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

March 11, 2007

CR Sunday Magazine


Sunday Morning Notes, Discombobulated By The Time Change

* Come, sit. Have some coffee. Let's talk about comics and comics-related ephemera for a while.

* My friend Gil Roth shares my basic reaction to the big weekend opening for Zack Snyder's 300 movie -- for those of us of a certain age it's hard to get past the fact that we live in a world where the success of Frank Miller movies are a topic in the first place. It's like having to discuss Vice-President Gygax.

* For a funny discussion of the film's merits, check out this exchange between cartoonists Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld.

* Good weekend for Neil Gaiman, if you think about it for a second.

image* Speaking of things named Stardust, Paul Karasik's forthcoming book on the strange and wonderful Golden Age comic book artist Fletcher Hanks, I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets is receiving a solid ramp-up to publication for a book sporting what one would at best characterize as having a modest potential audience. Note not just the piece linked to in F.L.A.G.G. below at primarily mainstream-focused comics news site Newsarama, but also this thread wondering if the whole thing is a hoax. There was a similar undercurrent of interest in Dan Nadel's excellent Art Out of Time before that volume came out, but mentions of Karasik's book seems to me a bit more heated and with a potentially more accessible pay-off.

* I'm finally caught up enough in my reading to start preparing a Best of 2006 list. I think my #1 may not have been on any of the other major list, which I guess could be sort of interesting. Here's a question, though: I feel like I may have missed someone, someone who doesn't get talked about on a regular basis -- like Henry Payne, although I have looked at Henry Payne.

* Speaking of editorial cartoons, I'm having a hard time working up much interest in the trend towards political animations, at least as a substitute for traditional cartoons. The making of static-image cartoons and moving-image animations do not automatically share the same skill base, and I think sometimes animating something can be less flattering to a cartoonist because the extended exposure may more completely expose the banality of a not-great idea. The ones I like best may be those from Shujaat Ali on Al-Jazeera because they seem most like the re-presentation of static imagery, and Ali's generally a strong caricaturist so the visual appeal is maintained even in simplified form. But I'm not totally excited about them, either.

image* Other than Captain America, the book I'm being e-mailed the most about right now is Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, a book of multiple approaches including comics by Anders Nilsen. My e-mail is running about three people saying "Holy God, why isn't everyone talking about this book?" to one person expressing doubts or otherwise running ahead of an anticipated backlash. In my experience, that's a much greater sign that a book is hitting with people than 100 percent bland pronouncements that something is good. Don't Go is the book I have right now that I'm reading and re-rereading in obsessive fashion, and if it's escaped your notice I recommend picking it up.

* Every other month I'm tempted to start a blog devoted to my attempts to lose weight using nothing but the principles laid out in The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book.

* One of the stories that was slightly stronger on the days after the release of Captain America #25 than on the first day of release was whether or not retailers benefited in appropriate fashion. I love comics retailers, and if I were Emperor I would wave my scepter and pass a law against fans and readers lecturing businesspeople in patronizing fashion on what they should do in any specific circumstance to be a better businessperson, on punishment of beatings. Still, I don't see how it's reasonable for anyone to have expected Marvel to know exactly how this plot point would play differently than all their other plot points and sales initiatives, and given the lack of discipline in the retail system generally about the dissemination of passed-along information or even selling books ahead of time, the way information is traditionally pressed for advantage instead of the wider benefit of the customers, I don't see how it would have suited Marvel to be more explicit about their plans and let retailers decide for themselves with all information in hand. Call me cynical, but I'm imagining just as many Captain America #25's scooped up and pre-priced at higher than cover price as I am extra copies for everyone who walked into stores that wanted one. We should be honest that in a sense that whole system is broken right at the points that would allow for maximum benefit on getting in-series publishing events into readers' hands, and therefore no effort making use of those channels is likely to please everyone 100 percent. In the end, I think everything worked out pretty well.

* Is there any better, easier-to-find deal out there than the number of Peter Arno hardcovers that are routinely available from used bookstore services like AbeBooks for less than $5?

* I'm very suspicious that anyone really cares about this kind of thing, but I'm changing format on the CR Sunday Magazines starting next week to better reflect how this articles are picked up by people getting them off of a news reader. The good news: better features up top.


Five Link A Go Go

* go, look at Evan Dorkin's posting of a Roy Crane page

* you probably wondered what the Onion would write on Captain America

* you always want to read what Paul Karasik has to say about Fletcher Hanks

* you could download a PDF on comics in North Carolina, if you wanted, or read about how Chuck Rozanski lived through a dream that many comics readers have not once but twice

* people full of hate for comics' bad aspects on The Engine


Go, Look: Emmanuel Malin



First Thought Of The Day
Everyone is at the office today so they can take the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA basketball tournament off and watch TV for 12 hours in a row 12 hours apart, right?
posted 11:09 am PST | Permalink

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