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

March 31, 2005

OV Vijayan, 1930-2005

imageOotupulackal Velukutty Vijayan, the great Indian cartoonist who went on to become an internationally renowned modernist writer, died in a hospital in Hyderabad yesterday after the failure of several internal organs. Vijayan had entered the hospital two weeks earlier due to complications from Parkinson's disease, and the serious of his situation and rapid decline had been tracked by regional news wire services.

Vijayan's career began with a short try at teaching. He left the academic life to become a cartoonist for Shanker's Weekly in Delhi in 1958. In 1963 he moved to the Patriot as their staff cartoonist, and eventually became a freelancer, working for such publications as The Statesman and The Hindu. Vijayan was known as a sharp satirical mind while working as a cartoonist, and he is also credited for expanding the emotional breadth expected of political cartoons by incorporating a certain amount of sadness and melancholy into his work. He worked with a intergenerational pair of characters, a father and a son, it was said to suggest how little some issues changed over time.

The cartoonist's literary career took off with Legends of Khasak, perhaps his most famous work. He would eventually be awarded the Padma Shri for his contributions to literature. A collection of cartoons, Ithiri Nerambokku, Ithiri Darshanam, was published in 1999. Vijayan had been sick for several years, but he occasionally surfaced for an interview, or to work on a series about cartooning for the Australian press, or to accept a major award.

He is survived by a wife and a son.
posted 8:54 am PST | Permalink

DC Murders Annoying Minor Character to Launch Dopey Cosmic Mini-Series

DC has apparently sold out of a one-shot actually called "Countdown to Infinite Crisis," a prelude to yet another cosmic mini-series with a title that sounds more like a MAD Magazine parody of the same. When a mainstream American comic book reports a sell-out, all that means is that early re-orders wiped out however many they overstocked, not that they're necessarily flying off the shelves or even huge, gigantic sellers -- although in this case, I imagine that they're doing pretty well moving off the shelves and it is indeed a pretty damn big seller. You shouldn't be surprised. After years of aggressively sculpting some areas and delicately shaping others, the direct market now looks pretty much like the giant, clay Lionel Ritchie head the big companies want it to be, and it's perfectly logical that they're able to move whatever effort they strongly back through it with only a minimum of blood and fuss.

I think the things I like most about these series content-wise is how DC has been tying them into the death of various characters. Only in DC's largely-in-awe-of-itself collective mind would some goofball in a bug outfit kicking the bucket lend gravity to a potential world-destroying event.

Alan David Doane notes this review by Abhay Khosla.
posted 8:50 am PST | Permalink

Launching With Pre-Orders: Andelman’s Eisner Bio, Buenaventura Press Debuts


Alvin Buenaventura of Buenaventura Press has announced pre-orders for his first two books, Vanessa Davis' Spaniel Rage (above) and Souther Salazar's Destined for Dizziness. I'm not at all familiar with Davis' work, but I consider Salazar, along with Kevin Huizenga, the most intriguing young talent to come into comics in the last five years. I spoke to him here, and reviewed a couple of his minis here. It's also worth noting the Buenaventura launch because it may help fill an aesthetic niche left empty by the departure of Highwater Books last year.

Bob Andelman's long-awaited Will Eisner biography Will Eisner: A Spirited Life can now also be pre-ordered. I'm not aware of any previous releases from M Press, but something tells me I'm just being forgetful.
posted 8:33 am PST | Permalink

Some Questions For All You Manga Fans

Why don't the publishing companies that are launching these manga trades and censoring content to reflect the age group they're targeting and inciting various nerd riots merely bump up the age group they're targeting? Wouldn't that work in most cases? Is there really enough of a market track record that companies would be compelled to aim younger with books in order to maximize sales? Is there really a restrictive policy that makes sense regarding trades, as opposed to something packaged for the kids market or for newsstand consumption?
posted 8:32 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
The Bushmiller Society Strikes Again
Max Allan Collins Completes VT Hamlin Documentary
Library Room to Be Named after Jack Knox
Ottaviani's Science Comics in the Classroom
Another Specialty Comic Strip Launched
Cartoonist Profile: Tomer and Asaf Hanuka

March 30, 2005

Scott Bateman, King Features Part Ways


Editor and Publisher is running a nice, long news story about Scott Bateman and King Features Syndicate coming to a parting of the ways. Bateman's longish cartoons/short comics essays were included in the "best and wittiest" package that King brought to a number of its client papers.

As he explains, Bateman had become increasingly dissatisfied with the number of cartoons that were being selected for inclusion. Add in an a floating assertion surrounding Bateman's departure that it was due to the political content of his work (King's chief editor Jay Kennedy flatly denies this), and you have a strong back and forth story that shines a spotlight on the narrow margins in which many political cartoons practice their craft.

I believe Jay Kennedy when he discounts any political motivation on King Features' part. Still, it's interesting to note here 1) how the national political nervousness always comes up in such conversations anymore, and 2) how difficult it is for editorial cartoonists to work in different formats, even though a strong argument could be made that the monotonous quality of editorial cartooning may be a big factor in its slow decline. You can see more Bateman work here.

Above: a sample of Bateman's approach.
posted 9:57 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty provides a really smart essay on issues raised in Plates-bandes, by Jean-Christophe Menu.
posted 9:56 am PST | Permalink

Manga News: Sony’s PSP; Viz’s No-No


Two interesting bits of manga-related news stories appeared in the last 24 hours or so, both worth noting. First is a concise piece on scans of manga as a favored use for Sony's new PSP; I don't know when or even if one of these electronic venues for reading manga will catch on, but if it were to happen it could have industry-altering consequences, so such news is always worth tracking. The other story is a letter from one dedicated manga fan to Viz regarding that company's decision to censor out some nipples in a new book by Masakazu Katsura; I think it's a pretty good snapshot of the mindset involved. I imagine these companies will continue balancing the possibility of the wrath of angry parents against the rage of aggressive, dedicated fans who may see this kind of change as a betrayal of trust. There's no easy answer.
posted 9:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Oral History of RAW

posted 9:43 am PST | Permalink

Interview With Joe Sacco En Francais

In this brief but effective French-language chat I believe is preceding the publication this Friday of his recent story from The Guardian, cartoonist/journalist Joe Sacco admits to doubts regarding his ability to cover certain aspects of life due to the language barrier, and talks about why that most recent assignment embedded in a military in Iraq was so conceptually different than past efforts which found him among civilians. That is kind of turning his usual assignment on its head, and I was probably too happy just to see new Sacco to fully realize just how radical that departure was.
posted 9:40 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Cornell Cartoon Criticized for Depiction of Asians
Cagle Revamps Crucial Editorial Cartoon Site
Devil's Due Acquires Venerable D&D License
Happy 40th Birthday, Forg

March 29, 2005

FCBD: Two Million Comics in 1900 Stores

A comics advocacy group has released figures that indicate 2 million comics will be given away in 1900 stores come this year's Free Comic Book Day. I'm not sure I truly believe that the average comic book shop gives away over 1000 comic books with this promotion, but I'm sure the numbers work out in some weird way, probably someone's getting a bunch to keep or something equally depressing. The other thing worthy of note here is that this might indicate participation is at somewhere around 65 to 75 percent of all stores. This means some people are taking a pass on this promotion, which makes the "guarantee" aspect of what national promotion might exist a little tougher.

posted 8:56 am PST | Permalink

E&P: Female Editorial Cartoonists Scarce


According to a survey conducted by Editor and Publisher based on the offerings of the major syndicates, three of the 77 are women. Sadly, this is the exact same group of women that were being offered ten years ago: Signe Wilkinson, Ann Telnaes and Etta Hulme. The article indicates that a slightly better ratio of women to men can be found in the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, 21 of 329, which of course could also be used to argue that even those few existing women in editorial cartooning are comparably underemployed.

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson
posted 8:51 am PST | Permalink

The Clubs That Time Forgot

This is the kind of the thing that may only interest me, but afNews has noted that the Club des Bandes Dessinees formed on this date in 1962. Its members included Jean Claude Forest and Alain Resnais. It's not my area of expertise, but it seems that clubs like this one played the same kind of role in Europe as some of the more involved fan circles did in the 1970s as places where comics professionals received feedback of a type not readily available in the mainstream media, as groups where future professionals could pursue their interests in comics more exclusively, and as the potential backbone for more ambitious organizations.
posted 8:47 am PST | Permalink

Let’s All Support the Bluto Monument

posted 8:45 am PST | Permalink

Garth Ennis Interviewed En Francais

Writer Garth Ennis, currently in the solid second act of his comic book career, has done an interview now up on the ActuaBD site, where we learn the following:

1. By the looks of the picture they used, Ennis now lives in Yosemite National Park.
2. Ennis has more freedom at Marvel than he did at Vertigo, which is either funny, weird or sad.
3. He could write Wolverine if he had a gun to his head.
posted 8:41 am PST | Permalink

The Labans’ Edge City Passover Special

imageEditor and Publisher is reporting that Edge City, the comic strip by Terry and Patty Laban featuring art by the extremely gifted cartoonist Terry LaBan, will allow a multi-week run about Passover to be used as a special feature by interested newspapers. It should be worth noting to see if this kind of thing begins to happen more regularly; so many comics are at the level they would kill for the extra exposure on a religion or society page, yet this is the kind of thing that could be bled dry quickly if syndicates offer up too much stuff that isn't of a high quality.

posted 8:37 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Isotope Launches Pro-Heavy Virtual Lounge
Lynn and Ron Johnston Honored by Dentistry School
Pastis Offerings Catch E&P's Eye
DrMaster Announces ComicsOne Pickups
Dave Coverly Draws a Crowd

March 28, 2005

Clay Bennett Wins ‘05 Fischetti Award

The Christian Science Monitor's Clay Bennett was the winner of 2005 John Fischetti Award, given out by Columbia College in Chicago for the last 23 years. He beat out Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Nick Anderson of the Louisville Courier-Journal for the honor. All three recognized cartoonists submitted on the subject of American involvement in Iraq. Bennett, a past Pulitzer winner, won the Fischetti in 2001 as well.
posted 8:39 am PST | Permalink

European Comics Censorship Fights

Several updates on stories developing in Europe having to do with comics censorship.

image* According to a profile by the BBC, Ali Farzat's comics work, such as the piece pictured here, do not suffer from state censorship in his country of Syria but in a climate of fear that all but keeps his cartoons from ever being published.

* Last week artists and politician at a Vienna press conference pledged support to embattled Gerhard Haderer, author of the satirical take on Jesus Das Leben des Jesus convicted of obscenity in Greece last year. This article is the first to mention that the European Union may bring with it a subpoena system that could be used to serve papers to Haderer across traditional national lines.

* Salih Memecan is keeping the heat on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has repeatedly sued cartoonists who depict him as an animal in the service of make a satirical point about him or his administration, and has won a few of those suits. This has caused waves of bad publicity that could even have an effect on Turkey's ongoing economic and political relationships with Western European countries. Memecan's cartoon on the front page of a newspaper follows one satirical magazine's entire section of such cartoons.
posted 8:32 am PST | Permalink

Tom DeFalco Joins New Cracked

Comic book industry veteran Tom DeFalco will join Cracked Entertainment, the new corporate structure around the venerable Mad Magazine competitor Cracked. Rumors had been around for nearly a year that the former Marvel higher-up had been looking for such a position. Sven Larson and Justin Droms have also joined the company. This sounds to me that they might be pursuing a comedy franchise anchor in the way that National Lampoon's owners seem to talk about every few years, but I could be wrong about that.
posted 8:27 am PST | Permalink

CCS Part of Creative Economy Trend

imageThe wave of good press continues for the Center for Cartoon Studies' inaugural school year, approaching this Fall, in this regional article. According to statements made by founder, public point man and well-regarded cartoonist James Sturm, the Center has counted on press coverage like the article in question as a way of getting the word out because of limited funds to advertise. This latest article dives right into the secondary topic of choice for most of them, the school's role as one of a number of "creative economy" businesses transforming the downtown of White River Junction, Vermont. We also find out that Sturm's first choice for a location was Minnesota, which no doubt would have led to a lot of jokes about drawing turtles and pirates.
posted 8:21 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Comics to Film History: St. Trinian's
Mankoff, Diffee Profiled
Lulu Awards Open For Noms
Local Cartoonist Profile: Tommy Castillo
Australians Love their Editorial Cartoons
Festival Matches Comics with Films

March 26, 2005

Conversational Euro-Comics

Why is Lewis Trondheim quitting comics?
posted 4:28 pm PST | Permalink

CR Magazine: Saturday Wrap-Up


Thanks again to those who helped keep this site burbling with content while my on-line access proved limited. If you haven't looked at them yet, the following will be permanent additions to the site.

1. Mark Heath Interview
2. Matt Fraction Interview
3. Johnny Ryan Interview
4. Nadia Katz-Wise Interview
5. Scott Mills Interview
6. James Kimball Interview
7. Peter Bagge Interview
8. Alex Robinson Interview
9. 1000 Things to Like About Comics

Scroll down the page for beautiful preview pages from Dylan Horrocks and J. Chris Campbell, which will stay up for another 10 days or so.

I hope you enjoyed these features and appreciate your patience with and attention to them.

Interviewing Nadia Katz-Wise of Typocrat Press and Lewis Trondheim's appearance on the site today has me thinking about the on-line presence of various comics entities. Trondheim may have the best creator's site I've ever seen -- original content (hit your renew button on the comic strip that appears as the second screen) combined with clear, forthright information and lots of extra stuff of interest. Typocrat Press may have the best small publisher site out there, with a hard-to-beat links page that not only provides a service but lets you know what kind of work to expect from the company in the future.

So let me throw the question to you -- what is the best creator site and the best site by a comics business out there? If you send me a single recommendation for both categories, I'll run them as credited links below this line.

posted 4:03 pm PST | Permalink

March 25, 2005

CR Magazine: Friday Special

With limited access to the Internet this week, please enjoy the following mix of new features and archived treasures.

Mark Heath Interview -- The creator behind the newspaper strip Spot the Frog checks in on the occasion of the launch of his new blog to talk about the funny pages and passing that first-year anniversary.

Matt Fraction Interview -- The promising writer behind Last of the Independents and other idiosyncratic projects talks with CR about his next books and what it's like to be part of the generation of comics pros to emerge from Internet culture.

Personal Preview: Bob Levin -- The writer Bob Levin has provided the site with a selection from a book I edited, Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & Pirates, a collection of his first-person essays about cartoonists and cartooning that originally ran in The Comics Journal. For a limited time only.

Dylan Horrocks -- From 2001 before and after the World Trade Center towers fell, I speak to the New Zealand cartoonist behind Hicksville at length about comics and his career. 48 hours only.
posted 5:36 am PST | Permalink

March 24, 2005

CR Magazine: Thursday Special

With limited access to the Internet this week, please enjoy the following mix of new features and archived treasures.

Johnny Ryan Interview -- The newest, funniest talent in alternative comics has also occasionally been a lightning rod for criticism. In the midst of a publishing flush period that includes frequent issues of his series Angry Youth Comics, Ryan answers a few questions about his art and his perceived place in the comics world.

Nadia Katz-Wise Interview -- Perhaps the surprise new publisher of the year, the face of Typocrat Press takes a few moments between the release of their first and second books to answer a few questions about forthcoming plans and the reaction to the imprint's work thus far.

J. Chris Campbell Preview -- This new, unique illustrative talent provides CR a sneak peek at his imminent solo comics release from the up and coming publisher AdHouse Books: Zig Zag #1. For a limited time only.

Steve Rude -- There's nothing more enjoyable than talking to the Dude about comics and morality, and this older interview hopefully reflects that. 48 hours only.
posted 5:34 am PST | Permalink

March 23, 2005

CR Magazine: Wednesday Special

1000 Things to Like About Comics: a simple list to remind us of the many ways in which the comics medium justifies and rewards our attention.
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

March 22, 2005

CR Magazine: Tuesday Special

With limited access to the Internet this week, please enjoy the following mix of new features and archived treasures.

Scott Mills Interview
One of the most idiosyncratic creators in alternative comics, the cartoonist behind Slave Labor's Seamonsters and Superheroes series answers a few questions about his latest project and his work in general.

James Kimball Interview
A short question and answer session about the bookstore market with the head of marketing for Pantheon Books, the folks behind graphic novels like Epileptic, Jimmy Corrigan, Gemma Bovery, and Persepolis.

Dylan Horrocks Preview
One of my favorite cartoonists, Dylan Horrocks is poised to make a return to alternative comics after an almost four-year absence. He's working on at least four projects, three of which we can preview here: the lead feature from Atlas #2, pages from a story called "Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen," which may become a back-up feature in Atlas or may be used elsewhere, and a page from a story to be included in an upcoming edition of the Dirty Stories trade anthology. Mr. Horrocks stresses that these pages might be changed before final publication in subtle or significant ways. For a limited time only.

John Romita Interview
From 2002, a long interview with longtime Marvel Comics cartoonist John Romita conducted for The Comics Journal. 48 hours only.
posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink

March 21, 2005

CR Magazine: Monday Special

I have limited access to the Internet this week, and need to spend what time I do have in fulfillment of other obligations. Please enjoy the following mix of new features and archived treasures, and regular newsblogging will resume on Monday. Thank you.

Peter Bagge Interview -- The best comedy writer working in comics, and one of the best period, Peter Bagge has enjoyed an impressive Spring 2005 with a series from Dark Horse, Apocalypse Nerd, the collection of his seminal Hate material, Buddy Does Seattle, and a continuing presence as a first-person essayist for the magazine Reason. He was nice enough to let me ask him a few questions about his current slate of projects.

Alex Robinson Interview -- This is a short piece I did with Box Office Poison creator Alex Robinson that I wasn't able to find a home for; we talk about his recent trip to the Angouleme Festival, and his winning a prize there for best first book.

Personal Preview: The Classic Comics Illustrators -- A editing project of mine that will be out this summer is a book collecting five interviews with five significant comics artists of the old-school illustrative persuasion. Here is a snippet of a Frank Frazetta interview from that book as conducted by Gary Groth. For a limited time only.

Jeff Smith -- This Jeff Smith Interview of mine from late 1999 will only be up a short time. Includes the story that got Dave Sim riled up. 48 hours only.
posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink

March 20, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

For your Sunday reading pleasure, I offer up a couple of mostly positive thoughts on the Eisner Awards and Webcomics this week in "A Great First Step -- a Short Note on the Eisners and Webcomics," as well as updates in letters and in this week's Five For Friday offering.

If you're still hungry for more to consume, I always recommend Gus Mastrapa's wide-ranging musings on pop-culture, which often have a comics-related element. Unlike like most occasional writers about comics of my acquaintance, Gus comes at comics from what I would call a more game-focused point of view, which leads to an interesting set of values. Plus Mr. Mastrapa often sends links to this site, and I always forget to reciprocate.
posted 8:19 am PST | Permalink

March 19, 2005

CR Week In Review


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

1. News seeps to American audiences about recent developments in manga: ADV cut staff in the fourth quarter of '04; BBS operator sued successfully for people copying manga through his service.

2. Eisner Awards consider adding webcomics category.

3. Marvel's new list of comics comes out; prices raised away from $2.25 level, prompting many to muse on the issue of comic book pricing.

Winners of the Week
North American audiences who get to see the work of Lat for the first time.

Loser of the Week
Tribune Media Services, for losing Ann Telnaes in a public way rather than the private manner in which most cartoonist-syndicate dealings take place.

Quote of the Week
"You have a better chance of being a pro basketball player than you have at being a full-time editorial cartoonist." -- aspiring full-time editorial cartoonist Rob Harriman.
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink

Don’t Worry About Silly Things

E-Mail From This Site's Owner: Why is it that the April edition of Shonen Jump looks so much thinner than previous issues?

E-Mail From Evelyn Dubocq at Viz: Actually April's issue has more pages than March (by 8 pages!) We just went with a new printer/new paper is all 😊
posted 5:35 am PST | Permalink

March 18, 2005

Go, Look: Baker’s Nat Turner


Art samples from another Kyle Baker self-publishing project. I found myself completely sympathetic to, yet slightly horrified by, the notion that this book has some added value in the marketplace because of the lack of a big-screen adaptation.
posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink

More Swiss BD Festival Madness

Updated coverage at on the state of Swiss comics festivals, as one city (Lausanne) and now perhaps two (Yverdon) have stepped up with the intention of doing one when the lack of active public support ended a long run of festivals in Sierre. Complicating is that Sierre not only looks likely to make a comeback, but something might be held there this year as a stopgap measure.
posted 5:20 am PST | Permalink

NYROB Examines Persepolis

imageThe New York Review of Books is the publication that people who offhandedly slam the perceived elitism and gatekeeper qualities of the New York Times Book Review may actually be thinking of. With dedicated big-box bookstore availability and occasional newsstand distribution (Seattle's QFC grocery stores used to carry it), it enjoys a focused but national audience for reviews that often feature very good, qualified writers engaging the issues of the moment through books that address them. Plus they feature David Levine. They have not done a whole lot of comics reviews, at least not that I can recall, but according to this they discuss the Persepolis volumes by Marjane Satrapi. It's hard to tell if they'll make this available, but it might be worth checking out next time you're loitering in one of those bookstore comfy chairs.
posted 5:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Albert Hahn Gallery

posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink

John Taddeo Interviewed

John Taddeo, a former mid-level mainstream comic book industry figure, who has reappeared recently as a potential bidder for major comics company rights, gets the full interview treatment from Heidi MacDonald.
posted 5:05 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Soup to Nutz Passes Five Year Mark (PDF)
Peter Poplaski on R. Crumb
Local Cartoonist Profile: Steve Stegelin

March 17, 2005

Ann Telnaes Leaving Tribune Media


The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes will leave her current syndicate Tribune Media Services effective April 1. In a statement to Editor and Publisher, Telnaes bluntly indicated that efforts in sales were not up to her satisfaction. Telnaes signed with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate shortly before their acquisition by TMS. That deal began an extended period of friction in all facets of the Times' businesses as the new ownership arrangement settled into place. It looks that Telnaes was among those dissatisfied with how things turned out. According to the article, Telnaes continues her work with the King Features strip Six Chix and remains a contributor to Women's eNews.
posted 8:40 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty reviews a book published in English for once: Hic Sunt Leones.
posted 8:39 am PST | Permalink

“L’Affaire de l’Exposition” Winds Down

imageThis article gives a nice summary of how organizers have dealt with complaints that Herge's Tintin would not be represented at a cultural exhibit on the 175th anniversary of Belgium: accepting pieces for display from private collectors. For their part Le Fondation Herge, the caretaker of the estate of Tintin's creator, has issued a public statement reported on here that they never prohibited a display nor were agents hoping to block any representation of the famous character, they had only expressed dissatisfaction at what they exhibit had originally planned to show.
posted 8:34 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Craghead Postcard Exhibit

posted 8:29 am PST | Permalink

Marvel to Raise Prices?

Some smart snooping by Newsarama yields a list that indicates Marvel is leaving behind its remaining $2.25 comics. Price in comics is a complex issue -- unlike 23 years ago, when Marvel went from 50 to 60 cents, there is almost no compulsion to conform to an industry standard to appeal to newsstand distributors, and there is much less of a significant price war between the two major American comic book companies. The poor performance of cheaper comics efforts in the past indicates that fans will pay for a comic despite fluctuations in price. Potential dangers are believed to be in the area of new recruitment and perhaps that there may be dangers for lower-selling books during such a move in that they might be the first to be dropped by existing readers for their now-altered perceived value.
posted 8:27 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Jeff Smith Interview


On Minnesota Public Radio; Via Mr. Melrose.

posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
I'd Actually See This Comics-Related Movie
Q&A with Bob Mankoff, Roz Chast
Filipino Cartoonists Make Yearbook
Weren't There Only 150 Marvel Team-Ups?
PW: ADV's '04 Restructuring Revealed

March 16, 2005

Eisners Float On-Line Comics Category

I received the following just now from Jackie Estrada at the Eisner Awards. The Eisners has a perceived hostile history towards webcomics, so I suppose this is newsworthy. It's worth noting that judges are not bound to accept categories offered to them, so that's a remaining hurdle.
Eisner Awards Accepting Webcomics Submissions

The judges for the 2005 Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards are accepting submissions for a possible Best Digital Comic category.

Any professionally produced long-form comics work posted online or distributed via other digital media is eligible. The majority of the work must have been published in 2004. Audio elements and animation can be part of the work but must be minimal. Web comics must have a unique domain name or be part of a larger comics community to be considered. The work must be online-exclusive for a significant period prior to being collected in print form.

For webcomics: Send URL and any necessary access information to the Eisner Awards administrator, Jackie Estrada:
For CD or DVD comics: Send disc to Eisner Awards, 4657 Cajon Way, San Diego, CA 92115.

Deadline: March 25, 2005 (but sooner is much preferred)

posted 11:07 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Ruling Vs. Japanese BBS

I totally missed this story, which just now scrolled up on the Manga News Service site as the 03-04-05 entry. According to posting, a court ruled that the manager of the BBS was ordered to pay 1.2 million yen for a copyrighted manga reprinted on-line. This was a reversal of a previous ruling that said the manager was not responsible for violation but rather the person who posted the material was. One and half million yet is approximately $11,500 in U.S. currency.
posted 9:56 am PST | Permalink

Break in Herge/Tintin Exhibit Story?

Maybe. According to this article, an agreement has been reached that will make possible the inclusion of Herge's Tintin in a cultural exhibit celebrating Belgium's 175th anniversary.

That is, of course, as mentioned later on in the article, unless someone sues.
posted 9:43 am PST | Permalink

Ongoing Stories: Singapore Comics Smut Peddling and Manga Called Out in Maine

Two pretty decent follow-up articles have popped up about stories that broke earlier this month. Channel News Asia gives a fuller report on its region's comics business, accused of harboring stores that target pornographic material for minors at a tidy profit. The interesting thing to me here is the rather low porno found/police raid figure, and the already thorough job the government seems to do keeping material from being imported.

In the second article, a local newspaper editorial calls for the sensible solution over whether or not manga should be present in schools -- books should be judged on an individual basis.

Don't forget that James Sturm is doing his work diary this week; the end of Tuesday's is a great set-up line for somebody out there.
posted 9:29 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Heidi MacDonald Interviews Frank Miller Part II
Gaiman Auctions Ship Name Rights For CBLDF
Orson Scott Card's Single Mini-Series Becomes Two
Telegraph Profiles R. Crumb
Richard McDonnell Makes Manteca Hall of Fame
Moebius Talks About Difficulty of New Blueberry Cycle
Artist Signs Exclusive With... Top Cow?
Davis, Schwab Target Kids With Learning Difficulties
Dennis the Menace Will Always Be Five and a Half
Illustrator Ted Rand Passes Away

March 15, 2005

Blankets Wins Another European Prize

imageCraig Thompson's Blankets continues to do well overseas at comics festivals, picking up Les Prix Attilio Micheluzzi in the best comic category at the Napoli Comics Festival. The full list of winners:

Meilleure bande dessinee: Blankets (de Craig Thompson -- Coconino Press)
Meilleure serie italienne [best Italian series]: John Doe (de Lorenzo Bartoli & Roberto Recchioni e AA.VV.-- Eura Editoriale)
Meilleur desinateur [best artist]: Massimo Carnevale (I Colori di Carnevale -- Eura Editoriale)
Meilleur scenariste [best writer]: Massimo Semerano (Europa -- Black Velvet)
Meilleure serie etrangere [best foreign series]: Monster (Naoki Urasawa -- Panini Comics)
Meilleur editeur [best publisher]: Kappa Edizioni

Thompson's massive graphic novel won prizes and citations in Europe last Fall, mirroring its succcess in the United States comics awards. Its US publisher is Top Shelf Productions.

At the Salon Europeen de la Bande Dessinee in Nimes, the Albert Uderzo prizes went to Paolo Mottura for his art on Careme in the best new talent category. The other awards went to Philippe Francq and Grzegorz Rosinski. Rosinski was honored for his career. The Salon is being presided over by Jean Giraud.

Photo of Thompson from 2003 by Whit Spurgeon
posted 8:41 am PST | Permalink

Gollancz and Viz Team Up

Kevin Melrose dug up a report that Viz and Gollancz will be teaming up for a manga venture in the United Kingdom. What might be interesting, if I remember my manga rumors correctly, and believe me that's a big if, is if the publishing entity now goes to Diamond to have them stop providing its UK accounts with manga cleared for publication in North America or if that "imports" manga traffic eventually scales back to an actual imports-level business, with dedicated collectors buying rather than an underserved mainstream. I could have that one totally wrong, admittedly.
posted 8:34 am PST | Permalink

Major Press, Major Cartoonists


There are a few notable press pieces up right now covering the alternative-arts portion of the comics field. Cartoonist James Sturm is writing Slate's work diary feature this week, providing a glimpse into his efforts starting the Center for Cartoon Studies. Through Egon we learn that Newsweek's web site not only covers the new Robert Crumb book, it provides readers with a slideshow of photos and art. Adrian Tomine is the subject of a feature in U.S. News and World Report that's massive by their standards or at least from what I remember reading the library's copy during high school study hall. Lots of tidbits of interest, particularly in the Sturm and Tomine pieces, including a sales figure for Tomine's popular Optic Nerve comic book.
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: The LatHouse


With news yesterday that work from the Malaysian cartoonist Lat would soon be published in North American editions by Roaring Brook's First Second imprint, now's the time to reacquaint yourself with the life and work of one of the world's greats. Note: the site is navigated through a pop-up screen that may not show up if your browser blocks that kind of thing thinking it's an ad.
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

They Shoot Cartoonists, Don’t They?

Comixpedia reports that the first of 55 contestants has dropped out of the "Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge," a contest where web cartoonists are competing for a pooled cash prize by seeing who can go the longest with continuous daily updates. The casualty and one-day trivia answer: Demon Dorm Days, by Donald Noffsinger.
posted 8:16 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Heidi MacDonald Interviews Frank Miller, Part Two
Manga as Reading Aid Controversy
New Cartoonist Profile: Brian Crane
New Cartoonist Profile: Hilary Price
International Cartoonist Profile: Ted Rall
Jef Mallett's Frazz Wins Second Wilbur Award (PDF)
Digital Manga, ADV Releases (Up Top)
Singapore Rental Shops Under Fire

March 14, 2005

Steve Sack, Nathaniel R. Creekmore: National Journalism Award Winners


Steve Sack and Nathaniel R. Creekmore have won $10,000 cash awards in the National Journalism Awards announced yesterday by the Scripps Howard Foundation. Sack, of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, beat out finalists Tim Menees (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and Ed Stein (Rocky Mountain News) in the editorial cartooning category. Creekmore won the Charles M. Schulz award for college cartooning for his strip "Maintaining," which runs in the Lipscomb University publication The Babbler. Finalists were Andy Marlette of the University of Florida, Savann James Mok of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Terrence L. Nowicki Jr. of Western Washington University. Creekmore also won the award last year.

The awards were for work in the calendar year 2004. The cash prizes will be awarded at a ceremony in April.
posted 10:54 am PST | Permalink

Herge/Belgium Fight en Anglais

For those of you who have been waiting for an English-language article on the hullabaloo surrounding the exclusion of Herge from a major exhibit marking 175 years of culture in Belgium, this article provides the goods. In this piece, we have Herge's nephew castigating the Tintin estate for not being able to come to an agreement with civic officials that would have allowed the inclusion of his uncle's work.
posted 10:52 am PST | Permalink

Newspapers Face Tough Times Ahead

imageIt's not exactly news that newspapers, the home to a major portion of comics output in America through its traditional role running comic strips, have a lot of obstacles to overcome these days. This includes the tough twosome of declining readership and increased pressure to generate revenue. Nothing lays it out in plain language like the study "The State of the American News Media, 2005," summarized here. I think what's interesting to note for strips is that moves into newspaper growth areas -- online, Spanish language, and alternative papers -- have been pretty limited thus far, or in the case of the first of those three, haphazard and long in coming. Those on-line efforts seem to be under funded, as well as lack consistency and ways to better interact with the print product that builds interest in both.
posted 10:49 am PST | Permalink

Crumb to be Interviewed Onstage

imageTwo of the odder announcements in conjunction with the release of the forthcoming R. Crumb Handbook are 1) that Crumb will be interviewed on stage with cartoonist Steve Bell; it's not exactly extremely rare for Crumb to be interviewed but he hasn't participated in anything exactly like this for a while, and 2) apparently, there's going to be a R. Crumb look-alike contest where the winner gets a date with Aline Kominsky-Crumb, to whom readers have been invited to send questions here. Crumb continued to speak out in the Guardian at the end of last week: here, here and here. Readers react to the Guardian's coverage.
posted 10:39 am PST | Permalink

Mark Siegel Announces Publishing Plans for Roaring Brook’s OGN Imprint


It's a big, meaty interview-driven piece with the editorial director of First Second, including plans to bring Lat's work to audiences in North American editions.
posted 10:37 am PST | Permalink

Allez, lisez: Jiro Taniguchi Interviewed


The artist Jiro Taniguchi has given a fairly lengthy interview, now up at the du9 site. If you're a fan of his work there's a frank discussion of influences and a few tidbits such as the fact he currently employs three assistants; probably enough for an on-line translation.
posted 10:34 am PST | Permalink

Trademark Infringement Portions of Marvel Vs. City of Heroes Case Dismissed

Some portions of the Marvel lawsuit against the City of Heroes case, including a signficant number of complaints relating to trademarke infringement, were dismissed in the middle of last week. Newsarama smartly breaks down what's been scratched and what's left. Most of the official documents in this case between the superhero licensing giant and the companies behind the multi-player on-line role-playing game are being archived here.

This is a tremendously important gaming industry story and only sort-of one for comics. In fact, one could argue the important things about this case in terms of comics have already occurred: continuing evidence that Marvel will be aggressive about protecting its licenses, and Marvel conceiving of its characters in term of a sum of attributes rather than, say, a specific costume, a formulation which could appear in some future comics-related lawsuit.

I continue to reject the notion that this litigation is akin to Marvel suing a crayon company for kids drawing Stingray. Whether or not Marvel has a legal leg to stand on here, it's pretty clear that they're suing as a licensing company that feels the value of a specific type of license has been diminished because of what they see as a nudge-wink strategy that allows if not promotes close approximations of copyrighted characters as an inducement to play. My suspicion is that this will be too difficult for Marvel's lawyers to prove, but at least they'll be losing on a slightly less reactionary point than is being claimed for them.
posted 10:26 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Heidi MacDonald Interviews Frank Miller, Part One
Isn't This the Greatest Picture of Hank Ketcham?
Le Petit Nicolas Event Raises 126,000 Euros
Taddeo to Bid on Acclaim
Webcomics Examiner Returns, But Only to Go on Hiatus
Geppi Buys Sports Auction House
Dissident Voice on Boondocks in Tribune
Guardian Re-Runs Franzen's '04 Peanuts Piece
Local Cartoonist Profile: George Dhindsa
Spider-Man, Hulk Join Circus Not of Crime
Tokyopop Signs Mobile Content Deal
Globe and Mail: New Yorker Cartoons Not Funny
Trenchcoats aren't Capes; Equally Dorky

March 13, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

imageTwo days of warm weather means spring cleaning, which for many American comics fans means buyer's remorse on a level that would close a Wal-Mart staffed entirely by super-intelligent elephants. It also means holding certain comics in your hand, and remembering where you were and what you were thinking when you first encountered them. Out of respect for bags and boards and the people who love them, ten profiles of comics can be found here in "Ten Comics, Ten Memories."

Above: X-Men #125, which got me back into the habit of reading comic books.
posted 8:23 pm PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

News Story: Doonesbury Lists War Dead (2004)
News Story: Web Cartoonist Commits Suicide (2004)
posted 8:21 pm PST | Permalink

March 12, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, March 5 to March 11, 2005:

1. Marvel posts better than expected 4th quarter; sets out to spin forthcoming movie projects and general health of the company, admitting they are working with Stan Lee on a settlement.

2. Peter Paul, former associate of Stan Lee, pleads guilty to a stock manipulation charge stemming from his days at Stan Lee Media, freeing him up for testimony in a case against a Hillary Clinton campaign official with potential political repurcussions.

3. Movement in the Marvel Vs. City of Heroes lawsuit. Newsarama with story.

Winner of the Week
Tom Toles, who won an Opinion Award and a Headliner Award.

Loser of the Week
Diversity in the funny pages, as with news of Barbara Brandon-Croft's retirement of Where I'm Coming From comes the realization that so few voices beyond those of middle-aged caucasian wacky guys have arrived in her wake.

Quote of the Week
"OK. I get it. They can do what they want to do in Herblock's name. But the irony of this award creates a great opportunity to make the point about how terrible The New York Times has been for cartoonists." Daryl Cagle expressing dismay that an award carrying the name of the revered editorial cartoonist Herblock went to such a cartoon-unfriendly institution.

Art from Art of Marvel, all rights reserved, in a Marvel kind of week.
posted 6:05 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Weasel #7: Underbelly
The Walking Dead #16
Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man
Recommendations For the Top Shelf Sale
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

March 11, 2005

Tom Toles Wins National Headliner

imageTom Toles of the Washington Post won his second award of the week with the announcement he placed first in the Editorial Cartoons category of the National Headliner awards. The 71-year-old awards are sponsored by The Press Club of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Toles beat out Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Chip Bok of the Akron Beacon Journal, who placed second and third, respectively.
posted 9:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Chris Ware/Ira Glass DVD Project with John Kuramoto


Thanks to Cris Skokna.
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink

Tokyopop Takuhai: Mail Not Malls

imageA few people wrote in to set me straight/mock me about Tokyopop Takuhai, the free publication Tokyopop is creating from the ashes of its Sneaks publication. As the business analysis site notes, the convention-focus of the publication stays much the same as its predecessor no matter how much some idiot may find it interesting that Tokyopop is going to offer up a potentially more standard publication at these events for free. The true changes are in format, content and that it will be mailed to potential clients. I plead bad writing in addition to some degree of ignorance, because certainly I've picked up Tokyopop's sampler publications at past shows.

As an aside, it occurs to me that this kind of measurable, traffic-focused cross-marketing opportunity -- a tv commercial directing people to a special web site, web sites directing people onto mailing lists in exchange for merchandise, and so on -- is where a lot of marketing energy is spent right now. With Senior VP Stephanie Fierman's background, I wouldn't be surprised if DC does something similar in the future, at least in terms of driving traffic from one platform to another. Anyway, click on the jpeg if you want to sign up and receive Tokyopop's sampler.

There's a dissenting view on Tokyopop's publicity efforts and an interesting comparison to AOL from a poster on Evan Dorkin's on-line journal. It's probably also worth noting that the company is about to begin judging on its fifth "Rising Star" competition, which they've already whittled down to 20 top entrants.
posted 9:29 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Martin Tom Dieck

posted 9:27 am PST | Permalink

Gay Unwed Junkies Take Over Comics

Kevin Melrose had this article first, but I hope he won't mind if I make further note of its daffy, Billy Pilgrim quality and general oddball nature. Somehow the writer manages to make use of a half-dozen plot lines of the last 35 years of the kind that might run afoul of the Hays Code and fashions it into some strange kaleidescope of disreputable behavior. It's been a few years since I've seen the specter of Lobo invoked, that's for sure. The tone is more grandma at the pride parade than preacher at a book burning, but I don't think I've seen or heard anybody use gays and junkies interchangeably since the last time I saw a rerun of Cannon.

Hey, if comic books do end up making a return to their traditional values, at least the bloodthirsty racists among us can look forward to the wholesale slaughter of animalistic Japanese.

posted 9:05 am PST | Permalink

Full Albert Uderzo Prize Nominee List

CR Reader Hunter (Pedro Bouca) was nice enough to write in that my suspicions were right about the incompleteness of information regarding nominees for the Albert Uderzo award. The full list is here.

He adds, "I would vote Loisel and Alary, but I admit I don't know most of the young talents."
posted 9:03 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Sauvez Tintin!
Why Cathy Doesn't Have a Nose
Zulli's Last Sandman Painting; Gaiman Explains
Bucks County Choose "One Book": Maus
Leshinski on Exhibit: Where are the Superheroes?
Forward: Gerard Jones' Book, Jerry Robinson's Exhibit
Round-Up of European BD Charity Efforts W/Links
Digital Manga's New Titles
Citizen Melrose's Crime Watch: Annapolis

March 10, 2005

Toles Wins Cartooning Opinion Award

imageThe great Tom Toles of the Washington Post has won the cartooning category in this year's Opinion Awards, sponsored by THE WEEK magazine. Other than a pretty impressive group of nominees and claims for their status made in publicity, it's hard to tell if these are a big thing or a non thing, but giving an award to Toles makes them reasonably legitimate in my eyes.
posted 11:01 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Gary Panter’s Smoke Wagon

posted 10:58 am PST | Permalink

Tokyopop Takuhei Readies For Launch

The manga giant Tokyopop will be publishing a new, free magazine called Tokyopop Takuhei, driven by previews of the company's titles. It's partly a shift from their previous giveaway program, and will include various articles and behind the scenes looks as well. Not only is this a potentially powerful promotional device, it's interesting to note that they're tying this into convention attendance. Thus Tokyopop becomes the first entity in comics to actually answer the question, "How do we get all these people at these various conventions to read our comics?"
posted 10:55 am PST | Permalink

Doonesbury’s Hunter Thompson Tribute


Garry Trudeau's tribute to generational icon Hunter S. Thompson, the obvious inspiration for the Uncle Duke character, has been unfolding this week in the Doonesbury strip. It's the Tuesday strip that some people find unsettling. You can read a widely disseminated article about the tribute here, and Editor and Publisher's take here. I'm still waiting for someone to point out how Trudeau was injured in Aspen not too long ago and draw some spooky Lincoln/Kennedy connection. Okay, maybe not.
posted 10:49 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Leisuretown Back Up

posted 10:42 am PST | Permalink

Pair of Albert Uderzo Prize Nominees

I'm not sure exactly what to make of this, as I can't tell if this is a couple of nominees in a single division, but Paulo Mottura (Lent) and Patrick Laumond (John Lord) have been nominated for an Albert Uderzo prize for young talent, 2004. This prize will be given out at 4eme Salon Europeen de la Bande Dessinee, March 11-13. Didier Poli won in 2004.
posted 10:37 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Citizen Melrose: Comic Shop Sells Drugs
CLAMP Profile, Exhibit
Boondocks Helps You Survive
UFS Announces Comic Strip Set in Gym (PDF)
Peter David Points Out Personal Motives Can Sometimes Drive Free Speech Cases
Will 7-11 Fans Read Comics Written For Collection?
Win a Cool R. Crumb Book (SR)

March 9, 2005

Peter Cuneo: Lee/Marvel Ruling Helpful

imagePeter Cuneo became the first Marvel Enterprises executive to halfway admit in public the company is negotiating with Stan Lee over his contract dispute with the company. He did so by saying that the first-round win Lee enjoyed had led to helpful determinations as far as what issues should be on the table. As you may recall, the dispute relates to Lee signing a 1998 contract that included a clause for a percentage of movie-related profits.

I do think it's a bit much to predict a settlement might be announced soon, mostly as it's long been obvious that a settlement might be announced soon. I mean, it's fun, you can say you called it, but the fact is, Stan Lee's lawyer planned to be on the phone with Marvel the first or second day after the first decision was announced. The decision was crushing enough it left very little basis on which to be challenged except for the sake of challenging, which is the kind of sustained voyage into gray areas where a company that is beholden to stockholder and movie studios never wishes to travel. Lee is a reluctant client, an older client, and one that could probably benefit much more from a sizeable payout now than a potentially more sizeable payout later. Lee has enjoyed a succession of great jobs, but the Lees have always lived pretty well and despite ending up with a solid financial advice team a few years back after years of not making commitments in that direction, the comic book legend has never made the significant lump sum that takes the pressure off of constantly earning. In addition, some believe that the Stan Lee Media years may have cost Lee some of his reserves, such as they were.
posted 12:11 pm PST | Permalink

Barbara Brandon-Croft Ending Strip

Cartoonist Barbara Brandon-Croft has announced to Editor and Publisher she'll soon be ending her strip Where I'm Coming From. Where I'm Coming From became nationally syndicated in 1991 after a limited-paper run starting in 1989. You may remember the strip; it's pretty graphically distinctive, although I had a hard enough time reading it I didn't know until today there were recurring characters.

The Brooklyn-based cartoonist has long been known as the only African-American woman with a syndicated strip, and although I'm not sure why the syndicates can't just confirm this, may have been the first black female with a strip from a major syndicate. She confirms the reason it's going is disinterest, telling E&P her client list had dwindled to seven newspapers, approximately 1/10 of what a feature generally needs to remain profitable for its backers.

For some reason, upon reading this I flashed back to seeing her on CNN with Patrick McDonnell.
posted 12:04 pm PST | Permalink

Chris Butcher on Tenjho Tenge Fiasco

imageDespite all the crowing for having predicted the problem, Christopher Butcher's piece on the Tenjho Tenge controversy is probably the most cogent and complete piece of writing out there on this issue thus far. Butcher's mini-essay is strongest when he points out mainstream American comic book company attitudes regarding the material with which they work and how that might play with manga fans.

In a nutshell for the link-weary among you, DC Comics' manga imprint CMX altered a popular acquisition so that it would be much less furiously sexualized. This enraged American manga fans who demand authenticity from translated works, and feel they were promised that by DC. This led to heat on various message boards, complaints to DC, and threats of boycott. There is even a rally-point web site. Most commentators such as Butcher have pointed out that if CMX were to put out the manga unaltered, they run the risk of problems with retailers and backing some really, really strong material. This just looks like an unfortunate acquisition, handled especially poorly as Del Rey faced the same controversy early last year with one of their books. As Butcher and others point out, even Publishers Weekly felt compelled to note the strong fan reaction here, like a genteel neighbor in slippers wandering into the keg party next door to count holes in drywall.

My guess is that the most interesting angle to pay attention to here will be how this could potentially shape DC's attitude towards investing in manga, and how it could generally ratchet up the supposed high-stress unpleasantness rumored to exist at the company.
posted 11:49 am PST | Permalink

Captain America Notes Bravery of Fictional Universe’s French in Funnybook; Bored, Angry People React

What might seem to longtime readers fairly solid and typical Captain America character work from writer Ed Brubaker seems to have set off a minor wave of spittle-on-the-screen commentary from the aggressively political minded. You can start right here and poke around. There are some mainstream comic book writers who do this kind of thing on purpose.
posted 11:36 am PST | Permalink

Poached From Drawn!: Snowcat


This link and recommendation were discovered not through any effort of my own but by swiping from the new group blog Drawn!, which looks like it will feature items of interest to illustrators and cartoonists, some like this precious thing above, others having to do with resources and practical advice.
posted 10:17 am PST | Permalink

Melrose: Diamond Buys NY Space

In an astoundingly great get by Kevin Melrose at Thought Ballooons, we find out that Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. has bought some New York space. I have no idea what that means, and anything I can dream up off the top of my head screams "Total Train Wreck That No One Would Approve," but it's sure worth noting.

Updated: I had four different, shy people write me to say some combination of this is no big deal, not retail space the way we think of it, and properly reflects the interest a company Diamond's size and interests might have in maintaning space for the one-yearly toy show.
posted 10:13 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
European Cartoonist Tsunami Art Auction
Bill Baker on Peanuts
Christians Love Epileptic
Karin Kross: Bad Movies Through Assumption of Genre
Paula Lowitt Joins DC as Senior VP

March 8, 2005

Peter Paul to Plead Guilty; Will Testify Against Hillary Clinton Campaign Official

imagePeter Paul, one time business ally of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and driving force behind poster child for Internet economy fiascoes, Stan Lee Media, is expected to plead guilty to one count of stock manipulation today. This frees Paul up for testimony in one of those Rosetta Stone cases for political pundits: indictments against a Hillary Clinton campaign official accused of not reporting funds from a Paul-organized fundraising party in a way that allowed for a more beneficial distribution of financial assets to the Senator's election efforts.

Some believe that it was largely on Paul's advice that Lee pursued the deal with Marvel that is also in litigation now and may yield the lifetime Marvel employee a share of movie and related licensing profits.

More coverage from The Comics Reporter at The Pulse.

Old Stan Lee Media icon.
posted 8:13 am PST | Permalink

Cagle Questions Herblock Award to NYT

imageDaryl Cagle, an influential voice among editorial cartoonists and former president of the National Cartoonists Society, has expressed his dismay that the Herbert Block Freedom Award given out by The Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America went to the New York Times. The Times does not have a staff editorial cartoonist, and Cagle expressed dismay at the irony they would receive an award named after one. This view was reinforced by Cagle readers in his blog's comments section.

As much as I respect Cagle, and believe his observation worth noting, unless there's some rigid aspect to the late cartoonist Block's take on newspapers and journalism so strong as to automatically exclude consideration of unsupportive publications even though he passed on saying so explicitly and contributed heavily elsewhere for those kinds of awards, I think the committee's choice is legitimate despite the irony. I would also guess from reading Cagle's characterization of Judith Miller that he disagrees with the award on political grounds, and from another wisecrack that he doesn't agree with such a large institution being given an award, which makes me discount slightly the passion with which he argues his most salient point as deriving solely from that point.

That is Jim Borgman's caricature of Herblock, which I include here to show how the artist was held in high regard.
posted 8:07 am PST | Permalink

More Crumbs Than I Figured


You wouldn't have learned it here, but apparently The Guardian's take on Crumb is going to be a weeklong affair, and will include art you can access by scrolling down to the bottom of the intro page. And here's today's contribution: Crumb's view on censorship and taboo.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Tintin Fails to Make Anniversary Cut?

imageHere's one of those odd stories that kind of floats about in an uncongealed manner from various sources. Apparently, a civic celebration of the 175th anniversary of Belgium will not include Herge's Tintin the way other important artists and works of national identity are likely to be featured. It seems there was some sort of conflict between the caretakers of the character and the organization planning the celebration as to what items might be included in the major displays and who would make them. It looks like at some point the celebration simply walked away.
posted 7:58 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty reviews Smart Monkey by Winshluss, a comic he could see published in North America sooner rather than later.
posted 7:54 am PST | Permalink

CJR’s Case For Comics Journalism

imageThe respected Columbia Journalism Review holds forth on the subject of journalism through the comics medium, in a mostly well-done survey article of important artists and various issues. The only unsatisfying element in the essay is its vague discussion how journalism in comics form developed, a question for which it's admittedly difficult to find an answer. A lot of newspaper cartooning and illustration served a similar function for decades, and you can see comics-type reports in a lot of magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. They may not have had a direct effect on people like Joe Sacco, who may have been more personally influenced by personal essayists like Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb, or historians like Jack Jackson. I still have to imagine such comics and cartooning might have enjoyed a greater role in shaping a place for today's comics of this type than raise-the-medium popular hits like Dark Knight Returns.

From an Art Spiegelman selection included in the article.
posted 7:47 am PST | Permalink

Kevin Melrose on PW Coverage

Kevin Melrose breaks down recent Publishers Weekly comics coverage for those of us who don't subscribe, including a report on a new manga line from Tokyopop and a report from presentations made by Neil Gaiman and Art Spiegelman that reinforce a very smart point: that a lot of graphic novels currently in production may be in production to take advantage of a potentially profitable publishing niche rather than books anyone will necessarily want.
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

The Beat On Marvel’s Public Face

imageHeidi MacDonald does a nice job breaking down Marvel's points of emphasis during its announcement of the company's fourth quarter 2004 financial performance, all of which sounds like it's preparing for some troubled or at least "hit light" waters ahead.

We're looking at you, Ghost Rider.
posted 7:41 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Trudeau Off of Injured Reserve
Local Cartoonist Profile: Bob Jumper
Profile of Asian On-Line Comics Scene
Minneapolis Explains Boondocks Decision
Superhero Novel Profiled
Pop Star Cameo in Nancy
Local Cartoonist Profiles: Jesse Spring and Rob Harriman
French Can Now Learn Japanese Through Manga


March 7, 2005

Tony Auth Wins ‘04 Herblock Prize


The Philadelphia Inquirer's Tony Auth has won the $10,000 tax-free prize given out by the Herb Block Foundation in conjunction with its namesake award, now in its second year. Auth was cited for leavening his social critiques with a sense of hope, primarily through the type of humor he employs. Matt Davies won last year.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

More on Canadian Manga Arrest

An update on ANN about last week's arrest in Edmonton related to the importation of pornographic manga gives a few more numbers and related facts, as well as some odd attempts at context by the reporter.
posted 7:53 am PST | Permalink

Pulitzer Prize “Nominees” Leaked?


Editor and Publisher feels confident enough in its sourcework to post a leaked list of Pulitzer Prize finalists. Although not binding, these short lists are generally from where the winner is announced. Unlike the E&P list's writing categories, which features emerging newspapers in Newark and Oregon, the projected cartoonist slate proves fairly conservative. Each man has won in the past.

Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader
Don Wright, Palm Beach Post (pictured above)
Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury

The winners are announced in April.
posted 7:42 am PST | Permalink

Marvel: 4th Quarter is Our Quarter

Marvel Enterprises, Inc. hit with better than expected 4th quarter profits, including a big bump from its merchandising arrangement with Sony that I seem to recall some observers had doubts would lead to big yields when announced. In the land of comics, the bottom-line on publishing seems strong, indicating that what some fans might see as the perceived slowdown of innovative comics titles and creative pairings may also be a smart, conservative, shoring up of the core properties. The analysis article tells you what you need to know, but it's much more fun to dig into the wire piece with all the numbers. Speaking of which, I'm not a movie guy, but the 2006 slate looks pretty brutal, particularly if Fantastic Four fails to hit and pressure builds on the next round to get them out of a perceived Elektra/Fantastic Four mini-slump.
posted 7:36 am PST | Permalink

Funky and Brenda: Cultural Critics


As many of you have e-mailed to mention, the retailer seen above in today's Funky Winkerbean looks like he might be placing a call to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund by this time tomorrow. As I recall, a previous comics-related storyline dealt more generally with the struggles to keep a store open. Brenda Starr, on the other hand, has come out against punditry, pausing for a shot at Dennis Miller.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

“Everything that is strong in me has gone into my art work”—Robert Crumb in The Guardian

imageThis is a generally well-written examination of the Underground Comix legend and perhaps Greatest Living Cartoonist, now 62, as spread out across a few articles: Simon Hattenstone's visit and interview, Robert Hughes' profile (including some interesting comparisons to other '60s-era artists), and Steve Bell's appreciation. It did leave me with one question, though -- did the film Crumb not show up in the U.K. until 2001?
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink

Subways in Budapest Feature Maus


I'm using the file photo, and hope that's okay.
posted 7:08 am PST | Permalink

Top Shelf Productions’ Very Big Sale

Significantly-sized publisher sales are enough of a rarity they can almost qualify as consumer news all by themselves; throw in Top Shelf's history over the last few years and the always precarious exsitence enjoyed by independent publishers and it becomes worthy of a news item. The sale features a $30 minimum; these recommendations will at least get you halfway there.
posted 7:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Sorority Woman Defends Her Kind from Cartoonist
Local Cartoonist Profile: John Byrne
Jack Knox Makes Visual Essay on Rural Life
Local Cartoonist Profile: Boy Tan Togonon
Local Cartoonist Profile: Alan J. Nash
Hometown Cartoonist Profile: Matthew Diffee
Arthur Suydam Signs With Soleil
Tiny Comics in a Box

March 6, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

imageThe rights to Superman and Superboy are to be challenged in court by the creators' families sooner rather than later, according to legal documents obtained by the comics news site Newsarama. Should we expect the destruction of the comics industry the way we know it? Probably not. In fact, the case might not be enough to make much of a ripple in the way most comics readers and industry professionals think about the specific issues it engages. In Faster, More Powerful, Able, the case is made that maybe now is the time and opportunity we pursue a culture and industry where this is the last case of its kind.
posted 3:42 pm PST | Permalink

Pulled From The Longbox

News Story: Cartoonists Hold Kerry "Bake Sale" (2004)
News Story: Reaction to Colwell Painting Forces Owner to Quit (2004)
News Story: Marvel Solidifies Plans for Prose Line (2004)
News Story: Hoosier Literary Journal Includes Comics (2004)
posted 3:56 am PST | Permalink

March 5, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, February 26 to March 4, 2005:

1. Turkey risks major political fall-out, including greater economic and political participation with western European nations, as its prime minister seemingly can't stop suing cartoonists who dare to draw about him.

2. Lawyers for both sides gear up for Superman/Superboy case; Newsarama on the ball.

3. Tie: Marvel expands distribution into bookstores, convenience stores/Newspapers begin to drop episodes of strips like The Boondocks as a matter of course, wth no major fall-out.

Winner of the Week
Marvel, for the bump of good publicity for the new distribution deals coming off the stinkola performance of Elektra.

Loser of the Week
DC, whose recent personnel moves can now, in the light of Marvel's announcements, be viewed by the cynical as if they're moving office furniture around while their major rival takes action, plus the PR minefeld that is potential legislation with the Siegels and Shusters looms on the horizon. Even manga fans aren't happy with the company this week.

Quote of the Week
"It was about 11 pm on a Thursday, with my strips unwritten and due the next day, and instead of being in a healthy deadline panic, all I could think about was how my druid was about to hit level 20 and get the cat form ability. The strips pretty much wrote themselves at that point." -- Bill Amend, bravely letting the world how stay-at-home creative people really work, in an interview on a plotline about the on-line role-playing game World of Warcraft in his newspaper strip Foxtrot.

Selection from today's episode of The Boondocks, which won't be appearing in some of its client papers.
posted 4:43 am PST | Permalink

Extras, PR and Other Raw Material

Extra - Bill Yoshida, RIP: Bill_Yoshida,_RIP.doc
PR - 3 Boys Production: 3_Boys_Production_PR.doc
PR - June/July DHC Releases PDF: June
PR - Create Comics 2005: createcomics2005.doc
PR - Slott to Marvel: Dan_Slott_to_Marvel.doc
PR - Rivera to Marvel: Rivera_Exclusive.doc
PR - Luann is 20: Luann's_20th_Anniversary.doc
posted 4:40 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Nick Mag Presents: Best of Comics
A Strange Day
Jokester Magazine #1
The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo
Cromartie High School Volume 1
Wanted #4-5
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #1
posted 4:35 am PST | Permalink

March 4, 2005

More Papers Skipping More Boondocks

imageEditor and Publisher has the news almost before it happens, with a short piece on the Miami Herald skipping The Boondocks today and tomorrow for approximate use of the slang word "nigga." One of the odder reasons given by the Herald is that people may not know cartoonist Aaron McGruder is black. I have to imagine that as many people as care to think about it know or at least assume McGruder is black, and I can't imagine the paper would receive complaints where that would be the crucial issue. "Unless I can be assured of something about the cartoonist, I have a complaint to make."

In a related article the Chicago Tribune's public editor -- a supposed reader advocate employed by the paper -- takes a long, Family Circus-style walk through the issues surrounding dropping episodes of newspaper strips. If you can stay awake, it's a pretty good primer on the decision-making process, or at least the mindset of those who will evetually make these decisions. The astonishing claim that Alley Oop still runs in 600 markets might startle some of you into an upright position, although I'm guessing that's just the case of an added zero.
posted 9:21 am PST | Permalink

Newsarama Begins Series on Siegel Suits

imageMatt Brady aims to pull apart and examine the various Siegel Family suits regarding Superman, in a sure-to-be must-read series.
posted 9:16 am PST | Permalink

Man Charged Due To Explicit Manga

In a brief that showed up on the wires last night, a man was arrested in Canada for owning and importing pornographic manga. I never thought of it before, but dirty manga might make a really good target for prosecutors in general. Not only does such strong material play into a stereotype of comics being for children, the stylization used in some manga might be construed as the depiction of children.
posted 9:14 am PST | Permalink

European Comics Activism Varies Greatly

imageA couple of short news items from the French-language comics market indicate a couple of ways in which comics can engage social issues. On the one hand, originals from the Le Petit Nicolas books have been made available for an auction to aid a cancer charity. On the other hand, it looks like one BD album will include a condom in support of AIDS education.
posted 9:07 am PST | Permalink

Marvel in Schools: Huzzah or Huurgh?

Another announcement made by Marvel in their most recent press conference I kind of passed over on this blog is an in-school initiative featuring The Fantastic Four. It didn't occur to me until I read how described it, and perhaps I'm just old, but isn't using an educational program to hype some goofy summer movie kind of gross? Will there be competing lesson plans from The Longest Yard? Maybe somebody can do school lunch trays in the shape of Will Ferrell's and Nicole Kidman's heads.
posted 9:04 am PST | Permalink

CMX Censors First Tenjho Tenge

imageI don't know that I have the contextual knowledge to figure out how important this is -- for instance, I'm not sure if authenticity in translation is a big issue for readers outside of hardcore fandom -- but ANN draws attention to a blow-by-blow report covering how heavily the first volume in a new series from CMX was changed. CMX is the DC Comics manga imprint, which makes this more noteworthy than if it were a small start-up. A second volume in the series is due in June.
posted 8:49 am PST | Permalink

World Press Picks Up on Story of Turkish Prime Minister Suing Cartoonists

A number of news sites have either mirrored or contributed their own story about Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suing cartoonists when they depict him in a manner he doesn't like, including sources in the U.S., Belgium, within Turkey, and the BBC with an updated version of their earlier story. All of the stories note how odd it is for a prime minister who was once punished for reading a poem to not follow the meaning implicit in his own journalistic reforms and choose such a regressive strategy, but I think the most important thing is if the story gains enough traction to brand Turkey as a place not ready to accept standard democratic reforms. With Turkey seeking greater access to the West, that could result in major political fall-out.
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

Yesterday Was Curious Essay Day

imageHeidi MacDonald writes about Marvel's return to 7-11s and Stephanie Fierman's moves at DC as if they were crucial battles won in the Geek Crusades instead of new business initiatives. For his part, soon-to-be-on-hiatus gossip master Rich Johnston writes about V for Vendetta, soon to be a slightly aggravating motion picture near you, as if he were a guy walking into a crowded bar with an open bag of flour and a big smile on his face. I enjoyed reading each one of them, but they both seemed really weird to me.
posted 8:23 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Ted Rall's Hate Speech Death Threat Round-Up
Mr. Punch Radio Play
Neil Gaiman Learns: Don't Go On After Art Spiegelman
Rondo Hatton Horror Comic Award Winner
Iraqi Newspaper Threatened Over Cartoon
Local Cartoonist Profile: Len Yokoyama, Dennis Fujitake
There's a Syndicated Strip About Fast Food
Gilda Teixeira Coelho, RIP

March 3, 2005

Anybody Out There Need a Job?

Looks likes lots of experience necessary.

Thank you, Erin.
posted 10:44 am PST | Permalink

Papers Including Chicago Tribune Pass on The Boondocks with Bush Drug Jokes


In the sort of move that's becoming regrettably common, a handful of newspapers including the Chicago Tribune chose not to run a recent episode of Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks. The strip in question made jokes in reference to alleged drug use by President Bush. Of the papers who chose not to run with the most controversial strip, the Chicago Tribune said the reason was that it stated an unconfirmed rumor as fact. The Tribune also chose not to run the next day's strip that made a more oblique reference. The Tribune recently chose not to run a Prickly City strip that invoked Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick car accident, a similar case albeit one from the opposite end of the political spectrum. The Boondocks also had trouble with some papers over a Black History Month related strip in February.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Herbert Block Freedom Award to NYT

After giving much deserved praise to J.N. Darling, or "Ding," for his conservationist legacy, it's only fair to note the work of the foundation created by the estate of Herbert Block, "Herblock," from the fortune created by years of accrued investment in his employer. This year's Herbert Block Freedom Award goes to the New York Times for their resistance to subpoenas regarding evidence sources.
posted 7:53 am PST | Permalink

Rental Copyrights: Could They Change the Shape of the Korean Comics Market?

imageHere is a nice, short article on how a "rental copyright" solution could shake up a Korean comics rental market already thought to be somewhat weak. Many comics are read in various Asia countries through rentals at a shop or store rather than through purchases, an extended profit from individual books for which the creators currently receive nothing. Although there are no serious rental revenues on comics in the United States, similar rewards have been sought by recording artists on re-sold CDs.

From the Korean cartoonist Lee Vin. My first two attempts were duds. (thanks to all of you who noticed!)
posted 7:48 am PST | Permalink

Marvel: Singin’ Songs a/b the Southland

A smart and on the ball Heidi MacDonald was the first to pick up on Marvel's announcement to stockholders that they will be putting comics into the 5500+ 7-11s nationwide, and goosing their Barnes and Noble distribution from 50 to 300 stores. A lot of punditry was focused on the virtues of having comics accessible in the way they could be 7-11s, but I actually think the latter deal may be better for Marvel. The whys:
1. According to Marvel, the Barnes and Noble deal is built on success in the initial stores, while the 7-11 program will have to be built on past failures.

2. Marvel's current price points and formatting transfer much better to Barnes and Noble's specialty magazine and new book selection than it does to 7-11 with its sodas and hot dogs. If Marvel tries a new format or price point at 7-11, it may work and it may not.

3. Matt Brady's usual exemplary source work with Marvel suggests that the beneficiary of the 7-11 deal may be an only modestly successful younger kids' line.

4. My guess is that Marvel's expansion at Barnes and Noble will be urban to suburban. Rhetorical evidence suggests that the suburban big box stores are still somewhat untapped as markets for comics.

Anyway, I'm probably not alone in suggesting that perhaps the most interesting thing about the 7-11 deal is how DC reacts to Marvel's Big Gulp Sputnik; the potential for a two-company push into this area is probably greater than one. One other thing I'm interested in is if this could ever extend to 7-11's 25,000+ stores internationally, as American comics and American big gulps might be a pretty good match.
posted 7:41 am PST | Permalink

Why European Comics is Different than North American Comics, Example #2842

In this article, Didier Pasamonik rips into Belgian officials for what he perceives as that country's wavering public support for and lack of administrative savvy applied to the comics arts. Even in a Bizarro World where the U.S. government fostered comics-related shows and festivals and museums, I could never imagine someone making a comparison between comics and other supported arts using high-profile classical music hires.
posted 7:34 am PST | Permalink

Art Spiegelman: Yiddish and Comics

imageIn a very brief interview that might be worth an on-line translation for you formalists out there, Art Spiegelman expands on comments that the language of comics and Yiddish have comparable features. He also gracefully responds to an observation I hadn't heard yet, the suggestion that his recent recognition by the French cultural ministry had more to do with the anniversary of Auschwitz than an estimation of the award-winning cartoonist's career output.
posted 7:26 am PST | Permalink

Update: Turkish PM’s Cartoon Lawsuits

The attempts by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to control critical political cartoons by suing the papers and their cartoonists continues to come under international scrutiny. The article also reports that one court in Turkey had harsh words concerning the practice and threw out a case. The preceding two cases involving cartoonists had been won by the prime minister.
posted 7:22 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: Court Blocks Webcomix Punishment
Art Auction and Book For Wm Messner-Loebs
Citizen Melrose's Crime Beat: Virginia
Enough Junk, Even Spider-Man Junk, Good for Kids
Uruguay Magazine Publishes 500th Issue
Alumni Cartoonist Profile: Marc Sumerak
European Manga Magazine Croaks
Local Cartoonist Profile: Gary Oliver

March 2, 2005

Graphic Novels up 25% to $204 million

The comics industry business site has released some of its own year-end 2004 numbers, featuring analysis that graphic novels have increased their market to $204 million a year. In a later point, the site claims that there has been growth for the format in both direct market stores and bookstores, but that the increase in bookstores is greater. Rather than just running all of their numbers here, I encourage you to read their article. The fascinating numbers will come over the next two years, as a lot of book publisher-generated material hits the stands, many in formats with little in the way of recent success, meaning a chance the period may be known, as a friend put it, as "1993 with spines."
posted 9:02 am PST | Permalink

Pietro Ardito, 1919-2005

imageThe Italian comics industry web site afNews has noted in brief on its blog the passing of Pietro Ardito.

The Argentinian-born artist was a popular caricaturist in Italy, where he lived the majority of his life, working for a number of publications.

The artist's minimalistic portrayal of Gandhi.
posted 8:51 am PST | Permalink

Background on Gordon Lee’s Earlier Win provides a full report on a case that retailer Gordon Lee won in Georgia, which involved the return of materials seized. There had been some inaccurate writing, including some inexcusable hackwork from me, as to whether or not Lee had won an appeal on an obscenity conviction (he hadn't). Perhaps this win, related to but distinct from the original judgment, is a reason why there was some confusion.

Lee, of Rome, Georgia's shop Legends, is currently facing charges in Georgia of of "distributing material depicting nudity" and a charge of "distributing obscene material to a minor" stemming from a more recent incident. His case is being backed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink

Lynn Johnston Wins Debwewin Citation


Lynn Johnston's syndicate Universal has released news that the cartoonist won the 2004 Debwewin Citation for Excellence in Aboriginal-issues journalism. Johnston received the award for a storyline whereby the character of Elizabeth teaches in a northern Canadian Indian community. The story has been going on for several years, says the syndicate, but only more recently came to the attention of the Union of Ontario Indians, who give out the award.

The popular strip, which many believe Johnston will choose to end sometime in the next few years, was praised for depictions that avoided stereotypes. The prize, given last December, is a specially mounted feather.
posted 8:16 am PST | Permalink

Amend on World of Warcraft Storyline


Love it or despise it, Bill Amend's popular newspaper strip Fox Trot seems to do a fine job capturing the various geek obsessions held by its character Jason. Not only does Amend have a good ear for, say, what movie the kid will find himself seeing over and over, but he also usually gets the nuances of the behavior right. In a field known more for being furiously out of touch with the right now, this is an underappreciated if not unique skill.

In this message board interview about a recent plotline, we learn how Amend approached one such storyline and why.

Thanks to Gus Mastrapa for the link.
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: OJR on Editorial Cartooning

The Annenberg School at USC's On-Line Journalism Review, a grand old adolescent in the mostly diapered or deceased field of web magazines, has published an engaging short piece on the effect the Internet has had on editorial cartooning. I'm not sure how effctively the article answers its initial question, but it contains handy, straight-forward descriptions of things like the size of the editorial cartooning talent field as well as some solid insight as to attitudes surrounding the field and specific problems facing it. I also like how the focus is just as much on the Internet as an enabler of certain working arrangements as it is on its effectiveness as a marketing or publishing platform.
posted 8:06 am PST | Permalink

Comics Festival Mania Hits Canada


The Toronto Comic Arts Festival has released its solid if not quite spectacular guest list, complete with biographies for the majority and the appropriate links. I've checked off below the guests witth whom I can safely say at 3:23 in the morning I'm actually familiar.
Adjournay, Atilla - *Altergott, Rick - *Anderson, Ho Che - Arora, Neelam - Aylard, Adam - *Bell, Gabrielle - *Bell, Marc - Blackett, Matthew - Bone, J - *Bordeaux, Ariel - *Braddock, Paige - Brosgol, Vera - *Brown, Chester - *Brown, Jeffrey - *Castree, Genevieve - *Chantler, Scott - *Cloonan, Becky - *Clugston, Chynna - Comeau, Michael - *Cooke, Darwyn - Dawson, Willow - Dela Cruz, Arthur - *Devlin, Tom - *Doucet, Julie - *Douglas, Max / Salgood Sam - Fawkes, Ray - Fish, Tim - Ganter, Amy Kim - Guldemonde, Marcel - *Harkham, Sammy - *Heatley, David - *Hiti, Sam - *Hornschemeier, Paul - Hutsul, Chris - *Jean, James - Kibuishi, Kazu - Kim, Eric - *Larson, Hope - Lewis, Corey - Lex, Jason - *Lutes, Jason - *Mahfood, Jim - Manale, Steve - Matte, Johane - *McKenney, Craig - McLeod, Kagan - *McNeil, Carla Speed - McPherson, Tara - *McTigue, Maureen - Mejias, John - Ngui, Marc - *Nilsen, Anders - Noonan, Michael - *Oliveros, Chris - *O'Malley, Bryan - *Panter, Gary - PARTYKA-USA - Perez, Ramon - Perro, Florentine - *Pitzer, Chris - Pohl-Weary, Emily - Pultz, Jason - *Reynolds, Eric - *Roman, Dave - *Rugg, Jim - *Runton, Andy - *Seth - Shannon, Ben - *Shaw, Dash - *Smith, Jeff - *Soo, Kean - *Soto, Zack - *Stall, Vincent - *Stein, Leslie - *Stewart, Cameron - *Tamblyn, Diana - *Telgemeier, Raina - *Torres, J - *Vellekoop, Maurice - *Yount, Ryan - *Zdarsky, Chip

I would say the biggies here are Gary Panter, Jeff Smith, and Seth, and two cartoonists who hardly ever attend these kinds of things, Chester Brown and Julie Doucet. Cartoonists on the upswing in terms of attention are well represented, with names like Jim Rugg, Dash Shaw, David Heatley, Marc Bell and Leslie Stein. I can't recall Maurice Vellekoop or Ho Che Anderson ever being scheduled to appear at something like this before, so those are really good gets as well. It sounds like a really good show.

What looks to be a more modest festival is planned for next month in Quebec, April 6-10, which at the very least sports another handsome poster, by announced guest Michel Rabagliati.


posted 7:42 am PST | Permalink on Daily Grind Contest has the best write-up I've seen on the Daily Grind contest whereby a group of web cartoonists have pooled $20 each with the money going to the person who goes the longest making daily updates to their feature. If nothing else, such a contest speaks to the value that web cartoonists place on regular installments as the creator's contrbution to an understood pact made between a creator and her readers. The contest has gained in buzz since Scott Kurtz of PvP joined up. Not only is Mr. Kurtz an extremely well-known figure in webcomix, if not the most well-known, PvP is his job.
posted 7:32 am PST | Permalink

Kurt Busiek on The Gateway Book Myth

imageWriter Kurt Busiek points out the underlying oddness of the gateway book question in a survey at the on-line magazine Sequential Tart. Comics fans, comic book fans in particular, frequently dwell on the notion of books that are more likely to be read by non-comics readers in a way that gets them interested in comics in general. Busiek basically points that a gateway book should be whatever that person wants to read. As someone with little to no desire to get people to read comics if they don't want to, what's fascinating to me is how much of what's offered up in surveys like this one is based on the perceived appeal of a subject manner or genre, which one might imagine is a personal preference, and not just formal issues like what is easy to understand and read. My personal viewpoint has always been that many people are aware of comics, and can manage to get through one if they want to, they're just not all that interested, particularly if it costs them money.

Jules Feiffer's Sick, Sick, Sick: Gateway book for its highly verbal panel progressions, or not a gateway for its treatment of late 1950s urban neuroses?
posted 7:12 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Chris Ware Segment on Arte TV Seeded by Blogger
Nazara Acquires Mobile Rights to Archie
Best Sellers Illustrated, Diamond Books Sign Exclusive
Puffin/Preiss Artists Announced
Miyazaki/Moebius Exhibit Held Over
Webcomics Begged First
Random Comic Strip Generator Has Many Fans
Broccoli Acquires Kamui
Ted Rall's Anti-Blogger Article

March 1, 2005

Umberto Manfrin, 1927-2005


Italian comics veteran Umberto Manfrin passed away Monday. Manfrin began making comics in 1952 for the publishing house Alpe. He stayed primarily at Alpe for 20 years with a long run on the memorable Devy Crock, which he co-created with Pierluigi Sangalli. He worked for a variety of publisher the early '70s on, on licensed Hanna Barbera characters and works of his own. In thte 1990s, among various projects, he helped revive the character "Tiramolla." There is an interview with the artist here.

Cover including self-portrait by the artist. More representative work can be found through the name link.
posted 7:39 am PST | Permalink

Manga Safer in Comic Book Shops?

It's hard to know how much credence to put into this report, as manga publishers might seek a direct market haven once they're beginning to be crowded out of bookstores, but the notion that comic shops represent a safer environment for manga is very much worth noting. My thought is that favoring any sort of outlet has positives and negatives; at the same time, we have yet to see how the bigger companies will react if there is a super-dramatic lull or vicious slowdown in bookstore appetites for the material.

Also, if you scroll down to the Sunday section here, you can find some late-year lists for a couple of manga publishers. My first impression is that these are pretty conservative, but I'm not sure I could really defend that assumption if pressured.
posted 7:33 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Thomas Thornton to Leave Andrews McMeel After 33 Years

The newspaper and journalism business magazine Editor and Publisher has an interview with Andrews and McMeel's President, CEO, and COO Tom Thornton up on their site, subscribers only. Thornton plans to leave the publisher at the end of 2005, news that until now has escaped me.

imageUnder Thornton's guidance, Andrews McMeel has developed into a strip collections powerhouse so dominant I'm not sure how many people know that other publishers handle such material. Here's a quality story from a Kansas City business magazine. Thornton, also a vice president at Andrews McMeel Universal, will be 55. He plans to consult. One of his signature decisions noted by the business new article was the massively successful Far Side collection (pictured), the stunning success of which has led to this year's hotly anticipated Calvin and Hobbes book of similar ambition.
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink

Ding! Ding! Ding!

"What's good for the publisher isn't always good for the industry." -- Matt Fraction speaks a rarely-uttered truth in the Comic Book Resources column which he shares with writer Joe Casey.
posted 7:17 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Joe Sinnott Photo Gallery


One of many great photos featuring the longtime embellisher with various comics luminaries, this one with Jack Kirby taken by son Mark.
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Rich Johnston’s 2-28 Column

A very strong edition of the columnist's Lying in the Gutters, wth gossip about a lot of the comic book's industry hard news stories of the moment.
posted 7:13 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Amusement Park Turns Back to European BD Stars
Joe Quesada at Megacon: OGNs Don't Work for Marvel
O'Brien: Comics Readers on the Internet Should Count
Heidi Mac Interviews Comics Writer Bruce Campbell

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