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

January 31, 2006

“Family-Owned” Appeals to Marlette

Editor & Publisher has a nice little story about one of Doug Marlette's reasons for moving to the Tulsa World: it's family-owned.
posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Rose Ellison King, 1942-2006


Rose Ellison King, writer for the strip Flo & Friends, died of complications from breast cancer on January 18. She was 63 years old.

The Cleveland resident started providing one-liners to senior citizen-themed strip Flo & Friends in 2002, and became the feature's primary writer on the death in 2005 of John Gibel.

She was an also art director at American Greetings.

Survivors include a husband, brother and two sisters.
posted 7:45 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: LJ Comics Collective Debuts

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Albert Morse: 1938-2006

imageAlbert Morse, one-time lawyer to R. Crumb and other cartoonists, a collector of original art and publisher of a self-named late-period underground comix title Morse's Funnies, died on January 22 from complications due to kidney disease. He was 67. My memory is that Morse's track record gaining satisfaction for Crumb during the "Keep on Truckin'" public domain fiasco, where Crumb's piece of art became for a time a ubiquitous, "Kilroy was Here"-style piece of public art, was less than exemplary.

On the other hand, I've never seen these photographs, and they're kind of nice.
posted 7:43 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Frank Miller Huge Last Minute Addition to WonderCon
Not Comics: Local Praise for Hamlin Documentary
Detroit Cartoonist Does Special Super Bowl Series
The Barry Goldwater Story Made Me Laugh
Brian Augustyn Joins Narwain Effort

I’m Only Doing This For the Letter From Calvin Reid, Not Because I’m Any Better

Paragraph 17?
posted 6:58 am PST | Permalink

Jyllands-Posten Statement Leads Danish Muhammed Cartoon News Update

The Times of London has the best of all the available summaries on forward movement in the story of protests in reaction to last September's publication of Muhammed in a cartoon contest hosted by the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and their subsequent, more recent publication in Norway: Editor Carsten Juste issued a statement that apologized for the offense but not the action (in English here), protests and denouncements continue throughout the Middle East, and, perhaps most interestingly, Danish muslim leaders take a step back in the light of events like threats against Danish tourists abroad and adopt what looks like a much friendlier stance towards the apology.

For a little context, here's an interesting article from Reason last November about the general pressure European media sources have felt from Islamic groups. Plus, apparently, the European Union has Denmark's back.

My old link for some of the cartoons themselves no longer works -- the political blog Brussels Journal has been covering the story more vigorously than any other news source. They reprint all 12 cartoons in this post; they're probably also the place to go if you want more exact timing on the story's various developments the last few days.
posted 4:17 am PST | Permalink

NY Times on Frisell/Woodring Show


art pulled from the woodring web site; not from the show
posted 4:09 am PST | Permalink

Otakon Puts Limits on Fan Art

Via Comixpedia comes notice that Baltimore's Otakon has instituted a policy to keep artists in its Artists' Alley from the "selling of commissions or prints that utilize any depictions of copyrighted material, even though the artwork involved is original and not a reproduction of any actual existing images." If I'm understanding that correctly, that's pretty much saying that Artists' Alley can't do what Artists' Alleys generally do. If there's a compelling legal or business reason for this that matches the likely fan and artist backlash, that could prove to be a pretty interesting story.
posted 3:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Charles Burns Interview


Via Flog!
posted 3:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Moore and Moorcock

Jeff Newelt writes in:
You need to register, but just found the talk broken into four downloadable mp3's here... Alan Moore chatting with Michael Moorcock

Thanks, Jeff!
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Go, Read: Paul Pope Profiled

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January 30, 2006

Go, Look: Comic Shop Map

Dan Shahin of Hijinx Comics is making a map of North American comics shops, if you're so inclined as to participate.
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Pat Oliphant to Keynote Truman Fundraiser
Local Comic Shop Profile: MacGuffin
Local Cartoonist Profile: Brian Anderson
International Students Flock to Mollywood

January 29, 2006

Danish Cartoon Story Erupts

A bomb targeting a joint Danish-Iraqi patrol in Iraq yielded no casualties, but speculation in the story's first paragraph that the attempt was made in relation to the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammed in a Denmark paper shows just how nasty protests against the cartoons have turned in the last week. In what may be the weekend's top international news story, the Danish flag was burned in the West Bank, while Palestinian gunmen briefly took hold of an EU office and demanded an apology for the 12 cartoons, which also showed up in Norwegian media this month. In less violent but still provocative moves, Libya closed its embassy in Denmark , there was a sit-down strike in Kuwait, and there's some debate over the effects of a called-for regional boycott of Danish goods. Strong rhetoric continues unabated. Implications for specific industries around the world could also loom large in the days ahead.

At issue seems to be the Jyllands-Posten newspaper's right to assert its free speech rights under the shadow of just such a reaction against those who find the depiction of Muhammed to be blasphemous, with a middle ground perhaps to be uncovered in some theorizing that to assert those rights was provocative for the sake of provocation -- which isn't to say that's the correct or even a particularly wise take, but simply one that's less extreme and more to the point than the battle of abstract giants that is free speech vs. defamation. A distressing side note seems to be that many of the editorials I've read assert that one cartoonist did the cartoons, which isn't true, and goes to show how a story like this can build on partly false premises.

Update One: President Clinton Condemns Cartoons.

Update Two: From Erik Melander comes word that Swedish media is reporting that Islamic Jihand and the Al Aqsa martyrs brigade are demanding all Norwegians, Danes and Swedes leave palestinian areas within 48 hours. The Swedish ministry is adivising Swedes not to the travel to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The newspaper Dagens Nyheter on the threats to Scandinavians in Palestine.

That second source is also reporting that two groups, including the Organization of the Islamic Conference, are trying to bring the entire matter to the UN General Assembly in the hopes that a resolution be passed against Denmark.
posted 11:38 pm PST | Permalink

Doug Marlette to Tulsa World


The Tulsa World has announced the hiring of Doug Marlette to its open editorial cartoonist position. In addition to being a well-regarded and Pulitzer Prize-winning (1988) editorial cartoonist, Marlette is also a strip cartoonist and a prose author. Any movement in the editorial cartoon ranks is worth noting these days as the role of the staffed editorial cartoonist, and the decline of such positions, has become a generally controversial issue. In this case, the position became open when the World's previous cartoonist had been caught copying work from other cartoonists. Marlette was most recently at the Tallahassee Democrat. No word yet on if Democrat will replace Marlette with another staffed cartoonist.
posted 11:28 pm PST | Permalink

Love Manga Muses on Tokyopop Story

Here's a long, self-reflective post from David Taylor about last week's Tokyopop story that proves reasonably interesting as a look at how such a story breaks and is reported, including the role of rumors and opinion-makers. I don't buy the subtle assertion that this was perhaps not a story -- it's 1/10th of a major company's workforce, including at least one name employee -- nor do I think speculation is off-limits when it comes to a company in Tokyopop's unique market position, but it's interesting to hear another side at least given some credence.

In an unrelated post Taylor recommends this interview with Dark Horse's Philip Simon on Dark Horse's manga program, which is worth noting as I really don't recall Dark Horse editors doing a lot of interviews.
posted 11:16 pm PST | Permalink

Steve Rude to Self-Publish


The artist Steve Rude has announced a self-publishing schedule that will feature new issues of his Nexus and Moth series, as well as a one-man anthology title. Although self-publishing in print isn't as popular as it once was, it may be the best option for an artist with a devoted following like Rude has to maximize returns on serving that audience.
posted 10:44 pm PST | Permalink

Angoueleme and Trondheim Round-Up

We'll have a report from Bart Beaty when he gets back to North America and files, but in the meantime here is a sampling of links related to last weekend's Angouleme Festival and new Grand Prix winner Lewis Trondheim: comics by Trondheim by American publisher Fantagraphics; comics by Trondheim by American publisher NBM; entry on Trondheim; on Trondheim winning Grand Prix; message board thread on Angouleme; a Spanish blog on Trondheim's win; The Great Curve wants the prize winners translated now; a slideshow of photos including a lot of great building mural shots; another slideshow featuring a lot of snowy shots; blog report claiming it was "fuck-a-duck cold"; Rich Watson notes the Premier Album Prix winner; BDZoom on Trondheim winning the Grand Prix; and finally, I imagine that has at least some pictures up, but the site's down this morning so a general link will have to do.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

U.S. Army Honors Garry Trudeau

posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

CCS in Boston Globe’s Best Ideas

Not only is this a nice little write-up for The Center for Cartoon Studies as they head into their second semester, it also lists the tuition.
posted 9:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Joji Bigo Wins 27th Yomimuri Contest, $17,100
Jean Plantu Visits Clemson
Bill Watterson Gives Permission to Ice Sculpture
WonderCon Partners Up With Lucasfilm


Lewis Trondheim Wins FIBD Grand Prix


A great selection.
posted 3:20 am PST | Permalink

January 28, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Preview: Jean-Jacques Sempe From Phaidon


Phaidon is in the midst of releasing several English versions of books from Jean-Jacques Sempes, and sent out samples from four books this last week. It may take a minute for this to load by clicking through the picture above, but the cartoons are worth it.

Special Feature: The Five Worst Gateway Comics on Planet Earth, or What Not to Give Someone If You Want Them to Start Reading Comics and/or Keep Dating You


Data Errata

* Donna Barr is looking for a few additional pin-ups in conjunction with the final comic featuring her Stinz character. I didn't even know there was a last comic coming up featuring the Stinz character. Contact her by clicking .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

* Not comics, but still interesting: the writer and advocate for older comics creators Clifford Meth has a new prose book out that features cover and design work by Steranko.

* Again not comics: cartoonist Josh Neufeld is self-publishing a prose book collecting his journal entries from time spent in the Gulf Cost region helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: Katrina Came Calling.

Go, Look: Comics Panel in Panels


Initial Thoughts of the Day

You know what I like about the Angouleme prizes? There's only like seven or eight of them. And yet somehow they manage to provide a compelling snapshot of the entire comics industry as seen from the vantage point of the French-language market.

I'm also fond of the grand prize honor, given to a cartoonist who becomes the head of next year's committee and a focus of the show, as well as a usually willing and natural partner in public relations. Why hasn't SPX ever done something like this?
posted 7:30 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, January 21 to January 27, 2006.

1. Angouleme kicks off with protests from small-press publishers; Gipi and Etienne Davodeau the major stars out of the awards.

2. Political fallout begins to crop up from the Danish Muhammed cartoon publication; could become a huge story if political responses continue.

3. Firings at Tokyopop, as they reduce about 1/10th of their workforce; rumors of bigger changes fly about, as one might expect.

Winner of the Week
Buenaventura Press, announcing they're partnering with Avodah Books for the next Kramers Ergot and rolling out an impressive array of books in general.

Loser of the Week
The average comics consumer, who will be faced with a confusing onslaught of new titles and new creative teams through a market system that does not respond all that quickly to changes in demand. I think you can expect more conservative buying than if such changes were phased in slowly.

Quote of the Week
"Aren't they all?"
-- Alan Moore's take on the imaginary story status of his "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" which was gracelessly excised along with the paragraph preceding it in the latest DC Comics collection.

Ron Rege in Kramers Ergot 6
posted 2:41 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Comics That Taken Together Paint a Portrait of the Comics Industry as It Stands Right Now."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 3rd.
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This Week’s Reviews

· Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga: From Blankets to Demo to Blacksad
· Poor Sailor
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink

January 26, 2006

2006 Angouleme Prize Winners

















posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

Danish Muhammed Cartoons Update

Two wire stories hit this morning concerning political development related to last Fall's publication of cartoons depicting Muhammed in a Denmark paper, reprinted in Norway early this year. First, Saudi Arabia has reportedly pulled its ambassador. Second, the Jordan parliament has called for the cartoonist (actually several cartoonists) to be punished.
posted 9:35 pm PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Bone Stage Adaptation


A mix of puppets and live actors, this could be really interesting or a total train wreck. Northwestern is a sort-of hotbed for movement- and prop-based theater like this, and has a strong children's theater identity besides, so the venue seems appropriate.
posted 9:25 pm PST | Permalink

Dylan Horrocks Named Literary Fellow

The cartoonist Dylan Horrocks has been appointed a literary fellow at the University of Auckland for 2006. As it's been explained to me, this is a lot like a writer in residence program (or perhaps exactly like a writer in residence program). The university's press release -- available below as a word document -- says that Horrocks plans to continue to work on his graphic novel in progress Atlas while at the university, as well as Venus: the Secret Comics of Arthur Holly and a number of short comics. He is also compiling a collection of short stories.


Link to same release.
posted 9:15 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Hope Larson’s New Comic


Another read-in-progress possiblity for those wishing to follow a work as it's published on the Internet. The cartoonist's next book is previewed here.
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Dilbert’s Take on Alternate Endings

It's a pretty common practice for a strip to offer an alternative on a strip likely to worry some of its client editors; I'm not sure how common it is to have alternate panels, or to offer either up in so cavalier a fashion as Scott Adams discusses here. It makes me think that before too long, someone will figure out a way to make variations in plot a part of a storyline or the basis of a contest or something along those lines.
posted 8:45 pm PST | Permalink

Firings at Tokyopop; Reorganization?

Tokyopop announced a slight reduction in work force yesterday morning, a group of five to ten people to include Vice President of Sales and Distribution Steve Kleckner. The comics business news and analysis site has an analysis of the situation and the company's make-up currently and for the period just past.

As this isn't the first minor "reorganization" at the company, this latest and more public move should lead to increased speculation that Tokyopop is going through a period of constant readjustment because of a decline in sales as the company finds itself in greater competition for licenses and struggling to adopt programs to mitigate dependency on same (cinemanga, an agressive original English-language line). It should also increase speculation the company is getting its rows in order so that it can be sold, which is likely to remain a backroom rumor for years even if it's totally not true.
posted 8:15 pm PST | Permalink

DC Builds Post-Crisis II Sales Profile

Event comics are (comparatively) easy; using those events to build interest and add emphasis to an entire line is hard. One of the key cogs in DC's current strategy to exploit the bounce in interest from its Infinite Crisis thingamadoo is a 52-week series called, imaginatively "52," that should act as a transition between the various cross-world throwdowns and the new status quo. Newsarama has a nice piece that reveals DC strategy regarding that series. Weeklies, follow-ups, and fill-in-the-blank stories are all notoriously tough sells; on the other hand, DC seems to be pursuing a long-range plan of introducing as many sales platforms and marketing strategies as possible to keep fan resistance building up to any one approach. I'm slightly dubious that once an audience is primed for special events there can be an easy return to solid performance across a list of serial comics, which I think inevitably leads to more stunts, which over time leads to exhaustion and broad, not insignificant decline.
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Go, See: Brooklyn Comics Art Show

posted 7:15 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Konami to Make Interactive Comic Book
Gallery to Host Drawing Exhibit with Crumb, McCarthy
Harvey Jerkwater Interviews Writer Steve Englehart
Local Cartoonist Profile: Tony Murphy

FIBD in Angouleme Begins; Small Press Publishers Start Counter-Festival

imageThe Festival International de la Bande Dessinee kicks off today in the town of Angouleme in France. This is Europe's biggest comics festival, and many feel it's the medium's most extravagant showcase in terms of the breadth of the weekend's participants and exhibits, the great stew of so many comics folk from so many different comics cultures on hand in a public setting. I know there are some American cartoonists and comics folk over there right now, like Dave Kellet, Jeffrey Brown and I think Alvin Buenaventura of Buenaventura Press. It's definitely a big-publisher show, though, very much the face of the European mainstream. Marvel's Joe Quesada wrote an interesting travelogue (albeit a very long one) about attending last year. The only gossip out of this year's show is I'm hearing from a few people that construction and infrastructure changes in Angouleme -- the festival is spread throughout the town -- have left some publishers unhappy with their new locations, which may lead some people to being on hand at the show without being in their official designated spot. I'm sure Bart Beaty will tackle this subject in his report at the festival's conclusion if there's anything to it.

Speaking of which: please read Bart Beaty's Angouleme preview, which gives you a rundown of what he's likely to be doing and what's in store for the weekend.

Update: Bart just sent me the following at 1:15 PM ET: "Breaking News: Pirates in Angou! Small Press, led by L'Asso and Cornelius, break with FIBD, start counter-festival. Details to follow!" So I'm guessing some of the rumors had a bigger consequence than what I expected.
posted 12:32 am PST | Permalink

1:58 AM in the Mainstream Comics Bar

It may be because I don't pay as much attention to that side of comics as I should, but it seems like there's an enormous amount of pairing up between mainstream comics creative teams and properties right now. There's the general creative reboot that DC is trying after its latest gigantic event series that's leading to things like Paul Dini on a Batman book, Marvel seems to be putting in new X-Men writers with Mike Carey and Ed Brubaker, and lists the latest teams on a relaunch of the sturdier-than-one-might-have-guessed WildStorm superhero titles.

It's always good to see deserving talents put on books that might flatter their efforts. On the other hand, so much movement seems like a lot for a market to swallow, particularly a market that seems to go through a cycle of reboots, new eras and do-overs once every 20 months. One might hope in terms of a healthier market that the mainstream companies so good at the initial hook-up are working just as hard to foster the related skills of developing these titles with these creators and rewarding the ones that are working out with the appropriate amount of marketing support.
posted 12:13 am PST | Permalink

January 25, 2006

Missed It: Lauren Weinstein Interview

posted 11:57 pm PST | Permalink

Five Comics Works on YALSA List

Guy Delisle's Pyongyang, Kazu Kibuishi's Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, Will Eisner's The Plot, Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright and a volume of Brian K. Vaughn's Runaways all made the 91-title Best Books for Young Adults 2006 list compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association. The Runaways volume made the top 10 list. The annual list was released during the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association in San Antonio ending Wednesday.

(If I missed one, please someone tell me.)
posted 11:14 pm PST | Permalink

Bendis, Achewood: New Radicals

Brian Bendis and Chris Onstad's on-line strip Achewood are on sex and culture magazine Nerve's unfolding honor roll of all that is... well, hell if I know. The list also includes Kelly Ripa in post-post-ironic fashion, and Chow Yun Fat, who has been making these kinds of lists since at least 1991.
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Real Men Cartoonists: Number One in a Series of One
Then You Go To Study Hall and Read Calculus Books
Licensed Property Seeker Signs Licensed Property
Calvin's Brief Return Confuses Third Graders

Not Comics: Loompanics Closing Shop

It looks like this was announced maybe a week ago, I don't know. Loompanics was an underground-type publisher that employed some cartoonists for art chores and the like over the years.
posted 4:58 am PST | Permalink

Go, Buy: Ganges #1


If you see this at the funnybook store today, buy it. Really. Trust me.
posted 4:19 am PST | Permalink

Pros Discuss JD Megazine Offer


Here's an odd one -- I'm told that through the Bugpowder web resources various pros are discussing an offer to make space available in Judge Dredd Megazine for free stories from outside contributors.
posted 3:24 am PST | Permalink

PWCW: Bookazine Targeting Comics

Publishers Weekly Comics Week reported yesterday that the distributor Bookazine has enjoyed enough success with their graphic novel category to hire John Davis (the Central Park Media John Davis, not the Capital City Distribution John Davis, at least I'm pretty sure they're different people) to create a division in their company that will specfically target indie booksellers that have yet to carry such books in a major way yet desire to do so. They also plan to target comic shops, which could be interesting news considering the trouble some of those shops have with reorders.

You can download a list of Bookazine's top-selling graphic novels here, a list almost eerily balanced between DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Viz and Tokyopop offerings, with a smatter of big-name books from other publishers (like Scholastic's Bone). If they can actually sell Marvel's graphic novels as comparatively well as this list indicates, they may indeed bring something new to the table.
posted 1:11 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: DC Snips Alan Moore?

imageOn Monday comics industry gossip master Rich Johnston picked up on something that had been bubbling underneath the newsreporting surface, primarily on Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin -- that DC had excised some of the text opening in the "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" story appearing in an collection of Alan Moore stories, along with some other seemingly odd changes. As is well known, DC and Moore have a dicey relationship going back to the late 1980s, making this treatment of an evocative part of a very, very good comic book story that much more of a shame. If nothing else, it cements my personal resolve to never buy these works in that form, despite the convenience and really cool-looking cover art.
posted 12:56 am PST | Permalink

D&Q Names International List Rep

Drawn and Quarterly will work with Transatlantic Literary Agency's Samantha Haywood to secrure deals for its book list in other countries, they announced yesterday. Their announcement included a pair of deals with publishers in the United Kingdom, including one with the venerable Faber & Faber, better known for Punch cartoonist collections than deals with modern cartoonists.
posted 12:35 am PST | Permalink

Blowing Stuff Up For Art


The staff of the comics company Fantagraphics occasionally gets together on the weekend to blow things up; this is a painting covering one such event by longtime staffer Matt Silvie.
posted 12:27 am PST | Permalink

Cartoon Art Museum Sets Fundraiser

San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum will hold a fundraiser February 10 in conjunction with February's WonderCon, the official kick-off to the calendar year's convention season. Patrick McDonnell and Dan Piraro are among those artists who have donated art for sale.
posted 12:19 am PST | Permalink

January 24, 2006

Not Comics: Johnston, Choe Movies Due?

imageWith all the buzz in today's press about the debut of the Dan Clowes/Terry Zwigoff film Art School Confidential, I was reminded that there are a couple of films about cartoonist/artists that might be released in the months ahead. It looks like The Devil and Daniel Johnston remains due to hit select movie theaters at the end of March. There are some photos and information here. Also, after reading a thread at the Comics Journal site and poking around, it looks like work continues on Harry Kim's David Choe documentary that was discussed as long ago as in this compelling article. It's now called Dirty Hands and there's a new trailer here.
posted 11:10 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
LA's Oddball Comics Show Reaches Halfway Point
Local Cartoonist Profile: Jonny Hawkins
Randy Wicks Scholarship Story Told
Dilbert Makes First Entry Into Mobile Phones

Xavier Guilbert on Competing Views Concerning the French Comics Market

Xavier Guilbert does this site a huge favor with a longish letter that unpacks the reporting on the year-end status of the French comics market, including word that an alternate take can be found here, on a revived du9 site.
posted 12:29 am PST | Permalink

Chris Butcher Finds From Hell

imageHere's an informative post from Chris Butcher about the status of From Hell from publisher Top Shelf Productions, a piece which makes a distinction between being able to print from film and from digitial files that I didn't realize could be a big deal. The topic starts about about halfway down the entry.

Speaking of Top Shelf, they have a new blog where Brett Warnock describes things like why the convention season is so important for the publisher. That's interesting because of all the publishers I know I think Top Shelf probably depends the most on handselling their products at various shows. Their Spring season will hopefully include the long-delayed Renee French book The Ticking, and looks to feature the new Jeffrey Brown book pictured, a book I didn't have on my radar until their latest press release.
posted 12:03 am PST | Permalink

January 23, 2006

Abramoff Seeking Editorial Cartoons

The January 21 entry of Daryl Cagle's blog (scroll down) has an interesting mini-essay about celebrities seeking out originals of editorial cartoons featuring themselves, sparked by news that Jack Abramoff is looking to buy a few editorial cartoons about his own recent plight. It's fascinating in that Cagle links it to influence peddling. Most takes on this practice I've seen stay with the individual cartoonist and whether or not he or she wishes to profit by doing business with a politician or figure they don't like, or allow them to kind of reduce the effectiveness of the cartoon by being in on the joke.
posted 11:46 pm PST | Permalink

Muth, Gaiman Nab ALA Honors


Zen Shorts, a children's picture story written and illustrated by cartoonist and artist Jon J. Muth, was one of four books named a Caldecott Honor Book in a list released by the American Library Association. Neil Gaiman's latest novel Anansi Boys was one of ten winners of Alex awards given to adult books that best appeal to teen audiences.
posted 10:41 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Ted Rall is More Famous than You
Western Media All Over Teshkeel PR
Collision of Buzz Words Causes Excitement
Malaysian Paper Suggests Starter Manga
Big Month in Newspaper Strip History

Buenaventura Press to Co-Publish KE6


Alvin Buenaventura's Buenaventura Press and Avodah Books have formally announced their intention to co-publish Sammy Harkham's Kramers Ergot 6, the latest volume in the premiere young cartoonists' anthology -- and potential premiere comics anthology period. The book is planned for early this summer, Gingko Press will do the book distribution, and Buenaventura will serve as assistant editor.

Other projects planned by Buenaventura Press include: Ron Rege's Yeast Hoist XII, Dan Zettwoch's ongoing Redbird; Elvis Studio's 30-foot-long narrative drawing Elvis Road; the portfolio Private Stash an edition of Johnny Ryan's Comic Book Holocaust, and the relaunch of Comic Art.
posted 3:01 am PST | Permalink

Angouleme = Attention to Comics

imageWith the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee at Angouleme gearing up for its big start later this week, there's usually some attention to macro-issues in the French comics market from the usual sources. This article by Didier Pasamonik looks at some slightly troubling overall numbers (a slight decrease in a year with an Asterix book) and trends (manga as a market prop; what kinds of books float near the top of the charts) in what seems a pretty fair in inconclusive fashion.

Another thing that seems to happen every year is an event or two in Paris leading up to the show. This presentation on Will Eisner is the kind of thing I'm talking about; it included Jean-Claude Mezieres. The article reveals that Eisner's last book, The Plot has sold 30,000 copies in France.
posted 1:44 am PST | Permalink

2005 DM Graphic Novel Sales Chart

According to the comics business news and analysis site, Diamond has released its list of top-selling graphic novels for the entire year 2005. It kind of heavily reinforces what conventional wisdom you could glean from the monthly lists: DC and Dark Horse do really well in the direct market in this area while Marvel not as much; Robert Kirkman may be Image's outright trade paperback star right now, manga has a presence but only certain kind of manga and only a certain level of success.
posted 1:14 am PST | Permalink

Clyde Peterson Retires From Chronicle


With the entire field consumed by issues of available positions and Pulitzer winner Nick Anderson heading to the Chronicle, the paper's editor toasts a cartoonist leaving that paper: Clyde Peterson, more familiar as "CP Houston."
posted 1:06 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: DCD Names FCBD Titles

imageDirect market service maestro Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. has announced the various titles that will make up the bulk of giveaways on the forthcoming Free Comic Book Day promotion. This is the event whereby competing shops can plan a big promotional day for themselves centered on the fact that there are these comic book tailored for new readers that they can hand out, ostensibly to a variety of people many of whom have not been in the store before, growing the readership. In a kind of annual FCBD coda, those of us nerds not near stores wait until the week following and whine at retailer friends and allies until someone sends us the two or three we want, like Drawn & Quarterly's selection here. That promotion will take place on Saturday, May 6.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Mark Newgarden Profiled


One of the great, hidden masters of American comedy, the cartoonist Mark Newgarden has the above book out from Fantagraphics and thus we get the treat of a few press treatments and profiles of this compelling artist.
posted 12:54 am PST | Permalink

University Sci-Fi Collection Profiled

This article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin profiles library science fiction holdings at the California state school in Riverside. Those holdings include a ton of rare comics -- comics that sound like they're just out there on the shelves -- and box after box of fanzine material donated by superfan Fred Patten, identified in the article as "Frank Patten," which may be more accurate, I don't know. It should be interesting to see what collections of this sort of material develop in the next ten, fifteen years. My hunch is I think there will be a smaller than expected window where libraries will gain a foothold in this area -- it may already be shut.

posted 12:52 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Local Cartoonists Profile: Jennifer and Matt Holm
Local Cartoonist Profile: Daniel Duford
Missed It: Del Rey Acquires Air Gear
Stan Lee Speech Report: All the Hits
People Love That Garfield Randomizer

January 22, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Save Gocco!


Via the really entertaining Onsmith Comics blog comes word of the "Save Gocco!" site, a web destination dedicated to the Gocco Printer that a lot of alt-comics cartoonists have discovered in the past several months. Seems the machine has run its popular course in its native country; the site hopes that its maker will consider continuing its manufacture for markets like North America. Onsmith is selling a small book of Gocco-made art that looks pretty damn cool even if you're not interested in the fate of the machine.

If Wishes Were Fishes

In his widely read column at Comic Book Resources, the writer Steven Grant recently pointed out in response, I think, to various industry reform impulses, that comics first and foremost need to be better. I agree with the point. The better the content, the more an industry and audience rises to meet it rather than has to be convinced to pick it up and give it a try. Comics has so much lousy and uninspired content in a field of very polite people who will generally not say so, that the primary justification scores of professionals take to basic issues like reform and growth seems to be inclusion of one's own material, which deserves it because it's on arguably the same playing field with some stuff that seems to have its foot in the door. Building an art form to protect the collective needs of its "C" and "D" students hardly seems worth the time, no matter how nice they are, no matter how hard they try, no matter how passionate they are.

Yet while a call for excellence is valuable in that (obviously) excellence is valuable, and a call for renewed attention to better content can perhaps change the tenor of conversations and move them away from "everybody gets a chance to publish" tire-spinning, I think there are definite limits to what it can accomplish. Those artists that are trying to make their work better in meaningful ways are probably already doing so, and those that aren't, or can't, are probably going to continue doing what they do, too.

This is why, and not for punishment's sake, I suggested that if you don't have the values of stronger content replicated in industry mechanisms that help this along, you're probably going to accomplish less than if you do. While I've never suggested bifurcating PREVIEWS -- which Grant points out doesn't have the support of those publishers who would be sent to catalog equivalent of the little kids table -- I have suggested the possibility of limiting it severely, which does have the support of a lot of small publishers, at least off the record. The key is that you get out of the rigid thinking of limiting the catalog according to aggregate sales and things like willingness to buy ads in Diamond's catalogs, and instead use a combination of publishing track record with liberal exceptions for obvious measures of quality such as the now decade-plus old industry awards. Not only do a lot of very mediocre comic books have access to the Direct Market for what seems the sake of the value of giving as many people as possible access to the Direct Market, there are lots of mediocre to bad comic books demanding retailer time and attention and money coming from publishers that can't keep a business plan together for the first half-year of their existence -- publishers that fail to publish. The industry could make it harder for such companies, and harder for such books, to get their foot in the door, and definitely make it more difficult for companies that have discredited themselves to keep that access.

Steven also seemed very confused by the idea of self-publishing "sponsors". This happens already, where a self-publisher who won't be allowed in Previews otherwise appears at the end of an established publisher's solicitation. What I'd suggest is that if you want to limit market exposure to bad comics, this policy could be enacted more frequently, if not become the primary way that self-publishers get a foothold in that ordering process. It's a potential trade-off, sure. But it's no longer 1983, or even 1994 -- surpassing quality has a much greater chance of finding a foothold than ever before, and I'm not sure we need to count on the good riding a wave of vanity work and false starts tumbling out of the comics equivalent of Fibber McGee's closet.

Neither proposed policy is ready for enactment; they're certainly little more than conceptual ramblings at this point. I might disavow them next week. And there's certainly other policy changes that could be made to support better comics, including dismantling those massively unfair, bartered advantages that certain large companies have, companies that also release a lot of bad comics, and make them compete on equal ground with equally deserving publishers, all for the sake of the industry entire (which has about as much chance of happening as my flying to the moon later today and becoming King of the Cheese Men). But any value promoted for comics, even one as basic as "excellence," needs to be supported by policy wherever it can, or it can be as toothless as that old-time desire that comics go back to being 10 cents and available on every street corner.

Help! and Humbug To Appear


Hot on the heels of Egon noticing that a Greg Theakston-produced best-of from Harvey Kurtzman's Help! has been announced for the distribution pipeline, Fantagraphics co-owner Gary Groth interjects into the resulting TCJ message-board thread to announce his company will be doing a complete collection of Humbug, rights to which apparently went to Arnold Roth when it collapsed. The Harvey Kurtzman-organized post-MAD Magazine efforts are among the least seen, known-to-be-good comics from a group of major cartoonists, so this is great news, I'd say.

Go, Listen: Jeet Heer on Old Time Comics

You might have to scroll around a bit to find this radio show featuring Jeet Heer speaking on old-time comics, but it's worth it.

Go, Look: Jesse Hamm's 2005 Eisner Ceremony Sketches


I was lucky enough to link to some of Jesse Hamm's sketches in my report last year on the 2005 Eisner Awards ceremony. Now he's put those sketches and many more up in his new blog.
posted 12:10 am PST | Permalink

January 21, 2006

Joe Sacco in The Guardian

Eight page PDF you can download by clicking here.
posted 3:44 am PST | Permalink

Temporary Week (Not) In Review


There's a weird glitch with my new server where only a couple of days of CR Briefings pop up, which makes it kind of impossible to do a timely "Week In Review" with links to stories from early in the week. I'll do one and backdate it when we get the glitch fixed, like it never really happened, which is the kind of artificial, error-free reality I insist on living in.

In the meantime, please enjoy the return of Five For Friday -- I have the entire year blocked out for that feature -- and a full slate of reviews, both below this posting.

Also, through the image up top, please find Drew Weing's site and click on the comics portion of that lovely map to access his ongoing narrative "Set to Sea." One of my comics-related New Year's resolutions is to experience a few webcomics as they post, I thought some of you might want to join me. Weing's other comics are worth a look as well.
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This Week’s Reviews

Marvel Boy
Startling Stories: The Thing: Night Falls on Yancy Street #1-4
It's a Bird...
The Ultimates, Series Volume One
posted 1:51 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Comics Projects You Look Forward To Seeing in 2006."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 27th.
posted 1:48 am PST | Permalink

January 20, 2006

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 6:19 am PST | Permalink

Hibbs, Butcher: Is Diamond Broken?

imageRetailer Brian Hibbs (Comix Experience) and retail employee Chris Butcher (The Beguiling) play Gallagher and Gallagher 2 to some Diamond policy/strategy watermelons in their respective on-line platforms this week. Hibbs goes after Diamond's purchasing in a fairly finessed manner, allowing that while Diamond doesn't exist as anything other than a vehicle for Steve Geppi to make money, they're locked into old ways of thinking that keep them from growing the 30 percent of their business that isn't Marvel and DC. This includes a re-order policy that both keeps people locked into Diamond as a sole supplier but discourages book orders of a certain type through Diamond. Butcher's critique is more blunt, and echoed in Hibbs' -- you simply can't get many books, including books that have received wide media exposure, because Diamond doesn't carry them. To use Hibbs' example on roughly the same point, the thought that comic shops can't use Diamond to get Understanding Comics, with its demonstrably wide audience and proven track record, pretty much boggles the mind.

The problem with most calls for direct market reform is that many wannabe reformers have unreasonable standards as to what constitutes reform, seeing past necessary changes in policy to a kind of waved-hand fiat that creates more stores that suit their tastes in comics. This is where you tend to see goofy Internet-style angry-man rhetoric like "Some stores 'get it', and some stores simply don't." In reality, there's room for lots of different kinds of stores within the comic store framework, just as there are other arts retailers with a variety of emphases. A healthy direct market is going to yield stores in which I have no interest in shopping just as it's going to have stores where I would feel greatly at home.

What's bad about Diamond's policies and strategies as pointed out by Hibbs and Butcher is that it makes it more difficult for stores to pursue a certain kind of customer with as much gusto as it encourages them to pursue others. And while there's nothing to stop a dedicated store from finding alternative means of pursuing a customer, I'd say we're past the point where a disinterested retailer can easily help a customer slightly out of step with their store's main thrust -- which given the role of the comic shop in many communities and the size of the audience generally is a really unfortunate outcome. Diamond should not be making these decisions for the rest of the comics market as if they're protecting themselves from competitors that went out of business years ago, but using its position as the dominant actor in its industry to serve its retail clients in as many ways as they want to be served.
posted 3:58 am PST | Permalink Downgrades GN Figures is reporting errors in their tabulation that led them to misjudge increases in graphic novel sales for 2005; they've adjusted their stories as listed here. The general thrust of their analysis remains reasonably intact, although you obviously have to reconsider any inferences you might have made from the false GN numbers about the nature of what's going on in DM stores.
posted 3:12 am PST | Permalink

Fantagraphics Sets Ignatz Schedule

imageIf I'm reading this post from Fantagraphics co-owner Kim Thompson on FLOG! correctly, they've set their schedule for the next several volumes of the translated Ignatz series from Coconino. These oversized volumes have thus far been pretty consistently lovely; my favorites have been the volumes from Lorenzo Mattotti and Kevin Huizenga. The line seems extraordinarly well-balanced. Success for the Ignatz books could also mean the arrival of a kind of 'tweener format that I as reader would selfisly love to have around for a while. Included in FBI's schedule is the second Ignatz book from David B.; the first book came from Drawn and Quarterly. The only bad news? It will be a while before the Anders Nilsen effort comes out.
posted 2:55 am PST | Permalink

Blog Covers Denmark Cartoon Story

Sean T. Collins brings word of this blog, which seems to be covering the Denmark cartoon story with more regularlity than the wire stories that have spun out from various sources. Since this is political issue, it's likely that politics colors the vast majority of the coverage you're likely to find on the story, including the stories here, so please step carefully.
posted 2:42 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Ken Parille on Ice Haven


It's a good week for on-line reviews of comics works: click through the above picture for a short piece on Dan Clowes' Ice Haven, a book I think is going to grow in reputation over time.
posted 1:39 am PST | Permalink

January 19, 2006

Quick hits
Dave Kellet Signings In Los Angeles
Missed It: Isotope Mini-Comic Contest Open
Paresh Nath Hitting Paris Conference
USA Today Analysis: Manga Gains Foothold
Jim Valentino Returns to His Shadowhawk Character

The Joy of Learning a New Face

imageI enjoy articles that repeat themselves over the years, such as the mighty "Local Cartoonist Profile." One of my favorites is one that pops up every time there's an election in Canada or the United States: editorial cartoonists complaining about a potential election winner and the relative dullness of their face. Here it is again with Stephen Harper, prospective Canadian PM. The money quote: "'We always hate drawing anybody new and we don't like drawing people who are relatively decent looking.' Dewar said, so she's rooting against him. 'I hope he loses. Then I won't ever have to draw him.'"
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My New Hero: Jennie Breeden

The print iteration of Jennie Breeden's The Devil's Panties webcomic is struggling to meet the Diamond Comics Distributor order minimum, yet when asked what her numbers are like on-line Breeden actually provides the numbers, and even does so without explanation or spin. You have to be around the comics industry a while to know how rare it is to get a straight, exact answer on traffic and/or sales. For that reason alone, I hope Breeden finds a way to publish a print book through Diamond for years and years to come.
posted 4:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Jog on All-Star Superman #2

I haven't read the comic book in question, but I rather enjoyed this review of the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely effort All-Star Superman #2 at Jog the Blog.
posted 4:21 am PST | Permalink

Czech Republic in Speech Balloons


Alan Hunt notes an international news wire story (click through the image) reporting that a new symbol for the unified Czech Republic abroad will be this piece of speech balloon-laden art. It's quite cheery, don't you think?
posted 4:12 am PST | Permalink

Talk About Your Identity Crisis

London superhero dress-up doofuses plan kidnappings.
posted 4:11 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Jerry O'Connell Out, Comic Strip In At Perry Ellis
Go, Read: Nick Mamatas Interviews James Sturm
An Interview With Ed Stein
Comics Part of Portland's Cool, Formatting Not


January 18, 2006

PWCW: D&Q to Publish Moomin Strips


Publishers Weekly's comics newsletter reports that Drawn & Quarterly will release a five-book series collecting the Moomin comic strips by Tove Jansson. The series will be edited and designed by Tom Devlin. The first book is due in September. Most people know of the Moomin material through the children's books, which are carried in North America by Drawn & Quarterly's booktrade distributor. Some may remember a tribute to the strip in Devlin's guest-edited issue of The Comics Journal.

The official Moomin website can be found here.
posted 3:25 am PST | Permalink

NW Cartoonists Functions Galore

Colleen Coover will join Brett Warnock and Diana Schutz for a panel discussion at the City Club of Portland on the subject of Graphic Novels and Comics as a literary form. That's tomorrow, Thursday the 19th, Noon to 1:30 PM at the City Club Commons on Washington Street.

Meanwhile, up in Seattle, it looks like artists of all types so inclined can avail themselves of a conference on the various business things artists need to know. I'd never seen a picture of Tom Wilson before.
posted 3:19 am PST | Permalink

Analysis of Manga Growth in France


My quick reading of this longish article at indicates that the analysis itself is pretty facile, but being reminded that manga has exploded in the French-language market in partnership with a surge in French-language books is a good thing, and they certainly toss a lot of numbers around and drop some names that could make it a good primer even filtered through one of those horrible Internet translation engines.
posted 3:11 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Harveys Add Webcomics

I'm glad someone was reading for comprehension Monday.
posted 2:46 am PST | Permalink Terry Moore to End SiP

imageI missed this yesterday, although I can't recall seeing anyone comment past's initial story. According to that piece, Terry Moore will end his long-running Strangers in Paradise title with issue #90, about a dozen issues from where the series currently stands. Strangers in Paradise was one of a group of emerging, self-published series in the mid-1990s (along with Bone and Stray Bullets) that although that history hasn't been written yet felt at the time like the last wave of Sim-style, out-of-nowhere, single creator/story/title self-publishers who were able to manage some market penetration in the slightly less superhero dominated direct market of the time. My memory is that like Jeff Smith with Bone, Moore moved the project around a bit in safe purchase fashion when the market turned a bit weird and hostile on everyone, but remained its general steward and published the majority of issues himself. Anyway, it sort of feels like another brick in one of those end-of-the-era walls.
posted 2:09 am PST | Permalink

Tatsumi On Comic-Con Guest Roll

One of the positives about Comic-Con International is that they manage to bring in at least one or two heavy-hitter International guests, which in that setting can be particularly nice because the bulk of the convention isn't necessarily focused on that expression of the art form. The result is you can see a David B. or Lorenzo Mattotti give a presentation without the room being overly crowded, or wait in a line only five-deep for an autograph from Lewis Trondheim. One artist fitting that role this year is Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Chris Butcher notes another collection from the artist will be released by Drawn and Quarterly this Fall.

potential whoredom alert: Comic-Con is a CR advertiser
posted 1:53 am PST | Permalink

January 17, 2006

OTBP: New Issue of The Drama Out

imageIt's my understanding that the magazine The Drama, now up to its seventh issue, circulates mostly independent of standard newsstand and comic shop distribution sources. The current issue may be worth tracking for its stellar line-up of cartoonists and comics-content in a comics-heavy issue: A wrap-around cover and feature interview with Elvis Studio by the printmaker and publisher Alvin Buenaventura; a reasonably rare interview with the cartoonist and artist Julie Doucet; and comics by Marc Bell, Mark Burrier, Vanessa Davis, Tom Gauld, David Heatley, Paper Rad, Brian Ralph, Ron Rege Jr, Nicolas Robel, Zak Sally, and Dash Shaw among others. Any three of those cartoonists together in one place would give me cause for at least a pick-up.

I don't know what that image from the magazine is, exactly, but it's cool-looking.
posted 8:06 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Local Cartoonist Profile: Tom Garland
Local Cartoonist Profile: Kambiz Derambakhsh
Josh Blaylock Has a How-To Book Out
Chris Butcher, Eddie Campbell Say You Don't Need It
Another DC Comics Exclusive: Dan Jurgens

Ja Think I’m a Cowboy?


I'm told Popeye is 77 today. Tom Neely did the above picture, which you should click to get a better look.
posted 9:19 am PST | Permalink

ICAF 2006 Call For Papers

imageThe Annual International Comic Arts Festival (ICAF), one of the world's leading academic conferences on the comics art form, has issued a call for papers for its 11th year. The Festival is scheduled for October 12-14 in the James Madison Building at The Library of Congress. The deadline for abstracts in March 15. Everything else you could possibly need to know you can find through the link. It's heartening to see that the Library of Congress location repeats, which indicates ICAF may have a solid year-to-year home once again.
posted 4:43 am PST | Permalink

Yoshiro Kato, 1925-2006

Yoshiro Kato, the creator of Mappira-kun for Manichi Shimbun, died on January 6 from respiratory failure. His strip (translated "Mr. No Way") ran in the paper from 1954 to 2001, which may be a record for a single daily national newspaper in Japan. That strip moved from a focus on a salaried worker to a broader take on various denizens of a single community who took turns taking the lead role.

Born in Tokyo, Kato was also the head of the Japan Cartoonists Assocation from 1992 to 1996. He became a celebrity through his appearances on a popular television quiz show and as a political commentator.
posted 12:29 am PST | Permalink

The 2005 Direct Market: Graphic Novels Grow, Comic Books Not So Much included in its December sales reports a first look at the shape of the 2005 direct market of comic shops and hobby retailers, which I wanted to separate out for clarity's sake. Their conclusion: graphic novel sales are up for the year after a stellar fourth quarter, at 33 percent; but comic book sales are only up 4 percent, which may not even cover an overall shift upwards in price and could therefore potentially reflect a tiny dip in units moved. This is after a 2004 where the growth numbers were the same in each category.

I don't know numbers or retail all that well, but that seems reasonably stable to me, not particularly good news but not all that bad. Even with my grumpy face on, I'm not able to read anything dire into a shift to graphic novel sales over periodicals. At the same time,'s analysis doesn't speak in any way to a wider concern that the direct market is sacrificing a healthy periodicals midlist of the kind that allows for new hits and franchises in favor of stunt series and events, which over time will not only limit potential growth but lead to a continued, overall slow decline -- and perhaps cement cultural irrelevancy.

Not even Dr. Doom, the only super-villain who wears superpowered armor but carries a piece anyway, can snap out of the mid-list drearies
posted 12:12 am PST | Permalink

January 16, 2006

Go, Read: Steve Kelley Interview


The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists draws our attention to a downloadable interview with New Orleans Times-Picayune cartoonist Steve Kelley (click on the current issue and then click on table of contents to access), who speaks about being the "cartoonist of record" during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. As I recall, Kelley was in or near San Diego for the unfolding disaster, and he talks about some of the guilt involved with not being directly on the scene.
posted 11:32 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Marvel’s 1985 Photo-Comic

Newsarama has several pages from Marvel's loopy-sounding 1985 project, which I understand to be basically a fantasy novel take on the Marvel universe (an innocent in a strange land) told through a photo-comic approach. Any project that could potentially traumatize a generation of comics readers is way more interesting than the usual new Wolverine title or grim cross-over, and therefore has our full attention.
posted 11:20 pm PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Mall of America and Peanuts Break Ties Over Amusement Park

imageThe amusement park at the gigantic Mall of America is losing its Peanuts theme, according to this article in Editor & Publisher. The reason is that the Mall corporation assumed control of "Camp Snoopy" from operator Cedar Fair, who hold the rights to the Peanuts license in an amusement park setting. The only reason I mention this is because I once heard that amusement park deals were a real status symbol for comic strip and related license-seekers. The Mall's amusement park is the largest indoor one in the country. If you click through the image, which is a from a tourist site so I hope it's okay to borrow it, it seems as if the Mall has already started to change the name.
posted 11:11 pm PST | Permalink

Webcomics and Print Minimums

This brief article about the webcomic Devil's Panties trying to make a Diamond minimum order makes a summary case concerning the difficulties webcomics have in entering the direct market and negotiating the comic shop owners who act as gatekeepers. At the very least, it's worth noting as a potentially widespread opinion on the matter.
posted 11:10 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Local Cartoonist Profile: Song Yang
Never Rob a Cartoonist
USB Drives Pre-Loaded With Manga
Speakeasy Title Slow Bleed Continues

Harveys Nominations Ballot Up

imageThe Harvey Awards have their nominating ballot up at their site, in the hopes of getting a final ballot done by March. This is slightly interesting in that the Harvey ceremony isn't until September 9, but I guess the sooner you get to an awards program, the fewer books from the previous year you forget. After a few semi-tumultuous years with New York's MoCCA Festival, the Harveys move to the Baltimore Comic-Con in '06. The nomination ballot is open to all people who work in a creative capacity in the comics industry. This includes editors, which is nice just for making jokes about creative editing. The awards are named, of course, after the legendary Harvey Kurtzman, one of the great cartoonists of the 20th Century.
posted 2:26 am PST | Permalink

January 15, 2006

Jacques Faizant, 1918-2006

imagePravda and American wire services are reporting that Jacques Faizant, a fixture of France culture as the longtime front-page cartoonist for Le Figaro, passed away on Saturday. He had retired late last year after a lengthy career at the paper, a retirement that may have come in great part due to health reasons. Faizant's most famous cartoon came after the death of Charles De Gaulle in 1970s, when Faizant depicted Marianne, a symbol for France, weeping over a fallen oak. Media reports at the time of his retirement said Faizant drew over 30,000 cartoons for the newspaper.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink December Decline Up Top

The comics news and business analysis site has released their monthly set of numbers for Direct Market comics sales, as well as theirarticles explaining same, this time for December 2005.

Top Comic Books
Top Graphic Novels points out some shrinkage in the top 25 titles almost across the board, with only one book garnering more sales than its proper counterpart from November. This makes some rudimentary sense as the big stunt comics and prestige series which traditionally hold the majority of top positions in the DM are now past the early issue numbers. Except for a comic distinguished by Wolverine being ripped in half by the Incredible Hulk, a comic that did well, the new premiere comics of this type feature secondary characters like Spider-Woman and Quicksilver.

Usual CR items of interest.

100,000 sellers -- 6
75,000 sellers -- 14
50,000 sellers -- 35
25,000 sellers -- 85
10,000 sellers -- 170

Number of Books not from DC and Marvel in Top 100 -- 5

There also seems to me a lot of superhero comics in the 20,000-30,000 range as the mid-list continues to get hammered, but that may just be my mood today.
posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Top Shelf Comix On-Line


I didn't even know Top Shelf had comics. Glenn Dakin! I'm told they recently updated.
posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Virginia Editorial Cartoon Predicts Future

This is a cute story that buzzed the wires last week and finally made it into Editor & Publisher: a Virginia paper shows a Virginia Tech football player with a gun before recently dismissed quarterback Marcus Vick gets in trouble for brandishing such a weapon. And... that's pretty much it.
posted 7:30 pm PST | Permalink

Missed It: Viz, Simon/Schuster Deal

In the deranged server situation here at CR last week I failed to give proper attention to a deal announced by Viz that deepens their relationship with Simon and Schuster to what looks like 1) more assertively bringing the S&S sales and marketing department behind the already high-selling manga, and 2) holding out some promise of new markets, which could mean a variety of things (big box stores?), or not much of anything (generic marketing-speak).

David Welsh links this to a recent thread at the chat site The Engine based on an observation from Jog the Blog about seeing manga offerings severely eat into -- or outright replace -- shelves of North American comics at a local bookstore. Something to note about Jog's observation is that this was a small store, where one would think space is that much more precious and less likely to be bought and paid for.
posted 6:45 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Survey of Political Cartoon Future includes KAL's Plans
Major Page Drop in Kansas City
Ted Rall to Write Introduction for Ed Hall
Local Cartoonist Profile: Ron Raffaele
Pat Oliphant Judges Nudes in Kentucky


January 14, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Meow, Baby! Preview
You've seen Jason's elegant, heartfelt works like Hey, Wait..., The Iron Wagon and Why Are You Doing This?; now get a sneak peak as to why many of his fans consider him a humor cartoonist first and foremost.

Here and There

* One of many weird, hidden gems in the new Bud Plant catalog -- recovered warehouse copies of the Friends of Old Gerber Portfolio, with pieces of art from various folks in support of the writer's legal quest against Marvel Comics. Now that I think about it, print portfolios were like the first piece of comic shop merchandise.

* There are two letters in the letters column worth reading regarding the Muhammed cartoons published in Denmark and then Norway, and the attendant controversy. One is better linked than anything I've posted; the other is far smarter and more rational-sounding than anything I've posted.

* Paul Di Filippo sent a note drawing my attention to Ed Briant's cartoons in Publishers Weekly. Since he apparently knows my future, I'm not going to argue with him. Seeing Briant's work makes me wonder if there's a bunch of single-venue cartoonists out there. I've been reading Ross MacDonald in Virginia Quarterly Review.

* CR reader Jon Kudelka suggests a follow-up link about the New Zealand cartoonist fired for doing a cartoon critical of Israeli political policy. Thanks, Jon.

A Short Interview With Austin English


He's one of the youngest of the young cartoonists, has one of the more controversial approaches to art of a younger generation often characterized by (and castigated for) certain approaches to art, and is one of the few cartoonists who writes about comics as well. Meet Austin English.

Go, Look: Batgirl


Starting I think on Friday, a bunch of artists decided to do Batgirl drawings and upload them on their various personal journals and whatnot for your viewing pleasure. Bored people amusing themselves isn't all that interesting in and of itself, but some of the drawings are fun, and it's interesting to note how many stylistic variations exist for a character like this one, variations that would probably never be considered for use by a big, corporate publisher. That's Steve Rolston's -- click through the image for a page of links.
posted 7:30 pm PST | Permalink

Eldon Dedini, 1921-2006


Eldon Dedini, a cartoonist who thrived in not one but several of the great gag cartoon markets of the 20th Century, passed away at home in Carmel, California on Thursday from esophageal cancer. He was 84 years old.

imageAccording to the New York Times, Dedini published approximately 1200 cartoons for Playboy and 630 for the New Yorker. He worked for the New Yorker for several years starting in 1950 before adding Playboy as a client. Taking on both clients meant preparing a combined 50 preliminary cartoons every three weeks.

Beyond his signature watercolor work, he may be best known for his satyr cartoons in Playboy, a signature visual for the magazine as it blossomed into a media empire.

Other positions for Dedini in his long career included book illustration, a stint as an artist at Universal and then Disney, high-profile advertising and poster work, and a long run at Esquire starting in the 1940s. As Mark Evanier recalls, Dedini won multiple Reuben division awards.

Fantagraphics Books will publish An Orgy of Playboy's Dedini this Spring. A show featuring Dedini's work will close this Friday in Salinas. Here's a local obituary with some insight into his personality, and a selection of Dedini cartoons that comes up at the New Yorker store.

posted 8:04 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, January 7 to January 13, 2006.

1. Marvel moves its toys from Toy Biz and Toy Biz Worldwide to Hasbro for a chunk of change, streamlining its operations as it gets into movies and ridding itself of the whiplash effect that a down period of toys can have after a down movie.

2. Industry veteran Bob Greenberger's firing by DC Comic in previoius week seeps into comics community consciousness. Reactions range from concern for Greenberger to noting the upswing in archival collection production that led to the error that immediately precipitated the firing to open wondering whether DC is a friendly place of employment for the older guard.

3. The Angouleme awards season heats up with the Prix du Public going to Les Mauvaises Gens. Will Angouleme be structurally ready and able to handle the crowds this year?

Winners of the Week
Those putting together a fund to support persecuted cartoonists in the Mideast and North Africa.

Losers of the Week
Companies that blame hostile market conditions or the Internet for their not being able to hold together an initial publishing plan for even a year.

Quote of the Week
"The sad fact is there are probably less than 50 stores that actually order at least one of every product we produce. That's out of the 3300 or so direct market stores out there."
-- Chris Pitzer of AdHouse on the current saturation of small publishers in the Direct Market.

Is this book from AdHouse out or not? You probably couldn't tell by going to your local comics shop. (Answer: it is.)
posted 5:57 am PST | Permalink

January 13, 2006

Angouleme Infrastructure Hassles

Imagine a Comic-Con International where the construction of the convention center was part of the preparation, and you might have an idea of what's going on in France right now in the days leading up to the Festival de la Bande Dessinee d'Angouleme. This article at points out that with some traditional real estate used by the Festival out of circulation, a system of multiple areas for publishers to takes its place has some questioning their ability to easily meet safety standards, and that even with the best outcome possible, traffic might be even more snarled than usual because of their location relative to one another.

It's not a huge news story or anything, and these things tend to work themselves out, but it's sort of compelling to read about the preparation for a comics show that sounds like one of those Olympic City reports.
posted 11:05 am PST | Permalink

Reaction to Bob Greenberger Firing

Industry veteran Bob Greenberger being let go from his collected editions editor position at DC Comics caused the expected flurry of speculation and shout-outs of support. Mark Evanier and Peter David are among those who wrote positively of Greenberger. David's post might be more interesting because his post and the commentary together seems to put the firing in the potential context of DC becoming tough on older industry people receiving work there. Greenberger and others point to a page order error in Golden Age Hawkman Archives as a key factor in at least the timing of the dismissal if not the dismissal outright. Also, as someone mentions here, the parent company is seeing cutbacks in other divisions, which probably isn't relevant except perhaps to explain the quickness with which DC might be willing to pull the trigger.

In other hiring/firing news, Alex Segura, Jr. was named Publicity Manager at DC Comics. Segura is an ex-Wizard staffer perhaps best known in on-line circles for creating what is now a group comics blog, The Great Curve. He has also written comics review for the mainstream press and worked the publicity end of things for Archie Publications.
posted 7:16 am PST | Permalink

Event Horizon Changes Its Approach

Some 18 hours after initially announcing that the third issue of the high-end fantasy anthology Event Horizon artist and publisher (through Mam-Tor) Liam Sharp popped back onto Warren Ellis' The Engine chatroom to say that a fourth issue would appear, just not with the same packaging.
imageEvent Horizon was an experiment right from the outset. We tried, and did do something important and unique in the marketplace. We got great reviews, and produced a beautiful book. However there was no getting round the fact that people thought it was too expensive. I entirely disagree with this, but it never went away and ultimately I think it was damaging. Also it fell between pillar and post, not quite being a book or a comic, which made it a tough sell to either market. So the intention is to rethink the product, drop the production costs and page count and return with a slimmer, cheeper version, and hopefully more copies a year.

The next incarnation of Event Horizon (EH4) is still planned for an October release, and will still feature the big names promised - Dave Gibbons, Dougie Braithwaite, Mark Millar amongst them - so although I'm very sad to see this high-end package go, I'm happy it's evolving into something new, and equally Exciting.

The shift in publishing strategies could be seen as emblematic of the many difficulties that smaller, independent efforts are having in gaining any kind of market traction, no matter what the package or intent. It might also be interesting to note that the proposed solution weighs toward the periodical end of the market rather than the book-end, which might be counter to conventional wisdom as to what works right now.

cover to issue #2 shown
posted 6:43 am PST | Permalink

Sergio Fedriani, 1949-2006

The artist Sergio Fedriani passed away on January 10th in Genoa, according to a posting at Although I'm completely unfamiliar with his work, the note about his passing seems to characterize him as a fine artist with a great sympathy for cartoons and comics.
posted 6:36 am PST | Permalink Suncoast Returning Manga

The comics business news and analysis site has a thorough summary article and plenty of build-up links on Suncoast returning manga inventory in the course of its parent company filing for bankruptcy. The piece points out the multiple ways the market can feel the impact of anime and manga returns, from the returns themselves to a flood of discounted product being put on the market. has been tracking the story for long enough that my memory is some kind of change in account status seemed inevitable, but as is the case in many situations like this, businesses continued to back the stores with product for as long as possible after an aggressive overture by the troubled company.
posted 5:59 am PST | Permalink

Newsarama on DM Shipping Delays

Newsarama had a fine article yesterday on the shipping delays experienced by many midwestern stores in the Direct Market over the holiday season and week just past, as well as distribution giant Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. scrambling to rectify the situation. In addition to all the usual reasons a shop wants their stock delivered on time, many comic shops depend on the regularity of delivery to maximize their sales through a weekly New Comics Day. With the holidays already altering the delivery schedule by a day in each holiday week, a further disrutpion was conceivably an additional blow for some shops.
posted 5:22 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Milton Caniff Site

I don't believe there are too many people reading this site who would have a desire to read Steve Canyon in Italian, but it looks like this site may be running it, as well as links to various Milton Caniff-related publishing activities worldwide. The early Canyon strips sure are handsome.
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
These Graphic Novels Are a Huge Waste of Time
Preview of Marv Wolfman's Homeland Project
Survey Article on Recent Ariel Sharon Cartoons
NEA's Big Nate Turns 15

January 12, 2006

More on Denmark’s Muhammed Cartoons

"First Turkish Paper On The Internet" Zaman Online reports something that I either hadn't heard or hadn't noticed about the Denmark newspaper Jyllands-Posten publishing cartoons depicting Muhammed in an effort to underline free speech rights: namely, that a newspaper covering Christian issues in Norway followed suit and was also criticized for it. The publication of those cartoons were widely criticized by many for reasons reiterated in the Zaman piece; they were believed by some to be a contributing factor to last Fall's riots in Europe. I am also quite fond of the piece of art used to illustrate the article, which I have swiped for this post.
posted 11:15 am PST | Permalink

Editorial Cartooning: The Slow Bleed

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has put a Business Journal of Phoenix article up on their site regarding the declining fortunes of editorial cartoonists in America. What's nice about the article is that it takes the long view, some 20-25 years, and describes a mix of very specific choices on the part of newspapers as well as competing opportunities in other areas of cartooning as contributing factors to why even certain people who match a profile don't end up as editorial cartoonists as frequently as they once did.

In other editorial cartooning news, Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig has written a lengthy piece about the difficulties of doing cartoons on the subject of Israel. It's an article worth reading if the subject matter interests at all. Leunig mentions that a New Zealand cartoonist lost his job because of a cartoon about Israel; if anyone knows anything more about that, I'd love to hear it.
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Jim Woodring DVD Hits


Retailer Mike Sterling talks it up.
posted 9:56 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Tim Marchman on Chris Ware

Here's an interesting piece on Chris Ware's ACME Novelty Library release from last Fall, with a concentration on how Ware's use of cartoon language and appropriation of demeaning cultural elements plays differently than when modern novelists attempt the same effect.
posted 9:40 am PST | Permalink

Stan Lee’s Top 10 Greatest Moments

I'm guessing this feature means that Stan Lee is still out there doing the occasional speaking engagement, which means he's been doing them for a little over 40 years now. That's a pretty impressive accomplishment in its own right, if you think about it.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
LA Times Follows Up On Virgin Comics
Everyone's Already Seen This, But Still...
Bob Greenberger Talks About Being Let Go By DC
Chris Pitzer on the State of Comics, AdHouse

January 11, 2006

Support Fund For Persecuted Cartoonists

A gathering of journalists and cartoonists in Amman, Jordan in November and December has led to a new emergency fund to support persecuted writers and artists in the Middle East and North Africa. The International Conference on Freedom of Expression in the Arab World was held in conjunction with the Canadian Human Security Programme, and included representatives from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine and Jordan, as well as European human rights groups. The fund will provide financial support for journalists, writers and cartoonists who are denied a living because of the nature of their work.

Among those presenting at the conference was Palestinian cartoonist Imad Hajjaj.
posted 5:17 am PST | Permalink

Jim Borgman Joins Blogger Ranks


Editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman is the latest comics-related personage to take to a blog through the hosting of a primary employer. Borgman's sketches- and process-dominated journal could prove to be a model of its kind, if only because Borgman does local as well as national work, plus he's half of the Zits syndicated newspaper strip team, which publicity for the blog effort tells us is hovering in the 1300-paper range right now. That's a series of potentially very interesting, overlapping perspectives, particularly when it comes to fine-tuning aspects of his work for publication.
posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink

More on Michael Ramirez’ Situation

There's been some sharp follow-up coverage to former LA Times editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez re-positioning himself, including the options available to him (he has a significant syndication client list), and why he chose to go with a cartoonist/editorial position at Investor's Business Daily. The fact that a Pulitzer Prize winner like Ramirez would go to that kind of publication rather than a general interest newspaper is a news hook on which I frankly whiffed. Here's Editor and Publisher upon the situation generally, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists weighing in, and another E&P piece saying that Copley will continue to syndicate the work from IBD.
posted 5:05 am PST | Permalink

Hal Foster in John Hughes Country


Here's a nice article about a Skokie man trying to bring more attention to Hal Foster, who lived in Evanston, right across the north border of Chicago (and east of Skokie), for several years. The profile of the Nova Scotia-born artist in the article includes the information that Foster rode his bike (!) to attend the Art Institute, which considering the roads back then may have been a more impressive trip than Prince Valiant's jaunt to North America.

I can't imagine too many benign impulses healthier for appreciation of the art form than people urging various towns and cities to embrace their cartooning legacies.
posted 4:57 am PST | Permalink

A Shuster Awards Shout-Out

I got this from Diana Tamblyn yesterday, and it seemed worth posting:
For this year's Shuster Awards, we're currently compiling a list of all eligible Canadian creators which will be used as the basis for selection by the Nominating Committee for the 2005 categories (artist, writer, cartoonist, publisher). I'm hoping Comics Reporter readers can help.

The list is currently available at:

We're looking for suggestions to ensure that the list is complete. Submissions for additions should be sent to Kevin Boyd at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Also of note, the submission form and guidelines for the Retailer Award are up at:

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Lost Colony Trailer

posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

I Blame the Market… Or the Internet… Or Yakuza-Controlled Weather Machines…

There's a nice story at PWCW about Ross Richie's modestly successful Boom Studios and how its good fortune thus far may have been limited by a market hostile to newer efforts. Unfortunately, it's buried under some dithering and finger-pointing from better-known companies that haven't been able to execute really dubious initial business plans for even a 12-month period. Call me crazy, but it seems to me the market is always going to be tough for at best modestly capitalized, unrealistic businesses that require instant success to become viable.

The most notable thing right now about these companies is that they've turned a lack of expected success and potential trainwreck status into a PR identity; it's sort of like covering Tara Reid. I don't wish either company or any like them ill will, but I don't have much of a desire to talk about them until they prove they can function smoothly for the length of an entire school year. Am I wrong?
posted 12:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Interview With Seth

posted 12:33 am PST | Permalink

A Note to RSS Feed Patrons

From Jordan Raphael, CR silent partner:
Hey Spurge:

I added a link under "Quick Links" to a FeedBurner RSS feed, which should accommodate everything everybody wanted (formatting, links, etc. -- but NO IMAGES!!!). They can access it through that link or here:

If you want, you can include an item tomorrow morning announcing the new RSS feed. Tell people it's available and that if they have any problems to contact me -- .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Cool? Cool.

-- Jordan --

posted 12:32 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Webcomics Examiner From Quarterly to Weekly
Missed It: Bob Greenberger Let Go By DC
New Student Editorial Cartoon Contest Fights Hate
Now You Can Buy Degrassi Comics
AdHouse Launches Superior Showcase

January 10, 2006

Prix Du Public to Les Mauvaises Gens


According to this news brief, Etienne Davodeau's major, well-received album Les Mauvaises Gens will receive the Public Prize at the Festival at Angouleme later this month. The jury consisted of nine "newcomers" who volunteered for the role, three selected by the Festival, three by L'Express, and three by Tele Poche.
posted 6:27 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: CCS Photo Tour


If you wanted to experience an almost room-by-room tour of the Center for Cartoon Studies, here's your chance. The town seems to have some character to it, too.
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

Thieves Hit Casper Comic Shop

If you stop and think about it, comic shops are a pretty prime target, with their combination of high-ticket items and what are often stand-alone or strip mall locations. Making things worse in Casper, these thieves may be targeting a specific kind of book.
posted 12:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Bookmark: Healing Hands


Multiple e-mails from fans of the award-winning cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim have hit my inbox to remind me that he's started a new serial at his generally excellent site. I prefer to read them when they're a bit further along if not all the way done, but if you've been wondering what it's like to follow a comic on-line, Kim's work would be a fine choice with a stellar pedigree.
posted 12:18 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Express' Decision to Sell Rupert Majority Pays Off?
Local Manga Fan Profile: Andrew Mack
Lowell Sun to Receive Award for Adding Local Comics
Jamie Hewlett Up for Design Award

January 9, 2006

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

Peter Bagge leaves the Weekly World News' Bat Boy cartoon; Danielle Corsetto is next up to... oh, forget it.
posted 11:42 am PST | Permalink

Christian Prize to Keiffer’s Loupio

imageHere's that other piece of Christian comics news. "Le prix de la BD chretienne francophone" for 2006 goes to the Loupio series by Jean-Francois Kieffer. That's a juried prize that comes from representatives of various Christian denominations. The 48-year-old Kieffer is a Catholic deacon who specializes in Christian Comics. There are five books out in this current series. The award will go to Keiffer officially on January 26 in conjunction with the Festival at Angouleme.
posted 10:08 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Signs Toy Deal With Hasbro

Here's the shortest announcement I could find that Marvel is moving its toy and game business from its Toy Biz division (and Toy Biz Worldwide, a company that isn't really a part of Toy Biz) to Hasbro starting in 2007. Marvel will take a one-time charge to reimburse various expenses before clearing the toy part of its business of their books (it might be interesting to track who gets this money); they will also get a major advance and guaranteed money in the low nine-figure range that will probably do a great deal to ameliorate bad news in some dire forthcoming quarterly statement. Hasbro gets to kick things off with Spider-Man 3 bounty.

Although it's odd for anyone who followed Marvel in the 1990s to think of toys as anything other than a strength of the company, the conventional wisdom likely to surface is that getting out of the toy business both reduces the company's exposure to the ups and downs of movie-related toy line hits and misses -- good news in that they'll soon be more directly involved in the ups and downs of movies -- and better aligns Marvel with the kind of strong licensing deals that characterize the company now as opposed to the kinds of corporate make-up ten years ago.
posted 8:49 am PST | Permalink

Let the Earth Bring Forth… Comics?

At least three Christianity-related comics stories -- I swear I'm forgetting one -- hit the wires in the last week or so, which is odd only because you don't generally see a lot of Christianity-related comics stories.

imageA Christian-themed comic book intended for criminals by a group of Christian police officers in Britain has been banned for not speaking to other faiths, raising a bunch of thorny, delicate issues that will likely just get people mad at one another. There's Douglas Rushkoff's new comic book from Vertigo that on the surface sounds a lot like one of those well-intentioned, fevered and strange Kirk Cameron movies or something a bunch of kids come up with at Bible Camp, but one suspects may infuriate fans of Kirk Cameron and bible camps. And finally, Christianity Today asks if Aslan couldn't learn a thing or two from Hobbes, or at least if the current caretakers of CS Lewis' Jesus-as-Lion couldn't learn something from Bill Watterson.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Yet Another Comics “Day After”

Manga made its newspaper debut yesterday, and as far as I can tell, we're all still here while Van Von Hunter and Peach Fuzz contributed to ongoing comics history. As to one of my initial areas of interest, I've been told that in at least one formatting the artists were credited with Tokyopop taking the "presents" route. My usual places to look at strips on-line haven't come through this morning so if anyone has a link to an on-line publication of either Tokyopop strip, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Another manga-type newspaper strip made its debut on Sunday according to astute CR reader Brian Moore. The Lowell Sun debuted a strip called "Kitsunegari" by Talia Parker, as part of their ongoing attempt to run strips from local artists.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Michael Ramirez Ends Up At Investor's Business Daily
Local Cartoonist Profile: Steve Nease
Stupid Comic Book, Uncool Stepmother
Local Cartoonist Profile: Morris Weiss
Pattersons to Educate Canadians on Money Matters

January 8, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Matt Madden


The cartoonist and educator behind 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style comes up with a dozen ways to answer questions here at CR about that work and his career in general.

CR Readers Are the Best Readers I Know

I missed a bunch of pretty interesting feature articles in my rush to settle in after the holidays, including a lot of stuff that came to my mailbox. Joey Manley is interviewed by the Blank Label people here. Dave McKean enjoys a retrospective at an atypically non-London small museum as described here. Anthony Vukojevich has uploaded a five-page comics here. Neil Ungerleider does a short interview with Neil Gaiman here. You can download a press release for a show called "Alternative Girlhood: Diaristic Indulgence and Contemporary Female Artists" in Brockport, New York:


That show will feature some excellent cartoonists, like Phoebe Gloeckner and Megan Kelso. None of the announcements above excuses me from not having covered the news items previously, and some should be covered a bit more thoroughly in days to come, but I hope you'll consider looking at those that interest you from the links provided today.

Go, Read: Jeet Heer on Latest McCay Release
posted 4:01 am PST | Permalink

January 7, 2006

CR Week In Review


Top Stories
The week's most important comics-related news stories, December 31, 2005 to January 6, 2006.

1. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund rids the Gordon Lee case of one more charge, and begins to brace for a Spring trial on the two remaining.

2. Wayne Markley of FM International fends off another round of rumors that his business is dead, this time spurred on by the return of product he claims is to pay off debt and help streamline his company. General outlook for Markley's company and non-Diamond distributors in general still dire.

3. Nick Anderson hired from the Louisville Courier-Journal by the Houston Chronicle, about as big a move in the world of editorial cartooning as can be imagined.

Winner of the Week
Anderson. He had a near-perfect set-up in Louisville, and reportedly told the Chronicle as much, which indicates the compensation and pay package and work allowances must be alarmingly great.

Loser of the Week
Dan Piraro, who negotiated a rough week as he apologized publicly for a joke that didn't quite work out, a joke that probably would have not just been tolerated twenty, thirty years ago, but I think better understood.

Quote of the Week
"One of the things that is radically different between cartoonists today and those of my father's generation is that those older cartoonists did not think of themselves as artists. They thought of themselves as entertainers. Milton Caniff said, 'We're just the paper boys hawking the papers on the street corner. That's our job.'"
-- Brian Walker in a fine interview about the Masters of American Comics exhibit.

Caniff art above
posted 7:37 am PST | Permalink

Seeking Best-Of 2005 Lists

If you've done a Best-Of 2005 in Comics list, or have read one you liked, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 7:28 am PST | Permalink

January 6, 2006

Become a Syndicated Strip Artist


In one of the odder stories to come down the pike in a while, Scott Adams is openly recruiting artists through his blog for Mike Belkin's feature Unfit. The funny thing (funny as in weird and ha-ha, like Jonathan Winters in a diaper speaking before Congress) about the story is that some people have suggested that Adams is Belkin, in a Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines sort of way.
posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink

Virgin Announces Comics Company

Richard Branson's Virgin is getting into the comics business, the twist being it will be located in India with an eye towards the Indian and other Asian markets before spinning out into the West. Looks like Virgin's teaming with that Deepak Chopra crew of intending-to-make-comics-folk that hit the scene last year (or maybe the year before). The company will also funnel properties into a new Virgin animated film company.
posted 8:27 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: David Low Cartoons


This isn't new or anything; I just had a hankering to look at some David Low cartoons.
posted 8:11 am PST | Permalink

Stan Hunt, 1929-2006

Stan Hunt, a longtime newspaper cartoonist who studied under Willard Mullin and specialized in golf cartoons, passed away Wednesday. He had most recently been a cartoonist and golf columnist for The Pilot in North Carolina.

Hunt was born in Williston Park, New York. He served in the Korean War with the 1st Infantry Division of the US Army, where he claimed to have played golf against eventual US Open winner Orville Moody. His newspapers included the New York World Telegram, the St. Petersburg Times, the Springfield Union and the Charlotte Observer. He also worked for a number of golf magazines.

Hunt is survived by a wife, an ex-wife, a son and three grandchildren.

This is not, to the best of my knowledge, the New Yorker cartoonist of the same name
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink

Nick Anderson to Houston Chronicle


The 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Anderson moving from the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he thrived, to the Houston Chronicle is a top ten hiring in the world of editorial cartoonists. I don't know if I missed initial word of the hire or if this follow up story from Editor and Publisher has simply come quickly on its heels. One piece of good news -- the Courier-Journal is expected to hire a cartoonist to replace Anderson.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Status Report on Baker Repository

The Herald-Sun weighs in with a (roughly) one-year-later report on the American Newspaper Repository donated to Duke by the author Nicholson Baker. As the article suggests, the collection should have various historical uses but will also serve as a publishing resource.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Jack Abramoff Compared to Batroc the Leaper
Blair Butler Explains Comics to Kansas City
Pratt Gallery Show PR Gears Up
DC Firms Up Their New York Con Slate
Diamond Names An International Sales Director

January 5, 2006

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse


FM International's Wayne Markley is manning the phones and telling reporters that his troubled distribution company is still in business, still moving forward. Latest round of rumors likely fueled by the company returning backstock in order to pay off some debt. One publisher acknowledges some sort of payments have been made reasonably recently. Future of FM remains uncertain, and barring a collapse is the kind of thing that will only become clear over time.

art used for comedic effect only
posted 11:45 am PST | Permalink

Piraro Expresses Regret Over Strip


This New Year's Bizarro cartoon was neither an oblique shot at Brokeback Mountain nor was it a veiled reference to the Matthew Shepard case, the cartoonist says, but simply a joke. Click through the image for much more from Dallas' comics columnist Mike Peters. I'm reminded of a popular Second City sketch from the George Wendt/Richard Kind era that made roughly the same joke without anyone complaining.

As an aside, Piraro's work is much more visually sumptuous than I remember it being, although that's probably my bad memory.
posted 8:38 am PST | Permalink

The Corpse in the Corner of the Room

Like some strange horror film, various people in comics seem to have come to the conclusion that the distributor FM International is more than likely dead, even though no one seems to be able to properly locate the body and kick it several times to see that it won't get up. About six weeks ago, when a client complained about lack of phones being answered and some overdue bills, I was assured after speaking with several customers of the distributor that everything was relatively normal in their business relationships with the distributor. The unspoken understanding, of course, is that most businesses in trouble are going to assure as many clients as possible that everything's okay for as long as it's possible to do so. But if rumors in comics about sick businesses always turned out to be true, DC would own Marvel right now.

Today, in addition to some people not having bills paid, several other companies admitting to monitoring the situation closely without a direct complaint, and yet another company getting material returned and deciding to end their business relationship with FM, we have an almost matter-of-fact death notice made in a column and an e-mail flurry this morning. A lot of people are going to put on boots and stomp around the room today, so confirmation one way or the other will likely be forthcoming.
posted 7:54 am PST | Permalink

Bring Me the Head of Ivan Brunetti

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Masters of American Comics To-Do List

For all of you Southern California folk out there, Mike Dooley has pieced together a list of all programmed activities planned over the next ten weeks in conjunction with the Masters of American comics exhibit.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Public Square Books Moves Into Manga
Bookslut on New Jim Ottaviani Book
They Also Reviewed Pyongyang
It's Official: I've Wasted My Life

January 4, 2006

Go, Read: Brian Walker Interview

imageAn excellent short interview of Brian Walker conducted by Todd Hignite of Comic Art at the time of the Masters of American Comic opening has finally made its way on-line. Hignite asks smart questions, in a way that allows the casual reader to stay with the discussion but gets at some very complex issues in the way comics art is perceived. For example, he broaches the subject of the relative disfavor with which the illustrative comic strip artists are seen by some in a direct, unadorned fashion. The interview drops a bunch of compelling tidbits, too, like the fact there's very little Roy Crane art left out there. There's even a bonus joke by Art Chantry in the comments section.

CR reader Charles Orr notes this NPR with Walker is now up, too.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

News to Make You Feel Lazy

While the rest of us were sitting around in our bright red underwear with egg nog mustaches trying to remember the words to the Heat Miser song, at least a couple of cartoonists were getting work done. Scott McCloud has apparently finished his book. Jesse Hamm has similarly finished a DC project, which I would assume is the one talked about by Derek Kirk Kim here for a new Vertigo imprint (mystery? romance?).
posted 7:28 am PST | Permalink

Scott Adams Trapped in Own Strip


When a cartoonist gets stuck in their own strip, I always wonder who's drawing it.
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

Details on “Modern Tales Free”

Eric Burns has now posted submission guidelines to the new Modern Tales advertising-driven effort, and in doing so let loose a few pertinent and I think interesting details. For one, as indicated above it will be called Modern Tales Free until another, better name can be established more permanently (I'd like to suggest "Comics Destructocon 3000"). Another thing that pops out on a first-read is that it won't require exclusivity, meaning people can also self-publish or publish through another collective (as long as they allow publication elsewhere as well), which is one of those things that makes you do the Little Rascals o-mouthed double-take, but when you think about the model involved, sort of makes sense.

edited because I always have to edit stories about on-line comics.
posted 6:38 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Percy Crosby and More


I wasn't as familiar with this blog as a couple others of its type, but it's a precursor to Barnacle Press searchable by category so you can do things like make a 100-plus strip archive of Percy Crosby's classic kids' strip Skippy pop up on your screen.
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: The Beat’s Year-End Survey

Heidi MacDonald asked a bunch of industry folk their opinions on biggest story of '05, biggest story of '06, and guilty pleasure of '06 -- this becomes interesting not only for the stories offered up, but for the snapshot of values brought to the table that fuels various choices.
posted 6:22 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Old School Comics Sales Mechanism Closes
Cartoons in Denmark Issue Still Echoes
Another Editorial Cartoonist Turned Blogger
Donna Barstow to be Cartoonist for LA Times Magazine
Any Story that Uses "Spasmodically" is an Okay Story

January 3, 2006

The Comics Reporter at The Pulse

The Gordon Lee case goes from three charges to two; the CBLDF braces for a Spring trial -- includes a lot of analysis from CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein.
posted 10:22 am PST | Permalink

Will Eisner’s Passing One Year Later

imageThe comics great Will Eisner passed away one year ago today; it seems he shares a date of passing with Andre Franquin. That's the kind of thing you notice with the persepctive that develops over time. You also notice how the legacy begins to settle into place, and it's a sign that the comics field is being covered in a more respectful, thorough fashion that most of what I remember seeing the last 12 months praised his prodigious talent and recognized him as a graphic novel pioneer without getting caught up in the details of one of comics nerdiest credit tussles, that of where the graphic novel came from. I was also happy to see in a Dave Sim interview (I can't remember where, or if he was interviewer or interviewee) the reintroduction of how hard A Contract With God hit a certain generation of cartoonists, not for the format, but for its tone and execution.

Eisner biographer Bob Andelman wrote in his A Spirited Life e-newsletter this morning about the one-year anniversary, and noted the following projects for 2005:

* the biography
* The Contract With God Trilogy, from WW Norton.
* The Best of the Spirit, DC Comics
* The Spirit Archives Volume 17, DC Comics
* a special issue of Comic Book Artist
* a day of Eisner-related programming at the International Comic Arts Festival
* dual documentaries debuting at least in part at Comic-Con International.
* Eisner's first museum art showing at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
* The Plot, WW Norton
* a staging of Dropsie Avenue in Brazil

It seems somehow fitting that the first year after Eisner's passing would feature enough activity for any two living cartoonists.
posted 9:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Andre Franquin


Speaking of Andre Franquin, I have a lot of fun looking at the great cartoonist's art, although I'll admit you have to chalk me up as one of those parochial North Americans that can't quite enjoy the rhythm of his comics. Anyway, poke around at this site and you'll find multiple pop-up pages, both sketches and design work.
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

Jean Ollivier, 1925-2005

imageThe French comics writer Jean Ollivier passed away on December 31, according to this report on the site. He's best known for his work on the magazine Vaillant from its start in 1945 to its end in 1992, including a stint as editor. According to his entry at, his series included Yves le Loup, Le Cormoran, P'tit Joc, Ragna le Viking, Jacques Flash, Loup Noir, and Docteur Justice; his collaborators included Rene Bastard, ET Coelho, Lucien Nortier, Paul Gillon, Andre Joy, Pierre Leguen, Kline, and Raphael Marcello. Other publications to which Ollivier contributed were Camera 34 and L'Humanite.

In the latter portion of his long and proflific career, Ollivier found work working on collections and series for the publisher Hachette. With a slight concentration on historical comics, later magazine clients included Vecu and L'Echo des Savanes. He was 80 years old when he passed away on Saturday afternoon. More links are included at the bottom of the ActuaBD piece.

I'm hoping that art's from a Coelho/Ollivier collaboration, but I could be wrong.
posted 8:52 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Your Yomiuri International Cartoon Contest Winner Analyzes Variety on Superhero Movies
More Best of '05: Newsarama's Best Shots
Give Steve Rude Publishing Advice

January 2, 2006

Maurice Dodd, 1922-2005


Maurice Dodd, the longtime writer of the British comic strip institutions The Perishers, passed away in Ashford, Surrey, late on December 31 after collapsing at home. He was 83 years old.

Dodd was born in east London in 1922. An advertising writer by trade, Dodd began writing The Perishers in the late 1950s when creator Bill Herbert asked him to step in and lend a creative hand. He wrote the strip from that point until his death, with artist Dennis Collins until 1983, and Collins' successors thereafter. The Perishers focused on a group of children and a dog named Boot; according to the BBC, Dodd's children believed a lot of their own foibles made it into the cartoon feature.

Dodd would retire from his advertising work in the 1980s to concentrate on writing for animation and children's books.

He is survived by four children and a wife of 60 years.

You can find son Mike Dodd's announcement of his father's passing here; a page at Toonhound here; an autobiographical piece by the cartoonist here; a fan page with the cast here; and a fan page with some strips here.

Thanks to Steve Block for the extra links.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Eric Burns to Edit New Modern Tales

Webcomics creator and reviewr Eric Burns will edit a new, advertising-driven version of the Modern Tales web site, according to statements at Burns' web site and a follow-up press release -- click on Eric_Burns_to_Edit_New_Modern_Tales.doc to download -- from that effort's owner, Joey Manley.

Manley's release indicates the primary reason for the endeavor can be found in various changes in economic circumstances that drive web site models, elements that have changed since the time the subscription-model Modern Tales and various related sites (also known as the Modern Tales family) were launched. Manley further notes that the various subscription model sites will stick around, and that this will be a site in addition to the already-existing Modern Tales, not a replacement. For his part, Burns makes clear he will have nothing to do with the original, existing Modern Tales sites or the related sites sometimes referred to as "the Modern Tales family."
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Willie and His Papa

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Khepri Comics Opens Physical Store

According to an e-mail that went out a couple of days back, the on-line comics store Khepri has just opened a brick-and-mortar establishment in Tempe near the Arizona State University campus, starting modestly (even cash-only right at first) with plans to expand their services as they settle down. For those not on the mailing list it looks like the e-mail, including times of operation for the first several days, can be found on Brian Wood's LiveJournal.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: More on Crumb Vs. Amazon

At his Technology & Marketing Law Blog, Eric Goldman provides a succinct analysis of the Crumb Versus, Inc. case which became national newswire fodder late last week. Happily, he also uploads the actual complaint itself. Goldman points out what leapt out at me from the news story about the case, that what's at question is how much in damages Crumb's owed from the period his art was being used, despite the art coming down immediately. It's not like this doesn't seem obvious if you think about it, but so many potential cases go away when people apologize and fold that further action might surprise some people.
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
NYT Profiles New Comics Strip Launch
Semi-Important-Sounding MAD Art Auction
Israel/German Cartooning Exchange
Tom Scott Makes '06 New Zealand Honours List

January 1, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Happy New Year!
I don't express my gratitude nearly often enough, so I wanted to take some time out right at the top of the calendar to thank you for visiting the site in 2005 as well the first day in 2006. I hope you'll continue to come back in this new year. I know how precious computer time can be. Anything I can do to make the site more useful for you, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I'll definitely consider it. I hope you like the changes in general approach and scope that will be phased in over the next month or so.

imageOne of the great kindnesses I received in 2005 was money raised through the site to pay a few bills related to site upkeep and make possible the extra time to get some older content into the archives. I've been posting material quietly ever since -- you may have noticed a lot of older reviews going up at a rate of five a day over the last two weeks, which should continue for two more weeks before new reviews start again. Here's another one of those older pieces I've been dying to get up and just did yesterday: an interview with comics writer Joe Casey from mid-2003. I think it's one of my stronger pieces, and I hope you enjoy it.

Why Discussions About Getting Comics Into the Mainstream Are a Waste of Time

I got a couple of e-mails yesterday complaining that I was making fun of those who participated in a discussion at Warren Ellis' The Engine site without offering up anything "positive" of my own. (You can find the mention I made in the quote section of Saturday's "Week in Review" post below, if you're so inclined.) I don't really do positive for the sake of positive, but here are a few reasons why I don't participate in "making comics mainstream" discussions.

* 1. Comics haven't been mainstream since 1947 or so, and won't be mainstream ever again.
* 2. Screw being mainstream anyway. Comics has a lot of its cultural power not just as a secondary art form, but as a semi-disgraced secondary art form. I think because of their personal neuroses, which in many cases expresses itself in a desire to be popular, some comics fans put too much stock in a wide audience. The goofballs who write "According to Jim" have a bigger audience than the playwright Tony Kushner. But who has the more admirable, effective and ultimately desirable creative platform? I'd say Kushner.
* 3. That superhero comic book companies have a lot to learn from manga companies is a fallacy. The rise of manga as a commercial force in the US is based on a number of factors over (at least) a decade-long period, many of which are historically specific and the vast majority of which are product specific. They're largely not copy-able. In addition, the model that superhero comics companies have chosen for themselves is super-duper profitable in almost every way it's intended to be -- I can't believe Avi Arad would trade financial portfolios with Stuart Levy. Here's the thing: just because the rise of manga has exposed a lot of conventional wisdom in the comics arena as superhero-centric conventional wisdom doesn't mean that stuff stops applying to those superhero companies. Manga's success is about manga, not about the deficiences of Marvel and DC. Similarly, Persepolis selling in the high five figures should not be an occasion to ask why Moon Knight: Wrath of Khonshu didn't get this audience instead. Companies like Marvel and DC are irrelevant to certain conversations. They need to do what they do better, not what somebody else has done.
* 4. Comics has an infrastructure problem that makes worthless any meta-marketing principle or concept.
* 5. Most plans or ideas to make comics mainstream accept pernicious elements of the status quo rather than deplore them and demand they change.

Comics industry folk need to accept that comics are a secondary art form -- like theater and radio, not TV and movies -- stop thinking about goofy stuff like celebrity endorsements and start thinking about serious industry reform that will hopefully maximize the potential audience in a way that's ethical for everyone involved.

Go, Read: Chicago Reader Comics PDF


Click through the image above for a pdf file of the Chicago Reader issue containing its year in review comics section. It's an odd mix of cartoonists, well worth the time to check out if your computer and connection can handle the download.

Thanks to Todd Allen

Initial Thought of the Day

You know what would make a good Halloween costume? The kid from the GRIT ad. Get a buzz cut, find some nerd glasses, wear a short sleeve plaid shirt and some khakis, and paint G.R.I.T. on the side of a white, canvas bag, with some sort of fake publication in it, maybe porno.
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink

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