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

February 28, 2006

McGruder Taking Boondocks Break


Apparently, the cartoonist Aaron McGruder is taking a six-month sabbatical from his The Boondocks comic strip. Does anyone else think he might not come back?
posted 5:05 am PST | Permalink

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* I think this will be the last one on a focused, daily basis, unless renewed violence starts another cycle.

* The following are links to news of protests, political developments, economic boycotts, cartoonist reaction and editorial decision-making that can be linked back to Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper publishing 12 cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed last Fall.

* We've officially moved into the lengthy, general analysis phase.

* Mike Rhode sends interesting word that while Ruben Bolling did effective strip in Tom the Dancing Bug on both the Danish Cartoons Controversy and the other politically charged publishing issue of the month, the Tom Toles vs. the Pentagon affair, both cartoons may have been underpublished in their usual, traditional outlets.

* There's some interesting political stuff today, kicking off with the European Union foreign ministers haggling over what should be in the EU statement on the affair. Nigerian governors condemn their recent riots. Looks like there will be a conference in Denmark for people to do a post-mortem. There's already one going on in Ohio.

* If I didn't generally like Wiley Miller's work, Paper Apologizes for Publishing Non Sequitur Cartoon would write its own joke. In other publication news, Michigan is late to the party with the whole school paper publishing the cartoons thing.

* Profile of Amitai Sandy and Eyal Zusman and their anti-Semitic cartoon contest.
posted 4:26 am PST | Permalink

The New Yorker Cover That Wasn’t

posted 3:09 am PST | Permalink on NYCC Publishing News

Although the big news of the weekend at New York Comic-Con was overcrowding and convention administration, the comics business and analysis site has filtered out a few of the more important news stories.

* Dark Horse expanding their manga output into multiple genres and publishing the critique-driven SS Magazine.

* The Marvel/Top Cow deal.

* MegaTokyo's move from Dark Horse to DC's CMX imprint.

The Dark Horse one interests me because Dark Horse had done well in the direct market with a lot of adventure titles, so publishing in multiple genres would seem to indicate some hunch on their part of either an expanded reach by the company into bookstores and/or a wider variety of titles doing well in the comic book shops.
posted 2:27 am PST | Permalink

Speakeasy Comics Shuts Its Doors

imageAn e-mail from unofficial company representative Vito Delsante (Delsante_E-Mail.doc) and an Internet posting or two from creators is how word seeped out yesterday afternoon that a comic book company called Speakeasy had closed. If you read this site regularly and hadn't heard of Speakeasy, that's because I basically never talked about them. Speakeasy seemed to me one of those weird comic book companies of which there always seem to be one or two around that didn't publish comics with near as much energy as it talked about publishing comics, its deals, its inability to get books out, its treatment by on-line media, its plans for new eras and new starts, and the burgeoning mogul status of its owner, in this case a gentleman named Adam Fortier. I don't think it's much of a stretch to suggest that companies like Speakeasy exist more significantly as items discussed and reported on-line than they do as a presence in comic book stores.

The unfortunate thing about this is that there definitely were comics published, which no doubt carried the hopes and dreams and hard work and expectations of their creators. I'm also pretty sure there was probably an okay book or two bearing the Speakeasy logo. Given a platform there are usually creators that will do something with it. But it's weird in that the comics I'm aware of that fit this description -- for example a comic called Elk's Run, and a comic called Rocketo -- I've only ever seen or heard about on-line.


* Alan David Doane seems to know more about the company than I do, calling it basically a CrossGen with no money. (CrossGen was a Florida-based company that tried a salaried studio approach to generate a shared universe that mixed superheroes, fantasy and science fantasy; it is remembered for the shoe-to-the-podium declarations of its initially well-capitalized owner Mark Alessi and the lesson that universe building is best left to the Jack Kirbys.) For those keeping track, Alan even gives us a new Doane-ism: "toxic cretin."

* Warren Ellis released an essay through his Bad Signal e-mail service this morning calling Fortier a nice, smart guy but declaring, "This, I'm sorry to say, is one publisher getting it wrong from start to finish: releasing too many books, without a support structure.releasing comics without a dedicated marketing plan." Ellis' site The Engine has a discussion of the news and is providing talent involved a platform to let people know their future plans.

* Newsarama has a talk with Fortier where he expresses dismay that it's difficult to break into a highly competitive industry at an immediately sustainable level. Okay, he doesn't really say that. In fact, if I'm getting him, Fortier indicates that since companies with millions in reserve (CrossGen, although he could have said Kevin Eastman's over-indulgent early '90s black hole Tundra, too) were unable to make it in comics, comics publishing may be closed to just about everyone. This isn't true, but it does indicate that right now you have to have sustainable capital, publishing skill, marketing ability, something some people want, and enough pespective to let those factors and not personal ambition define the enterprise. I didn't see any of that with Speakeasy, and I shake my head at comics' generous heart that such misbegotten dreams are allowed to linger.
posted 12:39 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Newport Doing Covers?


If I'm reading this correctly, Mark Newport, the artist who received a lot of ink for making versions of superhero costumes, will resurface with a show that includes embroidered comic book covers. (Thanks, Kelly Sue DeConnick)
posted 12:37 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Art Spiegelman on Tour
Missed It: Village Voice on Mark Newgarden
A Treasure Chest of New Catholic Comics
Jimmy Margulies Wins Berryman Award

February 26, 2006

Dissident Artist Naushad Waheed Freed

imageThrough various human rights organizatons comes word that the artist and cartoonist Naushad Waheed was recently freed in the Maldives. Waheed had been convicted in a 2001 trial to 15 years in prison for taking part in political debates. He had been brought to the attention of authorities in 1999 when he published a cartoon in the magazine Hukurum critical of the government and was detained for four months as a result, briefly becoming an international press cause celebre. I lack the experience and perspective to make much of the political elements in Waheed's sentence and subsequent release, but I do find it interesting he seemed to be making art while in prison, including, I believe, the picture at right of slain prisoner Evaan Naseem.
posted 11:45 pm PST | Permalink

Mark Trail Vs. Eminent Domain

I couldn't make this up.
posted 11:29 pm PST | Permalink

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* Yes, this again.

* The following are links to news of protests, political developments, economic boycotts, cartoonist reaction and editorial decision-making that can be linked back to Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper publishing 12 cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed last Fall.

image* The most interesting story to develop over the weekend -- and by develop I mean has finally reached my attention -- has to do with the cartoon at right. Clicking on the image will take you to a directory of the full story by the cartoonist Ville Ranta. Since publishing this on the web site of the magazine Kaltio, a pair of that magazine's commercial sponsors objected, the editorial board agreed with the objections, the magazine has since closed down the site, fired the person responsible, and there are claims that Ranta's since lost other work. If I'm getting that all correctly, it's really unecessary and horrible. Everybody please hire Ville Ranta.

Okay, since I went to bed and woke up the story hit the Finnish press.

* Not much in the way of protests, but lots of feature-y and analysis articles, like this one on how Danish companies are finding their way through the problems presented by the widespread boycott.

* There are still international journalistic issues that need sorting out. There's a call for an editor to be suspended in Malaysia. Heck, another Malaysian paper may suspend its editor for running a Wiley Miller Non-Sequitur cartoon that obliquely references the whole matter, which has to be a lot less cool to explain to your neighbors why you have time to do some daytime grocery shopping and pick up the kids from school. In good news, Canadians opted for the non-depressing option by deciding not to prosecute newspaper editors for hate crimes.

* Editorial and strip cartoonist Scott Stantis weighs in. And remember back on the first day when we linked to Tim Cavanaugh at Reason suggesting that the benefits to dialogue might be worth it? Okay, trust me, we did. Anyway, here's another article in support of that notion.

* Nerd Jihad '06 continues.

* Here's a story on negative Muslim reaction to a bounty on cartoonists' heads, which in this mess counts as "feel good." All joking aside, that's a refreshingly positive story.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Alice Lorenzi

posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

New York Comic-Con Wraps

A few notes to help wrap up the New York Comic-Con coverage.

* Chris Mautner has provided this site a news report and photos about his Friday visit, and what he saw was a fine show with a lot of potential for the future. Thanks, Chris!

* Go here for an ongoing Collective Memory entry that puts together all the worthwhile links I could find yesterday evening. I would say the belles of this particular ball, at least so far, are the Comics Foundry photo slideshow, Newsarama's interview with the convention director about the crowd situation on Saturday, the very detailed anonymous industry member's letter to this site, and Christopher Butcher in general but particularly the one on the State of the Industry panel.

* My opinion about the con's weekend difficulties hasn't really changed since yesterday. What happened at the show is not a "but" situation but an "and" situation. A lot of people were frustrated and disappointed Saturday and a lot of people had a great time overall and enjoyed the energy and focus of the show. One doesn't really have anything to do with the other; the negative doesn't invalidate the positive and the positive sure as heck doesn't make the negative dismissable.

* I'm happy that it looks like there's going to be a big industry show in New York from now on.

* It may just be the Monday morning grumpies, but I'm leery of this attitude that comics people seem to have where if it doesn't affect them directly, it didn't happen or was no big deal -- if my contract is good, someone else's unfair contract is their problem; if I have a cool store at which to shop in my big city, the blinking out of comics outlets in smaller towns is too bad for the dopes living in red states; and so on.

In this case, just because some pros and press were removed from the hassles or were able to sneak in where they wanted to and overall weren't personally affected shouldn't keep us from feeling sorry to hear about some poor schlub who brought his family and was sent home or people who came from out of town and had a horrible time dealing with confusion, long lines and having only security to ask for explanations. A "Who cares! Big Show! Whoo Whoo!" attitude is part of the reason I've always looked suspiciously at Team Comics community-building as little more than empty I've-got-mine boosterism. If you're going to talk about the positives of the community showcase provided by New York, you have to engage the negatives, too.

* Not only is a bigger space needed for their next show, but it like they could use more attentive staff on the front-lines level, better-designed passes, and an ability to identify problems and divert energy into solving them early. For a start. Sounds like design of the floorspace could be improved, too.

* I'm kind of disappointed by the shortening of the trade show aspect and the lack of compelling story I'm getting from the panels overall. A dedicated comics show with a trade show aspect should hopefully reveal something in the way of a new idea or a potential new way of looking at things.

Please note: New York Comic-Con has been a paid advertiser on this site, expiring tomorrow.
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Ed Franklin, 1921-2006


Ed Franklin, a political cartoonist with the Globe and Mail, the Houston Press, the Houston Post, and a freelancer with clients including The Saturday Evening Post, died recently according to a report at Sequential. According to that report, the Texas-born Franklin joined the staff of the Globe in 1968 and stayed there until retirement in 1987, the last 15 years at the paper's main cartoonist. His post-retirement clients included the Financial Post and Saturday Night. A memorial service is planned for today in Toronto.

a 1985 award-winner by Franklin
posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Disney Orgy Essay

Here's an essay on the unlikely subject of Wally Wood's Disney Orgy gatefold from a 1967 issue of the magazine The Realist, one of those indelible pieces of pop art you've seen before you've seen it, if you know what I mean. In fact, I'm so fond of Wood's work that I think schoolchildren across America should be required to write similar essays on the orgy, taking the place in the curriculum currently occupied by A Separate Peace and/or Silas Marner. You can see the item of discussion here.
posted 7:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Paris Exhibit for Will Eisner Opens
Eric Jerome Dickey Talks Comic Books
Image's CCI Party Becomes Harder Ticket
A Different Kind of Media Crossover
LCS Owner Profile: Dave Watson
Review Takes North Korea/South Korea Angle

CR Sunday Magazine

A Preview of the Next Volume of Mome and a Short Interview With Co-Editor Eric Reynolds


No Room at the Con

The big news of the morning is that New York Comic-Con is shutting down to non-prepaid ticketholders after what sounds like a bear of a Saturday, with reports and rumors of huge crowds, pre-paid registrants being denied access (or asked to come back Sunday), and some artists, editors and writers finding it difficult to impossible to get where they needed to be to fulfill professional obligations.

I'm happy to hear that the New York Con has been a success audience- and interest-wise. New York is a great comics town, maybe the greatest in the world, and both the readers and the various industries can benefit from a successful show.

Still, there's a big difference between having so many people show up you have to turn some away and what sounds like a disorganized mess that is generally frustrating, denies prepaids (some of whom may have traveled to get to New York City), limits severely the amount of time people can spend at the con even if they get in, and hinders the professional and press groups from free movement at the show. This is made worse by the fact that Friday's sizeable attendance should have sent up warning flags that Saturday attendance would be even worse.

The sad thing about this is if I know comics people few will likely give a shit unless they were directly hassled, and some with that splendid, special-to-comics mix of crass opportunism and self-loathing might even be thrilled by the crowds at the expense of anything else that happened.

There's unfolding coverage of the show everywhere. I'm really enjoying Christopher Butcher's.

Note: NYCC is a paid advertiser at CR.

Spotlight on Justin "Gus" Norman


The artist Justin Norman is one of my favorite people in comics, the kind of friendly acquaintance one might only find in a field where you see certain people once or twice a year over a decade or so.

I was pleased to hear that Gus will be doing a regular series from Image Comics, and that he has an on-line gallery here. He also sent me e-mail this morning about his trip to January's Festival in Angouleme, which he did in dedicated blog fashion you can access by clicking through the image above.

First Thought of the Day

When I was a teenager, I used to have a dream about discovering an attic-full of Golden and Silver Age superhero comic books in pristine condition. The most vivid thing about the dream was my excitement not at the monetary windfall but at being able to place my hands on all these old books.

Last night I had the same dream, but it was a bookstore and I kept finding old cartoonists' books I'd never heard of existing before, like an oversized Complete Barnaby for a more than affordable $3.

I bet a lot of you have some variation of this dream. Although I wonder if to share my dream exactly you have to be old enough to remember a time when there were few reprints and no trades and therefore back-issues simply meant getting to read these stories you'd heard about.
posted 12:46 am PST | Permalink

February 25, 2006

Rumor: FM International—Is that Twitching Life or Involuntary Spasms?

I've received five more FM International rumors in the last eight days, from different industry people, the gist of which is that businesses are openly referring to the struggling distributor being dead and/or are resigned to shouldering a loss. I hate rumor-mongering, and I wouldn't post without multiple people saying something to me, but 1) distributors are a tricky case in that money has almost always already been extended and the businesses in question can't even admit they're in all that much trouble or risk immediate Samuel-Jackson-Eaten-By-A-Supershark doom, 2) such rumors can be a story in and of themselves, especially if they're keeping people from working with a business that is legitimately trying to settle into a new status quo. Anyway, if it's getting to me, then either a lot of people are talking about it or a few are playing a specific dirty trick on yours truly. Honestly, I'm about as "inside" as Jim Shooter these days.

My hunch is that the FM may still be technically alive but is really just sort of getting its affairs in order (passing along or returning stock, maybe) rather than putting itself in a position to get back into business.

Of course, I could be completely and totally wrong. And I'm happy to post a rejoinder/denial.
posted 1:39 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, February 18 to February 24, 2006.

1. Protests and political fall-out continues in the Danish Cartoons Controversy, including a period of escalating violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria that ended with scores of deaths. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday.

2. DC Comics begins to preview their new status quo. Will it be any better than the old status quo? Because it needs to be.

3. The Byron Preiss businesses declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy, less than a year after Preiss' auto accident-related passing.

Winners of the Week
Marvel stockholders, who somehow got a bump after reports of a quarter when they took a big charge from moving from Toy Biz to Hasbro.

Loser of the Week
JM Thevenet, out at Angouleme.

Quote of the Week
"But what I do not understand is the logic that leads some Muslims to try and make non-Muslims abide by the precepts of Islam, it's a bit silly. Today we start by forbidding them to draw things about Islam, and tomorrow what? Will they forbid them to eat ham? To each his own religion, and things will be square." -- the cartoonist Ali Dilem, whose own situation is perhaps even more fascinating.

from the Ali Dilem interview; that's even their caption
posted 1:12 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: Name Your Five Favorite Editorial Cartoonists.

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 3rd.

posted 12:57 am PST | Permalink

February 24, 2006

This Week’s Reviews

Goddess Head
Luba: The Book of Ofelia
Cromartie High School Volume 4
Superman: Strength
posted 8:59 pm PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* The following are links to news of protests, political developments, economic boycotts, cartoonist reaction and editorial decision-making that can be linked back to Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper publishing 12 cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed last Fall. (early timeline; cartoons)

* Protests continue today.

* The New York Times covers this week's tragic run of events in Nigeria.

* It may be the optimism of a Friday morning with protests but not freakishly violent ones, but today feels like a slight intake of breath until what should be an outporing of political ramification coverage and editorializing that will, hopefully, be either the final chapter in the whole horrid affair or at least this cycle of it. Today the headliner is the Chechen prime minister backpedaling on barring Danish aid workers. Danish Prime Mininster Anders Fogh Rasmussen once again says basically, "No probe necessary, thanks" and seems more of a mind that this may be the end of a cycle rather than the affair altogether.

* In one of the strongest statements by a cartoonist yet, Doug Marlette at Salon calls much of the reaction in the West "gutless" and "brainless."

* Two regional round-ups: New York and Canada.
posted 2:17 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Marcel Dzama Gallery

posted 1:12 am PST | Permalink

New York Comic-Con Hits

The initial New York Comic-Con (an advertiser here at CR) kicks off today -- a heady mix of Gotham, convention giant Reed Exhibitions and (largely) mainstream comic book culture. We appreciate their advertising here, and hope many of you in the East Coast area have a fun weekend at the show.

I imagine if anything even approaching the fundamentals of local advertising were exercised, the show will be a success. New York has been waiting for a con for a very long time, the professional community seems enthused to play host, and it looks like the two big dangers that popped to mind during the show's initial announcement aren't going to happen. First, New York frequently loses one weekend in February to a heavy snowfall, but that happened two weeks ago. Second, the winter hasn't been harsh enough for high oil prices to cause a regional depression as some feared that would have made spending money on comics and toys less likely.

Very few people talk about this, but the show definitely disappointed some by switching to such an aggressive mainstream comics profile pretty early on in its planning, and has continued to worry a few that wanted something more like an big-tent Book Expo America with fewer freebies than a Wizard Con with more aggressive programming -- or some unholy mix of the two. The two leading art-comix publishers, Drawn and Quarterly and Fantagraphics, are late adopters of conventions and won't be attending this one. Back when I thought I'd have a portion of this site converted to feature news stories by now, I talked to a couple of independent publishers that were worried they might be pushed off to one side, both literally (in terms of show space) and figuratively (in terms of this becoming a mainstream-focused show instead of the all-camps effort that many thought possible at the time the show was announced). But the show also has been largely solicitous towards ameliorating those concerns, or at least willing to provide extra support in other areas, like programming.

Anyhow, if I were attending I'd be stopping by various art comics signings like those set up or endorsed by D&Q and FBI in absentia, and going to a lot of industry-related programming. I'm interested in how the industry-related programming turns out. Again, this isn't Book Expo America; there's no reason -- and no real benefit -- to introductory-type panels where everyone repeats the big type on the last six months of their respective company's press releases. This is a comics audience. If the moderators do their job, and challenge the participants, there could be interesting results. If not, the panels could be a superficial waste of time. King Features will be on hand with a lot of cartoonists, so that sounds pretty cool; many of those artists don't get out as often as as their comic book brethren. And as always, supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) is a great and a worthwhile thing.

It looks like Christopher Butcher will be providing the most personal, least agenda-oriented coverage among the major bloggers and news sites, at least in the immediate, you-are-there sense. If you're subscribing to Publishers Weekly's Comics Week newsletter, you should get updates from the the PW people in on-the-floor mode at their sister company's show. I have at least one writer who promised to give me his impressions when he gets back, and will round-up the results in a "collective memory" entry.

I like conventions as social phenomena, and, occasionally, depending on the guest list, as a celebration of the variety and excellence of the art form. I remain pretty unconvinced they're industry events of note in the way that people would like to think of them. PR concerns drive a lot of announcements that would have been made at some point anyway, and there's an enormous lack of industry-wide will that would be necessary for people to use the time together constructively as opposed to merely hanging out and enjoying each other's company and basking in some measure of social approbation (although that serves a purpose, too). Still, New York is a great comics town and deserves a show, and there's something to be said about a portion of the industry getting into the same room every now and then, if only to more easily measure where things stand and where they're going. Enjoy the show!
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Cartoonists Volunteer Under Big Top


Here's a nice, straight-forward story about creators stepping in to do episodes of Big Top while creator Rob Harrell receives treatment for cancer.
posted 12:49 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Todd McFarlane’s Balls

imageCartoonist turned toy magnate Todd McFarlane discusses his collection of home-run related baseballs the way one imagines young Todd once talked about his collection of Don McGregor comics. He also talks about sports in general and his relationship to it -- insert joke about newsworthy rarity of cartoonist having a passion about sports -- a discussion that includes the killer, self-referential line, "I guess it's one of those conundrums of Todd the Enigma."

file photo of Todd's baseballs nicked from the McFarlane Empire web site
posted 12:32 am PST | Permalink

Kyle Baker to Host Harvey Awards

The cartoonist Kyle Baker will host this year's Harvey Awards. The Harveys are one of the North American comics industry's major awards programs, albeit a kind of unstable one, moving from con to con before settling in this year at the Baltimore Comic-Con in September. They are named after the late Harvey Kurtzman. Baker is a versatile cartoonist and forceful public personality whose recent projects include a just-ended run on DC's Plastic Man character and a biographical comic featuring Nat Turner; I think it's a good choice, doubly so if his web site theme music plays when he walks out on stage.
posted 12:22 am PST | Permalink

February 23, 2006

Quick hits
Kevin Kallaugher Interviewed Post-Sun
Longest Comics-Related Headline of the Day
Walt Handelsman Moves Into Animations
Exhibit Opens Next Week Featuring Howard Cruse
Art Spiegelman Speaks in Bay Area

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* The following are links to news of protests, political developments, economic boycotts, cartoonist reaction and editorial decision-making that can be linked back to Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper publishing 12 cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed last Fall. (timeline; cartoons)

* What I initially thought was double-reporting on the Nigerian riots is actually back and forth between upset Muslims and Christians reacting to those upset Muslims, with increasing violence on both sides. If there's an even slightly comics/cartoon-related headline more horrifying, more heartbreaking than "Corpses Burn on Streets of Nigerian City," I don't ever want to see it. In other protests, 1000 people took back to the streets this morning in Indonesia, as the Danish ambassador's return this week has given protests slightly new life -- someone's building to march in front of, I guess.

* I'm not seeing much in the way of political manuevering. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi came out against the cartoons, perhaps spurred on by poltical considerations surrounding Libya that are recapped in this article.

image* The American political cartoonist Tim Kreider has uploaded his hopeful winner in an Iranian paper's Holocaust cartoon contest to his site. As you might be able to make out at right, the title is "Silver Linings of the Holocaust." Tim's a smart writer, too, so definitely click on the link to his statement about the cartoon. In less incendiary cartoonist-reaction news, Mikhaela Reid was interviewed on the subject.

* Universities are still struggling with printing the original cartoons, although it's likely this group of stories goes away pretty soon.

* Although most North American newspapers played ostrich long enough to avoid the issue of whether or not to print the cartoons, one still sees the occasional explanatory editorial. Various newspeople will discuss the issue tomorrow in a special symposium in D.C. Over in Great Britain, there's been almost no publication, to the point that a leaflet by a political party has caused as much consternation as ten nationals re-publishing might have caused here.
posted 3:10 am PST | Permalink

Make Mine a Sales Forecast Adjustment


If you take out the charge incurred on the change in the way they're doing a significant part of their licensing (switch from doing it with the Toy Biz division to a deal with Hasbro), Marvel's general outlook looks pretty okay, according to the quarterly throwing out of numbers a tiny part of me isn't convinced they don't just make up. I wonder if any of this will bear mention by the good folks at Motley Fool?

It's not comics, but part of these reports means you get a little list of their movies and their stages of development.
posted 2:35 am PST | Permalink

No, Spidey! No!

I think I'm finally convinced that these new J. Michael Straczynski plotlines for Spider-Man are straying just a bit too far from the original conception of the character.
posted 2:05 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jens Harder Mini-Gallery

posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Lewis Todd, 1924-2006

Lewis Todd, a long-time caricaturist for the Cambridge Daily News (later the Cambridge Evening News), died recently according to his former employers. Todd was well known for his drawings of sports team in addition to his caricature work, and spent his retirement as a painter.
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Conrad Botes Mini-Gallery

posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink

Preiss Businesses File for Bankruptcy

Great catch by Heidi MacDonald to note that Ibooks Inc. and Byron Preiss Visual Publications filed for bankruptcy yesterday. The late Byron Preiss, a key figure in the development of the graphic novel, owned both business. He died after an auto accident last July.
posted 1:44 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Local Comics Writer Profile: John Hitchcock
Comics Show Makes Pitch to Uncaring Maltese
Not Comics: Marvel's DVD Financial Model
Queer Culture in Comics at Cartoon Art Museum
Alaskans Happy to See Themselves in Comic

February 22, 2006

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* Very little in the way of demonstrations, with this one in India being the sole protest worthy of front-page search-engine status. The demonstrations over the last three weeks, an accompanying boycott, and a worldwide bodycount in the upper two figure range, can be traced back to the publication of 12 cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (timeline, cartoons).

* Speaking of India, their courts seem to be where all the action is this week. Yesterday a court called for the death of the cartoonists. Today, this. Russian prosecutors will take a peek at Chechen actions a couple of weeks back.

* A second newspaper in Russia has closed because of publishing the cartoons.

* In nerd-fatwa news, apparently no web site is safe in this hostile, post-Jyllands-Posten world. The thing I like about this story is how exact these numbers are. If I get shut down, is there someone I'm supposed to immediately e-mail?

* In political news, the Danish ambassador has returned to Jakarta. Danish non-governmental folk and relief aid workers are leaving Pakistan. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen asks everyone to re-cast the whole issue according to its wider implications, and no thank you to any inquiries.

* Someone asked me this morning if I've changed my mind from my initial, personal take on the whole matter. No, not yet.

* Christopher Hitchens takes on the subject one more time, with a call for a pro-Denmark rally. Daniel Pipes talks about his own involvement, which he says he found out about mostly by reading web sites.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Javier Olivares

posted 12:44 am PST | Permalink

Thevenet’s FIBD Departure Confirmed

The story is pretty much as described in European sources yesterday -- the director of Europe's biggest festival, the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee at Angouleme will depart after taking another position in a city's art festival -- only now Thevenet has himself confirmed the tale to the French-language press. As pointed out yesterday by people smarter and better informed than I am, Thevenet claims he was only a consultant, so a court case for wrongful termination is possible.
posted 12:17 am PST | Permalink

February 21, 2006

DC’s New Status Quo Unfolds

Newsarama will be running previews of DC's line of comic book (first one here) as their storylines and titles are reconfigured after this latest in series of big cosmic event and everything-will-change mini-series stretching back to something called Identity Crisis, which featured the murder of one superhero's wife by another superhero's wife and Superman doing his Iron Eyes Cody impersonation.

I don't generally follow content-driven mainstream comics stories, but I think these are slightly more important than the usual series of previews in that their success or lack thereof will help shape the market for the next few years. My thinking is that DC's line relaunch needs to enjoy some level of increased success from the way things were before the various stunt mini-series, or DC will be compelled by their desire to consistently win -- or at least strongly compete -- in market share and consumer perception battles to launch into another round of these line-wide "events." This hastens market exhaustion through a variety of factors: the diminishing creative returns that come with doing anything a bunch of times in a row, the tendency to overtax the budgets the wallets of comic shop owners, and by making increasingly impenetrable, labyrinthian plotlines that fewer and fewer readers care to dig into.

One thing in their favor is that DC seems to be throwing a lot of top talent at a lot of books -- Grant Morrison! Paul Dini! James Robinson! -- with a general editorial strategy of "give it your best shot and go." My hunch is that some of DC's recent displayed ability to pursue multiple publishing strategies so that the market's natural skepticism fails to gain traction and push back can work for runs on titles the same way it does with multiple series; DC had some success with spotlighting "runs" on titles as gotta-buy-its right before they went to cosmic event party planning mode.

Still, I'm skeptical that DC can infuse a whole line of books with an amount of energy equal to that generated by a focus on a handful of mini-series or runs. The infrastructure's still the same, too. The direct market has been losing coverage in a geographical sense for years now, with mainstream-focused shops still winking out of existence now and then in the face of e-bay and mail order. This and the closed-shop basis of some mainstream storylines makes bringing in a lot of new readers difficult. Comic shop owners have to ride such a prideful avalanche of material that ordering tends to be by necessity conservative and slow-building on "regular" titles even in the best of times. This makes me think there will be a show-me attitude regarding the line recalibration that may deny many titles the market momentum to build bigger audiences. I'm also not convinced a big chunk of the fanbase, primed for years to divide money between their selected favorites among the regular titles while extending their wallets to a few temporary must-haves with industry-wide "buzz," has it in them to suddenly divert that energy and capital to a wider variety of titles, particularly when others are going to play the event card for a while longer now.

My gut feeling says DC will find re-setting the multiverse a lot easier than adjusting the market in its wake; we'll see how it goes.
posted 11:13 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Joanna Estep Discusses Timing at Newsarama
James Jean Wins the Gold! (Sort of)
Go, Read: Paul Pope on Batman Year 100
Steve Bissette on Public Radio

Must-Read: Ali Dilem Interview

imageAs a general rule I try not to appropriate other people's photographs, but I really liked the picture at left as illustration in a lengthy interview with the Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem. Seeing a guy in a sweater and a Yankees cap in the midst of holding forth makes it a bit more difficult to dismiss these overseas cartoon-related press and free-speech controversies as something impossibly foreign, or, more insidiously, as a natural and to-be-expected part of a different way of life. He looks like any cartoonist speaking on a convention panel, and in the most important ways, Dilem is "any cartoonist."

Dilem talks about a variety of issues in this interview, from the cartoon that recently earned him a one-year jail term, to the one that earned him death-threats from various religious communities, to the ongoing Danish Cartoons crisis. I don't agree with everything he says, but Dilem displays some skill at cutting to the heart of a matter, like when he notes the distinction between being provocative and providing education through illustration, and when he points out the bottom-line absurdity of prohibiting non-Muslims to draw Muhammed by comparing it to restrictions on non-Muslims so that they're held to Muslim culinary rules. I think Ali Dilem is one of the most important cartoonists in the world right now, and an interview like this is a gift.
posted 12:23 am PST | Permalink

February 20, 2006

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* It seems as if after a horrible weekend of deaths and general mayhem, Monday was light on the protests and heavy on the political repurcussion articles. the only demonstration I'm finding is less than 100 people in Iran. Although small, those that showed up did seemingly pick up their copy of "Protest in a Box" beforehand, bearing "We Hate Denmark" signs and blaming Jewish people for being the cause behind the cause.

* Perhaps the loopiest development was a court in India calling for the death of the cartoonists responsible for the original Muhammed cartoons in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, to which the last couple of weeks of rioting and political turmoil can be traced (timeline; original cartoons).

* The economic repurcussions continue to peel back revealing new skin, with approximately $20 million (USD) lost to Danish poster-business -- and the only reason I've ever typed "dairy giant" -- Arla Foods. Here's a more general wire article on the economic cost.

* The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has provided another round-up of links from their perspective, which includes a greater focus on wider editorial cartooning issues and vocational concerns. Included is a rumor that the Village Voice is considering getting out of the cartoon business altogether, which, despite suspecting that has only a very slight connection to the Danish Cartoons Controversy, I could comment upon more effectively if I'd seen a Voice since Jules Feiffer left.

* Jacob Mercy's cartoon on the matter is making the linkblogging rounds.

* It looks like Danish politicians have decided not to wait until after the protests are over to begin the process of assigning -- or avoiding -- blame.

* The Indianapolis Star surveyed all the editors at major college newspapers in the Hoosier state about publishing the Muhammed cartoons, providing a pretty fair snapshot of the variety of opinions college editors have on the subject. They also mention the University of Illinois incident, which is a complete and total morass that may be directly or only tangentially related to the publishing of Muhammed cartoons.

* If you're like me, there's been one and only one question at the back of your mind since this entire thing began: What does the Mallard Fillmore guy think about this?
posted 11:22 pm PST | Permalink

Missed It: Cabanon Press Art Show


There's a nice mini-profile of Tom Gauld if you scroll down in the article you reach by clicking through the picture above.
posted 11:15 pm PST | Permalink

Giovanni Gandini, 1929-2006

imageGiovanni Gandini, founder of the seminal comics magazine Linus, died on the 17th and was buried in his hometown of Milan yesterday, according to He was 77 years old. Linus debuted in 1965 and according to this remembrance by Ferruccio Alessandri, the enterprise took up various rooms of Gandini's apartment and no one thought it would last. Linus may have been the first comics anthology for discriminating, medium-of-comics-fan grown-ups, the first assembled from various sources that showed a guiding hand dedicated to comics as an art form. The early issues featured a mix of then-modern strips like Peanuts and Wizard of Id, but also older strips like Barnaby and Krazy Kat, and offbeat but decidedly sophisticated work like Feiffer. Among its wide-ranging offerings, Linus would embrace the work of Ralph Steadman, Robert Crumb's Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural, Jean-Claude Forest's Barbarella, Hugo Pratt's major series, Claire Bretecher's vital satires, on down through the years to Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes and Mutts.
posted 10:50 pm PST | Permalink

JM Thevenet Out at Angouleme? has a report on behind the scenes board tensions with the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee, better known by its location: the Angouleme Festival, or simply Angouleme. Although the article's in French, it seems what's essentially happened is that JM Thevenet has looked into a city festival positiion causing at least one other board member to declare himself a candidate for Thevenet's replacement. More than any of the details, which I may have wrong, I just sort of like that this kind of thing is actually news.

Francois Peneaud writes in to correct me:
Just saw your post about Thevenet.

First thing: only the photo is by Didier Pasamonik, the text is unsigned [CR: now corrected]. We've got a more detailed article at actuabd, by Didier, this time:

What happened is that Thévenet was seemingly also involved in a contemporary art biennale in another town, and the Angoulême board fired him. Thévenet says he was only a consultant, so things will probably go to court.

It seems, as you said, that there's a candidate to replace him, but it's far from done.

Thanks, Francois!
posted 10:33 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
More Nilsen-Harkham-Huizenga Signing Photos
NYT Balance: Marvel Gets Its Own Puff Piece
Dylan Horrocks on DC's Recruitment Ads
Ruminations on Convention of Pork
Michael Leunig's Publisher Demands Apology
Columnist on Superhero/Real World Encroachment

February 19, 2006

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* A horrible weekend. Up to 45 dead in Nigeria, although the number 16 appears in a lot of reports as well. Eleven dead in Libya. Three children and a priest may have been among the dead in Nigeria. Indonesia continues to be a hotspot on Monday; earlier in the weekend Indonesian protesters attacked the US embassy. For now, Pakistan is having none of it.

* I can't tell if clerics keep offering seven-figure bounties, or if the same one gets reported over and over. Let's hope for the option that makes it less likely some dingus will take them up on it. This guy has no regrets, but it sounds like he wouldn't mind if someone would stop by the store for him.

* This violence can be traced back to the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Once again, we refer latecomers or those in need of freshening up to this timeline. The original cartoons can be found here.

* Danish businesses had reprinted an earlier apology from Jyllands-Posten in a number of media outlets in protest areas, to little effect.

* Did I link to this yet? Some sites are being exposed, discussed, discredited and discarded before I see them a first time. Hopefully, this isn't one of them because the sentiment is lovely.

* Objections to the decision to publish the cartoons in the U.S. reaches close to home. My home here in New Mexico, anyway. A Russian paper closed over republishing the cartoons.

* Wondering what was going on in Canada about the issue? Me, neither! My, what lousy attitudes we have. But as it's all in one place and most of it is very interesting, we have no excuse not to do some learning. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, the story lurches sideways in a sad but slightly amusing way.

* Joe Sacco and Art Spiegelman were interviewed by The Nation. Colleen Doran is extending a sketch offer at this weekend's New York Comic-Con in support of Denmark; this Warren Ellis posting on Doran's offer is also worth it for the cane-shot to the jaw Ellis delivers on some guy in the comments. I've been tipped that American cartoonist Tim Kreider of The Pain plans on entering a contest run by an Iranian paper to feature Holocaust cartoons, announced earlier this month in what has to be the first time newspapers have participated in a kind of publishing dozens. Kreider usually updates on Monday, so there's even a chance his entry will show up soon.
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Dylan Horrocks Interview

posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

January Sales Up in Direct Market has provided their dependable, lovely array of charts and concise articles regarding sales of comic book periodicals and graphic novels in North American comic book shops, this time for the month of January.

Top 300 Comics
Top 100 Graphic Novel Chart

Even in a month when top comics dropped but overall comics gained -- in both units sold and dollars earned -- it's still interesting to look at the comics sales levels and how quickly they drop off.

How Many Comics Sell X Much?
(January '02, '03, '04, '05, '06)

More than 150,000 -- 3, 0, 0, 1, 1
More than 125,000 -- 4, 0, 1, 1, 1
More than 100,000 -- 7, 2, 5, 3, 3
More than 90,000 -- 9, 6, 8, 4, 4
More than 80,000 -- 9, 10, 12, 8, 6
More than 70,000 -- 14, 10, 13, 12, 15
More than 60,000 -- 15, 16, 15, 18, 21
More than 50,000 -- 17, 22, 23, 21, 27
More than 25,000 -- 79, 65, 76, 73, 75
More than 10,000 -- 153, 156, 138, 130, 148
More than 5,000 -- 189, 195, 170, 171, 185

Of course, I have no idea what any of that means.
posted 9:30 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Interview with Ivan Brunetti

posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Box Format Explained, Signing Report

This site received two great letters over the weekend that are better reads than anything we'll write this morning.

* In yesterday's "CR Sunday Magazine," I asked about the origin of a certain Marvel cover format, where the art was contained within a box over which the logo and under which a tag phrase appeared against a solid background. My hunch was that it was a John Romita-led art direction touch that artists supported because it meant less actual art work had to be created. Never let me tell you how to bet in Vegas. Mark Evanier gives an authoritative answer that's much more interesting than anything I came up with.

In case you weren't aware -- and I realize it's a long, long shot -- Mark Evanier's remains to my mind the most powerful blog (in terms of reach + effective writing + influential readers) devoted in some significant way to comics issues. It's the only blog where if you're lucky to be linked you get a flood of traffic and e-mails from friends impressed that you rated a mention. So hopefully it's a part of your on-line reading routine.

* Charles Orr sends a nice report on Saturday night's signing party by Mssrs. Harkham, Nilsen and Huizenga at Brooklyn's Rocketship store, with a nice observation about how clean these artists' original art is (and an explanation as to why that is). If you look at older strip art, it's amazing how much of the best-crafted stuff is without correction, too. If you get back to a certain point, you have to look for rub-outs instead of white-outs, of course.

Thank you, Mark. Thank you, Charles.

Bonus: BeaucoupKevin has photos up from the signing.
posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Ralph Reed’s Rapture

posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink

Confluence of Cartoonist-Plus Articles

This may only interest me, but I noticed a few things about cartoonists who have enjoyed success going down different or multiple career paths: a profile of the musician Daniel Johnston, whose art will be a big part of his forthcoming biopic; Glasgow-based theater director Andy Arnold, whose approach to space I would say might still reflect a cartoonist's tendency to divide a greater whole; and Daniel Clowes, who now must suffer the occasional mewling over his selling out for having a screenwriting career.
posted 7:45 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Mark Newgarden Interview

posted 7:30 pm PST | Permalink

2006 Shuster Award Nominees

imageYour Shuster Award Nominees, 2006 -- with the Doug Wright Awards, the Shusters are part of a recent surge in awards spotlight Canadian comics creators:

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer
RAY FAWKES (with Hans Rodionoff - USA)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artist

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Publisher

Outstanding International Comic Book Creator
(Write-in Category)

Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer
(To Be Awarded by Committee)

Voting begins March 4 and ends April 7. Information on how to vote, the credits involved with each nominee and the downloadable Kremer Award nomination form are all available by clicking through the poster image.
posted 7:15 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Stan Lee Not a Legend But a Living Legend
Mysterious Comics Ad of the Week (Thanks, Egon!)
Richard Pachter on Bob Andelman's Eisner Bio
Brad Mackay Launches New Web Site
Local Cartoonist Profile: Graham Nolan

February 18, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Preview: Crickets #1, Sammy Harkham


I Totally Want to See This


Sunday Distractions

* Neil Gaiman talking about the Absolute Sandman series and basic strategies surrounding those volumes' treatment of the material
* Gene Kannenberg Jr. making a list of comics-related items on a British TV show
* Larry Young at The Engine talking about pitching
* Heidi MacDonald telling you why you didn't get a room in San Diego
* Evan Dorkin and Warren Ellis discussing the demise of Deadline

That Weird Box


I'm a fan of Bill Everett, the creator of the Sub-Mariner and an all-around uniquely odd voice in comics history. I'm particularly fond of his return to the 1968 series iteration of the character he created. By that time Everett had developed this really pretty, high-energy style that looked totally out of place in the now John Buscema-led Marvel art assault. Everett also employed some of the weirdest catchphrases ever, like "Sufferin' Shad," and "Off with thy piscatroid pate." Also, since the Sub-Mariner had this undersea-kingdom aspect to it, half of the hero's fights were with bad guys with non-descriptive names that didn't exactly rock one's young imagination, like "Byrrah" there. I can't imagine much of any of it got over with the very somber, anal-retentive Marvel fan of the 1970s.

Despite well-regarded mini-runs by Buscema and then later Gene Colan, the 1968-starting Sub-Mariner series in general was a total backwater of early 1970s Marvel comics, using characters and situations that rarely if ever repeated themselves in Marvel comics of the 1980s and 1990s. In fact many of the series' plot developments are absent from later efforts starring the lead character himself. And yet, a lot of those comics still have that nice balance and tone that Marvel's output of that period offered, the doesn't-give-a-shit logic of having Dr. Doom show up at someone's apartment to beat them up, or a World War II bad guy employing an island of Japanese soldiers in short-shorts. They have a definite oddball charm.

Anyway, my real reason for posting the above is I wondered if anyone out there knew about the particular cover design element on display, the small box thing that Marvel did for a while where the title and subtitle were against sold backgrounds rather than just dead spaces in art. Was that a Romita-ism? Did Marvel do this in the '60s, too? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

that looks like slightly hurried Gil Kane art on the cover, incidentally; it's not Bill Everett

Missed It: New Kings In Disguise


I somehow missed word of a new edition of Kings In Disguise, a seminal graphic novel from the 1980s by James Vance and Dan Burr (WW Norton, 208 pages, paperback, April, 0393328481). What I remember most about the series and resulting book is that it really put a lie to a strange myth of the time period in which it originally appeared, that the only possible way to see serious comics work of a certain type was to expect it from artist/writers, when all it really takes is any individual or combination of individuals willing to apply themselves in that direction. I look forward to re-reading it.

Initial Thought of the Day

Last night I had a nightmare that I was so stressed by deadlines I spent a chunk of time last week writing Captain America movie pitch fan fiction. And then I woke up... and it was true!
posted 11:40 pm PST | Permalink

February 17, 2006

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, February 11 to February 17, 2006.

1. More deaths, protests, boycotts and overall good times in Europe, Africa and Asia continue, as major international problems stemming from the publication last Fall of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten move into a third week. Also, the North American round-up of papers is in that published any of the cartoons and the final tally is extremely low. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday.

2. Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem is sentenced to one year in jail for drawing cartoons of his country's president.

3. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's case against a magazine for publishing satirical cartoons is thrown out of court.

Winners of the Week
The courts in Turkey, for their second decision in a row supporting an artist's right to satirize public figures.

Losers of the Week
The courts in Algeria, which keep sentencing artists and editors for what many countries see as fundamental rights to free expression.

Quote of the Week
"After doing embarrassing amounts of preparation, I totally forgot to call the Nerd Prom reservation line at the crack of dawn this morning."
-- Kelly Sue DeConnick, in a fine, summary statement on this month's industry irritant, getting one of the con-discounted rooms for this summer's San Diego Con.

a cartoon by Ali Dilem
posted 11:27 pm PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Excellent Pieces of Critical Writing on Comics."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 24th.
posted 11:09 pm PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Angry Youth Comics #10
Charlton Spotlight #4
Maybe Later
Noble Causes Volume 5: Betrayals
There's No Time Like The Present #1-4
posted 10:58 pm PST | Permalink

Ali Dilem Sentenced to One Year

One February 11, the Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay an approximately $950 (USD) fine. This was a result of drawing a dozen cartoons featuring Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the paper Liberte in 2003. The action was immediately censured by the group Reporters Without Borders. The charge was insulting and defaming the president. Dilem has been sentenced before, the article says he now sports a sentence total of nine years in prison. Another Dilem case was heard in court yesterday, which could add additional months to his prison stay.

The report also mentions that two editors will go on trial for reprinting the Danish Muhammed cartoons.
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink

February 16, 2006

OTBP: On Stage To Be Collected


One of the great joys of this recent surge in comics publishing has been small publishers trying out comic strip collections that are worthy efforts but don't have the broad appeal for a big publisher to get behind them. Leonard Starr's On Stage is one of the snappier-looking strips ever, and reasonably well-written to boot. I also found this Leonard Starr web site, which I liked exploring quite a bit.
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* Yale explores root causes, or how the publication of a dozen cartoons featuring Muhammed in a Danish newspaper led to multiple deaths and worldwide protests.

* The only place I can find protests happening yesterday is in Pakistan.

* Although the above did get into financial matters a bit, here's a better piece on the status of various boycotts, which mentions that in addition to simply losing money directly, trade ties are being damaged that will cost additional millions to repair.

* One of the first articles we linked to was a Tim Cavanaugh essay suggesting that the discussion in many circles could end up an overall good. It looks like some days later Danish moderates agree with him.

* Dimona Comix publisher Amitai Sandy has entered into the cultural discussion through the sense-of-humor door by sponsoring an anti-Semitic cartoon contest targeted towards Jewish entrants. You have to love any press release with quotes like, "'We'll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!' said Sandy 'No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!'"

* Much less funny is a prank played on Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig regarding the aforementioned Iranian contest.

* The goofiest Danish Cartoon comparisons I've heard thus far have both come from sportswriters. Some guy last week on a TV show I was watching said something like "that's like electing Randy Moss the president of Denmark and expecting him to take care of the cartoon problem." And another guy called news of Wayne Gretzky being somewhat near a gambling ring "the Danish cartoon of Canadian sport." Not exactly "Brokeback Mountain" saturation, but this story can officially please go away now.

* The writer Peter David comments on the matter. If you go to the comments area, I recommend some Persian food.
posted 10:45 pm PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Spumco Library


This morning I received three e-mails pointing me in the direction of this picture of a bunch of John Kricfalusi's unused (?) characters assembled together, but no one told me what it was, exactly. Or where they got it -- so apologies if someone linked this up. There's some really nice design work here, though.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: ‘05 Dave Cooper Exhibit


Chris Pitzer found this gallery from last year's Dave Cooper show at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, and they sure are pretty. Click through the image for a ton of art.
posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

Eisner Award Archives to VCU

I wasn't even aware there was an Eisner Award archives, but the material in that collection will go to the holdings at the James Branch Cabell library at Virginia Commonwealth University. There's also a nice general description of the current VCU holdings, although not much in the way of what specifically the Eisner Archives will add to that -- I would guess several years of modern books.
posted 9:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Another Article on Korean Comics Sharing
German Cartoonist Receives Death Threats
Chicago Area Artists Like The Manga
Nick Anderson Starts Up in Houston
People Still See Comic Books This Narrowly
Will Eisner Reviewed

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* It's relatively quiet today after some two weeks of international protests traceable back to cartoons depicting Muhammed in a Danish newspaper. That Indonesian boycott story is still up top and that's 24 hours old. So cross your fingers.

* Mea gulp-a department: yesterday I linked to something from a site that could have the alternate name "" regarding that fine country insitituting a blasphemy law. This article has a more accurate picture. Thanks to Tor Ivar Bjonness for the catch.

* Jyllands-Posten editor Flemming Rose restates his case that the original cartoons were there to foster dialogue. Considering the tenor of the "dialogue" as it's developed, one imagines Rose might apply the same argument to Moe slapping Larry in the back of the head. Tracking down the other vocal J-P editor, one finds Carsten Juste arguing forcefully that the worldwide media was exposed through its special treatment of Muslim opponents of the cartoons.

* Art Spiegelman was interviewed on the general subject.

* There are few articles still out there about the mini-crisis of conscience in American newspaper editorial meetings about whether to publish or not. The best one is something at Editors Weblog that tracks among other things the number of newspaper editors outside of Europe that published the cartoons, a group about the size of a slightly bigger than average Mark Evanier-moderated panel at the San Diego Con. Other articles include a Rockford, Illinois paper explaining why they didn't publish. The Detroit Free Press reminds its readers of the potential wider agendas involved. A Charlotte paper goes wider, too, but with context and not agenda through a look at various depictions throughout history, and student newspapers make a special case for publishing the cartoons based on their niche role.

* Danish troops are still welcome in Iraq. There was some doubt.

* Even the birds are pissed at Denmark. Okay, not really. Good to see something make google's front page for "Danish" that's not a protest or boycott, even if it is death from the skies.

* Comic Book Bin weighs in with a feature article.
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: LA CityBeat’s Comics Issue

posted 3:43 am PST | Permalink

Erdogan Loses Again in Court

Here's a protest that seems to have worked. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's claim for approximately $30,000 USD in compensation against the magazine Penguen for cartoons depicting him as various animals was tossed out of court Tuesday. Penguen had put the feature together to protest a fine against a political cartoonist -- I think Musa Kart, but I'm unable to find it for some reason -- who had portrayed the PM as a cat. The story has been a big deal because Erdogan's efforts were criticized by some as evidence that Turkey was not ready to join the European Union and its members more liberal press policies, although it's interesting how that's been tested the last few weeks.
posted 3:30 am PST | Permalink

It’s Raining Formats

Is it just me, or are we being assaulted by a variety of periodical formats right now?

image1. The Ignatz -- An oversized color book without a spine, like Ganges and Chimera, somewhere between a comic book and a graphic novel, with the modest length being offset by the high production values and focus on high-quality artists.
2. The Louis Riel -- A smaller than usual comic book, kind of like the Black Eye comics right before they collapsed, with nice cover stock and a somewhat less nice paper stock (it's varied). I think the Yummy Fur reprints are in this format, and a couple of the AdHouse one-shots like Mort Grim probably go here, too.
3. The Fell -- A standard comic book priced at $1.99, with fewer pages offset by a focus on denser storytelling techniques and supplementary material. The current example is the Ellis/Templesmith comic book Fell, with at least one more (Casanova) on the way.
4. The Petit Livre -- a smaller than usual color book, almost mini-mangaish, with an emphasis on art, like D&Q's new Bacter-Area that looks like it may be supported in part by an arts grant, which I'm guessing would lead to a Canadian focus.

I like all of these formats, honestly, roughly in that order, and think they all have a use. Interestingly, these newer formats seem designed on some level to straddle what comics usually casts as two competing concepts. One the one hand, they embody an outreach principle in trying to find a way to package comics story in a way that's uniquely appealing and appropriate to the material -- making the comic easier to carry and hold, or making the object more beautiful. On the other, these not trade formats, so they would seem designed to be sold by a specialty retailer, whether a bookstore that takes the time to do this or a comics shop that doesn't complain when something isn't sized like the standard issue of Uncanny X-Men. What I hope is that each format continues long enough to become less of an aberration -- there aren't many comics artists past Chris Ware that have really rewarded readers with changing formats every issue of their serialized work -- and more of an alternative.

Anyway, Chris Arrant takes a longer look at the Fell format in a piece at Newsarama that's worth your reading energies.

I'd love to hear from someone else on the subject. Am I forgetting a format? Is this all a delayed reaction to manga? Do you think one has a greater chance to succeed than the others? Less of a chance? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 2:29 am PST | Permalink

Bennett at AAEC: Jobs in Spotlight

Clay Bennett has written a letter from the president at the site of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Despite the recent international news surrounding cartoons and a domestic news story about a Tom Toles story being criticized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Bennett's focus remains on the diminishing economic prospects faced by those in the profession, from the loss of salaried positions to the struggle of trying to keep one's career alive using the Internet. It's an interesting and I'd say pretty clear take on the problems facing that group of cartoonists.
posted 12:25 am PST | Permalink

Justin Thompson Wins Unfit Gig

imageThe slightly strange, open-call contest to find a new artist for the health club comic strip Unfit has ended with Justin Thompson declared the winner. A couple of Thompson's try-out strips, and those of some of his competitors, can be seen at the top of the page here. Scott Adams has been hosting the contest on his blog for Unfit's creator Mike Belkin, although many readers just assume Belkin is Scott Adams rather than a protege. Adams goes into pretty solid detail in that blog entry announcing the winner, noting things like United Media sales people having Thompson as one of their top choices as well, and that large numbers of people will likely hate the change. As I recall, Unfit appears in a modest number of papers.
posted 12:17 am PST | Permalink

Ack! Cathy, Dilbert Strips for USPS

These will be monthly comics, with the Cathy ones aimed at consumer issues and the Dilbert ones aimed at business. Between this and the Patterson Family investment advice cartoons in the news last month, it seems like there could be a slight rise in targeted marketing with comic strips. Or it's just a weird two months, I don't know.
posted 12:10 am PST | Permalink

February 15, 2006

Quick hits
(Formerly) Local Cartoonist Profile: Zack Soto
Webcomics as a Musical Artist Strategy
Cutting Heads Buttresses Failing Comics Sales
Recent Stories Embolden US Cartoonists
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Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* The protests have officially turned nerd.

* The top political story in today's twists and turns regarding protests that can be traced to last Fall's publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed: Norway criminalizes blasphemy. Iran rejects the blame of Condoleeza Rice and others that they acted to fan the flames of controversy about the cartoons for political advantage. Some Danish politicians are calling for a closer look at those muslims believed to have agitated for reaction abroad. Here's a short piece about the effect of the whole disastrous affair on Denmark's in-border politics.

* In protest and violence news, Pakistan erupted in violence yesterday continuing through today, with a focus on western fast-food establishment and an end result of at least another three dead. Hamed Karzi urges Afghanis to stop violently protesting and using extreme; the article includes a summary of the protests in that country thus far.

* Among those few US outlets publishing the original cartoons add a North Carolina student paper, Spare Change and Harvard's Salient. Two students at the University of Illinois-Urbana are suspended for publishing the cartoons in a student newspaper.

* In an American comic book industry development -- maybe the first -- Chuck Rozanski's Mile High Comics newsletter contained an offer to send some donations to the CBLDF for a period, related to an incident regarding a pair of his customers.
As a direct result of my public stand in support of the free speech rights of the Danish cartoonists, I've had at least two long time Muslim customers of Mile High Comics choose to terminate their relationship with us. My assumption is that those two letters are just the tip of the iceberg, with the overall loss to our business being significantly greater. While I am sympathetic to the anger of the Muslims, I find it sad that even some people in the comics world are willing to support censorship when it interferes with a cherished personal belief. As I express rather clearly in my letter of response, however, I took a possible boycott by our Muslim customers into account when I wrote those columns in favor of free speech. That having been said, the individuals who wrote to me are clearly trying to punish me economically for expressing an opinion with which they disagree. That creates a unique opportunity for you to counterbalance their economic boycott of Mile High Comics by sending us an order. In effect, voting with your wallet for free speech. If you'll mention in the "comments" section of your order that you're placing your order in support of free speech, I'll go ahead and forward 10% the gross proceeds of your order to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. In all honesty, our business is actually rather good right now, so the actual economic impact on us of this Muslim boycott is probably going to be rather nominal. On the flip side, however, I'm always eager to find reasons to support the CBLDF, and what better time for fundraising than when someone is trying to punish me for speaking out in defense of others? Any help and support you could provide would be most appreciated...

* Readers at vote on the matter. Atlantic On-Line weighs in.

* I missed Chip Bok being protested for his cartoon.

* Indonesian trade groups join those boycotting Danish goods.

* We're at the point in this story where you kind of have to stand out to be noticed, like this Catholic priest who condemns the original cartoons.

* Least appetizing food name ever.
posted 6:59 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Rudy Flores Site


This appears to be part of the Komikero Comics on-line empire, which also features this blog, by far my favorite on-line resource about a comics "scene," even if it's a national one. Great focus, lots of art, and engaging diary-style prose.

(You know, I might have linked to the above on a Sunday once. Luckily, any encroaching senility on my part will certainly make this blog easier to do.)
posted 5:13 am PST | Permalink

Batman + Osama = Perfect PR Storm

I linked to it Monday without saying what it was, exactly, but apparently Frank Miller is going to do a comic book where Batman fights al-Qaeda terrorists, in the spirit of World War II-era superheroes socking Adolf Hitler on the jaw. This has led to a lot of coverage in a lot of places, mostly feature articles and recognition from blogs. It should sell a billion copies.
posted 3:24 am PST | Permalink

Three Arrested for Uploading Manga

Brigid Alverson sent me word of a story she's tracking on her MangaBlog, about an Internet cafe owner in Tokyo and two others being arrested for uploading manga without the permission of publishers. The idea was to pay the licensing fee later, and they had already started collecting money. A number of devoted manga fans worldwide make use of technically illegal downloads, which many feel are justified or at least should not be quashed as they provide an overall benefit by acting as viral marketing that eventually brings money back to the publishers and producers. In fact, the issue is argued so passionately in some circles I've probably popped a vein on someone's forehead just by writing the previous sentence in my relatively clumsy, manga-uninformed fashion. Anyway, digging around you're bound to find elements of that wider discussion.
posted 12:25 am PST | Permalink

JD Crowe Katrina Cartoons a Book


The Mobile Register and their cartoonist J.D. Crowe will release a book of Hurricane Katrina-related cartoons, with proceeds going to charity. I think this is likely to be how a lot of editorial cartoonists get published in the years ahead -- very specific volumes for very specific purposes, from smaller or specialty presses.
posted 12:22 am PST | Permalink

Brummet Echohawk, 1922-2006

The Pawnee elder and one-time cartoonist Brummet Echohawk passed away on February 13 of natural causes. Echohawk was an actor, author, painter, and cartoonist. He appeared as an artist on local television kids show, and for a time worked as both a newspaper illustrator and provided a comic, "Little Chief," to the Tulsa World. Echohawk's comics work appeared in a Frye Museum (Seattle) exhibit in 2001. He was 83 years old.
posted 12:10 am PST | Permalink

February 14, 2006

Quick hits
Bad Customer Service Crosses All Borders
Here, Comics Fight AIDS By Making Abstinence More Likely
Cruse Doing Young Bottoms in Love Final Chapter
Profile of Illustration Magazine
Bob Hall and Paul Fell Lecture Report
Profile of Joe Kubert School

Nothin’s the Matter Escept I Loves Ya

posted 2:56 am PST | Permalink

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* I'll stop writing when they stop rioting. Cheekiness aside, more deaths reported this morning.

* The top political story today -- all related back to the publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten last Fall, is likely to be calls from Basra for Danish troops to be removed from Iraq. Unsurprisingly, the Danes say, "No."

* In the cartoonists making commentary section, I missed out on this longer profile of Khalil Bendib and his views on the matter.

* There are several articles I've missed on the journalistic treatment of both the issue and the cartoons: Wisconsin newspapers editors debate the issue, Poynter's on-line resources page on the story, a British magazine avoids publishing a related cartoon out of fear, and a survey of cartoonist by Reuters indicates that editorial cartoonists prefer to go back to being anonymous, thank you.

* Well, this certainly sounds like a bad idea. So does this.

* Bad! Bad institutionalized national celebrity!

* As predicted, the journalistic stunt at the start of it all ends up bringing in the issue of national intolerance, which can't be where the newspaper editors wanted to go.

* Put it behind us? Yes. Please. Let's. The quicker the better.
posted 2:33 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: The Wonder, Volume 1


It looks like the Chicago-based artist, actor and poet Tony Fitzpatrick put out a book late last year featuring a recent series of portraits: The Wonder: Portraits of a Remembered City, Volume 1. Fitzpatrick places a lot of narrative elements directly onto his works, and connects multiple paintings in a way that makes them broader portraits of neighborhoods, relationships and cities. He has his latest series up on the web site now, too.
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

Illinois Paper Offers Webcomics Page

Lots of newspapers have on-line comics pages; this report discusses the first one of which I'm aware that's built one out of webcomics.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Tim Biskup

posted 2:03 am PST | Permalink

Rall Mulls Suit Over Holocaust Crack

I find this story so odd on so many levels I'm not even sure I should be linking to it, but I guess Ted Rall is considering suing some person named Ann Coulter over a crack that Rall, Trudeau and the New York Times are the only people to thus far enter an Iranian contest for Holocaust cartoons. No word yet on whether Ann Coulter is considering a similar lawsuit against her joke writers.

According to the article, Rall will sue if he can raise enough money to file, which makes me think there's an ABC television show to be made where a team of bright, huggable people drive around in a winnebago and give people who don't have it the money to file lawsuits. You could see them cry and say things like, "I can finally make my ex-wife's life a living hell" while high-fiving local litigators as a John Mayer song plays.
posted 12:32 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Blutch Site

posted 12:18 am PST | Permalink

February 13, 2006

Quick hits
Can Hardly Wait for the Crossover With Steel
Rene Petillon's Comic Wins Muslim Praise
Graphic Novels As Explained by Calcutta Student
Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards Results
I Still Find This Kind of Thing Fascinating

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* I know, I know. I tried to find another comics-related story that had the United States Secretary of State hitting the Sunday morning talk shows giving dire warnings about the potential for increased violence worldwide, but I came up short. So you're stuck with at least a few more days of link-blogging on perhaps the biggest cartoon-related story of all time.

* If you're trying to jumpstart your memory, hoping to catch up, or diving into the story of protests traced back to the publication by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed for the first time, you might try this CBC timeline of events. CNN has done .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) throughout.

*The top political story sees Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen meeting with moderate Muslim leaders in his own country, which is probably the most positive story to appear near the top of one of these updates. Although when your second graph has the phrase "graves desecrated," there's obviously still some work to do. Here's a full story on that charming development. This after the country recalled diplomats from Syria, Iran and Indonesia. This apparently irritated Idonesia.

* Here's a nice summary article on the economic losses thus far caused by boycotts of Danish goods.

image* I'm just now catching up to this Ted Rall cartoon on the subject. Editor & Publisher has a round-up of syndicated columnists. Sequential has a Canadian editorial cartoonist response. This blog seems to have devoted a lot of its recent coverage to the ongoing story. iFilm has an Iranian TV broadcast on the matter.

* In the "How did it come to this again?" file, this New Zealand newspaper article sent to me by Dylan Horrocks is the best I've seen so far as to how the agitation of Danish imams could become an explosive international series of incidents -- via a summit in Mecca. Comics blogging sensei Dirk Deppey at brings our attention to this cool, almost Encyclopedia Brown-style investigation into calligraphy techniques of one of the three non-Jyllands-Posten cartoons making the rounds.

* I didn't know that the Associated Press refused to make the cartoons available to its subscribers, probably the most distressing news yet to come out of North American newspaper's general avoidance of the issue. My new favorite editor Don Holland blasts the AP for taking the decision out of their clients' hands.

* Again, if you haven't seen the original cartoons, they can be found here or here. The ones in the original group -- not the group of three that showed up later that are under attack as fakes -- that seem to get the most criticism are "bomb as turban" and "virgins joke."
posted 3:41 am PST | Permalink

WonderCon is a Wrap


Maybe North America's only remaining mid-major, old-fashioned comic book convention, San Francisco's WonderCon, has come and gone over the weekend just past, showing the con gods picked the correct coast on the correct weekend to kick off the 2006 convention season.

Newsarama covered the bahooliosis out of the show's various publishing news panels. I'd quote liberally from their reports and make one of my own, but that wouldn't be fair to their hard work. So if you have interest in the publishing news portion of the mainstream American comic book industry, you might check out some of the following: WonderCon: DC Crisis Counseling Panel, WonderCon: CMX/Wildstorm Panel, WonderCon: Mark Waid Spotlight, WonderCon: Peter David Spotlight, WonderCon: Dark Horse Panel, WonderCon: DC Universe 2006, WonderCon: Grant Morrison Spotlight, WonderCon: Vertigo Panel, or WonderCon: DCU Architects. I'll try to update this if any more scroll out on their site.

The big piece of publishing news, a writer/property connection that has probably spawned the most discussion in comics circles, confuses me a bit because I thought it was already common knowledge.

Wait, maybe this is the biggest news. I don't know. It's funnier, anyway.

Ian Brill, a Bay Area resident who covers comics for various publications has three related blog entries: Friday, Saturday, his weekend purchases.

Peter David is happy about his big announcement.

Scott Saavedra reports here.'s correspondent files here. Here is someone's photo slideshow thingee. There are like a billion other personal blog entries out there, too.

potential compromise alert: WonderCon's parent company is a CR advertiser
posted 2:56 am PST | Permalink

Cartoonist on Couches Alert

posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Tokyopop Stays With Perseus/CDS

The New York Times provides a solid business article on Tokyopop's process in selecting Perseus as their book distributor -- last year Perseus purchased the distributor Client Distribution Services, with whom Tokyopop has had a relationship since 2002 -- and what that says about the changing face of book distribution. Unfortunately, the article fails to get at exactly why Perseus/CDS was selected, beyond Mike Kiley asserting the distributor is flexible enough to handle any sudden changes the publisher might make and Stuart Levy mentioning a new infrastructure.

The NYT article also lets drop the approximate number of clients Tokyopop picked up in its Sunday newspaper launch: 30, a solid number perhaps better than it sounds depending on the percentage of big-paper clients.

The wooing process described before the announced deal, with several publishers with distribution arms making the trip to Los Angeles, may have been the source of consistent recent rumors (because if I'm hearing stuff from multiple sources, it's not obscure; I rarely get this kind of rumor) that Tokyopop is in play, and I'm not really savvy enough with the book business to know if this deal could fit a "getting one's house in order" scenario or something similar. My unsophisticated hillbilly powers of blog-fueled a-guesstimatin' say this agreement seems counterintuitive were a bigger deal imminent.

Anyway, here's Tokyopop's take on the deal, in a Word document:

posted 12:06 am PST | Permalink

February 12, 2006

Missed It: Superheroes on the Toilet


I know this is probably years old, but I have at least two readers this will be their favorite link I ever posted.

via Gil Roth
posted 11:47 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: Awesome Comic Shops Feud Story
Go, Read: Interview With Sandy Carruthers
Ken Johnson on Pratt Gallery Show
Dave Kellett Goes to Angoueleme
Go, Look: Comic Book on Public Domain Law
He Asked Nicely: Blog Dedicated to Comics Writers

CR Sunday Magazine

Mr. Hibbs Counts the Comics

For the last few years, the comics retailer Brian Hibbs has been doing annual reports on the bookstore market for comics based on Bookscan figures he collects for the last week of the year. Bookscan is a system used to measure sales -- actual sales, on site -- for book titles. It's believed to represent about 75 percent of total sales for coverage reasons -- not everyone participates -- although some people say that dips to 60 percent for certain categories that might specifically sell well in the non-Bookscan outlets, and it's granted that sometimes individual books can be even less accurately represented. There are certain structural caveats, too: for instance the figures are for the year in question, but to make the list Hibbs uses a book had to have sold a certain amount of product in the last week of the year.

What Hibbs' reports do very well is mitigate the hype on certain hard-charging assertions about the bookstore market as a sales panacea for a lot of different kinds of books. Some of the figures even with the most generous math considered prove fairly ordinary, even some books from big publishers. Numbers on Bookscan come with the built-in expectation that to get to the number of sales listed, there were probably some returns involved, too. Brian's reports also show off just how well the best manga books do, like those in the Naruto series. You can also make some logical guesses by what's absent -- for instance, various art-comics volumes and reprint books may not have an incredibly long shelf life. Hibbs' secondary assertions seem pretty spot-on, like Batman Begins helping to move various Batman books.

What I don't think Hibbs' reports do very well is serve as a springboard for direct market advocacy. Direct market figures come with their own sets of caveats and limitations, which he admits, but enough so that asked to take all of them into consideration at once -- or substitute a sampling method Hibbs throws out there at one point -- I can't help but roll my eyes. The information's just not good enough to my mind for a real tight comparison.

Further, I think Hibbs overstates his case. To point out that there is still value in the sales brought in by Direct Market retailers is I think obviously supported by the general numbers. But to assert that companies should therefore consider investing more actively in the Direct Market assumes that such investment will be rewarded. No figure in a bookscan or Diamond report supports that. Many players with an investment in both the direct market and bookstore market -- even the sales-by-hand convention market -- have a long history of being unable to make the DM respond to financial, marketing and sales support investment. If you expand that to "respond fairly," this applies even at the top of the market. Ask a member of DC's staff when they're a little tipsy if they think DC gets treated fairly in terms of their investment in the DM versus Marvel's.

That's the step that the Direct Market needs to take, to make it so that bad publishing practices are punished, good publishing practices are supported, and to make a system that will assure publishers that investment above and beyond the accepted minimum standards has a chance to be rewarded. I know this will take some effort, and my guess is that it will also require reform.

That doesn't mean that the Direct Market isn't valued, or that it should be abandoned. No one I know argues these things seriously except on the Internet. Every market is valuable to every publisher. No publisher in their right mind would refuse to do business with Bud Plant because comic shops sell more units than do catalogs. No one should have to choose between the DM and bookstores. And yet the fact remains that if you can grow your overall sales by 5, 10, or 25 percent by shifting your priorities around, you're probably going to do so.

Even with all the caveats and add-ins, the numbers available show that the Direct Market is still vital to the bottom line. There's no reason to think it won't remain an important market in the near future. And yet the numbers also show that some bookstore penetration is equally bottom-line crucial for many publishers. Perhaps most importantly, the bookstore numbers even when modest shatter the conventional wisdom around for years and years that sales on certain kinds of books were as high as they were ever going to be, that the direct market reflected the taste of the general consumer. The shift in thinking demanded of the DM isn't just re-asserting that they're a great market for comics, because they obviously still are; it needs to wake up to a world in which they aren't the only market not just in speech but in action, and show a willingness to compete on that basis.

Additional reading: Christopher Butcher looks at the numbers and comes to some strong conclusions about who's doing how well in what job.

Go, Look: Jeremy Eaton's Site


Third Thought of the Day

Get better, Mark Evanier!

Go, Read: Ditko Story from Tales to Astonish #9


Found via NeilAlien -- scroll down a bit to access.

Second Thought of the Day

I can't decide if it's funny or horrifying the US Grant remains closed until Fall. I walked through that lobby several times in 2004 and at no time did I think, "Man, this place needs 18 months of renovations."

Not Comics: Art School Confidential Trailer

You can start tracking what looks to become a love-it-or-hate-it critical response here.

Fantagraphics also reports they're doing a new edition of Pussey! in June, with a new cover and new author's introduction.

Initial Thought of The Day

I like comic book conventions. I like buying comic books, I like seeing and socializing people I know that work in comic books, I like hearing people talk about comic books, I like knowing that at just about any show a young cartoonist has been inspired to create more work, and I like watching people of all types enjoy the reading and even the collecting of comic books.

But looking out my window at 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning in February, I'm really, really happy for the ability to pick and choose which ones to attend for no other reason than that's it's February.

Ian Brill sure sounds like he's having a blast, though.
posted 1:39 am PST | Permalink

February 11, 2006

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, February 4 to February 10, 2006.

1. Protests in Europe, Africa and Asia continue throughout the week, with the publication last Fall of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten the immediate cause, with a low double-digit death toll. Political entities charge Syria and Iran for fueling the riots for political gain. Boycotts begin to hit Danish businesses, particularly dairy. Newspapers go back and forth on whether or not to publish the images -- or in the case of the vast majority of American papers, seem to want to wait it out so they don't have to make the decision. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday.

2. A French company buys the Time Warner Book Group, although it's not as big a deal as it would be for most companies as TWBG basically did the fulfillment end of distribution while the bus was driven from DC proper -- even more so since changes last year with greater marketing and sales attention being brought in-house for the bookstore side of the business. Still, one imagines this could lead to a boost for Diamond staffing levels at least if Diamond gets the business, as would seem most likely. Although the sale spotlights Time Warner's selling division to boost the value of the company, conventional wisdom says DC and its marketing/licensing/movie icons would seem to be safe from a similar move.

3. Greg Thompson named Deputy Director at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which kind of cements their re-location in New York and sets them up for the future.

Winners of the Week
Jihad Momani and Hisham Khalidi, Jordanian newsaper editors that bravely reprinted a few of the cartoons and called for a reasonable, modest response -- and ended up arrested as a result.

Losers of the Week
Any political conservatives insisting that it was the simple depiction of an injured soldier in a Tom Toles cartoon that many in power found insulting, when other cartoons using similar imagery -- but with different messages -- weren't attacked.

Quote of the Week
"Muslims of the world be reasonable."
-- From Jihad Momani's editorial.

From Daryl Cagle's roll of cartoonists dealing with the Danish cartoons controversy. Click through for more.
posted 2:44 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: "Name Five Underappreciated Comic Strips."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 17th.
posted 2:34 am PST | Permalink

February 10, 2006

Go, Visit: Cartoonists in Richmond

posted 11:17 pm PST | Permalink

This Week’s Reviews

Seven Prophecy Bunnies
Ghost of Hoppers
The Library of Graphic Novelists: Joe Sacco
Solomon Grundy
Superman: Secret Identity
posted 9:37 pm PST | Permalink

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* At least one news sources is reporting 13 dead overall, all from protests and acts of reprisal that can be traced back to the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed in an issue of Denmark's Jyllands-Posten last Fall.

* In the top political story, Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen echoes Condoleeza Rice's claim that Syria and Iran have fanned the flames of protest for political purposes.

* In the top self-absorption story, I've now written enough blog entries on this matter I know the name of the Danish Prime Minister without looking it up.

* Here as promised is a link to yesterday's Talk of the Nation story, which looks to be more about poltical cartoons in general.

* Youth riots this morning in India, along with one Muslim leader proclaiming the worst may be yet to come. CNN also cites protests in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. Looks like there was a Day 2 in South Africa.

* Slate answers the question of where all these Danish flags being burned come from.

* In boycott news, add poultry to dairy in terms of Danish food exports that are being hit in a measurable fashion. This is the first time I've seen calls to buy Danish products, which seemed inevitable.

* Flemming Rose's expressed desire to run Holocaust cartoons generated by a proposed contest in an Iranian paper has earned the Jylland-Posten editor a vacation.

* The Danish author Kaare Bluitgen, who was uniquely involved with this whole fiasco at the start, is saddened by the violence.

* If it's a hundred kilograms of gold to kill the "cartoonist" responsible, does that mean you have to kill all 12 cartoonists or that you get 100 per cartoonist? Also, do you get anything for killing one of the imams who faked cartoons that many feel were more offensive than the original 12?

* I've missed some cartoonists who spoke on the matter throughout the week: Tony Auth, Brian Duffy, Malcolm Evans, Khalil Bendib, and Nick Anderson. Nobel Peace Prize winner and writer Shirin Ebadi also commented in Arizona. I'm also told Jean-Christophe Menu sent out a statement through is e-mailed newsletter.
posted 3:27 am PST | Permalink

If I Were Going to WonderCon…

... I would:

image1. Thank someone in charge for being an advertiser on this site (conflict of interest admission).
2. Try to see the programming featuring Gerard Jones on his history book, Gahan Wilson and Ramona Fradon.
3. Support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund by attending their event.
4. Go and see Rory Root's still sort-of new retail location.
5. Mix booze and comics at one of Isotope's functions, the way I used to when I'd sit alone at home on weekend nights with my stack of muscleman comics and a bottle of Canadian Mist mixed with Mountain Dew drinking a gulp every time an Image artist failed to draw a complete foot and sobbing softly to myself.
6. Access the retailers at the show to finish my Mike Parobeck collection.
posted 3:10 am PST | Permalink

Greg Thompson CBLDF Deputy Director

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has named creator Greg Thompson as the organization's deputy director. Thompson, both a creator and someone with deep connections and experience in comics retailing, will share the load in terms of fundraising convention appearances, starting by representing the Fund at this weekend's WonderCon.
posted 3:07 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Hors Whistle Blog

posted 3:04 am PST | Permalink

More on Lewis Trondheim and Press

I thought this article containing a survey of publishers about Lewis Trondheim's statements on the press had a weird, school-marmish quality to it, including a dig at the cartoonist at the end that wouldn't be out of place on the comics portion of Usenet, circa 1997. This was also the first place I've read that Trondheim may not want to do an exhibit featuring his own work at Angouleme '07. Usual qualifiers about my crappy French apply.
posted 2:52 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Killoffer Interview

posted 2:45 am PST | Permalink Profiles John Turitzin

I don't think there's anything new in this profile of Marvel executive vice-president and general counsel John Turitzin, but it offers up a concise picture of Marvel's recent tussles in court.
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Kazu Kibuishi Tutorial

posted 2:32 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Diamond Refigures Its Newsletters
Bookslut Graphic Novel Round-Up
I'll Never Get Tired of This Story
Long Look at Disney Strip Auction Issues


February 9, 2006

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* Ed Cunard writes in to remind us that NPR's Talk of the Nation will cover the story today. I'll post a direct link tomorrow, but you might be able to catch it today on your local station or through the site link later today.

* As of this morning there's a protest of about 2000 muslims in Bangladesh, and a ceremony in Lebanon turned into a big protest.

image* There is a lot of political writing out there, from both the sorting-out-the-issues and offering-up-opinions camps. Today's top story in any category is probably Condoleeza Rice's charge that Iran and Syria are fomenting the protests for political advantage. There's a lot to go around, though. Danish Imams continue to be blamed for instigating the whole matter. Blink and you might have missed a story about the European Union considering a "voluntary" media code. A more slowly developing story tells how an Egyptian paper published several of the images months ago without reprisal, then or now. The bottom of this BBC piece provides a solid summary of the fake cartoon controversy. An editorial writer at National Review brings up John Kenneth Galbraith's cat.

* In boycott news, South African muslims step up with a call to join those seeking economic reprisals against Denmark.

* In the journalism ethics wing, Jyllands-Posten has decided that publishing an Iranian's papers Holocaust cartoons isn't going to happen. US newspaper editors are at their desks praying for multiple celebrity pregnancy stories or whatever else it will take not to have to make a decision on publishing the offending cartoons. Editor & Publisher looks at a Wyoming paper's decision to publish the offending works.

* Wait! What about Denmark's institutionalized celebrity family/tourism magnets?

* In the cartoonists making comment file, the wire services have been running comments from Chappatte for a couple of days now. You can find a run of editorial cartoons on the matter through Daryl Cagle's site. Cagle has been blogging on the topic, and has written a column about it. Joe Kubert contributes to this opinion piece.

* Speaking of cartoonists, K. Thor Jensen wrote in to say that he'd been threatened in the past apparently because of religious objections, something I didn't know about. He also sent me a link to his take on the current story, an explicit drawing of George Bush having sex with Muhammed. This offends even me -- but I bet you see a lot of this kind of thing in the months ahead in the alternative press. You've been warned.

* The Daily Show, America's favorite news-substitute, weighs in with the help of gifted comics mimic R. Sikoryak.

* Finally, the L.A. Times takes a long look at how some Danes are taking this opportunity to look inward.
posted 3:31 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Nobusama Takahashi

posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: The Engine on Marketing

The writer Warren Ellis is writing at length on his discussion web site The Engine about how to market one's comics. I think his principles are generally sound, although having genuine quality (as opposed to "arguable quality") work to offer up seems to make them work much better and I think with certain companies the marketing/pr people do a good enough job that you don't have to worry about entire steps in Ellis' list.

One thing that occurred to me while reading this -- does the self-marketing principle indicate that distributors are no longer doing the job they used to do at the beginning of the "direct market" of comics and related hobby shops? I'm currently doing a comics history that partly coincides with the initial years of the DM, and it's interesting in that distributors seemed at that time to be more directly entrusted with selling the work as opposed to acting as a sort-of seller, sort-of fulfillment house the way Diamond does now. I don't know if that's a function of no competition or merely companies taking it upon themselves to forge certain relationships, but I do find it odd. If you squint at the situation in a certain way, it's pretty easy to see a lot of marketing functions in comics arising out of a failure to demand and get these services from distribution agents.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Bay Area & Mini-Comics

One of those typical ramp-up articles to this weekend's WonderCon in the Bay Area press focuses on the region's thriving mini-comics scene, with several well-chosen examples if you're the type to make lists and check out artists later.
posted 12:18 am PST | Permalink

February 8, 2006

PWCW: Hill & Wang Launch GN Line

Publishers Weekly's Comics Week effort reported yesterday that non-fiction imprint Hill & Wang of publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux is starting a graphic novel imprint to be called Novel Graphics. Those involved include comics veterans Andy Helfer, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. Projects include biographies and histories. Calvin Reid does a nice job of tracing the various companies and corporations and deals that can be linked to Hill & Wang, including FS&G's distribution relationship with D&Q. I'd say it bears watching to see what traditional publisher/distributor issues develop down the line with these groupings, particularly once the honeymoon phase with all these line launches moves into more settled patterns of what really sells and where and how frequently.
posted 11:43 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
AAEC Prez Clay Bennett Criticizes Menees Firing
Boilermakers Love Achewood
Local Comics Publisher Profile: Ted Riddle
Korean On-Line Cartoonist Profile: Kang Full

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update


* Tom Toles' cartoon works both as commentary on this controversy and as a sly wink in the direction of his own editorial cartoon story from last week.

* President Bush says stop the violence, and repeats the line about the freedom of speech and responsiblity.

* The protests related to last Fall's publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed seemed less violent yesterday than they were Monday and over the weekend. The heaviest action seems to have been intermitten flare-ups throughout the day in Tehran. While the big words today are "increased security" in various hotspots, it's interesting to note that Danish representatives to the imminent Winter Olympics are expecting no additional safeguards.

* The editorial staff of the New York Press has walked out in protest of not being allowed by the publisher to reprint the cartoons in an issue dedicated to the controversy. Jyllands-Posten's Carsten Juste says no to suggestions he resign. While it's been argued that Jyllands-Posten turned down some Jesus cartoons at an earlier date, we can all breathe easy that they seem willing to publish Holocaust cartoons in coordination with an Iranian paper's contest.

* Upon hearing that last item, one imagines Kirk Cameron has assembled a crack screenwriting team to re-write the first 20 minutes of his next television movie, because nothing says "easing of tensions" like applying political pressure on the Israeli government using Holocaust imagery. Then again, there's been very little discussion of what sounds like a Hustler-style cartoon starring Hitler and Anne Frank. It's even not funny like a Hustler cartoon.

* News concerning boycotts is very light today. This article about the potential for economic action in Turkey suggests boycotts would probably end up being more harmful to Turkey than Denmark.

* Enough time has passed for the political charges and counter-charges to ramp up. Somebody clever found the origin of one of the "additional" cartoons being shown around by Danish muslims which some claimed were legitimate and had been sent to Muslims privately. Another source claims that Danish law was ignored when the original images were published. Hirsi Ali gives an interview on the entire matter. Here's a round-up of Middle East bloggers writing on the subject. Michael Kimmelman weighs in on the power of imagery.

* In the cartoonist reaction department, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has released their brief statement, whily Lynn Johnston makes public her thoughts through her syndicate. Zapiro weighs in.

* Danish muslims remain split on the subject.
posted 2:59 am PST | Permalink

Unfit Artist Contest’s Top Fifteen


Scott Adams has clustered together a top 15 from entries submitted by those hoping to become the artist on the Unfit feature. It's interesting to see the different takes, oddly compelling to read what Adams' on-line audiences members feel are the elements that distinguish certain efforts from others.
posted 12:29 am PST | Permalink

Frank Miller & CBLDF at Wondercon

Longtime Comic Book Legal Defense Fund advocate Frank Miller will host a screening of the movie Sin City at the Act 1 & 2 theaters in Berkeley at 2128 Center Street at 7 PM this Sunday. The screening requires a donation of $15. A reception at the legendary Comic Relief store will follow at 9 PM to midnight, free to any CBLDF members who present a ticket stub from the movie.
posted 12:06 am PST | Permalink

February 7, 2006

Luckovich Cartoon Fails to Rate?


In the wake of last week's political story where a Tom Toles cartoon using a quadruple amputee fostered an outraged letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and dozens of echoed complaints from political writers and bloggers comes the above Mike Luckovich cartoon, which some editorial cartoonists and critics of the Joint Chiefs' letter to Toles note hasn't received its own letter. This, they say, exposes the Joint Chiefs as offended not with the portrayal of an injured soldier to make a point but simply disagreeing with the political point being made.
posted 11:57 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Paul Norris Profile


Go through the above image for the writer Mark Evanier's presentation of a profile of Paul Norris, the creator behind Aquaman and years of Jungle Jim and Brick Bradford; the article Evanier discusses is definitely worth visiting on its own.
posted 11:46 pm PST | Permalink

Martin Wagner to Complete Snowblind?

An on-line conclusion to the storyline that went down with the self-publishing iteration of his comic book may be the Hepcats author's intention, if this is to be believed.
posted 11:15 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Mini-Comics Show Photos


On his blog, Joel Priddy has put up pictures of a recent mini-comics show (click through image above) with an interesting solution on how to display that material: the mini-comics were hung in envelopes on the wall for people to take out, look at and read.
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Really Nice Lutefisk Sushi Show Site
This Looks Really Cool and Useful
Ken Steacy Publishing Launches Site
Stone Bridge Announces Frederik L. Schodt Tour
Podcast From Last Year's Stumptown Comics Fest
Warren Craghead in Cupidity Show

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* A Danish lawyer was shot yesterday in Moscow, probably the most alarming development concerning ongoing protests and strong political reaction over the publication of cartoons by Denmark's Jyllands-Posten paper last Fall. has a brief report and a fine summary of yesterday's rash of protests and the protest-related injuries and death. There are still brand-new eruptions as the hours pass, such as news that Nigerian assembly members burned Danish flags this morning. Cotabato City seems to be the choice for measuring how far abroad the protests have spread. There were even protests in North America: peaceful demonstrations in Halifax and Philadelphia, both because of papers reprinting the original cartoons.

* Meanwhile, a paper in Iran threatens to turn the whole affair into a Norm MacDonald movie by announcing a Holocaust cartoon contest. Johnny Ryan, your country needs you.

* Amazingly, there's more: in a "please take us seriously" move no doubt suggested by Bizarro Imam No. 1, they're renaming Danishes now.

* Although coverage of the fiscal issues involved appears to have intensified, there's little in the way of qualitative changes to the economic boycotts story. Add Danish shipping companies to the list of those who might suffer boycotts in the days to come. Dairy giant Arla continues to get the bulk of attention as far as the impact on individual companies. The Malaysian Star has a nice summary article about general economic outcomes using Arla as a springboard, while looks at what companies might gain at the expense of boycotted Danish firms.

* Cartoonists are starting to make their opinions felt on the matter. Austrailian cartoonists are split. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, expected to release their own statement shortly, have linked to some cartoonist opinion pieces on their site. Tom Scott, once tried for blasphemy, offers up his opinion on top of this New Zealand round-up. If you're brave, you can dive into the related thread at

* President Bush called Denmark PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen with a show of support; the Bush State Department had days earlier come out on the side of responsible speech. Finally, a crisis perfect for Ronald Reagan's legendary comics page reading skills, two decades too late.

* Reader Er Lern Loh writes with with "Just an update on the situation here in Malaysia." Apparently, the paper The Sarawak Tribune fired its editor and issued a pair of front-page apolgies after the offending cartoons were published there. The editor disputes reports from the Tribune that he had quit in order to assume responsiblity, or that he was the sole agent responsible for the cartoons' publication. A version of the story can be found here. Loh says as a result the newspaper is threatened with having its license revoked. Thanks, Er Lern.

* In the still-too-small resonable reaction department, many Danish Muslims want the violence and protesting to stop.
posted 4:48 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Greg Cook’s Site

posted 4:42 am PST | Permalink

Oh, Right. That’s What It Means… provides the perspective woefully missing from my initial bibbling yesterday about the sale of the Time Warner Book Group to the European giant Lagardere: the TW book group is the fulfillment arm of DC's book distribution program. Sorry about that. I still don't think it becomes too big a deal. The book division selling isn't a surprise to anyone -- it's been in serious play since 2003. DC has aggressively bolstered its sales and marketing department the last 13 months to the extent I can't imagine it matters who does the other stuff, if it ever did. The company also enjoys a solid relationship -- I think a potential Victor Kiam/Remington Shavers relationship -- with Diamond that could easily be expanded if necessary, in customized ways, even. But yeah, that's the angle.
posted 3:57 am PST | Permalink

Guglielmo Letteri, 1926-2006


The Italian comics artist Guglielmo Letteri, best known for his work on the Tex feature for Bonelli, passed away on February 2 according to a posting at Letteri worked for the Argentine publishers Abril and Columba early in his career and for the British Fleetway agency in the 1950s. He was 79 years old.
posted 3:31 am PST | Permalink

NYT: Another Early Valentine to DC

DC Comics, writer George Gene Gustines and the New York Times continue their romantic media entanglement with yet another soft, gosh-wow profile article, this one on Paul Levitz's return to comics writing. I'm interested in the subject matter here, as it occurs to me seeing the subject header just how much of what DC does through titles like JSA reflects the basic approach to the material the DC's President and Publisher pretty much embodied as a full-time comics writer two and more decades ago. That's not always the case with the seemingly endless series of these relatively unsophisticated DC-focused articles at NYT. I wonder if when these pieces appear someone at Marvel ends up snapping at the folks from Motley Fool for no reason, then apologizing.
posted 3:12 am PST | Permalink

February 6, 2006

Go, Look: Lark Pien’s Blog

posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lets Tim Menees Go
Douglas Wolk on Ghosts of Hoppers
A Much Milder Cartoon Controversy
These Days, Even the Afterparties Get Press Releases

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

* I'd suggest anyone coming to this issue for the first time or wanting a refresher or different perspective on week one check out Tim Cavanaugh's essay at Even if you don't agree with Cavanaugh's central premise that this explosion of protests is an overall, positive good, he provides a fine summary with several smart insights. Plus, Cavanaugh linkblogs more smoothly than anyone writing for the Internet.

* The big news this morning is the continuing protests and the violent nature of same. Four people have died amid several injuries in Afghanistan. Embassies were burned in Syria and Lebanon. A Catholic priest in Turkey may have been killed in relation to this controversy, and even if that turns out not to be true, the assumption it was is a story, too. The BBC has a protests pictures roll.

* In terms of the expanding scope of the political fall-out, Chechnya is now barring Danish aid workers. The protests have gone as far as New Zealand and Indonesia. Kofi Annan calls for calmer heads to prevail.

* In case you missed it, one of the most depressing developments over the long weekend was the firing and arrest of Jordanian editor Jihad Momani, who reprinted the cartoons and called for a more reasonable response from Muslims. He is interviewed here.

* Just about every idiot with a blog has seemingly weighed in. Smarter people have, too.

* The United States editorial cartooning reaction has been varied. Most newspapers are choosing not to run the original cartoons. Signe Wilkinson suggests that Muslim fight back with cartoons of their own. Some of the first wave of U.S. newspapers editorials are being picked apart by bloggers that recall different stances on what they feel are similar issues.

* The Telegraph's David Rennie tries to track down the "extra" cartoons, cartoons which were much more provocative than the actual Jyllands-Posten cartoons and were mixed into initial reports in many areas, contributing greatly to the protests.

* Concerning the economic boycott portion of the protests, the calls for boycotts intensify, the Associated Press does some math, and dairy giant Arla Foods remains a cogent example of the effects.

* In the at this point depressingly minor, working-towards-a-solution department, it looks like the newspaper Jyllands-Posten is working directly with Muslim leaders in Denmark to issue a joint statement regarding the matter.
posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Simon Gane’s New Site

posted 5:20 am PST | Permalink

Largardere Buying Time Warner Books

For more than a half-billion dollars, says Publishers Weekly. And no, I have no idea what that means. My guess is that unless there's been some shuffling in Time Warner's corporate set-up I haven't heard about the only comics-related books directly effected are a few, you know, actual comics-related books.
posted 4:36 am PST | Permalink

Toles Vs. Pentagon Cartoon Fallout

imageThe story of Tom Toles' cartoon which to make its point used a drawing of a soldier-amputee and garnered a response from the Joint Chiefs of Staff seems to me over save for the mudslinging from sites and blogs both left and right, which is about as interesting to me as watching ink dry.

I apologize if I get this wrong, but I guess there was an semi-interesting footnote where in support of Tom Toles the cartoonist Ted Rall was to appear on one of those idiotic shows where people spew nasty political statements on each other, this one called Hannity and Colmes*. Rall was supposedly lied to by one of the producers of that show in that one of the hosts brought up an equally strident Ted Rall cartoon and started beating on Rall about the subject of that cartoon. What's amazing to me isn't that a television producer of one of these black holes of masturbatory stupidity** might lie to Ted Rall, but that Rall -- with whom I've always been cordial and a person I thought was pretty cagey on political matters -- didn't 1) assume this was going to happen, and 2) would ever think that his support of Tom Toles would be a political positive.

* Which one is the robot played by John Schuck?
** If this offends you, please note that I enjoy watching re-runs of Hunter.
posted 4:07 am PST | Permalink

Comics Collectibles Legal Battle

This story of money owed for comics in Michigan sounds like a screwy story all around... why on earth would anyone sign a note guaranteeing the sale of certain comics before the sale takes place and without having the money? It seems like this is the kind of thing that routinely gets handled without such a promise. The collectibles market can be a strange enough place, what with its bleedover of values into comics that are obviously not collectible except by a kind of willful fiat, that a story like this can't be welcome for those that conduct themselves in a more honest fashion.
posted 12:32 am PST | Permalink

One More Angouleme Gallery

imageI know many of you reading may not have any interest in one more photo gallery from last weekend's festival in Angouleme, and I promise to make a "collective memory" entry soon, but I wanted to post this one by Guido Vogliotti because he was reporting for Gianfranco Goria's afNews site, which has been an extremely helpful gateway site into European news.

It's also much more exhibit oriented than the photo galleries that have been linked to here thus far.
posted 12:19 am PST | Permalink

Michael Fry Ends Committed


Michael Fry, one-half of the Over the Hedge team about to experience the bounty of a major motion picture adaptation, has announced he's going to end his 12-year single-panel feature Committed. According to the article in Editor & Publisher, Fry has a variety of projects to fill his time, and cites creative burnout as the major cause for pulling the plug on the panel.
posted 12:10 am PST | Permalink

February 5, 2006

Go, Look: Bodega Comics Blog

posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Newsarama Rules the Comics On-Line World
Disjointed But Interesting Article on Comics and Web
Comic Strip Nostalgia Not Limited to U.S.
Wider Culture Hook Comics Profile: Ande Parks

February 4, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Preview: Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire


A Few More Angouleme Reports

Here's Andi Watson's, and a Jim Lee summary post complete with Neal Adams-style sketch of the Marvel character Havok. Here's one about a snowball fight. Here's another snowball fight.

Go, Look: Ever Muelen Prints, Posters, Covers


Initial Thought of the Day

I had a dream Wednesday night that Dave Sim returned to Cerebus for a 27-issue addendum called "Revival" where a back-from-the-dead Cerebus spent his time writing insightful letters to random cartoonists, including Charles Burns and Jim Davis. This inexplicably led to a Harry Potter-style surge in the popularity of the entire Cerebus saga. I stopped by a downtown Chicago Border's to buy the new last issue of the series, #327, and it cost $20 plain, $40 signed. Sim had arranged the rows leading up to his seat behind the signing table so that no one could actually make it up to him. I was told by a burly handler that this was "to teach us a lesson."
posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, January 28 to February 3, 2006.

1. Massive protests in Europe and the Middle East and various other locations throughout the world erupt, the cause stemming back to last Fall's publication of caricatures of Muhammed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. Some papers and political entities back a publication's right to free speech. Other political entities, including the US State Department, seem to gaze upon the publication as a irresponsible, provocative stunt. Probably the biggest international news story with cartoons at its center in the history of the medium.

2. Tie: A Tom Toles cartoon catches the disapproving eye of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the tragic and untimely accidental death of young, talented comics illustrator Seth Fisher.

3. Perhaps the most important European cartoonist of the last 15 years, Lewis Trondheim wins Grand Prix at Angouleme as a newsworthy but lightly attended festival ends.

Winner of the Week
Paul Karasik, for the funniest piece of writing about attending a comics festival I've read in a long, long time. Thank you, Paul.

Loser of the Week
Wizard's convention arm, for cutting off its Boston finger.

Quote of the Week
"We have the right to caricature God."
-- Portion of headline in French newspaper; the editor who put together a show of support for the Danish publication of Muhammed cartoons was fired the next day.

posted 2:19 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 and the Creators You'd Like to See 'Cover' Them."

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on the 10th.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Go, Visit: Scioli/Rugg Signing

posted 2:07 am PST | Permalink

February 3, 2006

Your Daily Danish Cartoons Update

Timed as if to end the week of escalating protests aginst last Fall's publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed on one more gut-wrenching twist, the U.S. State Department has come out in favor of the Muslim protestors' point of view, news sources say today, saying that with free speech comes with it an expectation of responsibility.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands march against the cartoons in Gaza City. Protests in London put some nasty invective on display, like these charming chants in London. Reuters reports that some sources are reaching out for conciliation at the same time. The conservative Brussels Journal, really the top blog in terms of time spent following this story since last Fall, has a round-up of recent extremist reaction and declarations. Liberation in France joins those European papers reprinting a number of the original cartoons. While they're going for the use of the art as "exhibits" in a news story, other papers are still publishing the cartoons out of solidarity, like this paper in Canada.

We're also starting to get the more considered journalistic weigh-ins, which should repeat for the Sunday papers. Here's a piece from The Nation, and the New York Times is running daily reports like this one.
posted 6:39 am PST | Permalink

Distractions For A Friday Afternoon


Paul Karasik's hilarious and insightful Angouleme Festival report is up, including a lot of pictures, like this one of the great Jose Munoz and Karasik.



T. Edward Bak has a new site up.



Billy Mavreas has a drawing blog.
posted 6:26 am PST | Permalink

More on Tom Toles Vs. The JCS

Apparently, Tom Toles appeared on Paula Zahn's show on CNN yesterday evening to talk about his controversial editorial cartoon featuring an amputee, that drew a letter from all five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their Chairman. Here's a transcript (scroll down a bit). One aspect I wasn't aware of is an old argument against cartoons in general that by depicting something the editorial cartoonist is automatically making light of that thing, a criticism I think Tole ably deflects.

Most of the additional stuff I'm finding breaks down to political blog commentary or columns on either the "disgusting" cartoon or the "extraordinary" action of the Joint Chiefs coming out against the cartoon. There's a third kind of article that is comparing the letter sent by the Joint Chiefs with the protests against the Danish Prophet cartoons, generally to contrast the discourse at work in each effort.
posted 5:56 am PST | Permalink

Go, Attend: Kupperman Party Tonight

posted 4:06 am PST | Permalink

Lewis Trondheim on Journalists

Here's an early indication of why recent Angouleme grand prix winner Lewis Trondheim could prove to be a very different kind of festival president -- if I'm reading the article correctly, Trondheim used the occasion of a newspaper interview to speak frankly about what he thinks of the journalists that cover comics. Although a lot of his criticisms are broad, he also definitely names names.
posted 4:01 am PST | Permalink

More on Seth Fisher’s Passing

imageNewsarama has a smart follow-up piece on the passing of artist Seth Fisher, including the cause of death -- injuries sustained from falling from the roof of a club in Osaka.

This site is collecting links to stories, testimonials and discussion about Fisher's life and his untimely death here.
posted 2:56 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
80 People Try Out For Unfit
Sequential for Your Reading Pleasure
Who Is Comics Most Romantic Couple?
Tintin Au Congo Newly Attacked By PETA

February 2, 2006

CBR: Artist Seth Fisher Passes Away


Seth Fisher, an extremely talented artist who worked for various DC Comics divisions and Heavy Metal in addition to pursuing numerous illustration and game design opportunities, has passed away, according to a report filed by Comic Book Resources. Fisher maintained a personal/professional site stuffed with artwork and photos. His books included Green Lantern: Willworld, the Flash: Time Flies one-shot, a brief run on Doom Patrol, Vertigo Pop Tokyo, Happydale: Devils in the Desert, and Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big In Japan. Fisher's artwork, a vibrant combination of approaches hinting at comics from all over the world, was of such a high quality that he had become one of those artists interested readers, myself included, sought out despite the project. Interviews with Fisher can be found here and here. He was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2003. Although I'm unable to find the cartoonist's age, he spoke about being a freshman in college in 1991, which could conceivably put him in his early to mid-30s.
posted 1:19 am PST | Permalink

Your Danish Cartoon Protest Update

Journalistic solidarity took a shot in the nuts as Jacques Lefranc was dismissed by the owner of France Soir for publishing the cartoons that led to an increasingly potent wave of protests across the Middle East and Europe. Newspapers in Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherland re-ran the cartoons as a show of support and as a statement of journalistic principle. That same article describes the Jordanian paper al-Shihan printing a few of the cartoons and its editor Jihad Momani asking Muslims to remain reasonable (this is no time to joke, but when the guy named Jihad...), and notes that a bomb threat Tuesday emptied the offices of the cartoons' original publisher, Jyllands-Posten. Ditto Wednesday evening. The BBC is also running a related photo array. Indonesia joins other nations speaking out against the publication of the cartoons. Afghanistan, too. Turkey also goes after publication supporters. Expatriates and Qatar scholars weigh in. Amid all the noise, a lot of pressure is being put on the Danish muslim community.

What a depressing mess.
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink

Pentagon Trying to Censor Tom Toles?


A Tom Toles cartoon featuring Donald Rumsfeld and a soldier in bed having lost his arms and legs has led to a letter being sent to the Washington Post from all five service-branch members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their chairman.

Here's the Washington Post summary of the Joint Chiefs reaction, the reaction of Toles' editor, and an initial show of support from a veterans' organization. Editor and Publisher weighs in here, noting the rarity of such a letter. Something called The Conservative Voice weighs in with a conservative voice. has been covering the story pretty closely; I don't want to step on their links. You can get access to the letter through this entry, and another letter through here. They editorialize on the matter's importance here.
posted 12:50 am PST | Permalink

WizardWorld Cancels Its Boston Show

Wizard Entertainment's convention arm is announcing that it will not have a 2006 show in Boston. They're also reporting attendance in 2005 at 8800, which is quite low. The next weakest show on the Wizard slate is widely believed to be their Texas convention, although it looks like attendance is stronger there than in Boston and it's my understanding -- I couldn't go to to court on this -- that a move to a more amenable location within the Dallas area might be the kind of structural improvement worth trying before any decision-making process even begins to be applied to that show. Even with their participation deal on the upcoming New York show, this has been a pretty rough several months for the Wizard conventions, as described in Newsarama's article.
posted 12:36 am PST | Permalink

Satrapi is Seattle’s 2006 Read

imageUnderneath an Angouleme round-up, Fantagraphics Books co-owner Kim Thompson discusses something I'd heard in passing but haven't mentioned here, that Seattle in one of those "everybody reads the same book" programs has selected Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis books as its reading material of choice. Satrapi is the clear front-runner in my mind for first cartoonist to have their work featured in a full segment on Oprah (where I bet she'd kill), although the way these things shake out I'd probably still bet "The Field."
posted 12:09 am PST | Permalink Musicland Bankruptcy Woes has been keeping an admirably close eye on the disruption felt by various vendors -- their primary interest is in anime and manga suppliers -- caused by the bankruptcy of Musicland, pointing out some classic irony that to come out of bankruptcy and continue to compete with places like Wal-Mart, the chain will need to have some of these key vendors make it past the bankruptcy with them.
posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink

February 1, 2006

Go, Look: Angouleme Photo Set


These photos from the festival in Angouleme come from Alvin Buenaventura of Buenaventura Press, and feature a lot of comics luminaries. If read in conjunction with yesterday's report from Bart Beaty they might fill in a few clues -- for example, the image to click through above has that Richard McGuire piece of art used by the Pirates Litteraires.
posted 11:45 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
A Trip Through The Insomniac's Mansion
I Haven't Even Heard of This Book
Sometimes Censorship Is Just Paper Error
Visions of Bush on Display
Local Cartoonist Profile: Joshua Flower

“We Have the Right to Caricature God”

The French paper France Soir has joined papers in Denmark and Norway in publishing cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammed. These cartoons have led to an esclating series of protests since their initial publication last Fall in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten, including threats of death against the artists involved, violence against Scandinavian tourists in the Middle East and economic boycotts of Danish and Norwegian goods.
posted 3:37 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics: Bart Beaty Reports on Angouleme 2006

posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

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