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

September 30, 2005

Diamond Expands in Memphis reports on Diamond expanding their warehouse capacity in Memphis. Worth noting is that this move seems driven by increased demand for backlist items.
posted 7:11 am PST | Permalink

Book Standard on Gordon Lee Case


This is a nice, lengthy piece about the Gordon Lee case in Rome, Georgia. I don't think I'd heard of a book deal for The Salon, either.
posted 7:01 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: New Webcomics Examiner

The new issue of Webcomics Examiner is always worth a looksee.

I have to offer up a warning, though. You may enjoy it, but I felt stupid for sticking with an extended group commentary piece on webcomics history, which I found desperately in need of a major content edit, light on interesting insights and at times even tiresome. Webcomics is such a relatively new topic for most of us that it's hard to process so much raw, unformed dialogue. There needs to be a major payoff for that extra work, and there just wasn't here. An interview with Andrew Farago about the potential for curating webcomics was much more to my taste.
posted 6:31 am PST | Permalink

Webcomic Targets Close-By Cause


For the charity-minded among you out there, Comixpedia reports that cartoonist Michael McKay of Alice Comics is attempting to defray $4000 worth of treatment and related costs for a sick nephew.
posted 6:18 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Ellison Vs. Penny Arcade

Scroll down a bit from here for a pretty amusing story (thanks, K. Thor Jensen).

posted 6:08 am PST | Permalink

Primer: Marshall McLuhan on Comics


In case you've ever seen a reference to Marshall McLuhan in a comics interview and wondered what exactly they were discussing, here's a small article with a summary of where the famed media analyst's thinking collides with the words-and-picture medium.
posted 5:58 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Preview of Stumptown Comics Festival
Jerry Craft Champions Organ/Tissue Donors
Local Comics Publisher Profile: Wicked Good
Prickly City Collected For First Book

September 29, 2005

Numbers May Lie; Can Words Tell Truth?

One thing that's aggravating about news stories in comics is that no one seems willing, even when things are in dispute, to kick forward a number or fifty in ordere to prove a point. This occurred to me again while reading Matt Brady's interview with Mike S. Miller of Alias. The issue is the departure of a studio citing material breach, which Alias denies.

Brady does a good job creating a rapport with Miller and following up on some leaps of logic. But Miller, by never using an actual number to prove a point, manages to come across as clueless and slimy. The numbers really matter here. A three-figure shift in sales described as "low" can make a big difference as to whether you believe one side or the other. A single-digit shift in a percentages described as "minor" can be the difference between a fair and a draconian policy. Nobody should have to read about a comics dispute fought solely in terms of dubious language like this.
posted 6:53 am PST | Permalink

David Maisel Gets Marvel Promotion

There was a time when promotions at Marvel demanded attention because it let you know who was being active where within the company. Now something like this piece on David Maisel involves figuring out if it's a shift in actual responsiblities or if it's a move-around to free up some sort of payment. And didn't Marvel just change its name?
posted 6:40 am PST | Permalink

Erik Larsen Challenges Comics’ Manhood

Someone asking everyone else in comics why they're being pussies because they don't create things is too funny for me to rattle off the obvious list of objections.
posted 6:28 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Not Comics: Neil Gaiman Hits NYT #1
Second Marvel Armed Services Comic Described
First Manga Exhibition in Belgium?
Student Paper Recommends Five Comics
Hey, Someone Reviewed an NBM Book!
Child Draws Newspaper Comic Before You Do
First (I Think) Blutch Book from Futuropolis
Comics-Passionate Physics Professor Profiled

September 28, 2005

One For The First-Year Yearbook


Today's Question: Who is watching cartoonist James Kochalka and this caricature of Vermont's governor? (Click Photo for Answer)
posted 8:49 am PST | Permalink

Joe Casey Talks Steve Englehart


In unpacking the influences on his current Godland series, Joe Casey writes about Steve Englehart's 1970s work on Marvel's Avengers. This is the run where Pat Harrington lookalike Swordsman shows up at headquarters with his hooker girlfriend, some dead people are fought, some pyramids are visited, some time-traveling is done, and eventually someone ends up marrying a sentient plant so that a new Jesus can be born.

Englehart was one of the more interesting mainstream writers of that period, mostly because he was so straightforward -- I can't imagine anyone mining his comics for their oddball potential (like you could do with Gerber or Wein). What you saw was pretty much what you got. Any weirdness to Englehart's comics seemed to come from the general strangeness of the time, and, well, the times were pretty damn strange. My guess is you could extend Casey's point about the superhero=everyman aspect to Marvel's silly cosmic epics to the fact that a lot of the material was written by decidedly non-out there figures.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

210-Title Shotaro Ishinomori Project

It's under today's entry (September 28) and sounds pretty staggering, although I'm not sure how to place it in context. Does a lot of work get published this way, and if not, what's the spur here?
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Dongery Web Site


If you couldn't make it to this year's Small Press Expo, you can go look through Dongery's site by clicking through the above image and get an idea of one table's worth of comics you missed.
posted 7:48 am PST | Permalink

Dave Sim By Subject Matter


For no particular reason, a column scanned from the index of Dave Sim Collected Letters 2004.
posted 7:39 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Evanier on Ditko/Stanton Get Smart Comic
Marvel Hires Another TV WriterEditorial Cartoon Becomes Tattoo
London Cartoon Exhibition Review
Description of Art Spiegelman Lecture
Local Cartoonist Profile: Suresh Sawat

September 27, 2005

Ali Dilem: Freedom of Press Trophy

The cartoonist Ali Dilem of the Algerian newspaper Liberte has received the Freedom of Press trophy from the long-running caricature and humor festival at Saint-Just-le Martel. Dilem has made international headlines this year for his struggles to have his work published free of legal harassment.
posted 8:12 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Profile of Pat Oliphant


This lengthy profile, on the occasion of the great editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant receiving an award in New Mexico, touches on the fascinating issue of access versus accommodation.
posted 8:09 am PST | Permalink

Details on That Big LA Exhibit

Brian Walker let slip over the winter that he was going to be involved in a major Los Angeles cartooning exhibit; Editor and Publisher coughs up some details, including the accompanying book from Yale University Press. I don't remember Pete Hamill writing anything of length about comics before.
posted 8:04 am PST | Permalink

New Asterix Cover Makes Debut


In case you were wondering, this is what a comic book with eight million copies in its initial printing looks like.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Johnny Ryan Makes ‘05 RS Hot List

Fantagraphics reports Johnny Ryan is the "Hot Cartoonist" on this year's list from Rolling Stone, reinforcing my longtime suspicion that Ryan is just another teenaged starlet crossing over from his Disney Channel television show into the movies and general pop music stardom.
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Inkwell: $70,000+ for Katrina Relief
Village Voice Profiles True Porn 2
LA Times Covers Clint C. Wilson Sr. Passing
Local Cartoonist Profile: Doug MacGregor
Star-Bulletin Profiles Kyle Baker
Evanier Crushes New CCI/LA Rumor w/one Hand
Another Specific Marvel Entertainment License

September 26, 2005

Manga Sales Down 20% Since ‘94

Anime News Network digs into this year's major publishing report to paint a picture of the manga industry in Japan in 2004. There's a ton that's interesting to not here, if you dive right in or go to it obliquely through smart commentary like David Taylor's. Everyone probably already knew that a slight decline in domestic sales is what has made the worldwide expansion of manga such a boon for these companies. It's also worth remembering that it's such a siginficant portion of the overall publishing market that it works differently -- only a broad readership would make rental policies an issue, for example. Something very much worth reading.
posted 8:18 am PST | Permalink

Naruto Cartoon Enjoys Ripple Effect

image offers a nice report about how the Cartoon Network's playing of the Naruto anime has led to a mini-explosion of interest in the manga volumes, as reflected on the Bookscan charts. It's interesting to me in that I wonder how if any serials were less than well-served by a rush to put out books, even though this represents a kind of re-start to the publishing effort and as such a counterargument that having a book out there is an impediment. I enjoy the Naruto manga, incidentally. It has pretty airtight emotional-action balance among its leads (the key to any team adventure serial) and the action is depicted in an interesting, thoughtful fashion that manages to hit all the proper dramatic beats without seemig to go through the motions.
posted 8:08 am PST | Permalink

Small Press Expo ‘05 Remembered

Perhaps the best-loved North America comics show, the 2005 version of Small Press Expo is fading into memory. The photos, con reports, and gushing blog entries have only begun. I will attempt to track them here. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

Finder Serial To Go On-Line


According to Heidi MacDonald, Carla Speed McNeil announced at this weekend's SPX that issue #38 of her long-running Finder would be the last in serial comic book publication, and that she would be shifting to an on-line followed by print trades model. As noted in the recent Diamond Small Press "notice of potential purging" story, Finder sold better as a serial than people thought it did, but still sold modestly and was treated by the cartoonist as a loss-leader driving people to the trades.

While McNeil is certainly not the first person to take material on-line that would have in the past bee serialized in comic book form, she's the first in a while, Finder is maybe the most mature title in terms of issues published and entrenched audience to go this route, and the move has potential symbolic importance as this is the kind of title the Direct Market broke semi-routinely in the 1980s and hasn't in 11 years.
posted 7:56 am PST | Permalink

New Asterix Book Imminent

As mentioned a couple of times here earlier this calendar year, the forthcoming Asterix book should sell an ungodly number of copies, an example of an extremely strong brand name meeting a sublimely primed market.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Zak Sally Interview

posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

ICAF Gears Up for Mid-October

imageThe Small Press Expo having just completed perhaps its last year at the old Holiday Inn in Bethesda, DC-area comics enthusiasts might turn their attention to the Tenth Annual International Comic Arts Festival, taking place at the Library of Congress on October 13-15. A full schedule of the show, which is open free to the public, is up at the ICAF site right here.

Highlights from my first glance are a Will Eisner symposium; a round-table with Kevin Kallaugher, Ann Telnaes and Tom Toles; an interview with Jerry Robinson; and a presentation by Fang Cheng (how many Chinese cartoonists have you ever seen speak?). It looks like there's a presentation of a scholarship named for Dr. John A Lent, which is great to hear. If I could have any scholar's knowledge of comics and cartoonists, it would be Dr. Lent's.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Read: Appreciation of Clint C. Wilson Sr.
Visting Cartoonist Profile: Art Spiegelman
Painter Turned Cartoonist Turned Painter Paul Arlt Dies at 91
Local Cartoonist Profiler Profile: Tom Field

September 25, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Milo George Goes to the Comics Art Show

I would love to attend "The Cartoonist's Eye," a show curated by Ivan Brunetti at the A+D Gallery in Chicago. I really like seeing orignal art on a wall where I can stare at them, and Ivan's assembled a killer group of artists. But I'm not going to Chicago this Fall. When I learned Milo George went to the exhibit, I asked him if he'd be nice enough to reformulate some of his impressions for our benefit and he was nice enough to reply with the following.
imageSaturday, Sept. 10, 2005: I had a wedding in Chicago to attend and six hours to kill, so I met up with some friends at Columbia College Chicago's new A+D Gallery to see "The Cartoonist's Eye," Ivan Brunetti's history-making show of original comics art. It's presented as a preview of the upcoming ANTHOLOGY OF GRAPHIC FICTION (Yale University Press), which Brunetti has stated is meant as a Norton's Anthology-style comics collection for a general audience. The ecstatic word-of-mouth on this show is accurate -- I've been dryer-eyed at some funerals -- so all self-respecting comix nerds should haul ass to see it immediately.

I got into O'Hare at noon with nothing but four cups of Mountain Dew and a Vicodin tablet in my stomach*; two subway trains and a two-block walk later, I reached the "A+D Gallery," clearly one of those city-beautification deals where the local Chamber of Commerce or somesuch gave the College use of an empty storefront to occupy and thus discourage hooligans from vandalizing that mostly abandoned-looking area. I've never seen so empty storefronts with big tape Xs on their windows as I saw in less than a day on the streets of Chicago.

Anyway, the show takes up one good-sized room; from the sidewalk, you can see one of the partitions, which holds work from the names you would expect to headline such a big show: George Herriman, Art Spiegelman, R. Crumb. I'd like to publicly thank whoever's responsible for placing a spiffy NANCY daily and a LITTLE KING Sunday [the first time my eyeballs got a little misty] alongside such heavy hitters. Curiously enough, the only Charles Schulz piece in the show [a lovely PEANUTS Sunday] is on the other side of the partition, despite it easily fitting in a spot on the front taken up by a battered, mangy-looking Dick Tracy merchandise illustration, which wasn't even original art. At the top of a partition dominated by the likes of Rory Hayes, Gary Panter and Julie Doucet, there's a jaunty little cartoon sketch from Milt Gross, which looked like it was crammed up there a half-hour after the show opened its doors.

Such odd prioritizing is the show's only fundamental flaw. In getting so much great comics art in one room, Brunetti has achieved a Herculean task -- a Sisyphean task, if comics-art collectors and cartoonists are as assholic and neurotic about their originals as other types of art collectors and artists are -- so only a total shitheel would take him to task over the artists who aren't in the show.** So the problem isn't who and what's not on the wall, it's sense of scale used for what is on the wall. If "The Cartoonist's Eye" project is intended for comics neophytes, it's going to give them some pretty strange ideas.

Two examples: I think Seth's work is great, but if you were to judge its comparative worth based on its volume and prominence in this show, you would think he was The Undisputed King Shit of Comics -- but some of the Herrimans seemed to have been hung as afterthoughts, simply plugged into holes in the less-than-primo areas left by the placement of the other pieces. I recognize Karl Wirsum's name, at least -- my Hail Mary guess would be that his work's been in a recent volume of BLAB*** -- but there's no way he's a more important comics artist than Gary Panter, whose pieces are as scattered and ill-placed as they are inspired, whereas Wirsum's illustrations get large chunks of wall space at that prime five-foot eyeline height. Like I said, pretty strange.

The show has been hung fairly loosely, with vaguely related clusters of art that sort of make sense near each other. Like Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez and Adrian Tomine more or less share a corner near the front. There's a small hallway just past the information desk that has serious artcomix artists like Debbie Drechsler, Phoebe Gloeckner, Kevin Huizenga, James Sturm and David Mazzucchelli on one wall facing comedians like Joe Matt, Peter Bagge, Tony Millionaire and Bill Griffith, Mark Newgarden, R. Sikoryak and a trio of Julie Doucet's "Kirk & Spock" strips on the other.

I appreciated the odd but curiously appropriate logic that connects young cartoonists with older artists: For example, William Steig and Marc Bell hang close to each other, and Jeffrey Brown's booklet originals hang next to Justin Green's recreation of his BINKY BROWN cover. I don't know if Bell or Brown would even consider Steig or Green an indirect influence, but seeing their art beside each other drew some intriguing connections.

I'm always grateful to see new work from Richard McGuire, but his pair of "pages" raise a question I doubt he intended to ask: Is there a joke here that these inkjet printouts are poster-sized [if not bigger] despite the art being so simple and abstract that both comics would work just fine at gum-wrapper size? It's a pity that the artist's remarkable 9/11 piece hadn't been sent, since that's a work I would imagine gaining even more power and depth the larger it gets. I understand some people have complained about inkjet prints being included in the show; I don't care, myself -- especially in cases like McGuire's, where I imagine a lot of his work is done on the computer -- but I must admit that the Ben Katchor printouts literally hurt my eyes to look at, much to my chagrin.

Putting Harvey Kurtzman's and John Porcellino's relatively tiny originals under glass on tables was a pretty elegant display solution. The pages from THE JUNGLE BOOK were probably the most worked-over originals in the show; it really does take a lot of work to make something look dashed-off.

There was a table near the front with a small pile of books by the folks on the walls -- lots of Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics books, Chris Ware's volume of MCSWEENEYS -- which is where I finally got to see KRAMERS ERGOT 5 and the first volume of WALT & SKEEZIX, both of which I must own even if I've gone completely blind by next year. They smelled nice, too.****

Things I remember admiring but have nothing at all worth saying about:

-- The huge, late-period POLLY & HER PALS Sunday original.
-- A small battery of Walt Holcombe art.
-- The GASOLINE ALLEY Sunday original hanging next to its printed final.
-- The colored BUNGLE FAMILY Sunday.
-- Chester Brown's NY Magazine annotated duck strip.
-- The computer setup that looped a neat animation showing Chris Ware's working process, from blue pencils to finished coloring.
-- The funny/interesting notes and cartoons in show's guestbook.
-- The show's promo card has that spiffy, colorful mosaic of cartoon characters Ivan drew in his stick-figure style.

Things that blew my mind and made me briefly ponder robbing the joint on my way back to the airport:

-- Even Sikorak's originals for "You're a Good Man, Gregor Brown" could pass for Schulz's! That guy's a genius.
-- In Herriman's final, unfinished KRAZY KAT strip, there are light pencilings over the inked panels -- it's undoubtedly dialogue but I couldn't make it out -- which suggests that Herriman inked backward from the typical method. The pencils don't show in the strip's reproduction in Patrick McDonnell et al.'s biography THE ART OF GEORGE HERRIMAN.
-- That there were two Otto Soglow pieces in the show. Is there a better strip than THE LITTLE KING? Well, yes, but not many.
-- Onsmith's accomplished portraits of other cartoonist's characters was a major surprise -- each drawing was unmistakably his, but you could immediately recognize who he was covering. I was particularly impressed that he could do a Mat Brinkman with his chunky brushline.
-- Chester should draw way more smartmouthed ducks.

Other comics-noteworthy crap I saw in Chicago:

-- Jesse Reklaw's dream book was remaindered at all three booksellers I visited Sunday: Uncle Fun's, Chicago Comics [my ride had to collect his minicomics, honest] and Powells Books.
-- Uncle Fun had what seemed to be every Top Shelf book not drawn by Craig Thompson published in the last three years. I don't think any of the books were priced in the double digits. Ouch.
-- Chicago Comics had a handful of that five-in-one KRAZY & IGNATZ hardcover, which my friend told was strictly a direct-from-Fanta thing. I finally saw the COMPLETE BONE, which blew my mind and hurt my hand holding it.

* The Fine Print: I don't remember the last comic I read, it's been so long. I'm somewhere between half- to three-quarters-blind most of the day and I take a lot of painkillers for eyestrain.

** Like Jules Feiffer, E.C. Segar and maybe Peter Arno. I said "a total shitheel." By the way, the North American contributor cutoff is stupid and arbitary, but it's not like anyone would be sent to jail if Eddie Campbell's work was slipped into the project when no one's looking.

*** I'll let the reader guess whether or not this is meant as an insult. Actually, I assume Wirsum's in the show because he's probably a big local artist and/or saved Ivan's cat out of a tree or something.

**** ps. While my friends and I were there, a guy who sorta looked like Ivan came in and checked out the whole show by himself. I figured it couldn't be him, since A.] he looked way too happy and normal and B.] what kind of lameass curator spends a good chunk of his Saturday afternoon visiting his own show just two days after it opened? As the guy was walking out the door, he turned around and said goodbye to the otherwise bored-looking girl behind the information desk, who waved back. So, it probably was Ivan and I'm the asshole for thinking he's a lameass. Sorry, Ivan.

Thank you, Milo! Please help me thank him by visiting Mr. George's blog, The Unofficial John Westmoreland Memorial Tribute Webring -- the only comics-related blog I ever describe to non-comics reader where they assure me, "Oh, yeah, I've seen that."

While We're On The Subject

Here are some David King photos from the opening of the exhibit described above.

Chris Jaworski Recommends


This straight-ahead profile of Patrick McDonnell, the creator of Mutts. I knew nothing about the book project mentioned. Also, I apologize if someone owns the use of the above art; I have no idea what it's from.

Your Ignatz Award Winners

Winners in Bold
Held Last Night in Conjunction With Small Press Expo
Keith Knight, Emcee
E-mailed to Me; Not Double-Checked

* David B., Epileptic (Pantheon), Babel (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Jeffrey Brown, Bighead (Top Shelf Productions)
* Roger Langridge, Fred the Clown (Fantagraphics)
* Seth, Clyde Fans Book 1 (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Craig Thompson, Carnet de Voyage (Top Shelf Productions)

* Above and Below: Two Tales of the American Frontier, James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Dead Herring Comics, edited by Actus, (Actus Independent Comics)
* Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man, John Porcellino (La Mano)
* Fred the Clown, Roger Langridge (Fantagraphics)
* Hutch Owen: Unmarketable, Tom Hart (Top Shelf Productions)

* Bighead, Jeffrey Brown (Top Shelf Productions)
* Carnet de Voyage, Craig Thompson (Top Shelf Productions)
* Cinema Panopticum, Thomas Ott (L'Association, Fantagraphics)
* Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
* Why Are You Doing This?, Jason (Fantagraphics Books)

* Dogs and Water, Anders Nilsen (Drawn and Quarterly)
* "Dumb Solitaire," Love and Rockets #11 and #13, Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* "Homme De Le Bois," The Frank Ritza Papers, David Collier (Drawn & Quarterly)
* The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, Dennis P. Eichorn and J.R. Williams (Top Shelf Productions)
* "Onion Jack," Superior Showcase #0, Joel Priddy (AdHouse Books)

* Joshua W. Cotter, Skyscrapers of the Midwest (AdHouse Books)
* Rebecca Dart, RabbitHead (Alternative Comics)
* Vanessa Davis, Spaniel Rage (Buenaventura Press)
* Andy Runton, Owly (Top Shelf Productions)
* Karl Stevens, Guilty (Karl Stevens Publishing, dist. by Alternative Comics)

* Bipolar, Tomer Hanuka, Asaf Hanuka, and Etgar Keret (Alternative Comics)
* Deadpan, David Heatley (Self-published)
* Finder, Carla Speed McNeil (Lightspeed Press)
* Love and Rockets vol. II, Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Skyscrapers of the Midwest, Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse Books)

* Dogs & Water, Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Love & Rockets #13, Los Bros. Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Love & Rockets #12, Los Bros. Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Or Else #1, Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Worn Tuff Elbow #1, Marc Bell (Fantagraphics)

* Couch Tag #2, Jesse Reklaw (Self-published)
* Dance, John Hankiewicz (Self-published)
* Monday, Andy Hartzell (Self-published)
* Ouija Interview #3, by Sarah Becan (Self-published)
* Phase 7, Alec Longstreth (Self-published)

* Ballad, deadmouse
* Copper, Kazu Kibuishi
* Dicebox, Jenn Manley Lee
* The Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch
* Superslackers, Steven Manale

(There may have been more by the awards show)
* 676 apparitions of Killoffer, Killoffer, Typocrat Press
* Action Philosphers: Self Help For Stupid Ugly Losers #1, Ryan Dunlavy & Fred Van Lente
* American Music: A-Z, Ben Towle
* Big Fat Whale's Sea Anomie, Brian McFadden
* Conversations #2, James Kochalka & Jeffrey Brown, Top Shelf Productions
* The Dada Alphabet, An Absurdist's Primer, Freese, Milloway & Wood
* Dr. Dremo, Vol.1, DC Conspiracy
* House of Twelve's Rashoman, Cheese Hasselberger, House of Twelve
* Matriculated, Phillip Chan, Digital Pimp Productions
* Merde, Steve Ahlquist, Chris Reilly & Ben Towle
* Owly, Vol. 3, Andy Runton, Top Shelf Productions
* Pale Fire, MK Reed
* Strange Detective Tales: Dead Love #2, Jesse Bausch & Jim Callahan, Oddgod Press
* Stupid and Unkind, Robin Enrico
* Superf*ckers #2, James Kochalka, Top Shelf Productions
* The Surrogates #2, Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele, Top Shelf Productions
* True Porn, Vol. 2, edited by Robyn Chapman & Kelli Nelson, Alternative Comics
* Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?, Liz Prince, Top Shelf Productions
* Zed: Setting the Scene, Duane M. Abe, Corkey Comics

Initial Extended Thought of the Day

I don't miss going to Small Press Expo. It must be a fun and rewarding show at which to exhibit, but for the rest of us it's really one two-hour walkaround, dinner out and a couple of hotel parties. I'm old now: I'd rather go to the county fair and watch Notre Dame football on the television. I used to get irritated when I thought about SPX embracing its inclusive, feel-good elements over its celebration of the art form elements, and I'd still love a real American comics festival, but now I just hope people have fun and sell some books. I look forward to going again someday and taking a lot of headshot photos for the site, but if I never make it back, that's okay, too.
posted 7:52 am PST | Permalink

September 24, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, September 17 to September 23, 2005:

1. Comics enjoys a pretty good month in the direct market, driven by graphic novel sales and big event serials.

2. DC Comics will try a variation on order adjustments in a forthcoming weekly series.

3. Art Spiegelman announces his next project and makes legitimate a source for comics publishing that's barely been tapped before now.

Winner of the Week
The New York Comic-Con, which this week announced staff and the addition of key companies and groups to its exhibitor list, just about guaranteeing a first really strong year.

Loser of the Week
Alias Enterprises, who lost one of their best-known contributing studios, Runemaster.

Quote of the Week
"This is why retailers love DC." -- participant on a Newsarama thread about DC's announced plan to assist hurricane-affected stores in the gulf region.

Will Elder, one of a handful of folks in a serious discussion about greatest living comics illustrator, celebrated his 84th birthday this week.
posted 6:55 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Vengeance at Cackling Mountain
Cromartie High School Volume 3
posted 6:52 am PST | Permalink

September 23, 2005

Go, Read: Bill Watterson Q&A


This is a pretty disappointing "interview," even by taking into consideration the nature of the stunt (Watterson selected questions from readers' submissions). Those answers that start off in an interesting direction taper off pretty quickly. On the other hand, it's all we're going to get, Watterson does make a pretty good joke about the Calvin Pissing logos, and the fact that anyone can name their terms likes this continues to fascinate me.

Mark Evanier has a brief report on a change that made it into the forthcoming collection.
posted 9:09 am PST | Permalink

Runemaster Studios, Inc. Leaves Alias

I found this press release and subsequent message board thread pretty interesting, if only because they include denials and a modest amount of dissembling from the Alias Enterprises camp over what was sold out, what didn't sell and so on. Also, the fact comes out that Alias books aren't yet available through, which is kind of astonishing considering how many micro-publshers use the on-line bookseller from the start. has a bit more on what exactly the breach in contract was, which sounds like the kind of thing you look for when you really just want the hell out, generally. The last time Alias did something that captured my notice it was for severely punting an ambitious line launch and barely breaking into the sales chart (as I recall, a Runemaster Studio effort was one of those books). Runemaster should have an easy time finding a place with another publisher.
posted 9:01 am PST | Permalink

Comics Awarded By Sales Only

imageThe Book Standard has announced the winners of its Bestseller Awards, which seem to be exactly what they sound like. There were four comics-related awards. Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers won the Comics & Graphic Novels award with 49,000 in sales. The latest Dilbert calendar sold 193,000 to take that category. Tatsuya Hamazaki's .hack//Legend of the Twilight Volume 3 sold 45,000 copies to win the Comics & Graphic Novels -- Manga award, while Hush Volume 1 sold 20,000 to win Comics & Graphic Novels -- Superheroes. It's fun to look at the whole list, to be honest.
posted 8:41 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Bone PC Game

I don't know anything about video games and my computer is from 1982, so I asked CR reader and games-savvy freelance journalist Gus Mastrapa if he had any thoughts to share on the free download of the new Bone game. I thought the Bone game was interesting in theory because it seemed to feature a business plan that might be appealing to a bunch of similar properties that aren't exactly served by licensing in that field right now.

Gus went above and beyond with this full report:
Some Notes on Bone: Out From Boneville

imageThe game takes the form of a near-dead gaming genre, the adventure game. Those who have been using PCs longer than a decade may remember early examples of the genre such as King's Quest or Leisure Suit Larry. Gameplay consists of exploring areas, clicking on and interacting with onscreen items -- and most importantly taking part in conversations with characters.

Since Fone Bone isn't the kind of character to bonk people on the head ala Mario or enter a room guns-a-blazing, this seemingly antequated kind of gameplay suits the subject matter nicely.

The downloadable demo is very brief, but gives a decent taste of the game's potential. A scene in which the player, as Fone Bone, must mediate a kind of truce between Phoney and Smiley to move the game forward seems indicative of the kind of interactions the game will offer. This initial conversation puzzle speaks directly to one of the main conflicts of the comics and establishes the relationship between the three cousins nicely.

The second segment of the demo is a very simple action sequence, with about the level of challenge and depth as your average web-based Flash game. Being that the meat of games such as this come from character interaction and puzzle solving, this really comes as no surprise.

As the name suggests, the game covers the Out From Boneville story arc. I'd imagine that hope is that this budget priced game does the kind of business that will allow the Publisher to continue the story line.

At this point Bone: Out From Boneville is PC-only and is not available in retail packaging. It's highly recommended that you update your video card and DirectX drivers before attempting to play the demo.

It should be noted that Telltale has acquired the game rights to another comics-related property, Sam & Max. A sequel to the 1993 game Sam & Max Hit the Road was recently scrapped by Lucas Arts. Telltale is starting their follow-up from scratch and plans to release it episodically, adding chapters onto the initial game for a nominal fee.

Gus maintains a pop culture web site I like very much called Things I Like. Please visit it. Thanks, Gus!
posted 8:27 am PST | Permalink

AdHouse Announces Project: Romantic


AdHouse Books will announce at today's Small Press Expo the third of its well-regarded anthologies. Project: Romantic will join Project: Telstar and Project: Superior upon its debut in the Summer of 2006.

Here's a list of confirmed talent provided by AdHouse.

Big Time Attic, Randall Christopher, Joshua Cotter, Nick Craine, Brian Flynn, Doug Fraser, Jose Garibaldi, Debbie Huey, Damien Jay, Chip Kidd, Hope Larson, Mike Laughed, Adam McGovern/Paolo Leandri, Junko Mizuno, Scott Morse, Mark Nagata, Roger Peterson, Chris Pitzer, Joel Priddy, Paul Rivoche, Jim Rugg, Alberto Ruiz, Maris Wicks (cover), Ash Wood.
posted 2:34 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Cartoon Art Museum Hosting Little Nemo 100-Yr Event
Update on Cell Phone Market
Local Cartoonist Profile: Stephen Richter
Alumnus Cartoonist Profile: Dustin Evans

September 22, 2005

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

ADV employees given today and tomorrow off to secure safety for themselves, families; two sites secured against damage.
posted 7:35 pm PST | Permalink

Clint C. Wilson, 1914-2005


Clint C. Wilson, Sr. the longtime editorial cartoonist at the Los Angeles Sentinel, passed away on Sunday in Hawthorne, California. He was 90.

Wilson was one of the traditional black press' most esteemed cartoonists, working in very strong, blunt style marked by a certain elegance in the way figures were depicted. He began his career as a sports cartoonist in San Antonio, and held that position at the Sentinel before becoming their editorial cartoonist. He was inducted into the Black Press Hall of Fame in 1990, and retired in 2002.
posted 10:12 am PST | Permalink

DC To Try Marvel’s Adjustments kicks in with I think the best write-up to date on DC phasing in a version of the Marvel order adjustments they went to after the class-action retailer lawsuit led by Brian Hibbs. The idea is that retailers get a 20-day window to adjust orders, which will help them gauge first-week sales of a previous issue. Appropriately, DC is working a version in on a weekly mini-series, which puts more pressure on shops to order accurately in advance of seeing how a series is doing – a great concern because the comic shop market works on non-returnable orders. This must be an effective general approach because retailers seem to be supporting it despite the extra work involved.
posted 10:01 am PST | Permalink

Comparative Sales 1960 to Now


Here's the second part of a generally well-received survey article about sales figures. The examples are smartly selected, although there's nothing here that really drops a bomb on conventional wisdom.

This comic probably sold somewhere around 202,000 copies. I bought one.
posted 9:54 am PST | Permalink

Small Press Expo Previews

Here are a few links to material on Small Press Expo 2005, which begins tomorrow in Bethesda, Maryland.

Official Site
Who Will Be Where
SPX Programming Guide
Harvey Pekar GoH Announcement
Fantagraphics Line-Up
Jonathan Ellis Previews the Show
The Beat Previews the Show
TCJ Message Board I'll Be There Thread
Alvin Buenaventura Has an Extra Table
Mini-Comics Blog With Multiple Countdown Entries
Matt Dembicki Blog Pledge to Attend
Flight Comics Blog Pledge to Attend
SPX Covered in Baltimore City Paper
Listing on Events Web Site
Bram Blog Pledge to Attend
posted 9:50 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Wife Beater, Layabout, Drunkard, Icon
Not Comics: Forbes on Neil Gaiman's Oeuvre
Newspaper Cartoonists Start Charity Site
Missed It: Del Rey Launches Preview Sites

September 21, 2005 August Was Big Month

As expected, August seems to have been a strong month (even considering five sales periods instead of four) for the comic book direct market. An Alex Ross project, an Alan Moore project, a debut Supergirl comic book, and growing general interest in Naruto entered into a mix that already featured several popular mainstream projects continuing their ascent.

Top 300 Comics
Top 100 Graphic Novels

Most of the usual conventional wisdom applies here, including some mitigating stuff like a slight sales sag in several titles that indicates some high sales may draw from other titles, indications that gains may be at risk when the burden for sales returns from these special events to more regular titles, and the continuing dominance of the two big mainstream companies.
posted 8:36 am PST | Permalink

New York Comic-Con Swells is reporting that Marvel, Dark Horse, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are among those companies and groups added to those appearing at the 2006 New York Comic-Con, run by Reed Exhibitions. It's shaping up into quite a show actually, reaching out to multiple related hobby areas tethered by Reed's interest and more formal experience with industry-focused cons. Even the eastern-located Alternative Comics, a company that generally cannot afford the trek out to San Diego, will be on hand. Milton Griepp is chairing programs, which I hadn't heard before. The Joe Quesada part of the announcement is interesting to me because I didn't know they were doing guests of honor.
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

Egon: Spiegelman’s Next Project

Egon Labs has a full write-up (it's at the top right now, but there is no perma-link) of Virginia Quarterly Review's publication of new Art Spiegelman material this year and next. The bulk of the material VQR will feature is planned to eventually be published in front of a new, reworked edition of the cartoonist's Breakdowns as "Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&?!"
posted 8:11 am PST | Permalink

Joey Cavalieri Promoted at DC

Second in this press release, but first in the hearts of all those who have enjoyed alt/art comics material like Plastic Man and Bizarro Comics at DC Comics, Joey Cavalieri has been promoted to Senior Editor by the company.
posted 7:57 am PST | Permalink

Oh, the Mail We Receive…


That's cartoonist Gary Chaloner as the grown-up Tin Tin.
posted 7:53 am PST | Permalink

Actual Editorial Cartoonist Job Posted

This is rare enough I had to mention it here. (Thanks, Daniel Holloway)
posted 1:17 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Bluesman Moves to NBM
Mommy Loves Cartooning Baby, Yes She Does
Kal Wins 2005 Nast Prize from Landau
Profile of Vasquez at Canadian Expo
Scott Adams Speaks to Direct Marketers
Viz and World Bank Collaborate

September 20, 2005

Conversational Euro-Comics

Meder by Jean-Christophe Menu.
posted 3:54 pm PST | Permalink

Mickey Siporin, 1941-2005


The filmmaker and editorial cartoonist Mickey Siporin passed away late last week according to published reports. Siporin was published in the Los Angeles Times, the Newark Star-Ledger, the New York Times, the Toronto Star, USA Today and the Village Voice. He had recently come back to many people's attention for his inclusion in Ted Rall's Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists. His short films were shown on various pay and public channels, and his parody of educational films called "How to Eat" rests in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He also wrote Spidey Super Stories in the 1970s. His web site can be found here; his Lambiek entry is here.
posted 9:40 am PST | Permalink

Webcomic Telethon Raises $28,635


The Webcomic-community effort for Hurricane Katrina victims hosted by Blank Label has raised almost $30,000 and may have had a wider effect on that portion of the comics industry.
posted 9:32 am PST | Permalink

Newsarama on New Diamond Policies

Matt Brady and Newsarama kick in with a lengthy report on Diamond's recent stricter sales standards, with a look at Diamond's point of view regarding the move.

I think it's important to see Diamond's new policy as a mix of overt changes and renewed points of emphasis. We should therefore judge any fallout of companies and books falling to the wayside in terms of Diamond's overall goal -- a move towards a leaner, possibly more effective catalog -- rather than what comes from new measures, and what comes from application of the old.
posted 9:27 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Working on Borrowed Time?

imageIs it my imagination, or do the folks at Motley Fool spend more time talking about Marvel Entertainment than I do? This latest article is a kind of a march of slightly skeptical conventional wisdom, suggesting that licensing doesn't last forever and that the Marvel cupboard past a certain point is bare or at least holds cans of thinner gruel.

I'm more impressed with the analysis that publishing may be in a period of declining profits than I am about the asserted licensing/publishing dichotomy. There's something odd to me about the presumption that Marvel should be judged according to standards set during this period when it's in the midst of leveraging its greatest and most popular creations. I'm also skeptical of the idea that companies can make choices to better ensure this kind of runaway success. There's no solution a company can embrace that yields another Spider-Man. You need great creators and some luck to do that.

In fact, although this is only an endorsement of the practice as much as you value big, goofy, movies that connect with lots of people, you can make a very strong case that it's work for hire that allowed the Spider-Man property to flourish by moving past the idiosyncratic Lee/Ditko version and into the more accessible Lee/Romita. (The Punisher, Daredevil and X-Men movies were also made by drawing on iterations made possible by work for hire). Additionally, it's probably too early to predict the moderately successful (by Spider-Man standards) Sin City and Hellboy franchises (the article's counter-examples) won't be matched by their equivalents among the Marvel properties. I don't think each of those movies was approximately as profitable as the first Blade.

I don't know, I'm not interested in this stuff at all so I probably have an ass-backwards grasp of it, but I always just kind of figured at some point Marvel Entertainment would settle into a less crazy groove like most companies do. How many viable mainstream properties does any one company need? How long as a giant hit-movie machine does any one company get? I figured "not long." It's not like the creators are sharing in on this, so I can't work up a lot of concern for stockholders who stick around for too long, or for board members who see a bonus reduced by a few hundred grand.

In other Marvel news, the company signs another specific licensing deal, and sketches out the rough parameters of its 2006 publishing slate. This includes Neil Gaiman doing something with the Eternals. Who doesn't love Karkas?
posted 9:19 am PST | Permalink

Guardian Analyzes Dropping Doonesbury

The Guardian analyzes those dark, ugly hours after it dropped Doonesbury from its pages. They speak to Garry Trudeau as well.
posted 9:17 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
People Still Punching New Yorker in Nuts
Jonathan Lethem Among MacArthur Recipients
Voyager Starts Manga for UK with Buddha
Cartoon Art Trust Finds Home
University of Florida Cartoon Controversy
Local Library Profile: Schulz Library
Photoshop + Hatred of John Byrne = Comedy
They Make Comics in Belize, Too
Smith Lined Up for Toledo Author Series
The Retail Economics of Small Conventions
Cartoons and Cocktails Event Scheduled


September 19, 2005

Cartoonist/Editor Jud Hurd, R.I.P.


Editor and Publisher is reporting that cartoonist and longtime Cartoonist Profiles editor Justin "Jud" Hurd passed away last week. He was in his early 90s. Hurd founded the long-running magazine in 1969 as a extension of the work he was doing with the National Cartoonists Society newsletter. He also collaborated on the Health Capsules comic from 1961 to 2002, created the Just Hurd in Hollywood feature in the 1930s and did the Ticker Toons stock market comic. The above volume was released in 2004 by Andrews McMeel.
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: MU’s Wild Cut by DCD

Industry veteran Matt High informs readers of his LiveJournal that his MU book Wild has fallen short of Diamond's sales minimums.
posted 9:25 am PST | Permalink

DC Makes Plans For Gulf Retailers Broken Down by Region and Need

imageThis active plan from DC for Gulf Coast retailers affected in various ways by Hurricane Katrina seems properly ambitious, respectful of the different needs by region, and generous. It's laudatory and good business -- DC is in partnership with these stores, and investing in them when they're down should pay dividends in the future, if only to help these businesses avoid bankruptcy and keep DC customers served.

What's key now is if Marvel responds in kind, what the other top five do if anything, and what kind of relief the smaller publishers may be able to give these stores even though I believe they, unlike DC, don't have a contract with Diamond that allows them to dictate what they can do through the distributor. It would be truly horrible if DC were left holding the bag in terms of supporting stores, an effort likely to benefit an array of companies.
posted 9:20 am PST | Permalink

Ware in NYT Magazine Coverage

Funny Pages Site
Ware's first episode in PDF form
Interview with Chris Ware After Most Aggravating Introduction in the History of the Entire World
Ware Explains Feature to Eric Reynolds
E&P's Profile of Sunday's NYT Ware Strip
Editor's Introduction
posted 9:09 am PST | Permalink

A Visit to Vermont and CCS


Here's a few photos from Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies, now starting its second full week of classes. The above is from the library named after Charles Schulz, whose estate is a major benefactor. You know, it would be pretty neat to live in a town with a comics library.
posted 9:07 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Gordon on Caption-Winner

I found this interview with a recent New Yorker cartoon contest caption winner highly amusing; micro-coverage would seem a pretty natural avenue for blogs to pursue, and I wish there were more in comics proper.
posted 9:06 am PST | Permalink

Une Jeunesse Sovietique to Soft Skull

imageHere's a bit of off-beat publishing news I haven't seen out there yet a reader sent in: the Nikolai Maslov graphic novel Une Jeunesse Sovietique will have an English-language version released by Soft Skull Press as Siberia. Une Jeunesse Sovietique was a well-received first person account of life in the late Soviet Union by an author who supposedly had never such a comic before. The story of the book's discovery can be found here, and is up there with Confederacy of Dunces in terms of a publication legend that matches the feel and thrust of the work.

posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

Top 100 Marks Mainstream Dominance

I generally wait until and CBG grind out their numbers before taking a look, but if you want to know the top sellers right now you can find them over here with Matt Brady and Newsarama. Alex Ross strikes a blow for non-continuity comics, and 95 of the 100 best-sellers seem to be from either Marvel or DC.
posted 8:54 am PST | Permalink

NY Times on Manga For Girls


Lost in the Chris Ware hoopla, it looks like the New York Times may have published a sizeable article on shojo manga. It reads like most articles of this type read to me: kids and librarians interviewed, the novelty of women reading comics noted, the American option tweaked, and then promises of tomorrow's market briefly dangled. There's even a list of books. I knew something was getting in the way of my understanding what the hell was going on in Tokyo Mew Mew A La Mode. Stupid testicles...
posted 8:46 am PST | Permalink

Comic Shop TV Commercials

Here's something you don't see everyday, and something I haven't seen since Indianapolis' Comics Carnival (I think) ran an effort or two during the Robotech cartoons that were on in the early AM when I was in high school: a comic shop advertising on local TV. Around here, local cable TV slots spread out to various channels cost less than $1 per airing.
posted 8:42 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Someone Do This and Cut Me In
Go, Read: Illustrated Tribute to Newspapers of Old
Local Cartoonist Profile: Stephen Pastis
Not Comics: Katchor Film to Play at SFPL
Not Comics: Tadahiro Uesugi Movies
Mayor Helps Open New Comic Shop
Uslan Exhibit Hits Lilly Library

September 18, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

My Real Initial Thought of The Day

Why do people seem to pretend that manga is the first comics market to thrive outside the auspices of the Direct Market? Comic strip collections have managed to thrive in mainstream bookstores for years, serving their own unique audience, without ever being the subject of a string of essays about what Marvel's doing wrong vis-a-vis Dilbert.

Go, Look: Nick Abadzis' Forthcoming Laika


Let Comics Reporter Serve You

After the scene by scene report gets the rest of the way up to speed, what do you think this site should pursue as its next resources project? A listing of university and museum holdings in North America? A chat room? A bibliography section by author? Ongoing critical projects like "Top 100 Superhero Stories" or something? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Go, Visit: Vess/Kaluta Exhibit in NYC


I have a hard time keeping track of events sponsored by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon art, and my eyes tend to glaze over on art exhibits generally, but Charles Vess sent along the above poster and the description below of a show he's doing with Michael Kaluta, and I realized I would really want to go look at this were I in New York this Fall. Of special interest to me would be the charcoal drawings.
Michael and I are exhibiting 25 pieces each.

My work includes two complete stories from The Book of Ballads, several misc. pages from other stories in the collection, two large (4 x 8 ft) charcoal drawings and the cover to Stardust.

Kaluta is showing several pieces from both his Tolkien and Celtic calendars as well as covers to misc. books.

The exhibition will run through January 6th of 2006.

I doubt people still take Fall trips to New York to go Christmas shopping and see plays the way they might have in the 1940s through 1970s, but this would be a great thing to step in and scope while in town on just such a journey.

Some Thoughts I Had Later in the Day, After Watching Early Sportscenter

Concerning Warren Ellis' new site The Engine and comics chat in general:

1. Is there honestly that much common ground shared by working and wannabe creators?
2. Do you ever get the sense that when discussing industry issues, people are severely limited by only being able to conceive of an industry in which they play a vital role, both creators and pundits?
3. Why do comics folk almost always prefer grand, clever solutions that ameliorate or mitigate against problems rather than confronting and reforming them?

Go, Visit: Ganzfeld Exhibit in LA


While I'm mentioning art shows, I'd also go to see this Ganzfeld one at Junc Gallery in Los Angeles, curated by Dan Nadel, were I in Los Angeles.

For the Dangerously Bored (Like Me)

Between this link provided by Gus Mastrapa and this write-up by Graeme McMillan at Fanboy Rampage, you should be able to track Mr. John Byrne's tussle with Wikipedia, if you are so inclined.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

September 17, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, September 10 to September 16, 2005:

1. A presumed roll-out of new sales terms and policies from Diamond Comic Distributors becomes widely known without, oddly, an official press statement or even, really, confirmation (perhaps it's all a dream). The policies as cobbled together by interested parties are believed to have the most significant impact on small press comics.

2. Viz Media finds partner for formal expansion into Europe.

3. Publishers Weekly to launch free weekly newsletter covering comics, graphic novels and manga; Calvin Reid as editor.

Winner of the Week
Blank Label and those participating in their webcomics telethon for Hurricane Katrina victims, an effort that went up quickly and smoothly.

Losers of the Week
If those conjectured Diamond sales terms develop as many expect, then comic shops that rely on pre-orders of certain items will have to take a hard look at whether they want to bother doing pre-orders on books that may be cancelled after being listed.

Quote of the Week
"Super heroes remain as super as ever, but much that was heroic has been leached from their character in the false name of art and complexity." -- Prominent retailer Buddy Saunders in the midst of a debate on the business site about the idea that the overly gritty and grim superhero comics out right now have, ultimately, limited sales appeal.

French edition of Nausicaa underlines the opportunities of the European markets and Viz Media's new effort to pursue them -- a huge, established appetite for manga combined with a number of existing publishing deals.
posted 6:41 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Superman/Batman #15
Full Moon Fever
Humor Can Be Funny!
Salamander Dream
posted 6:38 am PST | Permalink

September 16, 2005

McDonnell Art Sale For Katrina Animals

This newsbrief becomes noteworthy for a few reasons: one, it's another cartoonist among many making an effort to help; two, McDonnell has never offered art for sale before, I don't think; three, I think it's worth noting that although I'm certain it's not been his intention, McDonnell has recently done a lot of charity and outside work in a way I think has inadvertently but positively raised his profile in an area of cartooning that could use a high-profile, thoughtful representative.
posted 8:38 am PST | Permalink

World War III Illustrated Hits 25


That I was reminded of this on the business site proves what an odd place the long-running politically-minded anthology has in the comics world. Sounds like a great issue.
posted 8:37 am PST | Permalink

CB Cebulski: Anthology Forthcoming

The first news shaken loose by Warren Ellis' "The Engine" chat site: a planned international anthology based on the manga anthology approach.
posted 8:36 am PST | Permalink

Event Throws Focus on Marcus Hamilton

imageOver at the Fantagraphics Books blog, Eric Reynolds writes an almost out-of-left-field mini-tribute to current Dennis the Menace artist Marcus Hamilton on the occasion of an event in Charlotte related to FBI's printing of the Ketcham run. I liked this piece because when archival projects start up, the artist who's doing the strip now usually gets buried by association -- which no matter what your thoughts on whether strips should continue past their creators' passing usually doesn't need to happen as spitefully as it sometimes does. One thing that pops into my head if you look at that first Dennis book is how soul-destroyingly difficult it must be to work to anything close to Ketcham's signature style.
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink

Beyond the News of Record

Here's why I don't always trust the magazine-of-record approach to publishing news in comics. Take this one making the rounds and appropriately linked to by The Beat. Apparently, Anne Elizabeth Moore of Punk Planet and formerly of The Comics Journal has been hired to coordinate a series of Best American Graphic Narratives books for Houghton Mifflin, working with celebrity guest editors -- the first being Harvey Pekar. Fair enough. Sounds good.

On the other hand, Moore was either fired or forced out on the verge of being fired for performance reasons from her position at the Comics Journal, a position she held for her general writing background despite knowing relatively little about comics. Perhaps her next most applicable comics-related experience, co-founding and editing the comics-friendly Seattle magazine Matte, collapsed almost immediately amid rumors of acrimony over the debt incurred. Months after leaving Fantagraphics, Moore made several assertions in a magazine article of having had to work in a sexually charged workplace, which all by itself puts her in an awfully weird if not untenable position vis-a-vis that major publisher of what one figures will be a lot of best graphic narratives-eligible material -- and because it's a best-of-year book, publishers will still have this material in print, likely increasing their interest and role. Just to emphasize this may not be all easily relegated to the past, it's my understanding that an alt-comics figure turned down Pekar's role with the first book in part because of Moore's involvement.

It should be an interesting series of "best of medium" books, anyway. And it makes me wonder how many news-of-record briefs have a similar second side.
posted 8:18 am PST | Permalink

Analysis of Viz Media’s New Euro-Deal

This long essay of initial thoughts concerning Viz Media's new partnership in Europe makes several good points, including that a passion for manga in many countries means that many key series already have publishers there.
posted 7:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Huizenga Book Covers

posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink

William Messner-Loebs Debuts Blog

If nothing else, maybe this will assist in keeping track of updates on the sometimes-troubled, well-liked cartoonist and writer.
posted 7:39 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Marvel Artist Likes Bar Fights, Being Knocked Out
Spectrum Show Ongoing; Peak Show Coming Up
Columnist Wishes Death on Old Strips
Pittsburgh Comics Artist Gathering
Guardian Profiles Wack-Job Comic
Indiana Loves Kyle Baker
Not Comics: Free Bone Game Downloads Await Computers Less Crappy Than Mine
Art Spiegelman to Speak in Salem
Cole, Draughon Basically Swap Jobs

September 15, 2005

VIZ Media Sets Up Euro-Company

VIZ Media will work with partner Copyright Promotions Licensing Group, Ltd to form a new company, VIZ Media B.V., that will seek to maximize the European comics markets, most if not all of which are already fascinated with manga to the extent that a significant percentage of books is given over to such material every year. This feels important, though, both in terms of what it could mean to that specific world of comics and what it says about the importance to VIZ and its parent corporations about maximizing foreign markets right now.
posted 7:14 am PST | Permalink

Vladimir Volkoff, 1932-2005

imageVladimir Volkoff, a writer in various forms including comics has recently passed away, according to reports from his publisher widely disseminated in French media. Volkoff's parents fled to France from Russia at the tail end of World War I. After the conflict in Algeria, Volkoff moved to the United States, living near Atlanta for 11 years. His comics series were Alexandre Nevsky and Saint Vladimir, le Soleil radieux, both I believe with Paul Teng. His novels included Metro pour L'Enfer, Le Retournement, and The Underdog Appeal. He also wrote on various non-fiction subjects as his interests drove him, and pursued a wide variety of hobbies.
posted 7:04 am PST | Permalink

Iranian Artist: “US Army” Book


A series of cartoons from Iranian cartoonist Massoud Shojai Tabatabai built around the theme of missives directed at members of the US Armed is scheduled for book publication as Only For The USA Army. Daryl Cagle ran a series of these cartoons at his popular political cartoon resource as "How Iran Views America."
posted 6:48 am PST |

Pierre Spengler on Buying Humanoides

imageI almost missed this short interview with Pierre Spengler on buying Humanoides Associes, I think almost exactly a year ago. It actually felt a bit too breezy on my first pass, but supplied more than few nuggets of information. Spengler describes the motivation to buy Humanoides as a combination of having access to potential film properties and being able to pick up a publishing house where the staff was mostly in place. He also denies rumors he's looking to re-sell, and expresses regret that he did not at one time pursue the purchase of DC Comics. He even speaks to the move by Enki Bilal from Humanoides to Casterman.
posted 6:41 am PST | Permalink

Retailers Debate Superhero Content

The Buddy Saunders piece I pulled out of yesterday seems to be part of a minor brush ware among various retailers about the nature of today's superhero market. Steve Bennett seems to have been the one to start things rolling; in this piece he talks about something I'd never thought about before, that the sprawling, serial nature of superhero funnybooks starting in the 1970s forced a shift in emphasis on the villainous threats facing the various heroes.
posted 6:36 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Your Japan Top Ten: Fighty + Funny
Hope Larson Profiled at CBR Hurricane Poll Results
Chris Ware on His NY Times Magazine Gig
Hermann: Guest of Honor at Lucca
Not Comics: Chat With Neil Gaiman

September 14, 2005

PW Launches Comics Weekly 9-27

A few months ago someone asked me why no one had done a weekly news periodical about comics and I replied in part that probably no one wanted to do one because they figured that Reed/Publishers Weekly would end up doing one. Well, looks like I was right. Usual suspects. It should be interesting to have a magazine of record-type publication weighing in.

[Edited because that looked awful. It was the first thing that popped into my head, though.]
posted 3:18 pm PST | Permalink

Katrina Cartoonists On Relocation, Work

Steve Kelley of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, currently set up in San Diego, discusses his move and work right now in an Editor and Publisher piece worth checking out. In a related Association of American Editorial Cartoonists article, Kelley is discussed along with other newspaper cartoonists whose lives were disrupted by the recent hurricane.
posted 10:48 am PST | Permalink

Update: Diamond’s New Order Policies


There's been a tiny bit of heat on yesterday's wider awakening to new sales standards from comic book industry giant Diamond Comics Distributors, a story I tried to unpack here. The new material comes mostly from columnists and industry observers like Heidi MacDonald and Steven Grant, and on industry message boards like those at The Engine and The Comics Journal, even retailers like Jason Richards and those on the CBIA forum.

There are a few things worth noting about the public discussion thus far.

1. The argument that Diamond should maintain a low participation threshold in order to provide opportunities for slow-developing hits is not a cause and effect argument; it's really risk analysis. Books like Bone, Cerebus, and Love and Rockets were creatures of their respective eras, and 500 in sales means something different then and now. They illustrate the possibility of what can be lost, not the certainty of what will be.

2. In fact, the dearth of more recent examples suggests the DM may now be unable to create hits like those books, or at least may suck far worse at it now. Ironically, this may serve the case for Diamond's new policy by mitigating the costs of losing such books. Neglecting the low-end of the direct market creates a reality that leads to dumping it becoming a good idea.

3. Seeing potential benefits or expressing empathy for a business decision in no way means an endorsement of the morality involved.

4. Nor is it a prediction of success. I feel some of my peers are too quick in assuming the benefits of streamlining that will come only via the effective execution of this new policy.

5. It's crucial that we look at these issues in a broad context regarding the shape and scope of the American comic book direct market. It would be very, very comics culture to let loose with the indictments regarding certain low-end suppliers -- "Honestly, you don't deserve to be here" -- and fail to hold Diamond to the same scrutiny.

Here's a question I think comes up if this story continues to develop. Since Diamond is now making distinctions about which publishers and projects are worth allowing access to the market, and since they cite an overall market good as a justification for making this distinction, shouldn't they now act on those standards by dismantling their outdated system of selling marketing information for pay?

Has the direct market failed Finder, Finder failed the direct market, both, or neither?
posted 10:22 am PST | Permalink

Egon: New Binky Brown, ICAF Guests

Web resource Egon Labs updated yesterday with its usual slew of obscurely-gleaned but incredibly useful art-comics information. The two at the top of the list right now are news of a new Justin Green Binky Brown book and a breakdown of the guests that will be attending the comics-scholar forum ICAF this year.
posted 10:19 am PST | Permalink

Go, Visit: Webcomics Telethon


The good thing about a webcomics telethon, one supposes, is that the moment this "broadcast" stops being live it goes perpetually into "repeats".
posted 10:16 am PST | Permalink

Buddy Saunders on Nihilistic Comics

It's interesting to read Lone Star Comics' Buddy Saunders on the current wave of making-the-poop-face, serious as a heart attack in a war zone while writing a constitution superhero comics that are being pushed by the big mainstream publishers right now. What I found intriguing about the essay is that Saunders seem to be coming from a position of general indictment about this kind of art's utility, popularity and perhaps even general morality rather than the more commonly held position that marrying adult themes and ideas to broad, colorful children's icons is a rotten idea. It's an intriguing read for that point of view.

By putting the blame on companies for producing this sort of material, Saunders may also be soft-peddling the role of the direct market as enabler, partly due to a retailers culture that prefers to sell books they themselves enjoy and partly due to stores being generally helpless before whatever the Big Two want to push.
posted 10:01 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Well, This is Fairly Adorable
Profile of Asian On-Line Comics World
Great Photo of Tyler, Green in Cincy Scene Profile
Doesn't Understanding Comics Use Insider Narrative Throughout?
Pekar Talks About The Quitter

September 13, 2005

Diamond Sets Stricter Sales Terms

It's been talked about unofficially via e-mail for a few days now, then on public chat sites, and now Rich Johnston has I think the first mention of it on a major site with a discussion in his popular gossip column. Essentially, it looks like Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., by far the dominant distributor of comic books and related material to English-language comic book shops, has decided to 1) raise the bar a bit for what it expects sales-wise from books it carries, 2) stop orders mid-process for those books that fall way below those expectations, and 3) to potentially extend those expectations to O/A or "offered again" books. O/A is a way publishers have been able to sell certain books through several month's worth of listings that lead to incremental orders rather than the bulk in one shot upon initial release.

I've just begun to fashion a coherent opinion on this; in fact I haven't seen anything first-hand to confirm the story. But the mind races ahead and the Internet gobbles it up, so last night I fell easily into a speculative mood about this or any future attempt to limit access to the direct market in some way through Diamond.

My reporter's version of Spider-Sense (aka "Hangover Sense") applied to the above scenario says that it's how strictly Diamond enforces any potential O/A portion of a new policy that will be key. My guess is that even if enacted there will be some leeway in enforcement on any O/A orders, particularly for publishers trying to float one or two books that fail to meet levels among a sea of those that safely do. I could be totally wrong. In general, if Diamond really gets what I think is their desired result, a streamlined Previews catalog that ostensibly makes it easier for retailers to focus money and attention on works with a greater chance for success, then as a comics historian I'll likely look back and be sort of amazed that it took them this long to make the attempt.

Don't get me wrong. As a fan of art, this kind of thing always makes my stomach hurt. I'm a supporter of the North American small press. Limiting these works' access to the Direct Market could cost that market some excellent material, foil an endearing tradition inherent to the Direct Market of odd material winding up in unlikely places, and even keep works that could one day become profitable over the long term from ever finding needed traction. There's an argument to be made that comics has no business closing any doors that could potentially lead to the next big wave of successful, medium-defining works. There is a moral consideration, too. Due in great part to its aggressive business moves in the early to mid-1990s seeking exclusive partnerships with large publishers, Diamond has become the sole distributor of its size and market penetration. In an intimate field like comics, it's not too much to expect that Diamond recognize the historical circumstances that have given it full control over an entire segment of the business and, as a result, seek policies that mitigate restrictions on participation that may result.

On the other hand, I sympathize with Diamond's desire to move in this direction. It's not only lazy retailers complaining that Previews is much too big and contains too many books of dubious professional quality. Many excellent retailers have conveyed to me some variation of this; many medium-sized publishers and their representatives complain about this off the record, and many creators do, too. I think the desire for a thinner catalog -- or at least the idea of a thinner catalog representing a higher bar for participation -- is out there in significant force. I'm not sure it's the kind of idea that really precedes a change in ordering behavior. I don't expect the owner of Don's Danger Room to suddenly exclaim, "With all those micro-press titles clogging my view, I never noticed this Kevin Huizenga fellow until just now. I must have 100 copies of his latest pamphlet." I do, however, feel for anyone having to wade through so much muck when a non-returnable order is at stake. If Diamond's move came with the promise of further policy changes to make publishers better partners for the retailers they serve, that might be a great positive. Although I don't think anyone's track record goes beyond recognizing a possibility, sometimes first steps take place on their own, months and years ahead of time.

I also feel for Diamond simply wanting to make a forceful impact, to kick-start the market. The culture of comics enjoys this strange proclivity for falling into static ways of doing business that lets apologists excuse lousy business practices as "just the way things are" and leads others to expect certain arrived-at business arrangements as benefits to which they have a right simply by showing up. Does any entertainment industry have a lower threshold of participation or a more refined sense of entitlement? With the direct market slightly moribund for a while now, and with growth in other market areas, it's difficult to automatically fault Diamond for a move or two that could potentially shake up all that's logy, even if the moves end up being terribly misguided or if they conveniently apply that principle to the end of a market that can't fight back.

There are the art versus commerce arguments, too. It's not like great work goes all the way away if there's a higher threshold for participation in certain markets; idiosyncratic personal expression finally has a modest commercial foothold in an industry that resisted it for a long, long time; it won't likely be wiped out by any one policy change. One holds out hope that what would be hit hardest is the four-color, 3-AM-on-HBO movie pitches on papers from unctuous mini-moguls. And what do suppliers lose that they weren't already doing without? If, as it's believed, a certain percentage of stores are outright hostile to anything other than a small selection of comic books starring Spider-Man or superhero lobotomies or whatever, are they any more likely to order small-run books just because they're in Previews? It isn't 1987 any longer; no one's ordering everything. Is there a noteworthy advantage to having a two-graph blurb on your work thumbed through by some scowling comic shop guy for 0.35 seconds? Won't the good stores order books they're passionate about anyway? Don't we really just lose those 1- and 2-copy pity orders that many stores make because they wish to support new efforts on principle?

Yeah, I don't know, either.

What I do know is that this particular clock's been ticking since 1995. A ringing noise shouldn't surprise anyone.

Postscript -- According to this post on cartoonist Jason Marcy's LiveJournal, one small press company has just decided to call it a day, although if and how much this policy announcement might have had an effect isn't known.
posted 4:25 am PST | Permalink

SPX: Pekar GoH, Ignatz Nominees

imageIn a series of announcements days before the show, the Small Press Expo taking place on the 23rd and 24th at the Holiday Inn in Bethesda, Maryland, has let the world know it has a guest of honor: legendary late-period underground figure and autobiographical comics pioneer Harvey Pekar. I believe the writer will be making his first appearance at the show, and has a new book out this Fall, The Quitter, with art by SPX cornerstone Dean Haspiel. The Expo will be open 2-8 PM Friday the 23rd and 10 AM - 7 PM on Saturday the 24th, returning to its traditional laidback Sunday schedule of intermingling among cartoonists. All profits go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

With the move back to a Friday/Saturday floor schedule, that means the Ignatz Awards will be held on the 24th and will provide the weekend's high point in a way that a Sunday ceremony and its lighter crowds could not. SPX announced nominees this morning, including those for the debut-at-the-show award.

The SPX web site, including the formal press releases and a better look at cartoonist Josh Neufeld's program cover featuring Pekar, can be found here.


* David B., Epileptic (Pantheon), Babel (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Jeffrey Brown, Bighead (Top Shelf Productions)
* Roger Langridge, Fred the Clown (Fantagraphics)
* Seth, Clyde Fans Book 1 (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Craig Thompson, Carnet de Voyage (Top Shelf Productions)

* Above and Below: Two Tales of the American Frontier, James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Dead Herring Comics, edited by Actus, (Actus Independent Comics)
* Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man, John Porcellino (La Mano)
* Fred the Clown, Roger Langridge (Fantagraphics)
* Hutch Owen: Unmarketable, Tom Hart (Top Shelf Productions)

* Bighead, Jeffrey Brown (Top Shelf Productions)
* Carnet de Voyage, Craig Thompson (Top Shelf Productions)
* Cinema Panopticum, Thomas Ott (L'Association, Fantagraphics)
* Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
* Why Are You Doing This?, Jason (Fantagraphics Books)

* Dogs and Water, Anders Nilsen (Drawn and Quarterly)
* "Dumb Solitaire," Love and Rockets #11 and #13, Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* "Homme De Le Bois," The Frank Ritza Papers, David Collier (Drawn & Quarterly)
* The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, Dennis P. Eichorn and J.R. Williams (Top Shelf Productions)
* "Onion Jack," Superior Showcase #0, Joel Priddy (AdHouse Books)

* Joshua W. Cotter, Skyscrapers of the Midwest (AdHouse Books)
* Rebecca Dart, RabbitHead (Alternative Comics)
* Vanessa Davis, Spaniel Rage (Buenaventura Press)
* Andy Runton, Owly (Top Shelf Productions)
* Karl Stevens, Guilty (Karl Stevens Publishing, dist. by Alternative Comics)

* Bipolar, Tomer Hanuka, Asaf Hanuka, and Etgar Keret (Alternative Comics)
* Deadpan, David Heatley (Self-published)
* Finder, Carla Speed McNeil (Lightspeed Press)
* Love and Rockets vol. II, Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Skyscrapers of the Midwest, Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse Books)

* Dogs & Water, Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Love & Rockets #13, Los Bros. Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Love & Rockets #12, Los Bros. Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* Or Else #1, Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Worn Tuff Elbow #1, Marc Bell (Fantagraphics)

* Couch Tag #2, Jesse Reklaw (Self-published)
* Dance, John Hankiewicz (Self-published)
* Monday, Andy Hartzell (Self-published)
* Ouija Interview #3, by Sarah Becan (Self-published)
* Phase 7, Alec Longstreth (Self-published)

* Ballad, deadmouse
* Copper, Kazu Kibuishi
* Dicebox, Jenn Manley Lee
* The Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch
* Superslackers, Steven Manale

* 676 apparitions of Killoffer, Killoffer, Typocrat Press
* Action Philosphers: Self Help For Stupid Ugly Losers #1, Ryan Dunlavy & Fred Van Lente
* American Music: A-Z, Ben Towle
* Big Fat Whale's Sea Anomie, Brian McFadden
* Conversations #2, James Kochalka & Jeffrey Brown, Top Shelf Productions
* The Dada Alphabet, An Absurdist's Primer, Freese, Milloway & Wood
* Dr. Dremo, Vol.1, DC Conspiracy
* House of Twelve's Rashoman, Cheese Hasselberger, House of Twelve
* Matriculated, Phillip Chan, Digital Pimp Productions
* Merde, Steve Ahlquist, Chris Reilly & Ben Towle
* Owly, Vol. 3, Andy Runton, Top Shelf Productions
* Pale Fire, MK Reed
* Strange Detective Tales: Dead Love #2, Jesse Bausch & Jim Callahan, Oddgod Press
* Stupid and Unkind, Robin Enrico
* Superf*ckers #2, James Kochalka, Top Shelf Productions
* The Surrogates #2, Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele, Top Shelf Productions
* True Porn, Vol. 2, edited by Robyn Chapman & Kelli Nelson, Alternative Comics
* Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?, Liz Prince, Top Shelf Productions
* Zed: Setting the Scene, Duane M. Abe, Corkey Comics

Early AM Update: I asked someone with SPX why they waited until the show was right up on us to make these announcements, and they assured me it was intentional in order to make a bigger splash closer to the show.
posted 3:32 am PST | Permalink

Buy This Print, Benefit The CBLDF


The artist explains.
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Maric (Raymond Chiavarino): 1927-2005

imageRaymond Chiavarino, who also worked as "Raymond Maric" and "Maric," has passed away. He was 78 years old. He began work in 1943 at the age of 16, and was a caricaturist following the Second World War. He moved into albums with Pour la Conquete de l'Espace, and went onto become a major writer of comics, which he continued doing for decades. Among others he worked with Jean-Claude Forest, Pellos, Baron Brumaire, Rafael Carlo Marcello and Pierre LaCroix. He also worked on several other authors' properties, and was a noted magazine editor.

His entry, from which much of this was pinched, can be found here.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Mark Marek’s Web Site

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: Epstein Talks to Clowes
Manga as a Library Hook
The Secret Origin of Allan Heinberg
Cartoonists Pay Tribute To Disney

September 12, 2005

Ashton: Guardian Drops Doonesbury

It's never good when you're a comic strip for papers to drop your strip, and even when you have several hundred clients and have grown to a size where a drop or two every so often becomes routine, there are a few severance notices worth one's attention: when your first big-paper client drops you, when your hometown paper drops you, and when a very large signature newspaper drops you.

According to Pete Ashton, the Guardian's recent re-design has led to them dropping Doonesbury, which is odd because a far as I can tell the feature is popular with the Guardian's perceived demographic and the strip is still lively in terms of generating wider interest. Ironically, Doonesbury made its name in North America in the early '70s by being dropped and then having people rally to the cause of its reintroduction. There's the beginnings of a backlash here, where we also find out it looks like the Guardian added Perry Bible Fellowship.

Noontime update: Ashton writes more formally here. A better backlash thread here.

Apparently, reading the last thread will indicate the Guardian has already caved. Worst Lead Story Ever!
posted 7:17 am PST | Permalink

Daryl Cagle: Katrina Cartoon Survey


Scroll down to the September 2 entry at Daryl Cagle's must-read blog for a survey of international responses to the hurricane disasters. The images are well-selected, although I strongly, strongly, strongly disagree with the automatic judgement that any of these men and women are taking pleasure in someone else's pain by making these points. Maybe they are, I don't know, but it's possible to be super-annoyed with someone without taking pleasure in their pain.
posted 7:07 am PST | Permalink

Another New Comic Book Shop


The interior appointments featured in the Silver Lake-based shop Secret Headquarters in beautiful Los Angeles, California look potentially exquisite enough to make me want to visit, and I get all my comics sent to me. Imagine comfortable lighting -- I cloddishly moved the brightness dial to 11 for better visibility.

The store has been open since August 27th, and will have a grand opening on the 23rd; a bunch of Steven Weissman art will go up that night and stay up for a month.
posted 6:54 am PST | Permalink

Mort Walker on NCM History

Here's Mort Walker on the National Cartoon Museum and its planned move into the Empire State Building, with a bit more history and a less certain tone overall as to its eventual success.
posted 6:41 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
The Biggest Comics Movie of the Year?
Comic Strips Catch Up With Katrina
Titan Books Collects Star Trek; Aims For Niche
Comics Readers in India Love Alan Moore

September 11, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Go, Look: Bill Wray, Painter


Special Feature/New Resource: North American Comics, Where Are You?

I'm in the midst of building a very basic "where people involved in North American comics are located" list, broken down by geographical area. Please take a look and then, if you please, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I think it's fascinating to look at where everything is, and I hope this can be a resource we can all use in various first-step ways.

It's sort of interesting, too. I knew about Montreal, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle. But Kansas City? Richmond? Halifax?
posted 8:52 am PST | Permalink

September 10, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, September 3 to September 9, 2005:

1. Three-way tie between developing stories that may have reached potentially crucial stages: Marvel pays off its loans and moves forward with film plans, which may change the way they publish and develop properties; Paypal institutes polices that help facilitate micropayments, which may boost revenue streams for certain webcomics; the New York convention run by Reed Exhibitions may have reached a tipping point in terms of space sold and publishers participating.

2. DC Comics announces two major hires in its revamped marketing department. Supposedly, the fact both are from book publishing should not be inferred as bringing help to the part of their business that markets to bookstores.

3. The New York Times announces a comics feature for its magazine, basically a serialized graphic novel. It starts with an effort by Chris Ware.

Winner of the Week
Generous fans and comics professionals from all avenues of comics who are expressing concern about victims of Hurricane Katrina and trying to do something to help.

Losers of the Week
The comics industry which despite admirable plans and pledges is likely to take a long-term business hit from lost stores, interrupted cash flow, regional economic depression and a potential dip in spending power nationwide.

Quote of the Week
"OFF WITH THY PISCATROID PATE!" -- The sword-swinging Ares, Lord of War, in Sub-Mariner #57, back before comic books had lower case letters, periods, and any attempt at more subtle dialogue.

first appearance of transitional Marvel superhero Ant Man, soon required to bring in the big movie bucks.
posted 6:13 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Comics

Sub-Mariner #57
Dumb Jersey White Boy #1-2
The Good Samaritan
Dr. Slump Volume One
Cinema Panopticum
posted 6:09 am PST | Permalink

Flash Disapproves of President

Fourth graph.
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink

September 9, 2005

Did PW Inaccurately Describe DC Hires?

Got an interesting letter from reader Tommy Raiko about yesterday's piece on the hiring of Cunningham and Kurtzman in the marketing department of DC Comics:
One comment/observation on your piece "DC Makes Major Marketing Hires"

You quote the Publishers Weekly article that first appeared in their 7 September 2005 e-newsletter PW Daily where they say these hires are moving toward their goal to "elevate the company's bookstore sales and marketing efforts and integrate them with that of the direct market (or comics shops), DC Comics' traditional retail channel."

What's interesting to me, is that the very next day, on 8 September 2005, the PW e-newsletter ran a brief follow-up "clariciation" stating:

"Although yesterday's Daily story about the hiring of two book publishing veterans by DC Comics characterized the move as an effort to 'reorient' DC's marketing efforts to the book trade, the new hires are more accurately described as an effort to grow DC Comic's business in both the direct market (comics shops) and the book trade."

Of course, if DC was mischaracterized in the initial article, it's certainly understandable that they'd ask for a correction. On the other hand, a lot of times, a company might let slide this kind of mistake in an article. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might envision a scenario where comics-direct-market advocates among DC staffers objected to the article's implications of favoring the book trade and demanded the clarification.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, that is...

I don't think you have to be a conpiracy theorist to see this as odd but telling behavior. Supposing this were asked for by DC (or hinted after strongly) rather than the writer making up in the middle of the nights in apologetic cold sweats, I don't know how DC can expect a correction on PW's analysis of a hire, let alone receive one! I also don't think Cunningham and Kurtzman add one thing of any significance when it comes to working with the comic book direct market, so PW's original point is logical and likely.

Like I hope I pointed out yesterday, I do think DC wants to maintain and improve upon its strong DM performance and there's no reason to think that a more formal marketing program or fifty won't have benefits for the DM side of their business as well. But unless they add staff that are DM-focused, and stop talking about persuing new markets, everyone and their mom is going to rightfully see this as an effort focused in some way on non-DM markets, if only in contrast to the previous marketing and sales department set-up.

To use a dreaded sports metaphor, this is like a football team signing a middle linebacker and a nickelback to improve its defense but insisting that people say the new players improve the team, so as not to piss off fans of their quarterback. DC has to walk a pretty fine line when it comes to what message it sends out, especially with comics retailers who feel as if they're not goinig to be supported as fully as they used to be. (If Marvel were doing this, they'd probably openly insult the DM in making the hires and the DM would respond by ordering more books.)

That's my take on it, anyway. And thanks!
posted 10:44 am PST | Permalink GN Boom Paces DM Shops

The business analysis site reports that graphic novels drove increases in overall sales for the direct market, despite limited growth in comic books. This seems worrisome to me for a couple of reasons. First, the maintream companies are putting a furious amunt of backing behind periodicals that may primarly shift rather than create sales. Second, at least one big spike in's chart, Tokyopop's first quarter, suggests a boost that comes from initially carrying something, which makes it unlikely to be sustained. Third, I'm not sure how many movie tie-ins exist that will lead to graphic novel sales, as with this year's Batman re-issues (Superman has a more diffuse set of books) or Sin City.

posted 7:41 am PST | Permalink

It’s Deep Thoughts and Analysis Friday!

imageTwo articles similar in tone purporting to dig into publishing issus. This long article from Book Standard contains more than any human being probably wants to know about the shot Graphix is taking with the comoics version of the Baby-Sitters Club series. It's odd to hear anyone using comics as key for focusing some marketing energy up in age rather than down, and even stranger to hear that comics is the key for making a series cool again. I'm more in the "colon blow" school of predicting sales success, in that Scholastic's ability at this moment to maximize an audience for such a book probably trumps any potential connection with target groups or rejuvenation of a franchise when it comes to putting books in bookbags.

Over here is a think-piece about the mainstream comic book companies that I think makes a little too much of the contrast in the directions indicated by recent news reports. Neither company is giving up on the avenues covered by the other company's supposed preferred direction: Marvel sells comics; DC pursues movies and toys. Since the audience for the printed work isn't a mainstream audience, this further mitigates a lot of the potential for a sustained, content-driven backlash.
posted 7:23 am PST | Permalink

A Tale of Two Titles… Two Formats, Too

imageTwo books, two different sales results. Heidi MacDonald notes that Alex Robinson's Tricked has reached the five figure mark, while Fantagraphics Co-Publisher Kim Thompson doesn't mince words about the fate of the anthology Bete Noire (which grew out of another anthology called Blood Orange). You could make a pretty fair observation about the current market from this: it favors graphic novels from known quantities that gather sales traction, and doesn't have as much room for periodical formats, unknowns, and perhaps even is experiencing some oversaturation with anthologies. This may sound like conventional wisdom, but it's still enough of a rare thing for a comic with a certain pricde point to do 10,000 stealthily, or for a comic from a pedigreed publisher to fold that quickly and thoroughly, that commenting on it seems wise.
posted 7:12 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Lone Star Collecting Comics for Dislocated Kids Loves Them Some Pantheon GNs
Warren Ellis Talk Site Launches Big
Royko Collection Includes Original Cartoons
McDonnell: Remember the Gulf Coast Animals
Crescent City's Gee Retrieved from NO
Via Mark Evanier: Fred Patten Update

September 8, 2005

DC Makes Major Marketing Hires

As rumored last week in the book trade, former St Martin's Veep and associate publisher John Cunningham has joined the previously announced hire Nellie Kurtzman in DC's new marketing department. Cunningham will be the Vice-President of Marketting; Kurtzman the Director of Marketing. Kurtzman reports to Cunningham and one assumes Cunningham reports to Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Stephanie Fierman.

For those of you catching up or suddenly interested, DC has this year basically gutted a "sales & marketing" set-up that was split into bookstore and direct market divisions by shoving that entire department into a sales group responsible for both avenues and then starting the process of hiring anew for the marketing half. It sort of made sense, as what DC was doing at the time really wasn't the kind of marketing a dedicated department would do -- it was sort of sales with an understood knowledge of marketing that comes from years in the business. The gamble is that there's going to be enough in the way of new markets reached by the new team to justify both the increased expenditure of boosting that department but also any subtle diminishing -- despite all efforts to the contrary -- of the tight relationship between the company and direct market retailers forged by years of special, focused attention.

The best coverage of the story came from Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly, who got some matter-of-fact material out of Fierman that I've wanted since early this year, such as that the goal of the refurbished department is to "elevate the company's bookstore sales and marketing efforts and integrate them with that of the direct market (or comics shops), DC Comics' traditional retail channel." This acknowledges both where the company thought it was lacking and how success will be judged. Don't believe any industry watchers who conflate this with a sudden DC interest in some wider world represented by book publishing. I think DC already turned that corner, and you can see some evidence with review and coverage emphasis over the last five years or so. I don't think this is about general publishing strategy as much as specific marketing plans. As seen in the Crisis on Infinite Tedium mini-series and the like, DC is more than willing to go supernerdy and market-manipulative in the pursuit of maximizing the direct market. Expect them to be just as dogged at pursuing what they think will work in other markets.

Also, it cracked me up when Reid reported that Fierman called Cunningham a "real comics fan," because it always seems so important to comics folk that people working on the share some degree of demented interest in the form.
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink

Pyongyang Nearly Blocked By Suit

imageIt seems terribly ironic that Guy Delisle's ruminative travel narrative about North Korea, Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea, could have been derailed not by the North Korean government he safely avoided by not working until he had gone but by a confidentiality clause. The cartoonist reveals this could have been the case -- the company he worked for, Protecrea, went out of business, rendering the point moot. The article is probably the most interesting so far in a series of solid press pieces about the D&Q English-language release of the 2003 book, including reviews like this one.
posted 7:42 am PST | Permalink

Brunetti: Anthology, Art Show, Schizo


He would probably deny it, but Ivan Brunetti on his worst day would still be a pretty smart interview; this piece at Comic Book Galaxy find Brunetti far away frmo hiis worst day. Brunetti speaks about a slew of upcoming projects that are in very different venues: an art show for Fall 2005, the imminent publication of the long-anticipated fourth issue of his solo series Schizo, and a sweeping comics anthology for Yale University Press not due for a long while yet . The interview also reminds that Ivan has one of the better web sites in terms of losing a few minutes of your day in idle gazing at art; the piece above is an illustration found there.
posted 7:21 am PST | Permalink

Fumetti to Help Fight Modern Slavery

I will run every piece of fumetti (photo comics) news given me, including this one about a story being distributed in order to thwart draonian employment arrangements in parts of Africa. As most fumetti are lit like homemade porn, I can't imagine a more effective medium to make something look creepy and unacceptable.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Comic Shop Owner Refused to Leave Cat
Comics Resurgence Trickle-Down Definitely Working
Onion's AV Club Does Battery of Reviews
New China Mieville Collection Includes Comic
Bookslut on Vanessa Davis' Spaniel Rage
Saunders: Don't Forget the Katrina Retailers
New Biography of Herge Due in 2007
Did Cartoon Make Light of Rape?
Contributors: Johnny Ryan, Richard Hell
Editorial Cartoonist Upgraded to "Pro"

September 7, 2005

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 11:55 am PST | Permalink

Katrina-Affected Comics People Update


The comics business news and analysis site has updated its coverage of members of the comic book retailing community affected by last week's weather disaster, noting that the impact will be felt by many stores without a physical loss because of a loss of capital as business has been suspended. One also supposes that in many areas comics will be a lower priority for a while as existing customers feel the pinch in more basic areas of life.

As seen above in a strip dated for today, the New Orleans Times-Picayune cartoonist Steve Kelley continues to work, this time appearing in that paper's first print edition in a while.
posted 7:17 am PST | Permalink

America Being America Once Again

In case anyone wonders if America is going to recover from the prolonged tragedy that is the Gulf Coast devastation, please note the Scott Adams anal porpoise story.
posted 7:14 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Entire Comics On-Line

There are of course many comics on-line, but putting them up in conjunction with print publishing releases in order to draw attention to the work seems to me to be a new thing. Click through the images for the Joe Casey/Tom Scioli comic book Godland #1 and the Hope Larson book effort Salamander Dream.


posted 7:06 am PST | Permalink

Walker Expects 700,000 NCM Visitors

Mort Walker puts some numbers out there for what he feels is possible in terms of visitors (700,000) and what he feels needs to be raised ($7 million) to open his National Cartoon Museum in the Empire State Building, as planned. The article also states that research ad support will be located out of the city, which I don't remember hearing discussed before.
posted 7:03 am PST | Permalink

Comics: The New Reality


It's nice to know that comics is healthy enough to support very specific shows like this one devoted to reality-based comics.
posted 6:59 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Warren Ellis Launches Discussion Board: Engine
Local Cartoonist Profile: Bert Hackett
Local Comic Shop Owner Profile: David Luebke
Film About Fandom With Which I'm Unfamiliar
Hitchens Takes Shot at Katrina Cartoons

September 6, 2005

NY Times Magazine To Run Comics

This sounds vaguely familiar, but it's being reported as new.
posted 10:55 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Changes Name, Sets Film Slate and Budget Range, Completes Loan

imageIt's not the first time they've tweaked the title, but news that Marvel is going from Marvel Enterprises to Marvel Entertainment is worth noting because the change isn't caused by financial problem and seems to reflect the company's general direction. You also have to admire the double-PR function of announcing film slate and the completion of the bad-ol'-times-hangover loan package. Not only is the film stuff in the article not comics, trying to predict the success or failure of films that haven't been made yet is a sucker's game. Nobody, and I mean nobody, had Blade pegged as the first building block of a movie franchise business. So who knows if this will work out or not. The one I hadn't heard of as a potential film before now is Hawkeye, the bow-and-arrow good guy from the abortive and much-missed Marvel tradition of carny superheroes. I always liked the cover debut of Hawkeye (click for bigger image), with its approach of, basically, "We swear this guy isn't a total joke."
posted 9:23 am PST | Permalink

Penny Arcade Expo News Wire Wrap-Up

This MTV site article picks up on a killer catchphrase for late August's Penny Arcade Expo, and also gives a general attendance report. The article also mentions a potential fifth employee for the smartly leveraged on-line comic strip enterprise, which is more than some print publishers that are at least big enough to routinely win awards.
posted 9:22 am PST | Permalink

Comics’ Katrina Support Ramps Up

Diamond has joined DC in a pledge of general support for retailers affected by Hurricane Katrina, without going to deeply into what that means and who is eligible. There is an interesting list of area codes with UPS service interrupted that should give you an idea that Diamond will be paying close attention to which stores will qualify for some help. Also, the article names a pair of stores that are considered complete loses, neither of which is the store in New Orleans I swear has to have been under several feet of water at one point, if not still -- that just goes to show how early things still are in terms of finding out what happened. Newsarama has a list of various benefits and the like being planned. I didn't see this one in my quick scan, plus there's Warren Craghead's pledge to create art that we ran here on Sunday.
posted 9:11 am PST | Permalink

Netherworld Comic Shop Burns Down

Heidi MacDonald finds a link confirming rumors of a comic shop fire over the weekend. Here's an older profile of the former Mile High Comics location. Here's the message board thread that indicated something had happened.
posted 9:05 am PST | Permalink

A Comic Strip Walks Into A Diner


One of the syndicates seems to launch a new strip over or just past Labor Day weekend. This year any such release would have to contend with the re-runs of Calvin and Hobbes that are hitting papers for the Fall season in support of the forthcoming collection. King Features has started A Lawyer, A Doctor, & A Cop, Kieran Meehan's workplace gag feature; unless I'm remembering wrong, KFS Editor Jay Kennedy told me last summer that this is the first launch during his tenure of a cartoonist not from North America -- I believe Meehan is from Ireland, although there's nothing in the promotional package that indicates this or anything else about Meehan.

Mark Evanier notes that the 75th anniversary of Blondie will continue for a while longer as the Bumsteads go on a trip that should lead to some more of that oddly unsettling crossover action.
posted 9:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Listen: Neal Adams Audio Interview
You Can't Please Anyone These Days
Yet Another Comic Shop Opens
Atlanta's Finest Comics Critics Pick Faves
A Brief History of Shanna the She-Devil
Izumi Matsumoto Draws Attention to Syndrome
Brief, Glowing Chris Ware Profile
Mainichi Kasan "5 Dummies" Controversy
Not Comics: Major Hispanic Magazine Market Setback
Death of Comics Convention Panel Teaser
'Bama Store Receives Boost From DC/Marvel Surge
Angry Cartoonist Profile: Bill Leak
Thadeus and Weez File Final Brief
Schulz Talked Cartoonist Out of Comics
Aqaii Wins Brazilian Expo Grand Prize

September 5, 2005

Paypal Improves Micropayment Facility

Comixpedia is among several sites pointing out this announcement, that the on-line pay processing giant has made changes to better process payments under $2. This could have a great impact on on-line comics sites that wish to try a micropayment plan, as the number of people who can participate through means with which they are already comfortable could increase exponentially. This is also a model of payment believed by many to have special appeal to on-line comics that don't have a massive, focused audience of the kind that enables advertising-driven models.
posted 10:58 am PST | Permalink

Working Class Hero: Something to Be


Bryan Munn provides the best comics-related Labor Day post I've read, a survey of working-class superheroes and a straightforward guess at why you don't really see them anymore.
posted 10:48 am PST | Permalink

Quesada: DC/Marvel Rivalry is Good

imageI really appreciate the Joe Quesada Friday interviews that Matt Brady does at Newsarama. Because Quesada is pressed but not hounded, they're a great way to discover what seems to be Marvel Editorial's gut-take on various industry issues. The latest chat has some apt Quesada commentary on the Marvel/DC Amalgam crossover of ten years ago or so as kind of a creative last resort, which is what it felt like at the time. The commentary on competition that dominates the Q&A is even more interesting but feels mostly wrongheaded. The opposite of competing with DC doesn't have to be cooperating with DC; it can be declining to make competition a priority. Until improving the markets becomes a greater priority than boosting market share, the direct market portion of the industy is likely to absorb most of the collateral damage and feel most of the neglect.
posted 9:46 am PST | Permalink

Call for Wiki-Style Site On Webcomics

Xavier Xerxes of Comixpedia throws his weight upon the idea, basically a text-driven resource describing webcomics that would circumvent's demands for relevancy/popularity, here. One of the Eric Burns posts and subsquent discussions about such a project can be found here. Although they're not strict enough to be automatically cited without some double-checking, contributor-driven resource sites can be a very useful aid in researching and writing about comics. I use GCD quite a bit in putting together articles for this site.

Oh, here it is.
posted 9:22 am PST | Permalink

NY Comic-Con: Site Live, Values Sought

Reed Exhibitions' planned comics trade show for February, the New York Comic-Con, released a PDF press paper this morning I'll try to put up in the Commentary section at right for your downloading fun. The web site is here. This new sheet announces Tokyopop, Simon and Schuster, Viz Media, Pantheon, Del Rey, Wizards of the Coast, and DreamWorks; the site includes Diamond, Marvel, DC, and ADV in the "sponsored and supported by" section. The release is also heavy on allaying fears of a too-expensive show, which means they at least have done their homework.
posted 9:08 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: Chris Ware Profiled at Salon
New Home For Clovis Brown
Michael Vance Remembers Dave Berg
Newsday on Alex Robinson, Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Local Cartoonist Profile: Sho Murase
Matt Coyle's Latest "so far ahead of anything out there"

September 4, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Initial Thought of the Day

If Diamond were to instigate aggressive measures in order to promote new direct market stores, would existing stores support this or see such benefits as an unfair advantage given a business rival?

Let Warren Craghead Draw You Something


The great Warren Craghead sent this charity-related note:
Following the lead of a bunch of other area artists, I'm starting a scheme to raise money for the victims of Katrina, similar to a thing I participated in
last year to raise money for the Kerry campaign.

For a 25$ donation I will draw ANYTHING you want -- name it, I'll draw it (well, nothing too sick). If you like I'll pick something. I'm a pretty good drawer. The drawing may include collage. Contact me via email. I'll do this project for one month, until October 2, and I'll post here what I send out.

As an added bonus I'll throw in a couple books I've made, and I'll put you on the postcard-drawing list.

All the cash will go to the Katrina relief fund at MercyCorps.

Craghead can be e-mailed .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Go, Read: Tangentially Related to Labor Day Comics


I tried to find some nice, modern pro-labor cartoons, or even a nice historical survey, but as I didn't think much of what I was able to dig up you're probably better off looking at some politically-charged work by good cartoonsists who were extremely pro-labor.

That's Crockett Johnson above: "Just because your greedy workmen decide to go on strike I can't have a new Mercedes. Somehow it doesn't seem fair."

Go, Read: Chris Oliveros Madness

imageThe driving force behind Drawn and Quarterly is featured on this alt-weekly page and interviewed on this one. It should be a big Fall for Drawn and Quarterly, mostly for a trio of books: Wimbeldon Green, Pyongyang, and The Push Man, all of which are very worth reading and each of which should find a publicty toehold of some sort in the weeks ahead.

Scans from the New Yorker preview of his line's Wimbledon Green can be found here.

Sim and Gerhard Hit Campus


Mr. Grumpypants Sits on a Panel

Honor America's workforce by listening to those of us who sit at home in our underwear, typing. Ian Brill has posted an MP3 of last summer's bloggers-about-comic panel hosted by Mr. Mark Evanier. No, I did not just wake up. Yes, I always sound like that.

2003 photo of Oliveros by Whit Spurgeon
posted 3:34 am PST | Permalink

September 3, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, August 27 to September 2, 2005:

1. The 2005 Penny Arcade Expo, an outgrowth of a specific marketing approach embraced by the folks behind the Penny Arcade webcomic, enjoys another reportedly successful year in Bellevue, Washington.

2. By agreement of both sides, the motion on hearings in the Gordon Lee case has been moved from September 8 to December 1. The trial planned to start September 12 will not be rescheduled until after those hearings.

3. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists puts Clay Bennett in their top post and arranges for officers and a board of heavy-hitters. Their newly refashioned web site, which will host members' cartoons, advocate for various positions and host the group's educational programs, debuted on the same day.

Winners of the Week
Fans of the comic book legend Jack Kirby, who saw the first steps taken towards a museum celebrating the artist's life with a dedicated web site.

Losers of the Week
Artists and comics retailers who lost homes, lost businesses or even simply lost a city that was a big part of their artistic identity as Hurricane Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast. Others struggled with the displacement in regional population that came with the evacuations in a really tough week.

Quote of the Week
"Manga are not comics. Both manga and comics are forms of graphic storytelling... but so are kids' picture books, but we wouldn't call those comics." -- Comics commentator Pat O'Neill applying the buckshot school of criticism to manga, basically shouting "Nuh-uh!" at every optimistic prediction by pro-manga fans.

close-up of classic Jack Kirby panel
posted 6:39 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

The Complete Crumb Comics Volume 17
Hero Camp #4
Cryptic Wit
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink

September 2, 2005 Post-Katrina Retailer Fates exercised its connections to find out about some of the comics industry retailer people affected by Hurricane Katrina, in particular those in New Orleans. The big New Orleans comics shop, Crescent City Comics & Cards, was at 6111 Elysian Fields Avenue, which although close to some higher ground on what looks like the University of New Orleans campus was more than five feet below sea level, at least according to my squinty eye leveled at various elevation maps.

Comics Buyer's Guide is discussing this tragedy and past efforts, while the story says writer Peter David has pledged royalties from the first issue of his new Spider-Man series. There are print and on-line charity works being put together.
posted 6:52 am PST | Permalink

Clay Bennett: New Prez of AAEC

Clay Bennett of the Christian Science Monitor leads a powerful line-up of successful editorial cartoonists named as officers and advisors to the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Yesterday also marked the debut of their new web site, which they hope to become the center of their dwindling but still effective and listened-to trade.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

Interview With R. Kikuo Johnson


R. Kikuo Johnson gets his first interview in a media push that should see extra emphasis to make sure his debut work Night Fisher gets into as many hands as possible. With as many heavy hitters as there are around Christmas time any more, it's easy for a young cartoonist's book to slip between the cracks. Johnson's work is really approachable and easy to read, and should find an audience with the tiniest bit of reflected enthusiasm from booksellers and journalists.

If you're in the mood to read about an artist with whom the savvy art-comics fan is probably more familiar, here's a profile of the great Carol Tyler.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Sorting out Tinlot to Fluide Glacial

Between this letter from Darko Macan and this letter from Herve Largeaud, it's possible to understand of the half-gossipy, half-publishing news story of editorial changes at Fluide Glacial.
posted 1:22 am PST | Permalink

Gil Thorp Hoops Season Gears Up


Above is the cover for the next Gil Thorp collection: Playdown Pandemonium! Gil Thorp is a square-jawed sports continuity strip that still runs in several papers. Those of us who grew up in the Midwest, particularly with the Chicago Tribune, are well aware of its oddball, old-school charm. These collections are for the hardcore fans that prefer the world of Milford High put onto paper by strip creator Jack Berrill -- in fact, the number of advance orders determine the print run. If you aren't on the mailing list already, I doubt you're going to be dropping nearly $40 on the collection. But in case you're interested I'll upload the flier into the commentary section. It's an interesting example of micropublishing for a limited but passionate audience.
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Steve Gerber's Brush With Death?
Apparently, Frazz May Be Influenced by Calvin and Hobbes
Washington Post Launches "Toles Vs. Toles"
PPV Interview With Brian Michael Bendis?
Interview With Ireland's Bob Byrne

September 1, 2005

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

Reaching out to some artists and writers who used to live in the Gulf Coast area, or still make their home nearby, for their perspective on the week's news thus far.

I have a bunch of other e-mails and phone calls out to artists in the general region that if answered will lead to me doing an update.
posted 1:05 pm PST | Permalink

Katrina Forces Contingency Plans

The extent of the devastation of the Gulf Coast area including New Orleans has caused many with connections to the area both direct and tangential to struggle grasping it all. MSNBC notes that local newspaper the Picayune-Times has gone on-line for now; their cartoonist Steve Kelley has also updated on-line.

I disagree with the timing of the DC Comics' press release pledging support to retailers. As it's not the help that meets the more immediate needs of those communities, and many people are still rightfully grappling with the immensity of what has happened, I feel the public declaration of DC's intent could have waited a few days. I very much applaud the program, though, and its sentiment, and look forward to unpacking all such efforts later on through this site. Scroll down a bit in that article and you'll see Matt Brady does a nice job of describing past efforts to give this one a probable context.
posted 9:45 am PST | Permalink

CBLDF Seeks Deputy Director

Jobs in the comics industry are rare enough that every one is worth noting. It looks like this position was created so that the Fund can better handle its ambitious fundraising over the long term without strategic and administrative tasks suffering. The press release is very specific about what the Fund is looking for.
posted 9:34 am PST | Permalink

Sushi Is Not Food


Veteran comics commentator Pat O'Neill has leapt out of the Usenet/CompuServe mid-1990s and into the modern blog era with a long disquisition on why manga aren't comics and how the Comics Journal's current managing editor Dirk Deppey is oh-so-wrong in his recent editorial about the importance of Asian comics to the North American market. It's such a perfect distillation of a specific point of view I can't pass up inviting you to rap on the plexiglass and take a look for yourself.

I swear this page from something called Full Metal Panic! is the first thing I grabbed off my manga shelf; it was too funny not to use. Sorry, Pat.
posted 9:14 am PST | Permalink

Comics Adaptations Hit Midwest Stages

The comic book adaptation to stage is a pretty common feature story, right below the local cartoonist profile in terms of dependability. I'm not used to seeing two on the same day: Hack/Slash hits the boards in its publisher's hometown of Chicago, while a Choose Your Own Adventure superhero play -- interest in which at this exact moment could serve as a pretty effective geek litmus test -- ends its run in Columbus.
posted 9:03 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Hooters Hires Woman With Strange, Square Head
Feature Articles That Won't Die
Marceline's Disney Toonfest Gears Up
Site Goes After Gaza Strip "Myths"
Local Cartoonist Profile: Justin Hall
Superhero Swap-Out Coming for Baldo
Top 10 Manga in Japan For July
Mantova Loaded With A-List Guests
Free Webcomics: More Fun, Ped X-ing

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