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














January 31, 2015


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Demonstration Video For Nobrow iPad App


Art Spiegelman At The Wexner Center


Sketching Spotlight 2014


Brian Bendis On Late Night With Seth Meyers


Portrait Of A Brooklyn Hustler


Trish Trash: Rollergirl Sur Mars
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from January 24 to January 30, 2015:

1. Angouleme gets underway with a significant focus on the Charlie Hebdo killings. Katsuhiro Otomo is named the first Grand Prix winner from the manga tradition.

2. The great Indian cartoonist RK Laxman passes away at 93 years old.

3. Zunar's office is once again raided by police, with several books confiscated.

Winner Of The Week
Katsuhiro Otomo. So very deserved.

Loser Of The Week
Poor Jim Wheelock! I hope there's some progress there.

Quote Of The Week
"After the war, he was behaving oddly. He began to torture animals. His grandparents sent him to military school because that was the only way they thought they could deal with that kind of behavior. These days we know about PTSD, we know about childhood traumas like that. You know, he probably, in this day and age, he would have received years of therapy... I think I understand where he comes from. I do not agree [with] his actions. I do not agree with his ideology. But I do understand." -- Nina Bunjevac, on her father

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the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

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Missed It: Anne Ishii Interviews Elisha Lim

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

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

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January 30, 2015


Go, Watch: Black Raven (Mythomania 2)


 
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Go, Read: Martin Dupuis On Le Garage Hermétique

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Go, Look: Alex Barrett

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Go, Read: Profile Of Kevin Necessary

I enjoyed this pretty standard local cartoonist profile of Kevin Necessary for a few reasons. The first is that the professional path you can put together from the piece for the 35-year-old cartoonist and journalist is pretty brutal, just a real wasteland in terms of jobs even for the enthusiastic and talented. I like that that wasn't whitewashed. Another is that the cartoonist is presented as providing a service to the community that isn't available from traditional sources any longer. We sometimes forget in comics that an entire region can lose a certain voice if there are no home editorial cartoonists of any kind. It's not that Necessary replaces a Jim Borgman, but it must be nicer than it isn't to have someone out there in the area doing cartoons like this. Yet another thing I liked about the piece is that it looks like his current job is working for broadcast media but in their digital iteration -- a common space that television and newspapers both wish to utilize. He's pretty up front about making his cartoons work when read on the phone, too, which is something I hadn't thought of before now but makes total sense.

The cartoonist's web site is here.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Lay Lines

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Ali Ferzat Briefly In The News As A Critic Of European Nation Policies Towards Syrian Refugees

imageThe Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat made a brief appearance in the news this week for criticizing UK policy on accepting Syrian refugees. The country apparently has yet to accept 100 of what is estimated to be millions of poor souls displaced by the ongoing battles for control within that country. The cartoon at right, which appared in the Independent makes clear Ferzat's view on the matter. You should go look at it at a better size.

Ferzat resides in Kuwait, following his 2011 experience of a brutal attack by pro-regime thugs directed at him stopping his editorial cartoons. In fact, I'm not sure I've seen a Ferzat cartoon made since that time. As a famous Syrian refugee, Ferzat seems a fine choice to speak out on the issue.
 
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Go, Look: Alex Toth On Green Lantern

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Go, Read: Tom Toro On His First Cartoon Sale

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I'm very fond of cartoonist profile articles, and this one comes from an NPR series on early career breaks. A high-achieving, one-time golden child that ends up back at home after school is a profile that a few dozen people in the comics world share with Mr. Toro. I also love that making cartoons for The New Yorker still has some force as a cultural idea, even if it's only on the radio equivalent of that magazine's prime.
 
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OTBP: Les Animaux Des Distance

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Collective Memory: RK Laxman, 1921-2015

imageCommentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of the cartoonist RK Laxman.

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Institutional
* Encyclopedia Britannica
* Wikipedia Entry

Miscellaneous
* 1998 Book Review
* 2011 Profile In The Hindu
* 2012 Article On Laxman's 91st Birthday
* The Times Of India On Chair Started In Laxman's Name
* The Times Of India On His Final Illness

Posted In Memory
* #rklaxman
* ANI News
* Anna MM Veticad
* BBC
* India Today
* Rajdeep Sardesai
* Reuters
* The Hindu 01
* The Hindu 02
* The Hindu 03
* The Times Of India 01
* The Times Of India 02
* University Express

Twitter
* Amitabh Bachchan
* Ann Telnaes
* Mike Lynch
* Times Of India

Work By Laxman
* Times Of India

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Go, Look: Nausea

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

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Go, Look: Love Letters #38

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Chris Eckert and roommate Jessica on the stupefying awfulness that was Wizard in its prime.

image* Sean Gaffney on Whispered Words Vol. 3. James Kaplan on some of those Dynamite-King comics.

* Jesse Lucas talks to Leslie Stein. Jason Concepcion talks to Nick Spencer.

* Brandon Graham and Filip Sablik exchange words on the broad parameters of BOOM!'s creator-participation deal.

* Chris Butcher calls for special attention on the part of convention organizers to the needs of comics-sellers at comics conventions and comics art festivals.

* not comics: these people sound horrible. This film, on the other hand, sounds really interesting.

* congratulations to Matthew Inman on this astounding game fundraiser.

* I did not know half of this stuff about Marvel's Secret Wars franchise.

* finally, Coop dreams.
 
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January 29, 2015


Katsuhiro Otomo Wins Grand Prix Award At Angouleme

imageWire reports have lit up in the last 45 minutes with news that the cartoonist Katsuhiro Otomo has won the Grand Prix Award at this year's FIBD in Angouleme. That means he'll be president of next year's festival. That role means he'll be the focus of press attention and a shaper of the show itself with a likely personal retrospective and a likely additional show related to his work or an area/cartoonist about which he's passionate.

Otomo is the first person from the great world comics tradition in Japan to win the honor, which means it's incredibly overdue. I remember for a while under the old system thinking that Jiro Taniguchi might sneak in some year. With a more populist-oriented voting system rather than pure peer-review Otomo makes perfect sense. I think he's a great cartoonist and Akira is a great work, so I'm super-happy about this.

It also surprised the shit out of me, because I thought they voted during the weekend. It makes sense that you'd get the PR benefit of announcing as the show got underway, though.

The five cartoonists who were slain in the Charlie Hebdo killings received a special Grand Prix honor.


 
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Go, Look: Marta Monteiro

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ComiXology Launches Sales Tied Into FIBD And Humanoids Deal

imageI don't usually pay a lot of attention to press releases, but I thought the one this morning from comiXology might worth noting for a few reasons. They're a significant company for North American comics, they're a significant company for European comics, and they're a North American company more intensely involved with European comics at Angouleme in a way that other publisher that are based in the US or Canada simply aren't. In fact, it was comiXology signing deals with European publishers that drove major attention to how that company was doing in what was once a much more volatile competition for digital comics services.

I'm also sort of interested in the digital aspect of festivals, which no one has nailed yet.

In addition to having feet on the ground -- again, a rarity over there -- comiXology will apparently offer a sale they claim is curated to be representative of the "international comics scene." They're also promising direct coverage via social media (I don't have any idea what that means, but I'll check it out), and within their release provided a shout out to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo killings.

They also seem to have a Humanoids sale going, celebrating their deal with that BD publisher.
 
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Go, Look: Yoshikazu Ebisu Ads From Garo

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Missed It: RK Laxman, RIP

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I'm greatly embarrassed that after tracking details of his latest illness, including a minor rally, I somehow missed completely when word finally came that RK Laxman, the Indian cartoonist know for his "Common Man" character, died on Monday, January 26. He was 93 years old.

Laxman's comics were a significant part of popular culture in India during its post-colonial era in the same way that Walt Disney cartoons will always have that sense of World War 2 about them. I'll have more tomorrow.
 
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Go, Look: The Battle Of The Monsters

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Go, Look: Not Sure I've Ever Seen An EC Stoner Story

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This recurring column is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or in the linked-to articles that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* lot of standard "Hebdo remembered at Angouleme" articles out there this morning.

* Facebook has apparently complied with a Turkish court ruling about the posting of a Hebdo Muhammed image. The article plays it as a kind of old-fashioned message-board argumentation "gotcha" moment, but I don't know that I see isolated incidents like as damning or indicative. Lot of shit needs to be figured out and individual instances might be all over the place for a while.

* here's a report about a man with ties to the two brothers that pepetrated the murders being arrested, which sounds reasonable, followed by a report of an eight-year-old being questioned, which sounds insane.

* this Turkish press article gives a brief outline of how free speech issues as played out in the reaction to the Hebdo killings have nationalistic ramifications.

* this poll is interesting, that there was a spike in Americans believing in the publication of such cartoons after the Hebdo incident. I wonder what it would be right now.

* this breaks my heart because it sounds like the image was posted in a way that fulfills the newspaper's mission to inform, which I strongly believe does sometimes steer a publication into problematic areas.

* finally, it's the kind of thing in which I have the least interest regarding the Hebdo killings, but probably the biggest thing going in terms of on-line debating about broader issues of politics and discourse tangentially-to-directly involved with the Hebdo killings is this Jonathan Chait essay. Those responding include Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, Alex Pareene, Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti. There may be more vitriol in all of those posts than reasoned discourse, but these are issues about which people feel strongly.
 
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Go, Look: New York City: The Future

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* there were several pertinent announcements this week, and I fully expect there to be stuffed columns every week this year I don't get to five or six stories as their own posts.

* Short Run, the well-liked Seattle small press show that's moved around a bit in town and on the calendar, has announced its 2015 show for October 31 and the Seattle Center. That's great news in that as far as I know no one else is doing a show that weekend and I hope to attend. They're in the Fisher Pavilion this time around -- I don't remember where they were that first year -- and that's a nice space. The Center is adjacent to a nice part of that city. Also, Halloween in Seattle seems like an occasion for socializing that won't make those of us over 35 head to the hills. It's also interesting news that they're sticking to a one-day model when most shows with the intensity of their success go to a two-day format sooner rather than later. I love one-day shows and I wish there was more of them. Also, they apparently make decisions at retreats, which is hardcore.

* did you wonder if New South Fest was still a thing? I did. It is! Heidi MacDonald gathered all the pertinent information and put it into one place. I love Austin, and wish them luck. They'll be open for exhibitor applications on Monday.

* CR talked to Zack Soto, the co-organizer on Linework NW, about the questions raised by the split exhibitor strategy in terms of the special guests: Daniel Clowes, Lisa Hanawalt, Lisa Congdon and Jay Howell. Basically, whether we'd see all four guests both days, or if one or two might be only doing one day of the show.
"We'll be posting the full schedules once we have all the confirmations from exhibitors, but fyi we will be splitting the tabling times of the guests. Most will have some crossover panels on the opposite days though, so they will be around just not tabling. The plan is to have Howell & Hanawalt star on Saturday, with Congdon & Clowes taking over on Sunday."
Thanks, Zack.

* APE has announced for October 3-4, the same weekend as the festival I'm running, Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, which was announced last month. They're going to be in the San Jose Convention Center and it looks like they're shooting for about 300 exhibitors.

* ELCAF will be two days this year, and has announced for mid-June.

* finally, this travel site devoted to various methods of finding a place to stay in San Diego during Comic-Con International looks interesting, but I don't know enough about such sites to endorse it or whatever.
 
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If I Were In France, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Eagle Annual #7

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Colm Creamer on Nikolai Dante Volume One: The Romanov Dynasty. Nicole Rudick on The Complete Zap. Gary Tyrrell on The Sculptor.

* not comics: it looks like most big-city and university-town dwellers will have a better-than-average chance to see the film version of Diary Of A Teenage Girl. That sounds good; count me in.

* not comics: an album cover by Jaime Hernandez I hadn't seen, or have forgotten if I had.

* Matthew Badham talks to Calum Laird. Whit Taylor talks to Chuck Forsman. Janelle Asselin talks to Matt Gagnon. Andrew Yates talks to Dan Brereton.

* far too late I'm reminded that Jessica Abel does an eating guide for Angouleme.

* someday I'd like to sit down and give some serious thought to the history of gaming comics, which have to be somewhere between their 30th and 40th year at this point. They're still going strong.

* not comics: Golden Apple is included in this photo-essay of 1980s Melrose Avenue landmarks.

* finally, Eric Roesner presents the very first Yeti Press effort.
 
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January 28, 2015


Go, Look: Josh Burggraf

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Zunar Sends Along Photos Of Police Raiding His Office, Confiscating His Books

The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar had four images sent along via an e-mail today: two of his office where police have newly visited looking to confiscate books, and two of the cover images of the books in question. Zunar is currently in London so missed the visit.

His message:
"Malaysian police raided my office this morning (Jan 28, 2005) under Section 2 of the Printing Press and Publications Act (PPPA), Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, and Section 500 of the Penal Code. But I am currently in London. 155 books were confiscated in the raid -- Pirate of The Carry BN and Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar."
Zunar has been the target of renewed harassment by authorities in his native country since last Fall, starting just a couple of weeks after he won a major court decision about harassment and confiscation issues that were directed at him in 2010. As such -- and also for the broad array of entry points they seem to be using -- this series of events reads as more troubling to me as the first round.

The cartoonist is respected as a fearless political and social commentator, although I have yet to see a single cartoon from him that would cross the line at even the most conservative, old-timey North American newspaper editorial page. We wish him the continued best in the months ahead and he'll have our direct support if there's a tangible way to offer it during whatever comes next.

Two photos, two cover images:

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Go, Look: The First Book Of Jazz

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A Couple Of Notes About This Weekend's Angouleme Festival

The Festival International De La Bandes Dessinées is sort of unofficially underway in Angouleme right now. A formal start tomorrow. That's always a big deal: it's the biggest and most important show for one of great world traditions of comics. This year is of special interest for a few obvious reasons: here are some of the things to keep an eye on.

image1. Hebdo. The biggest worldwide news story of the year so far, the murder of multiple people in the Charlie Hebdo offices on January 7, is bound to dominate the discourse and mood of the show this year round. I have no idea what this means we'll see in an overall sense, but I suspect that first and foremost extra security measures are going to make a show sometimes difficult to negotiate outright treacherous. I hope all of my friends that desire to see one exhibit or another will use any special opportunity they have to do so. I also imagine that you'll see some really broad gestures on behalf of free speech, perhaps even the French equivalent of Dr. Doom crying because of 9/11. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. I'll be most interested to see how much it's on the minds and tongues of those attending.

2. Watterson. It's Bill Watterson's presidency this year, the outcome of a voting designed to engage with a larger number of candidates and reduce pressure on the winners to negotiate how to give or not give a first-sentence-of-obit honor to friends and peers. Watterson drew a new comic and will be represented with a version of the Billy Ireland museum exhibit, which was impressive when I saw it in Columbus last year. It remains to be seen if this more populist-oriented way of voting leads to candidates that capture the imagination of those attending. We'll also have a second round of voting of grand prix to kind of figure out where that award is going.

3. Comics As A Career. My understanding is that careerist issues are an underlying but vital issue in French-language comics right now, with some younger and even popular cartoonists making public their desire to go down a more rewarding career path. My further understanding is that this introspection was triggered by some policy proposals in terms that would have a direct impact on all cartoonists below the "wildly successful" line, but has as its main fuel the reshaping of the French industry over the last several years towards a huge number of titles being published but very few breaking out and selling more than modest number. At the same time, I also get the sense from watching that market and its culture that you have a lot of comics-makers and institutions that are matter-of-fact about what they do and their desire to continue doing it; it's a structural issue, not a generational one. I think the number of experienced pros on hand should make for a really good festival in the wider sense: there should even be a solid slate of events outside of the official ones, as those are run by mostly veteran comics-makers now.

4. US Indy/Alt Presence. There are a number of cartoonists and comics people heading over. Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics is one of the newbies that this year benefits from a state-sponsored program to get coverage and secure publishing arrangements for French-language comics; it's a program I've applied to but for which I wasn't selected. But hey, if I were a French cartoonist I'd rather see more North American publishers than press. I think there's a small but significant number of the cartoonists over there for whom their primary publisher in Europe isn't just a bonus avenue for getting the work out there but very nearly or even absolutely a primary publisher. In return, it's interesting to see which cartoonists drive interest.

5. comiXology. I have no idea if their deal with Amazon has changed the way they're perceived or even has publishing ramifications, but I'm going to keep an ear to the ground in case there are any rumblings similar to the faint ones over here last year when it was announced last Spring.

I hope that everyone is traveling safely and continues to be safe through the entire weekend. We all look forward to seeing what results.
 
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OTBP: I Am Such A Disappointment

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This Isn't A Library: New, Notable Releases From Comics' Direct Market

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

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

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NOV140529 CASANOVA ACEDIA #1 (MR) $3.99
NOV140643 BITCH PLANET #2 (MR) $3.50
NOV140680 SEX #19 (MR) $2.99
SEP140750 SEX CRIMINALS #10 (MR) $3.50
NOV140175 MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK #1 $7.99
NOV141132 ADVENTURE TIME #36 $3.99
There's not a stuff out this week that I personally enjoy -- it's sort of the opposite of last week -- so I'd pay some extra attention to the comic book-format comics and maybe even take home more than listed here. It's a good week for Image, with new Bitch Planet, Sex and last year's surprise hit Sex Criminals. The most interesting comic to be in their section of the Diamond list is the first issue of Matt Fraction rotating collaboration with Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon: Casanova. That's the series' third cycle and I think the second cycle in particular was overlooked. I don't have any interest in a guidebook but Grant Morrison's involvement and the presence of some short comics will have me picking it up. The Adventure Time jumped out at me because I would have guessed they were still in the early 20s issues-wise.

imageNOV141817 TWELVE-CENT ARCHIE SC $26.95
This is Bart Beaty's new work, a dissection of Archie publications from the 1960s with a resulting 100 essays/observations. I'm looking forward to reading it; it should be fun. Bart sometimes publishes here, so you'll probably never know if this is a reliable recommendation or not, but I still look forward to seeing my copy.

NOV141526 LOU CALE SNAPPING BIG APPLES BAD SEEDS HC (MR) $34.95
This looks like hardcore mainstream French BD: a period-piece comic from the late 1980s, early 1990s album series about a crime photographer who then solves the crimes.

SEP140081 EYE OF NEWT HC $17.99
This is the kind of painted, high-fantasy comic that probably kept me interested in the medium between the ages of 10 and 12 yet also something for which I have almost new appetite now. It looks pretty, though, and I tend to like the Dark Horse no-fuss method of collecting their various short series.

DEC141512 LOVE & ROCKETS LIBRARY GILBERT GN VOL 01 HEARTBREAK SOUP $18.99
OCT141485 LOVE & ROCKETS LIBRARY GILBERT GN VOL 05 OFELIA $19.99
OCT141487 LOVE & ROCKETS LIBRARY JAIME GN VOL 03 PERLA LA LOCA (NEW PT) $18.99
DEC141510 PRISON PIT GN VOL 02 $14.99
DEC141511 PRISON PIT GN VOL 03 $14.99
DEC141024 STREET ANGEL HC NEW PTG (MR) $19.95
DEC141532 ZITA THE SPACEGIRL GN NEW PTG $12.99
OV141451 EIGHTBALL GHOST WORLD TP $14.99
It's reprint season. I'm sure there are tons more books of this type coming out, but I only caught these on a walk-through. You likely want them all.

NOV141184 JOHN CULLEN MURPHY BIG BEN BOLT DAILIES TP VOL 01 $24.95
I would have featured this one more prominently, but none of the images on-line are big enough for me to do that. John Cullen Murphy's sports comic was a tiny bit out of its time, but it was handsome and looked good in a suit (or in shorts) and at this late date you can imagine it having a half-generation's worth of serious plaudits that never quite came through in the real world.

DEC141509 SAINT COLE GN $19.99
This is Noah Van Sciver's comic about a chemically agitated dope who wanders around fucking things up before things take a change for the [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS]. It's not my favorite milieu for Van Sciver, but it's one that's proven very popular for him in carving out some space in the imaginations of his peer group and from alt-comics fans more generally.

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

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Desert Eyeball

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Go, Look: 1940s Gag Panel Gallery

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Go, Look: Laura Hilton-Smith

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By Request Extra: DC Bumps Up Norm Breyfogle-Focused Collection

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Chris Sims over at ComicsAlliance caught something potentially very nice on DC Comics' part: the company may have bumped up a forthcoming collection of Norm Breyfogle's Batman-related work to make for an opportunity to see that the artist, currently recovering from a severe stroke, has the benefit of whatever money might be due from the sale of that book. I have no idea how those contracts work, but at the very least it puts him in the spotlight a bit at a time he could use that attention. You can donate directly here.
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Master Comics #12

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Abhay Khosla on The Names #1. Rich Griset on Street Angel #1.

* Kate Beaton draws Katniss and Harry Potter.

* these Gilbert Hernandez comics in Vice are weird and great. Roy 4-ever.

* comics are everywhere.

* it's weird that anyone would do sex comics under an assumed name at this late date -- unless you were Jim Davis, or that guy who does the angry conservative editorial comics -- but it's not my choice to make. The comic itself is attractive.

* not comics: here's a piece on newspaper economics, which are important because they facilitate the newspaper comic strip industry. They're not good. I'm not sure what had to be done with newspapers, but it seems like it wasn't, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one more freefall period in the next 30 months or so. Smaller.

* in case I forget to do it in the releases column the day it comes out, congratulations to Todd McFarlane on Spawn #250. That was quite the game-changing comic when it came and the degree of difficulty in transferring interest almost on a 1:1 basis from corporate characters to your own is never easy or everyone would do it.

* not comics: I'm thinking of buying one of these and doing a year's worth of cons.

* finally, Chris Pitzer is delighted to show you Sophie Goldstein's thumbnails for The Oven.
 
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January 27, 2015


Go, Look: TEAMSUZETTE

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Go, Look: Eitan Eloa

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By Request Extra: Erica Friedman Has A Patreon

I wanted to mention really briefly that the writer about comics Erica Friedman has a Patreon that I didn't notice until she announced its imminent closure. This is a big year for Patreon flattening out -- for there just being a ton of them, at all levels, and it's not the worst idea in the world to reconsider your comics and about-comics consumption and figure out what might be worth paying for.
 
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Go, Look: Bernard Crowsheet

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Not Comics: Yet Another Horrifying Gaming-Related Post

Here. It's pretty self-explanatory. I don't follow that world very closely but that is just unacceptable, hateful idiocy, a parade of verbal sewage masquerading -- literally, almost no one uses their real name -- as righteous action. Good gravy. Even on the worst week ever by the TCJ message board, one of the notoriously hard-edged places for people talking on the Internet in the late 1990s through the early 2000s, 98 percent of these tweets as a single tweet would have immediately caused shouting at and banning of the dope perpetrating it.

I think it's good for people in comics to pay attention to fields with some overlap in cultural terms. It helps to know what something largely idiotic and hateful looks like so that it can better avoided closer to home. It doesn't make me feel god that this kind of thing has to happen anywhere, but I think a lot of folks than ever resolved this kind of direct harassment doesn't happen in comics, and I think that's good. Also, I'm not sure why angry speech directed at someone is treated in many cases as speech made just to be making it or in a non-confrontational context. How does that work? That seems dumb to me.
 
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Go, Look: Andreslob.com

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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Cabu's Catherine Comics

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Noah Van Sciver and Kilgore Books have announced a new issue of Van Sciver's long-running solo series, Blammo, this issue being #8 1/2. It will debut at LA Zine Fest and be available for immediate turnaround purchase right around Valentine's Day, but you can preorder it now. It's full-color.

image* the whole world will surely have seen this by now as it was released five days ago, but Bryan Lee O'Malley's variant cover for the new Zander Cannon is awfully cute.

* check out Al Jaffee's art for a forthcoming Smoke Signal. Now that's a get.

* here's a PR notice about a new work from Winshluss at Knockabout: In God We Trust.

* this is the first time I've seen an official notice that Craig Thompson's all-ages sci-fi book is one the schedule: the Scholastic book is due in August, apparently.

* Kevin Melrose unearthed a production blog for Southern Cross, debuting in about eight weeks.

* finally, what a thrill to see Ganges-related preview imagery from the great Kevin Huizenga.

*****

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Go, Look: Ring Of Death

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Cole Johnson, RIP. Our condolences to his family and loved ones.

image* Todd Klein on Astro City #17. Tjeerd Royaards on Warning: Graphic Content. Oliver Sava on March Book Two. Steven Brower on The Art Of The Simon And Kirby Studio. Win Wiacek on Treasury Of Mini-Comics Vol. 2. Derek Royal on Bumf Vol. 1.

* J. Bone draws Tintin and Snowy. Creig Flessel draws an "exotic" street scene typical to the pulp era.

* behind the scenes at Saga.

* congratulations to Susan Kirtley, Brian Bendis and the other educators at Portland State University that get to teach comics within a more formal structure and framework.

* not comics: this article is making the rounds again -- at least I swear to God I've seen it before. I think we should maybe spend more time divorcing the value we place in art from any expectation it should make money, let alone generate a certain level of income. Rich relatives, grants, good day jobs, the ability to live a certain way, the ability to do art that has a commercial function: it's all a great thing. I also think that in a better world for the arts the question of providing artists a living would be a more severe one for the institutions that surround art rather than for the artists, but I'm probably pretty alone on that one.

* Calvin Reid talks to Miss Lasko-Gross. RJ Casey profiles Jean de Wet. Arun Rath talks to Nina Bunjevac.

* finally, it's not comics, but I enjoyed this R. Kikuo Johnson illustration of Jeb Bush and the other primary members of the Bush Clan. It was his holiday card image.
 
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January 26, 2015


Go, Look: Fred Campbell

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Alternative Comics Announces Spring 2015 Season

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In a press release distributed this morning, Marc Arsenault's Alternative Comics announced its Spring 2015 season and the fact that Eric Aucoin will be acting as an Associate Editor for the line. This will be their first season with Consortium Book Sales & Distribution -- that company expanded its interests in comics last year with a lot of folks attending a sales meeting the same week as 2014's CAB show.

The books they're releasing, a mix of reprints, collections and initially-published works, are:

* Clover Honey, Rich Tommaso, softcover, 136 pages, FEB150911, 9781934460863, February, $14.95.
* From Now On, Malachi Ward, softcover, 144 pages, 9781934460917, June, $14.95.
* Oh, That Monroe, Sam Henderson, softcover, 128 pages, 9781934460870, no month given, $11.99.
* Quit Your Job And Other Stories, James Kochalka, softcover, 192 pages, 9781934460931, no month given, $15.95.
* Sunbeam on the Astronaut, Steven Cerio, 48 pages, 9781934460238, no month given, $9.95.
* Smilin' Ed Comics, Raoul Vezina And Tom Skulan, softcover, 160 pages, 9781934460856, June, $19.95.
* The SAW Guide to Making Professional Comic Strips, Tom Hart, softcover, 96 pages, 9781934460894, June, $12.95.

The Clover Honey book takes me back. That's a re-publication of Tommaso's not-serialized, stand-alone graphic novel done for Fantagraphics in the mid-1990s when that was considered a really weird thing to exist. Not only was that an appealing format for publishers at the time because of the promise of bookstores, the numbers were perceived to be better in a lot of different ways (there was some debate).
 
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Go, Look: Al Williamson Images Mini-Gallery

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Please Keep An Eye Out For Jim Wheelock's Stolen Comics, Music And Art Collection

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Bleeding Cool has Jim Wheelock's letter about a massive number of comics stolen from a storage facility in Vermont. There may also be art and music involved in a similarly curated form. If you're a dealer or a buyer in that area and can help Mr. Wheelock track down his material, please keep an eye out and please contact Mr. Wheelock directly through information on the other side of that link.

Having that much curated material taken from you must be heartbreaking, and I hope it works out for the cartoonist.

cover image from a comic another copy of which was in the collection
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Dave Gerhard Gag Cartoons

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Festivals Extra: SPX Explains Its Lottery System

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It's here in full. Small Press Expo is one of the big shows and if you have material to sell that is of the kind the show is there to facilitate, SPX should be on your absolute list of things to do.

Good luck to all those that will participate in their mighty lottery.
 
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Go, Look: Goran Parlov Images Mini-Gallery

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Festivals Extra: Linework NW Announces Special Guests Clowes, Congdon, Hanawalt And Howell

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This Spring's Linework NW Illlustration And Comics Festival in Portland, Oregon, announced on Friday their four special guests Daniel Clowes, Lisa Congdon, Lisa Hanawalt and Jay Howell.

Clowes will be debuting his The Complete Eightball 1-18 two-volume collection at the show, so that's a heck of a get just right there, all by itself. It's a good mix, though, that hits their target audience and encompasses the illustration part of their mission very well. I also like how Lisa Hanawalt is becoming a significant guest at these shows regardless of whether or not she has brand new bookstore work out, I think in part because in addition to being an appealing guest generally she hits a lot of target areas for different shows and is generally point-to-it busy in one or more of the things she does. The reason I mention that is that I frequently wonder how the careers of under-40s in comics are shaped, and how that might have an effect on things like shows.

What I don't know looking at the list is if all four creators will be there both days -- the show is splitting some of its exhibitors into individual days in order to better encompass the massive creative community there in Portland, and it would make total sense if one or more of the special guests were only going to do one of the days. Let's assume for now all of them are there on both April 18 and April 19, and if I hear differently I'll get back to you. If you don't hear from me at all, like I fall in a sinkhole or something, at least maybe you'll remember to ask someone if it's a concern.

images supplied by the festival
 
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Go, Look: 1960s Yogi Bear Sunday Newspaper Strips

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This recurring column is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or in the linked-to articles that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* thousands of protesters in places like Pakistan marched against the depiction of Muhammed in issues of Charlie Hebdo, including the recent, post-killings issue. In Turkey there was a significant political endorsement of one such march.

* the site Hooded Utilitarian has put all of their articles on the Hebdo killings in one place.

* I'm pretty sure I ran this very old link at some point, but of course it's always worth a reminder of this kind of awful thing. This very new link puts it into stark terms. These are criminal acts.

* the role of France's prison system in breeding this specific kind of criminal activity as well as outright terrorist organization recruitment is starting to get poked.

* the head of Russian's Orthodox Church would like you to know that Hebdo's attacks on Christianity were in a different league altogether.

* Jacob Canfield writes about his experience writing about the Hebdo killings.

* it took a few weeks, but someone finally wrote the "power of ink and paper" essay.

* Cory Doctorow writes about the tendency of governments to control speech in massively ironic and heartbreaking response to an incident ostensibly about the limits to a nightmarish response to free speech.

* this isn't a story I've followed, but I know from the Danish Cartoons Controversy this is a story that will likely be seen a lot in some form or another in the weeks ahead.

* I get the worry here with use of the word terrorist and I understand that can be a loaded term that's hard to define, but I don't all the way get not using a word because of perceived political implication -- that strikes me as odd, and making language overtly political in a way that's much more dubious in the long-run than the inherent political weight of language. Also, if what we know about the provenance of these attacks is true, and that word can't be used, I'm not sure it can ever be used, which is also weird. At the same, time, it's not a word I'm interested in using in this case.

* one break between these killings and the Danish Cartoons Controversy is that people feel the need to insist that you can support free speech and criticize Hebdo. Supporting free speech and kicking Jyllands-Posten in the nuts for their free speech stunt was never in question -- at least not to my memory, and certainly not to this extent.

* go, look: a cartoon from Jen Sorensen.

* one Hebdo staffer says it's very good President Obama didn't join in a world-leaders march because the Obama administration's record on press freedom is atrocious.

* what was the reaction like in our atheist, non-free speech supporting superpower country?

* another Hebdo-related event was canceled. This also comes with a special distribution arrangement, so let the opinion pieces fly.

* here's an American newspaper opinion-piece that I believe is saying the publication of the post-Hebdo issue is pretty much the same as yelling fire in a crowded theater.

* finally, here is Juanjo Guarnido's tribute piece. I have to admit, I hadn't thought about the major reporter characters that comics has traditionally featured.
 
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Go, Look: Ian McMurray

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* there are a few days left in an effort to auction some very nice black and white cover art to benefit its artist, Norm Breyfogle, who recently suffered a debilitating stroke. Adam Beechen apparently owns the piece now. The general crowd-funding campaign for Breyfogle is here; it was recently extended. Judging from the amount asked and the long road ahead for the artist and his loved ones, there's significant need there.

* four different CR readers wrote in to ask me to take notice of this graphic novel project being crowd-funded by Alex Heberling.

* two other names I noticed in my walk-through of that material were Ben Dunn and Jim Lawson.

* finally, James Hudnall provides an update on his situation. I greatly appreciate him providing those updates if only because a severe, sudden health circumstance is something from which no one is immune.
 
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Go, Look: Day Of Doom

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Kevin Huizenga made a comic about Twitter. All Kevin Huizenga comics are worth reading.

image* go, look: Gary Panter draws William Shakespeare.

* love this formatting.

* it's not exactly comics, but here's the first review I've read of The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, which has made an impression during its Sundance debut. It's interesting to read how matter-of-fact the reviewer is about the source material and about the film's milieu including comics without making a big deal of either.

* someone at Biowars profiles Jack Kirby.

* I can't ever figure out if these pieces are written or compiled or what, but I enjoyed reading about the sometimes-unpleasant interior lives of the Peanuts characters. The relatively complex emotional lives of the Peanuts characters is frequently cited for what made a good strip a great one, and I mostly agree with it. One thing that frequently gets left out in terms of how children read it, I think, is that there's a range of kids with similarly off-key emotions from which a kid might pick. I couldn't figure out Charlie Brown when I was six, but I sure got Linus.

* finally, the SPX tumblr freeze-frames a rolling conversation about doing on the Internet and whether or not people are recruited for paying comics jobs from there. The answer is yes.
 
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January 25, 2015


The World's Greatest Comics Collection

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Rare public sighting today of my favorite comics collection in the universe, the collection owned by my younger brother Dan.

Dan's collection has lived in two 18-beer Coors boxes ("the perfect size") for the bulk of its existence.

It is made up of:

1) a complete run of Badger comics.
2) 48 comics with Black Bolt in them.
3) 79 comics with Namor in them.

"That's really all you need," he says.
 
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Go, Read: The Incredible Shrinking Joe Franklin

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OTBP: Another Face Comic

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January 24, 2015


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Test Footage From That Cerebus Film Thing I Know Nothing About


For Some Reason This Winsor McCay Footage Is Everywhere Again


Brian Walker's Billy Ireland Opening Tour


Art Spiegelman Talking To Ricky Jay


Shock Magazine #1


Sonja And The Wizard (I've Never Posted This, I Don't Think)
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from January 17 to January 23, 2015:

1. Milestone Media is poised for a relaunch.

2. Updates related to the Charlie Hebdo killings on January 7 include a museum show being canceled and the potential for the president of France to visit Angouleme.

3. The first mainstream media story about Comic-Con having to find a space after next year's show drops. At specific issue is the delay in promised convention center expansions.

Winners Of The Week
Bill Woggon and Marge

Loser Of The Week
Sodastream

Quote Of The Week
"What I discovered is that, while often more fun and interesting to be a part of, the smaller conventions don't pay enough of the bills to make sense doing. It was great meeting people and the folks who run these conventions are very hospitable and take great care of their guests, but at the end of the day it's time away from the studio and that only makes sense if the dollars roughly match up. Sad, but basic economics." -- Tom Richmond

*****

the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

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*****
 
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Festivals Extra: FLUKE Pre-Registration This Morning At 10 AM ET

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OTBP: Style And Fashion Zine #1

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

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

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January 23, 2015


Go, Look: Is What It Is

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Dan Perkins Donates The Tom Tomorrow Collection To The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

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Another week, another significant acquisition by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, as cartoonist Dan Perkins announced today that the Columbus, Ohio-based research institution will receive the collection bearing his pen name. This includes "manuscripts, research materials and ephemera." Perkins is best known as the creator of This Modern World, is a past Herblock Prize winner, and won the Robert F. Kennedy Award For Excellence In Journalism twice (1998, 2003). In the linked-to press release, Perkins cited the museum's ability to both preserve the material and make it accessible to readers and scholars.

Perkins has made an an initial donation, and will add to it in the future. That first shipment is said to have included "tear-sheets of published cartoons and illustrations, interviews, articles..."

I know this is a significant pick-up for the Billy because of their renewed emphasis on getting historical documents and support to their already-massive collection of original art and published materials.
 
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Go, Look: Bruno Borges

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Eisner Awards Names Bill Woggon, Marge To Hall Of Fame; Announces Further HoF Nominees Slate

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The Eisner Awards have announced this year's pair of judges awards choices for the Hall of Fame and a slate of 13 possiblities from which four more people can be announced. Going right into the Will Eisner Hall Of Fame are 1) Marjorie Henderson Buell (1904-1993), who worked as Marge and is best known for the creation of the Little Lulu gag panel in The Saturday Evening Post, and 2) Bill Woggon (1911-2003), the creator behind Katy Keene, perhaps best known for soliciting designs from fans.

The nominees, from which four may be voted on-line, are:

* Lynda Barry (1956)
* John Byrne (1950- )
* Chris Claremont (1950- )
* Howard Cruse (1944- )
* Kim Deitch (1944- )
* Matt Groening (1954- )
* Denis Kitchen (1946- )
* Frank Miller (1957- )
* Francoise Mouly (1955- )
* Paul S. Newman (1924-1999)
* Bob Powell (1916-1967)
* Lily Renée Peters Phillips (1925- )
* Frank Robbins (1917­-1994)

So we're starting to get right in the heart of the late-'70s generation for whom many people in my generation were the first group of active mainstream comic book stars. I'm also happy to see both Matt Groening and Lynda Barry on the list. It's hard to think that Miller, Byrne and Claremont won't go in given past voting tendencies, but these days, who knows?

Tons more information through that first link.
 
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Go, Look: More Ross Andru Amazing Spider-Man Splashes

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Festivals Extra: NYCC SE Announced For 2015

I'm glad that Zachary Clemented caught this over at The Beat because I sure didn't. New York Comic Con is going to host another edition of its more comics-focused show NYC: Special Edition, and has announced dates (early June) and a place (not the Javits).

The idea of a bigger convention or festival sponsoring a smaller, more focused show in a way that involves a component of comics they still want to have at the bigger show intrigues me a bit. I imagine there's also some general news there in that a show in New York could draw away from regional shows in May and June due to travel costs and concerns -- if you just need to do a show, you might do the local if there is one. Also, 2016 is freakishly stuffed with events in and around New York, a city that people used to say could never host a major con and for years hosted a single alt-comics event and some dealer-driven shows.
 
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Go, Look: Kyle T. Webster

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Go, Read: Alyssa Rosenberg On Women And Alcohol As Portrayed In Two Webcomics

Here. That's a kind of criticism you don't see used with comics, I think because for years and years comics had a very limited range of effects in the vast majority of what was published and paid attention to, so if you wanted to draw a connection between certain characters your choices were probably kung fu techniques and how many pockets they had on their costumes. That's a great benefit of diversity in genre and creator and approach and platform: more bases touched means more connections to be drawn.
 
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Go, Look: Jimmy Olsen's Silver-Age Flash Hat-Tip

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surely a coincidence, but still amusing
 
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So The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Is Hiring

Here. It's a real job and everything. That's a small office, so I imagine with the travel involved it's also the kind of job that allows a great deal of freedom of approach -- but I'm not the one hiring. The CBLDF is one of the key comics institutions, and I hope the job goes to the person who can do the most with it.
 
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Go, Look: Adam Brouillette

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or in the linked-to articles that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* it looks like Francois Hollande will attend next week's Angouleme Festival, the first president to do so since Mitterand in 1982.

* speaking of Hollande, the terror attacks have been worked into at least this speech about security and economic power.

* the New York Times publishes a round-up article on a signficant Chechnyan public outcry against criticizing Islam, and how these things are being processed through Russian culture as well. There seems to be a significant amount of political expediency in how Russian responses track.

* a planned exhibit on Charlie Hebdo at the Herge Museum has been canceled for security concerns. Here is a brief article on what that exhibit would have entailed.

* 20,000 fresh copies of the post-killings issue of Charlie Hebdo will be available in various amounts in three US cities: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles.

* gunman Cherif Kouachi will be buried in an unmarked grave after some negotiation with the family; an unmarked grave helps avoid the grave becoming a cultural rallying point for those that agree with the actions of the gunman.

* Caitlin McCabe profiles Leman, a satirical magazine in that a distressing place for free speech right now, Turkey.

* Michael Dooley still has the killings very much on his mind while writing about the latest collection from Mr. Fish.

* Matthias Wivel reviews the post-killings issue of Charlie Hebdo for The Comics Journal.

* the free-speech hypocrisy storyline seems to be one with legs.

* finally, Matt Bors makes a point about editorial cartoonists in North America.
 
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Go, Look: Landscape-Formatted Tintin Image Gallery

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Go, Read: Lengthy Article On The Finger Family Legacy

There's a lengthy article here about Athena Finger and her attempts to drive attention to her grandfather the late writer Bill Finger's contributions to the Batman concept. In case you're not up on that lovely chapter of comics history, Finger's contributions span about 90 percent of the ideas and storylines that most people think of when they think of that character. Finger died alone and penniless in part because of a culture that was unable on multiple levels to provide him with proper credit and recompense. His is a full chapter in the book of talented people who created things related to comics that saw less reward than many people think fair. Count me among them.

imageI like the piece for the photos and the specifics of the story, and some of the connections one might make: like the TV show and the movies providing opportunities for a reconsideration of events even as their gigantic profits put a dollar figure on the amount of injustice done a lot of these creators. Mostly, though, it evokes in reasonable yet depressing fashion an entire reality pushing against this family. It's heartbreaking how much joy there is to be had in basic recognition; there should be more. It's an ugly industry legacy, and I'm not sure we've turned the corner on history in a way where even those instances of credit and payment and human decency fail to carry with them the consequence of illuminating the dark parts yet to be placed into the light.

I know how sensitive I am about my family; it would be hard to sleep had they suffered something this public and seemingly unfair. Let's continue to present in matter-of-fact fashion Bill Finger's achievement, and hope for any reward that might come his way as a result.

study of Finger from Marc Nobleman's biography; Nobleman is a significant presence in the piece
 
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Go, Look: More Gahan Wilson Sunday Comics

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As Of Thursday Evening 8 PM ET, RK Laxman Was Hanging In There

This is the last article I saw -- a lot could have changed in the last 14 hours or so, including his passing, but I had enough people ask about it because the situation was so critical that I wanted to mention it here.

This morning's article holds out more hope for recover, as the 93-year-old cartoonist has been taken off the respirator.
 
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Go, Look: All Good Comics #1

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Festivals Extra: MoCCA Announces Programming, Publications Particulars

It's a big year for the MoCCA Arts Festival. It's the third year the show has been under it new stewardship supplied by the Society Of Illustrators, which means we're starting to see the show take shape as they'd like to see it move forward. They've previously announced a venue change, from the old Lexington Armory to the Center 548 space over in Chelsea. That was widely seen as both necessary and a return to the show's roots as a potential walk-by + walk-in neighborhood event supplementing those that have it circled on their calendars.

A few more announcements were made yesterday. The first is that the programming won't be in Center 548 but a couple of blocks away in the High Line Hotel, covering two rooms. The programming will once again be executed by Bill Kartalopoulos, the show's programming director, who is the best there is at that kind of thing. The programming will be two days, Saturday and Sunday.

The souvenir journal, a stand-alone purchase last year (I have no memory of how it was done before then, and the ones I attended 10+ years ago didn't have them), will be made available to those paying the price of admission. It looks like a print run of 6000.

The first part of the linked-to article estimates 200 exhibitors, so there's also that. MoCCA Festival is April 12-13, and as both an arts-comics oriented show and as a show in New York City it remains a vital piece of the yearly festival schedule.
 
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Go, Read: Ken Parille's First Year Of 2014 Column

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I hate articles that are broken into component parts, partly because I always miss the follow-ups, but this article was stuffed with interesting insights.
 
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Festivals Extra: Tom Richmond On Two Years Of Con-Going

There's an interesting post up here from Tom Richmond about which cons he'll be doing in 2015 after trying a bunch of different one in 2014. He also mentions a couple of shows he couldn't get into and why.

When I was younger, my comics reading generally operated at full capacity week to week. I bought every comic that I truly desired (Love And Rockets, American Flagg!, for example) and then spent the rest of my money up to my weekly allotment on as much extra stuff as I sort of liked but didn't have as a top priority. This shifted in the early '90s to my depositing that money into a free checking account if I didn't spend it, because over the course of the year my budget was just enough to cover the work I wanted, and that work came out haphazardly.

I couldn't do that now.

Similarly, a lot of people are going to be making decisions about comics festivals and shows and cons over the next couple of years as the calendar is stuffed with them. Some of those decisions will be made for them because two cons (say SPACE and MoCCA) will be on the same weekend, but others will be made simply because of cost. It will be an adjustment, for the people attending and for the shows. The price of such an incredible line-up of show is having to figure out which ones are truly valuable to you and for what reasons.
 
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Go, Look: Graeme McNee

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* congratulations to Andy Khouri on his editorship at ComicsAlliance, now ending. I wish him the best in all that he does next. Congratulations to Andrew Wheeler and Janelle Asselin on their new co-editorship. They're both accomplished, experienced writers about comics and I'm sure they will continue and add to that site's successful run.

* speaking of Andy Khouri, he's the one at CA that walks you through a preview of Pressure/Sensitivity, the new, talent-stocked anthology from Wacom.

* interesting and lengthy post at Gary Tyrrell's place that includes a review of Is What It Is and a little open discussion of how employees will be treated at Blind Ferret.

* finally, a reminder from the cartoonist Colleen Coover that the project on which she collaborates with Paul Tobin, Bandette, regularly features in-between stories, various shorts about supporting characters, and that these are made available for free.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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

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OTBP: Strawberries

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* PW provides a report on the 2014 performance of the book-distribution side of Diamond.

image* Zainab Akhtar talks to Becca Tobin. Martin Chilton profiles Mark Boxer. Zack Smith talks to Congressman John Lewis. TJ Dietsch talks to John Allison.

* Uncivilized Books has their Spring 2015 deals unfurled here for your inspection.

* big money for Tintin cover art. I'm not much for a lot of what gets sold at auction, but the rarity of this kind of piece suggests to me that the market will bear what the market will bear.

* Nate Powell and Chris Ross talk design.

* I don't all the way understand their provenance, but I'm enjoying these two-panel movie presentations that Jason and Lewis Trondheim are sharing, scattered throughout Jason's blog.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco engages with the Norm Breyfogle fundraiser, and mulls over how $200,000 is a bunch of money but on the scale of Batman isn't much in the way of money at all.

* Matthias Wivel on Charlie Hebdo #1178.

* this insert for a Paris comics shop from Guy Delisle made me laugh.

* Ben Towle picks a bunch of comics-related favorites from 2014.

* scroll down a bit at Will Dinski's blog to see a bunch of neighborhood and building drawings.

* Carla Gillis on First Year Healthy. Greg Burgas on Starman.

* finally, Darryl Cunningham explains paper cuts.
 
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January 22, 2015


Go, Look: Intermediary Mund: Anvil Of The Sufferers

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Go, Look: The Punk County Railroad

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Go, Look: John Buscema Inked By George Roussos

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Go, Look: Our Secret #4

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By Request Extra: There Is Money Being Raised For Eye Surgery Needed By Artist Tommy Castillo

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Here's a campaign for the artist and comics-maker Tommy Castillo, regarding diabetes-related eye surgery that's necessary for him to continue his career past the next couple of years. I hope that you'll consider giving or providing whatever support you can, particularly if you're a fan of his work.
 
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Go, Look: Summer Day

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Festivals Extra: Let The CCI 2017+ Courtship Stories Begin

An LA Times page one business section article by Hugo Martin and Tony Perry has set off an all-new round of speculation about the fate of Comic-Con International in 2017 and beyond.

 They've confirmed that the show is talking to other locations as potential host cities, and that cities on this list include Los Angeles and Anaheim. The article features CCI spokesman supreme David Glanzer acknowledging that the decision won't be an easy one due to the quality of the competing suitors, even compared to the traditional strengths of the show's long-time home.

imageThe article also details -- and this is key -- the decline in momentum to expand the convention center that's been on the table since 2011. That half-billion dollar plan has had problems with financing, including a court order against a way of seeing that done that would have circumvented voters and gone straight to the downtown hotels. Complicating things yet further, the San Diego Chargers of the NFL also want to move downtown, or they could leave. The Chargers wouldn't directly compete with the con, but their issues add to the overall landscape of allocating downtown development issues. The Chargers are facing opposition from downtown hotels as to the kind of stadium they want, even.

Two figures in the article that you don't usually see: 60,960 room nights; nearly $178 million for the local economy more generally.

My hunch sitting here on the side of mountain in New Mexico at 4:37 AM drinking a beer is that Comic-Con International will extend a couple of years due to a combiantion of history and their pretty solid relationship with local officials, officials that have given the convention no reason to believe they aren't a first priority. But who knows? If San Diego continues to have problems expanding CCI will see its competitors -- using a basic model popularized by the July show -- continue to claim more attendees. A show moved up the coast might have a different, more immediate ceiling. The appeal of San Diego itself may also be a tiny bit diminished as the show spills over into the downtown area that used to provide an elegant contrast to the fury of the convention center floor.



I think the big takeaway here is that this will always be an issue every few years, and that a successful convention like CCI will have opportunities to consider changing the script even if it's in their nature to have things stay the same.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful, Beautiful Basil Wolverton Comics

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the second round of the Porter Air sales that include the TCAF dates: they're up now. All of their sales should from now until the show, only the price will creep upward sale to sale from $85 each way with that first one a couple of weeks back to about $122 by the final one. I think it's the best way to fly in if it's an option: it's generally cheaper, and it's easier to get from the airport to the general area of the show (you can cab it for $20, or shuttle to the public transit for less than $5). I'll be taking one in this year although I'll be skulking out on the MegaBus to Buffalo to go home.

* that said, I should mention that the last couple of years other airlines have been pretty good about flying into town from some of the Porter stops (or from nearby, like LGA rather than EWR) more cheaply -- Westjet, United and American from New York and Air Canada from Chicago. A college friend of mine that travels up there a lot told me this is pretty new, and probably due a bit to Porter. You do have to find your way from Pearson to the city and back again, but overall it's not as bad as it used to be.

* I'm not sure that I knew about this show: four days is very ambitious.

* here's that story about CAKE trying out for a grant in order to house, stream and generally do their programming in a way that it has maximum benefit. I hope they get it. I think I'm supposed to be at the show.

* while you've been reading this, the first, quiet round of CCI exhibitor hotel room acquisition is wrapping up. Professional and attendee hotel room acquisition is still several weeks away.

* finally, Paul Karasik on his CAB 2014.
 
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Your 2015 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Comic Book Nominees

imageThe 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards nominees went out yesterday. These are awards by the organization formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation that are intended to "honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives."

They've had a comic book category for several years. This year's nominees in "outstanding comic book" are:

* Hawkeye, written by Matt Fraction (Marvel Comics)
* Lumberjanes, written by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis (BOOM! Studios)
* Memetic, written by James Tynion IV (BOOM! Studios)
* Rat Queens, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Image Comics)
* Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan (Image Comics)

Past programs have been criticized for their resolutely mainstream comic-book and genre-comic focus as opposed to something more inclusive of alt- and art-comics. This is a slightly less rigid group than some of them in the past, although the thrust of that criticism isn't in any way capsized by the above list. Regardless of anyone's opinions about specifics of the awards, or what they might choose to consider, I'm glad they exist and all congratulations to those nominated. That must feel swell.
 
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Go, Look: Strange Adventures #2

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Go, Look: 1968 Monkees Brit-Comic

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Kelly Thompson on Squirrel Girl #1. Noah Berlatsky on Twelve Cent Archie. Tom Murphy on First Year Healthy. Andy Oliver on Fungus: The Unbearable Rot Of Being. Greg Hunter on An Iranian Metamorphasis.

* David Swanson talks to Ted Rall. The veteran cartoonist has a journalism feature up here. Albert Ching talks to Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan. Dave Richards talks to Tom Taylor. George Elkind talks to Dash Shaw.

* not comics: a CR reader wrote in to suggest that this public opinion campaign is worth noting because of the multiple platforms across different media, and I agree.

* not comics: nice Leela Corman design on the new Mountain Goats release.

* here's a report about Brian Michael Bendis' appearance on The Late Show With Seth Meyers. A couple of posts down on Robot 6 was this post.

* via TCJ: whoa.

* finally, the music critic Tom Ewing writes a bit about this year's superhero company crossover events.
 
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January 21, 2015


Peter Pontiac, RIP

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Comic Riffs: Milestone Media Poised To Relaunch

This is really good news. I think there's a bunch of talent out there that would like to work on these comics, and I think the market has changed a bit in that comics aimed at an audience other than the absolute core audience are seen as a potential boon more than a massive inconvenience.

Milestone Media was a company founded by Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, Derek Dingle and the late Dwayne McDuffie in 1993 whose division Milestone Comics released a group of titles focusing on characters of color via a stand-alone universe style publishing arrangement with DC Comics (DC could publish or not publish; they had no editorial input). Titles included Blood Syndicate, Icon, Hardware, Xombi and Static.

My memory is that those books were memorable and as well-done as anything published in that sphere -- I could not have been further away from superhero comics at the time -- but were betrayed by an industry-wide rush to publish through what was still a bit of a ramshackle infrastructure. Image was publishing a lot of titles, there were companies wanting to cash in like Image had from '91 to '93 that were producing books willy-nilly and I recall even Marvel was publishing a freakish number of books in order to maintain market share. The industry-wide crashing that resulted began in 1994 and didn't really let up until the end of the decade. This was hardly the best time to carve out a sustainable comics operation. I also remember that at least a couple of the primary movers of Milestone got out of the company in terms of direct control well before they stopped publishing as their own entity in 1997, but what effect that might have had I don't know. The character/concept Static is probably the best-known of the Milestone properties, and has been the primary but not sole focus of Milestone Media's licensing efforts since that time. This has included occasional comic book appearances and use in the greater DC line, in addition to animation.

They're looking at print as well as digital, which I think is great; any number of potential partners, ditto; and it looks like their sorting out of the company will give them access to the old characters as well as let them do new ones. I wish them all the best.

The restored company will be based in LA.
 
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Go, Look: Christa Unzner

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International Coalition Of Cartoonists And Industry Persons Reaffirms Stance Vs. Sodastream At FIBD

You can read their letter here, which as a tumblr post I imagine will find a lot more on-line traction than last year's more traditionally disseminated version. There are recognizable names attached to this document ranging from Rob Clough to Lewis Trondheim, Warren Ellis to Kate Beaton, and worth looking at solely for who's involved. It seems to include several more North Americans than last year. That does seem like a very bad sponsor for them.
 
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Go, Look: Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X Originals

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By Request Extra: Norm Breyfogle Fundraiser Extended

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The fundraiser on behalf of Norm Breyfogle, a veteran artist known to people of my age as a Batman artist but fairly well-traveled generally, has been extended. My understanding is that Breyfogle was caught in a bad place insurance-wise after suffering a stroke. As someone who at one point in my life had insurance but didn't have a specific kind of insurance I needed, I can relate. The stroke apparently made its primary impact on the side of Breyfogle's body that encompasses his drawing arm, which means a long road back professionally as well as personally. I hope you'll consider giving.
 
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Go, Look: The Art In Cartooning

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This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases Into Comics' Direct Market

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*****

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

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

*****

AUG140494 GENIUS COLLECTED ALEX TOTH SLIPCASE SET HC $149.99
OCT141483 RUN LIKE CRAZY RUN LIKE HELL HC $19.99
Two masters to lead off a very strong but not ridiculously overstuffed week. You can understand the whole history of comic books in the 20th Century somewhere in between Jack Kirby's driving success and ultimate failure and Alex Toth's periodic drops into the industry while never settlign in. These are beautiful books stuffed with beautiful art, and we're lucky to have them. I think Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell -- what a great title! -- is the least of the Jacques Tardi-illustrated crime novel adaptations, but that means it's only beautiful and a gas to read, but maybe not astonishingly so. This one is as grim as the other two, though, so prepare yourself accordingly.

imageNOV141657 MARCH GN BOOK 02 $19.95
I thought this was 200 percent the book that book one was, and this surprised me given the continuity in Nate Powell's art work and the fact that the story of John Lewis is a thrill throughout. But there are four or five set pieces that just punch you in the gut, and the interweaving of the various strategies of the Civil Rights campaign in the south provides a ton of heft that sometimes eludes prose histories of the same history. I'm also greatly appreciative of their treatment of the previous generation of civil rights leaders like A. Philip Randolph, a man that could have been a visionary Senator or even president in more enlightened times.

NOV140038 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #127 $3.50
NOV140057 DARK HORSE PRESENTS 2014 #6 $4.99
NOV140084 GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #1 $3.99
AUG140656 INVINCIBLE #116 $2.99
NOV140697 WICKED & DIVINE #7 (MR) $3.50
NOV148079 WICKED & DIVINE #7 CVR B WARD (MR) $3.50
These are the comic books that caught my eye, in not a particularly strong week for them. You have your Mignola-verse book right up top, always welcome, and the latest iteration ofDark Horse Presents, which is always like double the number of issues you think exist. Sergio Aragones in any form and in any fashion is a joy. Invincible is Robert Kirkman's guided tour through superhero universe-wide storytelling, and continues to hold my interest because almost no one has done what he and Ryan Ottley are doing here though so many have tried. The seventh comic is the latest from the team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, and could build in momentum over the next few issues as newer fans get greater exposure to how they tell stories.

SEP140095 ABE SAPIEN TP VOL 05 SACRED PLACES $19.99
SEP140094 BPRD PLAGUE OF FROGS TP VOL 02 $24.99
I don't have much to say about these two Mignola-verse collections, but there they are. My brother and I collect these comics, but in comic-book form, so I couldn't place which ones these are. They're pretty solid comics all-around, though, no complaints.

JUL140337 WILL EISNER SPIRIT ARTIST ED HC VOL 02 PI
This has to be ridiculously beautiful. I missed Volume One, so I don't even know the basics, like how big he worked or how active he was in making corrections. A whole voyage of discovery awaits.

NOV141731 MONSTER TP VOL 03 PERFECT ED URASAWA $19.99
This is where I mumble something about it being the best of the mainstream manga titles this week, but I really believe it in this case.

OCT141113 BLEEDING COOL MAGAZINE #14 (MR) $4.99
God bless you Rich Johnston and your team's commitment to print.

OCT141838 ASIAN COMICS HC $60.00
Speaking of commitment, no one in comics studies is more engaged with the material on hand than the great John Lent. This is priced at a university textbook price point, but it's also a massive book, and I'm looking forward to diving in.

JUN141517 FRAZETTA SKETCHBOOK II DLX SLIPCASED ED $69.95
JUN141516 FRAZETTA SKETCHBOOK II HC $39.95
AUG141742 FRAZETTA SKETCHBOOK II SC $24.95
These I know nothing about, and in fact I have no connection to the state of Frazetta-related publishing right now. I will always look at those comics, though, even as I get further and further removed from the boy that had a more immediate connection to the lush, scary fantasies by which the artist made his name. I miss him being around, don't you? Like it was a little cooler when Frazetta was out there, still painting.

NOV141576 GERONIMO STILTON HC VOL 15 STILTON FOR ALL $9.99
Not only do these sell a billion copies, they're also up to a fifteenth volume? I would totally investigate these books in my shop were I near one.

NOV141546 FATHERLAND FAMILY HISTORY GN $22.95
NOV141372 FIRST YEAR HEALTHY HC $14.95
Finally, two very good artists with very good books. This is the best work of Nina Bunjevac's career, an intriguing story to go along with her stop-and-stare panel to panel work. Michael DeForge's latest book is I think a couple of years old, which gives you an idea how much of his work could see print over the next dozen years if he keeps this up. I liked this one, I thought it was frequently beautiful.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Matt Baker Mini-Gallery

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or in the linked-to articles that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* my personal gut feeling is that there's almost no interest in hearing anything about the Hebdo killlings at this point that doesn't also directly add to the narrative. This is too bad, because I think we're just now assembling the threads of what happened that we can begin to poke at why and to what end. I'm not under any pressure to bring in the maximum number of hits so I can continue to link to articles when I see them and maybe try one of my own. I apologize for any instances of contempt or rolled-eye boredom directed at the result.

* I may have already linked to this Mehdi Hasan piece, which I found instructive in that it explicated a point of view more than I find that point of view convincing in the details. I'm generally sympathetic to the idea that there's an opportunity to really scour our souls in terms of our own free speech standards, with the understanding that no one likes doing this so it probably won't happen.

* here's another piece that I can't remember if I got up or not, a survey article on Middle Eastern cartoonists and their responses.

* the ugly specter of intolerant attacks on institutions of religion and community due to the radicalized actions of a few people within that community -- or maybe just perceived to be in those communities -- always ends up one of the most depressing outcomes of any terrorist action designed to provoke a specific response.

* I hadn't read either of Alyssa Rosenberg's pieces (1, 2) on the attacks until early this morning. The idea that a lot of responses accept narratives that should instead be challenged appeals to me.

* hadn't read Andrew Sullivan, either. One of his posts brings up blasphemy laws, which is an interesting place to take the lessons of those murders.

* yeah, I don't even know what to say here. Related: a list of people that used the follow-up Hebdo cover, which you can contrast with this article on world publiications that did.

* one thing that seems different to me this time around as opposed to what happened during the Danish Cartoons Controversy of 2005-2006 is that there's a greater press to understand how Islam deals with insult. Here's another such piece.

* yikes. Ugh.

* I'm just now catching up to this Glenn Greenwald article that is prompting responses two weeks later. Ditto this next-day article by Dan Savage about how to use the publishing platform in a way that takes care of all concerns.

* I certainly don't agree with every idea presented in this article, but I love the lean presentation of a number of thinking points one right after another. The idea that impulses and shaping implements might come from two different worlds fascinates me.

* this is the first article I've seen that engages directly with the Jewish community pulled into the orbit of this violence, to devastating result.

* finally, John Cassidy at the New Yorker goes a little more broad than I've seen in a while.
 
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Go, Look: Kate Schneider

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* one supposes the big publishing news of the last 24 hours as this appears is Marvel doing a universe-smushing and line-tweaking crossover this summer under the Secret Wars title, which they can also use to sell a shitload of toys. This way they can put some of the ultimate universe characters in the universe that results -- the Miles Morales Spider-Man character is the belle of that ball in the way that Julius Erving was by far the brightest light when the ABA merged into the NBA. The writer Jonathan Hickman is driving that particular caravan of vehicles, and he's well-suited to doing so. I imagine a lot of energy will be spent explaining how this isn't a DC-like move.

image* there was an Image Expo back on the day of the Hebdo killings. I approve of those events. I think they're a smart way to drive attention to what that company is doing, and must be a nice thing for that region of fans considering how choices made by their convention hall owners fairly drove away their biggest, traditional con. The two best things I've read on it since is the more comprehensive re-telling here from the CA staff and a what-strikes-me-as-most-important piece here from Corey Blake. I also read this spotlight piece at Comics&Cola on the forthcoming science-fiction anthology Island, the single title in which I'm most interested. There's a lot going on in those announcements, and not just any number of stand-alone welcome comics depending on what you like to read and how well they're executed. I got way more of a sense with thise pieces than with past summaries of talent kind of settling in at Image, and providing more work to them exclusively, as their main professional option. It also seemed like the artists were more central to the announcements this time around. I like the Image deal for what it can do for creator that can sell above a certain point and for whom it's important to retain rights. I wish more of the line were as strong as the top-sellers, so I'm always happy to hear about the grind of new series attempted. Hope springs eternal.

* how about two self-published works from Ryan Cecil Smith? Another Face Comic is the third of his books designed to begin or end at any point of selected entry. It's on sale here. Style And Fashion Zine #1 is a 'zine-style 24-page done with Graeme McNee. I'll do OTBPs for these book, too, but it's nice to note they've been published in this column, particularly a mainstream- and genre-dominant installment like this one.

* DC is using Chip Kidd for variants on their Convergence effort. That's the line-wide step-in for the company while they move their editorial offices to the West Coast. I'm sort of interested in their plans afterwards. The DC superhero books strike me as a mess right now in terms of their being able to build a strong sense of line-wide story or even a distinct identity for that universe. It really feels like a bunch of random 1990s "extreme" titles + Batman + one or two interesting concepts sprinkled in that are sometimes immediately walked back. I could be totally wrong. Superhero coimcs are not my strongest area of interest, and there could be nuances at work that I'm simply unable to process. But comparing the books I read from that line and comparing them to other times when I had a stronger sense of what was going on with those comics, it's not a flattering comparison. In addition, so many of the characters seem deeply unlikable.

* I like the look of this Johnny Ryan collection Fanta's put together.

* Johanna Draper Carlson caught a long while back that Andy Runyon will be taking his Owly and self-publishing it now. Although it's an announcement that came in the wake of the IDW/Top Shelf sale, I've been told via e-mail and I'm sure it's been reported since that it's not where the break originated; it's just something Runyon has looked forward to trying. I wish him luck. A lot of people enjoy that comic.

* another Nemo book is imminent. I like those comics from Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, even when I'm somewhat at odds with elements of their small-p politics: they're interesting and weird and idiosyncratically executed. I'm always happy to read one more.

* finally, Derf shows off the approved cover design for his upcoming Abrams work, Trashed. You should click through and see the whole thing. He has since inked it, here.

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

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

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Go, Look: Odd, Stylized, Modern Laurel And Hardy Comic

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by "modern" I mean 1970; part of the '30s culture late-'60s nostalgia, but still weird to me
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* what a lovely new on-line comics publication: Darling Sleeper. I look forward to linking to every single feature on there.

image* Todd Klein on Little Nemo, Return To Slumberland #2.

* I can't get the link I was sent to work but it looks like Victor Dandridge has brokered a deal with the Wizard folks to do his classes at a number of their shows. I'm glad if that's what I'm reading: I've seen Dandridge speak; he's an impressive, persuasive speaker and I have to think that what he does would be well-suited to kids-day programming. His site is here.

* Jesse Lucas talks to Box Brown. Brett White and Albert Ching talk to Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso. Philippe LeBlanc talks to Kelly Tindall. Brett White talks to Cullen Bunn. Georgia Webber talks to Aisha Franz. Ashley Victoria Robinson talks to Megan Levens. Liv Siddall talks to Joe Dator. Bart Croonenborghs talks to Roman Muradov.

* turns out the late Don Harron was a cartoonist at one point, which is only interesting to me. I track that kind of thing because I think we're getting at a point where over the next 20 years we're going to see another wave of general entertainment figures who at one point were comics-makers.

* I totally missed that a Ganzeer exhibit opened on the 16th.

* Brian Heater picks five graphic novels that even comics haters will like. I don't know, I think I would just get them something else. Good list, though.

* finally, I haven't found a place to put this report on homelessness and mental illness in comics and illustrated-essay form by Dan Archer, but I hate to sit on it any longer.
 
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January 20, 2015


Go, Look: Spontaneous, Inevitable, Habitual

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The Day I Quit Blogging, I'll Remember This Morning

imageFor this story, mostly, about a sexually-explicit superhero mural apparently located in a residential unit of a French hospital that only now, several years after its creation, is finally coming under fire as maybe a totally crazy-ass thing to have on a wall. It's so weird I don't even know if it's real, to be honest with you. I don't mean that in a "fake news" way, either, as much as a "I'm having a nervous breakdown and hallucinating" way.

Maybe click through the link when you're alone in a locked room.
 
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Go, Look: Kishore Mohan

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Go, Help: Steve Saffel Looking For A Few Betty Boops

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The editor Steve Saffel recently put out this call:
I'm making a big push to fill in the last holes in my Betty Boop newspaper strip collection, in order to publish as comprehensive as possible a book of the strips. My focus is on the Sunday strips, though we'll be including some dailies, as well. I'm also looking for the first two "Helen Kane Boop-Boop-A-Doop Girl" strips. So I'm going back to everyone who might be able to help.

Even if you don't have any of the strips yourself, do you know anyone who might have some, or know someone who has some? I’m looking for any leads that might work! I'm open to purchasing them for my set, or acquiring scans that are as high resolution as possible.

Either way, I'd like to put this to bed soon, so we can get the book into production! Let me know if you have any ideas -- I'm gonna find these strips, by hook or by crook!
I'll be happy to put anyone in touch that
 
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Go, Look: A Drew Friedman Image Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: Monsters

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posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or in the linked-to articles that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* it does strike me as largely idiotic that a person can get in trouble in France right now for a cartoon that follows the Charlie Hebdo script almost to the letter.

* designer, writer and comics-maker Chip Kidd tweets out his door decoration.

* here's a piece about a rally in Chechnya against the cartoons. It saddens me that we have a binary of the nature of the cartoons vs. free speech, but we pretty much all walked right into that one. Here's a piece about reactions in Turkey, which is a horrid place for free-speech rights these days.

* Here's one of many reports about Henri Roussel suggesting Charb is culpable in somew ay for the deaths of the Hebdo staffers. Roussel is a co-founder of the publication. Here's the Independent with the same story.

* Ron Regé Jr. reacts.

* over seven million sold of the first Hebdo issue post-killings. One of those cartoonists, Jen Sorensen, did this cartoon about the affair.

* Michael O'Connell talks to a trio of cartoonist about the killings.

* Francois Hollande's approval ratings are way up in great part because of his response to this whole mess.

* Jonathan Guyer notes that many cartoonists in the Middle East found it easy to sympathize with the Hebdo cartoonists killed because of the incredible struggles they face in terms being able to express themselves freely.

* finally, here's the National Cartoonists Society gallery. Scroll down and look at Ron Evry's. I don't really like the conflation of the Charlie Brown character with these murders, but Evry's take on it did get a laugh out of me.
 
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Go, Look: Old Samurai Never Die!

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Go, Read: Colleen Doran On Production And Press Proofs

imageThe artist and comics-maker Colleen Doran writes about production and press proofs in a lengthy post. I do think these are desirable items, and always have. They're really weird, because a lot of the ones I have are taken at various stages of production, so I have some Comics Journal proofs that are just the art (the Mignola issue and the James Robinson issue). We used to have those done locally, because the Journal was printed in Wisconsin. They printed us when they had a window of opportunity to get us in, so there wasn't a lot of time to go back and forth on proofs. The books and comics worked differently.

Like a lot of collectibles now, I think proofs of various types are interesting because they're basically same-generation. We're finding that out even with comic books, that the value is in the really genuinely hard to find objects and with characters that still have something of a life. I buy comics now or $2 or $3 a pop that I couldn't have owned for $30 in my teen years, mostly because they're just not big enough characters or creators to sustain interest. I think that's the fate of a lot of production proofs: hugely meaningful to people for whom that work is meaningful and kind of urgently present, but less so as goes by. I could be horribly wrong, I suppose; I could just be making myself feel better for not snapping these up like mad when I worked at Fantagraphics.
 
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Go, Look: Jim Woodring Interview

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Roz Chast A National Book Critics Circle Finalist

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Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant was nominated for another award announced yesterday. The book is a finalist in the autobiography category of the National Books Critics Circle awards program. The winner will be announced March 12 in New York.

The appropriate category, one of six. Three special awards were also listed.

*****

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

* Blake Bailey, The Splendid Things We Planned (W.W. Norton & Co.)
* Roz Chast, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury)
* Lacy M. Johnson, The Other Side (Tin House)
* Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure (Random House)
* Meline Toumani, There Was and There Was Not (Metropolitan Books)

*****

You can read about the other categories and the special recipients in the link above.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Listen: John Martz Interviewed At Deconstructing Comics

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Go, Read: CCS Announces Its 2015 Summer School Schedule

Here. This includes a double-dose of Paul Karasik-taught courses. Karasik even blogged about it, and that dude rarely blogs.
 
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Go, Look: Another Round Of Cartoonist Photos

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Go, Look: A 1940 Doll Man Story

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* CAKE is up for a grant to stream its 2015 programming. That would be nice if it happens.

image* Eric Garrison talks to Jim Woodring. Juliet Kahn talks to Jillian Tamaki. Some nice person at WFPK After Dark talks to Tony Millionaire. Hillary Brown talks to Michael DeForge. Grace Bello talks to Scott McCloud.

* now that's a redesign.

* comics keep you safe, this is a fact.

* that is indeed a sharp-lookin comic book cover, from the Daredevil team.

* C. Edwards on Massive.

* Ed Kanerva is right: this is a funny cartoon. There's a reason this one wasn't accepted by MAD, I think, but I love looking at Josh Cotter's pencils.

* not comics: Ralph Bakshi has a Facebook store.

* finally, Alex Garcia suggests that digital platforms make comic books better for everyone.
 
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January 19, 2015


Go, Read: Advice From Congressman John Lewis

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Missed It: CBLDF Announces 2015 Membership Packages, Levels, Incentives -- Also A Magazine

imageThere's a fairly major announcement from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund here that I missed while I was, I don't know, biking to the Village Pantry to buy Bit O'Honey candy bars and look for the latest CARtoons Magazine. There's a bunch of stuff in there about their membership program including various reward levels -- something they've refined over the years.

They're also doing a quarterly magazine, which is nice because of the quality of their on-line articles over the last 30 months or so. Anyway, even if you're not one to join or prefer joining at your year con intersection with those good folks, it's worth a read to check out what they're up to. There's no comics institution of greater importance.
 
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Go, Look: Stephen Pellnat

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Festivals Extra: SPX Announces Registration/Lottery Rules

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The Small Press Expo has announced its registration window as February 1 to February 15 this year. They do a lottery for a big chunk of their tables, which comes from their ethos of being a non-juried show. They will make sure you do indy comics of some sort, and they do make sure that some of the heavy-hitters have tables. Like you're not going to see Fantagraphics lose out on a table at SPX because their number didn't come up in the lottery. The rest is up for grabs. A long time ago I thought SPX should move to a curated model, but luckily they didn't -- this way fits their chosen identity much more effectively, and it fulfills a vital role.

As this year's SPX is focusing on cartoonists who started publishing after 2000, this may be the most SPX-iest SPX of them all, so I urge any of you out there on the fence about exhibiting to exhibit. Even if doing shows isn't a significant part of how you approach comics, exhibiting at SPX is a bucket-list item for North American indy comics creators. I'll be there, for sure, not exhibiting, staring at all the young people in wonder and awe.
 
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Go, Look: Lovely Dragon Ball Images Mini-Gallery

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Go, Read: The Beat/Devastator Con/Festival Exhibitor Survey

I would start here and then after you get the rough outline go to the fuller report here.

The survey is obviously problematic on a lot of levels: 1) it requires accurate disclosure from the exhibitors (they're not truthful about what they made when they're sitting at the bar, so we have to take it on faith they'll be truthful here), 2) there aren't enough people surveyed for the number of shows from which information is processed and compared, 3) exhibitors can be so, so different in terms of how they approach a comics show and how they make use of it. That said, it's the best of its type -- it might be the only one, unless ICv2.com does one for its consulting or the cons themselves are doing something in-house -- and you can certainly pull a lot of information out of there if you're judicious in doing so. Fun read, too.
 
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Go, Look: Kevin Jay Stanton

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Go, Read: Open Letter To Comics Publishers About Their Hiring Practices

Here. You may not agree with all of the particulars. For instance, I think you can support a comic and a cartoonist without publishing merchandise, there are wholly legit publishers that just aren't oriented that way, Still, I think it's always worth asking the question company to company if enough women -- and non-white people of both genders, and folks adhering to a variety of sexual orientations -- are being hired. I think that's something that everyone that has a freelance pool should ask, too, so that includes CR. And coverage areas; a place where CR could improve.

If you're not familiar with candidates, maybe try a little harder. Bookmark some sites and follow some links is something all of us can do. I hope that every company that can has a significant presence at today's Black Comix Arts Festival, or had people at Saturday's festival in Harlem.

We can all improve.
 
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Go, Look: Tales Of Chop Suey

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or elsewhere that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* on Friday night, protests in Niger apparently triggered by the publication of last week's post-killings issue of Charlie Hebdo killed four, including one police officer. A bunch of buildings were damaged and a few dozen people were injured.

* I very, very much liked this article about what was actually featured on the cover of Charlie Hebdo in 2014.

* a lengthy feature article appeared in The Guardian about the surviving cartoonists and their putting out last week's publication.

* Mark Baumgarten takes a look back at the Molly Norris case for clues to understanding the Hebdo story.

* here's the Toronto Star statement on the publication of Charlie Hebdo imagery in their stories reporting on the magazine.

* Matt Wuerker and Jake Tapper on two separate issues regarding the whole Hebdo killings affair. Tapper is the first one I've seen that's not a lunatic go after the Obama administration for particpating in that "Hands Across Hebdo" world-leader march or whatever was going on there.

* Andrew Paul Wood argues that the fine arts world might be able to learn a lot by the Hebdo killings and the reaction taht followed.

* Alan Moore responds.

* Ger Apeldoorn has been putting up some older work by the Charlie Hebdo generation of cartoonists because of the killings. I think it's worth understanding that these cartoonists made a variety of work for a variety of publications.

* finally, Ted Rall made a cartoon.

 
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Go, Look: Ross Andru Amazing Spider-Man Splash Pages

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* this is the only thing I've read about fundraising related to the Hebdo killings, but I'll try to get my act together for a better report next week. I'm sure that's enough information for you to crash that party if you want to. Also, any significant effort is likely to be part of the forthcoming Angouleme Festival.

* one of the few crowd-funding projects still around since the last one of these columns, the Sequential Artists Workship crowd-funder is in its final days. They'll spend your money well.

* there's a lovely update from Mary Skrenes on James Hudnall's GoFundMe page. I can't imagine that Hudnall wouldn't put to good use any additional money that could be sent his way. That's a tough road, and most men over 40 with any sort of health issues imagine that scenario happening to them.

* not comics: John Kovalic is involved with this gaming Kickstarter that looks like it will crush its initial goal by tomorrow lunchtime.

* Alex Heberling would like to make a graphic novel and desires your help in the doing of this.

* I'm not sure if I knew that Jenn Manley Lee had a Patreon going. Another one suggested to me was the PUPPYCOMIX effort and a third was the Atomic Robo effort, which I guess went on-line as part of their dissatisfaction with traditional comics distribution and what it could do for their work.

* finally, don't forget that Jack Katz -- a key figure in the development of US indie comics -- is looking for support in doing a graphic novel.
 
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If I Were In San Francisco, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: A Star-Spangled Kid And Merry Short

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I know that at least Man Of Action and Graham Annable are comics people deserving of a late congratulations from this site on their contributions to Academy Award-nominated work. Sorry if I'm missing others. As little as I care about the Oscars they are important to people in that industry and a lot of people generally, and they can be a career-changing, first-line-of-one's-obituary event.

image* Laura Hudson recommends five comics for you to be reading.

* another use for variant covers. It's too bad Rolling Stone didn't mention the artist Nick Gazin.

* Leslie Stein coloring Pascal Girard.

* a few of you sent along a link to this Boulet cartoon, which because of its moving parts is hard for me on this particular computer to do an image for linking. Because he's so prolific we forget how many people are looking at him for these kind of limited-effect movement comics, as they seem to work pretty well for him.

* for some unknown reason someone on my Facebook feed linked to this review of all 100 Marvel Two-In-One issues. That was the Marvel comic where various characters would team up with The Thing. I think it was him for all 100 issues; I remember that some of the Marvel Team-Up issues didn't feature main star Spider-Man. Anyhow, I like old-school fan projects like this one, and I like the idea of these coimcs existing and maybe even finding their way into some kid's hands.

* Mike Lynch profiles Gluyas Williams.

* finally, here's a nice Adrian Tomine cover.
 
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January 18, 2015


Go, Look: The Full Dartmoor Pegasus

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Go, Look: Karl Stevens' Latest Show Reviewed With Tons Of Art

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Go, Look: Haan Lee

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

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

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January 17, 2015


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Promotional Video For Massive


Well-Traveled Video Of Goku Vs. Superman Flip Animation That's Been In My Bookmarks Forever


Matthew Thurber's Musical Mining The Moon
via



Video Footage From Cabu, Wolinski Funerals -- Less Public Affairs Than The One For Tignous


JD Crowe Responds To Readers


Zapiro Responds To The Response To The Hebdo Killings
 
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Go, Read: Josselin Moneyron's A Year In The Merde

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Here's a fine piece surveying 2014 in Charlie Hebdo covers and analyzing the results.
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from January 10 to January 16, 2015:

1. Fallout continues from last week's murder of 12 people in the Charlie Hebdo offices. Three suspects are killed including the two brothers who were primary gunmen; an accomplice is still being sought. A new issue sold several million copies. It features a Luz cover portraying a crying Muhammed holding the iconic "Je Suis Charlie Hebdo" sign. A march in Paris brings world leaders to the streets, many of whom with terrible records on free-speech issues. An offshoot of Al Qaeda claims responsibility. France begins burying the dead.

2. ECCC joins the ReedPOP family, in a deal that makes a ton of sense. ReedPOP gets a quality show, they get a presence on the West Coat, they get a third US show of significant import and they get to try out a model for the purchase of a few more regional shows down the line if that becomes a possibility. They also get to tap into the ECCC way of making their comics pros feels siginficantly valued -- it's something they do extremely well. ECCC gets a resources boost.

3. Foundational comics shop Star Clipper to close after 27 years of operation. Liquidation of stock begins with a sale today.

Winner Of The Week
That Luz cover for the new Charlie Hebdo is amazing given his week and all the cultural forces and pressures coming into play, and there were many that were physically brave in the extended confrontation with primary suspects, but I'm not going to force elements from a story with stakes that high through the screwy perspective of my little winners/losers game. Not yet, anyway. All admiration, though. Let's go with Drawn And Quarterly, announcing two of their heaviest hitters for the Fall: Kate Beaton and Adrian Tomine.

Losers Of The Week
Let's go with St. Louis fans that go to Star Clipper. In one of the local stories they report customers that say, outright, they're going to stop reading comics without the store there to support that activity. That's something that always happens when stores close.

Quote Of The Week
"Charlie Hebdo and the Muslim community's reaction to it is a complicated issue. But the murders are not." -- Ruben Bolling

*****

the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Early Rube Goldberg

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

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January 16, 2015


Go, Look: Homebodies

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or elsewhere that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* the photos of Tignous' coffin covered in cartoons from his peers are probably the one heartbreaking thing related to the Hebdo killing I've seen since the last one of these link round-ups. It may seem like an odd thing to do in someone's memory, but what else do we have to give them? Here's another photo-heavy article, with even some video. At least two others were buried yesterday by my count and that should proceed quickly. One article says that French law says you have to be buried near where you born or near where you die, but I'm not sure how accurate that is.

* here's a piece by the Israeli caricaturist Michel Kichka.

* this must have been unsettling for Larry Pickering.

* the Atlantic has a piece up on how Boston is reacting to last week's Hebdo-related news in the context of their own recent terrorism-related period of paralysis, fear and injury.

* speaking of that magazine, Ta-Nehisi Coates is jumping in with both feet. One of the admirable things he does with his writing is detail how he comes around to specific lines of thinking.

* the view from the American old-school right.

* Pakistan formally criticizes Charlie Hebdo.

* the Pope jumps in.

* PW has a rough outline of cartoonist reactions I totally missed seeing until now.

* the Guardian had a feature about how cartoonists in the Middle East responded that's more analysis that survey -- and that's a good thing.

* Tom Kaczynski sent along this fascinating video featuring cartoonists and satirists from Iran responding to the Hebdo killings.

* this Paul Tumey article on offensive techniques and flourishes employed in the service of editorial cartoon seems like a potentially fascinating one.

* finally, I hadn't seen this Asuf Hanaka drawing before running into it on Twitter.
 
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OTBP: Blood Root #3

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Go, Look: A Pair Of Mort Meskin Stories

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* better late than never, Axel Sever on Late Bloomer. Also, Josh Bayer on Savage Sub-Mariner #72. Greg McElhatton on Astro City #19. James Romberger on Corto Maltese. Andy Oliver on Cringe. Sean T. Collins on Worst Behavior. Tim Hanley on Wonder Woman: Bondage And Feminism.

* they're experiencing big sales on the new wave of Marvel Star Wars comics, which makes me think that they're really getting in their own way a bit long-term on the superhero comics. The Star Wars license and the Marvel superheroes license shouldn't be that far apart in terms of comic book market penetration.

* I have a bunch of links in my bookmarks folder to best-of-2014 lists and related sortings-out of the year just past that I'm no closer to getting to as unique posts so I thought I'd at least link to them here: Aaron Ragan-Fore at Eugene Weekly; John Dermot Woods at Electric Lit. Jared at OK Comics In Leeds; Kelly Thompson at Comics Should Be Good!; Rob Bricken at io9; Nick Gazin at Vice; Jed W. Harris-Keith at Freaksugar; the ComicsAlliance staff at ComicsAlliance; Joe Field at Flying Colors and Juliet at Prynette. I should work up a collective memory by 2/1.

* Dave Richards talks to Jason Aaron.

* the writer Tom Bondurant is walking through the Crisis On Infinite Earths series that is now an astounding 30 years old.

* whoa, ICv2.com design turnover.

* finally, you can watch Emily Flake make cartoons (sort of) three times on the first episode of the New Yorker's TV effort with Amazon.com.
 
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January 15, 2015


Go, Look: Stopping Tetanus In Mothers And Newborns

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Star Clipper Comics To Close After 27 Years In Business

One of the nation's foundational comic shops and one of the great second-generation Direct Market, Star Clipper in St. Louis has announced its impending closure via a mailing linked to through their Facebook presence. It's local news, as it should be. AJ and Ben Trujillo owned the store for the last 17 years, and describe the closure as a "natural conclusion."

Star Clipper won the Will Eisner Spirit Of Comics Retailer Award in 1999, and was routinely named the region's best store in local alt-weekly Riverfront Times' best-of feature. It's certainly the only store in that area with a national reputation; it was one of the stores on the tour list, one you had it in your mind to go see. I don't know the St. Louis scene all that well, but I have to imagine it was a key institution and their relationship was very different than the rest of ours. I have to imagine it will be missed most keenly there.

I wish the owners all the best in a smooth transition, and I imagine thousands of people are thankful for their years in the retail trenches. They'll start selling off product at a discount to lighten inventory this weekend. They urge their subscribers to contact the store, which indicates a reasonably brisk pace on the shutdown.

There's a thorough article with multiple interviews here.

 
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Go, Look: Paranoid Apartment

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D+Q Announces Their Eighth Book With Cartoonist Adrian Tomine, October's Killing And Dying

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Drawn And Quarterly announced earlier today it acquired world publishing rights to Adrian Tomine's Killing And Dying, to be released in October. They announced the news first through the New Yorker site (where Tomine is a prominent and frequently used cover artist and illustrator) and then through a mass-released PR e-mail. That information can be found here.

The book will mark the eighth such partnership between the New York City-based cartoonist and the Montreal-based publishing house. Chris Oliveros was acquiring editor. D+Q notes that this will be the 20th anniversary of the Optic Nerve mini-series where the bulk of his published material is initially serialized.

The initial e-mail details a suite of foreign-rights deals also announced at the initial acquisition.

I look forward to seeing the book, as I do with everything Tomine chooses to do.
 
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Go, Look: Li'l Jinx

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Image Starts Image Direct Subscription Service

It's here. I'll sort through the business-deal aspects as the day goes on. Two things pop to mind immediately. One is that this and digital comics are a way to address shortcomings in the delivery system for comic books as they exist right now, particularly after coverage was deeply affected in the 1990s. As I've mentioned a billion times on this site, I'm a good 150 minutes from a comics shop of any kind. This is a shop that doesn't carry the more "out there" Marvel books. If I were not in comics in this strange capacity and needed them for reading, I would likely mail-order from a comics shop and a direct subscription to some titles would be totally in the mix. If I were a fan of only five or six titles -- and I can imagine that fan -- I might be totally taken care of by a subscription service.

The second thing that springs to mind is I wonder if Image Comics is the company best suited to a subscription service right now because their titles have much greater creative continuity issue to issue. I know what Saga and Fade Out are going to look like and who's going to be doing them, at least until I'm told differently.

Anyway, I wish them luck, I think there's some juice in a lot of old ways of doing things if they can be figured out, just as comics profits via a brick-and-mortar retail system that a lot of media industries can't make work.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Ernie Bushmiller

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Festivals Extra: Totally Missed That Angouleme Grand Prix Finalists Had Been Winnowed Down

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Superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose is among those that put together that this year's Angouleme Grand Prix finalists have been selected. Those finalists are Hermann (Hermann Huppen), Alan Moore and Katsuhiro Otomo. That's an English-language speaker who wouldn't participate (shades of this year's Bill Watterson choice), a long-overdue non-special prize winning manga cartoonist choice, and a more traditional adventure BD master. All three seem to be artists with the kinds of careers where the Grand Prix would seem suitable to their accomplishments -- they pass the potential "what the hell; that's ridiculous" test, surely the most stringent and scientific of all tests.

I would have to think the frontrunner and a lot of folks' hoped-for choice is Otomo, which would make for a potentially fun and maybe sort of palate-cleansing 2016 Angouleme and, like I wrote 25 words ago, by virtue of his being a manga cartoonist is incredibly overdue in the straight-up grand prix award-winner department. I think 35 years past we need to start remembering the '80s hardcore, too, in all the awards programs. Sorry, Bronze Age.

The only thing that grinds at me is I think under the old system, as flawed as it was and as much as it seemed to take years off of the lives of the cartoonists voting under 60, I think we might have had Mattotti by 2018 or so. I'm not sure we ever will now.
 
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Go, Look: I Still Can't Believe It

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Go, Look: Agent 9

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or elsewhere that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* a story on the massive sell-out yesterday of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo here.

* here is a measurement of that sell-out's intensity in terms even the most hardcore superhero comic book fans can understand.

* here are cartoons I hadn't seen yet from Jason and Guy Delisle. This cartoon from Batton Lash is presented with commentary and a link to video of local news talking to him about the incident overseas.

* here's a round-up of how media in various countries approached publishing Charlie Hebdo imagery.

* The Nib gathered seven different comics responses from a variety of viewpoints. Of particular interest to readers of this site might be Annette Carlsen's piece. She is one of the cartoonists that drew a Muhammed cartoon for Jyllands-Posten ten years ago this Fall.

* Jeff Trexler is reminded of a potential legal cousin to the French publication in a column at TCJ.

* we're starting to see more and more substantial pieces either come out from usual-suspect media platforms or kind of work their way to the surface from individual blogs as a certain number of people get behind them. Here's one from Kenan Malik. Here's one from Ted Rall. Here's a piece at Salon from Brittney Cooper. Leigh Phillips' piece I saw everywhere yesterday, particularly in my inbox. This piece from Vox about where their threats came from fascinated me. Here's Slavoj Zizek. And here's Michael Dooley. I'm glad Dooley brought up Paul Krassner because I've been thinking The Realist in relation to this horrifying series of crimes.

* I agree with a couple of main points of this article: 1) again, that The Realist is probably the closest US equivalent to Charlie Hebdo in terms of tone and the casual publication of taboos for the sake and for the force of publishing taboos 2) that a major difference for the French publication from any US one is that in France that generation of activists in particular is more concerned with anti-clerical thought than just about any comparable western culture.

* I'm not certain I've linked to this interview with Art Spiegelman.

* finally, another, earlier New York Times article rounds up some more scattered news, including the inexplicable jailing of Dieudonné M'bala M'bala.
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: The Clown Of Death

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a new Frank Santoro correspondence course starts today. I don't know if there's still time to get on board but I know a few cartoonists who have spoken very highly of that experience.

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Street View.

* check out this lovely Richard Sala preview. You can't tell me that guy hasn't become a more effective artist over the years, and he started at a very high level.

* there's a nice profile here of Tom Devlin and Drawn and Quarterly from the Montreal Gazette.

* one nice bit of news that got lost in last week's horrors is that Tom Gauld reopened his store. I'm a big fan of Gauld's work, and I think it's suited to a lot of different uses.

* Nate Powell girds himself for the March Book Two release and flurry of events. I think that book is a much more harrowing read than the first one.

* it's always fun to look at Chris Schweizer's character designs.

* it's a better world for having Kevin Huizenga's comics in it.

* Simon Gane draws Franquin's great Gaston LaGaffe. Jillian Tamaki shows us how comics are made.

* totally missed this summary report from Roger Langridge on his 2014.

* finally, I missed the final outcome of Zak Sally possibly putting his latest issue of Recidivist on-line.
 
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January 14, 2015


Go, Look: Camille Jourdy

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Go, Look: Prize Comics #51

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Not Comics: John Coleman Burroughs Art

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Go, Look: The Adventures Of Uncle Lubin

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or elsewhere that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* here's an article about a press conference for this week's issue of Charlie Hebdo. The statements by Luz are fairly heartbreaking even if you hate everything Charlie Hebdo does, just from the point of view of that there's a man who's had a soul-destroying week. Or at least I think they would be.

* here's video.

* Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is apparently claiming responsibility, claiming it's part of a longtime plan, claiming it's for the depictions of Muhammed and generally lambasting France for its partnership with the US and involvement in anti-Al Qaeda activity since 2001. These are the people that were responsible for the cargo shipment plot where the goal was to further weaken the US economy by driving companies to improve their shipping security, which indicates a broad range of possible motivations may be on the table here.

* here's a video/text report on the early sales of today's special edition. Three million printed with more on the way. I can only imagine the intensity of demand to see it. A potential all-time best-selling comic?

* someone mentioned that Pat Oliphant came out of a lengthy hiatus to do two cartoons about the Hebdo killings. The visual choices he makes for depicting the terrorists are much more striking than many I've seen.

* CRNI rounds up various threats made against cartoonists since January 7.

* coming to it late, but one ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper apparently photoshopped female world leaders out of a world leaders marching for Charlie Hebdo photograph. That is one weird set of principles coming into play there. I hope somewhere out there there's a newspaper that drew mustaches on everyone.

* Jules Feiffer comments.

* this interview with the caricaturist Nicolas Vado interests in two specific ways: his description of Belgium as a nation inclined to compromise, and the ease with which he declares the slain cartoonists and those in proximity as friends and heroes while also flat-out opposing some of their goals and approaches.

* Ward Sutton did a cartoon.

* I've run both the Crumb and the Crumb/Kominsky-Crumb cartoons but failed to run a link to this interview with Robert Crumb from last week abou the killings and his state of mind immediately afterward.

* I'm going to post a bunch of stuff that I'm not sure if I linked to or not. Here's a much-trafficked article of cartoonist responses. Here is the NCS response. Wow Cool posted this. This was Bill Griffith's post in support. Here's a post about Muslims that publicly criticized the attacks; I didn't really go look at this, but there's a conservative idea that pops up when these kinds of events happen that moderate Muslims support this kind of thing through silence. It's never true, and of course wasn't here. Here's a tweet I suppose is critical of some of the dialogue day of/day after. David Wallis wrote this piece for SFGate. Here's a very sweet Sarah McIntyre cartoon. Here's a Zak Sally thread I read back on the 7th. Bill Hicks on free expression. Signe Wilkinson cartooned and wrote about the killings here. A friend of Cabu drew his late pal. Andrew Wheeler did a strong round-up of early reactions. Here's a round-up of British responses. Here's one of those calls to publish the cartoons, an early argument about this whole mess that has faded a bit. I'm baffled that these kinds of things become articles -- what do the other cast members of DC Cab think about the killings? Andrew O'Hehir attempts one of those "this is what this really is" articles. This may be the best headline the story has produced. I don't know who wrote this articulate missive about the power relationships inhere in satire, which is ironic in that at least I know they're not Charlie. Eleanor Davis with a lovely thought. Here's another passionate essay from someone certain that English-language critics don't understand what Hebdo was up to. Here's yet another. And here's probably the most succinct essay so far in the "don't turn the slain cartoonists and staffers into the kind of idol they lived to tear down" series.

* here's an essay about satire in the Muslim world.

* the writer Bob Levin comments. Like some other commentary, he looks at a number of murders and deaths that happened last week around the same time as the Hebdo killings, but he does so to specific effect.

* here's a series of cartoons by Cabu.

* Keith Knight made a cartoon.

* finally, I'm not sure if you can get at the discussion from here, but Jenny Robb from the Billy Ireland was one of the folks brought in by this radio show to talk Charlie Hebdo.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Early '40s Walt Kelly Comic Book Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Katie Skelly on In Clothes Called Fat. Johanna Draper Carlson on Monster The Perfect Edition Vols. 1-2, Words For Pictures and Prophecy Vol. 1.

* here's a link I've had in the bookmarks for a little while: new works from Chance Press. I need to do more sustained coverage of what's going on with them, so hopefully this entry will serve as a reminder for me as well.

* otbp: here's a preview for a prose book of letters that Dan Stafford did that includes correspondence with cartoonists.

* Alan Gardner caught that Recep Erdogan is going to appeal his recent court reversal and continue to seek punishment of Musa Kart for daring to draw an editorial cartoon about him. That guy's a creep, and whenever the powerful use the court to swat at someone with a different opinion, it's only slightly less terrifying than when they use more direct means of stepping in.

* Simon Hanselmann is raising money for a tour in France.

* finally, did I ever mention that Raina Telgemeier was named industry person of the year at The Beat? Did I just swallow that link? Telgemeier is totally deserving of an industry honor she gets; her numbers are astonishing, and she's all class. I was slightly intrigued by the fact that unless I missed it Bob Wayne's retirement didn't receive some consideration, due to his considerable influence on the moder direct market, but the list seems pretty widely varied.
 
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January 13, 2015


CR Holiday Interview #4 -- Susan Kirtley

imageSusan Kirtley holds a masters and a PhD and is currently employed at Portland State University as an Assistant Professor. I met her at the academic conference held in conjunction with the opening of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus, Ohio, in 2013. I knew of her, having watched Kirtley's Eisner Awards win earlier that year for Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass in the nascent "best educational/academic publication" category. As a non-academic catching up to her work and watching her present over the last 18 months or so, I am struck by how honestly and thoroughly engaged her reading of the material in question seems to be. More than most, Kirtley seems willing to accept what the works she studies have to say for themselves. I look forward to future books, and hope for several. I was further intrigued that Kirtley was at the center of the Comic Studies Society meetings at ICAF this year. That's a newly-launched group for the support of those studying the comics form. I thought it might be a good time to interview. Happily, she agreed. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: Susan, I've read in a couple of profiles you had an interest in comics as a kid that endured and then shifted in focus when you got to college age. I'm interest in that shift, because it's one every young reader makes. What were some of the big titles for you, meaningful creators or works to discover, as you were finding works that interested you in college and beyond? Did you see it on a continuity with your older interest in mainstream comics?

SUSAN KIRTLEY: I am a lifelong reader of comics, and I am sure that I've told you the story of starting to read comics in elementary school because I was told, in no uncertain terms, "girls don't read comics." In those early days I read what I could find on the spinner racks at the supermarket, primarily superheroes, but as I got older and became more mobile and independent I entered that magical place -- the comic book shop. As a teenager I started investigating darker, more mature titles. I loved Tank Girl and Preacher and became fascinated with Dark Horse titles like Ghost, Barb Wire, Grendel and Concrete. In college I discovered the Alternative and Underground movement, yet through all of this I still loved the superhero titles.

I am, by nature, a voracious and catholic reader of all sorts of texts, regardless of whether the narrative is primarily text-based or a graphic narrative. I subscribe to the New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly. In sixth grade I got a "Great Works of Shakespeare" anthology and read the giant tome entirely, while at the same time devouring Judy Blume and Madeline L'Engle. I've been devoted to comics for a long time, and as I've grown older and read more that passion and appreciation has only grown as I've discovered the depth and diversity of comic art.

imageSPURGEON: Was comics always going to be the end result of what you studied? Because most of the papers listed under your bio, they don't seem to have comics connection at all, and in one interview you actually said you worked outside of academia, in television. Is there any danger at all for an academic to limit themselves to one medium, one area of study like that?



KIRTLEY: Honestly, I never thought I'd be lucky enough to study comics as a career. As I said before I've been reading comics for an awfully long time, but it wasn't until fairly recently that I was able to incorporate comic art into my scholarly work. Academia encourages us to focus narrowly, becoming an expert in a very small area. This is wonderful in that it allows us to think deeply and look closely, yet given my somewhat itinerant personality I find I am drawn to many areas of inquiry.

After graduating with my undergraduate degree I worked for a little while at PBS in the documentary department, which allowed me to indulge my fascination with the interplay of text and image as I worked with written script and filmed footage. As time passed, I noticed huge budget cuts at PBS; they were replacing my senior colleagues with cheap, uninsured recent college graduates -- like me -- and I decided it was time to go back to school. While in graduate school I studied medieval women writers, feminist theory, rhetoric and composition, writing and technology, and visual rhetoric, amongst many other things. Some might find my curriculum vitae to be peripatetic since I've published and worked in several areas, but I think it also represents my continuing interests in representing voices and subjects marginalized or underrepresented in academic discourse. For me it is not so strange to examine the wonderful illuminated manuscripts of Christine de Pisan, the evolving world of writing for the screen, and the unique conventions of comic art.

SPURGEON: What is the study of visual rhetoric? That would seem to apply to comics, or at least the definition of "visual rhetoric" I have in my head, but I honestly have no idea if it does or not. Is there a way to describe what you might uniquely bring to the study of comics, your specific area of study?

KIRTLEY: Visual rhetoric sounds quite fancy, but it is really quite intuitive -- the study of imagery as used in rhetoric. It's a fairly new area of inquiry within the very old field of rhetoric. How are images used to communicate? To persuade? To argue? We can study posters, advertisements, architecture, and, of course, comic art, in an attempt to better understand what the visual imagery conveys. The discipline of visual rhetoric offers a set of tools, a theory and vocabulary, for analyzing and interpreting comics that can provide another way of looking at the form. As someone trained in rhetoric, I find it very useful to bring this lens to my study of comics as a way of analyzing this medium I adore.

SPURGEON: You received an offer to write a book on Lynda Barry based on a lecture you gave -- you were verbally offered a contract right after speaking, if I have the story right. What do you remember about considering that offer? Did you have to make a case for what a book might look like, if only to yourself?

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KIRTLEY: I did actually have to submit something in writing to the University Press of Mississippi to get a contract for my book, but it was, without a doubt, another very lucky break on my part. I gave a presentation about Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons at a conference and had an opportunity to meet the great Tom Inge just afterward. He is the Series Editor for the Great Comics Artists Series with UPM, and he encouraged me to submit a proposal with the text from my talk. I was nervous because I was primarily trained as a rhetorician and scholar of literature, but Professor Inge sat me down and asked me what comics I liked. I proceeded to monologue for 15 or so minutes about all of my favorite comics, at which point Inge simply stated, "You'll be fine." He explained that many comics scholars come from other fields, but learn as they go. I think he saw my passion for comics and figured I should make the attempt. With his encouragement I sent off the proposal. I knew the subject of the book was important, but I worried whether I should be the one to tell it. I compensated by researching obsessively after receiving the contract, and trying to do my best to honor Barry and her work.

SPURGEON: One compelling through-line in the Barry book is how the fact that she works in so many different media, and to different ends project to project, allows you to isolate recurring elements in her work such as her depiction of childhood, of young girls. Does her facility across several media change the way she works within specific media, though. Is she a different cartoonist for also being a playwright?

KIRTLEY: I do find Barry's proficiency in so many media fascinating, and, I suspect, something of a rarity. Certainly we can see her strengths as a writer in her comics. She is clearly loquacious, cramming a great deal of narrative and speech into each panel, and even considered in isolation, this writing is excellent. However, I think her skills as a visual artist also influence her writing. She used a paintbrush to paint the text of the manuscript that would become Cruddy, which forced her to slow down and consider the shape and meaning of each word. I think Barry would say that she is focused on rendering the image, and the form it takes (essay, comic, painting) doesn't matter as much as being truthful to that image, but it is quite a gift to be able to create in many media. I, for one, feel lucky to craft a decent sentence, let alone paint or draw an image.

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SPURGEON: What do you remember about the interview she gave in support of the book? How did you arrange that? She's very careful about protecting her time considering that so many people want to spend time with her. What is different about the book for her having done that with you.

KIRTLEY: Throughout the process of writing the book I was extremely cautious of maintaining a good working relationship with Lynda Barry. I reached out to her through her agent, and set up an interview at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. She was teaching a weeklong "Writing the Unthinkable" workshop, and I was able to attend and to conduct an interview with her. She was also gracious about providing the cover art and answering additional questions. However, I was careful not to ask too much of her. She is understandably protective of her time and her privacy, and I was very aware of that.

I felt incredibly privileged to conduct the interview. It was an extremely hot day in July, and the two of us sat in lounge chairs in the forest, surrounded by ancient trees, acrobatic squirrels, and the buzzing drone of insects. As I was getting set up I was sweating profusely and fiddling with a clunky, old school recorder; I'm sure nothing I did inspired confidence in my abilities. But as we talked and I began sharing about my own life, I think we both began to relax. At one point she turned to me and said, "You're alright," and I felt our conversation take another turn. We sat and chatted for several hours, and my list of questions was forgotten, but when I looked back at them later I realized we'd covered them all and more. Lynda Barry was obviously the heart of the book, and she was incredibly kind to give so generously of her time. In early drafts of the book there were huge chunks of transcripts of Lynda Barry just talking. The editors kept pushing me to cut back, but she's just so good!

SPURGEON: Was there a specific one of Barry's texts you found more difficult than the others? You write with a great deal of confidence, which gives this really nice energy as you unpack these ideas, like how conclusions regarding certain protagonists in her fiction may have led Barry to some of the methods she uses in teaching. I just wondered if all the chapters went that smoothly, or if there was something with which you struggled.

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KIRTLEY: As a reader, I have a hard time with Cruddy. You would think that as someone trained to study text-based novels I would find Cruddy the easiest work to analyze; it is such a rich text to unpack. The paratext alone is fascinating. However, I find it to be such a raw, visceral piece that it can be incredibly painful to read. That's a testament to the quality of the work, but it's a very draining text to spend time with, at least for me.

SPURGEON: Was winning the Eisner important to the book? Was it important to you? What do you remember about that night now? Charles Hatfield told me that it was indeed a really big deal for an awards program to honor academic work in the Eisners have with his book and your book.

KIRTLEY: I am so glad that the Eisners decided to include a category for Best Educational/Academic publication. I think the category represents the great comics scholarship that is being done and demonstrates that academic inquiry can serve to illuminate and elucidate comic art.

I worked very hard on my book so I was thrilled to be nominated for the award, but once I saw the other nominees I was floored. These are scholars I thoroughly respect, and frankly, I'm in awe of them. To be included in that company is astounding. I went to the Eisner Awards never have attended a San Diego Comic-Con before, and to say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I attended convinced that I would never win, but knowing that this was my chance to be in a room full of the most talented, innovative people working in comics today. When my book received the award I, for lack of a better turn of phrase, freaked out. I remember trying to run -- not walk -- to the front of the room like a rat in a maze, but being unable to find my way through the tables. It was not a particularly dignified moment, but as I was ushered off the stage my friend and mentor Charles Hatfield and his lovely wife Michele were there to prop me up. Suffice it to say, the award was a lovely and unexpected honor, one that I think speaks to Barry's influence and importance.

SPURGEON: What led you to want to go back and serve as a judge? That just happened, like the day we're talking. That's a lot of comics to read, Susan.

KIRTLEY: After attending the Eisner Awards at Comic-Con and experiencing this grand celebration of comics, I was eager to contribute in any way I could. I consider it an honor and a great privilege to help select the Eisner nominees. I know this is a cliché, but it's a dream come true. Furthermore, it's so much fun -- so far. You should probably ask me again in a few months. And yes, it's a lot of comics. I'm putting everything else on hold and holing up in my homemade Fortress of Solitude for the next few months, but what a great excuse to read comics!

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SPURGEON: I love the approach with the Lynn Johnston material. Can you just talk in broad terms about the period you're covering with this new inquiry, what the basic parameters of your approach invovled? Speaking of which, am I to take it that this period has since ended on that feature, that this something you can study with a beginning and an end?

KIRTLEY: I'm interested in studying several comic strips created by women that all began shortly after 1975 and all ended around 2010: Cathy Guisewite's Cathy (1976-2010), Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse (1979-2008), Lynda Barry's Ernie Pook's Comeek (1979-2008) and Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For (1983-2008). I am still very much in the process of studying these comics, but I'm interested in the way that the strips render a rhetoric of domesticity that informed national opinion, simultaneously reinforcing and rejecting popular stereotypes of women, children, and family. The project will explore these strips and the ways in which they posit a complicated, multi-faceted perspective on family and relationships that is both personal and political.

SPURGEON: Is there anything that ties this inquiry into past takes you've had on things like the visual language involved? I don't see as natural a connection here as I do with Lynda Barry.

KIRTLEY: I've done a great deal of work with feminist theory and women writers, which is a theme that certainly recurs in my research interests and probably explains why I'm drawn to looking at the work of these creators. I'm also quite intrigued by the range of visual imagery expressed in the strips, and how it works in concert with the language.

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SPURGEON: What does a working academic get out of a weekend like an ICAF? Both ideally and practically. What did you walk away from Columbus having experienced that's useful to you moving forward?

KIRTLEY: I am something of a hermit, so events like ICAF can be challenging for me, but I've made a conscious effort to attend such events and really participate, attending the presentations and engaging with the other presenters because I find it so inspiring. These are folks who are creating exciting, innovative scholarship, and hearing about their work and having the opportunity to ask questions stimulates my thinking. I've also received great feedback on my own work -- suggestions for texts I should read and consider, ideas for connections with other scholars, and queries that spur my thinking. And finally, I've met the best colleagues, friends, and mentors I could imagine. These are people who help with teaching questions, research questions, life questions -- just great people to have a few drinks with and completely geek out.

SPURGEON: One of the underlying themes of this year's ICAF is something that I'm sure has come up multiple times with your work on Johnston: the idea that our knowledge of the personal lives of various comics-makers is something that should be explored, something that should inform us, and academics needn't be afraid to go into these areas in a respectful, curious way. Bart Beaty agitated on behalf of dealing with records of historical fact that way at a couple of panel presentations, even. How do you feel about getting into these areas with your work? What kind of standards do you apply?

KIRTLEY: In my doctoral program I was advised to avoid biographical readings of texts, since we can never know the "real" or "true" author, but only what Foucault would call the "author function," our creation of the idea of the author. Therefore I approach biographical information about creators carefully. In my work I would be cautious about making easy claims that a particular comic artist made a choice as a direct result of an event in his or her personal history. However, when working with artists like Barry and Johnston who reference themselves as artists in the work itself, I think you have to address the creator, or at least that self they present in the work.

SPURGEON: What was your response to Bart Beaty's challenge in his keystone address at ICAF that cartoonists need to be more engaged with neglected area of comics studies? What about his assertion that comics academics could be doing more within their departments to better up their chances of doing things on behalf of comics, on behalf of comics academia. Do you have aspirations in this direction?

KIRTLEY: I am a big fan of Bart's work so I was delighted by his talk. He cited statistical evidence that proved a feeling I've had for some time, that there are large swathes of unexplored areas in comics studies. As someone who loves all sorts of comics, from auteurs to mainstream publishers, I felt affirmed that the work I'm doing is worthwhile, both in my research on comic artists like Lynn Johnston and Cathy Guisewite and in my program building at Portland State, where I'm developing a Comics Studies program. I think if we are to promote comics scholarship and, for that matter, production, we need to lobby for resources and recognition. I'm trying to do that within my own university through program building and in the wider field of scholarship through my work with the Comics Studies Society and the MLA.

imageSPURGEON: How did you get involved with the Comics Studies Society? And where are you guys right now in terms of its development? What's the next big deadline?

KIRTLEY: I attended the meeting Charles Hatfield organized at the Festival of Cartoon Art at Ohio State in 2013 to discuss such a society, and I was struck by the excitement of everyone in the room. Those who know me know that I have a bit of a compulsion for organization, thus I took detailed notes on the event and helped suggest some deadlines and procedures for moving forward. Over the summer I worked with Charles Hatfield, Matt Smith and Nhora Serrano on bylaws for the group, which we presented at our first official meeting the following November at ICAF, which was also held at Ohio State. Currently, the Executive Committee is working on establishing non-profit status so we can begin admitting members as soon as possible. Once we've tackled the business issues we can begin our mission, "promoting the critical study of comics, improving comics teaching, and engaging in open and ongoing conversations about the comics world."

SPURGEON: How would you describe the necessity for such a group to someone on the outside looking in? Where are you guys right now?

KIRTLEY: The Comics Studies Society bills itself as "the US's first learned society and professional association for comics researchers and teachers," and I believe that such an organization is important for answering Bart Beaty's call and promoting comics scholarship. Academics studying comics come from many different disciplines, which makes the field diverse and exciting, but also difficult to organize. Many scholarly conferences in different disciplines host panels on comics, but this society has the opportunity to bring all of us together.

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* Susan Kirtley Biographical Page
* Susan Kirtley's book Lynda Barry, Girlhood Through The Looking Glass
* Comics Studies Society

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* photo provided by Kirtley
* from Christine de Pisan, I think
* Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons
* Kirtley's book on Barry
* the Barry book that's most difficult for Kirtley to read
* the first strip from the post-conclusion period onFor Better Or For Worse
* ICAF, the every-18-months academic conference, this year hosted by the good folks affiliated with Ohio State
* CSS, the new academics-support group of which Kirtley is a significant part
* one more from One Hundred Demons, below

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Go, Look: Darin Shuler

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Festivals Extra: ReedPOP Joins Forces With ECCC

I forgot this was out there in rumor form so I forgot to go looking when it finally became a news story: Emerald City Comic Con, the very successful and much-liked Seattle show, is partnering with ReedPOP -- they're the folks behind a bunch of shows but the ones that inform this story are C2E2 and NYCC. That makes total sense from both ends -- Emerald City is that big now, and they've become that way without a lot of infrastructure. ReedPOP wants to dominate the convention space and is expanding abroad. This makes sense on the homefront. There are two or three other shows that could eventually be partners, too, if they want to continue in that direction.

What might be the best outcome is if some of the magic that ECCC works with creators can inform the culture of the ReedPOP shows, which are succesfful but to my mind don't have that kind of feverish affection.
 
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Go, Look: Nightmare #12

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Bundled Extra: D+Q Announces Fall 2015 Book From Kate Beaton

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Drawn and Quarterly announced through the Hero Complex blog today (I'm afraid I didn't see it) and then with a follow-up e-mail (that I saw) that they'll be publishing a new Kate Beaton book called Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection.

The first book they did together was a tremendous critical success and one of that publisher's all-time best-selling books. I believe -- and someone can correct me if I'm wrong, I'd appreciate it -- she'll also have a book out for Scholastic around that time.

There's a mini-interview with Beaton at the LA Times site.

 
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Go, Look: Herman The Elder

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On Overpublishing And Rack Sales

Brian Hibbs wrote in that we weren't paying enough attention to his article here on Direct Market overpublishing and the effect that it has on rack sales. Hibbs has a good point here generally, that flattening the market out with more titles represented per sale than used to be is a tricky thing for the profitability and, to be honest, ongoing viability of that very important market. I would probably disagree with him on various interpretive matters: the expressed desire of a single shop vs. the displayed habits of the collective market when it comes to sales and who they sell to, for one. I don't have charts right now, though, so Brian wins.
 
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Go, Look: Elizabeth Simins

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

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This is a clearinghouse for various links and articles related to the killings in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices, and its violent aftermath in Paris a couple of days later. There will be links to material and the employment of images here or elsewhere that may upset. Every link and every image used is intended to better facilitate this site's mission to inform.

* up top please find two magazine covers I wanted to see when I started thinking about the scope of the reaction: the New Yorker cover, and the Spirou cover.

image* and after waking up, I find that Luz's Hebdo cover is up. That image is important, and shouldn't wait until tomorrow, so here it is at left. A slight latecomer. That's a really interesting cartoon: a simple visual, still deeply upsetting and troubling for those that see as problematic to wrong any depiction of this type, or for those that object to the kind of caricature employed, but also moving and able to hold up to multiple, shifting ideas. It's also very melancholy.

* that's a cartoonist whose work friends were just murdered and who only avoided that fate by missing a routine weekly work meeting. I would be curled up in a ball.

* they've apparently printed three million, not one million, of that latest issue. I bet they sell out of that three million pretty easily, and suspect they'll do another giant printing for the Angouleme Festival.

* I made a separate post for this New York Times piece by Tim Kreider, but I wanted to remind people of it here because I thought it was thoughtful and articulate.

* here's a very passionately-argued piece indicting Charlie Hebdo's use of imagery.

* since many of you have asked, all I know about plans for the Angouleme Festival that are different than the plans that were made before are 1) there will be security precautions, 2) there will be formal and informal attempts all throughout the weekend to recognize what's taken place. I urge all of my friends who plan on attending to have the safest possible trip, and hope they will bear witness to any history being made during the show.

* elsewhere on that same site, Matt Bors makes a cartoon.

* Marguerite Dabie on the matter and some wider issues involved.

* there will be multiple attempts, both formally journalistic and informally via social media, to connect the Hebdo killings to various abuses of the press, such as the horror-show flogging of blogger Raif Badawai. I think that's fair and to be expected and hopefully does some good. I'm not interested in the "gotcha" element in pointing out, say, that there are world leaders participating in a march when some are not sporting the best free-speech records. It's usually not about winning the Internet on stories like these. I also think you can want to show support for a specific case or construction and still have a lot of shit you need to get squared away on your own. But someone's expressed admiration for an ideal through an act or through a statement certainly has power as a focus through which we re-examine certain practices. When it comes to free speech, that's usually a huge positive.

* and then there's the threatening of mosques as a direct result of both the news event itself and the kind of whipped-up fever into which people get on issues of religion when things get overheated as a result. It's inhuman, heartbreaking and unnecessary and I hope there's as little of it as possible with even less of a real-world next step. It doesn't strike me as a Christian response. If the motivation behind the killings was to instigate this kind of pushback, which is entirely possible, the persons making such threats have made themselves the continuation of the same terrorist act.

* here's video of MAD Editor John Ficarra's appearance on CBS's Sunday morning news programming.

* here's a short video news piece about those who chose not to march in the Je Suis Charlie Hebdo demonstrations.

* finally, at bottom, Ruben Bolling's Tom The Dancing Bug strip in response to last week's news.

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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Little Lulu

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By Request Extra: Jack Katz Has A Crowd-Funder Going Now

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And here it is. Jack Katz is one of the more interesting artists in both mainstream and indy-comics history; I'm thrilled he's still making comics.
 
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Go, Look: Another Esad Ribic Superhero Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's not exactly comics, but William Morris will represent IDW and the properties they publish/control in that way. I remember at a San Diego in like '96 someone suggesting that some agent should just run around and sign up cartoonists by the dozens and we all laughed.

image* Todd Klein on Batman '66: The Lost Episode.

* free comics magazine for download.

* I haven't been paying much attention, but it's hard for me to imagine this Ken Parille piece went over well. I guess it could have been ignored. To be honest, I don't know where to go and look when those discussions are done in social media and I'm not right on top of them. I share with Parille a general impression that a lot of art right now is taken literally when that may not be the best way to understand it, which I guess you could also see as a distrust of subtext or context as a way to spin or to excuse or to avoid criticism on material despite its primary, up-front nature. I would imagine the rhetorical structure employed by Parille is designed to draw people out in a literal way.

* that nice person Johanna Draper Carlson previews a new retailer-friendly comics magazine that's going to employ a price guide. Hard for me to imagine what a price guide totally reflective of the post-eBay realities of buying comics would even look like.

* it's always worth it to run past a security screen or two if you get to read some Pete Millar at the end.

* Tobias Carroll talks to Farel Dalrymple.

* there are comics on this list of YA books. Well, all right.

* finally, while I've made an event notice of it, you might be interested in Dan Vado's forthcoming rent-party as a way to help Vado.

 
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January 12, 2015


Go, Look: The Dishrack

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Go, Read: Tim Kreider In The New York Times On Charlie Hebdo

Here. Tim's a thoughtful man and a very good writer, and as of now he's the person directly from comics culture given the largest mainstream platform on this event.
 
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Go, Look: Where The Grass Is Always Greener

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Festivals Extra: TCAF Travel Update

imageThe first Porter Air sale that's near enough to the date of TCAF weekend that those dates are included is going to end tomorrow. The Newark to NYC tickets are like $85 one way. Remember that Porter also has the advantage of an easier route from airport to the general convention era: $20 cab or a "shuttle + subway" combo vs. an hour-plus on the shuttle bus.

Whatever comics show you may be doing this year (if you're doing one or more), it might be good to be a bit extra-on-top-of-things in terms of snagging discount tickets or squaring away the hotel/airbnb rezzos. It strikes me that discounts and availability seem reduced this year as compared to previous years, at least on the shows I've checked out.
 
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Go, Look: Dylan Horrocks Talks To Paul Gravett + Provides A Two-Page Comic

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

* this went up on twitter a few days ago, but Georges Wolinski or at least the Wolinski family had/has an instagram account. A lot of family stuff, including his widow (they were married 44 years) and a shot of the empty work space.

* the person behind the site The Shittiest Editorial Cartoon Of The Moment uses the story as a chance to beat on US editorial cartoonists for seeking safety and trying not to offend anyone.

* the Angouleme Festival is putting memorial cartoons on their site.

* Albert Uderzo releases two cartoons in support. I've had some people tell me that these aren't new cartoons, but they are lovely.

* this is the most strained pivot I've seen yet.

* here's a second cartoon from the Crumb household.

* this Fareed Zakaria op-ed on the underpinnings of the notion of blasphemy as it may have informed a world view that may have been in play with the Charlie Hebdo killings is much-traveled but fairly succinct and with a wider point about certain legal structures which reinforce these notions in a damaging way within certain countries.

* Milo Manara remembers his friend Georges Wolinski, and provides his opinion more generally on what happened.

* there have been several articles rotating content on-line about various cartoons in newspapers that serve Muslim communities and from Muslim cartoonists condeming the attacks.

* speaking of which, here's a radio snippet where a host crushes a guy for the suggestion that muslims need apologize for the actions of the Charlie Hebdo killers.

* I found the Wolinski instagram account through this article from Sweden, well worth the time to read in full if you have a good translator. It talks about the tradition a bit, and tells a few funny stories about Wolinski including what he once asked be done with his ashes.

* finally, here are a couple of Steve Bell cartoons about the killings. (1, 2) And then one from Martin Rowson.
 
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Go, Look: Dr. Seuss From Then To Now

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

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Go, Look: Various 1970s Jim Starlin Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Ed Piskor shows off the cover to the third volume of his Hip Hop Family Tree, and provides its visual inspirations.

* not comics: I used a link to this Andrew Sullivan post to read up on several ideas about the death of the creative class as presented in a new book and couple of resulting thinkpieces. How best to see to it that artists get rewarded for their art to the maximum allowable extent is maybe the big mission facing all of comics now that the medium's legitimacy as a place to make art and potent entertainment has been secured.

* Becca Choules profiles Robert Duncan. Michael C. Lorah talks to Andi Watson.

* I wasn't aware Mark Verheiden was keeping a blog where he occasionally writes about comics or near-comics things.

* a story, tweeted.

* here's a profile of some of the advertisements that inspired a young Robert Crumb.

* finally, Box Brown is here to cheer us up.
 
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January 11, 2015


Go, Read: Translated Interview With Charlie Hebdo Cartoonist Luz About This Week And Next

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not my photo, but it's used in the linked-to piece so I think I can use it to drive attention to that article, like a sample image; apologies in general, though
 
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Go, Read: Ruben Bolling's Response To Joe Sacco And Defense Of Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

It's here. Bolling says he was surprised to discover that most of the Hebdo cartoons he encountered had satirical intent and discusses that a bit in the light of Joe Sacco's cartooned response.
 
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Go, Read: Michael Kupperman On His Incredibly Lousy-Sounding New York Times Experience

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Go, Read: Boston-Centric Article About Charlie Hebdo Killings

I don't necessarily agree with the implications at the conclusion of this article: I think there are reasons to pay attention to the Hebdo killings distinct from a loss of life measure even though, yes, many of these stories mentioned should be discussed way, way more frequently and with greater thoroughness. I urge everyone to take control of their newsgathering in a way they can find information out on important stories.

That said, I like the engaged tone of the piece, particularly in that the writer tries to explain a bit how a magazine like that can become a beloved institution, and its reminder that a lot of its meaning will be processed community to community.
 
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Go, Look: Bad Reporter Comic On Charlie Hebdo Killings

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Go, Read: Cynthia Rose In Paris At Time Of Charlie Hebdo Killings

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

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

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January 10, 2015


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Steve Bell On Drawing About The Charlie Hebdo Killings


NY Times Video Of Older Charlie Hebdo Editorial Meeting


Jeanette Bougrab, Widow of Charlie Hebdo Editor Stephane Charbonnier, Speaks



Conan O'Brien And Jon Stewart On Killings At Charlie Hebdo Offices


A Gathering Earlier Today In Southern France
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from January 3 to January 9, 2015:

1. Twelve people including five prominent cartoonist including former Grand Prix winner Georges Wolinski are slain by gunmen in the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The suspected gunmen and at least one accomplice were killed two days later by police.

2. IDW buys Top Shelf. Chris Staros becomes Editor-In-Chief. The business remains in its physical location and with the same staff except for co-founder Brett Warnock, who is retiring from the comics publishing business.

3. Apparently, there was an Image Expo. Sorry, guys.

Winner Of The Week
Loser Of The Week
I'm going to skip both of these this week. Surely, IDW and Top Shelf did well. Surely most of the Charlie Hebdo news was awful.

Quote Of The Week
"Cabu [Jean Cabut] is a great French cartoonist. Cabu was the kindest guy on earth. He was nearly 80 years old. He hated soldiers. He hated all kinds of ideology. He hated religions -- all of them! He was the kindest guy on earth. He was, you know, the kind of guy you want to just hug in your arms. He never even laughed even if his drawings were really, really funny. He never yelled. And, you know, killing them is... [sighs] I don't know how to say it. Killing them is absolutely awful. They just wanted all the French citizens to laugh once a week in their newspaper. They were naughty, bad kids. Some of them were deaf. They couldn't hear because they were too old. They were grandpas drawing each week." -- Nicolas Demorand

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the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

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

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

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

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

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

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January 9, 2015


Go, Read: Charlie Hebdo's Post-Shooting Editorial Meeting

There's an article here they're actually offering up for free distribution through web sites about the surviving Charlie Hebdo staffers having an editorial meeting at the Liberation offices. At least I think that's what it is. Among the discoveries: the new editor, how the way they're structured makes replacing some of the talent more difficult than usual, the amount of money that has been raised so far (directly, although a demand for subscriptions is up.
 
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Go, Look: On Satire

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Links, Statements And Notes As They Relate To The Charlie Hebdo Killings

A few links of interesting pertaining to the murders of 12 people in and around the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. My computer use is very limited today, so bear with me for a few hours.

* a violent, startling end to the nationwide manhunt for the two brothers suspected of the killings included an accomplice taking over a grocery store and then being killed, a potential new accomplice and two instances of deadly gunfire.

* Robert Crumb comments via cartoon.

* the most affecting article I saw since last night was one that showed a photo looking into the Hebdo offices. There's blood. It's not a nice picture.

* one of the people I'm friends with on Facebook mentioned that Louis CK did his wednesday night show in a Charlie Hebdo t-shirt, for whatever that's worth.

* Zunar calls for January 7 to be made World Cartoonists Day.

* Wednesday's Daily Show opened with host Jon Stewart saying a few words about the Charlie Hebdo situation.

* two articles at the NYT perhaps worth noting: Jennifer Scheussler on the implications for satire; David Brooks on what David Brooks thinks about all this. The Brooks one is kind of hilariously weird. I don't understand why expressing solidarity with someone in a very specific circumstance would be held to factual analysis of whether or not you're actually that person, but to each his own.

* I guess I missed this. I wouldn't have participated.

* Matt Madden comments from France.

* I'm glad to see that poor, brave officer Ahmed Merabet get every bit of attention he can. The phrasing of some of the sloganeering loses me a bit, but it's been that kind of a week. I can't tell if they're setting up a hierarchy of preferred deaths and suggesting that free speech is somehow responsible for aberrant behavior done in response or if I'm just really, really tired.

* Neil Gaiman responds through the CBLDF site.

* finally, for you New Yorkers, Eddie Portnoy will visit the next NY Comics & Picture-Story Symposium to revisit some of his work on Charlie Hebdo and the tradition of satire from which they have worked.

since posting I've deleted two posts that were outdated to a significant degree; my apologies for the bad blogging
 
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OTBP: Revenger #1

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A Brief Note About Linking To Issues With Political Ramifications

I got a pair of e-mails this morning from opposite sides of the political spectrum objecting to links used in the course of this site's Charlie Hebdo coverage.

While most of what I do is going to be linking to more general news sites, there's a chance I'm going to do some linking to people that I personally find noxious in their world view, and that you may find noxious, too. If the killers are apprehended and do interviews and publish commentary, there's a chance I'm going to link to that stuff, too. I also feel free to use whatever imagery I think furthers my mission to inform. This is how it's always been done here. During the Danish Cartoons Crisis I linked to some of the dumbest, most loathesome thinkers in the world. We also hosted the cartoons.

A link is not an endorsement. It's a tool by which you can go read something I've selected for you to potentially go read. Barring accompanying language that says so, it is not an endorsement of a point of view represented, and it is certainly not an endorsement of other points of view a person may have. Good gravy. I have no idea how this sad, consumerist notion has settled in on the dissemination of information on-line, but I don't agree with it.

You're welcome to read other sites or other coverage. I'm sad to lose you.

As is the case with every issue, I'm happy to run letters of disagreement or criticism on this. I'll do this even though the letter-writer might be a horrible person. The publication of those views is also not an endorsement.

Update: One e-mailer has allowed me to publish our e-mail exchange from which this mini-editorial arrived at the halfway point. I'm grateful.
 
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Go, Look: Carl Rose Illustrations

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Go, Look: John Held, Jr.

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Eisner Awards Puts Out 2015 Submissions Call

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All information here. The deadline is March 17, and they give you a rough idea of the categories -- the judges have some leeway to add and drop if they see fit.

Good luck to all of those that participate.
 
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If I Were In Albuquerque, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: The American Theater

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Dark Horse Presents #35. Zainab Akhtar on CBSP Fairytales For Bad Bitches. Marjorie Ingall on Above The Dreamless Dead.

* what sounds like the collapse of a disorganized con leads to some better business bureau advice. If you don't know the people with whom you're working, you're always at risk. You're probably at risk anyway, no matter what.

* this is Ryan Holmberg's first foray into manga history of 2015, and I look forward to reading it.

* Mark Evanier declares his intention to finish his more prose-driven Jack Kirby biography this year.

* the ComicsAlliance best-of list is always much anticipated because of all the humorous categories. I think one reason I liked numbered best-of lists is that I'd be more interested in an essay that made the case that Arsene Schrauwen was the book of the year than I am that it's another book worth your consideration, but that's just me.

* here's a profile of a new pay-as-you-go sketchbook from Natalie Nourigat.

* finally, I'm sad to see that Galerija Elektrika Pancevo has closed. That's one of the great places in the world for comics, and one of the great places for creative foment that leads to great comics.
 
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January 8, 2015


Links, Ruminations And Statements On The Day After The Charlie Hebdo Killings

What follows is some basic link-blogging as to articles, statements and resources that might begin to help one better understand the events of January 7, 2015 in Paris, where 13 people were killed in and around or directly related to an assault on the offices of the satirical newsmagazine Charlie Hebdo. These are of course subjectively collected and in many cases subjectively written, but this is how I encountered that story.

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Additional Facts As I've Come To Understand Them

* a fifth comics-maker on staff was part of the "10 journalists" killed figure. Philippe Honoré was a staff cartoonist.

* one reason that Honoré might be of significant attention is becauase he did one of the portraits that may be at the heart of the event's specific trigger.

* a full list of those killed: Jean Cabut, "Cabu" (cartoonist); Stephane Charbonnier, "Charb" (cartoonist); Georges Wolinski (cartoonist); Philipe Honore (cartoonist); Bernard Verlhac, "Tignous" (cartoonist); Bernard Maris, "Oncle Bernard" (columnist); Elsa Cayat (psychiatrist and writer); Mustapha Ourrad (proofreader); Michel Renaud (festival head/visitor); Frederi Boisseau (maintenance worker); Franck Brinsolaro (police officer assigned to Charb); Ahmed Merabet (local policeman murdered at scene.

* I've yet to read anything definitive about what the exact cause of the attack might be. Contextual clues and recent history suggest it's related to the magazine's publishing history with Muhammad images but can't even tell you if it's being genuinely or cynically applied. General anger about those images still seems to be the #1 assumed goal of the killers (with societal disruption and revenge for a single recent image and/or article tied at #2), but we may not know more unless the suspects are captured and they talk.

* the idea floated in media reports last night that two suspects had been identified and arrested was really only the identification and some wishful thinking. The search continues and may be focused in the north of France.

* a million copies of next week's issue of Charlie Hebdo are planned. Circulation had recently fallen as low as 45,000.

* today is a national day of mourning in France.

* the moment of the attacks was noted at the offices, a moment of silence, and the ringing of the bells at Notre Dame. More marches are planned for tonight, mirroring last night's well-attended events.

* memorials have been left at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

* a shooting this morning in southern Paris that killed a policewoman has become of interest because of report that the shooter was wearing clothes similar to that of the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

* the two primary subjects are Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, 32 and 34 years old.

* initially reported as dead, an 18-year-old suspect named Hamyd Mourad turned himself over to police yesterday evening after hearing his name mentioned as a suspect.

* newer reports credited to an eyewitness have the gunmen separating victims at a lunchroom editorial meeting and killing those they intended to see dead assassination-style.

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Biographies Of The Cartoonists Killed

* Cabu
* Charb
* Philippe Honore
* Tignous
* Georges Wolinski

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Selected News And Analysis Articles

* Art Spiegelman And Tariq Ramadan On Democracy Now!

* Buzzfeed

* CBLDF On The Charlie Hebdo Cartoons
* CNN's General Day Two Article

* Hollywood Reporter On JeSuisAhmed Hashtag
* Hooded Utilitarian
* Huffington Post World

* Independent General Day Two Article

* Maori TV On Derek Fox Assigning Blame To Editorial Arrogance
* Mother Jones On Wednesday Night's Marches

* On Being With A 9 Points To Ponder Article

* Salon With A Graphic Novel Recommendation Post-Charlie Hebdo

* Telegraph Focus On The Cartoonists

* US News And World Report Article Featuring Benjamin Netanyahu's Reaction
* USA Today's Much-Discussed, Much-Reviled Piece From Cleric Anjhem Choudary

* Vice.com Article On Why It's Absurd For People To Expect Moderates To Apologize For Radicals

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Selected Past News And Analysis Articles

* Wednesday's Initial Article From Slate About News Media Censoring Imagery In Reporting Of Story

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Miscellaneous Resources
* Derf Re-Published A Photo Of The Bloody Office On Facebook

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Statements And Declarations, Many On Social Media

* Allan Haverholm

* Brian Biggs

* Chris Schweizer

* Darryl Cunningham

* Edmond Baudoin Draws The Initial Four Cartoonists Reported Dead

* George Packer At The New Yorker

* Hope Larson

* Matt Madden

* Patrick Baz
* Paul Dini

* Stephane Rosse

* Tariq Ramadan

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A Few Notes On Yesterday's Charlie Hebdo Coverage

I made a few choices yesterday in covering the Charlie Hebdo killings that may be worth some brief commentary the day after.

The first was that I deliberately chose more general imagery for the Rest In Peace posts corresponding to Cabu, Charb, Philippe Honore, Tignous and Georges Wolinksi. There are a thousand ways each of us can be portrayed in snapshot fashion upon our deaths and in this case I wanted to emphasize that they were all working cartoonists. I received about a half-dozen e-mails from North American cartoonists who took those posts that way, for which I'm grateful.

The second was I used a provocative, ugly image that employs dehumanizing racial caricature as my Twitter avatar yesterday. I understand this was likely distasteful if not upsetting for some of you. I felt in that moment that it was important for me to show my sympathy for the murdered authors and staffers of Charlie Hebdo as they existed, not as I might have ideally hoped they would so I could conduct myself on the Internet yesterday. I didn't want to show this by connecting myself to some cleaned-up, made-up, idealized, super-champion version of the magazine. I didn't want to show this through a cold abstraction in language. So I picked one of the images that removed from all context upset me, because at the moment when murder is proposed by example as a response to the expression of an idea, I wanted to embrace the human and difficult and messy aspects of expression. I feel that the principle of free speech is an important achievement for civilization in great part because so much free speech brings with it elements of harm and ugliness in addition to its potential for bravery and truth and insight.

I realize that's probably a terrible, mock-worthy reason for a lot of you -- and maybe it will be for me, when I think about it. That's where I was yesterday morning.

(And while it wasn't part of my decision-making process, that snap choice yesterday does fall into two areas this site occasionally talks about, my belief that the employment of art isn't an automatic endorsement of art at its most literal and my belief that intent does have an impact on how I process imagery. Again, I realize others disagree.)

The third thing is that I tweeted my wish for a slow-down on wider analysis and using the events as a cross-comparative and jumping-off point until we know more and so that the murders themselves could be more fully processed. That one might have been wrong to make an issue of. Really, it's just me. I read so many grand, sweeping and conclusive arguments on such a range of issues yesterday and the autopsies haven't been done yet. I don't process information that quickly. I don't process murder that quickly. And what I'm afraid of is that death on many levels may be a foreign or walled-off experience for a lot of people who live inside their own heads, and for those that might be younger, that we move past it with a nod. I get wanting to abstract someone's murder into a quick "of course no one should be killed for what they say" and then get onto the issues that concern you most. I just wonder if that gives murder its due.

Taking someone's life because they expressed an idea or were in proximity to the expression of an idea someone finds objectionable is an astonishing thing. Murder is an astonishing thing. As many friends that I have in the comics world that speak so eloquently on being affirmed in one's identity or how one expresses oneself, let me suggest that murder is someone deciding the exact opposite of those things for you. Every possibility of you is now denied. When death comes upon you suddenly, my experience is you become acutely aware of what is being taken away. Seeing your dog? You don't get to do that anymore. Making art? You're done making art. That blissful five minutes just sitting on your coach getting your head together? Gone. Every possible thing you can express in term of wanting to do it, you don't get to do now. Reading a big stack of comics from six months before you started reading those particular titles? Never again. Helping your Mom out with her computer even though it drives you nuts? She won't be able to ask you to do that anymore and your absence will be a chasm in her heart. Loving and being loved in return? You're separated from at least your earthly conception of it and in many world views that's over, too. I felt this yesterday for the people where this decision was made for them and even in a different way for the one of those apparently three lost souls who lost his life acting out on principles and ideas and values that I don't understand at all and wonder how he came to them. Murder deserves a period.

So while it may be childish and it's not exactly an internet-innoculated argument -- I sort of expect to be severely criticized for this, and that's fine -- that's where my head was when I suggested we maybe slow down and give this a chance to settle in and then go on. Or go back, if you've been lucky enough to fight on these fronts before now. By act and intent, I'm all for discussion of things like the elements of free speech and the responsibilities of satire and how shitty France's racial and cultural politics can be and how oafish and mean some of that satire maybe was in Charlie Hebdo on this and other issues and the horrific, grinding world circumstances that provides some of us with extraordinary privilege and some of us with far less. My site is yours for the expression of your opinions on these matters and more. But the last 24 hours I needed to give the principle of free speech against the cold backdrop of murder its due and my full attention, at least before I could re-engage.

And all of this is so very little about what I do or what I say or my feelings and attitudes towards it. Please chalk up the ridiculous size of this piece to my inarticulate way of expressing myself at times.

My fear is that by this time tomorrow we're going to be expected to talk about something else entirely.
 
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Philippe Honoré, RIP

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Go, Look: Crossing The Line

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Two Key Company Personnel Moves: Doyle, Sunu

* a pair of you sent along this interview at ComicsAlliance with the current Batman Group Editor Mark Doyle pointing out that Doyle moving to Burbank and continuing in that job is key for DC Comics moving forward. You won't get an argument from me about Doyle's importance to DC. His seems to me the strongest group of titles that DC's superhero division offers up, maybe by a wide margin. I just hadn't known his move was in doubt.

* congratulations to my peer Steve Sunu, recently of Comic Book Resources, on his move to Dark Horse to assume a PR role. I always like pointing out that the Dark Horse hires not only win that rare salaried job in comics, they've also won the lottery of being able to move to that wonderful city of Portland with a job in hand. There are very few jobs for people to find after they move to Portland.
 
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Not Comics: Slate Picks Their Favorite Slate Illustrations For 2014

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Not Comics: Bill Traylor

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I could not have found this on my own, so my apologies to whomever had it that it ended up in my bookmarks
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Umineko: When They Cry Vol. 8. Abhay Khosla on The Valiant #1. Tim Hanley on Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Strip.

* there's a nice write-up here about a Doonesbury cartoon that comments on the University of Virginia Rolling Stone rape story apparently completed before the magazine's commitment to the story was revoked. An alternative was offered but few papers on Doonesbury still-significant client list took the syndicate up on that offer. What was criticized, it seems, is the uses of the phrase "gang rape" as kind of a salty term with dismaying real-world implications for what some feel is appropriate to the Sunday newspaper page.

* Noah Berlatsky talks to Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger. Karl Keily talks to Chuck Dixon. Brett White talks to Rick Remender. Carlos Abdu talks to Cameron Stewart.

* Lauren Davis on the treatment of violence in Ms. Marvel. I wish that more mainstream comics would explore broad issues like this because that's something that genre material can do very well.

* not comics: one of the things that's interesting about this critique of news coverage of Detroit's ongoing crisis as a city is that it mirrors some of the thing I frequently have about comics properties: that a step back might reveal a more natural life cycle than some enthusiastic close-up of a good moment or a bad moment.

* finally, Noah Van Sciver may have found his cover for a projected Blammo #8.5.
 
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Bernard Krigstein Died 25 Years Ago Today

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January 7, 2015


Multiple People Killed In Attack On Charlie Hebdo Offices

imageThis is awful beyond words, and monstrous beyond imagining.

All thoughts and prayers with the victims, their families, their friends and the people of France.

All clarity of thought and virtues of intelligence to the organizers, exhibitors and attendees of the forthcoming festival in Angouleme.

*****

Some Basic Facts As I've Come To Understand Them

* the attack occurred around 11:30.

* twelve dead.

* 11 people were wounded, with four in serious condition.

* two of the dead are police officers who were stationed at the magazine due to past threats and the 2011 firebombing of the publication's offices. At least one of those police officers was killed in three exchanges of fire following the attack.

* eight of the dead were journalists.

* the cartoonists Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Tignous were all shot dead. Those four are counted as journalists.

* the weapons used were Kalashnikovs.

* the first person killed was in the waiting area. The majority of the people were killed during an editorial meeting. The prosecutor in charge of the initial investigation believes the gunmen knew about the time of the editorial meeting.

* Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper that includes a significant cartooning element, including comics.

* Charb, real name Stephane Charbonnier, was the magazine's current editor, starting in 2009. Wolinski is a major figure in French satire and was the Grand Prix winner at Angouleme in 2005. Cabu was also a distinguished older satirist with a career stretching back decades.

* I'm told by Thomas Ragon of Dargaud that if 10 staffers of Charlie Hebdo were killed as is believed, that would represent half or slightly more than half of the newspaper's staff.

* the French President visited the scene the day of the attack, and condemned the attack from outside the offices.

* the overall length of the attack may have been relatively brief, several minutes.

* three suspects were initially the focus of current police efforts, even though it was reported that two gunmen entered the paper's offices. The assailants tried to flee in the car in which they arrived, fought with police authorities, switched to a different and stole car.

* according again to Ragon, the artists Luz and Catherine Meurisse were late to the meeting and missed the attack.

* unless a counter-narrative develops, the actions and vocalizations of the attackers leads directly to the conclusion that the attack involves the satirical publication's use of Muhammed-related material, a part of the lengthy cycle of responses to the Danish Cartoons Controversy.

* the closest thing to a counter-narrative is that the response might be to a recent issue rather than the history commentary -- it's described here.

* a march in response to the murders is being planned for Paris tonight.

* attendance at nighttime marches in Paris and other cities was significant.

* social media posting indicated one of the police officers killed was Ahmed Merabet.

* as of 8 PM ET, the best reports have one paris attack suspect being dead with two in custody. All three have been identified by the police.

*****

Biographical Profiles On-Line Of The Cartoonists Murdered

* Cabu
* Charb
* Tignous
* Georges Wolinski

*****

Selected News Stories From Today

* ActuaBD.com
* American Magazine Story About Pope Condeming Attack

* BBC News
* BoingBoing

* CNN.com Posting Including Bystander Video

* Gawker On Various Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

* L'Express Obituary For Georges Wolinski

* Mashable

* NBC News
* Newsweek Basic News Story Including Statements From World Leaders

* RT Basic News Story

* Slate's Basic News Story And Unpacking Of An Alternative Reason
* Slate's Analysis Piece From Bart Beaty On Cartooning's Importance To And Within France

* Talking Points Memo With President Obama's Full Statement
* Tele-Loisirs.fr Basic News Story Focusing On Cartoonists

* The Beat
* The Bookseller On France's Publishers Paying Tribute
* The Globe And Mail Photo Slideshow
* The Guardian Basic News Story
* The Guardian On What We Know
* The Independent Basic News Story
* The New Yorker Basic News Story And Initial Analysis

* Time Basic News Story
* Time Story On Police Response
* Time Story Focused On World Leader Responses

* USA Today

*****

Selected News Stories From The Past

* 2011 -- Le Monde On Publication Of Charia Hebdo
* 2012 -- New Yorker Profile Of Charlie Hebdo
* 2013 -- Jerome Taylor's Editorial In The Independent

*****

Miscellaneous Resources

* Charlie Hebdo Site
* PDF With Various-Language Solidarity JPEGs, as Above

*****

Tweets And Other Social Media Declarations of Potential Interest

* #CharlieHebdo

* AAEC Statement Of Condemnation
* Arifur Rahman

* Banksy

* Ian Bremmer's Photo Of The Streets Of Paris

* Joe Randazzo

* Nick Abadzis' Cartoon

* Obion Cartoon

* Peter Birkmoe On Facebook
* Peter van Heirseele
* Photo From Paris Shared On Facebook By Derf

* RING's Tribute
* RL Oppenheimer Cartoon
* Ruben Bolling

* Salman Rushdie
* Sarah McIntyre
* Signe Wilkinson Cartoon
* storify summary of tweets from reported.ly as story developed

* Thomas Ragon on Cabu
* Tom Richmond

* Xavier Frison Posts Call To March Tonight In Paris

* Zaid Julani
* Zunar

*****
*****
 
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Stephane Charbonnier, "Charb," RIP

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Jean Cabut, "Cabu," RIP

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Bernard Verlhac, "Tignous," RIP

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Georges Wolinski, RIP

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Go, Look: William Hearst 79th Birthday Cards

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

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

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Not Comics: The Age Of Innocence

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of stuff at the end of the Original Sin hardcover. Christian Hoffer on books he pulled from his local library, which seems an eminently sensible way to do a reviews column.

* I think it's interesting that Black Panther is the character that got the 1990s Batman treatment over at Marvel.

* new Francesco Francavilla site.

* Jim Rugg draws Jay Z in ballpoint pen.

* Hillary Brown talks to Dylan Horrocks. The best part of that is Horrocks rifling through a dozen or so quality pornographic comics -- an interesting list. Alex Dueben talks to Sam Glanzman.

* finally, a profile of the thriving San Francisco direct market retailer scene.
 
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January 6, 2015


Twenty-Six Authors On Angouleme Grand Prix Preliminary List: Six Americans, One Woman

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According to the French-language comics news sources like the one generating this report, 26 authors were named to a preliminary list which will then be voted on at the Angouleme Festival for their Grand Prix, which last year went to Bill Watterson. The Angouleme Grand Prix is perhaps the greatest honor given to a cartoonist.

The list was:

* Christian Binet
* Christophe Blain
* Charles Burns
* Pierre Christin
* Daniel Clowes
* Richard Corben
* Cosey
* Nicolas de Crécy
* Étienne Davodeau
* Edika
* Emmanuel Guibert
* Hermann
* Alejandro Jodorowsky
* Stan Lee
* Milo Manara
* Taiyo Matsumoto
* Lorenzo Mattotti
* Alan Moore
* Katsuhiro Otomo
* Quino
* Marjane Satrapi
* Joann Sfar
* Bill Sienkiewicz
* Jiro Taniguchi
* Jean Van Hamme
* Chris Ware

From what I've reading, nearly every site is picking up on the fact that seven comics-makers best known for making English-language comics have made the list: Alan Moore, Chris Ware, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stan Lee, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes and Richard Corben. This is interesting because of the relative dearth of English-language comics-makers on the grand prix list over the year relative to the French-language comics-makers, and that there's been some desire expressed by those changing the voting over the last few years that English-language winners may be valuable for the interest in English-speaking visitors to the festival.

A few sites have picked up that the preliminary list includes one female candidate, Marjane Satrapi. I can't tell if this site e-mailed to me is in reaction to the preliminary list because Satrapi appears on both (as does Alan Moore...?), but the idea that there aren't at least four to six to more female candidates strikes me as almost willfully clueless. I remember thinking Simmonds in particular would be a fine winner and make for a potentially great UK-spotlighting show.

Anyone I know with an interest in the grand prix winner either has a very surface interest or a deep interest combined with a general throwing up of the hands, so I can't judge the mood. My hunch is that the new way of doing it is going to generate results like these, but the old way with its mix of a jury -- some members were largely clueless and not curious about comics; others were direct peers and close friends of people being voted on -- had deep problems, too.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the only grand prix winner in the past was Claire Bretecher, who won one of the anniversary awards instead of one of the annual awards, so take that how you want.

Update: My apologies to Florence Cestac! A fine, fun heavyweight of a cartoonist. Sheesh, 2015 is off to a great start. Bart Beaty also points out that if Joann Sfar can be listed after winning one of the anniversary honors, then Claire Bretecher should have eligible for listing. If Claire Bretecher is eligible to be listed, she should be list. Hell, she should win the damn thing, no vote necessary.

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Go, Look: Allie Rotenberg

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Not Comics: Brett Warnock Introduces Us To His Food & Nature Effort Acorn Feather Nosh

Former co-publisher at Top Shelf Brett Warnock sent along a small note with information on where to follow his next professional endeavor. Hopefully you'll follow him.
"I am indeed actively blogging, and I'd love to spread the word, with the caveat that i just launched it, so there’s not a ton of content backlogged yet. Also, if you do announce this, please note that it is indeed food & nature related. I'll keep my personal twitter and tumbler pages, where i can talk comics, movies, basketball or whatever."

* Acorn Feather Nosh (Tumblr)
* Related Twitter
* Related Instagram
Good luck, Brett!
 
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CR Holiday Interview Series #3 -- Gil Roth

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*****

I met Gil Roth in the mid-1990s though the Comics Journal message board. He was one of the few people I'd ever met that understood my jokes comparing superhero excess to professional basketball. A New Jersey-based writer and editor, Roth briefly wrote for us at The Comics Journal, and was for a time a prose publisher with a company he put together called Voyant Books. His comics-related interests these days gets filtered through a podcast, Virtual Memories. VM is one of only a handful of audio efforts for which I'm a routine, regular customer. Although perhaps best described as a prose literary podcast, Gil interviews a number of cartoonists and comics-related folks. This year that included Seth, Nina Bunjevac, Mimi Pond, Kaz, Mary Fleener, Caitlin McGurk and Drew Friedman.

Gil's interviews are impeccably recorded and edited, doubly impressive for someone for whom this is a hobby. The individual podcasts set a high bar, and they're a nice, steady showcase for a lot of different comics talent in part because of their specific focus. You listen to a bunch in a row, certain themes start to develop and you can compare and contrast the subjects' approach to different kinds of questions. Gil Roth is also by far the best-dressed comics industry journalist -- say what you want about that, but comics is an industry where someone that takes those elements of personal presentation seriously stands out.

Despite all that work with Virtual Memories, Gil is one of my few comics-interested friends whose primary relationship to the medium is that of a reader of its best works, which I find immensely helpful when seeking out a view that's not a comics-insider one. He's a close friend, and I became interested enough in what he does with the podcast to want to spotlight that work and his opinions on some of his interview subjects. I was super-happy he agreed to speak to me. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Gil, I don't know that I know exactly how you started reading or how that developed by the time I met you, in the mid 1990s. Are there certain titles, certain series for which you were particularly enthused? Are there touchstone comics for you? What kept you reading during that relatively fallow period when I met you, when a lot of people weren't reading comics at all between periods where there seemed to be more intense interest?

GIL ROTH: Oh, God, I was a Marvel zombie in my childhood. We used to go to flea markets and HAM radio markets (HAMfests) and buy coverless comics in bulk. Lots of random Marvel stuff from the '60s and '70s. When I was like seven years old, I glommed onto the Claremont-Byrne X-Men, and that's where I learned to write overlong narration and exposition. I also dug the Avengers, FF, Spider-Man and the like, but I was totally into that run of the X-Men, even though it ended when I was around 10 or 11. Frank Miller's Daredevil was my next bridge until the Dark Knight/Watchmen era.

I bought my first indy comic in 1984. It was an issue of Don Simpson's Megaton Man. [Spurgeon laughs] No, seriously.

I didn't discover the good stuff until I got to college in '89. That's when a long-haired rocker-dude from Texas on my dorm floor showed me an issue of Love & Rockets, and that pretty much moved me off of superheroes and into the world of the Bros, Pete Bagge, Dan Clowes, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, the Toronto-area guys, and the rest of that cohort of great cartoonists.

SPURGEON: Is there a way that comics appeal to you that breaks with how you enjoy literature or film?

ROTH: I suppose there's a subset of comics -- and that's best characterized by the work of Chris Ware -- that offers formal pleasures that aren't achievable in prose or movies. I certainly groove on that aspect of comics, the composition, the spatial and temporal play, but that's not the only sort of comic I dig. I do think there's more room for experimentation in storytelling in comics than in prose. Or at least, I think there's more going on in comics than there is in contemporary fiction, but that's because I resent people younger than me having the gumption to actually write novels.

I'm all over the place when it comes to movies. I think one of their big drawbacks nowadays is that you can do something else while watching them. You can't break out your laptop or tablet and goof around while you're reading a book or comic. I mean, you can, but the book or comic doesn't keep going on while your attention shifts.

SPURGEON: You wrote a little bit about comics back in the '90s for The Comics Journal. In fact, people thought you were a not-exactly-clever pseudonym for Gary. Given that your interest in comics has continued, do you know why you haven't written more about the form?

ROTH: Oh, because I'm a terrible critic! I never worked to develop the critical apparatus and I don't have the conviction to stand by my opinions. I also spent all those years busting my ass at my day job, to the point at which I missed a deadline or two for TCJ, as I recall. Sorry!

SPURGEON: It's okay. [laughs]

ROTH: It's funny, but as so many voices have proliferated online, I find it less and less necessary to put my voice out there. I look back at years of blog-posts and wonder who I was that I thought this stuff needed to be (self-)published. I mean, I don't regret blogging my way through all of Montaigne's essays, but I don't think I'd feel the same if I'd spent that time blog-critiquing Cerebus.

I think Gary loved my short pieces because I ripped the hell out of cartoonists he didn't have time to rip the hell out of.

imageSPURGEON: You were at one time a small press prose publisher; you've published Samuel Delany, among others. Does that give you any insight, do you think, in how the comics business works, how industry in general works on behalf of artists? What do you remember of that whole experience that still might come up now?

ROTH: Not necessarily for comics, but certainly publishing overall. Back then, like 1998 to 2004, it was a ton of work to get a book produced, but I could still do it pretty much single-handedly. I mean, everything in the middle: not the writing or the actual printing and binding. The thing I couldn't do as a publisher was get people to notice these books and get bookstores to carry them.

That, I think, was the key lesson: the importance of marketing. It's gotten easier and easier to produce this stuff -- books, comics, movies, even a radio show, which is all the podcast is -- but it's gotten easier for everyone, and that makes it even harder for individual work to be found. So as a publisher -- whether of books around the turn of the century or the Virtual Memories Show now -- I think the toughest thing is promoting.

SPURGEON: So why the podcast? Why did that specific expression appeal to you and how did that develop into Virtual Memories?

ROTH: 20+ years ago, I wanted to start a 'zine, but I never got off my ass to do it. It was gonna be called "Glass," and the idea was to be a general interest 'zine, if those general interests were all mine. I learned years later that if the world reflected MY tastes, we'd be living on a square planet, wearing Superman costumes, and flying backwards.

All these years later, I was grooving on Marc Maron's great interview podcast, WTF, and I thought, "I like that model!" That is, I liked the idea of interviewing writers, artists, critics, and otherwise interesting people. Living and working in northern NJ meant that I could get into NYC to meet guests, and may day job involved enough travel that I could try to tie in interviews on some of my trips.

Unlike Maron, who's a born stage performer, I don't do 10- to 15-minute intros. My life doesn't have as much drama as his does, so there's less for me to ramble about. Only so many ways I can tell stories about seeing a bear while walking my dogs around the neighborhood.

Anyway, in the past, my blog served as the vessel for "All Things Gil," but I got a bit tired of writing long pieces in the social networking era. So I thought it would be interesting to record conversations instead and make a podcast out of it. I could've done those interviews as text, but transcribing is tedious, and I was already doing that at my day job, where I was the micromanaging editor of a business-to-business magazine.

SPURGEON: At what point did you know comics would be a part of what you do with VM? For that matter, how would you describe your basic approach? Is it "these are the things I'm interested in"?

ROTH: Yeah, the show really is, "All Things Gil," which makes it remarkable that I've developed any listenership at all, I guess.

The idea was always, "I'll interview people whose work I dig or friends of mine who have had interesting lives." This past year, I had the experience of prose publishers pitching me writers who had new books coming out. Those were hit and miss. I enjoyed some of the books and the conversations, but some just weren't good fits. That's led me to be a little more selective.

As far as comics, that's a chunk of "All Things Gil." I had some cartoonists on my initial guest list, and I discovered that they were more interested in doing interviews than some prose writers I was interested in.

imageSPURGEON: How does the inclusion of cartoonists and comics people work for the podcast, do you think? How do those interviews in general mesh with the ones you do with prose authors and scholars? Do you ever get people that tell you, "I only listen to this set of people you do" or are people pretty willing kind of take the interviews as they come?

ROTH: If you go by download numbers, the cartoonists are more popular than the prose writers and other guests I've had on. Except for Eva Brann, a tutor at St. John's College in Annapolis, MD. She's around 85, has been at St. John's for more than half a century, and has more podcast downloads than any other guest I've ever had. Which is pretty good, considering she doesn't own a computer and I had to send her a CD of our episode so she could listen to it.

Anyway, as comics have been accepted more broadly in the culture, it doesn't matter so much that the show includes cartoonists alongside history professors, poets, antisemitism scholars, retired Marines, literary agents, faded rock stars, David Letterman's ex-girlfriend, and everydamnbody else I've interviewed.

I added up the numbers, and maybe one-third of this year's guests were in comics, but they've made for some pretty memorable shows. I'm sure there are people who only download specific shows, for subjects or people they're interested in, but I hold out hope that if the conversation is good, they'll come back and listen to more. And there's been some of that. Listeners have e-mailed or tweeted about discovering someone they've never heard of via the show. That always makes me happy.

SPURGEON: You're all in with this podcast, as much as you're able to, it seems, in the course of your life. You've invested in equipment, you present yourself professionally at shows, and you edit pretty rigorously. I do think that makes you stand out in the course of a lot of podcasts I hear. Is that just how you orient yourself to projects, or was it important to you to approach doing VM a certain way? Do comics people always take similar care with what they do?

ROTH: I didn't want to make a show that sounded like crap, although I admit the early ones could do with some remastering. Actually, that need to sound professional is what kept me from starting the podcast for quite a while. "If I can't make it sound perfect, I'm not going to do it." By the way, this is also a great way not to get started on other artistic projects, like books and comics.

I got over the anxiety of not sounding perfect, but I still wanted to improve. I did research online of course, but once I got things underway, I started asking around about good (but affordable) equipment. I even hit up Marc Maron for suggestions on portable equipment, since I knew he did some interviews in guests' hotel rooms or offices, and not just in his garage. He was kind enough to drop me a little note about mics and a recorder that turned out to be very valuable.

imageNear the end of 2012, I took a one-on-one class at Tekserve in New York City, which really helped me develop a good workflow for the audio files. I've upgraded my equipment a little, learned a little more about noise removal filters, but it's still a package that you can put together for $500 or so and sound really really good. The two programs I use to process, edit and output audio -- Audacity and Garage Band -- are free. I've considered moving up to Logic Pro for the editing and output, mainly because it's got a function that should save me a chunk of time when I'm editing, but the point is, you can do this relatively inexpensively.

When it comes to spending a bit ($120 each) on mics, I guess my thought is: there are a lot of reasons for someone to stop listening to my podcast, and I don't want crappy production values to be one of those reasons. I imagine that this is a lesson cartoonists and other creators have taken to heart. There are too many other things for an audience to do, consume, read, watch, etc., so you'd better approach the work with professionalism, y'know?

The irony is that, as professional as I try to make it, the Virtual Memories Show is something I do for free. I have a tip-jar on the website, but it's not like I'm planning to sell ads or start charging for "premium content" or something. I still have a day job at which I bust my ass, but it pays well enough that I can afford the equipment, the web-hosting, the drives into New York City and elsewhere to meet guests, etc. It really does warm my heart when someone makes a donation, and I do have problems with the culture of providing work for free, but the Virtual Memories Show is something I do out of love.

That sounds terrible. Don't get me wrong: commercial sponsorship would be nice, but it would a) possibly push the show in directions I don't want it to go, in terms of guests, and b) not really amount to that much money.

SPURGEON: Comics people tend to do a lot of interviews. I would say if you picked one of your newer authors and one of your newer cartoonists that you've done, the cartoonist has probably talked to a lot more media sources, such as this site -- and such as they are -- than the writer or scholar. Is that your impression as well? Does that change how you approach those interviews -- say, like, knocking someone off of their rote answers? How are cartoonists in general as interview subjects compared to other groups you do?

ROTH: Cartoonists -- especially younger ones -- do tend to have more experience with interviews than literary authors, probably because of the nature of fan culture. I do like to read or listen to interviews with upcoming guests for research, and I try to avoid questions that they have those rote answers for, but that's universal.

When I interviewed Fred Kaplan about his book on David Petraeus, I'd listened to a few of his interviews about it, and when he used some of the same constructions and anecdotes he used in those earlier talks, I thought, "It's not fair of me to expect this guy to come up with completely original material for our conversation." Rather, it was on me to ask him questions outside the range of what he'd talked about, but still relevant to his work. For one thing, I completely avoided the topic of Petraeus' affair, because I don't think there's much new or interesting about a powerful man having an affair with a female subordinate.

Where was I? I've had a lot of good conversations with cartoonists. Maybe it's luck of the draw, or maybe I've been sneakily selective, but they tend to be thoughtful about their work and cognizant of the history of the form and their place in it. Also, a lot of them fall into a certain generation or range: Sikoryak, Katchor, Bagge, Drew Friedman, Kaz, Mimi Pond, Mary Fleener, Porcellino. They're all in that '80s-into-'90s stretch, largely NYC-based. Overall, my guests tend not to be that young, y'know? I'm pretty sure the youngest guest I've had was Caitlin McGurk, but she's a comics librarian and so has a strong sense of the history of the form.

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SPURGEON: You've done a range of cartoonists at this point. Do you get a difference between generations? Does Seth process his influences different than Katie Skelly in a generational way, do you think?

ROTH: It's funny, because I interviewed them in the same weekend at TCAF. I think Katie's the second youngest guest I've had on, but she also brought a strong non-comics background to her work and the conversation. In her case, it was literary theory, fused with a neat artistic sensibility. The contrast with someone like Seth, I think, is mainly vivid in terms of experience. He's had more time to read, to make comics, to live. If you call that living. (ha-ha)

I haven't interviewed enough younger cartoonists -- and this is a failing of mine -- to figure out how they differ from, say, Sam Gross, who's been drawing gag panels for like 60 years. I can't help it: I'm much more interested in learning about the life of a guy like Sam, who's reached zen master status with his work, than a younger artist who's still figuring stuff out.

Unless I like that younger artist's work, as was the case with Katie, as well as Nina Bunjevac, who's near my age, but only took up cartooning relatively recently. All things Gil, y'know?

Now a theme that's come up repeatedly in conversations with non-young cartoonists has been how they think their work would have evolved if they came up nowadays. There's a lot of ambivalence about -- to simplify -- the replacement of 'zines with Tumblrs. The culture of "Like" is really problematic to artists, it seems. Do you wind up chasing "Like"s to the point of hurting your progress as an artist? Taking to John Porcellino about that, he felt that it likely would have taken him on a much different path than he took by making King-Cat Comics & Stories, mailing out copies, and getting mail weeks or months later.

I admit: I care about getting good numbers of downloads, but that's more a function of my wanting more people to hear these guests and what they have to say. At least, that's what I tell myself.

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SPURGEON: You've interviewed all the Friedmans, or at least the male members of the clan. What was that experience like, negotiating in at least some way that family dynamic. Drew Friedman's actually been around more these last few years -- in comics circles -- than he had been before. Is he underappreciated, do you think?

ROTH: I called that series, "Capturing the Other Friedmans," because if you can't make a joke with child molestation overtones, you shouldn't be interviewing Drew Friedman.

That whole series of interviews -- Drew, then younger brother Kipp, then older brother Josh Alan, then their father, Bruce Jay Friedman -- was fascinating. Beyond the conversation about their work, the family dynamics kept growing more intricate as I interviewed each one. I wanted to go back and reinterview them in light of all the little revelations and hints. It's almost like some sorta Jewish Gothic, except with stories about Gilbert Gottfried.

It was gratifying that all three brothers made the time to talk, and that each got me closer to their dad, who I consider one of the great postwar writers in America. More than that, they've each treated me much more nicely than I have any reason to expect from people I've only met in relation to the podcast. At SPX last September, Drew told me this is because I look like a cousin of theirs from Fair Lawn, NJ, so they've taken a shine to me. Go figure.

Anyway, it's fantastic that Drew's work has gotten such acclaim. I remember that when I told one cartoonist that I'd be interviewing Drew, he said, "One thing I want to know: How he is so goddamned prolific? He makes painting after painting and never slows down!"

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SPURGEON: You went to his Society of Illustrators gallery opening, which was one of two or three comics-related events this year. Can you talk about that a bit? I take it you had a really good time.

ROTH: That was one of the most entertaining experiences of my life. First, to get back to my previous comment, it's where I figured out how Drew is so goddamned prolific with those paintings. They're small! Maybe 5" x 5" or so! They reproduce great in those Old Jewish Comedians books, but they're not that big. So that helps him do more work, I'm figuring.

That event celebrated the Old Jewish Comedians series, and had Drew's original paintings beside photos of the comedians, along with writeups about the subjects. There were two floors devoted to the exhibition. and there were also display cases with various bits of ephemera, like old records by these comics, joke books, and other gear.

For the opening event, a bunch of Drew Friedman-level celebrities were in attendance. I don't mean anything cruel by that, just that the headliner was Joe Franklin. It was the only party I've ever attended where the words, "Abe Vigoda is here!" blew the roof off the place.

My personal highlight, beyond meeting Abe -- who used to live in my town in NJ -- and shooting the breeze with Gilbert Gottfried, came when I met Robert Kline. The exhibition was on two floors, and when I saw Mr. Kline on the main floor looking at portraits, I said to him, "Sir, I noticed that your portrait is in the downstairs gallery, if you'd like me to show you."

He said, "Downstairs?! Call my fucking agent! What the hell am I doing downstairs?!"

I took him down and showed him his painting. He and I were the only two people in the downstairs gallery, and he basically took me on a tour. We went from picture to picture, and he told me stories of all these old comedians he'd seen when he was young. Plus, stories of Alan King's drinking. It was unforgettable, and literally priceless. I wrote him after to see about getting him on the show, but the sonofabitch never called back, that louse.

imageSPURGEON: I wanted to ask you a couple of consumer questions. I watched you buy a giant Walt Simonson book... how much does nostalgia play into your own reading of comics, do you think? Also, you own a bunch of Jaime Hernandez's ink drawings that he does. What for you is the value in enjoying Jaime's art?

ROTH: Oh, man, that IDW Simonson Thor book was one of those impulse purchases that I don't regret in the slightest. I bought IDW's Mazzucchelli Daredevil edition, too, for the same reason. I'm not sure if it's nostalgia, exactly. I have a funny relationship to superhero comics from my youth. I don't read that genre, and I have some sorta violent antipathy to the whole superhero movie craze. I think what I have is a nostalgia not for the content of those comics themselves, but for the stage in my life where I could be fulfilled by finding them. Y'know, that joy at finding the missing issue of the X-Men. I have zero interest in knowing what these characters are up to, but I guess I miss the hunt. A few years ago, my wife asked me about that Planetary series, which I'd bought with some interest. There was an issue missing from the series, and I hunted down that ish to a comic shop a few towns away. We drove out there on a Sunday afternoon to pick it up. I realized how much I missed that little thrill. Not enough to spend hundreds of bucks a month on superhero adventures, but hey.

The first time I met Mazzucchelli, at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, I started our conversation by mentioning my favorite story from his Rubber Blanket series, "Discovering America." Only after that did I cop to buying the IDW book of his Daredevil run, because that comic was awesome when I was a freshman in high school. He said, "I'm glad your tastes matured at the same time my art was maturing," or something like that.

As far as original art and drawings go, I like having work from artists I dig. I'll never splurge on original pages of Jaime's art (unless he recovers the stolen pages from Flies on the Ceiling), but his ink drawings are great to have on the walls. When I was at Mary Fleener's home in November, I was happy to see that she's got TONS of art on display. She used to work as a framer, and made it a project to get all of that stuff framed. And that's one of the great things for me about the podcast. I wasn't going to hang out in Mary Fleener's house and see all this art as a trade association executive.

SPURGEON: One of the places you do your podcast is at conventions: TCAF and SPX. The thought that you fly into TCAF is amazing to me. What have the comics shows meant to you -- we have an idea of what they mean to working pros, but just as someone interested in the art form, what is it about those two shows that works for you?

ROTH: Oh, TCAF is one of my favorite comics-related events. That said, I've got family in Toronto, as well as business contacts, and it's only a 70-minute flight from Newark, so it's not like it's too weird for me to go every year. I love meeting some of the cartoonists and discovering new comics, and now it gives me the opportunity to record shows with people who aren't in the NY area often, like Seth.

This past SPX in Maryland, I went out to dinner with you, Bill Kartalopoulos, Dominique Goblet, and Yvan Alagbe. At one point, Dominque asked me about my comics, and I said, "I don't make comics. I'm just here because I like comics. Oh, and I have a car." She was surprised. At the same time, I was kinda struck by the notion that everyone at a comics event would be a practitioner.

imageSPURGEON: It seems like you've talked to a bunch of people that have tricky or complicated relationships to the art they do, people with varying levels of involvement, even, in comics. Do you have a sense of how that great alt-comics generation is doing, entering into their late 40s through their 60s? Could that industry, that culture, be kinder or work more effectively for artists like Ivan Brunetti and Peter Bagge and Mary Fleener. Is there a contrast between how cartoonists are oriented towards a lifetime of work that contrasts with the prose writers you know?

ROTH: In both comics and prose, I think virtually no one makes a living just from their art. It was probably easier for those cartoonists in the '80s and '90s because the market was better and because they could live cheaper when they were younger, but I haven't asked too many of them about the Glory Days.

When I interviewed Kaz recently, I asked him if there was a cartoonist who left the field who he really missed. Without skipping a beat, he said, "Mark Beyer." And I bet there are a ton of other ones who left or can't work on comics full-time. I oughtta go through my longboxes of comics from that era and see who's still around.

Mary Fleener and I talked about why she hasn't made so many comics for a while, and the economics of work are important. But then, I've talked with a lot of prose writers and journalists in their 50s and 60s who are desperately chasing university jobs and freelance gigs that pay a lot worse than they did 20 years ago. So, yeah, the industry could be more supportive of cartooning legends as they get older, but I just don't think there are a lot of opportunities for an adult with a family and a mortgage to get by just making comics.

Again: square planet, Superman costumes, flying backwards, and Bagge, Richard Sala, Kevin Huizenga, Evan Dorkin and my other faves would all be doing well enough to live comfortably off of comics they really want to make. And I'd have more listeners than Serial.

imageSPURGEON: How did Jules Feiffer surprise you, if at all? I know that was a big get for you, personally. Does he receive the attention he deserves?

ROTH: I think my biggest surprise was when an 85-year-old cartoonist told me that he's working on a sequel and prequel to his 150-page graphic novel. He was also pretty disarming, making it easy to not put him on a pedestal for the conversation.

I don't think he does get the attention he deserves. The download numbers for his episode were middle of the road, for what that's worth. I consider the guy a legend, and he's certainly the biggest name I've ever interviewed. First Oscar-winner, too. It may just be a demographic thing. "Those goddamned kids today don't know what they're missing!" I do know that at SPX in 2014, where I met Feiffer, there were cartoonists whom I'm in awe of who were basically bowing in obeisance before him. He worked for Will Eisner, ferchrissakes!

I'd love to see a resurgence or re-appreciation of Feiffer's work. I really enjoyed his memoir, Backing Into Forward, which I read in preparation for our conversation. There's a lot in there for artists -- and I mean cartoonists, writers, creators of any stripe -- to learn, as well as some absolutely hysterical scenes of his youth and his Army days, and some great gossip from his Hollywood experiences.

SPURGEON: What was it like to come to John Porcellino's mostly cold until you started to prepare for the interview? I think I can narc on you that way without any blowback. But you found him accessible even with Hospital Suite being a first work. What was your impression of his work?

ROTH: It was a real revelation to discover John's work. I felt bad for missing King-Cat all these decades, but I'm a pro at making excuses. I did read Hospital Suite first, before the earlier collections arrived in the mail, so that was a little weird.

The upside is, the stories in Hospital Suite are accessible and deeply engaging whether or not you know John's history as portrayed in his comics. If anything, it was neat to go back and read those giant collections and see the areas where the trials of the Hospital Suite era were taking place, those big gaps in what he could tell stories about. So I got to eat the donut hole before the donut, is what I'm trying to say.

imageSPURGEON: Is there a particular cartoonist interview you'd recommend that might surprise people; one that you've done? For that matter, is there anyone else's interview with a cartoonist you admire?

ROTH: Oh, I love the Roger Langridge one from SPX 2013, because he's just the sweetest guy in comics. I think one of the most surprising ones is the Wayne White one from last month, where he talked about how much he wants to go back to making comics. Given that he's become a famous fine artist and the subject of a great documentary, I was surprised to find how much he wanted to go back to funnybooks.

As far as other interviews go, I'm embarrassed to say that I don't spend a lot of time listening to many podcasts nowadays.

SPURGEON: What's the last great comic you read?

ROTH: Fiction -- Here, by Richard McGuire. Non-fiction -- Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast. Who was an awesome guest, especially when she collapsed into hysterics trying to explain how she spends time on the internet looking at terrible pictures of Tofurky.

*****

* Virtual Memories

*****

* Gil Roth with Ben Katchor during their live interview a couple of years back (photo by Amy Beadle Roth)
* Dark Phoenix, Byrne And Austin
* Voyant's 1984 a book with Samuel Delany
* the scholar Eva Brann, and aspirational object for number of downloads
* this photo of Roth with Wayne White gives you a good look at his travel kit
* Seth
* Roth with Drew Friedman
* Roth with Abe Vigoda
* Thor
* Mark Beyer
* Jules Feiffer, Gil's photo
* Roger Langridge, my photo
* masthead for the Virtual Memories page (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Great Milton Caniff Air Raid Poster

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Top Shelf's Brett Warnock Retiring From Comics To Pursue Other Business Opportunities

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Brett Warnock, the longtime co-publisher at Top Shelf and a much-liked personality within the field, has announced via today's news that Top Shelf has been acquired by IDW that he will retire to pursue other interests. They've mentioned food and nature related blogging -- I'm not sure if this site is what they mean, but I'll happily drive attention to whatever it is when I get better information.

As I recall my Top Shelf history, Warnock used the Top Shelf name first in 1995 for the anthology, which he self-published from Portland after a personal financial windfall. He partnered up with an increasingly comics-focused Chris Staros after hashing out an arrangement at one of the late 1990s Small Press Expos. I believe the company traces its formal history to 1997. It seemed like a good partnership in terms of skill set, reach, shared ambition and personalities.

Warnock was believed to have worked mostly on the production and design end of things while Chris Staros was focused on editorial and marketing; like many small companies, I imagine these lines were blurred constantly. They were both a presence at shows, particularly in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Friendly and engaging and laid back, Warnock was always one of the most popular people in my peer group -- a not insiginficant element of Top Shelf's ability to recruit talent.

My impression is that he appeared at fewer shows as the company moved into the 2010s; the last show I can remember the both of us attending is the final Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, where he hosted a pre-con reception for a wide swathe of comics professionals from town and out of town in his home.

I wish him the best of luck and most bountiful outcomes with all future endeavors.
 
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IDW Publishing Acquires Top Shelf Productions

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Here's the PR.

First reaction. It makes sense to me, and is only surprising in that comics companies tend not to make deals that make this kind of basic sense. Comics publishing history tells us when an established company wants to start publishing comics of a certain kind, or make more of a commitment to doing so, the gig tends to go to some person in the office or one of the floating editors that flit from company to company and everything starts from scratch. As someone who think comics overpublishes a bit, this isn't an ideal situation for the field entire. I remember when I first started working at Fantagraphics I assumed they fielded deals every now and then from bigger publishing companies and was told that had never been the case. Just because something isn't done a whole lot in comics doesn't mean it doesn't happen ever, or more importantly that it shouldn't happen now and then. It's a deal that makes sense, I think.

Second reaction: This puts into context some of the recent moves that Top Shelf has made, its transformation into a smaller, limited-release boutique publisher as opposed to an old-fashioned put-out-a-lot-of-comics underground/1st generation alternative publisher. That would make them more attractive to a partnership, I think, than the old set-up. I don't know that it was intentional, as that also makes sense for the next stage of an independent publisher, but I bet it makes the transition easier.

Third reaction: Re-looking at the PR to see if they announce explicit plans to change that approach at Top Shelf... okay, it really doesn't. It looks like the new initiatives will adhere to that limited-book model more than an open the floodgates model, surely.

Fourth reaction: Top Shelf could probably use some cash for some things, particularly in the marketing end. Or at least access to cash flow.

Fifth reaction: The way that IDW is said to manage its existing divisions, with veteran management working under Ted Adams, management from whom much is expected but who are basically left alone to do what they do, would seem to make them an ideal partner for this kind of whole-company acquisition.

I'm forced by time commitments to play catch on this one initially -- there's not an interview I can do today, for example, even were it offered. The curse of the part-time gig. (I'm working on it; someone please acquire me.) I'll cover the crap out of it anyway, unless it's all hot air, and even in that case I'll point that out.

I hope someone asks about the potential merging of digital strategies -- I remember those being somewhat different, but maybe different in a way Top Shelf can inform some of what IDW does -- and the same about media adapatations strategies and existing deals, which are also quite different, I think.
 
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Go, Look: Pierre Ferrero's Recurring Dream

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Here's Something Potentially Nice For Comics: Please Consider Writing Six Fan Letters This Year

imageIf 2014 was the slog for you that it anecdotally seemed to be for so many comics readers and comics-makers, one thing I always suggest and will do so again right now is that you take some time during the year, maybe two hours total, to write six old-fashioned fan letters. Write down a half-dozen comics professionals, fellow fans you encounter, maybe a local retailer, put your list in a memo or printed out and taped to a wall somewhere, and when the mood hits you dash off a physical letter or e-mail telling that person how much you've enjoyed their work and/or personal example. If you can't find an address or e-mail account, send it to them in care of one of their publishing partners.

Do it without the expecation of a response. Don't do it for publication. Find the place in your heart that's grateful for something that comes from comics, and then write a letter to someone responsible from that place.

One might argue that as a culture we already trade in too many superlatives, but I can't imagine anyone getting an unexpected letter of praise or complimentary e-mail that's specific and focused and engaged with that specific task of reaching out for whom this wouldn't be a positive. With the youngest of the early '80s generation now leaping into their late fifties, time is somewhat of the essence, too. It's fun to put into words the gratitude one feels for an artist of that distracted, that entertained, that informed, that helped.

Good luck if you decide to do this!
 
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Go, Look: Wil Freeborn

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Here's All 50 Of This Year's Comics Positive Posts Links

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At the beginning of the year I spend a few days doing brief posts on stories I think were positive ones for comics in 2014. It helps me not enter the year full of despair. I spread them out over a few days because I was unable to get them all up on January 1, so I thought a summary post might be useful. It looks like I may have done 51 by accident, which totally makes sense for a year like 2014.

* Alison Bechdel, Genius
* Anders Nilsen Vs. Amazon
* Anecdotal Evidence Suggests Fortunate ACA Insurance Outcomes
* Banned Books Week Has A Comics Focus
* Bart Beaty Throws Gauntlet As Keynote Speaker At ICAF

* Bill Watterson Won The Grand Prix At Angouleme
* Billy Ireland Exhibits Featuring Bill Watterson And Richard Thompson Draw Worshipful Crowds
* Bone Celebrates Ten Years At Scholastic
* Broadening The Influence Base
* Chicago Icon Tony Fitzpatrick Announces Move To New Orleans

* Don Rosa Gets A Hardcover Collection Series
* Great TCAF Keynote Features Lynn Johnston, Kate Beaton, Raina Telgemeier
* Issues Of Diversity, Harassment, Opportunity Gain Crucial Momentum
* Joe Sacco Returns To Satire
* Jonah Weiland Re-Boots His Forums

* Jules Feiffer Says He'll Make Long-Form Comics Until He Can't Work Anymore
* Julia Wertz Started Doing Comics Again
* Julie Doucet Attended CAB 2014
* King-Cat Turned 25 Years Old
* Last Gasp Sought And Received Public Funding For Its Next Season

* Lisa Hanawalt Won A James Beard Foundation Award
* Liza Donnelly Is The First Cartoonist To Be A Finalist For Thurber Prize
* Los Bros Win Eisners
* Many Cons Continue To Grow At A Staggering Rate
* Marvel Has A Book Reprint Series My Friends Seem To Like

* Mineshaft Hits 30 Issues And 15 Years
* MoCCA Announces Move From Armory
* Ms. Marvel As Bonafide Hit
* Musa Kart Won His Court Case... Against Recep Erdogan
* New Comics Scholarship Organization Formed At ICAF

* New Zealand Society Of Authors Extends Mentoring Program To Include Comics-Makers
* Patreon Began To Yield Comics Success Stories
* Pete Sickman-Garner Came Back
* Raina Telgemeier Is Generating Astonishing, Career-Defining Sales Numbers
* Reprint Programs Still Able To Find Hidden Treasures

* Richard Thompson Had Two Giant Books Out
* Roz Chast Was A National Book Award Finalist In Non-Fiction
* Simon Hanselmann Got Married... Twice
* Stephan Pastis Got To Duet With Bill Watterson
* Support For Seth Kushner

* Team March Receives Special Recognition Award For March, Volume One
* The Inkstuds Rob Liefeld Episode
* The Kirby Family Settlement
* The Struggle To Appreciate Bhob Stewart
* The Way Newsday Welcomed Matt Davies

* There Was A 500-Foot Long Joe Sacco Cartoon In A Paris Subway
* Two Admirable CNRI Editorial Cartooning Courage Award Winners
* We Have A Small Arts-/Alt- Comics Show In Los Angeles Now
* What A Great Art Spiegelman Photo
* Zunar Won In Court On The 2010 Book Seizure And Detainment

* Zunzi Was At The Heart Of Occupy Central

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Bring Me A Juice-Box, Biotch

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Go, Look: Twilight Zone #14

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Lewis Trondheim in Les Petits Riens on turning 50. It's number 844.

image* Andrea Fiamma talks to Jeff Smith. Michael C. Lorah talks to Julia Wertz.

* an Alex Schubert top five.

* this is your every few days' reminder that it might be possible for you to draw comics on a boat as it does its business on the high seas.

* they're apparently doing a month of Phil Noto variant covers at Marvel. It's so difficult to use variants in a non-exploitative way, one that doesn't drag on the overall market, but one thing Marvel's done the last five years is focus on variants you can imagine people wanting to have for the sake for the art depicted, if that makes any sense.

* I will never get tired of looking at pictures of Dave Lasky teaching middle-aged Russians how to make comics.

* I don't know what's going on with DC Comics and their serial comics, but it doesn't seem healthy.

* finally, someone on a random Facebook commentary thread reminded me they reposted the "American Icons" on MAD. I can't find the repost, but here's that original.
 
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January 5, 2015


CR Holiday Interview Series #2 -- Paul Constant

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*****

A significant number of the people that make comics can live anywhere they want. And so they do. There are comics-makers in dozens of North American cities and clusters of them in some of the best arts communities in the United States. One of the most important destination points for alt-comics people was Seattle. In the 1990s there were enough holdovers and people newly arrived to generate feature articles. There was a fracture and a decline and a diaspora. And now there's a comeback.

Paul Constant is the Books Editor at The Stranger. That Seattle alt-weekly has comics in its DNA going back to its founding, and is both a chronicler and participant in the medium's history there. Constant writes very well about comics. He write very well generally. I wanted to get him in the series to talk about Seattle things. This includes developments at Fantagraphics as well as with people that weren't born when that company relocated from Los Angeles. He said yes, or I wouldn't have had to write this introduction. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Knowing very little about you, I want to ask the standard question as it pertains to comics: do you have a history with them? What has your comics reading been like and what works over the years have been important to you, for whatever reason?

PAUL CONSTANT: I do have a long history with comics. I taught myself how to read at a very early age using my brother's Superman comics and paperback Charlie Brown collections. I then became a voracious reader of both comics and prose. I read strictly mainstream superhero comics up until my early teens, when I started reading The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes, which turned me on to Fantagraphics and Dark Horse and all the rest. Unlike a lot of teenagers, I never had a point where I gave up on comics. In my adult life, I've always read both mainstream and alternative comics, from Kevin Huizenga to Brian Michael Bendis. (That's pretty similar to my prose reading, too. I read bestsellers and small-batch poetry titles, and everything in between.) I still buy monthly issues from my local comic shop, and I review comics for The Stranger, the alternative weekly where I work.

I wrote comics with high school friends for about ten years, but our group gradually fell apart. We made mini-comics, had a comic published in the Chicago Reader, and performed with a Seattle-area comics slide show troupe called Slide Rule. I still occasionally have an itch to write comics, but without an artist, it feels like a pointless endeavor.

When I moved to Seattle, I got a job at the Elliott Bay Book Company, the biggest independent bookstore in town, and in 2000, I had the idea to start a graphic novel section in the store. Before then, all the comics had been stashed in this ratty-looking bin to the side of the science fiction section. Coincidentally, the next year was the big comics-are-serious-literature boom when every alternative comics publisher broke into the bookstore trade, and so I wound up looking pretty smart when Elliott Bay's comics section more than earned its keep within six months of its creation.

imageAs for comics that have been important to me: all the usual ones. Understanding Comics was a big deal. Chris Ware's comics. Steve Gerber and Gene Colan's Howard the Duck. The Scott Pilgrim series. Those gigantic Locas and Palomar collections Fantagraphics put out years ago. I've always considered both Roberta Gregory and Mary Fleener to be criminally underrated. Fleener, I think, made some of the most visually inventive comics of the 20th century, and Gregory's Naughty Bits was a revelation as far as the level of intimacy and interiority a comic can achieve. As for contemporary serial comics, I'm reading and loving Saga, Sex Criminals, Ms. Marvel, and Multiversity. It was super-exciting to see Stray Bullets and Minimum Wage back on the stands in 2014; those were important books for me as a young man. And I was really glad to see Julia Wertz's Fart Party strip get a new collection, Museum of Mistakes, this year.

SPURGEON: You ended up in Seattle right about when I left. How did you make that move? How was it different back then, when you first showed up? What was the cleanest break with Maine?

CONSTANT: Maine is a great state to be from, but I always knew I would leave as soon as I could. For one thing, I hate driving. For another thing, I love cities. I actually moved from Maine to Boston first, because Boston is the easiest city to move to when you're from Maine and you want to get out as quickly as possible. I was working at Borders in Downtown Crossing and being a typical asshole in his early 20s. (The Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, by the way, is still the best comic shop I've ever been in.) I took a vacation to the Northwest for a week to visit a friend of mine who was going to school at Evergreen State College in Olympia, and she took me up to Seattle for a visit. It was really love at first sight. I went back to Boston, announced I was moving to Seattle, and then, six months later, I was living in Seattle, working at the most beautiful independent bookstore I had ever seen. That was in May of 2000.

Seattle has changed a tremendous amount in the 14 years since my move. We're now the fastest-growing city in America. The money is a lot bigger and the city is becoming more professional-minded. Obviously, Amazon's growth is having a tremendous impact on downtown. The rents are rising at an astronomical pace. It's getting much denser, and we finally have the very beginning of what may one day become a serviceable public transportation system. Talk to anyone in Seattle now and you'll get an earful of complaints about Seattle losing its soul. And the point when Seattle started losing its soul is always about a year after the person you're talking to moved to town.

But the qualities that made me fall in love with Seattle are still very much alive. We're still the most literate city in the United States. We're still the movie-watchingest city in the United States. We've still got these glorious, long gloomy winters that force you to stay indoors and develop a rich interior life. Nature is everywhere; I had no idea there were so many different shades of green in the universe until I moved here. And it's possible to have an effect on local politics in Seattle, which was not my impression of the east coast. There's very little corruption, which means that big projects take a long while to get off the ground, but there's also no enormous juggernaut of a political machine, so you can get involved and gain access to the people you want or need access to. In Maine and in Boston, I hated the sense that all the history worth experiencing had already happened. In Seattle, it very much feels like there's still time to make your mark on the history of the city, to help Seattle chart its course. I like that.

SPURGEON: How did you fall into the Stranger's orbit? Was a relationship with a publication like that one always part of the plan?



CONSTANT: As I said, I've always loved writing comics, but, weirdly, comics are the only kind of fiction that I like to write. I've never felt like I have a literary novel or a collection of short fiction deep inside me waiting to come out. My prose has always been non-fiction, either reviews or first-person essays or political writing. But I never knew what I could do with that kind of writing, so I just wrote it and published 'zines or essays in the back of my minicomics and did a few open mic nights and figured that was that.

imageBut then I saw that the book section at The Stranger was looking for an unpaid intern, and I thought that sounded interesting, and so I applied. I write very quickly and I generally write fairly clean copy that doesn't need a lot of edits, so I wound up writing a lot of reviews for the paper. They liked my writing, so they threw me an odd job now and then, which culminated in a column called "Party Crasher," where I'd visit a house party a week and then report on it for the paper. Eventually, the books editor, Christopher Frizzelle, became editor of the paper, and when he moved up, he hired me as books editor. That was 2008.

I love being books editor at The Stranger because I get to be a part of the literary conversation in the most literary city in the United States right now. It also means I get six to 24 books in the mail every day, which is amazing. And The Stranger has also allowed me to write about whatever I want and to follow my interests wherever they may lead, which is not something most newspapers will let you do. I now review a lot of movies for the paper, I review plays, I have a weekly column where I go somewhere and eat lunch and write about it. I still consider myself the books editor first and foremost, but I love that I get to look at the world through all these different lenses, and not just as the books guy.

And in 2012, they told me to write about the presidential election, which is something I've always wanted to do. It was an incredible experience; I went to Iowa for the caucuses, I went to all sorts of rallies, I attended the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. I've been obsessed with presidential politics my whole life, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is one of my touchstones, so this was huge for me. Not many news organizations would be willing to put a college dropout on Mitt Romney's trail as their sole presidential reporter, so I know exactly how lucky I am. And I am perversely looking forward to 2015, when the whole ghoulish pageant starts all over again.

imageSPURGEON: [laughs] Can you describe in broad terms the culture of that publication now? I know that when I was in town, most writers went through an intense period of publishing through them and then were kind of left out in the cold. Is there more continuity now? Is yours a rare, long-time relationship?

CONSTANT: The Stranger is really different now than it was when I moved to town. I started full-time right before the economic collapse of 2008 happened, and for a few years after that, there was virtually no staff turnover. Jen Graves has been our visual art critic for a year or so longer than me; Brendan Kiley has been our theater critic for about the same amount of time. Our publisher, Tim Keck -- a co-founder of The Onion -- is a really smart man who saw all this trouble coming for newspapers and figured out ways to correct our course accordingly. He knew classifieds would go away, for example, so he made adjustments to the model so that classifieds weren't integral to The Stranger's survival.

We were the only paper in town that didn't have layoffs during the Great Recession, which is a remarkable feat. And I think the staff realized that The Stranger was in a great place in relation to the rest of the media landscape, and so we all stood our ground. So a paper that was fairly well known for a quick turnover rate completely changed course. (Also, a lot of staffers who left The Stranger over the years in the 90s and early oughts did so to move to New York City and become a novelist/hit the media big time/become nationally recognized. The internet makes moving to New York not so much of a necessity anymore, and Seattle has much more national prominence than it used to, so the culture has changed in that way, too.)

Now that the economy is starting to improve and people are again spending money on dumb dot com startups and pet media projects -- thanks, Obama -- there's been a little more turnover at The Stranger, especially in our news department. I can't speak for my fellow critics, but I plan to stay for as long as they'll have me, because I know that I'm in a rare position where I get to write about whatever I want, and I get to ignore all the stupid stuff I don't want to write about. (If this was Twitter, I would include a "#blessed" here.)

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SPURGEON: How would you describe the Stranger's interest in comics-related subjects? Are there particular challenges to writing about comics for their audience?

CONSTANT:
The Stranger used to publish a lot more comics than we do now. James Sturm was heavily involved with the paper back in the early days. We published early Chris Ware cartoons, Jason Lutes first ran his beautiful comic Jar of Fools as a serial in the back of the paper. Now, thanks in large part to editorial designer Mike Force, we're running interesting comics again. And we're experimenting with longer-form non-fiction comics, including Callan Berry's fun semi-regular online feature "Police Reports Illustrated," which is exactly what it sounds like.

I think our audience, like most literary-minded audiences these days, is very interested in comics. The modern reader doesn't draw a distinction between great comics and great literature. A good book is a good book. When I go to parties and poke around the bookshelves of strangers, I notice that they don't make the distinction between comics and "real" books anymore. They're all on the same shelves. So I'm not worried about confusing readers by writing about a story told in pictures or anything like that. Stranger readers are savvy; I don't need to write down to them. If anything, I need to write up.

Speaking strictly as a reviewer, I do always feel that writing about comics is a challenge. One of my favorite parts of literary criticism is that you're critiquing a medium using the same medium. Nobody dances a critique about a dance performance, but with a book review, you're producing a piece of writing in response to a piece of writing. I find that aspect of book criticism to be fascinating. But I simply cannot draw, and so writing reviews of comics feels like I'm walking into a boxing match with my dominant hand tied behind my back, or that I'm trying to describe a rainbow to someone who's been blind her whole life. As a writer, my first impulse is to talk only about the writing of a comic; when I write about the art, I have to first overcome this feeling that I'm a huge fraud. So it's a balance, and I have to relearn that balance every time I write about comics. I do have to say that I'm painfully aware that my writing about comics isn't as good as my writing about prose. My goal almost every time is to come up with a beautiful piece of writing, and I think my reviews of comics are never as beautiful as my reviews of other books. My comics reviews feel frankensteined together, like dodos. That doesn't stop me from trying, but it's vexation that drives me to try to do better next time.

imageSPURGEON: One of the reasons I wanted to interview you was to get your impressions on the resurgent Seattle scene, which I want to break down into component parts. It seems to me that there are a bunch of new, young cartoonists there, more than at any time since 1992-1993. What is appealing about Seattle to a young creative, if not directly a young cartoonist? Because it seems like what was appealing in the early '90s (the novelty of the music scene, the relative cheap standard of living) probably don't apply now. Is there a resurgence in the arts more generally?



CONSTANT: Allow me to answer this question by talking even more about myself. Part of the reason why I moved here in 2000 was because I thought there was a thriving comics scene. Unfortunately, that scene had disappeared a year or two before my arrival. A few of the very best artists had stayed -- Ellen Forney, David Lasky, Greg Stump -- but Jason Lutes was gone, James Sturm was gone, Tom Hart was gone, Lynda Barry was gone. No disrespect to the people who stuck it out, but to my disappointment at the time, Seattle felt like a cartooning wasteland.

But now the scene is back, and honestly I'm not sure what the reason is, or even if there can be a single reason for it. (Probably legalizing marijuana helped.) You're right that low rents are certainly not a factor; if artists wanted affordability, they'd head to Portland, which keeps getting cheaper and cheaper in comparison to Seattle.

I think one answer has to do with community. People like to talk about the notorious "Seattle freeze," which supposedly locks out newcomers for a year or two, but I think Seattle's literary scene is more inclusive than it's ever been. Over the last few years, we've seen quite a few young artists moving to town, planting a flag, and announcing that they're making their own community. In a city like Seattle, which has relatively little east-coast cynicism, that kind of intentionality is practically a superpower. Seattleites can be so passive and timid that when somebody announces they're going to do something and then they actually go ahead and do the thing they announced, people are just awestruck. They go along with it. They join up.


imageThis has happened a few times recently in Seattle, with Dune Night, a monthly meetup/comics anthology jam session; with Intruder, a stunning monthly free comics newspaper; and with Short Run, a yearly comics and small press show. These are places for cartoonists to get together and share ideas and check out what everyone's been doing lately. They're public arenas for conversations, which is really the most important part of creating a scene -- making multiple spaces where people feel welcome and safe to express themselves.

And just like those bookshelves I was talking about before, I think the comics scene is now welcomed, especially by younger people, as an important part of the literary scene. And the literary scene here in Seattle is growing at a remarkable rate, for a lot of reasons. Partly, it's all the great nonprofits and writing resources we have in the area -- the Richard Hugo House, the Hedgebrook writing colony, Clarion West, Writers in the Schools, Copper Canyon Press -- and partly because people are realizing they don't have to live in Brooklyn to be a writer anymore.

And some of it also has to do, I'm sure, with Amazon. They shifted the power dynamic of the book world away from New York, and even though a lot of these young artists would rather die than order a book from Amazon, they're still enjoying Amazon's table-scraps--the authors who come to town to woo Amazon's buyers over lunch and throw a reading at a local independent bookstore while they're here, the former Amazon staffers who open bookstores and creative spaces, that sort of thing. A whole ecosystem for authors and readers has sprung up, and now everybody is profiting from it.

SPURGEON: Was Gary Groth winning the Stranger Genius award significant for how that company is regarded as a Seattle institution? Is the company seen that way?



CONSTANT: As much as I wish I could take credit for it, I don't think the Genius Award has all that much to do with Seattle's burgeoning respect for Fantagraphics. Frankly, I think giving the Genius Award for Literature to Jim Woodring in 2010 made more of an impact in the city's consciousness and outraged some of the stuffy old guard. I mean, Woodring won the literature award in part because of his entirely wordless books! Some people were really mad about that; Woodring read an irate artist's Facebook post about his winning the award as part of his Genius Award acceptance speech, which was a wonderful way to deal with it. And then Ellen Forney won the Literature Award in 2011, and so by the time Groth won this year, there was kind of a collective sense of, "well, obviously he should win it. How did he not win it before?" So now we've given out 12 Genius Awards for literature, and three of those awards (four if you count Sherman Alexie, who collaborated with Forney on an illustrated young adult novel) were given to people in the comics business, which, to me, does seem like a pretty important symbol of acceptance when taken in aggregate.

SPURGEON: Fantagraphics has a lot of Seattle qualities, really. It's laid-back, low-key, iconoclastic and quite possibly the best at what it does in the world. Why has it taken time for Seattle to kind of rally behind the publisher as a part of its significant contiributions to the arts?



CONSTANT: I think we can tie Fantagraphics' acceptance as a Seattle institution back to those days early in the 21st century when comics suddenly became part of the mainstream bookselling landscape. You could find Fantagraphics in Barnes & Noble and at your local independent bookseller. That, to me, is when Seattle turned around and started to take these guys seriously. There were a few stories about them in the Seattle Weekly and the Seattle Times in the early 2000s, and then people started to realize: Wait, these guys are the biggest publishers in the city? Wait a minute, they're the best publisher of comics in America? And they're in Seattle? How did that happen?

Well, they've kind of been doing it this whole time and you just didn't care about comics, pal. But, you know, welcome to the party!

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SPURGEON: Are shows like Emerald City Comic-Con and Short Run important to firming up a place for comics in the wider cultural scene there? What about those shows, if anything, makes them Seattle shows?



CONSTANT: Absolutely they're important, though I think they're important for almost entirely different reasons. I think Short Run is where Seattle's cartooning community gets together to celebrate itself and the year it's had. And I think Emerald City Comic-Con is where we get together to show off our city's accomplishments to the outside world.

I think both conventions have a very Seattle vibe, a kind of laid-back "let's put on a show" sensibility. It takes a lot to force Seattleites to leave the house, but once they manage to put on pants and make their way outside, they love to just shoot the shit. As a city, we're pretty good at hanging out. Local comics folk get so excited for Short Run, and their enthusiasm is contagious. It's like if Christmas and St. Patrick's Day got together and made a punky love child.

And I'm always so proud to see comics professionals come from around the world to Seattle for ECCC and gush about what a good time they have here. It's a large-scale convention, but it doesn't have that frenzied media-spectacle sense that many of the other shows on the convention calendar have. It's a place for fans to be fans, and it's a place for the pros to be fans, too. I'm serious; in the days during and after ECCC, you can see the pros on Twitter get positively giddy about their experiences here, on a personal level. As far as I'm concerned, that's exactly where you want to be, in terms of conventions. It doesn't matter if you have the splashiest panels or the hottest celebrities; if both the pros and fans both leave happy, that's some kind of miracle.

imageSPURGEON: I enjoyed your piece on Jim Woodring's JIM reprint that ran earlier this year, and was also struck by the avalanche of writing in that work. He's kind of like this perpetually forgotten great cartoonist, and I wondered what it was that strikes you about his work that makes him both mighty and sometimes neglected.

CONSTANT: Thank you. I think Woodring's working with some pretty intense subject matter, and it's not going to work for everyone. I remember when I was a four year-old digging through my brother's comics, looking for an Action Comics to read, I found his copy of Uncanny X-Men #132. I read it as best I could, and then I came up on that last page of Wolverine staring right at the reader. It's drawn by John Byrne, so it's more realistic than the Curt Swan work I preferred at this point. Wolverine's in the sewer, he's covered in shit, he's got claws coming out of his hands, and he's about to go fuck some motherfuckers up. I was terrified. [Spurgeon laughs] I just put the book back and quietly freaked out. I realized that I was way too young for that kind of material, and it made the entire back of my skull light up with warning signs. I still get that feeling sometimes when I read Jim Woodring's work: "THIS THING YOU'RE LOOKING AT IS HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE!"

He's an artist who entirely works from his subconscious. So all the politesse that a work of fiction usually entails, the layers of familiarity that authors lay down to make the work smoother for the readers, isn't there at all. It's primal, nightmarish stuff.

But that's making it sound inaccessible, and Woodring's work isn't inaccessible at all. That's the genius of it. A Frank story is just as easy to visually digest as, say, a Mickey Mouse cartoon, or Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy. Woodring is absolutely a master of cartooning, and if he were to work with family-friendly themes, he'd be the Carl Barks of our time. But he uses that cartooning skill to relay a message that's much darker, much more intense, than we're used to. I think his work will be studied for a long time, and I think it will reward generations to come. But it's certainly not mass-market material.

SPURGEON: You wrote a "What does Fantagraphics do now?" article right when the first of the crowd-funded book began to come out -- we're more than a half year into that period; how are they doing?

CONSTANT: I think they're doing well. As I understand it, the Kickstarter was a direct response to a crisis caused by the death of Kim Thompson. Thompson was a workhorse, and he was handling so many projects for Fantagraphics that his death left their entire catalog in disarray. They needed a quick infusion of cash to hire the labor to do the work he left unfinished. I was on a panel with Fantagraphics at ECCC, and I asked if, since the Kickstarter was so successful, it would become a regular part of the Fantagraphics business model. Groth seemed almost mortified by that idea. They needed the money to get themselves out of an unforeseeable crisis. But they've been pretty stable for a good long while; hopefully that sweet, sweet Peanuts money will keep them going for years to come.

SPURGEON: I liked that you asked Art Spiegelman about the slippery nature of nostalgia, something that rarely gets brought up with underground/early-alt cartoonists like him because of how their work broke with elements of the past at the same time it celebrated others. Do you see comics as sometimes too backwards-looking? Are comics current enough?

CONSTANT: I can't stand nostalgia; I have no patience for it. I think nostalgia causes brain death. But I don't know if comics are especially nostalgic anymore. I wish they were more artistically forward-thinking and experimental. I hate that webcomics just basically became static comics delivered through the internet, for example, when they have the potential to do virtually anything. But I think comics on the whole have become more socially forward-thinking at the same time that, say, Hollywood has become conservative and backwards-looking, with an endless string of reboots and sequels and expanded cinematic universes. (The latter of which was inspired by comics, of course, so I guess it's an ouroboros of nostalgia.)

imageIt's a tricky question, because, for instance, Marvel and DC always seem to be chasing some version of their own past, and mainstream fandom often seems to only be interested in the same old intellectual-property management they've always gotten. But also Marvel put out a tremendously successful book with a Muslim Pakistani-American teenage girl superhero, and I don't think you can overestimate the importance of that kind of representation. And you certainly wouldn't see CBS launching a TV series with a main character like Kamala Khan. So it's not an either/or proposition. Comics are stuck in the past and slowly moving toward the future at the same time. I've appreciated how mainstream comic superstar writers like Brian Michael Bendis and Grant Morrison and Matt Fraction and Brian K. Vaughan have advocated for feminism and multiculturalism in their books. In a lot of ways, comics have been better about representation than other art forms. We have a long way to go, obviously, but I feel good about the direction comics are going in now. I wouldn't have been able to say that ten years ago. So that's progress, right?

SPURGEON: I haven't the full book-volume version of Here, but I'm a great fan of the short story. Your review is the only negative take I've seen. You talk about dissipated energy -- it seems like you have an interest in prose essayists and short story writers in a similar way. Is there something to comics losing some of their potency due to the rigidty of the graphic novel format?

CONSTANT: That wasn't an easy review to write. Like you, I loved the short story. It blew up every single idea I had about what comics could do. And technically, the book-length Here is an impressive achievement, but I think the short story will be the version that stands the test of time.

I think we've still got some growing pains to live through when it comes to book-length comics. A book-length comic is still a relatively new development, and so cartoonists need to learn how to properly pace stories at that length. Just because your comic book fills 200 pages does not make it a novel. Just because you wrote six consecutive issues of The Avengers doesn't mean it's a single story. Artists need to relearn structure to suit this scale and figure out how to make it work for them. You can't just blow a short story out to the length of a novel by adding more characters. You have to rethink the whole damn thing.

I do think there's an impulse in creators to pad their stories out to fit their preconceived ideas of what a work should be, and the work always suffers when that happens. Padding has never helped a narrative. I've read a lot of good 400-page novels that could have been great 200-page novels. I've read a lot of flabby, overwrought non-fiction books that would have been masterful articles. The Great Gatsby is just 50,000 words or so. Could you imagine if Fitzgerald's publisher had forced him to expand it to 75,000? I'm not saying that every book should come in at a clean 200 pages -- David Foster Wallace maintained his enthusiasm for all of Infinite Jest, for example -- but as a reader you can tell when a storyteller loses their energy. How can you expect an audience to feel any excitement for a narrative when the author's attention is flagging?

SPURGEON: What's the last good comic you read? What's the last great one?

CONSTANT: The last good comic I read was the first issue of Bitch Planet, which was a fun way to establish a premise. And though I've read a lot of good comics this year, I think the last great comic I read -- not counting reprints, because that's cheating -- was Peter Bagge's 2013 book Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, which I think was a biography that worked especially well in comics format.

*****

* Paul Constant Twitter
* Paul Constant At The Stranger

*****

* from 1962 World's Fair advertisement
* a Peanuts paperback
* cover to an issue of Roberta Gregory's Naughty Bits
* Constant's Stranger photo
* recent Stranger cover
* Jar Of Fools panel
* Tom Hart's Love Looks Left, a comic of yesterday's Seattle
* Intruder #8, a comic of today's Seattle
* Seattle's big shows
* Jim Woodring, Arts Hero
* what Marvel can do that CBS can't
* from Peter Bagge's Woman Rebel (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Anuj Shrestha's Best Of 2014

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Marc-Oliver Frisch Announces His Best Comics Of 2014 List

The writer about comics Marc-Oliver Frisch has posted here about the best comics of the year 2014. He does three lists: 7 memorable comics, collections of previously published material and ongoing comics series. He qualifies the last two lists as material he either didn't read (the collections) or may not be up to date in all cases (the ongoing material). He also notes he worked on a German translation of the #6 choice on his first list.

I like the specificity of the first list and the honesty behind the presentation of the second two. I'm glad to see Palm Ash and Bumf receive consideration. Those are both formidable comics.

His choices are as follows. Please follow that first link to read his commentary.

*****

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Memorable Comics 2014

7: Crossed + One Hundred #1, Alan Moore And Gabriel Andrade And Digikore Studios (Avatar Press)
6: Black Kiss, Howard Chaykin With Marc-Oliver Frisch And Lucia Truccone (Panini Comics)
5: Lose #6, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
4: Copra #14, Michel Fiffe (Copra Press)
3: Haunter, Sam Alden (Study Group Comics)
2: Palm Ash, Julia Gfrörer (Thuban Press) (Best Link Suggested To Me)
1: Bumf Vol. 1, Joe Sacco (Fantgraphics)

*****

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Collections

* Ant Colony, Michael DeForge (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Devil Dinosaur: The Complete Collection, Jack Kirby (Marvel)
* Doc Frankenstein, Lana Wachowski And Andy Wachowski And Steve Skroce (Burlyman)
* Escapo, Paul Pope (Z2)
* How to Be Happy, Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
* Megahex, Simon Hanselmann (Fantagraphics)
* Street Angel, Jim Rugg And Brian Maruca (AdHouse)
* Sunny Vols. 3-4, Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz)
* The Complete Multiple Warheads, Brandon Graham (Image)
* The Shaolin Cowboy, Geof Darrow (Dark Horse)
* Through the Woods, Emily Carroll (Faber & Faber)
* Wonton Soup, James Stokoe (Oni)
* Youth Is Wasted, Noah Van Sciver (AdHouse)
* Zenith Phases 1-2, Grant Morrison And Steve Yeowell (Rebellion) (No Direct Publisher's Link, As Far As I Can Tell)

* * *

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Commercial Serials

* Astro City, Kurt Busiek And Brent Anderson (DC)
* Captain Victory, Joe Casey And Nathan Fox And others (Dynamite)
* Crossed: Wish You Were Here, Simon Spurrier And Fernando Malek (Avatar)
* Das UPgrade, Ulf Graupner And Sascha Wüstefeld (Graufeld)
* Deadly Class, Rick Remender And Wes Craig (Image)
* Prophet and Prophet Strikefile, Brandon Graham And Simon Roy And Others (Image)
* Ragnarök, Walt Simonson (IDW)
* Rover Red Charlie, Garth Ennis And Michael Dipascale (Avatar)
* Saga, Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
* Sex, Joe Casey And Piotr Kowalski And Others (Image)
* Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction And Chip Zdarsky (Image)
* The Fade Out, Ed Brubaker And Sean Phillips (Image)
* The Private Eye, Brian Vaughan And Marcos Martin (Panel Syndicate)
* Über and Über Special, Kieron Gillen And Canaan White And Others (Avatar)

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Bruce Timm Gallery

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This Is How Many Pretty Good Comics Shows There Are Now

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So I was goofing off the other day and wondering how many comics show I might like to do in 2015, thinking it would be a maximum of five. I came up with thirteen. Thirteen. And this is leaving off a couple of shows where there are conflicts (MoCCA vs. SPACE, for example).

* Emerald City Comic-Con (March 27-29)
* WonderCon (April 3-5)
* SPACE (April 11-12)
* Linework NW (April 18-19)
* TCAF (May 8-10
)
* CAKE (June 6-7)
* Heroes Con (June 19-21)
* Comic-Con International (July 8-12)
* Autoptic (August 8-9)
* SPX (September 19-20)
* CXC (Launch Party October 2-3)
* CAB (TBA)
* CALA (TBA)

So there's that. And I'm probably forgetting one or two to which I've already committed to and two to three to which I'm dying to go.

Wow.
 
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Not Comics: John WIlliam Waterhouse

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Go, Look: And They Get By With It

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there are a few more days for you to participate in the Society Of Illustrators annual program for comics.

image* Chris Randle talks to Anne Ishii.

* for people just five years younger than me, this is what the X-Men looked like.

* here's an audio version of the play King Kirby, about Jack Kirby, written by Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente. That went up around Christmas and I totally missed it.

* John Romita Sr. draws the Count Of Monte Cristo. Jack Kirby draws Captain America and Dave Stevens inks him.

* the fine Seattle location Comics Dungeon has a list up of its top 100 comics for 2014. That's really interesting to see what sells at a single-store level. The caveat here would be that they don't seem to have any sort of client base for alt-/art trades. That's not a criticism, just something to keep in mind when you look at the chart. All stores are different.

* finally, Matthew Nolan walks us through a higher-end kickstarter effort and track downs where the money went. That's a great service.
 
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January 4, 2015


50 Comics Positives For 2014: Bill Watterson Won Festival Presidency At Angouleme

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Bill Watterson is an undeniably great cartoonist and a significant cultural touchstone for multiple generations of comics readers. He won the grand prix at Angouleme last winter after some changes in a voting process that some people felt had become stale and put too much pressure on personal relationships because of the limited number and public identity of the voters (past festival presidents). He won't directly participate, but the honor is one for which he is more than qualified, and if nothing else we got about twice the number of new Bill Watterson comics panels as we've seen since his 1990s retirement in the form of the poster/comic for the show, now just a few weeks away.

I have no idea how much Watterson is or ever was oriented towards world comics or even comics of any sort outside of editorial and strip cartooning. He might have been shocked by the honor; he might have had no idea what Angouleme is. I could not say. But combined with the show he did at the Billy Ireland, and the graciousness of his interactions with Richard Thompson, and his surprise appearance on the actual newspaper comics page (raising money for charity), I can say that all of the Watterson stuff this year felt like one of those moments where a distinguished actor pops up at the Oscars 10 years after his last movie, handsome in a tuxedo, allowing you one last, brief look into both themselves and that time in your life where what they did was something that kept you distracted and happy when you maybe really needed that. Everybody wave to Mr. Watterson.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Patreon Began To Yield Comics-Related Success Stories

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What I don't know about comics-related funding mechanisms could literally fill a book -- a book I'd read, I swear to God -- but I think it's worth nothing that Patreon has settled into a being useful tool not just for a hardcore group of outliers and early adopters and people working multiple comics-related niches but to regular, working cartoonists. I'm particularly interested in how it's had an impact on cartoonists like Jason Shiga and Meredith Gran, because I think in those cases we're getting comics we wouldn't get otherwise without this way of funding them and there seems to be some hard structural impediments in traditional set-ups when it comes to their maximizing reward to a certain stratum of creators.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Issues Of Diversity, Harassment, Opportunity Gain Crucial Momentum

imageThere's no greater positive on this entire list than the overall, insistent push that issues revolving around gender, orientation, identity, class and race in comics get a just hearing and that it's attendant on every single person with a professional stake in comics to make a better industry within comics and help fashion a better community without based on humane values. This is exhausting, hard and sometimes excruciating work; but it works against a state of affairs that is far more exhausting, much harder and perhaps doubly excruciating for certain people just maybe not you: an intolerable status quo.

We can disagree on some of these matters issue to issue and in terms of process or procedure. I always hope for more self-criticism to match various trumpeting declarations of virtuous action or "I got this" watchdogging against others, because I think self-improvement and personal responsibility is where a tremendous amount of progress can be made. It also breaks my heart a little bit when a victory for one aspect of these issues is seen as innoculation against criticism based on another aspect. But to not be grateful that these discussions are being had, that these arguments are being made, that there might be changes in longstanding problems and that a better, kinder, more vibrant and more professional industry and community that could evolve is somehow not a goal? I don't know what to do with that. Let's keep going.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: The Struggle To Appreciate Bhob Stewart

imageOne of the ideas that I've mulled over since the passing of Kim Thompson in 2013 is that comics seems to have a difficult time processing the contributions of those who aren't explicitly or perhaps primarily comics-makers unless they can lay hands on an iconic character, and that this is doubly true when it comes to assessing how art comics and comics of personal expression have gained a toehold in the wider world over the last 50 years. I've seen some writers about comics that were at one point as trenchant as any commentator currently going pass away with barely a word save from those that enjoyed a personal relationship with that person over the years. I think we lose something when people are immediately forgotten.

That's why I appreciated the struggle to come to terms with the passing of Bhob Stewart back in February, and how that took a few months for people to get through. Because of his talent and his stature and because of the multiple times he found himself in key positions of proximity to what was going on with the emerging art form of comics, in addition to certain aspects of counter-culture more generally -- and because his contributions were right there to see -- Stewart demanded attention. His passing also forced those that did so to go down some strange rabbit holes of how we got here from there, elements of expression important once upon a time and seemingly less so in our memories. Stewart was a familiar personality for any community of artists, I think, and I suspect he was probably best remembered in e-mail circles and in personal discussions at things like his May memorial in New York City. I hope we can become as open to recalling the possibilities of every person that will one day be gone.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Marvel Has A Book Reprint Series My Friends Seem To Like

imageI'm not going to pretend I know how Marvel appoaches collecting their books on any level, nor will I ever pretend that my appetite for what Marvel has done facilitates a refined aesthetic for their various format choices. I think the two great comics they've done are the initial runs Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man; they've done about three to five wholly admirable comics with createors like Steve Gerber, and they've published dozens of comics I find entertaining enough to want to own if I come across them at a fair price point. So while a couple of longboxes purchased from Randy's Readers and a few black and white paperback trades bought through AbeBooks.com might do it for me, not everyone's me.

What I'm finding now with my comics-reading friends is that a good half-dozen will at my prompting proclaim their affection for their various color-comic hardcover lines, in particular their hopes for the Marvel Epic line (the bottom of these three lines here). These are series/character organized publications, which means that they anchor with a title like Amazing Spider-Man but might bring in material from some of the other Spider-Man titles if they feel it's necessary for narrative clarity. That seems sensible, as does a higher-end option for, say, someone that wants to read about the Vision character when he appears in this year's Avengers movie. We'll see how it goes -- they're printing out of order so there's always the risk that you end up with a series of books that's 1, 5, 17 and 24 and never gets around to the rest of it -- but I don't ever recall hearing enthusiasm from too many of my friends about Marvel publications with a spine.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Zunar Won A Key Court Victory

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It was sort of awesome in October that Zunar, after years of court defeats on his detention and the seizure of his book 1 Funny Malaysia and issues of Gedung Kartun in 2010, got a win. Not just a win, but the win: censure from the judges concerning earlier decisions by police and legal officials, the return of his books, the lifting of the ban, a positive formulation from the bench as to why satirists should be allowed to have a wide-ranging definition of acceptable speech. It was almost too good to be true -- and maybe it was, considering what's happened since: a new round of debilitating and ugly harassment. Still, I don't want to deny the positive of that court decision, if only because of Zunar's doggedness in chasing it through a court system that seemed very much stacked against him.
 
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50 Comics Positives: Jonah Weiland Pulls The Plug On His Forums

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One of the more admirable moves made by anyone in the comics industry this year was by my friend and peer at Comic Book Resources, Jonah Weiland, who took to heart some industry-wide criticism of interactive community forums as sometimes-hostile places for everybody not a straight white male, look at his own efforts in the area, deemed them not enough, and pulled the plug on the old way of doing things for a different go at it. This brought him some charged criticism from those who interpret any move to improve basic quality of life issues for someone else that might inconvenience or strike them as politically inopportune as something terrifying and wrong, broke the longstanding institutional momentum that a lot of those places come to depend on, and brought he and his company some extra work. I never got the sense he ever thought twice, though, and kudos to him.
 
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50 Comics Positives: Stephan Pastis' Very Good Week

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Stephan Pastis describes his surprise partnership with Bill Watterson better than I ever could in a statement here; but yeah, I have to imagine that would have been a huge thrill.

The greatest coda possible is that the strips were the foundation of this year's major charitable push by Team Cul De Sac, the aforementioned group of close friends of Parkinson's-afflicted cartoonist Richard Thompson. According to Chris Sparks, that group's total this year was $84K, and they've raised over $200K since mid-2010.
 
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50 Comics Positives: Support For Seth Kushner

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Comics has a giving heart, and there was a lot of giving done this year, both directly and indirectly.

The comics-maker and photographer Seth Kushner was one of the recipients, the one that sticks in my mind at year's end with an on-line campaign and various events throughout the year intermittently drawing attention to his battle with leukemia. You can still donate through that first link.
 
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50 Comics Positives: Anders Nilsen Vs. Amazon

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There's a lot of worry in the air about the long-term consequences of policies adopted by big digital and print players like Apple and Amazon.com as more and more of various markets is either won or given over to them. The artist Anders Nilsen sent out his own response in late June, and what I like about it is his finding a way to create a specific positive about the act of buying a workfrom people specifically motivated to sell a work for reasons other than some sort of incremental contribution to the bottom line.

I think a lot of cartoonists are thinking through in a variety of ways how to best approach and best support what used to the invisible mechanism of a sale, and I think it's a conversation that will become more intense of the next five years.
 
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50 Comics Positives: Banned Books Week Focused On Comics, GNs

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Betsy Gomez has a very nice write-up here about the CBLDF taking point on behalf of comics and graphic novels, the focus of this year's Banned Book Week. The cover to the primary publication was by CBLDF board member Jeff Smith. As Gomez points out, the week allowed the CBLDF a high-profile debut for some of the proactive teaching material, and I think is another step forward for that organization from kind of last line of defense in the comics world to the overall good in the world that includes comics as a vital art form.
 
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50 Comics Positives 2014: This Is How You Welcome A Cartoonist

imageI was struck back in mid-July by how Newsday announced their new editorial cartoonist Matt Davies and not just because many publications are doing without editorial cartoonists altogether.

It's a very upbeat article, lays out why the position is important to the publication, cites Davies' virtues and talks about what they've achieved with past staffers. It may be a sign of the dark times that have faced editorial cartoonists for a couple of decades now that I even paid attention to the tone, but I think paid editorial cartooning positions are such a valuable thing in terms of the cartooning arts. I thought we under-appreciated them for years and if I have to over-appreciate them a tiny bit now to redress that imbalance, I'm more than game.

It's good to see Davies find a position, too, whenever he needs or wants one: that's a past Pulitzer and Herblock winner.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014 Kanika Mishra, Majida Shaheen Win CRNI Award

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Michael Cavna had the best story (through here) about the first female recipients of the Cartoonist Rights Network International Award For Courage In Editorial Cartooning. Both cartoonists took on difficult subjects and prominent men: Kanika Mishra created cartoons about Asaram Bapu, a religious leader facing rape charges; Majida Shaheen caricatured the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (as seen above).

Both cartoonists faced threats of violence but continued to publish. It continues to be extremely difficult to make cartoons about figures of power in the vast majority of the world, and anyone that does so should have our full support. The work of these two cartoonists honors this award.
 
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Missed It: Those Tim Doyle Simpsons-Springfield Illustrations

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January 3, 2015


50 Comics Positives For 2014: King-Cat Turned 25 Years Old

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John Porcellino had an amazing year, what with the publication of Hospital Suite, the official 25th anniversary of his legendary King-Cat Comix And Stories series, a documentary film about his life and art, and a lengthy tour in support of book, series and documentary.

King-Cat is one of the great comics series of all time, it is art that changes lives, and I'm so glad it exists.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Last Gasp Had Its Next Publishing Season Crowd-Funded, With $ To Spare

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The great thing about the crowd-funder by venerable publisher and at-times pivotal distributor of comics and related arts material Last Gasp was that its inducements were also advertisements for the value of Ron Turner's long-running enterprise. This was a really interesting crowd-funder to watch, in that it rallied late -- my suspicion is that we're seeing a bit more of those late-driving successes in crowd-funding than we used to, where you could tell a few weeks out if something was going to get over or not. It's a better publishing world when Last Gasp is around to participate, and I hope that they'll use the money to make great comics and stabilize themselves for the future.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Many Cons/Festivals Continue Their Staggering Attendance Growth

imageThis article from early September is a nice reminder that the convention/festival part of comics, particularly those conventions that are loosely modeled on the San Diego Con's medium-inclusive model for conventions, continue to add attendance in four- and five-digit increments. I'd be lying to you if I said I knew what it meant, and I'd be hard pressed to make a counter-argument if you wanted to patiently explain to me that conventions and festivals -- especially the big tent kind -- aren't really that connected to comics' fortunes.

Until someone crushes me on the matter, though, I'm going to see this many people open to an experience that at least brings them into close proximity with comics makers as a positive or at least a potential positive. It seems to me that tons of people attending shows at the very least beats the crap out of the reverse scenario, people staying the heck away in droves. I'm also not ready to declare someone else's experience with comics the wrong one to be having, even in the broadest terms. Not anymore. So until we figure out exactly what's happening and what it might means, I'm going to enjoy the show.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Liza Donnelly Was The First Cartoonist Finalist For Thurber Prize

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As the headline in the CR post mentions, I didn't see this until it was over, but the cartoonist and writer Liza Donnelly was a finalist for the Thurber Prize For American Humor. I don't 100 percent know for sure she's the only comics-making finalist for that award, but I sure couldn't find another example. There haven't been a lot of women making any of the lists, either. Donnelly and the writing team of David Letterman and Bruce McCall placed second to winner John Kenney and his debut novel Truth In Advertising. It seemed like a good year for Donnelly, who also spoke at the National Book Festival. Her nominated work Women on Men came out in late 2013.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: The Cartoonist Zunzi Was Involved With Occupy Central Movement

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I'm all for cartoonists living according to their convictions as expressed on the page, and a stellar example of that occurred this year with recurring mentions of the cartoonist Zunzi in Occupy Central stories. The shape and direction of Hong Kong politics has been a primary issue for Zunzi going back a couple of decades, so his involvement makes sense. That a cartoonist can be near the core of a protest movement speaks to the power of his own convictions but also to the importance of cartoons in that culture as a method of ongoing social protest.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: This Great Photo Of Art Spiegelman Surrounded By Schoolchildren

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I don't remember why this photo came out and I only remember roughly when I first saw it (late September). I'm not even sure I know where that is; I'm thinking these are maybe French schoolchildren (the scarves). The thing is, I don't care about any of the attendant facts even whether or not this is a 2014 photo as much as I delight in how awesome this photo is and remain happy I got to see it this year.

Every cartoonist in the world should at one time in their lives be photographed surrounded by interested-to-adoring youngsters. It's also a reminder that Art Spiegelman is a fine public representative of the medium, articulate and engaged, and we're lucky to have him.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Anecdotal Evidence Suggests Positive Cartoonist Insurance Outcomes

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This is of course only an informed guess on my part, but based on talking to a few dozen US comics people of various income levels it seems like the changes in health insurance law, options and availability to be had in 2014 were mostly a boon for comics folk. There certainly hasn't been the mass exodus from cartooning due to being required to have health insurance that some warned about. I also have yet to hear of any comics company throwing their hands up in the air and making everyone on staff apply for insurance on their own, which is something I was told would happen. I'd have to talk to a lot more people to be closer to 100 percent sure what's going on, including many more people who were making enough to afford insurance before 2014. I know that's where I hear complaints from my not-comics friends.

Speaking of which: I'm all for discussions of life issues like these as their own good. We have a national lack-of-dialogue about the practicalities of self-care and health insurance, one that is reflected in comics. It used to be not uncommon to see comics people avoiding potentially catastrophic treatment because of the perceived devastating cost to their bottom line. If we could just have less than that, I think we can move forward. It should be interesting to see how things develop, both the laws and the comics community's reaction to them.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: The TCAF Keynote With Lynn Johnston, Kate Beaton, Raina Telgemeier

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I had a lot of fun at the TCAF Keynote address this year, enough fun I forgot to take pictures. What I believe was initially scheduled as a talk between Kate Beaton and Lynn Johnston -- two formidable Canadian cartoonists of different generations was changed to add the equally formidable Raina Telgemeier, a same-age peer of Beaton's and a devoted Johnston fan. I thought it was a really good panel. It was sort of presented to us as part of TCAF's commitment to throwing the spotlight on female creators, and everything that's great about that notion was certainly true there, I can imagine it was like a "pick a role model" contest for a lot of the beatific faces in attendance. All three are interesting in terms of contrast and comparisons, too, for instance that the "making a living part" of their cartooning careers are all very different. They're also all funny and smart and that was on display as well. It was a really good time.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Julia Wertz Started Doing Comics Again

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I'm not exactly sure when she stopped and when she started back -- I don't think there were hard dates in terms of how the site was used as much as a lengthy break in her own artistic practices -- but at some point this Fall it struck me that the cartoonist Julia Wertz was doing on-line comics pretty regularly again. She collected her Fart Party material into a collection called Museum Of Mistakes, so there were some re-runs to support that material (also appearances at SPX and CAB). The brand-new stuff struck me as being all over the place a bit in terms of tone and subject matter; they were even split between sketchbook comics and more standard inked work. I'll take whatever I can get; I think Wertz is funny, and I think she has a hard-won point of view that's developed from a perspective on that's very different than most people in comics, including the influence of her unique background. It's the kind of perspective that could make for a lifetime of coimcs if she wants, and I hope she will.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Simon Hanselmann Got Married... Twice

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The cartoonist Simon Hanselmann had a hell of a Fall. He debuted the book Megahex from Fantagraphics at SPX 2014. He went on tour with Michael DeForge and Patrick Kyle. He did a TCJ diary and continued the successful on-line publication of his work. There are hints of bigger deals and maybe cross-media opportunities being processed.

While all of this -- even a portion of it -- might be enough to exhaust many cartoonists, Hanselmann seemed to enjoy the heck out of his series of smart movies and taking advantage of professional opportunity. His most meaningful acts may have come in the form of a pair of weddings, one fake and one real. SPX 2014 will be remembered for the year that Hanselmann smooched his publisher Gary Groth at a "wedding to comics" promotion for his book. There aren't many of those moments at comics shows, and that was certainly one.

The cartoonist then later revealed during the TCJ diary gig that he married Jacq Cohen this Fall, a union that the bride described as a "deliriously happy" one.

We should all have years like Hanselmann's, or at least one such along the way.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: The Inkstuds Rob Liefeld Episode

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I was going to make an entry out of the whole tour enjoyed by the podcast Inkstuds, where Robin McConnell -- sometimes joined by Brandon Graham -- used crowd-funded money to drive around and talk to cartoonists and comics-makers. That's just a weird and kind of nice thing that the culture of comics could enable that pair to do. One of the two or three I liked best from the entire effort, and the one of those three that I don't think would have been done otherwise, is the Rob Liefeld interview they did at his home. So I thought I'd just name that particular interview instead.

Liefeld was a fascinating figure to watch through the 1990s for those of us who are roughly same-age peers, so I can't even imagine how he looms in the mind of those about Graham's age, where he must have seemed like a towering figure and then later on finding out that not everyone enjoyed his art. The only person that I think comes close to that for the over 45s is Jim Davis, maybe. At any rate, he seems like a nice man and is one of the most affable people in comics -- we interviewed him at the Journal when I was there, and I thought that turned out great. It was nice to check back in on him.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Don Rosa Joins Carl Barks As Duck Artist Worth Hardcover Collections

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I've hardly read any discussion of the Don Rosa hardcover reprints from Fantagraphics, and to be honest with you I haven't even read the two volumes I've received beyond that first plunge into them. I've read for pleasure, but I haven't done the kind of reading I'd need to do to talk about them with some semblance of authority regarding their artistic achievement. Still, I think it's really cool these exist, and that despite the unpleasant ending to the Rosa/Disney relationship that these books are seen by Disney as something of value and worthy of doing. Further, because of the long-standing friendship between Rosa and fellow kid-collector turned comics professional Gary Groth, these are books that can be done in a way that satisfies Rosa artistically.

They're really entertaining comics, too. Rosa isn't the natural cartoonist that Barks was, but he has an absolute sense of his storytelling rhythms. As the stories are more modern in nature, I can even see many fans preferring them. That's an achievement.
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from December 27, 2014 to January 2, 2015:

1. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum announces the acquisition of the Jeff MacNelly collection. That's a key editorial cartoonist and cartoonist generally, particularly for a Midwestern institution like the Billy.

2. Danielle Corsetto announces she'll be shutting down her long-running Girls With Slingshots.

3. The Best-Of-2014 lists keep coming, like this one from the all-seeing eye of Great Britain, Paul Gravett. The consensus? There is no critical consensus.

Winner Of The Week
The Billy.

Loser Of The Week
Anyone hoping that this year's Best-Of lists would call attention a small group of five or six comics that they could pick up and read. Those days seem over.

Quote Of The Week
"I didn't have an ordinary year." -- Seth Kushner

*****

the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

*****
*****
 
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Missed It: Winsor McCay New Year's Imagery

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Hellen Jo!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Richard Bruton!

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January 2, 2015


50 Comics Positives For 2014: Alison Bechdel, Genius

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The MacArthur Foundation says so. We're witnessing the golden afternoon part of a truly remarkable career and I hope it's half as fun for Bechdel to experience as it satisfying for those that get to read her work.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Richard Thompson Had Two Giant Books Out

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Richard Thompson quietly and without making a bunch of new comics -- an outcome of his ongoing negotiation with the effects of Parkinson's -- has had one of the great years that any cartoonist ever had. We covered his inclusion in the wonderful Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson exhibit pairing at Billy Ireland Cartoon Library And Museum. We mentioned in passing his attendance of the opening festivities. What we haven't mentioned yet is that 1) this was the year that the complete Cul De Sac came out, with an exhaustive presentation including proto-strips of what many feel is the the great newspaper strip of the 21st Century, 2) this was the year The Art Of Richard Thompson came out, which put Cul De Sac in the context of an extraordinarily accomplished, broader career as a caricaturist and editorial-style cartoonist (of a sort), and 3) money continues to be raised in his name to fight Parkinson's, an effort led by a core group of close friends.

I'm going to make #3 its own thing a bit later on, but those first two, which enable us to have this great newspaper strip as a whole entity and see a bunch of Thompson's work that until this time was the sole pleasure of hardcore collectors, that seems an extraordinary privilege. I don't know many cartoonists who have had one of the best collections and best art books in any calendar year. I know one now, and he is a better man than he is a great cartoonist.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: There Was A 500-Foot Long Joe Sacco Paris Subway Cartoon

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Here. The cartoon was hung for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of The Somme, the heartbreaking battle depicted in Joe Sacco's single-image accordion comic The Great War.

This is one of those news stories that if someone had escaped into a past simply 25 years in the rear view window just to relate comics news -- it could happen -- this might have been the deal-breaker in terms of believability. Yet it seems perfectly sensible now. That must have been pretty cool to see. You can see a couple of photos here.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Broadening The Influence Base

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It's happened much more slowly than I thought it might, but a great advantage of the broader audience and creative community reading and serving comics is that we're likely to see influences coming in from a variety of sources not just older comics themselves -- not to mention that the older inspirations will be interpreted differently. This was probably most clearly seen in the work on genre comics done by Brandon Graham and the artists with whom he's worked on the various new-era Prophet, where Moebius plays the role of Jack Kirby and 1970s Heavy Metal takes the place of RAW in the creative pantheon.

This year we got a pair of even better examples: growing alt-comics presence Katie Skelly with Operation Margarine at AdHouse and the lauded pairing of writer Kelly Sue Deconnick and artist Valentine De Landro with Bitch Planet at Image mining similar pockets of '60s/'70s trash culture. If by five years from now there are a 100 different kinds of popular art seeing expression in comics form, I think it'll be a richer art form.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: New Comics Scholarship Group Organized

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Add CSS to the name of abbreviated titles you need to remember and the Comic Studies Society web site to those you might wish to follow. At this year's ICAF in Columbus, Ohio, Charles Hatfield and the other interim officers of a newly-formed group announced their arrival to a packed, excited room.

As someone whose attendance at comics scholarly events was at one point marked by more than a decade of time in between, it's amazing how much that field is grown. A society to serve their interests in everything from directing graduate students to disseminating information about employment to sharing resources seems vitally necessary. It should also allow a generation of talented academics that work with comics a chance to give back.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: New Zealand Society Of Authors Offers Formal Mentorships

imageIt was a very small story that flashed across my screen only a couple of times, and on CR I took both opportunities to patiently explain why mentoring as the New Zealand Society Of Authors is going to try it might not work in North America. That shouldn't ruin the fact that a bunch of young cartoonists from New Zealand may get a chance to learn from cartoonists like New Zealand in an increasingly rudderless international publishing landscape for comics and cartooning. Someone will almost certainly benefit here. That may be one or more of the cartoonists supplying the mentoring, as nothing sharpens the mind on certain matters as teaching those things and nothing makes you more responsible than responsibility. Now I'm not so sure something like this wouldn't be worth trying here.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Ms. Marvel As Bonafide Hit

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I'm kind of lost these days to figure out sales numbers. There's been a diversification of product lines, there's digital, and there are so many stunts going on at one time that it's hard to gauge their effect on any snapshot of any market place. Everything I know in my limited way indicates the Ms. Marvel series from G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona is a solid-performing hit. In what should be its weakest marketplace given the character's appeal in bookstores and digitally, it's a solid 30K+ fixture (which is not true of many better-pedigreed titles) in series form; its first issue went back to press; and its first trade topped the charts. Marvel has also gotten behind the book and lauded it for its success.

Ms. Marvel is a very charming, well-crafted comic book, and represents both a better world for inclusion within the fictional universes those kinds of comics depict and in the sometimes even more distressing professional world where they're made. Good comics with better back stories are always a positive.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Lisa Hanawalt Won A James Beard Foundation Award

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After being nominated last year and losing, the cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt won a James Beard Foundation Award for Humor in the Journalism category, the first time anyone can recall a comics-related winner in a culinary awards program. It was good timing, as soon after Hanawalt and Drawn and Quarterly announced the publisher's acquisition of a book of food-related comics. Hanawalt's year also brought the recognition for her work on the Netflix show Bojack Horseman, now working on a second season.

The comic can be seen here.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Bart Beaty Challenges Comics Scholars To Write More Broadly, Do More

imageI didn't know what to expect of a keynote speech at an academic conference like ICAF, held this Fall on the Ohio State University campus. I also had never seen Bart Beaty speak, despite knowing him for almost two decades.

To my pleasant surprise, Beaty's keynote was a reasonably contentious one, setting a baseline of conversation over beers and burritos for the rest of the weekend. The two points I liked best were 1) Beaty's observation that a lot of comics material gets left out of academic study because of basic pressures to cover certain kinds of material over others, 2) Beaty's challenge to his peers to work more persuasively and potently within their academic frameworks in order to advance the specific causes dear to them and their peers at the conference.

I imagine both points can be argued -- I know they can, I listened to the arguments that weekend -- but what I like about this and feel was such a positive is Beaty used the occasion to speak to the value of the academic endeavor, in direct fashion, to those that might benefit the most. It's also one of the few times in comics I've seen a few negative positions not summarily dismissed as impolitic.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Raina Telgemeier And The Numbers

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It took a while for comics to find metrics and tools with which to measure accomplishments outside of the Direct Market. Compounding those difficulties is that some of the measuring implements available are going to work differently according to publisher orientation; this is the underlying nervousness about taking Bookscan numbers as gospel.

One thing that's become crystal clear is how much these newer numbers, standards and lists have revealed and then repeatedly confirmed a comics superstar in our midst: Raina Telgemeier. There are maybe a half-dozen ways of getting at what Telgemeier has been doing, but you only need one. Check out the numbers from this WSJ article: 1.5 million copies of Smile in print; 1.4 million copies of Sisters.

Another way to make a comparison is that non-mainstream comics-making careers for the last 20 years have been marked by cartoonists being able to place one of their books above the 100K mark. She's done that 29 times with that pair of works.

So if you haven't been paying attention, start. Telgemeier should come up with every mention of successful worldwide comics makers now; she's earned it.
 
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Go, Look: Sunset People

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Help Me Wish Comics People A Happy Birthday

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I like starting the day wishing as many comics people as have their information out there publicly for several reasons. One, it's a way for people to find and look at new material to see and read. Two, I think the reminder of how old people are or aren't serves a historical function that's a great reminder that this is an art form of artists over characters and companies and that their time is fleeting. Three, I do hope for people to have a very nice day on the day of their birth. I wish that most days, really, but that would be a crazy amount of posting.

I'm going to try and do a better job tracking down this information -- I added three names today to my usual two. If you want to help by submitting your own or sending me a link to someone's birthdate (it's the history thing) in a public place, I need to figure out if you actually do comics or work in comics, but that tends to be a pretty low threshold of discovery if you're actually doing it.

Update: To be clear just because it didn't get through to the first three nice people that wrote in: I need birthdates, not just birthdays -- I need the year. That's what interests me for the site, although I'm right there writing on Facebook walls and sending e-mail to my friends that don't want or have that information public. I'm always happy to take something down, too, and have for about five people over the years that didn't want their age known to the public (even though it was already public, just not that public).
 
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Go, Look: Some Frightful War Pictures

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Go, Look: Michael Dooley's Best-Of 2014 List At Print

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Michael Dooley at Print has selected a list of seven exemplary works for 2014. I like the limited number of selections and you can detect a clear aesthetic from how the list is constructed. I'm also glad to see that George Carlson book make the list; I thought that one was very good and I've seen almost no attention paid to it.

His choices are:

* Beauty, Hubert And Kerascoet (NBM)
* Comics Through Time: A History Of Icons, Idols, And Ideas, M. Keith Booker (Greenwood)
* Perfect Nonsense: The Chaotic Comics and Goofy Games of George Carlson, Daniel Yezbick (Fantagraphics)
* Puck: What Fools These Mortals Be, Michael Alexander Kahn And Richard Samuel West (IDW)
* Serenity Rose: 10 Awkward Years, Aaron Alexovich (SLG)
* The Complete Cul de Sac, Richard Thompson (Andrews McMeel)
* The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature: The World’s Greatest Kids’ Lit as Comics and Visuals, Russ Kick (Seven Stories Press)

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: You Had To Be There

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Go, Read: Buzz Dixon's List Of Funniest 2014 Dailies

imageIndustry veteran Buzz Dixon does a Best Of Year list focusing on funny newspaper strips; the 2014 version is up here. I don't know that I share Dixon's sense of humor to a significant degree, but I appreciate the specificity of his list.

Grand Prize: Heavenly Nostrils (October 12)
Second Place: Willy n Ethel (September 12) (link to search engine)
Third Place: Zits (December 17)
Runners Up: Strips from Retail, Dilbert, Cats With Hands.
Honorable Mention: Strips from Pooch Cafe, WUMO, One Big Happy, Dinette Set.

He notes that Heavenly Nostrils will change its name to Phoebe And Her Unicorn for a jump to print in 2015.

Go here for all of the individual choices.
 
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Go, Look: Comics From Crazy #7

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Go, Look: A Few Gil Kane Black And White Images

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Elana Pritchard documents in drawings her recent jail experience.

image* Todd Klein on Tooth And Nail #1.

* Jude Killory would like you to know about the Best of 2014.

* this is I think a first look at Zander Cannon's next big project, which as he mentioned while in San Diego, is monster-filled.

* every cartoonist with the time should want to do this. Or every cartoonist who looks at the world like I do and has similar interests and also has the time should want to do that.

* help Drew's parents.

* I have to say, they probably should add an infographic category to the Pulitzer Prize; I just don't think they should add it to the editorial cartoon category.

* before the holidays totally roar off into the rear view window, you might check out the entirety of Boulet's advent calendar images.

* I joined some others in answering a few questions from Tim O'Shea about this year and the year forthcoming. I tried to answer them honestly. I really am excited about digging into Peter Bagge's career next year.

* finally, Charles Forsman would like to talk to you about his year, in the hope that it might improve your year.
 
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Happy 32nd Birthday, Ethan Young!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Lynda Barry!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Naoki Urasawa!

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Happy 80th Birthday, David McKee!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Marc Sobel!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Andy Burns!

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January 1, 2015


50 Comics Positives For 2014: Jules Feiffer Declares He'll Do Long-Form Comics For Rest Of Career

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It was a part of his publicity campaign for the 85-year-old's Kill My Mother that escaped attention: Jules Feiffer has been telling people he's pretty much locked in on doing long-form comics for the remainder of his career, however many years he has left. Initially that will mean the two books that will make Kill My Mother into 1/3 of a triology. After that, who knows? The great thing about this, of course, is that despite having done some short novellas in his career, Feiffer is best known for his self-named award-winning newspaper strip. Kill My Mother is his first comic of this length. If nothing else, Feiffer proclaiming this sort of affection for the long-narrative format should be a shot in the from for an approach to comics that could arguable seem to have peaked two, three years ago.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Reprint Programs Still Exhuming Hidden Treasures

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It's hard to believe that at this late date we could still be reading wholly undiscovered comics in reprint form. Still, a lot of comics readers are beginning to suspect that the number of comic strips that are worth our time from comics' commercial-first past is significant and growing every half-year. My two favorites in terms of that experience in 2015 were the second volume of Barnaby, which contained work you might only see if you had someone clipping them for you, and The Bungle Family (1930) from IDW's Library Of American Comics line.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Joe Sacco Returns To Satire

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Before Joe Sacco was a journalist and all by himself, it seems, invented one of the richest comics traditions of the last two decades, he was a humorous cartoonist who did a lot of social satire. Bumf was initially presented as a potential return to that way of doing comics, which made it sound slightly retro and, well, nice. What we got instead was a full-on, mean-as-hell, furious and caustic response to the rotten core at the heart of international decision-making. If Sacco spoke this comic to you at the back of a wedding reception, hanging out on a balcony somewhere, you'd go straight home and go to bed. It's an amazing work and doubly so to come from a cartoonist that talented in completely different expressions.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Musa Kart Won His Latest Legal Challenge, This Time From Recep Erdogan

imageThe cartoonist Musa Kart was acquitted in late October on charges of insult through publication and slander -- which could have brought jail time for ten years. The accuser? Turkish President Recep Erdogan, continuing his own thin-skinned actions against cartoonist that dare to depict him on paper in a way he doesn't like and continuing an unfortunate world-wide trend for sitting politicians to control free speech by suing practitioners of satirical art. Musa Kart was no stranger to this kind of proceeding, having undergrone similar and major trials in 2006 and 2008.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Mineshaft Hits 15 With 30th Issue

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Mineshaft is one of the great comics magazines ever published: an ongoing, rueful meditation on comics and art-making that expresses and embodies the values of 20th Century underground/outsider culture (no matter when they were published). Its passionate contributors include Mary Fleener, Pat Moriarity and Robert Crumb. To last 15 years and 30 issues is a great achievement for any magazine, but infinitely so for a publication with this focused of an interest. I hope it's an accomplishment more people will be up for celebrating as it becomes 16 years/31 issues and so on.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Julie Doucet Attended CAB 2014

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One of the great "Whoa!" moments of the year was realizing that Comic Arts Brooklyn had convinced the great Julie Doucet to attend the 2014 iteration of their show. Doucet had stopped doing shows -- she had arguable stopped doing comics -- some years ago, but her comics remain potent and the art she's done since builds on a lot of the same issues and ideas she used to express in comics form. It was great to see her. She looked like she was having at least a pretty good time.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Bone Celebrates 10 Years At Scholastic

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One of the key publishing moves of the last 40 years in comics celebrated a tenth anniversary this year: the marriage of Scholastic and Bone, a partnership of unparalleld reach into the reading lives of US schoolchildren combined with the idiosyncratic, highly appealing cartooning of Jeff Smith. A special edition was born. That's been a fruitful partnership on both side and for all of comics.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: March Won Special Recognition At The Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards

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The first volume of the John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell March series from Top Shelf did not win some of the comics awards one might have expected. They did win an award much more in line with their wider mission of re-presenting the idea of non-violent protest as a legitimate response to political turmoil: a special honor from last Spring's Robert F. Kennedy Awards. One thing that was really great about that as has been fascinating about the March PR campaign more generally is that seeing people, including Lewis, who might be eligible for a role in the book, underline how not every long ago all of those events portrayed are. The context for discussions of race has changed mightily since last Spring, and how that has any impact at all -- if at all -- on the reception facing Volume 2 is something of extreme interest to me.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: The Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson Exhibit At The Billy Ireland

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For its second major exhibit and the first of its shows fully curated by full-time staff, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum hit a home run with a Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson pair of shows. The former, curated by Jenny Robb, kicked off a full year of Calvin & Hobbes memories and allowed the museum to both put on display the fruits of their massive Watterson collection and to put on display the fact they have things like massive Bill Watterson original art collections. The latter, curated by Caitlin McGurk, was attended by the cartoonist, who I'm told was parked in his wheelchair close enough to see people and reading and laughing with his cartoons. I know that when I took people to see the show -- I did twice -- the Watterson room allowed them to appreciate Calvin & Hobbes for the first time and the Thompson room allowed for many a first major consideraton of that excellent cartoonist's work. Just looking at all that material was one of my favorite comics afternoons this year.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: MoCCA Announced Move Out Of Armory

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The long-running MoCCA Festival celebrated a second year of operation by the Society Of Illustrators. The SOI first stabilized the Spring NYC show and has started to pursue a yearly strategy of a small but powerful guest list and showing off the host city. Its big announcement for 2015 was thus worth a big-time notice: they'll be moving from the 69th Regiment Armory and into Center 548, near a more actively arts-oriented New York neighborhood and a space that will remind many of the old and very popular Puck Building. It's not the only change they've made, but it should be the most symbolic if they can find that right way to mix a show with high-end, served-by-Manhattan aspirations with modest comics pocketbooks. A giant inflatable Charlie Brown shut down the Armory years; he was very popular in photos of the show.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Roz Chast Was A National Book Award Finalist In Non-Fiction

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Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? from iconic modern New Yorker contributor Roz Chast was as well-regarded and well-liked as any comics work that came out in 2014. Enough members of the traditional book publishing world agreed it made it to the finalist level for non-fiction at the National Book Awards. It was the first comics work to get to that point of honor within that category. One great thing about that works is that it's come out with some others over the last few years -- such as Joyce Farmer's Special Exits and Lucy Knisley's brand-new Displacement to recognize aging family members as having its own set of unique, heart-breaking decisions and hardships.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: We May Have A Small Press Comics Show In LA Now

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Comics Arts Los Angeles was just a few weeks ago, but its seemingly successful first year may turn out to be one of the most important comics news stories if it allows that city and a scene growing in compounded fashion a galvanizing, high name-recogition rallying point. The room was young enough to make SPX and MoCCA look like old-time radio cons, had a perfect place on the calendar and felt buzzy in the absolute best way. A city that boasts that many cartoonists, that many stores, and that many old-fashioned comics readers, needs a recurring comics event and they may now have one. For that specific community this may be even more encouraging given how many regional events engage with the more commercial side of comcis-making and all the related industries maybe more than the words and pictures one.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Tony Fitzpatrick Announced His Move From Chicago To New Orleans

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The painter and poet Tony Fitzpatrick isn't a cartoonist, but I'd argue his word/visual blends can be read very much like comics. In his best works, series of images on places like Ohio and his father's version of Chicago, Fitzpatrick tells in words and pictures the story of a place through feel and impression. He is one of the great figures of the great city of Chicago, which is why his announcement in April of a move to New Orleans is such an interesting piece of positive news. Despite the pull of the City With Broad Shoulders, Fitzpatrick seems called to a different completely world because it speaks to the way he makes art. May we all get to make a similar move at some point in our lives.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Pete Sickman-Garner Came Back

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I'm delighted when cartoonists return to comics-making after some years away, and my most pleasant surprise on the road this year was to see Pete Sickman-Garner at the Top Shelf booth, helping to sell the latest round of Hey, Mister! humor material. In an industry where two years away from the field can walk you right out the "young and promising" camp and into the "older and less exciting" compound, Sickman-Garner's time away seems like it's measured in ice ages.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: The Kirby Family Settlement

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Rather than risk the chance that the Kirby Family's case against the publisher might be heard by the Supreme Court using a persuasive, re-configured legal strategy, the entertainment company and the family of the late superstar comic-maker announced a settlement in late September.

Many comics industry watchers were startled -- although events at the end indicated a potential positive outcome, the last legal decision had been very strongly in Marvel's favor.

Although we may never now the size of that settlement, all signs point to an amount that satisfied the Kirby Family and they were pretty forthright early on in the case's progression when it came to asking for a significant financial reward. We also now know that Marvel could make this move and not be sued by hoardes of its own stockholders or collapse into a mound of jelly. Hopefully this will be a key step in building a proper public legacy for Jack Kirby, one of the great creative forces of the 20th Century.
 
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50 Comics Positives For 2014: Los Bros Hernandez Won Eisners

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There was nothing in comics more overdue, but it was still nice when Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez received individual Eisner Awards in separate categories at the Eisners last summer. It was each cartoonist's first Eisner Award. They both gave speeches that were entirely built from their own distinctive personalities, and the room was genuinely happy for these absolute art heroes and comics masters.

Now they need to be the first of the major 1980s talents to go into the Eisner Hall Of Fame.
 
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Go, Look: The Transition From 1914 To 1915 In Editorial Cartoons

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Go, Look: The CBLDF's Where The Money Goes Graphic

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

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Go, Look: Roy Krenkel Draws Edgar Rice Burroughs For Ace

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Happy 48th Birthday, Nick Abadzis!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Steve Hamaker!

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