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

November 30, 2004

Foundation Gives $150,000 to AAEC

The Herb Block Foundation created in the will of the late, legendary editorial cartoonist Herbert "Herbert" Block, recently made a substantial donation to The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) for educational outreach. The organization reports that its aims for the money include creating lesson plans that incorporates editorial cartoons, as well as a refurbished web site.

The news was no doubt welcome to the group, whose members have experienced a tumultuous year that has included some significant layoffs and relentless public criticism over the role of the newspaper cartoonist during an election campaign.

posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink

Another Day, Another European Prize Nomination for Craig Thompson

imageCraig Thompson and the Casterman version of Blankets is on the finalists list for a comics award called Le Grand Prix RTL de la BD, the winner of which will be named a some point today. The list was drawn from monthly nominees culled by a radio station (I hope I have that right) from various important french bookstores selling comics. The winner receives a ton of free advertising on that same radio station or group of stations (if my first guess wasn't right, this isn't likely, either).

List of nominees:
Blankets - Manteau de neige de Craig Thompson (Casterman)
Algernon Woodcock - Sept cœurs d'Arran de Gallie et Sorel (Delcourt)

Extreme Orient - tome 1. Li Fuzhi de Frank Bourgeron (Vents d'Ouest)

Rock Mastard - Echec a la Gestapo de Boucq (Le Lombard)

Lapinot - La vie comme elle vient de Lewis Trondheim (Dargaud)

Ou le regard ne porte pas d'Olivier Pont et Georges Abolin (Dargaud)

La ligne de front de Manu Larcenet (Dargaud)

Lincoln - tome 3. Playground d'Olivier, Jerome et Anne-Claire Jouvray (Paquet).

Blankets enjoyed a sizeable American audience and dominated major categories for which it was eligible at U.S. industry awards.

This has become a busy week for European comics awards. The announcement of the winner of the critic's award from the ACBD group is due December 1 and the first list of potential award recipients from Angouleme I believe will be announced December 2.
posted 7:16 am PST | Permalink

Rich Johnston en el fuego

Gossip columnist Rich Johnston had an extremely meaty week at his space on the commentary/news site Comic Book Resources, bringing the rumors regarding:
* Troubles at Dreamwave and AP Comics
* Spanish/Mainsteam US Publisher Licensing Trauma
* Projects cartoonist Jessica Abel plans I hadn't even heard of yet
Artist and comics company executive Jim Lee approves.
posted 7:03 am PST | Permalink

Blah Blah Blah

"As regards the laydays, Gabriel suggests the most important thing is that you simply be yourself, unless you are poor. Then, try to be someone who is richer and better looking, because you are kind of ugly. I am only speaking for myself, but I have had good success with traps." -- Uplifting romantic advice from Tycho of Gabe and Tycho fame, to a fan in their Slashdot interview.

image"I'm positive that things go on after, no matter what, in one form or another. You can go back to scratch and there's going to be something that will come up again. Whether it's going to be specifically our form or not is another story. I'm certain, based on history, that it keeps going on and on. I think that there's a decent chance we'll find ourselves extinct a lot sooner than I wish we would be, but the world goes on." -- Peter Kuper (The Jungle, left, previewed here at a readable size) to some idiot at Graphic Novel Review.

"Red Eye, Black Eye is pencilled to the sound of subway tracks, inked to shitty network reality TV, lettered to death metal, written to the sound of shaving in the shower." -- K. Thor Jensen to Al Schroeder at Comixpedia concerning his webcomic.
posted 6:48 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: “Junction Function”

A downloadable PDF of a piece by cartoonist Alison Bechdel on a recent Center for Cartoon Studies fundraiser featuring Art Spiegelman.
posted 6:42 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
How Comics Can Make You a Better Writer
Bang! Celebrates Two Years with Focus on Franquin
Admittedly, I Did Learn "Nascent" From Chris Claremont
Short Opinion Piece on Webcartoon Syndication
New Environmental Strip Launches
A Yogamurthy Wins Tamil Media Alliance Award
Artist Tom Raney Exclusive with Marvel
You Can Send a Man to the Moon, but You Can't Update Your Superhero Pages?
Early Mid-Ohio Con Reports: Here and Here

November 29, 2004

Craig Thompson Makes Finalist List for European Critics Award

imageIn conjunction with the BD Festival in Blois, the Casterman edition of Blankets by North American cartoonist Craig Thompson was named a finalist for the critics' award given by the Association des Critics et des Journalists de BD (ACBD).

According to the same news reports, the winner of the ACBD award will be announced on December 1.

Other works cited on the finalists' list were:
Le Combat Ordinaire, Les Quantites Negligeable by Manu Larcenet (Dargaud)

L'Autre Laideur, L'Autre Folie by Marc Male (Humanoides Associes)

Ou le Regard ne Porte Pas by Georges Abolin and Oliver Pont (Dargaud)

Le Tour De Valse by Denis Lapiere and Ruben Pellejero (Dupuis)

I believe this is the same award that in the past has gone to Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell and Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.

The English-language version of Thompson's work sold a number of copies at its relatively high price point and dominated 2004 American comics industry awards.

imageIn more important news unless you're a complete American-fixated bigot like it unfortunately seems I am, the great Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian were honored for the breadth of their creative partnership, now in its third decade. It was the first time the festival had honored an artistic pairing. The award they were given is called "Le Grand Boum 2004." Other awards as best as I can stumble through them were given to Chauvel, Alfred and Walter for their Octave et la Dorade Royale; Fabien Vehlmann; Christopher Gaultier, Bruno and Sylvain Ricard for Beyrouth Cliches 1990; Relome for the third Andy et Gina book; and Andre Cheret who seemed to get a slightly fancier award. But don't trust me; read it yourself.

The festival celebrated its 21st year this last weekend.
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

Con News: CCI, Mid-Ohio, Anime

The comics industry news and business analysis site ICv2. com is reporting that final figure for 2004's Comic-Con International in San Diego are at 87,000; I'm not sure where they're pulling the figures, but I swear this is roughly if not exactly what had been released earlier, although I guess that could have been in a suppositional form. Conventions have become an increasingly important publicity and deal-making forum for the various comics industries.

A first impression from Mid-Ohio Con indicates that perhaps the attendance of that longtime favorite regional convention has not increased as much as CCI's, while this Anime Con losing its space I thought was worth noting as it reminds me of the travails of early comic book conventions before the larger ones became more established and some of the more haphazardly-run ones started to fade out.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Generation Manga

imageThrough the Active Anime site comes two English-language articles I think worth a look, the former more than the latter. The first, complete with quotes from the appropriate persons at Los Angeles-based manga giant Tokyopop, makes an argument that manga has become a dominant medium of expression for Americans of a certain age right down to the way they would choose to draw a human face (or the hair on top of it). The second suggests a bit of the weirdness in which some American fans stew where manga and anime are the main ingredients, which I throw in because it seems even weirder to me not knowing much about these fan communities.

Also, thanks to Mr. Melrose for the kick in the pants reminding me I now have a highly appropriate place to link to this article from the comics-friendly literary-focused sex site that describes differences in approach to yaoi (defined here) between Japanese and American authors/publishers/fans.
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

Rights Concerning Copyrights

From the unexpected resource department comes word the webcomics-focused site Comixpedia offers up a pair of article on copyrights as they related to comics: a US Government document, and a more Internet-focused one from a Brad Templeton. This kind of research is always welcome, and kudos to Comixpedia for making it part of one of their content updates.
posted 7:42 am PST | Permalink

Mike Allred on Golden Plates, X-Statix

imageThis is a standard cartoonist profile of Mike Allred driven by the recent, heavily covered Golden Plates effort and its initial indications of success. What I found interesting here was a bit on comic shops stocking that volume and Allred's take on some creative troubles with his last high-profile gig, providing art for Marvel's X-Statix. I do think he spoke about it publicly at the time, but what I'm really entertained by is how the article covers both.
posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink

Passings: Anwar Ali, Robert Rouyet

There were two interesting comics-related deaths over the last week, one of which I nearly missed. Anwar Ali, the cartoonist behind "Nanna" and an important figure in modern Punjab-language literature for his short stories, passed away on Sunday. One of his surviving children is the painter Dr. Ajaz/Ijaz Anwar.

Belgian comics critic Robert Rouyet passed away last Wednesday evening at age 59. He was a writer and editor for Le Soir who wrote and facilitated some of the first important articles on major French-language cartoonists and publishers.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Via Mr. Gaiman, Via Mr. McCloud: Get a Job
Marjane Satrapi to BBC: No Persepolis 3
Word in Doonesbury Sends Ripples Through Modesto
Child's Play Announces Charity Dinner in NW
Ian Sansom Recalls Love and Rockets Through Locas
Marc Mason Wants to Give You Comics
Ninth Art's Parker Talks about Arkansas Display Case
OV Vijayan wins Mathrubhumi Literary Award
Aftermath's First Superhero Title "Sells out"
Andrew Arnold Lauds Anthologies

November 28, 2004

CR Sunday Magazine


It's that time of year again: the holidays, with its family acrimony, drunken encounters with co-workers and college students returning home to do nothing but watch cable TV and sulk for 26 hours in a row.

For comics fans, the end of the year is list-making time, and not in that nice gift-giving way, either. CR is going to kick off several weeks of talking about great comics today with a look at a forthcoming Publisher's Weekly list in Notes on PW 2004 Graphic Novels List and a project whereby I put numbers where my mouth is with Ultimate The Comics Reporter's Top 100 Comics Works of the 20th Century List -- With Rankings.

If you're looking for a holiday gift for me, oh please won't you read one of these two articles and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for publication?

Art from Harlem as Seen by Hirschfeld, #92 on the new CR list
posted 12:26 pm PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

Profile of Ben Jones (2004)
Review of Comics from Souther Salazar (2003)
Profile of Christopher Forgues, aka C.F. (2004)
posted 11:38 am PST | Permalink

November 27, 2004

CR Week In Review

Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, November 20 to November 26, 2004:

image1. MV Creations, Studio Behind Recent He-Man Comic Books and Owed Money by CrossGen Entertainment, Makes Appeal to Fans to Erase $140,000 Debt, $82,000 of it to Freelancers. (that's their chart at left)

2. Scheherazade Anthology Printing Controversy Puts Editor and Publisher at Odds.

3. Report of Marketing Department Changes at Tokyopop, as Industry Grapples with Implications of Backlist Gains.

Winner of the Week
Cartoonist Mike Allred, whose Golden Plates project launched well, news of which triggered another round of media coverage.

Losers of the Week
Editorial cartoonists, dealing with the fallout from two stories late in last week's cycle: the accusation that some cartoonists depict Condoleeza Rice in a racist fashion, and Ted Rall's dismissal from

Quote of the Week
"Comics, as much attention as they're getting now, is still a terrible way to make a living." -- Cartoonist and screenwriter Daniel Clowes.
posted 4:27 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

A Little Pile of Marvel Comics, 2001-2004
Perfect Man
Temporary #1
Mildred Lee, Space Station Schoolgirl
posted 4:23 am PST | Permalink

November 26, 2004

Ho, Ho, Ho Boy, I Hate the Mall

With a thousand crappy recordings of Ice-T and Darth Vader waking up fired-up shoppers and my fraternity brothers this fine November morning, the American holiday buying season has formally entered its economy defining stretch run.

Everyone with a half-interest in comics is going to throw names and titles of graphic novels and collections at you for consideration this upcoming Christmas shopping season. We do that, and a little more, in the Comics Reporter's Black Friday and Beyond Shopping Guide for Sophisticated Comics Fans... now purposefully de-linked to anything of potential profit to ensure your holiday trust.
posted 9:41 am PST | Permalink

Scheherazade Anthology In Dispute

image In a still-developing story I'm sorting out over the next few days for a piece in The Comics Journal, cartoonist Megan Kelso recently went public with a series of difficulties she endured during the printing of female cartoonists' anthology Scheherazade, problems that resulted in a book she felt that was not up to a standard at which she could support the project.

image According to statements made by publisher Ricard Nash of Soft Skull Press on the message board The Comics Journal, the first, faulty printing by Maple-Vail in New York will be released to certain retail markets only, and a corrected edition satisfactorily in-line with what Kelso and other contributors originally imagined will be distributed to Last Gasp, Diamond and Cold Cut after being funded by that first printing.

Several factors remain in dispute. For example, while the publisher claims that the financial costs were too severe to have the print run destroyed, Kelso says she made an offer to buy out the print run to have it destroyed.

Above: What Kelso wanted (top); what was printed
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

Allred Sells 12,000 of Golden Plates Book

imageI've only been linking to the stories of Mike Allred's Mormon book roll-out rather than discussing them under their own headlines because I think an artist working a very specific book market, even if based out of personal conviction, is more a news story when it's announced than during every stage of the publicity campaign. I'm dying to read this and engage it in a critical sense, that's for sure.

Sales numbers are different than release-date profiles, and I hadn't seen a figure attached to this yet. So it gets an locational upgrade here in the morning brief. The number sounds strong to me, although not terrifyingly huge given the media attention and uniqueness of the project.
posted 7:56 am PST | Permalink

Marvel and Sally Corp. Announce Deal

By itself, Marvel Enterprises signing a deal with a ride manufacturer isn't that big of a deal. I want to keep noting Marvel's agreements of this sort because I think it's significant how smartly the company is playing to these very specific niches. The ability to secure such deals on a regular basis marks a real change from the company's even successful periods in the past.
posted 7:54 am PST | Permalink

Sakka Imprint Highlights


I stumbled across this article through one of the French-language comics sites. It spotlights Casterman's Sakka imprint (sakka means roughly "auteur"), featuring what the company's marketing people would probably prefer you to call "the other manga," meaning those works which more closely resemble seriously-intended art as we're used to see it in film or in prose.

I get kind of lost in the piece because it speaks about the imprint as if it's brand new, and I believe it's been publishing through most of this year at least. At any rate, something like this is worth checking out as it could be the realistic precursor to a similar effort by an English-language arts comics company -- those companies seem not only generally unfamiliar with most of that kind of manga but may look to share production costs with a European publisher, just as they have done with other translated comics.

From Sakka's Kinderbook, by Ken Takahama
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Cuba's Bishops Evangelize With Comics
Conservatives Continue to Hit Rice Depictions Issue
Local Cartoonist Profile: Loh Kinsun
2005 ATTAC Calendar Features Baudoin, Alagbe, Others
Roz Chast is Obsessed with Pysanka


November 25, 2004

The Beat: Brada-Thompson, Powers Leave Tokyopop Marketing

Buried deep with Heidi MacDonald's blog/news site "The Beat" is this nugget: she reports that Marketing Commuications Manager Kristien Brada-Thompson and Vice President of Marketing John Powers are leaving Tokyopop's marketing department (the item is unclear as to whether either person is leaving the company entirely).

Brada-Thompson was a pleasant and professional point person for many within the media struggling to come to terms with the American manga juggernaut. She was good with the comics market aspects as well, and may have been one of two people, along with Stuart Levy, most comics publishing people could name as actually working at the company. Powers was a high-profile corporate hire that came to work for Tokyopop about 18 months ago.

Tokyopop has been fluid as far as hires and fires go through their rapid growth period, which I think will benefit them as a company as they can pretty much pick and choose to suit their needs. Also, unlike other publishers, the Tokyopop public relations and marketing team doesn't consist of one person and a closely guarded rolodex: Ms. MacDonald says that Susan Hale will assume Brada-Thompson's position. Hale, if I remember my article scanning on Tokyopop correctly, is the one that was responsible for dealing with niche manga publications, including on-line sources.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Rosinski on Polish Comics


I found this brief interview with Thorgal artist Grzegorz Rosinski compelling for a single question and response about comics in the artist's native Poland. If I'm reading correctly, the illustrator seemed to feel that while Poland joining the European Union in May of this year might give some artists a greater opportunity to launch careers in the French-language comics market, he expects that cartooning as a social act will lose a great deal of its meaning and that rampant capitalism will perhaps have an unfortunate impact on his fellow Poles.

Comics fans in general might be more interested in Rosinski's thoughts about what it's like to bring the popular Thorgal series to a close, as previously announced.
posted 7:07 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Profile of Dan Clowes

I usually don't go in for these kind of profile-y pieces on comics figures in the movies now, but I found this one about Dan Clowes by Scott Thill, suggested to me by Michael Drivas of Big Brain Comics, to be smarter than one usually expects, particularly when it comes to its brief exploration of the work.
"The anti-humanism of superior power, and its abuses, is best exemplified by Andy's Death Ray and Louie's scheme to start fights with potential brutes. 'What good is having a friend with super strength if you can't even find some bullies to beat up,' he whines after one unsuccessful conflict where the bullies don't take his bait. It is those kinds of clashes between superhero reality and fantasy that makes Andy and Louie's story so tragic."

Clowes is quoted liberally as well.
posted 6:54 am PST | Permalink

Not Exactly Comics: Fort Thunder Rebuilt?

Writer Tim O'Neil writes in to point out that the new issue of Spin Magazine contains an article that may be of at least oblique interest to fans of cutting-edge art comics:
"... I'm plodding my way through and suddenly I realize that I'm reading an article about Fort Thunder. I read so many music magazines I must admit I absorb most of the articles on autopilot. This was an article about the up-and-coming noise punk scene, and they were discussing a band named Lightning Bolt... which features members named Chippendale and Brinkman (alarm bells should have gone off then but I had my Music hat on and not my Comics hat on) and then they start talking about how they rebuilt the "fabled Fort Thunder" living space in a loft in Providence and they use it for recording their material... I just about blew a gasket because I'll be damned if these two parts of my life ever intersect. It's freaky when they do."

posted 6:49 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Mark Anderson Celebrates Thanksgiving with Gags
Diamond/Alternative "Upgrade" Relationship
James Romberger Cartoon On Bush Country
Montreal Prepares for Best Expozine Ever

November 24, 2004

MV Creations Makes Appeal to Fans

imageFrom the comic book news and commentary site Comic Book Resources comes the sad but not particularly heartbreaking story of MV Creations. The comic book studio has enjoyed a series of business reversals that sounds like one of those black-and-white bust indy publishing sob stories.

The group behind the latest round of He-Man comics moved from a largely underperforming Image Comics to a barely-paying-anyone and eventually bankrupt CrossGen Entertainment, then ran afoul of its primary license partner, then tried what sounds like a pretty underwhelming switch in business emphasis, and now is asking for donations and direct purchases in the hopes of raising $82,000 to fully pay back creators. Adding to the strangeness of the story, MVC's predicament is related to CBR in a relentless, jaunty, and slightly dotty -- does adding Dragon's Lair to He-Man really count as movement? -- style that recalls a discussion over cocktails you end by inventing a spouse waiting in the car. Still, lots of details.

According to the very cute fundraising thermometer, almost $10,000 has been raised thus far, which means at least the rent has been paid.
posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink

Preferred Creator Changes at Dreamwave; Information Purge Sought?

I'm not sure this isn't one of those "three dudes on a computer" incidents instead of a full-blown news story with thought put into it and actual consequences, but reading this commentary on this rather lengthy story, it seems as if one of the newer independent studio companies, Dreamwave Productions, has severe control issues. If it's possible to demand that public statements made by me be turned over to the offended party as their property, I may have to start a site about cheese.
posted 6:46 am PST | Permalink

Franklin Fibbs Does Press Rounds


This article on newish King Features comic strip Franklin Fibbs is the kind of press "get" typical for the few months preceding and directly after a syndication launch, particularly when there's a local angle to be mined. Although the major roll out several strips in a calendary year, I find Fibbs' press play interesting because it's based on essentially a creative concept ("what we do is unique") rather than a marketing directive ("Soccer coaches: 'Penalty Kicks' is for you!") Also King Features head comics guy Jay Kennedy really loads on the superlatives in the Fibbs features section on the KFS site, where you can also check out the work itself.

I haven't seen too much of the strip, but that Fibbs' anecdotal style obviously allows for a lot of information to be packed into a single day's work, which should make it very different in feel.
posted 6:24 am PST | Permalink

Keenspot Blog Unpacks Syndication Particulars For Those Looking

From the scattered and of probably limited interest to just-readers department, the good folks at Comixpedia have noted that the print syndicate effort of Webcomics site Keenspot has its own blog, from which you can mine various informational nuggets about how the program is progressing. I find it interesting, for example, to read about their uploading and review process, an area where the esablished syndicates perform very well and yet a a place I think Keenspot could potentially enjoy an advantage.
posted 6:09 am PST | Permalink

Straggler Essay on Gaiman/Sim Up Now

imageVia Neil Gaiman's on-line journal comes word that the final Dave Sim essay, from a series put up as a supplement to a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) print offering, had been outed as AWOL, found and put back into its proper place. At the very least, it's a curious snapshot of where the industry was in 1986, and affirms significant parts of Sim's career as a potential model for other working or soon-to-be-working artists. For one thing, the tour predates the more widely credited Image Comics creator tours by five years and change.

posted 5:58 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Viz Names New Director of Sales
(SR) Hogarth Strip Proof Early Pro-Animal Stance
Viz Adds a Few More Titles in March
Profile of Oregon Strip Culturepulp
Darby Conley Can Out-Cartoon You With Only One Arm
Yet Another Brian Walker Profile
Profile of Alan Moir
afNews: Magazine on Undergrounds Returns
SupremeAnime Site Launches, Although Not For Me

November 23, 2004

Lynn Johnston on Tour: Frank Talk About Process and Retirement

imageIt's old news that cartoonist Lynn Johnston plans to retire her For Better or For Worse strip sometime in the next few dozen months (most strip people I know suspect roughly three years, when the cartoonist turns 60, although I've heard other guesses at a earlier date).

Still, I found this at-first-glance fairly standard Toronto Star profile (that also goes with the three-year theory) brimming with really good color in the form of a lot of interesting quotes about Johnston's personal writing resources, her relationship with Charles Schulz, and her recent battles with an awful-sounding illness called Dystonia.
posted 8:09 am PST | Permalink

Award to Manu Larcenet

imageIf I'm reading this correctly, the cartoonist Manu Larcenet and his book Le Combat Ordinaire 2 were cited by some sort of ecumenical council that juries an award for comic albums, even the hint of an ecumenical group giving out awards to comics being example 2463 in the long proving line of "How comics are different in Europe." It looks like a few other albums may have been singled out as well, although I'm less clear on those. For some reason, it's easier for me to read these things without the computer translation, although some of you might have more luck with the appropriate keystroke.

Larcenet may be familiar to North America comics audiences as the artist on NBM's Astronauts of the Future, with Lewis Trondheim writing.

Speaking of things I can't read but sound interesting, I believe afNews was telling me today that I can download and issue of an Argentine Comics Magazine by going here.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jack Kirby Interview


Via the mighty Mark Evanier and his on-line juggernaut News From Me comes this link to clips of an interview with the great comic book artist Jack Kirby.

It occurs to me this may be the first time I've posted something solely to a member of my family, as I imagine everyone else already saw this at Mark's place.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Franzen on Peanuts

imageJonathan Franzen's essay on Peanuts and his own household's turmoil in the 1960s fails to come together into a piece more significant than the sum of its paragraphs, but some of those paragraphs are well worth a read. I particularly like his description of reading newspaper comics back when towns typically had two papers (was Peanuts always in a paper with otherwise crummy strips, or is that just my imagination?), and his attraction to the character Snoopy over Charlie Brown.
posted 7:59 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Interview with Gen Fukunaga

This is only for the industry wonks out there, or those (like me) scrambling to undertand manga. The second part of's interview with Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga yields an interesting insight or two into the role manga plays in terms of fostering talent and developing properties. An example:
"They have thousands of creative people generating manga. They just sit in their garage. You can be a fifteen-year-old kid in your garage and create a manga and submit it to Shogakukan, it gets printed because everybody thinks it's cool, and it gets national exposure. Just like that you can get national exposure. Since they can test thousands of these manga before they decide which ones are good, those thousands are published and put through that filtering system."

Good "store in the back of one's mind" material. If you feel you need to start with the first part of the interview and work your way forward, well, I certainly forgive you.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Dabel Brothers Productions to Diamond Books
More on Highwater from Newsarama
Via Melrose: Brits Rejoice About '05 DC/IPC Comics
Motley Fool on Marvel Suit against Computer Game

November 22, 2004

(Slightly) More on Ted Rall and

imageI mentioned in passing late last week that the editorial cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall had been dropped by the Washington Post's on-line service, and that he gave Dave Astor at Editor & Publisher a statement that he believed this was for a very specific cartoon (partly printed right) that showed insensitivity to the developmentally disabled.

A summary of the issues involved are here. Reaction from comic book fans, many of whom dislike Rall, can be found here and by looking around in the first forum here. You can also find pretty easily an example of the blog entries that almost certainly helped kicked off the mini-campaign against the cartoonist that preceded his work being dropped.

I thought this was the most interesting piece because it had the Post's acknowledgement that some of the complainants might not be genuinely reacting to something they discovered on their own, and it seemed to call into question a standard policy of simply allowing editorial cartoonists to augment content on web site's through a blind feed.

I'm not printing the full cartoon out of deference to those who pay Rall to carry his work; all the usual pleas to read the full work in question apply.
posted 7:58 am PST | Permalink Tokyopop Backlist Gains

According to the industry analysis site, manga publisher Tokyopop outstripped North America comic book giant Marvel Comics in October's unit market share of backlist sales, those books which are not absolutely brand new but provide a comic shop with a good, full stock of comics product in the same manner as a bookstore.

imageIt's an interesting thing to note, and definitely news, but some feel the ultimate level of its significance is debatable. Kevin Melrose mentions poo-poohing the effect of anime sales as they might distort the final number. I still wonder if there aren't still other factors at work: the relatively recent signing of Tokyopop to preferred distributor Diamond its comic shop service, the relative newness of the manga market for many shops, the calm before Marvel's 2005 trade storm indicating a relative lack of backlist (DC is still, after all, number one, without Tokyopop or Viz's total backlist), and even what some have called a tiny hiccup in super hot brand new anime driving readers towards the standard hits for the moment.

Not that the figures aren't pretty alarming all by themselves...

Cover from a popular Tokyopop title.
posted 7:47 am PST | Permalink

Other Get Fuzzy Omission Explained

Several CR readers wrote in saying they noticed Get Fuzzy's absence last week for a joke regarding a lot of implied cursing. This article reveals the other missing strip on another day last week: a reference to Jesus in an appropriation of the Beatles' "Bigger than Jesus" wisecrack.
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink

O’Brien at Ninth Art: Re-Launches Rarely Work, Barely Matter

Here's advice shared by educators, television show writers and strip cartoonists: If you have new information to share, you generally have to say it several times before it sinks in. That's why I'm fond of today's article on mainstream comic book series re-launches (starting a series over with roughly the same title and a new #1 issue) at Ninth Art by Paul O'Brien. It not only pokes hole in the idea that something can be put away and brought back in today's market, O'Brien's piece underlines the increasing futility of goosing mainstream comic sales in general. The numbers involved today can be pretty shocking, particularly on the lower end, and should inform every discussion of mainstream American comic books; O'Brien, I think, realizes this, and rants accordingly.

Chris Ekman's piece on newspaper strips and politics is a bit less focused, but contains similar hard truths about the decline in that facet of the medium.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

Chopra, Kapur Team Up for Press Hook

imageThe New York Times has run one of those feature-y news articles (subscription required) on self-help guru Deepak Chopra and director Shekhar Kapur backing a business bringing comics to India, including maybe the feature article darling of the last half-year: Pavitr Prabhakar, an Indian audience version of Spider-Man (left).

The Times article is one of those pieces that doesn't really say much more than "Here we are and here's what we're doing" in the broadest terms possible. Another piece summarizing the same effort seemed to give a more useful breakdown of the numbers and markets involved, which should give you an idea of what's potentially at stake.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

Big Week in River Junction

To follow up on last week's news that James Sturm's The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) was upgrading its fundraising activities and had received a $150,000 commitment from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird: here is the formal press release, which includes speculation on where the money will go, and a chatty article about last week's fundraising events. Here's hoping there are enough of these in the future that they are no longer news.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Man in Orange T-Shirt Alert

imageThese things usually go play to movie, don't they? After raking in a surprising amount in worldwide box office (almost $200 million), a Jim Davis-penned Garfield Christmas play is being mounted on the East Coast.

What's potentially interesting about this is (1) Davis sounds slightly more hands-on here, which makes sense considering he once may have been better known in his local community as someone involved with the downtown Civic Theater than as a cartoonist, and (2) Cartoonists seem to love the stage, maybe because of the success of Annie, Li'l Abner, and the two Charles Schulz-related stage efforts. I once heard that Mort Walker financed his own play production of Beetle Bailey just for the pleasure of seeing it live, although I don't know if that's true.
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Preservation Company Talks About Process
Cartoonist Compared to Athlete With Same Name
Chiba Tetsuya Visits UNLV
The Post Explains all Those Exclamation Points
Local Cartoonist Profile: The Gilberts
Aussie Politician Shows Off Cartoon Collection Runs Tokyopop Content-based PR
BD Magazine Launches: Marini, Willingham, Blutch, Wood
(SR) Review of Stan Mack's Latest
As Usual, New Manga Titles Listed Up Top

November 21, 2004

CR Sunday Magazine

imageWhen a publisher closes its doors, it's not like somebody dies. It's business, and some companies simply don't do as well as others. A small art-comics company was never anyone's livelihood, to be sure, and with trade paperback business on an upswing, it's an outstanding time for the creators to become free agents and have a project or two to bring to the table. Right?

Well... maybe.

"Highwater Books -- An Appreciation" is my first shot at coming to terms with what made that company more significant than the sum of its backlist, and why entities like Tom Devlin's late arts comics house are unique enough within the comics framework we should maybe mark their passing as something more than the re-assertion of economic reality.

Cover to Highwater Books release Odds Off by Matt Madden.
posted 1:41 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Dylan Meconis and Hope Larson

I don't know who sent me the link to this web-bound short story/mini-comic from Hope Larson, a 22-year-old artist living in Toronto (according to her web site), and the even-younger Dylan Meconis, a student at Wesleyan (according to her web site), but I owe them a thank you. I think this is effective, well-presented work, particularly for a pair of young artists. I look forward to seeing what each does in the future.
posted 10:53 am PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

William Steig 1907-2003 (2003)
Pierce Rice 1916-2003 (2003)
Bill Woggon 1911-2003 (2003)
posted 9:06 am PST | Permalink

November 20, 2004

CR Week In Review

Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, November 13 to November 19, 2004:

image1. Highwater Books' Tom Devlin Announces Demise of the Highly Regarded Arts Comic Publishing House.
2. Good Week for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: Hits Fundraising Mark; Win in Arkansas Ruling.
3. Disney Announces Plans for CrossGen Line, Ending That Company's Odyssey and Raising New Questions About Big-Money Interest in Comic Books

imageWinners of the Week
Writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Ploog, respected industry veterans who went from having to fight an ugly battle with a company in bankruptcy over whether or not a contract was satisfied to re-launching their Abadazad project with the power of the Disney companies behind it.

Losers of the Week
Lawyers for the Burne Hogarth Estate, recipients of an unfavorable ruling and characterization about the nature of their litigation against Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Quote of the Week

-- Writer Warren Ellis' projected dialogue for "Ultimate Banshee," in the midst of yet another discussion about another discussion concerning revamped mainstream superhero characters, at Fanboy Rampage.
posted 8:24 am PST | Permalink

November 19, 2004

CBLDF Claims Big Win in Arkansas

imageThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring Free Speech rights for those operating within the North American comics industry, is claiming a victory in an Arkansas ruling about display law. Here's the heart of the press release
"Based on the response from the Supreme Court, the judge found the display provisions 'facially unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution because such provisions are overbroad and impose unconstitutional prior restraint on the availability and display of constitutionally protected, non-obscene materials to both adults and older minors.'"

The response cited refers to an earlier set of instructions that set the stage for this ruling. This seems on first glance a much cleaner win than a recent Michigan ruling that seemed to bring encouraging news to the CBLDF through standards set out in the decision as opposed to the decision itself.
posted 9:01 am PST | Permalink

Cowafunda—Laird Donates to CCS

imageThe Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS), a comics-based art school to open in Fall 2005 in River Junction, Vermont, announced a $150,000 gift to the school from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird through his Xeric Foundation, an organization best known to comics fans for its twice-annual awards that allow cartoonists to self-publish.

I suppose I could just cut and paste the press release, but instead you should read it here and then poke around the web site proper.

James Sturm, an award-winning cartoonist and active comics art educator, is the Center's founder and prime mover. I believe this is the largest donation the school has received from a comics-related source, and the second big industry name to come on board in a significant financial sense since Jean Schulz.
posted 8:49 am PST | Permalink

Cartoons Out to Get Rice?


Conservative-leaning media organizations and personalities are beating the drums of accusation in claiming that cartoons have depicted soon-to-be Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in racist fashion. At the heart of their complaints are appropriations of stereotypical ungrammatical black speech and parodies that involve making the current National Security Adviser into an animal of some sort. The general thrust behind the anti-Rice cartoons that are being denounced seem to be that Rice has a "pleasing the parent" complex that makes her too eager to agree with President Bush.

My gut reaction is that the racial stereotypes thing is a step too far and the animal comparison bit is a standard tool in the editorial cartoonist arsenal. Whether or not this becomes a wider issue will depend to a large extent on how influential direct conservative punditry is on the mainstream news, and whether anyone still gives a crap about editorial cartoons.

I also have a sense that political attacks on specific editorial cartoons and comic strips may be felt intensely for a while as public mood seems to sway towards a firm demand for "balance" in all news media.

In other political news, Ted Rall was dropped from, and he's not happy about it.
posted 8:40 am PST | Permalink

Blah Blah Blah

"I would like to see all my stories be published. I'd like to see me work on more serious stories. I'd like to see my comics made into major motion pictures. I'd like to see thousands upon thousands of adoring fans line up for my next project. I'd like to see young beautiful girls with oversized, supple yet firm breasts wearing those low rider jeans so you can see their little bellies offer me sexual favors." -- Cartoonist Tony Consiglio to Jeff Zwirek on his goals.

"Now, I'm not sure. I'm not sure if I got $7 a page or $10. Most likely it was $7 a page. And it went up to ten. I'm not sure. Pencils lettering boxes, everything, from beginning to end." -- Harry Lampert, co-creator of the Flash, to Mark Evanier on his pay for that assignment in a tape of a 2000 convention panel made available by Mike Catron (don't hold me to that exact transcription).

image"As with other creative professions, there are a thousand would-be cartoonists for every working cartoonist, but editors can see how good a cartoon is at a glance, while a producer or editor has to invest a good deal of time deciding whether a performing artist or writer is right for the job. Everyone is willing to glance at a few cartoons and judge them instantly. So, if a cartoonist is good, it is easy for him to break in. If a cartoonist is bad, he won't fool anybody into hiring him and will complain about how hard it is to break in." -- Editorial Cartoonist Daryl Cagle to Noah Hoffenberg on breaking in.

"You mean like 'Dysfunctional Family Circus?' I don't mind them at all. I like the fact that they think it's worthwhile to lampoon. It's sort of flattering." -- Family Circus creator Bil Keane to Jennifer Garza on being parodied.

"It's interesting, I'm working on a graphic novel right now based on The Baby-sitters Club series, by Ann M. Martin. I've just re-read a bunch of the books, and in doing so I realized just how much I had been influenced by her writing, as far as the way I develop and describe characters, the way I write action, the way I write dialogue." -- Cartoonist and Scholastic Books signee Raina Telgemeier to Comixpedia on her influences.
posted 8:28 am PST | Permalink

Steve Roper, Mike Nomad and Oblivion


I'm glad someone finally mentioned this where I could link to it: Steve Roper and Mike Nomad have until the day after Christmas 2004 to get their affairs in order and solve any dangling cases.

The long-running feature is probably best known for transforming itself when popular supporting characters began to move to the center of the strip. Not just Roper and Nomad -- the strip had earlier been fronted by Big Chief Wahoo, who took it over from The Great Gusto, making for perhaps the oddest pedigree in newspaper comics history.

Others may know the strip for the work of the criminally underappreciated William Overgard, who in keeping with the spirit of his strip's many changes eventually quit the gig to do a feature about a talking gorilla named Rudy.
posted 8:18 am PST | Permalink

Get Fuzzy Talks a Lot of ****

I can certainly use curse words like "shit," but newspaper strip cartoonists generally can't, which is why some people made notice of Thursday's Get Fuzzy offering and anticipate a storm of broken hips as America's elderly leap to their mailboxes with scornful letters-to-the-editor in hand.

On the one hand, this kind of thing tends to paint comics in general as a big pain in the butt in the eyes of some already grumpy, cost-cutting newspaper editors. On the other hand, Conley is probably the breakout newspaper strip star of the last half-decade, so it's difficult to question his instincts as to what people will allow him to do in his feature.

posted 8:14 am PST | Permalink

The Marjane Satrapi of the Canadian Timber Industry

imageAll hail Bus Griffiths, the creator of Now You're Logging, surely the finest graphic novel about logging ever published. As this profile attests, he remains hearty and opinionated at 91.

Griffiths' achievement is worth noting because I can't imagine anyone a generation beyond Griffiths' likely to have the combination of life experience, necessary skills and most importantly a natural orientation towards comics to create a book like this -- a similar effort would now much more likely be a short film or even a webcomic. Now You're Logging has been compared to a Western, which is appropriate in that the United States equivalent to Griffith is probably the cowboy cartoonist, another vanishing breed.

posted 8:06 am PST | Permalink

Brian Hibbs on One Store’s Ordering Policies For the Rest of Us

Prominent comic book retailer Brian Hibbs writes in a matter-of-fact fashion about a book's chances of being ordered from the part of the monthly catalog that isn't filled with fancy ads and exclusives.

I agree with pretty much everything Brian says about those points where our experiences and observations overlap -- I don't own a comic store, so there are limits -- including the notion that the distribution magazine Previews generally has a really low threshold for participation.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Brian Walker Ready to Go with Second Comics Book
CBLDF: Fiddler's Green Sets Fundraising Record
Dog Complex Creator Explains U-Comics Contract
Semi-Lengthy Profile of Quino
Webcartoonists Love Their Freedom
Was "78 Cents Or I Piss On Your Flowers" Taken?
Rewards of French Comics Market Skewed Towards Top

November 18, 2004

Reaction to Highwater Books’ End

imageYesterday's news that the highly regarded art comics publisher Highwater Books was ending operations met with a small voicing of disappointment in arts comics circles, and mention on a few web sites that admirably include smaller publishers as part of their coverage cycle.

This site received a few queries as to why there wasn't a bigger fuss made. I would guess it's a combination of things: Highwater's erratic publishing schedule means little in the way of separation shock, most art comics fans are confident -- perhaps with little cause -- that Highwater's projects will quickly find a new home, and the nature of comics industry news is that the next story is often the most important one.

Me, I'm sad.
posted 8:38 am PST | Permalink

Bob Wayne on DC Reprinting Policy

Newsarama and DC Comics VP Sales and Marketing Bob Wayne go through another lengthy interview on the comic book publisher's reprinting policy, which is every bit as reasonable and measured as the one done in August, and, ultimately, every bit as limited in the answers it can provide.

imageIt's not that anyone doubts there is demand for individual comics like Identity Crisis that may require multiple printings. But we'll never know exactly how these demands play out until DC is more forthcoming about numbers, or until DC is really, really clear about the strategy involved behind each book. Given their company-wide fury in publishing as many titles as possible, this doesn't seem all that likely.

Also, as long as DC trumpets these subsequent printings, they must accept responsibility for the increased surge in demand that kind of news creates rather than merely reflects.

But mostly, this is a pretty interesting piece. The only issue Wayne really punts is the one on variant covers, where he seems to assume means some sort of assault on the collector's impulse.

That's not the argument. The variants difficulty is that a second or third cover -- or more appropriately, second and third covers for some titles every month from now on -- may create additional strain on a non-returnable system by tying up cash flow from a retailer whose customers may or may not want the additional item. What could DC possibly see in the current market that says an additional level of complexity when ordering is a precedent worth establishing?

So my gut feeling is that the companies don't see these things as very harmful, and they might be right, particularly in the individual case. Armchair punditry has its limits, and I'd have to speak to a lot more retailers before I could say anything worthwhile on these issues. It just seems to me these are potentially dangerous strategies for a still relatively fragile market, Pandora's mylar sleeve, and DC might want to tread carefully even if it costs them a couple places on some top ten list.
posted 8:16 am PST | Permalink

Angouleme Press Conference Set

You know your comics festival's a big deal when you can send out a press release announcing a press conference and no one laughs at you.

imageThe forthcoming Le Festival d'Angouleme, January 27-30 2005, will announce its official schedule at a press conference on December 2 in a famous Parsisian nightclub (at least I think it's a nightclub) called L'Olympia. A wall display on-site will continue advertising the festival to Parisiens from the conference's end until the festival begins.

Many of the events have been previously reported.

Of interest to some might be the tone of the release, which indicates that finding ways for the show to have broader appeal is a chief concern for organizers. Festival-goers and comics fans have in recent years debated Angouleme's orientation towards excellence in art versus popular art.

Here's another article from a French site that seems to indicate that comics albums continue to sell well, but what moves remains traditional series and those with tie-ins to other media.
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Trudeau to be Honored At Aspen

imageDoonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, in the midst of resurgence in both his cartooning career and as a wider cultural force, will be honored at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Aspen with the Freedom of Speech award. The presentation will include a tribute hosted by fellow cartoonist Aaron McGruder.

Everyone probably already knew this but me, but the Festival will also host a "The Rise of the Graphic Novel" panel run in conjunction with McSweeney's and featuring a murderer's row of big-hitter cartoonists many of whom do actually make what most people think of as graphic novels: Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Art Spielgelman, Charles Burns, Kaz, and Dan Clowes (whom long-time Festival attendees may be surprised to find out doesn't look more like Fantagraphics Books promotions czar Eric Reynolds).
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Children Roasted Over Open Flame

Every so often there's an article that tries to explain something that happens in a comic strip or comic book, where no matter how skilled the writer or how thoroughly the incident is described, the act of putting it into text makes the activity sound not-so-amusing and actually kind of scary. Here's today's example.
posted 7:59 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Succinct Round-Up of Manga Spring at DC, Viz
X-Men Book Upsets Mom
Slightly More on Dark Horse/B&N Deal
Manga's Popularity = Reviews of 10-year-old Books
Big Guardian Feature on 25 Years of Viz
Missed This: Arnold on Ponent Mon/Fanfare Books
Strip Failure Turning Point in Writer's Life
Jazz Comic Spawns Sequel in Korea
Holocaust-Era Editorial Cartoon Show Begins Tour

November 17, 2004

Devlin Announces Demise of Highwater


Tom Devlin of Highwater Books sent out a letter this morning to the cartoonists published by his company giving notice that Highwater will cease operations effective immediately. The Highwater on-line store operations are to continue until the end of the year.

Highwater was known for its eclectic line-up of unique art-comics talent, including Brian Ralph, Megan Kelso, Mat Brinkman, James Kochalka, and Ron Rege Jr.

The company's most widely circulated effort may have been Coober Skeber #2 -- The Marvel Benefit issue, where Highwater-related cartoonists did stories with Marvel characters in a humorous attempt to "aid" the then-struggling publishing giant. That book introduced many readers to a post-alternative generation of comics talent that with subsequent projects has since become much more familiar.

Books planned but not released by the company include Crum Bums, Maggots, I Pity You and SMB3.

John Porcellino recently announced his Perfect Example collection would receive a new edition from Drawn and Quarterly; no other moves have been announced.
posted 1:13 pm PST | Permalink

Let’s All Please Nip the Revisionist Histories of CrossGen In the Bud

imageReading this article spinning CrossGen Entertainment's existence and the seeds of such spin in the general coverage of Disney's purchase of CrossGen company assets, sometimes from people who should know better, I would like to offer up an alternate view.

1. CrossGen was a failure. If CrossGen had been a success of any kind, money would have come its way long before a post-bankruptcy fire sale, and there would have been more than two and a half serious bidders.

2. CrossGen failed largely on its own merits. Despite facing comics' legitimately tough traditional marketplace, there were no structural impediments keeping any of the books from really hitting if they captured a broad audience's fancy. That comics will support books exceeding their marketing resources based on content that hits with an audience has been shown time and time again, and was even borne out at CrossGen near the end of the company's run when it had a couple of surprise, modest hits. Comics can support successful comics companies at CrossGen's marketshare with CrossGen's resources. It's not the industry's fault founder Mark Alessi had eyes for Marvel, DC, and early '90s Image instead of IDW or Dreamwave. It's Alessi's fault.

image3. CrossGen did nothing to change the industry from a content standpoint. Nothing CrossGen published hadn't been seen before somewhere from someone. The line was hardly innovative as a whole, either; it lacked superheroes only if you believed CrossGen's self-serving denial about several titles. And the connected universe idea with which they launched is potentially one of comics more loathsomely exploitative and all-too-common concepts.

4. CrossGen's employee set-up was an alternative idea, not a revolution. You know, pretty much any company that asks people to re-locate and work regular hours with a dresscode and everything will provide benefits and a salary. The guy who edits Spunky Knight for Eros Comics gets a salary and benefits. The revolution will be full, affordable access to benefits by freelancers, not an employee opt-in. And I'm afraid based on the company's inability to consistently attract top-tier talent, I'd say the employee strategy was a failure.

5. While it sounds like we can and should be happy for writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Ploog for how their situation is being resolved vis-a-vis their Abadazad, and look forward to what their obvious and considerable talent will do with it within a Disney-backed framework, unless that situation is somehow replicated 30-something times, with similar relief offered to those not connected to a specific creative property, this does not constitute a win or justify anyone's original vision.

posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

Fiddler’s Green Very Green for CBLDF

According to author and free speech advocate Neil Gaiman, the total take for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund from the recent Sandman-focused Fiddler's Green convention was an amazing $45,000.

In addition, through Gaiman a link to e-bay shows the results of the first print in a series Gaiman is doing in conjunction with Cerebus author Dave Sim, bringing in $1025.
posted 8:17 am PST | Permalink

Schultz to Write Prince Valiant


In a King Features press release the contents of which I first saw disseminated by Newsarama, veteran comics writer and artist Mark Schultz has officially assumed scripting duties for Cullen Murphy on the Prince Valiant strip. Schultz will join another comic book veteran, artist Gary Gianni. The editor and author Cullen Murphy wrote Prince Valiant for several years with his late father, the legendary strip artist John Cullen Murphy, the man who took up Valiant after the feature's creator Hal Foster. A Murphy/Gianni strip is shown above.

It's good to read that Prince Valiant remains a solid hit at 350 clients, as I'd heard rumors of slight slippage when Gianni came aboard -- not a reflection of Gianni's talent in any way but a sign that newspaper will use whatever excuse they can to make content moves in the increasingly shrinking comic strip market. In fact, 350 papers sounds like a slight gain.

According to this thread on a Comic Book Resources message board, Schultz may have been involved with the strip before the official announcement, which would make some sense if you take into account how syndicates make decisions about new talent.
posted 8:14 am PST | Permalink

Reporters In Disguise

Forget the content of this news brief about creative adjustments on various Transformers comics titles from Dreamwave Productions. The real news here is at the top of the page, in the credits, where we learn that somewhere out there is an entire news staff dedicated to Transformers coverage.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Border's Best of 2004: Ware, Spiegelman, Thompson
Daryl Cagle to Helm Best of Book
Knight, Czekaj, Toyoshima Slide Show and Signing Saturday
SLG Postpones "Creator's Studio II" Event
Another Viz Shojo Survey
Snuffy Smith's John Rose to Receive Award Today

November 16, 2004

Dynamic Sanctions and Dismissals: Judge Comes Down on Tarzan Suit


I have to admit I'm not sure exactly what status the suit talked about in this article currently enjoys. In fact, I swear there was a ruling in 2003, so maybe this is just additional fall-out if not just a related suit. At any rate, as any number of news stories and archived filings will tell you, the Hogarth estate has long disputed earnings by the incorporated Edgar Rice Burroughs interests over work done by the cartoonist-educator that he and his heirs believe fell out of work for hire arrangements.

This sounds pretty devastating for the Hogarth estate side of the matter, as their lawyers take it right on the chops. I find it interesting that the key to the judge's conclusion seems to have been the lawyers' inability to relate the Disney movie to Hogarth's conception of Tarzan as opposed to what I find murkier, the understanding between Hogarth and the Tarzan people about how profits might be shared down the line.

The $15 million dollar figure cited by ERB, Inc. also seems kind of small considering Tarzan was a crossover licensing hit (although sort of a surprise one) for Disney, but not particularly shocking the way these things are often accounted for after the fact.
posted 9:08 am PST | Permalink Releases October Direct Market Sales Analysis: Better Than September, Worse Than 2003 has released their usual battery of top-notch comic book direct market numbers crunching and analysis, this time for October 2004.

They feature a summary article, an article about October 2004 versus October 2003, a listing of the direct market's top 100 graphic novels and a listing of the top 300 comics overall. Their sales estimates are provided whenever they are appropriate.
First impressions:

1. The suggestion that differences between 2003 and 2004 may be due in part to a couple of very briskly selling comics special to last year should be noted, sure, but can't we tell how much an effect those books had by looking at the estimated numbers? It's not like the Big Two lack for event comics right now.

2. The fall-off after the top twenty looks as scary to me as ever. My positive side feels a strategic shift to book-format sales is responsible in part for the poor performing lower-end of the periodicals market. The negative side of me just thinks there's a massive disconnect between what the publishers are providing and what retailers feel they can sale past a few big names, and that there's little concerted effort beyond those big titles for various, stupid reasons. The companies that are up seem up on the strength of several books, not just a few.

3. The high volume of manga titles, and the relatively low sales for manga makes me wonder if any of the bigger stores have been ordering this stuff on a returnable basis.

4. Image being down 65 percent is just brutal, way past the joke stage.

5. Plot-based stunts like killing characters and various mysteries seem to me to play right into a increased desire for illegal downloads.

posted 9:04 am PST | Permalink

More on Disney/CrossGen

Here are the press release, a follow-up wire story, the local news angle, and the Publisher's Weekly weigh-in (summarized by Kevin Melrose if you're not a PW subscriber) on the Disney purchase of CrossGen Entertainment assets, comic book titles like Ruse, Negation (my favorite) and Route 666.

I can't help but think this is yet another indication for the crazy money times in which comics currently live. In the last month we've had a largely non-existent comics line reach a big deal; now it's a failed comics line. The only thing left is for a fictional publishing line that only exists within a bunch of comic-book stories to get a three-picture deal at Paramount. Quick! Call my lawyer!

imageMy gut feeling is that these projects aren't so unique that they couldn't have largely been replicated (the most unique thing the line offered, a specific connecting mythology, will no doubt be avoided like the plague), despite the enthusiasm Disney Publishing Worldwide President Deborah Dugan expresses for projects like Meridian. I mean, as someone who wrote me pointed out, plans for the JM DeMatteis and Mike Ploog property Abadazad are slightly odd in that Disney already had a quirky kids fantasy property that starts with the letter "A." It makes me wonder if the purchase wasn't one of those things where it's simply more cost-effective to buy a bunch of standard properties in bulk than to make your own by hand.

I'm also thankful that today's round of articles has qualified claims that Disney Worldwide publishes half the world's comics to half the world's non-manga comics, because that had me baffled.
posted 9:02 am PST | Permalink

So Long, And Thanks For The Support

Here's a short article on Dark Horse entering into partnership with a bookstore chain to make cheaper version of a strong-selling back catalog favorite, and one manga-savvy seller's acerbic reaction to the news.

It will be interesting to see if Dark Horse gets the benefit of the same defense that Marvel did with a previous, similar deal: which I remember being Marvel simply couldn't have afforded the cheap editions otherwise. Somehow, I doubt it.
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

“The First Thirty-Some Volumes Were Great and Everything, But…”

imageAccording to a story picked up by the Anime News Network site that originated in a hard to find location from this site, Hiroyuki Takei's Shaman King manga suddenly ended in the Japan's Shonen Jump magazine, and the publication of the final volume of the collections has been delayed. According to the article, Shueisha is asking for 50,000 people to participate in a petition -- sign-ups can be in English if real information is provided -- before restarting its distribution of the long-running serial.

Shaman King is one of the features in the American version of Shonen Jump, and the animated version currently plays in the U.S. on Fox.

I've always heard that manga publishers are capable of making really tough bottom-line decisions, although something this near the end might indicate some other unreported problem or maybe even a clap-your-hands support ploy common near the end of manga serials of which I'm completely unaware. Still: weird.

I think that picture's from Shaman King.

posted 8:59 am PST | Permalink

Not Exactly Comics: Alex Toth Mad at Cartoon Network?

The lead interview (for now) at the Creative Loafing web site features a chat with various creative personalities behind the Adult Swim block of cartoons on cable's Cartoon Network. The shows grouped together under the Adult Swim designation include a few offerings that have fun with earlier cartoon series by recontextualizing their stiff characters into oddball or slightly disturbing situations.

imageScroll down near the end, and Michael Ouweleen, who co-created Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law indicates Toth isn't all that happy with his show of that type.
"We've heard that Alex Toth is mad at us. He was this amazing designer for Birdman and Sealab -- the model sheets are freaking gorgeous. It's all designed beautifully, but then you see the final cartoon, and it's total crap. Everything got watered way down. So I'm amazed that he's mad at us, because he should be mad at what they did to the original Birdman cartoon."

I have no idea why I find that interesting, except maybe that the self-flattering conventional wisdom in comics has often been that the older cartoonists who moved into animation loved the comics but treated the animation work as a pay-me-and-whatever job, and it's nice to be reminded that things might be more complicated than that.

Thanks to tipster Lang Thompson
posted 8:57 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Sports Cartoonist Rod McLeod Dies
National Review: Oliphant Among Those Who Lost It
Another Seal Opens: A New Comic Shop
Whatever Happened to Lev?
AP Signs with Diamond Books
Lightningstrike Publishing Loses Finance Battle
Bill Liebowitz Remembered; Scott McCloud Among Pro Attendees
La Grande Avventura del Fumetto Halts Production

November 15, 2004

Lookit What We Bought: Disney on CrossGen Purchases

In a turn of events that no doubt sent some intern scrambling to find out who currently owns the Seaboard/Atlas characters, The Hollywood Reporter and the Reuters wire service are running this article on Disney obtaining the CrossGen Entertainment company assets, a more aggressive PR-driven spin on previously reported news of a Disney-affiliated bid that ended the company's bankruptcy assets auction. The article is worth checking out for hints that DC may combine the not-quite-successful line's characters with some of the web applications that the Tampa-based publisher was developing for targeted on-line endeavors.

imageNewsarama follows up with some thorough reportage on implications for the J.M. Dematteis/Mike Ploog fantasy property Abadazad, which had been in dispute between the creators and the bankrupt CrossGen, by noting that Disney has immediate plans for that title through its Hyperion prose line. They also squeeze some perspective from their Disney contact that Disney's acquisition is part of a plan to check out the fruits of U.S. comics companies and see if a movie or 50 could fly, and which titles appealed to them.

If nothing else, the sudden reversal of interest, or at least reversal in rhetoric surrounding same, should convince even the most skeptical comics is in a new era of fevered outside money interest.

In other news, late last week word popped up that Bill Rosemann had landed in a new position created for him at DC Comics. Rosemann left DC competitor Marvel after a successful run to take a position at CrossGen, where he was in many ways that company's last significant hire and the public point man during the initial stages of its decline.
posted 9:14 am PST | Permalink

Anti-Semitic Joke Gets University Cartoonist Suspended in Illinois

Chicago area media reported Saturday that student cartoonist Matt Vroom at the University of Illinois' Daily Illini was suspended for a joke that incorporated Jewish stereotypes of big noses and financial advantage. The editor that approved the strip was suspended as well.

Vroom's I Hate Pam is a deadpan humor strip in the style of work from David Rees or Max Cannon. You can check out less distressing examples of the strip through the paper's site.

In other college comic strip news, a shout out from the Arizona State newspaper for one of its own provides a reminder that MTV's college strip contest is coming right up on its voting deadline of November 17th.

I'm not sure about any of these strips, but "Matt Vroom" and "Dud Lawson" are total keepers as far as names go.
posted 9:08 am PST | Permalink

Harry Lampert 1916-2004

Harry Lampert, the artist who in 1940 co-created the Flash character at All-American Comics with writer Gardner Fox, died on Saturday morning, November 13 after suffering a brain hemorrhage. In a long career in comics and carooning, Lampert also worked at the Max Fleischer studio, worked in upscale magazine gag cartooning and in advertising, and drew humor comics that were sprinkled throughout many early American comic book publications.

imageLampert's art provided the original Flash character a touch of cartoon whimsy that distinguished it from the supercharged pulp that drove many characters that have survived as long. His Flash ran like an Ivy League gentleman in long pants talked into in an impromptu Fancy Dress Weekend fun run, as opposed to a hard-charging, muscular sprinter. Although the art style used for the Flash character and its various re-models would change greatly over the years, a more sprightly sense of wish fulfillment represented by the idea of running very fast as opposed to striking people remained part of the character's charm for decades.

After formal retirement in 1976, Lampert pursued a passion for contract bridge that led him to become a well known instructor. He designed logos for bridge organizations and wrote books like The Fun Way to Advanced Bridge, four books stuffed with cartoons that together sold nearly a half-million copies. The cartoonist also became a well-liked presence on the comic book convention circuit.

The writer Mark Evanier provides his usual sterling, brief obituary, latter adding an interesting note about the coverage of such artists and a nice-looking photo follow-up. Lampert received a national write-up or two, and a regional obituary in Florida. You might also wish to read reactions from comics fans, an appreciation from a comics diarist, a review of one of his books, a note from his having received a bridge organization's achievement award and his entry at the Lambiek comiclopedia.
posted 8:56 am PST | Permalink

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Hulk Download For Me

Kudos to Comic Book Galaxy for publishing this easy to understand primer on the issues surrounding comics piracy -- aka the illegal, almost always free distribution of comic books in computer formats. Writer Jason St. Claire provides a nice survey of the surrounding issues and makes some common sense points about how technology has to make something possible before it becomes popular.

I'd quote extensively, but St. Claire's article deserves to be read in its entirety rather than reprinted in large chunks for this site's benefit.
posted 8:47 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Does Reprint with Variant Cover

imageAnother variant cover, another mainstream comic book story of peculiar value. This time it's Marvel doing the reprinting, from the post-salting-of-the-Thomas/Englehart/Busiek earth that is a re-launch of their Avengers title: New Avengers #1.

I bring this up here to note that Marvel has its own set of issues regarding reprints, in that they almost never do them, and variants, in that they're recently more aggressive about working that area of the comic book market, mostly as same-time order incentives. It may also be worth noting that it seems like both Marvel and DC seem to have some degree of control over their top-end market books, in that they seem to be able to designate a hit right now.

My vote for the New Avengers mystery character? Joanna Lumley.
posted 8:40 am PST | Permalink

Fan Reactions to Nanjing Manga Censorship; Historian Suicide

Anyone out there desperate to read more on the story of Shueisha Inc.'s censorship of pages from the manga serial "Kuni ga Moeru" about atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in the late 1930s might consider wading through the several pages of reader commentary at Anime News Network. It's a lurid mish-mash of strident attitudes and direct link argumentation, but probably a fair snapshot of the issues it raises with American readers.

Several sharp-minded Comics Reporter Readers, including Sean Collins, Greg Zura and Pam Noles, wrote in to note that Iris Chang, the young Chinese-American historian whose esteemed work was at the heart of the last several years' worth of outrage over the Nanjing event, and who supplied some of the photographs at quesion in this manga, was found dead last week from what was believed to be a self-inflicted gun wound.
posted 8:33 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Indonesia: Cartoon Lands Editor in Jail
Gaiman: CBLDF Up $37,030 After Fiddler's Green
Bif! Bang! Pow!
National Library of Wales Offers Illingworth Archives
Garry Trudeau Praised as Progressive Reporter
Michigan's Cartoon History Leads Exhibit Story
Samir Exhibit Throws Spotlight on Yemeni Comics
New Yorker Tour Hits Austin
Ancient News I Missed: Rojek Sentenced
Today's Reason to Feel Old
Schulz Museum Gets Big-Paper Travel Section Treatment
This Comic Strip Loves Concrete
Cool-Sounding New Lat Book
Adam Fortier's Company Announces First Title
Prog Rockers Love Comics
He Hardly Looks a Day Over 108

November 14, 2004

CR Sunday Magazine

All frequent comic book buyers hate comic shops at one time or another, and a renewed interest in their faults and shortcoming has surged to the forefront following substantial improvements in comics bookstore distribution. But is such complaining useful?

image"Some Thoughts Outside the Comics Shop, Waiting For It to Open" argues that being brutally honest about industry issues is a necessary first step, and that the future of the comics medium will in some ways depend on confronting the problems facing its industries now. It also may prove useful to keep in mind the primordial soup of massive dysfunction from which many comics business snafus bubble up, and that business reform isn't coming anywhere but from moments of clarity and years of hard work.

What do you think are some of the issues the industry needs to confront through honest appraisal? Join our .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your thoughts.
posted 11:26 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Saul Steinberg

imageThe Saul Steinberg Foundation offers an exquisitely selected and tiny gallery of the great artist's work available on a single, easy on the eyes page. The late, Romanian-born cartoonist was a giant talent best known for his work in The New Yorker. His signature work was probably "A View of the World From Ninth Avenue," pictured left, one of those visual statements that has been borrowed and parodied about 18 billion times without costing the original its wry clarity.

A lot of people decline to see Steinberg's work as comics proper, and as I recall Steinberg himself saw what he did as illustrations rather than cartoons. Even the most definition-rigid comics fans alive would have to admit that Steinberg is a treasure trove for ways of drawing and thinking about drawing.

Mostly, I just really like looking at the stuff. It's hard to believe Steinberg's been gone almost five years.
posted 10:45 am PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

Playing Ricky Morton (2002)
The Day Murray Soltinoff Died (2001)
You Can Lead a Messiah to Water, But You Can't Make Him Walk (2000)
Comics Made Me Fat (1999)
Witness at the Marvelution (1995)

posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink

November 13, 2004

CR Week in Review

Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, November 6 to November 12, 2004:

1. Publisher Shueisha Inc. Confirms Censorship Measures in Manga Over Depiction of "Rape of Nanjing."
2. Aggressive Marvel Sues City of Heroes for Enabling Its Players to Mimic Marvel Characters in Body of Play
3. DC Continues Take-Our-Word-For-It Reprint Policy on Identity Crisis and Green Lantern: Rebirth.

Winner of the Week
imageThe cartoonist Renee French, who reached one of the few remaining literary/comics publishing milestones with an appearance in this month's Paris Review.

Illustration from The Ticking, French's forthcoming work from Top Shelf.

Losers of the Week
Fans of, a popular comics advocacy web site that hosted opinion columns, a popular arts-focused blog, general consumer resources and a large number of reviews of graphic novels by published writers. The site went to archive-only status this week, potentially signaling another shift away from content-driven reform impulses in American comic books.

Quote of the Week
"I am neither exulted nor unhappy at the honour." -- Respected veteran cartoonist Raju Nair's eminently sensible statement upon hearing he was the recipient of a press club prize that includes a cash award and citation, as reported in the Times of India.
posted 5:04 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Wolverine: Dying Time
Dark Water
posted 5:02 am PST | Permalink

November 12, 2004

Marvel Sues City of Heroes for Its Municipal Policies Regarding Freedoms of Expression and Dress

According to wire reports, Marvel Enterprises has sued South Korea-based NCSoft Corp. and San Jose-based Cryptic Studios Inc. for the way their City of Heroes on-line game allows its players to mimic Marvel characters in the body of play. In other words, you can't officially be the Hulk in City of Heroes, but Marvel feels you shouldn't be really, really like the Hulk, either.

City of Heroes is a computer game where you can participate as a superhero of your creation in a virtual world shared by other users through on-line connections.

Marvel's suit is doubtless noteworthy for a number of reasons. Here are three I didn't have to have explained to me by a lawyer:
First, Marvel has sued the company that allows such theft to take place rather than those perpetuating the alleged crime, which is similar to litigation brought against organizers of flea markets that host bootleg vendors and Internet sites that host music file swapping.

Second, in order to go after the making of dopplegangers Marvel seems to be making at least a vague claim for its characters as a bundle of attributes rather than simply a name and visual key. This may have ramifications for comics, where the use of wink-wink close copies has been accepted practice for a couple of decades now.

Third, this fits in with Marvel's newly-energized philosophy of "With great power comes the added power of me suing your ass." Marvel recently took action against Disney over the custodial status of some of its television iterations of successful properties. This suit could be seen as a strike on behalf of its planned, similar role-playing game.

Your various comics-related news sites and blogs should be all over this story due to its magnificent nerd synergy and fertile soil for one-liners, so even if your interest is limited you might mine any you routinely visit for humorous nuggets. Early this morning, I got a laugh from a section in Newsarama's article that points out a player's guide that practically flaunts Wolverine almost-likes:
"...the City of Heroes Official Strategy Guide (licensed by Prima, and approved by NCSoft and Cryptic Studio) includes a comic strip where three characters that look like Marvel's Wolverine, calling themselves Wulferine, Wolvereen, and Wulverine, joke about who's the 'real' character."

I wonder if that was found in Appendix Three: Please Sue Us.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Blah Blah Blah

Pontificating and other comics-related speech of note to be found lurking on-line.

"The sixteen-panel grid is a pig to work. I've stayed clear of it. It's a scary-looking bugger." -- Warren Ellis talks about panel grids.

image"Je ne voudrais pas que mes livres s'adressent a une seule communaute." -- Ben Katchor Interview, which is older, and in French, and probably everyone has seen it but me, but I don't think of Katchor as a chatty fellow and I like looking at his art.

"I think really engaging entertainment, entertainment that grabs you by the entrails, instructs." -- Gene Yang to Al Schroeder about entertaining/instructing, print/web, and other dichotomies.

posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

More Publishers = More Sales, Right?


In noting the statement from Publisher's Weekly that "Diamond Book Distributors expects to see its U.S. sales increase 17% this year, according to Kuo-Yu Liang, v-p of sales and marketing," it might help to place things in context to read the next sentence from that same article: "Diamond also continues to add publishers."

In 2005 the book distribution arm of Steve Geppi's comics empire will take advantage of a full year in exclusivity arrangements with Marvel, Dynamic Forces, Seven Seas, Digital Manga, Meisha Merlin, Eros Comix and Studio Foglio, in addition to any others I am unable to recall or easily find via search. As Marvel all by itself plans to pump out trade product in the first half of 2005 as if future movie deals depended on it, I'd say an upswing in sales for their distributor is really, really likely.

A full list of Diamond Book Distributors clients can be found here.
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Renee French Comic Hits Paris Review
Not Really About Comics, But Still a Great Headline
Josh Lesnick Moves Girly Off of Keenspot
Features That Will Not Die: Allred on BoM
APComics Signs with Diamond Books
Line Adjustments continue at Depuis
Moebius/Miyazaki Themed Exhibit Set for Paris
It's Good to Be the King: Tongdaeng Comic Published
The Hurting Looks at Pol. Contributions From DC
The Hurting Looks at Pol. Contributions From Indies

November 11, 2004

Publisher/Creator Statement on Manga Censorship Case

A statement printed in the latest edition of Weekly Young Jump provides an update to a story from last month whereby the magazine suspended publication of the serial "Kuni ga Moeru" by Hiroshi Motomiya after politically driven objections to the depiction of atrocities committed against the Chinese by Japanese soldiers in 1937 and 1938.

That event, called the Nanjing Massacre in the sources I've read on this case and also frequently referred to as the Rape of Nanking for reasons I'm too internationally clueless to figure out, has led to pointed disputes over the number of people killed, with severe political ramifications both within and without the two countries. Some right-wing factions in Japan have denied that any killing occurred at all. The controversy surrounding Motomiya's comic was centered on the use of visual reference material in the September 16 and September 22 installments that a group of assemblymen claimed were discredited.

"The lack of prudence in selecting and verifying the materials for the comic has caused misunderstanding among readers," read the statement in part.

There are no plans as of yet for resumption of the serial.
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink

E&P Throws Spotlight on Robinson’s Comics Exhibit

imageNewspaper industry trade magazine Editor & Publisher takes notice of Jerry Robinson's superhero exhibit ,"The Golden Age of Comic Books: 1938-1950," at the William Breman Jewish Heritage museum in Atlanta. They use as their hook Robinson's role as president of CartoonArts International, although Robinson is perhaps best known in comics circles for his involvement with the Batman character. That relationship is made clear in the bevy of positive reviews and profiles of the exhibit. It will run until August 2005, and I'm pretty sure I've heard hopes expressed that it will move to another location or series of locations at that time.

One of Robinson's lesser-known roles that grants this show a certain amount of promise is occasional comics historian. Information gleaned from his fine biography of Percy Crosby can be found here, a book that the cartoonist was telling people at the 2004 San Diego convention might be published in a new edition.

I hope and trust this photo of Robinson is part of the exhibit and therefore contextual information, and apologize if it is not.
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink

“They Are Peas in a Pod/Don’t You Think That It’s Odd”

imageThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) definitely goes for that Odd Couple vibe in its report of the teaming of Cerebus creator Dave Sim and author Neil Gaiman for a CBLDF fundraising opportunity (the print at left).
"Of those pieces which remain, Sim and Gaiman will both sign -- and
Neil Gaiman will complete -- one copy in November of each year (i.e.
#3/50 in 2005; #4/50 in 2006) which will then be auctioned on eBay to
benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, by way of illustrating in
as pointed a fashion as possible that even though Dave Sim and Neil
Gaiman are at diametric opposite poles on the political spectrum, they
will always be on good enough terms, personally, to cooperate in
jointly supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the First
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America."

I just imagined Gaiman spearing Sim's cigar butt with his umbrella, didn't you?

The Fund also calls attention to this weekend's Fiddler's Green, a convention dedicated to Gaiman's extremely popular Sandman comic book series which the author and CBLDF board member will attend.
posted 7:49 am PST | Permalink

Awards Sharing Name With Proud, Endangered Bird Salute Art Form Equivalent

The venerable British-based comics industry Eagle Awards announced their winners via a press release yesterday. Results were to be released in conjunction with an event called Comic Expo in Bristol last Friday, the 5th. Organizers were aggressive about soliciting votes this year as opposed to years past, and claim to have received well over 10,000.

The Eagle Awards are probably best known by American comics fans of a certain age for the appearance of some version of their swank logo on covers of late 1970s Uncanny X-Men comic books. As most comic book readers of that time had little in the way of social contact with comics readers outside of their immediate circle of friends, the Awards were an indication that the book was well-received and that there were people out there who cared about that kind of thing.
posted 7:47 am PST | Permalink

Again With the Oath

imageAnother story of DC Comics going back to press, this time with a third try of a first issue featuring the original Green Lantern: test pilot and giant catcher mitt fancier Hal Jordan (character, not issue in question, pictured at right).

I mention this kind of story one more time because a respondent to the Newsarama posting on the matter smartly referenced this piece on Bob Wayne and DC printing policy, which I think is worth a look-see. It provides a lot more information as to the hows and why of comic book company print runs while explicitly avoiding certain questions in a way that suggests readers should remain skeptical
posted 7:46 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Raju Nair: Best Award Acceptance Ever
Tokyopop New Spring Series Summary
Who Knew the SBC Even Had a Comics Line-Up?
BM Gafoor Remembered 1 Year Later
Devil's Due Launches Digest Line
Universal Reaches Out for Older Demographic
New Tezuka Biography or Simply New Article?
Inguine on Mussolini: Sacco, Drooker, Zograf (via afNews via EgonLabs)

November 10, 2004

More Stabbing, Forced Lobotomy Programs and Sexual Assault for Everyone: How Comics Works

imageDC Comics announced via press release it's going back to press on a second issue of its Identity Crisis murder mystery mini-series. Like or lump the comic itself -- superhero comic book fans seem divided between a group enjoying the big-event feel and the twists and a group deploring the treatment of adult violence -- this kind of thing can be very worth noting as publishing news.

Even though DC doesn't release raw numbers and the market is therefore very open to manipulation of perception, the fact that the Time Warner company feels they need a second edition of this comic at this point in the series' roll-out is a strong indication of legitimate high sales throughout comic shops. The fact that DC goes back to press at all on comics of high demand is a break with the policy practiced by their close competitor Marvel, DC's strategy being that retailers are best supported by giving them a chance to sell earlier issues with the later ones. Whereas Marvel's policy may manipulate fan impulses by creating immediate back issues at jacked-up prices, DC's may manipulate this same market with multiple covers for the completist (the cover art here is the original one, incidentally). That DC announces this move in the usual places can also be a sign of sustained marketing interest in a series within the publisher's walls, which isn't exactly a given anymore.

With the direct market seemingly ordering more confidently at the high end of sales charts and not so well on the low end, how each mainstream company manages its bigger hits becomes more important to the industry's bottom line.
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Ed Shukin Interview

The industry analysis site does everyone interested in the comic book business a favor by posting this great, short, from-the-vaults 1994 interview in two parts with longtime Marvel circulation and marketing honcho Ed Shukin. Shukin's recollections of the early days of the comic book "direct market" are fun because he has a business executive's way of dispensing information: straight-forward, with a minimum of fuss. In terms of the principles involved, Shukin's succinct summary of the direct market's possibilities remain golden:
"Pragmatically, I don't think we can ever again duplicate the annual trends of the 70s and 80s, but with a sensible approach, we can again generate reasonable and consistent increases year-to-year. Obviously, to do that we are going to have to control volume, make quality, not quantity, the principle commitment, and improve the levels of communication."

It's interesting to note how much a commitment to an alternative to newsstand sales grew out of some very dire business concerns. Shunkin talks about a 30 percent sell-through which if my memory of Marvel correspondence serves shows a severe decline from Marvel's late '60s heyday. Shukin also speaks about dealing with a certain kind of buyer, something I think reflects some of Marvel's specific early 1970s frustrations with some of its distribution partners. I would love to hear him speak about how much Marvel's competitive situation in those newsstand worked into their feelings about trying Phil Seuling's alternative. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that in 1974 there were specific doubts about Marvel's saturation and ability to be displayed in relation to its competitors.

Anyway, this is fun, wonky stuff for those of you interested in the business history of comics, and a pretty jam-packed, concise summary of historical issues for those who are not.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

Straight From John P.

Word from the small press comics legend John Porcellino posted to his web site on his forthcoming publishing plans, which he was kind enough to unpack and translate as follows:
* Drawn and Quarterly will be publishing a new edition of his out-of-print Highwater Books collection Perfect Example in Fall 2005.

* Zak Sally's La Mano will publish Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man in early 2005, which will include mosquito stories from 10 years of Porcellino's seminal mini-comic King-Cat Comics and Stories.

* Sometime in 2005 Ego Comme X will publish a French-language book to be called Moon Lake Trails. It will consist of much of the material in Perfect Example and a few added stories.

* The next issue of King-Cat Comics and Stories will be a giant-sized issue featuring the 60-page "Last Days at the Old House" effort, and should also be out early in 2005.

A favorite of his cartooning peers, Porcellino may be the most widely-admired comics talent to emerge from the mini-comics scene, where he still does the bulk of his initial publishing. An example of his approach to comics can be found here.
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink

St. Martin’s Press to Release Year’s Best

Heidi MacDonald has the press release I was unable to find elsewhere with my meager Internet skills: about a Fall 2005 effort from St. Martin's in partnership with Byron Preiss to be called The Year's Best Comics and Manga. Basically, this is a "Best Of" comics collection of the kind that exist for different genres, with a big publisher's stamp of approval and distribution opportunities.

A normal, comics-positive person might see opportunities for sales and outreach, but I'm afraid all I see are problems. Briefly:
1) Comics isn't a genre, which is where these things tend to work best.

2) The press release, if not the title itself, promises broad inclusiveness as a standard for selection. While one wants to consider everything, a representative selection is rarely the best selection.

3) Why does this have to be done in conjunction with any comics-related entity, with all of their personal peccadilloes and artistic favorites? There's any number of capable mainstream editors with good taste now. That would be much more fascinating.

4) I'm confused by the hints of a submission process. Do submitted books get more weight? If Dan Clowes doesn't submit, is he even considered? It's not like comics is flush with great work -- why not hire an editor who can seek out and find the material?

5) Comics lacks enough great work to fill up a great book every year. This isn't as big a problem with a genre as it is with a medium.

6) Comics lacks widespread, multiple entry ramps, meaning that an effort like this may become more important than similar ones in other fields, and may in a way ironically limit a potential audience.

On the positive end, I like a lot of what Preiss does and I'm happy that some comics authors will get a chance to see another paycheck, and gain new readers. Author Neil Gaiman is a great choice to write commentary. I enjoy reading Gaiman on comics.

Overall, I imagine it won't be a big deal either way -- just another book.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Don Rosa Takes All the Great Trips
Underground Manga Exhibition
Rookie Wins Aussie Editorial Award; Sports Bowtie
Issues Cartooning: Johnston on Developmental Disabilities and Mainstreaming Into Classrooms
Comics May Help Save India
Adam Fortier Launches Comics Company
Oliphant, Stein Enter Denver Press Club HOF
Comics on Amazon's Best of 2004
Contest to Be In a Webcomic

November 9, 2004

Wizard Claims It’s Bigger in Texas

Wizard Conventions Inc. has put their attendance figures for their 2004 Texas show at 12,000 -- which would mean the show gained just slightly over 30 percent from last year's numbers. Wizard also released its convention highlights, and amazingly, half of them are about comics.

imageMichael Lark's exclusive with Marvel surprisingly continues to drive the legit publishing news that came out of the convention with follow-ups from Lark himself and one of his creative partners at DC. If only Lark were appreciated like this all the time. That's his Daredevil art, already on sale, if you want to go stare at it all big and stuff.

Official convention news is usually supplemented by various first person reports like this one. But as the show doesn't look like it's become a must-attend by those outside the Dallas area, these are likely to be few and far between.
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

Best Use of a Blog Award

Tim O'Neil at The Hurting has begun a search of powerful comics executives on political donation web sites. This is one of those things that will likely prove fascinating even if there's no newsworthy hook. Or maybe this will just be interesting to me, because I am totally horrible at using databases and research mechanisms in the service of journalism.

Using the sites that Tim links to in his initial blog entry, I plugged in the names of cartoonists who made the news during the election period for reasons of content:

image* Aaron McGruder of Boondocks and Birth of a Nation.
* Scott Stantis, who launched the conservative-leaning Prickly City this summer and was pranked by what he claimed were political foes
* Lalo Alcaraz of La Cucaracha, whose politically-focused strips cost him at least one major client.
* Gary Groth and Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics, who published political books during the election season
* Garry Trudeau, whose Doonesbury was reinvigorated this year through strips about the cost of war.

It may be that I'm still horrible at this, or the general lack of money among comics people is having an effect on who can give it away, but the only donations I found from that group are from Trudeau. One site reported:
* A $2000 donation to Howard Dean in February 2003 (they attended school together)
* A $2000 donation to John Kerry in May 2004
* A $1750 donation to Democrat Victory 2004 in June 2004
* A $2000 donation to John Kerry in June 2004
* A $2000 donation to John Kerry in September 2004 subsequently refunded

I have no idea what any of that really means, or why another search engine only confirms two of those. Well, I guess it means "take me with a grain of salt" and since I'm goofing off here you shouldn't take this too seriously, either. It's still fun, though. I started to randomly plug in other cartoonists like Mort Walker ($600 total to "Christopher Shays for Congress Committee") but that way lies madness. And a lot of empty results.

Finally, a request for Tim O'Neil: Please include newspaper syndicate people in your executive search.
posted 7:18 am PST | Permalink

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Including Him and His Monkey

An interesting case of inspiration versus plagiarism fuels a controversy that cost a cartoonist a prestigious award in China.

Also worth noting: if any of the 473 American comics awards programs could somehow be renamed "The Golden Monkeys," they would likely become the most popular awards program by a wide, wide margin.
posted 6:44 am PST | Permalink

9 Chickweed Lane to Change Addresses


Here's something you don't see everyday: a comic strip that purports to totally alter its focus after more than 10 years of publication.

Brooke McEldowney's 9 Chickweed Lane, perhaps known best for its use of heavy blacks and its curious, sexually charged atmosphere, is reportedly going to use the implications of the daughter character moving out to become a dancer as a way of shaking up the status quo. I say "reportedly" because the press release has enough of a "wacky cartoonist" tone to it I can't tell exactly how serious the changes are.

While new directions are not unheard of in strip history, particularly in the case of supporting characters like Popeye or Steve Roper or Snuffy Smith coming to the forefront, they are usually not as creatively directed as this effort looks to be.

I also had no idea that McEldowney was doing another strip.
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Nicolas Anspach On May '05 Brussels Museum Opening
Fantagraphics 2005 Offerings by Month
Neil Gaiman Links to a Bunch of Dave Sim Stuff
Apparently, It's Who You Know
Eisner Added to Library Lecture Series
I Think One of These People is Mattotti (via afNEWS)


November 8, 2004

Lark to Marvel Leads Slight Early News Weekend at Wizard World in Texas

Nothing much in the way of interest has leaked back from Wizard World's more modest Texas convention offering by early Monday, except perhaps this news that artist Michael Lark has signed a two-year exclusive with Marvel. It's the kind of off-hand move that draws industry speculation as to motive and effect, speculation that is probably more fun than how the truth bears out.

So... If my memory serves, DC is the one that tends to sign up really talented yet medium-level draws like Lark, which may be a sign of shifting strategies at the House of Ideas. It's with the DC title Gotham Central that Lark has done his most recent work of note, and barring an exception for that title his loss will be felt on those books. One might argue that Lark's more classic illustration style is only suited for a few assignments at Marvel, which will lead to speculation (scroll further down in the above link) about where he will be used. Writer Ed Brubaker recently began work at Marvel, so the signing of one of his favorite artists could be viewed as a vote of confidence for Brubaker and will likely lead to the pair working together there.

Or not.
posted 6:04 am PST | Permalink

Smaller Press Round-Up


A few publishing notes from the smaller press scenes, in case they were missed the first time around.:
* Typocrat Press has pushed back their anticipated debut, an English-language translation of Alex Baldi's Frankenstein Encore et Toujours, into early March, according to the publisher. The company still plans to have copies available for January's Angouleme Fesival.

* Buenaventura Press now has copies of the fifth issue of Kramer's Ergot available for sale. The fourth issue of Sammy Harkham's anthology, featuring a number of newer cartoonists in a massive, fall-off-the-table-and-harm-children sized book, was one of the most talked about releases of 2003. Unlike that year's edition, the new issue from Gingko Press is not rolling out during the busy convention season, but in the Fall, making mail order and shop placement more important.

* The Megan Kelso-edited Scheherazade : Comics About Love, Treachery, Mothers and Monsters from Soft Skull Press had its launch party over the weekend at New York's Bowery Poetry Club. Some of the cartoonists involved will participate in a signing at Jim Hanley's Universe on West 33rd on Thursday the 11th, 5-7 PM.

posted 5:55 am PST | Permalink Pulls Own Pin

The graphic novel advocacy site will stop publishing new content this week, according to an e-mail sent out by managing editor peter!, a founding partner with writers Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick. The site was intended to introduce graphic novels to a wider audience by providing reviews from working writers. It also hosted an on-line column by Ellis, a widely read blog, and the occasional comics feature, such as this effort by Jessica Abel.

Current plans are to have the site's archives remain on-line indefinitely. Contributors included Jamie S. Rich, Gail Simone, and me.
posted 5:43 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Rich Johnston: Zinsmeister on Marvel War Comic
The Ups and Downs of Now Comics
Where to Find Men: The Comics Shop
The "Crappy Comics On the Floor" Look Has a Name
Ginger Meggs Australia's 2004 Comic Strip of the Year Analyzes On-Line Sales Success of Yaoi Books
Ninth Art's O'Brien on Cultural Divide Comics
Superdog Fights Corruption
Milroy on Crumb: We Need Him Bad

November 7, 2004

CR Sunday Magazine

imageAnother hotly contested election season brings to mind a time when comics industry issues were examined with equal fervor. Why Don't We Talk Anymore? looks at several general issues and concepts that seem to be in the air just waiting to be plucked, and makes a case for ongoing deliberation and attention to issues over swings back and forth between willfull ignorance and passionate jeremiads.

As your starter set of "keep in mind" issues may not be our own, we invite you to share anything you think needs to get back on the table via an .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 8:47 am PST | Permalink

Manifestos on the Mind

Several comics-related manifestos stumbled across at various places and various times:

* A Graphic Novelist's Manifesto

* The Rozz Tox Manifesto

* The Failure Manifesto

* The Creator's Bill of Rights

* Nouvelle Manga Manifesto

* The Old Bastard's Manifesto

posted 8:39 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Boris Artzybasheff

imageThe Russian-born illustrator and artist Boris Artzybasheff is a favorite among many cartoonists for the inventiveness of his conceptual work and his pure craft chops. This on-line resource for what looks to be an educational program of some sort loads very slowly, but once onscreen you get a photo and several quality illustrations across styles and themes.

A giant coffeetable book from one of the arts comics publishers seems inevitable.
posted 8:28 am PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

This week's selection of previously published articles:

Bill Mauldin Obituary (2003)
Report from Book Expo 2003 (2003)
Review of Further Grickle (2003)
Pete Millar Obituary (2003)
Tom Sutton Obituary (2002)
posted 8:23 am PST | Permalink

November 6, 2004

CR Week In Review

Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, October 30 to November 5, 2004:

1. Bush Re-Election and General Conservative Lean to National Elections Has CBLDF Worried About Future
2. Marvel Aggressively Expands Book Format Offerings for First Third of '05
3. Warren Ellis Signing Throws Spotlight on Comic Relief's Eviction

imageWinners of the Week
The latest round of Xeric Award recipients, creators who have received grant money to facilitate the publishing of a comics project.

Loser of the Week
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), a free-speech advocacy and publishing rights group that may well face the daunting possibility a more hostile legal landscape for its work in the near-future and a politically touchy constituency when it comes to formulating strategy.

Quote of the Week
"No matter what happens, the one thing I'm confident saying is that protecting Free Speech isn't going to get any easier in the foreseeable future." -- CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein's measured take on Tuesday's election results in the article cited above.

Sample art from Xeric winners Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunalvey
posted 5:36 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Destined for Dizziness!
Ray Volume One
The Intruder
The Complete Peanuts: 1953 to 1954
Yeah, It Is!
posted 5:31 am PST | Permalink

November 5, 2004

Marvel Expands Book Format Offerings

News of Marvel's first few months of trades and hardback releases for 2005 elicited the usual squeals of delight and snarky line-by-line commentary from various portions of the fan community, but the list is a reasonably significant publishing news story for a few reasons:
* It does represent an increase in publishing in these formats; my quick glance at previous years shows Marvel publishing about 7-10 book-format comics in a month. If the release's last line about these books being in addition to the regular trade release schedules, this is a big undertaking.

image* The books seem to take a variety of approaches, grouping by creator, storyline, or even concept/creation as opposed to all of the book reflecting a character emphasis, for example, or current hits. There are even oddities like a collection of Jack Kirby's 1970s Black Panther effort (left).

* None of the books that count on an editor culling for an artist or writer from that person's gigantic backlist seems particularly insulting or politically dubious.

I believe this story came to many people's attention through blogger NeilAlien pointing to the message board in question. I've also seen the list posted in its entirety along with light analysis from people like Christopher Butcher and Heidi MacDonald.
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink

Violent Drifter To Adopt Child

imageThe best thing about this press release from King Features Syndicate as it's reported here isn't the news that some old-timey character is doing something that will get it some media play, but that they actually feel it necessary to tell us that the adoption will take place in the comic strip at the same time, as if the strip is to be altered to match Popeye's real-world doings.

I have no idea where this art came from, so my apologies if it's someone's fan art
posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink

Blah Blah Blah

A Friday round-up of interviews on what is very early-on a pretty dull showing for comics-related news:

image"There are a lot of people who draw and draw very well but don't want to do it to make a living." -- Mainstream comics legend Joe Kubert, interviewed by Robert Faires (art from Yossel pictured)

"Twice I've had guns aimed at me, point blank, as in shoved against my temple, in anger, where I was sure I was going to die." -- Comics writer Christopher Priest, interviewed by Joe Casey

"Mr. McGruder is actually a cabal of leftist professors in Berkeley, Calif., working with a hired artist." -- Strip cartoonist Berkeley Breathed interviewed by Steve Greenlee

"It was like I was Elvis Presley's illegitimate son." -- Editorial and strip cartoonist Doug Marlette interviewed by Jim Schlosser
posted 6:58 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Taiwan Comics Publishers Frankfurt Fair Report
Bill Liebowitz Profiled
Webcomics 101
Steve Lafler's Next Project Gets Press Release
Local Cartoonist Profile: Jay Howell
Roots of Comics: Paris Ukiyo-e Exhibit
Digital Manga: Your Home for Yaoi
$10 Million Lucca Museum to Anchor Future Festivals
Scottsdale to Host Dr. Seuss Exhibit

November 4, 2004

Keenspot’s Print Program Gets Noticed


Dave Astor at Editor and Publisher takes note of the new program by webcomics site Keenspot that provides an advertising-driven free print comics supplement to a newspaper in California.

The story touches on two big issues facing newspapers: the high costs of running traditional print comics, and the growing popularity of target supplements as a way of providing content. Keenspot's comics page includes some strips familiar to fans of the site such as Matt Milligan's Lost and Found (pictured) as well as some new offerings developed specifically for the project.

Other comics providers have been rumored to be developing or to have once developed a similar supplement project. Astor's article should draw attention to the project from the bulk of the American newspaper business.
posted 7:04 am PST | Permalink

Wizard Announces Boston Show

imageWizard Entertainment Group, the company responsible for the mega-successful magazine Wizard and its related publications, announced Wednesday its intentions to launch a fifth show in its popular series of comic book and pop culture conventions. Boston will follow shows in Chicago, Philadelphia, Southern California and the soon-to-launch Dallas.

Wizard began with an initial strategy that placed shows in cities where comics conventions once held sway, beginning with the takeover of Chicago's then-ailing traditional show. If rumors of interest in Seattle are correct, geographical coverage may now also be an issue. has a succinct wrap-up with links to past articles.
posted 7:01 am PST | Permalink

Hilary Price to Open Studio; John Rose to Exhibit Art

I'm not sure why I find this interesting, but King Features points out on their pressroom calendar that Hilary Price of Rhymes With Orange will be opening up her studio for one of those local open house tour-thingies. One can only imagine typical cartoonist gems like, "This is the phone where I won the local NPR contest 38 days in a row" or "That's the cabinet I hide behind when I want the Fed Ex person to come back later." Scroll down a bit and you find John Rose of Snuffy Smith will have his work exhibited in Augusta, Georgia.
posted 6:09 am PST | Permalink

How (Some) Comic Books Are Done Right Now

imageThe mainstream comic book industry-focused news site Newsarama offers up six penciled sketches from a forthcoming Marvel Comics projects that provides a quick object lesson in how some publishers are doing business right now.
* New Avengers #1 is a re-launch, where the old Avengers title was brought to a conclusion of sorts and revived with this title, hopefully with beneficial sales as a result.

* The drawings are intended for variant covers, a strategy whereby a company offers a variety of different front covers on the same comic book in order to appeal to a collector's desire to have them all. Many feels this creates an unecessary strain to place on the comic shop retail system and distorts actual interest in whatever project at hand.

* Finally, the characters depicted here by Adi Granov are of interest because one, Spider-Woman, is related to the most important general license Marvel has (Spider-Man), and the other, Luke Cage, is scheduled for an upcoming movie adaptation. This may or may not indicate a way in which movie and licensing decisions have an effect on comic book content.

All rights to Marvel Enterprises for this drawing and the characters.
posted 6:07 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Aaron McGruder Demands Appreciation... as a Punk
Local Cartoonist Profile: Todd Luck
Book: Fandom's Role in Growth of Anime/Manga
Evan Dorkin Reacts to Election
Round-Up of Manga/Anime Jobs
Vegas' Mike Smith: Most Accurate Election Predictor
Egon: Gary Panter to Release Custom Art Book
Depuis and Dargaud/Lombard Fuse Some Operations

November 3, 2004

Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF on American Election Results and the Next Four Years

imageIf there is any organization within comics likely to bear the brunt of a change in the national political mood and any resulting policy, it is the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), a non-profit organization dedicated to the principles of free speech as it relates to the various United States' comic book industries and its creator-participants.

Executive Director Charles Brownstein answered our request for an initial reaction, and gives his first impression on the implications November 2's voting might have on the Fund and comics in general both in the near future and beyond.

"Overall I find the results of this election deeply troubling. Though at the time of this writing we haven't yet heard Bush's acceptance speech, pundits have been declaring that Bush's popular vote margin is a clear mandate in favor of his policies. The various networks have shown data suggesting that over 20 percent of voters made their voting decision based on moral values. These two bits of information suggest trouble ahead for mature content.

"Specifically, considering Renquist's fragile health, it's safe to say the second Bush administration will be selecting at least one Supreme Court Justice. Pundits suggest that there will be more than that. While I have hope that the Senate will only confirm moderate judges, I fear that an enboldened Bush administration will attempt to appoint less moderate judges. Considering that the Supreme Court has been taking fewer and fewer First Amendment cases in recent years, I fear that the next high Court will be even less likely to take on First Amendment cases. I also fear that across the board we'll see fewer moderate appointments to the Federal bench.

"What troubles me more as regards CBLDF issues, is that a second Bush administration operating under the presumption of a popular mandate augurs a Justice Department that will more vigorously pursue the prosecution of content. Presently Justice employs Bruce Taylor as Porn Czar, a man who has expressed a willingness to prosecute adult material more vigorously than it has been prosecuted. The moral values voters have been calling for increased prosecution of such material since the 2000 election, and the next Justice Department will have the opportunity, and may presume a mandate, to answer that call.

"I also am concerned that we'll see legal action involving provisions of the PROTECT Act dictating that content depicting minors engaged in sexual conduct, even if no actual minor is involved, can be prosecuted as actual child pornography. This bodes dangerously for works by authors such as Phoebe Gloeckner, whose books have been challenged, and in some cases actually banned from libraries; Ariel Schrag, who creates autobiographical comics that frankly address a teenager's sexual coming of age; as well as Craig Thompson, Will Eisner, and others whose work treads similar territory. I don't think that A Contract With God is going to be first on the censors' list, but I fear that the possibility exists. Beyond that, I have fears that certain manga will be prosecuted for similar reasons.

"Beyond these concerns about matters on the federal level, I have deeper fears about what can happen on the local level. As more of this country votes red, and as local laws concerning the display of content that enjoys First Amendment protection for adults increase, I fear that we could see a return to local prosecution of content that harkens back to the late 80s and early 90s when the Fund was fighting several cases and near-cases per year.

"Bear in mind that I'm discussing worst-case scenarios, but we need to consider these scenarios fully in order to adequately protect the First Amendment rights of the comics field. Nobody knows what's going to happen come January, but with an emboldened administration voted in by a morally motivated electorate, there is the potential for the culture to shift back to the pre-Clinton days where prosecution of protected speech was much more of an issue than it has been in recent years.

"No matter what happens, the one thing I'm confident saying is that protecting Free Speech isn't going to get any easier in the foreseeable future."

Although Brownstein did NOT ask this site to post such information, you can read more about the CBLDF, including memberships, by visiting this site.
posted 1:04 pm PST | Permalink

Now Get to Work: New Xeric Foundation Winners Announced


I found a list of new Xeric Award winners on this great blog/site by Christopher Butcher, who among is other accomplishmens is a valued employee of the great Toronto comic shop The Beguiling.

The Xeric Foundation gives grants to comics creators who apply for the purpose of self-publishing a comic book. It was founded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, who self-published his own work. It has always been a particularly attractive award to young cartoonists. Some use the finished comic or graphic novel as a calling card with which to secure a relationship with a publisher, while others have utilized it as a starting point for further efforts of and on their own. Xeric awards have been an important career catalyst for many cartoonists who emerged in the mid to late 1990s, including Tom Hart, Jessica Abel and Nick Bertozzi.

The latest winners and their projects are as follows. I tried to link either to the creator's web site or a site that features information about them, or at least to work by them. Okay, I'm pretty much guessing, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Andrew Drozd: Coexisting
Ryan Dunlavey & Fred Van Lente: Action Philosophers!
David Heatley: Deadpan #2
Nick Jeffrey: Centerfield
Craig McKenney & Rick Geary: The Brontes: Infernal Angria #1
Fay Ryu: HELLO
Rob Sato: Burying Sandwiches

More information on the Xeric Foundation can be had through their handy site.

You could also write:

Xeric Foundation
351 Pleasant Street #214
Northampton, MA 01060

Or send .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Information about the total monies distributed and the next deadline will be added to this story as soon as I see a release.

Art from an unrelated graphic novel by Ryu.
posted 7:21 am PST | Permalink

New Set of Comics Awards Announced; Country Music Vows to Regain Lead

The Web Comic List is one of those sites through which you can more easily access erratically updated on-line content, in this case webcomics.

I know very little about its recently announced awards, although a quick look gives me a feeling it's more People's Choice than Festival Jury.

The awards page offers easy click-through to explanations of every winner and high finisher; my links hopefully go straight to them.

imageThe Web Comic List's 2004 Webcomic Awards

Best Overall Comic: Ctrl-Alt-Delete
Best Use of Humor: 8-Bit Theater
Best Drawing Style: MegaTokyo
Best Website: Penny Arcade
Best Concept For a Comic: Little Gamers
posted 6:48 am PST | Permalink

I Read a Press Release So You Don’t Have To: Fantagraphics Newsletter

Publishing news and appearance highlights worth culling from the latest edition of the Fantagraphics Newsletter Volume V #7, a publicity sheet that may take a long, long time to be archived on the art-comics publisher's site:

* Dan Clowes talks about his computer for a television commercial, which isn't publishing news but it's fun to type.

* Cartoonist Jason will appear in the Pacific Northwest at Portland's CounterMedia (11/4), and Olympia's Danger Room Comics (11/6, 1-4 pm). The first hour will be a presentation of some sort.

* Author Bob Levin of The Pirates and the Mouse will appear at the Radnor Memorial Library in Wayne, Pennsylvania (11/3, 7:30-9 pm)

* Some Peter Bagge work will eventually appear or be accessible through here.

posted 6:42 am PST | Permalink

Blah Blah Blah

A few nuggets of gold to be mined from the weekly wave of comics-related interviews, news stories, and columns:

image* Joe Casey's talk with fellow comics writer Mike Baron shifts into a more compelling gear when talk turns to Baron's career path and its downsides. Baron: "I used coke to write stories."

* Berkeley-based retailer Rory Root speaks more fully on the record about store Comic Relief's impending move.

* The top of writer Steven Grant's new column offers up an interesting take on 1950s mainstream American comic books.

* This wide-ranging, chatty piece with Chris Blythe and Steve Parkhouse contains two creators' ground-level view of the industry, particularly in Great Britain.
posted 6:23 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Francesco Gerbaldo Photographs Lucca Festival
Cambodian Comics Exhibit Features Cool Art
Curator Backstory to Supers-Heavy Comics Art Exhibit
Editorial Cartoonist Afforded Page on Election Day
Local Cartoonist Profile: Bob Crabb

November 2, 2004

Just-Announced Warren Ellis Signing to Support Re-Location of Comic Relief

imageWriter Warren Ellis (Ultimate Fantastic Four, Planetary, the forthcoming Iron Man) has announced a signing at comics retailer Comic Relief, to be held Thursday, November 4 from 5 to 7 PM, a event that becomes noteworthy for its underlying cause. According to information quickly passed around on-line in comics-related message boards and chat rooms by sources close to the store, the important Berkeley-based comic shop is moving from its present location after being evicted by its landlord.

imageIn a message board posting at the web site owned by comics trade magazine The Comics Journal, Comic Relief owner Rory Root (pictured) notes that the store was up to date on rent payments but is moving by choice of the building owner. He also notes that lease negotiations for a new location are ongoing.

Comic Relief may be best known in the Bay Area comics market and within the comic book industry as an exemplar of the "comics bookstore" comic shop, with a greater emphasis on trades and collections over magazine and periodicals. This model for retail has resulted in Comic Relief carrying an enormous and eclectic catalog, making it a destination store, an anchor of the industry showcase San Diego convention, and a place of last resort for researchers or artists seeking an out of print volume or twenty.

As many comic shops have increased their trade paperback and collection offerings as the popularity of more permanent formats has grown, Comic Relief has been an important resource for initiatives such as selling directly to libraries. Root is a frequent speaker on industry issue at conventions, including appearances on panels at the 2003 Book Expo America spotlight on comics publishing.

Although the store has yet to make a direct appeal to comics fans on behalf of the costs incurred by the forthcoming move, fans of the store have been encouraged to come out on Thursday 5-7 pm or to pick up something for the holiday season via a visit, on-line avenues, or simply over the phone mail order. Check here for store location and to see a bigger version of the screen shot above.

Photo by Whit Spurgeon
posted 6:28 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Sues Disney for Copyrights

Reuters has a nice, concise write-up on Marvel Enterprises' continued legal actions vis-a-vis the appearance of cartoons featuring characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men on a Disney owned cable channel, Fox Family. Whereas the past lawsuit was for lost revenue due to accounting and poor property management, this claim built upon discovery made during that earlier claim is that rights for the cartoons did not transfer to Disney when they bought the network on which they appeared.

Although this has very little direct effect on comics publishing, the aggressive manner in which Marvel is pursuing action against a heavy hitter like Disney is worth noting for proof of Marvel's growing status as an entertainment licensing holder of weight, and for its indication of how highly Marvel values proper exploitation of their comic-book based properties.

posted 6:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: X-Mas Issue of Pilote

imageIf I'm reading this correctly, on November 10 Dargaud will publish a special issue of the seminal comics magazine Pilote for the 2004 holiday season, featuring this Juanjo Guarnido cover and promising readers appearances by many of the core hits from the magazine's long and esteemed run. A surprisingly long history of the magazine and its importance can be found via Lambiek.

Although entire civilizations could colonize the vast stretch of wasteland that is my knowledge of European comics without my ever once knowing it, this feature seems worth a look.

Speaking of Pilote, I either missed or ignored the 45th birthday of the Asterix series in August, although it wasn't like I was going to buy it a gift or anything. As those of you North American readers of a certain age may remember, the extremely popular series was also one of the first sets of European comics stories to be translated for American audiences and made widely available in bookstores. You can easily access some Asterix stuff through this site.
posted 6:11 am PST | Permalink

Achewood and Checker Part Ways

The on-line strip Achewood, popular among readers of web cartoons and alternative comics fans, has announced a parting of the ways with Checker Book Publishing Group, the aggressive niche publisher of strip and superhero comics. In a press release on his site, Chris Onstad cites "differences of opinion over the project's creative direction" and says the split was amicable. As of early morning November 2, Checker still had both books available for order.

Onstad and Checker inked a two-volume book deal in July. The first book was scheduled to appear this month and seemed to be on time from a production standpoint.

The well-received Achewood self-published volumes remain available through Onstad. Due to the strip's continued popularity on-line, the announcement of another print deal seems likely.

Thanks to tipster Dirk Deppey
posted 6:04 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Biography Series of Cartoonists Planned
Rosa, Matt, Thompson Added to Angouleme Attendees
Nathan Sets Baltimore Comic-Con Date
Jeff Parker, Tony Esteves Profiles
Happy B-day, Strange Point Thing of Japan Pop Culture
Like a Garage Sale, but Everyone's a Nerd
Cartoonists Among Those Predicting Results

November 1, 2004

Bagge: No Incorrigible Hulk?

imageLate in the body of cartoonist Peter Bagge's Halloween weekend press release comes this nugget about the potential fate of his comedic one-shot on Marvel Enterprises' green-skinned superhero:
"My Marvel HULK one shot comic, which based on the total non-response I've been getting from The House of Ideas lately tells me it will NEVER appear. SOB!"

Speculation about the project's delay had been tied into Marvel protecting a certain view of he character given recent movie and licensing efforts, but the book was largely believed to be published at some future date. Marvel recently announced a sequel to the somber box office disappointment Hulk movie, and many comics industry believe the comics books may be generally put more into line with the versions of the characters that appear in Marvel's movies.

Bagge's other forthcoming projects include a short for Tom Strong and a new Hate Annual.
posted 7:58 am PST | Permalink

2168 Down, 1832 to Go: The Norm Extends Its Deadline

There will be another two months for The Norm to potentially find a new home. Nicole Jantze, the wife of cartoonist Michael, announced through the strip's Web site the extension of a subscription drive by which her husband hopes to continue his strip on a Web-only basis

Jantze withdrew his long-running newspaper strip from print syndication on September 12, following several years of successful but not overwhelming sales and interest from newspaper editors.

imageThe subscription offer is not the first time Jantze has reached into different arenas for comics in search of a potential sales boost. Jantze's humor strip about a laidback bachelor and then, later, young married, had previously been collected into various book formats in order to reach a wider audience in markets the strip had not yet reached. That effort reportedly met with some modest success in terms of additional newspaper sales, and made Jantze one of the better-known strip creators among comic book shop and convention audiences.

Because the strip had become a popular on-line destination in a way that suggested appeal beyond its newspaper saturation, as the strip faded from print Jantze's wife Nicole announced a plan by which Jantze would continue the strip if they could find 4000 members for a subscription service, with varying rewards for increased sponsorship and a basic price of $25. A deadline of November 1 by which to meet their goal was originally set, but last week it was extended to January 1, Jantze citing the steady way in which subscriptions were beginning to come in and the potential hook of the upcoming gift-buying season.

The web site currently reports that 2168 memberships were sold.

If the subscription program is successful and Jantze returns to new episodes of his strip, it may be an important step in two ways: as an alternative for other newspaper strips with a modest client list but small number of more fervent fans, and as a development in on-line pay models for comics content.
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink

Brian Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and Michel Rabagliati Among Prize Winners at European Festivals

Two noteworthy European comics festivals concluded their 2004 editions by handing out their awards over the weekend. This year's lists included prizes to several names and works familiar to North American audience: Drawn and Quarterly's Michel Rabagliati, Marvel's Alias team of Brain Bendis and Michael Gaydos, and Joann Sfar.

Rather than wait for the English press releases like a sensible person, here's the best I can make out by staring at the words on various sites for a really long time and repeating them to myself with an accent. I blame American isolationism and my public school education for any mistakes.

Lucca Comics & Games 2004 (Comics Awards Only)

imageLucca Comics menzione speciale per un'iniziativa editoriale meritoria (a special award for "Publishing Initiative"): Scuola di Fumetto, Edita da Francesco Coniglio Editore; Alta Fedelta, Edita da edizioni BD

Gran Guinigi per la miglior storia breve (Best Short Story): Paul Appredista Tipografo, Michel Rabagliati

Gran Guinigi per la miglior storia lunga (Best Longer Story): Alias #1 -- Identita Segrete, Brian Bendis and Michael Gaydos

Gran Guinigi per il Miglior Fumetto Seriale (Best Serialized Comic Strip or Simply Comics Story): Monster, Naoki Urasawa

1 Concorso per Giovani Autori Money Money! (Young Authors Competition): Marco Gasparetti di Roma, "Zippo e la resa dei conti"

Gran Guinigi per il Miglior Disegnatore (Design): Andrea Accradi

Gran Guinigi per il miglior Sceneggiatore (Writing): Tito Faraci

Premio Speciale della Giuria per un Autore Completo (Cartoonist): Joann Sfar

Premio Speciale della Giuria ad un Autore che ha lasciato il segno e continua a farlo (sort of a Career Achievement maybe?): Massimo Mattioli (work pictured above)

Les Festival De Saint-Malo

Grand Prix (the festival's Grand Prize): Jean-Pierre Gibrat

Ballon Rouge (a prize for Young Author): Daphne Collignon of Le Reve de Pierre

Petit Robert (a prize for Scriptwriting): Olivier Jouvray of Lincoln
posted 7:23 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Negima Hits Book Scan Top; Spigelman, Gaiman Slide
Soundtrack for Marvel's Blade to Include Manga
Newspaper Asked to Run Potentially Offensive Cartoons
Seven Seas Launches GoManga
Restaurant Features Manga, Fabulous Spaghetti
Local Cartoonist Profile: Sam Hiti
Language in Doonesbury Alarms Papers
Dilbert's Dream House
Sandwalk Adventures As a "Rebuke" to Creationism
Korea's Wonsoo Yi Holds Western Exhibition
Hogan Now "Hulkster" Until Marvel Dispute Clears Up


Daily Blog Archives
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
Full Archives