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

December 31, 2005

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, December 24 to December 30, 2005:

1. Robert Crumb sues, a fairly straightforward news story in a week -- well, Marvel's bankruptcy a decade ago aside -- not known for the straightforward news story.

2. Marvel strikes a deal with a newspaper insert company for Spider-Man inserts.

3. Writer Kurt Busiek signs an exclusivity deal with DC, shining a spotlight on how this fits into the ongoing DC Vs. Marvel battles and what exclusivity agreements mean generally.

Winners of the Week
Fans of Best-Of Lists. You can't turn around without being smacked in the face by a best-of list.

Loser of the Week
Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan, whose minor defeat in a Turkish court of appeals over a cartoon he didn't like made the international wire services including AP, including a much wider reproduction of the offending cartoon than ever would have taken place had he not sued.

Quote of the Week
"Oh, god. No. This is every conversation I've seen on the web in the last eight years."
-- Writer Warren Ellis shutting down an odd, retro and slightly sad thread at his Engine chat site about how comics can become more mainstream.

portion of the original Robert Crumb "Keep on Truckin'" sheet
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This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Make Five Comics-Related Wishes For 2006."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 20th, and will resume weekly publication at that time.
posted 8:49 am PST | Permalink

December 30, 2005

Details on Turkish Cartoon Decision

imageAP Writer Suzan Fraser has grabbed a hold of the news that an appeals court in Turkey overturned a cash fine of $8000 against the newspaper Evrensel for a cartoon by Sefer Selvi depicting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a horse being ridden by one of his advisors, Cuneyd Zapsu. The article does a nice job placing this in a context wider than a similar case involving cartoonist Musa Kart to include cases against the prominent writer Orhan Pamuk and a potential case against Dutch politician Joost Lagendijk. Even better, the article reprints the original offending cartoon by Selvi, which shows that not only did the cartoonist depict the prime minister as a horse, but a horse that looks disturbingly like Jerry Stiller.
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Busiek to DC Bigger Than I Thought?

imageI didn't have anything to say yesterday regarding writer Kurt Busiek signing one of those "exclusive" contracts with DC Comics. I'm not sure if the fact it was a slow news day played into it, or if DC/Marvel's struggle is at a really high tension point right now, but most mainstream-leaning comics sites made full commentary or talked with the writer directly. You can find some of those pieces here, here and here. Reading these pieces, I have to say I probably missed the boat not putting the signing into some context yesterday. Kurt Busiek is a bigger name than the bulk of those receiving such contracts, and his leaving Conan at Dark Horse, one of the few comics that sold in the stranglehold the biggest companies have on the high end of the marketplace right now, is a story in and of itself. Busiek is also one of the comics professionals who can speak eloquently to how his industry works and why, which makes the above linked pieces much more interesting than usual.

There are a lot of side factors, too. I think if you see exclusive contracts equally as "you will not work for the other guy" contracts, then Busiek's signing by DC makes sense considering that his skill set would seemingly have more value for what DC's doing right now, with its ambitious overall line plans, than what Marvel's doing, with its revolving auteur approach. I also think a lot of Busiek's comments point to seeing the exclusive contract as less a play for favored creator status than a commitment to doing a certain amount of work for a company in a certain period -- in other words, I think it's an orientation towards work that's at play in a lot of cases equal to or more than the security of the arrangements involved, or the bottom-line value of the inducements themselves. Finally, my hunch is that the exclusives have more of an effect stablizing the middle-thirds of lines as much as they have with locking in top names which market concerns would keep in place without the exclusive construct. But what it does uniquely is keep certain middle-performing titles from losing up and coming artists that could be lured with bigger assignments elsewhere -- where that principle applies in this case is that despite the weight of his name I think Busiek bolsters the DC effort rather than alters it dramatically. (For you sports metaphor fans out there, DC is signing Robert Horry, not Shaquille O'Neal.)

I could be totally wrong about that last one, though. I could be totally wrong about everything. It's Friday before New Year's; bite me. I do know that both Busiek and DC will likely benefit under the announced relationship.

Art from Superman: Secret Identity, a sequel to which being one of the projects planned by writer Kurt Busiek under his new relationship with DC Comics.
posted 8:04 am PST | Permalink

Scott McCloud Plans 50-State Tour

It looks like an ambitious tour beginning in the second half of 2006 is among Scott McCloud's early plans for support of of his forthcoming book, Making Comics, which he reports is near first-draft completion. I'm not sure why this intrigues me -- and I hope I haven't caused Scott concern again -- except maybe that my gut feeling is that cartoonist tours are on a slight upswing the last 24-36 months, with a combination of big-time publishers getting in on the act (Marjane Satrapi hit major US cities for at least two of her English-language releases), and an increase in the overall number of healthy retail establishments of all types where one can find comics. Even given all that, this would be very impressive. McCloud's experience with audiences and the subject matter of his book make him a publicity tour natural.
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Time, Newsweek, Canada Best-Ofs ‘05

imageThe end of the year brings with it best-of lists of various sizes and shapes. Time's Andrew Arnold weighs in with his list of the ten best publications in his semi-regular column on the form; I would say the surprises on Arnold's list are Fantagraphics' young cartoonists anthology Mome at #10 and the inclusion of the latest volume in NBM's Dungeon effort. The former saw some mixed reviews and the latter enjoyed almost no reviews, or at least none I remember reading, even though I'm quite fond of those comics. Newsweek offers up a year in quality political cartoons in slideshow format here. Sequential's Bryan Munn blogs up some initial thoughts on the year in comics in Canada here.
posted 7:33 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Eisner Awards Submissions

I keep forgetting to say so, but the Eisner Awards are accepting submissions. You can find the full announcement with lots of details on various comics-related sites like this one. The Eisners use a jury to come up with their nomination list so having your work available to them can be a key component in becoming a nominee. My advice is that if you staple $20 bills into the material, make it after the first chapter so that it gets past the person opening the packages but not so far into the book the judges can't find them.
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Quick hits
Frank Hampson's Dan Dare Pages Sell Well
New Schulz Museum Show on Fan Reaction
E&P on Captain Victory/Captain Victorius Name Change
Naruto Property Builds Licensing Array
The Cases for Conchy, King Aroo Collections

December 29, 2005

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink

Robert Crumb Sues


The LA Times reported yesterday that Robert Crumb has filed suit against Amazon in a Seattle court. Apparently, this was caused by a breakdown in negotiations over how much the on-line retailer should pay for unauthorized use of the famous "Keep on Truckin'" image as a placeholder a couple of years back.
posted 10:16 am PST | Permalink

Update on Tokyopop to Newspapers

USA Today's article on the launch of newspaper versions of two Tokyopop titles notes that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Los Angeles Times will be among the features' initial clients. The P-I is a notorious early adopter of trends in newspaper strips; the Times is definitely not. From the way the article speaks to newspapers picking up features later in the year, it sounds like the Tokyopop material has clients that won't start running the strip on January 8, which is also pretty typical. I want to see the strip when it starts running, because promotional material makes me wonder if it will run with "Tokyopop" as the author.
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Go, Look: David Sandlin Art

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Eric Burns on Webcomics in 2006 writer Eric Burns makes commentary predicting the shape of webcomics for 2006. Although he plays a rhetorical trick about halfway through, the first few points are things I would never think of.
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Go, Read: The Barnstables’


I've had two readers suggest I look at this strip about a house jampacked with people and a group of sentient toys; I find it intermittently charming if a bit unsteady in terms of tone and presentation, at least right now. I noticed that the cartoonist seems to be preparing it for print syndication submission, which could lead to some interesting changes in, or sharpening of, the work, and might make this a good time to jump on.
posted 6:48 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: LAT on Collectors’ Market

The occasional comics-scene journalist and comics art editor Alex Chun has written another article for the Los Angeles Times, this one on the art collectors end of the market. It has a quirkier point of view and more specifics than an article of this kind usually has, so it's worth reading if people paying tens of thousands of dollars for items from their childhood interests you on some level.
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Quick hits
Writer Kurt Busiek Exclusive to DC Comics
Buffalo News Editorializes on Editorial Cartoonists
High Hunting Season for Cartoonists Up North
TV Segment Says Comics in New Golden Age
This Person Loved the Year in Mainstream Comics
Local Retailer Profile: Chris Thacker
Rochester, New York Discovers Manga
King Features Syndicate Launches "Retail"
Captain America a Model for Propaganda Techniques

December 28, 2005

Bud Blake, 1918-2005


King Features Syndicate is reporting that Bud Blake, the creator of Tiger and one of the most visually stylish modern cartoonists, passed away on December 26 in a hospital in Portland, Maine. He was 87 years old.

Blake was born in Nutley, New Jersey, where he grew up and attended school. With a few successful submissions to Judge as encouragement, Blake moved to New York City, taking classes at the National Academy of Design and finding various forms of colorful employment to get by. By 1937, Blake found himself in the employ of the Kudner Advertising Agency. With a few years off to serve an an infantryman during World War II, Blake rose to Executive Art Director at Kudner, a position similar to that of his father's while Blake was growing up. Although he spoke highly of the pay and people, if not the commute and the social obligations, in 1954 (some reports have it in the mid-'60s) Blake quit his advertising position to pursue drawing full-time. He worked for a variety of freelance clients and was able to syndicate the one-panel effort that eventually became Ever Happen to You? to King Features.

imageIn May 1965, Blake brought Tiger to newspapers. Despite being rightfully positioned as more modern than many 1930s holdovers still in syndication at the time, Tiger featured a lot of classic kids strip elements of its own. It was the kind of strip that mined humor from its characters views on the world around them and that stayed focused on their experiences with one another. Blake had a very idiosyncratic appproach to comics art that evoked both the looser humor work of decades past and classic magazine cartooning yet also reproduced quite well in the limited space given modern newspaper cartoons. Blake's strip was well-respected by his peers, and Tiger won the comic-strip division of the Reuben honors in 1970, 1978 and 2000.

My hunch is that Tiger was at its most popular in terms of client newspapers during the 1970s, I think the page on Blake says 400 papers. King Features reports the feature still runs in 100 papers internationally.

You can download King Feature's release here:


and as usual, Don Markstein's Toonopedia entry is worth a read.

Blake is survived by two children. Services for family and close friends will be held in Damariscotta, Maine. The cartoonist was preceded in death by his wife.

posted 7:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Suicide Girls Comics Chats

It may be the only site where comics folk are routinely interviewed in conjunction with celebrities working in other media, and the interviews are generally solid, so it's perfect for a week like this one. The latest round sees pieces up with Ivan Brunetti and Alex Robinson; chats with Audrey Niffenegger, Zak Smith and Amber Benson have some comics content to them.
posted 7:24 am PST | Permalink

Site News: I Believe in a Fair Warning

Just so it doesn't come as a shock: in addition to tightening up the site's content by mid-January, we are also in the first two months of 2006 going to experiment with a few rudimentary advertising initiatives and the like that I'm certain will pop up on the site; if my experience as a reader is any indication, these may be quite offputting until you get used to them. My apologies for any visual discomfort in the days ahead, and I hope you give us some time to figure out what works. I'm giving CR silent partner .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) a pretty free hand with this stuff, but I'll be happy to forward any suggestions or comments to him if you don't write him directly.
posted 6:47 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Peters/Luckovich on NPR

Prominent editorial cartoonists Mike Luckovich and Mike Peters take a look back at 2005 in this NPR piece.
posted 6:44 am PST | Permalink

Martha Stewart [Hearts] Brian Biggs


I think you have to click on Martha's face again to get to the appropriate entry.
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Quick hits
National Cartoonist Profile: David Boswell
Two Comic Books Make EW Fiction List
Wire Service Preview of Select '06 Mainstream Books
Newspaper Buttresses Cartoons With Local Product
Nice Profile of Comic Book Content on iTunes

December 27, 2005

“Black Ink” E-Mail Count In Dispute

As a follow-up to this month's "Black Ink Monday" promotion drawing attention to the decline in editorial cartoonist staff positions at North American newsapapers, there seems to be some dispute over how many e-mails of complaint were generated by fans.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: MacNelly Paintings and Prints


I've heard a few cartoonists say they want to paint with oils someday, but until reading a short essay about him the other day, I had no idea Jeff MacNelly actually did so before he passed away.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Comixpedia: 2005 in Webcomics News

The specialty site round-ups continue to roll in, with this news-focused piece from Comixpedia, complete with commentary from their contributors.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Freddie and Me Excerpt

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Diary Comics Contest Announced

Dean Haspiel, the only modern comic book artist one wishes would receive an official nickname from Stan Lee, sends along word of a comic-book contest on the theme of diary comics:
Jan 09, 2006 -- DIARY COMIC BOOK COMPETITION Seeks diary comics, including graphic-novel excerpts, self-published mini-comics, original pages (suitable for wall-mounting), new media & performance. Submit entire book. No prospectus, no fees, no sales, no insurance. Please send submissions with SASA / low-res JPGs / URLs to Lizzie Zucker Saltz, Diary, c/o Athens Institute for Contemporary Art Inc, Box 1604, Athens, GA 30603, 706-208-1613 or or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Thanks, Dean!
posted 12:35 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Read: NYROB on The World on Sunday
Go, Read: NYTBR on The Quitter
Great Curve Columnist Visits French Bookstore
More on DHP's Hideshi Hino Efforts
New Strips at Year's End/Start: Newspaper Tradition

December 26, 2005

Spider-Man to Newspapers as Insert

imageEver since that year about a decade back when Marvel fired a bunch of people during the holidays, the industry has learned to be wary of news from the House of Ideas around Christmas-time. This news sounds rather interesting, though: Marvel is teaming with a business specializing in custom publishing inserts to do Spider-Man in newspapers starting next summer. Size and format looks like a half-comic book in length, and I would assume this will be advertising or sponsor-driven, although that's just a guess in a series of guesses.

Also, although I'm probably the last person to notice this, here's an interview with Marvel's Peter Cuneo. I didn't see anything startling in here during my initial scan-through, but it looks like a pretty solid iteration of Marvel core corporate values.
posted 6:18 am PST | Permalink

Love Manga’s Best of 2005

The manga-focused blog/site Love Manga has posted its selection of favorite manga for the year, organizing it both by title and by person asked.
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Go, Look: Ron Rege Jr.‘s Site

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The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

A little publisher that could, and did: Peter Maresca sells 5000 copies of a $120 comic book.
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Missed It: Harold Gray’s X-Mas Cards

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Cartoonist Bloggers: Rall, Adams Speak

Editor & Publisher has an article up on syndicated pundits increasing their audience through blogs, releasing some traffic figures that many might find interesting.
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Quick hits
CNBDI: Permanent Home in Angouleme
Go, Read: Elk's Run #3 in Entirety
Go, Look: New Stuart Ng Catalog
Oola Tells Her Story

December 25, 2005

May God Bless Us Every One

posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink

December 24, 2005

CR Week In Review


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

1. Manga's big year in the French market confirmed by Gilles Ratier's detailed sales report. One child out of two between ages of 9 and 13 reads manga. France has gone from 19 volumes published in 1994 to 269 in 2001 to 754 last year to 1142 in 2005, 42.28 percent of the total French album output.

2. Charges simmering in fan circles that Slam Dunk creator Takehiko Inoue copied from basketball action photo will be further exposed via a piece in a newsstand magazine's January issue.

3. Dabel Brothers Studio leaves the Alias publishing umbrella in passive-agressive fashion: Alias is released from all contracts without dispute, but the original statements from studio in publisher contain statements that seem to want to give voice to that entity's view on why the relationship didn't work without looking bad for doing so.

Winner of the Week
I'll go out on a limb and say the French manga fan.

Loser of the Week
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, criticized for his handling of a newspaper doing several Mohammed cartoons, causing consternation and death threats.
Quote of the Week
"Here's wishing every girl and boy,
A day that's bright with Christmas joy,
A home that's filled with love and mirth,
A long life, filled with PEACE ON EARTH!"
-- Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

Gilles Ratier points out that once you get past the sales of the latest Asterix book, the sales charts could be said to be dominated by French volumes of manga like this one from the Naruto series.
posted 6:55 am PST | Permalink

December 23, 2005

Ho, Ho, Ho: Christmas in Comics-Land

I always enjoyed the last afternoon before a major holiday, both at school and work. I remember a lot of sitting on edges of desks waiting for people to finish up, or watching people pack to go home, the satisfaction of forced closure settling in for at least a 48-hour stay. I can't imagine anyone's up to doing a whole lot of anything mentally strenuous or challenging, so below please find a dozen or so Christmas-related links and samples of comics art.

For those of you interested in something a little more comics-y, you can read Brian Hibbs' piece on ordering DC Comics titles after the entire line is re-set -- it's sort of like hanging around with my Uncle Bob while he guesses how many jellybeans are in the jar at the local fair except Brian does this for a living and his hunches are therefore a lot more informed and wise than my uncle's. Mark Evanier has a nice piece on a character named Captain Victory I kept meaning to post about and kept forgetting, and Ted Stevens' Incredible Hulk tie. You could also look at Chris Arrant's interview with Xeric grant winner Mike LaRiccia. The Fantagraphics people suggest an interview with Martin Kellerman, a music video by Kim Deitch and a conversational video featuring the old vaudeville team of Lethem and Clowes.

I always enjoy Peter Bagge's essays for the political magazine Reason, even when I don't agree with them, and the latest one of those is up here.

Tangentially related to comics is the first volley in a year-long attempt to make the forthcoming Ghost Rider movie look like a gigantic hunk of shit, so that when it turns out to be a regular hunk of shit and wins that first weekend's box office over a movie about post-partum depression starring Drew Barrymore Marvel can declare it a resounding victory. More to the point is Matt Fraction and Joe Casey selecting their comic books of the year, from Black Hole to Seven Soldiers. This guy chooses Infinite Crisis as his book of the year. I read the first three issues of that last night and I'm definitely pulling for the ascendancy of whatever Earth doesn't have comics like Infinite Crisis.
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Go, Look: Canadian Cartoonist X-Mas

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Go, Look: Rowson Angel Ornaments

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Go, Read: Haddon Sundblom’s Santa

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Go, Read: Thomas Nast and Santa

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Not Comics: Scarfe Nutcracker Design

posted 6:19 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: 1951 X-Mas Cards

posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: X-Mas Comics Survey

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Go, Look: Wonder Woman X-Mas


I just sort of like this cover.
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Go, Look: Hembeck’s Faces of Santa

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Go, Look: Drunken Santa Cover

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Go, Read: Santa Claus Funnies

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Go, Read: Mickey’s Christmas Trees


You might have to poke around to find the pages here.
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2005 Christmas Card of the Year


From AD Vision, Inc.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
The 10 Most Monetarily Valuable Comics
Editorial Cartoons Part of Defamation Suit
The Independent Loves Gravett's New Book
Not Comics: Bruce Eric Kaplan's Kids Book Makes Splash

December 22, 2005

Slam Dunk Faces Own Copying Charges

imageI waited hoping someone I read posted a link to the photos and the art involved, but it looks like the January issue of a magazine called Cyzo is taking Takehiko Inoue to task for using NBA-related photographs in the making of Slam Dunk. Inoue had recently been successful in seeing Eden No Hana by Yuki Suetsugu recalled from the market for copying from Slam Dunk.

Beyond the irony hook, this could be an interesting story for the relatively high profile of the accused, and the concept of copying from photos as cheating. Regarding the former, the basketball-themed manga ran in Shonen Jump for several years in the 1990s and its books have sold over 100 million copies. If I remember correctly, enthusiasm for Slam Dunk is part of what led Stuart Levy to start Tokyopop, although TP didn't handle the property in English.

Update: The great Kevin Melrose informs me those crazy kids at Anime News Network have been talking about this for about a month now. Includes pictures.
posted 12:29 pm PST | Permalink

Manga in France: 2005 Snapshot

I haven't read it all the way through yet, but this looks like a thorough report on manga in the French-language comics market, taken from a variety of angles.
posted 10:44 am PST | Permalink

Will R. Kikuo Johnson Become Famous?


Thanks, Tim Leong
posted 10:01 am PST | Permalink

Dabel Brothers Studio Leaves Alias

I cherish these days when I'm newsblogging instead of newswriting for the sole reason that I don't have to file stories about a studio with loads of problems getting comics out when they say they will get them out leaving a publishing imprint with loads of problems getting comics out when they say they will get them out, and can instead link to a site that did. The sad thing is that any retailer who supported the books now canceled probably had some investment in phantom books, attention and interest that could have been better utilized elsewhere.

There's always a lot of talk about how screwed up retailers as a group can be, and we rarely remind ourselves how publishers and publishing entities keep springing into existence that fundamentally cannot function according to a reasonable standard of getting books out as promised and roughly on time. It's no longer 1983, you know.
posted 9:23 am PST | Permalink

Rafael Fornes Collado, 1917-2005


The esteemed Cuban cartoonist Rafael Fornes Collado died December 18 in Havana. Collado was responsible for two long-running (or at least well-known and influential) strips, Don Sabino and Jose Delores (portion of one depicted above). The best write-up -- okay, the only write-up -- on Collado I know about is in Italian at the site linked through his name above. That entry includes one or two really nice comics in full (including the one above) and indicates part of what seems like the sad story of a career aborted, or at least altered, by political change.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Comic Book Galaxy Picks Best of 2005
E&P: Kate Salley Palmer Book, Exhibit at OSU Puts Moblle Comics Product In One Place
Son: Black Jack Result of Tezuka Career Crisis
Cartoonist Jim Whiting Pens Book on Career

December 21, 2005

Danish PM Hit on Cartoon Issue

According to this news source, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was criticized by a group of the country's diplomats for refusing to take meetings with Muslims on a newspaper's publication of mutliple cartoons depicting Muhammad. The cartoons are considered by some observers to have been an early trigger for riots throughout Europe this fall, and led to an extremist group in Pakistan calling for the death of the cartoonist (actually several cartoonists) responsible.
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink

If Bart Picked Angouleme’s Prizes…


By Bart Beaty
In the Blog as a Special Favor to the Site

I contemplated writing a short essay about the Angouleme Award nominees, taking into account recent trends in French comic book publishing. But then I realized that this year is very similar to last year -- the nominees are spread out widely among publishers (so that everyone gets something?), and it's hard to call it "the year of manga" (that was a few years ago) or "the year of the American breakthrough" (ditto) or the year of the small press (since it isn't) or the year of big publisher resurgence (they never went away). If there's a trend, it's not immediately apparent to me.

So, instead I thought that I'd pick the winners. I'm not handicapping (if no one's wagering, what's the point?), but telling you who I think should win. If I were the only voter, this is how it would break down:

Best Album

imageThis is a tough one to call, as there are several very good books and a number of deserving nominees. I like the fact that Dave Cooper's Ripple is here, but I think that he will do better work. I have to eliminate the David Vandermeulen book because I haven't read it, though now I'm more interested. Several big names are competing here: Jacques Tardi, Chantal Montellier, Floc'h and Riviere, but none are offering their best work, nor work that radically departs from what they've done in the past. If they were the only nominees, I'd go with Montellier. They all do excellent work, and this is more of it. I'd love to vote for Gipi, who is just now becoming known in the States thanks to the Ignatz line. A win by him would be deserved, and an upset. But my pick is Hante by Philippe Dupuy. I reviewed this previously on this site, and I still love it a lot. Moreover, I think that it is a really interesting and significant departure from the M. Jean and Henriette material that he is best known for. This is a brave, confessional album of the type that doesn't come along every day. It deserves the prize.

Best Art

imageThis one is ridiculously tough. The only one that I would immediately drop off would be Jean-Pierre Gibrat, and that's more because I'm not a fan of the style that he, admittedly, does very well. Thomas Ott and Chris Ware and Stephane Blanquet all deserve this award (and Blanquet needs to be much more widely published in English). I love the nomination for Taiyo Matsumoto in this category, and I've already praised Hugues Micol's art in Prestige de l'uniform here. But my pick for the winner is the same guy I'd pick year in and year out in this category: Blutch, for the collected Mitchum from Cornelius. Anyone who would pick against Blutch in an art competition should have their eyes taken away from them.

Best Story

imageHere I'm in trouble, as I've only read half the nominees. I like Guillaume Bouzard's The Autobiography of Me Too Two a lot, but wouldn't necessarily pick it as a prize winner. I haven't read the Mezzo and Pirus, the Cornette and Oiry, or the new Jason book (Hemingway). Of those, I will be picking up the Jason book, and possibly the Mezzo and Pirus. Still, I can't pick on the likelihood that a book might be great (and I have huge expectations for the Jason book in particular). That leaves me Etienne Davodeau's Les Mauvaises Gens and Kazuichi Hanawa's Dans la prison. That is a really insanely tough call. Both are true stories of personal struggle. Both are important, powerful books. There's really nothing to choose between them, and, indeed, I'm surprised in particular that the Davodeau isn't competing for best book, since it's better than several of the nominees. Nonetheless, I'm choosing Hanawa, whose anti-dramatic style makes his prison story that much more powerful.

Best First Album

imageAgain, I've only read three of the nominees. One of those, Eric Powell's The Goon, I consider so slight that I can't even contemplate it seriously for this award. The other two are both interesting books. Cornigule, by Takashi Kurihara, is a very atypical manga published by Cornelius. If you play Katamari Damacy on your PS2, you'll love this off-the-wall book. Kinki et Cosy, by Nix, is Flemish humor strips that I've struggled to follow for years, so I'm pleased to have an edition in a language that I can actually read. These are very close for me, but I'll give it Nix -- it's just funnier.

The Heritage Prize

imageThis is a category with nothing but good books. Look at the artists in this category and find a bad one: Jean-Claude Forest, Charles Schulz, Jaime Hernandez, E. C. Segar, Cliff Sterrett, Osamu Tezuka, Kazuo Umezu. Frankly, if you don't own all of these books, or their original language equivalents, why are you even reading this site? Go buy these books! Read those! Sorry. Anyway, my pick is the Polly and Her Pals reprint from L'An 02. Sterrett is a genius and these are beautifully produced books. Why is no one doing these in English?

Best Series

imageI have almost no interest in this category, which seems like a sop to an old way of doing comics. Both of the American books (Black Hole and Bone) are excellent, but I prefer two of the French ones. Lupus, Frederik Peeters' slacker sci-fi series is a wonderfully witty take on genre expectations, with fantastic art. It's a great series. But I just received Pascin, La Java Bleue by Joann Sfar, and all I can say is: My God! What a book. Pascin has always been the best of Sfar's work, and this hardcover, color album from L'Association kicks it up several notches. This is one of the best books of the year, and it's my pick in this category.

And that's it. If I picked the winners we would have a very well deserving group of artists crossing the stage. We'll find out if the committee sees my wisdom come January.
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink

Le Figaro’s Jacques Faizant Retires


According to an article in the London Times, Jacques Faizant of Le Figaro has retired after numerous decades and tens of thousands of cartoons. Faizant was a front-page institution from the middle 1960s until the late 1990s, and continued to work on a daily basis until October of this year.

above picture from Jours De France, as translated here: "It looks a few like tourists on vacation, but it allows to bring back nice memories!" -- okay, just concentrate on the art.
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Persoff-Posted AA Comix

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Roger Langridge’s Blog

posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: CR Analysis Kicked in Balls, Repeatedly
Missed It: Current Shojo Beat Tweaks Content
Bob McLeod Announces SuperHero ABC Book
Makato Aida and the Fan Experience
Comics to Servicemen Project Profiled

December 20, 2005

Go, Read: Comixpedia Top 25

imageThe news site Comixpedia's list of 25 important webcomics personalities for 2005 is must reading for those of us who don't know as much about the webcomics portion of comics as we perhaps should. You can spend a good pre-holiday half hour just introducing yourself to these major players.

I would imagine it's also must reading for those who know a lot about webcomics, because then they can complain about differences in ranking, omissions, oversights and all the regular fun stuff that comes with an exercise in arbitrary listmaking. I bet you can also make an inference or two about the nature of the field based on what kind of person is valued the most highly, and mark the way the field has progressed by who's not on it, by which I mean if you still think webcomics is Scott McCloud making theory and a bunch of guys doing comics that move when you run your cursor over a panel, you owe it to yourself to bookmark the list.
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink

Burns to Make Superman Documentary

I don't really care all that much about this announcement, but I thought it worth noting as it's almost one of the oldest nuggets of on-line comic book fan "saving comics" rhetoric: "Ken Burns doing a documentary on comics." I'm told via multiple e-mails that the link goes so far as to confuse Ken Burns with someone named Kevin Burns, which makes it that much more amusing to me. Not very informational for you, though, but the holiday season is a season of indulgences, so bear with me.
posted 9:02 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Joe Sacco in WWIII Illustrated

imageI may be the last person to notice this, as I waited to look only when the actual comic fell into my lap, but the recent anniversary issue of World War III Illustrated (#36) contained in addition to the usual combination of all-stars and interesting dabblers a short story by Joe Sacco called "Complacency Kills" about his time embedded with U.S. Troops in Iraq. It originally ran in I think the Guardian, and sat on their site as a massive but worthwhile Adobe Acrobat download for a time. Heck, it may still be there. Anyway, it's a really nice piece, and worth the entire full price ($5) of this issue. I believe WWIII is still repped in the direct market by Top Shelf, a company that also sells directly.

Update: Derik A. Badman wrote in to say that the Guardian still has the Sacco story in computer-locking-up-for-100-days PDF form. In fact, it takes so long on my computer I don't know even know if the link is any good. Click at your own risk!
posted 8:53 am PST | Permalink

Cartoonist Joe Martin Starts Syndicate

Mr. Boffo cartoonist Joe Martin has left the Tribune company to self-syndicate his own strips. Unlike some past efforts where a cartoonist has attempted to keep a single strip alive through working clients on their own, Martin has multiple strips going, access to previous efforts, and plans new features.
posted 8:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Etienne Davodeau’s Site


The cartoonist Etienne Davodeau may turn out to be the darling of this year's French-language comics awards for Les Mauvaises Gens. Luckily for us, he also maintains a nice web site, with both gallery and photos.
posted 6:50 am PST | Permalink

Forward Debuts New Katchor Strip

The Forward is announcing it will debut Ben Katchor's new strip, Shoehorn Technique, extending one of North America's most prestigious publication/cartoonist relationships. As the magazine trumpets in its press release the Forward was also the place where Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, The Jew of New York, Cardboard Valise and Hotel & Farm made their weekly appearances, going back to 1988.
posted 6:44 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Heroes Con Slideshow Available Here
2005 Day Prize Nominees List Cut Down
Peter Brookes Wins What the Papers Say Award
Not Comics: Sydney Leff 1901-2005


December 19, 2005 DC Titles 1-2 Punch has released its annual report on direct market sales for comic books and graphic novels, this time for November 2005:

Comic Book Sales Figures and Rankings
Graphic Novel Sales Figures and Rankings

Nothing leaps out at me, except that it looks like we'll see an effect from DC's controlled-march graphic novels tied into their line transformation on the graphic novel charts. For no particular reason, here are some pull-froms indicating how many comic book titles sell over a certain amount.

Over 200,000 - 1
Over 150,000 - 2
Over 100,000 - 4
Over 75,000 - 15
Over 50,000 - 30
Over 25,000 - 85
Over 10,000 - 168

And, for giggles, last year's version of the same:

Over 200,000 - 0
Over 150,000 - 1
Over 100,000 - 7
Over 75,000 - 18
Over 50,000 - 30
Over 25,000 - 86
Over 10,000 - 169

And, finally, 2002:

Over 200,000 - 0
Over 150,000 - 1
Over 100,000 - 4
Over 75,000 - 8
Over 50,000 - 20
Over 25,000 - 93
Over 10,000 - 181

Okay, enough of that.
posted 9:56 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: New Cabanon Press Books

posted 9:10 am PST | Permalink

Sunday-Herald on Marvel’s 1985 Fumetti

By the time this post rolls out tomorrow morning, I'll be at the gym and someone will have gone on the record at Newsarama or Comic Book Resources saying that Mark Millar's Marvel fumetti project 1985 is not costing Marvel millions of dollars as reported by the Sunday-Herald. There's just no way in hell that's true. If I'm remembering correctly, Millar has a relationship with the writer where these kind of grand overstatements that just so happen to have a key public relations function are par for the course.

Still, I'm not sure the expected backing away from that figure will mitigate the general loopiness and gonzo feeling that accompanies things one reads about the project, qualities I see as a positive. Marvel will lose an organized ground war with DC. Throw in the occasional out-there sounding project like this one, with a talent and personality like Millar fueling it, and Marvel stands a better chance of staking a place for itself in the fan-perception wars. Watch the skies!
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: King-Cat #65 Released

imageLa Mano publisher Zak Sally has announced on this TCJ messageboard thread that John Porcellino's 65th issue of his King-Cat Comics & Stories is now available. The most direct way to buy the comic -- perhaps the only way right now -- is through Porcellino's site. The new issue has a "places" theme. The previous issue #64, a tribute to the cartoonist's late father, is a 2005 book of the year candidate and remains available for order.

In more good news, Porcellino says that issue #66 will be out by the end of the month and may be advance ordered at this time.
posted 5:50 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Satrapi Makes Independent's Favorite Books List
Newspaper's Cowardice Now Trivia Question
Hugo Pratt Collection Leaves Sierre As Festival Did
Ottawa Citizen Challenges Seth on Seth

December 18, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Keith Jones


All in Black and White For a Dollar


Out buying some tupperware I finally ran across one of the digest-sized books Marvel did for the Family Dollar chain, three issues, approximately five inches wide and six and a half inches tall, black and white. I rather liked it, so I'm reasonably certain the effort tanked.
posted 9:47 am PST | Permalink

December 17, 2005

CR Week In Review


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

1. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists enjoys a surge in traffic and editorials for its Black Ink Monday promotion; the Tulsa World uses the occasion to announce its hiring for a staff position.

2. Marvel settles lawsuit with NCSoft and Cryptic Studios over City of Heroes on-line role-playing game. This clears the way its own on-line effort, continues a streak of aggressive litigation, and pushes forward a notion of superheroes defined by the sum total of their qualities rather than a costume and name.

3. A Turkish court of appeal rejects a large fine against a cartoonist who dared to draw Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a horse, weakening for a moment Erdogan's use of the court as a control measure over free expression.

Winner of the Week
Marvel, for getting into a settlement with a lawsuit that conventional wisdom (such as it is) characterized as completely baseless, and launching a new on-line comics initiative.

Loser of the Week
Enoch Teye Mensah, the politican in Ghana who sued cartoonist Akosua for another animal depiction.

Quote of the Week
"I tried drawing on a computer once and I felt as if I was back in kindergarten doing finger paints. I had absolutely no control, and it scared the hell out of me." -- Bill Griffith on a Washington Post chat talking about why the old ways may be best, at least for him.

Bill Griffith's Zippy
posted 8:09 am PST | Permalink

December 16, 2005

Let’s You and Him Fight


In the second go-round of our exciting series of week-long afternoon discussions, comics scholars Bart Beaty and Craig Fischer square off over issues raised in Beaty's Frederic Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture, a new book from University of Mississippi Press.

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five (Today)
posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink

“Child’s Play” ‘05 in Full Swing

imageThis is the time of year that one has to note the progress of the "Child's Play" charitable drive of toys, games and funds for sick children, organized by the folks at the mega-successful webcomic Penny Arcade. According to this article, more than $80,000 was raised at a dinner held in conjunction with the ongoing drive, while the regular site shows overall earning well into six figures. And... well, wow.

As I recall, one of the driving forces behind the effort was to show that gaming enthusiasts, like those who make up a huge percentage of Penny Arcade's audience, aren't as cheap, self-involved and uncaring as the stereotype indicates.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

Telnaes Wins Population Cartoon Prize

Editor & Publisher reports that Ann Telnaes has won a $7000 prize for her cartoon about overpopulation in the 2005 National Population Cartoon Contest sponsored by the Population Media Center. Runners-up were Mike Keefe and Jim Morin.
posted 6:52 am PST | Permalink

New Mattotti More Book Than Catalog


This article talks about how Lorenzo Mattotti tried to turn this book about a recent exhibit into more of a book and less of a piece tied into an exhibit. Either way, the news of a new Mattotti publication means I can post a Mattotti image, so I'm happy.
posted 6:43 am PST | Permalink

2006 Eisner Judges Announced

The judges for the 2006 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced yesterday to comics-related press in an e-mail from Awards Administrator Jackie Estrada. They are:

Christopher Allen: Managing Editor, Comic Book Galaxy; Contributing Writer, The Comics Journal and Movie Poop Shoot; Columnist, "Breakdowns," Comic Book Galaxy. Lives in San Diego area.

John Gallagher: Cartoonist, Buzzboy; Publisher and Designer, Sky-Dog Press; described as the driving force behind the More Fund and Even More Fund anthologies in the press release; member, SPX steering committee; member, Baltimore Comic-Con advisory board.

Nisha Gopalan: Comics Editor, Entertainment Weekly; former staffer, Premiere.

Robert Randle: Purchasing Brand Manager, Diamond Comic Distributors.

Robert Scott: Owner, Comickaze Comics Books and More, San Diego; founder, Comic Book Industry Alliance; publisher, AFC Studio.

The judges will meet in March and will decide on this year's nominations. The 2006 Eisner Awards will be held in San Diego the Friday of Comic-Con International.
posted 6:19 am PST | Permalink

What It Feels Like to Turn 37

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Local Cartoonist Profile: Dane Martin
Not Comics: Stan Lynde Pens New Novel
Not Comics: Chester Gould Award
Not Comics: Ghost Rider Pushed Back to 2007
Stan Lee Transfers Trademarks to POW!

December 15, 2005

Marvel/City of Heroes Suit Settled

Marvel has settled their lawsuit with NCSoft and Cryptic Studios over Marvel's claim that the City of Heroes game and various supplements encouraged the creation and use of Marvel-like characters that would hamper Marvel developing a similar game in the future. The suit was filed late last Fall and a selection of the charges were dismissed in the Spring of '05. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed.

I thought this was an odd case in that everything I read about it -- particularly histrionics from the gaming crowd that this was an attack on the neutral mechanism of character creation that people could potentially use for copying, comparing it to suing a box of crayons -- didn't seem to reflect the actual claim Marvel was trying to make. As I understood it, Marvel was arguing that a confluence of elements within the wider City of Heroes offerings, including prominent sample doppelgangers, meant that copying was not just possible, but encouraged. That nothing will be changed in the game's character creation mechanism doesn't necessarily mean Marvel's concerns in this matter were ignored.

Anyway, what many claimed Zeus-like from the top of a mountain was a case with no merit whatsoever had at least enough to stick around and make a settlement possible. No one would be surprised if the two companies worked together on a distinct Marvel product, and in fact some game industry watchers seem surprised that kind of deal wasn't pursued instead of a lawsuit.
posted 6:57 am PST | Permalink

Viz Funnels Mature Titles Into Line

imageVarious sources are reporting on a press release announcement that Viz Media will push several its more mature, literary titles through something called the Viz Signature line. This includes Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix, Takao Saito's Golgo 13, and Naoki Urasawa's Monster. Viz previously used an "Editor's Choice" designation on some books; any special formatting of the Signature books will not include a change from standard size.

Usually I wouldn't notice this kind of thing, but it occurs to me that 1) there's not a whole lot that's been done to gather titles that might appeal to that crowd into a distinct line that would allow them to stand out from the tidal wave of releases, and 2) this may make easier some special treatment in terms of the company protecting itself against parental backlash.

this cover, I take it, is a mock-up
posted 6:07 am PST | Permalink

I Do This Early in the Morning

Either this was updated since I first scanned it, or I set a new low in personal reading comprehension this week when I tweaked the AAEC for not releasing hit figures on its Black Ink Monday promotion, because there they are, right near the top, at a half-million. With as many cartoons as they were offering, I can't decide if that's a huge, huge number or not, but it's definitely out there.
posted 5:55 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Eat the Press Weighs in on Black Ink Monday
DC Releases "One Year Later" Title List
Profile of African Political Cartoons Profiles Joe Sacco


December 14, 2005

Contest Art on Ebay to Benefit CBLDF

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announces it's able to offer art from an Iron Chef-style drawing battle in which competing groups of mainstream artists "fought" by making drawings according to limited prescriptions. Okay, somehow I made that sound not fun, but I have to imagine it was. Anyway, learn more about who's participating and what's involved here. Go directly to the listings here.

Hats off to the competing artists for putting their art to use for such a good cause.
posted 3:03 pm PST | Permalink

Baaa! Ghana Politician Sues Newspaper

Here's one for the "You win some/you lose some" file. Fresh off yesterday's encouraging news that a Turkish court of appeals has rescinded a fine agains a cartoonist who depicted Prime Minister Reycip Erdogan as a horse comes word that a member of parliament in Ghana has sued a newspaper for what he believes is a depiction of himself as a sheep.

Although the underlying absurdity in the above sentence is fairly apparent to all who read it, there is an important real-world issue in play here, namely politicians using their country's courts -- courts in which they may have an unfair advantage -- to control the message of cartoonists using satire to editorialize as is their right.
posted 7:29 am PST | Permalink

Voice Book List: Seth, Madden, Burns

imageThree comics works made the Village Voice "25 Favorite" list for 2005: Wimbldeon Green by Seth (Drawn and Quarterly), 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style by Matt Madden (Chamberlain Brothers) and Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon). I have no idea how I might connect those works beyond the fact that all three are comics, so forget any pithy summary arriving down that road. It might be of some interest to note that each book comes from a different aspect of modern comics publishing: the prestige line (Pantheon), the small imprint (Chamberlain) and the dedicated comics publisher (Drawn and Quarterly). I guess there's also something to be said for books done using comics to show up on books list with those using prose, but I'm not certain if that really means anything beyond it's nice for comics work to appear on as many lists as possible.
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Black Ink Monday Round-Up II

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists hosts a fairly complete story on how their Black Ink Monday protest went -- including a list of media sources that carried stories.

The only funny thing in the article on a first read is their chiding Tribune Company executive Gary Weitman about not coming clean with how much e-mail he received from unhappy readers, while at the same time only giving the roughest of rough characterizations on how many people visited the organization's site to look at the full collection of cartoons. It seems an admirably reasonable article, though, with a pretty smart statement or two on what something like Monday's effort might conceivably accomplish.
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Bloomerland Song

imageLike the joys to be had in a seasonal viewing of Santa With Muscles, one thing you can count on during the holidays is that there are usually a few books of which little is expected that slip out in November and December that make a strong case for inclusion on comics best-of-year lists. This may be because of a mini-glut that happens in the Fall as books that didn't make it out during convention season join the holiday lists, but I could be totally wrong about that.

This year's late-arriving jaw-droppers are about as different as comics come -- Typocrat's beautiful-looking, wonderfully-paced, and appropriately oversized portrait of fantastic dementia, Six Hundred and Seventy Six Apparitions of Killoffer; and Carol Tyler's unassuming collection of comics that hit like an iron wrapped in a pillowcase, Late Bloomer. Although it's the comics themselves that rip you apart in Tyler's work, the presentation of this latest volume has been really charming -- the review copies came with seeds from Tyler's garden. And now if you go through the picture of the book to the front page and find the appropriate link, you can listen to Tyler's web site's theme song.
posted 7:01 am PST | Permalink

As Long As We Don’t Say Anything

A really disappointing article accessible through the "Publishers Weekly Comics Weekly" e-mail underlines many of the problems that anyone has working with the larger comics publishers when it comes to self-serving spin. DC Comics executives Paul Levitz and Stephanie Fierman together is a great get of which many news sources can only dream. DC's backlist is a fine subject. Unfortunately, the resulting article is little more than a public relations session.
* First, DC Comics won't release numbers, so none of their assertions can be examined under the light of cold, hard fact. (Simply because numbers demand context is no reason to abandon numbers.) This means we have no idea what, say, "strong effect" means when it comes to Endless Nights driving sales to Neil Gaiman's backlist. I see no reason to give DC the benefit of the doubt when it comes to characterizing this fairly, or, really, to ever give them a free platform to make such assertions without noting this fact.

* Second, some of what DC says seems really dubious. "Superstores increase the depth of selection of our books" runs counter to a lot of conventional wisdom that says comic shops carry far more than the couple of racks at Barnes and Noble. "We have the most diverse backlist of any comics publisher" is arguable at best.

* Third, some of the statements beg for obvious follow-up. This statement on Hollywood's effect on graphic novel sales -- "Look at Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary of Gentlemen graphic novel series. A relatively modest film jumped the LOEG graphic novels to #1 sellers" -- just begs a question about a market outcome some direct market retailers strongly assert, that a movie spikes sales but then kills them long-term.

If any of the PWCW people out there wish to defend the article on its own terms, or suggest something along the lines that it should be read not as a report on DC's backlist but a survey on DC's attitudes towards their backlist, I'd be happy to run their letter. Everyone knows how difficult it can be to maintain relationships with publishers who see news sources as marketing vehicles. I think it's imperative to suggest comics readers embrace a level of massive skepticism, not just for sites and writers with limited budgets who embrace a limited scope for their work, but for magazines of record with paid staff and all the access in the world.
posted 6:11 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Bloggers: Vote for '05 Achievements in Comics
Go, Listen: Heidi MacDonald on FBR at 2 PM EST
Swann Graduate Work Grant Information
Sam and Max Return On-Line
Is it Really Called a "Shitler"?
Comics Foundry on What We've Learned

December 13, 2005

Erdogan Loses in Appeals Court

A court of appeals in Turkey has thrown out a fine against a cartoonist who depicted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a horse. Sefer Selvi's cartoon appeared in April 2004 and led to an approximately $7500 fine -- although I admit I'm guessing on that latter fact, what with their being multiple Turkish currencies and my having a general conversion incompetence that usually only rears its ugly head whenever I buy DVDs from Hong Kong.

Erdogan has cases or threatened cases out against Musa Kart and Erdil Yasaroglu for animal-related cartoons they made that would be mild by US publishing standards but nonetheless honked off Erdogan. Erdogan's habit of checking the press by lawsuit has come under fire throughout Europe as a potential issue that could keep Turkey from becoming a bigger economic partner with the West.
posted 10:37 am PST | Permalink

Black Ink Monday Round-Up


Yesterday's "Black Ink Monday" event drew attention to the issue of diminishing editorial cartoonist staff positions, primarily through the membership of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists submitting cartoons on the matter.

Editor & Publisher gauges the early reaction. The Tulsa World responds to the day's events with a "Help Wanted" sign. The Herblock Prize committee does its symbolic best to note the profession in crisis. Meanwhile, a world away, the president of Greece (or one of his speechwriters) gets it right as to why editorial cartoons are important in the first place.
posted 10:26 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Comixpedia ‘05 Roundtable

The webcomics-focused site Comixpedia has gathered together some of the more prominent on-line voices about on-line comics for a discussion of events in 2005. This could make a good companion to Webcomics Examiner's recent discussion of roughly the same scope, or merely provide any number of links to potentially interesting material.
posted 6:27 am PST | Permalink

Alice Cooper’s BBC Superhero History

Apparently, Alice Cooper is hosting a radio documentary on the superhero. From CR reader Matthew Craig:
imageThe programme is called BIFF! ZAP! POW! (don't look at me: I didn't name it), and examines the enduring popularity of comic book superheroes, from their inception in Action Comics #1 to their current cultural renaissance (in the form of the Hollywood blockbuster). The documentary features contributions from genre legends such as John Romita and Roy Thomas, as well as people such as former Marvel UK editor Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys, and dyed-in-the-wool fans such as comedian Stewart Lee, who interviewed Alan Moore for the round-robin radio series Chain Reaction, earlier this year.

The show is on BBC Radio 2 tonight 8:30-9:30 GMT. It may alsos be accessed on-line through the web site.
posted 6:08 am PST | Permalink

J. Chris Campbell’s Free Ornament PDF

posted 6:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Read: Jeet Heer on Krazy Kat and Race
Fanfare/Ponent Mon Signs With Davis Marketing
Predicting the Future Through Editorial Cartoons
OTBP: Comics-Soaked Yeti #3 Finally Released

December 12, 2005

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

A two-part interview with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein, both on the recent wins in the Gordon Lee case and 2005 as a year in review. Part one here; part two here.

Among other tidbits, it looks like the Fund has decided on an a deputy director and will announce that soon.
posted 4:53 am PST | Permalink

Black Ink Monday is All Around Us


Today is "Black Ink Monday," as promoted by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in an attempt to shine a spotlight on the decline of staffed editorial cartoonist positions at newspapers. Two prominent editorial cartoonists recently let go/bought out by the Tribune Company were together the direct antecedent to today's event.

Although a key to the effort is getting print publications to pick up these cartoons and run them, they are being collected by the AAEC here in a massive slideshow.

Related stories can found in the following places: New Zealand wire story, Editor & Publisher, Raleigh News & Observer.

I think the protest is in general a good thing, and agree with the concept that newspapers don't gain as much by eliminating staff editorial cartoonist positions as they could be reviving them and/or putting them to better use. The AAEC is asking that anyone who agrees with their position to consider .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)and saying so.
posted 4:39 am PST | Permalink

Wazem and Macchia Win Swiss Awards


Pierre Wazem and Macchia (album art pictured above) have won the Prix International de la Ville de Geneve pour la Bande Dessinee and the Prix Rodolph Topffer, respectively. You can see the nominees for each award here. If I'm reading what little information there is correctly, the latter of the two prizes is a younger cartoonists' award.

You know, I like the fact the European comics have their awards seasons in basically 10 weeks leading up to their biggest festival. I'm a lot more interested in these awards as they accumulate than I am awards that dribble out over a long period.
posted 4:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Harvey Pekar Artist List

Cartoonist Josh Neufeld has created a list of Harvey Pekar's artists over the years, just the kind of thing to pass a few minutes on a slow, holiday-season Monday afternoon if you're an American Splendor fan.
posted 4:33 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Audrey Nifenegger’s Book List

One of the big ideas that will work its way through comics over the next 18-24 months is what Dan Nadel might call seeing comics in the wider context of visual narratives or visual literature, and what I would call claiming for comics what is comics, or seeing as comics all works that can be read that way. As part of some new program driven by lists made by notable authors, Audrey Nifenegger lists a few comics in the context of a visual narratives list, many of which as described sound sort of like comics to me.

image1. The Depository: A Dream Book by Andrzej Klimowski
2. Salome by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley
3. Maus by Art Spiegelman
4. A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil by Max Ernst
5. Moby Dick by Herman Melville, illustrated by Rockwell Kent
6. Gods' Man by Lynd Ward
7. Life? Or Theatre? by Charlotte Salomon
8. Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay
9. Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
10. The Glove by Max Klinger (above)

Further proof that the borders will be blurred in the months ahead: Jordan Crane's new comic is reviewed alongside more traditional children's literature.
posted 4:16 am PST | Permalink

Robert Sheckley, 1928-2005

The author Robert Sheckley has passed away, according to reports working their way through science fiction sites and related blogs. Although I'm not exactly sure if it's true or what books they mean, this local obituary mentions that Sheckley was involved in graphic novels to some extent. As Sheckley admirer Neil Gaiman points out, the writer is survived by daughter Alisa Kwitney, an author and former DC Comics/Vertigo editor.

Update: Rand Tischler notes at least one comics credit here.
posted 4:12 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Naruto, Viz Bust Charts

I had this news item on my sheet last Friday, but must have passed out before I could put it up on the blog. Viz Media was happy to inform comics-dom assembled that they took the top 13 places on the recent Bookscan chart, a chart that is dominated by various volumes of the Naruto series. Here's that list:

image1. Naruto Vol. 8
2. Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 21
3. Bleach Vol. 10
4. Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 4
5. Hana-Kimi Vol. 9
6. Hot Gimmick Vol. 10
7. Naruto Vol. 2
8. Naruto Vol. 7
9. Naruto Vol. 3
10. Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 20
11. Naruto Vol. 4
12. Naruto Vol. 1
13. Dragon Ball Z Vol. 23

The story of a group of ninjas-in-training revolving mostly around the irreverent lead whose name is the title, Naruto has been serialized in Shonen Jump for a good long time, but has recently popped in North America due to the anime making it onto television.

However, I'm not sure what to make of the news beyond a "Yeah, there it is" nod in its direction. Sales have been shaking out in a way the biggest Viz properties were the biggest franchises with some freshness still in them. The other lessons you can take out of this are sort of easily apparent: television exposure can help manga sales, multiple volumes of a manga can sell well over time as new readers come to a series, and so on. I also feel compelled to point out that Naruto is well done, with cleverly conceived adventure-comic characterizations and imaginative depictions of action.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen or Read: Alt-Comix Chats

There's a transcript of a Friday afternoon discussion hosted by the Washington Post featuring James Sturm and Bill Griffith for your reading pleasure here; Chris Ware's interview with a Boston-area NPR program can be found over here.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Protests Against Muhammad Cartoons Continue
A Freakishly Balanced Comics for X-mas List
Adult-Themed Comics in Library Shocker
Roger Sabin Reviews Adult Graphic Novels
Right-Wing Site Explores Watchmen

December 11, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Bob Andelman


Not Comics: Josh Neufeld and Katrina's Aftermath

The cartoonist Josh Neufeld spent a big chunk of time this Fall in the affected area volunteering to help with Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. He wrote about it in his on-line journal. The first entry about the hurricane is here. The first entry upon Neufeld's arrival in Biloxi is here.

Go, Look: Billy Mavreas Art


Go, Read: Webcomics Essay, Manifesto

I lost a bunch of e-mails last month, so I asked those who didn't get a response from me back then if they had anything for me to link to now. T Campbell took me up on my offer, suggesting CR readers might enjoy taking a look at his essay on the "searchability deficit" facing webcomics, and checking out his recent writing manifesto.

Happy 48th Birthday, Peter Bagge!


Desperately Seeking Nebbish

A person wrote in with this very specific request regarding Herb Gardner's The Nebbishes comic strip.
"I'm looking for a 1950-era cartoon with a Nebbish in the foreground walking to the right while in the background a 'herd' of people are going to the left, complete with signs, arrow etc. pointing to the left. The caption is: "Nobody tells me what to do", in despair or obstinacy, it's the reader's choice."

If you can help with an ID, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

December 10, 2005

CR Week In Review


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

1. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists calls for a "Black Monday" of newspaper business-related cartoons to spotlight the cutting of editorial staff cartoonists. Related stories abound.

2. European Prize Season Heats Up: ACBD Prize, Prix Goscinny, Angouleme Festival Nominations.

3. Bill Jemas back to comics publishing.

Winner of the Week
South African cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro, who won $115,000-plus via a major cultural prize.

Loser of the Week
Marvel -- although it's no great hit in the larger scheme of things, their Stephen King project gets moved back to 2007; more worryingly, King seems 4.5 percent less directly involved in the project's creation with every news cycle.

Quote of the Week
"All these cartoonists are very well paid but they're too cheap to go out and buy themselves a decent chair to sit on while they draw." -- A cartoonist party "insider" on why a chair is given away to the UK press political cartoonist of the year.

Jiro Taniguchi's book is one of many up for the public prize at Angouleme.
posted 7:33 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Review

The Intimates #1-7
posted 7:31 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "List Five of Your Favorite Comics Quotes (Without Attribution)."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 16th.
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink

December 9, 2005

Even if You Build It, There’s No Particular Reason to Think They’ll Come

Comic book mogul Steve Geppi -- and I will never refer to him any other way ever again -- is among those Baltimore leaders trying to attract events to the downtown sporting arenas. I mention this here because of the effect it can have on comics-related institutions, like Geppi's own proposed museum, the existing Baltimore comics convention and, if they go that way again, the Small Press Expo. As we've seen in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe, civic support of comics-related institutions and events can go a long, long way in making and then keeping them viable.
posted 9:49 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Dash Shaw Site Re-Do

posted 9:44 am PST | Permalink

All the He-Man News Fit to Link

I pool potential news stories on a Word document, including a lot of stories that never make it onto the newsroll here. I noted this morning I had available not just one but multiple links featurng 1980s toy icon He-Man. Clark Mollenhoff would be proud.

Here's a slightly sad, odd corporate history, even odder because I think the author has a vested interest in parts of the story and yet it still reads to me like it could be required reading for anyone teaching a course about the benefits and dangers of maximizing a "brand." And here are He-Man's mini-comics, complete with discussion of same.
posted 9:19 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Christmas Skippy Comics


On the 60th anniversary of Percy Crosby's last day of newspaper publication with his juggernaut Skippy -- give or take a day, I'm seeing different dates -- it's nice to note the family-run site dedicated to his memory has posted a selection of his Christmas season newspaper strips.

A concise version of Percy Crosby's story, one of the grandest and saddest in comics history, can be found here.
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

State of Vietnamese Comics Market

The rest of this article seems to me not to match the lead, at least not in a way I can substantiate. On the other hand, it seems a useful, rough picture of the Vietnamese market: buoyed by a young population, dominated by foreign publications, and perhaps a bit more lively 1993-1999 but still strong.
posted 8:52 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Warren Ellis to Take On Shooter's "New Universe"
Truman to Replace Busiek on DH's Conan Series
Aaron McGruder as Seen an Ocean Away
Missed It: Rustle the Leaf Profiled

December 8, 2005

Editorial Cartoonists in Crisis: Local, KAL

David Astor and the folks at Editor & Publisher continue their focus on the issue of editorial cartoonists and shrinking staff positions. Up today is a round-up of Tribune Company cartoonists still with the company, and the role local value plays in their hoping to keep their present positions. There is also a chat with cartoonist Kevin "KAL" Kallugher on accepting the Tribune Company's buyout of his position in Baltimore, one of the events that has led to this increased scrutiny.
posted 7:04 am PST | Permalink

Bill Fraccio, 1924-2005

imageBill Fraccio, so well-known for his work with Tony Tallarico under the combined name of Tony Williamsune that a entry exists for the collaborative team as if they really were one person, has passed away. Although best known for his work at Charlton, Fraccio also published through companies both known (EC, Hillman) and little-remembered at this point (Youthful, Trojan).

Mark Evanier has a much longer piece up at his site today that's well worth your time.
posted 6:59 am PST | Permalink

Zapiro Wins $125,000 Award?

imageI have to be reading the numbers wrong -- maybe the zeroes separated by the space are dropped -- but according to this article, the South African cartoon Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro won a significant amount of money in taking home the Principal Prince Clause Award given out in Amsterdam.
posted 6:54 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Chat With Viz Veep

The folks at the comics business and analysis site provides one of their usual long talks on various retailing issues, this time with Viz Media Sales and Marketing Vice-President Liza Coppola. Here's what I pulled out of it on a first, early-morning read:
1. She sort of punks out OEL manga efforts, suggesting they not even be shelved with the books that originate from Japanese material.

2. She speaks to the difficulty of scheduling when the desires of sellers and active consumers are in competition.

3. The Shojo Beat section is... delicately phrased.

4. Viz has a unique view of a couple of markets: The key to getting into the mass retailers is branding, not publishing. And comics retailers is where cutting edge opinion-makers shop, which is a formulation you don't hear every day.

5. The biggest news of all, if I'm reading this correctly, is that you can buy Naruto headbands at Hot Topic. By my count, this makes the first cheesy headband to potentially hit American middle schools since the glory years of Dez Dickerson.

posted 6:47 am PST | Permalink

Doug Wright Awards to Be Annual Event


Over at the Doug Wright Awards site (click through image), they're announcing the awards will become an annual affair. The next awards will be given out next Spring, and will go to work from Canadian comics authors working in English or wordless form, published between January 1 and December 31 of this year.
posted 6:34 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Pulitzer to Allow Supplemental On-Line Material
Go, Look: Sheldon Release Party Photos
Go, Look: Giant Robot Features Souther Salazar
Latest DC Artist Exclusivity Signing
Another Mainstream-Heavy Comics X-Mas List
So Was Kin Platt the Oldest Golden Ager When He Died in '03?

December 7, 2005

Editorial Cartoonists Update: Miller’s Suggestion and Anderson’s Numbers

Editorial cartoonist and syndicated panel/strip cartoonist Wiley Miller, a generally outspoken advocate on various industry causes and issues, suggests one potential solution to shrinking staff positions for comics that one imagines most people don't want to hear -- those with staff jobs may want to stop syndicating, making the field less of an extreme buyer's market and making the on-staff cartoonist more valuable for a sizeable paper who can no longer pick and choose from those at major publications.

In another Editor & Publisher news piece, readers get the rare, explict description of an editorial cartoonist's client list in a story about how many papers Nick Anderson picked up after winning a Pulitzer. Anderson went from 48 to 70 clients, which the article indicates is pretty remarkable in that crowded field. Now, I have no idea what the pay's like for editorial cartoonists, or how that might be mitigated by days of the week a cartoon is made available and so on. But, if it's anything close to newspaper panel/strip syndication, that client list by itself would only afford the full-time Kentucky paper employee a very modest living.
posted 7:57 am PST | Permalink

Angouleme Announces Prize Nominees

Nominees for the Festival Awards at Angouleme have been announced through their web site and any number of European comics news sites. It seems on a first, bleary-eyed glance as if recent trends continue -- a lot of big names, a reasonably conservative array of books, and a decent sampling of Americans. I also don't see a real breakout book or talent based on nominations only.

North American authors nominated for French language editions of their work include Dave Cooper, Chris Ware, the team of John Wagner and Vince Locke, Jeff Smith, Charles Burns, Jaime Hernandez, Eric Powell and the team of Marc Andreyko and Paul Lee. Volumes featuring work by EC Segar, Charles Schulz and Cliff Sterret are among those in the "Comics Heritage" category.

Names and works familiar to fans of European comics in North America include Jacques Tardi, Thomas Ott, Joann Sfar, Jean-Claude Forest, Osamu Tezuka, Juanjo Guarnido, Taiyo Matsumoto, Jason, Blutch, Nicholas De Crecy, Jiro Taniguchi, and Ralf Konig among many others.

The Festival is scheduled for January 26-29. For more information, I suggest hitting the official site for its list, each nominee accompanied by the appropriate cover. has about half the list linked up.


Prix du Meilleur Album (Best Book)
* Ripple, Dave Cooper, Le Seuil
* Hante, Philippe Dupuy, Cornelius
* Olivia Sturgess, Jean-Claude Floc'h and Francois Riviere, Dargaud
* Notes Pour une Histoire de Guerre, Gipi, Actes Sud
* Les Damnes de Nanterre, Chantal Montellier, Denoel Graphic
* Le Petit Bleu de la Cote Ouest, Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette, Humanoides Associes
* Fritz Haber, David Vandermeulen, Delcourt (pictured)



Prix du Meilleur Scenario (Best Story)
* Le Roi des Mouches, Jean Mezzo and Michel Pirus, Albin Michel
* Hemingway, Jason, Carabas
* A History Of Violence, John Wagner and Vince Locke, Delcourt
* Dans la Prison, Kazuichi Hanawa, Ego Comme X
* Les Passes Murailles V1, Jean-Luc Cornette and Stephane Oiry, Les Humanoides Associes
* Les Mauvaises Gens, Etienne Davodeau, Delcourt
* The Autobiography of Me Too Two, Guillaume Bouzard, Les Requins Marteaux (pictured)



Prix du Dessin (Best Art)
* Le Vol du Corbeau T2, Gibrat, Dupuis
* Mitchum, Blutch, Cornelius
* Gogo Monster, Taiyo Matsumoto, Delcourt
* Le Prestige de l'Uniforme, Phang Loo Hui and Micol Hugues, Dupuis
* Cinema Panopticum, Thomas Ott, L'Association
* Quimby the Mouse, Chris Ware, L'Association
* Chocottes au Sous-Sol, Stephane Blanquet, La joie de lire (pictured)



Prix du Premier Album (Best First Album)
* A la Lettre Pres, Cyrill Pomes, Albin Michel
* Cornigule, Kurihara Takashi, Cornelius
* Essence V1: Otto Bohater, Krzysztof Gawronkiewicz and Grzegorz Janusz, Glenat
* The Goon V1: Rien que de la Misere, Eric Powell, Delcourt
* Le Blog de Frantico, Frantico, Albin Michel (pictured)
* Aya de Yopougon, Clement Oubrerie and Marguerite Abouet, Gallimard
* Kinki et Cosy V1: C'est Encore Loin?, Nix, Lombard



Prix de la Serie (Best Series)
* Pascin, la Java Bleue, Joann Sfar, L'Association
* Blacksad V3: Ame Rouge by Juanjo Guarnido and Diaz Canales, Dargaud
* Lupus V3, Benoit Peeters, Atrabile
* Theodore Poussin V12: Les Jalousies, Frank Le Gall, Dupuis (pictured)
* Bone V11: La Couronne d'Aiguilles, Jeff Smith, Delcourt
* Bouncer V4: La Vengeance du Manchot, Francois Boucq and Alexandro Jodorowsky, Humanoides Associes
* Black Hole V6: Bleu Profond, Charles Burns, Delcourt



Prix du Patrimoine de la BD (Comics Heritage)
* Snoopy et les Peanuts, Charles Schulz, Dargaud
* Hypocrite V1 - Comment Decoder l'Etircopyh, Jean-Claude Forest, L'Association
* L'Ecole emportee V6, Kazuo Umezu, Glenat (pictured)
* Polly and her Pals, Cliff Sterrett, L'An 2
* Prince Norman, Osamu Tezuka, Cornelius
* Popeye, EC Segar, Denoel Graphic
* Love and Rockets V1: Locas, Jaime Hernandez, Seuil



Prix Jeunesse (Young Readers)
* Navis V2, Jean-David Morvan and Jose-Luis Munuera, Delcourt (pictured)
* Sillage V8, Jean-David Morvan and Philippe Buchet, Delcourt
* Kid Paddle V10, Midam, Dupuis
* L'Enfant de l'Orage V2, Manuel Bichebois and Didier Poli, Les Humanoides Associes



Prix Public du Meilleur Album (Public Prize)
* Terre de Reves, Jiro Taniguchi, Casterman
* Blacksad V3, Diaz Canales and Guarnido, Dargaud
* Le Chat du Rabin V4, Joann Sfar, Dargaud
* Les Mauvaises Gens, Etienne Davodeau, Delcourt
* Nana, Ai Yazawa, Delcourt
* Sam & Twitch, Marc Andreyko and Paul Lee, Delcourt
* Cour Royale, Jean-Marc Rochette and Martin Veyron, Albin Michel (pictured)
* L'Aigle Sans Orteils, Lax, Dupuis
* Largo Winch V13, Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq, Dupuis
* Periode Glaciaire, Nicholas De Crecy, Futuropolis
* Roy & Al, Ralf Konig, Glenat
* Bouncer V4, Alexandro Jodorowsky and Francois Boucq, Glenat
* Le Petit Bleu de la Cote Ouest, Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette, Humanoides Associes
* Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, Kana
* Kinky & Cosy V1, Nix, Lombard
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

Pekar Hit Lecture Circuit After Film

Here's a short interview with Harvey Pekar in support of The Quitter that is the usual mix of quotable one-liners and incidental background. Pekar mentions that he took to what I'm guessing is the college lecture circuit after the movie came out. I've long been slightly surprised there aren't a few more cartoonists or comics folk working the $1000-$5000 end of this business; my school used to have random members of the E Street Band come in to lecture.
posted 7:18 am PST | Permalink

Gipi Wins 2005 Prix Goscinny

imageThe Italian cartoonist Gipi has won the Prix Goscinny, a juried award given yearly to a young comics writer or writer-artist. It is named, of course, after Rene Goscinny; past winners include Sylvain Chomet and Joann Sfar.

This article at notes that Gipi -- who may be familiar to English-language readers through his participation in the Ignatz series from Fantagraphics -- has several books out this year (Les Innocents, Notes pour une Histoire de Guerre, Le Bocal and Exterieur Nuit) and is also a contributor to the anthology Black.

This year's distinguished jury included Anne Goscinny and Zep.
posted 6:46 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Not Comics: Worst Con Ever
Newsarama: King "Executive Editor" on Comic Project
Shonen Jump Releases Anniversary Issue
An X-Mas List Like a 1983 Comics Shop
An X-Mas Book Actually Set in 1983
K. Thor Jensen Asks: "Am I a terrible person for wanting to see a vastly expanded version of this image?"

December 6, 2005

Jim Sasseville, 1927-2005


Jim Sasseville, best known to comics fans as a collaborator of Charles Schulz on the Peanuts comic book and the sports strip It's Only a Game, passed away on November 30 in his home in Los Altos, according to a release distributed by his family. He was 78 years old.

James Frederick Sasseville was born in 1927 in Minneapolis, graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art in 1948, where he met his wife, Helga. A veteran of World War II and Korea, the artist became an instructor at the famous Art Instruction Schools. It was there he befriended fellow instructor Charles Schulz. Sasseville would in 1959 move to California to work for Schulz, then beginning to enjoy the fruits of success on his comic strip.

In 1960 Sasseville left cartooning for a thirty-year career as a graphic artist. His family reports he was a fan of bicycle riding and poetry. He recently came to the attention of many comics fans through the publication of the It's Only A Game collection by Nat Gertler's About Comics, a complete run of the strip that included a lot of insightful, frequently humorous commentary by Sasseville.

Survivors include five nephews and five nieces. A memorial service will be held in Palo Alto on December 10.
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink

Black Ink Monday to Spotlight Firings

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists is sponsoring what they call a "Black Ink Monday" for December 12 to draw attention to the general trend of cutting newspaper costs by eliminating staff cartoonist positions. According to the E&P coverage and the article on the cartoonist group's own site, the event will see participating cartoonists going after the issue of corporate downsizing.

As if to underline the point, word spread Monday that Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher is one of 70 employees of the Baltimore Sun to accept a buyout of his position on the Tribune Company-owned paper.
posted 7:26 am PST | Permalink

Scholastic/Collegiate Cartoon Awards


The National Scholastic Press Association/Associate Collegiate Press Cartoon Awards announced winners yesterday.

* College Editorial Cartoon (1st): Conor Geohegan, Mount Royal College
* College Editorial Cartoon (2nd): Sakura M. Christmas, Harvard (pictured)
* College Comic Strip Category (1st): Nate Creekmore, David Lipscomb University
* College Comic Strip Category (2nd): Michelle Gruben, University of Texas
* High School Editorial Cartoon Category (1st): Julian Callos, Hoover High School, Glendale California.
* High School Editorial Cartoon Category (2nd): Sagebelle Wu, Taipei American School, Taiwan.
* High School Comic Strip/Panel Category (1st): David Essman, Marquette High School, Chesterfield Missouri.
* High School Comic Strip/Panel Category (2nd): Lisa Gibson, Briarcrest Christian School, Eads Tennessee.

College winners here; high school winners here.

First place winners receive $500. The awards are co-sponsored by Universal Press Syndicate.
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink

Bill Jemas to Publish Comics

imageFormer Marvel executive Bill Jemas is apparently launching a comics line through a division of his copyright leveraging and enhancement firm 360ep. Jemas was highly regarded for his publishing instincts during his tenure as a driving force at the resurgent, millennium-era Marvel Comics. That's the cover there. Maximizing the resources of a major company like Marvel is worlds away from developing content at your own company, and nothing about this announcement screams big event. On the other hand, it's a different ball game out there now in that a poorly conceived and little known concept can occasionally be finessed into a movie and licensing force.
posted 7:02 am PST | Permalink

King Comic Effort Pushed to 2007

According to a Stephen King web site announcement that found its way into the round-robin of comics industry news, the Stephen King-coordinated Dark Tower comic book series from Marvel has been pushed back to 2007. I don't think this makes a lick of difference as to its potential import at Marvel, which I don't see as a sales savior as much as see promise in the shape of the Marvel/King relationship. The books should start at a time when DC's line re-adjustment has settled, so maybe this delay will be to the project's advantage.
posted 6:44 am PST | Permalink

12-6 Cartoonist Birthday Bonanza

Happy Birthday, Paul Jenkins!

Happy Birthday, Leonard Kirk!

Happy 44th Birthday, Robin Riggs!

Thanks, Elayne Riggs

posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink

Can Anyone Help This Young Artist?

It sure stumped me, so I thought I'd throw it out there hoping that one of you is clever enough to figure something out. I asked the artist to fashion a letter:
Hi everyone, my name's Pete Doree, and I'm a cartoonist with a problem.

I've recently been accepted into The Kubert School for next year ('06), but am having trouble raising funding to attend.

As I'm a British citizen, I'm in a Catch-22 whereby I'm ineligible for UK or USA funding or loan programs, nor can organizations like Xeric or NACAE offer any assistance.

So does anyone out there have any advice they can offer? Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

You can also make suggestions .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

posted 3:32 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Actor Behind CR's Journalistic Role Model Passes Away
ICv2 to Host Graphic Novel Conference at NYCC
Local Collector Profile: Keith Tomlinson
J.P. Trostle Resign in Durham
David Lasky Guest-Edits ComicsLifestyle Blog
Comics Workshops Begin in January

December 5, 2005

ACBD Prize to Etienne Davodeau

image brings word that the French comics critics group L'Association des Critique et Journalistes de Bandes Dessinees (ACBD) has named the winner of its Grand Prix de la Critique 2005 as Les Mauvaises Gens, by Etienne Davodeau. If I'm reading various on-line descriptions correctly, the 180-page volume from Delcourt is a history of the activist, mid-20th Century Left told through the lens of the author's union-member parents.
posted 5:52 am PST | Permalink

Mike Twohy’s “That’s Life” Ends

According to a notice on its site, the syndicated cartoon panel "That's Life" ended on December 3. The panel, by veteran cartoonist Mike Twohy, was with the Washington Post Writer's Group. I'm having a hard time pegging down when the feature started, but at one point it had about sixty clients. Twohy has also been published in the New Yorker.
posted 5:28 am PST | Permalink

Webcomics Examiner’s Best of 2005

The Webcomics Examiner has named its best webcomics of 2005 in a special feature in the new issue, a massive selection of titles that seems sort of a bulky for a best-of listing but rewards the newbie webcomics reader with tons of links to visit.

A Lesson is Learned, but the Damage is Irreversible, Dale Beran and David Hellman
A Softer World, Emily Horne and Joey Comeau
Achewood, Chris Onstad
American Elf, James Kochalka
imageBee: Motel Art Improvement Service, Jason Little
Copper, Kazu Kibuishi
Dicebox, Jenn Manley Lee
Digger, Ursula Vernon, Graphic Smash
Dinosaur Comics, Ryan North
Flick, Mikael Oskarsson, Graphic Smash
Girl Genius, Phil and Kaja Foglio
Hotel Fred, Roger Langridge, Modern Tales
Jellaby, Kean Soo
Little Dee, Chris Baldwin
Cat and Girl, Dorothy Gambrell, Modern Tales
The New Adventures of Death, Dorothy Gambrell
Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life, Adam Reed
The Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch
Salamander Dreams, Hope Larson
Schlock Mercenary, Howard Tayler
Smile, Raina Telgemeier
Something Positive, R.K. Milholland
The Stiff, Jason Thompson, Girlamatic
Templar, Arizona, Spike
Whispered Apologies, Various

Rather than link them up here and remove any obligation to visit the original site, I encourage you to read their write-ups and go to the various comics from their attractive link page. There is a lot of very broadly appealing work on this list. Don't forget the regular array of features, either.
posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink

“Full Story” Index Goes Live

imageAlexander C.P. Danner has created an index site for complete webcomics of all shapes, sizes, orientations and aims at the Full Story page on his web site. I imagine this will be a useful web site in terms of finding example material, or for people to try out various webcomics without stumbling into the heat of daily/weekly updates and live fan interaction. If I'm reading his e-mail correctly, the index may also serve to bring attention to such stories after all the updating and the attention that fades when that kind of anticipatory process plays out.

Danner is a writer who has authored webcomics and written about them.
posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Really Rich Funnybook Icons

Kevin Melrose writes in to remind me Forbes has run its annual list of the 15 wealthiest fictional characters, which include comics luminaries such as Lex Luthor, Bruce Wayne, Daddy Warbucks and Scrooge McDuck. Warbucks is constantly losing his money and spending months on the road as a hobo, so I'm trying to figure out how they have him so high on their list. It would be quite awesome if rich people on Forbes' real-life list were constantly losing their cash and taking to the road with bindles before making dramatic comebacks.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Josh Cotter’s “Send Help”

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

UK Cartoonists: Drinking, No Dancing

For some reason, these throwaway lines about cartoonists in an Independent article comparing various Christmas parties to crash (in itself a great feature article idea) struck me as pretty darn funny.
The atmosphere: The cartoonists allegedly have too much to drink, but draw the line at dancing. The award for the cartoon of the year is decided on the night, so cartoonists turn up to vote for themselves. The winner traditionally receives a chair. "All these cartoonists are very well paid but they're too cheap to go out and buy themselves a decent chair to sit on while they draw," says an insider.

posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Local Cartoonist Profile: Barry Corbett
Dick Wright Leave Paper for Pulpit
Whatever Happened to Aaron Warner?
Result of Huntsville's Cartoonist Search
Liberian Cartoonist Assaulted, Robbed

December 4, 2005

CR Sunday Magazine

Go, Read: An Interview With Joe Casey


This is an update to my very, very long interview with the comics writer that appeared in The Comics Journal in 2003. We discuss his recent projects, pet rocks, the Serpent Crown, and why comics in the 1970s are better than comics now.

Go, Look: Saelee Oh


There's a ton of art here, including some oddly beautiful cut-out work.

Initial Thought of The Day

I may not own a bunch of action figures, nor is there a pull box somewhere with my name on it, but I stand with most comic book fans in that while I may have a hard time remembering who my congressperson is, I can remember individual panels of a dopey comic book I read 30 years ago.


As I recall, the most disturbing image in the lead story from the above wasn't dead Santa there but Green Lantern Chuck Yeager cracking his head in the shower and the ring bailing on him for the back-up. This was scary because minus the ring getting in and out of the shower was something I did, and I was pretty certain I could fall and crack my head any second thanks to this comic. I believe the story also had one of those great Phantom Stranger walk-ons, which were notable because Phantom Stranger would literally walk on, like it was a sitcom. He would almost wave at the audience.

The Justice Society back-up had some great sentimental nonsense about growing up as a street tough and then warned kids away from gang violence via a big youth gang vs. youth gang action scene that had the opposite effect. I immediately began calling my friends 1940s nicknames like Short-Time and Knuckles in the hopes that we would get together into one of these anti-violence violent gangs. The Zatanna story was probably in that big crossover I can't quite remember; great superpower, though. Even in that tuxedo, Zatarra was so skeevy that even at five years old I figured there was a chance his daughter couldn't find him because he was sleeping one off somewhere.

CR Readers are the Best Readers I Know

imageLongtime CR supporter Gus Mastrapa wrote in this week to promote his recent article on Nintendogs -- it makes me wonder if it's possible for comics to ever do something quite that sociable. He says the article in-print at Minnesota Monthly contains an illustration by Terry Colon. Gary Dunaier writes to remind me that he was the one who alerted me to the DC superheroes on stamps thing back in August. Thanks, Gary! Dan Lacey at Faithmouse took the occasion of my borrowing (*cough*) of a Carl Giles image he had uploaded to point out that the place of origin I linked it back to is a well-connected conservative Christian cartoon and blog. Who knew? Speaking of the Lord, I've noticed via a few e-mails and Mark Evanier having mentioned it that industry veteran Buzz Dixon has finally found a partner in publishing for his studio's Christian OEL manga project, Serenity (some characters pictured above). I hope when I get caught up with the my criminally overcrowded interview docket to ask Buzz about that unique market.
posted 9:04 am PST | Permalink

December 3, 2005

CR Week in Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, November 26 to December 2, 2005:

1. Four of seven charges dismissed by prosecutors in the Gordon Lee case.

2. We now know how much a cartoonist is worth: group in Pakistan issues $8200 offer for head of offending cartoonist submitting cartoons with depictions of Mohammed in a Denmark newspaper (it was actually a series of cartoonists; fundamentalists are notoriously bad at detail work).

3. No Punches Pulled Week: Doonesbury hits hard at President Bush on frat hazing/torture connections; Signe Wilkinson hits Philadelphia even harder for black on black violence.

Winner of the Week
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: four charges gone, including both of the felony charges.

Loser of the Week
Orlando's MegaCon, as Wizard has now entered into partnership with the New York City Comic-Con running on the same date.

Quote of the Week
"I thought that since nobody's really written anything interesting about EC Comics I'd write about what it was like being a kid who was a fan of them. So I submitted to the Comic Buyer's Guide and they turned me down. [laughs] Then I sent it to the Comics Journal, I waited a few months and I called them up, and they said 'We never got your submission' so I resubmitted it and waited a few months. I called them back and they said 'We never got your submission.' So I sent it to them a third time and they said 'oh, we're going to print it.' Then they called me back a couple months later and they said 'Look, the printer lost your article.' So when I stopped laughing I sent them another copy and they published it. -- Bob Levin at Suicide Girls on how to forge a relationship with a comics publisher. It's funny because it's true.
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 Great Comic Strip Collections (Single Volumes Only)."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 9th.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

December 2, 2005

Four of Seven Charges Dismissed in Thursday Hearings on Gordon Lee Case

In a pretrial hearing in Rome, Georgia on Thursday, prosecutors dismissed four of seven counts against comics retailer Gordon Lee, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reported Thursday evening.

Dismissed were both felony counts of "Distribution of Material Containing Nudity or Sexual Conduct" and two misdemeanor counts of "Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material" to alleged John Does. Remaining are three misdemeanor counts of Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material to the alleged victim. These have yet to be ruled upon.

The results of hearings in front of Judge F. Larry Salmon were welcomed by the Fund, their Atlanta-based lawyer Alan Begner, and local attorney Paul Cadle.

With motions made moot by the dismissals, lawyers argued the constitutionality of the "Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material" both in and of itself and as it applied to Lee's case. Accroding to the Fund, this involved a challenge based on the material in question. Cadle argued the decision to pursue three different misdemeanor counts.

The Gordon Lee case stems from a copy of the giveaway Alternative Comics #2, featuring some non-sexual nudity in a story about Pablo Picasso, finding its way into the hands of a minor doing a community Halloween promotion.

The Fund is presently continuing to raise money to fight the case through a series of auctions.
posted 4:38 am PST | Permalink

Yours for $12,000 or Perhaps More


This is the iconic Batman: Year One cover image by artist David Mazzucchelli. I only hope that no one reads the item below this one and gets any ideas.
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink

$8200 Bounty on Cartoonists’ Heads

According to this article, the Jamaate-Islami group in Pakistan has placed an $8200 bounty on the head of what they believe is a single cartoonist responsible for creating a series of cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed that ran in the Denmark daily Jyllands-Posten. These were actually cartoons from 12 different illustrators, some of those solicited by the paper to make an editorial point about restrictions on depictions of certain figures.

A few observers have suggested the negative reaction to those cartoons established a precedent for more sustained and violent youth protests that followed in France and in other European countries in one of the bigger international news stories of 2005.
posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink

Wiley Miller Makes Claim For Color

Here's something interesting in an otherwise innocuous press release about Wiley Miller's new book: Miller makes the claim that he started the current way of doing more textured color in the comics page. I don't know if this is true, or if this is something that a lot of people would discover at the same time given computer technology at the time, or what, but I have no reason to not believe Miller.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Lawrence Klein Leaves MoCCA Post

Heidi MacDonald does a nice job of reporting this story about founder Lawrence Klein leaving the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art presidency; I have nothing to add to the hard news aspect at this point.

I would imagine much of Klein's legacy depends on if and how the museum continues to develop. MoCCA has a fine head start, and some broad support, a popular arts festival, programming initiatives and a broad mandate. One can argue that while plans for Mort Walker's National Cartoon Museum to move into Empire State Building digs is a blow against MoCCA's hopes to do the same, the history of Walker's museum is one of overreaching itself and that if slow and study doesn't win the race, it might win a place for itself no matter what Walker ends up doing.

Klein's departure may prove to be beneficial for getting a new public face out there and with it a potentially different general approach to fundraising. Most people seem to like new president and former COO Ken Wong; my few dealings with him were positive as well.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Read: Slate Critic's Odd Piece on Watchmen
E&P Weighs In On Signe Wilkinson Klan Cartoon
Patrick McDonnell Designs PETA Christmas Card
Lucia Rather is Lecturing on Political Cartoons

December 1, 2005

Philly Commish Slams Signe Cartoon


Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson apparently did not like Sunday's Daily News cartoon about black on black violence.
"'I take it as a personal insult,' Johnson said. 'Not just as the police commissioner, but as an Afro-American here in the city of Philadelphia.'"

Here's a sample of the Daily News' letters on the cartoon. Wilkinson recently celebrated 20 years as a fixture of Philadelphia news media.
posted 10:41 am PST | Permalink

Wizard to Work With New York Con

Although not much of a surprise to anyone who noticed Wizard had been selling tickets on a dedicated page at their own con site as if the show was one of theirs, Wizard and Reed Exhibitions announced their plans to work together for the forthcoming New York Comic-Con, which honestly sounds a lot like a Wizard show with every guest they announce.

This is a huge face-saving move for Wizard, after last year's Atlanta con fiasco (Wizard withdrew from a reservation at a convention center after complaints of competition with the popular Charlotte Heroes Con, then tried to act like they had no plans in the first place) and after reported weak attendance at the Boston and Texas conventions. Many thought Wizard had been trumped by Reed in that they had been working their way up to planning a New York convention; now, in a sense, they have one.

The con is set for February 24-26 at the Jacob Javits Center.

Here's that release, as a document:

posted 7:42 am PST | Permalink

Let the Licking Supergirl Jokes Begin


I could have sworn this was reported or at least leaked months ago, and maybe it was, but the official news of DC Comics characters and covers appearing on stamps has certainly delighted a lot of folks and put some e-mails into my mailbox from older relatives. Mark Evanier covered it well here, with follow-ups here and here. I always like reading the press release on the background of new stamps, and you can get the DC backgrounds there, too. You cand find bigger versions of all these stamps here.

As I understand it, stamp initiatives like this one exist in both that social recognition sense but also, crucially, to encourage collectors to buy stamps that will not be exchanged for that amount of US Post Office services.
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink

Blois Festival Honors Lorenzo Mattotti


The jury at the 2005 comics festival at Blois gave their Grand Prix to Lorenzo Mattotti, noting his contributions span several publishers in several countries and journalistic organs ranging from Le Monde to The New Yorker. Other awards included:

* Prix Jacques Lob: Corbeyran
* Prix Ligue de l' (6-10 year olds): Hyper l'hyppo de Nemiri et Morvan (Delcourt)
* Prix Conseil General (11-15 year olds): Matt et Higgins de Francois Roussel (Soleil)
* Prix Region Centre: Dans la secte de Pierre Henry et Louis Alloing (la boite a bulles)
* Prix NR: Li-An pour Fantomes Blancs (Vents d'Ouest)
* Medailles en chocolat: Gilles Ratier (secretary-general, ACBD) Fluide Glacial (30 years old), Gerald Forton
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

Leunig Explains Sedition Law Position

The cartoonist Michael Leunig explains his opposition to anti-sedition laws working their way through the Australian government in this lengthy article in an arts section article on an Australian news site. As has been noted here, Leunig is among those who questioned the wisdom of such laws and its effect on what a cartoonist and artist does just in the natural course of their jobs.

posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Keynote Speaker at Shuster Awards: Gerard Jones
New Standard Feature: Comics Gift Guides
Tokyopop Germany to Team With Viz Media Europe
Layne Toth Media Juggernaut Continues
Schwalenberg Wins Red Dot Junior Prize

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