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

















April 19, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Ellen Lindner On It's A Draw


Kevin Siers Wins The Pulitzer


ECCC Music Costume Video Dave Lasky Recommended


Profile Of Ben Katchor


A 1962 "Cartoonists Conference"
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Charles Cole, Blindfolded Cartoonist
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from April 12 to April 18, 2014:

1. Kevin Siers wins the Pulitzer Prize.

2. A rolling series of discussions took place in various on-line arenas and via various social media communication tooks regarding sexual harassment issues in comics.

3. Eisner Award nominations go out, with a greater-than-usual representation of women working in the art form but no dominant books or creators.

Winner Of The Week
Siers!

Loser Of The Week
Direct Market sales, first quarter of 2014.

Quote Of The Week
"We sell a lot of Captain America and Thor because of the girls who like the movies. Guys don’t buy them as much now. They buy X-Men and Avengers. Oh, except, Incredible Hulk, that sells well, brown people love it." -- a comic shop employee as described in a review of a comics retail shop. I have no idea if it's true or not, or how true it is if true, but that is one depressing review. (via)

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image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

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Go, Look: Flip The Switch

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

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If I Were In DC, 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 Vancouver, I'd Go To This

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

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through May 2014

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April 20
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In Vancouver, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Anaheim, I'd Go To This (WonderCon)
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

April 24
* If I Were In Minnesota, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

April 25
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (C2E2)
* If I Were In Minnesota, I'd Go To This

April 26
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (C2E2)
* If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

April 27
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (C2E2)
* If I Were In Wales, I'd Go To This (Wales Comic Con)
* If I Were In Louisville, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

April 29
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This
* If I Were Near Jackson, I'd Go To This

April 30
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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May 1
* If I Were In Naples, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

May 2
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Naples, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Wellington, I'd Go To This

May 3
* If I Were In Naples, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Arizona, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Wellington, I'd Go To This

May 4
* If I Were In Naples, I'd Go To This
* If I Were Near Purchase, I'd Go To This

May 7
* If I Were In Austin, I'd Go To This

May 8
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

May 9
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (TCAF)
* If I Were In Bucharest, I'd Go To This (East European Comic Con)
* If I Were In Ottawa, I'd Go To This (Ottawa Comiccon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

May 10
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (TCAF)
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Bucharest, I'd Go To This (East European Comic Con)
* If I Were In Ottawa, I'd Go To This (Ottawa Comiccon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

May 11
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (TCAF)
* If I Were In Bucharest, I'd Go To This (East European Comic Con)
* If I Were In Ottawa, I'd Go To This (Ottawa Comiccon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

May 12
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

May 15
* If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This

May 16
* If I Were In Detroit, I'd Go To This (Motor City Con)
* If I Were In Stockholm, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Myrtle Beach, I'd Go To This (XCon)
* f I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

May 17
* If I Were In Fort Wayne, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Detroit, I'd Go To This (Motor City Con)
* If I Were In Minneapolis, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Stockholm, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Myrtle Beach, I'd Go To This (XCon)
* f I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Philly, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In San Jose, I'd Go To This (Big Wow)

May 18
* If I Were In Fort Wayne, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Detroit, I'd Go To This (Motor City Con)
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This (MeCAF)
* If I Were In Minneapolis, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Stockholm, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Myrtle Beach, I'd Go To This (XCon)
* f I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In San Jose, I'd Go To This (Big Wow)

May 23
* If I Were In Philly, I'd Go To This

May 24
* If I Were In Vancouver, I'd Go To This

May 25
* If I Were In Vancouver, I'd Go To This

May 30
* If I Were In Indianapolis, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Charlottesville, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

May 31
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)
* f I Were In Indianapolis, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Long Beach, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Hartford, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This

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Ongoing
* Edward Gorey at Loyola University in Chicago (Through June 15)

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This post is designed to list events through February 2014, including ongoing exhibits. If you don't see your event above, perhaps check out the future listings here. If it's not listed anywhere,

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Happy 37th Birthday, Max Riffner!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Michael Dowers!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Steve Schanes!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Mark McMurray!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Jim Ivey!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Martha Thomases!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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April 18, 2014


Go, Look: The Dungeon

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Go, Look: Swimming Lessons

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CBLDF: Bone Hits ALA Top Ten Most Challenged List For 2013

imageThe Comics Book Legal Defense Fund has a nice piece up here on an announcement earlier this week that Jeff Smith's all-ages fantasy Bone was through some bizarre set of cultural circumstances that demand our attention on the top 10 list of 2013's most challenged books. The aspects on which it was challenges are said to be, "political viewpoint, racism and violence." I think most comics fans familiar with the book -- most readers of all kinds familiar with the book -- would have a hard time pulling a racism thread from its pages. And if Smith has a political viewpoint except in the broadest sense, I've never been exposed to it through the works or outside of it. I guess there is some violence in there, but nothing that isn't routinely seen in other similarly-targeted works in a lot of media. The primary mode of confrontation in Bone is running away.

As that CBLDF piece notes, the trend seems to be towards works read by young people that might not fit squarely within the absolutely most rigid definition of what a very sensitive child might have been expected to read in 1923. This suggests a cultural argument is being made against some of these books rather than our seeing the accrual of independent challenges that just happen to settle on a specific kind of work. I asked Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein how many challenges this might represented, and he came back with a number over 300, which is astonishing to me. It should be alarming for all of us.
 
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Go, Look: Ten Stories Featuring Doll Man

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A Bit Of A Link-Up Catch-Up On Sexual Harassment Issues

The general comics culture conversation about sexual harassment issues has continued with a number of articles worth noting. The issue came to the forefront this week after the writer and editor Janelle Asselin's April 11 article criticizing a comic book cover drove a series of unplesant, severe reactions ranging from patronizing replies from fellow professionals to anonymous rape threats. As linked to a few times here earlier this week, the reaction Asselin received and her forthright confrontation of those responses led to a strong show of support and general pushback against those elements. It also led to some essay writing, most notably this post from Asselin, around which all commentary has since orbited.

Some of the newer and/or new-to-me pieces I've stumbled across:

* Asselin's follow-up post here should be read and considered if you're following this story in any way. Asselin also questions the course of the argument over the past week, and what was perhaps required for it to register with some folks, which I think is an important thing to track.

* Andy Khouri wrote a very well-received article here calling on men to police, question and raise objections to other men both making threats against female industry members and participating in an atmosphere that facilitates that kind of abominable behavior. Brett White wrote a similar article here. Several creators like Dylan Horrocks here took to social media to affirm such articles or to generally comment on the ideas presented in a "we have to stop right now" fashion. Here's a line-in-sand type post from Anne Scherbing concerning the rape threat element and the culture that allows such things.

* Lea Hernandez wrote a post here about the general cost of dealing with ten thousand gallons of dolloped bullshit of varying flavors and intensity just to function as a working professional. I think it's important to note that continuity, although there are no hard and fast rules in how we contextualize or choose not to when it comes to issues like these.

* Jill Pantozzi posits a theory here about what drives some of the contemptuous to demented responses to criticism of sexist or non-inclusive elements in comics art: that it will get the in the way of these books remaining masturbatory fodder for a subset of fans that count on that function. That's mean and funny and communicates. For me, however, that argument's primary value is to suggest a construction where the intensity of the reaction is a fear response: fear of being severed from that thing, fear chased by resentment that this denial of pleasure is deeply unfair.

I'm sure I missed some great ones.

I would also recommend that you take part in the sexual harassment essay mentioned. That's here.

I'm still processing and learning on these issues. I don't have a lot to add at this juncture. I'd be happier at this point running your commentary, I also hope I can re-publish on CR a blog post I liked from early this week, depending on whether I can come to an agreement with its author. If not, I'll run a link Monday and discuss it a bit. I don't want this issue to go away. I don't want it to be talked about until it no longers registers as important.

It's an overall positive and certainly the very least we can do not to countenance rape threats in any way, or any threats of violence. Further, that we have an obligation to refuse to tolerate such behavior or any of the flourishes of culture that might make that behavior less aberrant and abominable -- even if that's just in the hearts of minds of desperately messed-up people -- seems sound to me. That men may have a greater opportunity to combat certain aspects of this because of their exposure to less of it as a target and more of it as an enabler or nearby witness, that seems to me an idea worth exploiting to positive effect.

I hope for two additional things.

I hope there's a self-critical aspect to this. Correcting bad behavior and affecting cultural change requires asking hard questions of yourself. That may mean sussing out how you participate. That may mean figuring how you need to see things differently. That may mean coming to terms with what has taken you so long to make this a priority. I hope everyone that is writing about these issues in terms of broad principles will write a piece six months from now about applying those ideas in their day to day dealings. I hope to join you. We can't keep revisiting these things; we can't just keep making vows to do better; that's like constantly starting over with a new #1. Comics has made progress in recent months, I think. The expectation of safe-space policies at conventions seems a greater, more universal priority now. We also seem more comfortable taking these issues on when they flare up. We can do more.

I also hope that we'll be ambitious in terms of engaging and correcting any and all behavior that puts someone at a disadvantage based on factors like gender or race. When harassment issues roared up the Team Comics driveway as something to discuss last Fall, I argued a connection between a general lack of professional standards and the facilitation of a lot of rotten behavior. I still think that's true. I hope that maybe for a while we'll all reconsider being patronizing to a fellow community member. I hope we can curb lascivious or inappropriately intimate commentary in a professional setting. I hope we can get past assuming bad faith when someone is trying to do the right thing or at least a better thing. There's likely something we can all do to make things better, even if you never hear a rape joke or never find yourself standing over someone's shoulder as they type out a rape threat. I am very terrible at a lot of these things, and could stand to get a lot better, too. Let's get to work.
 
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Go, Look: Don't Let Fear Stop You From Traveling

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