issue.

I think this is intriguing for several reasons. Three spring to mind initially. One is that comics can use as much energy and focused activity on the industry end as is possible -- I think the creative end in comics has far outstripped what is being done with them. Still another is that this is another person in one part of comics using the weight or relatively settled nature of their involvement in that part to explore another aspect of being involved with the medium. I think that's a general positive. Yet another interesting thing here is that I'm not sure anyone has aggressively pursued the free-publication model aggressively. It's been done a ton, but it usually settles into something you hear about and might even mail order as opposed to a publication that seeks its natural audience with some sort of vim and vigor driving it. Fowler should have a very interesting Fall 2013.

image above of the most recent issue as covered by John Broadley
 
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Congratulations To Team Billy Ireland On Completing Their Move

They look very tired. That is the nicest-looking library I'll ever be thrown out of.
 
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Go, Read: Remembering Kim Thompson

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read Robert Boyd's article; make sure to click through to the cartoons linked up in the sidebar
 
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Go, Look: Carnivale

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Nick Mullins' lengthy work is now completed, and the eight and final mini is set to debut this weekend at SPX and then be on sale again at APE; congratulations to Nick
 
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Go, Buy: Top Shelf's Massive Inventory Blow-Out Sale

Some of you may be saving up to attend and/or buy things at this weekend's SPX, or next month's NYCC, but that shouldn't stop you from taking a look at the yearly Top Shelf Inventory sale, where they deep discount a lot of their extra books. It's become a key part of their business cycle.

I don't know where you would wish to start, but the Eddie Campbell Alec book Alec: The Years Have Pants? That's a top 20 all-time bunch of work for me, and $8 for the hardcover is an amazing price.
 
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Go, Look: Giant Earth Press

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Go, Look: Kept Man

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Go, Read: Various Articles Debating/Lauding/Ripping Mainstream Comics Figure Dan DiDio Of DC Comics

Figuring out nuances of mainstream North American comic book culture isn't a great strength of mine or this site, but I did notice that there were three articles on sites I read making a "case" for the man many believe to be the primary editorial voice at DC Comics over the last half-decade or more, Dan DiDio: Bleeding Cool, The Beat, and The Outhousers. I tend to view the call for hirings/firings that you see from time to time, that led in this case to these push-back articles, as an extension of companies wanting those that consume their works to hold the belief that they have that kind of voice in what they're consuming. It's another side of kind of roping folks in -- in this case comics readers -- into a level of fandom where they become fans of the wider process as opposed to solely engaging with the material that results. That's something that's been done in comics, at least, for decades and decades now. You could probably pull one or two letters to the letters page from "Mad Bomb" era Captain America asking that Jack Kirby be removed and change some names around and have a modern web site posting about your editorial miscreant of choice. The biggest difference now seems to me the general agency conferred upon a certain kind of fan through the Internet, and the percentage of this kind of involved fan within the general readership numbers.

So while it can be entertaining to crank through articles like those linked-to in the above graph, I'm not sure they mean anything. They probably mean about as much as the shouts from the readers that this person or that person be fired in the first place. I would question the certainty of proclamations on either side of things. In this specific case, in reference to the idea that Dan DiDio needs to be thanked for saving the mainstream comics industry, because he really did you know, it seems to me one could pretty easily build a case to disconnect DiDio a bit from the idea of New 52 as a drop-dead certain industry saving success. That argument's basic construction would probably go along the lines of 1) DiDio was on board during the decline that preceded whatever sales boon followed, so at best he was correcting, not saving -- Superman tossing Lois Lane out the window in order to catch her; 2) rebooting the entire line involved significant risk but more than likely was going to have a massive, short-term benefit if you look at the history of similar publishing moves, OR it was the only move they had given how poorly things were going and thus no decision at all; 3) the credit for the surge itself has to be shared by the retailers and those at DC that have worked closely with them over the years in all the way that aren't directly related to content, and was/is a testament to the trust built up there; 4) you have to include some of the positives seen since to the trade program of all of these companies, particularly DC, rounding into shape and creating a trades-focused serial readership; 5) the managerial task in terms of the content was finding a way to makes this a long-term surge with benefits for the characters across the line, which many believe hasn't been a success. I'm sure there are a dozen ways to build a case from multiple sides here, and I'm distrustful of anyone that tries to get us to the same place in a single sentence. It's always complicated.

I don't know that I'm smart enough or informed enough -- I'm not sure that we get enough truthful information -- to figure out exactly what's going on in a broader sense so that a call for a very specific, summary reaction has power and force. Fire Dan DiDio? Praise Dan DiDio? Hell if I know. People rarely get fired or praised due to the convincing nature of the case that can be made against them on the Internet. I do think the fact that arguments can be pieced together on multiple sides indicates that thundering declarations of certainty in any one direction may be kind of silly, and that is particularly true of arguments that roughshod over gaps of information or that attempt to build simplistic cause-and-effect relationships where there are a bunch of people involved. Most of the time it's not even necessary in order to make one's point. For instance, I don't know what kind of pressures DC's comics team is under from an on-high perspective, so I can't really proclaim that any project that might result from such pressure is wholly justified or not, even were I to accept the implication that everything is justifiable given enough pressure that one might be out a high-paying job. But I do know that we ought to keep the possibility of such pressures in mind, and I think that's enough in some cases to kind of push back against certainty from a critical point of view. It may even play a role; I don't know. It's usually enough to wonder. I don't know if it's the after-effect of reading so many comics that by genre, nature and appeal favor simplistic solutions, but it seems to me problematic to reduce these complicated levers of industry to a few personalities in play, and it might be best for us to stop.
 
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Go, Look: Katie Skelly

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Go, Look: Nathan W. Pyle

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* SPX, SPX, SPX. You can read an interview with Warren Bernard here.

* here's a local news media event on the convention in Salt Lake City, which drew an astounding number of people first time out of the gate. They have ambitious plans. I can imagine a number of shows hitting pretty amazing attendance figure, and wouldn't be surprised at all if any of them pass San Diego's attendance in the next few years. That convention has been capped for a few years now, or would be drawing astounding numbers at this point. I'm not sure what it means for festival/cons coverage except that people really like conventions these days. It's something people like to do, just about as its own thing.

* Chris Butcher has penned a gigantic post on TCAF 2013 with the official TCAF 2014 dates announcement and basic framework discussed. They're adding a day of more rigorous programming in front of the show, on the Friday.

* here's a report on a Leanne Shapton and Rutu Modan event related to the Edinburgh Book Festival.

* over at The Beat, Heidi MacDonald caught that the Baltimore Comic-Con -- the 2013 iteration of which was last weekend -- will expand to three days and grow in size a bit. That makes total sense; I would have failed a quiz that asked me to state how many days the show ran currently. They had a rocky enough start -- there were some obstacles early on -- that it's good to see them experience a surge in popularity for their comics-focused show. I have to imagine that's in the top half-dozen of every show that a mainstream-comics comics professional would consider doing in a calendar year.

* finally, there's a lot to enjoy in this Alan Moore signing photo set: the people working security and Moore's suit, mostly.
 
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If I Were Near Bergen, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In Manchester, 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: Jeff Jones Draws Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* someone with access secured cartoonist Ali Ferzat's view of recent political maneuverings surrounding Syria, although the article is not available to non-subscribers.

image* Richard Bruton on Street Circus #1. Matt Seneca on Jupiter's Legacy. Nathan Wilson on Bad Break. Bob Temuka on The Love And Rockets Reader. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on a bunch of different comics. Levin Hunt on X-Factor #262. Evan Henry on The Lost Boy and Hit #1.

* James Romberger takes a look at the film Argo, including its comics-related elements.

* not comics: totally missed this Salon piece, "Captain America In A Turban." One of the comics-culture things that jumped out at me is that the fluidity of new versions of old superheroes makes explaining the possibility of this kind of thing much easier than it used to be.

* here's a look at DC's new version of the Lobo character, a character that in his 1990s biker-form was once quite the money-maker for them.

* Brian Hibbs, crime-stopper.

* the foundational comics blogger Mike Sterling provides a retailer's perspective on a number of things about that part of the comics industry, including some terse words for the big companies pumping out multiple issues of specific comic books per month. I think that's a worrisome practice, too, and it's nice to hear from a retailer that it has a negative effect over time.

* hey, new Biebercomic.

* finally, Alan Gardner notes the 45th anniversary of The Lockhorns. I was 28 years old before I noticed that they were called the Lockhorns because they locked horns.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Chip Kidd!

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September 11, 2013


Go, Look: Mooncalf

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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.

*****

JUL130970 RASL COMP HC $39.95

imageJUN131272 SOCIETY IS NIX AMERICAN COMIC STRIP 1895-1915 HC $125.00

MAY130032 BEST OF MILLIGAN & MCCARTHY HC $24.99
I had no idea this was coming, and it's something I'd consider buying even thought I bet I own all of it in an earlier format -- I may not own Sooner Or Later. A better writer about comics than I am at this point could probably pen a pretty compelling piece on what it means that a pair of creators can make comics this routinely odd and pick up just enough sales momentum that a book like this ends up being a good idea. It reminds me of the comics equivalent of the fact that we can watch upper European crime serials on movie-delivery services now.

MAY130041 BPRD 1948 TP $17.99
There is usually a Mignola-verse title or two in the serial comic book format section of this report and since there isn't I thought I'd list this book here. I think these have a greater market presence now as a series of trades than they do as a bunch of comic books, but that's more a hunch on my part.

JUL130262 ASTRO CITY #4 $3.99
JUL130319 MARS ATTACKS JUDGE DREDD #1 $3.99
MAY130569 PROPHET #39 [DIG] $3.99
JUL130549 WALKING DEAD #114 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUL130963 ADVENTURE TIME CANDY CAPERS #3 $3.99
JUL130730 LOW SOCIETY ONE SHOT $4.99
JUL130908 SPONGEBOB COMICS #24 $2.99
These are the serial comic books that I'd love to see -- I was in a comics shop yesterday and noticed that the mainstream comics companies are in the midst of their Fall crossovers. I promptly bought about $20 worth and left them in a bar three hours later. So please tell me how they turn out. I think mainstream comics are fascinating right now for their general craft quality at the upper end, but it's not work that engages me. Like I understand that smart people of my acquaintance have a long-standing relationship with Law & Order TV shows, even though I barely watch them myself. From this list, I'd look at the new Kurt Busiek and whatever the hell that Judge Dredd crossover comic is. The Prophet I've read and it's as solid a mainstream sci-fi comic as it has been for a while now; that's not everyone's cup of tea but it is something being served that no one was even offering for a long, long time. The Adventure Time and Spongebob books I peek at in comics shops to see the creators involved -- I think the Spongebob has more creators in which I'm interested than the AT, at least this time out. The Walking Dead book wraps up its current storyline, featuring "Reggie Mantle on Steroids" bad guy Negan. They're doing a special accelerated publishing schedule for the next few months. The Low Society book is comedic riffs on Cerebus I believe published and facilitated by creator Dave Sim.

FEB131027 BILL EVERETT ARCHIVES HC VOL 02 HEROIC TALES $39.99
I love the entire career of Bill Everett and own these books, although there's a lot of rough reading and terrible comics in the first two volumes. You see a lot more Bill Everetts now than you used to, these creator with mainstream tastes that have enough juice and the ability to work in personally-informed fashion that they change what that world of comics offers, so I think it's fun to pay attention to the comics he was making.

MAY130800 CYBORG 009 HC $24.95
This is a super-handsome re-telling of the Shotaro Ishinimori 1960s/1970s manga in a style more directly reminiscent of European and North American comics traditions. The material is solid in a way that it can bear re-telling: it punches a lot of satisfying genre buttons. I am a little confused about the style change, though, as it seems that in a sense the original look of this material is far more commercial right now than this book's take.

JUL131374 LITTLE FISH A MEMOIR HC $15.99
I thought this was a different book altogether so I googled and ended up here. While it's not what I thought it was, it's also a sizable work from a cartoonist with whom I'm completely unfamiliar, which is something that happens these days far more than I'd ever admit.

JUL131094 LOUIS RIEL A COMIC STRIP BIOGRAPHY TP 10TH ANN ED $21.95
This is one of the great books of the '00s, and if you don't own one I would suggest you at least try it out. D+Q has done a nice job repackaging some of their works this way, so I bet it's a quality offering.

imageJUN131205 P CRAIG RUSSELL OPERA ADAPTATIONS HC SET $59.99
Works adapted include Wagner, Leoncavallo, Strauss, Mahler and Mascagni. I think these have been fairly influential comics in some circles, and I have to admit I have no idea what component works I own here and which would be brand new to me.

MAY131246 SLAINE THE KING GN CURR PTG (MR) $24.99
MAY131247 SLAINE TIME KILLER GN CURR PTG (MR) $21.99
This is material that I have never owned in any form, but seeing two books of it out at once would be tempting. God bless your store if they carry this work; not all stores have that wide of a purchasing strategy.

MAY131139 SUMMIT OF GODS GN VOL 04 $25.00
MAY130072 BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL TP VOL 27 MIST SPIDERS WEB (MR) $19.99
JUN138073 WANDERING SON HC VOL 05 $24.99
Great week for serial manga book publishing in terms of series with a kind of broad, mainstream-books appeal. The Summit Of The Gods book is probably the surprise here; its publishing history is much more haphazard.

JUL131168 UNIVERSE OF LIBERATORE HC (MR) $19.95
I have a nostalgic connection to Liberatore, and will look at anything that comes out with his name on it. That's a cartoonist that disappeared from the general conversation about comics a few years back, and I'm not sure on where we stand about roping him back in.

JUL131186 LITTLE TOMMY LOST TP VOL 01 $15.00
One of Koyama Press' forays into color comics, from the very interesting talent Cole Closser. I'm dying to take a look at this one, and it's hard to imagine a Koyama Press effort that an alternative comics fan wouldn't at least scope out in the comics shop.

FEB131021 LOVE AND ROCKETS THE COVERS HC (RES) $35.00
I enjoyed this book enough that I wanted to review it. One way to look at what the Hernandez Brothers have accomplished is to see their comics as a synthesis of mainstream comic-book craft, underground comics contrarianism and alternative/overground literary-leaning idiosyncrasy. You can see this in their covers, with designs that stood out against the four-color backdrop against which they were racked yet also forward-looking and influential. I've looked at mine a dozen times in the past two weeks.

JUL131153 BOXERS & SAINTS BOXED SET $34.99
Gene Yang is one of the nicest cartoonists in a field dominated by nice people, and his work evokes a similar sense of personal appeal. American Born Chinese was enough of a hit that it's both understandable and laudatory that Yang would pivot in the direction of an ambitious, sprawling epic rather than giving us a straight-up sequel: it's a career moment that both Craig Thompson and Alison Bechdel have enjoyed in recent years, and is one of my favorite things to watch from the vantage point of comics culture. One of the significant books of Fall.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Ryan Sook Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: White Indian #15

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Your 2013 Comics Workbook Composition Competition Winners

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Late yesterday afternoon, the cartoonist, writer-about-comics and occasional comics educator Frank Santoro released the names of the winner in the Comics Workbook Composition Competition for the year 2013. They are:

* Hacienda, Dave Ortega: first place, $500 cash prize
* Shield, Zoe Coughlin: second place $250 gift certificate for Copacetic Comics
* Old Port, Evangelos Androutsopoulos: third place, $100 gift certificate for Copacetic Comics
* A Cramped, Well-Pressurized Place, Scott Kroll; Prof. Lewis, KL Ricks; Goldie Over There, Jeremy Sorese; Arachnodacks, Rowan Tedge: honorable mentions, $50 gift certificate to each cartoonist for Big Planet Comics
* The Perfect Human, L. Nichols: special mention, $25 gift certificate for PictureBox

Santoro lists all the participants and discusses the winners and his initial reaction to the bulk of the entries through that initial link; he plans to write about it in full at TCJ.com at some point soon. Congratulations to the winners and those that got some element of creative satisfaction entering the contest. As always, this site is super-about contests and competitions that pay cash money or a close equivalent, even a modest amount.
 
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Go, Look: Joe Ollmann's Report On The Helsinki Comics Festival

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

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

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Go, Look: A Beautiful Reed Crandall Page

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* totally missed this NYC election-related cartoon yesterday.

image* Michael Buntag on K-On! College. J. Caleb Mozzocco on DC Universe Vs. Masters Of The Universe #1. Rob Clough on Boxers/Saints. Bob Temuka on The Dan Clowes Reader. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Chad Nevett on Thanos Rising #5. Sean Gaffney on Midnight Secretary Vol. 1. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Avengers: Endless Wartime. Richard Bruton on Briony Hatch and Savant #1.

* not comics: the very good writer-about-comics David Brothers, now at Image Comics, is running a 5K for charity. You might consider a pledge.

* and now a few words on Leo Dorfman.

* RM Rhodes penned an interesting article here about how folks should channel their dissatisfaction with the actions of mainstream comics companies. The two best broad points -- and I think they could be argued specific example to specific example as much as I appreciate the general take -- are that sometimes these companies have different motivations than whatever value that fans wish for them, and that these companies react poorly to certain attempts at outside-in change just on a structural basis. I think these are good points, as well as the notion that sometimes we're working with incomplete information that might change the way we look at a specific incident -- or at least provide a different context for how it happened other than someone actively acting in that direction.

* finally, the sad thing is I would kill for my comics collection to look even this together.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Ben Towle!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Adam Grano!

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Happy 36th Birthday, David King!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Rod Whigham!

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September 10, 2013


Go, Look: Peter Bergting's Domovoi Gallery

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Go, Read: The Murder Of Jeffrey Babbitt

The New York Times has a short, insightful and respectful write-up here about the death of a 62-year-old retired man named Jeffrey Babbitt, who was struck in New York City in a crime that may have bizarre and fairly arbitrarily applied racial motivations. The general sense of media reports I've seen have the suspect Lashawn Marten declaring a desire to assault the next white man he saw and then doing so, in the middle of the afternoon near a crowded park. That person apparently also attacked the people that came to help Babbitt and was arrested and has been charged. Babbitt hit his head on the sidewalk, went into a coma, and never recovered.

Babbitt was a comics and fantasy fan well-known to the NYC retailer Forbidden Planet near where the incident took place -- new comics Wednesday -- as well as to to pros that met him either on tour through Forbidden Planet or who signed at shows that Babbitt attended. The deceased took care of his aged mother, and there may be an effort on the part of the store and the community of people that visit that store and that might have known Babbitt to raise some money for his mother.
 
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Go, Look: Journey Into Unknown Worlds #35

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Stand Up And Notice Hire As comiXology Announces Former HBO Executive Joins As CTO

Calvin Reid has an excellent, wholly professional write-up at PW on the digital comics service comiXology hiring Jeff DiBartolomeo, a former senior VP at HBO and one of the co-founders of the HBO Go view app. The executive cited the comics company's massive grow in its six-year span of existence as "energizing."

As I understand what he told PW, he's basically there to make sure the technology keeps pace with the site's massive growth, consumer surge and market reach. This will include the comiXology Submit program, their self-publishing, shared-revenue outreach to small press creators. He will also make sure there are no hiccups on the company's end with changes in operating systems and the like from the computer and device world.

It's become increasingly clear that comiXology is really the giant in comics' midst now, and hires like these only underline what the new few years could look like in terms of its growth and the implication for a rapidly developing comics market.
 
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Go, Look: Tim Ogline

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Buddy, Judy Saunders Sell Iconic Lone Star Comics Stores

I had no word of this at all, so I'm glad that the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com picked up on Buddy and Judy Saunders selling their five brick-and-mortar Lone Star Comics stores. Two of the iconic retailer's Dallas-region locations will be renamed by the long-time employee and her family that made that purchase. The Saunders will continue to operate their MyComicShop.com site, which they call a still-growing business that will allow them to spend more time with family.

Lone Star opened its first store in 1977 -- not one of the absolute earliest comics shops, but close enough for its longevity and continuity to be a major deal. Texas was a massive home for comics reading and active fandom in those days in a way that I'm going to suggest hoping no one will take a swing at me that it isn't now; Lone Star has certainly served one of the great regional comics markets, right up there with Chicago and New York, the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Saunders' reputation for a time in comics was one of a conservative-leaning taste-maker, with potential influence on the comics market derived from the size of his retail chain. His open letter about the morality of events depicted in mainstream comics in the 1980s was part of the heady stew of debates, strident declarations and the staking out of positions that created the modern comics culture's attention to censorship issues.

MyComicShop.com was an early entry and remains a potent force in the mail-order purchase of older comics and comics-related items.
 
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Go, Look: Beware #7

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Missed It: Gary Friedrich's Lawyer Informs Court That His Client Has Settled On Ghost Rider Matter

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I thought the Hollywood Reporter write-up on news that Gary Friedrich and Marvel have apparently settled remaining disputes over ownership of the Ghost Rider character was a pretty decent one; haven't read too many others, yet, though. In June a judge vacated a previous decision against Friedrich, citing the ambiguity and relative casual nature of the contracts that were provided in the face of the value the law places on the rights that Marvel argued Friedrich gave up by signing them, re-opening the media company to a renewed press for ownership by the writer. As I recall, Marvel and the Friedrich reps were in that stage where each a different way for that trial to be heard. This heads that off. I would imagine it also heads off potential useful legal attention to the practice of 1960s and 1970s work for hire practices, including blanket claims to material as well as the relationship between concepts pre-owned or conceived and how they take final form at a company like Marvel. So that's still out there to be engaged.

I don't necessarily look to the legal system for moral outcomes. I don't claim a moral outcome for wins I like, nor do I buy into a reversal on those claims when they are decisions I don't like. I think the law allows at times legal redress for unfortunate and even unfair situations according to what the law says and how the courts interpret that law -- the rat-a-tat range of recent outcomes just in this one case kind of underline that, as various interpretations or potential interpretations have settled in. With a settlement, there's a Schrodinger's Cat element to whether or not a decision could have gone one way or the other, with a likely motive that each side can see the other possibility. My sense of the room is that this was never a popular case with comics professionals because of the rolling nature of that feature's creations, which involved multiple hands. Still, I hope Friedrich is pleased with the outcome, as I think there was more than enough revenue there that he could stand to be rewarded for his contributions. Would that we lived in a world where such cases seemed aberrant because the majority of deals were weighted so heavily in the creators direction that a push like this seemed an extravagance.

The hobby business news site ICv2.com notes that the agreement has yet to be executed.
 
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Go, Look: A Chris Bachalo Mini-Gallery

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OTBP: Operation Margarine #3

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* not sure there's a comic I'm looking forward to seeing this Fall more than Todd Bak's Island Of Memory from Floating World, now in the pass-around pre-release publicity stage. There are plans for advance copies at SPX this weekend. That would be nice. I totally missed that books like this would be done through Floating World on that project, so forgive me catching up now.

image* Dash Shaw has a new comic finished, although the details don't seem to be settled yet.

* looks like JM DeMatteis and Mike Ploog will be working on another project together.

* the new Josh Cotter will be over 1000 pages long and is to be called Nod Away. He may publish in component parts.

* I like the Inhumans characters, and I'm glad Marvel will try to do something with them. I think Marvel has done a fine job of resuscitating the perceived top-of-the-line characters, and it's interesting to watch their giving the X-Men books a boost now, but also random, assorted properties here and there. I think those characters and their basic set-up is pretty cool, which isn't a surprise for a group of characters with the Jack Kirby imprimatur, but it also remains largely undeveloped over the history of the line, which is something of a shock given how central Kirby's conceptual work has been to those movies' success.

* Marc Andreyko was announced as the new writer on Batwoman during last weekend's convention in Baltimore.

* Dynamite is doing a Frank Thorne book in an oversized format and will apparently price it aggressively in a way they think hasn't been explored yet for similar works. Thorne's a good choice for a book like that, as his work is really gorgeous -- particularly when just viewed as art, out of the context of the story involved. It's all in the execution with those kinds of volumes, though.

* submissions are open for the next issue of Smut Peddler. That means, one assumes, a new issue of Smut Peddler.

* Chris Roberson writing a Doc Savage comic book for Dynamite sounds like a fine pairing of super-enthusiastic, skilled writer and subject matter. I have no idea why there's never been a Doc Savage character really work on the comics page -- I guess maybe one or two of the pastiches have done okay -- and you'd think that there'd be so many of them we'd be able to compare Monk Mayfairs.

* finally, there is no better news than Richard Sala working on a top-secret project.

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

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

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OTBP: Soppy

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Matt Singer makes an interesting point about the strategy of making more than 12 issues of a comic a year, a point that could be extended to cover comics more generally. That's going to be perceived as a lot of money compared to other forms of entertainment. For those that really value that form of entertainment, that's not going to be a lot of money, but not everyone falls into that fervent camp and there's a very delicate back and forth between those who are willing to pay top dollar and those that shift to another strategy -- even to cheaper comics options, of which there are many. I like to read and own some mainstream comic books, but I shifted some years ago from a point-of-release buyer to a delayed, $1-or-less buyer.

image* Richard Bruton on A Handful Of Groats. John Ernenputsch on The Star Wars #1.

* I don't know how the heck I ended up here, but I hope it never happens again. The idea of scanning multiple decades of comics history as if there's enough internal consistency to make firm storyline judgments seems like the craziest thing in the world to me.

* not comics: the veteran writer-about-comics Chris Mautner picks five second- and lower-than-that tier Alfred Hitchcock movies for your viewing pleasure. I always enjoy watching Foreign Correspondent.

* Abhay Khosla responds to the recent barrage of Internet-related feuds and gossipy stories.

* the thread of responses underneath this Jack Kirby birthday article has morphed from an interesting and mostly cordial plunge into the various arguments regarding original Marvel authorship to a sort of State Of The Last Five Years Of Arguing Lee Vs. Kirby. There's a lot of stuff in there with which I'm not conversationally familiar, including, for instance, a whole line of argumentation about whether or not Jack Kirby may have done presentation material for the early Marvel characters, work that may have been re-purposed into some of the character spotlight material those titles published. For a long time I've mostly fallen into the "great contributions but not what we tend to think of as authorship" school of things when it comes to Stan Lee, but there are worlds within worlds. This is also one of the first times I got a real sense of this being an arcane argument far from the mainstream of what the main thrust of comics is concerned with right now. People always flip out when that idea is introduced, the notion that people invested in other forms of comics-making don't naturally share the same set of concerns in which others are invested: you get people that are disgusted by this, and people that are really into that fact, super-happy about it. I just think it's natural, and I think it's something that's constantly negotiated.

* I would imagine this site is worth your attention for the next several days. That Brooklyn festival seems pretty heavily invested in its comics-related elements as its own thing and as a vital cog in publishing right now. A lot of festivals are like that, and I think it will be good if that continues.

* Matthew Santori-Griffith talks to Ethan Van Sciver. Andrew Tsurumi talks to Jon Lewis.

* finally, David Robertson on where to shelve comics in public libraries.
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, Jackie Estrada!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Gerry Conway!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Alison Bechdel!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Steven Gilbert!

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September 9, 2013


Go, Look: A Pair Of Druillet Galleries

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Missed It: Garry Trudeau Keeps Doonesbury In Partial Hiatus

I completely missed this story from late last week about Garry Trudeau's decision to keep the legendary newspaper strip Doonesbury in partial hiatus (meaning no dailies) while he continues to work on his Amazon Prime series Alpha House. The strip was on full hiatus this summer, a time during which it would have been lovely to hear what Trudeau had to say about one or two of the season's pressing issues. Trudeau's at an age where just about decision to do something else -- even for a little while -- seems totally reasonable but also makes you wonder after the longer-term future of the strip.

Sunday will have started yesterday, and dailies are schedule to resume in November.
 
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Go, Look: The Art Of Jarreau Wimberly

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Go, Look: Marshall Rogers Batman Portfolio

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Go, Read: Timeline Of Recent DC Editorial/Creator Relationships

The one document I had e-mailed in my direction more than any other this weekend was this John Gholson piece on people leaving DC Comics -- and other important dates, particularly in terms of context -- from the New 52 era, now two full years old. This is the kind of thing that reads as both less alarming than you'd think in terms of the overall volume of instances (well, it reads that way to me) and a little bit more of a shocker in terms of the perceived, arbitrary nature of how some of those relationships have played themselves out. This is something about which people in comics gossip incessantly, so it's nice to see a post that tries to establish a sort of basic structure to the conversation. There are two or three instances in there of which I was either completely unaware or had forgotten.
 
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Go, Look: Battle #55

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Yeti Press has launched a subscription-style Kickstarter here. Lots of the art involved posted.

* this isn't tied into any specific need or campaign, but it's always fun to look at Bryan Hitch original art.

* the Nix Comics folks are running a subscription drive from their own web site.

* both Alec Longstreth and Brian John Mitchell met their initial goals, but you can still get involved.

* finally, a bunch of recognizable names with crowd-funders going: Don McGregor and Trevor Von Eeden; Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, P. Craig Russell. They could all use some attention.
 
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Go, Look: Mystic #60

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Go, Look: Edgar Rice Burroughs Fanzine Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Knuckleheads. Jason Wilkins on Monstrosity Vol. 1. Jonah Lang on The Star Wars #1. Ricky Miller on Thor: God Of Thunder #12. Don MacPherson on Batman #23.1 and Molly Danger Vol. 1.

* not comics: an exciting list of mostly young journalists.

* Matt Bors scoring that gig at Medium.com reminded me of this August article about above-the-url level journalists.

* that Batman comic by Josh Simmons is a fun source of stand-alone imagery.

* I have no idea how I ended up back here on Faith Erin Hicks' TCAF comic from... 2012? No matter the reason, it's an adorable comic and I was happy to encounter it again. There's so much comics-related stuff on the Internet now, and the posting of new material is split into a hundred different sites and processes now that I seem to have a lot more old stuff come across my virtual desk now.

* this portrait of the Columbia Records 1978 recording stars, by Tom Palmer, is lovely and hilarious.

* you can download songs to go along with Iron Bound here.

* finally, one reason I was never a good mainstream comics fan (of a certain kind) is that I'd look at a picture like this really cool-looking one and feel bad that we somehow caught Wonder Woman when she wasn't turned around to look at us more properly.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Kevin Maguire!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Paul Grist!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Dan Vado!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Ted Adams!

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September 8, 2013


Your 2013 Harvey Awards Winners

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The winners of the 2013 Harvey Awards were announced last night at an awards ceremony held in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con. Saga won a ton of awards, including both best new series and best series. Recent-year awards favorites Blacksad and the Parker IDW series both won an award. The Adventure Time effort at KaBOOM! was recognized with more than one, and Jaime Hernandez won best cartoonist.

Two comic book industry veterans won the affiliated Hero Initiative awards: Paul Levitz the Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award, Sal Buscema the Lifetime Achievement. Buscema resides in that general area of the country, and I don't know that he's done a whole lot of shows recently so several people in attendance at the convention were excited to meet him.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners, including my pals and peers in the Journalism/history/biography category, won by Robot 6. The Harveys are distinguished by a double general votership process whereby everyone eligible nominates and then everyone eligible votes on the nominees. They are named after the Rushmore-level 20th Century cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman.

Winners in bold.

*****

BEST LETTERER

* Joe Caramagna, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Chris Eliopoulos, Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse, Archaia
* Todd Klein, Fables, DC Comics
* Jack Morelli, Archie, Archie Comics
* Chris Ware, Building Stories, Pantheon

*****

BEST COLORIST

* Laura Allred, FF, Marvel Comics
* Matt Hollingsworth, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Tito Pena, Archie, Archie Comics
* Ed Ryzowski, Gutters, the-gutters.com
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics

*****

BEST SYNDICATED STRIP OR PANEL

* Cul De Sac, Richard Thompson, Universal Press Syndicate
* Dick Tracy, Joe Staton and Mike Curtis, Tribune Media Services
* Get Fuzzy, Darby Conley, United Feature Syndicate
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features
* Pearls Before Swine, Stephen Pastis, United Feature Syndicate

*****

imageBEST ON-LINE COMICS WORK

* Bandette, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
* Battlepug, Mike Norton
* The Dreamer, Lora Innes
* Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
* Sheldon, Dave Kellett

*****

BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL

* Abelard, NBM
* Blacksad: A Silent Hell, Dark Horse
* New York Mon Amour, Fantagraphics Books
* Sharaz-De: Tales From The Arabian Nights, Archaia
* Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vol. 22, VIZ Media

*****

BEST INKER

* Steve Ellis, Only Living Boy, Bottled Lightning
* Jonathan Glapion, Batman, DC Comics
* Klaus Janson, Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Mark Morales, Avengers Vs. X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Bob Smith, Life With Archie, Archie Comics

*****

BEST NEW SERIES

* Adventure Time, KaBOOM! Studios
* Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* New Crusaders: Rise Of The Heroes, Red Circle Comics
* Revival, Image Comics
* Saga, Image Comics

*****

MOST PROMISING NEW TALENT

* Jerry Gaylord, Fanboys Vs. Zombies, BOOM! Studios
* Dennis Hopeless, Avengers Arena, Marvel Comics
* Ryan Jampole, Mega Man, Archie Comics
* Mark Mariano, Happyloo, MyPalMark.com
* David Nytra, The Secret Of The Stone Frog, Toon Books

*****

SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS

* Chad Lambert, The Possum At Large 10th Anniversary Craptacular, Old School Comics
* Ryan North, Adventure Time, KaBOOM! Studios
* Dan Parent, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics
* Chris Sparks, Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Andrews McMeel
* Jim Zub, Skullkickers, Image Comics

*****

imageBEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC PUBLICATION FOR YOUNGER READERS

* Adventure Time, KaBOOM! Studios
* Amelia Rules: Her Permanent Record, Simon and Schuster
* Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse, Archaia
* Drama, Scholastic
* Superman Family Adventures, DC Comics
* The Shark King, Toon Books

*****

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED

* Alien: The Illustrated Story, Titan Books
* Archie: The Married Life Vol. 2, Archie Comics
* Cursed Pirate Girl Collected Edition: Volume One, Archaia
* Heads Or Tails, Fantagraphics
* King City, Image

*****

BEST ANTHOLOGY

* Dark Horse Presents, various, Dark Horse
* District Comics, Matt Dembicki, Fulcrum Publishing
* Once Upon A Time Machine, Andrew Carl, Dark Horse
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Chris Sparks, Andrews McMeel
* Womanthology: Space, Mariah Huehner, IDW

*****

BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT

* Best Of Archie Comics Vol. 2, Archie Comics
* Came The Dawn And Other Stories: The EC Comics Library, Fantagraphics
* Crimes Does Not Pay Archives, Dark Horse Comics
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born Again: Artist's Edition, IDW
* Pogo: Bona Fide Balderdash Volume Two: Walt Kelly's Pogo, Fantagraphics

*****

BEST COVER ARTIST

* David Aja, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Steve Ellis, Only Living Boy, Bottled Lightning
* Jenny Frison, Revival, Image Comics
* Adam Hughes, Fairest, Vertigo Comics
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics

*****

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION

* Alter Ego Magazine, TwoMorrows Publishing
* Jack Kirby Collector, TwoMorrows Publishing
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Andrews McMeel
* Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, HarperCollins
* Robot 6, Comic Book Resources

*****

imageSPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION

* Building Stories, Chris Ware, Pantheon Books
* Cursed Pirate Girl Collected Edition Vol. 1, Jeremy Bastian, Archaia
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born AGain: Artist's Edition, Scott Dunbier, IDW
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Chris Sparks, Andrews McMeel
* The Art Of Betty And Veronica, Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe, Archie Comics

*****

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM ORIGINAL

* Building Stories, Pantheon
* The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song, Abrams ComicArts
* My Friend Dahmer, Abrams ComicArts
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Score, IDW
* The Underwater Welder, Top Shelf

*****

BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES

* Batman, DC Comics
* Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Locke and Key, IDW
* Rachel Rising, Abstract Studios
* Saga, Image Comics

*****

BEST WRITER

* Matt Fraction, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Joe Hill, Locke And Key, IDW
* Tim Seeley, Revival, Image Comics
* Scott Snyder, Batman, DC Comics
* Brian K. Vaughan, Saga, Image Comics
* Mark Waid, Daredevil, Marvel Comics

*****

BEST ARTIST

* David Aja, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Greg Capullo, Batman, DC Comics
* Mike Norton, Revival, Image Comics
* Chris Samnee, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics

*****

BEST CARTOONIST

* Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets: New Stories, Fantagraphics
* Jeff Lemire, The Underwater Welder, Top Shelf
* Terry Moore, Rachel Rising, Abstract Studios
* Chris Ware, Building Stories, Pantheon
* Adam Withers and Comfort Love, Rainbow In The Dark, uniquescomic.com

*****

BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY

* Batman #12, DC Comics
* Building Stories, Pantheon
* Hawkeye #1, Marvel Comics
* Locke And Key: Grindhouse, IDW
* The Mire, BeckyCloonan.net
* Saga #1, Image Comics
* Tales Designed To Thrizzle #8, Fantagraphics

*****

AFFILIATED AWARDS
Dick Giordano Hero Initiative Humanitarian of the Year Award: Paul Levitz
Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award: Sal Buscema

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look; Please Help: CR's Crystal Ball Re-Launched

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I've recently re-launched this site's frequently pitiful forthcoming-comics feature "Crystal Ball," which in the past has been less of a magical item forecasting future events than a Magic 8-Ball interpreted by surly drunks. I hope you'll take a look at what I'm building over there. I've cheated/done what's necessary in terms of giving it a chance by fast-forwarding out of 2013 entirely and into 2014. There's a lot there that's imperfect, and I expect some titles to drop off entirely as official announcements are made, but I think it's a fair start. I'd love to hear from you if you're in the "this month, this format, for sure" stage of getting something ready.
 
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Go, Look: Michael Vassallo Article With Metric Ton Of Noel Sickles Drawings That Are Super-Fun

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Go, Look: Pat Dorian

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Go, Look: Jeremy Baum

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Go, Look: Rhubarb Pie Press

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Go, Look: Brooklahoma

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

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

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If I Were In Helsinki, 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 Near Bedford, I'd Go To This

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Happy 40th Birthday, Jordan Crane!

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FFF Results Post #350 -- Four Different Faces

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Four Different Comics Versions You Like Of The Same Character And In #5 Name The Character." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Original Siegel/Shuster
2. The Mindy Newell/Gray Morrow Mini-Series
3. Darwyn Cooke's In New Frontier
4. Any Time She's Drawn By Kurt Schaffenberger
5. Lois Lane

*****

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Mike Buntag

1. Otto Binder/Marc Swayze's original series
2. Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire's Formerly Known As The Justice League
3. Dylan Horrocks/Jessica Abel's story in Bizarro Comics
4. Jeff Smith's Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil
5. Mary Batson/Mary Marvel

*****

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Tim O'Neil

1. Lee & Kirby's cosmic naif
2. Lee & Buscema's noble depressive
3. Englehart & Rogers' mature idealist
4. Starlin & Lim's remorseful warrior
5. The SIlver Surfer!

*****

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Steve Replogle

1. Jerry Siegel's King of Crooks
2. Paul Grist's A. Chinard, always fooling Jack Staff
3. Stealing Mytek the MIghty, in Alan Moore's Albion
4. Jacques Tardi's ghostly cameo, from West Coast Blues
5. The Spider

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Jerry Scott
2. Ernie Bushmiller, of course
3. John Stanley
4. Ivan Brunetti (almost?)
5. Nancy

*****

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Jeffrey O. Gustafson

1. Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott's
2. Mike Wieringo's
3. Stuart Immonen's
4. Mike McKone's
5. Ben Grimm

*****

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Don MacPherson

1. The Golden Age version, tinged with bondage elements
2. George Perez's 1980s revamp
3. Azzarello/Chiang's New 52 redo
4. Greg Rucka's fierce, practical warrior woman
5. Wonder Woman

*****

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Jonathan Baylis

* The original Jack Kirby
* John Byrne's later on.
* John Romita/Joe Sinnott's on the cover of Marvel Age
* Dean Haspiel's Night Falls on Yancy Street
* The Thing

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Bernard Baily's original
2. Neal Adams' 60's version
3. Jerry Grandenetti's continuation of same
4. Jim Aparo's crazy-ass 70's version
5. The Spectre!

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Sy Barry dailies reprinted in Australian Frew comics
2. Jim Aparo working for Charlton Comics
3. Alex Saviuk on Defenders of the Earth for Marvel
4. Steve Ditko on 2040 version for Marvel
5. The Phantom

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Sly & sexy Bob Montana version
2. Cute & playful Dan DeCarlo version
3. Gender-bender version by Tania del Rio & Gisele Lagace
4. Bat-shit crazy version in scripts written by Frank Doyle (http://eepomigosh.blogspot.com/2009/09/archie-143-strike-up-band-kisser.html#kisserstrikes )
5. Betty Cooper

*****

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Kiel Phegley

1. Jack Kirby's original
2. Walt Simonson's Orion redesign
3. Morrison/Porter/Dell's future version from JLA
4. Those largely uncredited Super Powers mini comics
5. Darkseid

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. By Lee/Kirby/Sinnott
2. By John Byrne
3. By Slott/DiVito
4. By Walt Simonson
5. The Thing

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Jess's Tricky Cad
3. Feldstein and Elder's Tick Dracy
2. Gilbert Shelton's Tricky Prickears
4. Al Capp's Fearless Fosdick ads for Wildroot
5. Dick Tracy

*****

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Sean T. Collins

* Frank Miller
* Grant Morrison/Tony Daniel
* Ed Pinsent
* Josh Simmons
* Batman

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Post-Silver Age version, as written by Cary Bates and drawn by Irv Novick et al.
2. In flashback stories written by Mark Waid and drawn by Barry Kitson in JLA: Year One and Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold
3. Funky-timeline version, as written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Perez in JLA/Avengers
4. New-52 version, written and drawn by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
5. Barry Allen/The Flash

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Original Jack Kirby
2. Walter Simonson run
3. John Buscema/Tom Palmer in Avengers, particularly the cover of issue #276
4. John Romita, Jr./Klaus Janson that kicked off Volume 2 of his series.
5. Thor

*****

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Joshua Leto

1. Steve Ditko
2. John Romita
3. Gil Kane
4. Mike Zeck
5. Kraven the Hunter

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. The Original John Romita chimple and dimples; gogo dancer extraordinaire.
2. Roger Stern/Tom DeFalco/Ron Frenz's vulnerable but self-reliant best friend.
3. Sal Buscema's big-haired, big-hearted newlywed, who took a baseball bat to the Chameleon without so much as a broken nail.
4. Brian Michael Bendis/Sara Pichelli's painfully hip adorkagoth.
5. Mary Jane Watson/Watson-Parker

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Carl Barks
2. Walt Kelly
3. Don Rosa
4. Daan Jippes
5. Donald Duck

*****

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Steve Murphy

1. The Herb Trimpe (pencils)/John Severin (inks) iteration in Incredible Hulk #109 (1968)
2. Barry Smith (pencils)/Bill Everett (inks) from Astonishing Tales #6 (1971)
3. Anything from Savage Tales magazine (c. mid-1970s)
4. The Bruce Jones (writer)/Brent Anderson (penciler) run (early 1980s)
5. Ka-Zar and Zabu

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1) Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo's gruesome run in Adventure Comics
2) John Ostrander/Tom Mandrake's examination of the problems of morals and ethics
3) Doug Moench/Chris Wozniak smart private eye version
4) John Marc DeMatteis/Ryan Sook's version without Jim Corrigan
5) The Spectre

*****

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John Vest

1. Steve Ditko's original stories
2. Gene Colan's late sixties version of the character in his own title
3. Tom Sutton's mid-seventies run
4. P Craig Russell's one-shot in the nineties
5. Doctor Strange

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* The First Appearance -- Simon & Kirby
* The Reappearance -- Kirby
* The Death of -- Steranko
* Back to Basics -- Byrne
* Captain America

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. My Greatest Adventure era by Bruno Premiani
2. Joe Staton's from Showcase
3. Richard Case
4. John Byrne's
5. Doom Patrol

*****

Please note: I do these results post the first chance I get after Friday. That means if you send your work in later than Friday 11:59 PM, there's a chance I won't be at the computer from the time I advance post the results Saturday AM until Monday AM. I'm not angry at you: I simply haven't seen your response because I'm out doing something else. Sorry about that, but, you know, weekend.

*****

This feature will return in two weeks -- I'm taking SPX weekend off. Probably.

*****
*****
 
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September 7, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Sarah McIntyre Interviewed


Dash Shaw Lecture
via Mike Lynch


Denise Mina Interviewed


Posy Simmonds Interviewed


Tom Gauld, Stephen Collins Interviewed


A Bill Mauldin Interview
via Mike Lynch


 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 31 to September 6, 2013:

1. Stan Lee Media case against Disney dismissed by a judge who takes the time to make a strong point that the pursuit of this specific complaint simply isn't going to be fruitful for that company.

2. Mark Waid announces a retail partnership that includes his partner the academic Christy Blanch, Alter Ego Comics in Muncie, Aw Yeah! Comics in Skokie, and both stores' owner-operators.

3. Creators JH Williams III and WH Blackman announce they're leaving Batwoman due to incidents related to editorial.

Winner Of The Week
Matt Bors

Losers Of The Week
Stan Lee Media

Quote Of The Week
"I found that I couldn’t allow myself to indulge the urge to 'not work tonight.' Any deviation in my daily routine meant a lot of harder work trying to regain lost ground. It just wasn't worth it. For four years, my only nights off were Fridays, and police records will show I packed a lot of living into those four or five hours." -- Jeff Parker

*****

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

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

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If I Were In Salt Lake City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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If I Were In Harwood Heights, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 79th Birthday, Warren Sattler!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Richard Barker!

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September 6, 2013


Festivals Extra: APE Releases Colleen Coover-Drawn Poster

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Click through the image for details. I don't do a whole lot of poster-drop notes, but I've had this weird hole in my brain where APE is concerned in that I never seem to ever post anything about APE. What did APE ever do to me? Nothing. It's been perfectly charming.
 
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Go, Look: Jon Allen

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Stan Lee Media Case Against Disney Dismissed By Judge

All of the Hollywood-related sites surely have something up by now on the case by Stan Lee Media against Disney being dismissed yesterday. US District Judge William J. Martinez sent out an 11-page order yesterday that not only included a clear win for Disney in terms of Marvel characters created by Stan Lee, but had language that sought to dissuade the former Internet media company hopeful from using the courts to file another case in this manner.

imageMy understanding of the basic mechanism behind the SLM claim as repeated in various courtrooms over the years is as follows. 1) Stan Lee becomes partnered up with Stan Lee Media in 1998 to work on digital content and the like. 2) As part of his initial agreement with the company, he assigns rights to all of his creations to the company in exchange for company stock. 3) Stan Lee eventually settles with Marvel in a dispute over his claim to certain character rights and related issues. 4) That settlement includes language that SLM says acknowledges Stan Lee's interest in certain Marvel characters in order that Marvel can settle with him on matters related to those characters. 5) But Stan Lee blanket-assigned rights to SLM! 6) SLM now owns a piece of Pepper Potts.

I think that's basically it, minus snarky language. At least that's how it was explained to me on the phone a couple of times by pro-SLM people. It always sounded to me something that would make a lot of sense sitting in a college dorm hallway at 2 AM, but maybe not so much in the courts. And It hasn't done well in the courts. As long as there's money to hire lawyers I suspect this won't be the end of it, as I'm not sure SLM has another hand to play here.
 
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Go, Look: Sue Jean Ko

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Go, Read: Rachel Edidin On Why She Won't Be Attending PAX

There's a forceful, well-articulated essay here from Rachel Edidin on series of events beginning with a 2010 installment of the comic strip Penny Arcade that eventually led to a recent, very odd sort of public stand at the major gaming convention that has spun out of that comic strip. As I understand it, the creators of Penny Arcade ran a strip with a joke about gaming culture -- that is their primary area of concern -- that used a rape victim to get to the point about the distorted values of goal-oriented, in-game storylines. Some folks found this joke upsetting, including victims of rape, and communicated that to the creators. There was pushback, both from elements of the wider community surrounding the strip and from the creators. Some of that reaction seemed contemptuous of the subject -- that's my reading of the 2010 apology cartoon Edidin has reprinted, for instance -- and apparently some of it was direct, hostile and alarming. Then it got weirder: there was merchandise created that referenced the original strip, an in-joke aimed at those that protested the joke. This merchandise was pulled after complaints and then, more recently, put out again. The decision to do so was framed as a fight for free speech.

Edidin constructs her own take on it, which you should read. The key to me seems to be the withering contempt that emanates from the strip and some of its defenders for those that complained. I'm sure there's some of that same incredulity and dismay and fury headed towards the strip, and might have been at an earlier stage, but the reaction that feels most alarming to me is the one headed from the creators -- festering around and in many cases it seems driven by PA co-founder Mike Krahulik -- towards the critics of that specific strip and that side of the issue more generally. There's a difference in degree and tone and the power stratification that makes the flow in that direction seem very different: there's a bullying aspect to it that holds weight and power. I get free speech, and while there would have been people dissatisfied with the strip no matter what -- as is their right -- I think most people, myself included, would have understood a baseline-sympathetic acknowledgement of the criticism. With newspaper strips, it's the kind of thing an artist might opt out of including in the reprint book and have no regrets in doing so. Making merchandise out of the thing seems like a whole different beast, and subsequently making an issue of doing so only increases the heat and discomfort experienced by those that felt threatened by the original joke. That crosses a line making art, even problematic art, doesn't come near. Not taking part in the show seems like a logical decision to me, and I like how Edidin's essay moves from her perception of those events and the decision she's made because of them, as well as her acknowledgment that she's privileged in some ways to have that response available to her.

The interesting side-issue for me here, and maybe one that hits on a lot of these similar issues lately, is that the Penny Arcade strip and its convention outgrowth are very much connected to a community of like-minded people who on some level perhaps enjoy the strip, share common cause with the creators and the business enterprise they've put together, and/or have an interest in the gaming industry show and its specific reflection on/engine of that culture. It seems like a new element to a lot of these discussions is that status in community plays a role; it is not 100 percent how you interact with a work of art. This also allows for more options in terms of one's reaction. It should be fascinating to see how things progress. Hopefully this will include a modification of the outcome that led Edidin to make her decision.
 
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Go, Look: A Cloak And Dagger Gallery

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Mark Waid Announces Expanded Retail Partnership

In another lengthy blog post, the writer Mark Waid announced the promised second half of the news he promised while dropping word that he had invested in the Muncie, Indiana comics-shop Alter Ego. After an offer of investment from the majority of the team behind the Skokie, Illinois store Aw Yeah! Comics -- which includes creators Franco Aureliani and Art Baltazar -- the crew on hand decided to partner up and invest in one another, making for a combination retail/digital comics publishing enterprise whose shape one imagines will be defined in the weeks and months ahead.

I don't have a similar relationship to Skokie that I have to my hometown, so this is a shorter article, but it shares with the first piece my approval of comics creators getting involved with other facets of the business beyond creating the material that flows through these establishments. I think that's healthy, and wish the new ownership team luck.
 
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Go, Look: The Phantom #18

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: Digital News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* so apparently Derf Backderf is working on a webcomic to be called The Baron Of Prospect Ave. Sounds good to me.

* super happy to see Matt Bors receive a full-time gig at Medium.com. Matt Bors is a highly-skilled, funny, digitally-savvy editorial cartoonist, and his inability to score a full-time gig at a forward-thinking newspaper had me as distressed as any other factor about that industry's future in terms of cartooning. That sounds over-dramatic, but I'm not kidding. Bunch of stuff I like about this. First, I think Bors being paid for his work is a good thing all on its own. Second, it's a site paying a content creator. That sounds silly, and I know some people think this is some sort of aberration that anyone is able to pay anyone, but I see a lot of successful sites choosing not to pay people at all and this makes me think that a decision not to pay for content is as much a factor as any other contributing cause. Third, I like that Medium.com is basically paying not just for Matt but for the audience he's built on his site. The thing about the "exposure" model that rarely gets talked about isn't so much the concept of doing work for free or at a reduced rate to have your work be seen and appreciated, but the way that seeking that exposure through somebody else means you share in the perception that is supposedly your reward. You work for some other site for free, you have to share the perceived success with that site, and perhaps its driving personality. Matt Bors made an Internet vehicle for Matt Bors, and this new gig reflects an interest in Matt Bors that doesn't have to be shared with anyone.

* Mario Covone wrote in to introduce himself and asked for feedback regarding his webcomics work. I haven't been able to make the time yet, but I hope that maybe some of you could.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell's blog focusing on webcomics is the best, and I've lately come to appreciate all on its own the work he does figuring out the webcomics presence at specific cons and festivals.
 
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If I Were In Cincinnati, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In Salt Lake City, 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 Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: 1978 DC Comics Covers Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I was not aware of the Young Cartoonists Of The Year Competition being held over the pond, but apparently now they're accepting digital work -- well, physical copies of work done digitally. It's a start.

image* Richard Bruton on Left. Toim Bondurant on Forever Evil #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comics. Andy Oliver on Tales From Scene City #3.

* I'm always happy for a cartoonist that receives a big book before it's officially release like Ed Piskor here... that has to be pretty satisfying.

* Alan Gardner talks to Jeff Parker -- the editorial cartoonist and strip cartoonist turned non-staffed editorial cartoonist and pretty much full-time strip cartoonist, not that other guy. TJ Dietsch talks to Matt Fraction. Jonah Weiland talks to Dave McKean.

* it's no surprise that I have a fondness for comic as memory totems.

* sometimes I think the only problem with editorial cartooning is the lack of widespread agreement that Matt Bors and Ruben Bolling are in the top five of its consistent practitioners. Bolling has broader aims, but it'd be amazing if one of the showpiece publications threw a chunk of money at him to do inventive cartoons on the news like this one.

* Peter Bagge covers Seattle Weekly.

* I was never a toy person, so I'm probably reading the image incorrectly, but I swear this looks like Ultraman has articulated abs. Speaking of the comic book event in which Ultraman is featured, teasing the death of a superhero is always weird to me. It's so unpleasant.

* I like how chipper this post is about something called Banned Books Week. I mean, I know, I know, but it's still funny to me. Speaking of the CBLDF, they have a post up promoting their book on manga.

* finally, Heidi MacDonald has commentary on last week's TCJ.com post and comments on the work of Jason Karns, and the subsequent posts from a number of corners.
 
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Happy 68th Birthday, Go Nagai!

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Happy 76th Birthday, Sergio Aragones!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Dustin Harbin!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Jason T. Miles!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Brendan Leach!

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September 5, 2013


Go, Look: A Short Leslie Stein Comic

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By Request Extra: A New Plea For Bill Mantlo Support

There's a lovely photo of the writer Bill Mantlo accompanying this post from Greg Pak, a post that includes a plea for donation to help in Mantlo's continued support. I don't think I'd seen a photo of Mantlo before, or at least don't recall one take after the injuries to the one-time mainstream comics mainstay that have required this sort of public plea. I hope you'll consider it, particularly if as a kid you enjoyed his comics or if as an adult or fellow professional you've benefited from creative work he did.
 
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Go, Look: Relaunched

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Bundled Extra: Batwoman Creators JH Williams III, WH Blackman Declare Leaving Title Due To Editorial

imageSeveral people have directed me to this post on writer WH Blackman's site about he and the writer/artist JH Williams III leaving DC's Batwoman title, they say because of the nature of editorial input on the title. This includes but is apparently not limited to a block on any potential progression to marriage in the relationship between the title's lead character and her girlfriend -- a fact which should generate its own cycle of attention, although perhaps unfairly.

What's intriguing to me here is that it's hard to figure out -- barring subsequent revelation -- why these creators would be directed to any significant degree at all, beyond perhaps checking their spelling and making sure nothing totally aberrant and demented happens. Batwoman is as a character almost solely a factor in DC's overall creative landscape due to these creators, particularly Williams. Save for the strong and at time capricious-seeming editing, Williams and Blackman seem enthusiastic and willing to continue. Further, there doesn't seem a whole lot to the property without those creators' contributions, although in a sales sense I suppose there is always a chance someone else will catch fire. I just read the third collection of the latest iteration of Batwoman in hardcover form. While that kind of story isn't always my cup of tea, there's no denying how handsome it is, and how idiosyncratic and pulsing with a kind of vitality it is, particularly relative to a lot of what gets published in mainstream comics. It stands out for being different and accomplished.

The editors listed on the title are Mike Marts and Darren Shan, although I'm not sure how DC is set up editorially in terms of people above those two having input.

I also wonder if something that doesn't play a factor here is that it's really hard right now to sell an off-core title like this one to the level that might be necessary to insulate it a bit from a different creative spin being offered up in the first place. Although in this case, the character generates a certain level of cultural capital and is a much-admired, quality title that one might think would be additional factors in making for a hands-off police. It looks like any people thinking that would be wrong.
 
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Go, Look: Recent MW Kaluta Cover Gallery

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Go, Read: Bob Levin On Kurtzman's War Comics

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One of the best writers about comics ever is Bob Levin. One of the best writer/artists/editor in comics history was Harvey Kurtzman. Levin writes very well on EC Comics; they are the comics of his youth, and had a profound effect on his life. He writes about Kurtzman's war comics here with a kind eye and rigorous standards. He touches on one of my favorite issues: the idea of comics work and popular art more generally as a kind of ongoing civics lesson through which one might inculcate a set of standards into the reading audience; he's not convinced it's that easy.
 
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Go, Look: More Straight-Up Walt Kelly Fantasy

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Go, Read: Semi-Contentious, Mostly Polite, Kirby/Lee Debate

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The TCJ.com article by Robert Steibel written for Jack Kirby's birthday on August 28th has spawned a reasonably civil debate about Stan Lee's claim for authorship of the early 1960s Marvel material. Some of the arguing kind of confuses me: I'm not sure you have to go so far as to downplay Lee's outright ability to generate plots of any kind in order to suggest that he may not have been generating the bulk of them for the 1960s stories, or that his contributions may not have been at the heart of what made those comics remarkable. But I do like some of the suggestions that there's a continuity to Jack Kirby's comics in the 1940s and 1950s that's present in the 1960s work; that's an interesting way to look at that material. I like the general level knowledge on display overall.
 
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Go, Look: Unearthly Spectaculars #2

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* Kali Ciesemier writes about contributing the book plate to this year's big library donation from the Small Press Expo. That is an admirable program, and a handsome plate.

* Baltimore Comic-Con this weekend. That is one of the most valuable conventions to the comics community with its strong focus on comics-making independent of those works' place in a wider geek-oriented culture. It's also in Baltimore, one of the great, comfortable, fascinating U.S. cities -- one with good food, too. Everyone have fun.

* the first of two Cincinnati cons that are being run one right after the other takes place this weekend.

* this weekend is also the Helsinki Comics Festival, which should have a sizable North American contingent if only for their generous offer of supplying a table and a place to stay for cartoonists from this continent that got themselves there. In fact, I just looked: Patrick McDonnell and Hunt Emerson are great guests; I've never met Emerson. I bet that will be a good show, and I'd love to spend a year no matter my level of involvement in comics otherwise going to some of these European comics shows. You could do six to eight of those really easy, I think.

* Jackie Estrada wrote in after an initial iteration of this post went up to say I forgot to list Salt Lake Comic Con, which apparently has already sold a bunch of tickets. That wasn't so much a "left out" as it was a "never heard of it." We are a convention nation. If you're there, go see Jackie and husband Batton Lash. They're very nice.

* I would say the majority of the small-press comics community is focused on next weekend's SPX, the "Camp Comics" of the convention calendar, if you were allowed to drink to excess at summer camp. You can find me defeating Jim Rugg at tetherball, or at the canoes hanging out with Seth.

* this lengthy and photo-festooned Autoptic report is worth reading if you're interested in that shows or such shows more generally.

* here's video I believe may have been shot at last year's New York Comic Con.

* if you wanted additional proof that Emerald City is here to stay and hasn't stopped growing yet, they're selling out of hotel rooms six months out now.

* finally, there are more conventions now than I even know about.
 
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If I Were In Slidell, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Strange Tales #53

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Judge Vol. 1, Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted, Lazarus #1-3 and Avery Fatbottom: Renaissance Fair Detective. Joe Gordon on Fairest Vol. 2. Richard Bruton on Savant #1. Henry Chamberlain on The Beginning Of The American Fall. Paul O'Brien on Uncanny X-Men #10-11. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on It Was The War Of The Trenches. Rob Clough on Lost Cat. Abhay Khosla on a bunch of different comics. Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan Vol. 6. Ng Suat Ton on "Justin M. Damiano."

* advice on how to become a superstar from Brian Michael Bendis.

* Hillary Chute talks to Jules Feiffer. Caleb Goellner talks to Gene Yang. Joe talks to Johnny Ryan.

* Andrew Wheeler writes about the fragile state of existence for many of the gay and lesbian characters in the Marvel Universe.

* this site is a lot of fun, and I'll probably do a "go, look" with it at some point. I'm interested in the Dave Cockrum and John Byrne as it intersects with their major X-Men runs, and in the works of others like Steve Rude more generally. I think this is something the Internet does pretty well, this kind of scattered dive into the deep end of the pool, arrangements of material by certain organizing principles that might not sustain book or magazine production.

* Sean Kleefeld, t-shirt marketer.

* not comics: Sean Collins' piece on The East Meets West Portfolio runs a lot of the work, so you can see for yourself.

* if you've been following the Image Comics "Who's Next?" photography campaign, this is pretty funny; if not, it's at least pretty odd.

* finally, Jeffrey O. Gustafson engages with Alan Moore's take on comics.
 
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If I Were In Salt Lake City, I'd Go To This

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Cathy Guisewite!

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September 4, 2013


Go, Look: Jacques Tardi's Paris

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Investment Group To Sell Share Of Comics Publisher In India

This wire report says that the investment group tied into India's largest retailer is looking to sell its stake in the company that publishes a big chunk of that country's kids' comics. Almost every single word in that article is news to me, so I'm happy to see it. I do know that it can be kind of scary to watch media companies as cogs in the wider plans of companies that hold a great deal of money. The companies in question could be selling tires, for all that it matters to the thrust and direction of this particular development.

To be honest with you, I don't know how those companies are set up, but I have to imagine that's a lucrative enough market that some of the other international companies with comics holdings might be interested in working their way in via such a purchase. I could be totally wrong about that, though.
 
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Go, Look: The Black Cone

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Sort-Of Comics: Gene Weingarten To Get The Ernie Pyle Award

I don't have a lot to add to this article about veteran newspaperman Gene Weingarten winning the 2014 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award, but I wanted to mention it here because that's one of the better awards I remember someone involved in comics receiving. Part of what Weingarten does is the Barney & Clyde strip (in collaboration with Dan Weingarten and David Clark). I always liked his involvement with that feature because while we see strips like Dustin or Shoe as a natural outgrowth of editorial cartoonists' relationships with newspaper, we rarely a writer/editor with a strip in that sense. If we're happy to see Mark Waid own a comics shop -- and we should be! -- we should be happy to see a super-established writer with a piece of the newspaper comics page. Anyway, they've been giving that award out since the early '90s, and it's a long list of solid, modern contributors to the expression of American culture that is the newspaper.
 
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Go, Look: Our Army At War #249

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Wally Wood!
 
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Go, Read: Michael Cavna Profiles Mort Walker

Over at Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna has a lengthy profile of Mort Walker up on the occasion of Walker's 90th birthday. I've been through it once and enjoyed it. As much as people tend to dismiss the old guard of newspaper cartooning, Walker is a highly-skilled cartoonist to whose work millions of fans have responded. It's fascinating to see him reflect on his legacy on terms of being so directly tied into the newspaper business. I know a lot of cartoonists who see the newspaper industry as incidental to the comics even as they pull the majority of their living from them.
 
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Go, Look: Warfront #37

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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.

*****

JUN131130 DELILAH DIRK & TURKISH LIEUTENANT GN $15.99
This is what you call a high draft pick for a publisher like First Second, a pedigreed webcomics offering that has proven, enthusiastic fans. If you wanted to build a First Second book in your garage, it'd probably look like this one.

imageJAN130465 SKIPPY HC VOL 02 COMPLETE DAILIES 1928-1930 $49.99
This is the one book that might get me to roll into the comic shop this week -- I think it's a really light week just in terms in which I have any interest at all. Crosby's comic was the ground zero/the patient one of kids comics, and was super popular in its time. I love the look of it, so it's nice to have these collections where you get to take in a whole bunch at once.

MAY130069 ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN ARCHIVES HC VOL 03 $49.99
This is the latest of those Dark Horse hardcovers that collects older comic books, which are printed with a paper stock that I believe actually resists gravity. This is comics from the early comics anthology published by AGC.

JUL131154 AMERICAN BORN CHINESE SC NEW PTG $18.99
If you don't have this one yet, you probably want it: Gene Yang's reputation-maker, now seven years (!) in the rear-view window. Look at it, anyway.

JUN131335 CHI SWEET HOME GN VOL 10 $13.95
This strikes me as the best of the mainstream manga series with a new volume in the shops this week; I think this is it for a while. I have lost track of this series after about volume four, and I ran a bit hot and cold on it personally up until then, even. But I know people that flip for the book, so there you go.

MAY131426 COMICS & LANGUAGE REIMAGINING CRITICAL DISCOURSE ON FORM HC $55.00
This is another University Press Of Mississippi book, but one focusing on a re-examination of formal techniques in comics, so 1) super-nerdy, 2) delightfully super-nerdy. It's priced for purchase at a college bookstore, and god bless any comics shop that carries one.

JUL130208 BATMAN BLACK & WHITE #1 $4.99
JUL130063 CATALYST COMIX #3 (MR) $2.99
JUL130539 SATELLITE SAM #3 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
It's also a strange week for comic-book comics, dominated by the 3-D covers on the DC books -- which may be in your shop or may sell out very quickly, I couldn't tell you. I'd instead suggest the creator-driven black-and-white Batman book from DC, the latest in Joe Casey's re-imagining of the Dark Horse superheroes, and the Matt Fraction/Howard Chaykin collaboration set in the early days of TV. I quite the last of these three, although I'm not sure how deep my devotion goes. It's fun to read, though, and for now that's more than enough.

*****

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 London, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Robolink

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Paul O'Brien on Astonishing X-Men #62-65. Cara Ellison on Young Avengers.

* David Lasky presents the only Batman story you'll ever need.

* wow.

* you will not likely find a bigger mouthful in terms of article-title or two better artists put into one piece this week than right here.

* I always liked this mini-pitch on Wildcat from the pen of Alex Toth. I share Toth's admiration for the look of that character, and his general disdain -- or at least non-interest -- for the other elements of it. I always thought the basic idea for that character, like Hourman and the Golden Age Sandman, was a pretty fun one if you knocked all the continuity crust off of it.

* Darryl Ayo Braithwaite wrote in to disagree with my article yesterday on the TCJ message board thread regarding Jason Karns' work. I appreciate him writing in. David Brothers wrote a response on his Tumblr. I appreciate him doing so. There was a spirited discussion on Twitter yesterday that makes me think a few more posts are likely to spring up -- I bet there's a chance we see something at Hooded Utilitarian -- if anyone wants to make me aware of them so I can link to them. I always appreciate being taken to task, and am happy to afford someone the platform to do so.

* John Crace talks to Ellen Forney. Aaron Colter profiles John Lewis. Teresa Miller talks to James Vance -- I couldn'y figure out how to embed that one.

* nonagenarian cartoonist Mort Walker is certainly the dean of strip cartooning, and that's even with a couple of guys out there named Dean.

* barely comics: Dr. Michael J. Vassallo uses a comic as part of his writing on Art Tatum.

* finally, I haven't been to Lakeland in 20 years, but if I ever go back I'll have more room to spread out while I shop for comic books.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Scott Shaw!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Paul Smith!

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September 3, 2013


Bundled Extra: Don Rosa Library Series News Slips Out

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Listings for a Fantagraphics-published Don Rosa Library have slipped out through the usual on-line booksellers. According to Fantagraphics' Eric Reynolds, the series had yet to be officially announced.

The Rosa duck comics are super-fun. Rosa is a major fan of the great Carl Barks, whose comics Fantagraphics has been publishing in a similar format. He is also a very, very clever writer. If you are the kind of person that does not like comics that in some way refer to other comics, the Rosa material that does this will likely be the exception to your rule. Don Rosa and Fantagraphics go way back to Rosa's pre-Disney comics. Rosa and Fantagraphics head honcho Gary Groth were both 1960s/1970s super-fans and collectors -- Rosa in Kentucky; Groth in the DC area -- of the kind that receive local newspaper profiles. I believe they remain go-out-to-dinner friendly. I always enjoy seeing Don Rosa at shows around the country, and I'd love to see him get some of the respect in North America that he receives in various European markets.

The catalog page I was sent has this as a $29.99 hardcover for 248 pages. That should discount nicely, but at that price, the cheapest among us might not wait.
 
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Go, Look: Riley Hoonan

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Go, Look: Laura Park On Tumblr

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Mark Waid Bought Into My Hometown Comics Shop

The veteran comics writer Mark Waid and his partner the academic Christy Blanch have bought into Alter Ego Comics in Muncie, Indiana. That's my hometown, and really my hometown's main comics shop, so I've been there a few times. The person I think of as its owner is a guy named Jason Pierce, who strikes me as a super-nice, smart retailer; he's well thought-of by a few of the prominent retailers I know. Alter Ego started as a two-man operation but quickly became Pierce's solo gig, at least in terms of the day-to-day store-running: if he wasn't manning the register himself, he was a phone call away.

imageAlter Ego was for a long time in a kind of faded strip mall on Muncie's main commercial street -- next to where the longtime location of that city's headshop and record store had been, as no one but me cares. It's now in Muncie's surprisingly and now relatively thriving downtown, in the same block with the bar where we had my recent high school reunion, but more importantly a toy and hobby business. There is competition from another shop, or at least there was the last time I was in town, Bob's Comic Castle in an even more faded former flea-market type mall. I shop at both when I'm in town. Alter Ego's original location was small, but the store was pretty well-stocked. Pierce always carried a wide variety of books for his size of store, I'd say ahead of that community's desire to purchase them. I bet the new store is about twice that size, a pretty standard store size. I've bought a lot of back-issues there; it's the first place I noticed you could buy lower-grade late 1960s Marvel for less than the price of modern comic books if you were willing to look for them. In terms of the superheroes, I think Pierce is at heart a DC guy, which means he and Waid would have a passion for that company in common. I've bought plenty of Marvel Comics there, too, including some of Waid's recent runs.

Waid wouldn't be the first comics person to own a chunk of a Muncie business; Jim Davis had a piece of restaurant there for years and years.

I think it's good for professionals to double-down in terms of industry involvement if it works for them, which means I like this in much the same way that I thought it was good when companies like Fantagraphics and D+Q were starting stores several years back. Waid becoming a digital comics publisher was intriguing when that happened; this is equally interesting. Due to being the subject of seminal sociological studies in the 1920s through 1970s, Muncie also boasts an identity as being a sort of "Middletown USA," so anything Waid does is likely to be interesting for it being a smaller store in the Midwest than if he had bought 10 percent of Meltdown or whatever. Waid promises to work the register on some weekend, which means just about damn question you have about mainstream comics will receive a super-authoritative answer. I hope someone asks him about Mark Waid.

Waid moved to East Central Indiana because of his relationship with Branch, who teaches at Ball State University.

Waid's essay is on his digital comics site -- I just spent a big chunk of time two weeks ago reading all the comics there -- so there's a lot about the interplay between digital comics and print comics in terms of the announcement. It reads like Waid got a lot of blowback from certain brick and mortar retailers about his digital comics venture, as if these things were somehow incompatible. One of comics' few industry-wide hangups is the notion that the pie is limited and the best way to conduct oneself is to make sure the that your part of the pie is taken care of. I think the ebb and flow of the comics business is usually a lot more complicated -- and generally hopeful in terms of finding new audiences -- than that. So I look forward to what happens. Waid promises a second announcement in the next couple of days.
 
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Go, Look: Tom Peyer's Tumblr

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Not Comics: Future Publishing Cutbacks

There are a few reasons to link to this piece on restructuring at Future Publishing, the British specialty and trades magazine publisher. A first is that they offer video game titles and there's some significant crossover there, just in terms of who might be getting what freelance gigs. A second is that we think of the problems with publication as basically hitting general newsstand media, I think because specialty magazine advertising works differently than big-display, and because a lot of the trades are run in tighter fashion to begin with. A third is just to read the press release, which is a lot like a North American equivalent but without the brazen use of goofy jargon. We're now ten to fifteen years into media-company restructures due in part to new media, and one imagines the landscape continuing to change. One virtue of trade and specialty publishers is that their revenue is tied up in their product -- there's little value there to be boosted and auctioned that isn't involved with making things.
 
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Go, Look: Locust Moon Comics

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Go, Read: Jack Matsuoka, RIP

I like to do my own obituaries, but I can't imagine that anything I'd have to write right this minute on the late cartoonist Jack Matsuoka could improve a whole lot on the initial obituary I found for him here, just in terms of the beats and highlights of his life. Matsuoka led a fascinating life, and made art of one of its central tragedies. You can listen to his him speak through this blog post, which also includes a lovely picture of him. God bless and rest in peace.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Yam Books has released the cover image for Renee French's forthcoming effort, Hagelbarger And That Nightmare Goat. That looks wonderful.

image* Heidi MacDonald's Kirby Day post mentioned something that completely escaped my attention: Drew Friedman is doing a book of portraits featuring folks from the comic book industry, to be published by Fantagraphics sometime in 2014. That should be really good. At left is a pencil sketch of Martin Goodman, pulled from this post.

* that hugely successful of the new paradigm cartoonists Raina Telgemeier provides a progress report on Sisters due about 360 days from right now.

* there is a massive list right here of works of all size, shapes and forms that will debut at the Small Press Expo mid-month. I encourage you to check it out if you're going, and double-check it out if you don't.

* Nina Bunjevac wrote in to confirm that she'll be doing an illustrated biography of Nikola Tesla as her next big project, and directed me here for more information. I think that's a good match of cartoonist and subject matter, and look forward to the finished book. Also, I'm going to just start running wild guesses as to cartoonist's future projects; that way I can get another bit of news from the confirmation/denial. This is how my Mom thinks all newsgathering works.

* there will be a second Delilah Dirk book.

* veteran comics scribe Peter Milligan is writing for Valiant's Shadowman.

* Chris Sims previews the latest Devastator.

* I totally missed that a new Reich was in the works, let alone that it was imminent. Always like the covers on those.

* finally, new Mat Brinkman is coming.

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Go, Look: Grixly

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I think most people know deep down that girls are readers, too, and thus readers of comics. How to enact strategies to better serve that readership given the rigidity of certain market infrastructures, the general lack of money to throw around and the intractability of certain publishing entities over, mostly, those same money issues -- that's an item of significant discussion. Always nice to hear about kids enjoying comics, though.

image* RC Harvey on Dick Locher. Sean T. Collins on Heather Benjamin.

* Mike Lynch found Jim Keefe talking about the layout on one of the Sunday comics title panels he does for Sally Forth. I either didn't know or have forgotten that they call those "drop panels."

* Michael Netzer recently did a lengthy, 2-hour podcast here with Arutz Sheva unpacking his unique perspective on comics.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Trinity War. Sean Kleefeld on Superheroes: The Best Of Philosophy And Pop Culture and The Naked Artist. Sean Gaffney on Neon Genesis Evangelion Omnibus Vols. 10-12. Matt Derman on Ninja High School #1-3. Rob Clough on Science Fiction. Ng Suat Tong on The Strange Tale Of Panorama Island. Paul Tumey on Society Is Nix.

* Charles Burns draws Alan Moore. Jim Woodring draws a chicken.

* the Wun Cloo feature trades in depressing racial stereotypes, but it is little-seen -- for that reason, I imagine -- Jack Cole.

* even as much as I know about the sometimes-awful world of collectible comics, it's still difficult not to notice when a new character hits with a certain element of fandom even when the character doesn't sound appealing to you at all. I guess it'd be fun if they pulled an Alex Keaton with the character and the Joker's daughter was like an actuary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

* finally, CF does Batman.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Paul Chadwick!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Victor Cayro!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Joe Matt!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Mort Walker!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Ethan Van Sciver!

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September 2, 2013


Go, Look: Anthony Meloro

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On Liking To Read Comics That May Be Just Awful

Enough people e-mailed me links to this article and the resulting comics thread late last week that for a second I thought some major figure in the comics landscape had died. It is as difficult for me to read contentious message board-type threads bubbling up from comics culture as I'm sure it's hard for some folks to revisit a bar where they did a lot of personal damage drinking to excess. I wasted a lot of my life in places like that. They're rarer to see now, temporary structures rather than hardy castles, but the air still tastes the same. So many folks seem so deeply unhappy, and the issues themselves seem less important than employing a strategy that will win the day according to some made-up standard for doing so.

I don't know the work of the cartoonist in question, certainly not well enough to lower the boom with a racism charge. I would want to read a lot of the work before I did that; it seems only fair. Not all that convinced it would mean a bunch even if I did. I no longer share the vigorous faith in labeling something that some folks on that thread and in other places more generally seem to evince. The conversation raises some interesting side issues. It seems a bit weird to me that you dismiss the transgressive nature of something at the same time you're trying to shout it down in some fashion, but that's way too easy of a response that I'm certain it's flawed in some way that could be easily summarized and tossed back at me. I have a bunch of different opinions about using upsetting material as art. I don't like it when it's used cynically, as a way to tweak genre or to facilitate sales; I find that dehumanizing and sad. I tend not to judge what an artist wants to do, what they feel they have to push back against, because my experience isn't theirs. I'm happy to comment on their art without making a sweeping judgment about them, mostly because I'm more interested in the art.

That's where it gets a bit weird, and not to my credit. I may have a slight hitch in my moral make-up in that I tend to be able to process art that has horrible aspects to it in the same way I take it Frank Santoro was in his initial post. For instance, I enjoy the exuberant silliness of the "Woman Wonder" parody that Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder did once upon a time, although there are some super-sick aspects to that comic and I think it exists in a space between knowing that it's sick and giving its readers a charge from that sickness. I like the wild nature of Fred Carter's work in those anti-Catholic Crusaders comics even though I can't stomach their hate-filled, rattle-eyed certainty. I tend to see potentially damaging aspects to a lot of comics, from Archie to Superman to Cerebus to Eightball to 9 Chickweed Lane, and at the same time not hold those things in my heart against their creators. There are a million ways to move through the world, and I've barely figured out my own. Andy Capp makes me laugh. Andy Capp is a monster.

The most sensible thing I read in that entire, sprawling outburst was Frank Santoro's apology here, and that's even without knowing exactly what he was apologizing for: the rhetoric or the endorsement. I like the confession that sometimes we read things one way and wish we hadn't, or wish we had read them another, or wish we had said so in a completely different way. Engaging with art on any level is a jittery business, and we all fall down a bunch. I assume someone out there took Santoro's post as a "win," whatever that means. That's a way of looking at it, too.
 
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Go, Look: Shadow, Jr.

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Saga Wins Best Graphic Story Category At 2013 Hugo Awards

imageAccording to the awards program's site, the comic book series Saga won the Best Graphic Story category in this year's Hugo Awards. They were given out in conjunction with LoneStar Con 3 in San Antonio, Texas, over the weekend.

The trade Saga Vol. 1 won the award. It was credited with writing to Brian K. Vaughn and illustration to Fiona Staples -- the publisher Image was also listed. Others in the category were Locke & Key Volume Five: Clockworks, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW); Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia, Howard Tayler and Travis Walton (Hypernode Media); Grandville Bete Noire, Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse/Jonathan Cape); Saucer Country, Volume One: Run, Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly and Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudzuka (Vertigo).

There were other comics-related elements to the awards program. The comics writer Paul Cornell was the host. Viz Media shared in an award for a Ken Liu contribution to a prose work they published. The webcartoonist Howard Tayler shared in an award given the Writing Excuse podcast. The movie adaptation of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Mark Millar/Bryan Hitch/etc. Avengers comic book won an award.

The first Hugo Awards were given out in 1953. The Graphic Story category was put into place in 2009.
 
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Go, Look: World Of Fantasy #3

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Assembled Extra: iFanboy Ceases Day-To-Day Operations

The site iFanboy, one of the early adopters of the web site model of hobby and geek culture coverage, has announced it will cease its current day to day operations. I don't know the site well enough to gauge what the timing of this announcement means in terms of that site's history or sites like it more generally, but Ron Richards settling in at Image reminds me that 13 years is a long time in this day and age to be doing anything, and is practically an epoch in Internet time. I wish them all luck; I certainly linked to a fair amount of their content over the years. They had a premium membership type thing going, it looks like, so it might be interesting to see how that develops with the site change, what you do with something like that.
 
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Go, Look: Western Outlaws #14

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* there is new David Lasky art up at his Etsy shop.

* someone wrote in to ask if I'd run a link to this post about print sales from the artist Gerhard. I'm not really sure if there's a specific reason for this request to have been made, but I enjoyed Gerhard's art for years and years and I'm happy to run a link to some prints featuring work of that type. I always wanted to do a TCJ interview with him back in the '90s just for the empty-room cover.

* totally missed the A Softer World crowd-funder; it sure didn't need me.

* finally, another need-based eBay sale of mini-comics gems via Jess Jonsin.
 
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If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: 30-Cent Jack Kirby Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Brian Miller profiles Fantagraphics.

image* JK Parkin talks to Ethan Rilly.

* not comics: fan entitlement. What's troubling about this in a decline-of-culture way isn't whether or not people want the expected extras or don't want them or are willing to buy the DVD or not. It's not even whether they like the movie or not. What's troubling is the expectation that the consumer should be getting something, and if they don't get it there's a need to respond other than not buying it. That's just creepy, and it's a horrible, twisted-up way to conduct yourself in relation to items of pop culture, of which there 87 billion different kinds to try right now. It's a huge, depressing leap from, "Oh, I thought we'd get more than that. To get more is pretty standard. That's disappointing. I won't be buying it" to proclaiming one's disappointment through violation-via-a-sexual-act metaphors. Sheesh.

* Gene Ha draws Gorgon. Garry Brown draws Daredevil.

* Brian Nicholson provides a list of Batman comics he likes more than the accepted canon of Batman comics. I like idiosyncratic lists pulled struggling from the tidal wave of four-color pulp that is the superhero comics realm; I always fear that the best ones in that genre are comics that are completely slipping past me. I think we also have a half-hitch when it comes to putting comics to which we have a strong reaction in the upper class of comics -- there's a fearfulness to stepping away from orthodoxy, even in a fantasy sub-genre.

* Johanna Draper Carlson writes about her favorite kind of webcomics.

* Richard Bruton on Barracuda. Henry Chamberlain on March Vol. 1 and Perspective! Paul O'Brien on X-Men #4. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Epileptic and Sacrifice, and then also Adventure Time #19.

* finally, I don't think I'd ever seen this Love & Rockets bibliography.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Eric Knisley!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Colleen Frakes!

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September 1, 2013


Go, Read: Toormina Video

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

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Landry Walker!

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FFF Results Post #349 -- Kirby! Kirby! Kirby!

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Your Five Favorite Specific Jack Kirby Comic Book Issues." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Kamandi #10
2. Mister Miracle #16
3. Fantastic Four #55
4. Fantastic Four #53
5. Fantastic Four #25

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Kamandi #14
2. Captain America #211
3. The Demon #5
4. Fantastic Four #51
5. Fantastic Four #26

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. New Gods #7
2. Jimmy Olsen #141
3. Tales of Asgard #1
4. Avengers #4
5. Fantastic Four #77

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. New Gods #6
2. Journey Into Mystery #112
3. Journey Into Mystery #113
4. Thor #126
5. Mister Miracle #4

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1 2001: A Space Odyssey #5
2 Kamandi #29
3 Fighting American #1 (1966)
4 DC First Issue Special #6: The Dingbats of Danger Street (1975)
5 Black Magic #1 (1973) (unfortunately, I've never read the comics the 70's Black Magic comics were reprinted from... the not-Kirby cover for this comic pales in comparison to the decidedly pre-code one he did for the same story on the original series Black Magic #30 from 1954)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Fantastic Four #48
2. Captain America Comics #1
3. Devil Dinosaur #1
4. Fantastic Four #51
5. Destroyer Duck #5 (This one deserves an explanation: My first comics gig was writing a two-page fight scene for this issue, a hand off from Steve Gerber to get my feet webbed [...er...wet] before taking the book over with issue 6. My first pro gig and it was illustrated by Jack Kirby! You can't start a career in comics better than that!)

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Mister Miracle #9
2. New Gods #8
3. Eternals Annual #1
4. Black Panther #1
5. Kamandi #29

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. 2001: A Space Oddessy - Marvel Treasury Edition
2. New Gods #7
3. Fantastic Four #49
4. Fantastic Four #51
5. Fantastic Four #57

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Fantastic Four # 35
2. Fantastic Four # 56
3. Demon #7
4. Mister Miracle #7
5. Journey into Mystery #107

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Fantastic Four #5
2. Devil Dinosaur #1
3. Journey into Mystery #97
4. Fantastic Four Annual #5
5. 2001 #8

*****

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James Moore

1. OMAC #1
2. Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #152
3. Fantastic Four #50
4. Fantastic Four #51
5. New Gods #6

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. New Gods #7
2. Jimmy Olsen #141
3. Tales of Asgard #1
4. Avengers #4
5. Fantastic Four #77 Shall Earth Endure? Yer damn Skippy it will!

*****

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Chris Zepeda

1. Captain America #100
2. Kamandi #6
3. Fantastic Four Annual #6
4. Mr. Miracle #3
5. Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #141

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Fantastic Four #50
2. Fantastic Four #89
3. Captain America #212
4. Forever People #4
5. New Gods #7

*****

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Michael Ryan

* Black Magic #27. 'The Cat People' is the epilogue to producer Val Lewton's classic film of the same name.
* Bullseye #3. 'The Devil Bird' puts our western hero in 'The Valley of Gwangi'.
* Fantastic Four #40. It contains in my estimation Kirby's best single page - the heartbreaking transformation of Ben Grimm back into The Thing. It can't even be diminished by Colletta's inks.
* Fantastic Four #67. The coming of 'Him' is an underrated Sci-Fi epic in Kirby's deep repertoire of great stories, and puts Alicia front and center as a heroine.
* X-Men #10. Our mutant-heroes in 'The World That Time Forgot'; helped put me on my career path. One of the next dinosaurs I name will be named after Kirby.

*****

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Michel Fiffe

1. Fantastic Four #73
2. Fantastic Four #8 (Marvel Tales reprint)
3. Avengers #3 (Marvel Super Heroes reprint)
4. Super Powers #1
5. O.M.A.C. #1

*****

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Mike Palumbo

1. Fantastic Four #11
2. OMAC #1
3. Mister Miracle #6
4. 2001 - A Space Odyssey Treasury Edition
5. Tales to Astonish #13

*****

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Mark Mayerson

* Star Spangled Comics #9
* Boy's Ranch #3 (for "Mother Delilah")
* Fantastic Four Annual #1
* New Gods #7
* Kamandi #29

*****

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Steve Replogle

* New Gods #1 - "Orion Fights for Earth"
* The Demon #1 - "Unleash the One Who Waits"
* OMAC #1 - "The World That's Coming"
* Black Panther #1 - "King Solomon's Frog"
* Silver Star #1 - "Homo Geneticus"

*****

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Nicholas Doyle

1. Kamandi #1
2. New Gods #1
3. Fantastic Four #1
4. Fantastic Four #51
5. Fantastic Four Annual #3

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. New Gods #6 'Glory Boat'
2. 2001 #5 'Norton of New York'
3. Showcase #6 Challengers of the Unknown
4. Tales To Astonish #40 ""The Day That Ant-Man Failed!""
5. The Eternals #10

*****

unless you were a first-time participant, for which I'm always super-delighted, I deleted responses that came with choices that weren't comic books

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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