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

February 28, 2005

Would you Pay $131,000 for This Page?


Someone e-mail if I have the decimal point wrong, but it seems that the above original page from Herge's Tintin series went for over $131,000 (US) to an unnamed bidder in a recent auction, according to reports on various European comics sites. The page is from 1939, and is in the "Sceptre d'Ottokar" story. According to the news brief, the bidder is unknown to cartooning and collecting circles.

That would seem to absolve Albert Uderzo, who as the ninth biggest money-winner in France certainly could afford it. The 77-year-old cartoonist and talent behind Asterix made the list on the heels of a massive royalty check and some work with an amusement park. He earned just under 10 million Euros last year, or as the report had it, more than the combined salaries of Jean-Jacques Goldman, Jean Reno and Gerard Depardieu.
posted 6:01 am PST | Permalink

PW: CCS to Publish With Hyperion

imageKevin Melrose breaks down a story in the latest issue of Publishers Weekly that indicates James Sturms' Center for Cartoon Studies will be packaging comics to publish with Hyperion. First up in Fall 2006: a Nick Bertozzi-drawn biography of Harry Houdini to be written by Sturm and cartoonist Jason Lutes. Lutes' first major work, Jar of Fools, featured a pair of magicians; both Sturm and Bertozzi have worked on historically-based comics. The partnership calls for two books a year.

Also from Mr. Melrose, an astute pick-up on discrepancies between statements by Joe Quesada and press release info regarding a recent hire on the subject of Marvel's interest in the production of original graphic novels.

Seth's depiction of the town in which the Center is located, in the 1920s. From their web site.
posted 5:48 am PST | Permalink

English-Language Manga Beyond U.S.

This rambling message board thread at gives a lot of decent first-hand accounts about the status of English-language manga outside of the U.S. marke. The most interesting nugget is the suggestion that Diamond may be ignoring the wishes of a few of its publishers by providing manga to accounts in Great Britain.
posted 5:44 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Thief Steals Comic Books; Deputy Loads Bullet Into Gun
Neil Alien Blog Turns 5; Wong Bakes Cake
Local Cartoonist Profile: Tony Harris
Wiley Miller Criticizes George Will
Anthropomorphic Festival Slotted for Bastia
Laugh While You Can Tour: Hart, Sorensen, Kreider
Mr. Dithers Round-Up
That's Some Photo
Cartoonist Owns Ugly Sweater
Ted Rall Doesn't Like Conservative Blogs
Admiral Bauman, Obsessive Strip Collector (SR)
Mallard Fillmore Takes on FDR
Jeffrey Brown Profiled
Scott Adams Discusses Dilbert House
Kids Learn About Memorial Day Through Comics

February 27, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Reading a bunch of writing on comic book shops vs. bookstores has reminded me of the strange emotional content that often drives such discussion. Thus, A Few Words on the Latest Round of Bookstore/Comic Shop Chatter.
posted 7:05 pm PST | Permalink

February 26, 2005

Go, Read: Joe Sacco in Iraq


The Guardian has an eight-page Joe Sacco story available via this page on its site in what seems to be a massive PDF.

It's worth the wait.
posted 9:58 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty on another book in the Expresso line, Gregory Mardon's Incognito: Victimes Parfaites.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, February 19 to February 25, 2005:

1. Turkish cartoonists unite in objection to a legal ruling against one of their own for a cartoon depicting the Prime Minister, a man who has engendered some journalistic reforms but routinely sues the press.

2. Essayist and author Hunter S. Thompson, an icon of late 20th century popular culture and an influential figure in comics circles, dies from self-inflicted gunshot wound.

3. Little Sisters loses access to funding with which the Vancouver store planned to fight Canadian Customs concerning its practice of keeping certain books from entering that country.

Winner of the Week
Creators, for its eyebrow-raising showing on a recent awards nominee list.

Loser of the Week
Print, given a vote of no-confidence by its current caretakers.

Quote of the Week
"Someone asked what we were up to. 'Oh, just looking at the boats,' said Hunter. Then he whispered: 'We've got to get out of here Ralph, we must flee. We've failed. We've failed, Ralph.' He set off two distress flares in the harbour and set fire to some boats to cause a distraction so we could get away, which meant going to a coffee bar and pretending we were ordinary people." -- Illustrator Ralph Steadman in The Guardian, on working with Hunter S. Thompson.

Cartoon from Chip Bok, one of Creators' editorial cartoonists.

posted 7:16 am PST | Permalink

Extras, PR and Other Raw Material

PR -- Brodie's Law Release: Brodie.doc
PR -- IDW PR on Metal Gear Solid: IDW_PR.doc
EX -- Top Shelf Newsletter: TopShelfNewsletter0205.doc
PR -- Alias Lethal Instinct Release: Lethalinstinctpr.doc
PR -- Marvel Release: Marvel_PR.doc
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

February 25, 2005

Bill Yoshida, 1921-2005

Comics historian, writer and essayist Mark Evanier has posted word that longtime Archie Comic Publications letterer Bill Yoshida passed away last week. Evanier notes the span and general shape of Yoshida's career, which began in the late 1960s. The industry veteran was nominated for the Eisners' lettering awards in 1996 and 1999. Additional information will be posted here if any is received.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

Creators Leads Opinion Award Nominees


Although it's a very new award, and I really can't judge its import, it's interesting to note that Creators has three of the finalists in the second annual Opinion Awards' editorial cartoonist category. I didn't even know Luckovich was with Creators, so I think that might be new. Copley News Service has another, which makes Tom Toles of Universal the only cartoonist with one of the more traditionals given the nod. The nominees:

Chip Bok of the Akron Beacon Journal (Creators)
Steve Kelley of The Times-Picayune (Creators)
Mike Luckovich of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Creators)
Gary Markstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Copley News Service)
Tom Toles of The Washington Post (Universal Press Syndicate)

Cartoon from Steve Kelley, the cartoonist on this list with whom I'm the least famliar.
posted 7:23 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Otto Gabos

posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink

Citizen Melrose Notes Crime Spree

Concerned citizen Kevin Melrose at Thought Balloons has been tracking a comics-related crime spree with funny commentary I won't try to replicate here. Flashing lights on the big crime map in Steve Geppi's office (I'm guessing on that) include North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona, and Tokyo. It's probably a good sign if people are stealing comics again, although a bad sign that fencing them seems to bring back pennies on the dollar.
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink

Peter Bagge Interviewed as Seattle Icon

imageCartoonist Peter Bagge compares Seattle then and now as part of a series of interviews with "icons," which the Seattle P-I defines as people who were around before the mid-1990s. "Even in the alternative cartooning scene that I'm in ... a lot of young cartoonists came here right out of college. I don't know what they thought was going to happen, that some fairy dust would be sprinkled on them and they would become rich."
posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Neal Adams Joins Messner-Loebs Efforts
Ted Rall Vs.
Sierre Not Thrilled about Lausanne Festival
New Doonesbury Book: 2004 Amputee Storyline
ShaBot6000's Speaking Voice Brings Joy
Objection to Raeburn Claim Re: Chris Ware
Personalized Comics Pages: Limit Our View?
Mandarake Business Breakdown: Otaku Emphasis
Local Business Profile: Coliseum of Comics
Cartoonists Challenge Each Other to Daily Grind
ANN Seeks Manga Reviewer
Dark Horse Ends 3 X 3 Eyes Series

February 24, 2005

Turkish Artists Protest Legal Action

imageIn a story of cartoonist solidarity with political ramifications, the Turkish Cartoonists Association has gathered in Istanbul to protest a lawsuit filed by the prime minister against a cartoonist. Last week a court returned a $3500 charge against Cumhuriyet, the newspaper that in May ran Musa Kart's cartoon featuring Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a cat in a ball of yarn. It is one of more than 50 lawsuits filed by the prime minister against the press. Another cartoonist, Sefer Seli, was previously convicted and fined.

The cartoonists hope to add to international pressure to keep Erdogan from impeding what they feel is free speech, a potentially useful political lever because of Turkey's attempts to join the European Union. Strangely, Erdogan has enabled any number of journalism reforms since taking office.

Here's an article about the recent decision.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink Releases their January 2005 Direct Market Numbers and Analysis

imageThe comics business analysis site has stepped up with their usual array of numbers and analysis concerning the direct market of comic shops and hobbie stores. This includes their general news story, an analysis story, a list of top 300 comics with the site's arrived-at numbers, and a similar list featuring the top 100 graphic novels. The slight declines continue, Marvel enjoys top of chart dominance while DC catches its breath between mega-series, and retailers like manga if Dark Horse sells it. can offer monthly numbers that go back several years, which means it's easy to start to notice things. Like comparing January 2002 to January 2005: the number of comics selling over 70,000 and over 50,000 seems to have stayed the same or gone up slightly, but the numbers on comics selling over 20,000 and over 10,000 have gone down. The sales of the #25 and #50 comic have stayed relatively the same, but the number of comics sold by the 100th best selling comic have gone down. The lower part of the comics market seems to be dropping off and spreading out.

Cover art from New Avengers #2; the king of comic books.
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: New Dr. Master Releases

Like the perpetually troubled teen given to sudden dye jobs on a bad soap opera, the company essentially formally known as ComicsOne announced a slew of future releases, giving almost none of them release dates and not including the most popular title available to it. Heidi MacDonald goes into some of why this is weird here, and a quick scan of this article will clue you into how baffling this company has played it for a while now.
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Edmond Baudoin

posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

Lausanne to Pursue Its Own Festival

When the Sierre Festival looked like it was over for good, a few other Swiss cities stepped up to profess interest in hosting the 50,000-plus comics festival, perhaps the second most importan in Europe. One such city was Lausanne, who apparently got used to the idea to the extent that now that Sierre is back on track in that city for 2006 they're now interested in doing a show of their own.
posted 7:04 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Claiming Mr. Dithers as a Positive
Brussels Shop Plumbs Past for Worthy Reprints
Wordless Comics Sought for Olympics Publication
Tokyopop's Library Market Bestsellers

February 23, 2005

Former Cartoonist Accuses Churchill of Once Having Curtailed His Free Speech

In one of the odder jump-in-and-add-ons to an ongoing political hot-button issue, Grant Crowell, a one-time campus cartoonist, has charged the controversial professor Ward Churchill of not supporting his right to free expression while he was a student at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in 1994. The charge surfaced as part of heated debate about Churchill being invited back to Hawaii to speak.

According to this article in the Rocky Mountain News, Churchill, visiting for a speech back then, joined a chorus of educators and students decrying a Crowell cartoon as racist, putting pressure on editors and administrators to punish Crowell in some way.

Leaving aside the continent's worth of emotional issues regarding Churchill, what's interesting to me is that Crowell claims Churchill compared him to Phillippe Rupprecht, a cartoonist who did anti-Semitic drawings for the loathesome Nazi paper Der Sturmer, of which you can see a few here, and asserted that Crowell's fate and Rupprecht's may be similar, meaning, Crowell assumed, death by hanging.

The Rocky Mountain News points out it was Julius Streicher and not Rupprecht who was hanged after the war tribunal, but still, it's hard to imagine speech more strident than what Crowell accuses Churchill of using (even though roughly the same accusation has popped up elsewhere), and it's doubly hard to imagine any cartoonist simply more obscure than Rupprecht popping up in the news at all. I mean, what's next, a major newspaper profile of Hak Vogrin?
posted 9:10 am PST | Permalink

UG Comix Pioneer Hak Vogrin Profiled

The Newark Star Ledger checks in with Hak Vogrin on the occasion of his participation in a New York group show and finds a very engaged 84-year-old artist and activist living a fruitful if not ever quite contented life in one of those nice parts of New Jersey that rarely gets mentioned in stand-up comedy.

imageVogrin was a contributor to Yellow Dog and The Realist (as an illustrator), and looks to have done at least one solo comic with Print Mint called The Captain. I'm not great with underground comix history, but I find Vogrin's age interesting. He's about 20 years older than Robert Crumb, and I wasn't aware of a lot of participation from older artists in that first wave of UG publishing. It also sort of looks like his cartoon art was more reminiscent of Herb Gardner cocktail napkin type art than other cartoonists of that period.

It looks like you can get a movie or two about Vogrin here. You can read a biography here and view some of his more recent work here.
posted 9:04 am PST | Permalink

Brussels To Feature Travel Drawings

I'm not sure this is newsworthy beyond it being very cool-sounding and one of those significant differences between celebration of the art form here and abroad, but if I'm reading this article correctly, the upcoming comics festival in Brussels will feature as part of its "travel" theme an original project whereby ten cartoonists were sent to different world locations, with the drawings they make to be presented at the festival with descriptive accompaniment.

The heavy-hitting line-up: Jose Munoz in Paris, Christophe Blain in Teheran, Francois Boucq in Mexico, Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian in Tangiers, Nicolas de Crecy in Recife (Brazil), Andre Juillard in the U.S., Jacques de Loustal in the Marquesas Islands, Lorenzo Mattotti in Angkor (Cambodia), Francois Schuiten in Mt. Fuji and Moebius in Luxor (Egypt).
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

Wizard Edge Now Special Section

imageWizard Edge, the popular mainstream magazine and convention company's independent comics focused publication, will now be an insert in a Wizard movie magazine. Wizard Edge has been praised by some industry observers as a gateway magazine for young mainstream comics fans and criticized by others for its, well, unique perspective on what makes up non-mainstream American comic books. I'm sure there are arguments why the move to insert status is a good thing (more people will read it) and a bad thing (it's an insert now).
posted 8:46 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Marvel Revises Comic Book Rating System
Steve Duin Compares Comics and Books
This Young Man Grew to Hate Comic Books
Inventors Receive Comic Series
Mark Evanier Reviews Gerard Jones' Book
How to Kick People Event in NYC Tonight

February 22, 2005

Steadman on Thompson’s Passing

imageIt took me a bit more searching than expected to find it, but here's an article featuring illustrator Ralph Steadman's reflections on the passing of writer Hunter S. Thompson. Their collaborations were among the best of their kind.

If you scroll down a bit on this message board thread, you can read about alternative comics publisher Gary Groth's brief encounters with Thompson.

The writer Warren Ellis, whose comic book series Transmetropolitan featured a lead character inspired by Thompson, has written a nice piece about the writer's passing for his on-line journal.
posted 7:57 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Hibbs on Bookscan Numbers

Retailer Brian Hibbs' rolled-up sleeves march through a couple sets of Bookscan Numbers does a pretty good job of 1) throwing cold water on certain broad assertions made on the bookstore market's behalf and 2) giving the attentive reader a look into the mindset of at least one comics retailer vis-a-vis that market. However, there are so many caveats offered and tricks of rhetoric employed that it's hard to see this as a definitive statement of any kind; I'm not even sure it's a positive step towards such an understanding.

I don't blame Brian, though. The problem with sorting through pro-direct market and pro-bookstore arguments is that so much of it is willfully uninformed, although in some cases it's the institutions that are withholding information and propagating nonsense, and in some cases it's just some guys on the Internet or in print making stronger claims than they should -- I'm a little bit more sympathetic to the latter. But bascially, when I read Brian claiming that "it's clear that there's still lots of life (and growth!) left in the DM," I can't imagine he heard differently from anyone who matters.

I mean, is there really any conflict here beyond an exercise in combative rhetoric? I would imagine publishers are happy to sell wherever they can, and don't really care where those sales come from, and in fact would prefer to have as many venues as possible. Am I wrong?
posted 7:24 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Mjau Beibi


Note: You can keep hitting "next" from the linked-to point. There are #s 1-9, but you have to insert zeroes to make it "01" and "04" and so on.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

Blah Blah Blah

image"Because of my social situation, it wasn't so much cool but it was my thing. It made me unique and it was accepted among my friends, you know, when we were hanging around summer camp and it was a rainy day, everyone would read my comics, and we ended up sitting around and talking about them all day. It wasn't anything they gravitated to, but it would be a fun afternoon or something. They respected me for it, didn't shun me for it. But I'm sure that if I went to public school I would be the nerdy loser that no one spoke to, who ate paper." Brian Bendis, in a snippet cut from his forthcoming interview in The Comics Journal.

image"Ce media presente sans doute de grands potentiels, mais comme je suis encore loin d'avoir developpe tous les miens avec les moyens classiques... Je prefere continuer ma voie, ma poetique, poursuivre mon propre delire..." The great Lorenzo Mattotti in something related to A Suivre giving on-line media its due but suggesting that may not be the place for him as he hasn't even mastered his own medium of choice yet.

image"I'm not really sure what it is that people react to. I hope it's the honesty. I don't know if there really is a common element to the reactions, but they are usually strong. It still surprises me, really, because this is just how I draw and what I love, and it's amazing that other people love it too." -- Andy Runyon to Gerhard on reader responses to his Owly.
posted 6:56 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty on Nicolas De Crecy's new one, Salvatore: Transports amoureux.
posted 6:54 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
The Adventures of Captain Kalashnikov
Segura Stepping Back from Great Curve Site
Dudu Geva Remembered
Local Cartoonist Profile: Kathryn LeMieux
Mr. T's Effective Sales Spiel
Andrew Arnold on Four Immigrants Manga
Figure for Size of American Manga Market
Visiting Cartoonist Profile: Ron Garney
Update on "Comic Book Project"
Lack of Cartoons a Sign of Political Deal?

February 21, 2005

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

Art Spiegelman reacts to his upcoming participation in Lafayette College's freshman orientation, after some students have objected to the required reading of In the Shadow of No Towers.
posted 2:05 pm PST | Permalink

Recent Boondocks Strip Altered, Pulled?

posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

Can you solve…

... this Phantom mystery?
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink

Little Sisters Loses Fight Funding

imageAccording to a wire article that appeared on Friday, the Little Sisters bookstore in Vancouver, B.C. has lost the funding by which they were going to challenge Canadian Customs in the latest round of a conflict going back to the mid-1980s. At issue this time around was a shipment that included issues of Meatmen, a gay comics anthology, issues of which were seized by Customs in 2002.

Without the funding by which the bookstore could fight the seizures on behalf of a wider public interest, they will not be able to press forward on their own.
posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink

Only in Comics

I can't figure out any way this story shakes out that doesn't make comics look like a really depressing industry in which to work.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005


Essayist and cultural critic Hunter S. Thompson's passing is worth noting on a comics site for a number of reasons.

1. His "gonzo" works brought worldwide attention to the artist Ralph Steadman.

2. He was the inspiration for Garry Trudeau's "Duke" character in Doonesbury, almost certainly was an inspiration for Warren Ellis' Spider Jerusalem character, and was the source for several other lesser known parodies and tributes. He used to claim he would set Trudeau on fire if he ever met him.

3. He was the guest of honor at a rock and roll convention organized by Gary Groth and Mike Catron that went so poorly they ended up focusing on comics, resulting in Fantagraphics Books.

4. His influence or at least the way he prepped an audience for such work can be seen in a number of autobiographical comics, such as those written by Denny Eichhorn.

5. His writing voice has been very influential in the way comics are covered, from all those "Fear and Loathing in San Diego" articles that turn up on-line every year to a lot of the writing that appears in places like The Comics Journal.

The writer shot himself to death on Sunday.
posted 7:27 am PST | Permalink

Editors: Impromptu Eulogies for Print

Editor and Publisher discusses a rather alarming article that ran over the weekend where leading newspapers editors polled on the matter basically say "Yep, print sure is going to be dead, soon." Those spoken to seem to believe the morning paper is going to be squeezed out by a combination of cultural factors and a rise in one model that's more convenient (on-line news) and another model that's more cost-effective (free supplementary papers). I think the key here isn't that print was ever going to make a huge comeback but that attitudes have changed so quickly that conversions to other models, rather then extended raging at the dying of the light, seem to be a much more likely course in the next decade.

Any acceleration in the adoption of new models would, of course, have a huge impact on strip cartoons, and thus puts in new light efforts by cartoonists and syndicates to create new avenues for consumption on-line.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Ding’s Conservationist Legacy


On the short list of great cartoonists in the 20th Century, J.N. "Ding" Darling also left one of the finest and most impressive legacies through his dedication to conservationist causes and protecting the natural world.

This Des Moines Register article seems to indicate that his foundation believes they've fulfilled their initial mission and are thus winding down through an offer of matching donations to various related causes, which seems to me a completely classy way to wrap things up. It looks like they also offer a CD-ROM of the artist's work.
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
DC Thomson Looking to Outsource to India?
Ross Richie Starts Boom! Studios
Local Studio Profile: Mercury Studio/Studios
New Political Low Blow: "Mr. Dithers"
Local Cartoonist Profile: Wiley Miller
Anime Convention Draws 9000
Digital Manga Sends Out PR on Plans
Fired Bookshop Blogger Surfaces at Forbidden Planet
Baru Exposition Underway
Holland Launches Webcomic Foundation

February 20, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine


So I went to a comic shop last week and I was surprised by the number of projects out on the stands about which I'd heard either very little or absolutely nothing, and other projects that no one in the shop could find mention of having been published. This and some supplemetary reading got me thinking about the size and shape of the American comcs industry, but not very deeply because I had only three thoughts worth reporting.

Have you ever heard of this book? Why not?
posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

Review of Doot Doot Garden (2001)
Review of King-Cat Comics and Stories #56 (2000)
posted 6:57 pm PST | Permalink

February 19, 2005

CR Week in Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, February 12 to February 18, 2005:

1. Judge's preference for opt-in procedure on class-action suits delays mediated settlement between Brian Hibbs-led retailers and Marvel Comics.

2. LokiTorrent crushed by MPAA.

3. Israeli cartoonist Dudu Geva passes away at age 54.

Winners of the Week
The Beguiling crew, for their classy tsunami e-bay auction effort (portion of Smith/Vess piece pictured above).

Loser of the Week
Northstar, 1979-2005, Marvel's first openly gay superhero. Although except for his notably open-minded inclusion in a mid-'90s Marvel swimsuit issue with a male companion, I can't remember this fact playing any role in the comics beyond its much-mocked declaratory introduction.

Quote of the Week
"DC Comics has not yet released sales figures for the series." Unintentional humor from the New York Times.
posted 5:48 am PST | Permalink

Extras, PR and Other Raw Material

PR - Alias' April Launch: ALIASpitch.doc
PR - Alias' XIII Launch: ALIASxiii.doc
PR - Arthur 15 Release: Arthur_15.doc
PR - Ashley Wood Sketchbook: ashwood_PR.doc
PR - Dampyr #1: Dampyr_#1_PR.doc.bin
PR - Exhibit A & CBLDF: ExhbitA&CBLDF.rtf
PR - IDW's Shaun of the Dead: IDWShaunoftheDead.doc
PR - Monty's 20th Anniversary: Monty20th.pdf
PR - Naruto Cartoon Launch: Naruto.doc
PR - Queen & Country: Q&C_PR.doc
posted 5:31 am PST | Permalink

February 18, 2005

Honey Room Obscenity Case Updates?

imageAccording to a somewhat puzzling entry at the news blog Manga News Service, there may been movement in the Misshitsu (Honey Room) case in Japan. Publisher Montonori Kishi of Shobunkan was found guilty in district court on January 13, 2004 for the violation of distributing obscene material and, at the time, vowed to appeal. The veteran publisher was sentenced to one year in prison and three years suspension.

The thing is, I can't really tell if this is the higher court ruling, or something that was spit up inadvertently from last year or what. It doesn't seem to add anything, so if this turns out to be a hiccup I'll update here and say so. But it's worth noting if this has moved forward as it was a pretty clear case of an argument between freedom of expression and limitations on same. In fact, the prosecution was using standards developed in an earlier court case involving literature. Another item worth mentioning is that MNS notes that the investigation was started by a lawmaker with an interesting career; political pressure led to last year's suppression of a story depicting the historical event known as the Rape of Nanking.

Not only does pornographic manga have a sizeable audience in Japan, but translated versions have been lucrative for niche publishers such as the Fantagraphics-owned Eros Comix.
posted 5:53 am PST | Permalink

Off-The-Beaten-Track Publishing News

imageIt's not like Harry N Abrams needs the gift of extra press, or that this book won't be widely available, but Saul Steinberg occupies such a strange place in comics circles that a mention here of a new, looks-to-be-major book seems appropriate. Steinberg was a popular artist who used a variety of cartoon techniques but only rarely did what most people would define as comics. His drawings were not just really, really clever, but the ways in which he approached the line and spacial relationships and even the incorporation of found art have been inspirational to any number of talented cartoonists who have worked in more easily defined areas of sequential narrative. Although the earler coffee table books are gems, and well worth haunting or your local used books seller, I think this new one may be the only art book of Steinberg's currently in print. At the very least, this could be something you may wish to seek out the next time you're squatting in one of those oversized chairs at the chain bookstore. Here's a link to an exhibition held in conjunction with the book.
posted 5:35 am PST | Permalink

Beguiling’s Tsunami Effort Continues

imageThe auctions for tsunami relief hosted by Toronto comics shop The Beguiling have raised $19,000 and are now moving into a third round. The auctions have featured original cover art by Dave Sim and art by Jeff Smith, an artist who almost never puts his work up for sale. At left is a silkscreen print donated by Seth. You can read a pretty full description of the process and results here, or go straight to the listings here.
posted 5:27 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Stranger Rips Emerald Con

It took a thread on the Comics Journal message board pointing out one pissed-off fan's response for me to notice this brutal article on the Emerald City ComiCon in The Stranger, an often very, very good free weekly for which I was once a contributing writer, albeit one who never got invited to the Christmas party.
posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink

Plans Grow Around Full Metal Alchemist

Articles like's analysis of the efforts involved in launching Full Metal Alchemist are interesting reading right now because of 1) how the companies are set up to launch titles in North America in a number of ways now and 2) there is believed to be a slight slowdown in tentpole hits coming out of anime/manga, and with such aggressive publishing here how new titles get launched may be much more important than before.

In other news, the same site breaks down this week's applicable Bookscan chart in pretty typical fashion: a Tokyopop title on top, the majority of the top 10 belonging to Viz, and a Korean title close enough to the top ten that analysts take notice.
posted 5:17 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Tom Hart Air America Interview Link Up on His Site
It's a Liturgical Calendar Highlight, Charlie Brown
Submissions Open For Thurber Prize
Apparently, You Can Invest in Old Comic Books
First Comics' Legacy
Shujaat and Plantu Exhibition Opens
Local Cartoonist Profile: Brad Campbell
Local Cartoonist Profile: Robert Kirkman

February 17, 2005

Dancing Duke Terrifies All Who See It

imageGarry Trudeau will skip a week providing new work on Doonesbury due to the broken collarbone he suffered while in Aspen to pick up an award from that city's comedy festival. A major injury can't be any more frightening than that Duke cartoon that pops up when you click on Trudeau's site. Yow! Anyway, as I recall, Trudeau's strip is more likely to be delayed for this sort of reason than most other strips because he turns his work in a bit closer to absolute deadline than most other cartoonists turn theirs in -- well, closer than those other cartoonists are supposed to turn theirs in -- to remain topical.

In other strip-related recent news appearances, this short profile of Morrie Turner makes me hope he does a substantial interview one of these days, or that I track down one he's done. Also, this Krazy Kat article headline was stupid enough to make me laugh.
posted 7:32 am PST | Permalink

Dudu Geva Remembered More Fully

imageA secondary obituary of slightly fuller length, in appreciation of the just-passed Israeli cartoonist Dudu Geva, may be found here. The piece provides more information about the surviving family than the initial wire article, and try to place Geva's career in context.
posted 7:12 am PST | Permalink

Round-Up of Recent Hires

Heidi MacDonald provides a concise update of some recent personnel moves, two involving DC, one involving Archie.
posted 7:07 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Vacuum Horror


Suggested by K. Thor Jensen; Contains Rough Material.
posted 6:48 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty on Atrabile's Panorama, by Cedric Manche and Loo Hui Phang.
posted 6:43 am PST | Permalink

An Altan Passes; Which One in Doubt

imageI may be reading this totally incorrectly, but even though one web site seems to have Francesco Tullio Altan passing away, digging around afNews in various places that don't encourage direct linking would seem to indicate that it's the esteemed cartoonist's architect father that passed on. I will confirm the father's passing or swap out this entry if I receive better information.

Update: A reader has just contacted me saying that it's not the cartoonist, it's the anthropologist (not architect) that passed on.
posted 6:33 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Animerica Magazine Goes Con-Only
Comic Teaches AIDS Awareness in Chhattisgarh
Mutts Comes Out in Favor of Spay Day
Festival, Discounts Close Out Le Musee Jije

February 16, 2005

Gerard Jones on Respect for Creators

imageWhat many people forget about big-paper editorials is that while we'd like to believe they're considered opinons on weighty issues that the author has felt compelled to put to paper, they are often strategic responses generated by authors and writers looking for a public boost that may improve their profile or help gain exposure for their latest project. I can't say that's the case with Gerard Jones' editorial about Stan Lee's round-one court win in his contract dispute with Marvel, but an entire paragraph recapitulating a standard argument from his entertaining Men of Tomorrow seems to suggest that may be so.

However, I'm not sure anything explains the weirdness of one short paragraph where Jones ties the abuse of creators to the stunted nature of the art form.
The result of this penny-pinching, shortsighted business culture is that American comics never grew far beyond their starting point. In Europe and Japan, a tradition of respect for creators equivalent to what Americans show their filmmakers and novelists allowed comics to become a variegated, grown-up medium. But in America, not many cartoonists want to create new characters for the major publishers anymore.

I think what he's getting at is a truly creator-friendly environment at the big publishers could have married their market dominance to the wider variety of works that cartoonists have either taken elsewhere or not generated at all. It's a strange argument in 1) if I understand him, Jones' ideal seems to exist in something like Sandman, and I've never heard the lack of additional successes along those lines laid at the feet of a hostile environment for creators, 2) adult expression in most art forms has been largely facilitated by outsider, disaffected or even outright underground vehicles, including comics in Japan and in France, and 3) I think North American comics are a variegated, grown-up medium, albeit maybe just barely and perhaps playing out at much wider extremes between mature work and adolescent thrills than other art forms.

In the end, I always felt comics creators deserve to be treated better because of how successful their work has been and because everybody should be treated fairly, not because of any ripple effect it may have years down the line.
posted 5:44 am PST | Permalink

Eisner Library Acquisition News Again?

imageI'm guessing that Norton made a more official announcement of what they were talking about at the time of Will Eisner's passing, because at the time they were certainly free with news about their acquisition of the cartoonist's library of work from DC Comics. In case you forgot, here's's snappy write-up and separate confirmation this doesn't have an effect on Dark Horse's Eisner books, such as the forthcoming dialogue book pictured, or DC's Spirit Archives series; this news was also out there a few weeks back. Still, this is an important story beyond Eisner's stature because of Norton's relative gravity in publishing and the fact its incremental commitment to comics literature puts it more in line with Pantheon's slow-build approach than with some of the more aggressive graphic novel line plans announced in the last 24 months.
posted 5:23 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Frederik L. Schodt Interview

That no comparable interview has popped up on-line this week for a group entry should in no way keep you from availing yourself of this longish chat with the author and translator Frederik L. Schodt.
posted 5:18 am PST | Permalink

Greatest Cartoon Contest Explained


Steve Block was nice enough to write in and point that the great cartoon list talked about in a Telegraph article I linked to yesterday, the source of which I couldn't locate with my meager Internet skills, can be found right here. There are nice pop-ups to see how your taste matches the author. If nothing else, the rest of us should never complain about any of our vaguely defined top 100 lists when Tim Benson is stepping up with a top 10 of very specific, individual works.
posted 5:11 am PST | Permalink

Dupuis et Angouleme: Reunited?

Reading this article makes me think the reader's not getting the whole story, but what's here seems interesting and, really, slightly familiar to anyone who's followed convention stories in North America. Dupuis may be looking to participate at the Angouleme Festival again, mostly because of its new ownershp situation. However, there are obstacles to getting back involved.
posted 5:04 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Takashi Nemoto

posted 5:01 am PST | Permalink

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

Mediated Settlement in Brian Hibbs-led Class Action Suit Delayed... could Marvel reject settlement if new step is added? What is the legacy of Hibbs' suit?
posted 4:57 am PST | Permalink

February 15, 2005

Dudu Geva, 1950-2005

imageDudu Geva, an Israeli cartoonist whose career spanned animation, children's books, comics and political cartoons, has passed away at age 54. The obituary from the news service that carried his work can be found here, and his Lambiek entry is here. He merits two entries in a catalog of International Superheroes: one for his Rav Sha'anan, and one discussing it in the context of a history of Hebrew superheroes. You can see an example of his art for children's books here.
posted 6:23 am PST | Permalink

Hitch in Hibbs Case Settlements

Matt Brady does an exemplary job with his detailed timeline on yesterday's story about a delay in Marvel's payments (in the form of credits) to retailers based on Brian Hibbs' class-action suit from a few years back. Essentially, a judge looked at the mediated solution whereby Marvel would extend credit store to store based on late comics 1998 to early 2003 and decided that an already-completed step should be done the opposite way, upsetting both sets of attorneys, who will challenge that ruling.
posted 6:14 am PST | Permalink

Musings on Britain’s Greatest Cartoon


Nicholas Garland focuses some commentary on an effort to name the greatest political cartoon of all time, and makes a lot of even-handed and worth-reading points. I'm linking to it becase that way I get to run a piece of World War II-era art from David Low, whose work of that period I really like looking at. The above is "Angels of Peace." I can't find the contest Garland is discussing, but I have to believe the group in question holding the contest is The Political Cartoon Society. They have a nice web site well worth a long visit. It's interesting to note that Great Britain may have three times the working number of political cartoonists that the US has, although I'm not sure how they're counted so can't say for sure.
posted 5:54 am PST | Permalink

MoCCA’s Kiddie Art Show On-Line

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art has the best of those how-they-drew-as-kids shows I can remember up as a slide show thingee. I never quite understood the appeal of these things, but lots of people love them and I won't argue with love.
posted 5:50 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Jay Hosler, Jim Ottaviani on NPR
Vivek Thakkar wins Best Humorous Cartoonist Award
Taipei Book Fair Dedicates Hall to Comics
Nate Beeler Hired by Washington Examiner
Titeuf Stamps Released
Fuller Discussion of Shojo Beat Launch
Hail to the King?
National Post on Arguing Comics

February 14, 2005

Popular Anime Download Site Killed

Anime News Network is where I first saw a link to this broadband industry news piece noting that the LokiTorrent has given up its user donation-funded fight against the courts and settled, turning its logs over to officials for potential future prosecution down the line. The MPAA even put up the most obnoxious "hand-goes-up/mouth-goes-shut" I am indeed the boss of you temporary web page ever.

I mention this here even though I'm really only guessing about stuff because 1) I'm pretty sure at least some manga was downloaded through this site, and 2) to note my theory that comics companies may not have to be rigorous should they choose to fight downloading because the film community may be aggressive enough for both of them.
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Wolverine’s Next Big Kill: Shocking Thrill For Fans or Manufactured Controversy?

imageThe third of three Saturday mini-essays from writer and Beguiling employee Christopher Butcher claims to spoil a forthcoming plot event in the comic book Wolverine and then discusses his reaction to it. It's a big intersection of a lot that's interesting in mainstream comics right now from a strategic perspective: limited-runs by hot creators through titles to goose sales in bring-out-all-the-stops fashion, the use of death as some sort of weird coming attraction, whipping up some publicity via outsized negative fan reaction in a targeted sub-section of comics readers, and what characters a movie and licensing driven company may or may not find useful.

I'm guessing on the cover.
posted 7:28 am PST | Permalink

Could Certain Comics Be Restricted?

imageAn article in the Baltimore Sun about strangely harsh regulations regarding the publication of dissident authors uses Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis as an example of a book that's sold extremely well providing just such a viewpoint to North American readers curious about the wider world. Given the role that comics can play as underground literature, it would be a great shame were such a law to restrict future works of potentially great value; this seems like a fight worth tracking very closely.
posted 7:18 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Joe Sacco Interview

It's short but it's pretty good; Sacco's generally a great interview, and the art utilized here reminds that Sacco's work derives a lot of its power from evocative cartooning, not just the artist's admirable choices in what to cover.
posted 7:14 am PST | Permalink

NYT Waiting on Those DC Sales Figures

imageThe funniest line in another one of these short pieces on comics appearing in the New York Times, this one about superhero/political drama Ex Machina, is, "DC Comics has not yet released sales figures for the series." Yeah, no kidding. Also, is it my imagination or does the Times do 80 percent of its specific-book coverage on DC titles? Someone get this guy on the Marvel comp list, quick!
posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Comix Video Extras

Although you wouldn' t have heard it from me, apparently there are snippets from the recent French television series on cartoonists archived here, including a couple of short ones on Art Spiegelman that are in English. I think all of the features at least have the animated introduction, but I may be wrong.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

Schulz Remembered, Archiving Goes On


A smattering of newspaper articles and Internet postings popped up over the weekend marking the five-year anniversary of the passing of cartoonist Charles Schulz. It's interesting how much interest there is in current Schulz projects, as Mark Evanier describes with a brief note about a hard to find older strip.
posted 6:54 am PST | Permalink

Le Festival de Sierre’s Likely Return?

One story we tracked here late last year was news that one of the bigger comics festivals in the world, in Sierre, had lost local government support and would not return in 2005. This article seems to indicate that organizers are confident of a return in 2006, with some carry-over events sketched out for later this year.
posted 6:50 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Ganzfeld Team Wins Grammy
Tom Hart Appearing on Majority Report Today
XIII to Arrive Stateside Apparently Minus Boobies
Via Jeroen Mirck: Valentine's Day Smooching
Trudeau Accepts Award Despite Broken Collarbone
Ian Sansom Reviews Epileptic
Why Alan David Doane Loves His Top 100
Canadian Comics Love on Valentine's Day
Tony Fair Joins Asheville Newspaper
TV and Film Writers Comics Round-Up
Article Claims 5 Percent of US Market is Manwha
NPR Report From Angouleme
Jerry Robinson's Golden Age Exhibit to Travel
No One Cares About Cathy's Wedding
Jules Verne BD Award Nominees
Local Cartoonist Profile: Jeff Mariotte
Christian Comics Creators Unite
Russian Cartoonists Lead Exhibition
Superheroes Think Local, Act Local
DHC lines Up Star Wars Comics With Ep III Release
Vivid Girls Comics Early Review

February 13, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine


It's been almost a week since the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced its newest case, and the reaction from comicsdom assembled has been... well, interesting. I talk about it here in Why We Must Support Gordon Lee.

For your reading and viewing pleasure Mark Siegel, editorial director of the heavily anticipated First Second graphic novel line, provides his spy report on Angouleme 2005 heavily illustrated with photographs like the one above. Thank you, Mark.

I hope you'll forgive me a more-personal note: I agreed last Thursday to provide an afterword for this book supporting the cartoonist William Messner-Loebs in his recent period of economic misfortune. Mark Evanier even recommends it. Dave Sim is doing the introduction. Messner-Loebs is known as one of the most esteemed members of the post-underground indy comics generation for his frontier comic Journey and was for an extended period one of the more skilled writers working in mainstream American comic books.
posted 8:37 am PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

Review of Be A Man (2004)
Review of Airdrome (2004)
posted 8:32 am PST | Permalink

February 12, 2005

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

Stickers featuring Coop's Devil Girls leads to arrest in New Mexico.
posted 3:32 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week in Review

Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, January 29 to February 4, 2005:

image1. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund takes on the case of Gordon Lee, a retailer in Rome, Georgia accused of two crimes stemming from a mistake during a giveaway last Halloween.

2. Word leaks on major restructuring of DC Comics' sales and marketing departments.

3. Viz makes it official, announcing comics line-up for forthcoming anthology Shojo Beat.

Winners of the Week
Small-town North American comics fans who with Shojo Beat may see their local comics purchase options double.

Loser of the Week
DC Comics VP-Book Trade Sales Rich Johnson, who really hasn't been demoted, it just sort of seems that way.

imageQuote of the Week
"And Tokyopop isn't just selling Japanese books. They're doing well with licensed American product like Lizzy McGuire (sp). Y'know, licensing popular kid properties and exploiting them in comics, like American companies like DC and Dell used to do. Marvel and DC could and should have been making some of this manga money, after DHC's excursions, after Viz, while Sailor Moon was bubbling, while Pokemon and Digimon was overflowing and the name Miyazaki was becoming better known amongst fanboys, they've had years since the days of Eclipse and the first Akira translations to rethink and adapt and license and exploit. They didn't. And now everyone else is in the pool first." -- Evan Dorkin makes a really good point, in the comments portion of his web journal.
posted 6:20 am PST | Permalink

Extras, PR and Other Raw Material

Lee '94 Upheld Decision: 1994_Ga_App_LEXIS_820.rtf
Lee '94 SC Petition Denial: 1994_Ga_LEXIS_1177.rtf
Q&A w/Ocala, FL School Rep: Ocala_School_Rep_IV.doc
posted 6:17 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

What's Funny About That?
Sleeper Season 2 #6
Two Bits
Belly Button Comix #2
JLA Classified #2
posted 6:13 am PST | Permalink

February 11, 2005

Fierman Passes on Six-Month Plan; Changes DC Sales Dept. Right Now

For someone supposedly facing a massive learning curve, recent Senior VP hire Stephanie Fierman seems to have found her way and has begun what most observers suspect could be a pretty major restructuring of the DC sales department. Heidi MacDonald does great work in plumbing those DC sources and reporting on the memo-driven circumstances, and gets some initial insider response. Newsarama followed up today with some extra don't-attribute-me reactions well worth looking up. I could pull the main points, but they did the reporting, so that would be jive.

Unlike these well-respected industry reporters, I have no friends or contacts at DC; I must substitute wild speculation and bile.

imageActually, I don't. I think this is all pretty straightforward for now. DC wants to sell more books, Fierman has targeted the graphic novel as a format with a greater upside than what's been realized, and she seems to believe that the same kind of store to store attention given the DM should go to the mainstream outlets for DC's book. All the minor moves announced thus far make perfect sense in that context; I'm only slightly surprised by news that sales and marketing will be split, but that makes sense, too. Fierman's background is such that she may want to try a very different approach to marketing and may want to hire some people that are more in tune with some of the things she did at previous positions.

The things to watch I guess would be 1) how sweeping the changes end up being, particularly what the next one is; and 2) whether more attention of this fashion to bookstores will even work.

If there are any comic book retailers or ex-retailers out there, I'd love to know about one fear that's been expressed: that DC sales reps working both bookstores and comic shops won't have as much time to call retailers as they used to. I'm curious... can someone explain to me how important that attention has been, and what you stand to lose if it goes away?

Dan Shahin wrote in.

posted 10:39 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty talks about the most in-demand publication from Angouleme 2005 for art comics nerds in "Happy 40th, Jean-Christophe!
posted 10:35 am PST | Permalink

Steve Bell Cartoon Criticized

posted 10:09 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Massive Structural Changes at Angouleme '06
100 Things Alan Doane Loves About Comics
Love Is... Thirty-Five Years Old
Maureen McTigue to iBooks
Rich Burlew Quits His Day Job
Jason Little Launches New Serial
Gene Basset's Vietnam Cartoons Exhibited
Wee Pals Turns 40 Tomorrow

February 10, 2005

The Comics Reporter at the Pulse

The age of the child provided Alternative Comics #2 and an error regarding a fact in my first story corrected.
posted 4:55 pm PST | Permalink

Missed It: City of Copies Article


I'm still suspicious whether interpretations of this case are getting what seems to me Marvel's exact point, but this was amusing and blunt.
posted 9:36 am PST | Permalink

“Death Threat” Cartoonist Back in Class

The Las Vegas situation between a student-cartoonist and the teacher that was drawn being murdered resolved itself in unexpected fashion recently when the teacher was let go. The passions expressed here suggest the conflict between teachers needing to feel secure while working and students being allowed to express themselves will be resolved any time soon in a way that satisfies both ways of thinking.
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink

Worlds Coincide: Manga Meets Hip-Hop


This extremely thorough article on comics that mix hip-hop culture and Japanese comics in a variety of ways is worth a read even if you find the subject generally disinteresting. As much as you may end up cringing at the production-light promotion-heavy nature of a couple of projects the article features, the writer draws out several astute observations, such as praise for the sharp eye of Santa Inoue, whose fourth English-language Tokyo Tribes volume I believe came out just this week.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: New Skip Williamson Site

posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink

Caputo Seeks Hollywood Deal

This sign-of-the-times piece about Now publisher Tony Caputo is the kind of thing that makes me think someone's going to turn up in Variety as the new owner of the 1970s Atlas comic book line having just secured a $40 million deal for Ironjaw.
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink

Strip Cartoonists Discuss Emergence

imageOne would have to guess Comixpedia linked up to this radio file and transcript of a story about some newer newspaper strip cartoonists mostly because of the comments on the role on-line exposure has played in their careers, both positive and potentially detrimental. If that was the case, it turns out they're right; other than a few worthy file-until-later quotes and noting that opinions are really widely split, this is basically an introductory piece and not a very compelling one at that.
posted 7:21 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Must-Read: Joe Quesada's Angouleme Diary
You Only Think of This Stuff When You're Stoned
Seth Interview: Magazine Serial Planned
Publisher Bernard Stone, 1924-2005
TV Cartoonist Profile: Eric Wight
Love Is... A Bill Asprey Profile
Local Cartoonist Profile: Lee Tae-haeng
The Panelist on Sound Effects
Local Cartoonist Profile: Sahin Ersoz

February 9, 2005

Shojo Beat Announces Debut Line-Up

image In major publishing news, the new Viz anthology Shojo Beat is set to debut in June with six series taken from Hakusensha (a subsidiary of Shueisha), Shueisha (Viz's Greg Evigan) and Shougakukan (Viz's Paul Reiser). Drawn from comics material that have appealed more traditionally to female readers as opposed to the 70-percent male audience for the works in Shonen Jump, Shojo Beat will run 250-300 pages at $5.99 a pop, with a $29.99 six-month subscription offer at launch. Viz plans on distributing a free issue #0 beginning in April and throughout the summer convention seasons in order to help drum up support. The serials planned are two from Shueisha, NANA by Yazawa Ai and Beniiro Hero by Takanashi Mitsuba; two from Shougakukan, Zettai Kareshi by Watase Yuu and Kaze Hikaru by Watanabe Taeko, and two from Hakusensha, Godchild by Yuki Kaori and Akachan To Boku by Marimo Ragawa (volume pictured).

Kevin Melrose links the titles up here. Knowledgeble fans discuss the serial choices here. A manga-savvy comic shop employee gets excited about the book here. The press release: ShojoBeat.doc

The potential importance of this effort cannot be overstated because not only will it test a wider market for manga of this type, but with the successful Shonen Jump it may become one of two or three comic books distributed in many smaller North American towns.
posted 6:04 am PST | Permalink

Updates: Quote Marks, Vampires, Manga

Here are a few key updates on stories linked to previously.

First, Editor & Publisher gets to the bottom of Monday's decision by the Chicago Tribune to swap out that day's episode of the conservative Prickly City. While the paper swears it wasn't politically motivated, they also claim not to have pulled it because of perceived bad taste of a Chappaquiddick joke, which apparently they thought hilarious, but for accuracy. The report says a syndicate editor added quotes to a line credited to Senator Ted Kennedy the Tribune knew wasn't a direct quote. I'm not sure why this couldn't have been handled with a phone call or two and some whiteout, but maybe it was caught late.

Second, books I called novelizations of the Vampire Hunter D series are actually the original volumes from which the series came, as sharp-eyed reader Robert Boyd pointed out. This report has the books being team-published by DH Press and Digital Manga.

Third, there's a mention at the top of the Anime News Network site today that explains recent appearances of untranslated manga is part of an experiment by the chain bookstore Border's.
posted 5:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Alt-Comics Vs. Kids Comics

imageBrad Mackay's interesting article on the role that alt-comics has played vis-a-vis kids comics has yielded this equally compelling response from Christopher Butcher. I think Butcher's more grounded in reality. The author Michael Chabon gave a nice speech at the 2004 Eisner awards about comics somehow getting out of the habit of writing for children, but it was hardly informed enough I'd lead with it in an argument.

If kids comics suffer, and Butcher provides a long list indicating the relative health of such efforts, it's hard to believe a few cartoonists pursuing ambitious work for adults has a billionth to do with the shape of the marketplace compared to decades of various corporations falling over themselves to cynically exploit a shrinking but dependable hardcore fanbase, gleefully locking into place a restrictive market where almost no one can successfully introduce even slightly innovative new material. In fact, to be really specific, both Kitchen Sink and Fantagraphics pursued kids lines in the mid-1990s, but neither could get their effort successfully over the hump I believe in large part due to the incredibly hostile market conditions. Art comics talent from Art Spiegelman to Jules Feiffer to Lorenzo Mattotti to Richard McGuire to Kim Deitch to Sam Henderson have always pursued kids-friendly work in those arenas where it had a chance to thrive. All that's happening now is that outside forces are slowly chipping away at the American comics industry's ability to assert the self-fulfilling, DM-myopic dogma that only certain kinds of comics have an audience. Both comics for kids and a certain kind of comics for adults have suffered from the hands of aggressive narrowcasting; it's silly to play one off of the other.

Jay Stephens responds.
posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink

Bart Beaty Starts Conversational Euro-Comics With Angouleme 2005

I'd like to welcome writer Bart Beaty to the site. I've known Bart since my time at The Comics Journal, where Bart wrote the long-running column "Euro-Comics for Beginners." Bart is the finest writer about European Comics I know.

Bart has been thinking about starting a European comics review blog, but expressed doubt as to whether it would suit him. I told him I'd be happy to host his writing if he wanted to try producing on a blogger's schedule before making the investment in a full site. Please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) what you think of Bart's columns, or write him directly.

Up first: an essay on the 2005 Angouleme Festival.
posted 5:02 am PST | Permalink

Nick Bertozzi on Situation in Rome, GA


Cartoonist Nick Bertozzi is the creator of "The Salon," an excerpt from which caused a comic shop retailer named Gordon Lee to be arrested in November, 2004, when he accidentally distributed to a minor an anthology containing that work. On Monday the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced their intention to support Lee's defense. Bertozzi was unable to respond in time for my initial article, but I think it's important to hear from the artist in cases like this one.

"I'm deeply grateful for the CBLDF taking on Gordon's case. As a former manager of a comic store myself (Fat Jack's Comicrypt - City Line, Philadelphia) I am very aware that the livelihood of any comics store relies directly on the goodwill and good communication between the shop and the customers. It's very upsetting that the offended party decided to make this a public issue and it seems to me like swatting a fly with a bat."

posted 4:53 am PST | Permalink

Via Mark Evanier: NYT on Peter Paul

Mark Evanier pointed me in the direction of this New York Times article, a solid update on charges made against political operatives working on Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senatorial campaign revolving around Peter Paul.

Paul was the shady character who worked his way into Stan Lee's life in the 1990s and then partnered with Lee in an Internet company, Stan Lee Media, through which Paul ran various bank schemes and made connections like the Clinton campaign.
posted 4:41 am PST | Permalink

Isotope Announces 3rd Minis Contest

imageJames Sime at Isotope Comics has announced his third annual Isotope Awards for excellence in mini-comics. To enter, artists need to send five copes of their mini to "Isotope's Special Projects Director Kirsten Baldock at the Isotope address (1653 Noriega St San Francisco, CA 94122) before the March 15th deadline." You also have to be willing to be present at the shop at 9 PM on Friday, April 9th during a party held in conjunction with San Francisco's Alternative Press Expo to accept your award. There's a lot more in the press release. The winners in 2003 and 2004 saw their work later published by AiT/Planet Lar and AdHouse Books, respectively.
posted 4:39 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Cathy/Irving Registry Raises $18,000 for Animals
Mallard Fillmore Takes Conservative POV on Issue
Missed It: Interview with Shigeru Mizuki
Missed It: GameSpot Interviews Stan Lee
Losing Lois Lane Makes iFilm Top Ten Push

February 8, 2005

Missed It: Prickly City Subbed Out in Chicago Tribune for Kennedy Reference

The Chicago Tribune seems to have replaced yesterday's episode of Prickly City with a substitute strip according to this astute blogger. That seems weird for a number of reasons. One, it's strips working the other side of the political spectrum that usually get this treatment. Two, it seems to me this isn't really a political point being tweaked but more of a in-bad-taste yank, although I'm not likely to convinced most people of that. Three, I would think that Scott Stantis would have some substitutes just sort of generally available now; from what I've read, the strip doesn't depend on tight continuities. Maybe he's refused to.

Thanks to Sean Collins for the link.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

CPM Cuts Line Following Lay-Offs

imageThe anime and manga company Central Park Media has hit the news a couple of days in a row, which is usually a good thing. In this case, however, the news is of a nature that if the current trend continues tomorrow a vagrant expires in the CPM company bathroom and Friday the warehouse blows up.

After the announcement of staff layoffs comes news that several manga titles have been canceled (scroll down to Monday afternoon at 3:11 PM). Here's a cobbled-together list of the titles, hopefully none of them screwed up too badly:

Angel Shop Graphic Novel 1
Couple Graphic Novel 4
Duck Prince Graphic Novel 4
Full House Graphic Novel 4
Geobreeders Graphic Novel 4 (2nd Ed)
Kung Fu Jungle Boy Graphic Novel 1
Masca Graphic Novel 2
Nambul: War Stories Graphic Novel 4: Desperation
Princess Graphic Novel 1
Slayers: King of Ghost City Graphic Novel
Sword of Shibito Graphic Novel 2
Yongbi the Invincible Graphic Novel 5
Zzim! Graphic Novel 1

Not knowing the company that well, I eavesdropped on those who do. They indicate a couple of potentially troubling permutations. One, that some of these titles were just announced, and two, that some of these are perceived money-makers and at least one was near series completion. I imagine there may be some re-scheduling involved rather than outright cancellations, but a the very least this is a change in release strategies.

With Studio Ironcat already going down, this may indicate a rough year for smaller manga and anime companies. Thanks to a great catch by Kevin Melrose, we know that Dallas Middaugh is leaving Seven Seas to his partner in that endeavor Jason DeAngelis and taking a full-time position at Del Rey. Seven Seas announced itself just this past September. No matter how anyone might spin it you have to file a move like that in the "Signs and Portents" file.

Finally, this seemed inevitable.
posted 6:57 am PST | Permalink

Wolinsky: Of BD’s Greatest Generation?

This article may not be worth seeking out and translating for non-French readers, but a source I trust confirmed my suspicion that Wolinsky being named next year's President for the Angouleme Festival is a real break from the past couple of years, and akin to someone like Ed Sorel being put in charge of the San Diego Con. So I thought it worth mentioning that the piece in question seems to notice that, too, but acknowledges Wolinsky's status as a a cultural figure, as a humorist, and suggests that in some ways this may be a last nod to the generation that did so much to form modern French comics.

American shows need to start naming Convention Presidents in this manner just so we have something to talk about. I'm looking at you, Small Press Expo.
posted 6:47 am PST | Permalink

Book 5.5: Harry Potter and the Implausibly Denying Doppelganger


The "Harry Potter comics parody under fire" story I quick-linked to Monday should have decent legs; since the story originally broke I think on this blog it didn't hit the newswires all at once.

It's a fun story, too. The studio and author J.K. Rowling pursuing action against an official publication of the US military could be highly amusing. I also think the use by PS: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly highlights an interesting area of first amendment law when it comes to parody: what exactly constitutes allowable use of character approximates to pursue an artistic goal beyond examining the thing itself, like, say, using close copies of the Peanuts characters to parody American Idol rather than using them to say something about Peanuts.

The weirdest thing is that this article brought to my attention by writer and columnist Steven Grant has a magazine representative claiming that while the names are parodied the characters don't look anything like the Potter characters, because that would be wrong. This might be worth pointing out... if it were true.

Update: I had to have Newsarama tell me, because I'm obviously drunk, that the artist working on these strips is Joe Kubert.
posted 6:21 am PST | Permalink

Time Running Out: Moore Talks With Eno

I kept wanting to pair last week's Alan Moore interview of Brian Eno with something else more directly related to comics, but these things go away after a week and it's not like Alan Moore is running around doing interviews all the time so I want to get it up on the site before it goes away.

A nice match in terms of everything except timeliness is this worthy interview with the writer from a couple of years back that recently popped up on the Fanboy Rampage radar.
posted 6:14 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Kieran Meehan Finally Gets Local Gig
French Superhero Picks of the Month
Comic Book Teaches Kids to Avoid Mines
Comic Book Upsets Aussie Mother
Jim Davis Aids Kids with Learning Disabilities
Man Crushed By Own Magazines
Via Mr. Evanier: Cracked Purchased

February 7, 2005

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

A report on the new CBLDF effort defending a retailer in Rome, Georgia, including the key statute at issue.
posted 1:02 pm PST | Permalink

CBLDF Picks Up Rome, Georgia Case

imageThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has taken on a new case, this one defending Rome, Georgia retailer Gordon Lee on a charge of "distributing material depicting nudity" and a charge of "distributing obscene material to a minor." The charges are a result of a Halloween night giveaway at the store Legends where Lee mistakenly gave a minor a copy of Alternative Comics Free Comic Book Day effort Alternative Comics #2. That book contained three pages of male nudity in an excerpt of Nick Bertozzi's "The Salon."

While the Fund is experienced in obscenity charges, the depicting nudity charge sounds like a new one, and seems to carry with it an extensive fine ($10,000) and a jail sentence (1-3 years). The Fund has retained Alan Begner of Atlanta's Begner & Begner as lead attorney and Paul Cadle of Rome as associate counsel. had the earliest story up I can remember, and Newsarama had the best early article I've read, with a breakdown of the case timeline by CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein and a hint that the Fund is currently pursuing a strategy that will perhaps keep this case from continuing on into court.

Other links you might be interested in are the artist's web site, the publisher's bio for the artist, what the publisher beleives to be the nudity in question, the on-line version of the story from which the material came, and its message board. All of those links can be found in a message board post last night where Alternative Comics' Jeff Mason basically spilled the beans 6-12 hours early about what is going on, after hinting after it the day before. I hope he won't mind my copying them here.

Here's this morning's press release, which should be readable in Word: Rome,_Georgia
posted 6:26 am PST | Permalink

“Look, Miss Goodwin’s Not Breathing”

If you're looking for a suitable companion story to the arrest of two Ocala, Florida schoolchildren on the basis of the violence threated in their cartoon, you might look at this odd story about a teacher fired for drawing media attention to a cartoon where she is killed.

Based on these two events, if something like this "Death Note" frenzy in Shenyang were to happen here, I'm pretty sure the entire school system would be shut down and every business on Main Street would be asked to fire one employee.
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink

Ice Haven to Double Over for Pantheon?


I found this brief discussion of cartoonist Dan Clowes' May release from Pantheon, Ice Haven, interesting because of its look at how the material will be formatted for release to the book market. Ice Haven consists of material from Clowes' serial comic Eightball #22, and as such represents kind of a perfect test case on how publishers might approach bookstore and direct market periodical publication.
posted 6:06 am PST | Permalink

Groups Make Appeal In Haderer Case

Various international creators groups have stepped up to defend Gerhard Haderer, the Austrian cartoonist who was sentenced to six months to jail in Greece for basically blasphemy; his book Das Laben des Jesus, an irreverent look at the life of Jesus, was the first book in twenty years to be banned in that country.

In case like me you wondered after the potentially awesome letter-writing powers of a group called 'Writers in Prison Committee," they assist writers in prison rather than consist of writers in prison.
posted 5:58 am PST | Permalink

Viz to Launch Shoujo Beat in June

Fans of anime are discussing the news of the new Viz anthology featuring shoujo manga here, although like me they can't find the original linked-to story in the LA Times, either. Because of the size and reach of Viz's Shonen Jump, the new magazine will be publishing news if it does as well a expected or whether it underperforms.

imageThe usual round-up of publicity-driven articles popping up here and there on Dark Horse making use of the popular novelizations of the Vampire D series led me to the DH Press releases page. As one might guess, DH Press is one of two Dark Horse book imprints, which should lead to the kind of cross-market exploitation of properties that other companes enjoy without the books looking random, odd and sort of lost amid the other comics-related offerings.

Update: Luckily, Pam Noles is much more clever than I am (subscription may be required).
posted 5:43 am PST | Permalink

Emerald City Comicon Reports Hit

This piece at the industry magazine site Comic Book Resources is the first report on Seattle's Emerald City Comicon I could find early Monday morning. It had a lot of photos, helpfully followed by publshing news related to that person. A separate photos-and-descriptions article from writer John Layman is here. The Con thanks you here, and has a survey for you if you attended.
posted 5:26 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Cathy, Irving Join Slightly Deformed Hands in Marriage
Peter David Picks Super Bowl Accurately
Potter Spoof in PM Magazine Under Fire
Morrie Turner to be Honored by Schulz Museum
Local Comic Shop is Like Olive Garden
Futuropolis Coming Back; Like It Or Not
NY Cartoonists Forced to Drink Elsewhere
Eric Kirsammer: Chicago Media Elite
President Bush Should Read Arab Cartoons

February 6, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine


Anyone else feel like they've been run over by a train?

Abused, exhausted, and fearful of no end in sight when it comes to the way news is breaking in 2005, I spent some time this morning thinking on overlooked angles regarding the avalanche of comic book industry news so far in 2005.
posted 10:56 am PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

Review of Last Cry for Help #3 (2003)
Review of The Vagabonds #1 (2004)
El Vibora Editor Confirms Potential Cancellation (2004)
Review of Box Office Poison (2002)
List of Articles for (1999-2001)
posted 6:49 am PST | Permalink

February 5, 2005

CBLDF to Announce Major Case Monday

According to Board member Peter David.
posted 8:57 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, January 29 to February 4, 2005:

1. Clean win for the CBLDF in a case involving mis-application of US Customs regulations on piracy; books including comics featuring satirical content, including Peter Kuper's "Richie Bush" (above), returned.

2. This year's FIBD in Angouleme, France ends having drawn 210,000 people. Georges Wolinsky named Grand Prix winner (and next year's festival president); Art Spiegelman receives award from the host country's ministry of culture.

3. Stan Lee appears on 60 Minutes Wednesday for a discussion of his first-round legal win over Marvel in his contract dispute; widespread irritation within comics circles and slightly without at the coverage vis-a-vis Lee's status as a co-creator of many Marvel properties.

Winner of the Week
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which risked the costs of a court case on a point of principle to see US Customs cave before it came to that.

Loser of the Week
Studio Ironcat, a modest-sized manga publisher that died in a "are-they-really-still-around?" way.

Quote of the Week
"Wow, that would be nice." -- The suddenly non-hyperbolic Stan Lee on the possiblity of winning tens of millions of dollars from Marvel as a result of his lawsuit.
posted 6:05 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Angel Fire
Last Cry For Help #4
Mr. Big #4
Krachmacher #1
Comic Art Magazine #7
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

February 4, 2005

The Comics Reporter at the Pulse

Full Report on the US Customs cave-in in South Carolina, including reaction from Peter Kuper and a discussion of why this may or may not happen again.
posted 2:34 pm PST | Permalink

Books Released From SC Customs

US Customs wasn't willing to fight for their claim that two books seized in South Carolina as part of a shipment to Top Shelf were piratical works rather than satire. It should. The Comics Journal has the fullest report up this at this point in the morning. The works in question were by Peter Kuper and Bojan Redzic.

Here's the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund press release, openable in Word: Customs

UPDATE: Since some of you read these things very, very closely, I'll announce I'm still working on two stories -- a story about the seizure looking into the idea of "winning on principle" and a story on press sources, in particular the Comics Journal, holding a story like this one. Both are issues I've brought up before, and my judgment is they deserve fuller coverage. I'm working as fast as I can, I swear. I appreciate your keeping me on my toes.

UPDATE 4 PM Mountain Time: One down, one to go.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

European Comics Market Round-Up

A lot of news from Europe, which if nothing else shows that industry gets back in the swing of thing after their major industry convention much more quickly than North America does theirs:

image* In major publishing news, a new Asterix Album has been announced for release on October 14, 2005, right square in the Christmas shopping. The French-language market seems to release an enormous number of books at that time of the year, with a concentration on popular series. The last volume in the Asterix series sold eight million copies. This will be the 37th volume in the series, and a formal announcement of title will be on September 22 in Brussels -- when you move that many copies, they announce your announcements.

* The comics critic Jean-Claude Gasser passed away in Paris. He was born in 1941.

image* A long intervew with Sebastien Dallain at Panini-France is a bit wonky but worth plunging into if you're a business buff. Dallain describes his company as one of the only ones that pursues any sort of non-bookstore market, although that market was down single-digit percentage points in 2004. The bookstore business was way up however, and Dallain notes that three of their titles were nominated for festival prizes at Angouleme, which was a shocker to me at least, although I forget if I commented on it at the time. Dallain reports how remarkably responsive his market was to the success of Marvel's various superhero movies -- they even got another bump after the second Spider-Man movie -- although you kind of worry for him when he reports that he's been told the Fantastic Four movie is four times better.

* Here's another one of those weird reprints from Le Monde, this one an article about a Manga documentary. The thing that jumped out at me is that the documentary claims the first manga was performed by a 12th Century monk that drew animal-based caricatures in various short comics stories. That was new to me, anyway.
posted 7:49 am PST | Permalink

The Comics Reporter at the Pulse

With the announcement of the Shusters, Canada gained its own comic book awards; how will this have an effect on awards planned for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival?
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Gets Play on Black Panther #1

imageI find articles like this one interesting because it's one of those cases when the publicity for a mainstream comic book title has gained some traction in wider media sources. In this case, it's not so much the film and TV status of the new writer, or the Black Panther's place in pop culture as the first black mainstream comic book superhero or the fact that a new title is being attempted with various state market goals -- as far as that last one goes, I'm not totally up on mainstream comics but the character's been missing from the stands for months, if at all -- but rather, some sort of combination of all these factors.

This indicates to me a few things: as many have suspected, comic book features have a definite place in newspapers they might not have had until recently; the publicity people are timing these things for consumers much more effectively (that title went on sale Wednesday); and finally, those who pick up the stories are willing to accept some company-sponsored direction on what constitutes news.
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Noel Sickles Gallery

posted 7:34 am PST | Permalink’s 2004 Manga Awards

The comics business analysis site has released their picks for 2004 in the manga portion of the North American market, which is an interesting and very newbie-friendly read about that category of books, and thus comes highly recommended.
posted 7:32 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
That's One Terrifying Doll
Manwha is Now a $600 Million Export
American Tweens, They Love the Manga
Alan Moore Interviews Brian Eno
Via Mr. Melrose: AK Comics Update
Slave Labor Graphics in 2005
Annual NFL SuperPro Super Bowl Week Mention
PvP Returns to PC Gamer

February 3, 2005

Stan Lee on 60 Minutes Wednesday

I don't have anything too clever to say about last night's broadcast of 60 Minutes Wednesday featuring a post-decision catch-up with Stan Lee. It's a giant piece of shit, though, I'll tell you that. You can read the transcript here.

I think what's particularly galling about the segment isn't that The Man is put over as the sole creator of all the Marvel characters several times, but that the story asserts the judge somehow awarded Lee the 10 percent of profits figure, rather than simply enforced the contract and the figure that Marvel awarded Lee in 1998. So it's not the complexity of comics getting in the way: the main thrust of the story isn't even correct. You could do worse than writing a firm, non-insulting on-paper letter to CBS if you have similar objections: CBS News, 524 W. 57th St., New York, NY, 10019.

Both Mark Evanier and Heidi MacDonald have written about the piece. I like both entries, but I think both of my colleagues may be too quick to absolve Stan Lee of the role he plays in this. It's very, very true that Lee says nothing objectionable in the 60 Minutes Wednesday piece, except perhaps his really strained portrayal of Marvel as a company that always did right by its editors and creative people. He could have made lovely, inclusive points, joining arms with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, that didn't make it on the air. We really don't know.

We do know what's out there now. In modern sports lingo, the 60 Minutes Wednesday piece "is what it is." I reserve the right to be disappointed if there's not a follow-up effort by Lee's camp to correct last night's mistakes, and to start making this issue a point in pre-interviews, and, as best as he can, to advocate on behalf of the other creators generally.

Here's the thing: Lee uniquely profits from this kind of news coverage, just as he now stands to profit from his unique position at Marvel that led to the '98 contract. Whether it fits his orientation or not, Lee finds himself in a position that asks he become that much more aggressive about making sure others receive their due, however defined.

You could even say he has a greater responsibility to do so.

UPDATE: I've received a couple of e-mails from people who said that Lee was much better about noting his own co-creator status during his appearance on CBS' Late, Late Show, which is great.
posted 6:31 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: afNews’ Angouleme Photos


The range of photos on display here may not be of primary interest to North American fans, but I enjoyed them a great deal and particularly like the idea suggested in the above that Art Spiegelman's photo might suddenly appear on the walls during panels featuring artists like Don Rosa. There's a great photo of Mr. Rosa on the Festival's front page right underneath the Wolinsky one, too.

All rights to the copyright holder, Guido Vogliotti, and the image is only brought here for commentary's sake.
posted 6:13 am PST | Permalink

Seattle Con Previewed and Then Some

imageThis preview of the weekend's Emerald City Comicon in Seattle interested me beause the writer actually has a lot of space with which to work. Not only do you get this array of people on the record, but you also get extended quotes from many them. This makes the article really good at picking up the multiple motivations at work during a show like this, even among individuals in attendance. It's always great to read Peter Bagge pointing out something funny about the costumes people are wearing; it's even better that the writer lets us know about Bagge's convention shopping habits.

I take it Bagge will be on hand to support the book pictured above and left, which is a new and very affordable repackaging of a huge chunk of work from the cartoonist's wonderful comedy series Hate. Bagge's comics are very specific to their time in a way that I think is having an effect on how they're perceived; it's like the early 1990s, through no fault of their own, failed to snap into focus for people the same way past periods in our cultural history have. I think Bagge's comics are not only funny but great; I'm happy for any chance they have to find a new audience.

The Emerald City Comicon is worth paying attention to for a couple of reasons. First, comics lacks a lot of larger general comics shows not run by either Comic-Con International or by Wizard's convention arm. Second, the Pacific Northwest is home to a lot of cartoonists, which logically gives a show like this a leg up.
posted 5:52 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Proof Comics are Popular Again
Malaysian Comics Industry Profile
Zippy Exhibit; Profile of Character
Comic Editor and Publisher Bond With Subject
Citibank Bankrolls Comic Book
Roger Beale Expected to Leave Financial Times
Mark Evanier: Lichtenstein/Heath Coincidence
Yomiuri International Cartoon Contest Winner

February 2, 2005

Studio Ironcat Closes… Finally, Some Say

imageThe long-troubled manga publisher Studio Ironcat announced its demise through a letter on the front page of its web site. In reporting today's news, the comics business analysis site linked to its own summary piece on the publisher's massive problems. This was all preceded by Fred Gallagher's Megatokyo moving to Dark Horse.
posted 8:03 am PST | Permalink

Angouleme Festival Attracts 210,000 Fans

More reports on last weekend's Festival Interational De La Bande Dessinee have started to come out.

image* The annual write-up in Le Monde gives the 210,000 attendance figure. With a level of awareness that would be stunning in a major North American media source, the paper comments that the festival prizes may have poorly served contemporary French comics and that the number of past winners reflects a "soft consensus." They also felt Art Spiegelman was generally a big hit.

* Another article on a French comics site notes that Alex Robinson and his "brick" was the only exception to the old regulars winning the prizes, and they include a picture of a very well-dressed, very happy-looking Robinson accepting his award that's worth the click-over by itself. It's way better than an editor in a t-shirt mumbling that they "know the cartoonist is here somewhere, slug him if you see him this weekend," by any measure. That same article asserts that Dave Cooper's work made an impression with European audiences.

* Finally, this article talks about Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman King, being made a "citoye d'honneur de la Ville D'Angouleme," and how that honor contrasts with past visits by popular manga artists.
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink

El Vibora Fading Fast

imageA mention in this Spanish media article indicates that the seminal European comics magazine El Vibora may not be long for the stands.

This story has actually been going on for about a year, when editors first faced up to the low circulation numbers. Editor Sergi Puertas told me last April for this article that the numbers had fallen into the red. They hoped media coverage of the magazine's instability might boost it back to a profitable level. The numbers at the time were about what they are now, approximately 6000, a massive decline from when the magazine sold 45,000 copies an issue.

El Vibora was the first major European market exposure for some American cartoonists, and was an important first step into the Spanish market for cartoonists published there like R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, and Charles Burns.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Local Cartoonist Profile: Frank Nissen
Local Cartoonist Profile: Karl Kerschl
Local Web Site Profile: Comic Fiesta
Texans Love Hagar the Horrible Awards: Doonesbury, This Modern World
New Porno Line? Vivid Girls Previewed
Political Cartoonists Lead Interesting Lives

February 1, 2005

Daniel Branca, 1951-2005


Daniel Branca, a longtime Disney comics creator from Argentina, passed away in Buenos Aires on January 28 following a heart attack. Branca was best known working with the various Disney duck characters. You can find another profile here, and get to more artwork through here.
posted 8:04 am PST | Permalink

International Shonen Jump Sales Figures

At the top of the 2/1 entries at Manga News Service is a brief report about the sales of the various versions of Shueisha's Shonen Jump magazine. The figures include a 3.2 million number for Japan and a 350,000 "annual circulation" for the American version. Can anyone tell me if that 3.2 million and the 350,000 figures are comparable sales or if one's a sum total and one's a monthly or something similar? Because the Japanese figure seems high to me while the US figures seems slightly high for a monthly, way low for an aggregate. The article also reports a Norwegian version debuts next month and mentions in passing the German version launched a year before the American, which is news to me.

Kevin Melrose does the research I was too lazy to do: it looks like the numbers are per-issue, whether weekly (Japan) or monthly (U.S.).
posted 7:56 am PST | Permalink

Out-Of-The-Way Publishing News

imageDiary of a Mosquito Abatement Man, which collects all of John Porcellino's stories on that topic that appeared in his groundbreaking mini-comic King-Cat Comix and Stories, is now available to order for $12 plus $2 postage from the artist through the information provided through his catalog page. The 106-page book, which reprints comics from 1989-1999, is published by Zak Sally's La Mano. Porcellino's comics can be really difficult to find unless you shop at the finest comic book stores. I think Porcellino may be one of the most important cartoonists out there, and he is always worth tracking down. Here's a profile of the cartoonist, including a photo I've never seen before.

imageIt looks as if the legendary Gary Panter is selling a book 100 Drawings By Gary Panter. It features 100 of the cartoonist's recent spate of custom drawings, an experiment where people were paying a relatively small amount to have Panter make them an original drawing based on a few words submitted -- kind of like a really bizarre convention sketch. As far as I can tell, that book is only available through Panter's site. Even if you don't want the book, you could do worse than spending a few minutes poking around all things Gary Panter.

posted 7:34 am PST | Permalink

Update: A Georges Wolinsky Mini-Profile

I asked a few writers and comics readers I know familiar with the European comics scene to give me an impression of Georges Wolinsky, this year's Grand Prix winner at the Angouleme Festival (and therefore President of the Festival for 2006). I got back this interesting mini-writeup from Domingos Isabelinho:
"I remember Wolinski for three reasons: 1 -- He was the managing editor of the very influential Charlie mensuel magazine (during the seventies; Charlie was named after Charlie Brown copying the Italian Linus magazine); 2 -- He was the first person in the world to recognize Guido Buzzelli's genius (he published his work in Charlie; unfortunately we're not many to recognize how right Wolinski was); 3 -- Wolinski was Paulette's writer (the series has drawings by G. Pichard). Apart from that: Wolinski was born in Tunisia in 1934, he lives in France since 1946. He published in Rustica (1958) and Hara-Kiri (1960). He's a political cartoonist working for many French newspapers:"

This goes a long way towards confirming my initial impression, that Wolinsky stands in great contrast to last year's Grand Prix recipient, Zep.
posted 7:24 am PST | Permalink

Big Anime/Manga Discussion on NPR

imageGo here to find a 45-minute talk about manga, anime and the influence of Japanese culture in America on Talk of the Nation. The conversation features Publisher's Weekly comics go-to guy Calvin Reid, he's-everywhere-you-look Peter Carey (author of Wrong About Japan) and Viz Editor Elizabeth Kawasaki. I haven't listened to it yet, but Reid at least was very happy with the results.
posted 7:22 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Beau Smith Leave Position at IDW
Let the Bill Loebs Benefits Begin
Doug Marlette Speaks in Library, Amuses
Making the Rounds: Cute Cartoonist List
Manga Will Get You, Spider-Man
Stan Lee Preview on Sixty Minutes II
Changes and Upgrades at Comixpedia
Mort Walker: The Interviews Profiles Multiple Cartoonists

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