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
















March 31, 2017


Go, Look: Super-Fun Jungle Action Splash Pages

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By Request Extra: The Writer Peter David Needs Help With A Back-Tax Issue

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Here. It's not an uncommon story and the need is real. I am no better at these kinds of things. Please consider donating, and let's all have a talk about professional development issues and services later this year, if we can muster the strength.
 
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Go, Look: More Mid-Century Gag Cartoons

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By Request Extra: Kieran Schiach's Safety Net

The just-let-go (they were all let go) CA staffer Kieran Shiach has gone to gofundme.com to solicit potential safety net funding to pay rent in the months moving forward. We rarely get to help non-creatives in this fashion, so I hope you'll consider joining me. Also, they got two days' notice, which would be a rock up side the head of about 93 percent of all people working in comics.

My fondest wish is that everyone get met at their point of need, and we can have discussions about it later. We just can't forget to have the discussion. Our best wishes for new gigs and better times ahead for Mr. Schiach and his fiancee.
 
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OTBP: Everything I Needed To Know About Life I Learned From Marvel Comics

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ComicsAlliance Placed On Hiatus By Townsquare Media

The award-winning comics site ComicsAlliance announced through its Editor-In-Chief Andrew Wheeler that it has been placed on hiatus and all contributors let go. Apparently two days notices was all that was provided. Our heart goes out to all the writers for whom CA was an important client, and to all of the readers that had come to enjoy its mix of deep-dive article, industry activism and professional media site presentational formats. I was a daily reader as much as I could be for its entire existence.

imageI'm a little confused about the provenance of ComicsAlliance. Laura Hudson's 2012 goodbye essay suggests she created it in 2009 for AOL. Upon my publishing that, a pair of readers directed me to an earlier incarnation (2007) involving Chris Dooley and John Anderson, I believe also for AOL. My apologies for not vetting that published claim, and I'll continue to rewrite this graph to reflect my best information.

There are a lot of distinctive writers and personalities I think of when I think of the publication, including Hudson: Wheeler, Caleb Goellner, Chris Sims, Andy Khouri and David Brothers are the one the one that spring to mind; I'm certain there are many that did not spring to mind that should have. I imagine all of those names and more will continue to have strong roles within the industry as they seek them out, both creative and editorial. There are also many other talented writers that wrote briefly or intermittently for the site, too many for me to list. I thought the site managed to have a strong collective voice in addition its many strong individual ones, an alchemy that is difficult to achieve.

Hudson left in 2012 and was replaced by Joseph Hughes, another distinctive writer with staff experience at Vertigo Comics. For some I would imagine that might be a dividing line in the site's history, although its Eisner win after many nominations was in 2015.

In early 2013, Townsquare Media acquired certain digital assets of AOL's including ComicsAlliance, a deal that finally brought the site back to full strength in early June after a late-April shutdown. I have no idea how this changed traffic, although conventional wisdom was that CA did garner enviable numbers in its early days and that this was perhaps less of a talking point later on. I have even less of an idea how this may have changed editorial, although sites are generally accused of being overly Internet friendly and less content-driven as they get older. They certainly covered comics-related media as did most sites of its era. I also have little to offer in terms of the radio-focused company's decision to shut down the site right now: I always assumed the plan was to eventually replicate their music festival strategy with a medium and small-city comics festival model, but that was a huge assumption of mine. Their stock has been somewhat volatile in 2017 but projections for later this year have been strong. The site still fits within its overall commercial brand in terms of its role within its field, as far as I can tell, just not in its core area.

In the end, coverage of comics have lost a distinct, collective voice and fans of comics and CA's presentation style lose one site less to visit. My sympathies to all of the writers looking for a new gig. I hope they are all fruitful ones. If this the end, and it seems that way, congratulations to the entire CA team on their run and placing their stamp on a crucial era of comics coverage.
 
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Go, Look: Brian Bolland Joker Cover Image Gallery

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* big story today as ComicsAlliance announces an imminent shutdown. There is a stand-alone article here. This continues a slow yet deliberate trend of deep changes or even closures at big-name comics-centric news presences. That's an interesting thing to note although I'm not sure talking it to death yields additional insight. Clearly, the Internet values something for monetary purposes that comics-anchored sites are having a difficult time providing.

* Elliott Dunstan on Dumbing Of Age. Jon Erik Christianson on Irregular and On A Sunbeam.

* one of those weird list-driven sites has a list of up-and-coming comics-makers that draws heavily on webcomics.

* finally, Tegan O'Neil has launched a new comics column, Ice Cream For Bedwetters.
 
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If I Were In Anaheim, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Read: Zoned And Red Tape

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough takes a look at distinct works from Steve Lafler and Lance Ward.

* I don't like to run outright "go, look" posts driving people for art that's not contextualized for study and that seems like the kind of thing its owner would still like to publish, but this is a deservedly well-remembered short-story by Barry Windsor-Smith featuring a pair of Kirby classics.

* Mike Lynch went to the Ed Emberley exhibit in Worcester, and all we got was this decidedly not-lousy photo-festooned report. Lynch also wrote a little report about visiting a bar with Al Capp art on its walls. He is today's MVP for sure.

* Namor the Sub-Mariner being an arrogant dick is always hilarious. I think if Marvel opened their formula a little more in terms of how the protagonists operate, you could get pretty good solo comics out of Namor and out of Morbius The Living Vampire, whom I'm convinced would be the Marvel Universe's Justin Bieber in terms of popular attraction/disgust.

* finally, Jim Rugg draws Walter Sobchak.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Darren Merinuk!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Dave Lapp!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Steven T. Seagle!

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March 30, 2017


Go, Look: Four R. Kikuo Johnson Comics

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Go, Look: Unpublished Wally Wood From Plop!

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* last week for applications on both MICE and CXC. CXC is the show with which I'm involved.

* this weekend is loaded, here and abroad. I hope everyone has a fun time and a meaningful con weekend, no matter where you are. I wasn't able to do my WonderCon followed by MoCCA weekend. My apologies to that tiny sub-fraction of humanity with whom I'd made plans. The comiXology party looks fun, and Bill Kartalopoulos' programming for MoCCA is of a high quality, as is always the case where Bill is concerned.

* the big event in New York this weekend will be the memorial held for Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson, which should be a grand procession of grieving comics greats covering that entire world as it remains. Not sure how much of that information is for public consumption.

* finally, open CCI badges go on sale April 8.
 
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Go, Look: Half-Hitch

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Go, Look: Pertinent Points About Pinheads

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Jakob Free provides a primer on the work of Warren Ellis.

* Dave Richards talks to Saladin Ahmed. Michael Cavna profiles Ruben Bolling. Ben Beaumont-Thomas talks to Vincent Connare. Tim Smith talks to Charlie Hankin.

* a Radix lawsuit postscript.

* here's a survey of Brexit Day cartoons.

* finally: AdHouse offers two good comics-type books to US retailers. I hope they take him up on it.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Gary Chaloner!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Forg!

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Happy 60th Birthday, David Hagen!

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March 29, 2017


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

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Go, Look: Manny Stallman In The Living Mummy

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* I wRandom Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Barry Thompson talks to P. Craig Russell. Caitlin Rosberg talks to Kristen Gudsnuk. Sam Pratwell profiles Jeremy Nguyen.

* the Michael Tisserand presentation last night at the Wexner Center was extremely good. If you get a chance to go see him present on Krazy, I recommend you do. This was a fairly focused presentation with a lot of comics and some clever close reading involved.

* the best part of the evening was when someone said "three weeks from now it's your turn" and I replied "it's two weeks" and their face became deeply concerned.

* I was reminded during the evening of this article, which I remember liking very much.

* finally, Pete Donovan profiles the great Murray Olderman. Olderman just turned 95.
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, Val Mayerik!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Kevin Huizenga!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Ken Eppstein!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Dan Wright!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Marc Silvestri!

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March 28, 2017


Go, Listen: Hazel Newlevant On Process Party

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

* Shannon Wheeler has enjoyed a successful official notes of his Donald Trump tweets joke. Sound concept in these days for sure. Michael Cavna's profile is best.

* Black Crown shuts down submissions. There's a pleasant myth that blind submissions is how people get published in comics, and there are a few for whom this is true, in sometimes spectacular fashion. I would say the vast majority of publishers know exactly what they want and from whom they want it, and make their plans accordingly.

* finally: looks like Tony Isabella has settled some if not all of his major problems with DC Comics. Good for Isabella for whom this seemed an open wound for years and years. For the purpose of this column, the fact that isabella may work with them on stuff is what's news.
 
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Since I'm In Columbus, I'll Be Going To This

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

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If I Were Near Harper College, 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: Gus Mager's Main Street

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Tegan O'Neil is the author of today's Bernie Wrightson memorial column. That's a new column generally for O'Neil.

image* Rob Clough on LOVF.

* everything stays on-line forever.

* The Beat digs through Rian Sygh's twitter thread on his comics-related finances. I'm grateful for Sygh to post that information, and I think as it's rare for cartoonists to do that. All information is appreciated. I don't know that I'm 100 percent convinced you need a ton of information to avoid making bad choices -- I think you can tell a job is a good one or not from the amount you're paid, not necessarily the amount you're paid in relation to someone else. It can help you not be exploited, though. If writers and artists continue to do lots of jobs that obviously don't pay the bills, we need to identify why and serve whatever mindset that indicates so as to keep them from self-harm over a large period of time.

* Patricia Benoit profiles John Russell Cross.

* finally, I really like this Tarzan drawing by Jeff Smith. I haven't seen it since around the time they were commissioned.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Tom Scioli!

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March 27, 2017


Go, Look: Pete Morisi Splash Pages

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* count Sophie Goldstein among the young comics professionals who wish to supplement some of their comics-related income with money made through Patreon.

* the big talked-about thing in my neck of the woods is the current 2D Kickstarter, which looks like it will make it but surely isn't one of those runaway campaigns already over the top. Some attention is still necessary. That new Mirror, Mirror looks good.

* other names popping for me from the crowd-funding realm given a moderate survey are Sandra Bartholomew, Ally Shwed, David Willis and P. Craig Russell.

* finally, the Zanadu Comics gofundme was still active as of eight days ago. The Seattle institution put that up a while back for help with some capital necessary to make the whole operation run more smoothly.
 
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Go, Look: Imagery From The Studio

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Go, Look: Eerie Sci-Fi Cover Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on various minis from Andrew Alexander.

* last week in listicles brought us a list of 13 places in Portland for comics. I get exhausted with that much clicking, but I do know that beautiful city has a bunch of great places to interact with comics.

* Caroline Winter profiles Scott Adams.

* I'm always supportive of people talking about comics money with real numbers in play.

* finally, the one piece of original art I purchased this weekend at the Columbus small-press show SPACE was from Alec Valerius, if you need another young cartoonist to follow on Twitter.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Ivan Brandon!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Mike Friedrich!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Hy Eisman!

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Happy 95th Birthday, Murray Olderman!

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March 26, 2017


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

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

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

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Bill Kartalopoulos!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mark Verheiden!

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Happy 64th Birthday, David Boswell!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Greg McElhatton!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Mitch O'Connell!

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Happy 69th Birthday, José Luis Garcia Lopez!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Brian Bolland!

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FFF Results Post #473 -- Night, Night, Night

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Scenes From The Comics That Took Place At Night." This is how they responded.

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Alec MacGarry falls asleep by the turnpike.
2. Prince Valiant dons the goose skin mask.
3. The police find Speedy Ortiz's car.
4. Ben Grimm stands alone in the pouring rain.
5. Mr. O'Malley crash-lands through Barnaby's opened window.

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Hey, look: I can't shut off my nose.
2. Shermlock spies a much more suspicious character to follow.
3. Jewish vampire.
4. A Thunderbird driver parked his car in the clothes closet.
5. The hell with Wilma!

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Calvin and the monsters under his bed.
2. The birth of Hellboy.
3. Rose ventures out to battle Balsaad.
4. Emma and William kiss inside the Crystal Palace.
5. Val Castillo's peeping tom activities.

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. The Dark Knight returns "I'm born again..."
2. Marv asks a question, and he asks very, very hard
3. Cerebus meets the Roach for the first (but far from last) time
4. Arlo And Janis play hey-diddle-diddle
5. Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin again and again and again...

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Maggie In The Diner
2. Zot and Jenny Kiss
3. Kitty Pryde Pursued By Other-Dimensional Demon
4. Charlie Brown Lies Awake At Night
5. Gordon and Essen Kissing

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. The Night Gwen Stacy Died
2. Weisshaupt lights the cannon ("Boom")
3. "The Night After" by Ottavani & Barr, Two-Fisted Science. "In 1938, Hans Bethe discovered how stars shine. We still don't know why they're pretty."
4. Gull kills Marie Kelly.
5. Glenn Ganges tries to sleep.

*****
*****
 
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March 25, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Commercial For K Thor Jensen's Cloud Stories


Dame Darcy And Skippy Spiral Off To Market


Jean-Pierre Gibrat Making Art
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Trailer For Skip Williamson Documentary
 
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Festivals Extra: Carol Tyler's Jay Lynch Tribute 2017 PIX Poster To Raise Funds For Cartoonists

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Go, Look: Adventure

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

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

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

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

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If I Were In Chicago, 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, Anthony Woodward!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Rob Clough!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Joe Ollmann!

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I'd show Joe's art, but this clearly the greatest photo taken of any human being
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Kate Lacour!

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March 24, 2017


Go, Look: Tyrell Cannon

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Go, Look: Jade F. Lee

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OTBP: Crickets #6

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Jon Erik Christianson talks to Kat Verhoeven.

* Gary Tyrrell has a nice piece up about current issues related to fundraising. I love the way he covers those super-projects, the ones that go into the six figures. I would just freak out and stare at the thing if I were first man in.

* finally, it's hard for to get around webtoons as descriptive, but I've overcome worse.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Captain Venture #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Joe Gordon on Highlander: The American Dream #1. Scott Cederlund on The Abominable Mister Seabrook.

* Albert Ching talks to Mike Marts.

* not comics: I enjoyed Abraham Reisman's interview with Daniel Clowes, likely one of (one of) the more comics-conscious ones the cartoonist will do in the ramp-up to the release of his movie Wilson. It's fun to watch him process those Ditko questions. That movie isn't doing well with critics on the "Critic Average-'em-Upamizer" or whatever it's called, but Art School Confidential did more poorly than this one and I liked that movie just fine. That stuff about the outfit in the Riesman interview is funnier than anything I've seen in a movie this year.

* what in the hell?

* finally: paying tribute to Island, now sunk back into the sea. It's the Dilraj Mann that will be remembered.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Gabrielle Bell!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Goran Parlov!

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March 23, 2017


Go, Look: Cody Pickrodt's March Monsters On Instagram

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Go, Read: Jeffrey Koterba Benefits By Engaging Critics

I thought this was an interesting public letter in regards to cartooning more generally in that it shows a positive outcome for editorial cartoonist Jeffrey Koterba in a case of reaching out to one of his critics on a specific cartoon.

Editorial cartooning is a difficult job recently made that much more problematic by the very curious political times in which we now live. It's worth noting that the cartoon in question is relatively benign (to my eyes, anyway), and has a sensible, non-partisan explanation behind its creation (true or not, this matters to the path of rhetoric). It's easy to get caught in endless whinging in any sort of political discussion, and there are elements of our political disagreements now with which there can be little softening, with any common ground imaginary, but I also think that our arguments are so depraved these days that a nod across the aisle might have an interesting effect, particularly for cartoonists within their home and regional markets. I think that can be done without looking like you're backing away from whatever statement you're making -- more "I'm listening to you but stand by my work" than "Hey, everyone has a different point of view" -- but certainly others disagree.
 
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Go, Look: Never Published Skip Williamson Page

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By Request Extra: Vic Carrabotta's Dream

Vic Carrabotta would like to make another comic and take it to Comic-Con. I'm sure that many of you that are old mainstream comics aficionados might see this as a special case worth considering. The ask doesn't seem out of bounds, and I've always liked what I saw of his 1950s work, which I believe was almost entirely with Marvel. I think he left comics or was gently shown the door during that really rough late 1950s period that Martin Goodman's company had, where they really cut things down, but I'd have to be backed up on that.
 
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OTBP: Ganges #6

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* we are headed towards one of the two big choke-point periods of the North American convention schedule: next weekend's Mocca Festival + WonderCon + Fumetto is about as good as the calendar year gets. I was hoping to do two of them (the ones not in Luzern) but I may not do any. I hope it works out.

* another week, another smaller convention announced.

* I still don't all the way get the fold-in inclusion of cosplay into comics conventions: there's historical weight to it, of course, and flat out some of the costumes are awesome. They're crowd-pleasers, too. I think some of it may be a conception of these shows as a place to ply your creativity as opposed to engage with the fruits of a medium. I was always confused by the Star Trek conventions I attended as a kid, too. Disney World even developed an aspect of that. Now that I'm involved with a convention that doesn't include those elements I still get people asking to come to perform or whatever. God bless anyone that finds joy in making art.

* this article makes explicit what some others didn't: Comic-Con International putting a museum into Balboa Park indicates a commitment to San Diego above and beyond its leasing situation with the convention center. It could be a fun museum, too. I like permanent spaces for comics.

* finally: Excelsior!
 
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If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Miranda Harmon Ponders The X-Men

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Insel Paradies II. Robert Reed on Black Panther #12.

* I like these old-fashioned Amazing Heroes-style articles that pop up on the Internet, particularly when they are comics-focused rather than TV or film. It does seem awfully weird that the Legion concept remains un-utilized, but I get how nostalgic runs trap publishers who are working on very thin sales margins. They probably need to blow that up and have it come back in a form that will visibly upset hardcore fans. That sounds mean, doesn't it? I don't mean it to be.

* I like the comics just fine. It'd be nice if more people read the comics.

* come for the review of Image #0, stay for the bizarre promotional stunt details.

* finally, Michael C. Lorah talks to Peter Bagge.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, KAL!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Shelton Drum!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Joe Daly!

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March 22, 2017


Go, Look: The Best We Could Do

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Go, Look: Big Wheel

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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.

*****

DEC161625 FIRE THE ZORA NEALE HURSTON STORY HC $21.95
This is Peter Bagge's second biography of a formidable female political/cultural figure. I liked the Margaret Sanger book quite a bit. Bagge's a very humane writer in that he can portray unflattering elements of human nature without in any way condemning the circumstances that brought that person there. That's an intriguing element to bring to historical study of any kind, but particularly the individual profile.

imageOCT160511 MICHAEL WM KALUTA STARSTRUCK ARTIST ED HC $150.00
Well, this has to be damn beautiful, and it's probably going to sell out a couple of times. I'm dying to see one.

JAN178350 SUPER SONS #1 2ND PTG $2.99
JAN170759 SHE WOLF #7 (MR) $3.99
JAN171026 BLACK PANTHER #12 $3.99
JAN170951 IRON FIST #1 $3.99
This is an interesting if not exactly staggering numbers-wise week in comic-book format comics. I can't imagine I'll be picking up Super Sons as I'm just not in the market for most superhero books after 45 years of reading them. I list those here because I liked both those characters, and that's not exactly an easy thing for a publishing house like that to accomplish with all of the relaunches. Rich Tommaso continues on with his attractive-looking She Wolf. Black Panther is one of Marvel's pay-attention titles still, although maybe doesn't generate the same excitement in its reality that its promise did. Few comics do these days. I'd look at the Iron Fist comic; I don't think that's a well-developed character and treating him as one is probably the great sin of the TV show and a contributor to how that has been mostly poorly received. Maybe this one figures it out in a way that will communicate beyonds its likely modest readership.

DEC160751 ARCLIGHT TP (MR) $14.99
I'm looking forward to catching up with this series collection from Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland. That seemed to come out excruciatingly slowly at first and then in a rush at the end -- not my favorite serial reading strategy. It looks pretty, and Graham is one of the dozen cartoonist of this historical moment.

JAN172176 MASTER KEATON GN VOL 10 URASAWA $19.99
Best series by a major manga artist with a new volume out this month, at least as far as I could tell.

DEC161678 INTERVIEW HC $24.99
This Manuele Fior book is both relationship drama and science fiction: the aliens-contacting-earth elements are played for their role is startling and changing the view of those who experience it, or that must come to some sort of reckoning with their reality. Fior's world is reich enough to have stood on its own without the extra element, which I think is part of the point. There's a lot of expressive, pretty cartooning here.

DEC161197 REICH #5 (OF 12) (MR) $4.00
The re-offering and re-soliciting for this admirable series continues.

DEC160395 FLINTSTONES TP VOL 01 $16.99
And then here we are with a Flintstones book, on a week when I think a lot of fans will feel freed up to buy it. The price point is interesting to me, as I bet they could have done some solid work expanding the series critical praise into a wider readership with a "Less Then $10" strategy. But they don't pay me to make decisions like that at a big comics company and there's nothing duller than a backseat publisher. As for the work? Yes, it's true: that's a pretty amusing comic book, and something about its approach to satire works to generate humor despite everything in your brain telling you it shouldn't. The comic book issues have worked as standalone stories if you want to sample.

*****

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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By Request Extra: 10 Days Left On 2D Cloud's Latest Season

Here. That issue of Mirror, Mirror looks really good. I keep forgetting to put this one in the regular column even though it's the one I hear most discussed right now, by a wide margin. My apologies. Over 50 percent with double-digit days remaining usually means a great chance of meeting one's initial goal.
 
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Go, Listen: Process Party With Eleanor Davis

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MAD's Long-Rumored Move To Burbank Confirmed

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Prominent illustrator, caricaturist and MAD veteran Tom Richmond has confirmed publicly what's been rumored for a while -- I'm guessing the rumor was likely public, too, although I'm not sure who was first with the rumor or whatever -- that MAD Magazine will be joining DC Comics out in Burbank and the New York office will close. A small office serving the longtime satirical magazine and iconic comedic touchstone remained behind when the main comics operation went West. I think the source for this and the most recent rumors is the freelance staff being told of the move, which affects them because of either a communicated change or at the very least a potential change in editorial leadership.

MAD had about two decades less history than DC in New York just by virtue of when each came into existence. As Richmond points out, MAD always had a significant element of New York humor based on the model created by its primary creative voices in its first two decades moving forward. I hope a west coast version works out: there's a comedy culture out there for sure, and editing MAD Magazine always struck me as the best gig in comics that no one talks about. There's a chance good work could result. What I would worry is that "MAD" becomes an empty suit, like National Lampoon, with the first step towards that result being that the work itself in the next phase is ordinary and/or lacks focus. Then again, at some point you really are rooting for a word and a memory. We'll know a lot more soon.
 
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If I Were In Providence, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Various Green Lantern Cover Images From Prominent 1970s/1980s Comic Book Artists

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fRandom Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Hillary Brown talks to Emil Ferris. Michael C. Lorah talks to Peter Bagge. Heidi MacDonald talks to Jeff Lemire.

* only barely comics, but a fine sideways observation made here by Anne Ishii.

* there are some good Superman stories on this list. I like a lot of what is disliked by modern comics readers, random Superman and Lois Lane comics from the 1950s and all the old-school Bizarro stuff. I'm also a big fan of the very early Superman comics, particularly the art by Joe Shuster. I'm not sure how you get a dose of that in one place, though.

* Steven Ringgenberg gets the call from TCJ to write an obituary of the great Bernie Wrightson.

* finally: one more link to this, in case there have been no links to it from me as of yet.
 
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Happy 88th Birthday, Mort Drucker!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Sophie Goldstein!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Jay Stephens!

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March 21, 2017


OTBP: Cloud Stories

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Rob Salkowitz On Politically-Tinged Comic Books As A Difficulty For Comics Shop Retailers

imageIndustry analyst Rob Salkowitz expresses sympathy for retailers asked to rack comics that may anger or irritate readers on one side of the political spectrum or the other. This seems more conjectural than a thing that needs to be discussed, although because people talk about politics all the time now, it's not hard to imagine a similarly grumpy and stunted argument over a comic book in a comic shop or a dozen. That hardly seems like cause for alarm, though. It's not new. The notion that comics and most other popular art represent one side or the other of a bifurcated political spectrum is a pretty ingrained part of the political landscape already, in the most high-profile manner as part of the cultural persecution complex felt by many straight, white Christian Americans.

I suspect things will limp along. Art that tries to negotiate a final outcome to be most broadly pleasing is usually pretty gross. Best to leave the comics-makers alone and allow the readers to react accordingly. I really doubt that anyone out there will split their store or shelve differently. However, if the leader of Marvel's Secret Empire is shown to be a resurgent Nixon from DC's newly active Watchmen universe, all bets are off.
 
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Fred Guardineer's Zatara Comics Are Some Of The Best Comics

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Now Turkey Is Just Making Stuff Up To Jail Political Artists: Painting Gets Artist/Editor Two Years

Maren Williams has a succinct write-up here on the case facing journalist Zehra Doğan, convicted of depicting a military operation instead of what actually happened: reproducing for creative effect a background cleared for release in an official photo. The usual implication that the journalist supported or was a member of the group that attempted a coup in the country was of course part of the hearing.

One thing that's encouraging about the article is that Doğan pretty much sounds like a bad-ass, running an all-women news agency and starting a prison newspaper while inside. It's bad enough that anyone is imprisoned on basically made-up charges, but it doesn't look like it will shatter this particular person. I can't imagine how broken a country has to be to jail people that industrious for bullshit reasons.
 
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Go, Look: 1959 Sunday Comics

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* looks like For Better Or For Worse will be going to IDW for an archival series. That seems a solidly-conceived way of presenting that material again, and IDW has enjoyed some success with Berke Breathed's work; a work that ran concurrently with Johnston's for several years. There's a lot about Johnston's work that fascinates me.

* DC announces a "walk on the dark side" type mini-series with some of its biggest guns. It's easy to make fun of this -- I did on Twitter -- but one supposes there's utility in DC restoring a good guy vs. bad guy paradigm for what they do after years of good vs. good guy stuff at both companies. If that's what they're doing.

* finally, a little "Assembled" cross-over news: TJ Kirsch tells me that his Pride Of The Decent Man has finished serialization on-line, and that a print publication announcement is imminent. Congratulations to Mr. Kirsch.
 
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If I Were In Linz, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Harrison Cady Illustrations

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Joe Gordon on The Visitor: How And Why He Stayed #1.

* still fascinated by the depth of feeling and sharp contrasts of Murray Ball vs. Bill Leak. It's an interesting dry run in Leak's case to see how we'll forgive or perhaps not forgive those around who develop terrible opinions and articulate them.

* not comics: Robert Boyd goes to SXSW.

* Scott Cederlund writes admiringly of Jaime Hernandez's greatest early work, The Death Of Speedy, particularly its last three astounding pages. I love the book's one-page epilogue and always took it as a reinforcement of the notion just how arbitrary and even delicate some human connections can be.

* finally, everyone's a critic.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Mark Waid!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Marek Bennett!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Jeff Lemire!

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March 20, 2017


Go, Look: Florida

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Reminder: John Locher Memorial Award Will Accept Submissions Through April 15; $1000 At Stake

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I think it's all through the link if not in the above image itself. I like awards with cash prizes. This is for cartoonists 18-25, and as editorial cartoonists are becoming more rare I figure any encouragement to someone working this area at that age is a great thing.
 
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Go, Look: Idol Eyes

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Slate Releases Cartoonist Studio Prize Lists

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Late last week Slate published the ten finalists in each category of the equally and admirably print- and web-focused Cartoonist Studio Prize.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of the Year:

* Burt's Way Home, John Martz (Koyama Press)
* Canopy, Karine Bernadou (Retrofit/Big Planet Comics)
* Hilda And The Stone Forest, Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
* Libby's Dad, Eleanor Davis (Retrofit/Big Planet Comics)
* March: Book Three, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
* Rolling Blackouts, Sarah Glidden (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Rosalie Lightning, Tom Hart (St. Martin's Press)
* The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, Sonny Liew (Pantheon)
* The Longest Day Of The Future, Lucas Varela (Fantagraphics)
* We All Wish For Deadly Force, Leela Corman (Retrofit/Big Planet Comics)

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year: 2016 Shortlist

* Greek Diary, Glynnis Fawkes
* "I Trained to Fight the Enemy," Jess Ruliffson
* Normel Person, Lauren Weinstein
* On a Sunbeam, Tillie Walden
* "On Beauty," Christina Tran
* "Rejected Anthology Submission," Meghan Lands
* Riverbound, Päivi Niinikangas
* "The Secrets in My Mother's Nightstand," Sophia Wiedeman
* The Unofficial Cuckoo's Nest, Luke Healy
* Wonderlust, Diana Nock

Last year's winners were Carol Tyler and Boulet. The guest judge this year, joining representatives from Slate (Jacob Brogan) and Center For Cartoon Studies (Jarad Green), was Karen Green.
 
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Go, Listen: Joe Decie On Process Party

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the cartoonist Ben Sears has a sale going. Not sure if it's connected to a dire need -- it could just be inventory reduction, or something similar -- but very few cartoonists are in a position where they can turn down any extra business at all. I ordered something, although not a sale item.

* these people wrote in blind to see if I write anything about crowd-funder. I do! I do right here. I appreciate the courage of such a outreach as much as I do the not-caring if it signals you never read this site. That one looks like in an interesting position where most reasonable projections of the next 26 days have them reaching their goal, but you never know. It does look like the kind of genre material that has a big home on sites like Kickstarter.

* people love Lady Death.

* Dave Wachter's book featuring portraits of progressive figures seems well-suited to the times and has surged past its initial ask with several days to go. You might want to get involved with that project, still, though.

* the third volume of Alex Heberling's Hues work looks like it may run right up to the end.

* last week for the latest crowd-funded project from the formidable P. Craig Russell. This looks poised to make its initial ask, but not without some attention paid.

* finally, our friends at Sticky Graphic Novels are having a T-Shirt fundraiser.
 
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If I Were In Linz, I'd Go To This

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

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Always Happy To Re-Run Alex Toth's Conan Pin-Ups

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Burrow.

* not comics: between basketball and the Iron Fist TV show, I had background noise and break-watching for an entire weekend of work. Iron Fist is a weird show. I thought Marvel passed on a huge opportunity to include gigantic swathes of fans more firmly in its orbit when they declined to cast some of their recent leads across racial lines. I get veering away from this strategy for Doctor Strange because Benedict Cumberbatch exists, but it's harder to justify doing that for the young man playing Danny Rand in the latest Netflix series. It wasn't nearly as horrible as promised. I was more entertained than I was watching the second half of Daredevil 2, some of the later episodes of Jessica Jones that felt like filler, and the bulk of Luke Cage. The scripts meandered, there were a lot of shifting alliances that felt poorly earned, and the fights were only intermittently impressive. There's a scene where the Danny Rand guy uses nunchucks less effectively than my shirtless 1980s college drug pusher Fat Pete, but I liked the compound fight, the drunken master battle and a short fight with a fat thug. They did a reasonably good job of giving a story logic to the various fight outcomes. I liked the lean agency they gave the Davos character, a sharp contrast with the constantly shifting goals of the protagonist. You can be conflicted and have a narrative through-line. The big message of "Distrust All Families" was kind of interesting, too. But mostly the sins were the sins of the other Marvel shows about 20 percent louder, including a New York that feels like 300 people live there and writing that just seems two to four solid passes from matching the producers' ambition for the material. Why not a first scene of Danny Rand giving his shoes away?

* finally, I didn't know that Paul Karasik's story from We Told You So: Comics As Art was on-line at his own space. This was mentioned to me as a favorite by a lot of Karasik's fellow artists. I, of course, love all the comics in there equally.
 
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Happy 92nd Birthday, Bill Lignante!

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March 19, 2017


Bernie Wrightson, RIP

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Go, Look: Burma Sky

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

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

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

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Happy 55th Birthday, Michael Jantze!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Willie Schubert!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Sergio Ponchione!

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FFF Results Post #472 -- Futures

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Two Comics You Have Yet To Read And Look Forward To Reading, Two Comics You Look Forward To Re-Reading Someday, And One Comic You Thought You Might Read Or Re-Read At One Time But Now Probably Won't Bother." This is how they responded.

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Flapper Filosofy [pictured]
2. Jerry on the Job
3. Skippy
4. Toonerville Folks
5. Dumb Dora

*****

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James Moore

1. My Favorite Thing is Monsters [pictured]
2. Prince Valiant Vol. 3
3. The Compete Phonogram
4. East of West
5. Underground Era stuff -- It's a gap in my reading, but I'm not excited to read most of it.

*****

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Dave Knott

* Journal -- Fabrice Neaud
* The Cage -- Martin Vaughn-James
* Captain Marvel: The Monster Society of Evil -- Otto Binder and C.C. Beck
* Nausicaä Of The Valley Of Wind -- Hayao Miyazaki [pictured]
* Thriller -- Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Gumps [pictured]
2. Leslie Turner's Captain Easy.
3. Critters
4. Weirdo
5. Tower Comics -- I've sampled, but I have no interest right now in a deep dive.

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Mike Mignola's Hellboy/BPRD books
2. Carl Bark's Donald Duck.
3. Achewood
4. Ernie Pook's Comeek
5. Watchmen [pictured]

*****

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Anthony Stock

1. Alack Sinner [pictured]
2. Queen Esmeraldas
3. Lone Wolf and Cub
4. Prophet (I wanna read it all at once now that the series is finished)
5. Cerebus (It just doesn't seem to be worth revisiting. There's too much good looking stuff I haven't read.)

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant [pictured]
2. Sandman Mystery Theater
3. The Sandman
4. Joe Kubert's Tarzan
5. Tintin

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Jack Kirby's The Demon
2. Frank Miller's Give Me Liberty
3. Jack Kirby's Kamandi [pictured]
4. Kazuo Koike's and Goseki Kojima's Lone Wolf & Cub
5. Moebius' The Airtight Garage

*****

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Andy Mansell

1. Lance by Warren Tufts [pictured]
2. Dick Tracy in the Fifties
3. Spirit Archives
4. Prince Valiant
5. Cerebus -- just can't bring myself to re-read any of it.

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Cages [pictured]
2. Prince Valiant
3. Black Hole
4. the 2nd half of Cerebus
5. Paying For It

*****

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Scott Dunbier

1) From Hell.
It's the last major work from Alan that I have not read (or, rather, not finished). I started it a couple times when it was being serialized in Taboo but the gaps were so great that I had to reread each chapter whenever a new one came out... they were dense! Setting a goal to read before end of year. Is that too blabby, Tom? [Editor: Just blabby enough]
2) John Stanley's Little Lulu Comics
3) Love and Rockets
4) Goodwin and Simonson's Manhunter
My favorite when I was a kid, every five or six years I gotta pick it up and read it again... hmmm... it's been a while.
5) Jack Katz' First Kingdom [pictured]
I meant to read this for years but don't think I'll get around to it.

*****
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Oliver Ristau

1. Animosity: The Rise #1
2. Deathstroke #11 [pictured]
3. Punisher MAX
4. Shelter
5. Copra
I have to catch up on the latest issues, Michel's drawing them faster than I can read.

*****

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Hans Rickheit

1. Eric Haven's Compulsive Comics
2. Josh Cotter's Nod Away Volume II
3. Tom Manning’s Runoff
4. Sarah Oleksyk's Ivy
5. Can't think of any book I wouldn't bother re-reading, so I'll plug one more worthwhile comic: Mahendra Singh's excellent adaptation of Hunting of the Snark [pictured]

*****

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Michael May

1. Pogo
2. Terry and the Pirates
3. Early Peanuts
4. Krazy Kat
5. The Yellow Kid [pictured]

*****

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David Jones

1. Dan Brereton's Nocturnals: The Sinister Path
2. Starstruck: Old Proldiers Never Die
3. We3 [pictured]
4. Druid by Ellis and Manco
5. Preacher

*****
*****
 
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March 18, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


I'm Drawn This Way


Some Sort Of X-Men Trailer I Haven't Watched


KAL Looks At The World In March


Jay Lynch On The Role Of The Cartoonist


Liza Donnelly Draws May Keller


Tuba Skinny Pays Tribute To Joe B. Stewart
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Salt Lake City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Carol Tyler is at this
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Bill Reinhold!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Shea Anton Pensa!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Michael J. Vassallo!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Farel Dalrymple!

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March 17, 2017


Go, Look: Gabrielle Bell Summer Diary Strip From 2014

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* new site design at What Things Do. I wish every pro had access to a site like that one.

* Jon-Erik Christianson talks to Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melancon.

* here's a profile of Matthew Inman's support of certain kinds of animal/environment restoration plans.

* Heidi MacDonald writes about Henchgirl's transition into print.

* finally, Tara Marie asks after Menage A 3.
 
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If I Were In Salt Lake City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Wonder Woman #81

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on the minis of Ben Passmore.

* missed Rosalind Morehead moving from IDW to DC. That's just a drive up the highway now.

* Michael Miner talks to Scott Stantis about the cartoons that he as a conservative cartoonist does that are critical of President Trump. For various sad reasons, some people think of this as some sort of egregious breach of decorum.

* Playboy, one of the great markets for cartooning in the 20th Century, is profiled here.

* go, look: Tom Atwood photographs Alison Bechdel (and lots of other folks).

* Gene Yang continues to pack in the audiences.

* finally, a striking cover by Jack Jackson.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Richard Pachter!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Patrick McDonnell!

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March 16, 2017


Go, Look: Sideshow

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* BCC has added a Spring event with a short guest list of regionally-based comics favorites.

* here's a report from the Big Apple Con; I think that's the one that lost Stan Lee to health problems. Barbara Eden looks great.

* I am looking forward to seeing WonderCon. The last time I attended, it was still in San Francisco.

* the news-google search for comic-con and other terms is interesting right now. Just saying. It's a lot of articles about local conventions, a lot of placement articles for celebrities endorsing bigger shows, and the occasional pop-culture item that an editor feels deserves its own call-out. I don't think conventions go away, but that feels like a progression to me, like conventions have become a refined celebrity experience for those that want to see them in the flesh. That's not unlike the way theater can function for a subset of acting aficionados.

* The Beat praises the Comic-Con International guest list. It's great that Trondheim will be there. He's an A+ guest, and was great during his two previous visits.

* finally, check out these two PIX posters, described here. With John Kelly and the ToonSeum more significantly involved, that should be a show to watch the next few years. Pittsburgh has everything a great comics community has except perhaps an ingrained comics-reading culture.

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

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

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

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

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Missed It: Post About Los Bros Flyers From Early '80s

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Michael.

* it's hard not to contrast the reactions to Murray Ball's passing to reaction to Bill Leak's death.

* bundled extra: Lat will be publishing a sequel to Mat Som this year. Lat has some displayed skill with sequels.

* bundled extra II: if I'm reading this article correctly, Marvel had a monster-related mini-event series going this year that didn't really appeal to a lot of their fans -- that's a pretty big switch to throw for that company to see little return to the line. Also there's a $10 Spider-Man comic. If I buy a $10 Spider-Man comic it better have John Romita Sr. art on the inside and a cover price of 15 cents.

* finally, Joel Pett endorses Sunshine Week.
 
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Happy 76th Birthday, Carlos Giménez!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Steve Lafler!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Todd McFarlane!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Dan Stafford!

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March 15, 2017


Skip Williamson's Status Unclear As Social Media Accounts Report The Cartoonist's Passing

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I can't quite track where the rumors are coming from and how legitimate they are. I think it's from a family or close-friend account on Facebook. The narrative being told is that things to a severe turn for the worse this morning. I'll change this post when I see something that cites an official source or is an official source.

This comes right on the heels of Jay Lynch's passing; each man was the other underground cartoonist I would first affiliate with the respective individuals. Williamson was a visually powerful and idiosyncratic cartoonist and when he passes will leave a significant amount of work as testimony to his legacy.

Update: At 6:54 PM ET, I received the undated update in my inbox as a graphics file:

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The original message looks like 6:40 PM ET. More as it comes in.
 
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Go, Look: Bakshiland

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Bundled Extra: Star Hawks Collection Previewed

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Here. It's an honestly nice thing that we're going to get a collection of the Goulart/Kane newspaper strip. It's an even nicer thing that so much care is being put into it. Kane's work could be choppy at times, but it seems like he was trying to craft first-rate comics here.
 
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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.

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YEAH I JUST SORT OF FORGOT TO DO THIS ONE. SORRY. I'LL DO IT AT SOME POINT THIS WEEK WHEN I'M SUFFERING THROUGH A BOUT OF INSOMNIA. YOU DESERVE BETTER.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OTBP: What Is A Glacier?

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Starseeds.

* here's apparently all of the Marvel Star Wars comics, ranked by James Whitbrook. For whatever reason, those comics remind me of DC's treatment of pulp properties in the early 1970s, in that some top talent worked on those books and on these.

* not comics: Robert Boyd, self-publisher.

* bundled extra: blogger-prime Mike Sterling shares my respect for the classic Popeye series go well into fifty issues or so, although they're nearing a crossroads of sorts in terms of material from which they can pull.

* Mark Evanier addresses the issue of Jack Kirby using specific celebrities as models.

* worthy.

* finally, one of Bully's rarer efforts it the ten of a kind series.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Ger Apeldoorn!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Alex Segura!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Scott Kurtz!

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March 14, 2017


Go, Look: Boucher's House

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Go, Look: JRJR/Layton Iron Man Splash Pages

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Go, Look: Milk

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* this isn't a criticism of the creative talent involved, which seems super-solid, and I'm at a moon's remove from reading or knowing what goes into successful X-Men comics, but: these relaunched X-Men titles look enough like the last few rounds of X-Men relaunches I would fail a quiz on which one is which. The first two announced titles at least had some separation of characters; this seems like another overlap strategy will be in place where the popular characters are smeared like cream cheese across multiple titles with multiple narratives. It's an interesting creative conundrum, getting life out of these late-period properties. Kitty Pryde is nearly as old a character as Superman was when Kitty Pryde showed up. You just can't toss that much IP and do a real reboot, like picking new Professor X and Magneto equivalents and giving them a blank slate from which to recruit/ply their philosophies. Another factor in play is that property collectively has multiple nostalgic high points. Still, I assume they'll continue to try and some pretty good superhero stories will come out of it every now and then. If someone ever solves how to find a third gear for characters on a reliable basis, they'll have a lifelong career in the funnybook world.

* someone made the joke that this article about single-issue publications going away is like a time-traveling escapee from the Warren Ellis Forum circa 1999, but it doesn't mean this isn't fun stuff on which to muse. It's hard for publishing companies to move away from profitable models, and that's still for the most part a profitable model. The ones for whom it isn't profitable have already moved away. It's hard to pin a direction on these things when all sorts of other publishing moves can be credited with the nature of the status quo. It isn't always structural. It's also probably wrong to assume that companies have the same strategies concerning profit.

* I have two standalone posts yet to do this month in this category: the next D+Q fully-announced season, and Image at ECCC. You can jump ahead and check it out, I won't be angry. If you read any other site, you likely already have.

* finally: if you want the best, most exciting place to be for late spring/early summer launches you either never knew about or learned of their existence and then forgot, it's the TCAF tumblr.
 
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Go, Look: Dan Spiegle Art On Hopalong Cassiday

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antiquated portrayals, in case you like skipping that sort of thing
 
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Go, Look: The Outer Limits #14

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on a selection of mini-comics. Robert Kirby on The Best We Could Do. Joe Gordon on James Bond: Black Box #1 and Grass Kings #1.

* Patrick Rosenkranz, the excellent chronicler of the underground comix generation, has turned in the expected fine obituary for the late, great Jay Lynch. Rosenkranz is the real deal, and so was Mr. Lynch.

* one of my great hopes is that now that the literary authenticity and economic viability in broad terms for comics is an issue that's been settled, we can turn our attention to the care and reward of artists. It's hard to create. Not uniquely hard, and it's not the only thing that's hard. But it's difficult enough and comes at enough of a cost we must alway be vigilant to see that the creators are properly rewarded. I don't know about you, but it doesn't feel that way in a lot of cases. I think it also behooves to find paths and ways for people to make comics art that may take some of that pressure off that isn't the reality or expectation of cross-media success. Every little bit will help.

* finally, Bob Levin profiles and engages with the Turkish Trilogy comics.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Simon Fraser!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Tom Batiuk!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Steve Bissette!

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Happy 51st Birthday, JP Stassen!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Brian Walker!

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March 13, 2017


CR Monday Conversation: Ronald Wimberly

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*****

Ronald Wimberly is an artist and comics-maker with as high a ceiling as they come. His prodigious skill set as displayed on the page is matched by a formidable ability to explain, dissect and present to others his strategies and reasons-why when making art. Just his influences, what Wimberly is looking at and processing at any single time, could fuel a week of lectures. I greatly enjoy looking at his comics pages, and knowing the amount of effort channeled into them is a thrill.

Last Fall saw the Image Comics re-release of his 2012 breakout hit The Prince Of Cats, a street-level view of Romeo and Juliet from the point of view of Tybalt. Prince Of Cats is fun as all hell to read, beautiful and intense, situations and characters extrapolated and put into play with a delicate hand.

imageLast month Wimberly welcomed into print through Image Black History In Its Own Words, which was well-received in its on-line iteration.

I look forward to everything yet to come. If you have a chance to read his works or experience the artist himself in support, seize the opportunity. The next big one should be the limited series Sunset Park announced in 2015.

Wimberly and I originally did this for the CR Holiday Interview series, to which it will be added in collection. We found space to talk at a classroom at the Billy Ireland back in late October at the tail end of his graphic novelist residency at Thurber House/Columbus Museum Of Art. Wimberly came back to Columbus In February related to his well-received art show at CMA, and I was embarrassed enough to scramble to get this together. Sorry, Ronald. Sorry, audiences.

I'm going to include a chunk of conversation that happened after we began recording and before we moved into what ended up being a pretty tightly focused talk about Prince Of Cats. Wimberly's interesting on most subjects and it's clear from my babbling that I'm intimidated by him. The interview starts as we try to find a place to sit down without crushing a piece of valuable original art. Directly in between us as I play with the recorder is an illustration by the cartoonist Greg Evans. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: I think we're good to go. I'll put the recorder by you and use "booming fat-guy voice" from over here.

RONALD WIMBERLY: [laughs] There's this thing about cartooning, man. Finding the symbol between symbol and representation. [pauses to look at art] I feel like that character is a representation of the author.

SPURGEON: I'm guessing that's Greg Evans, his three main characters and strip's dog. It's definitely the Luann characters. I'm old enough to remember when Luann showed up in the newspaper, and it was marketed to my Dad's paper as simply "For girls." There were apparently few strips that the syndicate thought girls would want to read. "Hey, maybe girls would like to read about a girl, and maybe she has boy trouble..." Comics can be weird when half your population is seen as a specialized sub-group.

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WIMBERLY: That's the thing, though, with character design or design in general. Working with narrative. You have She-Hulk or Spider-Girl. Part of the design element is the gender of it. [laughter] In advertising, too. The niche is that this is for women. So it's automatic othering. [laughs] It's silly.

SPURGEON: The conventional wisdom about She-Hulk, and I have no idea if this is true having never gone and researched it, is that there was a quirk in trademark/copyright law where it was seen as a good to do those character to protected the general concept's ownership.

WIMBERLY: Really? Like they could do a She-Hulk?

SPURGEON: I'm not sure how far it went, but yeah, that the character was somehow in danger unless you were the one to do those specific derivations. I did a book on Stan Lee once.

WIMBERLY: I've heard some things. [laughter]

SPURGEON: If you read what was being said about him in the late 1970s, very little of it was the kind of thing you hear people say now. That characterization of him as a lesser partner taking more credit than he deserves hadn't fully gained momentum. His reputation then was basically that he used to care about the comics he made but 15-20 years into the new Marvel era he and his company was hacking it out. Something like She-Hulk reinforced that. So you have guys saying "Why would you create the Fantastic Four and then take the time to do She-Hulk." And part of the reason is that he didn't fully create Fantastic Four, at least not by most reasonable measures. [laughter]

WIMBERLY: It was business, too.

SPURGEON: Definitely. Stan also focused on the ideas because that was a skill he thought he could take to Hollywood, being an idea man. So anything that was conceptually sound was appealing to him. The 1960s Marvels don't care as much if they're portable. They're kind of out-there and many are less than film-able as a result. It's not about the IP.

WIMBERLY: I think that's why they work.

SPURGEON: I agree.

WIMBERLY: Wasn't that their process even? He would get a general idea...

SPURGEON: He might have a general idea and then take it to one of the core artists... you could say Kirby and Ditko and Romita frequently did a lot of the writing work itself, deciding what happens to get from point A to point B. Kirby even suggested dialogue in the margins. They called it the Marvel Method.

WIMBERLY: That's what I heard.

SPURGEON: You can go back and look at pages of Fantastic Four and at times the dialogue didn't quite work because of a misapprehension or miscommunication.

WIMBERLY: [laughs] That's a question I have. The lettering is done on the page. I'm being silly, since I ink my own work. But would he give the pencils to someone to place the bubbles?

SPURGEON: Honestly, I don't know off the top of my head exactly how that broke down. You're right, that would make a difference. In a comic strip guys would frequently place their balloons first so they'd know how much space they had to draw. But if you're adding dialogue later, I don't know if you just leave dead space, or use substitute dialogue or what.

WIMBERLY: It's almost how they do anime, where someone puts the dialogue into it.

SPURGEON: Comic strip people will sometimes rewrite to existing art in order to catch up on deadlines, too.

WIMBERLY: [laughs] See, okay, that's part of it, though. I think part of what you have to do with anything, part of what makes the work -- I was talking about this at the museum last night -- is constraints. You have panels. I don't know the history of it, but at some point in America people started to go crazy: like a Steranko doing all these weird page layouts. There was a complete throwing out of constraints. I think for some people, wow, they can do it, they work with the panels doing whatever they're doing. But the vast majority? I don't know if they ever get to the point where they can still tell a story without any constraints. [laughs]

SPURGEON: Even the modern stuff that works in that now very commercial realm. You read comics that are being done right now like the new Black Panther and they seem to be working out of a very, very specific thematic and tonal approach to that material. It's not formal constraints, but it's this style that developed five to ten years earlier that has this force to it because of its commercial success. A formula. And it works. Good writers can find their place within the most highly developed constructions.

WIMBERLY: But the writer isn't thinking... however you're thinking about the structure or the gag or whatever, if you're not thinking about how the page works visually... it's funny; I wasn't even thinking in terms of story structure. I was thinking in terms of panels.

SPURGEON: Gotcha.

WIMBERLY: If you were to say all of Yonkoma comics will have four panels, it's a structural thing. When you have that, working with that, even if you choose to play with it or break from it, you're always working within that. Going back to Kirby -- he had certain grids for telling his stories.

SPURGEON: Even within that he had tricks. He had a way of doing a row within a larger grid that emphasized a three-panel progression: very strong, maybe silent moments within the larger storytelling point. He had a four-panel page that he used a lot. He would space out the single pages a certain way.

Charles Schulz on Peanuts' dailies went from doing mostly four-panel progressions to three. This is an amazing thing to adapt to as your default structure following decades of four-panel strips. But he marshaled on.

WIMBERLY: There was less space on the page.

SPURGEON: I'd have to double-check but my guess is that it was thought three panels might look better on the page, there was no longer a lot of strips or perhaps none being offered vertically, and there was that always-shrinking space. When he made this shift in the 1980s, it was kind of exciting to see him adjust to this, although I wonder if he wasn't better suited to four panels. A lot of classic strip offerings have this kind of thing with their Sunday, where there's a panel or two that can be dropped, which most cartoonists usually make a small joke or just the title-panel.

WIMBERLY: That's how I cheated on that Nike comic. It's Yonkoma but I used the title box to contextualize the four panels. So I'm cheating by having sort of an extra panel. [laughs]

imageSPURGEON: So this new Prince Of Cats. I don't know where my copy of the 2012 edition is, but I think that was standard Vertigo-trade sized and the Image version is physically bigger?

WIMBERLY: I should have brought one. [laughs] Yeah, it's the same size they did Sentences in, that they did that one... what is that gentleman's name? It's a futuristic mod story. Was it [Dave] Gibbons?

SPURGEON: Probably. I remember scooters. Those Brits and their scooters.

WIMBERLY: [laughs] They're cool, man. I don't know if I could pull it off. So yeah, it's in that format. It's almost A3. Close to this size. To tape recorder "I'm pulling out a copy of Buddy Buys A Dump."

SPURGEON: [laughs] That's a pretty standard trade size. So this is the way you wanted it. You wanted it to breathe more, I take it. This is the most basic question in the world, but why this size? Why is this the ideal size?

WIMBERLY: For better or worse when I was breaking down the book, the pages -- a lot of them are dense. Most pages have at least six panels on them. It's kind of like bandes dessinees intensity on most of the pages. So it just makes sense for it to be around bandes dessinees size. I think that's particularly true of the gag ones; they only work that size.

SPURGEON: It's brutal to read BD at a slightly smaller size. It's crossing the line into intolerable. [laughter] It's like three percent intolerable. Is there anything else you wanted production to reflect this time around? Someone with your artistic inclination, and the skills that you have, I imagine you can control a lot of what you do with an individual piece of art. But working with mass production is really different.

WIMBERLY: That was interesting. It's frustrating, but it's great. No, I think the more I'm involved in that portion of the work, the more illuminating it is from just writing. Even before I start to draw I can start to think about the materials. If I know I'm working in color it might be, "Hm. Well, maybe I don't want to do this. Maybe this will make it difficult for the colors to come out in the end the way I want them to."

Also it's like... [laughs] maybe if I work with an editor again it's going to make me more of a dick, because now I know exactly the work that's required. [laughter] There's no excuse. I know what's required for the job. It might make me difficult. It's probably hard enough to work with me as it is. [laughter]

SPURGEON: I'm told this was kind of a pain in the butt to get out there. You switched editors.

WIMBERLY: Oh, the original. Yeah, yeah.

SPURGEON: Yeah, the original. It also seems like maybe that wasn't the strongest period historically for your publisher, Vertigo.

WIMBERLY: They were going through some things.

SPURGEON: What sticks out now? You have to remember that time period with an element of closure seeing as there has been so much work since. Seeing as it was a major attempt for you to find a voice, how do you look at it now?

WIMBERLY: I think I was very lucky. I don't know, man. Sometimes I think I can have a bit of a caustic personality. I was lucky to have bumped into Karen [Berger]. I was lucky to know Casey Seijas. Have guys that really looked after me and took an interest in my doing this work. That's kind of how I look back on it. It's the sort of thing where if I had some problems... I forget who said it, the woman who just passed away. She did a lot of magical realism, not Toni Morrison but the most obvious poet. When you tell me who it is you're going to say, "See, I knew he had mental problems."

SPURGEON: Maya Angelou.

WIMBERLY: Maya Angelou. She said you don't remember all the details, you just remember how you felt. How someone made you feel.

Looking back, I kind of have that where I was learning a lot -- and still am -- about how to relate to people in the editorial process. I'm a guy that goes into a room and does it by himself. You know? That's how I remember looking back. "Oh. Okay. This is a bunch of people each with their own volitions and things that they need to do." The fact that can even work? And not even just that but a sub-division of something even larger. DC Comics is downstairs. All of these people are up here: I think Will had a detective line at that point. I think Shelly [Bond] was trying to find something for young women. Karen's trying to hold that together. She has friends, probably, that want to do some work but maybe they don't even have ideas right now.

Thinking about that, seeing all of that coming together, it was like "Wow, man." On the outside, when you hear fans talk about stuff, it's like "Okay, we have our ethics, and we have the things we care about. Maybe we're vexed a book comes out poorly or late. Being on the other side -- and this was my first time on the other side -- what I remember is seeing things come together. Maybe seeing something in its death throes is very interesting.

SPURGEON: I don't have a ton of questions about the research you must have put in, the reading. And it's been a while since I closely read Romeo & Juliet.

WIMBERLY: Me, too. Now.

SPURGEON: [laughs]

WIMBERLY: It's such a shit show, the human brain. We think the way we remember things, that's how it truly happened. Photoshop has been great because we're now even more aware how fake everything is. [laughter] It's just perception. Now that it doesn't require someone that's great at gouging, or working on something with a knife, now that a teenager can put Hillary Clinton's face on Snoop Dogg's body, we know everything's fake.

Karen Green asked me something. She had read the book. When I'm thinking of names, I always give myself a game or a problem to solve to come up with answers. So the tape at the beginning, at first they were listening to the Stooges or something. Then I was like, "No that contextually doesn't make any sense." What would they be listening to? How is this tape a microcosm of the entire world? What if Milton, a contemporary of Shakespeare: he had written this poem about Shakespeare when he died. So Rammellzee and Milton, I mashed them together, and that's what in the tape in the tape deck. But I totally forget about that! I had come up with a name pulled from one of the prior authors of a Romeo & Juliet. Karen, being the genius she is, is like, "Oh, that's such a great thing you put in there. I can't believe you did that." And I was like, "Oh, yeah. Thanks." [laughter] I totally forgot I had done that!

SPURGEON: Here's my question. When I go over what I remember about Romeo & Juliet, the questions people tend to have, the issues they have, they'll talk about things like, god, I don't know... Mercutio and Romeo start out as co-leads and then Mercutio sort of drops out as Romeo surges forward. Or how the dance, or a couple of other things, part of why they're there is to expand the play into a slightly different form. I don't remember a damn thing about Tybalt, ever.

WIMBERLY: [laughs] Oh, wow.

SPURGEON: He's not only a blank slate, people have seemed reluctant to write on that slate. Was that appealing to you? The license the lack of speculation and attention might have given you?

WIMBERLY: He's just a ball-breaker. He wants to kill shit. [laughter] The funny thing, too, I always thought, "Your cousin died and now you're good?" The way she treats it. There has to be some conflict there. For Prince Of Cats, I don't solve that question because it's over when he dies. So we don't get to see how Juliet reacts in my version.

SPURGEON: You get into that relationship a little bit. You also give him a relationship with Rosaline, a character that doesn't exist.

WIMBERLY: They say her name, right?

imageSPURGEON: She's there but sort of as this object of attention that sets Romeo up for the real thing. That's just... really clever to use those hints and notions and whispers and build Tybalt quickly into a real force on the page. How early did you pull in Rosaline?

WIMBERLY: I wanted to do Tybalt. Who else? Petruchio is mentioned, but we don't ever see him. Rosaline likewise. That was kind of like wow, okay. What are the B-sides of Romeo & Juliet. The first piece of writing I did, and what I think sold the book to Karen, was the scene with the girls in the bathroom. Two girls I made up, and Juliet, in the bathroom. Karen's smart. I hope I did it justice for her. Women are a part of my life, so they should be more a part of the story than what Tybalt was, an agent to move things along.

For Shakespeare I think so much of it was the large ideas and the language. The formal constraints. In Romeo & Juliet, maybe one of the reasons why they give it to you to read when you're in high school is that it comes across as a simple moral tale. But what he doing playing with the language and formally with it [laughs] it's just as complex as any of them. I think in school I don't know if they teach you that. They don't teach you the way someone is speaking there's a history behind it. That Romeo is speaking in sonnet form is almost an inside joke. The way he's speaking, he's sentimental. The form that Mercutio takes, the way he's using his language, it's different; it says something about him as a character as well. I wanted to play with that, too. Just to give Shakespeare an out, I don't think it was as simple as people say. Subjectively it was straight-forward but formalistically it's much more complex.

SPURGEON: There's a whole way of looking at Shakespeare where you find which plays were popular at what times and kind of dissect why this was so. In the 19th Century there was a death obsession, there was much greater use of public cemeteries as a place you went to in the course of a month, and that drove which plays were performed.

WIMBERLY: There's a book about America and Shakespeare that this scholar -- I forget his name, he works at Columbia [James Shapiro]. I asked him to do the foreword for Prince of Cats and he said he wasn't interested in anything that wasn't "the theater." [laughter] It's not Shakespeare if it's not performed.

SPURGEON: Did you think in terms of performance? It seems as if you do, that there's something beyond a straight-ahead interpretation of text. It feels like it's being seen. There are big chunks of Romeo & Juliet that are set pieces, episodes, that get you from one place to another so that you don't have to do the entire play. There's a ballet, right? The dance?

WIMBERLY: That's when they meet, though. [laughs] Are you thinking about the play or the ballet?

SPURGEON: I'm a little muddled. They meet at... the ballet?

WIMBERLY: [laughs] There's the play and then there's the ballet. That's Prokofiev. I don't know about the play -- what would I drop in the story? Maybe... there's so much great language, though. You could probably drop some of the language in Act 1 Scene 1, you could drop that, but I don't know what you would cut?

SPURGEON: But did you think about it ever as there being a stage? Did you think of your characters as acting?

WIMBERLY: I have to play all of the characters. I think every cartoonist has to do that even if they're not thinking about it. I don't think at the time -- sometimes you do. I find myself making the face that I'm drawing. I find myself moving a little bit. It's a type of thing that you remember you left the window open and you wonder if anyone saw you doing that while you were working. [laughter] You know what I mean? Or there's a light on across the street and someone's in their kitchen or their living room and "Did they see me making strange faces at my desk."

That part usually comes top me in the writing -- when I say the writing I mean the dialogue but also what people do. Since I'm working all the way through it, is it honest for this character... like Tybalt throws up. He jumps out of a window after a big fight. He jumps out and he throws up. I'm thinking, "What do you do?" If you're a teenager and you act real tough and maybe you're skilled, but you're surprised at what you've just done. It's fucking gross. That violence is disgusting. Right? In the cartoon world, if I were a cartoon, I wouldn't want to see what I've written and drawn. That's the performance. He jumps out of the window and it's like, "This guy is fucking cool. He's done all this cool stuff." Then he's like "Oh my god, I made myself sick." [laughs] "This is disgusting."

That's where I feel there's acting. Once I decide what they're going to do. Maybe getting out of the way and letting them decide, letting them react to what's happening to them. The performance has to come. There could be a scenario where I would write all of that and I'm unaware how they're going to perform it. Maybe I don't think about how they're going to do it, but there's something on their face... I don't know.

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SPURGEON: You have a talent for physical choreography. Based on how the physical relationship work on the page, if I didn't know anything else about you, I would have guessed you a much older man, a much more practiced cartoonist. They fighting works, and it's well-spaced and it's character-driven, and it has all the elements you want out of scene dependent on physicality. Do you write those scenes differently? What works about those scenes for you?

WIMBERLY: It's funny you mentioned it. Character is a big part of it. I don't have a lot of the tricks. I look at [Mike] Mignola -- speaking of someone who does great action. He's a lot more free with how he thinks about space. I have more of a deliberate -- maybe I'll grow out of it, where I don't lose all of my character, but I'm very deliberate about where things are. What's this room like? How are the people going to react to things in the room, and being around each other. In the club scene, he steps on this guy's show, he gets angry, Tybalt stabs that guy in the eye. And now he's a guy who's been stabbed in the eye. [laughter] If it were sound he would have been screaming the entire time. He finally starts to get it together but his eye's fucked up. He's furious and in shock, maybe not even in pain yet. He grabs this other guy's sword and he pulls it out... there's a bunch of people there! If you pull it a sword! He cuts the other guy's arm. That guy drops his sword. There's fucking mayhem! I've built the scene kind of around the idea of that.

Sometimes I think about the idea of chaos. I watch a lot of Zatoichi, too, right? [laughter] My favorite would be Zatoichi. He's stumbling. He's falling on the ground. They manage to get this perfect balance of ballet and chaos. Chaotic ballet. [laughs] That's how I like to do action. I like expressive action when I see it, too. The boxer in the old manga -- I like that stuff, too. For myself, I like weird, naturalistic but any time it goes to ballet.

SPURGEON: You use a lot of cartoon sound effects in a way I think people... might not think is cool.

WIMBERLY: I think it's really cool!

SPURGEON: [laughs] Tell me why you like these old-fashioned sound effects.

WIMBERLY: I come at it from an Eastern and a Western perspective. Cartoonists are all learning. In the West... I didn't go to school for comics. I went for advertising and illustration. I had to teach myself. I taught myself by looking. There are things you pick up. At first I may not be using those that much. Then you get something in a script and you ask why. You look when you're reading a comic you really like and you're like, "Wow."

In manga, the way the letter forms -- and maybe this has something to do with the language coming from pictures. They'll do their little onomatopoeias. And it'll be like, "That sound looks like what it is." You don't have to translate that. He tripped. I can tell from looking at the language and how it fits into the space. There's no sound in comics. Synesthesia, right? There's a synesthetic way of looking at sound. How big is the sound? Does it effect the space the character is in? Maybe it takes out the entire background. That's what sound does for us. In our space. I like that aspect of it. You see it in a lot of western comics, early western comics, when people really started to get funky with it. I forget the guy -- the Marsupilami.

SPURGEON: André Franquin.

WIMBERLY: I think so. [laughs] That inspires me to no end. I'm not one of these guys who's like, "It's a storyboard." I like film too much to say that about comics. I like comics too much to say that about film. Its something different. That's something we can do. So do it.

With Sunset Park we have the opportunity to do something that you see in a lot of early film, where they were still taking things from the book or the stage without actually changing too much. The narration with the device in the detective film: "I went to the house..."

SPURGEON: The voice-over.

WIMBERLY: Yeah, yeah. [laughter] The voice-over. In Prince of Cats, I don't use that at all. But I also think it's a tool. Moving forward... that's what happens with the sounds, the onomatopoeia and the sound effects. I didn't have my way of using it. I had to learn on the page. That idea of synesthesia. I had to create a formal reason for why I'm using them and how. In Sunset Park that's me working through some of that, too.



SPURGEON: At the Metro Club community event we did to open CXC what now seems like a hundred years ago, you said something interesting about process. You refused to make a differentiation between the media you take in and the media you put out. You were very firm that a large part of your artistic process was consumption of art, consumption of media. With this project -- and perhaps others -- can you tell me what you were looking at? [Wimberly laughs] Was there ever something you had to get away from, to escape?

WIMBERLY: You mean between projects?

SPURGEON: Yeah. I mean, have you even just looked pack at something and gone, "Wow, I was reading a lot of XXX at the time."

WIMBERLY: So the pimple you get from eating a lot of fast-food.

SPURGEON: I just wondered if what you're bringing in, does it always have a positive result on your work?

WIMBERLY: No, man. It's like demons. Sometimes you get something that's just too powerful.

SPURGEON: [laughs]

WIMBERLY: You know that recording, Black Dots, that's like early Bad Brains. HR is sounding just like Johnny Lydon. [laugh] He's rolling his r's. It's so cute. At first I was embarrassed for him. Now I kind of like it. His stew was young. You still tasted the wine. Let it reduce a bit more.

There are things I don't let in the house. [laughs] I think there's a portion of your life, when you have a diet, where everything's coming in. It takes a back brace: you see the people with scoliosis that have to have something on to protect their posture. When I first got to art school -- for better or for worse; what doesn't kill us makes us stranger -- I had a lot of anime shorthand. Now I'm delighted when I see it. In college, doing a lot of figure drawing maybe forced me to lose some of that influence. But also coming back to it, that made me more aware of what it was. It hopefully makes me more aware of what they were doing graphically instead of taking it for granted. I had to purge things. The older I get, the more difficult it is.

I was talking to Paul Pope about it. I had given myself a formal constraint with Sunset Park. I wanted to do the book in six different styles. He was like, "Nah, B. Calm down. Use that when it's appropriate." [Spurgeon laughs] I envy guys like him where you're like, "Yeah. This is what you do." You never question at the start, "Which way am I going to do this one?" Brandon [Graham], too. When Brandon draws a hand, you're like, "That's Brandon."

SPURGEON: You don't feel like you're there yet?

WIMBERLY: I don't feel like I'm there yet. I feel like I have choices. When we did the live drawing [at CXC 2016] -- not only what am I going to draw, but how was I going to draw it?

SPURGEON: You may have confirmed this in an earlier interview... one way to approach Romeo and Juliet is to sidestep the focus on the two lovers as they transcend or fail to transcend -- they do die in the end -- the situation in which they find themselves, and instead focus on the play as a damning portrait of a time when people died for these reasons.

WIMBERLY: That's the original.

SPURGEON: You seem to be hammering away at an outlook on life where these truncated relationships make sense. It seems like there's a lot of sympathy from you in depicting these short and angry lives. [laughter] It does!

WIMBERLY: Yeah.

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SPURGEON: You seem aware of the sadness that at the very least provides a strong undercurrent to the foregrounded action. Can you talk about your work in depicting the overall milieu, the world you've created here? The kind of world where paying attention to your fight ranking seems like a good idea?

WIMBERLY: That's the whole... when you were talking about performance before. Starting out, one thing that made me think about it was growing up. That was the times. There was a lot of death around. One of the formative experiences of my childhood that got into the book was when a stepfather -- a cousin of mine, me and my stepfather -- was murdered. He was murdered by an associate in the back seat. He was shot in the back of his head. He had a pair of new... I think they were New Balances. Never used. My stepfather brought them and gave them to me.

First of all, it was weird because, "Oh, he's in the paper." Talk about hyper-visibility. Now he's in the paper. And now here's his shoes. That is the world even after he's been taken out of it. If it were Hollywood, maybe he would have been just a side character. The main character's living his life, doing his thing, hustling hard. And this guy gets shot in the head. "Oh wow, man, I'm so gangster." In the real world, that guy's Mom is crying. His cousin who he never really got to meet is getting his shoes. He's in the newspaper even though nobody cared about him enough to put him in the newspaper before. Or anyone he know. Or his neighborhood. Or anything about his life. No one cared about him until he got shot in the back of the head.

That's the sort of thing that informed the storytelling. Also the fact that Tybalt, the way he was treated in the narrative before, at least how I understood it, it was inhuman. I wanted to think about why he did what he did. Why he was doing what he was doing.

All these other characters... I think that's more like... maybe if you're trying to find something in the room. And it's an idea. A narrative idea. It's one thing. That character is your flashlight. I want to see what the room looks like. I want other lights to be on. Maybe there's something else in the room I don't even know I want. [laughs] I need more light. Even if I have to split up the intensity of the light, I'd rather have a general idea of what the world is like.

They're running numbers in the neighborhood. So okay. this paper, when I go to the bodega... when I'd go to the bodega on Myrtle Avenue back in the day, you'd see the little number things, these little papers. I was always too young to know about those when I was coming up. By the time I was old enough I was out of that environment. So I still don't even know how that works. But that artifact was weird to me. Is it gambling? What is this? It looks like someone ran it off at like the school Xerox. So I'm like, "Okay, that's part of this world."

And hip-hop. Breakdancing and stuff... this weird way that people are stabbing and killing each other and now they're dancing. And then it's dancing and people are stabbing and killing each other. Now it's graffiti, but it's also graffiti and killing each other. You know? Thinking about that. Thinking about that world. I have to make the world in order to know what the characters do in the world. That's the approach.

SPURGEON: You end with Tybalt... that's a brutal ending if you end with Tybalt. Romeo and Juliet can be interpreted as rich kids falling prey to what's soaked into the bones of Verona. It just happens that these two kids... and suddenly now it's news. The earlier deaths are just as tragic as one where we see the romance. It's a fatalistic idea; it's even reinforced by the meta in that we are super-sure Tybalt dies in any incarnation of this story. It's grim. [laughter] It's a serious way of looking at that world. The basic course of the narrative is reinforced. But man.

WIMBERLY: If someone feels sad about Tybalt, I think that's good, because he didn't get that opportunity originally. He was a plot point. [laughs]

If anything, maybe I can contribute to one of the intents of the original. Depending how it's performed or staged it can have that element. But usually not. In the prologues, it's set out. It says the same thing. It tells you what's going to happen. For this beef of the ages to rest, there has to have been a sacrifice. What my point is that the sacrifice continues to happen, and the beef doesn't stop. I'm sure in the case of Romeo and Juliet, those two houses... a generation passes... we all know Italy is a bunch of warring -- it's still a bunch of warring states! [laughter] Right? At the end of the day, it's senseless. But the life that's led isn't necessarily senseless. The light on it can be humane. It can add value to it. That's the difference between an existentialist and a nihilist right? In showing it, looking at it, living it, there's some value to it.

*****

* Prince Of Cats, Ronald Wimberly, Image Comics, hardcover, 152 pages, 1632159260 (ISBN10), 9781632159267 (ISBN13), November 2016, $24.99.
* Black History In Its Own Words, Ronald Wimberly, Image Comics, hardcover, 88 pages, 9781534301535, February 2017, $16.99.

*****

* just a panel i liked
* one of the personalities to appear in the new book
* cover to Prince Of Cats
* the bathroom scene
* from one of the very tightly-conceived action scenes
* video from the pre-CXC Metro Club appearance
* the sadness of fighting all the time
* cover to Wimberly's latest, a series of portraits with quotes (bottom)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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OTBP/By Request: Frank Young John Stanley Bibliography

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there are also three prose novels available from the longtime writer-about-comics
 
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Go, Read: The Pleasure Of The Serial Comic Book

imageThere's a lot in Osvaldo Oyola's academically-tinged article for just about any fan familiar with serial comic-book buying to enjoy, even if some of the more academic pivots and certainty-flavored underlining might leave someone confused. I like that the article seems to recognize that serial comic buying frequently takes place in chunks and gulps rather than individual bites.

The fun stuff is in the details, like the nod to reading serial books over and over in a way you rarely read individual chapters or segments of a graphic novel. My own reading habits are very specific with stuff like that in that I tend to buy serial versions of certain kinds of comics but I frequently only do so when they slip to $1 apiece, which can be quite rapidly according to the way some stores stock their shelves. Another interesting shift is the way that some serial comics are collected sorted together, and therefore an individual series may read totally differently than as collected later and not just for format.
 
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Go, Look: Boulet Vs. Writer's Block

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the great Eleanor Davis is auctioning off a piece to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center.

* as this site noted last Wednesday, some of Linda Medley's problems of recent vintage have intensified in a way I think both support and maybe a close friend reach-out or two might be in order.

* not the biggest consumer of dark fantasy, but I like some of the monster designs offered in this Kickstarter. Looks like it could fade or close strong, too, so there's some drama in that way as well.

* we're nearing the last several hours of the very successful Femme Magnifique crowd-funder, if you want to get on board.

* congratulations to Brian Canini on having his journal comic meet its initial goal.

* Alex Heberling is back with a third volume of The Hues.

* finally, this project -- it's Serbian -- looks quite together. If I were super-rich I'd do all of the high-end, weird rewards tiers on projects like this, in this case the office visit.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: A Few Episodes Of Jimmy

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on a few different mini-comics.

* someone please loan me a half million so I can bid for Gerald Scarfe's portrait of Winston Churchill and still have enough money left over my family doesn't hate me. That should be some auction overall.

* not comics: received a couple of nice notes about the passing of Joe B. Stewart, brother to Bhob.

* the great cartoonist Lat pays tribute to the late teacher who was a focus of his Kampung Boy.

* Doaa el-Adl has a go at ten Egyptian laws that are discriminatory against women. It's hard to imagine many of the editorial cartoonists in North America being asked for this kind of analysis, but maybe it happens, I don't know. Some of them would be pretty good at it.

* kids explore a darker side of Dr. Seuss.

* Kenny Mah profiles Sam Hepburn. Rosalind Duane profiles Graham Harrop. Mason Johnson profiles Alex Nall.

* finally: hey, it's a Sam Glanzman t-shirt.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Mike Sterling!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Andrew Weiss!

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Happy 96th Birthday, Al Jaffee!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Marc Sumerak!

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Happy 64th Birthday, RA Jones!

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March 12, 2017


Go, Look: Jackie Roche

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

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Happy 89th Birthday, Sy Barry!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Nathan Schreiber!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Graham Nolan!

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March 11, 2017


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

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If I Were Near Ontario In Oregon, I'd Go To This

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Happy 40th Birthday, J. Caleb Mozzocco!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Lea Hernandez!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Simon Pierre Mbumbo!

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March 10, 2017


Go, Look: Felat Delibalta On Musa Kart

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Go, Vote: Last Day For Eisner Hall Of Fame Voting

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Start here. That will get you re-oriented and there's a link to the vote itself. The judges did a nice job with HG Peter, Dori Seda, Antonio Prohias and Milt Gross making it in. As an eligible Eisner vote you will get to choose among:

* Peter Bagge
* Howard Cruse
* Steve Englehart
* Justin Green
* Roberta Gregory
* Bill Griffith
* Gilbert Hernandez
* Jaime Hernandez
* Francoise Mouly
* Jackie Ormes
* George Pérez
* P. Craig Russell
* Posy Simmonds
* Walter Simonson
* Jim Starlin
* Rumiko Takahashi
* Garry Trudeau

There's a lists of short bios for all of the above here.

I know there are people reading this that don't have any connection awards program, nor are in any way enthusiastic about them as a general thing. I think if we have institutions and we've afforded them a certain level of legitimacy as their own thing, we should participate in them. I know people will disagree with that sentiment, but I at least like an active pushback rather than one of apathy.

That's a good list, too. I'll have to make some choices.
 
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Go, Look: Ali Is Still Champ

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Go, Look: Original Cover Artwork By Joe Kubert

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Molly Dean wins the first Creators For Creators grant. Congratulations to her and congratulations to that awards program for existing. There were over 600 applicants and the winning Dean proposal is called I Am Young.

* if this is the future of coverage media, I am so screwed. The scary thing is it makes total sense. It's not unlike the rise of fan magazines, only the metrics are from a jargon-soaked movie.

* Teresa Justino looks at the way LINE Webtoon has celebrated Women's History Month.

* finally, I am all for tiny grizzlies and apparently so is Stela.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Classic Fred Guardineer Interior Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. 29. Todd Klein on The Flash #9. Alex Hoffman on Yazar & Arkadas and Escape Route. Paul O'Brien on Uncanny X-Men #16-18.

* get well soon, Stan Lee. There was a small surge in Stan Lee Is Dead rumors mid-week, and I'm guessing this undefined health issue was the cause.

* not comics: Abraham Riesman muses on the nature of comics adaptations through the prism of the imminent Iron Fist release. That show has been pounded in reviews of its first six episodes. As little as I think about such things at all, I think it would have been smart of Marvel to cast its Dr. Strange and Iron Fist characters as people of color just because I think it would have been a better overall look for the audience they wish to continue reaching a dozen years from now. The resonances shift, too. That said, this Iron Fist show just looks like a terrible TV show with poorly executed fight scenes and boring actors, and I suspect it will live or die on what's on the screen. Also, I remember liking the Fraction/Brubaker/Aja version of Iron Fist just fine. Dude punched a train. While I'm draining my lifetime's allotment of time spent babbling about Iron Fist, the main thing I've always thought lacking about the character is the "billionaire" part of the "kung-fu billionaire" conception. I don't recall anything clever about that element of the character's story, and this looks not to have solved that, either.

* finally, this is a nice story about the late Jay Lynch, Paul Krassner and Quimby's.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Troy Hickman!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Jason McNamara!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Randy Chang!

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March 9, 2017


Go, Look: Brandon Graham Sketchwork

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Sean Kleefeld expresses some confusion that in this day of multiple reprints in multiple formats for relative obscurities, a prime-time Jack Kirby effort like The Demon has barely moved into archival treatment. If anyone has insight,

* Black Cloud previewed.

* finally, Todd Klein discusses the imminent Artist's Edition featuring work from Starstruck. It's nice to see that one given nice treatment and in some individual stories' cases, closure.
 
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Go, Look: Didier Savard Art

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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.

*****

JAN171790 CALIFORNIA DREAMIN CASS ELLIOT BEFORE MAMAS & PAPAS HC (C: 1 $24.99
There's not a ton at the comics shop for me this week, but that just means I can spend time with the stuff that is. This looks likes an intriguing biography just via the match of skilled cartoonist with quality subject matter (Mama Cass, both well and little known), but a lot of that kind of work is in the nuances of execution. It's certainly become a powerhouse category.

imageJAN171390 I THOUGHT YOU HATED ME GN (MR) $9.00
JAN170099 HELLBOY AND BPRD 1954 GHOST MOON #1 $3.99
JAN170932 MAN-THING #1 (OF 5) $3.99
NOV160352 ASTRO CITY #42 $3.99
DEC160430 COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS #4 (OF 6) $3.99
JAN170773 WICKED & DIVINE #27 CVR A MCKELVIE & WILSON (MR) $3.99
The first one is a bigger book, a Retrofit publication featuring MariNaomi. As there wasn't a lot in which I was intee=ew0after that I decided to keep it in the periodicals category. I enjoy these 1950s Hellboy mini-series just fine when I encounter them. The Man-Thing is the RL Stine-written version, which makes me think it will be lighter than usual. That's a character that hasn't enjoyed a lot of breadth-of-approach. Hats off to Astro City on this extended run. The History of Comics material is stuff I've enjoyed in the past, now packaged in a way to take it to a broader audience. The most comic-book feeling comic out this week, the one that says 2017 comic maybe of all the comics in all the weeks, is the latest Wicked & Divine: that one's picked up its narrative pacing in considerable fashion.

NOV160099 MANARA LIBRARY TP VOL 01 INDIAN SUMMER (MR) (C: 1-1-2) $29.99
My memory is that Kim Thompson took on the Manara omnibus translation project at Dark houre in part to work Diana Schutz, in part to work on Manara, and in part to save for his retirement

JAN171863 ICHI F WORKERS GRAPHIC MEMOIR OF FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR PLANT (C: $24.99
This may be the most interesting book out this week: a detailed memoir from a worker on the ground about what it was like to be a part of that massive clean-up project. Massive radiation sidelined the artist and that time was spent on this volume.

DEC161806 NIGHTLIGHTS HC GN (C: 0-1-0) $18.95
This looks great, and is one of the works that parks itself on the borders between kids work and adult work, picture book and graphic novel. I'm guessing from the promotional material that the conscious act of making art, its responsibility and issues, is part of what gets discussed. Don't quote me on that, though. A NoBrow publication.

*****

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: Franco Matticchio

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* if like me you were made sad by Autoptic moving to every-third-year frequency, perhaps you can build a vacation around this 'zine fest.

* I like the marriage of comics show and publisher announcement.

* here's a piece on another show that fell well short of being able to pay its media guests. I don't know that I'd do any show that didn't pay in advance right now. That said, people are still launching comics shows. I think it's the low threshold for participating with something like that, the thing that makes it attractive as a business venture.

* I've been going to SDCC since 1995 and last year I got so confused as to how to register I basically went to the show's organizers and surrendered. I bet the uncertainty of its entry points has a a huge effect on how the show is perceived.

* kids today get to do everything cool.

* not comics: this could be really cool if they let Lee do it in total Lee-speech. Also if there's a 75-person super-villain vs. superhero fight before hand that involves Reed Richards punching a dude off his flying horse.

* finally: Stanley Tucci in Denver.
 
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If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on Gorgeous and Flashed. Todd Klein on Green Lanterns #8. Alex Hoffman on Everyone Is Hungry.

* Bully has pulled out some influential-superhero articles for us to watch wriggle under the bright lights of the sun.

* Brian Hibbs' walk-through the Bookscan yearly summary is one of the more reliable, entertaining comics columns of the year. The category is doing just fine, thank you, and he singles out a few players for significant extra laudatory huzzahs. He finds a new and effective way to describe Raina Telgemeier's success, even. Recommended.

* at first I thought this was a Facebook Live video from Ben Marra's life, but it turns out to be a promotional video for that weird line of Fantagraphics superheroes.

* not comics: I like the idea of a post-Logan X-Men movie where the writers room receives a box full of comic books and a box full of Johnny Cash cassette tapes and told not to come out until they have something.

* finally, I always enjoy reading John Kane: 1, 2, 3, 4.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Mike Kazaleh!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Ivan Grubanov!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Pier Nicola Gallo!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Brian Biggs!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Rick Burchett!

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March 8, 2017


Go, Look: Make Way For Ducklings

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By Request Extra: Consider Helping Linda Medley

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A pair of CR readers have written in independently to drive attention to Linda Medley's patreon, which was established at a time of financial difficulty for the artist, known for her Castle Waiting series. Those difficulties have continued, to the point where a combination of renewed donation (however you may do it) and even personal reach-out where appropriate might be in order. The artist says in the post in question she has been homeless since December, although with a temporary space for March and March-only. This has led to work being, in her words, "so erratic."

There will be more comics-makers in this situation in the years and months ahead.
 
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If I Were In Pasadena, I'd Go To This

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

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Nicholas Eskey on Decelerate Blue.

* here's one of those time-wasting list articles, but this time about Mike Mignola's Hellboy character. Between you and me, I think nearly all of the bullet points were already reasonably well-known.

* shere's a profile of a working cartoonist with a lot of the struggles of a working cartoonist.

* finally Bob Mankoff talks to the New York Times about leaving his position as cartoon editor at the New Yorker and what's up next for the 72-year-old cartoonist himself.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Brent Willis!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Eric Powell!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Paul Sloboda!

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March 7, 2017


Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* John Seven on a selection of different comics.

* I have a hard time giving two fucks about corporate comic book storylines, and more generally characters that outlive their creators. That said, all this Nazi stuff in the Marvel comics that have Captain America as a focus fascinates me because a lot of it seems to be a ramping up of the expectations of the audience in terms of how their favorites should behave. Even ten years ago fans this kind of working against the grain of a character's core identity was cause for distress of the kind that led people to buy more comics. Now it's much more intense, and the attention given these characters in the real world comes into play. I think this the kind of devotion companies like that want from fans of their characters; the companies just aren't ready for the consequences.

* James Kaplan picks 25 great Image comics covering 25 years. It's not my list, but there are some fine pulpy adventure tales on here.

* not comics: I enjoy Michael Cavna's writing generally and appreciated reading what he thought about the new Wolverine movie, but genre bias is such an ancient topic that I honestly didn't know people still thought that way. I liked Logan just fine, too.

* finally: we love you, too, Bully.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Cully Hamner!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Robin McConnell!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Peter Gross!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Ben Templesmith!

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March 6, 2017


Go, Look: Jay Lynch Sold Through Scott Eder

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Festivals Extra: Autoptic Pushes Next Show From 2017 To 2018, Cites Opportunities For Board Members

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There's a fairly extensive letter from the esteemed Minneapolis comics festival Autoptic here explaining why they've canceled their 2017 show and plan to have one in 2018. "Life gets in the way" seems to be a big part of it, good news for active-artist board members. I sympathize as a festival organizer just how crowded and tough it is right now to provide a peak experience to attendees and pros. I'm glad to hear the organizers are doing well.

I think Autoptic is uniquely positioned not to lose audience momentum by pushing back a year, the way other shows might. I will try to attend the 2018 version and will spend the money saved for this year's event on something at my own show.
 
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Go, Look: Five From Ron Cobb

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* Frederik Hautain is interviewed by the site he founded, Broken Frontier, on one of the hopefully crowd-funded projects he left the site to do.

* a pair of CR readers independently wrote in -- at least I think they did -- to point out that Chubby Anthology has a patreon.

* finally, there's still time to help the Queers & Comix travel-related crowdfunder.
 
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Go, Look: Winsor McCay Goes Meta

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Go, Look: Splash Pages From 1970s Nova Comics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Jakob Free talks to Daniel Warren Johnson.

* Todd Klein on Cave Carson #3. Andy Oliver on The Palace Of Champions from the great Henriette Valium. Never in my life have I laughed more than a couple of hours I spent in an SPX hotel room (the Holiday Inn) with a half-dozen people listening to Henriette Valium say things.

* Sean Kleefeld gets into the sometimes-inexplicable world of pre-1980 comic strip marketing, via that all-time inexplicably comic strip character, Andy Capp.

* Paste makes a list out of comics sex scenes. I might be alone in this, but "sex scenes" personally hits me as a weird construct outside of my movies-on-tape collection from 1982, so it's interesting to read about scenes isolated on this basis. There don't seem to be a lot of them in the course of standard genre narratives, that's for sure.

* finally, Mark Peters ties Ed Brubaker's Archie homage into the new TV series.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Robyn Chapman!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Kieron Dwyer!

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March 5, 2017


Jay Lynch, RIP

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Go, Look: Leaving North Korea

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Missed It: Eleanor Davis Writes About Her First Time Engaging In Formal Lobbying Activity

My apologies if that headline doesn't describe it correctly. Anti-Trump politicization is a huge issue for comics, in terms of where people are aiming their art and their time. Even my jobs -- one of which I do by myself -- have felt the impact of general readjustment of life priorities post November 2016.

I tend to think for the issues involved it's ACA on the one hand and everything else on the other, at least right at first. There are a few cartoonists who have been treated so differently post-ACA dealing with their health issues that I have to believe there will be a surge of focused attention once the stakes are crystal-clear and there's a calendar attached to them. We'll see. I admire artists who take time to engage with everyday politics.
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 66th Birthday, Lat!

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March 4, 2017


Go, Look: Strange Old Nicknames Map

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Go, Look: Al Milgrom Cover Scans

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 61st Birthday, Randy Stradley!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Glenn Hauman!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Chip Mosher!

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March 3, 2017


Go, Look: Daria Hlazatova

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Bob Mankoff To Step Down From New Yorker Cartoon Editor Post In April; To Be Replaced By Emma Allen

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Cartoonist Bob Mankoff will end his lengthy and lauded run as the New Yorker's cartoon editor in April, it was announced yesterday. Michael Cavna has a solid feature-new article type version of the story here. Emma Allen will replace. I know little about Allen, other than that she is an editor there on staff, I've enjoyed some things she's written and she is younger than 30. She now has one of the great gigs in comics -- and one of the major roles with the shortest list: Allen will be the third, fourth or fifth person at the magazine to have this job depending on how you count things. That seems a very New Yorker way to find Mankoff's replacement: from the inside, but emphasizing what is likely to be a different perspective than that of the position-holder just past.

When he departs, Mankoff will leave behind a significant set of career achievements beyond his own skilled cartooning (that's his most famous cartoon, above). Mankoff was a public figure within that editorship, enough so to have seen a documentary released profiling his negotiation of its tasks and for him to be an author, speaker and occasional festival guest based in part on his editorial gig. I don't know the details of how well it's done cartoonist to cartoonist, but Mankoff's early-Internet success story the Cartoon Bank allowed for a secondary source of income without diminishing the cartoon's cultural cachet. He's added many fine cartoonists to the roster, including Liana Finck (a longer list is in the Cavna article). I don't go very deep in my knowledge of modern gag cartooning, but from my perspective it seems Cavna's is a job well done.

Congratulations to Mankoff on his long run and Allen on her new gig. I look forward to seeing what the new editor's taste and individual perspective brings to the table with one of the great all-time homes of sophisticated cartooning.
 
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Go, Look: Joe Sinnott In Uncanny Tales

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Texas DA Investigator Convicted Of Stealing A Bunch Of Valuable Comics Earmarked As Evidence

Here. Prosecutors used testimony from Dustin Deutsch's then-partner Lonnie Blevins to secure their conviction. Punishment could conceivably surge to life in jail for Deutsch. The pilfering of the collection -- apparently purchased through embezzled funds -- was abetted by a power outage and fell apart at the reach-out-to-dealer step.
 
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Go, Look: Dan Spiegle Draws The Hardy Boys

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A Brief Note Or Two On Old Man Logan, Logan

imageAbraham Riesman wrote about the Old Man Logan series here in anticipation of the new film Logan starring the Wolverine character whose creation is assigned to Len Wein, John Romita Sr. and Roy Thomas. I found that comic-book series a cynical march through "shocking" twists on future, rudimentary Marvel narrative outcomes that bored the living shit out of me. Riesman had a different experience. Accumulating pathos via aging's diminished capacity and mournful perspective is something you see asserted in many versions of the King Arthur cycles and to my memory somewhat more obtusely in the James Fenimore Cooper Hawkeye/Bumppo stories. If you're someone that assigns personal significance to comic book characters it's easy to get to sadness when confronted with a weaker iteration.

I was curious going to see the James Mangold film Logan with a pal because Wolverine is one of the first wave of characters to become popular in American comic books without having a softer Silver Age version against which to push. Turns out I underestimated the cleverness of the filmmakers, who in this film set fire to the hopeful aspects surrounding the character, disassembling the structures for the emotional and personal gains of past movies and building a charnel house in its place. They even take the stunt-like central motivation plot point of the comic by which the movie is broadly influenced and shift it onto a more innocent character to whom it causes greater, more awful, more intimately portrayed and thus harder to take damage. Quality work, that.

As I imagine most of the film's reviews are likely to point out, Logan is executed scene to scene really well. It provides its audience with an economical portrayal of a curdled-to-shit America (those trucks! a subset of minor bad guys straight from a Michael Pollan book!) and action scenes that balance risk with displayed hyper-competence. That last is something few of those films ever achieve and becomes a well-earned source of tension throughout. Twelve-year-old me would have been delighted with the body count and then not known why he didn't sleep well for the next ten weeks. Forty-eight year old me hopes I get to see Patrick Stewart's Lear.
 
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Go, Look: Dr. Seuss Tribute Comic Strips

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Go, Read: Nate McDonough On The Punisher

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While I am incapable of any deep thoughts whatsoever about most corporate superhero characters, I recognize there's enough material there for entire college-level courses. Nate McDonough digs into the Punisher coming off the character's recent press notoriety as small-town police department decal.
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Face #2

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Dr. Fate #18.

* Daniel Olivas talks to Frederick Aldama. Allyson McCabe talks to Leah Hayes. Hillary Brown talk to Jason Shiga.

* scroll down the page on the "about" section for TCAF and you'll get to see all of their posters. Darwyn!

* not exactly sure what's going on with Nanda Sooben's school as discussed in this article, but it doesn't seem like anything that couldn't be worked through.

* Tom Toro talks about cartooning during the early Trump presidency.

* finally, Gabrielle Bell shares a recent favorite. It looks like she's doing the bulk of her on-line work through her Patreon page, which makes sense.
 
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Happy 69th Birthday, Max Allan Collins!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Skottie Young!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Dan Mishkin!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Augie De Blieck!

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March 2, 2017


Go, Look: Jason Das' Tumblr Floodfish

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* whatever you can do for a sick kid is aces with me. In most cases, you can do a nice thing for a kid blessed with full health and I'll be right on board, too. A peak experience for someone younger than 12 can shape a life.

* it's all about ECCC right now. That's a fun show that does a fine job of taking care of its exhibiting professionals. It's in one of the great cities of the world, right downtown. Seattle's changed a lot since I lived there but some things have stayed the same: visit independent businesses whenever you can, and walk everywhere you're able.

* if you were going to ECCC to meet Injustice writer Tom Taylor, he's sitting this one out. If he were like his game-based comic he'd show up and pull off President Trump's arm.

* another step on SDCC's long road to full registration.

* speaking of that show, here's Rob Salkowitz interviewing their spokesman, David Glanzer.

* there used to be a couple of great little places to buy comics in the '90s in Goshen and Elkhart. Elkhart in particular had a bookstore with a major back issues component. Hours spent in those places.

* finally, the show for which I work, Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), has had its exhibitor registration go live since we last chatted in this column. Maximizing the experience for our exhibiting guests is a special area of focus this year, and always a top concern. We know the con season is busy in the Fall, but we hope you'll consider us.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Color Cartoons Clipped By Dick Buchanan

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Vol. 2. JP Follavollita on Royal City #1. Nick Smith on The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir.

* Dean Mullaney shares the joys of working with Pete Poplaski.

* no, he's a fictional character.

* Brigid Alverson talks to Bryan Lee O'Malley and Leslie Hung. Kieran Shiach talks to Marley Zarcone and Cecil Castellucci. Greg Hunter talks to Eddie Campbell.

* this is a fun-looking project I totally missed: Chris Schweizer presents some woman fighters from throughout history.

* this picture from the Comics Workbook "All About It" write-up is my favorite photo of a cartoonist working I've seen in a long while. So happy!

* finally, you still got it, cat.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Mark Evanier!

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March 1, 2017


OTBP: Laffy Meal

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Go, Look: Stacey Bru

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Go, Look: Silent Celery

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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.

*****

JAN171776 SIMPLY SAMUEL HC $24.99
I think this is a Tommi Musturi silent book of recent vintage, and Musturi's cartooning is always welcome. It's also one of the few slam-dunk alt-comics offerings of the week, and I feel like those should be supported given the chance.

JAN171281 MUTTS SHELTER STORIES LOVE GUARANTEED SC $16.99
I think when McDonnell's career finally ends this book will look like a near halfway point splitting of the strip between its reputation for elegance and charm and its naked support for the social issue encompassed by the care for animals. It will be a positive appraisal, I hope.

imageDEC160437 ANIMAL NOIR #1 $3.99
JAN170105 BALTIMORE THE RED KINGDOM #2 $3.99
JAN170339 FLINTSTONES #9 $3.99
JAN170772 WALKING DEAD #165 (MR) $2.99
JAN171038 DOCTOR STRANGE #18 $3.99
DEC161120 CEREBUS IN HELL #2 $4.00
JAN171476 GIANT DAYS #24 $3.99
JAN171471 GOLDIE VANCE #10 $3.99
JAN171155 MOTOR GIRL #4 $3.99
JAN171762 ALL TIME COMICS CRIME DESTROYER #1 $4.99
NOV161087 REICH #4 (OF 12) (MR) $3.00
Most of the action this week is here in the single-issue comics. Animal Noir is a European comic brought here to live or die in serial comic book form. That usually doesn't but that's a charming book where a lower price might bring readers happy to have new comics-makers an entry point into new work. There's your Mignola. There's the inexplicable Flinstones minor hit: it really does work pretty well, and I get zero out of the other comics they've brought back to the stands this time around. Walking Dead day I imagine is still a pretty happy day at most comics shops, right up there with Saga day. Doctor Strange is a rare well-regarded serial comic for Marvel right this second. They've already had spinoffs. Cerebus In Hell I'll catch up to, I swear, just not yet. Here are three exemplars of the new mainstream approach, all of which have solid creators at work on them. I don't quite understand the appeal of wretched 1970's genre comic re-dos, just as something which to do, but I like a number of the comics that results. Reich I've learned is an Alternative Comics re-do of the Sparkplug series.

DEC160596 CORTO MALTESE GN IN SIBERIA $29.99
I look forward to this series as IDW continues to put them out, particularly they get into what I remember to be more interesting and more elegantly drawn material. The nice thing about that kind of perception is that even if it's more of the same I get to wrestle with my perceptions versus the work's reality.

DEC160606 DAVE STEVENS ROCKETEER ARTISAN ED TP DIRECT MARKET EXC $39.99
I have a hunch there will always be Rocketeer re-issues of one sort or the other: that character's special fit. This is basically a slightly downscale Artist's Edition, under $50, same treatment of the art, softcover instead of hard. No matter what, every Stevens re-formatting will be extremely attractive.

JUN160964 KARNAK TP FLAW IN ALL THINGS $17.99
I'm not sure how these comics work for modern superhero fans but to me the couple of issues I bought were pretty funny: the strike-and-shatter Inhuman recast as a young Kurtwood Smith, verbally on point, having unpleasant adventures and irritating anyone he might possibly talk to rather than chop in the head.

SEP161119 SHANG-CHI MASTER OF KUNG FU OMNIBUS HC VOL 03 DEODATO CVR $125.00
SEP161120 SHANG-CHI MASTER OF KUNG FU OMNIBUS HC VOL 03 DM ZECK VAR ED $125.00
It's a weird enough day at the comic shop I don't mind ending with a giant Marvel comic in a format I don't understand. I think I do have sort of a grasp on the format here: Marvel's long had success with these super-fat hardcovers that I guess go to those guys in suits I've long heard about but only ever see in Midtown Comics. I liked the heck out of these comics when I was a kid and re-bought the originals for me to consume as an adult when these collections were a twinkling in some lawyer's eye. They have that slight bump in maturity that the British Avengers TV show had, that idea you're at the adults table even if you haven't quite earned it. Plus: kung-fu.

*****

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, Listen: Joey Alison Sayers On Process Party

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Not Comics: Frank Godwin Illustration Work

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Steve Foxe talks to Johnnie Christmas. Paul Tumey talks to Emil Ferris... again. Alex Dueben talks to Sandrine Revel.

* Frank Santoro returns with another seminar on risograph.

* Paul Tumey on Dick Tracy. Frank Young on Dick Tracy.
*
* finally, a must-read: Roger Angell remembers James Stevenson.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Joyce Brabner!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Benjamin Marra!

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