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

January 31, 2007

Bart Beaty In Angouleme 08: Festival Wrap-Up and Bart’s Photo Gallery


Bart Beaty Reports On Angouleme:

Given all of his public denunciations of the commercialized aspect of the Angouleme Festival, it is ironic that Lewis Trondheim presided over what was the most commercially-oriented of any of the ten Festivals that I have attended. Indeed, this year the focus on book-selling at Angouleme reached a fevered pitch, with the festival moving out of the center of town and creating a giant comics shopping mall that placed almost all of its emphasis on mercantile issues. If you were just looking to sell books, this year's set up was probably ideal. If you think that comics are an art form, you were out of luck. This was, by far, the worst Angouleme that I have ever attended, the type of event that by Saturday had me depressed and wondering why I come at all.

When he was elected President, Trondheim spoke out aggressively and controversially on a number of issues, picking a fight with the sponsors (particularly the Leclerc superstores, the French equivalent of Wal-Mart), and calling for free admissions and an end to the publishers' domination of the event through the form of publishing booths. Of course, what we got was a festival totally and completely dedicated to preserving the interests of the biggest publishers. The sponsors remained the same, admissions remained in place, and the whole event became BD World, a place where you pay your entry to see artists signing books. With the old town virtually removed from the festival this year, there was little to do other than wander around the loud publishers tent and hope to meet some artists that you've long admired.

The one thing that Trondheim seemed to understand by the time the Festival arrived is that the ceremonial title of president is just that, ceremonial. He was not authorized to make changes, and in fact the festival moved in the totally opposite direction to what he had called for. The changes that he did make, to the prizes, were generally well received and will likely be continued. But that was about the only thing from this festival that should be kept.

Probably the biggest problem of the Festival this year was the fact that the exhibitions were, to put it mildly, poor. While strolling the exhibitions at Angouleme is usually a good way to spend a day or more, this year it seemed a little bit like grimly ticking off boxes on an itinerary.

The big exhibition this year was also, by far, the biggest dud that I have ever seen. The Universal Exposition was the subject of jokes even before the Festival began. Placed in the space that once held the fanzines (and which was now all but deserted), it consisted of two shipping containers placed side by side. Upon entering, the viewer was met by a sadly over-designed walkway featuring photocopies of comics pages on light boxes. That was it. It took about 15 seconds to take in the total disappointment of the thing, and, sadly, people were queuing for up to 15 minutes at times to get in. This exhibition is meant to be expanded each year over the next several years, but I would advise the Festival to simply get rid of it now while it still can. It did absolutely nothing to promote the art form and was, frankly, an embarrassment.

The Champ de Mars held the largest exhibition space, most of which was given over to Kid Paddle, Midam's humor strip for young people. This was a good use of space, if totally uninteresting to someone like myself. The kids liked it, which is what was important. The rest of the tent was given over to exhibitions featuring comics by school-aged children (a contest involving schools) and to an exhibition of sports-related manga series. There were also rooms showing anime, and spaces for lectures and talks. This space was packed on Saturday, and, indeed, when I first tried to get in the line was considerably too long. The success of this space in the old town demonstrated the importance of the city and of themed exhibitions to the festival as a whole.

One of the big disappointments of the year was that, for the first time, there was no exhibition of work by the President. Trondheim, for reasons that I am unclear of, declined the opportunity to show his work. Instead he installed seven gag pieces around town. I only saw six of them (three at the theatre, three at Espace Franquin). These included original Smurfs comics pages (i.e. pages drawn by the Smurfs), the most expensive comics page in the world (a frame with shattered glass, the page having been "stolen") and so on. Each of these was worth, at best, a minor giggle, and was certainly little consolation for those of us who would have liked to have seen his work featured, or more material featuring the small press movement to which he is so intricately linked.

The Herge exhibition was maybe the weakest of the lot. Having been scooped by the Pompidou Centre's major installation celebrating the centenary of Remi's birth, Angouleme just simply gave up without a fight. They posted some blown up panels, some text about how Herge never traveled in real life but did so in his work, blah blah blah. This was among the worst efforts by the Festival in the ten years I've been attending. Pathetic, really. Meanwhile, Nick Rodwell, who controls the Tintin empire, used the occasion of the festival to confirm the construction of a Tintin museum in Belgium, a forthcoming Steven Spielberg Tintin film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and the fact that he is suing Casterman to regain the rights to the Herge material.

So was anything worth seeing? Well, the CNBDI hosted, for about the fifth year, their Imaginary Museums exhibition. Clearly, the CNBDI has run out of money. Angouleme, as former director Thierry Groensteen indicated to one of the local papers, is a bad location for it, as the region does little tourism. Budgets are down, and the museum is starting to look a bit worn. Upstairs hosted an exhibition by Jim Woodring, the undisputed champion effort this year and the only thing anyone that I talked to seemed to like. The consensus was that all the exhibitions were poor save Woodring's, about which no one could say anything negative. Downstairs was an exhibition of work by Richard McGuire that consisted almost entirely of blown-up illustrations done as posters. This was a major disappointment, as I had been waiting for this exhibition all year (it was announced at the 2006 Festival). I later learned that McGuire had been discouraged from presenting original art since it would be displayed in the lobby, and was, therefore, prone to being stolen.

The Maison des Auteurs presented the work of their artists in residence in the form of Archeographie, a mock archeological dig. This was well presented, as always, and is a nice way to see works in progress from some significant young artists like Aude Samana and Olivier Bramanti.

Finally, the exhibition highlight of the year for me was, sadly, not even comics. The sculptor Bernard Pras, whose work uses optical effects and found objects, has been doing a series of works based on superhero images. This year, at the Espace Franquin, he installed a new piece based on 1970s-era Captain America imagery. This was a great piece, but when the best exhibition at a show of comics art is not comics, something has gone desperately, miserably wrong with the priorities of the Festival as a whole.

The problem in a nutshell is that Angouleme has lost the balance between commerce and art that at least made it tolerable. While the festival will never be an art-first festival like Fumetto, there is also no reason that it should merely become a book-selling convention like San Diego and SPX. Angouleme once had the balance between the two, to a greater or lesser degree, but it seems to be gone at the moment. More and better exhibitions in the town are called for. More and better events as well. Yes, the publishers threatened to bolt if a new emphasis wasn't placed on book-selling, but in winning that battle Angouleme is at risk of losing the war for its soul.

Photo Gallery

on Saturday, Angouleme renamed one of its streets for Rene Goscinny, writer of the Asterix series. Guess who showed up?

the navettes were the talk of the Festival, when they worked and when they didn't

Bernard Pras' Captain America sculpture. Peer through the lens and you can see what you're looking at

comics fans line up for tickets. Not a Wolverine costume to be seen

the line getting off the bus extended along here, around the corner, around another corner -- you get the idea

sadly, this photo did not come out. Nicolas Mahler debuts the models for his Flaschko inaction figures at the Chat Noir bar, circa 3:30 in the morning. The beer didn't help the camera focus

inside the dreadful Universal Exhibition. Those are glowing photocopies on the left and right

at the L'Association booth. Matt Madden signs in the foreground, Edmond Baudoin (red shirt) signs behind him, Guy Delisle talks with Ruppert and Mulot in the background

the Richard McGuire exhibition at the CNBDI featured blow-ups of his work

Delcourt's booth had a Little Nemo theme this year, and an elaborate walking bed

reading the Trondheim-created Smurfs comics pages at the Theatre

President Trondheim greets his adoring public

Lewis Trondheim gives a lecture to 500 people in a room that comfortably holds 150

at the Jim Woodring exhibition


Next time: A final word on Festival President Lewis Trondheim in light of two of his newer books, the break-up of the L'Association gang, and what it all could possibly mean.


To learn more about Dr. Beaty, or to contact him, try here.

Those interested in buying comics talked about in Bart Beaty's articles might try here or here.

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Go, Look: New Will Eisner Site

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks to what happened last year and other issues.

* the value of multiculturalism drove response to the protests, and not in a good way, says Brit politician.

* change in political tenor caused in part by cartoon riots may drive home continent-wide laws against Holocaust denial.

* Abdul Rahman Saleem makes his defense.
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Go, Look: Evan Dorkin Monsters


I don't really know what these little notebook drawings are that Evan Dorkin has sprinkled on his LiveJournal as entries, but I like them.
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Go, Read: Chris Butcher on Formats

Chris Butcher has written a small, personal essay on his choices regarding what's available on New Comics Day that underlines a lot of current market realities, I think. Chris is a card-carrying comics insider for sure, but I think there's a way in which he's probably very emblematic of an adult comics reader -- he gravitates to comics according to how they make use of format. I think it's important to see the drift away from the traditional comic book as both a move dictated by economics and one that was very much planned, hastened and encouraged by the actions of industry leaders to make certain markets more difficult, unrewarding and hostile than they ever needed to be. The great experiment right now and over the next few years is if there's room for a revitalization of the comic book format for a wider audience made possible by a window of opportunity elsewhere through which certain publishers can buttress themselves against the rigidity and dysfunction of the periodicals market long enough to recreate the market within that market that once existed. I hope so, because I think that way of experiencing art has value for both readers and creators. I'm not confident, though.
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Go, Look: Al Roker, Cartoonist


A lot of celebrities have a line in their bios that at one point they wanted to be a cartoonist, but few place those cartoons on-line for the world to see. Thank you, Al Roker.
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There’s No Money In Comic Books… Or Less Than There Should Be

I come to comics through a portion of funnybook culture grounded in a deeply-rooted cynicism reinforced by a reality of years and years of austere circumstance, so it's surprising that there are apparently people out there who see comic books as a likely path to financial glory. Slave Labor's Jennifer de Guzman begins a two-part column designed to beat on this notion like Foreman beat on Frazier, pointing out that the vast number of cartoonists, even "successful" ones, bring in a very modest income from comics sources.

I agree with the veracity of this observation. And it brings to mind a related concern.

When people that talk about comics talk about comics doing well right now, they tend to look at the bottom line -- a statement from a company or an industry analyst or an individual artist. This is important, but there need to be other measures along with that bottom line by which we judge comics' flush periods. How many people are allowed to participate? What kind of art do they do? Is there an ethical return of profit to creators? Bigger isn't automatically better, and building a better industry -- more diverse, more opportunities, more ethical, more attentive to its great artists -- shouldn't take a back seat to celebrating a bigger one.
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Quick hits
CBR on Angouleme
Len Wein on Phoenix
Bodega Photographs From Angouleme
Matthias Wivel on Angouleme, Part One

Lockhorns Parodied
British Humorists Profiled

Pop Star Signs Business Deal
Tokyopop Creator Leaves Company In Dispute

PWCW: Jeff Smith
Drew Geraci: Bob McLeod
Local Cartoonist Profile: Katie Arrington

Douglas Wolk on Returnable Minx
PWCW: Pocket to Publish Blokhedz
KISS Back In Comics a 4th or 5th Time

Leroy Douresseaux: The Spirit #2

January 30, 2007

Didier Lefevre, 1957-2007

imageDidier Lefevre, the famed photographer known to comics fans as the subject and co-author of the successful Le Photographe series, died following a heart attack in his home in Morangis, France. Dupuis confirmed the shocking news with an official statement of regret and sadness from Robert Baert.

Lefevre was a globe-trotting photographer who in a distinguished career took pictures for various magazines and newspapers from places like Sri Lanka and Kampuchea, and was known in part for his care in depicting the non-dramatic members of such communities. A selection of his photos can be accessed here. A friendship with Emmanuel Guibert led to the award-winning comic series by the pair and Frederic Lemercier based on Lefevre's experiences with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Afghanistan. The comics albums included Lefevre's photos as part of their artistic presentation. The third volume in the series was just named one of the Festival Essentials at Angouleme, and Lefevre was on hand to accept the honor, thanking the doctors whose efforts he felt were the heart of the story.

Bart Beaty's review of that latest volume can be found here.

The Angouleme site has a story up, saying Lefevre was 50 years old.
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Your 2007 WCCA Nominees

imageThe Web Cartoonists Choice Awards have posted this year's nominees in a list with tons of links, for your surfing the web looking for new comics purposes the next time you're without something to do at work. Voting ends February 11 with the winners announced on February 19. Multiple nominees include Narbonic, Perry Bible Fellowship (pictured left), the completed Narbonic and Girl Genius.

Go here for a Comixpedia round-up on awards news that may give you an idea of who's adding a webcomics category and who isn't.
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“My beautiful wife is dying and there is nothing I can do about it and I’m in hell.”

Another heartbreaking look, this time through the eyes of family, at the believed-to-be self-inflicted deaths of esteemed cartoonist Richard "Harry Horse" Horne and his wife Mandy. It's a story that has struck a chord with a lot of people both in their community and abroad. I find this interesting not for its lurid aspects but for the fact Horne was a freelancer burdened at home, which is a not-unfamiliar position for many cartoonists.
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Go, Look: Roger Omar’s Dream Book


Clicking through the image takes you to many more in what looks like a fun project, sort of in the same vein as Fantagraphics' Beasts, with artists interpreting dreams from children.
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Third UK Danish Cartoons Trial Starts

The third trial related to 2006 demonstrations in protest of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed appearing in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten has begun in London, the Guardian reports. Abdul Saleem has been charged with being a cheerleader for protesters various chants.

The formal charge is "using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred."

The two previous men brought up on similar charges from the same demonstration were convicted.
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Happy 54th Birthday, Fred Hembeck!

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E&P: Get Fuzzy Drops Minimal

Editor & Publisher comes in all respectable like after bloggers noticed a storyline in Get Fuzzy was dropped by some papers last week, ostensibly for several jokes about pot, with a brief article on how many papers opted for alternative material: not many, 10-12 of about 650 total clients, which is a small percentage under all conceivable definitions of "clients."
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Happy 46th Birthday, Denys Cowan!

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Newspaper Cartooning Gig Eliminated has a brief report noting that Rick Cole, who had been doing two cartoons a week for the Trentonian in New Jersey, had his gig eliminated as part of a budgetary move at the paper. I doubt you could find this information, but it might be interesting to know how many papers drop original cartoons entirely after going to a contractual relationship as opposed to a staff position.
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Quick hits
FCBD 2007 Titles
Zippy Part Of New Exhibit
Cabin Fever Comics Show in Ithaca
Colbert at NYCC in Support of Comic

Mark Trail Turns 60
Mark Trail Turns 60
Beano Remembered

More Negativity About Lio
Marvel Sues Ex-Contractor
The World: Moomin Comics Profiled

Broken Frontier: James Turner Marjane Satrapi
Turkish Daily News: Sarkis Pacaci
The News & Observer: Mark Tatulli
Local Collector Profile: Jake Danner
The Dartmouth: Robert Bazambanza
Local Cartoonist Profile: James Canty
Local Cartoonist Profile: Ben Robinson

Not Comics
Photo of the Year
Feiffer Wins Lifetime WGA Award

The Other Louis Riel GN

Jog: Eternals #6
Jog: Mushishi Vol. 1
Ryan Oakley: Spent
Don MacPherson: Numb
Erik Weems: The Creeper #5
Leroy Douresseaux: Mugen Spiral Vol. 1
Paul Gravett: 676 Apparitions of Killoffer
Rob Clough: The New Adventures of Jesus
Wilma Jandoc, Jason Yadao: Various Manga

January 29, 2007

Get Fuzzy Dropped For Pot Story?

imageBen Towle not only writes about a recent plotline of Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy being suspended in a couple of newspaper for its teasing about pot smoking and the like before I did, he writes about it better than I could, here and here. What's interesting about this isn't only the bizarre rigidity of newspaper comic strip, it's also the fact that Conley every 18 months or so seems to drive slightly off the side of the road and starts hitting trashcans and mailboxes out of some strange need to tweak this kind of thing. Towle writes that papers dropping Conley's storyline were in Boston and Arizona -- the Arizona paper in particular is traditionally conservative (it was a Pulliam paper until being purchased by Gannett -- the Pulliams being Dan Quayle's grandparents), although political orientation doesn't tend to mean much when it comes to bouncing strips.
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Material Selection Policy in Marshall, Missouri Approved by Committee

The Marshall Democrat-News reports that the committee established to put together a new selection policy for the Marshall, Missouri library after last Fall the graphic novels Blankets (Craig Thompson) and Fun Home (Alison Bechdel) were pulled from shelves following a complaint about their content. The report goes to the library board this Wednesday. I must have missed the the article about what's in the policy, although clues last week pointed to at least their being a way material would stay on the shelves while being reviewed, and a librarian review and report back to the complaining party before an objection would go to the board.
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A Few Extra Angouleme Notes

While Bart Beaty's flying back to Canada, a few links to coverage outside of Bart's write-ups:

image* there's some excellent first-person writing about the festival in Matthias Wivel's posts to the Metabunker, including photos like the one at right, which shows that if nothing else, Angouleme has San Diego beat for comfortable seating during panels.

Wivel's post about Jose Munoz winning the grand prize reminds me of something I'd heard through various e-mails last year when Lewis Trondheim won: that some people were a bit upset because Munoz had been supported for the award for so long and is the kind of distinguished great that usually receives the honor, while others were more specifically concerned that every year Munoz wasn't named meant an increased chance that he might not be named at all, as a manga creator would slip into this historical moment's rare non-French language cartoonist slot.

Again, that's just talk, and year old talk at that, but I always find it fun to mull over the various thoughts expressed after the decision for each festival president is announced.

* Alison Bechdel was blogging the festival.

* Brigid Alverson has a nice post up about the news that most people will take away from the show, that the Best Album prize went for the first time to manga, and where to find out more on author Shigeru Mizuki.

* has an article up on the festival's prize winners, including some killer photos. This is where my ignorance of French gets me in trouble, but it seems odd to me that they'd come right out and say in the first graph that basically this is what you'd expect of a festival where the president is Lewis Trondheim. I'm guessing that probably doesn't get said/implied in other years. On the other hand, the article seems pretty positive throughout, and I'm sure that Trondheim's presidency and the awards results could be a potentially compelling issue to some people.

* Edd Vick writes about the 1992 Festival, which may give you an idea how much things have changed for the North American presence at the show.
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Happy 49th Birthday, Jeph Loeb!

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Your Angouleme Grand Prix Winner


Links to information on or art from Jose Munoz, the 2007 Angouleme Festival's grand prize winner, next year's festival president, and one of the flat-out coolest comics artists ever.

* Wikipedia Entry
* Alack Sinner page
* Entry
* Page from Le Livre
* Another Munoz page
* Alack Sinner portrait
* Page from Nicaragua
* Profile of Alack Sinner
* Page from Panna Maria
* Page from Billie Holiday
* Page from Sudor Sadaca
* Article on Alack Sinner series
* Another beautiful Munoz page
* Page from Retour de Flammes
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Happy 35th Birthday, Brian Wood!

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Ahmed Abbas’ Controversial Case

Go here for a nice summary of the issues swirling around jailed Maldivian cartoonist Ahmed Abbas, who is being pursued not for an act of journalism but for the nature of a quote supplied a newspaper article. One thing I remember being a part of the story early on that I don't see anymore is the notion that this may be fueled by resentment for past work by the artist.
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Happy 31st Birthday, Ryan Kelly!

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I’ve Been Asked to Pass Along Word

* Mike Lynch and Dave Coverly will be doing some management work on this year National Cartoonists Society Awards, and pass along word that the deadline for submissions is February 23. More information here. The award is for work published in 2006, there are three finalists to a category, and winners are announced at the annual Reubens convention in May. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

* Diana Tamblyn wrote in to talk about the new Webcomic award being introduced at this year's Joe Shuster awards. The Oustanding Canadian Web Comic Creator Award will be handed out among many awards on Saturday, June 9. They basically don't want to miss any submissions, so feel free to make yours in URL form or e-mail to that same address with questions and/or concerns. More information here.

* The retailer organization ComicsPro will meet Thursday, February 8, from 7-9 PM at the Cartoon Art Museum. Joe Field and Brian Hibbs will be in attendance. The organization will have a national meeting in Las Vegas on April 11-13.
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Jim Borgman: Best Cartoons Cover


Alan Gardner notes that a Jim Borgman cartoon will serve as the cover image on this year's Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, a post that in its comments section quickly slips into a discussion about how such covers are selected. Well, maybe not so much a discussion as opposed to a an exchange of words and an apology. Still: interesting, and not something you'd think about normally. I hadn't realized a potential distinction between the Brooks book and the Cagle book was political, but I'd never thought to ask the question before. It may make you look at the cover above in a slightly different light: on the one hand, Borgman's just about as big as they come these days in terms of his profession and that is a really, really handsome cartoon; on the other hand, 2006 probably wasn't a year that in total most of us would remember for sage cartoons about the lessons of 9/11.

There's really no way to write that kind of graph on that kind of subject without pissing off someone, is there? No offense, I swear.
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Quick hits
NYCC Podcaster Contest
Go See Plantu and Kelley
CBR: Notes From Phoenix Con
Go See Rabbi Simcha Weinstein
Review of Girl Power Show in DC

Randy Wicks Remembered
Profile of Marc Swayze's Work
History of Aussie Larrikin Includes Cartoons

Another Lio Hate Letter
Comics Untapped Ad Market
Writer Beats On Year-Best Lists
WSJ Profiles Federal Reserve Comics
Questions Accepted About Comics Changes
Various Tribune Papers Pick Up CCS Article
Whedon, King Comics Force Reconsideration

AiT/Planet Lar Mini-Documentary

Not Comics
Well, We Do Both Hate Nixon

La Muse Launches

Shaenon Garrity: Swan
Shaenon Garrity: Monster
Shaenon Garrity: Basara
Shaenon Garrity: Phoenix
Shaenon Garrity: Wild Act
Shaenon Garrity: Dr. Slump
Shaenon Garrity: Kekkaishi
Holly Ellingwood: Punch Vol. 2
Shaenon Garrity: Ode to Kirihito
Shaenon Garrity: Antique Bakery
Shaenon Garrity: Your and My Secret
Shaenon Garrity: Gerard and Jacques
Shaenon Garrity: Sexy Voice and Robo
Shaenon Garrity: Knights of the Zodiac
Shaenon Garrity: Please Save My Earth
Shaenon Garrity: From Eroica With Love
Shaenon Garrity: The Drifting Classroom
Chris Mautner: Various Experimental Comics
Shaenon Garrity: The Four Immigrants Manga
Shaenon Garrity: Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Kevin Nance: An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories

January 28, 2007

Bart Beaty in Angouleme 07: Jose Munoz Wins Grand Prix; Initial Reflection


Bart Beaty Reports From Angouleme:

So, after two days of wifi suddenly the system shut down and there was no more blogging from the Festival. That might have been the least of the organizational problems. Yesterday I waited five minutes to get off a shuttle bus as there were so many people waiting to get on that no one could move at all. And the party for the artists at town hall lost power for half an hour -- no lights, no music, free drinks -- but there no one seemed to care so much (did I mention the free drinks?). Just another Angouleme Saturday night.

I will have a proper reflection on what was learned at this Festival in a day or two when I'm back in Canada and a little more rested. The big tension was between the commercial and the artistic (as always) with the commercial sucking the life out of the town, but the artistic rallying through the prizes.

The prizes? Oh, the prizes! Tom has the covers up below so you can see for yourself, but let me just say that last night at the Mercure a "famous French cartoonist" walked by me and just leaned over and said "Fantastic palmares, oui?" And for the small press, oui bien sur!

Shigeru Mizuki's Non Non Ba becomes the first manga to win the big prize, and it is a work of supreme skill wonderfully, beautifully, lovingly presented by small press champion Editions Cornelius, the producers of the nicest books around.

Best newcomers are the insane Belgians from L'Asso, Ruppert and Mulot. I'll have more on these guys in a couple of days, and with luck you may even see something in English from them before too long. L'Asso also took the Heritage prize, a shocking upset over Little Nemo, with Sergent Laterreur, the long overlooked masterpiece from Pilote. I spoke with someone last night who told me that this choice had restored his faith in the Festival.

The rest of the winners are an outstanding collection of books. Note the publishers though: Only two books from the largest presses (Le Photographe and Black Hole), and neither of those a traditional BD. I rode the train back to Paris in a first class car filled with employees from the major houses, and there were few smiles about the prizes.

As for the grand prize, Jose Munoz is, obviously, a wonderfully deserving choice and I couldn't be happier to see him win this accolade. Yesterday in the afternoon I was feeling that Angou had little left to offer me. The mall-ification of the Festival seemed complete. But the dramatic last minute shift towards a celebration of the art rather than the commerce (plus a nap on the train) has me excited already to return.

I'm back in a day or two with thoughts on the whole of the Festival, and over the next few weeks I will endeavor to review all of the prize winners that I haven't reviewed already.
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January 27, 2007

CR Sunday Magazine

Feature: A Short Interview With Jason



Five Link A Go Go

* must-see Joann Sfar animation

* funny Evan Dorkin video appearance from NYCC 2006

* another comics site that's new to me:

* go, read: Sammy Harkham profile in Forward

* page full of superhero scene scans of the kind which, if you're like me, you didn't buy but heard about on the Internet at one time or another and wouldn't mind seeing


Go, Look: Wash Tubbs Whaling Adventure



First Thought Of The Day
48 weeks to go.
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Happy 56th Birthday, Todd Klein!

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Angouleme Festival Prize Winners 2007

Prix du Meilleur Album (Best Album)


Prix Essentiels: Revelation (Best Newcomer)


Les Essentiels D'Angouleme (The Essentials)






Prix du Patrimoine (Heritage Prize)


Prix de la BD Alternative (Alternative Prize?)

posted 12:58 pm PST | Permalink

January 26, 2007

CR Week In Review


The top comics-related news stories from January 20 to January 26, 2007:

1. The Festival de la Bandes Dessinee in Angouleme, France launches Thursday, bringing with it rumblings that the festival is in trouble.

2. Diamond Books enjoyed a very good year.

3. American Born Chinese wins the Michael L. Printz award.

Winner Of The Week
Fans of the Ignatz line, which was never a sure thing.

Loser Of The Week
Angouleme, dogged by rumors of its festival moving before the first day of the show was all the way done.

Quote Of The Week
"Je Suis Un Mutant" -- Lewis Trondheim, who not only is the president of this year's festival at Angouleme, he also found time to do a 24-hour comic during it.
this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
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Happy 55th Birthday, Steve Leialoha!

posted 8:50 pm PST | Permalink

Happy 53rd Birthday, Peter Laird!

posted 8:40 pm PST | Permalink

Happy 50th Birthday, Frank Miller!

posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink

Happy 48th Birthday, Stefan Petrucha!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Richard Starkings!

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Bart Beaty at Angouleme 06: Report From Festival on Friday Afternoon

Bart Beaty Reports In From Angouleme:

Friday and the crowds have arrived in full force to the town of Angouleme. Thursday has been fairly well written off as an aberration and a bit of a disaster in terms of sales and excitement. The crowds never materialized on the icy streets, but now navigating the tents has become a full-scale challenge. I arrived this morning from the CNBDI and walked into the midst of an enormous crowd queuing for the chance to receive a Guardino book signing. A feeling of mad desperation in the crowd.

Everywhere you go people talk about the shuttle buses. So far I have had six good experiences out of seven trips. Last night I waited twenty minutes in the freezing cold for the navette, then it got stuck in traffic and I was late for my meeting. But that has been the exception, and the system generally still seems to be working well.

Perhaps people talk about the buses because there is not that much else to talk about. The exhibitions are far from overwhelming. This morning I watched Jim Woodring lead a tour of his exhibition at the CNBDI for the press, and that was a highlight, but otherwise there is nothing that people feel is a must-see. That, in combination with the remoteness of the main tents has the Festival feeling somewhat vacant. Certainly in the old town, there is very little sense that there is a Comics Festival in town.

Of course, the bars and restaurants are full as usual. If the Hotel Mercure bar was a little subdued last night you'd hardly know it for the screaming at 3:00am. Tonight, L'Association hosts a party for the launch of the third (and last) number of Eprouvette, the mammoth (570+ pages!) collection of essays and manifestos about the current state of the art, but they are promising a subdued affair befitting the mood of the Festival.

The awards were not handed out last night, so those looking for results will have to wait until Saturday. I spoke with a jury member yesterday who gave me no hint of what the jury is feeling. My sense from last weekend that Pourquoi j'ai tuee Pierre was a strong contender has been amplified by seeing the book, which looks lovely and fascinating.

The snow is melting, but not fast enough. The tents are about to close, which means we're at halftime on the day and the real business of the Festival can get under way at the bars. Certainly the highlight of the day was watching Jerome Mulot and Florent Ruppert sign at the L'Association booth -- a four-fisted enterprise in which they cut apart their books to turn them into frames for their sketches. Truly unbelievable. Meanwhile, the search for the perfect pork sandwich continues.
posted 4:50 am PST | Permalink

Marshall Library Book Policy Emerging

The Marshall Democrat-News takes about a half day to post new news content, so unless like last time somebody gets sick of waiting and calls the paper, at which point I re-write this lead graph, you'll have to settle for the details that emerge from yesterday's article, a research-supported close reading of what's come out so far. That plan allows for books to remain available to the public via request while it's being re-examined, which right there would be an improvement over current policy.
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink

Mainstream Comic Books Are Weird


DC Comics' publicity department sent the above out yesterday as a teaser image for some unknown, forthcoming event comic. They must have sent it to a lot of people, as I got one, and my passion for DC superhero event comics is world renowned. It does provide some intriguing things to mull over, if you're an industry watcher, or just an interested pop culture fan.

* It looks odd. It looks like a panorama with sticker/magnets of the various comic book characters slapped on it. It seems to me a lot of comics have this kind of slick look to it, a line-wide extension of the rubbery fetish look that you started to see heavily 10 years ago.

* It indicates that we're going to continue seeing event comics from DC, after I believe sort-of being promised that the company's focus would be more on its regular titles.

* The bodies in the foreground indicate that the events will be driven by or at least reflective of various character deaths. Death is certainly a factor in a lot of art, but mainstream American comic book deaths are strange in that they're portrayed as uniquely tragic occasions in a way that has almost nothing to do with what happens when people you and I know die and are remembered. They're kind of like celebrity deaths, just without the tether that when you look at a celebrity death you know it's a real person and someone out there will genuinely miss them on a more human level. They're a bit like TV character deaths, but with a lot more wallowing and dramatic posing and no closure.

* The dead people represent something strange in historical comic book terms as well. Somehow the treatment of death in these books seems less sophisticated than works from 30 years ago. Sad Nightcrawler pausing in Canada to remember his just-deceased pal in one of the late Claremont/Byrne X-Men is beginning to look like Cordelia in King Lear compared to some of the torn shirt histrionics super-duper comics trade in these days.

* The strange costumes on display indicate that the event comic suggested by this image will draw on obscure corners of the DC Universe, perhaps including an alternate universe where Batman was a goofy looking pirate. These things are rewarding to longtime fans, and sort of baffling to the rest of us. If I'm locked out, with my job of reading comics, that's one goddamn insular club.

* I know without looking that more than one person has posted to the popular superhero comics-related message board wondering first and foremost what the hell that flashlight looking thing in the foreground is.

* Crying Superman in his various forms has to be the goofy comic book image of the decade, and is battling Jimmy Olsen in a Dress and that beautiful square planet establishing shot in the Bizarro comics for goofiest superhero-related image ever. Crying Superman should have his own comic. Clark Verklempt.

* Given the unpleasant feelings generated by Crying Superman and Supes' general dickweedishness in last summer's movie, is there some sort of strange directive from DC to make us hate Superman now?

* I guess you could say that by getting me to talk about it, the PR move was a success, but I'm sort of less inclined to pick up any of the comics, which makes me think it's not so great a success.


Alex Cox e-mailed to say I'm not alone in my confusion.

Brad Mackay wrote in to point out this visual comparison, which hadn't occurred to me.

Two people e-mailed to ask me why I didn't think death works in superhero comics the way it's usually intended. Beyond the usual reasons of inept storytelling and the fact that characters are so frequently brought back to life that it's not a convincing plot development, I think it's also because the special shock and added dismay that these stories whip up for emotional effect relies on these characters' being fantasy icons as opposed to players in a grand theater of violence. People that run around beating the shit out of each other and shooting arrows and raybeams at each other should die all the time; it's comic book characters that don't. This exacerbates the friction created by marching these largely benign characters for children through elements of serious drama, and limits its appeal to people that are so invested they don't mind holding two seemingly competitive ideas in their head at the same time.

Douglas Wolk Weighs In:
A couple of notes on that weird DC teaser image:

* "Reflective of various character deaths" is probably right: note that the four dead bodies in the foreground are characters who have already died in the past couple of years.

* I think that the cause of the crying is not just the deaths of those four, but the immense destruction suggested by the smashed Statue of Liberty.

* As far as the "event comics" thing: I don't know whether this is a World War III-related image--Newsarama seems to think it is--but if it is, this isn't a big event we didn't already know about, it's a teaser for the conclusion of 52.

* People at various message boards (inc. the comments at 52 Pickup) have unpacked all sorts of implications in the characters' costumes, body language, etc. Lots of significant details for those who are looking for them. The Statue of Liberty thing also suggests the beginning of Jack Kirby's Kamandi...

* I agree that it's incredibly weirdly posed--what exactly is Green Arrow standing on?

Michael J. Grabowski on Crying Superman:
It's not just that he's crying there, but that it looks like he's looking down Wonder Woman's bustier while he's doing it, showing not an ounce of dignity while most of the other heroes are looking away out of embarrassment. "Geez, we're supposed to respect this guy. Can't he keep it together just once?" Mr. Miracle looks like he's paying close attention, but Green Arrow (whose left foot is placed flat against no apparent horizontal surface) seems as turned off by the whole maternal-erotic nature of the WW-Supes pose.

posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink

Kim Thompson on Ignatz Line ‘07

imageKim Thompson jumped on The Comics Journal Message Board to update comics readers on the state of the Ignatz line, one of several interesting experiments with "single-issue" or serial comics that started to pop up the last couple of years in reaction to the overwhelming graphic novel thrust of newer publishing efforts, particularly from companies not Marvel or DC. The high-production value initiative conceived by Igort and published by Fantagraphics and Coconino Press looks to be keeping its price down, too, at least on the one or two 2007 volumes I've seen. Highlights from the thread include the insight that most of the books have been narrative driven, with only The End (pictured) and Mattotti's Chimera working with more abstract material, and that Fantagraphics is going to do a Complete Cabbie book with Marti in 2008.
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

How Wal-Mart Sold Explicit Manga

By carrying through its web site information from a major book wholesaler that draws on the full catalog of Diamond Distribution, among others, Diamond officials inform

The availability of the titles had briefly caused one of those news stories that resembles people running around with their hands in the air on the deck of a burning ship. It's a concern because of the possibility of negative publicity for the strong-selling genre, the possibility that the reportage on such negative publicity would suck and mis-characterize the content and audience of those books, and because it reveals a system through which retailers can carry comics and other material on-line in a kind of half-assed fashion without knowing, or endorsing, what they're carrying, which might be problematic for some publishers.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 78th Birthday, Jules Feiffer!

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Post on Suicide Rabbit

imageThe Washington Post has a profile up of a feature called Suicide Rabbit, apparently popular with comics readers in China. You don't see these "captures the spirit of the times" articles about too many comic strip, and even fewer about on-line strips, so I found that sort of interesting. Also, the fact that the character kind of gently lampoons the abuses of capitalism by having its lead suffer through many travails is an approach I don't think would work in most Western countries, not anymore, anyway.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 71st Birthday, Sal Buscema!

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Quick hits
Group Show In Vermont
Preview of Kramers Ergot Show

Web Comics Popular on Campus
DC Series Criticized by Cultural Critic

Frank Miller on NPR
Tehelka: Sarnath Banerjee

Viz Debuts Early '07
Secret Voice #2 Due In April
New True Celebrity Fiction Up
More on Platinum Publishing Plans
Princess Ai Moving to Newspaper Strips
Sarnath Banerjee Releases Second Book
Student Cartoonist Featured at Newspaper Site

Dirk Deppey: Various
Don MacPherson: nEuROTIC
Erik Weems: Rush City #1-4
Dirk Deppey: After School Nightmare Vols. 1-2
Dirk Deppey: Shojo Beat's Manga Artist Academy

January 25, 2007

Bart Beaty at Angouleme 05: Report From Festival Near End of First Day

Bart Beaty Reports From Angouleme:

For the first time ever -- Angouleme has wifi in the press area!

It is now 3:30 in the afternoon of the first day of the Festival and people are slowly adjusting to all the changes. The worst thing is that it snowed hard on Wednesday night again and then all the snow froze. I rode the bus to the main tent in the morning and saw only one person braving the trek on foot. It's all downhill from the old part of the city, and really a skating rink. It is expected to warm up a bit by the weekend, but so far the weather is not a friend of the Festival.

Crowds have picked up in the afternoon but the hall was almost totally empty this morning, which was not a good sign at all. Angouleme is a steady growth Festival, with crowds more or less doubling from Thursday to Friday and then again from Friday to Saturday, so it is too early to rule on whether this remote Festival is a success or failure.

The good news (so far) is that the navettes are working extraordinarily well. Last night at dinner I watched Joost Swarte calculate the bus needs of the Festival. Given the frequency and number of buses, he estimated that they could serve 30,000 attendees in total and "more if people aren't lazy." Joost announced that if only 30,000 people come, we're in luck. But, of course, if only 30,000 people come the Festival will lose money. You can't win.

But this morning I walked right of my hotel and onto a shuttle, which took eleven minutes to get me to the main tent. At lunch I took another shuttle right up to the old town, and was able to catch a third shuttle after a lovely meal. So far I've heard of absolutely no problems, nor any lengthy waits. How this holds up for Saturday is still a question, but right now I would say that this is a major victory for the Festival.

One huge drawback of the remote location: No cash machines in the vicinity. I've found at least thirty books to buy so far, but just had to write them down so that I could get them after lunch now that I have cash in hand.

The press is here, of course. Right behind me right now Charles Burns is giving a TV interview. The lines are growing at the biggest publishers for book signings. I have not spent a lot of time in the fanzine space, but on first glance the mini-comics quality seems to be peaking again after a bit of a recent drought.

So, spirits are generally high at Europe's biggest comics Festival. People are well-rested and ready to buy and sell. If the snow melts and the sun comes out, this whole thing may become a success.

By the way, L'Association is announcing the arrival of the Apocalypse. Just so you know. More news when it's warranted.
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink

Bart Beaty at Angouleme 04: Comics Reporter’s Formal Festival Preview


Bart Beaty Reports In From Angouleme:

If it's the last Thursday in January, this must be the opening day of the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee in Angouleme, France's enormous celebration of all things comics, hosted each year in a little medieval town. The organizers will be praying for no repeat of the snow that last year shut down the trains and highways and kept tens of thousands away. The rest of us will be just trying to figure out what the hell is happening.

Last year the Festival was thrown into disarray by the construction of a new shopping space on what used to be the main grounds of the event. The arrangements made to work around the construction seemed to please no one at all -- and even led to the creation of a counter-festival organized by the small press publishers. This year everything has changed once more. The biggest shift is that the publishers have been moved way, way out of downtown, out past the museum (the CNBDI) basically on the road to Cognac and Bordeaux. Okay, maybe not that far but the official map estimates a 25-minute walk back to the old town, and that may be a little optimistic. This is an enormous change, and all the e-mails I keep getting are from people predicting disaster. We'll see.

Of course, at Angouleme hanging out at the publisher booths hoping to get things signed or to pick up the latest and greatest books is just about the least interesting thing to do. The highlights for this year include:

imageThe concerts. As in the past two years, there will be a series (three, actually) of live cartooning performances featuring Zep, Ludovic Debeurme, Dupuy & Berberian, Loisel, Tripp, Ville Ranta, Francois Schuiten, and others. Basically, each artist draws a panel which is then projected on a giant screen for the audience to see, all set to a musical arrangement by Areski Belkacem. New this year is a comic strip improv match, featuring artists from Fluide Glacial, and, the highlight has to be a live performance by avant-garde songstress Brigitte Fontaine, accompanied by eight musicians and Blutch, drawing based on the music. That's Saturday night at the theater, and I am hoping tickets haven't sold out already.

And, of course, there are the exhibitions. This year the biggest of these is the Kid Paddle exhibition, which is 500 square meters dedicated to the children's comics phenomenon. The World Comics Expo, which seeks to examine comics as a worldwide phenomenon looks to be one of the more ambitious undertakings of the Festival in recent years. Festival President Lewis Trondheim declined the opportunity of a career retrospective exhibition, and instead has opted to create the 7 Wonders of Comics Art at different locations around the town. He is also one of the 24 cartoonists who began working on a 24-hour comic book at the Maison des Auteurs on Tuesday. The theatre hosts an exhibition dedicated to the work of Pierre Christin, the CNBDI hosts a Jim Woodring retrospective, the Place St Martial celebrates the 100th birthday of Herge, and the art school hosts the work of Richard McGuire. To name but a few.


Angouleme is not big on panels in the American comic-con sense, but they do have something better: International Meetings, where two disparate artists just sit and talk comics. This year features discussions including: Blutch & Jessica Abel, Alison Bechdel & Fabrice Neaud, and appearances by the likes of Charles Burns, Jeff Smith, Toppi, Trondheim and Mattioli. Additionally, five artists this year will work, in public, on a current project, taking questions from the audience: Riad Sattouf, Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar, Etienne Davodeau, and Mathieu Sapin.

So, there is a lot to be done and a lot to see. The big questions, however, all revolve around logistics. With such a drastic change to the layout of the Festival, what will be the impact? And what will moving things from the center of town do to the biggest comics event in Europe?

Let the madness begin.
posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink

Their Trouble With Women


I'm sympathetic to the nature of inquiry embodied by Claire Litton's article about misogyny in underground comix, as well as to many of the ideas brought to bear. Yet while there's probably a great article to be written on the subject, there's too much in this piece setting off the creative history and idiosyncratic argumentation alarms for me to think this is the one.

For instance, I'm not sure how Jay Kinney's quote about viewing other underground cartoonists as older siblings comes close to supporting the previous sentence's assertion about artists copying Crumb's art style and misogyny, except by the sentences' physical proximity. Other arguments that make me want to see a full citation-filled brief in support are 1) the notion floated that Crumb and not, well, nearly everything else going on in culture, drove other artists to chase after violence and misogyny, 2) the suggestion made that underground comics led to the closure of head shops, and 3) the idea offered up that Crumb was deeply afraid of selling out in exactly the way described. That last comes in a one-paragraph profile of Crumb in the early 1970s that reads like a rapidly-constructed, jenga-style stack of assertions more than it does supported analysis.

There are also some missteps (Zap! #1's publication date is wrong, I think) and omissions (Aline Kominsky's relationship with Crumb and his support of her art) that wouldn't be important except, of course, in an article that is seeking to build such a specific and damning case.
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink

Happy 69th Birthday, Leiji Matsumoto!

posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

Only one thing today: Denmark's Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller finishes up a three-day trip to Malaysia with public statements brimming with rigorous rhetoric, flat-out calling the assumption that other cultures shall act as you want them to act as stupid. I'd say declaring the problem over makes the Danish Cartoons Controversy sound like a real, focused action/reaction as opposed to a chaotic mix of political moves and operating that I think could be repeated in some form if people were to push that way, but it's nice to hear that Denmark can have a civil, productive visit with such an influential Muslim country.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 41st Birthday, Alan David Doane!

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Cartoonist-Created Videos

* Graham Annable's Space Wolf

* click the Animal Kingdom link to get to a PSA featuring, among others, Jordan Crane and Big Time Attic

* I thought these were Souther Salazar
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 34th Birthday, Geoff Johns!

posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Worst Con Ever!
Comics Exhibit at PSU Reviewed
Solo Exhibit For Steve Greenberg
Avi Weinryb Reviews Masters Exhibit Part 02

Happy Birthday, Mark Trail

Gerhard Leaves A-V Awards For 2006
Local Shop Profile: Quest Comics
Minx Line Offering Incentive for DM
GNs on YALSA's List For Young Adults
Your 2006 Howard E Day Prize Nominees

CBR: Gene Yang
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Not Comics
See Tony Moore's Studio

Marvel's FCBD Offerings
The Boys and DC Part Ways
Nick Bertozzi Feature Launches On-Line
Utne Reader's Guide To Comics On-Line

Jog: Various
Jog: Gumby #2
Ed Howard: Cages
Mark Andrew: American Born Chinese
Brigid Alverson: The Building Opposite
Johanna Draper Carlson: Finder: Sin Eater
Don MacPherson: Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9

January 24, 2007

Bart Beaty at Angouleme 03—A Longer Update in Anticipation of Festival

Bart Beaty Reports In From Angouleme:

I hate French keyboards!

Bit of a fuller update -- Angouleme now has an Internet cafe, so I may get others, too.

One of the lead stories in the Charente Libre this morning was an interview with the director of Casterman. He says that 2007 is make or break time for the festival in this city. All of the publishers were unhappy with last year and revenues being down. Now that it is clear that the festival can never return to its old location in the center of the old town, the publishers demanded a central site where they would all be together. They have received this, but the drawback is that it is far from downtown. I walked it this morning and it took 40 minutes, although that was hampered by the snow and ice.

The new location is a bit bizarre. The good thing is that all of the publishers -- including the small press and fanzines -- are together for the first time in decades. It is truly one stop shopping. The horrible thing is that there are no restaurants down there. None. There is a snack bar but the average French person is no more likely to eat at the snack bar than the average SDCC goer is likely to order foie gras. This means that it is likely that festival goers will arrive at the publishers tent, leave for lunch and then the key question: will they come back?

The festival is betting everything on the navettes (shuttle buses). They are claiming that these will move people around smoothly and efficiently. We shall see tomorrow if that is the case.

One publisher, Albin Michel, was so upset about the food situation at the tents that they decided to bring their own kitchen and chefs! Then, the local restaurateurs took offence, and when the smoke cleared Albin Michel boycotted the festival because of the food situation. No one takes this as a good sign

The key is that the publishers are united in the feeling that the city should do more to appease their interests. Casterman claimed that it costs them 120,000 euro to attend, and they want more or they will leave. The Charente Libre asked point blank about the rumour that has circulated for two years about the festival picking up and moving to La Rochelle. This was denied, but it was also indicated that there needs to be a plan B, C, and D if this festival is not a big moneymaker.

All of this is complicated by the coming elections, as the festival receives money from various levels of government. The Socialist Party candidate for President is Segolene Royale, who is the president of Poitou-Charente, this region. She strongly supports keeping the festival in Angouleme, and were she to become president (she is currently second in the polls to the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy) that might be a boon for the festival. Next year will see municipal elections, and those will be closely watched by the publishers as well.

Is it so much hot air? Hard to say. The big publishers get an enormous media boost from Angou that they don't get from anything else. They need an event like this, and festivals in Grenoble (15 years ago) and Paris in 2002 and 2003) failed to compete with the FIBD. But the big publishers hold a lot of cards.

The headline on the new issue of DBD is Angouleme: The end of an epoque. It could well be the case

As for the snow, it has all melted, although some additional snow and cold weather are forecast for tonight. Dress warm if you're coming!
posted 8:06 am PST | Permalink

Bart Beaty at Angouleme 02—Dark Clouds Over Angouleme?

Bart Beaty Reports In From Angouleme:

It snowed in Angou on Tuesday, throwing things into chaos

Everything rests on the shuttle buses and the Festival is logistically on the edge. The director of Casterman made rumbling noises this morning in the local paper about moving the Festival out of Angouleme.

There is a real distance between the tents and any place to eat and one publisher bowed out over food issues!
Bart's official preview will run tomorrow, and we'll run anything he's able to send; there should at least be a big write-up at the end of the show.

posted 2:50 am PST | Permalink

Vic Kasinja, 1957-2007


Vic Kasinja, the Republic of Malawi cartoonist best known for the newspaper features Joza and Taxina, died in Sunday in Lilongwe and was buried early Wednesday. The cause of death was malaria.

Vic Kasinja dropped out of school due to excessive bullying, and was a self-taught artist, working in charcoal. As a graphic designer in 1981 he was discovered by the operator of The Daily Times and Malawi News, David Tarttersall; the News began running his feature Joza soon after. In 1997, upon a request from a Daily Times editor, he created the feature Taxina, whose name-as-title lead was a provocatively dressed woman with a highly sexual public persona. Controversial because of the subject matter, Kasinja saw his lead as a symbol for the explosion of free expression as his home country embraced democracy in the mid-1990s.

He also published a book of the Joza work and made a cartoon under the direction of the United Nations.

The cartoonist would have turned 50 in April, and is survived by two daughters.
posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink

Marshall Library Board Close To Policy

imageThe Marshall Democrat-News is reporting that at last week's meeting of the Marshall Public Library Materials Selection Policy Committee members were assured by president Anita Wright that the policy was coalescing into its final form. The Missouri town's library came under national scrutiny when it chose to deal with a request by a community member to remove the graphic novels Fun Home and Blankets due to their adult content. The solution was to keep the books off the shelf until a selection policy could be locked into place. The committee meets again tomorrow night, although it's not certain from the article if the policy will be release or will merely remain imminent.

e-mailed to me by multiple folks so I apologize if they got it from your site
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink

Magdy’s Top Ten Arabic Comics 2006

imageMagdy's Blo2 presents its choices for the top Arabic comics done in 2006, for your future bookmarking, cross-referencing and googling pleasure. I don't know anything about Arabic comics, although I believe Basem is a popular children's magazine. I also appreciate any critic that puts the standards they're applying right up top in the article. Oh, if you want to look at more cartoons, cut and paste into google from the Arabic, not the English.
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Roy & Al


I had no idea this existed. Ralf Konig is criminally under-published in English.
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

70 Percent Hustle, 30 Percent Craft

This article is really more about animation than comics, and then only peripherally, and slogans like the one that in the headline above make me queasy, but it's a nice reminder that freelancing artists often have to be more organized and business-like than their cousins on payroll.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 77th Birthday, John Romita Sr.!

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

PWCW: DBD Up 40 Percent In 2006

PWCW has a decent profile of Diamond Book Distribution through an interview with VP of Sales and Marketing Kuo-yu Liang. There are actual numbers bandied about, and specific titles discussed when it comes to the "predicting 2007" section of the article, which put it in the top five percent of comics-related business articles before you even get to the rest of it.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 53rd Birthday, Lorenzo Mattotti!

posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

I Get The Best E-mail

From Kim Thompson:


Q: What do STEVE BELL and BARRY WINDSOR-SMITH have in common (aside from being British cartoonists)?

A: Apparently, both produce cartoon or comics work that looks as if Michael Caine might have drawn it. BWS drew the sword-and-sorcery comic strip that the Caine character in Oliver Stone's infamous 1981 movie The Hand was supposedly responsible for (at least before his car accident), while Bell's is the hand behind Caine's briefly-glimpsed cartoons in the Alfonso Cuaron film Children of Men, exactly 25 years later.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Jim Blanchard Site Updates

posted 2:01 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Review of SF Crumb Exhibit
Schulz Museum Seeking Items

Art Saaf Site Updated

Reader Hates Zits Cartoon
Go Vote In The Eagle Awards

PWCW: Scott Morse
PWCW: K. Thor Jensen

Not Comics
Book On Comics: Finalist List
Shinji Mizushima's Baseball League
Film On Morrie Turner Seeks Investors

DC Announces FCBD Titles

Armando Milicevic: Glacial Period
Armando Milicevic: Aline and the Others
Armando Milicevic: Batman Year One Hundred

January 23, 2007

Happy John Jackson Miller Day!

imageIt's not an official holiday, but if you like looking at Direct Market sales numbers there may be no better day in the calendar year than when CBG's John Jackson Miller digs into the figures from the year at funnybook and hobby shops just passed and releases what he finds in a long, informative, article. This year? Good news for the bottom line driven by new comic book releases, pretty much as expected.
posted 3:49 am PST | Permalink

Modestly Important News Round-Up

* Charles M. Schulz elected posthumously to the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

* That Collective Groan You Thought You Heard Last Week: FBoFW's Liz dumped by already-moved-on adult boyfriend; only thing standing between character and depressingly bizarre forced ending with creepy childhood boyfriend seems to be goofball helicopter pilot.

* I'd never heard of the Doonesbury Act.
posted 3:30 am PST | Permalink

Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese Wins YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Award


Gene Yang's American Born Chinese from First Second Books has won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature, winning out over a slew of prose contenders. A complete list of awards and how this award fits in the context of Young Adult awards in general may be found at
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

Happy 80th Birthday, Bal Thackeray!

My personal interpretation of fair use doesn't include re-appropriation of photos -- unless that photo were the subject of an article, of course -- and there's no representative cartoon work of his that I can find, so I hope you'll forgive me if I just blurt out that the one-time cartoonist turned political party founder and powerhouse politician Bal Thackeray turned 80 today, as many news stories will attest.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 73rd Birthday, Don Wright!

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Darwyn Cooke Interview

imageThere's a nice interview with cartoonist Darwyn Cooke at Chris Mautner's site that expands on their recent talk for the Harrisburg Patriot-News. Cooke has settled in behind a Spirit comic book at DC, and his Absolute DC: The New Frontier apparently sold well at Christmas, which gives the cartoonist a unique inside-yet-outside perspective on the state of American mainstream comics.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 55th Birthday, Klaus Janson!


source: CBG
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Beaty Asked, Butcher Answered

In his recent piece breaking down the award nominees heading into Angouleme, Bart Beaty asked out loud what of the nominated titles were available or would be available in English. Chris Butcher was nice enough to respond. Chris also links to other articles that delve into the same subject.

While you're at Butcher's place, or if you're a more mainstream American comics kind of person that needs a different reason to go, he's running a potential series-ending spoiler for the Civil War event mini-series which sounds too colossally idiotic to be true, but I guess you never know.
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Quick hits
NYCC Panels Shaping Up
Avi Weinryb Reviews Masters Show
NYCC to Employ Ambitious Podcasting Service

Slate: Reinventing Superheroes Slideshow

Bitpass Collapses
Virgin Signs With DBD
Fun Home Shortlisted For Another Award
Avatar Names David Marks Marketing Head
Microsoft to Use Comics in Anti-Piracy Campaign

CHUD: Frank Miller
Pulse: Jeffrey Brown
Stuart Pike: Neil Gaiman Steve Weller
Newsarama: Kevin Huizenga
Monterey Herald: Snick Farkas
Philadelphia Inquirer: Scott McCloud

ACBD Launches Site
Cagle Adds Two Cartoonists
Titan Pimps Their Early 2007 Offerings
David Welsh on L&R Design, Marketing

Jog: Shadowland
Lev Grossman: Achewood
Matt Madden: Campo Di Baba
Deirdre Baker: Moomin Vol. 1
Tonya Crawford: The Spirit #2
Brigid Alverson: Chikyu Misaki
Julie Gray: School Rumble Vol. 3
Pauline Wong: Nosatsu Junkie Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: IC In A Sunflower
Jeff Chon: Hutch Owen: Unmarketable
Leroy Douresseaux: Regards From Serbia
Eddie Campbell: Mary Perkins: On Stage Vol. 2
Marc Singer: The Adventures of Luther Arkwright
Johanna Draper Carlson: Love as a Foreign Language Vol. 6
Burl Burlingame: Innocence and Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo

January 22, 2007

Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* one of the bigger but harder to see outcomes of the riots and political unrest traced back to Danish newspaper Jylland-Posten's publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed is how it will have an impact on the shape of legal matters in Muslim-dominated countries. One country working a razor's edge under the dark cloud of last year's chaos, at least from one article writer's point of view: Morocco. I'm uncomfortable with elements of press freedom being portrayed as a negotiable political outcome, but it's certainly a widely-held point of view.

* Arla Foods UK agrees to buyout, perhaps the most important economic outcome that can be traced, at least in some tiny part, to the economic performance of companies affected by worldwide boycotts during last year's tumultuous Danish Cartoons affair.
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Paul Gravett Discusses Wally Wood


Paul Gravett discusses Wally Wood, the late, great comic book artist who was at once an embodiment of all the positive values of mainstream comics 1950-1975 or so, and an almost mythic personification of the self-destructive artist, two ideas that not only held power when Wood was alive but I think have informed attitudes towards comics ever since.

The interesting part for me is where Gravett rips into some hype for The Compleat Cannon.
I'm sorry, but great artwork alone, no matter how great, is never, ever enough in comics. That's one of the biggest fallacies that continue to hold this medium back. Fans of "good" drawing in comics, usually highly finished and illustrative, seem to be able to blind themselves to a comic's other woeful inadequacies. No wonder the uninitiated can't see what we see in them, once they start reading them.

This is certainly an articulate summary of a certain, historically informed point of view in comics, maybe a dominant one now, that comics has traditionally been art-crazy to the point that they've been blinded to the awful writing which often accompanied, and held back, some of the better artists' work. It's something I've probably written a bunch of times, and I think it describes a certain mindset that has existed in comics to a "T".

And yet I'm not sure I believe this in quite the same way anymore, mostly because I'm increasingly uncertain we've ever fully appreciated the contribution of great comics art to comics beyond bravura displays of technique -- the vibrancy and tone and feel and atmosphere of a comic that comes from the art. Leave aside Hal Foster or Wally Wood or one of today's excellent comic book artists like Darwyn Cooke or Steve Rude, and drop the title from the spare, optional panel in a Peanuts Sunday. What's left isn't lush illustration, but so much of Peanuts comes through that art, so much of its unique point of view, its heart, that it makes you stop and think how much in all instances might be coming from the visual element of comics-making.

One of the most exciting things about comics is that the medium can support what seems to me like two entirely different ways of reading the form: a kind of comics by suggestion, where the comic seems to exist in some idealized state that is the sum of triggers and approximations within the work, and a kind of comics by tactile experience, where comics are more literally marks on a page that cohere on that level before being allowed to serve as abstractions or approximations of anything. I think that's why I continue to read and find value in Wally Wood; while many artists suggest worlds with a life off the page, Wood gave life to objects on them.
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Trust Fund Set Up To Aid Political Cartoonist’s Family As He’s Mourned

The Afghan community of Hamilton, Ontario has established a fund along with other avenues of support for the family of the late Said Shiraga Rahimi, who had recently moved his large family to Canada because of pressure received by his cartoons in Afghanistan and Azerbaijan. Rahimi died a week ago during a late-night delivery run for a job he was holding while training to become a forensic artist. He was buried Sunday. The 35-year-old artist, who was in the midst of putting together an exhibition of his work, was the sole breadwinner for his nine-person family.

Donations are being coordinated by Ibrahim Jame Mosque, 778 King Street East, Hamilton, ON L8M 1A6; 905-527-2392. They've set up an account number, 1026339535, at the Barton Street East TD Canada Trust branch, to which donations can be made directly.
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Go, Download: Angouleme Program

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Ahmed Abbas Goes To Court

The cartoonist Ahmed Abbas went to court early January 21 about a quote he gave to the newspaper Minivan Daily in 2005. Abbas appeared without a lawyer, whom he was unable to contact after being told in the middle of the night of the morning appearance. Abbas has been in jail since November, and remains on the radar of several human rights' groups. His detention is part of a national crackdown on independent journalism in the Maldives.
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Happy 57th Birthday, Marshall Rogers!

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Irfan Petition Leads to 5/24 Hearing

As hoped for by the family of deceased Indian cartoonist Irfan, a Delhi high court has asked for papers in preparation for a May 24 hearing on a petition to have the case surrounding the 1999 murder of the popular artist re-investigated by an independent agency. The petition basically lays out the prosecutors and the investigating police officers for massive indifference and malfeasance during the original query and subsequent trial. This could become an extremely interesting story if the cases is re-opened, and it's not a bad one right now.
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Dennis Mallonee!

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First Danish Cartoons Book Released

Well, the first I heard of, anyway. According to this article, Tariq Ghazi's The Cartoons Cry has hit the shelves both real and virtual. Although this description in the review --
Ghazi suggests pathways to rejuvenate or perhaps rescue our present civilizations from destruction to reach a new paradigm of coalescence towards a better upward trajectory.

-- launched me back in time to my grad school years where I briefly fell in love with Jane Seymour, so that was weird, plus I realize I'm not going to agree with all of the books politically, I look forward to reading this and all forthcoming books.
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Happy 49th Birthday, Howard Mackie!

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Go, Read: Dave Astor of E&P On The State of Editorial Cartooning

There's a nice piece up at Editor and Publisher by David Astor on the state of editorial cartooning: on the one hand, quality cartoonists and a number of printing options and presentational choices, including animation; on the other, shrinking staffroom positions and more and more demanded of remaining staffers. It's nothing you haven't heard a hundred times filtered through numerous articles of Astor's or even in postings here, but I think it's important to consider the idea that it may not be solely an issue of quality having an impact on that field. Plus, Astor gives the most depressing number for remaining staff cartoonist positions I've read yet!
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Happy 37th Birthday, Alex Ross!

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Today’s Profile Recipients/PR Winners

imageTwo articles that may be more interesting for their role in the publicity needs of the subjects as opposed to the content of the articles: the LA Times on the Center For Cartoon Studies, which could be really desirable exposure on the opposite coast as the school gets past the novelty stage deep in its second year; a New York Times piece on Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb that profiles the couple as a cornerstone of a community assembled around them, which shows up at a perfect time to launch the campaign for Aline's new volume Need More Love.
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Quick hits
Comic Art Show Hits Nebraska

Local Joe Gill Obituary

Remember Stephanie Brown
Life Without Fair Courts Contest
NPR on Black Artists and Graphic Novels

Statesman-Journal: John Callahan

Mechademia Launches
Last Kiss Joins Seattle Times
Midnight Opening For Dark Tower

James Kochalka: Popeye Vol. 1
Martin Gray: Great British Comics
Alex Good: Invaders From The North
Greg Burgas: Fun Home, Stagger Lee
Fraser Newham: Pyongyang, Shenzhen


January 20, 2007

CR Sunday Magazine

Bart Beaty Handicaps Angouleme's Prizes



Five Link A Go Go

* if I knew what this was, I'd tell you

* go, read: James Sturm at Appalachian State

* go, watch: Friends of the Nib in Fantagraphics Bookstore

* an appreciation of comics' greatest age: this one

* catch up with Ink Studs: Dennis Eichhorn and Dan Nadel


Go, Look: Steve Brodner's Person of the Day



First Thought Of The Day
It shouldn't be "better abs and booty"; it should be "better abs and glutes" or "better tummy and booty."
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Bart Beaty at Angouleme 01: The Prize Race Handicapped


In their 36-year history, the prizes given out by Festival International de la Bande Dessinee have changed their names at least four times. They started as the Alfreds, changed that to the Alph-Arts, then changed that (briefly) to the Prix d'Angouleme (need to get the brand name out there!) and now they've changed again, to "The Essentials," which is probably as bad a name as I could imagine for a book prize.

Moreover, the rules have changed too. This year, a whopping 50 books have been nominated as "Essentials" and eight of them will win prizes. One will win the main prize as best book (the Essentialist Essential, I suppose) and then there will be six Essential runners-up, and one book will win the special prize for best "heritage" book (Essential Reprint). And I'm pretty sure one of them will win "Essential Book from a New Talent." Of course, all of this was undertaken in order to make the whole awards process less confusing. Job well done.

With 50 books in the running it is almost impossible to handicap the nominees. The jury can go pretty much any which way (there are seven jurors, I suppose that they could all just pick one book and pretty much call it a day), and there are pretty much no clear criteria other than the jury should pick a bunch of really good books.

imageThe pre-selection committee did a generally nice job. It's hard to argue with a list where the English-language books nominated are: Black Hole, Hate, Frank, Fun Home, Ganges, Ice Haven, The New Frontier, La Perdida, and Wimbledon Green (and the French version of the giant Little Nemo book is nominated in the Heritage category). Imagine the day when the Eisners or Harveys have an equivalent line-up of Euro-comics nominated for their main prizes. Odds are the one or two of these books is walking away with a prize. In fact, I will predict three American comics will win prizes, and that one of them will be the Little Nemo collection winning the Heritage prize. I would imagine Jessica Abel and Kevin Huizenga are strongly in the running for the Newcomer award.

imageManga is also well-represented by Avant la prison (Kazuichi Hanawa), Gyo (Junji Ito), In the Clothes Named Fat (Moyoco Anno), Jacaranda (Kotobuki Shiriagari), Ki-Itchi (Hideki Arai), Non Non Ba (Shigeru Mizuki), Sorcieres (Daisuke Igarashi), and Zipang (Kaiji Kawaguchi). I'm not sure which of these seven series is available in English (I'm sure Chris Butcher or Dirk Deppey can help us there). I will say that Hanawa's prison material is fantastically good, and that Ki-Itchi is by far my favorite contemporary manga series. I've never read In the Clothes Named Fat, but it looks interesting. Manga has also done well in the Heritage category, where Golgo 13 (Takao Saito) and Hato (Osamu Tezuka) both appear. I will go out on a limb and say only one award for manga this year, and I'm predicting that the prize goes to Hanawa. Outside chance: Shiriagari for Jacaranda.

imageThe rest of the nominees are all European, a mix of small presses and established houses. From the biggest and most commercial publishers we get: Daniel Goossens' Georges et Louis (a humor comic from Fluide Glacial), Kinky & Cosey by the Flemish artist Nix (Lombard), Julien Neel's children's series Lou (Glenat), Magasin General by Loisel and Tripp (from Casterman, about a Quebecois general store), Le Marquis d'Anaon by Fabien Vehlmann and Matthieu Bonhomme (from Dargaud, a story of an Enlightenment-era adventurer), Pascal Brutal, a satire by Riad Sattouf (Fluide Glacial), Les Passes-Murailles by Stephane Ory and Jean-Luc Cornette (Humanoides, Ory is an interesting artist), Le Photographe by Emmanuel Guibert (discussed here recently), Pourquoi j'ai tue Pierre by Olivier Ka and Alfred (Delcourt, which, I believe, is about rape), Le Sang des Voyous by Loustal and Paringaux (Casterman, everything by this duo is probably worthy of an award -- do they ever miss?), Universal War One by Denis Bajram (Soleil, not my type of thing at all!), and Wizz et Buzz by Winshluss and Cizo, which I haven't read but which will find me racing to Delcourt for a copy. I've got to imagine that at least two of these books will walk away with prizes. I'm strongly pulling for Le Photographe, and Magasin General is a good bet as it is regularly praised. Almost inevitably, however, each year a book that I know nothing about wins a prize, and it will probably come from this group. Possibly Pourquoi j'ai tue Pierre.

The final category would be books published by the smaller presses. These range from the genuinely small to the increasing mid-range and well-funded publishers that are the bread and butter of the type of work that I tend to read and review here. A few of these nominees I haven't read yet, so they're books that I'll take a close look at later this week. The nominees include Canetor by the late, great Charlie Schlingo and Michel Pirus, Capucin by Florence Dupre la Tour (an artist I don't really know at all), Comment ca se fait by Nadja (one of Cornelius' several nominations), L'Homme qui s'evada by Laurent Maffre (someone I've never even heard of -- a first book based on the true story of a convict's escape from a penal colony), They Found the Car by Gipi (who won the grand prize last year), I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason (expect this time-traveling adventure soon enough from Fantagraphics), Luchadoras by Peggy Adam (about the 400 women murdered in Juarez), Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme (which I recently reviewed), the final volume of Frederik Peeters' amazing Lupus, Michel by Pierre Maurel (about a sound artist), Olivier Schrauwen's amazing Mon Fiston (also recently reviewed here), L'Oeil Prive by Blexbolex (who is amazing beyond words), Orage et Desespoir by Lucie Durbiano (I went back and forth on buying this when I was last in France -- seems I made a mistake in passing it up), Panier de Singer by Jerome Mulot and Florent Ruppert (the hyper-talented duo behind Safari Monseigneur), and La Volupte by Blutch. Additionally, two L'Association collections (Touis and Frydman's Sergent Laterreur and Gebe's Service des cas fous) are nominated in the Heritage category. How many awards do I have left to hand out? Two? I'm going to give them to Blutch and Frederik Peeters, just on a whim.

Frankly, I don't have a clue what is going to win. I've read just about half of the nominated titles, and there's none that I haven't liked and admired to at least some degree. There are few books on the list that seem to be absolute locks (except for the Nemo book), so nothing is going to surprise me. In all fairness, despite some omissions that seem inexplicable to me (World Trade Angels, the entire Fremok line), the list of nominees is very good -- far better than I've ever seen in a comparable American awards. So, good luck to the nominees! The awards are handed out on Thursday (I think), the opening night of the Festival. I'll be back then with a look ahead at the Festival as a whole. -- Bart Beaty


To learn more about Dr. Beaty, or to contact him, try here.

Those in North America interested in buying comics talked about in Bart Beaty's articles might try here or here.
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Happy 51st Birthday, Mark Martin!

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January 19, 2007

CR Week In Review


The top comics-related news stories from January 13 to January 19, 2007:

1. Political cartoonist Said Shiraga Rahimi dies after being struck by a freight train in a delivery van; cartoonist another refugee of a not-happy-with-dissent Central Asian nation trying to re-establish himself and his family in Canada.

2. declares 2006 a very good year for sales in the comic book Direct Market of comics shops and hobby stores.

3. The Danish Cartoons story won't go away.

Winner Of The Week
Young cartoonists in Seattle who now have the regular venue of Fantagraphics' store in which to attend events.

Loser Of The Week
Apparently, One Year Later.

Quote Of The Week
"I broke Rule Number One of Responding to Clients: Never criticize. And also the (aptly named) Number Two: Take a deep breath and remember Rule One before opening your yap." -- Amy Lago

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications; while the casual racism is cringe-worthy, the odd body language from the guy in the middle is pretty great, as are the garish colors on the clothing

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Happy 57th Birthday, Keith Pollard!

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Humor To Take You Into the Weekend


* new comic posted at Comics With Problems (above)

* disappointingly boring concept of tweaking serious graphic novels redeemed in detail work at Onion

* panels from Jimmy Olsen comics are always funny

* wider study of the best-known humor panel in superhero comics history
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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On DC Events

Newsarama has an article up by retailer Brian Hibbs about how DC's initiatives "One Year Later" (an in-continuity skipping one year ahead re-set of titles to encourage new readers to jump on without being baffled by accretion of story details so different from the concept of the character) and 52 (a weekly year-long series about what happened in that lost year) worked in his store. As always, it's nice to hear a prominent retailer's take on why one thing worked and another didn't perform, and Hibbs sticks to details and in-the-store observations rather than the sweeping statements he sometimes makes that cause his fellow industry watchers to blink twice and clutch their heads in vessel-bursting pain.

Although... one thing that's odd about the comparison is that they're not all that similar: 52 is an event comic; "One Year Later" was a line initiative. As much as it's impressive that 52 has sustained itself at its sales levels over such a long period of time when compared to other events, there should be little to no surprise that an event comic has a greater chance for success than an initiative right now. The big companies have at this point totally primed the market to follow event comics, and have specific tools at their disposal to help retailers get on board, some of which are mentioned by Hibbs. The companies have in that same last few years largely abandoned any equally invested efforts to reinvigorate their lines property by property except in those places a "dream team" can be assembled that makes the book feel like an event and then act that way in the marketplace.

What's hard to tell given the size of the major players is whether or not they're reacting to a market that is simply collapsing white-star like for your average, everyday series comic book, or if they've made it that way.
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Ellen Forney Among Dozen in New Writers Program at Seattle P-I


This just sort of sounds cool. In case my poor headline writing threw you, it's a new program, not a program for new writers, and the line-up looks pretty formidable.
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Denmark Officials To Visit Malaysia

Your Danish Cartoons Controversy Hangover story of the day: a group of Denmark government officials will visit Malaysia to discuss various trade and political issues, including, unofficially I think, an easing of tensions caused by last year's riots and political unease spurred on by 2005's newspaper publication of Muhammed caricatures in Denmark. This is interesting to me because of Malaysia's political position in the Muslim world and that the foreign ministers apparently tried to work together through unofficial channels during the riots of a year ago.
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Go, Look: Cartoonists Drawing Stuff


Nicked from Fantagraphics' blog, although I went there in part to look for something like this: Jen Ralston has photos up from Wednesday night's Friends of the Nib event at Seattle's Fantagraphics store. The photos will give you an idea of some of the folks around Seattle these days and may even help fire you up for getting some work done in these, the winter months, months that were made for working. That's Jim Woodring above.
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BlogHer: Comics Under Feminist Scrutiny

Melinda Casino presents a bunch of interesting links which she calls "comic strips under feminist scrutiny," as well as floats an interesting theory about how certain forms of presentation may allows for the engagement of taboos.
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Happy 59th Birthday, Joe Staton!

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The Herald on Harry Horse’s Passing

The passing of Richard "Harry Horse" Horne and his wife Mandy has been covered in multiple articles and blog postings, including a few here. Because that story came at the reader in a series of fragmented local reports -- they lived in a small town -- and what happened to be on-line in terms of biography at the time of the cartoonist's passing, I thought some of you might want to read a solid feature that puts all information into one place on what many think looks clearly like a heartbreaking double-suicide, or at least something that isn't a third-party crime.

The latest is that the investigation may delay the Hornes' funerals.
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Tom Yeates!

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Amy Lago on Comic Strip Language

Editor and Publisher points to a short essay/posting by Washington Post Writers Group's Amy Lago about the pushing the boundaries of language in newspaper comic strips. Even if you feel asleep near the end of the last sentence, it's worth it for an amusing anecdote about her getting Luann canceled in a paper by insulting a reader.
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Quick hits
Jeff Smith: First SPX '07 Guest

Today's Nerd Crime Blotter
Changes Up Top At Scholastic
I Hadn't Known Jen Ralston Left Fantagraphics

Daily Orange: Nicholas Gurewitch

MODOK: A Reason to Love Comics
Nick Fury: A Reason to Love Comics
Joe Gross: How To Read Essential Power Man

Bill Sherman: The Abandoned
Derik Badman: Various Alt-Comics
Greg Burgas: Various Kids' Comics
Geoff Hoppe: Action Comics #844-845
Leroy Douresseaux: Runaway Comics #2
Christopher Seaman: School Rumble Vol. 3

January 18, 2007

Conversational Euro-Comics: Bart Beaty Reviews World Trade Angels


And then there are some things I just don't get about comics.

Standing in a store like Paris' Superheros, I occasionally stumble across a book and think, "Well hold on, this will appear in English soon, and I can buy that version." For instance, last fall I saw a beautiful Kevin Huizenga book from Vertige Graphic before I knew that Drawn and Quarterly was also bringing it out, and so I waited for the DQ version that I rightly assumed had to be coming.


On that same occasion I also saw World Trade Angels (Denoel Graphic) and I thought: "Gee, that has to be coming from an American publisher. It's a comic by The New Yorker's Laurent Cilluffo and it's about September 11th. That's the sort of perfect New York media storm that will launch this book onto the bestseller lists. If the guys behind Richie Rich can get loads of press for a bad book about that tragedy, imagine the accolades that will be heaped upon one of the best illustrators working at one of the most esteemed magazines in the country. Surely I can wait for the English edition."

But then I thought, "Wow, this really is a nice version with its heavy cardboard covers and nice paper -- maybe I'll just pick this up now." And, of course, since that time I've never heard anything more about an American edition of this remarkable book.


World Trade Angels tells the story of Stanley Middle, a man whose life is dramatically changed by the events of September 11th, when he loses both his father and his pregnant fiancee. Stanley retreats into a world of his own imagination, living out a fantasy where these deaths did not occur, stumbling through his new life until it is disrupted by Sarah, the new lover with too many questions. But just who is Sarah? A girlfriend? A projection of his subconscious mind? An angel?


World Trade Angels is certainly the finest comic to have been produced about the events of 9/11 to date. Cilluffo's first comic book (he once did the covers for an issue of Drawn and Quarterly, about a decade ago) is something approximating a masterpiece. Formally inventive in a manner that rivals Chris Ware, Cilluffo has designed a book that is simply stunning. Two things in particular stand out. The first is his linework. Cilluffo is a follower of the Ligne Claire design school emblematized by the likes of Joost Swarte and Ever Meulen. His figures are simple without being simplistic, and his thin, graceful outlines are equally reminiscent of the work of Julian Opie. These are beautifully drawn pages. Second, his use of color is almost unparalleled. The book is all oranges and grays, and the constant shifting between colors helps place us inside Stanley's head, with differing levels of reality and fantasy clashing as a field of background washes, sometimes even in the same panel. It is clear when reading World Trade Angels that every single page has been thoughtfully designed to work as a part of the overall larger project, but that each page also stands alone as a striking visual artifact.


The text and story, by French novelist Fabrice Colin, is equally striking. While it has strong overtones of a Wim Wenders-style melodrama, the resolution of the story, while predictable, is heartbreaking. The visual metaphor that ends the book is almost inevitable, and is powerfully moving all the same. If there is a drawback to the book, it might be the fact that the first chapter is overly wordy and a bit difficult to crack. By the end of the book, however, Colin has the good sense to allow the design to carry the emotional weight of the work. He does not try to force cheap sentimentality into the narrative, but rather arranges a genuinely moving resolution. This is one of the few comics that I have ever read that actually touched me on an emotional level.

So I don't get it. I don't understand why there doesn't seem to be an American release of this book forthcoming. I can't understand why it's not nominated for a prize at Angouleme. I don't get the fact that there seems to be so little written about this book. Sometimes I think that maybe it's all just in my mind. -- Bart Beaty
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Said Shiraga Rahimi, 1971-2007

The Afghani political cartoonist Said Shiraga Rahimi, who had recently moved to Canada in order to find a better life for himself and his large family and to flee oppression for blunt statements about power political forces he made in various magazine in Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, was killed early morning Monday when a freight train struck his car during a pizza delivery run. Rahimi had taken the extra work to pay bills, including a low five-figure amount required to process the Rahimi family into Canada, a fee that he was paying off in installments.

A native of Kabul, Rahimi had been working on staging an exhibition of his artwork and was studying to become a police forensic artist. He is survived by a wife, five daughters and two sons.
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OTBP: The Invention of Hugo Cabret


The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick, Scholastic, 0439813786 (ISBN), 544 pages, March 2007, $22.99

With an initial press run of 100,000, a noted book illustrator-author in Brian Selznick and the muscle of Scholastic working the stores and press, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is only an "off the beaten path" candidate for its tangential relationship to comics. Stuffed with art (284 pages), Selznick's book draws on elements of comics storytelling above and beyond providing a pleasing visual accompaniment to the prose sections.
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Steven Grant: Steranko Art Letter

The writer Steven Grant kicks off this week's column at Comic Book Resources with an intriguing story on Jim Steranko's efforts to find some sort of resolution to what looks like donated art being sold or stolen from a university collection despite the intention of the original gift1. Grant then steers the conversation to things like the difficulties of archiving art and determining ownership.
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Leah Adezio Passes Away

imageThe artist and comics industry activist Leah Adezio passed away on January 16 apparently from complications of the liver and kidneys. Adezio was a well-liked figure in several corners of the wider North American comics community, was involved with the advocacy group Friends of Lulu particularly, it sounds like, during the mid-1990s through the New York chapter and was the co-creator and artist of an Ari of Lemuria short story that ran in their Storytime anthology (pictured).

Remembrances of the mother of two, preceded in death by her husband, David, can be found here, here, here, here and here.
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Go, Read: Ben Schwartz On Comics

The writer Ben Schwartz recently placed a pair of excellent articles related to comics. The first is a New York Times piece on the collectors of old-time strips that have made the recent "complete" archiving of those strips possible. The second is a piece on the New York City Friars Club's celebration of Drew Friedman's excellent portraiture book Old Jewish Comedians for the LA Times. Schwartz is about as good a writer as there is that pays attention to the medium.
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Jeff Smith’s Mary Marvel: Very Cute


Jeff Smith continues to load up imagery from his forthcoming mini-series on all things Captain Marvel, including Mary Marvel, who in the 1940s was kind of a Deanna Durbin/Judy Garland type.
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Not Comics: Book and Hobby Stores

Two articles, one kind of old and one kind of new, popped out at me for what they, together, might say about the American comic shop. I have no idea what the exact numbers are (I'm not sure anyone outside of Diamond and their immediate circle knows), but the general consensus seems to be that the number of comic shops has gone down, if not year to year every year until now than certainly over a decade to fifteen years ago. We all know the reasons, right? Unavoidable readership trends concerning comics exacerbated by the short-sightedness of major players. Right?

Maybe not. This article by Paul Collins in May 2006's Voice Literary Supplement and an editorial by writer and game designer Ryan Dancy on 2007 gaming industry trends, seem to suggest that bookstores and hobby stores have undergone a similar, broad contraction.

That's sort of interesting in and of itself, and makes me think of comics in a couple of ways: 1) any loss in number of comic book stores could be part of a cultural shift in the way people shop as opposed to just being about issues like content, presentation and format, 2) bookstores may not just reach a different audience than comic shops; bookstores probably out-perform them in some very basic ways -- this puts Chicago Comics' claim to out-super the superstores in bold relief as a survival tactic, 3) Generating greater sales per shop may not be the panacea hoped for and therefore perhaps business reform should be examined on a deeper level than presenting another wave of ostensibly better comics and hoping the Direct Market shapes itself around them, and 4) these are all trends that could accelerate in the near-future, particularly as local markets ossify a whole generation removed from their last devoted sales agents.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: The Gospel Blimp


Adding to his free comics series, Kevin Church at uploads an Al Hartley effort from the Spire Christian Comics line for your enjoyment. The great thing about Hartley's comics is that while they have an obvious kitschy appeal -- the fallen neighbors drinking beer in their backyard will make a lot of people giggle -- Hartley's page and panel design work was so solid you have to appreciate it. This is true even of The Gospel Blimp, which lacks the full-page imagery of some of the other Spire books. Anyway, if you read Gospel Blimp, check out how well-staged some of the panels are: one way to do that is to think about appropriating an image to be worked up into a card or a party invitation.
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: 2007 Small Press Expo Dates

According to this post at Ben Towle's web site, the Small Press Expo will be held at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel and Conference Center, on October 12-13. Exhibitor registration will open on January 21, with forms to be made available at the SPX site.

Towle passes along word from SPX's organizers that the show will not change in any significant way between last year and this one; he does a bit of detective work and suggests what changes might have been considered.

In related news, Bart Beaty wrote in to point out that ICAF's dates for 2007 are October 18-20, meaning no overlap between events, and that ICAF changed the F from "festival" to "forum."
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 35th Birthday, Scott Mills!

posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

George W.S. Trow, 1943-2006

I missed this by several months, but George W.S. Trow, the essayist who worked for one of the great vehicles of 20th Century cartooning, The New Yorker, and helped to found another, National Lampoon, passed away in November from natural causes. He was 63 years old. An early editor of National Lampoon, Trow was considered by many the best essay writer of the William Shawn New Yorker. His most famous piece was probably 1980's "Within the Context of No Context." He quit the Tina Brown New Yorker fairly early on out of distaste for the celebrity-driven editorial policy that began to seep in; he felt celebrity worship was beginning to cripple our culture in a variety of ways.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Best of 2006
Thor's Comics Column Best of 2006
Night Flight Comics: Best Comics of 2006

Major Report From DeZuniga Exhibit
Morrie Turner Speaking in Alfred, NY
Pham-Reyes-Cendreda Exhibit at Giant Robot
Oklahoma Cartoonists Museum Piece on YouTube

Rare Character Death in Rudy Park
Jim Borgman on How He Tackles Minorities

Industry Personnel Moves at Viz

Newsarama: Dean Haspiel
Newsarama: Bill Rosemann
Austin Monthly: Ben Sargent
Mother Jones: Garry Trudeau
Fleen: Lisa Fary, John Dallaire

Artkrush Publishes Issue on Comics
Toledo Free Press To Publish Local Comic Strip

Jog: Various
Natalie Nichols: Lost Girls
Shawn Hoke: Panel:Travel
David Welsh: Shout Out Loud! Vol. 3
Don MacPherson: American Virgin #10
Leroy Douresseaux: Tales of Old Palomar #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Absolute DC: The New Frontier

January 17, 2007

If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

Editor Flemming Rose: Cartoons Controversy Will Continue For Years

I agree with Rose, although less in the "valuable discussions we started" sense and more in the "uncontrollable viral plague of violence and stupidity that will now enjoy intermittent periods of dormancy and activity until the end of time" sense.

I only pray that in future years Jyllands-Posten will resist the temptation to goose public debate on issues like germ warfare, genocide or nuclear proliferation.
posted 3:13 am PST | Permalink

Joe Gill, 1919-2006


Mark Evanier has confirmed rumors that the prolific comic book writer Joe Gill passed away last month, and provides an affectionate obituary.

Gill was born in 1919, and did his first comics writing for Martin Goodman's Timely, which would later become Marvel Comics. In the 1950s he shifted to work at Charlton Comics, with a trickle of work starting in 1954 that become a flood by 1956. Gill became Charlton's workhorse script writer from that moment until the company closed its doors thirty years later. He is probably best known for his work on Charlton's mid-1960s superhero books, including Gill co-creations like Captain Atom.

Gill also apparently worked for DC Comics through former Charlton editor Dick Giordano, although the only thing that I can find in a brief scan of the admittedly massively incomplete comics catalog sites is a dialog assignment from a E. Nelson Bridwell plot.

Evanier notes that Gill was among a handful of men that could be considered the most prolific writers to work in the field, at a time when comics' newsstand availability and brutal production schedules made this a valuable commodity.
posted 3:02 am PST | Permalink

We Live In Strange, Wonderful Times


Harvey Comics Classics Vol. 1: Casper The Friendly Ghost, Dark Horse, softcover, 480 pages, 1593077815 (ISBN), June 2007, $19.95


Newsarama notes the latest entry in the "holy crap, everything ever released is going to be re-published by 2014" comic book movement.

Casper is a powerful concept, not for the strange ghost part, which has been beaten to death by stand-up comedians and The Simpsons, but because little kids can relate to wanting to be friends with people on the goofiest, instant-love, open-heart level and then being rejected for some fundamental reason they can't really grasp. I remember babysitting about 15 years ago for a couple of younger kids and watching some of the early animation and in the middle of it one of the kids standing up and holding his hands up like Jackie Mason and proclaiming to heaven, "Why, oh why can't somebody be his friend?"

I honestly have no idea what the classic comic book stuff is like, but I'm all for cheap reprints of any older comics, and hope this is done well.
posted 2:29 am PST | Permalink

Steve Canyon Strips Going On-Line

Editor & Publisher has a news brief up stating that installments of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon are going to go up on a site called This is interesting for a lot of reasons: the site is mostly humor strips, Milton Caniff is a legendary comic strip figure so you might expect this announcement coming from a syndicate or something rather than an independent site, and Canyon recently celebrated a birthday.

Steve Canyon is a fascinating strip, too, and not just on the level that as we've started to find and republish so many great comics that 41 years of largely not-yet re-read Milton Caniff starts to looks like the Lost Island of Atlantis. The fact is that it's really, really well-crafted work, and has some cultural juice for its treatment of American attitudes towards the post-World War II planet and its status as maybe the oddest art casualty of a Vietnam War that kind of threw the narratives for a loop and put Caniff's politics in cold relief.
posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: To Terra Preview

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Isotope Names Judges and Accepting Submissions for Mini-Comics Award

The San Francisco retailer Isotope and its proprietor James Sime have announced the opening of submissions for its "Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics," now in its fifth year. Entries will be accepted until March 15th. This year's judges are Danica Novgorodoff, Johanna Draper Carlson, Jason McNamara, Kirsten Baldock, and Sime. Past winners are Rob Osborne, Josh Cotter, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Novgorodoff. To be eligible to win the cartoonist must be willing to show up at Isotope on Saturday, April 21st to accept the award.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 50th Birthday, Ann Nocenti!

posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Why People Haven’t Embraced PWCW

Actually, people have embraced Publishers Weekly's comics coverage, and their free news weekly e-mail has an audience that doubtless dwarfs this site's. Their reach and influence when it comes to accessing publishing news is peerless, and they present fine industry-centric articles on issues like scheduling and marketing, topics that have always received short shrift from other sources.

It's my headline because "Why don't people love us more?" or its rough equivalent is a question that at least one of the co-editors has asked in public.

Let me suggest, then, that one problem putting a hitch in our hug may be that they insist on running ridiculous blow-job articles on a sister company's event.

The New York Con's a legit story; I'm hoping it will be very successful, and suspect it will be. Reed Exhibitions knows how to put on a show. They are better at their job than I am at mine. They will almost certainly correct last year's tickets and processing fiasco -- although I guess it's good they didn't do so last year, because they apparently made the show legendary -- and are likely to have a fantastic year. I'm happy for this.

But publishers discussing what they have planned for their booths and enthusing about the potential good times to be had isn't a news article; it's PR, and it demeans PWCW to publish PR as a lead story. There's nothing in that article that couldn't have been generated by the show itself, and I'm reasonably certain you couldn't tell it's a feature rather than a publicist-written article if you hid the bylines. There's an industry story about DC's marketing department that fits PWCW's mission perfectly that could have gone in that slot. If there had to be a con story, the Festival at Angouleme is closer to today's date and has any number of hooks. I mean, heck, PWCW recently covered the New York show with a totally separate article! And they will have tons of appropriate coverage at the show itself.

Comics is tough because a lot of its fans are super-media-literate and therefore jaded, many folks will forgive PR-driven stories as long as they're getting theirs, there's unavoidable overlap between PR needs and feature article writing that muddies the water, and the field is small enough that you can whip up a teenager's hypocrite charge or 1993 Usenet-style bias accusation with almost no effort. I can be hit with those arguments about this posting. And others! I don't enjoy fighting with people I like, either. I just felt like I had to put this out there, and you can take it for what you will.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Happy 65th Birthday, Muhammad Ali!


I don't know about you, but I would totally buy a graphic novel that was nothing but page after page of Muhammad Ali beating the shit out of Superman.
posted 2:01 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Best of 2006
The Beguiling's Best of 2006

Update on DramaQueen's Progress
Sally Newlin: Manga Not Backwards

PWCW: R Stevens
The Pulse: Gene Yang
Newsarama: Jeff Smith
The Exponent: Hector Cantu
Concord Monitor: Stephan Pastis

Not Comics
Wales Says Goodbye to Gren
Jose Varela Selling Art For Fund

Jog: Robot 3
Vichus Smith: 52 #26
Leroy Douresseaux: Delphine
Chris Mautner: newuniversal, Nextwave
Richard Pachter: American Born Chinese, Glacial Period

January 16, 2007

Harry Horse Investigation Continues

imageThe discovery of cartoonist Richard "Harry Horse" Horne and his wife Mandy last week shocked the local community, so updates on police movement concerning the case are frequent and forthcoming. Right now they're at a stage where they are waiting for things like toxicology reports to come back; the police did tell the press they do not suspect a third party. Rumors swirled when the initial announcement was made that it was a double suicide related to Mandy's multiple sclerosis.
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink

Danish Cartoons Fall-Out Continues

* Arla Foods, a company in the news last year for the economic kidney punch it received due to boycotts in Muslim countries because of the caricatures of Muhammed that were run in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, may be sold to its biggest shareholder. There's something refreshing in seeing other causes listed for Arla's latest troubles, such as the size of their pension and increased competition in Europe.

* An American newspaper columnist points out, rightly I think, that Germany's attempt to extend its Holocaust revisionist speech laws to all members of the EU will be colored by claims made during the height of the Danish Cartoons controversy about the Western's selective tolerance for free speech.
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink 2006 Was Very Good For DM

imageThe comics business news and analysis site is declaring 2006 a very good year, now that the December 2006 numbers are in, with periodicals up 15% and graphic novels up 9%. As far as the December numbers, the site notes a double-dip for the Brad Meltzer take on the Justice League of America concept, and two Brian Bendis-written comics drawing on the strong Avengers property, all make the top five.

News Story
Top 300 Comic Books
Top 100 Graphic Novels

If I had to comment on's take on things, and I'd be ill-prepared to walk into Nerd Court and make a case with numbers and everything, I'd say just based on my general, kind of amateurish observations that the statement "constant reinvigoration of continuing series" seems kind of an overstatement. While big-company series might be reinvigorated creatively, it seems to me most of the growth came from additional, high-end "event" comics, comics that tie in to such events, and runs in regular series that mirror that kind of gotta-have-it/everything-will-change/big-time-creative-team formula. I don't see as much strength coming from, say, the regular X-Men books as opposed to the last couple of years, anyway.

I think this is important because it speaks to the potential sustainability of the growth and the breadth of its appeal.

It's also worth noting the relentless single-genre, limited-group-of-publishers nature of the periodicals list and the strong showing for that genre in the DM's book-buying habits, which depending on your level of cynicism makes the Direct Market feel more specialized than might be healthy or actually locks the DM into less effective strategies based on following the market leaders.

cover image from Justice League of America #4
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Jackie Ormes Painting


Adam Mossbridge pointed me towards the above image, and I thought it was interesting enough to post:
This is a naked PR ploy. I consigned a Jackie Ormes painting to an auction house for their inaugural African American Fine Arts auction. The sale is on Feb. 6, 2006 at Swann Galleries. Still, in my research I have not been able to find any other examples of her fine art work, though I believe they exist.

The painting is here.

Given that it has Jackie Ormes Features on the back, it's quite possible that it was featured in a panel of a comic strip. I've heard that she featured her own paintings in the background of other strips.

I've shown it to several experts, including Trina Robbins and Nancy Goldstein (who is writing a book on Ormes). They agree it's consistent with her paintings.

I didn't know that Ormes featured her work in panels of comic strips, nor was I aware -- or I had forgotten -- that someone was working on an Ormes book. So I'll file that information away and maybe one of you out there will buy the painting.
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

They’re Getting New Jobs In Comics

* reports that Ambroise Lassalle will succeed Gaby Scaon at the Musee du Centre National de la bande dessinee et de l'image at Angouleme. It sounds like Lassalle has more museum experience than comics experience, as the article notes there are plenty of comics experts on the board upon which Lassalle can depend.

* I totally spaced on running this when I first got it, although I posted it as a letter, but there were a couple of changes at Comic-Con International. Eddie Ibrahim moves into the Director of Programming position, while current director Gary Sassaman moves into a newly-created position, Director of Print and Publications.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Jacob Covey On Re-Designing L&R



Fantagraphics art director Jacob Covey has some thoughts on re-presenting the early Love and Rocketswork by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez to bookstore audiences that you may find endearing or aggravating depending on how you feel about past designs and, well, manga, but hopefully you find it interesting either way it hits you. If this direct link doesn't work any better for you than it did for me, go to the blog and scroll down to Monday's 4:09 PM entry.
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

They’re Talking About Comic Books

* Tim O'Neil reads 52 and comes away from that experience suggesting the popular DC Comics "event" series hits new levels in terms of the odd kinds of fan service that modern comics trade in, frequently at the expense of story. Read the comments section for another strange element of comics culture, a reader that's seemingly happy to compartmentalize a reading experience and suggests O'Neil's inability to do the same is a weakness.

* Sean T. Collins responds in broken beer-bottle fashion to recent postings by Chris Butcher and Marc Singer. The Singer commentary thread is pretty interesting.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 47th Birthday, Frederic Boilet!

posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Girl Power! Exhibit Profiled
Tom Toles Exhibit In Buffalo
Best Of Year Exhibit in Jerusalem Turns Three

Steve Canyon at 60
Comic Strips Are What You Make of Them
Rock Star Writers and Trades Have Ruined Serial Superhero Comics

OMAC: A Reason to Love Comics
W.A.S.T.E.: A Reason to Love Comics

CBR: Peter David
Toronto Sun: Stan Lee
Newsarama: John Ostrander

Not Comics
Pakistan Marathon History Includes Cartoon Arson

Ottawa Citizen: Comics Publishing Now
Marvel Spotlights Dr. Strange Character in Avengers Title

Greg Burgas: Fun Home
Jog: Night and the Enemy
Leroy Douresseaux: Hibiki's Magic Vol. 1
Jessie Chipchase: Amazing Marvel Universe
Don MacPherson: Shock Suspenstories Vol. 1
Chris Ware Talks About Charles Burns' One Eye
Leroy Douresseaux: Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #23
David Bordwell: Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination
Michael Barrier: Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

January 15, 2007

MLK Day As A Community Builder—Comics Scene By Comics Scene Update

In 2005 it occurred to me that this site could use a basic resource breaking down all things comics-related by metropolitan area -- kind of a first stop on who to contact if you were planning to relocate, or where to go if you were planning a visit, or who to invite if you were having a show, or who you might profile if you were writing a feature article.

This list in progress is the result. Creative people make up the bulk but not the entirety of the people list. Comic shops make up the bulk but not the entirety of the institutions list.

Please help me update it.

If you can be added to a community, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

If you know of a community of three or more people and institutions to add, please tell me.

If you know of changes or additions that need to be made in existing entries, please tell me.



* = Not in the city but close enough that were Scott McCloud, Art Spiegelman or Neil Gaiman scheduled to come and speak they would consider going.

Mark Bagley
Ward Batty
Cliff Biggers
Ted Boonthanakit
Mark Brooks
Bob Burden
Marie Croall (*)
April Doster
Tom Feister
Stephanie Gladden
Cully Hamner
Bo Hampton
Tony Harris (*)
Bill Holbrook
Adam Hughes
Georges Jeanty
posted 1:12 am PST | Permalink

MLK Day As A Window Into Social History; A Few Black Cartoonist Pages

Here are a few sites to visit for those interested in seeing more work from black cartoonists, then and now. There are certainly many, many more.


1. Pioneering Cartoonists of Color: Tim Jackson's clearinghouse/resource for information on black cartoonists through the 1960s, many of whom worked in the Black Press for publications like the Chicago Defender. (above art: Jackie Ormes)



2. The Bungleton Green Archive at Barnacle Press: Bungleton Green was the longest-running black comic strip, with a number of notable creators given the creative reins at various points in its run. You can read a history of the strip here; an article accompanying the archive singles out the Jay Jackson run.



3. Oliver Harrington's Soul Shots: Beyond this run of vicious cartoons from 1969-1972, there's no obvious single source to see more from the great Oliver Harrington -- mostly what you get are a cartoon or two on on pages like this and this. The late cartoonist's wikipedia page seems fairly accurate in its take on his very interesting life, including the greatest "cartoonist on a gig that went awry" story ever: Harrington's taking a job at an East Berlin magazine and waking up at the end of it on the other side of the Berlin Wall.



4. E Simms Campbell at American Art Archives: Campbell could do it all: strip cartoons, panel cartoons, and paintings in the cartoon-art tradition that seethed with life and vitality. He was an enormous figure in commercial art as well as comics/cartooning. Tim Jackson's site has a fine biography.



5. Ebony Article on Black Cartoonists, 1993 This article provides a rough survey of newspaper strips created by black cartoonists that were running in the early '90s and connects past cartooning efforts with those more modern examples. Also, if you look in the sidebar you can find links to other interesting articles, like a profile of Keith Knight from 2004 and Ollie Harrington's obituary from Jet. (art: Stephen Bentley)
posted 1:04 am PST | Permalink

MLK Day As A Chance To Recall The Civil Rights Movement: Various Cartoons

Included within a Library of Congress slide show marking the 50th anniversary of Brown Vs. Board of Education were a number of cartoons on the equal opportunities for schooling aspects of the movement. You can read the whole thing with contextual articles at the link above (you'll need to scroll down a bit to get to the cartoons), but here are direct links to the art:

* Bill Mauldin: What is done in our classrooms today will be reflected in the successes or failures of civilization tomorrow.
* Bill Mauldin: Inch by Inch
* Herb Block: I'm eight.
* Herb Block: If the government doesn't support separate-but-equal schools for our children, it's guilty of discrimination!
* Herb Block: And remember, nothing can be accomplished by taking to the streets.
* Oliver Harrington: Now I aint so sure I wanna get educated
* Vincent Smith: First Day of School (Not Comics)
* Herb Block: ... One nation... indivisible...

Related: The Cartoonists Group has "civil rights" as one of its subcategories, if you want to see modern comics on the subject matter from artists like Candorville's Darrin Bell... the Clifford H. Baldowski collection has a ton of civil rights-related cartoons, easily searchible from the gateway page... here is a study guide in PDF Form for a look at Paul Conrad's perspective on issues of the Civil Rights era.
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

January 13, 2007

CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With David Lloyd



Five Link A Go Go

* go, watch: Charles Schulz on Charlie Rose

* another sometimes comics-related blog: Afronerd

* go, look: fumetto politico

* not comics: Parker and Stone on censorship

* go, read: ForeWord's comics issue


Go, Look: Latest Peter Bagge @ Reason



First Thought Of The Day
Sometimes, when I'm feeling really down, I pop up this web page and sing along with the final line.
posted 9:43 pm PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The top comics-related news stories from January 6 to January 12, 2007:

1. Danish imams will not be prosecuted for their Fall 2005 international agitation on the subject of Muhammed caricatures in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten that many believe played a major, if not the major, role in February 2006's riots.

2. Stephanie Fierman believed out at DC. Fierman was the first major hire by DC in revamping its sales and marketing department, moving away from slavish devotion to the direct market to more of a hybrid DM/bookstore affair.

3. Steve Krantz passed away at age 83: Krantz was one of the first, one of the most important, and certainly had the most varied projects of all the Hollywood producers who would take an interest in comics properties, changing the comics industry with their deals.

Winner Of The Week

Loser Of The Week
Fans of the New York Daily News comics pages.

Quote Of The Week
"Tell me about yourself -- your struggles, your dreams, your telephone number." -- classic Peter Arno line, appropriate to this week's Peter Arno Day.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
posted 12:01 am PST | Permalink

January 12, 2007

Happy 74th Birthday, Ron Goulart!

posted 11:58 pm PST | Permalink

Happy 42nd Birthday, Anina Bennett!

posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

posted 5:49 am PST | Permalink

Conversational Euro-Comics: Bart Beaty Reviews Priape, by Nicolas Presl


Priape (Atrabile, 2006), the first book by Nicolas Presl, is something of a strange one. A lengthy wordless graphic novel, I picked it up almost exclusively because of my faith in the publisher. The Swiss-based Atrabile introduced me to the work of Frederik Peeters, Alex Baladi, Cedric Manche, and Jason (who, to be fair, had already been published in Scandinavia before he was picked up by Atrabile, and later by Fantagraphics), so a new book from a new talent quickly caught my attention.

As its title suggests, the book tells the story of the minor Greek/Roman god, Priapus, protector of livestock endowed with an enormous penis. Indeed, Presl's Priapus, like that in the House of Vettii, has genitals the size of his leg. This deformity is a shame to his parents, who abandon the newborn baby. He is adopted by a family and raised as the subservient and put-upon son, a brother to a bullying and war-like sibling (Ares? The lack of dialog also means a lack of character names). When enough is enough, Priapus leaves for the city, where he is taken in by an adoring older man who, in one of the book's best set pieces, introduces Priapus to the scholarly set, and, later, to the orgies. Eventually, Priapus falls in love with an older man and, this being a Greek tragedy, I will give you one guess as to the identity of that man. Needless to say, it all ends in horrifying bloodshed, violence, and with the rending of garments and the blinding of our hero. The ancient Greeks rarely did things in half measures.


The most distinctive element of Priape is certainly Presl's choice of figure drawings. A former stone carver turned comics artists, he relies heavily -- indeed, almost exclusively, on profile compositions of his characters. Moreover, his figures' faces are drawn in an exaggerated style with bugged-out eyes, and generally elongated heads. In this way, his characterization seems like a cross between the aesthetics of 6th century BC and Pablo Picasso. His use of unusual panel framing also contributes a slightly disorienting feeling, as if not everything were entirely right with the world. And, of course, it's not.

If there is a drawback to this approach it is that the exaggerated figures can occasionally blend in with each other. A key transition at the orgy, for instance, took a moment to register because of a lack of strong differentiation among the characters. The lack of a consistent visual register is very much a deliberate theme in the book -- characters literally morph at various times into animals -- but it can also be a stumbling block and the very basic level of comprehension.


Ultimately, I liked Priape mostly for the fact that it exposed me to an interesting new artist. As a stand-alone book, it is only a moderate success. Priape is good at what it does, but what it tries to do is not entirely satisfying because of its reliance on a fairly predictable narrative and a lack of strong characterization. The weaknesses of the story are not entirely compensated by the strength of the art. In a way, it's one of the stranger comics coming-out stories that you're likely to read, but not necessarily the most memorable. Priapus was a minor god, and, perhaps fittingly, this is a somewhat minor work by an artist who is likely to go on to much stronger material down the road.
posted 3:36 am PST | Permalink

Comics Just Aren’t The Same Anymore

Right up there with the "local cartoonist profile" and the "comics aren't for kids anymore" article templates is my favorite, the "comics aren't the same as when I was a kid" rants, usually by someone older, who drops names like Ella Cinders and Elbert Wonmug and casts a stern, Statler and Waldorf-type eye over today's current crop.

This right here is pretty much a perfect example of the genre.
posted 3:24 am PST | Permalink

Happy 45th Birthday, Joe Quesada!


source: CBG; I tend to get Quesada's birthday wrong three or four times a year, though
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

As Usual, I Blame Rachael Ray

My inbox was filled this morning (okay, three messages) with folk providing links to this article, which indicates that one of the healthiest players in the newspaper market, The E.W. Scripps Company, may divest itself of its newspaper and newspaper-related businesses by perhaps 1) selling some of those businesses or, 2) separating that business and its bleak, downward, general-industry trends, from the rest of the Scripps businesses.

I'm no fiscal analyst, but it seems that what they're saying, generally, is that people are so high on Scripps holdings like the Food Network that allowing those businesses to operate as an offering without the crappy newspaper stuff dragging it down could help maximize those popular offerings' value. It would also help re-brand the company as a media offering because a greater percentage of its money and subsequent interest would come from the valuable assets.

The potential shame in this move would be two-fold: one, Scripps has quality newspaper holdings when compared to other newspaper holdings, so if they were actually sold one would imagine that likely being an overall minus. Two, the act of selling could itself add more instability to an unstable industry. Among Scripps' holdings that could feel the effect if the new policy is pursued -- although I'm not sure which way -- is big-time strip distributor United Media. The article points out potential roadblocks like inner company by-laws that may require newspaper ownership and the fact that such a deal hinges on the favored Scripps holdings continuing to rise in value.

No matter what happens, I think the general message remains that sizable shifts in the make-up of the newspaper business over the next few years, with a corresponding effect on the newspaper comic strip business, should surprise no one.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 40th Birthday, Takehiko Inoue!

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Tom Brevoort Interview

Wizard has a compelling interview up with longtime Marvel editor Tom Brevoort conducted by Brian Bendis. There's a bunch of stuff that should reward just about anyone intrigued on any level by American mainstream comic books, including but not limited to: an insider's view of the mid-'90s Marvelcution staff purge, some talk about how Brevoort tries to balance out the shockworthy aspects of company-directed story change with some sort of reward to the line once that change becomes the new status quo, how the editor worked with Ed Brubaker on Captain America and a lengthy, sure-to-be-talked-about anecdote on working with Steve Gerber.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 39th Birthday, John Jackson Miller!

posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Best Of 2006
CBR: 2006 In Review

Louis Small Exhibit Set
Lecture on McCay in DC, 1/16
Zimbabwean Profiles Cartoonist Show
NYT Profiles Comics-Focused TV Show
Jim Demonakos Talks About Emerald City Comic-Con

BB6: Martin Rowson
E&P: Three Men In A Tub
Newsarama: Michael Golden
Independent Weekly: Scott McCloud
Minnesota Public Radio: Gaiman/McKean
Readers of Scott Adams Blog: Scott Adams

Not Comics
Comic Book Nerds Pick Up

DHC to Publish Will Vinton Comic

Bill Sherman: Popeye Vol. 1
Jessica Severs: Pearl Pink Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various Superhero Comics
Heather Aimee O: 12 Days, Jokes and the Unconscious

January 11, 2007

Eddie Campbell Interviews Lat


I almost didn't post this despite the excellence of the participants because it's ludicrously short and looks to be artificially segmented; I'd suggest bookmarking for future installments.
posted 5:46 am PST | Permalink

Richard Horne, 1960-2007


The illustrator, writer, cartoonist and game designer Richard Horne, better known as "Harry Horse," was found dead on Wednesday in his Shetland, Scotland home. Also dead was his wife, Mandy, a sufferer from MS.

Early media reports noted that the pattern of the police inquiry suggests the possibility of a suicide pact.

As a cartoonist, Horne was best known for work in the Sunday Herald, which ran one of his comics as recently as January 7th. He was also currently doing a strip called Horsebox for The Scotsman. From 1987 to 1992 he was the political cartoonist for Scotland on Sunday. Other clients included The New Yorker, the Independent, Observer, and Vox. Horn served as a political cartoonist at the Guardian in the late 1990s before moving to his current position.

Horne wrote The Ogopogo in 1983 and had recently re-focused his attention on book writing and illustration. His most lauded book, The Last Polar Bears was made into a film for television in 2000. He created the videogame Drowned God in 1996, between formal political cartooning gigs. A devotee of Cajun music, Horne played the banjo and belonged to two bands, Swamptrash and Hexology. He was 46 years old.
posted 3:23 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Peter Kuper’s Next Book


Stop Forgetting to Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz, Peter Kuper, Crown, HC, 208 pages, July 2007, 9780307339508 (ISBN), $19.95.
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Civil War Delayed Again

I've sat here for a couple of days trying to figure out something to say about news that Marvel will be delaying the last issue of its Civil War event mini-series, ostensibly to insert a story coda that had been previously unplanned. There was a great amount of wailing and rending of garments when an issue was delayed during the summer-fall season, and it's easy to mistake that kind of noise for a measure of the story's importance. Quiet or not, I would say this latest is just as important a delay, maybe more so because you have a potential secondary detrimental effect on sales, separate from interruption, when a series' entire life extends over too great a length of time. And, as noted last time, delays in flagship event titles run across entire lines.

So why was this announcement greeted with relative quiet? It may be because of the same reason I couldn't find an angle: a big "it is what it is" element to moves like this one, decisions made that are transparent and accompanied by a "What are you going to do?" shrug of the shoulders. Few argue that delays can cause a dip in sales. Most people agree that a break in storytelling momentum represents an undefinable loss of opportunity even if there aren't clear rollbacks in circulation numbers. On the other hand, it's clear that Marvel can afford to stick the landing creatively or negotiate some bad planning by justifying any potential lost sales as sort of casualties of war given the overall success of the project.

Overall, this is what happens when you have a Direct Market deeply and firmly locked into buying habits and patterns and percentages that favor a few agents that know exactly how much they matter. A major player can act as a less than exemplary partner, over and over, and there's little in that can be done about it but enjoy the ride -- at least without seismic, industry-shattering shifts in basic buying behavior that no one can afford. The co-dependency between the big comics companies and the comic book shops, the shops and their patrons, those fans and their favorite companies; it's a three-way locked-pinky pact that gets renewed every Wednesday, missing books or not.
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

Happy 49th Birthday, Terry Beatty!


I hope the owner of this sketch won't mind, but I'm happy to swap this out; I just thought it was cool
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

Scott Kurtz: Cross-Platform Team-Up

Scott Kurtz of the online comic strip (with Image comics iteration) PvP has put up a short essay that looks to be drawing A-list comics blogger attention. Kurtz starts with Bill Watterson's 1989 address at Ohio State University named The Cheapening of Comics, particularly those sections that call for improving the comic strip even if it means leaving the syndicates and newspapers out of it. Kurtz opines that the Internet may represent that alternate avenue that only existed as a potentiality in Watterson's speech.

Ironically, what Kurtz's essay reminds me of the most is a similar brand of message board and Usenet hue and cry from six to ten years ago that called on Bill Watterson himself (Kurtz's is directed at recent bailed-on-his-dailies cartoonist Bill Amend, and to a lesser extent some other names with feet in the on-line and print worlds) to enter into print comic books in order to draw attention to the non-superhero portions of that field. The idea, I think, is that these comics (the imagined Watterson print comic; the projected Bill Amend on-line effort) are so popular they will draw people to a type of work they hadn't considered before, and be attractive enough to push revenue models from the vague and promising to the specific and universal.

All of this is worth thinking about, particularly the underlying assertion that independent actors might bring a greater variety of solutions and models to the table. That makes some sense -- just as an example, a syndicate's on-line plan is likely to include some role for the large variety of features that a syndicate carries, which may make them less likely to lock into a successful platform if it ends up the best on-line future of comics is fewer features more widely disseminated.

Where I think all of this falls down a bit is in underplaying how thoroughly success on the comics newspaper page is bound up in the delivery system, the platform itself, and how it allows certain work to reach a certain type of audience. Like a television star attempting a film career, or vice-versa, there's no guarantee that a comic's appeal will translate from one platform to another. Further, any that do may do so in such a specific way that it will mean little to nothing for other practitioners. And yet, it still feels that there's a way of doing strips out there to meet newspapers' changing on-line needs that no one's quite figured out, and if Kurtz can convince someone with a good idea to recruit appropriate talent from any camp in comics that offers them, he'll have done his medium of choice a service.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 44th Birthday, Sam Kieth!

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Child’s Play Tops $1M for 2006

The Child's Play Charity organized and run by the Penny Arcade team of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins to solicit donations from gamers for Christmas gifts to sick children topped $1,000,000 in donations this year. If I remember correctly, part of the impetus for the charity was to show the world that gamers aren't all cheap and self-absorbed. This seems to me an admirable thing with no downside.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 36th Birthday, Gil Roth!


Gil's been one of this site's photographers, for which I'm very grateful
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Sing a Song of TightLip Entertainment

Graeme MacMillan does all of blogger-kind a great service by digging into and then sorting out for presentation's sake the story of the latest small publisher widely accused of not being able to perform the basic duties of a publisher.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Must Speak Fluid Zenn-Laese…


Chris Arrant writes in to remind us it's a strange world out there.
posted 2:01 am PST | Permalink

In Your Face, Butcher of Cambodia!

Stan the Man rules; Kissinger drools.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Best of 2006
Michael Viau: Comics in Quebec in 2006

Review of Masters Show
Cathy Strip Hits LoC Site
Report From Library Panel
Fischetti Contest Deadline 1/31
Go See Marshall Ramsey's Cartoons

London's Times Turns 10
Rom: A Reason to Love Comics
E&P Notes Hybrid FBoFW Criticism

Nominate Your Local Retailer
Manga Inquiry Blocked By Library
Where To Donate In Gren's Memory
Sean McKeever: DC's Latest Exclusive

CBR: Marc Guggenheim
Newsarama: Peter David
The Herald: Scott McCloud
Seattle Times: John Layman
Comics News International: Rick Veitch
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Dave McKean

New Comic Debuts on PopMatters
Character From Retail Starts Blog

Jog: Various
Tamika Taylor: Death Note
Carlo Santos: Various Manga
Jog: The Carbon Copy Building
Christopher Seaman: XXX Holic Vol. 8
Leroy Douresseaux: Castle Waiting #2
Leroy Douresseaux: The Comics Journal #279

January 10, 2007

Danish Imams Will Not Be Prosecuted

Danish imams that traveled to the Middle East in 2005 to seek support against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed published by Denmark's newspaper Jyllands-Posten, playing a key role in the political fever that would finally break across Europe in the form of riots, deaths, threats and economic boycotts in early 2006, will not face prosecution, wire reports say earlier today.

Danish Prosecutor Birgitte Vestberg told the press she found no evidence that the imams violadte the penal code or courted "hostilities against Denmark" in their travels.
posted 3:23 am PST | Permalink

Steve Krantz, 1923-2007

imageSteve Krantz, an early adapter of comics material to television and film, the writer-producer of several television movies adapting his wife Judith's books and later a mental health counselor, died last Thursday. The cause was given as complications from pneumonia.

Krantz got his start in the early days of television, most notably at The Tonight Show. He helped develop two of the most successful comics-turned-TV Shows, Dennis the Menace and Hazel, while head of creative development at Columbia. He acquired the rights to some of Marvel's characters after reading and getting excited by the comic books and their potential for crossover success. He produced first The Marvel Superheroes, a cheaply made but fondly-remembered limited-animation take on Marvel, drawing directly on work from the height of the company's powerful mid-'60s creative flush period, and then a follow-up show featuring Spider-Man that ran from 1967 to 1970 and was later profitably syndicated. Krantz was also involved in trying to get a live-action Spider-Man film made in the mid-1970s, and in 1976 was shopping a treatment to studios featuring a giant robot and Nazis. He had earlier envisioned a musical.

Krantz may be better known as the man who worked with Ralph Bakshi on Fritz the Cat and The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, because of those works' notoriety in cultural circles as X-rated cartoons, in business circles for the first one eventually making $100 million, and in somewhat smaller, more comics-centric circles for the deep unhappiness with which Fritz creator Robert Crumb viewed the results.

Steve Krantz was 83 years old, and is survived by his wife, two sons and two grandchildren.
posted 2:50 am PST | Permalink

CR Readers: NY Daily News, Tokyopop

* Readers of this site Randolph Hoppe, Gabe Carras, Gary Dunaier, and Gary Esposito all wrote in with partial or full confirmation of word from reader Murdoch Matthew that the New York Daily News has changed its comics section in a way that includes dropping a page of comics. Mr. Esposito wrote the most detailed account:
The gentleman named "Murdoch Matthew" is correct in that the NY Daily News has dropped Cathy, Agnes, Peanuts Classics, Pooch Cafe, and the puzzle strip Jumble X-Word. Girls and Sports is in the classified section along with F Minus and Tina's Groove was used in place of Doonesbury when they were on vacation last week. Tina's Groove looks to be dropped instead of Girls and Sports.

This started on Monday January 1st, but the gentleman did not notice that all the remaining strips were shrunk down even further to fit into 3 pages instead of 4. Their page layout used to go (horizontal strips) 7, 7, 6, and 6 with five one panel strips a Sudoku (which replaced
Herman over a year ago), a crossword, and an advice column along side on 3 of the 4 pages. Now there are three 7 horizontal strip pages with five one panel strips, Sodoku, a crossword and Boggle. Those 5 one panel strips are: Close to Home, The Flying McCoys, The Lockhorns, Marmaduke and Flight Deck.

NY Daily News dropped the daily FoxTrot over 2 years ago to make room for Pearls before Swine but kept the Sunday version of it all the time. They recently dropped the Sunday Marmaduke, Heathcliff, and Cathy strips to make room for a Sunday Sudoku and something called Biographic which is a one panel strip about musical acts over the past 40 years. It's nothing but photos traced of rock/pop stars with highlights of their career. Pretty boring in my opinion.

NY Daily News has been acting peculiar about their comics section over the past few years, acting very conservative and dropping strips based on storylines (Curtis, Doonesbury, Get Fuzzy and Boondocks), saying they were on vacation when they are not and I have to go to the web to see those strips for that week.

I am very dismayed by what the
NY Daily News has done with their comics section lately and have called to complain but keep getting the answering machine of the person in charge. I have left messages voicing my concern, but no reply is ever given.

Losing a page of New York newspaper cartoons is less of a big deal than in most industries, as New York is a pretty dead town for newspaper strips. But the Daily News is a big paper, and any paper making such a drastic move may be a sign of things to come. If newspapers can drop stock listings and TV Tabs with barely a public acknowledgment of this shift, it's not out of the question that they might make severe changes in their comics coverage in the months and years head.

* James Langdell wrote in with an important point on which I totally goofed -- the Tokyopop comic strip offerings have been mini-series sold under a larger Tokyopop Presents presentation vehicle: so Mail Order Ninja isn't the third Tokyopop-related strip out there being offered by Universal, but the third story to appear in the Tokyopop newspaper strip slot.
posted 2:24 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Paul Karasik Interview

posted 2:21 am PST | Permalink

Dirk Deppey on Cowboys and Aliens

Journalista's Dirk Deppey does some much-needed phone and web work based on charges floating around that Platinum Studios engaged in market manipulation regarding its release Cowboys and Aliens, paying select retailers marketing disbursements that could then be applied in a way to supplement sales of the item. That would in turn goose sales levels, with the result being an opportunity for publicity based on the resulting sales claims. It worked out exactly that way, in that Entertainment Weekly, using sales figures from one of the stores anecdotal evidence says was moving copies of the comic for a vastly discounted price (up to 100 percent), declared the comic the #1 sales winner for December.

What Deppey finds is a story that sort-of strings together without revealing causative links that would indicate a darker, crasser series of actions, although these circumstances fall in place in almost amazing, and therefore quite dubious, fashion.

As everyone notes, Rich Johnston has admirably been beating on this for months, although it's really Entertainment Weekly's tacit endorsement, even if unintentional, that closes the circle and makes this a greater concern. It's hard to believe that a magazine like EW would publish a list from a single source, big market or no, clearly marked as such or not, without checking basic methodology, particularly as I believe -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- they only publish such lists intermittently if at all.

In fact, I never thought this would happen, and kind of relegated what Platinum was doing to a realm of containable, correctable, common behind-mylar-doors behavior that might include things like publishers paying retailers back to order their material so they can make sales minimums, or companies publishing something at a massive loss in order to get a first-issue sales boost. These are manipulations of the system that everyone recognizes as such, with a clear cause and effect. I thought there were enough existing safeguards in how people counted comics sales and what legit press would run. Boy, was I wrong.

The questions that remain surround the nature of the payments made to the stores and why the marketing initiative was done this way instead of merely doing a straight-up giveaway, EW's sudden endorsement of a single store's sales chart in its pages right when it would benefit one publishing company the most, and whether or not statements made by Platinum officials to Dirk Deppey about motivation and policy will hold up to continued scrutiny.

It should be interesting to see the comics industry take a kind of ethical gut-check, too, when it comes to sales levels, whether paid for through Midtown Comics in a bizarre, complicated scheme or simply falsely asserted through an interview. What may be oddest about all this is that anyone felt it necessary to pull strings so that it would appear that a comic book sold X number of copies when simply making the claim on its behalf might have gone unchallenged.
posted 1:27 am PST | Permalink

Happy 85th Birthday, Bob Lubbers!


posted 1:26 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Best of 2006
Forbidden Planet: Best of 2006
Greg Burgas: Best of Rest of 2006

Go See Hector Cantu at Purdue
Show By Common People in Pakistan

PWCW Sales List
Update on Verotik
UK Manga Start-Up Profiled
Marvel To Present to Citigroup
PWCW: Jim Hanley's Universe Profiled
Shopping Site Profiles Comic Book Shopping
Publisher I Know Little About Joins With Film (?) Company I Know Nothing About

Tank Girl Set To Return
PWCW: DHC Publishes Shirow Backlist
PWCW: Details on D&Q's Lynda Barry Deal

Chris Kelly: Mallard Fillmore
David Welsh: Various Manga
Michael Sangiacomo: Various
Jason Mott: Pride of Baghdad
Tim O'Neil: The Mother's Mouth

January 9, 2007

NY Daily News Drops 1/4 of Strips?

From the oddly named "Murdoch Matthew" of Queens comes the following note that suggests the New York Daily News has used the new year to do something a little more drastic than trying to come up with a replace for Bill Amend's work:
You've had several stories about the comics pages shake-ups following the disappearance of the daily FoxTrot. I have missed a mention that the Daily News (New York City) seems to have dropped a whole page of daily comics. They've gone from four pages to three pages a day, losing five strips and a puzzle.

Comparing last week's sections with those in the 27 December paper, I think the missing strips are Cathy, Agnes, Peanuts Classics, Pooch Cafe, and Girls and Sports. The dropped puzzle strip is Jumble X-Word.

The Daily News runs two strips in their classified section, and uses them to fill in when one of the regular comics page strips takes a vacation. Currently the wild-card strips are Tina's Groove and F Minus.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I've long thought it likely that with the state of the newspaper market being what it is more severe changes like entire pages dropped were on the horizon, but I hadn't thought the horizon so close.
posted 3:17 am PST | Permalink

Christian Comics Line Launch Carries With It Critique of Marvel’s Policy Shift

The backhanded shot at Marvel is way more interesting than the comics will ever be, although nothing will come of either one.
posted 3:10 am PST | Permalink

D&Q: More On Lynda Barry Plans


Drawn and Quarterly has a press release out detailing plans for their relationship with cartoonist Lynda Barry. The best news is that it includes plans for a complete publication of Ernie Pook's Comeek, Barry famed alt-weekly strip and a feature that's only been sporadically collected.
posted 3:04 am PST | Permalink

Tomorrow Petitions For Return to Voice

Editor and Publisher has a small item up on a petition started by Tom Tomorrow to have This Modern World returned to the print edition of The Village Voice, where I believe it had run for quite some time. Tomorrow's strip has continued to run in the Voice's on-line iteration. I have no idea what the Voice is like cartoon-wise since they dumped Jules Feiffer, but I imagine it's about as high-profile and desirable a client as exists for alt-weekly features.
posted 2:29 am PST | Permalink

Si vous pouvez lire le francais…

image... there's a lengthy critical piece up about David B.'s L'Ascension Du Haut Mal in support of a comics-focused issue of a magazine called Labyrinthe. I don't know if the article posted is any good or not, but that's a stunning work to dig into and one that comics readers in North America never got behind as much as I thought they might stretching back to the 1990s when L'Ascension was considered a work with a broad, significant appeal and displayed visual mastery on a level with Jimmy Corrigan.
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink

Mail Order Ninja Strip To Launch

imageTokyopop will launch a strip version of Joshua Elder and Erich Owen's Mail Order Ninja through Universal starting this Sunday, the third such feature to be launched after Peach Fuzz and Van Von Hunter. The two things that are interesting about the announcement is 1) the strip will only run until the summer, which makes it I guess a comic strip mini-series of a kind I've only ever seen around Christmas, and 2) Tokyopop has always been up front about its syndication numbers, which they indicate in the linked-to article to be around 50 for the two features combined -- not exactly setting the world on fire, although there are a lot of big clients named, which are more attractive than small ones.
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: 30 Jours De BD has a bullet up in support of what is apparently a new-talent BD site, 30 Jours De BD, whereby cartoonists do site-specific cartoons one day out of the month. The bullet at the news site identifies this as an effort of the blogosphere, which makes me wonder if on-line comics is blog dominated over there or something similar.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 55th Birthday, Frank Margerin!


posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: John Marshall Profile

This local newspaper profile of Blondie artist John Marshall interests me for a couple of reasons, and not just because you can argue anyone doing Blondie is likely a top ten cartoonist in terms of overall audience. First, it shows a career path unique to comic strips, as Marshall goes from someone on the syndicate's radar with is own strip to inking work and eventually to name-on-the-strip status. Second, Marshall seems pretty off-the-cuff honest about the time and effort he puts in doing the strip -- which he does completely electronically, which is sort of fascinating, too -- and the strip's unbelievably sold position on the comics page.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
CCI Announces Hotel Reservations Date

The State of Jewish Comics

Comic Job Site To Go Live
Yaoi Press Changes Sales Platforms

Rentakini: Zunar
Bookslut: Gabrielle Bell
Monterey Herald: Eldon Dedini
Bangor Daily News: Ted Bastien

Not Comics
Holy Shit, I'm Old
Animator Iwao Takamoto Dead at 81

Comic Book To Help Kids With Cancer

Shawn Hoke: Math #14
Marc Singer: Mome Vol. 4
Don MacPherson: Ed's Terrestrials
Jeff Vandermeer: Anthology, The Long Chalkboard
Chris Mautner: Various Underground-Related Books

January 8, 2007

D&Q To Publish Lynda Barry

posted 9:09 am PST | Permalink

Umran Javed Convicted on Friday

Umran Javed, a 27-year-old British Muslim who participated in protests outside the Danish Embassy last February because of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed that appeared in a Denmark newspaper in 2005, was convicted of incitement to murder and race hatred on Friday. Javed was caught on videotape, and his defense was that chant to bomb Denmark and the United States was off-the-cuff sloganeering.

Javed is the second British Muslim convicted in relation to the Danish Cartoons protests, after Mizanur Rahman was convicted of incitement in November.

Both cases have feature a couple of potentially explosive political elements: the genuine outrage that several citizens felt about the extreme tenor of the protest as recorded by British media, and a suspicion articulated in what I would describe as more left-leaning circles when the protesters were arrested that this was less for the Danish protests and more the police targeting some troublesome, frequent agitators with the February protest footage giving them a great chance to get them off the street.
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink

Editor and Publisher: For Better Or For Worse To Stay On As Strip Hybrid


Lynn Johnston deciding not to end her mega-popular For Better of For Worse outright in favor of continuing in some sort of form has been rumored and talked about in various places for months, but mostly in terms of a Classic Peanuts-type replacement for the feature, something that came after a formal conclusion to the Patterson family saga, not in terms of the feature merely shifting directions.

But a shift in content, it seems, is what the cartoonist plans, first freezing her cast at the age they are now, and then using old material in the flow of the strip -- the example given in the E&P piece was of a character looking in a family album and thinking back at which point the classic material takes over. The very upbeat article notes that Johnston's workload would become lighter not just for not having to do as many new strips but in losing the impetus to do research that came with generating series of fresh storylines.

This is of course major news in that 1) Johnston's strip is major news in and of itself, and 2) Johnston ending the strip outright would have meant 2000 some slots between the dailies and the Sundays, which would have afforded some strips an enormous chance to pick up clients. Last summer I overheard one syndicate person soliciting a pitch from a cartoonist along the lines of something that might replace Johnston's feature when that time came.

I'm sort of conflicted about the news as a fan and industry watcher. On the one hand, Johnston seems genuinely pleased by the direction, which is always nice, and you want to be supportive of that. Additionally, the 28-year run of FBoFW pretty much justifies her doing any darn thing she wants, even if it were panel after panel of Anthony kissing Elizabeth for six months after she brought everything else to a halt. On the other hand, I can't imagine the hybrid form unless very cleverly done will please fans in the same way -- there's a reason why television soap operas are judicious with using old footage -- and history has made me not a fan of strips, even great ones, sticking around on the comics page invested with anything less than the cartoonist's full commitment.

a sleepless night for Michael in 1980
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

Irfan Murder Case May Hit High Court

The notorious 1999 kidnapping and subsequent murder of Outlook and Pioneer political cartoonist Irfan, the investigation and trial of which descended into such dissonance and dueling accusations of malfeasance that the case is still being tried, is due to be heard for potential entry into High Court calendar soon. This article lists several instances in the case's unfortunate handling and may bring you up to speed.

A photo of the cartoonist with his wife and summary of Irfan's career can be found here. It might break your heart a little.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

It’s Peter Arno Day!


Acceptable celebrations of Peter Arno Day, named after the great panel cartoonist from The New Yorker, Circus and several of the best cartoon collection hardbacks ever published, born 103 years ago today in New York City, are as follows:

* wear a walrus-style mustache, a bunny suit, or ideally both

* address someone, anyone, as Farnsworth

* do your own thing

* draw fantastic-looking elephants

* be yelled at by an attractive member of the opposite sex

* if you can get over, get over

* always, always think on your feet

Barring any of that, you could do worse than spend a few moments on the Barnacle Press site's tribute to the iconic cartoonist, to which many of these links lead.
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

ComicsPRO Makes Recommendations On The Issue of Diamond Shortages

Spurred in part by recent weather-related troubles in getting the latest issue of Marvel's mega-hit Civil War onto West Coast shelves in as timely a fashion as the book was distributed to other regions of the country, the retailer advocacy group ComicsPRO has issued recommendations as to how similar situations should be dealt with in the future. If you're interested in the issue you should read the whole thing, but if you're only peripherally intrigued by Direct Market retailer issue, they are, basically:

* if less than 60 percent of a comic can be allocated, hold the comic.

* if one regional warehouse is frozen out, hold the comic.

* make public announcements about any and all allocation discrepancies in order to assuage a confused consumer base.

Two things pop to mind beyond the content of the suggestions, which sound fair to me. First, there's an element in ComicsPRO doing this which is less about pushing Diamond in this direction and more about advocating in public so that other retailers may see them doing so and hopefully agree with their stance and join. That's just the way it is with all organizations adding members. Second, it's hard not to see the issue itself as some weird hangover from the day of multiple distributors and more competition urban area to urban area, when getting books to consumers' hands by firing them through the delivery network and warehouses as quickly as possible made a certain, weird sense.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 51st Birthday, Ken Steacy!


source: CBG
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Pierce Askegren, 1955-2006

Pierce Askegren, a prolific writer of prose stories featuring licensed characters from Marvel Comics and other companies, died in November in his Washington D.C. home after a heart attack. He was 51 years old.

This site missed word of his passing at that time.

Askegren's Marvel-related credits include short stories in The Ultimate Silver Surfer, The Ultimate Super-Villains, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, The Ultimate Hulk and The Chick Is In The Mail; his novel credits, ghostwriting credits and co-author credits include Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk: Rampage; Spider-Man and Iron Man: Sabotage Spider-Man and Fantastic Four: Wreckage, Fantastic Four: Countdown to Chaos and The Avengers and the Thunderbolts. He also pursued science fiction writing, most notably with the Inconstant Moon series.

Word of his passing was released slowly in November while the family sought a cause of death. He is remembered here in a short essay by Keith R.A. Decandido.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Dublin City Comicon 2006

Wizard Previews The Fletcher Hanks Book

Wizard: Jeff Parker
Bill Baker: Alan Moore

Sheena McNeil: Disgaea
Lisa Fary: The Escapists #6
Katherine Keller: Iron Fist #2
Don MacPherson: Dynamo 5 #1
Sheena McNeil: Kaze Hikaru Vol. 3
Sheena McNeil: Trinity Blood Vol. 1
Sheena McNeil: A Midnight Opera #3
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various Superhero Comics

January 7, 2007

CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Aleksandar Zograf



Five Link A Go Go

* jazz landmark and frequent convention headquarters Hotel Pennsylvania to be developed away

* yet another comics-related web site I don't understand

* analysis: DC event bump to monthlies not long-term

* comics' version of less filling vs. tastes great

* one time Superman was treated like a Disney character


Go, Look: Claire Wendling



First Thought Of The Day
White Castle burgers don't really count as a regional food.
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink

January 6, 2007

If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

CR Week In Review


The top comics-related news stories from December 30, 2006 to January 5, 2007:

1. Umran Javed found guilty in a London court for soliciting murder and stirring up racial hatred during a February protest of caricatures of Muhammed published in a Denmark newspaper. He will be sentenced in April.

2. The strips Lio and Pearls Before Swine are the big gainers in a massively diverse scramble for FoxTrot daily slots left open by Bill Amend's decision to go Sundays-only.

3. ACBD report on the year in sales in the French comics market sparks debate about the potential fragility of that market under the strain caused by massive publishing.

Winners Of The Week
Lio and Pearls Before Swine: it's great to gain papers, and even better when you're not bumping someone's favorite.

Losers Of The Week
All those young cartoonists that continue to be exploited, or allow themselves to be exploited, by half-assed publishing outfits.

Quote Of The Week
"Bomb, bomb Denmark, bomb, bomb USA." -- caught on tape.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
posted 1:34 am PST | Permalink

January 5, 2007

Lost Girls Continues Lengthy Roll-Out

imageThe comics business news and analysis site has a short article up on the continuing roll-out of Lost Girls from Top Shelf, with news that approximately a half-year in 35,000 copies have been sold. Since I'm not even hearing from anyone that this slow, careful printing schedule has cost them any sales through initial demand that has since dissipated -- it could have, but I'm not hearing it, and you usually hear it when non-availability becomes a huge factor -- it's hard to figure out how this could have gone any better for Top Shelf thus far.
posted 2:58 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Chuck Dixon Interview

Here's one of those interesting only-in-comics cultural moments getting a new moment in the sun: the comics news site Newsarama interviews writer Chuck Dixon about his forthcoming mini-series featuring the gay character the Midnighter, a choice that dismayed some fans given Dixon's political outlook and past, public expressions of same.

What's interesting to me isn't the numerous statements that Dixon makes in unpacking his positions that had me rolling my eyes and making the ee-yikes! face about twenty times sitting here at my desk reading it, or whether or not Dixon can write a credible comic book with a character that doesn't share his views. I mean, of course he can. That's what writers do. Rather, what fascinates here is the bizarre-to-me notion of "stewardship" for these licensed properties -- it's both the basis on which Dixon was criticized and a concept that Dixon seems to wholeheartedly support on at least some level.
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink

From The “Friends Like These…” Dept.

posted 2:33 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Gren Rugby Cartoon

Yesterday's initial obituaries on the passing of cartoonist Grenfell "Gren" Jones mentioned his regional cartoons, a decades-long exploration of local Welsh culture. But he was also a popular sports cartoonist, with a passion for rugby and this tribute to that part of his career includes a full-page cartoon of the kind you just don't see anywhere in supposedly sports-mad North America, at least not since the death of the car cartoon.
posted 2:13 am PST | Permalink

Diesel Sweeties Pre-Launched 01/01



When looking at Alan Gardner's dissection of the comic strip landscape after newspapers picked replacements for Bill Amend's suspended FoxTrot dailies, which likely meant a high three-figure number in terms of slots opening up on the page, I wondered out loud why Universal hadn't moved up Diesel Sweeties' launch date a week to better serve as a more natural replacement. It looks like they did -- only in an unofficial way, with a handful of newspapers starting R. Stevens' feature on January 1 rather than with January 8's formal launch. I've since learned that this is a special batch of strips created just for those few newspapers, which if Diesel Sweeties hits should make the first collection very desirable for fans who did not get them in their local paper.

The above photos are from a newspaper that added the strip straight-away and from the feature's try-out in the Seattle Times. The Times is probably less aggressive than its competitor the Post-Intelligencer in adding new strips, so that would be a quality pick-up for DS.

Looking at Dirk, I find out Comixpedia beat me to these photos.
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read:’s Chris Butcher on The Rules of Finding a Publisher

There's a funny piece of commentary here from prominent retail figure and opinion-thrower Chris Butcher about an unfunny subject: the low-end of comics publishing and the number of goofy, under-capitalized, self-declared publishers and media mogul wannabes that swim around like sharks devouring the chum that is the hopeful starting-out cartoonist. This is more of a problem in comics than it is in other media because the threshold for professional participation in comics is so low, and therefore someone with a spiel and a tiny bit of cash is able to make promises that may sound more convincing than folks working the lower end of other media.

As I recall, 2005 was the year of vastly under-capitalized, mismanaged start-ups making big promises they couldn't deliver, but it still goes on and likely always will. With the Internet and self-publishing as legitimate alternatives, publishers should be expected to provide you with a full array of services and have a track record for doing so with other people. Don't lose your dream to fuel someone else's: listen to Mr. Butcher.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 66th Birthday, Hayao Miyazaki!


I always screw up on the first pass in early January...
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Strupp on Newspaper Trends

Joe Strupp's top ten stories for the newspaper industry in 2006 is worth a read in the same manner that book publishing trends articles are now semi-required reading -- a multi-million dollar portion of the comics industry makes its home in newspapers, and will feel the impact of most changes that happen there.

You'll find a few stories that pretty easily apply, including the reminder that many papers have lost stock listings and television schedules recently in the face of on-line and on-screen competition. I hadn't thought about it before until seeing it in Strupp's column with a number on it, but if you had told me ten years ago that one day soon papers would dump the stocks and TV pages I'd have much the same reaction as if you told me that newspaper might dump comics ten years from now. The moral? You never know, particularly when an industry is in massive flux.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Best of 2006
J. Caleb Mazzocco: Best of 2006
Chris Mautner: Overview of 2006
Chris Mautner: Best of 2006 Part One
Chris Mautner: Best of 2006 Part Two

Preview of Danny Simmons Gallery Show

Roy Thomas on the Monster Society of Evil

Edmonton Sun on Industry Blossoming

Sequential Tart: Barb Lien-Cooper
Willamette Weekly: John Callahan
Sequential Tart: Adrien Van Viersen
Sequential Tart: Mike & Louise Carey
Australian Jewish News: Andrew Weldon

Jog: All-Star Superman #6
Matt Blind: Last Hope Vol. 1
Don MacPherson: Scalped #1
Matt Blind: Kat & Mouse Vol. 1
Josephine Fortune: The Drifting Classroom Vol. 1

January 4, 2007

Ivan Brunetti Covers The New Yorker


thanks, Brad; I stole this scan from Fantagraphics
posted 6:02 am PST | Permalink

Jury Out In Umran Javed Trial

BBC News reports this morning that the jury is out in the Umran Javed trial, the second such trial against protesters last February of the Danish Cartoons, who are being pursued for a combination of incitement to murder and using various forms of charged speech. The first trial against a protester ended in a guilty verdict.

As the article notes, Javed has expressed regret over the content of his speech on that day, but says they were more political sloganeering than serious, considered threats and/or legitimate calls to action.

To show the lingering power of the cartoons, here's a report on a college campus presentation that is described in almost jittery terms.
posted 3:04 am PST | Permalink

Grenfell Jones, 1934-2007


The Welsh cartoonist Grenfell Jones, the longtime newspaper cartoonist of the South Wales Echo died in a hospital in Cardiff early this morning. Better known by his pen name of "Gren," during a career that spanned four decades Jones was one of those cartoonists that became linked to depictions of a way of life, in his case cartoons about a fictional village in Wales called Aberflyarff, featuring sheep characters Nigel and Neville. Another readership knew Gren for his rugby cartoons, which had become collected into popular calendars. He retired from the Echo in 1999, on his 65th birthday (one source has the retirement coming in 1991). More than two dozen books have featured his cartoons.

Jones was voted best provincial cartoonist four times for his work at the Echo, and received the MBE civil distinction (a "member" designation in the Order of the British Empire) for his service to the newspaper industry.
posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink

GLAAD Cites Sean Delonas Cartoons


And not in a good way, either. Releasing a year-end summary of defamatory statements and actions in media, GLAAD has included the appearance of two cartoons from Sean Delonas in the New York Post on a list of unacceptable media moments that includes Richard Dobson expounding on some dumbass theory in Time and a barrage of low-level celebrity goofballs saying stupid things on noxious cable television news shows.

The organization's original write-up on the matter and links to the cartoons themselves can be found here. Sidenote: if my memory serves, Delonas' cartoons were brought to the public's attention through media blogging.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 58th Birthday, Takumi Nagayasu!

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Kurt Hassler Interview

I may be the last person doing comics news survey work to mention Brigid Alverson's interview with former Border's graphic novels buyer and now Hachette comics imprint Yen Press co-founder Kurt Hassler, mostly because I couldn't find an angle. It's a nice introduction to someone that comes across as a nice guy, one that enjoys comics beyond his public identity as a manga person.

Paranoid people out there might look at the list of kinds of comics the former most powerful man in North American manga says he reads and notice that art comics seems to be absent from that list, but I can't imagine too many people thought that Hassler and Rich Johnson were going to be publishing Saul Steinberg's diary comics or whatever in the first place.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 48th Birthday, Yoshitomo Nara!


officially not comics
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Tom Toles Profile

Harry Jaffe at profiles one of the great working editorial cartoonists, Tom Toles of the Washington Post. The meat of the article is about the cartoonist's view on President Bush, but there are some interesting details for comics fans: how much Toles produces in a day, how his views compare to prose editorials on the same page, which recent cartoon Toles did he doesn't like and why, and that he's been able to cover local issues.

That last fact is good news in that one of the admirable things about Toles' run in Buffalo was how well and with how much passion Toles engaged matters of special concern to upstate New York residents. There's some debate among cartoonists I know whether or not local issue cartooning is a smart strategy or not: on the one hand, it's something that distinguishes that cartoonist's work from just running syndicated work, and on the other hand local issues tend to enrage people and some thing it can make a cartoonist seem parochial and not as immersed in the national debate as they should be. At any rate, it's nice to see Toles do local material in a paper that in its great editorial cartooning past didn't do a whole lot of it.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

I’ll Not Miss Christmas Too Much


click through the image for a discussion of this and similar work that just seemed totally deranged to me...

thanks, Gus!
posted 2:01 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
Rob Elder Visits Schulz Museum
Cartoon Smoking Exhibit at Walter Reed

Herge at 100
Prominent Comics Retailer Mourned
I Guess One On East Timor Was Out
Comics Folk On 2006/2007, Part One
Comics Folk On 2006/2007, Part Two
Will Eisner: A Reason To Love Comics
Luckovich Reflects on Why? Plus 1000
Comics Folk On 2006/2007, Part Three
Sustained Profile of Seven Soldiers Effort

Graeme MacKay Wins Lurie Award

Wizard: Jason Aaron
Newsarama: Mike Carey
Wizard: Nicholas Gurewitch
Newsarama: Robert Kirkman
Newsarama: Doug TenNapel
Newsarama: Richard Starkings
Local Shop Profile: Tony's Kingdom Scott McCloud

Not Comics
Worst Story Ever
AAEC Seeks To Match Programs Grant

SLG Launches New Site
Indy Comics Go To War
Young Bottoms In Love Goes To Print
King/David Dark Tower To Soleil
AD: New Orleans After The Deluge Set For Debut

Jog: Ninja
Jog: Golgo Vol. 6
Eric Burns: Narbonic, RIP
Jonathan Baylis: 52 #1-26
Ed Park: Popeye Volume One
Don MacPherson: Civil War #6
Henry Chamberlain: Fun Home
Dan Kois: Best Iraq War Comics
Sammy Harkham: Wildlife Refuse
Jonathan Baylis: Infinite Crisis #7
Jog: The New Adventures of Jesus: The Second Coming

January 3, 2007

Conversational Euro-Comics: Bart Beaty on the ACBD Status Report for 2006


As we shake off our hangovers, and turn our attention to a new year in the comics industry, there is still time to take stock of lessons learned in 2006. For the French comics industry, the January 1 publication of the ACBD's status report provides all the necessary data for looking back on a year whose incredible highs made a number of cartoonists anxious about a possibly looming crash.

The ACBD's 21-page report, The Year of Maturation, was, as always, written by Gilles Ratier (and is available as a PDF here). This is an amazingly exhaustive document, an essential report for comprehending the economics of the industry, and if you read French I can't recommend it highly enough. All of the data in this article was lifted from Ratier, who deserves all kinds of praise for what must be exhausting work.

For those of you who don't read French, a quick gloss on the highlights:

In 2006 there were 4130 comic books released in France (a staggering 80 per week). Of these, 3195 were new works published for the first time (a figure that is up almost 15% from last year). To give some perspective, in 1995 there were 485 comic books published in the same market. That represents a 900% growth in the number of titles published in France in a decade. Is there any wonder that some people are worrying about stability issues?

Certainly, much of this expansion is due to the rise of manga, but far from all. There were 1799 translated comics released in France last year, of which 1418 were Asian (manga, manwha, manhua...). Two hundred thirty-nine were American (predominantly superheroes, but you can find everything from Fun Home to Matt Madden's 99 Ways already translated into French), with Spanish, Italian, German and other languages bringing up the rear. What is clear is that the French market is tremendously open at the moment, with product flowing in from all over the world. Of the 3195 new books, 1418 were manga, 1045 were published by the largest French comics publishers (albums, in other words), 493 were from the independent press, and 239 were translations of American comics.

My own eyes tell me that all of this leads to a certain chaos in the comics shops. With 80 new books released each week it is almost impossible to keep up with everything that comes out. I traveled to France three times in 2006, and lived in the country for almost two months. Still, I only learned today that Marc-Antoine Mathieu had a new book published from Futuropolis (another, like the recently translated De Crecy book, Glacial Period, that was done in conjunction with The Louvre). And I'm someone who makes a genuine effort to stay abreast of what's coming out! My experience in Paris in October was simply that even at the best shops it is difficult for the casual buyer to find works that don't have tremendous marketing muscle behind them.

Of course, this is not good news for the smallest presses, of which there are a rapidly growing number. While 225 publishers released comics in France last year, a mere 17 of them account for more than 70% of the total market. That left the remaining portion to more than 200 companies. One of the more contentious comments made by Ratier, at least as far as message board discussion goes, is the suggestion that publishers need to release eight books per month to be "visible" in the bookstores. This number excludes even publishers so well established as Humanoides Associes (66 books this year -- 5.5 per month). I don't know what criterion Ratier is using for visibility, but I also don't necessarily want to fault his logic. The number might be a bit high, but I can't shake my own sense that the vast majority of comics are simply lost on the sea of product. Truly, it is an era where the best-seller logics have run amok.

imageIndeed, Ratier's numbers seem to back this up. Eighty-five series this year had sales that topped 50,000 copies, a number that is up from 77 in 2005 and 69 in 2004. The leader this year was, unsurprisingly, Titeuf (Zep) whose 11th volume sold a staggering 1.8 million copies in France. Million. Other mega-sellers were Lucky Luke (Achde and Gerra) at 650,000, Lanfeust des etoiles (Tarquin and Arleston) at 300,000, Cedric (Laudec and Cauvin) at 288,900, Enki Bilal's final book in the Sommeil du monstre series at 280,000 and the 29th volume in the Thorgal series (Rosinski and Van Hamme) at 280,000. All of these books are, of course, the new editions of long-running popular series that have been consistent best-sellers for years (and generation in a few cases).

imageThe best-selling new series is Kaamelott (Dupre and Astier) from Casterman (an adaptation of the M6 TV series about King Arthur), which sold 190,000 copies and Magasin General (Roisel and Tripp) (which is set in a rural Quebecois general store in the 1940s!) at 120,000. Manga also continued to sell well, though not at the levels of the biggest French successes. The best-selling manga in France continues to be Naruto, whose six volumes this year averaged 125,000 copies each, and which was the only manga to cross the 100,000 threshold. The next biggest titles include Samurai Deeper Kyo, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fruits Basket, Gunnm Last Order, and Shaman King, all of which sell between 70,000 and 80,000 copies. About 20 manga titles cross the 20,000 copy barrier in France, with the bulk of the remaining work trailing. While, with the exception of Bilal, these are the kinds of books that rarely get much attention on this side of the Atlantic (and certainly not in my high-browed column!), a few cartoonists you might recognize did well for themselves last year. Jacques Tardi, who is inexplicably unmarketable in North America, sold 130,000 copies of Le Secret de l'etrangleur; Manu Larcenet sold 100,000 copies of the third book in the Ordinary Combat series, as did Joann Sfar with the fifth Rabbi's Cat book. Emmanuel Guibert sold 70,000 copies of the magnificent (and recently reviewed) Le Photographe 3 (I renew my call to have someone translate this book! 70,000 copies!). And Sfar, again, sold 45,000 copies of La Vallee des merveilles, which I reviewed and found slightly wanting.

imageWhat is notable about these successes, however, is how well they were tied into the major marketing system. This summer, Sfar's Vallee was prominently featured in FNACs and Virgin Megastores wherever I went in France. Le Photographe received a similar promotional push. These books were easy to find at the major retailers, including Leclerc megastores (think Wal-Mart, but French). The same can not be said fro about 3,000 of the other new releases from this year. Moreover, the big retailers are becoming increasingly selective about providing shelf space only for the likeliest big sellers, something that will hurt the smallest publishers in coming months and years.

Ratier points out that the entire logic of the industry is changing towards new releases. Whereas the French industry has always relied heavily on an ongoing back catalogue that generated revenue (in stark contrast to the traditions of the US industry, who for so long allowed their older titles to languish unavailable to readers except as highly collectible back issues), that is beginning to change, with new releases accounting for a greater percentage of total sales. This shift could really harm the industry in the long term, particularly smaller publishers whose books are not immediate best-sellers, but which build steam (and readership) over years. Now, publishers are scrambling to make old books seem new again with new covers, new editions, collected versions, deluxe editions, and so on. That said, one of the highlights of the year was the fact that 133 books that had been out-of-print for more than 20 years were brought back into print.

In the end, Ratier argues that 2006 was the year that French comics reached maturity. That might be true. But it also could be the calm before the coming collapse. Everything I hear in the weeks building up to Angouleme 2007 is that a crisis is coming and that it may be at the festival that we start to see the cracks. I guess we'll see. What is clear to me is that the French market is bigger (not necessarily better) than ever, and that there are a lot of winners. The question becomes: What becomes of the losers?


Author's Note:

While this article talks about sales, as Xavier Guilbert has pointed out in a letter to this site, the ACBD report is actually concerned with initial print runs rather than sales to readers. While many of these titles will sell out this initial print run (or have already), readers should be cautioned that these numbers do not necessarily reflect final sales. We will try to update with actual sales numbers later in January.
posted 4:50 am PST | Permalink

Update on FoxTrot Replacement Rush


Editor and Publisher weighs in. I've had three different newspaper folk point out a possible third winner: Tony Carillo's former collegiate mega-hit now in syndicated form F-Minus (a daily from which is above), which they all say was pushed hard as a replacement. One such paper is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; that publication's Chris Mautner interviews the cartoonist.

Remember, while it's not likely we'll know how Amend's four-figure client count on FoxTrot broke down into dailies clients and Sundays clients, it's certain that the dailies were the only thing thing in play. After all, Amend continues doing his Sundays. There's a chance a few papers out there might have given the Sunday slot to a feature where the weekend exposure can help build an audience for the dailies, but I haven't heard about any yet. Besides, FoxTrot is really popular, and popular features are so few and far between that I can't see too many folks giving up on the Sundays right away, even with space at a premium (it could be something that goes against keeping it in future years, though). There's also a chance that some papers may make a change in both dailies and Sundays without knowing Amend is continuing the Sundays; I've heard a couple of stories like this, but nothing I've been able to confirm.
posted 4:09 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Micawber Books Sale

I agree with almost none of the specifics that Logan Fox offers up in this article about the sales/closure of his Micawber Books, even while admitting he looks more like someone named "Logan Fox" than anyone I know looks like their name, but I think the viewpoint he unpacks might be useful to some people in building the critical distance necessary for looking at the bookstore culture in which comics is playing an increasingly important part.
posted 3:47 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Russell Patterson Praised


Spurred by Fantagraphics' publication of The Art of Russell Patterson: Top Hats and Flappers.
posted 3:15 am PST | Permalink

Editor and Publisher: Jim Borgman On His Decision To Change Syndicates

God bless Jim Borgman and his straight-ahead answer as to why he's moved his editorial cartoon work from longtime distributor King Features Syndicate to Universal, a move announced December 21:
"Basically, King did a great job for me for the past 25 years or so," he said. "I have no quarrels with them. But eventually a client list levels out."

The E&P piece provides figures and thus a likely context for the decision, which is probably the biggest editorial cartoonist-related move since Nick Anderson headed to Texas.
posted 1:31 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Vanity Fair on Archie


thanks, Sean Cormican
posted 1:04 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
CBR Looks Towards '07
Stan Lee: A Reason To Love Comics
Opinion Piece: The Year That The Floppies Died?

Survey of Manhwa In America
Lee Nordling Starts Comics Packager

PWCW: Nick Bertozzi
PWCW: NYCC's Greg Topalian
Arizona Republic: Tony Carillo
Roanoke Times: Christian Keesee
East Valley Tribune: Jennifer Campbell
Kentucky Herald-Leader: Stephan Pastis
Ubiquitous Feature of the Month: French Cartoonist Draws India

Not Comics
Another Artist Touts Comic Book Influences

PWCW Profiles Beasts!
Profile of IDW's Star Trek Effort
Did Marvel Lie About Stephen King?

Helen Ubinas: Cancer Vixen
Leroy Douresseaux: 12 Days
Al Kratina: Civil War: Choosing Sides #1
Dan Murphy: An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories
Matt Dukes Jordan: In the Studio, An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories

January 2, 2007

Second UK Danish Cartoons Controversy Protest Trial Underway at the Old Bailey

The trial of Umran Javed the second protester to be tried by British authorities for statements made during a demonstration aimed against the publication of Muhammed caricatures in a Denmark newspaper, has begun with a series of pretty juicy back-and-forths, including video. Mr. Javed is being tried for soliciting murder and exhorting racial hatred during an event on February 3, 2006.

Mizanur Rahman was found guilty November 10 of "using threatening, abusive or insulting words, or behavior with intent to stir racial hatred."

It's worth mentioning without in any way advocating the position that some critics believe that the precision with which the protesters were arrested and now tried has less to do with the specific cartoons protest and more to do with British authorities being able to strike a blow at a group of activists with a history of inciting violent protests. Even if that's total hooey, and I'm in no position to pass judgment on any of this, it stands a chance of coloring how these decisions will be received.
posted 2:37 am PST | Permalink

FoxTrot Sudden Daily Strip Suspension Winners: Lio and Pearls Before Swine?


Daily Cartoonist provides an invaluable service by collecting news of what strips are replacing the at least 500 or so slots that opened up when Bill Amend decided late in 2006 to suspend service in the New Year to the dailies portion of his four-figure client base. I urge anyone out there that has relevant information to pass it along via that DC's comments section. Based on his admittedly smallish sample, DC's Alan Gardner is picking Lio and Pearls Before Swine as likely big winners. Several readers of this site thought Lio was posed to do well.

A few other things leap to mind reading Gardner's post: First, I thought Stephan Pastis' Pearls had settled into what is a strong client-count position but not one likely to add papers in leaps and bounds; for it to gain several papers at once would be impressive. Second, I'm amazed by the variety of strips that papers are adding, which is probably just as indicative of this moment in comic strip history as those that stand out from the pack. Third, I thought that Universal would move the official launch of Diesel Sweeties up to January 1 from January 8 to better position itself as a potential replacement. Although it's possible they're doing this for a few papers and not announcing it (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), my guess is that Amend's announcement fell at an odd time for the sales cycle or this would have been done.

Click through the image at the top of this post for Bill Amend's last FoxTrot daily.
posted 2:22 am PST | Permalink

Jog: Fate of the Artist 2006’s #1


The best day-in, day-out comics critic working on-line, Jog has named Eddie Campbell's The Fate of the Artist his top comics effort for 2006. Our ongoing effort to compile best-of lists can be found here.

Among the bigger names I have yet to add is Andrew Arnold of Time, who names La Perdida by Jessica Abel as his top graphic novel of the year.
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: R. Kikuo Johnson Interview

posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Brian Wood Profile

Brian Wood's DC project DMZ and, through it, Brian Wood's work in general, was the subject of an almost relentlessly upbeat profile by the New York Times over the weekend. This is only weird when you're reading it given the bummer of a concept at the the heart of Wood's project about the Big Apple as a place of domestic military occupation. Or if you think about the Times having done so many profiles of comics creators recently that a scant two years after such a piece was an industry shaking event that even a profile of someone with as idiosyncratic a career as Wood now almost seems routine.
posted 2:13 am PST | Permalink

Tiberio Colantuoni, 1935-2007


Tiberio Colantuoni, the creator of the popular feature Bongo and a prolific illustrator responsible for a variety of series for various European publishing houses, died on January 1. Colantuoni was trained as a ceramics painter and worked in that field as a teacher before moving into comics in the mid-1950s, initially attending a separate school in Milan to help enable that transition and learning some of the technical basics from Benito Jacovitti. Turning down a position working in ceramics art, in 1954 Colantuoni enjoyed the professional breakthrough that led to his long career.

Colantuoni initially drew series for the publishing houses Alpe and Bianconi, where in 1955 he created Bongo, a feature he would later return to and refine. After working for a brief period in the early 1960s in a daily newspaper, Colantuoni worked on Fix and Foxi with Rolf Kauka for Kauka Verlag. That lasted until 1970, when the artist said his contacts at the publishers changed and he no longer received assignments. Since 1974, Colantuoni drew several Disney projects for Italian publications.

There is a sweet testimony to the artist's personality and artistic contributions here. A funeral is planned for Wednesday.
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink

Robert Schaefer, 1926-2006


Mark Evanier is reporting that the writer Robert Schaefer, half of the Robert Schaefer/Eric Freiwald team, died December 14 in his Southern California home. A prolific television series writing team in the 1950s, Schaefer and Freiwald also wrote an enormous number of comic books for the Western Publishing Company, specializing in Dell's television show comics and working most diligently in a period from the late 1950s through the middle 1960s.

Among the titles the team penned were series based on TV shows like Rawhide and Zorro, adaptations of Disney movies like The Absent-Minded Professor, a small but not insignificant number of scripts for the classic Disney characters like Donald Duck, and, Evanier notes, early classic issues of Magnus, Robot Fighter. Although the Western comics have never been as vigorously indexed the way companies doing superhero comics have been, this search indicates the variety if not the volume of the Schaefer/Freiwald contribution to comics. Schaefer retired from writing in 1984.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: New David Lloyd Site

posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink

I Hope You Had A Happy Holiday

My own was filled with work and family and a Thing coffee mug and a surprisingly large number of awful movies. Thank you for coming by the site in 2006, and I hope that we can continue to serve your comics-knowledge needs now that we're in 2007. If there's ever any comment you'd like to share, or request you'd like to make, concerning any facet of Comics Reporter .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

We have a new events calendar up; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) If it sounds like something I'd attend, I'll try to make a second mention of it in the blog.

Over the holiday we shifted to a features format in part because of requests several of you made last year about the kind of reading you're most likely to do on the computer during the last few weeks of a calendar year. I hope you enjoyed the change of pace. If you missed the last couple of weeks entirely, here are links to some of the more significant posts, the subjects of which I thank again for their patience and participation.

* A Short Interview With Shaenon Garrity
* A Short Interview With Joe "Jog" McCulloch
* A Short Interview With Anne Ishii
* A Short Interview With Jacob Covey
* A Short Interview With Peter Bergting
* A Short Interview With Chris Oliveros
* A Short Interview With Jamie S. Rich
* A Night at Chicago Comics
* Collective Memory: The Best Comics of 2006

If nothing else, posting longer pieces kept me from doing things like making fun of things like Christmas Gift recommendation lists where pros recommend their own work; I'm pretty sure no one in comics is charming enough to get over with that stunt.

But that's in the past. Onto the future! I'm looking forward to 2007, and the variety of human experiences and achievements in the art form that are sure to come with it. I hope you'll join me occasionally for glimpses into parts of the year ahead, as it unfolds day by day.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

Happy 29th Birthday, Neil Swaab!

posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink

Strikeforce Morituri Giveaway Winner

imageThe winner of the Nearly Every Issue of Strikeforce: Morituri Comic Book Giveaway 2006 is a Mr. James Ellis, from the great state of Michigan. Already making their way to his household are every issue of the groundbreaking 1980s high-concept superhero series, minus the issue we were too lazy to track down.

A sincere thank you to everyone that entered. We're considering doing more giveaway contests with publishers in 2007, and we wanted a sample that wasn't a groundbreaking, giant piece of manga (like last time's Ode to Kirihito) in putting together a more realistic presentation/pitch. You have done us a tremendous favor, and I hope you'll participate in similar contests in the future.
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink

Quick hits
GN Part of Edinburgh City Read
NYCC Starts CBLDF Drive
Report on Jeff Smith in Germany
Report on Masters Exhibit
Report on Tintin Exhibit
Roy Thomas GoH at Florida Con
Stephen King a GoH at NYCC
Tezuka Exhibit to Hit USA
Tony Isabella on Mid-Ohio Con
Vaughan, Dini Added to GoH List at NYCC

10 Zen Monkeys: Jack Chick Comics
Betty & Veronica Comics Makeover
CBR's Comic Book X-Mas Test
James Stevenson's Books: GN Precursors?
List of Pittsburgh Strip Features, 1955
Mike Lynch: Thurber Cartoons Moved
Milton Caniff Article in Time (via Abhay Khosla)
West African Cartoonists Grow In Stature

Brian Hibbs' Crappy X-Mas
Chris Butcher: Tokyopop On-Line Exclusives Follow-Up Tracker Launches
How Dan Zettwoch Makes a Poster
Local Shop Profile: Time Travelers
Look At Dabel Brothers/Marvel Deal
Mehmet Arslan Wins Yomiuri Prize
Platinum Studios Buys Broken Frontier
SLG's De Guzman On Book Deal Impact
The Year In Webcomics 2006
Viz Media Expands Euro Office
What Chris Butcher Suggested For X-Mas
What Viz Is Pushing For the Holiday
WSJ on Dowloadable Comics

Broken Frontier: Ted Rall
CBR: Mike Carey
Daily Cartoonist: Ted Rall
Hour.Ca: John Bell
In The Studio With Frank Cho
In The Studio With Scott Kurtz
Newsarama: Ed Brubaker
Ottawa Citizen: Alan Moore
Reid/Marchetto Encounter in PW
PWCW: Russ Cochran
Ottawa Sun: Alvin Schwartz
Paul Gravett: Winsor McCay
Pioneer Press: Joe Engesser
Scryptic Studios: Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir
Stephan Pastis Profiled
Ten Zen Monkeys: Douglas Rushkoff
The Pulse: Dylan Horrocks
The Pulse: Paul Dini, Kyle Baker
Washington Post: Khalil Abu Arafeh
Wizard: Los Bros Hernandez
Worcester Telegram: Tom Roy

Not Comics
Charity Heroes: Tycho and Gabe
FSU Graduate's Doomed Vocational Dream
Geppi Entertainment Museum Faces Red Ink
James Kochalka's Song Make RS Top 100
Joe Barbera Dead at 95
Religion Goes Pop Seeking Relevancy
Seven Non-Superhero Comics Films
Slam Dunk Scholarship

Another Paper Dropping Spider-Man Comics
Attorney Man: Power of Gaining Feature Article Profiles
Authors Seek Out Extra Value
Buckles for FoxTrot in Winona
Cash & Carry to Echelon Press
Fun Home: Time's Book of the Year
Gavin Ford on Holiday Comic Books
Jim Borgman's Editorial Cartoons to Universal
Lio for FoxTrot in Richmond
Marvel Changes Newspaper Comic Book Deal? Dark Tower Preview
Needed: More Straight-Head Fiction
Never As Bad As You Think Ends
Profile of Marvel's Latest Armed Forces Effort
Profile of Stephen King/Marvel Partnership
The Process of Adding/Dropping Strips
The Secret Origin of Falafel Man
The Village Turns One
WikiWorld Launches In Wikipedia Signpost

Lesley Cruickshank: American Born Chinese
Greg Burgas: Rock Bottom, Seven Sons
Anonymous: Trinity Blood Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: Popeye Volume One
Rob Clough: An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories
Isa Tousignant: Invaders From The North
Leroy Douresseaux: Someday's Dreamers Spellbound Volume One
Kevin Powers: The Spirit #1
Wayne Oliveri: The Grave Robber's Daughter
Derik A Badman: Ninja
Tim O'Neil: The Placebo Man
Johanna Draper Carlson: Fun Home
Bill Sherman: American Virgin: Head
Michael Hanlon: Shenzhen
Nicholas Basbanes: Will Eisner's New York
Dirk Deppey: Hard Story
Jog: Moomin Vol. 1
Bill Sherman: The Bakers Meet Jingle Belle
Brigid Alverson: Kashmashi
Calvin and Heidi's Picks for Christmas
Christopher Seaman: Kikaider Code 02 Vol. 6
Craig Seligman: Chicken With Plums
Craig Seligman: Fun Home
Craig Seligman: Theories of Everything
Craig Seligman: The Rejection Collection
Daphne Lee: Manga Klaus
David Ulin: Big Fat Little Lit
Don MacPherson: '68
Eric Hanson: Lost Girls
Erik Weems: The Spirit #1
Erik Weems: Japan As Viewed By 17 Creators
Miles Fielder: Wimbledon Green
Gautam Ghosh: Ramayan 3392 AD #3-4
Josh Neufeld: Wimbledon Green
Paul Gravett: Albums and Theory Books
Noy Thrupkaew: Chicken With Plums
Vichus Smith: 52 #23
Vichus Smith: 52 #24
Wilma Jandoc: Someday's Dreamers, Psychic Academy

January 1, 2007

CR Holiday Magazine

From Your Hearts to Industry Ears: Seven Wishes For 2007

Yesterday I provided seven wishes for 2007, and called out for your contributions of up to seven hopes or desires for the coming year. Some of you were nice enough to respond, and I hope some more of you will join the fun by sending your own list: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)



David P. Welsh

1. A hearty "seconded" to your #7.
2. An archival Archie project.
3. Another funny, all-ages book from Colleen Coover and Root Nibot.
4. More josei manga.
5. More Yotsuba&! and Bambi and Her Pink Gun.
6. More comics drawn by Simon Gane.



Domingos Isabelinho

1 - The beginning of "The Complete Matt Marriott" by James Edgar & Tony Weare (deluxe hardcovers, natch).
2 - The beginning of "The Complete Salomon" by Chago Armada (deluxe hardcovers natch).
3 - The beginning of "The Complete Skippy" by Percy Crosby (deluxe hardcovers natch).
4 - The beginning of "The Complete Frans Masereel's Wordless Stories" (deluxe hardcovers natch).
5 - The beginning of "The Complete Yoshiharu Tsuge" (deluxe hardcovers natch).

That's enough!, I remember the "beware of what you wish" old saying. If all of the above really happened I would be completely ruined. Fortunately nothing of the above will happen during 2007. Maybe nothing of the above will happen during my lifetime.



Randall Kirby

1. Someone to reprint the funny Dick Briefer Frankensteins.
2. Greater opportunities for all-ages humor comics to exist.
3. An in depth exploration of Lev Gleason books.
4. An Adventures of Bumpkin Buzz collection.
5. women.
6. men.
7. money.



Shad Petosky

1. That traditional book publishers and stores keep backing graphic novels.
2. That Tim Sievert and King Mini's Top Shelf books hit the stands and are well received.
3. More blogs. They're not dead yet. Put your sketchbook online and make me happy in the morning.
4. Complete big fat books of all the best series' from the history of comics. Without "ultimate slip cover" collectible $trings attached.
5. Some good not-fandom based comic art form portals pop-up where ideas and discussions flourish.
6. That all the creative people who left Minneapolis for the coasts come home.
7. That everyone who works hard gets their dreams handed to them.



Gerry Alanguilan

1. I would wish for a much wider understanding of the role of the inker in comics. Next to editing, it's one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated jobs in comics.
2. A book or collection that would remind or introduce the spectacular artwork created by Filipinos in American comic books, which would include the work of Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, Tony DeZuniga, Alex Nino, etc.
3. A resolution the legal stranglehold on Miracleman, so that Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham could continue doing it.
4. More comic book art from David Mazzucchelli.
5. That Peter Jackson directs The Hobbit. Not comics, but it will certainly be damned inspiring.



Anthony Thorne

* I hope the celebrated stream of deluxe hardcover reprints all continue with no bumps or hassles along the way. The Peanuts and Popeye releases are sure things to reach the end of their runs eventually but lower profile stuff like Dick Tracy needs support as well. I'd hate to see any of these worthy projects not make it to the end.

* Seth, Chris Ware and other slowcoaches should get a move on with their respective series. I used to buy Seth's Palookaville but decided to wait for Clyde Fans to be finished before reading it. My goof - he's now roughly halfway and it's what, 10 years or more already...?

* I'm interested in what surprises are in store for 2007. It will take me a while to catch up with the current bounty of great comics now available, but what other unexpected books and projects do we have to look forward to?

* I'd like (since I'm in an asking mood) more Crumb sketchbook releases from Fantagraphics. I'd also like to see Crumb's HUP comics get the collected softcover respect that they are due.

* I'd also like to see more European comics published in a friendly translated format. I'm sure there's lots of Trondheim stuff that we've never seen over here. (It'd be great to see some giant reprint volumes from guys like Trondheim receive the same treatment that Vertical are giving Osamu Tezuka).

* Finally, someone should publish a nice, restored, uncut, comprehensive single-volume bells-and-whistles hardcover edition of the Serpieri Druuna albums to cheer up everyone who likes looking at voluptuous, butt-heavy nude Italian gals drawn with exquisite linework.



Tim O'Shea

1. That people use comicspace as an effort to broaden their reading horizons, rather than an opportunity to just be "friends" with their favorite creators.
2. That we have less tales of loss or hardship in 2007. And if/when tragedy or troubles do occur, that the industry continues to rise to the occasion (as it did in 2006, with Lea Hernandez's fire. [And here's hoping the Hernandez family gets back into their home ASAP in 2007]
3. More interview-based podcasts like Word Balloon with John Siuntres. Siuntres can only cover so much ground and it would be great if more lesser-known creators were the subject of podcast interviews.
4. More time in the day, so I can be a good dad, good full-time employee at my bill-paying gig, and still have time to do more Q&As with creators and stories deserving attention.
5. An expanding consumer base that supports independent works as much as we already support the mainstream material. After that happens, then no one will wince when I demand the mainstream market support "fun superhero comics" that Shaenon Garrity mentioned in her recent Comics Reporter interview in addition to the "gritty police-procedurals-in-leotards" we clearly support at present.
6. Greater respect for industry critics (but only those widely considered worthy of respect, I concede) and thicker-skinned creators who understand a talented critic that strongly dislikes your work in one instance does not preclude them from appreciating your work in the future. As for the untalented critics, please stop. You may not know who you are, but God willing some day you will.
7. Unsure if this is even possible: expanded content at Comics Reporter (c'mon Tom, if we can clone Peter Parker and Thor, why not you?)
8. More wishes, success and happiness for everyone in 2007.



Derik A Badman

1. Second your wish for an Annie reprint (the big collection I have is great but is missing the Sundays!)
2. CPM finally releases Kiriko Nananan's Strawberries and Sweet Cream
3. More Ganges.
4. More translations of bande dessinees.
5. Heavy Metal's first Corto Maltese reissue is successful so they'll put out the rest of the series.
6. The Complete Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy (I can't afford the out of print ones)
7. More diversity in webcomics



John Vest

here's a handful of wishes for the comics world in 2007:

1. More underground retrospectives like Frank Stack's New Adventures of Jesus, Kim Deitch's Shadowland, and You Call This Art?! by Greg Irons (all Fantagraphics).

2. R. Crumb's completion of his Book of Genesis adaptation.

3. More great fan friendly conventions like the Heroes Convention of 2006 (hope the Hernandez Bros will return again).

4. More great comic strip compilations along the lines of Peanuts, Dick Tracy, etc. I really wish someone would start reprinting Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy again. And Alley Oop, too.



Go, Look: Gary Esposito at ACC Exhibit

Gary Esposito took his camera to New Jersey's other Fall 2006 comics show, and took a ton of photos.



Go, Look: Wunderground Winds Down

Gil Roth visited the Providence: Wunderground exhibit at the start of its last week, and took pictures. More pictures through the above photo; report here.
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