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











March 31, 2007


Happy Fourth Birthday, Partyka!

image
 
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
image
 
posted 6:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 30, 2007


CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from March 24 to March 30, 2007:

1. Libre presents their side of the story in the Libre/CPM dispute over certain licenses.

2. Ahmed Abbas' appeal denied.

3. Lawyers for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton file papers to keep her from testifying in Paul's fraud case; for those keeping track, it's in the appeals stage.

Winner Of The Week
Libre. Whether or not they're the wronged party is a matter of documentation and law, but they sure won this week's perception battle.

Losers Of The Week
Anyone and anything involved with this lurid affair.

Quote Of The Week
"Am I totally out of the loop or was this the stealthiest release of ballots in award history?" -- Kim Thompson, former Harvey Awards nominee-list + ballot dissemination machine, on this year's rapidly closing Harveys nomination round window.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Steven T. Seagle!

image
 
posted 10:22 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
This Cracks Me Up

image

It's the tiny chair that does it for me.
 
posted 6:36 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Doonesbury on Suzanne Swift Case

imageSusan Palmer at Oregon's Register-Guard writes a long feature giving some background and context to the current Doonesbury storyline, which they believe is directly related to the life and experiences of soldier Suzanne Swift. The issue itself is unpacked a bit in addition to quotes from the family. You can click on the picture to get to the Doonesbury site, where you can backtrack your way to the story's beginning.
 
posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Salon du Livre Photos

image

It's a small photo set, but Laurent Melikian's pictures feature some cartoonists I've never seen photographed before, like Sarnath Banerjee above, and a killer photo of the Luna Brothers. Context here.
 
posted 5:21 am PST | Permalink
 

 
UK Police, Press Seek to Connect Lurid Murder to a Reader of Hentai Manga

I have no comment on this, as it seems pretty self-explanatory, and pretty self-evidently horrible and tragic. It's interesting to note that it's not just the connection to something strange and peculiar and foreign that's selling the story, but the juxtaposition of the two photos as well.
 
posted 4:37 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: Deerhoof Video



A Not Comics entry by cartoonist Alex Fellows.
 
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Franco Cosimo Panini, 1931-2007

Franco Panini, one of the famed Panini brothers who turned a newsstand in Modena into a massive sticker and card producer and newspaper distribution business, which later transmogrified into an even more massive Media Company including an important distributor and maker of comic books, died earlier today. If someone out there can correct my rudimentary knowledge of European comics business figures and complete lack of Italian, I'd appreciate it, but I believe the Panini Brothers sold what we think of as "We distribute Marvel and throw parties that Joe Quesada attends at Angouleme Panini" back in 1989, before it grew into its current comics-major-player status, and the later Mr. Panini became a high-end book publisher with a company of sort of the same name, a company that also included a comics initiative.
 
posted 4:19 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Charlie-Hebdo Trial Book Hits Market

image

Just a follow-up to note that Joann Sfar's book on the Charlie-Hebdo trial, Greffier, is out scant days after the court's decision, which I guess was the point.
 
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Angouleme Lays Future Groundwork

I'm not sure I'm reading this article by Didier Pasamonik totally correctly, but it seems as if he's saying there's going to be an alteration in the organization's administrative statues that will allow the Angouleme Festival to seek out external resources and companies to help with the festival -- the original organization would retain the brand. The move will have to be ratified by a proper quorum, which is scheduled for summer. I also like the reference to 2006 as "l'Annus Horribilis de 2006" -- god bless any comics organization with a tendency towards humorous self-mythology.

thank you to the crush of French-language readers who took me in their jaws and shook me back and forth before putting me down and having me rewrite this!
 
posted 4:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Fumetto Wraps Up In Lucerne

image

If there's one comics festival out there I'd like to attend, it would be Fumetto in Lucerne, Switzerland. Two reasons. One, it looks really, really gorgeous there. Two, the experience sounds like it would be different than most US comics festival because the commercial and promotional are dumped in favor of a series of high-end arts exhibition and a lot of informal socializing. Go here to check out what they've had on hand this year.
 
posted 4:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: They’re Like Bullies

image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image

I found this on my hard drive this morning, and don't really know what it is. It's funny, though.
 
posted 4:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
American Super Heroes Museum
Smithsonian to Exhibit Manga and Anime
Jordan Gorfinkel's Exhibit on Jewish Life in Munich

History
History of DC Comics Part 3
DC Actively Erasing Superboy
More Matt Fraction on Arnold Drake

Industry
Phil Hands Wins State Award
Al-Jazeera Looking For Cartoons

Interviews/Profiles
Inkstuds: Ellen Forney
Bay Windows: Ted Rall
NY Press: Adrian Tomine
Boston Globe: Rich Woodall
LA Times: Ward Sutton and Kelly
Auburn Journal: Andrew Lukkonen

Not Comics
Syracuse.com Profiles Barry Lyga
Marvel-Related Ad Campaign Sued
John Hiscock on Latest Round of Superduper Movies

Publishing
Please God, No
Something to Join Japan, Inc.

Reviews
Jog: Virgin Comics
Eddie Campbell: Passionella
Scott K. Reese: X-Men #197
Chris Mautner: Buffy, Beowulf
Scott K. Reese: Wolverine #52
Al Kratina: Civil War: Confessions
Graeme McMillan: Texas Strangers #1

 

 
March 29, 2007


Al Feldstein’s Parenting Advice

"When they called me in closed session before the Kefauver Committee, I said exactly that. I told them, 'The way to solve this problem is, if you don't want your kid to read Tales From The Crypt, tell them, "If I catch you reading that, I'll beat the shit out of you."'" -- a fun, short interview at A.V. Club
 
posted 7:56 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Boris Dimovski, 1925-2007

image

The Bulgarian cartoonist Boris Dimovski died on Monday at age 81. Dimovsky was a well-regarded painter and illustrator in addition to being a cartoonist. Born in the town of Yavrovo, his most famous cartoons may have been one from the late 1960s in poet Radoy Ralin's book Hot Peppers. To Ralin's statement "You'll have a full gut, if you keep your mouth shut" Dimovsky added a drawing of pig whose tail ends in an executive signature. Dimovsky and Ralin received grief after accusations that the signature was specifically intended to recall that of the communist leader Todor Zhivkov.

Dimovski later contributed to Daga one of the two significant comics-only magazine available during the 1970s and 1980s. For the magazine, he created the comic Once Upon a Time. Wire reports note that the artists also served as an MP in the 7th Great National Assembly.

A funeral, which was apparently well-attended by fellow Bulgarian artists, was held earlier today.
 
posted 4:41 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 83rd Birthday, Jack Elrod!

image 
posted 4:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Manganews: Libre Statement on CPM

Manganews.net has a statement from the Japanese publisher Libre on a current dispute over whether or not the North American company Central Park Media has a valid licensing arrangement for many of its Be Beautiful line's titles. Basically, they believe they have acquired all rights to negotiate on behalf of licenses previously held by by BIBLOS, who went bankrupt in April of last year, and that this terminated all existing agreements. Further, they accuse CPM of not even holding up their end of the BIBLOS agreements, asserting they believe the bankruptcy absolves them of doing so.

The author of the piece notes that a Japanese publishing company making a claim in public must be proof they're right; Dirk Deppey suggests that maybe they'd have been better off in court. I personally have no idea. I will join Dirk in his eminently sensible statement that you generally don't know enough to make strong statements until you see the papers filed and the law in question, and I'll further suggest that sometimes you have to wait for a decision or settlement because those can go against all logic seemingly supported by documentation. Multiply this by a billion for the international aspect and I'll take a comfortable seat in the wait and see lounge. To me the most telling part of the release is Libre's suggestion that other companies in CPM's shoes have already re-negotiated.
 
posted 4:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 78th Birthday, Mort Drucker!

image
 
posted 4:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Top Cow Downloads Are Now Live

In one of those moves that feels like a signpost on the momentum highway, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com reports that Top Cow has made the first of its comics available through IGN's Direct2Drive digital retail store. The report says that 400 comics will be made available through the service, which includes movies and games, by year's end. The price will be $1.99, $1 off of the typical price point, at least for now, and no work less than a year old will be uploaded, say officials.

Finding a way to make comics available to fans who want them on-line without causing a giant backlash in traditional retail outlets is an issue on every publisher's minds and will be until commitments are made by the largest companies with the biggest back catalogs. Top Cow may be best known for publishing fantasy-adventure comics featuring female protagonists bearing 1990s-style idealized pin-up figures. It's unclear with these moderately sized companies how valuable their back catalogs are, so this should be interesting in that sense as well.
 
posted 4:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Val Mayerik!

image
 
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go Forth, Ye Eligible Readers, And Vote

* the Eagle Awards, which many of you might remember as a sticker-looking insignia on the corner of prime-time early-era X-Men comics. That "Roll of Honour" nominees list encompasses more generations than most such lists.

* the Glyph Awards has a fan category, previously mentioned on this site. I voted for the superhero comic.

* the Harvey Awards enter into the final days of the nomination round. Go here to access a ballot. It's the most work of all the nomination processes, but since so few people take the time, it's the one where you and several friends can likely make your voice felt.
 
posted 4:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Marc Silvestri!

image

3/29/59 is what CBG has; for some reason I had it up as 3/3/58 last year, so who knows? Happy something-birthday sometime around here, Mr. Silvestri!
 
posted 4:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Free Comic Book Day Discussed
Peanuts Wall Presentation This Weekend

History
DC Comics History Part 2
The Multi-Alien: Kind of A Douchebag

Industry
Science Idol Contest Kicks Off Y2
Comics Conquered: I Had No Idea
David Welsh Rounds Up Library-Related Articles

Interviews/Profiles
AP: Virgin Comics
Wizard: Tad Williams
Newsarama: Eric Wight
Flying Colors: JH Williams
thenorthwestern.com: Mark Engel

Publishing
Chunchu! to DHC
Gizmodo Launches Comics

Reviews
Vichus Smith: Various
Geoff Hoppe: Batman #664
Al Kratina: The Barracuda #1
Rob Vollmar: Empowered Vol. 1
Hervé St-Louis: Martian Manhunter #8
Tom McLean: Guy Ritchie's Gamekeeper #1
Scott K. Reese: Doctor Strange: The Oath #5
Marc Singer: The Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 1
 

 
March 28, 2007


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

image

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.

*****

OCT060027 ALICE IN SUNDERLAND GN $29.95
I know some people who are looking forward to buying it and twice as many as want to see Bryan Talbot's new book and then decided if it's for them or not. I'm in the latter category. But I really want to see it.

JAN078263 CAPTAIN AMERICA 2ND PTG EPTING VAR #25 CW $3.99
FEB078049 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER VAR CVR NEW PTG #1 (PP #759) $2.99
FEB073431 DON'T GO WHERE I CANT FOLLOW GN (MR) $17.95
You can get a second shot at the serial comic book issues that were the focus of much discussion all month -- Captain America eating a bullet in Captain America #25, and the continuation of the Buffy saga Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #1 -- and/or another chance to buy one of the books everyone should be talking about right now, Anders Nilsen's Don't Go Where I Can't Follow.

JAN073666 HOUDINI HANDCUFF KING CENTER OF CARTOON STUDIES HC BOOK $16.99
Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi are smart to have released their straightforward, through the prism of a single day biography with CCS and the Disney folks during a moment in which people are actually talking about Harry Houdini again. How'd they manage that? Will we someday soon dig up the body of Satchel Paige?

NOV063528 OH SKINNAY HC $24.95
A new version of a 1913 book that looks like the 1913 book, Drawn & Quarterly's Oh Skin-nay! is a collaboration between the cartoonist Clare Briggs and the poet Wilbur Nesbit that looks at a year in a small town through a youth's eyes and activities. If you've read any essays, histories or novels from the first half of the 20th century, you'll recall how affectionately most people of that era remember being a kid in the pre-World War I era -- with its mix of outdoor and city activities, and America's slow reclamation of sport from its scariest, most violent elements. I look forward to this.

*****

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 5:39 am PST | Permalink
 

 
So: Are You Linked To From This Site?

What about your friends? What about your favorites?

I'm in the process of re-doing this site's links pages for the first time since September 2004. Please check it out and tell me if I'm missing something, particularly if what I'm missing is you. E-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with any changes, additions and/or suggestions.
 
posted 5:38 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Please Won’t Somebody Out There Publish Joel Meadows’ Studio Book?

image
 
posted 5:34 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Ahmed Abbas’ Appeal Has Been Denied

Scroll down a bit in this article for depressing news that on Monday the appeals court in Male rejected cartoonist's Ahmed Abbas' attempt to have his conviction-in-absentia from last Fall overturned. Although the RSF article says "the police have never clearly stated what Abbas, who is currently held in Maafushi, is alleged to have done," I thought he was being held because of statements made to a newspaper.
 
posted 5:07 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick! To The Nicholson Bakermobile!

image

A white knight is apparently needed for a massive collection of print magazine ads, which likely includes the work of several cartoonists -- like Peter Arno, above, for Stetson.
 
posted 4:59 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go Read: Comic Shop Closure Note

I found this note from the owners that Gemini Jetpack in Waterloo, Ontario is closing its doors interesting for a few reasons.

1) nearly every single justification one can imagine might make one want to close a comics and manga and anime store gets a mention in kind of a It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World of retailer complaints, including one or two that can't be true (Marvel's publishing arm is doing fine, for instance).

2) it makes note of a downturn (at least a local one) in the gaming market I generally know little to nothing about that I'm sure has had a great effect on comics shops that sell that material. It also mentions how much in terms of physical resources can be spent giving gamers space to play their games, and how that could be utilized in a different way, which is something I never thought about.

3) after bagging on the chaotic marketplace they end the note with a pitch for someone to buy the store. This is doubly funny in that one can imagine some fans would run the numbers in their head even if they were told the building was radioactive.
 
posted 4:24 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Suehiro Maruo Gallery

image

With word that the contents of the great anthology Garo are to be digitized comes anticipation for an increased appreciation of major contributors like Suehiro Maruo.
 
posted 4:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Chris Butcher Vs. Generation Entitlement

Actually, the retailer, sometimes-creator and frequent industry commentator's encounter with a young woman and aspiring artist is a lot less confrontational and a lot more encouraging than the title makes it sound. The underlying issue is a compelling one, no matter how you phrase it. It should be interesting to see how a generation of teens and early twenty-somethings will develop into accomplished artists coming of age in an era that has somehow managed to ascribe more significant cultural value to the act of stepping out of a car while flashing one's cooch -- or in less crude terms, how one gets past making art that offers status within a circle of friends and family and into the habit of making art that will, as much as the world allows, have wider, lasting value.

The best moment of Butcher's advice is when he goes beyond noting that focused dedication to improvement can bring about better results to underscore that such dedication can be an extension of the initial enthusiasm that drove the person. Too many people talking to young artists place an emphasis on stopping one direction before moving in another, and I think a lot of younger people never get past the stop part.
 
posted 4:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Le Gun Magazine

image
 
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Editors and Publishers

The men behind -- or right in the middle of -- your favorite comics publishing companies take a turn in the interview spotlight this week.

* PWCW's Douglas Wolk interview SLG's Dan Vado about the bottom-line realities of publishing independent comics.

* Blake Bell talks to the recently re-emerged Dean Mullaney about what happened to Eclipse, allowing Mullaney to give his side to that story.

* Vertical's Yani Mentzas talks with Newsarama about that company expanded manga plans and Tezuka's place within those plans.
 
posted 4:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Collectable Peanuts Box Set

image

The Collectable Peanuts Classic Box Set, Cider Mill Press, 1933662719 (ISBN), September 2007, either $39.95 or $49.95

One giant trade reprinting all the comic books and I can see my Peanuts collecting days come to a close.

spelling of "collectable" is theirs
 
posted 4:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Report From Abu Dhabi

History
DC Comics -- Part I

Industry
Semi-Generic Manga Article
Aurora and DBD Sign Agreement
Vote in the Glyph Comics Awards!
Desperado and DBD Sign Agreement
Hero Initiative Expands; Hires Full Time Prez

Interviews/Profiles
Journal-Inquirer: Stephen Starger
Readexpress.com: The Stagger Lee Team

Not Comics
Scott Nickel Looks Like GI Joe
A Collector/Selling Site That Sent Me an E-Mail

Publishing
Another Edition of Flood!
AdHouse In June: The Aviary, SS #2
CulturePulp Moves to Webcomics Nation

Reviews
Richard Pachter: Various
Gina Ruiz: Adventures in Oz
Gina Ruiz: Samurai: Heaven and Earth
Don MacPherson: BPRD: The Universal Machine
Bill Sherman: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service
 

 
March 27, 2007


Senator Hillary Clinton’s Lawyers File to Keep Her Out of Peter Paul Fraud Suit

I'm not sure I'd trust the source given what seems like an upfront political bias/axe to grind in the company's mission statement and because even though they've been around for nine years I've never heard of them. And to be honest, some of the details sound strange to me. The general thrust of the news story seems pretty straight-forward: Senator Hillary Clinton does not want to testify in former Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter Paul's fraud case about potential and past-proved Senatorial campaign fund-raising discrepancies while running for president, or, one imagines, pretty much ever.
 
posted 3:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Drew Friedman Interview

image
 
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go Read: Ville Ranta Interview

If you're interested at all in autobiographical comics, I'd recommend this interview with Ville Ranta at du9, even if you can only read it via an on-line translation. Xavier Guilbert draws out some interesting facts about the cartoonist's approach, such as how in Papa est un peu fatigue Ranta drew on a lot of comics-heavy journal pages but really worked with them and focused his inquiry rather than publishing essentially raw drafts. He also talks about working with Lewis Trondheim on a more standard album and how the ephemeral nature of web publishing, the ability to publish things temporarily, frees up what he can say.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 80th Birthday, Hy Eisman!

image
 
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Part-Time Writers Become Full-Time

Actually, in the case of writing as a job, it's generally "people writing full-time already feel comfortable enough to drop the other job they've been doing, moving from a 120 to an 80 hour work week." But you get my meaning, I'm sure.

* Rich Johnston has word from DC editorial mainstay Pete Tomasi is using the springboard of a screenplay sale to become a DC exclusive writer.

* In addition to delighting our inner numbers-geek with Comichron.com, former Krause Publications anchor John Jackson Miller is now a full-time freelance writer as well.

* Not related really at all, but like Zack Mayo it had nowhere else to go: four writers including sometimes-comics writer Paul Di Filippo have launched a blog named after the The Inferior Five.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Mike Friedrich!

image
 
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Click: Jim Woodring Links

* Jim Woodring video, with the great cartoonist speaking on the Age of Cake

* actual cake

* photos from Woodring's new art exhibit at the Fantagraphics store in Seattle
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
History Exhibit Opens in Hanoi
Big Alt-Comics Signing at Comix Experience 4/20

History
I Never Knew There Was An Atomic Age
Comic Books Have Been Around a Long Time

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Charlie Huston

Not Comics
Go See Lynda Barry's Play
One of Those Culture War Articles

Reviews
Jog: Garage Band
Jog: Army@Love #1
Paul O'Brien: Various
Koppy McFad: 52 #46
Jog: Essex County Vol. 1
Jason Mott: The Killer #3
Al Kratina: Eternals #1-7
Graeme McMillan: Various
Graeme McMillan: Various
Don MacPherson: Ion #12
Paul O'Brien: X-Factor #17
Koppy McFad: The Spirit #4
Hervé St-Louis: Eternals #7
Paul O'Brien: Army@Love #1
Koppy McFad: Shadowpact #11
Jog: The Brave and the Bold #2
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Hervé St-Louis: Black Panther #25
Paul O'Brien: X-Men: First Class #7
Hervé St-Louis: Street Fighter II #5
Leroy Douresseaux: Fox Bunny Funny
Al Kratina: Helmet of Fate: Zauriel #1
Geoff Hoppe: Love & Rockets Vol. 2 #18
Hervé St-Louis: Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #47
Hervé St-Louis: Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #48
Hervé St-Louis: Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #49
Hervé St-Louis: Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50
Hervé St-Louis: Street Fighter Legends Sakura #4
Leroy Douresseaux: Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: The Gentlemen's Alliance -Cross- Vol. 1

 

 
March 26, 2007


Newsarama: Marshall Rogers, RIP

image
 
posted 10:32 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Drew Hayes, 1969/70-2007

Lawrence Andrew (Drew) Hayes, the creator of the Poison Elves comic book, died last Wednesday in his hometown in Bellingham, Washington. According to his publisher, the cause of death was a heart attack brought on as a complication during a bout of pneumonia. Although this latest bout of sickness followed years of health problems related to cardiac issues, the end came suddenly and surprised those close to the artist.

Hayes first made his appearance on the comics scene in 1991 by self-publishing I, Lusiphur through his own Mulehide Graphics. He would eventually change the size from magazine-sized to standard comic book and the title from I, Lusiphur to Poison Elves. Like many of the independent comics of its era, Poison Elves afforded Hayes a personal vehicle through which to tell stories as well as a platform for supplementary writing and more direct interaction with fans through letters and responses to same. My memory is that the book itself was a dark fantasy with a few contemporary trappings that blended a lot of genres, that it was intended for adult audiences, that it contained a significant and rough humor element, and that it was perhaps best known for the frequent, anti-heroic actions of its lead.

imageHayes was part of two larger comics trends -- the first towards self-publishing in the early 1990s, and the second a move by many self-publishers into publishing arrangements with established publishers as the industry entered choppy waters at mid-decade. Hayes moved Poison Elves to Sirius Entertainment in June 1995, ending the Mulehide run at issue #20. (If I remember correctly, Hayes had promised to return to the Mulehide run and finish out a story there over four issues, but never got back to it).

For Sirius, Hayes would create 79 issues of the black and white Poison Elves comic and one color special, reaching a wider audience during a rough sales period of comic books generally and black and white efforts specifically. There were also a number of supplementary items created in the 1990s. Hayes and Sirius put together an aggressive trade program featuring books from the Mulehide and the Sirius runs; Hayes was one of the first cartoonists who repeatedly worked in small arcs of the kind that allowed for easy collection into trade paperback form. With Hayes' help, Sirius became an established presence for its creator-driven, black and white fantasy and science fantasy comics.

The final Hayes effort for Sirius was issue 2004's #79. According to Sirius publisher Robb Horan, Hayes planned on a return to his series starting with issue #80, and resuming a quarterly schedule.

Hayes had in recent years faced a number of health problems, up to and including those that required hospitalization.

Drew Hayes is survived by his mother and a daughter. He was 37 years old.
 
posted 4:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* A woman who lost her husband in the Madrid bombings wears a t-shirt with a Muhammed cartoon on it to the trial of Islamic radicals; the thing is, the shirt as described sounds nothing like any of the cartoons.

* According to Keith Knight, the Muhammed cartoons had an effect on the American market for editorial cartoons and illustration: not a good effect, either.

* The Danish Cartoons Controversy will show up in a lot of articles as context over the next few years where there is any sort of violence or protesting over religious issues.
 
posted 4:07 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

image
 
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Meaning-Lite Euro-Comics

Matthias Wivel has a piece up well worth your time where he takes a snapshot of modern European comics and finds a lot of works that are beautifully crafted, but don't have a lot to say. This is an interesting issue to me because I do think there are comics that are like that because of market pressures or failure of ambition on the behalf of a creator or creators, but I also think there are artists who create surpassing works composed of building blocks restricted to the surface elements of comics.
 
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Brian Bolland!

image
 
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: CPM/Libre Walk-Through

Jordan Marks goes over the dispute between Central Park Media and the publisher Libre about licensing issues, step by step, clearly marking what's known and what acts as an assumption. The end result is a much better informed "we don't really know." That sounds like a joke but it's actually very helpful.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 51st Birthday, Mark Verheiden!

image
 
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Alan Gardner’s OSU Visit

Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist visits the Cartoon Research Library at Ohio State University. Even if you had a good weekend, it's likely it could have been a better one if you had spent some of that time looking at Calvin and Hobbes and Prince Valiant originals.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 46th Birthday, Mitch O’Connell!

image
 
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Mort Walker: 2007 Gold Key Winner

The National Cartoonists Society has announced that industry mainstay Mort Walker will win that group's Gold Key Award, which will be given out at the Reubens dinner during late May's annual meeting. Walker is best known for the comics Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois, but he's also the founder of the well-traveled National Cartoon Museum and a past NCS president. According to this Editor & Publisher article, the Silver T-Square will go to Joe and Luke McGarry for various volunteer services to the organization.
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
R Crumb Exhibit Review
Robert Kirkman Mini-Tour PR

History
Comics Are Good For Business
Comics Are a Serious Business
Wired Loves Those Wacky Panels

Industry
Unscrewed! Auction PR
Tim Simms on the Comics Boom
Analysis of Christian Comics Trends

Interviews/Profiles
Esquire: Frank Miller
KSL.com: Pat Bagley
MLive.com: Dust Press
LSJ.com: Jason Howard
Vanderbilt: Jorge Cham
Mlive.com: Alex Horvath
The Star: Padung Kraisri
Toronto Star: Gahan Wilson
WSAW.com: Wausau's Finest
GulfNews.com: Samah Farouq
Rome News-Tribune: Mike Lester
Houston Chronicle: Mohamed Khalifa

Publishing
Beetle Bailey Adds a Client
Ultron Now an Attractive Lady
Maybe He Can Show How a Page is Lettered

Reviews
AV Club: Various
Gina Ruiz: Someday
Randy Myers: Various
Cliff Froehlich: Various
Gina Ruiz: Chicken With Plums
Suzanne Alyssa Andrew: Escape From Special
Jai Arjun Singh: The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers
 

 
March 25, 2007


CR Sunday Magazine

A Few More Things on the Passing of Jay Kennedy

* a collective memory entry rounding up links related to Jay Kennedy and his passing on March 15 can be found here.

image* Bill Griffith wrote in to say a Zippy tribute strip to Kennedy will run on April 9. He sent along a copy and it's sweet and sad. I thought about excerpting it here, but I don't want to aggravate King or make a presumption on Griffith's behalf. I regret not mentioning Zippy the Pinhead in the CR obituary. While the strip was at King Features before Kennedy got there, Kennedy was an ardent supporter, was actively involved in its editing and promotion from his first days inside the offices which meant he had a 20-year relationship with the strip, and it's no secret that the strip being there was part of King's appeal to Jay, something Griffith mentions in his April 9 installment.

* two personal essays about interacting with Jay Kennedy have been added to the CR site: the great underground comics historian Patrick Rosenkranz recounts a funny and revealing series of encounters here; a section that was going to be included in this site's obituary about what Kennedy was like as an editor, later excised, has been expanded and made its own entry here.

* another regret I have is that in my obituary I didn't find a place to emphasize his enthusiasm for politics and journalism, which multiple people mentioned and which were passions that Kennedy held without making him a strident or off-putting person, a major life achievement in and of itself. He was one of the few comics lifers with an obvious well-rounded perspective that fed and did not diminish his interest in the form.

* I hope now that ten days have passed and because of Kennedy's interest in journalism that he won't mind if I suggest two future stories related to his passing for which you should keep an eye out: how King Features moves on personnel-wise, and the eventual fate of Kennedy's world-class collection.

*****

Five Link A Go Go

* the Washington Post offers a stupendously content-heavy Tom Toles archive.

* the folks who post to the Engine look at a week's worth of largely inarticulate (that goes double for me) postings about 1970s comics and begin listing comics from that era that are valuable and/or worthy of rediscovery. It always interests me that those discussions still involve a lot of reclaiming or rehabilitating childhood memories and perspectives, whereas discussion of 1970s films by film buffs of the same age probably wouldn't spend as much time pointing out the good elements of The Apple Dumpling Gang or The Bad News Bears.

* Abhay Khosla's running commentary on the month in comics is always worth a read, even though he hates on me a little bit, by association, and it made me cry in a sitting with my back against a row of lockers around the corner from the high school dance sort of way.

* a pair of people people have written in to mention that Ralph Steadman did one of those shows on C-Span through Book TV.org in January, and that it's likely something that many people may want to keep an eye out for via their local listings if it works it way through the broadcast schedule once again.

* one thing about accidentally dropping The Watcher's web site from your permanent links page -- like Santa, he knows about it immediately. This mention will hopefully remind me to add it back in.

*****

Go, Look: Koren Shadmi

image

*****

First Thought Of The Day
Last night, on the way home from the movies, we stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up a package of bandages that no one else in town carries. And there were a lot of young people there. Young people that had apparently come to Wal-Mart on dates.

panel from a 2006 Zippy
 
posted 3:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 24, 2007


CR Week In Review

image

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

1. An acquittal in the Charlie-Hebdo face, where a magazine editor was facing a stiff fine and a short jail term if convicted, for publishing and re-publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed.

2. Claims made by Libre that Central Park Media has been fueling its comeback via titles without proper licensing agreements.

3. Nominations for the 2007 Reuben Award and the NCS Division Awards announced.

Winner Of The Week
Dean Mullaney is back.

Loser Of The Week
The '70s were slack.

Quote Of The Week
"I began this bacon club documentation project with the loftiest of aspirations." -- Chris Onstad

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
posted 12:31 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 23, 2007


Local Paper Confirms Hayes Passing

I wanted to get this out there because there's bound to be some Internet discussion of a hoax. Drew Hayes was 37 years old.
 
posted 10:14 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distractions: Comichron.com

image

John Jackson Miller's site of ownership statements and sales lists is a peculiar kind of fun, but it's still fun.

Update: I apologize if we killed the site. Maybe bookmark it if it doesn't come up...?
 
posted 4:56 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Paris Mosque Probably Won’t Appeal

About the only new news I can glean from articles on yesterday's exoneration of Charlie-Hebdo and Philippe Val on charges "publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion" is that the initial impulse of La Grande Mosquee de Paris is to not join co-plaintiff the Union of Islamic Organizations in France in their planned appeal. This statement at the mosque's web site from Dr. Dalil Boubakeur says the group feels justified by statements in the decision that their bringing the suit was just, and that while political pressure may have come down on the side of the caricaturists, the court's decision could also be seen as a warning against this kind of speech.
 
posted 3:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Booklist Online’s Top Ten Graphic Novels For Youth, 2007

image

I know there seem to be lists like this every week, but this one (click through the image) not only seems solid it manages to have avoided adding that one super-oddball, what-the-hell choice that distinguishes a lot of these efforts.
 
posted 3:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Washington’s New Editorial Cartoonists

The other Washington, that is. Todd Matthew's feature article looks at the state of editorial cartooning from a different perspective -- a local one, spotlighting the people who are doing it, how they're doing it, and what they bring to the table. I found it pretty interesting.
 
posted 3:29 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Reubens Noms More Widely Released

image

The nominees for this May's Reuben Awards have been given wider release -- by which I mean I was able to find them as opposed to this accurately describing some intentional tiered release schedule. For discussion of the awards, my bet is on Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist.

I had wondered out load in oafish fashion if they were going to drop the comic book divisional award, but they haven't.

**The Big Award, aka "The Reuben"**

Cartoonist of the Year
Bill Amend
Dave Coverly
Dan Piraro

**NCS Divisional Awards**

Advertising Illustration
Craig McKay
Jack Pittman
Tom Richmond

Book Illustration
Mike Lester, 93 In My Family
Wiley Miller, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Ordinary Basil
Adrian Sinnott, Caveman Manners

Comic Book
Cancer Vixen, Marisa Acocella Marchetto
American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang
Chicken With Plums, Marjane Satrapi

Editorial Cartoons
Mike Lester
Glenn McCoy
Mike Ramirez

Feature Animation
Peter De Seve, Character Design (Fox) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Carter Goodrich, Character Design (Sony) Open Season
Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick, Directors (Dreamworks) Over The Hedge

Gag Cartoons
Drew Dernavich
Mick Stevens
P.C. Vey

Greeting Cards
Kevin Ahern
Pat Byrnes
Carla Ventresca

Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration
Steve Brodner
Tom Richmond
Jean-Jacques Sempe

Newspaper Comic Strips
Bill Griffith
Stephan Pastis
Mark Tatulli

Newspaper Illustration
Sean Kelly
Robert Sanchuk
Laurie Triefeldt

Newspaper Panels
Tony Carrillo
Keiran Meehan
Hilary Price

Television Animation
David Hulin, Geico Gecko
Steve Loter, Kim Possible
Craig McCracken, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends

*****

a magazine illustration from magazine illustration nominee Steve Brodner
 
posted 2:49 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Beat: Drew Hayes Passes Away

Heidi MacDonald at The Beat has a notice up saying that Poison Elves creator Drew Hayes has passed away. Hayes' comic was one of the hardier survivors of the brutal 1990s comics business landscape, and one of the exemplars of that wave of single artist/single title independent comic books.
 
posted 2:41 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Book Publisher Releases

image

image

image

I know it's more than slightly absurd to consider releases from big book publishers as off the beaten path, but sometimes they can be for huge portions of the comics audience. The Kim Deitch book, for instance, completely passed me by, and it's probably out in some form right now.
 
posted 2:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Stories I Only Have In E-Mail Form

* Megan Kelso's Watergate Sue will start in the New York Times Magazine April 1 and run in installments on Sundays for about six months.

* According to an e-mail distributed by writer Cory Doctorow, the publisher IDW is going to adapt six of his stories into commercial comics -- Andas Game, I, Robot, After the Siege, When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, Nimby and the D-Hoppers, Craphound. Where this become interesting, and I'm bound to trip over my typing fingers here, is that Doctorow and his agent worked out special contractual language in order to work with IDW in this matter, while having the stories retain their Creative Commons status in all other forms.

* Titan is licensing an 84-page Superman publication from DC to sell in the UK, Superman Legends, initially featuring recent Grant Morrison, Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb serials from different North American comic books.

* Jon Cooke writes in to say that the documentary on which he's been working with brother Andrew Cooke, Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist, has been invited to the Tribeca Film Festival to be entered into competition. This means, among other things, that the film will be completed sooner rather than later.
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Stagger Lee On Tour

History
Manga Part of Teen-Lit Golden Age

Industry
Big Time Profile of Webcomics
Politics Leads to French Comics Boom
Rob Vollmar Joins Manga Worth Reading

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: RD Hall
Chris Mautner: Yaoi
Kansas City Star: Bruno Pieroni
The Daily News: Brandon Jerwa
Vandalia Drummer News: Heroes 4 Sale
Marin Independent Journal: Creig Flessel

Larry Young
SBC Interview
Pop Syndicate Interview
Newsarama Interview (with Jon Proctor)

Not Comics
Alex Chun on TMNT Movie Backstory

Publishing
PR-Driven Profile of Red 5
Harry N Abrams Republishing M
Jeff Lemire Launches Soft Instruments

Reviews
Brian Hibbs: Various
Jason Mott: The Killer #3
Mark Allen: Shark-Man #1
Rob Vollmar: Ode to Kirihito
Eric Burns: Order of the Stick
Geoff Hoppe: Green Lantern #17
Leroy Douresseaux: Backstage Prince Vol. 1
 

 
March 22, 2007


Philippe Val, Publisher of Charlie Hebdo, Acquitted in France Earlier Today

imageNews wires are starting to crackle with word that the publisher of the weekly Charlie Hebdo was found not guilty on the charge of "public defamation of a group of people because of their religion." The magazine published three caricatures of Muhammed in February 2006. Val had been facing a $30K fine and six months in jail. One of the complainants, the Union of Islamic Organizations in France, has already said it will appeal.

thanks to el tio berni at entrecomics
 
posted 5:56 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Former Shop Owner Faces Further Charges In Middle Tennessee

A pretty self-explanatory article, noteworthy here only because the article cites his former profession to a much greater effect than would probably take place if he were an actuary or a pet supplies distributor. I certainly don't endorse the implication, but I think it's worth noting.
 
posted 3:34 am PST | Permalink
 

 
E&P Peeks at the Reubens List

imageEditor & Publisher has a hold of the nominations for the National Cartoonists Society's awards program, including the Reuben for cartoonist of the year and the NCS divisional award offering prizes to an array of cartooning-related achivements. Up for the big award this year are Bill Amend (FoxTrot), Dave Coverly (Speed Bump), and Dan Piraro (Bizarro).

Other nominees made known through the article include:

Best Comic Strip Cartoonist
Bill Griffith, Stephan Pastis, Mark Tatulli
Best Comic Panel
Tony Carrillo, Hilary Price, Keiran Meehan
Editorial Cartoonist
Mike Lester, Glenn McCoy, Mike Ramirez

I'm sort of interested to know if they dumped the comic book category for good.

The winner of the big prize and the 12 divisional categories will be named May 26 at the famously formal attire required NCS awards dinner, this year in Orlando, Florida.

a cartoon by Dave Coverly. My hunch is that it's his year
 
posted 2:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Clyde Schmidt, 1921-2007

image

Clyde Schmidt, a sports cartoonist for over four decades at The Daily Review in Hayward, California, passed away on Tuesday.

Schmidt was born in Pittsburgh and educated at Carnegie Mellon. He served in the Navy in both World War II and in Korea. Judging from the biographical information he provided the National Cartoonists Society, it looks as if Schmidt started with technical drawing while in the Navy and then moved into freelance commercial art and then cartooning. He cites You Can Draw Cartoons by Lou Darvas as a particular inspiration in that document.

He split time between mechanical work and his art until his retirement from the former in the early 1970s. Schmidt's greatest contribution to The Daily Review was a long-running series of cartoon portraits depicting the area's high school player of the week. That feature ended after a 40-plus year run early this decade. Schmidt was likely one of the last sports cartoonists -- once a position on roughly equal standing with editorial cartooning -- that worked on a regular basis.

Clyde Schmidt was 86 years old. He is survived by a wife of 52 years, two daughters, and multiple grandkids and great-grandkids.
 
posted 2:31 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 67th Birthday, Spain Rodriguez!

image
 
posted 2:23 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Please Stop Downloading Now, Please

The comments thread to this posting at Comics Worth Reading about writer Dan Slott asking people nicely not to download his comics seemingly has it all when it comes to popular ideas and thoughts about downloading comics: it leads to people buying the comics, it's the same as library copies or passed audio tapes, it's an inevitable circumstance made possible by technology and won't be stopped so you better learn to deal, the culpability of comics companies in creators rights issues absolves anyone who downloads and so on. If you wanted to experience the arguments for and against in one place, this may be the thread for you.

I only ever have two thoughts about downloads.

My first thought, which is really a side point, is that it's funny to me how few people stand up and admit they'd prefer getting these comics for free than buying them in the store. There's always some sort of agonized explanation about shelf copies not being available, or that they only ever try stuff they wouldn't try otherwise. Let me 'fess up if no one else will. I would greatly prefer to get downloads of today's superhero comics for free above paying for them in the store. Heck, I'd prefer a free download to getting them for free in a box. In fact, considering many of today's comics serials are plot-driven, meaning you read them for developments in the ongoing story rather than as a stand-alone, pleasurable experience, downloading them for free may be the ideal way to get them. I wouldn't mind seeing Ed Brubaker's stiff, semi-nerdy Captain America take a bullet. I wouldn't mind seeing that Buffy comic. I wouldn't mind seeing whatever weird, genocidal plotline is delighting America in 52. I mean, come on.

My second thought is that I choose not to read free downloads because it seems in almost every case to be against the wishes of the creators or the people to whom they've ceded those decision-making rights. I'm not sure when that stopped mattering. I'm also pretty certain that second-guessing this, deciding you know what's better for someone else's creation, is kind of arrogant. No matter how great my me-wanty feelings, I have no discernible right to anything someone else makes. If they want to sign contracts with Marvel and not put it on-line, I don't get to say no. If they want to put the originals in a box and throw it off a boat, that's okay, too. If they want to print on solid gold paper and sell the results for $10,000 apiece, I don't get a vote. I can call you a name, but I don't get to veto your decision. There's something that seems so disrespectful about telling people how they should provide something, and I just never got that.
 
posted 1:48 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 21, 2007


So Whatever Happened to AdHouse’s Pulphope: The Art of Paul Pope?

image

According to an e-mail from AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer, the frequently delayed, well-appointed book featuring the work of Paul Pope has finally been sent to the printers, and should find its way into people's hands by mid-summer.


 
posted 10:04 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Wizard World LA Photos

image

The above is from Richard Starkings' nice run of photos taken and sketches drawn at the recent Wizard World: Los Angeles 2007 convention; here's a different set of photos with a report stuck on top. I think it's interesting that the show hasn't become a big one -- it seems like just, what, three year ago or so that gossip of Wizard moving their LA show into direct competition with San Diego's Comic-Con International had people really scratching their heads over what might happen. I don't think a moderately sized show is a bad thing at all, but I'm not certain Wizard's model allows for a scaled-down version that doesn't feel more like a big con with light attendance.
 
posted 10:02 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
E&P on Pitt Exhibit
Greg at Centre Belge
Hector Cantu to be Honored
Campaign Cartoons Focus of Exhibit

History
Man to Read 1000-plus 2000 ADs
Article From David Wallis' Killed Cartoons

Industry
Who's Buying the Comics

Interviews/Profiles
Mr. Skin: Peter Bagge
Newsarama: Mike Mignola
Newsarama: Kazu Kibuishi

Publishing
New Schodt Book
New Dr. Fate Delayed
Shinchosa to Launch On-Line Magazine
Secondary Strip Promotes Primary One

Reviews
Juliet Walters: Aya
Jog: Army@Love #1
Douglas Wolk: Various
Brian Hibbs: Exiles #92
Elizabeth Chou: Micrographica
Rick Klaw: It Rhymes With Lust
Eric Burns: Questionable Content
Leroy Douresseaux: Wild Adapter Vol. 1
 

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

image

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.

*****

NOV060022 FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER TP $19.95
I spent a lot of time in the fifth and sixth grade reading fantasy paperbacks, and I always wanted to like Fritz Lieber's big fella/little fella pairing more than I did. There was something about the prose style that just didn't work for me that at that age. I really like the character design above, though, and I like all three of the mainstream talents listed as working on the book just fine, including birthday boy Al Williamson. One thing that's worth noting, too, is that this is a trade that seems to exist for a typical publishing reason beyond "get a trade out there" -- my experience is that it's actually sort of hard to find these original comics.

NOV060026 IT RHYMES WITH LUST TP $14.95
I know the work has appeared recently elsewhere, but this is the version of the Arnold Drake/Matt Baker graphic novel that the just-passed writer seemed to be promoting, so if that kind of thing matters to you this is the one to get. I have no idea how it reads, although the title suggests a slightly lurid ride ahead without much risk of hidden depth. If nothing else, this may double the number of people who know who Matt Baker is when he appears on the Eisner Hall of Fame ballot this summer.

JAN070363 ARMY @ LOVE #1 (MR) $2.99
Combining battlefield action, satire and soap opera romance in a new comic book series seems like one of those things where you're more interested in how the hell such a concept made it into print than you are in the final result. Rick Veitch is one of the smarter Vertigo-style writers ever, though, and I refuse to ever count him out. Plus, I thought Preacher had maybe five issues in it, so what the hell do I know?

JAN071934 GIRLS #23 (MR) $2.99
On many levels the bloodiest, nerdiest episode of Zalman King's Red Shoe Diaries ever, the Luna Brothers' Girls definitely has one thing going for it: I have no idea how it's going to end. Well, I have no idea how it will end beyond the fact it will likely me cringe a few times at its take on social and sexual politics. The big ending happens one issue from this one. In this, the penultimate issue, there are more naked chicks eating people and the weirdest thank-you in adventure comics history.

FEB073452 BUDDY DOES JERSEY GN (MR) $14.95
For all the talk of the great new format for the Love and Rockets library, few have noted that Peter Bagge went down this path first with his easy to handle two-volume collection of Hate. These stories were sort of controversial at the time, as fans that really enjoyed the Seattle snapshots and the wild, excessively emotional aspects of Bagge's art on the groundbreaking title looked at the color and the move to New Jersey as sure signs of sellout.

I never could figure out how moving your characters from Seattle to Jersey could ever be considered a sellout move unless Buddy were in the mob, but easing back on the pressure for the comic to document the lives of all young cool people everywhere gave the Buddy Bradley saga a funny, oddball, disjointed and unique energy over its last full act. I liked it a ton. These stories are in black and white, which means art-related accusations of the book kowtowing to the Man must now arise from Jim Blanchard's super-lovely inking.

JAN073617 KIN-DER KIDS SC $16.95
A collection featuring one of the top 100 comics of all time. If you don't already have it in Kitchen Sink form, you need it.

*****

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 3:49 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Nobody Won Means Nobody Won

I generally prefer pointing out news stories about last year's Danish Cartoons Controversy to discussing the issues they might bring up. More than any other comics- or cartoon-related story ever, Jyllands-Posten's Fall 2005 decision to publish multiple caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed and the resulting violence, political upheaval and economic maneuvering tends to bring out the inexact arguing mechanism, with its common "you are saying this, and therefore you are also saying this" construction. That being said, after reading this story and this interview, I'd like to say something.

None of the people involved in the original publication of the caricatures deserved the grief and fear that's hounded them, that's true. But they don't deserve awards, either, or to have their spin taken at face value. Flemming Rose says the publication of those caricatures wasn't intended to provoke but to instigate conversation. Okay. I have a friend who walks wild-eyed back into bars who later swears on the way to the hospital he just wanted to talk to the guy, too. But leave that aside. There are ten thousand ways a newspaper can instigate a conversation that have nothing to do with taking a stand by pulling a stunt, that are about asking questions rather than making statements, that are about relating a story rather than deciding to be one. What Jyllands-Posten did by publishing the caricatures had almost nothing to do with the children's book illustration quandary that preceded it, a story that eventually played itself out on a completely different track. Publishing the caricatures was grandstanding, in the worst possible way. It didn't inform the issues facing Europe as their Muslim communities grow; it exploited those issues.

If Jyllands-Posten had published depictions of Muhammed in pursuit of a story, just like every journalistic entity should have last year in order to best fulfill their primary obligation to inform and educate, they'd deserve a lot of awards. But choosing to do so given the vast array of options they had at their disposal in 2005 deserves disapproval, not praise, no matter how we might feel about what they suffered.

Even if you see the publication of caricatures as a valid choice for the newspaper, and this kind of thing well within the bounds of responsible journalism, it's clear this was at least a poorly executed instigation of dialog, with little of impact in the way of comparable follow-up, put out there in a way that gave opportunity to some really not-nice people to convince others to do some awful things. When your stand on a public issue gives international credence on any level to an outcome of violence, economic distress and death, you don't get to run a victory lap.
 
posted 2:41 am PST | Permalink
 

 
IDW To Do Little Orphan Annie, Too

imageAccording to the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com, the third jewel in IDW's burgeoning strip reprint crown will be Little Orphan Annie, last reprinted in an aborted series of volumes by Fantagraphics Books. Unlike that company's 1990s Pogo reprints, which their new Jeff Smith-designed Pogo efforts should blow out of the water, the Little Orphan Annie books were actually not bad, minus one unfortunate production malfunction in one of the volumes. They were of a good size, the covers were attractive, and they each published a year's worth of strips, which was a satisfying chunk of material. So it's good to hear that the IDW series will start somewhere other than that run.

Few who grew up with Andrea McArdle and the other, odder versions of the musical (Carol Burnett! Albert Finney! Kathie Lee Gifford!) tends to believe this, but Little Orphan Annie is an all-time strip, a first-rate decency fantasy expressed through shameless soap opera, with just enough adventure dropped in to please those of us that like that kind of thing, and Gray's lovely art and idiosyncratic take on the human condition on display at all times.

Also, I had no idea Dean Mullaney had resurfaced.
 
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 76th Birthday, Al Williamson!

image
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
How and Why the ‘70s Mattered, When of Course They Didn’t Really Matter

imageThere's a few articles about 1970s comic books floating around right now which kind of go after two separate issues: whether or not the 1970s were an important decade in the development of modern superhero comics, and whether or not those comics were generally terrible or totally awesome compared to today's efforts.

I find the first notion odd, because obviously the decade of the 1970s was important to modern superhero comics; that's where they started. Superhero comics continue to utilize the 1970s model: writers and artists, most with serious intentions, trying to rewrite or extend someone else's creations primarily through the rules of soap opera, using as a general springboard the tropes of heroic fantasy leavened by moments of reality and relevance. Maybe five percent of the superhero comic books I've encountered in the last 10 years I can read and not see Steve Englehart, Chris Claremont and/or Don McGregor staring back at me. Neal Adams' inchoate corrective to Jack Kirby's approach to art still seems to me the dominant approach visually, too. Throw in the rise of the fan/pro (twin poles: Paul Levitz, Gary Groth) and the development of the comic book direct market and you could argue it's been all-'70s all the time ever since.

Whether or not the North American comics of the 1970s are that much worse than other decades' output depends largely on how you define some things. I'm one of those who thinks the comic book part of the art form in general bottomed out in the late 1970s between the fade of the late undergrounds and the rise of alternative comic books. But if you're defining comics as primarily superhero comic books, you get into some tricky territory, largely because from my viewpoint none of them are all that great. I don't think much of the cream of the crop of 1970s superhero comic books in terms of their being entertaining, well-crafted and meaningfully humane narratives. At best they're Starsky and Hutch, not Mean Streets. An off-episode of Starsky and Hutch. An off-episode of Starsky and Hutch with the Antonio Fargas scenes spliced out. Then again, I don't really find many of the 1980s and 1990s or today's heroic adventure comics significantly more effective on that front, beyond a rise in some elements of surface sophistication.

Moreover, if you look at mainstream comics that thrived outside of those strictures, the 1970s do okay. I like Jack Kirby's 1970s comics far more than anything the big companies publish now, but it's not like I can argue Kamandi #10's crazy-ass, lurid bat-monster scenes betray an adult sensibility. And if you argue from a point of view that the entertainment value of what goes into a piece of pulpy art has an impact that's as valuable as and is distinct from a comparison of literary qualities, that sensibility exists beyond the intention of the creators, you can make an easy case that, say, "Sweaty Pat Harrington lookalike Swordsman shows up on the Avengers doorstep with his hooker girlfriend, continues to be crappy at job, eventually becomes a sentient plant" has it all over Mark Millar's Eminem lookalike proclaiming he's giving it to you in the ass.
 
posted 1:59 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 45th Birthday, Mark Waid!

image
 
posted 12:47 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Everyone’s Already Seen These, Right?

Not comics.

Neither is this.
 
posted 12:42 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Pitt Hosts Anti-War Cartoonists

History
Craig Yoe Profiles Grandma
Too Many Marvel Comics Per Franchise?

Industry
Shop Closes After 28 Years
McGill Honors Terry Mosher
Really Fine Jay Kennedy Obituary
Possible Basis For Comics In Libraries Backlash
Jeremy Atkins Named Director of Publicity at Dark Horse

Interviews/Profiles
Fleen: Jennie Breeden
Mundo Fantasma: Baru
PWCW: Stephen Robson
Panel to Panel: Bryan Talbot
Mundo Fantasma: Ellen Forney
The Manila Bulletin Online: Dan Vado
Panels and Pixels: Aline Kominsky-Crumb

Not Comics
Disputing Cruddy Gates For Prez Idea

Publishing
More on IDW and Terry
Guardian on UK-Flavored Minx Book
Superfan to Write Comic Book Issue
Gabrielle Bell Interprets Emily Dickinson

Reviews
Shawn Hoke: Cafe Royal
Geoff Hoppe: Batman/Danger Girl
Don MacPherson: Texas Strangers #1
Don MacPherson: Usagi Yojimbo #100
Erica Friedman: Read or Dream Vol. 3
Andrew A. Smith: Wisdom From The Batcave
 

 
March 20, 2007


Jay Kennedy, 1956-2007

imageJay Kennedy, the editor in chief of King Features Syndicate and a prominent comics editor and historian, died on Thursday, March 15, drowning during a riptide incident while on vacation in Costa Rica. He was 50 years old.

Kennedy was born in 1956 in Toledo, Ohio and was raised for the majority of his childhood in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He displayed an artistic inclination at an early age, according to his brother, Bruce Kennedy. "In elementary school he loved to build Lego sculptures way beyond other kids. He built a copy of the capitol building in D.C., and custom-built a scale model car and won a competition in Washington, D.C. He made a 3-4 foot paper mache lion in around 6th grade. I think he may have sketched some in elementary school, but his real drawing efforts started in Junior High, I believe. I remember he loved Astro Boy, and drew him and Silver Surfer and other comics."

"We met in ninth grade and went all through high school together," the artist Scott Roberts wrote in a posting to the Drawger.com site. "Even then Jay was an exceptional talent. He had a gift for sculpture, and I remember the paper mache Nixon caricature figures he made, hands held high in characteristic 'V for victory' pose. I thought then that Jay would become an underground cartoonist (it was the early '70s after all)."

His brother remembers one instance of cartooning in the manner of a Kennedy favorite, Gahan Wilson. "Our dad was an encyclopedia editor at the time. In Gahan Wilson-style, Jay made a single-panel poster for Dad of my dad and his boss. His boss was holding a volume on whose spine read "Go to Hell." The caption read something like, 'Bill, I think we have to change the catch-line on this.'" High school also saw the beginnings of what Bruce Kennedy describes as his brother's "intellectual, sociological and cultural interest in the '60s."

Kennedy studied sculpting and conceptual at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City. He then moved onto graduate work at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. While in Wisconsin, he studied sociology and befriended future comic book industry figure Milton Griepp. He was by this time a fervent fan of underground comix, a natural outgrowth of his interest in the '60s and in art. Griepp spoke of Kennedy's passion in a memorial article at ICv2.com.
Jay was already hard at work assembling his "best in the world" collection of underground comics, and I was working at Wisconsin Independent News Distributors, a "distribution co-op" that distributed underground and mainstream comics, among other pop culture paper products of the day. He came to W.I.N.D. to find the source of the underground comics that were distributed at record stores, food coops, and head shops in Madison because he wanted to make sure he had them all. We quickly bonded over our mutual appreciation of the art form, and had many pleasant afternoons trading and discussing the exciting work that we both loved from artists like Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, S. Clay Wilson, Denis Kitchen, and many others.

Following graduate school, Kennedy wrote about comics during that first period of sophisticated -- albeit intermittent -- interest in the medium from both mainstream publications and serious magazines that arose out of the culture. According to King Features, Kennedy's clients included New Age Journal, Heavy Metal, New York, The IGA Journal, and Escape. His positive relationships with journalists and comics historians grew out of those experiences, and he would later become arguably the best known and most widely quoted of all the men and women working in comics syndication.

imageKennedy's interest in and research into underground comix came to its greatest fruition in 1982 when his own Boatner Norton Press released the 273-page, illustrated book The Official Underground and Newave Comix Price Guide. The book contained a number of essays on items of historical interest, subjects that included key artist S. Clay Wilson, women's undergrounds and Leonard Rifas' EduComics. One of those sections' titles, "The Art Form that Wouldn't Die," hinted at Kennedy's conception of the importance of underground comix as an art movement as much as a social or cultural moment. The inclusion of "Newave" comics indicated an acknowledgement that those kinds of comics continued past their '60s/'70s heyday. "Because I did not get up to full speed until after the comix movement had peaked, histories of comix have typically mentioned me in just a sentence or two when they mention me at all," a grateful Leonard Rifas says.

Through his meticulous research and the wide scope of comics covered, he also brought to the project a great deal of authority. "I laughed when I saw the word 'Official' in the title of his index," comics historian Craig Yoe told Comics Reporter. "What could be 'Official' about the wild, wooly, obscure world of underground and small press comics? It could be official because Jay was behind it and Jay was the King of documenting that world." Rifas remembers Kennedy's rationale in making the book a price guide. "Jay explained to me that the only commercially viable way to publish his database would be as a price guide, and he was correct. As I remember it, we came to see eye-to-eye on that one within a minute or two of discussion."

For Rifas and many others, the positives far outweighed the negatives. "Although I have read an argument charging the Price Guide with subjecting those subversive underground comix to 'a subtle form of reification,' I'd put the accent here on 'subtle.' I have never heard of an underground comic being 'slabbed' (and I hope I never do)," Rifas says. "If Jay Kennedy had not assembled this document, most of this information would have been lost altogether, and we'd be left with only auteurist histories that focus on just the big names of that small movement, and falsely malign the rest, the vast majority of comix creators, as misogynistic imitators and uninspired shlockmeisters."

Kennedy's book was also meaningful in terms of describing the field to still-working cartoonists. Matt Feazell wrote to the Comics Journal message board, "When his book came out it was like Woodstock for small pressers. It was the first time we looked around and realized how many of us there were. It was a defining moment in small press." Talk of an updated version of the Guide can be found in comics magazines as early as 1986. Kennedy was believed to have been working slowly towards that goal for years, and was still pushing towards a new edition in mind at the time of his death. "Over the years Jay was continuing to update his Underground Guide, a landmark resource, the Bible on the subject, one I still use regularly," historian Paul Gravett told Comics Reporter. "Like many others, I kept hoping that this would someday see print."

Starting in 1983, Kennedy began a stint as the cartoon editor of Esquire magazine while continuing to write and acting as a freelance consultant for a variety of comics- and humor-related endeavors. At Esquire he not only worked with Lynda Barry as her editor but according to the cartoonist in a 1988 interview worked on at least some of her strips as a co-writer. One of Kennedy's prominent freelance assignments was as guest editor on the European Humor issue of National Lampoon released in 1985. He also served as a cartoon consultant for People and Lears Magazine.

According to a 1989 article in the Comics Journal, it was during this period that Kennedy began to do work that prepared him for his eventual King Features position, analyzing publications and putting cartoonists in touch with them according to need. Paul Gravett published Kennedy and learned about North American comics through him. "Jay wrote 'The Kennedy Report' in Escape 5 in 1984, the first of a one-page column on the latest and best from the North American small press. At the time he was Cartoon Editor on Esquire. One illustrated highlight of his first column was Yummy Fur, which introduced me to Chester Brown and led to his being published in Escape 7." According to Gravett, the interest was mutual. "We used to mail each other our favorite new small press comics, as he was always keen to see what was coming out of the UK. Escape 7 saw his second and last column, before the revamp of the magazine to a larger format. Jay continued to keep in touch, helping me contact Lynda Barry who debuted in Escape 8 in 1986, and emerging talents like Richard Sala and Rich Rice."

In 1988, Kennedy moved from Esquire to another Hearst enterprise by becoming deputy comics editor at the venerable comics institution King Features Syndicate, home of Popeye and the Katzenjammer Kids, and of the major syndicates the one that had taken the smallest role in the 1980s resurgence of interest in the comics page. The understanding when Kennedy came on was that he was to eventually replace then-current editor Bill Yates. King Features executives had apparently become aware of Kennedy when he began to conceive of starting his own syndicate in competition with the majors.

The early days at the syndicate were tough. "Jay was in his early 30s when he started at King, and signaled a changing of the guard in the Comics Art department," said longtime co-worker and friend Jim Keefe. "From my vantage point most of the old guard, rich with experience, were pretty unsure of the newcomer. It seemed like everything he did was questioned. His title of 'Deputy Editor,' with its inherent cartoon imagery, didn't help. I remember after one of King's social functions Jay related the story of how all these editors and cartoonists were getting together for a group shot and they called him over -- a moment of acceptance -- until he discovered they just wanted him to take the picture. Jay had a self-deprecating sense of humor and said this story with a smile on his face. To Jay's credit he took all this in stride and went about learning the ropes and forging his own path."

Kennedy became the comics editor in 1989 upon Yates' retirement and was awarded the editor in chief designation in 1997. While his time in the position was not without incident -- a decision in 1992 to take Bobby London off of the Popeye feature he had been doing since 1986 brought with it a certain amount of public controversy, including an accusation of censorship -- most of the cartoonists during his long run responded to his personal touch. Wes Hargis of Franklin Fibbs/Little Fibbs told Comics Reporter, "One thing that comes to mind is a time Jay and I had a disagreement about something. We set a phone appointment and during the call his willingness to listen to my point of view and work out something totally caught me off guard. Up till then he was still a big syndicate suit." Kennedy became known for his solicitous approach to the sometimes brutal submissions process, including as many personal responses as he could even when the material had no chance of being syndicated.

He was also an exacting editor of strips in syndication, believing in working with talent early during syndication on an almost strip to strip basis and then leaving them to find their own way after the first dozen to eighteen months. Jim Keefe, who later moved out of King's offices and into a cartoonist's role on the Flash Gordon feature, described Kennedy as an editor to Comics Reporter: "That first year I did the strip Jay was very hands on. He'd make me do changes to everything from artwork to word balloon placement, it could be infuriating at times when deadline pressure was mounting. Jay could be rather blunt giving a critique, but it was never mean-spirited. It all had to do with telling a better story. After that first year I was on my own."

Kennedy's stewardship of the resurgent King stable during the tumultuous 1990s and into the 21st Century had several highlights:
* helming the company during a time of massive industry-wide shrinkage in terms of circulation and number of papers, including the loss of several multiple-newspaper cities which brought with them not only additional space for clients but a basis for competition between papers for new features.

* while Kennedy enjoyed several hits, two stand out for the skill in which they were presented and nurtured: Patrick McDonnell's Mutts and the Jerry Scott/Jim Borgman effort Zits. Unlike strips that came out of left field from fresh-faced new talent, the kind an editor ordains and then rides for all they're worth, or a niche strip developed to hit a target market and build into mainstream consideration from there -- Kennedy had those, too -- Zits and Mutts were broad efforts reaching for a mass audience, and the work of already-successful cartoonists. They were the comics equivalents of prestige pictures. Neither one was a sure thing, and both called for a significant early push. According to Keefe, Kennedy gave McDonnell significant latitude designing Mutts' sales presentation packet. The result distinguished that strip and helped it gain traction with buyers. Scott and Borgman's first six weeks of selected material were so strong others have pointed to them as a new industry standard.

* Kennedy was a fine steward of traditional King offerings like Beetle Bailey and Blondie, but his overall track record was compellingly diverse. Among his varied achievements were making an unlikely hit out of a conservative political strip (Mallard Fillmore), significant attention to female creators (Between Friends, Six Chix), Tina's Groove, being the first to offer strips with Christian themes in their mission statement (Wildwood, Heaven's Love Thrift Shop), signing the syndicate's first non-North American creator (Kieran Meehan of A Lawyer, A Doctor and A Cop), working with one of the best artists from the great '80s/'90s wave of alt-comix cartoonists in Terry LaBan (Edge City), presenting maybe the best short-lived strip of this decade (Franklin Fibbs), and putting effort behind format-stretching strips (The New Breed, Six Chix again, Triple Take).

* this is more of a personal observation, but it seems Kennedy never overvalued concept at the expense of execution. While his editorial office frequently came up with concepts or ideas, it never pursued them past a certain point unless Kennedy could get the talent he wanted. He was long interested in a manga-style strip but never found the creators he wanted. At one point he offered the Hernandez Brothers the keys to Apartment 3-G; they declined. Many editors would have pushed such ideas through via a second or third or fourth choice; Kennedy's launch record indicates he mostly just moved on.

* Kennedy helped guide King Features' current on-line comics strategy and its focal point DailyInk.com, making certain the syndicate took advantage of a new revenue and exposure stream while trying not to anger traditional clients in a way that would have an effect on the syndication-figure bottom line. King's subscription-focused mix of new and old strips should prove versatile in terms of future development, and won't needlessly propel the syndicate out of current, positive relationships.

As a key figure restoring class and potency to one of the city's iconic publishing institutions, Kennedy's personal life had a New York storybook flavor as well. He married Sarah Jewler, a former commune resident and fixture of the New York press community eight years his senior, a former Village Voice staffer who went on to become New York's managing editor. She was later diagnosed with a rare blood disease and died on January 5, 2005. Kennedy's friends noted both before and after his passing just how hard that loss hit him, and how difficult the months that followed were for the editor.

News of Kennedy's passing last week was greeted with shock and dismay by those in comics who had come to know Jay Kennedy as both an important industry figure and as a friend, and even those for whom Kennedy remained a mysterious figure. As Triple Take's Scott Nickel wrote in his personal on-line journal, "This is sad and shocking news. I, like everyone else, am completely stunned." Wes Hargis told Comics Reporter, "When I met him in person I thought 'He's so young.' It's the same thing I thought when I heard of his passing."

He was a familiar face to several who never learned his name. Kennedy was a fixture at major comics gatherings from the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art's summer festival to San Diego's Comic-Con International -- as a comics fan, a person with years of friends and friendly acquaintances to see, and more recently as part of a growing comic strip creator presence at such events.

Kennedy's impact and the difficulty many of his friends and colleagues had in trying to sum up a life in the hours and days following the man's passing were perhaps most eloquently put into words in a note from the underground artist Gary Panter.
Jay was a friend and a gentleman. These are random fragments. There is a lot more to say about Jay. Hopefully someone smarter than me will say it on his behalf.

He was a believer in the egalitarian creative vision of the early hippie culture.

In junior high school he was a prize winning custom model car builder and there are models in storage boxes at his house -- beautifully detailed.

He was trained as a sculptor and was very capable as demonstrated by the precise and massive cascade of stone steps he installed at his home in Montauk.

He was very much in love with his departed Sarah and was having a hard time get over her loss, but he was working on it. He didn't give up, but soldiered on.

He liked Reddy Kilowatt.

He had a nice giggle and I will miss him very much.

Jay Kennedy is survived by a mother, two brothers and a sister. Funeral arrangements are pending.

my sincere thanks to King Features, the Kennedy family, and all who helped with the article
 
posted 6:11 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Robert Minor Meets Vladimir Lenin

The great cartoonist's notes from an interview with one of the 20th Century's most important historical figure is part of a cascade of documents just turned over to New York University by the Communist Party of America. I skipped most of the article, which seems at least in part to be about grumpy people finding evidence for their next "I told you so," but I liked the part about Minor.
 
posted 3:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
ICv2.com: February Big For Marvel

imageThe comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has their numbers and suite of numbers articles up for February in the Direct Market of comics shop and related hobby store accounts. The big news is that Marvel benefited greatly from the last issue of the delayed Civil War crossover series falling into the first month of their comic featuring Stephen King's Dark Tower property. This not only gave the House that Jack Built some heat in a winter doldrums month, but it allowed them a bigger margin than usual over rival DC Comics, which I guess gives them nyah-nyah rights for the next four weeks.

News Story
Analysis
Top 300 Comic Books
Top 100 Graphic Novels

Again, all of the usual caveats about the numbers apply, which are close estimates rather than absolutes and may not come as close as some would prefer to the overall numbers ordered on some titles that rely on re-orders rather than initial ones.

I'm not sure anything leaps out at me from the various article. The very old-fashioned The Brave and the Bold #1 showing up at 90K-plus is sort of like a Redford/Newman movie popping up at the move box office charts, I guess. A cursory glance at a list of comic books from five years ago suggests more and not less stability at the lower end of the rankings -- not something on which I would have won a bet. And while looking at those letter combination is enough to blind me after a few seconds, are there really only four non-Big Two books in the top 100?

the Marvel comic pictured above sold 5,605 copies
 
posted 2:42 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Last Survivor of Planet Indy Comics

image
 
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Libre Claims CPM Titles Illegal

Via Brigid Alverson comes an entry at the MangaCast site that the BeBeautiful books from Central Park Media may be in violation of licensing agreements held by Libre Publishing. Included are a pretty straightforward press release and the appropriate context, which in this case seems to me obvious and dire. Go to the Alverson link for directions to chatroom discussion and speculation regarding the article.
 
posted 2:28 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Pakito Bolino

image
 
posted 2:26 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Tom Toles Strikes Back

I completely missed seeing last Thursday's cartoon from Tom Toles, perhaps America's finest editorial cartoonist, as an extension of the earlier confrontation between the artist and the Joint Chiefs of Staff as described here by Editor & Publisher.
 
posted 1:59 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 19, 2007


Well, This Is Certainly Good News

image

One of six complete volumes to be published by IDW.
 
posted 10:04 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
WWLA Report
Dosh in Tel Aviv
Comics Symposium in Kirtland
Report From Rand Holmes Exhibit
Ali Dilem to Geneva for Drawings For Peace

Industry
I Found This PR Weird
Comics Curmudgeon at Wonkette

Interviews/Profiles
Comics Collector Who Died in War

Not Comics
Alan Moore Interview DVD PR
Daryl Cagle on LA Times Font Disaster

Publishing
Paper Adds Ten Strips
DHC to Publish MPD-Psycho
Manga Worth Reading Launches
Al Columbia Project Taking Shape
Fantagraphics' FCBD: Unseen Peanuts
Via Jog: Rian Hughes Collection Includes Dare

Reviews
Dirk Deppey: Aya
Brian Hibbs: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Sean Carroll: Garage Band
Paul O'Brien: New X-Men #36
Hervé St-Louis: L'Enfer du jour
Koppy McFad: Wonder Woman #5
Geoff Hoppe: Detective Comics #828
Leroy Douresseaux: Innocent Bird Vol. 1
Koppy McFad: Tales of the Unexpected #6
Leroy Douresseaux: Mamotte! Lollipop Vol. 1
Michael Vance: The Dreamland Chronicles: Book One
Paul O'Brien: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #1
David Welsh: Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Guardian letter-writer: not running the cartoons = appeasement acting out of fear.

* A boycott that doesn't include Arla Foods, because of their public stand "against the Danish government when the controversy broke out." I totally missed Arla's statements when they happened, but they were a huge story.

* Here's a fuller report on the issues at question during Abdul Muhid's recent trial, although I could swear he's convicted protest-person #4, not #3.
 
posted 2:19 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Street Art as Protest

image

Metabunker continues its compelling coverage of the closure and subsequent destruction of performance space Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen with this contextual post leading to a photo essay of street art on the matter. This is so tangential to comics that many of my past "not comics" entries are e-mailing me to complain, but I don't care because it's cool.
 
posted 2:11 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Andrew Arnold Done at Time.Comix

One of comics' more high-profile review outlets closes shop as Andrew Arnold declares his infrequent on-line column at Time kaput (via Brigid Alverson). Not many comics-related columns end with what what the writer describes as a buyout, so that's an appropriate ending, I think. Arnold seems open to offers to write about comics elsewhere, so break out the checkbooks.
 
posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 18, 2007


First Person: YBCA Crumb Opening

image

By Alvin Buenaventura

A massive Robert Crumb retrospective curated by Todd Hignite just opened at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. It runs from March 16 to July 8, 2007.

The show includes over 200 of the best examples of Crumb's art, spanning his prolific and rich lifetime body of work.

I just posted a Flickr set of 81 photos taken on the opening day. It's a good thing we shot the photos early, as the opening drew more visitors than anyone at the museum could remember ever getting, There was a 30-45 minute wait for the line of people just to get into the show later in the night. Also spotted but not pictured: Paul Mavrides, Gary Baseman, S. Clay Wilson, John Dwyer, Terry Zwigoff, Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton, Eric Sack, Robert Armstrong and of course many others...

I usually don't enjoy art openings that much because it is so hard to look at the work. The YBCA was smart to limit the number of visitors into the large exhibition space to a comfortable number, while a line waited to be let in as people left.

I'm already planning to go back for a revisit to take the audio tour. I have never taken one of these, as typically I'd have no interest in hearing some scholar telling me what to look at. In this case it sounds interesting as the audio tour features commentary on several pieces in the show by the artist and his wife that were excerpted from an interview by Todd Hignite on his recent trip to their home in France. This sounds strange to me, but to take the tour you have to call a number on your mobile phone and as you walk through the gallery you can punch in a number assigned to the piece you are looking at to hear their words. I plan on bringing some headphones so I don't feel like I'm on the phone in the museum.

Thanks to The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for permission to take photographs.

the curator against the wall of the exhibit
 
posted 10:12 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Dearth of Black Superheroes Article in Its Better, Original Form

image
 
posted 10:08 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Hello, August Dagwood Devlin!

imageThe little guy to the left is August Dagwood Devlin, the beautiful new baby from alt-comix super couple Tom Devlin and Peggy Burns. Apparently, Tom is somewhat confused about the name of his child. Conspiracy theories as to the slight appellative shift reported in the previous link are welcomed in my mailbox. We congratulate the parents on this happy occasion, and hope the confusion does not deter the Zuras.
 
posted 10:06 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Wes Hargis’ Site

image
 
posted 10:04 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: SLM Redux

Grandaddy comics blogger of us all Neilalien wrote in to inform me that a site called Stan Lee Media Redux has popped up, with an initial offering of several pages of legal documents to take up a goodly portion of my morning, and maybe yours.
 
posted 10:02 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Flies’ First Page

image

Derik A. Badman provides a close reading on the first page of Jaime Hernandez's "Flies on the Ceiling."
 
posted 10:01 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Atomicon a Go
E&P: Sunshine Week
Cartoonists Hit Provo
Abu Dhabi Holds Cartoon Festival

Industry
A Poll Results Article
Platinum Contest Round Two
The Tribune-Democrat's New Strips
Houston Chronicle Hoping for Anderson Win
Korean Writers Calling for Better Conditions

Interviews/Profiles
The Villager: David Wallis
The Bwog: Art Spiegelman
St. Louis Today: Phil Benson

Not Comics
Batsman Meets Batman
There'll be Star Wars Stamps, Too
Apparently, Hollywood Likes Comics
This Guy's Glad Captain America Is Dead

Publishing
IDW and Star Trek

Reviews
Jeff Lester: Various
Armando Milicevic: The End #1
Armando Milicevic: Tanpenshu Vol. 1
Vichus Smith: The Mighty Avengers #1
Armando Milicevic: Regards From Serbia
Chris Mautner: Genshiken, Welcome to the NHK
Johanna Draper Carlson: Civil War: The Confession
Leroy Douresseaux: Shazam! Monster Society of Evil #2
Jog: Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
 

 
March 17, 2007


CR Sunday Magazine

A Short Interview With John Cuneo

image

*****

Five Link A Go Go

* go, read: Eddie Campbell's analysis of Stan Drake relates the best ever St. Patty's Day story featuring a cartoonist

* not comics: Dan Nadel on design

* not comics: Dan Savage on 300

* go, look: Bloom County archive

* people keep sending me e-mail to say that Joe Sacco has a comic in the April Harper's, although it's not on-line yet

*****

Go, Look: Sebastien Vassant

image

*****

First Thought Of The Day
One benefit to beginning the long crawl up and out from an extended period of near-debilitating depression is that you can read any writing done during that period as if it were brand new and someone else's. On the negative side, I never noticed until now I keep using the same four adverbs over and over again.
 
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

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

1. Positive resolution in the Marshall, Missouri public library flap.

2. Stan Lee Media emerges from the ashes, sans Lee, to sue Marvel based on the two-pronged belief that Stan Lee maintained some level of acknowledged co-creator rights on certain Marvel properties according to contracts negotiated on his behalf at Marvel, and that Lee had assigned these rights to SLM shortly after the company's formation.

3. Jay Kennedy, Editor In Chief at King Features Syndicate, dies while on vacation.

Winners Of The Week
The good citizens of Marshall, Missouri.

Loser Of The Week
The manga pirates, on the receiving end of a civil suit in addition to a criminal one.

Quote Of The Week
"Don't get upset, Mark. I live in New York. I worked for DC Comics. This is nothing." -- the late writer Arnold Drake in a story related by Mark Evanier.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
posted 2:32 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 16, 2007


Jay Kennedy, RIP

King Features Syndicate has confirmed that Jay Kennedy, its longtime respected editor-in-chief and a enthusiastic supporter of comics from undergrounds to alternative comix to the newspaper comics page, has passed away. I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Kennedy for three years as a writer and before and after that period as a journalist. I liked him, and I'll miss him.

I'll write a full obituary on Monday.
 
posted 5:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were in SF, I’d Go To This

image

More.
 
posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Manga Pirates Lawsuit

I can't tell if this is more, less or exactly as important as it seems, but I wanted to note this lawsuit by a group of manga artists against the people behind an illegal downloads site. At the very least, it seems to me to set a bar for what a certain group of artists will and won't be willing to accept in terms of the uploading of copyrighted material, which is interesting in the sense that uploading material has a huge role in that culture and with such artists. It kind of reminds me of the relationship professional sports has to gambling, although if I just made you scowl by making that comparison I'll admit it's a glib one.
 
posted 4:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
German Publisher Files Bankruptcy

imageAccording to this post at Forbidden Planet's blog, the German publisher Infinity, which has over the last decade released a large number of German-language editions of American dark fantasy comics from Top Cow, Image and IDW, has declared bankruptcy. Apparently financial troubles caused by the collapse of German distributor Modern Graphics had an effect on the company, which is in its tenth anniversary year. I don't know enough about the German comics market to suggest why they couldn't just move to a Panini or really, enough to say anything worthwhile at all; for all I know they could but their relationship wasn't as strong with them as it was with MG or any of a hundred things. I'll shut up now.
 
posted 4:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Stan Lee Media Sues Marvel for $5B

Stan Lee Media, the former vehicle for longtime Marvel Editor and writer Stan Lee's turn of the millennium foray into creator-owned on-line content and branding, has emerged from the ashes of its extended bankruptcy and filed suit against Marvel for five billion dollars over rights to the characters co-created by the "no longer with the company in any way including spirit" Lee.

The case seems to me kind of simple to understand, if you make allowances that not being a lawyer I'm using the language as a layperson so take the way I phrase things in that spirit rather than a strictly legal one. Plus, I could be completely wrong.

Anyhow, how I see it: the plaintiffs claim that in originally setting the terms of his involvement with Stan Lee Media, Lee assigned all rights and claims to ownership of everything he had rights to to SLM. These rights and claims came to include co-creator rights to Marvel because of the way Lee's last few contracts with Marvel had been negotiated. Lee used that same conception of his rights and claims to the Marvel characters to first file a lawsuit and then to negotiate a settlement with Marvel. SLM is basically saying that since Lee already assigned those rights to SLM, 1) Lee had no standing to settle an issue regarding those rights, and 2) SLM has retained the assigned rights all along.

As Dirk points out this morning, this point has been argued in the past by SLM co-founder Peter Paul. I talked to Mr. Paul a few times myself. From my perspective, his argument was always one of those things that seemed logical enough from an outsider's perspective for someone to pursue depending on what the particulars said, at least enough for a reasonable lay person to think it might be enough to serve as a matter of legal dispute. Although, then and now, playing "conjectural lawyer" is an exercise with severe limits. The move of SLM out of bankruptcy and that company becoming a place for agency of these claims is the big difference between now and then. Another slight difference I can recall from my talks with Mr. Paul is I think that a perceived future target if the matter were to be pursued was likely to be returning to company coffers those monies earned by Lee in exchange for his assignment, not the value of the characters themselves as perceived by SLM -- I admit I could be remembering that incorrectly.
 
posted 4:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: Toth Model Sheets

image
 
posted 4:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Marshall Democrat-News on Library Vote; Blankets Moved to Adult Fiction

The local newspaper Marshall Democrat-News chimes in with a report from their Rachel Harper on this week's Public Library meeting about the materials selection policy instigated by complaints the removed the graphic novels Blankets and Fun Home from library shelves, as well as the fate of those books in light of that new policy. The result is almost ideal for many of us watching the case: a policy that emphasizes in-library steps to consider and process complaints, and a return to the shelves for each book because that policy would have supported the original purchase. I agree with David Welsh that the statement by a local leader working with youth about the quality of those books was a heartening highlight.

All that's left is to see if the way things played out in Marshall will have any effect on future challenges for graphic novels, or, I guess, if there will be future, similar challenges to graphic novels. Another thing to note: by a 7 to 1 note, Blankets was moved out of the Young Adult Fiction category.
 
posted 4:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Steve Lafler!

image
 
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Should Buffy 8.1 Have Sold More?

Dark Horse reports a second printing on the recently released Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #1, which came out yesterday in comic book stores. That comic had received an inordinate amount of buzz for its attempt to become the official continuation of the television series, a claim it could make because of the involvement and intent of series creator and comics writer Joss Whedon.

Writer Warren Ellis asks why the series' first printing sold out, noting that print runs are set after initial orders are received, and that given the advance buzz -- Dark Horse admits they were well aware of anticipation surrounding the series -- a healthy print run to take care of extra demand should have been possible. As the thread continues, this becomes a discussion of how the book sold generally. The immediate consensus, and I don't see any reason not to think they're onto something, is that the sell-out was due to a combination of several factors, primarily a marriage of Dark Horse's conservative printing habits and a sometimes-unstated and likely subconscious desire companies may have to negotiate a popular comic by having a sell-out and second printing, with such an occurrence's PR value as a bonus. "Dark Horse Comfortably Meets Demand on Buffy #1" isn't a headline you're likely to see in the comics press.

I find all of this fascinating. I try not to play the "sold out" PR game without some real numbers involved, and try to be generally suspicious of companies either manufacturing such an event or negotiating such an event in a way that makes for an advantage. "Company fails to deliver enough copies of comic" is another headline that can be applied to many such events, if you look at it a certain way. In general, I think stories like this one point to the fundamental flaw of the DM as currently constituted: it's unlikely to be able to handle events of high interest without a lot of priming to get it up to speed. This is both a limit of its current make-up, and the existence of rewards for behavior other than getting the biggest number of comics into the biggest number of readers hands.

Addendum: this note at Mike Sterling's indicates something humorous about the way Buffy orders played out -- that people asking for the comic on the day it was supposed to come out helped a retailer in planning re-orders for the actual release one week later. Please let this not become an actual strategy.
 
posted 4:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 46th Birthday, Todd McFarlane!

image
 
posted 4:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Arnold Drake’s Passing

* Mark Evanier shares a bit more about the late writer.

* Matt Fraction continues his series of suspended-panel tributes to the loopy weirdness of Drake's Doom Patrol work: #1, #2, #3.

* Mike Catron has video of a Drake con appearance here.
 
posted 4:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Report on Dr. Seuss Show
Will Eisner Exhibit Coming To OSU

Industry
OregonLive.com on 300 Shortages
Indy Star Webcomics Article Circulates
Matt Hawkins on Downloadable Comics

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: James Sturm
Newsarama: Skottie Young
WindsorJournal.com: Brad Gilchrist, Peter Menice

Not Comics
Music Guy Loves Iron Man
Mayor In the Comics Shop
GNs Sign of Religious Belief

Publishing
New Nick Craine Book: Shakespeare

Reviews
Tom McLean: Ode to Kirihito
Ryan Rutherford: Popeye Vol. 1
Craig Silverman: Killed Cartoons
Don MacPherson: Red String Vol. 1
Geoff Hoppe: BPRD: Garden of Souls #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Densha Otoko Vol. 2
Al Kratina: The Helmet of Fate: Black Alice #1
Geoff Hoppe: Conan and the Daughters of Midora
Graeme McMillan: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #1
 

 
March 15, 2007


Conversational Euro-Comics: A Few Words on Remaining Prize Winners 03

image

By Bart Beaty

The "Revelation" prize at Angouleme this year, essentially the award for best new artist(s), may have also gone to the best overall book: Panier de Singe (L'Association) by Florent Ruppert and Jerome Mulot. With only the Grand Prize winner left to review, it's clear to me that this one is head and shoulders above the other winners, all of whom had much to recommend them. The consensus among people that I spoke to at the festival was that Ruppert and Mulot are the next big thing and that in ten years time they will be regarded as the most important new stars to have emerged in this decade. One person told me that the only thing that might derail this duo is their own awareness of the fact that they are nascent geniuses. These guys, the story goes, know that they're the best, and hopefully that won't derail them.

Let me tell you about how they're working right now. I spent a little bit of time with them on the Saturday afternoon as they were signing books. Dupuy and Berberian have long parodied the idea that they work on a single page simultaneously, so close is their collaboration. They don't do that, but Rupert and Mulot actually do. Here's how they signed a copy of Safari Monseigneur for me:

image

While I spoke at length about the work with one of the artists (it really, really doesn't matter which), the other traced out a circle and oval on the title page of the book. Inside that he slowly drew a Batman logo. While talking to me, both of them started to simultaneously, and distractedly, color in the logo and the space around it with pencil crayons. Then they used brushes and water to create a wash on the page. After some more discussion, and some drying time, the image was exacto-knifed out of the book, and a button making machine was somehow produced. Bingo-bango, they made me a Batman lapel pin, and then signed the empty hole in my book. The whole process took about ten minutes.

At other times I watched an even more intricate process, whereby they produced portraits of the person for whom they were signing and then spent 15 minutes building an elaborate frame for the drawing from the back of the book. This process included four wooden stamps and a stencil. This signing as live performance was amazing to behold -- I spent at least an hour hanging around watching it -- and is probably the surest sign that these guys are fully aware of the fact that they've got it going on.

The other proof is in the book. I previously reviewed Ruppert and Mulot's first book, Safari Monseigneur, and absolutely adored it. This book is no different. Indeed, I couldn't choose between them as far as quality goes. Panier de Singe is a dark, disturbing but nonetheless truly hilarious book. It's by far the funniest thing that I've read this year.

The book features a series of short stories and gag pieces integrated into a longer account about two videographers (Rupert and Mulot) who break into a zoo at night to document the sexual abuse of the animals. Alongside long discussions about bestiality involving giraffes, we find a series of bits in which the two videographers act as portraitists, taking photos in bizarre situations (a duel in an S&M club, a bizarre assassination in which the killers paint a rocket to look like Tintin's, and, my absolute favorite, a possible suicide involving a man with an aluminum boomerang, a Prussian military helmet and an apple). The last of these highlights everything you need to know about Rupert and Mulot's dry and deadpan sense of humor, with a hilarious three-page sequences in which the photographers try to imagine why their subject has dozens of deep scars on his face and a payoff that left me absolutely stunned.

image

image

image

But wait, that's not all. If they were just funny, that would be one thing. If they were just smart, that would be another. But they're funny about being smart, and smart about being funny. Panier de singe is filled with oddball elements. The book comes with a series of phenakistiscopes that you can manufacture (a la Chris Ware's ANL) by disassembling your book (or by downloading the material from their site), as well as a series of eleven pornographic images of animals in the zoo that can be assembled by folding the pages of the book in bizarre combinations (or, again, by downloading them and printing them). The entire book is about the process of representation itself, with outmoded forms of picture-making taking central stage in the same way that outmoded notions of colonial superiority defined Safari Monseigneur. It is rare, and rewarding, to find artists who are so deeply enmeshed in the philosophical and theoretical issues that their work conjures, and who are still able to keep their work compellingly light.

I end about ninety per cent of my columns here bemoaning the fact that the work won't be available in English soon, but in this case I know you won't be waiting long to see an English edition of this work (does the publisher need a pre-constituted blurb? Here you go: Rupert and Mulot are the smartest and funniest cartoonists to have emerged in a generation). It's too strong, they're too good, and it's going to be snapped up. Their newest book, Gogo Club, ships this month from L'Association, and while I haven't seen it, it's already at the top of my "to read" pile.

Next up: The last of the Angouleme prize winners, Shigeru Mizuki's NonNonBa.

*****

Panier de Singe, Florent Ruppert and Jerome Mulot, L'Association, 284414215X (ISBN), August 2006, 14 euros

*****

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.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 2:59 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Another Editorial Cartoonist Job Gone

The good folks at Editor & Publisher see a bright side in another paper picking up work from Playboy cartoonist Al Stine, but the news that Roger Harvell is out at the Greenville News in South Carolina is the appropriate lead story, with greater significance. According to E&P's figures, 200 staffed editorial cartoonist positions have shrunk to about 80 since the early 1980s, and I don't know anyone that thinks more than half of the remaining slots are 100 percent safe. Further, the Greenville paper had a circulation of over 100,000 and my understanding is that Harvell did fine work with local issues. This speaks to some conventional wisdom that papers dropped cartoonists from the smallest papers only and almost always those whose focus on national issues made them more easily replaceable by syndicated artists.
 
posted 2:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Latest Naruto Book Ascends Charts

image

The 13th volume of Naruto hitting the big USA Today generalist bookstore sales chart at #25 should raise some eyebrows, although in a way you could see it coming. Naruto seemed for a while there to have two different tracks of readers -- fans of the comic in Shonen Jump and then a bigger fanbase coming at it from the anime. (There are doubtless other avenues driving readers to the series.) Because Naruto is of a high enough quality to retain readers, it makes some sense that interest up and down the line would at some point start to manifest itself in a greater combined sales impact on new releases: one of the great positives that comes with successful serial literature.
 
posted 2:38 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Rhie Won-bok Comics Withdrawn

A series of popular Korean-language comics about other countries that have been accused of anti-Semitic slurs and stereotyping has now been withdrawn by publisher Gimm-Young. This action followed a meeting in Seoul between the publisher and a coalition that included the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper and the National Korean-American Coalition's Richard Choi Bertsch. The comics make assumptions about the nature of Jewish influence in the United States.

I hadn't been aware that the way Jewish people were caricatured was at issue. I was personally glad to see Cooper kneecap Rhie Won-bok's vaguely non-committal and unconvincing apology.
 
posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Scribbly Comic

image

You'll have to scroll down a bit past a funny review of a bad superhero comic -- or you might want to read it, too -- but you rarely see Sheldon Mayer stories so this is a treat.
 
posted 2:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Blankets, Fun Home Back on Shelves

It looked that way early this morning and has since been confirmed and explained a bit in a short e-mail response from Library Director Amy Crump to David Welsh.

This is a positive outcome and wasn't exactly guaranteed despite the implementation of a new material selection policy at the Marshall, Missouri library that removed these well-reviewed graphic novels from their shelves after a patron's complaint as to some of the more adult aspects of each book. Both Blankets and Fun Home would meet the criterion that acknowledges the desirability of having award-winning work on the shelves, but one had to wonder if the books might not be left off as the library pressed forward on the more general issue.
 
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Jeffrey Brown’s Cat Book

image
 
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Candor in Candorville

Editor & Publisher picks up on that rarest of issues in the comic strip world: a cartoonist talking honestly and in forthright fashion about a client list setback. In Darrin Bell of Candorville's case, it's being dropped by two huge (and co-owned) newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Big papers are a big deal for syndicated cartoonists not just because of the symbolism, but because papers pay for strips according to their size. In addition, without limiting the strip's possibilities I would think Candorville might be conceived as playing towards a big-city audience as opposed to something likely to pick up a Goshen, Indiana, and therefore losing both Los Angeles and Chicago might be extra-worrisome. For his part, Bell is not dissuaded, and with a nice 50+ client list in the strip's early days, and the attention of opinion-makers interested in his success, there's no reason he should be.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Mobile Pornography

image

Due 2008
 
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Covering Cerebus Site

Go here to access a very long, multiple-chaptered piece of criticism about Dave Sim's Cerebus, courtesy of Stephen Frug.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 70th Birthday, Dan Adkins!

image
 
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
PSA: Mike Roden Benefit Donations

I received the following from Matt Dembicki:
Small-press comics pioneer Mike Roden is battling colon cancer. To help him defray some of the medical costs, small pressers from around the country are donating some of their books and original art to be raffled and auctioned off at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) April 22-22 in Columbus, Ohio (Mike's home state).

Matt Dembicki is organizing the fund raiser. If you'd like to submit a book for the raffles or original art for the silent auction, please e-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Thank you!
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sunshine Week Cartoons

image

Once a year, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists calls for special attention to the issue of open government and freedom of information, and many cartoonists such as Kirk Anderson, above, offer up their takes on the subject for wide dissemination, hopefully to spur discussion. This year is no exception. The issue is well worth your time, although if you click over just to enjoy the cartoons, no one will know and no one will blame you.
 
posted 2:01 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go Learn From Tim Jackson
Review of Blanchard/DTs Show at FBI Store

History
Dirty Drawings from Ketcham
DC Remembers Arnold Drake
Supergirl Week at Project Rooftop
Sherlock Holmes as Superhero Antecedent

Industry
Gene Simmons Line at IDW

Interviews/Profiles
Wizard: John Arcudi
Pulitzer Finalists All Do Animations
Indie Spinner Rack: Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie

Not Comics
Reading The Comics Journal In Public

Publishing
DC/Wildstorm Cancels Horror Titles

Reviews
Jog: Various
Dirk Deppey: Garage Band
Scott Kerbs: Mighty Avengers #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Naruto Vol. 2
Don MacPherson: The Helmet of Fate
Leroy Douresseaux: Densha Otoko Vol. 1
Richard Von Busack: The New Adventures of Jesus
 

 
March 14, 2007


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

image

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.

JAN070051 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #1 $2.99
It seems I'm not very good at reading shipping lists, as this did not come out last week. So to repeat myself:

The irony of extending the Buffy series into comic book form is that the show itself was a season or two too long. In fact, once the leads graduated high school, Joss Whedon's reputation-maker lost both its metaphorical juice (the horrors of high school are real horrors) and shifted to a much less poignant framework for its Zot!-like wish fulfillment subtext (special friend with special powers making possible a secret, special life). That didn't have to be a bad thing except that the writers replaced working through those kind of humane ideas with a type of soap opera that assumes rather than builds devotion to its characters. However, I'll totally admit the nerd in me is fascinated by the idea of a work trying to extend its official canon from one medium to another, as with this series' "Season Eight." If I were in comic shop I'd buy this for someone else and read it before dropping it in the mail.

OCT061854 COMPLETE INVINCIBLE LIBRARY VOL 1 HC $125.00
I just sort of want to see this, to make sure it exists. It's amazing to me that the Invincible series, charming as it can be, will support books this high-end and expensive.

JAN072363 BLADE #7 $2.99
Is this still batshit insane? The issue I read wasn't good enough to make me want to pursue it at moment of publication, but I definitely have it earmarked as something to buy at less than cover price to get over a shipping minimum a few years from now.

JAN073653 A LATE FREEZE $6.50
What little I've seen of Danica Novgorodoff's work seems derivative -- not specifically so, but just way more emblematic of a certain type of comic than the idiosyncratic pleasure I get from the pages. A lot of people like this, though, and I'd love to stare at one for a few minutes.

DEC063443 CEST BON ANTHOLOGY VOL 2 GN (MR) $17.95
I know next to nothing about it, but I will pick up any issue of any anthology that features at least two good cartoonist, and Dash Shaw and Vincent Stall make up one of several combinations in here that meet that standard.

JUN063096 TIMES OF BOTCHAN VOL 3 GN (OF 10) $19.99
This is why I love comics shops. Great works are published at their own speed, tiny publishers have scatter-shot marketing plans and there's still a thirty-three percent chance if I walked into a top 20 shop my retailer would say to me, "Have you seen the new Times of Botchan yet?" You can't get that kind of service from the grumpy twenty-somethings at the Barnes and Noble help kiosk, let me tell you. I once listed Times of Botchan as one of the great comics of all time, and although I was projecting from a sample rather than having read the whole thing I look forward to testing my notion. At the very least, with Jiro Taniguchi art, you'll be getting a very pretty 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 4:19 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Checking Back In On 300; Uh-Oh…

image

* Two comics retailers and the anonymous source that appear in this posting on the demand for the Frank Miller/Lynn Varley book 300 the week after a successful movie version came out and the view of prominent retailers on the matter have followed up with word that the copies available from their book distributors have been burned through between then and now. 48 hours.

* Iranian movie critics are upset about lack of character development and liberal use of slow-motion in movie version of the comic. Okay, not exactly.
 
posted 4:09 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Rene Garcia Canizares, 19XX-2007

The Cuban cartoonist Rene Garcia Canizares, who under the name Rene provided satirical caricatures for the magazine Palante for years, died on March 12. This article seems to indicate that he had been suffering from a series of ailments that provided him with state-supported retirement, although he kept drawing.
 
posted 3:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Tom Batiuk!

image
 
posted 3:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Because Screwing People Over Should Bring With It an Even Playing Field

Dirk Deppey goes deep into the notion that Wizard benefited from advance knowledge of Captain America dying in issue #25 of his comic by being first on the mark to sell special back issues at some exorbitant price to a particularly under-informed class of consumer. Although I have to say, I don't think you need to know anything about how magazines are published to presume that Wizard's well-known, regular lead time concerning key plot points could give them enough of a time advantage to do what's being accused of them, because not all that much time is needed.

However, all jokes made in the headline aside, 1) I don't know if it's true, 2) it's pretty clear interest in the book was driven by a reaction which no one should have been expected to reasonably predict, 3) the information leaked anyway and was therefore out there, and 4) determining the sliminess of one such action against the backdrop of the almost fundamentally corrupt back issues and valuables system and then assigning it a value in an industry where every advantage of this kind is routinely pressed -- that is a game for madmen.

But I'm happy to say that if it happened, it's wrong.
 
posted 3:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Brian Walker!

image
 
posted 3:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Marshall Library Plan: 2nd Reading

David Welsh notes that the public library in Marshall, Missouri has scheduled a second reading of their proposed material selections policy. The policy was brought about after a patron complained that the library carried unsuitable material in the graphic novel memoirs Fun Home (Alison Bechdel) and Blankets (Craig Thompson).
 
posted 2:53 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Steve Bissette!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Marvel Executive Position Holder Shuffle

Marvel's studio operation has solidified its executive staffing and changed people up top. David Maisel is now Chairman, Marvel Studios; Kevin Feige is now President of Production; lost of people join the board. Here's the press release. According to the PR, Maisel was the one who put together the self-produced film strategy and funding for same; Feige has been involved in some capacity with Marvel's major film releases. In glorious "line at the end of a later graph" tradition, Marvel announced that the previous holder of the President and COO positions at Marvel Studios, Michael Helfant, has left the company.

Marvel's ability to self-produce films starting with Iron Man in 2008 should determine the overall success of the company to an extent that even the insular publishing division will likely feel the buffeting winds of any good or bad publicity that results.
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 13, 2007


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, At Least In Terms of Click-Throughs

image

Update: In a perfect world, I wouldn't have to jump back on and write a little note down here that this is the work of Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, because you would click through and find this out for yourself, but it looks like increased traffic to that article has knocked it into an Internet Coma of the kind where you can only get to the original article 1 out of 5 times.
 
posted 10:32 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, JP Stassen!

image
 
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Simon Fraser!

image
 
posted 10:07 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Huh
Lengthy Art Spiegelman Presentation Report

History
Via Jog: Richard Corben Interview
Via Jog: Richard Corben Bibliography and Resource

Industry
Desperado Leaves Image
Irresistible Second Headline
AP: ACT-I-VATE = Awesome
CCS Scores Greeting Card Gig
Groth, TCJ Win Greek Comics Awards

Interviews/Profiles
Haaretz.com: Dalal Ezzi
Newsarama: Matt Silady
The Hindu: Sarnath Banerjee

Not Comics
Enemas Promised Cartoonist
Ambitious Dagwood Sandwich Plans

Publishing
PWCW: Aya Preview
Feininger Reprint Book Due
There Are Lots of Comics I Know Nothing About

Reviews
Gina Ruiz: Mom's Cancer
Eric Burns: Crimson Dark
Bill Sherman: Nat Turner Vol. 2
Chris Mautner: New L&R Collections
Brian Heater: The Professor's Daughter
David Welsh Suggests Ten Manga Series
Bill Sherman: The Brave and the Bold #1
 

 
Big Top To End March 25

image

Rob Harrell is probably hearing a lot of of folding-up tent jokes these days, or a lot of people are holding their tongues given the cause: his Big Top strip feature from Universal will publish its last episode March 25 and the strip is in some sort of re-run/flashback mode until that time. In this article at Editor & Publisher, Harrell cites professional and financial reasons. Although the client list remained modest since its debut in 2002, Big Top was considered by strip fans of my acquaintance to be a quiet, quality strip and perhaps simply one of those features that was ill-suited for survival in today's feast or famine market for newer comics.
 
posted 4:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Remembering Arnold Drake

The American comic book writer Arnold Drake, an award-winning script writer and a co-creator of some of the comics mainstream's quirkiest concepts, passed away after a short battle with various ailments discovered after a neighbor brought him into the hospital as the month turned. He was 83 years old.

imageAfter (I believe) serving in the military and studying journalism in college, Drake was drawn into the circle of writers used by DC Comics, and began freelance work on various titles, specializing in shorts that appeared in the company's various anthologies. His greatest achievement was in creating or co-creating extremely offbeat titles for the very strait-laced publisher: The Doom Patrol (a team of outsider superheroes whose secret origins were as much about disfigurement than augmentation), Stanley and His Monster (a boy and his probably-not-imaginary friend) and Deadman (a dead superhero whose power of possession was a twist on superpower wish fulfillment even older kids could appreciate). He even provided one such concept a few years later to competitor Marvel Comics, the Guardians of the Galaxy (science fiction genocide survivors).

Drake was also a generally quirky and interesting comics writer, both at DC, Marvel and later Gold Key, and on his bigger stages did as much as anyone to keep a generation of comics readers' interest in what had previously been a throwaway children's medium. He won two Alley Awards in 1967 for the Deadman series. Drake also scripted movies, plays, and educational material in his long career.

The writer recently came back on the radar for many comics fans and modern industry members through his convention appearances and his support of and activism for forgotten and unappreciated writers. Drake himself was the first recipient of the Bill Finger award designed to bring attention to just that group of people. No stranger to industry activism, Drake had been among those creators no longer employed by DC in 1968 after demands for health insurance fell on deaf ears. Talking to Drake at these shows, the last of which he attended was the 2007 New York Comic-Con in late February, one got the idea that Drake was intrigued if not outright touched on some level by the crowds and excitement and intense interest on display at such events. A longform comic co-written by Drake while a student, It Rhymes With Lust, one of the first books that could be described as a graphic novel and would still be recognized as such, is scheduled to be re-published by Dark Horse this year.

Mark Evanier wrote a much more lovely remembrance from which this post drew a few facts, and writer Matt Fraction remembers Drake through his work.
 
posted 4:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Finnish Comics Article

Although it took me a month longer than everyone else to read it, I very much enjoyed this article on the Finnish comics scene. Despite its subject matter there's something very old-school about it and the voice in which it's told. I think the piece works equally well if you know nothing about these comics or if you're already something of a fan of cartoonists like Jenni Rope and Matti Hagelberg and just want a slightly expanded context in which to place them.
 
posted 4:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: du9 in English

image

Metabunker brings our attention to the fact that the great French-language resource du9 has officially launched an English-language version. This will mean a lot of future articles, but for now that includes a few pieces like this review of Angouleme winner NonNonBa and some previously-translated pieces, like a 1998 interview with Lorenzo Mattotti (Mattotti poster art above).
 
posted 4:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Ralf Koenig on Post-DCC Market

Forbidden Planet International notes an article from Munich Abendzeitung on the great cartoonist Ralf Koenig and his perception of changes in the overall comics market following 2005-2006's Danish Cartoons Controversy.
 
posted 4:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jeremy Eaton’s Beard Scares Me

image
 
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics Shortage News: Updated

* Please take a second if you missed it to check in on yesterday's post about the demand for Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's 300 in comic shops and bookstores, and the possibility that Dark Horse may not be able to meet the totality of that demand. The general thrust is that many retailers stocked up despite some periodic inability to get these books, and that shortages are probably going to be more on a store to store basis, which makes them still a pain in the butt. Most agreed that Dark Horse did better with this movie than with Sin City and Hellboy, but that there was still work to do. Although really, the reason I printed reactions in full is because they're very divergent and particular, so you should ignore me and read them.

* Todd Allen writes that the sell-outs and low-level comic shop hysteria that surrounded last week's Captain America #25 are an indictment of the Direct Market's overall effectiveness. I don't agree, or at least I don't see it as a serious indictment. That was such a singular incident considering the hundreds of comics that come out every week it's hard to make a system-wide criticism out of it. It does point out a weakness, and there are solutions that can be pursued in order to better negotiate those rare instances when that weakness is poked at, for sure. But beyond that you start to cut away good flesh to get at bad. Similarly, while it's smart to suggest that a digitally distributed version of the issue would have had a market -- I would have bought one -- I don't see how it relates to that group of people crowding the store looking for a "hot" comic that will go up in value or those who want to buy the book for its event status regardless of potential financial gain.
 
posted 4:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 86th Birthday, Al Jaffee!

image
 
posted 4:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Mark Evanier on CCI: Las Vegas

The writer and Comic-Con International fixture Mark Evanier takes a sledgehammer to a recent suggestion that the nation's largest comics-related convention should end up in Las Vegas. A few of the arguments are more assertion than analysis and some are of the "you can have one or the other" variety: if you get to cite the crappy summer weather, you can't apply prime-time dead of winter complications elsewhere. Still, I wouldn't want to bet the tab on winning the opposite point over dinner. I'd probably end up paying the tip and parking, too.

I think the key comes down to whether or not the San Diego version continues to grow at a furious rate, because if the quirky, then tricky, and presently difficult housing situation becomes impossible -- a few hotels sold out for this year in August 2006 -- a lot of other arguments shrivel in importance.
 
posted 4:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Eric Shanower
Cartoonist-Heavy Show Gears Up at Adam Baumgold

Industry
More on Muff Mills' Passing
Serge Honorez in at Dupuis
Print Manga Market Declines
Don MacPherson on Captain America Marketing

Interviews/Profiles
Wizard: Mike Mignola
Cagle: Yaakov Kirschen
Independent Mail: Al Stine
iFMagazine.com: Scott Allie
Advance Titan: Brian Defferding
Ahmedabad On-Line: Nirmish Thaker
Noblesville Daily Times: Steve Horton
Associated Content: Nicholas Gurewitch
More on the Bob/Helen Newton Collection

Not Comics
Tim O'Neil: 300
The Baffler Returns
Officers Recover Funnybook
Happy Birthday, Mike Sterling!
Ann Coulter's New Ally: Ted Rall

Publishing
Drool
Changes at Post
Tokyopop Target Kids
Profile of New Banned Cartoons Book
Candorville Hopes For LA Times Return

Reviews
Percival Constantine: E.I. #1
Eric Burns: Least I Could Do!
Eddie Campbell: A Humument
Al Kratina: Captain America #25
Paul O'Brien: Mighty Avengers #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Naruto Vol. 1
Paul O'Brien: Captain America #25
Paul O'Brien: Uncanny X-Men #484
Shaenon Garrity: Anywhere But Here
Percival Constantine: Doc Paradox #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Huntress: Darknight Daughter
 

 
March 12, 2007


Arnold Drake, 1924-2007

image

From Ken Gale: "I just heard from Pam Drake, Arnold's daughter, that Arnold Drake passed away 12:05 pm today, Monday, March 12, 2007. The doctors say pneumonia and septic shock were the causes."
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
ICv2.com: Copies of 300 “Evaporate”

image

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a succinct piece up indicating that despite assurances just last week that there were enough copies of 300 to meet demand considering the 300 movie and Dark Horse's previous problems getting movie-related books to outlets in a timely fashion, what we know today is that all copies out there have been sold and newer copies are weeks and weeks away from hitting the ports. Whether or not this leads to another lost opportunity for Dark Horse to fully capitalize on movie-driven interest in one of their titles has yet to be seen -- I guess it could be argued that all comics shops and bookstores anticipated both the demand and likely supply and ordered perfectly as a result.

Are there any retailers out there that can sum up supply and demand issues on 300 in their stores? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I'll put anything I get back into this entry, starting below.

REACTIONS

Chris Butcher, The Beguiling: "The Beguiling has definitely experienced a surge in demand, and it's one we were able to meet thanks to massive, massive stocking on the title. If we had to rely on Dark Horse and Diamond's ability to get us the product in a timely fashion, I know that we would've experienced frequent periods of unavailability. I'm not really happy about not having any faith in this supplier, but we learned from the last few movies that this is, unfortunately, the way we have to do business with Dark Horse to make our customers happy."

Mike Sterling, Ralph's Comics Corner: "I've had some demand, but not a huge amount. This time around, however, Dark Horse has mostly been able to keep 300 in stock and available for reorder, with the exception of a couple weeks ago when they canceled one of our pending orders (which would have arrived the week of the movie's opening, ensuring we had no copies for people who just saw the movie and had to have the comic). However, I do have copies coming in this week, so I'm hoping the demand will still be there, though traditionally demand for movie-inspiring comics tends to drop off as soon as the movie itself is released."

Rory Root, Comic Relief: "Demand for 300 stays strong. As seems usual in these cases there are very strong sales leading into the film's release date. Also as we've seen before, a comic related film that has a relatively unknown origin -- see Sin City, Ghost World, American Splendor, V, to name just a few, tends to have strong sales after release if folks like what they see on the silver screen.

"Anticipating both strong demands for 300 and some interruption in availability Comic Relief laid in stock to last awhile. We have over 100 copies in stock of the GN and a few dozen of the Art book as well.

"It seems that over 100,000 copies of the book have gone through the system by now. I heard reliable reports of multiple 40,000 copy reorders moving through DCD and DBD, and one presumes PGW as well.

"Which sort of puts a different spin on Michael's comments [in the ICv2.com article]:
Last, the additional 15,000 copy order 'en route' from Asia is around two months away, meaning that the copies currently in stock in retail stores, soon to be at Diamond, and at book wholesalers will be all of the supply available to the market for some time. Martens did say that additional copies had been ordered beyond those 15,000 copies in an attempt to catch up with demand.

"This book has exceeded just about everybody's expectations. Though I do wish Dark Horse had a fall back printer on the continent to expedite turn around in these high demand times."

Eric Thornton, Chicago Comics: "The build-up on 300 has been going on since the first preview, actually. We've sold boatloads of the book in the past four months, and Diamond was only out of it for a two-week stint, which is much better than the situation with Hellboy or Sin City. So, fingers crossed, knock on wood, things seem to be running smooth on Dark Horse's end meeting the retailers need."

Dan Shahin, Hijinx Comics: "We have a deep reserve of 300 for sale at Hijinx, mostly because I was burned on Hellboy and Sin City by their lack of availability at the crucial date and swore it wouldn't happen again. It's been the featured book in store and online for about a month and sales have been great.

"The peak period for sales on comic adaptations seems to be about a month before release of the feature through about a month after release of the DVD. Then, if it's good it can stay a steady seller for years and lead readers to other good comics. A book like Road to Perdition would probably not still be in print, let alone have spawned sequels, without the hype of Hollywood attached."

Brian Hibbs, Comix Experience: "Just like Sin City and Hellboy before it (and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and History of Violence and Road to Perdition and Ghost World, and and and...), there's been an enormous amount of pre-film-release interest in 300. Historically speaking, that kind of increased demand tends to sputter out once the film version is actually released.

"Also like Sin City and Hellboy before them (but not the others), because it is from Dark Horse, there have been... issues with the regular in-stock availability of 300 during this period. Dark Horse appears to be stridently risk-adverse when it comes to maintaining inventory, and I believe they've left an awful lot of sales on the table because of it. Backorders are fairly reliably shipping, but many retailers are adverse to backorders as a principle. Either way, there have been weeks that we've not been able to rack 300."

Alex Cox, Rocketship: "Demand for 300 has been steady and solid, but manageable to date. We've moved a pretty even amount since the ads first started popping up, and they were available pretty regularly up until today. As of last night we had a couple of copies left. It's done really well, although the price tag is a bit off-putting for the average customer. With that in mind, and adding all the people that will walk in, flip through it for ten minutes, and leave when they've had their fill, it's a book that doesn't Fly Off The Shelves like say, V For Vendetta. Still a solid seller, though.

"Given Dark Horse's availability history with in-demand books, any time we can order the book, and actually have those orders filled, it's a nice surprise. If it's actually sold out and we won't see another shipment for two months, I will be frustrated, but like I said... that's par for the course. It will mean immediate lost sales for shops, lost sales for DH... but what can you do? Publishing is a hard business.

"To answer your question more succinctly, yeah, it worries me. But this is one of those things you can only shrug your shoulders at. Getting angry won't make the boat go faster."

Jim Hanley, Jim Hanley's Universe "As always with Dark Horse, there are two main concerns.

"First is that their books cost retailers more than those from other Diamond exclusive publishers, owing to Dark Horse's setting a short discount on them.

"Second is the fact that Dark Horse consistently underestimates demand for their books that get turned into movies. The retailer struggle to have stock available began with Hellboy, continued with Sin City, and is still an issue with 300. In the past, DH reps have said that they are still gun-shy due to massive overestimation on Star Wars Episode One tie-ins. The thing is that Star Wars came out eight years ago. By this time, one would hope, they would have gotten over that financial hit and learned their lesson about how a movie affects sales of their core properties.

"Thankfully, the next movie that Zack Snyder is scheduled to make from a comic book is Watchmen. DC will not screw the pooch on that, should it get made, the way Dark Horse seems to have done yet again."

Name Withheld By Request: "I work at a Borders store and upon hearing the news of 300 being unavailable, I checked. Both distributors Ingram and Baker & Taylor had copies available, with Ingram having about 1200 and B&T near 300 (with 200 available for "Easy Shipping", that is, a direct shipment from B&T's warehouse to a customer's address.)

"Whether or not these figures are accurate, I'm not sure. I'll check again tomorrow and Wednesday to see if they hold true."
 
posted 4:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Joe Shuster Award Nominees 2007

The Joe Shuster Awards, focused on the accomplishments of Canadian comic book creators, have announced their 2007 nominees. On-line voting begins today and finishes May 11.

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer

* Ian Boothby for DCU Infinite Holiday Special (DC Comics), Futurama Comics 23-26, 28, Simpsons Comics 118, 119, 121, 123, Simpsons Super Spectacular 3 (Bongo Comics)
* Darwyn Cooke for Superman Confidential 1-2 (DC Comics)
* John Rogers for Blue Beetle 1-10 (DC Comics), Contributing writer for Cthulhu Tales 1, Ninja Tales 1, Pirate Tales 1 & Zombie Tales: The Dead 1 (Boom! Studios)
* Ty Templeton for Civil War: Choosing Sides (Marvel Comics), Revolution on the Planet of the Apes 2-6 (Mister Comics)
* J. Torres for Cartoon Network Block Party 22, Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi 3, Teen Titans Go! 27-38, The Batman Strikes 23 (DC Comics/Johnny DC), Ninja Scroll 1-3 (DC Comics/Wildstorm), Degrassi: The Next Generation - Extra Credit Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (Pocket Books), Love As A Foreign Language 5 (Oni Press)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artist

* Adrian Alphona for Runaways 12-18, 22 (Marvel Comics)
* Darwyn Cooke & J. Bone for Batman/The Spirit (DC Comics)
* Pia Guerra for Y the Last Man 43-46, 49-52 (DC/Vertigo)
* Niko Henrichon for Pride of Baghdad (DC/Vertigo)
* Stuart Immonen for Nextwave: Agents of HATE 1-11, Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual 2 (Marvel Comics)
* Cary Nord for Conan 24-25, 29-31, 33-34 (Dark Horse)
* Steve Skroce for Doc Frankenstein 3-5 (Burleyman)
* Doug Wheatley for Star Wars: Dark Times 1 (Dark Horse)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)

* Scott Chantler for Northwest Passage 3 (Oni Press)
* Darwyn Cooke for The Spirit 1 (DC Comics)
* Michel Gagne for "Underworld" -- Flight Vol. 3 (Ballantine Books)
* Johane Matte for "Hunter" -- Flight Vol. 3 (Ballantine Books)
* Bryan Lee O'Malley for Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3 (Oni Press)
* Ty Templeton for Simpsons Comics 117 (Bongo)
* Jean-Louis Tripp & Regis Loisel for Magasin General Vol. 1: Marie & Vol. 2: Serge (Casterman)
* Rob Walton for Ragmop (Planet Lucy)

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Publisher

* Drawn & Quarterly
* Mecanique Generale/les 400 Coups
* Mister Comics
* Planet Lucy
* Udon

Outstanding Canadian Web Comic Creator/Creative Team

* Paul Bordeleau for Troglodytes
* Rob Coughler & Ramon Perez for Butternut Squash
* Matt Forsythe for Ojingogo
* Faith Erin Hicks for Ice
* Stuart & Katherine Immonen for Never As Bad As You Think
* Dan Kim for April May & June, Kanami, and Penny Tribute
* Steven Charles Manale for Superslackers
* Kean Soo for Jellaby Shorts

Favourite Canadian Comic Book Creator -- English Language
This will be a write-in category on the ballot.

Favourite Canadian Comic Book Creator -- French Language
This will be a write-in category on the ballot.

Outstanding International Comic Book Creator
This will be a write-in category on the ballot.

Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer
Non-voting category

Hall of Fame
Juried

Winners will be announced at a ceremony June 9.
 
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Listen: Monte Wolverton Speaks

image

Click through the above image for a series of short statements from Monte Wolverton about various cartoons of his brought forward for inspection by Daryl Cagle. I like the format and concept of this so much that I'm recommending it without having the time to listen to it until later this evening.
 
posted 4:23 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Newspaper Cartoon Awards Round-Up

* Chip Bok from the Akron Beacon Journal was named Editorial Cartoonist of the Year in the annual opinion awards given out by The Week, Editor & Publisher reports. Josh Fruhlinger of Comics Curmudgeon was one of two Blogger winners.

* Erin Russell is this year's Charles M. Schulz award winner for top college cartoonist. Alan Gardner goes the extra mile to list that award's winners from throughout its history, so scroll down.

* As previously mentioned here at CR, Mike Luckovich won his second straight National Headliners Award; what I didn't know then is that Matt Davies placed second and Adam Zyglis third.

* Steve Benson won the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award for editorial cartooning and its $10,000 prize. The other finalists were Jim Morin and Mike Luckovich.
 
posted 4:07 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Walter Trier Illustrations

image
 
posted 4:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Forbidden Planet on FCBD 2007

Kenny Penman at Forbidden Planet writes the best retailer-perspective article yet on some of the problems that have grown increasingly talked about with the Free Comic Book Day promotion. They remain involved -- on a partial basis, anyway. I wonder if the free ice cream people have any of these same concerns.
 
posted 3:57 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Con Analysis Update

image

* I completely lost track of this letter of support from Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein for the early March general show WonderCon from CR advertisers Comic-Con International, and, starting next year, the unofficial kick-off to comics' long convention season. Since it addresses some assumptions I made about attendance, and since I rarely get these sort of institution saying nice things about another institution missives, I thought it worth printing despite what in comics terms must seems like a hundred-year delay. Captain America was alive when this message was written!

I checked with CCI's David Glanzer, and he confirmed that while attendance concerns didn't lead to an exact repeat of last year's overcrowding concerns, 1) the space was bigger so eyeballing the crowds in comparison would have indeed been difficult, 2) preregistration was up, 3) a first count of on-site registration indicate each day's numbers was up and 4) on-line registration was shut down for three hours on Saturday to ensure the accommodation of preregistered attendees. So: healthy.

* I also missed this: Dean Haspiel reports on STAPLE!

* Las Vegas resident Katherine Keller wrote a smart essay for Sequential Tart about the potential of moving Comic-Con International to Las Vegas from its traditional home in San Diego. This has become a more heated issue this year as housing concerns have tightened up.

My opinion has been that this year is sort of a watershed in the hotel room department because not only were con-sponsored hotel rooms snapped up immediately, it felt to me that for the first time other reasonable options were completely off the table even for those who planned months ahead and were willing to spend a significant amount of money. Others seem to feel this has been the case for a while now. Regardless of where you're coming from, Keller marches through the numbers with aplomb and makes a fine case. As I've said in the past, if Hollywood's willingness to use CCI for promotion is still a growth area rather than a cyclical one based on types of moves the studios are pursuing, this may be the best solution.

I have to say, though, as a typical American male who has made the standard 2.3 trips/year to Las Vegas for a decade now, it'll take more than numbers regarding capacity to convince me that McCarran is a better experience than San Diego International. I've never done anything but walked right off the plane in San Diego to a cab, waiting a few minutes once in twelve tries, while every trip to McCarran and its famous cab line feels like a life-changing ordeal.

photo of WonderCon '07 provided by WonderCon
 
posted 3:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Albert “Muff” Mills, 1922-2007

imageAlbert Mills, a cartoonist for the Cambridge Times, died last Wednesday. He was 84.

Mills was known for both newspaper cartooning and for art painted onto airplanes during the Second World War. An example of Mills' "nose art" using the Li'l Abner character can be seen at right and read about here. Mills' work on airplanes was displayed in museums throughout England. A former member of the bomber command, during the war, his work would eventually appear both in Cambridge and as far away as Hong Kong. It's unclear as to their frequency: very little about Mills can be found through on-line searches.

Mills was buried in Cambridge on Friday.
 
posted 3:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 79th Birthday, Sy Barry!

image
 
posted 3:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Word Travels Slower Under Sea?

A cartoonist is apparently suing the Spongebob Squarepants Empire. I know that legal matters can grind on, but there's usually a bit more speed when it comes to instigating them.
 
posted 3:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Caveman Exhibit Opens in Turkey

History
1978 Article About Robert Crumb
David Wallis Editorial on Killed Cartoons
Sample Editorial on Death of Captain America

Industry
Art Help Wanted at Boom!
Porno Pirates Comic Irritates Disney
Fotonovela on Issue of Statutory Rape
Newspaper Cartoon Accused of Racism
Fraternity Cartoon Controversy at U of I

Interviews/Profiles
The News-Press: Ding
Wizard: Scott McCloud
Yakima Herald: Gus Foster
The Saratogian: Greg Dixon
Naples Daily News: Scott Kurtz

Not Comics
Don MacPherson Reviews 300

Publishing
Annable With Atrabile
Profile of Neuromancer Project
Profile of DC Comics' Next Mega-Crossover
Profile of Stephen King's First Dark Tower Issue

Reviews
Jog: To Terra... Vol. 1
Vichus Smith: Civil War #7
Geoff Hoppe: Dynamo 5 #1
Sean Carroll: Blessed Thistle
Marc Singer: Heart of Empire
Nameless: Captain Nemo Vol. 1
Michael Vance: Ed's Terrestrials
Mark Allen: Batman and the Monster Men
Michael Vance: Even White Boys Get The Blues
David Welsh: Mushishi, Apothecarius Argentum
Sean Carroll: Rex Mundi: Book III The Lost Kings
 

 
March 11, 2007


CR Sunday Magazine

image

Sunday Morning Notes, Discombobulated By The Time Change

* Come, sit. Have some coffee. Let's talk about comics and comics-related ephemera for a while.

* My friend Gil Roth shares my basic reaction to the big weekend opening for Zack Snyder's 300 movie -- for those of us of a certain age it's hard to get past the fact that we live in a world where the success of Frank Miller movies are a topic in the first place. It's like having to discuss Vice-President Gygax.

* For a funny discussion of the film's merits, check out this exchange between cartoonists Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld.

* Good weekend for Neil Gaiman, if you think about it for a second.

image* Speaking of things named Stardust, Paul Karasik's forthcoming book on the strange and wonderful Golden Age comic book artist Fletcher Hanks, I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets is receiving a solid ramp-up to publication for a book sporting what one would at best characterize as having a modest potential audience. Note not just the piece linked to in F.L.A.G.G. below at primarily mainstream-focused comics news site Newsarama, but also this thread wondering if the whole thing is a hoax. There was a similar undercurrent of interest in Dan Nadel's excellent Art Out of Time before that volume came out, but mentions of Karasik's book seems to me a bit more heated and with a potentially more accessible pay-off.

* I'm finally caught up enough in my reading to start preparing a Best of 2006 list. I think my #1 may not have been on any of the other major list, which I guess could be sort of interesting. Here's a question, though: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I feel like I may have missed someone, someone who doesn't get talked about on a regular basis -- like Henry Payne, although I have looked at Henry Payne.

* Speaking of editorial cartoons, I'm having a hard time working up much interest in the trend towards political animations, at least as a substitute for traditional cartoons. The making of static-image cartoons and moving-image animations do not automatically share the same skill base, and I think sometimes animating something can be less flattering to a cartoonist because the extended exposure may more completely expose the banality of a not-great idea. The ones I like best may be those from Shujaat Ali on Al-Jazeera because they seem most like the re-presentation of static imagery, and Ali's generally a strong caricaturist so the visual appeal is maintained even in simplified form. But I'm not totally excited about them, either.

image* Other than Captain America, the book I'm being e-mailed the most about right now is Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, a book of multiple approaches including comics by Anders Nilsen. My e-mail is running about three people saying "Holy God, why isn't everyone talking about this book?" to one person expressing doubts or otherwise running ahead of an anticipated backlash. In my experience, that's a much greater sign that a book is hitting with people than 100 percent bland pronouncements that something is good. Don't Go is the book I have right now that I'm reading and re-rereading in obsessive fashion, and if it's escaped your notice I recommend picking it up.

* Every other month I'm tempted to start a blog devoted to my attempts to lose weight using nothing but the principles laid out in The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book.

* One of the stories that was slightly stronger on the days after the release of Captain America #25 than on the first day of release was whether or not retailers benefited in appropriate fashion. I love comics retailers, and if I were Emperor I would wave my scepter and pass a law against fans and readers lecturing businesspeople in patronizing fashion on what they should do in any specific circumstance to be a better businessperson, on punishment of beatings. Still, I don't see how it's reasonable for anyone to have expected Marvel to know exactly how this plot point would play differently than all their other plot points and sales initiatives, and given the lack of discipline in the retail system generally about the dissemination of passed-along information or even selling books ahead of time, the way information is traditionally pressed for advantage instead of the wider benefit of the customers, I don't see how it would have suited Marvel to be more explicit about their plans and let retailers decide for themselves with all information in hand. Call me cynical, but I'm imagining just as many Captain America #25's scooped up and pre-priced at higher than cover price as I am extra copies for everyone who walked into stores that wanted one. We should be honest that in a sense that whole system is broken right at the points that would allow for maximum benefit on getting in-series publishing events into readers' hands, and therefore no effort making use of those channels is likely to please everyone 100 percent. In the end, I think everything worked out pretty well.

* Is there any better, easier-to-find deal out there than the number of Peter Arno hardcovers that are routinely available from used bookstore services like AbeBooks for less than $5?

* I'm very suspicious that anyone really cares about this kind of thing, but I'm changing format on the CR Sunday Magazines starting next week to better reflect how this articles are picked up by people getting them off of a news reader. The good news: better features up top.

*****

Five Link A Go Go

* go, look at Evan Dorkin's posting of a Roy Crane page

* you probably wondered what the Onion would write on Captain America

* you always want to read what Paul Karasik has to say about Fletcher Hanks

* you could download a PDF on comics in North Carolina, if you wanted, or read about how Chuck Rozanski lived through a dream that many comics readers have not once but twice

* people full of hate for comics' bad aspects on The Engine

*****

Go, Look: Emmanuel Malin

image

*****

First Thought Of The Day
Everyone is at the office today so they can take the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA basketball tournament off and watch TV for 12 hours in a row 12 hours apart, right?
 
posted 4:09 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 10, 2007


If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 9, 2007


CR Week In Review

image

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

1. Abdul Muhid found guilty on two counts of inciting murder for actions during his participation in a 2006 London protest about publication of caricatures of Muhammed in a Denmark newspaper.

2. Alt-Comix masterplan set in motion during long brunch at Hattie's Hat in June 1993 comes to fruition as Lowlife's Ed Brubaker, after eight years of deep undercover as a mainstream comics writer, murders Captain America.

3. FOL Empowerment Fund saga ends with a whimper. Well, actually a press release.

Winner Of The Week
Mike Thompson

Loser Of The Week
Roscoe

Quote Of The Week
"Comics, even in these pseudo-sophisticated days, are as trashy as ever. I can't decide if I cynically like that or detest it." -- Dan Nadel

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:58 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

I'm surprised there aren't more articles on the Old Bailey trials focusing on a 2006 Danish Cartoons controversy protest in the UK as travesties of free-speech rights. I understand the construction of the arguments by which such folks are being convicted, but at the same time, you can hear far worse being shouted at any Philadelphia sporting event. Heck, I've heard some nasty things from political protesters, and it never occurred to me that someone might run over to the White House and actually sexually assault President Bush as a result. While I know you can't shout fire in a crowded theater, I have a hard time determining whether a protest is a crowded theater or something on stage at the crowded theater. In other words, I have no answers.
 
posted 4:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Please Consider Buying Bart’s Book

image

Frequent CR contributor Bart Beaty is on vacation in the American Midwest so hopefully I can sneak in this public service announcement without making anyone mad. If you've enjoyed Bart's look at European comics either here or in the Comics Journal, I hope you'll consider buying or having your college library buy his Unpopular Culture book (University of Toronto Press, 0802094120). It's available all the places that sell books on semi-obscure subject matter. I've enjoyed it so far.
 
posted 4:01 am PST | Permalink
 

 
E&P: Pulitzer Prize Finalists Leaked

image

We live in a scary world where the Pulitzer Prize committee is less effective at keeping secrets than Marvel Comics, but it's always fun to see Editor & Publisher post what is reported to be the finalists list for the esteemed prize. Up for cartooning this year are Walt Handelsman of Newsday, Nick Anderson of Houston Chronicle and Mike Thompson of Detroit Free Press.

This doesn't necessarily mean the winner will come from that short list -- even if 100 percent accurate the prize can go to and has gone to someone not list. It does, however, reinforce Thompson as a likely favorite.

an example of Thompson's approach above
 
posted 3:51 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Captain America Apparently Still Dead

Some more notes on the out of left-field publicity bonanza for Marvel Comics and writer Ed Brubaker caused by the announcement that the Captain America/Steve Rogers character was killed in the pages of Captain America #25.

image* It's day three and already my head hurts.

* For a character/concept with a crap history in film, these videos are strangely hypnotic.

* One important thing to take away from this is that Marvel clearly benefited by releasing the news in conjunction with the issue being available as opposed to releasing it in concert with the deadline for comic shops to order that issue. It also sounds like they'll be able to meet some extended demand by having a flood of issues available by next week. All in all, this was well-played by Marvel in those respects, and I imagine there's a lot of people smiling at the offices.

* Ed Brubaker's description of his day at the center of a mini-media sensation can be found here. I think it's nice that many people are citing as one positive aspect of this Ed's involvement, and the likelihood that the attention will at least drive people to Ed's comics, and that these will have a chance of being rewarding to those readers and not just rewarding to Marvel's bottom line.

* We're starting to get a retailer perspective on the flood of business Wednesday here and here and here and here.

* The biggest complaint from retailers and some fans (perhaps best embodied here) seems to be that despite Marvel saying "please order lots of extra copies of this" that there was no way for anyone to reasonably determine that this plea was any more legit than the last half-dozen times Marvel asked retailers to order extra copies.

* Joe Gross ably covers most of the reasons why it's likely this plot point won't be permanent one. There's another reason no one's really brought up -- while Steve Rogers isn't in and of itself a name along the lines of Peter Parker that has its own pop-culture cachet, the idea he embodies of a World War II-era hero brought into modern times is a huge part of that character as conceived since the early '60s. Leave him dead, you not only abandon the character, you abandon that hook, or are forced to replicate it in some fashion that would be hard not to make a less-effective stretch.

* On the other hand, this brings into some bold relief that maybe connecting characters to World War II as many comics have will grow less and less prevalent as that generation passes on. I think Captain America is the last character that benefits from severing this connection, and certainly they no longer ask us to believe, say, Mr. Fantastic and the Thing are WWII veterans, but it occurs to me you might see a wider disconnect from that specific permutation of comics' "Golden Age" over the next decade or so.
 
posted 3:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Three Solid Interviews For a Friday

* A really solid interview of creator Rutu Modan is up at Newsarama, in support of this Spring's Exit Wounds graphic novel from Drawn and Quarterly.

image* Brigid Alverson presents in feature article form an interesting 101-style talk with Stephen Robson of Fanfare/Ponent Mon on his personal background, the company's start, its success and failures. There is no better project to project publisher out there right now with as little in the way of coverage -- both press and in terms of how many stores carry the works.

* Matt Madden is first up in a series of same-question interviews called "Sudden Interviews" from Paulo Patricio's Blog Mundo Fantasma (scroll down for the English). Even if I hated Madden's interview I would recommend it just because it's really fun to say "Mundo Fantasma." Future recipients of the questions will apparently include Baru and Gary Panter.
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Rick Burchett!

image
 
posted 1:19 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Updates on FOL Empowerment Fund

Two short updates to my assertion yesterday that the story of the abortive dissolution of the Friends of Lulu Empowerment fund has reached a point of closure, both basically in support of that notion.

* Johanna Draper Carlson wrote to CR:
Regarding your post titled FOL Empowerment Fund: Closure?, Lisa Jonte was most definitely my predecessor in pressing the issue. She was first -- I was just louder and persistent. Katherine Keller was also inspirational to me by asking the tough questions when the Fund was first announced.

* Friends of Lulu has apparently sent out an official press release to more legitimate news sources than this one to announce and make official pretty much what was indicated in the Comics Worth Reading posts on the matter.
 
posted 12:58 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 45th Birthday, Mike Kazaleh!

image
 
posted 12:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Why I Don’t Respond to Macro-Essays

Every so often I'll get an e-mail or two asking me to respond here to someone's essay or a vigorous message board thread about the future of all things comics. A bit less often I'll get an e-mail asking me why I chose not to. There are several reasons I tend to find these kinds of think sessions frustrating or outright counter-productive, and since it's a reasonably slow news Friday thus far, I'll indulge myself in putting a few of them up here.

* Very few people listen. A lot of people who participate in discussions of how to save the comics industry bring up arguments that have been discredited or at least questioned, and in their fervor to be heard, choose not to acknowledge these arguments have a history. Sometimes such people will strongly assert an argument that's been discredited or damaged right there within a discussion as if their fervent desire to believe in whatever slogan or assertion they're offering up is good enough for it to be taken seriously, and anyone that stands in the way of their reformist zeal is a hater. There's very little give and take.

* Very few people know or pay attention to history. This is not only frustrating, but it makes those of us who have to bring up an appropriate historical example -- often of the rudimentary "they already did this" variety -- feel really old.

* It's too easy to play with other people's money. A lot of called-for solutions are flat-out unreasonable, both in that they'll call for the abandonment of hundreds of millions of dollars for some sort of idealized expectation of same, and that they call for massively high risk that no one in their right mind would take or be allowed to take. This is fine for a role-playing game where the suffering and discomfort caused by bringing about change exists only as a verbal abstraction or in a video game where you can hit the reset button, but in actual industry reform institutional resistance is a huge factor and has to be considered.

* Shifty arguments. This is a big one now that there are easily-defined multiple markets for comics. Someone might start arguing about the Direct Market of comics shops and then suddenly bring in certain realities of the bookstore market to buttress their position. Or someone might argue the excellence of a small percentage of high-quality comics shops but bring up numbers pertaining to all comics shops to give that argument weight. It's exhausting.

* Overconfidence. I think a lot of comics arguments are a bit too certain when it comes to linking an achievable situation to desirable outcomes in art and commerce. Comics is an industry of ironic achievement. The undergrounds may not have happened without the Comics Code. Marvel may not have happened without late-'50s distribution collapse. The Direct Market allowed for the existence of arts-driven micro-publishers while at the same time capping their likely market penetration. And so on. A lot of reform calls count on sticking the landing, and that's not always going to happen.

* Disagreement over standards. People in comics have a bottom-line fixation that I think may come from years of poor performance and a real belief that making distinctions over what succeeds and what doesn't is an elitist, unforgivable position. Personally, I would suggest that if hundreds of millions of dollars more are made in comics, but 99.9 percent of this cash goes to bonuses for big-company board members rather than creators and if the resulting industry landscape doesn't favor a continued opportunity for quality art, this is not a desirable outcome. Everyone knows that if you don't agree on the goals, you can't really have an argument. But it doesn't keep comics people from trying!

I admire the passion and zeal that comics fans have for their art form and attending industries, and I'm with them in the notion that in the end, many things are possible that don't have to be locked into any other industry's way of doing things. I just find it increasingly difficult to have the same arguments over and over again.
 
posted 12:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Preview of Other Heroes Show
Review of Aline Show at Adam Baumgold

Industry
Profile of Dark Tower Project
Tom McLean Looks At Civil War as Medium Lure

Interviews/Profiles
Sequential Tart: Phil Hester
Sequential Tart: Rich Burlew
Sequential Tart: Mike Bullock
Wizard: Dumbrella Collective
Sequential Tart: Fabian Nicieza
Sequential Tart: Jason Yungbluth
Sequential Tart: Dario Carrasco, Jr.
Sequential Tart: Gwen Rachel Stanley

Not Comics
Best GN Movie Adaptations
Skip Class to Study Economics
A Comics-Related Movie I'd See
A Second Comics-Related Movie I'd See
Yet a Third Comics-Related Movie I'd See
Scott Adams' Choice For President Not Going For It

Publishing

Reviews
Jog: Various
Donielle Ficca: Aegis
Jog: The Authority #2
Tim O'Neil: The Eternals
Matt Koelbl: Shooting War
Alan Gardner: Maintaining
Nathaniel Jonet: Persepolis
Julie Gray: Gacha Gacha Vol. 5
Leroy Douresseaux: Shazam #1
Brian Heater: Buddy Does Jersey
Koppy McFad: The All-New Atom #9
Don MacPherson: Mighty Avengers #1
Koppy McFad: Justice League of America #6
Don MacPherson: Nat Turner Vol. 2 of 2: Revolution
 

 
March 8, 2007


Conversational Euro-Comics: A Few Words on Remaining Prize Winners 02

image

By Bart Beaty

I was shocked this year when I learned that the jury at the Angouleme festival had presented the Prix du patrimoine (the Heritage Prize) to Touis and Frydman's Sergent Laterreur (L'Association). The oversized Little Nemo book had seemed to me like a shoo-in, but, as someone pointed out to me at the bar, "Delcourt already had their prize: A 125Euro price tag." Angouleme's bars are filled with cynics...

Sergent Laterreur arrived as one of those books that I had absolutely no idea about. I was unfamiliar with the artists and I had never heard of the strip itself (which was originally serialized from February 1971 to December 1973 in the pages of Pilote, when I was far too young to be reading Pilote). I basically had no clue. I had flipped through L'Association’s new collected edition, but it wasn't high on my list of priorities.

That all changed in Angouleme when my good friend Uli started talking to me about this strip. He described a series of incredibly structured two-page gags from a glorious era of Pilote and talked about how he waited every week to read the new ones. He told me that when his family moved back to Germany from France and he realized that he couldn't carry his Pilote collection with him (too much weight) that he carefully ripped out all of the Sergent Laterreur strips and has saved them to this day. Uli is the type of discerning comics reader who rarely raves about comics (ok, maybe Barks), and to see him almost misty-eyed recalling this work from his youth convinced me to take a closer look. And then the prize absolutely sealed the deal.

image

Sergent Laterreur is the type of book that is unlikely to ever be translated. A series of 108 short gags, the lettering of the strip is so integral to the overall page design that it would be well nigh impossible to translate the work without having to redraw virtually the entire volume. Graphically striking and visually cutting edge, Sergent Laterreur feels very specific to a particular time and space.

Each of the Sergent Laterreur strips deals with the relationship of the military sergeant and the lone soldier under his command. The sergeant is tiny, the soldier a giant. The sergeant is a bully, the soldier his punching bag. It is a comic world that they inhabit, but also a somewhat bleak one (the war is perpetual) and one where the relationships are exclusively based on power and delusions of grandeur. In the introduction to this volume, Jean-Pierre Mercier compares the work to Feininger, Moscoso and Rick Griffin, which seems like a good triumvirate by which we can orient the material. I would probably add Prohias' Spy vs Spy at the level of narrative -- the idea of two men caught in a series of endlessly recurring gags. Sergent Laterreur has an unmistakable underground influence, and the careful attention to the possibilities of the form certainly recall the more modernist work of Feininger and, to a lesser degree, McCay, whom the strip parodies on a number of occasions.

Not much changes in Sergent Laterreur over the two year run. There is no hugging and learning, and the strips seem slightly repetitive read all at once (they would definitely read far better on a weekly basis, which, of course, is the case for a lot of older strips that were designed that way). Lovingly collected in a single volume, the created impression is that this genuinely is something of a lost masterpiece, while at the same time the hyper-stylization and garish coloring becomes somewhat rattling after a while. By the strip's end, there was a sense that Touis was leading up to a stylistic breakthrough, but the strip's sudden cessation leaves that unresolved.

image

I'm not sure why Sergent Laterreur ended. The introduction doesn't tell me, although I suppose that there just weren't enough readers like Uli clamoring for its continuation. A black and white collection was published in 1976 by DistriBD collecting a quarter of the strips, and there was a color edition from Dargaud in 1981 of about the same length. Touis continued to do some work for Charlie Mensuel and Pilote through until 1978, but then left comics altogether, and slowly his career and his work faded from the collective comics memory.

L'Association's edition, which collects all of the strips in full color on glossy paper, alongside some early research work, cover designs and other ephemera, should go a long way to reinserting this work in the history of the medium. This is a wonderful edition of the work, and it deserves to be widely read. This year, the Prix du patrimoine did exactly what it should do: it shone a light on a brilliant but long neglected work, and, hopefully, will help to build an audience for an important piece of comics history.

Next time: The Revelation Prize -- Mulot and Ruppert's Panier de Singe

*****

Sergent Laterreur, Gerald Frydman and Touis, L'Association, 108 pages, 2844141714 (ISBN), October 2006, 32 Euros

*****

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.
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Caricaturists Profile The Candidates

image

One of the great, recurring articles in media history about the art of cartooning is the feature on how cartoonists draw presidential candidates. This year may be the best one yet: of the six or seven major candidates, you have one that's just tough to draw (McCain), one that's tough to parody without coming across like a giant sexist (Clinton) and one whose charisma and high political upside makes it difficult to portray him as anything other than over-successful (Obama).
 
posted 1:31 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Kampung Boy Altered In US Edition?

image

Jog came up with this link describing changes in First Second's North American edition of Lat's excellent Kampung Boy, going into great detail about one in particular. It's hard to figure out how I feel about this, except for a gut reaction that tells me it was unfortunate and unnecessary, no matter who did it, and then a more rational feeling that settles in telling me on the whole it doesn't matter. I didn't even notice there had been changes from the old version, although there was a 13-year gap between my looking at the book.
 
posted 1:17 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Tracking Marvel’s Publishing Gains

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com looks at a Marvel report that breaks down where the increases from 2005 to 2006 in publishing revenues came from. The weirdest thing in the report from my point of view is that there was apparently a price increase. I don't remember the usual rolling in the aisles and vomiting from fans that traditionally comes with a mainstream company increasing cover prices.
 
posted 1:11 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Mike Luckovich Wins Headliner Award

image

Mike Luckovich wins the National Headliner Award for editorial cartooning. The next several weeks should tell if this is the end of a stellar run that included Pulitzer and Reuben wins, or the continuation of one.
 
posted 1:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FOL Empowerment Fund: Closure?

This post at Johanna Draper Carlson's site feels something like closure on the issue of the Friends of Lulu Empowerment Fund, although the echoes of people type-yelling at each other and making proclamations about one aspect of it or another are likely to linger.

As I understand the basics, Friends of Lulu was through preemptive announcement by a member since departed saddled with a fund the group as a group may not have wanted and which their charter didn't allow them to administer. Months later, after public nudging by blogger-columnists Carlson and (I think she was first) Lisa Jonte, and an effort by current FOL members to clear the air as to their perspective on what happened, FOL has decided to be more aggressive about refunding the collected monies.
 
posted 12:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 7, 2007


Roscoe Disrespected By National Media

image

Some notes on Marvel's publicity success yesterday and today, the apparent storyline death of Steve Rogers/Captain America due in part to fallout from events in their Civil War mega-crossover. This plot point that unfolded in Captain America #25 led to a mini-avalanche of feature stories that explored the death of iconic characters like Captain America as a fictional device as well as Marvel potentially asserting a point about the divisive national mood, as mirrored fun-house style in the hero vs. hero mini-series.

*****

* I don't know if any reporter out there has mentioned this already, but death and rebirth as a device in heroic fiction hasn't just been going on since 1992's Death of Superman storyline. It can be traced all the way back to Sherlock Holmes (or, if you're James Cameron, Jesus Christ). The vacuum tubes and steam powered pipes of the Victorian Internet were almost certainly afire with poetic fan invective the day "The Final Problem" was released, followed by multiple polls determining whether Dr. Watson or Mycroft Holmes should take up the pipe and violin.

* You can read modern fan reaction here and here and here and here and here and here.

* I think it's interesting that after several decades of death and rebirth in not just comic books but on TV shows and in books, a lot of people outside of comics looking in join fans of comics thinking this will likely not remain the status quo with Captain America until the end of time.

* There's probably something to be said about death/rebirth as a plot point in the last 30 years, the way that apocalyptic storylines were all the rage in the late 1990s. I think in comics a big part of it is the natural result of the ramping up of realism kick that began in the 1970s. Death had to come out onto the table as a potential consequence to satisfy increasingly sophisticated older readers, but the fantasy element is used to bring these characters back to life to continue servicing the trademark and because it's an effective way to open up a string of new stories in increasingly tired concepts. Plus fan service.

* Current Captain America scripter Ed Brubaker is a very good writer with considerable skill writing superhero comic books, and he will probably write some very effective pulp adventure stories in the coming months using this plot point as a springboard. Ed's reaction here. I'm less confident that something like this will be any good at all.

* There was in some comics shops a flurry of speculative sales behavior by which fans latch onto a comic thinking it will one day go up in value; in others, not at all. For the most part I don't think this was pushed in that way as it was back when DC killed Superman back in '92. Modern comics tagged as events and speculated upon by collectors frequently do not go up in value because of the number of copies printed and held for that purpose.

* As Reason points out, it's hard to track exactly what kind of point Marvel wants to make regarding moves like these, or wants to say they're making, although I'd cut Marvel some slack in that these sorts of stories aren't exactly facilitators for nuance and specificity on any subject, let alone snapshots of national mood.

* Roscoe was a character that donned the Captain America costume when Steve Rogers was walking around making mopey 1970s thought balloons about the burden of wearing the costume. He was killed by the Red Skull, largely because the Red Skull is an insane, homicidal dick. This makes him a Captain America that died. But did 341 articles surface on his passing by 1:30 AM the next day? No. Poor, poor Roscoe. Roscoe would be played in a Captain America movie by Wilmer Valderrama or Loren Dean.

* This is way more than any sane person should ever write about Captain America, but it's either this, According to Jim or a conference final basketball game starring two schools I've never heard of.
 
posted 8:04 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Aline Event in London Canceled

History
40 Years of Brit Teen Comics

Industry
Joy in Roachville
Archaia Studios Hires Illidge
Overdue Media Hires Demonakos
Edmonton Journal: Comics and Technology

Interviews/Profiles
The Wave: Matt Groening
Pasadena Weekly: David Wallis

Not Comics
Chris Genung: Marvel EiC for a Day
Garry Trudeau Praises Some Iraq Journalism
McDonnell Seeks Your Tales For Shelter Stories

Publishing
Marvel on FCBD
The Check Family Debuts
Indystar.com: On-Line Comics

Reviews
Sheena McNeil: Nana Vol. 4
Sheena McNeil: Nana Vol. 5
Dorothea Cantero: Recast #1
Sheena McNeil: Godchild Vol. 4
Joamette Gil: Beauty Pop Vol. 3
Patti Martinson: Hero-Heel Vol. 1
Sheena McNeil: Embracing Love #4
Patti Martinson: The Law of Ueki Vol. 4
Donielle Ficca: Boys Over Flowers Vol. 1
Donielle Ficca: Boys Over Flowers Vol. 2
Donielle Ficca: Boys Over Flowers Vol. 3
Sheena McNeil: Kizuna: Bonds of Love #6
Sheena McNeil: Kizuna: Bonds of Love #7
Sharon T. Schmitt: Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs Vol. 1
Sheena McNeil: Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon -- Ginji's Rescue Team
 

 
Potential Comics and Food Crossover

Someone out there is likely qualified for this.
 
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Everyone That Saw His Movie is a Suspect—That’s Like 400 People

imageIf it has to be 1992 again, I hope this means there's new issues of Weirdo, Sin and Hate on the way, too.
 
posted 6:51 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image

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.

JAN070051 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #1 $2.99
The irony of extending the Buffy series into comic book form is that the show itself was a season or two too long. In fact, once the leads graduated high school, Joss Whedon's reputation-maker lost both its metaphorical juice (the horrors of high school are real horrors) and shifted to a much less poignant framework for its Zot!-like wish fulfillment subtext (special friend with special powers making possible a secret, special life). That didn't have to be a bad thing except that the writers replaced working through those kind of humane ideas with a type of soap opera that assumes rather than builds devotion to its characters. However, I'll totally admit the nerd in me is fascinated by the idea of a work trying to extend its official canon from one medium to another, as with this series' "Season Eight." If I were in comic shop I'd buy this for someone else and read it before dropping it in the mail.

DEC063785 DUNGEON PARADE VOL 1 TP $9.95
I've enjoyed all the Dungeon comics I've read, which is a good thing because I'm completely lost as to what's being printed in what format and when. I'm not sure how to describe these books' appeal; they're basically humorous fantasies with a lot of charming funkiness to them, quirks of character and motivation that keep the readers from assuming they know the outcome of any scene or set-up. Pleasurable, diverting comics; I imagine this one with art by Manu Larcenet to be in the same class.

JAN070316 SHAZAM THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL #2 (OF 4) $5.99
I enjoyed the first issue of Jeff Smith's take on the classic superhero Captain Marvel quite a bit. I will likely be happier with this in comic book form than some future trade paperback, no matter how lovely the presentation of that volume is likely to be. I'd buy it for sure.

DEC062361 CRIMINAL #5 (MR) $2.99
The final issue of a very effective first arc from two of modern mainstream comics' finest craftsmen.

DEC063562 CASTLE WAITING VOL II #5 $3.95
I may be the only one, but I prefer reading Linda Medley's offbeat, wry fantasy stories in serial form. There's a healthy respect for the cycle of everyday living that comes out in her work that sort of flatters periodic stop-ins, and her strengths with narrative are enhanced when the reader has to make certain connections for themselves. I'm not sure the presentation of her serial offers enough in terms of ballast to satisfy most people, though.

JAN073896 JEFFREY BROWNS FEEBLE ATTEMPTS #1 (MR) $5.00
I have no idea what this is, but Brown's recent work suggests another major ramping up in terms of skill so I plan to devour anything he's doing for the next 24-30 months with a big, hopeful look on my face.

DEC061863 NAT TURNER BOOK 2 REVOLUTION TP $10.00
I always want to buy Kyle Baker's books, but I seem to only ever see them for sale at conventions -- not just randomly at a convention, either, but at the exact moment of a convention weekend when I'd rather do anything than pick up another book to carry. We're probably a full generation from Confessions of Nat Turner for this to be a widely known fact, but the Nat Turner saga is one of American history's most poignant. I have no grasp of the previous work's accomplishment or even its approach, but I would definitely take a look.

*****

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
 

 
4th UK Cartoons Protester Guilty

Burning through the international wires this morning is news that a fourth protester has been convicted because of actions during a demonstration in 2006 against the 2005 publication in a Danish newspaper of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammed. Abdul Muhid was found guilty of two counts of inciting murder by a jury at London's Old Bailey. This marks the fourth conviction in four trials from that same demonstration, with various defenses including just going along with the crowd or various chants not meaning the severity with which the defendants were charged fairly falling to the wayside.

Although I haven't seen any indication of this line of thinking recently, my memory is at the time of the arrests there was some criticism that authorities were using the protests as a springboard to go after a group of Muslim leaders they found generally troublesome.
 
posted 2:24 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Asian Comics In Europe

imageGo here to read a better than usual feature article on the rise of Asian comic in the European market. I say better than usual because it gets into some of the specifics of the potential appeal of such books in contrast to the European album format, and talks about how the material was introduced. I tend to see people enjoying comics as people enjoying comics as opposed to an opportunity for people to enjoy other comics, a logic I think the article dips into near the end, but it's hard to qualify the impact of one type of book on another without talking in that kind of language.
 
posted 2:14 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Help Me Make a List

image

Do you own any books about comics? Have you written one? If you have a second, I would appreciate any and all help with my update of this site's Books About Comics list. If you can add one or more books, I'd really appreciate it -- I can make do with as little information as a title and author. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 2:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Lina Buffolente, 1924-2007

imageThe news and resource site afNews.info reports that the Italian comics creator Lina Buffolente passed away earlier today. Widely acknowledged as the first female comics creator in Italy and an artist with one of the longest continuing careers in European comics, Buffolente was 82 years old.

Buffolente was born in Vicenza, and studied in Milan in the the years leading up to World War II. Her first comics were at Edital in 1941, assisting Giussepe Capadonia. After debuting as a co-creator with Petto de Pollo at Alpe, she went on to work on several series such as Colorado Kid and Calamity Jane. According to the biography posted at Lambiek.net, 1948 was a watershed year for the artist, as she worked for several publishers on several different series ranging from Tom Mix to an adaptation of Les Miserables, and began work at Casa Editrice Universo. This also began a cycle of work for publishers throughout Europe, and she continued to work both outside and inside of Italy for the next several years.

Her career continued into the 1990s. Notable works in the mainstream of her career include but are in no way limited to Liberty Kid, Fiordistella (1960s), Gun Gallon and Piccolo Ranger (1970s). In addition to her groundbreaking status as a female artist, Buffolente will likely be remembered for having one of the longest and most productive careers in comics, continuing to work for decades, a testament to her skill and versatility.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Peter Gross!

image
 
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
La Cucaracha Spared LA Times Axe

Reader complaints about La Cucaracha being among four strips dropped by the LA Times in a reconfigured comics section drove the newspaper to reinstate the strip yesterday. Heathcliff will take its place on death row. It may also be worth noting that none of the original four strip selected was a legacy strip, meaning that the Times actually ended up with a newspaper comics strip sections that's more conservative and creaky than the one they used to have.

As has been noted at this site a number of times, the culture of the newspaper right now is one of nervousness and perceived decline, which combined with the fact that strip movement has become relatively fluid in the last few years and that moderate rather than juggernaut hits define the moment makes wholesale changes in how comics pages are configured much more in play than ever before.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Cully Hamner!

image
 
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Topps Changes Hands

ICv2.com has an article up about a change in ownership at Topps, a company with a major pop-culture pedigree that has circled around comics for much of its existence and directly crossed over more than once. This includes the pending retirement of Arthur T. Shorin, the company's CEO since 1980.
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Kids Love Comics Day Photos
Kids Love Comics Day Report
Report From Art Spiegelman Lecture
Profile of World Press Cartoon Exhibition
Panel Transcript Featuring Cam Kennedy
Go, Listen: Comic Publishing Panel From NYCC

History
Cartoons for Helen Newton
Quit Comparing Comics to Novels, Please

Industry
PWCW: WonderCon Report
Two Up For Scottish Press Awards

Interviews/Profiles
PWCW: David Petersen
Bookslut: Alison Bechdel
OC Register: Josh Kemble
California Aggie: Matt Silady
Kolkata Newsline: Sarnath Banerjee

Publishing
How Naruto Works
PWCW: Preview of The Black Diamond Detective Agency

Reviews
Sheena McNeil: Pantheon High Vol. 1
Brian Heater: The Living and the Dead
Sheena McNeil: Evenfall Vol II: Soul to Keep
Sheena McNeil: Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Vol. 2 Shadows of Ice
Leigh Dragoon: When Worlds Collide: A Boys' Love Comic Anthology
 

 
March 6, 2007


Conversational Euro-Comics: A Few Words on Remaining Prize Winners 01

image

By Bart Beaty

Moving on through this year's Angouleme prizes, we get to the first of the three special awards: The Fanzine Prize. As I discuss in my new book, the Fanzine Prize really has no logical definition to it. It has been won in years past by mini-comics anthologies, by small press magazines featuring articles about comics, and by professionally produced magazines like Stripburger, Panel, Sturgeon White Moss and Drozophile. Generally, my sense is that the prize is reserved for whatever the jury deems to be the best work that can be found in the area set aside for fanzine publishers.

This year's fanzine winner is another that would be difficult to term a 'zine in any way that that term is meaningfully used in comics culture. Canicola is an annual comics anthology from Italy, now in its fourth year. Edited by Edo Chieregato, Canicola envisions itself, as the editorial in the third issue attests, as a contribution to the avant-garde, or, in their terms, poetic, side of comics. Each issue is beautifully designed and professionally printed. The first issues were album sized, 80 pages, and printed on high quality paper, but the most recent (fourth) issue is a squarebound album totaling 192 pages.

While Canicola has included the work of a small handful of non-Italian artists to date (Anders Nilsen -- who provided the cover for the most recent issue -- Anke Feuchtenberger, the insanely wonderful Finnish cartoonist Marko Turunen, and the Hong Kong-based cartoonist Chihoi), it is primarily a site for young Italian cartoonists to strut their stuff. The core group appears in every issue, and over the course of the past several years there has been a noticeable improvement in some of the work. I was enthusiastic but not overwhelmed when I saw the first issue a couple of years ago. Since that time I have made a habit of picking up the subsequent releases at Angouleme. This was the first year that I put the new book at the top of my "to read" pile.

image

The award-winning issue opens with a short story by Marko Turunen and Annemari Hietanen. Turunen, whose work I've mostly read in French from Fremok, has an incredibly distinctive and direct visual style. His comics are dystopic, and filled with sexualized violence and aliens from another planet. I love his work, but it is fair to say that I am often not entirely sure I know what it's about. "Sea," a short work by Chihoi, is the very definition of the poetic comic work, a lovely little work about mothers, sons, and dreams. "Paolo Uccello: Imaginary Life," by regular contributor Giacomo Nanni, is a work that did little for me. Here he moves between very simplistically drawn cartoons and a vastly more interesting and visually striking series of landscapes. I greatly preferred the use of the latter style that can be found in "Doors," his story in the third issue, and would be interested in seeing him elaborate this style more fully.

Gregor Wiggert is another cartoonist making his debut in this issue, and his anthropomorphic short story, "Subscription" wanders from topic to topic -- a phone solicitation from Locus magazine, a haircut, fishing -- without really settling into a proper narrative. It seemed like the type of work that might find a home in Mome. Anders Nilsen's first of two pieces, "The Rain," followed. Hopefully I don't have to sell anyone on the fact that Nilsen is one of the most talented new voices in comics anywhere in the world.

"Diavolo," a short work by Davide Catania, is a piece that I loved, but that many people would likely dismiss. Catania works a very loose style, and has since the first issue. His comics appear as little more than quickly drawn sketches, with huge strokes (I presume that they are printed much larger than they are drawn). I adore the directness of it all, but some would consider the work unfinished. Their loss. Another regular, Alessandro Tota, contributes a longer work here. Tota is one of the rare Canicola contributors to be working in a classical cartoony fashion (some of his figures remind me of Marc Bell), and while his work is developing in interesting ways, it is always something of a change of gears.

image

"I am cried" is the strange title of the story provided by Edo Chieregato and Michelangelo Setola. I think that Setola, who also has a solo story in this issue, is one of the three most promising artists affiliated with Canicola. His stories are filled with youthful enthusiasm and a touch of menace, and feature creepy high school students that wouldn't be out of place in a Debbie Drechsler comic. His art, which is done in pencil but without inking, is rapidly developing into its own unique and compelling look. This is an artist to watch in the future.

I will admit that the comics of Giacomo Monti did little for me in the early issues of Canicola. Working in a stark, cartoony minimalist style, and featuring stories about semi-squalid sexual encounters, I felt that the material had nowhere interesting to take me. The creepy two-pager "Instants," however, represents something of a breakthrough, a stripped-down sequence of non-sequiturs that sets a nice tone. I liked this better than his other contributions to this issue. Philadelphia's Jesse Moynihan also contributed two stories featuring gnomes and elephants and nightmarish creatures, but neither grabbed me in terms of either the story or the art.

image

Amanda Vahamaki (put umlauts on all those As before trying to pronounce her last name!) offered her most offbeat and atypical story to date, "The Lie Detector." Vahamaki is the second artist that I expect to be a breakout star here, although this story is not as strong as her work from earlier issues. Her previous stories dealt with childhood in an interesting manner. If one were to have a criticism of that work, it might be suggested that it was too highly derivative of Anke Feuchtenberger. The new issue finds her reigning in that tendency, but the shift to smaller panels and a more gridlike structure does not seem to entirely suit her talents. This one was a bit of a disappointment.

The artist whom I find most promising of the Canicola crew is the one I've chosen to deal with last: Andrea Bruno. Years ago I reviewed Bruno's book Black India Ink in The Comics Journal, when it was published by Amok. I loved his work then, and now I simply adore it. He is one of a small handful of young cartoonists that I am currently obsessed with. When I was walking around on the Saturday of Angouleme, thinking "Gee, this festival has kind of sucked, I wish I was in Paris today," I happened to meet Andrea Bruno for the first time. That was literally one of the highlights of my festival, and it made me glad that I didn't take an early train back. Everyone should be fighting over the opportunity to translate this man's work.

image

The fourth issue of Canicola features a 22-page story by Bruno entitled "Rifles," a break from his longer serialized story, "Nothing Broth," which can be found in the first three issues. Like all of his work, "Rifles" is bleakly post-apocalyptic and nihilistic. Horrible things happen in Bruno's work, and his vision of the future of Italy is not a rosy one. His visual style is perfectly attuned to this outlook. His pages explode like dark, inky bombs. He is one of the most visually innovative of contemporary cartoonists. Last year at Fumetto, where his work was exhibited at the Picasso Museum, I was completely lost in his pages. A fantastically innovative stylist, Bruno is one of the most important cartoonists producing work today.

In short, a well-deserved prize. Canicola is publishing a number of cartoonists who, I predict, will make big names for themselves in years to come. While not every story in the fourth issue was to my taste, the hits are of a very high quality. In an era in which many of the best European comics anthologies have stopped publishing, it is fantastic to see this one starting to really make its mark.

One final note: Something I really like about Canicola is the fact that it is sub-titled in English. That is, every page contains a translation of the dialog printed at the bottom of the page, something I first saw in Finnish comics anthologies (although others may have done it first). It is not the ideal way to read comics, but it is better than giving up because your Italian sucks (mine is pretty bad, I will admit). English-only readers looking for innovative European comics should check these out.

Next time: The Heritage Prize winner, Sergent Laterreur

*****

art, from the top: Anders Nilsen cover, Divide Catania, Michelangelo Setola, Andrea Bruno, Amanda Vahamaki

*****

Canicola #4, various cartoonists, squarebound, 192 pages, 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.
 
posted 12:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Celebrating Eisner’s Birthday (Suit)

image
 
posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Bill to punish journalists for defaming religion passed in Jordan.

* Exports may have been down overall, but the good news at dairy giant Arla Foods is that things weren't as bad for them as projections had figured, and the company should bounce back strongly as a result.

* Somehow this depiction of Muhammed appeared in a DC comic book years and years ago without anyone rioting. Thank "Good" for that.
 
posted 12:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The 12 Labors of He-Man

image

that's not the official title, btw, just my preference for one
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 5, 2007


Potential Newspaper Comics Cuts

* Chuck Asay and his Asay's View will no longer appear on a daily basis at the Colorado Springs Gazette according to this editorial in praise of the cartoonist by Editor Sean Paige. It sounds like Asay is retiring, but I can't 100 percent tell. Paige certainly seems fond of him.

* I've received an e-mail indicating that the LA Times may have cut some strips -- Mr. Boffo, La Cucaracha, Mallard Fillmore and Candorville -- in a rearrangement that eliminates a third comics page and squeezes two extra strips onto the remaining pair. Three of the four are very opinionated strips as I recall, so I'm wondering if they've found purchase elsewhere. I tried to confirm, but no one answered or returned my call. But it looks like at least the La Cucaracha news is true.
 
posted 11:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Lukewarm Tales

image
 
posted 11:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CWR: Free Comic Book Day Evolving?

Johanna Draper Carlson has a nice write-up on retailer discussion of the Free Comic Book Day promotion, scheduled for this year on May 5. The promotion, now in its sixth year, initially offered up an easy to grasp concept: on that day, anyone can go to the local comic book shop and walk away with a free comic book. It hasn't always been that simple. There was a lot of discussion over whether the promotion should have its day during a non-vacation regular traffic time of the year or whether it should be tied into that year's big comic book movie release. There has also been some discussion about certain retailers choosing not to participate, which kind of works against verbal contract portion of the concept's simplicity. Within many stores, Free Comic Book Day became less about new customers leaving with one free comic book each but regular customers showing up with an eye on scoring all of them, or at least the ones that interest them.

Anyway, the upshot of the latest round of talks is that because the cost of Free Comic Book Day falls to retailers, many are picking and choosing what they'll offer according to what will please their perceived customer base. That sounds pretty benign and logical to me, and doesn't say anything particularly interesting about the shape of the entire market other than different stores have different needs and all national plans are eventually going to have work locally or not at all.
 
posted 11:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Reaction to Yvan Delporte’s Passing

imageSome of the reactions to yesterday's passing of the writer and editor Yvan Delporte.

* Matthias Wivel chimes in with his thoughts at Metabunker.

* Darko Macan Writes to CR:
A moment ago I was reading Lewis Trondheim's online strip Les petits riens and thought Lewis must have fucked up something because he has rerun two old strips featuring Yvan Delporte. Than I jumped to your page and found out Yvan has died.

I never have met Yvan, yet I couldn't stop the tears. It's a sure sign of how much his work has meant to me, even if I never ever remembered to put him on any of those "top-10 writers" list we all improvise when asked, trying to sound knowledgable or cool.

Read those Trondheim's strips (and his Desoeuvre, if you can, where Yvan Delporte features prominently) to find out a little bit about a really knowledgable and really cool comics figure who is, alas, not with us any longer.

Adieu, Yvan.

Darko

* Didier Pasamonik has some great photos up and a heartfelt tribute at ActuaBD.com.

* Mainstream press obits started to appear yesterday afternoon:
 
posted 11:08 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Fantagraphics Files Appeal to Anti-Slapp Ruling in Ellison Case

On March 1, attorneys for the defense in Harlan Ellison v. Fantagraphics Books, Inc., Gary Groth, and Kim Thompson filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit regarding the recent ruling denying the defense's special motion to strike Ellison's. That ruling was handed down Feb. 2 and is outlined here and here.

Here's how the Court of Appeals operates, courtesy of the Journalist's Guide to the Federal Court:
"The appellant (petitioner) bears the burden of showing that the trial court or administrative agency made a legal error that affected the decision in the case. The court of appeals makes its decision based on the record of the case established by the trial court or agency. The court of appeals does not receive additional evidence or hear witnesses. The court of appeals also may review the factual findings made by the trial court or agency, but typically may overturn a decision on factual grounds only if the findings were 'clearly erroneous.'"

No timeline was immediately available for the appeals process in this case, though Kim Thompson stated via e-mail that attorneys told him to expect a "long haul."

This entry was written and placed by David P. Welsh as a favor to this site, without editorial oversight or intrusion.
 
posted 11:06 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Kieron Dwyer!

image
 
posted 11:04 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Monday’s Arnold Drake Update

Received from Ken Gale on Monday afternoon:
Things are a little better with Arnold Drake. He's asleep most of the day, is hooked up to a lot of machines and anti-biotics and sedatives, BUT the doctors have lowered the amount of insulin and anti-biotics he's getting so he's certainly improving. He's slightly more responsive and his pulse rate varies between 80 and 90, where two days ago it varied between 110 and 115.

Please keep me informed as to blogs and chat rooms, etc. where Arnold is being discussed and where these updates are being posted. I'll pass the URLs along to the family.

Arnold has been writing comics since the late '40s. He's written humor and adventure for all age groups from Batman to Jerry Lewis, from X-Men to Little Lulu. He is the creator of Stanley and His Monster, Deadman, Doom Patrol and Beast Boy. He also wrote what is probably the first American graphic novel; "It Rhymes with Lust" was published in 1950 with art by Matt Baker and is due to be re-released by Dark Horse soon (March, 2007).

Send cards, letters and art to Arnold Drake, Cabrini Medical Center, 227 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003. The staff is very nice and assured me that he will get them. However, flowers are not allowed in the intensive care unit so don't send them. Dark Horse sent a copy of his graphic novel re-release to the hospital, but none of us has seen it.

News that Drake had fallen ill reached the ears of comics fans last week.
 
posted 11:02 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Report From Phoenix Con
Go See the Comic Book Rabbi
Profile of Kids Love Comics Day

History
Ben Towle's 2001 Interview with Art Spiegelman
Paul Gravett's 2003 Interview with Robert Crumb

Industry
Sports Illustrator Gets New Gig
Profile of Spirit of Retailing Award
Brigid Alverson on Industry Tunnel Vision
Dan Nadel on Feeling Isolated Within Industry

Interviews/Profiles
New York: Frank Miller
Moviehole: Frank Miller
Steve Duin: Matt Wagner

Not Comics
Hogarth Is Just Plain Folks

Publishing
Chris Mautner Profiles Yaoi

Reviews
Koppy McFad: Justice #10
Paul O'Brien: X-Men #196
Tracey Gray: Wolverine #50
Jog: The Living and the Dead
Josh Hechinger: The Dreamer
Eric Reynolds: Need More Love
Jog: The Brave and the Bold #1
Paul O'Brien: New Excalibur #17
Koppy McFad: JSA Classified #23
Koppy McFad: JLA Classified #35
Michael C. Lorah: The Plain Janes
Shawn O'Rourke: Dark Tower #1
Ginger Mayerson: Jonah Hex #15
Ginger Mayerson: Jonah Hex #16
Paul O'Brien: D'Airain Aventure #1
Jon Hastings: Chewing Gum in Church
Nadia Berenstein: Various Anthologies
Jog: Hunter & Painter, D'Airain Aventure #1
Sean Carroll: Hawaiian Dick: the Last Resort
Geoff Hoppe: Conan and the Midnight God #2
Al Kratina: The Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp #1
 

 
Yvan Delporte, 1928-2007

image

The massively influential and popular French-language comics writer and editor Yvan Delporte passed away this morning in Brussels, according to this on-line source.

Delporte was the editor-in-chief of Spirou during the flush period of 1955-1968, considered by many the magazine's golden era. He worked with a variety of artists in that position as both writer and editor, most notably Peyo on the globally popular series Les Schtroumpfs, and Andre Franquin on the initial design for the immensely successful Gaston Lagaffe feature. Other artists with whom he worked at Spirou were Rene Hausman, Gerald Forton and Jean Roba. After leaving the magazine in 1958, Delporte continued to freelance with an equally distinguished group of artists, including Claire Bretcher on the series Alfred De Wees. In 1977 he partnered with Franquin to create the one-page Idees Noires comics, some of the most startling and beautiful of Franquin's long and distinguished career, which ran first in Spirou's supplement Le Trombone Illustre and then later in Fluide Glacial. Delporte later worked on Schtroumpfs animation projects and edited a magazine devoted to the characters, continuing to write comics throughout, a figure whose influence on future generation is almost too big to be processed.

above: Delporte (bearded) as depicted in a Gaston Lagaffe comic
 
posted 1:53 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Scott McCloud, Family Still Touring

imageThis interview with the cartoonist and comics theorist Scott McCloud in the Louisville Courier-Journal may be the most perfectly pitched example of a conversation about comics between someone who knows a lot about them and someone who knows a little. It's like every Christmas Party conversation I had in my hometown between 1994 and 1999.

Anyway, it's worth noting as McCloud did last week that his 50-states tour with his family, lecturing and speaking in support of Making Comics has passed its halfway point. There aren't many cartoonists out there that could take something that sounds like the first 12 minutes of a Rob Zombie movie and make it its own unique artistic experience. It also strikes me that Making Comics serves as a sort of barometer for the way we talk about comics, moving from a place when Understanding Comics came out where people pretty much hugged it or frowned at it for a few years before delving into its issues to a present where we almost immediately absorb Making Comics and its synthesis of various ideas into their own relationships with the form.
 
posted 1:38 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Publishing News & Notes 03/05/07

* Brigid Alverson talks to Kurt Hassler about plans for Yen Press to do a manga magazine. Hassler says this isn't a quixotic notion for his still-new company despite the degree of difficult involved, and that the profits and loss figures he's seeing make it viable.

* For all I know this was announced weeks and months or even years ago, but I received e-mail this morning that indicates Marvel assistant editor Sean Ryan is no longer with the company, so there you go.

* The new print version of Cracked folds after its third issue. I never saw it; it wasn't purely comics so I didn't seek it out. I got the sense Cracked wasn't a strong enough brand to carry off any of the more difficult aspects of its proposed revival, like print, without a major-league investment or super-smart spin on how to do a humor magazine now, and even then I wouldn't have favored any plan that didn't carry with it some diminished expectations in terms of circulation.
 
posted 1:13 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Osvaldo Cavandoli, 1920-2007

image

Osvaldo Cavandoli, the Italian cartoonist best known for his animated character La Linea, passed away on Saturday. He was 87 years old.

A native of Maderno, Cavandoli worked as a technical designer for Alfa Romeo before moving into animation. He enjoyed success relatively late in life starting in 1969 with La Linea, a character that worked out of a single line that became a popular advertising icon and then short film star. Like many media stars, the popular character moved into comic books in the mid-1970s. You can see a short film here.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 4, 2007


WonderCon 2007: In Summary

These are my thoughts from a vantage point 1/3rd of a continent away on this year's WonderCon, which took place last weekend. They are an advertiser on this site.

* It seems to have been well-attended, although 1) anecdotally maybe a shade off of last year's attendance when there were enough people on hand that fire marshal issues cropped up and 2) more of a typical con attendance cycle than most other conventions at this point, spiking Saturday, although not as big a spike as what used to be traditional for show like this. In other words, there wasn't a quiet day, but there were noticeably less crazy days.

* It's decidedly not comics, and it's not something I understand in the slightest, but people's costumes are incredible these days. I know they've been doing costumes since the Seuling Cons in the early 1970s, and probably before that, but the variety and general professional quality strikes me as its own thing right now. It's not just anime-related cosplay (I probably just sounded like my dad the way I phrased that), although that is certainly where the numbers come from. It's all the costumes, all types. I went to a Wizard-sponsored show in the late 1990s with a brother that was hoping to see a bunch of people in costumes, and barely anyone fit the bill. But now...

* I like how Mark Evanier has become his own programming track at such events -- although I'm jealous that he always has a panel to attend in which he's interested -- and one of the best things about it is that his involvement seems to encourage some of the older artists to talk about their art on panels devoted to technique and craft as opposed to simply being accessed as resources for industry and character history.

* I think these things develop convention to convention as opposed to naturally falling to a show because of a date, but the mainstream panels definitely had more of a "reaction to what was announced at New York Comic-Con" vibe, at least from my vantage point. This may be a moot point because New York moves into the Spring next year. It should be interesting to see if WonderCon can become a place for the kind of new book / new creative team / new direction talk that whips American superhero comics fans into a frenzy.

* By far the most interesting thing to come out of the weekend's panels was Dan Vado's declaration that if he had to do it over again, he'd own everything. What's interesting is that Vado speaks out so infrequently no one knows exactly how to take his statements.

* I expect there will be talk in the general and in various convention offices about the state of bootleg DVD sales at cons and the salacious aspects of shows, two criticisms lobbed at WonderCon from the Mercury-News blog. Since the former has in the past led to police on convention show floors, I would think this to be a more immediate concern.

* Look for WonderCon to lock its film-related programming into place, continue to play its proximity to West Coast cartooning communities in terms of bringing in creators for spotlights, and I suspect try to become a place for early summer mainstream comics announcements starting in 2008. The show seems pretty solidly attended but a little bland, so becoming the first big show of the year should help it fashion an identity.

The Collective Memory for WonderCon 2007 can be found here. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 11:42 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
I Didn’t Know This Was Coming Out

image

Things Just Get Away From You, Walt Holcombe, Fantagraphics, , 216 pages, Hardcover, June 2007, $24.95.
 
posted 11:34 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: John Belushi RIP, +25

image
 
posted 8:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
A Few Words About Nightcrawler

Clifford Meth, who worked on behalf of Dave Cockrum and his family in the years before the Uncanny X-Men artist's death late in 2006, has organized a benefit book that will be released four weeks from Wednesday, The Uncanny Dave Cockrum Hardcover. In support of that book -- to which I contributed an essay -- Meth has announced a contest by which someone out there can win an original sketch by the late Cockrum. To enter, look here, choose a title you like best/think is the coolest, and send your choice via e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

imageI was struck at the moment of Dave Cockrum's death how effective he was during his longer superhero comic runs, which got me thinking about that whole generation of writers and artists as more and more of them hit 60 and points beyond. Things like the newer, re-launched X-Men coming along at such a late date for comics and really hitting with its core audience just as effectively as any of the great comics characters of the 1940s or early 1960s? That doesn't happen by accident. No company wills that to happen. If you look at the works and are honest with yourself you'll find that there are no standby beneficiaries of a corporation's ability to capitalize on a concept. Dave Cockrum's work meant something beyond a nostalgic impulse that developed because it was his name at the bottom of the credits page. His art was handsome and appealing and stylish; it allowed Chris Claremont to count on being able to compress and refold complicated narrative into the main story if he needed to, without losing flow. It was adult and warm and casually romantic. Everyone that followed on the book followed Dave Cockrum, both literally and spiritually, even if they didn't realize it.

Often when comics readers and professionals look at the issues of what's just in comics we complicate matters by demanding that artists and writers show almost superhuman restraint in resisting any and all shorter-term rewards in a game stacked against them. While we should recognize that people sign bad contracts and don't always have to, but we should also recognize that this provides a legal justification for exploitation, not always a moral one. Sometimes you have to look at the end result and see if things are just or not, if executives who supervise the production of toys should get authorship royalties while the character's creators don't, if we're applauding improvements in the bottom line whose rewards aren't going to the people who make the things that drive that improvement. In Dave Cockrum's case, he had to get really sick, and people had to advocate on his part in almost nasty fashion, for him to get what he should have received long before. In the memory of Cockrum as an artist and as a person who was treated unjustly, I hope you'll consider buying that last book when it comes out next month.
 
posted 8:02 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 76th Birthday, Fred!

image
 
posted 8:01 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Student Review of NYCC
Review of Tezuka Exhibit
Huliq.com on Tezuka Show
E-Flux: Comic Abstraction Show
Graphic Humor Show in Havana
Alan Stephens Foster Exhibit Up
WonderCon: More Than Comics
Review of Comic Abstraction Show
Tony Husband Profiles Long Sutton
About.com on Comic Abstraction Show
Aaron McGruder Appearance at University of Pacific

History
Supes Vs. Big Red Cheese
Brussels Likes The Comics
How to Be a Conservative Cartoonist

Industry
A Retailer Goes Shopping
Hervé St-Louis on Caliber's On-Line Model

Interviews/Profiles
The Legend of Corb Lund
Skullring.org: Jeff Zornow
The Australian: Matt Coyle
New Hampshire: Jodi Picoult
Boston Globe: A. David Lewis
Scott Adams Answers the FAQ From His Site

Not Comics
Hello, Peter
Steve Breen Does a Kids' Book
Kids Like Stuff, Hate Other Stuff
Poor People Love Manga, Being Warm
Walter Moseley Inspired by Comic Strips

Publishing
Graphic Novel For Free
Steve Gerber on Dr. Fate
Court TV and DC Comics Team-Up
LA Times Profiles Buffy Season Eight

Reviews
Marty Dodge: Beowulf
Kitty Sensei: Newtype USA
Josh: Six Editorial Cartoons
Geoff Hoppe: Action Comics #846
Michael Vance: Various Doug Marlette Efforts
Derik A Badman: Systeme de la bande dessinee

 

 
If I Were In The Bay Area, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Sunday Magazine

Collective Memory: WonderCon 2007

image

Links to accounts of all types covering the West Coast kick-off to the convention calendar year: WonderCon. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

*****

When In Tucson, Shop at Charlie's

I don't get to comics shops very often, but while this site's server was doing its Joe Frazier in a George Foreman fight impersonation Friday I took a brief trip (about 3.5 hours) to Tucson, Arizona. On my way to a couple of ethnic grocery stores I ran across Charlie's Comic Books in one of the 18 billion strip malls that dominate every intersection across the copper state.

I'm not in any position to say where Charlie's stands in the constellation of the Tucson's comics-buying options. I don't live there. I've visited exactly two comics shops in Tucson. One was in a kind of foreboding, windowless building but turned out to be a solid 1980s-style comic book shop with a quirky back-issues selection and a very watchful clerk. The other wasn't a proper store but a massive half-price books establishment with a semi-large graphic novels section.

imageI liked Charlie's. I bought a handful of new superhero comics for work, and a bunch of back issues from the quarter bins, including a long run of Eddie Campbell's Bacchus serial. I don't know enough about the peculiarities of retail to provide a vigorous review of the store, but Charlie's was arranged in interesting fashion, at least from my perspective. It was airy and high-ceilinged, with a bright color scheme that reminded me of a storefront karate studio or daycare center. There was a ton of moving-around space; the store could easily handle three times the number of comics being sold there now, maybe five times that number if it were as crammed and stuffed as some of the comics shops I've seen. The newer comics, which are almost lost to the casual eye when you first enter the store or look at it from the outside, were arranged in eight to ten bookshelves/racks: a few on the wall immediate to the door, a pair across the room, and three on a back wall. The new works selection was more broad than it was deep, but I was fairly surprised to see as many arts comics (The Ticking) and manga series (Cromartie High School) offerings as I did.

The signature feature of Charlie's was an old-fashioned one: the store's front center portion was filled with tables holding white longboxes that contained older comics for sale. If anything, these were more prominently placed than in most comics shops. There was certainly more room to navigate them. Their white, orderly look contributed to the store's super-clean visual impression. The boxes were immaculately kept, housing both traditional back-issue selections and, it looked like, more recent single issues. Eighty percent of the shops I've visited over the years would be more likely to have kept hundreds of books from those boxes on the new issue stands. My guess is that Charlie's for whatever reason focuses on getting most single issues into the boxes sooner than other shops might. The greatest benefit? Charlie's is the least headache-inducing comics shop I've been to in years, with more wall showing than comic book covers. There was a total of about eight older comics covers displayed, in a small array on the back wall. I really liked this.

Shopping there was pleasant, too. The shop's owner/operator proved to be extremely courteous, explaining to me some things I didn't know about Marvel's DVD-Rom complete-run offerings (whipped together to have a competing process through which to pursue bootlegs and then improved when they surprisingly sold out -- is this true?), regaling me with a Chester Brown story (inking portions of his 1963 work in a Benihana), and looking around without my prompting for a cheaper copy of a book I admired in passing at but noted that in excellent condition it was out of my price range.

I don't want to beat the visit into the ground or anything, and I don't want to make Charlie's sound like a destination shop, because it really isn't in the way we think of comics' destination shops. (Although it's worth noting the owner says a growing part of his business comes from people driving in or mail-ordering from places without a shop.) Still, it's nice to go to a comics store and have a pleasant experience rather than a depressing or bizarre or frustrating one. I'm not a hardcore shop elitist that thinks every store should rival Meltdown, Chicago Comics and The Beguiling. I simply think it's healthiest and am willing to advocate that comics shops be physically appealing, have friendly and solicitous help, offer an array of things for sale that reflect the desire to sell something as opposed to replicating the owner's specific collection desires, and, finally, have something unique to offer a one-time customer. This one had all of those elements, and I look forward to going back the next time I'm in the neighborhood.

*****

Five Link A Go Go

* older interview with Bernie Wrightson part one

* older interview with Bernie Wrightson part two

* older interview with Bernie Wrightson part three

* longish profile of Deepak Chopra's comics efforts in Washington Post

* that Thierry Groensteen US book cover that I couldn't find the other day -- thanks, Dave Knott

*****

Go, Look: Matthew Bernier

image

*****

Go, Look: Ryan Iverson

image

*****

First Thought Of The Day
I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is no building in the world that would not be improved through the addition of a pneumatic tube system.
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 3, 2007


If I Were In The Bay Area, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Austin, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from February 24 to March 2, 2007:

1. Fourth Danish cartoons protester trial underway in London.

2. Funky Winkerbean raises eyebrows and at least one soldier's ire depicting Iraq death that's just a video game, proving adage that editors hate letters of complaint or even potential letters of complaint about comic strips.

3. New York Comic-Con ends with attendance in the 40K range, a high percentage of positive reviews, and a lot of people hauling costumes to the dry cleaners. Let the analysis begin!

Winner Of The Week
New York Comic-Con

Loser Of The Week
Rhie Won-bok

Quote Of The Week
"I feel and look like Kim Jong-il right now." -- Anne Ishii recovers from New York Comic-Con.

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Centaur Publications
 
posted 1:47 am PST | Permalink
 

 
March 2, 2007


If I Were In the Bay Area, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

Only one, but it shouldn't have to wait for a friend: a widely-circulated set of findings unpacks the financial blow to Danish businesses suffered because of a boycott of Denmark business after the newspaper Jyllands-Posten published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed in Fall 2005.
 
posted 5:31 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Free to a Good Home

image

via Flog!
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
T. Campbell: Webcomics v. Wikipedia

T. Campbell digs into the ongoing tussle between various webcartoonists and the contributor-driven on-line encyclopedia wikipedia. At issue is the idea of "non-notability," the standards by which wikipedia editors purge articles in order to better pursue its broader goals. Why would a webcomic with thousands of readers be non-notable? Campbell conducts two interviews which may serve as a introduction to those who haven't been following the stretched-out, multi-front rhetorical battle, and should serve to those who have as a source of important statements from a side less represented.
 
posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Blogger Frightened by Lio Strip

image

That blogger would be me. Turns out Wednesday's installment was a commentary on the idea of legacy strips instead of the demented parade of horrors I saw at first glance. Click through the image for a better look at the cartoon, which is explained here.
 
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Best Jack Kirby Comparison Ever?

Probably not, but it's a pretty good one, and one that hadn't occurred to me. The blogger Gil Roth makes an off-hand comparison here between the late King of Comics and the prolific, exquisite Motown pop-song writing and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. I think Kirby's achievement was greater, more significantly influential within his form, and of course extended in both directions past the 1960s -- but there are similarities. HDH were at their most prodigious at that cultural moment when Kirby enjoyed his amazing run at Marvel Comics; they both provided the '60s with excellent, consistent outpourings of pop culture that have stood the test of time, they both worked within very specialized commercial restrictions; they both helped re-define through the excellence of their results what that commercial output could be like.

Plus if you extend the comparison I'm pretty sure this makes Martin Goodman Berry Gordy and Stan Lee Diana Ross, which is highly amusing.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Mark Evanier!

image
 
posted 2:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday’s Drake and Sinnott Updates

From Ken Gale, again:
Another update on Arnold Drake's condition. Not much to report. He's asleep most of the day, is hooked up to a lot of machines and anti-biotics and sedatives. The edema is down a little and the doctor said today (Friday) that he showed a slight improvement. I think he was emphasizing "slight" over "improvement." We did find out that he went to the convention this past Sunday as well as on Saturday and left early on Sunday because he didn't feel well. I should also add that a card from Paul Levitz and flowers from Dark Horse were on a table near his bed. I suspect he's not seen them yet.

Please keep me informed as to blogs and chat rooms, etc. where Arnold is being discussed and where these updates are being posted. I'll pass the URLs along to the family.

Arnold has been writing comics since the late '40s. He's written humor and adventure for all age groups from Batman to Jerry Lewis, from X-Men to Little Lulu. He is the creator of Stanley and His Monster, Deadman, Doom Patrol and Beast Boy. He also wrote what is probably the first American graphic novel; "It Rhymes with Lust" was published in 1950 with art by Matt Baker and is due to be re-released by Dark Horse in a few weeks (March, 2007).

Send cards, letters and art to Arnold Drake, Cabrini Medical Center, 227 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003. The staff is very nice and assured me that he will get them.

Please spread the word! Thanks!

Mark Evanier had an update on Drake and veteran inker Joe Sinnott as well.

If these updates continue, barring drastic change I will at some point likely move them over to the letters section with a notice here in the news section rather than full blockquote postings -- so keep an eye out.
 
posted 2:01 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Jeff Danziger
Go See Art Spiegelman
Go See Garry Trudeau (In May)
Go See Bryan Talbot at Forbidden Planet

Industry
Your 2007 Assies
Filipino Comics Pioneers Honored
Korean Comics for Adults in Slump?

Interviews/Profiles
Comic Book Boy at NYCC
Columbus Alive: Jeff Smith
Exclaim!: Brian K. Vaughan

Not Comics
Daryl Cagle on Wannabe Cartoonists
Casting Second-Tier Superhero Movies
Cartoonist Returns to School With Mural
Copenhagen Alt-Culture House Vacated by Police

Publishing
One Bad Rat: Fourth Printing
Fantagraphics Seeks Missing Peanuts Strip
Wendy Pini to Do Masque of the Red Death

Reviews
Andrew Austin: Various
Jason Mott: Civil War #7
Gavin Ford: Mouse Guard
Don MacPherson: My Dead Girlfriend Vol. 1
 

 
March 1, 2007


Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Joe Gordon at Forbidden Planet unearths the fact that those at Cambridge's Clare College involved with reprinting one of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in a satirical magazine issue were questioned by police. A file has been passed along which may result in prosecution. I agree with Gordon that this seems extremely heavy-handed.

* I Am More Beautiful Than Joseph

* I'm not hearing anything new about the trial of Abdul Mahid, the fourth protester of the Danish cartoons to be prosecuted in London courts. I shudder to think that it's because the press is now inured to such events. We could see a decision today or tomorrow, if I'm judging it right.
 
posted 3:34 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Lagardere Acquires PIKA Edition

image

According to the company's press release, the international media conglomerate Lagardere has acquired the French manga publisher PIKA. Lagardere owns Hachette Livre which owns/runs Hachette Book Group USA; that company recently made the news for announcing its first slate of books through comics imprint Yen Press.

While Yen Press could conceivably benefit from access to a new unclaimed license or two, shared production costs, and one would suppose the ability to negotiate for future media properties from an advantageous position because it can offer re-publication in the North American and French-language markets, the thought that this would represent a flood of new properties for Yen should be quickly discounted. The reason that PIKA is the number three publisher of such material in the French-language market is because they have properties you've heard of, like Chobits which of course means they are already spoken for in the English-language market.

PIKA was founded in 2000 by a man and his hat.
 
posted 3:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 83rd Birthday, Arnold Drake!

image

Update on Mr. Drake's condition from an e-mail by Ken Gale:
An update on Arnold Drake's condition. I went to Cabrini Hospital today and also spoke with his daughter. His doctor said, "His heart enzymes tell us that he had a heart attack recently." The "touch of pneumonia" I mentioned in my last e-mail is actually -- or also -- a blood infection called Septicemia. He's getting a plasma transfer and a lot of anti-biotics and sedatives. He was unconscious the whole time we were there, which was several hours. He has edema and was moving his foot a lot, for what that's worth.

He was having trouble functioning on Monday and his neighbor, Mr. Hennessy, brought him to the hospital the next day. He is still in intensive care as of today (February 28) and will probably be there for a while yet. March 1st is his 83rd birthday.

Arnold has been writing comics since the late '40s. He's written humor and adventure for all age groups from Batman to Jerry Lewis, from X-Men to Little Lulu. He is the creator of Stanley and His Monster, Deadman, Doom Patrol and Beast Boy. He also wrote what is probably the first American graphic novel; It Rhymes with Lust was published in 1950 with art by Matt Baker and is due to be re-released by Dark Horse in a few weeks (March, 2007).

Send cards, letters and art to Arnold Drake, Cabrini Medical Center, 227 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003. The staff is very nice and assured me that he will get them.

In related news, apparently longtime Marvel inker Joe Sinnott has also recently suffered a health setback.
 
posted 2:49 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Last Few Notes on NYCC 2007

While I'm still collecting links of all types here, I wanted to draw attention to a few blog entries on last weekend's New York Comic-Con, from two cartoonists and a long-time industry veteran that I think bring interesting perspectives. I also have thought about the show's future.

image* Jeff Smith, one of the show's top-tier guests and an advertiser here, posts his first con write-up. What's most compelling to me about what Jeff says concerns his DC Comics signing in support of Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil. First, it's vaguely depressing that DC folks would be surprised by kids' interest in the book considering Bone's success at Scholastic in a version targeted to younger readers and the fact that despite 20 years of editorial efforts to the contrary the Captain Marvel character and basic concept remains highly appealing. Second, one has to remember that conventions have long had a traditional role as market correctives -- by which I mean someone might go to a con for something they're not getting through regular outlets -- so there's no guarantee that these kids' interest will be mirrored in North American comics shops. This is one of those areas DC can't depend on Diamond-generated data to back-up or disprove what they saw.

* Mike Gold has it right, by the way: while the convention was hit with a lot of criticism for shortcomings in administration this year and last (more last year than this to be sure), a more basic way to look at any problems is to question if the convention is simply overbooked and overprogrammed. When a comics show sells out, and people on the premises are crowded to the point of discomfort at times, it may have been less of a good thing that effort was expended and space afforded to get every Jedi Knight through the doors and every genre series novelization writer a place to sign.

image* Evan Dorkin attended and sort of liked it, which I take note of because Dorkin's been around a long, long time, has attended a lot of shows, and has in the past demonstrated a low tolerance for public appearances that are a waste of his time. If he's happy as a local professional to attend the event, I'd say that's a vote of confidence in terms of the show settling in for years to come. Dean Haspiel seems to agree.

* Gold's entry deserves notice because it suggests a principle in play that won't necessarily be corrected by adding more space, as the con plans for 2008. A bigger issue for the show's growth? Cost. An obvious area of growth in forthcoming years are those companies and groups not in the New York area. Some companies not on the East Coast simply couldn't afford to risk exhibiting without knowing if the show would be successful. Now that it's clear that it is, it may not matter because of overall cost. Beyond air travel and lodging, I'm also hearing that table costs will go up. The big factor, though, is shipping to the Javits Center -- I hear that it's a mid-four figure fee for the first thousand pounds. Any company that comes from out of town will have a hard time hand-carrying enough material for a decent table set-up, which activates the shipping cost, which may be enough to keep some of them home. We'll see.

art of kids signing and a monster drawing from Jeff Smith's and Evan Dorkin's blogs, respectively
 
posted 2:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
E&P Speculation on 2007 Pulitzer Prize

Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist discusses this year's round of discussions about potential Pulitzer short-listers and winners at Editor & Publisher, noting that Garry Trudeau will once again be a candidate, and that Steve Sack or Mike Thompson may be due.
 
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Joyce Brabner!

image
 
posted 2:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
24 Hour Comics Day: ‘07 Date, No Book

The comics event 24 Hour Comics Day, where cartoonists of various types gather in places across the world and participate in cartoonist Scott McCloud's exercise of 24 pages of comics in one 24-hour period, has announced its 2007 date: October 20. I believe this will be the second year of the event in the Fall. The announcement came with news that barring a white knight there will be no anthology of the day's best comics to follow.
 
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: The Best Our Gang Cast Was Clearly The 1929 Our Gang Cast

image

I got sick of waiting for someone to ask me.
 
posted 2:04 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Best Synapse Firing of the Day

The writer Warren Ellis: will a New York City ban on the World's Most Famous Racial Epithet have an effect, however small, on DC's Vertigo comics line and its convention-pushing, occasionally rough-language titles?
 
posted 2:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Visit to Masters Exhibit Concluded
Go Visit Mark Evanier at WonderCon
Preview of Pekar's Appearance at OSU

History
OSU Holdings Profiled
Happy Birthday, Tokyopop
Captain America Fails Crucial Nascar, MySpace Test

Industry
Philip Mak, RIP
Ron Marz Joins Virgin
Teenager Snags Book Deal
Rick Olney Shenanigans Update
AAEC Accepts Donations For Fund Matching
Some Sort of Terrifying Ad New Yorker Thing

Interviews/Profiles
Comics, Covered: David Hahn

Not Comics
Best Headline of 2007
Brannigan Loves to Draw
Kids Love Cartoon Instruction
Editorial: DoonesburyPerpetuates Myth
Mark Millar: Everyone Please Look at Me

Publishing
Official XIII Blog
New Episode of Flytrap
New Del Rey Manga Titles
Excitement About Marvel's Halo Plans

Reviews
Jog: Golgo 13, 52
Jason Mott: Superman #659
Jog: The Brave and the Bold #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Kedamono Damono Vol. 1
Stuart Immonen Looks at Golf Instructional Booklet
 

 
Daily Blog Archives
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
 
Full Archives