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



















December 31, 2016


Go, Read: Carol Tyler's Farewell To 2016

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Go, Read: Buzz Dixon's Last Rankings Of Newspaper Strips

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Go, Look: Mike Shea

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The Comics Reporter End Of The Year Business Post

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the end of the year/beginning of the next, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

image* one thing I suggest every holiday season is that those of you inclined to have a little bit of downtime, and those of you who may put together a list of things to do in the next calendar year, consider adding "write a letter to a comics person you admire and tell them why you do so" to the things you might some spend time doing in the days or months ahead. Putting something down on paper, finding an address (most publishers will forward mail to freelance talent; I'll help if I can), and getting that out the door is fun: I've been doing it a couple of times a year for several years now (Marie was first!) and it's usually the best part of the week. I've been told directly it can mean the world to someone getting a letter. I hope you'll consider it.

* this post should come "below" a Holiday Interview on the scroll of the site. I hope there will be somewhere between eight to twelve interviews total. This is far below the glory years where we could do 20-28, but those are muscles slowly built. Since I'm focusing on people I screwed out of interviews earlier in the year, the series won't meet my own standards applicable to an assembled group. I seemed to screw over more men than women, for example. I hope you'll forgive me. My deepest thanks to all the interview subjects.

* an aspect of the site on which I could use your help is our birthdays section. By wishing you a happy birthday, we take note of your place and the place of others like you in the history of comics. We also introduce work and comics-makers to people not familiar with everyone out there. It's a nice nudge for your friend and peers, too, who can then wish you a more personal happy day. If you'd like to participate, Thanks in advance.

* my best wishes to you and yours as we start a New Year together. May it bring every joy possible, and every comfort necessary.
 
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If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Michael Talbot

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Happy 60th Birthday, Steve Rude!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Lela Dowling!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Julie Doucet!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Fabian Nicieza!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Joe Gordon!

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December 30, 2016


CR Holiday Interview #5 -- RJ Casey

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*****

I knew nothing about RJ Casey before he became a presence at Fantagraphics for his foreboding size, good-natured jollity and hard work. He was vital to completing some of the supplementary material for the oral history book We Told You So, and it shows you how times have changed that I was constantly surprised how attentive he was with his individual assignments and how quick he was in turning them around. If you believe like the last frontier the industry part of the comics industry needs to cross involves raising the standard of non-creatives until they're in the same neighborhood as the comics-maker across the board, RJ Casey is a positive move in that general direction.

Turns out Mr. Casey was one of the co-founders of Yeti Press, one of those admirable small publishers that finds a niche for the yawning need in the scene but soon slips from effectiveness as [arguably] better, [almost certainly] bigger gigs are found by all involved. Those kinds of publishers will be more common than the 40-year kind or the ones that are drummed out of the industry by not making enough money. Think of them as labors of love followed by labors elsewhere. Still, going from a smaller publisher of one's own to a small but bigger publisher of someone else's is a move that's not to be taken likely, and I appreciated RJ's patience in my asking after it. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Let me build your history in reverse. You're shutting down your imprint, Yeti Press. Can you talk as explicitly as possible about the factors that led to this decision. Is there something that could happen that would encourage you to call a reprieve?

RJ CASEY: The decision has been made for a while, I think both consciously and unconsciously. When I was teaching, making and publishing comics was what I looked forward to after a long day. Now that I do that full-time, I’d rather spend that precious free time with my wife. Or actually reading comics! After six years of running a micropress, you become especially attuned to very minor wins and losses and I think Yeti Press has a lot more check marks in the "w" column and that’s the way I want to go out.

The artists that formed the backbone of Yeti Press early on like Kat Leyh, Kevin Budnik, and David Alvarado don’t need me anymore. There’s no sadness in that statement at all, either. I wanted Yeti Press to be a stepping-stone or serve as a farm team, and it has fulfilled its purpose for nearly all the artists and myself too, in a way. I started to feel like I wanted to end it early this year and talked with Eric Roesner, the co-founder, about it at TCAF on the balcony of our hotel. We were on the same page. So, I think we've got one or two books left in us to publish, then we're going to call it quits at CAKE in 2017. Bring it back to Chicago to form a nice, full circle. I'm happy about the decision. I don’t regret it yet.

SPURGEON: Since you've at least seen an end for your line, how do you appraise your publishing efforts overall? What do you think your place has been? Is there a proudest moment? Are there regrets?

CASEY: We did well. We could have done better, but we did well. We've published several women, queer, and Latinx artists. We've had a book featured in the Best American Comics. We put out over 30 books that ranged from one-sheet foldouts to 360-page collections. That feels pretty great, especially for a company that has literally been running out my closet. We've pushed so hard to get these books, which are full of heart and humor, out into the world, whether the world wanted them or not. I think our total tabling count is over 70 shows in six years. That includes art fairs in Aurora, Illinois and zine fests in Tacoma, Washington. We canvased Indiana for years! I'm proud of that "Get in the Van" mentality we started with -- willing to go anywhere and everywhere that would have us to spread the good word. But it wears you out.

I'm not sure about our place. I hope people will remember us fondly. A few regrets would only be a handful of books that slipped beneath the cracks. Half of that is on me for being too editorially loosey-goosey with deadlines and stuff. The other half is because many of the artists we've started projects with have gotten more consistent or higher-paying gigs during that time they were working on a book for us. Can't blame them for that, but there are a few coulda-been books that would have been fun to see to fruition.

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SPURGEON: I think of Yeti in an inextricably linked way with Chicago, this quietly massive city for cartoonists. Can you talk a bit about your impressions of Chicago as a comics city, what maybe make it distinctive from other places, say Seattle?

CASEY: I miss the Chicago comics scene, as weird and as full of cognitive dissonance as it is. There's people from all genres and facets of comics in Chicago. I used to semi-regularly try to squeeze any advice I could out of Ivan Brunetti, Chris "Elio" Eliopoulous, Paul Hornschemeier, and Mike Norton. Those four supported Yeti Press from the get-go and I am forever grateful, but talk about varying realms of the medium!

I think that's what makes Chicago so great in terms of comics -- it's all over the place. Seattle is so encouraging, but seems more homogeneous. Everyone's making a similar kind of comic, and many of them are first-rate, but you don't have that wild Venn diagram at parties where children's book illustrators are hanging out with 'zinesters who are hanging out with seasoned corporate comic pros. I'm just idealizing Chicago, but that's what it felt like sometimes.

SPURGEON: It's a great place to be an artists; there's an audience for art that isn't just other artists. Let me ask one more question about the press from an outsider's perspective. Is there any support infrastructure for a micro-press in comics at all? You mention your pride in the reach-out you did, but did you do that because you had no choice and was that the entirety of your ability to get books into reader's hands -- direct outreach?

I mean, where were your books available? How much of the country were you able to penetrate that didn't involve you being in the room?

CASEY: Direct outreach was a choice because it’s what I’m good at. Going to shows and the online store served as the scaffolding the entire time. Some distributors have popped up, like Radiator Comics in Chicago that have sold a lot of our books. I also have always worked pretty demanding full-time jobs alongside Yeti Press and have always been realistic about its size and scope, and my own limitations. We have stores in Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Toronto that regularly stock up on our books, but that’s about it. The East Coast doesn’t know we exist. Kickstarter seems to be the new infrastructure, but that makes me a little nervous.

SPURGEON: What would you wish that's different for someone who is starting out on their own publishing journey that you never had?

CASEY: I think there are a lot more people to direct questions to, or at least learn from, than there were nearly six years ago. If I was someone who wanted to get into micropress publishing right now and took it very seriously, I would try to learn from the various models and examples set by Koyama, Retrofit, 2dcloud, Czap, Youth in Decline, Perfectly Acceptable, ect. There are a lot more great publishers that have found a winning formula right now than ever before in that realm. When Yeti Press started, those people seemed like peers who were also getting their sea legs. If I were opening up a small press now though, I’d look at them as success stories and stalwarts of this tiny industry.

"Success story" is all relative here, but it takes a lot of heart and drive to put out books. People who have published consistently for a long time are my heroes. Chris Pitzer is my hero! For someone starting out, I would say contact these people and absorb and learn from their unique rides that got them here.

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SPURGEON: Maybe take me a bit and tell me about your orientation towards this kind of comics in general. People in my generation were kind of slowly immersed in alternative comics, but at 30, these very specific kinds of works have been an option in a major way since you've been old enough to read and understand them? Talk to me about your comics reading before you wanted to do something professional in that space, how it developed.

CASEY: It all started with Bone, then Marvel superheroes, then teenage sensitive boy comics like stuff from Craig Thompson and Jeffrey Brown. My comic intake floodgates have been constantly expanding since then. I’ve probably read at least one comic, or a portion of a larger work, nearly every day for the last decade or so. I’m always wanting to go back and discover something that’s been overlooked or find artists that have influenced my favorites or just be wowed. I think I’m becoming a better reader. Little details in panels get me more excited now than a 400 page hardcover. You mention my age -- I'm lucky enough now that everything is reasonably easy to track down. There are all the reprints, the big conventions with backlist boxes, online dealers. I just bought a 1980 copy of Young Lust online for like $7 last week because it had a few Melinda Gebbie and M.K. Brown pages in it. I don’t think people older than me had this luxury. My reading has probably slowed down a little bit since I’ve started working professionally in comics. I’ve gotten to be much more critical, for better or for worse, that’s for sure.

SPURGEON: What's an average day like for you at Fantagraphics? What is that office like now other than much, much calmer than it might have been 10 and 20 years ago?

CASEY: I get in really early and catch up on emails and anything left over from the day before. After that, it’s always something new. There’s really no average day. I help with editing, I pitch our books to foreign publishers, I manage our digital sales with comiXology, Google Play, etc., I assist in many of the FU Press books, answer permissions requests. I’ve done a little invoicing and accounting work. My business card says “Rights & Operations,” but I’m really like Gary’s assistant and a spreadsheet Renaissance man! The office is great. Kristy Valenti and Jacq Cohen are the best at what they do in the whole world. Keeli Mccarthy has some kind of next level designer samurai skills going right now. I’m confident in all my co- workers and the books we put out.

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SPURGEON: Talk to me about the reviewing you've been doing... what makes you want to write about comics, and what role do you think that kind of writing has? Not everyone thinks that writing about art, let alone writing about art for the Journal, is a valuable way to spend your time.

CASEY: Oh, it isn’t. But writing about comics and art in general -- I had a blog last year where I wrote about a different artist and why their work spoke to me each week for a year -- has made me a better person. Or at least a more pretentious one. But for real, I think since I started writing more seriously about a year or two ago, the way I view art, literature, and the world around me has changed. I think it’s made me more empathetic and emotional. I get enthusiastic and stirred up about little things almost daily. Universally, I don’t know what role my interviews and reviews, or anyone else’s, have. You, the basketball blog FreeDarko, and comics bloggers like Tucker Stone, Joe McCulloch, David Brothers, Chris Mautner, and Abhay Khosla made me want to be a writer way back when. You’re partly to blame for this! I love seeing my name on the TCJ site though. I take a lot of pride in that.

SPURGEON: Is it true you commute in from Tacoma? Do you live near the Bagges? That's not something we would have considered back in the day, and I wondered after that decision upon hearing that's how you were were set up. There's something that's so normal about commuting that we don't think of a lot of alt-comics job where that'ss a possibility, if you understand me.

CASEY: I do commute from Tacoma everyday and live pretty close to the Bagges. I used to commute everyday when I was teaching, so it’s nothing new to me. It’s all worth it when I get to go back to my house in a city where I enjoy living. I didn’t really get along well with Seattle. I used to live a 10-minute- walk away from the office, but me and my wife, who’s a physical therapist with a doctorate degree, couldn’t afford to live in anything more than a studio apartment in Seattle. It takes an hour to drive to work now, but Tacoma feels more like home than Seattle ever did. Feels more like Chicago, that’s for sure. Tacoma’s a bit more blue collar and rough around the edges, and Seattle is now embedded with tech people who have social skills ranging from zero to Reddit. I could keep ranting about Seattle and I’ve only lived here a few years. I hope
I answered your question.

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SPURGEON: Tell me about the best comic you worked on this year and the best comic you read that has nothing to do with Fantagraphics.

CASEY: I did a lot of behind-the- scenes stuff on The Complete Wimmen's Comix. I had never read any of those comics before and a lot of them blew me away. It’s just a treasure trove. What Am I Doing Here? by Abner Dean was my favorite comic of the year, but of course that's a reprint. New stuff? I couldn't just pick one... Beverly by Nick Drnaso, Unwell by Tara Booth, She's Done it All! by Benjamin Urkowitz, How to Make Comics by Caitlin Skaalrud, Blammo #9 by Noah Van Sciver, Frontier by Richie Pope. I've got a list.

imageSPURGEON: From your perspective, what's going on right now in alternative comics that we don't pay enough attention to?

CASEY: The past. The Underground era has been pretty well covered in terms of the artists, but there were publishers and distributors risking real jail time to put out boundary-pushing books. I'd really like to interview George DiCaprio sometime. Even alternative comics and artists from the '80s and '90s are being forgotten. I have some issues with that obsession to always find the newest, youngest, hottest thing. That’s in comics and in all media. I’ve written more pointedly about this in the past, but we can’t just forget about artists with impressive bodies of work or unique styles just because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the day. An appreciation and discovery of the artists and writers that came before us -- that’s something alternative comics doesn’t pay enough attention to.

SPURGEON: So without the press where are you five years from now in terms of working in comics? Do you still have ambitions for working in this space? How much of this is just you turning 30, RJ?

CASEY: In five years, I'm hopefully still with Fantagraphics. My long-term goal is to never leave comics at this point. I'd like to continue to get better at the many facets of my job and establish myself more in the company. I'd like to eventually be lead editor on a book. I'd like to continue to write about comics and interview artists. I'd like to see my name in a print version of The Comics Journal. I have a lot of ambitions and goals, but they basically boil down to supporting artists any way I can for the rest of my life. I'm 30 now. I'm in my prime! Let's do it!

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* RJ Casey
* Yeti Press
* Fantagraphics Books

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* photo of Casey provided by Casey; photo taken by Chris Anthony Diaz.
* Yeti Press logo
* original Chicago cartoonist great John McCutcheon
* Blankets
* snapshot of recent work for TCJ
* George DiCaprio's Greaser Comics
* Yeti Press poster [below]

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: Michelle Cooney

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Go, Look: Vox.com Writers Pick 10 Comics For 2016

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Here. This is all what I would call high-end mainstream work, but I know there's another way of looking at comics that sees this as a wildly diverse selection of titles. I guess some year I'll stop being made curious by lists like this one.

It's not like list-making is a bloodsport, though, and if you're a snob like me and you're thinking "Hey that was a pretty good issue of Ganges" halfway through someone else's comics list, remember that a list that comes at comics from a different direction can be super-useful in identifying works you might not be as familiar with. If you do read all of these series, like I do, it's fun to know what other people think of them.

9) The Legend Of Wonder Woman, Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon (DC)
8) Monstress, Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda (Image)
7) Bitch Planet, Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Valentine de Landro (Image)
6) Paper Girls, Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)
5) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)
4) Midnighter and Apollo, Steve Orlando and Fernando Blanco (DC)
3) The Flintstones, Mark Russell and Steve Pugh (DC)
2) Vision, Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire (Marvel)
1) Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image); The Wicked + The Divine, Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen (Image) -- TIE

Congrats to all of those named!
 
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Go, Look: Brian Elig

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Go, Look: Michael Dooley's Designer-Driven Best Of 2016 For Print Magazine

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Click through the image or here for the full list. Dooley uses a lot of art given Print's area of focus, so those area always fun articles to look at even if you're not engaged with the choices. The choices strike me as solid, though.

* Best Meta-Biography of a Fictional Southeast Asian Cartoonist: The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, Sonny Liew
* Best Meta-Biography of an Alcoholic Norwegian Artist: Munch, Steffen Kverneland
* Best Future Visions by a Drug-Addicted Norwegian Artist: Soft City, Hariton Pushwagner (pictured above)
* Best Dada Fotonovela by a Canadian Cartoonist: Carpet Sweeper Tales, Julie Doucet
* Best Satirical Depression Noir: Cousin Joseph, Jules Feiffer
* Best Intro to Independent European Comics Artists: Spanish Fever: Stories by the New Spanish Cartoonists, Santiago Garcia (Editor)
* Best Critical Analysis of a Superhero Writer-Artist: Frank Miller's Daredevil and the Ends of Heroism, Paul Young
* Best Hybrid Media Profile of a Canadian Cartoonist: Seth's Dominion, Seth and Luc Chamberland
* Best History Book about Revolutionary Cartoonists: She Changed Comics: The Untold Story of the Women Who Changed Free Expression In Comics!, Betsy Gomez (Editor)
* Best Biography of America’s Most Important Newspaper Comics Artist: Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White, Michael Tisserand
* Best Reprint of a Satirical Comics Magazine that Lasted Only Two Issues: Trump: The Complete Collection, Harvey Kurtzman; Denis Kitchen and John Lind (Editors)
* Best Remarkable Renderings of Golden Age Comic Book Figures: More Heroes Of The Comics: Portraits Of The Legends Of Comic Books, Drew Friedman
* Best Slipcased, Accordion-Fold Revival of a Political Artist: Si Lewen's Parade: An Artist's Odyssey, Si Lewen

If nothing else, this makes me want to catch up with the few from this list I haven't read yet, which is perhaps the best outcome.
 
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Go, Look: Ilana Blady

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The Comics Reporter End Of The Year Business Post

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the end of the year/beginning of the next, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

image* one thing I suggest every holiday season is that those of you inclined to have a little bit of downtime, and those of you who may put together a list of things to do in the next calendar year, consider adding "write a letter to a comics person you admire and tell them why you do so" to the things you might some spend time doing in the days or months ahead. Putting something down on paper, finding an address (most publishers will forward mail to freelance talent; I'll help if I can), and getting that out the door is fun: I've been doing it a couple of times a year for several years now (Marie was first!) and it's usually the best part of the week. I've been told directly it can mean the world to someone getting a letter. I hope you'll consider it.

* this post should come "below" a Holiday Interview on the scroll of the site. I hope there will be somewhere between eight to twelve interviews total. This is far below the glory years where we could do 20-28, but those are muscles slowly built. Since I'm focusing on people I screwed out of interviews earlier in the year, the series won't meet my own standards applicable to an assembled group. I seemed to screw over more men than women, for example. I hope you'll forgive me. My deepest thanks to all the interview subjects.

* an aspect of the site on which I could use your help is our birthdays section. By wishing you a happy birthday, we take note of your place and the place of others like you in the history of comics. We also introduce work and comics-makers to people not familiar with everyone out there. It's a nice nudge for your friend and peers, too, who can then wish you a more personal happy day. If you'd like to participate, Thanks in advance.

* my best wishes to you and yours as we start a New Year together. May it bring every joy possible, and every comfort necessary.
 
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Go, Look: Jason Das

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By Request Extra: Brandon Rude's GoFundMe Is Ongoing

Here. He looks like a nice young man. If you've enjoyed any of Steve Rude's comics or artistic efforts more generally over the year, I hope you'll consider pitching in. Steve's 60th is tomorrow, and that would be a lovely present.
 
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If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Bikeyface

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on El Diablo and Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2. Todd Klein on Green Lanterns #3. Johanna Draper Carlson on The Time Museum. Joe Gordon on Ian Fleming's James Bond: Hammerhead #1. Rob Clough on the work from a smattering of CCS students. Scott Cederlund on Midnight Of The Soul.

* Rebecca Roher returns to CCS.

* not comics: this person hates self-publishing. You usually see articles swinging the other direction, so this one is interesting for that alone. As always, comics and books look at self-publishing differently.

* good gravy, these sound like plots from superhero comic books.

* go, read: Cullen Bunn talks about various set-ups related to writing.

* Abhay Khosla's Best Of 2016.

* finally, I'm not certain I've seen these particular bits of Jack Kirby's artwork.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, TJ Kirsch!

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December 29, 2016


CR Holiday Interview #4 -- Sammy Harkham

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*****

imageI've known Sammy Harkham for what seems like a thousand years, since I first took notice of his set-up selling early issues of his anthology-for-the-ages Kramer's Ergot at a San Diego Con back when they still didn't use the full exhibition floor. That anthology shot to the front of the line with the thunderclap of its powder-blue Mat Brinkman-covered issue that looked like the bundles of comics 1970s FOOM readers used to store on their shelves. It's one of the few comics that certain readers aged 35-50 can remember encountering as an adult right down to the position of the table on the MoCCA Festival floor.

For the latest issue of the anthology, Harkham has partnered with alt-comics pioneer Fantagraphics. I thought this issue of Kramers was a strong one, but I hope Sammy will understand that I was interested in the reaction some had that the anthology had lost something from its glory issues. The effort when people stop projecting onto a creative project are usually the most creatively insightful, and I felt that way about this year's KE issue. Harkham is devoted to good comics, to mixing them together, to drawing delicate effect out of their presentation.

He's also a compelling cartoonist, and a significant advocate for creators within the art-comics realm. I love talking to him.

Please note that this year's CR Holiday Interview them is "publishing as many interviews as possible that I tried to do in the calendar year 2016 and screwed up getting them out there." I sent Harkham the initial bunch of questions here mid-summer. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Can you place me in terms of where you are with Vol. 9 right now -- are you still in that active sales period? Are you appearing places on its behalf?

SAMMY HARKHAM: I am six months late with responding to these questions. So you better hope I am done promoting it! [Spurgeon laughs]

I did a handful of events in the Spring-Summer, and most went well. I did whatever interviews people proposed, except one that was comically impossible to schedule. I don't think authors -- or editors in this case -- decide when they stop promoting a book; the world decides that for you.

There was less press attention on this Kramers, I think. I may be quantifiably wrong on that, but to quote many a Trump supporter: "It's how I feel."

To answer your question of where am I now with it, I am not embarrassed of it, I am proud of it and the time I spent on it. I have one copy on the shelf I need to send to a friend, and I am wondering what my contributor discount is so I can get some to send to some other deserving friends. Doing the issue wasn't a disaster on my time.

I think we discussed this in our last conversation, that my worry with doing Kramers is that it takes energy and time away from Crickets, and my strip, Blood Of The Virgin. And it did, but not as much as usual. So there is still personal growth to be had there-to release an issue, give it whatever attention it needs for promotion, and still not lose a minute that would have gone into Crickets.

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SPURGEON: How long in general do you feel like you spend with an issue after it comes out -- both just making sure it gets out there, and the mental space it might still occupy? Were there issues harder to shake than others, that lingered on in the front of your mind?

HARKHAM: Most times that I get back a printed copy of something I have done, there are varying degrees of disappointment, followed by slowly getting over those disappointments, promising myself to learn from the mistakes, and then sliding a copy on the shelf and not looking at it closely for a few years. Once something is done, and I can measure in the final product the process I used versus the execution yielding the final result, I try to just lock in something of worth, of learning, and move on to the next thing. If I dwell on mistakes after knowing what I did wrong, its not beneficial to whatever comes next. A few years go by, I see an old issue and I look at it fresh and see fresh mistakes I made and learn even more from the book.

Concurrently with dealing with the final product, I fight the urge to badger the publisher about everything I would genuinely like to know where every single copy has been sold. That would make me very happy. 

I will do any and all events that make sense. That usually is a period of three months (maybe a month before it comes out, and two months after).

I like Kramers 9 a lot. There are a lot of great comics in there. I am so grateful for the cartoonists who gave me work to put in it. I like the final product a lot. It is very close to the book I imagined from the start.

imageSPURGEON: How do you see the role that Kramers plays for the artists that contribute? I remember when Eric Reynolds was doing MOME, and he said one of this goals was to keep the artists he was publishing working on at least one top-of-their-game comic for print publication. How do you view Kramers for the artists? A showcase? A way to remind people they're out there? A graduation to a bigger, more prestigious audience?

HARKHAM: No no no, that last idea is especially delusional. I don't think that. "Bigger" in this instance is questionable. There is nothing quantifiable there. Same with "prestigious." I suppose "remind people they're out there" and "showcase" kind of work in the sense that those are goals or byproducts of everything that's made to some degree, and sometimes yes I get excited about publishing someone like Kim Deitch who is making the best work of his life right now and placing him next to Abraham Diaz a young cartoonist from Mexico City who few have seen before. Or starting the book with a Steve Weissman story that goes beyond what people may know of his work.

It's always exciting if you can mess with expectations or surprise the reader. But those are not guiding principals or a shot in the arm to the contributors. I'm lucky they trust me, or I'm lucky the industry is so small there are so few options to work with people outside whatever immediate project they have in front of them that contributing to an anthology they like for little money is their idea of a good time. [Spurgeon laughs]

As a cartoonist myself, I know I want to be involved with good people on good projects if it's not Crickets. and most cartoonists are like that. Even if they are busy, they want to do something for a series they like because the end result-a good, nice-looking book they can be proud of. If they get new readers from that or remind readers they are still kicking the can, great. That's a nice byproduct.

SPURGEON: Do you feel like Kramers and the ability to run short stories acts as a corrective at all for cartoonists who aren't particularly suited to the age of the lengthy graphic novel?

HARKHAM: I used to, and then I realized I am an idiot. [Spurgeon laughs]

The age of the serious graphic novel is maybe a myth in many ways -- and always has been, if we look at it from the creative perspective. From Gary Groth's perspective, the last 16 years have been a whole new world of shifting appreciation for comics outside of comic book stores, but the work itself is pretty much as we know it, despite being packaged and sold as graphic novels.



I'm looking over my piles of 2016. Amongst the graphic novels like Clowes' Patience, DeForge's Big Kids and Shaw's Cosplayers, I see many more strip collections and short story collections like Katchor's Cheap Novelties, Chippendale's Puke Force, Davidson's Band for Life, Brown's Mary Wept…, Nick Drnaso's Beverly, Hensley's Sir Alfred, the NYRBC Abner Dean book, Hanawalt's Hot Dog Taste Test. So I think if you are doing comics, regardless of length, once you hit enough pages a publisher can stick a spine to it, it will be called a graphic novel and sold in stores.

But: to clarify, graphic novels are not a myth outside of alternative comics -- the young adult stuff, the comics that come out from the giant prose publishing houses -- the comics memoirs, the comics biography of a famous person, etc. Those are all novels with one-sentence pitches attached to them and they almost all read like the cynical hastily assembled cash grabs that they are. No one I would want in Kramers is in that world. They are sentimental, shallow hacks. I have children so I read all this shit they get from the library. So much so that when a good book comes out of that scene, like Cece Bell's El Deafo, it feels like a weird, precious miracle.

To answer what I think you are really trying to get at, what Kramers hopefully does is give cartoonists a context where cartooning, the inked line as a language, has value. That to me is the core of comics and what I love about the medium. It's not drawing as a means to something else. The goal with Kramers is to unify all these different artists, aesthetics, sensibilities, who all treat drawing as a personal language. And thats probably what I look for the most as an editor and a reader.

SPURGEON: Can you talk to me about John Pham, who did both the cover and the second-straight memorable comic of his in this issue? Pham always struck me as a major league talent who was never able to find a vehicle that might deliver the audience he deserves. I can't imagine wanting to change him in any way. Why this cover? Do you have insight as to John's career you can share?

HARKHAM: I think John has done things exactly as he wanted to do them, as confusing as that may look from the outside. He is very patient, detail orientated. So while he could have built a larger audience by sticking to a series or set of characters and putting himself on a set schedule, he was always focused more on where his own process and interests took him -- he never has been overtly focused on the career aspects of being an artist. I think maybe possibly getting a day job and a Risograph printer have been especially good influences on his life.

I asked John to do the cover because I wanted a cover that was really cartoony, took advantage of spot color offset printing, and had a visual connection to the roots of comics without being ironic. It was important to make the book feel sophisticated in all the right ways without losing a certain classic cartooning irreverence, if that makes sense. Especially nice is that John is a good friend who was open to some heavy art directing. So he showed me sketches, and I picked from those, and then we tweaked and tweaked the details till it felt perfect.

With his strip, he sent me the pencils and I gave him edits and he implemented them as need be -- concrete things having to do with readability and murkier things like treading that fine line of earnestness that his J&K strips have without it feeling maudlin or overtly cute. We work well together, I think. I didn't drive him too nuts.

That's not something I solely did with John. Most of the comics in the issue were edited to varying degrees, either dialogue adjustments, suggesting redrawing of panels, or in some cases, dropping and adding pages to different stories.

imageSPURGEON: The artist that caught my attention after John was Al Columbia, who has this enormous kind of larger than life reputation but I know was really important to you at a certain time in your artistic development. What do you feel about his work right now that made you want to include it? We've seen some Columbia pages between you and Gabe Fowler this year; do you think we'll ever see sustained creative output from him?

HARKHAM: Al Columbia was one of most important cartoonists to me when I was a teenager and his work sustained me for years. Each new story was read and reread and cherished. I would even buy and study comics that he colored for other people, like Catherine Doherty's Can of Worms. I love his work very much.

Above all the things he does masterfully, I think what I come back to again and again with his work, is how deeply felt it is. He called me on the phone, and I thought I was being pranked since my friends know how large he looms in my brain. We have become friends and share with each other work we are doing. Everything he is doing is great. As I was putting together the issue, I asked if I could include a couple things that I thought would fit well in the issue, and he said yes.

As to your last question, I think Al is more interested in making work than sustaining output, but he is also someone you can't pin down or ever be surprised by, so you never know.

SPURGEON: This issue breaks with previous ones in that it was assembled in more of an open submission style as opposed to your finding comics that it a theme an approach. Are there comics in here you might not have run in a past Kramers? Where do you see the direct effect of this new policy? What are one or two of the connections you found developed on their own accord?

HARKHAM: Well, any cartoonist who I had only a small understanding of, I felt like I could ask to submit instead of taking a "wait and see" approach with. Off the top of my head I am thinking of Adam Buttrick, Abraham Diaz, Antony Hutchette. I had read only one work from each of these people before asking them to send stuff in. In the past, since I tried to avoid rejecting stuff, I would have kept them on my radar awhile longer before getting in touch.

I started noticing certain thematic threads developing naturally in the issue. death, war, destruction, survival. overtly this is in [Dash] Shaw's Civil War comic, Diaz's World War I strip, Pham's J&K Vietnam veterans strip, and some others, and less overtly in Moriarty's series of cat paintings, Weissman's horse comic, [Gabrielle] Bell's autobio strip, and others.

SPURGEON: There are really only two pieces that are series of images in a way that some people might not see them as comics, but that when arranged in a certain way function as comics: the Amandine Meyer and the Jerry Moriarty contributions. Can you talk about what attracted you about those two pieces as they ran? Did you work with Moriarty in assembling his, or was that his direction?

HARKHAM: Meyer's series of watercolors were edited from a large series she had done and I just focused on on what would work best in the anthology context. Moriarty's series was one he had done years ago and I jumped at when I realized it had never been put in print before. he had created the order already, so we just discussed the introductory text and title page and how to best lay the series out.

SPURGEON: Most of the comics presented are very narrative heavy; much of their effect relies on the outcome of a plot and how we're made to feel about that progression of events. I'm interested if you have any insight why most of the comics were set up that way -- as opposed to more "tone poem" type pieces, or bewildering drawing -- and if that says anything about where comics is right now.

HARKHAM: It probably says more about where I am. I love comics that can imbed their poetic and tonal elements within a narrative framework so it feels inevitable within the story. I often reject stuff that doesn't feel grounded enough or have enough tension in its telling.

SPURGEON: Even with so many narrative comics of different kinds, a few stand out as wholly tradition: the ones that spring to mind are that fine excerpt you ran from Gabrielle Bell and the Manuele Fior. Do you see those works playing a different function within the overall anthology than something more raggedly told or something that's more a pin-up than an actual, propulsively read, comic?

HARKHAM: Everything hopefully contributes to the book's whole. Each contribution a building block to the overall "thing," each serving a particular function. So ideally if for nothing else than for rhythm, you want dense straightforward material to be elbow to elbow with stuff work that is the opposite. what makes it hopefully work is they all share an almost unconscious understanding of how an artist's line is the content.

SPURGEON: Can I ask you how you ended up with a lengthy comic by T. Alixopulos? I'm very fond of his cartooning but don't see it much, and thought that was a highlight of the issue.

HARKHAM: I have always been a fan of his, and Kevin Huizenga pointed the strip out to me, which was on Alixopulos' website, and I loved it so I sought it out to include in the book.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Is there any reason you avoided editing the issue in a way an older comic or comic might have made an appearance? That's certainly something RAW did when they operated in this mode, which is a model for you, and it's certainly you did last time out with the Wicked Wanda comic. Was that a conscious choice? Is publishing people like Moriarty and Kim Deitch how you get at the connection between old and new?

HARKHAM: On the "wish list" when putting together any given issue are lots of reprints. The industry being what it is, I have no problem running a strip that was published elsewhere in the "distant" past. Gerald Jablonski, Julie Doucet, Ed Leffingwell, Crumb, Alan Saint-Ogan, [Shary] Flenniken spring to mind, but there are many others.

I justify it by thinking a new printing of something already published can be pleasurably revisited in a new format for people who have read it -- different size, new translation, better production, and for other readers, most readers possibly, it's brand new to them.

Of course, I also get a little bit nervous that Kramers might slowly be becoming our generation's Hogan's Alley. This issue accidentally was all "new" material. And yes, one nice element when running a great strip from Moriarty or Deitch is creating a connection between a wide span of cartoonists.

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SPURGEON: You did a tour with Kevin Huizenga... what was that like? Kevin may be the major alt-comics cartoonist about which we know the least. What does going on tour do for you in terms of understanding the audience that's reading or selling your work? Do you remember any insight picked up this time?

HARKHAM: I agree with you about Huizenga. if we don't know much about him, the blame can't be put on him, as he has a very open and inviting online presence, with multiple blogs and a website. I think the soon-to-be-collected Ganges series is the masterpiece of the last ten years. When it's collected and released as a stand alone book, it can and should be on everyone's reading list of truly great comics.

Half of the tour included Pham as well, and it was great. they are both so smart that when its all over I am left with a lot to think about. By and large, cartoonists are fascinating people, with unique perspectives, so I like spending time with other cartoonists. It's inspiring for sure. 



As for learning about the audience and the retailers, it is all fascinating to me. Comic book retailers who excel at selling art comics are a distinct breed; these are people I am convinced would be hugely successful in any other field if they applied the same creativity and passion to something potentially lucrative. Bill Boichel, Peter Birkemoe, Gabe Fowler are like outliers in that they have bent the world to make selling comics a viable career choice. I love spending time with retailers.

Readers are trickier. I realized on this tour that I don't really enjoy meeting readers because I feel like my mere existence gets in the way of their evolving relationship to the work. it adds an unnecessary concrete dimension to something that is otherwise wholly of their own creation and keeps the focus on the work. I want my comics to be enough for someone to invest in, to fill in the gaps around the work themselves. This is a larger problem with social media and why I try to limit my tweets and Instagram posts to work stuff these days.

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SPURGEON: If as you said that you're doing this more as a RAW-style publication, you must be seeing new submissions, right? Are we still on track for a next issue? How do you begin that process?

HARKHAM: Yep. I've been asking people all year and I still need to email others. I am always forgetting people, and it's an endless thing. I will keep receiving submissions, building the issue, and contacting cartoonists to submit either for this issue or the one after that. The issue will be completed and sent to the printer when the working document feels well rounded and solid. Hopefully that's sooner than later. In many ways, it's not up to me.

SPURGEON: You spoke in 2015 about not know what your then newly-announced publisher Fantagraphics would be without the late Kim Thompson. Do you have some insight into that now you'd be able to share?

HARKHAM: They are pretty great. They pay on time, they answer all my emails and calls, contributors seem to be attended to as need be. They will go as far down into whatever hole I feel is necessary at any given moment and they give me creative space. I hope they are happy with me. It would have been nice to have Kim around when doing the book, as I like to think it would have given us an excuse to talk about Franquin and Tillieux.

*****

* Kramers Ergot 9, Edited By Sammy Harkham, Fantagraphics, softcover, April 2016, $45.

*****

* the cover to KE9, by John Pham
* seven- or eight-year-old photo of Harkham by Whit Spurgeon (we'll get new ones soon, sorry)
* Lale Westvind
* Stevie Weissman
* Al Columbia
* Michael Deforge page
* more John Pham (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Iasmin Omar Ata

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Let's All Toss General Love And Praise Towards The Beguiling During Their Big Move

All the best to Peter Birkemoe and Chris Butcher and the gang as one location fades and another surges to life.

The Beguiling survives, and will surely thrive, but that's a chapter they're ending by moving out of that location worthy of other folks' entire books. I wish I could fly up there and volunteer to hand-carry. Wherever they are, wherever they go, please visit them and buy stuff.
 
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Go, Look: Jenny Carolin

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Don "Duck" Edwing, RIP

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Go, Look: Gant Powell

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The Comics Reporter End Of The Year Business Post

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the end of the year/beginning of the next, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

image* one thing I suggest every holiday season is that those of you inclined to have a little bit of downtime, and those of you who may put together a list of things to do in the next calendar year, consider adding "write a letter to a comics person you admire and tell them why you do so" to the things you might some spend time doing in the days or months ahead. Putting something down on paper, finding an address (most publishers will forward mail to freelance talent; I'll help if I can), and getting that out the door is fun: I've been doing it a couple of times a year for several years now (Marie was first!) and it's usually the best part of the week. I've been told directly it can mean the world to someone getting a letter. I hope you'll consider it.

* this post should come "below" a Holiday Interview on the scroll of the site. I hope there will be somewhere between eight to twelve interviews total. This is far below the glory years where we could do 20-28, but those are muscles slowly built. Since I'm focusing on people I screwed out of interviews earlier in the year, the series won't meet my own standards applicable to an assembled group. I seemed to screw over more men than women, for example. I hope you'll forgive me. My deepest thanks to all the interview subjects.

* an aspect of the site on which I could use your help is our birthdays section. By wishing you a happy birthday, we take note of your place and the place of others like you in the history of comics. We also introduce work and comics-makers to people not familiar with everyone out there. It's a nice nudge for your friend and peers, too, who can then wish you a more personal happy day. If you'd like to participate, Thanks in advance.

* my best wishes to you and yours as we start a New Year together. May it bring every joy possible, and every comfort necessary.
 
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If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Ben Kahn

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* AJ Frost on Archie Meets The Ramones #1. Todd Klein on The Flash #5. Alex Hoffman on Hotel Rompo.

* a few of you have written in to note in a variety of ways narrowing down into one truth: with Duck Edwing's passing noted above, MAD has in 2016 lost key players representing 150 years of service to the publication. That's rough. What a year.

* as Zunar's situation deteriorates into standard, recurring harassment of all activities no matter how benign, those of us on the outside of that debacle looking in have to make strong, declarative demands in terms of the sweeping ugliness of what's going on. I've been watching this story for years and years and it just seems like a one-sided dick measuring contest at this point, with accelerated bullshit being the main result. It might get so much worse.

* I don't have the time during the holiday season to properly vet this comics-related contest, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention with that caveat.

* finally, James Kaplan picks some favorites. I'm not likely to catch the other posts here, so maybe bookmark according to the writer's name if you like this one.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Dave McKean!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Jay Geldhof!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Julia Wertz!

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December 28, 2016


CR Holiday Interview #3 -- Sarah Glidden

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*****

imageSarah Glidden staked out a claim as a significant player in the journalism-through-comics space with her 2011 memoir How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less. In that rare non-fiction hit for DC's Vertigo line, Glidden addressed issues involving Israel and her neighbors via the mechanism of birthright trips to Israel by detailing her own. A latecomer to comics, Glidden managed to bring fresh eyes to an experience through both her personal perspective and her choice of medium. It was a perfect book for young people ready to move past traditional comics fantasies and into an appealing, challenging narrative about real-world issues and one's potential place in questioning the status quo.

Glidden charged down an even harder road with her major follow-up, this year's best of 2016 list mainstay Rolling Blackouts. In the approximately 300-page work published by Drawn and Quarterly, Glidden analyzes in meticulous a trip to Syria and other regions of recent US interest with a group of roughly same-age journalist peers. A book about pressing issues and how we process them as journalism, Rolling Blackouts is one of the most interesting works about modern news-gathering in any medium, told against a compelling backdrop whose truths and quandaries and quotidian moments sneak into memory.

I was so happy Glidden took some holiday time to answer a few questions. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: I identified some potential tensions in Rolling Blackouts and its creation, and I thought that might make for the backbone of our chat. Hopefully, we can get to some areas that you haven't talked about in great detail yet. Or maybe not! I'm sympathetic to any artist at the far end of talking about a work, but I can't always help out!

SARAH GLIDDEN: I'm happy to get to do this.

SPURGEON: You've talked about some of the preparation you've done for the subjects of your trip. You sat in the back of a class on journalism. You studied some of the context about the situations on the ground where your travel was going to take you. What I wonder after is your preparation for process, how much you planned for what it would be like to collect the material you'd need to do this comic. You're still new to this. This is a second major book. How prepared did you feel about handling and processing the assignment ahead?

GLIDDEN: I prepared about as much as I possibly could. I had about six months between finishing the work on How To Understand Israel and going on this new trip. The book itself came out after I had left, but there was some time between handing in the final work and leaving for this trip.

I used the time to cram. Journalism school cram. I did a lot of reading -- there's a lot of books about this stuff you can read. Telling True Stories was one. That's lots of different journalists talking about their craft and the ethical dilemmas they get into. How they do interviews.

I also did a lot of stuff like I would take New Yorker articles I liked and diagram them.

SPURGEON: Oooh, that's interesting.

GLIDDEN: I would look at how they started with this scene, which I would label as this narrative line, line A, and then in paragraph three they'd start talking about background, which meant that they did research for that. I would think a lot about the works I really liked and thinking about how they were created. Then I went to Seattle for a month during the summer before the trip. Alex [Stonehill], the photojournalist in this book, was teaching a summer class at the University of Washington. He let me sit in on it. I did some assignments when I was in that class. I did some interviewing with Iraqi refugees here in Seattle.

Then I did a project I never did anything with before I left. Right before we went on that trip they were about to open this Islamic Center very close to the World Trade Center site. There had been a big... like, big nothing controversy over it. They were saying it was the "9/11 mosque." This was mostly reporting coming out of Fox News. More national, more sensationalist controversy. It wasn't a big deal in New York, where no one cared about it.

I had to go down there and talk to people that worked at World Trade Center and see what they thought about it. That was my first time going out by myself, going up to people on the street and talking to them and taking notes. It was very scary, but if there's any place to get your start doing reporting, then New York City on the street is a great place to do it because people just love talking. [Spurgeon laughs] They love to talk about themselves and what they think, and especially with 9/11 and that era of New York, people wanted to still talk about it even though it had been a long time. People were happy to answer questions about it.

So that gave me some confidence to do what I was doing. Mostly with this trip I was following friends that were very close to me, friends I felt very comfortable with. And what makes reporting hard when you're doing it in a more normal situation is that you don't know someone and you're trying to ask them personal questions, you're trying to build a rapport with them. With these people I was traveling with, I already had that rapport built. Like for ten years. I didn't need to kind of like tiptoe around how I talked to them.

It was a difficult trip and there was a lot of -- how do I put it? [laughs] -- different, difficult interpersonal relationships and conversations going on there with Sarah [Stuteville] and her friend Dan [O'Brien], and with me not trying to step on her toes. It was kind of like anything else. You just have to do it, and you're not going to feel prepared until you just do it enough times that you become comfortable with it.

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SPURGEON: What was your anticipation of obvious, potential pitfalls, like the fact you were dealing with friends, and you might have a difficult time separating what you were seeing and how you felt about it? You talked at one point in the book about separating out the fact that these were your friends when it came to a specific action you needed to take. Were the problems of this kind as you anticipated? What threw you for a loop?

GLIDDEN: I was totally unprepared for that aspect of it, and I really don't think I anticipated it at all.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Okay.

GLIDDEN: This whole project felt more straightforward to me before I started doing it. I think it comes across in the book that I had this very heroic idea of my friends and what they were doing. Journalism, before you start doing it -- some people hate journalists, especially now. I had this very noble idea of journalist, especially these friends of mine. I respect them so much and admire what they've done. So I went into this situation thinking, "Oh, I'll just follow them around. They'll show us how it's done." I wasn't really anticipating that sometimes they'd make mistakes or that they'd say things that later on they might regret. That stuff all came later, and I think that if I had anticipated that, if I had know that was going to happen, I might not have done this project.

imageIt's the same thing with the Israel book. I wasn't thinking about what I was doing when I started out on that project, either. If I had thought about it, "Oh, you're going to make a book about one of the most complicated conflicts in the world that makes people their most emotional when they talk about it" I would have been like, "Oh yeah, this is a really bad idea. I'm not going to to that." [laughter]

So in a way I think I go into projects sometimes with a certain amount of naiveté in terms of how hard it's going to be. It might be a good thing, I guess. You take on the assignment first and work out the difficulties later.

SPURGEON: One thing I find most admirable about the book is that you use this resolutely deliberate approach. You take the full measure of situations you find yourself in. In a way, this book is less about making strong points than letting reality sift itself to the surface in a way that exposes it, not proselytizes on its behalf.

What I wonder is how you developed that approach. When did you know this was going to be this big of a book, and that you would spend that much time on day-to-day realities and digging into specific conversations?

GLIDDEN: I guess... always. I have a hard time keeping things concise. [Spurgeon laughs] I would have liked for the book to have been even longer. The hard thing about doing non-fiction is that when you're experiencing something or talking to someone or listening to someone, everything seems important. It all seems important. So throwing stuff aways, there's a whole... we were in Lebanon for a week and a half, but I had to cut that whole section because in the end I feel like it doesn't add a lot to the main story, the main through-lines I was working on. So in the end it would feel sort of gratuitous. It didn't really help the narrative.

With the other stuff, I want people to be able to kind of pick things up on their own. I know what I do isn't that cool. [laughs] It isn't that artistic. I really am fearful of making stuff that's too on the nose and spells things out for people. I'm holding out for a measure of subtlety in work that isn't always that subtle. We're talking about the Middle East and emotions and earnest hoping that things can be better.

I'm always checking myself and making sure I'm not like, I don't know, making things too easy for people. I want them to make their own decisions about things. Some of the reviews for the book, one might say that I'm anti-American and it's clear what my political stances are, and another might say I'm too neutral. [laughter] I guess I'd rather be too neutral. If you can read this stuff and not come away with my opinion on it, that's good. I want you to make your own opinion about what this means and what these stories mean.

SPURGEON: Clarify something for me. You say you dropped the Lebanon sequence. Where does this dropping happen in the making of the book? Is this in a writing session after you got back? Is this later on, when you're assembling the book from material either half-way or fully completed? Is this while you were experiencing it?

GLIDDEN: It was getting too long. I have it all thumb-nailed out and written. It's in my computer now. My thumbnails are pretty detailed. I do the scripts first and then I'll do thumbnails so like Tom Devlin or whoever can read it.

I made that whole chapter and I wanted enough time in Syria to get into what was going on in Syria. Tom was flexible with length, but he said, "Try not to make it more than 300 pages." And so that ended up... yeah, that section ended up going. I don't know. Maybe someday I'll put it up on my site or something because I do think that material is interesting. If you look at it, it's like, "Yeah, this doesn't belong with the rest of the book."

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SPURGEON: There's a level of complexity in Rolling Blackouts I don't know has been fully addressed. One level of the book is this study of journalism in practice. You also have these real-world events you are seeing at the same time as the journalists you're covering. You have to present information about that, even if only to clue us in as to what the journalists are doing.

I wonder how you dealt with those subjects, how you made the decision what to include there, and what to directly assay. How difficult was it to approach an issue like the refugee crisis given your emphasis going in? Does that make sense? You have two different, fully-realized levels of engagement.

GLIDDEN: My whole mission when I went into the trip was to talk about how the journalism works. But as soon as you're sitting in on these interviews, and you're listening to people who have been displaced, you can be like, "Why am I talking about the journalism? This other stuff is so much more important."

I really struggled with that a lot. How can I have both of these things? When you juxtapose them, to me one seems so much more important than the other. But I think part of the message of the book is that this stuff is all important. It's important for us think about where journalism comes from, and it's important for us to talk about the Iraq War, and our role in it as Americans, and our decisions there and how we participated in what happened, indirectly or directly.

It's also important to listen to the stories of people who have been displaced by that war. It's something I was really trying to be careful about when I did the book. I didn't want one to steamroll the others. I didn't want to convey that these four white people wandering around the Middle East was more important than the stories of the people we were interviewing. But that's kind of going to be there because that's what ties all the stories together. They are the main thread of the book.

It makes me uncomfortable, I gotta say. Journalism is an uncomfortable thing to do. You're just going to be putting yourself into situations where you wonder if what you're doing is a morally right or not. Sometimes I want to make one of those cats book like Jeffrey Brown made. Nothing morally wrong about that -- everyone likes cats! [laughter]

I felt like questioning the mission of the book. Then again, I couldn't have gone on that strip and only focused on what we were encountering and not on the process of journalism and these arguments between Sarah and Dan. That would have been stealing the work that these other reporters did. I wasn't the one doing these interviews. It would have been me being parasitical who were being kind to me and giving me access. I had to put it both in. I hope I did it the right way. It wasn't easy.

SPURGEON: That's the overall message, that journalism encompasses all of these tensions and many of them are uncertain.

GLIDDEN: Yes!

SPURGEON: And that uncertainty is because... of the moral and ethical questions involved? You seem to have a "like it or not" attitude towards what might be the final outcome, or a final realization.

GLIDDEN: That seems like the message to me! You shouldn't run away from something because it makes you feel a little bad or uncomfortable. I think a lot of people are talking about this now, but as an American, as a journalist, as whatever, you have to be okay you're complicit with a lot of bad stuff. You have to be okay with the fact your choices are never going to be totally squeaky clean. You have to do your best and do the things you believe in and that you think are important. You have to think about all that stuff. You have to think about why some things make you uncomfortable. You have to measure whether it's still worth doing or not. With journalism, I think a lot of it is worth doing those things, even if it makes you uncomfortable to do them. I think journalism is a lot about making decision after decision like this on the fly.

I think I show the journalists I'm with making these kinds of decision. Like the heater. This guy we interview he asks for a heater and we can't provide that. We probably could afford to buy this man a heater, but there are ethical considerations involved with giving gifts to people you interview. You talk to somebody, and all you want to do is help them. But your mandate as a journalist is to listen to their stories and report on them as you're able, but if people feel like they're being paid to tell their story, that can have consequences.

Journalism is a weird and uncomfortable profession, but I think it's at least honest with itself.

SPURGEON: When I've conceived of Rolling Blackouts as a book about journalism, I thought of it as being about journalists, by a journalist. I've thought of it in terms of the straight-forward example that it sets, the complexities and moral issues involved, the boring parts of it, the connections between funding and results.

Yet there's also an element you talk about in other interviews I hadn't considered on my own, which is that this is a book for people that
consume journalism, that read journalism as a matter of course or might be enticed to do so. You talk about ethical media consumption and suggest that knowing how the sausage is made can be of great use in figuring out how to process such material when it's presented to you. This is lesson not just for the presenters, but for those in the audience. This is a huge item of interest in news right now. Do you think your book accomplishes those goals? Would someone reading your book stand a better chance to consume news differently?

GLIDDEN: Well... [laughs] I hope so. I hope the act of thinking about it for a minute, realizing that someone else made this and talked to somebody else, and figured out who that might be, and asked for access to them to get at the story. I hope that makes someone realize these steps need to occur to make journalism happen. It seems obvious when I say it out loud, but I do think a lot of us take it for granted. I did before I started hearing from my friends. I would read an article -- I would try and figure out the publications I trust.

The more I bought into understanding how journalism works, the more I would question those sources as well. You have to. How does this pretty good NPR report that only focuses on one side of the story, why is that the only side of things I'm encountering? Who do they not talk to? I've been listening to All Things Considered for several months. Why haven't I heard this other perspective I know exists? Just being reminded that somebody made journalism happen: that might help people being mindful of when they're reading something.

[laughs] I don't know. Mindfulness is something... I've been meditating for a while and reading about mindfulness. I'm a very stressed-out person, so it's helping me. The whole idea of mindfulness is you meditate to be mindful about what you're experiencing as you're sitting, but then you're supposed to take that out to the real world. You're to be reminded that you are a person walking around in the world; the awareness that you're feeling a feeling right now as opposed to being swept up in that feeling.

I'm going off on a tangent, but that's the way I feel about this kind of work. If you're reading a book about how journalism works, hopefully that will make you think about the fact that journalism does work at all -- while you're reading other stuff, or watching TV.

SPURGEON: So where does comics fit into that? Is it our natural empathy with drawn characters that changes the effectiveness with which you might put into the foreground these kinds of messages? How is this work different for being comics?

GLIDDEN: I think that comics can be great for narrative journalism because you will identify with characters a little bit more. You'll see them, you'll see their gestures, and experience the looks on their faces. That makes you connect with the character and place you into their shoes better maybe than prose where you can't see them or a documentary where you may feel a greater distance. I'm not really sure if that's true. That's the idea. I want people to read a comic, connect to a person, and then when they're thinking about this stuff, or reading about it in a book or another article or something, they'll remember that connection and that will carry forward into a different meeting.

I've been using this example a lot in interviews, but Persepolis is one of the first long-form comics I ever read. It made me identify with the character of [cartoonist author] Marjane [Satrapi] and her family. That was when I was pretty young, and didn't really know a lot about politics. After reading that book, I thought of her every time Iran came up on the news. That was my way of identifying with Iran. [laughs] I was reminded of this person that I felt I knew and thinking about that country and its history through her eyes. It stayed with me into other stuff I was reading.

These are real places, not fantasy lands. You get very specific views of a place when you just see a photo essay, or you see one photo a accompanying an article that's supposed to represent all of Damascus. I really like being able to show the parts of Damascus that look cool and are touristy but also the parts that are bland buildings. A building that you might see in the city you're in; the banality of foreign places to people. People have no idea what other places are like. I have a friend in Israel, an Israeli guy, who had never been to the West Bank. When I came back from Ramallah, he was surprised to hear they had cafes and tall buildings. I don't know what he was thinking. And I do mean this one guy; not all Israelis think like him.

There's something about comics that can show those places and show what people are like and show people that we're all the same. That's a cliche, but people really are in many ways the same. We all have lives.

SPURGEON: I'm sure it's been devastating for you to think about what's going on Syria, but does the fighting there change the context of the book?

GLIDDEN: [sighs] I had to give myself little pep talks to remind myself as to why it even mattered that I was doing this. I came to the conclusion that it's not really fair to say it doesn't matter what Iraqi refugees were going through in 2010 just because there is another refugee crisis on top of that. Iraqi refugees are still refugees. Many of them have had to go home because of what happened in Syria, but they're still in danger or they're internally misplaced within the country. A lot of people we got to know in Syria are now in Turkey. Their stories ares still important and still true.

So that was something I thought about and decided, "Who cares? Syria is falling apart and I'm showing Syria before it fell apart." I've told myself it's important for people to realize what Syria was. This was not... how do I put it? We have a tendency, I think, to look at places that are being destroyed by war and imagine they were always like that in some way or another. Even though we know that that's not true. People think about Iraq and they have no way to compare it to anything before the invasion because we just never saw that. We didn't really get to see what Syria looked like in the news before the war started; we didn't have a lot of reporting coming out of Syria.

Part of that was because it was really hard for people to get into Syria to do reporting int he first place. Part of that is because Syria as a country is not important to the main news narrative that we were used to looking at before the civil war. I do think it's important for people to see that Syria was a functional state. The people we talked to had regular lives. It wasn't always diverted streets and bombed-out buildings. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I want people to know that this is a place I could not have imagined anything like this happening. Dan even said, "You look at people here and they look really happy, but I bet something could happen that would make them pick up guns and kill each other." We were like, "Ah, no way." [laughter]

We think we live in a stable country now but who knows what could happen? I went back and forth about that whole thing. It was hard working on it knowing what has happened because it's also really sad. A lot of people we met are not in a great situation now. There are people I know really bad things happened to them. It's hard to draw someone if you don't know if they're alive or dead. That was really... really difficult.

SPURGEON: Let me move this over to a couple of craft questions. This is a skillfully assembled book. I saw a couple of articles about your solution for depicting translations on the page, with overlapping balloons. Not to go too much into it, but how enjoyable is it for you to work in a medium still new to the point where you can devise new solutions like that? I can't imagine in other media a solution as matter of fact as that one coming into play in 2016.

GLIDDEN: Yeah.

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SPURGEON: Do you find it enjoyable to work in such a nascent medium, where there's the opportunity to find your own way? I can't imagine a matter-of-fact solution like that one being available to a prose author. Do you enjoy that about comics as you continue to learn how to best use them? Are you grateful for the chance to experiment? Do you like the unformed parts of comics?

GLIDDEN: Oh, yeah! Totally. That's what makes it fun, to have these challenges. One half of you hates the problem and isn't looking forward to resolving it and wishes you didn't have to deal with it, but then you're thinking about it, working it out, and when you come across a solution it feels really good. That's kind of the way I approach drawing in general.

I know I'm not the best artist in the world. It's not easy for me. I like struggling with that stuff. I always work from scripts. The writing part is the hardest part for me so the script has to come first and then I draw. So I'll write whatever needs to happen and tell myself I'll figure it out once I start drawing it. I might give myself a couple of night scenes, or give myself a scene where it's raining. Having those problems that you set for yourself in the future, are kind of really fun.

The word balloons it took me a while to learn how to do it. It's like playing a game sometimes, and figuring something out is like beating the level. I do really like that stuff. With this meta-journalism thing, it's really hard: why the hell did I do this? A book about how journalism works is going to confuse half the names and is going to be several scenes of people sitting around talking. That's not good comics!

SPURGEON: Well, how confident were you in pulling that off? It sounds like it worried you. It seems you use the classic tricks: you move perspective, you create rhythms and then break them up... Did you gain confidence as the book went along? Do you feel better about the visual interest you were able to create?

GLIDDEN: I did. With journalism you have to accept it's going to be ethically weird. You have to accept with a book like this that you going to pages where it's in a room talking. It's going to be boring for a couple of pages, and that's okay. I didn't want to get too gimmicky and have the camera moving around and have every single panel be different to keep people from being bored.

You have to find a kind of balance. My husband is a good editor for me and he said it was okay if there are five pages of people talking at a kitchen table. You kind of have to do it. He assured me people will deal with it.

SPURGEON: My second area of craft that I wanted to ask you about, is something you've touched on a bit. You don't use as far as I can remember any kind of abstract cartooning; you don't use symbols to process an explanation. In fact, you seem reluctant to do anything, even background information, that involved taking the reader out of present-time narratives. Why is that? Was that a conscious choice for this book, or an ongoing choice for you as a cartoonist?

GLIDDEN: I feel like, for one thing, I wanted to keep this book specifically rooted in the present. It was supposed to be about the process of telling these stories and collecting these stories. I didn't want to do any flashbacks where people were talking, because that's how I would do a story about Sam, the guy from Iraq. I'd do a lot of flashbacks. Since I'm doing a story about people listening to Stan's story, I didn't want to do that too much.

It does kind of make me feel a little weird to illustrate something I didn't witness. I know someone like Joe Sacco does a lot of due diligence when he's doing flashback scenes for people he's talking to. The stuff he did with Footnotes In Gaza about having a map of the school, and having them point to where they were, he's very cognizant of something like what clothes people might be wearing, and I think that's the only way to do it. You have to be really careful about that stuff because you're making a lot of assumptions by illustrating somebody's story when you didn't get to see it. I feel like in the future, I'll do more of that than I did with this book. But it's something that makes me nervous and I know I'll be very careful about it.



SPURGEON: The color... I wondered if that was a basic challenge to make different parts of the world look different, the fealty that you have to have for just how different -- and sometimes the same -- places can look in a foundational sense. It's hard for me to make those comparison just in what I see, place to place. What were the challenges there for you? Is that something with your fine arts background you don't think about it as much.

GLIDDEN: I don't think about it as much. The art school I went to was so disconnected from the rest of the art world. Painting things the way you see it. Drawing things the way you see them. [laughs] That's something I default to a lot and it's frustrating to me a little bit.. I look at Lisa Hanawalt and how she paints in crazy colors that have no basis in reality. I can't do that. Stuff has to look real.

And for me, part of being truthful when you're making non-fiction work about places that people might have a tendency to exoticize, is to bring it back down to earth and defuse that. No, Damascus is not this cartoon version of the Arab world. It's a city, and it has some ugly furniture in the hotel lobby that is literally the same furniture as in the lobby at some hotel in Arizona. It's all made in China, anyway. [laughs]

Everything is very simple but it's also very specific to the real world.

imageSPURGEON: So you have this book out. And you have this two-month window where people are asking you about it and you're having deep discussions that you've probably prepared yourself to have. I wondered how that contrasted with the Jill Stein piece you had up at The Nib, which had no build-up and was just kind of sprung on the world, but in a way where you're plugged into an existing conversation.

What do you remember about putting that work out that way, and what came back at you, in contrast to
Rolling Blackouts?

GLIDDEN: Yeah, that is interesting. Like nobody really wanted to sit around and ask me what I thought about third parties, even though I have plenty to say about them. [laughter]

There's an ego involved in having a book out. You get to talk about it. People want to ask you questions. That's nice. There's something less self-centered about putting out short work. It gets absorbed. People will retweet it for a couple of days and then it's done. That's nice, too. Articles are published every single day, thousands are published every day, the people who write those don't get to go on tours and talk about them. This is even though an article you read in a half-hour could have taken months to get out.

It's funny. It's very different. I feel really lucky to talk about this book. And I really, really care about the book.

SPURGEON: Is there a preferred next step you hope people take, learning about journalism?

GLIDDEN: Nothing preferred. I hope it makes people curious, and I hope it encourages to read other articles about many of the same topics. I want people to have enough curiosity after reading this. I want people to know when I talk to them about comics journalism and my comics journalism specifically that this isn't an encyclopedic approach to the Iraq War. There's only so much you can put into a 300-page comic book. I'm really want them to want to go and read more, to want to do their own research, but if that was all, that was all. [laughs] You can't have any control over what your reader does beyond what you give them. You hope that it does something. So I guess that's it.

I would like people to remember that refugees are human, I guess. And that journalists are, too. Those are pretty simple things I think certain people in this country could be reminded of, but I'm not sure they'd be likely to read my comics. [laughter]

SPURGEON: You went into pre-work for this project immediately after finishing your last book... so are you maybe reasonably far along on the next thing?

GLIDDEN: I kind of didn't know what I was doing for a while. It was great that the Jill Stein assignment came up right after I finished this. I love getting assignments; when I was a kid I loved getting homework. [laughter] It was fun because I wouldn't have made a comic about Jill Stein. I would have had fun working on that piece. I started looking for something else to do, and the Trump campaign galvanized it. I had some idea, but nothing really grabbed me. "I want to do this right now!" A week and a half ago, I had that feeling. Now I'm starting to work on that.

I don't if I should talk about it... It's about climate change. Fine. [laughter] Something big about climate change. We'll see where that goes.

*****

* Rolling Blackouts, Drawn and Quarterly, hardcover, 304 pages, 9781770462557, October 2016, $24.95.
* Spoiler: On The Campaign Trail With Jill Stein, The Nib, on-line comic, August 2016.

*****

* photo of cartoonist by Sarah Shannon provided by D+Q
* self-portrait by the artist
* page from Rolling Blackouts provided by D+Q
* two-panel sequence from How To Understand Israel
* page from Rolling Blackouts provided by D+Q
* page from Rolling Blackouts provided by D+Q
* video of Glidden coloring a panel
* panel from Jill Stein comic
* cover to the new book [below]

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Mildred Louis

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Please Advise Me Of 2017 Comics Shows And Festivals

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I've updated my listing of comics shows for March to December 2017 here.

If you have a second, check for your favorite, and let me know what I need to add.

There are some interesting choices made by festival organizers for next year. The show I work with CXC, has settled into a late September slot for a few years, for example. Thought Bubble is like six weeks back this year. A lot of the big regional shows seem to feel free to move around. It should be interesting to see how things shake out.

any excuse to run this photo of Robin McConnell and Zack Soto...
 
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Go, Look: The NHS Caught A Bad Case Of 2016

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The Comics Reporter End Of The Year Business Post

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the end of the year/beginning of the next, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

image* one thing I suggest every holiday season is that those of you inclined to have a little bit of downtime, and those of you who may put together a list of things to do in the next calendar year, consider adding "write a letter to a comics person you admire and tell them why you do so" to the things you might some spend time doing in the days or months ahead. Putting something down on paper, finding an address (most publishers will forward mail to freelance talent; I'll help if I can), and getting that out the door is fun: I've been doing it a couple of times a year for several years now (Marie was first!) and it's usually the best part of the week. I've been told directly it can mean the world to someone getting a letter. I hope you'll consider it.

* this post should come "below" a Holiday Interview on the scroll of the site. I hope there will be somewhere between eight to twelve interviews total. This is far below the glory years where we could do 20-28, but those are muscles slowly built. Since I'm focusing on people I screwed out of interviews earlier in the year, the series won't meet my own standards applicable to an assembled group. I seemed to screw over more men than women, for example. I hope you'll forgive me. My deepest thanks to all the interview subjects.

* an aspect of the site on which I could use your help is our birthdays section. By wishing you a happy birthday, we take note of your place and the place of others like you in the history of comics. We also introduce work and comics-makers to people not familiar with everyone out there. It's a nice nudge for your friend and peers, too, who can then wish you a more personal happy day. If you'd like to participate, Thanks in advance.

* my best wishes to you and yours as we start a New Year together. May it bring every joy possible, and every comfort necessary.
 
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Go, Look: Animal Kingdom

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Go, Look: Bitmap Prager

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Art Spiegelman on Si Lewin and The Parade. Todd Klein on Shade, The Changing Girl #2. Alex Hoffman on P-FE/FRAF. Joe Gordon on Hawkeye #1. John Kane on a bunch of different comics.

* here's a wonderful thing: a big graphic file of one of the beautiful images from Kevin Huizenga's last comic, for poking-around purposes.

* I'm a big fiend for all A Christmas Carol related material, so seeing Roger Langridge leap in was a delight.

* I'll catch up and recommend individual installments but right now the range of Graphic Wieners' attention span seems very appealing.

* finally, I missed this signing and probably so did you, but you can read the comic.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Chris Ware!

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Happy 94th Birthday, Stan Lee!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Richard Short!

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December 27, 2016


CR Holiday Interview #2 -- Steve Newman (With Whit Spurgeon)

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*****

I invited the actor and writer Steve Newman to Comic-Con International in 2016 to do some work on behalf of CR. He fit in really well, and it was nice to have an extra person supplementing my efforts in addition to this site's regular photographer, my brother Whit.

As someone working in a media industry that isn't comics but that seems to value Comic-Con International, Newman seemed the perfect person to ask a few questions about what everyone else's Comic-Con experience looks like. Those of us in comics that have been attending that show for a quarter century or more forget how startling and odd things can be that we might take for granted. I'm grateful for Newman's patience in sorting through my questions. If the world progresses without radical, disastrous change, one thing we'll be asked about by young people in the future is this era in pop-culture conventions.

The aforementioned Whit Spurgeon joined in the conversation. That's him in picture #2 above. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: You have a general knowledge of comics. You were a little kid reader of comics.

STEVE NEWMAN: Yes.

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TOM SPURGEON: What were you reading? What was your interaction with comics like?

STEVE NEWMAN: I stopped reading fairly young, sometime around 10 or 11. I was always a big reader. I stopped getting comics around 10 or 11. Before that... it was anything and everything. I was a big Fantastic Four fan, the Jack Kirby Fantastic Fours from whenever I would see an old one. I'll still see an old cover and remember having read that issue. Little bit of Spider-Man, little bit of Captain America.

My brother continued to collect into his twenties, so comics were always around. Every once in a while I'd see one of the creepy comics. Those were disturbing.

WHIT SPURGEON: Like the EC stuff?

STEVE NEWMAN: I couldn't tell you what they were but they were strong stuff. Women being torn apart.

TOM SPURGEON: That could have been anything from EC reprints to suggestive mainstream equivalents to early alt-comics pastiche to late underground stuff. But it was certainly part of the mix.

STEVE NEWMAN: And Green Lantern. I'm a huge Green Lantern fan.

WHIT SPURGEON: That reflects my own experience, for what that's worth. I dropped out of comics around ten or 11 and then Tom pulled me back in at about age 14 or 15.

TOM SPURGEON: Because of your history with comics, you at least knew they were still being done. You maybe couldn't name specific titles, but you had a general grasp that comics were a thing.

STEVE NEWMAN: Sure. Elfquest was another big one I was into back then. Comics like that were always around, through my brother. In fact a buddy of his once did a version of... Dragon Magazine?

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TOM SPURGEON: Dragon was a gaming magazine of the era, sure. Table-top gaming.

STEVE NEWMAN: Those two were always the same for me, comics and gaming. They overlap. The people I knew that read comics were big gamers as well.

TOM SPURGEON:: That's another fairly typical construction that doesn't register with the same force the way it did back then. There's certainly overlap in the communities, though.

STEVE NEWMAN: I stopped with comics around junior high. I continued to read fantasy sci-fi stuff. I read [JRR] Tolkien and CS Lewis. I read the Tripod series. I was a big fan of a series called The Three Investigators. [pause] They were teenaged investigators. [laughter] And of course if anything had a Star Wars logo on it, I'd stop and look. Same with Star Trek.

TOM SPURGEON: You're right at the age to remember when comic book stores were becoming the primary location to buy comics. Do you remember anything about buying comics when this fundamental shift in retail was happening?

STEVE NEWMAN: It felt like people widely misunderstood -- at least from my experience -- the appeal of comic book stores. In Pittsburgh growing up, if it wasn't at the local drug store, chances are you didn't get it. There was only one comic book store I remember. It was Eide's. It was in a part of town we never went to. There was nothing in the malls back then to go to. So I have to wonder if their demographic was really small in terms of just being able to reach everybody who wanted them.

TOM SPURGEON: Speaking of reaching people, you've also worked in bookstores, so you have a knowledge of comics as a categorical presence in those stores.

STEVE NEWMAN: I worked in two independent bookstores in Chicago, and then one here in LA. This was 2004, so by then graphic novels were an accepted form to be sold there. I always had my eye on them. Neil Gaiman was a household name for a lot of people.

So I knew where comics was. If bookstores were a party, I knew where comics was in the room, even if I didn't talk to them. [Tom Spurgeon laughs]

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TOM SPURGEON: I take it you had the high-end graphic novels where you worked?

STEVE NEWMAN: Gaiman, for sure; definitely the best-sellers. Persepolis, obviously. Maus, obviously. The Pride of Baghdad. Bone.

This has come up when I've been with you guys. Bone has been a consistent when I was dealing with parents in stores and they're lamenting their kids don't read. I'd suggest graphic novels and they'd respond they only want their kids to read serious literature. I used to joke that I'd count to five to cool down and then walk them over to the graphic novels section and hand them Bone. I'd assure them if Harvard can give Persepolis to their freshman class, their kid would do okay.

I also have a place for books that were given to me over the years. My brother bought me From Hell one year. I devoured that thing. He game me the Bone omnibus, which I devoured on contact. AKA Goldfish. I just finished that about a month ago. I read them, but it's not my primary reading material.

TOM SPURGEON: My goal in asking you to come work Comic-Con was to give Whit a partner in crime, to meander around together and touch base with one another, while I was being dragged off to do whatever. I wanted you to look around and give me some impressions in addition to a few assigned tasks. You were nice enough to accept.

STEVE NEWMAN: I considered myself lucky enough to be invited.

TOM SPURGEON: So what broke from your expectations? Because you have fresh eyes. I certainly don't. Whit doesn't have fresh eyes at this point.

WHIT SPURGEON: Ten or more years in a row with you.

STEVE NEWMAN:: So to provide some context, I've known people that go to Comic-Con and have been for a long while. I have received their field reports. Someone I worked with in Chicago went ten years ago, and even back then it was a huge thing. He would joke that he could remember when it was 12 guys in a basement at the Marriott. [laughter] He and his buddies would go and get interesting stuff. I know the behemoth it has become.

imageI feel my expectations were set. I knew what I was getting into. And I feel for the most part those expectations were met. There were a few things. It was interesting to me that when you're outside the convention center, when you're walking the streets, it feels very much like Mardi Gras. People are in a good mood, there's a lot of stopping and talking, there's picture-taking. I forget that main street but everyone is sitting around having beers and talking.

I was surprised that almost in the minute you go in the door, the mood changes [laughter].

I even took a picture of it. There's this hunkered-down, just-get-through-it mentality. People come in from the outside and they're suddenly standing in line. And it's almost morose. [laughter] People can be there for hours on end.

We got there on Thursday...? We walked into the convention hall just after lunch and I noticed there were people standing in line who already looked like they'd been there four days. [Whit Spurgeon and Steve Newman laugh] Five hours into the first day.

I wasn't prepared for that, but I quickly got it. I understood it. By my second day I realized you are on your feet this whole time, and you're racing from the end of one thing to the beginning of another. It's exhausting. I thought I would have this chill, "I'm going to see what I see, and it's not going to be everything but what I see is going to be fun." It was exhausting nonetheless. I was surprised by that.

TOM SPURGEON: The sheer number of bodies between you and where you want to go has changed everything. You don't roam for the sake of roaming, and a lot of the decision making seems to be along the lines of "let's eat something closer to where we have to end up" and "is there any possible way I can get a nap." It's much more a survival mode than an aggressive "let's see it all" point of view.

WHIT SPURGEON: All these years I go in excited but the moment I go in the door it's like four hours before I need a nap. I can see three excellent panels in a row and then I'm like, "Woof, I'm done." That place wipes you out.

TOM SPURGEON: The three of us ended up having a less than great meal because of trying to find a place we could eat close to the Eisner Awards. [laughter] All those restaurants in town, but none of us could bear the thought of a solid twenty-minute walk right afterwards.

STEVE NEWMAN: Yeah, that dinner was okay at best.

TOM SPURGEON: For the two of you, as actors, does Comic-Con have a feel like a film/TV event? My hunch is that it may seem that way to those of us in comics in terms of pushback, in that many of us may feel we don't necessarily want it to be that kind of event. But in a positive way, do you see Comic-Con as that kind of event? Did you feel ownership of it at all?

STEVE NEWMAN: It definitely represents a portion of the industry that I recognize. It's not a segment that I've broken through to.

Whit and I were talking about this that weekend. I feel that the crowd there very broadly breaks down into two categories. Academic Comics Lovers: the people on the panel you led about Barnaby. And then there's the Hollywood element. The people that want to see the cast of The Walking Dead or watch the actors from Guardians of the Galaxy sign autographs. I don't think there's a lot of crossover. There may be a few of us like Whit and myself with a foot in both worlds.

I'm circling back to your question. When I sat in or paid attention to the Hollywood/movie part of it. It didn't seem anything terribly new to me. It was more frenetic, more crazy, but in a lot of ways it was like the advance screenings we go to in LA, where after the screening they bring out the director and maybe one or two stars to answer questions and talk to each other.

WHIT SPURGEON: One big difference is that Comic-Con caters to people that are maybe not film/tv industry sophisticated. So down there you have people that are very excited to see these panels, while in LA people are making the effort to appear as blasé as possible. There's only a small percentage that wants to run up and get autographs.

STEVE NEWMAN: I feel like the audience at those things tend to be more traditionally star-struck than what Whit and I see in a city where one might see movie stars buying milk.

But it was interesting. It was cool. I ended up walking into the back of a Walking Dead panel in Hall H. And it was cool. I was so far in the back I couldn't really see anything but the crowd was so excited. How many does that fft? Five or six hundred.

WHIT SPURGEON: Oh, more than that. Has to be a few thousand.

STEVE NEWMAN: Seeing that was cool. As an actor trying to become a more successful actor, you forget how exciting it is to be a part of that kind of thing.

TOM SPURGEON: You two are also filmmakers, together and separately. You've had short films out at... festivals, at conventions. Why do you think Hollywood has such a huge presence at this show and not as much at some of the other shows that are more film and TV oriented as their core mission? Why haven't they done one of their own in LA? What's different about those shows and this one?

WHIT SPURGEON: Comic-Con is much better attended. [laughter]

STEVE NEWMAN: I think it's only different -- and I'm wildly guessing here -- is because they chose to make this one special. I imagine they noticed years ago that people going to their movies went to this show and they sunk their resources into it as a result.

I have no doubt if the industry wanted to join forces and have a giant film convention, and they sunk their money into it, that could be huge. Comic-Con might suffer as a result.

TOM SPURGEON: Maybe. There's frequently talk about that. The Disney show in Anaheim runs roughly the same time now and they say Marvel might move their "reveals" to that show.

There's an element to Comic-Con that rarely gets talked about as much as the panels and trailers that I think has become important, these low-intensity Hollywood meetings sprinkled all over town. From a conversation I had in line at Amtrak two years ago, I know that a group of cinematographers meets down there. Comic-Con has their film festival... is there anything to that that appeals to you as a con-goer? Or is that a curiosity? Are those kinds of meetings an excuse to write off a comic-con trip?

STEVE NEWMAN: I would assume that most of the informal meetings in San Diego are like those taking place all over LA, and I'm not being invited to either anytime soon. [laughter]

WHIT SPURGEON: Pitch meetings.

STEVE NEWMAN: I definitely think there are pitch meetings. And when you have like the cast of Guardians Of The Galaxy there -- and I got stuck in that scrum, trying to go through the hall one day. They're having a meeting with Chris Pratt anywhere they can. I imagine that's true of all the big players. If somebody from Marvel is there and somebody from a Harry Potter adaptation is there, they're going to find a way to meet each other. If it's not at Comic-Con, it'll be next week up here.

WHIT SPURGEON: I feel like a lot of that supplementary material is geared towards the fans of the result rather than working film and television people. One exception might be Mark Evanier's voice actor panels because there are some real insights during those, and he apparently does one on Sunday about how to break in. I don't see a lot of that on the film end -- how to become a crew member on a Marvel film or whatever.

STEVE NEWMAN: Two of those I wanted to go to. One was the Russo Brothers. It was a 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM panel on a Saturday, and the line was too deep for me to get in. I went to another screenwriter's panel, he and his agent talked about how to be a successful screenwriter, and that room was about 3/4 full. Can't get into the Captain America one, but I could get into this other guy's, and he was a real player.

TOM SPURGEON: Comic-Con is expensive. For instance, the room the three of us shared on the site's dime was like... I want to say $365 a night?

WHIT SPURGEON: Good lord.

STEVE NEWMAN: It was a nice room, though! [laughter]

TOM SPURGEON: It wasn't that nice. [laughter]

STEVE NEWMAN: It was nice for me.

TOM SPURGEON: I don't hold a grudge about the prices of that show; there are a limited number of rooms. The reality of it, though, is that it is expensive for most people, and getting down there can be a chore and expensive, and, fundamentally, there are only a limited number of tickets to be purchased to the show itself. And people want to go.

This makes me wonder after value-added events, or some form of that eventually. In terms of fan service, it's hard for me to think we haven't reached the peak of that there. It's hard for me to think of any fandom as geeked up as the Twilight fans were as the movies rolled out.

STEVE NEWMAN: I missed all that.

TOM SPURGEON: That seemed to me the apex. We don't have that one thing right now.

WHIT SPURGEON: We don't have that nutty rock star thing you used to get down there.

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TOM SPURGEON: I wonder if the fervent desire people have to enter that industry might replace some of that enjoyment-of-material juice. It's just a hunch, though. Could there be a time when more actors work that show like they might work an LA film event?

STEVE NEWMAN: [pause] Our hotel room faced out directly onto the convention center and I think was on the top floor. It gives you a conceptual context for this. You look out our window on Saturday afternoon and there are thousands of people out there coming from all over the place and we were literally above it all, just across the street. We even had access to a press room that served coffee and snacks all day.

TOM SPURGEON: I did not go.

STEVE NEWMAN: Oh, you should have.

WHIT SPURGEON: It's gotten better over the years; it used to be an empty room where you could charge your phone or sit and type.

STEVE NEWMAN: The point is I'm aware that my experience is probably vastly different than the 19- or 20-year-olds that saved up all year for a ticket, are in the cheapest hotel room they could find, they're blocks and blocks away and have to hike it. My experience was really privileged.

I feel like they have to do something to address the fact that they have to do something that makes people want to come, spend all of that money, wait in lines for hours, eat convention center nachos, get caught in crushes of people. That just doesn't seem sustainable to me.

TOM SPURGEON: There are some inducements segment to segment. Like they do a good job having retailers offer merchandise exclusive to the show, like certain toys. I think that's a bigger deal than those of us in other industries might realize. If that's the only place on planet earth you can get the 400-Piece lego set featuring Poe Dameron or whatever, you eventually want to start being there for that. In comics they have some cover variants, or smaller publishers will offer material weeks ahead of publication date.

I think there's also a shift in the Hollywood presentations where they trying to make the panels pop for those that are there, and not just from seeing first what's going out to media sources 12 hours later -- or immediately. Like that last Spider-Man movie, where he fought Powder? [laughter]

WHIT SPURGEON: That wasn't Powder.

TOM SPURGEON: It looked like Powder. Anyway, at the San Diego before that movie -- or maybe the first one of his -- Andrew Garfield hid in the crowd of question-askers under a mask he pulled off. The oldest-school reveal. Pretty fun. I have to imagine if you were there you're still getting people to buy you drinks off that one. Mountain Dew, probably, but still.

How effective those kinds of things will be over the long term, I'm not sure. So I wonder if anything replaces it.

STEVE NEWMAN: I have a couple of friends who are heavy into Star Trek fandom. They're involved, they have a podcast, I think they're friends with the Roddenberrys. They're also big-time Twin Peaks fans. In 2016 they came for the premiere of the Star Trek film and then left. [Whit Spurgeon laughs]

What they've started doing is going to smaller conventions. They can go to two for the price of Comic-Con. They're easier, and they seem friendlier. They're starting to enjoy those more. They don't care about the event-status as much. So I would wonder about how many people would find that appealing.

WHIT SPURGEON: Tom's right in that the firstness of certain films or trailers or whatever lasts about five minute long now. It's on the Internet an hour later.

STEVE NEWMAN: I actually posted something on Facebook where somebody -- maybe it was Force Awakens -- got to see footage, and i found two articles of people describing to us what they saw. I thought that was so disappointing and so ridiculous. It's a spoiler but not even a full-tilt spoiler.

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TOM SPURGEON: Steve, you got to hang out with a bunch of comics-makers that weekend. Comic-Con is still a big event for comics. It's not the only event anymore, and there are legitimate enterprises in comics that don't intersect with that show at all, but it's eminently useful for a lot of comics people. I did multiple meetings each morning. The three of us got a lot of face time with comics pros at their events and panels. We went to a rooftop party held by Scholastic. We saw Jim Davis across the room in the restaurant Friday night and walked over to say hi.

STEVE NEWMAN: [laughs] That was easily one of the biggest thrills of the weekend for me. It really was.

TOM SPURGEON: I don't know what the Hollywood parts are like as they're directly experienced, but it seems from my way-over-here vantage point that there is a tremendous amount of gate keeping. Chambers upon chambers upon chambers. Rooms at parties within the party rooms. Private dinners. In comics, it's like, "Let's go bother Jim Davis right when he's about to eat pasta." [laughter]

At the time we went over to talk to Jim, it's worth noting that we were sitting with Jaime Hernandez who is the equivalent of a [Quentin] Tarantino or [Jim] Jarmusch figure, just in the comics world.

Did you notice anything weird about the way comics conducts itself in that kind of setting? We're dancing the same dance in a way, but in an entirely different tempo.

STEVE NEWMAN: Like we talked about, there is that broadly-defined schism between the people that are there for the Hollywood stuff and those that are there for the comics stuff. I know who Jaime Hernandez is, I know what Love & Rockets is, but it wasn't a big thing for me personally. I have friends where are massive Love & Rockets fans and when I mentioned that I was looked at with a stony silence that says, "That's cool. Hate you." [laughter] So that was fun.

I went to more of the comics/art related stuff. The one writing panel and the Walking Dead one were the only non-comics ones I went to. I went to the panel you moderated on Barnaby.

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TOM SPURGEON: The widely-acknowledged highlight of Comic-Con 2016.

STEVE NEWMAN: It was early in the convention -- and I wouldn't have know what Barnaby was until I saw the artwork and realized I had seen it. I went to Jeff Smith's panel, his anniversary celebration of Bone.

TOM SPURGEON: Jeff is very good on his feet. And he was one of the first guys to kind of do a friendly presentation as opposed to just doing questions.

STEVE NEWMAN: I think Jeff clearly realizes... I mean, Bone? Bone is a thing. When you think of graphic novels in the first 20 years of their existence, Smith was right there in front with a group that included Gaiman and Spiegelman that convinced people that comics were worthy of a deeper consideration. So to see him present, you could tell he was proud of it, but also humble about it. He talked about the history. And people were interested. He didn't seem braggy about it. He was very interesting to watch.

TOM SPURGEON: Are cartoonists different in front of an audience than actors?

STEVE NEWMAN: Yeah. It may just be a fame thing.

WHIT SPURGEON: Part of it may be how people relate to comics as opposed to how they relate to "stars." I think people may relate similarly to film directors and film writers the same way they react to comics characters.

STEVE NEWMAN: I think that may be fair. Yeah.

WHIT SPURGEON: People might lose their minds if they meet a real Spider-Man.

STEVE NEWMAN: I think people just want to be near celebrities. They don't care what the celebrities are doing, they just want to be within five feet of it.

Whereas directors and writers -- and comic book artists -- I want to hear what they're saying. Here's a good example. Whit took me to a screening of Pacific Rim. It was a fun movie. It was cool. But then [director Guillermo] Del Toro came out to talk and I was riveted by everything he had to say. It was a brain at work. It was a creative process at work.

I feel like that's what we get, that's what I go for when I hear comics artists and writers talk in a panel. And I think that may be the difference. As a society we have a very different orientation towards celebrity. "I don't care what they're doing, but I want to be in the same room." That contrasts sharply with the creators that actually know things.

WHIT SPURGEON: I feel bad for the actors that go down there that are legitimate nerds that have to get into a costume to have a semi-normal experience.

STEVE NEWMAN: So that nobody can recognize them?

WHIT SPURGEON: It's the only way they can run around on the floor.

TOM SPURGEON: I remember the last time I saw a bigger-name celebrity just roaming it was Quentin Tarantino, and he had this big band of people following him. They would pause when he would stop and look at something.

STEVE NEWMAN: Wow. [Whit Spurgeon laughs]

TOM SPURGEON: Now they just send their assistants.

STEVE NEWMAN: There were times when I was on the floor and annoyed by the number of people around me. I'd be more annoyed if I were famous enough I couldn't enjoy it. There are some really cool things down there.

WHIT SPURGEON: That far end of the floor isn't bad, but it's just so crowded. I love being in the indy press area, with Fanta and D+Q, but then you go to the other end of the hall and it's a different kind of person. People are jostling you. Pushing you.

STEVE NEWMAN: That was my one true bad experience. I didn't know I was heading into it but I was walking right past the Marvel booth when the Guardians of the Galaxy cast was there.

TOM SPURGEON: That's right, they pull them into the booths now.

STEVE NEWMAN: They have this stage, 30 feet, 20 feet above the crowd. And they have this giant screen filming it. The whole thing says, "Stop and look at this!" And the traffic jam there was so insane. I couldn't go back. People could only move one way. In a way, you can't blame Marvel.

TOM SPURGEON:: I can always blame Marvel. [laughter]

STEVE NEWMAN: What I mean is that's what they're there to do. But the security guards... were kind of jerks. [laughter]

This one guy said, "Keep moving... if someone stops in front of you, just push them." And I'm thinking, "You've just solicited assault." [Whit Spurgeon laughs] And he was serious, he said, "Keep pushing them, don't let the person in front of you stop." And I thought to myself, "That just can't be right." [laughter] This is supposed to be for fans and it's getting turned into Thunderdome to make this person's life a little easier. That was the one truly annoying moment. It was shoulder to shoulder, each step got you three inches further, and the security guard is in your ear.

WHIT SPURGEON: It never seems that those bigger moments lead to any kind of coordination with the floor stuff.

TOM SPURGEON: Comic-Con does a pretty stupendous job on the logistics end of it, but there are always new things for them to figure out. One thing you mentioned earlier is a big logistics win for them, that you were able to get into a prime programming session, a Walking Dead panel, without sacrificing your entire day to do so. For a while they were jammed up to the point you could not do that.

The lines and all of that mess is something they're good at. But it's a reaction. This booth thing, where stars pop up in the booth itself, the Mardi Gras moment, that strikes me as a new thing. It'll take them a year or two to figure out how to not make that a miserable experience for some people, but they'll figure it out.

In general, Comic-Con won't talk about security. They have a clever, capable guy that works as their public point man, David Glanzer, and he's super-good about mitigating negative reaction until they can find a solution. Like he was able to handle one fan stabbing another fan in the face with a pen like it was someone tripping over a bump in the carpet. [Newman laughs] I suspect without knowing they have a better class of individual working security than ever, and that they'll quickly work out these stop-and-look moments the companies are doing now.

STEVE NEWMAN: I couldn't get mad at Marvel, but I did get mad at the security guard. I wanted to stop and look at Zoe Saldana, too! Yelling in my ear didn't help. He was angry people were looking at the thing that was set up for people to look at.

But that was it, really, as far as complaints. That was the only time I felt something could go wrong.

WHIT SPURGEON: Steve and I were talking at the show how thorough the security was searching, for instance, the people in costumes as they came in the door. They were heavily searched. Which given the world we live in is a necessary thing.

STEVE NEWMAN: They were zip-locking weapons to holsters.

TOM SPURGEON: They do do that now. So do you guys like that part of the show, the costumes?

STEVE NEWMAN: [laughs] I had so many reactions to the costumes.

TOM SPURGEON: They're kind of amazing... although part of me misses the years when many of them weren't great and there were like eight dudes doing it.

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STEVE NEWMAN: Some PhD student out there has done a paper on who cosplays how and why, and I want to read that paper.

First off, it was fun. It's just fun. That Silver Surfer guy committed. He was covered in silver body paint and stripped right down to his shorts.

WHIT SPURGEON: The only concession to reality was the cellphone in the back of his swimsuit.

STEVE NEWMAN: I saw one kid, probably still in high school, dressed up as one of the henchmen from The Venture Bros. It was so perfect. I couldn't stop laughing.

I saw a couple of people trying to be that character... a little too much. I saw a couple of Wolverines that really wanted to be Wolverine. I saw a John Constantine that really wanted to be John Constantine. He was walking down the middle of the aisle with a snarl and flipping his Zippo [Whit Spurgeon laughs] I was sort of like, "I get it, but yeah... I don't know."

WHIT SPURGEON: I also think most of the costumes are excellent now, but I remember my first year there fondly, when I was obsessed with 87-year-old caucasian Lt. Uhura.

STEVE NEWMAN: I saw some good Iron Man costumes and then you'd see someone with a really good Iron Man costume, but only from the waist up. The rest of it is cargo shorts. It's so disappointing. It's like, "Commit or don't." [laughter]

*****

* Steve Newman
* Whit Spurgeon

*****

* photo of Newman provided by Newman
* photo of Whit Spurgeon provided by Whit Spurgeon
* a Jack Kirby Fantastic Four panel
* a cover for the great Dragon Magazine
* a panel from Pride of Baghdad
* Newman in what he felt was the Mardi Gras part of the show
* view from our hotel room
* crowd at the Scholastic Party
* Phil Nel, Eric Reynolds and Jeff Smith at the Barnaby panel
* Gilbert Hernandez appreciating one of the show's Silver Surfers
* Newman and Whit Spurgeon promoting one of their collaborations (below)

*****



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*****
 
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Go, Look: Anita Rundles

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Núria Pompeia, RIP

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Go, Look: Geoff Grogan On The Career Of Geoff Grogan

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First Maakies, Now This: Chris Onstad Ties Bow On Year-Long Return To Achewood

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Here. If that's all the Achewood we ever get, that's a great way to wrap it up, with a year-long regular return to form. I look forward to seeing whatever Chris Onstad does next. I think Achewood is one of the great works of the century to date, doubly so if you consider important the way a creative work reflects its time. I'm appreciative I got to read so much of it in real time.

I was going to suggest to people that hadn't had the pleasure that they buy themselves The Great Outdoor Fight (image above), which seems to me a fine entry point into that world, but it looks like that could use reprinting.
 
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Go, Look: Miles Cook

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The Comics Reporter End Of The Year Business Post

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the end of the year/beginning of the next, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

image* one thing I suggest every holiday season is that those of you inclined to have a little bit of downtime, and those of you who may put together a list of things to do in the next calendar year, consider adding "write a letter to a comics person you admire and tell them why you do so" to the things you might some spend time doing in the days or months ahead. Putting something down on paper, finding an address (most publishers will forward mail to freelance talent; I'll help if I can), and getting that out the door is fun: I've been doing it a couple of times a year for several years now (Marie was first!) and it's usually the best part of the week. I've been told directly it can mean the world to someone getting a letter. I hope you'll consider it.

* this post should come "below" a Holiday Interview on the scroll of the site. I hope there will be somewhere between eight to twelve interviews total. This is far below the glory years where we could do 20-28, but those are muscles slowly built. Since I'm focusing on people I screwed out of interviews earlier in the year, the series won't meet my own standards applicable to an assembled group. I seemed to screw over more men than women, for example. I hope you'll forgive me. My deepest thanks to all the interview subjects.

* an aspect of the site on which I could use your help is our birthdays section. By wishing you a happy birthday, we take note of your place and the place of others like you in the history of comics. We also introduce work and comics-makers to people not familiar with everyone out there. It's a nice nudge for your friend and peers, too, who can then wish you a more personal happy day. If you'd like to participate, Thanks in advance.

* my best wishes to you and yours as we start a New Year together. May it bring every joy possible, and every comfort necessary.
 
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Go, Look: Blakely Inberg

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Go, Look: Braden Lamb

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Internal Affairs III. Rob Clough on the comics of Chuck Forsman. Todd Klein on Astro City #40. Richard Bruton on Oh Joy Sex Toy Vol. 1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!: Hooked On A Feline.

* love this post.

* here are the top 20 covers from a sequence of magazines devoted to Doctor Who.

* I think Frank may be firing up the correspondence course for the new year. It's one of the comics thing you can do, and all of his students seem to learn a lot about composition and narrative structure.

* here's an interesting process post by Ben Towle.

* finally, Ruben Bolling had a really good holiday season.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, MD Bright!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Keith Pille!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Joan Hilty!

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December 26, 2016


CR Holiday Interview #1 -- Tony Millionaire

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*****

Tony Millionaire ended his remarkable Maakies alt-weekly strip earlier this month via a wide announcement to press, fans and fellow professionals that accompanied his delivery of the final installment. Never again will we see its like.

Millionaire's lushly drawn, furiously paced, repetitive descents into madness and sometime loss of life were provided to readers for over two decades, during which Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow became household names, at least in those few houses owned by alt-weekly readers and comics fans. Maakies was beautiful and ugly and spiritual and profane, usually at the same time. For the bulk of the strip's run, Millionaire essentially did two separate strips in the one-strip space provided him.

Millionaire and I sat down over lunch and beers in Pasadena after the decision had been made. We met to discuss his strip's retirement, go over some of the highlights and muse on the future. The cartoonist seemed thoughtful and reserved: a tall man, he struggled for a comfortable position in a wooden chair. I always enjoy talking to him. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

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TOM SPURGEON: The first question has to do with your planned announcement that you'll be retiring Maakies, something that if my transcription skills remain unremarkable will be widely known by the time this interview appears.

TONY MILLIONAIRE: I am making that announcement right now. Maakies is dead.

SPURGEON: Wow.

[a nearby jukebox suddenly to life playing a happy pop tune, causing everyone at the table to laugh; we ask for it to be turned down]

MILLIONAIRE: Maakies ran from 1994 -- February 1994 -- to now. Which is like 22 years, almost? Or 23. I don't know, my math is not good. At its peak it was in twenty-something papers: the weeklies. The LA Weekly, the Village Voice. All across the country.

SPURGEON: What was the first paper? I should know this, but I'm drawing a blank.

MILLIONAIRE: New York Press.

SPURGEON: Your "flagships" would have been, I guess, that one and maybe LA Weekly?

MILLIONAIRE: LA Weekly I got when I moved to LA and I ran into Carol Lay and she said, "We'll get you into the LA Weekly." She made some calls and I was there.

This was good because a paper of that size would pay a decent amount of money. Some of the papers would pay ten dollars. In fact, there was one I was doing I was doing for one dollar, because I had to charge them something or Kaz would have ripped my head off. Kaz thought I was undercutting his prices and in doing so undercutting his profits. So it was kind of a joke, but not really.

SPURGEON: I wasn't aware of any of this.

MILLIONAIRE: He wrote me a song called "Tony Penny." I forget how the song went but the title was "Tony Penny." [reflective pause] "Doesn't have any."

SPURGEON: [laughs]

MILLIONAIRE: I just wanted people to see the strip at that point. That's the problem with it now, nobody sees it. I'm not dedicated enough to upload it every week on time, to get a following on the web site. I just drop it on Facebook every now and then when I have one done. I'll get a bunch of comments, but it's just not fresh anymore.

The other problem is that some of the jokes are very offensive now and for a long time they weren't that offensive.

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SPURGEON: From where to you get criticism? Based on what? The violence? When people complain, what do they complain about?

MILLIONAIRE: They complain about jokes about women's menstrual cycles. You start making jokes like that... The joke that got me kicked out of Baltimore was one about there's a lawyer in a court and he represents a woman. The judge asks what's the grounds of this divorce? The lawyer says she is filing for divorce because she's on the rag. That got me kicked out of Baltimore.

SPURGEON: I know from strip people in general that many of them feel that there is less support in general from papers and the people that work there for the strips they run. Did you come to feel that way?

MILLIONAIRE: Yes. [pause] It depends on the paper. The Austin Chronicle, I've been in there for years, they're the last one. They're very supportive. It's Austin. But I found that some of the older papers and older editors before they moved along and the younger editors took over. I found the older editors understood the cartoonists as a newspaper men, getting that store in there... What was that Joe Pesci movie?

SPURGEON: The one about Weegee?

MILLIONAIRE: Him. Getting into fights over the photographs. He invented the shoe on the pile of rubble. Throw it down there. [laughter] I'm not sure that's true.

SPURGEON: When we first heard about you out in Seattle, we heard about you just as much as the strip. It was reminiscent of the personality-driven era of great newspapers. "You gotta see this strip, the guy who does saves it until the last day." [Millionaire laughs] I don't know today how much of that was true. Still, there was an element of participating in the strip with you, to see if you could keep it together and get it out. Was that on purpose?

MILLIONAIRE: I was famous for being a personality, at parties. "It's Tony Millionaire! He's a riddle wrapped in an enigma! He's got a bottle of vodka in the front pocket and god knows where the teeth are!" [laughter]

I'd take my teeth out when the fights started. I was the tallest, drunkest person at all of the parties. It was fun.

SPURGEON: The tension of your persona was that while you were this crazy personality, the strip was very disciplined. You didn't have problems getting work out, like an Al Columbia or, I don't know, a David Choe, where the outsized life got in the way of at least some production. You were there every week.

MILLIONAIRE: The deadline was very important to me.

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SPURGEON: There's an element of sheer fortitude in getting work out like in regular fashion for that many years. If your strip was horrible, there'd be a certain amount of respect in hitting that many deadlines. But your work is extremely well-crafted, and frequently beautiful.

How does having something like that as a centerpiece of your life feel? Where does that strength to keep getting it out come from, do you think? Is that how you approach most things?

MILLIONAIRE: No.

SPURGEON: It was special to the strip, then?

MILLIONAIRE: It was special. The Maakies strip was the one anchor in my life. It was a place I could spill my guts. It was a thing that I had to do. I didn't even know where I was going to live next -- I didn't start it until I was 40. My life was very aimless. What city I was going to be in, where I was going to get my spaghetti and mashed potatoes.

Then I started doing a strip. I started doing one for a very small newspaper in Brooklyn: the Waterfront Week. Every week that strip had to be in. That's the one thing I had to do. Everyone else had to get up and go to work in the morning or quit their job. But the one thing I had to do was I had to have that strip. That's where discipline came from suddenly for the first time in my life. When it started appearing in newspapers, I was like, "I need this." I don't have anything else.

From that strip, all my other work came. People know that I can draw, and that my drawings have personality and are funny, from that strip.

SPURGEON: That's an underrated element, the calling-card element. There's no doubt you can come through on a project.

MILLIONAIRE: It shows you're going to get the job done and it will look good.

SPURGEON: Can we put an hourly figure on an individual strip?

MILLIONAIRE: It would basically take an entire day. Sometimes that was four hours, sometimes that was ten. The first panel took longer than all the other panels. I'd research, try to find reference for a ship or a bar, and then make it more compact. Then I'd start drawing, and I'd know what the strip was going to be. Sometimes getting the joke would take all week.

SPURGEON: Was there a rewrite process involved, internally? For that matter, what about externally?

MILLIONAIRE: No. I got one note back from an editor that I think went to a few of us. "Guys, this isn't Playboy Magazine." [Spurgeon laughs] "This isn't Hustler. Knock it off."

SPURGEON: The relationship between the characters, the end results, there's a refined language to your approach. Like the most famous single image from your work is a recurring image in your narratives: Drinky Crow offing himself.

MILLIONAIRE: Drinky Crow. The great bird.

[Tony raises his glass and there's a toast to Drinky Crow.]

image

SPURGEON: When you have these elements, these expected behaviors... you might riff on it, but even then there's a feeling that you're pushing back against expected norms. How over that many years did you find ways to keep the material rich, without repeating yourself? Did you ever feel constrained? Was the strip ever particularly difficult to write?

MILLIONAIRE: There were times I had no idea what to do, where it'd be two o'clock in the morning and I knew I had to get something done. There were a couple of tricks I would use.

Most of the time there was a joke already written. Somebody had said something funny. Like my friend Helena Harvilicz. I was doing a Nicholas Cage impression from Leaving Las Vegas. And I said, "Just one thing, honey. Promise me you'll never ask me to stop drinking." And she said, "Can I ask you to stop peeing on my leg?" [laughter]

All the jokes came from things that happened to me when I was out doing something, but sometimes you wouldn't have anything for weeks and months at a time. That's when I would look at old books of my comics, sort of find an idea and maybe sort of rewrite that. Or be inspired to move something in another direction.

It's like the movie Blue Velvet. They find the ear in the field -- SPOILER! [laughter] -- they find the ear in the beginning of the movie. They get closer and closer to this ear and then they go inside the ear and I'm thinking, "This is going to be great! What is this?" And then it's just a candle in the wind. I guess it was okay. But what did I think it was going to be? Then I did a comic about that.

SPURGEON: The late period of your work with Maakies -- as things started to implode a bit, industry-wise... I always get a sense from you that you were aware of the precarious position you were in. Because, really, the last half of Maakies' existence was a tough time for the industry in which your work was placed. How did you negotiate that increasingly slippery ground?

MILLIONAIRE: You mean the collapse of papers, the notion there was less space for comics.

SPURGEON: All of it. You stuck it out while other cartoonists reconfigured their careers. You were right on board the strip during the viking funeral: flames all around you, dodging incoming arrows.

MILLIONAIRE: [laughs]

SPURGEON: Did that add a level of stress to the comics-making, something that we might only see years from now?

MILLIONAIRE: It added a certain amount of stress. Newspapers were going because of the Internet. People used newspapers to find out what was going on, and now they go on the Internet to do that. I knew it wasn't going to last. I thought that to myself that it was the last days of doing this kind of thing.

imageBut I only had to do it once a week. I had the rest of the week to figure out what I was going to do. I was doing a lot of illustration work, now I've done a lot of record covers for famous people. Stuff like that. But I also knew that I had to figure out a way to get it online. It was still the beginnings of on-line. You'd set up a web site and then you hoped people would go to it. You'd mention it in the strip to build a following, but you couldn't make any money doing it. I never did. At best I made $300, $500 a week, when it was in a lot of papers. But it was my calling card, and a lot of people could see it.

Then Facebook came along, and Facebook started turning more and more into imagery, and now most of my interactions are on Facebook. Past strips and other strips.

SPURGEON: The old-fashioned way that strip cartoonists used to describe doing a feature is that you'd tell your jokes onstage at an empty theater and then a couple of months later you'd check box office receipts to see how they did.

MILLIONAIRE: [laughs]

SPURGEON: Does the feedback received change the creative process?

MILLIONAIRE: Yeah.

SPURGEON: How so? Do you lean into what people like? Is it just enjoyable to get feedback, the pleasure of a live audience.

MILLIONAIRE: Feedback is very important. You want to test out a joke. I show it to my wife, and to my kids. Sometimes I'll try out the joke before I draw it and people are like "I don't know" and I say, "I'll make it work."

When it gets in the paper, especially in the beginnings from the NY Press, I'd get letters. All the cartoonists with strips in the Press got letters. Kaz was in there. Carol Lay was in there. Steven... what was his name? I love that guy.

SPURGEON: That's kind of the fate of Steven.

MILLIONAIRE: I felt like I was this raucous drunken character, stepping on his toes. Mark Newgarden and Mark Beyer were in there. So you'd get letters, and there was the Comics Journal Messageboard, and everyone would battle it out on there.

Doug Allen was Steven. He was there long before I was.

SPURGEON: Steven gets no credit now and it was a great strip. Brock, the Cactus... Did you feel a kinship with your fellow alt-weekly cartoonists? Did you ever feel a part of the crowd, either in the alt-weeklies or later on with the books at Fantagraphics?

MILLIONAIRE: Oh yeah. Of course. There was a real community. We all knew each other.

The cartoonists talked to each other and the editors didn't, really. When the Village Voice fired Jules Feiffer, he had an editorial position. They wanted to fire him but buy his strip from his company. And Feiffer was like, "No. You're not getting the strip if you fire me as an editor."

The editor of the Village Voice started calling around, saying "Anyone want to jump ship? Anyone want to come over here and publish?" The cartoonists would call each other and would be like, "Did you get a call from the Village Voice?"

When they finally called me, I remember I was lying on the couch. "Oh, you want to run my strip in the Village Voice?" He said, "Yeah; do you want to jump ship?" I said, "That sounds great!" "Does it sound a great?" And I wish I could remember the wording of this... "I'm definitely interested." He goes, "You are? That's great." I say, "Yes, I'm definitely interested in you going to fuck yourselves." [Spurgeon laughs]

They wanted to offer me 400 bucks for that, and I was only getting $60. We were loyal to one another. The only one who wasn't will go unnamed. We gotta help each other out.

SPURGEON: So what takes Maakies' place? Does the on-line Adult Swim cartoon step into that role?

MILLIONAIRE: That's a new thing. That's only been about three or four months. I don't know how long that will go.

SPURGEON: Is there a plan moving forward or is it just kind of taking the opportunities that are coming to you?

MILLIONAIRE: I don't need Maakies anymore in that I'm always getting contacted for work. There are projects I start up myself. Two books right now. People call me up and ask, "How do you get into the business?" and I have no idea. I did it my way. I walked backwards into a party and there was a guy from the New York Press there and I was funny. "We gotta get this guy a comic strip." Do that! [laughter]

imageSPURGEON: Are you looking forward to that relative freedom, being freed from that very specific thing you have to do every week?

MILLIONAIRE: No, I'm not looking forward to it. I'm really going to miss it. On the other hand, I'm too busy to miss it very much. One of the books I'm working on is Tony's True Tales -- that's the working title, I don't know what I'll call it. That's true stories from my life. There are a lot of them. I lived in Europe. I'm going to put Drinky Crow and Uncle Gabby into those comics as my pals. It's not that Drinky Crow is dead, it's that the Maakies strip is gone.

Since you asked, if someone wanted me to bring Maakies back to life where 500,000 people would look at it every week, I'd do it. That's the problem, no one sees it anymore.

SPURGEON: The all-ages stuff, is that part of the landscape moving forward?

MILLIONAIRE: That's one thing. Whenever I try to do children's stuff my creepy dark side come out anyway, and it ends up... well, that's not fair, because kids love creepy dark stuff. It's not like I put scatological stuff -- you can put poopy in, what am I talking about? -- but I don't put sex and certain things you don't want to talk to kids about.

I'm working on Billy Hazelnuts, the last of the trilogy. That's almost done. That's kind of aimed at kids but not necessarily.

The Sock Monkey is actually not really aimed at kids, it's aimed at people who remember kids books. Who remember the nostalgia that you feel for when you had a stuffed animal that was your friend. My daughter is 15 and she picked up the Sock Monkey book the other day. She's like, "These stories are really good. I never realized." I was trying to show them to her when she was ten and she was like, "I don't know, Daddy... It's not that good" Now she realizes those are real stories.

SPURGEON: That's a real gem of a book. It was vastly under-appreciated when it came out, and remains so.

MILLIONAIRE: I love that book. It won a couple of awards. The bigwigs that give out prizes appreciated it.

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SPURGEON: The suicide attempt in Sock Monkey is still one of the great scenes.

MILLIONAIRE: That's a good one. That one gets to you every time you read it. He accidentally kills the baby bird. Every time I read that, I still get goosebumps.

SPURGEON: It's an incredibly strong sequence.

MILLIONAIRE: If the author can read it and still get goosebumps again, that's good stuff.



With Billy Hazelnuts, I have to wrap it up, I need to put a real goosebumps moment in it so people remember it.

SPURGEON: Your life has changed tremendously since you started Maakies. You live in a different place, you have a family. Did the strip reflect those changes, your outlook at any particular moment. Was there any period that made doing the strips more difficult?

MILLIONAIRE: The strip has always been pretty much a diary of my life. Not exactly, of course. But you can find out what I was thinking, how I was feelilng, but reading the collections. If you know me. So that never really affected it negatively. I would change. I don't have Drinky Crow blowing his brains out as much — well, now I do. [Spurgeon laughs] But for a long while, it barely happened at all. I just didn't feel like that.

When it first started, I sure did. [Spurgeon laughs] I didn't feel like killing myself, but I saw getting drunk as temporary suicide. You do it when life sucks. When Trump happened, everyone I know grabbed a bottle and hugged it for three days. I handed in a re-run that week.

SPURGEON: Are there influences you see in your work that you wonder if anyone else gets?

MILLIONAIRE: Uh-huh. Sure there are.

SPURGEON: Who might that be?

MILLIONAIRE: Mark Twain. Herman Melville -- not just because of the strips, but because of the way he writes. Melville was very funny. You read Moby Dick and you realize it's a comedy; there's a lot very funny stuff in it.

I've never read a lot of comics, so when people ask me about my favorite cartoonists I have to rack my brain... Kate Beaton. Who is Hyperbole and a Half...? Allie?

SPURGEON: Allie Brosh.

MILLIONAIRE: I just don't read a lot of cartoonists. I don't remember them by name. My reading for pleasure is classic, mostly comedy books: work by Jane Austen. Mark Twain. The Patrick O'Brian series I've read them like three times. That's a look at a life at sea in the early 1800s. On a navy ship. It's so well-written. It's funny, and it's done in the comedy of the time. It's not the comedy we're used to right now.

SPURGEON: What is it about that kind of comedy that's specifically appealing to you?

MILLIONAIRE: I get tired of a lot of comedy nowadays. It's all so predictable we're used to it. "Ba-dump-bum-bum." and then "Ba dump bum boom." It's almost like a second language when you read stuff that was written in the 1800s or the 1700s. Like Washington Irving. The style is different. Values were different then. You really could end up in a duel for slighting somebody. The sense of duty was different.

The comedy in those days... all we really had was words. We didn't have recorded music, or television. We had books. All the people who would have been making amazing movies nowadays -- and there are a few -- were writing books then. Poetry. Lord Byron. Think of the greatest comedian you know, the person writing the funniest television, the best cartoon, they would have been named Mark Twain and they would have been writing books. Roughing It. The Innocents Abroad.

So my influences come from actual books. I read all the really old newspaper comics. But I never read comic books.

SPURGEON: I think you'll also1 be remembered for the strip at the bottom of the strips — that's a signifier for you in the way that the silent third panel will be something we remember about Doonesbury.

MILLIONAIRE: That's a callback, too, of course, to the old newspaper strip.

SPURGEON: Sure, the Sundays that ran a second feature.

MILLIONAIRE: Ma Green was at the bottom of Little Orphan Annie. The Family Upstairs had one called Krazy Kat that became Krazy Kat.

SPURGEON: Segar had his inventor... Was that creatively useful? It felt like those bottom-strip jokes might have come easier than a primary strip joke. I figured it might have been useful to have that joke there over the long-term to help you create.

MILLIONAIRE: Very much so . They came from a specific incident. I had a bartender in Brooklyn that wasn't very bright. My comic strips were more poetic than anything else. She said, "Tony, I don't get your comics. I really just don't get them." And I was like "A-ha, I'll do a second one just for you... why did the chicken cross the road?" Something like that. There was some joke to it and she laughed. She said, "Do that for me every week, would you?" I said, "I will." And so I do!

The top joke I can be poetic and use all the visuals to make a story. It can be complicated. I'd prefer it to be funny, but it doesn't have to be. The bottom one is a joke: "Please can I ask you to stop peeing on my leg?"

Kaz would say to me, "What are you doing? You're not getting paid to do two jokes. You're giving them two jokes." [laughter]

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SPURGEON: How has the extra work changed the way you do the core cartoon? Jaime Hernandez has spoken of coming close to resenting the other work he does because it keeps him from his comics. How do you look at these other opportunities?

MILLIONAIRE: It improved my drawing. That's about it. On Tuesday night, it's Maakies time. Well it used to be. It won't be anymore [collapse on tables, fake crying] [laughter]. Oh, God!

Tuesday night I wasn't going to anything. Not to a birthday party. Not to your fucking wedding. I have to concentrate on the strip or I'll be up at 8 AM the next morning. Anything outside that might influence me I'm not thinking of it.

SPURGEON: Your early work there are some different elements, different things you emphasize, but it's recognizable as yours. There's no great shift the way you've seen with other cartoonists. You've been consistent. You were right there at the beginning. How much have you worked on elements of the strip, or did the strip itself necessitate the skills to get it out.

MILLIONAIRE: The work necessitated the skills. Every now and then I'll be like "It'd be nice to make road rounding a corner with a cliff over there and a crumbling wall, drawn in an old-fashioned style." I don't think, "I can't do that." I would just do it. I have all these references, and I'd either use that or my head to just figure that out. It's just something you learn.

From since I was in college until I was 40, I drew houses for a living. Every house I'd been hired to draw, I had to figure if it was a straight-ahead portrait, or a three-quarters, where a tree might be in a way. Those were cold drawings -- I didn't use a ruler, so they weren't that cold. I found the funnest part was usually the bushes and trees around the house. You had to draw the stems and the leaves and decide if you were drawing from a flat plane. If the yard looks like it starts here and goes back... I'd study these Van Gogh sketches of these farms. He'd draw grass in front of it, then smaller grass, and eventually just straight lines.

[food arrives, much praising of the food and small talk about the Christmas season at the Millionaire household]

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SPURGEON: So what happens to the strip now in terms of archiving, caretaking? You have a new format with this latest book Jacob Covey designed. Are you going to do the old strips again? Have you given any thought to its continual archiving.

MILLIONAIRE: You could do the whole run. Twenty-two years of Maakies.

SPURGEON: That would be an incredible book.

MILLIONAIRE: It would be. It would be a lot of paper.

SPURGEON: Do different people read the books than read the strip?

MILLIONAIRE: I don't know who was reading what. I really don't. People will make comments that they're reading, you don't know what. When we got The Drinky Crow Show, I thought it would boost the sales of the book. But it didn't. I found out later that people that watched the show didn't know the books existed. People that read the book didn't know the show existed. Generally.

SPURGEON: It's not the worst place to be, though, I guess in terms of people just not knowing things.

MILLIONAIRE: I find that ignorance applies to a lot of things. I bet a lot of kids don't know the Batman comic books exist, or at least they've never seen one.

SPURGEON: A lot of adults are amazed that stuff is still published. It's like finding out we're still making The Shadow radio plays.

MILLIONAIRE: There are some people that do well. Dan Clowes sold a lot of Ghost World books. Dark Horse came into the picture from a merchandising end, noting that Fantagraphics didn't really do merchandising. They did t-shirts and plastic toys and party lights.

SPURGEON: You like that stuff?

MILLIONAIRE: If I have control of it, yeah. I would send over these sketches of Sock Monkey to the Chinese manufacturer, and they were confused by what was on his head, so the first prototypes came back with him wearing a rose on his head. I'm like, "No, that's a pom-pom." And they're like, "a prostitute?" Because that's what the word means in Chinese. Then they did another kind of flower, like a clover. I'm like, "Not that, either." I went to the thrift store and found a stuffed toy with a pom-pom and I mailed it to them. [laughter]

SPURGEON: Are you good at the business part of it, the managing of your career? Are you good at finding the best public opportunities for your work?

MILLIONAIRE: I'm not that good at it. I mean, I try to publicize the books as much as I can. Some people make a lot of money to do this, but I don't.

SPURGEON: Would you like to be better at that?

MILLIONAIRE: Yeah! I'd like to have some more money. I'd like a lot more money. [laughter]

SPURGEON: Who is someone you think does that well?

MILLIONAIRE: Coop. Coop used to do it better with his previous wife, who seemed a real master with that. I said, "Jeez, I see that devil with the cigar everywhere." He's like, "Yeah, that bought me a jaguar." I'm like, "You mean a Ford?" [laughter] That's like a $60,000 car.

Just last week they were going to send me a quarterly check that was two cents or two dollars, from Dark Horse. I realized that the plastic crow sold like $95,000 over the years. People bought it after the show because they saw it. I don't know how that shit works. I just want a bunch of money. One million is the same as two million to me. No million dollars, that doesn't work at all. That's way different than two million dollars.

SPURGEON: You've been honest about that aspect of cartooning over the years, your ability to provide. Do you consider those things when you make a change like this one?

MILLIONAIRE: You mean having no Maakies.

SPURGEON: Yeah.

MILLIONAIRE: No, I think Maakies got me to a certain level of fame, and now I have a day to work on the stuff that pays better. There are so many places to provide material, certainly something will happen sooner or later. I've been on the verge of wealth for year. The ship gets right to the edge and then does not fall. I've been so close so many times.

SPURGEON: When did you feel the closest?

MILLIONAIRE: SNL. That was in '98. "I'm on Saturday Night Live! I'm on TV." I was imagining the house. "This is going to be great." Then... nothing. [laughter] They made six little cartoons and only showed two. Tim Maloney picked them up for DVD with some other cartoonists: Brunetti, Henderson. I also sold it to Spike and Mike. Ike and Spike and Mike. Spike and Ike. I used to rent it out to them for ten years.

A good friend of mine, a writer Todd Alcott, we're working on a new Sock Monkey TV show. As soon as I finish up Billy Hazelnuts we'll take that around and see what happens.

With the movies, I think every studio has been approached three times each with Sock Monkey. "This is fantastic! This is great!" They'll watch the video and hold the sock monkey when they watch it. "We're talking lifetime annuities." Ding! Ding! Ding! Booinng! My eyes are dollar bill signs. "I see it, too!" Two weeks later: "Oh yeah, man. They shot it down."

That's their job, to make you feel fantastic.

SPURGEON: Any chance you'll act more?

MILLIONAIRE: [laughs] My problem is I can't remember lines. I was a gay dude in something. I'm talking to my boyfriend, and I'm supposed to say, "C'mon, we're supposed to go the Dunkirk meeting." I just read that off that sign [pointing], because I don't remember now. But it was one line, I barely got it out. When you see it, it's like "Who's this guy? He's not even acting."

When it comes to acting like a fucking goofball, that I can do.

SPURGEON: So twenty-two years. Tony, do you feel appreciated?

MILLIONAIRE: Oh, yeah. You want to know how appreciated I am? Go to Google Images and type in "Drinky Crow Tattoo." It's like five pages of tattoos. I don't like tattoos. I would never get one. But some of them are beautiful. When you see your art painted on somebody's body that many times, you know you've done something all right.

*****

* Tony Millionaire
* Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again, Tony Millionaire, Fantagraphics, hardcover, 128 pages, 9781606999349, July 2016, $29.99.

*****

* Tony Millionaire, at our interview; photo by Whit Spurgeon
* the last Maakies
* the on the rag Maakies
* the first strip
* a favorite strip
* Elvis Costello album cover
* from a Billy Hazelnuts story
* from that suicide story featuring Sock Monkey
* a Moby Dick Illustration
* the cover to the latest collection, with art director Jacob Covey
* a favorite Maakies (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Britt Sabo

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The Comics Reporter End Of The Year Business Post

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the end of the year/beginning of the next, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

image* one thing I suggest every holiday season is that those of you inclined to have a little bit of downtime, and those of you who may put together a list of things to do in the next calendar year, consider adding "write a letter to a comics person you admire and tell them why you do so" to the things you might some spend time doing in the days or months ahead. Putting something down on paper, finding an address (most publishers will forward mail to freelance talent; I'll help if I can), and getting that out the door is fun: I've been doing it a couple of times a year for several years now (Marie was first!) and it's usually the best part of the week. I've been told directly it can mean the world to someone getting a letter. I hope you'll consider it.

* this post should come "below" a Holiday Interview on the scroll of the site. I hope there will be somewhere between eight to twelve interviews total. This is far below the glory years where we could do 20-28, but those are muscles slowly built. Since I'm focusing on people I screwed out of interviews earlier in the year, the series won't meet my own standards applicable to an assembled group. I seemed to screw over more men than women, for example. I hope you'll forgive me. My deepest thanks to all the interview subjects.

* an aspect of the site on which I could use your help is our birthdays section. By wishing you a happy birthday, we take note of your place and the place of others like you in the history of comics. We also introduce work and comics-makers to people not familiar with everyone out there. It's a nice nudge for your friend and peers, too, who can then wish you a more personal happy day. If you'd like to participate, Thanks in advance.

* my best wishes to you and yours as we start a New Year together. May it bring every joy possible, and every comfort necessary.
 
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Go, Look: We Make Fishsticks

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Go, Look: Eden Park Tales

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Caitlin Rosberg on Namesake. Alexander Jones on Inhumans Vs. X-Men #1. Todd Klein on Astro City #40. Sean Gaffney on Magi Vol. 21. Alex Hoffman on What Happened.

* on the inadequacy of posting Abner Dean on Tumblr.

* Mark Peters writes about the many likely connections between Jack Kirby and the Star Wars universe. I find the general notion pretty convincing, and remember times since then when people felt comic books didn't exist when it came to borrowing directly from them: like the Rorschach episode of NYPD Blue. Heck, we have 50 Girls 50 and Passengers right now -- that one seems unforgivably close to me. I'm not sure you can do much of anything about people stealing material, which is another reason why creative businesses need to be ethical: for the full reward of the original creator for that original creation.

* finally, Seven Gunn talks to John Jennings.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Ray Cornwall!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Steve Saffel!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Kenny Penman!

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December 25, 2016


May God Bless Us Every One

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On this Christmas morning, happy holidays to you from Tom Spurgeon of CXC and The Comics Reporter.

This year's image is from the great T. Edward Bak, of whom I asked a portrait of a traditional Christmas bird. Bak told me that he failed to do this and this is simply a Eurasian jay, Garrulus glandarius.

I think it's beautiful, though. Plus there's something appropriate to 2016 that the year end in a gentle yet hopeful misfire. Eurasian jays 4-Ever.

Thanks, Todd. Thanks, everyone.

On to 2017.
 
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Go, Look: Kelly Fernandez

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Go, Look: FAMIB

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Go, Look: Jerel Dye

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Happy 58th Birthday, Rick Stromoski!

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FFF Results Post #467 -- Best Of 2017

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics You Enjoyed And Thought Were Good That Came Out In 2016." This is how they responded.

*****

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Steve Harrick

1. House of Women, Part III
2. Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream #5
3. Goldie Vance (pictured)
4. Wonder Woman: The True Amazon
5. Witch Camp

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Complex Age, vol. 1
2. Dustship Glory
3. Baggywrinkles
4. Space-Mullet! (pictured)
5. The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Book of Void
2. Sir Alfred #3
3. Mould Map #5
4. Sec (pictured)
5. La legerete

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Ganges #5
2. My Pretty Vampire #4
3. Sir Alfred No. 3
4. Highbone Theater
5. Beverly

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Cousin Joseph
2. Carpet Sweeper Tales (pictured)
3. The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye
4. The One Hundred Nights of Hero
5. Mooncop

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. The Unworthy Thor #1
2. March -- Book Three
3. Ghosts
4. Moon Cop
5. Afterlife with Archie # 10

*****

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John Vest

1. Mineshaft #33
2. Art And Beauty #3
3. Zap Comix #16
4. 5000 Km Per Second (pictured)
5. Carpet Sweeper Tales

*****

A number of you insisted on not following asked-for style, and in the hurry of the holiday season I didn't include those answers rather than edit them to fit or run them as is and risk irritating those who did conform. I hope this doesn't spoil anyone's holiday season. I appreciate your interest in participating and am sincerely sorry this didn't work out.

*****
*****
 
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December 24, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


1960s CBS Christmas Message By RO Blechman


Various Charles Addams Addams Family Cartoons Put In A Video With Music


Terry Gilliam's The Christmas Card
 
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Go, Look: Junko Mizuno Gallery Nucleus Exhibition

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My Number One Comics-Related Christmas Site For 2017 In Terms Of Money Spent

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Dustin Harbin's dedicated t-shirt site. It wasn't a colossal amount of money, but it was the most from any one vendor.
 
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Go, Look: Christina Kelly

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Another Short Note On Taking A Break From Social Media

I'm enjoying my break away from my social media engagements of choice. I've been more productive without the time suck of answering direct inquiries through multiple programs and my general flopping around hoping people will like me. I've been more peaceful without the broadside of folks' confessionals and desperate outreach to friends higher than my pay grade for help and absolution. I do miss the interconnected feeling, although those people that have e-mailed, we've had great conversations.

imageI mean, I have to go back to do this job, but I'm going to remember this feeling and work on finding something close to this that will work for weeks and months at a time.

One thing that would be helpful for me is for you to reorient any professional correspondence concerning CR or my writing in general to comicsreporter@gmail. I'm convinced I will no longer answer professional requests that come through texts, Facebook, twitter, direct messages and older e-mail addresses. Reviewing those correspondences, there's an element in about 3/4 of them of gaming the system and getting at me more directly than through e-mail, and by answering I encourage that.

In a related matter, I hope more of you will go back to adding direct outreach to media back to the mix of what you do to promote yourself. If not me, other people. Social media's great, but trust me in that even a person dedicated to restlessly searching on their end will frequently miss what you're trying to put out there. At the same time, I realize this isn't 2004; I can't put up a text link and send 7000 people to an article. But I do have a core readership and so do a lot of the other olds out there. I'd love to signal boost if you'll help me do so. In return, I'll be more responsive through that avenue and I'll try to revamp the site so that I can be a stronger partner in getting the word out when it's news.

I hope everyone's holidays are going well, however you're spending them. I went into a bookstore here in New Mexico (don't rob my home) with some really nice comics for sale in it, but they're not priced. The store owner says he'll price them at the register, which sounds miserable enough to me I'm not buying anything. I like knowing what things cost, and if that price is variable I know more frequently than not there will be a point in the haggling where I will have been asked to pay more than what that something is ultimately worth. For some reason that poisons it for me, no matter the end result.
 
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Go, Look: Debbie Fong

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Go, Look: Patricia White

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Happy 68th Birthday, Joost Swarte!

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December 23, 2016


Go, Look: The Weirdness Of Being Black In White Spaces After The Election

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Go, Look: Lauren Pettapiece

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Anthony Karcz does a consumer's analysis of Marvel Unlimited and an equivalent service offered by comiXology. I want to do the opposite of whatever is suggested at article's end for that intrusive audio/video.

* it seems silly that in 2016 a gay character in a digital comic should be an issue. That doesn't strike me as a diversity issue as much as a reality issue. My guess is that people that object to people being gay have found a way to shift the issues just enough they can pretend not to be bigoted. It pains my gums to be typing about the orientation of fictional characters as if there's anything to discuss -- except perhaps embarrassment that it took so long for this kind of thing to begin to become more routine. If the representation of a fuller reality or the reflection of a fictional concept is an upsetting deal to you, now matter how you construct that objection to slip out of looking like a douchebag, please reconsider your life priorities. You'll love longer.

* finally, the talented Evan Dahm is impressed.
 
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Go, Look: Col Williams

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Go, Look: Catalina Rufin

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Greg Hunter on The Shirley Jackson Project.

* today marks a full week of my latest experiment in limiting my exposure to social media. Apologies if you have been trying to get a hold of me through means other than Things that have been a concern for me are 1) the time I've been wasting there, 2) the almost imperceptible but I think very real degradation of my emotional state from being exposed to hardcore details of people's personal lives all of the time, 3) the way people are currently using almost ten different ways of getting into direct contact with me and insisting that I use their method of choice to conduct business and that I be equally adept at all of them and 4) I had started to spend as much time and effort interacting with people I barely know as I was with my actual friends. I will have to find some happy medium to cover things effectively, but I don't miss the noise this holiday season, one I hope has been great for you. I don't know for sure if you're doing well or not because I'm not using the sites that tell me right now.

* finally, this is one fine live-cam. The building on the corner on the left used to be my coffee shop, where I worked as a writer/walking-cliche for several ye0ars. It's gone now but the building across the street houses a much better restaurant than it did when I lived here. Cycle of life.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Jai Nitz!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Tony Caputo!

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December 22, 2016


Go, Look: Mike Reddy

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Paul Peter Porges, RIP

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Here.

This has been a ruthless year for comics passings. Talent-to-talent, no neighborhood in our sprawling community has suffered more in 2016 than that of the later-period New Yorker cartoonists. Porges was also a MAD artist and a prolific Saturday Evening Post contributor, which taken all together is sort of like a musician having been in the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Byrds.

He had an interesting life.
 
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Go, Look: Christine Larsen

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Seattle's Short Run has a date for 2017: November 4. Registration will begin in May.

* Chris Anthony Diaz took a bunch of nice photos at the Fantagraphics 40th Anniversary party, and one of me.

* same photographer, different show: CALA 2017.

* here's a crowd-funder for a 2018 con heavily emphasizing diversity and inclusiveness. I'm sure there's some ugly pushback out there if you look for it, but I'm happy for all kinds of models and all kinds of participants.

* there is a tour for Joe Ollmann and a book launch for Vanessa Davis this winter: they are both formidable cartoonists and nice people.

* finally: so I looked at the convention calendar for next year, and right now I plan on doing SPACE, MoCCA Festival, PIX, TCAF, SDCC, SPX and CXC for sure; Emerald City, WonderCon, CAKE, A2CAF, Heroes, Autoptic, Short Run, CAB and CALA as I'm able. There are probably at least two I'm forgetting and holy guacamole, that's a lot of funnybook shows. Maybe we can all find happiness at one, or true love, or a near mint copy of Brynocki's first appearance. Hope springs eternal, anyway. On to 2017.
 
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Go, Look: Kori Michele

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Go, Look: John Cardinal

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Daniel Harmon talks to Julia Gfrörer. Jeffrey Renaud talks to Joshua Williamson. Kiel Phegley talks to Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs.

* I'll be over here washing my eyes out until I can make them forget ever reading the phrase "femme fatale Nancy Drew."

* TCJ reviews 2016.

* Brett White on Thanos #2. David Pepose on Trinity #4. Justin Partridge on Star-Lord #1.

* finally, here's a list of X-Men holiday stories in comics and animated form. I liked #1 a lot when I read it as a kid.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Bill Willingham!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Tony Isabella!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Phoebe Gloeckner!

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The Comics Reporter's Year In Review, 2016

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December 21, 2016


Go, Look: Violeta Noy

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Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Announces Donation Of The Jack Ziegler Collection

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There have been news stories about good things in comics during this very odd and sometimes depressing year of 2016; many of them come from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, who continue their good work receiving and processing donations into their vast holdings.

According to a press release sent out today, you can add the "personal collection of original art and archival materials" owned by cartoonist Jack Ziegler, primarily known for his placement of over 1500 cartoons into the New Yorker.

The collection includes personal sketchbooks ad well as finished work, personal correspondence, journals and the manuscript for a memoir that was never published. The cartoonist cited the "seriousness" of the institution's approach as the reason he selected it for his donation, and says that as much of what he owns is still used in creating current work, the donation will continue to grow and expand.

You can read the full press release here.
 
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Go, Look: Laurel Lynn Leake

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

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at the last several weeks' 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.

*****

SEP161847 ARIOL SC VOL 09 TEETH OF THE RABBIT $12.99
I love Ariol more than vanilla milkshakes and playing kickball combined, so I'm always happy to see another book. There's something about the measured tone and fealty to little-kid experience without stepping away from reality that gets me every time. I'm always delighted when there's a new one.

imageSEP161231 MAGIC WHISTLE VOL 3 #3 (MR) $9.99
OCT160061 USAGI YOJIMBO #160 $3.99
OCT160486 SUPER F*CKERS FOREVER #5 (OF 5) (MR) $4.99
OCT160916 BLACK PANTHER WORLD OF WAKANDA #2 $3.99
OCT160919 DOCTOR STRANGE #15 $3.99
Not a ton in the comic book format comics world. Top of the heap -- and at that price point it might be stretching the point to include it on this specific sub-list -- is the latest issue of the "Henderson and Friends" version of Magic Whistel. Surely there is something inside that would make you laugh. Stan Sakai classes up any joint into which he steps and I'm always happy to buy copies of Usagi the comic book right off the stands. James Kochalka steps in with the fifth issue of his latest Super Fuckers series. I like elements of that quite a lot, although I'm not sure it's ever come together for me as a whole. We end with two of the five Marvel Comics that I buy.

SEP161865 TRISH TRASH ROLLERGIRL OF MARS HC VOL 01 $14.99
This is a comic I thought had come out a long time ago although recent ad sighting makes me think that's not true. Either way, I'm interested in everything Jessica Abel does and will eventually have this to read.

OCT160056 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #29 $4.99
Not a reader, but 29 issues with this latest run, holy crud that's impressive.

OCT162011 COMPLETE CHI SWEET HOME TP $24.95
Won't pretend to know which iteration of the material this is, but I want all of one run of it and my home so I'll always check out how they're putting it together. I might also have this mixed up with the similarly appealing Yotsuba&! in terms of their being multiple formats and the, with Chi it could be just this one.

NOV162091 CHRIS WARE CONVERSATIONS SC $40.00
Chris Ware has a reputation of being private and inarticulate, but he's actually a great talker, just very careful in terms of committing to interview. The selection here will make the difference.

JAN160177 ESSENTIAL KURTZMAN HC VOL 02 TRUMP COMPLETE $29.99
It is always a joy to see stuff that Harvey Kurtzman brought to live. This one seems to have a slightly more troubled pedigree than most.

*****

The full list of the last few weeks' 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: Chris Russo

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Go, Look: Cartland

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Happy Trails. James Kaplan on Four Kids Walk Into A Bank #3.

* not comics: I went with my mother to see the new Star Wars movie. The most exciting part was when Mom's cell phone alarm went off in her purse about halfway through the movie and she shouted out, "Balls!"

* not comics: I'm sort of in love with this song right now, although this version is something of a mess with the music dropping out. Love the slinky dancing, though.

* people are going 'naners over Ta-Nehisi Coates tweeting a bunch of Black Panther-related process material. And why wouldn't they? Coates is a super-talented writer.

* finally, Brian Cronin is doing comic book runs.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Simon Hanselmann!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Valentin Kopetzski!

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December 20, 2016


Go, Look: Tin Can Forest Facebook Photos Page

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By Request Extra: S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust

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I was e-mailing with the great writer-about-comics Bob Levin yesterday, and he asked if CR could host a link to the S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust, a fund set up for the underground comix legend to help take care of him after an accident greatly reduced his ability to look after himself. We're happy to: it's tough out there right now giving-wise, period, and maybe even more so for perennial causes.

If nothing else, these Checkered Demon pins look pretty great.
 
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Go, Look: The Literal World

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Missed It: 2017 Eisner Awards Judges Named

imageThe full slate of Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards judges were named late last week by the awards program and released to the press. They are:

* Alan Campbell, a 30-year events veteran and member of the Comic-Con International Board Of Directors.
* Rob Clough, a longtime, popular comics critic.
* Jamie Newbold, owner of San Diego's Southern California Comics.
* Robert Moses Peaslee, an academic from Texas Tech University.
* Dawn Rutherford, a librarian with a great deal of experience with YALSA's programs.
* Martha Thomases, a former publicity manager at DC currently a columnist at ComicMix.com.

The judges are responsible for the nominations round, including a meeting in San Diego in April to form the ballot. The awards are then given out by professionals in a vote. The Eisner Awards ceremony is schedule for July 21, in the midst of Comic-Con International.

Submissions will open in early January and run until March 24.
 
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Go, Look: Alone

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the great Carol Tyler has a page up for her forthcoming work Fab4Mania.

* the 2017 FCBD comics have been announced. That's in recent years been a pretty good group of comics for buyers like me, which is weird, but I'm not complaining. I'd pick up five or six of these books for sure and be very happy to have them. Bleeding Cool pulled out an interesting piece of news from the comics with which I'm less familiar.

* a year-end speech by book publishing executive Carolyn Reidy reminded me that Gallery 13 will be part of the publishing landscape in 2017. I wasn't blown away by the initial launches in terms of their bringing something unique to the table, although it will matter more if the comics released are good or not.

* that's an intriguing creative pedigree for that kind of book.

* finally, here's a lengthy announcement at Playboy for Box Brown's forthcoming Andy-Kaufman-in-wrestling book.
 
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Go, Look: George Booth Magazine Illustrations 1953

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Go, Read: Heidi MacDonald On Freelancers In Trouble And What Gets Said On Both Sides

Here. Heidi MacDonald's article using the recent cancellation of a Wonder Woman project by Ray Dillon and Renae De Liz and their subsequent crowd-funding as a springboard brings up a bunch of issues, perhaps most widely the general low level of expectations we bring to behavior by people in comics. I've benefited from this, and need to get my own act together and I hope other people feel the same. Comics isn't a field with high margins and there are a lot of people that want in. If you're charged with shepherding certain projects and you can get the same, rough result for less hassle, you're probably going to lean in that direction.

The more interesting issues raised are just realizing that there are difficult freelancers in some cases as well as difficult companies. That shit river still flows downhill more often than up, but I and most people in comics do know of stories where a freelancer is partly to totally to blame for a mess that develops, but it just doesn't get communicated that way in accounts. Also intriguing is the notion of what we do about people not keeping crowd-funding promises -- something with which I can currently be tagged -- and whether or not difficult behavior is forgiven of men and not women, white creators and not black, and so on, on both sides of the editorial/freelance structure still at the heart of a lot of comics-making. I almost certainly benefit from that, too, and suspects it's a notion in play more than we realize. I think we just all need to do better and to keep public pressure on those of us who fail to meet basic standards on all sides of business arrangements. It's also worth noting that those companies that own characters whom freelancers use are likely to bring a degree of difficulty to these arrangements not seen in more self-directed enterprises.

I will admit that barring extraordinary circumstances I will still try to give anyone in comics that asks for money out of a need a bit of money, because I'd rather be optimally helpful and thinking that way rather than protecting myself against risk. Everyone's choices are their own, though.
 
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Go, Look: SPQR Blues

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Go, Look: Jey Barnes

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Defne Sastim on Slapstick #1. Rob Salkowitz on We Told You So.

* Stan Lee is among those profiled in a Hollywood Reporter piece on older people in Hollywood that still work at a high level. I like the close-up photo that leads Lee's section.

* a lot of folks believe direct market retailers are at risk. The reasons why in this article sound like the usual market weaknesses + Marvel perceived as not serving the Direct Market fans creatively nearly as well as they have in the past. Still, it's interesting to think of the future of direct market retail, and big-enough-to-notice die-off at some point wouldn't be out of the question.

* not comics: someone please make an on-line TV series like the Amazon version of Man In The High Castle except it's about Marvel winning the Distributor Wars.

* finally, Cary Chow, Ohm Youngmisuk and Prim Siripipat talk to Greg Pak.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Rantz Hoseley!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Ed Kanerva!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Mack White!

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Happy 67th Birthday, James Van Hise!

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December 19, 2016


Go, Look: Anna Raff

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Another Week, Another Bizarre And Unjustified Arrest Of Cartoonist Zunar By Malaysian Authorities

Free Malaysia has a succinct write-up on what went down that led to Zunar being arrested and questioned on Saturday, apparently for his participation in the nefarious-sounding event "Tea With Zunar."

I always wish for the best for that guy and barring some turn into actual harmful behavior rather than pretty matter-of-fact conducting one's life like an artist, I always will. You can invoke any number of principles related to civilized society that should have stopped this harassment but Zunar shouldn't even need a stand on principles. His stuff is critical but hardly out-of-bounds. If he were your uncle, he'd be the polite one on Facebook.

It's difficult, though, in the current mood all over the world brought by changing times and the consistency of the harassment not to be slightly terrified where this goes. No one gets to look away.
 
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Go, Look: La Blanca

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Here Are A Couple Of Links That Qualify As Self-Promotion

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I'm going to post about a couple of things here because on my self-enforced holiday season social media fast I can't do that nice thing of boosting via tweet and Facebook post. All apologies.

Those nice men at Deconstructing Comics talked to me about the Fantagraphics oral history here. I enjoyed the conversation, which was mid-LA trip so I probably babbled and said weird things.

Encountering the horrifying notion in a private e-mail thread that the best thing I wrote for TCJ came when I was 26 years old, I was reminded that the late Kim Thompson once told me this was his favorite thing I wrote for the publication. It was for the 25th anniversary issue. We're long past the era when people did things like make Rebecca Gilman references in comedic essays just for the fuck of it, but the hardcore Journal joke of the title still makes me laugh.
 
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Go, Look: Emancipation Day

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Not Comics: Robert Boyd On Non-Code Art Spaces

The veteran arts writer Robert Boyd has a few thoughts on the kind of art spaces of the type that in Oakland was the scene of a fire and multiple, tragic deaths. I like Boyd's measured approach. I don't have anything significant to add to the debate, although I wish spaces were made available for art-making and related activities. I wish art were more important at a societal level.

My lingering old-man grumpiness in reading these articles probably comes from the conflation of the necessity of space for artists and the assumption that this must include parties. I'm not even averse to the idea -- I like parties, and I know how social cohesion reinforced through a social calendar can enervate an arts scene -- I just think that particular conflation could be pulled apart a bit more for greater clarity in how to move forward. I know that makes me sound 1000 years old. Nothing diminishes the heartbreak and tragedy of those deaths.

Update: Boyd wrote in to remind me that a lot of art inherently requires social gathering, which is of course true. It's not a very articulate point I'm struggling to make, and may even be a dumbassed one.
 
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Go, Look: Carlisle Robinson

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* when I clicked through on 3:41 PM MT Sunday, the Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon family fundraiser was at exactly 2.5 times its initial ask. So that's nice.

* 2dcloud's latest is the latest high-pedigree crowd-funder in the arts/alt space. They look well on their way, but you never know. Plus you get stuff!

* the Odod Books crowd-funder made their initial goal with several hundred bucks to spare. Good. I think the art form will be richer for having those books out there.

* just about anything purchased from Seibei benefits something or other. A wise choice this holiday season.

* finally: again, don't forget the outright asks: Alice W. Castle, Zanadu Comics, Russ Heath.
 
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Go, Look: Pablo Castro

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Go, Look: Cantocomics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Pat Grant profiles Lynda Barry. Keenan Keller talks to Benjamin Marra.

* in trying to drum up some empathy for people that seem to feel political commentary of any kind is some sort of toxic-by-definition thing in art, I try to imagine a version of me that would come to believe this, a version that stayed in my hometown or in a very strict church, perhaps. So far no good; I'm unable to make this leap of imagination. While I still find it fascinating that companies finally have people assuming ownership over characters and stories and all it means is everything is a bit fucked up now and then, I've moved past the novelty of it. It's also an embarrassment someone was drummed from a shared social media platform for having an opinion that harms no one else.

* finally, Rob McMonigal on The Wake. Scott Cederlund on Rolling Blackouts and The Wicked + The Divine #24.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Dan Taylor!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Dave Scroggy!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Peter Gillis!

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December 18, 2016


The CR Holiday Series Has Been Delayed

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There were tech problems, on my end, with the recordings I made for several interviews to make up the core of this year's holiday interview series. This is now solved/they are now recovered, but not without several days of work lost waiting. My apologies. My ability to get work done in superhuman fashion on a travel day and my birthday was overestimated. I'll get to it this week. There are some good talks in there.

I promise CR will return to normal in the next few months. If things aren't back to normal by summer, I'll look into ending the site and finding a way to cover comics that I can achieve on a regular, reliable basis -- perhaps a weekly column for someone else. It will have been a solid, honorable run. This isn't economic forces but me living my life forces. The half-life thing we've seen at CR over the last couple of years really hasn't benefited anyone. I think I may be enabled a bit in the relative vacating of the industry news and commentary space by a lot of traditional players. I am so grateful for your support in this last try at course-correction, and very much on your side in any hesitation you may have. It should be fun, at least, to see what happens. We'll find out together.

I'll also be off social media for the duration of the year, just for productivity's sake. I'm always e-mailable at comicsreporter@gmail.com.

If I do go back to Facebook and Twitter and a few other things CR has tried, my hunch is I'll make a point of not answering any outreach or communication or business not directed through my primary e-mail. My informal note-taking from the last few weeks in preparation for 2017 shows this diffusion -- this thing where I'm answering like six different "phones," and my actual phone, according to the whims of the person contacting me -- is bad for productivity. So please make it a habit of directing your inquiries through this account. And write sometime. I miss you.

While you're waiting for the holiday series, please enjoy the Rowland Emett drawing above.
 
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Go, Look: The Rose Bowl With Jesse Thorn & Epictetus

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Meanwhile, In My Other Life In Comics... (By Request Extra)

imageOn behalf of the festival I direct, Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, I was one of many non-profit people to informally remind their friends, their personal mailing list and their perceived key supporters that tax deductible donations were possible and even encouraged before the end of the year.

I thought I'd post the Word document version here, if you want to read it:

DocumentInPDFForm.pdf

I believe in the work we're doing with CXC, and it's that belief which has taken me away from this site a bit. What we're hoping for ten years down the line and beyond is another first-class showcase for the cartoon arts, but with a specific, driving focus on improving the lives of the men and women that make that art. We've had two good, really fun and enervating shows thus far, but we've only shown about 15 percent of our hand.

If you take a few seconds to familiarize yourself with that document: thanks. If you consider giving in this harsh and needy environment for just about everything, you have my sincere appreciation. I think we're on our way to becoming a very good and hopefully necessary thing, but there's so much between a very good right now and that potential greatness down the road.

logo by American Hero Dustin Harbin
 
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Go, Look: Olivia Li

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Go, Look: Jamie Buckmaster

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

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

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Go, Look: Nova Reilly

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Richard Krauss!

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December 17, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Metaphrog's 2017 Release From Papercutz: The Little Mermaid


The Walt Disney Of Brazil


Preview Of Show On Bill Mauldin's Post-WW2 Career


Tom Toles On Climate Denial
 
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Go, Look: The Yolo Portfolio

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Go, Look: A Frank Miller Spider-Man Page

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Michael Cherkas!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Bart Sears!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Matt Hollingsworth!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Beau Smith!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Ronn Sutton!

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December 16, 2016


Go, Look: Mason And The Werewolf

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By Request Extra: Renae De Liz And Ray Dillon

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Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon are experiencing a hitch in their freelancer step this very moment. If you're a friend or a fan, you can help make this holiday a better one by seeing them on to the next gig. I hope it all works out for them!
 
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Always Fun To See The Alex Toth Conan Drawings

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* man, I am terrible at remembering this "column." All Apologies.

* Maggie Vicknair on Take Off: Second Chances.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell continues his charity efforts matching folks' donation to causes that will help mitigate/course-correct the current political situation. Happy anniversary to Gary's writing on-line in this format.
 
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Go, Look: Toy-Related Comics Covers

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Go, Look: Aja/Hollingsworth Art With Linework Dropped

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Lu and Kyle Pinion on Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special.

* what my on-line searches look like when I'm writing about comics people.

* Abraham Riesman writes about DC's "Rebirth" initiative, which people tell me has been a success for the company (I'd like to kick the tires a bit on that one before I personally endorse). What I got from that article wasn't so much an endorsement of a certain approach to superheroes as much as Geoff Johns is good at superhero comic book stuff in a way that most people aren't.

* proportional memory of a spider.

* this joke by Bully in presenting a Ditko-era Spider-Man does also remind that Ditko really pushed for a Spider-Man that would become a heroic figure on more rigid terms as the series progressed.

* finally, Katie Skelly reviews her personal 2016.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Ariel Bordeaux!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Quentin Blake!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Mike Bertino!

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December 15, 2016


Go, Read: Giant Eric Drooker Profile

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* in the least interesting and least impactful news of the year thus far, I've swapped out this column's header after two years of running an old BCGF photo. This one is I think 2014 and is definitely an SPX.

* Thought Bubble has announced for mid-September, will move to a different location and Leeds, and welcome Gerard Way of DC's Vertigo-character imprint Young Animals as its first special guest. These are all interesting moves. The September date-change will almost certainly benefit them overall, but at a week out of CXC I won't be able to attend as planned so I'm personally bummed.

* finally, here is a solid and lengthy report on the Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque.
 
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Go, Look: A Ruff Christmas

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OTBP: Altcomics Magazine #3

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Sarah Anderson and Adulthood.

image* Sean Gaffney on The Black Museum: The Ghost And The Lady Vol. 1.

* I'm saving this Charlie Hebdo article to read later. I don't think much of the magazine's last 18 months, as much as art exists in that kind of consumerist-adjacent approval/disapproval space that SNL occupies here. Every so often that editorial where I believe Riss wrote about cultural war including shopkeepers and the like comes to mind and I have to resist barfing it was so dumb.

* I don't understand how it's good for any superhero character to have so many random facets, but I don't publish, edit, write or even really read those kinds of comics.

* bundled extra: here's an article about Box Brown's next project, due in February 2018. He seemed pretty far along on it all things considered when I saw him working on the project at SPX in September, but publishing schedules are loaded now.

* in praise of Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E., this generation's Thriller.

* finally: check out this lacerating strip from Lauren Weinstein. Whew.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Colin Panetta!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Ted Slampyak!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Matthew Southworth!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, JM DeMatteis!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Zep!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Philippe Dupuy!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Randall Kirby!

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December 14, 2016


All Hail Maakies! Tony Millionaire Ends His Stupendous Alt-Weekly Achievement After 20-Plus Years...

imageThe cartoonist Tony Millionaire has announced today through social media, publisher press release and directly to his remaining clients that today's Maakies strip will be the last one in the feature's history.

His statement:
MAAKIES IS DEAD

Since that cruel icy winter in February, 1994, Drinky Crow and Maakies have been my constant companions and lifesavers. With a broken heart I sat in that bar in Brooklyn and drew comics for beers. The black coal of my heart cracked open and a bird popped out, a drunken bird, a crow, Drinky Crow. It grew, I grew, people read my little strip and they grew.

Now we're all grown up, the weekly newspapers across the world which carried the strip have almost all disappeared or dropped their comics sections for one reason or another, and here I sit, at the edge of a granite boulder, jutting out into Gloucester harbor, watching the good ship Maak sink.

This strip has been my diary, all my odd thoughts and the funny things my friends have said were jotted down in a hundred pocket notebooks and ended up in the strip, in the newspaper. I was a hard-boiled newspaperman, I was proud! The world has changed, the only comic strips that can sustain themselves anymore are those who have ambitious young strong-arms with the self-discipline to set themselves up on dedicated home-made sites or those that can land a spot on a big website or two.

Thanks to everyone who told me a good joke, to all those who told me terrible jokes which I threw in the garbage, and especially to Helena Harvilicz, without whom Maakies would have been something else entirely.

I remember Capt. Ed Grey, standing in the middle of the street in Brooklyn, his small ship sunk, homeless, his blue eyes gleaming with mania, as he stared over the cold East River, (or "sluice" as he called it,) laughing.

"What are you laughing about, Ed?"

"Oh, just the horror of being alive."

--Tony Millionaire 2016
As its creator notes, Maakies debuted in early 1994 in the New York Press. At its height sales-wise, it ran in just over two-dozen papers and the stupendous-looking originals became a much-desired premium collectible. A book series initially designed by Chip Kidd and recently re-imagined by Jacob Covey was a sales staple of early 21st Century alt-giant Fantagraphics and garnered a number of awards and additional admirers. Save for the first and final books, all of the Maakies volumes were in hardcover and in a format that presented one long strip per page.

Due to his success on Maakies, Millionaire has been able to launch two other series aimed more squarely at comic book readers and trade collection: Sock Monkey, a rollicking and touching examination of the overlap between the desires of toys and their owners, and the more wistful, slightly more straight-ahead fantasy Billy Hazelnuts. Both of the newer series should continue. Hazelnuts has a third volume in the works, while Sock Monkey is a continuing item of development interest by other media.

Millionaire currently has a strip on the Adult Swim site and plans an autobiographically-informed comics project in which longtime semi-muses Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow are planned to make appearances.

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For now, though, we say goodbye to Millionaire's signature strip, one of the great works of the fruitful and prolific alt-weekly era, perhaps the great effort of its long afternoon.

Maakies reputation moving forward will likely be based on its art, its idiosyncratic sense of humor and its unique tone. Millionaire's creation was one of the most beautifully drawn commercial strips in comics history, and is one of the few comics efforts to debut after the middle of the 20th Century that one might imagine could stand alongside the meticulously crafted greats of the first and second glory periods for newspaper comics.

Maakies was focused in large part on the sometimes feeble, sometime glorious and almost always luridly-realized efforts of the ambulatory monkey Uncle Gabby and his friend Drinky Crow to push/stumble/sort their way to advantage on the horror show that can be Planet Earth. Each character had a variety of signature moments within the strips, each was equally capable of having their desires and appetites force the action, and both were strongly featured in subsequent licensing.

As readers settled into Maakies' groove to get past the extremes of its surface action, the strip came to be defined in great part by its non-recurring elements and how individual installments were informed by its creator's psychological state.

Set primarily against a nautical backdrop of ships and seaside towns that would have been familiar territory to residents of EC Segar's Thimble Theatre, Maakies subverted multiple elements of the continuing story features. Many of Millionaire's best strips felt like a jarring reversal of an ongoing saga that a quick check of previous installments verified actually didn't exist. His featured characters could die in one strip and be fully among the living one week later. Friendships could be tweaked or altered for the sake of a gag. The constant suicides and sudden deaths by happenstance were a reflection of heavy, blackout-level drinking and desire for numbness that were necessary in a world Millionaire depicted. In the world of Maakies, the most intense experiences could become that much more so with a bullet. In Tony Millionaire's world, grand human failings and dramatically monstrous acts made characters humans and fallible as opposed to demons and indictable.

This outlandish and frequently violent action combined with the darkness of its humor did make Maakies a strong target for reader dissatisfaction and pushback, although in practical terms perhaps less for the way the strip handled certain topics than for the perceived line-crossing represented by the choice of subject matter. Millionaire told CR he believed Maakies ran into more reader resistance as the years passed, and that he expected such battles to continue in intensified fashion for the life of the feature. In at least one circumstance, Maakies' take on the world was summarily and publicly rejected by the staff of the publication in which it was appearing.

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Despite the sturdiness of Millionaire's basic presentation, part of the effectiveness of Maakies was that Millionaire carved out an enormous space for self-expression within what in other hands might have been narrow thematic grounds. Some of the most memorable Maakies installment eschewed jokes for serious, even elegiac declarations: the lyrics to Moon River, a lowering of the sails for the author Patrick O'Brian in 2000. It was one of those deviations that led to his most useful structural ploy. Millionaire crafted a bottom-tier strip within the strip, an homage to the old Sunday-comics habit of including a supplementary feature. The bottom strip almost always indulged in straightforward joke-making.

Millionaire recalled to CR a camaraderie among the alt-weekly cartoonists in the 1990s into the 2000s. He was one of the cartoonists in the early stages of his career offered the Jules Feiffer slot in the Village Voice upon that publication taking away his editorial salary and Feiffer's subsequent retirement decision in 1997. Millionaire's refusal to jump from the Press into what was at the time widely considered the flagship slot of alt-weekly comics publication was direct, contemptuous and without nuance. Millionaire told CR that there were a few strip-to-strip rivalries in terms of content and space over the years, but that most cartoonists in that world were as a rule helpful to one another. When Millionaire moved to Los Angeles, he says the cartoonist Carol Lay helped Maakies find a local outlet.



Cartoon efforts featuring the Maakies characters were shown as flash-animation shorts on Saturday Night Live and almost a decade later as its own show (The Drinky Crow Show) on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim time slot.

As a fan of Maakies for nearly the entirety of its run, I am grateful for its messy, ludicrous but largely humane worldview. Maakies has also acted as a delivery system for Millionaire himself: a larger than life, inebriated uncle-figure given to grand gestures and dramatic acts of kindness. When his strip first started in the Press many of us in towns without Maakies in our free papers heard as much about Millionaire as the strip itself: this legendary carousing giant in New York, doing this beautiful work the night before it was due, inexplicable and slightly not of this world. It was a different time.

The only thing like Maakies out there now that Maakies has ended will be whatever work Millionaire does in its place. With over 1100 strips in its history, Maakies is a strong candidate for eventual archival presentation marked by fewer, larger volumes and supporting material. It deserves that place on our bookshelves.

Tony Millionaire and I sat down for an interview on December 8 in advance of this news, and our interview will run Sunday to give it the widest possible exposure. We talk a lot about Maakies and what comes next.

I hope you'll come back and join all of those that hit CR on Sunday, its highest-traffic day.

Until then, enjoy Millionaire work here. If he's within range that he will hear you, thank him for a great comic strip. They don't come all that often.

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Go, Look: St. Louis Dispatch's Famous Cartoonists Series (1930)

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This Isn't A Library: New, 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.

*****

AUG161580 GEORGIE STORY OF MAN HIS DOG & PIN HC (C: 0-1-0) $16.95
I don't know why we're awash in occasional RO Blechman releases, but I'm not complaining. I don't even have the beginnings of a sophisticated aesthetic where Blechman is concerned, he's just right up there with Jean-Jacques Sempé in terms of cartoonists I just love to watch perform on the page. So thanks, Dover.

imageOCT161690 ONE HUNDRED NIGHTS OF HERO GN (C: 0-1-0) $25.00
This is Isabel Greenberg's new book, and that last one, The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth, kicked everyone's butt back in 2013. I liked the earlier book, and would pick this one up.

AUG160116 NEW LONE WOLF AND CUB TP VOL 11 (MR) (C: 1-1-2) $13.99
JUL161972 SHOWMAN KILLER VOL 03 (OF 3) (MR) $16.99
Your quality mainstream manga series of the month. I haven't been following either one, but it's hard to do wrong with the choices Kazuo Koike and Alejandro Jodorowsky make as writers and in terms of seeking out creative partners.

OCT160797 HAWKEYE #1 NOW $3.99
JUN161495 ART & BEAUTY #3 (MR) (C: 0-1-2) $4.95
It's an odd-as-hell week for serial comic book comics. I should probably go back and add titles that are more borderline, but I'll stick with this pair. Hawkeye this time out features the Kate Bishop version while -- and I'm guessing, could be wrong -- Clint Barton has gone back to the carny life (he's probably starring in an Avengers title, but I like my version better). Art & Beauty is the stand-alone version of the recent Crumb picture book that I thought would only be out in the trade collecting all three volumes.

SEP162235 GOLIATH HC STORYBOOK (C: 0-1-0) $24.99
This is the very talented Mike Ploog, he of the 1970s mainstream comics horror comics. There was a kickstarter for at least a similarly-named project at one point. I'll look at anything Ploog draws, even though this one sounds decidedly not up my alley.

JUN161494 WE TOLD YOU SO HC COMICS AS ART (C: 0-1-2) $49.99
Way too expensive.

JUL162011 BRIGHTER THAN YOU THINK 10 SHORT WORKS BY ALAN MOORE TP (MR) $22.95
This is Marc Sobel's book of essay accompanying all ten short stories in full, which is an interesting model. Mr. Sobel is a nice and enthusiastic man, so I hope this is a hit.

*****

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, Read: The American Cartoonist, Vol. 1 #1

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Go, Look: Funny Picture Stories #3

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Emilia Packard on The Owners Manual To Terrible Parenting.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, David Quinn!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Brendan Burford!

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December 13, 2016


Go, Listen: Jason Lutes On Process Party

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* First Second did its Fall 2017 cover reveal through Entertainment Weekly, including expected hit Spinning.

image* I keep forgetting to mention this, but Graeme McMillan had a nice, short piece up at Hollywood Reporter on 2000AD reprinting its late '80s/early '90 magic-child-of-promise series Luke Kirby as The Journal Of Luke Kirby. Like other works pulled into wider exposure from the firmament that is the Harry Potter series success, the Luke Kirby material shares a lot of elements with that much more famous set of works.

* finally, one of the benefits of going to Fantagraphics' 40th birthday party last weekend was catching up with a bunch of artists. I worked with Pat Moriarity for about two years when he art directed The Comics Journal. He's a very talented cartoonist, and in August launched a graphic novel project featuring The Gits that sounds like it's both right up his alley and the kind of thing that will make Pat stretch a bit, as with two chapters about Emiliano Zapata.

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

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Go, Look: Primetime Manny Stallman

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Midnighter Vol. 2.

* I like to imagine that Greg Evans physically entered the Luann comics universe with his family, but he probably just drew them all in this wedding scene. Also, I didn't know those strip's characters were getting married now.

* Sean Kleefeld reviews the new GoComics.com site and writes about its implications.

* I did think it was weird that veteran cartoonist Matthew Southworth was interning at Fantagraphics. God bless all our lookalikes.

* Hillary Brown talks to Ben Hatke.

* finally, peak Jason Shiga.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Kyle Baker!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Philippe Francq!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Joseph Michael Linsner!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Carl Antonowicz!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Ed Koren!

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December 12, 2016


Go, Look: This One Is Mine

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So I Went To A Book Signing And My Twenties Showed Up

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I went to the 40th Anniversary Fantagraphics book signing and general celebration over the weekend. It was sort of unbelievably nice, which is a word you don't often hear in relation to the venerable alt-comics publisher.

I doubt I'll make a formal report, but I'll keep a lot of memories from the weekend. Friday night was a downtown panel and Saturday night was a book signing and Simon Hanselmann musical performance (that's JR Williams and I think Mary Fleener above; I couldn't get my photos off of my camera) followed by a party held in a nearby space. All of the events went really well as events it seemed like, they were all beaming with good vibes. They sold some copies of We Told You So to the point a good half-dozen people were getting them signed like yearbooks and I wish I had thought of that.

I had a really, really, really good time. I got to talk to my favorite cartoonist, Jaime Hernandez, for the entire flight as Alaskan Airlines sat us next to one another in an act of coincidence that presaged the next 72 hours. I got to see and hang out with old Fantagraphics workmates Eric Reynolds, Mike Dean, David Lasky, Rhea Patton, Rebecca Bowen, Kirsten Olsen, Carol Gnojewski, Preston White, Jen Ralston, Matt Silvie, Greg Zura, Pat Moriarity and Jim Blanchard. I broke bread and conversed with friends like Megan Kelso, Ellen Forney, Jim Woodring, Mary Woodring, Peter Bagge, Ana Merino, Matthew Southworth, Noel Franklin, Mark Campos and all the new and lovely people that work at Fantagraphics currently.

It just sort of felt good, you know? And while this has been a tough year and that was there, too, and we talked a bit of the dead and absent as much as those there and thriving, it was as positive as I felt about the world of comics in a long, long time. Just getting to thank some people for being nicer to me than I deserved once upon a time, that was a wonderful thing to get to do. And every time I thought about how long ago it was that I met most of the people in that room -- and the '90s fucking represented this weekend -- there was Conrad Groth to measure it out in terms of, well, his entire life.

And maybe the best part is that every single person to whom I spoke is working on something new.
 
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Go, Read: Al Capp In Europe

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the current one about which people within virtual earshot are talking to me is 2dcloud's latest.

* as I write this, they are less than $2K away with more than eight hours left to go, so I assume the Odod Books crowd-funder will make it. You can click through to find out for sure.

* the latest three t-shirts from Seibei benefit the ACLU. I bought all three.

* and finally, the trackables: Alice W. Castle, Zanadu Comics, Russ Heath.
 
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Go, Look: John Buscema Thor Splashes

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Go, Look: Police Comics #34

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain talks to Wren McDonald.

* this article about America not valuing its artists was making the rounds late last week. It was written in part due to the collective art space fire in Oakland. I agree with it in general, although I'm careful of these kinds of arguments because I think there are a lot of artists that try to foster a whole-life professional identity around their art and aren't justified in doing so. How the US spends its money both publicly and privately, though, is awful, though, there's little denying that.

* Nick Hanover and Kim O'Connor talk about discourse in comics. As much as I'm even able to get my shit together to be involved as I should be involved, I suspect I am the orthodoxy being criticized in much of that dialogue. That's a good thing, though; one can always learn something from criticism and criticism is a frequent first step for others to find a better way of doing things.

* finally, some not comics: Wilson has a release date: March 24. At some point close to that time you'll get my full story about visiting the set with Ed Piskor and Tim Hodler as "the comics press," which was fun but I basically did it for the free ride to LAX on the morning-of.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Pat Lewis!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Mark Landman!

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December 11, 2016


Go, Look: Michael Dooley On Paul Krassner And Fake News

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

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Happy 59th Birthday, Peter Bagge!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Lewis Trondheim!

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December 10, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Zunar Profiled


Signe Wilkinson At A TED Event In 2015




Three Featuring Mike Luckovich


I Thought I Told You To Shut Up
 
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Go, Look: A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

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

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

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

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

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Happy 38th Birthday, Jason Leivian!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Chaz Troug!

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Happy 96th Birthday, Dan Spiegle!

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I have also seen December 12 as the date of Mr. Spiegle's birth
 
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December 9, 2016


Go, Look: Paris In The Summer

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The 2017 Angouleme Festival Prize Selections Are Up

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I'd start here and work you way through the pop-ups that come when you use the "Prix et Palmares" link in the left-hand column. There are still some 2016 lists lurking around in there, so be careful.

I'll do a full list myself for this site Monday or Tuesday.

Congratulations to the many members of a strong North American contingent with whom I'm friends. Congratulations to all people, all contingents, whether I know you or not.
 
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Missed It: Brooklyn's BookCourt To Shut Down

I think Derf had this on his Facebook feed, because it escaped my attention entirely that key indie bookstore BookCourt in Cobble Hill is closing down. A bookstore will rise in its place, but it won't be the same for many of those customers and the community served.

Two things. One is I think it's likely that retail of all kinds will have a shorter life moving forward, which will change comics culture as a successful shop will be one that lasts 15 years rather than 40. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it will be different. The other is times may be tough for any business that doesn't have huge profit margins, and anything that depends on folks' loyalty above simple economic forces.
 
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Go, Look: The Jaundiced Eye

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Pair Of Excelsior Awards Short Lists Released

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The Excelsior Awards announced their short lists this week. That's an awards program selected by school students, sort of like a few of the awards given out at Angouleme but in this case I believe constituting the entire program.

The older kids (11-16 years old) picked:

* Audubon: On the Wings of the World, Fabien Grolleau And Jeremie Royer (Nobrow Press)
* Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Ta-Nehisi Coates And Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)
* Captain America: White, Jeph Loeb And Tim Sale (Marvel)
* Clear Blue Tomorrows, Fabien Vehlmann And Bruno Gazzotti (Cinebook)
* Shuirken and Pleats Vol. 1, Hino Matsuri (Viz Media)
* Superman: Lois and Clark, Dan Jurgens And Lee Weeks And Scott Hanna And Sergio Cariello (DC Comics)
* We Are Robin: The Vigilante Business Lee Bermejo And Jorge Corona (DC Comics)
* Yona of the Dawn Vol. 1, Mizuho Kusanagi (Viz Media)

The younger kids (8-11 years old) picked:

* DC Superhero Girls: Finals Crisis Shea Fontana And Yancey Labat (DC Comics)
* Luna the Vampire, Yasmin Sheikh (IDW Books)
* Mega Robo Bros, Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)
* Nightlights, Lorena Alvarez (Nobrow)
* Tamsin and the Deep, Neill Cameron And Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)

I have no idea reading these articles if a winner gets selected or if this is the final accounting, but it's always interesting to see what kids react to.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: LB Cole Images Gallery

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Bundled Extra: Fantagraphics Announces All-Time Comics

imageI saw a tweet about Fantagraphics marshaling some of the younger mainstream-conscious alt-talent and pairing them with older artists and existing work into a series of books under the umbrella All-Time Comics. I imagine there's a brokered announcement article out there somewhere. Josh Bayer will be writing the stories, it looks like.

It's certainly an area that these artists are exploring already in their own work and minis and on-line commentary, with concurrent interest in a variety of more mainstream sources, so a formal series makes sense. I look forward to seeing it, even though I don't ascribe the same kind of value to the referenced work. Lost/last work by Herb Trimpe interests the historian in me, that's for sure.

As a side note, one item I saw says they'll be publishing Rick Buckler, son of Rich Buckler. The elder Buckler once sued All-Time's publisher for characterizations made in The Comics Journal. That lawsuit was unsuccessful.
 
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OTBP: Various Lale Westvind Comics

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By Request Extra: Odod Books Kickstarter Makes Strong Move Into Its Final Phase

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Uncivilized Books' campaign for its kids line Odod is heading into its final three days in much better shape than previously, climbing past the 70 percent point. The remaining amount of fundraising seems difficult but achievable to me. The books, of course, look extremely nice.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Cartoonists' Christmas Cards

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Old Days: Good Times I Don't Remember

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Here.

It's the Fanta crew in the memory shuttle. I was in Indiana going to middle school.
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Guns Of Fact And Fiction #13

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Joe Gordon on The Unworthy Thor #1. Rob Clough on More Heroes Of The Comics. Glen David Gold on Krazy and George Herriman more generally. James Yeh on Sequential Drawings.

* didn't catch this before now: 2dcloud has another crowd-funder going. That's a company for whom crowd-funders are a leg on the stool.

* finally, Mike Dawson and Zack Soto talk to Rina Ayuyang. Robert Newman profiles Drew Friedman.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Kelly Alder!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Nate Neal!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Jack Ruttan!

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December 8, 2016


Go, Look: The Bridge

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Festivals Extra: Event Photos From CALA 2016

I attended the Saturday afternoon of a two-day Comics Arts Los Angeles, at Think Tank Gallery -- that's in downtown LA on Maple. I had a really good time. I believe it was a successful show, although I only have a limited sample from which to project.

I think one thing that CALA has in common with Comic Arts Brooklyn in that both are really good selling shows, with a lot of unique artists due to the wider industries available in each city, artists that are looking for a place to ply their paper wares and related items. It's an extremely young show, both in terms of its own growth (this is year three) and in terms of its exhibitor base. There seem to be a lot of makers in the audience. It feels like an end-of-the-year show, people wrapping things up, talking about 2017 in broad terms, creative pushes, sabbaticals, re-calibrations.

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My brother Whit took a bunch of photos at the show. He lives on the fissure line between Burbank and North Hollywood, a space occupied by a lot of comics people. We took the Red Line down to the Pershing Square shop, where you go to hit The Last Bookstore. We got brunch at Little Easy, a bar+kitchen with two spaces carved into the city block that are intended to be reminiscent of two kinds of New Orleans drinking establishments: the big old bar, curtain-heavy kind, and the courtyard-oriented kind. The brunch was good. The clientele was younger than the two of us, but not in an accelerated fashion.

There was a line outside CALA at 1 PM Saturday. Because it's in a gallery space that isn't obviously a comics show from the street, this gave the moment a hilarious clichéd LA feel. Chip Mosher cut in line to go in with us. It took about 20 minutes. It was not so crowded upstairs it felt like a show that would have a line, but I remember 2014 being hot and cramped and am happy they were doing what it took to not repeat that experience. That third shot is neighborhood shot; there's a lot going on down there on a random Saturday afternoon, and I enjoyed the walk through all the clothing- and fabric-focused stores. Super-bummed the nearby Starbucks shut down their bathroom, but totally understand.

****

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This is a few shots of the inside while we were there, and a fair representation of the show's audience and crowd-level while we were in the second floor space. They had a nice balance: people were busy, but if you stopped and talked to someone for 90 seconds or so it didn't feel like you were jamming up someone else's day. I don't know if they need to relocate the major part of the show or not.

*****

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The map gives you another look at the show's size and if you can read it an idea of the quality of the exhibitor. It was high for a show like this one. I didn't see a single person that felt strongly out of place and only a few that maybe seemed they could have made a stronger showing a year or two down the line. Good shopping room. Books and paper mostly, but plenty of t-shirts. The books were mostly handmade and small. A couple of shopping highlights for me were John Pham selling his latest and beautiful-looking books and Lisa Hanawalt had a bunch of original art going of various sizes and intensity, some just art and I think some pages.

*****

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There were more people here I recognized than in 2014, I think because the show is slightly more attractive and I've gotten to know a few more younger cartoonists at such events. This is an inconsistent and incomplete sampling in threes for the bulk of the rest of the pages. That's Lisa Hanawalt, Dustin Harbin and Charles Hatfield. Hanawalt's in the middle of her animation work year, but seems happy with the rollout for her 2016 book. Harbin had his pile of wares. My brother was wearing a Harbin t-shirt. Charles and I talked briefly of Comics Studies Society doings. It's always great to see him, and he was one of the contributing writers during my era of TCJ.

*****

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Kevin Czap and Cathy G. Johnson at their tables right next to one another seemed to be doing brisk business, as did creative partners Rebecca Mock and Hope Larson (on Compass South), seated next to one another. I got a chance to tell Hope I've enjoyed her public posts about vocational issues, which I think a lot of creators feel reluctant to address.

*****

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My brother and I have taken enough photos of Chris Pitzer to do a coffee table book and this is one of the Pitzeriest photos ever. He had AdHouse t-shirts for those of us that ordered them. I liked that Ryan Sands looked like a somewhat sleepy, van-driving Dad on his way to pick up salted Irish butter at the drive-through convenience store. Ben Sears was located next to Harbin. I don't know him all that well except to recognize I probably shouldn't introduce myself again, but I've enjoyed the last few comics of his I've seen.

*****

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Ryan Cecil Smith was selling a loose-leaf explanation of how to best employ Risograph printing methods on behalf of your own work. It was the only publication I physically bought at the show. He is also in the NoHo area. I've enjoyed his comics for years and it seems to me he's been ready for several years to take that next step in terms of finding a bigger, more trenchant audience. Sophie Yanow was a long way from her teaching gig in Vermont. She's a great add for them up there. Malachi Ward had an Image book there, which I don't think anyone else did even though there was a smattering of folks' book-publisher books on seemingly every table. Good book, too.

*****

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After introducing me to Cecil Castellucci, Chip and my brother an I went in his car -- my brother apparently took pictures of us gossiping from his back-seat perch -- and over to the remodeled and restored Clifton's for cafeteria-type dinner. Both the original place and its restoration have a place in LA's heart, and Chip talked about living in Los Angeles as a now-veteran member of the local community: vital, scattered, professionally-oriented. We also talked about areas of potential growth for comics people in the next few years. It was a really good time.

And so was CALA, really. That's a pleasing show that isn't running ahead of itself. I hope that in the next few years it might find ways to plug and play a few more socially-driven events around town -- there have been strong satellite events both years I've attended but not core-show stuff -- and that it will continue to get a crowd of people that just want to come to Los Angeles for a few days. It hasn't quite figured out that component, but I think it will get there. There's a lot of energy in that room, and a professional sheen that says of those mostly young cartoonists that they are going to do the comics they want to do and they're not asking for permission, access or for a specific outcome.

*****

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Let's end with Sam Alden, who de-aged 15 months during the two hours I was in the room with him and will one day win a major comics award he'll be too young to lift over his head. Sam seemed happy with the new work he's doing, and as one of the first cartoonists in his age group to make a bunch of people decades older take notice I'm glad to see him challenging himself and ensconced in a community that can find him work and multiple creative outlets.

I hope Sunday went as well, and I hope the show will be back next year. With more and more people moving to Los Angeles, there are chances to grow strictly according to their own desires, which is an exciting thing for comics. I'll return every time I can and one day I hope to burn through the room buying something from every table -- a modest comics dream, likely achievable.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Gotlib Gallery

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the Society Of Illustrators has announced their MoCCA Festival for April 1-2 of 2017 and a nicely-selected group of special guests in terms of range of style: Blutch, Cliff Chiang, Becky Cloonan, Drew Friedman, David Lloyd and Gene Luen Yang.

* nice catch by Heidi MacDonald and The Beat that two of the "Amazing" comics shows have been canceled, with two left going. It's indeed a crowded market and we're going to see some of these local-to-regional shows take a pass on moving forward. I think in the short term the market saturation for such shows is going to be felt in the way the shows function.

* I'd take art lessons from Howard Chaykin. I expect to see something like this at every show by the beginning of 2018.

* finally, I don't think I announced all of them, but you can read about WonderCon's six waves of special guests announced through Thanksgiving weekend over at the Comic-Con site. I'd like to do that show next year, and I think people are going to start finding reasons to do the Southern California shows more generally.
 
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If I Were In Detroit, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Superboy Cover Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Wrecked Hearts.

* Rob Salkowitz analyzes the latest financing moves from Wizard World, which while I'm sure there are some nice people involved in there somewhere, sound repulsive: money being pushed around by rich folks who made their money standing near other people's efforts to support an institution that may or may not ever make money by itself but certainly seems to provide benefits to those involved while it flops around. I would be sad if that business went away on behalf of those comics creators for whom it's still an anchor of what they do and how they make a living, but it's difficult for me not to see this as a symptom of capitalist excess rather than a benign outgrowth of its higher functions.

* Ben Novotny Owen talks to Laurenn McCubbin.

* finally, Mike Sterling believes in the power of pictures.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Erik Larsen!

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Happy 49th Birthday, David Lasky!

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December 7, 2016


Go, Look: Cathrin Peterslund

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Chloe Eudaly Says Goodbye On Behalf Of Reading Frenzy As Her Elected Office Duties Take Over

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Here. Portland's Reading Frenzy was a wonderful store to have in my array of shopping options in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s. I bought a lot of handmade publications there. I wish Chloe Eudaly luck with the issues on which she ran; there's a staggering amount of need to be addressed.
 
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Go, Look: A Legacy Of Absence

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Festivals Extra: CAKE Extends Exhibitor Application Deadline

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Here. It's December 12 now. They've done this in the past, and it makes sense with the timing of a show where the exhibitor applications have to be done before the holidays there might be some maneuvering with the deadlines.

CAKE is one of the five or six jewels at the local/regional level for small press and arts comics, fully worthy of a visit by comics fans who can get there and anyone national who wants to travel to the great city of Chicago in the beautiful summertime. I hope to go.

The show is June 10-11 in 2017. Get off the El (I'm with Algren) a few stops early south or north and walk the rest of the way.
 
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Go, Look: Hanna K

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This Isn't A Library: New, 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.

*****

AUG162204 ROBERT CRUMB SKETCHBOOK HC VOL 01 JUNE 64 - MAR 66 (MR) $39.99
This is the time of year where you get all the Christmas stuff + all the stuff that the publishers want to get out before the year ends + all the stuff delayed for summer that makes sense for it to come out for the holidays if it's not going to be out when the weather is warm. These end up being a few crowded weeks, that last of November, beginning of December. You won't find a more interest book to read than the 400+ pages making up a Taschen mass release paperback featuring mid-1960s work from Robert Crumb. His sketchbooks are one of the great treasures of comics, unless you're just unable to process certain elements of his work.

AUG160082 BALTIMORE HC VOL 07 EMPTY GRAVES $24.99
I don't always recognize the Mignola-verse work in its trade paperback/hardcover collection form, but this is probably the best way to collect it given how much there is month to month.

imageOCT161325 GIANT DAYS #21 $3.99
OCT160062 RISE OF THE BLACK FLAME #4 (OF 5) $3.99
SEP160715 ARCLIGHT #3 (MR) $3.99
OCT160487 SUPER F*CKERS FOREVER #5 (OF 5) SUBSCRIPTION VAR (MR) $4.99
OCT160631 REVIVAL #45 (MR) $3.99
OCT160648 WALKING DEAD #161 CVR A ADLARD & STEWART (MR) $2.99
OCT160649 WALKING DEAD #161 CVR B CONNECTING ADAMS & FAIRBAIRN (MR) $2.99
OCT160652 WICKED & DIVINE #24 CVR A MCKELVIE & WILSON (MR) $3.50
SEP168679 UNWORTHY THOR #1 (OF 5) 2ND PTG COIPEL VAR NOW $3.99
OCT160874 UNWORTHY THOR #2 (OF 5) $3.99
OCT161323 GOLDIE VANCE #8 $3.99
Here are the comic-book comics I could find. John Allison first, followed by Mignola-verse material. Arclight looks like it will wrap up in a fourth issue after this long-delayed third one. Another cycle of James Kochalka's Superfuckers comes to a close; I still find those comics pretty funny. Revival is lurching towards its end in fits and starts. Walking Dead may never end, but that's actually a significant part of its underlying concept, that freedom from narrative pressures to answer things and wrap them up. Wicked & Divine loses me every now and then just in terms of my being able to track the narrative. This is one of those times, although I continue to keep the issues and am certain I'll figure out my blind spots within a quarter year. I bought the first issue of that Thor comic and thought it fine. I'm not the biggest fan of the Marvel space milieu. Goldie Vance takes us right back around to the same group of comics in which Giant Days is most frequently placed.

JUN160568 DITKO UNLEASHED HC $59.99
JUL160615 JACK KIRBY PENCILS & INKS HC $49.99
I'm in for every single iteration and gift book and reprint from both Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, save perhaps for straight-up reprints from weaker mainstream-comics periods.

AUG160549 STEVE CANYON HC VOL 07 1959-1960 $49.99
I'm also a great fan of Milton Caniff, but more out of respect than endearment. The Steve Canyon material is handsome as all hell, but big chunks of it are a less than exciting read for my eyeballs. It'd be a different strip on the other side of the decade, although ironically maybe not enough of a different one.

JUL160815 BLUE MONDAY TP VOL 02 ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS $14.99
This was an important work for a number of comics readers and creators now in their early 30s. This kind of work does nothing for me, but I have to imagine a lot of fans are happy to see it again.

SEP161125 CAPTAIN AMERICA STEVE ROGERS TP VOL 01 HAIL HYDRA $19.99
JUN160954 DEADPOOL BY POSEHN AND DUGGAN OMNIBUS HC $100.00
Two comics from the part of Marvel ostensibly designed to serve bookstores. I haven't heard much of anything recently about Captain America's heel turn in his comic book several months ago. Given how news organization love news that's been proven popular by its link to previously popular news items, that's saying something. I'm sure the story has continued to push forward. The Deadpool book is from that weird part of their line where you can't imagine anyone dropping that kind of money regularly but quickly realize they don't need a lot of people to make that work. I would imagine this is a big chunk of the material by which Deadpool became actually funny as opposed to comic-book funny, but Deadpool fans always get mad at me when I say that, in-between shouting names of creators at me I've never heard of.

OCT161623 BARBARELLA HC (MR) $24.95
Always. Every edition is worth a look.

OCT161624 BY THE NUMBERS GN $24.95
This is a work featuring comics by the L'Association co-founder Stanislas, and looks retro as all hell. Sign me up.

OCT161643 SHADOWEYES SC DLX ED (MR) $30.00
This is a redirected reprint via Spike Trotman of Sophie Campbell's beautiful-looking work.

JUN161208 BLEEDING COOL MAGAZINE #24 (MR) $5.99
All praise to BC for their devotion to print.

OCT162164 1964 NEW YORK COMICON TRUE STORY BEHIND WORLDS 1ST COMIC CON $29.95
Ever single word in the title of this book is like a direct pitch to my wallet. All of it is execution, though, so I'll withhold judgment one way or the other until I catch up.

SEP162216 PETER BAGGE CONVERSATIONS SC $25.00
I love listening to Peter talk. I think he may be over-interviewed at this point, given how many projects he's done and how open he is to assisting their promotion, but a strong hand here should yield an excellent collection.

OCT162167 KRAZY BLACK & WHITE WORLD OF GEORGE HERRIMAN HC $35.00
A book of the year candidate, I waited 11 years to publish a book on comics just so I could lose any chance of an industry award to this sucker. I'm reading it right now, actually, and it's quite good.

*****

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: Chris Ware Original Art For One-Pager

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Go, Look: Marvel Mystery Comics #89

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Mark Peters on Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye #1.

* Michael C. Lorah profiles Terry Moore. Brett White talks to Charles Soule. Nick Hasted talks to Art Spiegelman, in a major-looking one I definitely missed. Steven Cuevas profiles a post-election Steve Weissman. Rudraneil Sengupta and Elizabeth Kuruvilla talk to Liza Donnelly. Peter Rowe profiles Ron Campbell.

* word that a statue featuring Ham Fisher and his creation Joe Palooka will be restored. The base had deteriorated.

* never saw the TV show but I liked the Lucifer comics I read a few years back.

* finally: man, that Rob Liefeld art was sure something.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Katsuya Terada!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Jason Lutes!

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December 6, 2016


Go, Look: Al Columbia Drawings

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Bundled Extra: Cartoonist Rick Veitch Releases First Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends In Twenty Years

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Industry veteran Rick Veitch wrote in yesterday morning to say that he's published the first issue of his Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends to see the marketplace in 20 years. This was Veitch's dream diary comic, and a key player in the late-'80s to mid-'90s market shake-up in terms of what could be supported or not and how well in terms of personal expression given the margin of returns on self-published work. It was also the best work of an admirable career, ongoing.

It is not released through Diamond but is available on Amazon. It is also not the first work from Veitch to be released that way this year.

Veitch has written about the new release here.
 
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Go, Look: Strange Window

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Go, Shop: Sunday Press Books Offers Holiday Sale

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I'm not going to sort out everyone's Christmas sales offerings, but I was struck by this one from Sunday Press Books for a few reasons. One is that's a single-person operation as opposed to a conventional business. Another is that all of those books are beautiful. Yet another is that the discounts are pretty great. I wonder sometimes if we're not going to see a massive fade in relative interest in older work over the next 10-15 years, so I want everyone who does that kind of archival work to do as well as possible in the meantime.
 
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Not Comics: Illustrations From Mansfield Park

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Ron Regé Jr. will have a new collection and a reprint of an older collection out from Fantagraphics next Spring.

image* not sure I'd seen a cover for the next Mimi Pond book. I don't know if it's the final version, but it could be. I liked the world created in that first book.

* speaking of things I've seen on Amazon, it'll be good to have more translated Dupuy and Berberian.

* I mentioned this project when it was initially announced -- I'm a fan of Tara Avery -- but here's a reminder the all-trans comics anthology We're Still Here is looking for submissions.

* I like the Inhumans characters, although I'm not sure I've liked any of the post-1970s comics featuring those character. Still, hope springs eternal, and Christian Ward is a strong artist.

* a new Wasp series previewed. I share Gilbert Hernandez's fondness for the character in the original '60s comics as having some life an interest and humor to her, but have no idea how she's been used since and no experience with the current character bearing that superhero mantle. I like that there are superhero comics for a variety of people now.

* Colleen Coover's Small Favors will enjoy a collection published by Oni's naughty offshoot Limerence Press, "limerence" being a fine SAT word. Those comics were the highlight of the last period Eros Comix had a little market presence.

* this comic that represented a good job for some people I'm sure although it looks light on a human touch to me has been canceled. That's always sad.

* I did not know about Jillian Tamaki's picture book, but I bet it will be something to see.

* finally, Keeli McCarthy's art direction on the next Fante Bukowski book is pretty great. Author Noah Van Sciver agrees.

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

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Go, Look: An Original Seth Page From Palooka-Ville Vol. 21

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Fruits Basket Collector's Edition Vol. 6. Chris Sims previews the latest issue of the Midnighter And Apollo series and generally recommends it. Tara Marie on Paper Girls. RJ Casey on Perfect Hair.

* Elle Collins talks to Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart. Alex Dueben talks to Kerascoet.

* here's Jakob Free on Marvel's Moon Knight character. Moon Knight was created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin.

* Mike Ives profiles Zunar for the New York Times. There's a certain level of irony that it's this kind of coverage that seems to fuel at least part of the resentment Malaysian authorities feel for the cartoonist. That doesn't mean that the coverage has one goddamn thing for which to apologize.

* finally, here's Magdalene Visaggio on why the new sincerity has changed comics.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Robin Riggs!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Paul Jenkins!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Claire Wendling!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Leonard Kirk!

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December 5, 2016


OTBP: Epoxy Cartoon Magazine

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Go, Read: Article On The Post-Development Move Status Of The Beguiling And Its Outlets

Something that unites many comics fans of the fervent, alt-comics variety with many other camps of comics-makers is their abiding love for The Beguiling, the Toronto super-store owned by Peter Birkemoe whose prominent personalities includes the convention organizer and industry advocate Chris Butcher. They've been on the clock for a move since a very prominent development project got underway, best known in the news for having an effect on the Honest Ed's store. Here's a mournful story on the implications for some of the single-structure businesses including and surrounding the comics shop.

The latest story notes that a new space has been found, they'll be operational in the new year with a potential soft launch this month, the kids-comics store Little lsland will close its physical location and makes some of its stock available at the library-housed Page and Panel location, and they're looking for additional space with an emphasis on places that can encompass live events. This is all noteworthy for the quality and history of the retailer, although I'm not sure how much analysis there is to be made beyond noting each move is in play.

As always, we wish Birkemoe and Team Beguiling the best of luck and trust in the wisdom of any decisions they make in getting where they want to go.

thanks, Dave Knott, for the nudge
 
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Go, Look: Stalin

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Paul Pope and Out Of Step Arts have done a nice-looking print, $5 of which will go to support Hero Initiative. I bet that will be special-looking when in-hand. Pope is a powerful visual talent.

* there is still some work to do on the Odod Books crowd-funder, which could use both individual action and maybe a major white knight or two. I wish I could be one of these latter kinds of people; I think those books look extremely attractive and hope they're published the way Uncivilized wants to see them published.

* all of Seibei's goods are sold with a charitable donation in mind, and I bought the latest three t-shirts with a relationship to the ACLU for a family member.

* I don't know how his Christmas sale went, but I'm fond of Jeremy Eaton and know he lives close to the vest in terms of his art-making so I hope you'll consider him or a worthy artist like him for some holiday-sales attention this month and into the new year.

* others we've tracked recently: Alice W. Castle's personal funding request, legendary Seattle comics shop Zanadu looking for some relief, the great Russ Heath seeking some volunteer help, a pretty healthy-looking Drew Friedman documentary poised to take care of its back half, whatever this Dave Sim effort is trying to do, Frank Quitely's animation effort is looking to add more to its just-reached goal.

* finally, Hans Rickheit wrote in to suggest that the artist Mathew Van Dinter should have his patreon supported.
 
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Go, Look: Bill Sienkiewicz Images Gallery

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Go, Look: Crack Comics #6

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on The Flash #3. AJ Frost on Star Wars Annual #2.

* a few CR readers closely following the post-election political coverage sent in links to articles about a cabinet appointment for someone whose financial history includes working with superhero-type movies. If there's nothing else we've learned recently it's about all the different ways people can make a lot of money.

* not comics: the body count from Oakland continues to rise. I don't know of any unlicensed spaces with a lot of comics-maker participation, but certainly know people that lived in such space in the 1990s and certainly know some near-squatters now.

* they seem to be rolling out X-Men comics announcements on a continuing basis, enough I feel my column about publishing news can't handle the news overload. I think that's too bad: I feel like that valuable set of concepts that is that corner of Marvel could use a break from a bunch of different titles all taffy-pulling a limited number of already-established ideas. I'd be open to counter-arguments on that, for sure. It's not really my area. I guess my thesis is that most ways to conceive of the X-Men are less sturdy than the company might think, and that the checklist-driven notion of making sure each agreed-upon popular concept has its own comic book might even keep new formulations from popping up.

* finally, Robert Boyd talks to Scott Gilbert.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Chris Mautner!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Bill Mudron!

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Happy 92nd Birthday, Sam Glanzman!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Ron Regé Jr.!

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December 4, 2016


Gotlib, RIP

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Feel Better, Carol Tyler!

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Go, Look: 40th Birthday Images Received By Brandon Graham

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Go, Look: Ivan Brunetti Gag Cartoons

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

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If I Were In The Republic Of Malta, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 55th Birthday, Michael Neno!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Scott Morse!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Joel Priddy!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Geof Isherwood!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, R. Sikoryak!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Régis Loisel!

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FFF Results Post #466 -- Peace On Earth

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Industry Pairings You'd Like to See Sing A Bowie/Crosby Style Christmas Medley." This is how they responded.

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* Abhay Khosla and Dan DiDio (Oliver Ristau)
* Alan Light and Gary Groth (Dave Knott)
* Alan Moore and Grant Morrison (Dave Knott)
* Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Raina Telgemeier (Tom Spurgeon)
* Andrew MacLean/Tim Truman (Stergios Botzakis)

* Anna Haifisch and Gina Wynbrandt (Oliver Ristau)
* Annie Koyama and Dan Nadel (Nathan Chazan)
* Brandon Graham and Dave Sim (Nathan Chazan)
* Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Brandon Graham (Oliver Ristau)
* Dan Clowes and Seth (Sean Kleefeld)

* Dan Didio/Stan Lee (Stergios Botzakis)
* Dave Sim and Jeff Smith (Dave Knott)
* Erika Moen and Lucy Bellwood (Sean Kleefeld)
* Gary Groth and Joe McCulloch (Tom Spurgeon)
* Chester Brown and Nina Bunjevac (Tom Spurgeon)

* James Kochalka/Seth (Stergios Botzakis)
* Joe McCulloch and Frederick Schodt (Nathan Chazan)
* Kate Beaton/Ramona Fradon (Stergios Botzakis)
* Lynda Barry and Marie Severin (Sean Kleefeld)
* Matt Fraction/Jim Steranko (Stergios Botzakis)

* Mia Schwartz and Frank Cho (Oliver Ristau)
* Michael Deforge and Kazuo Umezu (Nathan Chazan)
* Neil Gaiman and Eddie Campbell (Sean Kleefeld)
* Ramona Fradon and Steve Ditko (Oliver Ristau)
* Sarah Horrocks and Pat Mills (Nathan Chazan)

* Shirtless Scott Adams and Matt Bors (Tom Spurgeon)
* Simon Hanselmann and John Byrne (Tom Spurgeon)
* Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Dave Knott)
* Steve Ditko and Stan Lee (Sean Kleefeld)
* Ted Rall and Danny Hellman (Dave Knott)

*****

thanks to all that participated

*****
*****
 
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December 3, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Abhishek Draws


Sarah Glidden Interviewed


A Visit With Liza Donnelly


Lucy Bellwood On Stage


Nadia Khiari Profiled


Two Mikes At OSU
 
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If I Were In Philly, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In The Republic Of Malta, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 45th Birthday, Grant Goggans!

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Happy 64th Birthday, John Warner!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Mike Saenz!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Don Simpson!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Brandon Graham!

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December 2, 2016


Go, Look: Ashley Robin Franklin

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By Request Extra: Zanadu Comics Launches GoFundMe

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Venerable (in comics terms) Seattle comics store Zanadu has launched a GoFundMe to basically stabilize operations -- that's what the description sounds like to me, anyway. That was the store of my 1990s Seattle, at least in terms of a full-service comics shop in the heart of downtown, where you could find all the superhero comics, most of the alternative comics and things like random volumes of that Wash Tubbs series from back in the day.

I wish the best of luck to Perry and his employees and will look into sending along some money myself.
 
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Go, Look: Art From Nat Turner

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On The Struggle Of Comics Retail

Here. The specific observations are more interesting than the assault on the question raised. Hibbs is also happy to mention the minimum wage being raised within certain urban areas as a worrisome thing for smaller businesses, which isn't usually included in those kinds of concerns.

I hope comics can keep its retail arm. It's become a significant advantage, I think, and adds to the art form's attached culture.
 
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Go, Look: The Imitation Man

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Your School Library Journal Top 10 Graphic Novels For 2016

Brigid Alverson and friends at SLJ recommend the following from 2016's multiple offerings.

image* Compass South: Four Points, Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock (Farrar)
* Ghosts, Raina Telgemeier and Braden Lamb (Scholastic)
* Hilda and the Stone Forest, Luke Pearson (Nobrow)
* Hippopotamister, John Patrick Green (First Second)
* March: Book Three, John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
* Mighty Jack, Ben Hatke (First Second)
* Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, Ben Clanton (Tundra)
* The Nameless City, Faith Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire (First Second)
* Science Comics: Dinosaurs, MK Reed and Joe Flood (First Second)
* Snow White, Matt Phelan (Candlewick; Pictured)

That's an interesting list for its focus and resulting attention to lines outside traditional comics discourse. First Second is within those bounds, and Ben Hatke is quite the force now.
 
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Go, Look: Jeannie Phan

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Missed It: Kelly Fernandez Wins CAKE Cupcake Award

imageIn a part of the year desperate for good news, Caitlin McGurk of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum posted that Kelly Fernandez was selected this year's Cupcake Award winner, a program run by the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE). Congratulations to the winner.

One of the things that Fernandez will receive is mentoring from McGurk. I like programs like this: the community has to forge connections as industry vacates that role.

You can see the winner's work here.
 
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Go, Look: Curated Bunch Of Old Holiday Gag Cartoons

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Lauren Davis looks at webcomics ready to make that cross-media leap, which I'm sort of surprised hasn't been more of a thing.

* Jon Erik Christianson talks to Tyrel Pinnegar. Kieran Shiach talks to John Allison.

* Gary Tyrrell covers the latest Spike Trotman project from a publishing news standpoint, which of course it is.

* finally, Shvaugn Craig recommends some favorite webcomics.
 
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Go, Look: Lee Weeks Pencil-Art Gallery

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Go, Look: Guns Of Fact And Fiction

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is your daily reminder that Resist! is looking for submissions.

image* Maggie Vicknair on Wilde Life.

* Daniel Elkin suggests a few indy/alt comics as holiday presents. That's another vote for the Luke Healy book as a sleeper for 2016.

* Jude Terror assembles an interesting on-line conversation here involving the artist Greg Capullo over whether or not it's possible for people to disengage with politics entirely, as, for example, doing so indicates the kind of privilege that only extends to a limited number of creators. I'm reminded that at the first SDCC panel on blogging, several of the creators noted the intensity and passion that was engaged by political expression whether or not it had a comics tie-in. I'd say political discourse is deeply, deeply intertwined with how people express themselves on-line and now that we're in a Trump-inspired armageddon of rhetorical ploys, all of this just became 10X more complicated.

* here's a nice piece from George Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand on a gift drawing from the cartoonist to producer Hal Roach.

* missed it: the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum was given the original art for "Superduperman."

* finally, FPI Blog kicks off their annual survey of working professionals on best comics of the year with Metaphrog.
 
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Happy 30th Birthday, RJ Casey!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Andy Mangels!

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Happy 45th Birthday, John Hankiewicz!

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December 1, 2016


Go, Read: Why Is The Great Barrier Reef Dying?

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Cartoonist Musa Kart Still Imprisoned In Turkey

One of the things about the adage "this will never happen here" is that we're close enough now to imagine things happening and at least in my imagination, there is little in the way of reprisal that's effective and sets things right. The support for cartoonist Musa Kart and other opinion leaders accused of supporting a military coup continues, but it doesn't seem like the political lever of support is in any way connected to reality of change, and that's terrifying.
 
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Go, Look: Can These Cookies Stop Islamophobia?

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By Request Extra: Comics For Choice Puts Out Submissions Call

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Here. The comic will benefit the National Network for Abortion Funds. It will be co-edited by Whit Taylor, Hazel Newlevant and OK Fox.
 
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Go, Look: Frank Frazetta Sketchbook Pages

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this weekend is CALA. Barring my failure to make it happen, I'll be there Saturday.

* there are also shows in Malta, Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

* Joe Gordon went to the Edinburgh Comic Art Festival, a new show with a nice-looking space and access to a pub called The Royal Dick. I'm sold.

* FIBD-related articles start to spring up in early December for the late January show. Thus far I've only seen this travel article on the city in general.

* here's a Jewish Comic Con report.

* finally, the grand Chicago show CAKE has a date and an artist. It's good to read they're doing a set of dates that is not the same weekend as HeroesCon and A2CAF.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Gronk Comics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Maggie Vicknar on Rumplestiltskin and Dumbing Of Age. Rob Clough on the Yeah Dude Comics Box. Todd Klein on Gladiator and Doctor Fate #16. Brian Nicholson on Low Light. Joe Gordon on Cormorance and Modern Slorance: The Berlin Issue. Paul O'Brien on Death Of X. Alexander Lu on Ms. Marvel #13.

* Mike Dawson and Zack Soto talk to Tom Kaczynski.

* Scott Dunbier shows off a page from the Starstruck Artist's Edition.

* here is what is self-styled as a definitive list of comics publisher submission policies and practices.

* finally, this Jonathan Hickman tweet made me laugh.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Matt Fraction!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Gary Panter!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Frank Tieri!

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