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

June 30, 2005

Ali Dilem Officially Appeals Verdict

This site out of Qatar is reporting that on Tuesday lawyers for cartoonist Ali Dilem officially appealed a sentence to six months in jail handed down by an Algerian court. The cartoon in question was commentary suggesting a lack of political support from army offices, and the decision was censured by internatonal organizations. n more hopeful news, and something I totally missed, Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart was on hand in Sacramento three weeks ago to receive the 2005 Annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning from the Cartoonists Rights Network for the fight he's undertaken against his country's prime minister over a cartoon depicting Mr. Erdogan as a cat. That cartoon appeared in the daily newspaper "Cumuriyet."
posted 9:55 am PST | Permalink

Rosemann, Lane: Out of Position

imageTwo comics-related position changes worth noting. First, Newsarama is reporting that Bill Rosemann will not be put into the Manager, Marketing Communications postion full time as recently announced. The original Rosemann announcement had surprised a few folks I talked to as Rosemann's respected industry veteran status didn't match what some thought would be a more drastic rebuild of the marketing side of DC's business. Second, Don Lane is retiring from United Features (pdf). Lane handled sales in the Northeast for the company, and will be replaced by the recently hired Jim Toler. Lane started in the Southeast, usually a syndicate's most difficult territory, before moving to the North, traditionally a syndicate's most important.

I'm fond of DC's new logo, and don't understand the fuss over it.
posted 9:26 am PST | Permalink

Scanlation Sites To Shut Down

Via comes this link to a message board of a scanlation site that looks to shut down after being threatened with legal action by one of the publshers. I thought it was cool to actually read the letter.The dicussion that follows ranges from the interesting question why some sites are pressured while others aren't, and the not-interesting complaint that companies should allow such distribution because it's good for them, which I always thought was sort of beside the point.
posted 9:17 am PST | Permalink

Jacques Kalaydjian 1925/1926-2005


Jacques Kalaydjian, a cartoonist who worked as "Jicka" and "JK" during a decades-long career in France mainstream and comics publications, passed away in late May. He was 80 years old. Kalaydjian published his first drawing in 1941, and from the years 1986 to 1995 drew seven albums in the Pied Nickeles series. Please click through the picture to afNews' bulletin, as I swiped their selection of cartoon.
posted 9:05 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Bilal to Casterman


Someone e-mailed me this message board thread that indicates an Enki Bilal move to Casterman involved more works than fans may have first believed it did, and that this could even potentially get in the way of continuing English translations of his work.
posted 8:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
One of "Cuban Five" to Exhibit Comics
Profile of "Rotten Girls"
Steve Lieber on Drawing "On Model"
Funky Winkerbean Returns to Afghanistan

June 29, 2005

Owen McCarron, -2005


The Canadian cartoonist and publisher Owen McCarron passed away Monday in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His "Fun and Games" newspaper concept was adopted by Marvel for a series of publicatons on which McCarron worked. He self-published under the company name Comic Book World, and appeared in Canadian newspapers as both a syndicated cartoonist and as a full-time employee. Mark Evanier's summation of McCarron's career can be found here, while the cartoonist's Lambiek entry can be found here. He was 76 years old.
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink

Grant Theorizes on Possible Mob-Hunting Aspect to Comics Hearings

imageSteven Grant's column for Comic Book Resources was at one point the only comics-related writing I read on the Internet, and today's installment floats an interesting assertion based on some personal research and sparked by his positive reading of Gerard Jones' comics history Men of Tomorrow: that there may possibly have been some desire by politicians -- particularly those who were in the midst of seeking national office -- to pursue organized crime connections through an investigation into comics publishing practices. (If I have that wrong, someone please correct me.) Makes sense to me as a political motivation, anyway, although I'm really deficient in my practical knowledge of the Kefauver and related hearings. Anyway, worth reading.

That's Senator Kefauver, caricatured.
posted 9:07 am PST | Permalink

Mother Goose & Grimm Hits Twenty

Mike Peters' strip gets the anniversary treatment with a new volume.
posted 9:03 am PST | Permalink

Steve Niles to Work With Image

This story about breakout mainstream comics horror writer Steve Niles is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Niles has been most strongly linked to IDW -- although I'm reminded he's done an enormous amount of work for Dark Horse as well. I don't imagine that setting up a studio to work with Image is any sort of referendum on either relationship. I suppose there's a chance that the fact Image is largely a consortium of self-publishers that pay a fee rather than a publisher working in percentages might play a role. If you already have a way of securing film and licensing deals, and that's your intention, you might get a much greater return working as a self-publisher than you would riding IDW's pipeline or making use of Dark Horse's established means for getting stuff into Hollywood, both of which involve sharing the money to be made. But that's a pretty severe and speculative "might."

Second, I think this is probably worth noting as another signpost on Image's slow re-emergence on the comics scene after a few years when the line projected a semi-deadly combinaton of tired founders' projects and various fantasy black and white non-starters. It's a harder task than you might think to turn around Image because of the way it's set up -- the amount of money that must be paid to carry the Image banner can hamstring slow-starting series, a problem in itself and also a public perception issue in that fans might stay away from new series.

Updated because I'm stupid and spaced on Niles' working relationship with Dark Horse and because I can't write today, darn it.
posted 8:50 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Profile of Seth at Art Gallery of Ontario
School Starts Manga Department; Folds In Classes
Genzo Offers Up Free Promotional Issue
Local Cartoonist Profile: Maurice Sanders
Local Cartoonist Profile: Patrick McDonnell
Then Who Were Those People I Met Last Year?

June 28, 2005

Breathed Sounds Off on Current Climate


While this Kansas newspaper article is one of those "we're changing the strips" pieces that typically accompanies new funnies whenever they appear, it's worth reading for the Berke Breathed quotes. Breathed's Opus hasn't been back for very long in newspaper syndicate time, but it clearly doesn't seem to be the Sunday savior that some people thought it might be. In this article, and I admit this might be reading between the lines, Breathed seems really dissatisfied with the specific problems of doing satire in this day and age, outright saying it can't be done because he'd lose all of his papers. He may be right, but even if he's wrong it's a glimpse into the pressures facing certain kinds of strips right now.
posted 9:17 am PST | Permalink

Wolinski Awarded Chevalier Honor

Georges Wolinski turns 71 today, and the esteemed humor magazine editor and forthcoming guest of honor at Angouleme 2006 celebrates this latest passing of the planet's orbit as a "Chevalier de la Legion D'Honneur." This article rightfully points out how odd it is that someone who fostered such aggressively satirical material can now be celebrated by roughly those same targets, but I would guess that time heals most wounds.
posted 9:15 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Moudakis Wins News Award


Toronto Star cartoonist Theo Moudakis won the 2004 National Newspaper Award for Editorial Cartooning in a ceremony held June 4 at the National Gallery in Ottawa. Runners-up were Andre-Philippe Cote at Quebec Le Soleil and Dale Cummings at Winnipeg Free Press. Click around and there's a pretty good feature story on Moudakis' move into his current position that I read last night and can't find this morning.

Winners get a check for $1500, and ten years ago I could have made a joke about the exchange rate.
posted 9:08 am PST | Permalink

Matt Fraction Spills Beans on HfH #9

imageAlthough "Panther's Rage" may be the story cycle most evocative of 1970s superhero comics, "Swordsman's hooker girlfriend becomes celestial Madonna and marries sentient plant" may be the best evidence of the madness just below the surface in even the most straightforward mainstream titles, and the original Omega the Unknown series may be the pinnacle of several writer-driven approaches by which the decade may be best known, Matt Fraction does indeed have it right that Hero for Hire #9, the "Collection in Latveria" issue, is almost certainly the single best window into what was going on in American mainstream comic books between Kirby leaving Marvel and John Byrne joining Chris Claremont on Uncanny X-Men.

Everybody should own one, and they make great stocking stuffers.
posted 8:54 am PST | Permalink

Gary Groth Bashes The Harveys

In his second blog entry at Fantagraphics' Flog!, that company's co-owner Gary Groth fairly beats on the Harveys, a comics award program he founded, now administered in sometimes needlessly mysterious fashion by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York. No one who officially reported on the awards seemed to come right out and say it, but I'm hearing from people that this year's Harveys were fairly horrible, with low attendance, spotty representation by nominees, and featuring a generally awkward, ill-conceived show. Groth's dismissal seems fairly typical of a loss of faith in the awards by interested professionals, a foundation that needs to be restored if the awards are to continue in the long term. I'm 70-30 they won't go another five years, with the 30 coming from the fact that comics people are awards crazy.
posted 8:47 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Blog Seeks Conservative Cartoonist
Yet Another Graphic Novels Chart
Yet Another Comics Delivery System
Headline of the Year
Old Person Remembers Comic Strips
Newbie Encounters Eisner, Plot
Not Comics: Cast of Amazing Screw-On Head

June 27, 2005

Cartoonists Fighting For Rights in Nepal


One of the issues we're tracking here is a worldwide assault on the editorial cartoon -- here in North America by a growing, casual intolerance for differing views and a capitalist straitjacket that sees controversy solely in terms of canceled subscriptions, and in a sweep of countries from Africa to Asia by overtly repressive laws and the threat of defamation lawsuits filed by government officials. It's nice, then, to read about cartoonists standing firm and becoming a rallying point against such measures, as with these Nepalese cartoonists. Note the scary phrase "military 'guest editor'".
posted 5:42 am PST | Permalink

Shinta Cho, 1928-2005

posted 5:31 am PST | Permalink

Political Cartoon Winner Plagiarized?



That's the winner on top and potential source copy below. The fine journalist Jeroen Mirck is on the story. This kind of thing fascinates me, because on the one hand, it's like "there you go" -- the cartoons look a lot alike. On the other hand, we're not talking about building a complex piece of art, and some imagery choices feel logical if not universal. Plus when you're writing gags with such frequency you can end up pulling the impression of an idea from somewhere while completely and honestly forgetting where you got it from, or you can believe you got it from a legitimate source -- something funny a friend said, perhaps -- and then later learn they swiped it from somewhere else. It's really tricky.
posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink

Like Christmas In June: It’s Yomiuri International Cartoon Contest Day


We kid for no reason other than the headline was too long. As two million yen is a shade over 18,000 USD, grand prize winner Lubomir Kotrha has the last laugh.
posted 5:18 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Foglio Moves Feature On-Line


This interview with cartoonist Phil Foglio shows how creatively some cartoonists have responded to the opportunities of different economic models in the last decade or so, particularly ever since the Direct Market has become so weak to support much of anything except the top 50 books. Such creativity isn't limited to comic book efforts -- Mark Anderson, one of the higher profile cartoonists on-line, is offering up a free cartoon package for weblogs and other sites as basically a unique advertising service for his talents. Neither model is terribly new, but it's been long enough since we've heard about them it's nice to remind ourselves how unsettled everything remains in terms of options like these.

Foglio art from Girl Genius
posted 5:13 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Lat Talks About Brazil, USA Deals
Peter Bagge As On-Line Harvey Kurtzman
Cathy, Web Site, Raise 25 Grand For Animals
More On Tokyopop/Uclick Deal
Visiting Cartoonist Profile: Neil Gaiman
Bob Kane Changed This Boy's Life

June 26, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Arguing with Heer and Worcester

imageI think I receive about a half-dozen comics-related books per year now; it takes a lot to make me actually devour one cover to cover. Although Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium may for some of us sound like death -- essays from America's public intellectuals about comics up through the early 1960s -- in actuality it may be one of the most lively and engaging books about comics to be released in quite a few years. If you've ever felt alone struggling with what comics really mean, or how we should look at entertainment and art, this book will connect you to a smart dialogue on those subjects stretching back decades. I talked to editors Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester about the volume and how it was put together.

So Where Do You Buy Used Manga?

imageMy friends and I were talking about comics this weekend, when the subject turned to where we are in the publishing cycles of American manga companies. With some titles going all the way through a licensing cycle, wouldn't it make sense that there would be a crush of less heavily sold manga out there that would be cheap? Is there somewhere out there I can go and pick up the early Harlem Beat volumes for $4 a book now? Where would I do this? If not, what is it about the manga market that means I can't?

I was excited to find this list, but it's almost three years old.

So does anyone out there buy manga used, and have .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for finding this stuff a few years behind the market's cutting edge?

Nat Gertler Responds
Nenad Vidovic Responds
Nathan B. Smith Responds
Robert Boyd Responds

Thank You For Putting Up With the Tip Drive

I'd like to thank all the regular readers who put up with last week's tip drive; and a quadruple thank-you to everyone who gave. I will issue a note to each of you as soon as possible, but I'm not sure yet if I should avoid looking at names to help keep some critical distance. Either way it works out, I greatly appreciate your patience and generosity, and I hope everyone enjoys the improvements this will make possible, improvements you should see throughout the summer.
posted 3:05 pm PST | Permalink

June 25, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, June 18 to June 24, 2005:

1. Panel of judges overturns Judge Charles Ramos' demand that a procedure be changed in the mediated Brian Hibbs/Marvel settlement, clearing the way for participating retailers to receive their credits by as early as mid-August; this case changed the way Marvel works with retailers.

2. Tom Toles freaks a bunch of folks out by making a cartoon that dramatically disagrees with his home newspaper's editorial stance.

3. Tokyopop's letting Sailor Moon manga license lapses, according to reports; early keystone title for company.

Winner of the Week
Jason Little, who escapes the unfair millstone of being in the ill-fated Doubleday graphic novels line with a deal for his next book at Little, Brown.

Loser of the Week
Alias Comics, with one stinkaroo of a line launch that still must reflect potential declines due to anger of retailers at the way that launch was mishandled.

Quote of the Week

stormtroopers filking
amid manga-eyed furries
Ah! San Diego

-- Greg Zura's San Diego Con Haiku

art from the recently passed Charlie Schlingo
posted 1:27 am PST | Permalink

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