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
















March 31, 2014


Mike Ritter, RIP

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Go, Look: Yet Another Postcard From Fielder

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David A. Trampier, 1954-2014

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David A. Trampier, a fantasy artist whose work was prominently featured in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons gaming material in the late 1970s and a cartoonist who created the longtime featurey Wormy for the magazine Dragon, died on March 24 in a nursing home in Carbondale, Illinois. He was 59 years old. The cause of death was believed to be have been a stroke; the artist had also recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Trampier was responsible for what may be the iconic image in all of fantasy gaming: the cover art for the Player's Handbook volume of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons series of books. The art depicted the aftermath of combat between an assembled group of adventurers and some lizard creatures: manly sword-wiping, sage plotting of the next maneuver, opportunistic looting of the space. Trampier was a house artist at gaming company TSR at the time of the publication of those books, which took the James Vance-flavored spin-off of tabletop war games out of several dozen campus gaming clubs and into the homes of a wide variety of young creative people, and in doing so, staked a claim to general cultural awareness.

It is important to note that in those days, when artwork of any kind had to be conveyed via published book rather than on-line, the pictorial component provided by artists like Trampier was a hugely significant element in the visualization necessary to make those games work. Trampier's work carried with it an ethos of grubby subsistance to a genre that often featured the lofty and heroic. His characters were frequently caught in moments right before or right after actual dramatic activity; they looked like people that would spend any money accrued in a seedy tavern rather than orienting themselves towards an apocalyptic battle of good versus evil. What action scenes Trampier did were usually of the random encounter variety rather than the table-thumping climaxes of the typical gaming evening. He drew a lot of hallways. Trampier's had a working class feel, the adventurer as everyman or everywoman.

image"Dave Trampier's art was easily one of my favourite things about Dungeons & Dragons," the cartoonist Dylan Horrocks told CR, providing the jpeg at left of what he described as his favorite image of Trampier's. "It was his black & white drawings that I was most in awe of. I used to study his drawings closely: the great design sense, the gorgeous inking, the powerful solidity that made everything feel almost real. I tried to draw like him for ages, but of course I couldn't. His was such a distinctive unique voice - always recognisably him, even though he was so versatile. Sometimes he'd draw nothing but shadows, out of which some mysterious, half-hidden, genuinely terrifying monster would emerge. Other drawings looked like woodcuts, or delicate etchings. He could be funny, scary, epic or lyrical -- sometimes all at once. More importantly, his work often touched something deep in my brain. More than any other D&D artist, Trampier drew me into an imaginary world that seemed like a place I really wanted to be. Those little black and white drawings felt gutsy, charming, magical and -- somehow, in a weird way -- honest."

Trampier began a comic strip called Wormy for the gaming magazine Dragon starting in 1977, in that publication's devoted comics section alongside future prominent cartoonist as Phil Foglio. A brightly colored, rambling story whose central conceit was exploring these worlds from the monster's point of view, Wormy was more reminiscent of a country-tinged Vaughn Bodé strips than any of the more realistically rendered, straight-faced comics that many fans might have preferred. More Pogo than Pellucidar, Wormy had to have been one of the odder achievements in comics at the time, across the course of a mini-boom of fantasy works that's only just now begin to come back into play. As was the case with many fantasy expressions of that time across various media, Dungeons & Dragons had an arch component that both expanded the game's appeal to a certain element of smart folks and older players that could not always take their fantasy 100 percent seriously; Wormy certainly worked that way. Wormy was also off-model in terms of the dominant Hildebrandt Brothers/Frank Frazetta/John Buscema art ethos of that time period, although its "serious" moments were as well-executed as nearly any comics fantasy going. One wonders if it isn't due for a bit of rediscovery given current publishing climes.

Wormy's run was truncated. In 1988, the feature and the artist disappeared; royalties and other payments to the artist were returned unopened. A few, idle rumors were floated in that pre-Internet era that there had been a dispute about the comic strip, a belief that firmed up a bit later on but may always remain a creature of second-hand testimony. In 2002, a newspaper article identified a person with Trampier's name as a cab driver in Carbondale; it was later confirmed to be the former gaming figure. Trampier declined invitations tendered for gaming-related work and appearances at shows.

An article at Paste suggests that Rampier was more recently considering a comics comeback, hoping an appearance at a local gaming convention might drive interest in publisher taking on a book featuring the Wormy material. It's been further suggested that an element of financial need was driving that effort. He had in recent years sold original art after the closure of his taxicab service employer.

A significant storehouse of Wormy material can be found here. A Facebook fan page devoted to Trampier has a number of illustrations scanned in here.

Horrocks: "I'm really sorry he seems to have had some tough times and I hope he found some peace in his later life."

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Go, Look: The Key, From Rian Hughes And Grant Morrison

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Go, Wait List: Cartoonists And Freelancers Hit Affordable Care Act Deadline Wall, Questions Remain

I would imagine there will be no getting on the Affordable Care Act sign-up site today. I'm writing this before I know it to be true, but the on-line aspects of the sign-up for this program were way too screwed up for me to think that there will be smooth sailing on the last day. I won't scold you for waiting until now: you should be able to sign up for something before a deadline provided. That doesn't mean you'll be able to. The one thing I would suggest is going back to your state site, or talking to one of your local people, about getting wait-listed if your state allows that; I know some states are making lists. God knows how effective or useful those will be. The other thing I very much suggest is to continue to pay attention to this issue and make the next deadline if this one is blown.

I've talked to maybe two dozen cartoonists who've been able to secure more affordable insurance through one of the exchanges, and a little less than half that number who haven't been able to sign up or are not sure their sign-up went through. I believe the penalty will end up being about $100 for every $10,000 you earn, starting at around $100 to that first $10K. That certainly won't be pleasant, but likely won't lead many people to eBay their David Mazzucchelli Artist's Editions come April 2015. I don't mean to make light, but I think it's worth noting that the punishment will be in the still-lacking-insurance more than in the penalty -- the notion floated once upon a time that comics makers would be driven from comics in droves by severe penalties seems to have been more of a Mole Man minion than a Galactus-sized threat to the art form. I'll keep my ears open, though.

There's a way of thinking in comics -- a way of thinking in life, but I think I find it a lot more in comics than I do in other circles I travel -- where people conceive of how something should work and then hammer away with fury and dismay at those things that fail to match the perceived best outcome. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with Superman. I think this frequently nudges people towards unhappiness. We can always conceive of a better outcome than the one we have. If things must be perfect to be pursued, there's little point in pursuing anything. In this case, I'm grateful that people like Jen Sorensen, Laura Park and Tony Millionaire (according to public statements) all found some benefit with the new program, and I'm not necessarily discouraged by those for whom it didn't work out, or hasn't come together yet or who prefer to declare with tremulous fury their preference that the country had a different system altogether in lieu of working with their corner of the mess we have. I think the wider attention is good, the drive to eventually get that part of comics-makers' lives squared away will be a positive over time even with frustration between here and there. I have some issues myself to work out, but I'm glad that more people I know are better off today and that even the frustrated people are thinking about this stuff and working to do something about it instead of a general policy of not going to the doctor, believing that any emergency room visit will bankrupt them forever without having any idea of the figures and programs involved, and potentially dying at home.

Comics people do pretty well fudging around deadlines, and I hope that anyone who was frustrated or left out of this process that needed to be helped will still pursue that help in this area if only to meet a future deadline, or will find other ways to take care of this issue in their lives.
 
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Parade Extra: That City Of Glass Panel From CAB 2013


 
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Bundled Extra: Comics Continue To Be Sold From Dave Cockrum's Collection To Benefit Paty Cockrum

There's a comprehensive list of comics available for sale here from the late artist Dave Cockrum's collection of comics, sales that will benefit his widow Paty. It looks like a variety of books from various periods, including working copies and comps. You can reserve comics by contacting the sales agent directly, you don't have to buy right away.

Aside from the charitable aspect of this, I'm sort of fascinated by collectible comics having a provenance this way, so I wanted to make note of it here.
 
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Go, Look: Joe Kubert Cover Art For Joe Kubert Presents

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Your 2014 National Cartoonists Society Divisional Award Nominees

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The National Cartoonists Society has announced the nominees for its ambitious divisional awards slate. There's a bunch here that's interesting, including a fairly extensive number of comics-making cartoonists if you add up the comic book, graphic novel, on-line short form and on-line long form categories. Also always of interest is the newspaper comic strips category, as that's the traditional precursor to Outstanding Cartoonist/Reuben Awards a few years down the line. That category is Isabella Bannerman, Teri Leibenson and Mark Tatulli this year; Tatulli is already a nominee this year for the general award, which is interesting to note in and of itself.

This is the first major award nomination I can recall for On The Ropes, last year's book by the writer James Vance and the artist Dan Burr. And it's always good to see Sergio nominated. Bob Eckstein, Mike Twohy, Mark Parisi and Dave Whamond join Tatulli as those that were nominated in two categories. I hope I didn't miss one there.

These awards are announced during a ceremony held over the annual meeting on Memorial Day weekend, a floating event held this year in San Diego. The Outstanding Cartoonist nominees, previously announced, are Wiley Miller, Stephan Pastis, Hilary Price and Tatulli.

Congratulations to all nominees.

Editorial Cartoons
* Clay Bennett
* Adam Zyglis
* Mike Ramirez

Newspaper Illustration
* Bob Eckstein
* Miel Prudencio Ma
* Dave Whamond

Feature Animation
* Mike Giamo: Production Design Frozen (Disney)
* Hayao Miyazaki: Director, The Wind Rises (Disney)
* Jonathan del Val: Animator of Lucy character, Despicable Me 2 (Illumination)

TV Animation
* Craig McCracken, Wander Over Yonder (Disney)
* Paul Rudish, Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse shorts (Disney)
* Douglas Sloan And Art Edler Brown, Dragons: Riders of Berk (Dreamworks)

Newspaper Panels
* Dave Coverly
* Scott Hilburn
* Mark Parisi

Magazine Gag Cartoons
* Matt Diffee
* Bob Eckstein
* Mike Twohy

Advertising/Product Illustration
* Cedric Hohnstadt
* Sean Parkes
* Rich Powell

Greeting Cards
* Glenn McCoy
* Mark Parisi
* George Schill

Comic Books
* Sergio Aragones, Sergio Aragones Funnies
* Jay Fosgitt, Bodie Troll
* Chris Samnee, Daredevil

Graphic Novel
* Dan E Burr, On The Ropes
* Rick Geary, Madison Square Tragedy
* Andrew C Robinson, The 5th Beatle

Magazine Illustration
* Daryll Collins
* Anton Emdin
* Dave Whamond

Online -- Long Form
* Jenn Manley Lee, Dicebox
* Dylan Meconis, Family Man
* Eddie Pittman, Red's Planet
* Jeff Smith, Tuki

Online -- Short Form
* Jim Horwitz, Watson
* Ryan Pagelow, Buni
* Mike Twohy, New Yorker Online

Book Illustration
* Matt Davies
* William Joyce
* CF Payne

Newspaper Comic Strips
* Isabella Bannerman, Six Chicks
* Terri Libenson, Pajama Diaries
* Mark Tatulli, Lio

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: One Night In Paris

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Go, Look: Two By Simon Gane

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Mysterious Island/Time Machine Moving Their Store?

Michel Fiffe has a post up at Facebook that Chelsea's Mysterious Island/Time Machine comics store -- a longtime favorite of a lot of comics folks for it eclectic mix of back-issues covering a range of comics, will be moving their location sooner rather than later. I had a chance to go last year with Frank Santoro, and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I wish them the best. They are either in my on-line blind spot or don't have a significant Internet presence, so I can't find something other than Fiffe's statement right now, but I thought it worth mentioning. If nothing else, it's a reminder to support your local comic shop in their current physical location and to be kind towards any move they feel they have to make in order to survive and/or thrive. Comics stores used to be distinctive in terms of comics' past; now they're distinctive in terms of all other media.
 
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Go, Look: Ernie Chan Draws Robert E. Howard Characters

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Not Comics: Andrew Wheeler On A Pair Of Odd And Depressing Gay Prison Jokes In Marvel Films Short

Andrew Wheeler wrote a passionate essay here over dismay he felt when seeing not one but two strong jokes in the recent Marvel Films short with basically "being-gay-in-prison" as the punchline, and how this plays out against a backdrop of an entire movie universe with no gay characters whatsoever that aren't, apparently, jokes (and significant shortcomings in non-white guy leads more generally). Those strike me as shitty jokes, and I wonder if they didn't develop from an arrogantly assumed comfort level along the lines that we are surely so far past the point of making such crude jokes as a matter of course that these would have to be taken as ironic and knowing. Who knows?

I think as those movies enter into a space of being so broadly mainstream as to be almost unfathomable for a comic book they will have a lot of eyes on them. They're therefore bound to be looked at with a greater scrutiny than they were even all the way up to that first Avengers movie. And good. I suppose there's a discussion to be had -- Wheeler hints at it -- in terms of how much we have a consumer's reaction to art, where that takes us and to what extent that's wise. It's not a way of looking at the world and art that comes naturally for me, so it's something I have a hard time grasping. Here, though, what Wheeler's written just seems like a critical and personal reaction to being demeaned. It's hard for me to even conceive of a counter-argument to that.
 
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Parade Extra: Abhay Khosla Made An Animated Cartoon


 
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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* StudyGroup has started a campaign for their next round of print comics efforts. I like those guys, and I'm sure the money will be spent carefully, although my standard worries about capital-light publishing apply. That would seem the grandest crowd-funder hitting that alt-/arts- market the most squarely this week.

* this campaign on artist Joe Phillips' behalf raised enough late last week for a prosthetic foot plus some money to put towards rehab. God bless and good luck to that person. And good on comics for getting that done quickly; I think if someone needs a limb that's worth five bucks, and I don't care if that person makes comics called "I Hate You" comics aimed directly at you.

* this isn't comics, but occasional cartoonist B'Wana Spoons has a crowd-funder going in support of toys that he'd like to see made.

* that Dave Sim Patreon campaign to afford the cartoonist more time to work on the Alex Raymond he's partly completed is at a little over $300. I have no idea what to make of that, actually, because it seems to be a straight-up patronage campaign not tied into any particularly rate of production.

* Seth Kushner's Schmuck project is at about the halfway point in terms of raising desired funds at about thehalfway point in its roll-out.

* it seems like this Winsor McCay-related crowd-funder has been up for about 15 months, so I'm guessing this is a second volume or perhaps even a re-do. Winsor McCay will be of interest to more than a few folks, I'm sure.

* finally, the fine writer-about-comics Richard Bruton would like to recommend a work for your support in the FPI Blog's new column devoted to such recommendations.
 
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Go, Look: Polars

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It's in French, but it's fun to look at
 
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Go, Look: Felix Comic Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I've heard nothing but nice things about the recently-concluded ECCC, although I'll keep my ears open and will cover anything newsworthy as a stand-alone. We're right in the middle of con season now, and it won't stop to even breathe for a couple of weeks until mid-May. Congrats to the organizers.

* speaking of con season, what better way to kick off MoCCA Festival week than with an anticipatory post by the usually reflective folks at Secret Acres. It's been a long winter.

image* Mina Keneko and Francoise Mouly on Ant Colony. Mike Sterling on Airlock #2-3. The Page 45 folks on a bunch of different comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Wolverine And The X-Men Vol. 6. Chris Sims on Andre The Giant: Life And Legend. Sean Gaffney on Soul Eater Vol. 19.

* love this Eddie Campbell drawing.

* I'm not certain why I have a set of ALA posters featuring the Avengers in my bookmarks folder, but here you go.

* Joshua Malbin and Alex Rothman talk to Tom Hart.

* look at this neat Saul Steinberg book cover.

* here's a crew of talented young people.

* this photo of Wally Wood is amazing both for itself and the fact that Wood was only 49 when it was taken.

* finally, there's a story here about a discovery of "sexy artwork" from the great Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka worked in a variety of styles and released a bunch of sexually-charged material as an actual maker of comics, and this article is really old-fashioned in its view of such work, but it's always nice to see more art from a master.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Steven T. Seagle!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Dave Lapp!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 30, 2014


CR Sunday Interviews: Chris Arrant And Cliff Chiang

imageAlthough my primary interest is the comics themselves and their makers, I will admit to occasional bouts of fascination withi the industry of covering comics. One of those avenues for exploring the medium today is a bunch of published material driving attention to modern and nostalgic expressions of mainstream comics. I was happy to receive in the mail a book from TwoMorrows (currently on sale) featuring a full-length interview with the talented artist Cliff Chiang. I've enjoyed Chiang's art in a variety of titles, most recently the New 52-era relaunch of DC 's Wonder Woman. I know relatively very little about him. I was also intrigued that this was the the twenty-ninth book in the series.

I am on-line friendly with the writer Chris Arrant, one of two credited authors on the work. Arrant has been providing a significant amount of professional level content to various comics-oriented web sites for years and years now. We set out to talk about doing this kind of work both generally and in this specific case. Arrant was nice enough to facilitate my asking of a few questions of Chiang about being in a book like this one and one or two of the issues Arrant and I discuss concerning his work. I am grateful for both of their time. I tweaked maybe six words in what follows, for clarity. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: Chris, I know that you've written for most if not all of the major pop culture oriented comics sites, but I'm not sure I know where writing about comics lies in the overall spectrum of what it is you do? How much of your professional life is the work you do about comics?

CHRIS ARRANT: Currently the majority of my time is spent writing about comics freelance for Newsarama, CBR, and various other outlets and companies. I've been doing it professionally since 2003, but up until 2011 it was merely a side job to my main focus as a freelance graphic designer and marketing consultant. That work is for local clients in Northwest Florida and is far removed from the comics industry, but it's what I was trained in and what I did prior to going freelance full-time in 2005.

As of this interview, my main outlets for journalism is covering the Marvel beat -- with some occasional forays elsewhere -- for Newsarama, along with doing some work for CBR's Robot 6 blog including a Friday Q&A series titled Conversing On Comics. TwoMorrows recently released the long-form interview book I wrote, Modern Masters: Cliff Chiang, and I've got some work put into two other long-form comics journalism books, but those are still in the early stages. I occasionally pick up additional assignments for print magazines or other websites, but Newsarama and Robot 6 is where people can find me on a regular basis. And, as like most any self-respecting freelancer, I'm always looking for opportunities to do more.

imageSPURGEON: You're also an occasional writer of comics; is that still an ambition for you? I know you have a Badrock comic coming out this year, but would you do more work if you could? What do you think has kept you from doing more work?

ARRANT: I'd definitely be interested. I've always considered myself a writer; first as a fiction writer, then comics writer, then journalist -- but all writing. I found journalism in high school and that inadvertently led me back to comics in 2003 to cover it. I did self-published work in the early 1990s out of a now-defunct Prodigy forum, and like you said I've done some in the past for anthologies, webcomics, and even a biographical comic for Bluewater. I have ambitions to do more comics writing, both creator-owned and work-for-hire -- I have a couple projects in the works -- but for the past few years I've primarily focused on comics journalism and my graphic design work.

A number of notable comics creators came to comics from a journalism background -- a number from comics journalism, even: Mark Waid, Chris Staros and Paul Levitz come to mind, and Axel Alonso and Ron Marz come were journalists outside comics before they came in. That being said, I'm extremely conscious about the potential conflict of interest that lies there, and I'm careful to avoid it; when I was doing work for those Image anthologies and in the immediate aftermath, I turned down assignments covering Image projects. Since I committed to doing work with Rob Liefeld, I've discussed it with all my journalism editors that I wouldn't be able to cover his work as to avoid any perceived conflict of interest. The script for that Rob Liefeld project has been turned in for almost a year now, but until it's out I find it in my best interest -- and the people who read my journalism work -- to avoid covering it.

SPURGEON: Do you think the professional experience you do have provides you a perspective in talking with comics professionals that is useful to you? What do you think your special insights are, your particular focuses are, in terms of your interviews and comics work generally? Is there a story or a kind of comic that interests you more than others, is there a story or a comic we could create in a laboratory that would be right up your alley?

ARRANT: My experience as a comics writer is infinitesimally small, but I feel it's made a difference -- especially in understanding the production of comic books and the unique demands that has on people working in the industry -- creators, editors, production staff and on down through the line.

In terms of my focus, currently a majority of my focus is providing frontline reporting on Marvel's comics output for Newsarama. In some cases that's more of a "meat and potatoes" type affair in terms of lines of questioning, but Mike Doran and Lucas Siegel do allow me some latitude -- time permitting -- to get out of that box and just talk to creators without any specific agenda -- my November interview with J.H. Williams 3 is a good example. There's a lot more I want to do in terms of interviews, articles and features, but time, resources, and outside editorial concerns play huge factors in what ultimately gets done. Over at Robot 6, I'm do a couple posts on Wednesday that are sometimes time-relevant but oftentimes just a de facto Tumblr for me, and on Fridays I do longer-form general interviews with creators I'm interested in talking to that my editors there are also interested in me talking to.

But outside that, I've been working these past few years to try to carve out some time in interviews -- even in the requisite articles covering a newly announced book, for example -- to get past the promotional and get into the personal with a creator. Whenever I do a phone interview, or do longer interviews by email, I try to open up with softball, open-ended questions for the people I'm interviewing -- "what are you working on?" has become a common crutch for me recently. In some cases that Q&A portion doesn't make it to the final printed interview, but oftentimes, for me at least, it's the most genuine part of the conversation -- especially in the unfortunate rote formula that 'emails Q&As as high school essay questions' have become. In those cases I sometimes drill down -- apologies to the people I've interviewed like this -- with three or four rounds of follow-up questions; sometimes to get facts not clear in the initial answer, but oftentimes to get into the things behind those facts -- the ambitions, the concerns, and basically the 'what were you thinking?' which lead to those decisions.

imageAs far as an ideal comic that would interest me as a journalist covering it? I have a couple answers for that; as a fan, afictionado and one-time wannabe comics artist, I'd love the opportunity to do more art-centric writing about comics -- I've recently been re-reading Steve Rude's work and last night I read World's Finest with Dave Gibbons writing, and those pages are chock full of moments and choices I'd love to critically wrap my head around and write about it. But does a sizeable enough audience read that sort of thing, or a journalism outfit have a base enough, to support the time and energy needed to do that? Unfortunately, no.

Another aspect as a person working in journalism and covering this industry is the business side of things. I feel that facet of the comics business is severely overlooked by journalism outlets, but from working on the inside I see why; editors and publishers don't see a readership there to support funding those articles. Articles of this fashion are commissioned on occasion, but the traffic on those is far overshadowed by stories covering comics from an entertainment aspect. By and large comics journalism is more Entertainment Weekly than Wall Street Journal or even Variety. It's just the way it is.

SPURGEON: How are you different now as an interviewer than when you started?

ARRANT: My first interview for covering comics was with Kurt Busiek, talking about the then-upcoming debut of Superman: Secret Identity. My editor at the time, Matt Brady, held my hand on the etiquette of comics, doing interviews, and the format of email Q&As. I'd interviewed in the past of course, but those were for local papers on an in-person or phone basis, and about local issues as opposed to entertainment journalism.

Since that time in 2003, I feel like I've grown a lot -- and have a lot yet to grow -- in terms of asking more than the basic questions. I do ask the basic questions because they're needed, but there's more than one way to get a story and tell a story for me. Another aspect is learning more about the industry from the people who work in it; I frequently reference Fantagraphics' compendium of Frank Miller interviews from a decade or so ago, and I've struck up conversations online and in person with people in various places in the industry. I have a couple of sounding boards of people in the industry, or who have left it, to get my bearings on some areas where I need it, or just need a second opinion.

SPURGEON: Are you happy with the options you have to write about comics, or to interview about comics? Do you miss any avenues that are no longer open for you? Do you feel like you'll be able to do this for a while?

ARRANT: I touched on this before, but I can say I enjoy what I do now but I'd also enjoy covering comics from different vantage points. I've had conversations with several companies about taking an editorial role of comics sites but I've never had the right opportunity present itself to go down that path.

As for missing any avenues no longer open? A younger me might say I was never able to write for the classic Comics Journal or Amazing Heroes, or my guilty pleasure of the old Marvel Age magazine -- next to Fred Hembeck. As a professional? There's not much to miss -- with some few exceptions, comics journalism is in a better place now than it has been before; not to say it's great now, but comparatively we're in a better place.

Could I do this for awhile? I could, either continuing to write for others or establishing my own site, but there's other goals I have outside of comics journalism I'd like to pursue as well.

SPURGEON: Having just written a book profiling a working artist, how do you feel in general about the idea that art in mainstream comics is frequently passed over in favor of discussing writing or giving credit for narrative and story solely to the writer?


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ARRANT: Most of my friends in the comics business are artists; the artists working on the books, and also the production and design staff behind the scenes. Why is that? Maybe it's because I took classes in college hoping to be an artist but quit when I got an Icarus complex over Travis Charest's work.

There's a lot more that can be said about art's role in comics; from large scale things such as art providing the tenor to the stories being told, but also smaller things that are often overlooked. Things like crediting an artist when websites and magazines show their art, or including their name when you list the author of a comic book concept. I'm not even talking about Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in relation to Marvel, but down to a smaller everyday scale of journalists/editors leaving out an artist's name when talking about a creator-owned project in the possessive term. Part of that I admit is due to most comics production schedule forcing it to be so the artist can't draw every issue, but there's still room to include it.

I see the large-scale comics outfits becoming a writer's medium for some time now; it started once the bloom came off the rose for superstar artists in the 1990s, and it's become something akin to television where the directors are interchangeable and the writers are the primary "storyteller" of the work. That's as opposed to movies, which are still primary a director's medium and the director by-and-large has that stamp of artistry shown in the final cut. Neither way is ideal, but collaboration is a very hard thing to do in a way that's honorable to all parties involved.

Getting back to your point about comics journalism covering comics in narrative form moreso than artistic, it's a major problem. I have the problem myself, but I've taken steps to amend it. I have some college classes and background as a designer, but I've also taken some college art history classes in recent time and bought some books on art criticism to attempt to speak more knowledgeably about art in comics. Work in progress.

SPURGEON: So this project. Can you tell me where doing a book on Cliff fits into your overall projects? Why was it appealing for you to do a book right now?

ARRANT: I've been a fan of the Modern Masters books for awhile, and larger than that a fan of long-form interview books of creative types going back to high school. Big fan of Studs Turkel as well. I enjoy the nature of conversation, especially in the written form, to being more than just about the facts but about the conversational aspects, the passing mentions, and just the flow of speaking.

I'd been wanting to do longer form writing for awhile covering comics in some respects, and some freelance commitments ended and some time opened up for me to do it. Also, my wife was enrolling in grad school, leaving me some extra time to do work since she too would be nose-deep in books and research.

imageSPURGEON: Talk me though as much of the development process as you can. Do they come to you? Do you go to them? What about Cliff -- assignment or proposal -- attracted you in terms of this kind of project?

ARRANT: How did I come to do this book? I'd been reading the Modern Masters series for years, even using them as reference in some of my work, and I had a gap in my schedule in 2012 and on a lark emailed TwoMorrows blindly to ask about doing it. They were interested, and we went from there.

I'd never done book-length interviews before; the closest I'd come is a five-part interview with J. Michael Straczynski ages ago for Newsarama. It was a challenge, but a challenge I wanted to do. I'd been fortunate enough to interview a wide range of artists and had some idea of who'd be interesting to talk to and could put up with me for that length of time. There was a short list I prepared and submitted to TwoMorrows, and then John Morrow and Eric Nolan-Weathington narrowed it down to two names, and Cliff was one of them.

Fortunately, Cliff said yes.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Is it difficult to work with a contextual project with these aims given that Cliff is still early on in what one hopes is a long career? How do you make sense of a career that's so near its beginning and could go anywhere from here?

ARRANT: The title of this book series, "Modern Masters," does give out a vibe of only being for those who have done 30-40 years in the business, but some of my favorite in the series have been with those who were still in the early stages of their career -- Eric Powell's, Chris Sprouse's, and Mike Wieringo's for example.

But that being said, Cliff's lead an interesting life as a comics professional; I delved deeper into his career before I asked him to make sure there'd be enough fertile ground to sow, and there was. His upbringing, his Harvard education, working as an intern for Marvel and editor for Disney and DC, then apprenticing under Walt Simonson and then onto his official start of his career in 1999. Cliff's put 15 years into the industry full of ups and downs, and he's one of the most level-headed guys I know in comics.

But yeah, he still as 30-40 years in comics if he wanted it; but I felt, and feel, that this time now is a pivotal moment for his career and I wanted to document that. What if someone had done a book-length interview with Frank Miller in 1983? Jack Kirby in 1960? Jim Lee in 1991? Or more recent, Robert Kirkman in 2007, Stuart Immonen in 2002? They had big futures ahead of them, but they had already done a sizeable amount and clearly had a lot on their mind.

SPURGEON: Are there model works or even books in this series that you look to? Is there someone who you think does this specific kind of work very well? Anything you pulled from?

ARRANT: Old copies of The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes, Studs Turkel's Working, old interviews by the late Daniel Robert Epstein, and from Modern Masters I'd say the Wieringo book and the Bruce Timm. That and Terry Gross on Fresh Air every week.

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SPURGEON: I'd like to draw you out as much as possible in terms of specifics on the practcalities of doing a book like this. I know you're prone to pretty extensive research. What was your research like here? Was it reading, talking to other people? Did you pre-interview?

ARRANT: The first step was reading as much written about Cliff as I could find; mostly that's online interviews, both accessible and those gained through the Wayback Machine. I also dug into Harvard's university newspaper and found some bits on him, before comics.

The second step was reading and re-reading Cliff's comics work. I thought I had a lot in my files (read: boxes and boxes of comics in storage), but there was a lot I was missing. A friend at DC helped me there, but I also spent a sizeable chunk of money ordering single issues through online retailers.

In the beginning I planned on doing some background interviews with people who had worked with Cliff, but once I sat down and saw how much research I'd done I relented from that. I did have several conversations with Cliff by phone and email before we began the formal interviews however, to get a feel for things and to get info from the source.

SPURGEON: The interview that constitutes most of this book... how was that done? I know you're in Florida, so was this done in person or long distance? Spoken or written? Did you fashion answers afterward -- what was the editing process like? Was there another voice involved at that point?

ARRANT: Yes, unfortunately the budgets for this kind of book doesn't allow for conducting this in person. The first draft of the entire book was done from recorded phone interviews, with Cliff being very patient as I had some technical glitches that necessitated some repetition in interviews. But we did the interviews by phone in two hour chunks in the morning before he began work for the day, then they were transcribed. We looked over the transcription and I found several instances of "why didn't I ask this when he said that?!" and Cliff agreed to go back with me and dig deeper.

Eric Nolen-Weathington was my editor on this, and is a very kind and patient man. He offered some tips on the logistics of such an epic recording, and was a sounding board for me in terms of staying on point -- and knowing when to go off track -- in the interviews. The final drafts were Cliff, Eric and I looking over a PDF of the book tweaking wording, punctuation, grammar, as well as the layout of the book.

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SPURGEON: Who chose the art and assembled the art? How much input did you have on what was included and how that was presented? Did you work the publishers directly on that, or was that a matter of fair use for you just in terms of seeking out a partnership with them?

ARRANT: We were fortunate enough that Cliff keeps an immaculate file of most all of the work he's done. What he didn't have was at his mother's house, so we had a lot to choose from. Cliff deposited it in Dropbox and Eric and I began poring over it like Chuck Rozanski when he discovered the Edgar Church collection. As far as my input, there were specific pieces mentioned in the interviews that I made a list of to include, but the rest was worked out between Cliff and Eric. I was told the cover was ran by DC, but I'm not sure what arrangements TwoMorrows made with DC and Cliff's other publishers.

SPURGEON: Cliff comes across as smart and articulate. The latter isn't true of all smart and talented people and the former isn't true of all people, period. Is it helpful to deal with someone that can speak on their feet, that can answers questions directly, as put to them? Have you ever worked with someone that was less articulate? What did you do then?

ARRANT: Cliff was an ideal interview subject and partner in this undertaking. I've probably interviewed 1500 people in my career thusfar, and one of the reasons Cliff was on my shortlist was I admired his work and I knew he would be an informative and interesting interview.

But I've interviewed people who were short, smug and reticent to talk? That can be off-putting, especially when you're interviewing someone looking for facts -- I interviewed a major comics writer a few years back who I was a fan of, and found out why he rarely does interviews -- he doesn't like doing them and makes it known, but also makes it so people don't want to interview him again.

But in some of those cases other where you have rambling interviewees who don't answer your question but answer their own, it can be a different kind of enjoyment. You just have to adjust your expectations and deal with what you're given than what you're asking.

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SPURGEON: The structure of the interview is a very standard, class "career-spanning" progression. Did you ever think about another way of doing it? That might be part of the series, I'm not sure. Does doing an interview that way lock you into certain discussion, do you think, like talking about building a skill set, or departures from one project to the next?

ARRANT: In the early planning stages of this I plotted out some alternate scenarios for how to approach the subject matter, but all of the previous Modern Masters books did it in a firm linear narrative so I stuck to that.

SPURGEON: What do you think people react to in Cliff's work? Was there anything you felt you were seeing that maybe others, or more casual fans, haven't noticed to the extent you have?

ARRANT: Cliff has a great economy of line, but also an overriding sense of style that blends with that first notion. Some people have one or another, but it's hard to find an ideal blending. As a fan I'd come to appreciate Cliff's work on several levels; first as someone practicing what I saw was an Alex Toth-like approach, but then later for his superior design sense, especially in Cliff's covers. Around the time of Greendale, I revisited his past work looking at in a storytelling approach -- not just drawing pieces of artwork on a page but building a larger story.

His work on Wonder Woman has exposed him to audiences who'd never before seen his work, or seen it on that kind of stage, but for me I feel he's been a critical favorite going back to Beware The Creeper. It just takes time for that to translate, if at all for some artists.

As for any nuanced perspective on his art that others might not see? I've been re-reading his Wonder Woman since the Modern Masters book came out, and I've found a new appreciation for the choices he's made in panel composition and for staging. There are times were there's other options he could have pursued, some maybe to create a bolder panel, but I can see him making smarter choices in service to the story as a whole rather than individual panels or even the allure of more marketable original art pages.

imageThere's some recent work by him that's overlooked that I'd encourage people to check out: the story he did with Brett Lewis in the Vertigo anthology The Witching Hour was some amazing storytelling done in short order, and then also the story he wrote and drew for Batman Black and White #6.

SPURGEON: What is your sense of Cliff's career? Do you think he's been used well, do you think the industry has done well by him? Is there anything you would specifically wish for him moving forward?

ARRANT: That's a hard thing for me to say. In our interviews for Modern Masters I get a little disappointed to learn about these other tantalizing projects that were in the works at DC that he never did such as a PIXAR-esque Aquaman graphic novel or a pulp Batman series, but looking at it more rationalizing it's hard to say if those speculative projects -- where my imagination fills in the blanks -- would match up to the projects he actually did. As far as being used well by DC, there are numerous other characters and situations he could excel at if that's what they wanted, and more importantly, what he wanted.

I think it's interesting he's only done one piece of work for Marvel, a pin-up early in his career. Part of me would like to see him go there with those characters and the editorial/marketing regime Marvel has, but speaking larger I'd love to see him create new stories from the ground up. That story in Witching Hour was eye-opening, especially in relation to his concurrent work on Wonder Woman.

If Cliff has the story, or partnering with a writer and they have one together, I'd love to see them experiment with creator-owned work.

SPURGEON: Do you censor your own feelings about things in this book and in interviews generally. For instance, you asked about photo reference, character reference in broad terms, but unlike that line of questioning from some interviewers, I don't know how you feel about that kind of thing. How much do you feel compelled to engage with ideas or issues brought up in an interview, and how much are you willing to let the people you interview simply have the stage to do so?


ARRANT: Censoring? I wouldn't go that far, but I edit sometimes what I ask just in terms of where I think the most interesting conversations will be found for the reader. For Modern Masters I'm doing work for someone else, and looking to perform to what was agreed upon with them. I wouldn't have agreed to those terms if I thought I didn't have the room, the support and the latitude to do something important and justifying for the time and energy everyone involved spent on it.

Going to your specific point about the use of photo reference and character reference in comics, it's a subject I've thought about even before I was a working journalist but just a young fan reading New Mutants #100 and seeing pieces of Frank Miller's Ronin and George Perez's Teen Titans. My thoughts on the issue have matured over time to understand the valid points of using it to some degree, both in comics from unapproved likenesses being used for characters to acknowledged homages and down to swipes and wholesale repurposing of art. That is a conversation worth having in the comics community, but it's about finding the right stage to discuss that in a way that's meaningful. I could have spent an entire chapter of the Modern Masters book, for instance, delving deeper into that side of things spurring from the appropriation of famous figures' likenesses in Human Target and Wonder Woman, but more ink spent on that would mean less spent on other aspects of his life. I feel that the Modern Masters books are biographies-as-interviews, and that's what people want to read out of that.

I'd love to do an article, or article series, about the appropriation of art in comics. From outsiders like Lichenstein to so called "tracers," homagers, and even artists using cityscape photos as background in the 1970s and 1980s without giving credit. It's interesting that some of the major companies in their work-for-hire contracts have a page or two talking about art appropriation, even boiling it down to the percentage it can be like the original without raising flags. If any comics journalism editors are reading this and want to talk about it, email me!

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SPURGEON: What would you have people take away about Cliff, if they could take away one or two things?

ARRANT: Essentially it would be about the kind of life Cliff has had, how he carries himself as a person and a professional, and how that factors into these comics he draws. And that he's an artist doing comics as opposed to "just" a comics artist.

SPURGEON: I wanted to toss this in. You mentioned you did the Princess Diana comic for Bluewater. You also have experience with I'd bet about a half-dozen other publishers. What was the Bluewater experience like for a creator? Did you contract with just a letter, like I've heard? Were you left alone to write?

ARRANT: My experience with Bluewater was illuminating. I was aware of their track record on the shelves and behind the scenes, and spoke with several people who did business with them in the past before committing to work for them. I came into it wanting a learning experience, and I viewed the comics biography books as a kind of journalism told in comics form. For the Female Force: Princess Diana book I worked with company owner Darren Davis and artist Andrew Yerrakadu, and I didn't have any outside expectations of what it was. It proved to be a valuable learning experience, as a journalist covering comics, but also as someone working in the publishing industry.

As far as my contract, it was straight-forward and outlined what I was giving to them and what I was getting out of it. I've had longer contracts, and I've had shorter contracts. Darren lived up to the terms of the agreement, and that one-shot book has been collected, reprinted, and even sold digitally on several platforms.

SPURGEON: Is there a Northwest Florida comics scene?

ARRANT: Nothing in comparison to major urban cities, but there are a number of people starting out as comics professionals in the Northwest Florida area who are self-publishing in print and online. As far as comics stores, I feel the area is lucky to be pretty well covered in terms of comics stores; there are four full-serve shops within a 10 mile radius of myself, and if you spread that out to the 100 mile mark there's three more.

*****

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TOM SPURGEON: Cliff, I was wondering if you could talk about how you were approached and what made you say yes. What was appealing for you to be part of a project like this one? What made you say yes?

CLIFF CHIANG: I'm a big fan of the Modern Masters series, and I love to hear other creators talk about their history, working up through the ranks, stuff like that. You get a glimpse of the artist's personality and thought process that you can't necessarily intuit through their artwork alone. Everyone has a different story about how they broke in, or how they approach their day, and I'm a junkie for that sort of thing. When I was starting out, I'd hunt down printed interviews with creators I admired. Finding issues of TCJ with [David] Mazzuchelli or Los Bros [Hernandez]? Those were a goldmine to me. Now everything's scattered on the internet. This seemed like a good opportunity to tell the roundabout story of how I became an artist, get it in print and hopefully be a resource for aspiring cartoonists.

But it did take me a few days to respond to Chris Arrant's initial email. I hold the other artists in the series in very high regard, and don't really count myself among them. I guess the actual title of the book was the biggest stumbling block for me. But for those who enjoy my work, I thought it would be a worthwhile thing to do.

imageSPURGEON: For that matter, I always wonder how guys in your position might decide how to work with such projects -- even major web site interviews -- more generally. We have a really diffuse media set-up now, with a lot of players. Do you mind this part of your job, the part where you reach out to people through attentive media?

CHIANG: DC handles the press for Wonder Woman, so I haven't had to reach out very much over the last three years. I probably did too many interviews when the New 52 started, just hyping the book and answering the same slate of questions. I started to hate myself. I prefer a more substantive conversation, so I've hung back a bit lately. I was nervous about doing the book, but Chris and I have done interviews together in the past and I've enjoyed his pieces, so it was the best possible situation. I'm really proud of how it turned out, and lucky to work with Chris and Eric Nolen-Weathington on it.

SPURGEON: This book captures you at a very strong point in your career, I think. Do you feel like a finished product? Do you feel like you're in a creative space from where you'll work for a while? Was there any hesitation on your part to not take part in such a project until you were a bit further along in your career?

CHIANG: I'd like to think I'm a work-in-progress, but thanks to Wonder Woman my art is more visible than ever and I thought it'd be interesting to take a snapshot now. But it's funny because I'm finally at a point where I'm more confident about my work, but I'm also feeling the urge to shake things up. With any luck I'll continue to grow and be do things differently even a year from now.

SPURGEON: Do you think about career at all? Comics can be a strange and maddening place in terms of always getting work that flatters one's talent. You seem pretty comfortable in the book with how you've gotten to the place you're currently situated; is that a fair assessment?

CHIANG: To be honest, I'm probably too comfortable. I'm very grateful to DC and Vertigo for nurturing me and it's been great working with them, but in the book you'll find one of my career obsessions is to avoid being typecast or pigeon-holed. Right now, I don't know what's coming after Wonder Woman, but I'll have to take some bigger risks soon. That's partly to keep me creatively energized, but also to hopefully broaden the scope of my career.

imageSPURGEON: I'm very fond of your design work. The thing that jumps out at me on Wonder Woman is the varying provenances of the major designs. Your Wonder Woman is a tweak of I believe a Jim Lee design. Your New Gods designs are based on the great Kirby conceptions. There are original designs as well. How much attention do you pay on these costumes working as an ensemble? And can you talk about the Orion tweak in particular, the choices you made there given what a enormously strong basic design that is?

CHIANG: I wish I had the forethought to think of them as an ensemble. All the designs were done on a case-by-case basis, and the only thing holding them together is an underlying sensibility of trying to keep it graphic and readable. For the Greek gods, make them modern, or weird... no togas. With Orion, we saw no need to change the look but we were asked to embrace the idea and mission of the New 52 more fully, and that meant coming up with something, well, new. Early on, Jim Lee did some Orion sketches to get us thinking differently, and it really helped get me over the hump. Mentally, I had to get past the idea of making it better; Kirby's design can't be improved upon! What I could accept was running the design through my own aesthetic filters. It's not better, but it's me. I do think we ended up with a stronger character for our book as a result, because [writer Brian] Azzarello and I had to focus on how we wanted to portray Orion. It wasn't an easy process, but I'm really glad DC pushed us. And hey, now there's an action figure of it, too.

SPURGEON: What was it like for you to come out on the other side of this, Cliff? Did you gain any perspective you maybe hadn't before this project, on where you are and where you're going?

CHIANG: It was really humbling for me to reflect on 15 years of work, particularly the early years. Now, I had my ambitions and I hustled, but goddamn was I lucky, too. I owe a lot of people for giving me a chance and there's nothing like seeing it in black and white. I have to make good on the opportunities I was granted and make sure this book isn't the whole story. If anything, it's increased the pressure to do more and do better in the future.

*****

* Modern Masters Volume 29: Cliff Chiang, Chris Arrant And Eric Nolan-Weathington, TwoMorrows, softcover, 120 pages, 9781605490502, 1605490504, $15.95.
* Chris Arrant
* Cliff Chiang

*****

* cover to new book
* panel/page from Arrant's Princess Diana comic, art I believe by Andrew Yerrakadu
* Dave Gibbons/Steve Rude page from World's Finest
* a piece of art by Travis Charest
* a striking bit of design work from the Wonder Woman run, on which Chiang worked with writer Brian Azzarello
* a panel progression from one of the Wonder Woman issues
* Chiang's Jaime Hernandez/Archies homage
* Paul Smith-era X-Men as drawn by Chiang
* a panel from Batman: Black And White #6
* Chiang draws Black Canary, a character most identified with Alex Toth
* a piece of design art work from Chiang
* a stand-alone panel from the Wonder Woman series
* the Orion and Highfather design tweaks
* Wonder Woman cover image by Chiang

*****

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Go, Read: Five Days Of Mike Dawson At TCJ.com

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

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 51st Birthday, Gary Chaloner!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Forg!

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Happy 57th Birthday, David Hagen!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 29, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Trailer For The Undertaking Of Lily Chen


Mike Luckovich Speaks


The Art Of Drawing Cartoons
via


Trailer For Bryan Talbot Documentary


Plantu On Cartooning For Peace
via


El Deafo Previewed
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from March 22 to March 28, 2014:

1. A number of comics makers round in on healthcare coverage for the first time in forever or secure discounts; not everyone's happy.

2. The cartoon version of The 99 is banned by a Saudi Arabian policy-making body.

3. Cartoonists join in the protest of the twitter ban in Turkey, cartoonists being a longtime target for censorship and control in that country.

Winner Of The Week
Take your pick.

Losers Of The Week
It's only tangentially related to comics, but the routine use of censorship as a political tool in Turkey is extremely troubling, so anyone responsible for that.

Quote Of The Week
"I am humbled and grateful to have such love and friendship in my time of need. Words can't express how I feel. Thank you." -- Joe Phillips

*****

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

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*****
 
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Go, Look: A Massive Collection Of Dave Trampier's Wormy

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

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

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Marc Silvestri!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Kevin Huizenga!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Val Mayerik!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Dan Wright!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Jack Elrod!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Mort Drucker!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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FFF Results Post #373 -- Spy Game

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Characters That Are Spies." This is how they responded.

*****

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Mike Baehr

1. Bilharzia Ogre
2. Alice Drake
3. Velvet Templeton
4. John Cannon
5. The black spy... no, the white spy... no, the black spy... no, the white spy...

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Modesty Blaise
2. Sharon Carter
3. Jasper Sitwell
4. King Faraday
5. The Black Widow

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. White Spy
2. Black Spy
3. Reed Richards (served in the OSS)
4. Igor Drenkov (from Hulk #1)
5. Heinz Kruger (from Captain America Comics #1)

*****

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Bryan Munn

* Igor Starsky (Hulk origin)
* Black Spy
* White Spy
* Tortuous Convolvulus (Asterix and the Roman Agent)
* Major Domo and Jojo

*****

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Joe Schwind

1. Harvey Birch
2. Milady de Winter
3. Bertha Kircher
4. Mahbub Ali
5. James Bond

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine
2. Mockingbird (Bobbi Morse)
3. Spy vs. Spy
4. Henry Lyme
5. The Middleman

*****

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Max Korn

1. Daniel Craig
2. Sean Connery
3. Timothy Dalton
4. Pierce Brosnan
5. Roger Moore


*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Starr Flagg
2. Tara Chace
3. Mina Harker
4. Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
5. Erica von Kampf

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Secret Agent X-9
2. Nick Fury
3. Spy Smasher
4. Jet Dream And Her Stunt-Girl Counterspies
5. Archie Andrews, The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Christopher Chance
2. Wendy Watson
3. John Targitt
4. Fritz The Cat
5. Kelly Green

*****

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Marty Yohn

1.) The Unknown Soldier (Kubert version)
2.) Sand Saref (The Spirit)
3.) Tara Chace (Queen and Country)
4.) Sleeper
5.) Spy vs. Spy (MAD)

*****

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David Robertson

* Ticker Tait -- The Man with a Time Bomb in his Heart by Neville Wilson -- from Spike, 1983.
* Manix -- The Most Dangerous Man in the World! by Alan Grant / T.B. Grover and Sven Arnstein -- from Eagle, 1982.
* Spy vs Spy by Antonio Prohias -- from Mad, 1961.
* Igor from The Incredible Hulk #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, 1962
* Jimmy in League of Extraordinary Gentleman Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, 2007.

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Captain Mar-vell
2. Those Skrulls who got hypnotized to become cows
3. Terra from Wolfman's Titans
4. Archie (in the MAD #18 parody "Stalag 18")
5. J. Wellington Wimpy (sometimes)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Scarlett Dream
2. Bruno Brazil
3. John Stone
4. Edward Zero
5. Mockingbird

*****

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John Vest

1. Fritz The Cat
2. Secret Squirrel
3. Mar-Vell
4. Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine
5. Lancelot Link

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Manix (80's Eagle)
2. Mach One John Probe
3. The Amazing Maze Dumoir
4. Sgt. Streetwise (80's Eagle)
5. Spy 13

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. Velvet Templeton
2. Casanova Quinn
3. Nick Fury (Sr.)
4. Tara Chace
5. White Spy

*****

suggested by Mike Baehr; thanks, Mike

*****
*****
 
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March 28, 2014


David A. Trampier, RIP

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Your 2014 Doug Wright Award Nominees: Canadian Whites To HOF; 10th-Year Commemorative Book Planned

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The Doug Wright Awards For Canadian Cartooning announced their 2014 Finalists earlier today. They also announced this year's induction into their Hall Of Fame would be creators contributing to the historic "Canadian Whites."

The nominees are:

Best Book
* Palookaville #21, Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Paul Joins the Scouts, Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
* Science Fiction, Joe Ollmann (Conundrum Press)
* Susceptible, Genevièlve Castrée (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Very Casual, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

Doug Wright Spotlight Award/"The Nipper"/(Wider Recognition)
* Connor Willumsen for Calgary: Death Milks a Cow, Treasure Island, Mooncalf, and Passionfruit
* Dakota McFadzean for Other Stories and the Horse You Rode in On (Conundrum Press)
* Patrick Kyle for Distance Mover #7-12, New Comics #1-2
* Steven Gilbert for The Journal of the Main Street Secret Lodge
* Georgia Webber for Dumb #1-3

Pigskin Peters/(Experimental Or Avant-Garde)
* Calgary: Death Milks a Cow, Connor Willumsen
* Flexible Tube with Stink Lines, Seth Scriver
* Journal, Julie Delporte (Koyama Press)
* Out of Skin, Emily Carroll
* Very Casual, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

I want to run the release's explanation of this year's Giants Of The North Hall Of Fame Recipients:
A feature event of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), The Doug Wright Awards are pleased to announce that the pioneering artists of the Second World War "Canadian Whites" comics will be formally inducted into The Giants of the North: The Canadian Cartoonists Hall of Fame during the ceremony on Saturday May 10, 2014 in Toronto.

The Canadian Whites were black-and-white comics produced between 1941 and 1946 that contained a host of original (and iconic) Canadian characters such as Johnny Canuck, Canada Jack and Nelvana of the Northern Lights. These characters were created by the likes of Murray Karn, Adrian Dingle, Gerry Lazare, Leo Bachle and Jack Tremblay. The event will also serve as the official launch of a new collection of the complete Nelvana of the Northern Lights (by Adrian Dingle) being published by CGA Comics.
The awards also announced this year's jury: Lynn Crosbie, Nina Bunjevac, Nick Maandag and Jesse Brown. The nominating committe was Jerry Ciccoritti, Betty Liang, Rachel Richey, Chris Randle and Chester Brown.

To mark its 10th anniversary, the awards program announced it will be crowd-funding a commemorative book that will include interpretation of Doug Wright's "Nipper" by an all-star line-up of Canadian cartoonist and pst winners.

There ceremony will be held at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel starting at 7 PM on May 10, in the midst of TCAF weekend.

Originating PR here: DWA_2014_FINALISTS_RL_032814.pdf
 
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Go, Look: Stanley Pitt Draws Flash Gordon

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Go, Read: CBLDF On Cartoonists Protesting Turkey Twitter Ban

Betsy Gomez at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has her usual smart write-up over at the Fund today, this time on cartoonists protesting against the efforts of Turkey's ruling government to quell the talk of corruption by banning twitter. As has been linked-to and discussed here a billion different times, Turkey has not been a great place to be a cartoonist over the last decade, including the use of the courts by sitting politicians to punish undesirable portrayals. So any shots they can take isn't just good for the issue involved, but good in general, I'd say. One thing that's been lost the last few years as they've seen general economic success is the idea that Turkey would suffer for free speech abuses, which this fiasco reignites.
 
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Go, Look: Mr. Q

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Saudi Arabian General Presidence of Scholarly Research And Fatwa Bans Superhero Cartoon/Comic The 99

An article by Christopher Dickey at The Daily Beast has driven attention to a recent decision by the Saudi Arabian government council General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Fatwa to ban the show from the comics/cartoon/general media creation The 99. You can read news wire-type summaries here and here. You can contrast the reaction of Naif Al-Mutawa here earlier in the week to the one in the Dickey article once more facts were known.

A couple elements of this are fascinating. One is that the objection actually go straight to the heart of the concept in a way I haven't seen conservative christian make objection in a while. One of the core concepts -- probably the core concept -- is that the superheroes are embodiments of the 99 attributes of Allah, and it's to this being embodied in a comic book and cartoon that the panel objects. The Christian equivalent you used to see in the 1970s and 1980s was an objection to depicting Jesus Christ or biblical truth in art in any way, just blanket condemnation, because of concerns of idolatry. It sounds similar to me, anyway. The other is that this kind of deeply conservative take on innocuous element of culture can underscore the difficulties in countries like the US dealing with countries like Saudi Arabia more generally.

I'm not sure what this means for the property, although you have to imagine it's directly harmful to be banned. I do know that there are a lot of countries with a significant Islamic population that should be adding television programming over the next five, ten, twenty years in a way that one would think might benefit this particular property, just not if it's outright banned, or develops a reputation as controversial material. There are of course other dire potential consequences from that kind of hard stance against material and their creators. It's also probably worth noting that this turn of events will feed into a string of entertainment stories about certain kinds of art for those cultures, which would include the new, high-profile Ms. Marvel comic book.
 
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Go, Look: Next Week In NYC

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Five Things I Recommend For Enjoying Emerald Con Weekend

imageEmerald City Comicon is this weekend, and we know from advance ticket sales that it's going to be a hit. They have worked very hard to become one of the two or three mega-regional conventions; in terms of the enjoyment and emphasis placed on the show by mostly mainstream comics talent particularly in that loaded region, the show is as big as any on the calendar. Seattle is one of North America's beautiful and most livable cities, with a thriving economy for a lot of geek-oriented industries. This year's version of Emerald City comes after a dramatically long winter, and while Seattle's 50-Degrees-And-Rain forecast isn't going to scratch the weather itch -- for some reason I suspect New York next weekend will be spectacular -- the many months spent inside and bundled in coats will give extra oomph to this weekend as a social event. Everyone should have fun.

Here are five things I suggest doing to make the weekend even more of a thing.

1. Really Walk The Floor. I think the greatest strength of the Emerald City show is its general exhibit area and the dozens upon dozens of individual cartoonists who display there, many of whom have individual projects to talk about and many of whom are on hand to complete solicited art or are happy to be hired to make some. Because of the traditional lack of gigantic media presences at Emerald City -- that could change any year, I guess -- because of the number of creators in the region for whom it's easy to attend and the number of creators that just enjoy Seattle and like to go, you are likely have a positive experience just checking out row after row of table separate from Image or BOOM! or the retailers on hand. It's the kind of show where someone might do a signing at CBLDF and at their publisher and do a bunch of panels but also have a place to set up with the probably rare and/or original stuff they have to sell. So scan that map, and just walk around. Comics-makers pal together, so if there's someone you like sitting in front of you, that person sitting behind them drawing is someone you probably like just as well -- or swill in a couple of years' time. There is also a significant webcomics presence there, and those comics-makers tend to be really good at doing shows, engaging and fun. As far as people there this year that don't usually come, I believe Jeff Smith is on-hand: a primetime con guest and all-around good guy. I'm not sure I remember the comics writer Scott Snyder being on hand, either. I would imagine that both of them are set up with/as publishers, but you should take advantage of their being around.

2. Maybe Focus On Smaller, Spotlight Programming. The three years I've attended this show I had a much better time sneaking into convention programming where one or two artists were spotlighted as opposed to a character or a bunch of top-of-the-line people. The celebrity and genre-driven programming is its own things and takes even more devotion and care. At any rate, I think it's a really good show to be introduced to creators with which you're just becoming familiar as opposed to maybe checking in with bigger stars, although you should let your desires and appetites drive you. I was supposed to be on a panel with There's also a publishing-focused panel for local alt-kings Fantagraphics as opposed to one with creators, so that could be a different spin on what an entity like that does. I was supposed to be on a panel with a bunch of smart people on Saturday around noon called "What We Mean When We Say 'Comics'" -- which should be fun. Those panels usually turn out pretty lively, in part because of the general buzz of the show.

image3. Visit Randy's Readers. I don't know if this comics seller is there this year, but my group of about a dozen or so comics buddies that go to this show every year have spent every year dropping a ton of cash on what he has to offer. Basically, this vendor specializes in readable copies of classic 20th Century mainstream comics. So while you also have nice condition copies of Fantastic Four #5 behind the table, or whatever, you also have entire runs of Fantastic Four #60-103 there for like $2 each. There are some pretty good comics deals to be had from retailers more generally, but if this booth is on the floor, dig in with your memories of 1960s, 1970s and 1980s mainstream comics and come back satisfied. I was planning on dropping about $200 there this year, and money is tight!

4. Make Your Meals Count -- Seattle is a fun eating town but it's a tricky one to access from the heart of downtown where the convention is settled: there is a lot of galleria-style eating around there that is, if nothing else, super-convenient. It's also a great coffee town. The basic thing I recommend is spending a few minutes on-line figuring out a couple of places to steal away for dinner, or paying attention to what a concierge says, or browbeating a local and getting at least one nice meal out or a half-hour with the locals in one of their coffee houses. Why go with the chain coffee offering when there's the local Victrola Coffee Roasters literally like right up the street? If you're going to spend $20 on some oversalted steak next to Old Navy why not spend a little more on something at the Pink Door or Wild Ginger and make a classy sneak-away of it with a couple of close friends? You really can wander around a bit and find something local; I would go either right up Pike into Capitol Hill (this was my favorite neighborhood restaurant when I lived there) or down towards the waterfront a couple of streets and north (this and this were dependable restaurants back in the day). There are plenty of modest gems around. The 5-Point Cafe is open 24/7 and is little less than a mile away and is the perfect blow-off-steam dependable post-convention place. Seattle rewards this kind of effort. If you don't have a meal-buddy or need to eat on the fly, get up in the morning one of those days and make a short walk around the pretty downtown, maybe down towards the market.

5. Attend The Hero Initiative Party -- Seattle is expensive enough and the convention exhausting enough that one thing the con hasn't had yet is a blossoming infrastructure of strictly comics-focused events. There are some -- there's this tonight, and last night was this impressive thing -- just not a ton, it doesn't seem like, although maybe that's changing. That's not a shot against ECCC; all the cons are kind of like this now. There is a Hero Initiative event tonight at the local Rock Bottom Brewery (poster below). With the current healthcare-realated situation facing that great professional Stan Sakai and his beloved wife Sharon making us all realize how important these charities are, I hope that you'll at least stop by and make a donation and shake a couple of hands on your way to do something else.

Other than that, I'm not sure what else to say. If you have a car, look up and visit the Fantagraphics store if they're open while you're in town. You can sometimes sneak parking in the neighborhoods south and east of the convention center, although the public transportation is pretty all right for a town with Seattle's physical structure. Don't be a jerk and don't tolerate jerks. Be respectful of folks' time and space and exhaustion levels. Have fun. I wish I could be there.

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Go, Look: A Few Darwyn Cooke Mini-Galleries

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Bundled Extra: Joe Phillips Hits Prosthetic Foot Goal

The fundraiser on behalf of the artist Joe Phillips to help him raise $5000 for a prosethetic foot has reached that initial goal. Donations above and beyond will help defray the costs of other things -- such as rehab -- the artist negotiate in the months ahead. Phillips lost his foot due to complications from diabetes.

I'm very happy that the comics community was able to take care of this in the hours before ECCC, and will continue to look back at the fundraiser to see if more money can be raised for the cartoonist's other costs.
 
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Go, Look: Joan Cornella

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Well Crap, Shouldn't Everyone Be Eyeing Comixology?

For some reason, a long-simmering rumor about an eventual buyer for digital comics service comiXology has metastasized into something that people write about on the Internet. I would imagine that any time a company grows in leaps and bounds the way comiXology has over the last two years it's totally in play all the time with multiple suitors. It's sort of like predicting who will run for president amongst five or six of classically vetted politicians with that general profile.

One thing I do know is that Comixology seems devoted to continue building the company and appears poised to unfurl plans as to how they might do so in some key ways during the months ahead. So this wouldn't be one of those sales where something needs to be sold to continue moving forward. This story becomes a billion times more interesting when and if it actually happens. Right now, it's predicting certain which two of six characters on a sitcom end being married.
 
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Go, Look: Affordable Care Act Via Personal Experience Cartoons From Mark Martin And Jen Sorensen

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The Mark Martin here and through the first picture. Mark Martin is a very good cartoonist, and this editorial may be interesting to some because it is opposed to the latest round of federally mandated healthcare changes, which might strike people as novel.

Martin and his family will apparently be with a worse healthcare situation coming out the other side of it. I'm sorry to hear that. That said, I wish the piece had more of why this happened and why this is a locked-in result as opposed to a lot of the context and some of the political shots taken. First, I think it's way more interesting and vitally important to hear those nuts and bolts things right now. Second, flashes of political rhetoric like the "I never believed your snake oil" scene or whatever that was just make Martin sound like an angry, political guy who had certain preconceptions confirmed. Which is fine, but in terms of the cartoon, those moments make it easy for people with the opposite take going in to dismiss anything Martin has to say.

I haven't been following the story all that thoroughly, so it's hard for me to understand why anyone thinks any policy would not have some people for whom that policy is worse. It's not a magic spell, it's massively compromised legislation. I will say, though, Martin is the only person that I know of so far in comics for whom it's turned out to be a negative at this first stage. That I know of, mind. I'm sure there are others. And if there are, I hope we hear them. I'd really be interested if anyone with a predisposition to love this program was similarly disappointed. For the most part, I hear a lot from people in comics that stand to benefit. Primarily, though, I suspect that most people in comics haven't engaged with this stuff at all.

The Jen Sorensen cartoon is here and through the second picture. She had a more positive experience. I did not notice her cartoon until Mitchell Berger was nice enough to point it out (he served as the editor on both).

The Sorensen cartoon makes it clear that this is a personal-experience assignment, which make that aspect of my criticisms of Martin slightly different in that I have to take into account he was likely emphasizing his personal experience and views in part because that was the gig. So my criticisms of rhetorical strategy would shift onto the assignment itself a bit more. There are some strident elements to Sorensen's piece, too, that I think might make some people roll their eyes and stop reading. For instance, a phone call and a request for documentation to figure out a pre-exisiting condition is a pretty mild visit to Room 101, all things considered. I'm also not sure why the really rough roll-out wasn't fair game: that was important policy, it was brought into existence in lousy fashion, and this even fits into a longer-running national dialogue about such policies being grandly conceived and poorly executed.

Sorensen does get choices for admitting that some people are worse off -- although again, I'd be happier at this juncture knowing more about the whys than simply the whos.
 
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Go, Look: Jim Aparo At Charlton Covers Mini-Gallery

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Thomas David Henshaw, 1939-2014

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Thomas David Henshaw, a New Zealand cartoonist celebrated for his cartoons about farming and rural life, died on March 23. He was 74 years old.

Henshaw was born in Kimbolton on the north island. His parents owned a 600 acre farm devoted to raising cattle and sheep. The cartoonist-to-be received an education at Palmerston North Boys' High School, Massey Agricultural College and Lincoln College. It was at the high school his artistic talents were discovered. At the last of those institutions, Henshaw received a diploma for valuation and farm management. This was a much-desired degree because of a national drive for more farmland production in the 1960s.

He is best known for the Jock character, around whom a series of humorous vignettes was built concerning life on a New Zealand farm and in the rural part olf the country more generally. It appeared in New Zealand Farmer for 34 years. It appealed to both current farmers and those -- much like the feature's creator -- who had lived on a farm growing up or had worked on one professional when they go older but had since moved into a less rural area to ply a different trade. It was the Farmer's most popular feature, according to one long-time editor. His cartoons were also popular as summary commentary on agricultural issues, and were frequently requested by politicians working in that area and other prominent policy-makers. He gave those away for free, and donated many of his originals to charity. The strip originally appeared in black and white but later became a color feature when the cartoonist became interested in watercolors.

As David Henshaw, the cartoonist published a number of cartoon books collecting the best of the Jock material, including 1976's Jock and 2007's Jock's Country Life. His illustration work ranged in subject matter from a book how one might better live with epilepsy to grant-seeking to making a greater profit from some aspect of the farming life. His last book may have been 2010's Cowpats And Brickbats: Tales From Waikato, which he co-authored with Graham McBride for David Bateman Ltd. Henshaw also contributed to a significant number of less formal publications directly related to farm life, for a wide variety of advocate and industry groups.

He would live for 20 years in Tamahere, and before that moved according to the requirements of his valuation career.

In 2007, Henshaw won the Guild Of Agricultural Journalists' communicator of the year award. In 2011 he was made an Officer Of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his comics work and its ability to communicate a vital way of life to children and adults. A photo of him accepting that honor is posted here. In later years, he took a specific interest in education, particularly for those with special needs. He was the driving force behind a children's art institution in Otorohanga, and did any number of classroom visits.

Henshaw is survived by four children and ten grandchildren.
 
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OTBP: A 35th Anniversary Edition Of Now You're Logging

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Collective Memory: PIX 2014

imageLinks to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2014 edition of PIX: The Pittsburgh Indy Comix Expo, held January 30 to March 22 at the Federation Of Teachers Building in Pittsburgh.

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

*****

Institutional
* Convention Site
* Festival Location
* Host City

Blog Entries
* AdHouse
* Nix Comics
* Pittsburgh Comics
* Square City Comics
* Theo Ellsworth 01
* Theo Ellsworth 02
* Theo Ellsworth 03
* Theo Ellsworth 04
* Theo Ellsworth 05
* Theo Ellsworth 06
* Tom Williams

Facebook
* Events Page

Miscellaneous
* Bill Boichel Is The Quote Of The Day

News Stories and Columns
* Seven In The City
* TribLive

Photos
* Donald Simpson 01
* Donald Simpson 02
* Donald Simpson 03
* Donald Simpson 04

Twitter
* Dave Wachter 01
* Dave Wachter 02
* Dave Wachter 03
* higu rose
* Mr. Slopiak
* PIX Comics
* rattusRose
* Rina Ayuyang 01
* Talcott Starr

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Who Needs Friends When You've Got Terry Gross?

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Collective Memory: Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson Exhibits Opening Night At Billy Ireland, 2014

imageLinks to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the opening of two exhibits on March 21, 2014 at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library And Museum: a Bill Watterson exhibition curated by Jenny Robb; a Richard Thompson exhibition curated by Caitlin McGurk. They were the new facility's first artist-focused openings.

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

*****

Institutional
* Museum Site
* Notice For Opening
* Host City
* Bill Watterson At Lambiek.net
* Richard Thompson Site

Blog Entries
* Ben Towle
* Billy Ireland Blog 01
* Billy Ireland Blog 02
* Richard Thompson
* Richard Thompson 02
* Robot 6
* Sean Kleefeld

Facebook
* Billy Ireland Facebook Photo 01
* Charles Hatfield
* Chris Sparks
* Facebook Event Page
* Michael Rhode

Miscellaneous
* Calvin And Hobbes On GoComics.com
* Cul De Sac

News Stories and Columns
* Columbus Alive
* Columbus Dispatch
* The Comics Reporter 01
* The Comics Reporter 02
* Washington Post

Photos
* Billy Ireland 01
* Billy Ireland 02
Chris Sparks
* Michael Rhode

Twitter
* Ben Towle 01
* Ben Towle 02
* Billy Ireland 01
* Sean Kleefeld 01
* Sean Kleefeld 02
* Tom Spurgeon

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Julia Vickerman

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* this Magic Pen serial seems to be heading towards something, perhaps sooner than later. Here is a bit of tweeted context for the most recent episode.

* Gary Tyrrell looks at Emerald City Comicon from the viewpoint of the webcomics creators on hand, as well as those companies that serve those comics. They have a really nice presence there, and like all the great convention areas there are fans that are flipping out because they can't believe they get to directly interact with this work they love and there are people that are in no way connected to what these folks do and enjoy discovering them at a show like this one.

* Ursula Vernon is one of the latest creators to use the sponsorship site Patreon. Speaking of which, it looks like the Meredith Gran one has settled in at the $1350-$1400 per month level, which is a remarkable thing if you think about it although nothing that's going to send people to write feature stories for the hometown newspaper. I thought Gran's profile was one that might be instructive for a lot of comics-makers considering one of these.
 
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If I Were In London, 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: Dustin Harbin Draws Figures

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is your semi-frequent reminder to vote for this year's Eisner Hall Of Fame class, if you're eligible.

image* someone from a French-language magazine interviews Darryl Cunningham. Sherif Elkhatib talks to Kelly Sue DeConnick. Dan Wickline talks to Mark Waid. Bryan Schott talks to Pat Bagley. Joseph Philip Illidge talks to Jamie Broadnax.

* there's a nice classic blogging-style round-up of links at The Beat pertaining to an Omaha comics shop -- one of the initial wave of comics shops -- opening after a brief vacation forced upon the retailer by fire. Congratulations to them on getting back up and running so quickly. I hope that we have retailers that devoted for the next 50 years.

* the first volume of March makes a pair of universities' required freshman reading lists.

* Paul Constant writes about a bunch of different Fantagraphics works in trying to suss out potential futures for the venerable, alt-comics institution. I think they've had their best year in a few so far in 2014, and look forward to some of their projects (the Eleanor Davis, the collected Witzend) as much as any coming out from any publisher the rest of 2014.

* speaking of Fantagraphics, some people were upset by this tweet. Unless Gary has suddenly started speaking like Yosemite Sam, it's clearly joke, and while it's not the best joke, to gripe about it on-line as if some line is crossed the way that people occasionally seize on troubling instances of racism and sexism seems like an expression of entitlement culture to me. No one has to make sure their jokes don't somehow cause ripples on the waters of your self-conception. Whipping people up into frothy resentment over something like that seems like a ridiculous waste of time, and my life is basically devoted to wasting time. I responded here.

* finally, Sonia Harris picks 10 weird autobiographical comics. (They're not really weird as much as they're good.)
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Tom Scioli!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 27, 2014


Go, Read: Humanoids Announces Major Digital Initiative

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I'll take a closer look and round-up some links in tomorrow's digital comics column
 
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Go, Look: David Lasky's Comics4HealthCare Comic

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By Request Extra: Joe Phillips Needs A Prosthetic Foot

Right here. I hope you'll consider joining me. I can't speak to the necessity of every crowd-funder I see, but a foot I understand.
 
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Go, Look: Mac Raboy At Fawcett

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2014 Bill Finger Award: Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo, Jack Mendelsohn

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The Bill Finger Award For Excellence In Comic Book Writing will go to Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo and Jack Mendelsohn this year. The award was founded as a way to honor a living and a deceased comics writer for their contributions to comics that may not be as appreciated as it should be. This is the first year where two living cartoonists -- Mantlo and Mendelsohn -- will be honored.

Mark Evanier said in the PR (link below) that the committee had been unable to decide between the two living writers and voted unanimously to honor both.

The committee is chaired by writer and pop-culture historian Evanier and consists of Charlie Kochman, Kurt Busiek, Jim Amash, Scott Shaw! and Marv Wolfman.

You can read full bios of the three cartoonists through the links above. Kanigher is best known for his diverse work for DC Comics during that company's fruital "Silver Age" period, including scripts for a number of the war comics he edited as well as co-creating such characters as The Metal Men and The Sea Devils. Bill Mantlo was a prolific writer for Marvel in the 1970s and 1980s whose best-remembered titles include Ka-Zar The Savage, The Micronauts and Rom: Spaceknight. His co-creations include Rocket Raccoon. He still suffers the effects of a 1992 rollerblading accident. Mendelsohn wrote for comics as early as the 1940s and went on to credits for EC, Archie, and Dell, among others. He may be best known for his clever newspaper comic strip, Jacky's Diary. He's also written for television.

Evanier and Bill Finger's granddaughter Athena Finger will present the awards during the Eisner Awards ceremony the Friday night of Comic-Con International.

(PR: FingerRelease.txt)
 
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Go, Look: Theo Ellsworth's Inspirations And Influences Tumblr

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Not Comics: That Recent NYT Bookstore Piece As Trollery

There are a few notions in this article passed along by that nice man Leon Avelino taht I hadn't considered, concerning this article I linked to in the NYT about bookstores in NYC making rent. The first is that by stating its thesis in terms of the survival of stores, they're doing a disservice to bookstores generally by making them all sound like they're dying. The second is that phrasing the question that way is part of an attempt by the publisher to drive up traffic by introducing a second argument ("are bookstores dying?") into the equation underneat the actual issues involved with the rent. The third is that such effort to help aren't really helpful.

It's a fun read, and a different way of looking at the piece. I think if you look at articles like that as samples rhetoric, they are intending to troll and they aren't really going to be helpful except to perhaps create a space or a concept that will allow the actual people involved to make a move with greater ease or wider support if they have to. I mean, I think everyone knows that NYT articles are general primers not specific tools for change, right? The idea that the conversation being a negative one has its own effect is a fascinating one, though, and one I'll consider.
 
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Go, Look: Jonathan Case

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OTBP: #Foodporn

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OTBP: Negative Pleasure Publications

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* all eyes on Seattle, and with that show we are officially in the 2014 convention by every measure except maybe a hardcore arts nerds one and probably by that one, too. That's a really good show, and it's a good show for comics, with a particularly strong "Artist's Alley" type presence of bunches and bunches of individual artists and self-publishers hoping to sell you work on a one-to-one basis.

* Seattle, of course, is a great comics city and a great city generally. I hope if you're going you'll take the time to wander a bit further away from the immediate area and have a nice meal or two somewhere -- Seattle does pretty well in terms of the variety of its food experiences at various levels of price. I also always recommend the Fantagraphics store over in Georgetown if you have access to wheels. I hope to write something a bit more formal to sit on the site tomorrow. Be safe, have fun.

* as harassment issues have become an issue this year, I'm going to try and remember to post links to various shows' anti-harassment policies the week before. Here's ECCC's. I'm not the person best suited to figure out what makes a good one of those, but I like the mix of serious intent and declaration that a wide variety of consequences may come into play.

* next weekend is MoCCA and Fumetto. I've written almost nothing about Fumetto this year, but it looks as solid and intriguing as usual. Nobrow will be one of the featured elements there.

* Brian Cremins went to the Chicago 'Zine Fest and would like you to know about it.

* finally, FLUKE would like you to know who's going to be there this year. That is an ideal smaller-city arts-oriented comics show.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Summer Of Blake Sinclair

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Julia Wertz folds some comics into one of her urban exploration posts; I think that's the first time she's done that. If it's not the first time, it's rare enough to be noticeable.

image* I know almost nothing about the cartoonist Nathan Fox and the Scholastic Editor Sheila Keenan except that Fox is an interesting artist and Keenan is a key player at Scholastic. They made a comic together, and my pal Gil Roth interviewed them when I was busy being super, super, super sick.

* not comics: comics people seem to be enjoying the forthcoming Captain America movie. It looks fun.

* some nice person with the Toucan blog talks to Cliff Chiang. Leo Johnson talks to Nathan Edmondson and Alison Sampson. David Betancourt talks to Mike Mignola.

* Astrid Lindgren is going to be the face of the 20-krona Swedish banknote.

* not sure how this Brahm Revel interview got into my bookmarks, but there you go.

* not comics: David Lasky has a print for sale featuring Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.

* Jared Gardner on a bunch of different comics. Meagan Damore on Daredevil #1. Tyler Coates on the comics of Joan Cornella.

* I totally missed this post about some fun-looking Hellboy-related comics.

* finally, here's a nice, lengthy report about Professor William H. Foster III's recent presentation at the New York Comics Symposium on the subject of black underground cartoonists.
 
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Happy 87th Birthday, Hy Eisman!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Ivan Brandon!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Mike Friedrich!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 26, 2014


Second Comic Arts Brooklyn (CAB) Announces For November 8

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Gabe Fowler has announced dates for his Comic Arts Brooklyn show. The second iteration of the event, rising from the ashes of the Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival in 2013 to significant success, will be held November 8. You can apply to exhibit in one of the best exhibition-per-square foot spaces in comics until June 1 through here.

Benjamin Marra, a fixture of the Brooklyn alt-/arts comics show scene, supplied the above illustration. Fowler passed it along.
 
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Go, Look: Bill Crook

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Bundled Extra: Recoil Announces Patrick Dean Fall Release

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This is interesting enough I wanted to make note of it before next week's "Bundled," which is a full six days away. Rich Tommaso will be publishing Patrick Dean's Cold Crew, as part of what looks like a more general effort to produce work. I'm always intrigued by publishers moving from self-publishing their own work to doing that of others, and what works they choose to be first out of the gate that way. I've also noted that Patrick Dean seems to be a real favorite of his peers, people like Tommaso, in that I've received more unsolicited "hey, go look at what he's doing" about Dean than anyone else since last Labor Day. The new book will be out in the Fall and previewed at Heroes Con.
 
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Go, Look: Lauri Makimurto

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Not Comics: Rents Driving Bookstores From Manhattan

I thought this was a pretty good article on the latest round of people apoplectic about the skyrocketing rents in New York City as we move into a more highly-stratified society where prime living and working space goes to more and more efforts whose greatest distinguishing aspect is their bottom-line financial wherewithal. There are some numbers given, too.

I'm usually on the skeptical side of those that read articles like this one, both in terms of the baseline economics and the general "New York is changing in a way that I find distressing and dismaying" tone that is now working on its 138th straight year of employment in articles about the city. I do have some sympathy for this one because I think the idea of for-profit ventures -- or non-profits/barely-profits that work under that system -- as repositories of cultures is a deeply fascinating subject. It's also one that takes place on a billion different levels, from a great old business moving to another borough to the culture -- and yes that term applies -- to variou red-state malls losing their Borders. I think what interests me most is how malleable the culture is in terms of changing the definition of what is valuable about a place, the way we can say various midwestern towns are "back" when what was in many cases a regional or local department store that anchored the city is now a bunch of bars and maybe like a junior college.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Skew

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Go, Look: Sergio Zuniga

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Go, Look: Tarzan #21

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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.

*****

DEC130480 POPEYE CLASSICS NEWSPAPER COMICS HC VOL 01 1986-1989 $39.99
NOV130336 BATMAN SILVER AGE NEWSPAPER COMICS HC VOL 01 1966-1967 $49.99
DEC130476 COMPLETE CHESTER GOULD DICK TRACY HC VOL 16 $39.99
This is a fun week, with a lot of buying strategies that could push back a lot of purchases for 7, 14, 21 days. One such strategy could be to pick up the latest from a big week for the Library Of American Comics. The Popeye is probably the most interesting book here, as Bobby London's work with the EC Segar milieu is relatively little-read yet also much-anticipated and still sort of a strange choice for the Library because it came out in the 1980s. Don't question it, thought; just enjoy. I know I'll own one sooner rather than later.

imageJAN140546 JANS ATOMIC HEART AND OTHER STORIES TP (MR) $14.99
This is the work that first made a lot of us notice Simon Roy, who has gone on to be one of the talented contributors on the Prophet comic book series as currently re-imagined. No matter how you get there, though, comics from a visual talent worth knowing are still rare to the point that every such of effort is wroth noting. I sort of adore that cover.

DEC131433 1001 COMICS YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE HC SALE PRICE PI
JAN141319 ANYAS GHOST GN $9.99
These are two of the more prominent previously-released books that will show up in shops this week. The first is Paul Gravett's assembled book of comics recommendation from around the world featuring an all-star line-up of writers about comics whose ranks I couldn't crack, the second is one of the more successful First Second book of recent vintage -- and one of the more attractive as well.

JAN140129 1 FOR $1 BPRD HELL ON EARTH $1.00
It seems like there are a lot of classically formated serial action-adventure (and related genres) comic book works out this week; there are enough I'll break up the usual giant paragraph into a handful of them. This first is a Mignola-verse title offered through one of those discounted sampler programs. If you became interested in what's going on with those books because of last weekend's 20th anniversary celebration, that might be a fine throw-in.

JAN140436 STAR SLAMMERS REMASTERED #1 $3.99
JAN140169 ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #2 $3.50
JAN140202 KING CONAN CONQUEROR #2 $3.50
Here are three older-properties from a lot of creators definitely in the autumn of their comics careers. Walt Simonson is one of those cartoonists whose influence and popularity outstrips the regularity with which his work is re-presented to audiences. Star Slammers was a property that debuted during the mainstream's initial "graphic novel" phases, which resulted in a lot of BD album-sized paperbacks. I wasn't aware that the final cycle of Elfquest started, and I hope that those nice folks the Pinis wrap up that series with style in a way that pleases their fans. I enjoyed the first issue of this latest go-round with "King" Conan more than I thought I would -- I like palace intrigue and campaign-style stories more than I like the age of a character being used to make him a bit less overpowering. I wonder if we're going to see a trend towards older heroes as creators get older at the same time as Hollywood actors that might play those heroes also age.

DEC130334 SANDMAN OVERTURE #2 COMBO PACK (MR) $4.99
DEC130330 SANDMAN OVERTURE #2 CVR A (MR) $3.99
DEC130331 SANDMAN OVERTURE #2 CVR B (MR) $3.99
JAN140387 WAKE #7 (MR) $2.99
Two important books from Vertigo: the very gorgeous new Sandman series would seem a lock to do extremely well, but every bit of juice and energy they can squeeze out of this very pretty comic book series is something that's going to help their bottom line for years to come. The Wake comic is the underwater-element science fiction work from Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy. Vertigo needs for any of its project with big-time creators to work given the competition they're likely feeling for such projects from the mid-majors and from Image.

NOV130502 FATALE #21 (MR) $3.50
JAN140613 SATELLITE SAM #7 (MR) $3.50
JAN140615 SEX #12 (MR) $2.99
JAN148237 SEX CRIMINALS #1 6TH PTG (MR) $3.50
JAN140624 WALKING DEAD #124 (MR) $2.99
Speaking of Image, this is their list of comics this week that jumped out at me. It's nice to see Brubaker and Phillips round into a final cycle on their Sleeper, and the projected length of the series from this vantage point feels about right. As far as feelings go, my hunch is that Satellite Sam should be locked into place right now, or at least we should be able the best comic it can be from where we stand right now. Sex is Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski's book, which I think most people are processing as an extended meditation on mainstream superhero comics from the 1980s. That printing of Sex Criminals is apparently its last in comic book form. That's quite something. Walking Dead is quite near the end of its "All Out War" storyline, after which I believe that the title will become Walking Dead: Detroit, but don't quote me on that.

JAN140771 HAWKEYE #18 $2.99
JAN140650 SILVER SURFER #1 ANMN $3.99
This is Marvel's current poster boy for providing minor characters with an idiosncratic pair of creators and see if it catches with an audience looking for slightly offbeat material. The second is the latest new launch in a period that seems to feature a lot of comics following that formula, at least potentially -- the Allreds are involved art wise, so I'll always take a look.

JAN141028 ADVENTURE TIME #10 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
JAN141029 ADVENTURE TIME #11 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
JAN141030 ADVENTURE TIME #12 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
JAN141024 ADVENTURE TIME #7 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
JAN141025 ADVENTURE TIME #8 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
JAN141026 ADVENTURE TIME #9 NEW PTG CONNECTING CVRS $3.99
DEC131003 REGULAR SHOW #11 MAIN CVRS $3.99
I have to admit, I would probably look pretty closely at a series of connecting covers just for the novelty of it. I'm sure many smart people believe this kind of thing is killing comics, though. I also at some point have to catch up with the Regular Show comics, and unless I went Full IDW would consider doing so this week.

JAN140554 PAUL POPE MONSTERS & TITANS BATTLING BOY ART ON TOUR SC $24.99
This is an exhibition catalog and art book in support of Paul Pope's art from Battling Boy. It feels more like the former than the latter, but it's always fun to look at Pope's work, whether on the wall or in bookform on one's lap.

JAN141516 HOW ABOUT NEVER IS GOOD FOR YOU HC $32.50
Oh, so that's why we're getting Bob Mankoff on TV -- there's a new book out of his work and the process of selecting work for that foundational home of North American cartooning, The New Yorker. Yeah, I want this, and I know nothing about it.

JAN141196 GLORKIAN WARRIOR DELIVERS A PIZZA GN $12.99
JAN141197 GLORKIAN WARRIOR DELIVERS A PIZZA HC $17.99
JAN141199 UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN GN $29.99
Finally, First Second gets to show off its range a bit with the latest James Kochalka -- you can tell it's for kids without looking because of the hc/sc simultaneous release -- and the latest work from Danica Novgorodoff. I imagine a number of people will like the Novgorodoff, at least enough to make a for bunch of interviews and glowing reviews to go along with this release. I'm always wary of PR that tells me a book is good rather than tells me the good in the book -- I'm an asshole, that's why -- but I do look forward to reading it.

*****

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 Portland, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Alex Toth Real McCoys Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is your semi-frequent reminder to vote for this year's Eisner Hall Of Fame class, if you're eligible.

image* Joseph Remnant reviews the film Rocky.

* I hadn't seen this months-old Dan Murphy goodbye video in a while, but it still made me laugh.

* Rich Barrett would like to equip you with everything you need to understand the X-Men comics now. I'm still a little confused.

* I want to say I've already linked to the Deconstructing Comics podcast interviews with Dan Jurgens and Zander Cannon, but maybe I haven't.

* not comics: I don't follow news on every single film with a comics tie-in that comes out, so it was handy to read this article about non-sequel, non-remake, fantastic-genre efforts, which included a bunch of comics-related films in development about which I knew nothing. If you're like me, maybe it will be useful in the same way.

* James Bacon reports from the Bryan Talbot exhibition in London. Sarah McIntyre reports from a book fair in Bologna.

* Seattle resident Rob Salkowtiz breaks down the Emerald City Comic Con as a series of ideas and trends to process. I don't necessarily agree with the assertion that it's a show that does really well with the arts-comics contingent of the small press -- I don't think Fantagraphics would consider exhibiting if it weren't their home town show, and big chunks of that community skip the show altogether -- although there's definitely a presence there because of the show's admirable big-tent qualities and emphasis on individual creators.

* the wonderful wardrobe of Alan Moore.

* finally, David Mack draws David Bowie.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Mark Verheiden!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Greg McElhatton!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Mitch O'Connell!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Brian Bolland!

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Happy 61st Birthday, David Boswell!


 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Bill Kartalopoulos!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 25, 2014


OTBP: Ascension Horizontal

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Festivals Extra: MoCCA Announces Ambitious Programming Slate From Bill Kartalopoulos

The MoCCA Festival has announced its programming here and here. I won't get into it because I'm constrained for time, but it's a first-class sounding suite of panels and events. I thought the programming was well-executed last year -- I enjoyed the panels I saw. This year looks even better.

I also wanted to mention it because I think for some of the bigger events there is a free-ticketing process, through the web site.

MoCCA should have some of the best programming because 1) New York City, 2) the skill of director Bill Kartalopoulos who is really good at putting together programming slates. I wish I could be there.
 
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Go, Look: As Much Of Jack Kirby's The Prisoner As I've Seen

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Assembled Extra: Bring Fan-Fiction Writers Into The Mainstream Comics Fold

imageI tend be strongly interested in writers as writers and creative people as creative people, so it's hard for me to get fired up about a distinction like "fan-fiction" as it's applied in this article by Esther Inglis-Arkell over at ComicsAlliance. I would assume opinions differ on that, though, and I enjoyed the article.

As much as I usually roll my eyes at backseat driving giant corporations, I've long thought DC Comics is missing out not doing something ambitious and crowd-sourced with its Legions Of Super-Heroes title. That's a self-contained world, has a fine pedigree of intense fan interest and would seem future-looking in a way that inviting as many people as possible to do comics featuring those characters might seem appropriate, even. It seems like there are enough characters there that just about any style could be utilized, and from DC's end, they haven't really solved how to do that title in a way that isn't backwards-looking to the 1970s and 1980s material -- again, I assume others would disagree, and some of those attempts have been admirable. The point is I can't imagine opening the Legion up like that would do any harm.
 
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Go, Read: Double +

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Go, Look: Kingdom/Order Part Two

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Go, Look: The Black Terror

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Conundrum Press has posted an announcement of what looks like an extremely solid Fall 2014. In order posted, the works that will arrive by Christmas are One Year in America, Elisabeth Belliveau; Loiterers, Simon Bossé; Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People: An Ollmann Omnibus, Joe Ollmann; Milo & Sam, Joe Ollmann and Andy Brown; The Train, Chihoi, adapted from a short story by Hung Hung. The Chihoi adaptation has already been published in a couple of markets, apparently, and is good news for fans of The Library. You can read full descriptions over there, and should rather than reading me parrot them.

image* a few of you have written me about this subscription plan for a Derek Van Gieson mini-series. That would seem like a pretty good bet to me.

* looks like they'll be bundling the Hip Hop Family Tree series for maximum giftage. That first book is up to a third printing now.

* we should get more Copra next month, and I couldn't be happier.

* Patrick Dean lets us know that Cold Crew is finished.

* Chris Burnham is doing some new art for an absolute edition of the Batman Incorporated material. That should be a lovely book. It sounds like a specific kind of page is being re-done.

* looks like Oh My Goddess! is wrapping things up.

* I like a lot of the individual collections that Marvel does when I see them. A friend of mine has a bunch in his library. They do a really good job with extensive chunks of material. The Masterworks program isn't a program I tend to enjoy as much as some of the others, but I know some kids that love them, and I'm happy to see some thought given to how the classic material is presented even if getting that into readers' hands isn't a major priority for the company.

* not comics: I wasn't aware that Jeet Heer had an essay collection out soon. He's been quite well-published recently. Nice cover.

* finally, this fine John Kerscbaum image will cover a Birdcage Bottom book called Cringe, out for SPX.

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

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Go, Look: The Screaming Skull

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Bruton on Welcome To Sunshine Bay...

* Joel Meadows remember Bill Baker.

* a half-dozen people sent me a link to this photo of a discount box devoted to Before Watchmen books. I know there are shops that series did very well. I used to depend on this one shop that always over-ordered mainstream material so I could buy all the recent superhero stuff for $1 or less apiece. Now I just wait for comiXology sales.

* look at the larva-stage comics industry people.

* finally, Simon Gane adds wash to a Gil Jourdan drawing. I like all the nouns and names in that sentence.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Anthony Woodward!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Rob Clough!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 24, 2014


Go, Look: The Art Of Muggy Ebes

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Depending On How You Count It, Lat Is Celebrating 40 Or 50 Years Making Comics

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This profile of the great cartoonist Lat on either his 40th or 50th anniversary of making cartoons and comics (it depends on how you measure it) is short and to the point, but it has a couple of things I've never seen before.One is a 1974 cartoon that marks his professional publishing debut. Another is that he wanted to retire and the date given is so specific it must have been super-serious. I have no idea what was going on then that would have made Lat want to retire or kept him from doing so; if someone has a guess or additional knowledge, please drop me a note.

Yet another thing is to simply consider that 10 year gap from making cartoons to selling them; I think everyone wants to publish their career-defining opus two years in, but comics is hard and there are few shortcuts and the best work is frequently created by people that are years and years and years into their career.

CW Kee recalls meeting Lat as a teen.
 
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Go, Look: Ronald Searle In Italy

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This Makes Me Happy: Caitlin McGurk And Richard Thompson At The Billy Ireland Opening Friday

Caitlin McGurk sent along a few snapshots of herself and the cartoonist Richard Thompson getting to check out the show she curated of his work that opened with Jenny Robb's Bill Watterson exhibit last Friday at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

It's so great that Richard got to attend, and I think it's fantastic that they've done an exhibit of his work. A lot of Thompson's work in caricature, illustration and cartooning took place a bit off the beaten path. There's a lot left to be seen and admired. This should serve as a great start. The complete Cul De Sac collection comes out this year, and it's hard to imagine a lot of other 2014 books that will be more important to have and almost impossible to conceive of any that will be more fun to read.

The Watterson and Thompson shows run through the summer, and will be joined in May by the traveling Dan Clowes Modern Cartoonist exhibit, which will hold court about 75 yards away at the Wexner Center. I hope everyone will make some sort of attempt to get to Columbus that can, perhaps as part of SPACE weekend or on the way to HeroesCon or driving back from CAKE.

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I'm grateful that Richard had such a good time. What a good man, and what a fine cartoonist.
 
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Go, Read: Tyranny Of The Muse Part Two

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Go, Look: James Stokoe Cover Roughs Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: Sal Buscema Marvel Team-Up Splash Pages

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* a lot of the artists involved with Seth Kushner's Schmuck project have been beating the drums on its behalf.

* Matthew Southworth suggested taking a look at this project, a genre work that involves a deaf protagonist from Cleveland cartoonist Frank Cvetkovic.

* I always like to note the convention crowd-funders when I stumple upon them. The idea that these are community events interests me. I also appreciate that these are events that can offer a bunch of different inducements in terms of access and items in order to cajole people in forking over money ahead of time. I'm not sure that's always healthy, but I'm fure it facilitates some events that wouldn't happen otherwise.

* my connectivity seems limited this morning and no one working at the hotel where I'm saying knows where anything is in the neighborhood so I can't decamp to a public connection -- sorry in advance for anyone I miss and for the herky-jerky nature of this post as I slip in and out of on-line consciousness like I'm sitting in the back row at MoCCA Festival's first hour of Sunday programming.

* the Inkstuds crowd-funder moves into its final hours if you want to get on that sweet, sweet inducement action. If Brandon Graham isn't taking anything for his trouble, I bet this crowd-funder all by itself would push McConnell into the top ten of people that cover comics. Just a guess, though.

* I've been following the Table Titans crowd-funder to see how they play the stretch goals.

* Scott Thompson could use your help with Husk, Vol. 2.

* finally, this one looks interesting, and will be funded, although I have to admit what drew my attention was raising $3K for something described in mini-comics terms.
 
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Go, Look: Modern Marvel Comics Nine Realms Map

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Go, Look: Primetime Jack Davis Mad Magazine Illustration

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is your semi-frequent reminder to vote for this year's Eisner Hall Of Fame class, if you're eligible.

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on It's Only A Game and The Double Life Of Miranda Turner #3. Richard Bruton on The Bojeffries Saga. Zainab Akhtar on a bunch of different comics.

* I would imagine that the Homestuck creator does very well at comics shows in terms of attention.

* Patti Smith profiles Bruce Worden. Steve Morris talks to Jules Rivera. Milton Griepp talks to Jon Goldwater. Suzette Smith talks to Ezra Butt.

* Frank Santoro visited the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in the course of a professional trip involving a pair of lectures last week before the place got all Watterson/Thompson crazy. He writes about what he experienced, saw and studied here. It's fun to read Santoro communicate the joy of getting his hands on that older material.

* not sure that I ever passed this nice summation of what happened to a banned Ultraman comic: there was a problematic reference to Allah.

* Brandon Graham suggests a future project for some enterprising publisher out there.

* someone sent me a link to this image, which is evocative. I'm not sure what I'm to do with it other than re-link it here.

* finally, Jillian Steinhauer takes one last look at the Art Spiegelman exhibit at the Jewish Museum.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Gabrielle Bell!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 23, 2014


CR Sunday Interview: Mimi Pond

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*****

Over Easy represents a new direction in the professional life of cartoonist and writer Mimi Pond. A memoir of her time just out of art school and before formally embarking on a career that would involve television, humor prose writing, and a slew of high-profile magazine comics gigs, Pond's book establishes the parameters of her young life and details in full the scene surrounding the Oakland diner in which she finds work. Over Easy is workplace comedy, coming-of-age, a meditation on art and class and a snapshot of the time when the torpor of the 1970s begin to show signs of moving in a different, angrier direction. Nearly all of us have had a period of life like this, spent time in a place like this, have known people the way Pond describes them.

I am grateful Pond took the time to speak to me on a Friday morning on the phone from York, Pennsylvania. She is currently working on a second volume. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Here's a question I've never asked during an interview. How long are you in York?

MIMI POND: We've been here for two weeks, and we're here for another two weeks, until the installation [by Pond's husband Wayne White] opens. It's the kind of thing I welcome because it's so much easier for me to get work done when I'm away from home than when I'm actually at home. There are none of the interruptions of everyday life.

SPURGEON: What were the practicalities of getting the work done on Over Easy? Where did most of that work get done?

POND: Away from home. I had conceived of this book initially as a conventional, fictionalized memoir. Not a graphic novel. I started working on it when my kids were still in pre-school. I really needed to get out of the house at that point, too. The only place I was able to find workspace was an unused office at their pre-school. [laughter]

It was great, because I could just shut the door and be in this little room. I couldn't really leave. I was afraid they might see me. [laughs] It forced me to do nothing but work, which was genius.

So I wrote it and then my agent couldn't sell it. He couldn't sell it to save his life. I was forced to admit to myself that it really did want to be a graphic novel, since I am a cartoonist. That is what I do. It was such massive amount of work that it was inconceivable. I finally talked to Art Spiegelman, who's an old friend, about it. He said, "You should just do it." And I thought, "Well, if Art Spiegelman is telling me I just have to do it, I just have to do it."

SPURGEON: What was it that was daunting, Mimi? The sheer size of it? That you hadn't engaged with material like that in your cartoons before?

POND: I had never done anything that long-form before. It's 270 pages. It was like 130 pages of manuscript, but then every sentence wanted to be a page. [laughs] I was fighting with it constantly, going, "No, you don't get to be a page! You get to be a panel if you're lucky!" [laughter]

It was a matter of condensing. It was interesting going from a manuscript to a visual work because there's a lot of description that becomes show don't tell. And then there's stuff that kind of gets tossed out along the way because there's just not enough time. It would be too long to do every single detail in the way I had conceived of it as a manuscript.

SPURGEON: Do you find that the tone of the work is the same, now that you have the completed work to compare to the manuscript?

POND: Yeah. Yeah, it's very faitfhful. It's just that there were a couple of incidental episodes and characters that had to get tossed out along the way that really weren't that essential. It was a good exercise in editing, too.

SPURGEON: How much more is there?

POND: The second volume will be at least as long as the first.

SPURGEON: I'm always fascinated when someone takes this long to complete a single project. Does the voice change simply for the fact that you've worked on Over Easy for as long as you have? Does your perspective change over that period of time? Do you see those youthful experiences differently now than you did 15 years ago?

POND: All I can say is that I'm glad I wrote it all down back then, because I never would have remembered that stuff now. It was good that I got it down on paper. When I went to work in this restaurant in 1978 I knew there was a story. I absolutely knew that this was a story, and I had to figure out what it was and how to tell it. Over the years, it was always in the back of my mind. I would think, "I have got to get on that project. It's gotta happen. I can't let my life go by without doing it. It's just too important." Eventually, I figured out what the story was, and was able to start on it in fits and starts when my children were very small.

I think I started writing the manuscript around 1998 and then in the early 2000s my agent had it out and couldn't sell it and it was just sort of painful. He came back to me and said, "There was one editor who asked, 'Has she thought of doing this as a graphic novel?'" And I got furious, I thought, "If I wanted to do it as a graphic novel, I'd do it as a graphic novel! It's an insult!" [laughter] Clearly a nerve had been touched.

To answer your question, I think my perception of my youthful self has deepened then even more. Especially now that my kids are in art school. Actually, my son worked as a dishwasher in the same restaurant.

SPURGEON: Wow.

POND: It's still there. Actually, I'll be doing a book event there on April 17. It's Mama's Royal Cafe in Oakland. Some of the people I worked with back then are still working there. And it's the same owner. So yeah.

I think my perception of my youthful self has definitely deepened, even more than when I first started writing it. I was just fucking stupid. [laughter]

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SPURGEON: I'm curious with this book in particular how the focus is so solidly on you to begin with -- this traditional memoir telling of your story growing up and whatnot -- but almost by the end of at least this volume those elements are downplayed. It seems like you are slightly less the focus of the book as you move through Over Easy as you become part of this community of people. That last chapter seems almost about your integration within the scene more than your issues and the general progression of your life the way it is when we follow you from San Diego to the Bay Area. I don't know if you'd agree with that or not.

POND: It comes back to me in the second part. It's more about me and the Lazlo character in the second part. That's all I can say there.

The other thing that's sort of maddening to me talking to you about it now is that no one has seen it. No one! Drawn and Quarterly made me do tone separations, tones separate from the line, which has just been a really challenging experience. It's hard to show it to people and go, "Here's the tone part and then there's the line stuff underneath." You can't put that in front of most people and expect to get feedback about it. So aside from showing it to my immediate family and Drawn and Quarterly I don't have any feedback on it, I don't have anyone telling me what they think of it. So I'm breathlessly awaiting the world's response to it. After 15 years.

SPURGEON: Is it just curiosity or is there a specific response you're hoping for? Is there a potential disappointment, in that you think people might not get what it is you're trying to do?

POND: Oh, yeah. All of those fears cross your mind. Is this just me? Am I crazy? Is this going to resonate with people? You don't know.

SPURGEON: Do you have an audience in mind? Do you think it will have special meaning to other artists? There's a generational aspect to this book, too.

POND: Yeah, I think women 40 to 60 or so will be the target audience. I'm hoping that it will resonate with young women. I'm not sure if it will.

One of the things I hope to get across in terms of the tenor of the times... I've been using this phrase is that it was like navigating a moral swamp, the 1970s. There were so many gray areas back then. We'd gone from right and wrong, Vietnam = bad, peace = good, Nixon = bad, Watergate = bad, and then you had like Patty Hearst gets kidnapped and liberal white people supporting the SLA, which was completely fucked up because it was just this insane mob of nut jobs who kept this poor young women in a closet for 30 days and gangraped her and then dragged her ass from one end of the country to another. [laughs] You had Jonestown. Jonestown was based in San Francisco, and I was in the Bay Area. It had a local aspect to it that was really freaky.

There was I'm OK, You're OK transactional therapy bullshit going on. [laughter] There was EST. There was all this... morass of gray areas. It wasn't "Just Say No," everyone was saying yes to everything. "Yes! Bring it all on! Coke's fun! Let's get high!" And it was the same with sex. It was like your civic duty to go out and get laid as much as possible, as much as you could. It was the sexual revolution, and it wasn't like people were slut-shaming you. It was like it was your job to go out and enjoy your body. You weren't being analyzed that you had a deep, psychological need to punish yourself because you were filled with self-loathing because you had sex with a lot of different people. [laughs] It was like the thing to do. If you were bored, you could do that. [laughter] There was nothing else to do!

imageSPURGEON: Is it too stupid or straight-forward to ask you what you would have people think about that time period? Is it just the existence of this mish-mash of gray areas? One thing I got out of Over Easy in terms of a potential cultural critique was less about what was going on but the timing of the cultural moment. It was a transitional period but also unmoored; it was directionless in a lot of ways. Which certainly jibes with my memories of observing teens and young adults as one of those little kids in the corner of the room always curious what the older people were doing. I think you caught that aspect of it. Do you have opinions as to what was going on beyond the feel of those times, anything you'd want people to know?

POND: [pause] I think we'd just become so untethered from morality and authority because of Watergate. And Vietnam. Everything we knew was wrong. Everything our parents thought about authority and confidence in government, that was all out the window. You couldn't trust anyone anymore. So you might as well have fun. Politically, the war was over. No one had really much faith in our leaders. Jimmy Carter was in, and he was just sort of... you know... [Spurgeon laughs] I think he was a better president than he's given credit for but he was very undramatic. We were in a holding pattern until something else happened. And that was Reagan, and that was horrible. [laughter]

You look at the Democratic Party at the time and you had like [Walter] Mondale... there was nothing dynamic going on. No one I knew was interested in politics at the time. It was the kids who were slightly older that had been protesting against war and all this political activism was gone, too. The horrible part of the early to mid '70s that I'm always railing about -- I have this one-page rant about it -- is that we were left treading the bongwater that was left over. They had the Rolling Stones, and we had Seals and Crofts.

SPURGEON: That's a cultural idea that's difficult to communicate to younger people.

POND: Everything was all plastic and phoney all of the sudden.

SPURGEON: I was thinking more of the idea that we had just missed the party, that the present was a poor reflection of what had just been here.

POND: There's always that, though. That always happens. There's a great book on the history of bohemians that I read. I think it was called The History Of Cool or something [Editor's Note: it may have been this book]. It talked about people being in Greenwich Village in the '20s and people telling them, "You know, you should have been here five years ago. That was when it was really cool." [laughter]

Our kids say, "Oh, you were in the East Village in the '80s. That was when it was really great!" And we're like, "No... not really." [Spurgeon laughs] While we were there, people were saying, "Oh, you should have gotten here in the '70s. Then you'd have an affordable apartment. That was when it was really great, when it was all run down and scary." [laughs]

SPURGEON: There a number of entry points into Over Easy. One that intrigues me is how patient and thorough you are at nailing down the nuances of interaction in this scene in which you find yourself, the overlapping relationships between all of these people centered around this diner. How much of that is documentation? How much is you simply depicting what happened as opposed to fashioning an approximate of what happened? Were people and events sometimes combined?

POND: Some of the people are absolutely portraits. Some of them are almalgams. Three fry cooks became one. There were so many people that passed through there, there were so many strange, weird personalities because of the way people got hired there: "Tell me a joke or a dream." And of course Lazlo is totally faithful to the real person, who's now dead. He hired people like he was casting an opera. [laughs] There were so many facinating characters.

I spent a long time winnowing it down, seeing who would make the list of people that were in the book. There's one very dear friend of mine that still works there. She's a career waitress. She's one of the most unique people, there's abosultely no one like her. She's not in the book because she deserves her own book. She's too big a personality to fit without being a major character into that story.

So I would say about half of the characters... a third of the characters are real people and the other two thirds are like combinations.

SPURGEON: Was that you just feeling your way throught it, or did you look at other close portrayals of a scene for clues? Were there any models for you?

POND: I think it was just what felt right to me about that time. I'm glad to hear you say it captures a microcosm because that was... literally -- well, not literally, people use that wrongly so much -- but figuratively I've been working under a rock for all of these years. So it's gratifying to hear you see that.

A very early inspiration in terms of capturing a time and a place was Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha Of Suburbia. That's sort of set in the same era. It's about a young, half-Pakistani, half-Englih kid growing up in the suburbs of London. He also wrote My Beautiful Laundrette and a bunch of other stuff. His father in mid-life decides to reinvent himself as a kind of guru among his suburban neighbors. His son is coming of age and trying to figure out what it all means and travel through this weird time. That was an early influence. Also, Dave Eggers' big book [A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius]. Whatever that was. That was an early influence, too.

I think visually once I saw Fun Home, I felt like I had a visual model for what it could look like. I don't claim that my style is similar to Alison [Bechdel]'s. She draws very beautifully and it's a very different story. Just the way she condensed everything visually was a big inspiration. I love all of her detail work. I kind of fell into this thing of drawing the restaurant where I felt like I had to include every single detail. [laughs]

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SPURGEON: How much work was done on character design? I liked the way the characters had this cartoon verve to them while also representing a lot of realistic looks and body types. Did you explicitly work on your characters' designs, or did that kind of develop naturally?

POND: That was just kind of instinctive. I had photos of people from that era. The characters that are amalgams are almost literally amalgams of the faces I remember. Bernardo the cook... he's an amalgamation of a number of people. He's completely fictitious visually. He was fun to come up with. [laughs] He was kind of a whole cloth character. Everyone else was... maybe it was more a 50/50 range of real and imagined now that I think about it.

SPURGEON: Were there specific aspects of the work that you enjoyed drawing? I have to imagine just the length of it it would have been crucial to find things that you liked.

POND: I had better like it! I had better like drawing! [laughter]

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SPURGEON: It's just that there are some people and some projects where the cartoonist will talk about being miserable the whole time, just something in the nature of the project where the drawing made them miserable. I have to imagine some of the scenes were more fun than others. Were there sequences you looked forward to doing?

POND: I'm always happy to go back to the restaurant. Maybe it's that I'm so familiar with drawing it now that it's become easier, I've done it so much.

I think the most difficult thing for me, and I hope people won't go, "A-ha! I knew it!" is drawing cars. I hate drawing cars. I draw cars like a girl. I used to go draw buildings in downtown San Diego where I grew up. There were all of these beautiful buildings and I would draw these pen and ink drawings of buildings. I would it on the curb and draw. People would walk by and make comments. Old winos would stagger up to me and try to make conversation. I remember this old wino coming up to me once and going, "That's good. But you draws cars like a girl." [laughter]

It's haunted me ever since. I'm like, "Just draw it like a fucking car. Don't be a girl about it."

I hate seeing that in art, in any kind of art, where an artist is giving away a dislike of what they're drawing. So I try to do it as carefully as I can, but there are things I'm more passionate about drawing than others.

SPURGEON: One of the things that's interesting to me about this book is your role as an artist. Your art is your entry into this world, but at another point when you talk about your art, it's literally been shelved; your sketchbooks are on a shelf of this restaurant. They're sometimes pulled out and shown to people. You also talk a bit about how you knew of no female cartoonists that might point the way to your doing that as a profession. In fact, the whole idea of working in a milieu that's actively not an arts milieu is a significant element of the work. Was this something you struggled with? Was it partly the time in which you lived?

POND: Oh, yeah. It's always really hard to be an artist and go to work. I have to say that a lot of people that went to my art school ended up working at this restaurant. So there were people who had been in school who were now in a world of work. A lot of people you could see had given up the dream right away. Working all day and spending their paycheck at the bar, saying, "Screw it. I don't care anymore. I'm a working stiff." I was determined.

I wasn't going to let that happen. I was railing against this attitude. There were people there that had been in art school and people there that were working-class kids. The prevailing attitude was -- and I think this is true of any artist that goes and works a job -- the reaction of other people is to feel threatened, because you are stating your identity in terms of "This is not who I really am. I'm an artist. I'm just here for a while. I'm going to get out of this." And that threatens people! They're like, "Oh, you think you're better than we are." And you're like, "No, I'm just a normal person like you are. I'm just not going to do this for your whole life." And they're like, "Sure, you say that now. Good luck." [laughter]

That's a universal thing that artists go through in the world at large outside the coccoon of art school and outside the bubble of their other artist friends. Telling the world, "Screw you, I'm not going to wind up in a cubicle. I'm going to make art and I'm going to make it work." The reaction is almost always completely negative.

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SPURGEON: You have a really great sequence in there, where you break down in detail the events of your first day. It's almost this poem to hard work. A tribute to physical effort. That's also a stereotype of artists: that they're lazy, and given a chance avoid hard work. But you suggest a straight-forward value in putting effort into something like this.

POND: Well, yeah. The other thing that made that experience so important to me is that Lazlo, that character in real life, was someone that supported this attitude that this was just a role we were playing temporarily. We work in a restaurant, but really we're subversive. We're taking notes the whole time, and we're going to use this material later. It's important to write everything down. That's what saved the experience for me. Having that person on my side and supporting that vision that this is not who we really are. We're playing a role here. We're just actors. Behind it we're going to take this experience and make something bigger of it.

SPURGEON: That's not just a coping mechanism, either. Certainly because of how the book turned out, it was absolutely true, and that was indeed the lesson you needed to take out of there.

POND: Yeah.

SPURGEON: Can other people take that from the book?

POND: I hope they do. Because that's really what it's about. It's all material. Your life experience that you have outside of being an artist or a writer or whatever. The experience in the world at large are the raw material of your work. You have to use them. I think it's why a lot of primetime television is so bad. They recruit kids out of college to work on TV shows and write jokes and they've never had to do anything horrible in their lives. [laughs] They've never had a negative experience that's galvanized them in some way.

SPURGEON: Now that you're going to have this book out there, Mimi, you've certainly done a lot professionally -- you did some humor books, you've worked in a variety of artistic milieu. Is there anything you've noticed about the comics-making world now that you're settling into this part of it? Is there something unique to this time and place?

POND: This is a very different book. This is extremely personal. From the first day I went into this place I knew it was a story I had to tell. It's been in the back of my mind haunting me. I've had these experience like where I'm in a near-death traffic experience and my thought was, "It's good that didn't happen because I have go to finish that book." [laughs] This is the most personal, visceral thing I've ever worked on.

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SPURGEON: What does comics publishing look like to you given the breadth of your writing experience? Are you appreciative of being able to work with a boutique publisher like Drawn and Quarterly, someone very focused on making a certain kind of art?

POND: I'm extremely grateful I get to work with Drawn and Quarterly. It's a personal mission for them to do these exquisite books with first-rate talent. Having run the gamut of horrible experiences with mainstream publishers, with heads up their asses in so many ways, I've been through the mill with that. I've published books where I thought, "Why don't you just throw it down a well?" [laughter] The same effect. The same effect. Throw it down a well! It's done! Throw your money down there, too!

It means the world to me that it's being done right, the right way by Drawn and Quarterly. If it has any chance of success, I think it's with them. Knock wood.

SPURGEON: What is success, then, with this book? Getting a certain number of copies out there. Having a cultural moment? Hearing back from people in a certain way?

POND: Having it resonate with other people. Making some money hopefully. [laughs] Having some validation in terms that what I put out there people get it in the way that people understand it.

As far as teaching comics, I'm sort of flummoxed, because my education in comics has been all instinctive. I've never read that big book on understanding comics [Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics]. I'm like "Why? I don't need to." I don't want to intellectualize it.

It's great that there's this explosion of graphic novels out there. There's some good stuff out there and there's stuff that's absolutely horrible. It has no right to be out there, and it's a waste of everyone's time and energy. Or it's pretty, but it's empty. There's a lot of stuff that's visually -- books that do well, and they're big name, but the story is kind of "Meh." Besides being a good artist you have to be a good writer and you have to be a good storyteller. You have to have a feeling for pacing and rhythm, and not just visually. You have to create compelling characters that make people want to turn pages. Not just like dazzle them with some visual stuff.

There's also a lot of mainstream-y comics stuff that looks like nothing more than sophisticated storyboards for movies. By that I mean it hasn't any juice to it, it's a diagram for someone else -- another empty action thriller. It's the boring movie you don't want to go see.

SPURGEON: When I was reading Over Easy and getting an idea of where you were generationally and what was going on around you, it does seem like that there's a lot of interesting art that comes from there, it does seem like there are more than the average number of artists that come out of the in-between times. Not being a part of generation or a strong cultural stamp might be a boon. Do you think you're a better artists for not being in a strongly defined group coming up?

POND: I guess it's easier in that you don't get lumped in with a bunch of other people. In the same way, my husband is from Tennessee and he's a visual artist. I feel sorry for a lot of southern writers because you're instantly compared to all the other southern writers. It's like being an Irish writer. Everyone's a storyteller. It's a lot of competition. The disadvantage of being a girl from San Diego -- which is such a nowhere place. My husband is tired of me telling this story, but they say to him, "Oh, you're from Tennessee? That's fascinating. Tell me about the Civil War and gothic this." And they say, "Where are you from?" And I say "San Diego." And they say, "Oh... so tell me more about Tennessee.

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SPURGEON: It's a place that resists the idea of place.

POND: It's sort of happy and sunny and the zoo. No one has an idea of it being a place in particular. It's like Orange County. It deserves a better story than that. Maybe I'll get to that eventually.

Oakland is kind of the same way. I adore Oakland. I hope people will see this as my love letter to Oakland. I've always seen it as San Francisco's ugly step-sister. Everyone's scared of her. Black Panthers and crime... [laughs] but it's so much more than that. It's grittier and more working class and visually it has great charm. It has all the Victorian houses and it's industrial... I don't know.

SPURGEON: Dan Clowes once described Oakland to me as eminently graspable, never overwhelming -- it had one of everything you might like about a city but not too many of anything.

POND: People are more down to earth there than they are in Berkeley. Berkeley is just impossible. [Spurgeon laughs] Between the old hippies and the New Age people and the yuppies, it's just a clusterfuck of political arguments.

Oakland is more laid-back. It has weirdos in it! Old lefties, working class people. Not hippies but weird old lefties and people that have lived there their whole lives and have stories to tell you about Huey Newton. [laughs]

It's kind of fascinating.

*****

* Mimi Pond
* Mimi Pond On Tour
* Over Easy, Drawn And Quarterly, hardcover, 9781770461536, 272 pages, April 2014, $24.95.

*****

* cover to new book
* Mimi as a waitress
* one of a few moments in the book's last third where it's almost like the book's protagonist became the scene itself rather than any one member of it
* the times
* there different character designs
* the restaurant
* playing a role
* Mimi's early jitters
* Mimi loves Oakland
* agreed (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Early Reed Crandall

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Not Comics: Marilyn Monroe In The Goodman Magazines

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This isn't exactly my kind of thing, but Michael Vassallo uses so many examples I started to get a sense of the various ways Monroe was used as a design element almost. At least that's what it seemed like.
 
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If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Kevin Kallaugher!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Shelton Drum!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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FFF Results Post #372 -- One More Ride

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Deceased Creators You'd Love To Have Seen In Their Prime Have A Crack At The Opportunities Of Today's Comics Industry." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Mort Meskin
2. Alex Toth
3. Harvey Kurtzman
4. Crockett Johnson
5. Archie Goodwin

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Will Eisner
2. Alfredo Alcala
3. Francisco Coching
4. Dan DeCarlo
5. Jack Cole

*****

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Ed Kanerva

1. Tarpé Mills
2. Jesse Marsh
3. Bill Everett
4. Lyonel Feininger
5. Gene Day

*****

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Kiel Phegley

1. Seth Fisher
2. Mike Wieringo
3. C.C. Beck
4. John Stanley
5. William Gaines

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Willy Murphy
2. Pat Boyette
3. Bernard Krigstein
4. Seth Fisher
5. Lyonel Feininger

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Bill Finger
2. Dori Seda
3. Charles Crumb
4. Bill Everett
5. Gene Day

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Rose O'Neill
2. Jimmy Swinnerton
3. Jack Cole
4. Jack Kent
5. Dick Briefer

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Lee Holley
2. Gus Dirks
3. Lyonel Feininger
4. Dori Seda
5. Gil Kane

*****

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Chad Hanna

1. Crockett Johnson
2. Cliff Sterrett
3. Chester Gould
4. Jack Cole
5. C. C. Beck

*****

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Mike Palumbo

1. Matt Baker
2. Harvey Kurtzman
3. Seth Fisher
4. Wally Wood
5. Jack Kirby

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Dave Stevens
2. Mike Wieringo
3. Eduardo Barreto
4. Edvin Biukovic
5. Archie Goodwin

*****

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Randy Clark

* Gil Kane
* John Broome
* Jim Aparo
* Gardner Fox
* Joe Kubert

*****

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Steve Murphy

1. John Severin
2. Paul S. Newman
3. Gene Colan
4. Archie Goodwin
5. Jerry Grandenetti

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Nell Brinkley
2. Tarpe Mills
3. Ethel Hays
4. Virginia Huget
5. Faye King

*****

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Dan Steffan

1. Vaughn Bode
2. Harvey Kurtzman
3. Jack Cole
4. Basil Wolverton
5. Winsor McCay

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Wally Wood
2. Jack Cole
3. Jack Kirby
4. Walt Kelly
5. Sheldon Mayer

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Bill Everett
2. Wally Wood
3. Johnny Craig
4. Joe Maneely
5. Nell Brinkley

*****

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1. Hieronymus Bosch
2. Bill Finger
3. Max Brandel
4. Lou Fine
5. Dr. Seuss

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Steve Gerber
2. Jack Kirby
3. Wally Wood
4. Klaus Schonefeld
5. Vaughn Bodé

*****

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Rich Tommaso

1. Frank King
2. Roy Crane
3. Herg&233;
4. Yves Chaland
5. Wally Wood

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Gene Day
2. Don Newton
3. Ric Estrada
4. Mac Raboy
5. Hergé

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Harry Bennett
2. Ross Gore
3. Noel Cook
4. Neville Colvin
5. John McNamara

*****

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Alan Doane

1. Bernard Krigstein
2. Jack Kirby
3. Alex Schomburg
4. Harvey Kurtzman
5. Wallace Wood

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Jackie Ormes
2. Tarpe Mills
3. Matt Baker
4. Nestor Redondo
5. Bernie Krigstein

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. Alex Toth
2. Mike Wieringo
3. Dave Cockrum
4. Osamu Tezuka
5. Seth Fisher

*****

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Matt Badham

* Malcolm Shaw
* Steve Whitaker
* Frank Hampson
* Ken Reid
* Joe Colquhoun

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Mac Raboy
* Wally Wood
* Frank Frazetta
* Alex Raymond
* Jack Cole

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Jack Kirby
2. Jerry Siegel
3. Joe Shuster
4. Bill Finger
5. Gil Kane

*****

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Frank Young

1. Harvey Kurtzman
2. John Stanley
3. Jerry Siegel
4. Bernard Krigstein
5. Jimmy Thompson (only if allowed to write his own stories)

*****

adapted from an idea by Greg McElhatton; thanks, Greg

*****
*****
 
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March 22, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Trailer For a Hairy Who Movie


Noelle Stevenson/Gingerhaze Interviewed About Lumberjanes
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Brian Basset And David Horsey Interviewed In 1988
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The Absolut/Rafael Grampa Short Film


A Long Phone Interview With Alan Moore


Copra Trailer -- Very Exciting
 
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CR Week In Review

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

1. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund joins with other Free Rights-focused groups to ask the South Carolnia Senate to reject punitive educational cuts aimed at LGBT-themed works, including the College of Charleston for using Alison Bechdel's graphic novel memoir Fun Home.

2. The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar comes under fire for a widely-traveled cartoon about his government's reaction to the infamous missing passenger plane.

3. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum posts two important firsts in its transition to a crucial public role as a comics institution: its first post-opening exhibits; its first visiting comics speaker in the Eisner Room.

Winner Of The Week
Eleanor Davis

Losers Of The Week
Malaysian government officials pushing back against Zunar; that just seems wholly misguided, and sort of pathetic.

Quote Of The Week
"I can't really picture the average person going to the trouble of curating his own little comic section, much less reading a new and unfamiliar strip for months to build up a relationship with it. There's so much other content available -- instantly and all for free -- that there's no reason to stick around if you're not immediately enthralled. We consume everything like potato chips now. In this environment, I suspect the cartoonist's connection with readers is likely to be superficial and fleeting, unless he taps into some fervent special interest niche. And that audience, almost by definition, will be tiny. It's a very different world from the days when everyone in America knew who Popeye, Dick Tracy or Charlie Brown was." -- Bill Watterson

*****

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

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Happy Hellboy Day And Congratulations To Mike Mignola On Twenty Years With That Creation!

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There are chocolates and there are digital comics and there are store appearances and there are regular comics on sale.

The above image was done for his TCJ issue, back in 1996.

One of the amazing things about Mignola's work with Hellboy is that it's been at a certain high general level of quality for a really, really long time in the way we measure things now. There are very few characters created after 1990 that get even a short run in the marketplace. Everyone that's worked on the character has done a really good job keeping up a general high level of quality and not pushing so much material down our throats the character and his milieu has ever become tiresome. Like the really fun newspaper adventure strips and like the great Marvel comics of the 1960s, I think -- others disagree -- that you can jump in just about anywhere and get a feel for the material pretty quickly.

I own all of these comics, or very nearly all of them.

Congratulations to Mike Mignola and all the others involved.
 
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Go, Look: Joe Simon/Jack Kirby Airboy Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Jay Stephens!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 21, 2014


Everyone Is Looking Towards Columbus, Ohio (Or At Least The Direction They Think Columbus Might Be)

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This weekend is the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum's first major show of a non-opening-the-facility variety: Bill Watterson (curated by Jenny Robb) and Richard Thompson (curated by Caitlin McGurk). I hope everyone has a good time at the opening tonight: that strikes me as a place that will have very good openings. I also hope that people will make the time to stop by the Arch City and check the show out as their schedule allows. Watterson worked smaller and rougher than a lot of pepole tend to think and Thompson's originals are ridiculously attractive. I don't think there's any huge, summary statement to make about the show that you couldn't have made before Thompson did Cul De Sac and thus been wrong.

Here's a preview.

Speaking of Columbus, that nice man Tom Williams sent along the image below, of the post for this year's SPACE show. That's the city's long-running small-press show, and is worth a day trip if you're in the region. Pair it up with the Thompson/Watterson exhibit and call it a vacation.

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Go, Look: Sacha Goerg

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Image Comics Joins CAM As A Corporate Member

It's a fairly straight-forward story: the publisher Image Comics has joined San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum through its corporate membership program. I wanted to mention it here, though, 1) because I have some sort of hitch that seems to keep me from posting about CAM on a regular basis, 2) I am of the believe that a bigt thing for the next five years in comics will be the support of its non-publisher institutional infrastructure. Image has worked with the museum in the recent past, and they're regional neighbors: hopefully we'll get to the point where a beneficial partnership of this type is assumed, the same way that when I was a kid we expected certain local business to appear as sponsors in the Christmas Sing program.
 
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Go, Look: Commander Steel Is A Giant Thug That Wants To Punch A Bunch Of People In The Face

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On Selling Back Issues

imageThe retailer and industry advocates writes about trying to make a store asset of the back-issues that came with a second store he recently took over.

It's a fascinating article for the accumulation of detail -- no one in his market sells back issues, he feels with some reason that the move away from long-running series and into constantly re-launching series has a disconnective element to it in the same way that the move to home theater viewing provides a break with movie-going from the mid-20th Century -- and for the fact that it's open ended. I'm fond of the comic book format for reasons that go beyond nostalgia. Or, at least, I'm not nostalgic in general with formats, so my hunch is that I actually do prefer to have some of these comic in comic book form as opposed on the shelves for reasons other than 12-year-old me read them this way. I'm not sure exactly what that means, though, or if it's something that isn't just flat-out a nostalgic exercise because the market has migrated elsewhere -- to books and on-line.
 
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Go, Look: An Early '80s Dr. Strange Pin-Up Gallery

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the cartoonist Kate Beaton has released a chunk of an autobiographical comics story on-line. I would start with the announcement tweet.

* publicity for this book is the first time I can remember receiving something for a Kindle book release, although I'm sure that has to be wrong. I do know that I've received a couple of comics-related prose book release notices, but not something for a comic.

* in its mention of MoCCA Festival, this post from Gary Tyrrell at Fleen reminds that nearly every major show has a webcomics component now, even the ones we don't think of having a webcomics component.

* the now-gone Oh, Brother! has joined the GoComics on-line strip empire, like a lot of newspaper strips that failed to find an audience during the syndication phase and have since ended. That strip was good-looking.

* finally, I wasn't aware that The Pride hadn't made its debut on comiXology, which means I've come to expect everything there. That's flattering to the distributor, but I'm not sure it's smart.
 
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If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In London, 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: Kevin Cannon's Maps Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* consider this your occasional reminder to vote in the Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame vote, if you're eligible.

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Sherlock Bones Vol. 4. Greg McElhatton on Buffy The Vampire Season Season 10 #1. Brandon Graham on Inside Moebius. John Kane on a bunch of different comics.

* go, look: a Cole Closser print and original.

* the assembled-with-love Oily Comix limited edition bundle for this Spring is still up for sale, last I knew. It won't be for long, I don't think -- also, as mentioned, it's limited.

* I failed to see this Rebecca Guay crowd-funded book, and thought some of you might want to get in on it just to secure the work.

* I quite like this cover.

* here's a straight-up appreciation of the mainstream comics artist Chris Samnee, with a lot of art in accompaniment.

* Corey Blake would like to know if you are ready for a comics truck. I suppose someone could have fun with that idea, but it might be only intermittently welcome. I still don't think of comics reading as a wide enough practice in and of itself as opposed to just reading that a cultural expression designed to engage with reading would be 100 percent smooth sailing. That could be my fundamental fan self-loathing, I don't know.

* this sketchbook comic amused me.

* Albert Ching talks to Jimmy Palmiotti. Tim Young talks to Zander Cannon.

* finally, here's a republication of the Drawn And Quarterly Manifesto, from 2003.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mark Waid!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Marek Bennett!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Jeff Lemire!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 20, 2014


Go, Read: Jenny Robb Talks To Bill Watterson; Caitlin McGurk Talks To Richard Thompson

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Lisa Hanawalt Receives Another James Beard Foundation Book Broadcast And Journalism Nomination

Michael Cavna has a nice piece up here talking to the cartoonist and illustrator Lisa Hanawalt about her second nomination in the humor category of the James Beard Foundation's Book, Broadcast And Journalism Awards. This year she picked one up for a piece called "On The Trail With Wylie" that appeared in Lucky Peach, the same publication that hosted last year's "The Secret Lives of Chefs." She is congratulated with the publication's other nominees here.

The awards go out May 2 at an invitation-only ceremony that is apparently part of a bigger gala. I hope she wins.
 
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Go, Look: Siso

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Very Neat That Eleanor Davis Did The Google Whatever Today

It's here, in case you've never heard of the limited-audience site. Her twitter feed is here, and she's nice enough I can see her trying to thank everyone that congratulates her. Her mid-summer Fantagraphics collection is one of two or three books I most look forward to seeing this year.

About the weather: I think the arrival of Spring could make the next eight weeks of festivals and conventions an almost giddy experience for comics pros, balanced a bit by the fact that people may be a bit burnt out on comics going in because of the full-court press of comics culture during the winter (for example, there was two news stories of note on Christmas Eve).
 
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Go, Look: Bat Masterson

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* John Porcellino has a short report from the Chicago 'Zine Fest, with photos. Porcellino is the best.

image* this is certainly the big event of the week, the opening of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum's first big show, and the first big show of its type for Bill Watterson and for Richard Thompson. It kills me not to be there.

* the Rhode Island Independent Publishing Expo will accept exhibitor applications until March 31. That show is set for August 2-3.

* MoCCA Festival week begins to take shape: Operation Margarine launch in Brooklyn, Nick Abadzis and Tucker Stone at The Strand

* this isn't a comic-con in any way, shape or form that I can tell, but the idea of a 24-hour convention is something I hadn't heard of before and they're in the Palmer House Hilton, which is my all-time Chicago nostalgic hotel not the Drake.

* there's something almost retro about a company saying "look at the people we have at this comics show" like in this post from Fantagraphics about next month's Asbury Park show.

* Heidi MacDonald gathers together some sourced material to string together an incident in the UK about someone attempting to do jerky-style humor that involves acting lasciviously towards female cosplayers. The people were subsequently banned from further shows, and their expressed desire to harass people as a way of getting to humor mocked as pathetic, both of which seem more-than-just outcomes. I hope this kind of thing stops happening yesterday.

It strikes me that this may have been kind of a lower-end enterprise -- the group was able to pull much of its on-line infrastructure down in the days after the show, which doesn't indicate to me a majorly funded entity for the ages. One of the outcomes of having more people interested in comics shows is that they can't have the laid-back, don't-give-a-shit elements that shows in the past used to, frequently to their detriment. That will likely involve more stringent examination of media access at future shows. Maybe every comic-con doesn't have to give a semi-official imprimatur to everyone with a couple of cameras and a dream on Internet comedy stardom. ECCC is pretty tough to get into as press right now compared to a lot of shows, and there are some rigid aspects to the Comic-Con family now as well. I think you may see more shows take a more active approach in terms of who gets to do what and when to whom. We should welcome it.

* these soccer-style convention cards are cute. I would like a big stack of yellow ones that say, "I still don't completely understand cosplay."

* the comic-con in Indiana last weekend found 15,000 people to pay to visit the show, which is a solid number right out of the gate. Indiana is a pretty good comics-reading state, by my estimation, but it doesn't have a rich tradition of cons. Other than a few Holiday Inn cons when I was a kid, everyone was fixated on Chicago.

* finally, this is a very nice story about a school holding a comics convention. I can see a lot of small groups doing something like that, actually, and feel that micro-focused and hyper-local shows are one area of growth for comics-related festivals.
 
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If I Were In Athens, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Pass The Jug

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain on Worth #1. Gabriele Di Fazio on Weekend Alone and Weekend For Two.

* amen, Daniel Spottswood.

* let Kevin Cannon draw you an intersection. Pay Jim Rugg to draw you anything, if you ever get the chance: look at this nice J. Jonah Jameson.

* hey, it's nice press for SAW.

* here's a photoset from a workshop in Latvia. I'm sure when I put that in my bookmarks folder I had all sorts of context in mind. My working theory with Latvia, based on basic American ignorance of the world, is that it's an entire country with weather like White River Junction, Vermont, so everyone makes comics.

* not comics: from the new Newsweek comes words of a major early newspaper archive, which if you know your Nicholson Bakers means a lot of illustration that likely hasn't been seen anywhere else.

* Zainab Akhtar appreciates a Brandon Graham cover.

* Evan Dorkin has some original artwork up on eBay. If you're not interested or not able to bid, you might want at least want to head over and take a look at them. I really like looking at Dorkin's origina art when I get to see it, as criticial as he can be at times with his own art.

* Graham Kahler talks to Tim Root and Benjamin Marra. Ryan Burton talks to Frederik Peeters. Sonia Harris talks to Vincent Iadevaia. Alex Dueben talks to Diana Obomsawin.

* Stan Lee apparently scored a Playboy interview. Andy Khouri has the most thorough going-over of the piece here, and sets up a workable framework for beginning to process Lee's legacy.

* Sammy Harkham covers Strapazin. Rafael Grampá covers All-New X-Men #25.

* Becky Cloonan found solo-work thumbnails in a hard drive and is sharing them with us.

* finally, a lot of you nice folks have passed along links to this Susie Cagle piece on the freelancing life.
 
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Happy 89th Birthday, Bill Lignante!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 19, 2014


Steve Moore, RIP

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Go, Look: Sandra Rummler

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Go, Read: Michael Cavna Talks To The Malaysian Cartoonist Zunar About His Missing Jet Cartoon

Michael Cavna at the Washington Post talked to the cartoonist Zunar about his take on the missing Malaysian jet. Zunar criticizes the Malaysian government for its crouched hunch and also notes the unfortunate spectacle of the president waiting for an entire week to comment and then using the tragedy and mystery to take political shots at a rival for office. With the conspiracy talks -- which one imagines is driven in large part by the compelling central idea of something become lost in the modern, monitored world -- we haven't heard a lot about the regional and local politics involved, so it's nice to get that point of view from Zunar.

Responses from government officials earlier today encompassed criticism of both Zunar and the Post, and kind of bounced around everywhere, from the idea that criticism should have been set aside due to the nature of the tragedy to the notion that specific charges were baseless.
 
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Go, Look: Roz Chast's New Work Extensively Previewed

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CBLDF Joins Coalition Decrying South Carolina Book-Triggered Budget Cuts; Legal Angle Suggested

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has one of their nicely-written press releases up on their joining a coalition of organizations that will urge the South Carolina state senate to reject budget cuts aimed at two colleges that cut budgets explicitly to punish schools for using books that include LGBT elements. One of these school/book combinations is the College Of Charleston and Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir Fun Home. The two books were apparently used in programs that didn't even require students to read the book. The amount cut by the version that went through is in exactly the amount given to the schools for the programs in question.

A letter by the National Coalition Against Censorship has been written and sent to the senate to restore some sense of non-idiocy to the proceedings -- they actually probably put it just as strongly but without the insult. Those joining the Fund in signing the letter include the ACLU of South Carolina, the Modern Language Association and the Association of American Publishers.

NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin suggests the that the law will not support the legality of cuts based on the expression of idea, which might indicate a possible legal strategy if the state's senate and governor's office perpetuate the cuts.

Here is the letter in question.
 
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Go, Look: The Fur

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Go, Read: Thierry Smolderen On The Origins Of Comics

The comics scholar Thierry Smolderen jumped into a Mark Newgarden thread on The Origins Of Comics and posted a lengthy response to some of the thinking that preceded it, immediately taking the room and boosting the level of conversation that follows. It's worth reading if you like thinking about where comics came from and why.

"The 20th century comic strip is the product of its history, not the reverse, and even if we feel perfectly comfortable with the modern form, we cannot pretend to understand it -- as an historical construct -- without first understanding its history."

That Facebook comments thread is marked as public, and I believe the link takes you to the exact comment, so hopefully that works. It may just take you to the post more generally. My ability to link to Facebook material as marked has certainly been of a mixed quality over the last couple of years.
 
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Go, Look: Mike Kaluta Time Warp Cover Mini-Gallery

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Go, Read: John Ostrander On The Changes In Amanda Waller

John Ostrander is a primary creator (I think that's fair; it's complicated) of the Amanda Waller character used by him in the long-running Suicide Squad comics he did for DC a generation of readers ago. She has since been revamped, slimmed-down and made a mover-and-shaker in the New52 version of the DC line and on the Arrow television show. He writes about his perspective on that here. I'm sure there have been many stops along the way, like the Green Lantern movie.

There are couple of things I thought interesting. One is that I don't know that we've heard a writer talk openly about some of the regret in a company or subsequent creators changing key, distinguishing elements to a character, at least in a way that's not charged with the fury of some wider drama. Isolated, by itelf, that has to be a potential bummer. Another is that Ostrander mentions that he expects to see some money from the character's use. The state of that kind of program at DC and in those characters' wider use in film, on TV and through licensed product is something that isn't all the way clear right now -- most people I've talked to believe it's been also greatly slimmed down.
 
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Go, Look: Them Changes

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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.

*****

JAN141334 NEMO ROSES OF BERLIN HC (MR) $14.95
It's great to have new comics from Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill and the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen volumes have been pretty great action-adventure comics in the classic sense: kind of junky and fun and energetic and profane and irritating and sometimes thoughtful. I like looking at whatever O'Neill likes to draw.

imageJAN141306 AAMA GN VOL 01 SMELL OF WARM DUST (MR) $19.95
I've been looking forward to this one, the first of Frederik Peeters' award-winning science fiction series, put out by one of the prestige boutique publishers operating right at the moment. It should hit well with the current interest in higher-end science fiction.

DEC130994 OKKO HC VOL 04 CYCLE OF FIRE $19.99
I remember the first two volumes of this series being very pretty and almost possessed of a singular energy because of the way the art looks -- the way early P. Craig Russell did whenever he did action comics, or the way that some of the more decorative manga can be. I'd certainly pick it up and take a look.

NOV130069 ARCHIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 09 $59.99
I never know exactly what the hell is going on with all the Archie collection, but this one seems pretty centrally oriented. As it is, I'm probably going to wait years and year and hope this material remains in print for me to buy and read then. Right now I'm just a little bit confused.

JAN140127 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #117 $3.50
JAN140134 BTVS SEASON 10 #1 MAIN CVR $3.50
JAN140320 ANIMAL MAN #29 $2.99
JAN140450 MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #17 $3.99
SEP130628 PROPHET #43 $3.99
DEC130595 SEX CRIMINALS #5 (MR) $3.50
JAN140630 DAREDEVIL #1 ANMN $3.99
JAN140660 ALL NEW GHOST RIDER #1 ANMN $3.99
JAN141015 ADVENTURE TIME #26 MAIN CVRS $3.99
Classic genre serial comic books are all over the place this week. There's one from the Mignola-verse, something to which we've grown accustomed. I always buy that material. The Buffy looks to be starting a new cycle... maybe the third since the television series ended? I don't hear about friends being instructed to pick one up from the comics shop for their non-comics interested partners the way I was for a while, but I'm sure those comics have a lot of fans the way the Star Wars material Dark Horse did for years has had a ton of fans. I believe that's the last Animal Man for a while; that title kind of midwifed Jeff Lemire's move from more obscure to solidly ensconced mainstream comics writer. At some point I'll delve into the My Little Pony comics to see what they're about. They're certainly not lack for my inability to get to a store, though. Sex Criminals and Prophet are the Image series out this week that I follow. i believe the Sex Criminals wraps up the initial storyline; it felt like such an ending. I wish they didn't have to relaunch Daredevil but I can't imagine Mark Waid and Chris Samnee not putting out a solid superhero comic. The Ghost Rider is part of Marvel's current attempt to makes its non-top-of-line core comics sleeper hits, singular reading experiences and good workouts for the general concept involved. Finally, the Adventure Time features art by Jim Rugg!

DEC130341 DEATH TP (MR) $19.99
This is all the Death material I could think of if I were quizzed, plus one I hadn't heard of, so at $19 that strikes me as a pretty solid return on one's investment. I suppose at this point that such material counts as 1990s nostalgia, or a two-generation buy (one for a new copy, one for whom it's brand new). Some very pretty art in those.

imageJAN141234 UQ HOLDER GN VOL 01 $10.99
JAN141413 VAGABOND GN VOL 35 (MR) $9.95
These are the two manga volumes. The first is the most recent manga serial by Ken Akamatsu of Love Hina, so I'd want to see if I didn't want to buy it. The second is the long-running Takehiko Inoue series, which I believe is still running but is certainly right up on the limits of the series as published thus far. I have read neither, but I've enjoyed the Inoue when I've come across it in discrete chunks and random press copies. I've always enjoyed the pacing there.

JAN140150 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #34 (MR) $7.99
That's a lot of issues for an anthology. That's more than the entire lifetime for a lot of prominent and successful series of that type.

NOV130011 HELLBOY FIRST 20 YEARS HC $19.99
That seems like a fine price point for book focused on Hellboy in a way that allows them to bring in artists that have done work on the series outside of creator Mike Mignola. These kinds of book are more feel than something you can figure out from a catalog description, so I definitely look forward to seeing it.

JAN140510 EDISON REX TP VOL 02 HEIR APPARENT $19.99
This is one of the Monkeybrain digital to print deals, featuring the writing of serial version co-publisher Chris Roberson and art by Dennis Culver. I like both of those guys' straight-ahead genre work, and this seems like that. I don't know. I just haven't seen one of these books in a store yet, and I look forward to doing so.

JAN140835 BASEWOOD HC $19.95
This is Alec Longstreth's crowd-funded effort; I have a copy, it looks sharp.

NOV130393 STEVE CANYON HC VOL 04 1953-1954 $49.99
DEC131166 CANNON WALLY WOOD TP $35.00
Here are two really good collection from important 20th Century cartoonists. The Canyon is part of the Library of America series collecting that work, and those are top-notch production. The Canyon material is a lot of fun for about the first 15 years out of the gate, and it's always beautiful. The Wally Wood book is of course also terribly good-looking, and is fun in a way, although during my recent reading I couldn't quite disconnect from the poisonous elements of its pay-cable machismo.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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Go, Look: Kid Eternity #3

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Go, Look: A Small Jae Lee Image Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* consider this your occasional reminder to vote in the Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame vote, if you're eligible.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Vengeance Of The Moon Knight Vol. 2. Rob Clough on the comics of Jason Walz. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Asher J. Klassen on a bunch of different books. Noah Berlatsky on Young Avengers. Samantha Meier on Tits & Clits. Jeet Heer on Zap. Ng Suat Ton on Incidents In The Night Vol. 1. Jared Gardner on a bunch of different stories. Gary Tyrrell on Stripped. Alec Berry on War Of Streets And Houses.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco recommends a quartet of comics from the two big mainstream superhero comics publishers that are both good and not tied into overlapping, tedious continuity in a way that leads to a better reading experience. I had such a brain-frying meltdown the last two times I went to a comics shop it's an article I'll keep in mind. Once the mainstream series became untethered from regular creator pairings in addition to constantly restarting with permutations of the same few names, I became completely lost in keeping track of titles. I'm not suggesting this is a bad thing for me or those companies -- I think a lot of folks project their own tastes and habits as the ideal ones -- but I'm sure there other folks out there like me.

* Whit Taylor talks to Mike Dawson. Graham Kahler talks to Farel Dalrymple and Sam Alden. Steve Sunu talks to Paul Levitz. Benjamin Breen and Christopher Heaney talk to Kate Beaton. Paul Montgomery talks to Chris Samnee. Nick Margerrison talks to Alan Moore. Tim O'Shea talks to Alison Sampson. Steve Morris talks to Lela Gwenn.

* Kevin Cannon draws a sports cartoon. Zach Hazard Vaupen draws the Witch King. James R. Eads draws a scene from True Detective.

* Qiana Whitted has a nice, short piece up here on a pair of comics scenes I would never have thought of pairing together.

* not comics: if you're in the industry news business or interested in the industry news business, I bet there's something here in terms of research about how people consume digital media that's worth it for you to examine.

* finally, this list from the occasional writer about comics Sean Kleefeld suggests what a rich life one can have in terms of attending physical events related to comics, particularly if you're in a big city and wiliing/able to inviest in some regional travel.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Michael Jantze!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Sergio Ponchione!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Willie Schubert!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 18, 2014


Go, Look/By Request Extra: A Bunch Of Eleanor Davis Work Newly Up For Sale At Little House Comics

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Go, Look: Lydian

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Analysts Weigh In On February 2014 Direct Market Numbers

imageI almost never do these round-up articles anymore, and I should. 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 February 2013.

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

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

There was also a flurry of interest in bookscaen book-figure estimates recently, with analysis articles like this one over at Johanna Draper Carlson's place.

The big story is that it's been a slack winter with two most-categories-down months in a row after a long string of mostly slow-building positives. It could be that the Direct Market reached the natural outer edges of the growth available to itself in a general surge that started Fall 2011 with the DC relaunch, or it could be that we're seeing the market settle back into a more sustainable level and that the mainstream comics surge of about two years ago was an unnatural event against we're now seeing correction. I would actually see the latter explanation as a positive, that we would have seen a slower Image-driven and mainstream-houses-in-better-order driven build but that the 2011 freefall and correction constitute this trauma-recovery two-fer that distort everything we're seeing right now. You could also make the case that the two big-superhero comic book lines sell best now when they're presented in a way that fans can figure out what's important to buy, and when that isn't present in the market, things list a bit.

I thought this most interesting chart out right now was the DM graphic novels chart, which I think shows some of the core strength Marvel can have with easier-to-figure out trades and collection even when they're just tossed out there, and indicates a real comic-book strength for the Locke & Key series and the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips book Fatale -- an impressive charting for a fourth book with more to come.

As far as the comics market goes, I'm still shocked there aren't 25 books selling over 50K, and I'm not sure that's changed in a long, long, long time. It's also interesting to see the Greg Rucka/Michael Lark series Lazarus slip into the top 100. That's a solid comic book in terms of the read provided, but I also thought it might be a hard sell as a comic book serials as it's quickly collected.
 
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Go, Look: A 1943 Airboy Comic

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Go, Read: Jacob Covey On Designing New S. Clay Wilson Book

imageHere. It was originally on designer Jacob Covey's Facebook page as a friends-only post and Mike Baehr at Fantagraphics beat me to getting a reprint okay. It's a good-looking book, and Covey's brief take on the choices that got him there show the reflection and thought that goes into a lot of the best comics design now.

I hope that people will read the Wilson book, although I think that the Undergound work is a weird position culturally. It's getting close to fifty years in the review mirror now, which to give you some perspective would have been like looking at Golden Age comic books from the mid-1980s. There's also a lack of continuity for the bulk of it in terms of fans living a lifetime with those artists -- some of the cartoonists have been barely reprinted if at all, and as a group they're seen mostly as a distinct thing from the alt-/arts- comics movement that came later. Those cartoonists that exist in both worlds almost had to reestablish themselves in the new place rather than building on the old, with Crumb the only exception. They were also working in a social milieu very far removed from our own. Still, there are so many good comics there, I hope we can all enjoy some of them together.
 
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Go, Look: Always Happy To See This Super Cool-Looking Fred Guardineer Zatara The Magician Story

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Go, Read: ComicsAlliance Provides A Superhero Head Count

The folks at ComicsAlliance have come up with a way of counting the relative representation of white, non-Hispanic, cisgender, straight males and everyone else in Big Two superhero comics, which they then apply to the modern roster. It's fun. It's no surprise that white, non-Hispanic, cisgender straight males are overrepresented, but I think it might surprise some casual readers that the number aren't ruthlessly and terrifyling overbalanced in their favor. As someone that is privileged in a way to not have ever thought about representation from a personally engaged point of view -- I was always covered -- and who is now even further oriented away by personal preference for certain kinds of art in a way that doesn't lead to paying a lot of attention to companies and their mileus as an existing resource to be adjusted, this was an intriguing read.
 
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Go, Look: Comic Cartography

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Nina Bunjevac released what she called a final cover image for her forthcoming Fatherland to her pals on Facebook recently; she discusses the book more generally here. That won't be out for a while, but don't let that stop you from inquiring about rights or generally anticipating the work ahead of its arrival.

image* great news to hear about new Ryan Cecil Smith that one can order. Smith is one of the more interesting younger cartoonists out there, and the space stuff he's been doing is really, really fun.

* they're up to six printings on Sex Criminals #1, and that's where they're going to cap it. That's a lot of comics sold. I'm not sure what the conventional wisdom is these days over how long you keep an individual comic book in print and how long before you let that go out of print and trust people will start buying the trade. That trade drops next month.

* a collection of Shaky Kane Deadline strips is astoundingly good news.

* DC is apparently going to do a bunch of cheesecake-style "bombshell covers," which manages to sound a bit sad both in terms of being unappealing to some female readers and just kind of seeming old. They do a pretty good job of excecuting some weird ideas, though, and it's still a market that wants to be told what's important to buy, so I think there's a good chance it will succeed despite those negatives. If nothing else, it should be a nice break from the usual "story moment" approach.

* look at this beautiful triptych going into deluxe edition of the forthcoming Kim Deitch work from Chance Press.

* Zainab Akhtar notes the release date on the English-language version of the next Blacksad, called Blacksad: Amarillo.

* I am worried about Wolverine. Not that they'll kill him -- I don't care about that, and I think they've done it a few times. I'm scared that the character has been in so many titles over so many years that there's just not a lot you can do with him that provides a clean break from past work and feels like it's true to what they've established.

* here's the cover to Dirty Diamonds #5.

image* SelfMadeHero announced they'll be doing the British release for Bryan Lee O'Malley's much-anticipated Seconds. That seems like quite the catch for SMH and a logical home for the book, which is a pretty thin and desirable overlap to hit.

* the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a post up about Michael Hague's first periodical comics project, Eye Of Newt. Hague is a well-known fantasy illustrator.

* so apparently they're rebooting Captain Canuck. I'm guessing they're not going nostalgic and sweet.

* a digital-only series starring the TV Batman and Green Hornet sounds like a good publishing idea.

* Matt Bors spreads the good word about the publishing good citizenry of Pando Quarterly. You can't get a copy, but it's still good news!

* Fantagraphics revealed the cover to their second Virgil Partch book, Cork High And Bottle Deep. It's hard to keep up with all the covers they release this way, but I quite like this Steve Ditko cover, and I'm just happy these Roy Crane Buz Sawyer books exist at all. I know I've discussed the paperback Peanuts books here, but I think this is our first extended look at one.

* CBR reminds us that the Geoff Johns/JR JR collaboration on one of the Superman books begins in June. That should be fun, although I remember similar anticipation for a Scott Snyder/Jim Lee run on the character, and I couldn't tell you off the top of my head if that went past one issue. Generating buzz and sustaining buzz are two different tasks, and the former is probably easier in a world that sells anticipation of entertainment as much as it does actual entertainment.

* finally, NBM has announced that they'll be doing a fourth book in the Louvre-sponsored comics series, this one by Enki Bilal to be called Phantoms Of The Louvre here in North America.

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

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Go, Look: Nobrow 9 Previewed

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Grant Goggan on Ulysses Sweet: Centered. Someone Australian Comics Journal on Rules Of Summer. J. Caleb Mozzocco on On Loving Women and White Cube. Tom Murphy on Stray Bullets: Killers #1.

* not comics: this Lale Westvind print looks nice; I'm unfamiliar with the series.

* if you had asked me if John Kerschbaum ever did a New Yorker cartoon, I would have given you the wrong answer.

* not comics: I did not know this poster image from my youth was drawn by Mike Ploog, but given his relationship to the animator Ralph Bakshi at that time, I should have guessed.

* this short piece from David Brothers on Akira suggests that there are comics works that a lot of longtime readers jump into and out of rather than read all at once, and certainly that's true. I don't know if there's anything that distinguishes such work from works that you tend to engage all at once or not at all, but I'd sure be interested in reading people trying to puzzle this out. I'm sure that in some cases it has a lot to do with the relationship created by the reader with the art rather than the art itself, but that's such an underexamined area in and of itself.

* not comics: this image is terrifying without the irony of the mask. Holy jeebus if that was a part of your workday.

* here's another piece from Colin Upton on a comics-skewed perspective on Vancouver.

* the good folks at Comic Book Jones talk to Evan Dorkin. Chris Arrant talks to Mike Baron. Albert Ching talks to Axel Alonso. Brigid Alverson talks to Matt Ritter and Adam Elbatimy.

* I enjoyed this article on Whilce Portacio putting a studio together. I'm all for studios.

* Kevin Melrose discusses "Mor", the most evil of sounds.

* finally, Carla Hoffman writes about the concept of heroic realism.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Michael J. Vassallo!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Farel Dalrymple!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Bill Reinhold!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Shea Anton Pensa!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 17, 2014


Frank Santoro Opens Up The Eisner Room At Billy Ireland

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Caitlin McGurk at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum tells me that tonight's co-sponsored event featuring the great Frank Santoro talking about making comics is the first event of its type at what is sure to be a lifetime of them held in the Eisner Seminar Room there in Sullivant Hall. I hope that Columbus will show up with as much enthusiasm as they will no doubt show in attending the Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson exhibit scant days away. Very exciting time for Columbus.

Frank is one of the best speakers about comics we have, and one of the working professional community's most original thinkers. If you go, apologize to him for me because I used this 2009 TCAF photo. Seriously, though, there's no one more fun with whom to talk about comics. Details here.
 
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Go, Look: Chris Reijnen

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Festivals Extra: Comic-Con Badges Sell Out

Mainstream media and comics outlets alike noted the now-yearly phenomenon of near-instant sell-out of badge for Comic-Con International. It took about 90 minutes. I'm sure many people were frustrated just as many folks were delighted. I have not heard of either specific instances of grievous malfeasance nor a general rumble of negativity surrounding Saturday's registration attempts. Let me add my voice to the chorus of others that are telling you that there is a chance if you were counting on attendee badges for July you might be able to find some re-offered through official and semi-official channels in late May, and there's always the option of focusing on a fun comics show that isn't San Diego, such as that company's own WonderCon next month.

I suspect this is going to be a year where you're going to see pushback from a lot of comics pros that decide to make a bigger deal out of not attending -- a big chunk of pros have always skipped the show -- as well as continued growth in things to do outside of the convention proper. Comics is in this odd place of actually being more stable and more healthy in some ways -- some ways -- than the scramble of Comic-Con International might indicate, by which I mean I think you'll find a lot of publishers and established pros going to that show with roughly the same goals in mind they had in 2008 (I seem to be still having the same four breakfasts, the same Thursday night and the same Friday night I did a decade ago), and I don't think that continuity is true for a lot of media companies and almost certainly isn't true for that show's big, recent generator of furtive energy, the industry that's popped up around "nerd culture."

Like I said Saturday, congrats to those that scored badges and I hope to meet some of you in July. I'll be the older, nerdy guy.
 
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Go, Look: Russ Heath Cover Re-Creations

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Bundled Extra: NYT On HMH Deal With Randall Munroe

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced last week that they'll be doing a What If? book with Randall Munroe -- still not yet 30! -- of xkcd fame. Three things stand out about that article (in addition to the fact that there's a stand-alone article at all). One is that Munroe is an interesting cartoonist and anything he wants to do is worth tracking. The second is that he was signed to do a project not his main project, which is a different sort of interest than just building directly on the title/effort for which a creative person is best known. Third is a pair of things in the description of the acquiring editor, Courtney Young, played out across a couples of graphs: that she's a fan of Munroe's webcomics going way back (as a lot of emerging editors are going to be now) and that she describes Munroe in market terms in comparison to Allie Brosh and Brandon Stanton. That last part suggests a kind of mini-category for such works, or at least a collective stab at one within publishing in terms of understanding the audience Munroe can reach.

The book is already intensely pre-ordered and should sell enough copies to make for a fun "What If?"
 
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Go, Look: John Kerschbaum's Tumblr Artblog

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Tintin Theory Apparently Not The Dumbest MH370 Theory

It's not the only dumb one, anyway. This article that's just like a list of odd, half-baked theories about the missing Malaysian airline MH370 notes the broader than broad similarities between the story as conceived by a sprawling, grasping, ratings-hungry news media and the twenty-second Tintin volume, Flight 714. Given the circus atmosphere surrounding the news story, it's actually been a side-note to several stories. I'm not sure that it has anything to do with comics, other than with comics you get this kid of reasonably broad name recognition paired with this obscure, lost-media feel, which seem perfect for odd conspiracy theories driven by time-filling cable news speculation. If there does end up being a boy reporter involved, I will be sure to comment here: stranger things have happened, but not a lot of them.
 
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Go, Look: Gallery Of Images From Billy Ireland Show

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Not Comics/Parade Extra: The L'Ascension Du Haut Mal Trailer

This post reminded me that I hadn't put word on CR about a movie site up for a film adapting David B.'s L'Ascension Du Haut Mal. It's here. Or maybe I did post something. What I do remember is that I couldn't post the trailers themselves because I couldn't get them to show up after changing their code to fit my column width. And... I still can't.

Whatever the heck happened, I hope that a film version will be successful enough to drive people to the book, which I think is one of the 10 great comics works of the 1990s. (In fact, one hopes a successful film might lead to a newly-published version of the comic if it's out of print the way it looks like it may be; I can't find it listed on a site anywhere in a way that makes me think it's still available that way.)

Whether in its original French or translated as Epileptic, David B.'s great comic is a difficult work, prickly at moments and gloomy at others. Its lack of catharsis is one of the reasons I suspect the graphic novel once called the French-Language Jimmy Corrigan didn't have the reception in its English-language version for which the enthusiastic oh-my-gods of French-reading North American comics fans might have prepared us. Perhaps what should be the beauty of the author's work animated will give us a second way in.
 
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Go, Look: Whack #3

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SC Legislators Refuse To Restore Funding Cuts For Use Of Fun Home, Other Works By Schools

imageThe CBLDF has a nice write-up here about a move to restore funding to two South Carolina school that used material not approved of by one of that state's legislators, and how that move was voted down. One of the schools was the College Of Charleston, who used Alison Bechdel's comics memoir Fun Home as a book assigned to incoming freshman in order to provide a common experience and discussion topic for a new class.

The stupidity of this is hard to grasp, let alone measure. It's a Russian nesting doll of cynically motivated dumbassery: to define a book this way, to define this book this way, to decide that a book that engages a world view that includes something of which you don't approve is unsuitable for college students, to punish an educational institution for disagreeing with you, to double down when people notice... I wish we were all loaded with cash and could immediately replace this money lost to the school -- and the other, non-comics one, too, why not when we're spending imaginary money -- and then give a similar amount to whatever person could better serve the people's interest than going on a witch hunt. As it is, let this be a reminder how stupid and grasping these kinds of moves really are.
 
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Go, Look: Agnès Maupré

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* via Marc Arsenault comes word that Matt Howarth has a modest crowd-funder going at Kickstarter in support of comics work. Howarth is an interesting cartoonist, and everything he does is worth a look.

* that fine cartoonist Salgood Sam is halfway through a fundraiser for the next book, into which he's built a tour in support. It's a fairly elaborate and nuanced crowd-funder, actually; if he or crowd-funders generally are of interest, you should read it.

* the next Scott Thompson/Danny Husk book is in its crowd-funding stage.

* I was too late on the draw last week to drive attention to Table Titans, Book One. They made their initial goal, and are now in full stretch-goal mode.

* P. Craig Russell has had a lovely career and you should consider supporting whatever he wants to do. That one looks on its way, but the premiums look nice. I've been looking at a bunch of his older comics recently.

* this related-to-comics crowd-funder looks very close with a few hours left. I would assume that at this level you just get your buddy to put you over the top, but I've never done one before.

* the film actor and television star Zachary Levi is trying to raise $1M to do parallel event programming at San Diego, which strikes me as super-bizarre. I wonder how much of the actual comic-con $1M could buy in terms of monies spent on that show. There's a charitable aspect to it, too, it should be mentioned.

* Simon Hanselmann is selling packages of comics. I don't think this is tied into any particular need, but it's enough off the beaten path and I can't imagines there's a time anyone offers up something like this from their site that they're not hoping it is successfull.

* some of the crowd-funders previously spotlighted seem to be doing okay. The Inkstuds one presses towards stretch goals and more interviews. The Tom Ward one about the Elephant Man seems to have turned the corner although it still has some distance to go. A number of you suggested that one for what you saw of the art.

* this was the newest one that showed up near the top of my basic Kickstarter search, which usually yields projects that are near their end or already successful. I don't know how the search mechanism works, actually, but it seems significant when one shows up a little closer to the top than others.

* another new one I didn't see at first was this Seth Kushner one for Schmuck. Kushner is a well-connected, well-regarded member of the wider NYC comics community know for his photographs of comics-makers -- he describes this as a labor of love and long-simmering.

* the Meredith Gran Patreon campaign we've been watching is at $1200-plus per month. I get about two or three e-mails a day that have just started one or are trying to figure out how to do one or are trying to figure out if they want to do one. The Dave Sim one we noted tied into his Alex Raymond book was at a touch over $260 per month.

* finally, this person is having a moving sale by offering sketches and other art right off of their tumblr.

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

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Go, Look: Meathaus Comics On Tumblr

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* consider this your occasional reminder to vote in the Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame vote, if you're eligible.

image* John Kane on Mighty Avengers #6-7. Sam Henderson on VIP: The Mad World Of Virgil Partch. Dominic Umile on Scene But Not Heard. The nice people from Page 45 reveiw a bunch of different high-profile releases. Joshuaon on Delusional. Greg Burgas on Heavy Metal Vol. 2 #5. Ken H on Attack On Titan: Before The Fall Vol. 1. Todd Klein on Dark Horse Presents #26.

* not sure exactly what these are, but they're cool-looking.

* here's a rare review of a comics presentation of the kind that are becoming more and more standard these days.

* that is a super-fun animated gif featuring a giant strip being created by Max Rodrigues.

* Rich Warren profiles the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum for the Chicago Tribune, which I'm told is still the King of the Midwestern Newspapers.

* Paul Gravett previews the Comics Unmasked exhibit going up at the British Library in early May by calling attention to the unveiling of a Jamie Hewlett image. Gravett's the only person that can routinely do smart preview articles and post articles about his own activities without it seeming smarmy. There are grander superpowers, but I'm not sure in today's world there are many more useful.

* Gina Gagliano has some suggestions on how to submit manuscripts to a publisher.

* Mark Bosworth profiles the great Tove Jansson.

* Richard Bruton recommends a comic by Kate Leth.

* finally, Joseph Remnant draws a block of downtown Dayton. Guy Delisle draws one of these things whatever they're called, that you put in a book to mark it as a special or directed edition.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Richard Pachter!

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photo provided by the writer for this use
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Patrick McDonnell!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 16, 2014


Go, Read: Gigantic, Image-Drenched Post From Dr. Michael J. Vassallo On Atlas Comics' Menace #1-11

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One of the very best things on the comics Internet.
 
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Twenty-Five Things About 2014 On Its 75th Day

Today is the 75th day of 2014. Here in brief are some things I think may be true about the year so far.

image* The book of the year so far may be Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet.

* The comic book series of the year so far may be Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.

* The on-line comic of the year so far may be The Nib, edited by Matt Bors.

* None of those three works will hold those same positions on December 31, and at least one will be near-forgotten.

* Too many comics people will spend more time and energy to attend conventions and festivals than they will spend to secure health insurance they don't yet have. Some of them will make money at these shows; some won't.

* The on-line social/community component to comics has become highly balkanized and even customizable; yet in many ways people feel more strongly than ever that they're interacting with the entire world.

* We still talk far too frequently of companies becoming hugely successful with creators benefiting as an assumed positive side result, and far too infrequently of creators becoming hugely successful with companies benefiting as an assumed positive side result.

* Image's recent success may be as simple as the publisher providing the best deal that many of its creators can secure in order to do the things they want most to do.

* Not yet three years in, DC's 2011 relaunch is still severely lacking in terms of developing compelling characters distinct from their former iterations.

* That last big Marvel event series felt a bit like a DC event series.

* Twitter allows some people to feel connected to comics 24/7, which is all they ever wanted.

* There are enough creators that believe DC has dropped the ball on getting material developed into other media to cost DC some creative relationships.

* There are enough creators that believe Marvel has dropped the ball in terms of their book program to cost Marvel some creative relationships.

* A lot of people really, really love Bill Watterson, to an almost alarming degree.

image* A lot of people really, really want the best for Stan and Sharon Sakai.

* A significant percentage of reviews and pieces of criticism are gushingly positive, and there are critics that practically -- or in reality -- write nothing but positive pieces. This, despite the perception that the critical apparatus is so negative as to be completely out of touch.

* We don't talk about writing in comics, either.

* The strength of comics' non-sales infrastructure will catch up with the talent pool before the strength of sales across the board and down the lists does.

* It looks like neither extreme view of manga sales formed more than a decade ago in a thousand blustery jeremiads turned out to be true. Imagine that.

* We still ask way too many people to work for free or for diminished rates, and we're too quick to support those that do so as if they're not exploiting their talent.

* A downside of giving people money for art ahead of time is that they may not come through with what they promised you in return. If part of that money changed hands due to a pre-existing, positive feeling, a change in expected outcomes may have an effect on those feelings. Or, one may find that enough positive feelings existed for a mixed or even additionally positive reaction to the new situation. None of these outcomes are a sweeping indictment of anything, and don't as concepts to explore form the basis of intriguing art.

* Even with an expanded view of what consitutes editorial cartooning, we still don't have a lot of good ones.

* Trying to improve an industry or an arts community without first being self-critical is like trying to improve the mood on a road trip by skipping showers.

* We can do better by creators past and present in part because we have and we do.

* I'm probably wrong about a lot of this. Not the one you're thinking, though.

*****
*****
 
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This Ruppert & Mulot Cartoon Made Me Laugh

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Go, Look: Yumi Sakugawa

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Go, Look: A George Tuska Covers Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: Weary

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Go, Look: A Small Gallery Of Barry Windsor-Smith Original Art

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Go, Look: The Invisible 6

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If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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Happy 57th Birthday, Steve Lafler!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Todd McFarlane!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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FFF Results Post #371 -- High Concept

On Friday, CR reader were asked to "Describe A Comics Character You Like In Five Words Of High Concept Speak." This is how they responded, even though a lot of people fudged it.

*****

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Christopher Keels

1. My
2. Favorite
3. Martian
4. meets
5. Dragnet

(J'onn J'onzz, Manhunter from Mars)

*****

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Dan Morris

1) Warped
2) Lang's Metropolis
3) Patrolled
4) by
5) Dirty Harry

(Judge Dredd)

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Cartoon
2. Everyman
3. Meets
4. High
5. Fantasy

(Fone Bone From Bone)

*****

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Dave Knott

* Mythic
* Hero
* Navigating
* Modern
* Society

(Hercules from "Hercules Amongst The North Americans")

*****

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Scott Dunbier

1) Comics
2) Kid
3) Golden
4) collects
5) Age

(Supersnipe)

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Dali
2. and
3. Joyce’s
4. four-alarm
5. vaudeville

(Smokey Stover)

*****

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David Robertson

1. Superhero
2. with utility belt
3. and catchphrase ("Ut!")
4. and flippers
5. and flaming carrot for head.

(The Flaming Carrot)

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Zany
2. Accidental
3. Hero
4. in
5. Longjohns

(Captain Klutz)

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Yuppie
2. Snake Plissken
3. Becomes
4. Freegan
5. Beast-Messiah

(Ravage 2099)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Vigilant
2. Vietnam
3. Veteran's
4. Vicious
5. Vendetta

(The Punisher)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Girl
2. Next
3. Door
4. Is
5. Psycho

(Betty Cooper)

*****

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RJ Casey

1. Oblivious
2. Oaf
3. On
4. An
5. Outing

(Fred the Clown)

*****

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Evan Harrison Cass

1. Thomas
2. Magnum
3. meets
4. Jason
5. Blood

(Markham - Faerber/Guglielmini's NEAR DEATH)

*****

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Randy Clark

* Disguise
* Terrorizes
* Superstitious
* Cowardly
* Criminals

(Batman)

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Which
2. One
3. Of
4. You's
5. Larry?

(The Badger)

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Cagney
2. Plays
3. The Monster
4. With
5. A Heart-of-gold

(Ben Grimm, The Thing)

*****

thanks to Christopher Keels for the suggestion; in a grumpier week I would have eliminated a few for not following the word number rule, but it's not like I was really coloring in between the lines

*****
*****
 
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March 15, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


X-Ray Spence


James Smith On It's A Draw


Bob Mankoff At SXSW
via


Gerald Scarfe Speaks


Heidi MacDonald's Library Of Congress Address


Adam Zyglis Wins The Berryman
via
 
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CR Week In Review

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

1. Djamel was acquitted by an Algerian court over unpublished cartoons that were so completely within the boundaries of truth-telling newspapers ought to consider hiring the cartoonist as their resident psychic.

2. Mattel wins summary judgment over Donald Glut over Masters Of The Universe property. At issue were comics created in conjunction with the property's launch.

3. Dave Sim starts a Patreon campaign in support of his Death Of Alex Raymond book, the second time the self-publishing pioneer has embraced an on-line crowd-funding mechanism.

Winner Of The Week
Ghanem

Losers Of The Week
The people at his own newspaper that turned Ghanem in. What an odd thing to do to one of your own people.

Quote Of The Week
"It is hard enough just being alive, just living and trying to be a decent person without being overwhelmed by shame and guilt and the demands of the world; the last thing we need is someone who got a few extra pulls of the handle at the cosmic slot machine telling us we’re doing it all wrong. If there is something we should aspire to, it certainly cannot be a position from which we look upon ordinary people, people no less miraculous but perhaps just a little less lucky than ourselves, as a lesser form of life." -- Leonard Pierce

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Good Luck To All Of Those Attempting To Secure CCI Badges Today

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Because of the preparation involved, this is no more a call to attention for those that wish to attend than it would be for me to announce the first day of an Olympics to participating atheletes, but it's always a story to track and follow how smoothly this process goes.

There's still no other event out there where demand for participation leads to such frequently recurring potential bottlenecks -- SPX has had its exhibitor application drama the last couple of years, but that's been moved to a lottery system. I do wonder if they hadn't locked down CCI by keeping it in San Diego and were otherwise structurally able to handle it at any size how big the event would be right now. Two hundred thousand? Three?

I hope to see as many of you down there as possible.
 
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First Week Winds Down, Second Gears Up At Sakai Auction

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I won't run two notices on this auction to benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai on a regular basis, but after this morning's update I noticed that those were coming to an end and a second round had gone up. This next week includes Darwyn Cooke, Craig Thompson and Gene Ha (whose piece is seen above). I hope if you're able you'll consider a late bid on the first batch or an early one on the second.
 
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If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Scott Kurtz!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Alex Segura!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Ger Apeldoorn!

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Happy 50th Birthday, John Nee!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 14, 2014


Go, Look: The Flying Fool

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* I like the strategy that Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover and Monkeybrain are employing with their series Bandette in providing free shorts featuring Tobin working with sympathetic artistic talent. Here's the latest.

* you should keep an eye on the Table Titans kickstarter if you want to see a crowd-funder with a range of stretch goals and further inducements to participate. It may sound dumb for some of you that I point this out, but I was talking to a cartoonist yesterday that didn't know this secondary reward system was a part of so many crowd-funders now. Congrats to them for making their first set of goals in the first few days, even though I can't imagine anyone would have bet against it.

* another one to watch will be how the Stripped film gets rolled out in various way through various sites and to various customers. For instances, this tweet indicates a physical disc being available early next month. My e-mail tells me the movie will be shown in Los Angeles on March 26. Many folks will like pick it up via iTunes, or in a way they decided upon through supporting the crowd-funders.

* via Gary Tyrrell I read this post and comments thread about Patreon specifically and raising money for art in patronage-style ways more generally. It's a fine reminder that traditional strategies for crowd-funding simply aren't for everyone, and that there's something nice as well about the old way of doing things for a lot of artists. The fact that I just wrote that last sentence and some people will see that as an attack on crowd-funding kind of clues you in to the personal investment have in these strategies in and of themselves, so I applaud the discussion. That said, I would say that there are likely many ways to approach these tools that should diminish some of these fears, right? Like if you're worried that you'll disappoint people by not producing in some months, you can set up a project for payment by project. At least I think you can do that. Of if you're worried about having to make promised work, complete the work first. But by all means let's talk. A quarter-century ago when self-publishing was offered up as a viable alternative to releasing your work through a publisher, there was a lot of similar rhetoric in the air in a way that I don't benefited the creators involved.

* Image offering up a digital sale on a pair of its science-related adventure comics for 3.14 is cute.

* since last week I finally changed my comixology password, as they requested after someone gained access to some of their non-financial user information. It went not smoothly on my own, super-smoothly when I talked to someone that helped me out. I haven't heard any complaints, really.

* this person is walking their way through 30 days of the Marvel Unlimited service offered up at deep discont during SXSW for the first month. It's funny, but I hadn't thought about whether a purchase was worth it. It just seemed to me like something you'd want if you had a place in your life where access to that many comics made sense -- like a long commute, or a research project, or just a personl desire to read a bunch of Marvel comics -- or you didn't.
 
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Go, Look: Leslie Stein Draws The Superheroes

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well, three of them, anyway: 1, 2, 3
 
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Go, Read: Brief History Of Marvel's Music Comics

I enjoyed this article about Marvel doing comics with various musicians and musical acts in the early 1990s. It's one of those articles that professes to be weird but is also actually weird in several parts, which is a rare thing: there are musical acts and comics creators listed in close proximity I can't imagine would be placed near one another in any other context. I enjoyed Larry Reid's cameo, too.

One thing that occurred to me while reading it is that it does underline how much of Marvel's pre-movies push for widespread cultural relevancy -- a push that drove what happened within the industry during that decade and into the next one -- was doomed by a simple inability to market to their intended audience and a kind of underlying, ongoing miscalculation that doing one thing very well meant do a lot of things very well. It wasn't a company that knew where its value was. The other thing that struck me is that we live in a time where if this were attempted now, there would be a greater chance for this material to catch on and it would actually matter less if it did. There's greater value to some of these moves distinct from bottom-line units sold in our current business climate. Even in this case, I wonder if working with some of these companies even unsuccessfully made it easier for Marvel a decade later to forge some of the licensing partnerships that have been a big part of its post-2000 surge.
 
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Go, Look: John Byrne Draws Space 1999

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Lynn Johnston Makes Donation To Library And Archives Canada

There's a little post here at Sequential about Lynn Johnston making a donation to Libary and Archives Canada, which I guess already houses a bunch of that material. I actually think this is a really good thing, and I'm particularly pleased that Johnston has found a partner that wants her archival and supporting material. It would be very easy for us to make a societal choice that certain kinds of historical material aren't valuable and to disregard them altogether. In many cases, that's the choice we make, and I think the overlapping cultures involved are poorer for it. I also assume that insitutions like this love to get more material; it's what they do.

I wanted to call attention to this post both for news of that donation and to put into further circulation the idea that all comics-makers will hopefully give a thought to the eventual home for their papers, supporting material and art. That doesn't mean a library donation, necessarily, and it might not mean any sort of donation right now; it might just be designating someone in your family that you want to take charge of everything when you pass away. Anything you can do in this direction is a good thing, I think.
 
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If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Superheroes Lose

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is your semi-occasional reminder to go and vote for the Eisner Hall Of Fame.

image* Matt Derman on various comics released in 1987. Whoever does Longbox Coffin on The Dormitory. Richard Bruton on Atomic Sheep. Sheaenon Garrity on The Cattle Raid Of Cooley and About A Bull. Rob Clough on the works of Josh Simmons.

* not comics: Johanna Draper Carlson reports in from the odd world of licensend tie-in writing or however it shoudl be called, the making-somewhat-official of certain kinds of fan fiction writing written according to specific parameters. I always thought something like this might work for someo fot he odder properties at the Big Two comics companies, so I've tried to pay attention. I think I'm less convinced that it could work now.

* Julia Wertz is seeking an intern.

* Leonard Pierce's long piece about Zen Pencils is worth reading, particularly if you dig into it for the insights into the cultural idea being developed as opposed to an attack against which certain folks need to be defended. In other words, I think it's interesting to figure out how art like that may work, and what it may be saying. I find the works I've read from that cartoonist banal, crudely executed and almost nonsensical, but certainly it triggers something in people so that they react very strongly and positively to what that person has to say.

* finally, Noah Van Sciver talks about the importance of Robert Crumb.
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Steve Bissette!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Tom Batiuk!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Brian Walker!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Simon Fraser!

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Happy 48th Birthday, JP Stassen!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 13, 2014


Go, Look: Classics Illustrated Covers Gallery

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Reminder: Eisner Awards Submission Deadline Is Monday

As noted here. So get those things in the mail yesterday, if you're applying.
 
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Go, Look: Random Golden Age Comic Book Covers

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this weekend it's a sizable show in Kansas City, and a traditional 'zine show in Chicago. Among ]. I'm starting to see folks gear up big-time for their first Spring shows, like Emerald City and LineworkNW and SPACE and MoCCA, particularly the first and last on that list. Fumetto and PIX and MegaCon are all in the next few weeks, too.

* in case you missed it, here is the art from special guest Fiona Staples that SOI/MoCCA will be using to promote and support next month's MoCCA Festival. Staples was a really smart choice for them, I think.

* a show called Project Comic Con in St. Louis, tentatively schedule for mid-September, has been cancelled. It hadn't made my list of forthcoming shows yet, so I don't know a thing about it.

* creators are starting to post their individual convention plans for the Spring season. For instance, here's Shaenon Garrity with what she has planned for Emerald City. If you're going to a show, and in particular if you're going to a show to meet specific people, you might start checking out individual sites if you aren't already.

* finally, you should double-check on your passport if you're heading overseas for any of the Spring events.
 
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Go, Look: Groovy Creig Flessel 1970s Newspaper Art

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Go, Bookmark: Today In Comics History

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Justin Crouse on 47 Ronin. Kelly Thompson on Velvet #4. Richard Bruton on London Horror Comic #6.

* not comics: this is a point I never considered before about journalism, although I think the primary calamity is that there are so few roles we allow journalists to play and that there's a sameness to the quality of journalism as a result. Reading the source article, I also actually think Matt Taibbi is wrong about there not being an avenue for people to connect with personal voices in journalism, and thus feel their outrage. I think that's been thoroughly co-opted, too. We have a lot of very colorful, outraged personalities practicing journalism now, and a lot of it is satirically brilliant -- and almost none of it matters. I don't think we need a revival of Spy-type presentation as much we need people to develop more Matt Taibbis; I never responded to his personal outrage or my sense that I knew him when he was at Rolling Stone, I responded to his prose and reporting.

* Chris Arrant Talks to Evan Dorkin. Here's Dorkin on that interview.Vijay Vanniarajan talks to Neil Gaiman. Zainab Akhtar talks to Koh Hong Teng.

* it is shameful that there aren't more female editorial cartoonists and that there aren't more winners of the top half-dozen (or so; there are more than two) major awards among the female editorial cartoonists we have. Still, I think it's a bit unfair of this article to slam the Herblock Foundation using the Pulitzer's track record for the weight of the argument. I also think the case for more female winners is made weaker by listing so many cartoonists, with vast differences in career output and displayed skill, as if they're all deserving -- or were deserving -- of a major prize. I think one great thing about Jen Sorensen's win is that it seems to come at exactly the time in her career she should start being up for these major awards.

* finally, J. Caleb Mozzocco tracks appearances of Cerebus in Jimmy Gownley's The Dumbest Idea Ever.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Andrew Weiss!

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Happy 61st Birthday, RA Jones!

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Happy 93rd Birthday, Al Jaffee!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Marc Sumerak!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Mike Sterling!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 12, 2014


Tom Medley, RIP

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Go, Look: Esteban Moroto Draws A Dracula Story

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Missed It: Canadian Newspaper Apologizes For Nazi Cartoon

Alan Gardner over at Daily Cartoonist caught a story that I completely missed. A paper called the The Advocate in the small town (3500 people) of Pictou, Nova Scotia, ran a cartoon bluntly comparing the proponents of an economic plan to Nazis. I followed the links and could not get to the full apology, which is too bad because I was amused by the excerpts.

When people apologize for the use of Nazi cartoons they always seem to apologize as if they accidentally brought up Nazis at a party whose host had an uncle they didn't like that happened to be a Nazi. I would imagine that what people find offensive about using Nazi imagery to make political points isn't that they just don't get that there's a satirical point being attempted, it's the insanity of providing a public imprimatur on a crude equivalency between whatever policies the "satirist" doesn't like and actual Nazi polices, which included exterminating entire groups of people. As someone who's been on the Internet since the early '90s, I certainly even understand using the Nazis or Hitler as an abstracted super-evil to test out a rhetorical point that aspires towards absolute truth and utility, as strained and goofy and tedious as that can be. This is something different. It's not the reader that fails to pick up on the satire; it's the maker that fails to understand it.

It's also amazing to me that a town of 3500 people has a newspaper with cartoons in it. God bless that town and that newspaper.
 
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Go, Look: Wordless Virgil Partch

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Missed It/Bundled Extra: BOOM! Studios Signs First Look Deal With Cartoon Network

I thought this was an effective write up on BOOM! inking a first-look deal with Cartoon Network on comic book versions of their various properties. I assume that it's exactly what it sounds like, that they'll get first shot at any promising-in-comic-book-form projects that the network puts on the air. Apparently, the first book to emerge from the deal is Steven Universe. As noted, BOOM has done well wtih a bunch of related media properties, including a number of animated series, primarily Adventure Time.

I still have a knee-jerk red state reaction to exclusive deals of any kind, as deep down I believe the optimal outcome for the consumer will likely result from a number of players having their shot at making something. Still, I get why they exist and I certainly understand it here, and not just from the obvious angle that BOOM! benefits by having access to these popular kinds of series with which they do well. From the other side of things, I would imagine such a deal means there's less to worry about: you don't have to take on the the administrative work of accepting a bunch of different pitches property to property or trying to find the exact right marriage of property and publisher based on projections and possibilities. It's the same principle involved with how some people will sign for an entire series with a publisher and others will go issue to issue, perhaps bolting for perceived greener pastures. Those benefits are mitigated by the extra work involved and the potential for risk. I guess what it comes down to is that there are different ways of doing things. At least in this case there is a past-performance standard involved; this isn't about corporate synergies throwing strangers or curious partners together.
 
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Go, Read: Zainab Akhtar's International Women's Day Picks

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So I Went To Comic Book Store Yesterday

I don't go to comic book shops as often as I'd like, but there are about 20 in about five cities day-trippable from where I live. I went to one of those cities and one of those stores yesterday. I found it an interesting experience. Some quick notes.

* this was a very nice mall-type shop, actually two spaces -- a shop set-up and a gaming/entertainment area with tables next door. I've seen that kind of set-up a lot out west, actually, way more than in the East, although that could be a post-recession thing where you can expand into a bigger retail space without a lot of signficant penalties in terms of high-demand retail space rental costs gumming the works. In other words, it wasn't the greatest comic shop, but it was as clean and presentable as any candle shop or office supply store I've visited in a strip mall. I would be happy to call a space like that my local LCS; I love all the comics shops, and I've shopped in and love some shops that were a thousand times less presentable. I would send my mom here.

image* having said that, they did not have a lot of new comic books. They had two racks with about 75 comics showing face front, total. Some of those were months old. Like some of the other smaller comics shops I've been into, they did not carry the full Marvel and DC lines, even. Not even close. All of the books that I had in my head to look at that I hadn't seen yet, like all the new Marvels starring secondary characters like Moon Knight, they were not available. No Hawkeye. No Saga. I found this interesting not in judgment of what a store wants to carry, because that is a tough gig and I don't think you can carry everything and people who want to get in retail should be able to do whatever they want without me voting on it. I found it interesting, though, for the fact that I walked in with like a mental checklist of books I could buy based on what I knew was out there and I had that list slapped out of my mental hands about 45 seconds after I got to the store. I don't know if that's digital's role or what, to be that place where we know for sure things will be on sale.

* there were a lot of Avengers and X-Men books there, and I don't see Marvel comics very often so that seemed like something I could buy. I was very confused by them when it came to making actual shopping decisions. They all have very specific names, and they all kind of cross over into one another, so it was hard for me to connect what I knew in my head about some title names, some basic plot points and a few creative teams into actual comics for purchase. I don't think there's anything wrong with mainstream superhero comic books adopting a BBC series strategy where they relaunch and renumber books so frequently, but it gets confusing in that they're constantly recasting these series from a general, network pool and then changing the names of each series a bit -- even ones that directly relate to one another. I think you have to be in a really specific and practiced mindset to negotiate a comics shop right now, maybe more than ever to have a deep buying experience there. It's fascinating that elements of the shopping experience have become more baroque even as so many comics are now selling legitimately and well to an audience of people that will never be hardcore buyers.

* the staff people on hand couldn't answer a couple of my questions, like which X-Men series might have art by Stuart Immonen, and why some of the comics were pulled from the new comics rack and displayed in a different part of the store kind of own their own (I was just curious as to whether they were the owner's picks or something). The two people working the store had no idea. They were very nice, though, and as someone who shopped at at least one store without a cash register, I'm always happy to see a credit-card set-up the way most have them these days.

* the prices on back issues of the collectible variety -- as opposed to the deeply discounted bargain bins -- seemed a bit inflated compared to what I see for similiar comics in New York and Los Angeles and certainly on-line from Denver and Texas. I don't know if that reflects regional markets, or maybe what a source out there tells one group of people or another their comics are worth. Again, this is something I've seen a lot between the coasts, a very 1989-seeming approach to back issues.

* bagging and boarding new comics seems weird to me considering that one might want to look at the interiors before buying, but I guess maybe some stores don't want folks to do that.

* I bought a couple of Sam Humphries-written superhero comics, a couple of issues of Avengers comic with Kang The Conqueror on the front cover, and some Charlton comics with Steve Ditko and Pat Boyette stories. I spent about $15. It was a good experience, overall, and I'm very jealous of anyone that has a comics shop in their town.
 
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Go, Look: Thrilling Comics

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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.

*****

OCT130050 47 RONIN HC $19.99
I've only read a little bit of this Mike Richardson/Stan Saki collaboration, but the 47 Ronin story is one of the sturdiest of all the frequently-told stories out there and I enjoy Sakai's work and this is a rare non-Usagi project. With money being raised for Stan and Sharon Sakai due to their being caught in a deeply unfortunate healthcare-related crisis, I have to imagine it's a good time to go ahead and buy all the works of his you want.

imageJAN141479 COMICS ART HC $35.00
This is on my bedside as we speak. Paul Gravett is one of the great non-creators in comics over the last half-century, and his books are always tastefully assembled -- it doesn't get much more tasteful in comics than a detail from a Joost Swarte illustration, like this cover -- and offer insights into work that I had barely considered.

DEC130477 AIRBOY ARCHIVE TP VOL 01 $29.99
I would very much pick this one up because I've seen almost no Hillman work and what I've seen is frequently crude and wild. Update: Whoa, wait, I'm told this is actually the 1980s revival material. My bad. I did read a bunch of that stuff when I was a kid, and have no memories of it at all. I'm sure it's solid 1980s indy/mainstream crossover stuff, though, and I like that plane. I'd be more discouraged by my error, but I'm just glad to find out people still read this column.

JAN140137 BEASTS OF BURDEN HUNTERS GATHERERS ONE SHOT $3.50
JAN140126 ABE SAPIEN #11 $3.50
JAN140605 MINIMUM WAGE #3 (MR) $3.50
OCT130604 INVINCIBLE #109 $2.99
JAN140623 WALKING DEAD #123 (MR) $2.99
DEC138410 BLACK WIDOW #2 2ND PTG NOTO VAR ANMN $3.99
DEC138470 BLACK WIDOW #3 2ND PTG NOTO VAR ANMN $3.99
JAN140768 BLACK WIDOW #4 $3.99
JAN140669 CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 ANMN $3.99
JAN140815 DAREDEVIL #1 75TH ANNIV BY ROSS POSTER $8.99
DEC130741 HAWKEYE #17 $2.99
And here we get into serial comic books, of the mostly adventure genre kind. A couple of costume-less exceptions near the top from a trio of veteran hands: Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson with the latest of their charming pet/mystery/horror series Beasts Of Burden; Bob Fingerman with a third issue of his new Minimum Wage series. As expected there's a Mignola-verse title, Image has its two big Robert Kirkman heavy-hitters putting issues on the stands this week: his Walking Dead with Charlie Adlard, (which has to be either right at the end or right before the end of this war storyline) and the always slightly undervalued Invincible, with Ryan Ottley. The latter is one of those periods where the sprawl of the series allows Kirkman and Ottley to kind of work something long-simmering to the forefront with superheroically dramatic results. The Black Widow, Captain Marvel and Daredevil are all part of this latest attempt by Marvel to launch and re-launch comics characters just below the probable hit horizon. I like those comics because at least I can understand what a comic is when it has a character's name on the front cover. I would assume that the aspirational model for a lot of these books is Hawkeye, which has an issue out this week as well. By aspirational I mean that its offbeat take has drive sales success, provides a contrast on the stands, has kept vital talent working for the company and has developed the various properties involved in an appealing way that could be tapped by future film and TV makers. I like those whenever I see them.

JUL131243 ACG COLL WORKS ADV INTO UNKNOWN HC VOL 06 $47.99
AUG131420 ACG COLL WORKS FORBIDDEN WORLDS HC VOL 05 $47.99
DEC131249 HARVEY HORRORS CHAMBER OF CHILLS SOFTIE BOXED SET $109.99
AUG131421 HARVEY HORRORS CHAMBER OF CHILLS SOFTIE TP VOL 05 $24.99
DEC130964 ILLUSTRATED BRITISH CLASSICS TP LOST WORLDS & HOLMES $28.99
DEC131252 ROY THOMAS PRESENTS PLANET COMICS SLIPCASE UNSGN ED $64.99
JAN141204 YOUNG ROMANCE BEST SIMON & KIRBY COMICS HC VOL 02 $29.99
I make a lot of jokes about the times I get confused with elements of today's comics market aimed at readers younger than myself, but that's really nothing to the confusion by and fundamental disconnect from I experience in regards to wave after wave of reprints of material 30 years old and older. I just have no idea who is buying this stuff, I really don't. From what's out this week, I liked the Young Roman book: I thought it was sharply designed and nicely produced, and it's hard to go wrong in terms of the general sturdiness of Simon and Kirby during this era. Still: So. Many. Books.

DEC130828 PEARLS BEFORE SWINE TP PEARLS FALLS FAST $18.99
Here's something you don't see every week: a current strip at one of those early periods of health, vigor and overall market strength releasing a new work in its primary book series into the market for what one assumes is mostly fans that follow it in other formats but also a few of us that don't catch up to newspaper strips at all until they're dropped into our laps in a way that might bruise our thighs. I would think Stephan Pastis the favorite for this year's Reuben.

imageDEC131191 DUMBEST IDEA EVER HC GN $24.99
This is Jimmy Gownley's autobiographical book about getting into the making of comics, which has turned into a career. I was not a comics-maker as a kid, but even I was excited by the notion that there was such a low threshold for participation in the art form at its higest level, or at one of the high levels, through serial comic book self-publishing. Heck, I still like that idea.

JAN141278 SMURFS GN VOL 17 LAZY SMURF $5.99
JAN141279 SMURFS HC VOL 17 LAZY SMURF $10.99
I am alway happy to see these Smurf volume, in a pair of format to match the range of destructive possibilities offered by their potential, primary audience. They're for little hands, too. These have been starter comics with me for some families where comics have become a big art for the kids in question, one they enjoy a lot. I enjoy these comics, too, generally.

DEC131164 STRANGER THAN LIFE GN CARTOONS COMICS 1970 - 2013 $35.00
I interviewed MK Brown on Sunday. I thought this book was swell, and it was way bigger than I imagined if you had asked me six months to think of how much work Brown has done. This is a hugely pleasant surprise of course, because so much of it is well-crafted and genuinely funny. If I could only have one book on this list this week, this would be the one.

DEC131212 TALES OF OSCAR WILDE COMPLETE HC SET VOL 1-5 $79.99
I'd have to figure out what I have in terms of the Oscar Wilde comics and what I don't and see what these look like in a shop, but I certainly want those comics to be a part of my permanent collection so I'm glad to see this released.

JAN141006 CITY IN THE DESERT HC VOL 02 SERPENT CROWN (MR) $24.99
I read the first of these and the cartooning is really interesting -- far ahead of the story, really, particularly in the designs. I'd love to stare at a second.

AN140528 STRAY BULLETS #41 (MR) $3.50
JAN140529 STRAY BULLETS THE KILLERS #1 (MR) $3.50
JAN140530 STRAY BULLETS UBER ALLES ED TP (MR) $59.99
This is a concluding series comic, a new series comic and a collection of the previous series including that issue #41 to catch you up if you haven't been following all along. I think that could be a very fruitful area for Image to explore, reconnecting still-young comics-makers to their abandoned or left-over-here titles and perhaps exposing them to the goodwill the company has generate by providing so many decent-selling comics from a reliable set of creators. It's the kind of thing where even if you don't know the creator, you're happy for the creator to have this chance with that particular work.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: A John Forte Drawn Western

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Go, Look: Humans Are The Only Animals

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is quite the enjoyable little comic that Tom Gauld tweeted out; starting your day with it is better option than a lot of day-starting things.

image* Todd Klein on Astro City #8. Chris Mautner on Wicked Chicken Queen. Greg Burgas on "Water Hole!" from Blazing Combat #3. That is one handsome comic. Mike Sterling on Trypto The Acid Dog #1. Jessie Bi on Pompeii. Matt White on cold-weather comics. Rob Clough on the comics of Jimmy Gownley. Sean Gaffney on One Piece, Vol. 70.

* what a great photo of LB Cole.

* any article that references Adam X The Xtreme is okay with me. It's more of a rambling comments thread wearing an article's wig and jacket, but that character is gold wherever.

* Heidi MacDonald talks to Ted Adams.

* can you feel the French comics theory fever building?

* wouldn't Steve Lieber be the best teacher?

* Sean Kleefeld writes about how learning more about the technical process of making comics made him walk back a criticism he had of cultural short-sightedness concerning a specific character.

* Stuart Immonen, wrapped up.

* oh, to drink a beer with a glorious Jim Woodring label on it.

* someone saw that I made a Zen Pencils joke on twitter and sent me a link to Abhay Khosla's game-over takedown of the cartoonist's work, from a year-end round-up. That is brutal, and it stands out because you usually don't see critics in the 50-and-under age bracket going after the general sensibility of a work. That was much more common in the late 1980s.

* Zac Thompson talks to Alison Sampson and Nathan Edmondson.

* Bully makes me laugh. Jaime Hernandez makes me stare. Roger Langridge makes me remember the 1990s. Jillian Tamaki makes me like Stoya.

* I don't really know how a Bhob Stewart piece on Howard Nostrand ended up in my bookmarks folder other than the general explanation that I'm so old I have a bookmarks folder, but I'm not going to complain about it being there. It's a fun piece, and Stewart was really good writing only-article-you-need pieces on artists like that.

* finally, Geoffrey Lapid takes a look at a single page from Daredevil #193.
 
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Happy 86th Birthday, Sy Barry!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Nathan Schreiber!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Graham Nolan!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 11, 2014


Go, Look: Anna Vaivare

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Djamel Ghanem Acquitted In Algeria After Delay

The cartoonist Djamel Ghanem was acquitted earlier today of charges related to cartoons criticizing Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Ghanem's lawyer talked to the press. Prosecutors had been seeking an 18-month prison sentence and a small fine. Where it got a little weird is that 1) the cartoon wasn't even published, 2) the case was officially brought against the cartoonist by his employer, the in-with-the-administration La Voix De L'Oranie. It was also odd in that unlike some lawsuits, this cartoon pointed out that Bouteflika was mulling over a presidential run despite being older and in ill-health... and the President did decide to re-run for president, is old, and is frequently and recently bedridden and sick. So it's not one of those cases where a specific, nasty charge or even a broad caricature was employed.

The cartoon would have appeared in late September last year. The article notes that self-censorship is rampant in Algeria, and no wonder.
 
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Go, Look: Arthur Suydam's Mudwogs Art

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Mattel Wins Summary Judgment Over Donald Glut On Dispute Over Masters Of The Universe Property

imageThe hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a concise write-up here springing from Eriq Gardner's Hollywood Reporter piece here about a district court providing a summary judgment in favor of Mattel over the writer Don Glut in terms of rights to the Masters Of The Universe characters. Glut wrote four small comics that provided backstory for the toy franchise back in 1981. He claimed that the material was licensed to Mattel, and that the company could not produce the work-for-hire agreement that would speak directly against these claims. For its part, Mattel provided other agreements pertaining to that line, pointed out Glut referring to the project that they believed confirmed his own belief they were work for hire, and noted the fact that Glut had never come forward to claim ownership over the last few decades.

As I recall, Mattel was the one that filed in order to clear the way for rights deals without the specter of Glut haunting any potential deals, after becoming aware that Glut was making claims to the property.

A written order is expected to follow the oral.
 
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Go, Read: Mike Dawson On Gender And Age And Toys

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Festivals Extra: Take A Moment To Mind Your Deadlines

With a big arts opening 10 days from now in Columbus featuring the works of Richard Thompson and Bill Watterson setting the stage, comics about to head into an intense April and May for comics festivals and conventions, followed by a busy summer.

If you're inclined to attend a few of these shows -- as a professional, as press or as an attendee -- maybe take five minutes today to see if you're meeting all of your deadlines to register and otherwise get yourself from where you are right now to the show and back again. Particular attention at this time should be paid to digging up your passport if you're a U.S. citizen heading to Canada for TCAF. You're not quite at the point where you'd have to do the super-fast passport registration, but you're getting there. So go put your hands or at least your eyeballs on all of this material before things get crazy.
 
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Go, Look: "You Should Give Josh Cotter A Job"

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very cute; from several years ago
 
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Bundled Extra: Zainab Akhtar Profiles Bastien Vives

Zainab Akhtar provides an introduction to the cartoonist Bastien Vives, who has somehow escaped major North American publisher investment despite having a range of titles in different styles that seems like they could have an audience here. I've always been a little confused, and I'm not sure if it's that the titles all fall in fallow places between the strengths of the individual North American publishers or if book to book they're not as strong as they're perceived to be or what. It is interesting that when folks started wondering if he would publish more extensively in North America the comparsion was Craig Thompson, and now it's more Lewis Trondheim just in terms of the range of work offered.

It's interesting to note that new work stopped appearing on the blog more than a while ago; this usually means migration to Tumblr, but I'm not seeing that, either.
 
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Always Fun To Look At A Set Of Esad Ribic Images

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By Request Extra: Dave Sim Starts Patreon Campaign In Support Of His Death Of Alex Raymond Book

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Here. I think that's a good work, and one I'd like to see completed. I also think whatever Sim chooses to do is interesting enough to note and whenever any of the veterans of the Self-Publishing Era 1985-2005 choose to work with on-line mechanisms, I'm there as well. This might be interesting in that Sim is creating it for a series from IDW that will run in 18 parts after it's all done -- this was announced last summer. If I'm reading the Patreon correctly he won't be paid until the series starts, so you're basically supporting work for which, I'm guessing, he will also be paid in the future -- which is a slightly different model than some of the webcomics stuff I've seen floated. I'm also not seeing specific rewards, so it is straight-up patronage, it looks like.

I would think that Sim's fan base is a fervent one, not particularly invested in so many comics currently being published they'd be spread too thin, and generally eager to see that very talented creator make work. I suspect he'll be well-supported.
 
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Ibis The Invincible, Ibis The Best

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the artist and cartoonist Tom Neely posted the cover image to the final Henry & Glenn Forever And Ever collection, and is offering some sales leading up to that publication, which should see its debut at SPX with an outside chance of copies appearing at Comic-Con International.

image* I think I've run material on a free comics publication for Denver; its second issue is imminent.

* Nate Powell marks the completion of one his many forthcoming projects, working from a script by Rob Venditti. Nate Powell is a machine.

* the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com notes more concrete plans for new Lone Wolf And Cub work released through Dark Horse starting this summer, and provides a few details on the omnibus editions of the already-published material.

* here's an excerpt from what I believe is the first of Uncivilized Books' focused comics criticism work, this one on Chester Brown.

* Viz Media announced its intention to publish Naoki Urasawa's Master Keaton. This was a late 1980s/early 1990s work done with Hokusei Katsushika and Takashi Nagasaki. It will start in December; 12 volumes planned. Full PR available through that link. Urasawa is a superior comics-maker, and all of his works are of interest.

* Impossible Books will be working with the nice StudyGroup people to get those works out there.

* Josh Cotter continues to chop wood in terms of getting a massive graphic novel project out there in the next few years.

* it is always a great pleasure when a new issue of s! comes out. Those are my favorite to receive in the mail.

* it's likely I will run this as its own "Bundled Extra" post, but in case I forget: here is the rest of Fantagraphics' 2014. I think they're off to a very strong start this year and I think they think so, too.

* Sean Gaffney walks his readers through more license acquisitions. I'm grateful for Gaffney because he covers a bunch of different manga works about which I was hearing very little, if anything at all.

* Alan Gardner writes he's heard that WuMo has moved back 300 clients -- which is really impressive -- and suggests that the Doonesbury may have be specifically helpful in helping that feature and some others get some try-out spots in newspapers around North America.

* an old post on Robert Boyd's arts-oriented site clues us in as to a new edition of The Cage has been released. You can scroll up for Boyd's endorsement of the work as it appeared in a previous edition.

* finally, Gilbert Hernandez is one of the great working cartoonists and everything he does is of interest. Certainly a second book with Drawn And Quarterly, Bumperhead is. Here is an image that looks cover-ready as well as a first few pages of comics.

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

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Go, Look: Li'l Abner #74

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Go, Look: Hang Dai Editions

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* ICAF Lent Scholarship information is up. John Lent is a mighty figure in the field of comics studies, and it would be a great honor to receive support in his name. When I would publish him in the Comics Journal 20 years ago, Lent routinely knew about specific cartoonists in countries I hadn't heard of.

image* Rob Clough profiiles Victor Kerlow.

* here's a nice list of creators working the mainstream-bleed-into-indy part of comics that one should know.

* I think because of the Brandon Graham ECCC poster this post about a Madman 20th Anniversary poster showed up in my bookmarks. I think I could have spent about four hours a day as a kid looking at pictures featuring some sort of comics or cartoon art and depicting a bunch of different characters.

* before you ask, here's that Graham poster. I like that Graham fixated on the convention center's escalators as the central physical-space identifier because I hadn't thought about it before but it's very true. The only place for which I have a stronger escalator imprint is the Water Tower Place shopping center in Chicago, which was sort of like retail Disney World when I was in single digits.

* Sean Gaffney on Insufficient Direction. Todd Klein on Green Lantern: New Guardians #27. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Wolverine And The X-Men Vol. 4.

* here's a mini-profile my NYT article allowance won't let me access about arguably the most important publisher in comics right now.

* not comics: part of me doesn't want to pay any attention at all to the WWE wrestling network because it seems like they should have done this years and years ago, but at the same time I have to imagine that Marvel and to a lesser extent DC are paying attention to any attempt to monetize something with a ton of existing media content like that... I could see it being a Marvel strategy six to eight years from now as they grind their way to a decent amount of broadcast material. All those toes are in the water in terms of generating support content and binding it to digital comics and animation expressions, too.

* hard not to fall in love with this short profile of a year in the publication life of JB Handelsman, one of the better New Yorker cartoonists of the hardcore William Shawn years and one of the few to flit successfully between multiple styles.

* I did not know about the comic or the fact driving the comic.

* so apparently you can download a lot of older comics for free. I don't know how I missed that article, which makes me think it's a re-posting of a super-old one, but I like the idea of this older material finding its way on-line into archives because maybe that will allow us ways archive material that is web-only.

* finally, here's a photo set from a college lecture given by one of our very best cartoonists, Kevin Huizenga.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, J. Caleb Mozzocco!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Lea Hernandez!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Simon Pierre Mbumbo!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 10, 2014


By Request Extra: Noah Van Sciver Art For Sale

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He's seeking a plane ticket to Charlotte for HeroesCon and the debut of his next book; these are nice pieces
 
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Go, Look: John F. Malta

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Rumor: The Strangest John Campbell Story I've Received Yet

So I've been told by a source I trust that the cartoonist John Campbell walked into a Chicago comics store with what may have been one of the non-distributed-after-he-made-them kickstarter books actually on fire and attempted to set a Chester Brown book on fire that was on the comic shop's stands. Campbell was apparently being filmed by someone with Campbell's phone; the story then goes that the person working the store defused the situation. The account continues that Campbell and friend left, against the store employee's desire they stay, with what may be footage we'll perhaps get to see.

I trust the person whose name is on the e-mail. I don't yet have independent confirmation -- an outside witness, or evidence in support. There's a chance this could all be an elaborate prank. I would not usually be open to being pranked in this matter, because I'd sit on the story until I heard more. This time I'm putting it out there because if it were my friend or someone I knew doing this I'd want to know immediately that it had come to this.

It goes without saying how not-acceptable and fucking bonkers -- not in an amusing sense where we're all delighted and entertained by the weirdness or happy to put some overlay of peformance art onto it but in a contemptible, what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-you sense -- walking into a bookstore with something on fire would be. So let's hope the story is not true.

I've had two friends at two different times in my life that lost their ability to function in public in a way that led to increasingly indulgent behavior, in ways similar to this. In one case things worked out so that nothing happened except a bunch of us remain mad at this person for being a self-indulgent asshole. In the other case my friend's behavior became more and more peculiar and he finally shot at a mutual friend and some cops and he will be in jail for a long while yet, not being a dad to his kids in the way he'd hoped and not being a part of society in a way that I never thought a possibility. So if this is a thing, I'd like to see this stop now. Let me know if I can help.

For what it's worth, the person that told me the story has as their sole expressed concern worry for Campbell.

And if it's not true, let me know that, too, and I'll delete this the next second and we can all go back to work.
 
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Go, Look: Alex Toth Storyboards

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1, 2
 
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Capital City Comic Con In Austin Eschews Part Of Promotional Campaign Featuring Giant, Heaving Boobs

Here for the apology. Here and here for write-ups on what happened. The story isn't that a convention did something stupid or that their initial defense was "hey, part of shows," or even that a lot of people are tired of this kind of thing -- people have been yelling at conventions to stop doing casually offensive stuff for decades now -- but that there is such an obvious mass of people that won't accept this in the audience now that this kind of acting out feels isolated in a way, it stands out a bit more than it did during the day where you could walk around and keep count Legolas Vs. Gimli at Helm's Deep style who saw more things you'd never expose your friends to that weren't acclimated to comics' pernicious, underlying misogyny. This isn't a now versus then thing in any other way, though, I should say; it was always wrong, and always made people feel uncomfortable. People that leer was never a market segment.

I will be interested to see how far this goes, as someone that has exactly zero interest in the playing-out aspects of cons, because I think there may be some conversation to be had over a lot of expresions at cons that aren't quite this open to slam-dunk criticism but are still things that might make some folks uncomfortable. It's worth keeping an eye on. I also wonder if the widespread availability of straight-up porn on the Internet has diminished the audience for sexualized mainstream entertainment to the point this has become a different conversation as well.
 
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Go, Look: Zodiac Layoff Spiral 2

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Go, Read: Reminder About The 1990s Winter Brothers Lawsuit

imageThere's a very short on-line article here that's little more than a reminder that the Winter Brothers once sued the makers of a Jonah Hex comic (Joe Lansdale, Tim Truman, Sam Glanzman) over two parody characters called the Autumn Brothers that looked like the striking blues-rockers but in no way acted like them being a) living the Old West, b) running around shooting people and being creepy and monster-like. As the article notes, it was earlier work using the same Jonah Hex character that instigated the comments by Harlan Ellison in his TCJ interview about writer Michael Fleisher which in turn led to the lawsuit Fleisher brought against Ellison and the magazine. That's fun trivia, although the circumstances are very different. The article also notes that DC eventually covered the legal defense of the creators through their insurance, after -- to my memory -- not doing so at first and having the CBLDF pledge to assist with the case in the vaccuum of that initial lack of support. The case eventually went in the direction of the parody, and thank God, because that case was shit-stupid. MAD Magzine would be public enemy #1 if this were reasonable law. (And of course, whether this is tasteful or not is a completely different issue.)

Where I'm a little bit confused is I don't know if DC Comics was ever sued along with the comics-makers and then just extended their defense to cover them, or if it was always and solely the creators at risk and DC extended their protection to them because that was the right thing to do. Does anyone out there remember? Because if it was DC being sued, I don't know why there was an insurance question or a question of the creators needing CBLDF support. If it wasn't DC being sued, we probably shouldn't call this case Edgar Winters Vs. DC Comics except in the broadest, most casual way. For one thing, the idea that you would sue creators and they might not be supported, that seems to me way more chilling than just lawsuits against companies, the same way that in other countries sitting officials suing editorial cartoonists is that much more horrible than papers getting sued, at least in terms of convincing people not to do things.

. I have to go to the vet and Charles Brownstein isn't at the office this morning. Was this a case of DC Comics being the named party in the lawsuit? Were they one of the named parties? Help me, Internet. I'm old and I can't remember the '90s.

Update: Michael Dooley, who wrote the article, sent me here. So DC was named as an actual defendant. Greg Stump, who covered for the Journal also contacted me to his memory aligns with mine that there was some discussion as to whether or not the contract might allow the company to attempt to put this on the creators, but that they did step up as remembered. I still think it's important to note that the creators were named as well, as that's far more terrifying for me, at least, to consider as a consequence than a company being sued in a way that might lead to restrictive policy. Not every company will step up.
 
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Go, Look: Daily Stalinski

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Missed It/Not Comics: Cartoonist Criterion Top Tens

imageI can't tell from the interface when these went up or which ones might be newer than others, it could be years now, but if you're like me and haven't seen any of them you might want quickly bookmark a few while I've placed it in front of you. Also, since we're talking about classic films when it comes to criterion, it's not like there's a sell-by date with any of these anyway.

You can start here or go directly to suggestions by Mike Allred, Kazu Kibuishi, Bill Plympton, Frank Kozik, Leanne Shapton, Jaime Hernandez, Seth and Scott Morse. I'm sure I'm missing one or two people straight-up and there are a bunch of friends-of-comics (Dave Filipi) and have-done-a-couple-of-comics (Anthony Bourdain, Patton Oswalt) people in there, too. Heck, you could certainly argue Shapton and Plympton's inclusions on that first run of comics-makers. Categories are tough, but movies are fun.
 
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Go, Look: Skin Deep

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Comics At SXSW = Deals, Deals, Deals

While I'm certain there are any number of digital happenings in Austin in conjunction with South By Southwest that may have a potential impact on comics, that market's digital players are making a certain amount of news by driving attention to their offerings through sales.

* comiXology is offering a SXSW Submit Starter pack until tonight for $10; that their small-press/self-publishing program, and there's more than enough stuff in the starter-pack to justify a $10 purchase if you are in any way inclined to look at non-hardcore-mainstream comics material on-line, ever. I would have purchased the Matt Bors book for $10 that way.

* Chris Sims reminds us that until midnight tonight you can also get to read multiple Monkeybrain-published comics for free. I very much like that company's Bandette comics, and I'm sure you can find others to complete your experience.

* in fact, it looks like comiXology offered a bunch of stuff Saturday that expires tonight, and you should probably just go to their twitter account and follow the links out if you're into getting free stuff (or access to free stuff, or however it should be stated).

* comic book publishing titan and licensing superhero Marvel is kind of re-orienting its digital offerings a bit more comprehensively in terms of making more support material and more bells-and-whistles on the actual comics themselves avaiable, and available more widely. In support of that they're offeirng an all-but-free month to their lots-of-comics-at-once digital package. I know a lot of happy adult superhero fans that buy this one for commutes to read comics on their iPads and the like, although my own exposure to their programs and their chosen interface is severely limited.
 
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Go, Look: Those Marvel Black Light Posters

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Bundled Extra: Mineshaft Releases 30th Issue Cover Imagery

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When a comics publication covers one aspect of the medium so much better than it's being covered elsewhere at that moment, the way Mineshaft has been covering the undergrounds and the first-generation alt-comics people influenced most heavily by the undergrounds, there's a tendency to see the publication as a place where those practitioners and their hardest-core fans go to high-five each other rather than as a place to encounter vibrant work.

I am not a natural reader for either of those two kinds of comics. The majority of comics I value the most came later, from mostly younger artists. I still find Mineshaft super-valuable in reminding me of a form of expression mostly lost as attention has drifted elsewhere. I also think that everything Robert Crumb decides to do and support to be at least a little bit interesting. Anyway, I really admire the independent, hard-won aesthetic of Mineshaft, what it finds valuable and the way it gives those artists a platform. I hope that you might try an issue to see if there's anything there for you, too. You can order here.

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Go, Look: A Butch Guice Mini-Gallery

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* it's true, the Stan and Sharon Sakai original art (and some other stuff) auctions are a go. I'l run a reminder every day at 2:05 AM my time. I hope you'll check in, spread the word, and if it's within your means, bid. You can also donate directly here.

* Mike Lynch would love for you to help support his blog. His blog is one of the foundational comics sites on the old-fashioned blog-oriented version of the Internet -- and still quite vital in the social media age. I wish I could give more than a few dollars, but maybe some of you will consider giving as well.

* PW Comics World now has a column on crowd-funding, where they throw the spotlight on a few projects.

* I missed that there's a new Robin Snyder fundraiser on behalf of a Steve Ditko project. That one looks like it will get there.

* Andy Runton is selling prints in support of his beloved dog.

* Alan Gardner puts in a word for the Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning.

* a few of you have sent me a link to this Tom Ward project, saying it looks nice enough that people might consider supporting it. The podcaster Kumar Sivasubramanian has a project up here that seems to be hitting the make or break period in reasonably confident fashion, but still needs the actual pledges to go from promise to reality.

* not comics: congratulations to the She Makes Comics documentary filmmakers on hitting their crowdfunding goals plus some.

* a kickstarter for a Warriors-related project is way past its initial goal. The latest Paul Jenkins and the WW3 Illustrated one are also past their goals and winding up.

* young Mat Calvert's crowd-funder doesn't look to be gaining much traction.

* finally, Team Inkstuds wants to go to New York. Or maybe they're looking longingly at Paris or Tokyo now, I'm not keeping up the way I should.
 
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Go, Look: Hemlock

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Missed It: Kiel Phegley Posted A CCA Pamphlet

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Linework NW has added a second special guest: Jim Woodring. He joins the previously announced Michael DeForge. That's a really nice choice: a formidable cartoonist that doesn't do a ton of shows and one that is good both signing and if there's programming, participating in programming. He's also on a to-die-for run of work right now.

image* Chris Randle on Beautiful Darkness in contrast to the television series True Detective. Some of the nice folks from Page 45 on some of the nice comics works out right now. Joshuaon on Ant Colony. Greg Burgas on The Demon #1. Rob McMonigal on Jupiter's Legacy #4. Josh Kopin on a bunch of new comic-book comics. Andy Oliver on Chronos Commandos Vol. 1. Robert Steibel on Black Panther. Ana Benaroya on On Loving Women. Richard Metzger on Son O' God Comics.

* here are some photos from the Gabrielle Bell workshop at SAW. I never know how to cover extended events and program like that, but what SAW does in terms of bringing people in seems like a really admirable, cool thing.

* that's a heck of a nice-looking FCBD book.

* I'm greatly enjoying this latest run of stylized-art comics from Leslie Stein.

* some Con Men interview Peter Bagge. Alex Behr talks to Chris Ware. Chris Arrant talks to Eddie Campbell. Vaneta Rogers talks to Peter Tomasi. RC Harvey profiles Eldon Dedini. Dan Berry talks to Sarah Glidden. Chris Sims talks to Tom Scioli and John Barber. Clay N. Ferno talks Will Eisner with Mike Mignola. James Guida profiles Tove Jansson. Calvin Reid talks to Gene Yang.

* Chris Sims talks about the rise of the X-Men. I agree with most of what he has to say, with our weakest area of agreement how much the international flavor of the cast really had an effect on how that comic worked with audiences. I think the fact they were mostly new characters was a big deal; I remember feeling like those characters were mine in a way that the members of the Fantastic Four and other charactersthat arrived in the 1960s weren't. I also think that Sims is super-correct that Cockrum was a really good designer and that John Byrne provided some really great art and I believe some story assistance on those comics. I'd have to re-read to see if the Cockrum stories were old-fashioned. The X-Men were also appealing underdogs in a way that you couldn't do 20 years later once hardcore fans wrapped their own egos around the actions of the characters, and I think when characters have longevity a period like that becomes strangely important, that they can lose their share of fights and not suffer for it. Anyway, Sims is always interesting to read when he provides a broader take on mainstream comics.

* here's a nice wrap-up of recent CBLDF institutional news. I'm glad to see Direct Market retailers supporting the Fund, and that auction they do at the ComicsPRO meeting every year seems to work well for both groups. The idea of brining in guest-editors for the Liberty Annual publications they're doing seems really smart, too, and I look forward to seeing what the well-liked Lauren Sankovitch puts together.

* these are many of the comics that Greg Burgas believes you should own. I imagine there are more than these, is all I'm saying, or the project is completed.

* finally, ZAPP Seattle has a new, dedicated web presence here.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Randy Chang!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Jason McNamara!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Troy Hickman!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 9, 2014


CR Sunday Interview: MK Brown

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*****

imageI don't think I'm going to be more surprised by a book during the rest of 2014 than I was by MK Brown's collection with Fantagraphics, Stranger Than Life: Cartoons And Comics 1970-2013. It's not that I didn't know she had made good comics over the year, but I was completely unaware that Brown made this much material. Stranger Than Life even leaves out a big chunk of National Lampoon material that could make for its own collection -- something I hope we see in the next couple of years.

There's no padding to Stranger Than Life. So much of it is so good. Brown has a natural feel for the kind of raised-consciousness-twist gags on which so much of the best panel cartooning depends after 1960, but she also has a unique sense of color and pacing and very sweet outlook on what people value and why that makes her longer narratives a joy. I spoke to her on a January morning, after spending a week with her collection and I was right up against the "Why are you awesome?" threshold. She took my questions and sometimes random-seeming praise with good humor; we laughed a lot, a little more than I indicate in what follows. I hope some of you will take a look at this book and find it as worth reading as I have. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: So how did you develop the book? Because what struck me when I first picked up Stranger Than Life is how much work is in there.

MK BROWN: Yes, there is. I know.

SPURGEON: Did you and your editor Gary Groth work together on what might be included?

BROWN: Initially I had planned on two separate books when Gary contacted me. He suggested one big volume and I'm glad he did. These are my favorite cartoons from most of the magazines I've been in, plus quite a few new ones. Putting them into categories was daunting, as you can imagine. I thought that the most generic categories would be best because the work itself is disparate. They are from the early '70s to present. It's quite a stretch.

SPURGEON: The Aunt Mary's Kitchen material wasn't included.

BROWN: That's another whole book. I put in one strip about the beginning of the Aunt Mary character, but including all related material would have been too much. There's the cookbook I did with MacMillan: Aunt Mary's Kitchen Cookbookwhich I use it all the time, as well as the color strips and the Lampoon Funny Pages series. That, I think, will be a nice volume.

SPURGEON: I assume that Fantagraphics was a supportive partner. Did you seek feedback from them? What about fellow cartoonists?

BROWN: Gary was responsive and helpful all the way through. The layout is basically my own and I scanned everything. I have most of the originals. I wanted to keep them for a show I'm planning for the end of this year. I bought a very nice Epson tabloid size scanner and was able to prepare everything here and make it presentable. Then I worked with Gary's production and design people, Paul Baresh and Tony Ong.

Bill Griffith and Diane Noomin were also very helpful with good ideas when they were visiting.

SPURGEON: How big do you work, MK?

BROWN: It varies, of course. The full-page cartoons are scaled up only a little, like 9 x 12. The image itself on the finished page would by 7 x 10. Not a huge amount of enlargement, but with a few inches of borders, they just too big for a small scanner. This larger Epson works very well for a big page, so it doesn't have to be spliced together.

SPURGEON: That's a chore.

BROWN: It sure is. I've done that before and it can look awful. I can never seem to get it quite right. [laughter] Never the same grade of white. Always a difference.

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SPURGEON: It's a lovely-looking book. Your work is visually sophisticated, and I think the book does a nice job of showing that off.

BROWN: Oh, good. Thank you very much. Where did you see it?

SPURGEON: I've just seen the PDF so far -- so we'll leave that as a caveat. If the printed version looks anything like the digital copy, you should be very happy.

BROWN: I am.

SPURGEON: I don't know all that much about your early years. There's a sense in your work of shifting styles. At various time you choose to present your work in different ways. And yet there's an underlying visual sensibility that connects a lot of what you do. There's not work that isn't recognizable as yours. For that matter, you seemed like a fully-formed cartoonist right out of the gate.

BROWN: I haven't thought about that so much. I've always been drawing or painting since I was little. My brothers and sister and I grew up always drawing. That was a normal way of looking at things for us.

And I always give myself a lot of leeway in whatever art form it is. Nothing to prove. Draw without fear.

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SPURGEON: When you started cartooning, you did a lot of work right away.

BROWN: Yes, true.

SPURGEON: So there must have been a way of cartooning into which you locked early on. Or was that just you experimenting on the page?

BROWN: There was a lot of experimenting. And though I loved Charles Addams and various cartoonists from the Canadian newspapers, I wasn't concerned with having a style. It was just a pleasure to have an art form that fit with my life.

This was when my daughter was a baby and I couldn't paint. We were living in a San Francisco apartment with no studio for me, or long stretches of uninterrupted time. I went into cartooning because it was a satisfying, challenging form I could handle.

I started sending out cartoons to little magazines like The Realist. They began buying them, and that was the first encouragement.

I was married to B. Kliban -- who did have a studio -- and had begun to sell regularly to Playboy. He kept urging me to send a few to Playboy, so I did and they actually bought some. That was extremely encouraging. Playboy, of course, has its own particular sensibility. My cartoons were more whimsical than sex oriented, so when I discovered the Lampoon, that made all the difference.

SPURGEON: You were at the Lampoon at a really good period for the magazine. They were killing it.

BROWN: They were. It was so intriguing. So inviting. They were intelligent and funny and dark, but not in a nasty way. Also, they bought everything I sent them. [laughter] which was great, you know. I felt I had found my magazine. That was the real beginning of my cartooning. [laughs] More than Playboy, though I'll always appreciate Michelle Urry at Playboy -- RIP -- and the magazine's care of originals, plus the decent payment for cartoons.

SPURGEON: Were you aware of the Lampoon before you started submitting.

BROWN: No. I remember the day I saw my first National Lampoon. Hap [B. Kliban] came home and said, "Hey, here's a new magazine! This is great." It was The National Lampoon. I looked through it and thought, "Okay. This is where I want to be."

Soon we were both selling to the Lampoon. They didn't know we were married. Neither did the people at Playboyuntil much later. I always kept it separate. We were sometimes both on the same page in the Lampoon, which was kind of funny.

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SPURGEON: You were actually working with a devoted cartoon editor at the Lampoon, am I right? You weren't just working with an art director; there was an editor assigned to that material.

BROWN: Yes. Sam Gross and Brian McConnachie were terrific. They were great. Shary Flenniken was also a fine editor, which was interesting as she was selling cartoons there, too.

SPURGEON: What little of your editorial interactions you've described elsewhere seemed like they gave you a lot of leeway. You'd say what you wanted to do and they'd say, "Go for it."

BROWN: [laughs] Yes, they did. Which was pretty rare. It was wonderful.

SPURGEON: Once you were in the Lampoon, did you feel like you fit in? Did you feel like you uniquely contributed? Do you feel like part of a group of fellow travelers with the other cartoonists they were publishing?

BROWN: Oh, yes. I really did. Lampoon had many, many phases as you probably saw. In the early years, it was more of a community. Not that I met many of the people from the magazine in person, I only went to the offices a couple of times, but I was always interested in other people's work.

imageSPURGEON: Did you have a sense of the readership at all? Were you getting feedback that way?

BROWN: Yes, I was, and it was a huge surprise. I received some really wonderful letters. It was a new thing for me.

On my book's dedication page I thanked Dick Daniels. He is a multi-talented artist in Kansas. He has a real eye. In the '70s, he started sending me incredible little gifts as a way to say hello. I'm looking at one right now on my shelf. It's a tiny house with a chimney, built from cardboard with drawn windows and brick detail, that he sent through the mail just that way with my address on the front of the house. [Spurgeon laughs] When you tilt the house, sparkles come out of the chimney. At the bottom is a trap door and inside are vintage cards with iconic images of '40s tricycles and buses and fans.

When the house arrived, hand delivered by the mailman up my 55 stairs, and obviously transported carefully all along the way from Kansas, I was astounded. I asked Hap, "Why did he send me this beautiful thing?" I remember Hap saying, "Because he really likes your work." And I thought, "Oh my God." [laughter] What was so encouraging is that I worried that no one would really think these cartoons were funny or truthful or really get the, um, stranger ones. Then to hear that somebody actually did was a giant relief.

SPURGEON: Looking at the work in Stranger Than Life, one thing I find interesting is that you're equally adept at these gag cartoons and with cartoons that are quite extended, particularly in the context of mainstream magazine publishing. That made me wonder how you develop an idea. For something that's four, five, more pages, what do you see in it that you think will work over multiple pages like that, as opposed to it being the kind of idea that can only stand a few seconds of time in front of an audience? Is there something about an idea that suggests one approach over another?

BROWN: Hm. I think so. A single panel would be an idea -- a single moment in the brain. I think of it as a statement, a curious fact, a flash of absurdity with truth behind it. The longer pieces often start with an idea I want to pursue. I don't necessarily see where it's going but it's interesting enough to continue. Plus, I want to know the ending.

The lovely part of working with Lampoon is that I didn't have to do roughs. I could often say, "Okay, I have four pages." And they would let it go and see what happened. I've done children's books that way, too. It's the best way to work, for me., at least that's my favorite way of working. Not that there isn't a lot of actual craft involved in making the spontaneous idea a finished piece.

SPURGEON: So do you write on the page?

BROWN: I do a pencil drawing, a very tight pencil drawing first. on layout paper. I let one thing lead to another and have the lettering pretty much scoped out... and the ending... and the in-between scenes-- It's complete, in pencil. And then I use a light table and transfer it lightly in pencil to hot press Strathmore, and ink it, then color, if called for.

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SPURGEON: The dream strips. The "White Girl Dreams" strip. It's almost an essay style you're using here. There aren't the hard progressions like with a comic strip narrative. Do you remember developing those, doing those?

BROWN: I do. [laughs] I had just finished an animation job for TV. Everything had to be scripted and nailed down, and I never knew how it would look until I saw it on the screen with everyone else. It was very, very difficult for me. This was my way of forgetting about TV. [laughs] It was doing something for myself.

I just let it start, and enjoyed having one drawing lead to another, one page to the next -- I didn't use pencil drawings for that one, It was ink from the start, on the expensive paper.

SPURGEON: A lot of your humor comes less from the quality of the drawing than the fact that a certain outlandish element is played against a conservative background. But you also have the capacity at any time just to make a funny drawing.

BROWN: I can't help it! [laughter]

SPURGEON: Is it pleasurable for you to draw that way?

BROWN: Oh, sure it is. Of course it is. I love to do that.

SPURGEON: Do you laugh at your own comics?

BROWN: Uh-huh. [laughs] I hate to admit it, but yes, I do. In fact, when I saw the book for the first time and went through it, trying to be objective, I thought, "Oh Lord, where did that come from?" [laughter]

SPURGEON: A lot of your work functions as satire, but I wonder if there are specific things you prefer to target when writing that kind of material, a particularly hypocrisy to which you're drawn. Is your work best understood as pushback against American conservatism of the '50s on? Is that tight-assed milieu a rich target environment for you? Do you feel like your work exists as a commentary on restrictive aspects of culture?

BROWN: Having grown up in conservative Connecticut, that kind of pushback did happen, especially at first. I don't know how my work is understood. I hope there is a quality that reaches out because, from my point of view, it's as truthful a commentary as I can make.

I don't necessarily want to say something explicitly, but I can use the medium to express it, metaphorically speaking.

In that sense, cartooning has been therapeutic. When something disturbs me I can do a cartoon about it. I can make it as funny or as horrendous as I want. It really helps and I recommend this to everyone, whether you can draw up to your own highly critical standards or not.

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SPURGEON: The anecdotal material you do... one that springs to mind is a story about your dentist. Is that an experience you've had? Or is that you developing a situation for comedic use?

BROWN: Well, it's both. I was upset with my former dentist. [laughter] Very upset. And with his Swedish assistant, too. I started that cartoon to make myself feel better, to change roles with my dentist and let him have it. Writing it, drawing it, with all the lurid details did, indeed, make me feel a whole lot better. Others seem to have identified with it also.

SPURGEON: Were you formally educated as a painter?

BROWN: Painting was my main interest in art school. That's still very much a part of my life.

SPURGEON: Is there anything you have to unlearn to work in cartooning after being trained as a painter?

BROWN: No. They're very different. They're both important, both hard to do. They both take a lot of skill. They are extremely pleasurable. They're just different.

SPURGEON: What is something that's hard for you to do in cartooning?

BROWN: Setting up the pages and getting the lettering correct. Laying it out. Also figuring out how something is going to end. Getting the writing correct -- eliminating unnecessary words. The practical part.

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SPURGEON: Your writing is very lean.

BROWN: Thank you.

SPURGEON: I imagine that might be the influence of the single-panel cartoons. That would seem to require the strictest control in terms of verbiage.

BROWN: You are right. The less words the better.

SPURGEON: Do you go back over comics and cut words?

BROWN: Oh, yes, very much so. It's necessary and feels good to condense. It reads better, too.

imageSPURGEON: When I told a friend of mine I was interviewing you, she made me promise I would try to get you to talk about color a bit. I would assume your painting background plays into your color sense. As you've worked with color for cartooning over the years, have you made any discoveries as to certain approaches that might work better than others? How much trial and error has there been?

BROWN: With painting, there are no limits. For cartoons or illustrations, I take into account how it's going to be reproduced. I prefer the clearest, brightest colors possible, then work with them.

For any printed material, the final color is sometimes going to be a little less vibrant than hoped for. Sometimes the Lampoonprinted on absorbent paper that wasn't coated, and the colors were compromised. This didn't happen often, fortunately, but now and then there were disappointing results. I had to plan ahead and make it as bright and as deliciously rich as possible, without being garish.

I've always used Windsor-Newton watercolors with my favorite palette developed over the years, for cartoons and for paintings with oils and acrylics. I guess I'm kind of stuck in that range of color. [laughter]

SPURGEON: Are there ways in which your cartooning hasn't stayed the same? How open are you to being influenced, both with color and more generally?

BROWN: In retrospect, and in a subtle way, Hap and I influenced each other at the beginning. He started crosshatching and adding more detail as I was doing, and I started simplifying, more like his drawings, which were generally in a clear strong line. We kept our own flavor, but there was a cross pollination.

As far as color goes, I don't remember ever seeing anyone's colors I wanted to emulate though I'm sure that happened a lot without realizing it. The palette I favor is a personal choice. It's very subjective --I just like these colors! [laughter]

SPURGEON: One of the nice things about your color work is that vibrancy; they look nice, above and beyond their ability to set a mood or establish a tone.

BROWN: Oh, good. Thanks.

SPURGEON: Like in your western section.

BROWN: "Western Romance." [laughs]

SPURGEON: That page in particular seems like page after page of stop-and-stare color imagery. There's one where she's stuffing a turkey and the apron and the hair and there's a calendar… You know, you said you found some of the work affecting when you returned to it, but was there any insight available to you by looking at that older work? "Oh, that's what was going on with me."

BROWN: Sometimes they are more revealing than I realized while drawing it.

I don't know what to say about that. I never wanted to do really personal things. And yet it all seems to come out in metaphor. [laughs] That's another story.

SPURGEON: Because of when you were working and the breadth of your career, one way people are going to look at you is as a woman cartoonist. You've spoken well of other Lampoon cartoonists and for your husband as an artistic fellow traveler; did you also relate to the other women making comics in your generation?

BROWN: Well, yes indeed. I really enjoyed meeting the other women cartoonists who were in Diane Noomin's books,Twisted Sisters. That was fun. We had a fabulous show of originals at La Luz De Jesus in Los Angeles. It was wonderful meeting all the other women cartoonists whose work I admired.

I never thought of myself first as a woman cartoonist. It's hard enough to do something funny and truthful while holding to a certain stance. I tried! But it never came naturally to me and I gave it up fast.

I sold a lot of work to womenSports and Mother Jones, but even so, they weren't particularly feminist cartoons. Luckily, Louise Kollenbaum was at Mother Jones then and defended me.

SPURGEON: Was "MK Brown" in part a screen for you to take gender out of how people were looking at your cartoons?

BROWN: It started at art school when I sent paintings to juried group shows. I found that when I signed my whole name I wasn't accepted as often as when I used my initials. It became a habit, of course.

SPURGEON: You didn't publish at National Lampoon throughout. You were an intermittent contributor.

BROWN: At the end in particular I dropped out. There were a couple of years... I'm not sure what was happening editorially, but it was something I didn't like, so I quit for a while. It was great while it lasted.

SPURGEON: You did go back for that '80s run.

BROWN: I did go back for a while. Occasionally the editors changed and hope returned.

SPURGEON: Was it noticeably different to work for at that time?

BROWN: Most of the editors who were there at the beginning had left. So it was very different. But it was a venue, a place to sell cartoons, and there weren't that many then. I hadn't sold anything to The New Yorker at that point. It was only later that a few were accepted.

imageSPURGEON: Do you feel like there's a place for you in an increasingly graphic novel-oriented world?

BROWN: I've thought about doing one, but the right idea hasn't struck. I have some ideas that are long-ranging, but whether I want to start such a project? I'm not sure.

SPURGEON: That seems like a strong through-line for your career, though, that you've pretty much done what you've wanted to do and found a market for it. Has there ever been any element of anticipating what might sell?

BROWN: I've given up being practical long ago. No, the best work is when I respond to what I want to do, more than anything. Even now, when there's no real market for them, I get ideas for single panels and I kind of try not to, in a way. [Spurgeon laughs] If they persist, I do a little sketch, and I've got them for later. What I will do with them I don't know. Maybe another collection. Or I'll include them in a new national humor magazine and website that seems to be cooking.

One project sitting there is an illustrated short story called "Wolf Boy." There will be two other short pieces like it for a book. That's probably as close to a graphic novel as I want to get.

SPURGEON: I was struck looking at your work how much I like your lettering. It's very expressive. It makes the gag strips slightly disappointing when they don't have your lettering. [Brown laughs] You seem to make use of it as an expressive tool.

BROWN: It is!

SPURGEON: In "Western Romance" it seems like there are several flourishes that come straight from the lettering.

BROWN: Hand lettering is like a voice, isn't it? It immediately conveys what you want to say and then can be exaggerated, or, with a flourish or two, become a grace note -- like subtle inflections of a voice.

I worked for my calligraphy teacher from Silvermine Guild School of Art for several years during summers and vacations who had a commercial art business. I did lettering for all kinds of big events and learned a lot about calligraphy then.

SPURGEON: The colored effect you sometimes use in "Western Romance," where the line itself is colored, is there a specific effect you're trying for there? Is there any element to simply enjoying the visual nature of letters on the page that way?

BROWN: You're thinking of within the synopsis, probably. Yes. That's to emphasize and draw attention to a particular word. It's also to enliven a large page of text beyond simply using black and white lettering. Because there were months between one chapter and the next in "Western Romance," the synopsis grew longer and longer, thus more need for illuminated lettering.

SPURGEON: You've talked a little bit about this, but what was it like on a personal level in living that closely to so much work from such a range of dates for months at a time as this book finally came together.

BROWN: A big collection was something I've wanted to do for a very long time, before going on to other projects, so I was focused and determined. But the process of scanning and closely examining work from years ago, brought up memories. You know how they can be. Luckily, most of them are happy, but then I do try to remember the good parts and forget the rest.

I recently heard a quote from Lama Surya Das which struck a chord: "Forgiveness means letting go of the hope for a better past."

*****

* MK Brown's Site
* Stranger Than Life: Cartoons and Comics 1970-2013, MK Brown, Fantagraphics, softcover, 248 pages, 2014, $35.

*****

* cover to the new collection
* gag strip I like
* one of the very pretty pages throughout the book
* what looks to me like early work, but if it isn't, I still like it
* one of the MK Brown comics for which Sam Gross was editor
* a random humorous illustration
* "White Girl Dreams"
* that dentist comic
* three different pages showing off Brown's approach to color
* more of a random gag panel of the various types of work included in the collection (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: The Golden Age Of Comic Books

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Go, Look: Softcore, Part 4

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Go, Look: Bernie Wrightson's Edgar Allan Poe Portfolio

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Go, Look: Think Of A City

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Bundled Extra: Bries Releases New Edition Of My Boy

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this preview article makes it sound like a new edition, but it would be a nice edition than what was previously put out there, and I'm happy for it!
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 38th Birthday, Ivan Grubanov!

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Happy 91st Birthday, Paul Fung, Jr.!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mike Kazaleh!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Brian Biggs!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Rick Burchett!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Pier Nicola Gallo!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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FFF Results Post #370 -- Martial Artists

On Friday, CR asked readers to "Name Five Comic-Book Practitioners of Martial Arts." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Shang-Chi
2. Howard The Duck
3. The Badger
4. Karate Kid
5. The White Tiger

*****

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John Vest

1. Jimmy Woo
2. Karnak
3. Yang
4. Batroc The Leaper
5. Merryman

*****

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Dave Knott

* Batroc the Leaper
* Kevin (from Sin City)
* Colleen Wing
* Richard Dragon
* Stick

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Yang
2. The Collective Man
3. Batroc
4. Judomaster
5. Fancy Dan

I double-checked Fancy Dan as a joke and holy-hole-in-a-doughnut, he really is considered a martial artist and not just a fucking putz doing fancy fucking things with his little skinny legs. I FUCKING LOVE COMICS.

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Shang-Chi
2. Iron Fist
3. Richard Dragon
4. Kato
5. Black Canary

*****

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Ian MacEwan

1. Nine Continents - The Force of Buddha's Palm
2. The Kingpin- Daredevil
3. Ranma Saotome - Ranma ½
4. King Tiger - Comic's Greatest World
5. Silken Ghost - Way of the Rat

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Kuririn
2. Dinah Drake
3. Bruce Lee
4. Yawara Inokuma
5. Lin Sun

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Stan Lee (the one who fought Judge Dredd; see attached)
2. Batroc the Leaper
3. Sonny Sumo
4. Ranma Saotome
5. Lady Shiva

*****

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Nathaniel G. McDonald

1. Daredevil
2. Batman
3. Iron Fist
4. Goku
5. Shaolin Cowboy

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Lois Lane of Earth-One (who learned the Kryptonian martial art of Klurkor)
2. Lady Shiva
3. Richard Dragon
4. Bronze Tiger
5. Black Canary

*****

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Marc Arsenault
Contributing photographer to Kung Fu Tai Chi Magazine


1. Judo Joe
2. Jesse Sanchez - Street Angel
3. Dolly The Drunken Kid (Drunken Fist)
4. Paul Kirk Manhunter
5. Kagumaru - Igano Kagemaru (伊賀の影丸)

*****

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William Burns

* Ranma Saotome
* Fat Cobra
* Mantis
* Fancy Dan
* Badger

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Bludgeon (Transformers)
2. The Kingpin
3. Modesty Blaise
4. Slaymaster
5. Kaito Best (Casanova)

(Bludgeon is a tank who becomes a robot disguised as a skeleton dressed as a samurai. Beat that.)

*****

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Eric Knisley

1. Natalia Romanov aka the Black Widow
2. Sonny Sumo
3. Ra's al Ghul
4. Blade
5. Karnak

*****

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David Baillie

* Usagi Yojimbo
* Jen Dik Seong (Dixie) from The Re-Gifters
* Batman
* Spider-Man (Dan Slott had Iron Fist develop and teach him Spider-fu a couple of years ago)
* Joe Matt (I've looked and I can't find it, but I'm positive he mentions attending a karate class)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter (with my favorite German subtitle, hilarious. Useless info: The German publisher credited Jim Starlin as Jim Darlin.)
2. The Sons of the Tiger (From Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, found their pic in a thread named 'FRIDAY FIVE: THE Box Set You Most want Produced by Bowen Designs ', how fitting.)
3. Judomaster (From Charlton -- No Watchman, No Cry.)
4. Iron Fist (Kaare Andrews' Marvel Now version looks good but I bet they'll blew it with the next crossover which must be just around the corner.)
5. Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters (Protect your Chin from The Sons of the Turtle.)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Howard The Duck
2. Leonardo
3. Michelangelo
4. Donatello
5. Raphael

*****

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Randy Clark

* Karate Kid
* Judo Master, the original Charlton character
* The Incredible I Ching
* and the new Wonder Woman
* Misty Knight

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Bronze Tiger
2. Judomaster
3. Batroc the Leaper
4. Kato
5. Ramses Luther Smuckles, aka Rodney Leonard Stubbs, aka "The Man With The Blood On His Hands"

*****

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Charlie Ryan

* Late 1960's New Wonder Woman
* Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, Daughters of the Dragon
* Judomaster
* Hong Kong Phooey
* Blackhawk's Chop Chop aka Dr. Hands

*****

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David Brothers

1. Ranma Saotome
2. Cassandra Cain
3. The Question
4. Bronze Tiger
5. Iron Fist

*****

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Mike Palumbo

1. Kenshiro
2. Ranma Saotome
3. Iron Fist
4. Daredevil
5. Shang-Chi

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Stick
2. Modesty Blaise
3. Deadly Plum Blossum
4. Street Angel
5. Stan Lee (Judge Dredd)

*****
*****
 
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March 8, 2014


Go, Bookmark: L'Ascension Du Haut Mal

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Jessica Campbell Reads At Brain Frame 16


Ed Piskor On Comic Books And Hip-Hop History


Mutt And Jeff In "The Extra-Quick Lunch"
via


KAL At The Library Of Congress


Pran Receiving Lifetime Achivement Award At India Comic Con


Not Comics: IKEA Commercial Starring Cosplayer For Which They Actually Had A PR Person Send Me A Link, Which Cracked Me Up


Not Comics: Bruno Richard And Pascal Doury Video


Jeff Danziger Interviewed
 
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Go, Look: Exciting Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 92nd Birthday, Shigeru Mizuki!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Paul Sloboda!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Brent Willis!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Eric Powell!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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auctions here; explanation and direct donation possibility here
 
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March 7, 2014


It Looks Like The Sakais eBay Art Auction Has Begun

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Bookmark or follow or however you do it. There is no nicer person in comics than Stan Sakai, and hopefully we can help him out of this hitch in his healthcare set-up.
 
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Go, Look: Chrono

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Taiyo Matsumoto, Emily Carroll Win Cartoonist Studio Prize

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Taiyo Matsumoto and Emily Carroll are the winners of this year's Cartoonist Studio Prize coordinated by Slate and The Center For Cartoon Studies. Winners were selected by the judges: Dan Kois, Chris Butcher and the faculty + students at CCS (the last list making for a single vote, one assumes).

Matsumoto won the print award for two volumes of Sunny from Viz; Carroll won the web comics version for "Out Of Skin," which was self-published.

Each winner will receive $1000. Last year's winners were Chris Ware and Noelle Stevenson.

The other print category finalists and their qualifiying works were Gene Luen Yuang for Boxers and Saints, Isabel Greenberg for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, Etienne Davodeau for The Initiates: A Comic Artist And A Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs, Gilbert Hernandez for Julio's Day, Robert Hunter for Map Of Days, Michel Rabagliati for Paul Joins The Scouts, Rutu Modan for The Property, Genevieve Castree for Susceptible and Ulli Lust for Today Is The Last Day Of The Rest Of Your Life.

The other web comics cartoonists and their qualifying works were Melanie Gillman for As The Crow Flies, Boulet for Bouletcorp, KC Green for Gunshow, Sam Alden for Household, Jennifer Parks for The Lone Wolf, Gabrielle Bell for Lucky, Erika Moen for Oh Joy Sex Toy, Michael DeForge for Sticks Angelica and Winston Rowntree for Subnormality.

Congratulations to the winners and the nominees.
 
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Go, Look: My German Buddy

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Missed It: Lawyer Says Jabeur Mejri Was Released

I totally missed a wire story mid-week that said Jabeur Mejri, the Tunisian cartoonist that was jailed for putting drawings of the Prophet Muhammed on Facebook in 2011, was released on Tuesday. This was according to a statement made by his lawyer. International rights foundations have been negotating strongly for his release since January, and the most recent hitch was old charges on an unrelated issue.

Mejri was sentences to seven and a half years in Spring 2012 for "content deemed offensive to Islam." A friend of Mejri's received political asylum after fleeing to France.

The mechanism for Mejri's release was a presidential pardon from President Moncef Marzouki, who cited a handwritten apology delieved from the cartoonist in October 2013.
 
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Go, Look: That Michael Golden Doctor Strange Portfolio

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Your Lambda Literary Award Graphic Novel Finalists

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Kevin Melrose has his usual smart write-up here on graphic novel category finalists for June's Lambda Literary Awards. It's the first time for that category, although as Melrose notes No Straight Lines won an anthology award last year. The finalists are:

* Artifice, Alex Woolfson And Winona Nelson (AMW Comics)
* Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir, Nicole J. Georges (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
* Duck! Second Chances, Tana Ford (Bang A Left)
* The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, Vivek J. Tiwary And Andrew C. Robinson And Kyle Baker And Steve Dutro (Dark Horse/M Press)

It looks they were drawn from a longer list published here. Those books not making it were:

* #Gezi Park, Beldan Sezen (Double Hook Press)
* Anything That Loves, Charles "Zan" Christensen (Northwest Press)
* Big Is Better, Song (Bruno Gmuender)
* Blue Is The Warmest Color, Julie Maroh (Arsenal Pulp Press)
* But You Like Really Dated?!: The Celebropedia of Hollywood Hookups, Ryan Casey (HarperCollins/It Books)
* Flutter, Written by Jennie Wood, Art by Jeff McComsey (215 Ink)
* Gun Street Girl, Barb Lien-Cooper, Ryan Howe (Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company/Nuance)
* I TXT Sarah, Keniro Miller (Lethe Press)
* Kyle's Bed & Breakfast: Hot Off the Griddle, Greg Fox, (Sugar Maple Press)
* Secret Agent Moscow: Part One -- Goodbye, Natasha, Jennifer Jigour (Walkabout Designs LLC)
* So Super Duper, Brian Andersen (So Super Duper Comics)
* Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 3, Gail Carriger, illustrated by Rem (Yen Press)
* Spider Teeth: Wherein Our Protagonist Flies to Thailand to Get a Brand New Cunt, Ellie June Navidson (Self-Published)

I suppose it's worth noting the absence of the Maroh work from the final list, given its fans over here even before a movie version that has done well. That movie version has been controversial, but it is quite different than the original material and you wouldn't think one would have an effect on the opinion of the other. I don't know the culture of these awards to know what's most likely, even. It's also possible that there was no effect at all.

*****
*****
 
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Not Comics/OTBP: Science Fiction

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SAW Announces April 15 Deadline For Two Mid-May Micro-Grants

The Sequential Artists Workshop will be accepting submissions until April 15 for two $250 micro-grants, which they will give out in mid-May to a pair of deserving winners. I think it's admirable that SAW sticks to its mission statement by doing this, even though I'm sure they could find many uses for that $500. It's also a nice way to drive attention to what a bunch of self-starting comics-makers are doing. It's also a nice reminder that $250 applied in the right way can be an amazing thing.
 
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Not Comics: Arthur Rackham Site

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Missed It: Mike Mantlo Chides Overreaching Marvel Critics

Here. I think this is important for a couple of reasons. One is that truth is better than fudging the truth. Always. The other is you don't have to fudge the truth to want comics to do better by creators. We get trapped in a legal way of thinking that every injustice has at its heart people cackling with evil and performing misdeeds that leave people devastated. That's so rarely true. Institutions may be inclined to ignore damages done, but most people mean well. Frequently those we see as victims are either doing okay or were doing much better at some point than they are now. When you insist on portraying complicated issues as melodrama, the audience is bound to be disappointed once they realize there's no one twirling a mustache. They may even turn on you.

I think comics and our culture more generally can do better by creators. I think there are a lot of ways to do that. None of them involve dismantling the law with our minds until they spit out a perfect outcome. Few if any are about punishment. None of the serious ones imply time travel. With Mantlo you can give money directly or agitate for others, including those who are going to be richly rewarded by their work with one of Mantlo's co-creations, to join you in any number of ways as a forthcoming movie throws a spotlight in the writer's direction. No one has to be denying Mantlo funds for that to happen; no family has to be destitute; no one has to be caught on tape making Bill Mantlo jokes at a water cooler. It's partly because so much has already been done on behalf of creators in terms of some of them quietly scoring new deals over the last 20 years, programs coming in and out of existence they never could have agitated for on their own, so many people pushing for proper recognition to be afforded all creators when their creations are discussed publicly, so many creators that take past deals as a bad thing and a model to work against in new deals, that I feel there remain so many creative, possible ways we can do even better by creators across the board. If you insist on creating phantoms to carry your concerns, you have to live with the possibility those phantoms will be dismissed. And then you're stuck.
 
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Go, Look: Startling Comics

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I Still Recommend The Mort Drucker/Chris Ware/Harold Gary/Leonard Starr Comments Under This TCJ Post

There is some interesting stuff to chew on in a brief flurry of comments from David Apatoff, Jeet Heer and Robert Fiore springing from one of Apatoff's article linked-to by Dan Nadel above. It's more interesting today than yesterday for Heer muscling in. It's also developed as commentary on the nature of on-line discussion, as all of the cheap shots and broad joke-making that pop up now and then come across super poorly. Any argument that forces you to reconsider points that aren't even being fully developed in front of you is a pretty good exchange.
 
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Go, Read: Robert Boyd's 1991 Interview With Shary Flenniken

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* there's a pretty thorough piece here from Rob McMonigal about Misfits Of Avalon being posted on-line ahead of its print release. Like McMonigal mentions, I'm not sure any single aspect of this is new, but gathered together they're still rare.

* I'm coming late to this, and only through Johanna Draper Carlson's wrap-up post, but Ryan Estrada posting information about a comiXology submit effor that didn't go super-great and why that might be is a fascinating, meaty subject.

* congratulations to Kickstarter for celebrating $1 billion in pledges. Comics came in tenth if you want to rank them that way. That's not where I would have guessed comics would be if I had had to bet when the crowd-funding movement began.

* this is primarily a gaming story to my mind, but cuts at Disney Interactive show how "Wild West" this whole arena and gives you an idea that big-company investment isn't necessarily a lifeline if the acqusition doesn't perform.

* this e-book on "The Viking Age As Comic," from Eric Knipper, contains a number of pieces of art from his comic Berserker. I'm not sure why I've never seen something exactly like this before -- perhaps I've just missed it.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell notes that TopatoCo is working with a game company. If there is a medium that has in the last few year and in terms of efforts like this one performed further ahead of expectations given its existing markets that is not comics, it'd be gaming. It'd be gaming first, probably. They should make a game out of diagramming that second sentence. Sorry about that. Long week.
 
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If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Not Comics: NC Wyeth Illustrates Michael Strogoff

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a new chapter of Siberia!

image* George Elkind on Bodyworld and Fata Morgana. Win Wiacek on Sock Monkey Treasury. Sarah Boxer on Woman Rebel. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics. Michael Buntag on a couple of the Jeffrey Brown Star Wars books. Richard Bruton on Iron Man: Believe.

* Blutch, Blutch, Blutch. Stanislas, Stanislas, Stanislas.

* an art book of Katsuhiro Otomo posters and a gallery show of same? I'm in.

* not comics: Tim Kreider writes about finally maybe getting a war with Russia.

* here's a contest related to the forthcoming British Library exhibition. Judges are David Gibbons, Emma Hayley, John Harris Dunning, Paul Gravett, Adrian Edwards and Kissley Leonor. Cash prizes.

* Bob Temuka writes about comics critics and comics criticism.

* Sam Hockley-Smith talks to Chuck Forsman. Dan Berry talks to Julia Wertz. Meg Lemke talks to the great Francoise Mouly. Steve Sunu talks to Evan Dorkin. Rob Clough profiles Batton Lash. Justin McIntosh provides a platform for Ken Eppstein.

* Anthony Dominic visits the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

* finally, it kills me how much Charles Schulz varies his strip structure from the three-panel basic he was using by 1991. That guy never stopped working on his craft.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Ben Templesmith!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Cully Hamner!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Robin McConnell!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Peter Gross!

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March 6, 2014


That Drew Friedman Opening At Society Of Illustrators Looked Fun

I lose Internet access until morning to do much digging around, but I've seen photos of Gilbert Gottfried, Robert Klein and Abe Vigoda in attendance on Gil Roth's Facebook feed. Looked fun. No word on Howard Stern. Friedman is a treasure and I wish he received as much attention from comics circles as he deserves.
 
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Go, Look: Pigeon Press Gallery

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The Great Thing About Predicting The End Of The World Is You Only Have To Be Right The One Time

Heidi MacDonald has links and no-doubt furious commentary discussion about someone predicting a doomsday scenario for comic shops: Marvel switching to all-digital. I've read the article and you can, too, by following MacDonald's links, but it doesn't seem like it's sound enough for me to want to provide them with traffic directly. Please forgive me.

It's never been likely but it's always been possible that a big company could do something like this. And yes, Marvel is the most likely culprit to do this not-likely thing presently. The thing is, you could write a version of this article at any time from 1951 to now. Mainstream comics publishing has almost petered out all on its own at least twice, and ending print publication has been on the table since the mid-1990s when it become more and more clear that the value of these companies is, as is the case with the no-longer-really-in-comics-aggressively classic Disney characters, in their licensing potential to more profitable media. You don't have to have six comics about you coming out every month to be a viable property. Marvel is indeed profit-oriented in ways that a place like DC isn't, and this would be a conceivable move in the direction of profits if someone say, were looking to cash out or make a case for a gig based on showing profits on the page.

But no, it's not likely. Things are going pretty well for Marvel.

As for Marvel trying to find its own way to offer up digital programs, or to collect their existing programs under one overarching strategy: they certainly are, they always have been, and so is everyone else that isn't a) dumb, b) overtaxed as it is. The success of digital could also be argued company to company as inducement to stick with print publishing because a) you get to compare actual numbers, b) the fact that they work interdependently would suggest that you might not get readers moving to an ostensibly more profitable digital version if the print comics were to disappear.
 
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Go, Look: Conan Saga Covers

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Comixology Sends Out Letter About Unauthorized Database Access; Asking Folks To Change Passwords

The very successful digital comics company Comixology apparently sent out a letter this morning that reads as follows:
Dear Comics Reader,

In the course of a recent review and upgrade of our security infrastructure, we determined that an unauthorized individual accessed a database of ours that contained usernames, email addresses, and cryptographically protected passwords.

Payment account information is not stored on our servers.

Even though we store our passwords in protected form, as a precautionary measure we are requiring all users to change their passwords on the comiXology platform and recommend that you promptly change your password on any other website where you use the same or a similar password. You can reset your comiXology.com password here.

We have taken additional steps to strengthen our security procedures and systems, and we will continue to implement improvements on an ongoing basis.

Please note that we will never ask you for personal or account information in an e-mail, so exercise caution if you receive emails that ask for personal information or direct you to a site where you are asked to provide personal information.

We apologize for the inconvenience. If you have any questions, please contact us by sending an email to

Sincerely,

ComiXology
I haven't confirmed this directly -- hey, a hoax would be a story in and of itself -- but I wanted to put it out there to give a heads up to people that have e-mail from companies like this automatically sent to spam folders so they can go looking for it. I'm not saying I'm one of those people, but I'm sure there are a ton of people like that.

Seems real, though.

The good news here would be a) that no financial information was touched, b) they discovered this themselves rather than having a bunch of people finding out that their accounts there and elsewhere have been used. The bad news would be a) the rest of it, although maybe particularly if you used a similar password or the same one with other digital accounts you have out there. Changing all of them could be a pain.

As is always the case with any password I recommend going full Your Parents On The Computer: clearing out everything, turning your computer off, turning it back on, going directly to the site by means other than the informing e-mail, then changing it. There is probably a way to do this that is less ridiculous, but this is my way.

I know that mostly because of automatic re-sets, a lot of my friends -- even the old, forgetful ones -- are moving towards multiple passwords just generally, in some cases keying them into the purpose of the site (a comics password for a comics site, say). This is probably a terrible way to do it, too. Also, probably don't use "yellowking."
 
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Go, Look: Stanley Kubrick Photographs Peter Arno

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Bundled Extra: Top Shelf Formally Announces Return Of Pete Sickman Garner's Hey, Mister Comics

imageLike most of what goes on in comics between people talking to one another informally, creators and companies each having different branding and news-content needs, and the requirements that book distribution can foist upon a company in terms of having a schedule set far in advance, I imagine most people knew that Pete Sickman-Garner's Hey, Mister! series was going to make a comeback this year in some form. It's still good to see the announcement and a cover image. I'm always fascinated by people that take a different approach to releasing work mid-career as it seems Sickman-Garner, once a prolific maker of comic-book format comics, will be doing here. I also think it's worth noting for the role that collections of Sickman-Garner's work had at Top Shelf pretty early on. Heck, it'll be nice to just see that guy around. Also: more comics!

I'm still a little bit unclear as to how announcements are going to settle in as a thing with comics people -- there's no dominant working model, yet, so formally announcing on one's own web site seems as good a ploy as any. I kind of thought we might be at the place where people were being hired to provide content for such things, but that seems a bit off yet. Plus there are so many books now.
 
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Go, Look: A Hand-Painted Gasoline Alley Sunday

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Festivals Extra: SOI Makes Clear This Year's MoCCA Festival Prize Entry Rules

So with Drew Friedman's work appearing at the Society Of Illustrators starting this evening, I thought it might be time to check in on next months' MoCCA Festival to see if I'd missed any important announcements. I missed a doozy: the linked-to page details how they'll be doing their Festival Awards Of Excellence this year. I have to imagine that's a desirable thing for which to apply given the SOI is the kind of organization that does awards pretty well as a springboard for publicity -- plus your work becomes curated for the Columbia comics archives, so that's nice, too. And you're going to be there already. Come on!

Judges this year are Gregory Benton, Tracy Hurren, Chip Kidd, Chris Pitzer and James Sturm -- so if nothing else, a lot of folks will see you work that might be in a position to publish you or otherwise play a supporting role in the movie of your life in comics.
 
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Go, Look: Some ACG Horror Stories

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Go, Read: Various Links About The Changing Nature Of Sales

* Kevin Hamric at Viz talks with the hobby business and analysis site ICv2.com about how streaming video drives manga sales. That might not be surprising, but how sensitive those sales are in Hamric's description of them might be.

* Paul Jenkins' short note about John Campbell and his offer to send dissatisfied customers a PDF of one of his projects has a some stuff in there about making kickstarter a primary publishing option, and what that might entail. I think I would disagree strongly with Jenkins that crowd-funding is any more of an open publishing platform thatn traditional ones, or at least I know of plenty of crowd-funders where how they're structured is a total mystery. He may mean that just personally, or in a more poetic way, I can't tell.

* Heidi MacDonald talks about cracking the google authorship code. I suppose this is very important for maintaining a web site -- I remember being lectured about how vital it was to better place certain pieces on searches a few years back -- although we've managed to have a profitable one so far while having terrible google everything. Knock on virtual wood, I guess. It could all end tomorrow.

* here's a not comics one: Getty Images is going to pursue a free content, monetize the placement of that content model moving forward. I would say this is a big deal for all content producers at least spiritually: the idea that content can be made valueless except for a way of exploiting the use of that content is an uncomfortable thought. I am sure you could fuel entire cities on the energy of going around and around on issues like whether or not this is the only plan, or whether it's the smartest one, or even if this changes their fundamental revenue strategy where smaller blogs are concerned at all. Another avenue you could discuss is the idea of having content controlled by a corporate partner tha can not only change how you're doing business but the reality of how your work is perceived. In other words, if you have your comics content with someone and they decided that it's going to be free now, but you'd rather pursue another model because you prefer as a creator to be paid for content directly, I'm sure that work is not offered back to you.

* finally, Johanna Draper Carlson believes that Vertical may be flirting with the use of a Patreon subscription plan.
 
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Go, Look: Another Art Adams Mini-Gallery

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Go, Read: David Apatoff And Robert Fiore Discuss Comics

There's a nice mini-discussion brewing between the critics David Apatoff and Robert Fiore here springing from an Apatoff piece about some specific comics artists but informed more generally by his admiration for older cartoonists like Mort Drucker and Leonard Starr in the light of praise offered comics-makers like Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware. I think all of the opinions offered so far are both a) worth considering, b) make for really poor "let's you and him fight" material. In other words, I think what's being said is more useful as ways to enter into Drucker, Starr, Ware and Spiegelman both positive and negatively than to engage with any comparison of the value of those artists. Fiore's most recent, lengthy response as of this posting is some pretty prime Bob Fiore, too, particulary using an inverse of the Bushmiller line.
 
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Go, Look: John DiBello Picks Best Will Eisner Spirit Title Pages

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* three weeks from now people will be rolling into Seattle for ECCC and then we're off to the races. But you're starting to see people orient towards the Spring con of their choice: ECCC, SPACE, MoCCA, WonderCon and Linework NW among them. It should be a fun Spring, with a lot of good books out at these shows. Certainly the convention model is a generally healthy one.

* if you want to start looking at anti-harassment policies, just to check in to see if how some of the Spring shows approach this issue in terms of posting guidelines, you can see ECCC's here and I would CCI's policy here applies to all of their show.

* it'd be nice to be in Portland this weekend, for signings with Tony Millionaire and Gregory Benton. Also, Portland is lovely, and one eats well there. Hooray for Portland!

* HeroesCon continues to add guests in big gulps, about once a week.

* Christina Blanch is featured in this feature piece promoting the convention in Indianapolis this year.

* Trina Robbins will be on hand at TCAF.

* Wizard continues to grind towards profitability with its heavy costs/reasonably heavy returns model. It's tough to process the Wizard because there are some nice people involved with some of them, and for some of those communities

* Salt Lake City will be adding a kids' pavilion.

* finally, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival has a mascot family they reveal in the below poaster by Jonathan Edwards.

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

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

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

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If I Were In Columbus I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Tabling Comic At Planet Look At Me, Look At Me

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Whit Taylor provides tips on how to make comics when you work full-time doing something else.

* this is one your periodical reminders to vote for Hall Of Fame candidates at the Eisners, if you're elegible.

image* small press comics veteran Colin Upton writes about a key Vancouver neighborhood.

* Jason Tabrys talks to Bob Fingerman. Michael Maslin interviews a trio of New Yorker newbies. Steve Sunu talks to Mike Marts. Milton Griepp talks to Kevin Hamric. Chris Arrant talks to Declan Shalvey. Seth Robison talks to Frederick Schroeder and Dave Kellett. Janelle Asselin profiles Maria Frohlich. Some nice person on Tiny Pencil talks to Renee French.

* well, of course there are comics about 1970s Genesis.

* Richard Sala is in a very good place, art-wise. And there's very little more pleasurable than random Rogan Gosh art, published or unpublished. Never seen this Graham Nolan Hulk art.

* Greg Burgas on Crystallized. Mike Sterlin on normalman. Rob McMonigal on Mask Of The Red Panda. Todd Klein on Green Lantern Corps #26. Justice League #26. Bart Croonenborghs on My Life As A Cat Named Sugar. Rob Clough on Dog City #2 and the works of David J. Zelman. Abhay Khosla on a bunch of different comics. Grant Goggans on The Bojeffries Saga. Daniel Elkin on Black Is The Color.

* more art: Luke Pearson draws for The New Republic. Darryl Cunningham draws in orange. Jillian Tamaki drew Ryan Sands.

* Jacq Cohen is the best. This Stuart McMillen article is only barely related, but that's good enough for me.

* how Lucy Knisley became "That Anti-Social Girl."

* finally, Frank Santoro shows us what he brought back from Frances. Comics-wise, I mean.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Kieron Dwyer!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Robyn Chapman!

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March 5, 2014


Go, Bookmark/Follow: Secretus Vox

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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.

*****

OCT131188 BLIGHTED EYE HC (MR) $100.00
This is a catalog of Glenn Bray's legendary comics art collection, almost 50 years in the making. That gave Bray a multiple-decades head start on getting his hands on work that wouldn't become valuable until relatively recently. In this book you see Ware to Wilson to Wolverton to Wood to Woodring -- that's a single letter. I'm not the original art fetishist that many of my friends and colleagues and I couldn't stop looking at this thing. If it's even in your comic shop, that's a compliment to your comic shop.

NOV130067 GASOLINE ALLEY HC VOL 01 COMPLETE SUNDAYS 1920-1922 $75.00
Three years of Sundays from Frank King -- the cartoonist whose reputation has probably been most completely rehabilitated in the last 15 years -- sounds like an awesome thing, and I would love to get my hands on this book in a comic shop to see first-hand the production on Dark Horse's long talked-about project. A big part of the King revival is to point out how humane and kind of engaged with everyday life the dailies her, but his reputation when I was a kid was as the member of the Original Justice League Of Mighty Newspaper Strip Cartoonists that worked way over his head on Sunday strips. They weren't McCay, but they were close. I have bigger eyes to take that material in now, and love that I'll get a chance to start.

imageJAN140130 LOBSTER JOHNSON GET LOBSTER #2 $3.99
DEC130197 FOREVER EVIL #6 $3.99
DEC130388 ROGUE TROOPER #1 $3.99
AUG130699 JUPITERS LEGACY #4 CVR A QUITELY (MR) $2.99
AUG130700 JUPITERS LEGACY #4 CVR B HITCH (MR) $2.99
OCT138154 JUPITERS LEGACY #4 CVR C MCQUE (MR) $2.99
JAN140531 STARLIGHT #1 CVR A CASSADAY (MR) $2.99
JAN140532 STARLIGHT #1 CVR B PARLOV (MR) $2.99
DEC130589 REVIVAL #18 (MR) $2.99
NOV130530 VELVET #4 (MR) $2.99
There is a lot of work out this week worth noting in the serial adventure book format. Here's a bunch of them; I'm not sure even with unlimited funds I'd buy all of these, but I'd certainly not their presence in the shop. You get Mignola-verse material, the latest issue of DC's sort-of ongoing (I say sort of because there are titles in which this storyline isn't present at all) "event" comic, about an invasion of the New 52 version of the DC Universe by the Crime Syndicate characters. I may review that one later today. Rogue Trooper #1 is a reintroduction to a character I never really got and I think at least one of the versions out there -- maybe the only version out there -- boasts a James Stokoe cover. You get a double-dose of A-list writer Mark Millar this week. The start of a ten-year-later style plotline in his collaboration with Frank Quitely, Jupiter's Legacy, and the first issue with Goran Pavlov of what seemed to me an almost blandly standard take on revenge westerns using their spaceman, Buck Rogers-ish, expression. Pavlov's art is super pretty if you've never had the pleasure. Revival is one of those strong-performing, just-under-the-top-titles comic series (and I mean in terms of press; for all I know it outsells Walking Dead) that I can imagine a teenaged me becoming obsessed with once upon a time. Velvet is the Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting spy series on the Miss Moneypenny archetype, and like a lot of the Image comic books seems at television-series friendly both as a potential adaptation and as a standard storytelling mode.

NOV130453 SATELLITE SAM TP VOL 01 (MR) $9.99
JAN140552 FATALE DLX ED HC VOL 01 (MR) $39.99
JAN140559 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 20 ALL OUT WAR PT 1 (MR) $14.99
The range of Image's trade program is seen here, although really the Walking Dead and the Satellite Sam books are cheaper paperbacks of the kind people can -- and do, I think -- follow in serial fashion that way. Satellite Sam is the Matt Fraction/Howard Chaykin collaboration and I think is beginning to find its sea legs in a way that makes me want to revisit the first few issues in this format. The Fatale book looks to be something for the fancier comics bookshelf, and that Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips collaboration is certainly handsome enough to reward collection that way. I still read all three series in some form or another.

OCT130745 MUPPETS OMNIBUS HC LANGRIDGE CVR $59.99
DEC130768 OZ HC EMERALD CITY OF OZ $24.99
Not only is this a reasonably sizable week for Image collection buyers, but we get to see two positive aspects of the Marvel books program, or the two of the five foundational steps one imagines Marvel could take for a consistently more profitable book arm if that were a goal of theirs. In this case we have a Disney property that saw expression elsewhere that is now brought under Marvel's wing in the Muppets book, which features a ton of well-liked work by the great Roger Langridge. I do know some people that reject Langridge's work outright -- I assume they extend the same dissatisfaction in the direction of the other artist with a significant number of pages here, Amy Mebberson, but I'm not sure -- but I liked it. I thought it was recognizable as working within the same general milieu of that television show, but off-model just enough to make it kind of a fun comic book on its own. The Oz material has been the belle of Marvel's book-line ball for about five years now, or whenever lap it passed the Stephen King books that Marvel sometimes does. I haven't read that material, but it's attractive-looking, and the Oz milieu is one of the sturdiest when it comes to adaptation and add-on work. This is weird only in that I'm an adult man that's read all of the Oz books since turning 30.

JAN140705 LOKI AGENT OF ASGARD #2 ANMN $2.99
JAN140675 MAGNETO #1 ANMN $3.99
JAN140638 MOON KNIGHT #1 ANMN $3.99
JAN140723 SHE-HULK #2 ANMN $2.99
This is the other part of what Marvel is doing this week that drew my attention a bit, although I have to admit I might have skipped right over this stuff there's so much in the shops this week. Anyway, Marvel is introducing another round of secondary-character books. Marvel uses those books in a variety of ways, but I think what they do best with them is poking at the edges of those properties in terms of developing approaches that can be a new standard approach if it clicks, and developing talent. The surprise success of the Matt Fraction/David Aja/Other Talented Folk Daredevil has also made more room for quirkier approaches to the material. The Moon Knight art from Declan Shalvey and the She-Hulk art from Javier Pulido looks very pretty in previews. Charles Soule may round into a major figure at these companies over the next 24 months, too.

OCT130749 X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST HC $39.99
One last Marvel book, which I put here because it's something that would be part of a program the company really doesn't have: identifiable, always-in-print, foundational works -- maybe 40 or 50 titles -- to which fans could be constantly directed. It does seems that they're sort of rounding in on limiting the number of titles they release in conjunction with movies, although it only takes two books instead of one -- or confusing copy, or a lack of emphasis -- to confuse retailers as to which book they should buy and push to movie fans.

DEC131190 DUMBEST IDEA EVER GN $11.99
Stepping away from the Marvel part of the store a bit, you might check out Jimmy Gownley's graphic memoir about growing up and trying to do comics all of the time. As many kids that are interested in comics that also see doing them as a possibility these days, that could be a fine choice for many of them.

JAN140850 FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE HC ITS ONE THING AFTER ANOTHER $22.99
I'm a bit confused by the For Better Or For Worse trade program, but the fact that they're re-running Lynn Johnston's strip from its beginnings makes confusion understandable. The books I've seen are more functional than archival, but it's nice to have big chunks of her work available that way.

JAN141202 HENRY SPEAKS FOR HIMSELF TP $24.99
I reviewed this yesterday.

DEC131161 NIJIGAHARA HOLOGRAPH HC (MR) $29.99
It's hard for me to think of an Inio Asano book being this far down the page without me drawing attention to it before now, but here it is. I think for many comic readers this will be the only reason to head a to a comics shop this weeks, and that these are readers with a completely sensible and satisfying approach to reading comics. This ambitiously constructed horror book is on-deck on my bedside reading table, and I'm looking forward to regretting reading it before bedtime.

JUN131174 WALT KELLY POGO COMP DELL COMICS HC VOL 01 $49.99
Oh, and here's Walt Kelly, who at his best drew as well as anyone to ever work in comics. This is a Hermes Press collection, so I'd want to look at it, and I have no particular fondness for the Pogo comic book material I've seen other than to recognize that it seems to be generally attractive, but nothing about comics giving us yet another book for library shelves, another book to read in our cranky old age, that shouldn't surprise at this point.

JAN141416 WILL EISNERS MINOR MIRACLES TP WW NORTON ED (MR) $17.95
It's Will Eisner week, and I'm a total scumbag for not driving more attention to that fact. I think WW Norton has done a good job keeping Eisner's library of work in print in what I believe is a couple of formats for different-sized wallets. I haven't gone through and figured out what books I need for that part of my bookshelf yet, but I'm happy to have the options Norton provides and about half of my Eisner stuff is already from this program.

JAN141154 WHITE CUBE HC (MR) $22.95
Let's end on work that you might not have seen before, presented by one of the great boutique publishers in all the world: Drawn and Quarterly. This Brecht Vandenbroucke debut is a really pretty book, and consists of wordless goofing on excesses of the art world, which is the kind of collision of style and approach that makes for an interesting read aside from craft considerations. I like how mean-spirited a lot of it is.

*****

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 Halifax, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: I Was Hated

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Dan Morris profiles Raymond Pettibon.

image* Chris Sims on Daredevil: Road Warrior #1.

* here's a piece on the First Second blog on how to get a publisher to notice you. I think the three things that come out of all of these articles are 1) do some completed work, in whatever form is available to you, 2) be clear and polite and sensible in your direct dealings, 3) remember that it's really only surpassing talent that goes straight to the front of the class. If you're as good as anyone doing comics, no matter how you do them, you'll get a different reaction from every sort of gatekeeper than if you can argue that you're just as good in some ways as some of the people doing comics. That last one... I see a lot of people angry because they feel they're not the worst person ever to do comics and therefore are entitled an opportunity. That's a really weird leap.

* not comics: I've been running too many "not comics" stories this week, but this piece on a potential new start for Newsweek as a digital and print concern speaks to something that get's talked about on this blog a lot. A lot of what we ascribe to print's decline or to on-line publication's unworkability can be argued is simply a mismatch of mechanism to deliver something and the economic potential of the idea itself, and that this is really hitting publications that existed as entities in a previous era and have to adjust to the new one, whether that era is the golden age of magazine production or Internet Publishing Age One. If you're able to start from the ground up, a lot of entities have viability, just not the viability they once had or the viability hoped for them in a business plan. I think this can be true of comics publishing, too.

* Johnny Ryan went to a Corey Feldman party on Vice's dime, and drew pictures of the resulting sadness.

* Robin McConnell talks to Brandon Graham, Craig Thompson and Mike Allred. Robert Tutton talks to Declan Shalvey. Someone I can't tell who they are talks to Zander Cannon.

* not comics: the only things I took out of this commentary piece on Jonathan Ross being chased away from hosting the Hugo Awards is that 1) the politics of any community are nettlesome and very, very particular 2) some people do see values other than publicity and promotion, while other people only see that value or assume it's the most important one; this includes those that want their professional community portrayed in a certain way and 3) it's too bad for this kind of discussion if Ross was accused of a line of professional work -- cruel humor of a certain kind -- that some people believe is not something he does, although I'm still of the mind that it shouldn't matter all that much. Also, this is way more time than I should spend thinking about group-think and public identity issues.

* it's always worth hearing from working professionals that being a cartoonist is super-hard, but I'm not sure if that's a secret as much as a corrective to a misapprehension.

* finally, Mike Thompson is going to get rid of most of his massive comics collection, and has decided to blog about it.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Lat!

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March 4, 2014


Jen Sorensen Wins The 2014 Herblock Prize

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This is Sorensen's first big editorial cartooning prize (she was a finalist for this award two years ago); it is the first Herblock to go to a female cartoonist, and it is the third Herblock in a row to go to an alt-weekly type cartoonist (Matt Bors, 2012; Dan Perkins, 2013). Congrats to her.

Winner gets a tax free $15K and a silver platter. It is named after the great Herblock himself, and is run by the massively wealthy foundation established in his name. The award started in 2006.
 
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Go, Look: Seth At Bristol Board

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Cartoonist Djamel Ghanem's Verdict Pushed To March 11

This translated international wire story indicates the Algerian court deciding on a case against the cartoonist Djamel Ghanem for a cartoon featuring that country's president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The reason? Absentee judge, the cartoonist's lawyer reported. Ghanem faces up to 18 months in jail and a small fine of about $400 USD for "insulting the president of the republic."

A few things to remember about this one. One is that the cartoonist's own newspaper employer filed the case against him. Two is that the cartoon was never published (it was set for publication in September). Third, the insult was basically noting that there might be worries for the 77-year-old to run again for office: he is running again for office, he is 77, and he had a stroke last year, spending three months in the hospital.

This potential verdict would be super-awful in and of itself, but it also represents a worldwide trend now of about 15 years, particularly in those African and European countries that have an active editorial cartooning culture, for sitting office-holders to use the courts to block or sue-for-reprisal editorial cartoonists that dare criticize them or their policies. One hopes the court will see reason in this case, and even if that ends up be blessedly so, let's hope many of the courts system begin to walk away from this wholly noxious barrier to reasonable free speech.
 
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Go, Bookmark: The Stephen Collins Cartoon

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Missed It: Adam Zyglis Won This Year's Berryman; To Receive It At National Press Foundation Event

I totally missed that the very young Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis will be accepting this year's Clifford K. and James T. Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation at their event tomorrow night. Leave it to the hometown paper to remind me. After looking into why I missed it, it looks like it was announced the week of Christmas 2013, which is always when you should announce things, at least, it seems, is when people in comics and, one supposes, journalism, think you announce things.

This is a good story, though. The News gave Zyglis that job in 2004 when he was terrifyingly young, after the departure of Tom Toles for the seat at the Washington Post. It would have been easier for them to close up that office altogether or to give it one of the many same-aged stalwarts around the country that might have been happy to work from the same position from which Toles did for years and years. So I'm very happy for him and them.

Past winners include Jim Morin, Steve Sack and Nate Beeler. It comes with a $2500 cash award, which I'm sure Zyglis can put to good use having just come off of paternity leave.
 
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Go, Look: A Few Comics From Surf-Toons #12

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Follow-Ups To Last Week's Post About Healthcare, Money, Comics

Here are a few posts I've bookmarked relating to last week's mini-discussion across the comics Internet about healthcare issues and money issues more broadly.

* this post from the talented illustrator Kali Ciesemier is about as friendly and hopeful as they come when it talks about the practicalities of establishing a freelance career, which I think is all stuff that can apply to comics, too. I like how and open and engaged with those questions it is, in particular; I think in comics in particular there's a tendency to avoid these questions altogether -- that's something with which I struggle as a self-employed writer.

* something more directly comics, and from a different perspective, comes this piece from Colleen Doran, an older post given new life. She writes about money issues a lot. Her advice that income varies wildly when you make comics is also put out there in a way that isn't defeatist, but realistic, and she also recognizes that the problem with some elements of making a career in comics isn't swings of $50K but that four years' worth of work might not add up to be $50K.

* Ben Cohen engages the idea of healthcare issues as they relate to comics as a vocation directly here, citing last week's CR post directly. One thing that stood out for me on a re-read is the notion that it's not just comics people that have problems with healthcare, or that when they do that this is solely a comics thing. The system can be really, really messed up.

I never expect to see a time when the comics community might not have to step in here and there and lend a hand as best as they're able just as all communities have to; I do think that the exposure to risk for a lot of people can be reduced by engaging the issue directly and working on all fronts to do what is necessary to take care of these things. I struggle with these responsibilities, too.

One thing I always urge, if you're out there without insurance right now, is at least be marginally informed as to what your options are. Right now that likely includes signing up for whatever the new programs are, or trying your best to do so (it can be a nightmare). I also think in general it just takes some information-gathering: finding out what doctors in your area might allow a discount for cash payment (I have two in my county that go 50 percent and 40 percent for people willing to pay in full same-day), finding out what a hospital trip really costs, picking up information from places like Wal-Mart about their prescription costs, unearthing information about any drug program like a $5-first-prescription program some areas have, finding out if there are indigent programs in your area, finding out if there are clinics. It's a first step, not a solution, but I never want the comics community to lose someone, or another someone, because that person was more frightened than necessary.
 
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Go, Look: Adam Kubert Action Comics Cover Art

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Eric Stephenson, Julius Schwartz Win ComicsPRO Awards

Matthew Price from The Oklahoman has a nice piece up here about the winners of the 2014 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Awards. Eric Stephenson was the winner among the living contributors; the late Julius Schwartz won the memorial portion of the yearly award. I think those are both fine choices. Stephenson's time being publisher at Image -- he arrived in that position in 2008 -- has seen that company build strong relationships with its Direct Market retail clients. He thanked the Image Comics employees. Schwartz was a titanic figure as an editor at DC, and basically shaped the direction of that company's publishing program in a way that fashioned the industry for decades. A big chunk of it still holds that basic shape.

I'm not seeing anything up from anyone ComicsPRO making board changes or reinforcing their current line-up; the group's blog hasn't been updated since last summer. Price did write a summary article here that talks a lot about what different publishers were pushing and some of the general atittudes towards that material from members.
 
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Go, Look: Semi-Bonkers Charlie McCarthy Comics

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Jonny Negron's Loose Joints #1 will be out from Space Face in May; this is the first I've seen of the cover.

image* the art at left is from Noah Van Sciver's contribution to Pratfall, an anthology announced here by Rob Kirby.

* Tom Pappalardo talks about stepping away from a print publishing opportunity.

* AdHouse has put up its formal listing for The Bad-ventures Of Bobo Backslack.

* more Sam Hill late in the Spring.

* I'm going to make this its own post, just because the imagery is so beautiful, but it looks like Bries has done another version of My Boy; their previous version came out in I believe 2006, and didn't look this nice. Still, that was one of the five great "you gotta see this" books of that decade.

* Hang Dai Studios will debut Hang Dai Studio Comix at next month's MoCCA Festival.

* one of the many things I admire about the career of the cartoonist Stan Sakai is that he's kept early volumes of his Usagi Yojimbo with his initial publisher Fantagraphics. A lot of people pay lip service to the notion of moving from one publisher to another and that there's nothing wrong with the job that the first publisher did, but very few extend that thinking to an actual business deal (I could be wrong in that this could be a right-lapsing situation, but I've always heard it as a decision on Sakai's part). Fantagraphics has worked with the artist on the reprints of its volumes to provide the series some of its most stylish-looking books, as seen here.

* I'm pretty sure you can't see this post unless you're her Facebook friend, but Nina Bunjevac announced that her next book, Fatherland, has been acquired for French-language publication by Bérengère Orieux of Ici Meme Editions.

* there was a first look at Ben Hatke's Little Robot over at The Beat.

* Warren Ellis and Jason Howard are set to debut Trees. I read all of Ellis' comics because even when they're not for me there's something interesting in what he's trying to do or his orientation toward the project or its artists. I'm happy to see him doing comics work.

* Jerry Ordway and Steve Rude will work together on a digital-first Superman story to be published by DC Comics. You can also read a gigantic story on it at CA that includes Rude's cover art and more of the creators involved.

* Uncivilized Books is in the midst of pre-order sales for works by Sam Alden and Sophie Yanow. I think that's the first time I've seen the Yanow cover.

* a look at the cover to the forthcoming Love Bunglers.

* Dark Horse has announced it will expand the page count on its Stan Sakai Project effort to raise money for the respected creator via benefit art (all of which is intended for auction) that features his Usagi Yojimbo milieu. Sakai is caught short by a series of healthcare-related circumstances.

* finally, it's good to see a cover image and a "will be here soon" notification for The French Comics Theory Reader. That's not going to be something in the majority of comics libraries, but there are those for whom such a book will have a prized place on the bedisde table for a few weeks on its publication, and it's nice to think of being able to find this in a library.

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OTBP: My Neighbour's Bikini

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Go, Look: Bob Powell Code-Censored Work

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Happy 58th Birthday, Randy Stradley!

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Keith Knight, inaugural member of the Malden High School hall of fame.

* this is one your periodical reminders to vote for Hall Of Fame candidates at the Eisners, if you're elegible.

image* Chris Arrant talks to the writer Chuck Dixon. Richard Bruton on Infrastructure. Kelly Thompson on The Wake #6. Zainab Akhtar on Syklus. Mark Ginocchio on Fantastic Four #371-375. Brian Cronin on Kill Godz #1. Lauren Davis on Supercakes. Alastair Stuart On Storm Dogs. Eric Diaz on The Shadow Hero: The Green Turtle Chronicles #1.

* not comics: IDW Games and Pandasaurus will expand their partnership. Given the revenue potential here, I'm not sure why more companies don't have active gaming divisions -- and by saying that I mean I'm super-ignorant, not that my lack of knowledge indicates they're all dumbasses for not doing more work in this area; I just really don't know. Of course, some companies just don't have an interest.

* Ulisses Farinas writes about not reviewing comics anymore. I symapthize. When I first dove into reviewing a bunch of comics all at once, it was very tough for me to take after that initial burst of energy. It becomes tough for me at times now. And that's without same-medium creative impulses.

* a Facebook page to like.

* not comics: this article about livings absolutely crumbling for mid-list prose authors won't have a lot of sympathy in comics circles, where creators tend to be split amongst those that have outside opportunities and those that don't have any opportunities at all and so are both hostile to the limited opportunities facing these authors. Still, I think it's worth noting every single time that a bit of cold water is thrown on the idea of the writer heroically making their way through the business world through their own merits, rise or fall. I also think that these article represent an opportunity to reform these businesses so that they are giving as many authors as possible a best shot. I'm not saying that can always be done, but I think there's a big shrugged-shoulder component of these articles that "well, that's the way it is." And the way it is a lot of time is because people make choices that push these businesses in that direction -- or don't push back against certain kinds of drift.

* Michael Cavna caught some of the reaction to this year's class of Reuben Award finalists. That has to be a positive moment in your life.

* not comics: this article has some really delicate loyalties that make it hard to track its exact point, but it does make me think that if its point is that academic writing and work has become more insular in many ways that comics' gains in academia seem the opposite of the in a couple of ways: the presentations I've seen are way more general audience friendly than they were 20 years ago, and I've had a lot of academics describe to me that comics' value to academia is in one sense the popularity of those courses, which I see as a contrast to their appealing to other academics only.

* the answer isn't "be awesome"?

* not comics: here's a short, summary take on the recent newspaper revenue statistics: stabilization, not recovery.

* Stephen Cooke profiles Kate Leth.

* finally, I totally missed this story about the original Humanoids logo.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Chip Mosher!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Glenn Hauman!

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March 3, 2014


Go, Look: Losers Splash Pages By Jack Kirby

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Two Big Names Find New Roles With Established Comics Companies

I guess it's okay to put these two stories together; they struck me that way, and I don't have a lot of substance to say about either. They also came out on kind of weirdly unfriendly-for-PR time periods, Friday and Sunday, for good reason: one was tied into the ComicsPRO meeting; the other was I'm taking a guess tied into when the New York Times could (or preferred to) run the announcement as a story. I say all that because they are certainly each worth a separate post in terms of the people and companies involved.

* Ross Richie of BOOM! on Friday announced that Paul Levitz would become part of that company's board of directors. That strikes me a super-positive choice: Levitz is well-connected, well-respected by some foundational aspects of the comics industry in a way that could benefit BOOM!, and as a member of the 'Zine Generation of comics-industry professional is only 57 years old. In addition, Levtiz's writing schedule since the administrative shake-up at DC Comics and his work with the CBLDF has show him to be industrious and wanting to be put to work. It's hard to disagree with Levitz's assessment that BOOM! is in an interesting place right now just shy of a decade in publishing. I guess this is also the kind of story where we reflect on the break between Levtiz and DC the way that we tend to mark break-ups between couples when both parties finally start dating elsewhere.

* the Grey Lady tells us that the writer and playright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will take on COO duties with Archie, and that also seems like a solid choice, one with more obvious potential implications for the core of that company's direction. Aguirre-Sacasa has done a bunch of work for a variety of media including comics -- he has worked with successful companies and efforts that lend some drive to his resume -- and is in the prime of his career in terms of how most such careers are measured. He could be immensely helpful for any ambitions that company has in a variety of directions. He's also right at an age and in a position having worked a variety of places on both coasts where he should be personally acquainted with a huge talent base of people that might want to do Archie-related projects. Archie has formally announced a Lena Dunham-written project that I think may fit that description. That seems to be a fruitful direction for them. Here's an Archie-meets-Girls image that should be seen in a lot of place today.

I know that our media is very promotionally-driven, and likes to deal in potentialities and projects more than track records and performance, but I do think that both deals make for more interesting stories 12 months from now given how much or how little each has changed. They are certainly both a potential big deal, though.
 
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Go, Look: Alex Toth Abstract Doodles

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Go, Read: A Quick Lesson In Constructing Rhetoric Poorly

Maren Williams at the CBLDF has a short feature article up on a mini-controversy about a book depicting nude people for kids to encounter body types in a way that demystifies it that serves as a pretty thorough indictment of picking on isolated examples to grind through a political point: the work in question became more popular, the grasping at factually challenged points seems desperate and ridiculous, and the principles of the book itself are defended in a way that's rational and calm. I'm not sure that North American free speech advocates do that third thing as much as they might, not the casual defenders, anyway. One element to free speech defense in comics that is frequently annoying is how quickly people move away from the art in question to the principle involved, perhaps thinking they are on more solid ground making those arguments absent of a discussion of or endorsement for the actual content in question. I always disagree, and think that was an important part of what seems mostly a positive outcome so far in this case.
 
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Go, Look: Meanwhile, At The Hotel Chelsea

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What Few Updates I Have On That John Campbell Thing

The cartoonist John Campbell posted a lengthy message on a Kickstarter saying that she was going to stop fulfilling incentives at about 75 percent of completion. This led to a wave of concern for Campbell, confusion as to what she's doing, anger if what she's doing is what some people think she's doing, people agreeing with an implied criticism of capitalism as it relates to art, people deriding any such cultural criticism as unserious and beside the point, and all the usual passionate opinion within a very specific context and world that one might expect when someone who is well-liked enough to have her work supported does something extreme and public.

A few things I've seen:

* Gary Tyrrell is my go-to person for news about the world in which John Campbell has functioned as an artist; this was his post last Friday.

* I found this article helpful in terms of providing a bit more detail, even though as much as I understand the narrative it presents I find its conclusions unconvincing. I was told via a couple of e-mails and twitter that this article was not a good one, but I was unable to get anyone to unpack that for me. To be clear, sending people to read an article is not an endorsement of an article and all of its conclusions, I don't endorse articles unless I say "I endorse this." I do find some articles useful, though, and that includes this one; and even that can change as more information becomes available. As is the case with all articles, even the ones I trumpet to the heavens as gospel, I trust in your ability to discern what rings true to you and what doesn't.

* I didn't find this article useful at all, but I'm sure it worked some people up.

* this is a Tumblr post that several people have passed along with a version of the events leading to where we are right now. A key there would be that this isn't a bolt from the blue for the backers and others, just those of us in a wider community and interested in comics more generally that paid attention to this story once it gained some steam via the alarming Campbell post.

* it's sad to me that Campbell's friends that have expressed concern for the well-being of their fellow cartoonist while at the same time being clear that destroying work people have paid for is a bad outcome have to defend themselves as if they did not qualify their concern. In fact, I would wish for a world where concern never had to be qualified, although I get it and that's not a criticism of the very real place I assume those friends are coming from in making that known. Sadly, there's not a whole lot of room for nuance on-line, or complex truth, or even patience for getting to one of those places. The timing of this kind of thing always gets weird. If there's a discussion to be had about the nature of crowd-funders or capitalism in art or whether or not someone is being an asshole or not -- or whether someone is in an awful place more generally and could use some help -- I think it can wait a few days until friends and family ascertain if someone's harming themselves or in immediate danger.

* this is apparently Campbell's tumblr, with book-burning video up top.

So that's what I have right now. As always, I'm happy to hear from anyone that can shed more light. My hierarchy of concern starts with severe personal pain and immediate personal safety and then folks immediately feeling an impact and then to the structures and then to the sensibilities of on-lookers, and I think there's plenty of time to figure all of it out moving forward. If I can do anything to help divorced from my capacity to try to relay to people what I think may be happening,
 
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Go, Look: Bandette: Urchin Stories

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Go, Read: Chris Schweizer On Being Invited To Pitch

It looks like the cartoonist Chris Schweizer will be doing a short series of voluminous posts on how to pitch graphic novel work, which starts here with nuanced advice on how you need to be invited to pitch and that what we might consider an opportunity to pitch is really best used to familiarize the publisher with your work by presented completed work. It makes more sense when Schweizer writes about. I'm sure there are a million ways to go about this kind of thing, but Schweizer's advaince is practical and hard-won and at worst I would think might be worthy of running by your own thoughts to see where any might clash.

The one positive I can give you is that I think comics does a pretty good job of finding talent and giving it an opportunity. It doesn't away find a place for every talent arguable at a level where they could be published, or bringing that person or their project success once out there, but I don't know of a lot of people that didn't get any chance at all where I've seen stuff later that demanded better treatment without any conceivable reservation.
 
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Go, Look: Keen Detective Funnies #18

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the Yeah, Dude subscription campaign is probably the crowd-funder I've seen with the most work to do in the shortest amount of time for a project that squares mostly with the reading choices of the CR audience (these are all sweeping generalizations, the best kind of generalization).

* this young person with the same name as my first intern from 20 years ago -- and a member of the Columbus, Ohio cartooning community, sent along this crowd-funder and asked me to take a look and maybe list it here. And so I have.

* those nice Inkstuds people, Robin McConnell and Brandon Graham, would like your help in funding a trip to California to make more podcasts. This has actually been out for almost a week now, having been released to the public right after last week's column went live. It happens. It's also crushed so far, so good for those guys.

* it isn't comics, but this game based on the Kill Shakespeare concept which started as comics met its goal one week ago and has to be safely in stretch goals territory by now.

* this also isn't comics, but this Bill Finger tribute film is wrapping up its crowd-funding campaign having met its goal.

* Kumar Sivasubramanian seems well on his way here; I enjoy his podcasts.

image* I'm starting to see a few more Patreon campaigns like this one. I think Meredith Gran's continuing one is still important to watch. She's met her first goal, and is still climbing. She seems right at the middle of a couple of crossroads: someone that has displayed she can make more comics than she's making right now but needs to be supported in doing so, someone with a sizable fanbase but not one that's at a surging point or one that has followed her into similar payment structures in the past for the joy of doing so. It also strikes me if there ends up being a pushback against payment before goals met -- I don't think there will be, actually, not a significant one -- then Patreon's incremental mechanism may be its most important feature and even copied for a single-project fundraising mechanism we have yet to see.

* I'm not sure that I knew that Antarctic Press was another established publishing company using a crowd-funding mechanism for a specific project. Very successfully, it looks like.

* Steve Rude has been doing his sketchbooks this way for a few years now. It's not always in my budget to buy one but I've enjoyed the ones I've purchased.

* finally, congratulations to the WW3 Illustrated crowd-funder for meeting its goal.
 
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Go, Read: Missy

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Go, Read: Twenty Terrible Batman Villains

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* so there's an art contest linked into the release of Paul Pope's Escapo. I'm not usually one to run word of promotional campaigns and contests, but I can see the resulting art for this one as being worth looking at.

* not comics: the director Alain Resnais has passed away. His significant accomplishments have almost nothing to do with how he intersects with comics history, but he was a friend of Stan Lee's and they attempted collaboration, which makes him a key player in Lee's life and thus, one could argue, the entire Hollywood-orientation of the American comic book industry. My sympathies to Mr. Lee, who lost his close friend Arthur Lieberman in Spring 2012. Bart Beaty wrote in after this posted to note that Resnais was a significant figure in comics beyond the Lee link --"Resnais was actually a member of Centre d'Études des Littératures d'Expression Graphique, which was the first important scholarly organization dedicated to the study of comics in the world, and the most important one in France. Further, his 1989 film, I Want To Go Home, was written by Jules Feiffer and is about the differences between French and American cultures as seen through the eyes of an American cartoonist who visits Paris. Indeed, an argument can be made that Resnais is one of the most important non-cartoonists and non-business men in the history of comics." I agree with Bart, and while my point was that Resnais' death made the New York Times for his accomplishments in film rather than those related to comics, I shouldn't have narrowcast his accomplishments in that world.

* Anne Elizabeth Moore on Julio's Day. Meagan Damore on Tomb Raider #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Breath Of Bones. Zac Thompson on Beautiful Darkness. Bob Temuka on Scream!.

* not comics: I keep on forgetting to provide a link to these caricatures commissioned by Gary Arlington in his last days. They're sort of fascinating.

* not comics: this run of tweets that show how the comedian Jonathan Ross went from being asked to host a science fiction awards ceremony to being told that members wouldn't attend for what they describe as a history of cruel joke-telling directed at women and then on to Ross deciding to take a pass is fascinating. I don't actually hold "this person will give us exposure and press" as its own value, or at least don't assign it superceding worth, so the criticism that this attitude costs the awards something doesn't really register with me. Actually, I think it says something about the strength of the protest if people are willing to forego whatever perceived benefit the presenter brings them. At the same time, this strikes me as a deeply unfortunate thing. I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that you have to agree with everything everyone has done in order to participate with them in something; or, to put it in a less hyperbolic way, I think people should be more willing to a participate in a professional event with people with whom they disagree. I bet if you scratch the surface of every single person that someone believes is safe or preferable that there's some ugly element to their character or their work with which they wouldn't necessarily agree -- I know this is true of the sexism discussion I've seen on-line within the comics culture, where I've seen people discussed as "positive" or "supportive" or "a friend on this issue" in strong contrast to whomever with triumphant certainty, and these are people about whom I've heard equally distressing stories. I'm also baffled by the idea that is gaining greater hold where artists reject other artists making uncomfortable or even deeply problematic art (Ross is a comedian), as opposed to, say, openly supporting an aberrant belief system or having done something that violates law or social compact; I still think there's a difference. I wouldn't want a Klan member to present at the Eisners, or George Zimmerman (if it were revealed he was a lifelong comics fan), but I've seen plenty of people present that have made art with which I strongly disagree, or have conducted themselves within the industry in a way I think harmful. The person in the Ross article that proposes themselves as a counter-possibility baffles me for a completely different reason, although that person at least made me laugh.

* Hannah Means-Shannon talks to Christina Blanch.

image* Last Gasp has a logo contest going on right now, and are offering items-in-trade rather than a cash payment to the winner.

* this is a very sweet story about a comics shop, and cites the virtues of one in a way that I sometimes forget comics shops are important. The comics shop was the first place where I shopped regularly, with a local merchant, a man who knew my name and what I liked to buy and valued my business and my opinions. I have never shopped in one of those "community" comics shops -- or if I did, I was never a part of that community. But I did have some great experiences growing up at comics shops that I remember as being of a kind with the first bank that treated me well, the first bookstore that treated me well, the first music store that treated me well. It is indeed a thrill to be taken seriously in your interest, and to be treated with respect across the board. God bless good comics shops.

* I've seen worse.

* finally, I love this photo. We all owe a special thank you to the men and women currently aged 55 to 80 that worked in comics at some point, for all that they gave dignity to the form at a time when the general culture wasn't so generous.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Augie De Blieck!

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this is an improper appropriation of this photo, but I hope I can be forgiven given the prominence it has on De Blick's primary professional page
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Dan Mishkin!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Max Allan Collins!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Skottie Young!

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March 2, 2014


Go, Read: Bhob Stewart On Wally Wood At Potrzebie

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Bhob Stewart was one of the five necessary writers about comic books and his greatest subject was Wally Wood. Here are the blog entries at his Potrzebie site that are tagged with Wood's name, so you get a mix of articles about, collaborations with and items of interest -- it's as close as you'll get to seeing Wood Stewart's eyes a little bit.
 
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Collective Memory: Bhob Stewart, 1937-2014

imageCommentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of writer, artist and historian Bhob Stewart.

*****

Institutional
* ComicVine Entry
* IMDB Entry
* Site
* Wikipedia Entry

Miscellaneous
* 1968 Letter

* Alibris Author Search
* Amazon.com Author Search

* ComicBookDB.com
* Cover To An Issue Of Castle Of Frankenstein Featuring Stewart Art
* Cover To An Issue of Mindfucke

* Discussion Of Letter Sent To Fredric Wertham

* eBay Name Search
* East Village Blog Name Search
* Entry For 1962 On eBay To Which Stewart Contributed

* Hooded Utilitarian Name Search

* Marvel.com Author Search

* SpiderFan.org Entry

* Tally Ho On The Corcoran Exhibit

Posted In Memory
* 13th Dimension

* Article On The Underground Comics Exhibit He Curated In 1969

* Barbara's Obits And Memorials
* Batton Lash
* Bill Pearson At TCJ.com
* Booksteve's Library

* Chicken Fat
* Classic Horror Film Board
* Comic Bits Online

* Entrecomics

* Fancyclopedia 3

* Image Accompanying Bill Pearson Obituary

* Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
* Michael Dooley At Print Magazine

* NSU Magazine

* Robot 6

* Sean Howe
* SF Site

* Tally Ho
* The Beat

imageTwitter
* Boris N. Iverson
* Brad Brooks 01
* Brad Brooks 02

* Carol Tilley 01
* Carol Tilley 02
* Christopher J. Garcia
* Craig Fischer

* Dan Erdman
* Dylan Horrocks

* Evan Dorkin

* Hello Printmaker

* Inkstuds

* Jeet Heer

* Mark Waid
* Metabunker
* Michael Dooley

* Print

* Rodrigo Baeza

* Scott Dunbier
* Scott Edelman
* Sean Kleefeld

* Tim Lucas
* Tommy

* Villly!

Work By Stewart
* JC In The Realist 01
* JC In The Realist 02
* Jungle Jim Story Written For Wally Wood
* The Phonus Balonus Show Of Some Really Heavy Stuff
* There Are Good Guys And Bad Guys

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Go, Buy: Last Day For The Arthur Magazine Close-Out Sale

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Go, Look: The Vanguard

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Not Comics: Character Designs From Ratatouille

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OTBP: Mould Map 3

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Go, Look: Square Comix

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

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

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Mark Evanier!

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FFF Results Post #369 -- Homework

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Cartoonists Whose Work 20-Year-Old Cartooning Students Should Be Exposed To." This is how they responded.

*****

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Gene Hall

1. Steve Ditko
2. Moebius
3. Harvey Kurtzman
4. George Herriman
5. Osamu Tezuka

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. John Porcellino
2. Julia Wertz
3. Peter Arno
4. Carl Barks
5. Jack Kirby

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1 John Porcellino
2 Harvey Kurtzman
3 Julie Doucet
4 Ernie Bushmiller
5 Kyoko Ariyoshi

*****

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Aaron Costain

* Jon McNaught
* Roy Crane
* Dash Shaw
* Anders Nilsen
* Lewis Trondheim

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. Alex Toth
2. Harvey Kurtzman
3. Yoshihiro Tatsumi
4. Art Young
5. Chester Gould

*****

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Mark Haven Britt

1. Jack Kirby
2. Joe Sacco
3. Lynda Barry
4. Kyle Baker
5. Mike Mignola

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Peter Bagge
2. Steve Ditko
3. Alex Toth
4. Jack Kirby
5. art spiegelman

*****

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Art Baxter

1. Lynda Barry
2. Michael Deforge
3. John Stanley
4. Charles Schulz
5. Tove Jansson

*****

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Ben Zwolinski

* George Herriman
* Dan Decarlo
* Jim Steranko
* Peter Kuper
* John Arne Sæterøy

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Joe Kubert
2. Milton Caniff
3. George Perez
4. Garry Trudeau
5. Howard Chaykin

*****

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Steve Murphy

1. Nick Cardy (design sense/aesthetic beauty)
2. Walt Kelly (brushwork)
3. Vittorio Giardino (backgrounds/sense of place)
4. Milton Caniff (for doing so much in such limited space)
5. Ed Piskor (watching talent grow in real-time)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Will Eisner
2. Jack Kirby
3. Milt Caniff
4. Elzie Segar
5. George Herriman

*****

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Janelle Hessig

1. Lynda Barry
2. Vanessa Davis
3. Dan DeCarlo
4. Al Jaffee
5. Robert Crumb

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Alex Toth
2. Bryan Lee O'Malley
3. David Mazzucchelli
4. Lynda Barry
5. Harvey Kurtzman

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Larry Marder
2. Lynda Barry
3. Fiona Staples
4. Kevin Huizenga
5. Milton Caniff

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Andi Watson
2. Steve Rude
3. Rumiko Takahashi
4. Seth
5. Mike Mignola

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Floyd Gottfredson
2. Lewis Trondheim
3. Alberto Breccia
4. Naoki Urasawa
5. M. K. Brown

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Lynda Barry
2. Justin Green
3. Osamu Tezuka
4. James Thurber
5. Harvey Kurtzman

*****

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Ian MacEwan

1. José Munoz
2. Bernard Krigstein
3. George Herriman
4. Osamu Tezuka
5. Moebius

*****

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Jason Sacks

1. Carl Barks: For panel composition, character design and story building
2. Will Eisner: For storytelling, atmospherics and the smart use of exaggeration
3. Jacques Tardi: For the simplicity of his line work and the complexity of the material he presents
4. Shigeru Mizuki: For the way he effortlessly evokes a world that mixes realism and exaggeration in creating fantasy
5. Bernard Krigstein: For the way he thought through the stories he presented to maximize their drama and impact

*****

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Dan Morris

1. Osamu Tezuka
2. Jim Rugg
3. Megan Kelso
4. Mike Mignola
5. Roy Crane

*****

image

Sean Kleefeld

1. Milton Caniff
2. Lynd Ward
3. Howard Chaykin
4. Goseki Kojima
5. George Herriman

*****

image

Austin English

1. charlotte salomon
2. lyonel feininger
3. julie doucet
4. Roz Chast
5. Carol Tyler

*****

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David Robertson

* Peter Bagge
* George Herriman
* James Kochalka
* Jeff Smith
* Chris Ware

*****

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Brian Moore

1. Charles Addams
2. Carl Barks
3. Julie Doucet
4. Larry Gonick
5. Posy Simmonds

*****

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Eric Knisley

1. Chester Gould (mastery of composition and spot blacks)
2. Matt Feazell (economical cartooning and snappy, funny writing)
3. Matt Wagner (Grendel, for page layouts and narrative flow)
4. Winsor McCay (the potential of comics)
5. Jack Kirby (inspiration!)

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Jack Kirby
* Will Eisner
* Alex Toth
* Milton Caniff
* Walt Kelly

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. George Herriman
2. Larry Marder
3. Lynda Barry
4. Scott McCloud
5. Elzie Segar

*****

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Scott Cederlund

1. Harvey Kurtzman
2. Robert Crumb
3. Chris Ware
4. Gilbert Shelton
5. Jaime Hernandez

*****

image

Marc Arsenault

1. Jason Shiga
2. Taiyo Matsumoto
3. Dash Shaw
4. Alex Toth
5. Walt Kelly

*****

thanks to Paul Karasik for the idea

*****
*****
 
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