I don't have any personal anecdotes to share about the late Stan Lee. I know he didn't like the book I co-wrote about him, though it did come from a place of great affection.
Lee's DNA is all over modern comics, to the extent that the way comics and comics creators approach things can frequently be traced back to something Stan wanted, or an ambition he had. The fact that comics are frequently boiled down to concepts -- where Fantastic Four is a "comic about family" instead of a a stupendously drawn science fantasy with endearing characters -- I might argue comes mostly from Stan and his desire to be a Hollywood ideas man.
I think Lee also perfected a way for fans to extend their relationships with a certain kind of comics story by presenting a second story marking their creation, with the comics' creators replacing the characters on the page as the heroes of the narrative. Eight-year-old Marvel readers wanted to be Spider-Man. 16-year-old Marvel readers wanted to be the guy drawing Spider-Man. Lee found a way to wink at readers that never felt like he was making fun of any potential serious devotion to the narratives.
It's also noteworthy that Lee had a hosting function with the work that unlike Walt Disney's similar efforts had to push against dismissive and disdainful attitudes about the material itself. As a kid in the 1970s with no comics-reading friends, it felt like Stan Lee was sticking up for me.
I could go on forever, and probably will. Lee's reluctance to advocate for his artists as co-creators isn't comics' original sin but is perhaps its most unnecessary and therefore extra-troubling. His not-unique orientation towards film and TV as a legitimizing force has had a unique ripple effect, not all of it good. His last years had significant elements of personal tragedy. There are lessons in those last three decades for every creator of anything.
As is the case for many comics creators and comics industry professionals, I owe Stan Lee. He is certainly one of those public figures that if he were absent from my life things would have turned out very differently. I appreciate his accomplishment and in ways both good and bad his example. Excelsior and RIP.
* the way the site is set up I don't have a good way to make note of ongoing art exhibits, but since I didn't list the opening of San Francisco's Ralph Steadman exhibit, I thought I'd at least mention it here.
* Tom Tomorrow notes that Twitter was engaged with Matt Bors' account late last week. I don't see how this stuff ends with no real threat of any sort of ban harming the company.
* I am going to Comic Arts Brooklyn (CAB) tomorrow the 11th for about six hours and you should, too if you're anywhere in the region.
* You should buy as much stuff as you can stand. There's a year's worth of books out there on that floor, plus about a same-size entire group of books from cartoonists who are new or with whom most of us even close readers are as yet unfamiliar. CAB has my favorite expo floor in comics, and I think it's the strongest show we have for buying things booth to booth, top to bottom. I will be doing a lot of bending over and squinting at books.
* If you don't have a ton of time for a voyage of discovery like this and only a few other shows provide, there are some cheats. Olivier Schrauwen's Parallel Lives is the buzz book going in; you could do worse than walking out with only that book. Lauren Weinstein's September issue of Frontieir is still new and is one of the two or three strongest books of this year if not #1. She'll be there, so you can have it signed. I am interested the new Roman Muradov; Muradov is a really talented cartoonist that hasn't had a signature hit as of yet, and one hopes Vanishing Act might be the one that enters into enough imaginations that he has a strong book to book presence from here on out. And I guarantee you: even with certain books from established publishers from Drawn and Quarterly to Silver Sprocket to Conundrum to Secret Acres, there are going to be 17 more books just as interesting on that floor waiting for you find them. Dive in!
* although I think the show has taken on a more aggressive sales identity: this is New York. There is going to be worthy programming. Three spotlights jump out at me, and I'm going to try and see all three: Schrauwen's, Jim Woodring (Woodring has been great in interviews this year, and Poochytown is so, so good), and Ariel Schrag interviewed by Hillary Chute, which is a great pairing.
* enjoy yourselves, enjoy New York and I hope to see you in Brooklyn.
Assembled Extra: Tegan O'Neil Collections Available
Tegan O'Neil wrote in to point out changes in the way older work at The Hurting is to be distributed and collected, in an attempt to jumpstart interest in a related Patreon. There's a lot of intriguing writing there.
* using the Chuck Wendig firing as a springboard, Asher Elbein looks at the vulnerability of working comics professionals: passionate about their jobs, poorly paid, facing tons of competition. I think we could in five years see massive effects from this as a generation that didn't have a period of middle-age existence begin to move past comics and into retirement.
* no idea why this particular blog posting from a few years baked flashed back into my twitter feed, but it's nice to see so much of the Big Apple Comix comics stories.
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events
By Tom Spurgeon
* the first round of Comic-Con International badge sales begins this weekend. It's an amazing thing that people still want to go to this particular show given how many alternatives there are out there and CCI rarely gets enough credit for this. Like right now it feels like the energy is more in toys than maybe the big fantasy movie series of 10 years ago, but the general appetite on display feels about the same.
* CAKE exhibitor applications are open now until December 9. That's a good show with a really strong exhibitor base
This Isn't A Library: New, Notable Releases Into Comics' Direct Market
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.
JUL181775 DIRTY PLOTTE GN BOX SET COMPLETE JULIE DOUCET (MR) $119.95 AUG182099 PIERO GN (MR) $17.95
Two extremely worthwhile books from two comics masters -- one a complete run of Julie Doucet's Dirty Plotte, and one I think the first by-itself book from a North American publisher featuring the influential Edmond Baudoin. The Doucet book is a clear book of the year candidate and a crucially important collection. If it's not on your Christmas list for someone, you need to get new friends.
JUL180926 COMPLETE LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE HC VOL 15 $49.99
More from the great Harold Gray and the always-underrated Annie, which had more good years than many people realize, certainly visually. I don't like every classic comic strip as much as I did when I was a kid, but Little Orphan Annie may be the only one I like significantly more.
SEP181819 ART OF THE GRAPHIC MEMOIR SC $25.99
This is an intriguing to get instructional material out of Tom Hart, one of his comics-generation's great teachers and memoir writers. I almost like the idea of a focused work over a bigger, general one.
SEP181327 GIANT DAYS #44 $3.99 SEP180939 DOCTOR STRANGE #7 $3.99 SEP180430 GREEN LANTERN #1 $4.99 AUG182105 KAIJUMAX SEASON 4 #3 (OF 6) (MR) $3.99
Not a lot in the comic-book format material that spoke to me. I will always look at any book to which John Allison contributed. The Doctor Strange is writer Mark Waid, and I'd lost track of Waid after he stopped working with Chris Samnee. Marvel's line reads miserable to me right now, so I'm happy to see Waid working on something so I can read something from the publisher. Grant Morrison will be writing for this new Space Cop Anthology take on DC's foundational character. Morrison is always worth noting. The Kaijumax is Zander Cannon, and is an old-school oddball indy comic of the kind I wish there were a lot more of. Four seasons!
JUL182063 DRAWN TO SEX GN SEX BASICS OH JOY SEX TOY (MR) $19.99
A lot of folks are fond of these comics and I have to image they'd do well in bookstores, via store visits and even in comic book shops if hand-sold.
JUL189280 ERIC GN $29.95
I don't remember anything about this comics except that while looking at an example I realize I've read some parts of it. It was very weird, like a random Epic serial being collected.
AUG181671 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 (MR) $6.99 AUG181679 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 BLOODY MARY (MR) $6.99 AUG181680 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 BLOODY MARY NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181682 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 DEADLY (MR) $6.99 AUG181683 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 DEADLY NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181676 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 KILLER BODIES (MR) $6.99 AUG181677 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 KILLER BODIES NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181685 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 LUSCIOUS (MR) $6.99 AUG181686 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 LUSCIOUS NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181672 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181700 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 SEXY NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181691[ PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 SIRENS (MR) $6.99 AUG181692 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 SIRENS NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181674 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 STUNNERS (MR) $6.99 AUG181675 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 STUNNERS NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181696 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 SULTRY NUDE (MR) $8.99 AUG181688 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 WRAP (MR) $6.99 AUG181689 PANDORA SHOTGUN MARY #0 WRAP NUDE (MR) $8.99
Do these kinds of comics still sell in a way that justifies all this effort and relative space? You can see actual people do sex things on video for free now, and this doesn't seem like the kind of effort where the artistic treatment of it would elevate the material. Although who knows?
SEP181885 PART OF IT COMICS AND CONFESSIONS (MR) $17.99
Hey, it's Ariel Schrag. Everything Schrag does is of interest.
JUL181779 BLAME THIS ON THE BOOGIE GN (MR) $22.95 MAY181610 ART COMIC HC (MR) $29.95
Finally, two strong efforts from really good veteran cartoonists. Rina Ayuyang is a delight, her comics are very sweet and funny and she has a unique approach to color that would make her worth buying all by itself. Matthew Thurber's collection of Art Comic is funny as hell even if you don't get half the jokes. I get about 10 percent of them. Still: it's very appealing work.
The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.
To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.
The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.
If I failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.
* comics life in Columbus is good: Joe Sacco appears at OSU tomorrow night; Nicole Hollander next week. Hollander is here via the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum; don't know the exact host for Joe. It's all good to me.
* here's another list trying to summarize the beauty of an expansive art form through a list that is mostly higher-end action-adventure comics with a heavy writerly element. There's three or four comics on there that might make a top 100 for me, and at least that many that I think aren't even good. So it goes. List-making is always an interesting exercise, though, and I have fun reading them.
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News
By Tom Spurgeon
* Bill Schelly describes the expanded Sense Of Wonder edition and the audio version. That book gets a lot of points with me for being on a subject both obscure and vital, from someone who was there. I wish we had as good of books from people about mid-century mainstream comics publishing made when a lot of the first-generation industry people were still alive.
* Joey Weiser gives us a look at the cover of next summer's Ghost Hog, from Oni Press.
* Drew Ford writes of new, forthcoming Bozz Chronicles work. Ford reprinted the six-issue series as one of his publishing efforts and will be involved with raising money for these new efforts. I'll be interested in seeing it, particularly how much if anything might change in a different publishing era.
* finally: as described by Charles Vess, this illustrated book sounds like something of interest to young readers and the comics fans that know them.
Bundled Extra: Chicago Sun-Times Moves From Three Pages Of Comics To One Page Plus A Scattered Few
Here's their announcement. I'm looking around for someone in the Chicago media watching business that would know what's been dropped -- if anyone has caught such a blog post or article,
The regional media critic Robert Feder has a short list of casualties and some commentary here. DD Degg and a pair of readers of the resurgent Daily Cartoonist have a complete accounting here. What's left skews towards their older strips, it looks like.
I was a Midwestern kid and lived in Chicago for a couple of years. I was a devoted Tribune reader -- I don't remember being able to get the Sun-Times in northern Indiana -- and my take on its comics page vs. the Sun-Times is that 1) the Tribune offering was generally superior and 2) one mitigating circumstance is that the Sun-Times had a shitload of comics with three pages of them. I think -- and someone can correct me here, too -- that the Sun-Times also had multiple suburban-type papers with different strategies for different publications.
What does it mean for the future, immediate and otherwise? Well, a lot of strips just lost a sizable client. It's still an industry where a lot of strips are out there carrying a small number of clients. I'm interested in what the decision-makers were looking at to indicate this was their best move; the decision itself might not be as important as the reasons. When the newspaper industry cratered in the late 2000s the conventional wisdom was that comics would suffer for the general decline but would also be an important remaining and unique feature for a while yet. Is "a while yet" something that starts to end now? I doubt it, but we'll see. Acceleration seems likely at some point.
Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding
By Tom Spurgeon
* that generous writer about early efforts from a variety of cartoonists, Rob Clough -- he is also involved at SPX with their programming -- has expressed a need and would like to offer you some mini-comics. One would suppose, and you'd have to check, that if you were to buy some seminal minis and give them to the Billy's Dylan Williams collection or its equivalent at other libraries you could support Rob and make a tax-deductible donation. You'd have to check, though, seriously, I have no idea if that's true.
* those sued by Cody Pickrodt continue to receive support, and I hope we can get to that initial goal by the holidays. Please give. I think it's important that people able to speak freely about their experience without being fearful that the existence of a lawsuit keep them from doing so.
* Mark Evanier provides a list of comics industry truisms from 1970, many of which still apply. It's interesting for the look it provides into a time when mainstream comics company editorial decision-making dominated everything, to the point that quirks of behavior in individual offices had a ripple effect across the entire field.
Everyone Caught This But Me: Vanguard Visionary Assets Now Majority Owner At Dark Horse
Deal described by Milton Griepp here and discussed by Heidi MacDonald here. Both stories underline Mike Richardson remains CEO and retains a significant ownership share.
I have no real opinion about this. I guess there's an angle where you point out that VVA is a Chinese company, which I'm not sure really says anything specific to comics except that there is always the promise/hope that that country can be opened as a market -- a not unreasonable expectation, I suppose, at least the chance this might happen. It does look like Dark Horse's attention to its post loss of Star Wars core properties and its creation of very friendly to film and TV properties like Resident Alien make it a more friendlier partner for media companies like Netflix. I'm grateful for artists to have those opportunities and hope they're fairly executed.
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events
By Tom Spurgeon
* exhibitor applications are open for VanCAF 2019 through December 15. That's a growing-in-popularity show, a very visitable city, and a region with a rich reservoir of comics talent. I've always wanted to go but the cost of the show so soon after Toronto kills me. The difficulty of getting to certain parts of North America from secondary-hub airports is a fact of life now. I'm jealous of those who get to, though.
* there was a blackface incident at Alamo City Comic Con when a prominent participant used black make-up to approximate the appearance of a dog character from a specific Disney effort. That seems deeply unfortunate no matter the intention going in, which I personally imagine -- though I could be wrong -- was wholly benign. A contest organizer and the con more generally have apologized.
* if I'm reading this correctly, it looks like Comic-Con International is going to establish firm limits on guest badges linked to professional registrations, part of their ongoing transformation of that process. I have a lot of sympathy for CCI making such changes as they've long been very generous in keeping as many old methods as possible, even as the show has continued to surge in popularity. I also know if/when they do something similar in my category, press, that I have years of being indulged under my belt and can't really object at all to most imagined outcomes of a more stringent policy.
* I always enjoy these Sarah McIntyre posts, which have this feel of coming from an alternate universe where everyone wears delightful costumes and makes cool looking stuffed creatures right out of well-designed books.
* by request extra: I don't know that there's any specific financial need tied into these offerings from Roger Langridge, but he is someone that could always be rewarded to the medium's overall benefit.
* David Beard profiles conservative editorial cartoonist Antonio Branco.