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

April 30, 2005

Harvey Awards Nominations Announced

Released to the press to take advantage of that mid-Saturday afternoon (???) rush of on-line media traffic, the Harvey Awards were announced by their current administrators the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.

The Harveys are named after the great Harvey Kurtzman.

To be blunt, I think the Harveys can be untrustworthy because they are nominated by open ballot -- which I prefer -- but their spotty record over the last few years means it's hard to trust the voting bloc. I think more people are voting now, but still, if you have someone at a company really making sure that their artists and creative people vote, you can have these huge one-year spikes for certain companies or certain comics.

Taken just as awards, and off the top of my head, I'm surprised that Identity Crisis received an award for content. I'm also impressed that Indy Magazine, an on-line publication, received its second and deserved major award nomination of the season.

I will format from a more official list when it's not Saturday.

Best New Talent
Samuel Hiti -- End Times/Tiempos Finales (La Luz Comics)
Christopher Reilly -- Puphedz (Brillig Productions)
Andy Runton -- Owly (Top Shelf)
Leslie Stein -- Yeah, It Is (Alternative Comics)
Bryan Lee O’Malley -- Scott Pilgrim (Oni Press)

Best New Series
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist (Dark Horse Comics)
Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days (DC Comics/Wildstorm)
Or Else (Drawn & Quarterly)
Owly (Top Shelf)
1602 (Marvel)

Best Letterer
Daniel Clowes -- Eightball (Fantagraphics)
Todd Klein -- Wonder Woman (DC Comics)
Seth -- Palookaville (Drawn & Quarterly)
Dave Sim -- Cerebus (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
Richard Starkings -- Conan (Dark Horse Comics)

Best Writer
Brian Michael Bendis -- Daredevil (Marvel)
Daniel Clowes -- Eightball (Fantagraphics)
Alan Moore -- Promethea (DC Comics/Wildstorm/America’s Best Comics)
Christopher Reilly -- Puphedz (Brillig Productions)
Judd Winick -- Green Arrow (DC Comics)

Best Artist
Charles Burns -- Black Hole #12 (Fantagraphics)
John Cassaday -- Planetary (DC Comics/Wildstorm)
Darwyn Cooke -- DC: The New Frontier (DC Comics)
Juanjo Guardino -- Blacksad 2 (ibooks/Komikwerks)
Jaime Hernandez -- Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics)

Best Cartoonist
Kyle Baker -- Plastic Man (DC Comics)
Daniel Clowes -- Eightball (Fantagraphics)
Batton Lash -- Supernatural Law (Exhibit A Press)
Bryan Lee O'Malley -- Scott Pilgrim (Oni Press)
Jeff Smith -- Bone (Cartoon Books)

Best Cover Artist
Charles Burns -- Black Hole (Fantagraphics)
Juanjo Guardino -- Blacksad (ibooks/Komikwerks)
James Jean -- Fables (DC Comics/Vertigo)
Scott McKowen -- 1602 (Marvel)
Humberto Ramos -- Spectacular Spider-Man (Marvel)

Best Single Issue or Story
Batman: Room Full of Strangers (DC Comics)
Black Hole #12 (Fantagraphics)
Dogs and Water (Drawn & Quarterly)
Identity Crisis #1-4 (DC Comics)
Eightball #23 (Fantagraphics)
Puphedz (Brillig Productions)
Supernatural Law #101 (Exhibit A Press)

Best Domestic Reprint Project
Krazy and Ignatz (Fantagraphics)
B. Krigstein: Comics (Fantagraphics)
The Last Heroes (ibooks/Komikwerks)
Marge's Little Lulu Vol. 1 (Dark Horse Comics)
The Complete Peanuts 1950-52 (Fantagraphics)
The Spirit Archives Vol. 14 (DC Comics)

Best Continuing -- Limited Series
Eightball (Fantagraphics)
Identity Crisis (DC Comics)
Love and Rockets (Fantagraphics)
The New Frontier (DC Comics)
Supernatural Law (Exhibit A Press)

Best Inker
Charles Burns -- Black Hole (Fantagraphics)
Danny Miki -- Ultimate Fantastic Four (Marvel)
Andy Parks -- Green Arrow (DC Comics)
Seth -- Palookaville (Drawn & Quarterly)
Steve Leialoha -- Fables (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Best Colorist
Daniel Clowes -- Eightball (Fantagrahpics Books)
Laura Martin -- Astonishing X-Men (Marvel)
Patricia Mulvihill -- 100 Bullets (DC Comics/Vertigo)
Stefani Renee -- Ant (Arcana Studio)
Dave Stewart -- DC: The New Frontier (DC Comics)

Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work
American Elf: Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka (Top Shelf/James Kochalka)
Bone: One Volume Edition (Cartoon Books/Jeff Smith)
Clyde Fans: Book 1 (Drawn & Quarterly/Seth)
Locas (Fantagraphics/Jaime Hernandez)
R. Crumb's Kafka (ibooks/Komikwerks/Robert Crumb & David Zane Mairowitz)

Special Award for Humor in Comics
Kyle Baker -- Plastic Man (DC Comics)
Jimmy Gownley -- Amelia Rules! (ibooks/Komikwerks)
Roger Langridge -- Fred the Clown (Hotel Fred)
Christopher Reilly -- Puphedz (Brillig Productions)
Johnny Ryan -- Angry Youth Comix (Fantagraphics)

Best Anthology
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventure of the Escapist -- Dark Horse Comics (Diana Schutz, Editor)
Fight #1 -- Image Comics (Kazu Kibuishi, Editor)
Kramer's Ergot #5 -- Gingko Press; Sammy Harkham, Editor
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 -- McSweeney's Books (Chris Ware, Editor)
Nickelodeon (Comic Book Section) – Viacom/Nickelodeon (Dave Roman, Editor)

Best Graphic Album of Original Work
Blacksad 2 -- ibooks/Komikwerks (Juajono Guardino, Juan Diaz Canales)
Carnet De Voyage -- Top Shelf (Craig Thompson)
Jimbo in Purgatory -- Fantagraphics (Gary Panter)
Owly -- Top Shelf (Andy Runton)
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1 -- Oni Press (Bryan Lee O’Malley)

Best Syndicated Strip or Panel
Doonesbury -- Garry Trudeau (Universal Press Syndicate)
Tom, the Dancing Bug -- Ruben Bolling (Universal Press Syndicate)
Maakies -- Tony Millionaire (Self-Syndicated)
Mutts -- Patrick McDonald (King Features Syndicate)
Underworld -- Kaz (Self-Syndicated)

Special Award for Excellence in Presentation
In the Shadow of No Towers -- Pantheon
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13 -- McSweeney’s Books
Mr. X Collected -- ibooks/Komikwerks
The Complete Peanuts 1950-52 -- Fantagraphics
Valerian: New Future Trilogy -- ibooks/Komikwerks

Best American Edition of Foreign Material
Blacksad 2 -- ibooks/Komikwerks
Buddha -- Vertical Inc.
Metabarons -- Humanoids Publishing
Persepolis 2: Story of a Return -- Pantheon
Valerian: New Future Trilogy -- ibooks/Komikwerks

Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation
Comic Art Magazine -- M. Todd Hignite (M. Todd Hignite, Editor)
Comic Book Artist -- Top Shelf (Jon B. Cooke, Editor)
The Comics Journal -- Fantagraphics (Gary Groth and Dirk Deppey, Editors)
Indy Magazine -- Alternative Comics (Bill Kartalopoulos, Editor)
Men of Tomorrow -- Basic Books (Gerard Jones, Author)
posted 6:52 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, April 23 to April 30, 2005:

1. Stan Lee's case stemming from a clause in a 1998 employment contract that allowed him to claim a chunk of movie and licensing profits was settled with Marvel for an undisclosed sum. If you really need to get into figures, Marvel was only too happy to talk about the funding deal for a slate of Marvel produced movies.

2. Acclaim characters bidding ends in wild fashion.

3. High-bid, high-concept fever, if only of the stay at home for a half-day variety.

Winner of the Week
I would say cartoonists with a real-world issue hook, some level of accomplishment, and the ability to put together a serious book proposal.

Loser of the Week
Disney comic book fans in Europe, with the passing of translator/editor Erika Fuchs (Germany) and artist Romano Scarpa (Italy) being felt this week.

Quote of the Week
"Repeat after me, Kill Bill fans: Referentiality itself is not an intrinsic aesthetic value. Empty referentiality, going through the motions, doesn't make a motion picture, give cinema the gift of sight -- or insight." -- the fine essayist Ron Rosenbaum straining against his seat belt and offering up a nugget or two of comics-applicable thought. Via The Beat.

A collector's Romano Scarpa sketch.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

April 29, 2005

The Comics Reporter at the Pulse

An analysis of how clause 4f in Stan Lee's 1998 employment contract, a clause that just resulted in a huge settlement for Lee, got in there in the first place.
posted 10:11 pm PST | Permalink

Newsarama: Acclaim Characters Go to Trio, Not John Taddeo, in Final Outcome of Wild Bidding Process

Matt Brady right on the story. No, I haven't heard of any of those people, either. After the eyebrow-raising news that a bidding process some thought was going to top off in the quarter million dollar range surged to $925,000, it comes as only a slight surprise that former mainstream company cog and one-time Crossgen property bidder John Taddeo failed to make good on his winning bid. The prize: a group of characters from a company that didn't survive the 1990s, reduced in number because several had legal claimants outside the group. It's hard to imagine anyone makng a publishing go with what's left at these stakes, although stranger things have happened and one supposes there's always the wildcard of development money.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

Erika Fuchs’ Contributions Lauded

imageHere's a much nicer English-language appreciation of editor and translator Erika Fuchs' contributions to comics history than what I was able to muster the other day. I think I may even prefer "Dagobert Duck" and "Tick, Trick and Track" to their English-language versions.
posted 7:07 am PST | Permalink

Cartoons Should Be More Respectful

I probably mention this too frequently, but I find opinons like these regarding newspaper cartoons a bad sign for the future vitality of that expression of the comics art form. It seems like the reading community should be way beyond shock and dismay that a strip or editorial cartoon might make a strong statement with which we disagree, and those votes in support all seem to come out of a place of agreement with the opinion rather than principle. Maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive.
posted 6:31 am PST | Permalink

Media Launch for Marvel’s Troops Book

imageI think this is the best of the articles I've seen about the Marvel effort to send a special-made comic book to as many troops as would want them. The move is no doubt sincere on Marvel's part, and certainly consistent with recent efforts the company has made in this arena. In glossing over earlier reports, I hadn't noticed that Marvel will be putting three million (!) of these into normal circulation channels in order to benefit the Fisher House Foundation, which indicates to me a Diamond warehouse manager or two should have made the podium for yesterday's photo op starring Captain America and Donald Rumsfeld. A normal-channels book kind of strikes against early speculation that the free army-version of the comics would become ramp-up high collectibles, although I guess that's still a slightly unsettlng possibility (I shudder to think of the verfication method).

It's good PR for Marvel, too, although it doesn't seem cynically timed on either end. I don't know, even if you think this stuff is odd when compared to the stance you remember Marvel's comics taking in relation to the Vietnam War, it's hard to offer criticism of charity work. I have to ask, though, about the cover: shouldn't the non-military-background superheroes have their hands over their hearts rather than giving a salute?
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Spiegelman to the Academy of Arts and Sciences
Profile of Dimona Comix Group
Comic Books Potentially Not a Joke
Oliphant Accused of Vilifying Arabs
Pearls Before Swine Gets Political (Sort of)
Critical Dissection of Juicy Mother
Demonakos New Image PR & Marketing Guru

April 28, 2005

Stan Lee Settles; For $10 Million?

I guess that first round victory was a knock-out after all, as wire reports claim that Stan Lee and Marvel have settled on a November 2002 suit brought by Lee against Marvel seeking they pay him 10 percent from movie and related monies according to a clause in a 1998 contract. It was largely believed that due to the crushing victory of that first round decision, combined with Marvel's flush state and desire to continue in the movie business without a PR albatross in the shape of its own public spokesperson, and Lee's desire not to be in litigation with his longtime employer for a second longer than he had to, settlement was inevitable no matter how much public smack Marvel's lawyers talked about appeals. In fact, the case went to a mediator to make that possible.

The wire reports say the terms were undisclosed, but concurrent business reports seem to indicate a corporate post-it where Marvel essentially notes "Took $10 million from cookie jar to pay Stan Lee." Original estimates bandied about in gossip among industry folk were that Stan might settle for somewhere in the $10-$25 million range.

I was reminded by reader Alex Chun this morning about the differences between mediation and arbitration, which I knew, but made the mistake anyway because I suck. It's fixed now.
posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink

I Would Go See A Stingray Movie…

What do you do if you're a really big company with Hollywood on the brain and you're stuffed full of licensing dough? I would rent DVDs and nap a lot, but I'm not Marvel, who threw their hat into the movie production game, signing a distribution deal wth Paramount and announcing an ambitious line-up of potential features and basic cost scenarios. I think that's my favorite part, that you can basically describe movies now by saying "I'll be making whatever it is at about this amount of money."

imageI know jack-all about movies, even less than I know about comics. It might be interesting to see what this does to character generation within the company's various titles; Marvel seems hellbent on orienting everything towards the movies and licensing even now, what with their run of "strong female leads" Not that any have been a hit so far, but since when does something have to be a hit anywhere else to become a movie success? Saying Marvel has a finite number of filmable characters seems true to me but only if they follow the Spider-Man model. Follow the Men in Black formula, in that the resource gets treated in no way as a pre-sold property, and the number of produceable fantasy movies seems to grow by dozens. I guess another outcome of this deal could be that Marvel gets even more neglectful-tenantish on the comic book direct market.

The capraciousness of the movie business makes projecting success or failure past next Monday morning a sucker's game, really, and with the comic book division showing it can make a profit even when Ron Perlman's people were running up and down the hallways on motorcycles toting flamethrowers or whatever, I'd say the comics stay fundamentally the same even if this turns into a disaster.

Maybe a more beneficial sign for comics readers is that Marvel seems more comfortable these days exploiting its older material in high-end book productions, which has led to books like the 30-plus-issues-full Fantastic Four Omnibus. Not only should that material remain in print, but ascribing value to these could be the first step -- of many, many, many steps -- in making things right with the creators.
posted 6:57 am PST | Permalink

Official Offended by Godfather Imagery

If you ever want a good example of the confluence of dull ideas and angry over-reaction that may squeeze the already-shrinking editorial cartoon field more and more over the next two decades: According to a report that ran last night on a Canadian news site 1) Someone was dim enough to use Godfather-movie imagery to depict the actions of a government official of Italian descent. 2) The official, having gained what one would guess is an upper hand in the press by pointing out the lack of imagination behind the cartoon, is looking into litigation.
posted 6:49 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Nick Anderson Profiled on Fresh Air
Sanderson Continues Eisner Memorial Report
European Comics Shows Common Enough To Have Themes
Tintin Suite to Be Performed
Spirou Gears Up For Issue #3500

April 27, 2005

Erika Fuchs, 1906-2005

imageThe Disney translator and editor Erika Fuchs died on Friday in Munich. She was 98 years old. Fuchs was the first and longtime editor in chief of the German edition of Mickey Mouse. Her extremely lively and inventive approach to translation -- changing references, tweaking names, and employing for the Disney comics a descriptive style of speech that was neither high-brow nor guttural -- not only allowed the comics to be popular in Germany and made Fuchs a much-appreciated part of Disney comics history but broke rules of language in ways that are now common in German slang. If I'm reading the obituaries correctly, she served in her position from 1951 to 1988.

Other major media obituaries for Fuchs can be found here and here. A great photo of Fuchs with the late, legendary Carl Barks can be found here. A wikipedia entry touching on her contributions to language can be found here.

My thanks to Bjorn Wederhake for the information.
posted 8:49 am PST | Permalink

Editor Lmrabet Banned From Journalism

imageDeep in what reads like a general profile of satirist and journalist Ali Lmrabet appears the news that the Moroccan government has recently fined him $6000 and banned him from journalism for 10 years, this time due to comments Lmrabet made in a magazine interview about West Saharan refugees.

Lmrabet had just received permission last month to launch a new magazine.

Lmrabet became a well-known figure in Morocco in 2001 when his magazines Demain (French language) and Doumain (Arabic) became critical of Morocco's royal family and other government officials. In May of 2003 Lmrabet was sentenced to four years in prison and a hefty fine for publishing a critical photo montage and a cartoon by the artist "Khalid." At that time he became a rallying cause within the international journalism community. Lmrabet was pardoned and released in January 2004, but obstacles in re-starting his career have kept him an important, ongoing test case for freedom of the press in the Arab world.
posted 8:22 am PST | Permalink

League of Seedy-Looking Gentlemen?

A man suspected on child pornography charges due to ownership of manga titles in 2003 claims membership in secret organization fighting that very problem, but was unable to give too many other details. "Secrecy is the key to their existence," the unemployed office-seeker told the U.K. press.
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Editorial Cartoon Slideshow

posted 8:18 am PST | Permalink

Acocella Snags $250,000 for Memoir

imageThe New York Post picks up on a bidding war for cartoonist Marisa Acocella's Cancer Vixen book, from the work that originally appared in Glamour, which resulted in a quarter-million dollar advance. With news that Bernice Eisenstein received roughly the same for her I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors, one would assume that publishers have seen the Maus and Persepolis cartooning on the wall and have become receptive to issues-oriented memoirs, or other comics projects with a relatable hook. This article has former Black Eye publisher Michel Vrana listed as designer on the Eisenstein project. Vrana was a small but significant influence on the look of comics starting in the middle 1990s.
posted 8:14 am PST | Permalink

Comics on Various YALSA Lists

It's always sort of interesting to see what comics appear on mainstream group recommendation lists, because they usually defy conventional wisdom prevalent within the field you're talking about. You can find a couple comics-inclusive lists here and here on Young Adult Library Services Association portion of the American Library Association web site. I have no idea what to make of this other than wow, there are a a lot of lists here.

posted 8:11 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Stan the Man Backs Alternative Textbooks
It's the Anti-Pope Cartoon Round-Up
Manga Downloads to PSP Reports Mini-Boom
Alvarez' Yenny Signs With
Peter David Returns to Career-Starter Spider-Man
Namibian Newspaper Cartoon Supports Computer Program
Local Publisher Project Profile: Complete Peanuts
Local Cartoonist Profile: Mike Wolfer
Wisconsin Cartoonist Attacks Potential Cat Shootings

April 26, 2005

Mark Fiore Wins RFK Cartooning Prize


The interesting thing about Mark Fiore's win of this year's cartooning prize from the RFK Memorial organization is that the work cited turns out to be the very animation-heavy on-line material Fiore offers rather than the more staid print material. This makes for a notable win for an on-line resource and provides fuel for speculation on what exactly constitutes comics work.
posted 12:03 pm PST | Permalink

Newsarama Analyzes Sale: Taddeo to Pay $925,000 for Acclaim Characters

Newsarama on the ball with more details about the sale of Acclaim characters to former minor industry, including a purchase number that seems about four times higher than what had been asserted, and a brief mention that cartoonist and illustrator Barry Windsor-Smith may able to assert rights to one of the characters.
posted 11:51 am PST | Permalink

Cesar Civita, 1905-2005


The prominent Argentine publisher Cesar Cevita died in Buenos Aires on April 9 at age 99. He was born in Milan and held a management position at Mondadori. Fleeing fascism in 1938, Cevita emigrated to Argentina where he would build the publishing house Editorial Abril, featuring the work of artists like Hugo Pratt and Hector Oesterheld. He had a wife and three children.
posted 11:47 am PST | Permalink

Arbitrary Worldwide Box Office Race

As of April 24 at Box Office Mojo

Frank Miller's Sin City: $67,263,575 and counting
Garfield the Movie: $198,602,094

Writers Joe Casey and Matt Fraction discuss one of those movies here.
posted 11:42 am PST | Permalink

Koh Woo-young, 1939-2005

imageAnimation writer and cartoonist Koh Woo-young died Sunday in Koyang from complications related to cancer. He was best known as the author behind the historical epic History of the Three Kingdoms (Samgukji), and also did other serials, wrote for animation and performed some editorial cartooning. He had also been a partner in a recent free comics weekly venture.
posted 11:39 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Troops to Get New Avengers Comic
Scott McCloud Links to 24 Hour Comic Day Stuff
Eric Burns on Free Hosting for Mild Content Offer
Brian Fairrington to Replace Ritter in Phoenix
Newsarama: Pittsburgh Con News "Buzz"
Mainstream Writers Finally Getting Due
Weeklong Festival Includes Train Exhibit

April 25, 2005

The Comics Reporter at the Pulse

Chris Ware will self-publish the ACME Novelty Library Series starting with this Fall's issue #16, arranging some services through former publisher Fantagraphics.
posted 4:55 pm PST | Permalink

Romano Scarpa, 1927-2005


Romano Scarpa, one of the great Disney comic book artists of the 20th Century, and a cartoonist who worked equally well in classic (above) and modern (bottom) styles, died on Saturday morning and is to be buried today according to reports on

imageFor years the most valuable player of Disney comics in Italy, Scarpa began his comics career in 1953 working with the publisher Mondadori. He left animation for full time comics work a year later. Scarpa gained his reputation on a series of Mickey Mouse stories begun in 1956 that adhered closely to the classic adventure tone and look created by Floyd Gottfredson in the American strip which Mondadori had up until then be republishing. In the 1960s he mostly illustrated the work of other writers before returning to writing much of his own comics in the 1970s. Although best known for his work on the Mickey character, Scarpa also illustrated several stories featuring the Disney ducks, and was a highly regarded artist in terms of those characters as well. As a writer, he was probably best known for his light translation of classic Hollywood movies into comics settings.

posted 7:58 am PST | Permalink

Keeping One’s Fingers Crossed for the Return of “Black Godfather of the Ants”

I actually learned things from reading Fantagraphics' Free Comic Book Day publication: Apparently, they're releasing a fourth issue of Max Andersson's Death and Candy, and are doing comic books with Francesca Ghermandi (Grenuord) and a surprising addition, Michael Kupperman/P.Revess (Tales Designed to Thrizzle).

Well, it was news to me, anyway.
posted 7:56 am PST | Permalink

In Praise of John Gallagher


Here's a sweetly sentimental piece about the cartoonist Dave Thorne and his cordial relationship with the late John J. Gallagher. There was a lot of dust in the air here in New Mexico when I read about the handmade book.
posted 7:54 am PST | Permalink

24-Hour Comic Day Coverage

A smattering of articles like this one in mainstream media reminded me that I had up until now completely ignored 24-Hour Comic Day, which went off over the weekend with vigorous particpation across the U.S. and at points worldwife. 24 Hour Comics Day is a day set aside when a lot of people attempt to do a 24 page comic in 24 hours. The 24 in 24 is a comics exercise associated closely with Scott McCloud (I would assume created by him, too) that enjoyed a certain currency among working pros in the mid-1990s.

You can find a blog taking in reports from all over the world here, reports from the effort as it unfolded at Lambiek here, Scott McCloud's congratulations to participants here, and the official site here.

I have to admit, as an outside observer I'm just not that enthused by the 24-hour comic thing anymore, whether or not people do it all on the same day. There was a time ten years ago where the thought that you could just make a comic in that period of time and have it be good was a slightly radical notion, one electrifying enough on a certain level that cartoonists made the effort to make their own 24 hour parties like so many kids with water pipes who had just discovered a new drug. There also appeared to be a lot more established cartoonists participating, which not only seemed to make for better comics -- I can still remember Dave Sim's and Neil Gaiman's, for instance, much more clearly than the recent ones I've seen -- but also meant they were coming from a place of constant but labored production that gave the exercise of a complete comic in a short piece of time a bit of a crackle. Now it sort of feels like Woodstock '99, you know?

I'll probably just get hate mail, but really, I'm reasoably certain I'm just missing something, and I doubt I'm alone. I would be more than happy to grant anyone space who would like to present the opposing view.
posted 7:49 am PST | Permalink

The Island of Lost Comic Book Articles

Although well written and nicely selected, this massive New York Times Book Review article read kind of strange to me in that there's so little in the way of deeper analysis in its discussion of the books themselves. With an opening tying all comics into superhero story structures and its personal, confessional nature, the piece by the author John Hodgman reminds me of one of those early '80s newspaper columns that used to pop up where the comics fan on staff got 30 inches to chatter on about their love for Cerebus, Love and Rockets and Concrete.

It was a weekend full of old-school comics articles. In the "comics are worth money" department, Forbes offered up investment insights from a hardcore Golden Age collector, which is worth reading for its discussion of a rare Lou Fine cover. NBM's Nancy Drew effort has led to a lot of publicity-driven coverage, including this one about the Americanization of manga that talks about style issues in a manner that feels a few years old. There was this profile of Lawrence Klein and the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art that takes the "Comics in Museums? Holy Degradation of Fine Art Standards" approach. Finally, in case you missed any business article on comics in the last two months, this article about the Indian market seems to repeat salient facts from all of them at one time or another.

Although there's one thing about that Indian market article that never occurred to me until now, largely because I'm a spottily educated TV-lobotomized hillbilly who could care less about people further away than I can shoot from my porch: the Indian market would potentially be an English-language market, I think, which for one thing could be a real boon as far as English translations of French albums go.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Via Evanier: Peter Paul Case Gains New Degree of Complexity
How Delcourt Did With the Eisner Nominations
SLG Convention Giveaway Goes Con-Only
Mike Peters Profiles Mike Peters
IGN Analyzes Bookscan Numbers
ACBA Gives $3000+ to ACTOR
Tom Toles Writes About His Garden


April 24, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine


I don't know about you, but the above image from an on-line bookseller featurette on cartoonist Marjane Satrapi sure made me stop and look. I had two initial thoughts. First, it's still odd that Art Spiegelman can now serve as a context in which someone else can be publicized. Second, I find this sort of thing interesting in that Satrapi is the first cartoonist to be introduced to American readers through the publicity machine of a major bookseller.

Satrapi's Embroideries has just been published, and you should be reading a lot about her in the next couple of months. To help fulfill this site's function as an aid to writers about comics, CR presents its on-line resources page for Marjane Satrapi.

One of the pieces linked to is a review of Embroideries by Jessa Crispin that appeared in the Globe and Mail. Reader Nathalie Atkinson brought it to my attention, particularly this notion floated by Crispin:
As charming as Embroideries is, it's possible that the book would have been better off in prose format rather than as a graphic tale. The black and white, undetailed artwork of the Persepolis books looks advanced when compared to Embroideries. In the first volume of Persepolis, the artwork seemed suitable, since the childlike drawings accompanied the story of a childhood. By volume two, the artwork no longer looked appropriate, but at least it was more polished than it is here. This looks rushed, more like a rough draft than a finished product. There are even uncorrected smudges and ink bleeds. Each older woman receives three lines radiating from the outside corner of her eyes to denote age. Moles and warts wander around the faces. Most comic-book writers who cannot draw well enough hire illustrators. Satrapi should consider it for her next work.

Not only have I yet to read the work in question, I'm sort of undecided about the general validity of this kind of criticism for any cartoonist. On the one hand, it seems a practical point; on the other, I think works become other things entirely when an author is added to the project. When you think about it in terms of "getting better" versus "using another artist" it becomes an even stranger issue to me. Does anyone out there have an opinion on the subject, either in general or in Satrapi's case? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I'd be very interested in hearing from you.

Colin Blanchette
Mark Mayerson
Michael Avolio
Rob Schamberger
Nick Mullins
Alexander C.P. Danner
Stefano Gaudiano
Luke Przybylski
Bryan Munn
T. Campbell

There are also a couple of letters up there that point out that Embroideries is from a L'Association series that emphasizes sketchbook-style drawing, diminishing greatly the force of Crispin's criticism in this instance despite any interesting issues raised.
posted 8:31 am PST | Permalink

April 23, 2005

New Movie Superman’s Package Displayed for International Media



Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, April 16 to April 22, 2005:

1. Apparently, Marvel has become a licensing juggernaut.

2. March shop figures suggest potential second-tier forming; PW figures suggest a slight book format slowdown and increasing differences between markets.

3. Much moving around at the cartoon syndicates: major editorial cartoonists Ann Telnaes and Jim Morin move to C&W; John Glynn promoted at Universal; Steve Behling joins United.

Winner of the Week
Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate, who add Morin and Telnaes to a stable that already includes Joel Pett, making them more of a viable and not-surprising option now.

Loser of the Week
Whoever ends up on the bad end of whatever phone call results from the use of a promotional picture of Juan Carlos I to make a piece of Magneto art.

Quote of the Week
"To take just one example: Cheshire, the poisoner and international terrorist, is also the mother of a baby whose father is the former sidekick of Black Canary's ex-boyfriend, Green Arrow, a small-time superhero, ex-junkie, and inveterate screw-up called Arsenal." -- Writer Douglas Wolk explaining the pleasures of close attention to continuity in a way that just sounds hilarious to me.
posted 4:51 am PST | Permalink

April 22, 2005

John Glynn Promoted at Universal

In an industry not known for a lot of hiring and firing, this week's second important change in cartoon-driven newspaper syndicates: John Glynn was promoted to vice president of acquisitions and rights for Universal Press Syndicate and AMUSE. Glynn had served as acquisitions editor for UPS and on the board of a directors at AMUSE, the syndicate's division for bringing its talent and properties to the attention of Hollywood.
posted 9:32 am PST | Permalink

Le Defosseur Wins Prix Jules Verne

imageLe Defosseur, the first album in the Pest series by Corbeyran and Amaury Bouillez, won the Prix Jules Verne De BD 2005 on April 10. It is given to the best comic of the fantastic in the European market. It looks like the Delcourt album, or a second in the series, perhaps, will be released late this summer.

In other European comics news, the publisher Dupuis has confirmed the rumors that it intends to return to the Angouleme Festival in 2006, which if nothing else should make for some interesting structural problems for the already jam-packed show.
posted 9:29 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Climbs Licensing Rankings

The difference between Marvel's current flush period and periods in the past when the company bearing the Marvel name has been considered healthy is this board's ability to sign favorable licensing deals. That really seems to have shown up in a recent licensing ranking article reported on by, in which Marvel shoots way, way up in terms of this kind of deal-making, with some specific markets targeted for future exploitation. If only more of this worked its way back down into building a healthier system for the comic book portion of the business.
posted 9:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Atlas Horror Covers


If you get bored on a Friday afternoon, what better way to waste your time than to look at this older, abandoned-looking site for work that includes a great deal of art from Joe Maneely, Russ Heath and Bill Everett. Plus it's often funny to compare the content to the title with Atlas often not changing a title until well after a new genre takes over.
posted 9:21 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Platinum Signs with The European Version of Platinum
Guardian Appreciation of Andre Francois
Kodansha Launches New Anthology
Why Does Everyone Love Garfield?
Doonesbury Packs More Punch Than Columnists
Local Cartoonist Profile: Fred Van Lente

April 21, 2005

Steve Behling Joins United Media

Former Disney Worldwide Publishing editor Steve Behling joins United Media in a managing editorship over both the United Features and NEA comics services. This sounds like a stable hire, and nothing about Behling's background suggests a new initiative in the works for UM. Perhaps worthing noting is that if I remember correctly -- no guarantees -- United Media went a while there without a Managing Editor for its comics. PDF here: 20050418Behling.pdf
posted 11:04 am PST | Permalink

Douglas Wolk on “Super-Readers”

imageA frequent commentator about comics in their artier forms, the writer Douglas Wolk digs into a Gail Simone Birds of Prey paperback here with some interesting results. He posits the existence of a readership for these books that relies on a significant level of immersion in past works. It's an argument that makes a lot more sense when you hear it put as plainly and without rancor as Wolk manages.
posted 10:57 am PST | Permalink

Do March Figures Show Second-Tier of Decent Sellers Forming in Comic Shops?

The business analysis site has come forward with their suite of monthly numbers, including a basic sales analysis, a trends analysis, and then a list of top graphic novels and top comic books both with sales estimates. The trend towards high-performing top titles continues this month, with the lower-priced Countdown to Infinite Crisis doing as well as expected and New Avengers continuing to put up big numbers.

I thought a potentially more interesting number might be found at the 25th position, where this year's comic sold about 20,000 copies more than the comic holding that slot last year. Given a much more modest increase at position 50 and even a slight decline at 100, that could be a sign of a slight surge for titles out of the top three or four titles, albeit with about as much weight as throwing out a couple of numbers brings.
#10 -- 86,777 ('05) Vs. 86,431 ('04)
#25 -- 71, 230 ('05) Vs. 53,549 ('04)
#50 -- 39,580 ('05) Vs. 36,700 ('04)
#100 -- 20,313 ('05) Vs. 21,993 ('04)

Also, is it my imagination or are book-format sales becoming more responsive to movie tie-ins than comic book sales in the same market?
posted 10:47 am PST | Permalink

Magneto I, King of Spain?


Alvaro Pons writes in to note that the above image of Juan Carlos I and lookalike super-badguy Magneto as found on his Spanish comics-focused blog may have amused some mainstream U.S. comics fans, but that the Spanish may be looking to take action against the appropriation of the official photo.
posted 10:37 am PST | Permalink

Go Look: Nate Beaty’s Comics

posted 10:31 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Daily Grind Endurance Contest Update
Editorial Cartoonist New Pope Reaction Round-Up
Happy Fifth Birthday, Baldo
Alumni Cartoonist Profile: Tom Beland
Bush Feels Lincoln's Editorial Cartoon Pain
Austin's Sargent Translates Cartoons Into Spanish
NYU Student Web Comics Profiled

April 20, 2005

Youssef Abdelki Returns to Syria


The communist cartoonist turned artist and sculptor Youssef Abdelki is one of a few high-profile Syrians returning home after a lifting of political restrictions termed an unofficial amnesty. Abdelki, a peer of the late, great Naji Al-Ali, had been living in Egypt. A general interview with the artist can be found here or through their picture.
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink

Anger Sparked By Cartoon: Misplaced?

Perhaps the most distressing thing about this look at a controversial political cartoon, and something that makes it worth commenting upon here, is how the intention to satirize a repugnant point of view is read as some sort of oblique endorsement of that view by virtue of it being portrayed. It's not that I can't see the objection being raised, just not to the point where the disagreement spawns articles. When you couple this notion of limited portrayals with the assumed right in which many believe that they should not have to face an opinion different than their own except when balanced out over time with opinions with which they agree, one can almost sense the toolkit getting smaller and smaller for an already fading profession.
posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink

Fabrice Neaud Faces Library Censure


Although stuffed with the kind of rhetorical flourishes difficult to parse in interpretation, this article seems to be saying that a librarian or group of librarians has/have objected to portrayals (not these pictured) made by the great Fabrice Neaud in his books as inappropriate for a library collection.
posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink

PW Notes Slowing GN Market Growth

Just to put as many people in the loop as possible, Heidi MacDonald writes on Publishers Weekly's coverage of's estimation of the graphic novel market, which suggests solid growth simmering down a bit from spectacular growth last year.

Two things worth noting:

First, the belief that this remains a manga-driven phenomenon seems to support my belief that other facets of the market, particularly superhero and adventure genre books, have done little to prove themselves in the with-spines marketplace, particularly as a category.

Second, I agree with PW's people that disparity between bookstores and comic shops is due in part that many are passing on selling manga either altogether or in much more than a limited fashion -- perhaps the adventure titles from familiar publishers or small trial shelf. This isn't the first time comic shops took a pass on a category profitable to booksellers -- you don't see a lot of strip collections in comic shops, either. My suspicion is that this goes a bit beyond resistant comic shop culture and that there's been a failure at the publishing and distribution levels to make a case to its customer shops that they need to stock these, including ways in which money can be spent not on waves of books like the bookstores but on building hits for specialty readers the way it's done in comic book stores. But I admit I know very little about this.
posted 7:28 am PST | Permalink

Twenty-Three Years, Two Hires, Same Person


This piece on the appalling lack of female editorial cartoonists in North America -- the States have three on major papers; Canada has one, Sue Dewar at the Ottawa Sun, whose work is shown above -- proves interesting in that one of the cartoonists suggests the confrontational nature of the job may be a disincentive, an idea which would sound kind of ugly coming from a male cartoonist.
posted 7:26 am PST | Permalink

KFS Actually Hypes New Strip to Press

Comic strip syndicates tend to concentrate their marketing energy on their client papers rather than hope to reach them through the general press. This makes PR regarding new offerings a rare thing, and perhaps most rare at King Features with its detail-driven site design, so I thought I'd note this one here.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Toronto: An Evening With Warren Ellis
Local Comic Shop Profile: Zanadu U-District
Nolte Joins Comics Movie No One Talks About
Visiting Cartoonist Profile: Mort Walker
Buried Note: Monkey Punch Influenced by Mort Drucker

April 19, 2005

Ann Telnaes and Jim Morin Make Move to Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate


According to this report in Editor and Publisher, the editorial cartoonists Ann Telnaes and the always underappreciated Jim Morin are going to Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate. Moves between syndicates are usually interesting only if you're a hardcore newspaper business follower. This one may be more compelling than usual for both the dissatisfaction implied with their previous, traditional cartoon syndicates and the enhanced status this gives Cartoonists and Writers in the normally stable cartoon syndication field. Cartoonists and Writers aligned itself with the New York Times Syndicate in 2003.
posted 9:42 am PST | Permalink

Manga May Reflect Unresolved Hostility

This is the kind of thing that may only interest me, but according to at least one expert, the simmering resentment between China and Japan can be perceived through a reading of manga.
posted 9:40 am PST | Permalink

Weissman Comic For Fantagraphics Site


Apparently, cartoonist Steve Weissman plans on doing a strip-comic version of his Yikes! work, which will appear on the Fantagraphics web site in roughly the format above. I can justify this as news by noting how little comics publishers work to exploit their primary on-line presence. Fantagraphics is Weissman's print publisher these days, so it's a natural fit, and as I can't think of a single reason I've gone to the publisher's site in weeks, it could probably use the bump in traffic. Let's all hope the new strip appears on the front page, because consistently negotiating anything past page one on the Fanta site is sort of an adventure.

Also speaking of publisher web stuff and things that aren't really news, I believe Dargaud updated their site.
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink

The Funniest Review You’ll Read All Day

Drink at Work on Prickly City.
posted 9:29 am PST | Permalink

More on “Pre-Emptive” Alcaraz Letter


A tightly focused journalism specialty site has reprinted the letter editors at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune used to comment upon that day's La Cucaracha comic strip from cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz before many readers could be expected to even read the strip in question. A paper had recently apologized publicly for running a Signe Wilkinson cartoon about the incident that accusers believed wallowed in stereotypes. Both moves seem to me to indicate a growing reluctance by newspaper editors to simply stand behind material they're running, a fear shaped in large part by a more limited view from readers and editors on guest contributors being judged according to their own merits.
posted 9:17 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Bob the Angry but Well-Connected Flower
Donnie Darko to Play True-Crime Cartoonist
Cartooning at Heart of Politician's Career
Armenian Massacre Graphic Novel Profiled
Yet Another CCS Profile
Local Cartoonist Profile: Colin McClean
Reubens have Claim to Oscars of Cartooning, Too
Note for Timely Support of Retailers
Local Cartoonist Profile: Robert Armstrong

April 18, 2005

Peter Bramley Dead at Age 60


Peter Bramley, a late-period underground cartoonist perhaps better known as an original art director and occasional artist at National Lampoon, died on April 12. He was 60 years old. Bramley was born in Massachusetts and later moved to New York with art-school classmate Bill Skurski to found a studio. In addition to his comics, Bramley also served as an illustrator for such as clients as the New York Times and the Children's Television Workshop. Moving to Florida in 1984, Bramley became known as a painter of murals and a general participant in the artistic life of his community, although his artwork was shown internationally.

He is survived by his wife, two sons, a brother, a sister and two granddaughters.
posted 3:02 am PST | Permalink

Stan the Man Speaks His Mind

Stan Lee is profiled one more time by the Los Angeles Times, this time in the form of an interview appearing in the weekend magazine. It's slightly depressing that he's acknowledged by the piece's writer as the creator of the various big-name Marvel properties instead of co-creator, as is more common now. The only other thing about the piece that struck me as odd was Lee's half-assertion that co-founder Peter Paul's nefarious stock maneuvers somehow threw a wrench into what was turning out before then to be a successful company. I don't know anyone who thinks given the way the Internet economy turned out that anything Stan Lee Media was putting out there would have done really well, or, honestly, that the content was anything other than pretty standard to second-rate adventure material in general, despite generally competent and bright people on staff. It's not like anyone expects a John Taddeo to sweep in and hoover up "The Drifter," although I guess you never know.

As always, we wish Lee good luck with getting the money from Marvel due him because of the world's craziest contract clause, and certainly the announcement of an eight-figure settlement would not surprise anyone were it to show up at any time.
posted 2:58 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Stanley’s Dunc & Loo

posted 2:54 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Sanderson on Eisner Memorial

Peter Sanderson offers an incredibly detailed report on the recent Will Eisner memorial in New York City that's worth checking out for the complete guest list alone. Sanderson also does a nice job looking into various rhetorical outcomes from that event that this site largely avoided.
posted 2:53 am PST | Permalink

Fremok Marks Tenth With Installation?


I don't know if I'm reading this article correctly or if I'm totally off, but I swear its says that the great publisher Fremok is celebrating its tenth year by making a temporary office of an art installation. If I don't have that correct, don't tell me, as I think I prefer that idea to just about any reality.
posted 2:48 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: John Gallagher Dead at 79

Mark Anderson reported weeks ago that John Gallagher, a prominent gag cartoonist who went on to assist his brother George Gately on Heathclff, passed away in mid-March. Gallagher's success had been the inspiration for his brother's attempts in the field.
posted 2:46 am PST | Permalink

Iron Man: The First 24-Hour Comic?


From The Comics Journal's message board, mention of and pages from one of the industry-legend comics of the late Silver Age, a 1971 issue of Iron Man (#39) rumored to have had its entire 19-page story turned around by artist Herb Trimpe in a single day, although there are conflicting stories.
posted 2:43 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Schwarz Lecture Series Lands at MIT
Book: Why Liberal Cartoonists Fail
Readers Warned About Lalo Alcaraz Strip
Oregon To Stop Using Recruitment Comic Books
New York Times Reports on Crumb Appearance
Cartoonist to Stop Using Hillbilly Stereotype
Local Cartoonist Profile: Jan Elliot
Let the Embroideries Onslaught Begin
Indian Cartoon Exhibit
Pierre Bellocq Designs Derby Mural

April 17, 2005

On Sunday Morning, I Spent Some Time Thinking About Wayne Boring


I thought a lot about the Eisner Awards this week, mostly because the 2005 nominations came out this past week and after making a brief commentary on this site I received a number of e-mails suggesting I didn't go far enough in my criticisms, that this year's slate of nominees was abominable. The problem is 1) I know that deep down awards don't matter which is a constant lid over the grease fire of my limited outrage and 2) I don't think the '05 books are, on the whole, any worse than the slate of nominees in any single recent year. It may be that I'm just so dissatisfied with the general snapshot of the industry's values that comes out of such public expressions as its awards that I don't notice a two or three award swing in any one direction. It could be that I'm not immersed enough into mainstream comics to feel particularly upset about Michael Turner getting a cover artist nomination over yet another pretty painter at Vertigo whose names and art all run together in my mind. I'm not sure.

I think my general position is that I don't like any of the comics awards because they're not very interesting and none of them seem to serve a noble or even savvy function. They represent a clubhouse clap on the back that quickly gets lost as the ripples spread out into a non-existent or a totally humiliated marketplace. A lot of the arguments made about these awards I don't get. As I really don't think that half of the good books to come out in a year are from Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse -- none of these companies is enjoying a golden age by even their own fans' publicly expressed standards -- I don't find a nominees list's balance between mainstream and non-mainstream books any sort of comfort, or a small shift in emphasis one way or the other an of distress. Generally, since about 1998 I think there are about five really high-quality books to come out in a year, about five to ten more great works archived and re-released and then anywhere from five to 25 halfway interesting and admirable works of varying size and scope. The Eisners and Harveys in that period have tended to hit on about one or two of the great ones in each group and then split their remaining awards between those interesting and admirable works and higher end but perfunctory genre material.

Watching the various awards and particularly the Eisners remains fascinating, however, because it is the most naked expression of old-fashioned impulses that exists among most cartoonists and industry members. There was a moment last year when the people who passed were honored, and the very dear wife of an older cartoonist, both of whom I met and talked to on multiple occasions and liked, was remembered but William Steig, a giant of cartooning, was passed over without mention. I understand why that is. I understand old-time fan ways of looking at things. I just wish we could put them aside more frequently in public, and embrace a set of value that reflected the growth of the art form in more than just limited, grudging ways.

imageThis brings me to Wayne Boring. Someone whose taste I respect wrote to tell me they'd be voting for Wayne Boring in the Hall of Fame balloting. I found this really interesting. I mean, I like Wayne Boring. I really do. I will applaud for him this summer if he is voted into the Hall of Fame. That would be a great thing for any surviving family, and his friends and colleagues who think well of him. I wish only good things for Wayne Boring's legacy, for his family, and for fellow fans of his work. But once you get past nostalgia, and how much anyone of us might like Superman, isn't putting Wayne Boring in the comics Hall of Fame sort of like inducting Frank Sutton into the acting hall of fame? Before he played Sgt. Carter, Frank Sutton also made quality contributions to a variety of minor projects at his medium's inception. Frank Sutton was similarly really, really good in his one memorable role, and it was very popular while he was doing it. His portrayal, one of those larger-than-the-actor roles that make television special in its weird way, is at least as iconic in its fashion as Wayne Boring's isolated contributions were to the larger Superman myth, I'd think. But talking about Frank Sutton as a serious candidate for an acting Hall of Fame would still be sort of strange. Maybe not. But it certainly suggests something about that Hall of Fame, a certain set of values, beliefs held by those who would be happy to see this happen on virtue of its merits, and those who wouldn't mind seeing this happen because it would be a lovely moment.

Maybe my comparison is unflattering. Boring enjoyed a longer career than Sutton, and because of the way comics are made and TV programs are shot Boring as an artist was a bigger player as far as bringing that piece of pop creation to life than any actor on a television show. But the older I get, the more I wonder how long comics' self-image will lag behind the comics themselves, even for the nicest of reasons. I suspect that too many people place too much value on the specific thrills they remember as a child or the particular art that kept them going as a teen or even the warm sweater of inclusion and universal acceptance which the industry likes to pull over its head every now and then. Comics will never be given permission to grow the rest of the way up as long as so many of us would prefer, deep down, they stay the way that flatters us.
posted 2:10 pm PST | Permalink

April 16, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, April 9 to April 15, 2005:

1. The conviction for the blasphemous qualities of Das Leben Des Jesus is overturned in Greece in such a lighthearted manner it almost makes you forget how serious this case was.

2. DC announces cuts of Humanoids and 2000 AD lines after fans notice they weren't solicited.

3. John Taddeo buys Acclaim characters, including rights to some older comics, but not all of the characters and maybe not some of the titles.

Winner of the Week
Indy Magazine, to my memory only the second on-line work to be nominated in a traditional Eisner Awards category.

Losers of the Week
Fans of line-based illustration, with the passing of Andre Francois this past Monday.

Quote of the Week
"He is a great man." -- Ralph Steadman in 2002 on Andre Francois.

This week's picture: Black Vulcan (not Lightning, sorry, Tony) at an Adult Swim party discussed on Mike Manley's blog. Link through the picture.
posted 2:13 am PST | Permalink

April 15, 2005

Andre Francois, 1915-2005


The great cartoonist, illustrator and artist Andre Francois passed away on Monday in France, according to a piece appearing in today's New York Times. Born in Romania as Andre Farkas, Francois studied in Budapest where he first became interested in graphic art. Although he worked as a cartoonist upon leaving school and settling in France, his great heyday was the 1950s and 1960s, where his cartoons, paintings and visual essays graced magazines like Holiday, Sports Illustrated, and The New Yorker, for which he was a frequent cover artist as well as, for a time, the person generally in charge of the cover. Francois was a notable contributor to Punch, delved into several related forms of art and design, and had numerous exhibitions of his later work, including sculptures and paintings. A photo of the artist at what looks like one of those exhibitions is here.

The Times piece quotes Walt Kelly on Francois' playful, vigorous and influential work:
"He seems to capture an idea with a pounce. He throws it to the ground in a frenzy, hacking at it with quick strokes to delineate its likeness. He never waits to pretty it up, smoothing its fur or arranging its limbs with the decency due unto death. His ideas are never mummified in technique or stuffed, or tanned and stretched. They are not fossils of style."

You can see a few more color works through this page, and four more examples of the artist's lively and fun black and white work can be found by clicking on the illustration below.


Francois last made headline news in December 2002, when a fire ravaged his studio and destroyed nearly a lifetime of original work. From this page you can read testimonials to the artist from peers and admirers like Ralph Steadman who heard about this misfortune. The one by Ronald Searle is particularly nice.

There are several Francois books worth digging through and your local bookstore to find, most importantly The Penguin Andre Francois, The Tattooed Sailor and Other Cartoons From France, and The Half-Naked Knight.

Andre Francois is survived by a wife of more than 60 years, a son, a daughter and a sister. He was 89 years old.
posted 8:37 am PST | Permalink

Media Matters on Political Cartoon Issue

The web site Media Matters gets in on the debate about liberal versus conservative political cartoons, fanned from embers into a small flame following the awarding of this year's Pulitzer Prize to Nick Anderson. I think it's wrong to even play this game, as I think dissecting art by underlying impulse and applying quotas even from a wish-fulfillment perspective is a repulsive idea in any formulation, but the debate is worth noting.
posted 8:36 am PST | Permalink

Retailer’s Post-Mortem on 2000 AD, Humanoids: Too Much of a Good Thing

imageA smart piece by prominent retailer Brian Hibbs at Newsarama notes how DC ending its relationship with the 2000 AD and Humanoids lines underscores the avalanche of product in which the current systems of distribution operate. I might take a slightly different emphasis on that same basic take in that I think it's been shown you can create audiences for certain kinds of comics, just not by throwing work after work at them indiscriminately. Unfortunately, not only is no one going to change their ways -- even in this case we know at least the 2000 AD books are going to keep chugging along -- but overpublishing by even a few companies creates such a wall of product that someone working smartly and modestly, like Typocrat Press, or AdHouse Books, may be choked out by someone else's flood of market-share boosters.
posted 8:26 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Bill Day Wins Aronson Award
Internet Darling Street Angel Comes to Close
Old Strips Rarely Die; They Usually Get Makeovers*
Iraqi Cartoonist Notes Changes
Heidi Mac Goes to R. Crumb Presentation
Dale Messick Appreciation
Three Comics Hit USA Today Top 150 Hits America

April 14, 2005

‘05 Eisner Nominations Released

This year's Eisner Awards nominations, winners to be presented the evening of July 18, the Friday of Comic-Con International.

Don't miss my initial thoughts on this year's list, which can be found right here.

Best Short Story
"Eve O' Twins," by Craig Thompson, in Rosetta 2 (Alternative)
"Glenn Ganges: Jeepers Jacobs," by Kevin Huizenga, in Kramer's Ergot 5 (Gingko Press)
"God" (story on wrap-around dust jacket) by Chris Ware, in McSweeney's Quarterly #13 (McSweeney's)
"The Price," by Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli, in Creatures of the Night (Dark Horse Books)
"Unfamiliar," by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, in The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft (Dark Horse Books)
"Where Monsters Dine," by Troy Hickman, Angel Medina, and Jon Holdredge, in Common Grounds #5 (Top Cow/Image)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Demo #7: "One Shot, Don't Miss," by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (AiT/Planet Lar)
Eightball #23: "The Death Ray," by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Ex Machina #1: "The Pilot," by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Global Frequency #12: "Harpoon," by Warren Ellis and Gene Ha (WildStorm/DC)
The Goon #6: "Ilagarto Hombre!," by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)

Best Serialized Story
Astonishing X-Men #1-6: "Gifted," by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Ex Machina #2-5: "State of Emergency," by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Fables #19-27: "March of the Wooden Soldiers," by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha (Vertigo/DC)
Planetary #19-20: "Mystery in Space/Rendezvous," by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (WildStorm/DC)
Y: The Last Man #18-20: "Safeword," by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and José Marzan Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

Best Continuing Series
Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Fesiter (WildStorm/DC)
The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Stray Bullets, by David Lapham (El Capitan)
Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and José Marzan Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

Best Limited Series
DC: The New Frontier, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
Demo, by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (AiT/Planet Lar)
30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow, by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (IDW)
WE3, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo/DC)
Wanted, by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones (Top Cow/Image)

Best New Series
Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Doc Frankenstein, by the Wachowski Brothers and Steve Scroce (Burlyman)
Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Fesiter (WildStorm/DC)
The Shaolin Cowboy, by Geof Darrow (Burlyman)

Best Publication for a Younger Audience
Amelia Rules!, (Renaissance Press) and Amelia Rules! What Makes You Happy (iBooks) by Jimmy Gownley
Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom, by Ted Naifeh (Oni)
Owly, by Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker and Scott Morse (DC)
Tommysaurus Rex, by Doug TenNapel (Image)

Best Humor Publication
Angry Youth Comix, by Johnny Ryan (Fantagraphics)
Birth of a Nation, by Aaron McGruder, Reginald Hudlin, and Kyle Baker (Crown)
The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Kyle Baker, Cartoonist, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker and Scott Morse (DC)

Best Anthology
Common Grounds, by Troy Hickman and others, edited by Jim McLauchlin (Top Cow/Image)
The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse Books)
The Matrix Comics, vol. 2, edited by Spencer Lamm (Burlyman)
McSweeney's Quarterly #13, edited by Chris Ware (McSweeney's)
Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, edited by Diana Schutz and David Land (Dark Horse)

Best Digital Comic
Athena Voltaire, by Steve Bryant
Copper, by Kazu
Jonny Crossbones, by Les McClaine
Mom's Cancer, by Brian Fies
ojingogo, by matt forsythe

Best Graphic Album -- New
Blacksad Book 2: Arctic Nation, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (iBooks)
It's a Bird . . ., by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen (Vertigo/DC)
The Originals, by Dave Gibbons (Vertigo/DC)
Suspended in Language, by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis (GT Labs)
Tommysaurus Rex, by Doug TenNapel (Image)

Best Graphic Album -- Reprint
Age of Bronze: Sacrifice, by Eric Shanower (Image)
Bone One Volume Edition, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
The Book of Ballads, by Charles Vess and others (Tor)
Clyde Fans, by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
In the Shadow of No Towers, by art spiegelman (Pantheon)
Locas, by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project
The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker, edited by Robert Mankoff (Black Dog & Leventhal)
The Complete Peanuts, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
DC Comics Rarities Archives, vol. 1, edited by Dale Crain (DC)
Krazy and Ignatz, edited by Bill Blackbeard and Derya Ataker (Fantagraphics)
Russ Manning's Magnus, Robot Fighter, vol. 1, edited by Katie Moody, Mike Carriglitto, and David Land (Dark Horse Books)

Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material
Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima, vols. 1-2, by Keiji Nahazawa (Last Gasp)
Blacksad Book 2: Arctic Nation, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (iBooks)
Buddha, vols. 3-4 by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Tokyo Tribes, by Santa Inoue (TOKYOPOP)

Best Writer
Steve Niles, 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow; 30Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales; Aleister Arcane (IDW); Freaks of the Heartland; Last Train to Deadsville (Dark Horse)
Greg Rucka, Queen & Country (Oni); Gotham Central (DC)
Brian K. Vaughan, Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC); Runaways (Marvel)
Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel)
Bill Willingham, Fables (Vertigo/DC)

Best Writer/Artist
Paul Chadwick, Concrete: The Human Dilemma (Dark Horse)
Dan Clowes, Eightball #23 (Fantagraphics)
David Lapham, Stray Bullets (El Capitan)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)
Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve #9 (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Writer/Artist -- Humor
Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC); Kyle Baker, Cartoonist (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Phil Foglio, Girl Genius (Airship Entertainment)
Scott Kurtz, PvP (Image)
Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
Johnny Ryan, Angry Youth Comix (Fantagraphics)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Charles Adlard, The Walking Dead (Image)
John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (WildStorm/DC); I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun (Humanoids/DC)
Geof Darrow, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)
Cary Nord/Thomas Yeates, Conan (Dark Horse)
Frank Quitely, WE3 (Vertigo/DC)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad, Book 2: Arctic Nation (iBooks)
Teddy Kristiansen, It's a Bird . . . (Vertigo/DC)
David Mack, Kabuki (Marvel)
Ben Templesmith, 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow (IDW)
Michael Zulli, Creatures of the Night (Dark Horse Books)

Best Coloring
Peter Doherty, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)
Steven Griffen, Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort (Image)
Laura Martin, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Ministry of Space (Image); Planetary (WildStorm/DC); I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun (Humanoids/DC)
J. D. Mettler, Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC)
Dave Stewart, Daredevil, Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Six, Captain America (Marvel); Conan, BPRD (Dark Horse)l DC: The New Frontier (DC)

Best Lettering
Todd Klein, Promethea; Tom Strong; Tom Strong's Terrific Tales (ABC); Wonder Woman (DC); Books of Magick: Life During Wartime; Fables; WE3 (Vertigo/DC); Creatures of the Night (Dark Horse)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)
Dave Sim, Cerebus (Aardvark Vanaheim)
Craig Thompson, Carnet de Voyage (Top Shelf); "Eve O' Twins" in Rosetta 2 (Alternative)

Best Cover Artist
Kieron Dwyer, Remains (IDW)
James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); Green Arrow, Batgirl (DC)
Tony Moore, The Walking Dead (Image)
Frank Quitely, Bite Club; WE3 (Vertigo/DC)
Michael Turner, Identity Crisis (DC)

Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition
Frank Cammuso (Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective)
Bosch Fawstin (Table for One)
Matt Kindt (Two Sisters; Pistolwhip)
Sean McKeever (A Waiting Place; Mary Jane; Inhumans; Sentinels)
Raina Telgemeier ("Smile," Takeout)

Best Comics-Related Periodical
Comic Art, edited by M. Todd Hignite (Comic Art)
Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon B. Cooke (Top Shelf)
Draw!, edited by Mike Manley (TwoMorrows)
Indy Magazine online (, edited by Bill Kartalopoulos (Alternative)

Best Comics-Related Book
The Art of Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse Books)
Chris Ware, by Daniel Raeburn (Monographics/Yale University Press)
Give Our Regards to the Atom Smashers, edited by Sean Howe (Pantheon)
Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones (Basic Books)
Strangers in Paradise Treasury Edition, by Terry Moore (HarperCollins Perennial)

Best Publication Design
The Art of Usagi Yojimbo, designed by Cary Grazzini (Dark Horse Books)
Clyde's Fans, designed by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Complete Peanuts, designed by Seth (Fantagraphics)
In the Shadow of No Towers, designed by art spiegelman (Pantheon)
McSweeney's Quarterly #13, designed by Chris Ware (McSweeney's)

Hall of Fame
Judges' Choices: Lou Fine; Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

Four will be selected from:

Matt Baker
Wayne Boring
Nick Cardy
Yves Chaland
Gene Colan
Johnny Craig
Reed Crandall
Floyd Gottfredson
Frank Hampson
Graham Ingels
Robert Kanigher
William Moulton Marston
Hugo Pratt
Frank Robbins
posted 9:47 am PST | Permalink

Gerhard Haderer Case Overturned

Mocking the absurdity of the case as it came to their attention, a higher court in Greece reversed a conviction of Austrian artist Gerhard Haderer for his book Das Laben des Jesus. Haderer's satirical story depicted a hippie-ish, drug-taking Jesus Christ moving through one miracle after another in absurd fashion. The original ruling had banned the book, declared existing copies by the Greek publisher of the book had to be destroyed, and threatened Haderer with jail time. The case, which had dismayed the cartoonist for what it did to one of his publishing partners and, one imagines, for the chance he could be extradited to Greece through an arrangement of the European Union, had many critics among free speech advocates and fellow artists.
posted 9:14 am PST | Permalink

Juan Zanotto, 1935-2005


Juan Zanotto, an artist who drew comics for the Italian, Argentinan, British and U.S. markets, passed away on Wednesday according to a report on the afNews site. Zanotto was taught by Hugo Pratt and Alberto Breccia, and made his living first as a restorer and then an artist known for Westerns. His longest professional relationship was with Ediciones Record, where he created Henga (also known as Yor, under which title it became a movie familiar to anyone who owned a VCR in the early 1980s), and for whom he later became an art director. There are a few pictures of the artist in this interview.
posted 9:04 am PST | Permalink

Cartoon Exhibit Up in Beirut

Between this article and this article, which I'm guessing are twin wire stories to serve different publication needs, it's easy to see how vital the editorial cartoon can be in other parts of the world.
posted 9:01 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Ville Ranta’s Sketchbooks


The portrait above is from a trip to this year's Angouleme Festival.
posted 8:50 am PST | Permalink

Rebellion to Continue 2000 AD Books

This article making the rounds suggests that Rebellion will continue to do 2000 AD books in roughly the same format as they're appearing now, with modifications coming in the schedule of books to be releases. There does exist a tiny but passionate audience for these works, so it would probably make sense to publish stuff that these fans haven't already likely collected in another form. I've yet to see a similar announcement from Humanoids -- I admit I haven't looked too hard -- although as they had a slight market presence before the DC co-publishing arrangement, they would probably be a more likely candidate for continuation either with a new partner or by themselves.
posted 8:31 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Captain America as a Tool For the Man
Marisa Acocella Marchetto Cartoons Chemo
Nick Anderson Reminisces, Notes Recent Hate Mail
Local Cartoonist Profile: Tony Carillo
Controversial Cartoonist Ted Rall on Media Labels

April 13, 2005

DC Comics Confirms Cessation of 2000 AD, Humanoids Graphic Novel Lines

The funny thing about DC Comics ending its publishing relationship with Humanoids' graphic novels and aggressive collections of serials from 2000 AD is that it's the company's first business decision regarding those imprints that makes any sense.

imageThere was little -- and by little I mean the polite version of "nothing" -- to indicate a bigger potential audience for the sometimes masterful, sometimes inscrutable French graphic novels in the Humanoids line than were already aware and able to seek out those titles. Even someone sleeping on Incal bedsheets wouldn't have been able to forecast a future sales point that justified bringing in an entire new entity with whom to split money. Not with a straight face, anyway. DC Comics' publishing strategy seemed to be to cheapen these books up (reduction in size being the most obvious change) and put them on the market with little additional promotion. It was like a film company acquiring a suite of lavishly produced foreign films and instead of trying to maximize the deluxe DVD market deciding to bust out a bunch of $4.99 no-extra single-disc jobbies and dump them in the nation's Costcos and Wal-Marts, hoping that the audiences for Will and Grace Season Three and The Best of Larry the Cable Guy will be intrigued enough to sample. They didn't know what they had, and they didn't know what to do with it.

imageI know three of the twelve people in the United States that were clamoring for collections from the sometimes over-the-top adventure comics serials appearing over the years in the British magazine 2000 AD and any attendant publications, and I still never saw a single one of DC's books. How weird is that? I'm still not sure it isn't a practical joke. The 2000 AD effort probably wouldn't have been successful if it had come out printed in ink that made people who touched it better looking, but being so uncreative about format by going with non-bargain, rudimentarily designed, and rumored to be muddily printed graphic novels robs this effort of even a hint of romance. I would have bought a $5 bi-monthly packed super-cheapie or something like that. It still would have tanked, though.

So what have we learned?

1. Despite their press, comics have only a few strong-sellers, and fewer strong categories. Manga and comic strips (both classic and new) seem to be reasonably well-established book-market categories, with several strong sellers. Superheroes are not generally a strong category. Art comics aren't either, despite the occasional hit. General interest fiction and adventure genres book are not strong categories, and even lack breakout hits.

2. DC dumping these lines reasonably early in their relationships with each is both an indictment of the marketing department of its recent past and an indication its marketing department of the future wants to concentrate on core product.

3. It might be just me, but I think this may point out a real weakness of big companies like DC in their tendency to avoid playing favorites. There might have been a tent-pole title or two in each line, but it seems like a strategy to emphasize those was eschewed for a swarm-the-decks approach. To me that feels like the way they approach their superhero titles. It's hard to judge where the marketing effort was concentrated when you're talking about trace amounts, though.

4. Don't forget, DC didn't announce the closure of each line until after they failed to solicit them and fans noticed and asked. Classy! My guess is that this was so the dozens of people buying these books wouldn't skip buying into a trade series never to see completion, but I'm cynical that way.

5. In the end, buying into these lines was a bad idea followed by another bad idea, and DC has no one to blame but itself.

6. Robert Boyd makes the funny point here how Humanoids benefited from the DC deal, since not being insane they were targeting Hollywood, not American audiences. For some reason, this makes me think of Humanoids as a company getting kicked out of a hotel suite and back to a regular room, shuffling down the hallway with a big grin on its face.
posted 6:57 am PST | Permalink

Nevio Zeccara, 1924-2005


Renowned fantasy, aviation and science fiction artist Nevio Zeccara died April 8 in Rome. His prolific comics career began in 1952. In addition to numerous titles released on the Italian market, Zeccara provided art for some of the major Fleetway series in Great Britain and at least one, the 1967 Star Trek series, in the United States. Starting in the 1980s, Zeccara also became known for his accomplished adaptations.

posted 6:55 am PST | Permalink

Taddeo Purchases Acclaim Characters

imageIn a move that along with DC's line reduction made yesterday "Logical Outcome Day," it is believed former low-level comics executive turned businessman John Taddeo purchased the rights to various characters published under the Acclaim banner in the 1990s, and the older comics works that haven't yet be reassigned. Acclaim published comics under some Gold Key-era titles that are owned by Classic Media. The title Quantum and Woody has reportedly also reverted back to its owners.

Is the purchase a good idea? Maybe. On the one hand, these characters didn't really have staying power in a less crowded comics market; on the other, all it takes is one movie deal in an era where studios enter into multi-million dollar alliances with publishers that don't really exist except on paper, and Mr. Taddeo could be appearing on one of those late-night real-estate commercial talking about the quick turnaround on his investment. Also, if you play it modestly, there may even be a few sustainable publishing models out there if that's where you heart lies.

Newsarama also picked up on potential discrepancies in what exactly Taddeo is purchasing in terms of titles.

It's doubtful that even a kid named Kevin Ninjak is waiting for his return, but maybe a film excutive thinks otherwise...
posted 6:48 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Evan Dorkin on Recent, Strange Art Returns
Analysis of Art Exhibit Delving Behind Manga
Comics May Help Literacy After All
Her Comic Shop Days

April 12, 2005

Crossgen Sets Reorganization Plan kicks in with a nice piece about the status of the Crossgen reorganization plan. From information gleaned in this article, ambitious and occasionally boastful CGE driving force Mark Alessi can claim at least one major achievement. Publishing fantasy and costumed adventure titles instead of Barron Storey hardbacks, Crossgen still somehow managed to be a bigger money toilet than Kevin Eastman's mid-'90s, run-on-the-business-principles-of-Montgomery-Brewster comic book empire Tundra.
posted 7:48 am PST | Permalink

Good & Bad News: Newspaper Cartoons


The good news is that R.J. Matson has been hired as staff cartoonist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It was unclear if the paper would hire a new staff person to that position due in part to publicity surrounding charges of political bias in the firing of John Sherffius. The bad news is that newspapers continue to be forced into a role of maximizing profits for stockholders, the wisdom of which is debated in the newspaper industry because some feel it can get in the way of a paper's public watchdog role. Cutting resources can also be dire news for editorial and strip comics, where the contribution to the bottom line is easier to see when written in red ink as opposed to black.
posted 7:39 am PST | Permalink

Deconstructing, Debating Lichtenstein


Through the great Canadian illustrators' group blog Drawn! comes not only a link to an enlightening work comparing the comics-inspired paintings of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein to their comic-book sources, but a by-the-numbers debate in the comments thread about the merits of Lichtenstein's work.
posted 7:36 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty reports in again in Dateline: Geneva.
posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink

Carl Abrahams, 1911-2005

imageOne of the more interesting artists in the mid-20th Century rise of Jamaican painting, Carl Abrahams died peacefully in his home on Sunday. Abrahams stood out for his understanding of the power of an attitude or message brought to a visual work, a way of approaching painting gleaned in part from a brief period working as a cartoonist, under the tutelage of the pioneering Cliff Tyrell. Many of his best-known paintings were created in the 1970s and early 1980s.
posted 7:32 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
A visit to Chester Gould's Grave
Investor's Business Daily (?) Profiles Charles Schulz
Local Comic Book Collectors Profiled
Reporter Flirts With Comics Reading

April 11, 2005

Boyd to Write Manga Guide for Del Rey

Robert Boyd, a comics industry veteran who has worked at several companies including Fantagraphics, Kitchen Sink and ADV, has announced the closure of deal with Del Rey to write a manga guide due Summer 2006.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) is soliciting older manga to help with completion of the book.
posted 1:54 pm PST | Permalink

Wesley “Gene” Hazelton Sr., 1919-2005


Respected animator and longtime strip cartoonist Gene Hazelton passed away last week in San Diego. Hazelton, a veteran of animation studios such as Disney and the Warner Brothers, got his start as Jimmy Hatlo's assistant on They'll Do It Every Time and later did the panel Angel Face (seen above) in the 1950s. He was the main artist on Hanna-Barbera newspaper strips based on the cartoons The Flintsones and Yogi the Bear, where he worked with a variety of assistants and finishing artists into the 1980s. Survivors include a sister, two sons and two daughters. Mark Evanier profiles the artist here, and links to this Scott Shaw! entry on a comic book created by the deceased. Information about contributions is here.
posted 7:18 am PST | Permalink

Scott Stantis To Begin Podcasting


The podcast will concentrate on Stantis' syndicated strip Prickly City (above). My guess is that there will be dozens and dozens more announcements of this type, from both creative people and net-savvy comics-related sites, over the next six months. Brace yourself.
posted 7:12 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Delocque-Fourcaud to Leave CNBDI directorship giving up controversial severance payment

It's a good thing Egon was on the ball, because I sure missed it: current CNBDI (the "Centre national de la BD et de l'image a Angouleme") Director Andre-Marc Delocque-Fourcaud will leave his high profile position later this year without the severance payment that some had criticized. The amount was to have been 45,000 Euros, or approximately $60,000 U.S. dollars.
posted 7:06 am PST | Permalink

Daniel Merlin Goodbrey’s Last Sane Cowboy Wins Isotope Minis Award

posted 7:04 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Details on Doug Wright Awards, Web Site Announced
Top Shelf Announces Summer Line-Up
Let the APE Reports Begin:
Miyazaki, Spiegelman Make Time 100 Influential List
Thought Balloons Closes Shop; New Blog Opens
Women in Webcomics Should Be No Big Deal
Funny Will Eisner Anecdote (5th Graph)
Viking Not Quite Old Enough to Drink Mead

April 10, 2005

Sunday Morning at Scholastic

imageI received the color Bone the other day, the first in a series of nine books in full-color from Scholastic's reprinting of Jeff Smith's fantasy comic. This sent me scrambling to Scholastic's web site, where I soon got lost, but not before clicking my way through this interview with Jeff Smith, whose cartoon avatar somehow doesn't look drawn by Smith.

My favorite part of the press kit is a sheet with two lists on it. The first half of the sheet repeats this list from the Bone web site with Smith's 2003 Harvey Award win for Best Cartoonist placed on top, which intrigued me because it indicated for the first time that Smith like most cartoonists kind of flew under the laudatory radar for the last few years of his American series. The second one is a list of foreign publishers, which interested me because I've never seen one before broken down for a single title. That list:

United States by Cartoon Books
Spain by Dude Comics
France by Editions Delcourt
Germany by Carlsen Verlag
Italy by Panini
Brazil by Via Lettera
Argentina by Meridiana
Finland by Like
Norway by Bladkompaniet A.S.
Korea by Seoul Cultural Publisher
Sweden by Jemi
Denmark by Forlaget Carlsen
Japan by Shobunsha
Croatia by Bookglobe
The Netherlands by Lambiek

I know for prose authors the importance of foreign publication is often overstated, particularly from a financial standpoint, but I don't know if that's also true for cartoonists or not. Still, that list seems pretty considerable in that Smith self-published and would have had to forge most of the deals from within that company. This interview from the mid-'90s indicates that fell to company president Vijaya Iyer, who has probably always been unfairly overlooked in terms of the general savviness and effectiveness of that company's publishing strategies.
posted 10:33 am PST | Permalink

April 9, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, April 2 to April 8, 2005:

1. Nick Anderson wins the Pulitzer Prize for cartooning, surprising even Anderson as his name was not on a leaked list of finalists. As a sign of the times, Anderson's worthiness is called into question by strident political bloggers.

2. Veteran strip cartoonist and adventure strip trailblazer Dale Messick passes away days before her 99th birthday.

3. Viz Media makes its debut, combining the efforts of three Japanese entertainment conglomerates in order to better exploit its properties up and down the entertainment chain -- as of this first week, it seems that the company will not function in extravagantly different manner than its previous inter-company alliances made possible.

Winner of the Week
Anderson -- it's still the biggest prize given a cartoonist.

Loser of the Week
Marvel's Combat Zone, a comic to feature tales of combat from the current U.S. involvement in Iraq, which upon cancellation of the works as a series became an original graphic novel from a company that doesn't do original graphic novels.

Quote of the Week
"With the death of one of the most influential popes in history, this item has become extremely valuable as the world realizes the significance of its recent loss." -- Listing of Marvel's Pope John Paul II comic book on ebay. Dozens of comics hit the auction sites upon news the head of the Catholic Church had passed away.
posted 7:48 am PST | Permalink

April 8, 2005

Reporters Sans Frontieres: Turkish Head of State Should Stop With the Lawsuits

The international group comes out against Turkish Prime Minister's use of the courts to go after journalists who write things about him he doesn't like cartoonists who depict him in ways he doesn't particularly care for, in what is clearly becoming a story with broad saturation throughout Europe. The article provides a decent summation of cases thus far, and mentions the amount of money being sought from Penguen for its defiant parade of depictions of the premier as various animals.
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

More On the Passing of Dale Messick


It was publicly announced through an Associated Press client yesterday that Dalia "Dale" Messick had recently passed away in California, where she had been under the care of her daughter. Messick was known as the creator of Brenda Starr, the long-time adventure and romance strip still in syndication today helmed by Mary Schmich (a columnist best known for the fake Vonnegut sunscreen graduation speech) and June Brigman (a former Marvel cartoonist who was recently recruited to one of the many announced graphic novel book lines based on her chops). Messick began Starr in 1940.

A native of Indiana, Messick always came across in the press as smart and charming, and my estimation is that on top of the skill she brought to the page -- I liked the quirky, old-school exaggeration of the designs -- her strip enjoyed a certain amount of added status for the hook of its creator's gender and her graciousness in embracing her role as a female creator in a mostly male field. Although she's often credited as a pioneer, I think of her as more of a great achiever rather than someone who led where others followed: she had predecessors in the newspapers generally, and no female creator to my memory really followed her unique career path. If the good-natured ribbing she received when accepting the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement award in 1997 from the National Cartoonist Society was any indication, Messick was also very well-liked by her peers.


At its height Brenda Starr had 250 clients, a credible but not staggering number, although the economics of strips in the 1950s meant Messick was probably afforded a very good living -- enough to have assistants, including future comic book stalwart Mike Grell. Recent articles indicate she stopped drawing Brenda Starr in 1979, and stopped working on the strip in any capacity in 1985. Starr was among those classic comics characters included in a 1990s stamp offering by the U.S. Postal Service, and was enough of an icon that a movie version starring Brooke Shields made sense at least to the film's makers. Messick reportedly didn't care for the film which if I remember correctly was delayed for years. My hunch is that like the film version of The Phantom such a movie could be counted on to have some appeal in overseas markets, but I could be completely wrong about that. There was a movie serial early on, crossover promotions like the picture above, a hardback collection I've seen, and I think what looks like a series of paperback books in Britain that pop up on an image search.

Because of her place as the only female cartoonist to come out of the adventure strip glory years and survive well into the gag-strip era, Messick was the subject of numerous profiles and interviews. Her place in comics history should be secure. Messick's obituary ran in the New York Times as well as on yesterday's wire. She was described by Lambiek, remembered by Mark Evanier and Lea Hernandez, profiled extensively in various media sources, had her importance related to readers by Trina Robbins, and saw her character described at both and by Don Markstein.
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink

Cambodian Art School Damaged By Blast

Received in my mailbox:
Hi Tom

Just a quick note - the only school that regularly teaches comics in Cambodia, Phare Art School, has been damaged in an explosion. Mercifully, no one from the school was hurt, but they and the surrounding village need help. About 250 villagers are without homes, and they need to repair the roofs of the school buildings.

Please pass the word on, we're doing our best on the ground.

Click here for more

posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Bardot’s Comic Strip Scopitone


Thanks to Coop on the Comics Journal Message Board.
posted 7:23 am PST | Permalink

Eisner Remembered at Memorial Service

Many in the comic book creative and wider professional communities close to the late cartoonist Will Eisner met in New York this week for a special memorial. Gary Sassaman provides a detailed report about what he saw and who said what. Peter David talks about attending here. Heidi MacDonald report on her day here.
posted 7:21 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Independent Comics Heads to San Francisco
Penny Arcade Ownership Settled, New Books Planned
DC to Hire VP, Person Likely to Be Intimidated by VPs
Evan Dorkin, Eric Burns on DC Character Strategies Report on Book Sales: Negima, Sin City (pre-movie release)
Rupert Bear Exhibit in Bloomsbury

April 7, 2005

Dale Messick, 1906-2005

posted 11:50 am PST | Permalink

The Fight Over OV Vijayan’s Ashes

When cartoonist and modernist writer OV Vijayan recently passed away recently, a huge crowd of mourners attended the public service and high government officials noted his death with condolences. Now the family is fighting over the final dispensation of the ashes, with a nephew refusing to release the late cartoonist's physical remains for anything other than immersion in the Ganga. Smart readers will now be asking themselves: Does immersion in ink count?
posted 8:27 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: R. Kikuo Johnson

posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty sends a report from the road in Dateline: London, where he attends a book premiere and a gallery show.
posted 8:06 am PST | Permalink

FBI’s Follow-Up to Complete Peanuts


This is going to be in a similar two-years-at-once format, albeit shaped differently because Dennis was/is a panel rather than a strip. They also want to do Pogo again in this kind of format. A few other strips, with more limited runs, are in the planning stage. While this won't have as big an audience as Peanuts -- and by that I mean it could have a potential tiny fraction of that audience as I'm not sure there's anything approaching 1/100th of the desire to see the old Peanuts strips nor is there a publishing track record like there is with the Peanuts hardcore fans -- it should be interesting how sales do generally, and how they break down between hard-core comics fans and a more general audience for the character. I can't remember how this stuff reads, but it's impeccably designed. As I recall, FBI co-publisher Gary Groth is a big fan of Ketcham's work and is probably this project's driving force.
posted 8:03 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Gotham Magazine Launches with Feiffer Feature
Visiting Cartoonist Profile: Art Spiegelman
Local Cartoonist Profile: Bill Layne
Exhibit Up in Wellington
Exhibit Up in Toronto

April 6, 2005

Asterix ‘05 Invasion Nailed Down


I can't tell if this is a new announcement or a confirmation of a previously published set of dates but it looks like the release of the next Asterix book will be this year on October 14, with the work being presented to the public on September 22. The article admits that the later Asterix books are widely acknowledged to be missing something content-wise when compared to the early albums in the run. The reason the release date is big news is that the last book from four years ago sold eight million copies, and the European comics market has become even more primed to facilitate top-of-the-charts hits since then.

The fact that the European book publishers can drive anticipation for an album with this kind of campaign may make many US comic readers ponder anew the issue of street dates for American trades and comic books. When that concept used to be discussed, it was often in terms of relief for the "get 'em, put 'em out" rush that many comic shops suffer through every week. It was generally argued away by comic shops certain -- with good reason -- that many of their peers would sell books early in order to gain a local or even regional market advantage. I'm now certain this would indeed happen, particularly in that despite Diamond having the market reach to enforce street dates by punishing those who broke them no one can really imagine the distributor would step up and do so. After all, Diamond logically holds the ability to all-but-eliminate the practice of late comics, but has never done so.

I was always attracted to street dates as a way to build marketing campaigns and publicity around certain releases. I would go to the comic store if I knew the new Eightball was going to be there on a certain date, for instance, and I would certainly plan coverage that linked into significant releases (more importantly, I could write features for publications with long lead times that linked in that way). Now that I think about it, though, I'm not certain that there wouldn't be problems there, too. Books would still be late. I'm not certain Diamond gets everything everywhere on the same day anymore. Publicity campaigns with a date would still be driven by political considerations at many of the big companies rather than on a consensus of past sales performance and merit. And I'm not sure there wouldn't still be clustering of titles on certain dates, which seems to me a greater problem than simply not knowing when books are going to come out. As a consumer, I still think it would be nice, but I'm not waiting up for it to happen.
posted 7:48 am PST | Permalink Talks Numbers

The webcomics-focused review and commentary site yields this fine entry on discovering the readership of those comics. Some of the numbers hinted at are considerable and worth noting. With the revitalization of Internet media offerings in the last two years, it seems to me that more and more webcomics people are less interested in invading print than they are maximizing the considerable audiences they already have, as matter of business rather than a function of some sort of strange on-line ethos.
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jeremy Eaton in The Stranger

posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink

Walking Dead Sells as Comic and Book

Here's a nice short sales analysis of a reasonably popular title published through Image. A lot of people carried the initiating press release, but it looks like goes into the numbers a bit more deeply. A couple of factors I haven't seen mentioned is that Walking Dead comes out regularly and that it has a very active letters page which gives the individual comics more heft: Simian virtues (as in Dave, not monkeys) that sometimes get short shrift.
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Gary Groth on Will Eisner’s Career

imageTaken out of the context of a special issue containing tons and tons of more focused pieces on different aspects of the late Will Eisner's career, my former full-time employer Gary Groth's longish essay on Will Eisner might seem overly self-reflective, but it's a really good piece overall and this kind of work almost never shows up on-line. Particularly entertaining is the appropriately light-on-its-feet analysis of The Spirit in terms of the movies of its time. Unlike most discussions of film's influence on comics, Groth acknowledges the literary short-story influences rather than avoids them, yet makes his case anyway by going deeply into several potential sources rather than only those that have had the good fortune to stay in our collective memory since that era. Saying Cary Grant could have played the Spirit is one thing; suggesting the Cary Grant of Arsenic and Old Lace might be a near-perfect choice is a lot more fun and definitely more intriguing.
posted 7:32 am PST | Permalink

Marvel’s Combat Zone to be a Trade

And here I thought Marvel was out of the original graphic novel business.
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Hometown Paper Salutes Nick Anderson's Pulitzer Win
Color Misconception in One Big Happy?
Necdet Yilmaz Wins Gold Medal
Visiting Cartoonist Profile: Seth
Gerry Shamray Does Comic Review of Sin City

April 5, 2005

Nick Anderson Wins Cartooning Pulitzer


Well-respected Louisville Courier-Journal cartoonist Nick Anderson won this year's Pulitzer Prize for cartooning, it was announced yesterday. The news came as a shock to Anderson because a reputable list of leaked finalists a month ago did not have his name on it. In fact, one of the criticisms of that short list was that it consisted of cartooning veterans and there were younger cartoonists like Anderson who had yet to have their day in the sun. Anderson won for a suite of cartoons that included commentary on America's military presence in Iraq.

You can find a local article congratulating Anderson here, the cartoonist's page at the Cagle site here, and a biography here. Some tidbits: he incorporates his son's names into his cartoons, he was hired by the Courier-Journal despite their already having a cartoonist because they wanted to lock him down, and although he's essentially a left-leaning cartoonist in a right-careening region of the country I can't recall any incident when readers were terribly upset with him or thought he was out of touch.
posted 9:20 am PST | Permalink

John Cole Surfaces at Scranton Times

It's rare enough it needs to be mentioned in its own article: editorial cartoonist John Cole has been hired by the Scranton Times after only a few months of unemployment. This marks a infrequent new hire in that field.
posted 9:19 am PST | Permalink

Best Comic For Adaptation is Kalesniko’s

imageNorth America should definitely have an award like this one. An edition of Mark Kalesniko's Mail Order Bride published as Mariee par Correspondance by Editions Paquet has won an award called "Le Prix de la Meilleur BD Adaptable au Cinema," or the comic book best suited for film adaptation. It was given out by the Forum International au Cinema et de la Litterature de Monaco. Although I'm guessing if North America had an award like this one, it would go to something with vampire pirates or a skyborne "truckstop" where superheroes go to shower and argue over the best scramble rather than a study of a loveless marriage and the unfair expectations of its participants.
posted 9:15 am PST | Permalink

Viz and ShoPro = Viz Media

imageViz Media will be the name of the new combined Viz and ShoPro companies, basically a blending of assets by three major Japanese media companies in order to better exploit the U.S. market up and down various categories. Other than that, and perhaps some speculation that the financial profile of manga companies, even successful ones, may not be as secure and locked in as we might perceive based on their sales success, what impact this will have remains to be seen.

I'm not certain if the forthcoming Shojo Beat anthology is going to be the first major product launch by the new media enterprise, but in terms of comics I can't imagine a more important one this summer. The already-existing male counterpart to this new publication, Shonen Jump, is not only a successful venture but because of the sad state of newsstand distribution of American comics it may be the only new comic book, or one of two or three, that can be found in smaller American towns. This conversation on an Anime on DVD forum discusses the potential covers of the preview issue and the first issue (above), mostly in hilarious terms about the potential effect on one's manhood that may come with taking one to a register.
posted 9:12 am PST | Permalink

Even a Fanboy Can Cry…

imageReading Keith Giffen, Beau Smith and Paul O'Brien weighing in on DC Comics' use of death-driven limited series as a major sales fulcrum for their comic book line made me stop and think, or at least something close to thinking. I find "event" storytelling in mainstream American comics generally pathetic and ugly, and perhaps even slightly tragic as the potential of a diverse direct market for comic book specialty shops has been hamstrung in great part so that sales of manipulative, depressing nonsense can be maximized. However, taking such a position does put me on the same side of the street as those who absurdly argue that some sacred nerdy trust has been violated by recasting oft-sunny characters in Titus Andronicus-style roles. That's a separate set of arguments, and, really, one that should be expected: when you try to please one group of people who hold an unlikely adult's investment in such characters, you're likely to irritate those with a different sort of investment. But it's not my argument. Really, I don't care. Just promise me I don't have to see Kermit the Frog stab Miss Piggy through the throat after feeding her Gonzo and Sam the Eagle, particularly if you're not playing it for laughs. Life's too short.

The problem if you pay attention to comic books is that you know a lot of people will read these stupid things. You can be certain a lot of energy will be spent on selling them and a lot of advertising energy will be spent putting them at the forefront of the medium. And although someday someone may surprise us, these things are far more effective separating fans from their money than making memories for the ages, even the ages of 8-10. These books generally work more like a Maxim photo spread than popular literature, a switch in contexts that plays to prurient interests no matter how much the characters insist on talking about the greatness and importance of their comrades, implied virtue in a hierarchy closely related to licensing muscle. Even weirder, as comics goes these are nothing new, a marriage of 1970s approaches to comics -- a bright child's attempt to stamp "logic" on an absurd fantasy to justify the fact he continues to find it emotionally appealing -- and the 1980s Secret Wars publication strategy of an editorially-mandated event comic that drives off down the street leaving the creative people running after it throwing things in an attempt to affect its momentum. If these kinds of books feel decades old when you hear them discussed, it's because they are.

And while what's to come may make for psychologically revealing junk culture, and a lot of money squeezed from people who can't help themselves that may be a boon for shop owners, and some dark humor to be had when Bat Mite or somebody shows up and takes a poop on Lana Lang to "up the stakes," I have to imagine any benefit is being purchased by locking these books and characters that once spoke to a lot of people into a very dark place you have to know -- and love -- the secret knocks in order to get in. Such decisions shape the market, and if you realize that in a sense Blue Beetle has become better known as a plot-point snuff victim than he was for whatever modest thrills the entirety of his comic book adventures might have offered, you have to wonder what shape these companies are going for.
posted 8:56 am PST | Permalink

Lethem and Chabon to the Rescue


With the April Fool's Day's joke about Lethem doing literary adaptations of Henry and other comic strips, I think one more of these and we have a genuine sub-category.
posted 8:53 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Squiddy Awards Open For Business
Designers Love Comic Books
Paste Magazine on "International Comics"
Bi, Gay and Lesbian Comics Survey
Perseus Books Group Buys CDS
Catching Up With Ed Brubaker
John McCain Writes Doonesbury Book Introduction

April 4, 2005

Collectors Note Passing of John Paul II

The way only they can...
posted 8:36 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Sempe Exhibit in Beijing

posted 8:32 am PST | Permalink

R. Crumb Whitechapel Exhibit Review

This article is worth it for the photo and for calling attention to that amazing story about his brother Charles that Crumb did last year for the new Zap.
posted 8:24 am PST | Permalink

Photos From Comics Festival Weekend


The news site afNews has two sets of pics up from Torino, while Heidi MacDonald does the same for New York's Big Apple. I have no idea what's going on in this photo, but I would so attend more American convention panels if people were likely to dress in strange costumes.
posted 8:17 am PST | Permalink

Toonopedia, Associazione Guido Buzzelli Win ‘05 Internet Awards at Torino

Don Markstein's Toonopedia site, a valuable English-language resource for concise, authoritative information on older strips and comic books, was recognized by afNews' International Internet Awards 2005 at the Torino Comics Festival. The other recipient was the Associazione Guido Buzzelli. You can look at past winners here.
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Editor Apologizes Further for Cartoon

This Jim Heffernan editorial apologizing further for running a controversial Signe Wilkinson cartoon accused of racist imagery gives some insight into the process by which many papers select their cartoons, and how that can break down.
posted 8:06 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
New Del Rey Manga Titles?
Missed It: Tokyopop's 5th Rising Star Winners
Local Cartoonist Profile: Nate Creekmore
One Editor's Praise for David Rees
April Fool's Strips Share Same Theme
Clever April Fool's Joke (I Hope) I Missed Last Friday
Metafilter Commentary on April Fool's Strips
Rustle the Leaf Partners with Whole Foods
New Niche Comic Strip

April 3, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine


Someone sent a sharp e-mail this week upbraiding this site for not paying closer attention to one of the the jobs for which it was originally intended, that is to function as a resource for writers about comics. In that vein, please find this Frank Miller resources link-o-rama for your feature writing, educational and entertainment purposes, although it should have been started about a month ago. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Even if you have no interest in reading anything about the Sin City movie, I would still recommend the links at the bottom of the page, including a photo of Miller famously ripping a comics industry magazine in two, the speech that accompanied it, and a strange photo of the having-a-pretty-good-weekend cartoonist clutching a doll.
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink

April 2, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, March 26 to April 1, 2005:

1. A brutal week for diversity of opinion, viewpoint and format on the newspaper comics page, as E&P announces that major female editorial cartoonists have enjoyed an upswing of zero percent, King Features and Scott Bateman terminate their relationship, one paper drops a cartoon because it might potentially upset readers, and another paper runs a cartoon and then apologizes for doing so.

2. DC Comics announces one of those semi-dubious sell-outs of a low-priced one-shot. Blue Beetle is killed in this one, which in the puffed-up DC cosmology of characters and outcomes means a cosmic event has begun which will be dealt with in a forthcoming mini-series, priming the pump for a depressing summer's season of entertainment where icons of childhood wonder and fun once again Bradysomething their way through ugly pageants of death and frequent, clumsy assertions of their general importance. It should do extremely well.

3. Buenaventura Press, potential player in the arts-alternative portion of the market, announces its first comics-publication releases.

Winner of the Week
Veteran editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett, who in a terrible week for newspaper comics and cartoons in general won the Fischetti award.

Loser of the Week
Ali Farzat, work seen above, who according to a profile by the BBC can't get his work published because of a climate of fear that grips his country's newspapers.

Quote of the Week
"Bluto was and is hip, hot, and happenin'." -- Charlie Brilvitch, proponent of a statue in the Popeye bad guy's honor.
posted 9:01 am PST | Permalink

April 1, 2005

Publishers Back Away From Their Comics


In another case of a newspaper playing pick and choose with its politically charged comic strips, the Seattle Times dropped a Scott Stantis Prickly City strip on the Terry Schiavo case. Prickly City, The Boondocks and Doonesbury are among those strips which newspaper editors seem increasingly comfortable running when they see fit, despite the fact that the dropped strips seem perfectly in line politically and tone-wise -- or, if you prefer, "are equally idiotic" -- with other strips run from that feature. The dispassion audiences may feel for these individual projects as opposed to how perhaps Doonesbury was treated by fans in the mid-1970s probably makes the practice feel less dire. Compounding matters is that barring the papers dropping the strip entirely, this kind of thing may even pay off for the strip as a kind of general publicity.

In a more direct example, a publisher apologizes for running a Signe Wilkinson cartoon, to the cartoonist's apparent and understandable dismay.
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: 2005 Reuben Nominations

imageThe 2005 Reuben Award nominations were recently announced, to be given out in late May at a black-tie ceremony in Scottsdale, Arizona at the always-moving annual meeting of the National Cartoonists Society. Despite multiple divisions, the phrase "Winning the Reuben" really extends to only the main award, aka outstanding cartoonist of the year. Up this time are Dave Coverly, Pat Brady and Dan Piraro. My hunch, and it's purely a hunch, is that Coverly will win despite Brady being the favorite. The various division awards include a comic book category in which Darwyn Cooke and Roger Langridge will be competing with their extremely lovely although far removed from each other projects (New Frontier, Fred the Clown) against a book I've never heard of, which is also an awards tradition. Despite its state of benign separation from the mindset of most American comic book fans, the Reuben remains the biggest award in comics after the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning.

Here's a cool and slightly interactive feature about previous Reuben winners.
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Illustrated Tsuge Essay

posted 7:33 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Report from OV Vijayan's State Funeral
Star Wars Comic Released Early On Purpose
Comics Pros Turn Out for NY Screening of Sin City
Hugo Pratt Exhibition Profiled
Local Cartoonist Profile: Knife and Packer
US Army Seeks Comic Book Contractor
Viz Response to Edits Controversy


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