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

November 30, 2005

Gordon Lee Case: Hearings and Auction

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is launching seven eBay auctions today at 3 ET to help defray costs from the Gordon Lee case. The Lee case will move into hearings on motions to dismiss charges tomorrow. Lee is charged with two counts of "Unlawful Dissemination of Nudity/Sexual Conduct Law" and five counts of "Distributing Harmful to Minors Material" for accidentally providing a minor with a copy of Alternative Comics #2, a giveaway comic that had brief instances of non-sexual male nudity in its pages. These are stupid laws, unfortunately applied.

Items being offered include:
* All Star Batman & Robin #1, the RRP Variant edition signed by Jim Lee & Frank Miller, CGC Graded 9.8
* Original Jonathan Luna Spider-Woman art;
* Original Jaime Hernandez Hopey art
* Hellblazer #27 signed by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
* Serenity novelization signed by cast members and other luminaries.

The auction initiative is planned for two weeks. CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein also suggests that members look into dues renewal or an additional end-of-the-year gift.

To bid on this week's auctions, please visit
posted 11:32 am PST | Permalink

Doonesbury Weighs In on Torture Issue


Here's a compact little feature at Editor & Publisher on how cartoonist Garry Trudeau put together Sunday's cartoon drawing on an old quote about fraternity hazing. I'm not sure of the quality of the shot Trudeau takes at President Bush here, as my experience is the vast, vast majority of fraternity hazing is done with the permission of the hazed, which would seem to me an important difference, but it's a nice look at how Trudeau assembles something like this.
posted 8:47 am PST | Permalink

Mike Russell’s Aeon Flux History Comic

posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Fortune Favors the Bold

Fortune Magazine's profile of AD Vision proves interesting on a variety of levels, and provides some insight as to how these companies are different than both traditional book publishers workingin comics and the mainstream comics publishers/licensed property caretakers. The description of the offices reminds me of the impression one might get walking through the Martin Goodman offices in the mid- to late-1950s. The piece also suggests that sideline businesses like publishing manga are there as a satellite to the main business and will stay around as long as they're profitable, which sounds like common sense, but at the same time seems to me to suggest a different kind of commitment to a publishing model.
posted 5:56 am PST | Permalink

Christian Lax Wins Grand Prix de RTL

imageL'Aigle Sans Orteils by Christian Lax has won this year's Grand Prix de RTL, the award's second year. And... well, that's about it. I can't think of any gossipy implication of this cartoonist or publisher winning over the other people and publishers involved. The article to which this post links says the book is about the 1907 Tour de France, so please send me any and all steam-powered blood doping jokes in your possession. A full nominee list can be found here.

thanks, Steve Block
posted 5:50 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Bob Levin Interview

imageRecent Daniel Robert Epstein interviewee Bob Levin is not only someone with whom I'm friendly, I edited both books talked about. All the same, it still strikes me as really odd when a writer about comics is interviewed in the company of Stephen Root, Bam Margera and Matt Damon -- deserving, but odd -- so I thought I'd drop mention of this Suicide Girls chat here. Looks like a talk with Jim Lee was recent, too.
posted 5:41 am PST | Permalink

Lat Receives Journalism Award

One of the world's great cartoonists, Lat, real name Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, has been given a Special Jury Award at the the 2004 Malaysian Press Institute's Petronas Journalism Awards. Lat, perhaps best known for his book The Kampung Boy, worked for the New Strait Times on staff before becoming a freelancer with the Times as a major client. According to the article, the award goes to "those who have contributed significantly to journalism and society and have become an institution in their own right." Lat will soon have work available in North America via the First Second line.
posted 5:29 am PST | Permalink

Euro-Comics For REAL Beginners…

The Comics Reporter would like to congratulate its only outside contributor, Bart Beaty, who last night with Rebecca Sullivan announced the birth of future Tintin reader Sebastian Henry Beaty.
posted 5:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Al's Comics in Trouble?
Superhero Lunchboxes Under Voluntary Recall
Warren Craghead Picture at Katrina Aid Art Show
James Kochalka Wants You to Know About T-Shirts
Ballard, Washington Art Show Reviewed
NBA Star Dwyane Wade Appears in Silo Roberts Strip, Delighting Sports-Comics Crossover Audience of 3

November 29, 2005

Stan Berenstain 1923-2005


Stanley Berenstain, who with wife Janice went on to created the children's book icons The Berenstain Bears, passed away over the weekend in Pennsylvania. He was 82.

imageThe Berenstains met in art school and built on Stan's early success placing cartoons in the Saturday Review of Literature to become a successful magazine cartoon team in the 1950s -- high-profile assignments that brought them to the attention of children's book publishers. They eventually published through Theodor Geisel's Beginner Books imprint at Random House with the above work, The Big Honey Hunt. The official site is here, with a fine, brief biography here; you can see some Berenstain work before the Bears here. The published obituaries thus far are reporting that there are more than 200 books featuring the Bears.

thanks to Paul Di Filippo
posted 1:18 pm PST | Permalink

E&P Guest Article on Tribune Cuts

Editor & Publisher's site has published a piece by Chris Lamb, who did last year's well-reviewed Drawn to Extremes, on the historical importance of editorial cartoons given the Tribune Company's recent strategy of including staff cartooning positions in their overall newsroom budget slashing. This could be a slight sign of some traction on the argument for the value of these position, although I think both sides directly involved are beyond convincing of a change in their positions, and newsroom issues never play well outside the newsroom.
posted 10:24 am PST | Permalink

Co-Author Explains Ruskin Comic Book


This was announced a while ago, but Kevin Jackson gets one of those press-editorial opportunities to explain why he and Hunt Emerson turned John Ruskin's Unto This Last into a comic book. You can go to their site through the image above, but it's mostly text right now.
posted 6:46 am PST | Permalink

Lausanne Show Has Its Problems, Too

I linked to a few news stories last year about the collapse of the comics festival in Sierre, Switzerland, following the withdrawl of government support, one result of was a more-hastily-assembled-than-usual festival in Lausanne. If I'm reading it correctly, this report notes that festival's first go-round didn't do very well, and should run into the same funding problems that have blocked putting one back in Sierre.
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Jason Shiga, Peter Maresca


Learn about two of the more interesting personalities working in comics: cartoonist Jason Shiga is profiled at SFist, which conveniently links to another piece at Time. Steve Bissette interviews publisher Peter Maresca over at his blog, Myrant. Shiga, it should be noted, has a bunch of stuff up now at his site, from which the above scene is taken.
posted 6:21 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Editorial Cartoons = Unfair Trial?
New York Times Describes Mainstream Comics Battle
Cartoonist Makes Doll, Costumes, News
The Veronicas and Archie Comic Publications Make Deal
Meaning of Being Expo in Shanghai
Local Cartoonist Profile: Eric Shansby
Mallett to Speak to Race Directors

November 28, 2005

AAEC Letter to Tribune Company

The letter from Association of American Editorial Cartoonists President Clay Bennett to the Tribune Company about their job cuts, talked about last week here and elsewhere, is now on-line. Apparently it appeared on CR's spiritual godfather Romanesko at some point last week, but I missed it.
posted 4:51 am PST | Permalink

Eisner, Kubert, Tardi Up for ACBD Prize


The Association des Critiques de Bande Dessinee (ACBD) has release its list of 15 albums in the running for this year's Prix de la Critique. Books on the list favored respected veterans and critical darlings: Joe Kubert's Yossel: 19 Avril 1943, Nicolas Crecy's Periode Glacaire, Will Eisner's Le Complot, Jacques Tardi's Le Petit Bleu de la Cote Ouest, and Naoki Urusawa's Monster T. 18.

This prize went to Casterman's French-language edition of Craig Thompson's Blankets in 2004, in my estimation the crown of a strong run of European stand-alone and festival awards which that book collected or for which it was nominated, picking up a lot of publicity along the way. The next stage for the award is a finalists' list of five, to be released in concurrence with the festival at Blois.
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink

Comics Publisher Fears Losing Titles

Comics publisher Claypool has taken its attempt to bring certain titles up to Diamond's new sales standards to the attention of comicdom at large, targeting specific issues for special ordering attention as comics to bring in new readers. Claypool's driving force is industry veteran Richard Howell; its publisher is longtime comics fan Ed Via, whom I believe is from a monied family in Virginia.
posted 4:23 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Leigh Rigozzi’s Jonah

posted 4:16 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: CR’s Holiday Weekend

If you've been enjoying time away from the computer, please don't forget this site's Black Friday Shopping Guide and yesterday's essay about the Direct Market Vs. Bookstores.

By the way, how strong is comics right now that I can write an entire shopping guide and leave off Peter Maresca's Little Nemo collection, a potential book of the year? I remember contributing to "Best of Comics" article for the year 1999 and spending two days trying to find enough comics works that were published to fill out a freaking top five.
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
3000 Copies of Pyongyang in South Korea
RK Laxman's Cartoonist's History Drops
Local Cartoonist Profile: Frank Tra
Collection of Wordless Peanuts Cartoons Published
This Stunt Sounds Totally Bizarre To Me

November 27, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Essay: On DM Vs. Bookstores
I've written a short essay about concerns retailer Brian Hibbs brought back with him from a recent DC Comics summit.

Go, Read: Jules Feiffer in Book Standard

This is mostly about his latest children's book, but it's still Jules Feiffer, maybe the only cartoonist in North America who could pop on CNN standing next to the President and it wouldn't be surprising. Well, maybe it would be with this President, but you get my point. This conversation takes place because of the Kirkus Reviews Top 50 children's book features, which you can read about and access here.

Initial Thought of the Day
Does Jog - The Blog feel like the last of its kind to anyone else out there?
posted 6:56 am PST | Permalink

November 26, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, November 19 to November 25, 2005:

1. Cuts of staff cartoonists positions by the Tribune company signals to some media watchers and other interested parties the potential death of what's valuable about the American newspaper.

2. The value with which comics are held in Great Britan generates three stories: the Royal Society of Literature to look at comics in their next annual, three of forty most valued journalists of the last forty years are cartoonists, and a series of remembrances for and profiles of David Austin.

3. Everyone's publishing comics now: Phaidon plans a major re-release of works from Jean-Jacques Sempe.

Winner of the Week
Bob Lobel, who last week settled a case which as a public figure he probably couldn't have won, and this week received an apology from a newspaper that ran the offending cartoon.

Loser of the Week
Alias Comics, for re-soliciting their trades.

Quote of the Week
"The guests scheduled to appear include actors Margot Kidder and Marc McClure (the Superman movies), cartoonist Tom Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean) voice actor Bob Bergen (Porky Pig), authors Peter David and Nancy Holder, author-wrestler Mick Foley and several Playboy Playmates." -- Feature story on the well-liked Mid-Ohio Con that sounds more like one of those disturbing TV sitcom dreams where strange people of all shapes and sizes gather around the protagonist's bed.

that's Sempe
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Girls #7
The Super-Scary Monster Show Featuring Little Gloomy #1
posted 7:28 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Comics Works You'd Like to See Collected and (Back) in Print Immediately."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 2nd.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

November 25, 2005

Go, Read: The 2005 Comics Reporter Black Friday Advice and Shopping Guide


art from a 1994 Marvel Holiday Special, which I like because of Santa's extraordinarily lousy comic book reading posture.
posted 4:26 am PST | Permalink

An Ear Against the Computer Screen

Some people have taken the holiday slowdown week as an opportunity to do some serious pontificating.

Brian Hibbs re-iterates key points of his theory concerning the value of direct market retailing at Heidi MacDonald's newly re-fashioned The Beat. MacDonald expands on the subject of market direction. Christopher Butcher looks at one month's worth of Diamond-shipping comics product; in a different post (scroll down a bit), he notes that the publisher Alias is using their exclusive deal with Diamond as an opportunity to resolicit all trades, something he believes no one's ever done before, which could be a blind for continued, fundamental production problems. Newsarama talks to Walter Simonson and Howard Chaykin about their forthcoming mainstream comics project for DC. The AV Club talked to Seth a while ago and I missed it.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

Michael Leunig Exhibits and Protests


The cartoonist Michael Leunig is among those notables speaking out against Australian anti-terror laws by suggesting they've broken those laws through the course of their everyday work.

The above image is from a recent exhibit reviewed here. A web site dedicated to the cartoonist can be found here, and you can see a small sampling of his cartoons here.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Super Manga Blast Ends in December at #59
Ben Berlin Director of Operations at Archie
Mid-Ohio Con Celebrates 25 Years
Ted Rall Angers Conservative Bloggers Again
Titan Books to Continue Star Trek Collections

November 24, 2005

Phaidon Announces Lots of Sempe


Phaidon is announcing through its latest catalog a kind of full-bore assault of books and products featuring the cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempe, to be released in Feburary. This includes four books:

* Sempe: Nothing Is Simple (0714844837, $24.95)
* Sempe: Everything Is Complicated (0714845426, $24.95)
* Sempe: Mixed Messages (0714845434, $24.95)
* Sempe: Sunny Spells (0714845442, $24.95)

Two postcard sets:

* Sempe: Musicians Postcards (0714845612, $14.95)
* Sempe: A Question of Balance Postcards (0714845493, $14.95)

And a fill-it-yourself journal-thingee featuring drawings and other goodies:

* Sempe: Journal (0714845507, $29.95)

That's five hundred pages of a really great cartoonist, with enough extra stuff that it might make for its own display in your local coffee-offering bookstore.
posted 2:17 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Belgian Comics Auction


I have no idea what they're selling, but the combination of semi-glamorous off-the-cuff shots like this one, numerous people in turtlenecks, and what looks like an espresso bar in the background made my day. It's what I would have expected a European comics auction to look like when I was 15!
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Joann Sfar's European Follow-Up to Rabbi's Cat
Scott Adams Kills Thousands?
The Next Hellboy Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Guardian Profiles Jesse Reklaw's Dream Cartoons

November 23, 2005

AAEC Criticizes Tribune Company Cuts

Editor & Publisher reports that the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has sent a letter protesting the recent Tribune Company cuts at newspaper that seem to favor the dumping of staff cartoonists, which is worth noting because of the AAEC pledge to be more involved in issues like this one and the fact that every argument possible is being formulated for the value of on-staff cartoonists. Columnist Kathleen Parker's piece argues those same merits, and cites figures that staff positions have gone from 200 to 90 in the last 20 years, which is a steeper drop than I thought even at my most pessimistic.
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

Houston Chronicle Drops Registration


The Houston Chronicle has apparently dropped on-line registration requirements during its latest web site revamp. This becomes a minor comics story because the Chronicle is one of those newspapers, along with the Post-Intelligencer in Seattle and the Mercury-News in San Jose, that has long been aggressive about carrying a wide array of syndicated comics such as Edge City on its site.
posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink

Cartoonists and Their Rights Round-Up

A few wide-ranging takes on the nature of copyright in comics and the artist's right to keep them all kind of converged on Wednesday morning. Game developers have forged their own Bill of Rights after being inspired by the cartoonists' version of same. The great Komikero Comics Journal site has a nice discussion on the matter in reference to a local copyright law, while in Jordan a cartoonist protects his copyright by running a newspaper ad and pursuing offenders in court. If cartoonists are becoming more cognizant and protective of their copyrights in the notoriously difficult to safeguard Middle East region of the world, there's definitely a change in the air.

Speaking of overfseas, in today's quick links it's noted that Marvel has hired a royalties processor. This could conceivably be read to indicate that company is about to become that much more aggressive with pursuing individual licensing deals around the world.
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Robin Wins Best Sidekick Poll


This isn't news, but you have to like the other people included in the survey, such as Stan Laurel and Sideshow Bob. I bet no one ever voted in a phone-in poll to have Stan Laurel murdered by Oliver Hardy's arch-enemy.
posted 7:34 am PST | Permalink

Japanese Nerd Market Significant, Too

Because the Japanese comics market has a mainstream element, it's easy to forget that the hardcore fan remains a significant market force. This article estimates a group of 350,000 comics shoppers spends about $2000 USD a year on comics and related items.
posted 7:33 am PST | Permalink

AV Club Talks to Aaron McGruder

There's not a lot of comics content in here -- although he's very matter of fact about the future of newspaper cartooning -- but this seems like a nice interview if you're looking for a single snapshot of McGruder's state of mind as the television show version of Boondocks debuts.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Marvel Picks Rights and Royalty Partner
Critic Rips Into Sacco Comic
Seth Designs Hot Christmas Book
Comics Meets Fashion, Again
Superhero Humor Book I've Never Heard Of
Marvel Upgrades Their Site
Alias Signs Exclusive With DCD, DBD

November 22, 2005

Comic Strip Ads Come Under Fire

Here's something I always thought was likely to happen since I first saw one years ago: readers are complaining about those weird Sunday newspaper advertisements that are meant to look like comic strips. It's been a pretty interesting year in terms of reader attitudes towards custom advertising, with the pendulum swinging to intolerance for this kind of effort.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Three Cartoonists Make UK Top 40


A British press magazine celebrates 40 of its colleagues as influential members of the estate during the lifetime of the publication. Three cartoonists make the list: Gerald Scarfe, Carl Giles (art above), and Matt Pritchett. This is interesting to me both in the fact that more than one cartoonist would make a journalism list like this one, and also which cartoonists they chose to recognize, especially Pritchett. Pritchett's reaction article is worth reading for the amusing story of how he blew an obvious news tip that fell into his lap.
posted 7:56 am PST | Permalink

Freebies: Adams, Comics Buyer’s Guide

Scott Adams is apparently making available one of his non-Dilbert books that didn't do quite as well as the others, in the hopes of improving chances for its sequel. The comics industry institution Comics Buyer's Guide isn't offering a book, but is making available a full issue of its print magazine in some sort of downloadable format for your perusal.
posted 7:46 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: New Ethan Persoff Comic

posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink

Classic New York Bar Mural Restored

Stories like this one, where cartoonists help restore a mural space once favored by NYC's cartooning best, seems at once mournful and upbeat, I'm not sure why.
posted 7:42 am PST | Permalink

DC Marketing Department Sudoku

It's unfair of DC Comics to unveil further moves in their daffy, year-long quest to field a full marketing department during a holiday week; Newsarama manages to explain what's going on without descending into madness, and god bless them. The news hook here is that recent hire Nellie Kurtzman has already left the company. The context is a re-orientation by DC towards traditional marketing practices they think might put them in a better position to reach an audience through bookstores and a bigger audience linked to their larger media efforts generally, which has sparked rounds and rounds of hirings, shufflings and false starts.
posted 6:35 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Jan Eliot's Stone Soup Turns Ten
Manga Cafes Upgrade Services
NYT Book Review Explores Watchmen
New York Hipsters Ruin Superheroes
Newspaper Explains Comic Strip Choices
Doonesbury Portraits Raise $3503

November 21, 2005

Lou Myers, 1915-2005


Lou Myers, a noted New Yorker cover artist and advertising illustrator whose cartoons portrayed the futility of the Cold War and the absurdity of the War Between the Sexes, died at his home yesterday at 90 years old.

Myers' life was not only like a book, it became a book after a series of essays about his early years appeared in The New Yorker at the behest of Editor William Shawn. Myers was born in 1915, came to New York with his family a couple of years later, was yet another graduate of DeWitt Clinton in the Bronx, and was a painter for the Navy during World War II. He became well known after the war when his illustrations appeared in Art Buchwald's popular Paris After Dark. His work may have found their most prominent stage in advertising, where it embodied a voice that was clever, carefree, yet very tongue-in-cheek, almost self-critical.

According to his obituary in the Times, Myers published three collections of his cartoons and three children's books. Apparently he was also, and no one would make this up, the first artist to wear a small strip of adhesive tape on his face.
posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink

Newspaper Apologizes to Bob Lobel

One of the newspapers that ran the Get Fuzzy cartoon that led to a lawsuit from Bob Lobel -- maybe the newspaper where Lobel encountered it, I'm not sure -- has run an apology for letting it appear. The suit, which seemed to hinge on the news personality never having been drunk on the air, was settled despite even this very apologetic newspaper asserting it probably had no basis. I think this raises the issue over whether the parties should have settled, if it's a parody of a public personality, although I can't think it's particularly harmful that they did beyond the principle of the thing.
posted 7:04 am PST | Permalink

David Austin, 1935-2005

imageDavid Austin, who as "Austin" had been supplying the front page of the Guardian with cartoons since the 1980s, has passed away from complications due to stomach cancer. Austin was a singularly prolific and widely published cartoonist before taking the Guardian gig, publishing in several magazines in and newspapers in the UK market and, for a time, even helping to start one. He continued to publish in places like The Spectator and The New Scientist, and appeared in the Guardian until October. Before moving into cartooning, Steve Bell notes he had been employed as a teacher.

A formal obituary can be found here, while the Guardian is running an appreciation by his professional colleague Steve Bell and an appreciation of his work. Austin was 70 years old.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

More on Asian Conflict Comics

The New York Times has run another of those articles noting that severe strains of ignorant, hateful Asian regional biases have found voice in various comic; here's a version picked up by a paper in Seoul. The article provides some historical background on such books without giving their modern counterparts historical weight; other than that, it seems like one of those feature topics that's always going to come up, and will hopefully always bring about a reaction of cold contempt.
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink

Time Archives Its Comics Articles


Time Magazine has organized its comics-related articles into a stand-alone archive, which should delight you if you're a subscriber and potentially frustrate you if you're not. It's interesting to note from the front page that HT Webster once earned a cover (above), and that Bill Mauldin had not one but two, which is something I didn't know or had let fade from memory.
posted 6:25 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Tom Daning to United Media

I totally spaced this hiring of comics-savvy editorial consultant Tom Daning to run the United Media comics divisions in a managing editor position. The job had been open for a while, I think, although if I remember correctly United Media was being sort of weird about discussing the opening.
posted 6:24 am PST | Permalink

Second Grand Prix RTL Nominees


Here's a list of the second Grand Prix RTL de la BD nominees, a prize given by an assembled group of librarians picked from different types of positions.

* L'Aigle sans Orteils (Dupuis), Christian Lax
* La Loi du Kanun Volume 1 (Glenat), Michel Chevereau and Jack Manini
* Le Retour a la Terre Volume 3 (Poisson Pilote), Jean-Yves Ferri and Menu Larcenet
* Le Vent dans les Sables Volume 1 (Delcourt), Michel Plessix
* Les Passe-Murailles Volume 1 (Humanoides), Stephane Oiry and Jean-Luc Cornette
* Quintett, Histoire de Dora Mars (Depuis), Frank Giroud
* Salvatore (Dupuis) and Periode Glaciere (Futuropolis), Nicolas de Crecy
* Tigresse Blanche (Dargaud), Yann Le Pennetier and Didier Conrad
posted 6:16 am PST | Permalink

RSL Annual to Feature Comics

Just to show you that the growing respect for comics isn't just a North American thing, this article reminds us that Posy Simmonds and Raymond Briggs were made fellows of The Royal Society of Literature this year, and are working with the Society on their '06 publication, which will feature comics.
posted 6:11 am PST | Permalink

Satrapi: Every Visit A Profile

More proof that Marjane Satrapi is quickly becoming a media darling on the level of an Art Spiegelman can be found in this LA Times piece that establishes but doest not strain to justify the importance of a recent visit. Los Angeles has a built-in hook for Satrapi with its enormous Iranian-American population, but I think Satrapi has advanced to the feature story for every visit status. Speaking of Art Spiegelman, David D'Arcy talks to the cartoonist here about art and film, with a lengthy introduction.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Steve Ditko Joins Da Coach on Ukrainian Honor Roll
Bohemian, Cartoonist: Marge Salin, 1922-2005
On-Line Strip Wins Outreach Award
Worldwide Cartoonist Profile: J. Torres
Zits, Baby Blues Land Newsletter Deal

November 20, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Martin Kellerman


Not Comics: Superman on Film
Three different people have sent me this link to some sort of lecture report on Bryan Singer at Princeton. I love reading this stuff as much as the next guy, but I'm afraid I don't have any opinion about superhero movies worth repeating; I don't think films relate to comics except in the obvious sense of their being the kind of licensing coup for which these businesses struggle in the wider, corporate sense -- and you pretty much lose that link once you get into specifics of any film.

One thing that did hit me on reading this -- in terms of comics -- is that I note DC will actually have some Superman and line-wide stuff going on when the movie hits, enough material of the type that could actually result in a bit of PR synergy, which almost never happens.

Go, Look: Brian Chippendale

Initial Thought of the Day
I plan on doing a big update of Major 2006 Releases here on the site over the next couple of days. If you have a series starting or a trade coming out, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 9:19 am PST | Permalink

November 19, 2005

CR Week In Review


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

1. Will KAL accept a buyout and be the next major editorial cartoonist in a staff position to leave a newspaper?

2. Direct Market figures show month to month growth in graphic novel sales and a slight increase overall. Do they also show a market given over to big hits at the expense of a slow build?

3. David Simpson fired from the Tulsa World following allegations of plaigirism.

Winner of the Week
DC, recipient of positive buzz from their retailer conference last weekend in Montreal, plans for '06 leaked there, and the first issue of All-Star Superman dropping to stores.

Loser of the Week
David Simpson

Quote of the Week
"You've got to give kids really beautiful children's books in order to turn them into revolutionaries. Because if they see these beautiful things when they're young, when they grow up, they'll see the real world and say, 'Why is the world so ugly?! I remember when the world was beautiful.' And then they'll fight, and they'll have a revolution. They'll fight against all of our corruption in the world, they'll fight to try to make the world more beautiful. That's the job of a good children's-book illustrator." -- Tony Millionaire

Tony Millionaire art
posted 4:17 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

The Ganzfeld Presents The Hobbit
Canicola Volume 1
Night Fisher
Zirp #2
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Web Sites You Visit Including One You Feel More People Should Know About."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 25th.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

November 18, 2005

Cartoon Unrest = Paris Precursor

It's worth noting that several articles from a wide range of media sources seem to have singled out the reaction to newspaper cartoons featuring Mohammed in Denmark as an important precursor to rioting in France and related incidents of unrest in other European countries. To be honest, this report is the first I've heard that people actually took to the streets over the cartoons.
posted 7:17 am PST | Permalink

Margulies Wins Berryman Award


Daryl Cagle is reporting at the top of his blog (no individual entries linkable) that Jimmy Margulies of the New Jersey Record has won this year's Clifford K. and James T. Berryman Award. The cartoon printed above was part of his winning portfolio. John Sherffius won in 2004. I know that the prize is endowed, but I have no idea if that means a cash award goes to Margulies. Past winners include Ann Telnaes, Jim Morin and David Horsey.
posted 7:12 am PST | Permalink

They Have Shops in Bellingham, Too

As a follow-up on yesterday's piece about the oddly vague, unquestioning profile of Midtown Comics in the New York Times, I would draw your attention to this local piece on a comic shop in Bellingham, MA, which covers roughly the same ground with more details and a clearer focus.
posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink

DC Invests In the Western? points out a couple of pieces covering DC's latest western comic book offerings, picking up on the distinction of a commitment to an ongoing series as opposed to the multiple mini-series of the recent past. This also means that DC has received about a month of such coverage since the launch of its Loveless series.

It makes perfect sense that a big company would invest in diversifying its product. Mainstream comics company's recent moves into related genres tend to come with unrealistic expectations up top, a way too loose hand in recruiting titles and then pulling the plug a bit too early. More low-key, long-term commitments may be a good sign. DC will reportedly try some fantasy titles through an imprint in '06.
posted 6:57 am PST | Permalink

BD Magazine Subsumed

According to this piece, the content of Bandes Dessinees Magazines will be moved into a magazine with a slightly larger and wider mandate, setting off concerns that the section will become part of a house organ for its publisher.
posted 6:56 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Pekar Takes American Splendor to Vertigo
Steve Lafler Starts Publishing Company
President Kalam Inaugurates Laxman Show
What Dylan Horrocks is Reading
Missed It: SNAP! Show Report
Is Dan Nadel Right About Winsor McCay?

November 17, 2005

KAL at Baltimore Sun Next to Go?

Not only does Editor and Publisher unearth news that Baltimore Sun editorial cartoonist Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher may accept a payout and leave the paper, David Astor also smartly connects the dots and notes that the Tribune Company's cost-cutting has been a brutal gauntlet for staffed editorial cartoonists, and a near-impossible impediment for open positions that in another time might have been filled.
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink

One Article That May Rattle the Internet

imageThis article by Doug Harvey in the LA Weekly may be the most entertaining of all the coverage related to the Masters of American Comics exhibit -- a list of ten distinct comics publications that shook up the world of funnybooks. The writer makes a pretty strong case for his choices throughout, and make some important, fine distinctions. It's gratifying to see a mid-Jack Kirby run issue of Fantastic Four as the significant one rather than Fantastic Four #1, as I've long felt it's the consistent line-wide quality of Marvel for a period of four or five years that really made an impact rather than a lightning bolt approach apparent with various first issues, so an issue representative of one of Marvel's five or six astounding serial runs seems really appropriate. Kudos to the art department for using the original Love and Rockets #1 cover; demerits for using the magazine rather than the comic book Howard the Duck.

As a critic, I would probably disagree most strongly with Harvey's post-RAW selections. I admire the impulse in placing Dirty Plotte #1 on the list, but the uniquely formatted, lavishly produced, full-bore formalistic assault of ACME Novelty Library #1 changed the way alt-comics presented themselves on every level and should probably occupy its spot. And while I look forward to a comics world where Kramer's Ergot #4 is a touchstone, the first exposure that most people had to that whole approach to comics art probably came from that Marvel Benefit issue of Coober Skeber, and a purer expression came in Mat Brinkman's seminal mini-comics like Kap Trap. Still, this is a fun and formidable article.

It's also part of a suite of pretty engaging comics-related stories, all worth reading:a review of the museum show, a profile of Jim Shaw's comics-related work, a tour of comic shops and an interview with Tony Millionaire.
posted 7:03 am PST | Permalink

Delcourt Takes Control of Tonkam is among those sources reporting that Delcourt has acquired Tonkam, an imprint with over 600 titles. The article provides a brief history of Tonkam's contribution to the rise of Japan in Europe, painting it as one of the early market participants (mid-'90s) and pointing towards its broad range of material, including shoujo manga, comics from China and Tezuka's Buddha series. The article also says that Delcourt plans to largely leave the imprint alone, although I have no idea if that's customary to say in France when you buy a business the same way it is in North America or not. Delcourt has its own manga titles, I believe, so that may prove to be a factor as well.
posted 6:59 am PST | Permalink

NYT on Comics: Good or Bad?

Is it my imagination or are most of the New York Times articles on comics severely unsophisticated? I haven't paid close enough attention to know if it's one writer or a group of writers generating these things, but other than their magazine piece on the Drawn and Quarterly artists and Art Spiegelman, a lot of the Times' writing reads like perfunctory, rewritten press releases (the bulk from DC Comics) with a single phoned-quote spin.

Their longer pieces can be weird, too. Switch the word "e-commerce" for "catalog sales," and this week's puff piece on Midtown Comics could have been written in 1987. I like Midtown Comics, I've enjoyed shopping at Midtown Comics, but the Times' article reads more like a paid advertisement than an objective piece using Midtown as a window opening onto how comic shops work.

The article lacks a why. Its analysis is too unfocused to make Midtown a stand-in for all comic shops. And other than their relationship with the forthcoming New York Comic-Con, which I doubt was a prize of merit (I could be wrong), we learn nothing about Midtown that makes them a model shop of the kind that demands coverage because of their position within the industry. Hundreds of comic shops shared their recent economic journey, many with equal or greater aplomb. Several dozen have retail goals of equal scope and commitment. When this article's spotlight is used to speak of Midtown getting into e-commerce because of a "real shortage of good comic shops outside the New York City area," a statement unchallenged by the writer, this is a direct disservice to as many as 40-50 stores across North America at least as well-regarded as Midtown, many of which already practice some type of e-commerce.

What really kills me, though, is how much the whole piece operates out of a really musty model of thinking about the medium. If you read this article, you'll learn that comics is a medium of fantasy, that the art form stretches all the way from superheroes to zombies, that comics as objects are natural retail partners with toys and genre DVDs, and that the various comic-book movies have been a wonderful thing. It's a truth about comics, sure, but not the whole truth, and definitely not the best truth available. Not anymore. If this were an article in the Davenport Pennypincher, that would be one thing, but you'd think you'd see a smarter picture of this unique industry from the supposed newspaper of record.
posted 6:40 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jim Flora Art

posted 6:38 am PST | Permalink

Best of ‘05 II—Publishers Weekly

David Welsh writes in to remind us that there is another list out in addition to the effort featuring the best comics in book format releases from 2005. That would be found in Publishers Weekly, offering a list that looks to have been assembled by PW comics triumvirate Calvin Reid, Douglas Wolk and Heidi MacDonald.

Their picks:

* Black Hole, Charles Burns (Pantheon)
* Epileptic, David B. (Pantheon)
* Ex-Machina: The First Hundred Days, Brian Vaughan and Tony Harris (DC/Vertigo)
* Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface, Shirow Masamune (Dark Horse)
* King, Ho Che Anderson (Fantagraphics)
* Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press)
* The Rabbi's Cat, Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
* WE3, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo)

That's not a bad list, and it's nice to see someone reach out to Ho Che Anderson's work after a modest reaction from reviewers and consumers early this year when it dropped. It still reads like something that was assembled in part to piss off as few people as possible, a kind of UN assemblage of comics by general category instead of a rigorous aesthetic at work. There's always been this myth in comics that all facets of comics have a part in the medium's successes. That's why you can have article about superhero companies using growth figure spurred totally by manga, for instance. Anyway, it's an impulse I mistrust when it comes to picking the best the art form has to offer.


Calvin Reid writes in to say I jumped the gun a bit:
Thanks for throwing the spotlight on our best books list but that list is a work in progress.

Because of the unusual number of comics projects we're working on around
PW these days, the crack comics editorial team put that list together somewhat hastily so the editor of another article would have several outstanding comics work include in their piece. We have plans to produce a larger more representative list. The books on that list will remain but it will grow significantly and we'll make a bigger deal about announcing it.

posted 6:31 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Toth’s “War On The Streets”

posted 6:28 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Like Most CBLDF Cases, Funky Winkerbean Comics Shop Trial Ends After Startling Testimony From a Dwarf
Pope Comics Are Back!
Yet Another Diamond Books Signing
Yet Another DC Artist Exclusive
Johnny Ryan Meets Edward Gorey
Funny: Essay on Superheroic Saliva

November 16, 2005

Get Fuzzy/Bob Lobel Suit Settled

The Boston Herald reports that a libel suit filed by New England television personality Bob Lobel against Darby Conley for a crack made in Get Fuzzy that Lobel believe unfairly painted him as a drunk has been settled out of court to the satisfaction of both parties.
posted 9:19 am PST | Permalink DM’s October Gains

image The business news and analysis site has released their version of October's Direct Market numbers, with their usual panache: overview, analysis, comics listed, graphic novels listed. I swear someone told me at some point that October would be the final month in a sustained late-summer surge. There's a definite upswing overall, driven by gains in both categories. The likely story of the year for direct market shops is going to be the month after month growth of the graphic novel portion of the business, which various lists indicates a concentration on big-publisher titles, action-adventure and a few bookstore sales elite manga titles. The comics stuff this month seems driven by the launch of DC's meta-fictionally haunted Infinite Crisis mini-series.

The site puts up a lot of old numbers, too, which means instead of solving sudoku puzzles you can sit around and make your own analysis charts. Like I have a theory that comics publishers have sacrificed a slow sustained growth strategy defined by invigoration of the entire line in favor of hot-shotting certain titles in a market that's not quite prepared capital-wise and building-reasdership wise to handle multiple big-sellers without sacrificing some sales further down the pecking order. With, I can sit at home and make charts like numbers of books that sell over certain amounts, year by year for the month in question, and feel reasonably satisfied with the results.

Last Book Over 200,000: #1 -- Infinite Crisis #1
Last Book Over 150,000: #1 -- Infinite Crisis #1
Last Book Over 100,000: #4 -- Justice #2
Last Book Over 50,000: #32 -- Adventures of Superman #645
Last Book Over 25,000: #77 -- Cable/Deadpool #21
Last Book Over 10,000: #167 -- Supergirl #2
Last Book Over 5000: #209 -- Uncle Scrooge #347

Or: 1-1-4-32-77-167-209

2005 to 2001
2005: 01-01-04-032-077-167-209
2004: 00-00-05-022-090-157-209
2003: 00-01-10-036-104-206-264
2002: 00-00-02-027-074-158-176
2001: 00-00-04-019-095-176-208

It's way, way too rudimentary a manipulation to suggest that comics have taken a turn the last two years from the slow-growth strategy that was beginning to steamroll in '03 and have thus basically restored a crappier '01 market with a few top of line hits. For one thing, there's the issue of how much money is spent on GNs.

It's fun to suggest it anyway.

Justice #2 cover art
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

Study: Comics Mirror Threat-Level

A lot of people love this kind of news, at least judging from the number of people who sent the link, but to me this sounds like something that would be funded by the Veidt Corporation. In general, mainstream comics have in the 1970s-on seemed too manipulative and crass to participate in the kind of unintended mirroring this study would suggest they did. Also, I don't remember the Iran Hostage Crisis as an occasion where people in America felt threatened as much as they felt depressed and slightly pathetic (Charlie Daniels Band and certain t-shirt vendors aside). I'd still like to see the article when it comes out.
posted 8:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Gipi Gallery

posted 8:43 am PST | Permalink

Korea Mulling Over School Uni Fight Ban

The headline pretty much explains it; comics are included even though the article emphasizes movies. Living in the States, it's somehow nice to hear about officials in other countries being stupid and reactionary.
posted 8:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Raymond Peynet


The late Raymond Penet's birthday today led me to this nice appreciation at Paul Giambarba's cartoon-related blog, saturated with art.
posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink

Torture Camp Cartoon Draws Protest

An actual protest of more than two dozen people resulted from a political cartoon making a rough comparison between today's US-sponsored "torture camps" and Nazi death camps liberated by American soldiers. I didn't even know that a protest was even on the table of possible outcomes anymore.
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Buy Lunch With Dave Sim
Gholamali Latifi Honored at Iran Biennial
Petition for Ali Dilem's News Comrade
Brian Bendis Make Dreams Come True
Naruto Master License Goes to Mattel
Jon Stewart Wins Thurber Prize
Call for Papers in Montreal
Graphic Novel Swag at the AMAs
Harvey Pekar Talks to Book Standard

November 15, 2005

Sri Lankan Cartoonist Assaulted

A cartoonist in Sri Lanka has reportedly been assaulted by the subject of some of his cartoons. This is noteworthy for both the horrible action pursued and the passion with which the cartoons were seen that made such a severe reaction possible in the first place.
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Luis “Lucho” Olivera, 1942-2005


The Argentine illustrator and comics artist Lucho Olivera has passed away, according to published reports. Olivera was probably best known for his cover art and as the first artist on the fantasy series "Nippur de Laggash," working with writer Robin Wood. His other series included "Galaxia Cero" and "Planeta Rojo." A Lambiek entry can be found here.
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink

Seven Seas: Copyright to Creators

Here's a nice story from the folks at Publisher's Weekly: The North American publisher Seven Seas has changed its contracts in terms of ownership of copyright after being convinced this was the right thing to do. One hopes now that the creative community will reward that effort, although that would be an even bigger surprise.
posted 7:59 am PST | Permalink

Blank Label Core Shifting Efforts


Comixpedia notes that Brad Guigar is launching a spin-off of his Greystone Inn; Eric Burns at provides details on how Guigar is not the only Blank Label cartoonist making major changes with his comics. The formation of Blank Label, a kind of shared-skills and resources publishing collective, was one of the more significant stories in webcomics this year, so ongoing creative changes can be seen as a key development arising from the new business model.
posted 7:51 am PST | Permalink

DC Notes From Montreal Meeting

Newsarama provides publishing news notes made available to top retailers with whom DC Comics met in Montreal over the weekend; if I'm reading the story correctly, the shift of the Sandman material into a different format seems worthy note. As difficult as the story may be for some people to follow from artist to artist and with as much success as it's enjoyed already, I still have a gut feeling that there's more of an audience out there to be reached.

Word is that the Montreal location of the gathering allowed for local publisher Drawn and Quarterly to meet with some of its more prominent partners in direct market retail, which is also a good thing.
posted 7:47 am PST | Permalink

Obsolete Doonesbury Strips Are Run

Editor and Publisher notes that while Garry Trudeau may recall Doonesbury strips made obsolete by a development in the news, sometimes they don't get recalled, particularly on Sunday. CR reader Sean Collins wrote in to note that some readers noticed the oddness of the Harriet Miers strips when they appeared.

While we're catching up with old stories, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has tracked the development of the David Simpson firing the Tulsa World story, including their own involvement; Slate's Mickey Kaus has placed into context the firing of LA Times staff editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez, which he and a growing number of people see as the Tribune Company's rumored directive to make the paper as bland as possible, the core of a long and ongoing dispute in years between camps at the Times since the paper was purchased.
posted 7:34 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Lorenzo Mattotti Exhibit

posted 5:59 am PST | Permalink

MacDonald Co-Editor at PWCW

Today is not only veteran comics industry editor and columnist Heidi MacDonald's birthday, it is her second week in the masthead of the PWCW newsletter as "co-editor" with Calvin Reid, bumping up from a contributing editor position. For her birthday gift, I decided *not* to make a headline out of the phrase "hot mama."
posted 5:58 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Ali T. Kokmen: Director of Book Sales at CPM
Eric Shanower To Lecture in Cincinnati
50 Cent's Imprint to Include Graphic Novels
Local Cartoonists Profile: Irene Flores, Ashly Raiti

November 14, 2005

Simpson Fired From Tulsa World

Longtime Tulsa World cartoonist David Simpson was shown the door late last week after allegations of plagiarism surfaced regarding a recent cartoon. That cartoon, featuring a pretty gentle, almost Borscht Belt-style joke about where life begins, had been traced back to a 1981 cartoon by a different cartoonist. Simpson's defense is that he found it in his file and believed it to be an older one of his own. This explanation didn't satisfy Simpson's employers at the World.

Although Simpson's situation sounds specifically and uniquely screwy, copying jokes is such a complicated thing in newspaper comics that any story of firing makes me a bit uneasy. In general it's hard to tell when you came up with something on your own or when you're remembering something somebody else did first, or -- always my favorite -- when you've used a joke from your circle of friends you thought was unique only to find out it was introduced from a pal who stole it from MASH or whatever.
posted 4:34 am PST | Permalink

Ramirez Discusses Being Dropped

Michael Ramirez talks to Editor & Publisher about being let go by the LA Times. Ramirez won the 1994 Pulitzer at the Memphis Commercial-Appeal before moving into his current job. Letting Ramirez go means the Times will be without a staff cartoonist.
posted 4:22 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Artist Charity Snowflakes

Go bid, too. It's for charity. Although this I guess yearly effort focuses on children's book illustrators, a few participating artists like Brian Biggs and Patrick McDonnell will be immediately recognizeable, enough to merit a look around. This gorgeous one below is from Renee French:

posted 4:13 am PST | Permalink

Amazon Kicks Off Best of ‘05 Mania

On-line retailer has released their Best of 2005 lists including those concerning comics, one imagines in order to encourage their use in holiday shopping. They're sort of interesting as lists, albeit broad to the point they sort of feel like seating arrangements at a diplomatic dinner sponsored by some weird comics U.N.

The customers list strikes me as additionally bizarre in that there are no superheroes and no manga books on it at all, and there are multiple strip collections. I've never heard the on-line customer characterized the way the bookstore and the DM customer has been, but my guess is that if this is any indication they're skewing slightly older than the other major customer bases. That breakdown may be obvious according to general Internet shopping patterns, but I know I bought a lot of comics through the mail as a kid, so I sort figured today's kids did the same. Maybe not.

What's also strange is how few of these books might conceivably make a comparable list of my own, which seems to indicate a severe lack of consensus about what's good, even less so than the old "two camps" days.

Editors' picks:
Black Hole
Ex Machina
Marvel 1602
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
The ACME Novelty Library
Sin City: The Hard Goodbye
Conan Volume 1
Identity Crisis
Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 1

Customers' favorites:
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
The Complete Peanuts 1955-56
Star Wars Episode III
Say Cheesy (Get Fuzzy)
The R. Crumb Handbook
Orlando Bloom Has Ruined Everything (Fox Trot)
The Fluorescent Light Glistens Off Your Head (Dilbert)
The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry
Nighthogs: A Pearls Before Swine Collection

thank you, Kevin Melrose

Update: John DiBello unpacks this further in much smarter fashion than I have.
posted 4:04 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Wolinsky’s Angouleme Poster


I don't know if it's because last year's poster had a slight controversial factor to it because it depicted smoking that had to be altered for display in certain locations, but I have yet to post the Georges Wolinsky-signed Angouleme poster for the upcoming show, the biggest of its kind and I think the biggest of any kind outside Asia. The festival is less than 75 days away, which means Wollinsky's in early press mode. It looks like an emphasis this year is being placed on pushing the exhibitions into other locations after the festival, but that's based on the really dubious evidence-gathering of my reading a web site in French at two in the morning. For you business-of-festivals watchers in the audience, there should be some interesting solutions as far as getting everyone in to exhibit at this year's show, the slate of publishers being more packed than ever.

There's an English-language button on the site.
posted 3:48 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Patrick McDonnell Spotlights Animal Rescue
Newark Paper Re-Instates... Heathcliff?
Alt-Cartoonists: Obsessed With Nostalgia?
It's Mostly Greek To Us (Thanks, Steve Block)
Wal-Mart a Curse and a Blessing
Col. Hemenez Plans Book on Marines Comics
Doonesbury: Vote of Confidence in Bradenton

November 13, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Go, Read: Dan Nadel Interview


Usually when I talk to an interesting person working in and around comics, they have one or two projects coming out of note. Writer and Art Director Dan Nadel of Picturebox Inc. and The Ganzfeld has more than a half-dozen major projects out or about to come out, any one of which could potentially change the way you look at comics. Please Read.

I Did Manage To Hit the Button that Said Watch College Football All Day

If you are a daily reader of this site, and God bless you if you are, I forgot to hit the buttons that make the "CR Week in Review" and the "This Week in Review" entries pop up on the blog, so they're down below.

Go, Look: Jimmy Swinnerton


The great newspaper strip cartoonist James Swinnerton was born 130 years ago today, and while any day is a good day to check out his life and work, this may be a slightly better one. There are biographies at Don Markstein's Toonpedia, (where I nicked the image), and He has a Wikipedia entry here and Diamond Galleries talks about him here, in an article which includes a photo of the cartoonist with George McManus and Walt Disney.

There are some really great comics to check out at Coconino World and at an OSU library site.

Go, Read: Chun on American Masters

The comics historian Alex Chun has written a piece for the LA Times on the still-living artists profiled in the "Masters of American Comics" show.

Sufferin' Shad: Ghosts of Retailers Past


Like many of you, I'm sure, I spent a portion of my weekend reading Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner #2, cover dated October 1984, starring the world's only superhero so cool he routinely shows up for fistfights in nothing but his swim trunks.

Here's something I never thought of before that struck me while flipping through the comic book. Check out this list of comics shops and related services advertising in this issue (allow for misspellings caused by bad '80s Marvel printing and/or Attuma):

American Comic Book Co., Studio City CA
(6) (9) Another World, Los Angeles CA
(3) (9) A&S Comics, North Bergen NJ
Comic Sales Company, Brooklyn NY
(5) Comic Vendor, Torrence CA
(2) (5) (9) Dave's Comics, Richmond VA
Discount Comics, Santee CA
* Graham Crackers Comics, Naperville IL
Grand Book, Inc., Brooklyn NY
Harti Comics, Phoenix AZ
(3) Howard M. Rogofsky, Queens, NY
(4) Island Fantasy, Victoria BC
(7) (8) J&S Comics, Red Bank NJ
* Mile High Comics, Boulder, CO
Moondance Enterprises, Hamden CT
(3) Passaic Books, Passaic NJ
Rainbows End, La Mesa, CA
R. Creslichi, Montreal, Canada
Robert Bell, Coral Springs, FL
(1) (9) Tomorrow is Yesterday, Rockford IL
* Westfield Comics, Madison WI

The ones I'm familar with now I've starred. Do any of you know the fate of any of these other retailers, if they're still around, why they aren't, in what form? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


(1) Will Pfeifer:

Tomorrow is Yesterday, which was mentioned in that Namor ad, still exists. It actually managed to expand during the great comic book shop collapse of the mid to late 90s, mostly due to good management and great customer service. Super-heroes are most prominent at the store, but they carry plenty of Manga and just about any independent I can think of, along with all sorts of toys, games, models and even a used paperback book section. It's a good store. I'm there every week, and the staff is always helpful and working (as opposed to sitting behind the counter and playing Magic all day), and they make an extra effort to help people -- parents shopping for gifts, young kids -- who might've never set foot in a comic book store.

I'm glad it's my local comic book store. I could've done a lot worse.

(2) Johanna Draper Carlson

Dave's Comics is unfortunately still around in Richmond, VA. It's a terrible place, with suspicious, unhelpful salespeople and clutter everywhere. Yet that's what most people in town think of when they think of comics. I've had a number of conversations with people that ran "Oh, yeah, I hated that place, but I kept going there for years." There's no accounting for taste, I guess.

(3) George Khoury:

A & S is still around -- went there early this year. Passaic Books is no longer around -- believe they closed down several years back. Howard M. Rogofsky continues to sell via catalogs, listing classified ads in movie magazines.

(4) Dave Knott:

Island Fantasy is now long gone, having closed their doors over ten years ago. I'm not sure what happened, as I had moved to Vancouver by that time. It seems likely that they fell victim to the speculator boom (and subsequent bust) of the early nineties.

It was the first, and for two decades the only, comics shop on Vancouver Island. At its height, it was pretty successful, even spawning a satellite store in Nanaimo (further north on the Island).

It the first true comics shop that I ever set foot in. I have fond memories of the place, although it's possible that I'm viewing the past through rose-coloured glasses. It was located at the bottom level in a really nice enclosed square in downtown Victoria. I remember it having a pretty good range of comics, in addition to role-playing games, and other nerd-fare. Every so often I'll come across an older comic and remember seeing it for the first time at Island Fantasy.

(5) Harold Sipe:

Comic Vendor, Torrence CA is closed - I think it happened some time late 03 - I was living in the South Bay of LA and would stop in from time to time to pick up new books because it was close to work. I knew something was up, because toward he end they got really aggressive toward browsers, along the lines of asking multiple times if they could help or sometimes out-of-the-blue if the customer was going to buy anything. They also got to be very aggressive on their subscription service - which is why I stopped shopping at the place - it was very far from being one of the better shops in the larger LA area.

Dave's Comics, Richmond VA - I also was in Richmond through 2001-2002, I never found this place - I had remembered the name from the old Marvel lists, but never came across it. I am hesitant to say it is closed however, I seem to remember some ad years ago saying it was a mail-order service. It may still be operating in that kind of capacity.

(6) Tom McLean, Variety:


Saw your list of old comics shops and wanted to let you know that Another World in L.A. is still open. The owner for years was a guy named Bob Costa (I think that's his name) and he and his wife recently brought in some new management to make over the store. It used to be a "classic" comics shop with lots of clutter and an extensive back issue selection that required an employee to head into the mysterious back room to see if they had the comic you were looking for. I haven't been in for a while, but the shop looks much better from better from the street and it appears from their website ( that they've done a lot to fix it up.

(7) Raphe Cheli:

J&S Comics is still around -- it's the mail order end of (I think) Comics Plus, a store in Southern Jersey (the last one left -- they had around 6 in the 90s heyday). I haven't been to the shop in a few years since I moved to Chicago, but they're still selling on eBay (their eBay id is jscomics). The shop, at least how I remember it, is decent -- not great, not terrible.

(8) Andy Grossberg:

J&S Comics, Red Bank NJ

I just bought a comic off of them on Ebay last week. They're still going and have piles of great books for sale.

Oh, and Discount Comics was probably the city of Santee, CA.

(9) Eric Julien:

Another World Comics - Web:

A&S Comics - Two Locations. Web:

Dave's Comics -

Tomorrow is Yesterday - (site is loading kinda odd, though!)
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink

November 12, 2005

Conflicting Stories About FM’s Health

I was contacted by a respected comics publisher about two weeks ago who told me that the distributor FM International, who at that moment had recently lost IDW as a client, was not returning phone calls and not paying bills.

I spoke to or exchanged e-mails with approximately eight to ten clients of FM International, none of whom had experienced any interruption in service and none of whom had problems getting FM International staff on the phone. I was able to reach FM once of the couple of times that I tried. Without a second client able to confirm, I filed the FM material away under a longer feature I wanted to do about the problems with lack of confidence in a distributor.

At any rate, I wanted to note that the rumor, for whatever reason, is back in play. That's testimony from someone making initial inquiries on behalf of a shop they're helping plan in Norway, willing to go on the record about his conversation with an FM representative last week. This person was told they were planning on closing and was re-directed to Cold Cut and Diamond. They do not remember which person at FM spoke to them.

This should come to a head pretty quickly.
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


Top Stories

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

1. Marvel had a lousy week, with a stock price readjustment following word of a crappy 3Q and a not extremely promising 2006. May even get knocked from #1 top story if FM talk turns out to be what it looks like.

2. Tie: Tokyopop and AM/Universal strike a deal; Gerald Scarfe book censored at the printing stage in Asia; underlines potential risk of overseas printers.

3. Wizard's Texas show seemed a bit light on attendance, but have they signed with NYCC in some capacity to ease the pain of this year's perceived loss of momentum?

Winner of the Week
Tokypop, for the publicity they'll get from licensing a pair of their manga titles to the Sunday newspapers.

Loser of the Week
Marvel, who must play a couple of rounds of Wall Street rope-a-dope as their inflated stock settles into some semblance of reality.

Quote of the Week
"This is a completely good idea, executed well, completely opt-in, and utterly useful with little work. Why do I expect there'll be a 300 comment long argument about it?" -- Eric Burns at on a new application and a very old habit of fan culture.

Ah, the good old days: when Marvel was less worried about the movement of licensed toy lines into an increasingly hostile retail landscape, and all about marrying its characters off to plants and robots.
posted 4:50 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Batman: Trapped In The Closet 1-5
The Virginia Quarterly Review Volume 81, Number 4
The Hollywood Eclectern No. 42
Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know
posted 4:31 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Signature Stylizations and the Cartoonists Who Use Them."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 18th.
posted 4:15 am PST | Permalink

November 11, 2005

Michael Ramirez Out at L.A. Times


It looks like Michael Ramirez, an L.A. Times editorial cartoonist staffer since 1997, will not make into the new year in the paper's refigured Op-Ed section. While Ramirez is better known in conservative circles than he is to the general public -- I think if you asked cartoon fans, even, many more would be familiar with the man Ramirez replaced on staff, Paul Conrad -- this seems to me a pretty big deal. I don't know if the severity or dependability of Ramirez' political positions played a role, but it looks like he thinks so; further, it really says something about the state of the business that a paper the size of the Times would opt to streamline by dropping a staff position. Of course, if I remember correctly, the Times has spent maybe the last five years going through a brutal realignment in all facets of operation.
posted 8:12 am PST | Permalink

Vagrant Son Haunts Father’s Cartoons

This wire story may not hold together for its entire length, and there's usually another side to stories like these, but the idea of a dad drawing a son he believes lost to him over and over in his work kills me.
posted 8:08 am PST | Permalink

Eric Burns Explains

imageEric Burns at unpacks the goods concerning the new Oh No! Robot! application so I don't have to, and does a much better job than I would, besides. Basically this is an opt-in program where if a on-line comic's owner decides to open his site up to, that person or that person's fans or interns or whoever can submit information so that the various subjects of individual strips can be discovered via search. At least I think that's what's going on. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Anyway, group-driven searchable applications are a big contribution the web has made to the understanding of the comics medium, and this is another useful and probably transferable tool.
posted 7:31 am PST | Permalink

Diamond Galleries to Exhibit at NYCC

Reed Exhibitions seems to be pulling out all the mainstream comics stops with its first New York show this February, including a showing of (mostly) rare Superman-related items curated by Steve Geppi's Diamond International Galleries.
posted 7:21 am PST | Permalink

Art Spiegelman in VQR Reminder

From Librarian and CR Reader Derik A Badman:
Your readers may be interested to know that the Virginia Quarterly Review, featuring the new Spiegelman work, is available from a number of popular library databases. I downloaded a pretty good quality pdf from my library's site. They should check out their local library website or contact a librarian.

Thanks, Derik!
posted 6:37 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go Visit Wood & Haspiel in Brooklyn Tonight
Go Visit Wood & Haspiel in Camp Hill Saturday
Analysis of Watchmen as Critical Front-Runner
Abhay Khosla Reviews Infinite Crisis #1-2 (Scroll Down)
Jog on Last Manga-Related Strip
Local Cartoonist Profile: Huw Evans

November 10, 2005

The Complete New Yorker DVD-ROMS and Tasini: Evil, Genius or Evil Genius?


If I understand it correctly, this Wall Street Journal article basically says that The New Yorker got around having to investigate repaying its contributors on The Complete New Yorker by using technology that reprints the pages as they originally appeared, a contextual requirement designed to allow microfilm.

The implications for comics reprints are obvious, so I wanted to note it here.

thanks, Milo
posted 11:49 am PST | Permalink

Cartoonist Shoots Home Invader

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
posted 9:09 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Takes Stock Tumble

imageMarvel's stock opened up with a significant tumble yesterday and kind of stayed right there all day, with a second day of another dip and (thus far) slight rally. This followed news of worse-than-expected third quarter '05 revenues and a readjusted outlook on 2006 that definitely says "good, republican cloth coats" rather than "pimped-out, full-length furs."

The major comics news sites weighed in with their take on what happened, basically a cyclical dry-up on Spider-Man licensing and a blasted-out toy business into which Marvel's toy division was trying to move some dubious properties, including TNA Wrestling figures.

Proving once and for all why I'm never going to get rich playing the market, I always thought the stock was over-inflated and figured yesterday's news wasn't all that bad, indicating a strong core business weathering an expected downturn. I'm also biased towards comics, with a tendency to see that part of the business as the core around which the rest of Marvel Entertainment's businesses are levels of luxury to be wrapped in or jettisoned depending on market caprice.

I still imagine that this will have little to no effect on publishing, Marvel's run as a company at its current, still slightly inflated size and slate of general expectations with play itself out in slightly diminishing cycles, Motley Fool will run another 12,863 analyses, Marvel will buy back a bunch of stock during these slight down periods and everyone involved at the top of the corporation will continue to wear solid gold shoes and diamond-studded underwear for a very long while. But really: don't trust me.

Some days, Spider-Man can't show up quickly enough.
posted 8:46 am PST | Permalink

Radio, Radio: Satrapi, Pekar

Commentator Wednesday White says that Marjane Satrapi appeared on CBC Radio One's The Current yesterday in the decidedly not-comics role as participant on a roundtable about the violence in France. The great Harvey Pekar will talk about violence at its roots through a discussion of his The Quitter (done with artist Dean Haspiel) on NPR's Fresh Air today, which should go up at their site by 3 this afternoon.
posted 8:42 am PST | Permalink

New Yorker Caption Contest Backlash


As long as I don't spend time agonizing over the result, I enjoy writing captions to already-existing art. Back during a brief time I got to help write a comic strip, I was asked to write for existing art a few times as an aid to help us adhere to schedule. The most popular place for people to do this on-line is probably the New Yorker Caption Contest. Now, apparently, there's a backlash, which I think is a consequence of the New Yorker's stronger emphasis these last few years on branding itself as a certain kind of reading experience, the kind a lot of people resent, combined with the fact you can go at a populist contest from the other direction, as gimmickry not worthy of the magazine's storied history. Even the denizens of the Comics Journal Message Board hate the Contest, although they seem to just think it's stupid.

My entry: "Welcome to the Big Leagues, Doolittle!"
posted 8:31 am PST | Permalink

Gutterfly Comix Closing Shop

Comexpedia reports that the Gutterfly Comix site is closing down. According to a note posted at the site, it sounds like Gutterfly is pretty high-maintenance generally, and that a recent hack job was perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back.
posted 8:28 am PST | Permalink

I Would Go To This If I Could


Be the first jaded, angry comics fan in your web-ring to tell rising alt-comix talent R. Kikuo Johnson he's overrated by attending tonight's opening of his art show in beautiful New York City. Click through the picture for more information.

This site has been terrible with art show announcements and the like, for which I apologize. Please continue .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) so I can get this site's calendars up to speed by the New Year.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Apparently, Dave Sim is Writing a Manifesto
Signe Wilkinson: 20 Years in Philadelphia
Myers Incorporates Strips into "Autobiography..."
Joe Meno Plans Graphic Novel
Bruce Hale Plans Graphic Novel

November 9, 2005

Sturm: CCS’ Hyperion Book Details

James Sturm has released a few select, further details on the graphic biographies being produced for Hyperion Books For Children by his Center for Cartoon Studies.
* The biography of Harry Houdini being written by Jason Lutes and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi will feature an introduction by author Glen David Gold.

* The biography of Satchel Paige being written by James Sturm and drawn by Sturm and Rich Tommaso will feature an introduction by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

* The third biography subject will be Henry David Thoreau, written and drawn by John Porcellino, with an introduction by DB Johnson.

The book series, to begin in Fall 2006, was announced in February.
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

Design Touch of the Year Candidate


We All Die Alone, the long-awaited Fantagraphics Books collection of work from Mark Newgarden, is covered in black velvet, or something that feels like it if there's some sort of technical array of fun to touch materials that include black velvet of which I'm unaware. In other words: a furry trade paperback, and a perfect way to call attention to Newgarden's place in comics as king of the precise touch. We can further be thankful this wasn't first applied to something from Fantagraphics' Eros line.
posted 8:43 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Reports 3Q; Adjusts Expectations

In a nutshell, at least for me:
"Marvel cautions investors that inherent variability in the timing of license opportunities and entertainment events, the timing of their revenue recognition, and their level of success may contribute to sequential and year-over-year variability in its interim financial results and could have a material impact on quarterly results as well as Marvel's ability to achieve the financial performance included in its financial guidance."

In other words, overall growth prospects seem reasonably strong despite variations according to what film is out and when, and how this is reflected in the licensing cycle. I'm not really good with reading these things, but the rest sounds pretty ordinary, too. Comics enjoy moderate growth. Money has been borrowed to buy back stock. The next year will be a difficult year. Etc. The only thing that seems slightly entertaining to me is when they change their mind on something, like the projected profitability of TNA Wrestling toys.

There may be more in terms of comics-related news at some phone-in press conference occurring soon that I don't think I have access to.
posted 5:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Riber Hansson


Riber Hansson is among those attending an International Editorial Cartoonists Conference in Israel that's making newsfeature noise on the wires this morning.
posted 5:23 am PST | Permalink

Alan Moore Asks for an Alan Smithee

Publisher's Weekly Comics Weekly, the free e-mail based news report from the book industry's magazine of record, had in its issue yesterday an interesting interview with Alan Moore in which the best mainstream comics writer of all time says he's asking his name be removed from comics outside of his ownership. This includes a great many DC Comics' trade paperback perennials like V For Vendetta. It's a smart request because it throws the spotlight on the fundamental exploitation of artists through various crappy deals by underlining the assumption that a long-ago contract engenders perennial support of said effort. One hopes that DC and what other companies to which this would apply will honor his request, but I'm not waiting up.

I was also struck by this in the piece.
"After the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film turned out to be less than stellar, Moore demanded to have his name taken off all the films based on his work and refused to take any money for them."

This seems to me a gross oversimplification of what really happened, or, if it came from Moore, a severe change in orientation. The best information we had before -- an earlier interview with Rich Johnston -- is that while Moore is unhappy with modern cinema generally, the films based on his work included, the writer decided to have his name taken off projects in great part if not solely because he was subjected to a debilitating legal process where a scriptwriter challenged the originality of Moore's authorship of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen through a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, an experience I believe he compared to what would have been afforded as punishment to someone who murdered chiildren. By withdrawing his name and refusing to take money, Moore seemed to be saying that he was at least morally absolved from that kind of attack. This seems to me a more complicated and perhaps even more laudatory stance than realizing how badly the LOEG movie betrayed its authors' intent, and something that should at least be kept in mind when trying to wrap one's mind around Moore's latest position.
posted 3:58 am PST | Permalink

Making the Rounds: Bunny Suicides

posted 3:38 am PST | Permalink

Alias, Speakeasy: PR From Hell

Although things may look different if you cover these companies and companies like them on a daily basis, it's striking how some lower level mainstream comics companies come across if you bump into them once every couple of months or so. Two such companies are Alias and Speakeasy, who publish multiple mediocre to poor-selling genre comics via business set-ups that seem to stand halfway between Image and that company that sold itself to a movie studio without publishing anything. Here Alias brags about streamlining itself and plans a trip to Neverland that uses more vague language than a pair of 1970s adults unpacking a trial separation for their children; on her site Heidi MacDonald and her readers unearth some backing for Speakeasy like it was a grand old family's locked-closet secret. For all I know everything is sweetness and light at these companies, but these pieces of news have a real asking for a phone call through the safety-chain lock feel.
posted 3:37 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Andrews McMeel: Doonesbury Donation to Fisher House
This is Funny if You Imagine Them Using Brunetti
President Bush Wins Dilbert Poll
A History of On-Line Gaming Comics
Not Comics: Post Seeks Editorial Animator

November 8, 2005

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink

Manga Hits the Newspaper Page

Rumors and newsroom testimony started bubbling up about a month ago that AM/Universal was shopping two manga-property strips for inclusion on the comics page, although it wasn't clear whether it was a formal sales packet that was being shopped or certain properties being introduced to buyers for formal presentation the next time around. A wire story out of Seattle took the story wide and caught a lot of people's attention, including comics-industry sources like Newsarama and the business analysis and resource site The properties in question are Van Von Hunter and Peach Fuzz; Tokyopop is directly involved.

It makes perfect sense that a manga feature or two would appeal to newspaper editors. The newspaper industry finds itself the throes of a period of fading influence somewhere between a major circulation crisis and being the first critters over the cliff in a potential, spectacular worldwide death of the general-interest publication. Manga is just about the only comics-related phenomenon that has a hip, consumer- and youth-friendly sheen to it. For as much as they're known as conservative businesses, the major comics syndicates do tend to seek out representative offerings in broad trends whenever they can apply to comics. For example, the syndicates about five years ago were generally looking around for ways to capitalize on a then-blossoming awareness of cross-over Latin culture, (and please forgive me if that's a stupid way to put it). In fact, at least one syndicate was in the midst of developing an original manga offering about three years ago, to the point of soliciting suggestions for artists.

The original buy looks interesting but not daunting. You lead with numbers if you have numbers, you lead with some big clients if you have some big clients. Since they led with big clients, I assume the numbers are okay but not great. At least a couple of the papers mentioned -- in Seattle and Detroit -- are to my mind aggressive early buyers of comics features. It's a list that should grow, and from Tokyopop's position there's no pressure of the kind that usually categorizes a strip launch, as the entire effort amounts to a modest amount of extra cash and untold gobs of free advertising.

It's also worth noting that by positioning these strips for January, Universal may be going after a window that is being left on the page by the Calvin and Hobbes re-run effort, probably the biggest opportunity to launch new strips without having to muscle aside old ones (editors prefer to avoid the hate mail phase if they can) until Lynn Johnston finally retires.
posted 9:13 am PST | Permalink

Sam Hiti Kicks Off X-Mas Season


It happens every November: a well-liked, younger comics artist puts up for sale a group of modestly-priced pen and ink drawings that say in Burl Ives' dulcet, cinnamon-scented tones, "Frame me, wrap me and stick me under a tree, oh won't you please?" Let the holiday-related acts of comics consumerism begin!
posted 9:02 am PST | Permalink

The Blogging Winds Cry… “YALSA!”

This is the "Great Graphic Novel Nominations" list cribbed off the Young Adult Library Association web site, which judging from the fact I got links in multiple e-mails is making the rounds somewhere out there.
* Baker, Kyle. Plastic Man Volume 2: Rubber Bandits DC Comics, 2006. 14.99. 1401207294.
* Burns, Charles. Black Hole Random House/ Pantheon Graphic Novels, 2005. 24.95. 037542380X.
* Clugston, Chynna. Queen Bee Scholastic/ Graphix, 2005. 16.99. 0439715725.
image* Crane, Jordan. The Clouds Above Fantagraphics Books, 2005 18.95. 1560976276.
* Foglio, Kaja. Girl Genius Book 4: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams Studio Foglio/ Airship Entertainment, 2005. 20.95. 1890856363.
* Holm, Jennifer L. Babymouse: Our Hero Random House/ Books for Young Readers, 2005. 5.95. 0375832300.
* Katayama, Kyoichi. Socrates in Love: Volume One VIZ Media/ Shojo Beat Manga, 2005. 8.99. 1421501996.
* Kneese, Mark. Trailers NBM Publishing, 2005. 17.95. 1561634417.
* Meltzer, Brad. Identity Crisis DC Comics, 2005. 24.99. 1401206883.
* Murakami, Maki. Kimi No Unaji ni Kanpai!: Volume 1 TokyoPop, 2005. 9.99. 1595323171.
* Naifeh, Ted. Unearthly Seven Seas Entertainment, 2005. 10.99. 1933164093.
* Pekar, Harvey. The Quitter DC ComicsVertigo, 2005. 19.99. 140120399X.
* Quick, Jen Lee. Off*Beat TokyoPop Media, 2005. 9.99. 1598161326.
* Rivkah. Steady Beat: Volume One TokyoPop, 2005. 9.99. 1598161350.
* Takanashi, Mitsuba. Crimson Hero VIZ Media/ Shojo Beat Manga, 2005. 8.99. 1421501406.
* Vaughn, Brian K. Ex Machina Volume 2: Tag DC Comics/ Wildstorm Signature Series, 2005. 12.99. 1401206263.
* Yazawa, Ai. Nana VIZ Media, 2005. 8.99. 1421501082.

I don't think it's tied into any specific award, but rather a list that's being assembled for 2007. At any rate, it's a handy snapshot of the variety of books being looked at for library inclusion, from Superman's teardrop to first-run manga in English to Jordan Crane.
posted 8:43 am PST | Permalink

More on Wizard World Texas

A couple of Wizard World Texas reports, one from the writer Peter David, who was a guest of the show, and one from Newsarama's reporter, support initial buzz that the show was somewhat lightly attended. David notes how crisply the show itself was run. It also seems a large number of Spanish-speaking bloggers attended the show, which indicates a potential resource if the Wizard Entertainment continues doing this event.

In more "comics in a big room" news, Brad Meltzer and Jim Lee have joined the New York Comic-Con guest of honor list.

Speaking of which, does anyone know why New York Comic-Con has its own page on Wizard Entertainment's site? I imagine it could be just a ticket thing, but could it mean something more? The news that Reed Exhibitions was going to run a convention in New York was considered a major blow for Wizard's long-term plans to expand its series of shows to include the major East Coast media and publishing market. If this is a sign of something official, it could soften that perceived blow a great deal, and also explain the direction and tone of recent NYCC signings.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

Slate: Calvin and Hobbes Slideshow


Today's Calvin and Hobbes essay in slideshow form provides a decent appreciation of what is becoming even more widely acknowledged as the Last Great Strip. In addition, the writer 1) identifies which panel Peeing Calvin comes from, something I was interested in sussing out while reading the new collection, and 2) uses quotes from Watterson instead of pretending he's never gone on the record about anything.
posted 7:56 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Ted Rall on the Air

According to a brief report in Editor & Publisher, those in the Bay Area may soon be able to listen to cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall on his own radio show.
posted 6:28 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
"Cartoons Against the Holocaust" Set for 11-10
Professor of Graphic Novel Class Interviewed
Brad Meltzer Locked in by DC Comics
New York Chats Up Brian K. Vaughn
Peter Broelman Wins Stanley Award

November 7, 2005

Gerald Scarfe Censored in China

Here's an interesting news note worth watching for how it plugs into an important trend. Apparently, a Gerald Scarfe book planned for printing in China ran afoul of local censors, forcing production into Hong Kong. Printing in Asia is enough of a wide-open field that I doubt any single region cracking down would have a crippling effect on the practice, but it could add another level of uncertainty for what is already a practice that can be interesting to plan for in terms of the length of time needed and delays in getting the stuff of the boat. If none of that appeals to you, Scarfe makes a penis joke.
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink

Muslim/Police Cartoon Offensive


It was sort of a novelty news story when it first appeared, but the media's potential role in escalating Muslim minority tensions in Europe make this story a bit different now. Police officials have now officially complained about the above September cartoon showing a stereotypical Muslim militant leaving a mosque as over-cautious police officers make sure to remove their shoes, itself a tenuous point built from ugly blocks.
posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink

Harvey Awards Go to Baltimore

In the latest of comics' continuing string of late-Friday breaking news stories, the Harvey Awards announced it has a new home in the shape of the Baltimore Comic-Con organized by Marc Nathan. The Harveys, named for the great Harvey Kurtzman and distinguished by a balloting system limited to industry professionals involved with the production of comics, became a free agent after ending a two-plus year relationship with the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York City.

The awards will be September 9, the Saturday of the Friday-Sunday show. One imagines they will be more like the ceremonies from past shows in locations like Pittsburgh than the stab at a fancier fund-raiser tried out in New York.

The Baltimore comics show seems generally well-liked by those professionals that attend but, as yet, has not enjoyed a breakout year in terms of notable audiences and/or industry buzz -- although audience control factors faced by the con in previous years include Regional Sniper Hangover and Hurricane Proximity.

The move may call into further question the shape of future Small Press Expos, who this year had their show at a date just after the Baltimore show and sponsor their own awards, the Ignatzes. An SPX move to Baltimore had been planned at one point and then reversed, but continuing the show in its current Bethesda location has shown signs of stagnation over the long term.
posted 7:06 am PST | Permalink

Joe Kubert Profiled by the Numbers


The best thing about this solid report on the great American comic book artist Joe Kubert and his school for young illustrators is that it provides several revealing numbers -- the current cost of tuition and the exact size in dollars and cents of the school's contract with PS among them. Apparently, Mr. Kubert also has a new book out; click through the image for a preview.
posted 6:43 am PST | Permalink

WW Texas Report at Great Curve

This is the first from-the-floor report I've seen about the Wizard World show in Texas over the weekend, and one where at least the initial impressions by word of mouth indicate a possible slight decline between last year and this. Wizard World enjoyed 30 percent growth from 2003 to 2004, and declared they expected zero growth this year, so I imagine with expectations set like that there should be an optimistic press release coming.
posted 6:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Paul Karasik in Lucca


Paul Karasik has written about the city of Lucca and its comics festival in his on-line diary. Karasik's report includes the obligatory photo with Euro-con favorite Craig Thompson.
posted 6:26 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Day-After Boondocks Fallout

There are a ton of articles out this AM about how Aaron McGruder has thrown the future of America into doubt because of his new television cartoon; this one at least talks a bit about his attitudes towards the Boondocks comic strip.
posted 6:19 am PST | Permalink

Worst Secret Origin Ever…


Sometimes when I look at the inbox first thing in the morning I see e-mails with multiple, similar headers and I just know I'm in trouble. Apparently, and there's no way I'm reading more than a page of this so "feverish joke" is also a possibility, we may have a new superhero who has announced his war on dime bag suppliers everywhere via the DC messageboard.

There's something about stories like this that make me want to jump into my own costume, that of "Returns to Bed For Most of the Day Lad."
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: DC Promotes Patrick Caldon
Godland #s 1-2 Sell Out: Extra Publicity Working?
Missed It: Independent Interviews Alan Moore
Not Comics: Ethan Green Adaptation

November 6, 2005

Sunday CR Magazine

A Short Interview With Zack Soto


Phyllis Reed Passes Away

According to an e-mail received from comics historian Mike Catron, retired DC production editor Jack Adler stated in conversation that his friend, Silver Age DC Comics romance editor Phyllis Reed, recently passed away. Reed was editor of DC Comics' romance books from 1958 to 1963, at which point Larry Nadle took over. Those books were reasonably successful the first time around and material from them was used extensively in reprints. One artist who worked for her in this period is John Romita Sr., who has praised her highly in his interviews. It is believed she was in her mid-80s. Hopefully, DC and some of the better historians out there will release more information about Reed, which will be reflected in a formal entry here during the week.

Does This Comic Look 107 Years Old to You?


Me, neither. This could be from an issue of MOME. And is that second to the last panel dead-on hilarious or what?

Sorting Out That Stephen King Thing

1. The Stephen King book at Marvel Comics will likely be a sizeable success, but there are doubts stemming from past examples (DHC's successful but not industry-changing run with Star Wars) and current concerns (resistance to the art form; if King will be involved in a way that says "necessary purchase" to King fans) that the comics will reward investment in publicity in the exponential way a runaway hit rewards such investment.

2. Dan Shahin reminds us in his recent letter to this site that we don't really know exactly what King's contribution will be through the whole process. Newsarama should be the place to find out, because they have Marvel's ear.

3. If King is doing treatments and not working on the writing further down the line, it's hard to compare it to Stan Lee's outline writing of the early Marvel era. Besides, the success of 1960s Marvel was about execution. If Stephen King were to spend an extended period writing synopses and outlines for Jack Kirby in his juggernaut carry-comics-on-his-back prime, and then providing and re-working dialogue at the end, now that could be interesting.

4. The key to the story is if the King deal re-orients Marvel and other comics companies into seeking out creative partnerships that are less junky and rigid than they were in the past, the way that Disney has benefited from pursuing the extension of projects onto Broadway in the last decade.

People That Entertain Me


"Man, this is one phallic thumb on Doc D.!" -- The accomplished writer and up-and-coming comics scribe Paul Di Filippo meets Marvel Adventures #9.

All Hail Wimbledon Green, Part 23

One of my weaknesses as a comics critic is that I lack a certain amount of visual sophistication -- it's hard for me to differentiate between, say, a good scan and a bad scan with a glance the way the best art directors and comics readers might. When Seth told me that the Wimbledon Green preview book didn't do justice to the final version, I liked the book enough that what he said didn't register. Now that the actual book is out, I should add that it's really lovely, both the interior pages and way the book is presented.

I may have this wrong, but I think a lot of what's done with presenting comics in book form right now can be linked back to D&Q, particularly their treatment of the Chester Brown short-story collection The Little Man.

Go, Read: David B. News

Fantagraphics Books has changed what David B. they'll be presenting in which issue of their young-cartoonists anthology MOME.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

November 5, 2005

CR Week in Review


Top Stories

The week's most important comics-related news stories, October 29 to November 4, 2005:

1. Ignorant racists still making use of Robert Crumb's satirical pieces stressing America's underlying paranoia concerning blacks and Jews. Since I might be the only one in the world interested in how a comic might take on a life of its own through use by readers against the wishes of the author, feel free to focus on "Showdown in Texas -- Wizard seeks to regain momentum through lower expectations?" That's a perfectly good story, too.

2. Astute readers pick up on the fact that Marvel's Stephen King deal involves King doing treatments that are turned into comics rather than writing comics in the way most people understand that to be done.

3. De-Mobilix: French court dismisses claim by Editions Albert Rene to the commercial use of words ending in "-ix".

Winner of the Week
Dan Didio, with the rare mid-stream "field promotion" from DC Comics.

Loser of the Week
The professional researcher career prospects of Chris Elliot's brother, who brought the Boilerplate parody to the attention of the comedian in a way he thought it was a Victorian-era parody (and thus usable) and not a modern one (and not usable).

Quote of the Week
"I'm Nick Fury, bitches." -- David Campbell

It is his birthday, after all. I'm pretty sure going as Steranko-era Nick Fury on Halloween involves having those around you inhale gas fumes for about 45 minutes.
posted 6:14 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Cartoonists You Just Don't Get."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 11th.
posted 6:11 am PST | Permalink

November 4, 2005

Cagle on State of Editorial Cartooning


Daryl Cagle writes about the state of editorial cartooning coming at it from a slightly different angle than one is used to hearing -- that of the lost opportunity. Cagle points out at least one thing I never thought of before, that the use of editorial cartoons in classrooms should prime the newspapers for their increased use in print, as there's certainly a much greater chance they'll be understood. There's also an anecdote about an editor viewing offerings in terms of writer-centric editorial cartoons versus graphic-driven editorial cartoons that is slightly depressing. It also, and I think this may be Cagle's point, seems counter-intuitive when it comes to deciding what should be run on the page.
posted 8:23 am PST | Permalink

Telegraph on “Necessary Provocation”

The Telegraph follows up on the story where the Danish daily paper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons with depictions of Muhammad featured prominently in order to defy a ban against use of that image. This piece does a better job than the original round of coverage did presenting the issue in terms of its more provocative free speech elements, which one guesses would be a much fuzzier debate were it to occur in the United States.
posted 8:13 am PST | Permalink

WW Texas ‘05: Aces and Eights?


It should be interesting to measure how Wizard World Texas does today and through the upcoming weekend. Organizers are calling for 12,000 attendees through the local media, which is exactly what they had last year in the midst of 30 percent upswing in attendance. Last year feels like a long time ago in terms of Wizard's con momentum. Texas seems like Wizard's weakest show in terms of public profile and, if rumors are true, in convincing significant numbers of prominent mainstream comic book artists and writers to attend. The show is also at the very far end of a long, long, long convention season, at a time when people's holiday stay-at-home genes begin to rustle to life.

My assumption is that Wizard is low-balling the projected attendance numbers, which makes sense both if they end up sucking and if the show brings in a lot of people.

If you are in attendance, please consider seeking out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which this time out has paired up with writer Peter David for an on-site premium.

Speaking of conventions, this article seems to suggest the Lucca Comics and Games show could benefit by thinking in more inclusive terms when it comes to what comics are worth celebrating. Lucca's site has some interesting pictures like the one above that are worth checking out if you're into con culture.
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Boy Meets Bishonen

Writer Ian Brill ruminates on the explosion of manga in terms of its ability to provide readers comics closer to their own experiences, and what effect that can have on one's outlook even if those experiences are not your own.
posted 7:34 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: SHIELD Wants You


David Campbell prepared a Powerpoint recruitment presentation for comics' favorite super-spy organization run by 115-year-old World War II veterans and inflicted it on his co-workers during a recent lunch break.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Jan Eliot Speaks: 9/250 Syndicated Cartoonists Women
Imagined World Exhibit Includes Classic Strips
Anti-Suicide Comic Book Effort for BC Tribes
Comixpedia Re-Explores Collectives Concept

November 3, 2005

Idaho Racists Still Like Robert Crumb

This alt-weekly article notes that local racists are again making use of Robert Crumb's satirical "When the Goddam Jews Take Over America!" cartoon, this time in more creative and specific ways. The reprinting of that cartoon and the thematically related "When the Niggers Take Over America!" in racist publications ten years ago led to much discussion over whether the adoption by hateful, satirically-challenged dumbasses as if they were earnest signs of warning should change our opinon of the original comics.
posted 9:59 am PST | Permalink

Millar Takes Health-Related Sabbatical

imageNewsarama tells us that the writer Mark Millar, among Marvel Comics' top creative assets and well known among some readers for his strong on-line presence, is taking a half-year sabbatical for health reasons. Marvel's active interest in getting Millar diagnosed and on the road to recovery is a nice and interesting story in itself. Between that and stories I'm continually e-mailed about creators getting checks for contributions to the latest Batman movie without anyone being sued first, and one might even feel some small hope for a less exploitative comics industry some day far off in the future. Well, might. Millar says in the piece that he has enough work completed that there should not be a noticeable absence in the marketplace as a result of this extended break.
posted 9:44 am PST | Permalink

AAEC Under New Management

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists cements their recent, vigorous rebirth by switching management companies to a larger, more formal concern. The organization has vowed to be more aggressive in confronting the unique problems facing editorial cartoonists in an era that some feel marks the beginning of the end for the general-interest paper publication.
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Bill Griffith on Peanuts


Here's a summary of Peanuts' influence in modern pop culture and on the comics page, an article that includes a short discussion with Zippy the Pinhead cartoonist Bill Griffith about Charles Schulz and his life's work.
posted 9:23 am PST | Permalink

UK Magazine Awards Manga

The manga section of NeoMag's recent awards were neatly summarized at the great manga-focused blog Love Manga:

Best Series: Fushigi Yugi (Gollancz)
Best Collection/Anthology: Ghost in the Shell 2nd Edition (Dark Horse)
Best Creator: CLAMP (TokyoPop)
Best Character: Chi -- Chobits (TokyoPop)
Best Publisher: TokyoPop

They're also running a breakdown of the new titles announced by Be Beautiful.
posted 9:14 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Igort


With Baobab, the veteran cartoonist Igort provides the best of three books in the first wave of the "Ignatz" series now being brought to English-language audiences by Fantagraphics. His web site is character and project focused; it shows off work he's done for both European and Japanese publishers.
posted 9:11 am PST | Permalink

The Beat’s Eye on Speakeasy

Heidi MacDonald pokes and prods around some rumors and public quotes concerning a company called Speakeasy, a fantasy and adventure genre comics publisher driven largely by new talent. The thing to keep in mind here is as sad as the details may sound many consider this a pretty successful company relative to others trying the same thing with the same kinds of material these last few years. That says something about both the expectations people have for publishing success and the top heavy/bottom poverty make-up of today's market.
posted 7:57 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Josh Simmons Pages


Best known for his Cirkus New Orleans one-shot and the series Happy, both with Top Shelf, Josh Simmons is probably the closest thing the SPX generation can offer to an artist with the same interests in the profane and occasionally gruesome that drove many of the best underground comix work. He also sometimes puts up pages on his site in no particular order and with no marketing directive in mind for the stop-by reader to check out.
posted 7:33 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Chris Butcher Remembers Ryan Carriere
Exhibit in Tribute to Rod McLeod
World on Sunday Reviewed
David Horsey Wins Global Media Award

November 2, 2005

Ryan Richard Carriere, 1973-2005


Ryan Carriere, a member of the Toronto comics community, died on October 31 after being hit by a truck while cycling home from his job as a mail carrier. He was 32. It's my understanding the majority if not entirety of Carriere's comics output came in the form of mini-comics and contriubtions small press anthologies. He did two nature-related mini-comics currently sold by the shop at The Wonder Book of Old Men and The Illustrated History of the World. His work was also sold by the Buenaventura Press shop.

The memorial notice contained this remembrance:
"A letter carrier for Canada Post and a comic book artist; he loved walking through Toronto's alleyways with his kids, identifying flora and fauna. His wife will miss her heart's companion; his friends, his wit and humour; his family, a fine brother, son and grandson."

He is survived by his wife, Megan Holtz, daughters Minnow and Plum Holtz-Carriere; a mother, step-father, father, step-mother, two grandparents and two sisters. Visiting Hours are 4-7 PM, November 3, at Turner and Porter in Toronto. A candlelight vigil is discussed here. Donations in the cartoonist's name may be made to Ontario Nature.
posted 11:26 am PST | Permalink

Dan Didio Receives Senior VP Title

Two corporate position-type moves, one major and one sort-of major one you think about it. Dan Didio, the man responsible for spearheading a recent surge of fan interest in DC Comics' superhero titles through a combination of marketing and publishing strategies applied one after the other in exhilarating and at times exhausting fashion, has been named Senior Vice President -- Executive Editor, DC Universe. One imagines this is both a reward for a job thus far well done and a way to better label Didio's corporate responsibilities. For their part, Marvel has named film industry veteran Michael Helfant President and COO of Marvel Studios, a decidedly more critical position at the entertainment company with plans to make and release their own movies starting in 2008.
posted 11:23 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Seth at Book Standard

posted 11:13 am PST | Permalink

Morse Launches Self-Publishing Imprint

The thing to note about the news that cartoonist Scott Morse is launching his Red Window imprint is not so much the books that will result, although it's good to hear of new books, but that it provides another variation on comics self-publishing. In this case, Morse will use services provided by comic book publisher AdHouse; using partners for various services, and publishers being willing to do that, will be keys to developing a new generaton of self-publishers.
posted 11:07 am PST | Permalink

Doug TenNapel’s Spiritual Comics

imageThis article provides what looks to be a positive but not overly strident take on the Christian underpinnings of Doug TenNapel's graphic novels, particularly how the cartoonist's faith informs symbolism and character archetypes in his work, and how this places the resulting work in pretty solid Hollywood franchise company.
posted 10:55 am PST | Permalink

Motley Fool on Marvel/King Deal

Motley Fool seems required by law to write a feature every time Marvel issues a press release, so it was pretty obvious the recent "Stephen King to Marvel" news wasn't going to escape notice. The writer here seems delighted by the announcement, despite the fact he applies the more accurate description of what King is doing: providing treatments as opposed to actually writing the comics, which may or may not turn into a huge difference maker when it comes to overall impact. The article does note that this could possibly clear a path for any number of interesting deals in the future, a notion with which I agree. The thing it sort of reminds me of is Broadway making a space for Disney properties as musical theatre, where comics could possibly become a more active profit hub by keeping a name out there and providing variations for licensing.
posted 10:28 am PST | Permalink

KenKanRyu Sales Hit 360,000

This brief article in the London Times notes the rapid sales of purported Korea-bashing manga KenKanRyu, a title they say translates as "Hating the Korean Boom." The article goes further to place the work in the context of recent comics that are politically aggressive on regional issues. This seems to come up a lot lately.
posted 10:21 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Well, That's One Way of Looking At It
Erik Larsen on State of Image
Decals an Insult to Watterson's Wishes
Local Cartoonist Profile: Ron Rogers
Rene Goscinny Inspires Two Books
Sambo is Not Funny
Ursine Rupert Gains New Rights Partner

November 1, 2005

Conversational Euro-Comics


Total Jazz, by Blutch.
posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink

Robert “Bob” White, 1928-2005


According to a San Antonio media report, the cartoonist Bob White died October 21 of complications arising from heart trouble.

White was best known as the creator of Cosmo the Merry Martian, star of an Archie Comics series of the same name that ran for a short period beginning in 1958. He illustrated the entire six-issue run of the Space Race-era title, working with writer Frank Doyle.

White also worked on Archie's "Pureheart the Powerful" concept, The Fly, and the 1964 New York World's Fair Archie giveaway. He was let go by Archie after working on Tippy Teen for Tower, at which point he moved into other lines of work, including a stint as an artist at United Artists.

He was preceded in death by a wife, Lily.

thank you to Randy Tischler
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Dilbert Provides Ad Model Variation?

There's a point at which articles like these start sounding to me like the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show, but if I'm understanding the general thrust, Scott Adams is using a variation of the google-ad model that targets people to join a network that the web site will serve rather than depending on the service to provide links. Considering the problem that I hear many comics sites have with generated click-throughs in being provided category-applicable links, this might be worth noting.
posted 7:22 am PST | Permalink

Seven Seas to Present Boogiepop

The thing that interests me about this story on a company called Seven Seas Entertainment is in what order the smaller publisher is releasing original English-language manga, licensed manga, and novels based on anime/manga and, now that I think of it, that a relatively smaller company is pursuing all of those categories. That's sort of a broader model than I would expect from, say, a western-comics focused company seeking a similar market position.
posted 6:48 am PST | Permalink

Chris Elliot Meets Boilerplategate


The New York Times reports Chris Elliot used the character Boilerplate from Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett's Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate in his Alienist parody, because he thought it was a hundred-year-old spoof rather than a modern one. I suppose there's a joke or two to be made about not using family as researchers. That Boilerplate site that seems to have fooled Clan Elliot (photo from which shown above) is pretty amusing if you haven't seen it before.
posted 6:33 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Look: Inside Woody Allen Samples Profiled
Missed It: First Blood Author to Pen Captain America
Missed This, Too: Eric Jerome Dickey Writing Storm
I Even Missed the Last Round of DC Exclusives
Go, Read: Alison Bechdel in Texas

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