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











February 28, 2007


This Isn’t A Library: New and Notable Releases to the Comics Direct Market

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Here are a few books that jump out at me from this week's list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America. I might not buy all of the following, but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick them up and look at them, potentially annoying my retailer.

DEC063542 AYA HC $19.95
A very handsome, very graceful and very accomplished book.

DEC063826 COLD HEAT #3 (OF 12) (MR) $5.00
With so few comics out that leap out, you could do worse than spend the extra dollar or so on what I imagine some could think is the worst comic book ever and others like me feel is simply a compelling, straight-forward thriller drawn with audacious flair by Frank Sontoro.

DEC063565 COMICS JOURNAL #281 $9.95
The Gary Groth interview with Yoshihiro Tatsumi, conducted last summer in San Diego and reportedly featuring a very focused and well-prepared Groth, should make this one worth picking up. Groth emphasized at a panel last year how today's comics critics fail to make hard choices between the good and the excellent, so one anticipates his magazine's year in review coverage will be tightly focused on exactly which few works are the absolutely best ones, and not just a variety of articles and opinions from an array of critics and writers.

DEC062305 DAREDEVIL #94 $2.99
By far Marvel's most skillfully crafted and entertaining superhero comic book over the past decade, this is apparently writer Ed Brubaker's shot at a "jumping on" point, unpacking the new status quo.

JUL061707 JACK STAFF #13 $3.50
Paul Grist continues to put out his jaunty superhero comic with what seems like a supreme confidence in a presentational style that no one else comes within a country mile of adopting as their own. I like them quite a bit, and if I were an adult commuter this would be the perfect comic for me to read on a train.

NOV060242 SHOWCASE PRESENTS GREEN LANTERN VOL 2 TP $16.99
My sole exposure to the early Green Lantern comics is through the DC reprints of the 1970s, but even then there are at least two sets of images that burned their way into my deep subconscious -- Gil Kane's spare, suggestive otherworldly backgrounds, and the image of Green Lantern flying, splayed out, only a few feet above the ground, like Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark except hovering. I would at the very least look at this book.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock.

If I didn't list your new comic, it's not because I missed it by accident or that our tastes differ. It's because I hate you.
 
posted 3:52 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics Just Aren’t For Kids Anymore

Here's a semi-strange article that touches on the issue of the graying of the traditional comic book market, with a concentration on retailers in and around San Francisco. I say semi-strange, because I think if I were reading it from an outsider's perspective, I would be left asking "why not?" a lot. For instance, I don't really know why kids buying manga isn't kids buying comics, except to guess that saying so might shift the onus of selling to kids onto material with which some retailers aren't comfortable and sales techniques which many outlets aren't equipped to embrace.

I also think some of the conclusions are wrong. For instance, I would say companies launching kids-friendly initiatives are doing so not to vaguely correct the thrust of the market or to lay a groundwork for the future but because of the realization, made apparent by a segment of sales outlets that wasn't locked into a certain way of doing things, that there's money to be had there.

I'm also a little baffled by this much-traveled link about a kid trying to find an Iron Man comic. I know that the emphasis is likely the ironic (ha ha) undercurrent of not being able to find a sample suited for kids of a character and a genre that used to be nothing but kid-friendly. At the same time, I can't help but read this and think that although this is depicted as somewhat of an ordeal, it doesn't seem all that drastic in terms of satisfying a customer with specific needs. Moreover, it's a need that could have been anticipated. Wasn't Iron Man recently the star of a direct to video movie?

In general, I guess what I'm saying is that these things get complicated only if you take to heart a lot of a comics sub-culture's expectations and practices and invest them with a value I'm not certain they deserve. Plenty of kids read comics whether or not comics shops are equipped to sell comics to them. Plenty of Iron Man comics for kids exist even if some of them are listed at $8 instead of $.25 because of comics' unique back-issues culture. One would think that demand should be shaping the commercial culture, not the other way around, and I'll never understand a view that restricts fluid concepts like commerce and artistic fulfillment because they exist outside of someone's purview of choice.
 
posted 2:22 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Inside L.A.‘s Family

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Not Comics: Comic Book Confessional

This is an odd story only tangentially related to comics, but I have to say "stopping people from torturing me" would vault whatever comic that might be to the most valuable in my collection.
 
posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Henriette Valium Site

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Warning: likely not for the faint of heart.
 
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
On Deck: WonderCon, World Building

Two of maybe a dozen important comics events of the year take place this weekend on opposite coasts:

* WonderCon at the Moscone Center in San Francisco hopes to build on a successful 2006 with a broad approach to comics and related media starting this Friday. Many have called WonderCon a throwback to the smaller, more intimate days of the same group's Comic-Con International, and this year's should serve as a dry run in anticipation of that bigger event for a new director of programming. This year's proximity to the just-completed New York Comic-Con should test some of the show's national-level aspirations, although it's worth noting that NYCC moves next year returning WC to the top of the North American convention calendar. It also puts WonderCon in a position to preview summer offerings in both films and comics instead of the upcoming Fall/Winter slates. A screening of 300 should be the talked-about highlight. It doesn't hurt Lee Hester is promising to give away comics off of his awesome spinner rack.

* Cartoonists Dylan Horrocks, Tom Hart, Leela Corman and Jeff Smith headline World Building: Seriality and History: The 5th Annual University of Florida Conference on Comics. All will participate in Keynote speeches and other programming, which will include the presentation of papers on a variety of subjects by scholars such as Marc Singer. All the cartoonists involved are very good speakers, and I'm jealous of the conference's participants.
 
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Milton Caniff Born 100 Years Ago Today

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Arnold Drake In Intensive Care

According to an e-mail disseminated by Ken Gale, the writer Arnold Drake was found collapsed in his home and is currently in intensive care at Cabrini Hospital. Gale reports a family member says the one-time Doom Patrol and X-Men writer and co-creator of Guardians of the Galaxy, who has recently enjoyed a resurgence in interest as a popular convention guest and for his co-creator status in the soon-to-be reprinted proto-graphic novel It Rhymes With Lust, currently suffers from a mild bout with pneumonia.

The writer can be sent get-well wishes through Arnold Drake, Cabrini Medical Center, 227 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, AAEC!

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Cartoonist Stands By His Ignorance

Pulling an international "I'm sorry if what I said upset you," South Korean cartoonist Rhie Won-bok reiterated his intention to change anti-Semitic panels in his popular Meon Nara, Yiwoot Nara books that were criticized by Korean-Americans. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean he's backing away from his sadly not-unique version of political reality, as this article shows. This will hopefully lead to mockery and derision on sites like this one, or at least as many as are allowed to address the issue via permission from our invisible Jewish overlords.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Gaston LaGaffe!

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posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Best Magazines Ever List

Mark Evanier discusses this article on ranking the 51 best English-language magazines of all times in terms of MAD's appearance on the list and the semi-dubious nature of its description in that piece. It's a reasonably interesting list, and one with which anyone is likely to disagree at some point or another. I mean, I liked Sassy in its heyday as much as the next person but I kind of think H.L. Mencken's editorial run on American Mercury was the more important, satisfying publication.

At any rate, I thought I'd mention that not one but six of the magazines selected for the list are great comics publications, too: The New Yorker (#2), Playboy (#4), the aforementioned MAD (#6), National Lampoon (#21), the Saturday Evening Post (#22) and Punch (#48). Several others have important but less prevalent cartoon elements, like the "Goofus and Gallant" feature in Highlights (#24).
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Scott McCloud in Louisville 3-6
Go See Scott McCloud in Bloomington 3-7

History
Mark Evanier on Foxy Fagan
Interesting Profile of Opper Project
Opinion Piece on Batman Vs. Al Qaeda

Interviews/Profiles
Fangoria: Frank Forte
DNA: Sarnath Banerjee
Mens News Daily: Jules Feiffer
Halifax News: Michael De Adder

Not Comics
Michael Leunig Takes the Stage
Bone Game Going to Nintendo DS

Publishing
Broken Frontier Creaks Back to Life
Charlos Gary Launches Second Strip

Reviews
Leroy Douresseaux: King
Geoff Hoppe: The Goon #7
Erica Friedman: R.O.D. Vol. 2
Gina Ruiz: The Professor's Daughter
Don MacPherson: American Born Chinese
Sean Elliott: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #1
 

 
February 27, 2007


Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Jakob Illeborg chimes in with a thoughtful piece on his home country Denmark one year after the cartoon controversy that bore their name. The bad press is over; the ideological struggle continues.

* Another view of Denmark, courtesy of an editorial in Kenya Times.

* Yet another trial in London over last year's protests related to the cartoons, this one, the fourth, features Abdul Muhid.

* I'm not sure I get all of the particulars, but it looks like a political solution has been found by Indian cabinet members forced to deal with the statement by Uttar Pradesh minister Haji Yaqoob Qureshi offering a cash reward for the head of the person responsible for the 2005 Jyllands-Posten Muhammed caricatures.
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Jeff Smith!

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posted 1:24 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Marvel: Publishing Up, Licensing Down

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has unfurled a succinct analysis of Marvel's big-picture situation according to the entertainment conglomerate's fourth quarter 2006 report, just released, and its impact on the 2006 year entire. Basically, publishing is up because of its mega crossovers and growth in the bookstore market, but licensing and toys are down. Licensing's massive fall would seem to indicate the company is in a fallow period between the sort of major movie releases that tend to drive these things; while toys is making a transition the forced Marvel to take on some extra cost right now.
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Attend: Wake for Arthur Magazine

imageI totally gaped on covering this yesterday, but it looks like the free cultural magazine Arthur, which covered a lot of comics makers in addition to sporting a fine number of comics itself, has moved from ongoing concern to either outright death or at best some sort of disputed half- or quarter-life. Probably outright death. The cause seems to have been a disagreement between the magazine's co-owners on the future of the magazine and their respective roles in same.

Founding Editor Jay Babcock sent along this statement: "My personal experience of the last two months, watching this dream be murdered in slow motion, has been absolutely excruciating and has taken a huge psychic and physical toll on me. Time to let go. It's been a good run on Arthur, or at least as good as I could do given the pretty difficult circumstances. Time to move on now, can't sit here feeling betrayed forever -- but that's it for me in magazines, though."

The Village Voice has also chimed in with a piece.

Arthur published 25 issues in a four year-plus run. The magazine's brief existence will be celebrated with an event at Los Angeles' Family this Thursday.
 
posted 1:07 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Norm Breyfogle!

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Fantagraphics Intends to Appeal Anti-Slapp Motion Decision in Ellison Case

Following up on a rumor floated in yesterday's Journalista, Gary Groth has confirmed via e-mail that the defendants in the Harlan Ellison vs. Fantagraphics lawsuit are planning to appeal Judge Audrey Collins' ruling on their Anti-SLAPP motion to the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Groth said that the appeal papers should be filed by the end of this week.

This entry was written and placed by David P. Welsh as a favor to this site, without editorial oversight or intrusion.
 
posted 1:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 45th Birthday, Andy Kubert!

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NYCC 2007: Second Year In Summary

These are my thoughts from a vantage point 3/4ths of a continent away on this year's New York Comic-Con, which took place last weekend.

* It seems to have been a generally successful show, well-attended, with lots of people on both sides of the table saying they enjoyed themselves and expressing a desire to return in 2008 when the show moves into the Spring.

* Nothing occurred similar in type or degree to the sending ticket holders away horrors of the show's first year in 2006. Any problems that did crop up seemed roughly on par with those that take place at any large comics show. That being said, there seemed to be some correctable and counter-intuitive policies that frustrated some attendees. From what I could glean reading accounts, New York Comic-Con could improve itself in the following areas: 1) professionals participating in convention programming should have access to an accelerated way to get inside and get to their event, 2) flexible staffing should be employed to boost the number of people processing tickets during the show's first couple of hours, when there is a bottleneck of attendees 3) there remains way too many stories of people getting around the rules if they know the right person or complain loud enough, which is an easy way to breed resentment among those who don't and choose not to, and 4) programming might be arranged to better reflect that couple of hours delay early in the day when people are bottlenecked at the front of the show.

* Nothing pops out at me as a dominant sales item or category that helps define a show, in the "New York Comic-Con is a great place to sell X" way. One thing suggested on a few blogs is that there may be more free stuff to be had than might be available at other conventions.

* Just reading accounts, I come away with the feeling that outside of industry announcements much of the con's programming felt by the numbers or uninspired. This is somewhat understandable given how many times certain panelists have done the same kinds of programming over the last several years, but long-term this needs to be recognized and goosed. I read one account that said a comics into movies panel boiled down to "if your product is good, you have a chance," which isn't exactly an insight for which I'd have been happy to sit an hour. As the novelty of seeing one's East Coast industry colleagues goes down in future years, compelling programming will become that much more of a priority.

* I can't decide if I'm slightly confused or not at all by the emphasis on things not-comics that sort of sit at the same lunch table as comics. On the one hand, the celebration of genre TV shows and prose adaptations of licensed fantasy properties and the like is a traditional convention approach, and people like that stuff and connect that stuff to comics without creasing their brow like I do. I'm not completely ignorant; I recognize the mercenary aspects involved. On the other hand, the show has such a strong publisher presence and Reed has such a fine tradition of handling industry-driven events that it makes me wonder if an opportunity hasn't been lost for comics to have a really distinctive East Coast show.

* Maybe it's just that blogs covering comics have been around for a long time now or that the show was a really busy one, but a lot of the blogging about New York Comic-Con seemed slightly less engaged moment to moment than I'm used to seeing. There seemed to be a major run of making one's first post "Day 1" followed by two days of not posting, followed by "Con Wrap-Up." I have no idea why that is.

* It looks like NYCC did a great job in convincing the big, mainstream companies to announce titles and initiatives at their show, which is something that sometimes gets saved for the Wizard shows. This could be really helpful to NYCC in establishing an identity with those fans. The potential roadblock is that moving the show later into the Spring as will happen in 2008 may shift the publishing announcements from Summer to Fall announcements, which are frequently less sexy and are often reserved at least in part for the summer shows.

* It's only my impression, but it feels like the New York-based book publishers with comics divisions and the manga companies are pretty comfortable with the New York show.

* The important stories coming out of the show were: 1) ICv2.com's revelation that graphic novels are now outselling comic books, 2) movement forward by Marvel and Top Cow to take advantage of digital distribution, 3) Vertical starts a manga line (I thought this had already been announced, but it seemed to hit some folks as if brand new so maybe not), and 4) Yen Press' first publishing slate.

* Next year I suspect the show will settle down into a marathon pace instead of a sprint, and we'll start to get an idea what kind of show it's going to be for the long term. I hope that means that more companies like Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly start going, as arts comics at the show could use an institutional boost. Ironically, the longer companies like that choose not to attend, the more the show coalesces into the type of event that's less attractive to them.

* Finally, I hate to say this, but if you're on-hand and used to it, people dressing up in all sorts of odd costumes and acting out is colorful flair which one negotiates while doing business; from thousands of miles away looking at photos on-line and reading accounts I have to say the dressing up thing seems completely weird, and not in a good way. I mean, I get it, but then again almost no one goes to BEA dressed up like a character from The Shipping News or whatever.

The Collective Memory for New York Comic-Con 2007 has been moved here for permanent archiving.
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Metabunker Civil War Review

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Matthias Wivel provides a review of Marvel's just-completed Civil War mega-series that looks at its smarter aspects as well as its shortcomings. Full of counter-conventional wisdom, it also wins today's "superhero comic review in a slightly unlikely place" award.

Plus it gets bonus points for proper use of the word excrescence.

Newsarama sought out the series' writer Mark Millar for his perspective.
 
posted 12:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
SLG at WonderCon
Dupuy-Berberian Istanbul Exhibit
Comics Greats Hit University of Florida

Industry
Interzone Hits 25
More Webcomics Vs. Wikipedia
Massive Manga News Round-Up
Comics' Future in the Digital Age
Your 2007 Kolasin Award Winners
Manila Standard on Filipino Industry Issues
Gerry Alanguilan On Filipino Industry Issues

Interviews/Profiles
FPI: Mike Conroy
BBC News: 2000 AD
Local Superhero Profile: Chris Florey
Local Ex-Cartoonist Profile: Mark Worthington
The World: Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie
Local Man of Media Interest Profile: Robert Graysmith

Not Comics
Portrait Tribute to Dragon Ball Z

Publishing
Broken Frontier Starting Up Again

Reviews
Paul Gravett: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Aya
Jog: Alan Moore's Exit Interview
Brian Heater: Usagi Yojimbo #100
Holly Ellingwood: Dr. Slump Vol. 11
Cecil McKinley: Jack Kirby Anthology
Leroy Douresseaux: Divalicious Vol. 1

 

 
February 26, 2007


Irwin Caplan, 1919-2007

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Irwin Caplan, the creator of the Saturday Evening Post's Famous Last Words strip and a longtime award-winning cartoonist and illustrator, died Thursday from complications related to Parkinson's Disease. He was 87 years old.

A native of Seattle, Caplan showed an early proclivity for comics work and graduated from the city's University of Washington in 1941 with a fine arts degree. He was veteran that served on various World War II military publications as an illustrator.

In addition to Famous Last Words and another syndicated strip called 48 States of Mind, Caplan was a prolific contributor to magazine cartooning outlets such as Life and Esquire, and a worked in the advertising field. He won a National Cartoonists Society divisional award in 1972 for his advertising work, and repeated that honor in 1981.

In the late 1940s, having established his trade in New York, Caplan returned to his hometown where he founded Graphic Studios with other local artists, the platform for his commercial work and the fulcrum of Seattle's first cartooning scene. He later taught at his alma mater and Seattle University. He became an accomplished painter, and his murals in particular are part of local Washington state history.

He his survived by a wife, two sons, a daughter, and five grandchildren. Services are being held today in Seattle. Appropriate destinations for memorial donations can be found in the initial link.
 
posted 2:24 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Thomas Stockett: 1924-2007

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Thomas Stockett, the longtime editorial cartoonist of Baltimore's Afro-American Newspaper, died on Wednesday of complications resulting from a heart attack. He was 82 years old. Stockett was a multiple award winner from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and worked in his current position for 53 years.

Stockett was born and raised in Baltimore, and was a polio survivor. A job working at a sign company led to his newspaper post. In addition to his cartooning duties, he used his artistic skills to touch up photos and provide other production services. He was also an accomplished painter, placing several works in various museums and private collections.

The cartoonist was preceded in death by a wife, and is survived by two sons, five daughters, thirteen grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren

Services will be held today in Baltimore, and the cartoonist will be honored by the state senate tomorrow in a ceremony planned before his passing.
 
posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 79th Birthday, Ric Estrada!

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posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Group Protests Anti-Semitic Comic

Although it's heartening for an American ethnic community to rail against an item of culture wielding asinine anti-Semitic sentiments, as the Korean-American community in Los Angeles seems to be treating Lee Won-bok's popular Distant Countries and Neighboring Countries, I'm a little confused as to what direction the protest will take in the wake of apologies and text alteration, since the latter at least seems to be one of the expressed goals of future actions as opposed to removing it from circulation, say.
 
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Steve Bell!

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posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Funky Winkerbean Raises Eyebrows

imageIf I'm reading this and this correctly, an episode of Funky Winkerbean from late last week that hinted at a soldier in Iraq falling prey to an IED in what was actually a video game led to a complaint by a soldier in one case and concern by editors in both. This in turn led to a call from one of the editors to King Features demanding a better heads-up on sensitive material or they would cancel all of their King Features material, and an apology sent to each paper by Tom Batiuk. There's something that seems odd to me about this, like we're not getting the full story one way or the other, and it doesn't help that the material doesn't seem available to look at at its usual sites. That could be just my remembering there's a Columbus, Georgia near Fort Benning and not just the Columbus in Ohio, though.

One thing this would underline is one of the great truths of the newspaper strip business -- editors hate getting complaints about comic strips, to the point that if I could make that italicized word "hate" burst into flame for emphasis, I would.

Double-checking just now, Alan Gardner caught this, too.

two of you were nice enough to e-mail me the cartoon; and one of you was nice enough to let me know that Josh has it up at Comics Curmudgeon
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, David Boswell!

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Go, Read: Metabunker Tackles The Recent Cambridge Cartoon Crisis

There's a fine, sourced-out article here on the already indispensable Metabunker blog about the latest echo of the Danish Cartoons Controversy: the publication of one of the cartoons at Cambridge. Not only is it the best summary of the situation I've read, I largely agree with the political take expressed.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Karen Berger!

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posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Cartooniost Videos On-Line

While there are probably dozens upon dozens of videos featuring cartoonists available on-line, two have surfaced in the last couple of days so I present them for your viewing pleasure: the Stan Lee/Jim Lee meeting from Stan the Man's video series as suggested in a recent post at afNews and a series of shorts featuring Lewis Trondheim suggested via e-mail by Andy Konky Kru.
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Simcha Weinstein
Iowa Exhibit Includes Ding
Florida Air Museum Snoopy Show

History
Eddie Campbell on Speech Balloons
Mercury Studio: Five You Go Back To
Daryl Cagle on Amateurs (2-24 Entry)
Gren's Legacy Could Soon Include Game

Industry
Brits Note Judge Blog
Prince Pickles Profiled
American Anime Awards Winners
How To Draw Comics on a Tablet
Herald Reader Lauds Morin's Award
More BitTorrent Debate at Jeff Parker's Site

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Andy Runton
Mr. Media: Lee Salem
Chicago Tribune: Lynn Johnston

Not Comics
Crafts
Do You Appreciate These Cartoons?
Book Posits Japan-America Cultural Fusion
Neil Gaiman Makes Scent-Related CBLDF Donation
Spider-Man Strip Inspiration for Electronic Bracelet

Publishing
Alabama Student Paper Notes King Comic
Another Paper Ends Spider-Man Promotion

Reviews
Jog: Various
Aspi: Marvel Zombies
Sibin Mohan: Beowulf
Hervé St-Louis: 52 #42
koppy mcfad: Shazam #1
Paul O'Brien: Civil War #7
koppy mcfad: Superman #659
koppy mcfad: Wonder Woman #4
Geoff Hoppe: B.P.R.D.: Night Train
Paul O'Brien: X-Men: First Class #6
Pauline Wong: Fruits Basket Vol. 15
Geoff Hoppe: Punisher War Journal #4
Johnna Draper Carlson: Monster Vol. 1
Christina Koh: The Drifting Classroom Vol. 2
Geoff Hoppe: Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth
Glen David Gold: Don't Go Where I Can't Follow
Hervé St-Louis: The New Avengers Illuminati #2
Leroy Douresseaux: Pixie Pop: Gokkun Pucho Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Stormwatch: Lightning Strikes
 

 
February 25, 2007


Happy 7th Birthday, Neilalien Weblog!

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posted 2:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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posted 6:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Sunday Magazine

How To Fake It

imageDavid Welsh draws our attention to this article in the New York Times about Pierre Bayard's How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read, soon to hit American shores in an English-language translation. A lot of what Bayard talks about should be familiar to comics fans, such as the passage Welsh cites about wanting a spouse to share in your reading material so that you can have an intimate world to inhabit together.

I found the article fascinating for those similarities and in how comics is actually a much more complicated forum for such concerns. First, comics is a much odder and a scorned by some, ignored by others artistic activity. Second, comics has a much broader capacity for author-reader encounters, through conventions like this weekend's New York Comic-Con and the constant churn of comics' on-line worlds, which are for the most part driven by talk. In return, you get to drop the philistine worry Bayard talks about: no one's going to think of you as less than engaged and interested in the world for not knowing who Frank Quitely is.

Here are some strategies I've developed over the years -- or at least seen used -- to deal with those unique social situations. Basically, what I suggest is to never fake it, but to find something genuine to say and bring that to the forefront, while remaining respect of helping the person with whom you're talking to having a good conversation. It's nice in comics is that you don't really have to spend energy fooling anyone, just as it's always good in conversation to meet people on their own terms.

Just Listen: Very often a fan of something who brings up that something in conversation doesn't want need for you to be on the same page as they are, but is quite happy to have you be interested and ask them about their interest. This not only reflects common courtesy -- making the yuck face or saying "that stuff is stupid" is crappy behavior in any circumstance -- but if you genuinely don't like someone's object of passion there's likely something of interest to you in how that person relates to it. With some more difficult people, they don't care if you have any view on what they're talking about whatsoever, so deference may be the better part of valor just in that it more quickly moves the conversation along to its conclusion.

Wink: Sometimes a person will offer up something about themselves, a book or a comic or a movie they like, for a bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with getting into it in great detail. If you're sort of conversant with it but not totally immersed in it, sometimes even that gentle nod towards someone is polite in a way you're welcoming what that person just said into the conversation. If someone brings up the TV show Battlestar Galactica, for instance, sometimes all that's necessary is to make a small joke about Edward James Olmos teaching kids calculus.

Admit You Could Be Interested In It, Even When You Aren't: In comics, saying you haven't caught up with something yet has the regular advantage of letting the person who just spoke know that what they brought up is of interest, and the added advantage of flattering the art form in terms of there being so many things out there to explore.

Don't Swing for the Fences: It may seem like a good idea to impress a new acquaintance with something as specific as "It's good to meet anyone who inks like a young Paul Ollswang, as I'm sure you're aware" but usually it's a good idea to save those things for later on in a conversation. Anything from someone in the first five minutes after meeting them sounds more like an accusation than an observation, and in conversation starting narrow rather than generally working your way from broad to narrow means you're close to the end of a branch with nowhere to go except jump.

Leave the Message Board Stuff On-Line: Message board conversations aren't as widely read as you might assume they are, and function in a different head space than meeting folks face to face, so it's frequently best to let that stuff exist on its own terms.

Pass Along Someone Else's Compliment: You generally don't want to lead with it, but it can be a nice touch later on in a conversation or to recover from a boneheaded statement of your own. A deranged person might see saying something like, "I hate to interrupt, but I can't help thinking my brother's going to be totally jealous I got to meet you" as a passive-aggressive shot, but there's no pleasing people like that anyway. Don't make one up, though. "My mother was buried with copies of your run of Avengers" -- not cool.

Divorce Success from Your Personal Endorsement: I like to differentiate the success someone has from whether or not I like the object which has brought them success, not as a diversionary tactic but because I tend to be sincerely happy for a lot of people whose work I like less than, say, Joe Sacco's, and I don't see any problem holding the two ideas in my head or expressing one of them. It seems like a lot of people in comics want to go around punching people in the face who enjoy success through the publication of books that they think are terrible. Not only is this unnecessary, it can sort of make you a dick. People understand that saying "Congrats on your Eisner," isn't the same as, "This person can never do wrong, and if I ever say so, I am totally a hypocrite." And if they don't, they should. Being sincere can be about generous; it doesn't have to be about being disingenuous.

Cartoonists Aren't Generally So Egotistical You Need to Suck Up to Them all the Time Though Constant Recognition of Their Awesomeness: Few cartoonists will be upset with you if you fail to genuflect and say, "I think your work on Metamorpho is genius" or whatever. In fact, many will be happy to make an impression on someone above and beyond their latest business deal, particularly after-hours at some industry gatherings.

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pictured: Eddie Campbell's next book from First Second, a comic so universally anticipated I figured I could use it to illustrate this argument because no one would think any of these "I don't like it, but..." thoughts would apply to it

*****

Five Link A Go Go

* go, read: Shaenon Garrity in praise of the Byrne Board

* go, read: Al Capp's Hardhats

* go, look: David Heatley's Drawger site

* go, look: Jack Turnbull's blog

* go, watch: the Crumbs on video

*****

Go, Look: Debbie Drechsler's Illustration

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*****

First Thought Of The Day
For the first time in my life, I realized upon waking that I couldn't if asked elaborate on the differences between sociology and anthropology. Luckily, it's never come up.
 
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February 24, 2007


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Berkeley, I’d Go To This

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 17 to February 23, 2007:

1. Graphic Novels now sell more than the traditional comic book format, says ICv2.com on Thursday.

2. Second New York Comic-Con gets underway on Friday.

3. Wizard hires former FHM EiC for their company's same-name position, the company says on Wednesday.

Winner Of The Week
Iron Man!

Loser Of The Week
Captain America!

Quote Of The Week
"Dear Tom Brevoort, I really like you and all, but if you really thought that this issue resolved an ideological conflict, you are high and need to calm down." -- Graeme McMillan reviews Civil War #7

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
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February 23, 2007


Happy 55th Birthday, Bryan Talbot!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Jim Borgman!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Greg LaRocque!

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ICv2.com: It’s a Graphic Novel World

imageThe business news and analysis site ICv2.com unveiled news at the conferences they sponsored at New York Comic-Con yesterday that the graphic novel format outsold the more traditional comic book format in "retail stores" in 2006. This is the first time this has ever happened, and likely represents an important historical moment. The reason it might not feel like a sea change is that the traditional comics format stopped being the format of choice for a large number of publishers years ago. Unless you were a comics fan really invested in superhero comics, your primary experience with comics may have come solely through the spine-bear format. It also goes almost without saying that market change has been driven by the rapid growth in manga, which has enjoyed its success through a trade format as opposed to a stapled one.
 
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Time Magazine Drops Its Cartoons

I think Daryl Cagle has a nice take (February 22 entry) on Time dropping cartoons from its pages, apparently without complaint: it's bad to lose a high-profile market, but if you lose a market, it may as well be one that encouraged poor, broader than broad, and ultimately feckless cartooning.
 
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Comics Strips and Product Placement

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An editors' blog at the Albany Times-Union newspaper digs into a reader's assertion that cartoonists may now be accepting money for product placement in their strip. It turns out to be coincidence, but the issues behind that kind of thing get a good work-out in the process, and is therefore worth a read. One thing I find fascinating is that were it to happen you'd likely have a rejection of this kind of thing on the Americana element that the comics page still effuses for a lot of folks.

one of the cartoons cited, the February 6 Close to Home.
 
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Your Feature Article Friday Round-Up

If you find yourself with some extra downtime on a Friday afternoon...

* David Welsh says enough already with the marketing principle that suggests manga is the Amuse Bouche that precedes the western comics meal of a lifelong relationship to the comics form.

* Nerve has rolled out the rest of its comics issue since the last time we looked in. This includes comics by Jim Mahfood, Meg Hunt and Leah Hayes; a Q&A with the great Roz Chast, a semi-baffling list of 20 Comics That Can Change Your Life; a look at the Gordon Lee case; and a delving into those Children of God comics that have been an internet favorite for a while now.

* The new issue of High Hat features an interview by Chris Lanier of Aleksandr Zograf, a review of Skibber Bee Bye by same, and a not-comics but wonderfully worthy piece about murdered animator Helen Hill.

* Steven Swalley and the International Cartoonist Conspiracy check in with the How to Make Comics mini-comic, Swalley's summary of cartoonist parlor games, and the launch of the sure to be fun if slightly insane-sounding Gross Comics Project.

* Finally, Graeme McMillan offers up an interesting review of Marvel's mega-crossover finale Civil War #7 in that it's laced with disgust for the material, its messages, and the way it was presented to readers. It's increasingly difficult to tell in mainstream comics the difference between comics that bring a certain reaction from a certain kind of fan while still entertaining the crap out of the bulk of readers, and those comics which strike a false chord in a way that negative reaction like McMillan's is the harbinger of a potential walking away from the material by a significant number of fans. One of the things at risk with such a great emphasis on mega-crossovers is that a bad one could have a hangover effect to drive away readers of those kinds of books generally, not just one title or a group.
 
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OTBP: Franklin Booth

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Franklin Booth: American Illustrator, Edited by Manuel Auad, Hardcover, Auad Publishing, 128 pages, 2006, $24.95
 
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Your Mini New York Comic-Con Guide

The following post relates to the second annual New York Comic-Con, which starts today at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, and goes through Sunday. An ongoing collective memory of this show will be posted at the top of this blog for the next few days, and then moved into the archives.

While this guide is for those in the region who are thinking about going or those already committed to the event who are in the process of going, please note: it looks like the con will be extremely well-attended, and both Saturday and Sunday tickets are either off the table or highly unlikely. The comics news site Newsarama has the latest, and should be checked for further updates, particularly if you're not pre-registered. If you're a pro and planned on dropping in, remember that non-participating professionals are being charged, and the availability of tickets isn't guaranteed for them, either.

Here are some quick thoughts and broad suggestions.

*****

Five Questions to be Answered at the Show

1. Will everything function smoothly?
This has to be asked. One the one hand I don't know a single person who thinks there will be a repeat of last year's over-attendance fiasco from the administrative side. It is likely all efforts have been made to ensure this won't happen again. On the other, there will be a storm of people as indicated by warnings about no on-site tickets over the weekend (definitely Saturday, maybe Sunday). So those precautions will be tested.

2. Will DC announce a major on-line initiative?
This guy seems to think it's possible.

3. What does the next 15-month period in mainstream comics look like?
With one superhero mega-project just completed and another one just announced, the various big American company panels should provide clues as to the immediate shape and direction of the superhero-focused comic book Direct Market. As a major show poised to preview the summer comic book season, NYCC should benefit as a place for these companies to announce teasers and initiatives.

4. How long will Jhonen Vasquez's line be?
I've had a remarkable three people e-mail me wondering about this out loud. Vasquez has very passionate fans, and I can't recall him making an east coast con appearance before.

5. Will the amount of business done match the size of the crowds?
The show is guaranteed to be packed. That doesn't always mean that crowds are buying. If they are buying, I don't think last year's show gave us a solid clue as to what kinds of things sold better than others. So it should be interesting to see if the show begins to form an identity that way.

*****

Five Pros to Visit

1. Evan Dorkin
It's not a New York con unless you get to talk to Evan Dorkin. Track him down at the Slave Labor booth, and encourage him to do something with his great, recent monster drawings.

2. Miriam Katin
A really nice lady and formidable cartoonist making an appearance despite her publisher staying home, Ms. Katin will be making panel appearances and doing signings at the MoCCA booth.

3. Jim Shooter
Mr. Shooter is listed as appearing in Artist's Alley, and I'm sort of curious as to what the heck he's doing there.

4. Gary Panter
Also apparently in Artist's Alley is one of the greatest cartoonists in the world; buy anything he's selling.

5. David Mazzucchelli
He's a guest of the show, and I've always wanted to meet David Mazzucchelli.

*****

Five Comics Things to Do Outside the Show

1. Beasts! signing at GRNY
Every cool cartoonist/illustrator/painter in New York not found here...

2. PictureBox signing at Rocketship
... will likely be here. Many will do both.

3. PopCultureShock afterparty
Go to somebody's party -- after, before or during.

4. Support your local retailer
It is a great kindness to visit a comics shop during a comics convention, and if you're from out of town it may be easier to shop for some things at a couple of shops than at the show. Definitely call ahead to see if they're open.

5. Act out the climactic street battle in Civil War #7 with your friends
First one to cry loses.

*****

Five Panels to See

1. ICv2.com's conference
Well, it was yesterday, but it still would have been interesting to see what a paid-for seminar looks like at a comics show.

2. Comics Publishing Review & Outlook 2007
Lot of heavy hitters here; getting them to say something substantive will be the trick.

3. NYCC Editors Buzz Forum
Another interesting group; I'm suspicious that any such panel could be as hype free as described, but I like a lot of these folks as talkers.

4. Mothers & Daughters: Female Graphic Novelists and the FamilyGreat mix of cartoonists, both in terms of approach and generation-wise.

5. Living to tell the tale: Graphic Novel as Memoir
A really good moderator here.

If I were there, I would also probably attend the blogger panel (which I hope gets beyond asking the audience if they blog and telling the stories of how the panelists started blogging), the Jeff Smith spotlight (I know he's an advertiser here, but Smith has a pretty stellar record when it comes to making creative and business decisions), the one with all the funny people on it, and maybe whichever panels the mainstream companies are making their various publishing announcements. But certainly to each his own. A full list is here.

*****

Five Non-Comics Things to Do Outside the Show

1. Eat
You're in New York! If there's even only a tiny foodie buried deep within your soul you owe it to yourself to find someplace nice to eat for dinner. Listen to the locals, and try something you can't get back home.

2. Drink
New York has maybe the greatest bar scene in the world, so it's a perfect place to find somewhere to sit down with friends and bend elbows after a long day of conventioneering. Bars in New York can remain open until four AM, which is fine as long as you're not speaking at 9 AM the next day.

3. Go see a show
Support another no-longer-a-mass medium by seeing something live and in person.

4. Walk around
The area around the Javits Center is sort of the pits as I recall, and it may just be too darn cold out, and you may be tired, but if you find yourself in a position where none of these things apply you should walk a few blocks and enjoy the city and clear your head. No place like it in the world.

5. Kul-tcha
If you're in town an extra day or two and your host goes to work, get up off of that sofa!

*****

Five Predictions

1. A small snafu or hint of same that turns out to be temporary and not that big a deal.
2. A lot of talk about how various older icons look health-wise, as there seem to be a lot of them out this weekend.
3. Lots of people trading Stephen Colbert encounters like currency.
4. Solid to great attendance but wildly varying stories of success sales-wise.
5. A generally successful show, with some noting its huge mainstream tendencies.

Please note: I suck at predictions, even ones where I get to hedge.

*****

So that's it, have fun. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I expect a show with a lot of energy and buzz. It should also be slammed with attendees, which this morning makes me slightly more disappointed the movie angle is played up than I usually am about that kind of thing as I think NYCC could likely succeed as an all-comics show, but it's not my business to make such decisions for people.
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Doug Moench!

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Missed It: Sean Scott, 1969-2007

Sean Scott, a longtime, popular employee of comics retail empire Mile High Comics who helped run their N.I.C.E. subscription program, has passed away.

According to Chuck Rozanski in one of the Mile High newsletters, Scott's funeral is planned for February 27th at 2:30pm in Thornton, Colorado.
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Greg Evans
Post Reviews Shojo Show
Recording of Chris Ware Talk
Go Take Class With John Donohue
Review of Editorial Cartooning Show
Brendan Burford on Syncopated Party

Industry
Marvel Yay!
Marvel Bah!
Shueisha Ends Monthly Shonen Jump

Interviews/Profiles
Express: Jeff Smith
Film Stew: John Ridley
Newsarama: Matt Fraction
The Patriot-News: Alison Bechdel

Reviews
Vichus Smith: 52 #30
Erik Weems: Shazam #1
Greg McElhatton: Mushishi Vol. 1
Jason Schueppert: Best American Comics
Don MacPherson: The Brave and the Bold #1
Michael Harrington: Charles Addams: A Cartoonist's Life
 

 
February 22, 2007


Conversational Euro-Comics: A Few Words On the Angouleme Essentials 02

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By Bart Beaty:

Since making a name for himself in the late-1990s with anthology pieces and his first albums (Fromage Confiture, Brendan Bellard), Frederik Peeters has carved out a niche for himself that balances between genres, between styles and between publishers. Perhaps best known as the artist for the monster/adventure/children's series Koma (written by Pierre Wazem, Humanoides Associes), he is widely celebrated as the author of the autobiographical tour de force Pilules Bleues (Atrabile, 2001). For six years when people ask me "What is the book that you think most needs to be translated from French to English?" my answer is always the same: Pilules Bleues, the true story of a young man and his romance with a woman living with HIV.

Now, however, my answer might have to change. Peeters, five-time nominee at Angouleme, is finally a winner, and with the fourth and final volume of Lupus now available the time has arrived to re-evaluate the series as a whole. The question necessarily becomes: Has the young master finally topped himself?

In terms of subject matter, Pilules Bleues has the obvious easy advantages of stark, powerful human drama. The very topic is something that causes people to sit up and take notice. Lupus, on the other hand, lacks the simplicity of the high-concept pitch. If I were to sum it up in pithy terms I would probably go with: Love and Rockets as told by the Swiss. Indeed, Love and Rockets would be a better title for this book than for work of Los Bros.

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Lupus is the story of a twenty-something young man on an intergalactic fishing vacation with his friend, Ted. They roam from planet to exotic planet in their spaceship, doing drugs, eating local delicacies, meeting girls, and, um, fishing. This slackers in space comic, the first science fiction epic in which virtually nothing happens, is interrupted by the arrival of Sanaa, a young woman on the run from her billionaire father. In short order Lupus is smitten, Ted is tragically and violently killed, and the duo is on the run.

The second volume found Sanaa and Lupus hiding out in a commune run by aging anarchists on a hyper-organized retirement planet (a very Swiss vision of the future!), while the action of the third and fourth volumes takes place primarily on an abandoned space station hotel, where Lupus and Sanaa are in hiding awaiting the birth of her child. The fourth volume places the question of the paternity of the baby at the forefront (Lupus'? Ted's?), and also delves deeply into Lupus' psychological damage through a series of flashbacks in which his own issues with his parents take center stage. Again, not much happens in the way of plot (though a barely functioning service robot provides some humor) -- everything exists at the level of character.

Unlike Jaime Hernandez or Paul Pope, each of whom have mined the science fiction hipster comics story in the past, Peeters evinces almost no interest in genre trappings. Indeed, were I to learn that this story is largely autobiographical, I would be in no way surprised. This is a story of young men on the road to self-discovery, and the fourth volume finds Lupus thrust directly and sharply into the "adult world" (the cover, which depicts the character with a fresh haircut, suit and tie forms an ominous warning of things to come). But virtually every element here could have been played out in our mundane world, with distant planets replaced by Asian backpacking adventures, space ships replaced by buses and cars, and earthly trees replaced by, well, non-earthly ones. In short, this doesn't have to be a science fiction story, it just sort of wants to be one.

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Where Lupus surpasses Pilules Bleues is in Peeters' greater facility with the form. Certainly his drawing, Blutch-influenced but with a strong personality of its own, has never been better. He uses dramatic pacing much better here (gone, fortunately, are the nearly omnipresent voice-overs that detract from the first volume), especially in two instances where he drops out the art to highlight a dramatic transition. Everything about the cartoonist as story-teller has come together in this volume, as if he has finally reached a level of artistic maturity at the same time the Lupus leaves behind his own youthful predispositions. In this way, Lupus is a profoundly moving work, and by the end of its 400 pages I felt that I had come to know and care about this character in a fashion that is all too rare in contemporary comics.

Is Lupus a masterpiece? That's a very tough call. It is a beautifully realized comic-epic-romance of the type that would appeal strongly to American readers. Its easy juxtapositions of the mundane and the spectacular are genuinely moving and the completion of the story is wonderfully satisfying. This is both a well-crafted page-turner and a book that rewards multiple re-readings. Does that make it a masterpiece? I suppose it probably does.

Next time: Moving on to Angouleme's special prizes, with Best Fanzine winner: Canicola

*****

Lupus Vol. 4, Frederik Peeters, Broche, 75 pages, 2940329230 (ISBN), March 2006

*****

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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New Yorker Riles Polish Community

A cartoon by Bob Weber where a child states he was given what turns out to be a traditional Polish name because his parents were drunk has drawn criticism from the city's Polish community, says this New York Daily News article. The only things that strike me as odd are 1) this doesn't seem like a New Yorker joke at all, and 2) this would seem obviously likely to offend someone out there.
 
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Go, Read: Khosla on Civil War #7

imageWhen a big, punchy-kicky mega-event at a major mainstream comic book company reaches its final issue, there's only one place to go to see how it turned out, and that's tracking down Abhay Khosla's reaction, on whatever message board he happens to be using. "I hope someone important dies! I have high hopes about this comic. There's going to be punching and someone's going to die and maybe there'll be some superhero crying for no reason, and I don't know -- there's got to be some screwed up 'Mark Millar's a retard' shit in it. High hopes."
 
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Go, Read: Anime Con Scandal

I'm not yet familiar enough with the sources that cover manga news to fully back an investigative news story without digging into it myself a bit, and stories like these are inevitably complicated, but start here or better yet here for an awful-sounding tale of what looks like a benefit convention set-up that turned out to be a scam.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Doug Allen!

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The Unresolved Questions Dept.

* Kiel Phegley at Wizard provides a succinct take of where the rights struggle over the Miracleman/Marvelman series stands today; it sort of looks like that famous blasted-out cityscape scene from one of the series' most popular issues.

* Here's a nugget from a recent Lynn Johnston profile touching on an issue that didn't register with me as something in question until I read the headline: Johnston will resolve her character Elizabeth's love life before pushing the strip into a frozen-in-amber framework role for presenting old material. That plot point has been the subject of much attention because of the line it seems to be drawing between Johnston's view on what makes people happy (staying close to home; marrying close to the family) and the strong disagreement (moving away from home, creating a life for oneself) with this notion expressed by many readers who grew up with the character. I hadn't even considered the possibility the issue might go unresolved.

* With an Iron Man movie in the making, I wondered if any political voices out there would engage with the character's munitions dealer past. Jumping the gun, the recent DVD movie prompted one blogger to write that he misses it.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Alec Stevens!

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The Better Late Than Never Dept.

* After a couple of weeks of waiting, Johanna Draper Carlson gets her response from the Friends of Lulu on the fate of its Empowerment Fund, which looks like it was disastrously and impetuously announced far ahead of the group's chance to discuss and make possible its implementation, thus rendering it dead on arrival. If you gave money, you can apparently try and get it back by contacting them.

* Drawn and Quarterly spots a nice honor for their excellent Moomin series launch last year: a place on the European edition of Time's best books list.

* Jeff Smith kicks in with what has to be the last Angouleme festival report, which I think is worth pointing out because he has photos of a few people I hadn't seen show up on anyone else's radar, including Craig Thompson. As I recall, Smith visited San Diego for about 36 hours last year, making him the new master of the convention drop-in.

it occurs to me two of these folks are advertisers: coincidence or evil is up to you
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Andy Diggle!

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Go, Read: Henry Jenkins Interviews Anne Allison on Millennial Monsters

The writer Gus Mastrapa wrote in to point out this two part (at least thus far) interview by Henry Jenkins with Anne Allison about her book, Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination. Even if it weren't already obvious about how some of this analysis might tie into comic books, Jenkins makes some of those connection clear.
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits
Tezuka Exhibit Described
Comics' Story at Cal-Northridge
Report from Syncopated Vol. 3 Release Party

History
Eddie Campbell on Scale

Industry
Money Raised for Library's GN Section

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Wes Green
Wizard: Paul Dini
PWCW: Ivan Brunetti
Newsarama: Rick Veitch
Comics, Covered: Andi Watson

Not Comics
Firefighters React to Editorial Cartoon

Publishing
Unshelved Hits Fifth Anniversary
SLG Releases Anniversary Anthology
More Not-Published Editorial Cartoons
Broccoli Announces Boys' Love Imprint

Reviews
Greg McElhatton: Korgi
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Geoff Hoppe: Conan #37
Uncredited: Fair Weather
Brian Heater: Back in Bleck
Jog: Punisher: War Journal #4
Kevin Church: Gyakushu Vol. 1
Andrew Arnold: Need More Love
Brian Heater: The Left Bank Gang
Leroy Douresseaux: Pantheon High Vol. 1
Shawn at Comic Fodder: Detective Comics #824-828
 

 
February 21, 2007


If I Were In Vermont, I’d Go To This

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This Isn’t A Library: New and Notable Releases to the Comics Direct Market

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Here are a few books that jump out at me from this week's list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America. I might not buy all of the following, but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick them up and look at them, potentially annoying my retailer.

*****

SEP062101 CIVIL WAR #7 (OF 7) $2.99
This is the concluding issue to Marvel's latest mega-crossover, where instead of fighting over the Evil Eye or something else cool various teams of good guys squared off over abstracted, overheated metaphors for invasive government and privacy issues. Why have you abandoned us, Prester John? Comics like this make my head hurt, but I might pick it up to see if there's a surprise ending and if I know off the top of my head where it's stolen from.

DEC060021 CONAN #37 (MR) $2.99
When I was a kid, Conan was usually the great disappointment of the comics rack. It sounds like it should be great, all hacking and slashing and dancing girls and lizard-monsters, but beyond the first couple of dozen issues and brief runs here and there in his various Marvel titles the content never quite lived up to the promise. I have no idea if these new Conan comics from Dark Horse are any good, as I've never seen one, but I would pick one up were I in a shop today.

NOV063980 DRIFTING CLASSROOM VOL 4 TP (MR) $9.99
NOV063982 NAOKI URASAWAS MONSTER VOL 7 TP $9.99
The best of the ongoing manga series with new volumes out this week. I'm behind on both.

DEC063847 FREAK BROTHERS #5 NEW PTG (MR) (NOTE PRICE) $4.95
DEC063848 FREAK BROTHERS #6 NEW PTG (MR) (NOTE PRICE) $4.95
In heaven's spinner racks, you will find some iteration of Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in at least two of the pockets.

DEC063945 HOUSE OF SUGAR GN $10.00
People need to buy this or a bunch of us are going to look like buffoons.

NOV063555 HEARTBREAK SOUP PALOMAR VOL 1 TP $14.95
NOV063556 MAGGIE THE MECHANIC LOCAS VOL 1 TP $14.95
These new collections of approximately 16-18 issues of Love and Rockets stories according to brother aren't manga-sized as some thought, but what they are is pretty damn great. I keep stopping work to pick mine up.

DEC063439 HUNTER & PAINTER $4.95
Tom Gauld's work is funny, smart and attractively designed. Judging from the review copy I was sent, this oblong-shaped, more-than-a-mini presentation of one of his better works proves one thing: publisher Alvin Buenaventura has a better source for comics bags than anyone else I know.

OCT060212 KAMANDI ARCHIVES VOL 2 HC $49.99
I prefer comic books to hardcover collections of same, particularly with something as old-fashioned and fun as later period Jack Kirby comics. Still, this is prime time '70s comic book oddballism, as much of its time as any random episode of Welcome Back, Kotter that features the Hari Krishnas or a Network riff and as timeless as any number of ragged science fiction movies of the day that sought to negotiate Armageddon through out-sized, simplified transformations of America.

NOV060020 SOCK MONKEY THE INCHES INCIDENT #3 (OF 4) $2.99
A terrible thing about not being near a comic shop is that I miss out on books like this one -- it's not new, it's not a startling new direction, it's not anything except likely to be good.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock.

If I didn't list your new comic, it's not because I missed it by accident or that our tastes differ. It's because I hate you.
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Former FHM EiC Nabs Wizard Post

Scott Gramling, formerly Editor in Chief at the era-defining and recently defunct FHM, will apparently take the same position at Wizard Entertainment. That seems to me an appropriate and aggressive hire, and certainly works against the perception among many in comics that the magazine was on some kind of deathbed. I certainly can't think of any comics magazine editors with Gramling's mainstream magazine pedigree -- or, for that matter, a history of being called "super-editor" and appearing in New York gossip columns.
 
posted 2:52 am PST | Permalink
 

 
NBM to Publish Early Mutt and Jeff

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NBM has announced plans to publish early Mutt & Jeff strips with Forever Nuts: Classic Screwball Strips -- The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff, coming out in May.

As usual with this kind of news, there are any number of compelling angles. NBM enters the classic strip realm that seems to have done well for other publishers, and does so at a high degree of difficulty with a feature that has been largely neglected and should also present some reproduction hurdles given its age. At the same time, this isn't material that's been reprinted recently or much at all. They are also eschewing a complete approach for a more selective editorial process.

Bud Fisher's strip was a huge innovator in terms of type of story attempted; it wasn't so much that Fisher was experimental as that he seemed to have a relative modern grasp of the feature as a kind of proscenium stage play, and infused it with as many approaches as one might find at the theater instead of keeping to the more decorative, arch, traditional elements of early cartoon strips. NBM is correct in saying that these strips still relate; while Jog is right in saying they can be awesome. You can see the same vaudevillian aspects in early Mutt & Jeff that you'd see dominate a certain kind of show business for the next three decades -- the caper, buddy to buddy dialog, collisions of class and divisions of wealth -- elements of which are recognizable in comedic efforts today.

Incidentally, the building that housed Bud Fisher's studio recently burned down.
 
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Joann Sfar Covers Charlie-Hebdo Trial

imageAn interesting sidelight to the recent Charlie-Hebdo hearings in France is that apparently cartoonist Joann Sfar was on-hand, and has recorded the experience for a book on the trial and Free Speech rallying point that will be published the day before the court's decision. I don't have anything to add to that, except it's a pretty awesome idea. While there are few cartoonists of Sfar's name recognition, skill, and facility, it might be interesting for someone to try this here if the opportunity presents itself.
 
posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Arizona Car-Smashed Store Re-Opens

I wanted to make a separate entry out the Atomic Comics location in Mesa, Arizona re-opening after a young woman smashed her car into the place on Halloween 2006 in order to recognize that fairly quick turnaround. I thought it worth noting in this day and age where comics businesses of all kinds are frequently stretched for cash as an almost perpetual state of affairs that the owners not only had appropriate insurance but were able to re-stock, re-design and re-open the place while still negotiating with their carrier as to those payments. I wish I had my own comics-related affairs as squared away.
 
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 63rd Birthday, Carlos Nine!

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posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics Creators: In Their Own Words

A few more entries from comics creators' blogs that caught my eye in a generally strong week for creators' blogs:

* Eddie Campbell writes a really smart, perceptive post about the impulse to design the comics page according to principles of film.

* Jeff Smith confirms he'll be working on The Complete Pogo, but the thing I really like about the post is that he mentions the dream that all comics readers seem to have at one point or another: going into a musty bookstore and finding a complete collection of a book you wanted. Sometimes this can be a book that doesn't exist yet or never existed.

* The great Phoebe Gloeckner has moved her blog.

* Jeff Parker reacts in good-natured fashion to finding his just-completed series available for download.

* Dennis O'Neil talks about using Green Lantern as a political metaphor.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Frank Brunner!

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posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Everything’s Cool With Need More Love

A quick, non-holiday call to MQ Publications, the American publisher of Aline Kominsky-Crumb's latest, the massive and necessary Need More Love, was all that was needed to crush any questions some folks had regarding a cancellation of an appearance in St. Louis last night and the explanations that moved within local circles. According to a company representative, the cancellation was merely due to a personal circumstance that came unexpectedly, "the book is great," the rest of the tour in support of the book has not been canceled and continues Friday at New York's Comic-Con and then moves on to San Francisco, and there's nothing anyone knows is wrong with the book's European publisher.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 28th Birthday, Bryan Lee O’Malley!

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posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
How To Break A Comics “Habit”

Kevin Church's open letter on the subject of fans buying comics they dislike (among other things) describes an area of comics culture that's hard for an outsider to understand. To put it bluntly: who the hell buys something they don't want?

What happens is that some comics readers, usually those in the habit of buying comics at a comics shop every week, find that some factor beyond liking and wanting an individual comic begins to assert influence over their buying choices. This can be any number of things: a collector's desire to have a complete run of books, affection for certain characters, hope that a feature will return to its former glory, loyalty to a certain company, curiosity about a popular title, the desire to have a certain number of new comics to read every week, you name it.

I don't think there's anything wrong with this. If I were rich, I would buy tons of crappy comics I didn't like that much. However, I think if you're not enjoying yourself and want to change your buying habits, you should do so immediately. So as an example here's what I did when I was in my early 20s, an every-week comic shop visitor, after I suspected that I wasn't maximizing my woefully limited spending dollar.
1. I closed my "pull box" (an agreement to buy certain comics that are held for you in exchange for a nominal discount).
2. I took a short break from comics shopping.
3. I figured out what I spent for comics every week on average.
4. I opened a no-fee checking account and began depositing 1/2 of my spending average into that account every week, using the break to build up a few dollars.
5. The first three months after the break I only bought comics if they were a week or more old.

I soon found I was unable to spend anywhere near as much money as I deposited. And eventually, my comics became just another media purchase.

Obviously no one needs a separate bank account devoted to funnybook buying. I was a sad, very uptight 23-year-old. But if you're serious about buying a lot of something, there's no harm in whipping up a strategy that facilitates your passion rather than makes you a slave to it. If you think of comics as a massive library of works that's been added to for 100 years and a spinner rack that gets refilled once a week, you may find you have a lifetime of reading ahead of you beyond those blissful Wednesday afternoons.
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Osamu Tezuka Exhibit Opens
Ed Sizemore Reviews Shojo Exhibit
Report From Seattle Nilsen/Bell/Huizenga Show

History
David Thompson on Steve Ditko
Happy 10th Birthday, Tokyopop!
Is Cartoonists Day Still a Big Deal?

Industry
PWCW on Kid GNs
Rebellion Acquires Clickwheel
Retailer Continues With Closure
Tokyopop Introduces New Ratings
Judge Discusses Glyph Nominations
Election Graphic Narrative to Crown

Interviews/Profiles
FPI: Larry Gonick
Wizard: Paul Dini
AP: Audrey Niffenegger
Manga Punk: Camilla d'Errico
Mike Lynch Cartoons: Alberto Giolitti
PWCW: Aimee Friedman and Christine Norrie

Not Comics
Real-Life Earl Turns 18
Marvel's Cheap Rent Days May Be Over
I Like The Idea People Need To Know This

Publishing
Paperrad Featured in ANP Quarterly
India Educators to Use Science Comics
Dan Rosandich Launches Ala Carte Web Site
Evan Dorkin: Bif-Bam-Pow Back on Schedule
Publisher Secure Licenses For Deluxe Editions
Lee Judge Blog Features Unpublished Cartoons
Galleycat: Sequel Memoir to Fun Home Planned

Reviews
Jog: Golgo 13 Vol. 7
Derik A Badman: Mon Fiston
Paul O'Brien: New Excalibur #16
Aspi: Daisy Kutter: The Last Train
Johanna Draper Carlson: Earthlight
Paul O'Brien: Astonishing X-Men #20
Marc Singer: Astro City: The Dark Age
Johanna Draper Carlson: Adrenaline #1
RJ Carter: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
David Welsh: Tanpenshu, ICv2.com Guide
Johanna Draper Carlson: Musashi #9 Vol. 8
Paul O'Brien: The Punisher Presents Barracuda #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Tales of the Unexpected #5
Johanna Draper Carlson: CSI: Dying in the Gutters #5
 

 
February 20, 2007


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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posted 3:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Mwampebwa Wins 2nd Habari Award

Godfrey Mwampebwa, editorial cartoonist for the Nation Media Group, won his second Habari Award for the human rights aspects to his work. The award was one of several issued by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and announced at a recent dinner in Nairobi. Mwampbewa, better known as GADO, has one of the better editorial cartoonist sites on the Internet.
 
posted 3:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
2007 Webcartoonists’ Choice Awards

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You can find the winners to the 2007 Webcartoonists' Choice Awards on this page, including winner of Outstanding Comic Perry Bible Fellowship by following links on this page. The Awards does this cute thing of of letting webcartoonists draw the ceremony as it occurs, which makes for an experience eerily close to its real-world counterparts: excruciating.
 
posted 3:09 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: The Ormes Society

The Ormes Society, an organization devoted to "supporting black female comic creators and promoting the inclusion of black women in the comics industry as creators, characters and consumers," has launched with a list of founding members and a nice-looking web site. It is named after the legendary Jackie Ormes.
 
posted 2:56 am PST | Permalink
 

 
ICv2.com: Event Comics Dominate January Direct Market Sales Chart

imageThe comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has released its monthly report on sales in the comic book direct market of comic shops and hobby stores, this time for the month of January 2007.

News
Analysis
Top 300 Comic Books
Top 100 Graphic Novels

The ICv2.com is one of those charts derived from taking indexed information from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., using publisher data to supply a real number or multiple real numbers, and then calculating the remaining slots. As multiple discussions in the last month have seen fit to remind, the accuracy of such numbers is greatly in dispute for many reasons, up to and including the pattern of re-orders, particularly for more modest-selling books.

What the numbers do seem to provide is a general snapshot of the direct market marketplace, which once again seems driven by event books -- Marvel's Civil War and DC's 52 -- and those that slip into the top ten or so, with a somewhat steep decline into the stronger recurring series. Some onlookers including this one feel that a market driven by event comics sales isn't as healthy long-term as one driven by a greater number of solid performers in the regular series department, although the market seems devoted to proving us wrong. DC and Marvel have already announced another cycle of event-type comics that should push the phenomenon through the next several months.

cover image from the #5 GN in stores in January
 
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
On Deck: 2007 New York Comic-Con

Although I've bemoaned excesses of its coverage, I don't really hate the New York Comic-Con, whose second show starts this Friday at the Jacob Javits Center. I think conventions are swell, and traditionally so in comics because they have long provided correctives to deficiencies in the overall comics infrastructure. When I was a young man some 20 years ago we enjoyed making the long car trip to the big Chicago event and getting to buy all the comics they weren't carrying in our local funnybook shop, maybe seeing some cartoonists we knew and generally having a good time surrounded by the works we loved and the industry we liked to read about. I imagine the impulse now for many people is roughly the same, even with the Internet providing the primary market corrective for a lot of people. Cons are helpful in a lot of other ways, too: networking, trying to raise on-the-ground word of mouth, consummating on-line friendships, letting off steam, getting feedback, making deals, garnering impressions, earning some money -- the whole ball of creation/consumption wax.

I also think a big New York comics show is a great thing. New York is the heart of American comics publishing, and the home to more cartoonists and comics folk than any other place. It's home to the great comics syndicates and the storied comics magazines and the publishing houses with new comics divisions. Al Hirschfeld drew John Barrymore in New York. Peter Arno strolled to editorial meetings in New York. Kids visited the EC bullpen in New York. Gil Kane held forth over drinks in New York. Jack Kirby walked into Martin Goodman's office in New York. Harvey Kurtzman employed Terry Gilliam and Robert Crumb in New York. The East Village Other made blimps gothic in New York. Marvel staffers with beards wandered around high in New York. People in the RAW studios altered anthology covers in New York. Tony Millionaire wore loud suits and did everything last-minute in New York. A thousand flushed-with-excitement newspaper cartoonists were taken to lunch after meeting their syndicate's salesmen in New York. It's a wonderful place for cartooning.

Finally, I'm glad Reed Exhibitions is doing the show in New York; I prefer them to Wizard for the New York show because while both are essentially mainstream conventions the Reed folks are still more likely to have a considerable programming track and to make artists like Miriam Katin and Megan Kelso a part of things, even if it's secondary in more ways than I'd like to folks like Hayden Panettiere. The Reed people are smart, and I bet they work really hard, and even though I still feel it was completely asinine for anyone to spin last year's screw-ups as anything other than a hugely unfortunate systemic breakdown that socked a lot of people in the gut no matter who worked their way around it, I understand these kinds of things happen, and that such problems are correctable. I'm certain they'll have a great year. More than that, I hope that some readers out there have an encounter with the art form that's sustaining and meaningful, and that at least a few of them experience the high of something special having just happened that takes them all the way home and into the next week. That's what a good convention means.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Killed Cartoons

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David Wallis' book from WW Norton (paperback, 0393329240, $15.95) will receive too much press to push it too far from the beaten path, but comics is Balkanized in a way that some people interested in its stories of non-publication in all forms may not know about it. Wallis wrote a well-received book about killed prose journalism.
 
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FBoFW Was Offered to New Cartoonist

My mom sent me the link to this wire article, which despite its poor choice of source for analysis had a nugget I hadn't heard before: Lynn Johnston at one point offered For Better or For Worse to another, male cartoonist, who graciously declined. Not that the person wasn't right to do so, and I'm no fan of legacy strips in general or in principle, but that is one sweet gig on which to take a pass.
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
More on Lissau/Elder Tour
Stan Lee Exhibit Previewed
Gravett Speaks With Sfar, Waldman
WonderCon Programming Announced
Webcomics Group Descends on NYCC

History
Kevin Church Writes a Letter to Comics Fans

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Cecil Castellucci
Newsarama: Axel Alonso
Wizard: Brian K. Vaughan
Newsarama: Larry Gonick
Newsarama: Matt Hawkins
WorldPress.org: Jean Plantu
Post-Dispatch: Aline Kominsky Crumb

Not Comics
Hollywood, They Love the Comics

Publishing
Comic Strip Makes Learning Fun
Creators Develops Project In Public
Audrey Niffenegger to Return to GNs
More on RealBuzz/Thomas Nelson Deal
TwoMorrows Launches Introspective Series
DC Switches Content on Wonder Woman #5
DC Switches Content on Action Comics #848

Reviews
Tim O'Neil: Various
Shawn Hoke: D-Tales
Sean McCourt: Stagger Lee
Don MacPherson: Mail Vol. 1
Brian Heater: American Elf 2
Brian Heater: Terr'ble Thompson
Geoff Hoppe: Books With Pictures
Augie De Blieck, Jr.: Civil War #7
Hervé St-Louis: Enigma Cipher #1
Al Kratina: Chronicles of Wormwood #1
Leroy Douresseaux: My Dead Girlfriend Vol. 1
Hervé St-Louis: Justice Society of America #3
Hervé St-Louis: Le Sommeil du monstre Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: Samurai: Heaven & Earth Vol. 2 #2

 

 
February 19, 2007


No Kominsky Crumb St. Louis Stop

imageI was just forwarded by a couple of people an e-mail going out from a local bookstore in St. Louis stating that 1) Aline Kominsky Crumb will not appear at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, as scheduled, and that 2) "the French publishing company is no longer in business" which apparently means "there is a very limited supply of Ms. Crumb's book."

Update: The tour stop cancellation was confirmed by the Museum's book-selling partner for the event Left Bank Books; a representative of which described it as a cancellation of the entire tour.

This leaves in question the status of Relie and calls for double-checking the status of the book. A phone call to Need More Love's American publisher MQ Publications has yet to be returned, although there's no indication of any change in book status I can find. The French publisher is Relie, and I don't see anything about their status on-line, although I'm too inept to find a web site for them, to be honest. If anyone out there has word on any element of this, please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Update #2: Everything's cool and the book is great, says American publisher MQ Publications.
 
posted 6:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2007 Glyph Award Nominees

The Glyph Comics Awards, which honor the best in black comics and creators, have announced their 2007 nominees. The ceremony will take place at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, to be held this May 18-19 in Philadelphia. The nominees came from a judges committee consisting of reviewer Johanna Draper Carlson, writer Pam Noles, writer Rich Watson, Publishers Weekly's Calvin Reid, and writer/reviewer Hannibal Tabu.

****

Story of the Year
The American Way, John Ridley, Georges Jeanty & Karl Story
Bluesman Vol. 3, Rob Vollmar & Pablo Callejo
Day 8, Damian Duffy & John Jennings
Earthlight Vol. 1, Stuart Moore & Christopher Schons
Stagger Lee, Derek McCulloch & Shepherd Hendrix

Best Writer
Damian Duffy, Day 8
Derek McCulloch, Stagger Lee
Stuart Moore, Earthlight Vol. 1
John Ridley, The American Way
Rob Vollmar, Bluesman Vol. 3

Best Artist
Kyle Baker, The Bakers
Shepherd Hendrix, Stagger Lee
Jamal Igle, Firestorm
Georges Jeanty, The American Way
Christopher Schons, Earthlight Vol. 1

Best Male Character
Infidel, Astro City: Samaritan
Lem Taylor, Bluesman Vol. 3
Mr. Jenkins, Day 8
New American, The American Way
Stagger Lee, Stagger Lee

Best Female Character
Amo Tanzer, Lucifer's Garden of Verses: Between the Devil and Miles Davis
Evelyn Prescott, Stagger Lee
Ororo, Storm
Sahara, Elephantmen
Thomasina Lindo, Welcome to Tranquility

Rising Star Award
Darryl Hughes & Monique MacNaughton, GAAK
Mark Page, Kana's Island
Felipe Smith, MBQ
Spike, Templar, Arizona
Masheka Wood, What Masheka Did

Best Reprint Publication
Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda, First Second
Krazy & Ignatz 1937-38, Fantagraphics
Nat Turner Encore Edition Vol. 1, Kyle Baker Publishing
Never Made to Last: Stories of Suburban Folklore, Ourobor Books
Tokyo Tribes Vol. 5, TokyoPop

Best Cover
52 Week 14, J.G. Jones
The American Way #2, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story & Randy Mayor
Firestorm #23, Brian Stelfreeze
Stagger Lee, Shepherd Hendrix
Storm #1, Mike Mayhew

Best Comic Strip
Candorville, Darrin Bell
The K Chronicles, Keith Knight
Templar, Arizona, Spike
(th)Ink, Keith Knight
Watch Your Head, Cory Thomas

Fan Award for Best Comic
Black Panther: The Bride, Reginald Hudlin, Scot Eaton & Klaus Janson
Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre, Will Pfeifer & Cliff Chiang
Firestorm #28-32, Stuart Moore, Jamal Igle & Keith Champagne
New Avengers #22, Brian Michael Bendis & Leinil Francis Yu
Storm, Eric Jerome Dickey, David Yardin & Lan Medina and Jay Leisten & Sean Parsons
 
posted 5:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bob Oksner, 1916-2007

imageThe comics artist Bob Oksner, an absolute rock of DC Comics during decades in which that company dominated American mainstream comic books, passed away Sunday evening from pneumonia. He was 90 years old.

A New Jersey native, Oksner entered comics at the cusp of the 1940s, working for the production house Funnies, Inc. He worked for various comics publisher directly, including Martin Goodman's Timely, in 1942. Oksner drew the newspaper comics strip Miss Cairo Jones from 1945 to 1947, for Bell Syndicate and Associated Newspapers. Cairo Jones was Oksner's creation, and was originally male before a syndicate editor suggested the switch. Oksner would later enjoy brief runs on a I Love Lucy strip in the 1950s (for King Features) and another strip of his own creation called Soozi in 1967 (for Publisher News Syndicate with writer Don Weldon); a much longer run as a collaborator on Dondi followed from 1969-1986.

It was upon the folding of Miss Cairo Jones that Oksner began the work for which he is best known, working for Editor Shelly Mayer at DC Comics on an avalanche of humor features, including a number of DC's licensed books from stars (Bob Hope) and popular television shows (Sgt. Bilko). Two of Oksner's straight-up humor comics that have a number of fans despite their limited number of appearances then and since are Angel and the Ape and Stanley and His Monster. He won divisional awards from the National Cartoonists Society for such work in 1960-1961. He moved from humor to romance to superheroes as DC's publishing slate restricted in the 1970s into the 1980s. Both Mark Evanier and Oksner's Lambiek.net entry note he was also an accomplished inker and cover artist in addition to his achievements as writer, creator, and pencil artist.
 
posted 5:23 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Placid Fined 500 Euros For Cartoon

According to a public letter published by ActuaBD.com and put into context by Didier Pasamonik, the cartoonist Placid has been fined 500 Euros dating from a complaint filed by a politician against a 2001 cartoon on the cover of the book Vos Papiers. The cover featured a police character with a pig's snout. Apparently, and I'm always happy for someone to correct me on anything in these stumble-throughs, the author and the publisher were fined as well.

In the letter, Placid describes that he defended himself by presenting multiple examples of visual satire from a variety of respected sources, use of the pig's nose in his own work in a variety of places, and sympathetic art he's done about the police. He also mentions that the fine is problematic because cartoonists are generally poor.

The story becomes more interesting in that the Charlie-Hebdo case, which many saw as a positive sign and a rallying point for Free Speech causes in France, saw a political figure come down on the side of satire's value. This could be seen as a step back, or a double-standard, or even reinforcement for the point that the support Nicolas Sarkozy afforded Charlie-Hebdo really was specific to ongoing presidential politics.
 
posted 5:07 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Criminal Insects

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The illustrator and cartoonist Stuart Immonen, best known for his work on various mainstream titles including Marvel's just-concluded NextWAVE, offers up a 100-edition limited series of three small minis, complete with slipcover. Go here for a look at the covers, ordering information, and more links to content. It's apparently been in the works since 2005.
 
posted 4:42 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Bookscan 2007 Analysis

In case you missed it, prominent retailer and fiery apostle of the comic book direct market Brian Hibbs released his 2007 report on comics Bookscan numbers on Newsarama in the supposedly light Internet activity period of Friday afternoon. You don't want to miss this essential yearly column, especially not this year, Hibbs' best outing yet.

There are two improvements. One, Hibbs has real year-end numbers rather than the last-week-of-the-year numbers he's offered in previous years. Both sets provide cumulative numbers, so it's not like Hibbs was making insane leaps of logic with those books he had, but there was always the likelihood a few books would not chart that last week despite selling tons of copies earlier in the year, eliminating them from the list. Two, Hibbs in his analysis leaves behind a lot of his holding-his-thumb-up math of the "I sell ten copies of this and I know some guys who sell others so really we're talking a lot here" variety.

What's left is an informative piece in an accessible voice breaking down comics' bookstore achievements by category, all based on Bookscan. It's the best of the bookstore measurements: it provides what one imagines is a strong picture of the market's thrust, and snapshots of various usefulness regarding specific books' and types of books' performance. As Dirk Deppey points out at today's Journalista, books from smaller publishers are traditionally thought to be harder to measure by Bookscan because many publish material that is favored by independent bookstores that are poorly represented in Bookscan's sample. Also, today's graphic novels have at track record of selling well in a variety of outlets that aren't covered by Bookscan at all.

If there's one weakness to Hibbs' analysis, it's in his relating it to the Direct Market at all. This yields a few interesting nuggets, such as a few high-profile independent books that appeal to both bookstore and the Direct Market, and a few others that are DM-oriented, and I personally don't mind the idea behind comparing sell-to to sell-through when there's a non-returnable aspect involved. While it does make individual book analysis suspect, because there's no way to account for books that just totally tank in that market, over time companies are interested in sales at whatever point more than whether or not their books find a good home. As long as you keep the comparison in mind, I see how that could be useful.

Generally, though, when Hibbs in his summary statement says the Direct Market is "holding their own," he betrays a lingering mindset of competition for consumer dollars and publisher attention that is better ignored.

I don't believe as Dirk Deppey seems to that Hibbs is creating a total straw man when he seems to assume that some people out there doubt the effectiveness and importance of comics shops. No one on earth has time to track down individual statements and examples of rhetoric now three and four years old, but I remember for instance being in a room when a comics company owner was told by one such advocate that any extra effort at all working with the direct market was "a total waste of time." You can't tell me that sentiment didn't exist. Still, I agree with Dirk I don't think it's a sentiment that anyone invested in actual decision-making at these companies takes seriously. It's not a case that needs to be made. In addition, the only place where the idea existed that arts- and alternative-type comics do outstandingly well in bookstores exists is in the press statements of people hopeful that this would be the case for their comics as well and bad feature articles in the local paper. Just because they remember 1996 doesn't mean alt-comics companies look at 2007 as anything other than a continuing struggle. So Hibbs is popping an already deflated balloon there.

The real contrast between the DM and the bookstore market isn't the part about the numbers but the material that sells in each, and why, and where this new market came from, and the jumpstart it provides in everyone re-thinking what the comics readership looks like. Hibbs has provided a valuable service in describing this to us, and potentially giving us a hedge against the more ridiculous frontiers of hyped bullshit surrounding sales success. But the other stuff is straight-up 2004. I'm bullish on comic shops, too; I would be no matter how the numbers fell out.
 
posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 63rd Birthday, Donald F. Glut!

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posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Daily Cross Hatch Launch

Joining this year's run of aggressive on-line comics site launches is Brian Heater's The Daily Cross Hatch, which has come out of the chute firing with reviews, news and interview on its subject matter of North American alternative and arts comics like Warren Oates at the end of The Wild Bunch.
 
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, William Messner-Loebs!

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posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Really Comics Writing Round-Up

* Matt Madden posts a clever and likely popular entry about connections between the Moomin comic strip and the television show Lost.

* Paul Karasik goes out to eat. (I love Paul Karasik's blog so much I check it every day even though he updates about six times a year.)

* Metabunker surveys the latest in writing about comics, and had a lot better time finding cover jpegs than this site did when it did something similar.

* Joe Matt meditates.

* Gerry Alanguilan ruminates.

* James Kochalka: Phoebe Cates.

* Writer Matt Fraction provides a laugh to Alex de Large.

* Everything Eddie Campbell posts is worth reading.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Gerry Shamray!

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posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Here's a bit more from a student newspaper about a republication of the Danish cartoons in a Cambridge satirical magazine. I'd take it with a grain of salt as to the details: the writing is maddeningly vague at times, and a respondent punks them for a fact-checking error about events that occurred at the paper.

Still, there's been very little reporting on university reprimands for such incidents, up to and including things like suspending a magazine's budget. This piece should also gain enough attention to prompt some this-will-never-go-away speculation.

* The general political rhetoric about Muslims living in Europe? Still super-prickly.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Jim Lawson!

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posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jim Morin Wins 2007 Herblock

The Herb Block Foundation announced Friday that Jim Morin, editorial cartoonist of the Miami Herald, has won this year's Herblock Prize. The prize, given to an editorial cartoonist every year, comes with a $10,000 cash award. Morin will be given the award on April 4 at the Library of Congress. Morin was the 1996 Pulitzer Prize winner, and is one of the great under-appreciated newspaper cartoonists of the last quarter century. He is coming up on his third decade at the Herald. The Herb Block Foundation is in itself one of the better stories that is cartoonist-related; it began after the longtime cartoonist for which it is named died in 2001 leaving behind a massive fortune accrued over a long and distinguished career.
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Local Mega-Con Preview
Bristol's Comics Expo Set
Exhibit Opens at Fayetteville State
Prep for SF Museum Tezuka Exhibit
Santerians: The Art of Joe Quesada
Report from Vermont Cartoonists Exhibit
PA Exhibit Launches with Pekar, Gloeckner Appearances

History
Follow-Up Love For Jack Jackson
Brussels Rules the Comics World
Japan's Defense Ministry's Prince Pickles Profiled

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Christian Slade
Ottawa Sun: Ray Stone
411 Politics: August Pollak
Skullring.org: Bob Fingerman
The Japan Times: Ronald Kelts
Kansas City Star: Brian Selznick

Not Comics
Sammy Perlmutter: Various
Manga Part of Political Research Expenses
MySpace.com Launches Comics Adjunct Thingee
Non-Major Character Ghost Rider Has Big BO Opening

Publishing
Profile of the Teshkeel Group
Chris Mautner on Dark Tower Launch
SF School Comic Criticized, Defended

Reviews
Nik Dirga: American Elf Vol. 2
Don MacPherson: Batman #663
Brandon Daviet: Jack Hightower
Davey C. Jones: Air Gear Vol. 3
Christy Lee SW: Die Todliche Dolis
Michael Harrington: A Cartoonist's Life
Leroy Douresseaux: My Dead Girlfriend Vol. 1

 

 
February 18, 2007


CR Sunday Magazine

All (Well, Some) About Aline

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Gary Esposito steps in with a first-person photo account of Wednesday's A Valentine's Evening With The Crumbs, an event at the New York Public Library in support of cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb's new book.

If you're not up on Aline's work as much as you are, say, Robert Crumb's, here are a few links to get you started.

* Wikipedia entry
* Lambiek.net entry
* selection of pages at Adam Baumgold gallery
* MSNBC interview (2005)
* Nextbook podcast interview (2007)
* cover featured at Heeb
* material prepared for the NYPL event (PDF)
* Anne Ishii's report from the event
* web site supporting new book, including video blog

The appearances in support continue this week with a stop in St. Louis on Tuesday (see the preceding link for full information) and an appearance on a powerhouse panel (Katin, Bechdel, Kelso) this Friday at 6:30 at the New York Comic-Con hosted by Heidi MacDonald.

*****

Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: Adam Cohen promises big changes at CR favorite MOSE

* go, look: pocket cartoon course

* best diet advice ever

* most people knew about this fantastic Drew Friedman feature before I did

* go, read: Evan Dorkin on I Love You, Beth Cooper cover; includes links to other coverage

*****

Go, Look: Kevin Nowlan Archive

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I linked to a few Kevin Nowlan pieces of art earlier this week, and received several e-mails pointing to this massive archive.

*****

First Thought Of The Day
I wonder if that actor in The Queen really looks like Tony Blair, or if as an American I'm not accustomed enough to Tony Blair that it just seems that way. If that's the case, I wonder if people in, say, France see Bruce Greenwood or Martin Sheen playing JFK and come out saying, "Wow, that guy was totally like their President Kennedy."
 
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February 17, 2007


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 10 to February 16, 2007:

1. Playboy announces page by page digitally-scanned DVD of its entire archives, another major magazine and repository for 20th Century comics greatness to use the National Geographic exception to come out with an archived edition without having to pay contributors, including all those cartoonists.

2. Fantagraphics loses its motion to dismiss a case brought by Harlan Ellison.

3. A Complete Pogo series designed by Jeff Smith and covering roughly two years a volume will start appearing in October of this year, from Fantagraphics.

Winners Of The Week
Pogo fans.

Losers Of The Week
Nearly everyone that continues to be touched by the poisonous political shenanigans of 2005-2006.

Quote Of The Week
"I was really afraid; I was totally scared that I might be attacked by the prisoners." -- Yemeni editor Mohammed al-Asaadi on his harrowing ordeal in jail during the Danish Cartoons troubles of 2006.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
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February 16, 2007


Conversational Euro-Comics: A Few Words on The Angouleme Essentials 01

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By Bart Beaty:

At Angouleme this year, eight books (and one fanzine) won the major prizes, now known as The Essentials. I will review each of these, save one: Charles Burns' Black Hole. While I think that this is a great book -- indeed, I even bought one of Burns' draft sketches at SPX last year and have it framed on my dining room wall -- I have nothing to say about it in relationship to European comics other than to offer the completely useless name-dropping fact that I ate dinner with Charles at Angouleme this year, but barely spoke to him because we were at opposite ends of the table. Plus I assume you've all read it, and if you haven't please go do that rather than surfing the web.

Two other of the Essentials I've already discussed: Le Photographe by Guibert and Lefebvre, and Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme (also at the above mentioned dinner, and probably as good an amateur guitarist as you're ever likely to meet). So, today I want to talk about fourth of The Essentials: Pourquoi j'ai tuee Pierre by Alfred and Olivier Ka.

As has been widely noted, the prizes this year were not favorable to the biggest French publishers and the traditional French album. Pourquoi j'ai tuee Pierre (Why I Killed Pierre) is the book that comes closest to filling the jury's obligation to pick a "mainstream" winner. This is the book that fell closest to the commercial end of the spectrum in the awards, although to call it a traditional album would be woefully inaccurate.

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The book tells the autobiographical story of its writer, Olivier Ka. The son of free-thinking parents, Olivier was sexually assaulted by a priest at a summer camp when he was 12 years old. Scarred by this experience, Ka recounts not only the impact that it had on him as a youth, but also a trip with artist Alfred to the scene of the crime wherein they meet and confront Pierre as adults. This is heavy, serious material that could easily fall into movie-of-the-week cliches but which is kept well above that level through the mobilization of formal elements.

Alfred, who is perhaps best known for his children's comic series Octave (Delcourt), is an interesting choice for this book. His default visual style is highly slick and charming, as befits a good children's book illustrator. This lends the early chapters a comforting, light tone that draws the reader into the particularities of Olivier's world. When things turn ugly, however, Alfred is easily able to shift visual gears, and it is the choices that are made in these sequences that make the book work.

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Specifically, the scenes of the assault themselves are drawn in an entirely different register from the beginning of the book, with thick, black brush strokes replacing the previously tight lines. As the scene continues, the images become increasingly abstract, representing not the physical actions but the emotional reactions that dominate the scene. Further, a shift in lettering dramatically emphasizes the sense of panic that has overtaken our young protagonist.

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Later in the book, when Olivier is an adult, a visually arresting scene finds him suffering an anxiety attack at the thought of entering a church for the wedding of a friend. Here Alfred turns Olivier's world literally on its side, with garish colors and broken figures communicating his sense of panic. A scene in which the artists drive to the summer camp is told through a series of low-grade photographs (perhaps from a camera phone?), and the encounter between Pierre and Olivier (which Alfred does not see, and so does not draw) is communicated in a long series of pages featuring only two landscape panels, each of which appears to be a Photoshop-manipulated photograph taken on that day.

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While none of these techniques is particularly new in comics, what makes them work is the way that they exist in relation to the highly traditional and cartoony imagery that dominates the first half of the book. By shifting visual gears so aggressively, the artists bring the psychological effect of the events of the book firmly to life in a way that a comic using a single visual register would totally fail to accomplish.

This is an interesting book all around. Not an easy read because of its subject matter, it is nonetheless one of the more interesting examples of recent confessional autobiography. While it doesn't compare to a book like Anders Nilsen's Don't Go Where I Can't Follow (a book I consider to be a minor masterpiece), it is well worth reading and is the type of thing that would've gathered a lot of attention here had it been published in English rather than French. Hardly the most "mainstream" choice, but these were hardly the most mainstream of awards.

Next time: The fifth and final runner-up, Frederik Peeters' Lupus

*****

Pourquoi j'ai tuee Pierre, Olivier Ka and Alfred, Delcourt, 111 pages, 2756003808 (ISBN), September 2006.

*****

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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Happy 52nd Birthday, Len Strazewski!

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

This editorial currently making the wire rounds looks at a key point in the recent Charlie-Hebdo hearings -- the reading of a statement of support from Nicolas Sarkozy -- and interprets it in the light of that country's current presidential campaign. That's a stretch when it comes to comics, but I think it's worth noting the echoes upon echoes.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, John Totleben!

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Go, Read: Hideshi Hino Reviews

From Brigid Alverson comes word of a site doing multiple reviews of the cartoonist Hideshi Hino's work, and providing some context for same. I really admire Hino's work, and plan on reading through the entire thing during my lunch break.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Tim Bradstreet!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Warren Ellis!

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Go, Read: Harlan Ellison Statement on CR’s Coverage of Ellison/FBI Lawsuit

I received a couple of e-mails this morning passing along a web site statement by Harlan Ellison regarding this site's coverage of the Ellison/FBI lawsuit, which from the e-mails and from the statement itself it seems that Harlan Ellison would like his statement posted to this site. You can find that here.
 
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Quick hits
History
Classics Illustrated's Legacy

Industry
Persian Press Outlook on French Comics

Interviews/Profiles
Daily Vidette: Acme Comics
Sydney Morning Herald: Matt Coyle

Publishing
JT Waldman Featured at Book Club
LA Times on Recent Archie Makeover
Mister Cartoon Releases The Lost Angel

Reviews
Jog: Batman #663
Dave Carter: Mr. Big
Paul O'Brien: X-Men Annual #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Hey, Wait...
Jason Mott: Spider-Man: Reign #2
Hervé St-Louis: Black Panther #22
Hervé St-Louis: Black Panther #23
Hervé St-Louis: Black Panther #24
Leroy Douresseaux: Good Luck Vol. 1
Paul O'Brien: X-Men: Phoenix -- Warsong #5
Hervé St-Louis: The Transformers -- Escalation #1
Hervé St-Louis: The Transformers -- Escalation #2
Hervé St-Louis: The Transformers -- Escalation #3
Johanna Draper Carlson: Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol. 2
 

 
February 15, 2007


If I Were In Portland, I’d Go To This

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Fantagraphics Announces Complete Pogo; Jeff Smith to Design Series

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Hey, it's good, old-fashioned publishing news!

Rumored to be in the planning stages last summer, Fantagraphics has announced it will re-launch a Complete Pogo series with cartoonist Jeff Smith as series and book-by-book designer. Smith is known to be a great admirer of Pogo creator Walt Kelly.

The new books will be released on a roughly annual basis -- Fantagraphics' Eric Reynolds said the rate of release could conceivably speed up in future years if events warrant -- with each book holding approximately two years worth of material. Fantagraphics had previously published 11 soft-cover volumes covering five and a half years of the strip, material which will be subsumed into the new collections.

Pogo one of the most beloved newspaper comic strips of the 20th Century and a top ten all-time comic for many critics. It is certainly one of the two or three prettiest strips ever published.

This announcement is interesting for a few reasons: one, it adds to Fantagraphics' roster of high-profile strip projects; two, Pogo is one of the few strips I think could have been successfully published in that complete slip-cased format, which I would imagine is now off the table; three, the major push behind the strip should allow for the resources and access to be applied that circumvent one problem with post-War strips like Pogo: finding re-publishable originals from which to shoot the new copies, like syndicate copies, or really good newspaper copies. It's been my experience that sometimes with late 1940s and 1950s strips a lot of papers ran them occasionally shaved off at the end or on the bottom. And don't forget reason four, which isn't very interesting but worthy of a note: over the next several years we get to read Pogo in nice-looking volumes.

The first volume of the new series will appear October 2007.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* this article says the Charlie-Hebdo trial has the benefit of allowing people to set the record straight as to the events of last year.

* Just in case you've been reading about last year's Danish Cartoons Controversy and wondered if there were any place in the world where some weird aspect of this hadn't penetrated, you can rest assured there's pockets of madness still swirling around out there, such as this group of Pakistani schoolchildren disappointed their visitor won't agree to murder an editor she knows that republished the cartoons. I'm just imagining the sound we made when I was a kid when our teachers canceled a fifth-grade field trip because of weather, only with murdering people involved.

* the first terror-related conviction in Denmark's history.
 
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OTBP: Three Very Small Comics Vol. 3

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Three Very Small Comics is Tom Gauld's excellent series of tiny mini-comics gathered into a tiny envelope. The latest is newly available through the Cabanon Press web site.

A bit closer to home and therefore on paths slightly less beaten is the Buenaventura Press release of Hunter and Painter. Trust me: you want that book, too.
 
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Today’s Ellison/FBI Suit Update: CBLDF Replies, Fantagraphics Defense Fund

In an e-mail, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein clarified the organization's position on the Harlan Ellison v. Fantagraphics lawsuit:
"It's inaccurate to say that the CBLDF declined to help Fantagraphics in the civil suit it is currently waging with Harlan Ellison. We were unable to offer monetary support for Fantagraphics' case but did offer varieties of non-monetary support.

"Our board of directors determined that the case did not meet the threshold for us to offer monetary support, in accordance with our Bylaws. The Fund reserves its limited monetary resources for the defense of cases that impose an unjust restraint upon the First Amendment rights pertaining to content within the comics medium. Generally the Fund's monetary resources are applied to criminal cases involving First Amendment issues directly pertaining to comics, and that have severe precedent bearing upon the sale or creation of works within the comics medium. In the rare instances where we have become monetarily involved in a civil case, those cases involved restraints upon the First Amendment rights relating to comics content and bore severe precedent implications on the Free Speech rights of others using the medium. The legal matters at issue in this case have more direct bearing upon journalistic prose than they do upon the comics medium that we are explicitly chartered to defend.

"While we were unable to extend monetary support to Fantagraphics, we did offer to assist the company in a variety of non-monetary ways. We offered Fantagraphics assistance in finding counsel, which they declined. We also offered to assist in finding organizations that may be able to assist them financially, and that's something we're still working on. Most Free Expression organizations have tight budgets and, like the Fund, are principally involved in defense of cases involving government rather than civil actions. We hope to be able to connect Fantagraphics with some leads that can help them pay for their case, but as yet have not found any organizations with the ability to do so.

"Finally, we have offered the possibility of participating in an amicus (Friend of the Court) brief in the future if the need should arise and if the specific legal issues pertain to the First Amendment concerns we are chartered to defend. Amicus briefs tend to fall into the category of non-monetary support for us, and are an area where we have actively weighed in on First Amendment matters that do not explicitly involve the comics medium, but do involve precedent issues that could affect the rights of those using the medium."

"Naturally, we hope that both parties are able to resolve this case without further litigation. However, the Fund is not in the position to pay for a case that does not have a direct bearing upon defending the First Amendment rights of comic art. Should Fantagraphics ever find one of its comics titles under assault from a local government, we will gladly step in to defend their First Amendment rights vigorously, as we have always done."

At The Comics Journal Message Board, Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth announced that a legal defense fund for the defendants was being established and would be announced soon.

This entry was written and placed by David P. Welsh as a favor to this site, without editorial oversight or intrusion.

Harlan Ellison responds to this article.
 
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Happy 68th Birthday, William Van Horn!

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My Usual Apologies To Dan Vado

When you're driving a car that is North American comics industry coverage, the blindspot when you look left seems to be NBM and the blindspot when you look right seems to be Slave Labor Graphics, two companies that for whatever reason up to and including malfeasance on the part of reporters like me go vastly under-covered.

Here's the latest example: two interesting stories about Slave Labor I haven't covered yet. First, an admission on the part of Dan Vado that their Disney licensing deal my end in 2008 without the company being able to make a success of it. Vado's explanation bravely includes his company's difficulties in re-orienting themselves to a different production model as well as the hugely conservative nature of today's comics market. Second, SLG is about six weeks into the launch of its eyemelt.com digital comics site, which is still modest but seems extremely sturdy thus far. A company like Slave Labor, with its lack of market penetration and its tendency to publish in very specific niches at time, seems a perfect candidate for a web-based effort like this one.
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Art Spiegelman!

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Tony Twist Accepts $5M Settlement

Tony Twist, who won a $15 million judgment in 2004 for having his name used on a mob-like character in Todd McFarlane's Spawn, has accepted a $5 million settlement from the Arizona court dealing with McFarlane's publishing company's bankruptcy, a move the cartoonist and toy mogul made following the decision and two failed appeals. Twist had earlier won a $24.5 million award, but that was later thrown out. The settlement ends an almost decade-long legal conflict.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Matt Groening!

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Go, Bookmark: Sites Worth Your While

* Tom Devlin at Drawn and Quarterly points to Stripper's Guide, a blog featuring old and obscure comics efforts.

* Longtime Internet presence and comics pro Jeff Parker has moved his frequently entertaining blog into his main site.

* Kevin Melrose is going to make Comics, Covered his signature on-line presence; Melrose has a particular interest in comics cover design.
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Jim Bush
King Book Release Report
Matt Madden in Lyon and Paris
Comics Dominate WonderCon Programming
Syndicates Announce NYCC Cartoonist Panel

Industry
Tom Brevoort Writes About Beginning of Career

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Matt Fraction
Newsarama: Peter David
The Guardian: Simone Lia
Newsarama: Jamie S. Rich

Not Comics
My Ultimate Nightmare
IFEX Take on Zimbabwe Bullet Situation

Publishing
SFister Moves to Chronicle
Site Launched To Support The Pajama Diaries
Wendy Pini to Take on New Project at Go! Comi
Jim Valentino Returns to Autobiographical Comic Books

Reviews
Douglas Wolk: Ninja
SFisters: Death Note
Donielle Ficca: Aegis
David Welsh: Various
Greg Burgas: Various
Chloe: To Terra Vol. 1
Jog: Cartoon Workshop/Pig Tales
Joamette Gil: From Far Away #14
Jenni Moody: Tail of the Moon Vol. 2
Jenni Moody: Tail of the Moon Vol. 3
Patti Martinson: Crimson Hero Vol. 4
Dorothea Cantero: Red River Vol. 16
Anita Olin: 12 Reasons Why I Love Her
Katherine Keller: Welcome to Tranquility #2
Suzette Chan: Violet Miranda: Girl Pirate #3
Margaret O'Connell: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1
 

 
February 14, 2007


This Isn’t A Library: New and Notable Releases to the Comics Direct Market

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Here are a few books that jump out at me from this week's list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America. I might not buy all of the following, but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick them up, potentially annoying my retailer:

OCT062179 ASTONISHING X-MEN #20 $2.99

I imagine that if you're really into X-Men comic books and follow them every week, then the glacial pace, old-fashioned plot-lines and irregular publishing schedule might put too much pressure on the material for it to entertain you. However, if you're an adult five years on either side of writer Joss Whedon's age who wants a slicker version of the comics that you read when you were 12 years old, and you're the kind of person that stumbles into a comics shop three or four times a year, this is totally the superhero comic book for you. This issue: extra pluckiness.

NOV062285 AVENGERS EARTHS MIGHTIEST HEROES II #6 (OF 8) $3.99

I like writer Joe Casey and I really liked mid- to late-1960s Marvel comic books when I was a kid -- my memories of the sixth grade are inked by Tom Palmer -- so this would be something I'd definitely pick up and look at.

NOV063955 BANANA FISH VOL 18 TP $9.99

One of the few manga series coming out this week I've heard of. Plus, you know, Salinger fan. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this was initially sold primarily as a mature-readers gang story and is now pushed at least in part for the attractiveness and undefined relationships of its leads. Like The Outsiders.

OCT061867 CASANOVA #7 (MR) $1.99

Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba's 1960s-style attractive and intricately detailed spy and adventure comic book (not-really-a) send-up starts its second major storyline with this issue. If you couldn't get through that last sentence, you may not have the focus to hang with Casanova's more complex than usual narratives, some of which feels intentional and some of which feels like the typical, baroque end result of subverting the traditional use of linear action transitions and staging with interior narratives and multiple story points. The cheaper, 16-page format benefits writer Fraction, whose weakest area seems to be story structure.

NOV061852 GODLAND #16 (NOTE PRICE) $0.60

Like I said, I like Joe Casey and this comics gets weirder and weirder with every couple of issues. And the price is right. If I had a spinner rack, this comic book would go in my spinner rack, along with Air Ace and the Dell not-monster comics.

OCT063407 KRAZY & IGNATZ 1939-1940 BRICK STUFFED WITH MOOMBINS $19.95

Hey, it's a volume of the greatest comic of all time in full color with exquisite art direction. Really, this is the only comic you have to have out of this entire pile.

OCT060029 LITTLE LULU VOL 14 QUEEN LULU TP $9.95

I don't ever hear anything about this series, which is weird given the affection most cartoonists and comics readers have for the source material.

OCT063411 NEUROTIC HC (MR) $19.95

A series of intense drawings, some shocking, most with a sexual element and all very interesting, by the mega-successful magazine illustrator John Cuneo. One of those books that publishing Peanuts makes possible for Fantagraphics. Not that they wouldn't publish this before, but it might sit at the end of a forthcoming projects list for six years before we saw it.

OCT060031 NEXUS ARCHIVES VOL 5 HC $49.95

I don't have any desire to upgrade from the comic books of this material that my brother I bought a hundred years ago, but Steve Rude's art is attractive enough that anyone without the original funnies might consider making this a purchase. As I recall, this isn't some of the stronger material, with a lot of false-start soap opera developments that fail to cohere.

NOV062314 NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE #12 $2.99

Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's funny and well-drawn superhero book -- Marvel's best this half-decade -- comes to an end on a trade-friendly multiple. Buy it now or you'll be buying the back issue in a few years as part of a set to get you over that $50 mark at mycomicshop.com, after hearing it was under-appreciated and under-read.

DEC063271 REX LIBRIS #7 $2.95

I'm about four issues behind on James Turner's library-adventure comic, but this is as odd a regular series that's going right now.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite there being an official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you.

If I didn't list your new comic, it's not because I missed it by accident or that our tastes differ but because I hate you and your artistic endeavors.
 
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Happy Valentine’s Day

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February 13, 2007


Yet More On Monday’s FBI/Ellison Ruling

Gary Groth responded to Monday's ruling in the Ellison v. Fantagraphics litigation via e-mail:
"We were disappointed but not shocked by the ruling. Courts are reluctant to dismiss suits without their getting a hearing, so we understood that we had a high hurdle... That said, we have no doubt that we will prevail on the merits."

In a message at The Comics Journal Message Board, Groth revealed that the defendants would not be receiving support from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:
"The CBLDF [will] not help us. Their reason: What Ellison is suing over is not [technically] a comic.

"In other words, even though it's a book published by a comics publisher, the book itself is about comics, the book contains comics, and the book will be widely sold in comics specialty [stores] next to graphic novels -- the CBLDF will not help us because what Ellison is suing over is prose."

Groth noted in a follow-up e-mail that legal fees "are a cause for concern," particularly in light of the CBLDF's decision, and that Fantagraphics is considering various options to deal with the expense.

The defendants have 30 days to determine what their next legal move will be, and subsequent hearings have yet to be scheduled.

This entry was written and placed by David P. Welsh as a favor to this site, without editorial intrusion.
 
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OTBP: The System of Comics

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It can't be a good sign as far as getting it out there that I can't find the cover on-line, but the English-language translation of the above book, apparently one of the seminal works about comics, seems to be available now from the University of Mississippi Press.
 
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Everything’s Coming Up Rick Veitch

The veteran cartoonist turned pioneering comics web presence has three projects ready to go for 2007, building on last year's Abraxas and the Earthman re-release and Can't Get No original graphic novel.

image* a collection of painted comics from EPIC Magazine called Shiny Beasts that Veitch himself will release in April; this includes the well-regarded pieces "Shipmates" and "Love Doesn't Last Forever."

* a "remastered" version of his 1984 effort for Marvel's graphic novel line, Heartburst, also from Veitch's King Hell Press and due late this year.

* a new Vertigo series, Army@Love, which comes out starting next month. Veitch talks with PWCW about that series here.

What's more interesting than usual about this slate of books is how Veitch is blending the work he controls, now commercially viable again in book form, with mainstream company work to put forward a kind of one-artist continuity. This isn't always easy, as a lot of cartoonists, artists and writers that work in various corners of the comics field will have works that make you go, "I didn't know that was one their books."
 
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Neil Gaiman Reports DreamHaven Burgled; Your Patronage Appreciated

The author Neil Gaiman writes that Minneapolis' DreamHaven Books, the retailer that runs the NeilGaiman.net portal in addition to a more generally-oriented storefront and mail order business, was broken into and had its stock disrupted in a way that puts the store in some financial jeopardy. He encourages your patronage, as do I.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Gordon Purcell!

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source: CBG
 
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Editorial Cartoonist Serving in Iraq Decries The Way Peers Use Imagery

Editor & Publisher has a story up about an editorial cartoonist on active duty in Iraq going after his peers for the way they use various images near and dear to the soldiers currently serving, from flag-draped coffins to the soldiers themselves.

This interests me for a few reasons. One, it doesn't seem to me there are a lot of editorial cartoons about Iraq given its importance as an historical moment, which would have made me guess that a criticism like this one would talk about lack of engagement rather than respectful engagement. Second, while it's not at all odd for soldiers to be resentful or critical of how certain elements of their efforts are depicted by cartoonists, it's eyebrow-raising that a fellow cartoonist wouldn't extend a certain amount of understanding for how cartoonists assemble their work. Third, the cartoonist is anonymous, which is understandable, but given that there was to my memory exactly one well-circulated story about a cartoonist being called up, it's really unfair to that person if this is another party going on the record.
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Marshall Ramsey
Con For Kids Scheduled For April

Industry
Kids, They Like The Manga
Big Brother Winner Sponsors Library's GN Section

Interviews/Profiles
PWCW: Eric Powell
Medford Transcript: Harrison's

Not Comics
Ron Hogan Looks at Toys
More Comics as Spur to Reading
Washington Honors Bob McCausland
Japan Continues Japan Cool Promotion
Dayton Student Comic Book = Death Threat?
Jamaica Still Discussing Editorial Cartoon Propriety

Publishing
PWCW: Growth at Del Rey
Brad Guigar Celebrates Seven Years of Dailies

Reviews
Julie Rosato: Bond(z) Vol. 1
Suzette Chan: Gumby #2
Patrick Skelly: Walking Dead
Katherine Keller: Criminal #4
Ginger Mayerson: Jonah Hex #12
Ginger Mayerson: Jonah Hex #13
Ginger Mayerson: Jonah Hex #14
Wolfen Moondaughter: Hack/Slash: Slice Hard
Wolfen Moondaughter: Nightwolf: The Price #2
Wolfen Moondaughter: Nightwolf: The Price #3
Don MacPherson: Conan and the Midnight God #1
Jay Rooney: Opening Lines, Pinky Probes and L-Bombs
Katherine Keller: Red Sonja: She-Devil With a Sword Annual #1
 

 
If I Were In SF, I’d Go To This

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Go, Read: Mohammed al-Asaadi and the Yemen Observer: One Year Later

"I don't think that we were stupid, but rather, that we were too rational at the wrong moment."

Former Yemen Observer Editor-in-Chief Mohammed al-Asaadi, currently a fellow at Syracuse University, talks about the closure of his newspaper and his own jailing during last year's cartoons controversy swirling around reactions to the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed in a Danish newspaper in Fall 2005.

This may be the most compelling thing I've read on the subject of the Danish cartoons, and I urge you to read it.
 
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Go, Read: Munoz/Sampayo Interview

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More On Monday’s Ellison/FBI Ruling

At Journalista, Dirk Deppey has provided a link to the ruling from yesterday's motion-to-strike hearing in the Harlan Ellison v. Fantagraphics, Inc., et al lawsuit. The Hon. Audrey B. Collins did not find the defense's anti-SLAPP arguments -- that Ellison's suit was effectively an attempt "to chill the defendant's exercise of First Amendment rights" -- sufficiently persuasive:
"The principal thrust or substance of the Plaintiff's [Ellison's] defamation case arises from the Defendants' [Fantagraphics, Gary Groth and Kim Thompson's] published statements regarding Plaintiff's propensity to 'wheedle' or 'scheme' out of paying his legal bills in the prior litigation. These statements were not made in connection with an issue under consideration by a judicial body and are therefore not protected activity under Section 425.16, subdivision (e) (2)...

and
"Defendants' allegedly defamatory statements were also not made in connection with an issue of public interest under Section 425.16, subdivision (e) (4). Defendants argue that Plaintiff's interaction with his counsel and co-defendant during the prior litigation should be considered a matter of public interest because it was a well-known lawsuit involving a well-known author. That is not enough."

While Collins recognizes the broad interpretation of the concept of public interest contained in the Anti-SLAPP statute,
"Recognizing an issue of public interest on the facts here would be an even greater stretch of the concept of 'public interest' and is unwarranted."

Collins denies the defendants' motion to dismiss Ellison's Right of Publicity claim for essentially the same reasons. The ruling left the question of the relative merits of Ellison's suit to be determined in future legal proceedings.

This entry was written and placed by David P. Welsh as a favor to this site, without editorial intrusion.
 
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Go, Read: Phil Foglio Profiled at CBR

imageThe American mainstream focused news and commentary site Comic Book Resources features a nice profile of the cartoonist Phil Foglio. As popular in gaming circles as he is among comics fans, Foglio is one of cartooning's great survivors of the last three decades. The focus of the CBR piece is on Foglio's business model of free on-line material driving fans to print trade paperbacks. This model makes a lot of sense for someone like Foglio. As I understand it, the serial comics business had ceased to be a cost-effective effort in and of themselves, so if they were reduced to a function that drove people to the more profitable trades, why not move that function on-line, where publishing serial work is essentially free? It seems to have worked well for Foglio.

A nice thing about the profile is that Foglio is careful to point out that his situation was more or less ideally suited to the move; that certain strategies benefit certain creators to the extent they do because of a series of factors and not just the overwhelming awesomeness of one approach applicable to everyone is not something that always gets brought up when people discuss revenue models.
 
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Happy 70th Birthday, Prince Valiant!

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The baddest dude ever to sport delicate features and a bad haircut, the always magnificently drawn Prince Valiant began serving the round table seventy years ago today. Click through the image for a better view of the above panel, one seared into the memory of millions of kids reading newspaper comics back in the day, the comic-strip equivalent of Wolverine in a sewer. Even the next week designation is badass!
 
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Why MAD Only Sort-Of Counts in the Page By Page Digital Transfer Story

Yesterday I wrote about plans for a complete digital scanning of Playboy to be released in digital form, which would include the cartoons, and does not include additional payment for the cartoonists (or the writers or photographers). As I mentioned yesterday, this has set Creators Rights me and Greater Cultural Good me into tilting camera, choking-throats battle with one another like Lou Antonio and Frank Gorshin on Star Trek.

imageSeveral of you wrote in to note that while I include a recent scanning of The New Yorker as a similar project, I didn't include the MAD compilations Totally MAD (1999) and Absolutely MAD (2006). A few asked why.

It's because they come from a slightly different place. I'll do the apology part first, though. I should have mentioned the MAD releases because they fit into my general ethical objection to re-releasing work in complete form without paying the artists and other creative folk for the honor. So yes, MAD did what at least one part of me would consider a bad thing, too, and no one would blame any of those artists for feeling screwed.

However, it's always been my understanding that the MAD efforts were based just as much as or more on the assumption that William Gaines was buying all the rights, even unstated ones, and that this was understood even by those artists working with the magazine after this stopped being the official case in the early '90s, than it was that page by page archiving came with special protection. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty certain the makers of the MAD efforts left out material they know they didn't have rights to. The New Yorker and Playboy efforts are different in that they presume permission at least in part based on legal outcomes having to do with presentational format, an outcome of litigation surrounding a peer to that initial MAD effort, namely National Geographic. If more magazines do this, they'll be working off the latter model, not the former.

But yes, I do consider the MAD material one of the primary repositories for excellent 20th Century comics-making. It may even be underrated as one.
 
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Go, Protest: Save Blecky Yuckerella!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Jim Hanley's Universe at NYCC
Chris Ware to Speak in Nebraska

Industry
Ted Rall: Scripps Howard Judge
Guy Gilchrist Takes Apprentices
Celina Paquette Joins Penny-Farthing Press
Criminal Charges Loom for Amateur Comics-Makers?

Interviews/Profiles
Wizard: Wes Molebash
Sequential Tart: Neil Kleid
Sequential Tart: Steve Barr
Sequential Tart: Todd Nauck
Connecticut Post: Al Scaduto
Sequential Tart: Mike Bullock
Sequential Tart: Steve Leialoha
Sequential Tart: James Roberts
Don MacPherson: Strongarm #1
Sequential Tart: Yamila Abraham

Not Comics
Vote Early, Vote Persepolis

Publishing
Comics Campaign Fliers
Hostage Taking as Career Move
You Have to Love the Expression Spotty Little Boys

Reviews
Bill Sherman: First Moon
Mariko Kato: Japanamerica
Don MacPherson: Kid Kosmos
Max Loh: The Art of Fushigi Yugi

 

 
February 12, 2007


Motion To Dismiss Harlan Ellison Lawsuit Against Fantagraphics Has Been Denied

At his message board, Harlan Ellison provided an update on today's U.S. District Court hearing on a motion to dismiss his lawsuit against Fantagraphics, Gary Groth, and Kim Thompson, filed by the defendants:
"We went to court today. The court could either kick my ass into the street and I would be in the path of Groth's attorneys seeking costs... in the hundreds of thousands of dollars... which I don't have... or...

"WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"The case proceeds. After more than 30 years of putting up with Groth and Kim Thompson and Fantagraphics' calumny..."

The motion was heard in the Central District of California courtroom of the Hon. Audrey B. Collins. Here are the relevant documents: the defense's motion to strike the suit, and the plaintiff's response.

[this article will be updated later this evening]

This entry was written and placed by David P. Welsh as a favor to this site, without editorial intrusion.
 
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Playboy Announces Page by Page DVD

Playboy Enterprises has announced an ambitious plan to produce all 600-plus issues of its publication on six DVD releases, each spotlighting a decade in the men's magazine long existence. As the article notes, the project with Bond Digital Publishing will result in 115,880 pages of scanning, pages that include work from cartooning greats such as Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Eldon Dedini, Phil Interlandi, Jules Feiffer and Shel Silverstein.

imageWhy this is comics news is because Playboy is pursuing this project using the page by page method of presentation, which means that as an historical presentation of the magazine's publishing history the writers, photographers and cartoonists whose work is in those pages do not have to be compensated for having their work presented in another medium. Whether or not such republication serves an historical function, and is a greater good for the culture, or whether this is a way for publishers to do an end-around on the rights of artists to control their work -- well, that's the question.

I wish had an answer. Frankly, I'm torn. On the one hand, as someone who writes about cartooning I benefit from these presentations in a major way. I'm also someone who believes in the limits to copyright that returns great works to the general culture rather than keeping them yoked to the money-making needs of some group or organization, even a benignly-operated one. Culturally important work being made available to a lot of people is a good thing. I certainly believe in Fair Use (note the Sokol cartoon), which grants republication rights to outside agencies in a certain way that serves a greater good; I have to admit there could be other benefits to having this work disseminated under outside control, even if I don't like them.

On the other hand, I wouldn't look forward to my own work in the Comics Journal being collected this way, which I assume would be Fantagraphics' right were they to do so in a page by page format. I didn't write any of those articles and reviews thinking they would be available in electronic form, and a lot of them I did with the idea that I would get to control that aspect of the work. In almost every circumstance I favor the rights of living artists to control what's done with their work, even if they do so in a way that's counter-intuitive or even harmful. This makes me against the assumption argument of scanning comics as doing a commercial favor for the artist; I think the artist decides that. I'm not sure Playboy presents a compelling enough argument to cause me to step away from that principle.

This isn't over. Playboy's entry into this market marks the second great repository of 20th Century American cartooning to come out in this form. Bond Digital worked with The New Yorker on a similar, well-received package. A third should follow: the current owners of the National Lampoon announced their intention to pursue such a product back when they assumed control over that company's holdings.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* although it's only a side remark and not the main subject of this article, apparently a Canadian magazine has been "called before the Alberta Human Rights Commission to answer questions about its decision to publish the Danish Muhammad cartoons."

* although this article in the Yemen Times asks you not to be pessimistic, it points out how the Danish Cartoons could provide a kidney punch to the improvement of press freedoms even in those countries where things otherwise looked to be going pretty well.

* this article seems intellectually sloppy to me, and not just because the French prosecutor came down on the other side in resounding fashion what I'm guessing is a couple of days after the Sunday feature-style article was filed. I don't think its examples are exact, and it's hard to prove a trend with inexact examples. Still, if you're a free speech advocate, the general thrust of reactions to the Danish Cartoons controversy have probably engendered something between slight dismay to outright horror.

* the ADL says that a lot of people think the Jews are responsible for the whole magilla.

* in I should hope not news, a British college student responsible for one of the images running in the student paper will not face police charges, it was announced Friday. I hadn't heard of this before this article, and I'm glad to have avoided the months of nausea it would have caused me.
 
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Go, Read: Jose Munoz Appreciation

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Paul Gravett and Oscar Zarate praise and discuss the Angouleme Grand Prix winner.
 
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Much Love For Old-Timey Comicking

* Profile of profiler of Kin Hubbard and Abe Martin

* article about satiric drawings in 18th Century London, their distribution and print runs

* the great Steve Bell looks at the even greater William Hogarth, on the occasion of an exhibit at the Tate
 
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February 11, 2007


Go, Look: Charity By Numbers

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In addition to clicking through the image, the cartoonist Tom Neeley talks about it here.
 
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Joe Edwards, 1921-2007

Joe Edwards, an artist from comics' initial period of great popularity perhaps best known for his creation "Li'l Jinx" and the comic of the same name in which she starred, died on February 9 at age 85.

imageAfter being educated in art and following a brief career in animation, Edwards caught on with Dell and Timely during the early 1940s, a period known for the American comic book's initial infatuation with funny animal comic books. His work at MLJ, the company that would later become Archie, included back-up features that appeared in the eventual company namesake's early issues. When by the Post-WWI period funny animals faded slightly in favor of teen comics like Archie, Edwards created Li'l Jinx, a stylishly drawn figure that presaged the next decade's fascination with precocious, emotionally driven and intellectually cognizant children. The popular kids' feature was a perennial back-up and had its own comic in the mid-1950s and again in the early 1970s. Mark Evanier notes that Edwards had a particular talent for fill-in gag pages, and could be counted on by Archie to provide fill-in work in a dependable fashion. Edwards worked by himself on most of his material. Edwards retired in the late 1980s.

He is survived by a wife of 63 years, two sons, a daughter and several grandchildren. Services were yesterday in West Babylon, New York.

Mark Evanier
Mike Lynch
 
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Go, Look: Kevin Nowlan Interview

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I don't speak Italian, but there's some cool-looking art there for the clicking; via afNews

Update: Or, of course, you could look a bit harder than I did and find the English translation (thanks, Alberto Garcia Marcos).

 
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Go, Look: Proto Graphic Novels

imageI can't really recommend Greg Hatcher's lengthy on-line posting on the way mainstream comic books -- and the industry that accrued around it -- slowly circled around the idea of graphic novels as rigorous history, as much as I appreciate anyone who recognizes Gil Kane's admirable, Sisyphean attempts to put together an adult readership book project as well as a anyone who doesn't mind looking at a lot of early indy comics efforts in that light. I'd have too many raised-hand objections. Off the top of my head, and avoiding thorny Jules Feiffer/Garry Trudeau territory, the late Jack Jackson put out comics that not only presaged the modern graphic novels but actually read like something that could have been put out as a cutting edge book yesterday, and you can't really mention RAW as a historical repository for a certain kind of art without mentioning its west coast, misbehaving cousin Weirdo or, more to the point considering this article's aims, its sort-of predecessor Arcade.

Still, it's an expression of a certain point of view and there are a lot of groovy covers to stare at.
 
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Not Comics: Jimbo Vinyl Figure

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Go, Read: D&Q Signing Report

Charles Hatfield has a small report up on the recent LA signing and presentation given by D&Q artists Gabrielle Bell, Kevin Huizenga and Anders Nilsen (they were joined by Sammy Harkham). It's a bit more detailed and personable than the reports I link to in the quick hits section, plus I want to encourage people to attend signings by alternative comics artists as I like the idea of signing and it seems like they're just now ramping up again.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Judd Winick!

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OTBP: Tripwire Annual 2007

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Tripwire, one of the more successful magazines that tried to travel a middle road between Wizard and The Comics Journal in the 1990s when that road wasn't populated by all that many people regularly buying comics, makes a surprise return to a market hopefully less reminiscent of an abandoned alley starting this summer at San Diego's Comic-Con International.
 
posted 8:01 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Review of Shojo Manga Exhibit

Industry
Heidi MacDonald at Fox Atomic
Government Agency Backs Computer Comics
They Still Do Broad Manga Profiles Occasionally

Interviews/Profiles
SBC: Matt Fraction
Wizard: Jeff Smith
Tune-In: Jeff Smith
WCSH6: Peter David
Leavenworth Times: Jacob Franssen
Austin-American Statesman: Scott McCloud

Not Comics
Date Hugh MacLeod
Marshall Ramsey Eats Chili
Matt Madden Sketches Paris
Mallard Fillmore Has Its Man
Stuart Immonen Draws a Car
Warren Ellis Quashes Movie Rumor
Encyclopedia Parker and the Stinky Cheese Templates

Publishing
E&P Previews Killed
Celebrities in Beano for Charity

Reviews
Pol Rua: Stagger Lee
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Joe Gross: Various Manga
Christopher Butcher: Casanova #1
Don MacPherson: Maintenance #1-2
Leroy Douresseaux: Phantom Vol. 1
 

 
If I Were In Berkeley, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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February 10, 2007


CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Paul Grist

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*****

Five Link A Go Go

* exhaustive listing of all the cars in Tintin

* this guy loves Sheena

* that Jack Kirby video to which everyone's been linking

* not comics: was this the greatest decade in the history of pop culture?

* go read: an interview with the great Bobby Madness

*****

Go, Look: Marie Caillou

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*****

First Thought Of The Day
You know, you could make a pretty good animated movie of Jesus Christ Superstar with the classic Warner Brothers cartoon characters. Check out this casting:

Jesus Christ: Bugs Bunny
Judas Iscariot: Daffy Duck
Mary Magdalene: Bugs Bunny in drag
Pontius Pilate: Elmer Fudd
Caiaphas and Annas: Yosemite Sam and Marvin the Martian
King Herod: Foghorn Leghorn
Simon Zealotes: Pepe Le Pew
Peter: Porky Pig

I think I'd pay $10,000 just to see the Elmer Fudd and Foghorn Leghorn numbers.
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 3 to February 9, 2007:

1. A French prosecutor proposes dismissal of a case against the satirical magazine Charlie-Hebdo brought by Muslim groups who felt that their use of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed should be punishable under that country's laws.

2. Details released on the Marshall (MO) library material selection plan, brought about by complaints last year of the graphic novels Blankets (Craig Thompson) and Fun Home (Alison Bechdel).

3. Not enough room at the Comic-Con International inn, again, but somehow this time felt worse.

Winner Of The Week
Fans of Jack Kirby.

Loser Of The Week
In the Ahmed Abbas case: sanity.

Quote Of The Week
"If Cap is George Washington, Frank is Francis Marion. That's the paradigm." -- writer Matt Fraction sends hundreds of Punisher fans to Wikipedia.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
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February 9, 2007


Happy 50th Birthday, Mary Perkins!

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If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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posted 6:31 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Prosecutor Seeks Dimissal in High-Profile Case Against Charlie-Hebdo Magazine

The individual articles that are popping up on the matter seem slightly odd to me for some reason, but the general word appears to be that prosecutor Anne de Fontette Thursday suggested dismissal in a case by French Muslim groups against the satirical magazine Charlie-Hebdo for their running caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed in a special issue last year brought upon by the worldwide furor over such cartoons appearing in a Danish newspaper in 2005. In the French system of law, the prosecutor defends French law. A verdict is expected March 15.

The most noteworthy thing about the trial is that the magazine received the backing of French presidential candidates, which has led to charges that the trial was politicized. Editor Philippe Val potentially faces some jail time and a significant fine if convicted, which doesn't seem likely now.
 
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Happy 79th Birthday, Frank Frazetta!

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posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Marshall Library Board Considers New Selection Policy, Hears From Patrons

An entertaining day-after article at the Marshall Democrat-News covers the Wednesday night meeting of the public library board, who were to consider or at least hear a materials selection policy brought about when a library-goer complained about material found in the graphic novel memoirs Blankets (Craig Thompson) and Fun Home (Alison Bechdel). I'm still not exactly certain why the new policy isn't used first on the two books in question, but the board seemed to resist a move in this direction.

The bulk of the article talks about two citizens given opportunity to speak on the subject, including a gentleman who apparently has no grasp of the concept of critical acclaim.

David Welsh has been covering this better than any other blogger.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Jo Duffy!

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Robert Gigi, 1926-2007

Via a sad letter from collaborator Claude Moliterni and a proper obituary by Philippe Mellot, BDZoom notes that the prominent illustrator Robert Gigi died on February 6.

Born in 1926, Gigi joined the studios of Raymond Poivet in the late 1940s while still a student. In 1948, he began creating comics while establishing himself as a name in the related fields of advertising and illustration. Already a successful artist appearing in Chouchou and Pilote, Gigi enjoyed a flush period in the mid- to late-1960s, in partnership with Moliterni and Jacques Lob on titles like Orion, le Laveur de Planetes and Dossier Soucoupes Volantes, perhaps his biggest hit. In his letter to BDZoom, Moliterni notes that their collaborations reflected the market's change after the publication of Barbarella, and the demand for similar work that followed.

Later series included Agar and the samurai story Ugaki, where Gigi indulged his passion for Japan. He would later became a teacher and a sculptor, and retired from comics although not from drawing in 1991. In terms of its breadth, and considering his prolific nature an illustrator and a comics artist, Gigi's client list seems peerless.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Tim Truman!

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The Putting Things Together Files

* Sammy Harkham's sweeping post about journalists at the Family store web site seems slightly mysterious until you read publisher Alvin Buenaventura's floor-cuffing of some random Internet pest that goes into detail about how Harkham was apparently misquoted and misrepresented in this City Pages article. I thought the profile was flattering, and should do no harm, but that's not a standard that excuses making stuff up.

* Dirk Deppey caught this article at Publishers Weekly that Amazon.com experienced huge gains last year. You can rightly (I think) assume that this relates to comics sales at well, but you're going to be buttressed in that belief if you recall an eye-popping statement made by Kuo-Yu Liang, VP of Sales and Marketing at Diamond Books, during the annual survey of opinions about news done by Heidi MacDonald. Under "Biggest stories in 2007," Liang writes: "Amazon becoming the #1 retailer." Liang's statement is important because of his status -- who knows the biggest retailer more than someone who sells that entity a lot of that stuff? -- and it read to me (at the time at least) as much more confident than the usual stab in the dark because it seemed like trend analysis, with the VP being rather specific about where that trend ends up.

* This is a fine, measured mini-essay of the on-line variety I haven't seen anyone mention yet about comics' current historical moment and the pervading stink of sexism that lingers in a far more obvious and open way than anyone should want. It would probably be too easy to link Chris Conroy's post to a display of said sexism, but its implication of a segmented marketplace made me think of this post by Heidi MacDonald at writer Warren Ellis' The Engine that mentions New York's shop Forbidden Planet has physically separated two portions of the store in a way that reflects some of this division -- not 100 percent of course -- in the audience.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, David B.!

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In Comics, Charity Begins On-Line

* I mentioned the last round of e-bay auctions for cartoonist Lea Hernandez and her family, displaced and disrupted by a home fire, back on 02/01, but here's more on the matter.

* Someone's going to have a memorable day today due to this now-completed auction people e-mailed me about after I turned the computer off yesterday.

* Here are some pin-ups for sale to help support newwave comix pioneer Mike Roden.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Sarah Byam!

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Collective Memory: Angouleme 2007

With cartoonist Matt Madden finally reporting in after returning from a longer trip to France, I think it's safe to put together a collective memory entry for this year's Festival International de la Bande Dessinee in Angouleme, France.

There's a ton of great links this year -- you have to read the Renier story about Lewis Trondheim, if nothing else -- only half of which have been discussed in the body of this blog. And, as always, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
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Since It’s Friday, Go Read A Bunch Of Comics-Related Stuff at Nerve.com

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Other than an interview or two, I've completely managed to blow off the numerous features rolled out so far in the special comics issue offered up this month by Nerve. I did send various editors at the successful on-line sex magazine an e-mail about Dan Goldman's press release that his feature for the magazine was killed last-minute for content reasons, but none of them answered me, so maybe I was just subconsciously grumpy. Anyway, if you're contents-page phobic, so far readers get:

* an Andi Watson comic
* a Paul Pope comic
* a Chynna Clugston comic
* a Sophie Crumb comic
* essay on Sandman
* essay on the Ninja Turtles
* interview with Peter Bagge
* interview with Alison Bechdel
* interview with Evan Dorkin with impeccable name-dropping
* sex advice from comic book store clerks
* feature on sex in comic books
* feature on EC Comics and the line having its genitalia kicked in in the 1950s
* a bunch of archived features, including a pretty good interview with Marjane Satrapi and a talk with the great Phoebe Gloeckner

I haven't read all of these, so I can't endorse individual pieces beyond the Dorkin and Bagge interviews, but it's probably all worth at least a look. Nerve has been interested in comics almost from the beginning, as I recall.
 
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Quick hits
History
Historical View of Jamaican Cartoon Imbroglio

Industry
Make Friends of D&Q
Graphic Novels Making Headway Into Schools
Stephen King Promotion Hit 150 Comic Book Shops
House of Ideas Wants Your Idea... Basically For Free
AdHouse Runs Project: Romantic Sale For Valentine's Day

Interviews/Profiles
Daily 49er: Joshua Kemble
Top Cancer News: Brian Fies
Columbus Dispatch: Gene Yang
Ann Arbor Business Review: Get Your Game On

Publishing
Edge City Moves Into Collection Status
On-Line Humor Site to Add Male Call and Dickie Dare

Reviews
David Welsh: Various
Erik Weems: Fun Home
Jason Mott: Spider-Man: Reign #1
Hervé St-Louis: Ultimate Power #2
Hervé St-Louis: Ultimate Power #3
Al Kratina: Civil War: The Return #1
Hervé St-Louis: Astonishing X-Men #19
Jog: Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1
Brigid Alverson: The Best of Nickelodeon Magazine All-Comics Special
 

 
February 8, 2007


If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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Conversational Euro-Comics: Lewis Trondheim and the Fate of L’Association

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By Bart Beaty

When I was finishing writing my new book on European comics, Unpopular Culture, the artist that I most worried about was Lewis Trondheim. Of all the cartoonists in Europe, he was the only one to whom I had dedicated an entire chapter, and he was so relentlessly prolific (now over 130 books in print!) that there was a good chance that he would publish something that would complicate my argument between the time I submitted my manuscript to the press and the time, post peer-refereeing, post-layout, post-copy editing, post-indexing, that it actually hit store shelves. Imagine my happiness, then, when Trondheim "retired" two years ago -- a perfect ending for my book.

Of course, since that "retirement" Trondheim has published more than ever, so he upset my thesis on that score at the very least. He also, notably, was named President of the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee in Angouleme, the first serious omission from my book. And, in October, he left L'Association, the artist-run publishing house that he co-founded in 1990 (and the subject of my book's first chapter). Not good for the timeliness of my work. I'm beginning to see why so many scholars choose to write on artists who are already dead...

Trondheim's departure from L'Association, and the subsequent departures of Killoffer and Stanislas, was a subject that came up a lot at the festival in two forms. First, in a gossipy manner ("Did you hear about what someone said to someone else?"), the vast majority of which was probably ill-informed, mean-spirited and probably wholly invented to make one or more of the players look bad. But second in a manner where people wondered what will happen to L'Asso, and what will happen to the individual artists? What happens, one cartoonist asked me, if this was the comics equivalent of breaking up the Beatles? Sure, Lennon produced some good post-Beatles work, and McCartney some that wasn't terrible, but in the end none of them ever lived up to the high standards established by their younger selves.

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It's far too early to say what will happen to L'Association. The editorial in their 2007 catalog promises a renewed focus on quality and pushing the boundaries of the form, which is certainly exciting as a goal. From the outside, of course, it has always been impossible to really understand how L'Asso worked. Certainly Menu was the closest thing to a publisher in the group and he remains in that role, but it was also clear that each of the founders recruited works from various artists and had a voice in determining what was and was not published. Surely the heterogeneity of L'Asso might be lessened in the future, but it is far, far too early to tell what the effect will be as they are transformed into a different type of publisher.

It is somewhat easier to imagine what will become of Trondheim, as he keeps turning out the books. Two recent releases from Delcourt put the post-L'Asso Trondheim front and center.

Released in the line that he edits for Delcourt, Shampooing, Ile Bourbon 1730 and La Malediction du parapluie are books that once would have fit nicely in L'Asso's Collection Cotelette. Indeed, everything from the size of the volumes to the choice of paper recalls that earlier L'Asso collection, for better or for worse.

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Ile Bourbon 1730 is a long (288-page) comics novel written by Appollo and drawn by Trondheim, one of the rare books that he has illustrated from someone else's script. The story is set on Ile de La Reunion, the small tropical island 700 km east of Madagascar. For several years Trondheim and some of his friends have been visiting this island for a comics festival, and now, working with an author from the island, he has crafted a story set there.

Ile Bourbon 1730 is, as the title indicates, set in the sea-faring days of the early-eighteenth century. Piracy is on the wane, slave revolts loom and naturalists search the globe for dodos. The authors include all of this material, and, of course, much more. Yet in the end, this is a well-crafted but minor work. Not nearly as funny as the typical Trondheim book (to be fair, few writers are as funny as Trondheim) the book never quite lived up to my expectations of a comic book version of Patrick O'Brian's The Mauritius Command, which is partly set in the same locale. Nothing is really wrong with the book, but nothing is fantastically right with it either. It's a nice work, but certainly not essential in the grand scheme of all things Trondheimian. I read the book on the plane ride home from France last week, and, in all honesty, I can barely remember it today.

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La Malediction du parapluie is a different matter. A collection of Trondheim's blog strips (Les petits riens), this is a return to his earlier autobiographical material found in his Carnets (L'Asso) and the much earlier Approximativement (Cornelius). The material in La Malediction du parapluie follows Trondheim through a number of events, ranging several comics festival (last year's Angouleme and the news that he had won the presidency, the festival on Ile de La Reunion) to the adoption of a pair of cats. Each single page strip sets up a small quotidian observation, generally complemented with a darkly ironic punch-line. Trondheim is free here to put his personality at the fore, and the result is a charming book. Trondheim's autobiographical material is some of my favorite of all his material, and this may be his best work to date in the genre.

There are a couple of differences between Les Petits riens and Trondheim's Carnet material for L'Association. The most obvious of these would be the fact that the Delcourt-published work is done in color (Ile Bourbon 1730, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, is in black-and-white). Trondheim's earlier Carnets were done on the fly, direct on the page and without corrections (he'd simply scratch out bits he didn't like). These strips are certainly more "professional" looking. Whether that is a function of changing publishers or just a natural evolution of Trondheim's drawing (and coloring) skills is tough to say, but it does give La Malediction du parapluie a slick feeling that I associate more closely with his work for the Dargaud and Delcourt than with L'Asso. It's interesting that after 17 years the use of color would still distinguish a L'Asso book from a Delcourt book, but there it is.

In the end, no simple conclusions can be drawn from this pair of books. I thought that Ile Bourbon 1730 was a disappointment, but not a major one, and certainly not the type of book that will have fans claiming that he’s somehow lost his magic touch. Meanwhile, I found La Malediction du parapluie to be fantastic -- funny and engaging, and I wished it was a lot longer than its 100 pages. If Trondheim's career is going to suffer post-L'Asso then this work doesn't show it at all (of course, cynics will point out, he did both these books before he quit L'Asso in the first place).

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I like the L'Association as The Beatles metaphor, even though it's a tough one to work with. Is Trondheim John Lennon? Does that make Joann Sfar Yoko? Is Menu Brian Epstein? Which one is Ringo? But it's useful insofar as it highlights the fact that these six guys, working together, dramatically changed the face of comics in the same way that the Beatles changed the face of popular music. What they do from here will be an interesting thing to watch, but I hope that they don't learn that they were more vital when they were they were pushing each other than they will be on their own.

I have no doubt that at Angouleme 2037, I will see the founders of L'Association sitting at a table in the Hotel Mercure talking about old times, and telling war stories to a generation of cartoonists who are not even born today. And I hope, for their sakes, that that reunion won't be tinged with the regrets of authors who broke up the best comics publishing house in the world only to realize too late what they had accomplished together.

*****

* Unpopular Culture : Transforming the European Comic Book in the 1990s, Bart Beaty, University of Toronto Press, softcover, 320 pages, 0802094120 (ISBN), January 2007, $29.95

* Ile Bourbon 1730, Appollo & Lewis Trondheim, Delcourt/Shampooing, 286 pages, 2756006564 (ISBN), January 2007

* La Malediction du parapluie, Lewis Trondheim, Delcourt/Shampooing, 128 pages, 2756004111 (ISBN), October 2006

*****

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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First Iteration of Long-Awaited Jack Kirby Bio Lands at Harry N Abrams

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One of the interesting known-about books about comics out there for years now has been Mark Evanier's biography of the great cartoonist Jack Kirby. The book presented something of a publishing problem: on the one hand, it was humongous, accruing page after page as the months past; on the other hand, it was clear the subject matter would benefit most from an established book publisher who would be more likely to want a less comprehensive book. Evanier's solution is to sell Harry N Abrams a book called Kirby: King of Comics that is of a deluxe but negotiable size and will be out this Fall. And then, after a couple more years during which the book will probably grow even larger than rumors say, Evanier will loose upon the world the larger, more comprehensive version and you won't see some of us for two weeks.

Here's a nice appreciation of the King that ran earlier this week.
 
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International Cartoon News Round-Up

* the Charlie-Hebdo trial got underway yesterday with testimony from editor Philippe Val, who if convicted for reprinting the Danish Cartoon caricatures of the prophet Muhammed in the satirical weekly last year could face six months and prison and nearly $30,000 in fines. Val stressed that the republication was about ideas not people. A lawyer also read a statement of support from presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy. The charge was brought against the magazine by The Grand Mosque and the Union of French Islamic Organizations.

* you can start here for a detailed look at current developments in the Maldivian government's odd case against cartoonist Ahmed Abbas, which also provides links to articles that provide greater context. In what looks like a snakepit's snakepit of a legal mess, four protesters were arrested.

* the European Federation of Journalists condemns a January 31 attack on cartoonist Huseyin Chakmak of Afrika. Chakmak was assaulted from a car, and stymied in his attempts to get justice from police.
 
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Go, Look: Matthew Thurber Portfolio

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Details of Marshall Library Plan

An article previewing last night's presentation of a material selections policy at the Marshall, Missouri library fairly locks into place a lot of information that had been floating about what would happen if a library patron was to object to material found at the library. The reason you're reading about it here is that this need for a new policy was brought on by a library patron's complaints surrounding the graphic novels Blankets (Craig Thompson) and Fun Home (Alison Bechdel).

As many were able to piece together from an earlier article, the system will now have such complaints go to the librarian first, who will make a decision with oversight and an appeal mechanism invested in the general library board. Any book in question will go to in-library use but remain in use, which would be superior to the "removal until we can figure this out" experience enjoyed by the two graphic novels. What's left is news of the formal vote (expected to be positive, I think) and, unless I missed something, a decision on the graphic novels at the heart of the original matter.
 
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Go, Look: Crumb Protest Posters

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scroll down a bit; thanks, Ben Towle
 
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What I Liked About That Marvel Dark Tower Midnight Madness Promotion

While it seems to me without having dug into it deeply that Marvel controlled information in order to make their Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born comic seem more like a Stephen King original event than it's turned out to be, that some of the press points were ludicrous (Marvel as bastion of diversity), that gateway comics are a personal thing that only exist in retrospect and may be far less important than a consumer building to a critical mass of works they enjoy in a medium, that I have achingly low levels of interest in the comic itself, and that the midnight release event taking place Wednesday AM sounds like a modest happening rather than a madhouse (I'm sure cold weather above the Mason Dixon line didn't help there), I'm still encouraged on some level that Marvel tried something that hadn't been done before that I can remember in order to drive attention to the comic shops that serve their products. I'm not sure why this seems like a positive, but it does.
 
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Go, Look: Craig Thompson Illustration

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Report From Sanderson Lecture on Violent Cases

History
Shoujo Manga Back in the Day
Eddie Campbell Muses on Plagiarism
Yellow Kid Not Generating Cash = Worthless

Industry
David Welsh on PWCW List

Interviews/Profiles
Studio Tour: David Lloyd
Suicide Girls: Bryan Lee O'Malley

Not Comics
Headlines That Are Unusual, Chapter 84
Colleen Mondor on Prose Books About Comics

Publishing
Next Lynn Johnston Collection
Next Stephan Pastis Collection
Dark Tower Whore Buys Comic
Non-Sequitur Goes Back in Time
Peter S. Beagle Eyes Graphic Novels
Roy of the Rovers Attempts Comeback
DC Offers Miller Titles on Consignment
Naughty The Boys Finds Home at Dynamite
Dark Horse's Part of Star Wars' 30th Anniversary

Reviews
Jog: 52 #40
Hervé St-Louis: 52 #39
Erik Weems: Creeper #6
Al Kratina: Wolverine #50
Kevin Church: Shazam #1
Hervé St-Louis: Seven Sons
Geoff Hoppe: Wolverine #50
Hervé St-Louis: Civil War #5
Don MacPherson: Shazam #1
Shaenon Garrity: Banana Fish
David Welsh: Kitchen Princess
Hervé St-Louis: Daredevil #93
Holly Ellingwood: Whistle Vol. 15
Blake Matthews: American Born Chinese
Nikamma: The Little Book of Hindu Deities

 

 
February 6, 2007


Charlie Hebdo Trial Begins Today

Reporters Sans Frontieres pledges their full support, and provides a summary of events to date.
 
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Go, Look: English Translation of Angouleme Prize Winners Ruppert & Mulot

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Le Photographe Wins Globe de Cristal

imageAccording to this article at ActuaBD.com, Le Photographe has added to its honors something called a Globe de Cristal, which looks like a general cultural/arts award complete with a comics/art book category in which the much-lauded book was the winner over Pascal Rabate's Les petits Ruisseaux and the third volume in Manu Larcenet's Le Combat Ordinaire series. The win becomes poignant in that subject and co-author Didier Lefevre recently passed away at the age of 50 after a long history of heart trouble, making his appearance at Angouleme to accept another award a significant contrast to not being available to pick up this one. The piece implies that co-authors Emmanuel Guibert and Frederic Lemercier were in attendance at Lefevre's funeral, explaining their absence as well.
 
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Go, Read: What Makes Sammy Run?

imageHere's a nice article about the cartoonist and anthology editor Sammy Harkham in support of a Kramers Ergot art show. In addition to the material about Harkham, one of the most interesting young cartoonists in the world, you get a mini-profile of the greatly under-appreciated Jerry Moriarty and an exciting verbal preview of the next issue of Kramers, which sounds stupendous. The piece contains a graphics link to a a slideshow of Moriarty's work from the show that's worth seeking out on its own.
 
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Happy 78th Birthday, Alejandro Jodorowsky!

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Is CCI Outgrowing San Diego?

Yesterday was a frustrating one for many people hoping to secure a discounted hotel room of their choice through Comic-Con International and their sponsored travel service. Many came away with no room at all, or had to make significant effort to end up with a room that was not among their first choices.

The story isn't that frustration. Given today's dissemination of comics knowledge on-line, a traffic jam was inevitable. The story also isn't the southern California comics-at-its-core pop culture industry gathering and marketplace reaching some ill-defined tipping point of dissatisfaction. Big events like San Diego are always losing their appeal for some group. That's their nature. Old-guard alternative cartoonists stopped coming out in force eight or nine years ago. My friends who like kitsch, zombie movies and masked wrestling, most of them seem to have stopped going in the last three or four years. If attendance does plunge, it's not going to be about it not being the thing to do. It's always someone's first show, and it's likely someone's 31st, and prominent pros have been extolling the virtues of being cooler by not going for at least 20 years.

I'd say the real story is structural. People sat at their computers yesterday not just looking for a hotel room for a certain price close to where they like to socialize; many were looking for any hotel room at all. I've been going off and on for 12 years. I've booked rooms two weeks before the show. I know of hotels off the reservation grid, I know a couple of bed and breakfasts, I once used a service to rent a condo downtown, and I've used standard on-line booking. Avenues that used to yield a room days before the show are booked solid months and months in advance, or at punishing prices. Two years ago I could assure people of finding a room unless they booked in July. Now I can barely rustle one up for myself by booking in September.

What that says to me is that San Diego may not have enough hotel rooms for those who want to stay in them. Telling someone to book miles and miles away seems justifiable if they're booking in June, but it's not the kind of thing you should be telling someone trying to find a place six months in advance. While most discussions of the show potentially moving have been about exhibition space, and a few about parking and other city-type services, this is the first year that housing has seemed like a major league factor, too. People used to joke about Las Vegas, but I bet there are a lot of people out there that would have loved to close down the slow-opening convention travel site yesterday with the option of firing up a room at the Orleans. It should be an interesting few years ahead.

Comic-Con International is an advertiser here
 
posted 11:06 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jeff Smith’s Shazam! #2

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Jeff Smith is an advertiser here
 
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Benefit For Michael Rhoden Launched

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Major Hogarth Exhibit Planned

Interviews/Profiles
PWCW: Top Cow
Wizard: Jeff Smith

Not Comics
Nick Anderson Pushes Boundaries
Scott Adams Launches Site To Sell Stuff

Publishing
Charles Fincher Returns With Multiple Sites
Mike Gold Launches Pop Culture and Comics Site
Modern Fiction Studies Takes On Graphic Narratives

Reviews
Don MacPherson: Wonderlost #1
Jeff Vandermeer: Moomin, Little Lit
 

 
I Still Miss Jack Kirby

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The King of Comics died 13 years ago today.

 
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George Troisfontaines, 19??-2007

George Troisfontaines, a key businessman in the development of the French comics industry, died on February 1 in Paris. According to this piece at ActuaBD.com, Troisfontaines' Brussels-based World Press distribution agency, modeled on American syndicates, provided comic strips for various newspapers and was the home of several important early authors in the French-language comics industry. Troisfontaines is specifically noted for hiring Rene Goscinny away from the American studios in which he was working, bringing him into the orbit of Jean-Michel Charlier, and eventually placing him in the Paris office of the company, facilitating his meeting Albert Uderzo and then their early collaborations. That pair would, of course, eventually produce the international super-hit Asterix.

Troisfontaines co-created Buck Danny with Victor Hubinon, a series he turned over to Jean-Michel Charlier fairly early on its development, and also developed the early, important comics magazine Risque-tout for Dupuis.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Alex Holden Site

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E&P: Wiley Miller Vs. Editorial Cartoonists

Editor & Publisher details a scuffle between the cartoonist Wiley Miller and various editorial cartoonists over a cartoon in which Miller needles ineffectual cartoonist organizations and, more importantly, the issue of declining staff positions being bemoaned by cartoonists who syndicate their work, which many believe makes editorial cartoonist positions expendable.

I think what's interesting is that the responses to Miller, at least as detailed by E&P, seem pretty soft. That may be because no one wants to really start a fight, but it could also be because the argument in response to the accusations isn't all that strong. If editorial cartoonists are going to argue for staff positions from the local cartoons standpoint -- only a local artist can do local cartoons on issues that those syndicating can't cover -- there's some work to do. For one, a lot of editors are terrified of localized editorializing, because in many cases those are potential advertisers in a way the U.S. Senate, say, isn't. For another, freelancers can provide and have provided local cartoons by seeking that market, which seems to weaken the tie between having local cartoons and investing in a staff member.
 
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Alvin Always Has The Best Photos

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Click through the image above and witness Buenaventura Press hitting Angouleme. Alvin Buenaventura's photos are not only interesting in and of themselves, and not only filled with guest stars, they manage to provide an easy-to-follow narrative.
 
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Go, Look: PM’s Disney Strike Coverage

imageFrom afNews comes a link to a flickr set with numerous scans from the left-leaning PM on the famous Disney strike. Although the strike was officially "not comics" with a lot of ramifications for cartoonists and therefore comics for years afterwards, the coverage was definitely cartoon- and comics-driven, with work from some of the striking artists themselves. Some really prime material here.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Rich Buckler!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Report on L&R Exhibit
Mutts Exhibit Planned for CAM
Report From Art Spiegelman Speech
Upcoming Editorial Cartoonist Exhibits

Not Comics
Early Manga Brings High Bid
Kevin Church's Comics Blogging Tutorial

Publishing
Luann Draws From Real Life
David Welsh on Manga Extras
Postcards Anthology to Villard
Bryan Lee O'Malley's FCBD Comic Cover
Will Vinton to Publish Through Dark Horse
Tonight is Magical Stephen King Midnight Giveaway Night

Reviews
Jog: Various
Paul O'Brien: X-Men #195
Johanna Draper Carlson: Locas
Al Kratina: Mike Carey's One-Sided Bargains
Erik Weems: Justice Society of America #1-2
Leroy Douresseaux: The Grave Robber's Daughter
Paul O'Brien: Garth Ennis' Chronicles of Wormwood #1
Dylan Brucie: That New Stephen King Gunslinger Comic Book
 

 
February 5, 2007


International Cartoon News Round-Up

* I could have sworn this happened before, but the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is going to court to defend itself against two Islamic groups that feel the publication's reprinting of the Danish Cartoons is the same as speech punishable under French law.

* Missed it: a student-run Mexican college newspaper regains its independence after being shut down following the publication of anti-administration cartoons and columns.

* Jamaica's The Gleaner responds to criticism of a harsh cartoon the week previous featuring the Prime Minister and accusations of over-lavish state trips.

* It looks like all of today's Danish Cartoons-related news are re-runs of earlier news: here's an editorial repeating a notion that was written about last Fall that the dialog between Christians and Muslim improved in Denmark after 2006's riots, political turmoil and economic boycotts. I'm reminded Tim Cavanaugh predicted this almost exactly a year ago.

* Brigid Alverson succinctly links up the story of a non-licensed version providing closure on a popular manga serial, and why this displeased the publisher.
 
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OTBP: Schulz’s Youth

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I'm looking forward to this.
 
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Non-Sequitur Celebrates 15th Year

I find this article about Wiley Miller's Non-Sequitur celebrating its 15th-year anniversary interesting for a few reasons. One, Miller is almost always an entertaining interview -- he's never quite full-on cranky, but he always seems one slip of the tongue away from verbally cuffing someone to the floor. Two, 700 newspapers is a lot of newspapers for a feature that's never had a period of press and public infatuation. Non-Sequitur's success says something about being consistent and maintaining a unique voice over time. Three, I'm not aware of any features as successful as Miller's from that time period in which it was launched, although I could be forgetting about something. Four, I'd forgotten all about Fenton.
 
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Spider-Man’s First TV Appearance

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If I tell you about it and run the still, I'm stealing, not linking, so please click through the image above and read this interesting post.
 
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Weekend Writing Comparison Round-Up

* Both Don MacPherson in this editorial and Marc Singer in this review compare well-publicized comics from Marvel with lesser-known works at DC and suggest the DC works might be the more effective of each pairing.

* Dan Nadel, in this review of Darwyn Cooke's Batman/Spirit and The Spirit efforts, suggests that his problems with the result may be all about the art rather than common criticisms of mainstream American comic books like deficiencies in scripting or limitations of sub-genre. He brings in Alex Toth for comparison's sake.

* In an excellent post in a series of excellent posts, Eddie Campbell compares and contrasts various authors' takes on Roy Lichtenstein.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Jerry Scott!

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Grasping Angouleme’s Meaning

With the first full weekend after Europe's largest comics festival in our rear view mirror, many more witnesses are finding the time to weigh in on the just-past Angouleme and its overall meaning in the larger pictures of state of the industry/state of the art form.

* Paul Gravett's festival report is as lengthy and interesting as you might expect. He brings in an armload of publishing trends into his analysis, so many you almost want to him to slow down and pick one. He discusses the festival's Essential books in terms of their relationship to the traditional album format, which is an angle that hadn't occurred to me.

* I'm sympathetic to the notion in this article at du9 dealing with festival prize-winner NonNonBa that manga authors like Shigeru Mizuki are treated less as individual cartoonists and more a representatives of a tradition or an iteration of form, one which many people in the French-language market may see as harmful or threatening and many people out may see as a simplistic expression of consumer culture rather than art. The bulk of the article's complaints, about some specifics of culture, are out of my experience, and I can't comment.

I found the lead-in extremely disappointing, though, if I'm reading it correctly. Suggesting that articles noting or identifying the winner as manga are somehow dehumanizing or insulting the author in a "Charles Burns wins this prize, but 'manga' wins that prize" way, that seems to me grandstanding at best, strident nonsense at worst. Sometimes an aspect of an award-winning book's category or origin (small press, on-line, female author, publisher, manga, non-album format) is the compelling news story, for all sorts of legitimate reasons including but not limited to historical importance and a window into present trends and attitudes. Two, Mizuki simply isn't a well-known author, like, say, Jiro Taniguchi, which frequently sends reporters to descriptives and contexts that are broader rather than more specific and allows for less of an impression by the individual's pre-existing life narrative on the article itself.

* Via afNews.info comes word and/or outright hosting of Laurent Melikian's photos, Gud's sketchbook diary, and Guido Vogliotti's gallery.
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Alison Bechdel at Angouleme
Report From Aaron McGruder Speech
Richard Corliss on Masters Exhibit, Comics In Museums

History
Richard Hugo House Profiled
Why We Read What We Read

Industry
Librarians Love Ellis and Vaughan
Word Getting Out About King Opening
More Word Getting Out About King Opening

Interviews/Profiles
Chimes: Chris Ware
CBR: Aaron Lopresti
CBR: Peter Brandvold
Lancaster On-Line: Mike Witmer
Mercury-Register: Morrie Turner
Poughkeepsie Journal: Michael Davis

Not Comics
Director Unveils Manga-Style Noh Play

Publishing
Mutts Strips To Help Animals
Politicians to Publish Comic Book
This Guy is Thinking About 52 Stuff
This Guy Is Thinking About Civil War Stuff
Editorial Cartoonists Remember Molly Ivins
Wiley Miller Cartoon Cracks on Editorial Cartoonists
Foxtrot Loses Sunday With Daily Dump; Gets It Back

Reviews
Jog: The End #1
Bonnie: Persepolis
Jog: Satsuma Gishiden Vol. 1
koppy mcfad: Teen Titans #43
Pauline Wong: Cantarella Vol. 5
Dan Murphy: Chicken With Plums
koppy mcfad: JLA: Classified #32
Geoff Hoppe: Punisher War Journal #3
Mark Allen: Captain Clockwork Special
Laura Gould: Journey Into Mohawk Country
Johanna Draper Carlson: Musashi #9 Book 4
Leroy Douresseaux: Things Are Meaning Less
Johanna Draper Carlson: Wisdom From The Batcave
Kitty Sensei: The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga
koppy mcfad: Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #7
 

 
February 4, 2007


CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With Richard Sala

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*****

Five Link A Go Go

* new Will Eisner documentary trailer

* go, read: Mark Tatulli interview

* go, look: Eiji Nonaka's follow-up to Cromartie High School

* go, look: Eddie Campbell on The Fat Sheila Hit Me

* not comics: Time Warner re-thinks its movie franchise possibilities, smothering a solid year's worth of Cobie Smulders jokes in the crib

*****

Go, Look: Robert Goodin

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*****

First Thought Of The Day
I think when I'm done with writing about comics that it's a decision that will come very quickly, maybe even in the middle of the week. I'll just... stop.
 
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February 2, 2007


CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from January 27 to February 2, 2007:

1. Third protester convicted in London from protests related to Danish Cartoons Controversy.

2. Angouleme ends on a positive note with deserving and interesting prize winners; overall, maybe not a great show.

3. Ahmed Abu Laban, a key figure in the Danish Cartoons Controversy, dies.

Winner Of The Week
Jose Munoz, Grand Prix winner.

Loser Of The Week
Anyone who read the two incredibly heartbreaking stories out there this week. Just brutal; I feel like I aged 10 years.

Quote Of The Week
"It's only a bloody convention." -- Warren Ellis

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
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Run, Todd, Run…


 
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RIOT! Comic Book Store Closes

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By choice not necessity, says the owner.
 
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Ahmed Abu Laban, 1946-2007

Denmark's most prominent Muslim leader and a key player in the 2005-2006 Danish Cartoons Controversy, Ahmed Abu Laban died from complications due to lung cancer in Copenhagen late last night.

Laban was born in Palestine and lived for significant periods in Egypt and Nigeria before coming to Denmark in 1984. He grew to prominence as a leading light in the Islamic Faith Community, which represents about 10 percent of the nearly quarter-million Muslims in the country. He was frequently criticized by both Christian and moderate Muslim politicians and community leaders for his strident stands and statements, making Denmark one of the most volatile of all the European countries facing an uncomfortable period of extended growth within their Muslim communities.

Laban was the principal Denmark Muslim imam who took the publication of caricatures in the Jyllands-Posten as a direct insult to Muslims in that country and out of it, and agitated internationally about the issues, directly leading to riots and political turmoil in early 2006. Laban was accused of exploiting the circumstance for political gain and even unfairly representing the cartoons to the point of substituting more provocative fake examples, in order to make his point.

Ahmed Abu Laban is survived by his wife and seven children.
 
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Go, Look: Debut of The Rack

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I'm taking it on faith that this will be good; if it isn't, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
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Finnish Prosecutor Passes on Cartoons

Helsingin Sanomat reports that the Deputy Prosecutor charged with investigating cartoons that a private individual thought incited hated and/or violated the sanctity of religion will decline to prosecute web site house Finnish League of Free-Thinkers, its chairman Robert Brotherus, and the cartoonist Osmo Tammisalo. The news story says that that cartoons have been on the site for about 10 years, although with last year's Danish Cartoons Controversy, potentially offensive cartoons have become a much hotter topic than they might have been in the late 1990s.

The article also mentions that the Free-Thinkers filed a complaint against the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church in response to their posting a version of the Bible on-line, with the thinking that the Bibl defames atheists. Those charges were dismissed earlier.

You can find the cartoons here. Whenever I think of Jesus cartoons I always think of Jesus Changes Water Into Urine.
 
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Go, Read: Grant Morrison in Arthur

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An older interview now on-line for your reading pleasure.
 
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Cartoon and Bullet: Newspaper Threat

Standard (Zimbabwe) Editor Bill Saidi spoke firmly and openly to the press about a cartoon-related death threat received earlier this week, where a cartoon critical of the government was clipped and returned to the paper with the warning to "Be careful." The cartoon in questions showed baboons laughing at the pay scale of a Zimbabwean soldier. The threat is part of an almost worldwide run of incidents whereby cartoons are targeted for intimidation, and was widely condemned.
 
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Happy 95th Birthday, Creig Flessel!

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His father was a blacksmith.
 
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Go, Look: Poetry Into Comics

As a way to bring attention to their archived material, PoetryFoundation.org has invited cartoonists to adapt a "poem of their choice." First up is David Heatley and his version of Belly Dancer, by Diane Wakoski.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Bob Schreck!

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finding imagery for editors is hard
 
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Go, Look: Groundhog Day Cartoons

I always imagine editorial cartoonists leaping at the chance to do something on a subject so largely benign yet with a visual element that's so, so weird. Cagle has a round-up.
 
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February 1, 2007


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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Abdul Saleem Found Guilty

The third trial at the Old Bailey featuring Muslim protesters who participated in a demonstration in London in February 2006 in reaction to the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed in a Denmark newspaper ended earlier today with a third guilty verdict.

Abdul Saleem was found guilty of using threatening, abusive and insulting behavior during the protest. While the news media and prosecutors depicted the 31-year-old as a leader of the exhortations in question, Saleem maintained that he was following the chants used by the crowd, not directing them.
 
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Go, Look: First Second Spring ‘07

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I mention it more for the ton of preview material than any stop-the-presses notion that First Second has a season coming out, because obviously everyone is publishing books this Spring.

Fantagraphics sends word that also new and updated is the Daniel Clowes Bibliography, one of the Internet's long-standing comics resources.
 
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Jose Varela Gets Two Years Probation

One of the stranger cartoonist-in-then-news stories ended yesterday when El Nuevo freelancer Jose Varela seized a killer pre-trial deal including two years probation in a package with counseling, a donation and anger control classes. Varela was arrested November 24 after sending staffers in the El Nuevo and Miami Herald to the streets by threatening to use a knife and a gun he was carrying, the latter of which turned out to be a realistic-looking toy. He was apparently upset about coverage of Cuban-Americans by the papers, and had been experience troubles at home.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday Diana Schutz!

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source: CBG
 
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Why Conventions Don’t Love You

The writer Warren Ellis speaks wise on the issue of the New York Comic-Con setting limits on free passes and charging professionals at the same rate as con attendees. The reason Ellis is spot on isn't because conventions shouldn't give free passes to professionals but because he correctly frames the issue not as one of rights and obligations but as one of strategy and planning.

Until I hear of a successful, profitable comics convention closing shop because they can't do right by their pros, I think it's pretty clear these cons are businesses, with a bottom line, to which all policies are in some way answerable. Some cons, like CR advertiser Comic-Con International, choose a looser freebie-pass policy. One would assume that this doesn't interfere with the bottom line, or does so in a manageable way that allows organizers to facilitate some of their other, festival-ish aims. Heck, it may even enhance profits by giving the Con a "place to be" vibe because of the enormous number of pros encouraged in part by such a policy to take advantage of attending.

Other shows will choose a restrictive policy, one they feel makes more sense to them. They may gain from a policy that allows them to negotiate with companies in terms of free passes, and perhaps they can push themselves as more of a pro's show by restricting access to part-timers and hobbyists. Or maybe they think this will help them shape the show in the direction of fans and merchants doing business over pros and publishers networking. Or other ways I haven't figured out.

It sort of reminds me of the paid-attendance Harveys flap a couple of of years back, where I also didn't agree with the policy. It seemed to resolve itself in a logical manner.

"You want me to pay for X-Y-Z tickets?"
"Yes."
"Even though I've performed this task for the show and enjoy this status relative to the show's history?"
"Yes."
"Even though it doesn't make sense for this, that and the other reason?"
"Yes."
"No thanks. I'm going to Art Spiegelman's roof party. Have a nice show."

What else are you going to do except make your objection known and then act according to the new situation? I've paid at several cons for various reasons. I figure if it's not worth an unexpected $40 charge, I probably shouldn't be going. But that's me. Granted there will be some aggravation if people who are supposed to pay don't pay -- comics people take special delight in bending those kinds of rules -- but sooner or later you shrug your shoulders and either go for your wallet or your car keys.

Cons are a significant adjunct to modern comics for a variety of reasons, everything from networking opportunities to corrective buying by people not in a position to purchase certain items because of direct market coverage issues to the consummation of social contacts made and reinforced on today's on-line venues. What's going to be interesting is to see what choices cons make in how they want to present themselves to the world, how they'll meet their non-business goals if they have any and how those do battle with business concerns. With Angouleme apparently narrowing its focus to better serve the sales needs of big companies to Mocca closing in on a space crisis, to San Diego maybe cutting some artist's alley space and the usual dance with housing, to SPX spending another year at a more suburban location to better house its exhibitors, it should be a long and interesting year of seeing how these entities hash these kinds of things out.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Gilbert Hernandez!

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The Original Cartoons Controversy

If you look at enough anti-Israel conspiracy articles -- that would be zero, actually, although bear with me -- sooner or later you'll see mention of a cartoons controversy potentially much more severe in the eyes of many folks than Danes drawing Muhammed: the London assassination of Naji al-Ali. I mention it here because it reminds me that we're coming up on the 20th anniversary of that event.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Ron Frenz!

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BdZoom: Liliane Franquin, RIP

From BdZoom comes word that Liliane Franquin, the widow of Andre Franquin, passed away on Sunday, a decade after her late husband and giant of continental cartooning. I'm not sure why this caught my eye, except that it's a very sweetly written piece and I didn't know that fan reaction moved in those directions in France the way they frequently will in North America.
 
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Blake Bell Launches Commentary Blog

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Click through the image. The writer promises a ton of content, and you can't do much better on a first day than a piece on Richard McGuire. I think my first day's lead post was Christopher Reeve.
 
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Not Comics
Al Columbia Outs Eddie Campbell
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