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

May 31, 2005

Two Photos Worth A Few Words

Here's a newspaper report on the weekend's Doug Wright awards, and a Dallas newspaper article on the Reubens, in case anyone wanted to see a photo of either evening's winners.

I always like looking at the Reuben Award winner. They're in a tux or fancy dress, you've probably never seen them before, and they always look so damn happy. Mr. Pat Brady is no exception. Seth and Mr. O'Malley look slightly tired in comparison, like they had to fight their way to the presentation through hordes of zombies. Seth is, as always, very well dressed. As comic book artists usually spend the day before an awards ceremony on their feet selling their books and meeting fans, and comic strip artists spend the day before the Reubens floating in a hotel pool eavesdropping on one of the Walker kids telling dirty jokes, this difference is quite understandable.

Mark Evanier has a nice National Cartoonists Society weekend report here, which includes the Reubens and a few words on a Sergio Aragones roast about which I knew nothing. If you're just getting back in the swing of things after the holiday weekend, the full results of the weekend awards are here.

Note the subtle differences between the two Wright awards apparent in the Seth/O'Malley photo. Nice. It occurs to me that by designing the award he received, Seth gives up the cartoonist's traditional right to complain about the way it looks, how heavy it is, or how it won't fit on any shelf/wall.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Jim Woodring Interview

posted 6:36 am PST | Permalink

Please Put Stan on the Awards Show

Stan Lee's company POW! to develop graphic novel material for VIBE magazine.
posted 6:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Zak Smith’s Pynchon Series

posted 5:45 am PST | Permalink

The Worldwide Manga Market Is Now?

What I know about manga would more likely fill a mini-comic as opposed to 37 trade paperbacks or whatever, but I find it interesting that so much of this top 10 list should be recognizable to the average Englsh-language manga fan. I'm not sure exactly what it means, except perhaps that companies may generally continue to neglect older material of interest for newer series, which probably depresses me and three people in California.
posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink

It’s Comic Books’ CW McCall!

image I just like writing "CW McCall" whenever possible, but a comparison between the oddball one-hit wonder and Dark Horse's The Hire comic books sort of works, if you think about it: popular fictional trucker/fast-car driver used as pitchman for bread/BMWs gets own album/comic book based on success of previous commercial series. If nothing else, I won't get "Convoy" out of my head all day.
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Time of the Toad

Gary Groth's most recent (I think) substantial comics-related editorial.
posted 3:45 am PST | Permalink

McCloud on Drawing Technology


Scott McCloud discusses the use of a Cintiq "monitor/tablet hybrid" on the Comics Journal message board, partly in the context of an aid against hand strain: "If anyone reading this is having hand strain problems, take them seriously. It is possible to fuck up your hands *permanently* and/or lose thousands of dollars on treatments if you don't take a long break and do some serious therapy."

Above panel from McCloud's forthcoming comics project he provides as an example.
posted 3:39 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Italian Comics Sales Figures
Comic Book Fan Shares the Love
No Love for Johnny Hart
Cartoonist Profiles Made Possible By TCAF
Brit Dennis Gets Art Show (Thanks J. Miller)
Via Slashdot: Fan Oddly Nostalgic For Nintendo Comics

May 30, 2005

Doonesbury Again Lists War Dead


Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau once again took the Sunday before Memorial Day to list soldiers who died in the current military operations in Iraq -- or at least as many as he could get in, as the names will continue next week. Trudeau also did this to considerably more press in 2004. Editor and Publisher has a story here.
posted 10:24 am PST | Permalink

It’s Memorial Day, and… uh…


With the exception of Mr. Trudeau's work described above, comic strips seem to lend themselves more to Veteran's Day discussions than to Memorial Day. Since every day is "Well Crafted Classic Comic Strip Day," at least around here, it might be fun to spend a few moments reading Milton Caniff's famous 1943 "the speech" strip in Terry and the Pirates.

Editorial cartoonists, on the other hand, tend to always do strips on such holidays, many of the "remember the reason for the season" variety. You can check out Daryl Cagle's 2005 Round-Up here.


UPDATE: This blog does a nice job with general war-related comics covers and images.
posted 10:10 am PST | Permalink

Kobayashi’s Work as Cultural Expression


Speaking of wars and the dead, I thought this was a pretty good attempt at placing the On War work of right-wing cartoonist Yoshinori Kobayashi into a context understandable to Western readers.

Work by Yoshinori Kobayashi.
posted 10:06 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Newsarama: Jenny Lee Leaves Marvel
Missed It: Full Metal Alchemist #1 for 4th Week
Ignatzes Add Categories
George Perez Raises $5000+ for ACTOR
Missed It: National Post's TCAF Preview
Christian Cartoonists: Christian Comics Are Great
Aspects of Life as a Cartoonist in Manila
Eisner Biography's Official Release Announcement

May 29, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Pat Brady Wins Reuben

imagePat Brady of Rose is Rose took home the cartoonist of the year award at the Reuben Awards given out Saturday night in beautiful downtown Scottsdale, Arizona in the traditional formal-wear-only ceremony. Gahan Wilson won the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achivement award. A full list of divisional winners as advertised by the National Cartoonists Society on their web site:

Advertising Illustration: Mike Lester
Book Illustration: Geefwee Boedoe
Comic Books: Darwyn Cooke
Editorial cartoons: Jeff Parker
Feature Animation: Brad Bird
Gag Cartoons: Robert Weber
Greeting Cards: Glenn McCoy
Magazine Feature/Illustration: Jack Pittman
Newspaper Comic Strips: Glenn McCoy
Newspaper Illustartion: Michael McParlane
Newspaper Panel Cartoon: Marcus Hamilton
Television Animation: Craig McCracken

The NCS has also done reader the favor of linking to art samples from its nominations page.

The Doug Wright Awards

In the other prestigious comcis awards ceremony being held this weekend, Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1 won for Best Emerging Talent at the Doug Wright Awards, while Seth's Clyde Fans: Book One won for Best Book.

The Fantastic Four On-Line, Briefly

Here is a brief section concerning tips and available resources when it comes to writing about the Fantastic Four comic book, in case anyone out there reading wants to incorporate information about the comic into an article on the movie, or maybe as a separarte article in and of itself. I would appreciate any suggestions for additions.
posted 12:44 pm PST | Permalink

May 28, 2005

CR Week in Review

Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, May 21 to May 27, 2005:

1. Cartoonist Ali Dilem found guilty in Algeria and fined for making a cartoon about that country's president. His editor is sentenced in absentia to jail time for running the cartoon.

2. Rich Johnston breaks news that Alan Moore will leave DC after current cycle of projects near completion are completed. A third volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is now planned for co-publishing by Knockabout and Top Shelf.

3. The CBLDF releases word of movement in the Gordon Lee case. Lawyers file motions to dismiss on behalf of the Rome, Georgia retailer.


Winners of the Week
Arnold Drake and Jerry Siegel, inaugural recipients of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Pictured: cover to a Drake-scripted issue of Doom Patrol.

Loser of the Week
Crossgen -- the approval of a liquidation plan lays bare how short the company fell of profitability as originally conceived.

Quote of the Week
"It was imbecilic; it had plot holes you couldn't have got away with in Whizzer And Chips in the nineteen sixties. Plot holes no one had noticed." -- Alan Moore's appraisal of the script he'd seen for the forthcoming film version of V For Vendetta.
posted 7:38 am PST | Permalink

Forgot One in the Big Weekend

When talking about the confluence of events taking place on Memorial Day weekend, I forgot to mention the inaugural Doug Wright Awards, to be held this evening. To make up for this omission, here's a picture of the great-looking award itself -- I believe it was designed by Seth -- and an even cooler picture of its namesake.


posted 5:02 am PST | Permalink

May 27, 2005

Comics’ New Big Weekend

When I was growing up, July 4th was a big weekend for comics. The summer specials and annuals were in full swing, local flea markets like Shipshewana were up and running with longboxes next to display cases of throwing stars and even, at least a few times if I'm remembering correctly, the big comic book convention in Chicago took place that weekend.

imageNow it's Memorial Day Weekend that surges to the front, with any number of interesting comics events sprinkled throughout the world. The Toronto Comic Art Festival kicks off its second show ever (first one was in '03) with an impressive guest list and the influence of the great shop The Beguiling. The Olympia Comics Festival is also this weekend for those in the Pacific Northwest, and is organized by Frank Hussey at Danger Room Comics. Expect Peter Bagge among other regional favorites. If the greater Phoenix area sinks into the desert this weekend, the bulk of newspaper strip cartooning in America will go with it as the National Cartoonist Society dons tuxes and golf wear for their yearly meeting in Scottsdale, including the prestigious Reuben Awards. Nominees for the "Big Prize" of cartoonist of the year include eight-time finalist Pat Brady. Finally, Saturday marks the beginning of the weeklong Fete De La BD in France, a Ministry of Culture-facilitated promotion that some alternative-minded comics fans already believe focuses entirely too heavily on comics for commerce's sake.
posted 4:20 am PST | Permalink

CrossGen Bankrupty Plan Approved

A very succinct summary of both the court's approval and the final status of the comic book company's debt can be found at the business analysis site

CrossGen was a line of fantasy books helmed by millonaire comics enthusiast Mark Alessi, some of which resembled superheroes despite denials from the publisher, loosely connected by a shared universe and power implements common to certain stories. It later made attempts at publishing books out of that shared universe and with creator-driven properties. If I remember correctly, the company aggressively pursued movie and television exploitation of their various core properties, but facilitated this by setting their prices comparatively low in order to get them off the ground and running, by which point the failure of their publishing plan caught up with them.

The company was also noteworthy for bringing in its core creative teams as staff rather than working as freelancers, and for relatively aggressive-for-the-time book trade and library programs.
posted 4:15 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Dilem’s Editor Sentenced

imageAccording to this longer piece on the recent convictions of journalists in Algeria that saw Ali Dilem charged with a fine equivalent to almost $1000 USD (50,000 Algerian Dinars), Dilem's editor (I'm guess that's what "director" means) Farid Alilat was sentenced to prison in absentia for publishing Dilem's cartoons. This continues what seems to be a worldwide trend towards using the courts to censure or punish the press for running cartoons that criticize government officials, incidents that would be depressing enough in isolation.

Unrelated Ali Dilem Cartoon.
posted 4:10 am PST | Permalink

European Comics Art Market Watch


I don't know if the European original art market is dominated by the big names, or if that's all we hear about, but here's a page linking to a couple of auctions including one for a 20,000 Euro page from Franquin.
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Live Action Cromartie HS?

posted 3:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Batman: He Is Truly Dark, That Guy
Local Cartoonist Profile: Paul "Maddo" Kelemba
Allred's Golden Plates V2 Hits Happy Utah Stores
Sierre's Old Director Announces Dates of Lausanne '05
Tillman Supporters Still Hate Rall More Than Army

May 26, 2005

Cartoonists Gather in Scottsdale, AZ


A cross-section of cartoonists dominated by newspaper strip heavy-hitters are at this very moment beginning to land in the Phoenix area for the weekend's yearly meeting of the National Cartoonist Society. One imagines there will be much embracing of the golfing stereotype and a premium on the gift shop's Sunday Republic.

The three-day event's highlight is the formal awards dinner known as The Reubens. Up for the big award as cartoonist of the year, usually just called "The Reuben" to distinguish itself from various divisional awards, are Dave Coverly, Dan Piraro and Pat Brady. I am almost certain that of that group Pat Brady has made the nomination circle the most times, although I'm not certain that necessarily makes him a clear favorite. This year's slate feels transitional to me, too, for some reason, and my hunch is we could see one or two nominations in the next couple of year go to first-timers.
posted 11:22 am PST | Permalink

Does Wizard Blackball People or What?

So what about the non-attributed Heidi MacDonald wrote about Tuesday that asserted Frank Miller and Wizard Magazine are in a period of rapprochement after feuding for several years, a time during which Miller was effectively blackballed from coverage in the magazine?

Looks pretty good to me.

I looked at what minor facts I could access that might support or thwart such various statements made in the article.

Since then:

1) I've had it confirmed by people who own a greater run of the magazines than I do that Miller, Dark Knight Strikes Again, the Sin City movie and even advance word on the forthcoming sure-to-be-smash All-Star Batman and Robin are rarely if ever mentioned in the pages of Wizard during the last few years.

2) I received the usual rounds of no comments or was ignored by the principal players I contacted (my space continues to be yours, of course, if any of you change your mind).

3) I also heard from a number of people - no one from DC, NECA, Dark Horse or Wizard wrote me with comments, if anyone's reading from those companies, so no looking suspiciously at your co-workers! - who suggested that at the very least this rumor was widely understood as truth in their various circles, and that Wizard's shit list is aggressively applied and has also contained other industry members, both big players and small.

So there's at least some feeling out there that Wizard has entertained feuds that have explicitly affected their coverage. The reason for the feuds is seen not so much as ethical disagreement on what is good for comics, but more earthy concerns like specific snubs or even corporate politics. The recent publication record indicates that something like this could certainly be true of Miller and the magazine, although you have to give Wizard the benefit of the doubt until someone credible comes on the record and stands behind the claim. If true, Wizard almost certainly short-changed their readers who count on them for a certain kind of coverage. Beyond that, I don't have any clue if a hype magazine has obligations of the more serious kind. It wouldn't be the first magazine in comics to have feuds, that's for sure.

We do know Frank Miller's feelings about Wizard from things he's said or done on the record, so if the two work together past this toy offering, that would just about be confirmation something's changed. The keys to watch for would be a feature article in Wizard that includes some sort of interview, an appearance on one of the magazine's top 10 creator lists, and, most of all, a convention appearance at a Wizard World between now and year's end in anticipation of this year's All Star Batman and Robin project.
posted 11:06 am PST | Permalink

Papercutz Signs With Holtzbrinck

The graphic album publisher NBM has placed their Papercutz line with Holtzbrink Publishers for distribution. That line, which features The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series and soon Zorro in book collections that recall the format used by manga, has reportedly been a strong seller for the company and has certainly led to a great deal of feature article coverage.
posted 11:03 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Park Chung-hee Scrutinized by Comic
Vietnamese Publishers Seek Portion of Market
Maligned Colorado Cartoonist Moves To Video Project
I'm Telling You, ALL the '80s Books are Coming Back
Cartoonists to Descend on Disney's Hometown

May 25, 2005

Ali Dilem Found Guilty and Fined

Cartoonist Ali Dilem received the middle of three punishments in Algerian court yesterday, being found guilty and fined close to $1000 USD. A fellow journalist up on charges was exonerated but has to pay fees, while another was jailed. At issue were libel charges filed on behalf of Algerian President Abdelazi Bouteflika. Dilem faced a year in jail in addition to fines.
posted 10:31 am PST | Permalink

Siegel, Drake Win Finger Award


The first annual Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing went as promised to one late writer (Jerry Siegel) and one living writer (Arnold Drake). Jerry Siegel is best known as the co-creator or even in some circles as the primary creative force behind the format- and genre-defining hero Superman. Arnold Drake may be best known as the writer behind more offbeat 1960s DC Comics titles like Deadman and Doom Patrol.

The Award is named for esteemed original Batman writer Bill Finger and was voted on by a jury made up of Jerry Robinson, Jules Feiffer, Denny O'Neil and Roy Thomas. The award will be given out during the Eisner Awards ceremony on July 15.

posted 10:23 am PST | Permalink

Joha Cartoons for PA Criticized


I would imagine the politics involved will make a determination on the point being made* in the article rather difficult to determine in a way not dominated by such politics, but this criticism of a Palestine Authority newspaper's use of the incredibly aggressive cartoons of Omayya Joha is very interesting both for itself and as yet another sign of the potency of cartooning in the Middle East.

*the ethics of their inclusion, not the cartoons themselves.
posted 10:12 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Souther Salazar’s Store

posted 10:08 am PST | Permalink

Did Wizard Blackball Frank Miller?

Heidi MacDonald ran this fascinating article yesterday about a tiff between Wizard Magazine and Frank Miller dating back to his 2001 criticism of the magazine during a Harvey Awards speech. This is a disagreement in which a "peace" may have recently been reached through the use of an action figure and the intercessory actions of Miller's current creative and business partners at DC Comics.

I can't speak directly to the veracity of the rumor, except to do things like double check if the Sin City press junket and Wizard World LA took place on the same weekend this year (they did).

My Wizard collection is severely limited. Here's what I discovered in a cursory look.

A summer 2001 mention of a Dark Knight Strikes Again production delay was almost certainly written before that year's Harveys. It's probably worth noting the production schedule on DKSA was kind of screwy, which may have had an impact on a magazine on Wizard's to plan ahead and get something in. Miller's desire not to participate might limit options as to kinds of articles.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again series didn't make the best of 2002 list, but DKSA was greeted within the fan community like news in a kindergarten that Santa Claus had died, so that's not terribly surprising.

Sin City coverage or lack thereof I'm unprepared to measure, although my feeling is it should be compared to coverage of adult-skewing films like Road to Perdition or the forthcoming History of Violence, of which I can't recall a ton, as opposed to something with Batman in it.

I tried looking at the web site with little success. Wizard didn't seem to slam or ignore Miller in this piece on great trade paperbacks, quite the opposite actually, but not only could that be from before the dates involved it's not the kind of article really at issue here.

Anyway, I have messages out to a few of the principals, and although I doubt I'll hear back from them, I want to give them a chance to respond.

What I can say right now is this. "Peace" between industry actors is never a positive in and of itself, and it is triply dubious in an industry that thrives on exploitation. There is no excuse for the dominance of avoidance rhetoric when it comes to openly fuckheaded behavior perpetrated by comics entities, and we should all strive to do much better saying so for and on the record.
posted 9:39 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Typocrat Press Photos


Thomas Ott breaks the silence. Also check out the Geneva photo spread for some great pictures of comic shop and studio space.
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Michael Chabon on Big Barda; Evanier Corrects
Deluxe Sin City Books Planned
Generic Comic Book Collector Article
Ring Announcer Loved Comics As Kid
Oldish Gary Larson Letter About Copyright
Jim Toler: New UFS Regional Sales Manager
Another Larry Gonick Book Due This Month

May 24, 2005

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty returns with a review of Melancholia by Aymeric Hainaux.
posted 4:40 pm PST | Permalink

Alan Moore Pulls LOEG III from DC

Top mainstream comics writer Alan Moore will once again sever his relationship with DC Comics after finishing up the latest round of books, taking a planned third League of Extraordinary Gentleman volume to smaller publishers Top Shelf and Knockabout as a joint publishing venture, Rich Johnston reported yesterday.

imageMoore has enjoyed a long and occasionally contentious relationship with DC, the company with which he first made his name on Swamp Thing more than two decades ago. The problems stretch back to the mid 1980s, most famously problems concerning DC trying to claim obvious merchandising considerations as promotional items in order to get around their agreement with Moore. Moore's work for Jim Lee's Image studio WildStorm went to DC when Lee sold it to them (a deal announced in '97, completed in '98 I think) along with his company's other assets. Moore was assuaged by being afforded a corporate set-up that kept him one step removed from the company, in addition to the pressure of having committed to books in the heart of the ABC line to the point that many artists were far along in their work. Still, DC and Moore managed to clash at least twice over content issues, once causing him to withdraw permissions that killed a 15-year anniversary Watchmen promotion. Matt Brady has the best summary of the ABC-era relationship.

Apparently, the straw that broke the camel's back was Moore's objection to film producer Joel Silver claiming Moore had essentially endorsed the forthcoming V For Vendetta movie, which Moore termed a giant, bold-faced lie nearly the exact opposite of his actual encounter with Silver.

Moore and North American publisher Top Shelf have enjoyed a friendly relationship in the last four to five years. Top Shelf has 18 Moore projects and related items in its catalog right now, and also enjoys a healthy working relationship with Moore's From Hell collaborator Eddie Campbell.

If a third volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comes off, and it's the kind of project that may lend itself to a smaller publisher's way of doing things as opposed to the kind of technical support a full line of superhero books like America's Best Comics required, this could be a great stabilizing influence for Top Shelf. The trades related to the projects have done very well, and are consistent strong-sellers. If I recall correctly, at least the first issue of the second volume of the comic book series sold around 45-50,000 copies.

DC's inability to find a wholly satisfactory way of working with such a great and productive talent may be one of the weirdest stories in mainstream comics of the last 20 year, and I imagine many fans share Moore's relief at having once again terminated that relationship.

Update: I received an e-mail today saying that the reason the Watchmen anniversary stuff ended up not being done was not so much a withdrawl of permission by Moore but a clear signal of non-particpation.
posted 9:03 am PST | Permalink

Viz: We Did Run FMA TV Spots

At least according to representative Evelyn Dubocq, who when asked about TV ads for the hit manga Fullmetal Alchemist that CR reader Matt Fraction remembered seeing in New York but others thought might have been DVD commercials, wrote back "Yes, we ran a :15 spot for FMA for 2 weeks on Cartoon Network in top U.S. markets - NY being among them."

There's probably something to be said about how far manga has come that commercials for books no longer make news in and of themselves, but I always get in trouble when I try to talk about manga, so you won't hear that from me.
posted 9:01 am PST | Permalink

Jonathan Yardley Profiles Pogo

imageI found this through Mr. Evanier's site first, although a number of people also graciously e-mailed me this straightforward literary appreciation by Jonathan Yardley at the Washington Post of Walt Kelly's newspaper strip masterwork. It's a nice look at a project that one expects will be revived in major fashion at some near future date for collection. Yardley even shares my affection for the original books, the consistent use of language in even the less flashy ways, and the earlier strips over the later ones.
posted 8:51 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Kurtzman in Esquire

posted 8:42 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Down to the Wire

From the highly useful Box Office Mojo site.

Domestic Revenues Through May 22, 2005:
$73,239,371 (Sin City)
$75,369,588 (Garfield)
posted 8:38 am PST | Permalink

Comics’ Charitable Heart

The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, to open this Fall, has announced the launching of a Scholarship Fund Donation Page to help the pioneering students attend. Seems that the school won't be fully accredited right away, which makes traditional student funding mechanisms more difficult to utilize.

Via Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member Peter David comes a link to an e-bay auction tied into the Gordon Lee case in Georgia, currently the most high-profile CBLDF concern.
posted 8:32 am PST | Permalink

Briefs Unpacked: Walker, Crumb, EC

imageIn this very readable profile of Brian Walker tied into his comic strip histories and the decline of comics in general, comes word that Walker will curate a 700-piece exhibit for a Los Angeles museum. I also thought this piece on Robert Crumb's marketplace presence worth noting if only because this puts the combined England-North America print run of the latest book into the six figures, still pretty rarified air for comics-related book releases. Also, it seems that Russ Cochran is planning one more way of delivering the classic EC comic books -- via color hardbacks like the high-end books done by the mainstream superhero publishers.
posted 8:24 am PST | Permalink

The Fight For Topps comes through with a nice, short article about the financial pursuit of the longtime haven for cartoonists and occasional publisher, the kind of up front business news writing that you don't get to read too often.
posted 8:23 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Image's New PR Man Describes Career-to-Date
Mumbai Cartoonist Makes New York Times
Rall Reacts to Tillman News
Yet Another '80s Indy Comic Comeback
Via afNews: Watterson's Departure Letter
CBH: How Comics Aren't Made

May 23, 2005

The Comics Reporter At The Pulse

Movement in the Gordon Lee case.
posted 5:19 pm PST | Permalink

Calvin and Hobbes Rerun Set; Collection Will Feature New Art and an Essay


Here's a really, really interesting marketing idea if it works -- newspapers will be offered a re-run package of Calvin and Hobbes strips this Fall, tied into the Christmas season release of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. A fine article at E&P goes into the details of this and other publicity efforts for the volume, made interesting because of cartoonist Bill Watterson's reclusive nature. The piece also reports that there will be an essay and new Watterson Art.

Strangely, when I spoke to someone at Andrews last year, they said that despite his reputation they expected few problems working with a fully supportive Watterson on this project, fewer even than working with Gary Larson on the Far Side book that did so well and made this volume possible.
posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink

Marjane Satrapi Cries at West Point


I spoke to Marjane Satrapi a couple of weeks ago and she mentioned how excited she was about a forthcoming speaking engagement at West Point. Apparently, and this is as odd as anything I've ever heard about the mainstreaming of comics in America, Satrapi's memoir Persepolis is required reading at the school. The Los Angeles Times recently carried a report of the talk, which seems to have gone well. So well, in fact, that it had an overwhelming effect on Satrapi. I'm not one to excerpt big chunks of other people's hard work, but I really liked the article's conclusion and hope that putting it here will convince you to register to read the article in whole:
Satrapi had her eyes opened too. She cried onstage at the end of her talk, overcome with emotion. "I am reproaching to people [who say] the world is black and white," she said afterward. "And the world is much more complicated. But I realize that I did not apply it to myself.... It put all my beliefs in general under question."

Followed by:
She admitted having thought that all people in the military "were a little bit of mean people." "And here I see the sweetest people possible.... From now on, each soldier, anywhere in the world, that will die, that will remind me that he was only 19 1/2 and had pink cheeks."

posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink

Breathed Fan: Please Stop Opus Now

imageIn other 1980s comics comeback news, Berke Breathed's return to Sunday comics in Fall 2003 with Opus has been off the radar the last six months or so. In fact, the last I heard about Opus I think it was his syndicate editor changing. The silence is strange only in that some felt Breathed's return to a weekly would be a big deal not just for all the Bloom County fans out there but for newspaper strips in general. At least one fan wants Breathed to go ahead and quit.
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink

This Saturday: La Fete De La BD


Starting this Saturday in France will be a week-long general festival sponsored by the Ministry of Culture throwing a spotlight on comics and their creators. I'm not sure how effective this kind of thing is, but I think when you ponder the idea of something like this happening here there's a big difference: the French-language comics industry enjoys an infrastructure that can much more easily benefit from this kind of thing. The celebration will expand into Belgium and Switzerland in 2006.
posted 3:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Great Profile of Stockholm's Serieteket
Scranton Paper Tracks Down Cartoonist Who Made Fun of Town and Holds Him to Task
Babs Gordon as Art (Thanks, Mr. Andelman)
Comic Book Characters at E3
Nappanee's Cartooning Legacy
Local Cartoonist Profile: John Kennedy Kaburu
Superheroes Are Like Really Violent Now

May 22, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Yes, I'm Only a Bill

As part of Al Nickerson's ongoing exploration of the Creator's Bill of Rights, Steve Bissette challenges me to explain myself on the usefulness of the Bill as a rhetorical tool. I respond here. I hope you're all following Nickerson's various letters back and forth from the particpants.

Room at the Inn

A personal note: Does anyone I know need a bed for Comic-Con International? I could use a roommate at the Westin Horton Plaza. Please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I certainly don't mind having my own room, but I always hear about some friend of mine sleeping on a balcony or something, so I thought I'd ask.

Favorite Comics Related Sight on Afternoon TV This Weekend

Eithr the rag-tag army of well-known comic book artists illustrators talking about Frank Frazetta on an IFC documentary playing heavily this week, or Frank Miller on the red carpet at Cannes. I'm a little confused by the commentary by Roger Ebert and someone else that played through the red carpet ceremony, though. They said that Frank Miller got co-director credit in Sin City for doing the comic on which the movie was based. Wasn't he also on the Sin City movie set providing input, or am I not remembering that correctly?
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

Don’t Forget CR’s CCI Guide


In 53 days, you too can meet artists like Scott McCloud in Artist's Alley...

Update: Scott wrote in to say "Actually, Tom, I won't be in Artist's Alley this year. As I did last year, I have a booth called "Tranquility Base" with four other web cartoonists. Thanks anyway!"

So please go see Scott at Tranquility Base and go see someone that's not Scott in Artist's Alley.
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

May 21, 2005

CR Week in Review

Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, May 7 to May 13, 2005:

1. Latest legal action of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against his country's editorial cartoonists begins in court this week with a blistering response from the defense. Trial to resume in July.

2. Darby Conley sued for reference to Boston area newscaster in his Get Fuzzy strip.

3. Membership shake-up at popular on-line site Keenspot.


Winner of the Week
Frank Miller -- movie at Cannes, various graphic novels at top of DM sales list, Batman and Robin thingamawhatzit series with Jim Lee still to come.

Loser of the Week
The Born Loser, naturally. He turns 40.

Quote of the Week
"Who are these people on the Internet?" -- Marjane Satrapi about this site, in phone conversation.
posted 7:16 am PST | Permalink

May 20, 2005

Get Conley: Popular Cartoonist Sued?

imageAccording to this article, cartoonist Darby Conley has been sued by a Boston-area newscaster for an inference in the Get Fuzzy strip that appears on the air intoxicated. Although I have no problem believing such a line could exist in one of Conley's strips, my problem is that the day in question as displayed by the syndicate and subscribing papers offers a strip that has nothing to with what's described. Neither does anything from Get Fuzzy in the past month. I guess it could have been swapped out; it is a very generic joke, the kind of thing an editor might reach for when needing a quick swap-out. One part of the story that stands out notes that papers might not get sued if they had taken it upon themselves to edit out the plaintiff's name, which seems to set up all sort of awful implications.

Update: Reader John Platt is definitely smarter than I am, as he knows that Yahoo carries strips and I did not. Here's a panel the 5/13 Get Fuzzy in question with a link leading to yahoo's archived strip. I'll also put a copy in commentary, in case Yahoo ditches it.

posted 8:43 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Image to DBD UK

Image Comics signed with Diamond Books UK yesterday, which I mention here just to note that this is the books arm of Diamond's UK enterprises; I think they're about one year old. Image was a client of the company's UK comics distribution service when it began, I think, and they became a partner with the domestic book distribution service in 2002. I hope I'm remembering all that right.
posted 8:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Art Young in The Masses

posted 7:39 am PST | Permalink

Fullmetal Alchemist V.1 Notches Third

The team at has details on another bookstore win for the current hot new manga title, which I mention here to remind myself to find out if there were TV commercials or not, as has been debated in the letters section. I would say this is also fairly impressive given the wider media blitz for all things Star Wars, but something tells me final movies for some reason carry slightly diminished licensing heat.
posted 6:59 am PST | Permalink

Just Don’t Ask to See His Superpower


They do these sports crossover comics every so often and it seems the more modest, regionally focused ones do better than the more ambitious, national efforts. This makes sense, as these are collectible items of local interest -- at least I don't think there's an 11-year-old in Fort Wayne Indiana who would squeal "All right! Udonis Haslem!"

I assume at some point someone will do a serious sports manga about a living athlete that will have fans here, but until they do, there's always sorting though all the strange comics that exist. In addition to turning everyone on the team into a superhero, every so often you also see what looks like a vanity (paid for by the athlete) comics. Sometimes you hear about sports-related comics and don't know what to think. As I recall, Morrie Turner once did a comic about scowly outfielder George Foster, who despite his home run prowess was about as popular with fans as the neighbor that turns you in for not having your recycling separated.

The funny thing to me here is that despite being in idealized superhero-mentor for, Heat coach Stan "Ron Jeremy" Van Gundy still looks really, really seedy.
posted 6:51 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Lessons For Comics Fans: Write Wills; Small Stacks
JG Jones Exclusive to DC For Two Years
Evan Dorkin Mans the Counter on FCBD
Via afNews: 4th Annual Moscow Strip Festival
Worst Opening to Long Review Column Ever
IDW Seizes Transformers License
"Cartooning a Purification Process for Society"

May 19, 2005 April DM Sales Figures

imageThe business analysis site continues its excellent work with industry numbers, providing its monthly array of analysis articles and lists. Of continuing interest to CR readers in terms of the shape of the comics direct market. This month's numbers at key sample points throughout the top 100 indicate in a very non-scientific way that any difference between this month and last might be found in a drop for second-tier comic books, or solid-sellers out of the top 10. Maintaining sales for books beyond the top 10 seems to have been a problem for the DM for a while now.
10 - 82,793 vs. 86777
25 - 60,542 vs. 71230
50 - 38,123 vs. 39580
100 - 19,800 vs. 20313

Noodling for fun also indicates that Marvel takes home 6/10, 16/25, and 31 of the top 50 positions, which could be argued to show that DC is now competing book for book reasonably effectively from month to month. I'm still astonished by the fact that the first non-Big Two book is a Conan comic at #51 and that there seem to be only 16 out of the top 100 that aren't from Marvel and DC. I also think it's interesting to note that the DM's success stories in terms of trade paperbacks don't really match up with the general bookstore's -- more familiar titles with an action-adventure slant than the manga-driven bookstore lists.

I think month after month it becomes increasingly obvious that what we have here is a specialty book market that has been shaped by the big companies to sell big company product and big company-style product (Hello, Red Sonja), and not only that, but a market fashioned over the years in a way to do be that much more responsive with books on which special sales emphasis has been placed within that market. "If we push it, they will come." Despite areas of growth in the overall marketplaces for comics in the last ten years to include viable performances from top arts books, strip books, and non-adventure manga, the American comic book shop in general is just as narrowly focused as it ever was. I'd love for someone smarter with more time to come to a different conclusion and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

In a really good day for the site, also has a lot to say about the general status of scheduled manga releases.

Among the DM's top GN sellers.
posted 7:57 am PST | Permalink

‘05 Manning Award Nominees Released


The 2005 Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award were announced yesterday afternoon.

* Chris Bailey, writer/artist of Major Damage (Sky Dog)
* Ben Caldwell, artist of Dare Detectives (Dark Horse)
* Scott Chantler, artist of Scandalous (Oni)
* Timothy Green II, artist of Fraction, (DC/Focus)
* James Heffron, writer/artist of Territory 51, (Law Dog Comics)

The award is presented during the Eisner Award Ceremony, to be held this year July 15 at the San Diego Convention Center the Friday of Comic-Con International.

Nominees are selected by a committee from the West Coast Comics Club and CCI. The winner is chosen by past winners and Manning's assistants, sort of like the Heisman Trophy. It's also like the Heisman in that the past few years seem to feature more Eric Crouch types than Tony Dorsetts in terms of public visibility.

I'm hoping that's art from Mr. Caldwell.
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink

The Born Loser Turns 40


Careful, that's a PDF. And no, I didn't know Born Loser was still around, but I always liked the way it looked. This is also another famous family-legacy strip, done by the son of the original creator.
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink

Avi Arad Talks Comic Books

The last page of this chat about movie casting and the usual with Avi Arad was fun to me because I've never heard him react to the poor nature of comic book sales before. I'd really love to know how he's claiming a spike in kid readership for Spider-Man -- could that just be they put out a kid's version at that time that has since died?
posted 7:49 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
NOW Magazine Profiles the Great Gary Panter
Toronto Comic Arts Festival Preview
Cartoonist Yesudasan to be Honored
International Enterprise: GN Foreign Rights Company
Can Comics Save Movies?
Local Cartoonist Profile: Tommy Castillo

May 18, 2005

Algerian Cartoonist Faces Jail Time

Ali Dilem's crime? Insulting President Abdelaziz Bouteflika with up to eight cartoons for the paper Liberte. The prosecutor in charge announced his intention to seek jail terms for Dilem and two other journalists on May 10 National groups looking after the rights of journalists are hoping to have the charges dismissed before judgment, expected on May 24. The formal charge is criminal defamation.

Dilem was in the news in 2002 and 2003 for a story whereby Algerian lawmakers seemed to be amending statutes solely in order to fine him. I'm not finding any of his work up at his site right now.
posted 8:36 am PST | Permalink

Prix Bedelys Awarded in Montreal

The Sixth Annual Prix Bedelys, which go to French comic books from the Quebec province in Canada, were awarded in Montreal on Monday by the Promo 9e Art Foundation
The Bedelys d'Or (Best French-Speaking Graphic Novel): Le Photographe Book 2.
The Bedelys Quebec (Best Graphic Novel Published in Quebec): L'abime. (pictured)
The Prix Bedelys Jeunesse -- Ville de Montreal (Best Graphic Novel for 7-12 year olds): Lou: Journal Infime.

The first two awards came with a $1000 cash price and the last one is actually voted for by a jury of children. The announcements were made at the Bibliotheque Nationale du Quebec. For a longer write-up and an amusing photo of two celebrating cartoonists, please go here.

posted 8:32 am PST | Permalink

Dick Tracy and the Attached Sub-Rider

imageI've received a few e-mails asking after the news story that Warren Beatty is suing Tribune Media Services over filming rights for Dick Tracy. It seems to me a pretty straightforward story with almost no comics connection beyond the origin of the character in question. Beatty had certain rights that he would cede back to TMS under certain conditions according to an agreed-upon process. As it looks like Disney agrees that TMS didn't go through the correct procedure to regain rights to Tracy for a potential TV series, I'm a little lost as to exactly why Beatty is suing, but lawsuits in Hollywood shouldn't surprise anyone. As someone has certainly pointed out, there's not enough soft light in the world for Beatty to film another movie like his original Dick Tracy -- a movie which performed well under expectations anyway -- so this is simply business. I'm surprised no one's made a connection to Sin City, a stylized color version of which would be a viable way to do such a film, but I haven't read many articles on the matter. It looks like TMS had a modern-style TV show in mind rather than a movie.

In happier news that's not really comics, either, here's a positive review of a stage adaptation of the Neil Gaiman/Charles Vess effort Stardust.
posted 8:26 am PST | Permalink

DC/CMX Post Ten-Ten Strategy Clear

Although one supposes it's a strategy that could change any day, including anything from a line shut-down to aggressiv expansion, an astute solicitation watcher notes that DC Comics' CMX imprint seems determined to chug along without making any comment on its decision to edit their manga series Tenjho Tenge. As has been notd elsewhere, they are also releasing new titles. The question becomes whether damage to the line in terms of avid readers choosing not to read CMX books because of the controversy was big enough to becomes permanent and untenable, which given the way sales are done in the DM always takes a while to figure out.
posted 8:21 am PST | Permalink

What Everyone Will Want For X-Mas


It looks like it would be easy to park, too.
posted 8:18 am PST | Permalink

Yet Another Strip Leaves Keenspot

Another web-based comic strip announces it's leaving the Keenspot umbrella, making four so far this week. Eric Burns at seems to think that Keenspot's role is now that as a stopping point for strips to establish and grow an audience before eventually leaving on their own. This model would make some sense, although I'm not sure what that would do to Keenspot's effort to carve out a piece of print syndication.
posted 8:16 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read (Star Wars Edition): ME Russell’s Tribute to John Williams

posted 8:11 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Hold on a Sec... Didn't the Early New X-Men Think Wolverine's Claws Came From His Costume?
NYT Profiles Iraqi Cartoonists
Most Ambitious Reprint Project Ever Announced
Malik Sajjad Cartoons Used In Protest: Police Asked to Consider Cessation of Vicious Beatings
Young Girl Porno Anime to Be Prosecuted?
Character Sees Creator's Wedding
San Jose Mercury News Sees Huge Circ. Decline
Get Boys Reading Through Manga
Local Warehouse Profile: Comic Cavalcade

May 17, 2005

Erdogan/Penguen Trial Begins in Turkey

imageThere was movement today in the latest in a series of legal actions taken by Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, against magazines and cartoonists that publish his likeness. This time he's suing the magazne Penguen and its owner for a series of portraits of a likeness of the Prime Minister's head attached to depictions of various animals. In today's court, the defense basically answered the charges and criticized Erdogan. This article nicely sums up the irony of Erdogan taking this position given his own self-portrayal as a champion of free speech. Erdogan's actions have been widely criticized throughout Europe, although the limits of that criticism are unknown. The trial will resume July 5.
posted 10:03 am PST | Permalink

Grant-Funded Op-Ed Cartoon Material


I find this fascinating: a public coming-out for a progressive news syndicate called Minuteman that has been in existence since 1998. Their cartoonist is Khalil Bendib (work pictured above). Apparently the syndicate asked not to be cited when articles were run, in part so that conservatives wouldn't react to their market presence by releasing a flood of free editorial content in direct competition. Neither half of that last sentence reflects well on the realities of the newspaper content business. Sheesh. Also, Minuteman has been supported to a certain extent by grants. Now that they've gained a four-figure foothold they're asking to be credited in order to better call attention to their efforts.
posted 9:58 am PST | Permalink

Webcomics Vault: No Booth in ‘05

Yesterday this site ran mention of a coalition of web cartoonists seeking out material from their peers to sell at July's Comic-Con International. One slight problem: they couldn't get a booth for the show. So not only is that project off the table, it looks like CCI is due a good year exhibitor-wise, something that may eventually lead to the consideration of booths being moved to different locations.
posted 9:55 am PST | Permalink

Sam Henderson Interview at Mr. Skin

imageIt can be informative and entertaining to read interviews from cartoonists on specific subjects. This piece at the celebrity nudity site Mr. Skin concentrates on throwaway R-rated movies as a source from which the talented Sam Henderson might work, but also has some stuff about Henderson's personal life, working on Spongebob Squarepants, and his inspirations.

Photo by Whit Spurgeon.
posted 9:51 am PST | Permalink

New Manga Site, Minis Shop

In on-line news, it's probably worth noting the launch of Manga Life a manga-related site which despite its name may be more accessible for readers who see manga as a part of their overall comics reading experience and not its entirety or something in conjunction with devouring anime. It's way too early to get a read on that, though. Also, the indy and small press-focused web effort Poopsheet has re-opened their mini-comics shop, still a very rare entity.
posted 9:48 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Arad Talks Up Marvel Films Like... Gargoyle?
Various Newspaper Strips Promote Reading
Two More Features Leave Keenspot
Official Info on Author Lethem's Omega at Marvel
Dark Horse Ramps Up Manga Offerings
Danijel Zezelj at Gardner Museum
Spring Andrews McMeel Compilation Releases

May 16, 2005

R. Crumb on R. Crumb


Major newspapers like the L.A. Times are open to editorial submissions, an opportunity often seized by noteworthy people with new books out. Via Mr. Evanier.

Unrelated Drawing of Allen Ginsberg by Mr. Crumb
posted 11:50 am PST | Permalink

Washington Times Apologizes for Garner Cartoon in Letter to Pakistan Embassy

Well... sort of. If I'm reading between the lines correctly, it sounds more like a "sorry that you got so upset" letter of the kind that used to get my knuckles cracked when I was a kid, but no one seems to mind. At least one commentator opines that the initial reaction of Pakistanis to the cartoon depicting the nation as a loyal dog in the hunt for terrorists as rather absurd.
posted 10:33 am PST | Permalink

New Manga Effort: Wise, Forbes, Taylor

imageDavid Wise, Audrey Taylor and Jake Forbes announced their new manga company over the weekend. Go! Media Entertainment intends, in classic America manga company form, to acquire and translate Japanese manga. Wise you can learn about in his own words right here or here, Audrey Taylor is working with Wise on another project, and Jake Forbes was once a Senior Editor at Tokyopop. They've announced their initial line-up. The comics business analysis web site has the most coherent news story, including a breakdown of their books. You could also visit the company's web site here.
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink

WebComics Vault: Plan to Sell at CCI

imageComixpedia reports that a group of webcartoonists are looking to represent and sell the work of other webcartoonists at this July's Comic-Con in San Diego, which they present as a way to have yourself represented there if you can't make it on your own and also to publicize that part of comics in general.
posted 10:27 am PST | Permalink

Profile of Russian Self-Publishers

This article was the most interesting feature to hit the wires this weekend, how Russian artists are turning to comics as an avenue of personal expression and how they're paying for their print runs.
posted 10:26 am PST | Permalink

Portfolio Reviews in Los Angeles

I can't remember this kind of thing happening very often, let alone two. Via Irresponsible Pictures comes news of a portfolio review at Tokyopop, while the mighty Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles is sponsoring a review by industry pros in their magnificent shop this Friday from 12-3.
posted 10:18 am PST | Permalink

Al Kurzrok, 1939-2005


Allan Kurzrok, a one-time Marvel freelancer who later went on to become known as a psychologist who made frequent use of his cartooning skills, died on May 3 after a long illness. Kurzrok worked on Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos, as a letterer and briefly as a writer. He also lettered Not Brand Ecch! One obituary has him working on Spider-Man for the company. He drew 102 comic strips as part of his doctoral dissertation about children coping with grief, and became generally known as an advocate of art and comics as a communication tool. Kurzrok also taught art, painted murals and served as a motivational speaker. Services will be held May 28.

Kurzrok co-creation Tom Tanaka.
posted 10:08 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Trailer for WotW Book Gets Nice PR Roll-Out
Arizona Show Draws on Local Scene
Local Cartoonist Profile: Eric Garcia
David Willis to Leave Keenspot
Local Cartoonist Profile: Lovern Kindzierski
Jarrett J. Krosoczka Announces GN Project
Na'a Murad Loves Comics
First Wave of Puffin Graphic Stuff Out?
Local Cartoonist Profile Peter Dunlap-Shohl
A Happy Hooligan History
Robert Ariail Wins Green Eyeshade Award


May 15, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

image In lieu of an actual thought-out essay, I give you a few False Starts to hopefully amuse: some initial thoughts that aren't quite there about the issue of late comics, a few thoughts about the new Star Wars film that came out of an attempt to write an essay about Star Wars fans and comics fans and the way each imbues the subject of their devotion with too much importance and they're encouraged to do so, and a thought or two about that grotesque Magic Johnson/Fantastic Four commercial that's in rotation on TNT right now.

I'd also like to draw your attention to quality letters from Alex Scott and Ben Towle following up on issues from last week with information that may be of interest to you.
posted 3:39 pm PST | Permalink

May 14, 2005

CR Week In Review

Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, May 7 to May 13, 2005:

1. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund enjoys win in South Carolina on restrictive Internet law.

2. Jake Tarbox resigns from manga imprint CMX, throwing spotlight on changes at DC Comics and the hordes of manga fans who are currently displeased with the imprnt for changes in the title Tenjho Tenge during Tarbox's tenure.

3. Bill Garner and the Washington Times cause minor political uproar in Pakistan over depiction of that nation in cartoon as a faithful dog.

Winner of the Week
DC Comics, who got a decent amount of publicity out of their logo change.

Loser of the Week
Andy Capp, whose image is not up the standard of officials in creator Reg Smythe's hometown, although he continues to make a hell of a hot fry.


Quote of the Week
"Giant Ogreon Carnivora Would Invariably Destroy The Poorly Guarded Camps And Devour Their Puny Defenders" -- choice caption from Jack Katz's one of a kind 1973-1986 indy comics series First Kingdom, now collected, surely a sign of the reach and import of the graphic novel focus in the comics market.
posted 9:24 am PST | Permalink

May 13, 2005

The Comics Reporter At The Pulse

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund posts a big win on a constitutional challenge on a South Carolina law; spotlight thrown on CBLDF's advocacy-style work concerning restrictive laws as opposed to that work which finds itself aiding comics businesspeople in criminal court.
posted 8:23 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: FT on Modern Comics

imageThis Financial Times article on recent comics The Plot, Embroideries, and the re-release of City of Glass provides as a bonus a mostly astute reading of the development of the graphic novel and other forms ostensibly devoted to an adult readership equivalent to those seeking out new literary fiction or seeing the best off-Broadway plays. What seems remarkable to me about the last five years in comics isn't the production of a few brilliant works. You can name three to five great or near great works every year for the last ten or twelve, if not the last twenty. I believe the key difference right now is that 20-40 pretty good works are being released in a calendar year, as opposed to five to seven.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Beckett to Image

I thought about passing over or giving a single link to this move of another packaging house to the Image umbrella. Reconsidering the story, it hits me that as much as Image's problem the last couple of years has been to identify tent-pole hits and generally strong performers like Walking Dead and Invincible in order to give the line an identity past Spawn and Savage Dragon that the company didn't have in its recent avalanche-of-fantasy-stuff days, signing solid performers to fill out the line will also prove to be important for Image's long-term health.
posted 7:59 am PST | Permalink

1989: Cartoonist-Related Kidnapping

imageThe BBC today selected as one of its looks back into the past the 1989 kidnapping in Lebanon of a British war hero. Jackie Mann wouldn't be released more than two years later. What's interesting from a comics standpoint is that his abductors originally demanded the release of those held in suspicion of the murder of cartoonist Naji al-Ali, who was murdered, some say assassinated, in London in 1987. British authorities claimed to be holding no one.

An al-Ali cartoon.
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink

Fact That May Only Interest Me

Someone pointed out to me that my mentions of the US Grant in a recent Comic-Con survivor's guide failed to note that the Grant would be closed this year. I took the hotel's statement that they would re-open in July at face value, particularly considering they were part of the Comic-Con's official con hotels. Turns out this person was right: the venerable hotel will be closed until late December at the earliest. Although it isn't my kind of story, I have to imagine that losing a block of rooms makes the San Diego Con lodging situation that much tighter. Although I've long believed that no one deserves the room they want simply by wanting it, one hopes that special consideration is given to people who signed up in good faith through CCI's service when they could have pursued rooms in other ways.
posted 7:49 am PST | Permalink

Kodansha: Kodansha = Number One

imageIn what might be my favorite news story of the last couple of months, Kodansha announced the winners of the 29th annual Kodansha Manga awards, in which only titles by Kodansha are eligible.
Children's Manga: Sugar Sugar Rune by Moyoco Anno
Shonen Manga: Capeta by Masahito Soda
Shoujo Manga: Oi Piitan!! by Risa Itou and A Perfect Day for Love Letters by George Asakura
General: Dragon Sakura by Mita Norifusa

Past winners include a lot of stuff published by Kodansha.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Central Park Media Reduces Prices
Alex Saviuk Signing Report
Cartoon Art Museum: Baseball, Garfield
Strangers in Paradise Moves French Edition to Kymera
Les Editions de l'An 2 to Actes Sud for Wider Distribution
Award for Comic Art Essay Named for Franco Fossati
Pastor Believes in Superheroes, Christ
Jaxxon's 11 Cartoon Resumes

May 12, 2005

Ali Farzat Named Honorary Chair of Syrian Center for Journalistic Freedom

imageIn a move that further underlines the vital role cartoons play in Middle Eastern journalism, cartoonist and satirist Ali Farzat was named the honorary chairman of the Centre for Defending the Freedom of the Press and Journalists, also known as "Hurriyat," just established in Damascus, Syria.

In 2001, Farzat and his satirical weekly ran afoul of the Syrian government, in part for cartoons featuring Syrian Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro. Farzat had complained more recently that his work had been informally censored by editors too fearful to run his work.

A Farzat cartoon.
posted 6:53 am PST | Permalink

Jake Tarbox Resigns From CMX

Newsarama had it first: Jake Tarbox is leaving his group editorship position at DC Comics' manga imprint CMX. It was an undistinguished run. After an initial product launch interesting mostly in that DC seemed willing to delve into older material that other companes shied away from, Tarbox felt the brunt of fan outrage when DC decided to prune some of the more outrageous sections of the rape romp Tenjho Tenge. The line in general has thus far performed in decent but not spectacular or even above-average fashion.

With listings at for a vice president of marketing (a natural outcome of the reorganization of the DC sales and marketing department, and one that's been up recently) and a national sales director (which is not only new to me, but I don't quite get it given the stacking of personnel in the sales division), you can see DC start to refashion itself as a more prominent and perhaps more focused business within the Time Warner umbrella. There are 14 positions listed if you search through here.

I don't think this latest move makes CMX's survival any less likely than before. Tarbox was a veteran hired to fill a role, not a star around which a line was built. Any decision to cut and run on CMX or keep it seems to me will ultimately depend on different criteria than whether or not Tarbox is around to run things, perhaps more to do with general strategies of the kind that may have made easier decisions on the recently cut-loose Humanoids and 2000 AD lines. I will be surprised if there isn't a bit more shuffling of positions to make up for the loss of the other two lines or to better utilize the company's manpower, and I look forward to more occasional confusing job openings in the next 24 months or so.

As for the Tarbox decision itself, looking back on the Tenjho Tenge thing makes me want to reconsider the conventional wisdom about manga audiences. The kind of focused effort to shun or to comment on a company's policy as talked about in the Newsarama piece indicates a focused, rabid fandom far more than it does random 14-year-olds casually picking up this stuff at the bookstore on a whim. Not that it has to be one or the other, but still.
posted 6:47 am PST | Permalink

Giant Ogreon Carnivora Sighting


Here's some minor but unexpected -- at least by me -- publishing news. Back when Bud Plant ads played the role the entire comics Internet plays today, there were basically three fantasy comic book series in which superhero readers dabbled: Cerebus, Elfquest and Jack Katz's 13-year mythological fever dream First Kingdom. Not sure what ever happened to the first two, but the third is now being released in multiple volumes by an outfit called Mecca Comics. I have no idea how modern readers of comics are going to react to something like this, although I suppose few will get to see it. It mostly just scared the crap out of me back when I was a kid.

Bob Levin's introduction to Katz's career is one of the best essays in his volume Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & Pirates, a book I recently edited for Fantagraphics. Here's an apt first reaction to Katz' work.
"Katz drew every panel -- 2500 seems about right -- not with the stripped down pen of a Charles Schulz or Cathy Guisewite, but with a consciousness that seemed to feel that the innermost circles of Hell were reserved for those who did not fill every square millimeter of their allotted space and an imagination fired by the most garish effluvia 6000 years of myth and pulp could generate -- clashing armies and storm-wracked galleons, contesting gladiators and dueling reptilian behemoths, exploding inter-galactic rocketry and silent, shadow-shrouded temples, placid, Edenistic pastorals and bee-hive busy, visionary metropoli -- leaving readers sitting there, shaking their heads, thunder-lightening-booster thrust-struck, going 'Wow!'"

Jack Katz: a comics original.
posted 6:40 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Fullmetal Alchemist’s Debut

Those are some mighty impressive numbers, particularly as they come at a point where we were warned that new hit titles might begin to slow down.

Update: Reader Matt Fraction wrote in to point out that the title received televsion advertising at least on the Cartoon Network Adult Swim block, which I did not know and want to note here.
posted 6:39 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Nestor Redondo

posted 6:37 am PST | Permalink

More on Marvel Stock Buybacks

I received two helpful letters on yesterday's post about Marvel's stock buybacks, the journalistic equivalent of standing in the produce section looking helpless until someone asks you if you need assistance. Michael Davidson suggests an answer to what was going on with Alan Fine -- always glad to hear when a Marvel executive makes more in a single day than Jack Kirby made in his lifetme -- while Caleb Wright suggests a reason or two why buybacks might really be done and why Ike Perlmutter would agree to not sell until they were done.
posted 6:36 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Douglas Wolk Lays Into Eisner's The Plot
LA Weekly Profile of R. Crumb
Dr. Grady Does
Colleen Doran to do Shoujo How-To
Motley Fool on Marvel... Again
Winter Olympics Publication Accepting Submissions
Villager Profiles MoCCA

May 11, 2005

Marvel Continues Stock Buyback

According to information in their new press release, Marvel has devoted another $150 million to a buyback plan, and shareholder Ike Perlmutter has agreed to lay off selling any of his stock until through the extension period. Of all the reasons to do this kind of thing, I would have to imagine the most benign -- simple "reinvestment" in the company based on the confidence in future profits of of those running it -- has at least some significant influence. I'm not sure how Marvel is buying its shares, though, and then something like Alan Fine's share sales comes along and I'm not sure what to make of that, either. Looks like I have homework to do -- if anyone wants to informally tutor me via an e-mail or two, please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
posted 10:22 am PST | Permalink

Joe Grant, 1908-2005


The death of Disney animation giant Joe Grant on Friday is still slowly winding its way through major media news sources. According to multiple reports, Grant passed away while at the drawing board in his Glendale, California home. Grant contributed artistically but was primarily an animation writer, where he achieved major studio greatness co-penning Dumbo, serving as story editor on Fantasia, writing the Academy Award-winnng "Der Fuehrer's Face," doing the same on Alice in Wonderland, and later even providing the story for Pocahantas. After a long period working for other companies, Grant returned to Disney where he contributed gags and story ideas to many of the company's hits in its 1989-2004 resurgent period, starting with Beauty and the Beast.

Grant originally came to the studio's attention by working as a cartoonist on the Los Angeles Record. Above is a Grant caricature of Eddie Cantor. More than 70 of his drawings are in the Smithsonian's permanent collection.

Joe Grant is survived by two daughters.

Thanks to Paul Di Filippo for reminding me I hadn't written about this yet.
posted 10:18 am PST | Permalink

Weekly World (Potential) Weirdness

In Peter Bagge's e-mailed newsletter he mentions that his Bat Boy feature in the Weekly World News is going to a half-page this way:
Meanwhile, my Bat Boy strip continues to appear regularly in WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, now as a half page strip, and will soon be joined (if it isn't already) by a new weekly strip by comics legend Gene Colon!

Is Gene Colan really doing a comic strip for Weekly World News? Is Pete just being funny? Is someone using a comedic name that sounds like Gene Colan? Somebody please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Update: It looks like it could be Ernie Colon. Sergio Aragones, too!
posted 10:12 am PST | Permalink

The People Stand Behind Andy Capp, and Not Just to Give Him Room to Utz


CR reader Slim Palmer checks in to note that despite local politicians deciding a statue of unruly comics character Andy Capp might not be such a good idea, the people of late creator Reg Smythe's hometown of Hartlepool as represented in the local newspaper's poll on the matter seem to favor the notion by a 9-1 margin.
posted 10:05 am PST | Permalink

Get Out the Vote, Part II

We're nearing the end of the period where you and all of your fellow comics professionals can safely print out your Harvey Awards ballot and send it in via a postage stamp. That's how I did it, anyway. My memory is that the most difficult category was Anthology, but it's been a few days.

Speaking of awards processes in which one may choose to participate, Scott McCloud notes that the Web Cartoonists Choice Awards are in their nomination stage.
posted 10:03 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Aristophane


The cartoonist Aristophane Boulon passed away one year ago today; there's not a lot of his art up anywhere but there are a nice couple of pages at the bottom of this interview.
posted 9:59 am PST | Permalink

Nostalgia Zone’s Carlson: Old Numbers

Mark Evanier notes the debut of a new on-line magazine about comics called Nostalgia Zone. Mark Carlson's article on sales figures through the decades caught my eye because it's such a pain to track down this sort of material when you need a quick quote on something so having some of it in one general place on-line sounds really promising. In addition, actual sales of comics are a nice tonic when it comes to cutting through company-directed hype over the decades. I hope that Carlson will be a bit more explicit about his source work in future columns, but I'll be reading.
posted 9:55 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Mark Hamill Wanted to Be Like Charles Schulz
The Return of Futzie Nutzle
TV, Movies, Dolls = New Comics Golden Age
Manga Artists to Be Part of Cultural Envoys
Strange Confessional Manga Editorial
E&P on MoCCA's Female Cartoonists Exhibit
New Strip, New Small Syndicate
First Tintin Festival Announced
Want to Work in Comics?

May 10, 2005

Bill Garner, Washington Times: Offending Cartoon a Misunderstanding Between East and West

imageIt's hard to gauge the tone of a newly-born political controversy where Pakistan is upset about a Bill Garner cartoon depicting their nation as a loyal dog. On the one hand, it seems to have caught the attention of the legislature and Pakistan's current president is already under pressure to cease helping the United States find anti-American terrorists within Pakistan's borders. On the other hand, the Washington Times seems to be playing this as a tribute to their own reach and power while at the same time running the appropriate soothing explanation from the cartoonist and emphasizing the unfortunate West = Man's Best Friend and East = Dirty Cur split which no doubt adds to the offense.

The thing I don't understand is that depicting someone as a dog has obvious derogatory implications in the West, too. If some cartoonist had depicted the American Armed Forces as a servile dog doing a foreign interest's bidding, the Washington Times is the kind of paper that would be first in line to express its outrage. If that's an unintentional message, it sounds like the Times needs a better screening mechanism for its editorial cartoons to catch unfortunate mistakes, perhaps at the pencil stage (it's not been uncommon in the past for an editorial cartoonist to meet with an editor with several sketches in order to receive feedback and to let the paper in on the process). If that's a message that was intended, they should step up and say so. I wouldn't hold my breath on either one, though.

The slow collapse of editorial cartoons in America is primarily due to economic factors in terms of papers' plummeting needs for locally-generated visual accompaniment. But the decline in relevance that gooses the economic fade finds expression in many ways. The increasing intolerance readers express of any opinion outside of our own certainly plays an important role, perhaps the most important, but so does the sloppiness of some individuals and institutions either wishing to make a point they're not strong enough to then support, or too disinterested to engage such ideas at the newsroom level.
posted 8:57 am PST | Permalink

Tezuka Cultural Awards Announced

imageWinners of this year's Tezuka Osamu Bunka-sho, a cultural award of nine years standing named after the legendary Osamu Tezuka, were announced on Monday.
Grand Prize: Pluto, Naoki Urasawa (based on a Tezuka manga)
Shinsei Award (New Hope): Yunagi no Machi Sakura no Kuni, Kono Fumiyo
Short Story Ward: "Mainichi Kaasan" and "Jokyo Monogatari," Rieko Saibara
Special Award: Kawaski City Museum

Only the grand prize is given out every year. The win over eight other finalists marks Naoki Urasawa's second grand prize honor, after taking the award in 1999 for Monster. Urasawa is the only multiple grand prize winner in the award's short history. Other past winners include Botchan No Jidai, by Natsuo Sekikawa and Jiro Taniguchi, and Fujiko F. Fujio's Doraemon, the first winner in 1997. Urasawa's manga sprung from an arc of Tezuka's seminal Astro Boy.

The awards are sponsored by Asahi Shimbun.
posted 8:46 am PST | Permalink

Fantastic Four Article Includes Kirby

This site recently wondered out loud how news articles about the forthcoming Fantastic Four movie might handle the Lee/Kirby co-creation credit given (1) the recent Lee court victory, (2) recent appearances of Lee's name in the press as sole creator, and (3) the fact that on a certain level Lee claims to have been the primary creator of the FF characters perhaps more than any other because it was a new idea and not really part of Marvel's later writer/artist creative back and forth.

imageAlex Chun's brief LA Times piece on Lee's cameos provides one solution, that smart writers will be sure to emphasize Kirby anyway, and may use the standard of creating the original series as opposed to focusing on the characters and concepts. It's also worth nothing that the Fantastic Four director quoted doesn't seem to make that same co-creation allowance. It's an amusing article besides. That Stan Lee hadn't played a character of his own creation until this summer's Willie Lumpkin was news to me, and odd that this creation predated the modern Marvel universe. Some might suggest he already played his greatest character, "Stan Lee," in Kevin Smith's Mallrats.
posted 8:29 am PST | Permalink

Andy Capp Statue In Trouble: Drunken Wife-Beater’s Image Questioned

imageReg Smythe's Andy Capp is showing signs of becoming the symbol of the under-the-radar nature of even the most successful comic strips. Ever since Smythe's passing, articles and web entries galore have wondered aloud how a character with Andy Capp's opposite-of-delicate proclivities could carry a popular strip in the mid to late 20th Century. While there is something to be said about the phenomenon, similar to not noticing a peculiar or even despicable acquaintance one has grown accustomed to until you move away or they die, my guess is that Capp's world might have appealed to Americans in part because its 1950s row-house milieu was strange to them -- I remember as a child being totally freaked out that he took his bath in a big tub on the floor into which his wife poured water from a kettle.

In this latest article, a statue in the cartoonist's hometown has been called into question.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

Adams Suffers From Focal Dystonia

imageScott Adams having trouble drawing Dilbert sounds like something a computer might spit out after being fed a comics industry straight man program, but this article ends up a thorough look at writer's-cramp style injuries and the role that exercise, changing one's technique, and exploring new technology can have in solving them.
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Warren Ellis’ Toronto Speech Draft

The written version of a recent, free-flowing speech on stories, writing and why he chooses to work in comics.
posted 8:06 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Evanier: Who Did What DC Logo and When
Local Cartoonist Profile: Lee Middleton
Local Cartoonist Profile: David Lasky
Manga Example of Economic Shift to Women
Comics Festival in Barcelona Previewed
Bruce MacKinnon Makes World Press Finals
Letter-Writer Disparages Hart's Evolution Sunday

May 9, 2005

Straw Grasped So As Not to Kick Off Week With a Story About a Logo

It was announced Friday -- maybe elsewhere and earlier unofficially, but if it was I missed it -- that ibooks is moving its distribution from Simon & Schuster to Publishers Group West starting with its Fall 2005 slate.

Thank you, Robert Boyd.
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

DC to Start Using New Logo

imageDC Comics will soon start using the logo at right. It seems far uglier and less versatile than the previous, Milton Glaser-designed one -- Evanier has 'em all up for comparisons' sake -- but since it's a freaking logo it's hard to get worked up about it. It does sort of look like a pro Ultimate Frisbee team logo, I have to admit: "The DC Whammos."

I guess there's stuff to be inferred from a new logo and statements in the corresponding softball NYT article by Warner Brothers Entertainment executive Kevin Tsujihara along the lines that Time Warner is interested in making the moves necessary to maximize profits from its comic-book division -- that the expectation of profits up and down company's various divisions will be there from now on, at the very least. That's fair enough, although I'd suggest sandblasting the sales and marketing departments had already made that pretty clear.

Newsarama updates with a DC mock-up. Go Whammos!
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

FCBD: Issues at Stake

Nice summary article from about the issues at stake as this year's anecdotes from comics shops participating in Saturday's Free Comic Book Day promotion trickle in. It confuses me on one level -- are we waiting on some actual figure derived from orders are just the sense of the retailing room? My guess is the latter. They should keep the non-movie date; if there's a Batman movie out, you can have a separate Batman promotion that would better target people looking for more Batman.
posted 7:39 am PST | Permalink

We Are Old and Will Soon Die


Brought to my attention by author and nascent comics writer Paul Di Filippo: a better than average profile of Rhymes With Orange's Hilary Price, whose strip -- once the poster child for new voices in newspaper comics -- has been in syndication for 10 years now. Yow. This is actually a fairly revealing little piece, and seemingly free of any puffed-up bullshit about sales figures or the artist's projects.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

Tokyopop Wants the Little Ones, Too

Tokyopop sent out a press release this morning that's probably worth noting as one of several signs to come how the company hopes to sustain at least some of its remarkable growth in recent years. Apparently, they're reconfiguring the cine-manga format -- photo-comics done from on-set stills and screen captures -- down to three to six year olds that they will call, sort of unimaginatively, "Junior Cine-Manga."

Tokyopop's photo books with characters like Spongebob Squarepants have indicated sales success for that specific picture and words format when used in the service of popular licenses; the initial books here will come from the My Little Pony and Sesame Street groups. They will cost $3.99.
posted 7:27 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Martin Emond Retrospective
Miguelanxo Prado Takes a Film to Cannes
Excuse Me, What's In A Graphic Novel?
"Grandpa Jones" is a Great Title for a Strip
Book Spotlights Work of the late Maya Kamath
Denny O'Neil Lecture Report
Local Cartoonist Profile: Mark Millar
More on Nic Frising Fundraising
Bob Foster Gets a Job; LA Times Covers It
Lola Switches From TMS to United Media (PDF)

May 8, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine


Welcome to Nerd Vegas

It's only 10 weeks until Comic-Con International 2005, which means, as much as it may cause some of you to shriek in horror, that with the travel-planning component it's time to post the CR Bundle of Tips and Tricks for planning for and enjoying that weekend.

The Rest of 2005 Looks Mighty, Mighty Fine

Here are twelve books that I'm looking forward to seeing in the remainder of this calendar year, including the one depicted above. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with yours!

Attention Cartoonists and PR People

I spent some time updating the coming attractions portion of this site.

Coming in 2005
Coming in 2006
Coming in 2007

Won't you please check them out and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) any corrections, subtractions, and/or additions?
posted 9:31 am PST | Permalink

May 7, 2005

Today is Free Comic Book Day

imageJust a reminder in case last night was "highly affordable whiskey night."

For the uninitiated, Free Comic Book Day is a promotion in which many comic book shops take part where they can buy specially discounted comics from publishers wishing to spotlight their lines generally or a forthcoming publication specficially. From the consumer point of view, it generally means you and anyone you drag with you can visit a participating shop and come away with a free comic book, or maybe more than one. Many shops seem to use the promotion to make a special outreach to young readers, or have local cartoonists into side and run corresponding sales.
posted 7:03 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review

Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, April 30 to May 6, 2005:

image1. Newspaper face a grim Monday of new numbers that reveal general circulation losses, particulary among the big newspapers that anchor the syndicated comic strip businesses. Three major papers that had inflated their numbers in the recent past were left out of the final accounting or the general figures would have been worse.

2. In a time when it seems editors are cautious and readers are hyper-aware, none of the 1000+ editors taking Johnny Hart's B.C. complains about a Sunday castigating the founders of Evolution theory.

3. Start-up company Alias fails to ship a single title in April after promising 12; now to load up 9 titles in single May drop date.

Winner of the Week
The legacy of the late Bill Finger, in whose name a juried award for lifetime achievement in comics writing will begin this summer.

Losers of the Week
Comic shops that bought Alias comics that aren't prepared to handle 9 launch titles on a single day.

Quote of the Week
"Are you sniffing glue? Do you know anything whatsoever about comics, and publishing, and basic marketing 101? There are AGES (and PAGES) of examples of publishers who have tried this kind of idiotic penny-wise, pound-foolish ship-it-all-at-once tactics, and every time EVERY TIME, it cuts into their own sales as you fight for dollars among your own products. -- Retailer Brian Hibbs talking sense in the direction of Alias in a Fanboy Rampage comments section.
posted 6:36 am PST | Permalink

May 6, 2005

Pat Oliphant To Publish in China


The great and occasionally controversial Pat Oliphant has become the first American editorial cartoonist to win a slot in a Chinese-language newspaper, the 600,000-circulation Beijing Youth Daily. Oliphant is a past Pulitzer and Reuben award winner.
posted 9:01 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Armitage Shanks


I see another couple of comics this entertaining, and I'll take back everything snotty I ever said about 24-Hour Comics Day.
posted 8:58 am PST | Permalink

They Say May 7 is Free Comic Book Day

With any number of local articles like this one to remind us, May 7 is Free Comic Book Day. This is an industry promotion whereby participating retailers have access to some cheaper than usual comics which they can then give away for free, usually in conjunction with other store activities, sales, signings, and promotions. If that doesn't get you to your local participating store, you might consider stopping by because it's Bill Griffith Day (at least in one part of the country). If you're lucky, perhaps your store will be working with the local library, opening up your options a bit.

This year the Free Comic Book Day promotion broke free of its scheduling devotion to Superhero-themed movie opening weekends, dates which often fell on holiday weekends and that reinforced links between superheroes and comics that might benefit certain kinds of stores at the expense of others. So I would imagine this is a vital year as the promotion tries to stand on its own; FCBD is now old enough I'd guess there's some attrition, too. Hopefully, your store has a nice promotion planned, and you can round up some pals or some kids in support and bring them down. I liked the Fantagraphics (adults-only) and Flight (all ages) freebies I've read. I imagine there's a nice range of comics for kids, including classic duck comics, superheroes and The Simpsons. You don't have to guess along with me, though.

While this site is hardly the most consistent advocate of comics industry promotions, retailing can be a tough gig. If a shop you know is invested in this program it might be a good chance to show your support for a valuable local business.
posted 8:54 am PST | Permalink

Bill Finger Award Announced


It's nice to have Jerry Robinson engaged with the comic book field again; working with the Eisner Awards, the esteemed cartoonist and advocate has helped institute a juried lifetime achievement in comics writing award to honor the underappreciated Bill Finger. Since all it requires from most of us is to applaud if we're in attendance when the winner is named, I can't think of a better way to celebrate this new award than to read a classic Finger comic book, like the one depicted above.
posted 8:49 am PST | Permalink

Music/Comics: Pernice Bros/Fantomas


Cartoonist Rob Ullman describes to readers of the Comics Journal board how fans of his work and/or the exquisite Pernice Brothers can receive a free comic with the band's forthcoming release. According to this piece, the newest from Fantomas also makes use of comics art, a calendar-themed set of illustrations from Yoshitomo Nara.
posted 8:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Haspiel’s Panel Report

Cartoonist Dean Haspiel gives readers a nice write-up on his attendance of a literary-themed panel featuring playwright/actor Eric Bogosian, the latest cult writer to announce his plans to work in comics. Haspiel is fairly blunt in his appraisal of the event, which makes it pretty fun to read. Although the panel is only tangentially about comics, I thought the way Haspiel described reactions of individuals to his being a cartoonist was fairly interesting.
posted 8:39 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Raijin Comics Site Goes Away
Science Comics Profiled
Bramley Memorial Set for June in NYC
AO Scott on Movie Stars Vs. Superheroes

May 5, 2005

Newsarama: Alias Goes 0 For April

Kudos to Matt Brady at Newsarama for noticing that the ambitious comics start-up Alias whiffed in terms of getting product into retailer hands for their entire first month, and this semi-brutal interview where an attempt is made to explain why it happened and why it's no big deal.
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink

Snapshot of European BD Market

I don't do this as often as I should, but here's a weekly list of top-selling comics I culled from a more comprehensive verson at BDZoom.

+1. Le Triangle Secret: INRI Volume 2, Glenat
2. Mister Blueberry Volume 28, Dargaud
3. Le Vol du Corbeau Volume 2, Dupuis
4. Le Profs Volume 7, Bamboo
5. Angel Heart Volume 7, Panini/Generation Comics
6. Les Aventures de Philip and Francis Volume 1, Dargaud
*7. Get Backers Volume 10, Pika
8. Leonard Volume 25, Lombard
*9. Step Up Love Story Volume 8, Pika
*10. Canardo Volume 15, Casterman

+ I'm guessing that this is Volume 2-2, and not Volume 2-1.
* New Entries

imageA few things popped out at me about that list: One, it features a lot of familiar faces and sturdy series (the only first volume, at #6, is a parody of a best-selling series). Two, the best-selling book is actually part of the wider "Da Vinci Code" phenomenon -- comics existing in conjunction with wider publishing phenomena isn't exactly the shape of the American comics market, with a possible exception being the concurrent rise in visiblity enjoyed by written and cartoon memoirs since 2000. I guess you could argue that Star Wars and Japanese culture are items of wider cultural interest, too, but that's not exactly what I mean. Third, the link comes with an article noting with dismay that the best selling BD are only hitting the top 20 of all books in the 15-20 range, which is a problem American comics don't have.

In other Euro-comics news, the tenth anniversary of the Festival BD Cote D'Azur saw 9200 visitors over three days and various prizes awarded. Jean-Louis Mourier of the Trolls De Troy series won the Grand Prix de la Ville. Prix Special 10 Ans went to Glenat's Captain Biceps, the Prix Coup De Soleil to the brothers Jouvray on Lincoln (Paquet), the Prix Inter Auteur went to Pierre Alary for Soleil's Belladone, and Le Concours de Boules to Chric.

As always, my apologies to anything I screwed up due to my lousy French. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
posted 9:26 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Chris Ware Originals


From an ongoing solo show in the cartoonist's home base of Chicago.
posted 9:24 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

Bart Beaty buys a copy of Thomas Ott's Cinema Panopticum in a Zurich shop; previews the forthcoming North America version.
posted 9:23 am PST | Permalink

TCJ Solicitation Shenanigans


Comics Journal Managing Editor Dirk Deppey's posts about the Previews solicitation he submitted and the Previews solicitation he received are pretty funny. I had no idea Diamond reworked anyone's solicitation copy. Nice cover, though.
posted 9:21 am PST | Permalink

Teachers Learning to Love Comics

This much linked-to piece in USA Today yesterday covering the impact of comics in the educational field probably works best as a recent anecdotal history concerning how those inroads were made. I find this sidebar fascinating in that I have no idea how anyone recommends anything to high school students, as my memory is that personal taste really starts getting locked into place at that age.
posted 9:19 am PST | Permalink

Tokyopop’s Levy On the Numbers

imageI was e-mailed this snippet of an interview with Tokyopop CEO Stuart Levy. Although I'm not even a little bit tempted to subscribe in order to read the whole thing, it impressed me that in the part that's up Levy talks pretty plainly about the slowdown in growth figures. It seems to me if you lobbed similar issues at an American mainstream superhero comics spokesperson, they'd be deflected or corrected, not embraced as a new and greater challenge.

Unrelated Tokyopop offering.
posted 9:12 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Charles Brownstein on Will Eisner Memorial Part III
Cahiers Du Cinema's Cine-Manga Supplement (MF) Spotlights Manga-Inspired Makeup (KSD)
UNESCO Contest Details
Glenn McCoy Launches Third Offering
Laxman's Common Man New Airline Mascot
Cartoonist Profile: Brian K. Vaughn
Comics Brochure Helps Kids Come Out
Marvel Gains Even More Specialty Licensing
Keenspace Deck of Cards PDF Freebie
The Timelessness of Editorial Cartoons
Local Cartoonist Profile: Max Cannon
Editorial Cartoonist Meyer Awarded Knight Fellowship

May 4, 2005

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

Where the Highwater Books projects and creators ended up, plus updates on other matters concerning the company's closing shop six months ago.
posted 3:59 pm PST | Permalink

BC’s Evolution Sunday Offends No One?


Dave Astor at Editor and Publisher picks up on a non-story story that would probably escape any other reporter: Johnny Hart runs an anti-evolution diatribe in his B.C. and no paper complains. This could mean a lot of things -- that traditionally liberal newspaper readers are less likely to complain than conservatives in a way that worries editors, that there are 1200 news outlets in which this is considered non-exceptional dialogue, that years of similar commentaries have won Hart the space to do this kind of thing, or that this specific issue is no longer a hot-button topic that raises hackles by virtue of being discussed. I'm not sure myself. But it's definitely worth noting.
posted 8:31 am PST | Permalink

Turkey’s Erdogan Continues to Sue

Just to keep the issue front and center, here's a nice summary of Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan's use of the courts to harass his country's press, including fines and convictions against depictions from editorial cartoonists of which he doesn't approve.

posted 8:27 am PST | Permalink

Creator’s Bill of Rights Remembered


More of a genial survey than an impassioned piece of advocacy or historical inquiry, Al Nickerson's look at the 1988 Creator's Bill of Rights has one virtue in that it allows Dave Sim, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch and Scott McCloud to hold forth on issues in which they're practiced and invested.

As a result of these cartoonists' natural catankerousness, certain crucial disagreements bubble to the surface, all worth pondering: Dave Sim Vs. Scott McCloud over whether self-publishers need a Bill of Rights; Steve Bissette Vs. Rick Veitch on two different picturs of where things stand now as opposed to the early 1980s; Bissette and Sim Vs. McCloud on the vital importance of distribution, and Sim Vs. Bissette at the point at which money may allow for exclusivity to reprodcution. There's also a point of agreement that proves pretty compelling, that artists are unwilling to divulge contract information that potentially makes them look bad.

Steve Bissette is pretty much the belle of the ball here, I'd say, with his passionate diatribe against such industry events as WildStorm's sale to DC Comics and exactly how modern contracts might be just as bad as ones from an era many think is long gone. Sim's takedown on why Tundra failed is pretty choice stuff, too.

Personally, I don't find the Creator's Bill of Rights all that fascinating a document, except in a fun, dormitory hallway discussion kind of way. In fact, I've always thought conceiving of rights in that manner a potentially harmful thing, and therefore question its usefulness. Universality can loosen the tether from historical circumstance in a way that lifts the discussion of rights out of the real-world dialogue that gives it power and immediacy. In economically exhausted circumstances, creator rights thus too frequently becomes seen as something to bargain away rather than as effective, worthwhile and even just circumstances for which to fight. I thought it was a somewhat dubious rhetorical tool back in 1988, and still think so today. I'd rather we'd had the manifesto.

From Bissette's Tyrant.
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink

Goldie Hawn: Al Capp’s Casting Couch

It's not exactly a new story or anything, but still.
posted 7:41 am PST | Permalink

Go Look: Samuels Design Cover Galleries

posted 7:36 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: 1998 Chat with Yvan Alagbe

I have no idea why it's scrolled forward today, but this 1998 interview with Yvan Alagbe of the great imprint Amok might be worth your translation time if you're a fan of comics art for comics art's sake. I like the part where Alagbe declares he's not a fan of the medium but certain works within it, certainly something you generally don't hear from English-language comics folk.
posted 7:32 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Charles Brownstein on Eisner Memorial Part II
Richard Kelly to Launch GNs In Conjunction with Movie
Steve McGarry Launches Biographic
Even KFS Can't Spell Schulz's Name Correctly
Shusters and Doug Wright Awards Profiled
Locher Award to Terrence Nowicki, Jr.
Disney, Maryland Work on That Comics Curriculum Thing
Local Cartoonist Profile: Dustin Runyan
Fundraiser for Nic Frising

May 3, 2005

Monday Bloody Monday for Newspapers


In a story that indicates a potentially dim future for comic strips, yesterday several major newspapers faced new, accurate, and largely disappointing numbers regarding their respective circulations. The new report comes on the heels of "Do Not Call" legislation's impact on subscription sales, the employment of some better counting methods, and blatant abuse of numbers at a few high-profile dailies not included here. Newspapers want higher numbers to bring to advertisers in order to set higher rates.

What the new numbers seems to indicate is that the slow death of the general-interest print publication, including the daily newspaper, may be a half-step further along than feared (One wonders if the widespread of availability of high-speed Internet, which helps broaden the type of information retrievable on-line, hasn't played a role as well). What growth is taking place is in small newspapers, which traditionally have smaller (single-page) or no comics offerings. Also, it seems logical that syndicates may have to adjust fees they receive from newspapers for comic strip content, which is usually determined by circulation -- although I can't expect this to happen automatically, and wouldn't be surprised if it didn't happen at all.
posted 8:53 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics


Bart Beaty reports in from the International Comix-Festival Luzern.
posted 8:50 am PST | Permalink

Mike Kiley to the top of Tokyopop

I believe this is a pretty straightforward news story, as Mike Kiley assumes further control of Tokyopop's editorial side by taking the position of Publisher following his ascent to the Editor in Chief post last Fall (I double-checked on this, since some reports have him assuming the position presently). Kiley was a co-founder whom I believe left the company briefly but came back and was for a long while linked primarily to the Internet side of their business. Kiley will continue to report to Stuart Levy.

While Tokyopop's success is legitimate and almost publishing legend at this point, I have a hunch it's a mistake to think that the company has settled all the way into a long-term publishing groove. The next few years could potentially be very interesting, if only for the sum total of smaller moves and shifts in points of emphasis.

Please read Robert Boyd's letter of comment for more insight.
posted 8:48 am PST | Permalink

Bookscan Analysis: New Crumb Book Big notes another volume of Fruits Basket rests at the top of the Bookscan numbers, but goes into slightly heavier analysis on the R. Crumb Handbook's initial sales success. They claim it will likely go up with Crumb doing some press such as yesterday's Fresh Air interview. They also find it worth noting how well the book -- which you may recall was fully supported by print media -- has done in England. A check this morning shows the book in's top 100 and the slower-reacting Barnes and Noble top 1000.
posted 8:44 am PST | Permalink

Lethem to Write Omega the Unknown

imageThe gifted, popular writer behind Fortress of Solitude and a well-known fan of comics will write the adventures of one of the moody '70s Marvel loners that he's written about in the past, the eponymous star of Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes' chatty and oddball superhero series Omega the Unknown. To get an idea of potential future Lethem comics, note his take on Omega and others here.

One thing that's interesting about the initial fan reaction to this news is a slight, underlying expression of distaste that the original Omega story was not allowed to reach its natural conclusion under authors Gerber and Skrenes. I don't know if it's charmingly hopeful that fans would react that way, or indicative of a minor reaction to "outsiders" poaching on assignments, or just sort of weird.

I wouldn't be surprised if more authors are recruited for simlar projects, like Augusten Burroughs' Howard the Duck or Chuck Palahniuk's Wildcat.

Speaking of writers, the talented Paul Di Filippo talks about his forthcoming Top 10 series here.
posted 8:34 am PST | Permalink

Remember to Vote For the Harveys

imageWith the Harvey nominations coming out on a Saturday afternoon and considering the high turnover of news on the Internet, I thought a reminder to vote might be in order. Although the Harveys have their share of faults, many of them are diminished by more active participation. You can pick up a ballot and other voting information here.

This site has received complaints about numerous spelling errors on the final ballot, a ballot that looks like it was prepared at the same time the list was being made for public consumption as opposed to afterwards when corrections could be made by the nominees themselves. For accuracy's sake going int, here is what I could find with my meager and historically disqualified proofing skills.
Anthology: Fight should be Flight
Biographical/Historical: Milo George edited two issues of the Comics Journal that came out in 2004.
Biographical/Historical: Basic Book should be Basic Books
Colorist: Partricia Mulvihill should be Patricia Mulvihill
Continuing/Limited Series: Exhitbit A should be Exhibit A
Single Issue: Supernatural Law #101 should be Supernatural Law 101.

And here are some I would have a question about but lack the resources to find out for sure.
Anthology: Is McSweeney's Books the publisher of the Ware-edited Quarterly Concern or is McSweeney's?
New Series: Isn't "The First Hundred Days" the name of the first Ex Machina arc rather than the name of the series?

If I'm wrong, or if there are any others you've noticed and would like corrected for at least whatever tiny percentage of the comics community might go vote from here, please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


From Ralf Haring:
Confirmation on the Ex Machina series Title vs. arc title question.

From Jackie Estrada:
Best Letterer: Richard Starking should be Richard Starkings
Best Artist: John Cassady should be John Cassaday
Best Artist: Juanjo Guardino should be Juanjo Guarnido
Best Cover Artist: Juanjo Guardino should be Juanjo Guarnido
Best Inker: Andy Parks should be Ande Parks
Best Graphic Album of Original Work: Juanjo Guardinoshould be Juanjo Guarnido

"And I seriously doubt that 1602 is eligible for Best New Series, since it started in 2003 and ended in 2004."

From Andrew Farago:
Another vote against 1602's inclusion in its category.
posted 8:21 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Charles Brownstein on the Eisner Memorial
We Sent You to College For This?
Greenpeace, Glenat Team Up for Environmental Comic
Harvard Independent on Graphic Novels
Cagle on Lack of Conservative Cartoonists
Happy Anniversary, Alternate Reality Comics

May 2, 2005

Shuster Awards Handed Out


The Canadian-celebratory Shuster Awards handed out their first year's worth of awards on Saturday. The Awards are named after Canadian native son Joe Shuster, the original artist on Superman.

Outstanding Achievement: Dave Sim and Gerhard for the completion of their 300-issue series, Cerebus.
Outstanding Writer (tie): Sara "Samm" Barnes for Doctor Spectrum and Ty Templeton for Batman Adventures.
Outstanding Artist: Kaare Andrews for Spider-Man & Doctor Octopus: Year One.
Outstanding Cartoonist: Darwyn Cooke for DC: The New Frontier.
Outstanding publisher: Arcana Studio
Retailer Recognition Award (posthumous): Harry Kremer, Now & Then Books in Kitchener, Ont.
Hall Of Fame (all posthumous): Joe Shuster; Leo Bachle A.K.A. Les Barker, creator of Johnny Canuck; Adrian Dingle, creator of Triumph; Hal Foster, creator of Prince Valiant; Ed Furness, artist on Commander Steele; Rand Holmes, creator of underground comic strip Harold Hedd.
posted 8:12 am PST | Permalink

Zeke Zekley, 1915-2005


Zeke Zekley, the popular cartoonist and longtime assistant on Bringing Up Father who did his own newspaper work in the 1950s and 1960s and later ran a productive custom-comics operation, died last Thursday. Mark Evanier's long and heartfelt piece to which I'll defer notes that Zekley may have been an important part of newspaper history for not getting the Bringing Up Father gig on the death of its creator George McManus, causing many cartoonists to secure their replacement before passing on rather than leaving it up to the syndicate.
posted 8:06 am PST | Permalink

More on Death of Go U-yeong

The recent passing of Go U-yeong puts one writer in a mood to discuss how far comics have come in Asia in terms of respectability. It got me to thinking that comic shops may have missed out on a lot of criticism as that specific connection betweeen business and activity became less prominent in the 1970s and 1980s.

Plus, now that I know the preferred spelling of the late cartoonist's name you can read his Lambiek entry here.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

More on Ego Comme X Vs. the Librarian

imageAccording to this report, the great European art comics publisher Ego Comme X official held a press conference where they explain the matter about their being bounced from a speaking engagement because they were accused of publishing works that are pornographic, and the truly shocking charge, that they "defend homosexuality." I'm not naive about the existence of moralistic conservatives in Europe, but that charge would sound strange coming from the Pikeville County Defend the Library Coalition, let alone from an official in France. Although if I'm reading the article correctly, that portion of the complaint was later withdrawn. It looks a direct tstatement from the publisher can be found here.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Illustrated Version of Zinn's People's History Planned
Lawrence Sends Marmaduke on Permanent Fetch
In Europe, There is Even a Festival of Christian Comics
Comixpedia: Fans Ends Six-Year Run
Wham! Pow! Zap! Crap!
2005 Clickburg Webcomics Awards Winners
Scariest Gahan Wilson Illustration Job Yet
Marder, McFarlane Names Appropriated for Mystery Book?
Gerald Scarfe to Draw During Election Coverage
Stan Lee Interviewed; Runs Through His Talking Points
Robert Sabouni on Marvel's Troops Comic
Utah's First Editorial Cartoonist
Free Comic Book Day -- Collect Them For Value

May 1, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine


A special offering for the first day in May -- an extensive interview with Kyle Baker conducted in December 2004 by Andrew Farago. Baker talks about most of his well-reviewed hits, with special attention paid to Birth of a Nation, Plastic Man, and his thoughts on... Identity Crisis? Enjoy a smart talk with one of comics' best to kick off the warm months of the year.
posted 3:18 am PST | Permalink

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