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
















February 28, 2014


Mystery! Can Anyone Name This/These Work/Works, This/These Cartoonist/Cartoonists?

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Go, Look: Various Items From The Columbus, Ohio Stop Of The 1995 Spirits Of Independence Tour

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Go, Read: Eric Stephenson Always Gives Good Speech

Here is the text of his speech to ComicsPRO. I like Eric and I like his speeches; I tend to be kind of wary of biting down hard on anything without a self-critical component, but that's because I have issues. I think he presents a lot of what Image does well and how that company could fashion the comic shop part of the industry around it a bit more in a positive way very well in that speech.
 
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Go, Look: The Secret Voice, Part 4

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Alison Bechdel Responds To SC School-Funding Controversy

imageI nearly missed this PW story containing a statement from the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, whose Fun Home was one of a pair of books targeted by members of the South Carolina legislature for punitive funding cuts when schools under their purview assigned them; these cuts are not only openly punitive but they are due to a reductive, doltish, and wholly political characterization of these books as being gay books because they touch up against aspects of non-heterosexual culture and/or depict lives of non-heterosexual people. The College of Charleston assigned Fun Home to incoming freshman as a kind of group-read heading into the school year.

It is a classy statement; I'm not going to repeat it here as I didn't get the quote, but I hope you'll read it through the link.

I'd like to reiterate my wholehearted, white-hot contempt for the actions driving this story. Defining these books that way is asinine. Suggesting that books with ideas you don't like are therefore something students shouldn't encounter is asinine. Suggesting that assigning books whose ideas you don't like is somehow irresponsible is asinine. Substituting your views for the views of educators on a matter of educational value based on ideology is asinine. Punishing a educational institution on this basis is asinine.

I hope you'll consider joining me in sending a few bucks to the College Of Charleston in support as there is actual money involved here -- 66 George St Charleston SC 29424 -- or will at least stand by to see if a more formal fundraising effort to replace those funds is initiated down the road.
 
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Go, Look: A Few Bernie Wrightson DC Cover Images

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Your 2013 Reuben Award Nominees

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The National Cartoonist Society has announced its finalists for the Outstanding Cartoonist Of The Year category at their yearly awards, known as the Reuben and one of the world's handful of great honors for a living cartoonist. The nominees for the stridently newspaper strip focused honor are Wiley Miller (Non Sequitur), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Hilary Price (Rhymes With Orange) and Mark Tatulli (Lio, Heart Of The City).

I'm not sure I have a lot to say about the nominees. That seems like a solid slate drawn from traditional Reuben voting and nominee strategies. No one on here seems like they're jumping the gun in terms of how long their work has been around, nor do any of the four lack the kind of commercial success that's usually a component of the award, intentional or not. The one thing that strikes me is I'm surprised Wiley Miller hasn't been nominated before now. Congratulations to all four.

The winner is named at a black-tie ceremony held over Memorial Day weekend during the year meeting of the group at a revolving location; this year it's in San Diego.
 
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Go, Look: The Doll House

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Go, Read: Matthias Wivel At TCJ.com Gets Lewis Trondheim Comment On FIBD Grand Prix Voting

Matthias Wivel over at The Comics Journal gets Lewis Trondheim on the record about the new voting for the grand prix at Angouleme, a process that the former winner and international cartooning superstar had publicly endorsed. Trondheim cites the quality of this year's finalists -- Alan Moore, Katsuhiro Otomo and eventual winner Bill Watterson -- and their more significant reflection of the world of comics as it exists today. Wivel does ask a question that formulates a concern I had, that this may make it impossible for significant figures from the French-language comics tradition to win the award, and Trondheim answers. As he notes, the voting process can still change, although I agree with him that it's likely it won't change a whole bunch.
 
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Go, Look: Tragoston Tales

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People Are Still E-Mailing Me About This John Campbell Kickstarter

So the cartoonist John Campbell has declared in highly dramatic fashion that a Kickstarter oriented around a second collection for the popular webcomic Pictures For Sad Children would be capped in terms of fulfillment at around 75 percent of promised incentives, indicting among other things the abitrariness of capitalistic enterprise generally and the underlying insistence and resulting cruelty of the kind of specific arrangement bought and paid for through a crowd-funding construct. You can read general twitter comments here, and the comments underneath the new post are worth reading as well. Reactions run the gamut from concern to contempt to confusion.

At this point the driving forces for my continued interest are curiosity -- it seems like there's still a lot of information to come as to what exactly this is and/or what happened -- and, a step above that, worry for the well-being of the cartoonist, whom I do not know. I think other reactions can wait until we know more. I'll update here if there are things today I think worth noting, and will generally keep an eye on the story as much as not being connected to that world allows.
 
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Go, Look: Some Lovely Workmanlike Gil Kane Art

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30,840 Is One Heck Of A Mini-Comics Print Run

While I'm not one to point at every feature story featuring a cartoonist that comes along, I rather enjoyed this one on Caesar Meadows and his mini-comics distribution efforts during various Mardi Gras-related events. These efforts have led to plans for over 30,000 mini-comics commissioned to be thrown from floats during last night's Carnival 2014 parade. This follows years of similar yet more modest endeavors. Thirty thousand has to be pretty up there for a mini-comics run; we have to be getting into similarly commissioned or stunt mini territory with that figure. I like the idea of people catching mini-comics, too. And you get a little primetime New Orleans comics-room shelf porn. Wanted: more features like.
 
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Go, Look: A Severin/Elder Costumed Western

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Bundled Extra: Massive Joe Gordon Post On 2014 Brit Comics

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This post from Joe Gordon at the FPI blog is a pretty straight-forward previews piece, but as the organizing principle is comics published in the UK, it's worth our attention, I think, above and beyond the considerable collective nature of the books profiled. The publishers tagged gives you a clue as to how rich that scene has become: Blank Slate, Great Beast, Improper Books, Jonathan Cape, Knockabout, Nobrow, Rebellion and SelfMadeHero are included, any of which could hold down its own, distinct post. Some of these books, like Orson Welles: Secret Agent, I hadn't heard of at all.

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Go, Look: Mr. Miracle

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there are some lovely, weird images in here
 
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Go, Read: James Sturm On Ed Koren On His Taking Over Vermont's Cartoonist Laureate Role

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James Sturm wrote a very sweet post in tribute to Ed Koren on the occasion of his taking over the Vermont cartoonist laureate role from James Kochalka in some sort of informal meeting with the governor in a fancy room. There are some fun cartoons and a couple of written tributes; it's just very nice, particularly in that it's an honor Koren is receiving in his lifetime so everyone can say kind things while he can still hear them. We don't value that kind of thing enough.
 
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Go, Look: The Outsider

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Comixology sent out a press release about their schedule for SXSW Interactive, and I've waited until someone posted it in its entirety to send you to look at it. This is an important show for that company, and I think actually the kind of show more generally that could provide some ideas for how to arrange future comics festivals. Last year this was the event through which they announced a massive Marvel digital comics giveaway which I think blew up Planet Computer or something; doesn't look like on that schedule there are any potential repeats.

* a pair of readers suggested this post on how to employ webcomics advertisements for a maximum spike in traffic for one's webcomic. The advice that click-throughs on a cheaper site are more valuable than exposure on a more expensive site isn't something with which everyone agrees, but it's good to see some thoughts worked through there.

* here's a snapshot of Patreon and its penetration thus far into the world of comics. And we are starting to see people running this kind of campaign up the flagpole.

* finally, it's strange that we haven't seen more hosted comics at comics news and review sites, but I'm grateful for those that exist.
 
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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Not Comics: More Virgil Finlay

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is your infrequent reminder to go and vote for the Eisner Hall Of Fame, if you're eligible.

image* I always appreciate when random Kirby art pops up on-line, including the design pieces like this one. It's like this little recurring gift of the comics Internet.

* cartoonist Chris Schweizer's bookshelves.

* Sean Kleefeld provides a bibliography of biographies featuring black comics creators.

* Logan Dalton on Cataclysm #5. Rosemarty Kiladitis on The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza. Todd Klein on Justice League #25. Rob Clough on various comics by Matt Madden. Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan: Before The Fall Vol. 1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Moon Knight Vol. 2. Joe Gordon on Jerusalem.

* hey, it's a Secret Acres travel blog post, also one of the great gifts of the comics Internet. This one is on the LA 'Zine Fest. There's even a suspenseful ending.

* Roger Langridge draws The Rocketeer. Darryl Cunningham draws The Scream. Jillian Tamaki draws Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

* I'm not sure I follow this article on some Dr. Seuss-related holdings at a Cincinnati museum, but I do sometimes wonder what might be out there in holdings that isn't in easy circulation.

* Steve Morris talks to Matthew Wilson. Team Guys With Pencils talks to Chris Butcher. Hannah Means-Shannon talks to Christina Blanch. David Brothers talks to Daryl Ayo, Whit Taylor and LeSean Thomas.

* finally, R. Fiore provides a summary appraisal of Bhob Stewart as a writer about comics. For what it's worth, this is the most interesting photo that I've seen surface in the wake of Stewart's passing.
 
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Happy 30th Birthday, Lauren Barnett!

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February 27, 2014


Go, Look: Greg Kletsel

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That John Campbell Post Was The Most Interesting Thing I Read Today That I Did Not Understand At All

Here. I lack even the basic fundamental context to start to get into whatever is going on there, but I wanted to post it because 1) you might have that context, 2) you might be a person for whom this triggers a response that isn't reading something on the Internet.

Some responses on Twitter.
 
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Go, Look: Leonard Riegel

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Go, Read: Matt Wilson Calls For Extended Dialogue About Health Care Coverage In The Comics Industry

Matt D. Wilson has a nice article up here about the recent crises facing comics professionals like Stan Sakai, Peter David and Bill Mantlo and the fact that in each case a public plea was made on their behalf to help them raise money for a shortcoming in their healthcare needs. He makes the point that you can't count on charity forever, and he's right: you can't. You shouldn't even have to count on it as much as we do, and there are limits as to what can be done by passing the hat.

I might have a slightly different take on some of this stuff, though. Some thoughts, not very well organized:

* I'm pretty much wholly unfamiliar with Peter David's situation, but from what little I know about what's facing Bill Mantlo and Stan Sakai it seems to me that one reason we're hearing about them is because these are extreme events, things that happened that would put a strain on anyone in any profession, and events where considerable effort and preparation and family investment have already taken place and therefore the invitation to help is more supplemental than primary. As is the case with the kind of safety net work the Hero Initiative does, catastrophic and unexpected events are going to happen even with the best reforms and changes of strategy possible. I don't think we mix the two as often as it's asserted we might. I know plenty of crises in comics that did not result in a crowd-funding campaign.

image* I also think what's broken about cases like the ones mentioned and the ones like it is something that's broken about our society more than may be broken about comics specifically or freelancing generally. That doesn't mean there aren't unique challenges to people that want to do comics work, but I think it should inform the scale on which we can work to improve things, where our energies might focus -- especially since comics people at times embrace a weird ethos of "if it can't be fixed 100 percent the way I think it should be fixed, Not Worth Doing." I don't even mean there are challenges in a dramatic way, the heave and swell of the political table-thumping, as much as there are practicalities that face everyone, both in related arts fields and beyond. I have a friend right now that's leaving a very good job to take up with a great business opportunity and the health care coverage issues in transition are just as daunting and discouraging for him as they are for the average SPXer. I've had friends be pushed from full-time to contract work just so the company for which they work can slip out of healthcare coverage. So let's realize the scope of what we're talking about here so as to better focus our energies and to keep in mind that work is necessary in a broader sense, too, as voters and as agitators for public policy.

* I still think there's a ton that can be done, and that within comics there's a lot of broader thinking that could be engaged.

* we don't make a positive value out of people securing healthcare by whatever means they need to, and we should. We shouldn't necessarily romanticize people putting themselves at risk. We should maybe be less patient with people that not only choose to go without coverage -- which is understandable at times -- but do so for years on end, and don't even know what their options are if they do get sick, like how much an emergency room trip really costs or if there's a doctor in town that lets you pay 40 percent of cost if you pay cash or what prescription drug programs they qualify for or if there are indigent programs in their area. (Seriously, if this is you, go find this stuff out.) There's making a choice and there's willfull denial, and we should maybe do more to discourage the latter.

* we don't make a positive value out of comics entities providing health care, and we should. We should very much do this. I worked at Fantagraphics during a time of distribution havoc caused by fighting giants half a world away, for a boss that at the time did not make twice what I made, and I always had health insurance there. Always. I don't know if that's still the case there or how that works or for what companies that is the case or isn't, but I think that should inform how we think about these companies and how they operate and what they add to the overall fabric of comics. If a company comes to the community needing advance orders to make it through to next year, I think how they spend that money comes into question, and providing health care options for their workers is a great way to spend some of that money.

* a big part of what hampers our discussion of health care coverage is that parts of it demand a wider discussion of how the community engages with money, period, and we have a fucked-up, stunted way of dealing with money in comics. I think I can say that because it seems so obvious; I'm certainly not saying this in a judgmental way because I am horrible with money. I am better at verb agreement than I am with money. But I do think a first step in dealing with the issue of health care coverage for freelancers across the board might be a lot more honesty about what people make and how they make it in comics, a step away from the big bluff that we're all doing well. Let's be honest about what lying to young people about the money in comics really is: selfishness that harms people's lives because we don't want to admit the truth about our own situations. We're getting a little better about this, but there's a lot of work yet to do. If we're all bluffing each other that there's money to be made doing exaclty what we're doing, people are going to follow our example and be dismayed that they're not making money they think others are making, and may avoid a situation that may provide them access to healthcare because they think they just need to do what they're doing more effectively. A lot of sick people die from avoiding the kind of maintenance care or doctor check-in because they've gone without health insurance thinking that's what you need to do. And if you're chasing phantoms from age 25 to 45, and, for instance, don't own a house coming out the other side the way some people do, that puts more strain on you on securing proper health care later on.

* I do only see that kind of honesty as a start, though. An even more uncomfortable subject down the line is that while systemic changes may be necessary, and a calculating realism based on bracing honesty may be the best survival technique to get us from here to there with the least damage possible, there are still going to be extraordinary circumstances. One thing that might be helpful is to not see access to community goodwill as an entitlement, that we should really save our efforts for people like the Sakais or someone made homeless and maybe not for such folks and whatever person that's not sick that's asking for money because of whatever temporary setback they suffered. Isn't it awful to write that out? I hate me a little bit right now. But I think we've all made that face. This kind of thing is super-tough because making these judgments for other people is seen as aggressively crass and people get angry when you see their need as maybe not on the same level as the last person that asked. Comics people are hyper status conscious because the actual rewards are so intermittent and people rallying behind a peer to get them a new something-or-other can be a crushing, dismaying thing on an individual level, not just as a curious community expenditure. Also, a lot of people really do believe in a market of goodwill, that people will either pay or they won't and there's no harm in asking. I'm not so sure. People have different standards for need, too. I get a lot of requests for people asking me to help them raise money. One time I had a person for whom several thousand dollars were raised six months earlier ask me to do another round of fundraising. They made a point of telling me they were calling me on their cell phone, in their car, on their way to their massage appointment. At the time, I didn't have the money for any of those things and my back was such I really regretted canceling those appointments. It's complicated, I know, but I think we also all know of people that we're willing to meet at their point of need where later on we wish that maybe they re-thought their point of need. Maybe a dialogue about health care needs to take place in the context of a dialogue about money and a really hard self-analysis as to how we do business, what we prioritize and how we might avoid putting our hands next to the hands that really need to be raised.

* I also think that a more aggressive dialogue about health care and need can also bring with it a rigorous discussion of how business is done in comics, and if we have the businesses we need that ethically and honorably reward the creators that work with them -- not just in terms of percentages and exploitation, but in terms of overall effectiveness and bottom line. That's an ugly discussion, too, compounded immensely if you suggest that we have an obligation to others to conduct business with certain standards.

* so let's please talk about health care, let's talk about it all the time. And people do, really, via e-mail and texting and phone calls and at conventions; it's possible to have an industry dialogue that's not in front of everyone. But let's talk more. And maybe let's have all these other discussions, too. It's a fascinating time for comics in part because there are certain opportunities there but the nature of a lot of them is limited in ways we dare not admit. Any way we can increase coverage I think is an idea worth engaging, from systemic change to community activitism to maybe seriously questioning how doing better business at certain levels might lead to less charity work being done later on, and to maybe change certain values the community traditionally holds. The good thing is that there's so much work to be done here that just about any step taken is bound to be an improvement. Until then, I hope we continue to meet people at the point at which their needs can be met, because that's the human thing to do.
 
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Go, Look: Another MW Kaluta Mini-Gallery

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The Sound You Hear Is Comics Professionals Leaning In Over Their Coffee And Saying "Appearance Fee?"

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Jim McLauchlin writes openly for Newsarama about conventions paying comics professionals appearance fees for attending shows, one of those things that hasn't been discussed a bunch because a) comics people don't have a lot of money so there are massive hang-ups about it, b) there are vast differences in strategy about this kind of thing across the board if you see it -- and I think you should -- as not just its own thing but as part of the inducements for getting people to attend one show over another in a crowded field. In other words, it's complicated, but I suspect there's no shutting the door on the conversation any time soon, and I'd be shocked if there weren't some raised eyebrows this morning in front of some computer screens.

I think it's a fair subject to broach because if certain cons are doing well there's every reason to ask why money can't be going into the hands of comics professionals in the way it seems in some cases to be going into the hands of co-founders or foundations, even as those shows also provide an independent opportunity for people to make money by exhibiting or charging for specific services or generally increasing their profile and doing PR work on behalf of their projects and/or themselves. You could actually say that's the oddest stepchild of that hideous Ed Kramer case, it becoming public knowledge that some of these people were making midwestern lawyer-salary money from their successful pop-culture show. Of course, not every show does well that way, and some aren't intended to.

It's also true that as money continues to get tighter in terms of the actual making of comics for all sorts of reasons, shows have become really important for a lot of people and seeking to maximize those opportunities seems like a natural thing that people would want to do. Not having the show be a stress-inducing risk would be a wonderful thing for a lot of creators, too, of the class that may not have to worry about survival but have the same kinds of money pressures that all people do. I also think that the rise of a self-publishing school via webcomics and the ideas that became part of the way we talked about comics a quarter-century ago with the creators rights movement has made a certain group of cartoonists across two generations skeptical of business constructs.

So I hope this kind of thing continues where we think in terms of what those attending a show get from the experience, and be openly curious about where the money goes if there's money in evidence. I also hope that leaves plenty of room for a variety of valuations, and not just the usual comics binary of "I made this much money"/"this person is a pal and thus worth maybe not making the required amount of money." Seeing something like a convention experience solely in terms of maximizing a bottom line across the board or setting that aside for one's friends means a very different comics culture than the one we have now, just as it would if all readers, publishers, publications, museums, schools and comics shops operated 100 percent that way. I don't think it's a necessary or even desirable step beyond becoming another option. But it's there, and an article talking openly about something creators were considered brave to float as a possibility just a few years ago seems to me a step from which there's no easy walk-back.
 
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Go, Look: Kevin Huizenga On Flickr

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Missed It: Diamond Digital Closes Tomorrow

I completely missed this artricle that Diamond Comics was closing down its storefront program. Good work by Graeme McMillan there. Brigid Alverson takes the entire program out in the yard and whacks it with a two by four until you almost feel bad for program. The only thing I think I might disagree with in the way Alverson presents her argument is that I think all models are worth trying if you can execute them well; I think there's very little written in stone in digital commerce except what gets written looking backwards. I think I might I also wonder if long-range there won't be some regret from Diamond and the shops they represent of failing to establish a program so potentially highly responsive to their interests. There's a lot of qualifications that would have to be made to construct that line of thinking, though, including some answer to the question of whether or not those entities are always the best steward for their own interests.

Still, as Alverson underlines with its own rapidly draining lifeblood, the sheer, staggering, user-unfriendly nature of that program which was reinforced at nearly every level of it being brought to market is worth noting as a negative example, I think. It was always hard to conceive who the hell would be using that program and why they'd prefer it to just about any other option. Its smartest decision seems to be this final one.
 
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Not Comics: Roman Muradov Post-It Art

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Comics Job Opens Up At CBR, Across Street From Vicious Dogs On Lankershim In North Hollywood

Here. And here.

Also, I think by the number of words I don't understand in that listing that CBR is operating on a slightly different plane than we are.
 
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Go, Read: A Long Blog Post About Marvel Trying To Make The Vision A Re-Booted Original Human Torch

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this kind of piece used to be the entirety of comics commentary on the Internet, and I'm not sure that wasn't a better time
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons And Shows

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By Tom Spurgeon

* STAPLE this weekend; that's an honorable member of the small press how old guard. Chip Zdarsky will be there.

* last year this weekend was ECCC, I think. I really do prefer a mostly concentrated convention calendar, but the trade-off is that four weeks from now, we are on it until mid-May.

* this reminder from Heroes that their hotel rate is now live I hope will force you to go through all of your convention plans for 2014 and see if youre meeting dealines on registration and the like and securing your hotel rooms and flights in a timely fashion. As for Heroes, that's the bar-con hotel, and of all the conventions I've been to not staying at that hotel is a firm vote to opt out of every last second of that particular part of the convention. I like the Hilton and it access to the YMCA, but if I were a younger professional, it'd be Westin all the way.

* Page 45 will use the platform of this year's Lakes festival to throw itself something of a 20th anniversary bash. I'm always surprised that more comics entities don't do this.

* finally, we're starting to hear about show debuts for TCAF. Show debuts is something that comics entities do very well in contrast to anniversaries and the like.
 
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If I Were Near Bryn Mawr, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: No Idea What This Is Or Where I Got It... I Sure Like Looking At It, Though

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the kind folks at Fantagraphics could use your Nancy-related help.

image* Matt Derman digs into Batman: Year One by contrasting and comparing it with the immediate follow-up Batman: Year Two. Paul O'Brien on Uncanny X-Men #17. Richard Bruton on Numbercruncher and a pair of mini-comics from Poland. Kelly Thompson on New Warriors #1. Alec Berry on Ms. Marvel #1.

* Sean Kleefeld notes how it can be really easy to make rash assumptions based on one's knowledge of and comfort with comics history.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco delves into one of those "list specials," this time about important fictional characters. If I'm reading him correctly, four comics characters made the list: Superman, Batman and Charlie Brown/Lucy Van Pelt as a couple.

* not comics: Henry Chamberlain endorses a crowd-funder for a movie about Bill Finger.

* I'm glad to see people testifying as to the contributions of Bhob Stewart. I've been talking to people about Bhob and one thing that keeps coming up is how familliar his range of interests and even array of things he did related to comics are familiar to right now, and how odd they might have been back in the '60s and '70s.

* David Brothers talks to Jay Potts.

* not comics: nice gig for Tom Neely doing album art for Green Day.

* finally, Robert Hunter writes about the potential of comics as civil rights effort bibles.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Jeff Smith!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Andy Kubert!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Barry Matthews!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Norm Breyfogle!

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February 26, 2014


Go, Look: Bill Watterson Stripped Documentary Film Art

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Go, Read: Bhob Stewart On Wally Wood

"Woody's Connecticut house was a friendly, rambling structure, comfortable and large, and it was nice to see him settled in such a place, so different from the tight Manhattan quarters. I was offered one cup of tea after another, and when I went upstairs to sleep, it kept me awake. In the middle of the night I wandered downstairs through the darkened house to find the bathroom, and saw him moving about in the unlit kitchen, the Wizard King himself, silhouetted against the window, keeping his nightly vigil."

That's a really nice paragraph. RIP.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Noah Van Sciver Doing A Cycle Of Diary Comix

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Distressing Mark Zuckerberg Cartoon Draws Criticism For Anti-Semitic Elements; Cartoonist Apologizes

imageKate Lyons at the Daily Mail has a very good write-up here on the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung running a cartoon of Mark Zuckerberg last week with two alarming elements: a caricature that included a giant nose for a person that doesn't have a giant nose but was raised Jewish, where a giant nose is ugly caricature shorthand, a concept that had Zuckerberg's Facebook take the form of an octopus, which is an historical depiction of Jewish control. The cartoonist Burkhard Mohr apologized and created a strange, facelss cartoon. Lyons smartly notes that the paper ran a distressing-in-the-same-way cartoon recently and that the octopus image does indeed have a wide application as a metaphor for business or political entities believed to be out of control or otherwise having their hands on various elements of society and culture.

The distressing thing with stories like this isn't the gotcha aspect but the team element of the publication of such things, that there wasn't one person in the course of events from the news story being portrayed to the publication of the cartoon sensitive to such broad issues of portrayal that might question the wisdom of a Jewish person being depicted as a big-nosed octopus in a German newspaper. That kind of systemic failure seems way more important and frightening than the kind of blurting of something dumb on twitter or in an interview that drives a lot of moral outrage these days.
 
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Go, Look: Rich Tommaso Pages For Sale

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Your 2013 Bram Stoker Awards Superior Achievement In A Graphic Novel Nominees

imageThe more than quarter-century old Bram Stoker awards given out by the Horror Writers Assocation have a graphic novel category. They honor individuals for "superior achievement" rather than works, which makes restoring co-authors to the listing slightly more problematic than is usual with writer-centric awards, but I'll list them after the following. Their nominees are:

* Ed Brubaker, for Fatale Book Three: West of Hell (Image Comics)
* Caitlin R. Kiernan, for Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)
* Brandon Seifert, for Witch Doctor, Volume Two: Mal Practice (Image Comics)
* Cameron Stewart, for Sin Titulo (Dark Horse Comics)
* Paul Tobin, for Colder (Dark Horse Comics)

Brubaker's co-author on the Fatale work was his longtime collaborator Sean Phillips. Caitlin R. Kiernan worked with the artist Steve Lieber. Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner are listed as co-authors on that volume of Witch Doctor. Stewart worked alone. Paul Tobin worked with Juan Ferreyra on the Colder book.

Winners will be announced in May at a banquet during a convention in Portland.
 
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Go, Look: Ink And Watercolor Drawings By John Buscema

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Portion Of Funds From Sale Of First Wolverine Comic Appearance Art Going To Hero Initiative

imageOne of the problems with covering the surge in high-end sales for original comics art is that in a lot of cases the market surge came after the original sale, so while you have a perfectly reasonably and just transfer of funds and item taking place, you can't help but being made a little sad about the way things work that the original makers didn't profit more. That never gets taken care of, and in most cases artists have a healthy, generous attitude about people profiting from re-sale, particularly as places like Heritage Auctions have done such a good job forging relationships with comics-makers themselves in terms of working with them to sell their own holdings in first class fashion. It's nice to see the occasional high-end piece go on sale with charity in mind, too, and the safety-net-for-comics-creators group Hero Initiative will be one that sees some money from an expected high-revenue sale on the first page of comics art to feature the Len Wein/Herb Trimpe (I believe the provenance usually includes Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr. as well) character Wolverine. I would love to see a donation to charity impulse as a recurring feature of all art sales on every level. Maybe that can happen.

That comic book came out 40 years ago.
 
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Go, Look: Comic Artist Evolution

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Festivals Extra: Comic-Con Early Bird Hotel Registration Opens

Comic-Con International has opened up registration for the "early bird" part of their tiered hotel registration system. They're making available hotels that aren't within walking distance to the show, for the most part, in packages that involve you go all in on the size and scope of a pretty consider comics show weekend. I've stayed at three of these hotels, and the weekend was fine in each case. It's only a quirk of comics culture that treats having to be 20 feet from the convention front door -- which is indeed wonderful -- as a necessity, the same way that people that go to a bar before it gets popular get fixated on one or two seat locations.

People sometimes write me to talk about their perception of Comic-Con even five years ago: a lot looser in terms of who signed up for what and where and how. One thing I always try to point out is that not only does the roar of demand -- which doesn't even have the outlet of simply increasing the size of the show these days, as they've committed to San Diego -- mean that they have to find different ways of doing things, most of the people I know including some I'm talking to abused some aspect of the old system in a way that makes it weird for us to ever complain now that things are more structured than they used to be. I used to get a bunch of different hotel rooms before the deposits got crazy, and give them to people that didn't get lucky or forgot to sign up. I used to register as both a pro and as a press person so that I could pick which line was shorter when I got to the hall. I'm probably uniquely scummy this way, but I know a ton of people that seem to be angry at shows in general because they're harder to manipulate to personal effect. As I try to remind them, back when we were pulling our shenanigans, there were a bunch of older people that wished things could be like they were ten years before that.

They also announced another round of guests for the San Diego show, which is worth going to stare at just for the hats that Ray Billingley and Michael Lark are sporting. I'm glad to see Rina Piccolo will be there, as she does very few shows.
 
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Go, Look: Jared D. Weiss

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Not Comics: Emily Gould's "How Much My Novel Cost Me"

I've had a couple of friends independently send me links to this Emily Gould essay at Medium about the financial realities of having a prose work that sold in the six figures at one point, and the general disconnect between economic success and success within a creative culture. I also imagine it's one of those essays that will not have a sympathetic audience among the bulk of comics fans, who tend to process everything like this as 1) opportunities they should have had, 2) opportunities they wouldn't have "blown," whatever that means to them. I liked it because it gave numbers and it talked about something that is this rare, great thing -- having a work of art that gives you a financial payday worth noting -- and how that may be more of a life-delaying than life-altering event. I like it because it risks an angry response.

The discussion in comics about such issues is rudimentary for a lot of reasons. For one thing, we tend to bluff our way through these issues in our own lives so as not to look like a victim or a failure. But I hope we starting having these talks soon, because I think a sober exchange of information will make so many lives better in the long run.
 
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OTBP: Hilda And The Black Hound

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The 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.

*****

DEC130960 SERGIO ARAGONES FUNNIES #12 $3.50
There's not a ton of material out to which I'm automatically attracted, but going to the comic book store is always fun and there are always things to look at there. I could buy just this comic book and have a very good weekend -- it may be the best comic book series of the last few years. A one-man anthology comic book featuring Sergio Aragones sounds like the kind of thing that we form from conjecture while spitballing potential attractive titles at 2 AM in San Diego, but this actually exists. Why anyone wouldn't want every issue of a lion-in-winter style snapshot of a major cartoonist's career is beyond me, but people barely talk about this series.

imageDEC131312 INSUFFICIENT DIRECTION GN $14.95
There's a high curiosity factor involved with this one, an autobiographical effort from Moyoco Anno that is basically a comics-style essay on what her married life with Hideaki Anno was like at the time of this writing. At least there's a high curiosity factor for me, given the relatively focused aspect of the subject matter and the fact that Anno is working in a different style than other manga I've seen from her.

DEC130248 SUPERMAN LOIS LANE #1 $4.99
DEC130347 WAKE #6 (MR) $2.99
DEC130591 SATELLITE SAM #6 (MR) $3.50
DEC130594 SEX #11 (MR) $2.99
DEC130605 WALKING DEAD #122 (MR) $2.99
DEC130616 FANTASTIC FOUR #1 ANMN $3.99
JUL130649 HAWKEYE #15 $2.99
These are the mainstream serial-type comic books that popped for me for various reasons looking at a long list, although this might be the kind of week where I took a long look at a bunch that didnd't, just to see what was out there, like the IDW "ongoing" titles on a couple of the properties with which they work. Here I'm favoring a bunch of old man comics. I've seen the Lois Lane; I don't know why folks would want to read a monsters-driven superhero story starring the intrepid girl reporter, and I don't have any connection to the New 52 version of the character at all, and I don't DC has ever figured out how to portray reporting in an interconnected superhero universe, but I thought that was a solid-enough mainstream comic book, and it seems like they're tossing pretty good artists at the Superman books recently. Satellite Sam I don't have a bead on even six issues in, but I'll keep reading the Fraction/Chaykin effort for as long as they want to do it. Fraction in particular seems to nail down his projects several comic-book issues in. Sex is the most 1980s indy comic book on the stands, even with Chaykin doing a book with ladies in garters. The Walking Dead I'm not all the way up on, but they're reaching one of those likely plot points soon and I think that title's been around long enough for there to be some basic interest in the shape of the overall plotline (who's alive; what they're doing). They're launching Fantastic Four again with James Robinson and Leonard Kirk this time out; Marvel's inability to find an approach that works with a groundswell of fans on that title has been interesting. Certainly enough concepts have been realized since the Millar/Hitch run that any creative team will have a lot of things to play with. Finally, Hawkeye endures.

NOV130277 UNKNOWN SOLDIER TP NEW ED (MR) $14.99
I have some comics-reading friends that are slowly working their way through the writer Garth Ennis' various collaborations over the last two decades, so it might be a boon for them that this late 1990s mini-series with Killian Plunkett is being collected again. I remember it as a pretty standard, grim updating of the character into a role that doesn't really involve theater-to-theater war of the fighting nazis variety.

SEP130783 CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER HC MOVIE CVR $34.99
One of the most interesting things to happen in mainstream comics would be for Marvel to change its general orientation towards book collection with an eye towards maximizing possiblities as opposed to floating a certain level of market share, which is what their program seems like right now. A grant first step would be to identify a single book rather than a dozen as the tie-in work with the forthcoming Captain America sequel movie. This could be it; we'll see what's to come. I generally like these comics: they're very sturdy 1970s "realistic" superheroes tweaked in a way that makes them more palatable for modern audiences.

DEC130792 THOR BY WALTER SIMONSON TP VOL 04 $29.99
This would be one of those Marvel book I'm talking about where I just don't even know how this stuff is collected and to what extent and how many times and which version I should buy. So I don't, and when I do I tend to go to the original comics because they're less baffling. I'm only one person, but I'm betting I'm not the only one and that at least a few sales are left on the table over time by this kind of perceived randomness. I like these comics, though, and if you're reading them this way I bet you're happy to see this book.

DEC130793 X-FORCE BY KYLE AND YOST COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 01 $34.99
There's a time in every pop culture fan's life when a Saturday Night Live cast member goes on to the movies and you realize you no longer watch the show and have no idea who they are exactly, but you're sure they have many fans.

imageDEC131199 CAPE HORN HC (MR) $39.95
DEC131198 LOVING DEAD HC (MR) $19.95
This would be a great week to look at the Humanoids of your store -- if you're lucky to have such a section in your store -- for its solid line of genre comics. This is a western and, well, a genre-mix about zombies, I'd assume. I'm more interested because there are few westerns with this kind of heft that aren't like the classic two or three coimcs westerns, and this is a displaced (South America) western to boot. I tend to really like those.

DEC130821 CHARLIE BROWN & FRIENDS TP $9.99
Andrews McMeel is still doing Peanuts-related collection aimed at someone other than longtime collectors. Just in case you were wondering. This is classic material, not the new stuff.

OCT131321 FIRST KINGDOM HC VOL 03 (MR) $24.99
I have all of these comics already but I know at least four people that bought earlier volumes here because they are bookshelf oriented now. I like how odd these comics are, and how they've become more odd over time, the way that certain 1970s science fiction and fantasy filmed media feels fifty years older than that despite the nudity or hints at same. Anyway: Jack Katz is a comics original and so was this series.

JAN141242 HENRY AND GLENN FOREVER AND EVER #4 (MR) $5.00
Tom Neely is a comics original, too, and this is the final issue of his anthology take on a parody comic aimed at general metal excesses and macho culture. I think this project has had a decade-long life span, initial mini-comic to now, which is pretty incredible. This is certainly the go-to book for alt-comics fans this week, I think, or at least it strikes me that 23-year-old me would hit first.

JAN141414 WILL EISNER DREAMER GN $16.95
JAN141417 WILL EISNER READER GN $16.95
JAN141415 WILL EISNERS CONTRACT WITH GOD TRILOGY HC NEW PTG $35.00
This is your bunch of comics that you probably already have but if you don't probably should think about having in some form. Will Eisner is a lengthy subject for discussion, and we're right at that point where there are certain people, mostly older, that assume he's an automatic giant in the history of all comics everywhere no arguments seriously shut up and sit down with whatever you were going to say and there are people that don't connect with what he was doing at all. That's just the nature of the discussion surrounding all figures in an art form, really. I think there's a lot of room to get back on board with this material if you haven't been in the past, a lot of entry ways as yet unexplored, so I'm glad it's remaining in print for people to find -- or not -- at their own pace.

JAN141377 ART OF NICK CARDY SC (MR) $19.95
Well, I like looking at Nick Cardy and I would if I were in a comic shop today. That's all.

OCT131028 RUSTY RILEY DAILIES HC VOL 01 1948 -1949 $49.95
OCT131027 LEONARD STARRS MARY PERKINS ON STAGE TP VOL 12 $24.95
Finally, it remains a really great thing that comics is structured in a way that work from features that weren't exactly format-defining hit can find their way to print and, one assumes, an audience. My mom was a big fan of On Stage, which ended in the late 1970s and thus this series is heading towards its conclusion. Both Leonard Starr and Frank Godwin were artists worth taking in for the illustrative attractiveness of their comics, although I almost find work like this more interesting for its one-time mainstream status that has faded so far from view the way the stories involved almost seem baroque and artsy. I would love to see a person to person breakdown of everyone that buys the Rusty Riley book, I really would.

*****

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 East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: huh?

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I am greatly enjoying reading sections of the late Bhob Stewart's Potrzebie blog, like this one on doing a Jules Feiffer parody for Paul Krassner's mighty Realist. That post made me track down some J.C..

image* I agree with J. Caleb Mozzocco that the image at left makes for a striking cover on Marvel's latest stab at a Nightcrawler comic book series. I like that character -- that is a lovely design by Dave Cockrum, for one thing, and it was necessary for those comics at that time to engage with superpowered people that looked odd -- and didn't know he was dead in Marvel continuity until I read about this series bringing him back to life.

* what do comic book writers do? I'm not sure there's ever one answer to that question, but it's always nice to hear the different perspectives worked out a bit in public.

* a number of people have told me they enjoyed the latest Boulet effort pulling at the boundaries of what a comic can do on-line, at least a bit.

* Mark Maynard talks to Scott Huffines and Sarah Boonstoppel. Some nice person talks to Chris Ware. Rachel Edidin talks to Evan Dorkin. Some folks from Ad Astra Comix talk to some folks from WW3 Illustrated. Mark Maynard talks to Pete Jordan. Tom Racine talks to Greg Johnson. Anthony Castle talks to Dale Maccanti. Brigid Alverson talks to Charles Forsman. Heidi MacDonald talks to Paul Gravett.

* I'm not exactly sure what this is in terms of its context or purpose, but it seems to be a bunch of rules and/or observations concerning/about the practice of journalism in comics form.

* I like the look of the commissioned art that the cartoonist Joseph Remnant has been doing lately.

* I just about completely lack the context to decribe this set of British strips any more effectively than they are described in their presentation, but I enjoyed looking at them. There are enough comics out there already published that I haven't seen yet to satisfy my comics reading impulses for every day over the next 30 years.

* Michel Fiffe found and posted a published Kyle Baker try-out scene -- with John Romita's notes in response -- for Marvel in the 1980s.

* all hail Roger Langridge. I enjoyed this drawing by Stacy Curtis, too. And these by Chris Wright.

* Batman can be used to explain anything.

* Shaenon Garrity on Bloom County. Sean Gaffney on My Little Monster Vol. 1. Bart Croonenborghs on Stumbling. Matthias Wivel on the best Danish comics of last year. Doug Zawisza on Daredevil: Road Warrior #1. Rachel Edidin on "Written In The Bones." Jon Morris on Love And Rockets. Rob McMonigal on Merrick The Elephant Man #1. Todd Klein on Swamp Thing #27.

* finally, Kim Thompson was the best.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Karen Berger!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Steve Bell!

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February 25, 2014


Bundled Extra: Rich Tommaso Could Use Some Help

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Bhob Stewart, RIP

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site; wikipedia entry
 
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Festivals Extra: Planned April Convention In South Bend, Indiana Shuts Down Over Embezzlement Claim

The local CBS affiliate in South Bend -- I believe that's one of those markets that has some networks but not all of them -- has a story up in prose and in video form about a local, modestly planned convention called River-Con that has been canceled after a confession mid-month of embezzlement of show funds. South Bend is one of those communities that would seem perfect for a small show -- it's a college town, it's close to other small cities with people used to driving an hour or two for their entertainment, and like a lot of areas dominated by small-town living there's an ingrained, broader fantasy fan culture of the kind I always suspect might have a bigger role in proportion to the general population than in bigger cities.

So apparently the embezzlement is being investigated and all funds -- including the crowd-funded monies raised -- are in the process of being returned. The show announced its cancellation on February 21.
 
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Go, Read: Chicago Reader Comics Issue

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Your 2014 Prix Diaganole Nominees

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The French-language comics news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com has a piece up on nominees for the Prix Diagonale, given in conjunction with la Foire du Livre de Bruxelles. Those nominees are:

Best Album
* Le Dahlia noir, Miles Hyman And Matz And David Fincher And Based On The Prose Of James Ellroy (Editions Casterman)
* Ma Révérence, Lupano And Rodguen (Editions Delcourt)
* Melvile, Romain Renard (Editions du Lombard)

Best Series
* Murena, Philippe Delaby And Jean Dufaux (Editions Dargaud)
* Zombillénium, Arthur de Pins (Editions Dupuis)
* Blacksad, Juanjo Guarnido And Dias Canales (Editions Dargaud)

The article talks about the government official Fadila Lanaan being on hand to announce the categories and puts it in the context of Belgium seeking to restore some honor to its place in the world of European comics in part through efforts like this but also by investing in educational programs for Belgian creators yet to come. I'm a little more interested in the awards as a subset of a book fair, but that's just me. I also like that European awards seems to stay pretty limited in scope.
 
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Go, Look: Massive Gipi Gallery Show Report

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Rob Salkowitz Conventions Thinkpiece: $600M In Yearly Ticket Sales

The latest of writer and consultant Rob Salkowitz's columns at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com offers up a $600 million figure for tickets sold to fan onventions and shows, based on industry research he's seen. That's a remarkable figure. Salkowitz notes the rise of regional shows and some of the overall pressure involved with running an executing several shows right now, citing various controversies that just sound like the natural outcome of there being more at stake now. He doesn't get too far this time into the implications of a potentially crowded calendar beyond those natural cracks in the firmament.

Another figure Salkowitz provides that jumps out at me is the 50K attendance number for the recent show in India; Salkowitz is right in that shows outside of North America are of growing importance to comics-makers in the US and Canada, for any number of reasons including just the desire of people to leverage their professional role within comics into travel.
 
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Go, Look: Alex G. Fafard

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Go, Look: Denver Comic Con Releases Preliminary 2013 Economic Information; Sides Re-Enter Mediation

It's here. Denver's show has increased in popularity the last couple of years. A co-founder, Charlie La Greca, who took a paid position with the show and then did not have that paid position continued and was then unable to come to a satisfactory new arrangement with the show, made an open complaint through a "Save Denver Comic Con" site implying that money was not being spent on the educational programs which is apparently the basis of the show's non-profit mission. This new chart follows assurances from the convention that this is not true. Like I said last week when the charges broke widely, this is one of those things where we'd eventually see if money was mis-spent badly -- because non-profits file reports -- but that broader charges of not doing enough or not doing things quickly or not doing things in some sort of intended spirit might never be resolved because there's no hard standard there. There's also the difficulty of reading a situation where increased success brings with it increased costs in addition to more revenue. You also get a strategic element, like the stuff where the con asserts that they are pursuing a strategy of investing in the long-range economic health of the show -- rather than, one supposes, furiously spending every dollar made on the educational mission aspect -- with the idea being you strengthen the show for the long haul and over that long-term better fulfill the mission than you could have by more aggressively spending on programs from the outset.

So, yeah. This is also one of those stories where people talk about how much they like the people on one side or another, which even if there is some sort of real dispute makes it sound like there's not. It's hard to track.

It's indicated here that the convention board and La Greca have entered back into mediation -- although I'm not sure what the mediation is for, really, although I guess it's presumed it's about La Greca's involvement with the show in some capacity. It could be limited to the charges floated. You can mediate just about anything. At any rate, for now I don't see even the barest sign that there's been gross negligence of the kind that would cast the entire future of the show into doubt, but that could always come out later. It takes time to establish programs, particularly if you're either creating your own structural framework for executing such things, but also when you're working with various existing groups and their own potentially conflicting or overlapping motivations. Still: it eventually comes out. If nothing else, cash reserves either become cash spent on something or cash continued to be held in reserve. No matter the personal outcome for everyone involved, that kind of scrutiny is now necessary with those charges having been made, and I hope the press continues to look in.
 
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Go, Look: Fred The Clown Archive

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Not Comics: Report On Newspaper Advertising And Circulation

The comics market is really only an ancillary market for the wider newspaper business, so you kind of have to squint your eyes a bit and purposefully keep them in mind as you look at figures and analysis as to the state of newspaper circulation and advertising. I think it's also useful to see newspaper less as an ailing market than as a disrupted one: if you were to give someone the money for a newspaper based on what a major market is yielding I think they could do so and what would result would look very different than the institutions that exist -- which aren't going from nothing to meet a need, but are shrinking from a time of yearly gains in revenues and dominance of the display advertising market to something far less so.

If you think of newspaper as being totally driven by where advertising is, and there are tons of resons you might, what that report seems to be saying is that there's a deep divide between digital and print-only readerships, the gains are digital, and the revenues seem to be pooling around limited-exposure models, like Sunday-only advertising. It doesn't take a genius to see that a lot of major markets may flirt with Sunday print, weekday-digital models all the way through, which for comics would be interesting because Sundays are literally half their market (they count as a sale the same way that placing six dailies counts as a sale) but dailies seem to have a bit more traction on digital. It's all guess work right now, but that might be where I'd take a paper if I had one.
 
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Happy 14th Anniversary, NeilAlien!

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Bundled Extra: Eastman And Laird Doing A Cover Together For Anniversary TMNT Publication

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I don't really have anything to add that Kevin Melrose doesn't cover in full at Robot 6, but I do like the image that IDW provided for their news that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are collaborating on a cover for a special issue commemorating the 30th anniversary of their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book.

I was too old for the television cartoon that followed but just the right age for a parody comic book that targeted the Frank Miller comic books I liked very much. I bought the first issue the day it came out and later sold it with some other comics to buy older-teenager me a car. There was some grit to the mix of what they were doing there that helped drive that project into other media, I think, as well as the splendid, pitch-perfect arbitrariness of the pop culture elements combined in the concept. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also led to Peter Laird's Xeric Foundation, which for years allowed a lot of art-comics kids to put out first work and for its first several years in particular provided a kind of secret boot camp in self-publishing. There was also Kevin Eastman's Tundra, which gave us at least one of the great alt-comic book series.

(I've long enjoyed Peter Laird's private, puttering-around-home blog, too.)
 
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Go, Look: Our Gang Comics #11

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By Request Extra: T-Shirt Fundraiser For Bill Mantlo's Care

All the explanation and information you will likely need to be found here. I like that they're up front about how much will likely be seen by those taking care of the comics writer. For direct donations, and a fuller explanation about the needs faced by the longtime Marvel writer and co-creator of Rocket Raccoon, go here.
 
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Go, Look: Stellar Leuna

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* great to hear that the Alternative Comics 2014 publishing year will include a reprint of Megan Kelso rarities called Unspoken. Her short stories are really good. That one is due in August. Here's the full press release. This is the "lazy list" provided. I have a hard time telling what is newly announced and what isn't, but here you go:
February:
* More Mundane, Noah Van Sciver
* Queen's Day, Leela Corman
* The Vagabonds #1, Josh Neufeld
* Subway Series, Leela Corman
March:
* Cat Suit, Steve Lafler
* Sugar Booger #2, Kevin Scalzo
* The Big Feminist BUT, edited by Joan Reilly & Shannon O'Leary
April:
* The Backwards Folding Mirror #1-3 (bi-monthly), Jesse Moynihan
* (Mostly) Wordless, Jed Alexander
* Sunbeam on the Astronaut, Steven Cerio
Spring, 2014:
* Girlhero #1-6 (bi-monthly), Megan Kelso
June:
* Magic Whistle #14, Sam Henderson
* Ritual Three: Vile Decay, Malachi Ward
July:
* Sugar Booger #3, Kevin Scalzo
August:
* Unspoken, Megan Kelso
That is an extremely ambitious schedule, but there's a lot to look forward to. Tons of information in the previous link.

image* Becky Cloonan is collecting her recent self-published work into trade form, and is accepting pre-orders now. The books I've read of Cloonan's I've enjoyed, and I'm all for every cartoonist having work of their own out there with which to represent at public appearances no matter if another project is the main thrust of why they're there.

* any look at the next Richard Sala is a good thing.

* here's more of straight-up promotional piece than I'm used to seeing from Print, in support of Craig Yoe's reprint lines featuring horror comics from the pre-Code era -- at least I think that's what is going on there. There's some fun imagery in there.

* imagery from forthcoming Blaise Larmee.

* Sarah McIntyre writes about some of the character design she's done -- or that's fallen into her lap -- for the forthcoming collaborative work Cakes In Space.

* the Chris Duffy-edited Above The Dreamless Dead had its cover reveal over at USA Today.

* s! #16 previewed.

* the writer Dan Abnett will return to the conception of Guardians Of The Galaxy he midwifed for Marvel and that will be their summer movie stars this year. I thought that was a smart use of talent at the time, to send Abnett and a few others into their space characters and have them do these stand-alone stories with that whole section of the character library. Then again, I've thought Marvel's best moves over the last 10 years have involved using talent on their character library even knowing that the resulting books won't likely be big hits. If they are going to be character and concept libraries, I would suppose that judging them for the work they do in that fashion is totally on the table.

* one of the things Marvel does as part of their publishing strategy I don't like -- although I get it -- is the use of variant covers to drive sales to individual titles and forced relaunches. Here are the ones for the Daredevil relaunch. I'm not sure where to place the blame on the fact that titles seems to do well as they stop and start, but I think it makes for a more difficult casual reading relationship for a lot of interested readers, and I think over time it leaves sales on the stands. I always used to hear this and never got it, and then Marvel rebooted about two years ago and I couldn't understand what the hell was going on enough to buy a couple of series like I had planned to see what that experience was like. I figured out that I had been cheating -- using art teams and writers and their assignments to track titles where I didn't understand the title itself, but with more-than-monthly production on series making for multiple art teams on most titles, I didn't have that going for me.

* that is a nice-looking cover for the new Eltingville material Evan Dorkin has been doing. I quite like the Eltingville stuff, I think it's a kind of humor that doesn't get done a lot in comics anymore, and it's very verbal with the art becoming this almost tone-setting element, kind of like early talkies. Evan's eyes will probably roll that I just said that. Sorry, Evan. But I like those comics, and that's one to look forward to.

* Jim Woodring presents a collection cover. None of the great cartoonists have enjoyed a last half-decade any more significant than Woodring's, and twenty years ago I did not think he would be doing comics at all at this point, let alone the best work of his long and distinguished and singular career.

* finally, this interview lets us know about new Mat Brinkman coming out in an Italian comics anthology. I'm there.

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

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

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: A Usagi Yojimbo Tribute Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I don't know if this is still going on, but it's hard for me to imagine better money spent than on a follow-up to Uncivilized's very good Gabrielle Bell collection from a while back with the added inducement of a print.

image* Joe Gordon on Couch Tag. A bunch of folks from Page 45 on a bunch of differen comics. Joshuaon on Beautiful Darkness. Rob McMonigal on Alex + Ada. Andrew Wheeler on She-Hulk #1. Sean Gaffney on The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan Vol. 5. Michael Buntag on Wolverine #1 and She-Hulk #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on A+X #17. Greg Carpenter on March. John Hilgart on The Secret History Of Marvel Comics.

* Frank is swole.

* I suppose the takeaway from this should be that a life where reality and fantasy gets blended into a comic strip is wacky and eventful but all I get from it is an anecdote about predatory real estate agents.

* Rob Bricken talks to Nicholas Brendon. Frannie Jackson talks to Colleen Coover. Chris Arrant talks to Dan Brereton. Some nice person with Comic-Con talks to Kelly Sue DeConnick. Matt O'Keefe talks to Brandon Seifert. Zainab Akhtar profiles Lauren Monger.

* I liked Chris Schweizer's Space Usagi art donation to the Sakais art auction. Like his Richard Thompson piece, it goes a slightly different direction than most of the artists have gone. I really like how many folks are doing this art, and I hope that everyone looks into their wallets to buy one of them at auction and raise as much money as possible. Hey, here's another piece from my bookmarks.

* we've all been reading and keeping up with the La Mano history, right?

* one of the great things about these Ryan Holmberg articles at TCJ is they defy easy link-labeling.

image* process gif.

* not comics: for some reason I have this article about the dark side of Shirley Temple in my bookmarks. I have no idea why I have it, but it's an interesting enough article if you're not familiar with a) the way she was employed in this kind of humorous film shorts series where kids play adults (which is a brand of humor mostly out of bounds at this point), b) how she was sexually fetihized since -- and in fact, that's probably why I picked up on it, because she was use in a sex-romp issue of American Flagg! that way. I'm not sure that I agree with the way that article was constructed -- I think it's all text with Temple, not really subtext in the way it has to be unearthed, and I actually think how she appeals to other little kids in a crush-inducing fashion is more interesting than any adult fetishization of those feelings later on -- but those are interesting issues to engage, both for themselves and for the way an entire set of things to discuss can have the context changed out from underneath them in a quarter-century.

* not comics: another piece of not-exactly-comics writing I have is a piece on the much-publicized Amtrak program to give writers a free ride so they can write on board. I've been writing on trains for years and years -- it's my preferred way to travel if it's a short hop. I'm not sure if comics authors can apply to this, but I hope that we have more program like this in the future and that comics may benefit.

* not comics: and here's a third, a piece of writing from a few months back that found a second life with my Facebook friends, about the conversations we don't have about the role that privilege plays in being able to create. I think I would have a completely different set of emphases here, in that I think it helps to have these discussions so people don't make harmful decisions about what's waiting for them, and I'm less interested in the accounting of accomplishment than I am in promoting a fair and responsible industry that works in a way that privilege isn't necessary as an prerequisite for a life in the arts.

* finally, Gary Reed talks a bit more about Caliber, and disagree with the emphasis of something I wrote.
 
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Happy 68th Birthday, Rick Geary!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Tom Neely!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Arnold Roth!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Tim Kreider!

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February 24, 2014


Job Alert: Operations Manager Gig Opens Up At CCS

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Parade Extra: While We're Talking Stan Sakai, Here's A Video Of His Presentation At MSU Last Week


from here
 
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By Request Special: CAPS Announces March 6 For Starting Date For Art Auctions To Benefit The Sakais

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Go, Look: IWAH Art By Farel Dalrymple

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Bundled Extra: Two Key Mini-Comics Developments -- Oily Bundles, Tiny Report Launches

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* Oily Comics, which has previously announced it would be stepping away from its micro-mini subscription set-up, has announced its first bundled package offering for Spring 2014. This would seem to keep the "getting a pile of material in the mail" aspect of the previous Oily strategy while allowing for the curation of several things outside the previous format as part of the main package itself, and perhaps give Charles Forsman a more directed, controlled way to finance the whole endeavor. This also means a test of sort for Oily as a company defined by aesthetics, or at least a variety of approaches, as opposed to that very specific idea for distributing comics.

* Robyn Chapman has launched the ambitious site-with-distro-elements The Tiny Report, which should at the very least gather into one place information on all types of micro-press offering that involve comics.I wish I could write one of those super-blabby stories on this because I know for some folks that a long story means a more important story, but it seesm fairly self-evident that everyone with an interest in comics with even a single step back from furious commercialization on every level will want to bookmark that site and see where Chapman takes it.

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Go, Look: The Story Of Caleb Scott

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Go, Read: Artist Jillian Tamaki's Chairperson's Address In The Society Of Illustrators' Annual

Presented and explained here. Tamaki is of course a thrilling maker of comics in addition to a talented illustrator and that kind of natural, individual-directed versatility is part of her point on the positive qualities of the way things exist right now for image-makers of all sorts. One thing I like about the address is that it doesn't tie any of those positives aspects to a specific financial outcome in a "you want this, you have to accept this" manner. I think it's okay to want the maximum amount of artistic expression and the best result for all factor in support of that art. If that's not part of the excitement, it seems to me the natural, most desirable response.

 
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Go, Look: A John Dixon Gallery

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SPX Announces Winners Of Their 2014 Exhibitor Registration Lottery

imageThe Small Press Expo announced its list of winning exhibitors for the 2014 iteration of its long-running indy-comics and small press event. SPX has grown in size and calendar important over the last 10 years but not enough to encompass every single person that wishes to exhibit. This is a problem because the Expo is devoted to something other than full curation as part of its foundational identity. Last year the crush of people trying to apply caused a major meltdown of the computer process involved to do so and left a ton of people frustrated. SPX apologized a great deal, took as much extra room as it could in the wider-DC-area hotel facility that has hosted the show for several years now, and looked to this year as a corrective. Their solution was to 'fess up to the grandfathered aspects of certain key exhibitors not being at risk of losing a space (in other words, there's not a scenario under which key guests or major publishers in that world would be left out) and to make the rest of it a lottery process. Another interesting element to this is that even if some crative plan to open up for more exhibitor tables had been engaged, there were some doubts on the floor of the 2013 Expo that the size of the slightly larger show that year hadn't outpaced its current audience size a bit. The thing that fascinates here is the core sturdiness of these shows, the desire to exhibit, but also the delicate nature of executing a show like this one to 100 percent effectiveness. Kudos to the Expo for doing it so well in recent years, and one hopes this new process has worked out so far on their behalf.

I always have fun reading the expressions of joy or dismay.

I'm sure there will be a lot of creative negotiation out there for attendees and host tables and publishers and so on, some of which is likely allowed and some of which may not be. I would imagine as long as people stay on this side of flipping over to bitterness and entitlement, everything will be okay. Me, I just sort of walk around.

This year's SPX is September 14-15.
 
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Go, Look: Kjersti Faret

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Go, Read: Kevin Melrose Contextualizes SC Fun Home Story

The superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose has his usually outstanding summary post here on last week's revelation that there was a move on the state legislative committee level to withhold funds from two of the state's schools because of their choices of material designated by the withholders as gay culture influenced. One of those books is Alison Bechdel's memoir Fun Home which was used as an incoming-freshman-group-read type book by the College of Charleston. Melrose notes that the funds can be restored at the full legislative level. I have such withering contempt for the foundational idiocy of that entire process -- defining works, declaring them unsuitable for school use, punishing schools that disagree -- that 1) it's hard for me to articulate my contempt for elements of the story for fear of accidentally legitimizing any intermediate step, 2) it's hard for me to endorse any positive outcome for fear of removing some of those responsible from the full brunt of criticism they deserve.

In general, it's difficult for me to imagine anything more loathesome and useless than this, and I hope any corrective is applied to the full, scouring extent of those nauseous feelings.
 
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Go, Look: Mike Grell 1970s Comic Book Cover Gallery

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs' Walk Through The Bookscan Numbers

Here. This is required reading by anyone with a vague interest in the general sweep and flow of comics through the bookstore market. I am constantly and consistently told that for the top publishers these numbers are almost always excellent, and that for the smaller publishers that they should be taken with a grain of salt because they are more likely to fall into the blindspots of the information-gathering process. But you definitely get a picture of things, if only at 1978 Philco quality as opposed to what you might get a 50-inch HD bought on Christmas, 2013.

The things that jumped out at me on a first pass were the yearly confirmation of bookstore comics-making stars like Lincoln Peirce and Raina Telgemeier (and Sonic The Hedgehog), the continued decline although not in rapid or accelerating fashion of translated manga, the beyond solid hit-status of March, and the performance year-to-year of certain perennials. I'm also relieved that the combative nature of past reports and their comparison math battles seem to be a thing of the past. I've not been right on every emerging comics industry issue, but I still feel pretty confident that all the paying markets for comics are in their own way desirable and necessary. I'll never trust market-segment-triumphantalists, by genre or by distribution system.

Anyway, you should avail yourselves if you have 10 minutes and this kind of thing interests you in any way, shape or form. It's a valuable service.
 
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Go, Look: Mystery Men Comics #3

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Disney Vs. Stan Lee Media Heads Into Final Battle Stage, Or Maybe Not: Who The Hell Knows With Them?

I fairly missed out on this Hollywood Reporter story that indicates Disney will use its latest battle with Stan Lee Media over rights to the various key Marvel properties -- this one generated by a license SLM granted for Spider-Man musical excerpts to a Pennsylvania show business endeavor -- to push for an eradication of any grounds on which further suits could be filed. I think it's a good story, explaining that there's a disagreement on the nature of the dismissal upn which subsequent dismissals are based, and showing that Disney will argue that SLM is 1) essentially opportunistic in its challenges over the course of its existence and the systematic assertion of those rights by Disney and previous ownership, 2) not even the kind of company that can do anything other than basically sweep some floors and tidy some papers.

As I've pointed out in the past, SLM's "case" does seem to make 2-AM-in-the-dorms-talking sense: which I understand to be that in working out their settlement with Stan Lee Marvel acknowledged rights Lee had in many of Marvel's lucrative characters he had earlier blanket-assigned to SLM when coming on board there. That doesn't mean this construction has any legal standing whatsoever (it sure hasn't so far), that doesn't mean there's any moral force behind the standing asserted by SLM (this was not language intended to have this result), and there's no reason for a company like that to stop suing and doing shit like this while it can find funding to do so and as long as we're taking a set of entertainment properties whose "what I did this year" Christmas card can legitimately use the world "billion," that might be a while. Like a country preacher that moves from armageddon scenario to the next, SLM has to find a sympathetic ear just once to cause some trouble. Conversely, desite the article inches wasted on it, this kind of expenditure and legal challenges is sort of like paying the office light bill for a company like Disney: part of the cost of doing business.
 
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Go, Look: Gene Day Aardvark-Vanaheim Star Wars Portfolio

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* hey, let's look in on Meredith Gran's Patreon campaign. That seems to be progressing pretty well -- it seems guaranteed to hit that first goal, if it hasn't already (I'm writing this about 36 hours in the past) and whether or not it hits additional ones will likely have something to do with how these campaigns progress.

* here's an interview in support of a crowd-funder for Alisa Harris and her Counter-Attack!.

* Rob Clough could use some more help, if you missed out on helping Rob Clough the first time around. He does good work, that Rob Clough.

* it's not comics, but the artist Juanjo Guarnido has certainly made some popular works in that form; this is an animation project for which he'd like you to consider support. Here's another not-comics-but-related projects seeking funding: a film on the writer Bill Finger, who was screwed out of Batman-related money and credit by the virtue of the contracts of the time and the culture that's developed since to support those contracts.

* the fine podcaster and talker about comics Kumar Sivasubramanian has a crowd-funder going that looks like it is well on its way. I hope if a freelance check comes in I can climb aboard.

* the Yeah Dude Subscription drive is heading into its last days; artists include Box Brown, Ian Harker, Josh Bayer, Laura Knetzger, Conor Stechschulte, Keenan Keller, Victor Kerlow and Erina Davidson. It's edited by Pat Aulisio. Sounds good to me.

* finally, Mike Lynch is asking for you to consider paying him a few bucks; I hope to contribute something as soon as I'm able. His is a foundational comics blog.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: A Bit More Adi Granov Black And White Work

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* consider this your semi-occasional reminder that Eisner Hall Of Fame voting is going on. We don't have a lot to give to worthy practitioners of the comics form, but one thing we can give them is serious consideration of who goes into any hall of fame to which we're allowed to contribute.

image* always fun to see Todd Klein post component lettering for noted superhero comics covers.

* the Niki Smith list of literary agents who represent graphic novels has recently been updated.

* the best post I read last week that I somehow failed to get a link to from this site is this Dominic Umile piece on recent writing about comics censorship.

* here's the cartoonist Dave Sim on recent comics controversies. I imagine there are a decent number of folks that would like to hear what Sim has to say about some of those things. I would usually be among them, but this time I couldn't get past the introductory paragraphs. Also something about the whole thing where we have to know that these articles were printed off the Internet and presented to him just struck me as insanely goofy this time around.

* Henry Chamberlain on various Robocop Vs. Terminator comics. Malachy Coney on The Boy With The Porcelain Blade.

* Noah Berlatsky draws a sharp contrast between how Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County approach childhood. I like the details of that observation much more than I like where he takes his conclusions, but your mileage may vary.

* not comics: this by-now-long-ago review of an episode of True Detectives gets into some of the possible comics influences.

* Adam B. Vary profiles Hayao Miyazaki. The Tell Me Something I Don't Know crew talks to Bill Boichel. Someone at Live Wire talks to Peter Bagge.

* Sean Kleefeld writes about the overall comics fans working back from some numbers. I'm terrible at casual math, and I'm worse at Internet-argument math, but I think the idea that we're talking a comics-buying public in the six figures rather than the sevens or eights is an idea worth considering.

* finally, this Jim Coin interview with Harvey Pekar was likely one of his last, if not the absolute last.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Bryan Talbot!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Jim Borgman!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Greg LaRocque!

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February 23, 2014


Please Go Read An Interview By Bill Baker

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I was very sad to read about the passing last Thursday of one of my peers, the writer Bill Baker. Baker was not someone I knew very well, but he was prolific, he consistently found places to write that allowed him to present deep cuts into the material he liked for a wider and mostly mainstream audience, and he was awfully, awfully solicitous and kind in personal interactions. I thought instead of posting the short piece I had ready to go I'd direct you to a list of the interview Baker has done. He was a different interviewer than I am, with different interests, but they were genuine and that sense of passionate interest in comics came through when he worked in that art form.

I don't know why people cover comics, by which I mean in this case I don't know why Bill did. I assume that all the standard reasons anyone write about anything apply. I got the sense that he was infatuated with the visual side of comics, and the illustrative tradition that might have as loose a hand on things right now that at any time in the medium's history. I noticed a month ago when preparing a link that that Bill interviewed a lot of people in the midst of kickstarters, or following projects that might be said to have a focused argument, which makes me think he was curious about why artists pursue the projects they pursue, a great mystery to me as well. I regret not getting a chance to ask him.

image* Bo Hampton
* Brendan Burford
* Brian Azzarello

* Cliff Galbraith

* David Quinn
* David Sandoval
* Don McGregor

* Elaine Lee And Michael Wm Kaluta 01
* Elaine Lee And Michael Wm Kaluta 02
* Eric R. Gignac

* Fred Van Lente

* Gabrielle Bell
* Gary Scott Beatty
* Guy Davis

* Jackie Estrada
* J. David Spurlock
* Jeff Smith
* Jeph Loeb
* JG Jones 01
* JG Jones 02
* Jimmy Palmiotti
* Joel Meadows
* JR Han

* Kurt Busiek

* Manuel Auad
* Mark Dudley
* Mark Wheatley 01
* Mark Wheatley 02
* Mark Wheatley 03
* Mark Wheatley 04
* Mark Wheatley 05
* Moro Rogers

* Nimue Brown

* Pat Wilshire

* Richard Corben
* Rick Geary
* Robert Sodaro

* Shane-Michael Vidaurri
* Steve Lieber

* Tom Brown
* Tom Kaczynski 01
* Tom Kaczynski 02
* Tommy Castillo
* Travis Hanson

* Victor Santos

* Warren Ellis

My condolences to friends and family. Bill Baker was 55 years old. He died of complications from pneumonia.

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Go, Look: Life Is A Party

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Go, Look: Kevin Wada Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: Another Leinil Francis Yu Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: There Will Be Time

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Go, Look: Red Tape

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

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If I Were In Northwest Indiana, I'd Go To This

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Happy 45th Birthday, Rick Bradford!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Craig Yoe!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Tim O'Shea!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Shawn Cheng!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Doug Moench!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Tom Peyer!

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FFF Results Post #368 -- Snow Day Comics

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five 'Snow Day' Comics, By Which I Mean Favorite Comics You Might Re-Read During A Lengthy And Unplanned Afternoon On The Couch." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Usagi Yojimbo
2. Prince Valiant
3. High Society
4. Jack Kirby-Era Fantastic Four
5. Roy Thomas-written Avengers comics

*****

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John Vest

1. Barry Windsor-Smith Conan stories
2. Tom Sutton's Squalor
3. Jack Katz's First Kingdom
4. Roy Thomas and Gil Kane's adaptation of Wagner's Ring
5. Lynd Ward woodcut novels

*****

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Steve Murphy

1. Warren or Kitchen Sink editions of The Spirit
2. Any DC Showcase Presents horror comics collection (like The House of Mystery, Weird War Tales, etc.)
3. Essential Captain America 2 (or 3, or 4)
4. MAD paperbacks
5. Corto Maltese

*****

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James Vance

1. Segar's Popeye "Plunder Island" sequence
2. Transmetropolitan
3. Jaxon's Comanche Moon
4. V for Vendetta
5. Lone Wolf and Cub

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Nexus
2. American Flagg!
3. Micronauts vol. 1
4. Crisis On Infinite Earths (Absolute Edition)
5. O'Neil/Adams-era Green Lantern

*****

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John Platt

1. Dork and related comics by Evan Dorkin (to prepare for the upcoming Eltingville series)
2. Habibi by Craig Thompson (which I've been saving for just such an occasion)
3. Those Annoying Post Bros. and related series by Matt Howarth (which I read way out of order as I tracked down back issues over the years and now need to finally read from beginning to end)
4. Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben and accomplices (I'm due for a re-read)
5. The most recent 18 issues of Dark Horse Presents (which I have stupidly let stack up until they became a foot-tall pile of intimidation)

*****

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David Brothers

1. Jim Lee-era X-Men
2. Cromartie High School
3. Vimanarama
4. Death of Superman
5. Dr Slump

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight
2. Earnie Pook's Comeek: The Freddie Stories
3. Underworld by Kaz
4. Levitz/Giffen-Era Legion of Super-Heroes
5. The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes, vol. 1: Batman

*****

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Ryan Sands

1. Dungeon (Early Years / Zenith / Parade / Twilight / Monsters)
2. Nancy is Happy / Nancy Loves Christmas
3. Bone
4. The 1997-2001 complete run of PULP magazine
5. Phoenix

*****

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Mike Palumbo

1. New X-Men (Grant Morrison)
2. Wildcats/Wildcats 3.0 (Scott Lobdell/Joe Casey)
3. All-Star Superman
4. The Spirit (Will Eisner)
5. The Sandman (Neil Gaiman)

*****

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Gene Hall

1. Airtight Garage - Moebius
2. Undergrounds - Various titles
3. THB - Paul Pope
4. Soul Puddin'/Super Sonic Soul Puddin'- Mike Macropoulos
5. Ed The Happy Clown - Chester Brown

*****

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Tim Hayes

1. Steve Englehart-era Avengers
2. Kane (Paul Grist)
3. Giffen/DeMatteis-era JLA
4. Alice In Sunderland (Bryan Talbot)
5. Hewligan's Haircut (Milligan/Hewlett)

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Evil Eye
2. King-Cat comics and stories
3. Kirby-Era The Losers
4. Little Lulu
5. Arcade

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. The Spider-Man Clone Saga
2. Showcase: Superman collections
3. Grant Morrison's JLA
4. Garth Ennis' Punisher
5. All the 2000ADs in the box under my bed.

*****

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Gabe Fowler

1. Hate (original 1-30 run)
2. old Pogo paperbacks
3. any random Complete Crumb volume
4. The last 3 Raw magazines (the small Pantheon ones)
5. The Mad World of William M. Gaines, which is not a comic, but is comic related, and I have re-read it more than any single comic

*****

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David Robertson

* Keith Giffen / J.M. Dematteis Justice League
* Archie Goodwin / Carmine Infantino Star Wars
* Stan Lee / Steve Ditko Spider-Man
* Bill Mantlo / Sal Buscema Hulk
* Jim Starlin Warlock

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Cerebus
2. Empowered
3. The War That Time Forgot DC Showcase
4. Grant Morrison-era Doom Patrol
5. Amphigorey / Amphigorey Too / Amphigorey Also / Amphigorey Again

*****

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Richard Bruton

* Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
* Warren Ellis and John Cassaday - Planetary
* Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore
* The Alan Moore / Alan Davis Captain Britain
* Kyle Baker - Cowboy Wally / Why I Hate Saturn

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Pogo
2. Jack Kirby's Fourth World
3. A big ol' stack of MAD from when Gaines was still publisher
4. Late Silver Age Flash
5. Steve Gerber's Howard the Duck

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman by David Boswell
2. Flaming Carrot by Bob Burden
3. Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown
4. The Collective Unconscience of Odd Bodkins by Dan O'Neill
5. Zap Comix by Robert Crumb & Friends

*****

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Zainab Akhtar

1) Tintin (any)
2) Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows
3) Lucifer by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
4) Mazeworld by Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson
5) Batman Adventure by various

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Amazing Spider-Man by Lee/Ditko/Romita
2. Don Rosa's Uncle Scrooge
3. Marvel's Planet Of The Apes Magazines from the 1970s
4. Garth Ennis' Punisher Max
5. Legion Of Superheroes by Bates/Cockrum, Shooter/Grell, Levitz/Giffen

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Shade the Changing Man
2. Sandman Mystery Theater
3. Power Girl by Gray, Palmiotti, & Conner
4. Berlin
5. Daredevil by Bendis & Maleev

*****

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Tom O'Hagan

1. Batman: Year One
2. Jack Kirby's Fourth World
3. Sandman
4. Calvin and Hobbes
5. Tomb of Dracula

*****

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M. Emery

1. Modesty Blaise
2. A pile of Commando, War Picture Library, Battle Picture Library etc
3. Usagi Yojimbo
4. Black Jack
5. Carl Bark's Duck comics

*****

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Dan Morris

1. The various volumes of the Judge Dredd Case Files series I own.
2. Domu; A Child's Dream
3. The Adventures of Tintin
4. Hicksville
5. 70s era Jack Kirby Captain America comics

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Daredevil / David Mack + Alex Maleev
2. 100 Bullets / Eduardo Risso
3. Marshal Law / Kevin O'Neill
4. Casanova / Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon
5. Blab! / Monte Beauchamp

*****

thanks to those that sent in art; only a couple of you were completely useless, so I was pleasantly surprised

*****
*****
 
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FFF Results Special -- Snow Comics

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Or Parts Of Comics You Like With Snow In Them." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Tintin In Tibet
2. Whenever Dan Wright Would Draw Snow In Wildwood
3. Whenever James Kochalka Would Draw Snow In His Diary Comics
4. Winsor McCay Draws Jack Frost
5. Calvin's snowmen

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Snoopy and the killer icicle
2. Tales of the Teen Titans #42
3. Batman '66 #28
4. Amazing Spider-Man #166
5. Zonker bringing springtime briefly to snowbound Walden Pond

*****

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Tim Hayes

1. Alex Raymond draws The Ice Kingdom of Mongo
2. George Tuska draws Luke Cage making out in the snow
3. John Buscema draws Ymir
4. John Romita draws The Schemer in his car under a snowdrift
5. Justice League Antarctica

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Spider-Man vs. Blackie Drago & Influenza (Amazing Spider-Man 48-49)
2. Tulip hits Jesse with an anti-self-pity snowball (Preacher)
3. Spider Jerusalem Leaves The Children A Present (Transmetropolitan)
4. Lieber/Rucka's Whiteout
5. Spider-Man versus Adrian Toomes & The Catholic Guilt Of Aunt May Parker (Peter Parker: Spider-Man)

(There's also a really lovely prose short in the mid-90s Ultimate Spider-Man anthology where Spidey exploits the strength and brief life-span of his webbing to create an overnight ice shelter for a homeless man. Author Greg Cox.)

*****

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Richard Bruton

* Summit of the Gods - By Yumemakura Baku and Jirô Taniguchi - the best mountain climbing comic there has ever been. Which, I realise isn't exactly a big field, but seriously, this is one of the most thrilling comics I've EVER read.
* Tintin In Tibet by Herge
* Bone by Jeff Smith
* Because I didn't realise in my youth that it was John Byrne pulling a fast one and instead thought it damn clever... Alpha Flight # 6, 1984, the Snowblind issue. Actually, thinking about it, seeing as he got paid in full for pencilling and inking the whole issue when at least 5 pages were completely white it IS damn clever.
* Peanuts by Schulz

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Summit of the Gods
2. Justice Leagure of America #110
3. Any/all snowball fights in the Peanuts-verse
4. The Punk Hazard storyline from One Piece
5. Calvin & Hobbes snowmen (semi-obligatory response)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. J. H. Williams III, Dan Curtis Johnson, Seth Fisher "Batman: Snow"
2. Enki Bilal "Partie de Chasse"
3. Howard Chaykin "The Blizzard Of '32" (American Flagg #7)
4. Simon Schwartz "Packeis"
5. Brett Lewis, John Paul Leon "The Winter Men"

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. Donald Duck in Luck of the North by Carl Barks
2. Far Arden and Crater XV by Kevin Cannon
3. George Sprott by Seth
4. Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant
5. Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. Uncanny X-Men #25 by Chris Claremont & Barry Windsor-Smith
2. Calvin & Hobbes, "The Torment of Existence Weighed Against thre Horror of Nonbeing" by Bill Watterson
3. What If? #34 (1982), "The Silver Surfer, White Tiger, Night Rider, Iceman and Moon Knight teamed up during a snowstorm to battle Wendigo" by TTom DeFalco
4. Blankets by Craig Thompson
5. Whiteout by Greg Rucka & Steve Lieber

*****

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Zainab Akhtar

* Batman: Snow by J. H. Williams, Dan Curtis Johnson and Seth Fisher
* Black Blizzard by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
* Blacksad Arctic Nation by Juanjo Guranido and Juan Diaz Canales
* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book 4 (Penguin coloured editions) by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and Steve Lavigne
* Tintin in Tibet by Herge
* Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (various strips, but can't mention snow in comics and leave Calvin and Hobbes off the list)

*****

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John Vest

1. Doctor Strange and Clea at Times Square on snowy New Years Eve, in Doctor Strange #180 illustrated by Gene Colan
2. R Crumb's Frosty The Snowman in Arcade #4
3. Harvey Pekar and R Crumb in the snow on the cover of Comics Journal #97
4. Waldo and Santa's snowy adventure in Kim Deitch's "Blue But True," from Laugh In the Dark #1
5. Peanuts wintertime strips set in the snow

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Donald Duck in A Christmas For Shack Town
2. Stan Lynde's Hipshot Percussion on Christmas
3. Flash Gordon in Frigia
4. Any Superman story involving that great big key and the Fortress of Solitutde
5. Serenity in Snow Biz (full disclosure: This is one I published)

*****
*****
 
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February 22, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


KAL Discusses His Lengthy Career With The Economist


Rina Piccolo's My Root Canal
via


Audio Of Caitlin McGurk Interviewing Kim Deitch At CAKE 2013


Audio From Panel Featuring Heather Benjamin, Julia Gfrorer And Phoebe Gloeckner Talking To Caroline Paquita, From CAKE 2013


Audio Of Jake Austen Interviewing Chris Ware At CAKE 2013


Dean Haspiel On Fear, My Dear


Teaser Preview For Matthew Southworth's Aurora


Dan Day Interviewed


Super Ugly And Openly Anti-Semitic Propaganda Piece Using The Creation Of Superman To Build A Theory Of Jewish Control Over Popular Culture
 
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Bill Baker, RIP

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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from February 15 to February 21, 2014:

1. Djamel Ghanem faces time in jail for unpublished cartoon about the Algerian president, in yet another example of active politicians being able to crush free speech by administrative, legal or civil methods.

2. A move in the South Carolina legislature to withhold money from two educational institutions for employing works in programs that ostensibly have gay themes that distress those seeking to punish the schools; one of the books is the award-winning comics memoir Fun Home.

3. ReedPOP announces a NYC, comics-emphasis show for June and the potential implication took two days to post.

Winner Of The Week
James Patterson. Wanted: more like.

Loser Of The Week
Anyone that supports deciding a book is about a set of cultural concerns that's important to you it be about and then further deciding that we have to have an antagonistic relationship to those concerns and then further deciding that an expression of an idea with which you don't wholly agree thus shouldn't be a part of the educational process and then punishing an institution that disagrees with you. Fuck you.

Quote Of The Week
"A good definition of an 'alt-comics icon' is a cartoonist who gets nominated for an industry award and can't afford to go to the ceremony." -- Evan Dorkin

*****

today's cover is from Marvel Comics during the year 1964

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: The Asteroid God

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Go, Look: Sheriff Shorty

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

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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Happy 49th Birthday, Alec Stevens!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Andy Diggle!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Clifford Meth!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Doug Allen!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Eamon Espey!

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February 21, 2014


Oni Press Announces Medical Retirement Of Jill Beaton

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The press release from Oni can be accessed through their publicity picture, above, and also here.

Beaton has been at Oni Press since 2007 and I believe formally took on her editor position in 2011. Amongst her assignments were Local, the Crogan material from Chris Schweizer and a bunch of their all-ages material. All best wishes to her and her loved ones.
 
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Spandy, RIP

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Go, Look: Paul Karasik And Jim Rugg Do A 12-Panel Pitch

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Go, Read: Lengthy Article By Ross Lincoln At The Escapist On The Ethics Of Comics Creation

It's difficult to dig into an article like this one from Ross Lincoln on the ethic of comics creation. I'm grateful the article exists. I think it's a subject worth debating endlessly and one of the most exciting things about comics over the last two decades is the rise of different models and permutations of existing models that force us to constantly question and re-question how business works and how it should work under the best possible circumstance and less-than-perfect realities. I'm also encouraged to see Lincoln engage the potentially ugly issue that performance by non-artists on behalf of artists has an ethical component to it, too: the suggestion that someone simply acting in honorable fashion in a context of mega-predatory creeps isn't necessarily the end of the discussion. If an underlying value for how we look at comics businesses is how the maker of the art is treated in accordance to the value of their art, one may argue that an artist may be better off with one kind of publishing relationship over another -- particularly in a marketplace where this doesn't necessarily mean exploitation in other ways, where there's a variety of options from which to choose.

So I urge you to read it and consider the issues involved and points made. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this kind of conversation in a broad sense over the next decade as comics lurches out of a period of near self-inflicted extinction and the perception of its artistic value as a novelty and into a more settled, accepted place in the way we engage with art, what meaning that has to us.

I do have some objections, or at least some notes on things that hit me while reading it.

The first is that I think Lincoln assumes a limited perspective at times when a broader one might be more informative. You can make the argument that the Image approach to creator vs. company is important because of the kinds of comics that company has made and the success it has enjoyed, but if I never again see the assertion that Image was some sort of lone agent for creators rights I'll be a much happier person. Not only did the small press, underground, indy, alt and self-publishing movement inform how Image set things up, they are important both of themselves and for the effect they've had in providing a continuity for honorable, profitable work for a number of cartoonists that continue to work with those publishers, that work with them for the first time, and that work for imprints of large book publishers. Are they the most profitable comics creators? Maybe not as a class. But there are creators that enjoy professional agency that aren't in the mainstream comics world. Two other groups of this type are newspaper strip cartoonists and the successful group of webcomics-oriented cartoonists that have been able to fashion a living with an on-line comics effort of some sort at the base of what they do. I'm not saying the article was wrong in restricting itself this way, you can write any article you want, as I admit, there are times when something is notable not for its pure novelty but for its novelty within a context. Still, I think a wider discussion, or at least an admission that there are other contexts, would have been more informative and a better snapshot of the greater landscape.

The second is that I was a bit dismayed he made a direct criticism of BOOM! based on a few things he was hearing and on past writing rather than simply 1) digging into the matter of whether or not BOOM! exploits creators that work on their licensed comics directly, 2) allow for BOOM! to at least respond to the general thrust of those allegations, or 3) restricting himself to the general point that exploitation is possible when millions of dollars aren't on the table, which I think is a way stronger point anyway. I actually didn't find that argument convicing when Scott Shaw! was making it, nor do I find it convincing here. The margins on licensed comics aren't great, successful comics in that world doesn't mean millions are rolling in, the creators I know that do those gigs seem inordinately satisfied with everything about those gigs. In other words, I don't think it's a bad question to ask, but I think it might be a bad one for which to assume an answer.

Anyway, I wanted to do one of those three things just by sending people to that piece, so I contacted Ross Richie and directed him to that article and asked for his response. It's as follows. He's referring to a characterization I made to him in e-mailed conversations about that section of the piece, along the lines of what I presented to you in the above graph. Here's Richie.
"As you pointed out, the op-ed isn't particularly well thought out and anyone who has an understanding of the industry can see it's riddled with broad assumptions and factual errors.

"That being said, I know that here at BOOM! we pay our talent competitive rates commiserate with other publishers our size and based on our sales. We've worked with thousands of creators from writers to artists to colorists to letterers over the eight year history of the company and the fact that many of them continue to work with us over the course of many projects and years should speak for itself.

"The simple fact of the matter is that if we were undervaluing talent, they would find work elsewhere. We wish the market supported even higher page rates.

"One of the things I pride my team on is that every day we work towards expanding the audience for comic books beyond the superhero genre, whether getting the next generation of readers via KaBOOM! or tackling Mouse Guards and A Tale Of Sands with Archaia or reaching out to a more broad audience via the new BOOM! Box.

"Hopefully one day the audience for independent work outside of Marvel and DC will grow large enough to support a much bigger, more thriving business."
I'm appreciative that he took the time to write that. Thank you, Ross.

The third thing that struck me about Lincoln's piece as something on which I wanted to comment is that while I appreciate the discussion of a union and/or guild because of the help-the-creator emphasis of those discussions, I'm never quite sure what we're supposed to do with such talks. The two ideas that get tossed out there are 1) some sort of organization that would help people score better pay rates, and 2) some sort of trade organization or guild that would help creators more generally. The first one seems untenable to me, even if younger creators somehow aren't completely disinterested in such an organization as the article asserts. There was a time when the industry functioned in a way that was much less complicated and where a union that helped establish credit priorities and page rates would have been immensely helpful and practical, a time where you could identify and place your hands on 80 percent of the people that would be important to get to join in a single afternoon with a taxicab at your disposal, and it didn't happen then.

The guild idea seems to me to have immense practical problems. I'm not sure you could convince enough people of the practical value of paying to join something comprehensive and ambitious, and finding a way to consolidate issues so that they hit all of these different camps in comics and their very different concerns would seem tricky even if all the rich people in comics wrote $150,000 checks in seed money and created an administrator in a laboratory. It's difficult to get 10 comics people to agree on a place to eat dinner, let alone 2000 on the course of the dozen or so comics industries. It's also unclear whether any organization would facilitate what makes people more successful, or at least there's a high degree of difficulty involved in putting such programs into place. At that point, an organization becomes an avenue for exploitation rather than a hedge against it. It's tough. I bet we'll see periodic attempt to include a sub-group of comics-makers in a group, like this new one e-mailed to me a bunch this morning. My hunch is that there's still room for market-driven improvements, in the way that people at a certain level are drifting to the Image deal if maintaining certain rights and having a kind of comic book that might do well in comics shops is important to how they perceive what it is they want to do, the way that some writers and artists that could probably write a ticket of some sort at a bigger company have settled into mid-sized publishers, the way that alt- and arts-cartoonists go through a process of sorting out which smaller company does what well in order to figure out how they want their work to get out there and potentially be seen and bring them money and attention, the way that people in yet another part of comics are going directly to their fans to ask for funding that in turn facilitates a business structure, just solely as a means to getting that specific comic out there. And so on.

If it's important to enough people, progress will be made. It's good to talk about these things; it's good to ask questions and not assume that exploitation is something that happens over there or to other people in the professional community or only to the people with millions as stake. It will be good if we start holding non comics maker to a higher standard than simply being there, if their niceness is the subject of sentence eight rather than sentence one. There is probably a comic within 10 feet of you or a site in your recent browser history that involved someone profiting in some way at the expense of someone else. It's not just readers that need to ask these questions. It's everybody.
 
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Go, Look: Catching Up With Simon Gane Art Posts

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1, 2, 3
 
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Go, Read: Chris Ross Talks To Bruce Lidl About Top Shelf Pursuing DRM-Free And Bundled Strategies

I like this interview at The Beat between Chris Ross of Top Shelf and Bruce Lidl one this announcement for a number of reasons. The first is that Ross brings up a bunch of things that run counter to conventional wisdom in a very engaged, conversational matter. The second is how he assigns where different digital comics platform options generate value for themselves, which is not something I've thought about. The third is a reminder that Top Shelf has been fairly aggressive about a lot of digital endeavors, just in a limited way. The fourth is that the general attitude behind the offer, that finding a better way to do things is more important than winning an argument about the issue in abstraction, appeals to me. So I urge you to read it. One thing I get from Ross when I talk to him is a willingness to let his opinion by shaped by what he's seeing, which sounds like damning with faint praise but it's actually pretty common ini comics and in digital culture to let one's appetites and points of view dictate an idea of how everything works and should continue to work. So to be open to piecing together information that doesn't fit a theory for actual practical application as opposed to making a point is a very positive quality.
 
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Go, Look: Check Heard 'Round The World

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South Carolina Politicians Attempting To Punish Schools For Assigning Books Including Fun Home

imageThis is idiotic and disgraceful, and I don't just mean the automatic video pop-up there. Sorry about that. Anyway, a budget committee on the state level in South Carolina has apparently trimmed two small but not-insignificant amounts of money from two schools for assigning two books they argue have gay themes. This is sort of like an onion of deep stupidity, so I'm going to peel at it in a way I hope doesn't endorse any sort of backwards thinking moving from one level to another. One of the books in question is Alison Bechdel's highly-regarded comics memoir Fun Home, which was assigned as reading to a group of incoming freshman at the College Of Charleston.

I have no idea why a university couldn't assign books with any kind of theme they want. I have no idea why the reality in which Fun Home traffics is transformative in any way of it being one kind of book instead of just a book with a variety of entry points and value based on the skill of its execution and the humane orientation of its story. I have no idea if you even granted these dopes their definition of these books why you wouldn't want people in school engaging with them because it seems to me that engaging with ideas is what you do when you're in school, or what you should be doing. I have no idea how any rational reading of Fun Home could lead you thinking the book promotes anything other than the tough work of struggling with who you are in the context of the people that shaped you and why you turned out that way -- and again, I'm not sure why that isn't something perfectly suited for incoming college freshman to encounter in the form of a shared reading experience. I'm also not sure how this is supposed to work politically except maybe make everyone under the age of 50 like the College Of Charleston and the other school and never want to vote for whatever party the goofballs that are cutting funds in an overt political/cultural move happen to operate.

I hope that if it comes to it, we'll have the chance to send them some money to make up for the amount. I'm going to send the Fun Home school a few bucks anyway, because I can -- 66 George St, Charleston, SC 29424. All hail Fun Home, a book so forceful it has led to actual television movie style political reprisals: from dumbasses, apparently, but still.
 
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Go, Look: Courtney Menard

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Good For ReedPOP On Joining The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Corporate Membership Program

Here's the press release about convention organzier ReedPOP joining the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's corporate membership program, an act of good citizenship in an industry that really lacks the kind of infrastructure for a lot of similar such acts. I would hope that every significant business industry with some sort of business relating to comics would join. The two that pop into my head reading the list of members that aren't involved for whom it would be easy to involved are Marvel and Wizard, whatever their corporate names are now. There are also other book publishers that could join pretty easily, I'd guess. I'm not sure how non-profits and schools work with this kind of thing, and for a lot of other entities I would guess there are cash flow issues. Still, that's a good list, and I'm grateful for all that participate in comics this way.
 
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Go, Look: Romantic Secrets #22

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James Patterson Giving Money To Independent Bookstores

The thing about the author -- and occasional engine for comics-making -- James Patterson injecting money straight into the infrastructure that made him rich is that it's hard to imagine one could sit around and figure out as much good to do with that money by one's self. I also like that simply paying people is seen as another structural improvement to be considered under this general model, because that's how it should be seen.

I actually think this kind of thing is more important than we realize because of how demented and arbitrary who profits can be in American industries now, including those surrounding entertainment media. That's not a shot at Patterson: he makes books that people really like to read. But I do think that people deciding profit isn't a holy right and re-investing it in those things they love, directly and without additional profit being made in the doing so by third parties, is the greatest way to redress structural imbalances. That may just be me, though.
 
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This Really Is One Of The Best Recent Mainstream Comics Stories

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I try to stay away from driving attention to copyrighted material used in this way, but whan an beautiful-looking, fun story
 
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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* this Gary Tyrrell column from a while back reminds us that Brad Guigar (pictured) celebrated a pair of notable anniversaries. It's fascinating to me that this big chunk of webcomics makers are celebrating anniveraries that place them roughly into the full standard lifetime of a newspaper strip.

* I thought this mini-essay from Jason Shiga about judging the Ignatzes and moving into a digital comics serialization funny and sweet like a lot of what Jason writes and says. Total bonus for the Frank Cho reference. We forget sometimes because certain people have taken so naturally to elements of on-line presentation how difficult and frightening that can be.

* I overlooked this press release indicating which book from Alternative Comics are available digitally, or at least which comics were on January 21.

* I think I saw a note that this is available digitally in a way that makes this fresh news added to an old preview and not just one of those old things that inexplicably pops up as if it were new news. That's pretty work, either way.

* it's good to know that Comics & Cola will stick around past 2014, if only in a reduced way.

* finally, Alan Gardner updates us on the Daily Cartoonist makeover. That is a foundational site for me.
 
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If I Were In East Lansing, 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: Tim Sale Black And White Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Green Lantern #26.

* Bruce Lidl talks to Chris Ross. Chris Sims talks to Kate Leth.

* nice.

* not comics: David Walker writes about people here that have a lot of time on their hands to care about the color of the actor playing the Human Torch in the next Fantastic Four movie. You find a lot of traditonalist thinkers like this in hardcore comics fandom, so it's sort of a comics story, I guess. These are people that feel comfortable speaking with certainty about what Jack Kirby might have thought. I actually have some sympathy for people with these stupid opinions: they've been manipulated into feeling beset by such things by those that profit politically and economically from their dissatisfaction. This isn't my area of interest or study, but it seems to me that very few traditionally white superhero characters signify as white in a key way, whereas a lot of major black characters do. For instance, you can make the argument that part of the idea of Captain America is that he's an honest-to-goodness Nazi superman that rejects the idea of a Nazi superman. If you make that character black, you move away a bit from that set of meanings (and you can, there are no rules, you just likely have to engage with the difference or deal with the absence, perhaps adding meaning, like in that series from Kyle Baker and the late Robert Morales). In contast, many black superhero characters are strongly identified as black characters in key ways, like the African Prince Black Panther. The Human Torch, there's nothing about that guy that makes him black or white -- he needs to be a young hothead is all -- and given the infrequency of this kind of role that can be played and embodied by non-white actors when adhering to the traditional presentation, I think it's great to cast this way. Let's see more, not less. It also strikes me that this kind of weird anger may exist -- may exist -- less on the racist/privilege axis than on a continuity with those fans that don't like it when they think a female superhero comics-originating character should be prettier than they've decided the actress to be, instead of processing this person in the way that they're intended to represent someone attractive. It's a weird, slightly sad way to watch movies, to expect them to comport to a reality that isn't a reality at all. Mostly, though, no grown-ass person should have any opinion about who is playing what part in a movie. Go outside. I envy the life that has significant time for that kind of thing outside of professional obligation. I'm a little more worried that such a great young actor like Michael B. Jordan isn't getting a bigger part in a solo superhero movie, if that's a kind of movie he wants to do.

* Kevin Huizenga sketches. Spain Rodriguez draws a subway platform. Vicente Alcazar draws Man-Thing. Mike Kaluta draws Mister X. Gene Luen Yang draws Usagi Yojimbo.

* not comics: the Michael Chabon quote used by Austin Kleon here showed up in a couple of different places where I could see it this week. I would suggest that all writing isn't fan fiction because the differences in intent and effect are important and crucial, but it's more fun to just enjoy the cleverness of the quote.

* finally, I have no memory of Mort Drucker doing a newspaper strip set in the Reagan White House. What an odd thing that is. Although if one were to do a strip suited for the Doonesbury slot in the newspaper -- and you should given how long that strip has been around -- a White House-set strip isn't a bad idea.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Bryan Lee O'Malley!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Carlos Nine!

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Happy 6th Birthday, Desert Island!

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February 20, 2014


Go, Look: Favorite Superman (And Clark Kent) Artists

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Your Graphic Novel/Comics Category 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Finalists

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The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes finalists were released yesterday; this included a comics/graphic novel category. Those named were:

* David B., for Incidents in the Night: Volume 1 (Uncivilized Books)
* Ben Katchor, for Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories (Pantheon)
* Ulli Lust, for Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life (Fantagraphics)
* Anders Nilsen, for The End (Fantagraphics)
* Joe Sacco, for The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme (WW Norton and Company)

That is a powerhouse line-up.

Past winners include Carla Speed McNeil (for Finder: Voice) and Adam Hines (for the first volume of Duncan The Wonder Dog). Vanessa Davis will present at a ceremony on the USC campus, April 11.
 
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Go, Look: Famous Stars #4

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Missed It: Cybils Honor Two Graphic Novels

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I don't know how serious a thing the Children's And Young Adults Literary Bloggers is that they have an awards program, but the site looks nice and I'm all for hearing a bunch of different takes on the year just past in comics. It's also a little hard to break it down fully as to which category applies where, but it looks like in terms of comics there were two honored, in children's and young adults respectively: Barry Deutsch's Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite and the collected Templar from Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland. What's additionally interesting is that it's a rare list where I can't recall either choice on any others -- I'm thinking the Deutsch probably is on someone's out there I've seen, but I know I haven't seen the Mechner/Pham/Puvilland because I've been looking for one. That is a deeply odd book, like a comics adaption of an early 1990s filming of a 1950s Disney script.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Al Feldstein EC Covers

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Not Comics: Matt Taibbi Gets Start-Up Funding For Own Publication

Here. This is interesting to me because we've seen comics benefit by a flood of investment into journalism of this sort, but I also wonder if we're ever going to see antagonistic entertainment coverage as its own thing -- I can't even think of someone doing that on-line, though, so probably not.
 
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Fred Guardineer Comics Make Me Unreasonably Happy

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Thought Bubble in Leeds put up a gigantic informational post on Monday, basically announcing their November show and its first burst of special guests. Scott Snyder stand out there for me; I think you're going to see a lot of these mainstream creators do a lot of different kinds of shows over the next few years because nearly all of them have creator-driven projects that are appropriate to multiple venues. This article at The Beat tells me that they'll be building this first wave of logos from the work of Annie Wu.

* that Denver Comic Con slapfight -- and I don't mean to diminish it by saying that, but until we see some financials that's all it is right now -- will likely remain its own posts for a while after this brief update. I'm playing catch there a bit: neither side returned an initial e-mail, but I will try to see what happens today for a full post tomorrow. I haven't said too much about it but I'm not sure that anything to be said about it that isn't just repeating accusations and denials. If you missed it, what I can figure from a rough read: one of the co-founders, a man named Charlie La Greca, resigned from the board to take a paid position with the show. That person had a limited contract. That contract was not renewed. There were differences on some level. Some attempt at reconciliation was tried and seemingly did not work. That person has launched a site accusing the convention of neglecting its educational mission and potentially abusing available funds. The convention has responded by saying it is moving forward with its educational programs and that all of its financials are required to be released by laws governing non-profits and this is up to date. This seems a mix of things that can be proven when records are released, like if there's blatant misuse of funds, and things that can never be proven because they involve emphasis and rough appraisals, like if the con is doing enough or moving rapidly enough. It is worth watching, though, because a lot of conventions end up in an acrimonious situation comparable to this one -- a lot of theater companies with a non-profit set-up involving a board do, too -- and there are a lot more conventions now. If good fences make good neighbors, good contracts make good collaborations.

* this looks like a super-fun event of a kind we could see a dozen of on college campuses 10 years from now. I hope in particular that Mr. Sakai has a great weekend given how tough the last several months have been.

* finally, I don't do very well with store events in this column, but it's great to see Desert Island celebrate its sixth and I hope all the good-looking people in New York comics and a few of the not as attractive ones will stop by and wish Gabe Fowler the best.
 
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If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

imageIf I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This
 
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Go, Look: Joe Quinones Spider-Man Villains Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the official call for papers at ICAF is here. That should be a fine conference, and it's in beautiful Columbus, Ohio.

image* I missed this interview by David Goodman with Wendy and Richard Pini. Steve Sunu talks to Daniel Way. Steve Morris talks to David Brothers. Michael Cavna talks to Jackie Estrada.

* Sean Kleefeld extols the virtues of reading comics about people with whom you don't have direct experience.

* Justin Giampaoli on a bunch of different comics. Johanna Draper Carlson on Sweet Rein Vol. 2. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Godzilla: The Half-Century War. Kelly Thompson on Black Widow #3. Sarah Horrocks on Thor: God Of Thunder #18. Richard Bruton on Wolf Country #2. Josie Campbell talks to Tony Bedard.

* finally, I missed the 56th birthday of the most successful post-apocalyptic strip in history: BC. The strip is here.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Sarah Becan!

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Happy 85th Birthday, John Dixon!

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February 19, 2014


Always Worth A Reminder That Bill Mantlo's Family Could Use Donations For Ongoing Care

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This site doesn't cover a lot of movies and certainly not to the point of tracking reaction to commercial campaigns on their behalf, but that kind of close study does make up a lot of analysis on various sites and from a lot of fans. I hope that as many as possible might include mention wherever appropriate of Rocket Raccoon co-creator (with Sal Buscema) Bill Mantlo, and his ongoing need for support in care.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Alan Davis B&W Line Art

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Festivals Extra: Group Challenges Denver Comic-Con Adherence To Original Mission + Revenue Use

Here. I'm going to look into it, but it's a fascinating read as is and the kind of thing that should be widely looked-into, so if I'm not on point -- and I actually assume I'm way behind already -- that's just fine with me.

Update: Heidi MacDonald has cut and paste the convention's statement in response. I usually roll my eyes at cutting and pasting, but in this case it may be a good thing because I can't find it on the con's Facebook page as I'm typing this. I'll try to sort things out tomorrow. These seem like charges that are either pretty easy to prove/disprove, because there's a paper trail required by law, or can never be proved/disproved because they're a judgment call based on dueling opinions of what should be emphasized and to what extent.
 
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Go, Read: The Transpacific Partnership And "Free Trade"

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Go, Stare And Maybe Buy: Bill Watterson High School Cartoons

Here. Take that as an invitation to go look at the material and read the offer rather than as an endorsement of what is being sold; I can barely wrap my mind around wanting any art objects these days let alone career curiosities even for someone as accomplished as Bill Watterson. So I'm not the person to judge what something is worth. Still, I liked looking at them. Cartoonists are made, rarely born.
 
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Go, Look: Another Stuart Immonen Mini-Gallery

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Missed It: Your 2014 CBC Bookie Awards Winners In The Graphic Novel Or Comic Book Category

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These are listed here. I've been sitting on this link for 100 years, and I'm not exactly sure why -- not sitting as in supressing it, but sitting as in not using. It's a good group of books, and I'm all for people being recognized by a variety of sub-categorizations, nationality being one of them.

* Journal, Julie Delporte (Koyama Press) (image below)
* Palookaville #21, Seth (Drawn And Quarterly)
* Susceptible, Geneviève Castrée (Drawn And Quarterly)
* The Spectral Engine, Ray Fawkes (Random House) (image above)
* Very Casual, Michael Deforge (Koyama Press)

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Go, Look: Mr. Skygack, From Mars

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Your 2013 SPACE Prize Winners

imageBob Corby (pictured) of The Small Press And Alternative Comics Expo has sent out a press release recognizing this year's SPACE Prize winners, which goes to work done by those exhibiting at the show in the previous year -- so this is work that stretches from April 2012 to April 2013.

The winner of the General and Graphic Novel takes home $300 and a plaque. The winners of the Minicomic / Short Story and Webcomic categories take home $100 and a plaque.

1st Place Graphic Novel Category
* Xoc: The Journey of a Great White, Matt Dembicki (Oni Press)
2nd Place Graphic Novel Category
* District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC, Edited By Matt Dembicki (Fulcrum Publishing)
3rd Place Tie Graphic Novel Category
* Burning Building Comix, Jeff Zwirek (Imperial Press)
* Homesick, Jason Walz (Tinto Press LLC)

1st Place General Category
* Ragged Rider: Tales of a Cowboy Mummy, Andrew Mayerhoefer And Seth Kumpf (So How 'Bout Comics?)
2nd Place General Category
* Black Heart #1, Chris Charlton And David Hollenbach (Assailant Comics)
3rd Place General Category
* The Signifiers #1 & 2, Michael Neno (M.R.Neno Productions)

1st Place Minicomic / Short Story Category
* Better Together, Ryan Claytor (Elephant Eater Comics)
2nd Place Tie Minicomic / Short Story Category
* Blind Spot #2, Joseph Remnant (Self Published)
* Perpetual Motion, Pam Bliss (Self-Published)

1st Place Webcomic Category
* Little Guardians, Lee Cherolis And Ed Cho
2nd Place Webcomic Category
* Zombi Marge Comix, Tim Fuller (Hooha Comics)
3rd Place Webcomic Category
* Mixed Drink Wednesday, Derek Baxter And Brian Canini (Drunken Cat Comics)

Judges were Ken Eppstein, Robert Loss, Gib Bickel, Caitlin McGurk, Max Ink and Michael Carroll.

The plaque presentation will take place at this year's SPACE in April in Columbus, Ohio.
 
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Not Comics: Virgil Finlay Illustration Art

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Alex Segura Back At Archie Comics; Takes On Editorial Role As Part Of His Assignments There

That very nice and professional marketing/publicity person Alex Segura, who last made a cross-company move in the second half of 2012 when he went from Archie to DC Comics, is now back at Archie Comics as thie Senior Vice President -- Publicity and Marketing and as Editor for their Red Circle Comics line. This was announced formally yesterday after being leaked to Bleeding Cool in the recent tradition of DC's weird link-everything relationship with that publication. Segura seems generally well liked and this last stint at Archie in particular was well-regarded given the potential for disconnect between the generally sunny nature of Archie's core properties and the interest that they can muster for their still-secure place in the public consciousness. The Red Circle material is the publisher's superhero line: Segura's duties there will include bringing in talent and plotting the course for the line more generally. The press release pointed out that Segura is a writer of both comics and prose.

Segura's position at DC was Executive Director, Publicity. His last position at Archie was Vice President of Publicity.

You can read the formal press release here.
 
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Go, Look: The Beautiful Crudeness Of Golden Age Comic Books

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Go, Read: A Local Comics-Sold-At-Used-Bookstore Profile

I love local newspaper profiles; they are one of my favorite forms of writing. This piece on Peregrine Books in Prescott, Arizona, and the comics fan that maintains their comics section, I liked for a couple of reasons. One is that I have a fondness for the comics shop within a used bookstore because that's the kind of comics shop -- along with the now equally rare pawn shop comics shop -- that was around when I was a kid. It strikes me that offering that kind of service is daunting now because of the order demands, and having an involved reader handle that for a store seems like a good solution. Another is that I think it's important for there to be models that work in towns the size of Prescott (40K) and smaller towns have unique challenges. A third is that I am almost automatically fond of any store that eschews all back-issue pricing in favor of used bookstore pricing, in this case everything from before 2012 being a buck.
 
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Go, Look: A Few Pages From Daredevil #266

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I Am Reminded At Least Three Other Shows Could Feel The Impact Of A June ReedPOP Comics Convention

imageFor some reason that seem quite in line with a series of slow-to-process-things weeks this site has been having, my piece a while back on a leaked letter indicating that ReedPOP was doing a June NYC comics event contained mention of there being two local shows that weekend -- Eternal Con on Long Island; New York Comic Fest in Westchester -- but my piece this week on the Reed show being confirmed dropped that entire line of thinking. Let's pick it up. Both previously announced New York shows have guest lists (1, 2) that would indicate the kind of show an active, involved fan in that region might want to see -- enough so that one imagines, given that a Reed show would have a similar list, that if the three shows were on three different weekends some fans might want to see two of three or three of three.

The second day of the proposed Reed show is also the day of the next Albany Comic Con in upstate New York, and one would have to expect that a smaller subset of fans will be disappointed they can't attend all four shows, and will have to make a choice similar to the one made by the fans in Long Island and Westchester. For that matter, the Grand Comics Festival is a week earlier, but of all the shows described it's hardest to imagine overlap in the form of people having to choose between one or the other.

Some brief thoughts.

First of all, four comics shows on the same weekend you could reach with a half-tank of gas is pretty crazy. I have no idea how there were three shows planned like that, to be honest with you; I should have noticed that before now. None of them suck up the oxygen in a room like a Reed show, though. Reed showing up makes an odd situation laugh-out-loud weird. Conventions have surged in popularity with such force that there have been some events bumping right up against one another, and that is going to continue. I do think the ethics are a bit different now. I think 10 years ago you would have had shows complaining about another show in their region, period, and something within six weeks would have been the equivalent of walking into someone's house and slapping all the family members while they eat breakfast. My perception is that people aren't even as likely complain when a show is two weeks away now, not for the most part, and that can be true of similar events in the same city a few weeks apart. I'm not saying that people get psyched about this, but they're not rolling in the aisles anymore ripping at their clothing. In fact, I think you'll start to see people doing shows where proximity and competition is basically the point, and they'll be praised for their smarts in doing so.

imageSecond, I wonder if Reed scheduling this show when it did had any of these shows primarily in mind. Primarily. Like I suggest in that first point, I'm not sure there's automatically a strategy to poach. If this is being done to stunt the momentum of one of these shows, I could see that -- if one of the shows was ready to move into the Javits next year, say. Even then, this a weird, haltingly aggressive move from a company that prefers more direct confrontation (and an industry that rewards them). They're going to lose the perception war, for one, no matter what. They'll give each show a little boost, also, just for this story: someone with deeper roots in New York or a freelancer there is likely to run interviews with the show-runners that they never would have done without the excuse of perceived provocation by Reed. Reed is also entering into things late enough that they've basically thrown in the towel on a lot of creators popular in that region: if it's a show of strength, it's a vastly confident one because they're starting off at a disadvantage they wouldn't going full-bore a year later. At the same time, I am not going to blame any of those people involved with the shows to think they've being directly targeted. I would. And the effect is the same: there's a big new show and it's likely to have an effect on yours.

Third, there may be a chance all four could work for this one year -- a lot of people like going to conventions now, and there are certainly enough fans in general vicinity of New York to make for 40,000-45,000 people spread out amongst the four events on a June afternoon. Like I wrote above, I'm actually surprised we don't see more show-drafting and counter-convention planning at this point, period, and I think the culture will allow for it when it becomes a thing. Having written that, long range planning is different. If Reed wants to continue mid-June, and that's their nature to build things, I think organizers of other shows might think of moving or otherwise adjusting, or at least of becoming much more aggressive and combative about staying in that place on the calendar. So the same way this could have a long range effect on big shows on the calendar for that month, this could certainly have a similar effect on shows that want to continue in June.

Update: After posting this, a pair of readers wrote in to remind me that Denver's getting-bigger show is that same crazy weekend in June. It's a sign of how things have changed that Denver and all these New York shows aren't seen in conflict (neither are Linework NW and SPACE, for example), although this will put further pressure on shows that want to assemble a comics-focused guest list for this weekend and this month. Another reader reminded me that this roughly the same time of year that used to be owned by the MoCCA Festival, which is another good point in of how attractive that part of the calendar may be. June in New York!
 
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Go, Read: Paul Gravett Interviews Andras Baranyai

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The 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.

*****

OCT131191 PERFECT NONSENSE GEORGE CARLSON HC $49.99
This is the belle of the ball by a wide margin this week, I think, and I like every book I've listed. George Carlson is a potential pantheon level cartoon illustrator that worked in comics and in a series of jokebook annual that it's nearly impossible to see as anything other than a kind of book that informed kids' comics for their first three decades. There is more work here than I'd ever thought I'd see from the artist, and I enjoyed just about every single page.

imageNOV131049 ON LOVING WOMEN GN (MR) $16.95
I'm readint this book right now, and it's very amenable to sitting in a chair and waiting for me to pick it up again. It has a nice tone, and the subject matter of love is always worth visiting, particularly in slightly ugly times like these.

DEC138038 BLACK WIDOW #1 2ND PTG NOTO VAR ANMN $3.99
DEC130999 ADVENTURE TIME #25 MAIN CVRS $4.99
There are not a lot of serial comic book that jump out at me, so I'd probably try the Black Widow comic -- perhaps along with the She-Hulk comic I failed to mention, just to see what Marvel is doing with these types of books right now. They've been well-received.

DEC130956 CONNECTICUT YANKEE KING ARTHURS COURT GN $22.00
This is apparently another Seymour Chwast book; what a curious career the design heavyweight has carved out for himself in comics the last few years.

OCT131259 DOWN SET FIGHT GN [DIG] $19.99
This is a comic about a man beating up sports mascots. Sold? I'd pick it up based on that. I know the work of the Chris Sims half of the Chris Sims/Chad Bowers partnership, and I think his writing can be very funny, so I would take a look. Plus I never pay attention to the Oni stuff, which is odd. Scott Kowalchuk on art, a person with whom I'm not even half-familiar. Still, it's fun to the shops to look at new material, and this is the one I'd check out this week for sure.

NOV131315 IM NOT POPULAR GN VOL 02 $11.99
This is the best of the more mainstream-targeted (as opposed to hardcore alt-/arts-) manga series with a volume out this week.

DEC130103 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #33 (MR) [DIG] $7.99
NOV131439 ALTER EGO #123 $8.95
These are the two I noticed simply because of the high issue numbers because I'm fascinated by what publications last and how long they last. I mean, There were only a little more than twice that many issues of TCJ in its history. It's such a tough market the DHP has to be a prime comics gig for a lot of the creators they attract, so I hope they're doing good work for the publication.

DEC131078 SHADOW MASTER SERIES TP VOL 01 (MR) $24.99

*****

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 East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: The Architecture Of Akira

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Caliber Comics is making a comeback with one of those enterprises that looks like it will be in the "leveraging properties" business, but I could be wrong.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Beautiful Darkness. Todd Klein on Green Lantern #27 and Dark Horse Presents #23. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Michael Buntag on Ms. Marvel #1. Bob Temuka profiles Simon Bisley. Henry Chamberlain on Adventure Time #25. Johanna Draper Carlson on The Man Of Tango. Richard Bruton on Snowpiercer Vol. 1. Kelly Thompson on She-Hulk #1. Sarah Horrocks on Nurse Nurse.

* go here to vote for the Eisner Hall Of Fame, if you're eligible. It's easy to find four names to vote for in there; I think the one I would find most delightful if she wins is Francoise Mouly, the great designer, editor and publisher.

* Sean Kleefeld reminds us that Bob Haney's writing could be sort of nuts. I actually encounter older creators like Haney quite a bit -- hell, I might be turning into one were I to create more frequently. Haney had a real sensitivity for comics on the page, and I lot of his work feels slightly affected I think for him chasing a certain effect. That's my theory, anyway.

* here's a lengthy piece following up on the issue of the dismissive treatment women customers sometimes receive in comics shops and how that can also be 100 percent true for new readers of all types. I'm always happy to read about people's experience reading comics because I think the highly personalized relationship that people have with reading comics is one of the more fascinating things about the medium as it exists right now. As for the actual issue, I kind of feel like it's obviously bad to make people feel crummy just for wanting to buy stuff, but I don't know that have much more than a sentence in me saying so.

* hey, this still exists. I had no idea. Mike Sterling mentioned it.

* that is indeed some first-rate Richard Milhous Nixon.

* this looks like a hero history for Batgirl.

* the writer Matt Fraction dissects another pair of comics pages. It's fun to imagine being 17 years old and just lapping this stuff up. Don't get me wrong, I'm 45 and was super-entertained by it, but I think at that age I would have thought it the most awesome thing in the world for an admired pro to dig into a work like that. Speaking of process posts (well, analysis posts are sort of like process posts), here's one featuring Rutu Modan.

* Sean Gaffney catches up with some licenses.

* I've never had a serious beef with the word "comics." I actually have more of a beef with the word "beef."

* finally, here are the most anticipated books of the Spring 2014 season according to the nice folks at PW; a graphic novel section is included.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, William Messner-Loebs!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Jim Lawson!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Don Glut!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Gerry Shamray!

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February 18, 2014


Go, Look: Melissa Mendes Art For Sale

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Missed It: Larry Lankford, RIP

Kevin Melrose has details on the passing late in 2013 of Dallas Fantasy Fair founder Jim Lankford. Lankford was a very young 53 considering his prominence came in the 1980s and early 1990s. Melrose has it right in terms of Dallas being perceived as a firm #3 show behind San Diego and Chicago for a time there -- I don't know the measurables, but that's my conception of how it was perceived. The Dallas show was also for some people an expression of the very active and important fandom that Texas was able to boast in the 1960s and 1970s.
 
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Go, Look: Derek Marks

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Not Comics: Two Wider Journalism Stories Worth Noting

There were two stories linked through Editor & Publisher that looked to me like they might have some relationship to various issues facing comics. This article about the elimination of unpaid internships by Conde Nast in light of lawsuits, combined with an editor's perspective on his publication's internship program, seems promising to me. I don't have significant problems with limited internships tied to school credit or the idea that some limited-exposure internships might even be unpaid for prospective professionals. I don't believe in free labor for things that generate value in all the ways we recognize value, but I realize there's some space to argue for exposing people to a workplace and some of the elements of paid work in a limited way without paying them, the way that kids might volunteer to be a page for their state representative as a way to open them up to how politics work. Too many of our internships are basically full-staff positions with a really advantageous (to the company) pay rate. Clearly. It's ludicrous more often than not. I feel there are such severe opportunities for exploitation in any such program, exploitation that is rarely considered in a lot of circumstances, that I'm grateful for the level of introspection involved with both halves of this story and with the increased level of self-analysis we're seeing displayed more generally. One thing that doesn't get mentioned in articles like this one is that unpaid internships make less sense when there are fewer paid positions of value to be attained through such programs.

This article about tying revenue into digital money-making, on the other hand, is fairly terrifying. For one thing, it already happens; there's a reason why the popular sports columnist is paid more than the person doing the sports agate. Tying pay more explicitly to performance is just an excuse for publications to not pay anything for the elements of value that can't be quantified and would force writers to chase revenue in the short term that could be brutally damaging to the publication and its readership over the long term. It's also funny to me that you never get this measure applied to the people that hold the kinds of positions that do the counting, or to an ownership group. In general, there's a fine line between a commercial restriction on journalism that forces publications to serve a readership in order to gain some measure of profitability and suggesting that maximizing profitability serves anything other than an abstract bottom line.
 
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Go, Look: Joelle Jones

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ReedPOP Confirms The NYC Comics-Focused Show Everyone Knew About Already Because Their Letter Leaked

Here. As I wrote when word of this show leaked via a letter sent out to comics professionals, there are a number of things interesting about ReedPOP doing a "pure comic-focused" show. One is this consitutes an admission that their C2E2 and NYCC are not this kind of comics show (or, if you are super-cynical, the fact that NYCC started out as a pure comics show according to Lance Fensterman indicates this one could end up being a starting point, too). Two is that another NYC comics show, placed at a safe distance between MoCCA in the Spring, NYCC and whatever Brooklyn small-press show from Gabe Fowler might exist in the Fall, which are the shows with some oomph reasonably established on that city's calendar (there are other, more focused shows), is worth noting just because New York shows are worth noting. New York is a great comics city and should be able to handle multiple major shows and a bunch of smaller ones, no problem.

Three deserves its own paragraph. Three is that this is the first Reed show of a comics nature -- and the first show since Wizard's Chicago effort was in its prime (it's past that now) -- that might be argued encroaches on Comic-Con's traditional summer calendar perch and could therefore eventually provide a challenge to CCI's summer supremacy if only in terms of the way a lot of comics folk think. There are a lot of comics people I think could be convinced that a successful summer show in New York is a preferred alternative to the San Diego event a month later, even if for most of us there's no reason they should or would compete. There's a big-time Thor Vs. Hulk impulse in comics, a "let's you and him fight" reflex. If people compare Emerald City to Comic-Con -- and they do! -- they'll compare this one, for sure. Even at a 15K attendance cap. In fact, to see this New York show -- or a string of shows including the New York show -- as a preferred alternative might not even take much convincing for certain pros. Comics people have a tremendous capacity to believe that something that works best for them personally has industry-wide consequences in terms of how things should work. A shop that sells their comics is the definition of a good shop. A publisher that publishes their work is the definition of a good publisher. A site that covers their comics is the definition of a good site. A show they can drive to or take to the subway to while sleeping for free in their homes, a show where they feel a bigger star in terms of relative perception, that's going to be a good show for a lot of comics people, independent of other appraisal mechanisms for such a show. So we should keep an eye on the rhetoric, particularly in years two through five. Hopefully this is seen as an addition to the comics show calendar and is judged on its own merits, but I have my doubts.

A fourth interesting thing is a bit stickier, at least potentially. Bear with me, but here is something that's been communicated to me by some older, experienced convention people. The proposed NYC show has a date a week before the shared weekend of the Wizard Philadelphia show and HeroesCon in Charlotte. While Heroes competes very well against Philadelphia attendee to attendee (almost no overlap) and comics pro to comics pro (not a ton of overlap and Heroes has a devoted comics professional base), it is entirely possible that a New York City show by itself, or a NYC show followed by a show in Philadelphia, might be more attractive for some retailers than doing Charlotte only, or pairing NYC with the more distant Charlotte. That's something to keep an eye on. The overstuffed convention calendar and groundswell of enthusiasm for cons generally makes this a different era than when HeroesCon got a bunch of support from comics people when Wizard tried to launch an Atlanta show near Heroes' traditional summer dates -- back when Wizard's individual shows were more considerable than they are now. But now, I think we all know these days that there are going to be weekends with multiple shows, and months with five or six. That doesn't mean they don't have an impact on each other. Again, I suppose we'll see.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this is the first time I've thought to go and look and see if Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen had an Amazon.com entry yet. There's a cover, but it's too small for me to want to blow up and place above so you get a panel. If that ends up coming out and we get two Dylan Horrocks book this year, that's pretty much armageddon guaranteed, I'd think.

image* I'm getting to this way late in the news cycle because of when this column appears and when this news broke, but there will apparently be a third Jeffrey Brown Darth-Vader-As-Dad book. I like Brown a bunch, and I think those books are super-cute, so I'm happy for that. I'll be even happier if this means that Brown can carve a career out for himself doing works across the spectrum including the non-mega property related joke book of a similar nature that was also announced.

* two from Jess Ruliffson and So What? Press later this year.

* Johanna Draper Carlson notes what material will be made available in a forthcoming High School Debut omnibus series.

* Jillian Tamaki shows us a bit of This One Summer. Looks nice.

* a DC comic book called The Movement was cancelled. I don't think I know anyone who wouldn't have been crushed by the over if they had done an over/under bet on 10 issues. I read one issue and found it very confusing but I am old with old-man ways.

* it probably should be noted from a publishing perspective that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have found an approach that seems to work in terms of significant crow-funding payouts for 72-page comic book efforts.

* because of the tight margins that comic shops face with books they order -- and because of the sometimes rigid culture there due to the tight margins attracting a very devoted kind of businessperson that may have started a fan of a specific genre -- it is sometimes necessary for those backing works that are not mainstream superhero titles or high-concept genre works from established talent to do a bit of agitating during the ordering process. This is one of the better efforts I've seen, and that comic book looks fun. In fact, I think that comic book will be a modest hit, so you will likely be helping out your retailer if you get them to order a few copies.

* I will look forward to seeing a Chew/Revival crossover.

* finally, Arthur Magazine is done. They ran a lot of comics-related material. Good luck to Jay Babcock on his next life's journey, which I believe is this.

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Everett Raymond Kinstler

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Brigid Alverson has a nice write-up here on the state of manga in the French-language market. I guess the takeaways is supposed to be that it's down a bit, but I'm not sure why that's surprising. Eventually, most markets dip, and there are all sorts of good reasons why a market that has put out so much material over the last ten years would dip. It sure is interesting to note all the factors in play, though.

image* Bob Temuka writes about those funny Justice League comics from a generation ago, now.

* not comics: on constructing a twitter persona. I didn't think it would be news in February 2014 that twitter can help you craft better sentences or that dedicated tweeter have a lot in common with aphorists, but there you go.

* Reginald Stuart profiles John Lewis. Dan Kloeffler and Mary-Rose Abraham profile Al Jaffee. Michael Silverblatt talks to Junot Diaz and Jaime Hernandez. Albert Ching talks to Ted Adams. Elena Ferrarin profiles Chris Ecker.

* this Mike Richardson interview has received some buzz for an odd reason: Richardson claiming that Dark Horse spearheaded the creator-driven comics movement. I don't think that's tenable in any way, shape or form, and I'd love to hear Mike discuss why he think his company spearheaded something that seemingly had been around for years and years as a significant part of a couple dozen companies. I don't even mean that as a challenge, I'm genuinely interested in how he sees it: for instance, I don't know if he means they offered a certain way of approaching those comics no one did, or if he means they had a market impact that others didn't. I hope someone gets to follow up. As for the interview more generally, it seems to the person that recommended it to me that it's a very post-New Image Surge interview and I think that's a fair assessment. When creator-owned comics gain some traction, people start to carve out space for themselves in relation to those comics.

* Jason Sacks on Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me.

* finally, here is Vanessa Davis' response to Art Spiegelman's big art exhibit.
 
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Happy 84th Birthday, Gahan Wilson!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Mark Bodé!

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February 17, 2014


Friends And Peers: Catherine Peach, RIP

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1, 2, 3
 
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Go, Look: Bhanu Pratap

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Algerian Cartoonist Djamel Ghanem Faces 18 Months In Jail For Cartoon Depicting Algerian President

A young cartoonist named Djamel Ghanem working in his native Algeria apparently faces a jail sentence for a cartoon depicting that country's president, a report ripped across mostly French-language newswires the last week.

This is actually fairly far along. First thing that jumps out: it's an unpublished cartoon. Second: his former employer, a regime-fiendly newspaper called La Voix de L'Oranie, apparently brought the suit. Third, the cartoon didn't depict the president but mocked the implications of Abdelaziz Bouteflika seeking a fourth term by suggesting it infantalizes voters. Fourth, Ghanem hasn't been able to find work since -- he claims one paper was warned away from him -- and has even had difficulty finding a lawyer able to represent him in court.

The cartoon appeared before the court where he was and asked to admit that this was meant to insult the president, something denied by the cartoonist. There has been some in non-Algerian media and on-line, so clearly they're hoping for some international pressure for this bizarre turn of events, which stinks from an idea of a law that makes it impossible to criticize the policies of an elected official all the way to the fact that Ghanem is now basically on the sidelines and unable to make comics that might have an effect on the current political landscape. As one on-line petition points out, this law can be applied to anyone criticizing any number of official figures.

I don't see any reason you couldn't sign your name to this petition, but my French isn't always great. Here's an interview which contributed to the English-language piece to which I linked above.

I can't find the cartoon. There may be a little bit of dissonance here: this article suggests a year rather than 18 months is in question and some sort of pay issue may be involved. Still, if what is claimed for this case is even half-true, it's an ugly thing.
 
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Go, Look: Junk Gallery

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Missed It: ZAPP Move From Hugo House Into Storage

Paul Constant had a short piece up here that indicated the Zine Archive And Publishing Project has moved into storage following a last day at Seattle's storied Hugo House. That's a unique resource, so I hope they end up on their feet somewhere, and I hope some of you out there might e-mail me as soon as there's word as to what their plans are.
 
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Go, Look: Rich Buckler Avengers Splash Pages

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Go, Look: Married Creators On Comic Book Sexism

There's a kernel of a good idea in this article looking at comics industry and comics culture sexism through the eyes of various married couples where both of the folks in the question work in the industry to some capacity. There would have to be some unique sensitivities and perspectives there. It seems like the article basically visits the neighborhood and points at a few buildings rather than gets into much of anything, though. Still, it's good to talk about this issue in as many ways as is possible to talk about it. And then talk about it some more.
 
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Go, Look: Nocturno

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Go, Read: Profile Of Vermont's Cartoonist Laureate Ed Koren

I think it's perfectly if the primary use of a "cartoonist laureate" designation is that we stop and take stock of those that hold that honor. It was fun to re-appreciate James Kochalka a few years ago, and it's going to be fun getting to know Ed Koren again. Or maybe we're getting to know him the first time: the work is distinctive, but I'm not sure how familiar comics fans are with the person behind them. I'm not. One thing that comes out in these articles is the "Vermontishness" of the work in question, and I think that's an interesting way to look at Koren's cartoons. Everyone really does look like they drive Subarus. I'd just be happy to take a look at those art cabinets.
 
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Go, Look: The Warmth Of Mother Earth

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* PM Press is kickstarting a collection of WW3 Illustrated, the kind of project that seems perfectly, spiritually suited to crowd-funding.

* Meredith Gran's Patreon campaign continue to plug along -- it was right at $700 at 3:42 AM MT Sunday morning. I want to keep an eye on that one because I think Gran has a fan base that's somewhere between a primarily print comics cartoonist of similar skill and popularity and one of the webcomics cartoonists of the more-likely-to-gush, follow-them-everywhere, the-ride-is-fun variety. Again, there's no value judgment in any of that, and these are distinctions that probably only make sense to me. But I bet a bigger chunk of those exhibiting at a CAB will sit up and take notice of what Gran is doing than they would some of the other cartoonists that have already crushed it, and I'm interested to see if those kinds of cartoonist would flock to a funding mechanism. That said, that a few cartoonists have already crushed it? We're going to see a few dozen similar campaigns this Spring, almost certainly. One thing to look for if that becomes the case is if there are simlarities between a range of successful projects beyond success in fundraisers going in: the nature of the appeal, or the way things are constructed, or even type of project.

* the writer Mark Hale is heading into the final days of a fundraiser, if you've ever enjoyed his work and want to pitch in.

* the Robyn Chapman fundraiser on behalf of Characters is probably either right at or right past its goals by the time this post rolls out. Chapman talks about her use of the kickstarter site as a distribution mechanism here, which is interesting to me in that I thought steps had been taken to discourage the use of that platform that way.

* it looks like Rob Clough could use some more help. I have absolutely zero money to donate anything right this moment, but I hope to once I have some. Rob Clough does excellent, hard-lifting work as a front-line reviewer.

* an article at ComicsAlliance and an interview with Bill Baker mark Jackie Estrada's last week doing a crowd-funder for a book of comics-related photographs.

* don't think I'd noticed that the writer Kelly Thompson has a kickstarter going -- already at 200 percent of monies asked for. I don't know Thompson but she's a peer and I link to her reviews when I can.

* finally, 2D Cloud has a sale going on. The margins on small-press publishing are razor thin -- well, whenever they're positive; they can go big into the negatives. So while this isn't connected to a fundraising effort I'm sure they could make use of any money you might want to spend on their published works.
 
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If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In East Lansing, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Adi Granov Portraits Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Harry Backlund digs into the Wordless! shows in which Art Spiegelman is primarily involved. Those look really cool.

image* not sure how I found this link, but here's Farel Dalrymple after John Buscema.

* Paul O'Brien writes a bit about the concept of #1 issues in mainstream comics given 1) they happen all the time now, 2) there are actually ways to have #1 issues that aren't having #1 issues and these are more prevalent now, too.

* congratulations to all of those in comics who became engaged, involved and/or otherwise experienced real human happiness on the occasion of Valentine's Day weekend. I hate you.

* Joseph Remnant draws a candy store. Michael Cho draws Superman.

* Kelly Thompson on She-Hulk #1. Joe Gordon on The Nightly News and The Royals, Masters Of War #1. Richard Bruton on Lighter Than My Shadow.

* a bit more on one of the great re-discoveries of recent years, The Bungle Family.

* Chris Sims' contempt for Bob Kane is truly one of the funniest threads of commentary on the comics Internet.

* young Lauren Weinstein let Lynn Johnston do the talking.

* on the X-Men and quiche.

* finally, Bully has it right at the end, there. This is the entire Silver Age in one comics panel. Nothing funnier has ever lurched out of a mainstream, square-ish expression of creative energy than the Bizarro comics.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Hiroaki Samura!

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February 16, 2014


CR Sunday Interview: Joe Casey

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*****

imageI've known the writer Joe Casey for a little over ten years now, which means I've known him for the majority of a career that already seemed old when we talked in a stale, pre-media hub backroom at Meltdown Comics for a Comics Journal interview. I've interviewed him every two or three years since. What I admire about Casey's relationship to comics right now is that despite concurrent opportunities and responsibilities in other media he has sustained a full-on press doing a variety of creator-driven projects. The Bounce and Sex are at the heart of his current output; he's also responsible for a series using the Dark Horse-owned superhero comics from a generation ago. Since we began talking over an excruciating several month period completely my fault because of a desire to use what follows in a slightly different way than usual -- I've since backtracked, so you get it here in its full glory -- Casey has completed one giant Jack Kirby-related project (GØDLAND, which worked with much of the same language of "cosmic comics" the King of Comics used at times) and begun another (writing with a number of talented artists on the latest Captain Victory project; a concept owned by Kirby).

I appreciate Joe's time, patience, work, and, ultimately, his candor. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Joe, I'm sort of fascinated by the fact that we have so many productive writers that have been around comics for years and years now. You have a lot more on your plate now than when we first talked a decade ago. Do you write differently now? How is the actual act of writing, how you make the time, how you use that time, different than when you started?

JOE CASEY: Y'know, it's a little tough to get any real perspective on how I manage my time these days. Maybe that's because there's a lot on my plate at any given moment. Sometimes I think I'm Mister Time Management, really on top of all my shit. Other times, I'm really behind the eight ball, just scrambling to keep up with everything. But that push and pull... it's the nature of the beast, no doubt about it. This is the life I chose, so I'm sure as hell not gonna bitch about it too much. In fact, I feel like right now I'm more committed than ever to actually making comic books. I hope that's the case, anyway. All the animation and television and feature work flying around always threatens to be a distraction, as much as they're opportunities, too. On top of that, it's not like I'm phoning in superhero scripts to Marvel or DC on the side... my comic book work consists primarily of creator-owned series that take a lot of attention and a lot of focus to keep them going at a certain standard of quality. I don't know if I write any differently now, but I do know it definitely takes more effort to set aside time to write comic books in the specific manner I like to do it. But so far, so good.



SPURGEON: Do you feel a kinship to the writer you used to be? Are there things that you used to write about that are less interesting to you now? What about things that you never thought you'd engage that you're engaging? It seems to me there's a thematic continuity, but that you may approach things in a more focused manner project to project.

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CASEY: On the rare instance when I do cast a backwards glance, it's pretty obvious to me that the writer I used to be was incredibly naive. Probably in a good way, but naive nonetheless. But, then again -- to indulge in a painful cliché -- the world was very different then. My career path happened to coincide with two evolving circumstances that, over a space of ten years or so, completely had an effect on me and my work that I never could've anticipated. And, I might add, neither one really exists anymore. The first was already occurring when I broke in... the "writer-driven" era of mainstream comics. I've said this before, but it was something that I was able to take full advantage of, I definitely used it to further my career and position myself in the industry and all that crap. So, y'know, yay for me. But I never could've predicted that I'd have that kind of lucky timing.

The second thing was the... legitimizing of comic book creators within other areas of entertainment. Or, more specifically, "Hollywood" (to use that nebulously goofy term). As anyone who was around back then probably remembers, in the mid-90's, comic book creators were not taken too seriously as creative entities outside of comics. There were exceptions... but those exceptions had tended to leave comic books behind altogether to assimilate more fully into the machinery of Hollywood. And, more often than not, those guys simply became cogs in that machine, not the powerhouses they were considered to be in comics fandom. And in other cases, creators eventually came running back to comics where they realized they had it pretty good (in terms of basic creative freedoms and productivity, if not in terms of money). So just as things started to genuinely turn in our favor, there I was, ready to take advantage, just like a lot of creators of my generation. It's allowed things like Ben 10 or Generator Rex or the X-Men: Legends videogame or Man Of Action's feature slate or our executive producer/showrunner gigs to happen in a much healthier environment ("healthier" being a relative term, of course).

And, as I said, both of those circumstances have pretty much come and gone at this point. Mainstream comics are completely and totally editorially-driven now, maybe to a fault. But, then again, who am I to say that? They're certainly adept at making money, which is probably their primary function these days. So, hey, good for them. And the Hollywood thing... well, the novelty of it has worn off. We've got more power and respectability in the Hollywood arena, but we're also a dime a dozen (which, ironically, ends up limiting that power). Let's put it this way: Frank Miller co-directed a big hit, based on his own comic book property... then he directed a big, fat bomb, based on one of the masters of the medium's most famous strip. That sentence alone would've been almost inconceivable 15 years ago, outside of our geek dreams. Now we can speak it out loud and no one even blinks in mild disbelief.

To get back to the meat of your question, how it affects my work -- how I'm approaching it now -- is something that's tougher to identify. Especially from my perspective. Believe it or not, I think the avalanche of work I currently deal with has resulted in my comic book work being less... posed. Is that the word for it? It's much less self-conscious. It's more personal. Even the genre stuff. Hell, especially the genre stuff. So I guess I let my personal issues hang out there a bit more. Conversely, I think maybe I've gotten more refined at my craft, so those issues are less identifiable in the actual text. Or subtext, as the case may be. But, to me, I'm putting a lot more out there for the world to see. For me, that's the "thematic continuity" that I can identify. Feel free to disagree with that...

SPURGEON: I think that's a fair assessment, Joe, but I'm interested in both the how and the why of that general theory. Can you point to something that expressed itself in one of your comics from the last five years -- or if you don't want to pull back the curtain, a plot point or a narrative sequence in your comic -- that would have been out of bounds in 1998. And also: why do you think you're a different writer then you were 15 years ago? Because I know you know enough about comics history to know that not everyone changes. Was it a matter of developing a skill set that allowed you to say certain things? Is it about realizing you can say certain things through your work that you never thought about exploring there?

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CASEY: I think, more than anything, I started to relax a little bit and just tried to think of cool shit to do in comic books. But, in doing that, even more of my personality started to bubble up in the work. It hasn't been a conscious thing at all, but it's definitely happened and when I look at the last few years, I can see it pretty clearly. I think something as over-the-top as Butcher Baker actually contains some of my most subtle character work, in terms of how it relates back to me and my own life. I think the GØDLAND finale expresses a very emotional worldview, even amidst all the cosmic spectacle and purple prose. I'm talking about some really "uncool" ideas in there, but they're incredibly important to me, personally. And the entire conceit of The Bounce has a lot to do with what's happening in my life right now, and what's been happening the past couple of years, but you'd probably have to know me really well to see past the nouveau superhero story that exists on its surface and understand what I'm really talking about. So I don't shy away from working through some of my personal shit through my work, but luckily I think my chops are developed enough now that I'm never shoving it in anybody's face. It's never blatant to the point of being distracting.

So I'm even more committed to the concept of personal expression through artistic endeavor. I mean, I always have been, to a certain extent... but as a younger writer, I wasn't good enough to pull it off in any meaningful way. I had raw energy, but no real finesse. To do this work well, I think you need both in equal measure. I've got a little more mileage now, been knocked down a few times, I've seen more shit go down around me. You can have any number of responses to the passage of time... it can make you cynical, it can wear you down to a nub, it can infect you with all sorts of negativity if you think the world is somehow passing you by. But for me, I just get more charged up to keep creating, to keep pushing myself, to try and discover new places to take this art form. I'm still a big process junkie, but I suppose I'm more interested in harnessing process knowledge to achieve some sort of deeper self-discovery through the work itself, both in the doing of it and in the finished product.

I'm sure that comes across like a lot of bullshit, New Age-y rhetoric, talking about it in an interview like this. But it's not talked about enough in this industry, on the "mainstream" side especially. High concept is all well and good, and I appreciate it, but that's certainly not all there is to being a creative artist. Y'know, "making it" or being successful is just a small component in the overall scheme of things. I'm trying to know myself better, and a lot of that can happen through the work that I do, the things I create. 



SPURGEON: You enjoyed a lot of success early on and you're one of the guys that has enjoyed enough success that you're a model for how some folks would like their careers to progress... is that a difficult transition, from this kind of watching people and seeking out models to having people look at you that way?

CASEY: I think "success" is all about how you look at it, how you choose to define it for yourself. Just getting into this business on any level was the only kind of success I ever dreamed about, ever since I was a kid. I just wanted to be in the mix somehow. So, what's happened since has been pretty mind-blowing. But I also I think I had some lucky breaks early on and I know I worked my ass off to take full advantage of every opportunity that was presented to me. That's how I look at it now. Besides, I really don't think I'm much of a career role model, either. Nor should I be. I started out just wanting a career... I ended up having my career. And no one else is going to have my career. 



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SPURGEON: For that matter, you have a body of work now, you're a known creative quantity. Is it odd -- is it even aggravating -- to encounter your own work in re-purposed form? I see bits and pieces of what you did in The Intimates, what you've done with Iron Man, what you did with WildCATS popping here and there... do you consider just part of the creative cycle, or do younger writers process their influences differently now?

CASEY: Oh, that. [Spurgeon laughs] Well... que sera, sera, right? I think, at first, it was weird to see little things I'd done, techniques I'd tried, concepts I'd explored, show up in other comic books, especially in certain instances when it was just so goddamn obvious. And even certain things, approaches, ideas, opinions on craft that were, at best, tolerated and, at worst, vilified when I would do them. Then again, those instances are still so few and far between... especially when you consider how much has been lifted from guys like Frank Miller, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis and Grant Morrison over the years. Warren and Garth, in particular, don't get nearly the amount of credit they deserve for contributing to the comic book writer's toolbox as much as they did.

But that's a good part of what writing is... you read something, see something, hear something, whatever it is... you're inspired by it, you want to test drive it for yourself or you simply assimilate it and it shows up in your own work. Those creators I name-checked... they're obviously influenced by other sources, too. There are countless things that I've lifted from other, better writers than me over the years. So many great writers have inspired me in so many ways, I guess I do look at it as just part of the ongoing creative chain, and we're all just links in that big chain. And I'm still on the lookout for new things to (hopefully) influence me, inside and outside of comics. I'll admit, it gets tougher to be as much of a student as I used to be, the deeper into my career that I get, but I'm still out there trying...



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SPURGEON: You noted the passing of editor/translator Kim Thompson, and talked about how important his stint at Amazing Heroes was in processing a view of the industry that corresponded to the work you were seeing. Do you still do that? Do you still pay attention to the milieu in which comics are created? Do you see major differences between the industry you entered and the one in which you're working now?

CASEY: I suppose I pay as much attention as my job demands. Or as much as I feel like at any given moment. Take your pick. But, admittedly, I'm not the comic book reader that I used to be, and I'm certainly not hip-deep in those larger, behind-the-curtain conversations like I had been previously. I hear my share of gossip, just like everyone else does.

But, y'know, I'm just not all that interested in who's next up at bat writing or drawing Firestorm or whatever big event the WFH publishers are planning and what they have to say about it. And even though the readership -- for mainstream comics, at least -- skews a lot older than it did when I was a teenager reading Amazing Heroes and TCJ and Comics Interview, most things still seem to be marketed as though the audience exists at that level, which is weird enough. And add to that, we're living in an Access Hollywood/TMZ-era of entertainment journalism, which was bound to spread to our "milieu", too. So from my vantage point, there's so much bullshit flying around... no one's informed enough to be able to tell real truth to power, if anyone's even interested in that kind of thing anymore (and I'm not sure I am, either). That didn't really exist 20 years ago when I was on the other side of the gig, trying to understand all the moving parts of the overall machine. And, of course, there were a few less moving parts back then, too.

I do think it's ironic that, the bigger the comic book industry gets, in terms of perception and money and Hollywood connections and corporate branding concerns, it seems like it's a lot easier for new writers to break in and make a name for themselves. Overall, that's a good thing for the newbies and the hopefuls out there. Then again, the trade-off seems to be that you can have more "success" -- i.e. more visibility, more assignments -- if you're willing to suppress personal vision and fall in line with the needs of the corporate overlords (bear in mind, I'm using the term "overlords" in a completely tongue-in-cheek way... in reality, labeling them as "overlords" probably gives them way too much credit). And for less money, too. In my first few years as a working pro, I kinda stumbled my way through things and was lucky enough to find my voice and establish some sort of quirky brand despite my ignorance, and despite occasionally -- sometimes even inadvertently -- pissing off my share of overlords. But these days you really gotta know how to dance if you want to avoid the quicksand that exists out there.

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SPURGEON: One through-line to our many discussions is that creator's rights has been sublimated into a more general push and pull of abuse and exploitation at the companies. There are a couple of recent developments that I wonder if you could talk about in terms of what you just said in response to the last question, and our general discussion on such matters. The first is the rise of sort-of mainstream alternatives: you're seeing writers settling in not just at Image but at places like IDW and Boom in a much more significant way than you were five years ago. I assume there's a market element to that -- there are only so many chairs -- but I also assume there's a massive quality of life/quality of work issue involved. Also, I wondered if you had response to Mark Waid posting a lengthy essay on this matter aimed at just the kind of names-getting-out-there emerging talent you just talked about?

CASEY: I feel like we've probably touched on this before, but I still contend that part of it is that, as a creator/freelancer in this industry, you'll end up enduring as much "abuse" as you allow yourself to endure. As usual, Waid provides a lot of spot-on insights. He's a natural mentor, so when he talks, it's a smart idea to pay attention. I think new writers -- either already working or aiming to work in the so-called mainstream -- should always strive to see things as they really are, not how they would like things to be.

My friends and I have talked recently about how this new generation of mainstream comic book writers -- folks that have broken in at the Big Two over the last five or six years -- were completely unprepared for the editorial climate that exists now. These guys thought they were breaking into the same writer-driven WFH industry that I did... an industry that my generation thrived in. And so they project themselves like a second-rate Warren Ellis or Mark Millar or even Mark Waid circa 2000, with all the bluster and ego that those guys could easily get away with back then. These newer writers... a lot of them put their "personas" out there and I'm assuming they expect the publishers, editors, etc. to automatically accommodate them and -- as we've seen at DC Comics in particular -- it doesn't get them nearly as far as it did for the writers of the previous generation (if, in fact, it gets them anywhere at all).

In other words, in a writer-driven WFH industry, a writer can obviously swing his dick pretty far and wide and get tangible results. In an editorially-driven WFH industry, not so much. But it's fun to watch some of them try. If anything, the publishers seem to allow the pretense of a writer-driven industry to persist -- when it clearly no longer does -- because it allows them to better control the writers who work for them. Now... is that "abuse"? Not really. But these writers ought to know better.

But, y'know, a few of these new guys seem to have a lot on the ball... it won't take them long to figure out some new way to maneuver this weird corporate minefield and hopefully make it work to their advantage. But they're not quite there yet, and there's just no need for all the Y2K-era posing that happens with quite a few of them. That specific environment no longer exists, so let's not keep acting like it does. The future -- even at Marvel and DC -- still contains infinite possibilities, but it's never going to get to that next stage until the new guys start standing up straight and upsetting a few apple carts, and not only through their work.

Being on this side of it now, I do still find it all pretty goddamn fascinating, y'know? And, of course, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the new generation of mainstream comic book writers actually do dream of being packed together in some faux TV-style writers' room situation for days at a time to have their ideas and their stories "vetted" and their individual voices suppressed, instead of doing what all of their heroes did (and probably still do) when they made comic books... which was to sit in a room all by themselves -- with their keyboards or their art tables and their singular imaginations and their own creative sensibilities -- and just slog it out month in, month out. Countless classics were born out of that method. Would Alan Moore ever have subjected himself to a writers' room in order to make comic books? Would Frank Miller? Would Steranko? Was the work you'll find in The Best of Milligan & McCarthy made that way? Was Starlin's Warlock? Was Morrison's Doom Patrol? Or [Walt] Simonson's Thor? Or [Howard] Chaykin's Blackhawk? Or Elektra: Assassin? Or Hitman? Or Master of Kung Fu? If those comics set the bar for you -- and they have for me -- it kinda makes you think, doesn't it...?

I'm not trying to sound cranky here. I honestly don't have a dog in this fight. But I've put in my hours in those types of rooms, in comic books and in television. I left Marvel Comics -- this was pre-[Bill] Jemas/[Joe] Quesada -- when that same kind of interference fucked me off, too. So I feel like I know what I'm talking about here. These days, I just think there's more individualized talent out there than the corporate publishers are set up to handle. And it's not even that the Big Two are so conservative in their ideas -- they do their fair share of crazy shit -- it's just a very different climate that's become more and more difficult to subvert. And I think there's been enough examples historically of creators subverting these corporate IP's that prove that's what can drive sales and, more importantly, attract new or lapsed audiences. But that's not a top-down management philosophy, so I can't see that kind of subversion happening again anytime soon.

SPURGEON: Quick follow-up on Waid. He didn't name names. There's a criticism that flashes every so often that when guys like you and Mark are critical of the industry but won't put a face on what you feel is happening that isn't right, you're sacrificing some of the power of your criticisms but also allowing people to kind of pretend that there aren't real people at the heart of these decisions, that there's a systematic broken-ness in which even the people doling out whatever abuse are hostages. I know how difficult it is to name names because even when there are only a few names involved -- like say with Before Watchmen -- things can get ugly and defensive and really heated really quickly. It's a small room, comics. Do we need to name names? How much of comics' creator-rights issues are systemic and how much are the actions and choices made by people?

CASEY: I would agree that it's probably more the game and not the players. So... naming names? There's also such a thing as professional decorum, Tom. Y'know, we try to traffic in it every so often, when we can. But I would also say that some of the players -- maybe even a good number of them -- do have the power to change the game and they make the choice not to, because it doesn't serve their own personal/professional needs. Some have, but most don't. It's an old story, isn't it? When you're on the outside, looking in, you see all the flaws in the system, you shake your fist at it and vow, "When I get in, I'll change the whole goddamn thing! I'll make it better for everyone!" But then you enter the game, you learn the rules just to stay in it, you take it in the ass for years, you work your way to the top (such as it is)... and at that point, why would you bother with changing the game? I mean, why change a system that you've finally mastered? It takes a real visionary -- with a helluva strong back -- to work their way through a system, to make it work for them to the point where they have real success, and still hold on to that goal to change it.

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SPURGEON: I want to ask about a bunch of your projects over the last two or three years, some which are probably way closer to your heart than others, but bear with me. I thought it interesting to read you think out loud on a sort of hired-gun project you did for Marvel called Vengeance. You kind of sussed out, or seemed to be sussing out, that the overall Marvel story had some thematic lapses, in that its villains didn't have a place in the general thematic arc, and that you were kind of poking around the idea of disillusionment and the shock of an adult sensibility being thrust upon teens as a way of getting to why those characters behave that way in those stories. I don't know if you want to comment on the specific construction, but I wondered if you could talk about the need to feel your way through thematic issues when you take on a story like that. Because that seemed to be where the fun was for you.

CASEY: These days, when I take on a WFH comics gig, I'm more interested in fucking with certain expectations of the form than I am in fulfilling some editorial mandate (or even a perceived fan mandate, outside of my own). I can do both, but I have to be honest where my personal interests lie. It's obviously good fun to get paid to, as you said, "think out loud". I'm certainly musing on comi books -- where they're at, what they're meant to be -- even as I'm writing them. In this case, musing on Marvel Comics specifically. And, of course, working with Nick Dragotta was a complete revelation. He was ready to experiment as much as I was. And, like I said before, it's interesting now, a few years on from Vengeance having been released, how other creators at Marvel will pick at its bones, using characters we created, etc. Dragotta and I have a good laugh about that.

And on the "meta" side of things, that book in particular was our commentary on the so-called "event" book. Ever since Marvel and DC brought them back in the mid-Aughts, they've gotten more and more bloated while containing less and less thematic resonance. I mean, at least something like Marvel's Civil War made a half-assed attempt to be relevant to the times it was being published in. DC's Final Crisis was a reflection of Grant's specific take on the mythology of that universe, a personal vision at work, which I'm always interested in seeing. But beyond those examples, most event books seem pretty out-of-control to me, and just getting all the issues (and their tie-ins) out on time seems to take precedent over telling a resonant story.

Y'know, I've occasionally been asked to do that kind of work, to play around on the periphery of these events, and in that respect all I really know how to do at this particular point in my career is to kinda take the piss out of them. The Zodiac book that Nathan Fox and I did for Marvel... that was all about looking at their continuity at the time, where the Green Goblin -- sorry, Norman Osborn -- had legitimately taken some high-level executive position in the United States government, which I thought was a goofy enough idea that I couldn't not comment on its inherent goofiness. That is part of the fun of it all, the slightly subversive nature of it. So that book was a bit of a piss-take, and God bless Marvel for actually publishing it. It sold well enough and I guess they got a good, new character out of it. All's fair in love and comics.

I do think I've done my best WFH stuff when I've been slightly on the outside, looking in. I'm pretty proud of quite a few of those Marvel books: Vengeance, Zodiac, First Family, The Last Defenders, the two Iron Man mini-series, the Earth's Mightiest Heroes series I did. I was given pretty free reign -- which, in this case, means I had some good, soild editorial guidance but no editorial interference -- and I brought a certain point of view to each of them. Not to mention, the high caliber of artists I worked with on them. I suppose they were all my vision of what a "Marvel comic" should be (if there really is such a thing anymore), and how many cult-level creators get to claim that these days?

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SPURGEON: Something I always wanted to ask someone who does their own superhero genre material and also works within established property sets: is it ever exhausting to build a house from the ground up to serve a specific story? Do you sometimes feel like you're doing that thing where a set designer will build a working intercom on a stageplay set that no one will ever use, that you're burning a lot of energy for a verisimilitude that's demanded by an audience ahead of any reasonable expectation put on most genres?

CASEY: On the one hand, it's incredibly difficult and it takes an enormous amount of bandwidth to really do it right. And I'll be the first one to admit, I really don't know how good (or bad) I am at it... because as much pre-planning and prep work I try to do on these things, I still end up having to invent things on the fly and make them seem like they've been there all along.

For instance, take the urban geography in Sex... obviously I knew all the boroughs of Saturn City beforehand, I knew the name of the main river, etc. I knew there was a city-wide, fast food chain of Mexican restaurants called "La Bomba De Taco" and other similar details. But, at the same time, I didn't know where the Alpha Brothers hung their hats at night, when they weren't out being gangsters, collecting their protection money. I found myself writing issue #10 and I had to figure that out on the spot.

And even beyond stupid shit like that, you're right, there are details within details within details that make up a fully fleshed-out fictional world... most of which will never be picked up on by the reader. But, of course, I need a lot of those details in place to be able to write with some level of authenticity. Because -- and this is where the other hand comes in -- I'm just enough of a creative control freak to love this shit. The deeper I can go, the better the experience is for me. So, yeah, it a burns a ton of energy... but I've got a ton of energy to burn.

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SPURGEON: A lot of your more recent projects have a curious energy, which is interesting to me in that it's not a break from past work but kind of plays up a different element of it. There's a fecundity to stories like Butcher Baker that really pops for me when I go back and look at that work -- it's sensual in an overheated way. I don't know if it's a more appropriate question to that work or to your work overall, but how important is it to you to capture a certain overripe quality with some of these works, this feeling of bodies and violence and a certain level of heated interpersonal relationships? I think your "cool" comics may get attention than your warmer ones, if that makes any sense.

CASEY: I get what you're saying. In terms of what gets more attention, I think it's just the nature of the game, and the milieu I tend to operate in. I'm not claiming to be doing Art Comix by any stretch of the imagination (even though I feel like there's an element of that in certain things that I do). Most of what I do are intentionally commercial endeavors and part of their commerciality is what I like to call the "flip-through feeling". Basically, it's when you're in a comic book store and you pick up something new and do the cursory flip-through, just to get a sense of what it is you're sampling (and possibly purchasing). Well, there's a specific energy that comes from that flip-through, a kind of vibration that comes out of the book, travels through your hands and eyes and gets into your nervous system when you're experiencing your very first taste of something exciting. It's a first impression, basically, but it can be an incredibly powerful thing.

Imagine -- or remember -- going into a store and flipping through the first issue of something like Elektra: Assassin. Or American Flagg!. Or maybe Grendel #13 (the first Bernie Mireault-drawn issue). Or Grant's JLA #1. Or even Paul Pope's Battling Boy or Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree, to name some more recent releases. There's something undeniable that happens when you're simply absorbing the initial vibe of the product you're holding in your hands for the very first time. An inexplicable excitement. Colors leaping off the pages. Out-of-context imagery that sticks out in your mind. It's got nothing to do with the actual narrative, it's just an initial sensory input experience... but one that might forever influence how you feel about a particular piece of work. To me, that's powerful shit.

A book like Butcher Baker is, on some level, specifically designed to try and provide that experience. Hopefully, the book goes on to fulfill whatever promise that the "flip-through feeling" might give you. But I knew it was going to be one of those comic books that, as I said, practically vibrates in your hands when you first get a hold of it. It's an interesting aesthetic to actually strive for, since most of the time, in most books, it one of those things that just happens. But I was interested in doing a book that was very conscious of that experience.

With the hardcover collection that's out now... its low-fi design approach is meant to evoke a different feeling than the single issues did. It's more subversive, but maybe more indicative of the narrative itself. But the hope is still that we're providing a unique experience for the reader. To me, most commercial-minded, corporate comic books don't seem to have that goal. They're more about providing information, whether it's continuity-based information or the necessary info to set up the next event story or serving a publisher's more corporate-minded, synergistic responsibilities to the greater brand. And don't get me wrong... I'm glad that schism exists. It gives me more elbow room to operate as more of an independent, to do my thing.

How Butcher Baker fits into my oeuvre (to use an incredibly pretentious word to describe my body of work) is a separate issue. I do think it was, for me, a personally transformative work just like Automatic Kafka was for me a decade earlier. Just the process of doing it opened me up a little more. It showed me something about myself that was useful -- and maybe even vital -- to the work that came after it. It's been awhile since I've really looked at it, but in my mind, it's one of the more effective things I've done in comic books. And, of course, Huddleston's art in it is pretty fucking breathtaking, too.

imageSPURGEON: One way to look at Butcher Baker is a deconstruction of America-first superheroes, soldiers and favorite sons granted special powers in times of war by some sort of brain trust. In other words, it seems to be about a type of storytelling or character as much as it is a vehicle for a story or a character. When you're working with a character like that, is the commentary on the type that develops accidental or purposeful? Do you still have some interest in poking or prodding at the genres in which you work?

CASEY: Well, y'know... the notion of "meta-commentary" -- even in commercial comic books -- has existed from way back. One of the earliest examples came from the masters themselves, Lee and Kirby, in Fantastic Four #1. Remember what those guys were doing in the years right before they kicked off the Marvel Universe... generic, simplistic monster comics that no one really gave a shit about. What's the FF's first adventure? They fight generic, simplistic monsters... and then bury them in the ground forever. Pretty obvious, right? Were they conscious of it? Who knows? But it's right there.

And for me, if I'm really going to peel that onion, I guess I feel like both meta-commentary and especially outright satire were important parts of my personal comic book reading experiences in the 70's and 80's. In other words, my formative years. There's a ton of it in the books that are now considered seminal to a lot of people of my generation and beyond. But not only were those aspects often very subtle, there were other more obvious, more populist aspects to those books that were picked up on and imitated by a lot more people. I mean, let's face it, so-called "dark realism" is a lot easier to emulate than to strive for the insight and intelligence it takes to pull off effective satire. So, the satire got kinda forgotten by the professional generation that followed (or, even worse, it was done badly). But I never forgot about it. In fact, to me, pop culture in general has become so incredibly self-aware that to not include some satire/meta-commentary in my work would just seem weird. It's just adding another dimension to an art form that should be as multi-dimensional as possible.

So, yeah, to get back to your question... the Butcher Baker character is absolutely a take on the gung ho "super soldier" type. It's not jingoism, in terms of being overtly "pro-America", because I don't think he was. Butcher was simply the self-actualized hero on the back nine of his career, cashing in on his own iconography to get laid. That was the archetype I thought would be interesting to explore. But certainly, a character like that, you're leaning into particular tropes that, at this point, most superhero comic book readers are pretty familiar with.

As far as being a "type" of story... I'm not sure I thought any more deeply than writing a balls-to-the-wall exploitation comic book. I'm sure that, in itself, is a type of story. And as I'm doing it, I'm also pretty sure that different levels within the work will present themselves. Either I discount them or I embrace them, depending on what feels appropriate at the moment I'm writing it. I know I don't set any hard and fast rules for myself, in relation to what you're asking. Then again, I've been doing this long enough now that things rarely "just happen", if you catch my drift.

SPURGEON: There were two interesting contextual moments in the way Butcher Baker was processed. The first is that it was the recipient of a mystery teaser campaign -- so I wondered what you might have learned about the audience right now doing that -- and the other is that there are all sorts of elements in there that are extreme when engaged on the surface, the nudity and violence, that it changes the way we might process the story. You have to be aware of that? Was that an intentional effect? Is there an audience takeaway from Butcher Baker that you were particularly gratified to see.

CASEY: I'm sure I said this somewhere before, but that whole Butcher Baker teaser campaign, putting out one a day for a month, was pure performance art. Yeah, okay... it was a way to announce the existence of the book. But that was almost secondary to the challenge of making the teaser campaign work as its own weird kind of storytelling exercise. I think it was a little ahead of its time... had we done something like that a few years later, now that Image Comics are riding a much healthier sales wave, I think it really would've primed the pump and the book would've sold a lot better.

I saw a few reactions from people that seemed to suggest that Butcher Baker got them more excited about comics in general, more excited about the potential of the medium. That was pretty gratifying. I think that has a lot to do with that "flip-through feeling". There's just a particular energy that comes out of that series that seemed to be somewhat contagious. Maybe it was my own balls-out attitude at the time really coming through in the work itself. To have your own, personal excitement actually translate to readers is a pretty special thing.

SPURGEON: Do you like the publishing elements putting your books together? Because a lot of the assignment and the nuts and bolts work are left to you in a way they aren't at the big companies? Is there a time doing one of the Image books you were particularly happy with a choice you made in presentation or creative time?

CASEY: To have that level of control over your own work... it's a blessing and a curse. Y'know, when I was a kid and I drew my own stupid comic books, I would draw covers with everything on them. If I was doing my version of a Marvel comic, I'd draw the old 70's masthead across the top of the cover and the issue number box, I'd put in the price and the Comics Code seal. I'd draw all of it. Badly, of course, but it all had to be there for it to feel "legitimate" to me. So, the overall look of a comic book -- even the "nuts and bolts" work -- was something I paid close attention to early on. Maybe that seeded some sort of obsessive compulsiveness in me when it comes to design and packaging. I have zero training in it, but I stick my nose in it, regardless.

I've had opportunities to do it at the big publishers, too. The Uncanny X-Men covers that happened early in my ill-fated run, I had a pretty heavy hand in those designs. It was just me and Ian Churchill and Richard Starkings working together to make something we hoped would signal a new era in design at Marvel. Not a lot of editorial input there, we were trusted to come up with something cool. I did it again on my Wildstorm books, especially the Wildcats Version 3.0 covers and the Intimates covers, working with the artists and Rian Hughes. Those turned out pretty good, too. I'm pretty sure that amount of control just wouldn't happen these days.

On the Image books, I've worked with really good people there, too. Richard Starkings in the beginning, then Drew Gill for awhile and now Sonia Harris pretty much exclusively. Lately, it's gotten a lot more fun, because I'm more inclined these days to more or less throw any perceived "rules" completely out the window and see how different and (hopefully) unique we can make these things look, from a design point of view. Fortunately, not only is Sonia great at what she does, she's willing go to those strange places with me and see what comes of it. She takes my numbskulled notions and executes them flawlessly, makes them actually work. She's also been putting together the teasers and the house ads on the most recent series. It's definitely an important part of the whole process for me. The "curse" part of it is that it's clearly an area where you can easily nit-pick something to death, all in the hopes of getting things just right aesthetically. Sometimes it can drive you fucking nuts. And it's not like there's any correct way to do it. There really is no rulebook for these things. So, in that respect, it all comes down to my own opinion. Again, for better or for worse.

So when I think back, over the past few series, I've been pretty happy with the look and the design of everything that's come out, from the teasers to the monthly comic books to the collected editions. And every time I've thought I might be tapped out, that I had no more new ideas or inspiration on how to present these things, some random idea has presented itself and set us down a path to some new avenue of design.

imageSPURGEON: To what extent do you consider the artists with who you work co-authors? Or do you consider them something else, like collaborators? I so think of books like Butcher Baker, and Sex and Bounce as yours while at the same totally realzing that the work on the page is a collaboration. I see yours as the primary authorial voice. There's a lot of pushback against that notion right now in comics, that every collaborator -- or at least the primary artist -- is a co-author?

CASEY: Is there a lot of pushback? I guess I'm not paying close enough attention, but like I said before, I'm well aware that the writer-driven era of comic books is pretty much over, so maybe it's more of a meritocracy out there, in terms of whose name is driving sales (if it's not just brand names alone at this point). And that's actually just fine with me. I squeezed a lot of juice out of that grape, but it's interesting to imagine what might be coming next, in terms of what's valuable from a marketing standpoint.

When it comes to my work, I suppose you could argue that my voice is a pretty strong one... but as they say, it takes a village. Obviously, these books wouldn't exist -- outside of my own demented mind, at least -- if it wasn't for the efforts of the people I work with. Not just the artists, either. Colorists, letterers, designers... we're all collaborators, but obviously someone has to steer the ship, so to speak. I'm closing in on 20 years doing this professionally, and I've worked my ass off to get to a place where I have a certain degree of control over my projects. Whatever name recognition I might actually have -- and, admittedly, it's probably not a lot -- I try to use to the fullest extent possible. At this point, I think the people who actually agree to work with me pretty much know what they're getting into (for better or worse), and I feel like every single name listed in the credits of my books can claim some sort of authorship of the final product. We're all responsible for the books actually existing in the forms that they do, y'know?

Having said that, are they all "creators" in the strictest sense of the word? Well... probably not. Then again, when you get into the semantics of it, that can be a minefield all its own. But in creator-owned comics, especially, we're still a team. I've played in bands all my life, and sometimes I've been the main songwriter and lead singer (God help us all) and other times I've just been a guitar player, playing someone else's riffs. Either of those situations has its own rewards, but the consistent reward in any of those scenarios is the satisfaction of being part of a collective, part of a team that's creating something greater than just the sum of its parts. When it comes to comic books, we work together to get these books out every month (or whenever they end up coming out). And, on the whole, I pick my collaborators pretty well, I pick team players.

SPURGEON: Sex is an interesting book to look at in the wider context of your career because there are both significant past favorite themes of yours, and then some things I've not seen you tackle. This seems like a slightly different exercise in world-building for you, the city seems a more significant element to the book than I'm used to see from you. Is that a fair assessment? How was putting this book together different?

CASEY: On the world-building tip... other than the effort involved, this isn't too different than the other creator-owned work I've done. But this one set out to present a world -- in this case, a major metropolitan city -- with a fair amount of verisimilitude, which is not something I can say about GØDLAND, for instance. So, yeah, that's a different kind of thinking than just opening up my brain and letting my imagination fly.

But even more than that, I think it's different because it was put together completely in a vacuum. I just thought of it, I developed it, I brought in my collaborators, developed it further, and we started making it. I didn't really talk about it to anyone. In general, I keep projects in development pretty quiet until I'm ready to announce, but this one was really on the down low. Luckily, Image agreed to publish it, so all that work we'd been doing had somewhere to go. But, honestly, this was a book that I had absolutely zero expectations for, sales-wise. I had no way to predict what the reaction would be, whether or not we would grab any readership whatsoever. When the first issue sold as well as it did, and all the multiple printings that followed, I was pretty fucking shocked. And, I'll admit, between that and The Bounce selling so well out of the gate, I got a little swept up in the general heat and buzz that Image is generating right now. I got too wrapped up in sales data. It actually felt weird to sell that many comic books... and then you start to wonder if you should be chasing that dragon all the time. But then I remind myself that quite a lot of the writers I've really admired in comics -- since I was a really young reader -- have never been known for being especially "hot" creators. David Michelinie, Don McGregor, Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, John Ostrander, Roger Stern, Peter Milligan... these were guys that were simply doing their jobs well and, out of that hard work, creating inadvertent classics. I can dig that.

So now, thankfully, things have settled down and my books are selling more at the cult-level numbers that I'm used to, numbers that are probably more appropriate to the material I'm doing. I'm back to just concentrating on making the books good, making them worthwhile for the readers who are hanging in there for the long haul.

SPURGEON: There is a lot of stuff in Sex about struggles with vocation and career, a classic Joe Casey preoccupation. This is fairly straightfoward, but how does the inclusion of a significant sexual element and storylines constructed around sex have an impact on how you develop this look at people uncertain or uneasy with what they're doing with their lives?

CASEY: Obviously, I think both sex and career are primarily adult concerns. Not to mention assessing your life -- or reassessing, as the case may be -- after you've already got a significant number of years under your belt. That can only happen during adulthood. In relation to the series, Sex, there's admittedly an element to the whole thing where I'm hitting you over the head with it. The explicit sexual content, it's a hook to maybe get you in the door. From the beginning, the aesthetic idea was to replace the capes-and-tights aspects of a superhero comic book with purely sexual aspects. It's a pretty even trade off, as far as I'm concerned. The sexual elements in the book are about as pervasive as the spandex elements of a typical superhero comic book. From an allegorical viewpoint, it's asking the question, "Can these characters -- lifted right out of a superhero-styled story -- exist without the superhero tropes?" That's where the main uncertainty comes from, for them and sometimes for me as a writer. Even I don't know the answer, but I think it's worth exploring.

SPURGEON: I'm not sure I've ever seen you work with class issues, Joe, although maybe I'm spacing on something obvious. This book is very class conscious -- status, and money and the opportunities that buzz around each of those things is a major driver of the storylines. And yet I'm not sure I've seen you break with a standard take on these things: money isn't happiness, sometimes you need money to explore certain opportunities, and so on. What are your thoughts on how class plays into the lives of these characters, and how does you own life inform that, given the significant surges you've seen in your career at times.

CASEY: I suppose I'm somewhat interested in exploring the notion of a financial class system... and, in that exploration, examining how much -- or how little -- it really means to the individual characters in the series. I think I'd even throw in the class distinctions between "superhero" and "super-villain". At least, I'm playing them as a sort of class distinction that exists in Saturn City. But I would also say that, in my mind, I'm not dealing with class so much as a sociological circumstance (if it's possible or even worth it to try and make that distinction). It's more about how the characters view themselves and how they perceive their own relationship to the society they're living in.

But, y'know, from a strictly sociopolitical standpoint, this is not an area where I can provide a ton of personal insight. Let's face it, I'm a white male living in the United States and I realize the leg up that's given me, over the years. I'd be stupid not to. But the fact is, I've always been so self-involved (i.e., narcissistic) that being "class conscious" was never of any real interest to me personally, nor have I ever categorized or viewed anyone else on that basis. Maybe it's part of being a creative person... I'm more "ego conscious" than anything else. I do think the nature of Art (or having an artistic temperament) is such that, at its best, Art exists to obliterate class distinctions -- any barriers, really -- and provide something completely universal, something that can be shared by everyone. This applies to comic books most of all, at least in their original form. Cheaply priced entertainment, accessible to just about anyone, rife with potential to rise above its original pulp pretentions. In theory, at least.

SPURGEON: Is there anything we should miss about Wizard magazine?

CASEY: Occasionally, it looked pretty. On a slightly more serious note, I think Wizard's run is, on the whole, an interesting document of mainstream comics in the 90's and the early 2000's. It's the epitome of everything that was good and bad about the era, all in one glossy package. It certainly provided me the very brief but poppy, Tiger Beat-portion of my own career, complete with a photo spread that you could tear out and hang in your school locker. Although, being called Marvel's new "golden boy" during the Bob Harris-as-EiC/bankruptcy era was a dubious distinction, to say the least.

So, aside from its occasional prettiness, I'm also really glad it had a finite lifespan. There was a brief period of time that it seemed to have way too much power and influence in the industry, as ridiculous as that sounds in hindsight. So I guess there's some poetic justice that it couldn't adapt to the times.

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SPURGEON: In contrast to Sex, which I find very controlled in terms of how you're organizing the information in front of the audience, although it only comes to them in certain measures, The Bounce has this flood of confusing perspectives and scenes that seem to fail to connect. It's not a tool I think you use a whole lot, building an effect out of a barrage of verbal-visual information, but what do you value out of being able to build a story where things aren't necessarily clear from the start.

CASEY: I'm not sure I agree, but I do see what you're getting at. To me, Sex is a much more freewheelin' comic book, at least in relation to what else is out there in the current marketplace. Its narrative is much more influenced by European comics and French New Wave cinema than it is Amercian superhero comic books (even though it uses some familiar superhero tropes as part of its conceptual foundation). The other main influence is the novelistic approach of long form comics like Love & Rockets, which also eschews the more traditional, hyper-dramatic peaks and valleys that superhero comic books provide. Not to mention, I just find a lot more resonance in that work than I will ever find in any modern Marvel or DC book, so that's what I'm trying for in Sex.

The Bounce, on the other hand, is much more rooted in Western comic book traditions. There are costumed characters running around fighting each other, there's a lot of wacky sci-fi concepts flying in every direction, there are moments of pure melodrama. Of course, like Sex, I'm employing a novelistic approach to the story, but that's just how I like to deliver long form narratives when I'm free of any corporate publishing concerns.

In other words, if I were writing Captain America, I'd feel a responsibility both to Marvel and to the readers to deliver a comic book each and every month that provided a certain kind of surface experience. You want to grab the readers by the balls on each and every page and always keep them coming back. You'll use any trick in the toolbox to make that happen, because that's your job when you're writing company-owned comic books. That's mainly what they've hired you to do, to put asses in seats and keep their brand and their IPs profitable. It's often very exploitative. But with my creator-owned work, those particular expectations don't exist (unless, of course, I specifically place them on myself).

From a narrative perspective, The Bounce is actually very deliberately constructed, so even though the early issues seem to be presenting random information that might not seem to link up, I'm hoping the readers trust me enough to take the ride... because it all does connect, eventually. I'm just not spoon feeding it to you. Maybe that's frustrating and maybe that's not the storytelling trend at the moment, but I suppose on some level, that's a valid reason to do it. At the very least, The Bounce tries to provide a unique experience for the average superhero comic book reader. Certainly different from any Big Two superhero series...

SPURGEON: For that matter, you've recently released multiple series into the marketplace that have a bit of structure and heft to them in a way that kind of stands against that first issue being a clear grab for the audience's attention. Do you still feel any pressure to do that, to kind of nail down an audience for a book? Is that a way, perhaps that entertainment across media has changed, this kind of impatience for clarity and pay-offs?

CASEY: I didn't feel any pressure when I was developing them. That's the fun part. It was only when the orders on the first issues came in that I felt any kind of nervousness. Not about what I was doing, but about the very thing you're talking about. These are stories that are designed to unfold. It's not about a huge blast of... whatever right at the top, something designed to feed into that first issue money-grab model. I think both Sex #1 and The Bounce #1 are pretty good first issues, but they're both the beginning of something.

Actually, the first trade paperback collection of Sex that's out now is probably more representative of the entire series than any first issue could possibly be, for anyone still curious about checking it out. That's why we priced it at just under ten bucks for eight issues' worth of content. Usually, books of that length would cost twice as much. But we wanted it to be just as accessible for people to check out as a single, #1 issue might be.

I have come to some new conclusions about my work as I've been knee-deep in doing these particular books. However long they last, I'm feeling like these series will probably be my last long form narrative projects for a while. You and I talked in Seattle a bit about this... when it comes to future work, I'm thinking a lot more about non-linear, "anti-story" projects. Really lean into my Art Comix interests (such as they are). Maybe more Warhol-esque, I guess. Something even beyond Steranko's notion of "Zap Art". Maybe something that speaks more to the Tumblr culture of presenting comic book-styled information, those countless single-panel Tumblr posts that isolate moments out of larger stories, which itself is very anti-literary in nature. But it's certainly interesting. At least it gives me somewhere new to go with this, a new path to explore, a new range of possibilities. 



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SPURGEON: That one has begun to cohere a bit for me, save for one thing: I don't quite get what the superhero metaphor adds that perhaps a more direct address to theme might have been able to achieve on its own. How mindful are you of that the genre serve the story, and what is the current appeal of that set of metaphors for you with these new books?

CASEY: Well, obviously I think the idea of "the superhero" contains a certain amount of meaning. There's a resonance there. It represents something in the culture, maybe now more than any time in the history of its existence. Within my own work, I try to use it to represent different things, depending on the story I'm telling. In Sex the superhero tropes represent a particular lifestyle, an arrested adolescence, a phase of life that one might want to "grow out of". Simon Cooke could have been anything in his prior life, but the fact that he was a superhero forces the readership -- who, I'm assuming, is probably as well-versed in superhero comics as I am -- to confront that idea in a new way. Maybe it forces an older fanboy to question his own attachment to a genre and characters that, in a more sane world, are really meant to entertain children exclusively. It has for me, as I'm writing it.

In The Bounce, the superhero represents the idea of the "authentic self"... where the goal is to fully inhabit your own identity. To be comfortable in your own skin. In a culture where we often deny what we are, while simultaneously taking great pains to influence the world's perception of who we are -- as opposed to simply accepting who we really are -- the notion of a "real world" versus a Silver Age-y "superhero world" and characters caught between those two worlds seemed to speak to that idea.

To address something more "directly"... I don't know why I'd bother to craft a story, rather than just writing an editorial or present those ideas in a more journalistic fashion. But that's not what I do. On the one hand, I'm trying to discover things about myself through my work. That's the part that's personal to me. On the other hand, I'm a song-and-dance man, y'know? I'm out here trying to entertain people. Not to mention, I've seen creators I admire -- guys that are way more talented than I'll ever be -- pull themselves out of the trenches and take their shot at transcending genre and it seems incredibly difficult. When Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz can't finish Big Numbers... well, I dunno. Maybe there's some lesson to be learned there. I'm sure that's probably overly harsh, but whatever...

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SPURGEON: Between the time we started going back and forth now, the last issue of GØDLAND came out. I always got the sense that that was not a struggle for you, but that that one might have changed a bit in terms of what you wanted it to do and what it ended being good doing. For instance, I think you may have wanted to engage some aspects of the comics on which it comments that you maybe didn't get to, just because of the way the story was flowing and the strengths of it on the page with doing very specific things. I wonder if that's a fair assessment of what was going on, and I wonder if you could talk about that one specifically in terms of how a longer project might change concept to execution. Are you happy with the book as concluded?

CASEY: I can tell you this... it's a weird feeling not to have it swirling around in my brain anymore. I carried those last two issues around with me for a long ass time. I think you're right about its overall evolution, and I would have to say that luckily it became its own thing as it went on. And I think Scioli and I at least had the foresight to let it evolve. After all, that was the theme of the series from the very beginning!

If it had just remained some sort of pastiche, I don't think it would have meant much in the long run. Then again, in that way, it became even more in tune with the spirit of Kirby... because, ultimately, the book was about the power of Art and Creativity. Especially the Finale. Part of me thinks the entire series was a way to set up that last issue so it had a particular kind of resonance, while still (hopefully) being its own thing. Am I happy with it? I'm about as happy as anyone as restless as I am could be.

SPURGEON: The oddest thing about GØDLAND may be that it seems of an entirely different age in two ways: the comics iconography and stylistic modes on which it builds its language, and doing this kind of sprawling series divorced from TV episodic and season-arc images. Are we going to see more books like this? Do you feel like maybe episodic comics are too tightly tied into "season" models and what was at one point called writing for the trade? Because I think the comics that you and I enjoy from the history of comics, there's a certain "series" quality to them that I'm not sure we see anymore.

CASEY: Yeah, television and comic books have been borrowing from each other in really strange ways over the last two or three decades, as our generation of readers grew up and some of them ended up working in TV. So the long form storytelling that the most critically acclaimed shows now get recognized for seems like old hat to me, as it should to just about any attentive comic book reader of the last 40 or 50 years. At the same time, the latest generation of mainstream comic writer has, in turn, taken those television techniques and re-applied them to serialized comic books. I think, if I were to pinpoint the three most prevalent influences on current comic book writing -- in particular, mainstream superhero writing -- it would be Vertigo in the 90's, manga-via-Warren-Ellis'-interpretation (the so-called "widescreen" and "decompression" techniques), and episodic, seasonal television. Of course, none of those things have influenced me particularly... but that might be down to my own stubbornness, more than anything else. I've probably actively resisted them in my own work. Y'know, I gotta be me...

And, you're right... that kind of "endless narrative" that typified the superhero comics we grew up on doesn't exist in the same way at all anymore, that kind of random ebb and flow that monthly comic books would provide over a long period of time. I love that stuff so much. Recently, I've been re-buying the Denny O'Neil/Luke McDonnell run of Iron Man from the early 80's. For some reason, they've been showing up cheap in bargain boxes and, even though I read them when they were originally coming out, I seem to appreciate them more now. They're not the greatest examples of craft, and both creators have done more notable work elsewhere, but there's some kind of invisible, dependable rhythm to those comics that really appeal to me. And it's not like important things weren't happening, continuity-wise. This was when Rhodey first took over as Iron Man, during Tony Stark's second, more serious bout with alcoholism (think about that sentence for a moment... I was probably twelve years old when I first read these comics!). That's kind of a big deal in the history of the character. But, still, it just didn't feel like anything more than good ol' pulpy superhero comic books. Looking at them with a more critical eye, it comes across like extremely capable craftsmen doing their best to engage a teenaged readership month-in, month-out. I dunno... I just dig that on so many levels.

I'm sure that sort of mid-list dependability doesn't fly at the big publishers anymore. It's not a desirable thing. The economics of it don't make sense to them (or their shareholders). Not to mention, it's not sexy. But, goddammit, it is to me. It's sexy as hell. And if, at any point in its run, GØDLAND was somehow able to tap into that sexiness even a little bit... then mission accomplished, as far as I'm concerned. 



imageSPURGEON: Since we did the bulk of our talking and now, Dynamite announced you'll be doing work on a Captain Victory series with a roster of prime talent kind of settled in that landscape where indy/alt touches mainstream. How does a project like that even come together? Do you get a phone call? Do they float an idea? Were you the one that settled on that group of artists and this approach?

CASEY: Pretty simple. Nick Barrucci got in touch, asked me if I wanted to re-launch the book. First thing I said was, "This is how I'd want to do it...", figuring he'd never go for it and I'd be off the hook. But, y'know, he went for it. For me, it was a chance to take the next step up from what I'd already been doing at Dark Horse with the Catalyst Comix series. From there, I went recruiting. I was friends with Nathan Fox and Jim Mahfood, we'd worked together already on various things. So they were my first calls. Ulises Farinas was next, fresh off the Dark Horse work we were already doing together. Farel Dalrymple and I had exchanged e-mails in the past. We'd tried to keep things open, in terms of us working together on something, and this turned out to be the right thing at the right time. But Jim Rugg, Michel Fiffe, Benjamin Marra and Connor Willumsen... these are creators that I'm a huge fan of, but didn't know personally at all. Those were just e-mails I sent out of the blue (although Tucker Stone was the one who put me in touch with Marra). Luckily, pretty much all of them were fans of Kirby and Captain Victory in particular. So, it all kind of fell together. The idea of collaborating with all of these guys on something that I consider a really important property in the history of comic books -- even beyond its Kirby pedigree -- is really wild. I'm psyched that it's all happening like this. When it was finally announced, just seeing my name in that list with all those guys -- not to mention, the "created by Jack Kirby" credit -- was one of the proudest moments of my career.

In terms of the "approach" itself... I don't want to say too much about it this early. I definitely don't think it's anything that anyone is expecting from a book like this (or from Dynamite as a publisher, for that matter). But it's something that I hope will ultimately honor Kirby's creative spirit. It's not going to be a pastiche at all. Besides, I don't think he would've wanted that. He seemed to me to be someone who advocated originality of talent over everything else. I'd like to think he'd get a kick out these particular creators interpreting some of his ideas and his concepts in the way we're gonna do it.

SPURGEON: You've done a lot of work with Kirby properties but I'm not sure that's included late Kirby? Is there a difference with something like Captain Victory and the earlier, prime-of-career Kirby material? Is there anything you specifically like about this character, that universe?

CASEY: Well, there's the obvious historical context: Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers was probably the first Direct Market-only title I remember buying. Granted, I was a little too young to really comprehend what it meant to be a "Direct Market-only" title but in retrospect, it was a book that opened the door for pretty much every classic indie series that came after... so many of my favorites as a kid, from Nexus to Mage to Jon Sable to American Flagg! to Badger to Groo to Concrete to Grendel to Mister X to Love and Rockets to Grimjack and beyond. I could really go on and on. But I was the perfect age for that new world to be opened up to me, right when I needed it. And, once again, Kirby proved himself to be a pioneer. He was the originator in breaking open that market at an independent level -- basically legitimizing it overnight with his very presence -- and I'm sure he doesn't get enough credit for it.

On a craft level, it really is pure, uncut Jack Kirby comics. It's only 13 issues and one special, but I feel like he left it all on the field with that run. In terms of the gig I've taken on, I look at it as tons of genius raw material to work with. The whole cloning thing and the way he did it... that's a concept that was way ahead of its time (in comic books, at least). Plus, there's some obvious meta-commentary in those original issues that, for me, betrays a certain kind self-awareness that I think a lot of people don't often ascribe to Kirby. It's one thing to have certain feelings about your history and the way you or your work have been treated, and to express that stuff in interviews... it's another thing to be able to channel those feelings into your work in a way that isn't obvious, a way that works for the story. I certainly didn't pick up on that stuff when I was originally reading them as a kid. I was just taking the ride, being entertained by the weird madness on display on every page. Now I look at it with a different perspective, but it's still just as great.

SPURGEON: We've talked a bit about Kirby as a creative force, but I'm not sure we've ever talked about him as a writer -- and if we did, it's a subject worth re-visiting given this project. He used to be considered a flat-out bad writer of comics, but a lot of folks over the last 10, 15 years have made a case for certain strengths of his even if he was never a sophisticated scripture of comics. How do you think of him as a writer?

CASEY: Okay, lemme try to come at it from this angle... in my opinion, the simplest definition of a "bad" writer is someone who 1) can't communicate ideas effectively and 2) doesn't entertain the reader. And Kirby never, ever failed at either one of those. Obviously, he was never that kind of polished wordsmith that certain fans like to get excited about. But I would argue that some of those very same wordsmiths lack a certain visceral quality in their work that Kirby just seemed to bring forth so effortlessly. I only wish I could do what he did so well when he wrote his own stuff. Now, granted, I think the lettering in the later Captain Victory issues leaves something to be desired. The overuse of quotation marks can get a bit annoying... but I chalk that up to possibly a novice letterer misinterpreting Kirby's intentions in the script. Maybe I'm wrong about that... obviously I wasn't there. But that's an armchair academic critique. And a weak one, at that. In reality, Jack Kirby was never a mere "writer" or "artist" or any other label the rest of us desperately cling to in this medium. Kirby was nothing less than a force of nature. And I don't think anyone in this industry -- either pro or fan -- is qualified to critique his writing (which, to me, is merely a component of his overall storytelling talent). Let's all just accept that he was a master and move on. In the book we're doing, at the very least, we can try to honor his pioneer spirit by pushing the envelope in our own way. We'll see how it goes...

SPURGEON: Let's get to the real meat of this thing, Joe. Bill Mantlo or Robert Loren Fleming?

CASEY: Oh shit... that's a tough one. Personally, I'm a bigger Fleming fan from way back, but I would never take anything away from Mantlo, his body of work or his influence on a lot of creators of my generation. But for an aspiring comic book writer trying to figure out how to break in (which I was), Fleming was like a bonafide Cinderella story. And not only did he give me hope, he was pretty damn good, pretty much right out of the gate. Hope and talent... that combo meant everything to me when I was a young kid. But, having said that, my appreciation for Bill Mantlo has certainly grown as time goes on, looking back on what he did over his comics career. As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I'm more in awe of his body of work.

Maybe there's a mentality that existed with Mantlo and his particular career that I do happen to identify with... I'm a "study hard, work hard"-kind of guy. I feel like there's a lot of creators out there who have way more talent than me, but I can fuck shit up with my personal work ethic when I have to. Find me a grindstone, I'll put my nose to it. It's really the only way I know how to keep moving forward in this art form... by staying inspired and working hard.

And, look, I'm still in the middle of this thing. I've said this countless times... but people probably forget that Lee and Kirby were in their forties when they created the Marvel Universe. And Kirby went on to create the Fourth World and OMAC and Kamandi in his fifties. So anyone who thinks this is a game that requires a young man's enthusiasm to achieve some sort of greatness doesn't have to look any further than those examples to debunk that opinion. So for me, there's still tons to do and tons to achieve.

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* Man Of Action
* Joe Casey At Image Comics
* Joe Casey At Dark Horse Comics

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* from Sex; art by Piotr Kowalski
* photo by my from 2012
* that Ben 10 fellow
* image from The Intimates, I believe by artist Scott Iwihashi
* three informational-style print publications from the a comics industry now long gone
* from Catalyst Comix, Dan McDaid
* from Vengeance cover art by Gabrielle Dell'Otto
* scene-setter from Sex; art by Piotr Kowalski
* two images from Butcher Baker; art by Mike Huddleston
* page from The Bounce; David Messina on art
* Sex image; againt, Kiowalski again
* The Bounce image; Sara Pichelli this time
* image from the GØDLAND finale; Thomas Scioli art
* Jack Kirby's Captain Victory
* from The Bounce [below]; from Messina

* as always, all art is copyright to their copyright holders -- it doesn't need me to say so for this to be so -- and is used here according to the principles of fair use (ditto)

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Missed It: The Comic Relief Art Box

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I've Never Linked To Sam Kieth's Blog

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Go, Look: Elana Pritchard

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Go, Read: Nelvana Of The Northern Lights

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Go, Look: Desert Island's Tumblr

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Go, Look: Super-Fun 1969 John Buscema Double-Splash

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John Buscema's art is what Marvel Comics look like to me in my dreams
 
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Not Comics: Jonathan Tune's Cross-Sections

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via
 
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Go, Look: Still Vreni

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OTBP: Zach Hazard Vaupen Sketchbook 2013

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

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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

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OTBP: Comics And The Senses

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Happy 47th Birthday, Tim Bradstreet!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Len Strazewski!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Warren Ellis!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Bill Williams!

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Happy 56th Birthday, John Totleben!

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Happy 31st Birthday, James Moore!

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FFF Results Post #367 -- Love Stinks

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Break-Ups From The Comics." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Scott Summers and Jean Grey (New X-Men)
2. Black Panther and Storm (Avengers Vs. X-Men)
3. Maggie Chascarillo and Casey (100 Rooms)
4. Princess Mari and Arcturus Rann (Micronauts)
5. Mike Doonesbury and JJ Caucus (Doonesbury)

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Evan Dorkin

1. Johnny Storm and Crystal (Fantastic Four)
2. Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff (Strange Tales? Avengers? Daredevil--?)
3. Peter Parker and Betty Brant (Amazing Spider-Man)
4. Flash Thompson and Liz Allan (Amazing Spider-Man)
5. Hank McCoy and Vera Cantor (X-Men/Avengers, blah blah blah)

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Buzz Dixon

1. Cerebus and Jaka (Cerebus)
2. Craig and Raina (Blankets)
3. Sue Storm and Namor (Fantastic Four)
4. Aunt May and Doctor Octopus (Amazing Spider-Man)
5. Binky Brown and the Holy Virgin Mary (Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary)

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Art Baxter

1. Doctor Manhattan and Laurie Juspeczyk (Watchmen)
2. Mark Herrera and Rosalba “Fritz” Martinez (Love and Rockets)
3. Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud (Detective Comics)
4. Samuel and Alice (Crackle of the Frost)
5. Azuma and Sachiko (8 Man)

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Oliver Ristau

1. Bernard and Julie (Sambre)
2. Raina and Craig (Blankets)
3. Beth Morgan and Lou Lebeuf (Essex County: Ghost Stories)
4. Peter Parker and Betty Brant (The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1)
5. Amy and Eric (Life With Mr. Dangerous)

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John Vest

1. Thor and Jane Foster (Thor)
2. Conan And Jenna (Conan The Barbarian)
3. Harvey Pekar and spouse (American Splendor)
4. Matt Murdock and Natasha Romanov (Daredevil)
5. David Chelsea and Minnie (David Chelsea In Love)

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Steve Murphy

1. Karen Page and Daredevil (Daredevil v.1)
2. Daredevil and the Black Widow (Daredevil v.1)
3. Black Widow and the Winter Soldier (Winter Soldier, 2013)
4. Crystal and the Human Torch (Fantastic Four, v.1)
5. Bruce Wayne/Batman and Silver St. Cloud (Detective Comics (late 70s?))

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Tom Bondurant

1. Nightwing and Starfire (New Teen Titans)
2. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson (Amazing Spider-Man)
3. Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris (Green Lantern)
4. Clark Kent and Lori Lemaris (Superman)
5. Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud (Detective Comics)

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Mike Lynch

1. Johnny and Elena (Black Magic #29, March 1954, “The Greatest Horror of Them All”)
2. Johnny Storm and Crystal (Fantastic Four)
3. The Vision and The Scarlet Witch (The Avengers)
4. Phil Richards and Connie Poirier (For Better or For Worse)
5. Chester Brown and _______ (Paying For It)

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David Fairbanks

1. Joe and Anna (King City)
2. Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers (Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe)
3. Lucifer and Mazikeen (Lucifer)
4. Jeff and Allisyn (Unlikely)
5. Craig and Raina (Blankets)

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Matthew Craig

1. Betty Brant and Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man)
2. Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man)
3. Spider-Man and The Black Cat (Spectacular Spider-Man)
4. Carlie Cooper and Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man)
5. Ultimate Mary Jane and Ultimate Peter Parker (Ultimate Spider-Man)

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Steven Stwalley

1. Akbar and Jeff (Life in Hell by Matt Groening)
2. Steven and Bunny (Steven by Doug Allen)
3. Uncle Scrooge and Glittering Goldie (Uncle Scrooge in Back to the Klondike by Carl Barks)
4. Laszlo, the Great Slavic Lover and Constance (Heart Break Comics by David Boswell)
5. David Chelsea and Minnie (David Chelsea in Love by David Chelsea)

*****
*****
 
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February 15, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Ellen Lindner On It's A Draw


Trailer For Melinda Gebbie Movie That I Can't Remember Seeing Until I Caught It On Her Web Site


G. Willow Wilson Interviewed


Morrie Turner Remembered By His State Assemblyman


A Mark Fiore Cartoon


Missed This Chip Kidd Original Art Book Video


Charles Schulz At UCLA, 1971
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from February 8 to February 14, 2014:

1. Garry Trudeau suspends Doonesbury dailies for up to two years while he works on his television series Alpha House.

2. Ung Bun Heang passes away. Ung and his wife Pliny combined their memories of experiencing Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia to facilitate his drawing of their experiences, one of the most visually grand and affecting personal narratives in comics form published in the 20th Century.

3. Direct Market estimates suggest the first serious lull in rising sales figures since DC adrenalized that market back in Fall 2011.

Winner Of The Week
Irwin Hasen, a reasonably rare living judges' pick for the Will Eisner Hall Of Fame.

Loser Of The Week
The Economist. I deplore the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as controllers, but I thought this was such a humongous leap in terms of assumption that it restricted a worth-discussing political story.

Quote Of The Week
"It goes to show, then, how much more an artist contributes to the writing than simply drawing what happens. It goes to show how lucky a writer is to find an artist as smart and simpatico as [David] Mazzucchelli was with [Frank] Miller. It goes to show how much you things you don't see push a narrative not just forward but pushes it down deeper and creates a richer, more complex, experience.

"Because even when you don’t notice -- you notice." -- Matt Fraction

*****

today's cover is from Marvel Comics during the year 1964

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Joe Simon Sports Cartoons

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

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

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Happy 49th Birthday, Jim Blanchard!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Art Spiegelman!

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Happy 75th Birthday, William Van Horn!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Matt Groening!

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February 14, 2014


Happy Valentine's Day

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Go, Read: Jog Reviews Mould Map 3

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Hey, How Is Meredith Gran's Patreon Effort Going?

I'm glad you asked. She's more than halfway to her first, stated goal. I'm asking people watch this one because 1) I enjoy Gran's comics, 2) I think Gran might be an indicator of the potential success comics people with a similar profile might have in using that mechanism to support their art. I haven't followed one of these to know how the numbers tend to track over time.
 
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Go, Look: New Yorker Valentine's Day Covers

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I Don't Have The Time Nor Inclination To Track All The Comics-Related Valentine's Day Stuff, But...

... I always like when J. Chris Campbell makes something and I liked this comic with a penis in it over at 2D Cloud. On this day for romance I wish you partnered happiness, a partner or multiple-partner happiness substitute or a quick ramp-up to your preferred brand of future happiness, in that order and not necessarily exclusive of one another.
 
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Go, Look: A Twilight Zone Comic From 1966

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Festivals Extra: Linework NW, CAKE Announce Exhibitors

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The new Portland, Oregon comics show Linework NW has announced the majority of its launch show's exhibitor line-up via spectacular Michael DeForge poster. Because space is limited you get a lot of collectives and groups and publishers -- it's a way to provide some bang for the buck in terms of involving a lot of artists (one assumes Fantagraphics can rotate eight or nine artists through a day at a full table or two as opposed to one or two artists settling in the same space) and the publishers are great to have just because. I was a bit surprised but happy to see Dark Horse and Oni exhibiting -- they are local publishers but maybe not as alt-/art- as Linework NW might have as an initial reputation due way the show developed out of competing ideas for the now slightly-submerged-into-other-things Stumptown show. At any rate, that looks like a great show and I wish it were easier for me to attend. I think hyper-local shows are really, really important over the next few years. Seattle, Austin, Portland, Minneapolis, Ashville, Chicago, LA, Brooklyn, Athens, San Francisco, Montreal, Vancouver and maybe a half-dozen others -- all the traditional places where young people go to live should have a show that could take place even if all the airports shut down for a week before and a week after, that emphasize and show off and flatter a scene as much as any sort of national or regional ambition. Many of those cities need the other kinds of shows, too! I hope Linework NW can be that first kind of show for Portland.

Ten seconds after I posted the above, the Chicago arts- and alt-comics show CAKE sent out an e-mail touting their exhibitors and guest list. That's the one in Chicago, which in grand Chicago comics tradition will be held during a holiday weekend, this time for a second year on the sort-of-near north side (it's less than halfway to Evanston, but I used to know people in Chicago that turned 30 before they got anywhere near Edgewater). That's a show that a lot of exhibitors will drive to without feeling like they want to die halfway there; it shows off that region's deep bench. The e-mail announced that show's special guests as Anya Davidson, Ines Estrada, Edie Fake, Lizz Hickey, Hellen Jo, Tony Millionaire, and the publisher Nobrow Books.

Update: Whoops, I can't read a calendar. Got a note from someone named "Max" that informed me "Memorial Day weekend is May 24th-May 26th. We planned pretty hard in order not to conflict with holidays folks might leave town for, and in order not to conflict with other comics festivals." My bad.

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Go, Look: A Twilight Zone Comic From 1962

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Festivals Extra: What If They Had Events I Didn't Know About?

I have kind of missed until this week word of two events that might be of interest. I want to make them their own post not because I'm going to make a habit of spotlighting events that way but because getting a pull-out like this might provide a counter-balance to their complete absence from my regular calendar until a few days ago.

* so I guess I covered Mini-Comics Day last year, but I have little memory of doing so. Mini-comics are fun, and can be the fulcrum point for many a comics-makers for the lifetime of their interest in comics, if need be. They deserve as many days as they want.

* this one snuck up on me altogether, despite my getting to meet Randy Scott last Fall: a sprawling "forum"-designated series of events at Michigan State University, featuring what may be Stan Sakai's first public appearance since his recent healthcare shortfall was made public. Sakai is a great choice and does really well presenting his work, so that should be fun.
 
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Go, Look: A Twilight Zone Comic From 1961

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A Couple Of Sales Worth Noting: 2D Cloud; Arthur

I don't publish on this site in a systematic way that I'm able to regularly spotlight sales with effectiveness. This isn't totally a bad thing. If you regularly spotlight sales, it seems people begin to treat you like a toilet and shriek at you that you have to put up word of their sale just because you once put up word of someone else's sale, and I'm too sensitive to take abuse on behalf of someone trying to make some cash.

I am totally, totally happy to occasionally note those sales I run across that look interesting for one reason or another, or that strike me as something people would want to know about. 2D Cloud has one that seems to be going on for no reason other than to goose sales a bit in a customer-appreciation way. It might be time to get to know that publisher a little better. Longtime friend-of-comics Arthur magazine is having a clearance sales on back issues that looks like it will end March 2 with something equivalent to boxes being walked out to a dumpster -- equivalent, I'm saying, I have no idea -- and there's a bunch of stuff in there and some of you with incomplete collections I'm sure.
 
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Go, Look: Frank Frazetta Love Stories

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Rodrigo De Matos Wins Press Cartoon Europe Grand Prix

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Rodrigo De Matos won this year's Press Cartoon Europe Grand Prix for the above cartoon related to austerity measures in Portugal and the good news shared by that company's national team qualifying for World Cup. That's an award that's been around since 1998 (first award in 1999), is maybe the more significant prize given out in Europe for editorial-type cartooning and involves an approximately $10K (USD) cash pay out. This article at Cartoon Movement notes second prize went to Tjeerd Royaards and third prize went to Hajo de Reijger and that all three cartoonists named contribute to that site.
 
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Go, Read: The Story Of Tegneseriemix

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Collective Memory: Comic Con India

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Marvelous Maureen

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* congratulations to David Malki on the 1000th episode of his Wondermark strip.

* Bill Baker interviews Victor Santos here, in a new place he'll be publishing interview. That first effort goes here rather than in random news because of Baker's pedigree as an on-line writer about comics.

* I don't think I'd noticed that The Comics Journal had split its digital archives into its own purchase option, separate from a subscription to the print magazine.

* this looks like a way to access the digital version of the David Rees/Michael Kupperman cartoon effort at the New York Times.

* I was not aware until he told me that John E. Williams, a major comics-internet presence from a decade ago, was doing comics on-line. I saw Larry Rodman about a year and a half ago, too.

* finally, I have yet to catch up with Ernesto Priego's recent writing on digital comics, but I look forward to it like a fat kid anticipates a hot fudge sundae.
 
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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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Not Comics: The Great Franklin Booth

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* these Batman valentines making the rounds are pretty cute.

image* Todd Klein on BPRD: 1948. Greg Hunter on Batman: Death Of The Family. Bob Heer on The Bojeffries Saga. Zio on Night Business. James Hadfield on Showa: A History Of Japan 1926-1939. David Hockney (briefly) on The Great War.

* I like the look of this one-page comic by Leslie Stein.

* I knew that the late Maggie Estep had done or two comics, but I couldn't remember where and when.

* this article by Steve Lieber about creating a visual design for a superhero comic assignment is a lot of fun.

* David Brothers talks to Jimmie Robinson, Whit Taylor and Qianna Whitted. Someone at the Risha Project talks to Nina Bunjevac. Jeffrey Renaud talks to Klaus Janson. Will Kallenborn profiles JG Jones. Someone with CCI or otherwise hired by them talks to Kelly Sue DeConnick. Jonah Weiland talks to Denys Cowan.

* Jaime, Jaime, Jaime.

* this John Byrne page underlines how cartoony some of that work was he did in Uncanny X-Men.

* not comics: Scott Spencer's article about a pair of odd adaptations of his work is as to the point as any such article I've ever read.

* I know that I mentioned in its own post that Marc Arsenault opened up a new bookstore. I would suggest heading over there and looking around, or looking around on-line, because like any seller that just opened up a store, Arsenault is bound to have stuff available for sale, physically or via mail order, that isn't widely available anywhere else. Imagine people gathering in front of a house with a garage sale as the door comes up. Anyway, I don't think I've seen a lot of this Paul Pope stuff on sale anywhere for a while.

* we forget what a small part of the public imagination comics enjoyed between the time when newsstand comics were everywhere and the time when comics-related properties and concepts were everywhere.

* Meghan Turbitt has a store now.

* not comics: Heidi MacDonald beat me to it, but Jillian Tamaki's illustrations in this Folio Society edition look pretty cool. My dad used to collect those books.

* finally, I greatly enjoyed this Mike Vosburg piece about working with Howard Chaykin. Chaykin is a major talent and a grand personality so that sometimes we lose track of the arc of his career, which is an interesting one to me because it took Chaykin a reasonably long while to get to his best work. I was talking to someone a few months back whose interaction with comics ended in the 1970s in New York, and he was amazed once he got back in how much Chaykin's work changed for the better since he knew him.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Gordon Purcell!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Roger Langridge!

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Not Comics: Ted Hawkins Sings Green-Eyed Girl


 
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February 13, 2014


Go, Look: A Bunch Of Lucas Méthé Journal Pages

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no idea how this ended up in my bookmarks, but I liked looking at them
 
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Go, Read: Matt Fraction On Daredevil #230

Five e-mails with links to this article by the popular writer Matt Fraction on Daredevil #230 were waiting in my inbox when I got up this morning, which indicates focused interest in people reading it -- by which I mean there's a good chance the link will be all over the place by the time you read this. I enjoyed the article, too -- I've always liked Matt's writing about comics -- and it's concerning a very smartly constructed comic book worth dissecting.
 
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OTBP: Black Eyes #2

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Missed It: UK Cartoonist Escapes Eviction In Feel-Good Manner

I saw the story pop up during the holiday, and forgot to check back on its resolution. A cartoonist with a hefty chunk of back rent to pay raised the money to pay that off by hand-selling a book of his cartoons supplemented by publicity-driven sales on his web site; the association was impressed enough with the industry and enterprise of this attempt by the cartoonist to keep from being evicted they let him stay even when I guess thing had progressed to the point they didn't have to. There's a Brian Davis that makes cartoons for Punch under a pen name, but I don't think this is him -- the styles look different to me. I could be wrong about that; I imagine someone from the UK will rapidly and sarcastically set me straight; I'm having a slow morning. This is this Brian Davis' web site.

This seems like a straight-up story to me, although it's always worth noting when a person making comics is in a state whereby this kind of effort become necessary.
 
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Go, Look: The Seven Lady Godivas

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a classic that seems to pop up every two years or so
 
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Missed It: Economist Pulled A Recent Cartoon Due To Concerns It Implied Jewish Control Of Congress

I completely missed this story about the Economist pulling a Peter Schrank cartoon that critics believed suggest a defamatory message of Jewish control. I completely understand that this noxious idea exists. I hate it when I see it implied, and find it shameful on the occasions it's forcefully argued. Still, I'm a little unclear as to how that cartoon gets us there except by a pretty significant leap of logic -- or two. Is there any cartoon that would have been acceptable to make the same, seemingly valid point of political constraint? Heck, when I see chains on a black man, "Jewish control" isn't even the first problematic connotation I reference.
 
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Go, Look: Ben Hatke Angouleme Travel Comics

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Go, Read: Jen Vaughn On Visiting The Schulz Museum

The cartoonist and valued Fantagraphics employee Jen Vaughn wrote some very good picture-driven scene reports on this year's Festival at Angouleme; she's done the same here for the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. It's really informal, but I don't know that I've seen a lot of those visuals, which makes me think no one's done a report like this one for that particular place. So I wanted to call attention to it.
 
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Go, Look: Bill Mauldin In Playboy

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Go, Look: That Beautiful, Odd Fred Guardineer Art

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* here's a report from Team 2D Cloud about going to the LA Art Book Fair 2014. Those are becoming increasingly important shows for a subset of publishers.

* Scott McCloud has been announced as the first major guest for this year's Lakes International Comic Arts Festival. I think that one has a lot going for it: a festival model spread throughout a town, an experience for all the North Americans desperate to do a show in England that seems relaxed and enjoyable and values their kind of comics-making over commercial driven pop-culture expression, and fine taste in terms of who they've invited and continue to invite. I'd like to see that one myself.

* Sunderland Comic Con has announced its launch this August.

* that same show has announced its initial exhibition for the festival, too, on the subject of the Great War. The British have a different orientation to that world event than those in the US tend to have.

* one more from the Lakes people: they're opening up a specific part of their exhibition map to applications. That is an odd way to do it, but then again, I sure am writing about it here.

* there were some comics on sale at this French books festival with the most ridiculous looking dealers' room ever.

* they are taking submissions for the Comic-Con souvenir book until late April.

* speaking of the French, Daryl Cagle's cover for next fall's editorial cartooning-driven cartooning festival at St. Just Le Martel is quite something.
 
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Egad, Look At This Roman Muradov Kickstarter Commission

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reminder to self: participate in roman muradov kickstarters
 
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Go, Look: Airboy Vol. 9, #11

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Kevin Melrose does a really good job with his summary posts whenever Stan Lee Media raises its head and decides to sue. Yes, they're still around; no, they haven't had any connection to Stan Lee in a long, long time; yes, their basic argument still seems to be the late-night dorm-room hallway position that 1) Stan Lee assigned all of his rights to Stan Lee Media upon its formation, 2) Marvel in working out a settlement with Lee years later admitted that Lee had some rights to the various Marvel characters in which he had a creative hand, 3) because of that earlier SLM blanket rights assignation, the Marvel rights now afforded Lee weren't Lee's to negotiate away in a settlement, they were SLM's, 4) we would like some billions of dollars, please. At this point, SLM is a construct that facilitates lawsuits; they have no reason not to find every nook and cranny from which to launch their legal challenges.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Tippy And The Night Parade and Hearts.

* not comics: I quite liked this handy chart of which motion picture studios control which Marvel superheroes. If it's not something you think about -- and it may not be -- the rights to various Marvel characters are controlled by different studios, and as they're a valuable commodity right now, maybe the valuable commodity in all of movies, this increases the power those characters have in the pop culture marketplace more generally.

* Alex Dueben talks to Jed McGowan.

* Bully blogs the Winter Olympics.

* not comics: Lorraine Turner has an e-book out.

* I'm almost certain top move the India Comic Con stuff from Comixology into its own post, but I like the smiles on the faces of Christina Blanch and Mark Waid in this report.

* these are Glenn Walker's favorite Avengers. I like all of those characters.

* finally, Evan Dorkin speaks truth.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Dan Christensen!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Chris Duffy!

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February 12, 2014


Goodbye, Ink Panthers

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not a hoax, not an imaginary tale
 
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Judges Name Sheldon Moldoff, Irwin Hasen And Orrin C. Evans To Eisner HOF, Nominee Pool Released

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The Will Eisner Comic Book Industry Awards have named Sheldon Moldoff, Irwin Hasen and Orrin C. Evans to the Hall of Fame this year as the judges choices, and the awards has released its nominee list for induction by voters:

* Gus Arriola
* Howard Cruse
* Philippe Druillet
* Rube Goldberg
* Fred Kida
* Hayao Miyazaki
* Tarpé Mills
* Alan Moore
* Francoise Mouly
* Dennis O'Neil
* Antonio Prohias
* Rumiko Takahashi
* George Tuska
* Bernie Wrightson

More information about the pool members can be found here. The ones that jump out at me are Moore, a now-controversial figure and maybe the second or third person to get to this stage whose signature work would have come in the 1980s (he started in 1978), Mouly, who is a massively under-appreciated figure generally, Miyazaki, a beloved animator who made one of the great fantasy comics of the 20th Century, and Dennis O'Neil and Bernie Wrightson, both of whom I wold have lost $500 betting they were already in. I have to admit, I'd hoped that maybe Kim Thompson's passing last year might have called enough attention to his career that he might make the list this time out.

As for the winners, it's no one that I respond to artistically, to be honest with you. It's interesting to me that they're all Golden Age comic book figures, or at least that's likely how they're primarily thought of. I've enjoyed the comics of Moldoff and Hasen as representative works within that millieu and recognize the scope of their achievements as working professionals (Hasen on Dondi and as an educator in addition to his comic book work; Moldoff as a key creative contributor to the genre-defining Batman franchise. I do love Hasen's Wildcat design, and enjoyed that book about his woo-making that appeared a couple of years ago. Evans is a fascinating figure to me in American journalism more than in comics; it's pretty obvious that forming that company and coming out with that comic is an achievement for the ages and well worth recognizing this way -- actually, any way we can.

It's also worth noting that while two nominees is more common from the judges, as is the case with the awards themselves and say, which categories to include, the judges have some leeway in deciding how to proceed.
 
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Go, Look: Thomas Humeau

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Scott Adams Criticizes India Supreme Court's Late 2013 Overturning Of 2009 Naz Decision Ruling

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I totally missed that Scott Adams had run two strips cuffing the Supreme Court Of India overturning the Naz Foundation decision back in December; that was a 2009 ruling that making homosexual acts a crime was illegal according to that country's constitution. Luckily, Scott Adams' mini-run was mentioned in this BBC article on another matter entirely.

The cartoonist's position expressed here seems to me sensible and made me laugh at the same time: that you can't see these strips as "politicizing the strip" because that court decision was so fundamentally awful no one on planet earth could muster any kind of defense of the underlying principles involved so as to make the kind of disagreement that politics requires. This is, of course, a political maneuver in and of itself, but it's a clever one.

This article says that the San Jose Mercury News was one of Dilbert's North American clients that opted for an old strip for at least the first one up there, which strikes me as very sad given the Mercury-News' reputation as a comics-friendly publication. The Sandusky Register decided to run the strips and discusses why here.
 
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Go, Look: Kristen In "Scan-Tily Clad"

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Your 2014 ComicsAlliance Reader Choice Awards Winners

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The site ComicsAlliance had reader awards this year; I remember this because I voted in them. Their winners were:

* Best Writer: Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, Satellite Sam)
* Best Cover Artist: Mike Del Mundo (X-Men: Legacy)
* Best Editor: Scott Allie (Hellboy in Hell, B.P.R.D. )
* Best Design: (Hawkeye)
* Best Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth, (Hawkeye, Wolverine, The Wake)
* Best Artist: David Aja, (Hawkeye)
* Best Writer/Artist: Michel Fiffe, (Copra)

Congratulations to all the winners. That strikes me as a nice thing for Fiffe in particular.

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Go, Look: writejessewrite

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Missed It: Ecuadoran Cartoonist Published Rectifying Cartoon After Being Ordered To By Ministry

imageI ttotally missed that the Ecuadoran cartoonist Bonil was directed by a ministry -- without any method for appeal -- a cartoon to rectify what they thought was an unfair cartoon last December. This stems from a law passed last summer that created the post made the directive. You can the original cartoon and the rectifying cartoon here. Like RSF, I see the rectifying cartoon as soaked in sarcasm, but I guess it does the trick. This is a pretty horrifying law, straigh-up science-fiction despotic-behavior-through-bureaucracy, at least as far as I can tell -- maybe someone out there has a more nuanced view. Anyway, go look at both cartoons and read the translation of the second for a good laugh. I hope this ends matters on this specific circumstance for the cartoonist and that people continue to push back against this office and its powers.
 
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Go, Look: The Woody Allen Test

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Not Comics: Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index

The Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index is almost always one of the most depressing yet enlightening reads of the new year. I always encourage journalists and right-thinking people everywhere to spend a few minutes getting a feel for the current, basic shape of persecution regardng the free press. I did not on my own tour see any explicit of cartoonists, but two of the briefs have some relevance there: the Asian report notes the hassle facing those that post work on-line independently, and that is a category into which many comics and cartoon makers fall, while the Eastern European brief includes a write-up on Turkey, which has long been a hostile place for satirical cartoons. That one is interesting just for the turning political tides there more than for any discussion of ways taht cartoonists tend to be discouraged, like the use of lawsuits by sitting government officials.
 
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Go, Look: Reed Crandall In Treasure Chest

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Various Comics Sales Estimates Suggest General DM Lull

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has offered up their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for January 2014.

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

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

I haven't done one of these in a while. I wish I could give you a better reason than "I suck," but I can't. The truth is I just got out of the habit of paying attention to these numbers. That may have been because there was a long run, about two years, where the numbers were pretty good for this kind of store owner: comic books were performing ahead of where they were before the sugar-boost that came with chugging DC's comic book equivalents of 52 liters of Mountain Dew in the Fall of 2011, Marvel stabilized a bit and had its moments here and there particularly down the charts, and individual Image comics began to perform well as retailers began to respond to those books in a way that seems remarkable in memory of the Wild West era of twenty years ago: for their fundamental "this writer/this artist/this project" stability. There was also a pretty strong trade market, both in the aforementioned Image titles but also series in general where you could argue -- or at least this was something that I heard from individual retailers -- that people were following those trades in serial fashion the way they used to pick up the comic books. It still felt like there was a missed opportunity in terms of DC not being able to extend the attention it received in 2011 to content-driven solid-performers, one could detect a generation of readers moving away from their mainstream-buying because of a shift in top-line creators at both Big Two companies, some of the licensed titles that had settled into a relationship with other top 10 publishers began to feel like they had been around a while, and one could certainly imagine these little market-share indulgences like instantaneous crossovers and rampant use of more than 12 titles in a year for individual series might eventually make things queasy rather than exciting.

So things have slowed a bit. Is a month like January what was expected? Maybe. And will this lead to drastic changes? Almost certainly not. It's not even clear we're really seeing a confluence of downward-trending factors. It could just be in the timing. When there's a lull in the direct market it's usually for more quotidian reasons, not enough debuts or books that are getting people excited publishing to maximum effect within the designated time period. But is worth noting that at least the momentum that had been months in the making wasn't enough to keep pushing past whatever reasons things have slowed down a bit. One way comics is tough is that it's seemingly not incentivized for its major players in terms of slow-growth strategies; it seems like everything but bread-and-butter, sold-performing comic book series drives this particular segment of the overall market. While this would seem to indicate the possibility of a shift in strategies taking hold, usually in comics the opposite holds true and something shakes the market back to life from the stunt or event families of comics-making. We'll see. I'm still under the impression that the performers in comics that are furthest away from maximizing their sales potential are those that because of tradition and a kind of general corporate weight still hold most of the top slots. I'm not sure that ever changes.
 
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Go, Look: Western Comics Cover Mini-Gallery

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Marc Arsenault Officially Announces Opening Of WowCool/Alternative Comics Retail Space In Cupertino

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I'm not sure this link gets you to the press release or gets you lost in some half e-mail/half press release designation hell, but the information there seems solid: Marc Arsenault of WowCool/Alternative Comics has opened up a retail space in support of, and one would guess on a parallel track to, his publishing efforts. It's called "The Wow Cool | Alternative Comics Bookstore and Newsstand," it's located at 21607B Stevens Creek Blvd in the Monta Vista neighborhood of Cupertino, it will carry other types of counter-culture poublications and music-related merchandise in addition to comics, and it will be open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 6 PM.

You can also get more information here.

Arsenault is a super long-time fixture in the arts-comics/small-press world, with a numnber of ties to cartoonists and comics-making efforts above and beyond those he finds himself doing through Alternative. His store looks like a fun place, part Reading Frenzy, part Fantagraphics Store, part Fallout Coimcs circa 1996. I wish him the best, and encourage potential customers to make it a stop on their Silicon Valley related comics odysseys.

The photo used above was supplied by Arsenault with his release.
 
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Go, Look: The Beatles (Dell Giant)

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Go, Read: David Harper On The Diminishing Coverage Of Artists In The Creation Of Mainstream Comics

Here. This is an interesting story, although not a shockingly new one -- it's something people have been talking about for five or six years in just this current formulation of the argument. Harper covers a lot of the factors involved. I think all of us that cover comics could do a better job of crediting artists, even those of us that might do okay. There are difficulties even if you have a nuanced grasp of what an artist can do because divided-labor comics differ almost issue to issue, team to team, and maybe even page to page in terms of who does what. But we can get to a better place, and should pay greater attention to these factors. It can only improve the writing, and lead to greater insight.
 
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Go, Look: Journey Into Mystery #17

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Go, Look: Re-Mastered Bodyworld On Study Group

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The 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.

*****

DEC131122 BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS HC (MR) $22.95
This book is beautiful and nightmarish and a lot of fun. There are two or three scenes in there that because of the loveliness of the presentational style are as upsetting as any comic book horror story I've read in a few years. I think the central conceit is easy to figure out, but I do have a friend that read my copy, has no even guess as to what's going on, and enjoyed it anyway. Take a look at it if you're in a comics shop.

imageDEC131294 BOJEFFRIES SAGA GN (MR) $14.95
I think I would have put this book up top If I could have found a bigger scan of the cover image. Top Shelf has an admirable partnership with Alan Moore for a lot of the material he controls, and this is work that may have a bigger audience now in terms of its stylistic quirks than it did when it was brought out a generation ago when Moore was God Of The Longbox. The Parkhouse art is a lot of fun, too, and that's another person that's continued to do quality work.

OCT130061 LOBSTER JOHNSON TP VOL 03 SATAN SMELLS A RAT $18.99
Your Mignola-verse trade offering of the week. I am so far behind on these comics, and I'm committed to individual issues, but this is also a series that works really well as trade for the frequency as their arrival. I think there's been a step back in passion for the book since Guy Davis is no longer involved, but I still enjoy the individual books whenever I read them.

OCT130287 INVISIBLES HC BOOK 01 DELUXE EDITION (MR) $29.99
I'm not sure where the heck this stand in terms of what's out there for this Grant Morrison-written work featuring art from a variety of illustrators -- meaning I have the comic books here, too, and am not sure what trade options are available. I would have to think if your'e interested in Morrison as a writer this might be the first series you need to have and if you're only intermittently interested in what he does you might be able to skip this one outright, but it's been a long, long while since I've read a lot of involving Morrison and even longer since this series more specifically. He's certainly an A-list creator in this world of comics, though.

SEP130371 POPEYE CLASSICS HC VOL 03 [DIG] $29.99
I am not all that familiar with these Popeye books, but with my Segar appetite finally sated through the Fantagraphics collection, I could see myself at least flirting with these books in the comic shop. God bless your shop if it's carrying material like this, but you already know that.

OCT130469 FATALE TP VOL 04 PRAY FOR RAIN (MR) [DIG] $14.99
This is the Seattle chapter of the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips series, and there are a bunch of heroin-flavored grungetastic Easter eggs for those that lived through that time and in that place. It's also good for the overall saga and you see people do these kind of self-contained stories before heading back into an overriding arc on some of the higher-quality cable TV shows. I was very fond of the Jon Lewis analog.

DEC130523 PROPHET TP VOL 03 EMPIRE [DIG] $14.99
Another high-end Image trade, and a book I haven't even stopped to consider yet as more than the sum of its parts. It's one of maybe a half-dozen comic book series being done right now I'm keeping, though.

OCT131146 MOOMIN & GOLDEN TAIL GN $9.95
OCT131145 MOOMIN DESERT ISLAND GN $9.95
I think these are Moomin stories reformated to appear in color and at a size that kids might better handle carrying around and reading them theirselves. They are awfull pretty, and I like their look as well as the comic inside, kind of unreservedly.

FEB131049 TERRY & PIRATES GEORGE WUNDER YEARS HC VOL 01 1946-1948 $60.00
Oh, for a comics shop within three hours, and for one that I know would carry this within a day's drive. I have no idea who this would sell to, and my exposure to Wunder's Terry is actually limited to a few short bursts of reprints here and there and encountering Wunder's originals from time to time, which are devastating-looking. I was told 15 years ago that a lot of readers of this kind of material actually have more fun with the Wunder era, particularly early on, than with big chunks of the orginal Caniff. Maybe at some point I'll get to see.

DEC131292 TIPPY & NIGHT PARADE TOON BOOKS YR HC GN $12.95
This is Lilli Carré's TOON book, which given her skill with comics formal effects could be The Shark King good.

DEC131165 INSECT BATH #1 $3.99
DEC130111 ABE SAPIEN #10 $3.50
OCT130473 FATALE #20 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
DEC130604 WALKING DEAD #121 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
DEC130339 ASTRO CITY #9 $3.99
DEC130437 MLP FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC 100 PENNY PRESS #1 $1.00
Let's end this week with comic-book sized comics and let's give the cover-reproduction spotlight to Jason T. Miles' effort from his Profanity Hill, Insect Bath #1, an honest to goodnesss underground comix-style horror comic book. It's being distributed to comic book stores by Fantagraphics, so hopefully you have the kind of shop that picks that kind of thing up. It's pretty bleak -- I hope to run an interview with Miles soon. There's a bunch of other big-name stuff of interest, including something from the Mignola-verse. The Fatale and Walking Dead issues are about as big as it gets for Image Comics series that have done well in comics shops, while the Astro City book has done pretty well for DC from what I understand. The MLP I'd just want to see; the nice thing about sampling-pricing is that it's also useful to those of us that want to see certain books but may not be the audience for what they have to offer.

*****

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Yeah Dude Comics #1 Preview

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Michael DeForge, taking requests. That was nice of him.

image* Bob Temuka reflects on Footrot Flats.

* I can't remember if I posted this gathering of art featuring Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo or not. Another reminder that the Sakais could use our help.

* let's talk about comic stores.

* Hanna Chapman talks to Donya Todd. Joe Gordon talks to Rob Williams. Marc-Oliver Frisch profiles Alan Moore. Raighne Hogan talks to Zak Sally (1, 2). Zaina Akhtar profiles Boulet. Whit Taylor talks to Matt Moses. Dan Kois profiles Michel Rabagliati.

* missed it: Jaime Portillo's Hell Paso was the recipient of a BRLA Southwest Book Award for 2013. I also totally missed this article on the mechanics of early comic strip color, which I'm greatly looking forward to reading.

* Megan Kirby on King-Cat #74.

* finally, here is what sold for Bud Plant last year. Long Live Bud Plant.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Judd Winick!

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Happy 44th Birthday, T. Edward Bak!

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February 11, 2014


Go, Look: New Yorker Previews Jules Feiffer's Kill My Mother

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Michael Cavna: Doonesbury Is Going On An Extended Hiatus

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The news is here. It could be a year or two. Garry Trudeau is a very good television writer (his Tanner '88 collaboration with Robert Altman is the Mitochondrial Eve of modern, smart cable television series), and he's pursuing opportunities there -- he took some time off recently for the second season of his current Internet-first show, Alpha House.

Trudeau invented the cartoonist sabbatical -- as least as it is understood in modern terms -- with his hiatus in 1983-1984. That was 30 years ago! With Trudeau in his mid-sixties there has to be a chance greater than the earlier one a) he might not return, b) he'd only return to bring the strip to a close. He will keep furnishing Sundays during this period.

Doonesbury is a great, major newspaper strip, the only one not Calvin and Hobbes to launch in my lifetime. (There have been great strips and there have been major strips not those two, just not together.) I think it's severely underestimated the way a great TV show might be in the last couple seasons when the first few seasons were so powerful and beloved, but that work is still there and if the last five years of Doonesbury were a brand new strip by an unknown talent we wouldn't be able to shut up about it. I wish him every creative and professional happiness with whatever he wants to do and whenever he wants to do it.
 
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Festivals Extra: Autoptic Announces Its Second Show, For 2015

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from here
 
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Missed It: Radio Wire

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note the use of static imagery altered within the same basic visual parameters, an effect I've seen mostly with the webcomics the writer Mark Waid is doing
 
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Ung Bun Heang, 1951/52-2014

imageUng Bun Heang, the Cambodian cartoonist who depicted his survival of the terrors of the Khmer Rouge rule in his native country during the late 1970s, died in Sydney on February 8. Heang became in recent years a chronicler of Cambodian politics with satirical takes so sharp they led to government intervention against the publication of his work on-line.

Bun was a 23-year-old art student when the Khmer Rouge took control -- you can see a surviving photo of him during his student days here. The political disruption forced his family to flee Phnom Penh and sent the cartoonist back to his home village, where he was put to service on various work units, eventually being forced into a labor camp. Over 30 of his extended family members were killed during this time period (his immediate family remaind miraculously intact). Ung married his wife Pliny in 1977 -- she would lose over 50 relatives including the vast majority of her immediate family during this same time period. The pair survived a series of setbacks, including the artist's hospitalization, before liberation in 1979. The artist briefly found work in the capital city as an animator, but eventually he and Pliny made their way to the Thai border and were accepted for resettlement to Australia.

The Ungs were initially situated in Brisbane, a welcome step-up from the refugee camp in which they had spent the previous six months. The drawings that would constitute his most famous series of cartoons, two-thirds of which were later published as The Murderous Revolution: Life & Death In Pol Pot's Kampuchea in 1985, had humble beginnings during this time period. The artist wanted to portray what he and his wife had suffered in the half-decade previous while it was still fresh in memory and wanted to communicate their story to those with whom they worked on resettlement but lacked the verbal skills in English to do so. The 90 drawings -- which were then given English captions -- were created that year and into 1981. The drawings themselves were later donated to the Australian National University.

Ung's artwork was performed in Indian ink on high quality paper that allowed the artist to make nuanced, detailed drawings -- the emotional impressions of the people involved are their most significant feature. Each drawing took an average of 12 hours to compete. The artist and his wife would talk through each depicted experience in order to capture as much as they could from their memories. The resulting 1985 boook was not only popular in its intial form but was bootlegged and passed around the communities were people had similar stories to tell. It was reprinted in 1986 and again in 1998.

In a joint statement in 2012 upon the donation of the art, the Ungs said, "We are very fortunate to have survived the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. We endured and witnessed many acts of violence. We were separated from our loved ones, our families and friends, we lost our sense of belonging and it was a constant struggle to keep our sanity. We suffered a great deal of pain and torment, and the physical and emotional scars remain with us today."

The artist eventually turned his attention back onto the country of his birth, and was a relentless critic of its corruption and abuses. In January 2011 his cartoons were part of a directed blockage of media by the Cambodian government, and his Sacravatoons site went dark.

The cause of death was complications due to a long-standing illness. Most reports have him at 61 years old, although one date of birth provided is 1951. He is survived by a son, Justin Ung, and I believe up to three other children.

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Go, Look: The Moon Prince

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that is a lot of pages
 
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Go, Read: TCJ On Morrie Turner; Memorial Service Report

If you have a few moments, you should read both RC Harvey's excellent obituary for the late Morrie Turner and this news story about local people coming out for his memorial service and how many were generally taken with Turner's ideas of rainbow power and general example. His belief in the value of his work was justified and admirable, something from which we can all learn no matter what we do.
 
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Go, Look: Les Gobes Mouches

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Go, Look: Moebius Black And White Mini-Gallery

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Missed It: Your 2014 CBC Bookie Awards Winner, Graphic Novel Or Comic Book: The Spectral Engine

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I totally missed this Canadian Broadcasting Corporation "Bookie Awards" listing, which had a "Graphic Novel or Comic Book" category. The winner was The Spectral Engine by Ray Fawkes. I'm not familiar with the Random House effort, but I do know Fawkes' writing work on American mainstream comics. I will bold Fawkes' book in its place on the finalists list.

* Very Casual by Michael Deforge
* Susceptible by Geneviève Castrée
* The Spectral Engine by Ray Fawkes
* Journal by Julie Delporte
* Palookaville #21 by Seth
 
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Go, Look: Busiek/Perez-Era Avengers Covers Gallery

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By Request Extra: Any Excuse To Post This Craig Thompson Art

image* we're starting to see different pieces of Usagi Yojimbo-related art being finished by any number of talented folks. They're doing it for the original art auction of Usagi art to benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai, who are caught in difficulty because of staggering home health care costs. Some of that art -- and I bet Craig Thompson's piece will be among them -- is set to make it into a Dark Horse published book that will also benefit the Sakais. It's great to see such fun art for such a great cause, and it's good that there are multiple entry points through which to entice people to contribute. I hope that people remember that there are opportunities to directly contribute and to maybe do things like offer to do Sakai-related art at shows if people are so inclined with that money being donated. I've "paid" a couple of people for services rendered with a Sakai donation -- at their insistence -- and I thought that was very generous of both people. Every bit helps.

* here's a crowd-funder that's already reached its goal featuring the work of the great Kim Deitch.

* finally, and speaking of projects that have met their goals, congratulations to Jackie Estrada for making her crowd-funder goal on a book of photographs featuring tons of cartoonists and comics people pulled from her extensive background in involved fandom. She did it with double-digit days to spare. I really want to see that one, so its success makes me happy.
 
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Go, Look: John Buscema Tarzan Splash Pages

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* totally missed that Genesis an image project featuring art by Alison Sampson, had been made official with a cover and everything. Iv'e been swiping from Sampson's tumblr for about two solid years now.

image* art for Manuele Fior's next book popped up on-line here. It looks super pretty.

* I totally missed that Warren Craghead has new work out, this time drawings inspired by atrocities in Syria. Craghead is a vastly under-appreciated comics-maker. I also missed that Aron Nels Steinke and Ariel Cohn will do The Zoo Box for First Second this Fall. It might be the way I break out in hives about the over-use of the word "exclusive," which, ironically, makes that kind of news more exclusive than if I were more comfortable processing it and then repeating it right away.

* Virginia Paine at Sparkplug dropped about a year's worth of news all at once in a recent e-mail/posting.
+ Reich #11 is delayed until LA ZineFest or directly after LA ZineFest.
+ they are accepting order for the first in their Sparkplug Mini Series, Asher Craw's Hungry Summer.
+ the second in that series will by Infinite Astronaut: Corpse Exquisite by Ariyana Suvarnasuddhi. That one will debut at CAKE.
+ the third in that series will be The Anthropologists by Whit Taylor, and will be out in July corresponding with Portland Zine Symposium.
+ the publisher plans to exhibit at LA Zine Fest (February 16), LineworkNW (April 12), CAKE (May 31 to June 1), Portland Zine Symposium (July 12-13), and SPX (September 13-14).
So there you go! That should take us a few months from now on Sparkplug.

* not comics: future volumes of Rookie will be published via the Random House/Penguin imprint Razorbill.

* our friends at Fantagraphics has a preview up for the Conor Stechschulte book The Amateurs.

* so the writer Geoff Johns will team with the artist John Romita Jr. on a Superman project for DC Comics. That's actually a big deal from some overlapping angles. One is that the book should sell well. Another is that what Geoff Johns is doing creatively at DC is always worth noting due to his central role at the company. A third is that John Romita Jr. is one of the great mainstream comic book artists of the last quarter century so everything he does is interesting. A fourth is that Romita Jr. is very much seen as a Marvel talent, as that's where he has done the bulk of his work. A fifth is that Romita Jr. doing this kind of work -- as opposed to the Kick-Ass project with Mark Millar -- almost certainly involves a hefty page rate (Kick-Ass may involve one as well depending on how things were put together, but that kind of project is also royalty and outside-licensing oriented in a way Superman is not for a comic book artist), so I assume there's something to be said there just for DC stepping up to the plate for a talent like Romita on a book like this one. A sixth? It could be a fun comic. Interesting times.

* finally, a pair of major releases for younger-but-not-necessarily-all-young readers were put out there this week. Kazu Kibuishi gave folks a look at this summer's Amulet volume cover. First Second Books has a cover up here for the Cory Doctorow/Jen Wang collaboration In Real Life, which like a lot of First Second Books has an appealing-sounding high concept hook.

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

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Go, Look: Buzzfeed Moses

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Richard Bruton makes an announcement of intention for the British Comics Awards, although there's a long, long time before the nominations window is shut so I'm not sure you need to pay close attention to the details there.

image* Sean Gaffney on Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. 23. Shea Hennum on New Jobs.

* some nice person named Camila profiles Laura Park.

* Marc Arsenault draws an inside back cover for an issue of Monster. Steve Dillon draws Jesse Custer. Wendy Pini draws a fantasy scene. Steve Rude draws Superman. Vaughn Bodé draws a scene from The Wizard Of Oz.

* the very first Watchmen joke.

* I haven't been following the various DC comic books too closely, and the latest "Forever Evil" crossover confuses me, but if the evil, coward-benefiting Green Lantern ring from another universe dragged Shaggy Rogers from Scooby Doo into one of those grim, gritty superhero comic books, I'd probably have to read it it would be so freaking dumb. J. Caleb Mozzocco was just having a laugh, though.

* I wish I'd thought of this: reading Facebook "like" metrics as a way of indicating potential markets. This is the kind of thing that gets bogged down in lunacy in any comments section, so I skipped them, but my first reaction is that this is a confirmation of what everyone knows about comics: that there's a massive market for female readers, and that this market is in some places still very underserved. Usually the way the arguing breaks down is that one side pretends that not everyone knows this in order to bolster a point they want to make, while the other side doesn't like the implications of this so suggests a variety of side-steps, like the people that "like" comic books aren't really potential customers. The truth is strip comics have long had a majority or near-majority of female readers, ditto manga, ditto webcomics, and art comics have a singificant percentage of women reading them. There are more women reading high-end genre comics like superheroes than you'd think -- my best adult friend's favorite character is Judge Dredd -- although they're likely still not as prevalent as they are within these other readerships, in part because they're willfully not catered to due to culture and perceived paths to profit.

* not comics: I do this only with outsized genitalia.

* missed it: Richard Sherman vs. Shermy.

* finally: hey there, Jackie Ormes.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Reinhard Kleist!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Mo Willems!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Drew Sheneman!

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February 10, 2014


Go, Look: Hic & Hoc Announces Their 2014 Line-Up

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The publisher Hic & Hoc has released a whole bunch of cover images and specific information for their 2014 publishing line-up. Formally announced were:

* Cheer Up, Noah Van Sciver, Fall, comic book , 24 pages.
* Infinite Bowman, Pat Aulisio, Fall, softcover, 144 pages.
* Irene Vol. 4, Dakota McFadzean, Andy Warner, and d w (Editors); McFadzean, Warner, DW, Amy Lockhart And Emi Gennis And Jackie Roche And James Hindle And Georgia Webber And Various (Creators); Spring, softcover, 168 pages.
* Mimi and the Wolves Act I, Alabaster, Spring, softcover, 64 pages.
* Scaffold: The Collected Edition, V A Graham & J A Eisenhower, Summer, Softcover, 64 pages.

I guess I could just replicate the information presented, but let me direct you to the Hic & Hoc post linked-to above; they deserve the (surely modest) traffic. I think that's a fine line-up. Can't have too much Noah Van Sciver.
 
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Go, Look: Onsmith Comics

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Go, Read: Paul Karasik Final Angouleme Blog Post

Paul Karasik was nice enough to provide this site with some material regarding this year's FIBD in Angouleme, France. He's written one more post for his site, and if you enjoyed the posts here you might like that one, too.

By the way, this was the article most recommended to me for a summary look at the news stories from that big event, now eight days in the rearview mirror which is like an epoch in comics industry time; meanwhile, this photo array from Matt Madden and Jessica Abel is English-language comics people loaded, as you might expect. And this is a great English-language summary post.
 
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Go, Look: Strange Planet Stories

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Go, Read: Colleen Doran About Her Brain Fog

imageColleen Doran writes about her forgetfulness and focus issues and the medical reason behind them here. I think there are frequently contributing causes like this when someone has a long period of not functioning well. Also, while one can imagine in some cases -- not Doran's -- there may be a self-inflicted or self-enabling element involved that doesn't mean the medical side should be discounted or ignored as a treatable possibility. One of the reasons that good healthcare is so important to members of various creative communities that tend to lack access to it is the treatment of problems like this one, and I hope that comics collectively, whatever that's going to mean going forward, can get to a better place with this stuff in the next two decades. In the meantime, I hope that people with new access to health care plans will look into anything chronic they can think of that might be getting them down; if this has been made available to you yet, I'd suggest calling around and finding a doctor that could take you on for cash payments -- a lot of doctor's offices, particularly in small or poor communities, will discount up to 50 percent for cash at time of appointment.
 
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Is This Still Comics' Greatest Publicity Campaign?

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Carol Tyler Publishes A Strip In A Regional Magazine And Someone Should Publish It So I Can Read It

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Just saying. Her cartooning is super-pretty right now.
 
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Go, Look: George Wilson Comic Book Cover Paintings

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Reed's Monday Announcement Is A Partnership With Oz Comic-Con

Here. It actually came out yesterday over there, almost two days ago because of the way the time zones line up. Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP boasted of today's announcement as a way to deflect attention from last week's reveal here of the June comics-only show they're planning, which is now being reported more widely by additional sites and seems a poorly-kept secret. My understanding is that the reason this wasn't just confirmed is that there's still some doubt about it coming off, or at least that's the stance of ReedPOP. So when they nail that down -- and inviting people to attend seems pretty damn far along -- they'll announce that, too.

As we pointed out last Friday, the comics-only New York show is interesting from a bunch of different angles: 1) New York show, 2) comics-only, which might help repair some relationships or establish some bonafides in the comics community that isn't always well served by the Pop Culture Expo model, 3) proxmity to Heroes Con, particularly -- and this is important -- in the long-term if comics retailers get involved with that show because a NYC show could end up being more appealing than heading down south to Charlotte. It also could be a successful third US show for ReedPOP, as it lies between C2E2 and NYCC.

As for the partnership with the Aussie show, that's not all that interesting to me except that how naked and aggressive the article is in promoting the pop culture aspects of a show like that, right down to a definition that doesn't necessarily include comics at all. I like Lance Fensterman and I'm sure it's a show that works for a lot of people, but the NYCC shows I attended had almost nothing to do with anything I appreciate or like about comics, and have become even less so in the scheduling/planning since that time. C2E2 seems more comics-oriented for the lack of roping in the pop-culture element more than anything else, and its primary virtue to my circle of comics acquaintances seems to be it not being a Wizard show. They are interesting businesses, though, and have a significant impact on several elements of comics publishing, so they will always be worth watching.
 
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Go, Look: MW Kaluta Gallery

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A Pair Of Quick Convention/Festival Notes

* it looks like Linework NW exhibitor yays and nays have gone out via e-mail; the exhibitor list will be made public this week. It looks like from a comment I saw someone make somewhere -- and I can't remember now, so forgive me if this is private info -- that applications to okays ran 3 to 1. That's great for as how first time out of the gate, and tells you about both the general appetite for comics shows, the appeal of Portland and the strength of that city's cartooning community. I hope that folks that didn't get in will still attend and support the show. I'm hoping to go, but it doesn't look likely. I am really, really hoping for a series of strong local shows that are fiercely local, without the ambition to become sizable regional shows except if absolutely demanded by the course and strength of the festival itself, and I think this could be one of the model ones.

* JK Parkin caught something I totally missed: that a big chunk of people were able to begin signing up for Comic-Con over the weekend: last-year attendees that have since gone about securing a registration code. That my computer isn't melted from the white-hot fury of spurred fans indicates to me that it's gone okay so far. It looks like they've built in some pooling and delays to get out of the "everyone crash onto the site at 30 second past the hour that characterized these things in years past. That's a tough thing for Comic-Con given the constraints of San Diego attendance-wise.
 
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So What Did Boulet's 2014 Angouleme 24-Hour Comic Look Like?

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this
 
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Go, Look: Bergen Street Comics

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* I'm still intensely interested in Meredith Gran's stab at Patreon financing. I was wrong last week in thinking that she was the first cartoonist with whom I'm familiar to try one of these, but after looking at some of the very talented folks that are doing one I still think that Gran may be most instructive for cartoonists tha aren't in a very specific place with their fanbases and crowd-funding mechanisms of all types. In other words, I can think of a lot of talented cartoonists that would be emboldened by Gran succeeding in a big way and interested if her attempt doesn't quite get over in a self-reflective way. But that any talented cartoonist has made this work for themsleves as has already happened, the floodgates have a really good chance of being open now and we should see a lot more and adjustments as to what might work and what might not and adjustment when there are a bunch as opposed to a few.

* Ken Eppstein's latest Kickstarter for Nix Comics has a super-cute video in accompaniment. Eppstein pays his creators and runs a generally tight ship, so I never have any reservations about how he'll spend any money raised for such a project.

* I would imagine that Denver would be a very good place for a free newspaper, and I'm surprised they don't have something like that. Denver is an interesting city to me in that it's a great city in which to live by all sort of measurables -- and also if you just go there -- but it doesn't seem to lead with its counter-culture the way a lot of similar cities might. Anyway, that's a good line-up they have.

* I have to admit I'm a little confused by the idea of raising money for a comic that will then be used to raise money, but the comic described here should be really cool and that's of course a deserving cause.

* here's another subscription-type project using Kickstarter: Yeah Dude Comics.

* and here's a crowd-funder that was suggested to me by an artist, but I can't remember which artist.

* I would want to poke around this anthology crowd-funding request a bit more before I'd say anything in support of it -- or against it, for that matter -- just because I simply haven't had the time, but like anything that gets linked to from here I trust you to make those decisions on your own and certainly don't want to deny you knowledge of a potentially interesting book like this one.

* Tony Breed's new book I found on my own; my recollection is that he's crowd-funded projects in the past.

* finally, this isn't a comic but a comics-related project in whose subject I imagine everyone will be interested.
 
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Go, Look: At Work Inside Our Detention Centres: A Guard's Story

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Go, Look: Scott Morse Spider-Man Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* start here for a report and pictures on Shelton Drum's original art exhibition opening. Drum's a force for good in comics, and I enjoyed looking at some of his art at a gallery show during a HeroesCon a few years ago.

image* John Kane on a bunch of different works by Howard Chaykin. Richard Bruton on The Bluecoats Vol. 7. Henry Chamberlain on George Reeves #1. Joe Gordon on The Golem. Paul Constant on Real Good Stuff.

* Jen Vaughn is probably still doing custom art for Valentine's Day. I don't know; you'd have to ask her. Or you could just go look at the art and enjoy the post that way. I don't know. It's up to you.

* not comics: I like this Lisa Hanawalt book cover.

* Johanna Draper Carlson writes about a project called Watson And Holmes that tried print serialization and is going back to a web-serialization model buttressed by print collections. It's worth noting the range of choices for work like taht in the digital/print markets, and also that the Direct Market of comics and hobby shops doesn't always work for all projects.

* not comics: this is an essay about prose reading culture that made the rounds last week that like many of its type has a bit to say about comics culture, as I think there's a certain element of comics culture that struggles more significantly with the idea that any comics that shift you out of any sort of comfort zone are elitist and fail to perform their consumerist function and are therefore unsuccessful. I don't know that I agree with every notion floated here let alone its ability to cross over into comics commentary, but I think that's always a general issue upon which useful time can be spent dwelling.

* if you live in Seattle and have some weekend time free this Spring, you may be able to take a comics course from David Lasky and Greg Stump, who are at once interesting cartoonists and experienced teachers of comics.

* Ng Suat Tong has put together a list of admirable on-line criticism for 2013.

* not comics: you can buy something called a "piggy bag" with John Romita Jr. art on it.

* finally, Sean Kleefeld updates us on his new office/library.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Frédéric Pontarolo!

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February 9, 2014


Go, Look: Kristyna Baczynski

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Morrie Turner, 1923-2014

imageThe newspaper comic strip cartoonist, illustrator and educator Morrie Turner died on January 25 in Sacramento, California. He was 90 years old. Turner was the first African-American to see his work widely distributed to North American newspapers through traditional syndication strategies. His Wee Pals was also the first such strip to employ a cast of characters from a wide variety of races and ethnicities. The cause of Turner's death was complications due to kidney disease, according to a report in the New York Times quoting a family spokesperson.

Morris Turner was born in Oakland in 1923. He had three older siblings. His father was a Pullman porter, a secure job prized in the black community but one that took him away from his family for days and weeks at a time. The primary household presence was Turner's mother, who worked as a nurse and instilled in her children Christian values and faith that Turner would profess for the rest of his life. Turner grew up in West Oakland and went to school in ethnically and racially diverse classrooms he would recall when turning to newspaper strips decades later. He attended McClymonds High School and Berkeley High School. While he had no formal art training, it is believe he may have worked with some correspondence course materials as a young man.

Turner joined the Army Air Corps in World War II and served on the newspaper of the 332nd Fighter Group, better known as the Tuskegee Airmen (or even as the 477th Bombardment Group). His cartoon appeared in that newspaper and in Stars And Stripes. The writer, cartoonist and curator Andrew Farago, currently employed at the Cartoon Art Museum, told CR that like many veterans Turner rarely talked about his service, even one with the historical pedigree of the Airmen. "I knew him for ten years before he casually mentioned that in a panel discussion at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco a couple of years back," he said.

Turner married the former Letha Mae Harvey in 1946. Upon leaving the armed services, Turner would find a clerk's position with the Oakland police. He also began to freelance cartoon and provide illustrations to client. He built a list that included the Saturday Evening Post and Ebony. Turner became a friend of Charles Schulz, a solid, established presence in the newspapers and a rising star across all of pop culture. It was with Schulz's encouragement -- and rolodex -- that Turner began to develop a newspaper comic strip, in part to redress the lack of black characters on the page. Wee Pals' other key foster-parent was the comedian Dick Gregory, whose own work and public profile was in the process of a significant transformation due to the cultural shift brought about by the 1960s. It's unknown why Turner worked for almost twenty years as a cartoonist before moving into syndication, but the result was a mature, fully-realized effort from day one.

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Wee Pals focused on a set of childhood playmates like a few other prominent, past comic strip features. Unlike those features, the group readers encountered in Wee Pals clearly racially and ethnically diverse: white, black, hispanic, asian, Jewish. The lead character was a black kid named Nipper, visually distinguished further by a Confederate cap that covered his eyes. Other characters were Jerry, Diz and Ralph, and the cast would eventually expand to include any number of kids defined only cynically by something other than their individual personalities. Despite its friends in high places -- Bil Keane named a character in his Family Circus after Turner in 1967, Wee Pals was at best a slow-builder and at worst a near non-starter. Wee Pals only attracted a few client upon its debut from the Register and Tribune Syndicate in 1965. It wasn't until 1968 that a number of clients less than ten started to grow, in part because of that year's troubled political climate including the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Spring. Legend has it by year's end that Turner's client list had swollen to over 100, certainly a sustainable number of several years moving forward.

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Turner was one of a small number of National Cartoonist Society members to visit the troops in Vietnam. He and five other cartoonists spent almost a month there, visiting and drawing for the troops.

Wee Pals was the basis for the television cartoon Kid Power, which came from Rankin Bass studio starting in September 1972. A live-action show, where kid actors playing the Wee Pals took educational trips with their creator, started appearing on a San Francisco TV station that year and increased Turner's public standing in that community significantly. Wee Pals remained a reasonably solid performer particularly in the 1970s, the last true decade of multiple-newspaper towns where a strip with a perceived potential audience advantage like Wee Pals was a valuable commodity in distinguishing one paper from the other. The strip would add to its large cast through the years, becoming even more diverse. Turner became one of the few cartoonists of his era for whom it could be argued he was better known than his strip. He moved into children's books. The strip was collected into the paperback format that dominated the '60s and '70s, primarily through Signet Books.

One significant effect that Turner may have had on the Sunday newspaper page and in his animated work is that by featuring a cast with multiple children of color, all of whom were significant and recurring, a range of skin colors had to be used to depict them rather than a single, limited color employed to represent black skin.

Turner became a popular outreach and community-program arts educator in the Bay Area. "It's possible that every kid in Oakland from the 1970s through the 1990s saw Morrie speak at his school at least once," Andrew Farago told CR. He spoke at schools, libraries, museums, conventions, anywhere he'd find a receptive audience that wanted to hear about his life and his art. Even when his health started declining in recent years, he barely scaled back on his public appearances."

In a lengthy, lovely appreciation, the artist Jimmie Robinson noted the effect that Turner's example and presence could have on young, black artists.

"I was in a school for the arts. It was a magnet education/arts program in Oakland, California called Mosswood Arts. So it wasn't uncommon for the school to have various artists come in and speak to the students. However, when Morrie Turner came to visit there was something different. And for me it was that Mr. Turner was black. In fact, in my three years at that art school he was the only black adult artist I ever met."

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In later years the key role Turner's strip played on the comics page in terms of diversifying its content made him the subject of lengthy profiles and appreciations. He would eventually move his strip to Creators Syndicate and it has remained in syndication, with likely only a handful of clients, including the Oakland Tribune. Wee Pals was still Turner's work, with a shakier line and increasingly loose lettering, but boasting the same emphases as years and decades past. One of the things that Turner did that may have been unique to Wee Pals was turning over the strip to an historical person or high-achieving living personality without needing the spur of a special holiday or week to do so. Farago told CR that Turner may have been ready to once again consider full retirement once Wee Pals had hit its 50th year in 2015.

Turner received the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 from the National Cartoonist Society. He also received the Anti-Defamation League's Humanitarian Award, the Boys and Girls Club Image Award, the B'Nai B'rith Humanitarian Award, the California Educators Award, an Inkpot Award from the San Diego Comic-Con, the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference Of Christians And Jews, awards from the American Red Cross and the NAACP, and the California Black Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000, the Cartoon Art Museum presented Turner with the Sparky Award named after his friend Charles Schulz. In 2012, Turner won the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, which he accepted in front of an admiring crowd at the Eisner Awards ceremony. A documentary on Turner's life through the prism of his religious beliefs, Keeping the Faith with Morrie, was released in 2001, and Turner was one of the cartoonists feature in 1980's The Fantastic Funnies. A major retrospective of Turner's work was hosted in San Francisco's main library marking the 45th year of Wee Pals.

In addition to his professional, educational and community work, Turner also in his later years became an active member of the Center For Spiritual Awareness in West Sacramento. He was also on the advisory board at Cartoon Art Museum.


Turner is survived by a son and namesake, four grandchildren and a companion, Karol Trachtenburg. He was preceded in death by wife Leatha in 1994.

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Go, Look: Melinda Gebbie

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Go, Look: Tales From The Crypt

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Not Comics: Apocalypse Art From A Long, Long Time Ago

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Go, Look: Last Meal

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Go, Look: House Of Freaks

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i got a bunch of people e-mailing me this link, which almost certainly means someone of significance had it first; my apologies
 
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If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 60th Birthday, Jo Duffy!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Tim Truman!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Sarah Byam!

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Happy 55th Birthday, David B.!

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FFF Results Post #366 -- Going Under

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Underground Comix Stories You Like." This is how they responded.

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John Vest

1. Doc Destiny by Kim Deitch
2. Greg Irons' Corporate Cancer
3. Hitler's Cocaine
4. The Fat Freddy's Cat story on the inside front cover of Freak Brothers #6
5. Whiteman Meets Bigfoot

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Fritz the Cat in "Superstar" -- Robert Crumb
2. Cobalt 60 -- Vaughn Bode
3. Legion of Charlies -- Veitch & Irons
4. Panthea -- Trina Robbins
5. Snappy Sammy Smoot gets his tv shot up -- Skip Williamson

*****

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Larry Rippee

* Frank Stack, "Jesus Goes to the Movies," The New Adventures of Jesus
* Justin Green, "Th' Kiss-Off," Bijou 6
* Willy Murphy, "A Uniquely Complete Experience,” Arcade 4
* Gilbert Shelton, "Wonder Blows an Easy One,” Zap 3
* R. Crumb, "That’s Life," Arcade 3

*****

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Sean Rogers

* R. Crumb, "Mr. Natural's 719th Meditation"
* Shary Flenniken, "Birth Control" strip from The Tortoise and the Hare
* Jaxon, "Nits Make Lice"
* Art Spiegelman, "The Malpractice Suite"
* S. Clay Wilson, "Captain Pissgums and His Pervert Pirates"

*****

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D. Merrill

* P. Serniuk's "Mutants Of The Metropolis", a surprisingly thoughtful if slightly crudely rendered book-length SF story, succeeds on sheer honest to god weirdness played perfectly straight.
* Gilbert Shelton's The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in "Phineas Goes To The Store". There are Freak Brothers stories that are wackier, more epic, and more drug-addled, but this short hits the sweet spot of a normal situation blown comically out of proportion, set firmly in the mid 1970s when the stoner culture was quivering on the brink of becoming respectable. Also, the title of the film Phineas decides to make, "Star Hookers, Space Perverts, And The Intergalactic Cocaine Wars," never fails to make me laugh.
* David Carrino and Pete Bagge's "The Ever-Lovin' Adventures Of Stretchpants And Beverage Bottles" (Weirdo #25) is a transgressive, shameless, obscene riot that takes no prisoners in its single minded pursuit of laffs. Cheerfully foul in a way most comics only dream of.
* Jay Kinney & Paul Mavrides "Kultur Dokuments" (Anarchy Comics) mixes class struggle, modern iconography, pictograms, and political and corporate doublespeak with what's hands down the sharpest Archie Comics parody ever. Pretty much anything these two did together was subversive, smart, and hilarious.
* Spain's "Trashman Meets The Fighting She-Devils" (what was that, Subvert?) pretty much hits all the high points of a great UG comic, hits them with brass knuckles and a crowbar.

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. Dan O' Neill, "The Collective Unconscience of Odd Bodkins"
2. S. Clay Wilson, "Captain Pissgums and His Pervert Pirates," Zap #3
3. Howard Cruse, "Raising Nancies," Snarf #12
4. Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb, "How I Quit Collecting Records and Put Out a Comic Book With the Money I Saved," American Splendor #4
5. Gilbert Shelton, "Set Your Chickens Free," Bijou Funnies #1

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. The Freaks Pull a Heist!
2. Binky Brown meets the Holy Virgin Mary (or Once upon a time)
3. Joe Blow
4. My Troubles with Women
5. Dicknose

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Simian Sin! by Kim Deitch
2. A Reason To Live by George Kuchar
3. Situation Comedy by Bill Griffith
4. Rita Markee Pilgrim To Paradise on la Cock a Roach Cho Cho by Michael McMillan
5. Mr. Natural #3 by Robert Crumb

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Mickey Mouse Today! by Joel Beck
2. Melvin Natural by Skip Williamson
3. Luna Toon by Victor Moscoso
4. Skeeter Grant by Art Spiegelman
5. Bombs Away by Rick Griffin

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* You Can't Have Them All: Magnificent Specimens I Have Seen, by Robert Crumb, published in Hup #4
* My Word by Wally Wood, published in Big Apple Comix
* The Legion Of Charlies by Tom Veitch and Greg Irons
* The Man by Vaughn Bode
* Blackhawks by Errol McCarthy, published in Slow Death #7

*****

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Craig Fischer

* "Chicago '68," Spain Rodriguez
* "The Demons of Legion," Justin Green
* "The Legion of Charlies," Tom Veitch and Greg Irons
* "My Big Break," Paul Mavrides
* "Uncovered Property," Carol Tyler

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. "Wonder Wart-Hog meets Super-Patriot" by Gilbert Shelton
2. "Getting Shafted" by Vaughn Bode
3. " The Origin of Trashman" by Spain Rodriguez
4. "Panthea" by Trina Robbins
5. "Rowlf" by Richard Corben

*****

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Robin McConnell

1. Beyond Time and Again by George Metzger
2. Legion of Charlies by Greg Irons and Tom Veitch
3. Binky Brown and and the Holy Virgin Mary by Justin Green
4. A Short History of America by Robert Crumb
5. Don't Get Around Much Anymore by Art Spiegelman

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Mickey Mouse Meets The Air Pirates Funnies (lead story) by Dan O'Neill
2. Make Room For Harry (found in Dopin' Dan #1) by Willy Murphy
3. Grass Roots (Fabulous Furry Freak Bros #5) by Gilbert Shelton
4. My Word (found in Big Apple #1) by Wally Wood
5. Doofus: The 40 Acres Club by Rick Altergott

*****

topic suggested and examples provided by John Vest; thanks, John

*****
*****
 
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February 8, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Graham Kolbeins' Documentary About Edie Fake


That Doonesbury Animated TV Show From The '70s


Famous Cartoonists Short


Cartoonist Proposes Via Comic Strip


Closing Ceremony From FIBD 2014


A "Day At Angouleme" Style Video


Not Comics: My Mom Said I Should Include This Russian Animated Short Because She Learned About It Watching The Olympics Last Night


Kickstarter Video Filmed At OSU's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library And Museum
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from February 1 to February 7, 2014:

1. Bill Watterson wins the Grand Prix at the Angouleme Festival. It is unknown if he will attend next year's festival as its president.

2. The Patreon floodwalls begin to crumble, as cartoonists of all shapes and sizes and career expectations follow -- or consider following -- the lead of key webcomics makers into a patronage model employing crowd-funding culture.

3. Rumors begin to swirl of a potential mid-June NYC show run by Reed.

Winner Of The Week
Watterson.

Loser Of The Week
My wallet, your wallet, all wallets.

Quote Of The Week
"I attended my first Angouleme Festival seven or eight years ago. That year, an alternative comics store popped-up on a side street. Adjacent to the store, the purveyors had painted a reproduction of one of Richard McGuire's 'Popeye' designs on a metal gate. Over the years the mural has been vandalized and finally, inevitably, this year it received a fresh coat of gray paint.

"When I first saw this sign years ago, my jaw dropped. Richard's Popeye designs are brilliant yet relatively unknown in the U.S. and here they were memorialized. Only in Angouleme! Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera that day.

"So I returned the next day in the snow, camera in hand. As I neared the door, I could see that someone else had the same idea and was taking a snapshot. It turned out to be Charles Burns.

"Only in Angouleme!" -- Paul Karasik

*****

today's cover is from Marvel Comics during the year 1964

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Phil Noto Gallery Show

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

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

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Bill Finger Would Have Been 100 Years Old Today

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Happy 49th Birthday, Marc Chalvin!

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February 7, 2014


By Request Special: Box Brown Is Selling Wrestler Portraits For A Freelance Assignment Gone KaBlooey

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A Couple Of Jobs In The Comics Industry

* Fantagraphics
* ReedPOP
 
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Go, Look: John Ohannesian

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Go, Participate: Last Call For The Work In Comics Survey

Here. Bart Beaty approves of this academic and their work, so I approve of both as well. The subject matter is certainly important given the years of cloudiness that surround how people actually function and are rewarded in the world of comics. I hope if you're a pro you'll take part.
 
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This Is A Potentially Huge Story: Meredith Gran Takes Octopus Pie To Patreon (Updated: It's Begun)

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I could be totally wrong about this, but it strikes me that a cartoonist like Meredith Gran taking a known quantity like her Octopus Pie series to Patreon is a huge test of that site's ability to support an a-list webcomics project. If it works, I think there could be a rush on Patreon launches the excitement for which hasn't been seen in comics since the days they had food avaialble for Eisner Awards audience attendees over at the Hyatt. I would imagine this could involve people like Gran that come from that traditional webcomics community, but also people that straddle print and on-line production, like the people Zack Soto publishes at StudyGroup and solo operators like Dustin Harbin and Noah Van Sciver. I imagine there will be some distortion here because of the novelty of it -- if Gran kills, there's no reason to think prominent webcomic #132 that does the same thing is going to do well, even if it's well-liked -- but boy, that should be fascinating to watch. I'll warn you that I am not the world's best trends and business development psychic.

Also, you might just like Gran's work and want to support it. So consider this a "go, look"/"by request" as well.

Update: Okay, I screwed this up. Actually, Zack Weinersmith is already at something like $7800 a month pledged for his SMBC. That completely escaped my attention. The Gran story becomes an important additional cog, then, and I think would be more instructive/informative for a lot of single-operator comics folks than success for the kind of work that Weinersmith does and the kind of profile he and others enjoy. (If you read a value judgment into that, you're reading it wrong.) I would expect a flood of projects in the next eight weeks, then, as people follow their natural impulse to make money from their art, perhaps seek to capitalize on any initial novelty factor involved and maybe even negotiate the fear that people may only want to support a limited number of projects this way. This would be mitigated, one assumes, by what Weinersmith nicely informed me is potential momentum by people being able to cluster their payments for all Patreon projects they're supporting and only picking up one processing fee.

How else did I screw this one up? I had noted that Erika Moen was doing a project-based one, although that seems to me to operate on different cultural triggers. Your opinion may differ, but it should have been mentioned again as, like Gran, Moen has a profile that crosses industry worlds a bit and will be paid attention in a specific way. Jon Rosenberg is also using the mechanism. Whoops. Well, welcome to the new gold rush.
 
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OTBP: Weekend For Two

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Something I Completely Missed About That Preacher TV Project

imageNever send a comics reporter to write about television shows. I wrote this this morning:
not comics: I'm not all that interested in television/film adaptations of popular comic book series, but if DC picks up momentum in terms of having creator-driven stuff they published made into movies or prestige series, that could be a significant boon for them in retaining talent on the comics end of things. Preacher, and Game Of Thrones are similar to me -- to me -- in that they strike me as potentially more effectively as TV show than in their original forms. I wonder if they'll go pretty with the lead or if they'll go with someone like that very good series actor Walter Goggins.
Where I screwed up is assuming that DC was still involved. Apparently they aren't, or at least not in the full, deal-assembling way I assumed. Brandy Phillips at DC Entertainment nicely responded to my query after someone wrote me a "hey, you goofed up" e-mail with "Preacher is a creator-owned project, DC Entertainment is not involved in the show."

Well, okay then.

Someone off the record and not for attribution but someone I trust with some knowledge of the situation described it to me like this: "DC's media rights to Preacher expired, after more than a decade of trying to get this show going and failing miserably. They refused to re-assign media rights to Garth [Ennis], which he tried to get back when Paul [Levitz] cancelled The Boys over its content, despite it being WildStorm's only hit at the time. Within weeks -- no kidding -- of getting his rights back, Garth got Preacher to Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] and AMC. It's an interesting story, and it might generate interest in other creator-owned DC titles, but it's actually a deterrent for them in retaining talent, since most of the folks Vertigo would publish all know one another and [are] aware of the happenings with Preacher."

So that was an incredibly poor and sloppy assumption on my part on a day I seem to be leading the world in sloppy assumptions. My apologies. And yes, this could have the opposite effect for DC. There should be a slight boost for DC Entertainment and DC Comics by virtue of its long association with the title, its build-to-success there, and the ability of creators like Garth Ennis to build a name for themselves in a way that may help them facilitate success and deals elsewhere. But otherwise, it seems like a detriment. If a sole operator has greater success in securing a potentially lucrative televsion deal of the kind everyone wants after the outright failure of such a deal being secured by the big company, there is much less of a reason to work with the big company in question on a whole host of project-types given the options in the current creative landscape. Adjust your expectations and career goals and press your questions during negotiations as appropriate in the light of this information. I imagine we might learn more in the days ahead about the exact nature of the reversion -- if there's anything as of yet unclear -- and what rights lie with whom and to what percent if that's at issue. I would also imagine there may be interpretive objections. But the thrust of my initial interpretation was wrong; seems the opposite is closer to true.

As always, I'm glad for the creators. I hope I got that right this time and I'll add anything pertinent to this post if contacted.
 
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Go, Look: Peepers, Part Three

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Your 2013 Cartoonist Studio Prize Awards Nominees

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Slate Book Review and the Center For Cartoon Studies announced the nominees for their Cartoonist Studio Prize this morning. There are two categories; the prize winner will take home $1000. The lists were selected by Dan Kois (representing Slate); Nicole Georges (representing CCS) and Christopher Butcher (special guest judge). I don't agree with every choice on the list, but they seem super-solid in general and I'm impressed, for instance, that a book from earflier in the year like The Initiates and a book from later in the year like The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth were not ignored simply by virtue of when in the calendar year they were published.

*****

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Graphic Novel of the Year

* Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
* The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, Isabel Greenberg (Little, Brown)
* The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs, Etienne Davodeau (NBM)
* Julio's Day, Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Map of Days, Robert Hunter (Nobrow Press)
* Paul Joins the Scouts, Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
* The Property, Rutu Modan (Draawn And Quarterly)
* Sunny Vols. 1-2, Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz)
* Susceptible, Geneviève Castrée (Drawn And Quarterly)
* Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)

*****

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year

* As the Crow Flies, Melanie Gillman
* Bouletcorp, Boulet
* Gunshow, KC Green
* Household, Sam Alden
* The Lone Wolf, Jennifer Parks
* Lucky, Gabrielle Bell
* Oh Joy, Sex Toy, Erika Moen
* Out of Skin, Emily Carroll
* Sticks Angelica, Michael DeForge
* Subnormality, Winston Rowntree

*****

The winner will be announced in the March issue of Slate Book Review, which should come on-line March 7 if I'm reading the PR correctly. Last year's winners were Chris Ware and Noelle Stevenson.

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Go, Read: A 1982 Bill Kresse Profile

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Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson Exhibit At OSU's Billy Ireland Gets Offical Announcement

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Go here to read about the big Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum starting in March and running through August. This is a stellar choice for an exhibit to follow their opening put-the-greatest-hits-on-display show, and something I'm looking forward to seeing very much. My understanding is that both creators have been involved helping the individual curators, which is very exciting. Also be reminded that starting about mid-May the Daniel Clowes exhibit will be about 100 yards away over in the Wexner Center, a more general arts facility on campus there. So if you're going East to West for, say, CAKE, and wanted to stop, or were on the fence about doing SPACE, or if you like those artists enough to fly out, now you have much more information.

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Go, Read: About Chu F. Hing

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1, 2
 
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Fensterman: "We'll Be Announcing Something On Monday"; Circulated E-Mail Suggests June Reed Show?

So after receiving a pair of requests about rumors that ReedPOP may be announcing a summer show soon, a show that could potentially bump against more established conventions, I contacted that group's comics point man Lance Fensterman, who actually replied, and in fact confirmed a forthcoming announcement. "We've got nothing to share or announce but you know us, always looking for new ways to do cool stuff for our fans. We will be announcing something on Monday, but it's a long way from Manhattan."

The Manhattan line is due to how I phrased my question. I heard the show will be a comics-only event in New York. Later yesterday I received this e-mail forwarded:
How are you? I hope all is well! I wanted to be the first to share some very exciting news with you!

As you already know, ReedPop has always put on killer events like C2E2 and NYCC; well, this summer we are going to be launching our newest event called SPECIAL EDITION! Special Edition will be focused purely on comics... and the best and brightest the industry has to offer!

I wanted to offer you a complimentary table and to be featured at Special Edition in NYC, June 14-15, 2014 at the Jacob Javits Center; hosted in the North Pavilion, this intimate setting will give creators an incredible opportunity to showcase their work and a chance for fans to get up close and personal with their favorite creators.

We would really love for you to be a part of our inaugural installment of this new cutting edge event! In exchange for your participation at the show, we would be happy to provide you with a complimentary artist alley table.

Please let me know if you are interested and available to talk about this opportunity, we'd love to have you! We would like to lock you in as soon as possible, so we can announce your appearance along with our launch announcement. If you could please get back to me by 2/12 it would be greatly appreciated!

Looking forward to hearing back from you!

Thanks so much!

Mike

Mike Negin
Artist Alley and Creator Coordinator
Lance Fensterman declined to confirm or deny the legitimacy of the e-mail, restating, "We don't have anything to announce at this point."

Since Javits is right there in Manhattan, one has to guess that Monday's announcement is about something else entirely, with this announcement to come. Or this is Screw With Spurgeon Day.

Lots of angles to this if true. One: new show. Two: That's a week before HeroesCon. Here's the thing about that. A Reed-sized show, even one that's restricted to the comics medium, unless it's an SPX-style creators-only show could have an effect on one group of convention-goers we talk about very little. Not the pros -- it seems there are plenty of pros to go around, and Heroes is beloved. Not the attendees, who except for two or three shows which it's impossible to imagine this one going up against, tend to stick to the shows they like and as a result a lot of that traffic is local or regional. No, it's the comics dealers that might feel the impact here. If an East Coast retailer can stick to a regional show as opposed to hitting the road, that might be a very attractive proposition. Those are hard exhibitors to replace.

If false, the only angle I can is that someone is deliberately out to mess with HeroesCon people and related pros and I'll have gone three for three on stories with dubious elements today.

So all eyes on Monday and on this event.

Another wrinkle, which I don't think change anyone plans or strategies, is that there are already two small New York area shows that weekend. Eternalcon on Long Island; NY Comicfest in Westchester.
 
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Go, Look: The Avenger

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Go, Read: CBLDF On Teaching The Reading Of Comics In School

Here. I believe in the value of comics as an art form, certainly, and think we're heading towards a massive re-jiggering of how we do a lot of that part of our educational system in the next 25 years. I bet that will include comics. I'm not sure that I find as much value as the writer Gasey Gilly in the books listed, but literature courses have their A Separate Peaces as well. It's all in the teaching, one supposes. I remember being taught a James Fenimore Cooper book when I was like 15, and the teacher was invested in the conventional wisdom that Cooper is useless. I remember being very taken with a descriptive passage and mad that the teacher refused to engage with it.
 
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Go, Look: Comic Book Takeover

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Collective Memory: FIBD 2014

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2014 edition of the Festival International De La Bande Dessinée, help January 30 to February 2 in Angouleme, France.

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

*****

Institutional
* Convention Site
* Host City

Blog Entries
* The Beat (As Tagged And Archived)

Facebook
* FOFF Angouleme 2014

Miscellaneous
* Calvin Peeing On France
* Joe Keatinge Picks French Comics Offerings For Comixology
* Lewis Trondheim Draws Calvin And Hobbes

News Stories and Columns
* Le Huffington Post (Index)
* Le Nouvel Observateur
* Liberation 01

Photos
* Alec Longstreth
* Chuck Forsman
* Comixology 01
* Comixology 02
* Editions Dargaud 01
* Editions Dargaud 02
* Jen Vaughn
* Nicolas Guerin Photos At La Cite
* Nobrow Press
* Ryan Sands
* Sean Azzopardi

Twitter
* #fibd
* #fibd2014
* Twitter Search On Term Angouleme (Probably Only Works In Close Proximity To Festival

Video
* La Cite (Index)

*****



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OTBP: Red Right Hand #1

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* my e-mail inbox indicates that Jason Shiga has a new webcomic going, which means that somebody big likely had it and people are seeing it there so my apologies to that person and to Shiga for not noticing.

* this site may be useful for some of you, as it provides first panels from a variety of webcomics for your sampling pleasure.

* Gary Tyrrell notes a pair of webcomics anniversaries.

* adjustments to the comiXology app made some tech news blog and round-up, because they're a huge player overall there -- I don't know if either one mentioned, wish lists or manga in traditonal formats would drastically affect my reading experience, but just about everything that company does is new. Actually the wish lists might be nice in terms of sorting and finding things there to read.

* that company will have a significant presence at this weekend's comics show in India, as will maverick webcomics publisher Mark Waid. I would have to imagine that that particular market represents huge opportounities for anyone in the digital comics business given the number of English-language speakers India can boast.

* finally, you can IDW's story on-line.
 
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If I Were In New Orleans, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Greg Irons At The Bristol Board

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* great to hear that Richard Thompson is back at home and working.

image* Jen Sorensen talks to Alison Bechdel. J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Michael DeForge. Garrett Martin talks to Matt Fraction. Camila profiles Laura Park. James Reich talks to Malcolm Mc Neill. Paul Gravett profiles Paul Pope. Mark Evanier writes about Jack Kirby, two decades gone.

* James Vance sent along this Will Eisner, um, homage. (Actually, I don't know, it might be an acknowledged homage.)

* color! Steve Gerber! Bobby London!

* Robert Boyd likes the way the forest is drawn in Nausicaa as much as I do, and makes an industry cross-art comparison.

* Paul Hornschemeier draws Chip Kidd.

* Sabaa Tahir profiles the release of Marvel's new Ms. Marvel comic book in a way I figure a lot of articles are profiling that one. Joanna Scutts on The Great War.

* the retailer Mike Sterling describes how a comic can go from being valuable to not being valuable without anyone noticing.

* folks suggested to Milton Knight that he try his hand at autobiography; this is what resulted.

* finally, Tim O'Shea walks us through the sketchbooks of Dustin Harbin.
 
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Happy 85th Birthday, Alexandro Jodorowsky!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Richard Bruning!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Mark Haven Britt!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Alan Grant!

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February 6, 2014


The Great Jack Kirby Died 20 Years Ago Today

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now and forever the king; rip
 
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OTBP: The Homesick Truant's Cumbrian Yarn

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Festivals Extra: Someone Just Pointed Out To Me Wizard Is Running A Richmond Show SPX Weekend

Here. I can't imagine this has a poaching element -- by which I mean a show scheduling itself to attract traffic that would naturally attend another show -- because SPX has a hugely different audience and is a premier show besides. But you never know. We're going to see a bunch of this kind of stuff in the next few years as people try to find a place on an increasingly crowded convention calendar. My feeling is it can't be avoided, and only really extreme examples would be out of bounds.
 
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Go, Look: A Mini-Manifesto

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Go, Read: Colleen Doran On An Early Fanzine Artist Experience

imageColleen Doran writes about an experience from very early in her career with a fanzine publisher that's interesting for the characters and milieu and as a signpost in her career, but also touches on some compelling issues concerning the ingrained casualness of comics culture and how this sometimes all by itself might encourage inappropriate situations for people -- in her case an underaged girl being asked to draw extreme material, at times, it seems, in a potentially dubious setting.

Doran's story dovetails into something I've been stressing about the last half-year's focus on inappropriate behavior in the comics industry: that a tradition of blurred professional/personal lines encourages situations that can curdle quickly no matter what anyone's intentions might be. This includes a situation like the one Doran describes, similarly over-casual situations described by other comics pros, and I think even some of the abusive stories described at panels and on convention floors -- if you look at a panel or one's place on the floor of a con as a professional opportunity with obligations attached as opposed to a platform to tell jokes or a place to hang out and see one's pals, it reduces the possiblity of acting out being a part of one's day. I think it's a corrective instinct worth pursuing, no matter how we might enjoy or even benefit from other aspects of that part of comics culture.
 
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bill Sinkiewicz New Mutants Pin-Up Pages

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posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Edward Koren To Become Second Vermont Cartoonist Laureate

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Here. I thought this had been announced, but I suppose it was either a) heavily discussed, b) obvious, because Edward Koren is a giant in that state, c) wishful thinking from those of us in comics that suffered under the reign of terror that was James Kochalka's three-year stint as cartoonist laureate for Vermont. I'm of course kidding: I thought James had a lot of fun doing stuff with that title, and it's been fun to watch him use it.

Koren is probably best known for his work in the New Yorker, although I think he's one of those cartoonists that his style distinct from any publishing opportunity is probably his calling card.

Speaking of Kochalka, here's one of those projects, a creative effort done in conjunction with state poet laureate Sydney Lea.
 
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Not Comics: Did Not Know Roy Krenkel Drew Oz Books

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Go, Look: Marion Fayolle

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Comic-Con India this weekend. That's a great weekend for those that get to go and one assumes a fun weekend for those comics readers in attendance. That is the biggest potential market for English-language comics, I'd assume.

* Wizard will have one of its shows in New Orleans this weekend. What Wizard hopes to do with their shows is so far divorced from any conception I have of comics that I tend to skip mentioning their conventions; I seriously would not go to just about any of them even if I was in that town on the date described. The New Orleans show, though, strikes me as something people might want to know about to write off a trip to that amazing city or otherwise have an excuse to visit. I wish there was a different show in that city. If they ever have a Pro/Con again, maybe it can be there.

* Seattle's Short Run announced its dates for 2014 -- November 15, 2014. That means I may get to go, so that's nice. Although it took the show off the table for me, I thought the Thanksgiving weekend used for the 2013 show worked for Short Run, but I know they go after what hall space is available and when. Update: That's the last day of ICAF! Oh, well. Someday, Short Run.

* finally, a trio of important announcements for TCAF: librarian/educator sign-up, volunteer sign-up and its call for programming. I am supposed to be up there if anyone wants to use me.
 
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If I Were In Oakland, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Near Abingdon, 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 Berkeley, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Mukesh Singh Mini-Gallery

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I liked this article by Brett White on representation in media; I tend to grant importance to representation simply because other people grant importance to it. I rarely think a whole lot in terms of why. I think it also helps to see people not yourself and ideas that don't directly reinforce your sense of self in art, but that's a slightly different subject and actually not a take that needs to diminish this one in any way. No one should trust monolithic depictions in media, and we should all be delighted to see these things chipped away at and a variety of conceptions presented.

image* I saw a bunch of stuff yesterday all of which led me to the site of Patrick Dean, which is okay. It's a good one.

* Dominic Umile on Ant Colony. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Matt Derman on a bunch of different comics from 1987. Sean Gaffney on Book Girl And The Scribe Who Faced God Vol. 2. Rob Clough on a couple of anthologies and a few mini-comics. Sean Kleefeld on Comic Book Babylon. Henry Chamberlain on Logan's Run Omnibus.

* Matt Badham talks to Douglas Wolk.

* "He entertains via awe at his weird daring" may not be the best thing ever written about Osamu Tezuka, but it's a pretty good summary statement if you go that direction with your reaction to his work. The propulsive self-actualization and the audacity of some of the choices on the page as a result are an amazing thing to behold.

* David Brothers writes about his new gig working with Inkstuds in conjunction with ComicsAlliance.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco noted the use of a brokeback pose in the course of the DC sort-of-linewide-but-not-really event comic Forever Evil -- but on a male character. I've said this a bunch of times, but it's weird how that Forever Evil comic has really underline how the DC superheroes lack agency. Even Batman seems less purposeful here than Sinestro.

* Brian Gardes would like you to know what he's been up to.

* this fellow Bob Temuka cannot be talked out of reading comics.

* finally, Brannon Costello engages the issue of black comics through the entry point of Christopher Priest's work on Black Panther.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Rich Buckler!

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February 5, 2014


Go, Look: Siberia, Part Nine

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A Lot More Cartoonists Sign That SodaStream Protest Letter

Here. This is an effort by several cartoonists and other interested persons to have the Festival in Angouleme sever its sponsorship relationship with the Israel soft drink manufacturer SodaStream. At the heart of the controversy is a primary facility the company owns on the West Bank. Adding their names were:

* Derrouazin Alla Eddine
* Hilary Allison (USA)
* Rosalba Ambrico (Italy)
* Enzo Apicella (UK/Italia)
* Dan Archer (USA)
* Redouane Assari (Algérie)
* Serge Baeken (Belgium)
* Baru (France)
* Sofiane Belaskri (Algérie)
* Faiza Benaouda
* Carlo Benini (Italy)
* Peter Blegvad (USA/UK)
* Naim Boukir (Algérie)
* Shane Patrick Boyle (USA)
* Nicole Burton (Canada)
* Dan Carino (USA)
* Pino Creanza (Italy)
* Adjim Dannger (Chad)
* Marcel de la Gare (France)
* Benali Mohammed El Amine (Algérie)
* Faujour (France)
* Luigi Filippelli (Italy)
* Sean Ford (USA)
* Sarah Glidden (USA)
* Dominique Grange (France)
* Igort (Italy)
* Jeroen Janssen (Belgium)
* Sarah Khoury (Italy)
* Maximilien Le Roy (France)
* Benameur Mahmoud (Algérie)
* Eric Maltaite (Belgium)
* Seoud Messadi
* Matt Miner (USA)
* Katie Miranda (USA)
* Rym Mokhtari (Algérie)
* José Munoz (Argentina)
* Jeanne Puchol (France)
* Marty Qatani (USA)
* Mael Rannou (France)
* François Schuiten (Belgium)
* Jean Solé (France)
* Philippe Squarzoni (France)
* Jacques Tardi (France)
* Pasquale "Squaz" Todisco (Italia)
* David "Diavu" Vecchiato (Italia)
* Daniel Werneck (Brasil)

By my count that makes four former Grand Prix winners: Baru, Tardi, Schuiten, Munoz. Tardi made a strong statement to Le Monde here, going so far as to say that had he known that company was a sponsor he would have restricted use of his material for this year's show, just past.

It should be interesting to see if this reaches a point where sponsorship of next year's show might come into question; I can never read these things, but I think continued pressure would have that as its goal.
 
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Go, Look: Sebastian Stamm

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Go, Look: Uncivilized Books Spring 2014 Subscription Deal

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The fine boutique comics publisher Uncivilized Books has a Spring 2014 sale offer up at its site. I don't shy away from providing consumer-oriented information at times, and this would certainly fall under that with its three book + three minis for $45, but a couple of things caught my eye from a publishing-of-comics standpoint. The first is that Uncivilized is making such an offer at all, which suggests there may be a certain kind of devoted fan for a lot of these smaller publishers that can potentially be reached directly. The second is that that deal counts on their being a cohesion across the line in the customer's mind, at least enough of one that they're all desirable books. That's not exactly where publishing headspace was at for the last 20 years, at least for a signficant number of fans that saw the emphasis on publisher as a hangover of the mainstream corporate comics days.
 
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Go, Look: Modotti: A Woman Of The Twentieth Century

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Missed Them: Multiple, Laudable, Library-Related Lists Of Comics In Graphic Novel Form

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Via some good old-fashioned committee work, the Young Adult Library Services Association has named its Great Graphic Novels list for 2014, and also a Top Ten Graphic Novels list. As the first list of great works is 78 books long, one might understand focusing a bit more attention on the easier to comprehend and, for some, easier to believe the primary claim of, the second list. That list is:

* Boxers And Saints, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
* Dogs Of War, Sheila Keenan And Nathan Fox (Graphix)
* March Book One, John Lewis And Andrew Aydin And Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
* MIND MGMT Volume One: The Manager, Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)
* Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Prudence Shen And Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)
* Rust Volume Two: Secrets Of The Cell Royden Lepp (Archaia)
* Strobe Edge Vols. 1-6, Io Sakisaka (Viz)
* The Adventures Of Superhero Girl Faith Erin Hicks (Dark Horse)
* War Brothers: The Graphic Novel, Sharon McKay And Daniel Lafrance (Annick Press)
* Will And Whit, Laura Lee Gulledge (Amulet Books) (Pictured Above)

All the books on that second YALSA list were designated as 2013 books except Strobe Edge which was 2012-2013 for its multiple volumes. March was designated a non-fiction book; the rest were fiction.

*****

The superior link-blogger and Robot 6 contributor Kevin Melrose unearthed the following two lists, both of which he placed into this post.

The first is the graphic narrative portion of the 2014 book list from the Over The Rainbow Project sponsored the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table.

* 7 Miles a Second, David Wojnarowicz And Marguerite Van Cook And James Romberger (Fantagraphics)
* Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond "Gay" and "Straight", Charles "Zan" Christensen and Carol Queen (Northwest Press)
* Blue is the Warmest Color, Julie Maroh With A Translation By Ivanka Hahnenberger (Arsenal Pulp Press)
* Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir, Nicole J. Georges (Houghton Mifflin) (Pictured Below)
* Julio's Day, Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Spit and Passion, Cristy C. Road (The Feminist Press)

The second is a list of five comics works that were on a list of graphic novels for teens put together by something called "The Rainbow Project," which Melrose calls "a joint committee of the GLBT Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table."

* Batwoman Volume Three World's Finest, W. Haden Blackman And J.H. Williams III And Trevor McCarthy (DC Comics)
* Blue is the Warmest Color, Julie Maroh With A Translation By Ivanka Hahnenberger (Arsenal Pulp Press)
* Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir, Nicole J. Georges (Houghton Mifflin)
* Kevin Keller 2: Drive Me Crazy, Dan Parent (Archie Comics)
* Wandering Son Vol. 4, Shimura Takako (Fantagraphics)

*****

I'm familiar with the majority of the books on all three lists but one really exciting thing about the last 10 years is how vastly different librarians seen the world of comics just in terms of what they're engaging. There are authors in that world that are a big deal that might not register at all in the Direct Market or in the bookstore market, or on-line.

*****

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Go, Look: Bayard Baudoin

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Go, Look: Tower Comics Mini-Gallery

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The 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.

*****

NOV131048 ANT COLONY HC (MR) $21.95
It's difficult not to see this one as the only reason that many readers of this site will head to a comics shop today, perhaps mitigated by the choice of purchasing it from the cartoonist himself at some point during his tour. Michael DeForge is a major talent, and this is the first book in what many hope will be a fruitful partnership with Drawn and Quarterly. I enjoyed this book a great deal; it was a read I spread over a series of nights, as there was a lot to think about it with individual stories. That seems silly in a sense, because a lot of the stories are goofy and fun, but it took me a while to find my place with the work.

imageDEC131293 ALONE FOREVER GN (MR) $9.95
Top Shelf isn't doing a ton of books these days, but then again, neither does the cartoonist Liz Prince from what I can tell. I'm old enough now that I measure short periods of time in two-, three-year increments -- it will happen to you -- and it had seemed quite some time since Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?. I know there's been other work since, but not work of this type making that kind of impression. At any rate, there would be a high curiosity factor for me in picking up this work and I would certainly do so if I saw it in a comics shop.

OCT130606 LAZARUS #6 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
DEC130583 MINIMUM WAGE #2 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
NOV138194 SEX CRIMINALS #1 5TH PTG (MR) $3.50
DEC130112 LOBSTER JOHNSON GET LOBSTER #1 $3.99
DEC130393 JUDGE DREDD MEGA CITY TWO #2 [DIG/P+] $3.99
DEC130663 LOKI AGENT OF ASGARD #1 ANMN $2.99
DEC130623 MS MARVEL #1 ANMN $2.99
There's a ton here in terms of work I'd buy. I've enjoyed the Lazarus comics so far for the commitment to the backstory, even though I'm still having a hard time figuring out the way that world works. It's nice to have Bob Fingerman back making serial comics -- he's really firing through them right now, which make sense in that I think he really wants this series to find an audience in its Image iteration. I always note extensive printing and high issue numbers, because I'm largely unsocialized and like big numbers. Five printings on Sex Criminals likely puts it into six figures -- it was there earlier depending on how the first issue did, but I would bet a chunk of money that it's there now regardless. I'm always happy to see a Mignola-verse title with the Lobster Johnson character, even though I find joke titles referencing films kind of odd. The Judge Dredd is I believe the one that Douglas Wolk worked on, which is sort of like going to see the band of a guy you're doing a temp job with. Marvel's doine a lot of work reviving the Loki character, and the movies have been a singular help there, too. I haven't read the character since I think Rob Rodi was writing him, so I might pick that one up. Finally, the Ms. Marvel book has had enough of the kind of publicity that actually might movie copies here. I think what Marvel does with its non top-of-line books tends to be pretty smart, and providing strong hero identifiers for underserved readerships is a fantastic thing to do with their extensive character library.

OCT130054 AXE COP TP VOL 05 AXE COP GETS MARRIED $14.99
Like I said, I always make note when a series has a higher issue or volume number than I would have guessed.

NOV130333 LOCKE & KEY HC VOL 06 ALPHA & OMEGA [DIG] $29.99
NOV130334 LOCKE & KEY HC VOL 06 ALPHA & OMEGA SERIES SLIPCASE ED $39.99
NOV130381 RED LIGHT PROPERTIES GN $19.99
That's the last of those Locke & Key books, I think, while Red Light is the first major Dan Goldman project I can remember seeing for a while. It's awfully early and kind of cold out, though, so be nice if you have to correct me.

NOV130707 INFINITY HC $75.00
I read the main series of this and found it fascinating on certain levels but I'm still thinking about writing an actual review and this has to be included added material. I do tend to think that if you're not close-watching the Marvel books, or if you're inclined to let them off the hook for various, odd, creative choices, they tend to do the trick: placing the various Marvel heroes where they can enact core functions in a story with very high stakes. In this one, it's un unstoppable alien army so grand as if to not be an army so much as The Army behind all the armies going back to creation itself. Earth's heroes are like the hillbilly relatives of Patrick Swayze's characters in Next Of Kin: backwards, but really good at fighting. And... fight.

OCT130964 BLEEDING COOL MAGAZINE #8 (MR) $1.99
All respect to Rich Johnston for finding a way to do print in this market. I can barely keep a web site going.

OCT131192 EC GRAHAM INGELS SUCKER BAIT & OTHER STORIES HC $28.99
DEC131163 EC JACK KAMEN ZERO HOUR & OTHER STORIES HC $28.99
Finally, I've enjoyed the Fantagraphics EC books quite a bit, and moreover I've enjoyed all of the volumes at least a little bit. There are good comics in these across the board. So I'm looking forward for an extensive look at Ingels, my least favorite EC artist, and Kamen, one of the underrated ones I like quite a bit. A lot has been made about but not doing these in color, but I barely notice; one thing I do notice is that they're small enough to carry around the house and to read on the sofa.

*****

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

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Go, Look: Jerome Opena Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Tessa Brunton wants you to take a survey in support of her next book. Looks fun.

* for some reason I have a link to what looks like a support page for Charles Hatfield's class on autobiographical comics.

* not comics: a profile of Duane Bryers' Hilda.

* Mike Lynch introduces a two-part interview with Ralph Smith.

* not comics: Ben Schwartz writes about American comedy in terms of who gets to be funny about whom. I'm sure someone could riff off of this in major fashion using comics, which have a grand humor tradition. In fact, I suspect there's a way of tracking humor comics in the newspaper in terms of their not connecting with humor is in America not generally. That's a hunch, though, of course.

* Jeremy Eaton posted an exquisite corpse he did in 1996 with Eric Reynolds in Al Columbia -- I wonder if a fourth person worked on the feet, because that's drawing that could be done by someone who doesn't draw a whole lot.

* I wouldn't put it past someone to add this to an awards program.

* George O'Connor penned a short piece about writing for teens when the source material -- in this case Greek myth -- is so profoundly earthy and profane.

* I haven't tracked down the hourly comics yet, but this series of mostly two-panel comics from Jess Fink is pretty fun.

* finally, is it my imagination, or is Aseem Trivedi living a life that some North American cartoonists only dream about?

 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Megan Kelso!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Katie Skelly!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Matteo Piana!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Yuko Tsuno!

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Happy 38th Birthday, JT Dockery!

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February 4, 2014


Go, Look: Marie Assanat

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Bundled Extra: Koyama Press Announces Fall 2014 Season; Names Two Books As First Kids Comic Season

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Well-regarded boutique publisher Koyama Press has announced its full line-up of books for Fall 2014, including a bunch of stuff that I don't think I'd heard about yet in addition to make one or two projects official. They have also announced a formal move into kids' comics for the first time, with two book debuting in that part of their line after the halfway point of this year.

Books announced in the regular line are [covers above]:

* Baby Bjornstrand, Renee French, softcover, 9781927668139, 131 pages, full-color, September, $20.
* Distance Mover, Patrick Kyle, softcover, 9781927668085, 188 pages, two-color, September, $20.
* Lose #6, Michael DeForge, softcover, 9781927668122, 52 pages, black-and-white, September, $8.
* Wendy, Walter Scott, softcover, 9781927668092, 216 pages, black-and-white, November, $18.

Books announced in [covers below]:

* Cat Dad, King of the Goblins, Britt Wilson, softcover, 9781927668115, 48 pages, color, September, $12.
* A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories, John Martz, hardcover, 9781927668108, 52 pages, color, September $19.95.

In addition to reading about each of the books in the liniked-to announcement above, you can always go look at an individual artist's on-line presence -- DeForge, French, Kyle, Martz, Scott, Wilson -- or check out Koyama more generally.

That sounds like a strong season for the publisher, and I love how other than their relationship to DeForge they really don't have a central identity stronger than founder Anne Koyama -- I think that's the best way to do it those first few years and in fact is a time-honored way of forging an identity for a company years at a time.

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Go, Listen: Gil Roth Interviews Paul Gravett

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Bergen Street To Change The Way It Racks Big Two Comics

You should read superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose here putting together various tweets from Bergen Street Comics' Tom Adams here about that store's decision to change the way it's selling Marvel and DC titles. It's not a bold stance or a political statement of any kind, it seems.

Although Adams asserts here that we pay any attention to this kind of thing at all is a sign that we pay too much attention to these comics generally, I think this move is worth noting in that there seems to be a bottom-line frustration with the way Marvel and DC treat their serial comics lines for the sake of maximizing quarterly profit. This gets expressed in how some retailers, particularly those with a broader purview than serving those books and only those books, engage with that material. I know plenty of fans that have stopped reading as many superhero comics as they might like to because it's difficult to follow them in a kind of basic publishing strategy way, and there are a number of stores that have racking policies that already quietly emphasize different books because of the difficulties in presenting the big company offerings to an audience. There's a lot in the twitter-feed link at the very least worth mulling over. That's a really good shop, and some of the best stores have at one point or another for various reasons decided to rack mainstream comics differently.
 
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Go, Look: The Execution Of Carl Jung

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the creators-in-need group The Hero Initiative is doing another one of its original art auction projects, this time 100 covers featuring the X-Men in one of their current adventures whose name I can't remember right this second. Those are fun characters to draw, and I'm sure a lot of cool artists will participate.

* it's been very sad reading memorial posts to the late, very, very young Debra Jane Shelly. This one at the Shuster Awards site mentions a place where survivors of Shelly's have asked donations be directed.

* good news that the art being donated for an auction to benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai will be culled for a book to both call attention to and get some more money in the direction of the Sakais. It should also be a fun book, in that a lot of artists working in a variety of styles are fans of Stan Sakai's work and of the Sakais as people. I still urge direct donations if you can afford it and are so moved; I think this is another great revenue stream, but hopefully an additional one instead of one that supplants direct giving.

* I think it was Rob Clough that drove my initial attention to this mostly CCS-oriented anthology project. Dylan Horrocks mentioned this one in a Facebook post.

* finally, I imagine that more than a few people are going to be interested in how Erika Moen might do with this new crowd-funding mechanism (and underlying theories of how said funding might work). The mechanism makes sense but I'm not sure you're how it's targeted in a way that people will prefer to support that way that aren't already personally inclined to support the person in question. It's not that a platform to do that wouldn't be a good thing; I'd love a way to support a couple of artists in my life beyond writing 'em a big check at Christmas or whatever, but that's slightly divorced from the idea of crowd-funding as I understand it.
 
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Go, Join: Kirby/Fort Thunder Fan Page

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Missed It: Your 2014 GLAAD Media Award Nominees In Their Comic Book Category

imageEvery year for the last several GLAAD -- which just goes by that name now, the way some corporations have gone, but used to be the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation -- has included a comic-book category in its media awards and did so again this year. This is a list that tends to heavily favor superhero or genre comics that have one or more gay character involved in their core plot lines. This is either appropriate -- as the awards are said to interested in depictions of gay and lesbian characters and issues in a context of mainstream entertainment -- or a dim reading of comics that only includes its mainstream expressions as legitimate. I don't think anyone has ever gotten so worked up about the awards to have this argument once and for all, and I'm actually not sure it matters.

The nominees in the category were:

* Batwoman, W. Haden Blackman And J.H. Williams III And Marc Andreyko And Jeremy Haun (DC Comics)
* Fearless Defenders, Cullen Bunn And Will Sliney (Marvel Comics)
* Husbands, Jane Espenson And Brad Bell And Ron Chan And Natalie Nourigat And MS Corley And Ben Dewey And Tania del Rio (Dark Horse Comics)
* Life with Archie, Paul Kupperberg And A Variety Of Artists Including Fernando Ruiz (Archie Comics)
* Young Avengers, Kieron Gillen And Jamie McKelvie (Marvel Comics)

It might be worth noting that the controversial graphic novel to film adaptation Blue Is The Warmest Color is also nominated in its category.

There will be a ceremony on April 12 in LA and one on May 3 in New York City; not sure how that works, but I love a party, too.
 
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OTBP: Valium: 1983-2013

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Missed It/Go, Read/Assembled Extra: Rob Salkowitz Explains Marvel Comics API Announcement

One nice thing about totally swinging and missing on an initial announcement that Marvel Comics is opening up some element of its storehouse of material for development by app-makers is that we can skip the confusing parts of that announcement and get right to the clarification and analysis. Rob Salkowitz has a nice piece up here explaining what he thinks happened, and I think he's right that part of what makes this fascinating is Marvel's semi-tortured history with creative control.
 
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Go, Look: Undiscovered

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Go, Look: Musaaki Yuasa Autobio Comics

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OSU's Billy Ireland Receives Gould Family Donation

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I'll link to the published release when it comes up where I can see it, but the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum let it slip yesterday afternoon they were set to announce that the family of Chester Gould, the late, iconic cartoonist, has donated what they term a "substantial" collection of Dick Tracy comic strips and related material to their holdings. Gould's strip ran from 1931 until 1977, and its creator remains one of the most vital touchstones of newspaper comics history.

The family cited in the piece are Gould's daughter Jean Gould O'Connell, her son Tracy O'Connell and her daughter Sue Sanders. The donation includes 850 original dailies, 64 Sunday strips, the first 30 days of the syndicated run and Gould's drawing board. The material will be catalogued and made available to the public for various purposes that correspond to the museum and library's mission.
 
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Go, Look: Sweater

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* so Drawn and Quarterly put all of their releases for the bulk of the year into one place. I would imagine that for just about every comics fan who would take the time to read this site there's something you'll want from something they're making. I pulled some of the covers for the bigger original works: I think the Mimi Pond book could break out sales-wise. I haven't seen the work, but that strikes me as a solid concept and I have to think Pond will be very much present in the selling of that book. Also, I had a book once called Over Easy that never came out, so I'm rooting for this one.

image* Fantagraphics is publishing a new comic book-format work from Dash Shaw, Cosplayers.

* artists, Nate Cosby is hiring.

* Brandon Graham provides more details on his Image project 8House.

* I am skittering right up to the edge of just totally failing to process all the work coming out of the UK right now. I have to bear down and figure this out. In the meantime, the work featured here, Just So Happens, is the new one from Jonathan Cape

* this looks accomplished and like a good pick-up for Kaboom!

* here's an update on the next few volumes of the collected On Stage. I love that there are so many of these volumes and I have very little connection to whatever the buying public is for this material.

* JK Parkin has a write-up and preview pages for AdHouse's early-April release Operation Margarine, from the cartoonist Katie Skelly.

* I really like this post from our pals at Top Shelf, spotlighting key reprints. I haven't done the math, but Top Shelf seems to be concentrating on a few titles per seasons in a way they were more of a volume publisher before. That could just be my imagination. For either kind of publisher what you keep in print is something that shapes the identity of your line.

* we know about a future work from the talented Faith Erin Hicks: the first of two books from a well-liked and I'm guess best-selling YA author named Rainbow Rowell, to be published by First Second. As the article notes, Hicks is in the midst of a three-book deal with the same publisher featuring her own work.

* finally, via a friends-only post from Bill Kartalopoulos comes word that Editions 2024 has recently published a key Gustav Dore work. I don't usually throw the spotlight on just-published work, but I can't imagine too many projects of recent vintage that are as admirable.

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Totally Missed These Silmarillion Comics From Last Fall

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Go, Look: Later Richard Corben Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Kazu Kibuishi draws Usagi Yojimbo. Paul Smith draws the Avengers. Ilya Kuvshinov draws Rachael from Blade Runner.

* this piece from Nate Piekos on creating a font for new Elfquest comics is widely linked-to and deservedly so. We're coming up on about 20 years of being able to do that for a project -- I think where it was used initially, and someone can correct me if I'm wrong, was in translated books to keep someone from having to letter an existing book over again. Could be wrong about that, though. I also like how Boing Boing has been supportive of Elfquest. I'm not sure the bulk of comics has decided on that book's legacy as of yet, even.

* not comics: I like that shirt.

* also, not comics: this is just a great tweet to randomly encounter.

* here's a sprawling piece about comics advertisements and Frank Zappa in the comics, among other topics.

* again, not comics: here's an article about superhero property branding and movie strategies that don't have a heck of a lot of to do with what I value about comics. I think it's a pretty good snapshot of that world. I'm not sure how rigorous a writer can be on a subject like that one -- it doesn't seem to be of a qualitative difference than a lot of fan blog pieces, like it doesn't have access to what the people involved say to that article-writer, like you might think there'd be a chance in a name magazine.

* why not some more not comics: this article on how to make drink coasters from comic-book art is a bit fancier than the process I've usecd in the past but seems like it would work just fine. Craft presents made from comics are some of the best presents, and coasters from comic book art look super cool, the 2000 AD serials and older mainstream comics in particular, I think.

image* one last not comics: this essay on Dungeons and Dragons at 40 may be of some interest to those of you -- like me -- for whom that game was part of a general nerd-culture stew to which comics were attached; I bought a lot of comics at role-playing stores, for instance. I think the writer is onto something with the fact that the game didn't cost as much to play past initial investment as, say, videogames did, and that this changed the idea of leisure time dramatically. Some of the boosterish claims are less convincing because I don't think they tell the whole story. While I think for some kids playing games like that sponsored learning and socialization, I don't think that's true of other kids for whom those games cinched anti-social behavior. I also know people my age that had unhealthy relationships with adults that came out of their role-playing experiences, which I don't think would have been as possible in a hobby area without that involved social element. One thing I think role-playing games did for comics is allow those with an interest in comics to see the same kind of dysfunction and exploitation patterns play out in that industry the way they did in comics years earlier, kind of confirming that kind of abuse as an impulse people have rather than something unique to the funnybooks. Anyway, congrats to D&D on hitting four decades of its saving throws against irrelevancy and obscurity.

* Gary Arlington did finally get a NYT obituary.

* Matt Drake on Skullkickers.

* finally, I'm always a little confused when I get the URL for something that's re-blogged and has additional commentary, but the primary source for this matter-of-fact diatribe about paying artists seems to be Jamal Igle.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Souther Salazar!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Dez Skinn!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Tom Sniegoski!

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February 3, 2014


Jose De Leon On Bill Watterson Winning The Angouleme Grand Prix

My first thought: Someone will mount a campaign for Steve Ditko next year.
 
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Go, Bookmark: The Creepy Casefiles Of Margo Maloo

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Euro-Comics Special: Paul Karasik In Angouleme 05

By Paul Karasik

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

*THE GOOD*

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1. Joe Lambert gets a prize

Joe Lambert's "Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller" book is marvelously clever and moving. The book successfully navigates through treacherous cliché-infested waters and delivers the goods without sentimentality while still landing real emotion.

It's too bad that the book suffered in the U.S. from a small format that did an injustice to his detailed work.

This has been corrected in France where his publisher, Ca et La, had the good sense to reprint the translation in a large format that allows the work to shine.

Joe won an award from an organization that promotes rights for the disabled. It is a well-deserved prize.

Congratulations, Joe!

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2. Netherlands Print Shop

When I met up with Joost Swarte on the first day of the festival he was giddy with anticipation. The contingent from the Netherlands arrived with two suitcases and a vacuum cleaner. When the suitcases are opened and the vacuum cleaner attached, a pop-up print shop materializes.

Addjacent to the open print shop were three studios where artists set up shop, creating on-the-spot poster designs (many dealing with the day's news) on tracing paper which the printer, the young man who designed the printshop-in-a-suitcase, and his assistant pulled screen prints.

These prints were then posted all over town throughout the festival.

Visitors were invited to wander around the printshop and studios to watch the process. A playful sense of vitality kept things lively.

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Curious about Joost's description, I dropped by early on Wednesday to say hello and see what they were up to. I was honored to be handed a brush and a sheet of tracing paper.

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3. Ted Stearn's book, "Fuzz and Pluck" won a prize.

Ted is a pal of mine and I love this book. It may look like a not-so-funny animal comic, but it is so much more. Plus it is laugh-out-loud funny.

Mazel tov!

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4. Herr Seele does more than just sign my Cowboy Henk book

*THE BAD*

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1. Japanese/Korean relations

As I wrote about in a prior column, there was an ugly incident regarding a book banned from the Festival. As a rule -- and as an American? -- I am opposed to book-banning, but, after speaking to the man who actually blew the whistle, I understand how this came about.

The manga questions the WWII practice of the abduction of Korean women to use as prostitutes in Japan, asserting that the women were recruited and paid. Comics historian and writer Thierry Smolderen, pointed out that this is not really a much better scenario and actually may shed a worse light on the Japanese.

At any rate, the whistle-blower agreed with me that had the book been placed with a bunch of other manga on the Japanese table, he probably would not have noticed it and the whole controversy would not have erupted.

The Japanese contingent, however, made sure that people knew about the manga because they came to the Festival to make a point: they disagreed graphically with the Korean version of the history. They positioned themselves as nay-sayers -- but were viewed by many as extremist revisionists.

Ultimately, the event served to underline ongoing tensions between these countries... and the sad, brutal history of sexual exploitation that continues today.

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2. Popeye adieu

I attended my first Angouleme Festival seven or eight years ago. That year, an alternative comics store popped-up on a side street. Adjacent to the store, the purveyors had painted a reproduction of one of Richard McGuire's "Popeye" designs on a metal gate. Over the years the mural has been vandalized and finally, inevitably, this year it received a fresh coat of gray paint.

When I first saw this sign years ago, my jaw dropped. Richard's Popeye designs are brilliant yet relatively unknown in the U.S. and here they were memorialized. Only in Angouleme! Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera that day.

So I retuned the next day in the snow, camera in hand. As I neared the door, I could see that someone else had the same idea and was taking a snapshot. It turned out to be Charles Burns.

Only in Angouleme!

*THE UGLY*

1. Let's skip the ugly.

My short list in the "Ugly" category is far too subjective. It would include such tedious subjects as the constant drizzle and four hours of sleep and the lack of a decent cup of coffee.

Instead, let's sabotage this category and rename it "The Beautiful" and end with some images by the great Gus Bofa (1883–1968).

*THE BEAUTIFUL*

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The first World War was covered by the great show by Jacques Tardi, which I have already written about. But I also wanted to let readers know about Gus Bofa's show on the same topic. Virtually unknown in the U.S., Bofa was a master illustrator best known for his on-the-spot and spot-on drawings of soldiers returned from the Great War often appearing in La Baïonnette, a French satire magazine that ran from 1915 to 1920 .

Many of the non-War drawings in the show display a sly, wistful humor. His masterful satiric drawings of daily life resonate deeply for the French. One prominent comics publisher I met admitted leaving the exhibit with a tear in his eye.

*****

Paul Karasik is a cartoonist, author and educator best known for his work on the graphic novel version of City Of Glass and for bringing to a wider audience the work of Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks.

*****

* all photos by Karasik save photo of Popeye imagery on fence, which was supplied to Karasik by Charles Burns

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Go, Look: Winshluss Pinocchio Mini-Gallery

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Collective Memory: FIBD 2014

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Go, Look: Gil Kane's John Carter, Warlord Of Mars Splashes

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Go, Look: Various David Finch Mini-Galleries

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I was sent a link to this essay about a lousy experience an artist had at and with that Stan Lee-named convention, an anecdote that includes a lengthy description of watching Lee operate at that convention. It's stomach-churning and fascinating. I'm not sure what to do with the link other than to post it here and promise to post any comments and/or responses.

image* Walt Simonson draws Thor fighting a giant serpent. And here's a Joseph Remnant cartoon. I'm glad these are made public but I hope these cartoonists are also posting these elsewhere to people not their friends/fans.

* Gabe Fowler just sent out a letter soliciting advertising for his freely-distributed-in-NYC comics newspaper Smoke Signal. If that's something that would interest you, you should contact Fowler and perhaps he'd send one of those letters along.

* I hope to get to a small obituary for occasional cartoonist Frank Whitford, but if I don't, his passing should be noted.

* this is one of those rare "comics used to be weird, I tells ya!" articles that a) doesn't rely on weird Golden Age production speeds to get most of its oddness into perspective and b) is pretty good all the way through to the end. One of the great things about comics history is that there's all sorts of weird little corners where there's enough money for people to be paid to do things that are odd but no mass audience that might force them to take a step back and second guess what they're up to.

* Shelton Drum has a great original art collection.

* finally, Dalton Sharp looks back at 2013 and ahead to 2014.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Richard Marschall!

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February 2, 2014


Le Monde: Bill Watterson Wins Grand Prix At FIBD

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First Reaction: I can't imagine he's there for the announcement, but someone not being there isn't unheard of, especially in the days when there weren't even finalists lists.
Second Reaction: jesus... would he accept?
Third Reaction: if he accepts, would he go?
Fourth Reaction: could he do the presidency duties or some semblence thereof without going?
Fifth Reaction: would this possibly rope in the forthcoming Billy Ireland exhibit in which he is participating?
Sixth Reaction: the growth in admiration for Watterson's excellent newspaper strip since its retirement is a remarkable comics story.
Seventh Reaction: I still think a manga artist is way overdue, and hope that happens in the next few years.
Eighth Reaction: if this is true and it happens, and it makes a Richard Thompson exhibit over there possible, I would love that.
Ninth Reaction: that is two Americans in... four years, I think. Actually, yes: Spiegelman, Denis, Willem/Toriyama, Watterson. And a lot of Americans will want to attend next year's show.
Tenth Reaction: paging Lee Salem...
 
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Go, Look: Mathieu Bablet

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Your Various Angouleme Prize-Winners, 2014, As Best As I Can Figure Out From New Mexico

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I may wait to get this together a little better -- none of the Americans on hand seem to be live-tweeting -- but it looks like the big news for US comics readers so far is that nice man Derf Backderf winning for the French publication of My Friend Dahmer. He'll share with Peter Blegvad, neither of whom to our market would be a debut-book candidate, but that makes this prize nicer in some ways, I think. Since I wrote those last two sentences, Rutu Modan won for the French-language version of her The Property and Ted Stearn won for a collection of his Fuzz & Pluck work; also, Cowboy Henk.

Update: Okay, the official list is up here, and I've since double-checked what I have against this list.

* Prix De Meilleur Album: Come Prima, Alfred (Delcourt)
* Prix Du Public Cultura: Mauvais Genre, Chloé Cruchaudet (Delcourt)
* Prix Spécial Du Jury: La Propriété, Rutu Modan (Actes Sud BD)
* Prix De La Série: Fuzz & Pluck Vol. 2, Ted Stearn (Cornelius)
* Prix Révélation: Le Livre De Léviathan, P. Blegvad (L'Apocalypse) and Mon Ami Dahmer, Derf Backderf (Ca et La)
* Prix jeunesse: Les Carnets de Cerise -- Le Livre d'Hector Joris Chamblain and Aurélie Neyret (Soleil)
* Prix Du Patrimoine: Cowboy Henk by Herr Seele and Kamagurka (Fremok)
* Fauve Polar SNCF: Ma Révérence, Rodguen And Wilfrid Lupano (Delcourt)
* Prix De LA BD Alternative: Un Fanzine carré, Various (Unfanzine)

Congratulations to all of the winners. A selection of the nominated books appears here.

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Go, Look: Tappeto Di Pelliccia

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Euro-Comics Special: Paul Karasik In Angouleme 04

imageBy Paul Karasik

Sexual Politics

In a corner of the otherwise bustling Little Asia Pavilion at the Angouleme Comics Festival sits an empty table, prime commercial real estate sitting empty.

Across town at the Theater is a show presented by the Korean government. Visitors crowd the entrance.

What connects these two locations at the otherwise jubilant festival? Sexual slavery.

I may have some of the details wrong on this situation, lots of language barriers here, but after speaking to several people about it, I think that I have a pretty good idea of what has occurred and why that table in Little Asia is empty.

There is no disputing the fact that young Korean women were abducted by Japanese and brought to Japan to be employed as sexual slaves, or "Comfort Women." Estimates vary as to how many women were abused in this fashion.

The Korean exhibit at the Angouleme Theater opens with a fairly explicit animation of the story of one girl, who represents untold numbers of girls, and it is a terrible narrative of exportation and exploitation. It is chilling.

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(NOTE: Those are the girl's knees in the foreground)

As you move inside to the exhibition, you see work from a dozen or so Korean cartoonists on this subject. Some are heartbreakingly beautiful, some purely symbolic, some heavy-handed and trite. All are designed to reinforce the horror.

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In the rear of the exhibit is a wall where visitors are invited to write notes of sympathy and indignation on pastel paper flowers to tack on the wall.

The entire effect is didactic and discomforting. The Korean government shelled out a lot of euros to construct this testament.

Meanwhile, an empty table sits seven minutes across town.

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This table was going to display Japanese manga depicting versions of the story from artists from that country. The Festival shut down the booth. The table is empty.

When I asked the organizers of the Korean booth why they believe the Festival closed down the Japanese booth they said that they understood that the material in the Japanese display was created by a right wing extremist group that denies the history.

The Koreans maintained that their booth is historical information and the Japanese booth had a political agenda. They explained, patiently, that it was as if the Americans had a booth describing Pearl Harbor and the Japanese had a booth denying that the bombing ever happened.

Over the past few days the controversy has escalated. A press release was issued to the Angouleme press corps from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that stated: "Throughout history, women’' dignity and basic human rights have often been infringed upon during the many wars and conflicts of the past. The Government of Japan places paramount importance on and is committed to doing its utmost to ensure that the 21st century is free from further violations of women’s dignity and basic human rights."

The press release goes to great lengths to explain its government's official position. It is not a denial and outlines the official reparations that have been made.

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I briefly held the Japanese manga and it appeared fairly tame, but I do not read Japanese. All I could discern from a quick skim were graphs and charts amid some kind of narrative. But I did get a chance to speak to the author of the comic and his associates who are as incensed at the behavior of the Festival as they are of the Korean's version of history.

The Japanese whom I spoke with believe that the festival organizers misunderstood the wording on a banner they hung, interpreting it as a claim that there were no comfort women.

They do not dispute the existence of Comfort Girls, but they claim -- and this appears to be the linchpin -- that these girls were recruited and well-paid prostitutes, not abducted. In their eyes, they are not trying to rewrite history but trying to get their version of history, based on their research, out in the open.

Each side accuses the other of being political. Both sides believe that politics have no place at a comics festival.

Politics aside, these are ancient open wounds. The issue is still alive.

... and women are still being used as commodities in the 21st century.

I have had a swell time during this Festival, made new friends, checked in with old pals. I have seen terrific exhibitions, eaten great food, and even gotten a lot of exercise in the process of walking around town. But for me, Angouleme 2014 has been heavy.

As beautiful as they are, the exhibitions of two essential European cartoonists, Jacques Tardi and Gus Bofa, are reminders to never forget the trench warfare of World War I. The Korean-Japanese dispute is a reminder to never forget the hell of World War II. Both underline the inhumanity capacity of humans.

See you in the funny pages.

*****

Paul Karasik is a cartoonist, author and educator best known for his work on the graphic novel version of City Of Glass and for bringing to a wider audience the work of Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks.

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Go, Look: Nicolas Hitori De

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Euro-Comics Special: Jen Vaughn In Angouleme 03

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By Jen Vaughn

Nouveau Monde

* did the rounds at the Noveau Monde/indie tent where I heard -- from a majority of Americans mostly -- that it was the only tent to see. Less kids running around, for one. Found the new Jason book, Pop!, full of his mashup drawings from his European publisher. I remember emailing him when he was rolling them out asking when Fantagraphics would get to publish it -- which would be easy due to the lack of words! -- but he had already promised it to Jippi forlag.

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* Ion Books was killing it with their small saddle stapled books, many silent comics and illustrations for only nine euros. Which is currently $12 USD right now. Picked up Les Maisons by Franeck and Suite Kimono by Dues Kimonos.

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* MK Reed, Chip Mosher and Jeremy Nguyen (of comiXology) grabbed the Angouleme cat statue at the front of the indie tent. Why yes they do light it like a cool porno or discotheque, thank you for noticing. From the people I spoke to, they were having a great time meeting new and old fans, books were selling but slowly. One particularly amazing cartoonist said he noticed people lose interest when they found out he was American but he speaks fluent Spanish so switched it up a few times and nailed sales.

* Çá et Lá continued to sell those Frank Santoro, Joe Lambert, Derf Backderf, Dash Shaw and Gregory Benton comics like they were going out of style.

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* Frederik Peeters sketches the customary 15-20 minutes inside copies of his books, Blue Pills, Pachyderme and Sandcastle (I forgot my copy in Seattle and have hated myself for it)

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* Boulet and Portland's Natalie Nourigat, who is in France through August.

* is that a crowd of people? No. Well, yes, but it's actually the line for the main BD tent. The queue was a massive crush and it made us all giddy to see so many people ready for comics, albums and BD!

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* one last time around the main tent, where all the big BD companies are and to pick up a few albums because I cannot and will not leave the country without. The only sad thought I had the entire trip was that I cannot show them to Kim Thompson back at the Fanta office. (0518)

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* at Glenat, they are making absolute bank with their Bordeaux wine comic and even sold some wine -- well, probably gave it away -- with copies of the book.

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* always fun to see something many of us read as teenagers/zygotes making it's way over to Europe. Danger Girl by J. Scott Campbell, indeed. I always wanted a pair of Abbey Chase's pants (pants not pictured).

* Ankama had my Adrastee books by Mathieu Bablet I saw my first day in Paris at Album at an 8 euro discount so I made room in my bags for both. Their set up was a little odd because they went through the trouble of staining and painting their walls and bookshelves to look like wood -- kinda like the gift shop of a theme park -- but then had poorly written in Sharpie signs taped to the wall.

* not a lot of people were talking about buying books that had been listed for the "Official Selection" for Angouleme prizes but they were all labeled and selling according to the companies.

* I missed the Tardi show, which breaks my heart, but the crowds made getting there in time troublesome. From what I've seen the entire book of Goddamn This War! was hanging -- looking gorgeous, too.

Party Hardy At The Mercure

* a lot of people went to Le Chat Noir but it can only fit so many and I had no need to smoke in the large outside seating area so to the Mercure Hotel I went. I tried a new concoction everyone was drinking: cognac and Schweppes. Tasted great!

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* Guy Delcourt kept the champagne flowing so I can only assume he super enjoyed my company or he found out early about a Delcourt book winning a prize. No complaints from me as he is a very interesting person and publisher to talk to, the amount quality and kind of books they publish (and distribute) is mind-boggling -- especially after they bought Soleil. Joe Keatinge and I had dinner with the gent on the left (and his unpictured business partner Anne Magne), Arnaud Lapeyre of Pulp's Comics (a store in Paris) and the two-year running Paris Comics Expo in the fall. It's a mainstream show sans alternative, manga and BD but their sheer enthusiasm and knowledge make it a con worth checking out. David Steinberger (second from the left) and Chip Mosher (right most) continued to wow me with the European comics comiXology has been throwing up on the ol' digi-readers for the whole world to see. Now I know that I can buy BD online to practice my French for next year's Angouleme. They had several French representatives also hanging out at the booths in the BD tent talking about digital comics and handing out postcards.

* speaking of digital comics, these gents Mast and Geoffo of YBrik somehow cornered me but were offering something like what comiXology's Guided View editing does for comics but they take your script and storyboard it out so it is made/created to be "swiped" and for a little animation. Interesting idea and may catch on to bring in more younger readers. I've rarely picked up a comic because it had "transmedia" properties but if done well and the right way, could succeed.

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* and just as expected, anytime you heard a language that sounded oddly like your own -- be it German or English -- you'd whip your head around to see who it was. Ben Hatke from First Second's Zita the Spacegirl was in force. He had spent the week signing translated copies for Rue de Sevres. Jessica Abel and Matt Madden also came out to the Mercure Hotel to get some friendly chat and gossip from the States in.

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* Nico Hitori De, the main artist on Oni's Spell Checkers was on hand and mentioned he'd be back in the States for Rose City Comic Con in Portland and New York Comic Con in NYC this fall. A win for the States because he is one fine human being.

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* the official Angouleme mascot hangs out by a fumer chat.

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* my haul! Three BDs including that Chemin Perdu and the two-parter Adrastee by Mathieu Bablet that made me believe in magic again. The Wonder Woman mini comic is from Pantsu (who tabled at the alternate show FOFF) and unfolds to reveal a wicked poster. Cartoonist Elisa Caroli models below.

* Angouleme, I will return next year. Count on it and count the days as your heart fills with dread.

*****

* Jen Vaughn is a Seattle-based cartoonist and graduate of The Center For Cartoon Studies. You can read her blogging on behalf of her employer Fantagraphics Books here. You can read her digital comic Avery Fatbottom here. You can follow her on Twitter here.

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Go, Look: Tiny Pencil

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Go, Look: Comics By Mirko Ilic

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Go, Look: Various Flash Gordon Images

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A Few Random Notes Concerning The Angouleme Festival: Festival Responds To SodaStream Letter

Here are few quick notes about things going on at the Angouleme Festival.

In addition to these quick-hit, bulleted updates, we're running intertwined on-the-ground perspectrive columns from Jen Vaughn (1, 2) and Paul Karasik (1, 2, 3), so please be sure to stay tuned. Both have updates today and then about 11 AM ET all the prizes and stuff should be named.

image* Chuck Forsman profile in Liberation. That's a really nice get. I haven't heard anything about the seemingly larger-than-ever presence of North Americans at the Festival, but I'm not really in a great position to hear about that. I can't imagine the Festival would be unhappy if it became something that North American audiences started doing, or at least a chunk of them.

* Heidi MacDonald reports that book sales in the French-language market has grown to 6000 titles published. I actually don't know that I believe those figures, nor do I think the best description of that market right now is seen in the claim in that piece that best-sellers have declined to 80,000 in sales. The growth of the French market in terms of books sold has been a story for years and years and years now, but the best report I know of -- the same one that gets published every year in early January -- says that 2013 actually saw a shrinkage in that market to just under 5200 titles published. That is not only not 6000 books but was news because it was a decline from 2012. Also, there was a significant surge this year in those books selling over 50K, and a number continue to sell in the six figures -- it's not a generation ago sales-wise, but it doesn't seem a market unfriendly to big-sellers. If there are better figures to come that nail down the 6000 figure and analysis that shows over-publishing has hit blockbusters more than starved-for-exposure smaller selling titles as most I've people I've spoken to believe, that will be a really interesting story.

* here's an English-languge article on the response from the Festival regarding a letter from multiple cartoonists asking for the Festival to not affiliate itself with the controversial company SodaStream. It takes the form of a strongly-worded refutation of the facts at issue and the appropriateness of this response were this the issue claimed -- not the usual soft response you get in a case like this.

* finally, I'm told that Jacques Tardi, a major French-language comics figure and the festival's Grand Prix winner in 1985, has signed the petition. They should release an updated list at some point today.
 
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Go, Look: House Of Mystery Covers Gallery

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

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

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Happy 59th Birthday, Bob Schreck!

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