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











August 31, 2005


CBLDF: New Gordon Lee Court Schedule

From their release:
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has learned that the court schedule in the Gordon Lee case has been changed. The hearing on the motions originally scheduled for September 8 has been moved to December 1. The trial, originally scheduled for September 12 will be rescheduled following the hearing on the motions. The rescheduling was mutually agreed upon by the prosecution and defense.

 
posted 10:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Spiegelman Lectures at Lafayette

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This report From Art Spiegelman's lecture at Lafayette College as part of freshman orientation is a quote bonanza. Incoming first-year students were required to read the cartoonist's In the Shadow of No Towers as part of a year-long project designed to help them process multiple points of view from a variety of media. The choice had been criticized by some students who felt that Spiegelman's book was disrespectful to survivors and victims of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, and too heavily political to foster rational discourse in such a program. According to the piece, Spiegelman couched what he was doing while making he book in terms of reaction through comics-making and reporting on what he saw.

image from the book; does the critical dialogue of promise-hatred-recovery around Spiegelman's work remind anyone else of film directors more than cartoonists?
 
posted 7:41 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Egon Labs Unearths Publishing News

imageThe e-mails I got about Art Spiegelman's lecture probably came from people who read it first at Egon Labs, the best site for precise sourcework on important events in the world of art comics, and a site I admire very much. Since I can't link to individual stories there, I suggest you pop over and look near the top (08/30) for entries on details of the next John Porcellino collection and some really heartening news that the John Canemaker Winsor McCay biography (left) will be back in print soon with expanded material, to celebrate that strip's 100th anniversary.
 
posted 7:34 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Penny Arcade Expo 2005 Report

Slashdot features a write-up on the Penny Arcade Expo from last weekend. As I mentioned in passing earlier this week, what's interesting about this is how the partners behind the webcomic have used the high profile of their feature to put themselves in the position of experts in the field they cover, not the art form in which they work. In this case, it's a consumer-oriented gaming show. Note the discussion about the strip that follows. The 8/28 entry at the (old-school) gaming-related blog of Monte Cox provides a conventional wisdom attendance figure.
 
posted 7:26 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Barnacle Press Site Launch

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The new site (click through the image) already has a ton of comics-related material posted for reading, including raritis like the above "1906 in Review" editorial cartoon.
 
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Steven Grant on Big Crossovers

Leave it to Steven Grant to provide the most clear-headed article yet on American mainstream comic book event publishing. If you want a concise write-up on why these things don't work creatively, Grant's column is a great place to start.
 
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Gerald Scarfe Career Retrospective

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Algoud to Tinlot at Fluide Glacial

This story of an editorial change from Albert Algoud to Thierry Tinlot at the magazine Fluide Glacial proves way too fragmented for me to understand its importance given my dubious knowledge of the personalities and context involved, but I imagine it's worth noting, particular as sometimes a reader with knowledge of the French-language market will swoop in and explain things. As I recall, Fluide Glacial just turned 30.
 
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Go, Read: Alan Moore on Arcade in ‘84

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Quick hits
Cindy Sheehan Discussion in... Over the Hedge?
Guardian Notes "Professor Monkey Punch"
Earl's Weight in Peanuts Revealed
Comic Fair Report From Tel Aviv
Daryl Cagle on His Approach to Iraq
Yohan Purchases Stone Bridge Press
Comic Strip Characters That Served in WWII
Solidarity Comic To Provide Movement's History
The Case for Newspaper Cartooning
Andrew Orlowski Discusses Creative Commons Licensing
 

 
August 30, 2005


CBG Parent to Media Company

ABRY Partners has seemingly finalized its deal to purchase F&W Publications, as announced in June; no significant management changes in Krause properties like Comics Buyer's Guide are expected, according to ICv2.com.
 
posted 5:37 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Cagle’s Hurricane Cartoon Index

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Daryl Cagle runs sizeable directories of most slow-developing or lingering major news stories like Hurricane Katrina's landfall. It's a great place to linger if a certain story is on your mind, and it's a fine resource for doing things like checking out various cliches being used when a major figure dies, or comparing regional and national attitudes towards a specific event.
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Nicaraguan Cartoonist: Death Threats

Another example of how it can be rougher for editorial cartoonists overseas than it is in North America; likely roughly half the international incidents reported on this site, the cartoonist isn't being singled out here but is part of an extremely hazardous political situation that is extended to the press.
 
posted 3:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bulgarian Comics Magazine Profile

This is a really thorough profile of a comics magazine in Bulgaria and it primary founder, whom the author compares to young, globe-trotting Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. It comes complete with photos and extended descriptions of the personalities involved -- I link to several of this kind of profile here, and this is among the best executed.
 
posted 3:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Follow Up on 24-Hour Comics News

To follow-up on yesterday's entry, Steve Bissette reports from this past weekend's 24-Hour comics event in Vermont. Here also is official word of the upcoming Seattle event.
 
posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
President Bush Phones Bumsteads

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This sort of makes sense if you think about it, as Prescott Bush likely hung out with Dagwood's mom and dad. The above image is from the extended Blondie crossover in honor of its 75th anniversary, an event upon which I remain unhealthily fixated despite not following it except when it stumbles across my computer screen. Mark Evanier is probably paying closest attention of all the regular comics commentators. Here's a Blondie site if you want to survey some of the gags.
 
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Jacques de Loustal: Grand Prix at Sollies-Ville
Aussie National Cartoon Award Winner
Ellis Expanding Internet Presence to Board
Second Half of Long Klaus Janson Interview
How the Quills Awards Work
Visiting Cartoonist Profile: Sara Varon
Local SCAD Student Profile: Mike O'Brien
New Comic Cartoonist Profile: Scott Stantis
 

 
August 29, 2005


SPX Anthology Line-Up Announced

Since many of you out there keep asking who is in the Small Press Expo anthology this year, I sent an e-mail to Brian Ralph about the SPX Anthology line-up, and he sent me back this list from the contents page.

Kevin Sherry 1
Allison Cole + Eric Paul 4
Jordan Crane 5
Federico Reggiani and Angel Mosquito 9
Rina Ayuyang 17
Kaz Strzepek 21
Matt Rota 25
Max Estes 32
Peter Hamlin 36
Jeff Sharp 38
Dave Lapp 41
Sara Varon 49
Greg Cook 53
Melody Nadia Shickley 58
Bendik Kaltenborn & Kristoffer Kjolberg 66
Leif Goldberg 69
Sindre W. Goksoyr 75
Scott Morse 78
Martin Cendreda 88
Damien Jay 92
Jesse Reklaw 96
N. U. Bertozzi 103
Luke Ramsey 121
Joe Derry 129
Brendan Burford 133
C. Cilla 134
Jennifer Janviere 134
Jennifer Janviere 136
Jim Rugg / Brian Maruca 143
Brian Chippendale 147
Scott Campbell 156
Ben Jones 160
Jeff Czekaj 164
Marc Bell / Peter Thompson 171
Vinh Ngo 178
Maris Wicks 181

Brian Ralph provides the kick-ass cover.

(If this isn't out there yet, and I don't know if it is or not, I'd appreciate a link over a cut-and-paste; I can't stop you, but I'm a grudge-holder)
 
posted 10:23 am PST | Permalink
 

 
ICv2.com: DVD Boosts Sin City

imageThe comics business analysis site ICv2.com notes that the DVD release of the Sin City movie has led to a bump for the first and most prominent volume of the trades released by Dark Horse Comics in conjunction with the movie. According to ICv2.com, this is the first time they can recall a graphic novel directly benefiting in this manner from the second exposure a DVD release brings. Considering that the R-rated, nearly literal translation of Frank Miller's comic book series did a respectable but not blockbuster $75 million in box office this last Spring during a theatrical release, and with the amount of press attention afforded the movie during that time, it makes sense were the DVD launch to be the more successful of the two ways the movie will reach its eventual total audience.
 
posted 6:36 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Penny Arcade’s Robert Khoo Speaks

imageThis interview with the business manager of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins' webcomic Penny Arcade and its related endeavors gives a pretty decent albeit one-sided snapshot of how that enterprise has been developed. It should serve as a pretty decent primer if you've never quite gotten your mind around the success of some of the more popular webcomics. Khoo emphasizes the Penny Arcade Expo, which had its second show this past weekend, and is an event they hope to turn into a major consumer-focused gaming show.
 
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Dennis Puts Debts in Bold Relief

imageThis profile of Fantagraphics' new Dennis the Menace reprint series hit US wires late last week and appeared in a gigantic battery of Canadian newspapers over the weekend. The most interesting part of the story from a comics industry standpoint may be the general dollar figures given for FBI's debt from Spring/early Summer 2003, a burden that nearly caused the company to close its doors.
 
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Go, Look: Kirby Museum Site Debuts

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Missed It: Jim Woodring Audio Interview

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This link swiped from his publisher's blog should take you to an interview with Jim Woodring, one of comics' greatest and most articulate cartoonists. I haven't listened to it yet.
 
posted 5:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Wimbledon Green In The New Yorker

Drawn and Quarterly has announced that an excerpt from its Wimbledon Green appeared in last week's New Yorker magazine, the first time that cartoon-friendly publication has run an excerpt from a forthcoming long-form comics project. D&Q has also announced a brief book tour in support of the book.
 
posted 5:53 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Butler Did It (Or Maybe Not)

imagePublisher Larry Young notes that a recent DC Comics title called Gotham Knights is teasing that the character of Alfred Pennyworth, Batman's trusted butler and official source for conversation while the superhero's back is turned doing bat-computer things, may have reached for that employee of the month status a little too strenuously and murdered someone in order to keep his employer's secret identity from going public. A less-iconic character in some Bill Willingham-penned Batman comic has supposedly taught the Caped Crusader a lesson by allowing the death of his latest young ward, which is harsh even by public school standards. (Willingham peremptorily responds to criticism from hardcore fans by saying, essentially, "Bite me.")

These being superhero comics none of this stuff is set in stone, and a cosmic reset button or slightly less extravagant explain-away plotline is more likely than not. But I think it's worth mentioning the kind of really specific fan-fiction/soap opera silliness in which some of these comics frequently traffic these days, a sign of exhausted characters and a restless audience.
 
posted 5:41 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Brattleboro Museum Event Report

Alan David Doane provides the only report I've read thus far that touches on the weekend's 24-Hour Comic event in Vermont in conjunction with a museum exhibit featuring among others James Sturm, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch and James Kochalka. The more of these events that take place -- there's a library benefit in Seattle coming up -- the more my suggestion last Spring that the 24-Hour Comic is a tired idea with little appeal looks pretty shortsighted.
 
posted 5:36 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Purchase Warren Craghead Art for Good Cause
Fox News: Movies Will Stop Manga's Win Streak
Is Every 1980s-Debut Property Back Now?
CBLDF Profile by Hartford Courant Hits Wire
Fantagraphics' Late Books, Project by Project
Really, Really Rare Wally Wood
 

 
August 28, 2005


CR Sunday Magazine

Eight Stories For The Rest of 2005

For the eight afternoons August 21-28, I'll attempt to mitigate the late-summer blues by listing and discussing a developing story, which will hopefully spark your interest in the months ahead. This would be the last one.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
2. The Gordon Lee Case Goes to Trial
3. The Continuing Weirdness That Is Marvel Vs. DC
4. The Return of Alt-Comix?
5. Books-With-Spines Bonanza
6. Catching Up to Manga
7. Pick Your Poison: Pressures Mount at Home and Abroad for Editorial Cartoonists
8. Webcomics Models Still Up For Grabs?

Jack Kirby Would Have Been 88 Today

I'm an admirer of the comic book artist and writer Jack Kirby (1917-1994). It would have been his 88th birthday today.

Kirby's mid-1960s output with scripting and some unknown level of writing and plotting input by Stan Lee remains to my mind his best sustained work and the key to his bid for "all-time great" status. Kirby had been a sublime action artist since the start of comic books, and supplied many cartoonists of the early American funnybook era with the visual language that came to define such books. But the 1960s Marvel material allowed him to bring into the mix all of his skills with quiet sequences fashioned by so many romance books and the rhythms of spectacle-oriented sci-fi comics. They also tapped an underutilized talent for design. I don't make the claim for greatness with material that is as frequently broad and simplistic as the 1960s Marvels lightly, nor do I extend that claim to every piece of pulp with which I became infatuated while I was a youth. It's that for me, the quality of Kirby's visual imagination in this period seems impossible to deny. I could stare at this stuff for years.

My estimation of its quality or artistic worth aside, this comic book is probably my favorite Kirby.

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It's the story of Kamandi and Ben Boxer (and I think Boxer's friends as well) trapped in an installation by these incredibly furious man-bats. Our heroes negotiate with an unpleasant little creature for a while; eventually a virus is released and they escape. What's wonderful about the issue is how it traffics in kids' concerns: shutting a door before monsters get you, trying to get people to do something for you, finding out why stuff is the way it is, taking on faith one or two unexplainable events and, finally, running away from something that equals pure death. That's like an afternoon playing games at your buddy's house when you're a kid. Not only is the comic conceptually solid, but Kirby draws bad-ass monsters, really disagreeable adults, and incredibly nasty-looking viruses. It's overwhelming but only in a way that challenges our imagination rather than asks us to believe in some subtle ugliness of human interaction. There are even crude parallells that are kind of charming, like the bats as a virus of their own, destroying the vessel around them (the machinery) as they move and aggressively try to spread, or the fact that the adults have the protection of steel while the younger Kamandi is naked and vulnerable. Works like this issue of Kamandi showcase really basic uses of the form in ways that trump its frequent lack of sophistication.

I think those are roughly the same kind of reasons I like this comic, as well:

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I didn't read this until a few years ago, but it works as entertainment because it combines three pretty potent childhood fears that linger long into adulthood -- not having adults believe you, not living up to a specific adult's trust in you, and issues of effectiveness like not being big enough to help or becoming too big to move -- with some terrifyingly odd-looking creatures like that thing with the red helmet-head and rockets on its back. Kirby seemed to grasp that superhero comics were a brilliant stage for basic expressions of movement, color, size and space, extremes that when seen through a younger person's eyes can blow things up until they're understandable. That doesn't by itself mean that superheroes are always a genre for kids, or only so, but rather that they really work well that way, at least when in the hands of a formidable artist.

Anyway, Kirby's comics are all pretty great, and since it's his birthday we should remember that.

Happy 34th Birthday, Joann Sfar!

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Initial Thought For The Day

Since I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who scans the letters page of every pre-1990s comic book he reads looking for names of future comics professionals, I figure I also can't be alone when it comes to scanning art credits when I'm looking at old fanzine/magazine interviews. Here's two Wonder Woman pictures that show up in the general proximity of Roy Thomas Comics Journal interviews (don't ask): a back cover from Frank Miller inked by Terry Austin, and a Jaime Hernandez when Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez were turning out a lot of incidental artwork for that magazine.

The Jaime is all bitmappy because 1) my scanning skills are atrocious and 2) until 1985 comics magazines were printed on rolls of dark gray industrial toilet paper left over from the Korean War.

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By the way, isn't the following a pretty cool cover? I love the way the cover works as the intersection between two lines, and how strong the cat's face is. I think the off-beat coloring is what puts it over the top, though -- you don't see a lot of that particular red or yellows generally on comics racks. I also like the fact there's no cover type other than the logo, even if it's generally bad business not to let potential buyers know what you're covering in a magazine.

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While I'm scanning, my brother sent me the following clipping out of the Chicago Tribune with the scrawled note, "Why is the Hulk wearing Batman's costume?" And you know, he does look pretty huge. I never really understood this particular brand of superhero comics exaggeration. Look at those forearms -- it's like two of Steve McQueen's fused together.

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posted 7:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
August 27, 2005


Eight Stories for the Rest of 2005

For the eight afternoons August 21-28, I'll attempt to mitigate the late-summer blues by listing and discussing a developing story, which will hopefully spark your interest in the months ahead.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
2. The Gordon Lee Case Goes to Trial
3. The Continuing Weirdness That Is Marvel Vs. DC
4. The Return of Alt-Comix?
5. Books-With-Spines Bonanza
6. Catching Up to Manga
7. Pick Your Poison: Pressures Mount at Home and Abroad for Editorial Cartoonists

 
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

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Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, August 20 to August 26, 2005:

1. Oleg Minich threatened with five years of jail in Belarus for cartoons depicting that nation's president in an unflattering way.

2. New projects at major publishers for two European talents, each with a North American fanbase: Enki Bilal and Lewis Trondheim.

3. Publishers Weekly throws the spotlight on cartoonist migration, confirming two six-figure deals for cartoonists among other signs of the growing interest from major book publisher.

Winner of the Week
Viz, moving officially from well-positioned to dominant when it comes to popular Japanese manga licenses for use in the North American market.

Losers of the Week
Anyone looking for a whole lot of detail or much that's quotable from otherwise genial, thoughtful interviews with leaders behind major American comics market forces, Dark Horse's Mike Richardson and Marvel's Dan Buckley.

Quote of the Week
"We changed everything in comics." -- Verotik Publisher Glenn Danzig, showing Richardson and Buckley how it's done.

a title by Verotik I didn't know existed until reading that interview, an art book featuring the late Martin Emond.
 
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August 26, 2005


Eight Stories For The Rest Of 2005

For the eight afternoons August 21-28, I'll attempt to mitigate the late-summer blues by listing and discussing a developing story, which will hopefully spark your interest in the months ahead.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
2. The Gordon Lee Case Goes to Trial
3. The Continuing Weirdness That Is Marvel Vs. DC
4. The Return of Alt-Comix?
5. Books-With-Spines Bonanza
6. Catching Up to Manga
 
posted 2:29 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Internet Cartoonist Hassled in Belarus

Another incident of a cartoonist being harassed by state officials because of the publication of critical cartoons, this time in Belarus where the cartoonist Oleg Minich was threatened with five years imprisonment for putting certain cartoons on-line.
 
posted 8:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Andi Watson and Simon Gane

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Enki Bilal Confirmed to Casterman

This standard but solid article confirms the never-denied rumor that Enki Bilal will be relocating to Casterman. It may be worth running through a translator if you're a fan of the artist. The piece notes a similar departure from Dargaud some 15 years ago, notes which projects stay at Humanoides and which projects go, goes briefly into the official reason the move is being made, and announces Rendez-vous a Paris for 2006, which should complete a trilogy begun in Sommeil du monstre and continued in 32 decembre.

Because English-language publishing deals are often done according to publisher, this might also change what Bilal is released in North America.
 
posted 7:57 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Andi Watson By Himself

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Danzig on Ten Years of Verotik Comics

Here's an interview with Glenn Danzig about his comics publishing house turning old enough to ride on public transportation by itself. As the interviewer notes, the musician seems genuinely happy to talk about Verotik; unsurprisingly, he has an idiosyncratic view of its place in the comics world. Although he speaks disparagingly of a time when Verotik was publishing frequently, I have to say I sort of liked those oddball Golden Age artist showcases they did.
 
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This Comic Made Fred Hembeck Cry

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Well, That Was Certainly Quick

According to the New Yorker Festival web site, the September 25 Chris Ware/Charles Burns Master's Class on the Graphic novel is among those that sold out at the brisk-selling festival.
 
posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Lee/Keillor Team-Up: Will Skip Initial Fight
McAdams Makes Bid for Mention at The Beat
Chris Butcher on Manga Market Corrections
When I Was a Kid, All Cartoonists Looked Like This
Profile of Israeli Comics Scene
Review of Ramones Collection Comic
Local Toy Mogul Profile: Todd McFarlane
Local Comicon Profile: Central Virginia

 

 
August 25, 2005


Eight Stories For The Rest Of 2005

For the eight afternoons August 21-28, I'll attempt to mitigate the late-summer blues by listing and discussing a developing story, which will hopefully spark your interest in the months ahead.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
2. The Gordon Lee Case Goes to Trial
3. The Continuing Weirdness That Is Marvel Vs. DC
4. The Return of Alt-Comix?
5. Books-With-Spines Bonanza
 
posted 1:14 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Breathed Interviewed on Miller Strips

Berke Breathed talks to Editor and Publisher about his recent strips touching on the Judith Miller story (she's the writer currently jailed for not revealing sources). I think Breathed's decision to do these last couple of Sundays is intriguing if you look at it against the backdrop of massive disinterest people have in this story. It also makes you stop and think about how few of the strips in Breathed's latest Opus run have hit with audiences like this.
 
posted 4:36 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Cagle Site Offers Syndication, Books

Two articles throw the spotlight on the Cagle Cartoons site. Editor and Publisher notes the cartoonists and writers added to the site's syndication offerings, plus a book or two on the way. A piece accessible from the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists site points out that the Cagle site is back to being hosted on MSNBC.com, although Daryl Cagle says this is no big deal.
 
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: MTV Geek on Comics/Rock

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I picked out this article because I thought I had a funny anecdote from John Romita Sr. about doing the above cover, but what I actually have is a lot of nothing.
 
posted 4:26 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Download to CCP Graphic Novels Piece

Scott McCloud seems happy at his on-line journal (08/24 entry) with his inclusion in this general arts piece on the graphic novel that ran in a Charleston alt-paper, so I'll trust him that it's worth a look even though I couldn't make the PDF work from this launch page. Maybe a direct link will work for you? Anyway, cute Andy Runyon cover.
 
posted 4:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jacob Covey Co-Curates Exhibit

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Fantagraphics Art Director Jacob Covey is among the curators for "Art of Modern Rock: The Poster Explosion at Seattle's Experience Museum. The opening is at the Seattle Center's Olympic room on August 31 from 6-9 pm. Participating artists of potential interest to comics fans include Glenn Barr, Ellen Forney, Justin Hampton, Frank Kozik, Tara McPherson and Ward Sutton. Covey has been a strong addition to Fantagraphics' design team; the first of his Dennis the Menace books I think is in stores now.
 
posted 4:19 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
All in Color for Twenty-Two and a Half Dimes
Dagwood's Shrinking and Other Academic Findings
Shojo Manga Overview Driven by Shojo Beat Debut
Image of Andy Lau Comic Book Bound
New Wave of Christian Funnybooks Profiled
Miller and Lee as Outer Limit of Current DM
Klaus Janson Interviewed at Comics Foundry
 

 
August 24, 2005


Eight Stories for the Rest of 2005

For the eight afternoons August 21-28, I'll attempt to mitigate the late-summer blues by listing and discussing a developing story, which will hopefully spark your interest in the months ahead.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
2. The Gordon Lee Case Goes to Trial
3. The Continuing Weirdness That Is Marvel Vs. DC
4. The Return of Alt-Comix?
 
posted 12:49 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: PW on Cartoonist Migration

There's a really nice, short article by Douglas Wolk called "The Road to Fruition" in this week's Publishers Weekly on artists moving from comics companies to major book publishers -- including news I hadn't heard yet or was too dumb to register that I heard, that Joe Sacco would be doing his next book (or "a" next book) with a Henry Holt imprint. There are also some words from one of Pantheon's editors about the future of okay-you-take-the-direct-market deals ("you" being the comics publisher) that could be interpreted as pretty ominous.

There's also a really nice signed review by Art Spiegelman of the forthcoming Calvin and Hobbes collection, which he goes after while admitting the two of them don't share much in the way of an artistic pedigree.
"The Complete Calvin and Hobbes offers two intertwined narratives. One details the friendship between Calvin -- the egotistical, feverishly imaginative, wised-up young tyke with the vocabulary of a Yale lit major -- and his animal familiar, Hobbes. Hobbes is seen by Calvin's parents as a nondescript plush toy and by Calvin and the reader as a pouncing and amiable 'real' tiger -- Calvin's slightly-more-sensible better half. The crosscutting between private and shared reality gives the strip its vitality.The autobiographical introduction by the notoriously reclusive Watterson kicks off another tale about the collision of private and shared realities: the story of an ornery artist's battle to explore his craft within the claustrophobic confines of a few inches of newsprint space. The beleaguered Watterson fights the strictures of brutal daily deadlines, skirmishes with editors to win more space for his often graceful Sunday pages, slugs it out with his syndicate to keep his creation from being reduced to a stuffed doll."

The other reviews are of the new ACME Novelty and Top Ten volumes. All in all, well worth firing up the on-line membership or tracking down at your library.
 
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Go, Read: Denis Kitchen Profile

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posted 11:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
On-Site Note: Big Letter Battle

For those of you who don't peruse the letters column regularly, a quick look here will reveal a big, sprawling battle about the nature of comics stores that you might find it worth digging into.
 
posted 11:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Denver Library Nixes Fotonovela Subs

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The situation in Denver where an anti-Spanish Language group turned up racy material in fotonovela magazines available at the city's library, which led to a brief look at all adult comics holdings in the system, has seemingly concluded with the withdrawal of subscriptions from the original group of titles intended. They had been temporarily removed from shelves while a decision was being made and various groups jockeyed for political positions with varying degrees of direct applicability. This article captures a kind of shrugged shoulder isn't-that-caving/what-do-you-want-us-to-do back and forth between interested parties that's worth noting. Totally bitchin' picture of the material iself (above), too.

(Fotonovelas have an interesting history all their own that has been discussed in the works of former Comics Journal contributing writer Anne Rubenstein and by the critic Daniel Raeburn.)
 
posted 6:51 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CBLDF Readies More Lee Fundraising

There's no story more important than the upcoming Gordon Lee case... attendees of Atlanta's Dragon*Con will have their chance to contribute to the war fund in early September through a lithograph by Joseph Michael Linsner, whose support is discussed in full in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund press release.
 
posted 6:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Viz Has Japan’s Top Ten Sewn Up

imageHere's a development Irresponsible Pictures got to before the rest of us -- the current top 10 list in Japan consists entirely of properties licensed in North America by Viz. This is important to note as it underlines both the completeness with which top Japanese serials are licensed now, and how Viz is taking advantage of its corporate set-up to grab major titles. In fact, the latter is what conventional wisdom holds will be one of the terms on which one crucial aspect of the fight for North American manga market share will be fought: Viz's culling of major titles versus Tokyopop's development of various lines.
 
posted 6:37 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Now As Then: Comics Eats Its Young

These were close enough in sentiment and situation I thought them worth posting:

"I just look around at the Big Two and I don't see the same type of circumstances. As you say, one story in 'X-Men Unlimited' and either the writer lands a fairly high-profile mini-series (relative to their experience in the business, at any rate) or simply fades away into obscurity. There's less of a middle ground to inhabit for these guys." -- Joe Casey, The Basement Tapes, 2005

"One of the things we talk about these days is how newer writers in comics now come into the field and start off immediately writing the top title of the line. That's not to say their innate talent couldn't work to their advantage and allow them to turn out a brilliant comic book, but there are reasons why people are eased into writing top titles. When I went to Marvel, they were only publishing about 15 titles a month, so there were far fewer books for me to build up my skills on than there are today. There is just no excuse for people to be thrust into writing name titles before they're ready -- and in some cases falling on their faces and being kicked out of the business." -- Gerry Conway, The Comics Journal, 1981.
 
posted 6:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
New Yorker's Target Issue Violated ASME Tips
Wolf, Rice Added to Cagle Site
Not Comics: Slightly Newer Live-Action Cromartie High School Trailer With Couple of Additions From Older Trailer
Oddly Curated Comics Art Exhibit at UTEP
 

 
August 23, 2005


Eight Stories For The Rest Of 2005

For the eight afternoons August 21-28, I'll attempt to mitigate the late-summer blues by listing and discussing a developing story, which will hopefully spark your interest in the months ahead.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
2. The Gordon Lee Case Goes to Trial
3. The Continuing Weirdness That Is Marvel Vs. DC
 
posted 3:58 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Fred Carrillo, 1926-2005

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The Filipino comics and illustration web site Komikero Comics Journal is reporting that veteran artist and animator Fred Carrillo passed away sometime last week. According to KCJ, Carillo had been suffering from lymphoma and Alzheimer's Disease, and returned home from the United States earlier this year because of his illnesses.

Carillo's career started contributing artistic propaganda to the Panay guerilla movement during the Second World War. He split time between comics and animation after the war, contributing two features to the magazine Bayani before moving onto a fruitful relationship with ACE Publications. Carillo later became art director at Espesyal Komics, and began to work internationally in the early 1970s.

American titles that used Carillo as artist included Eerie, Capt. Power, Phantom Stranger, GI Combat, Weird War Tales, Ghosts, The Conan Saga, Secrets of Haunted House, Savage Sword of Conan and The Unexpected.

His lambiek.net entry is here, and his hall of fame entry at Komikero.com can be found here.
 
posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Mike Richardson on Comics

imageDark Horse head honcho Mike Richardson splits this Comic Book Resources interview between a forthcoming project with new candidate for hardest-working-man status Rick Geary and the state of the market. He fairly echoes Marvel's Dan Buckley on pursuing new audiences through existing practices, and also speaks a bit to Dark Horse's strategy of finding stand-alone concepts over more systemic or even creator-driven placement, with a stark example being the stripping down of a long-planned superhero line down to its more successful books. Does anyone know if the sales figures back up Richardson's statement about their superhero line, particularly through the life of all those titles? I don't think he's being untruthful, but there's room there for him to have finessed tthe point.
 
posted 7:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Davis Co-Launches Educational Site

Next to the post-Perelman Marvel Comics, there's no comics company that offers up a more aggressvie and fun to watch licensing program on an effort by effort basis than Paws, Inc., home of Garfield the Cat. Their latest is a free educational web site in conjunction with local Institute of Reasonably Higher Than Average Learning, Ball State University.
 
posted 7:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Adams Teases Canadian Comics Fans

imageI found this miniature article on Neal Adams to be sort of bizarre, at least in terms of how these "Cartoonist to Appear at Show" featurettes usually. Adams kicks off by declaring he has no interest in comics, which has to read curiously to anyone who's scanning the article to find out about the big local comics show. Then Adams says he'd like to come back, except that he's already recently done something, but that doesn't count, and he's had some vague talks about a special project, or maybe very specific ones about an ongoing series. This might read better if audiences could be expected to be familiar with the artist and thus understand the parameters involved with Adams' ennui, but as that's not likely I detect a more general reaction of bafflement.
 
posted 6:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More Schools Start Manga/Anime Depts

Another semi-strange feature article on comics can be found here, a profile of the growing presence in academia of manga/anime studies. This piece points out manga's in decline in Japan but doesn't really go further than introducing this notion. It also notes that many of the universities in question are in the same region, and then slips into some social class analysis before concluding.
 
posted 6:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Interview with Francesco Marciuliano
Manga for Cell Phones Arms Race
Seven Seas Tweaks Its Logo
168-Hour Comic Now Available
Local Ex-Cartoonist Profile: Ken Stark
Local Studio Profile: Acronym Comics
Regional Non-Hating Cartoonist Profile: Chung Koo-mi
 

 
August 22, 2005


Eight Stories for The Rest of 2005

For the eight afternoons August 21-28, I'll attempt to mitigate the late-summer blues by listing and discuss a developing story, which will hopefully spark your interest in the months ahead.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
2. The Gordon Lee Case Goes to Trial
 
posted 5:35 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Dan Buckley: Make Mine Generalities

Marvel's Dan Buckley sits down with the comics business analysis site ICv2.com for an annual interview starting here and manages to say not a whole lot beyond everything's going pretty well. He does talk abouthow Marvel is essentially on the one hand exploiting its characters and on other kind of casting about for titles and formats that best suit potential outreach markets like Walgreens (4859 stores in 45 states and Peurto Rico).
 
posted 5:41 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Trondheim Given Line at Delcourt

imageAccording to this news article and this follow-up interview, the remarkably talented cartoonist Lewis Trondheim will be among those creators afforded the opportunity to put together a line for the giant publisher. If I'm reading everything correctly, Trondheim will be able to publish books if he strongly believes in them even if Delcourt isn't hot on them. The first few books may look like Trondheim's own Mister O in terms of format, and the whole line will be aimed somewhat at kids, I think -- Trondheim mentions something in passing that the original L'Association reader is probably a parent by now.
 
posted 5:31 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Another Agented Comics Sale Listed

The one posted here is about halfway down. I'm telling you, if you're a cartoonist and you have an idea that would make a decent issues-oriented television movie, get it down on paper and submit it to agencies before all the five- and six-figure advances are gone.
 
posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Joann Sfar Chat on NPR

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The Rabbi's Cat by the extremely talented cartoonist Joann Sfar has hit bookstore shelves everywhere (although for those out there keeping count the one big-box bookstore I visited on Saturday did not have its cover out or additional copies featured up front).
 
posted 5:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
AAEC Covers Crap Out of Own Con

While there were a few scattered reports that came out closer to the date of the recent Sacramento convention held by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, nearly every aspect of the show was covered last week, if you're interested.
 
posted 5:09 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Not Comics: Live-Action Cromartie HS Movie Review
Chip Kidd to Host Graphic Novel Tutorial
Kochalka-Devoted Blog Examined and Explained
Professor Wants Doonesbury Moved
Not Comics: Pixar Story Ace Dies in Accident
Tazarka, Tunisia Prepares for Comic Strip Show
Local Grad Student Profile: Stephen Kuniak
 

 
August 21, 2005


CR Sunday Magazine

Enjoying 2005: Eight Stories to Hold Our Interest

With the calendar year 2005 pushing more pages up and under the thumbtack than are left hanging below the fold, it seems the usual late-summer reduction of energy has begun to seep into comics' various communities and industry mechanisms. Luckily, there's a ton of stuff happening or about to happen that's way too interesting, fun, and enjoyable for anything less than our full attention.

For the next eight afternoons, I'll list and discuss a developing story here to hopefully spark your interest about the months ahead.

1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

Let's All Pitch In and Buy Them a Retirement Package

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Mark Evanier has begun to discuss this summer's comics crossover that doesn't involve grimacing superheroes and their comic relief running around murdering each other: Blondie's 75th anniversary celebration. He starts here and continues here and here. On Monday here.

Early Thought of the Day

In the few years since I moved to New Mexico from the Pacific Northwest, I'd grown used to stopping by Modern Age Comics in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on trips from my home to El Paso's airport. Modern Age was a very modest shop; it carried little more than the latest comics from big American mainstream superhero companies and a few big-name back issues, either in longboxes or on the wall. Depending on how much cash I had in my pocket when I hit exit 142 I would usually $3-$5 of comics from four or five quarter-bin boxes or I would indulge that wonderful, not-to-be-duplicated-anywhere-else comic shop experience of dropping $25 and getting a little snapshot of what's going on in the industry right at that moment. Modern Age Comics was a clean store, with lots of parking, and easy to access from the highway. The clerk was friendly and seemed comfortable dealing with people. Whenever I thought of the typical comics shop, I thought of it.

If you're paying to attention to verb tenses, you may have guessed that yesterday I discovered Modern Age has closed since the last time I visited (I figure the worst, anyway: the store is gone and the phone is disconnected). I think, although I could be wrong, that it was the last comic shop in town, or at least the last shop that functioned primarily as a comics shop. Las Cruces is only a small city, with a population of 75,000. But that makes it the second biggest city in the state according to one count, and New Mexico cities are generally supported by impressive surrounding-county populations. Las Cruces is the home of New Mexico State, so it's definitely a college town, too.

It's always been my suspicion that the post-collectible boom implosion hastened along by so many companies looking to short-term competitive solutions had a disproportionate impact on shops servicing smaller than major urban areas. If nothing else, losing 3 of 5 comic shops in your area has to have a different impact than losing 1 of 1. If Modern Age somehow miraculously survived, a single comic shop on seven hours of major America highway isn't exactly a boom. I'm now three hours from a comic shop, more than four hours to one I would actually choose to visit once a month if I lived in city limits. It can't be healthy for an industry that presumes an international audience for its offerings to leave large stretches of the country without reasonable access to even its most popular product. Is there anything that can be done about this? Is anyone else concerned?

Today's Admission

I have yet to form an opinion specific to the Batman art story worth digging into in any great detail. DC couldn't have done the art, the art gallery, or the phrase "Gay Batman" any bigger publicity favor, though. Sheesh.
 
posted 6:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
August 20, 2005


CR Week in Review

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Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, August 13 to August 19, 2005:

1. Mort Walker changes his museum's name and announces move to New York City's Empire State Building.

2. The Center for Cartoon Studies announces that The Charles Schulz estate is funding the school's library, a rare happy news event.

3. Sales figures for July show a lot of activity at the the top of the chart, big-company dominance that would have pleased Jim Shooter back in the day, and a small overall boost because of the furious top-of-the-charts activity that has some worried about the healthy of lower backlist items and regular series.

Winners of the Week
Fans of 1940s cartoonists, as a new edition of Bill Mauldin's war comics and a recovered, later children's book from Crockett Johnson are announced.

Loser of the Week
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art -- no matter how you spin it, a major cartoon museum moving onto your turf with accelerated plans involving major real estate can't be good news. It's far from a death knell, either, but still.

Quote of the Week
"The comics that use digital technology to break out of their frozen boxes are really more like animated cartoons. And those that don't are just like the old, pre-digital ones, without the allure of the printed page and with a few added headaches for reader and creator alike." -- Sarah Boxer on Webcomics in the New York Times, an article described as a "perky little hatchet job" by Scott McCloud.

A faraway glimpse of the Crockett Johnson work from the publisher's web site.
 
posted 6:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Week’s Reviews

Battle Hymn #3
Heru
Baobab Volume 1
Paper Rodeo #19
Yotsuba&! Volume 1
 
posted 3:58 am PST | Permalink
 

 
August 19, 2005


BD Pirate Gets 1 Euro Fine

I missed this but the great site afNews.info picked up on it through a magazine story. Back in April, a man was convicted of scanning in over 2000 French comics, but -- and I might not be reading this totally right -- since even the publishers agree (that's the part I'm a little shaky on) that uploading these comics wasn't costing him business, he was fined a single Euro.
 
posted 6:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Any Chance to Write About Aquaman

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The best thing about this article is the genuine excitement this person has for writing about Aquaman. Like you could imagine sitting in a restaurant with him and someone at the next table mentions Aquaman, and he would really strain his ears to hear what was said and have to fight off leaning over and adding something. Okay, maybe not, but I like to imagine it that way. The other good thing about an Aquaman article is I really like some of these old Aquaman covers.
 
posted 6:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Exem’s Illustrations

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posted 6:19 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Summits Set for Baltimore, Fort Wayne

My only memory of comics in Fort Wayne, Indiana is in 1980 trying to go to a comic book shop while with my friend's family and his mom getting really mad about the store's irregular hours. I'm sure there's a rational explanation for these locations being selected for upcoming retailer summits, but I can't help but think of the Baltimore attendees eating crabcakes and then hitting a baseball game at Camden Yards and the Fort Wayne crew hitting the drive through at a Rally's Hamburgers and then visiting Grass Green's childhood home or something. Actually, that last might be preferable to an Orioles game.
 
posted 6:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
New Yorker Cartoon Kicks off Pyongyang PR
Trek Strip Launches at Nadir of Interest
John Jackson Miller's July DM Sales Analysis
Mike Carey on Conclusion of Lucifer Series
Go, Listen: Steve Lafler (Click Button at 08/15)
An Evening With a New Yorker Cartoonist
Greatest Cartoonist Name Ever
 

 
August 18, 2005


Stars & Stripes Ombudsman Digs In

I dream of a world where Joe Ungaro flies around in a custom jet dispensing similarly rational analyses wherever and whenever a comics discussion on politics begins its inevitable descent into strident idiocy.
 
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Ups and Downs of Comic Books

imageTwo entries on writer Steve Gerber's blog show how tough it can be in mainstream American comic books to gauge company support for your latest project. In this post, Gerber notes that DC has temporarily suspended plans for a second trade of the first, well-liked Hard Time series to coincide with the release of a first comic in a second run. In this entry a few days later, the writer is happy to note the boost the new series has received in the latest DC comics' promotional pages.
 
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Just What Comic Books Needs

Another publisher. It's like the black and white boom all over again, this time with more color and less boom.
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Joann Sfar’s Carnets D’Ete

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posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Marvel Releases 50th Volume I Can't Afford
Archie Comics Sues The Veronicas
For Every Shop That Closes...
... Another One Opens (We Hope)
Making It Turns 20
Yellow Kid Exhibit to Ohio State
New James Kochalka Devoted Blog
A Short Interview With Jim Korkis
This Newspaper Article Loves On-Line Comics
 

 
August 17, 2005


Love Manga Corrects Manga Chart

For all you number-heads, this is a nice, short rant about Diamond's manga and graphic novels charts not exactly matching up.
 
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
New Bill Mauldin Book Announced

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I'm happy for any attention paid to Bill Mauldin's cartoons, both from the Willie and Joe era and his later editorial cartoon work. I am also definitely part of the audience for this recently-announced book of his World War II cartoons. There's a really, really wonderful book out there to be done that covers the entirety of Mauldin's at-times jubilant, at-times heartbreaking life as a military cartoonist, then a celebrity and later a crusading editorial cartoonist/reporter, but with as many people invested in certain periods of Mr. Mauldin's life, all of which are true to his legacy as well, I imagine such a book will never happen.
 
posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Sarah Boxer on Webcomics in NYT

I imagine some people really aren't going to care for Sarah Boxer's New York Times article about the artistic potential for webcomics and what she could actually find when she went looking for it. Her article's primary service, though, might be to point out how many webcomics remain baffling to access for the first time, particularly those on the more theoretically ambitious end. It's still hard for me to track down and then access comics of this type really easily, and I'm quite the comics-savvy nerdling.

Where I probably least agree with her criticism is in castigating a couple of comics for belonging to subscription services, even though the new-comics-free emphasis on many sites can be confusing and doesn't always seem to serve the reader pursuing new comics as much as reflect a certain common consumption profile and entice return customers attracted to the free stuff. That being said, I can't imagine getting mad because a text preview or a film trailer only offers so much before they want you to buy a book or pay for a movie ticket; site owners are also generally happy to accommodate press.

Eric Burns rips into the column.

Joey Manley writes in to say Boxer received press passes to Modern Tales; I guess her objection to subscription sites were based solely on what it means to the reader.
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Interviewing Dreamwave’s New Owner

Mr. Christian Dery, who bought the remaining Dreamwave assets at recent auction, seems like nice, sincere guy in this chat at Newsarama. I still couldn't help all through the interview, while thinking of even more titles to come into today's title-crowded market, wishing more lifelong fans-turned-businessmen would come into comics as aggressive, innovative retailers.
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More on the Passing of Mar Amongo

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art by Amongo from an impressive gallery
 
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Johnny Ryan Art Show at Meltdown
Fantagraphics Destroys Harmless Implements
Send Mark Pett Your Fast Food Stories
Daryl Cagle's Bush/Sheehan Round-Up
Comics Foundry Interviews Aaron Renier
 

 
August 16, 2005


Schulz Estate Funds CCS Library

Received this earlier today, and it sounds great for all parties involved:
PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Ollie
(802) 295-3319
ollie@cartoonstudies.org

GOOD GRIEF! CHARLES SCHULZ ESTATE FUNDS CARTOON LIBRARY IN WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VERMONT

(White River Junction, VT) The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) announces the opening of The Schulz Library. The Library will be located in the old fire house (58 Bridge Street) that is also the home of White River Junction's Main Street Museum. Jean Schulz, Charles Schulz widow and director of the Schulz Foundation, provided the funding to get the library up and running.

"Sparky said frequently that there were no child genius cartoonists. He pointed out that it required a certain age and maturity to be able to reflect on the humor in life. He also felt it was important to learn to draw things properly before one can cartoon them. I hope that The Schulz Library within The Center for Cartoon Studies will help to provide the commitment to the craft and the history which will inspire the next generation of cartoonists," said Jean Schulz.

The Schulz Library will hold The Center for Cartoon Studies impressive collection of graphic novels, comics, and related ephemera and will be a critical research center for CCS students and its faculty.

"There is no cartoonist I hold in higher esteem than Charles M. Schulz. CCS is committed to carry on Sparky's dedication to the craft, history, and dignity of cartooning," said CCS director James Sturm

CCS incoming students, interns, and staff have already begun the immense task of organizing and cataloging the Library. The Center continues to receive donated books from publishers, cartoonists, and school supporters.

CHARLES M. SCHULZ, creator of the comic strip Peanuts, is the most widely syndicated cartoonist in history, with his work appearing in over 2,300 newspapers. He has published more than 1,400 books, won Peabody and Emmy awards for his animated specials, and is responsible for the most-produced musical in the American theatre, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown".

THE CENTER FOR CARTOON STUDIES, offering one and two-year courses of study, is designed for a small group of dedicated highly creative students with a passion and appreciation for graphic novels, storytelling, writing, comics, and design. Experienced and internationally recognized cartoonists, writers, and designers will teach classes. The school is located in downtown White River Junction, Vermont in the historic Colodny Surprise Department Store building.

The Center for Cartoon Studies, PO Box 125, White River Junction, VT 05001
(802) 295-3319 * http://cartoonstudies.org

- END -

 
posted 3:40 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
ICv2.com: Miller/Lee Sell 261,000

imageICv2.com's always must-read, multiple-article analysis of July's direct market sales indicates that the Frank Miller/Jim Lee collaboration on All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder sold 261,000 copies, more than any other single comic book thus far this decade. With those sales, continued strong sales for the Brian Bendis-written House of M and New Avengers efforts, and a top 20 littered with House of M tie-ins including two issues of the main mini-series, comics sales went up 7 percent despite a decline on most titles within the top 25 from their previous issues. Combined with the continued growth in sales of graphic novels in the direct market from this year to last, overall sales were up 10 percent as compared to the same month in 2004. Sales have been expected to be strong for a period of July to at least September, as multiple plot-driven series hit in a variety of formats and graphic novel sales expected to continued.

In various figures of the kind we watch here at CR, the comics numbers dip below 50,000 after the 40th best selling comic, below 25,000 at #89, and below 15,000 at #126. I count eight of the top 100 titles not being from Marvel and DC (Aspen, Dark Horse and Dynamite share them), which I think is actually a slight improvement. As in past months the top graphic novel sales tend to favor collected work from Marvel and DC with a few of the more popular manga series sprinkled throughout the top 25. The key, as always, is whether or not this heavy concentration on mini-series can 1) be sustained, which means they have to start consistently selling through to customers and 2) if this high-profile special event stuff eventually has a positive effect on regular series offerings.

The DM's top-selling graphic novel of the month, Y The Last Man Volume 5.
 
posted 4:51 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Ugliness in the Denver Library

I underplayed this with a single link last week, but the story of Spanish-language photonovelas found in the Denver library is worth tracking as it kind of digs in as a item of regional controversy. Naughty comics in general have since been added to the publicity mix, the agenda of the people looking for the comics in the first place has been laid bare as an outgrowth of an anti-immigrant ploy, while author and comics writer Neil Gaiman leaves no doubt where he stands and has even alerted the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to keep an eye on the general situation.
 
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Odd Bodkins PDFs

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It took me a while to get them to work, but it was worth the wait. All-time comics character and underground comix legend Dan O'Neill has a few stories up on his web site for temporary free download. This way station has the link (scroll down a bit once you get to O'Nell's site), some background and an anecdote or two, all worth reading.
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Marvel’s Zoom Academy Suit Settled

This business news magazine article indicates that the Zoom Academy case has been settled. Marvel and Fox had sued the movie's studio partners for its similarities to the X-Men movie series. Both sides asked the case be dismissed due to the settlement. If not for its successful business licensing with various narrowcast partners, Marvel's don't-back-down attitude about filing suit against other entertainment companies would be the biggest difference between the company now and twenty years ago.
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Downloadable Tezuka Only $1200

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I first saw this note about a complete Tezuka e-book here. It's great to think that all of that work could be available in any form, even as a massive computer file. That's 382 volumes, in case you missed the clue above.
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Schulz 9th Most Beloved Dead Celebrity
Titans of Vermont Do 24-Hour Battle
Haitian Political Cartoonists Profiled
Local Con Guest Profile: Dan Slott
Praise For the Mystery of Blondie
 

 
August 15, 2005


Watterson Re-Runs Hit 200 So Far

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That's a pretty sizeable number of newspapers running the syndicated package of strips considering it's essentially an extended commercial for the forthcoming complete Calvin & Hobbes three-volume book set.
 
posted 3:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Mort Walker’s Cartoon Museum to NYC

imageMort Walker looks to be following through on an idea that Editor & Publisher notes he's been bandying about in public for years by renaming his International Museum for Cartoon Art the National Cartoon Museum and securing space in the Empire State Building, with plans to open in 2006. The 31-year-old museum had previously been housed in Connecticut, New York (Rye Brook) and in Florida, locations that counted on the museum becoming a long-term drive-to destination site. Despite modest success, this never happened. The museum's holdings, estimated at 150,000+ pieces, have been in storage since 2002.

Like most pieces featuring Walker -- who probably doesn't get enough credit for this kind of interest in the form -- there are some fine out-of-left-field details that make the article a bouncy read: a cartoonists' meeting in Jamaica, Marvel pledging $1 million in the throes of financial turmoil, and so on. If Walker's museum becomes fully housed in the building that hosted Martin Goodman's comic book company once upon a time, it should give some teeth to the conventional wisdom that New York City is the only place on the East Coast for such a museum. It could also test another piece of conventional wisdom about such a museum, that interest will only ever be high enough for one to survive long-term.
 
posted 3:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Dan Piraro’s Double-Caption Detour

According to this newspaper report, the cartoonist Dan Piraro submitted a provocative and a safe caption to a recent cartoon (the provocative one castigated laws that do not recognize same-sex partners in terms of hospital rights), and then when his syndicate's service bureau got a hold of it, an editor's choice went out the window and one caption went to the color cartoon, one to the black and white, so people still got mad at Piraro.

 
posted 3:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Newsweek: Comics’ Worldwide Boom

imageRead at least the first page of this Newsweek article for its summary of the international growth in comics, which seems to me a pretty decent one, at least on first glance. The rest of it bounces between some dubious theories -- comics movies led to comics interest in bookstores led to the discovery of manga and Joe Sacco comics? -- and some strong quote work from people like Marjane Satrapi. Even an article that at times feels slightly off like this one does can be sort of exciting because it embraces the possibilities of a worldwide comics market where art plays as significant a role as broader commerce.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Target Sponsors Issue of New Yorker

Some Monday mornings you read news that's so perfectly disturbing in that "the world is off but only by 10 percent way" you're not crushed, you just want to go back to sleep until Tuesday. I present to you an entire issue of the foundational American cartoon source The New Yorker sponsored entirely by Target, complete, it seems with illustration-style ads. I know that single-sponsor issues are reasonably common for magazines, and I know the New Yorker works harder than most magazines to protect its "brand," but... oh, I don't know. Good night.
 
posted 2:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: New Crockett Johnson Book

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Some days I think that if some bigwig in art comics were to lose their car keys, they would only have to wait for Egonlabs to post about their location behind the sofa. Through Egon we learn that Front Street Books is set to release an edition of Crockett Johnson's Magic Beach for the Fall book season that will have the Johnson art and original title restored to it. It had been published in the mid-'60s with illustrations by Betty Fraser and titled Castles in the Sand.
 
posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
AJC Article: Wizard Keeps to Story

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on Heroes Con Vs. WizardWorld fiasco of several days ago is worth reading for how curious Wizard comes across in it. This is a pretty frothy feature article on Heroes Con and Wizard comes across as compulsively unable to tell the truth -- kind of like getting busted during a segment on The Dinah Shore Show. Since Heroes con organizer Shelton Drumm isn't holding a grudge, and it's not likely very many people in comics will, I'm not sure why Wizard's people don't just fess up to planning poorly and coming away slightly burned. I know it's hard in comics to ever admit to taking a false step because of the legion of high-verbal-SAT industry-watchers that will pass tut-tut judgment, but when something like this happens sticking to a discredited story, even obliquely, can become an issue of long-term credibility that could eventually drip down to their core fanbase. It's clear now to everybody Wizard planned the event and were prepared to dig in and then changed their minds and released the dates, and then decided for whatever reason to pass over releasing even that information for about a week after the decision was rumored to have been made inside the company. And this seems clear even if they don't want to say so.

If you put this together with pretty legit-sounding rumors that leaked out earlier this year that they were actually feuding with the cartoonist Frank Miller by directing the attention of their magazine elsewhere, a really odd corporate picture begins to develop -- a far cry from my perception of them when I worked in comics full-time as basically harmless worshippers of the bottom line with an unfortunate price guide addiction.
 
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
E&P Readers React to Ted Rall Retraction
Exhibit Featuring Arthur Barton Hits Sydney
Art World Sponsor Praise for Daniel Zezelj
Moniaive Comics Festival Gears Up
Berkeley Breathed Tackles Judith Miller Case
Blab! Art Show Planned
 

 
August 14, 2005


CR Sunday Magazine

So, Are There Any Good Shops Out There Not Located in a Major Urban Center?

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The answers appears to be "Yes, of course there are." Last week I asked CR readers to send me word of good smaller-city and small-town comics shops. It's my belief that running a good small-town store may be even more difficult than competing with other retailer in an urban location. I also think that shops serving smaller communities got the worst of the 1990s market contraction and the brutally stupid tweaks on policy put in place around that time.

I also think that comics pundits, such as they are, get locked into models for shops that are perfect for an urban setting but are impossible for a store serving a smaller audience base.

Here's a list of some stores that are serving their customers well, from the people who recommend them. I have no way of confirming or denying any statement they make, which remain their own and not this site's. They are greatly appreciated.

****

Chris Arrant:

Here's my recommendation for a great small-town comic shop, TBS Comics of Fort Walton.

I live 50 miles from this location, but I visit every other month to get good deals on tpbs and ogns.

*****

imageChris Mautner:

Obviously, the Comic Store in Lancaster is a good bet (28 McGovern Ave, Lancaster; 397-8737; www.comicstorepa.com), though it's gotten so crowded and cramped with pop culture emphera recently that finding a particular book can be difficult. Joe remains extremely nice and helpful though.

Much better organized is Comix Connections (6200 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg; 591-2727). They just moved and I haven't been to their new store, but their past location was well laid out and they had a little of everything (and a heck of a lot of manga), plus friendly service. I see no reason why the new location wouldn't have more of the same.

Also good is Comics and Paperbacks Plus (201 E. Main St., Palmyra; 838-4854). The owner Ralph Watts is a very nice guy, and the store offers some pretty good deals on back issues and trades. I don't get to go often, but I've always had a good experience when I do.

Finally, the place I've been spending most of my time is Sequential Arts Too, namely because it's in my hometown (11 Center Square, Elizabethtown; 361-7198), The shop is very small, so there's not a lot of room for any indie or manga stuff (though I did order a Marc Bell book through him), but again, it's nicely laid out, and very easy to find what you're looking for, plus he's got comfy chairs so you can sit and peruse. It's where I go when I need a DC or Marvel trade, which, these days, seems to be quite often.

*****

Craig Fischer:

I'd like to praise a small-town comic shop that I've only visited once, Mountain Empire Comics in Johnson City, Tennessee (population 55,000).

Recently, I've been in Johnson City a few times on business. About a month ago, I visited downtown Johnson City's Atomik Comics, which has the biggest collection of Silver Age Marvels I've ever seen. But these back issues weren't cheap ("More expensive than heroin!" as Peter Bagge might say), and the store itself was dirty, cluttered, and absolutely devoid of indy titles. So the next time I went to Johnson City, about a week ago, I looked in the Yellow Pages to find another store to visit besides Atomik, and found Mountain Empire.

Mountain Empire is a good shop. It's small but clean, and the person behind the counter was friendly and helpful when I had questions. He spent 5 minutes looking for a couple of issues of JACK STAFF, and when he realized that they'd sold out, he offered to call another Mountain Empire store in Bristol to get them for me. One complaint: I could do without the right-wing talk show played on the store's sound system, though I am glad the volume was turned down low.

The stock was much more diverse than Atomik's. Mountain Empire has a decent selection of manga, old copies of THE COMICS JOURNAL and COMIC BOOK ARTIST, spinner racks full of mainstream and independent TPBs, and boxes of back issues for sale. (There was a small room at the back of the store that sold unwanted back issues for 50 cents apiece.) I bought a pretty copy of THOR #171 (Kirby inked by Everett!), volume 2 of Ariyoshi Kyoko's SWAN, a recent $6.95 Gemstone issue of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES, and Darwyn Cooke's DC SOLO book.

The best thing about my visit? For the above haul, the clerk charged me 20 bucks. Apparently I came on a day when trade paperbacks were discounted by one-third, and back issues were half-price. In addition, the folks at Mountain Empire have a clever way to get rid of crappy back stock -- if you spend $20 or more in a single visit, you get to play the "Dice Game," where you roll four dice and win a free back issue. A wall rack displays the comics you can win, and while I was gunning for either double snake-eyes (THE DAYTONA 500 STORY) or 4 sixes (MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #12, the first appearance of Captain Marvel, cool Gene Colan art), I instead won the first issue of some mid-'90s X-Men spin-off called PRYDE AND WISDOM. Anyone who wants this comic gratis -- you don't even have to roll the dice! -- should contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

It's nice to know that some small towns have stores like Mountain Empire.

*****

David Feld:

Peter Dolan's Main Street Comics in Middletown, NY, is my all-time favorite comics shop. Fantastic service and an unstereotypically friendly, clean and well-lighted store. Alas, I had to move to North Carolina, where I've yet to find a shop remotely close to the caliber.

*****

Jamie Coville:

Comic Cave in Brockville, Ontario, Canada.

Brockville has about 5,000 people. It's an hour away from Kingston which has 100,000+ people (and two comic shops of their own).

Comic Cave is run by Pierre and Jan Sigman. Jan typically runs the cash and talks with everybody. Pierre is there on Wednesday and does all the pull and hold stuff, ordering and everything else. He's also there when he's not working his 2nd job. The store pays for itself but not a lot else.

They specialize in new comics and back issues. They used to be what I called the undiscovered gem in terms of comic book stores for Ontario. They had a large and wicked back issue selection, from Golden age and up. But last time I went there most of it got bought. The "secret" got out and people came running to buy their stuff. They still have plenty of comics, most if it is more modern now but there still is some 60's stuff from non big name publishers there. They also have a number of cool posters and original art on the walls. Occasionally people will want to buy them, but they don't sell them.

For about 6 months I lived in Prescott, a town 15 minutes away. They were my regular comic shop and out of all that I've been to, I got the best service from there. Everything I wanted they got, with one exception. That one exception Pierre immediately called Diamond and discovered Diamond wasn't going to ship the book to Canada for fear of customs. Pierre and Jan are very, very good at customer service and are very friendly.

They also sell Trades, for a long time they had a lot of older trades on the shelves from a previous owner. It took them some convincing but they took a gamble on some newer books, but they did ordered some trades for the rack and are doing well with them now. They also sell a lot of cards and let kids in after hours on certain nights to play. Speaking of kids there are a lot of them in the store. They don't all buy comics but at least they are exposed to them. It's a friendly place for kids to hang out (and they do) and they do check for parental approval for any mature readers books they want to buy.

I should also say they carry a wide variety of comics. Like most stores their bread and butter is superheroes, but they do have a section for indy / fantagraphics like stuff. I've seen them take gambles on small, unknown publishers too.

Anyways, I typically go up to the store maybe 3-4 times a year just to buy something and chat for a while. They are the kind of store that I go out of my way to support.

*****

Joe Vince:

I saw your call for good comic shops in small towns. I recently moved from Mishawaka, Ind., which is just outside of South Bend (and if I'm not mistaken, you're from Indiana, right?), and Buy Me Toys does a great job in that area. The shop is run by the husband and wife team of Kelly and Casey Heying (he's doing the art now for the Oz/Wonderland Chronicles and publishing the series himself with Ben Avery doing the writing).

The store is all about customer service, and the Heyings have made it a point to do a lot to getting the word out about the store. I worked with them on a Free Comic Day promotion with the area newspaper. The couple is also good friends with Greg Horn and Alex Ross, which equates to book signings and appearances from time to time, a rarity in South Bend-Mishawaka.

By and large, the store is pretty mainstream fare, and it's not a store that you MUST visit if you're in town. What makes it unique is the presence and commitment that the Heyings have to getting comics into the hands of people who wouldn't ordinarily read them (library donations, setting up radio remotes for an Alex Ross signing, etc.). It's something I really haven't seen a lot of stores do.

*****

imageColin Blanchette:

I'm sure you already know about Danger Room Comics in Olympia, WA. but it's the only one that I'm aware of that would fit your description. It's not my shop (I go to Zanadu Comics in the U District) but whenever I'm in Olympia, I try to go there. And another point in their favor: some day my wife and I want to move to the Olympia area, and the presence of Danger Room is a real perk. Now I live in Tacoma, with 0 indy-friendly shops (a town with well over 100,000 people).

*****

Matthew Craig:

I suspect your question was really directed at your American readers, but here's a British shop that meets your criteria:

Infinity and Beyond is in Shrewsbury, in the county of Shropshire. Shrewsbury - birthplace of Charles Darwin and comics creators such as Charlie Adlard and myself - has a population of 96.000. There are at least three large schools and colleges in or on the outskirts of the town centre, teaching kids from 11-18.

Infinity and Beyond was established in 1992(ish), when it was called TimeZone, carrying a large range of monthly comics, back issues, and related merchandise. By the latter half of the decade, they had started stocking more and more merchandise, eventually getting rid of much of the back issue stock. The last time I was in there, a year or two back,the comics and trades had been pushed right to the back of the store, in favour of the toys, statues and such. The shop was (and presumably is) extremely well-maintained, and as I recall, if you wanted to order something in, or set up a standing order or mail-order subscription, the owners and staff were more than happy to help.

I&B is pretty much the only real pace to buy comics - as in US comics - in Shrewsbury. The nearest comic shop to I&B is thirty miles to the east, in the city of Wolverhampton.

There's a big hole in the comincs landscape in that part of the country, and only I&B comes close to filling it.

*****

Pam Noles:

The Fantasy Factory in Lakeland, FL (population around 75,000/80,000) is a good store. Despite the fact that they don't have a website.

*****

imageKevin Melrose:

Despite having a really bad name, Universe of Super-Heroes in Athens, Ohio, is a nice, spacious store with a friendly, knowledgeable staff and a better-than-average selection of comics, graphic novels and the like.

*****

Steven Rowe:

Greenville, North Carolina (population 60,000) is a college town, so may not fit your list.

The comic shop there for over 25 years is the Nostalgia Newstand. Great place to get comics -- lots of alternative comics.

*****

Shad Petosky:

Muse Comics in Missoula, Montana (pictured at top from their web site' photo gallery) is the best example of a great small-town comic book store. I grew up in Kalispell, Montana, and the only place to get comics was to special order them in the back of the hobby store or to find T&D Comics, a sign-less store run out of a guy's garage in a residential area. There were also two pawn shops that became half-stores during the early 90s boom.

When I visited Muse on the way back to the homestead from Minneapolis last summer, I was SHOCKED. It is on par with the best big city shops. (and I've been to a lot of 'em) They have a graphic novel focus, with multiples of just about everything, on well-painted and organized shelving. The books with prominent placing were mostly indy and smaller-press works.

They do have the subsidizing gaming section, which comprises about 1/5 of the store and is located near the back. At the far back of the store is a very clean cafe type area, with an original comic art gallery.

The clerk working on the day I was there seemed more interested in games, but when I asked him for Montanan created mini-comics, he had no problem naming off a few people and pointing me to the Muse's own mini-comic anthology.

*****

My sincere thanks to all who participated. Anything to add? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Go, Look: Ganges #1 Preview

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From the book Ganges #1, to be published as part of that Fantagraphics/Coconino Ignatz line of deluxe-production comics we first talked about back in June. It's no secret I think Huizenga is perhaps the most interesting cartoonist to come around in years and years. The line is coming out in groups of three. I think Huizenga's threesome will include a book from Lorenzo Mattotti.


Go, Read: Williams on Alan Moore

I'm not familiar enough in academic treatments of superheroes to know if Kristian Williams' essay Nonlinear Narrative and Sequential Art: Alan Moore's Superhero Deconstruction is a good or bad example of the species. But it is a concise argument about Moore's view on superheroes which ties in his work on Rob Liefeld's properties to the more frequently discussed Watchmen, so some of you may find it extremely valuable.


Happy 55th Birthday, Gary Larson!

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August 13, 2005


CR Week In Review

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Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, August 6 to August 12, 2005:

1. Chit Swe receives a one-month sentence in Burma.

2. Cartoonist Ted Rall retracts a cartoon (seen in part above) that was based on asserted facts for which he used unreliable sourcing.

3. Brian Hibbs receives word that the new judge presiding over the retailer class action suit against Marvel has cleared the way for the stores affected to receive their mediated settlement in the form of credits, probably Thanksgiving.

Winners of the Week
Potentially, casual and bargain-hunting manga fans in Great Britain: with Gollancz releasing its first books will enjoy the cheaper option of a domestic publisher for some popular titles.

Loser of the Week
WizardWorld Entertainment, as reports of a lackluster Chicago bubble to the surface, sore feet on the march to pop culture convention dominance.

Quote of the Week

"Nothing is more dejecting, depressing, and overwhelmingly spiritually crushing than the palpable presence of all your life mistakes awakening you from a nap you hadn't planned on taking.'" -- Chris Ware, in a recent ACME.
 
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August 12, 2005


Brian Hibbs: New Judge Signs Off

Brian Hibbs vigorously reports final movements in the class-action lawsuit he led against Marvel regarding late-shipping books. The agreed-to settlement in the form of credit had glitched when the original judge called a process do-over that neither side wanted.
 
posted 8:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Quick Return to Those New Stores

If you're interested in the future of comics retail, and of course you are, it's worth noting that both comic shops talked about here a few days ago, Riot Comics and Culture in Camp Hill and Rocketship in Brooklyn, are up and running. You can click through the pictures to their blogs, where you can see opening day excitement and the openings themselves played out in very different ways.

Rocketship's Exterior

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Riot's Interior

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Keiji Nakazawa Returns to Back Gate

Here's an interesting little feature story about the author of the lightly fictionalized nuclear bomb survivor memoir Barefoot Gen retracing his steps in Hiroshima, particularly as his trip pertains seeing the piece of gate that saved his life. There's an odd thread at the Comics Journal messageboard about whether or not the presentational quirks of Barefoot Gen undermine the story -- I've never even thought about it -- but the power of Keiji Nakazawa's experience just about kills me in any form. The interview he did in the Comics Journal magazine a couple years back, when he talked about carrying the remains of a relative around in a bucket, makes me shudder just thinking about it.
 
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Zack Soto’s Writing Process

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Here's a lesson in process from the cartoonist Zack Soto; who doesn't like a look at a cartoonist's process?
 
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Ted Rall Issues Retraction of Cartoon

I still think it's odd Rall's use of some logically discredited figures was a story the first time around, although this time through it makes sense.
 
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Profile of Cartoonist Yoshinori Kobayashi

I found this profile of stridently nationalistic cartoonist Yoshinori Kobayashi kind of interesting for both the cultural weight that's assumed for him as a cartoonist and, once again, the issue of World War II service and potential atrocities as a lightning rod between asian cultures.

 
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Local Radio Host Profile: Scott Hinze

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Enzo Boldoni’s Remains Confirmed

This story is a follow up on a journalist's death reported back in 2004; Boldoni wrote a bit about comics and translated Doonesbury into Italian.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Douglas Wolk on Finder
Apparently, Girls Buy Manga
Comics Probably Aren't For Kids
New Comics Project Profile: Capote
Local Cartoonist Profile: Mike Collins
Wendy Kelman to Head Geppi Museum
They Wouldn't Let Us Read Them There
Carl Icahn Eyes Time Warner, Licks Lips
Happy 1st Birthday, Big Time Attic Studio

 

 
August 11, 2005


Mar Amongo, 1936-2005

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Gerry Alanguilan is reporting at his Komikero Comics Journal site that artist Mar Amongo passed away on Wednesday morning. He was 68 years old. According to Alanguilan's report, Amongo was a student of Nestor Redondo and contributed to several publications in his home country and a few short stories in American anthologies during the early 1980s like Weird War Tales and GI Combat. After spending time in the Middle East, Amongo returned home where he painted and worked on religious books such as a graphic novel version of Paul Twitchell's popular but controversial book The Tiger's Fang.

Alanguilan visited the artist in 2004 and wrote about it here.
 
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Hiatus + Lost Domain Name + Time =

According to this post picked up by a couple of manga-centric sites, Raijin Comics has gone from lying really still with its eyes closed to going ahead and formally passing over to the other side. Probably everyone already knew this but me.
 
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Conversational Euro-Comics

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Chit Swe Gets One Month In Prison

It looks like cartoonist Chit Swe was charged with some sort of combination of resisting orders and holding an illegal meeting and gets a month in jail out of it. Those two activities listed as crimes goes to show you how awful repression is in Burma right now. That sounds like a Monday morning at the office to me. There is still some question over whether or not the political subtext of Swe's cartoons played a role in being singled out.
 
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Tsuge Scanlation Made Available

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I first saw the link to a pair of Yoshiharo Tsuge stories through Jog the Blog, and you should go click on them through that blog as well. I haven't looked at this stuff except to grab this image -- to be honest, I know nothing about the ethics, mechanics even history of scanlation -- but I thought you might want to know about it if you're a bit more with it than I am.
 
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Missed It: CBG’s Sales Analysis

John Jackson Miller promises a more aggressive tracking of sales at Comics Buyer's Guide, which is nice because I think he's been doing similar reports for ten years now. With retailers and industry watcher starting to circle around the fact that the direct market seems in the middle of a strong July-September period, it's interesting to note the overall growth in the market the first half of this year and where it's come from: trades, mostly, although comics incrementally improved, too.

I'm probably more interested in the first half numbers than the comparative 2004/2005 monthlies. Even though the number of weeks may match up, the way the market is focused on hits right now a slightly different emphasis from one publisher can really change things between any two different months. I'm also not totally convinced the market adheres to the same cycles month in and month out it did ten years ago, when retailers would stick their thumbs in their suspenders and lecture me about the seasonal changes, but I could be completely wrong about that. Anyway, a number of retailers have argued in my direction that as dubious as one might want to be about all of these stunt titles and line-wide-ramification miniseries, the modest growth in retail numbers does seem to have something to do with content, and I think CBG's numbers probably bear that out.
 
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Go, Look: Ho Che Anderson Site

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“Hello, I’m Dr. Fauntleroy Thunderlips”

Neil Gaiman calls our attention to this worthy series of charity auctions, which includes the naming rights to a character in the forthcoming Omega the Unknown -- which was created in 1975 by Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes -- mini-series to be written by Jonathan Lethem. I think they make you use a real name, as well they should.
 
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Quick hits
Trudeau to Address Sunday Editors
Ellis/Weston/Martin Book Wins Award
Guess Earl's Weight in Peanuts
Gallo Honored By Diocese of Brooklyn
Cagle: How to Get Published in Europe
 

 
August 10, 2005


DreamWave’s New Owner, Re-Launch

I've been criminally lax about covering the company Dreamwave, frankly because the generally awful comics and the despicable business practices during its decline so depressed the shit out of me to the extent that I just wanted it to go away. I only recently started piecing some of the news together for a possible feature -- so I have no excuses; I suck. Anyway, it looks like the available properties and company elements were bought at bankruptcy auction by someone named Christian Dery, who announced via press release there will be a relaunch of the companies and the titles included. Maybe some new ones, too. Dery describes himself in his press release as an entrepreneur, although that's really a step above describing yourself as a maverick or as a visionary, and you sort of automatically become one when you make a purchase of assets at auction. So I'm not sure how descriptive it is. A google search reveals a photographer and an aeronautics company officer with that name; interviews at the mainstream comics-focused sites are likely.
 
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Euro-Publishers May End Up In Play

imageIf I'm reading this correctly, the outcome of a corporate takeover battle in Europe could lead to Casterman and Fluide Glacial being among those properties sold off, with all the drama that comes with it. This could even potentially lead to further consolidation in the French-language market.
 
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It’s a Graphic Novel Bonanza

imageI'm not certain if we already knew this or not, but Comixpedia points out that Derek Kirk Kim is among those creators preparing a graphic novel for Mark Siegel's First Second imprint. I think I also remember hearing, and I'm not certain where, that the 2004 American comics award darling (for his very endearing Same Difference and Other Stories) is working on a project for something at Vertigo, but I could be totally hallucinating that. Wait, no, he mentions that on the front page of his site. It's with Jesse Hamm and has been moved back to 2006. I like those wallets, btw. Very cute.
 
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WizardWorld Chicago Hits 56,000

Securing its place as American Pop Culture Con #2, Wizard bumped up a little bit with its 2005 show from 54,000 plus to 56,000 says ICv2.com. It's unclear from this article if Preview Night figures were counted. I believe Wizard Entertainment already counts multiple-day passes as an attendee for each day, and since the supposedy poorly attended Preview Night was new, this could represent a less impressive bump or even a slight overall decline. Also, the coup of Frank Miller and Jim Lee appearing together after an extended and obvious period of creator/publicity vehicle detente doesn't seem to have paid off with a bump in attendance their combined comic book star wattage might dictate.
 
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Mad Doubles Freelance Opportunities

Two questions. Question one: don't most of us stop regularly reading Mad Magazine at the age they now consider us ready to begin reading Mad Magazine? A whole generation may miss out on the experience of seeing a strangely familiar movie in their mid-20s and saying, "Oh yeah, I read the Mad Magazine parody in the second grade." Question two: where's the "classic" in that description of Mad Classic? That sounds more like Mad: Pertinent Re-Runs. Although the chance to get paid twice for the same work is probably even better than a whole new magazine in which to place material. It's also sort of weird to read a press release were the concept of branding is touted as much as any sort of demand being met or markets opened by the new product. Although maybe that's standard now.
 
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Quick hits
Local Cartoonist Profile: Jamie Cosley
Make Your Own Comic Strips
The Comic Strip As Comfort Food
Johnston, Niece Support Special Community
Missed It: Seth Profile Part of Paper's Coverage
Japan Touts Its Manga-Driven Pop Culture
Boondocks Angers Religious Right
 

 
August 9, 2005


Gollancz Manga Releases First Books

imageAccording to this Times article that bites off a bit more than it can chew, it loks like Gollancz has released its first manga titles in partnership with Viz. Those titles released August 1 are Yu-Gi-Oh!, Fushigi Yugi, Dragon Ball, and Case Closed.

What I still don't understand is how this publishing endeavor will work in terms of English-language material available in the country's comic book shops and through on-line sites like Amazon UK. I don't recall hearing about a big purge of translated manga in the UK, but I also can't imagine Gollancz doing anything with British editions of manga if manga fans have already purchased multiple volumes of each series in their North American form.

Simon Hogg makes a good case for price points
 
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Newark Paper’s Comic Strip Quest

Did your parents ever freak out about bills and call you and your siblings into the dining room table where they took out their checkbooks and the bills folder and explained the family finances to everyone in slow, excruciating detail? That's sort of what's happening at the Newark Star-Ledger, who are taking the usually controversial period of evaluating the comic strips page and walking their readership through the process with feature articles to spotlight various issues along the way. Here's a nice, long piece about legacy strips.

imageWhile we're on the subject of comic strips, I'd like to reiterate The Official CR Fall Comic Strip Proposal to all strip-page editors out there. Pick the strip you hate the most, replace it with the Calvin and Hobbes re-run package, and then replace Calvin and Hobbes with Franklin Fibbs come January. Franklin Fibbs reminds me of Mutts in that it has a really unique rhythm to it that I think audiences will appreciate, but at the same time it's just offbeat enough that I don't think it will ever gain a mass audience without some nurturing along the way.
 
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Rall Strip: Iraq Dead Undercounted

More than the story itself, I'm sort of interested that Ted Rall picking up on a story is worthy of its own story. I guess it could be "comics in the news," but there's also seems to be some sort of implicit judgment on what Rall picking up on a story means, even if I can't tell which way they're leaning.
 
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Go, Read: Dan Clowes Interview

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Because of the specific nature of the article being tied into Clowes' next movie and the article's recurring focus, there's stuff in here I hadn't heard about before. I like how upfront Clowes is about the value of school as a place to find fellow travelers.
 
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Go, Read: BT’s Retailing Snapshot 2

This week's episode of "The Basement Tapes" may be the best yet run: the second half of a dissection of the state of retailing from the point of view of a pair of comics writers. The best moment is Matt Fraction's description of how Diamond has dealt with retailer malfeasance in the past: basically by changing the system so that everyone suffers. If true, this is incredibly sad, funny, and really, really needs to be replaced by a system in which Diamond enforces policies by singling out those who violate them. It's not 1988; there's not a world of competition willing to swoop in if Diamond is mean for a month-long period to someone who deserves it. What good is a pseudo-monopoly if you don't get the positives of one?

Although I think a lot of their observations have value, my personal opinion is that I'm not sure Fraction and Joe Casey go far enough in their criticism of the larger publishing companies' status quo treatment of the comic shop retailing industry. Casey mentions I think rightfully so that a retailer's orientation should be to make money from the publishers; what rarely gets discussed is how this can get scotched because publishers don't see retailers as an avenue for profits to be maximized over the long term.

It would be interesting to see where the direct market stood if the top twenty publishing companies took a two year pledge to solicit only when the entire book was completed, to schedule books in the course of a month so that no week was flooded with overlapping product from a single publisher, and to limit additional titles according to the dictates of overall market growth. In other words, if every company treated the direct market as a platform to be maximized as opposed to a system that needs to adjust to whatever expression of contempt a company decides to show for it. Although you can say this kind of reform will never take place, it's worth noting that in one way it already does happen: severe market blows almost always lead to enforced discipline at comics companies that allow them to better negotiate the next upswing. The problem is when companies get into the upswing, many start acting like an abusive drunk slots winner at Vegas all over again.
 
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Kazu Kibuishi Projects to Scholastic

The Beat has posted a press release from Scholastic about Kazu Kibiushi placing two books with their comics imprint. This makes me think two things. First, I guess I'm not on Scholastic's PR list. Second, and much more importantly, I note this was an agented deal. I know of at least two probable six-figure deals by largely unknown cartoonists that were also deals involving agents. If you are a cartoonist with a saleable story to tell (particularly personal memoir tying into a social issue or a marketable fantasy), it probably behooves you to get a proposal together just like any other author and get it out there. Although if you don't have the dedication to find out how, perhaps it's best you don't bother.
 
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France Got The Bomb, But That’s Okay

The mainstream-oriented BD site ActuaBD.com is running articles here and here with more to come about the effects of the nuclear bomb on comics stories in the 60 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If anyone is looking for a long feature article to do, that might be a good one.
 
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Quick hits
Spotlight on "Yuri Manga" at AfterEllen.com
Local Graphic Novelist Profile: Nicholas Di Genova
Paul Buhle: Emma Goldman Book Next
Fotonovelas Removed From Denver Library
Chinese Art Show Promotes Local Cartoonists
SPJ Slams Controversial Editorial Cartoon
 

 
August 8, 2005


WW Chicago Ends; Booze-Poisoned Mainstream Comics America Slinks Home

The nation's second-biggest comics convention has ended, with DC and Marvel acting out a really nerdy episode of Spy Vs. Spy in terms of publicity at their various themed panels. By not paying attention to the convention and seeing what I heard about anyway (not a scientific method, but who can resist harnassing the power of laziness?), Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark taking over for a quality run by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev on Daredevil seems to be one item of news that people have taken a fancy to. Another may be that artists Michael Turner, Leinil Francis Yu, and Joe Madrureira along with writer Jeph Loeb will each be going "exclusive" with Marvel Comics, a term that now means "a period of time not doing work for the Direct Competition unless I'm already contracted to do it." The general trend to note is that both companies are working overtime to tie their "event" series into tweaks of the regular monthly comics, I'd say DC more than Marvel. In actual news, the CBLDF raised much-needed funds for its Fall fight in the Gordon Lee case. The collective memory entry on the convention can be found here, and should swell up over the next couple of days. Both Newsarama and The Pulse covered the panels; The Beat covered the floor and the after-panels.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Fruits Basket Continues to Dominate

imageThe good folks at ICv2.com provide a nice summary of all the news one can glean from a look at the recent bookstore numbers for manga, concentrating on which properties and which companies are fighting it out in the top 10 and a creep up the charts for V For Vendetta no doubt tied into the movie. I find more encouraging that a volume of the sports manga Girl Got Game has creeped into the top 15, although like the success of most American sports in their 1950s heyday, the cross-dressing element of the manga has probably played a vital role in its chart presence. All kidding aside, the last time a good cross-dressing sports story hit America (no, Juwanna Mann and Ladybugs don't count), Gabe Kaplan had his name above the title.
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
First Second Line Launches Blog

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Mark Siegel's First Second graphic novel line has launched its blog, where one may read news of next year's six-book launch and, it looks like, occasional cartoons by Siegel himself.

In other book market publishing news, Seattle newspaper the Post-Intelligencer was among many NW papers that picked up on this wire story about publisher Fantagraphics' efforts with the new Dennis the Menace the volumes.
 
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Page 45’s Mark Simpson Passes Away

According to a letter received and published by Neil Gaiman on his web journal, Mark Simpson, co-owner of the influential Page 45 comics retailer in Nottingham, UK, passed away July 31 after a sudden illness. Page 45 is a much-lauded store in terms of diversity of material and format; Gaiman refers to it in a note accompanying the letter as "the best graphic novel shop I've ever been to."
 
posted 7:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Bone Game Reviewed

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This lengthy review of the Bone game has a lot of art in it, which almost justifies it as a comics article. I'm also interested in the business model, which seems to me close enough to the ground in terms of investment and development time, and perhaps more focused on gameplay as opposed to the license, that a wider range of comics properties might be affected.
 
posted 6:57 am PST | Permalink
 

 
DC Area Comics Shops Booming?

I found this local business article interesting because of the reasons given for the surge in business, which sound unadorned and straight from the retailers' mouths. The national picture tells a less decisive story, but it's probably true that some stores and some regions are doing very well.
 
posted 6:53 am PST | Permalink
 

 
X-mas in August: Free Mini-Comic

I found a little box full of unsent Christmas-related mini-comics I made for the last holiday. For reasons that will be obvious to anyone who receives one, I can't sell them, but throwing them away seems a waste. So if anyone fancies a free mini-comic, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I'll send one to you.

UPDATE: As of 8:11 AM MT, they are all gone. I will try and do more freebies in the future!
 
posted 1:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Daniel Raeburn on Joe Sacco's War's End
Trudeau's Mr. Butts Helps Santa Monica Effort
1943: Military Cartoon Scoops World Press
SICAF Begins in Seoul on Thursday
Mostafa Hussein Wins Egyptian Arts Award
Untold Tales of the Superbaby
 

 
August 7, 2005


CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Michael Kupperman

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Help Me Find Good Small-Town Comic Book Shops

I would be very interested in drawing attention to any good comic book shops out there that happen to exist in small towns. I can rattle off about three dozen great stores, but they all seem to be in humongous cities. I'm doubly interested in seeing if some of the better smaller community comic book shops survived the 1990s.

So if you know any great comic book shops that are in cities with fewer than 100,000 people, please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) so I can talk to them and bring some attention to them at the site.

A couple of qualifiers:

1. I'm not as interested in towns that border big cities as I am in towns that stand alone.

2. A good shop doesn't have to suit my taste in comics. It has to reasonably try and meet its customers' needs.

As I explain here, my standards for comic shops are a Comfortable Shopping Experience, Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff, Willingness to Order For or Refer Customers, and, if possible, Something Special or Noteworthy About the Store -- something that would make it worth a visit if I were visiting from out of town.

So brag on your comic shop if you have a good one and you're not in a big metropolis. I'd love to hear about it, and I'll run your comments next Sunday.

Go, Read: Wimbledon Green Preview

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It looks like you can vote for Seth's book, too.

Go, Read: On-Line Comics Vs. Printed Comics

Todd Allen has made his book available on-line; I cannot at this time recommend it based on content, as I haven't read a single word. But it's all there, so if you're interested in this subject I assume you wouldn't want to wait for me to get to it.
 
posted 3:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
August 6, 2005


CR Week In Review

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Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, July 30 to August 5, 2005:

1. King Features negotiates first week of letters and pay-service subscriptions after dropping daily updates from KingFeatures.com, signaling a potential colossal shift in policy at newspaper strip syndicates.

2. Wizard Entertainment head honcho Gareb Shamus confirms will be no Atlanta WizardWorld '06 on dates used by Heroes Con in Charlotte, nearly a full week after rumors say the decision became known in-house.

3. Steve Benson moves to Creators Syndicate.

Winners of the Week
Fans of coming attractions-type news in comics, as WizardWorld Chicago is basically the old Amazing Heroes Preview Special come to life, with a dealers' room attached.

Loser of the Week
The court that has to handle the Get Fuzzy lawsuit, which sounds sillier with every feature article, if it gets that far.

Quote of the Week
"...No matter how rough the moment is, my experience is when you get to a certain point, it's not exactly nostalgia or looking at it through rose colored glasses or glossing over the negative parts. But you can kind of see things with a little bit less of the emotional kind of thinking and see the bigger picture of how these things relate to all these other events in your life." -- John Porcellino at Newsarama.

part of a Steve Benson cartoon I thought would look cool close up
 
posted 2:34 am PST | Permalink
 

 
August 5, 2005


WizardWorld Chicago Is Happening Now

Much of the American mainstream comic book industry and a small number of members of other facets will be within helicoptering distance of Chicago at this weekend's WizardWorld convention in Rosemont, Illinois.

There are sure to be 1800 announcements about Big Company publishing news -- who's doing what to whom according to the dictates of whozits in various manufactured sell-outs from now until Christmas. Anything major I will cover here by Monday at the latest by snottily piggybacking on the efforts of my more diligent peers. I recommend keeping your browser keyed to Jen Contino's Army at The Pulse and Matt Brady at Newsarama if you can't wait to hear me blather or have a huge appetite for this stuff.

As this weekend's con takes place on the set of the City of Domes (a series of connected hotels and event halls), far, far away from Chicago proper, it's probably the closest thing the mainstream comics crowd experiences to the summer camp feel of Small Press Expo. If you are interested in finding out about the after hours stuff, I'm sure Heidi MacDonald at The Beat will have this angle covered, and then tell us what it all meant on a weekday soon after.

Me, I'll be here in New Mexico watching a Star Trek: Hidden Frontier marathon.
 
posted 12:04 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Superhero Stamp Mania

imageThis site and a related Delphi Forum are reporting that a sheet of DC superhero stamps will be available in 2006, with a Marvel sheet due in '07. I had a hard time understanding the e-mails I was sent this morning on the subject, and couldn't really follow a citation route from the site that's saying this, so who the heck knows? Me, I'm a big fan of the Robert Penn Warren stamps. Everyone should All The King's Men. It's beautifully written (Warren was a poet; it shows), and I thought the book was about 25 times better than a lot of books from that era with similar reputations.
 
posted 11:56 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Quills Are Kind of Weird

imageGraphic Novel division nominees for The Quill Awards administered by Publisher's Weekly and to be given out on NBC television include works from Harvey Pekar, Jeff Smith, Art Spiegelman, Neil Gaiman and Marjane Satrapi.

As generally strong as the division turned out (Luis from Sesame Street could maybe step in without my complaining, but still, that's as high-quality as any similar comics industry awards category if not slightly better), the Quills look odd to my non-book industry eyes in that they seem to indiscriminately feature formats, genres, and entire forms as categories. Maybe that's the way the book trade works, I don't know.

As far as other commentary, I'm also not entirely sure if Jeff Smith's nomination for The Complete Bone is worth noting given that it was a self-published work in a sea of big-company works -- meaning perhaps that Smith and Vijaya Iyer have done a great job exposing that book to bookbuyers and librarians. I may not be the best judge of what's a big company and what's a small company, though, and the deal with Scholastic has certainly given Smith's work a higher profile that may have benefited this work. It's also nice to see the New Yorker compilation get its due in the humor category, where along with a Fantagraphics Peanuts volume it is likely to be slaughtered by the Jon Stewart juggernaut. The New Yorker book may be the best collection of the last few years that nobody in comics seems to have purchased or talked about.
 
posted 7:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jay Stephens Launches On-Line Effort

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I believe this makes Jay Stephens the first name cartoonist to make use of the Webcomics Nation vehicle for this kind of solo announcement, but even if it isn't, Stephens definitely has enough work scattered here and there that a single home for it on-line could have sustained entertainment value.
 
posted 7:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Lest we Forget, This Is Still Really Cool

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The grand opening of the Center for Cartoon Studies is planned September 10th in White River Junction, Vermont.

 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
WizardWorld Chicago Pros Back CBLDF

imageIn terms of recent comics-observing thrills, there's nothing more satisfying than seeing the mainstream portion of the American comic book industry swing towards greater support of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It's an important time for the Fund as they settle into new offices in New York City while managing the very important Gordon Lee case in Georgia. A collapse in fundraising momentum could slow the Fund's activity level until energy was expended to catch up again, and everyone interested in the continued dissemination of comic books in North America could potentially suffer for a CBLDF that had to focus extra effort into that area when there's so much other work to be done.

I periodically ask you consider joining the CBLDF as a member, and do so again today. It is the cost of approximately one softcover graphic novel plus one volume of manga. In addition, or even if you pass, please consider making the CBLDF booth an early stop in your big-convention visits, including this weekend's Wizard fest in Chicago. They always have something worth buying or a promotion worth buying into.

I remember attending with a family member either the last independent Chicago show or the first Wizard one and stopping for a soda at a table where also sat former CBLDF Executive Director Susan Alston and the gentleman after whom the lead character in Spawn was named. After a long conversation about general free speech issues of the day, our tablemates left. My brother remarked dryly, "It's good when the superheroes are in full support of the First Amendment."

Yes, it is.

I believe this is an old membership card.
 
posted 6:49 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Steve Benson on Why He Went to Creators
Comics Shows Price of Prison Industry
Comics Explain Horrible-Sounding Code
Book Covers On-Line Comics Business Models
 

 
August 4, 2005


The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

King Features Syndicate makes a dramatic change in how they approach posting comic strips on-line.
 
posted 1:17 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Air Pirates Comics

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Issue #2 begins here.
 
posted 1:13 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Political Analysis of Liberality For All

Most comics these days are too calculated or driven by a specific artist's set of desires or in some cases both to be of much value when looking for the kind of unintended messages that usually come bubbling out of crude and tossed-off art. This Liberality For All funnybook seems to be something of an exception.

thanks, Robert Boyd
 
posted 1:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: My Grandmother’s Funeral

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It's rare when a cartoonist puts a work in progress up, let alone for the sake of feedback, so I wanted to note it here. Following the story is a piece on process that also might be of some interest.
 
posted 1:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Interview With ICE Kunion Personnel

I'm not sure how much of this may be old news to readers more heavily invested in these kinds of comics, but I found the first part of this interview with representative from the new Korean comics consortium intriguing enough I was frustrated that at the time I accessed it early in the morning I couldn't get the second.
 
posted 1:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
“I Was Diagnosed With Being Screwed”

imageThe thought is lovely, of course. And "I'm wearing it in support of older cartoonists who have had a difficult time affording retirement" or some similar statement isn't a bad one to put out there if asked, as opposed to something like "I really support the eating of cheese" or "Slot machines at horsetracks NOW" or whatever.

Still, I always thought the public display of allegience and support to just about any cause through these bracelet thingees was kind of a weird place to go with the idea as originally conceived. In this case, making the economic hardship of older creators something akin to a disease to be endured, even by accident, seems to me to absolve various companies and officers of those companies of their huge and depressingly frequent role in perpetuating that hardship. Is there a bracelet for repeated blows to the head, or do we just assume the proper thing is to not let people do that?
 
posted 1:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Cartoonist Draw-Offs Distinguish Giant Robot
Missed It: Phoebe Gloeckner on Studio 360
Different Primary Vocation Cartoonist Profile: Jorge Cham
Hometown Executive Profile: Dan Buckley
Jan Eliot Wins University of Oregon Award
Humor Can Be Funny! Back in Print
 

 
August 3, 2005


Conversational Euro-Comics

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posted 12:13 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Feature Relates to Get Fuzzy Lawsuit

This feature on Boston-area sportscaster Bob Lobel puts his recent lawsuit over a crack in Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy in some context. I'm always confused by this kind of thing. If a particular source of distress for a well-known figure comes from trying to leave behind a specific characterization that has come to haunt that person, isn't that an admission that such a portrayal has reached a level of public currency that should make it fair game for any satirist, including a cartoonist like Conley?
 
posted 6:54 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Wheeler’s Photo/Art Gallery

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The most fun I've had looking at a comics site in weeks is the time I spent browsing this art gallery that takes special care to show photos of the artist when it can, which I discovered through the consistently rewarding Drawn! blog, as one of their members found it through Mike Lynch. There are four or five cartoonists on here I've never seen before, and more representative photos of some I had seen in the past.

That's Abner Dean, by the way.
 
posted 6:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Japan Group Nixes “Distortion” Cartoon

In the latest thrust and parry in a long-running battle about the proper interpretation of contentious moments in recent Asian history, a Japanese group has refused a Korean company's cartoon ad castigating Japanese textbooks for historical inaccuracies.
 
posted 6:49 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Cromartie Still Plans To Sue

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North American baseball player turned Japanese-league legend Warren Cromartie will not seek to bar the release of a live-action movie based on the Cromartie High School manga by Eiji Nonaka. However, Cromartie plans to continue to pursue legal action to get his name off the property.

In the farcical Cromartie High School, released in this country as both manga and anime by ADV, the high school most of the main bizarre tough-guy characters inhabit is named after Cromartie. Rival high schools in the manga are named for other foreign-born baseball players, notably Randy Bass and Orestes Destrade.
 
posted 6:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Every Hire Old is New Again

I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that newly named vice-president of business development Jeff Trojan is one of the folks who was working the floor with DC in San Diego and thus the announcement is something of a foregone conclusion. Also, to the surprise of absolutely no one in the entire universe, Marvel extends mainstream writer and American comic sales chart juggernaut Brian Bendis' exclusive arrangement with the company.
 
posted 6:37 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Chatty: S. Salazar, D. Tamblyn, J. Turner

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I'm pulling this out of the "Quick Hits" section just for the excuse to run a piece of Souther Salazar art. The Diana Tamblyn piece is from the increasingly prolific Jamie Coville, and after the unique experience of Nil, all eyes are on James Turner for the librarian-themed follow-up.
 
posted 6:33 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Watching In The Realms of the Unreal

imageNow that Jessica Yu's generally well-received documentary on the reclusive but prolific artist and writer Henry Darger is in rotation on PBS stations, I have to admit how much it made me think of comics, and not just because some of what Darger did blended art and writing in a RC Harvey-approved way. More than any formal issue, the shape and feel of Darger's general fantasy, marked by the limits of his perspective on how the universe works in a very concrete way, made me think of Jack Katz's similarly odd creation myth First Kingdom. From Katz I began thinking about the entirety of the overground turned independent comics movement of the late 1970s and 1980s while watching Yu's movie.

From where I stood as a young reader back then, it seemed that a big part of all the comics at the time was an underlying notion that each cartoonist had deep within them a massive world, an epic story that was all theirs, and given the chance to express it they would unveil these worlds for our benefit and never create anything else as important or grand. You know what I mean? One creator, one world, one story, one impressive vehicle... I miss the obsessive purity that seemed to come with that, particularly in a day when comics aimed at a similar audience feel mixed and matched out of some passed-around duffel bag of movie-ready high concepts.
 
posted 6:24 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Atomika Leaves Speakeasy for Self-Publishing
105,000 People in Attendance at CCI
Wizard Profiled by New York Times
Sequential Tart's Fifty Must-Have GNs
Local Idea Man Profile: Lloyd DeRamus
Bookslut Goes to Comic-Con International
 

 
August 2, 2005


Shamus: No Atlanta WizardWorld ‘06

WizardWorld calls a prompt and immediate press conference to fully explain their decision not to show in Atlanta in 2006 and goes deep into their thinking behind selecting that date in the first place. Okay, actually Wizard Entertainment's Gareb Shamus lets the leaked and patched together news be confirmed in comments in an on-line interview someplace, about a week to ten days after support for the same-date-in-'06 Heroes Con made it clear that a better date should probably be explored. If multiple whispers are true, this decision was made almost a week ago. God knows why the delay and inability to answer questions. Good riddance to a stupid story, and congratulations to Heroes Con for engendering such a show of support.
 
posted 5:52 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Steve Benson Moving to Creators

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I'm not sure it's enough to call it a trend, but it's now definitely something to watch for: Steve Benson makes the third major-name editorial cartoonist to switch syndicates in recent months, after Ann Telnaes and Jim Morin. It's also worth noting that Creators is building a nice stable of the more provocative editorial cartoonists.
 
posted 5:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bugpowder’s Caption ‘05 Link Round-Up

Bugpowder's blog is rolling out links to Caption '05 reports, with entries here, here, here, here, here and here.
 
posted 5:41 am PST | Permalink
 

 
24-Hour Comics Day Moves to Fall in ‘06

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According to this blog entry, the 24-Hour Comics Day promotion/event/happening will move to October 7th from its usual April slot, embracing a generally more advantageous place on the calendar.
 
posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Wm Messner-Loebs Auction to Chicago

Clifford Meth's most recent column as of this date contains updates on both an auction and a prose work done on behalf of artist William Messner-Loebs. The auction had originally been planned for San Diego.
 
posted 5:22 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More on Jerry Marcus’ Passing

With news of his passing on July 22 making its way onto the Internet via a local newspaper article, panel cartoonist Jerry Marcus is remembered by his syndicate, his industry's publication of record, and even comics news blog The Great Curve.
 
posted 5:17 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Chatty-Chat: Robinson, Davis, Ennis, Ricky Linderman
It's FMA's World; We Only Read About It (8/1)
New Australian Comics Publisher Gears Up
Jim Morin Joins Ranks of Protestors
Wiley Miller Spells Out Reprint Rights
This is Either Kind of Great or Really Horrible
NY Daily News: Blondie Love
Portrait of a Local Manga Reader
 

 
August 1, 2005


Jerry Marcus, 1924-2005

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This newspaper article indicates the cartoonist Jerry Marcus has passed away. The Brooklyn-born Marcus had cartoons appear in any number of magazines including the New Yorker and did a great deal of advertising work as well. He may be best known for his panel cartoon Trudy, a suburban humor strip. Collections of that work include Trudy, Hang In There, Trudy, and We Love You Trudy. Marcus was a graduate of the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, and became a member of the Screen Actors Guild in 1970 with his first commercial. His Lambiek entry is here.

A longtime resident of Ridgefield, Connecticut, Marcus is survived by two daughters, two sons, and three grandchildren.
 
posted 9:48 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Robert Boyd on Pay For Play

Robert Boyd on comics and pay for play, a subject this industry veteran knows pretty darn well.
 
posted 9:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Levitz: We’re Doing Just Great, Thanks

imageIt may just be the Monday morning blues, but I didn't get much of anything useful out of the yearly lengthy ICv2.com interview with DC executive Paul Levitz. The marketing department reorganization details here are all pretty old hat, although Levitz hints at forthcoming announcements. Mostly there seems to be a lot of "We do that pretty well and will continue to do that pretty well" answers, and a sprinkle here and there of admiration for "the Japanese."

There's not even a whole lot that would cause a more sensitive industry watcher to accidentally crush his mouse due to a surge of anger and hatred. The two things that might come closest are 1) a backhanded critique of the closed nature of comics over the last decade that fails to acknowledge the role that DC Comics played in shaping such a market, although I guess "We had little opportunity to do any outmarketing the last ten years because back in 1994 we took a look at market instability and decided to throw a blanket over it, wrestle it to the floor and lie on top of it for ten years until it stopped spazzing out" would be a little too much to hope for, and 2) a long discussion of current DC periodicals sales that treats the upside of certain sales strategies as happy, surprise successes when what's at risk in terms of downside is long-term, not short-term, performance. It's sort of like being pleased that the first night out with someone who fell off the wagon was fun, when you have little intention to be the one holding their hair back six months from now.

Photo by Whit Spurgeon. Please don't make me defend my crappy metaphors.
 
posted 9:31 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Dark Horse to Release Nexus Archives

imageDark Horse's work with the Mike Baron/Steve Rude property has been really admirable, from the return of the copyright to the owners to multiple mini-series in a variety of formats. It should be interesting to see how viable this $49.95 format is for this series. As I understand it, the last few mini-series really fell off sales-wise; just because other '80s icons are coming back doesn't necessarily mean a market for Nexus has been refreshed in the last few years. Plus, after this first volume, you're talking about collecting comics easily available in great condition at maybe half the cost of the hardcover. I suppose that's why this is a prestige-format collection, reaching towards a different market, rather than a series of affordable books.
 
posted 9:22 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Evanier Starts Kirby Research Group

Mark Evanier's long-promised Jack Kirby biography looks to be going into its second phase, and the writer is looking to assemble a group of mainstream comics-savvy folks to do some checking over on some things.
 
posted 9:21 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Ryan Estrada to Make 168-Hour Comic

For those of you who find the average 24-hour comic much too coherent. Ah, I'm just kidding. Supposedly, it's a world record.
 
posted 9:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Feature Articles on Comics Round-Up

Two recent longer articles worth noting from the mainstream press: this New York Times piece engages Grant Morrison's Guardian limited series on its use of abandoned architectural projects. And here's a perspective on comics you don't see every day -- a long piece in a Christian magazine taking in the sights at the San Diego Con.
 
posted 5:42 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Profile of Naoki Urasawa's Astro Boy
As Falls Manga... Wichita's 1st Anime Festival
Change the Comics Page; Pay the Price
Art Show Blends Cartooning and Illustration
 

 
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