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

March 31, 2006

If I Lived Somewhere in the South Within Driving Distance of Athens, I’d Be Here Today

posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

If I Still Lived in Seattle, I Would Be Here Today

posted 7:50 pm PST | Permalink

Suspects in Hussain Murder Freed


Citing lack of evidence, a court in Delhi has acquitted five men accused of murdering the cartoonist Irfan Hussain. Hussain had been working for the Indian magazine Outlook in March 1999 when he was abducted and murdered. Mustafa Ansari, Sanjay Kumar, Heera Singh, Mohammed Jasim and Mohammed Sahid were the men arrested and now released, a carjacking ring who were said to have killed the cartoonist during an attempt to seize his car.

Hussain was only 37 years old and had been married just six years at the time of his death. A child of a prominent family in Nagpur, he had come to prominence in 1986 by winning a contest for his caricature of V.P. Singh. Hussain also worked for The Pioneer. Before the initial arrests, it had been rumored that his cartoons had led to his being threatened along with some other journalists.

In a long report preceding a plea for funds to help his family, Daryl Cagle wrote about the unresolved aspects of Hussain's case. The report also includes a photo of the late cartoonist.
posted 12:36 am PST | Permalink

Bush is Great! April Fool’s! Ha-Ha!

Several cartoonists plan on praising President George Bush at this location on April Fool's Day, because one way to interpret April Fool's Day is as an "opposite day." Thousands are sure to have their minds changed by the startling voyage of discovery and self-reflection engendered by this bold entry into give-and-take political dialogue. Editor & Publisher has a little write-up.
posted 12:22 am PST | Permalink

Chris Butcher on Tower Records’ Site

imageAt his blog, Christopher Butcher suggests that Tower Records has the rare on-line site that carries comics without being beholden to the juggernaut. If I write any more than that, or just run a big ol' block quote, you'll have no reason to go to his site and read what Butcher has to say about their distributor and their ability to fulfill orders. Butcher is right in that the prices seem competitive with discounts elsewhere, and the interface seems pleasant (although I have no idea if that's even a factor anymore). There's even free shipping at the $20 level. This reminds me that Tower Records' physical stores were carrying some comics material even ten years ago, although whether or not all of them or if people were buying stuff there was a matter of debate.
posted 12:10 am PST | Permalink

March 30, 2006

Seattle Papers Agree to Arbitration

In a story CR's been tracking for the life of this site, the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer announced their decision to enter into binding arbitration about their joint-operating agreement, with a decision expected in 2007. If the decision goes against the P-I, it will probably close. This is important because Seattle is one of the few cities where the local newspapers still compete for comics, even paying for some they don't run so that the other paper won't get them. The P-I is also one of the nation's most aggressive papers when it comes to finding on-line avenues for strip work, and is a noted early adopter of strips that go on to be successful. So one to look forward to next year.
posted 9:30 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Daniel Johnston Art


Or, go see the movie.
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Heartfelt Disquistion on Personal Freedom Leveraged into Corporate $$$

Crain's notes DC Comics has done well with the V For Vendetta books, which is in that rarest of rare 500,000+ copies club. Newsarama runs a smart interview with Paul Levitz about what this means for the comics market.

Oh, come on. It's Friday.
posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Ernst Fuchs

posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Max Cannon Profiled
Joanne Brooker Goes to Iran
Why Do Comic Strips Suck Now?
Ramsey Joins Katrina Photojournalists
Stamford and Marvel, Sitting in a Tree
Ralph Gardner Jr. on His Crumb Comics
One Year Later, There Are Still Fake Sell-Outs
Library Uses Donation to Build Comics Collection

First Second Covers Booklist


Let the close scrutiny of First Second's Spring launch begin!
posted 1:06 am PST | Permalink

Obvious Bookstore Analysis Round-Up

Hellboy, Sin City, V For Vendetta, Naruto, Naruto, Naruto... it's way past time to acknowledge that a) movie tie-in can make for a significant rush up the ladder for non-mainstream graphic novels directly related to the material and b) Naruto is sort of popular. V For Vendetta is tops with Bookscan in the graphic novel category; Naruto Vol. 9 plays well on that list and remains for a sixth week on USA Today's top 150.
posted 12:41 am PST | Permalink

Reynolds on All the New FBI Comics


If you scroll down a bit in the above link, you'll read FBI publicity guru Eric Reynolds preview Jordan Crane's new comic and speak directly to Fantagraphics' mostly-under-the-radar recommitment to the comic book format, what with books from folks like Michael Kupperman, Mark Martin, and Jordan Crane joining stalwarts like Dame Darcy and Los Bros Hernandez. There was a time in the early 1990s when comic shops could make mini-sections out of similarly-sized comics from Peter Bagge, Dan Clowes, Chester Brown, Joe Sacco, Dylan Horrocks, Mary Fleener and Julie Doucet among many others, which some of us think helped create a market identity among hardcore fans and allowed for a lot more sampling from title to title than might take place with a cluster of $19.95 trades.
posted 12:06 am PST | Permalink

March 29, 2006

Not Comics: Eltingville Pilot Uploaded

Evan Dorkin recently posted on his on-line journal that someone has put up the Eltingville television pilot here. It's only played intermittently since its debut; I'm among those who have never seen it.

If you're still looking for cartoonist-related TV when that finishes, this thread at talks about a Danny Hellman appearance on G4.
posted 11:54 pm PST | Permalink

St. Petersburg Times’ Comics Shifts

After spotlighting the comic strip changes at the Sacramento Bee, I received a few e-mails saying that the St. Petersburg Times, apparently Florida's largest newspaper has also made change by which we might divine a trend or two. The Times' moves look more like a standard new strip pump-up, with Dog Eat Doug, Watch Your Head. Peach Fuzz, and F Minus stepping in for a combination of a shifting around of features, dropping Cathy and Opus, and the Boondocks hiatus. The Opus drop is pretty interesting. I don't think that strip launched with a huge, huge number, and we know Breathed has walked away twice before -- it makes me wonder if Andrews McMeel went with a Complete Bloom County collection if that might not happen.
posted 11:37 pm PST | Permalink

I Learn New Stuff Every Day


I had no idea Scott Adams owned his own food company, Scott Adams Foods. I learned about it here.
posted 11:35 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Tokyopop Teams With uClick
With Great Power Comes Great Piety
OTBP: Tom Tomorrow's Anti-Bush Book
Cleveland and New Avengers, Sitting in a Tree
Apparently, Comics Are Being Read In Classrooms

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 12:29 am PST | Permalink

March 28, 2006

Awards Season: Trudeau, “The Week”


Garry Trudeau will be given a lifetime achievement award by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University for his work concerning the War in Iraq, in particular the storyline about former quarterback B.D. losing a leg.

In other awards news, the third annual "The Week" awards announced their nominations, including a stuffed editorial cartoonist category: Chip Bok, Akron Beacon Journal; David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Steve Kelley, Times-Picayune; Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Jack Ohman, The Oregonian.
posted 11:50 pm PST | Permalink

Sacramento Bee Cuts Its Sunday Pages

imageIt's probably easy to make too much of this -- the Bee isn't a paper on the level of papers in San Jose, St. Paul or Houston when it comes to setting trends in comics -- but the Sacramento Bee is apparently cutting back its Sunday comics from eight to six pages, losing Amazing Spider-Man, Hagar the Horrible, Opus, Slylock Fox and the vacationing The Boondocks; moving into weekdays-only Bizarro, Garfield, Hi and Lois, and Rubes. Note that Opus is one of those to go, despite being new, as are Garfield and Hagar despite having huge client bases. Also, that can't be the reaction Boondocks reps were hoping for. The reason given, which is also sort of interesting, is the paper devoting energy to setting up a 24-hour on-line news desk.
posted 11:39 pm PST | Permalink

“I’m the Best There Is At What I Do… And What I Do Is Somewhat Naughty”

Panini Comics has announced a major expansion of its already-extensive deal with Marvel Comics to represent the company in the comics market throughout Europe and in some parts of South America. In addition to touting the general import of the deal, continuing the increasingly successful partnership between the two companies and expanding into new territories for more years, the press release mentions a few European-talent comics that should result -- including the studio behind W.I.T.C.H. on a Dr. Strange/X-Men team-up and Philippe Buchet on Wolverine. But this is the one that caught my eye:
"Una graphic-novel che vede protagonisti le ragazze del team X-Men, scritta dal leggendario autore degli X-Men, Chris Claremont e illustrata dal popolarissimo illustratore italiano Milo Manara."

Unless I'm totally goofing it, that's a graphic novel starring the female members of the X-Men to be written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Euro-comics softcore legend Milo Manara. For the uninitiated, Manara's best-known work combines a Blake Edwards-style, men-in-tuxedos, women-on-all-fours sensibility with drawings of women so extremely over the top in their Brigitte Bardot sensuality they're almost not human. Should be interesting!
posted 11:08 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Teddy Kristiansen Blog

posted 10:57 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Wires Pick Up on Lovely, Sad Sam Loeb Story
LOC Looks Into Digital Content Preservation
Survey of Editorial Cartooning From Manila
City Manager Fired, Editorial Cartoon Part of War?
Rick Stromoski to Toss First Ball at Cubs Game
Supplemental Article on Science Super-Hero Thing

Tokyopop, HarperCollins Reach Deal

The manga publisher Tokyopop has reached an agreement with book publishing giant HarperCollins that involves both publishing and distribution, it was announced yesterday. Included will be a new line of co-published manga titles drawing on the work of HarperCollins authors, the first of which looks to be Meg Cabot.

The deal gives HarperCollins entry into the manga market in a big way, and gives Tokyopop much-needed stability and greater market reach. Although strongly denied by the publisher, Tokyopop's long-term prospects had been questioned by some industry observers as 1) access to top Japanese licenses had shifted away from the publisher, 2) their original english-language manga program had yet to find a clear market identity or flagship, 3) there were occasional, noticeable staffing-level changes and supposed philosophical publishing disgreements made public at the Los Angeles-based company.

The new co-published line will debut in 2007, and may eventually include up to 24 books. The business operations will move to HarperCollins by mid-June, which apparently is the date of expiration of the recently-renewed deal between Tokyopop and Perseus/CDS.

This is the part where I'm supposed to launch into some big, blowzy speech about what it all means, but I think it's pretty obvious that this is a solidly-conceived, major deal where two companies (Tokyopop, HarperCollins) stand to benefit in a signficant way, and one company (Perseus/CDS) takes a hit. This doesn't have an effect on Diamond or the Direct Market that I can see this early in the morning, except 1) the indirect effect of having Tokyopop books be that much more widely available in ostensibly competing outlets and 2) the potential benefit of Tokyopop being able to spend more time managing their DM relationships as they let HarperCollins drive the bookstore car.

For further reading, try The Engine, Newsarama,,'s Interview with Mike Kiley and PWCW's write-up.
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Steadman to Receive 2006 Caniff Award


Ralph Steadman has been announced the winner of the Milton Caniff Award for Lifetime Achievement, given in conjunction with the Reuben Awards. The esteemed British illustrator will be honored at what has to be the only cartoonist gathering to require formal wear, the Reuben Awards Banquet held in conjunction with the National Cartoonists Society yearly meeting, scheduled for Chicago in late May.

In addition to the news about Steadman the Reubens have announced their 2006 slate of award nominees, both for the big award (cartoonist of the year aka "the Reuben") and the various division awards (best at specific aspect for the year, aka "a Reuben"). Nominees for the major award are Bill Amend (Fox Trot), Dave Coverly (Speed Bump), Brian Crane (Pickles), Mike Luckovich (editorial cartoonist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and Dan Piraro (Bizarro).

The nominations are additionally a good measure of the up and coming cartoonists held in high regard by their peers.

Advertising Illustration
Roy Doty
Jack Pittman
Kevin Pope

Animation Feature
Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit)
Craig Kellman (Madagascar)
Carlos Grangel (Corpse Bride)

Book Illustration
David Catrow
Laurie Keller
Ralph Steadman

Editorial Cartoons
Jim Borgman
Michael Ramirez
John Sherffius

Gag Cartoons
Pat Byrnes
Gary McCoy
Glenn McCoy

Greeting Cards
Dan Collins
Gary McCoy
Stan Makowski

Magazine Feature Magazine Illustration
Steve Brodner
CF Payne
Tom Richmond

Newspaper Illustration
Greg Cravens
Nick Galifanakis
Bob Rich

Newspaper Panels
Mark Parisi, Off The Mark
Hilary Price, Rhymes With Orange
Jerry Van Amerongen, Ballard Street

Newspaper Strips
Jim Borgman and Jerry Scott, Zits
Michael Fry and T. Lewis, Over The Hedge
Brooke McEldowney, 9 Chickweed Lane

No nominees were announced for the Television Animation and Comic Books categories.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Dupuis Creators Re-Pledge Support is among those news sources carrying a second letter from 113 Dupuis creators, dated March 27, pledging support to the editors at the company in their efforts to negotiate a greater sense of independence and autonomy from the rest of Media-Participations' holdings. This on the heels of key editors being let go from the company. I can't even imagine how weirdly insane this would be were such a crisis among editorial/creative to take place with an American mainstream publisher, although I also can't imagine any circumstance where that would be a remote possibility.

As always, I could be misreading this as mon francais est tres sucky, although generally some French-speaking CR reader jumps on here with a correction if that's the case.
posted 12:34 am PST | Permalink

2/3 Papers Pass on Boondocks Re-Runs

imageAs if reading the projected hopes and desires of a hundred fevered circulation-news junkies, Editor & Publisher went after and got the figure everyone wanted: how many of Boondocks' newspaper clients were going to go with a re-run package while creator Aaron McGruder took a six-month leave of absence from the strip. The answer -- not many, less than a third. This is big news because all of the sudden 200 slots opened up for at least a temporary run by various comic strips, and also because it serves as a measure of how competitive the market is -- this wasn't quite the case when Garry Trudeau and Bill Watterson took their breaks, plus each had many more clients -- and may even give a hint as to whether or not Boondocks will have the same market position when McGruder makes his planned return.
posted 12:20 am PST | Permalink

March 27, 2006

Not Comics: Make Mine Mercedes

Stan Lee is selling his 1987 Mercedes Benz 420 SEL Touring Sedan, and it sounds like a good buy.
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

Isn’t John Kerschbaum Great?

posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
F Minus Gets Call Up to the Bigs
On-Line Comics as Targeted Marketing
Edge City Prepares Special Run for Passover
Dover International Creates Specialty Comic
Manga's Popularity Alters International Studies

Comics Registry: Ollie Harrington

Oliver Harrington, a giant of American cartooning, has been added to The Comics Registry.
posted 3:08 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: LA Times on Superhero™

posted 3:55 am PST | Permalink

Rave Shooting Claims Former Retailer?

According to a story developing in Albany, New York media sources, one of the victims of a horrific afterparty shooting in Seattle was according to the family a former comics retailer in Ann Arbor named Jason Travers: "The family says Jason Travers was an Albany High School graduate who left the area years ago and opened a comic book store in Ann Arbor, Michigan before moving to Seattle." Details of the afterparty shooting here.
posted 12:14 am PST | Permalink

Frazz Nears Fifth Anniversary


This just makes me feel old, as do all strip anniversaries, but it's worth noting Jef Mallet's strip -- perhaps best known for the surface resemblance of its art to Bill Watterson's -- is in 150 newspapers. This is a solid, comfortable number although not enough to make the feature a big hit unless the profile of papers carrying it skews to the gigantic. Still, that's more than enough clients for one to expect the feature to be around through a standard 10-year contract.
posted 12:03 am PST | Permalink

March 26, 2006

Go, Read: Otto Messmer Profile

It's fairly straight-forward and dry, but I enjoyed this profile of Otto Messmer for its blending of animation and comics history, which is probably closer to the way Messmer experienced it.
posted 11:53 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jean Claude Götting

posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Call For Papers on Editorial Cartooning

Received the following from Kent Worcester:
The State of the Editorial Cartoon: A Call for Papers

Proposal Deadline: June 1, 2006

Paper Deadline: September 1, 2006

For publication: January 2007

The editors of PS: Political Science and Politics invite contributions to a symposium on the state of the editorial cartoon. The symposium will examine the current condition of editorial cartooning, with an emphasis on daily newspaper editorial cartoons but encompassing politically minded weekly newspaper cartoons, magazine cartoons, comic strips, and web comics. The editors invite informed essays that advance our empirical, historical, and theoretical appreciation for editorial cartoons as art, politics, and culture.

Recent protests over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad are only partly about the cartoons themselves, of course. These protests nevertheless speak to the power of illustrated commentary, in an age of global communication networks, to catalyze debate and controversy.

This symposium will survey editorial cartooning in a variety of cultural, institutional, and national contexts. Political scientists have had relatively little to say about the history, form, ideology, and political economy of editorial cartooning. This symposium will bring together political scientists and other scholars to help situate editorial cartooning in relation to political communication, expression, and conflict.

Contributions to the symposium can address a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to: the work of individual cartoonists; historical traditions in editorial cartooning; cartoonists and political institutions, from local government to the executive branch; cartooning, protest, and ideology; the economics of the editorial cartoon; censorship and propaganda; the emergence of web comics; politically minded comic strips; the impact of cartoons on campaigns and campaigning; editorial cartooning in a comparative context.

The editors invite submissions that range from 8-12 double-spaced pages. Submission guidelines to PS can be found at

Send proposals and inquiries (email preferred) to Professor Kent Worcester, Department of Political Science, Marymount Manhattan College, 221 East 71 Street, New York, NY 10021 USA. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

1) That seemed a lot shorter when it was in my e-mail.
2) That's exactly how it was sent to me, even though it looks like there may be a web site address missing.
posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Live Action Simpsons, the Prequel
Missed It: Naruto V9: Five Weeks on Chart
Not Comics: Travel Writer Hits Tintin Trail
Nick Anderson Exhibit at University of Toledo
Local Comic Shop Owner Profile: Rob Hobart
Webcomics and Money Panel Report From SXSW

March 25, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

An Interview With Buzz Dixon


Go, Listen: Rory Root Interviewed


Go, Look: 1972 Stan Lee Profile


A really interesting article driven by Steve Lemberg's once-upon-a-time purchase of all rights to Marvel characters, with information gathered right before the train wreck that was Stan Lee's evening at Carnegie Hall. Dennis Wilson as Silver Surfer!

Re-Designed Superheroes


The OCLC Numbers

From Justin Colussy-Estes:
Here's a list of the Online Computer Library Center's (OCLC) top 1000 books held by its library-members. I assume this is particular to the English language (and it seems skewed American as well).

Click here

Looking at it from a comics perspective, I don't know what to make of this. The first comics entry I found incredibly depressing, both for what it is (Garfield) and it's high placement (15, just ahead of Tom Sawyer, Macbeth, and Gulliver's Travels). However, the next comics entries (Peanuts at 69, Calvin & Hobbes at 77, Doonesbury at 115 I think?) left me feeling better about the universe. No other comics entries until Dilbert at 399. I didn't have the patience to go through the list more than that. A quick "find" search tells me Maus (what I assume to be the most likely GN) is a no-show. A similar search for Naruto and Dragonball (the two most likely, by my random, 2am estimation, manga) and Asterix and Tintin (ditto, only European albums) shows nada.

If anyone has taken a closer look, I'd love to hear from them.

Supernatural Law Tweaks Rall vs. Coulter


Initial Thought of the Day

When the comics start being a factor in life decisions, it's time to get rid of the comics.
posted 10:25 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review

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

image1. Fairly big week of Danish cartoon controversy news, including a canceled trip by PM Rasmussen, Pakistan banning web sites and vowing to pursue international action against web sites that carry images of Muhammed, and an imminent UN report leaked.

2. Editorial-driven unrest at Dupuis gets worse and involves more people; negotiations off to tentative start.

3. (Three-Way Tie) a. The Montreal BD-focused store Fichtre to start publishing, making for another potential boutique publisher among many that have sprung up and/or become more active in the last 24-30 months. b. Seattle's Confounded Books announces its closure, throwing spotlight on how Seattle has never had that one major art comics-heavy comics shop of the kind people talk about in hushed tones. c. DC Comics cancels single-creator anthology title Solo, drawing attention to increased rigidity in market and difficulty of certain projects at mainstream publishers.

Winners of the Week
Japanese bookstores.

Loser of the Week
Fans of the showcase provided to deserving artists by the seemingly now-cancelled title Solo.

Quote of the Week
"I'm a paranoid type, so as soon as it was 'discovered' that Pascual Ferry would be leaving Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle following the first issue because he signed an exclusive contract with Marvel, I wondered if Marvel was fucking with Grant Morrison. " -- Chris Butcher, unpacking a conspiracy theory. Comics needs way more conspiracy theories. They're fun!

Pakistan's order banning certain web sites
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

If I Were In Los Angeles Today…


... I would go to this for sure.
posted 2:07 am PST | Permalink


So of course I forgot to post this. The cool thing is that after the weekend I'll back date and delete stuff so it's like I never screwed up. Needed: software like this for my life.
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

March 24, 2006

Fichtre Moves Into Publishing

Sequential's Bryan Munn is reporting word on the boards that Montreal's great BD-focused store Fichtre is moving into the publishing business, starting with La Muse Recursive by David Turgeon. In "energy is neither created nor destroyed just changed" news, they also mention a small publisher that has passed on.
posted 2:23 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Arthur Suydam Galleries

posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Dupuis Situation Gets Crazier

According to this article at, it looks like the confrontation between the publisher Dupuis and their still sort of relatively new owner Media-Participation has gone beyond a clash of editorial and publishign culture and extended down into involving a strike and a gathering of the publisher's prominent authors. Also, it seems as if a settlement of certain demands is being discussed, which is different than the "we want to buy it back, but you know, at cost" ploy that shimmied to the surface in reports a week ago.
posted 1:48 am PST | Permalink

Solo to End With Issue #12?

imageSolo, the well-regarded DC Comics title that showcases an artist an issue and includes a lot of rare short-story work featuring various corners of the DC Comics Universe and beyond, looks to be ending with issue #12. The writer Warren Ellis lays it out here at his The Engine site. Although that looks like unconfirmed stuff, and you never know, the title looks pretty dead based on those statements.

And that would be too bad. I liked the series enough to put it into my top 50 for 2005 at #41 -- they had done a nice job selecting artists both in terms of skill and in terms of picking enough artists whose natural interest lie in superheroes that so many stories featuring them seemed natural instead of forced. Plus they had a lot of short stories, which almost no one does in mainstream comics anymore but may be the kind of story that best suits a lot of that material. There are sales figures here, which don't look too bad considering the price point. But there are all sorts of easy-to-parse mitigating circumstances: high production costs, a pain to assemble from an artist given other gigs and assignments, page rates mitigating any price point boost, how unnatural it is for DC to work with a comic that might sell months and months later (according to my own experience, issues of the comic were hard to find), and the fact that many good artists suited for such a title have small or non-existing natural fan bases.

Ellis also wrote that the last issue will feature Brendan McCarthy.
posted 1:47 am PST | Permalink

Lutefisk Sushi Honors Ken Avidor


The show begins its second year tonight at Creative Electric Studios in Minneapolis. Click through the image to the entertaining web site. More comics in a box for Bart Beaty!
posted 1:22 am PST | Permalink Musicland Bid Approved

The business news and analysis site has been all over the Musicland bankruptcy story from its beginning, and now reports that the Trans World bid has been accepted by court. This makes likely liquidation of some stores, and potential product lines being called into question. suggests that one set of stores owned by the troubled company had up to 10 percent of the national manga market.
posted 1:19 am PST | Permalink

The 5th and 6th Great Comics of ‘06


Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, Fanfare/Ponent Mon, as reviewed at Jog the Blog.


"The Great Outdoor Fight,", as reviewed by Eric Burns at If nothing else, it's given us the funniest list since this one.
posted 12:58 am PST | Permalink

Anti-Morrison Conspiracy Theory?

Chris Butcher notes something in common about a lot of recent exclusive-to-Marvel deals and Marvel hirings. I'm not sure what he's suggesting is likely, but I like the thinking behind it.
posted 12:50 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Blanquet Show Opening


It looks like the show already started, but the party is yet to come. Better yet, you can get to a pretty spiffy Blanquet web site through the image above, including galleries and the like.
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Abel and Madden Saturday Night at Rocketship
CulturePulp on Spiegelman Oregon Appearance
Zak Sally Announces Ambitious April Tour
Von Sholly's Comic Book Nerd Launches With Preview

March 23, 2006

Masters Show Touring PR Begins

The schedule for the road portion of LA's Masters of American Comics exhibit looks like Milwaukee, New Jersey, and New York thus far. This piece is also interesting for Brian Walker's shot at the 1990 High and Low exhibit. The notion that Walker was more behind including modern strips than the other show organizers agains raises its head, in a way it looks like that might become a recurring portion of the publicity push, city to city.
posted 2:01 am PST | Permalink

BC Complaint Not Involving Religion


CR Reader MD Lewis writes in:
I can't find Johnny Hart's email address so thought I would send this to you.

In case anyone noticed, there are 6 outs per baseball inning. Thus, the maximum number of strikes per inning are 18 and the maximum number of strikes in a standard 9 inning game would be 162.

Somebody should advise Johnny Hart of his mistake?

I not only like this letter, I was also freaked out in a minor Da Vinci Code way in that there are 162 games on a major league schedule. Plus Wiley was my favorite when I read a lot of B.C.

Hey, has anyone ever noticed that the B.C. characters have appeared on more glassware than just about any comic strip characters ever? It seems that way, anyway.
posted 1:49 am PST | Permalink

Japanese Bookstore as Manga Haven

Here's a sample article from a wider story that gets reported intermittently -- the boost that Japanese bookstores in urban centers have received from kids' interest in manga. It's not a new thing -- older comics fans can tell you about buying untranslated manga at strange locations years and years ago -- but it seems much more well-scrubbed now.
posted 1:34 am PST | Permalink

Previews: Geniuses, Chickens, Musicians





posted 12:57 am PST | Permalink

Confounded Books Closing Details

I missed the initial announcement, but this longer piece by Matt Silvie gives details on the closure of Seattle's Confounded Books, a prominent retailer for art and alternative comix in that city. Seattle's always been slightly weird in that despite a heavy art comics cartoonist presence a Meltdown or a Chicago Comics has never developed to be that acknowledged top of the line comics retail presence. Instead, comics buying was split between an intermittent but solid presence in bookstores (which if nothing else led to signings being held in such locations), the more traditional comics retailer Zanadu, and a couple of smaller stores (Fallout, then Confounded) with a definite side interest (music and movies, respectively) present. I have no idea why this is.
posted 12:40 am PST | Permalink

Illustrated Daily Scribble Ends


Editor & Publisher has word that Charles Fincher will be ending his Illustrated Daily Scribble, an interesting attempt to do use editorial-style cartoons in the manner of an act-and-react blog rather than a compilation filtered through a newspaper editor's yes/no stamps. Fincher cites the relentless monotony in rhetoric from the current major political actors as a deciding factor.
posted 12:13 am PST | Permalink

March 22, 2006

Quick hits
Philly Inquirer Reviews Abel, Fies
Astro Boy to Hit National Gallery at Victoria
Jon Suter Makes Strip Donation to OK Library
Boondocks' Grandad Popular at
Rise of Graphic Novels, Movies and Comics, Etc.
Teshkeel, Archie Make Deal for Arabic-Language Works

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 6:55 am PST | Permalink

Your Irregular Danish Cartoons Update


* The following are a few signficant items related to the worldwide violence and political turmoil that can be traced back to the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed last Fall by Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

* Only one signficiant item this time, and one that should have been up on Monday. Boing Boing has a succinct, solid write-up on Pakistan banning access to blogs that host caricatures of depicting the Prophet Muhammed, including efforts like the webcomic "Jesus and Mo." (above) Those sites were deemed "intellectual terrorism" and according to the piece the Pakistani government plans to pursue legal measures against them internationally.

* The Brussels Journal is breaking news of the U.N. report on the matter, not officially released.

* Two resignations: the Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds; a Church in Wales magazine editor.

* I can't tell if this one is significant or not: Prince Charles speaks out in Cairo.

* What does Billy Bragg think about all this?
posted 3:17 am PST | Permalink

When Euro-Nerds Divorce…

imageA divorce gets ugly with a 1948 Donald Duck comic, or as it seems to be known in Sweden, Kalle Anka, at its center. I have absolutely nothing to add to this story, but thought it was amusing enough to mention. Given the mainstream status of Disney comics and the money involved, this isn't really even a nerd culture thing, necessarily. You know, you often hear of craziness involving comics and marriage, such as stories involving limits negotiated as to how many comics can be kept and how they can be displayed, but as more and more women return to reading comics I imagine divorce-settlement collection splits are something we'll start to see more frequently, and not based on Overstreet value alone.

I have no idea if this is the right comic book, but it is from 1948.
posted 2:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Jessica Abel Profile

In the Village Voice.
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink

Big Top’s Rob Harrell Set to Return


CBS News has a nice feature up related to last evening's broadcast story on the cartoonist Rob Harrell using fill-ins on his Big Top strip as he recovers from cancer-related surgery. I have to admit I've heard a few thoughts from fans noting things like the short length of time Harrell has been gone and questioning the purity of the publicity angle here, which can't be the effect they were going for. I disagree, I actually think it's a nice story, and strips like Harrell's that are not exactly dominating in terms of national saturation really can't afford short breaks for whatever reason. Editor and Publisher has Harrell returning Wednesday; since the above is from Tom Wilson, Jr. I think they mean next Wednesday.
posted 2:17 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Six-Page Preview of Gilbert Hernandez’s DC/Vertigo OGN Sloth

Over at Newsarama.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

March 21, 2006

Quick hits
Isotope Comics Preview: Blurred Vision
Comic Book Explains Copyright Law
Baldo Exposes Latin Lotto Scam
Comics Suggestions for Oprah's Book Club
Viz Plans Big Things for Bleach
Jerry Dumas: 50 Years a Gag Man

Go, Read: NYRoB Takes on R Crumb


thanks, Paul
posted 2:29 am PST | Permalink

Gerald Scarfe Wins British Press Award


Gerald Scarfe was named cartoonist of the year in the British Press Awards, given out last night at the Dorchester Hotel in London. Actually, you'll have to trust me on that, because I can no longer find the article that lists Scarfe as the winner. Scarfe received his award for his work with the Sunday Times. Jon Snow was host of the juried awards, where that great tabloid "Harry the Nazi" cover also won a prize.

self-portrait definitely not from the Times
posted 1:26 am PST | Permalink

Love Manga: February DM Sales

It's always worth checking in on Love Manga's chart and analysis regarding what manga sold in the Direct Market in any given month. The conventional wisdom that applies here is 1) Dark Horse is much more of a player than they are in bookstores, 2) the sales mix tends to be adventure manga with various top of the line series, and 3) no one is blown away by the numbers, but no one is going to look down at a few thousand non-returnable sales at that price point, either.
posted 1:13 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Girl Stories Promo Site

posted 12:56 am PST | Permalink

Go… Read? Listen to? Clay Bennett

I couldn't get the stuff at the link to open, but if you can I imagine it would be worth experiencing Association of American Editorial Cartoonists president Clay Bennett speak about the profession and what looks like one of his favorite issues, Sunshine Week.
posted 12:51 am PST | Permalink

Doonesbury Sunday Speaks Out?


This article at Editor and Publisher seems to be saying that Sunday's Doonesbury engaged the subject of impeachment despite many newspapers being hesitant to bring the subject up at all in prose pieces. I don't know enough about the media coverage on this particular subject to be able to say off the top of my head this is true or it isn't true, but it's the first I'd heard of such a reluctance.
posted 12:48 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Sterling’s Favorite Covers


The prominent blogger, columnist and comics retailer Mike Sterling has posted his favorite comics covers after readers of CR did theirs a week or so ago. His selection represents an aesthetic so completely divorced from my own, but still very fun, that I enjoyed checking out the results.
posted 12:27 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: The Artist Within

I've wondered a few times in the past why someone didn't do a book of cartoonists photographed in their studios -- I would like to own such a book. Now I find out through Mark Evanier that Dark Horse will release such a book this summer, The Artist Within, by a photographer named Greg Preston, whom I'm guessing is this Greg Preston.

"Off the Beaten Path" is hardly a designation that describes Dark Horse, but I have a feeling a book of photography from Dark Horse released in the middle of summer has as much of a chance to be lost in the crowd as a big book from any micro-publisher.
posted 12:18 am PST | Permalink

March 20, 2006

Quick hits
Not Comics: Santa Inoue Film Adaptation
And Stop Calling Me True Believer
Kirkman Happy for Baby Blues Mark, Too
It's Rising Stars of Manga Time

This is Probably Way Late, Sorry

But if you're in London I can't imagine anything better than attending this event, featuring Anke Feuchtenberger and Stefano Ricci.
posted 1:47 am PST | Permalink February DM Sales Figures


The comics business news and analysis site has released its usual high-quality barrage of articles about the month just past in Direct Market comics sales, of which this site is a big fan.

Top 300 Comic Books
Top 100 Trades

The thing that jumps out at me is that DC seems to be doing pretty well with it top comic books, usually a place they struggle in the face of the best comics in the Marvel empire.

For no reason, I like to make my own goofy charts, which I then use to explain the Direct Market in a loud voice to my pets. One thing I like to do is track how many comics are selling over certain sales points, and then compare to the charts from one and three years ago.

How Many Comics Sell This Much?
(2006, 2005, 2003)
150,000+ -- 0, 0, 0
125,000+ -- 1, 2, 1
100,000+ -- 4, 6, 4
90,000+ -- 6, 7, 6
80,000+ -- 9, 14, 8
70,000+ -- 18, 17, 8
60,000+ -- 23, 20, 12
50,000+ -- 32, 27, 19
25,000+ -- 83, 79, 67
10,000+ -- 161, 153, 161
5,000+ -- 203, 198, 206

This would seem to indicate that there's a growth in the mid-range, which Mr. Rascal points out is pretty much counter to the conventional wisdom that all the growth is happening up top in a way that cuts into the sales on lower-selling books.

A trade that did well last month
posted 12:59 am PST | Permalink

Your Irregular Danish Cartoons Update

* These are updates regarding the year's biggest comics story, a wave of violence and political turmoil that can be traced back to the publication of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed in Denmark's newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

* Political aftershocks remain, the kind that might wake you up at night but not the kind you'd call your parents in Missouri and tell them to turn on CNN. The Supreme Court in New Delhi dismissed charges against Uttar Pradesh Minister Haji Yaqoob Quereshi, a government official who jumped on the reward bandwagon for anyone who would kill an offending cartoonist. Denmark PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been asked to delay a trip to India because of the lingering political stink.

* Some prominent figures are just getting around to making an initial statement.

* I always wanted to start a magazine called Hateful Republican. There's really no point there. I'm just sharing.

* American newspapers are still trying to piece together what happened and why -- here's the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

* It looks like the lingering effect may be best felt on college campuses, where it's bound to come up in seminars and the like through Spring semester at least. Scholars are generally adjusting their presentations to engage the issue. The strongest English-language summary piece I've seen from a muslim standpoint in a while can be found here, riffing on a conference on the matter at Tufts.

* I wonder where Capitalism Magazine stands? Wait, no I don't.

* Art Spiegelman has joined the jury of the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest, which has finished its first stage.
posted 12:36 am PST | Permalink

Canadian Newspaper Award Finalists

imageThe finalists for the 2005 version of Canada's National Newspaper Awards have been announced, according to this item from Bryan Munn's Sequential blog. Nominees in the editorial cartoonists' category are Serge Chapleau (La Presse), Brian Gable (The Globe and Mail), and Bruce MacKinnon (Halifax Chronicle-Herald). Chapleau has won the award five times.

a Chapleau caricature from 2005
posted 12:23 am PST | Permalink

Were Many Ports Issue Cartoons Racist?

With editorial cartoons existing at the intersection of pop culture and political culture, something like this article seems to appear every time there's an issue that cartoonists cover by drawing on traditional, stereotypical imagery. This particular article is better argued than most, and although I fail to feel for the issue as only a middle-aged white male can fail to feel for such an issue, it's worth exposing yourself to the argument.
posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Mark Newgarden Profile

posted 12:02 am PST | Permalink

March 19, 2006

Collective Memory: Wizard World LA

Links to the major convention from the weekend just past, the only major comics convention in Los Angeles and a very mainstream American comic books-focused affair.

Probably the oddest news of the show was the announcement of a Jack Kirby title coming out from Marvel, which I'm sure will strike some people as very, very wrong.
posted 11:59 pm PST | Permalink

Missed It: Kazuo Koike Interview

posted 11:57 pm PST | Permalink

Comics Registry: Tony Fitzpatrick

The actor, poet and painter Tony Fitzpatrick has been added to The Comics Registry.
posted 11:56 pm PST | Permalink

Eagle Awards Ballot in Word

imageI seem to remember a designation for these British fan-type awards appearing on the cover of X-Men comic books I bought at my local Marsh Supermarket in the late 1970s, although I also seem to remember them popping back up a couple of years ago to give away some more awards. Did they go away for a while? I have no idea. At any rate, if you're a comics award voting fool you may click on this


to download a ballot. That ballot has instructions on it as to who can use it and where it needs to go. I think you may be required to vote for Terry Austin, I'm not sure.
posted 11:45 pm PST | Permalink

Congratulations, Jordan and Michele…

... on the occasion of the birth of their daughter Mirabel. I'm thinking five years before she starts being able to do code for this site.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Scott Rosenberg's Advice For Life
British Strip Trades Ad for Color
Dr. Seuss Exhibit Still Making Rounds Looks at Alan Moore's 1963
Comic Books are Cancertastic
UK Rare Comics Auction Site Launches
Sam Leith in Praise of Alan Moore
Crock Drafts Female Recruit


CR Sunday Magazine

Better Late Than Never: The Comics Reporter's Top 50 Comics for 2005!


Did Peter Maresca's surprise hit collection come in as CR's number one? Has a nerdier sentence ever been offered up in the hopes of drumming up cheap suspense?

Dear Mr. Hibbs

Brian Hibbs makes a lot of good points in this latest edition of his "Tilting at Windmills" column at Newsarama, but I'm not sure it's as complete a debunking of conventional wisdom in the Direct Market as the article asserts. Basically, Hibbs takes on two pieces of independent comics griping -- that Marvel and DC crowd independents off the shelf and that the Direct Market is only interested in superheroes. He debunks the first by comparing the growth between Marvel/DC books and independent books from 1989 to today. He debunks the second by arguing a) the DM is actually primarily interested in the Marvel/DC universes and that the dominance of superhero books is limited to initial order of pamphlet-style comic books on a non-returnable basis.

The details of the second notion debunked I think is more about rhetorical ploys on Hibbs' part than engagement with the details. He seems to me splitting hairs (if you're trying to enter a market with cake, do you really care if ice cream dominates with two flavors or 37?), loading his arguments (the initial order pamphlet comics receive is vitally important to many types of comics publishing strategies) and limiting his sample to the market at this exact moment in time (a conservative market that obviously favors those companies with greater brand awareness). The thing is, I actually agree with Hibbs there's no excuse to whine about this state of affairs and not to set your mind to marketing yourself according to the facts on hand, even if we have different pictures as to how the market got there.

Still, the first notion about Marvel and DC crowding out books? I do think this is important, and I disagree with Hibbs' argument on several levels.

To begin with a side point, Hibbs starts with 1989 as a baseline as it was his first year in retail. The problem with this is I thought 1989 sucked for non-mainstream comics, too. So if you were to make a straight comparison between 1989 and 2006, seeing mainstream comics at roughly the same level of output as 1989 wouldn't be a reassuring notion, it would be one for alarm.

However, my main point is I don't think showing growth on two different tracks is anywhere near proof that overproduction by DC and Marvel has failed to be a factor on independent comics reaching their potential market.

First, you can't compare markets in two different periods according to number of titles. The market fluctuates. Different market periods sustain different outputs with different levels of effectiveness. And remember: the argument has never been as simple as a sheer publication overload (although maybe Marvel can be accused of this in the early '90s) but that certain publishers are making more comics than the market will allow to be profitable in order to boost market share. This is key.

Some markets will support 105 profitable mainstream comics, but some may only support 90. Once we understand that, we see that what's bad isn't that Marvel and DC are making a lot of money with x-number of super-profitable titles and thus keeping some teenager's Conan rip-off from selling an extra 80 issues but the suspicion that mainstream producing titles that aren't profitable by doing so lock retailers into restrictive buying patterns that keep them from making any distinctions at the lower end of the market.

Second, the mechanism at work is important, in that Marvel and DC are able to use the brand leverage Hibbs talks about in another point in the article to wedge themselves into place in a way that can make 10 more Marvel and DC comics -- comics the average retailer probably can't outright ignore -- a greater challenge to market diversity than 200 more independent comics -- comics that can be safely ignored just as easily when there are 200 as when there are 20.

Third, potential overproduction must be seen as part of a wider culture of market dominance. I've been to retailer meetings in Brian's 17-year window where Marvel and DC reps have outright suggested carrying more Marvel and DC product at the expense of independent stuff, and I bet -- although there's no way I'm doing math on a Sunday morning -- that the financial incentives offered support this as well.

Brian's most realistic assertion, that the culture of comics retail means a significant percentage of people won't order this stuff no matter what, that's a sad fact of comics retail that those that know better should work against, not tacitly support, even if the point of view has a 17-year head start. No one except the random squirrelly independent comics maven argues the old saw of being granted equal access to the Direct Market because of some "right," they argue that they'd like to see a greater presence in the Direct Market because they believe their stuff will sell there, often because they've enjoyed sales elsewhere -- even when it was loudly suggested this wasn't possible. Overproduction isn't about keeping the bottom 200 out, but about creating a stagnant sales culture that discourages people from being able to make significant choices past "Marvel/DC" and "that other stuff."

Go, Look: Mutts Title Images


Here's something I saw for the first time while looking for art to illustrate Patrick McDonnell's 50th birthday greeting: a portion of the Mutts web site devoted to the title image parodies the cartoonist does, which may or may not appear in most papers depending on which configuration is carried by most clients. Anyway, what's nice is that you can click through the McDonnell image for the inspiration image.

First Thought of the Day

For some reason, I woke up this morning determined to store all of my mini-comics in a large wicker basket.
posted 12:56 am PST | Permalink

March 18, 2006

CR Week In Review

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

1. declares troubled distributor FM International quite dead, based on statements from those working with the company, the lack of a phone number, the lack of a web site. Wayne Markley says they're not officially dead yet.

2. Ed Stein wins John Frischetti Award for Katrina cartoon.

3. Bethesda's Small Press Expo announces 2006 dates, and change in venue from Holiday Inn.

imageWinner of the Week
Teshkeel Media, releasing their first Marvel comic (a Spider-Man book) into the Arabic-language market.

Loser of the Week
Editorial culture at Dupuis, chafing under its Media-Participations deal.

Quote of the Week
"I'll have a lot more to say on the subject in the next couple of days, but I want to make one thing absolutely clear right now: I do not in any way blame DC for the book's failure, and neither should you. In fact, shortly after getting the unhappy news, I called both Paul Levitz and Dan DiDio to thank them for supporting the series as long as they did. They were proud of the book and wanted it to succeed." -- the writer Steve Gerber on the cancellation of his Hard Time series, the last survivor of one of those mini-line launches that mainstream comic book companies still seem to try every few years or so.

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Results for This Week's Five For Friday, "Name Five Cartoonists You Discovered On Your Own," have been posted here. Thanks to everyone that participated.

The next Five For Friday will be posted on the morning of the 24th.
posted 1:07 am PST | Permalink

March 17, 2006

“A Blip That’s Changed the World”

I'm not sure how I missed Steven Heller's talk with Signe Wilkinson at, but if you did, too, you should go and read it when you get the chance. You'll feel smarter when you're done. The Philadelphia-based editorial cartoonist knows a thing or fifty about doing cartoons that cause people to react with anger, and she and Heller wade into the issues surrounding this year's troubling cartoon controversies with very little in the way of overt political agenda or self-aggrandizement to drag them down.
posted 2:40 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Kianoosh Ramezani Q&A


Iranian cartoonist Kianoosh Ramezani sits down for a brief, informal chat with Mike Peters of the Dallas Morning News, a piece that was syndicated heavily the last two days. Ramezani comes across as extremely nice and slightly -- but understandably -- melancholy on a specific issue or two.
posted 2:21 am PST | Permalink

SPX Updates With 2006 Plans

imageMoving past the "telling Heidi MacDonald about it at New York Comic-Con" model of getting the word out, Small Press Expo has updated its web site with this year's convention dates (mid-October) and location (I believe a hotel adjacent to that new convention thingamabob they've been building for years). For the uninitiated, SPX is a prominent show devoted to smaller presses and self-publishers, meaning very few costumes and no retailers selling back issues. It has its own awards (The Ignatzes) and its own representative anthology (the art in this entry is last year's cover by Brian Ralph). SPX's thrust puts a great emphasis on handmade comics and little-seen items, and is therefore much more relaxed and social and art-focused than many cons. We used to kiddingly call it "Camp McCloud" as a reflection of Scott McCloud's giddy enthusiasm for new comics and talk of same. It's definitely worth visiting if you're in the general area.
posted 1:54 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Jamie S. Rich on Genre

A subject of seemingly endless fascination to a certain subset of comics fans, Jamie S. Rich talks about genre and expectations while filling in for Chris Allen on his "Breakdowns" feature at Comic Book Galaxy.
posted 1:52 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Best First Line to An Article Ever
Local Maybe Someday a Cartoonist Profile: Chevy Bray
Even Milford High Fans Hate Matt Millen
I'd Say Most Viz Features are High Art Already
The Way Comics Are Today, Aren't You Slightly Worried When You Hear About a Contest Winner Appearing in One?

March 16, 2006

This Marmaduke Joke Grosses Me Out


On the other hand, the fact that three of you went to the same place I did and sent me a link, I find that strangely comforting.
posted 3:09 am PST | Permalink

Teshkeel Releases First Comic Book

That comic? Spider-Man. Expansion into the Arabic and Indian markets should be one of the biggest international comics stories for the next few years.
posted 2:29 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Shary Flenniken Profile


Click through the above image to access a neighborhood paper profile. Flenniken also has the beginnings of a web site here. Is there a more anticipated potential collection out there than a complete Trots and Bonnie?
posted 2:23 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Naruto Holds Strong at #48

I totally spaced on this week's USA Today Top 150 list, where we learned last week of Naruto Volume 9's highest-manga-placement-ever at #29 (someone asked me if any cartoonists had placed higher, and I know at least Bill Watterson has). Anyway, the Naruto volume in question held in the top 50.
posted 2:09 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Alan Moore Interview

Heidi MacDonald is putting the bulk of an interview with Alan Moore up on her site starting here, a small portion of which was intended for magazine publication elsewhere. Moore is almost always interesting and usually funny, although I'm generally confused by the implication that Moore's disagreements with DC Comics need context and explanation. Moore's take on his mistreatment and the exploitation of his work and name has always sounded reasonable and straight-forward to me, and his requests and actions proportional in response.
posted 1:31 am PST | Permalink

Superman Movie Tie-In Comics Planned

This press release provides details on four books DC Comics is doing in conjunction with this summer's Superman Returns movie, which may interest those of you out there that like to track things like corporate positioning and cross-platform cooperation. The only thing that pops out at me is an inference I'm making that the movie might be about what Superman means while the first one seemed to be about the more visceral thrill of believing a man could fly. That sounds sort of ponderous. Does anyone know if he beats up a robot or something?
posted 1:08 am PST | Permalink

A Different Kind of Comics Film

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Potential Sign World Is Ending
Spiegelman Part of Neo-Sincerity Exhibit
North Miami Beach Crime Report
LA Times Probes Wizard World's Specific Appeal

March 15, 2006

Ed Stein Wins John Fischetti Award


The Rocky Mountain News editorial cartoonist Ed Stein has won the John Fischetti Award for editorial cartooning for the year 2006, for the drawing above related to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrinia that appeared in the paper September 10. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists site has a longer story.

I swear there weren't this many awards last year.
posted 2:19 am PST | Permalink

“You’ll Be Stone Dead In a Moment”

I thought there was a 40-50 percent chance that FM International's Wayne Markley would stick his head out of CBG's carefully-constructed wheelbarrow and declare his company not dead yet, and lo and behold, there he is on PWCW making that very claim. Certainly without a web site or a phone number, FM isn't functioning right now, and PWCW's quick approximation of debt the distributor likely bears from just two semi-sizeable clients -- plus however many more feet there are to FM's hole from all the clients owed lesser amounts -- make a recovery in the sense any of us would think of the company getting back up off the mat and resuming business so unlikely the most desperate British bookie would pass on posting odds. While no one's flipped the light switch yet on their way out the door, at this point the power's been turned off so I'm not sure the direction of the lightswitch really matters to anyone except Markley.

Again, I would suggest that the broader story that will develop here isn't the symbolic one about Diamond's dominance of the Direct Market, but the more fundamental issue of the loss of specific services provided to specific stores by FM and what that means to the overal fabric of how the DM works.
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink

New Books to Look Forward To

imageDC has released plans for more books in its Absolute series, a format/approach about which I have mixed feelings -- and not the good kind of mixed feelings where you take conflicting messages and hold them both in equal standing because both have validity, but the kind of mixed feelings where you're just confused and have a dumb look on your face because you haven't sorted things out yet.

Here's the deal. On the one hand, I think under-one-cover books are important for the next step in backlist as a core category in comics retail. Logic dictates that limited shelf space and an explosion of titles would make one-book offerings a way to 1) maximize shelf space with one cover to show instead of 11 volumes' worth or whatever, and 2) make some perennial comics easier to find and access, because there's no longer an intimidating explanation that precedes a newbie's purchase about which volumes start what and which is the best to read first and all that.

On the other hand, I'm kind of confused how the more collector-style elements of these Absolute books might make titles less suitable for easy shelving in the long term, and/or mitigate against the "You want Title X? Well here it is!" [THUMP] simplicity of dedicating a title to a single format over time. I'm not sure every book has or will return the value to the same extent as the other books, either, in a way that makes me think there may be another re-packaging at a future date. This seems a potential waste of resources, less The Complete Calvin and Hobbes than that (admittedly cool but hardly a bookstore staple) Monster Society of Evil book from years back. Or some vaguely dissatisfying mix of the two.

In other news, and to explain the art above, I seem to be physically incapable of drawing attention to a story a month or so old by now, that Vertical is going to do a version of Osamu Tezuka's Ode to Kirihito. Kind of a news-stutter. So it's good to finally have that out.
posted 1:24 am PST | Permalink

Massive Dissatisfaction at Dupuis?

This article at seems more like a list of articles to be written rather than an article in itself, but the gist seems to be that the departure of Dimitri Kennes has thrown into relief a general feeling of dissatisfaction by that company's editorial culture with the arrangement they have with Media-Participations, so much so that an attempt may be need to repurchase the company from the media giant.

CR Reader David Turgeon Offers Up Some Background:
just to give you a quick background on the dupuis case: in 2004, dupuis was purchased by media-participations, a conglomerate which already owned dargaud, le lombard, kana, and many other imprints. with dupuis, media-participations became the single biggest comics publisher in france. but it has a symbolic meaning too: imagine if marvel & DC suddenly merged, & you get an idea of what this meant in the world of bandes dessinees... so the clash of (editorial) cultures, if not inevitable, was foreseeable.

presently, the direction at dupuis claims that media-participations is not giving them the independance that they were expecting to have after the merger. this explains the departure of dimitri kennes & the repurchase offer from the direction. on the article you link to, many dupuis authors have also weighed in (in the commentary section) in support for the direction.

posted 12:43 am PST | Permalink

Ann Telnaes Leaves “Six Chix”


Editor & Publisher has a nice wrap-up about the 2001 Pulitzer winner leaving the line-up of the creator-per-weekday strip. She is to be replaced by Carla Ventresca, who will slip into Telnaes' Thursday slot and her place in the Sunday rotation. Other contributors are Isabella Bannerman, Margaret Shulock, Rina Piccolo, Kathryn LeMieux, and Stephanie Piro.

a Telnaes cartoon from the Six Chix feature
posted 12:35 am PST | Permalink

March 14, 2006

Pontification Nation

Chris Butcher on differences in pricing between Viz's Shoujo Beat and Shonen Jump books... Ed Cunard on the latest outbreak of Team Comics rallying... Via Jog the Blog comes this one: Estoreal on the New York Times story on V for Vendetta and Alan Moore... BeaucoupKevin on a Silver Age comic that's not wacky or funny as much as it's slightly politically deranged... Paul O'Brien on why distribution may not be as bad as you think... Steven Grant on the dubious value of drink-buying networking... Eric Burns on advice for writing criticism about webcomics... Katherine Keller on the good and bad at WonderCon... Graeme McMillan on what DC's web site needs...
posted 11:59 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: St. John’s History


Mark Evanier is right: Ken Quattro's long article about the publisher St. John sure reads well. It's even fulsomely illustrated. I not only read it, I've bookmarked it.
posted 11:43 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: MTV News on Shoujo Manga (On-Line)
Missed It: MTV News on Shoujo Manga (Video)
Isotope Preview Two: Continuity
NYCC Afterparty Video Footage Posted
This Type of Editorial Cartoon: Common by '07

Go, Listen: Joe Sacco Interview


Sergio Aragones should accept all of the awards, Jules Feiffer should give away all awards on TV, and Joe Sacco should do all the interviews.
posted 12:08 am PST | Permalink

Holocaust Cartoon Contest Mania

At least six Americans among the hundreds of entries into that Iranian Holocaust Cartoon contest organized by the newspaper Hamshahri.
posted 12:03 am PST | Permalink

March 13, 2006

Sherffius Wins Wilbur Award


John Sherrfius has won the Wilbur Award given out by the Religion Communicators Council. Sherffius, both an editorial cartoonist and a syndicated strip cartoonist, won a combined category.

I have a sense I'm missing out on some of these awards announcements, but the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has not. They note with well-earned grumpiness that two of the three cartoonists (Michael Ramirez, Kevin Kallaugher) recognized by the recent Scripps-Howard National Journalism Awards have both recently been forced out by their newspapers.
posted 11:51 pm PST | Permalink

They’re All Coming Back…

I used to kid that everything from the 1970s and 1980s except D'Arc Tangent was making some sort of comeback, until I found out that that property is still in some sort of semi-active movie and book deal development from one of its primary recognized involved talents (I don't want a nasty letter from a lawyer). Today's beneficiary -- E-Man, the weirdly potent Charlton comic from Nic Cuti and Joe Staton, which also enjoyed a somewhat less potent second life in the 1980s indy-comics movement.

The general phenomenon of re-using and revitalizing old properties does make perfect sense according to common ways of thinking. Some come or are brought back because of the opportunity of a one-shot book for the book market that might not have been available to it in its prime, some come or are brought back for media or licensing exposure, some may come or get broght back because people believe nostalgia is a semi-potent marketing force, and I think a few may come or are brought back because a significant portion of comics is a closed market with a youth fixation, making it difficult for some creators to easily move onto new projects with as much heat as working with an old favorite.

Is Sun Runners back yet?
posted 11:42 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Ted Rall Now Able to Sue Ann Coulter
ACTOR Plans Benefit Book
Profile of Howard Chaykin's Return to Comics
Profile of Amitai Sandy and Contest

March 12, 2006

Special Feature: C. Tyler Interview

The cartoonist C. Tyler will be appearing at the Alternative Press Expo (APE), the convention that advertises at CR on the top and to the left. Were I anywhere in the region I'd be tempted to go just so I could stand in front of Tyler and thank her for best comics. I don't really get autographs but it's like I'd be happy to stand in line just so she could have another person in line, because she deserves the longest line possible. When as a younger man I used to rail against comics for not appreciating its really great, humane talents the cartoonist I'd think of was Joe Sacco. Today when I think along those lines it's Tyler's work that flashes into my mind's eye.

I know that long interviews on a Monday morning may not be everyone's cup of tea, even when it's a fine, freewheeling conversational piece like this one performed by Bruce Chrislip that reads really quickly. Since Late Bloomer was one of the very best books of last year -- heck, the last five years -- I hope any of you reluctant to spend the time in the company of Tyler and Chrislip right this moment will bookmark through the linked image below and come back when you have more time. For those eager to dive right in, thank you; I hope this gets the week off to a very good start.

posted 10:40 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Karasik on Napoli


Another great European festival report from Paul Karasik.
posted 10:38 pm PST | Permalink

Missed It: Mini-Comics Article

posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Comics Registry: Rowland Emett

The great Punch cartoonist turned kinetic sculptor is the latest edition to The Comics Registry.
posted 10:25 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Skyscrapers #3 Preview

posted 10:20 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Survival of the Fittest


I think the above is an entire art show, pieced together in a scroll for you to see it. Click on the image above for one long enough to get a sense of the show, and then hit it again for a look that's big enough to make out individual pieces of art.
posted 10:15 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: A Smoking Story

posted 10:10 pm PST | Permalink

Clay Bennett on Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week began yesterday. Sunshine Week is an advocacy project spotlighting the need for the traditional journalistic role of the uncovering of various secrets. Clay Bennett wrote about it here. It looks like there are some cartoons here.
posted 10:05 pm PST | Permalink

CBLDF Signing, Baseball in Baltimore

imageThe comics writer Kurt Busiek has announced a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund-related event in conjunction with his signing at two stores in Maryland in early April -- a raffle for two tickets to go see a Red Sox/Orioles baseball game with Busiek and writer Lawrence Watt-Evans. Nothing either man has ever written is as far out as that wack-job 3-0 comeback and subsequent series victory by the BoSox two years ago, so I guess the whole evening has a kind of fantasy theme. Here's the text of a press release since I don't find this posted anywhere, in case you're somewhere near that area and this interests you:


I like the fact that more and more cartoonists and comics folk seem to be trying to find way to work the CBLDF into otherwise standard promotional opportunities.
posted 9:05 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Read: McCay Cartoons Book Review
Not Comics: Hirings at Wizard Entertainment
Not Comics: The Other Big Movie Adaptation
Dave Hackett Will Teach You to Cartoon

March 11, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Factoid I've Never Seen Before

Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace panel began 55 years ago today -- in 16 newspapers.

Preview: Sex, Rock and Optical Illusions


Are we just out of touch or are we really out of touch?

I've started doing shipping lists again for the site, and the one thing that keeps rattling around in my head the more weekly lists I do is some variation of the fundamental market question: "Who's buying this stuff?" There's so much material coming out in any single week it's almost impossible to grasp the entirety of it in snapshot fashion.

I swear it didn't use to be like this. In fact I seem to remember the last time I had a "pull file" (standing advance orders) at a comic book shop, that store's entire expected allotment of monthly comics could be placed in clearly legible fashion on two-thirds of one sheet of paper . Of course, this was 1983, and the store in question was getting their comics from a comic shop that was sub-distributing via Capital. But still. How does any store fill their gallon jug's worth of comics by standing in the middle of the current weekly tidal wave? Sheesh. I get confused just trying to remember the difference between "O/A" and "RES".

Another thing I wonder is if most of this stuff actually sells. Assuming it does, I wonder who buys it. I think it has to be a type of customer that is rarely talked about, let alone catered to by comics various journals, sites and tabloids. I wonder what their view of comics is like. My guess is they don't have one, and not in the way that any healthy consumer of the arts can opt out of such discussions but in the way where it just never occurs to them there's a discussion in the first place. Am I the only who that looks at all this stuff, all the San Diego booths from people you never hear about anywhere else, the on-line campaigns for books that look like a thousand other books 1980 to now, and wonder if we're getting the entire picture?

Happy 78th Birthday, Sy Barry!


First Thought of the Day

Is there a functioning comic shop back in New Orleans yet? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 9:14 pm PST | Permalink

March 10, 2006

CR Week In Review


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

1. Editorial cartoonist Stacy Curtis let go from his position in a northwestern Indiana newspaper, setting on edge those who have watched the general trend towards staff cartoonists decline and those who have noted how well-liked and locally-focused Curtis had been.

2. Substitute artist begin on Big Top while Rob Harrell recovers from cancer treatments.

3. The latest Naruto volume crashes the top 30 on USA Today's broadest book list.

Winners of the Week
Pantheon and First Second, both of whom seem to have fine Fall lines.

Losers of the Week
American comics fans that still can't quite get their grip on manga.

Quote of the Week
"Last year, Smith compiled all 55 chapters into the 1,343-page Bone: The One-Volume Edition, and printed 50,000 copies. Priced at $40 each, they sold out but might be reprinted in a colorized version at some point in the future, he said." -- Toledo Blade article on Jeff Smith, with some pretty great numbers for the one-volume set, and a rumor of a future one in color.
posted 8:36 pm PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

Results for This Week's Five For Friday, "Name Five Covers You Love," have been posted here. Thanks to everyone that participated.

The next Five For Friday will be posted on the morning of the 17th.
posted 8:10 pm PST | Permalink

CBGXtra Says FM International Closed

I heard about their site going off-line and their phone being disconnected from a number of people via e-mail this morning, but I'm on the road and couldn't follow-up in proper fashion. I still can't! Anyway, at the very least one news source has gone on the record: CBGXtra is reporting that the distributor FM International has finally shut its doors. They've built their report around the site, the phone line, and corresponding testimony by a few closer to the company.

I hope this turns out to be true not because I want to see FM going out of business, but I'd like for something to actually happen one way or the other.

The problem in dealing with a story that develops over time like this one has is that when a business holds few measurable assets of its own, their continuing to function depends largely on the intent of the owners. Having the option to continue demands there be some credibility maintained by that business in the eyes of its suppliers and clients. Intent and credibility are stone cold bitches to accurately read. They're hidden, they fluctuate, and they have different values for different entities.

And let's be honest: Businesses that depend on maintaining their credibility as viable, active entities have every reason to conceal bad news -- a distributor confirmed to be going out of business will be shut off that much more quickly. That doesn't automatically mean that anyone's lied or misled in FM's case if things proceed forward as CBGXtra thinks they will. It simply means everything such a business has to say in its own defense must be taken with a saltlick-sized grain of salt. That's just the way it has to be from now on. Heck, I'd distrust one of those fancy, truth-telling robots. It's entirely possible for someone in such a business to simply and honestly change their minds, starting a day intending to stay in business and ending it with a thrown-in towel. The motivation isn't as important as the inability for outsiders to discern the truth.

So in general, these are delicate stories with a lot of conflicting elements, stories that demand to be told in part because to not tell them provides businesses with credibility they haven't earned, assurances that can come back and bite a lot of people in the pocketbook. I don't have any problem letting you know about a rumor and then reminding you it's a rumor, the same way I'm pointing out a more proper news report, as in this post, even admitting I don't have the ability or inclination to independentl confirm. I trust most of you to read blog entries and recognize their ambiguity when ambiguity becomes part of the point.

Anyway... If the good folks at CBG are right, some things to watch now are (1) how much stock was returned to individual publishers, which we know has been happening, (2) if a Capital-like turnover of stock to Diamond or another agent was negotiated and (3) forgetting the symbolic effect of Diamond gaining further sole control of its market, pay attention to how many stores feel an impact in terms of serving customers, stores that used FM in a specific fulfillment role. There are some fundamental things that are either fragile or broken when it comes to DM stores serving their clientele -- I mean things on the level of a movieplex not having the movies it promised or not getting a certain kind of movie shipped or unable to get something in a projector on time -- and any further weakening of comic shops' ability to serve clientele at this point in history has to be considered a systemic dysfunction, not a personality quirk.
posted 11:58 am PST | Permalink

March 9, 2006

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Jerry Scott is the King of Strips


Editor and Publisher has word that Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman's Baby Blues strip has gone over the 1000-client mark, giving writer Scott two strips in the elite sales class. Scott also does Zits with artist Jim Borgman. That Baby Blues is continuing to add clients this late in its history is almost a headlining newsworthy story unto itself.
posted 10:15 pm PST | Permalink

Your Irregular Danish Cartoons Update

* Even as this year's protests and political turmoil from the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten last Fall move from the violence stage to the rumination phase, there are still a few incidents that occasionally stand out.

* Journalistic repercussions: a Russian on-line publication received a new warning from its publication of the cartoons. We're also getting to the point where people are riled up by a reaction to the reaction, as opposed to the incident itself. For some reason I'm not sure I trust this headline, but holy crap if it's true.

* A lot the articles now are about what shape future dialogue should take. The incentive to talk should be obvious after such a period of fear and so many people dying, but the disincentives -- Denmark wanting to move on entirely; Muslims being unimpressed with the "apologies" and not wanting to let Denmark off the hook by moving to a new stage -- are going to be strong, too.

* One embassy severely disrupted by the entire affair seems to be getting back to normal.

* I'm not sure why support seems to be coming now as opposed to a month ago -- where people bewildered? ignorant of what was going on? fearful? -- but poets (through a contest), San Francisco and Toronto all have Denmark's back.
posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Andreas Gefe

posted 9:45 pm PST | Permalink

OTBP: In Labor’s Corner


The cartoonist featured, Ben Yomen, was to my memory a relatively late-period pro-labor cartoonist best known for Congressman Dripp. With a personal address at the bottom of the article, I can't imagine it will have very wide distribution, but I know I want one.
posted 9:15 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Go, Read: Short Interview With Adrian Tomine
Auction of Superman Comic to Benefit EFF
National Headliner Award to AJC, Luckovich
Another Brit Cartoonist on Nazi Deathlist

AMP: Comic Strip Collection Round-Up

imageOf all the major comics publishers, Andrews McMeel seems to keep future books closest to the chest. I have yet to hear of a big-book follow-up to last year's Complete Calvin and Hobbes juggernaut, although company representatives once told me that up to four or five properties were being considered for collection on that scale. This is interesting, because while no one expects any property to do as well as Calvin (widespread appeal, extremely fondly remembered) or The Far Side (devoted hardcore fanbase, also well-regarded), it's hard to figure out where they'd go -- the last of the '80s nostalgia trinity (Bloom County), or something slightly (or deeply) more classic. It's a mystery. Or maybe there are no plans at all. Certainly, I would guess, not this year -- I think the previous two books had more than year to ramp up.

Still, if you look at the usual places to get a rough idea of what's forthcoming -- the company web site, on-line booksellers -- very little about Andrews McMeel's efforts come out past the season they're in. (One thing I'd love to know, actually, if anyone out there can tell me, is if the publisher's schedule contains fewer Christmas books and more summer books because of the enormous number of calendars the company does for the Fall.) So while you might see mention of an untitled Pat Oliphant book for September, most of the marketing energy shows up in sudden flashes for books that are one or two months away: Spot the Frog, Sherman's Lagoon, Fox Trot, Baby Blues, Dilbert and Rose is Rose. It seems like a pretty stable publishing strategy: first books from new cartoonists, established series in established formats coming out in regular fashion, and then properties that might not support multiple books having volumes out according to anniversaries.

Andrews McMeel usually also publishes one or two books a year that are comics-related but more in line with their general upbeat gift-line of books. They have one of those coming up this Spring as well, with Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig's When I Talk to You: A Cartoonist Talks to God due in stores in a few weeks.
posted 1:07 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Naples Comicon Photos


All comicon photos look alike, although you don't see as many people dressed up in costumes from the European festivals. I like to post the occasional photo spread like this one from Bruno Olivieri, anyway. The sleeping Chris Claremont photo made me laugh a little bit. Found at afNews.
posted 12:56 am PST | Permalink

Obtuse Boost For Planetary Comic

The personality in my head named "Conceptual Marketing Larry" likes the whole idea of re-positioning one's work as a key text for understanding a more popular, unrelated work, although in this case it's being done for the comic rather than the comic doing it for itself.
posted 12:46 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Ralph Steadman Profile

posted 12:24 am PST | Permalink Profiles Netcomics

If any newer publisher made an impression on writers at last month's New York Comic-Con, it was the manhwa-driven Netcomics; (having a great week, by the way) profiles the company's on-line efforts.
posted 12:11 am PST | Permalink

March 8, 2006

CCS Announces Breakfast Fundraiser

posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Comic Embedded in Novel Turns Heads
Not Comics: Black Hole Script Gig to Gaiman/Avery
Local Cartoonist Profile: John Fardell
Andrew Arnold Reviews La Perdida

Claire Bretecher Signs With Dargaud


I don't know the cartoonist's publishing history to know how big a story it is symbolically that Claire Bretecher is moving to Dargaud (it could mean the shape of the market demands finding safe purchase), nor am I familiar enough with what's in print to know if the combination of new and past works coming makes for a significant publishing deal in itself. On the other hand, it's Claire Bretecher, so even if the story isn't a portent of anything in particular, and a minor event besides, reminding everyone in North America that Claire Bretecher exists is just fine with me.
posted 3:34 am PST | Permalink

Jeff Smith Speaks; Sales Figure

The potentially newsworthy nugget in this nice article about Jeff Smith speaking in a Toledo author series is the 50,000 sales figure given for One-Volume Bone. I may have just missed it, but I hadn't heard of a figure before. That's a lot of a very big book.
posted 2:54 am PST | Permalink

It’s Naruto’s World, We Just Sort of Largely Ignore Him and His Place In It


Word comes through the usual, understandable thumping-of-chest ways that the ninth volume of the Naruto manga series by Masashi Kishimoto has cracked the top 30 on a generalist USA Today book sales list. This is the best ever placement by a volume of manga. Naruto has been around for a while in manga form, serialized in Shonen Jump. When the anime hit cable television, there was a huge bump in interest kind of earthquake style up and down the then-available volumes. I could be wrong about this, but I think this is the first clear indication of what a new volume will do with the property's current audience.

My blogging skills stink this morning, so here's an upload of the press release in Word.


I'm not exactly sure why more North American comics fans don't embrace and talk about Naruto as the mainstream genre hit it's become; it rarely enters a lot of conversations. I imagine the divide between certain kinds of comics among certain types of comics fans is a lot wider than I thought, or the two areas are simply conceived of so differently that one is never spoken of in context with the other. Neither outlook is a crime, of course. The unfortunate thing about a mainstream comics-oriented mindset that doesn't easily embrace a hit like this is that Naruto is clever and accomplished, well-written in terms of escalating drama and linking character interaction to plot lines, and features the recurring visceral thrill of ninjas punching and stabbing each other a great deal of the time in very expressively drawn and not particularly groove-on-the-violence fashion. I don't think it's a transcendent work or an artistically significant one, but its virtues are rare enough I can't help feeling it would be nice if it more easily popped to mind when the discussions turned in its general direction. Not that it needs the boost.
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink

Pantheon’s Fall: Satrapi, Allen/Feiffer continues their look at Fall book line-ups today by pointing out that Marjane Satrapi's Poulet Aux Prunes will see hardcover translation as Chicken With Plums, as well as a Jules Feiffer and Jenny Allen collaboration called The Long Chalkboard. I'd run these covers really big, too, like I did with First Second's yesterday, but I can't find them anywhere that's promotional and thus swipeable.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Tony Salmons

posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Jeannie Schulz Profile

There are parts that kind of tremble with a bit of overly moist drama, but on the whole I enjoyed this lengthy profile of Jeannie Schulz, the widow of Charles Schulz and primary caretaker of the Peanuts cartooning legacy.
posted 12:58 am PST | Permalink

March 7, 2006

Go, Read: NY Press Comics


That's quite the impressive graphic for simply running a bunch of comics, so maybe I'm missing the rest of it somewhere beyond the linked-to page. Although if I'm not, there's still a ton of work here with which I'm largely unfamiliar.
posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Wanted: More Headlines Like This
Go, Read: Gaiman on Comics and Film
AMP Signs with Simon & Schuster, UK
Local Cartoonist Profile: Ryan North
Spot the Frog Graduates to Collection Status

Urban Legend Revealed As True

Comics-related urban legend #31: Comics nerd sells his collection for pursuit of more acceptable, adult dream.
posted 1:29 am PST | Permalink

First Second Announces Fall Line

I have to admit, I haven't been checking in enough at First Second to know this stuff hasn't already been announced -- as a group, anyway, as future publication of several of these books was already common knowledge -- but the business news and analysis offered up a descriptive piece this morning, so here you go:






posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink

“Rustle” Offers Earth Day Book

The on-line comic-strip fueled educational effort Rustle the Leaf is offering up a free Earth Day booklet in a variety of formats. Drawn by my old pal Dan Wright, Rustle is probably the most aggressive comic strip of its kind when it comes to leveraging on-line accessibility, so it's worth watching what they do and how they do with it.
posted 1:11 am PST | Permalink

March 6, 2006

Go, Read: The Man Who Hated Pooh

posted 9:30 pm PST | Permalink

AAEC on Stacy Curtis’ Firing

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has filed a report on the firing of editorial cartoonist from his Indiana newspaper. One thing that's interesting is that Curtis was using his position to do a ton of locally focused cartoons, this wasn't a situation that you sometimes see where the cartoonist was basically taking a salary to syndicate nationally.
posted 9:03 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Canadians Go Vote Now
Youka Nitta Signing Report On The Move
Los Angeles People: Go to a Party
Philly Kid Inspired by Comic Books
Humane Society Honors Dan Piraro
Missed It: Geerlings: Top Cow Top Editor

Comics Registry: Peter Arno


I don't know what you do when you're up at 3 o'clock in the morning and can't sleep, but it's probably not as pathetic as making famous cartoonist bibliographies in the hopes that one day you'll buy all those books off of Please feel free to add in. First up: Peter Arno.
posted 11:15 am PST | Permalink

Stacy Curtis Let Go by IN Paper


Another editorial cartoonist firing, this time Stacy Curtis from the Times of Northwest Indiana, headquartered in Munster, Indiana. These days I believe there are fewer staffed editorial cartoonists than there are astronauts, and Curtis is one of those key figures in that the cartoonist is generally well-liked and an important presence regionally. Here's Curtis' web site, which is a nice one.
posted 12:18 am PST | Permalink

A Lot of Stuff, Actually, But Still…

... is there anything sadder than a comic book shop burglary report?
posted 12:07 am PST | Permalink

March 5, 2006

Big Top Substitutes Begin Today


Creator Rob Harrell is undergoing cancer treatments, so several of his peers are stepping in to make sure his Big Top strip continues with new content. Today's is from Mark Pett.

You know, I would probably watch Dr. Phil were it to feature talking dogs and high chairs. Also, it appears my Photoshop skills are getting worse.
posted 11:46 pm PST | Permalink

Your Irregular Danish Cartoons Update

* It's died down a bit, but it hasn't gone away. Over 50,000 in new protests over the weekend in Turkey and Pakistan. Hope no one tried blogging about it in Pakistan. Plus, the celebrity dis-endorsements continue. It looks like there was some sort of support rally in New York City.

* Philippe Val from Charlies Hebdo is among 12 mostly European writers that have banded together because of the cartoon controversy to make a statement about resisting Islamic totalitarianism. Another group wants you to sign their petition.

* We'll know things are better when we can laugh at stories like this one.

* Response in Cairo: draw more cartoons.

* Even the cartoon contests seem different now.
posted 11:18 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Sonny Liew

posted 11:16 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Courts Use Manga in Educational Fashion
Who Reviews the Reviewers?
Why Dan Clowes Writes
Night Fisher on NY Library List
Comics Continues to Fail San Giacomo

March 4, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

A Preview of Beasts and Priests


Update One

Hopefully by the time this rolls out I'll have added what is probably the last round of New York Comic-Con links to its "Collective Memory" entry.

Spot On


Update Two

Also, it's usually debatable how much of the autopsies of a comic book company like Speakeasy is analysis and how much is backseat driving, but there's a lot of good stuff in Steven Grant's take on the situation. I think where I might differ from Steven is that I see business failures as more fundamental -- lack of capital, bad execution -- than Steven's mix of business basics and market no-nos. For instance, I bet the right person with the right business set-up (solid funding, years to invest) could find something interesting to do with periodicals at this moment in time, and comics periodicals have seemingly never been less popular than they are right now.

Chris Butcher has some additional notes here -- although those individual-post links don't work for me, so maybe it's best to go directly to the blog and look around -- regarding a change in printing possibilities and the nature of a Speakeasy deal that fell through in terms of licensing.

I think the best dialogue that's come out of the Speakeasy collapse concerns what creators should expect of a comics company in return for a publisher's percentage of rights and income. The market won't demand anything of anyone, and I think there's a huge potential for exploitation because of the lack of communication, the lack of a creator advocacy guild or its equivalent, and the desire by so many to enter the creative end of comics. If a company -- and I'm talking generally now -- won't print and solicit with seamless execution, expects you to pay for X-amount of unsold copies and expenses, and doesn't provide a glimmer of marketing support, it might be time to look at just what it is you're getting in exchange for the stuff you're signing away.

Missed It: Happy 6th Blogiversary to Neilalien


I Ask You

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) a non-Fantagraphics 2006 book that's been widely reviewed for the Critical Consensus section? I swear I haven't heard anything widely talked about since Ganges.

Go, Look: Treasury Edition Site


Via Mr. Evanier

Initial Thought of the Day

I find Aaron McGruder's vacation to be a really interesting news story. I still have a hunch it's 50/50 he comes back at all. If he does, I'm interested to see what his newspaper profile is like. The newspaper slot situation seems more volatile than in times past, and I bet there are some editors that would love to see Boondocks out of the subject head of their publication's received e-mail altogether.
posted 10:55 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, February 25 to March 3, 2006.

1. Dissident artist Naushad Waheed freed in the Maldives, as international rights organizations plead the case of Algeria's Ali Dilem.

2. Aaron McGruder announces he's taking a six-month break from Boondocks. Syndicates scramble to find potential "temporary substitute" strips for McGruder's approximately 350 clients as the rare second potential window opens in the same calendar year (following January's replacement of the Calvin and Hobbes re-run package).

3. An outfit called Speakeasy Comics closes its doors after a very brief and tumultuous existence, leaving some in doubt about the ability for undercapitalized start-ups to crash the market, and others wondering if Speakeasy will seek monies owed from creators of underperforming books.

Winner of the Week
Lewis Trondheim, whose criticism of certain mechanisms and individuals in French comics make a lot more sense (at least to me) when he explained the costs involved in terms of keeping alive the smaller comics vendor.

Losers of the Week
The editors and advertisement-buyers so quick to -- as the sportswriters say -- throw Finnish cartoonist Ville Ranta and his editor under the bus for a Muhammed-related cartoon.

Quote of the Week
"Cartoonist Ali Dilem was sentenced on 11 February 2006, to one year in prison and a fine of 50,000 dinars (550 euros) for a dozen caricatures of President Bouteflika, which appeared in the daily Liberte, between October and November 2003. He is also being sued for 'defamation' in 24 press cases and has been sentenced to more than nine years in jail. He has lodged an appeal and is free provisionally. -- from the Reporters Sans Frontieres plea on behalf of Ali Dilem.

From Ville Ranta's strip
posted 12:38 am PST | Permalink

March 3, 2006

This Week’s Five For Friday

Reader responses have been added to this week's "Five For Friday" question: Name Five Comics You're Hesitant to Admit You Own.

The next "Five for Friday" will go up early AM on March 10th.
posted 7:27 pm PST | Permalink

RSF Pleads Case for Dilem, Journalists

Reporters Sans Frontieres makes its formal case to Josep Borrell, the president of the European parliament, on the eve of a visit to Algeria, about that country's abominable treatment of its press. This includes the troubles facing cartoonist Ali Dilem, who gets his own paragraph -- a litany of court cases and punishments that makes the typical cartoonist's life look like a skip through the daisies.
posted 12:33 am PST | Permalink

Tom Gauld Wants You to Read


If you haven't visited the Cabanon Press site in a while, it seems like some new stuff is up there.
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

Spiegelman, Mouly Team With Puffin

Pretty much comics: two books were announced in this deal between Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly and the children's imprint Puffin, including a 144-page best-of iteration of their previous Little Lit efforts.
posted 12:28 am PST | Permalink

Drawn! Chats Up Kyle Baker

The illustration blog Drawn!, a site so great I almost never read it for fear I'd spend all my time stealing their links (a status reserved for it and Egon), has a talk up with Kyle Baker about his ability to work in a number of styles. Fortunately, this one was e-mailed to me.
posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink

March 2, 2006

Virgin Unpacks Line, Makes Hire has all the details on the forthcoming Virgin Comics effort anybody who likes to speculate about the success of comics line could want, while Newsarama has archived the press release about the company's hiring of Seymour Miles.
posted 11:59 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Langridge on Smithson


It's explained here.
posted 11:57 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
I Keep Forgetting the Jeffrey Brown Death Cab Video
Tokyo Comic Book Theft
Local Cartoonist Profile: Orpheus Collar
We Still Lack Black Newspaper Strips
Art Collector Has Early Schulz Appraised

Muhammed Cartoons Flare-Up at UCI

A campus event at the University of California's Irvine campus in which the now-infamous Danish Muhammed cartoons were to be revealed led to the usual high tensions, back and forth rhetoric, and media attention. I personally hadn't considered how something like this could play on campus, which are given over to confrontational, culture-soaked politics to begin with. I wouldn't be surprised if there are two or three more such campus incidents like this one outside of the role of student newspaper publication.
posted 2:24 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Seth, Ware, Maresca; Ware

imageGo here for a lengthy and readable review by Gabriel Greenberg of Wimbledon Green, ACME Novelty Library #16 and So Many Splendid Sundays, all through the prism of comic book as object. I don't agree with a lot of the analysis, but the writer presents his case in effective. Two specific leaps of logic didn't carry me along with them. First, I think Greenberg's comparisons to the production qualities of a comic book are way too loosely selected; the frame of a painting is a bad comparison, the font, binding and illustration qualities of a book are not, but I don't think they serve an essentialist argument as he implies. Second, I think Greenberg frequently assumes a universal quality to his own hard-won observations that just aren't earned. I know three people who aren't hardcore comics collectors that understood the jokes in Wimbledon Green, for instance, and were able to process the specifics of that story according to a general knowledge of obsessive collecting. Still, some food for thought. You could also go here for an oddly compartmentalized critique of Chris Ware's work.
posted 2:07 am PST | Permalink

NYCC Announces Refund Policies

New York Comic-Con, besieged by a overcrowding and a breakdown in administrative organization on-sites during its inaugural show, has formally posted its refund policy and to whom it applies.

New York Comic-Con was an advertiser on this site
posted 1:53 am PST | Permalink

Holy Crap, Ziggy is 35 Years Old

imageThe publication of an Andrews McMeel anniversary-related book reminds that Tom Wilson's Ziggy newspaper feature is 35 years old this year. It started in an incredibly low number of papers during a reasonably fallow time in American newspaper cartoon history, but it sure has stuck around. Other bits of Ziggy knowledge that fill my head is I believe it's one of those features where the child of the original creator is doing it now, and Ziggy moved over to the newspapers from greeting cards, where Wilson reigned over Sentimental America for years and years, with a pit stop in gift books. I bet Don Markstein knows a lot more stuff about Ziggy than I do.
posted 1:37 am PST | Permalink

E&P Handicaps the Pulitzers

Editor & Publisher picks the following cartoonists as potential candidates based on the quality of work in '05: Nick Anderson, Jeff Danziger, Mike Luckovich, Jeff Parker, Rob Rogers and Garry Trudeau. My guess would be Luckovich followed by Danziger, but I'd love to see Trudeau get one for the quality of his work as political commentary for about 24-30 months now.
posted 1:33 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jessica Abel Site

posted 1:29 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Sherffius to Copley News Service
AMS Signs Fraction, Sanders to GoComics
Art Spiegelman College Lecture Report
Tax Deductible Vacation Alert!

March 1, 2006

Jeff Danziger Wins Herblock Prize


The editorial cartoonist Jeff Danziger has won this year's Herblock Prize, given out by the Herb Block Foundation. It comes with a $10,000 award. Danziger will receive the prize in April at a ceremony featuring a speech by Sandra Day O'Connor. Jules Feiffer, one of the judges for this year's competition, compared Danziger's work on the Iraq conflict to Bill Mauldin's in World War II.

You can access Danziger's elegant web site by clicking through the image above.
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink

Boondocks Hiatus Pushes Up Debut


The Washington Post Writer's Group will push up the debut of Cory Thomas' Watch Your Head to match the dates of Aaron McGruder's six-month hiatus from The Boondocks, Editor & Publisher reports. This is interesting both in the general notion that because McGruder is taking a break this may mean papers will try out a substitute strip rather than that many consecutive reruns, showing how tight prime space in papers has become, and also because the move may remind many of how Berke Breathed's Bloom County benefited as a temporary replacement for Doonesbury when Garry Trudeau took the first such creative break some 20-25 years ago.
posted 1:28 am PST | Permalink

Lewis Trondheim on Thevenet, Leclerc

Can someone out there who reads French better than I do give me the gist of what Trondheim is talking about in this article at After the stuff about JM Thevenet departing the Angouelme Festival, Trondheim seems to re-state an earlier criticism of Michel-Edouard Leclerc, but does so in a way I haven't heard before. Trondheim mentions a pricing plan or change in pricing that would really screw over smaller bookstores, and favor large businesses. It's the first time I've heard about something like that, so if any of you can clarify or could provide context, I'd be appreciative.

Francois Peneaud Responds:

About the ActuaBD article: in France, books have a fixed price, and large bookstores (or Amazon, or supermarkets...) can't sell books at a lower price. That has been credited with enabling small boostores to survive. It was put into law in 1981, after the big Mitterand (left wing) victory at the presidential election (as were the abrogation of the death penalty and the last discriminatory law against gays, but that's another story).

So, Trondheim was saying that Leclerc, who heads a group of large supermarkets (the Centres Leclerc), has been in favor of changing that fixed price law, which would be bad for small bookstores and small comics bookstores. Didier Pasamonik, who wrote the article, adds that things are a bit more complex, since there are lots of places without small bookstores.

Trondheim wants to get rid of Leclerc, who's also one of the biggest Angouleme sponsor. But who would replace him and his money?

Things are going to be interesting in the coming months.
posted 1:19 am PST | Permalink

JHU Hosts Wednesday Flag Signing

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

The Things My Eyes Have Seen

Not comics, just the latest image I'll probably never forget: a bizarre, brief Jim Davis cameo on a parody rap video. I can't imagine anyone out there loading this entire thing up and getting past the Bob Evans jokes to get to it (it's about two thirds of the way through), but I thought I'd let you know.
posted 1:03 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Sam Hiti’s Blog

posted 12:57 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Journalists Applaud Papers that Printed Danish 'Toons
Jesus Cartoons Alarm Some at Radford
Another Investment in Comic Books Article
Not Comics: Jim Lee Key to DC's MMO
Philly Paper on Prose Writers in Comics
A Manga Headline Stan Lee Might Write

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