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

June 30, 2006

Why We Should Be Worried That Diamond Comic Distributors Rejected PictureBox, Inc.

More than a few people have taken notice this acidic post at the Comics Comics blog by PictureBox, Inc. driving force and head honcho Dan Nadel. Nadel speaks to the recent rejection of his line of books by Diamond Comic Distributors. Nadel's piece provides some unflattering details of the "no thank you," including individual appraisals of his much-praised line. It's a must-read.

imageHowever, I think it's important to emphasize that the troubling thing about Diamond giving such a flat "no" to PictureBox isn't that PictureBox has a bunch of fine books, even though they certainly do, or that festival audiences and a bookstore distributor with more prestige than Diamond are thus far very supportive of the material, although they have been, or that as a result Diamond's rejection reflects badly on Diamond, even though it probably does. The problem with this line of thinking is that it quickly devolves into a discussion of whether or not Diamond needs to support quality, high-end efforts, particularly in that they're essentially (although not legally) a monopoly in terms of distributing to the Direct Market of comic shops and hobby stores, or if they should concentrate on material that sells better in those markets. In general, I'm more supportive than most of Diamond making hard decisions about what it carries, to the point I would be happy to see a lot fewer comics in the Diamond Previews catalog, and lot of really restrictive penalties on abuses of the non-returnables system by nascent publishers.

What's actually at stake at this exact moment in time isn't the relative quality of material Nadel publishes. What should concern us is that Nadel through PictureBox has shown himself to be a savvy, competent publisher, and Diamond is taking a pass on him. PictureBox having a distribution deal with DAP doesn't impart upon Nadel's books some quality Diamond should be forced to acknowledge, but it certainly shows Nadel means business and has the ability to do business.

In other words, I strongly feel that Dan Nadel and PictureBox, Inc. deserve a chance to see if they can sell their books in the Direct Market. PictureBox is the kind of publisher Diamond should want to attract -- Nadel isn't in comics to play media rights lotto, and he won't come close to abusing the system with missing, late or poorly presented books. If Nadel only ends up being able to sell 15 copies each of his first dozen efforts through Diamond, then it's time for a different conversation. But for now, he deserves the Direct Market platform that only Diamond can provide.
posted 1:04 am PST | Permalink

Daryl Cagle on “The New Cartoon Jihad”

The prominent cartoonist and blogger about editorial cartoons Daryl Cagle has written a short but super-solid and fact-driven essay about the current situation facing cartooninsts and cartooning in Iran. He gives a detail about the Mana Neyestani case I hadn't heard of yet -- that Neyestani's brother Touka has been frightened enough by his brother's arrest and impending trial that he has given up cartooning.
posted 12:56 am PST | Permalink

Heroes Con Gets Underway Today

imageI'm not usually one to note every convention out there, and Heroes Con has been an advertiser here for a couple of months so I open myself up to charges of of playing favorites, but I think it's worth noting that a lot of people want this weekend's Charlotte-located show to succeed for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
1. The show has a bigger-than-usual guest list this year, partly from professionals that grew sympathetic to Heroes after an attempt last year by Wizard Entertainment to host a competing show in Atlanta after assurances they would not do so on the same weekend. Wizard later backed off. It also has a sizeable indy and arts comics presence for a show of this type.

2. The comics industry lacks a big show in the traditional Southeast outside of Florida, although those are good markets for comics and a lot of professionals live there.

3. Heroes organizer Shelton Drum of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find seems well-liked by a lot of industry professionals.

So good luck to them. In addition to those reasons, there are a couple more that make conventions like these a little more important than usual. Bigger regional shows like Heroes that live right on the cusp of being a big national affair are a great thing because the next generation of passionate comics readers -- tomorrow's devoted comics fans, industry professionals and cartoonists -- can't always travel to New York, Chicago or San Diego and a lot of their interaction with the art form is going to depend on their experiences over a weekend at a regional con. I know when I was growing up, Chicago was a big trip for me, and I only spent a couple of hours there (mostly buying stuff I couldn't find in Indiana). Also, shows like this tend to be the same size that shows used to be when there was a lot of cross-pollination between comics "camps" and the weekend moved at a slow enough pace for people to meet and hang out with various groups of people within comics, unlike bigger shows where things tend to move towards fragmentation. I imagine everyone in Charlotte should have a pretty good time.
posted 12:37 am PST | Permalink

Group Accuses Trudeau of Bigotry


The New York branch of the Polish American Congress has accused cartoonist Garry Trudeau of bigotry based on a character appearing in his Doonesbury strip last month. Editor & Publisher has the write-up. I mention not because the accusation itself is any big deal -- it was a joke about a university winner of a "remedial studies" major award -- but as a reminder that Trudeau still enjoys enough social currency that public groups wrestle with his characterizations.
posted 12:24 am PST | Permalink Yet Another GN Line

The comics business news and analysis site has a little profile up on Lerner's Graphic Universe imprint coming out with a series of myth and legend graphic novels, as announced during the recent American Library Association meeting in New Orleans. The artists involve seem mostly midlist mainstream veterans. Although it's almost impossible to track all of the comics-related lines or single efforts that book publishers have announced -- I swear there must be some that have already come out that I heard about at one point and completely forgot, ncluding some adaptations -- it's still worth noting that people are finding niche work with the form.
posted 12:19 am PST | Permalink

June 29, 2006

Go, Look: Donald Soffritti’s Superheroes


Really slick and pretty funny. I like Fat Thor, too. From afNews.
posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Richardson/Beland Exchange

Go here to read a semi-juicy back-and-forth between cartoonist Tom Bleand and Josh Richardson of AiT/Planet Lar about issues raised by an interview marking the former's recent move to Image Comics.
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Manx Media Signs Distribution Deal

Steve Lafler writes in with a brief announcement of the publishing news variety: "My new imprint Manx Media has signed with Biblio Distribution for book trade distribution. I have a slate of five titles in the pipeline, with the first book 40 Hour Man in stores for the holiday season."
posted 10:15 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Mike Baron Vs. Art Spiegelman
Local Cartoonist Profile: Pat Bagley
Local Comic Shop Profile: UC Comics
A Quiz Only Donald Phelps Could Ace
The Golden Age of the Graphic Novel?
The Most Important Comic Of The '90s: Harbinger #1

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 10:07 am PST | Permalink

Recent International Awards Round-Up

image* From the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists site comes a link to a short video interview with "Golden Spike Award" winner Michael DeAdder of the Halifax Daily News. The Golden Spike is given by the AAEC to the best cartoon killed by an editor. Click though the image above to go to Daryl Cagle's mighty blog and scroll down a bit for a more complete write-up.

* It looks like Teshkeel Media has let media outlets know that their founder Dr. Naif Al Mutawa received the FIHQ award from The Cartoons and Comics Festival in Recife, Brazil for creating the Islamic superhero team The 99. Past winners are said to include Peter Kuper, Will Eisner and Don Rosa.

* I think I may have mentioned this already but the International Freedom For Expression Exchange has a brand-new press release up about the Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem and 11 Danish cartoonists from last year's Jyllands-Posten publication of Muhammed cartoons sharing the Cartoonists Rights Network International's 2006 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning. It was given out on June 9 in Denver.
posted 4:50 am PST | Permalink

Ted Rall to Join United Media; Will Help Acquire and Develop New Features

The cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall will join the syndicate United Media in an unnamed capacity to help develop and acquire material across multiple platforms. This Editor & Publisher article tells the story much better than I can here. Rall's been an anthology editor, so it will be interesting to see how those skills cross over into this new set of responsibilities. It's also probably worth noting that Rall can now be said to be in exacly the kind of influential role over new talent asserted abuses of which served as the basis of some of his criticisms of Art Spiegelman in an infamous article a few years back.
posted 4:33 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Maggie Goes To The Museum

A few people have e-mailed me about Maggie Thompson's report on the Steve Geppi museum, which is stuffed with photos, so it's probably been blogged about in some prominent location where the writer will feel grupy I didn't credit them properly. Anyway, go have a look.
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Captain Marvel And The Bomb

imageThere's a bunch of stuff worth reading on Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler's new blog in support of their magazine Comics Comics, but I'm particularly fond of this description of a story in 1946's Captain Marvel Adventures #66 called "Captain Marvel and the Atomic War! where Hodler argues for the tale's perhaps unique effectiveness as story using the superhero genre to make a point about an important, real-world issue.
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

June 28, 2006

Go, Read: Rob Clough on Gabrielle Bell

Go here for nice, longish piece by the writer Rob Clough on the cartoonist Gabrielle Bell. Bell should be a reasonably big topic in arts comics circles in the second half of 2006.
posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
L-Ron Update
This Person Hates Lio
Tokyopop Starts Music Label
Every Day A Comics Blog Is Born
Rock Musician Starts Comics Effort
First Time I've Ever Wanted Time Warner To Sue


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

posted 2:55 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Recognizing Twist v. McFarlane’s First Amendment Aspects

imageOpinion articles like this one seem to be picking up the latest turn in the Tony Twist/Todd McFarlane case for its First Amendment implications as opposed to the personal and business drama experienced by a prominent member of the comics and toy industries. It's good to be reminded of this. From my viewpoint, McFarlane's use of elements of Twist's public personality for his comic character hitman Antonio Twistelli seems reasonable, the right to publically exploit one's public persona in exactly the way desired doesn't seem like a competing right, and it's probably right to be concerned this case's success could make all sorts of satirical work harder to do in the future.
posted 2:27 am PST | Permalink

PWCW Roundtable On Comics New Era

I know and like most of the people involved in this PWCW roundtable on comics' new era, including the moderator, but I have to be honest: the resulting article wasn't very good at all. It feels like Internet filler rather than the kind of focused, editorially accomplished article that should come from an institution backed by Publishers Weekly.

I've done my fair share of lazy roundtables, where the quotes are all collected under the same question put to people individually rather than people sitting down for a give and take and the building upon ideas that makes a roundtable worth doing in the first place. This one feels particularly disconnected and unfocused. The questions are too broad, while some of the answers are vague to the point of evasion and are never supported with the kind of facts or stringent example for which such strong assertions beg. The only perspective new to me at all is that of Gerry Donaghy at Powell's, and he provides most of the stretches of analysis I took away from the piece partly because they're novel. Everyone else, save for one nice bit by ADV's Chris Oarr, seems to be working from their core material, although Eric Reynolds' matter-of-fact responses end up being kind of funny in their terseness.

The introduction starts things out poorly. There's no reason on earth any introduction from a magazine of record on an entire era in the art form they cover should ever be that vague, date-light and fact-free; I think it over-simplifies a long and complicated period of economic malaise and makes this most recent period of mainstream press coverage sound like an older phenomenon than it is. I even disagree strongly with one of the introduction's few, specific examples. I admire and respect Neil Gaiman, but he's so not a good example of a creator whose new comics works have been emblematic of the marketplace rising out of the previous period, as Sandman ended in 1996, and his thimbleful of new comic works in the decade since have come from that legacy or from his take on Jack Kirby's.

This would not have been a good article for a random web site. I expect more of PWCW, mostly in that a lot of what was really low-quality about this piece could have been taken care of by editorial guidance early on and stricter editorial standards applied to the result. Typos are one thing, but no article that is seen by a paid employee other than the original writer should fail in the basic fact-checking department on a proper name (or, as I think takes place in another article, the right publisher). There are very few journalistic bodies in comics with the pull to assemble a roundtable worth our attention, but if the execution isn't going to be there on multiple levels, why bother?
posted 1:27 am PST | Permalink

Advertiser Apologizes For Cartoon


In an eyebrow-raising "I don't recall seeing that before" moment, a Mercedes dealership in Atlanta has apologized for an editorial cartoon run in the newspaper where they advertise, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The dealership ran a full-page ad to carry the message.

It occurred to me recently that a big reason editorial cartoons seems to be in such a period of acrimonious decline -- as opposed to the regular decline of the comics-page strip -- is that the reduction of staff positions has actually increased the pressure on editors to, well, act like editors. When you have a staff cartoonist with a regular place in your paper, they take care of a lot of that for you. When you don't have a staff cartoonist, someone has to select the cartoon that runs and then someone also probably has to choose where that cartoon runs. I'm reminded of this only because the distate that greeted the Luckovich seems to have had a lot to do with how the cartoon was placed in proximity to the recent story of the two kidnaped and murdered soldiers.
posted 1:14 am PST | Permalink

One Volume Bone Book To Return

imageGo here for a look at the press release announcing that Jeff Smith and his Cartoon Books is re-releasing the one-volume Bone edition collecting the entire fantasy series. This is interesting from a couple of angles. One is that the release actually gives figures, such as 50,000 of the OVE previously sold, which is pretty startling at that sales point, and a rough estimate of one million of the Scholastic books already sold. The one-volume Bone is being brought back despite the color volumes continuing, which indicates that Scholastic must agree with some high degree of certainty that the people buying each version come from completely different camps. I can't think of too many deals where a big company like that has agreed to see what some might think of as competing product put back on the shelves; that's a lot of trust they're placing in Smith.
posted 12:55 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
See Scott Adams Speak
Favorite Superman Headline Yet
Manila Editorial on Danish Cartoons
Stone Soup Wins Hometown Comics Poll
Why Is the Color in the Sunday Comics So Dull?

June 27, 2006

If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This


I have a feeling it might make me feel fat, old, and untalented, but I'd still go.
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink

Tatsumi From D&Q: Three, Or More?

imageA thread on the Comics Journal message board notes a description of Drawn & Quarterly's efforts to reprint the manga of Yoshihiro Tatsumi as a three volume series, and wonders out loud if this is a ramping down from original plans to do an extensive series of books reprinting the author's work right up until the present.

Peggy Burns at D&Q explains that the confusion arises from the series being originally planned for three volumes, and then more books being planned after that, although, she says, "the number of books is to be determined."

D&Q's The Push Man and Other Stories was released last year to appreciative audiences and generally high marks from critics; this year's book will be released in the Fall and is titled Abandon The Old In Tokyo.
posted 3:58 am PST | Permalink

Getting Bill Wired Effort Underway

The author and cartoonist Scott McCloud is spearheading an effort to get the cartoonist Bill Loebs working digitally, not by diverting funds that might go directly to the cartoonist but by agitating for donations of the equipment itself from various companies through trying to get individuals at those companies on board. As you can see by the latest update, they've already had one company agree to donate.
posted 2:24 am PST | Permalink

Comics On Culture War’s Hidden Front

Is it just me, or is this the summer of comics stories with semi-creepy slightly homophobic subtexts? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the stories about DC's new Batwoman, the thrust of the movie Superman's story and the character's ongoing appeal, the controversy over sexualized kid-lit characters in Lost Girls and questions about the shelving of certain kinds of manga all have kind of unspoken, little-articulated darker sides, including but not limited to accusations of ruining "pure" creations for the sake of some abstract idea of political correctness, the notion that gay creators are out of control and unable to make art from a hetero point of view, the noxious and false notion that pedophilia is a mostly gay phenomenon, and that objections to depictions of sexuality are more justified if the sexuality in question is same-sex. Anyone else feeling this?

I could just be paranoid, I don't know, or I could be picking up on the inarticulate way all of us, including me, tend to talk about such material. It just seems to me that there's a lot of agenda-making and masked dialogue going on here, and maybe it's just more apparent in comics because the conservative nature usually on display in the funnybook world tends to be Warren G. Harding old. Again, I'm not sure. I would rather these issues were out front so they could be pulverized, but if such arguments have to remain just out of arm's reach let's at least reject the implication that comics are somehow any more suitable for such arguments than any other art form out there.
posted 12:51 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Batsyayana and His Barbs

Go here for an extremely long English-language write-up about the cartoonist Batsyayana and his new book Batsyayana and His Barbs: A Cartoonist's Take on Post-1990 Nepal. Included in the article are a mini-biography of the cartoonist, several sample cartoons, and a discussion of one or two cartoons in greater detail. There are even pictures from a release party.
posted 12:49 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Drew Friedman on Will Eisner

Another solid interview in Bob Andelman's series of interviews about Will Eisner and his own A Spirited Life biography. This one is pretty amazing in that Friedman had serious problems with how he was characterized in the book by Eisner.
posted 12:46 am PST | Permalink Sojitz Invests In ADV

Nice article by the comics business news and analysis site on Japanese conglomerate Sojitz buying into ADV Vision through one of its subsidiaries and an investment group including other entertainment companies, the successful anime company with the high-profile and less successful manga company, ADV Manga. The move reflects the general belief that the American and European markets are growth areas for the worldwide anime business. Although the report says there will not be management changes at the top of ADV Vision, there will be an expansion of that company operations. The company also promises plans in store for the company's flailing manga division.
posted 12:40 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Lyle Stuart, RIP
Ali Dilem Profiled
Ziggy Has A Birthday Party
Her Life With Dad Mort Weisinger
Local Cartoonist Profile: Steven Butler
Slate 10Y Re-Design Re-Aligns Comics Content

June 26, 2006

Iranian Cartoonist May Make Bail; Board Opposes Lifting of Newspaper Ban

According to this report, a penal court will soon decide whether cartoonist Mana Neyestani and his editor Mehrdad Qassemfar will be granted bail. They are currently being held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison after a cartoon by Neyestani was said to have sparked regional riots by the Azeri minority.

In a surprise move, the same court will make a decision on the Press Supervisory Board's declared opposition to lifting the ban on the newspaper Iran in whose weekly supplement this all started. The arrest of Neyestani and Qassemfar was noteworthy for coming from the judiciary rather than the Supervisory Board, a government body that has been very active in shutting down the press.

The same article also notes that Canada called for the arrest of Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi at a recent UN Human Right Council meeting for violations of human rights. An article on an unrelated, politically-charged site that popped up in my search reports something I hadn't thought of, or really looked into -- the other journalists arrested at around the same time as Neyestani and Qassemfar.
posted 2:27 am PST | Permalink

Summer of McCloud Interview #3


This one is at PopMatters, and goes at the cartoonist author more from a webcomix angle than from the new book angle.
posted 2:21 am PST | Permalink

Humanoides: Euro-Manga Anthology

I'm not sure there's anything to be said at this moment beyond noting the announcement itself, but the fact that Humanoides is doing an anthology Shogun based roughly on the Shonen Jump model (lots of pages, low price) featuring nothing but manga (or, since the definitional wars start on issues such as these, "manga-style" or "comics resembling manga") from European creators is enough in and of itself for noting here. If you can make out the French the article surrounding this announcement is a billion graphs long, with nods towards how publishers have integrated manga into various lines, how various manga works have become style touchstones for younger creators, how the Japanese publishers have jacked up the price for their works, the company's pre-publication publicity plans for the effort and the magazine's initial line-up.

The magazine will debut on September 29.
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

June 25, 2006

Go, Read: Warren Craghead’s Blog

posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink

“Sexy Wendy Sparks Pan Protest”

Whatever else happens, I think we can all agree the above headline, from the Edmonton Sun, approaches genius.

As noted by a few of you who wrote in, the Associated Press picked up on the BBC's story that the hospital granted rights to some of the Peter Pan work by J.M. Barrie may object to the use of those characters in Lost Girls, which has led to the usual wildfire of similar articles, or papers simply running it with a new headline. This is one of those weird stories where there's not a real move yet to keep anything from being published, so it's hard to care about on that level, so you kind of kick back and see if the idea of having some dirty comics working this subject area freaks anybody out in a completely different direction. But as of right now, nothing. Just smoke. No fire. Not yet. Time to wait some more.
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Kirkus Reviews GN Section


They profile:

Abandon The Old In Tokyo, Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Art Out Of Time, Various
Can't Get No, Rick Veitch
Chicken With Plums, Marjane Satrapi
Dragonslippers, Rosalind B. Penfold
Flight Volume 3, Various
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
Goodbye, Chunky Rice, Craig Thompson
How To Make Money Like A Porn Star, Neil Strauss and Bernard Chang
I Was A Child Of Holocaust Survivors, Bernice Eisenstein
Klezmer: Tales of Wild East, Joann Sfar
La Perdida, Jessica Abel
Lost Girls, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie
Making Comics, Scott McCloud
Mendel's Daughter, Martin Lemelman
My Most Secret Desire, Julie Doucet
Passionella and Other Stories, Jules Feiffer
Pizzeria Kamikaze, Etgar Karet and Asuf Hanaka
Sexy Chix, Various
Skibber Bee-Bye, Ron Rege
Sloth, Gilbert Hernandez
The 9/11 Report, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
The Best American Comics 2006, Various
The Left Bank Gang, Jason
The Ticking, Renee French
We Are On Our Own, Miriam Katin

There are also group write-ups on superhero books, kids' comics and manga.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Missed It: Opolis Opening


Despite having missed Saturday's opening, were I in New York I would still go see this.
posted 10:27 pm PST | Permalink

Another Day, Another Cartoon Offends

This time it's recent Pulitzer and Reuben winner Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution up to bat for an unfortunately timed piece on torture in Iraq.
posted 10:25 pm PST | Permalink

Lea Hernandez Releases Grant Info

Lea Hernandez has released much more information on the "Women Webcomicker Grant Nan," a group of four grants in the form of a year's hosting at WebComicsNation, targeted at women cartoonists. Submissions are now open and will close Friday, September 1 at 6 PM with winners to be notified September 13. Details abound through the link.

posted 10:15 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Disappointment In Samarra
AP Picks Up on Lost Girls Story
Local Cartoonist Profile: John Lee
IDW Collecting Shanower Oz Material
Local Comics Writer Profile: John Ostrander
Missed It: James Breyer Joins Marvel Board
Losing Cartoons As General Newspaper Reduction

June 24, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

A Preview of The Mother's Mouth



Go, Read: Gary Panter Interviewed



Congratulations, Masheka and Mikhaela!


Check out who's officiating the ceremony. You don't see that every day.


AAEC Conference Photo Round-Up


Also from Mikhaela Reid.


Go, Look: Fletcher Hanks' Fantomah



Go, Read: Chris Pitzer Interview



Hopefully, Superboxing Is Next



First Thought Of The Day

I had a lucid dream last night where everyone had electronic devices called Peepos which were programmed to organize our various moneyless transactions. It was kind of an interesting dream.
posted 10:52 pm PST | Permalink

If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

posted 6:02 am PST | Permalink

I Hope Our Rezzos Are All Okay

posted 4:35 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, June 17 to June 23, 2006.

1. Mana Neyestani and his editor Mehrdad Qassemfar will stand trial in Islamic Revolution Court for a cartoon of Neyestani's that led to regional riots from the Azeri minority.

2. May's Direct Market numbers delight the cognoscenti.

3. With its transformation of approaches to sales and marketing moving into its 18th and 19th months, DC Comics lets Rich Johnson go.

Winner of the Week
Muse Comics, for attracting a group of artists including Jim Lee to do CBLDF-related signing far off the usual convention and shop circuit.

Loser of the Week
Todd McFarlane, who lost an appeal on a $15 million decision that went against him concerning his use of a derivation of the hockey player Tony Twist's name in his comic book. Any court left for appeal will have to choose to hear it.

Quote of the Week
"Let's just say that Baron's scripting on the new stories were "far different" that my expectations anticipated, and I just couldn't accept them." -- the artists Steve Rude on the final fate of the indy-superhero stalwart Nexus.

Clip Art Clarence up there has the right idea
posted 3:46 am PST | Permalink

June 23, 2006

Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 6:27 am PST | Permalink

More On Tokyopop’s New Site

A few people have sent me the following content, which seems to be from a recruitment letter for the new, rumored, more aggressive site. Again this is all rumor, although I think it's a pretty good idea. I mean, done correctly, the manga market could certainly sustain a dedicated, content-driven destination type site. is looking for individuals over 18 years of age* to be reviewers, columnists and feature storywriters...

Reviewers will be needed for the following:
FILM/TV/DVD (Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy, Action)
MUSIC (J-POP, J-ROCK, K-POP, anime soundtracks, videogame soundtracks)

A columnist will be selected for each of the following categories:
VIDEOGAMES (No sports-related videogames)
FILM/TV/DVD (Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy, Action)
MUSIC (J-POP, J-ROCK, K-POP, anime soundtracks, videogame soundtracks)
FOOD & LIFESTYLE (Eastern food and manga lifestyle)
PEOPLE (Manga personalities)

Feature writers will be selected for each of the following categories:
VIDEOGAMES (No sports-related videogames)
MUSIC (J-POP, J-ROCK, K-POP, anime soundtracks, videogame soundtracks)
FOOD & LIFESTYLE (Eastern food and manga lifestyle)
PEOPLE (Manga personalities)

If you are interested in contributing, please e-mail with brief proposals and a writing sample by June 19, 2006. If chosen, writer will be contacted to work out a writing schedule and will receive monetary compensation for such work. Pieces should be written with journalistic integrity and TOKYOPOP style.

Writing guidelines for (word count)

Reviews: About 500 words per review

Columns: A minimum of 1,000 words

Features: A minimum of 1,000 words

*Entries limited to applicants who are 18 years or older, or majority age in the area s/he resides in, whichever the higher.

posted 2:43 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Paul Gravett on Alex Toth


I have to imagine this is the last major obituary that will appear for the late, great Alex Toth, but as you might expect by the author it's a good one.
posted 2:28 am PST | Permalink

It’s The Summer of McCloud!

A second major interview, and Making Comics isn't even out yet. Cartoonist Scott McCloud stops by a Comics Journal Message Board thread to answer questions and even talks about his weight. Kris Straub responds to an element in the Webcomics Examiner interview in illustration form. Scott Kurtz writes about it (July 20 entry). Heidi MacDonald breaks down the McCloud Family blog options.
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Julie Doucet Interview


I'm told this is a cover-featured article in the Montreal Mirror.
posted 2:03 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Neufeld Blogging Profile

Here's .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), not as much for his comics work but for his blogging about Katrina relief work.
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Webcomics Pavilion at San Diego’s CCI


Check out this killer image from Comixpedia (at least I can't find it anywhere else) of a portion of the upcoming Comic-Con International floor map -- a cluster of webcomics-related booths that's big enough I know I blinked and took a second look. On the one hand, it's bolstered by the major book publisher. On the other hand, webcomics get to be bolstered by major book publishers.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

Your 2006 Max and Moritz Winners


The 2006 Max and Moritz Award Winners, given out at the Comic Salon at Erlangen on June 17. (English translation of titles provided by the awards.)

Best German-Speaking Artist: Volker Reiche
Best Comic Strip: Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau
Best German-Speaking Comic: The Feeling of Unease, Nicolas Mahler
Best International Comic: The Innocents, Gipi
Best Manga: Barefoot Through Hiroshima, Keiji Nakazawa
Best Comic For Kids: Jonas Blondal, Jens Ehrenreich
Best Scenario: Max Goldt
Special Prize Of The Jury: Ralf Konig, for his statements on the Muhammed Cartoons
Special Prize For Outstanding Lifetime Achievement: Jacques Tardi

The Jury this year was Bodo Birk, Hendrik Dorgathen, Andrea Fiala de Ayerbe, Lutz Gollner, Harald Havas, Herbert Heinzelmann, Andreas Platthaus, Denis Scheck, Jan Taussig.

photo provided by the Awards. I have no idea if these are awards winners or jury members, but American awards programs really need to start handing out giant, flat baskets


Great follow-up letter from Paul Karasik:

Hi Tom:

Here's the scoop on those Max und Moritz basket awards. In addition to getting a simple certificate, each winner receives a nice big basket filled with an enormous focaccia-thick bread sculpture of Max and Moritz, themselves. You may recall from one of the most reprinted comics of all time the famous sequence by Busch of the two Katzenjammer prototypes torturing the baker and eventually ending up in the oven and coming out as loaves in the shape of Max and Moritz. Every year some lucky Erlangen baker gets to spend a few days leading up to the ceremony making these. Recipients may then choose to shallac the thing and hang it in the den, use it as a doormat, or as shown in the attached pic, eat it right after the show to revive the blood sugar that was depleted during the unbelievably long awards ceremony made even more painful if you are American (like me), or Italian (like everyone in this photo) and do not understand much German.


Left to right: Illustrator, Lucia Mattioli; Maestro, Lorenzo Mattotti; Napoli comics con organizer, Claudio Curico; Cartoonist and Grad-Slam Award Winner, Gipi; and a part of Cartoonist Gabriella Giandelli.

posted 1:03 am PST | Permalink

June 22, 2006

Steve Benson’s Controversial Cartoon


Before the Danish Cartoon Controversy, before Ted Rall, there was Steve Benson, a mainstream, big-paper editorial cartoonist with a knack for really driving readers of his newspaper clients to their keyboards. Above is his latest effort, about the killings at Haditha. According to this article in Editor & Publisher, Benson's cartoon has generated over 1300 letters to the Arizona Republic.
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: James Gillray Gallery

posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Another AK Comics Profile
LeBron James One Year Later
Best Cartoon Description Ever
Best Descriptive Of Stan Lee Ever
Another Comic Book Piracy Article
Mobile Comics Deal Keeps Adding Properties
Missed It: Man Arrested For Stealing Dragonball Books


BBC: Lost Girls as Publishing Event

According to this thread at the Comics Journal's message board and this page on the BBC's main site, the broadcasting network has run a news story about officials in a JM Barrie-related hospital charity granted the Peter Pan rights potentially objecting to the re-telling of that story with pornographic elements that appears in the forthcoming Lost Girls.

You can access that story here, by clicking on "Children's Classics Are Given An Adult Slant." Moore and Rich Johnston are among those interviewed.
posted 3:08 am PST | Permalink

Brubaker, Phillips Announce Criminal


This is interesting in that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are doing this comic through Marvel's under-the-radar Icon imprint, a line designed to facilitate creator-owned projects through the mainstream publishing giant and to keep key Marvel creators satisfied and in-house. What we don't know is if Icon can make a hit instead of just moderately boosting sales. The market is very different now than it was 25 years ago when Marvel could push stuff onto the stands.
posted 3:02 am PST | Permalink

Tokyopop: LA Summer Reading Program

I don't really have anything to add to this, but it's sort of interesting how not-news something like this is now. Here's the announcement, and here's a profile of the person organizing things from the library's end.

Speaking of Tokyopop, and this is squarely in the realm of rumor, I've received a couple of e-mails indicating that Tokyopop may join Wizard Entertainment, The Comics Journal, Comic Book Resources and Newsarama in significantly upgrading its site and its site's content in the coming months. Something to track.
posted 2:50 am PST | Permalink

Please Shut Up About Civil War Now

Can America's pop culture pundits stop with the breathless articles like this one, with writers all a-flutter because you can work in some facile analysis of current events into the framework of a superhero comic book? It doesn't seem to me like this should be a big deal anymore. Like professional wrestling, superhero comics have at their core conflicts and identity issues; you can do a rough overlay of just about any real-world issue where ideas are in conflict or identities are in question onto any number of superhero comics runs. When the creators make a story that reaches out for those comparisons, it's that much easier to find a few parallels.

imageNow, maybe Mark Millar will be the first writer to use the specific metaphor he has at his disposal to say something insightful and constructive about those issues, but I suspect that as in the past the real world comparisons exist primarily to flatter the entertainment value of the superhero comic, not so much to say anything that isn't, well, kind of dumbassed. The same way that the X-Men or similar series can only go so far when speaking to identity and outsider issues before people begin to realize shooting raybeams from your eyes really is different enough from sexual or racial identity to kind of limit any insight to be gained, I can't imagine a point of view emerging from Civil War that isn't constrained or made foolish by these characters' very specific fantasy identities. I understand getting some juice from real-world concerns, and it can make for effective pulp. When I was a kid I liked it when Captain America saw a high government official commit suicide. I thought that was way deep, man. But I never go there when thinking about Watergate. While Mark Millar's Captain America and I may both worry about civil rights and the dispensation of power in the United States, the moment this leads Cap to take out a battalion of Secret Agents to buttress his point he's kind of lost to me as a potential partner-in-ideology.

Marvel's Aubrey Sitterson disagrees with me.
posted 1:34 am PST | Permalink

June 21, 2006

Quick hits
Praise Be To Death Note
Pune Loves The Graphic Novel
Joe Quesada Launches Cup of Blog
Local Comic Shop Profile: Fantasy Factory
University of South Alabama Loves Civil War
All-Star Mega-Publisher Team-Up (Bizarro Version)


CRN-C: Neyestani And Qassemfar To Be Tried In Iranian Revolutionary Court

imageAn office in Iran with the by-itself semi-nightmarish name of "The Prosecutor's Office in Charge of Investigating Government Employees Offenses" has referred cartoonist Mana Neyestani and his editor Mehrdad Qassemfar, both previously of the newspaper Iran, to stand in Islamic Revolution Court under changes of inciting ethnic unrest. The IRC tends to deal with the country's most severe and troubling crimes, and is further bad news for the cartoonist and editor, arrested after civic unrest was tied into a cartoon by Neyestani in the paper's weekly Iran Jomeh featuring a cartoonist speaking in a minority language.

A single judge alone will try the case. Authorities have asked for the highest penalty possible.

The announcement came from Cartoonists Rights Network -- Canada, an offshoot of Cartoonists Rights International formed June 9.
posted 3:15 am PST | Permalink

Tony Twist Case Upheld By Court

Both ESPN and are quoting local media that the Missouri Court of Appeal has upheld a $15 million jury verdict against Todd McFarlane and Todd McFarlane Productions for the naming of a mob boss "Tony Twistelli" in the Spawn comic book. tracks the case as follows:
A jury awarded Tony Twist, who was an enforcer (one of those players fans of opposing teams love to hate), $15 million after a four-week trial in 2004, which was actually the second trial in the case. The presiding judge threw out a $24.5 million verdict in the 2000 first trial and his ruling was upheld by an appeals court, but then the Missouri Supreme Court ordered a new trial (in 2003), which resulted in the 2004 verdict of $15 million.

Todd McFarlane Productions declared bankruptcy after the $15 million was first awarded, citing the judgment as its biggest debt. says that McFarlane's lawyers plan further appeals, but neither of the venues that could hear an appeal are obligated to do so.

Twist played for the St. Lous Blues and Quebec Nordiques. In the original claim Twist said the depiction harmed his ability as a potential product endorser and broadcast personaltiy when his playing days were over.
posted 3:06 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Neil Gaiman on Lost Girls

posted 2:53 am PST | Permalink

2006 AAEC Conference Results Links

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has a nice link list up for the issues covered at their annual convention, June 7-10, if you want to see what's on the minds of editorial cartoonists these days. One thing that's nice about this year's run is that with the international incidents regarding editorial cartooning there was material other than the usual panic about the decline of the profession in North America to be discussed.
posted 2:33 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Dulce Pinzon’s Photos

posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Tom Gauld Designed Video

From the Comics Journal's message board comes this link from which "CHECK OUT DIRTY UK'S EXCELLENT NEW ED HARCOURT VIDEO" needs to be clicked in order to enjoy a music video with art and design by the cartoonist Tom Gauld. I enjoyed it.
posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: David Choe Prison Art

posted 2:17 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Ras Rules Uganda
The Evolution Of The Comic Strip In India
I Would Pay To See The Adventures Of This Crew
Muhammed Cartoon Riots as Regional Political Shift
With My Luck The Homework Would Involve Cosplay


June 20, 2006

Report: Rich Johnson Out at DC Comics

If true, and I have no reason to think otherwise, it's another step in the slow transformation in the company's approach to sales and marketing, now entering its 18th month. Johnson was listed on DC's masthead as VP -- Book Trade Sales.
posted 4:47 am PST | Permalink

Donald Reilly, 1933-2006


The artist and cartoonist Donald Reilly, a longtime veteran of The New Yorker passed away on Sunday in Connecticut from complications relating to cancer. He was 72.

imageReilly was born in 1933 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After receiving an undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College, he entered the Navy. After leaving the service, he attended art class at Cooper Union. He graduated in 1963, and began his association with The New Yorker in 1964. According to the New York Times obituary, Reilly worked for many of the top cartoon and illustration clients of the period, including Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post, Mad and Colliers. He would go on to do over 1100 cartoons and 16 covers for his most representative client; his cartoons were distinguished by use of wash and a certain bluntness to the jokes -- like the most emblematic cartoons in The New Yorker during the William Shawn era there was very little wasted time in a Reilly cartoon.

Reilly is survived by a wife, a sister, three children, three stepchildren and eight grandchildren.
posted 4:16 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Kramers Ergot 6 Preview

posted 3:09 am PST | Permalink

Scoop: Lost Romano Scarpa Story


The European blogs are all over this news item from Scoop: a previously unpublished story from one of the more esteemed Italian Disney Comics cartoonist Romano Scarpa will appear in Mickey Mouse and Friends #290. The story was originally done in 1984 for a licensing program, but wasn't picked up.
posted 2:51 am PST | Permalink

Jim Lee Hits Montana For The CBLDF

Here's a nice story: a crew of comics creators headed by Jim Lee will appear at Missoula Montana's Muse Comics in conjunction with the new Superman movie in order to raise money for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fun. The day will included a signing, a couple of auctions, and a screening of the movie. What's nice about this is that Muse Comics' Amanda Fisher is a really well-liked and respected retailer, and you don't generally have events like these taking place in anything less than giant cities.
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink

Rigozzi Top 25 Under 25 Down Under


Illustrator and all-too-infrequent cartoonist Leigh Rigozzi was named one of Australia's top 25 visual artists aged 25 and under.
posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink

Oni, Platinum Seek Talent, Properties

I'd like to say "It's summer and that means comics talent search season!" but that's not true, as I don't really remember a whole lot of comics talent searches in summer or any other season. It seems like it would make sense, though, and certainly with summer convention season comes portfolio reviews that sort of have that same whiff of despair and hope all mixed together. Anyway, Oni Press gives details on their talent search to Chris Arrant here. Platinum, the company that figured out a way to have adaptation-ready comics properties without all that troublesome comics publishing, will be doing theirs in conjunction with NBC's San Diego affiliate.
posted 2:17 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Scott McCloud Interview

posted 1:24 am PST | Permalink

Those May Direct Market Numbers

People seem really happy with the May Direct Market numbers; John Miller's analysis at Comics Buyer's Guide is usually the most sober -- for instance he's quick to point out with these numbers that the comparison between 2006 and 2005 is a comparison between five and four shipping dates -- and even he's impressed.

I'm not sure I find the numbers all that surprising. The major players have been priming the Direct Market for a couple of years to handle more than one really big crossover series and company-backed title relaunches at the top of the charts. I'm happy that the market is able to handle this many copies of anything, and I know I may receive some grief for this, but these results seems to me like it could be proof the Direct Market can hold a certain number of ping pong balls in its mouth more than evidence of a flowering of general DM health. I would like to see other signifiers. For instance, I'm curious to see if this surge leads to new stores, which would seem to me a necessary extension of overall market health, and the continuing absence of which would definitely characterize its nature.
posted 12:49 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Spider-Man Science Victory
Mike Richardson on Will Eisner
Rocketship Hosted Alison Bechdel, Too
Missed It: Harlequin Brings Manga In-House
Local Cartoonist Profile: Susan Fleming Hotard
Larry Levine's Strip Has a Size Question For You
Article on Ads in Comics: Nothing New From Last Time
Graphic Memoir Fun Home Makes Summer Reading List


June 19, 2006

Go, Look: Painted McCay Art Photos


Scoop has photos of the recent early Winsor McCay painted Sundays find. You know, if more Sunday cartoons featured pigs being shot at with cannons, I would buy the Sunday newspaper.
posted 5:26 am PST | Permalink

Seattle’s 2-Newspaper Group Plods On

In a story we've been tracking here for quite some time, a community group fighting for Seattle to remain a two newspaper town will continue its advocacy despite recent setbacks. The Seattle Times has sought to end a Joint Operating Agreement with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer widely believed necessary for the P-I to continue publishing. If the P-I closes, it's like dozens of newspaper strips will lose the Seattle market, and syndicates will also lose clients because the remaining paper will no longer fell it's necessary to buy a promising feature and hold it without publication so that their competitor doesn't get it.
posted 5:13 am PST | Permalink

When The Rabble Start Reading Art Comics, We Snobs Must Go To Europe

posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink A Civil War Summer


The North American direct market of comic book and hobby shops once again displayed its ability to deliver highly anticipated mainstream comic book crossovers in big numbers, as the first issue of Marvel's Civil War series crested the quarter million mark. The bigger news is that the first few issues of DC's weekly 52 performed well enough to carry DC to the overall win for the first time in 2006. rightly points out that all of these new comics were able to crowd into the top 25 without doing a lot of damage to comics already sitting there, the majority of which improved in sales. A Devil's Due Family Guy book was able to lead the graphic novels chart with a healthy 16,000 sold, which should further that segment's reputation as being more open to a smaller publisher crashing the party.

Top 300 Comics
Top 100 Graphic Novels/Trades
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink Various FIBD Updates

If I'm reading this mix of hard news, analysis and rhetorical questions correctly, it looks like there are a few news items worthy of note surrounding the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee in Angouleme. First, they have a new president, founder Francis Groux. Second, Gerard Balesiane and Ludovic Blanchier were made vice-president and treasurer, respectively. Third, the deficit caused by 2006's show with its construction problems and non-glamorous Grand Prix winner may not have been as big as first expected. There's also some sort of museum dispute reported in that piece that I'm not getting at all.
posted 3:37 am PST | Permalink

Alison Bechdel Packs Them In


Report on Portland signing and reading as depicted above here. New York Times review of Fun Home here.
posted 2:54 am PST | Permalink

What I Do With Bookscan Numbers

Occasionally people will send me Bookscan numbers for graphic novels to see what I'll do with them. I expect they expect me to cause trouble, but the answer is that I don't really know what to do with them except stare at them. I usually break them down into a color coded list, like this one:


Then I look at issues that interest me, like 1) how many Naruto volumes Bookscan says have sold this year (275,000 as of this chart's mid-May date), 2) how many art comics make the list (almost none; this is still an extremely tough category for solid bookstore peformers particularly for as many people as enter it), 3) which strip collections make it (it's a smaller sample than most people would guess), and 4) how much money DC Comics continues to make from Alan Moore's comics (a lot). The dominance of manga is always interesting to see represented in stark black and white, and I'm always frankly surprised that several thousand of various mainstream comics collection sell eventually, not that they don't sell more.

There's enough wiggle room with Bookscan -- comics have to sell that week to make the chart; many indy bookstores aren't counted, etc. -- that it's hard to use it to catch someone in a specific lie about a book's success. And that wiggle room is legit; I know one book that had a year-ending sales figure of 5800 or so that had sold in the mid-teens according to same-time royalty statements. This Slate article indicates that the numbers are used by book commentators to make statements only when the information shows something really obvious, like when a book tanks. With the Direct Market, I'm not even sure we can do that! Still, there are general truths to be gleaned, both about the shape of the market and when some books -- some whole kinds of books -- never show up, week after week, month after month.
posted 2:50 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: 1940’s Superboy, Supergirl


Bryan Munn has a write-up on the above at his Frequential. My immediate take is that this wouldn't have an impact on recent Superboy litigation, as that has more to do with legal assignations than date of concept, but you never know. It's fun trivia, anyway.
posted 2:42 am PST | Permalink

June 18, 2006

Steve Rude: Nexus to “Rest In Peace”

Here's a note that popped up as part of Steve Rude's monthly newsletter, regarding the chances of new Nexus work with writer Mike Baron.
A sad note for those expecting the return of Nexus. It's probably not going to happen. Let's just say that Baron's scripting on the new stories were "far different" that my expectations anticipated, and I just couldn't accept them. After several months of back and forth between Mike and I, we ultimately decided to just let the book rest in peace.

The science fantasy superhero Nexus was one of the cornerstones of the independent comics movement of the 1980s, providing an enjoyable combination of flippant, minimalistic scriptwriting from Baron and gorgeous, Andrew Loomis/Dr. Seuss/Jack Kirby/Alex Toth inspired art from Rude. The property eventually ended up at Dark Horse, with declining sales results in a run of mini-series, during which notably DHP returned ownership to the creators that they had lost to First Comics. The proposed new Nexus comics described above were I think to come from Rude's self-publishing effort.

I had kind of figured we'd get one more go-around on Nexus, so even though I know it shouldn't be surprising if there isn't one because of the property's already formidable longevity and all the signs of diminished interest, it still feels like a surprise to me.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Missed It: Japan Wins Award From JCA
I'm Just Happy To Learn It Was His Tail
Globe and Mail's Graphic Novel Round-Up
Another Weird Mark Millar Article in Scotsman
More About Judge Parker Than You Ever Knew


CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Johnny Ryan (And Preview Of His New Book)


Go, Read: Second Statesman Article on Jaxon

This is the artistic legacy/appreciation type of article.

Go, Read: Profile of VCU Collection


Second Thought Of The Day

It's weird to get spam that features news of Chris Ware playing the piano.

Go, Look: Joost Swarte-Designed Theater


First Thought Of The Day

The next comics culture trend: lots more people hitting the major conventions for one day/one night or perhaps simply a day trip.
posted 2:19 am PST | Permalink

June 17, 2006

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, June 10 to June 16, 2006.

1. Word hits that Jack Jackson, the first underground cartoonist and a key figure in the development of the graphic novel, died in Texas last week by self-inflicted gun wound.

2. In "it would be funny if it weren't the opposite of funny" news, Georgia retailer Gordon Lee indicted a third time from the same late 2004 incident.

3. Iran lifts ban on newspaper Iran, which had been suspended because of a cartoon featuring a talking cockroach that triggered protests in the Azeri minority. The cartoonist and his editor are still under arrest.

Winner of the Week
Marvel, for driving legitimate, almost-gay-bat-character- level publicity to a Spider-Man related plot point within one of their crossover doohickeys. As a bonus, no character was raped or killed.

Loser of the Week
Spider-Man, doing the plot-point job for the sake of a Marvel crossover doohickey.

Quote of the Week
"I can only conclude that if mutants are, in fact 'nonhuman creatures,' they may be denied the relevant legal protections, rendering the above argument moot." -- The Disenchanted Idealist

ambassador Paul Bremer has the right idea
posted 5:42 am PST | Permalink

June 16, 2006

Little Match Man Case Overturned

The Beijing High People's Court yesterday overturned the 2004 verdict granting Zhu Zhiqiang $36,000 and a public apology from Nike for what he felt was use of his "Little Match Man" stick figure. Zhu will now pay court costs of approximately $5,000. You'd think the fact that the stick-figure design intially cost the company $3 million from a US advertising agency would be cause for aggressive litigation of its own.
posted 4:56 am PST | Permalink

Kibuishi: Flight 3 10X Initial Sales


Via Comixpedia comes this blog entry by Kazu Kibuishi that indicates the first Ballantine issue of the high-end anthology Flight and third overall has ten times as many pre-orders as the previous two volumes, which I believe were from Image.

posted 4:16 am PST | Permalink

Child Porn Charges For TN Retailer

imageIt's difficult to write a headline like that, because James Sells was only briefly a comics and hobby retailer -- from August to December of last year, when his initial arrest for statutory rape caused Hero's Hideout Comics and Collectibles to close. Still, not only is that this site's interest but it's that information, as opposed to, say, Sells' several years in the military, that the media report chooses to use on as an identifier for the accused in its lead graph.

Today's article brings news that hard drive analysis of Sells' computer has led to more charges. Worse, the paper pull out what looks like a file photo one guesses the paper took when the store opened. Using it now seems to me pretty inflammatory, as I'm sure the parents of the children in the photo are thrilled to death to see their kids in this context.
posted 2:40 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Evan Dorkin Interview

The cartoonist Evan Dorkin is always an entertaining interview, plus he's a known quantity, so I feel reasonably safe in recommending this without listening to it myself. I'd say within about four months audio and even video interviews are going to start being routine on comics-related sites.
posted 1:54 am PST | Permalink

Newsarama: Millar on Crohn’s Auctions

Newsarama does a good deed in giving mainstream comics writer Mark Millar a platform to talk about a forthcoming series of auctions to benefit Crohn's Disease research. Crohn's is a truly awful, debilitating set of circumstances for anyone to suffer through, and research into its potential cure is habitually underfunded.
posted 1:21 am PST | Permalink

June 15, 2006

Quick hits
Love That Headline
Brief Chester Brown Q&A
Next Up: Platinum's Snipe Hunt
Not Comics: Ethan Green on Film
Who Had DC In The Snakes Pool?
Wire Story: Abadazad as Future of Children's Publishing


One More Indictment For Gordon Lee

In the increasingly weird court case that is the State of Georgia versus comic book retailer Gordon Lee, last night the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced that a new indictment was procured from a special grand jury session, which will replace accusations against which the CBLDF aggressively filed motions earlier this month. That means Lee is to be arraigned yet again on July 7, and then the lawyers will likely re-file motions, perhaps adding some based on these latest permutations. According to their statements through the CBLDF, Lee's legal team believes that due to the legal issues involved this is a direct response to their recent Motion to Quash.

Lee faces two misdemeanor counts of distributing Harmful to Minor materials stemming from an October 2004 incident where during a civic Halloween promotion a pair of children were mistakenly given a free comic book featuring incidental male nudity.
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink

Jean Roba, 1930-2006


Jean Roba, the co-creator (with Maurice Rosy) of Boule et Bill and a major practitioner of classic French BD art, has passed away at 75 years old.

Roba left advertising and illustration to join the magazine Spirou in 1957, working first with Eddy Paape and then on his own. Boule et Bill, featuring a boy and his dog, was for a long time following its 1959 debut a one-page feature, becoming a longer narrative starting in 1981's "Globe Trotters." According to his entry at, Roba was also an assitant on Andre Franquin's Spirou et Fantasio feature for Le Parien Libere.

Roba's other projects included Pomme, "La Ribambelle" (with Jidehem, Yvan Delporte, and Vicq) and "Le Sixieme Your" in Trombone Illustre.
posted 1:03 am PST | Permalink

Spidey Comic Plot Point Makes News

Actually, with this headline, I was expecting a very sad story about a lonely, costumed man on a subway. The article in question, rather, is about a Marvel Comics plot point revealed in mainstream press sources before its publication in the latest Marvel "this changes everything" mini-series, Civil War.

Although I'm not invested in Spider-Man comics to know how this would hit me as a fan -- whether I would be intrigued by the move or if it would make me feel that Spider-Man was being needlessly pimped out to the latest soon-to-be-forgotten crossover -- its inexplicable nature does provide some problem-solving curiosity. Also to its benefit is that the plot point isn't someone being killed, maimed or raped.
posted 12:51 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Matt Wagner on Cooking

posted 12:49 am PST | Permalink

Vietnam Veterans to Honor Doonesbury

Garry Trudeau will receive the President's Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Vietnam Veterans of America during next month's conference in Arizona, Editor & Publisher reports. The article notes the support and honors the strip has received from the military and related organizations over the years, despite the fact that Trudeau's work is sometimes criticized by political pundits as being anti-military.
posted 12:29 am PST | Permalink

June 14, 2006

MoCCA Festival ‘06: Alternate Views

I wanted to draw attention to several letters either disputing or adding to my observations about the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art's 2006 Art Festival, namely that it was lightly attended and that one reason for this may have been the lack of calendar listings. The primary note you should read comes from the top of the organization: Ken Wong. Other cogent notes arrived from Sean Collins, Kiel Phegley, Dave Roman and Tommy Raiko. I appreciate all of the letters and the various points of view they embody.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

This week's Five For Friday results, answering the call "Name Five Comics-Related Summer Memories," are up now.

There is a lot of writing in that one, probably the most ever.
posted 10:43 pm PST | Permalink

OTBP: August’s Comic Art #8

posted 10:29 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Rob Clough Interviews Ed Piskor
Doctor Fun Ends 13 Year (!?) Run
Changes In Revised Walker History
Narbonic Moves To WebComicsNation Reviews Magic Whistle #10
Go, Read: Interview With Jerry Holkins
Marvel Book To Include Stan Lee Audio
I Totally Would Have Attended This Class Sober


Conversational Euro-Comics

posted 7:49 am PST | Permalink

Iran Lifts Ban on Newspaper

Iran has just lifted a ban on the state-run newspaper Iran, newswires are reporting today. A cartoon by Mana Neyestani featuring a talking cockroach speaking in Azeri appeared in that newspaper's weekly edition was blamed for riots by the Azeri minority. Not only was the paper suspended, the cartoonist and his editor were arrested and have been kept in the notoriously famous Evin prison. Unfortunately, they are still headed for trial, and official say the suspension being lifted will have no effect on their cases.
posted 6:42 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Scott McCloud Preview

posted 6:39 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Osprey’s Graphic Histories reports that military history specialist Osprey Publishing has launched a graphic novel imprint, with work from a number of American mainstream comics industry veterans including including longtime GI Joe comics guru Larry Hama. The most interesting two things about the story is that if I'm reading it right the comics portions of the books will be supported with other material, and that the books are decidedly non-fiction, which isn't exactly the term you apply to a whole lot of cAmerican omics, let alone those which are done in a style reminiscent of the American mainstream.
posted 1:16 am PST | Permalink Scholastic’s Next Original has their usual concise story on a forthcoming publishing event, this time on the publication by Scholastic of the original graphic novel Breaking Up. I think it's worth pointing out that after committing to Bone, Scholastic has been pretty conservative with its other comics choices. Most of what I've seen announced outside of Boneville is comics versions of already established properties. This isn't exactly a second major series commitment from a devoted single creator, and the teaming up of the collaborators here feels more like a tasteful pairing than a partnership borne out of creative need, but it is original work and one hopes there will be a lot more.
posted 12:35 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Marvel Dooms X-Men?

I'm not sure this blog entry could be any nerdier even translated into Dalek, but it's funny someone remembers that Marvel classified its mutants as "non-human" on a toy tariff issue, let alone applies it to a discussion of the "civil rights" aspects of the comic book.
posted 12:04 am PST | Permalink

June 13, 2006

Quick hits
Jim Davis Speaks on a Life in Strips
Bill Leak Speaking at Noosa Festival
International Cartoonist Profile: Ayman Kandeel
Oliphant Helps Raise Money For Truman Museum
Mister We Could Use A Man Like Herbert Hoover Again


Not Comics: Changes Coming at TCJ

The summer of on-line reorganization continues. Thus far:

1. Wizard Entertainment relaunches site.
2. Comic Book Resources adds Comics Should Be Good
3. The Great Curve Becomes Newsarama's Blog

Today, we get number four. Dirk Deppey announces that he's leaving his current position as managing editor of The Comics Journal, and will re-launch his blog "Journalista" as the centerpiece of a revived site, completely with features like the on-line availability of the magazine to subscribers getting the print edition. I think from what Dirk is saying this will include putting more of its backlog of articles on-line. The Comics Journal doesn't own all of its back material, but a lot of work done by its staffers should be fair game. I also have to imagine that if asked a good number of the freelancers would have no objection to their material being archived.

Michael Dean will assume editorship over the print magazine, which will no longer run a news section.
posted 8:03 am PST | Permalink

Franklin Fibbs Becomes Little Fibbs


The strip Franklin Fibbs, a much-liked (by me, anyway) comic strip from King Features about a first-class exaggerator, has apparently become Little Fibbs in an attempt to reposition the feature for better sales. As Jay Kennedy explained to me on Sunday the strip in its former conceptualization may have skewed older than usual in a way that could have harmed sales.

I really like this strip, and I'm kind of at a loss why it hasn't at least become a critical darling. I think the writing may embody the first new approach to that aspect of a strip since Doonesbury and the art is really clear and expressive. I liked the age of the protagonist as originally conceived, but at least the move to a younger lead is explained in a humorous way -- all of those strips were simply the "new" protagonist not exactly telling the truth.
posted 5:55 am PST | Permalink

Can 263 Million People Be Wrong?

imageThis article about a woman named Gay Nation working for Jim Davis' Paws, Inc. will probably serve a different purpose for comics fans: providing a snapshot of the Garfield sales and licensing juggernaut as it currently exists: 2600 papers, a quarter-billion readers, etc. I know it's not comics, but the nature, shape and size of Garfield's success is as important a story as exists in the last 50 years of comic strips.
posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink

Harkham to Co-Own Movie Theatre

Not comics, but sort of cool -- it looks like Sammy Harkham will be programming the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax in LA, which he'll soon co-own with his brother. Beats the crap out of my mid-20s job.
posted 3:56 am PST | Permalink

Tag-Team MoCCA Festival Reports


In time-honored Goofus and Gallant fashion, Comics Reporter is happy to present two reports on last weekend's Art Festival thrown by the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art: Chris Mautner's well-coifed walk-through from Saturday; my own erratic, messy-haired bleatings from Sunday.
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
And The Clothing You Possess
Potential PBS Cartooning Show
My New Look: A Thumb With Lips
AAEC Conference: Embrace The Web

June 12, 2006

ADV’s Troubles With Manga

The headline to this article is more interesting to me than the body, which goes into a few of the more unsuccessful ADV manga licenses. It's obvious that ADV isn't pursuing manga with any vigor, that their 2003 plans had gone mostly awry, and that current manga production had slowed down to something of a creep, but I wasn't aware they had made any formal decision to end that part of their business as "not to be continued" would suggest.
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Howard Chaykin on Will Eisner


The author Bob Andelman has launched a weekly blog featuring interviews done in conjunction with or in response to his 2005 Will Eisner biographer A Spirited Life. This makes him likely the most dedicated comics figure biographer ever, and perhaps the bravest. Click through the image for the first posting, a chat with the cartoonist Howard Chaykin. Chaykin is in good form here.
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink

June 11, 2006

Go, Read: Profile of Dan Nadel

"Rock music and comic book ninjas: Welcome to the world of author-publisher Dan Nadel. The 29-year-old is a native of the District and won a Grammy last year for his work co-designing the packaging for Wilco's 'A Ghost Is Born.' He also teaches the history of illustration at the New School in New York and edits The Ganzfeld, a compendium of avant-garde comics that has four editions to date. He also publishes coffee-table books by bands, fine artists and cartoonists through his 'visual culture' company, PictureBox Inc." -- from this weekend's Washington Post profile of the writer and designer Dan Nadel.
posted 11:45 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Anke Feuchtenberger

posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink

OTBP: Tom Gauld’s Move To The City

image"The book tells the story of two men who travel from their rural home to the city where they plan to start a new life. It’s never completely clear what they are leaving behind or why. The story focuses on their journey: they talk and joke, they camp out for the night and worry about wild animals, they reach a road and find themselves unsure of which direction to take, they dream and eat and sleep, and they imagine what the city will be like. The whole story is done in Gauld’s minimalist style and droll humor." -- The critic and cartoonist Derik A Badman on Move To The City, from CR favorites Tom Gauld and B.u.l.b. Comix, a story for now only available in French. Available in North America from The Drama Store.
posted 10:45 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Fat Postcards

posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Global Comics Exhibit Hits Milan
Cartoonists: Last Stand Against Spin
Cartoonist's Legacy Reaches 70th Year
Wilkinson Hits Wounded/Dead Journalist Issue
Missed It: Writer Talks About Series Cancellation
Media Pundit Still Whining About Editorial Cartoon
Missed It: Van Von Hunter Strip Gets Release Date

CR Sunday Magazine

I Am Here Today



Go, Look: Superhero Drawings



Go, Look: BD Store Photos



The Greatest Comics-Related Link Ever



Go, Read: Don Winslow, War Hero


If that name doesn't ring a bell, try here first.

Also, that is one healthy bad-ass leap.


Go, Look: Sports Cartoons


Steve Van Buren's mighty meatloaf of a head deserves its own graphic novel.


Go, Read: Archived Groth/Eastman Interview


That's a PDF, so be careful.
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink

June 9, 2006

Jack Jackson, 1941-2006


Jack "Jaxon" Jackson, a cartoonist whose influence was so varied he was a seminal figure in underground comix, alternative comics and the rise of the graphic novel, died Thursday, June 8 according to reports emanating from one of his publishers, Fantagraphics Books. He had less than a month ago turned 65 years old.

Jackson was born in 1941 in Texas. He is widely considered the first underground cartoonist, making the transition from doing comics in various underground publications to making his own God Nose in 1964. Five years later, as the scene had developed Jackson found a wider place in it, co-founding Rip-Off Press.

Starting in the late 1970s, Jackson's career made a shift the likes of which are rarely seen in any art form when he became a chronicler of Texas, and through it American, history. Scrupulously researched works like Los Tejanos, Lost Cause and Comanche Moon, some of which were touched with a hint of with deranged fantasy and some of which weren't, were collected at first into graphic novels while the later one were born of that form. Jackson's histories were studies in misapprehension and out-of-control appetites, authoritative portraits of a region whose future was shaped from the buffeting winds of greed and desire. Of all the early graphic novels that appeared in the late 1970s, Jackson's were the most like the form as we understand it now, and would stand out the least were they published for the first time today.

What made Jackson's work a compelling force was that these insights were communicated from some of the most pungent, terrific art of the underground generation. At first glance, Jackson's art work is much like the classically rendered mainstream comics art of the 1950s, something by John Severin or Joe Maneely. But spending time with Jackson's art, it takes on a more evocative role, the expressive line hinting at the natural state of man. The feathering on an officer's coat might suggest decay, while Jackson's figures were sensual and violent. Jackson's Texas was capable of grotesquery and atrocity because Jackson's art was able to communicate extreme, transcendent moments without hesitation or shame.

Jack Jackson, author of the first underground comic, a driving force behind the first independent underground publisher, creator of the first Fantagraphics graphic novel, and the owner of an esteemed body of work to match anyone in his field, will be missed by his peers and by fans of the art form. Friends of a man described by publisher Gary Groth as a gentleman and a scholar will miss those personal qualties as well.


A collective memory entry featuring Jack Jackson will appear on Tuesday.

Until then, please feel free to visit his Lambiek page, his entry, a Comics Journal message thread about his passing, an interview and his page at Denis Kitchen's agency.
posted 11:27 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, June 3 to June 9, 2006.

1. Not exactly comics, but Marvel Entertainment Inc. authorizes $100 million in a buy back plan, which sets off speculation that they may be hurting from the PR blow of Avi Arad leaving the studio end of things for his own production company more than they originally let on.

2. Manu Larcenet wins award declaring him the best cartoonist working in the world today, at Stripdagen Haarlem.

3. Alison Bechdel's Fun Home builds momentum.

Winners of the Week
Viz, who got to announce their second Bookscan chart sweep.

Loser of the Week
The late Bob Kane's already less-than-stellar reputation for having drawn anything at all in those early Batman tales.

Quote of the Week
"More comics." -- Kevin Huizenga's future plans.

Johnny Ryan has the right idea
posted 11:25 pm PST | Permalink

Look, It’s MoCCA Festival Weekend!

Highlights of the growing New York City comics art festival, social and otherwise:

image* Cartoon LA gallery show and 30th Anniversary of Fantagraphics party on Friday at Rocketship (208 Smith St, Brooklyn), 8 PM.

* Sparkplug and Bodega Distribution release party for Mine Tonight and Last Cry For Help, Barcade, 8 pm.

* First day of the festival at the Puck Building (295 Lafayette), Saturday, 11 AM - 6 PM. $8 admission (or $10 for the weekend). Please be nice to CR special correspondent Chris Mautner. The Festival's latest web update.

* Fantagraphics and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund fundraiser, Parkside Lounge (317 E Houston), 7 PM.

* Cake Shop afterparty co-hosted by Meathaus, Saturday evening, some time between the show's end and the start of the event two items below. Heck if I can find out any exact information.

* Comics Comics and PictureBox release party, Participant Inc. 95 Rivington St, Saturday, 7-9 PM.

* Alex and Mary from Rocketship hosting an After-After Party, Saturday, Shades of Green (125 E. 15th St), 11 PM. $3 cover.

* Second day of the festival at the Puck Building (295 Lafayette), Sunday, 11 AM - 6 PM $8 admission (or $10 for the weekend). The Festival's latest web update.

I know there are other social events and the like out there, but these are the ones Friday-Sunday that sent me e-mail and I'm having a hard time finding the others. I'm not around to be e-mailed today, either. Sorry!

In terms of expected news from the show:

* There's always a small run of debut material, less brand-new, not-in-stores-yet material from Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly than such debuts from smaller publishers like Sparkplug and PictureBox and tons of stuff prepared for the show by self-publishers and small press cartoonists. I'm interested in seeing Dan Nadel's new comics magazine, for one.

* If Top Shelf is selling the Alan Moore/Melinda Gebbie Lost Girls, it should be very interesting to see how it does.

* Maybe the most interesting news is that KLA will launch. That's industry veteran Denis Kitchen and designer John Lind's new "agency and packaginig entity" In their initial press they talk about already having signed Drew Weing and Eleanor Davis -- who would be among the first two or three unaffiliated talents I'd seek out were I in the same position -- as well as Todd Hignite and Bernie Mireault. A specific agency targeting comics publications is a great idea, and setting up at MoCCA should cause as much excitement in a certain part of comics as Kevin Eastman making that convention appearance where he came back having bought 612 projects for Tundra back in the day, just not with the ripping-off-the-rich-guy aspect involved.

Ed Cunard is very excited about the show. So is Independent Propaganda.
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink

June 8, 2006

Go, Look: Reinhard Kleist

posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink

Ali Dilem Speaks at AAEC Conference

The Algerian political cartoonist Ali Dilem is attending the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists annual meeting near Denver, according to this local media article. The cartoonist has been arrested several times in his home country for his work, and was sentenced to jail time as recently as a year ago. The article also covers some of the Danish Cartoons Controversy talk going on at the conference. The AAEC seems to do a good job bringing in outside opinion-holders on certain issues, and seems to have done so in this case, although the rest of the description of what was said doesn't really inspire me one way or the other.

Another report on the general debate about religion at the conference can be found at Editor & Publisher.
posted 11:20 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Al Jaffee In Vice


This is a fine interview that did not make it into the most recent all-comics issue of the magazine.

thanks, Bradford Mackay
posted 11:15 pm PST | Permalink

CBG Publishes 1996 Sales Figures

One of the great resource additions of the last few years, an additional set of Direct Market sales numbers have been archived on-line at Comics Buyer's Guide, according to John Jackson Miller:
More crackling numeric goodness from a bygone age, and an odd artifact from the Exclusivity Wars, ten years gone by. We've now reached the edge of the "Dead Zone" going back; while I have resources to draw upon for mid-1995 to early 1996, hopping over them to cover the years before 1995 will almost be easier.

Link to CBG's story
Direct Link to 1996 Figures
posted 11:10 pm PST | Permalink

Speech Report: Marjane Satrapi

The cartoonist Marjane Satrapi has quickly become one of the best public speakers/presentation givers in comics, her stock approach a whirl of jokes and insightful anecdotes all delivered in very charming fashion, whether to a large room or a single reporter. This blog write-up of a Seattle appearance -- Satrapi's work had been featured in a city-wide reading promotion so one would imagine many in the audience was familiar with her comics -- captures the heart of a Satrapi engagement, I think.
posted 10:50 pm PST | Permalink

Milton Caniff’s Aircraft Insignia Art


From longtime CR Reader John E. Williams:
Hey Tom, long time no see. I am currently working as an Advanced Graphics Specialist for the Navy in D.C., and yesterday an Admiral asked me to scan in the attached artwork. This is an aircraft insignia drawn by Milton Caniff for a Navy Night Squadron during World War II. The squadron was formed in 1943, so I'm guessing that's when Caniff was commissioned to do the work.

The piece I scanned is not an original but was the actual art presented by Caniff to the Navy. He enclosed a card with the piece with the following printed text:


This will serve as a release to the Navy Department of an aircraft insigne drawn by me for VFN-79, (recommissioned CVLG (N)-41, 25 August 1944).

The design shows a circular navigational star chart of night blue on which a stylized composite of navigational stars is shown in white (as if the latitude of the observer were 40 degrees North at 8 hours R.A. and at 16 Hours R.A.) to indicate the wide range of the squadron's activities.

Against the blue circle is the figure of a woman (symbolizing the traditional figurehead of ships of the line) astride a black charger in full gallop. The woman brandishes a tufted spear and shields her face with a black cloak, the ends of which stream in the wind. The charger's eyes are fiery red, symbolizing the fire power hidden beneath the swift darkness of the squadron's operations. The black cloak indicates the secrecy of the unit's missions. The spear is the type used by the American Indian, signifying the American character of the outfit's personnel. The lance further symbolizes the speedy destruction of the fighter cover overhead, balanced by the destructive power of the low level attack contained in the charger's hooves. The lance is grasped in the gloved hand of the woman, symbolizing the mailed fist under the velvet glove, all of which indicates the danger to the enemy in the surprise attack under cover of darkness which the squadron is able to deliver.

Finally, the golden hair and blue costume of the rider is in the tradition of the colors of NAVY SERVICE.


I thought you might be interested in seeing and possibly posting this drawing.

Thanks, John. And to run the disclaimer John sent along: "No problem with releasing this to a comics historian/writer, but clearly identify it as art created for the first night fighter carrier air group in Pacific in WWII, Night Light Carrier Air Group 41 (CVLG(N) 41)."
posted 10:45 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: American Comic Archive

posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

NYT: Two Cartoonists To World Cup

I have no idea who exactly, but they claim to be sending a "blogger/cartoonist" and a manga artist as part of a special coverage team.
posted 10:25 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
We3 Made This Lady Cry
ADV Launches Merchandise Store
Luckily, Rascals Don't Run On Gas
Local Cartoonist Profile: Ron Fontes
Virgin Comics To Work With Alex Ross

Worst T-Shirt Sales Logo Ever


Obviously an unfortunate goof-up; even the people who don't manage licensed properties with vaguely Nietzschean undertones generally skip going to the American Nazi Party for their descriptives. Discussion through the image, plus from the guy who sent it, plus here and here. Image from here.

thanks, Gene Kannenberg
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

June 7, 2006

New York Daily News Suggests Comics

Whenever I see a list of recommended comics like this one -- Watchmen, Maus, Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #1, Sandman #50, The Dark Knight Returns, X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, From Hell, American Splendor, Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Marvels and as extras, Optic Nerve and Torso -- I have almost no idea what to think. I don't dislike any of those comics, and think four or five of them are extremely good. At the same time, the list is anchored with superhero comics, two or three of which are historically important rather than (in my opinion) effective or compelling art. I wouldn't go in that direction, not since I expanded my comics reading in the mid-1980s, and I'm frequently surprised, for instance, that so many people so well-read in the comics form are hurtling out of their homes to see X-Men 3 on the first weekend, or that discussion of some strange DC crossover receives more passionate debate than a book like The Ticking.

So I'm confused. Is the best of the art form really still rooted in that material? Is there a big group of people out there who would make similar lists given knowledge of the broad spectrum of comics this author obviously has? Is there a split between people who find value in a lot of superhero material along with other sorts of comics, and those who largely don't care for the fruits of that genre? What is the nature of that split in terms of approach to comics?

If anyone has a thought, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Derik A Badman

In response to your comments on the NY Daily News "best of" list. I find any list suspect or highly subjective at best. The New York Times Book Review recently did a best fiction of the past 20 years list and there have been plenty of people finding argument with the results.

Personally, there are very few books on that Daily News list that I would consider "best" and that I would actually recommend to people, particularly non-comics readers. Maybe Maus or From Hell depending on their tastes. The lack of Love and Rockets on a list of best comics is a crime. The list seems to be veering between "best" and "historically important to the medium." I'd put Fantastic Four, Amazing Fantasy, and Dark Knight in the latter category. Sandman 50 seems like the weird out of place inclusion.

Though looking at it again, the introduction says "influential examples of some key genres." That further muddles the list by calling comics a "genre", which would be sensical if they had stuck to one genre (i.e. superheroes), but the inclusion of From Hell, Maus, American Splendor, and Sandman belie that.

I could spend some time making my own list (couldn't we all), but I won't. I won't put much weight to that Daily News list.


Gerry Alanguilan
So I'm confused. Is the best of the art form really still rooted in that material? Is there a big group of people out there who would make similar lists given knowledge of the broad spectrum of comics this author obviously has? Is there a split between people who find value in a lot of superhero material along with other sorts of comics, and those who largely don't care for the fruits of that genre? What is the nature of that split in terms of approach to comics?

Hello Tom!

I'd like to offer an analogy that explains, at least to me, why there seems to be more attention given to superhero comics than others. The analogy is a little off beat, but in my point of view, it's indicative of the nature of appreciation fans may have on different material.

I like both the British shows Red Dwarf and Brittas Empire, both starring the talented Chris Barrie. Both shows were shot and shown roughly during the same time period. I find them both excellently written and hilarious, and I often see-saw between which I like better. And yet when I look around, there seems to be much more attention given to Red Dwarf as there are conventions complete with fans in costumes, fully packed DVDs, and a whole slew of fan websites. In comparison, Brittas Empire has bare bones DVDs, no conventions, and websites long abandoned by their creators.

To me, that clearly shows that the fans of fantasy/sci-fi material to be more vocal of their support, more rabid in their appreciation and thus attract more media attention, creating an impression of popularity that other material is often not perceived to have. Even if books like Maus, Gemma Bovery or Epileptic have much wider international readership, their "fans" tend to be less vocal, less rabid, and less likely to write "Awesome!" "Fantastic!" "Amazing!" in their blogs. There are no conventions where people go around dressed as Peter Stillman Vladek Spiegelman dressed as a mouse, for instance.


Michael Nicolai

Just to avoid any confusion, The Daily News is not a very good newspaper. Despite having the largest comics section of all the new york papers, it's only a notch above The New York Post, which is the worst newspaper I've ever read. Anyone who seriously suggests Amazing #15 for a list of best comics is just showing off that they know what Spider-Man's first appearance is. Anyone who has ever read it knows there's the Spider-Man origin and another 15 pages of twilight-zone rejects that belong in a quarter bin. File this under "Biff, Bam, Pow!"

The question you raise is whether "the best of the art form is still rooted in that material". I would say yes, along with comic strips and manga. It all fits together. The "Us versus Them" mentality of art comics doesn't attract readers any more than the "underwear-on-the-outside" set. To ignore what is undeniably the largest genre of comics is another form of fanboy elitism. A DC book by Frank Miller is still a Frank Miller book.

I started seriously reading comics in the early 90's, and it was as easy for me to get Fantagraphics books or Cerebus as it was to get Batman, so I may be biased. I understand the need for serious criticism, and why the superhero books are so bad for your brain. ButI also think there is a wealth of people who understand that there's more to the medium than that genre, and who would dismiss a list that puts Fantastic Four #1 over Optic Nerve. Comics have made it, baby, the rest of the world is just catching up.


David Oakes

Yes, there is a split, a deep divide even, between those people who like Superhero comics and those who do not. And from what I have seen (disclaimer: I am firmly in the "Superheroes have value" camp) it is mostly a case of the advocacy of the converted.

Until the (very) recent rise of Manga, Superhero comics were for all intents and purposes the "gateway" into the medium. And that gateway was aimed at ten-year-old boys. Most people who tired of that material simply drifted away, becoming the target audience for all of those "Biff! Pow! Comics aren't just for kids anymore!" articles that are still being written. But some people got tired of superheroes, and yet still stayed.

Maybe they found Elfquest and realized that the medium was more than the genre. Maybe they discovered Hate and found stories that were directed at a 21-year-old male. Maybe they enjoyed the artistic validity that Maus granted their hobby. But one thing they all had in common was they came to believe the "Superheroes are for ten year-olds" rule, more than the people still reading them, more even than the people creating them. Whatever comics they were into now became an "evolution", a higher form of Art. Those that gave up on comics were ignorant of the genius of the medium. And those who stuck with Superheroes were the worst, blasphemous heretics who degraded the entire medium with their heathen practices. You see a similar pattern with Film: Consumers, Fans, and "Students of the Art".

Is WHttMoT "Great Art"? No, even I won't say that. But I would still put it on a list of "Great Comics", for the same reason I would put "Die Hard" on a list of "Great Films": It does what it sets out to do very well, and is perhaps a little better than it needed to be to be as successful as it was. It both validates the genre and adminishes it to do better.

With Spider-Man et al bringing Superheroes back to public conciousness with comics - and Manga bringing back comics without Superheroes - I think we may finally be getting past the Thesis of Pop Culture and the Antithesis of High Art, and may finally be reaching a synthesis where you don;t have to prove your "street cred" by mentioning Dark Phoenix, your "Art School chops" by invoking Maus, but can simply have a "Best of " list that is actually defined by "Hey, these are good."

Well, a guy can dream, can't he?


Kurt Busiek

When newspapers and magazines publish this sort of list, I'm strongly in favor of them including Marvels, because I like money.

I think more of them should include Astro City, both because there are more volumes, and because I receive a higher percentage of the cover price.


Gene Kannenberg

You're right -- like any list, this one's odd, and anyone (who actually bothers to) would disagree with at least parts of it. The intro does set this up squarely as a "what do fans love?" piece as opposed to "what's best?", so the prepoderence of capes neither surprises me nor seems out of place.

But even then, the types of choices in the comics section don't really seem to match those in the others. Every section besides the comics one includes an "old school" listing of early examples. I could see FF#1 and AF#15 in such a supporting role, I suppose; although, like others have mentioned, I don't think these "first appearances" are as good quality-wise as they are important impetus-wise. So they don't really seem on a par with "Bride of Frankenstein" or even "Things to Come."

If anything, given the "fan"-obsessed nature of the overall piece, I'm surprised to see MAUS there at all - seems like an obligatory nod than an actual endorsement in this context. I think AMERICAN SPLENDOR squeaks by because of the popular and highly regarded movie connection, and Tomine certainly has fankid-cred. I've yet to see the fans go wild at any Spiegelman appearance I've witnessed. But come to think of it, at his next speaking engagement I'd love to see people showering the stage with cigarettes to get him to do an encore.


Dylan Horrocks

I reckon it's as simple as the fact that many people have heard that "comics have grown up!" or "comics are cool" and are trying to pay attention and advertise the fact. But they don't *really* know what they're talking about. Their sense of the landscape of comics is still very limited, so when they go looking for landmarks, they only see what's within that narrow viewpoint. I expect if you mentioned 'Kramer's Ergot' or Blutch or even Chris Ware to these people, they'd just look at you blankly.

I mean, most people have a sense that movies are supposedly an art form these days, but still only know about Hollywood blockbusters. When I go down to the local video rental store, I always get a kick out of what's in the 'Highly Recommended' section. 'Dances With Wolves' and 'Gladiator' will get pride of place, while something like 'Control Room' or 'Tout va bien' - if they're in the store at all - will be buried in the 'Thrillers' section or something.

That's okay, though. It's funny. As my sister's always saying: "our problem is we're just too niche. Even in our niche, we're niche..."

P.S. It's also like the way I get invited to literary festivals, as a 'New Zealand graphic novelist' - and then asked endless questions about Batgirl... Oh well... 😊


Josh Neufeld

my quick take on it is that the superhero stuff is from childhood, and the non-capes stuff is appreciated from a more literary standpoint. even though i don't read any superhero comics now, i still have a passionate attachment to many of the same comics the writer cites (esp. Watchmen, Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, and The Dark Knight Returns), all of which appeared in my teenage years. the other stuff, which i also have a great affinity for, i learned to appreciate as i got older and my tastes -- and my aspirations as a cartoonist myself -- broadened. again, i can't argue with sacks's choices (esp. Maus, From Hell, and American Splendor [i'm biased there!]).

of course i could add many more good (and overlooked) titles, but that doesn't necessarily take away from any of his other choices (tho' i've rotuinely been underwhelmed by Optic Nerve and consider it far inferior to, say, Eightball. i've also never heard of, let alone read, Torso).

anyway, i am definitely of two minds as a comic book consumer. when i'm feeling energetic and smart, i choose alternative/independent/literary comics from my bedside pile; but when i'm looking for a cozy, nostalgic thrill, i re-read superhero classics from my childhood and teenage years.
posted 11:45 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Springrolll

posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink

Checking In On The French Top 10

Here's a listing of the top ten comics in the French-language market for the week ending June 2. Say what you want about the sometimes uninspiring mainstream of BD that tends to dominate such lists, this iteration sure has a couple of fine artists up at the top of the charts.

image1 - Rendez-Vous A Paris (Le Sommeil Du Monstre #3), Enki Bilal, Casterman
2 - L'Etrangleur (L'Etrangleur #3), Jacques Tardi, Casterman
3 - Le Sacrifice (Gil St-Andre #8), J-Charles Kraehn/Sylvain Vallee, Glenat
4 - Plus Blond Que Jamais (Les Blondes #4), Gaby, Soleil
5 - La Verite Sur Les Mamans, Monsieur B, Albin Michel
6 - Premier Match (Foot 2 Rue #1), Mathieu Mariolle/Cardona, Soleil
7 - Le Tombeau D'Orient (INRI-TS #14), Convard/Falque/Wachs/Paul, Glenat
8 - La Croisade S'Amuse, Jul, Albin Michel
9 - 1666 (L'Histoire Secret Volume 5), Pecau/Beau/Pilipovic, Delcourt
10. La Grande Battue (Legende #3), Yves Swolfs, Soleil
posted 11:15 pm PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Another View Of BEA

Paul Constant of Seattle's The Stranger provides a decent look at what Book Expo America is like for a chunk of people perhaps more in the flow of the wider book industry than I would guess most comics people are at this point, a mix of industry temperature-taking, musing over next year's hot books, the overwhelming nature of the floor and being treated nicely at various social functions. Honestly, I can't quite say what struck me about the article, but it seemed like a useful second look at an increasingly important and no-longer-novel event.
posted 10:45 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jesse Marsh Comics

posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
The Story Of A Manga Mural
Martin Koslowski To Show In Poland
Disney Mobile Comics Debut In Japan
I Wonder If The Staff Will Sleep On A Sofa?
AiT/Planet Lar Picks Up Restock Fee For Summer

If I Were In Philly, I’d Go To This


A reading of Miriam Katin's We Are On Our Own, Barnes and Noble, 1805 Walnut St, Philadelphia, 7-8 PM. More information at some part of this site.
posted 2:22 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Mike Manley In Philly


I always enjoy reading Mike Manley's thorough convention write-ups. Click through the image above to get his impressions of Wizard Entertainment's recent Philadelphia show.
posted 1:01 am PST | Permalink

Musa Gumus Wins PortoCartoon Prize


The Turkish cartoonist Musa Gumus has won the 8th PortoCartoon World Festival grand prize. The contest is organized by the National Printing Museum in Porto, Portugal. A total of 1,360 works from 400 cartoonists working out of 50 countries took part in the competition. Gumus' cartoon was part of the theme "Desertification and Land Degradation."

A cartoonist from Slovenia won second prize; third prize went to a Belgian.
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Wide Awake 666


Edited by: Justin Gammon, Duane Ballenger, J Chris Campbell
Info: October 2006, Full Color, 112 pages, 5" x 8" Perfect Bound, $9.95 US funds, ISBN 0-9749266-9-8
Contributors: Andrew Davis, Andy Runton, Ashley Holte, Ben Towle, Brad McGinty, Chris Pitzer, Claudine Hellmuth, Dave Newton, Duane Ballenger, Eleanor Davis, Gregory Dickens, J. Chris Campbell, Jason Gammon, Jeaux Janovsky, Jenn Young, Josh Cotter, Josh Drews, Josh Latta, Justin Gammon, Pat Lewis, Patrick Dean, Rob Patterson, Rob Ullman, Scott Elingburg and more...
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink

June 6, 2006

Go, Look: Jason T. Miles

posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Gluyas Williams

posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Introducing Phantomville
Professionals Turn To Comics
Local Cartoonist Profile: Phil Watson
Local Reuben Division Winner Profile: Bob Rich

The Surprise Big Book of 2006?


I don't think Alison Bechdel of Dykes To Watch Out For is generally ignored as I suspect some other people believe: when one does a serial strip, even one supported by a run of well-received books, there are only so many moments on which to hang profiles and press attention -- this is true of "mainstream" newspaper cartoonists as well. Bechdel is generally admired and her work well-liked; people are aware of her work even if everyone doesn't share the same opinion about it, which is about all anyone can ask for. Still, I think it's worth noting that the current comics explosion is big enough, and covered in an odd enough way, that a major book like the new Fun Home can show up in the marketplace with the requisite pre-publication champions and a few items of anticipatory press but still feel like it came out of nowhere. Here's a nice profile of the artist. Click through the image for Douglas Wolk's take on the book.
posted 1:41 am PST | Permalink

Curtis Moves Onto Children’s Books

Stacy Curtis, one of several editorial cartoonists phased out at newspapers across the country in the last five years, is planning a move into children's books. He has signed with the firm of Shannon Associates. I thought Curtis' case was interesting in that unlike some editorial cartoonists whose positions were elminated, Curtis did a lot of work on local issues. I hope to do a follow-up talk with Curtis about that and other issues in the next couple of weeks.
posted 1:18 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Kevin Huizenga Interview


"You shouldn't really think of it as exploring my faith. I have a different view of the world than Jeepers. But that's not important to know about while reading the story. I guess in a way I was trying to come to terms with the Dutch Reformed Christianity that I knew growing up. I even went to a Dutch Reformed college -- Calvin College. I was brought up to believe in hell, but it wasn't really ever discussed. But specifically the story is about the disagreement in theology of hell between those who think the Bible teaches that nonbelievers are annihilated and those who think nonbelievers are tortured eternally. That particular issue I had never thought about or read about until I was working on the story." -- Kevin Huizenga on "Jeepers Jacobs" in a longish interview at Comics Foundry.
posted 1:16 am PST | Permalink

It’s Naruto’s and Viz’s World…

image... and we just look up at their dominance of Bookscan charts and sigh. The enduring and potentially evergreen appeal of the kids-as-ninjas comedic fantasy adventure Naruto has led Viz to its second clean sweep of the top ten places on a weekly Bookscan list. Naruto from the beginning of the series' run and its last few volumes take six of the top ten with other Viz perennials like Bleach working their way into latest-volume positions. There's little more to say than that. A popular title in just about every market in which it has appeared, and an anchor of the North American Shonen Jump magazine effort, the Naruto books received an additional, an nitrous oxide-type burst of interest after the anime finally worked its way into American cable-TV markets.
posted 12:57 am PST | Permalink

Elk’s Run Signs With Villard

Elk's Run the well-liked but little-seen comic that received a slew of Harvey Nominations this year despite a publishing history that ranged from modest self-publishing to a stint with the trainwreck start-up Speakeasy, has signed a deal for graphic novel compilation with Random House division Villard. has a concise write-up on the particulars. This should be an interesting case because the comic book by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Noel Tuazon seemed like an almost perfect example of the limits even a highly regarded comic book series might face in the Direct Market -- problems with branding and market identity, little in terms of widespread saturation in shops, and even scarcity issues within those shops willing to carry it. Will a book publishing house do a better job with the material, or does that kind of publishing arrangement bring with it its own set of inherent problems?
posted 12:50 am PST | Permalink

Crucial Kane Panel Exposed As Swipe

imageMark Evanier's unearthing of an illustration's blog's dissection of a noteworthy Batman panel has led to a pretty decent discussion of Bob Kane's motivations and the tendency in early comic book to swipe like mad. The posts by Eddie Campbell are particularly interesting as they reflect his personal research into that art. The panel in question is noteworthy because, as Evanier points out, it's one of the more famous panels actually ascribed to Kane as opposed to more directly to one of the artists working with him. I've always thought it would be funny to read a Batman comic where he runs across a more extreme version of Bob Kane as he come across in such stories, but that will never happen.
posted 12:41 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Starting a Small Town Store

This still-active thread at Warren Ellis' The Engine starts with some random conjecture about what it might take to start a comic shop in a town that doesn't have one, and then really kicks in when Amanda Fisher from Muse Comics shows up and starts throwing projected investment figures around and thoughts about where business comes from in a smaller town's shop. There's also a nice post or two on how to build sections of a store from a retailer's point of view.
posted 12:38 am PST | Permalink

Jungle Imps Show Launches at OSU

imageI enjoyed reading the following copy about Ohio State's display of six Winsor McCay originals more than I think I should have. The story of found, original strips under the title The Tale of the Jungle Imps by Felix Fiddle still maintains a lot of charm for those of us who dream about such treasures still exisiting out there in the attics and garages of mid-America. The thought that McCay was handpainting his strips and the reason OSU gives instead of the more common "He painted them to enhance their value as a gift" intrigues me. The subject matter, form and even the period's tendency towards ugly racial caricature are all fascinating subjects as well.

I can't emphasize enough that if you have the chance to see early American comic strips, take the opportunity. Original cartoon art from people like McCay fascinates on a lot of levels. If nothing esle, to see how few mistakes are made, and how those mistakes are handled (from the ones I've seen, by rubbing them out or redrawing right on top, is worth the trip.
posted 12:33 am PST | Permalink

June 5, 2006

Quick hits
Brian Gable Wins NNA
My Aunt Sent Me This Link
Gilbert Daroy Wins 2006 SOPA Award
Manga Artist Profile: Tomoko Taniguchi

MVL Devotes $100M to Buy Own Stock

imageI have no firm idea what this really means, but I'm told that in general repurchasing stock is a way of strengthening the remaining stock's earnings per share value and a traditional way of showing faith in the company ("We could spend this money on anything but we're spending it on our stock because it's so hot, baby!"), which might be important right now given the way the Avi Arad news was taken by some as a vote of no-confidence on the company's general movie studio plans over the next decade or so.
posted 1:54 am PST | Permalink

Larcenet Wins VPRO Grand Prix


Manu Larcenet was awarded the VPRO Grand Prix given to the best active international comix artist every two years at the opening of the Stripdagen Haarlem comix festival. The award comes with a 2000 Euro ($2000 USD) cash award and an invitation to curate an exhibition at the next festival in 2008.

Floor de Goede won the VPRO Debut Prix in March.

The jury members were Jeanette Scheepers, Arco van Os, Tsjalling Venema, David Steenhuyse and Geert de Weyer.

This year's other nominees were Lax and Marjane Satrapi. Previous winners were Joe Sacco (2002) and Lewis Trondheim (2004).
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink

June 4, 2006

Science/Politics Cartoon Contest Mania

Well, sort of.
posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink Wins ‘06 International Clickie


Daniel Merlin Goodbrey's won the 2006 International Clickie award at the festival Stripdagen Haarlem. It was the inaugural award. The program's two other awards went to Liz Greenfield (Epic Clickie) for Stuff Sucks and Stephen Brusche (Humor Clickie) for Weekly Comic. Comixpedia has a short piece up that explains this a bit more if you're not so dumb as to sit staring at the original announcement in another language for a half hour, like some people.
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink

Missed It: Karasik At Luzern

posted 10:50 pm PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Newsarama Adds Blog

As mentioned before, this summer is likely to see a host of changes in on-line options for reading about and experiencing comics and comics-related news. The first move was Wizard Entertainment's relaunch of their site. The second was Comic Book Resources adding the Comics Should Be Good blog to their offerings. The third happens today, as The Great Curve team joins Newsarama as their blog.

Thanks to Jason Richards at RIOT! for pointing out I was missing a step.
posted 10:45 pm PST | Permalink

Your Foreword Magazine Graphic Novel of the Year Winner


The same company's Nancy Drew #1: The Demon of River Heights was the big winner in the Ben Franklin Awards.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

Not Comics: LAT on Gay Superman

I find the vast majority of these articles about the sexual orientation of superheroes to be boring and predictable; this piece in the LA Times about Superman take a slightly deeper than usual look at the marketing aspects involved.
posted 10:15 pm PST | Permalink

Allez, Lisez: Entrevue Avec J.C. Menu

posted 10:10 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Official BSFUC Site
Malaysia Loves Full Metal Alchemist
Mainstream Comics For A Rainy Day
Local Cartoonist Profile: Suzi Ditman
Missed It: Broccoli's Late-May Acquisitions


June 3, 2006

CR Sunday Magazine

Chester Brown Draws Wonder Woman


For the full page and explanation, click through the image.


Go, Read: Lunar Goliaths



Oni to Become More Aggressive On-Line?


Maybe so. That same post points out they're already making sure to have previews, like the one of Wasteland above, available in multiple formats.


Go, Read: John Hodgman on Alt-Comics

Among those reviewed at the NYT by the author are La Perdida, Ganges #1 and MOME.


Go, Look: My Late Book


Fantagraphics is previewing pages from Comics As Art: We Told You So, an oral autobiography of Fantagraphics Books facilitated by yours truly. The idea of the book is that in honor of the company-defining Comics Journal interview I would sort of interview the entire company in the widest sense of that phrase. The book is late because I suck. It'll be out this Fall.

The above image is a youthful Gary Groth with a homemade Captain America shield. Click through the image to access the previews.


Goodbye, Ninth Art

According to an announcement on their site, the comics-related magazine Ninth Art will close down on June 19. Congratulations to Ninth Art on a long, successful run. I will miss their occasional, strident art-comics criticism, which was always very entertaining.


Go, Watch: Dan Clowes Interview



First Thought Of The Day

There's something about that Batwoman being gay thing that makes me think they're now actually creating news specifically for the needs of VH1 clip shows.
posted 10:14 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The week's most important comics-related news stories, May 27 to June 2, 2006.

1. One of a handful of all-time great comic book artists, Alex Toth passes away at age 77.

2. (Tie) Harper's pulled from Canadian bookstores because of an Art Spiegelman article on the Danish Cartoons controversy; Avi Arad, whose influence at Marvel from his position on the movie side of things was felt throughout its various businesses, departs to run his own company.

3. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund goes on the offensive in the Gordon Lee case.

Winner of the Week
Mike Luckovich, adding the rare Reuben for an editorial cartoonist to his Pulitzer Prize.

Losers of the Week
Jihad al-Momani and Hashim al-Khalidi, newspaper editors sentenced to jail in Jordan for republishing a few of the Danish Muhammed Cartoons. Al-Khalidi had published his without incident or notice until someone researched the al-Momani case as it became a criminal matter.

Quote of the Week
"Instead of laboring amidst the fruits of a golden field, he increasingly saw himself swimming against a polluted tide." -- Bob Levin on Alex Toth, "The Mark of Tyrone Power,"

Little Dot and Little Lotta Have the Right Idea
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink

This Week’s Five For Friday

The results for this week's Five For Friday, "Name Your Five Favorite Sound Effects," have now been posted.
posted 1:12 am PST | Permalink

June 2, 2006

Jordanian Editors Get Two Months

Jihad al-Momani and Hashim al-Khalidi, chief editors of newspapers in Jordan that reprinted some of the Danish Cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed that set off worldwide protests earlier this year, were given sentences of two months each for "harming religious feelings."

Al-Momani made the international newswires when he was fired from Shihan after publishing three of the cartoons in January; ironically, the reprinting was, he claimed, aimed to educate his readers to the full range and effect of the offense perpetrated by the original publication. It was later learned that al-Khalidi had published the cartoons in al-Mihwar at a reduced size in November in an editorial criticizing their original publication in Jyllands-Posten.

Their lawyer plans to appeal.
posted 2:32 am PST | Permalink

Reaction to Spiegelman in Harper’s

imageJoe Sinasac at The Catholic Register makes about as polite a rebuttal as one can imagine to Art Spiegelman's article in the latest Harper's about the Danish Cartoons Controversy, asserting that civil discourse depends more on the respect of religious imperatives rather than the dissemination of information. I would disagree both in general and in terms of how this political event developed, but it's hard not to be sympathetic to the point if only that it presupposes civil discourse actually had a role of any kind in this whole, sad affair. The Comics Journal Messageboard on the thread contains other objections to Spiegelman's piece, much less pleasantly phrased.

Now that it's June, Harper's has updated their site.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

30 Years of Borgman Celebrated


I want to note yet another article about the editorial and strip cartoonist Jim Borgman -- here at Editor & Publisher on a forthcoming 30-year section celebrating his time at the Cincinnati Enquirer -- not because I have a Jim Borgman fixation, but because the way the Enquirer treats Borgman as a huge asset for their paper and a major opinion-maker one would think could be instructive to a lot of papers for how to treat their on-staff editorial cartoonists.
posted 1:54 am PST | Permalink

Cartoonists All Over Chicago Lit 50

I have no idea what this Lit 50 list means by most influential and I'm not sure they do, either, but New City seems to have run it before and it's been popular enough to return. Chris Ware, Alex Ross, Jeffrey Brown and Paul Hornschemeier are the obvious comics and comics related presences; Audrey Niffenegger, Jessa Crispin and Sam Weller have their connection to words and pictures assembling as well. I'd tell you where they rank and what is said about them, but you should probably go to them for that.
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink

Review Round-Up: Nadel, Katin, Toth

image"While Art Out of Time stands as an invaluable work of pop archaeology -- as well as a manifesto of sorts -- it is first and foremost a tremendous entertainment. Some stories, such as Dick Briefer's loopy 1940s Frankenstein or Garrett Price's serene Japanese-print-like White Boy, are visual jewels, while Nadel -- revealing as sharp an ear for dialogue as his eye for brilliant drawing -- devotes an entire section to works whose literary merits outweigh their graphic innovations." -- Doug Harvey in LA Weekly on Dan Nadel's Art Out Of Time

image"In We Are On Our Own, each picture usually has several events happening at once. One main narrative line is the story of Eve, the cosmopolitan mother who has to use her feminine wiles to pass as a peasant while being subject to the sexual advances of horny soldiers. In the same set of pictures, usually lower in the frame, daughter Lisa is experiencing the war from her own pint-sized perspective: befriending dogs and other animals while taking candy from the uniformed men who are so nice to her mom. Finally, sequences set in the post-war period show Lisa thinking about these wartime experiences. This provides yet another re-framing of the story: Remembering the war as an adult, Lisa sees the seeds of her own hard-bitten philosophy, her steely rejection of the false consolation of faith." -- Jeet Heer in National Post on Miriam Katin's We Are On Our Own

image"What a great panel this is, particularly with the worm's eye angle. The leg, foot, and hem of a dress in the foreground are not only exquisitely rendered but provide all the information we need to know that it is a running woman. The angle of view makes it seem like she is passing by us. The road, the semi-circle of the passageway, and the roof-to-building lines all lead us to the two small figures in the distant (which lead us into the next panel where they are the focus). The narration (dictated by the unalterable script, no doubt) is not even necessary." Derik A Badman at Madinkbeard on Alex Toth's The Complete Classic Adventures of Zorro
posted 12:51 am PST | Permalink

June 1, 2006

Go, Buy: K. Thor Jensen’s Wrestling Cartoon Postcard Wedding Fundraiser


The cartoonist K. Thor Jensen is raising money for his upcoming wedding by selling sets of postcards with professional wrestling-related art, which is just the kind of sensible plan I like to see succeed.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

CBLDF Releases Lee Motion Info

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has released its information on the motions filed on behalf of Rome, Georgia retailer Gordon Lee after his new arraignment May 19 on two misdemeanor charges of "distribution of harmful to minors material" for giving to two minors a copy of Alternative Comics #2 during a Halloween promotion in 2004. That comic, intended as a giveaway and for adult customers, contained the depiction of incidental male nudity. The legal team assembled by the Fund had several charges dismissed in the course of the case moving forward, including the most severe. In a dramatic twist this spring right before an expected trial on remaining charges, the District Attorney claimed that not one but two boys had been given the comics (the original youth in question and a sibling), so therefore old charged must be dropped and new charges filed.

The legal motions made last Tuesday break down into two areas -- asking for dismissal on constitutional grounds, and asking for same on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. According to the Fund's press release, the Fund and their legal team of Alan Begner and Paul Cadle argue that the law:
1. The depictions and story are non-obscene protected material pursuant to the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution;
2. The State has no legitimate interest in banning non-obscene, non-sexually explicit nudity to minors under due process;
3. The proscriptions at issue, as applied to this material, in so far as it requires warning labels, ignores the fact that material with nudity, but not sexually explicit conduct is distributed throughout Floyd County without prosecution, in violation of equal protection guarantees;
4. The proscriptions at issue, as applied to this material, is arbitrary and capricious, in violations of due process;
5. The proscriptions at issue are overbroad because they make illegal material with simple nudity which were not intended to be proscribed, and for which the government has no legitimate reason to make illegal; and
6. The terms used in §§ 16-12-81 and 16-12-103 are vague because they fail to notify citizens and law enforcement as to what material (if any) with simple nudity is prohibited.

Again, according to the Fund's press release, they charge the District Attorney's office with prosecutorial misconduct for these reasons, linked to the dropped charges and new charges move:
1. It knew or should have known for approximately one and a half years that the allegations in the Indictment were false;
2. It allowed untruthful testimony to be presented in the Grand Jury, under oath;
3. It allowed untruthful testimony of the victim and the victim's family to be presented to the Grand Jury;
4. It did not tell defendant's counsel until a Sunday afternoon, eighteen (18) hours prior to trial, that the allegations contained in the Indictment were untrue, after much time and expense was incurred bringing out-of-state witnesses to Rome for trial.

The Fund has spent $60,000 on Lee's defense so far.

Here's the press release in full: lee_new_motions.doc
posted 10:15 pm PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Details on Beasts
Eisner Ballots Due Today
The Nation on Edward Sorel
Alison Bechdel To Speak June 13


Newsarama: CBLDF’s Lee Strategy

Newsarama has a long piece on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's latest moves in the Gordon Lee case -- where a Rome, Georgia retailer was charged with multiple offenses after the accidental distribution of a comic featuring incidental male nudity during a civic Halloween promotion -- and as I don't feel it's sporting to piggyback on their hard work until I have something to add I encourage you to read their article.
posted 4:22 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Eddie Campbell Interview in Comics Form at Powell’s Web Site

posted 3:35 am PST | Permalink

Iranian Turkmens’ TLO Backs Azeri

I'm probably violating some grammatical rule in the headline, but I thought it was worth noting the appearance of articles like this, where the Azeri protest against the cockroach cartoon in the Iran weekly by Mana Neyestani is being backed by other groups as a legitimate response to majority arrogance. This can't bode well for the cartoonist, or his editor, both of whom are being held because of the cartoon.
posted 3:32 am PST | Permalink

Your 2006 Albert Uderzo Winners


The Prix Albert Uderzo for 2006 were announced in conjunction with the Fete De La BD. Baru's L'Enrage tome 2 won Best Album (pictured above because I like the cover), Steve Cuzor and Frank Giroud's Quintett, L'Histoire d'Elias Cohen won Best Adult Album, and Francois Boucq's Boucer, La Vengeance du Manchot won Best Art. Tibet received a special award for Chick Bill.

Blogobulles has the story, covers and links.
posted 3:19 am PST | Permalink

Pirate Bay Shut Down in Sweden

imageSlashdot has been all over a story from Sweden about the seizure of servers held by the group Piratbyran/The Pirate Bay for their file-sharing facilitation services. According to this article e-mailed to me by several people by way of Slashdot, and as filtered by my complete lack of perspective on and knowledge about file sharing, the group claims not to be subject to legal penalties because they don't host any copyrighted material on their computers, merely files that point people towards computers where this information is held. The group is politically conscious, and kind of backed into providing the computer services interrupted yesterday when a group in Slovenia shut down. The Pirate Bay was named in a recent LA Times article as a place to find same-day comics downloads.

The group is expected to back up and operating soon; whether or not a legal resolution is likely remains unclear.
posted 2:51 am PST | Permalink

Marvel Dominates ‘06 Harvey Noms


The 2006 Harvey Awards nominations are in, and with 38 nods (39 if you count the syndicated Spider-Man strip) Marvel has won more nominations than anyone else, and, one guesses, potentially more nominations than they have in the Awards' previous ten years combined. The comic book Elk's Run came through in a big way with seven nominations, and the "Summer of Baobab" began with the Fantagraphics/Ignatz title scoring two. The Harveys use a open nomination process requiring people to write out or at least type a series of nominations for every category, which has always made the nominees list a potential voyage of discovery. This year is no exception.

The 2006 Harveys will be held in conjunction with Baltimore Comic-Con on September 9-10, with the ceremony itself on Saturday, September 9. The exact location has yet to be announced, but Kyle Baker will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Final ballots are available here.

* Brian Michael Bendis / NEW AVENGERS / Marvel Comics
* Ed Brubaker / CAPTAIN AMERICA / Marvel Comics
* Joshua Hale Fialkov / ELK'S RUN / Hoarse and Buggy Productions/Speakeasy Comics
* Mike Mignola / BPRD / Dark Horse Comics
* Alex Robinson / TRICKED / Top Shelf

* Frank Cho / SHANNA, THE SHE-DEVIL / Marvel Comics
* David Finch / NEW AVENGERS / Marvel Comics
* Eduardo Risso / 100 BULLETS / DC/Vertigo
* Noel Tuazon / ELK'S RUN / Hoarse and Buggy Productions/Speakeasy Comics
* J.H. Williams III / PROMETHEA / ABC/WildStorm/DC Comics

* Frank Cho / SHANNA, THE SHE-DEVIL / Marvel Comics
* John Kovalic / DORK TOWER / Dork Storm Press
* Seth / WIMBLEDON GREEN / Drawn and Quarterly
* Chris Ware / ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY # 16 / ACME Novelty Library

* Jason Hanley / ELK'S RUN / Hoarse and Buggy Productions/Speakeasy Comics
* Todd Klein / MARVEL 1602: NEW WORLD / Marvel Comics
* Richard Starkings / SHANNA, THE SHE-DEVIL / Marvel Comics
* Chris Ware / ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY # 16 / ACME Novelty Library

* Charles Burns / BLACK HOLE # 12 / Fantagraphics Books
* Scott Hanna / ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN / Marvel Comics
* Steve Leialoha / FABLES / DC/Vertigo
* Paul Neary / ULTIMATES 2 / Marvel Comics
* Tim Townsend / HOUSE OF M / Marvel Comics

* Frank D'Armata / NEW AVENGERS / Marvel Comics
* Jason Keith / SHANNA, THE SHE-DEVIL / Marvel Comics
* Laura Martin / ASTONISHING X-MEN / Marvel Comics
* Patricia Mulvihill / 100 BULLETS / DC/Vertigo
* Jennifer Rodgers / THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS / Archaia Studios Press

* Frank Cho / SHANNA, THE SHE-DEVIL / Marvel Comics
* Steve Epting / CAPTAIN AMERICA / Marvel Comics
* James Jean / FABLES / DC/Vertigo
* Mike Mignola / HELLBOY: THE ISLAND / Dark Horse
* Datsun Tran / ELK'S RUN / Hoarse and Buggy Productions/Speakeasy Comics

* Joshua Hale Fialkov / ELK'S RUN / Hoarse and Buggy Productions/Speakeasy Comics
* David Hine / DAREDEVIL: REDEMPTION / Marvel Comics
* R. Kikuo Johnson / NIGHT FISHER / Fantagraphics Books
* A. David Lewis / THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS / Caption Box/Archaia Studios Press
* Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa / MARVEL KNIGHTS FOUR / Marvel Comics

* BAOBAB / Fantagraphics Books
* DRAMACON / Tokyopop
* YOUNG AVENGERS / Marvel Comics
* X-FACTOR / Marvel Comics

* CAPTAIN AMERICA / Marvel Comics
* ELK'S RUN / Hoarse and Buggy Productions/Speakeasy Comics
* RUNAWAYS / Marvel Comics
* Y: THE LAST MAN / DC/Vertigo

* THE BOONDOCKS / Aaron McGruder Universal Press Syndicate
* THE K CHRONICLES / Keith Knight Self-syndicated
* MAAKIES / Tony Millionaire Self-syndicated
* MUTTS / Patrick McDonnell King Features Syndicate
* THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN / Stan Lee and Larry Leiber King Features Syndicate

* FLIGHT, VOL. 2 / Image Comics
* MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2005 / Marvel Comics
* MOME / Fantagraphics Books
* SOLO / DC Comics

* COMBAT ZONE / Marvel Comics
* NIGHT FISHER / Fantagraphics Books
* TRICKED / Top Shelf
* WIMBLEDON GREEN / Drawn and Quarterly

* BLACK HOLE / Pantheon Books
* DAISY KUTTER / Viper Comics
* LATE BLOOMER / Fantagraphics Books
* STOKER'S DRACULA / Marvel Comics

* ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY # 16 / ACME Novelty Library
* CAPTAIN AMERICA # 7 / Marvel Comics
* ELK'S RUN # 3 / Hoarse and Buggy Productions/Speakeasy Comics
* HOUSE OF M # 8 / Marvel Comics
* LOVE AND ROCKETS, VOLUME 2, # 15 / Fantagraphics Books

* COMPLETE PEANUTS / Fantagraphics Books
* WALT AND SKEEZIX / Drawn and Quarterly

* BAOBAB # 1 / Fantagraphics Books
* BLAME! / Tokyopop
* BUDDHA / Vertical Books
* EPILEPTIC / Pantheon Books
* PUSH MAN AND OTHER STORIES / Drawn and Quarterly

* ACHEWOOD / Chris Onstad /
* AMERICAN ELF / James Kochalka /
* PENNY ARCADE / Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik /
* PERRY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP / Nicholas Gurewitch /
* PVP / Scott Kurtz /

* Kyle Baker / PLASTIC MAN / DC Comics
* James Kolchalka / SUPER F*CKERS / Top Shelf and
* John Kovalic / DORK TOWER / Dork Storm Press
* Zeb Wells / NEW WARRIORS / Marvel Comics

* EARTH X HARDCOVER / Marvel Comics

* ALTER EGO / TwoMorrows
* COMICS JOURNAL / Fantagraphics Books
* MARVEL SPOTLIGHT / Marvel Comics
* WIZARD / Wizard Entertainment
posted 1:59 am PST | Permalink

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