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

March 24, 2008

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Jeet Heer writes about The Ten-Cent Plague for the Globe and Mail.

image* this post from Leigh Walton talks about webcartoonists offering t-shirts, and notes the lack of such offers from smaller comics publishers. Leigh is probably too young to remember 15 years ago when Fantagraphics was a t-shirt farm, their products even traveling back in time and into the fictional Earth Zemeckis to clothe Forrest Gump. It's my memory that it wasn't a profitable sideline for them. Maybe the economics of t-shirt making are different now when you don't have to make a bunch in advance of demand, or maybe webcartoonists have a different audience, I don't know. Chris Butcher mentions one way that a company might make t-shirts work: limited edition offerings.

* it's never too late to become a cartoonist.

* here's an interview, copiously illustrated, with Stan Lee about his new fumetti book, where he talks about his long-standing association with that form of comics. As I recall, Lee also tried to do this kind of thing as a syndicated feature at one point, but it was too difficult to get releases on celebrity photos. I'm going by memory on that one, though. Plus, Lee reveals while there's an exclamation point in POW! Entertainment.

* speaking of Lee, he'll be receiving an award at NYCC. It's good to see Lee travel East, there were some comments he made via a phone call to a panel months ago that indicated he might not be doing that a whole lot these days.

* the writer Paul Di Filippo writes about DC's Zuda initiative for

* both Alan David Doane and Valerie D'Orazio talk about bad comic shops, or elements thereof. I'm always a little confused by the whole idea of venting over bad comic book shops, perhaps because I frequently find bad comic shops useful but mostly, I think, because I don't take to heart their lousiness beyond it being a bad retail experience. Bad retail experiences are fairly common and not the end of the world, or at least they haven't been for me. A guy at Wendy's taking my order once threatened to beat me up for mumbling when I was 17 years old, my local music store sells 60 to 70 percent heavy metal because that's what the owner likes, my gourmet grocery doesn't carry harissa (despite its 38 varieties of Pocky) and overcharges for its spices. The guy behind the counter never even heard of harissa! What's he doing behind the counter of a gourmet grocer -- okay, you get the idea.

All that being said, when I dipped into the seething anger in the comments thread of this post over what are at least to me bizarre and ridiculous "issues" like the Susan Storm Skrull, a light went off in my head. The desire to create a community in something as inappropriate in a comic book store (or to judge such a place on the expectations of community) and the desire to create one on-line where the shared values and relevant items of discourse depend on superhero comic book ephemera -- these desires have to be related, and neither one is likely to be healthy for anyone involved, be they outraged, hurt, disappointed or legitimized by the outcome. Okay, I don't get an honorary PhD from Bowling Green's pop-culture department for that one, but I personally never thought of it that way before. It has to be possible to read, buy and talk about comics without investing every human transaction of that type with the drama and import of one's core self-worth. If nothing else, it bleeds attention away from things like systemic reform and advocacy according to higher, more ethical standards by cuffing almost every issue about the head and shoulders until it turns into one more referendum on "what happened to me."

* Jog compares work from Jack Chick to that of his frequent collaborator Fred Carter. Many comics artists of my acquaintance are fans of Fred Carter.
posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink

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