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

















July 28, 2016


CR Review: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi -- The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume Three

imageCreators: Gary Gerani, the Topps company, various early-'80s on-set photographers, Lucasfilm
Publishing Information: Abrams ComicArts, hardcover, 528 pages, August 2016, $24.95.
Availability: 1419720929 (ISBN10), 9781419720925 (ISBN13)

This very curious thing has been sitting on my desk for about a week. It's a page by page reprinting of the entire set of Return Of The Jedi photo-cards made by Topps back when that movie came out almost two full adult lifetimes now. I can't attest to its quality. There are elements of the presentation that I find fun but I find the cards themselves sort of fitfully ugly. I don't remember that being an attractively-lit movie and that bears out here with a lot of muddy imagery. It brings to mind few thrilling set pieces from that film, which makes sense because that film is fairly dull, constructed in the main from images that flash back to more effectively utilized visuals from the first two movies.

I also don't know why this is under Abrams ComicArt imprint. This book is the kind of thing my Mom lumps in under comics. Most active comics fans probably don't see it the same way of my parent, at least not automatically. There may be something going on under the auspices of making this particular part of the publishing empire a bit more specifically profitable, I'm not certain. All of the companies with a wider-than-comics mandate have done something similar, so it's not something on which I'm focused.

I have no idea who this is for, but it's clearly not for me.
 
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Go, Look: John Martz Remembers Richard Thompson

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By Request Extra: Help John Kerschbaum

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John Kerschbaum, a good man and a highly-skilled cartoonist, could use your help after his family was displaced by a fire. Please join me in doing so.
 
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Go, Look: Adventures Of A Clintern

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Go, Look: Etta Hulme Material Profiled

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By Request Extra: Rise Of Czap Books

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Czap Books, the smart boutique publisher run by that good citizen of comics Kevin Czapiewski, launched a crowd-funder yesterday to fund that line's 2017 season.

That's a strategy pursued by a lot of small publishers right now, and it's not one I recommend anyone endorse without looking into the season that will be supported and the history, however brief, of the person or persons making the request. I am sure Kevin Czapiewski and the imprint welcome that scrutiny.

As of this writing they look well on their way to getting to their initial goal, and good for them.
 
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Go, Look: How Richard Thompson Made The Pie Higher

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Go, Read: Andrew Aydin's Beard Explained

It's a good story. It's a nice beard, too!
 
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Go, Look: Drew Friedman On Jack Davis' Work At TV Guide

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By Request Extra: Smut And Jeff

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We're in the last hours of this crowd-funder from Kody Chamberlain, which I did not see in my Inbox until after the intensive San Diego con period. The e-mail was so nice I wanted to mention it here in case there's a flood of people or one very interested person that might wish to fund this project in its later stages. The impressive ask covers five full-color issues, making it much less of an impressive ask, really.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Davis Drawing Abraham Lincoln

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* Comic Arts Brooklyn is a go: a one-day exhibitor-driven show on November 5. This is the same day as Short Run, which is too bad, but I love-love-love Comic Arts Brooklyn and I hope it kicks ass this year just as it has the past few. It's very important, I think, for good shows to be in the New York area, one of the best markets for comics in the world. Apply if you're regional or just itching to roam the streets of Brooklyn during a crisp Fall weekend.

* you have until July 31st to apply for CAKE's Cupcake Award and all the stuff that comes with it: a fine opportunity for a young comics-maker.

* Comic-Con International has announced next year's show will be July 20-23 with a Preview Night set for July 19. This is a week after the D23 Expo in Anaheim run by Disney. If you see Comic-Con as an entity measured by its ability to foster big-corporation marketing moments, I imagine this is a great concern and fascinating item of speculation. I personally don't care, and I think Comic-Con has headed in a slightly different direction for about three years now. I also think there's plenty of PR to go around.

* with Comic-Con in the rearview window, most of comics will mostly rest until SPX. I am all for there being at least three significant periods of time per year of comics stepping away from cons and festivals. It allows the events themselves the ability to breathe, makes a good month for tours and store visits by individual creators, and gives pressed creators some guaranteed time off. We don't get that any longer, but you can still see the relative lack of shows in August as a hangover from that traditional way of doing things.

* all that said, I'll be handing out free stuff at Wizard World Columbus this year. Please stop by and say hi.

* I quite like the look of these.

* this article about comics-makers -- or at least comics-conceivers -- using the popularity of movies based on comics to try and backdoor their way into Hollywood stuff is super-depressing.

* finally, AAEC has a poster, a setting a date and a bunch of other stuff set for this year's gathering.

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

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through August 2016

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*****

July 29
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)
* If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

July 30
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

July 31
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)

*****

August 3
* If I Were In SF And Qualified, I'd Go To This

August 12
* If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This (Otakon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This (Kansas City Comic Con)

August 13
* If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This (Otakon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This (Kansas City Comic Con)

August 14
* If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This (Otakon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This (Kansas City Comic Con)

August 17
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

August 18
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)

August 19
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

August 20
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)

August 21
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)

August 25
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

August 26
* If I Were Near Palm Springs, I'd Go To This (Comic Con Palm Springs)
* If I Were In Cleveland, I'd Go To This (BOUND)

August 27
* If I Were Near Palm Springs, I'd Go To This (Comic Con Palm Springs)
* If I Were In Cleveland, I'd Go To This (BOUND)

August 28
* If I Were Near Palm Springs, I'd Go To This (Comic Con Palm Springs)

*****

Events For September 2016 Onward Listed Here

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Jack Davis Draws The Entire 1965-1966 NBC Television Schedule

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain on A City Inside. Etelka Lehoczky on various mini-comics.

* that ending in a Walking Dead issue that felt like a potential ending to the comic book series? It was.

* not comics: weirdly, I think the DC Comics of the last few years might translate better into these heavy house-style DC cartoons than admirably crafted by deeply messed-up, more idiosyncratic material by better artists.

* David Press writes about a favorite panel from Paper Girls.

* Gary Tyrrell talks to Gene Yang.

* finally, here's a nice picture of writer Peter David winning an Inkpot in San Diego. I missed him on my first round-up.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Will Pfeifer!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Jon J Muth!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Jim Davis!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Miriam Libicki!

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July 27, 2016


CR Review: Civil War 2 #1-3

imageCreators: Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Olivier Coipel, Justin Ponsor
Ordering Information: Marvel, comic books, 44 pages, 2016, $4.99 each.
Availability: Comic Shops Nationwide

Let's get the caveats out of the way first. I've liked the Brian Michael Bendis-written comic books I've read in the past. The art team for these comics of David Marquez and Justin Ponsor seems well-suited to what Marvel's Civil War 2 asks them to do, even if it's not particularly distinctive to someone not immersed in that world. I have fun reading superhero event series. In an era where the Direct Market seems dominated by patrons looking to be told what's important and vital to buy, crossover titles do that more directly than any other comics on the stands. Sitting down with this small pile of comic books, I was ready to enjoy myself and discover some insight as to how modern series work, what's important to company and creators at this particular time, and maybe see some cool fights and witty interplay.

Then I read the issues.

I'm still not sure what the heck happened, but I didn't have much fun, and I'm an easy mark. Plus now I'm confused as well.

In this rehash of the mega-successful Civil War series of 2006 into 2007, the various Marvel heroes on the 41 different Avengers teams have to decide how and if to make use of a precognitive Inhuman recently unearthed by that Jack Kirby (with Stan Lee) creation's Royal Family, the Inhumans fully present in their strange, modern role as X-Men with better movie deals. (The Inhuman in question, Ulysses, looks like a 2005 parody of a Portland barista. He's a student at Ohio State, so okay, I'll give them that one.)

Instead of Iron Man vs. Captain America, this time it's Iron Man vs. Captain Marvel: great for the latter character's relative gravitas but so far not as iconically satisfying as the two geezer-pals coming to blows. Instead of everyone fighting everyone, the actors playing significant roles in Civil War 2 stand around and talk -- at least so far. Conflict is either over quickly, told in flashback form, projected or thwarted. That could be part of the point, too, I don't know. It makes for a pretty dull ride. Even the dialogue never gets much further than people declaring first motivations at each other, Internet-style.

Sometimes I think all of modern comics can be explained in that one Avengers annual Jim Starlin did in the mid-'70s when they go off into space to fight Thanos, back when travel converns weren't automatically circumvented in superhero plotlines. Three to four pages of that issue is thus given over to the various heroes brooding and contemplating this forthcoming battle as they move towards it. If like me as an eight-year-old you preferred the Council of Elrond to the Battle of Helm's Deep, this was an amazing thing. There was a time when a significant subset of superhero readers would occasionally verbalize their desire to have their favorites just sit around and talk, as if every other kind of comic weren't more suitable for that, to greater reward.

Can you do whole issues with the Avengers on a quinjet, brooding? Whole series? Is this a slow build to something or is this the something? Are readers that invested in incremental soap opera based on abstract ideas of genre filtered through broad approaches to what the future means? The words used to create the series' slogans fail to achieve the clarity the previous series' register/don't register paradigm enjoyed. I still don't know which side is protecting and which side is saving the future. I might never find out. In the three issues I read, there are barely sides. Is that the point? As walking metaphors, superheroes will support just about any reading, but that doesn't make the readings any more pleasurable or insightful, except maybe in an accidental way: the choice of victim, who is deferential to whom. At that point it becomes about the genre, which was only ever half of the 1960s Marvel formula.

It may be through fiat-favoring sprawl that this particular comic series in its entirety is what used to be the 3-4 pages of an old annual's subplot, and the fighting and meaning-making has all been moved into the supporting series. At some point -- I remember first thinking this around the time of Final Crisis, which read much better with its Superman series sewn into its body -- mainstream comics companies became happy to sell you a clearly lesser version of the story in the hopes your buying habits might migrate in an unconscious search for a more complete version. It's a strategy that rewards smart readers and punishes your competitors. It's a strategy that thwarts art.

It's difficult for me to trust modern entertainment that conceals its best parts in an attempt to extend the amount of money they're asking you to spend. The longer versions of Peter Jackson's boys-adventure Lord Of The Rings movies were an exception that proved the rule, and for those to work that way they had to utilize Academy Award-nominated material as the "less satisfying" components. Now we get this idea regularly, like with that horrible Batman vs. Superman film, a time-lapse of a bruise being formed, showing up with its hand out 90 days after spitting on your palm. Who has the time to keep up? I do this for a living and I don't.

Some days with comics I feel like I'm buying Wonka bars, hoping I got one of the ones with the plot in it. If this is the future, I vote reject it.

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Jack Davis, RIP

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Richard Thompson, RIP

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Go, Look: Alitha E. Martinez

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Go, Look: Jim Rugg Pin-Up Process Post

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