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











June 30, 2008


HeroesCon 2008: New Artcomics Panel With Harkham, Buenaventura, Nadel

What follows is some raw video footage taken at HeroesCon 2008, as I've been able to seize it from my cheap camera with the audio intact. I believe this is the full New Art Comics panel, from Saturday afternoon. The panelists are Alvin Buenaventura, Sammy Harkham and Dan Nadel.

They're chopped in very rough, (hopefully) overlapping fashion; I apologize for that, but given the tools on hand it's all I'm able to do.

One thing that's interesting about the following discussion is that while some of the time is given over to talking about retailers, this panel is different than most in that two of the panelists (Harkham, Nadel) operate retail establishments themselves.

















video collected by Whit Spurgeon
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Michael Turner, 1971-2008

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By Tom Spurgeon

Michael Turner, a superstar comic book artist from Image Comics' second 1990s wave, a significant small-house studio head and publisher during this decade and a figure emblematic of a certain glossy, stylized approach to comic book art made popular over the last 15 years, died in Santa Monica on June 27 after a long fight with cancer. His passing was announced through a statement on the message board of his publishing company, Aspen MLT, Inc.

Turner was born in Crossville, Tennessee in 1971. He was one of several young artists to break into comics during the rush of new publications and attendant opportunities made possible by the early success of Image Comics. A relative lifetime latecomer to comic books reportedly without an involved history of reading them as a child, his initial assignments were working for Marc Silvestri's Top Cow, first on backgrounds, later on the breakout hit Witchblade. Silvestri discovered Turner's work at a comics convention.

Turner soon developed the style for which he would become famous within his chosen field, a more elegant variation on the exaggerations of form and simplicity of presentation by which Image and its related studios plied their trade. Sean T. Collins, who edited a 2005 book on the artist called Wizard Millennium Edition: Michael Turner, told CR that Turner's work represented a significant break with previous art from the same camp. "Unlike the work of the Image founders and most of their heirs and proteges, Turner's stuff lacked that sense of macho anger in every pose, the gritted teeth and gun-toting, testosterone-soaked fury of Rob Liefeld or Todd McFarlane or early Jim Lee or even Turner's most direct influence and former mentor, Marc Silvestri. You could call Mike's work ethereal, while you'd never get away with that description for any of those other guys."

imageCollins acknowledges Turner's was a style that had its vocal detractors, almost from the start. "Yes, he played the same exaggeration game with male and female anatomy that [the Image founders] did, but there was usually a serenity to his pin-ups and covers," Collins argues. "The characters stood, or frequently floated, arms to their sides, long hands and fingers pointing down and diffusing the energy. They looked like swimmers, a frequent reference point. Also, his line and vaguely nouveau-y design sense occasionally suggested shoujo manga, though I know that was not a direct influence on it."

In 1998, Turner debuted his own title Fathom, an undersea adventure that seized enough of a market presence to become one of the creator's signature works, a not-inconsiderable accomplishment as it launched at the dawn of comics' dark, turn-of-millennium sales nadir. In 2002, Turner left Top Cow to start his own company, Aspen MLT, Inc., partly named after himself. Their studios would reportedly be located in the general Santa Monica/Marina Del Rey area. The company's launch was delayed by litigation related to Fathom and other titles that Turner had either initially developed or published at Top Cow. The suit was settled in 2003, the same year Aspen's first title was launched. Soulfire launched in 2004; Fathom re-launched in 2005. The company would during its founder's lifetime publish about a half-dozen series and multiple issues under each of those titles.

Those new accomplishments saw the light of day at the same time the artist had settled into a long struggle with cancer, which entered the artist's life when he was in his late twenties. In March 2000, Turner received his initial diagnoses of chondrosarcoma in his right pelvis, leading to a debilitating surgery and long recovery. Although his attitude towards the illness had what many considered an almost heroic element to it in terms of the matter-of-fact way that Turner fought against the health effects, it couldn't help but have an impact on the course of the illustrator-turned-publisher's career. In one June 2007 interview, he admits that he hadn't thought about how to design Wolverine for an upcoming comic book because of having just spent 10 months in chemotherapy. Unable to sit and draw for long periods of time, Turner stockpiled work when he could. It was rumored that when possible he would even make art lying on his back. Turner's illness certainly limited his ability to attend conventions, which he reportedly loved to do and where his behavior was lauded as a model of gratitude, artist to fan.

The cancer may have had the greatest impact on ambitious plans at his own company. "Mike's recurring health problems kept on throwing curveballs at Aspen's ability to produce his comics on a consistent basis," says Collins. "When I was working on that book about him, I realized how little he talked about his illness in public, and how his stiff-upper-lip reluctance to talk about it and thereby be pitied prevented a lot of comics buyers from ever even knowing that his frequent lateness had really the most legitimate excuse imaginable." Collins describes Turner's plans for his comics in terms of their being self-contained epic fantasies more along the lines of "Star Wars than [Marvel's continuity-heavy] Secret Wars." Collins also notes that Turner mentored a number of young artists at Aspen such as Christina Strain and Koi Turnbull, noting that the publisher insisted those artists receive profiles in the Wizard book bearing his name.

imageIn the last several years, Turner became perhaps better known for his popular covers and occasional interior artwork for mainstream comics companies than for work on his own books. He contributed covers and some interior art to titles such as the Flash, Identity Crisis, Superman/Batman, Justice League of America and Superman at DC, meaning he was a driving force behind many of their major hits in that period just past. At Marvel, starting in 2005, Turner provided covers for the Civil War mini-series and Wolverine: Origins. He had been announced as interior artist on Ultimate Wolverine.

Collins told CR that Turner was ideally qualified to become the most identifiable comic book cover artist of the current decade. "That same muscular serenity he used for more uplifting, 'wow cool' covers could be flipped pretty readily to reflect the tone of mourning and guilt that became the calling card of major superhero-company event comics like Identity Crisis and Civil War. In other words, he could do flyin' or cryin'. Also, I think his strongest covers were the simplest -- one centered figure, doing something iconic -- and since this is an era where virtually every Marvel and DC character this side of Squirrel Girl and G'nort are referred to as 'icons', that approach delivered exactly what both the companies and the consumers wanted to see."

The artist would continue to fight with cancer before passing away in Santa Monica on Friday, apparently surrounded by friends and family. In one of its write-ups on Turner's passing, the comics news site Newsarama suggested that the last round of complications could perhaps be traced to a February 2008 operation and its after-effects. Aspen officials left the company's booth at Wizard World: Chicago to be with their friend and employer when Turner's health took a turn for the worse Thursday evening; the company's spotlight panel was canceled, and various at-the-show tributes including a con-wide moment Saturday were observed.

Aspen has asked that condolence notices for the family be sent to their care: Aspen MLT, Inc, c/o Michael Turner, 5855 Green Valley Circle, Suite 111, Culver City, CA 90230. Donations may be sent to Turner's designated charities, The American Cancer Society or The Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Michael Turner was 37 years old.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Things Cleaned Out From My Desk

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Jim Scancarelli's giveaway at HeroesCon 2008.

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Incidental spot art gift from Evan Dorkin.

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Dave Sim at age 26.

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HeroesCon 2008 badge -- I am so totally Iron Man.

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F. Solano Lopez sketch given to me by a co-worker on her way out the door.

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Part of a Black Eye advertisement.

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Dan Wright drawing from editorial that resulted when Eric Reynolds and I snuck into a Marvel retailer meeting as "employees" of Fallout Records, showing off my mastery of subtle dialogue writing. Are we Marvelutionized now?

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posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
24 Days Until Comic-Con International

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Site Strategy: Your Input Is Requested

I'm thinking about giving up the formal link-blogging portion of this site. I mean all of it. Would anyone care? I think my position may be uniquely problematic in that I tend to severely dislike selective link-blogging because I think it suggests that all the material is read before certain links are selected, plus when I'm reading sites I like to sort through links on my own, which is why I developed reading habits that allow me to link-blog. So I can't see going back to providing five or six links. I'd probably just dump them altogether.

My problem is I'm not sure there's any way to keep up with the dozens upon dozens of links that come through the transom every day now, even the kind of rough snapshot I've been doing, in a way that matches the value such links provide. Link-blogging takes very little time -- don't believe anyone that tells you it's difficult -- but that time can be dreary. In addition, there's so much mediocre to bad writing about comics out there that I'm not sure I'm doing anyone a favor by linking to so much of it. Also, don't people find the reliably good stuff on their own by now? I mean, at this point, does anyone need me to tell them about Jog? Is anyone so inclined really not going to Comics Comics except when I link to them? Plus, I find extremely distasteful the e-mail I get from people when I choose not to link to them for a few days -- usually for space reasons -- basically demanding "Where are my links?", a feeling compounded by ten when this complaint is made in public. I also suspect that what used to be 300 or even 1000 people following a basic text link (learned back in the days of caring about this site's traffic) is down to something like five to ten people following some of the links (learned by receiving sarcastic letters of thank you from people for whom I've apparently not done enough work).

So I'm confused. I'm so confused that I'm talking about it in public, which I never do. It isn't one of those things of "I'll write original content or I'll link-blog"; it's more a question that I feel that link-blogging is becoming less and less valuable, more a way for people to fake content than provide a service. What do you think? If you have an opinion on this, or an idea as to how to approach link-blogging right now (or a model for how someone else is doing it, maybe in another field) .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dan Wright Resume Blog

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Go, Read: Bob Johnson’s Adventures

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Go, Look: Meeting McCay

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Missed It: Afrodisiac Vs. Dracula

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OTBP: Who Can Save Us Now?

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posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* people are scalping Comic-Con International badges now. Also, Mark Evanier was I believe the first comics person to notice that San Diego's Kansas City Barbecue -- a longtime cheap eats and meets place that I never mentioned on my Con guide out of deference to older pros I know that loved that place like a local bar -- got all burned up.

image* Mark Heath began his last week on Spot the Frog yesterday with his final Sunday. It's been a charming strip, and I firmly believe if that business operated in ideal fashion, Spot would have had a much longer life than its still-impressive five years or so. I urge you to check it out before it's all the way gone.

* from Sequential comes word that Gareth Lind has already ended Weltschmerz after an almost 15-year run.

* goofy mainstream comics crossovers are hard enough to endure on their own; the growing tendency of reviews (like this one) to imply or outright declare that people that don't like these comics simply don't get them or are reading them in the wrong state of mind or are just stupidheads may drive me insane.

* this is a fine interview by Gary Tyrrell about R Stevens' decision to end the newspaper syndication iteration of Diesel Sweeties. Here's what I found curious, though. I thought the minimum syndication deal paid $26,000 a year. Is that not true, or is Stevens making over $200K on the Internet? Either answer would be fascinating.

* Don MacPherson suggests that mainstream comics companies aren't doing themselves any favors by clamping down on the flow of information.

* finally, I'm glad that creator DJ Coffman got paid for the work he did for Platinum. However, the issue brought to bear by his not being paid was never about the check arriving or not arriving, at least not outside the Coffman household. For the rest of us, it was about the abusive relationship in which that creator willingly placed himself, the fact that he had to depend on Platinum coming around, and why this is bad. That Platinum would shaft one of its most loyal public supporters for any length of time says far more about the way in which such companies conduct themselves than Platinum eventually living up to its side of the deal.

As I've said a million times, I'm sympathetic to creators that sign bad contracts. I've signed bad contracts. However, the lengths to which some people will go in order to justify such moves depresses me to the extreme. To begin with, even tacitly comparing one's dreams of becoming a minor-league screenwriter or penning a Killraven revival to the struggles of Depression-era craftsmen to feed their families should result in your being automatically launched into the sun. More importantly, the "realism" stance suggests values of entitlement and self-gratification over all other values, it propagates self-hatred among creators by suggesting that making money for what one does is a reward against which systemic penalties can be applied instead of simply receiving what you've earned, and the history of comics just isn't on the side of people using bad contracts as a career builder. Combined with a recent spate of actual grown-up people declaring with a straight face that such matters are no one's concern but the screwer and the screwee, and it's clear that there will always be a welcome place in comics for exploitative business practices.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Shawn McManus!

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Christopher Priest!

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Quick hits
Craft
Cover Mania
Train Drawings
Working Late Night
Good Jaime Hernandez Page
The Incredibly Cheap-Ass Hulk
Take Classes With David Lasky 01
Take Classes With David Lasky 02
Using Photos and Blue Wash Blacks

Exhibits/Events
AAEC Con Report
Obit Cartoons Panel at AAEC
Hiro Mashima's CCI Schedule
Wrong on Iraq Pundits at AAEC
Busy Summer For Matt and Jessica

History
Meeting Steve Ditko
Davy Crockett Cover
I've Lost Track Which List This Is

Industry
General Graphic Novel Profile
Hate Mail Has Recurring Themes

Interviews/Profiles
The Janice Forsyth Show: Mike Dawson

Not Comics
Patrick McDonnell Loves Animals

Publishing
New Leon Tapes
RASL #2 Preview
Immonens Combine Domains
Imaginova's Newsarama Press Release

Reviews
AV Panel: Various
Amy Lopp: Hellblazer
Paul O'Brien: Various
ADD: Trains Are... Mint
Professor Fury: Various
Jog: The Programme #12
A Comic Book Of The Mind
Paul O'Brien: X-Factor #32
Jaffa Aharanov: La Perdida
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Paul O'Brien: Wolverine #66
Brendan Wright: High Society
Richard Bruton's Hidden Faves
Matthew Brady: Billy Hazelnuts
Sean T. Collins: Worn Tuff Elbow
Jessie Bi: 73304-23-4153-6-96-8
Timothy Callahan: Final Crisis #2
Paul O'Brien: Ultimate X-Men #95
Katie McNeill: Hellgate: London Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Superior Showcase #3
Benjamin Birdie: Hellboy: Darkness Calls
Greg McElhatton: Wonder Woman #20-21
 

 
June 29, 2008


CR Sunday Interview: Lynda Barry

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*****

imageA lot of people were surprised when the great Lynda Barry signed a publishing deal with Drawn & Quarterly. They would have been fairly astonished to learn that Barry wasn't moving from one kind of a deal to another; she says she didn't have a publishing deal of any kind before Chris Oliveros' alt-comics anchor company stepped in. One of the great veterans of alt-weekly publication with her Ernie Pook's Comeek, now seen by most people on-line, Barry slipped back into comics culture's consciousness this last decade with some audacious book work and as an item of discussion when it came to suggesting female cartoonists that might have cracked a reasonable but re-curated Masters of American Comics exhibit. Her new book, What It Is, is the most consistently lovely-looking thing she's ever made, and its dissection of the creative process reads, well, a lot like a comics version of this interview, if only in tone. I greatly enjoyed our back and forth. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: The announcement that you were working with Drawn & Quarterly took a lot of people by surprise, because the trend's been overwhelmingly in the direction of artists moving from comics specialty publishers to more general book publishers. Can you talk a little bit about how that deal came together and what appealed to you about working with that particular publisher?

LYNDA BARRY: Well, in my situation, until Drawn & Quarterly came along, I couldn't find a publisher who was interested in my work at all. There was no one.

I'd been working with a small publisher in Seattle called Sasquatch, but after One Hundred Demons, they didn't want any other books from me.

I'd always planned to do a sister book to One Hundred Demons that was about the writing process, and always intended to do it with them. When I pitched it to them, they said no, and no to any other books of comics. The End. That was it.

I never understood why, exactly, because I think One Hundred Demons did OK for them, sales-wise, and I believe my other books have done fine too. So it made me feel pretty bad.

The same thing happened with Cruddy. After it was printed, Simon & Schuster wasn't interested in another novel from me. But in that situation my original editor left and I didn't know anyone else there, and it was a little bit more understandable.

So really, there was a long period where no one wanted to print my work at all. When Drawn & Quarterly asked me, I was overjoyed, because I love making books, and I really wanted to do What it Is, and I was happy someone cared about my work enough to want to print it. And I've always loved the Drawn & Quarterly books, they are so beautifully done. It happened that I was half way done with What It Is when D&Q contacted me. I had just decided to do the book anyway, not knowing if it would ever be published and in a way not caring anymore. I just wanted to give the thing form.

I suspect it was Chris Ware who may have spoken to D&Q about me. I think he contacted some people and helped me out. He's been good to me and I suspect many other cartoonists in this way. I love him for it. I thought the publishing side of my career was pretty much over.

I was at a pretty low point because I was also getting kicked out of news papers left and right, I've gone from being in over 70 papers to being in 7 papers. I was scrambling to find a way to keep working. My solution was to start selling original art on eBay. I just said, 'to hell with it!' and opened a version of my own hotdog stand on eBay and started selling pictures and it's one of the best decisions I've made because I can still support myself, though it's still a struggle.

The other way I was able to make some money was by teaching writing workshops, and it was teaching that really helped shape What It Is. It turns out I love to make pictures and I love to teach, so even if I couldn't get published or keep my comic strip going in newspapers I found a way to keep going.

By the way, working with D&Q has been by far the best publishing experience I've ever had. I feel like a won a prize.

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SPURGEON: I don't want to spend a lot of time on what sounds like a horrifying experience, but there's very little known about the alt-weekly and weekly newspaper comics market. What do you think happened that you lost so many clients as you just mentioned? Was it a matter of you specifically losing clients, or was it your being replaced by a certain type of feature, was it those papers dropping comics...? Were you hearing from the art directors as to why? For that matter, when did you start to notice the decline and how quickly did it happen?

BARRY: When I was first out of college in 1978 when hippie traces were still in the air, and "underground" newspapers were becoming "alternative" newspapers, and the same thing happened to comics. Little papers were springing up in different cities and there were easy open ways for cartoonists to get their work printed as long as money was not an issue. They were called "New Wave" comics for awhile too but then went back to "alternative."

So after college I moved back to Seattle and I just happened to live a couple of blocks from the Seattle Sun, which was our city's alternative paper, and I brought my weird-ass comic strip in to them.

The woman I showed it to hated it so much she actually started yelling at me. She said my comics were racist against Mexicans. I remember being stunned and looking at her and thinking, "What the fuck are you talking about, sister?"

The strips I brought in were about women and cactuses. The strips were about women in bars meeting cute interesting cactuses and trying to decide if they should sleep with them or not. If there was a way to make it work. They were called Spinal Comics. I had just gone through a bad break up and guys seemed like cactuses to me, so I drew cactuses. I could not see where she was getting the Mexican angle at all.

But I'm sitting there she is certain they are Mexicans and so she is giving it to me loud enough to attract the attention of a guy who is sitting at another desk who it turns out hated her. Really hated her.

He follows me out as I'm leaving and tells me he'll print my comics. Turns out he ran the back page of the paper and printed my strip there just to piss her off. And thus my career came into being.

I think I got $5 a comic strip. I wish I could tell you the pay is much better these days. One of the papers I got kicked out in the last few years was in Philadelphia. I was in that paper for over 15 years. I got $15 a week and that never changed.

At the same time my strip was printed in the Seattle Sun, Matt Groening, who was a friend and the former editor of our college paper where my strips were first printed, moved to LA, got a job in a copy shop, and started a little comic book called Life in Hell which he sneak-Xeroxed. It was about his experiences living LA and drawn mostly to just send around in letters. I remember the first one had all these police helicopters on the cover and that blew my mind, to think a friend of mine was living where police helicopters chasing people woke him up at night. We wrote a lot of letters in those days when long distance calls were impossibly expensive.

He got a job at the LA Reader, another alternative paper, and he wrote the most incredible column on music. I still have hopes that those pieces will be re-printed someday. They were hilarious and brilliant. He wrote about my comic strip in one of them. My comic strip had gone from being about cactus to being about kids, and he wrote about it and because a network of alternative newspapers was forming, the article reached Bob Roth at the Chicago Reader who called me in Seattle and asked me to be part of his paper. That was nearly 30 years ago. They paid $80 a week for a comic strip. That was unheard of. I could live off of that!! I'd like to add that I'm still getting $80 a week and I still am grateful for it. Once my strip was in the Chicago Reader, other papers saw it and contacted me. I wish they could have paid $80 too, but mostly it was $15 and $20 a week and in very lucky circumstances $25 or $30 a week. This is still the standard rate of pay. At least it was for me.

Matt's strip began to run in the LA Reader and he lobbied for my strip to be printed there too, and it was. He has always been a genie for me, that guy.

Part of what has happened to alternative newspapers is that they have been either been purchased by a bigger company like The Village Voice, New Times, or Creative Loafing which just purchased the Chicago Reader, or they have been run out of business by a larger competitor with non-local backing. One of the first things that happens is that the cartoonists are kicked out. Not all cartoonists, but my comic is often axed the minute the sale is complete. And I can understand why. The paper's aren't as alternative or freaky as they once were, and having a comic strip in the paper that is often weird and sad just leaves editors with question marks over their heads. There was a time when it wasn't that strange, but now it is strange to have that kind of strip in a paper.

I can dig the situation! I get it. I'm not torn up about it at all. And I'm happy that D&Q runs my weekly strip and the strip is also on a myspace page run by a friend of mine who helps me organize my writing workshops, and they are posted at the great Marlys Magazine website out of Australia, so the strip lives on. It's just that now I have to support it instead of it supporting me, but I'm good with it. I know how lucky I was to have so many years of being in print. So much of it was pure luck.

Just the same, every time I get the dreaded e-mail from a paper I've been in for 25 years I'm always sad. For the most part it's because a paper has been sold. But it could also be because my strip just really sucks now and I just can't tell.

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SPURGEON: Let me ask you about that. You've been doing the strip for so long, do you have any conception at all on the quality of your work over that time period and particularly any fluctuations in that quality? Is there a period you're happier with than others, or strips that you like more than perhaps you think your readers might? Are you really too close to tell which work might be of a greater quality than other work even when some time passes since your creation of the work in question? If so, is that a matter of being too close or choosing not to look at the work in that way?

BARRY: I try really hard not to think about my comic strip unless I'm doing it. I try hard not to know what people think about it, if they like it or hate it, because it throws me off whatever the thing is that helps me make the strip.

There is a specific feeling, a state of mind that happens when the strip starts to roll. I did one this morning and I could feel the thing just start to move the way a dream has its own movement. I had no idea what the strip was going to be about, or where it was going at all, but if I get into that state of mind I don't have to worry about it, really.

The strip I did today was a continuation of last week's strip. I didn't know it was going to be that when I started. All I do is I start measuring and drawing the panels, I start to ink the panel edges -- today with a pen, though I usually use a brush; more on that later -- and as I'm inking the panels I usually hear a line in my head. It is different than thinking. It's like I actually hear it spoken. It's not magic, not any more magical than when we hear people in our dreams speak to us. I had people yelling at me in my dream last night. They were really yelling and I was really upset by it, I woke up and I was shaking, but I never thought the people in my dream were real. They caused real sensations in my body, but they weren't real in the way you and I are real.

When I work on a comic strip, and I hear the first line, it's that kind of realness, the realness that causes physical sensation.

One of the reasons I make comic strips is to be able to experience that. I believe it's the same thing that happens to kids when they are in deep play. There is an "elsewhere" I get to be when I work.

I've attached the two strips. They were written with no penciling, pre-meditation or corrections apart from one letter I had to white out in the first strip. Are they any good? Well I don't know the answer to that at all. But while I was writing them I had the state of mind I aim toward, and it's a state of mind that seems to have an urge to make a story. I think it's a basic human ability. It's the thing I work toward helping people get to when I teach my writing class. I've found that anyone can do it. Anyone.

The only thing about it is you have to be willing to accept the story that comes, sad or funny, soothing or upsetting. That's the one law I have to follow when I work. I do think it means I have no ability to assess the quality of the work or what it means to others, except when that state of mind won't come. Because sometimes it won't come at all. And there have been times that it has happened for months at a time and I've been convinced I'll have to give up the strip. It comes back. Then it leaves again. And I think this is the way of things in the image world. Flannery O'Conner said that it was as crazy to think your faith will always be with you as it is to think your loss of faith will always be with you.

Right now I'm organizing 30 years worth of comic strips for the D&Q reprints and whenever I find those strips which were written with the thinking part of my head rather than that odd image making place in my mind, those are the ones I want to throw away.

My drawing is another thing, though. When I'm in a bad state of mind, like I am now because our home is threatened, my drawing really suffers and I find it hard to control a paintbrush. Thus the pen work these last weeks. I don't have the steadiness to support brush work right now. In the evenings I try to work on it by drawing monkeys in meditation. I attach some of these below. I've drawn a couple thousand of them, and I suppose it's the closest thing in my life to prayer besides when I write or say the alphabet.

I started drawing the monkeys after a friend of mine died and I was so devastated I really couldn't do a thing. Then I found I could paint monkeys. I thought I would paint 100 of them to just help me calm down, but when I got to 100 I found it wasn't enough. That was three years ago. The other night when I couldn't sleep I painted 25 of them in a row. So I lean on my work and I know without it I'm lost, and this is the reason I do my best to keep myself from knowing too much about what people think about it. I need it too badly to put it at risk and wondering what other people think puts it at risk.

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SPURGEON: This takes into some of the issues raised in your book, then. Can I assume when you say there are strips that don't have the quality you seek that you've dropped from forthcoming collection that there was a process for you in realizing what things you valued about your work? Is it possible that process is ongoing, and that if you were to collect material 10 years from now there are different strips in which you might not be interested because of qualities they did or didn't have that's not a concern right now, or do you feel you're arrived at a set of value regarding the making of art that you'll carry with you from now on?

BARRY: I'm not going to drop anything from the collection that's been printed already. There are strips I want to toss, certainly! But if it's been collected already or printed all ready, I'll include it.

SPURGEON: To re-direct the question a bit, I'm wondering about the effect that this exploration of the creative process has had on your own creativity. Unlike a lot of creative people who explore these areas, you have an ongoing gig. Is there anything different in your work now having undergone this process of self-discovery? Are there differences in the work itself, or your attitude towards it, or maybe simply hitting a certain kind of mark more frequently? Or this is the kind of thing whose effects can't be constructed in that manner?

BARRY: I didn't realize until you asked this question that my approach to making images about the creative process is exactly like my approach to making a comic strip or writing a novel. It's not something I separated from myself in the way I may separate myself from a subject I am researching and writing a paper on.

If my subject for a book had been "sleep," I probably would have done it the same way, by just sitting down and making images about sleep, and because of this activity, anytime the word "sleep" came up in my day via media or conversation or even research, it would stand out in a way that would make me take notice and automatically be knitted into the fabric of whatever it is that helps me make my images. The word "sleep" would have me follow it whenever it came up. This is different than me hunting it down with a purpose in mind.

It's the exact opposite of thinking of something first, then researching it, then writing it. While making What It Is, it seemed that the actual physical act of cutting things out and gluing them down, or of using my paintbrush -- that actual physical act was the thing that generated the content. The pages I made never felt like an illustration of an idea, but rather an unplanned result of the experience of an idea.

So if anything of making What It Is has affected my creative process it is the rediscovery of what I knew as a kid: It's the physical activity of making something which leads to its meaning and purpose, and not the other way around.

As to hitting the mark more often with my work, I don't know if I'm any better at it from an objective point of view. Subjectively I can say I enjoy it more than I ever have. Part of that is due to working for the most part in isolation and part of it is from teaching. My students inspire me to be as brave and spontaneous as they are. In my classes no one is allowed to say a word about any of the work we read out loud, and I ask my students not to read over anything they have written for at least 48 hours. Not having a real idea of what other people think of me or my work and not having a real idea of what I even think about my work has been a big advantage. It allows things to happen that wouldn't otherwise have a chance to exist long enough to become an experience.

In this way work becomes more of a practice than a means of production.

SPURGEON: I reached out to a few comics-interested people before starting on this interview, and the one thing all of them were curious about was this really lovely style that you've developed that you utilize in What It Is, a style that stands in great contrast to most of the work of yours we've seen. You can see some of it in One Hundred Demons, but the presentation in What It Is seems more formally ambitious, really. Can you talk about how this style came to fruition, maybe why that style for this book?

BARRY: Well, I've always loved collage and along with the work I do that people see there is a lot of work no one sees. Except for maybe my husband, no one has seen the collages I've done over the years and why should they have? I make them for no real reason, mainly to be making them the way you go for a walk in order to walk, not to have a walk you can show someone afterward. For some reason collage has always been a huge help to me. I've always liked mixing collage and painting.

What It Is started happening when I realized I might never find a publisher who would print my work again, understanding that it was a real possibility, and there was something about this that made me able to just start making the book anyway, just the way I wanted to. I actually didn't think anyone would ever print it but I liked making it. I also finally relaxed about the fact that I like to work on legal paper, or trash paper, phone books, falling apart dictionaries, any kind of paper that isn't actual art paper. I can make comics on legal paper with no hesitation. Art paper still causes me to freeze up. All I can think about is how much it costs. I have paper I've been dragging around for 20 years because I'm not good enough to work on it yet. I know this is insane but it's true for me. I can't work on expensive paper just like I can't really stand to wear expensive clothes or shoes. I just know I'm going to mess them up.

When I was making the pages for What it Is, I just didn't have any reason not to do it the way it came to me, because there was no one waiting for it, no one who had an opinion about it, and most importantly, no one who would lose money on it. When someone might lose money on something I'm working on, it's not all that fun to work. I'd really rather not.

So there was no planning at all with this book. About halfway through I found out D&Q wanted to reprint my old work and I asked if they would consider the book I was working on. I didn't think they would but they did. And once I knew how many long the book would be, I could finish it. It's always much easier for me to make a book if I have the size and page count first. Maybe it's like doing a four panel comic strip. I know how long it's going to be and that creates the structure. Knowing D&Q was publishing it made me bolder in a way because they do such beautiful reproduction and they are so incredibly open-minded. That's a pretty dreamy combination.

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SPURGEON: Has the ease of that working relationship made possible other projects? You mentioned that you like to know a page count; does having a supportive publisher work allow you conceive of future work in a similar way?

BARRY: For me, page count actually makes a project take shape. Before I connected with D&Q I was thinking What It Is would be about 225 pages long, because it would be about the same page count as One Hundred Demons, and I needed that kind of limitation.

I wonder this necessity for a page count or panel count is because of my work with Marilyn Frasca at The Evergreen State College. She wanted us to work in series, and as I believe I mentioned, we had to do 10 finished paintings a week to stay in the class (or drawings, or sculptures) plus write a minimum of five pages a day. Having that kind of template allows the work to happen in a way that has a beginning middle and end in terms of producing it. I could tell how much work I had to do and I could tell when I was finished. Just those two things are a big help.

When I teach and I give my writing class a word to work from, like "teeth," I ask them to write down the first 10 memories that come to mind having to do with that word.

But they number the page first before they know what the word is, and they know that once I say the word, they will only have three minutes to complete the list. Only then do I give them the word. My experience is that limitation is a real help to imagination and memory.

Having a supportive publisher is incredible. Chris Oliveros is not just supportive, he's actually reliably helpful. After working with him for awhile I realized I really could leave certain decisions up to him with confidence. I don't know that I've ever had that before with an editor/publisher except Jennifer Sweeney at Salon. Both of them wanted what my work is made of, they never tried to make it more understandable to people, or more mainstream. Working with them felt like having someone who could tell which way I was trying to guide my horses and they did what they could to clear the path for me.

I've had the opposite experience with editors. I've had an editor who told me my work was dumb, another who said it was remedial, both of them telling me this in the final stages of production of the book I was working on. I've had editors who never read the book at all before it went to press, ones who wrote a synopsis of the book for the publisher's catalog mentioning characters and events that weren't in the book, and one who told me the reason I needed to come to the American Bookseller's Association event was because there were authors that were "younger, prettier, and thinner" than I was, and book buyers needed to have a reason to select my book. I told him it was probably a bad idea for me to come because they'd see I was old, ugly and fat, and that would probably put off sales.

I wish I were making this up.

For the most part, it wasn't malice on the part of these editors that made them say these things, just extreme overwork and carelessness. But there were one or two situations I couldn't excuse. I've worked alongside other editors and have seen things they do up close which shocked me. Mean and dismissive comments about the work we were supposed to be editing really caught me off guard. Maybe it's what editors do, but I wasn't prepared for it. For me, anyone who takes a pen or a brush to a page should get all the support and help I can give them. I owe my happiness on this earth to people who make things. It's hard for me to understand how editors can be so harsh, but some are, and they have no hesitation about it. The wildest thing I've ever seen, and I've seen it often, are editors who begin editing a piece before they've even read the entire thing. I can't understand that at all. If you don't know what you're editing, and how could you unless you've read it first, what kind of editor are you? A bad one, I'd say. But the thought that we should read something through once and better yet twice before we start to help with an edit is something most editors won't even consider. Again, this may be due to deadlines and overwork, but it's still a lot like the judging on American Idol. One shot, and if I'm in a bad mood, and your work looks bad to me because of that bad mood, tough luck for you. Next!

A good editor is someone who does more than fix up or limit your work. A good editor is someone who gives you an even bigger playfield than you would have if you were on your own and is ready for and receptive to the unpredictable transformations that can happen when things are going right.

That's a long way of saying I owe both Jennifer Sweeney and Chris Oliveros a great deal. They've both given me a huge playfield and made my work better than it would have been without them.

SPURGEON: Do you think the problems with editors and even publishers you've just described have had anything to do with the unique nature of the comics medium? Do the people you've worked with in the past dealt with comics differently, or have you found more similarities than differences?

BARRY: I've always felt funny about my comics being edited, probably because the writing and the drawing come at the same time for me and it's odd to have someone else reaching in to try and change one little part. The troubles I've had with editors and publishers are probably pretty typical. I've heard the same stories from other cartoonists and writers. The minute money comes into the picture, the right to edit the work comes into the picture too.

If I'm doing something just for the money, I don't argue with editors at all. If they want to change things around in a way that makes no sense to me, I'm happy to do it, because bills must be paid! I don't take on this kind of work unless I really have to, but lately I've had to, and I've felt lucky to have some jobs come my way.

But they really are just jobs to me. I understand the editor is my boss, and I understand my goal to make my boss happy. Sometimes a boss digs my work completely and I have a very good time working on the project. Sometimes a boss is insane and wants to direct every square inch of the page, and I've learned to just roll with that, especially because those bosses never notice I don't put my name on the work. There may be a wee illustration credit on the side of the page that someone in production might remember to put in, but for the most part I can be pretty much invisible. People who know my style may recognize it, but my name won't be there. The craziest bosses never ever notice this.

I've only had to work for a few totally insane bosses, but there have been many partially insane bosses. One of the most insane bosses I had insisted that I had to include quote marks in every dialog balloon, because it was someone speaking and the style sheet at their publication required quote marks around text to indicate speech. I tried to explain that a dialog balloon indicates speech on its own, so quote marks weren't necessary, and he went nuts, telling me he knew what he was doing, so I put them in. Then during the production stage they had to take them out because his boss saw them and couldn't understand why they were there. I got blamed. I didn't care. I cashed the check. I paid my bills. I never took a job from that guy again.

I'm a lot more easy-going with this sort of thing than I used to be. Probably because it's clear to me that those kind of jobs aren't my actual work. It feels completely different to me, so I'm not as attached.

If the work is my own, I'm not happy being edited at all. I've gotten much less easy-going about that as I've gotten older. Sometimes a suggestion may be good and when that happens, I'm delighted to give it a try. But if it isn't a good suggestion and if an editor insists on me changing something, we will have a big problem. Like a mongoose-versus-a-rattlesnake-in-a-laundry-basket type of problem.

SPURGEON: Lynda, I wanted to ask you a question or two about processes that you describe in What It Is. One thing I couldn't quite understand is a few places where you seemed to be suggesting that the participant try to have a better grasp on how much time had passed or how much time one spent doing something. What is the value of being aware of time in that way?

BARRY: Actually that may be the most important part of the whole process. Limiting the amount of time one works on something seems to create a structure on its own.

When I teach, my students don't write for longer than eight minutes at a time. There is a lot of preparation before that eight minutes, but the actual writing of the piece only lasts for eight minutes and all I ask my students to do is keep their pen moving in one way or another for the whole eight minutes, either by writing the story as it comes, or by just writing the alphabet when the story stalls.

After five minutes I tell them they have three minutes left, then one minute left. The stories seem to structure themselves within this time frame. They have a clear and natural beginning, middle and end. Awareness of time is something like the measured beats in a short piece of music. It's an awareness you can actually forget about while you are in the experience. It's a bit paradoxical in that way, an awareness of time that allows you to forget about time. Sort of like when we took recess as kids, forget until the warning bell, then wrap up what you're doing and be back to class by the final bell.

I've always been curious about how our experience of time varies. If you've ever been in a car wreck maybe you've experienced the near-hallucinogenic slow down of events. Almost like a moment can accordion out and you can be very much inside the tiniest parts of it. And if you've ever fallen in love, you've also experienced how six hours can feel like a single hour. Or the reverse, during heartbreak, an hour can feel like six hours. I don't believe our experience of time is a steady experience. There is extreme fluctuation all through the day. That's the thing I'm trying to get people to notice, because it's helpful to know there are eight-minute periods where so much can happen and eight-minute periods where nearly nothing can happen. If you like basketball or hockey you've seen those players be able to move in the spaces between the seconds on the countdown clock. When I watched the Bulls play during Michael Jordan days, I was always aware that he was having a completely different experience of the same 20 seconds we were simultaneously living through.

Writing by hand for a limited amount of time seems to work much better than writing for an unlimited amount of time on a computer. The delete button and no limitation are the two things can stop experience and give it too much drag-weight to move though time gracefully. These two things allow you to "fix" something that doesn't even exist yet. We're editing the experience before we even have the experience. It's madness but it's something most of us now do without question. We believe it's the way to write. Even as I type these words I find myself going back and editing sentences before they are even finished. The delete button is irresistible. And also the speed of typing is irresistible as is the "finished" look of typewritten words. Who wants to give up the ability to take every action back? It's a recent kind of super power we don't have anywhere else in our lives.

Handwriting seems much too slow to those who use computers but I believe the slowest way is the fastest way, and I believe there are invisible advantages to moving your hand while drawing letters on actual paper in terms of pulling the back-of-the-mind action forward and onto the page. Handwriting is a physical act that reminds me of ice skating. There is momentum and travel across space, leaps between words, and a trail that is left behind which isn't as important as what happened during the skate. No ice skater learns to skate by looking back at the lines left on the ice. It's the actual doing that both puts the experience in us, and brings it out of us.

Actually I learned a great deal about handwriting by watching ice skaters, especially handwriting with a brush, which seems like the slowest possible way to work but for me at least, is much faster and goes deeper than typing a story. I believe there are a lot of stories which can't be written on a computer. They come from the hand itself. Later they can be transferred to a computer, but in the beginning there is a huge advantage to writing by hand.

Typing is ideal for a lot of things, but I'm not so sure it's that good for the initial stages of making a story. I don't think an unlimited amount of time is good for making a story either.

SPURGEON: Your mention of different experiences of time makes me think of how we experience art in general, or directly how it might relate to this work, which is very different than the bulk of material that comes out these days. Do you have any idea how this work will be received? Does that enter in your thought process at all? Do you have hopes that it will be received in a specific way, or a specific effect it might have on people? Do you have suspicions?

BARRY: The thing I hope What It Is will do is make people itch to make something. I'd like it to make them want to make something so much that they don't feel worried about what it will be for first. That's what I think stops a lot of people. They want to make something but even before it exists they feel they need to know what purpose it will serve. And if they don't know what purpose it will serve, often that is reason enough not to make it. So they stop themselves before they even get a chance to try. I like to think this might make them skip that part and just make something— but who knows?

But I do feel a bit hopeful. I think it may from the reactions I've gotten from those who happened to see parts of the book while I was working on it. I started to feel especially hopeful when different teenagers and kids who came by my studio saw it and all of them instantly wanted to make something. I think there is something comforting about what a mess the book seems to be, and how hand-done it is, and how it's made mostly of trash, just glued-on scraps, legal paper, and what ever else was blowing by on the floor while I worked.

Having said that, I don't really like knowing too much about what people think about the work. I believe we talked about that earlier. It's a lot better for me to not know too much or worry too much about it. I especially try to keep that out of my mind while I'm working, so I didn't have any particular hopes or fears while I was making the book.

Actually, one thing that mattered to me very much was that my neighbors, Donavon and Joanie Mitchell, would be happy with it, because they're the ones that connected me to Doris Mitchell who was Donavon's aunt. And they let me go though bags of things that were being thrown out after she died. It was a messy situation because she kept things in a damp unheated basement on a farm and there was hardly anything that was completely intact or didn't have some kind of critter living in it. There were a lot of mice who ran through everything and chewed things up and left their messes, and there was a tremendous amount of mold and mildew, so I just put on a face mask and sifted through for pieces I could salvage.

I suppose in a way this made it easier to use, because it was already in pieces. Had it been well preserved I don't think I could have used it because it would have made me feel horrible to cut things up. But when a piece of paper is falling apart but there is a section that can be salvaged, I tried to salvage it. I had to let a lot of it dry out in our barn after I got it. I really understood what barns are for after that! They are specifically designed to keep air flow going but keep things dry at the same time. Ours is over a hundred years old. It did a beautiful job in helping to make these scraps usable.

I did show the book to Donavon and Joanie and I'm happy to say they were happy with it. I put Doris's picture in the back and they were especially happy to see that. They told me she always wanted to be a writer, and she would have been happy to see herself included in a book about writing. I hope that is true! I sure have a lot of affection for her, though we never met. I know how very lucky I was to have access to the papers she kept for so many years. I even have pages from the homework she did in 1923 and 1924 at the University of Wisconsin. I've been painting monkeys on them. Maybe I already sent you some -- here's one on a page she typed on the last day in January, 1924. It's part of her report on Magnetic Fields.

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SPURGEON: Some of the book is structured around what seems like autobiographical moments, which I found interesting because of the way it contrasts against some of your comics that I would guess are occasionally autobiographically informed without being autobiographically driven. Do you have any worries about working from real-life events and folding them into a book like this one? Were there any particularly problems using that material in this book? We're living in a kind of renaissance of memoirs right now, have you seen some of that comics work and is there any you've particularly enjoyed?

BARRY: The history of making things as a kid and then at some point stopping is something that is probably common to everybody. When I was working on the book I really wished I had another way to tell it besides using events from my own life. I had to find a way to tell it that wasn't just explaining it which is how I do it in my class, and the only way I could think of was to tell some stories about my own experiences. It's a pretty fast way to do it and it's a very old way, but I did wish I wasn't in the book so much. One Hundred Demons was the first autobiographical book I'd done. What It Is has a lot of autobiography in it as well. But now I hope not to draw myself for a book again for a long long time. There are real limitations when writing autobiography and I don't really enjoy them. I like having characters who can say or do things I don't expect, people who don't exist anywhere but in the story. The feeling of writing fiction is very similar to the feeling of writing from something that actually happened because when fiction is going well, it is actually happening. It's why we scream during the part of Carrie (my favorite movie) when her hand shoots up out of the grave. Because in some way it is actually happening.

I think one of the reasons people have always thought my work was autobiographical is because of how I learned to work early on from Marilyn Frasca. It's what the book is based on, this idea of an image being something that has an aliveness to it. When you work from that place instead of the thinking place, you end up with some stories that seem pretty real. You also get to be surprised by them in the same way real life surprises us. They aren't always exciting, these surprises, but they are continual. It's the unexpected part of making things that keeps me doing it. Autobiography has less of that for me but there is still plenty enough to work with.

Having said that, I love reading autobiographical comics. One of my absolute favorites is King Cat by John Porcellino. I also love Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Actually the comics I like best tend to be autobiographical or feel as if they are. Chris Ware's work feels absolutely autobiographical even when his characters are women. When he writes in the first person, even though it's fiction, it has a feeling of being true, of having happened. Ivan Brunetti has written a brilliant book called Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice which gave me the same feeling of a story actually happening even though it's a teaching book. I have no idea how he did it! It's a book about making comics but when I remember it it doesn't feel like a book about making comics, it feels like an actual experience with an actual person.

I was lucky to have been the editor of the next Best American Comics collection and my only regret is that I didn't get have more comics to chose from. I was able to read hundreds of comics, but I would have liked a thousand much better. Anytime anyone sits down and draws something and writes some words with the drawing, I am really happy to read it and I loved reading every single thing that came my way. The part where I may have failed was that I live in such a rural location that finding comics was hard for me and I didn't realize until too late that not enough would be sent my way through the publisher. If I could have done it over again I would have worked much harder to see many more comics than I saw, especially from people who are making their own little books. I also liked reading the super hero comics quite a bit. Actually I liked reading everything. The only problem I had was when someone used electronic typography. For me half the aliveness of a story is missing when it's not hand-written. Even if the typography is based on actual handwriting, there is something dead about it. It's like artificial flavoring. You can get used to it, but it's nothing like real food.

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SPURGEON: Was there anything that stood out to you in terms of the kinds or types of comics, or the aims of the comics you read for the Best American Comics gig? Did you see any similarities between what people were trying to accomplish, or were there types of comics that you hadn't read before. For that matter, what was it that you liked about the superhero comics you read, and did any of them stand out in a way that you remember which ones impressed you?

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BARRY: I adored Paul Pope's Batman 100. His version of Batman gave me the same feeling I had when I read Batman as a kid. There was something so alive and beautifully drawn about it. Unfortunately, DC refused to grant permission to include it in the Best American Comics of 2008 and it was clear that no DC superhero comic could ever be included in the collection.

So while I was trying to broaden the range of what "Best of American Comics" meant, I was thwarted by the publisher of the comics I wanted to include. It's hard to understand, really. It also put a damper on reading many super hero comics knowing that the chances for inclusion were going to be slim to none. But I read them anyway because I'm just interested in what people are drawing and writing. I was surprised by how seemingly small elements usurped my enjoyment of those stories. The three things that seemed to really remove the flavor are the slick paper they are printed on now, the use of electronic typography instead of hand-written letters, and the computer coloration and shading which somehow deadens what used to be very alive. I didn't realize how much these things added to the aliveness of a comic story until they were gone. I like to believe there is some aliveness there I can't detect for people who don't know any other style of comics and for whom this sort of paper, type and coloration is the norm. I hope there is! I did like reading them but not as much as I like reading old comic books with the same characters on paper that doesn't reflect light back into my eyes and had so much more indication of the human hand at work.

I was really torn about daily strips and I have regret about not fighting harder to keep track of them and include them in the collection because I believe they have really been marginalized in this whole recent comics awareness, and I believe unfairly. My error was not understanding how much I was going to have to do on my own in terms of gathering the comics. I stupidly thought that all kinds of comics would be submitted to the publisher and the publisher would send everything to me.

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I didn't know that if I wanted daily comics or even my fellow weekly comic artists I was going to have to hunt all that stuff down from the very beginning and work hard to keep track of it. So I do feel I completely failed in this regard and though my intentions were to really open up the range of comics in this collection, in the end it's not opened up at all. It's mostly art comics. Having said that, I clearly love art comics. They are my favorite kind of comics. But I have regrets here too, because I wish I'd understood the process better so I could have started scouting for comics immediately after I'd accepted the editorship. Still, I got to read several hundred comics and my rule was I had to read everything at least twice and even three times before I decided to include or exclude them. I was amazed by how the mood of the day could affect how I responded to a comic. They seemed to change upon re-reading and it was awhile before I understood that part of that changing element was me. My mood, my alertness, my exposure to the work over time, my familiarity or unfamiliarity with a drawing style or writing style, and how it came back to me while I was doing something else. That was actually something I paid attention to when it happened. What is it about a comic strip that comes back to you after you've read it? And how does it change after you read it a few times?

Comics are more like music to me than like plain old reading, and music changes the more you hear it because there are so many elements -- from lyrics to melody to rhythm to duration in time. Comics have this same mix of elements and just as songs come back to me during my day, so comics came back. And when they did I noticed it and those were the ones I was more likely to wish to include. The thing I loved about this was I could never predict which ones would come back. There are still some comic panels that come back to me all the time. Kaz's work in particular seems to come back like a song. Who knows why? His work really stays in my head and not just stays in my head but makes me happy when I remember it. How does that work? How can an image that just comes up in your mind make you feel happy? I don't know! But I know that comics can do that. Don Martin from Mad Magazine did that for me a lot when I was a kid, and so did Big Daddy Roth's Rat Finks. I just had them in my head like toys and they made me feel better. Dr. Seuss is in there, too. I think that guy is a cartoonist and I think I may have learned quite a bit from him.

Seriously, that job of picking comics was pure heaven. I knew I'd only have one shot at it and thus the regrets of what I wasn't able to do. I'd do it again in a heart beat!

SPURGEON: Lynda, I understand you're going out on the road in support of this book, at least to Comic-Con International. Are you looking forward to that? Have you ever done those kinds of appearances before? Are you comfortable with making personal appearances and doing other things that promote a work? We've maybe touched on this a little bit, but does the fact that this book is such a direct communication to the readers on the subject of making art change the way you'll interact with people in support of it?

BARRY: I never pictured myself going out on the road to support the book, but I don't think it will be so different than what happens during the first hour of the class I teach where I give a little talk about the process I use for writing. I am very much looking forward to going only because it gets my mind off of our home being lost to the wind plant coming in. I can't call it a farm any more. There is nothing "farm" about rows of industrial turbines 40 stories tall. So when I get away I actually feel like myself again for a bit and can remember the rest of the world, and actually be light-hearted for a little while.

I've been teaching for almost 10 years and I've given talks on and off for the last 30 so though they still make nearly unbearably nervous before hand, once I'm doing it I'm all right. The talks I gave when One Hundred Demons came out will be a lot like the talks I'll give for What It Is, which is basically about the role of images, memory, making things and mental health. In a way the talks are about the people listening to them. It's pretty interactive. What I don't know yet is if I'll be bringing some sort of visual support for the talks. I know it makes sense to bring pictures to look at when you're a cartoonist, but I'm so used to no-tech seat-of-the-pants style speaking and at the moment I have no idea how to organize a power point presentation. I could learn to do it if it was about wind turbines! But about my own work I'm less motivated.

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SPURGEON: Were you aware of your name being used as an example of someone that could have or should have been included in the Master of American Comics exhibit? And in light of that kind of institutional event, what have you thought about the surge in comics interest this decade, given that you're one of those artists that started the movement that drove what would eventually become that attention paid to comics, and even as we discussed your own initial, primary market seems to have not shared in this comics renaissance?

BARRY: I don't actually know about the Master of American Comics Exhibit. What is it? I may be much more isolated from all of this than you imagine! I never think of myself as someone who started anything at all. I actually feel very much out of the loop when it comes to cartoonists. I have one close cartoonist friend, Matt Groening, and a couple I adore but haven't spent a lot of time with like Art Spiegelman, Ivan Brunetti and especially Chris Ware, who I believe may be the one who says "Hey, you guys, what about Lynda?" when there are shows or collections, he's always been a sweetheart to me, but other than that, I'm not ever invited to the party and I really don't know anyone and I've even gotten the feeling I'm actively disliked by other cartoonists though I don't know why, or if it's true or if it's just the left-over being-a-weird-kid paranoia. I don't know! I don't think I want to know! I just stay home on the farm and fight 40 story turbines all day. (see the result at betterplan.squarespace.com updated daily if I'm in town!)

You know who I think has been really seriously and unfairly marginalized? It's Matt Groening. Prior to the success of The Simpsons, everyone who cared about comics knew what he was doing was original and hilarious and ground-breaking. But then The Simpsons came and it's as if his other work doesn't count anymore. I can tell you from having done book signings with him pre-Simpsons that lines of people who came to see him went out the door and wrapped around the building. People came to see me too, but usually to ask where the bathrooms were. Another ground-breaker who never has gotten credit is Heather McAdams. I hope you don't say "Who?" I think she's incredibly brave and brilliant and completely under recognized. She and I don't get along, but I still love her work completely.

So in terms of being a cartoonist I feel like the very uncool Quasimodo cousin at the comics cousin picnic. Sometimes it's made me feel lonely, other times I just jump onto the rope and ring the dang bell and then jump off and run back into the fog.

SPURGEON: That's everything I have. With your permission, I solicited questions from CR's readers. Here are five that struck me as potentially interesting. Gus Mastrapa wondered if there was any back story to "those 'funk queen' shout outs that Matt Groening used to give her in the front of the Life in Hell collections."

BARRY: The "funk queen" shout outs are actually a response to the line I always used to put in my books in the copyright info that says "Matt Groening is Funk Lord of USA" which I actually included in What It Is. "Funk Lord of USA" comes from a high school kid who was working in the print shop at his high school and was making stationary for himself. He didn't have room for the word "the" in his design so it just had his name and "is Funk Lord of USA" -- this was probably in 1980 or so. I stole it and always put Matt's name in front of it. Because Matt Groening actually is Funk Lord of USA. He responded with many names for me, but none kick ass the way "Funk Lord of USA" kicks ass. Take it to the judge!

SPURGEON: Tim O'Shea wondered if anything sticks in your memory about the Off-Broadway version of The Good Times Are Killing Me.

BARRY: Everything sticks in my memory about the theatric production of The Good Times are Killing Me. The first version was in Chicago and the cast was mind meltingly wonderful, brilliant, and all the people who worked on every aspect of it were superb. And the second version in New York was just as mind-melting. Those were the happiest days of my life and I loved living in New York and having an actual job to go to in the morning. To me it's like this part of my life, a whole other living planet of my life that I somehow got launched into and then launched out of. But those working with the people on those two productions are the most joyful happy days I've ever known. Like a dream, a complete supernatural dream. I can't believe it even happened to me. I know this is so general, and I could get into nitty gritty specifics of the 100,000 avenues of hilarious things that happened, but I'll let the word joy, followed by the word gratitude do the heavy lifting here. If Mr. O'Shea has a specific question, I'll be glad to give a specific answer. But it really was magic.

SPURGEON: Someone who goes by "HT" wonders, "Who writes the descriptions for the Lynda Barry artwork sold on eBay? They are written in third person, but sound like she might have written them herself."

BARRY: I have an eBay helper! Her name is always Betty Bong, but Betty Bong isn't always the same person. Kind of like how Ronald McDonald isn't always the same person but he is always Ronald McDonald. By the way, I vote Ronald McDonald for the most scary commercial character ever. A clown with combed hair. If you are a clown, please do not comb your hair. But Betty Bong has been the same actual person for several years now and if you ever take my writing class you will meet her and learn her real name! I do sometimes write the descriptions. You can always spot when I do it because I'll go on about industrial wind turbines. I HATE THEM! Come visit my website! Betterplan.squarespace.com. I! HATE! INDUSTRIAL! WIND! TUR! BINES! So if you see #$%& related to industrial wind turbines that in the description you know I'm at the keyboard! By the way, THANK GOD FOR EBAY! I'd be so in trouble if I didn't have my little eBay kool-aid stand. I'm thankful for the people who buy my art on eBay. It keeps me from having to get a job.

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SPURGEON: Jackie Estrada asks, "Do you still go to Jazzfest in New Orleans? Any thoughts on the post-Katrina situation there?

BARRY: I haven't been back to New Orleans since Katrina. I haven't been able to bear it. That was the most horrible time, the most shocking terrible and life changing event, to see an entire city left with no help, yet cameras rolling. I can say it changed me completely. The word "Katrina" is painted on the back of my old hoopty van. I don't think whatever broke in me from all that ever got fixed. It's like someone you love being murdered. You don't get over it. I'm not over it.

SPURGEON: I'll end with a slightly longer one from the cartoonist and painter Frank Santoro.
Would you ask her about conscious and unconscious story structures? She uses a grid a lot but then her sense of pacing and timing for longer works is still informed by this 4 panel pacing that often it doesn't allow the narrative to breathe. Everything can quickly become a gag. One Hundred Demons is different from a weekly strip but its still packed. Is she going to write a slow-paced summer kind of ale someday that's notso intense?
BARRY: No, I don't think I'll ever write "a slow-paced summer kind of ale someday that's notso intense."

Please let Frank know he can give up on me. I will always write gag based, over packed, suffocated narrative with no air holes punched in the jar ever.
It is my destiny.

*****

* all art from What It Is except the inset self-portrait and the panel from Batman Year 100

*****

* What It Is, Drawn and Quarterly, Hardcover, 208 pages, 9781897299357, May 2008, $24.95

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Five Link A Go Go

* go, listen: Matt Madden and Jessica Abel on All Things Considered

* go, look: Paul Pope's Battling Boy

* go, read: AAEC Feedback Panel

* go, participate: MailCon

* go, read: Safe Area: Gorazde review
 
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FFF Results Post #125—Cameos

On Friday afternoon, participating CR readers were asked to "Name Five Celebrity Cameos In Comics That You've Enjoyed." Here are the results.

adapted from a suggestion by Fred Hembeck

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Tad Doyle, Hate #17
2. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four Annual #3
3. Tom Wolfe, Strange Tales #180
4. Henry Kissinger, Super-Villain Team-Up #6-7
5. Bill Clinton, Sanctuary

*****

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Kiel Phegley

1. Adam Ant, Blue Monday #3
2. The entire history of Rock N Roll, Red Rocket Seven #1 - 7
3. Brian K. Vaughan, Acme Novelty Library #18
4. Princess Diana, unpublished issues of X-Statix I'm assuming I would've really dug
5. I remember being in Seventh Grade and reading in TV Guide how this dude from "All My Children" was going to be in Valiant's The Second Life of Doctor Mirage #13 and thinking it was cool. I never read the comic or watched the show, but now that I'm googling because of this topic, I'm finding that apparently the guy is some sort of amateur cartoonist and "He is also an official Disney artist." I wonder how one earns such an ambiguous credit. Do you think they give them out on the studio tour?

*****

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Michael Dooley

* Don Knotts in Fun with Milk and Cheese ("Birthday" by Evan Dorkin).
* Pablo Picasso in Comix Book ("Ace Hole, Midget Detective" by Art Spiegelman).
* Harold Lloyd in Fred the Clown ("The Shoulders of Giants" by Roger Langridge).
* Frank Sinatra in Brought to Light ("Shadowplay -- The Secret Team" by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz).
* Jacqueline Kennedy in Help! ("Goodman, Underwater" by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder).

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Everyone on the cover of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
* Bill Hicks in Preacher
* Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #83
* Julie Schwartz in Flash #179
* Bob Wayne as Agent W in Sleeper

*****

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Marc Arsenault

I probably severely stretch the cameo limitation here...

* David Wilkerson, The Cross and the Switchblade
* All the many guest stars in Marvel's Spoof comic (Spiro T. Agnew, the Partridge Family, John Wayne, Joe Namath, etc.)
* Richard M. Nixon, From Beyond the Unkown 17 ""It is scientifically impossible that there could be a planet like Earth... whose most famous leader is named Nee-Xon!"
* Jimmy Carter - Marvel Two-in-One 27
* Billy Jane Kane (Billy Jean King) a 70's Wonder Woman where I first got the whole weird DC treatment of real places and people thing.

*****

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John Vest

1. Bertrand Russell, Zap #0
2. The Beatles, Strange Tales #130 (a really funny story and the Thing wears his Beatles wig)
3. Country Joe and the Fish, Nick Fury Agent Of SHIELD #15
4. Jann Wenner, Daredevil #100
5. Richard Nixon, Fantastic Four #104

*****

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Jeff Chanley

* David Letterman in Avengers #239
* Rolling Stones in Bloom County
* Reagan in Rom #53
* Dan Clowes in Tales to Demolish #2
* Don Rickles in Jimmy Olsen #141

*****

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Chris Keels

* Chuck Barris and the Gong Show panelists in the 1977 Fantastic Four Annual. Marie Severin was clearly brought in for that sequence to make the caricatures just right.
* Uri Geller teaming up with Daredevil
* Gilbert Hernandez's tribute to the Danish comedian who played Peterson the janitor in "Reptilicus" (No, really, the movie, the guy,and the onen page strip are great...)
* Blue Oyster Cult (in a clearly photoreferenced panel) in that David Anthony Kraft demon war sequence in Defenders that was supposedly an elaborate homage to them. I guess. I don't know anything about BOC other than that Will Ferrell SNL sketch.
* And of course... Don Rickels meets Jimmy Olsen.

*****

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Don MacPherson

1) All of the celeb cameos on the cover of Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali
2) JFK - Superman v.1 #170
3) David Letterman - Avengers #239
4) Marv Wolfman & George Perez - Tales of the Teen Titans #50
5) Gordon Brown - Captain Britain and MI-13 #1

*****

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J. Caleb Mozzocco

1.) Dan Rather in Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman's SHOOTING WAR
2.) Mayor Bloomberg in Fred Chao's JOHNNY HIRO #1
3.) Queen Victoria in Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert's THE PROFESSOR'S DAUGHTER
4.) Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid and Greg Rucka as the villains in Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's DOCTOR 13: ARCHITECTURE AND MORALITY.
5.) Jerry Falwell in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #36...because it made him look like a meaner jerk than supervillains Dr. Doom, The Kingpin and Magneto, who were shedding tears at ground zero while he was blaming 9/11 on gay folks and the ACLU.

*****

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Richard Pachter

* JFK in Action Comics #309
* Mantis (as Willow) in JLA #142
* Curt Swan in Superman Annual #9
* Barry Allen in Quasar #17
* Harry Broertjes in Fred Hembeck's Pal, Jimmy Olsen

[Editor's Note: I'm pretty sure that's the Kennedy from #309; I don't care either way.]

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. Jann Wenner in Daredevil 100 -- If you're a superhero set in San Francisco back in '73, what better way to celebrate your centennial issue than to give an interview to the founder of Rolling Stone magazine?

2. Robert Young in Dennis The Menace in Hollywood (1959) -- The Mitchells visit the set of "Father Knows Best" while on vacation in Tinseltown, and the future Marcus Welby discovers that in some families, the title of his then current program isn't always true...

3. Stan Lee and Carl Burgos (at the New York World's Fair no less!) in Strange Tales 123 (1964) -- Wherein the creator of the original Human Torch gets his one and only shot at illustrating an adventure starring the android's teen-aged successor before -- after pencilling a mere handful of Giant Man episodes -- leaving Marvel forever for the greater glories of Myron Fass and his Enterprises.

4. Krushchev and Kennedy in Action Comics 283 (1961) -- Everyone remembers that unfortunately timed issue of Action Comics with JFK covering for Supes secret ID that hit the stands the third week of November in 1963, but even through here the two Cold War leaders are, in actuality, disguised Durlans (Chameleon Boy's people), seeing the Man of Steel knock the two of them out literally with a flick of his little finger before the readers are made of their true identities makes this for a particularly memorable, if extremely odd, story.

5. Joe Kubert, Gene Colan, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, Irv Novick, and Jack Abel in Sea Devils 13 and 14 (1963) -- Editor Bob Kanigher auditions various artists (and one team), involving each cartoonist in the actual stories, asking readers to vote for their favorite to succeed the outgoing Russ Heath. Didn't really matter, though--Novick handled #15, after which George Kashdan took over the editorial helm--and didn't use any of these guys!

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Ronald and Nancy Reagan in a Wonder Woman early in Gene Colan's run, might've been # 290.
2. Frida Kahlo in "Doctor Who: The Way of All Flesh" in Doctor Who Magazine #306-310
3. Northrop Frye in The New Defenders when Hank McCoy was doing a university lecture tour in the mid-1980s
4. Margaret Thatcher as "Iron Aggie" in "Robo-Hunter: Play it Again Sam" in 2000 AD #292-307
5. John Lennon and Stu Sutcliffe in the first episode of "The Invisibles."

*****

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Stephen Frug

* Geoffrey Chaucer in Sandman #13
* Kelly Donovan in Scott McCloud's Making Comics
* Warren Ellis in Powers #7
* Harlan Ellison in The Dark Knight Returns
* Gary Gygax in Xkcd #393

****

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Don Sticksel

* Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin - Herbie 5
* David Letterman - Avengers 239
* Don Rickles - Jimmy Olson 139
* Uri Geller - Daredevil 133
* Merv Griffin (off panel, I'm sure) - Milk & Cheese

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1 - Jumpeen Prince Mick (Jagger) in CEREBUS: CHURCH & STATE II
2 - Prince Keef (Richard) in CEREBUS: CHURCH & STATE II
3 - John Belushi, MARVEL TEAM-UP #74
4 - Charles Brubaker (comic strip geek extraordinaire) in the June 8th, 2008 RETAIL Sunday strip
5 - Todd MacFarlane in CEREBUS: LATTER DAYS

*****
*****
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Bo Hampton!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Don Rosa!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Bobby London!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Mike Richardson!

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First Thought Of The Day

This is the kind of thing that may only be interesting to me, but Don Adams had about 10 years on Barbara Feldon; Steve Carell has 20 on Anne Hathaway.
 
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June 28, 2008


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Austin, I’d Go To This

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from June 20 to June 27, 2008:

1. Former prominent retailer and convention organizer Michael George sentenced to life in prison for crimes related to the 1990 murder of his then-wife.

2. DC denies permission for excerpt from Batman Year 100 to appear in The Best American Comics 2008.

3. Regional, still-modest, not-owned-by-major-organizer, comics-only convention Heroes Con takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Winner Of The Week
RC Harvey

Loser Of The Week
Michael George

Quote Of The Week
"I lost my credit card... and Brian Ralph!" -- Mike Bertino

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Hillman Publications
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Philippe Druillet!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Mike Royer!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Georges Wolinski!

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Michael Turner, RIP

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June 27, 2008


Five For Friday #125—Cameos

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Five For Friday #125 -- Name Five Celebrity Cameos In Comics That You've Enjoyed

*****

1. Tad Doyle, Hate #17
2. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four Annual #3
3. Tom Wolfe, Strange Tales #180
4. Henry Kissinger, Super-Villain Team-Up #6-7
5. Bill Clinton, Sanctuary

adapted from a suggestion by Fred Hembeck

This Subject Is Now Closed. Thanks To All That Participated.

*****

Five For Friday is a reader response feature. To play, send a response while it's still Friday. Play fair. Responses up Sunday morning.
 
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DC Keeps Batman Year 100 Excerpt From The Best American Comics, 2008

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By Tom Spurgeon

In the course of an interview to appear on CR this Sunday, the cartoonist Lynda Barry revealed that in her guest-editing stint on the next Best American Comics volume, the book and its publisher Houghton Mifflin were denied permission to reprint an excerpt from one of her favorite comics of recent vintage: Batman Year 100.

"I adored Paul Pope's Batman 100," Barry says in the piece. "His version of Batman gave me the same feeling I had when I read Batman as a kid. There was something so alive and beautifully drawn about it. Unfortunately, DC refused to grant permission to include it in The Best American Comics 2008 and it was clear that no DC superhero comic could ever be included in the collection."

Matt Madden, one of the current permanent series editors along with wife, cartoonist and fellow comics educator Jessica Abel, confirmed that they were denied permission for the story. "It's true," he told CR. "After many many attempts at various levels, DC declined to let us run an excerpt from Batman Year 100." Madden says at one point they even brought DC's Bob Schreck into the discussion, "not that it ended up helping for all his good efforts." (Schreck declined to comment on the story.) He also said he was unclear as to DC's reasoning. "I'm not sure that they even gave an explicit reason, my understanding is they simply said no."

One place where he differs with Barry is that Madden was unclear whether or not this was an all-DC ban or specific to the Paul Pope project. "We still haven't heard back about whether this applies to all DC/WB product (Vertigo titles for example) or just their main franchises." An e-mail to Madden's direct liaison on the project at H-M, Anjali Singh, was not answered. Singh was apparently involved in the negotiation on the Best American Comics series behalf.

imageAs for the cartoonist and creator of the well-received mini-series, Paul Pope further confirmed the refusal and described what he saw from his perspective on the negotiation. "I know there were people both at DC and HM who campaigned very hard to convince DC as to the benefits and soundness of having my Batman pages appear in the collection," the popular artist and designer wrote to CR. The benefits would seem rather obvious to most. I have since found out it was not because of licensing money that DC refused (I don't know the actual reason to be honest, but it wasn't money, the only thing I could legitimately see as being an impediment in this case...)." He added, "DC's formal refusal letter was one line."

Pope said that he was contacted fairly only on in the process by Madden and Abel to try and get the comics publisher to OK the addition. "I made formal requests, as did Lynda and a number of other people with some degree of influence." One unfortunate outcome is that it may have kept Pope from the book altogether. "Jessica and Matt said not to worry, because if DC would not allow the addition of my Batman pages, they would be running my story "Fun! Comics" -- from THB:CFM #1, which debuted at SDCC that year -- so I would be in the collection regardless. Despite the fact that I own THB and Batman was a work for hire project, I wanted to see the Batman pages run in the book as well, so I lobbied for that. Lynda had been searching for some superhero material to add to the series, mine fit the bill. Her intention was to shed light on quality material from the so-called 'mainstream' of comics. I'm all for that.

"Months went by and I figured the matter was dead in the water, que sera sera. Then I get an email in the 11th [hour] from HM, letting me know they were about to go to press and were still trying to get DC to OK the addition of the Batman pages. In the end, DC took so long to formally deny the request that it not only prevented the Batman pages from running, it also forced HM to go ahead with the book without any material from me at all."

DC was given a chance to formally respond -- they were also given several weeks' heads-up on the possibility of this short news story -- and that response was, "No comment."

The Best American Comics 2008 is scheduled for release in October.
 
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Collective Memory: HeroesCon 2008

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Go, Look: James Harvey

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Go, Watch: Student Tribute To Lat


 
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Go, Bookmark: Golden Age PDFs

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Go, Look: Cameron Stewart’s Blog

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the comics news portal Newsarama keeps writing about Tokyopop; Lea Hernandez continues to kick the company's prone, public form.

* in strange industry news that involves Bob Harvey, Meanwhile... the blog received a Harvey nomination that was mean for Meanwhile... the book; this will now be corrected. The weird thing is I get the impression this was noticed mostly or perhaps solely because of the time travel necessary to make the blog eligible. Does this happen in other art forms? Could two such different works be confused like that?

image* behold the horrors of the Judge Judy fumetti.

* the retailer Brian Hibbs and the Savage Critics contributor Jeff Lester write about last weekend's Rory Root memorial.

* Rob Tornoe is live-blogging the AAEC convention.

* I'm back all the way home -- my home -- for the first time in a l-o-o-o-ong time, and read this book in the bookstore while waiting for the shuttle. First thing: reading comics in the bookstore without having anyone come over and yell at you is kind of awesome. Second thing: this comic book was fairly gross. Everybody was on 'roids, and it was violent and depressing.

* the reviewer and occasional pundit Don MacPherson would have really liked to have written an article on subscription services at comics companies.

* two of comicdom's most respected pundits weigh in on two broad industry talking points of the moment: Brian Hibbs on the Tokyopop restructuring/collapse; Steven Grant on recent DC numbers, Dan DiDio and speculation of his firing.

* finally, Lynn Johnston will attend and be featured at this year's Doug Wright Awards. Here's the press release: DWA_2008_release_final.doc. Somehow I missed the news that Johnston is going to end-end her strip, or at least its new installments, early this Fall (as measured by returning to school if not the actual seasons). Given how many times we've been given dates for the For Better or Worse new strips ending, I'm not sure whether to believe that statement or not. Although it's true that a September ending date should give Johnston enough time to completely destroy her character Elizabeth's life.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Bernie Mireault!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Debbie Huey!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Paul Conrad!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Jackson Guice!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Dan Jurgens!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Joe Giella!

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Quick hits
Craft
Wanted and Race
That Is One Built Overweight Cripple

Exhibits/Events
WW Chicago Preview 01
WW Chicago Preview 02

History
Old Hawkman
The Other Wanted
Creators As Characters
Richie Rich Has A Hot Mom
Weird-Ass Bob Haney Batman Comic

Industry
ADD: Roger Green
Harvey Noms Discussed
Dan DiDio Depresses Dude
I Heard It's Because They're On A Secret Payroll

Interviews/Profiles
WICN: Paul Karasik
Panels and Pixels: Jules Feiffer

Not Comics
Hulk Underwear
ADD Still Cares About Star Trek
Sex Advice From A Comics Writer

Publishing
Inspired By Islam

Reviews
Jog: Final Crisis #2
Kevin Church: Various
Richard Krauss: Dumpster
Katherine Farmar's GN Shelf: E
Katherine Farmar's GN Shelf: F
Don MacPherson: Final Crisis #2
Graeme McMillan: Final Crisis #2
Don MacPherson: Wolverine #66
John Mitchell: Fluffy by Simone Lia
Richard Krauss: High Adventure #94
John Mitchell: Omac/ Luther Arkwright
Kevin Church: The Bottomless Belly Button
John Mitchell: The Complete Peanuts - 1967 to 1968
 

 
June 26, 2008


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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So Why Were The X-Men Popular?

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Tucker Stone's live blogging of the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Vol. One a few weeks ago (one, two, three, four, five, six) is quite the achievement: smart where it needs to be, stupid where it can be, and funny throughout. I recommend it. It's a compelling view of some well-regarded comics that few people have taken the time to go back and explore.

A question I received from a couple of people who read Stone's exegesis was this: why were those comics popular in the first place? Trust me, they were. The initial burst of "All-New, All-Different" X-Men comics has to be considered a supremely successful run by almost any standard, a groundbreaking effort that echoes in current superhero comics the way that some element of Star Wars reveals itself in nearly every summer movie blockbuster. It's the dividing line between major eras at Marvel, and the first franchise-sustaining success of the post-Lee heavy involvement era (following two potent but ultimately more limited hits: Conan and Howard the Duck). Two successful mainstream comics writers, Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon, turned high-profile runs on the X-Men franchise into flat-out tributes to that original run of issues. Their influence can be seen throughout the sub-genre, and the book itself spun off into any number of re-launches, supplemental titles and mini-series. I talked about one aspect of what made those comics popular on one of Stone's comments threads. I thought I might repeat some of those points here, and add to them.

imageFirst of all, it should be remembered that the Len Wein/Chris Claremont/Dave Cockrum/John Byrne X-Men, a core run that I place from Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975) to X-Men #143 (1981), wasn't as far as I know a runaway sales success or industry pacesetter as it was an extremely well-liked superhero comic with a lot of influential, hardcore fans. It was the buzz superhero book of the late 1970s, the same way that The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, JLA, The Authority, and Daredevil (under Miller, then Bendis) would play that same role at later points in time. Its best issues and storylines had an impact on the direction of superhero comics that outpaced its actual sales numbers. Domination of the sales charts came later, on comics with this run of comics as its informative foundation.

Even within that original burst of issues, X-Men did not become a comic of passionate interest to devoted comics readers -- at least those of my acquaintance -- until about issue #125 or so. By then the comic's content began to ramp up into a sustained action-adventure narrative. At the same time, the title's back issues began to receive attention. It was hard for kids to ignore that X-Men #94, a comic they may have purchased just three or four years earlier, was selling for $15-$20. While the title picked up adherents throughout that foundational run, my memory is that it wasn't until the last year and a half's work by the Claremont/Byrne team that the title began to be widely recognized as something special.

Second, you have to remember the historical context in which these comics appeared. It felt to a lot of comics readers in the mid- to late-1970s that superheroes were so dominant as a genre that it was only right to see the entire medium in terms of accomplishments within such stories. This was a combination of legitimately-won impressions as to where the market was headed and how superhero fans, now a generation deep into organized fandom and Stan Lee's flattery, chose to view their genre of choice: worshipfully and myopically. This was a total lie on many levels, of course. There were plenty of non-superhero comics that continued to sell well and other comics that were of surpassing quality published during that time period. But if you were a superhero reader in the mid- to late-1970s, it felt like you were reading the one place where comics was going to live or die; other genres didn't matter the same way. Superhero comics dominated the imagination of hardcore readers. When those readers chose to muse on the future of the form, or its legitimacy as an art form, they thought in terms of superhero comics. As the best superhero comic going, X-Men was viewed with much greater importance than it would be now.

imageSeen in a superhero-centric light, X-Men was a strange little comic in a lot of ways, none more so than in how it was differently paced than the vast majority of its peers. It was the most laid-back action-adventure comic book, maybe ever. When your entire comics reading world was superheroes, any comic that threw its spotlight on the personal interaction of team members seemed like it was getting at the real sauce far more than, say, what Jack Kirby was doing at that point with his aggressive, dynamic style. Fans used to say things out loud like, "I love those scenes where you just get to know the characters, where they just sit around and talk." X-Men had more of those scenes than any other comic. They may have been rudimentary moments, characters brooding over some element of their personalities in a convenient, summary, almost declarative fashion. In the case of Nightcrawler taking a quiet moment in the woods to freak out a bit about a fallen teammate, they could be human (if emotionally florid) moments. In the case of Storm's tendency to walk around naked or near-naked, or Wolverine's declaration that he would "get" Jean Grey, these reveries could make for semi-disturbing moments. In the case of a hypnotized Colossus whipping out a pair of coveralls and a Russian cap and becoming a Soviet Superhero as a way of dealing with guilt over abandonment of his home country, they could be stupid moments. No matter how such moments were expressed, the deliberate pacing and attention to character set against a backdrop of more standard superhero storytelling distinguished the book from most of what had come before.

Third, X-Men brought solid basics of execution to the table. (And yes, this probably should have come earlier.) We often forget in evaluating comics how important storytelling fundamentals can be -- part of this is that saying "they were really well-done comics" doesn't secure anyone a position generating concepts for movie studios, and part of it is lingering self-hatred when it comes to the medium itself. X-Men worked. The new X-Men characters were well-designed (the Nightcrawler character in particular), the characters were easy to tell apart and just different enough that a kid could seize on their personalities fairly quickly, and they had weird adventures that in the first couple of years plugged into that era's pre-occupation with space opera. Both Dave Cockrum and John Byrne made appealing comics art, while Chris Claremont was probably the most talented acolyte of the Don McGregor Church of Excessive Exposition. It was nice for a lot of kids to have a brand-new bunch of well-done superheroes to fire the imagination in a pre-TPB era when figuring out the backstory for a lot of Marvel's characters seemed daunting. When X-Men began to hit, you could buy about 20 comic books and have the whole saga to date. It was sturdy entertainment, and an appealing choice for one's hard-earned allowance money.

Fourth, X-Men worked as sly commentary on the superhero genre. Unlike the more established superheroes of the Marvel Universe with their displayed competence and regular routines -- even Spider-Man at this point was dating a lot and working full-time in Manhattan -- the X-Men basically ran around the world willy-nilly getting their asses kicked and running away from fights. Heck, they nearly got their hats handed to them by Moses Magnum. The dislocation that resulted gave the book a non-traditional feel that was more like an "every week a different setting" TV show. Because most fans had yet to project onto the X-Men characters their own feelings of self-worth, Cyclops and the gang could lose a lot of fights and eke out meager victories in a way that felt more "real" to readers without upsetting them. Within the story, it gave the team an appealing, scrappy quality that was one of the under-appreciated creative successes of the original run. They were like a college basketball team from the Mountain West going deep into the NCAA tournament. They'd play ball with anyone, and always enter the last minute with a chance to win.

This brand of genre commentary was probably best realized in a scene at the end of #132 where Wolverine decides he's going to kill everyone. If you're near my age, I bet you even know the panel:

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This qualifies as a gutsy statement instead of a routine one or even a macho one, and is therefore that much more appealing. When Wolverine uttered his promise, the entire team had just been jacked up by a not very inspired riff on one of John Steed and Emma Peel's old villains, the Hellfire Club. Wolverine himself had been disposed of by a super-powered Sebastian Cabot. Wolverine talking smack was a cool moment not because Canada's greatest export routinely ran around killing everyone and making them know that he's the best at what he does -- the way he might now -- but because at the time Wolverine wasn't a sure thing in the normal superhero context available to him from month to month in those pre-Mature Readers days. He cut open his fair share of robots, but he also got punched off of a planet and lost a fight to Sasquatch in two panels. Watching him make good on this promise seemed like it would be an exciting thing, not a sure thing.

This kind of subtle difference in the way the superhero formula was realized was important for readers that devoured comic book after comic book every single week. You felt less jerked around or pandered to in X-Men than in those books where successful outcomes that flattered the superheroes involved seemed pre-ordained. Jack Kirby actually took overt steps towards this kind of genre correction with the New Gods material, but the X-Men books seamlessly made reduced expectations part of the formula. Like Steve Austin and Muhammad Ali, the X-Men lost their most famous battle, but became more popular for it.

imageFifth, as hinted above, Wolverine killed people. Or at least you figured he had, and he might again soon. Wolverine's break-out status can't be underestimated as a part of the title's appeal. It was a rallying point between fans and an easy way to communicate your enthusiasm for the work. "You have to see this guy," I told a lot of people at summer camp, as I dispensed my X-Men comics during Rest Hour. "This guy is cool; he's not like other superheroes." While I suppose some people reacted to the noble warrior elements or the more soap opera aspects of the character, or maybe just liked him as a pugnacious underdog who cocked off to the dreary tight-ass Cyclops, for most people Wolverine's proclivity towards excessive violence is what distinguished the character. At least it's what registered with my comics-reading pals. That violence was particularly powerful in the context of the time. Living in an era before cinematic video games and easy-to-rent John Woo movies, kids in the late '70s were fed a lot of sanitized reading and gutted entertainment material. For instance, the favorite Saturday morning cartoon of a lot of boys my age was a Tarzan adventure serial where the most violence you got to see was Tarzan jumping over a pit of some sort or running somewhere or maybe riding an elephant. But you watched. You hoped. And when Marvel made any sort of nod towards real-world violence as an option in its sanitized world, you flipped out it was so welcome.

imageIt was particularly frustrating in comics because the new generation of fan-writers tended to emphasize an increased, supposed "realism" in these stories… except, in many cases, where violence was concerned. It made perfect sense that if you were a superhero, and you had giant metal claws, that you might run around gutting a few monsters and, eventually, human-folk. Kids of a certain age are all about their entertainment making sense and meeting those kinds of expectations, and kids that continued to read comics past a certain age wanted to be able to point at something more graphic and seemingly mature than Green Lantern making a giant catcher's mitt and scooping everyone up to take them to space jail.

The creators supported Wolverine with a necessary (there were only 20 or so pages a month and a lot of characters to get in) and smart approach to the character that depended on restraint. Unlike every popular superhero that came before him, Wolverine had been around for several issues without ever meriting a proper secret origin. The creators smartly declined to give him one. This made kids lean in to pay close attention to any clues as to the full extent of Wolverine's personality and background (he reads Japanese! his name is Logan!), and the origins they wrote in their heads were likely ten times more satisfying than what Marvel would eventually make explicit. I know mine was. There aren't a whole lot of four-color creations that live the "less is more" motto, but Wolverine was definitely one of them. Plus, you know, he killed people. Or could have. Any second now.

imageI think that's most of it. There are other strong points to those comics. Kitty Pryde is a fun character, and another one that serves as overt commentary on the direction of superhero comics at the time. Also, she's an inch deep and a mile wide. You pretty much get everything that's valuable about her in two or three pages -- her fannish nature, her real-girl qualities in a world of spandex-wearing models, her secret girlfriend approachability for a lot of young males, her admirable intelligence, and her embodiment of an older formula that hadn't been exploited by the X-Men for a while, that of the frightened, exhilarated outsider/newcomer (Noah Wylie would play the Kitty Pryde role on the TV show ER) -- which meant she made her impression almost right after being introduced. Claremont and Byrne each in their plot contributions seized on the effectiveness of emphasizing story moments even at the expense of a better-flowing narrative, a way of approaching superhero comics that Mark Waid and Grant Morrison would eventually nail and make the industry standard. I might not be able to tell you in exactly what adventure each moment took place, but I remember the first time when you realize Wolverine was popping the claws out of his arms, when that same character burst out of chains at some circus sideshow, when Professor X confronted Phoenix, when a big silhouette of Jason Wyngarde/Mastermind appeared behind the character, Nightcrawler teleporting with another person for the first time, Storm trying to pick the locks when the X-Men were trapped like infants, and so on. One thing that's forgotten is that many of the stories were cut with an appealing silliness that looks better today than it did even back then, like Arcade, The World's Least Cost-Efficient Assassin, or as Stone noticed, Magneto dressing a robot in a maid outfit.

So X-Men was solid comic book entertainment that distinguished itself against the comic books of the time in several savvy ways that caught the attention of longtime, hardcore fans, the same kind of fans that were almost certain to look past lot of the title's more obvious failings (its nonsensical plots, its over-flowery language, its creepy undertones) and a group of people that would likely foster the next generation of creators. It hit in the right way at the right time with the right people, and soon launched itself into the sales stratosphere and took a lot of books with it.

One thing I'm pretty sure wasn'ta factor in the success of the late-'70s X-Men was the series' supposed strength as a metaphor for race-oriented bigotry, which always struck me as strained if not outright dumb-assed. It just doesn't make any sense. On the level a superhero comic could embody inclusive values, those issues had been fought and won in popular culture for more than a decade before the X-Men re-launched. Even something as watered down, formulaic and ineffectual as art as The Jeffersons could be more to the point than X-Men on race. Also, as many have pointed out, being of a certain race isn't the same thing as being allowed to shoot ray beams out of your eyes, and the differences are more important than the similarities. A sexual orientation metaphor works better than race, but only slightly, and even then I think that's something that was about eight to ten years away from finding routine expression in the comics. An internationalist point of view never quite coalesces into anything and seems to fade over time.

If there was a metaphorical undertone to these X-Men comics, it was probably in fan self-identity. The New X-men were older and much more confident of their place in the world than the earlier team. So were the second generation of Marvel Comics readers. The original X-Men wanted to assimilate, while these X-Men wanted to be awesome and be appreciated for their awesomeness, and barring that left alone, much like older fans were less and less interested in anything other than the items of their preoccupation, and were suspicious of selling out, compromising, and giving in to a herd mentality. It's as that idea took hold with young people that the title's popularity grew, not the issues of bias, race and/or sex. Plus, you know: solid comic book.

*****

"Arcade, the World's Least Cost-Efficient Assassin" is swiped from Gil Roth

Addendum: The great Steven Grant writes in to say, "As far as I recall, from about the 'Hellfire Club' episodes of UNCANNY X-MEN on, it was Marvel's best-selling book, as a rule. The Claremont-Byrne run was incredibly popular, once it got going." I didn't think it ascended to Marvel's top book until a few years later, although it's worth noting the Hellfire Club sequence was the last year of the run we're talking about.
 
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Go, Read: Mother of Murderers

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Go, Look: Goblin Fish Press

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Go, Look: Every Person In New York

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Go, Read: Black Weather

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's an article with a lovely photo, from the Rory Root memorial over the weekend. I hope people are directed to that article rather than having the picture presented to them by people that ganked it.

* is it weird that so many people care whether or not Dan DiDio is fired or retained?

* Oni has signed an on-line comics production partnership. I wish I could say I wanted to see any of the comics they talk about, although admittedly I'm likely not the target audience.

image* is it just me, or does it seem like there's a lot of these kinds of projects right now?

* Quebecor World integrates.

* Steve Niles and Gary Panter to team up?

* the cartoonist Daniel Merlin Goodbrey has launched a new project.

* Gary Tyrrell notes that in the announcement that Wowio is going to be retooled under new ownership is a line that suggests their arrangements with content providers are among those elements to be retooled. This would be worth noting, as people have seemed generally happy with those arrangements to date, and one might infer that this would change in favor of a relationship that better served the corporate half of the relationship. It's an inference, mind you.

* here's another one of those comics trailers, this time for Therefore, Repent!.

* if I were in San Francsico, I'd go to this. If I were running the arts center, I'd use a web site that didn't freak out every second time you try to re-load it, too.

* Fantagraphics' next several months, including the line-up of interview and cover features at the Comics Journal, previewed via catalog.

* finally, I don't know enough about it to endorse this open call for submissions to a comics anthology, but I figure there's no harm in letting people know about it.
 
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Happy 31st Birthday, Tite Kubo!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Tom DeFalco!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Bob Weber Sr.!

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Quick hits
ComiXology
Shaenon Garrity: FCBD Edition
Shaenon Garrity: The Boys of Shojo Manga
Shaenon Garrity: The Girls of Shonen Manga
Karen Green: ... Mea Maxima Culpa
Tucker Stone: When Ignoring It Didn't Make It Go Away
Tucker Stone: That Time That Guy Wrote That Thing That Didn't Make Sense
Kristy Valenti: Peter O'Donnell Appreciation 01
Kristy Valenti: Peter O'Donnell Appreciation 02
Kristy Valenti: Emerald City Comicon 2008
Kristy Valenti: Professional Attire
Kristy Valenti: FCBD 2008
Kristy Valenti: Ai City 01Kristy Valenti: Ai City 02
 

 
June 25, 2008


This Isn’t A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

Here are the books that jump out at me from this week's probably mostly accurate 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 works listed here -- I might not buy any -- but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick up the following and look them over, potentially ending up in a fistfight with my retailer.

*****

MAR080227 DEMO TP (MR) $19.99
Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan's reputations-maker.

APR080166 FINAL CRISIS #2 (OF 7) $3.99
There's a good chance the series settles into place with this issue, given the level of creative talent involved. This presumes you have an interest on continuity-shattering, muscle-y comics in the first place. There's a preview here, but I only got four pages in before I suddenly screamed, "Somebody please hit somebody else!" and passed out.

APR082263 CAPTAIN AMERICA #39 $2.99
APR082264 DAREDEVIL #108 $2.99
APR082265 IMMORTAL IRON FIST #16 $2.99
The Iron Fist is the last issue from at least one of the original writing team of Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction (#15 was a solo Fraction effort, I think), so it will likely be the last issue a lot of people reading this blog that buy the series will purchase. I'm not really up on the other two solo Brubaker efforts -- I'm a few issues behind -- but they're well-liked mainstream American comic books and I enjoy them when I get a chance to buy them at my regional comic book shop/paintball supply store.

APR082276 MARVEL 1985 #2 (OF 6) $3.99
This series is out?

APR084320 PRINCE VALIANT PAGE DLX SGN SLIPCASED HC $39.95
APR084319 PRINCE VALIANT PAGE HC $29.95

I think I mentioned in April that they were doing a collection of the modern Prince Valiant stuff by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni, and I would guess this has to be it.

MAR083687 GOOD BYE HC (MR) $19.95
The third and I think final of D&Q's short-story collections from Yoshihiro Tatsumi (the next book will be a massive autobiography, and then I think it's a "we'll see" situation, I was genuinely struck by the obvious artistic development this work displayed. An excellent book, and certainly I would think the pick of the week.

APR083897 WHAT IF FANTASTIC FOUR TRIBUTE TO MIKE WIERINGO $4.99
A nice project paying tribute to the late, stylistically influential and all-around nice guy Mike Wieringo.

*****

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, that was on purpose. I want to see you fail.
 
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Congratulations, Eric and Rhea!

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that's one lucky kid
 
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Twelve Mostly Overlooked Comics Published In The Last Twelve Or So Years

The risk in naming a set number of comics as overlooked or under-appreciated is that every creator feels that their work should receive more attention that it has; in fact, at about noon today I plan to start deleting (without reading) the angry e-mails from those of you who think your book is more deserving than some of the following and feel the need to tell me so. With that in mind, here's a small sampling of good or otherwise interesting books that it seemed to me and maybe only to me were here and gone, or that never caught on, or that linger in my memory more than I've ever seen them being talked about, or that simply surprised me by being available. If any of them sound interesting to you, I encourage you to track them down.

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Angkor, Lorenzo Mattotti, Oog & Blik, soft cover, 110 pages, 9054920912 (ISBN10), $39.98.

Part of a large comics project that sent several excellent cartoonists to locations around the globe, Angkor drops Lorenzo Mattotti into the fabled 9th Century ruins. The great Italian artist and designer proceeds to do what he does best: re-imagine an evocative setting with color and shadow. It's narrative-light, but oh so beautiful. The version from Oog & Blik (mine's from Seuil) may include an English translation by Sophie Crumb. There are so few Mattotti books of any kind that one this good should not have flashed by unnoticed.

*****

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Apocalypse Meow Vols. 1-3, Motofumi Kobayashi, ADV Manga, 145 or so pages each, 1413900178 (ISBN10), 9781413900170 (ISBN13), 2004.

There are so many fine, undiscovered manga out there -- say Hideshi Hino's Hellbaby or even one of the same-period anthologies -- that would make me look so much more cool were I to mention them. I have to be honest here, though: when I found myself casting around for manga series to include on this list, I kept coming back to this three-volume story of prime-time artistic bizarreness. It's one thing to use animal stand-ins for human actors: there's a deep tradition of that in comics and in fantasy storytelling, and it allows for a level of visual identification and the ability to magnify the story's chief plot points that you can see why an author would go there. Where Apocalypse Meow gets weird is that despite scene after scene of bunnies acting in a hardboiled fashion, a creative choice that indicates straight-up satire, you begin to get the sense that Kobayashi's heart lies with drawing guns and equipment accurately, in providing a sense of core realism that honors the lives of those he's using to establish his narrative. It's like The Boys From Company C as played by the Muppets, only you keep waiting for a musical number that never arrives and Fozzy Bear gets capped before they get off the boat. Apocalypse Meow (its original title was the even better Cat Shit One) exudes loopy qualities from every pore in a way that makes it a time capsule of its historical moment, when translated manga seemed poised to take over the comics world no matter what the hell might be happening on the page.

*****

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Canicola #1-5, various, soft cover, 80 pages (#4: 192 pages), 2005-present.

If in the '90s you read Lapin to familiarize yourself with a generation of mostly French creators, you might want to start reading Canicola for the same experience with mostly young Italian cartoonists. Well-designed, subtitled in English and featuring artists such as Michelangelo Setola, Amanda Vahamaki and potential break-out talent Andrea Bruno, Canicola provides an almost impeccable anthology experience for the American reader wanting to see a bunch of new works and approaches in one convenient place. You'll feel cooler for owning a copy.

*****

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Cirkus New Orleans, Josh Simmons, Top Shelf, mini-comic format, 32 pages, January 2001, $10.

Josh Simmons' arrival announcement from seven years ago was a pitch-perfect, frequently hilarious exploration of life on the fringes of even semi-respectable society. Simmons' ability to inject himself into the story without impressing himself upon it remains a model of how to do memoir-style comics, and his artwork has a richness he wouldn't quite fold into a recurring style until the more recent Jessica Farm Vol. 1 and House. This iteration of that story is on its last legs publishing-wise, so snap one up if you can. I can't imagine my collection without it.

*****

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Comanche Moon, Jack Jackson, Reed Press, softcover, 128 pages, 9781594290039 (ISBN13), October 2003.

This was one of the efforts from Reed Press' abortive line of quality alt-comics reprints. It's not hard to find Comanche Moon in previous versions, which might be one of the reasons this edition didn't get over all that well sales-wise. There's no reason you as a reader should care. Jackson was an excellent cartoonist, one of the half-dozen most under-appreciated in comics history. This story of two generations of a Comanche family and and their relationships to the white settler communities with whom they each enjoy blood ties is a fine book, full of vigorous art and told with sympathy to human weakness no matter where it's found. I see Comanche Moon all the time in comics shop discount bins, and I can't imagine a better purchase of that type.

*****

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Jar of Fools (Revised Edition), Jason Lutes, Drawn and Quarterly, softcover, 152 pages, 9781896597720 (ISBN13), September 2003, $16.95.

I know some of you out there just did a spit take, but I'm mentioning Jason Lutes' first major work because 1) this was at one point one of the beloved books in alt-comics, 2) you almost never hear about it anymore, and 3) I somehow missed the fact that there was a brand-new edition five years ago.

*****

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New Love, Gilbert Hernandez, Fantagraphics, comic book, 1996-1997.

This series was totally nuts and hilarious, and if it had come out from a brand new cartoonist instead of springing from the prolific pen of Gilbert Hernandez right after the conclusion of Love & Rockets Volume One, we would have talked about nothing else for three or four years. Although it's anchored by several sweet and well-observed strips starring Hernandez' great Venus character, my memory of New Love lies mostly in the army of quality short strips it offers, work that barrels around the comics narrative landscape like a drunk in a pick-up doing donuts in an empty Wal-Mart parking lot. Most of this work was reprinted in Fear of Comics, but the format that flatters these comics most is the original comic book series. New Love was an inventive shot of energy onto the stands every few months, a kind of comic experience that may have since faded from existence.

*****

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Paris, Simon Gane and Andi Watson, SLG, softcover, 136 pages, 9781593620813 (ISBN13), August 2007, $10.95

This lovely romance combines an elegant and fairly straight-forward script by the hardworking Andi Watson and fascinating art by the vastly unrecognized Simon Gane. Gane's work manages to combine the smooth and luscious figure work that one would imagine might be a preferred strategy working in this genre with a kind of grainy funkiness that suggests the creep of old buildings and the bustle of lively crowd scenes better than maybe any other artist going could have accomplished. A deeply pleasurable comic to read, I think it may work best as comics (there was a four issue mini-series), but you'll probably have better luck with the collection.

*****

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Richard's Poor Almanac: 12 Months of Misinformation in Handy Cartoon Form, Richard Thompson, Emmis Books, soft cover, 176 pages, 1578601843 (ISBN10), 9781578601844 (ISBN13), November 2004.

The great, emerging star of this decade's newspaper strip scene, Richard Thompson hasn't stopped doing his Richard's Poor Almanac work in favor of spending more time getting Cul De Sac out. This collection of those works from a few years back shows that were he to abandon the Almanac for any reason it would be a total shame. Trenchant and exceedingly wry, this book may frighten if like me you realize that these comics have been around for as long as they have without your being aware of them.

*****

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Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret, Michael Kupperman, HarperCollins, soft cover, 128 pages, 9780380807901 (ISBN13), September 2000, $13.95.

This collection of Michael Kupperman's terrific Up All Night alt-weekly strips came out about 24-36 months before book publishers began to learn how to move such material through the bookstores and publicity landscape. It's a terrific book, full of laugh-out-loud moments as potent as any that have come from the cartoonist since. Up All Night is the last alt-newspaper strip over which I can remember my friends and I flipping out, asking each other multiple times if we'd seen that week's installment, repeating the jokes until every last bit of humor was wrung from the original idea. There are three or four people in my e-mail shortcuts list to whom I only have to say or write "Black Godfather of the Ants" to get them giggling. Kupperman should be a much bigger star than he is.

*****

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The Monster of Frankenstein, Dick Briefer, Idea Men Productions, softcover, 248 pages, 1419640178 (ISBN10), 9781419650179 (ISBN13), July 2006, $20.99.

This is a micro-publishing project that gets points because 1) these works are barely available and little seen, and 2) the project concentrates on Dick Briefer's horror-based work on the Frankenstein character rather than the slightly better known comedic material to follow. This is one of those projects that may later be supplanted by a publisher doing a fancier version, but until then, this will more than do.

*****

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US War Machine #1-12, Chuck Austen, Marvel Comics, comic books, 2001-2002, $1.50/each.

Maybe the craziest Marvel book ever, US War Machine is emblematic of that brief time in mainstream American comics when it seemed like a terrific idea for the major property-owning players to mess around with its second-tier characters by marching them through the violence, language and sexual implication wringer common to a TV show on HBO or Showtime. US War Machine was a cheaper-than-usual, black-and-white comic, done in a cartoonier-than-average style by reasonably well-liked cartoonist turned much-maligned superhero comics writer Chuck Austen. I can't say that this adventure of Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes overseeing an armored division of spy agency SHIELD is any good in any way, but US War Machine has an energy and feverish quality to it that you tend not to see in modern super-dupers. It reads more like a comic book a kid might dream up in the summer between digging up ants and throwing M80s in the water than it does a slick, professional product: more Stan Shaw than Terence Howard, if you know what I mean. There's no way in hell this comic would be done now, except maybe as an homage of the kind that occasionally sit up and beg for a film development check. Comics may not be artistically poorer for the lack of books like this one, but it's definitely a little less entertaining.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: The Eyes of Death

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OTBP: Typhon

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Go, Bookmark: Kate Beaton

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Go, Bookmark: Steve Hogan’s Keg Foam

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Go, Look: Gustave Henri Jossot

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the blogger Jeffrey Meyer is playing illustration detective again. Can you solve the mystery?

image* did I somehow completely miss the imminent arrival of a collection of Jack Survives? (Luckily, Nick Mullins didn't. Thanks, Nick.)

* the books downloading service Wowio, which made enough comics creators enough money they're happy to tell people they're making money, has apparently transferred hands and will shut down briefly to ensure the smoothest transition possible.

* the editorial cartoonist Jimmy Margulies has won his second consecutive Clarion Award.

* the New York Times runs a piece about the use of Comic-Con International as a place to hype movies, and points out that the economic impact on the city is less for Comic-Con than for other shows. Plus: comics fans = stinky. I think they're even quoting an article I wrote for the CCI magazine. I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised that CCI's patrons spend less in the city than pharma executives with huge reserves of cash, any more so than I bet there are gradations of differences in terms of outlay between various conventions doing Las Vegas. Anyone who's done a comics convention and a trade show knows you eat and drink more expensively at the trade show, without any exception of which I'm aware. My friend Gil just wrote me a note about several high-end restaurants he did during a San Diego BIO show in case I get the chance to try them, although we both know it's highly unlikely. I just don't get why those figures are relevant. Did anyone claim this not to be true? Is CCI somehow keeping these people from not doing their shows there on other weekends? Is San Diego so loaded now they can demand in backhanded fashion the equivalent of municipal bottle service from existing, long-running conventions?

* Newsarama begins a series on Tokyopop.

* the not-really-a-comics-company Platinum completes its heel turn on its one-time biggest public booster. Longtime industry observer Joey Manley comments.

* I enjoyed reading this.

* finally, I have several requests for Jim Borgman.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Daily Cross Hatch
Jessica Abel 01
Jessica Abel 02
Jessica Abel 03
Mike Allred 01
Mike Allred 02
Mike Allred 03
Mike Allred 04
Kevin Cannon 01
Kevin Cannon 02
Mike Mignola 01
Mike Mignola 02
Grant Morrison
Douglas Rushkoff, Scott McCloud
Gerard Way 01
Gerard Way 02
 

 
June 24, 2008


Hier kommt die Flut: Marvel Vs. DC

Chris Butcher builds a compelling case that Marvel is trying to weaken the release of the second issue of DC's Final Crisis by flooding the stands with material. I'm not sure I'm convinced -- I can't figure out how it really hurts DC to have people reading other comics this week if their comic is at least halfway decent (I'm not sure I've ever seen a short series capsize because of sell-through numbers), and it's always difficult to suggest that mainstream American comics companies have the smarts to do precise strikes like this. Still, if true it's really, really mean and it suggests that the companies could do a lot better in terms of having reasonable shipping schedules month to month. Plus it's nice to have a spotlight on the effects of flooding the market with product, because it's an industry practice that doesn't get enough attention. Butcher's also right in that it's the retailers who suffer.
 
posted 8:26 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Best Book You’re Not Reading; Maybe The Best Book About Comics Ever

It's come to my understanding that Bob Levin's Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester has been covered in only haphazard fashion in the press. I've also heard that Levin's personal appearances on the book's behalf have been lightly attended. I would like to encourage you to purchase and read Bob's book. It's quite good.

imageMost Outrageous is the story of Dwaine Tinsley, the cartoonist best known for his recurring Hustler panels featuring the character of Chester the Molester. He was also the Hustler cartoons editor for a time and a versatile cartoonist who worked a variety of markets. If you're not familiar with Tinsley's Chester work, you can imagine from the name and the platform the area of humor being explored. You can also probably guess how that work might be received in court were Tinsley himself to be accused of child molestation. This happened, and Levin examines the trial and its aftermath in unblinking yet sympathetic fashion.

Levin's work here and in The Comics Journal -- where he first started doing similar profiles -- can be described as criticism through autobiography. In Most Outrageous, Levin's willingness to plunge into the horror show that develops while all but openly hoping that he can eventually 100 percent confirm Tinsley's innocence proves to be a comforting boon during the reader's own journey through a story where a more measured approach might have been hellish to endure. Levin's exploration of the legal issues and personal consequences is unflinching, but where he goes further than I've ever seen anyone go on this particular subject is in his portrayal of the intimacy of certain relationships and our resulting inability to ever understand them the way the participants seem to. It's honest, bracing and idiosyncratic work exploring a thorny issue where almost everyone else pushes the matter away for a stab at some greater perspective. Bob Levin hugs it tight, and doesn't let go.

Most Outrageous is right up there with any book in comics form this year in terms of people at conventions and on-line grabbing my arm (or its virtual equivalent) and conveying "holy shit" astonishment. It's a smaller story than Levin's The Pirates and the Mouse; there's no seeing entire generations clash on specific values the way that book allowed. There's nothing as humorous here as Levin's encounters with S. Clay Wilson or Jack Katz in the admirable Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & Pirates. I understand why Most Outrageous might have a difficult time finding an audience. I just don't find those reasons acceptable. I'm not sure that at the end of Most Outrageous you know anything that can be easily transported into other areas of your life or folded into your more general views of how the world works. It's something that happened to one family, and one that's probably not like yours at all. And yet there are moments that I keep running through my head some four months after I first finished Bob Levin's terrific book. If you can stand it, you really should read it. I give it my highest recommendation.

*****

* Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester, Bob Levin, Fantagraphics Books, softcover, 204 pages, 9781560979197 (ISBN13), May 2008, $19.95

*****
*****
 
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Go, Read: Return of the Werewolf

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Go, Look: Pages Of Astounding Wolfman Original Art By Jason Howard

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Go, Look: Jack Davis Werewolf Ad

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Go, Read: Werewolf By Night Analysis

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Go, Read: A Werewolf Tale

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Heidi MacDonald speculates on Tim Hodler's frowny face from HeroesCon; Hodler offers the hint of an explanation and some background on what he was thinking at the time.

image* Paul Gravett writes on propaganda and the superhero.

* the NCS is helping to sponsor an overseas trip for several of its members to visit wounded soldiers in military hospitals.

* on being plagiarized.

* finally, the Association des Journalistes et des Critiques de bande dessinee (ACBD) has released a summer 2008 essential reading list, going back to November 2007 to name 20 of the 2200 books published during that period. Included are Exit Wounds, Breakdowns (which Art Spiegelman released in France before the English-language edition planned for later this year), and Linda Medley's Castle Waiting.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Alan Zelenetz!

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Russ Maheras!

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Jerry Bingham!

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Hudson Phillips
* Three Things the Comics Industry Gets Right.
* Comics' Readers Bill of Rights still relevant?
* Changing the Female Face of Comics.
* How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Continuity.
* The Writer's Guide to Creating a Comic Book (From Concept to Publishing) in 5 Easy Steps.
* Top 5 Comic Book Podcasts.
 

 
June 23, 2008


The Last Great American Comic-Con—50+ Thoughts on HeroesCon 2008

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I'll add to this over the next few days as my ability to process information and get it on-line improves, and will provide more links as well. Until then, here are some initial thoughts on the weekend just past, spent at HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina.

* In general, HeroesCon is as advertised: a classic American comic-book convention with a ton of friendly people and appreciative crowds. People kept saying "It's like San Diego [x-number of] years ago," which seemed reasonably apt: mainstream comics-driven, significant indy presence, families in attendance, mostly group socializing... I enjoyed myself quite a bit.

* I should probably mention: I spent a week in Chicago working before heading down to Charlotte. Chicago's a pretty great comics town, not because of the practitioners or institutions that call it home, but because it has a great, natural audience for the form. That's resulted in great shops, a traditionally well-attended con, Bill Mauldin and Jeff MacNelly as editorial cartoonists in the last half-century and Chris Ware for free once a week or so since 1991. Visiting the city with big shoulders and its great comics shops is a nice way to move into convention-going mode.

* As for the trip itself, air travel isn't impossible... yet. It's just harder now, something to which you have to pay attention whereas ten years ago you might have been able to take it for granted when making con plans. In 1999, I flew from Seattle to an SPX for $138 round trip. Those days are gone, and now there's not just the sick thrill of maybe or maybe not getting a semi-cheap fare but a growing certainty you won't. I can't imagine this won't have a bleeding-from-the-gut effect on how people approach convention-going for the next few years. As a regional con with a national audience, particularly in terms of professionals, HeroesCon may feel this more than most.

* I took my brother to snap photos. Everyone was nice to him. Everyone in Charlotte was nice, period.

* We were greeted at the airport by a volunteer couple whose names I can no longer remember, driving a white van festooned with Heroes decorations. On the way in we talked about Charlotte as a place to live, as a banking center, as a city that has been suffering drought. It's a much nicer way to head into a convention weekend than some of the bizarre conversations you end up having with cab drivers in San Diego and and New York.

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* Charlotte has one of those petite downtowns that's still more of a place where people work than where people live. For instance, there wasn't a big grocery store within shouting distance of convention-going central, at least not one I could find. You could also pretty much walk in the center of the streets once it got past midnight. Very clean, very much under construction (with some of those condos), and featuring a lot of public art.

* The convention center was flanked by the two convention hotels, the Westin and the Hilton. The Westin is the more traditional convention home and the one where the vast majority of pros seemed to be staying. I was over at the Hilton. They weren't very far apart, and the ability to run back to the hotel from the con floor was a huge bonus given how tough this is in every case but a few hotels when in San Diego.

* The Hilton was a quality hotel despite a few grumpy user reviews on the travel sites. It gave off that slight hint of defensive attitude that makes me think it has taken to heart the criticism it may not be totally worth what one might expect from such a fancy-looking place. I had no complaints. Free business center Internet, cheap Y memberships, comfortable beds, big TVs... I liked it just fine.

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* On Thursday night, we ate at one of the recommended restaurants, Lupie's Cafe. It was stuffed with locals and featured a no-nonsense wait staff, diabetes-inducing iced tea, and excellent comfort food. We could have ordered only our shared appetizer and had enough to eat. The eating was mostly good in Charlotte, although a few more restaurants and a bit more in terms of casual, year-in, year-out familiarity with same in the immediate area might have been welcome. It was hard to switch gears, if you know what I mean. I ate a meal in a small soul and southern food restaurant about three blocks away from the convention center which was just fine and that seemed a place reasonably popular with con guests.

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* After Lupie's, we decided to walk the 2.5 miles back into town in the hopes of not feeling like we had distended bellies when we went to sleep that night. It was very pretty out. The avenue was filled with occasional, sudden nature scenes like the one above. People were on their porches, although the homes for sale seemed to be running in the $350K range which didn't really support the Taylor Family vibe the neighborhood gave off. We walked past a baseball game. It felt like summer.

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* By accident we trudged past the Heroes Aren't Hard To Find retail location. I can't remember the last time I walked by a comics store by accident.

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* Heroes was a much better store than I thought it would be. I'd seen photos, but they emphasized the impressive Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus ceiling sculpture, which did not prepare me for the assault of product the above photo might hint at. It was really, really well-stocked. Best of all, it seemed like they were doing a ton of regular business for a Thursday night. I thought it would be a good store, but it seemed like a model one to me in a lot of ways.

* One of the old-school touches HeroesCon offers is that there's a centralized social hub that doesn't yet feel overwhelming or scary: the lobby bar at the Westin. This meant a lot of cross-group interaction. At one table in the corner on Saturday night, for instance, about 1 AM, I saw an indy comics publisher, a well-established indy comics cartoonist, a popular mainstream comics writer, an up-and-coming mainstream comics writer and popular blogger, a newer indy comics publisher, a painter/cartoonist, a hardcore well-respected arts comics publisher, a cartoonist with about two books under his belt, and an absolute Hall of Fame alt-comics legend. It was nice, although there was a bit of sameness to the evening's activities by the end of the weekend, even with satellite events.

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* As you can see, the Hilton has a ways to go to compete with the Westin in terms of its bar as a social hub.

* I met the mysterious Ben McCool. McCool seemed to have an effective con strategy worked out, consisting mostly of staying in his room, drinking, and watching the Euro 2008 soccer quarterfinals. I appreciated the reports, though, like the emotional collapse of a Romanian team that lost on penalty kicks after leading with less than a minute to go: "It was maybe the most unmanly thing I've ever seen."

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* Either Colleen Doran actually brought produce to the show for people to eat, or she curses in a food-centric, euphemism-filled language I can only hope to one day understand.

image* Friday morning at the show was weird because the Internet crackled to life that day with rumors of big, impending news at DC Comics, which given the shape and nature of last week's reported performance of Final Crisis #1 made many speculate that Dan DiDio was out. In actuality, this was to be the confirmation that John Nee had resigned. Speculation remained high all weekend that there were more announcements to come this week -- maybe they've already happened as you read this. Since people were asking me and I think I may actually have negative contacts in mainstream comics right now, I can assume it's a) of high interest, b) potentially big, c) still a mystery to a lot of folks exactly what, if anything, may happen.

* Here's a rundown of DiDio's recent performance that doesn't flatter DC's last several months.

* Two comics professionals working the mainstream side of the business commented to me that given last week's tough news regarding sales figures and at least one freelance personnel issue at the company that generated some on-line heat, DiDio was admirably focused, upbeat and enthusiastic in his dealings with folks at the show. He ran the DC Nation panel.

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* If there's anything better than starting your walk to a show by seeing a trio of tiny cub scouts walking down the street holding hands, I don't know what it is.

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* The convention center seemed like a nice facility with multiple meeting halls and the ability to take on the convention and few wedding and graduation events without much conflict. The convention hall itself is set into the floor; you descend an escalator to get there, and it's fairly large. It looked a little bigger to me than pictures of Emerald City ComiCon; it was maybe the size of the first couple of Wizard World Chicago shows...? Twelve aisles in all, I think, left to right, about 15-20 exhibitors front to back.

* I am all for all cons everywhere hiring a bunch of older security ladies that cackle and then threaten to beat you every time they can't see your badge.

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* Registration seemed fine and steady, never overwhelming, much like attendance. Everything seemed to be tackled registration-wise with a crackling, homespun alacrity. My experience, anyway.

* The crowd was really old-school, too. Not a ton of costumes, but those that were on-hand seemed to please many of the convention-goers. It was mostly male, but not overwhelmingly so. A lot of superhero t-shirts. Several families that seemed actively involved rather than some members dragged along.

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* It seemed like a great place to shop. Not only was there a ton of new material on hand from various individual artists and publishers that covered a wide array of comics approaches, not only was there a ton of original art (Roger Langridge! Jaime Hernandez! Richard Thompson!) but there was an avalanche of discounted comic book material. I saw so many cartoonists showing off their finds -- everything from Little Lulu to Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen comics to strange 1980s black and white books to late '60s Marvels -- many of which were had for a dollar or less. I could have dropped $2K in there easy just in discount comic books.

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* It also seemed like an extremely tough place to sell art comics. Business at the three big hardcore art comics locations -- PictureBox, Bodega Distribution (pictured above) and Buenaventura Press -- was gallows-humor-inducing slow all weekend. AdHouse and Sparkplug did a bit better. Marc Arsenault's Wow Cool did very little business. Top Shelf seemed to do OK, but maybe only OK, and they've built up an audience over several years of attendance. Individual indie-island sellers ranged all over the place in terms of being able to attract buyers.

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* this is the first of 14 pictures I have of Dan Nadel (of PictureBox, Inc.) where he doesn't have his eyes closed.

* Apparently, Chris Staros has been on the road for something like 11 weeks in a row.

* It's hard to say what could be done to goose this aspect of sales. Attending a bunch of conventions in a row seemed to be one answer, but not everyone can afford to do that and take multiple hits to build that kind of audience. It may also be that the natural audience for things like Goddess of War or an over-sized Charles Burns art book just doesn't think in terms of being able to go to a comics show to find that stuff. I think one thing that might be done is to maybe explicitly organize sales of remaining stock directly to retailers in the area in attendance.

* By the way, you really need to buy Goddess of War.

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* I moderated a bunch of panels that were recorded and will be up at The Dollar Bin. I'll do a separate post when that happens and when I'm able to get to the site myself. But right now some quick notes.

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* Panel one: for me, the highlight of Covering Comics: Criticism, Reportage and Gossip seemed to be a discussion of a a growing schism between sites that feel they must work within the industry they cover and maybe pay the price for doing so and those that opt for a more traditional, maybe confrontational and maybe as a result removed from a lot of the discussion model. Another thing I found interesting is that Matt Brady of Newsarama noted the growing sophistication of the big comics companies as media companies, and a growing tendency to want to break publishing news through their own on-line outlets.

* I really liked asking Matt Brady questions; I had never met him, at least not that I could recall. I was also impressed with the no-bullshit approach to many of the questions the Creative Loafing guy evinced; I can't remember his name, either, because I am old. I'm told it's Carlton Hargro! Anyway, he was really good.

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* Tim Hodler of Comics Comics later told me that he tried to keep people from being able to read his disappointment if not slight dismay over the direction of the conversation during the journalism/criticism panel. On behalf of everyone in comics, I'd like to invite Mr. Hodler to attend poker night any time he wants.

* That might be my favorite picture from the show, incidentally.

* Panel two: I'd never done a State of the Industry panel with mainstream comics personalities before, and what fascinated me about that was the mix of confidence and admitted self-doubt regarding whether or not the instincts of 45-year-old men was always right on when it came to providing entertainment for people much younger than that. It was interesting to see a couple of them confront an audience member who complained about spoilers by simply telling him to turn his computer off. DiDio answered the question about DC's rough week by noting the overall competitiveness of the market right now, and admitting some of the inherent difficulties of working with decades-old icons in terms of keeping them new and familiar.

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* Mark Waid and Jimmy Palmiotti are both very funny. Watching them work a panel is like watching a stand-up routine from someone like Dom Irrera. Waid seemed the most enthusiastic of all the panelists in terms of getting his company's work on-line.

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* Panel three: I greatly, greatly enjoyed meeting and talking to Richard Thompson, of Cul De Sac, although I wish there were more than seven other people equally excited enough to make the trip upstairs! Thompson said that Cul De Sac launched with 75 clients and is now, less than a year in, at 125. He suggested that a future area of exploration for the strip may be in roping in a few more kids of Petey's size. He joked about the high concept of the strip being a family that mostly likes each other, although in a later aside he hit on what it's really about, I think, the way that parents look at kids and kids look at their parents and the world. He shared a memory that in the neighborhood where he grew up, he knew which houses had water faucets where you could get a drink of water, and how that's not exactly knowledge you keep handy when you're an adult.

* The Cul De Sac collection coming in September will contain 30-40 of the strip's previous iteration as a Washington Post-only feature to fill out the volume. He also said that that book's foreword writer, Bill Watterson, made contact with him by e-mailing him. That's a fairly terrifying name to have pop up in your inbox.

* you're reading his blog, right?

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* Roger Langridge is funny.

* I hadn't seen Mike Rhode in ten years; hadn't seen Marc Arsenault in a dozen.

* Panel four: The Creative Households panel on Friday was a lot of fun: well-attended, too, with nary a bail-out. Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer's daughter kept hitting the microphone like it was bongos, which made everyone laugh. Dorkin got some comedic mileage out of people accidentally cursing in front of his kid. Stuart and Kathryn Immonen were interesting in that they had been working together for a bit longer than the other couples, I think, and seemed more assured in terms of negotiating the time commitments that arise to dictate the working hours and such. The Immonens also may have told the most brutal credit-dropping story of all time.

* Panel five: a few people told me afterwards that The New Art Comics made them fired up to buy more alternative and arts comics, so I guess that's a good thing. There was a lot of discussion about the difficulties of cracking the current comic shop market beyond "the good ten stores." There was also much discussion of the heated, recent debate over the $125 Kramer's Ergot #7, which I never quite understood as an item of controversy (Xerox pages even at 35 percent of natural size looked gorgeous; that book should kill). Sammy Harkham was very funny and articulate. All three panelists were.

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* Panel six: the comics writer Matt Fraction later told me he thought the Collaboration and Storytelling in Today's Comics panel was the best he'd ever been on. It was a good one, which made me feel better because I struggle with the mainstream American comics-related panels. Through the help of some audience questions, we were able to cover a wide range of collaborative relationships, up to and including the kind of line-wide planning with multiple creators that goes into a crossover event -- Fraction had a killer line about how having to deal with one of those things when you're not invited to the initial planning session was like dancing to music you could sort of hear in the room next to yours. The panel ended with the various folks telling stories about how they quit their day jobs. Darwyn Cooke's was devastating, so go listen to it when it's up.

image* I'd never met Cliff Chiang before that panel (nor Barry Kitson, both of whom were great). I was stumped as to whether he's the only editor at a comics company to ever quit to then establish a career as a comic book artist, as opposed to an artist that becomes an editor or an editor that leaves to write.

* Panel seven: Conversations: Evan Dorkin and Jaime Hernandez was the only panel of mine not recorded because of scheduling conflicts, but it was maybe my favorite of the show. Jaime told stories about trying to build his style as a young artist, including saying that Moebius was the last influence he brought into his art and that if you check Love and Rockets #1 you can see flourishes like Moebius' in there. Dorkin made a funny joke about feeling like a Mole Man minion on a panel with Galactus, and also lamented the comic book format, particularly for humor cartoonists. I had a great time at that one.

* Panel eight: the Webcartoonist panel was interesting to me because I get the sense that a lot of the same questions are asked at a lot of these panels and it's increasingly difficult to answer them with any certainty. One item of agreement seemed to be that doing a good comic is the best marketing tool, and that should come well before any thought of monetizing it, or trying to do so. Julia Wertz killed me when I asked the panelists if they felt their audience got to know them and root for them to succeed, and she said she felt that people got to know her a bit and were now rooting for her to fail.

* Panel nine: religious-themed panels are always tough, I think because audience members have very different ideas over what such panels should cover. Plus I'm kind of a mushmouth. Happily, I think this panel would make the best transcript of all the ones I was lucky to do, as Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga talked in forthright fashion about dealing with such issues in their art. Both were adamant they didn't want to proselytize or even represent their own viewpoints in their work as much as allow their characters to explore what they feel and think. Huizenga mentioned that he heard back about "Jeepers Jacobs" that it helped allow some of his friends on either coast to understand the mindset of someone with religious beliefs. Sammy Harkham talked about observing Hasidic practice without really embracing Jewish culture on the same, involved level.

* I'm so not used to buying comics that I nearly walked away with one I bought from Hope Larson without paying. Sorry, Hope! The recipient loves the book.

* I had coffee with Heidi MacDonald of The Beat on Sunday morning. An acquaintance told me later that seeing the two of us chatting together "totally freaked" him out.

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* I don't know who this guy is, but that's an awesome picture. (Several of you subsequently wrote in to say it's Kevin Mellon).

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* I also liked this one of Robert Kirkman. A young man talked to me about how generous Robert Kirkman was in his interaction with his fans, particularly new ones, being really solicitous of them and even making a gift of certain collections to one or two as the opportunities arose.

* It sounds stupid, but on some level I was sort of heartened to hear people talk about Kirkman's Walking Dead this weekend as a comic to emulate, because frequently there's an aversion to emulating anything in comics except for really crass trends.

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* Some of the pros, like Frank Santoro and Alex Robinson here, are getting good enough at the media game they know that an interesting photo can be had by not looking directly into the camera.

* If there's anything more nerdy and fun than listening to Frank Santoro expound on the damage that photo referencing and Photoshop effects have done to American comic books, I don't know what it is.

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* Josh Cotter drawing in his notebook, which "only got a little wet" during a Saturday downpour when many were caught outside on their way up College to the art auction.

* There seemed to be a ton of sketching and sketch sales at the show, although maybe I'm just now noticing how popular that is. I swear it's different now than it was 10 years ago, though; I'm not sure why. It's not quite to the level of European shows and their super-elaborate sketches -- and of course many of the sketches are bought and sold and/or commissioned -- but it's getting there.

* Speaking of the art auction, Dustin Harbin is an awesome sight to behold in his white, pinstripe suit working the crowd like it's a camp revival.

* If there was a book of the show, it probably came out from Gold Key in 1966.

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* I had a long talk with Chris Duffy at the art auction. He described Al Feldstein (I think that's him above) as the "ultimate editor," because he got such great work out of someone else's project, which is an interesting perspective. I got to meet Jim Scancarelli, who apparently can see the convention center from his home but hadn't been over in a few years. Irwin Hasen, Nick Cardy and the great Herb Trimpe were among other over-60 folks on hand.

* "I lost my credit card... and Brian Ralph!" was probably the funniest late night line I heard.

* My thanks to Andrew Mansell for taking such good care of me and helping make sure people got to their panels on time. I hope he survived the weekend's stresses OK. All of the volunteers and the youthful Shelton Drum himself were extremely pleasant people.

* I heard that two academics were working on Jack Kirby biographies. I think they should pick partners, jump in a pool and have a chicken fight to decide on only one book.

* I was greatly appreciative of how many of you came up to say hi and that you liked the site. That was awesome, thank you.

* People were already talking about Jeff Smith's appearance at the 2009 show.

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* As always, Bob Beerbohm endures.

*****

photos by Whit Spurgeon

*****
*****
 
posted 9:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
31 Days Until Comic-Con International

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Strangeways Flickr Set

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Go, Read: The Howling Hunters

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Go, Read: Man-Wolf Flashback

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Go, Read: Werewolf Blood On My Hands

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Go, Read: Beast Of Skeleton Island

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* in case you missed it and the updated news story on this site, former comics retailer and convention organizer Michael George was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, for crimes related to the murder of his then-wife in 1990.

* more on the Mike Wieringo scholarship.

* there's a comic in the new publication RiseUp.

* and why hasn't a steady habit of lifting boxes given us a class of retailing supermen?

* Brian Hibbs points out that DC isn't just losing ground at the top of the marketplace.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Zoran Janjetov!

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Daada Books
* Hans Nissen: Acme Novelty Library #18
* Hans Nissen: Borgtron
* Marko Turunen: Amanda Vahamaen haastattelu
* Pedro Moura: Acme Novelty Library #16
* Pedro Moura: Batman: Year 100
* Pedro Moura: Kirby. King of Comics
* Pedro Moura: La Musique du Dessin, Le Chant Des Baleines
* Pedro Moura: MOME
* Pedro Moura: Monologues for the Coming Plague
* Pedro Moura: Outlaws, Rebels...
* Pedro Moura: Poulet aux Prunes
* Pedro Moura: Pride of Baghdad
* Pedro Moura: Spaniel Rage
* Pedro Moura: Teratoid Heights
* Pedro Moura: The Filth
* Pedro Moura: Unlikely
* Pedro Moura: Yuichi Yokoyama
* Taito Lansmans: King Nosmo
 

 
June 22, 2008


CR Sunday Interview: Robert Greenberger

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*****

Preceding both the summer movie and Christmas gift-giving seasons, I seem to always receive a few review copies for books that exist to support comics and movie properties. I received a pair this summer: one for Iron Man and one for Batman. Essential Batman Encyclopedia is basically what it sounds like: a listing of names and settings described in prose form, an almost-terrifying barrage of past adventures both big and small in summary form. Because they seem to be a significant part of fan culture stretching back thirty or forty years, I always wondered how projects like these came together. I wrote the author Robert Greenberger to ask. Greenberger is a long-time veteran of the mainstream American comics industry, probably best known for high-profile gigs with Comics Scene magazine (in its first incarnation) and at DC Comics in the general orbit of their reprints department. He describes himself accurately as a journalist and entertainment writer with an interest in comics. He's also well-known to many for his commentary, which stretches beyond comics and industry issues into local politics and personal matters such as the treatments his son Robbie has been receiving for cancer. I enjoyed talking to him about this project and various, related issues.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Can you talk about the parameters of this project and its publishing origins? This is part of a series with Del Rey, if I remember correctly.

BOB GREENBERGER: All I know is that DC Comics and Del Rey started talking about this project back in the winter of 2006. I first heard about it that February at the " title="NY Comic Con">NY Comic Con but wasn't formally offered the project until September, which goes to show you how long it takes to sign a deal between companies.

SPURGEON: Do you know how they settle on you as the author?

GREENBERGER: I gather both Del Rey and DC thought of me as an option. No one ever explained the details but since I know the players at both companies, I guess I was a natural candidate.

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SPURGEON: This is one of those books where the more you read it the more you may become astonished concerning the level of peculiar detail. Can you describe in as explicit a fashion as you can stand your work process on something like this? For instance, is it all index cards?

GREENBERGER: The first thing I was asked to do was create a master character list. We started with the Michael Fleisher Encyclopedia [The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes Volume One: Batman, Collier Books, 1976] as the base then I began adding in the characters introduced since then. To accomplish this, I must admit I used every on line resource I could think of, following link to link until I had a master list. DC then asked me to sub-categorize them into new and old entries, heroes, villains, equipment, locations and the like.

Once everyone signed off, I had to start researching and reading. To be honest, there was a lot of cutting and pasting from web sources just to get a lot of the facts in one place in addition to reading or rereading stories in order to get the flavor and tone right. While the research and assemblage occurred from A to Z, when it the research was done, I then sat and plowed through it from A forward with the exception of Batman himself, which I wrote last.

About six or eight letters in, I sat down for a course correction meeting with my editor Chris Cerasi, his boss, Steve Korte, and their colleague John Morgan. We talked about what was working, what wasn't working and how to adjust to improve clarity and conciseness. By then it was also obvious that the 200,000 word assignment was ludicrous so we agreed I'd write and they'd figure out how to handle the package.

I turned in the final chapters in August 2007 and spent the fall picking graphic recommendations and answering queries from the editor, copy editor and designers. I reviewed the copy-edited manuscript in December and then read galleys in February. The final work was writing captions for the two color sections in April and then we closed the book.

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SPURGEON: You mention in your acknowledgments that you have a memory for Batman that's different than your son's. Did you find yourself favoring those periods in Batman's publication history for which you have a specific affection? How did you avoid playing favorites?

GREENBERGER: Good question. Fortunately, the era I grew up, Julie Schwartz's New Look, featured the return of the Rogues' Gallery plus new villains like Cluemaster and Blockbuster. All of these have continued to play major roles in the Batman comics ever since so there was little chance of playing favorites. What was tougher was doing justice to each would-be criminal mastermind and alien menace from the preceding decade. So many were non-descript and came and went with little impact. I honestly just wrote what I could about everyone and let the space fill naturally.

SPURGEON: How do you think the book is different for your involvement as opposed to an otherwise equally knowledgeable writer? Is there something about your sense of this character and his accumulated story that might be different than another person's?

GREENBERGER: I'm a trained journalist and experienced writer and editor who happens to love comic books. Say someone who wrote the Batman comic wrote this book. Their approach might not be as easy given the different writing training and experience. Having read the titles continuously since 1964 means I've read it for over half its run which gives me a good global perspective. I also can easily explain the parallel worlds and put each era into perspective which helps a great deal to the book's clarity.

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SPURGEON: Where did the decision come from to be explicit in terms of referencing the continuity changes in brought about by the Crisis series? I'm not certain I've ever seen an official DC Comics product that was so matter of fact about where in the character's reality-shifting past each story took place. Did that add a level of difficulty to completing this work?

GREENBERGER: The decision was there from the outset, that this had to be an encyclopedia for today's readership, one that is familiar with every Crisis and continuity re-set. But it also had to be comprehensible to the more casual reader. It added a level of difficulty in terms of making clear which event caused which changes. I find it interesting that in Grant Morrison's approach to Batman, every story actually happened to this Batman as opposed to sloughing off years worth of stories and relegating them to pre-Crisis continuity. That to me is tough to swallow.

SPURGEON: Can you talk a bit about John Wells, and what he did for the book? My understanding is that Wells is one of those people out there with a very thorough and specific base of comics knowledge, the kind of guy that all writers about comics access sooner or later. How is the book different if not for John Wells?

GREENBERGER: John graciously shared with me his comprehensive list of DC characters and their appearances. As a result, he broke them down by Earth-1, Earth-2, etc. and every variant under the sun. It was those lists that helped me identify all the parallel worlds list in the Absolute JLA/Avengers project and I was happy to have his help.

There came times when I could not for the life of me identify where an event occurred, such as Martha Wayne's social work and John was able to point me in a direction. Without him, and his lifelong research, I would have spent months more in basic researching and no doubt would have missed bits and pieces. As a beta reader, he pointed out where I garbled facts or missed something.

He remains the greatest underutilized resource for DC. Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid and I have repeatedly tried to have his work purchased by the company and have him put on some sort of retainer but it has never worked.

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SPURGEON: From your perspective as a former collected editions editor, what are the best aspects about this decade's sustained interest in collections? Are there any less agreeable aspects to that end of the industry? Granted the full powers of Reprint Emperor, is there anything you'd do to steer that corner of the market differently?

GREENBERGER: The best aspects is that material from the last 65+ years is finally seeing the light of day to address the interests of fans of all ages. Just this week, I read how Fantagraphics was going to collect Wash Tubbs. How cool is that? DC and Marvel are finally mining the stories that proved influential or just plain fun to different generations. One of the collections I was most challenged to assemble and happiest with the results was the Greatest Imaginary Stories volume.

The less agreeable aspects is that there are so many stories from so many eras coming out that feature the same characters that the collections from DC and Marvel really need more introductory context so people understand what they're reading and why the collection exists.

As Reprint Emperor, I would probably try and come up with more comprehensive designs per character or imprint to make the spines more in harmony to make it easier for readers to find what they're looking for. I'd also play with formats from digests to discs.

imageSPURGEON: What's more contentious: the fictional politics of Gotham City, the behind the scenes machinations at your average giant comics company or the Fairfield political scene?

GREENBERGER: Funny! The politics of Gotham has a great consequence as they affect eight million people as opposed to Fairfield's 58,000 or a publishing company of 200. All provide great fodder for storytelling, though.

SPURGEON: Bob, to my recollection you've been living the freelance life for a while now since your departure from DC. With all the publishing interest in comics right now, have you been approached or tempted to jump back into the industry on that side of things?

GREENBERGER: Actually, Tom, I left DC and spent a year at Weekly World News until it went belly-up last August. I'm about to celebrate my first anniversary as a full-time freelancer and so far, so good. Since then, I have rarely been far from comics and have consulted for some company's, written for others. Am I tempted to go back to a full-time staff job? Sometimes I do think wistfully of the camaraderie found in an office. Since no one has made me a full-time offer, I also recognize that while I have things to offer, either right fit isn't there or they want people younger and cheaper. The last year has also taught me to never say never.

SPURGEON: Your family has been open about discussing the cancer treatments your son Robbie has been going through. What has the experience of being open about something so private been like for your family? For those who haven't followed your blog updates, how are things in general?

GREENBERGER: Robbie is completing his fifth and final round this coming week and then we await word if the entire course of treatment has been successful. We, and the doctors, are cautiously optimistic.

Writing about it gave me an outlet and allowed me to communicate with friends, colleague and family in a way that saved me the time of answering countless e-mails for months at a time. I fell into the Saturday updates and it allows me the time to reflect and gather my thoughts about where we've been and let's me share how proud I am of what he has endured. I never would have done it without his permission and he also saw it as a way to keep his own circle of friends apprised especially the weeks he wasn't up to much of anything more strenuous than Animal Planet.

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SPURGEON: I've always wanted to ask someone who worked there -- what was your Weekly World News experience like?

GREENBERGER: Wild and chaotic and even more seat-of-your pants than Marvel under Bill Jemas. Our editor-in-chief Jeff Rovin would have us shoehorn in new stories the day before we were due on press. Our publishers sometimes changed their minds and wanted an entirely new cover story produced in two or three days. Yet, we got it down to a system where four of managed to edit, proof, layout and design the 48-pages every week without break too much of a sweat. The articles and columns rolled in, got scheduled and printed and we never had to stay late -- okay, maybe once or twice. We were all incredibly optimistic at the newspaper fortunes as licensing deals were getting signed and we were reshaping the magazine for new audiences and then we got canceled, largely because I don't think AMI ever understood the value of the brand until the week the news broke. It was an incredible delight and a heck of a lot of fun.

imageSPURGEON: if I remember correctly, you first worked close to comics with the first iteration of the magazine Comics Scene, which was a national distributed newsstand magazine about comics. First, what stands out the most about that experience? Do you feel you were ahead of your time? Second, how do you feel about the current state of publications that cover comics?

GREENBERGER: At 23, to create and edit something like that was amazing and certainly reassuring I was in the right field. Clearly, the magazine was ahead of the curve and had it debuted in 1986 when Crisis and Dark Knight and Watchmen
got comics a lot of attention, it might have thrived and remained in business. It was fun finding the balance between comics in the media, comic strips, new stuff, old stuff and what might be breaking news when my only competition back then was CBG.

The publications covering comics today are as reliant on the media incarnations as I was but I think they play favorites more, both with their personal interests and with whatever exclusive deals they could cut with a publisher. CBG is still hanging in there but clearly its time has passed and Wizard's day seems to be coming to an end, too. The real news and information about comics are the online sites and there are plenty for people to pick from for news, reviews and interviews so in many ways, it's never been a better time to be a fan since the information is a click or two away.

imageSPURGEON: What's next, Bob?

GREENBERGER: A few weeks back, I helped re-launch Famous Monsters of Filmland as a web-based magazine and have been its sole writer until some revenue pours in. Next week my novelization of Hellboy II: The Golden Army hits the bookstores. I continue to do project management for Jordan Gorfinkel's Avalanche Comics Entertainment, notably the web comic strip we produce for Microsoft. I've also completed young adult non-fiction projects on Christina Aguilera, Deserts, Early People of the arctic and Subarctic and the Bataan Death March.

Future projects include something and not-yet-announced new for DC, something and not-yet-announced new for Del Rey.

*****

* cover to the new volume
* Batman's modern Rogue's Gallery
* Blockbuster
* one of the early Batman periods Greenberger folded into his reality-spanning book
* the Greatest Imaginary Stories cover art
* Gotham City
* the best newspaper there ever was
* later issue of Comics Scene
* Greenberger's next book

*****

* Essential Batman Encyclopedia, Robert Greenberger, Random House Publishing Group, soft cover, 9780345501066 (ISBN13), 496 pages, June 2008, $29.95

*****
*****
 
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Five Link A Go Go

* go, read: Phil Seuling and the Early New York Conventions 01

* go, read: Phil Seuling and the Early New York Conventions 02

* go, read: Phil Seuling and the Early New York Conventions 03

* go, read: Phil Seuling and the Early New York Conventions 04

* go, read: Phil Seuling and the Early New York Conventions 05
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Eric Reynolds!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Kevin Fagan!

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First Thought Of The Day

Still too soon down here for Rae Carruth jokes.
 
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June 21, 2008


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

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If I Were In Berkeley, I’d Go To This

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from June 14 to June 20, 2008:

1. Al Qaeda renews threat of terrorist action on Danish soil because of 2005 Muhammed caricatures.

2. The second issue of Marvel's Secret Invasion series crushes the DM sales on the first issue of Final Crisis.

3. Ali Dilem found guilty on defamation charges in Algeria.

Winner Of The Week
Marvel Comics

Loser Of The Week
DC Comics

Quote Of The Week
"The Reuben Awards, held on Saturday night at the Ritz banquet hall, are a black-tie affair; it's the first industry award I've attended where a Hawaiian shirt wasn't considered dressing up." -- Shaenon Garrity

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Hillman Publications
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Steve Niles!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Berke Breathed!

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June 20, 2008


Friday Distraction: Cowboy Comics

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Heroes Con Opens With Rumors About…

... of a major shake-up at DC Comics. I have no idea if they're true; I've been at the gym and I forgot my phone. I just spoke to DC public point man and recently much maligned editorial sword point Dan Didio at about 8:00 AM ET on his way back into the Westin from a jog, but it's not like I asked that kind of question. That would be rude, even for me. He's on a panel of mine today in two and a half hours, so I guess we'll know more by then. Or not. I don't know. I would suspect since most folks are in Charlotte, the best place to keep updated is here or here.

I guess there's a chance there could be another story a-brewin' and people just naturally assume that it's a DC Comics story and so that rumor heats up, too. Rumors! If they worked according to logic, they'd be news. Wait, here it is: CBR confirms that John Nee has resigned from his position as senior vice president of business development at DC. Nee joined DC in 1998 as part of the WildStorm acquisition, and was named to his last post in September 2007.
 
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Michael George Gets Life In Prison

The prominent retailer and convention organizer Michael George, convicted earlier this year of the 1990 slaying of his then-wife Barbara in their Michigan comic book store and of charges related to that crime, will have his sentencing hearing today. Family members of the victim are expected to address the court and George.

Update: Michael George received life in prison at his sentencing today, and maintained his innocence. After losing a motion to set the verdict aside, it is widely believed that Mr. George will pursue an appeal.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* the International Press institute plans to make a video about blasphemy, with the Danish cartoons as Exhibit A.

* the Canadian Human Rights Commission stuff sounds more like an unholy snakepit every time I read about it.

* here's something I hadn't seen yet: the denial of certain governments to recognize Danish citizenship as a barrier for Danish dual citizens to protest effectively in those countries.

* amazingly, Denmark is more than just a country that publishes cartoons that honk people off.

* it's sort of refreshing to see a quote about the Danish cartoons as a cultural reference rather than as a hot news item, although I thought everyone believed that Jesus was fair game everywhere.
 
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Since I’ll Be In North Carolina, I Guess I’ll Be Going To Heroes Con 2008

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*****
*****

THE BASICS

* Convention Web Site
* Guest List
* Floor Map
* Programming Schedule
* Where I'll Probably Be

*****

ACTUAL NEWS

* Mike Wieringo Scholarship Announced; Will Have Table At Convention

*****

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH: MY BIG, FAT PANEL SCHEDULE

FRIDAY
12.00 PM
COVERING COMICS: Criticism, Reportage, and Gossip | Room 219
The digital age has allowed a deeper understanding of comics criticism and reporting than has ever been possible before. Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter moderates this discussion featuring some of the leading lights on the comics journalism scene, including Heidi MacDonald of The Beat, Tim Hodler of the Comics Comics magazine and blog, Matt Brady of Newsarama, and Johanna Draper-Carlson of Comics Worth Reading. From industry reporting and journalism to criticism and good ole gossip, this is sure to be a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the comics news!

1.30 PM
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY DISCUSSION | Room 207
The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon moderates what's sure to be one of the most fascinating conversations of the weekend, in this roundtable discussion featuring artist and Image publisher Erik Larsen, DC Executive Editor Dan Didio, artist and DRAW! MAGAZINE editor-in-chief Mike Manley, writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti (COUNTDOWN, JONAH HEX), and writer and Boom! Studios Editor-In-Chief Mark Waid.

image3.30 PM
SPOTLIGHT ON RICHARD THOMPSON | Room 219
The first great newspaper comic strip of the 21st Century has arrived, and like Mutts and Calvin & Hobbes before it, Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac has spent its first several months in syndication operating just underneath the pop-cult radar, adding papers steadily, readying to break out into the Next Big Thing. Join Tom Spurgeon for a wide-ranging discussion about art, caricature, and the Otterloop Family with one of the best cartoonists in North America, bar none. It's the panel you'll get to brag about attending in the years ahead, after Thompson conquers the comics world.

5.00 PM
THE CREATIVE HOUSEHOLD | Room 208
There are a surprising number of couples in comics where both partners are working in the industry in some capacity; and most of them are attending this year's HeroesCon! Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter sits down with three of them: Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, and Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. This discussion of the ins and outs of where work and love meets is bound to be one of the most entertaining panels you'll go to at ANY convention this year, so be sure and add it to your schedule!

SATURDAY
12.30 PM
THE NEW ART COMICS | Room 219A
From critical favorite hits like MAGGOTS and POWR MASTRS, to prominence in influential anthologies like KRAMER'S ERGOT, "art" or "abstract" or "out" comics are pushing the boundaries of the avant garde in comics. Join Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter as he sits down with Picturebox publisher Dan Nadel, KRAMER'S ERGOT editor Sammy Harkham and publisher Alvin Buenaventura for a frank discussion of this leading edge of art in comics!

2.00 PM
COLLABORATION AND STORYTELLING IN TODAY'S COMICS | Room 217BCD
Super panel moderator Tom Spurgeon conducts this chat with a who's who of artists and writers, featuring Darwyn Cooke (DC NEW FRONTIER), Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN), Jimmy Palmiotti (COUNTDOWN), Cliff Chiang (GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY), and Barry Kitson (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN). From collaboration with other creators, editors, or big company-wide crossovers, it can be tough to get your creative vision out there sometimes. This is sure to be a great discussion by some really entertaining creators!

4.00 PM
CONVERSATIONS: Jaime Hernandez & Evan Dorkin | Room 219
Continuing his series of two man interviews, the Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon focuses on two of the most recognizable names on the comics scene, Jaime Hernandez and Evan Dorkin. Jaime co-created, with his brothers Gilbert and Mario, the now legendary Love & Rockets comic in the early '80s. Today he's one of the most respected and acclaimed cartoonists in the world. Evan Dorkin is best known for his Milk & Cheese creation, but he's also worked extensively throughout the comics and animation industries.

SUNDAY
12.00 pm
WEBCOMICS ROUNDUP | Room 213BCD
Join the Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion on webcomics, from conception and creation to marketing and -- what? -- profitability. With guests Nicholas Gurewitch, David Malki, Julia Wertz, Chris Harding, Danielle Corsetto, and more!

2.30 PM
RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY IN COMICS | Room 219
Can comics go deeper than surface metaphors concerning myth and worship and explore foundational truths? Can comics depict where human experience touches on the unknowable? And if it can, should it? Two of North America's finest young cartoonists, Sammy Harkham (Crickets, The Poor Sailor, Kramer's Ergot) and Kevin Huizenga (Ganges, Curses) explore the question of belief in the comics form in this panel moderated by Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

*****

People Anticipate The Show
* Marc Arsenault will be there.
* Kelly Sue DeConnick will be there.
* Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer will be there.
* Matt Fraction will be there.
* Stuart Immonen will be there.
* Heidi MacDonald will be there.
* Craig Rousseau will be there.
* Shelton Drum will be there.
* Jonathan Hickman will be there.
* Van Jensen will be there.
* Vito Delsante will be there.
* Matt Wiegle and Shawn Cheng will be there.
* Chris Pitzer will be there.
* Ben Towle will be there.
* J. Chris Campbell will be there, too.

*****

The Only Person That Sent Me A Pre-Con Press Release, Even Though He Called Me The Beat Or Didn't Change That Part Of A Multiple-Recipient Mailing: Jim Rugg

imageIn case you do a Heroes Con promo thing on the Beat, here's my info:

Main stuff:

- new Afrodisiac #1 mini-comic!
- limited sketchbook/drawings mini
- Superior Showcase 3 (new Street Angel short story)
- Cold Heat special 4 (awesome tabloid format! LOVE the format, will be doing something like it again some day I hope)
- some color prints (laser prints, not cool silkscreens or anything)
- Panel on Sunday with Jaime Hernandez and Frank Santoro

Hope to see you there!

*****
*****

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First Cul De Sac Collection To Feature Foreword By Bill Watterson

That is the very definition of a nice get.
 
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OTBP: Neil Gaiman/Todd Klein Print

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Go, Book: The Trial Of The Sober Dog

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Missed It: Enki Bilal In 1986


 
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Missed It: Lorenzo Mattotti Trailer


 
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Missed It: Donjon At 10 Videos



*****


 
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Missed It: Vaughn Bode Interview



*****



*****


 
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Comic Books Make You Retarded



not my tagline
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Daryl Cagle talks about how some of his peers don't seem to prepare their comics properly for how they're to be printed in the June 15 entry at his popular blog.

image* the critic Matthias Wivel discusses a single page (the one at left) from a recent comic book, Amazing Spider-Man #560. Man, that's a lot of Spider-Man comic books.

* the comics writer Peter David points out that if you challenge someone to do something, you probably have to offer something in return if it's done.

* the cartoonist Frank Santoro declares his love for Night Business.

* when the gaming industry leader Wizards of the Coast adopted an Open Gaming License strategy, mainstream American comics were deep enough into a post-speculation, post-distribution shenanigans, post-Marvel bankruptcy era that people openly talked about whether Marvel and DC might want to try something along the same lines. Here's an assessment of how it's gone for the gamers. Here's a description of the new, more restrictive version of that policy that's come with a new version of the Dungeons and Dragons rules.

* finally, the FPI blog is excerpting comics from a recent special issue of Pilote and providing translations.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, John Workman!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Nix!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Rius!

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Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks
Sean Phillips Inks
Sean Phillips Blue Lines
Mike Manley Draws Quasar
Eric Reynolds Sketchbook #59
Lynda Barry on the Power of the Paintbrush

Industry
Fixing DC
ADD On Six Ways To Read Comics For Free

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Dash Shaw
Bookslut: Dash Shaw
AIGA: Michael Dooley
Blake Bell on Mr. Media
Talking With Tim: Elizabeth Genco

Not Comics
They Do?
Rocky on TV
Sean Collins Liked That Boring Hulk Movie

Reviews
Kevin Church: Various
ADD: Yam: Bite-Size Chunks
ADD: Bottomless Belly Button
Bill Randall: Look Out!! Monsters
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Freddie and Me
Brian Heater: The Hot Breath of War
Steve Duin: The World of Steve Ditko
Van Jensen: The Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
 

 
June 19, 2008


If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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Danish Appeals Court Rejects Lawsuit Against Jyllands-Posten Newspaper

The decision by the Western Court rejecting a lawsuit against the newspaper Jyllands-Posten upholds a lower court's ruling. The suit, brought by a coalition of seven Danish Muslim groups, charged that the paper's cartoons, which went on to be a political chit in a series of protests and riots that may have killed over 100 people, were intentionally insulting to Islam and its practitioners. I would imagine that the appeal is important in a turn-the-page sense, as most articles I've seen about local Muslim reaction to the 2005 publication seem to stress the willingness of those in Denmark to get past the incident and its excruciating fallout.
 
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Go, Look: Union Der Helden

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Vladimiro Missaglia, 1933-2008

imageGianfranco Goria of afNews notes that the artist Vladimirio Missaglia passed away on June 8 in Venice. He was best known for his westerns and his extensive collaborative partnership with his older brother, the screenwriter Ennio Missaglia. Among their creations were Ray Champion, Brigade OVNI, I Tre Marines, Kali, Arok and the western Judas with artist Ivo Parone. They also created a number of erotic comics series for the publisher Elvifrance. His Lambiek.net entry notes that one of the few works Vladimiro completed without his brother scripting was James, Capitaine Flibuste, which appeared in the magazine Blek, although he continued working after Ennio's death with one such work being 1997's Venezia: La Storia, la Leggenda.

He was preceded in death by his brother in 1993. He was 75 years old.
 
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We Still Have A Bit Of Work To Do

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I'm all about extolling comics' virtues, and pointing out all that's right and good and honest and wonderful about this dear art form and the industry that serves it. I really am. Still, we need to work on things to the point where any adult reader can walk into any decent comic shop once a week with a $5 bill and walk out with a comic at least as good and satisfying and appealing and with as much integrity as the one depicted above. Not a $30 hardcover and not a mini-comic; not a fun superhero book and not some asshole's high concept movie script in comic book form; not a reprint of an old title or a collection of an iconic newspaper strip from 1928 -- although God bless every single one of those things, too. No, what I'm talking about is a compelling, idiosyncratic, lovingly and not too radically formatted, honest-to-goodness well-crafted comic book that wants nothing more than to be a comic book. Our art form's first kiss. Fifty-two times a year. Remember what that's like?
 
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Your 2008 Harvey Award Nominees

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The Harvey Awards, the major comics awards program limited to creative professionals in the American comic book industry, has announced its 2008 awards nominees:

BEST WRITER
* Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Grant Morrison, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone
* Brian K. Vaughan, Y: The Last Man, Vertigo/DC Comics

BEST ARTIST
* Gabriel Ba, Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics
* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Guy Davis, BPRD, Dark Horse Comics
* Frank Quitely, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

BEST CARTOONIST
* Darwyn Cooke, The Spirit, DC Comics
* Matt Kindt, Super Spy, Top Shelf
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press
* Vasilis Lolos, Last Call, Oni Press
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM - ORIGINAL
* The Arrival, Scholastic Books
* Donald Duck: The Case of the Missing Mummy, Gemstone
* Exit Wounds, Drawn & Quarterly
* Laika, First Second
* Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM - PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED
* The Annotated Northwest Passage, Oni Press
* Antiques, Volume 1, Gemstone
* Captain America Omnibus, Volume 1, Marvel Comics
* Damned, Volume 1, Oni Press
* Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, Marvel Comics

BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT
* Complete Peanuts, Fantagraphics Books
* Complete Terry and the Pirates, IDW
* EC Archives, Gemstone
* Popeye, Fantagraphics Books
* Walt and Skeezix, Drawn & Quarterly

BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL
* Eduardo Risso's Tales of Terror, Dynamite Entertainment
* Exit Wounds, Drawn & Quarterly
* Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Abrams
* Moomin, Volume 2, Drawn & Quarterly
* Witchblade Manga, Top Cow/Image

SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR
* Chris Eliopoulos, Franklin Richards series, Marvel Comics
* Nicholas Gurewitch, Perry Bible Fellowship www.pbfcomics.com
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

BEST ON-LINE COMIC
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney
* EZ Street, Robert Tinnell and Mark Wheatley
* Penny Arcade, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
* Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch
* Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo, Dwight L. Macpherson, Thomas Boatwright and Thomas Mauer

SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION
* The Annotated Northwest Passage, Scott Chantler, Oni Press
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books
* EC Archives, Various, edited by John Clark, Gemstone
* Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez, Villard
* Super Spy, Matt Kindt, Top Shelf

BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY
* Alice in Sunderland, Dark Horse Comics
* All Star Superman #8, DC Comics
* Captain America #25, Marvel Comics
* Donald Duck: The Case of the Missing Mummy, Gemstone
* I Killed Adolf Hitler, Fantagraphics Books
* Immortal Iron Fist #7, Marvel Comics
Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #1, Oni Press

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION
* Blah Blah Blog, Tom Brevoort
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth and Michael Dean Fantagraphics Books
* Meanwhile…Comics!, John, Jason and Scott
* The Naked Artist: Comic Book Legends, Bryan Talbot and Hunt Emerson, Moonstone Books
* Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, edited by J.C. Vaughn, Gemstone
* Reading Comics: How Graphic Albums Work and What They Mean, Douglas Wolk, Da Capo Press

BEST COVER ARTIST
* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Marko Djurdjevic, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* James Jean, Fables, Vertigo/DC Comics
* Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Dark Horse Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

BEST LETTERER
* Chris Eliopoulos, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Jared K. Fletcher, The Spirit, DC Comics
* Willie Schubert, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone
* Douglas E. Sherwood, Local, Oni Books
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library, Acme Novelty

BEST COLORIST
* Susan Daigle-Leach, Uncle Scrooge, Gemstone
* Jamie Grant, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* Matt Hollingsworth, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Matt Kindt, Super Spy, Top Shelf
* Laura Martin, Thor, Marvel Comics

BEST INKER
* Stefano Gaudiano, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Steve Leialoha, Fables, DC Comics
* Mark Morales, Thor, Marvel Comics
* Kevin Nowlan, Witchblade, Top Cow/Image

BEST SYNDICATED STRIP OR PANEL
* Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau, Universal Press Syndicate
* Get Fuzzy, Darby Conley, United Feature Syndicate
* The K Chronicles, Keith Knight, Self-Syndicated
* The Mighty Motor-Sapiens, Mark Wheatley, Daniel Krall, Robert Tinnell, MJ Butler, Craig Taillerfer, Matthew Plog, and Jerry Carr, Self-Syndicated
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate

BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES
* All Star Superman, DC Comics
* Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Damned, Oni Press
* Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics
* Uncle Scrooge, Gemstone Comics

BEST NEW SERIES
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* The Order, Marvel Comics
* Resurrection, Oni Press
* Thor, Marvel Comics
* Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics

BEST NEW TALENT
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Jeff Lemire, Essex County, Top Shelf
* Vasilis Lolos, Last Call, Oni Press
* Robbi Rodriguez, Maintenance, Oni Press
* Christian Slade, Korgi #1: Sprouting Wings, Top Shelf

BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Flight Volume 4, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Ballantine Books
* Mome Volume 8, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics Books
* Popgun Volume 1, edited by Joe Keatinge and Mark Andrew Smith, Image Books
* Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriquez, Villard
* Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, edited by John Clark, Gemstone

Congratulations to all the nominees. Final ballots are due August 15. The awards will be given out at a ceremony in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con on September 27.
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Since I’ll Be In North Carolina, I Guess I’ll Be Going To Heroes Con 2008

image

*****
*****

THE BASICS

* Convention Web Site
* Guest List
* Floor Map
* Programming Schedule
* Where I'll Probably Be

*****

ACTUAL NEWS

* Mike Wieringo Scholarship Announced; Will Have Table At Convention

*****

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH: MY BIG, FAT PANEL SCHEDULE

FRIDAY
12.00 PM
COVERING COMICS: Criticism, Reportage, and Gossip | Room 219
The digital age has allowed a deeper understanding of comics criticism and reporting than has ever been possible before. Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter moderates this discussion featuring some of the leading lights on the comics journalism scene, including Heidi MacDonald of The Beat, Tim Hodler of the Comics Comics magazine and blog, Matt Brady of Newsarama, and Johanna Draper-Carlson of Comics Worth Reading. From industry reporting and journalism to criticism and good ole gossip, this is sure to be a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the comics news!

1.30 PM
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY DISCUSSION | Room 207
The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon moderates what's sure to be one of the most fascinating conversations of the weekend, in this roundtable discussion featuring artist and Image publisher Erik Larsen, DC Executive Editor Dan Didio, artist and DRAW! MAGAZINE editor-in-chief Mike Manley, writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti (COUNTDOWN, JONAH HEX), and writer and Boom! Studios Editor-In-Chief Mark Waid.

image3.30 PM
SPOTLIGHT ON RICHARD THOMPSON | Room 219
The first great newspaper comic strip of the 21st Century has arrived, and like Mutts and Calvin & Hobbes before it, Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac has spent its first several months in syndication operating just underneath the pop-cult radar, adding papers steadily, readying to break out into the Next Big Thing. Join Tom Spurgeon for a wide-ranging discussion about art, caricature, and the Otterloop Family with one of the best cartoonists in North America, bar none. It's the panel you'll get to brag about attending in the years ahead, after Thompson conquers the comics world.

5.00 PM
THE CREATIVE HOUSEHOLD | Room 208
There are a surprising number of couples in comics where both partners are working in the industry in some capacity; and most of them are attending this year's HeroesCon! Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter sits down with three of them: Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, and Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. This discussion of the ins and outs of where work and love meets is bound to be one of the most entertaining panels you'll go to at ANY convention this year, so be sure and add it to your schedule!

SATURDAY
12.30 PM
THE NEW ART COMICS | Room 219A
From critical favorite hits like MAGGOTS and POWR MASTRS, to prominence in influential anthologies like KRAMER'S ERGOT, "art" or "abstract" or "out" comics are pushing the boundaries of the avant garde in comics. Join Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter as he sits down with Picturebox publisher Dan Nadel, KRAMER'S ERGOT editor Sammy Harkham and publisher Alvin Buenaventura for a frank discussion of this leading edge of art in comics!

2.00 PM
COLLABORATION AND STORYTELLING IN TODAY'S COMICS | Room 217BCD
Super panel moderator Tom Spurgeon conducts this chat with a who's who of artists and writers, featuring Darwyn Cooke (DC NEW FRONTIER), Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN), Jimmy Palmiotti (COUNTDOWN), Cliff Chiang (GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY), and Barry Kitson (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN). From collaboration with other creators, editors, or big company-wide crossovers, it can be tough to get your creative vision out there sometimes. This is sure to be a great discussion by some really entertaining creators!

4.00 PM
CONVERSATIONS: Jaime Hernandez & Evan Dorkin | Room 219
Continuing his series of two man interviews, the Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon focuses on two of the most recognizable names on the comics scene, Jaime Hernandez and Evan Dorkin. Jaime co-created, with his brothers Gilbert and Mario, the now legendary Love & Rockets comic in the early '80s. Today he's one of the most respected and acclaimed cartoonists in the world. Evan Dorkin is best known for his Milk & Cheese creation, but he's also worked extensively throughout the comics and animation industries.

SUNDAY
12.00 pm
WEBCOMICS ROUNDUP | Room 213BCD
Join the Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion on webcomics, from conception and creation to marketing and -- what? -- profitability. With guests Nicholas Gurewitch, David Malki, Julia Wertz, Chris Harding, Danielle Corsetto, and more!

2.30 PM
RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY IN COMICS | Room 219
Can comics go deeper than surface metaphors concerning myth and worship and explore foundational truths? Can comics depict where human experience touches on the unknowable? And if it can, should it? Two of North America's finest young cartoonists, Sammy Harkham (Crickets, The Poor Sailor, Kramer's Ergot) and Kevin Huizenga (Ganges, Curses) explore the question of belief in the comics form in this panel moderated by Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

*****

People Anticipate The Show
* Marc Arsenault will be there.
* Kelly Sue DeConnick will be there.
* Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer will be there.
* Matt Fraction will be there.
* Stuart Immonen will be there.
* Heidi MacDonald will be there.
* Craig Rousseau will be there.
* Shelton Drum will be there.
* Jonathan Hickman will be there.
* Van Jensen will be there.
* Vito Delsante will be there.
* Matt Wiegle and Shawn Cheng will be there.
* Chris Pitzer will be there.
* Ben Towle will be there.
* J. Chris Campbell will be there, too.

*****

The Only Person That Sent Me A Pre-Con Press Release, Even Though He Called Me The Beat Or Didn't Change That Part Of A Multiple-Recipient Mailing: Jim Rugg

imageIn case you do a Heroes Con promo thing on the Beat, here's my info:

Main stuff:

- new Afrodisiac #1 mini-comic!
- limited sketchbook/drawings mini
- Superior Showcase 3 (new Street Angel short story)
- Cold Heat special 4 (awesome tabloid format! LOVE the format, will be doing something like it again some day I hope)
- some color prints (laser prints, not cool silkscreens or anything)
- Panel on Sunday with Jaime Hernandez and Frank Santoro

Hope to see you there!

*****
*****

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ken Dahl on Flickr

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Graham Roumieu

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Your Pshaw! For The Day

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Scott Edelman scans in the programming pages from the 1971 Seuling con booklet.

image* I learned only this week that occasional writer about comics Gene Phillips has a blog, and looking it up and down a bit I was drawn to his long post on 1960s Marvel character The Black Knight. When I was a kid, the older Avengers comics were those comics just out of reach of my own era of reading, so they were like the holy grail of funnybooks. Although I think the cover here is George Tuska, a lot of those comics from that era were done by John Buscema (with Tom Palmer) and that's the artist (and inker) I see in my mind's eye when I think of Marvel Comics from when I was a kid. The reason why I liked Avengers comics when I was a kid is I think I was attracted to what looked like a bunch of giant brutes living in a big house in New York City, occasionally raining down an ass beating on someone the way my Dad would go to work and get the paper out. Or maybe something less scary and therapy-requiring. As far as the Black Knight goes, I always liked superhero characters that carried deadly weapons around, because I was always holding out hope that they would flip out and do something like chop the Melter's arm off.

* I missed this Noah Berlatsky review of the second Moomin volume.

* they've made an on-line comic about my life! Okay, not really. I'm kind of two-dimensional, though.

* the cartoonist Matt Janz is ending Single and Looking.

* this post about comic shops trying to deal with the recent flooding in Iowa caught my interest. Does anyone have any more information on stores in trouble? For that matter, does anyone out there know the final outcome for the owners of the comic shops that were destroyed when Katrina hit New Orleans?
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 92nd Birthday, Mick Anglo!

image
 
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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Round-Up Of Political Cartoon Exhibits

History
Garfield at 30
Clay Bennett's Favorite Cartoonists

Industry
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoon, Too

Interviews/Profiles
PWCW: Simone Lia
PWCW: Yukari Shiina
PWCW: Eddie Campbell
Newsarama: Terry Moore
The Independent: Dave Brown
delmarvanow.com: Patrick McDonnell

Not Comics
Town Seeks Trademark on Fictional Character Shrine

Publishing
DC's Fringe
Next Men Collected
New WoW Series Coming

Reviews
Kurogane: Aria Vol. 1
Mel Odom: Criminal: Lawless
Jog: BPRD: War On Frogs #1
Van Jensen: Emiko Superstar
Richard Bruton: Days Like This
Mel Odom: Skaar Son of Hulk #1
Sandra Scholes: Alice 19th Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Gimmick! Vol. 1
Craig Fischer: Look Out!! Monsters
Rob Clough: Bottomless Belly Button
Charles Hatfield: Look Out!! Monsters
Sean T. Collins: Alex Robinson's Lower Regions
Johanna Draper Carlson: Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro Vol. 1
 

 
June 18, 2008


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

image

*****

Here are the books that jump out at me from this week's probably mostly accurate 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 works listed here -- I might not buy any -- but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick up the following and look them over, potentially resulting in a scolding from my retailer.

*****

MAR080035 POSTAGE STAMP FUNNIES HC $9.95
This is Shannon Wheeler and they ran in the Onion and I'm curious as to what they're like. I saw a few.

MAR080049 UMBRELLA ACADEMY APOCALYPSE SUITE TP $17.95
I read this. This was to Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol what The Royal Tenenbaums was to Franny and Zooey. If you're excited now, buy it. If you just puked in your mouth, don't. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, get the hell out of the comic shop and go buy a copy of Franny and Zooey.

MAR084082 CAT EYED BOY GN VOL 01 $24.99
MAR084083 CAT EYED BOY GN VOL 02 $24.99

This is cool-looking and everything, but is there really anyone in the world out there that woke up this morning and thought, "Boy, today I sure feel like spending $50 on some 1960s horror manga."

APR082359 ASTONISHING X-MEN TP VOL 04 UNSTOPPABLE $19.99
Is this the material that just came out in comics form? Do they always do that?

APR082335 KICK ASS #1 DIRECTORS CUT (MR) $3.99
What the hell is a director's cut? Do they really re-cut the comic? I bet they don't. Can the director be Peter O'Toole from The Stunt Man?

MAR083704 POCKET FULL OF RAIN SC $19.99
Not just a collection of early stories by a best-selling (for alternative comics) cartoonist, but a really good book, too.

MAR083566 RASL #2 $3.50
Hey, new Jeff Smith! I totally didn't see this in the comic book shop today. Does Chicago Comics shelve Jeff Smith with the superhero books? That's weird.

*****

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, you're damn right it's personal. I hate you.
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Ali Dilem Loses Defamation Lawsuit

The longtime lightning rod for freedom of cartoon expression Ali Dilem has suffered another blow, albeit a modest one, when an Algerian court decided he and two others must pay a fine of approximately $310 for defamation in a lawsuit brought by the defense ministry on behalf of one of its officers. In several countries, government and military officials have been using the courts to help silence political opponents or merely to mitigate against the effects of any criticism, including that from cartoonists.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
ICv2.com: May ‘08 DM Estimates

imageThe comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com offers their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for May 2008.

* Overview
* Analysis
* Top 300 Comic Books
* Top 100 Graphic Novels

The big, big news is that the second issue of Marvel's Secret Invasion series moved more copies in initial order than the first issue of DC's Final Crisis series. I can't think of any way this could possibly be good news for DC, a company that has been aiming for this particular series while Marvel has been blithely moving from crossover to crossover. Remember that Diamond sales figure indicate sales into stores rather than sell-through, which means that you could also interpret this mainly as a relative loss of faith in DC's continuity-bending, wonky approach to its crossovers. Even the title, Final Crisis is a continuity reference whereas Secret Invasion isn't -- unless the Beyonder shows up.

On the positive side, DC came into Final Crisis limping from a poorly perceived anticipatory weekly series called Countdown, and DC is far better suited to playing the perceived marketplace number two than Marvel's ever been. For one, they're used to it. For another, they can point to things like back catalog gains due to their new bookstore distribution relationship as more important than nailing down those extra several thousand serial comics readers, and have a point in doing so. On the down side, DC can't point to its licensing and media function with its larger company as an obvious advantage over Marvel in the post-Iron Man world.

For a second take on things, I suggest keeping an eye on John Jackson Miller of The Comics Chronicles.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Stop Copying Yourself! Stop Copying Yourself! Stop Copying Yourself!

A few editorial cartoonists are under some fire for copying work and then re-presenting it as a new: Sean Delonas, David Horsey. Rob Tornoe is the one that caught onto Horsey's efforts. Horsey addresses the situation in his own blog as well. Editor & Publisher picks up on the story.

David Horsey is 100 percent right throughout: there are occasions when cartoonists re-use art, and one of the more legitimate circumstances by which this happens is to intentionally recall a past work. It's also important to keep the lines of communication open with an editor in terms of their being able to understand your point of view if an accusation is made. Strip cartoonists re-use art, too. In fact, when I worked for the late Jay Kennedy at King Features, I once did two weeks worth of written material constructed visually from old panels to help us catch up -- at Kennedy's insistence. We were told at the time that a couple of the super-successful cartoonists in King's stable used this technique as a deadline-solver, although I've never researched that point further so I only have his word on it.
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Since I’ll Be In North Carolina, I Guess I’ll Be Going To Heroes Con 2008

image

*****
*****

THE BASICS

* Convention Web Site
* Guest List
* Floor Map
* Programming Schedule
* Where I'll Probably Be

*****

ACTUAL NEWS

* Mike Wieringo Scholarship Announced; Will Have Table At Convention

*****

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH: MY BIG, FAT PANEL SCHEDULE

FRIDAY
12.00 PM
COVERING COMICS: Criticism, Reportage, and Gossip | Room 219
The digital age has allowed a deeper understanding of comics criticism and reporting than has ever been possible before. Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter moderates this discussion featuring some of the leading lights on the comics journalism scene, including Heidi MacDonald of The Beat, Tim Hodler of the Comics Comics magazine and blog, Matt Brady of Newsarama, and Johanna Draper-Carlson of Comics Worth Reading. From industry reporting and journalism to criticism and good ole gossip, this is sure to be a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the comics news!

1.30 PM
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY DISCUSSION | Room 207
The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon moderates what's sure to be one of the most fascinating conversations of the weekend, in this roundtable discussion featuring artist and Image publisher Erik Larsen, DC Executive Editor Dan Didio, artist and DRAW! MAGAZINE editor-in-chief Mike Manley, writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti (COUNTDOWN, JONAH HEX), and writer and Boom! Studios Editor-In-Chief Mark Waid.

image3.30 PM
SPOTLIGHT ON RICHARD THOMPSON | Room 219
The first great newspaper comic strip of the 21st Century has arrived, and like Mutts and Calvin & Hobbes before it, Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac has spent its first several months in syndication operating just underneath the pop-cult radar, adding papers steadily, readying to break out into the Next Big Thing. Join Tom Spurgeon for a wide-ranging discussion about art, caricature, and the Otterloop Family with one of the best cartoonists in North America, bar none. It's the panel you'll get to brag about attending in the years ahead, after Thompson conquers the comics world.

5.00 PM
THE CREATIVE HOUSEHOLD | Room 208
There are a surprising number of couples in comics where both partners are working in the industry in some capacity; and most of them are attending this year's HeroesCon! Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter sits down with three of them: Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, and Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. This discussion of the ins and outs of where work and love meets is bound to be one of the most entertaining panels you'll go to at ANY convention this year, so be sure and add it to your schedule!

SATURDAY
12.30 PM
THE NEW ART COMICS | Room 219A
From critical favorite hits like MAGGOTS and POWR MASTRS, to prominence in influential anthologies like KRAMER'S ERGOT, "art" or "abstract" or "out" comics are pushing the boundaries of the avant garde in comics. Join Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter as he sits down with Picturebox publisher Dan Nadel, KRAMER'S ERGOT editor Sammy Harkham and publisher Alvin Buenaventura for a frank discussion of this leading edge of art in comics!

2.00 PM
COLLABORATION AND STORYTELLING IN TODAY'S COMICS | Room 217BCD
Super panel moderator Tom Spurgeon conducts this chat with a who's who of artists and writers, featuring Darwyn Cooke (DC NEW FRONTIER), Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN), Jimmy Palmiotti (COUNTDOWN), Cliff Chiang (GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY), and Barry Kitson (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN). From collaboration with other creators, editors, or big company-wide crossovers, it can be tough to get your creative vision out there sometimes. This is sure to be a great discussion by some really entertaining creators!

4.00 PM
CONVERSATIONS: Jaime Hernandez & Evan Dorkin | Room 219
Continuing his series of two man interviews, the Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon focuses on two of the most recognizable names on the comics scene, Jaime Hernandez and Evan Dorkin. Jaime co-created, with his brothers Gilbert and Mario, the now legendary Love & Rockets comic in the early '80s. Today he's one of the most respected and acclaimed cartoonists in the world. Evan Dorkin is best known for his Milk & Cheese creation, but he's also worked extensively throughout the comics and animation industries.

SUNDAY
12.00 pm
WEBCOMICS ROUNDUP | Room 213BCD
Join the Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion on webcomics, from conception and creation to marketing and -- what? -- profitability. With guests Nicholas Gurewitch, David Malki, Julia Wertz, Chris Harding, Danielle Corsetto, and more!

2.30 PM
RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY IN COMICS | Room 219
Can comics go deeper than surface metaphors concerning myth and worship and explore foundational truths? Can comics depict where human experience touches on the unknowable? And if it can, should it? Two of North America's finest young cartoonists, Sammy Harkham (Crickets, The Poor Sailor, Kramer's Ergot) and Kevin Huizenga (Ganges, Curses) explore the question of belief in the comics form in this panel moderated by Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

*****

People Anticipate The Show
* Marc Arsenault will be there.
* Kelly Sue DeConnick will be there.
* Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer will be there.
* Matt Fraction will be there.
* Stuart Immonen will be there.
* Heidi MacDonald will be there.
* Craig Rousseau will be there.
* Shelton Drum will be there.
* Jonathan Hickman will be there.
* Van Jensen will be there.
* Vito Delsante will be there.
* Matt Wiegle and Shawn Cheng will be there.
* Chris Pitzer will be there.
* Ben Towle will be there.
* J. Chris Campbell will be there, too.

okay, I'm done updating this

*****

The Only Person That Sent Me A Pre-Con Press Release, Even Though He Called Me The Beat Or Didn't Change That Part Of A Multiple-Recipient Mailing: Jim Rugg

imageIn case you do a Heroes Con promo thing on the Beat, here's my info:

Main stuff:

- new Afrodisiac #1 mini-comic!
- limited sketchbook/drawings mini
- Superior Showcase 3 (new Street Angel short story)
- Cold Heat special 4 (awesome tabloid format! LOVE the format, will be doing something like it again some day I hope)
- some color prints (laser prints, not cool silkscreens or anything)
- Panel on Sunday with Jaime Hernandez and Frank Santoro

Hope to see you there!

*****
*****

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Nightmare Scare

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 1000 Beasts

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you know, I never understand these articles where the premise is that the trend is toward Market Outcome A and then all that gets listed is examples that break away from that supposed trend to underline some argument that things don't have to be the way A dictates they are. Well, you didn't prove A in the first place. You asserted it. Comics publishers have been trying every single market out there that they can reach for years and years now, and two of the three markets mentioned as some sort of revelation bucking the made-up trend have been plumbed since at least the late 1980s. It's a faulty premise and an issue only cursorily explored: just a bad article.

image* this page on Microcosm's site about a BFF collection that I didn't know about and is either a) brand new or b) a sign that I'm totally out of touch indicates that the Bloomington-based company is opening a storefront in Portland. Anyone know anything about this?

* the writer and retailer Chris Butcher notes a disappearing Akira volume and its potential as support for a Kodansha to publish some work itself rumor.

* well, of course he's a cartoonist.

* I can't really buy reading digital comics as a substitute for the print comics buying experience until people testify that this is a substitution they're actually making, but it's probably worth noting that if gas prices do keep people from going to comics shops -- and I think this likely because of the thinning of area-to-area coverage that came in the 1990s when the mainstream comics companies decided that they needed to close a lot of small comics shops -- they won't keep people from accessing the comics they get on-line.

* finally, Shogakukan and Shueisha announce that they're deepening their relationship, with an eye towards smoother licensing efforts and, it looks like, digital publishing.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Dean Mullaney!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Wataru Yoshizumi!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Fantagraphics at MoCCA 01
Fantagraphics at MoCCA 02
Fantagraphics at MoCCA 03

History
On Comics Fans
Tom Batiuk's Favorite Cartoonists

Industry
The Missing Comics Caper
Jeanine Schaefer to Marvel
Fate of Tokyopop Authors Round-Up

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Joe Casey
Newsarama: Kurt Busiek
Newsarama: Brian Wood
ComixTalk: Dylan Meconis
ComixTalk: Faith Erin Hicks
Comics on Comics: Jeff Smith

Not Comics
Man Buried By Manga

Publishing
Upcoming From Randy Glasbergen

Reviews
Erin F.: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Jog: God's Cartoonist
Paul O'Brien: Burnout
KC Carlson: Trinity #1
Chris Mautner: Various
Paul O'Brien: Eternals #1
Andrew Wheeler: Various
KC Carlson: Final Crisis #1
Paul O'Brien: X-Force: Ain't No Dog
 

 
June 17, 2008


If I Were In Hamburg, I’d Go To This

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Fred Baker, 19XX-2008

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The longtime British comics writer Fred Baker died June 4 from complications due to pneumonia. Baker was best known for his sports stories, particularly a two-decade run on the "Billy's Boots" feature lasting from 1970 into 1990. Baker's run with the strip started in Scorcher, moved to Tiger, then to Eagle in the mid-1980s and finally to Roy of the Rovers. He worked with John Gillatt for the majority if not entirety of that run. In addition to the strip's appearance in English, the "Billy's Boots" stories were translated into Dutch, Finnish and Swedish.

Baker's comics career began as editor working at Almagamated Press before moving onto Fleetway's teenage romance books in the 1960s. He turned freelance in 1966. According to Steve Holland's obituary, his titles included "Skid Kids" (Buster, 1966-1971), "Martin's Marvelous Mini" (Tiger, 1971-1980 or so), "Tommy's Troubles" (Roy of the Rovers, 1976-1985), "Skid Solo" (Tiger, 1970s-1980s) and perhaps his other most fondly-remembered strip, "Hot-Shot Hamish" with artist Julio Schiaffino. Baker retired from writing in the 1990s.
 
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I Love Going To The Comic Book Store

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*****

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*****

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*****
*****

Time and Place: Quimby's on North Street near Damen, Chicago
Time: 4 PM, June 16
Total Cost: $18.43
Additional Notes: A couple of recommended minis and a Ken Dahl book I wasn't aware existed. Great shop; kind of an impersonal atmosphere, but I imagine that's what a lot of people prefer.

*****
*****
*****
 
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Go, Read: Garrity Goes To The Reubens

One of many funny moments in Shaenon Garrity's piece on an event, the yearly NCS meeting, that seems to invite all the cartoonists who rarely write anything on-line: "Having important people tell me I'm wonderful while deferential waiters bring me praline mousse is definitely more fun than getting snubbed by some douche with a mini-comic in a leaky convention hall."
 
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Joost Swarte To Appear At SPX ‘08

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Nice get.
 
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Go, Read: Sarah Glidden Interview

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Not Comics: Old Advertisement, New Product

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Go, Look: Cul De Sac Field Trip

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one, two, three, four, five
 
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Go, Look: The Rat Man

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Go, Look: Space Garbage

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Go, Look: Gary Panter In Houston

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Go, Look: Halloween Ago

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Go, Look: Photos From 2008 Shuster Awards and Sequential Arts Symposium

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I would totally read an X-Men book where they all became dead, gay, sad, fat, old dogs.

* "I want my picture taken with him!" (thanks, Paul Di Filippo)

image* awesome post by Scott Edelman with specific memories of names listed at the 1970 Phil Seuling Con.

* the caricaturist Martin Rowson writes one of those "how will we ever get along without drawing you" articles about George W. Bush, the last in the usual series of articles about such public figures that ironically always seems to start with something on "we can't get the hang of drawing you."

* here's a profile of the Maryland comics/education initiative, which organizers say may expand in to middle schools. Apparently, they're going to take on translating a bunch of French "classics comics" in addition to their program administrative duties. Does anyone out there know if this work is going to an established publisher?

* a caricature of Narayan Rane by Bal Thackeray has led to charges on each side that the other should be arrested.

* finally, word seeps out that Japan's parliament will study the issue of virtual pornography before acting on a child pornography law. By virtual pornography it seems they mean anything that doesn't involve the participation of exploitable humans.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Bart Beaty!

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.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Hilary Barta!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Chance Browne!

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Quick hits
Craft
Skewering of Obama Limited By Race?
Avi Weinryb on Webcomics Advantages

Exhibits/Events
Editorial Cartoonists at CCI

History
June 14 Was Superman's 70th Birthday

Industry
Comics May Help Boys To Read
Comics Too Expensive For This Guy
Unhappy About Loss Of Comics Page
Industry Profile From 1983 Published In Modern Paper

Interviews/Profiles
Trekweb: DC Fontana
New York: Dash Shaw
Feministing: Diane DiMassa
Sydney Morning Herald: Marjane Satrapi
Payvand's Iran News: Ardeshir Mohassess
Democrat and Chronicle: Nicholas Gurewitch

Not Comics
Dear Marvel
Man Has 44,000 Comic Books
Superman's Hair Bothers Writer
Weird Way To Get Spotlight on Otaku Culture
Another Warren Ellis Comics Film Adaptation To Ask Him Lots Of Questions About

Publishing
Bad Idea Dept.
Doonesbury is Back
Doonesbury is Back
Doonesbury is Back
Doonesbury is Back
Thomas-Bok Book Profiled
Links to Tim Russert Cartoons
Utah Needs Higher Self-Esteem
Bible In Comics Form, If You Haven't Heard

Reviews
Bill Sherman: Dark Metro
Don MacPherson: Burnout
Kumi Matsumaru: Love Com
Bill Sherman: Fantasy Classics
Mel Odom: Green Arrow Year One

 

 
June 16, 2008


Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* this article summarizing the Mark Steyn tribunal hearing looks familiar to me, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's an old one re-posted, but it makes a strong case why the whole affair was achingly stupid. Can you use the word "benthic" like that?

* even the cartoonists for peace must live under the long shadow of the Danish cartoons. Actually, it sort of makes sense that they would.

* an official in Denmark warns of terrorist attacks planned for Danish soil.
 
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Shhhh! Creators Launches Scary Gary

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I rarely run publishing news from the comic strip syndicates, mostly because they almost never tell anyone anything about their new launches -- at least not new media. This always struck me as odd if not outright counter-productive. I don't think I read a single thing about Keith Knight's new strip until a local paper announced its arrival in their pages. It could be that the syndicate PR people want to conserve their media exposure, restricting it to local markets when a strip debuts. Without their insistence on coverage, sometimes it's easy to gather this information ahead of time, and sometimes it's difficult. Anyway, this is Creators Syndicate's new offering, Scary Gary from Meatloaf Night creator Mark Buford. It launches today. I think Meatloaf Night was almost ten years ago now, which is kind of interesting in itself. Also, Scary Gary may suffer during its initial launch from strips being accommodated for Doonesbury hiatus try-out runs, although I can't see that being a huge factor.
 
posted 8:21 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2008 Shuster Awards Winners

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The winners in this juried program to award Canadians and named after the Canadian-born Superman co-creator Joe Shuster were announced Saturday Night in Toronto in conjunction with the Sequential Art Symposium held at the Toronto Public Library.

Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer
Cecil Castellucci for The P.L.A.I.N. Janes (DC/Minx)
Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artist
Dale Eaglesham for Justice Society of America #2-4, 6-7, 9-11 (DC Comics)
Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)
Jeff Lemire for Essex County Vol. 1: Tales From The Farm, Essex County Vol. 2: Ghost Stories (Top Shelf)
Outstanding Cover By A Canadian Comic Book Artist
Steve Skroce for Doc Frankenstein #6 (Burleyman)
Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Colourist
Dave McCaig for Nextwave, Agents of H.A.T.E. #12, New Avengers #27-35, Fallen Son -- The Death of Captain America #1: Wolverine, Marvel Comics Presents #1-4, Wolverine #50, Avengers Classic #7 (Marvel Comics), DC Infinite Halloween Special #1 (DC Comics), The Other Side #4-5 (DC/Vertigo) Stephen Colbert's Tek Jensen #1 (ONI Press)
Outstanding Canadian Comic Book &/or Graphic Novel Publisher
Drawn & Quarterly
Outstanding Canadian Webcomics Creator/Creative Team
Ryan Sohmer and Lar De Souza for Least I Can Do and Looking for Group
Outstanding Achievement by a Canadian Related to Comic Books
David Watkins for using comic books as a teaching tool
Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame
Stan Berneche, John Byrne, Pierre Fournier, Edwin R. "Ted" McCall
Favourite Canadian Comic Book Creator -- English Language Publications
Faith Erin Hicks -- Zombies Calling
Favorite Canadian Comic Book Creator -- French Language Publications
Philippe Girard aka phlppgrrd -- Danger Public
Favorite International (Non-Canadian) Comic Book Creator
Ed Brubaker -- Captain America, Criminal, Immortal Iron Fist, Uncanny X-Men
Harry Kremer Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer
Big B Comics -- Hamilton, Ontario

The 2008 jury was Mark Askwith, Garnet Fraser, Matt Granger, Duane Murray and Mike "Nug" Nahrgang.
 
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I Love Going To The Comic Book Store

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*****

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*****

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*****

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*****

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*****

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*****
*****

Time and Place: Comix Revolution in Downtown Evanston, Illinois
Time: 2 PM, June 13
Total Cost: $12.00
Additional Notes: Again, more superhero comics purchases at $1 each, but I also caught up with two issues of King-Cat that I'd missed and one that I'd lost. I like how prominently John P's comics are displayed in Chicago's best shops. The tribute issue to his late father is quite strong, although more in the written material than in any of the comics. Plus, Jeff Zenick update in one of the letters pages! We can re-publish Werewolf By Night and no one will put together a single volume of all Zenick's drawings and writing?

I don't really get the derision aimed at Joss Whedon's X-Men funnybooks. While it's true that a comic designed for serial publication that doesn't come out in serial fashion is a screwy thing, and fair game for any review, I would also think that the thing to do when this become clear is to simply no longer buy it like a serial comic book and at least avoid the disappointment of the exchange. You can buy them in trade or at a later, dollar-bin discount just like many of us figure out to wait to watch some kinds of serial television shows when they come out on DVD or start playing every day on Bravo or fX or when they're scheduled all at once in an HBO or Sci-Fi channel mini-marathon. The work itself seems to me a sweet enough homage to a bunch of comic books for lonely, smart kids from 1979, and worth a dollar here or there, and that's about it. A lot of it is awkward, it's crippled by the genre demands, and the big-adventure moments seem badly chosen and poorly developed; there are also a fair share of amusing scenes and several well-played grace notes in regards to nostalgia and revisiting teenage states of mind.

*****
*****
*****
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
John James Knudsen, 1922-2008

John James Knudsen, a former editorial cartoonist for Los Angeles Tidings and the San Diego Union whose work was syndicated through Copley Newspapers, died in May at his San Diego home. The cause was complications due to bone cancer. He was 85 years old.

A first-generation American, Knudsen was born in Great Falls, Montana. He made his way to Los Angeles to study art at Woodbury College, where he earned a bachelor's degree.

imageHe volunteered for the Army after being rejected by the Navy in 1943, and was in the Army Air Forces until 1946. His obituary in the San Diego Union-Tribune stated that Knudsen was "on track to be a pilot on the B-29 Superfortress, the same kind of plane that dropped the world's first atomic bomb in Hiroshima." Knudsen completed his training after Japan had surrendered. He would eventually write about his growing up and military experiences.

It was in the military that he developed his strong, Catholic faith, and he would remain involved with the Church for the remainder of his life. He was also a longtime member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. He retired from the Union-Tribune in 1977.

His biography indicates he is survived by a wife of 61 years, eight children and a dozen grandchildren.
 
posted 8:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Gerald Scarfe Appointed CBE By Crown

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The illustrator and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe won a CBE distinction placing him in the chivalric society Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, it was announced over the weekend in such a way that I probably have phrased it all wrong here. Scarfe, one of the great living cartooning illustrators, still works for the Sunday Times.
 
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38 Days Until Comic-Con International

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Go, Look: Helsinki Store Opening

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A long, fun letter explaining what you're looking at is right here.
 
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Go, Look: More David Bowie Sketches

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OTBP: Sea Freak

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Doonesbury is back in the newspapers today after a hiatus, and a lot of editors have decisions like these to make.

image* I went to Incredible Hulk on Friday, which has to be the first time I've consciously gone to a movie on opening day in six years, let alone a superhero summer blockbuster. It was dull as dirt. These superhero movies tend to work when they're a) really slickly done, like Iron Man; or b) contain one or more evocative moments that bring to life the emotional yearnings that lie at the heart of those kinds of stories. This wasn't the first, and didn't have the second. In fact, it almost seemed to willfully ignore any opportunity for the second. For instance, they might have done something with the way Hulk moved during his final escape that supported the change in attitude/orientation suggested in the film's final Ed Norton moment. Or, you know, they could have tried to communicate anything other than not-great CGI being put through its paces. I'm certain the movie will do well with the target fans, but it sure wasn't for me. Let me put it to you like this: I watched the 2005 Sammo Hung comeback vehicle SPL on the same day I saw the Hulk movie, and it was so superior in every way as an undemanding piece of pulpy entertainment -- its huge monster in purple pants was a lot more fun to watch move, that's for sure -- that I wanted to retroactively throw a blanket over the Hulk movie and rush it out of the room.

* in case you were wondering, Incredible Hulk continues Marvel's weird Summer 2008 conversational subtext on creators' rights issues, as General Thunderbolt Ross demands ownership of Bruce Banner's body of work and licensing rights, and turns the Super-Soldier formula over to another work-for-hire creator. I can hardly wait for Thor's exegesis on trademarks and public domain.

* the ADV magazine PiQ will cease publication after a reasonably well-hyped launch earlier this year. The article kind of takes their word on how awesome they were, although there must have been something about the magazine that didn't inspire confidence because I don't remember hearing anything other than dire predictions in private conversations with people that watch that end of the publishing business.

* back in the slightly less odd real world, Hervé St-Louis worries about privacy concerns with the information Marvel's been collecting in its early on-line initiatives and where they might go from here.

* James Owen remembers his comics industry history.

* finally, GalleyCat looks at the first quarter of 2008 in terms of bookstore sales.
 
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Happy 78th Birthday, Frank Thorne!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Vito Delsante!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Arnold Pander!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Killoffer!

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Quick hits
Industry
Grant To Syracuse Collection
On-Line Comics = Crowdsourcing
Steven Grant On Recent Industry Turmoil

Interviews/Profiles
Pulse: Paul Tobin
ComicMix: Scott Allie
FPI Blog: Alan Moore
Excalibur: Ryan North
Digital Strips: DJ Coffman
Big Shiny Robot: Jake Black
Newsarama: Colleen Coover
The Colbert Report: David Hajdu
Daily Cross Hatch: Stuart Kolakovic
Pritzker Military Library: Todd DePastino

Reviews
Paul Gravett: Various
David P. Welsh: Fluffy
Steven M. Bari: Judenhass
Greg McElhatton: Echo #1-3
Richard Krauss: Comic Fan #3
Rob Clough: Pocket Full of Rain
Richard Krauss: Jack in the Box #1
Brian Cronin: Superior Showcase #3

 

 
June 15, 2008


CR Sunday Interview: Gary Panter

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*****

Gary Panter may be the best and most successful cartoonist working in the medium right now that thinks of himself first as a painter. Panter as Painter is the main organizing principle of PictureBox Inc.'s new, slip-cased, shared-name tribute to one of the comics form's acknowledged masters -- and a first-rate designer and illustrator, besides. It's as beautifully photographed and designed as one might expect given the publisher and subject matter. There are component sections that all by themselves would have made exemplary publications.

The great bonus of Gary Panter is that because, as Panter acknowledges in the following interview, the book is designed to introduce people to his work. A slew of first-rate support material dissects and explains both Panter's work and his attitudes towards it. There's no book out there right now that's more important in terms of a must-add to any serious comics library. I love talking to Gary and this interview was no different. We played phone tag for a while before the following conversation took place. He sounded tired.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Your publisher, Dan Nadel, suggested to me that you've been really busy promoting the book. What has that been like?

GARY PANTER: It's just been crazy. This book was a wish that I had since I was a little kid, basically, since I started looking at art books. It was beyond my wildest dreams. And now we have to go sell it. We're doing it by any number of ways. Making music, doing lectures, doing signings, throwing parties, opening Dairy Queens...

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SPURGEON: [laughs] How was Los Angeles? You just got back.

PANTER: It was really good. In Los Angeles I played a musical performance with my friend Devin Flynn, who does the Y'all So Stupid cartoon on the Superdeluxe web site. We have a CD coming out, Ecstatic Peace. I programmed an evening at the movies, a local movie theater. I programmed Satyricon [chuckles]. And they all had to sit through it. I've watched it a million times. And then I did a lecture and a signing at Starlight Books where Matt Groening introduced me, like having Walt Disney introduce you. Two Walt Disneys. Someone walked off with my glasses, which is where I was earlier this afternoon, getting them replaced. They were expensive glasses.

SPURGEON: Someone just walked off with your glasses?

PANTER: Yeah, I had them next to me on the table where I was signing. After the signing they were gone. They're like $500 glasses.

SPURGEON: Well, that sucks.

PANTER: Then what happened? Then we had a big party. Artforum had a big party for me at the Chateau Marmont, sponsored by Paul Reubens and Matt Groening and Mike Kelley, all like star power names. It was just a big party and a lot of my friends came. I don't know if anyone was there from Artforum or not. It's kind of a mystery. I think we entered into the realm of... once DAP picked up promotion of the book, suddenly I'm meeting art people I've only vaguely heard of. And if I've heard of them they must be giant because I don't know anything.

That's what I've been trying to get going all these years: my painting career. That's the point of this whole book. Painting. Maybe it will work.

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SPURGEON: You said an art book is something you always wanted to do. Were you inspired by art books growing up?

PANTER: My father's still a painter, you know. I lived in a tiny town. I was a nerd, so I hung out at the library looking at all the art books. I got into Picasso and all that stuff. My father ran a dime store so I was around comic books like any kid... at the barber shop... but it really wasn't until I saw Zap Comix in '69 that I started thinking about doing comics. I was already painting giant paintings by then. I studied painting in college and I've shown paintings every year, almost, since then. It's just been totally eclipsed by becoming a famous illustrator and cartoonist.

SPURGEON: Reading the book, there's a very comforting and reassuring tone to it. It's presented in a very matter-of-fact way that I imagine would be very appealing to a young artist. Were you cognizant of reaching that kind of audience with this book? Did you want to have a dialog of a certain kind with the potential reader?

PANTER: The book was really the creation of Helene [Silverman, the book's designer] and Dan. I just kind of watched it and moved things around for them. I didn't know how the book was going to turn out. My only wish was that the book really feature my paintings and that it not feature my illustration. To me the book looks really soothing in the front when you see all of those paintings, that's a somehow comprehensible color experience, and in the back it seems kind of like some closet opening and all this stuff falling out. Comics, puppets, light shows... all that kind of stuff. And then it's natural that sketchbooks would be their own thing, just 'cause it's its own activity. I just kind of wished for it and then watched what happened.

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SPURGEON: The suite of written material, how did that become a part of the book?

PANTER: The essays I think need to be in an art book because most people, any artist almost, if you see them in an art store you don't know who they are, maybe, and then if these other people you have heard of speak for them... that's definitely the front of the book.

The interview happened because Edwin Pouncey wanted to write a book on me a million years ago. My friend Norman Hathaway was always pushing us to do this book. So when it started, though it changed over time, Dan brought Edwin over for a couple of weeks and he interviewed me, about 20 hours worth. They went back and transcribed that, and then decided there wasn't enough stuff on the painting end because Edwin and I just started talking about stuff we like to talk about. For 20 hours.

Then Dan asked me a whole bunch more questions and it got edited into this monologue at the end, which is kind of foreign and strange to me. That's what they're like. They're normal, I think.

SPURGEON: At one point you suggest there's an imbalance between how you're known and how you'd like to be known. What kind of reaction to the people have that come to your painting through your comics and illustration work? Do they have a different reaction? Do they just not care about that aspect of your work? With a book like this, are you getting reactions from people that came at it expecting something a bit different?

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PANTER: There's been a few comic fans that are disappointed there's not more comics in it. My comics have been like a million times more accessible than this other stuff. I'm not worried about that. I think a lot of people do know I paint in the illustration community. It's in the fine art world they don't know I paint because I started a dialog elsewhere.

I have been showing for years and years. I was never affiliated with a giant gallery that could move into really selling paintings for a lot of money, which would be the objective. Gracie Mansion went out of business after I showed with her in the late '80s. That was a big gallery; she was great. This show I just had in New York, Clementine, they've also gone bankrupt just because of the hesitation of the market the last eight months. I have a really neat gallery in Dallas. I dropped out of Billy Shire's gallery in LA, because he wasn't selling my work, and I think he has too many people doing imagery in there. It's like all these weird relationships.

I can't make money from cartoons. Four thousand people read my comic books. I can't make money from comics. I sell my original for a lot of money when I sell my comics, but it's very finite. I think most art is really underpriced. Comic art. So it's good for people like us where if we get money we buy comic art.

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SPURGEON: So a book like this, what can that do for you? Does it help you establish relationships with galleries? Is it just bringing that aspect of your work to the attention of people who follow that art form?

PANTER: I think a book like this makes people happy; it's like a chance to go through an artist's drawers. If you care what's in there.

But, yeah: it's supposed to connect me up to people in the world that buy paintings that never heard of me before. If I could sell eight paintings a year at a decent price, I could afford to do comics. I can't afford to do comics. I just do little illustrations one after another, design tennis shoes or whatever, throw the money at the bills. That's why it takes another eight years for Jimbo to come out.

Maybe I'll never make a lot of money. I'm making a lot of money compared to most cartoonists, I think. It's just... New York's expensive. Everyplace else is expensive, I guess. Being adult is expensive. As you know, right?

SPURGEON: If I ever become one, I'll let you know.

PANTER: Any trip to the hospital can change everything.

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SPURGEON: There were a couple of statements you made in the course of that long essay that I found interesting. One was that you spoke about great art coming out of infantile obsessions.

PANTER: [laughs]

SPURGEON: I'm inclined to agree with you but I wonder about the difference between great art that comes out of infantile obsessions and most art that comes out of infantile obsessions. Bad art. Because certainly the latter is more prevalent.

PANTER: When I said that and when I read it later I thought, "That was a lame thing to try and get away with." [Spurgeon laughs] At the same time, say, like the Lowbrow art movement now. It deals with infantile obsessions. But I'm sorry, guys -- and this really might piss some people off -- there's not a lot of ideas there. You can line up the favorite toys you ever had, and draw pictures of them, and maybe it will be great art and maybe it will just be a picture of some neat-looking toys. I get excited about art that's beautiful and interesting to look at, but also opens up a new part of my head. So a lot of the art I'm interested in is infantile obsessions or basic obsessions; the thing that drives great artists, the ones that I get excited about -- and I get excited about a lot of artists. I just had the pleasure with Dan of going to meet Karl Wirsum and his wife up in Chicago. In some ways he's a guy you might say he's dealing with infantile obsessions. He's certainly almost regressed into almost a psychotic state -- or simulating a psychotic state in order to produce these beautiful statements.

Say Dan Flavin. A guy who lines up light fixtures in interesting ways. Where did that come from? Is it infantile obsessions? Is it an obsession? Is it just a well-composed picture? What? It makes me think a lot more than just one more Tiki and a fez.

SPURGEON: For someone who's not used to thinking about visual art in a sophisticated fashion, is there any way to get at exactly what you mean by there not being a lot of ideas there?

PANTER: It's kind of like if you read a comic book and it's like Carl Barks vs. Underdog. Underdog could be well-written or even well-executed. It's how you judge the art that you see and what gets you personally excited. The same things won't necessarily get us excited. To me, it's more exciting if I see that there's permission or something that reinforces an idea I had that I couldn't articulate. Or it actually takes my blinders off for a minute. That can happen in any medium, from poetry to short story writing to whatever.

Eduardo Paolozzi and Claes Oldenburg I think are examples of guys who took childish activity and then built it into an adult artistic practice. Eduardo Paolozzi, he's kind of the founder of English pop art almost. Along with JG Ballard, the writer, and Richard Hamilton. He was an Italian in England, and his father was interred in World War II when the Italians were arrested in England, and accidentally sunk on a ship. They had an ice cream store. He got interested in everything. He has this omnivorous appetite for all kinds of information. He ended up being a main sculptor in England, but also a collage artist and that's where the term pop came from, from one of his collages. He would cut everything together from National Geographics and comic books.

Anyway, he did these silk screen portfolios in the 1960s and 1970s that were kind of a huge fuel for pop. Warhol's the only one anyone thinks about anymore. He was really... he did beautiful stuff, but he was about branding, mostly. That's what people were trying to do, was just brand.

Gee, I'm just blabbing on and on. [laughter]

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SPURGEON: Is there a danger at this point in your career -- you talk about repetition a bit in the written material. Did looking at the work in the course of making a book out of it make you think of it differently? Is there a danger in following specific interests that you have in terms of getting too locked into something rather than seeing the art in a fresh way?

PANTER: I seem to make old guy comics now. I remember working for this animator back in the '70s: Tex Henson, who had been at Disney in the '30s. He was drawing these stupid comics that looked kind of like Spike and Tyke. Bulldogs and cats and stuff. And I thought, "Gee, what an idiot. I'm doing this advanced, Clockwork Orange-y stuff. I'm in the future, and he's back there with his stupid bulldogs." Now I'm drawing bulldogs and cats and squirrels. What is that? I can't be hip and fresh and young. I'm not that anymore. I try to be, so that's sort of what I can do. Making music puts me on an edge. In religion I couldn't do music; it was a stunted thing. A forbidden thing. In the last couple of years I've really tried to do that with my friend Devin. That's totally like skittering on ice. Pushing it. Everybody's not going to like this, but so what? I won't be as angry in the old folks home if I risk more.

SPURGEON: Is that a feeling you can only achieve by moving into a different art form? Is there blowback that has an effect on your painting or on your cartoons?

PANTER: I think it's the same in every area. Each area has different challenges. I'm trying to figure out what the next Jimbo book would be. How long it will take to do, will I live long enough to see it done. That kind of stuff. I can't make a bigger book. It doesn't make sense to me. I can't make Paradise bigger. That's stupid. The way I keep comic books is just in shoe boxes, with little comics in bags in there. Then I think about making genre comics in bags in a shoe box or something? Maybe doing a comic with different characters, different genre comics or something. I'm just trying to think fresh about it.

If I were to follow through, the logical thing to do with Jimbo in Paradise would be to make it a few inches bigger, make it even more mandalic, make it erotic, make it this and that. But I don't know that I want to get on that same treadmill.

SPURGEON: The new book is a real big, fancy slip-cased hardcover production. And yet some of your work has been in ragged formats, mini-comics and comic books distributed or even published by Marvel. You've been all over the place in terms of format. Do you make format choices specific to the project, or is there an overriding element to those choices?

PANTER: It's important to make something that's thrilling. A mini-comic, with the right color of paper, the right staples, the right distance apart, the right way to ink, and a little stack of them on your table, can just be totally thrilling. And so can an embroidered patch, right from a factory. Or a stupid plate like I draw on that's on my site. I'm just trying to stay excited.

I grew up -- not on a farm, but a little suburb in a little town. It was just boring, you know? "God, I'm just stuck here. What's out there?" So when the '60s happened, and it was in magazines, it was very exciting. "Oh my God, it's like, this water's rushing through. We're going to go with and see what happens." I always wanted to be one of those people or identify with that process of finding interesting stuff and passing it along and trying to suggest things to do. That's one thing that's fun to do, is to think of something like puppets. "Oooh, I hate puppets. They suck. They're stupid." [Spurgeon laughs] But you could do something neat with them. Contrary with them. And if you did the right thing, then you could like stimulate interest in that medium in a way.

It's for myself and it's for this audience. I like the idea of affecting others somehow.

SPURGEON: I guess the danger would be doing something that's contrary without anything to it.

PANTER: Yeah, that would be bad. [laughter] I did this mini-comic where this squirrel is obsessing about Henry Webb's balls. [Spurgeon laughs] Chris Ware wrote me and said that his wife, Marnie, had been chuckling about it at night. I felt like a giant success for the rest of my life. Someone really woke up again and had a chuckle. What could be better?

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SPURGEON: How do you feel about the attention that's paid to your comics work? Your inclusion in the Masters show, things like that... how do you react to that degree of recognition of something that might not even be what you'd most like to be known for?

PANTER: That was just really lucky. That was really... perhaps inappropriate. [laughs] It was fantastic. It was just a dream to be associated with these people that are a million times better than me. I think it's all good, you know? Just as a matter of economics, if I happen to make interesting paintings, and I can find people that will buy them for lots of money, then I can do a lot more crazy projects. I can build more sculptures and do all kinds of things. As it is, I can hit the bills every month, I've been doing that for 35 years, and then stealing time in the middle of the night to do this kind of stuff. Apply for grants, and I haven't got them yet. I have some kind of ambition to... at 57 I realize I'm not going to be around for a while, and what am I waiting for? If I really want to do something, I might as well get on with it.

This book, the fear at the beginning was "Oh my God, I won't have enough stuff to go into this book." One cool thing was finding out, "Oh, I've got too much stuff for this book." The book's just like a slice, and that's kind of exciting.

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SPURGEON: Is there any worry that a book like this can be seen as a tombstone? That it's a summing up?

PANTER: You could kill someone with it.

SPURGEON: That's true, and I have. [Panter laughs] Is there anything that's daunting about having this kind of summary statement out there?

PANTER: I could die right now and have a mission accomplished. I'm really a lot more ambitious than that. I'm thinking, "Man, if I can only live 15 more years and be productive, I can do another book's worth." I get encouraged a whole lot. A lot of encouragement. I could do more things.

SPURGEON: Here's kind of a weird question. I was preparing for this interview and someone was sitting over my shoulder and commented on a picture of you on my screen, saying you looked much too skinny and healthy to be a cartoonist.

PANTER: [laughs]

SPURGEON: It's not always a healthy lifestyle, being an artist. Is there anything you do that might help you make those 15 years?

PANTER: I have diverticulitis [laughs]. I can only eat half my food. If I eat all of my food, I have to go to hospital. Or not eat for a week. I've lost about 15 or 20 pounds since I got it a few years ago.

We live in a three-story house, so I go up and down the stairs a hundred times a day. I don't really exercise as such. I play guitar really hard for an hour a day. I masturbate a few times a day. [Spurgeon laughs] But that's not really aerobic.

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SPURGEON: I always wonder how artists avoid some of the pitfalls of the lifestyle.

PANTER: Cigarettes are horrible. I smoked cigarettes for years. That was like a vote every day for death. I've continued smoking pot for 35 years. I've got these allergies and things. I don't think pot's killing me. I had my lungs x-rayed. They looked fine. I do have asthma now from the stupid cats.

I think not being too heavy is probably a lot of it. I don't eat great food. I drink a lot of chocolate milk and my wife makes a real meal once a day. But I can't overeat. I used to.

SPURGEON: While I'm asking odd questions, you were really early on in your appreciation of Jack Kirby when he passed away. There's been this huge body of work in a similar vein since. I don't know if you follow that stuff, all the books and magazines, but do you feel there's anything that's under-appreciated or not yet appreciated about him?

PANTER: I think he's really appreciated. The comics world is one world, but I think that Kirby does escape into the wider world pretty often. I see articles about him a lot. He was appreciated in the comics world. Now he's even more directly imitated and stuff. I don't know if his heirs have as much money as they need to have. That would be nice.

I've loved Jack Kirby since my friend David Douglass turned me onto him in the fifth or sixth grade. I didn't get it at first but then -- by the second bologna sandwich [laughs] -- I figured out what was so great. When that '70s stuff happened, the DC stuff, most of me and my friends have all that stuff. It's not worth anything because we all bought it, but it's worth it for those socko covers every month, the spreads.

I accidentally drove to Thousand Oaks when I was in LA. I took a wrong turn. You get out there in Thousand Oaks and it's the landscape from his comics. Blistered, planet-wracked mountains out there. It's really interesting if you go to Thousand Oaks.

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SPURGEON: What about the landscapes in your own work?

PANTER: It's really important for a lot of reasons.

SPURGEON: Is it a Texas landscape we're seeing?

PANTER: Texas, Mexico, the southwest... alien planets. Kind of a figure grounding thing. First I paint the background and then I put the figures in front of it. Whatever they are. Even if they're bricks or fragments. Usually they're fragments of characters and objects. Ed Ruscha did some wide, narrow paintings that I love back in the '70s. That kind of got me going in that direction. Painting really wide, narrow paintings. It's like a landscape.

There's something I'm trying to think of that I can't think of. I know this is going to make no sense. Robert Storr, the guy who wrote the interview at the front of the book: he's a powerful art world figure. He's always been really nice to me. His paintings -- I haven't seen them, but I've talked to him about them over the years. They're very formal. He's probably just painting rectangles and squares or something. Probably very beautiful. He saw my work as jumping all over the place and never settling down. He asked me what held it together. I hemmed and hawed, but when he left I thought about it. What I came up with -- this is really stupid -- when I start painting I think of where's the water. You don't necessarily see the water, but that's the first thing I think about. You already have air, or you'd be dead. You have a while to find water. In the paintings, that's what I think about. That's the first moment, anyway.

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SPURGEON: I'm near the end of my time with you -- so what's next? You mentioned you were trying to figure out the next Jimbo, which means that's a ways off. What are you working on right now?

PANTER: I've been doing a lot of formal paintings. I think when people have seen my paintings in shows over the years, they've been like, "Oh. Cartoony paintings." People have been encouraging me to do more oddball installations -- the kind of things I do here in my studio. I've done a couple of those now. One's up at the Aldrich Museum, and one was at the Clementine which you can still see on-line. I did weirder installations. People seemed to really respond to them. They're encouraging me to say, "Okay, I'm not going to be totally austere here." Do something a little crazier.

I'm following up a lot of leads now, applying for grants and stuff. I'd like to stage some events, and maybe they would involve publications and chocolate milk dispensers and puppet shows and live bands and light shows. Some kind of happening or something. I don't know. I'll draw a picture first.

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* cover to the deluxe edition
* various images of Panter paintings
* image of the new Picturebox, Inc. book

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* Gary Panter, Picturebox Inc., slip-cased hardcover, 700 pages, 9780979415319 (ISBN13), April 2008, $95.

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If I Were In MA, I’d Go To This

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Five Link A Go Go

* go, read: Heidi MacDonald interviews David Glanzer of CCI

* go, watch: using motion capture for an editorial cartoon-style animation

* go, read: appreciation of MAD

* go, read: overground-era classic Thrill-Kill

* go, read: The Power of the Paintbrush
 
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FFF Results Post #124—780 Verbal

On Friday afternoon, participating CR readers were asked to "Name Five Words You Learned As A Kid From Comic Books or Comics-Related Publications And Where You Learned Them." Here are the results.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Nascent -- X-Men
2. Farshimmelt -- MAD
3. Eldritch -- Avengers
4. Verily -- Thor
5. Excelsior -- Bullpen Bulletins

suggested by Charles Hatfield

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Eric Reynolds

1. amok - Hulk
2. puny - Hulk
3. exorcism - Crusaders
4. snikt - X-Men
5. Mxyzptlk - Superman

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Nat Gertler

Fussbudget - Peanuts
Atlantean - The Defenders
Aaugh - Peanuts
Remuneration - Omega the Unknown
Overly-eight - Peanuts

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Grant Goggans

1. rendezvous - that Wonder Woman book & record set where she fights Mars, god of war
2. borscht - Gold Key's Bullwinkle
3. materializing - The World's Greatest Super Heroes newspaper strip
4. SALT: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks - Cracked
5. chocklit - Archie

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Vito Delsante

1. mutant (X-men)
2. telekinesis (X-men)
3. philanthropist (Batman)
4. gaijin (X-men...notice the trend in my childhood reading habits)
5. scion (This was either from Thor or a similarly "regal" comic that I'm forgetting)

I also learned more than a few Russian, German and Scottish "conversational phrases" thanks to the X-Men.

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James Bucky Carter

All from The X-Men (or being curious about their names or powers):
Juggernaught
Colossus
Rogue
Magneto
Telekinesis

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Ian Sampson

Discombobulated -- Calvin & Hobbes
Prehensile -- X-men
Barnacle -- Tintin
Psyche -- X-men
Prognosticate -- Asterix & Obelix

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Gus Mastrapa's Mom

My mom tells the story that she won a spelling bee because she learned to spell "alibi" from reading Superman.

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Michael Grabowski

1. bigot -- Stan's Soapbox
2. fershlugginer -- Stan's Soapbox
3. nullifier -- Fantastic Four
4. potzrebie -- Mad
5. penultimate -- Cerebus

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Evan Dorkin

1. Buffoon - Fantastic Four
2. Furshlugginer - Mad
3. Voluminous - Thor
4. Dummkopf - Captain America
5. Naysayer - Stan Lee bullpen blathering

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Five For Friday Will Return One Week From Friday

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Happy 26th Birthday, Corey Lewis!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Don McGregor!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Brent Anderson!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Brian Hibbs!

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Happy Father’s Day!

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These were my father's favorite movies: All Quiet on the Western Front, Anatomy of a Murder, A Place in the Sun, Bad Day at Black Rock, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Bright Road, Citizen Kane, It Happens Every Spring, Magnificent Obsession (1953), Manchurian Candidate, Rio Bravo, Singing in the Rain, Strangers on a Train, Sunday Dinner for a Soldier, The Keeper of the Flame, and Viva Zapata.

These were my father's favorite books: The Fifth Seal by Mark Aldanov, The Last Time I Saw Paris by Elliot Paul, The Arch Triumph by Eric Maria Remarque.
 
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First Thought Of The Day

It's gotta be Jindal, right?
 
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June 14, 2008


If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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

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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Toronto, I’d Go To This

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from June 7 to June 13, 2008:

1. Disaffected man goes on rampage in nerd-focused Akihabara District, killing several people.

2. Given the subject's past record of moving on to new companies when old ones are burned up, Scott Rosenberg's creation of a new company to manage rights for potential movie exploitation just as his Platinum starts to have troubles raised some eyebrows.

3. Tokyopop may move the bulk or all of certain print offerings on-line in the wake of their recent re-structuring/firings.

Winner Of The Week
MoCCA Festival, with another successful year despite the fire department showing up and mind-melting temperatures on the top floor throughout.

Loser Of The Week
Sean Delonas -- the criticism that comes when he deals with certain subject matter is almost automatic now.

Quote Of The Week
"Obviously my memory chips at 82 (going on 83) are, indeed, rotting, and your copy of my letter to Mrs. Wertham was quite a shock to me, because I had neither remembered calling or writing her. But obviously I did just that." -- Al Feldstein

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Hillman Publications
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Jenn Manley Lee!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Jamie Cosley!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Cosey!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Jordi Bernet!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Paul Kupperberg!

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June 13, 2008


Five For Friday #124—780 Verbal

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Five For Friday #124 -- Name Five Words You Learned As A Kid From Comic Books or Comics-Related Publications And Where You Learned Them

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1. Nascent -- X-Men
2. w -- MAD
3. Eldritch -- Avengers
4. Verily -- Thor
5. Excelsior -- Bullpen Bulletins

suggested by Charles Hatfield

This Subject Is Now Closed. Thanks To All That Played.

Please Note: This Week's Five For Friday Results May Or May Not Be Posted On Sunday; It May Be A Couple Of Weeks. Or Not.

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Five For Friday is a reader response feature. To play, send a response while it's still Friday. Play fair. Responses up Sunday morning.
 
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Friday Distraction: Long List Of Free Comics To Read On The Internet

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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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Ben Schwartz on An Open Air Response to Jeff Smith’s Response to My Anonymous Response…

... to the BEA First Ever Graphic Novelist's Continental Breakfast

By Ben Schwartz

Jeff Smith asks a legitimate question when he asks, "And who the fuck are you?"

In the interests of full disclosure, I sent an e-mail to Tom Spurgeon disagreeing with the BEA coverage I had seen on-line. Tom asked if it was OK to use some of my comments anonymously at a later date, and I OK'd it. And he did so, accurately. Whether they appear anonymously or under my by-line, I stand by every word I wrote.

imageTo answer Jeff, I've been covering comics as a freelance journalist since 1986, from my essays on Carl Barks in the Barks Library to The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Comic Art, as well as currently for Vanity Fair, Bookforum, and an anthology of comics criticism I'm editing for Fantagraphics (who are also publishing a non-fiction comics and comedy history book of mine). I've written comics with, among others, Howard Chaykin, Ivan Brunetti, Terry Colon, and Peter Bagge, and am currently working with Bagge on an animated project, adapting his character Studs Kirby. And finally, I've been a member of the WGA since 1996, mainly for screenwriting, where I've worked with James Cameron, Arnold Kopelson, Stan Winston, and Howard Chaykin, among others.

As to Jeff's comment, "Please, you think Mike Mignola and I need a lesson in comics history? And who the fuck are you?" While the panel as a whole did discuss movies and comics, to be fair to Mignola, and Jeph Loeb, [Art] Spiegelman was mainly addressing Jeff on Will Eisner's use of cinematic technique in The Spirit, which Jeff felt was a sort of turning point for comics. Spiegelman disagreed, which has been reported elsewhere. The point is, he wasn't addressing the audience. But no, I'm sure Jeff Smith doesn't need any lessons on comics, least of all from me.

I agree with Jeff on one point. The crowd was impressive, and that says a lot about the enthusiasm comics are generating now, one of the few places the publishing industry can look to these days as a growth sector. As I wrote originally, I saw lots of positive stuff going on at BEA for comics. I also did not attend the second panel Jeff mentions, so maybe that one was great, I don't know.

Finally, no one should take my view of the event as any estimation of the panelists work. The four of them drew a huge crowd, and for good reason, with plenty of fans seeking autographs and lining up for a few moments to talk to the artists.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* part of me thinks that I've already linked to this, but here's a long article about the Danish cartoons as a symptom of the changing face of liberal politics in Denmark. I'm not sure I agree with all of the points, but there's a lot there to consider.

* the Danish Cartoons Controversy serves as informative backdrop for a new and well-received movie.

* the name of the person at the Associated Press that decided not to release the Muhammed caricatures when they became news is Kathleen Carroll, who explains why here. As I've stated a million times before, I think informing the public trumps offending people at a certain point, and that point was reached when it became a worldwide news story.

* this article engages the part of the worldwide protest over the Muhammed caricatures that hit Indonesia as a struggle between moderates and extremists.

* do hurt feelings about the caricatures come from a feeling of hopelessness?
 
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I Love Going To The Comic Book Store

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I buy Comicos for 50 cents or less on general principle.

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Is it my imagination, or did Terry LaBan do about as many alt-comix as Peter Bagge did in the late '90s?

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I actually got the comic book version of this, not the poster

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Time and Place: Chicago Comics, near Clark & Belmont in beautiful, blustery, hot Chicago.
Time: 6:00 PM-ish, June 12.
Total Cost: $13.89
Additional Notes: My comic book store purchases are dominated by superhero books (from companies that don't send me freebies) and whatever I can find in the discount bin; I took advantage of both in one of the nation's leading comic book stores. The clerks weren't as chatty as I remember them being; neither Eric was there. They were talking amongst themselves about the Lynda Barry book party going on at that very moment (I couldn't make it because of a professional commitment and because it was in a place that discouraged me from trying a drop-by). I saw one store person (I think) decline to knock money off of some older guy's purchases in exchange for the free tarot readings he was offering. You don't see that kind of thing at Wal-Mart. It's still a great shop, although I sort of miss the old-old days when superhero periodicals weren't so dominant on the western wall. Of course, I'm old enough to remember when they (or their predecessor) were located a bit further south on Belmont past that huge liquor store. It's certainly a different industry now.

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Another Sean Delonas Cartoon Criticized

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Another Sean Delonas cartoon in the New York Post has garnered the attention of at least one New York region media critic. Delonas has been accused in the past of fomenting sexual orientation bigotry to serve his jokes.
 
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Collective Memory: MoCCA Festival ‘08

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Go, Look: Witzend #4

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Go, Look: Baby’s House

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Go, Look: Mystic #31

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Go, Look: Ever Since Adam And Eve

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Speaking of Babymen…

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K. Thor Jensen sent us this link to the most terrifying web site ever.
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* former Marvel staffer Aubrey Sitterson makes his presence felt at WWE.

image* I was only barely aware of this Harvey Kurtzman newspaper strip. It's been a pretty good week for learning about comics on which you might not be totally informed, as with this piece on three great editorial cartoonists, and this article about cartooning in Nicaragua. I also wasn't fully aware of Jeanie.

* a sneak preview of Little Baby Dicebox Stumptown.

* actor and geek culture commentator Wil Wheaton isn't going to CCI, and you can blame the 2008 Tokyopop Purge. Speaking of which, here's a bunch of links I hadn't seen in one place, and in most cases not at all.

* finally, the retailer and writer Chris Butcher uses a fresh example to say why he doesn't like Diamond exclusives: Diamond is too quick to say that something is sold out when it isn't. In fact, the quickness of it isn't the problem as much as the saying something is sold out when something is available part.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Damien Jay!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Kris Dresen!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Frank Cirocco!

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Quick hits
Craft
The Use Of Line
How D'Israeli Works Right Now

Exhibits/Events
Post Bang Write-Up
Giant Post Bang Wrap-Up
Indie Spinner Rack at MoCCA
Report From Jeff Kinney School Visit

History
All About The Hulk
Laura Hudson on 1990s Wizard
Comic Books A Cautionary Tale
On Real-World Atrocities In Comics
Editorial Cartoon Warned Of Flooding

Industry
Cagle Satirizes Zell
Cartoonist Hockey Bet
Profile of Twin Cities Scene
Newer Comics Back to OCR

Interviews/Profiles
NPR: Jay Lynch
Inkstuds: Blake Bell
PWCW: Karl Stevens
BlogCritics: Mike Dawson
HNN.com: Todd DePastino
Geeks of Doom: Darick Robertson

Not Comics
Kids Reading Report
Chris Ware Animates
Marvel At The Movies
Unlikely Children's Book Collaborators
Graeme McMillan: Comic Books Unbound

Publishing
Navy Manga Hits
Christophe Blain in Pilote
Viper Doing Horror Imprint
Moderately Confused = POD
Matt Richtel Has a Book Deal
New Access Point For Euro Books

Reviews
Kevin Church: Various
Xavier Guilbert: Kazuo
Jog: Pocket Full of Rain
David P. Welsh: Various
Michael Moon: What It Is
Isa Tousignant: What It Is
John Mitchell: Green Lama
Don MacPherson: Local #12
Sean T. Collins: Paradise Kiss Vols. 1-5
Timothy Callahan: Madman Atomic Comics #9
Jamaal Thomas: How To Understand Israel Vol. 1
 

 
June 12, 2008


Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* this piece makes a nice point that a lot of what we're seeing right now in terms of protests and activities related to the 2005 publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper now comes from governments.

* a series of posters with Muhammed cartoon-style imagery slightly reminiscent of the original caricatures has alarmed Prague.

* here's an article that seeks to place blame for murder where it belongs: the murderers. I have to think there's some way to have a discussion of the wisdom and offense of actions without it boiling down into this kind of crossed-arms "I can't believe you're suggesting we're responsible for murder" rhetoric, but maybe there isn't.
 
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Go, Look: More Boris Artzybasheff

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Go, Look: Heldentage 2.0

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Go, Look: Ren and Stimpy Storyboard

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I had massive computer problems this morning that just got solved... right at the end of my available time for updating this site. I apologize.

* the artist Mike Manley continues his thoughts on the state of the industry, as a disquisition on 2008 catchphrase of the year "babymen" warps into a analysis of the oncoming digital media tsunami. I think I disagree with a lot of this, but I don't have the time today to gather my thoughts on the matter in a way that Mike deserves. In general, I think that comics hasn't really been an art form for the masses since the late 1940s, and the assumption that it should act that way or even could act that way leads to a lot of distorted reasoning. Also, secondary art forms have strengths and weaknesses that allow them to negotiate technology changes differently than those that seek a mass, casual audience.

image* the great Lynda Barry is appearing about three miles away from me as I write this sentence.

* the Eisner Awards voting closes this Friday. I've been voting every day for weeks now.

* the artist and author James Owen reports on the Eisner exhibit at Storyopolis right around BEA.

* the cartoonist Jim Davis is interviewed and sounds so laid back and mellow I de-stressed just by reading it.

* I totally missed this report of flooding at the Thornton, Colorado Mile High Comics store, and my apologies to whomever saw it recently and caused people to send me e-mail about it.

* any kid that wants to start smoking because he or she .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) has a lot more to worry about than cancer.

* finally, here's a massive on-line roundtable on webcomics' role in the next several months if the nation slips into a recession, or there's an Internet bust 2.0 or some other dire economic circumstance.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Len Wein!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Scott Roberts!

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June 11, 2008


This Isn’t A Library: New And Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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*****

I didn't mean to kill this feature. I just kept forgetting to do them.

Here are those books that jump out at me from this week's probably mostly accurate 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 works listed here -- I might not buy any -- but were I in a comic book shop I would likely pick up the following and look them over, potentially resulting in mean words and hurt feelings when my retailer objected.

*****

JAN080242 ABSOLUTE SANDMAN HC VOL 03 DC COMICS $99.00
I think everyone wins with these super-fancy collections. The super-fancy collection buyers get something to buy, and those of us who are just fine with the comic books see the prices go down on the individual issues.

DEC070272 WILL EISNERS SPIRIT ARCHIVES HC VOL 24 DC COMICS $59.99
I have an introduction in one of these coming up; I'm not sure it's this one. I was drunk when I wrote it, but Scott Nybakken is a really good editor. That piece contains within its body the nerdiest thing I've ever done; if anyone out there is able to catch it and lets me know what it is the next time they see me, I'll try to buy you something.

NOV072013 INVINCIBLE #50 IMAGE $4.99
Robert Kirkman's other top-selling independent title reaches one of those important milestones. It's a charming comic if you like straightforward superhero adventures, and I can't figure out why Kirkman's stab at something like this works when others feel so creatively bankrupt.

APR082269 HULK RAGING THUNDER MARVEL $3.99
If this is a comic about the Incredible Hulk riding around on a cigarette boat with Chris Lemmon, I'm buying multiple copies.

APR082270 SKAAR SON OF HULK #1 MARVEL $2.99
My new theory is that Marvel is out-pacing DC solely because their comics titles sound like comic book titles instead of academic papers on gaming theory. Also, does the character have a scar? Was he named for the scar or did he just get the scar because they named him that? I guess he should consider himself lucky "Amputee" is a girl's name.

DEC073713 COMPLETE LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE HC VOL 01 IDW $39.99
I'm not sure how long it took for Little Orphan Annie to get good, but when it was good, it was really good. There's nothing quite like it, and I'm not even sure how to describe Gray's creation... That movie where Richard Farnsworth rides a lawnmower cross-country to visit Harry Dean Stanton? That was a lot like the Annie strip.

APR083616 FREDDIE & ME GN COMING OF AGE BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY BLOOMSBURY $19.99
The most surprising thing about Mike Dawson's autobiography through popular culture is that by story's end you feel like you've traveled a great distance, whereas his previous series, Gabagool, had the opposite effect (and since it was a comedy, this wasn't a bad thing). Plus he draws the greatest ugly kids, maybe ever. Dawson's version of himself as a pre-pubescent makes Joe Sacco's famously unflattering self-caricature look like the work of a delusional egotist.

FEB080132 FLUFFY HC DARK HORSE $19.95
Is this the first time Simone Lia's comic has been available in North America? I've always wanted to see this. Good on Dark Horse.

MAR084078 ONE POUND GOSPEL GN VOL 01 2ND ED VIZ $9.99
Wow, I didn't know a first edition of this adorable-looking Rumiko Takahasi manga had come out, unless they're talking about a really old edition being the first one, which they might be.

APR084096 REICH #3 (MR) SPARKPLUG $3.00
This is a fun series that's perfect for the comic book format because it allows for a much easier price point at which to sample. So sample.

*****

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, you're right to assume it's personal. I hate you.
 
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Jeff Smith In Response To Monday’s Anonymous Report on the GN/Comics Authors Panel Breakfast at BEA

Letter Received From Jeff Smith Tuesday Afternoon:

I'm writing in response to an anonymous write up of the BEA Graphic Novel Author's Breakfast that you posted on June 9. It led you to say at its conclusion: "There has to be more going on in comics in the book world this many years in than a progression from 'Hey, they like us!' to 'Hooray, they still like us!' If anyone at the show could tell me what that is, I'd love to run it here."

Well, I attended two panels (including the one I moderated), did two signings and I didn't experience anyone with that kind of naivete. Everyone was quite busy doing the business of selling comics. Diamond now has a booth that takes up a full row (as opposed to the single 8x8 booth they had back when I first attended in 1995, and it was constantly buzzing with representatives of bookstores, publishers and cartoonists. Deals were being struck. Quite the opposite of a bunch of rubes glowing at the big dance, everyone I spoke to was focused on the future, either in terms of meeting deadlines and demands, to what rights to relinquish, and of course the internet. And I'm sure there were panels dedicated to specific industry issues -- graphic novel panels were scheduled all through the weekend.

imageBack to the anonymous write up of the Graphic Novel Authors Breakfast.

I found the highly dismissive attitude very sad.

The idea that people were bored, leaving and being replaced by new people who were also so bored that they had to leave just doesn't ring true. If someone got up to leave, (which may have happened, it was a big room and people were moving around), no one wandered in to take their place. The room was sold out. And from my view on the panel, the room was packed from start to finish. We even went over our time limit and people stayed in huge numbers afterward to have their books signed.

This wasn't a summit meeting or even a panel designed to focus on a topic. It was a BEA breakfast designed to let people visit with authors. I didn't choose the panelists, nor did I ask to moderate it, but given the artists we had, and their vastly different styles and areas of expertise, I'm pretty pleased with the result.

If your anonymous person who covers the industry thought he was going to hear Art Spiegelman and Jeph Loeb discuss the importance of manga vs. graphic novels in bookstores, I'm sure he or she was disappointed when our panelists instead explained to an audience used to prose why they chose comics as their art form.

I enjoyed Art's spirited speech about cross cutting and other visual innovations that came from comics, but because of its benefit for the audience, not for the panelists.

Please, you think Mike Mignola and I need a lesson in comics history? Who the fuck are you?

I spoke with literally hundreds of attendees during the course of the day and this account was much more like what happened and how it was received.

Make no mistake, the breakfast was a resounding success, not just because it sold out, but because it succeeded in exciting many, many new people about what comics are, where they came from, and who these people are that are driven to make them.

Jeff Smith

*****

Bonus: Lance Fensterman of BEA and NYCC Writes In With Answer to Other Part of Same Post, Where I Asked How BEA Gets Booked Years In Advance While NYCC Gets Booked a Year or So at a Time

We are wrangling with the Javits Center on dates for NYCC and have been since the show's inception. Why we have dates for BEA booked 10 years out is the fact that by convention center standards (I am far from endorsing these standards!) BEA is a more attractive show in that it is all trade which they believe means more hotel nights and more big-ticket parties. Convention centers prefer trade events to public events as they see them as better for the local economy. Again, I don't subscribe to this logic and in fact have been fighting it hard with Javits.

Also to keep in mind is that BEA is over 100 years old, moves cities (thus giving us more options to keep our historical dates) and is 4 times the size of NYCC, all these factors make it easier to book the event out 10 years. However, we will get to that point with NYCC, that day is coming and we are working extremely hard to get a permanent home on the calendar for NYCC.

Lance Fensterman

*****

Conclusion: I need to start phoning people before I write articles.

You probably already knew this.

*****
*****
 
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Bolling, Cannon Win 2008 AAN Awards

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Ruben Bolling's Tom The Dancing Bug took the 2008 Cartoon division at the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' AltWeekly Awards, given out on June 7 in Philadelphia. Bolling's strip is a four-time winner. Cartoonist Kevin Cannon won in the Innovation category for his "Twin Cities Rock Atlas," a two-page cartoon map that ran in City Pages in December 2007. You sort of have to see that one to believe it. Cannon wrote about making that feature here.

Other cartoonists cited in the Cartoon division were Max Kornell, Jen Sorensen and Dwayne Booth. A set of the entrants' work can be found here.
 
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Those Who Don’t Know Comics History…

Great, great catch by Dirk Deppey at Journalista!, who notes the conflation of what seems like financial trouble at Platinum Studios and owner Scott Rosenberg's announcement of a new venture called Vanguard Comics. Rosenberg first came to the attention of the comics world when in the 1980s black and white boom and its immediate aftermath he created multiple companies and used the advantages of having multiple companies to make as much hay as possible while avoiding what some believed were basic responsibilities to individual companies and the comics market. As Deppey notes, there doesn't seem to be anything different about what Vanguard plans to do when compared to what Platinum is supposed to do except that the former company seems to not be having financial problems.
 
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More On Frederic Wertham & Hajdu vs. Beaty: Craig Fischer Talks to Al Feldstein

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Craig Fischer rehashes some of the arguments surrounding David Hajdu's recent The Ten-Cent Plague, including Bart Beaty's objections to some of that work on this site. With access to Al Feldstein, he asks the one-time EC editor about an argument or two advanced by Beaty in his book, Frederic Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture.

Dr. Beaty responds.
 
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OTBP: Murder

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Go, Look: Rodrigo Estrada Gil

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Go, Look: Witteks Comic Comics

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Go, Look: Robert Heindel

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there is a very long and involved video profiling Virgin Comics here.

image* the writer Marc Sobel continues his look at the greatest comic book series of all time, Love and Rockets Vol. 1, with a profile of issue #33. I think that issue had the first installment of Wig Wam Bam, which was a very influential serial for me in terms of my own desire to write. That cover still kills, too.

* David Welsh speaks with two departed Tokyopop staffers, Keila N. Ramos and Trond Knutsen.

* David Petersen's Mouse Guard has secured for Archaia Studios Press another ForeWord award.

* I found some of the questions kind of odd, but it's not very often that you get to read someone like Lee Salem answering specific queries about the syndication process. If you want to do a newspaper comic strip, and may God help you if you do, I would imagine it's a must-read.

* now I feel bad for not working harder with my two fully functioning hands.

* here's an update on the interrogation room confession of Tomohiro Kato, the young man who flipped out and first drove into a crowd and then started stabbing and attacking people in the Akihabara shopping district -- well-known for catering to pop culture tourism.

* if a better-than-expected launch for the new Hulk movie comes off, and that's beginning to look like it might happen, add the ability to successfully play the expectations game to Marvel's list of meta-marketing skills.

* finally, Alan Gardner notes that Doonesbury returns from its hiatus next week. It would have been fun to see what he would have done with the extended Democratic primary, but Garry Trudeau has earned his vacation time and seems fully cognizant that such a move could cost him papers, and doesn't complain about this, so he can do whatever he wants. As Gardner notes, a lot of papers need to figure out what to do with strips they were running on an interim basis. Trudeau's high-profile, early-'80s hiatus, really the first of its kind, helped launch Bloom County. I don't hear about any one strip that's benefited from the Trudeau slot being temporarily open, but I'd heard from several people that Washington Post Writer's Group was pushing Candorville to positive effect.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Andrei Molotiu!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Dan Piraro
David Welsh on Bone Exhibit

History
Crisis II Became Legends?
Grant Morrison's Past Projects and Final Crisis

Industry
Bring Your Minis To Heroes Con
And You Thought Your Editors Were Mean

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Robert Kirkman
Newsarama: Peter Laird
Newsarama: Steve Murphy

Not Comics
Nicely Drawn Boys
Neil Gaiman Posts Some Harry Clarke

Publishing
New Big Nate Book
New Street Angel Story
New Publisher Announces Initial Plans
Wieringo Book To Debut at Heroes Con

Reviews
John Mitchell: M
John Mitchell: Flight Explorer
Chris Mautner: Willie and Joe
Leroy Douresseaux: Haunted
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Millennium #3
Nina Stone: American Splendor #3
John Mitchell: Hall of Best Knowledge
Don MacPherson: X-O Manowar: Birth
Greg McElhatton: Captain Britain and MI:13 #1
Patrick Berube: Justice Society of America #16
John Mitchell: Shazam: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
Leroy Douresseaux: Junk: The Record of The Last Hero Vol. 4
 

 
June 10, 2008


All Hail The Original Comics Reporter

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If I Were In Toronto, I’d Go To This

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OTBP: Jeff Smith: Before Bone

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Go, Look: Classic Robotman

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"Surprised and creeped out, Robotman!"
 
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Go, Look: Monsieur Strip Archives

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Go, Look: Web of Evil #2

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Go, Look: This Week In Milford

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the CBLDF has taken over collecting donations for the Rory Root memorial.

image* this Grant Morrison interview about his work on the new DC mega-crossover Final Crisis is fairly fascinating as far as those things go. He seems to be saying that in the recently published first issue of that series he's working in a minor key designed to subvert the noble standards of superhero dramatics, which explains the less than impactful beats in that comic book. Less convincing is an implied argument that fanboys need to get over the fact that his series might work at cross-purposes with plot points in semi-related DC comics. It's not Morrison's fault DC fouled their nest and his a bit by duplicating plot points in other series, but it's not the fan's fault, either. I'd also suggest that noting these jarring differences isn't solely the purview of continuity obsessives. I spend about as much time worrying about DC continuity as I spend mulling over Premier League results or new brands of pantyhose. When I read Final Crisis #1, I naturally thought about what little I knew of recent DC plot points to help put some things in context. I was confused by what I remembered. Again, it's not the kind of thing worth apportioning blame over, because 1) who cares and 2) these things happen. Still, if a writer of a television series suggested I needed to lighten up because their episode was confusing to me in terms of what I remembered of one or two episodes I'd seen from other writers working for the same producers, my first response would be two words that weren't "You're right."

* Chris Butcher talks about the rise and fall of the Kodansha publishing in North America rumor.

* speaking of Tokyopop, our favorite man about manga David Welsh interviews one ex-employee and explains why there might not be a whole bunch of interviews in the batter's box. There will be some, though. Plus: filk.

* Paul Levitz, Road Warrior.

* Mike Manley continues to muse on the overall state of the market and the culture that feeds that market.

* finally, while not exactly comics this is an interesting question to me if only because it seems to suggest a relationship to art I'd never expect of a critic. It's one that you see in comics, too. Me, I'd rather see critics follow their own muse with the same freedom as any other writer or artist.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Scott McCloud!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Charles Vess!

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Quick hits
Craft
Frank King X-Mas Card 1960
Eric Reynolds Sketchbook #54

Exhibits/Events
Hey, it's Don Rosa!
UK Manga Art Exhibition
Comics Made In Germany
Thought Bubble Announces Initial Guests

Interviews/Profiles
Wizard: Dash Shaw
HNN: Todd DePastino
Pop Culture Zoo: Tim Sale
MPN Now: Nicholas Gurewitch
Times of Malta: Harry Farrugia

Not Comics
Gabrielle Bell at Cannes
Philip Pullman on Age Banding

Publishing
Hype For Unlovable

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Brian Hibbs: Trinity #1
Larry Cruz: FreakAngels
Douglas Wolk: Trinity #1
Xaviar Xerexes: The Diaz Codak
Paul O'Brien: Ultimate Origins #1
Sean T. Collins: Aqua Leung Vol. 1
Paul O'Brien: Angel: Revelations #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Hellblazer #239
Koppy McFad: All-Star Superman #11
Paul O'Brien: Wolverine: Dangerous Games
Mark Allen: Hand of the Morningstar Vols. 1-2
Timothy Callahan: Skyscrapers of the Midwest
Tom McLean: Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Shakugan No Shana Vol. 3
Greg McElhatton: Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1
 

 
June 9, 2008


Please Consider Making A Donation To The Rory Root Memorial Celebration

Received this morning:
Due to legal concerns regarding Rory Root's estate Comic Relief cannot fund the memorial celebrations that are scheduled on June 21st.

The two events include a Root family-planned picnic to be held Joaquin Miller Park in the Oakland Hills from 11am-4pm and a Comic Relief staff-planned celebration at Comic Relief 2026 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94530 from 7pm-12:30am

Check or money order will be accepted and can be mailed to:

Comic Relief
ATTN: RDR Memorial
2026 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704

Make checks out to: Todd Martinez

All donations will fund both the day-time & evening gatherings, however, if you wish to specifically donate to one or the other please attach a note as to what event you would like the funds to be used for.

While no donation is necessary to attend either event any support would be greatly appreciated! If you have any questions about donating email rrmemorial@gmail.com.

Complete information and a complete schedule of the planned events will be posted at: http://www.comicrelief.net

Thank you,

Todd C. Martinez
Comic Relief store manager
Hopefully, this will find the necessary supporters.
 
posted 8:28 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Stabbing Spree In Akihabara District

A 25-year-old man named Tomohiro Kato drove a truck into a crowd of strangers mulling about a prominent Tokyo geek-shopping destination area and then jumped out stabbing and attacking pedestrians with knife, international wires report. Five men and one woman were killed, and more than a dozen were injured. Akihabara district has been a focus of international trips and tours for people interested in Japanese gaming, animation and comics culture. It is the worst such daylight incident in Japan since an elementary school rampage seven years ago to the day.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Chris Ware Winning VPRO Grand Prix 2008 at Stripdagen Haarlem

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The European comics news site ActuaBD.com has a piece up about Chris Ware winning the 2008 VPRO Grand Prix award last Friday. They note that Ware is being cited for his comics, his design work and his sketchbooks; that there's a 1000 Euro cash prize; that past winners are any) Joe Sacco (2002), Lewis Trondheim (2004) and Manu Larcenet (2006); and that Marcel Ruijters won the Dutch author prize given out at the same time. The VPRO Grand Prix is one of the few awards that tries to basically name the greatest working cartoonist in the world without hedging their bets, so it's always interesting to see who's honored.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* more details on a Jordan court's indictment of various folks surrounding the re-publication of Muhammed caricatures in Denmark.

* there were arrests in last week's suicide bombing outside the Danish embassy in Pakistan. That blast killed six.

* why haven't people suicide-bombed the crap out of Denmark?

* understand Denmark, understand Europe.

* a Morocco press association wants a government official investigated for his role in inciting a protest against a newspaper during the initial Danish Cartoons controversy.
 
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Your 2008 Lulu Awards Winners

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The Friends of Lulu held their 2008 Lulu Awards ceremony over the weekend, and have announced their winners.

Kim Yale Award for Best New Female Talent: Martina Fugazzotto
Women of Distinction: Shelly Bond
Women Cartoonists Hall of Fame: Nell Brinkley
Volunteer of the Year: Lee Binswanger
Lulu of the Year: Marjane Satrapi

You know, there are worse awards in comics, but I'm not sure there's any that are more baffling and even slightly depressing to me year-in, year-out than the Lulus. I'm probably the only who works up even that much energy about them, though. I can't name a single past winner.
 
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Gipi Out, Warren In At San Diego Con; What To Do With Tokyopop’s Space?

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This is one of those stories that probably wouldn't be a news item except for the specific focus on Bart Beaty's "Conversational Euro-Comics" column, which is published here: the previously announced guest from European comics publishing at San Diego Con for this year, Gipi, will not be attending Comic-Con International in late July. "Yes, Gipi won't be able to attend this year," CCI's David Glanzer said. One hopes it's not to late to rope another European cartoonist, or perhaps one of the Montreal cartoonists that's sort of like a European cartoonist. In positive news, James Warren has been added to the guest list -- I believe he was scheduled a couple of years ago and then couldn't make it. The complete, up to date guest list is here.

In other news, I asked Glanzer about the absence of Tokyopop from this year's show, the announcement of which came in the midst of their restructuring PR from last week. Tokyopop had a sizable floor presence in 2007, with a typical big company's aisle to aisle to aisle to aisle configuration, 40 feet by 40 feet. Glanzer doesn't make it sound like the convention is worried about the manga publisher's absence. "The truth is each year the show floor changes in configuration, some companies reduce their space, some increase a little and some aren't able to return," he told CR. "While I would never say trying to configure the floor is an easy task, it is one of the things, like programming, that is ever-changing and so we're fairly accustomed to the task."
 
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A Different, Anonymous View of The Graphic Novel Breakfast At BEA 2008

It seemed like there was very little in the way of breadth of coverage of the Book Expo America this year from Team Comics, although in fact I preferred the comics coverage to a lot of the book industry blogging I saw, which seemed like 80 percent "these are the books I got," 15 percent "here are some pictures of people at a party," and 5 percent "did you hear xxx got fired/quit?" Anyhow, because of the dearth of multiple-source observational reporting, I wanted to share this dissenting opinion on the ICv2.com graphic novel breakfast in the interest of getting different views out there, even though the author is slightly mean to people I like and is remaining anonymous. I can vouch for the author as a person that covers the industry. Here you go:
"I read ICv2.com's and Heidi Macdonald's coverage of the first-ever graphic novel breakfast at BEA, and I certainly disagree with ICv2.com that it was a 'resounding success' simply because it sold out. My table included a musical chair in which the first attendee got bored and left, was replaced by another who got bored and left, and then became a nice spot for the graphic novel breakfast swag bags for those of us who stayed. While Jeff Smith is certainly a major name in the field these days, his moderating the panel basically consisted of asking everyone why they became cartoonists.

"Art Spiegelman came prepared with a funny, historically informative video of his own personal history and the medium's in his lifetime (I'm guessing this comes partially from his revised Breakdowns) but overall the event was less focused than your average comics convention panel. Since the audience consisted mainly of booksellers and publishing industry types, I hoped a little more insight into what's going on in the industry would come out. True, it's an author's breakfast, not an executive's, but there is lots to talk about. Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly are currently poised to release a line of kids graphic lit (Spiegelman's own entry in the line was a nice giveaway item), he showed examples of newer non-fiction lit in his video (not his own stuff, but a variety of new voices), and DC was in the main hall with their new line of Young Adult graphic lit and IDW with their crime line. Instead of going into how comics are adapting to the traditional literary genres in every bookstore section, we got to hear how unhappy Jeph Loeb was with the final production of Teen Wolf yet how it still represents his fascination with the 'duality of man' and that the Spider-Man movies were a turning point for the graphic novel and his career. He's a talented guy, but what's that got to do with books? Then Mike Mignola told everyone how much fun movies are but that he stays focused on the comics, all of which received several 'boo Hollywood' rounds of applause. OK, but books? All of this led up to Spiegelman giving the panel (not the audience) a history lesson on comics predating movies, not the other way around, as has been reported.

"Also, it wasn't a breakfast. It was orange juice, coffee, pastry, and bagel. That is, it was BEA's first graphic novel continental breakfast, which I hope they make properly clear next year for those of us on diets. If I go next year, some eggs and fresh orange juice would be nice.

"Another item not reported much, at lunch time the convention hall food servers went on strike. So for next year's breakfast, bring snacks."
So there's that.

I don't know if it's just me, but reading the majority of stuff out there I didn't get the sense of progress in terms of comics' presence at BEA like I expected. There has to be more going on in comics in the book world this many years in than a progression from "Hey, they like us!" to "Hooray, they still like us!" If anyone at the show could tell me what that is, I'd love to run it here.

This would be a lot more convincing if I had actually gotten out of my house and gone to the show, I know.

I'm also confused by the fact that Reed is signing years in advance with multiple cities for BEA but doesn't seem to know when the heck they can schedule NYCC, so if someone .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I'd appreciate it. I'm totally going to BEA in Vegas, though.
 
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45 Days Until Comic-Con International

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Reminder To Self: My Only CCI Panel

International Graphic Novel Voices
Friday, JULY 25
2:00-3:00pm
ROOM 3
 
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Go, Look: Three By Richard Thompson

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one, two, three
 
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Go, Look: Crime Does Not Pay #49

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Go, Look: Jungle Vengeance

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Go, Look: The Jack Kirby Universe

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Go, Look: Hangman’s Horror

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Go, Look: Weird Terror #8

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one, two, three, four
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* that rumor of Kodansha setting up shop in North America with their own publishing company has received a strong denial from Ali Kokmen at Del Rey. It just goes to show you that you should never trust one of the Great Old Ones when it comes to comics publishing rumors. Although I guess it should be noted that 1) the rumor wasn't as I recall that Del Rey would never have licenses again, but that Kodansha would set up a publishing presence, and 2) it could have been easily denied by now, and no one I knew was able to secure a denial that was an actual denial.

* the best letter I've ever received.

image* the writer Blake Bell announces a major retrospective featuring Bill Everett, to be published by Fantagraphics. If it's half as good-looking as that Ditko book, I'm there.

* not comics: I'm no fan of newsroom culture, America's great bastion of indolence, but the pressure put on the Chicago Tribune to increase productivity and lose pages seems particularly insane. If that kind of cost-cutting analysis is applied to comics, who knows what would happen?

* not comics: people keep e-mailing me this article about the strength of campus newspapers, which means someone out there must have had it first. The fact that so many students are reading a newspaper that speaks to them suggests that it's not the fact that young people won't read, but they won't read something they don't feel is important to them. This suggests that one of the problems newspapers are facing is relevancy to fractured communities as opposed to simple formal difficulties. This interests me because the only thing I think has been done in this area has been those awful free-tabloid efforts in some cities. Could it be that newspapers simply need to get better?

* Josh Blair wants you to know how you can save on photocopy costs for this summer's minis.

* finally, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com talks to Mike Kiley of Tokyopop, who proceeds not to tell them much of anything important, such as why their recent split into two businesses was done (beyond platitudes) or where the revenue streams are expected to be for each business. Kudos to ICv2.com for asking and presenting the non-answers as non-answers, though. Two things they did get out of Kiley is greater word on how many titles are effected this year and an admission the market wasn't accepting everything they were publishing.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, George Perez!

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Quick hits
Craft
Frank King's 1952 X-Mas Card
Frank King's 1955 X-Mas Card
Frank King's 1958 X-Mas Card
Eric Reynolds Sketchbook #53

Exhibits/Events
Indie Island T-Shirt
On Political Graphic Novels
Studio Space Signing Report
Release Party For Seattle Anthology
Spiegelman, Panter in Conversation
Preview of Heroes Con MAD-Related Panels

History
Sunglasses
Ian Brill on Early Alan Moore

Industry
Comics Are Back
I Hate Your Cartoon
I Hate Your Cartoons
Editorial Cartooning Still Potent

Interviews/Profiles
Mike Peters Videos
Newsarama: Joe Casey
Wizard: James Robinson
News-Miner: Jamie Smith
Post-Tribune: Alan Morton
Newsarama: Robert Kirkman
Illawarra Mercury: James Kemsley

Not Comics
These Guys Can Go Away Now

Publishing
Mithun Chakraborty Comics
Alex Raymond Book Profiled
Inuyasha to End Serialization
Magneto Holocaust Series Profiled

Reviews
El Bicho: Mr. T
Tom Tucker: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
Mark Allen: The Twelve #1
Greg O'Driscoll: Proof Vol. 1
Richard Krauss: Crowman #1
Richard Krauss: The Red Menace
Don MacPherson: Death Grub #1
Sean Kleefeld: Coin Operated Boy
Katherine Farmar: The Rabbi's Cat
Richard Bruton: Kill Your Boyfriend
Deb Aoki: Rosario + Vampire Vol. 1
Laurel Maury: Skyscrapers of the Midwest
Wes Behrens: Skyscrapers of the Midwest
J. Caleb Mozzocco: JLA: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
 

 
June 8, 2008


CR Sunday Interview: Thomas Scioli

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*****

The talented artist Thomas Scioli is a former Xeric Grant winner (for The Myth of 8-Opus) best known for his Jack Kirby-inspired art and the collaboration that such an approach to the comic book page has afforded him with the writer Joe Casey on the cosmic odyssey Gødland. Casey and Scioli recently announced that Gødland would end with issue #36, a surprise in that the Pittsburgh-based cartoonist had expressed an interest in continuing with the series for the remainder of his comics career. He is currently reviving Myth of 8-Opus; a new issue will be out on stands this summer. I know nothing about Scioli other than that his fellow cartoonists speak highly of him and that he's one of the few comics creators with his level of production that also works a full-time job.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: You're ending Gødland; can you talk a little bit about why? Was there always a planned ending or is this something that arises out of sales?

THOMAS SCIOLI: Sales. Of course it's sales. If the series were selling better we'd never end it. Sales are going down at a time when we really need them to be going up. It's a wide enough premise that I couldn't see ever running out of ideas for it, or interest in it. I could imagine fitting pretty much any kind of story I'd want to tell into it. The way things are going, its not going to go on forever. So do we keep going along as if it is going to go on forever, or set things in motion so we can end it on our terms, make it into something complete and meaningful? It was going to have to end some time. By setting a specific end point like this, we've given ourselves 12 issues to really build toward something big, rather than leave readers hanging.

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SPURGEON: Why announce the ending more than a year ahead of time? Isn't there a danger with serialized comics that if you announce an end, people won't start buying it?

SCIOLI: I was hoping for the opposite to happen, that it would bring us to more people's attention, that over the next year things were really going to come into focus. Let people know they have a chance to be part of something special. It's exciting to be part of something at its beginning or at its ending.

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SPURGEON: What were your sales like with the comic books vs. the collections? Have there been frustrations about doing a comic like this one in this market?

SCIOLI: The collections did a lot better than the single issues. The first collection was far and away the most successful book. Most of my earnings from this series are from that single volume. Before this series came out, I had a lot of assumptions about what would sell, and I was pretty much wrong. I thought that there was more of a hunger for this type of material. I know this is the kind of comic I'd like to see more of. Maybe my expectations were too high, though. I mean it is the most successful thing I've ever been involved in. We sold a lot of comics, relatively speaking, but the number you need to consistently sell to really make a go of it is awfully high.

The main frustration is that I wish there was more room for us. It's crowded out there. I kept hearing from people who couldn't get a certain issue because their store sold out of it, or they ordered it but it never showed up at their store. Hearing that kind of thing makes me crazy.

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SPURGEON: In general, were you happy with the deluxe edition you guys did? Was there anything you'd change about it now? How did that do?

SCIOLI: That Celestial Edition was incredible. I think it looks great. I'm really proud that my work could get that nice a presentation. I 'm extremely proud of it. It's definitely the best "relic" of my time in comics. How did it do? Not as well as I would've hoped. But it's got a long shelf life, so I see it improving in the coming months and years. I keep hearing from a lot of people who've only recently discovered the series because of the Celestial Edition. The reaction has been enthusiastic. This is going to be our long-term legacy.

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SPURGEON: I know that you're returning to your series, Myth of 8-Opus. What's the timing on that move, and why did you make that decision?

SCIOLI: I've been wanting to get it going again for a while. I never wanted to stop. I had hoped that I'd be able to keep it going while I worked on Gødland, but it just didn't work out that way. I really got to missing it. It's just been way too long. When 8-Opus ended, it was in the middle of a sprawling multi-part story. I want to tell new 8-Opus stories and before I can do that, I need to finish what I started. I really missed working on something that was purely my own. I finally made the decision to really do it back in December. My hopes had been that once Gødland got on good footing, I could put out 8-Opus in color through Image. Then I found out just how bad things had gotten sales-wise with Gødland. I realized that if I'm going to continue in comics, it's probably not with color comics and probably not with a monthly.

imageSPURGEON: Why start Myth again before the conclusion of Gødland?

SCIOLI: I made the decision to re-launch 8-Opus before we made the decision to announce the end of Gødland. I wanted to start it as soon as possible. I want to put out new 8-Opus GNs but I didn't want to do it before I got the older stuff back in print.

SPURGEON: How are you a different artist than when you last worked on Myth?

SCIOLI: I think my figure work is stronger. I have a wider visual vocabulary because back when I did Myth, there were certain techniques that I purposely avoided because they were un-Kirby. I've got a better sense of pacing. I'm not afraid to let a composition breathe, whereas before I felt like I had to stuff each panel. I have better control of line. I do a lot less brush work, which could be a plus, could be a minus. I think there's a greater variety in my line work now. I'm a lot faster. I also have realized that I can draw something without having it look like Kirby and still have it look good and work good. I've also learned the importance of good anatomy and pretty women. Neither of those things were big priorities for me when I started.

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SPURGEON: Your "Space Smith" story was your first solo effort in a while. What do you think of that effort? What did you see once you were done with it that you hadn't seen in your comics before then? Was it a factor in deciding to want to go back to your own title full time?

SCIOLI: By that point, I was really hungry to do something entirely on my own. When Erik Larsen offered it to me he said I can do as much or as little as I wanted. I told him I wanted to write draw and color it. I was really happy with how it turned out. It was the first time in a while that I created something practically out of whole cloth. I was less afraid to be overtly funny. I like the way the colors printed. I wanted it to give the reader the feeling that anything could happen, which is the appeal of Golden Age comics, that the rules hadn't hardened yet. I think the choreography with the spaceships was good. I also wanted to do the Hitchcock/DePalma thing where you set up a huge cast then kill them off in the first act. I wanted to fit an epic in six pages, really take the reader through a wild ride.

When I did my story, I thought, "Man this is going to be the best story in here. I'm gonna blow everybody else away." Little did I know, everybody else was planning the same thing. I also took the opportunity to be more overtly humorous. I was always afraid of giving the reader an easy out, to not take things seriously. I've learned through Gødland that you can juggle absurd ideas, let the audience in on the joke, and still have them take the serious parts seriously.

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SPURGEON: Do you have any reaction to some of the reaction that hit Next Issue Project. It seemed to me that there were more negative reviews that one might think given the level of talent involved. Was there anyone else's work you liked?

SCIOLI: I got the impression the reviews were much more positive than negative. It seemed like the negative reviews were of the type that anthologies always get, I liked this one and this one, but I thought this one sucked. Everybody seemed to have a different favorite and a different least-favorite which were often the same story. I think some people didn't know what to make of it. It was a really appealing idea to me. A lot of people were really jazzed to be a part of it. I think for some readers it was too Golden Age, but for others not Golden Age enough. To me it was pitch-perfect. I was really blown away when I saw it on the shelf. just flipping through it, it looked like nothing else on the shelf today. I thought it was an awesome comic.

It was all good, but my favorites were Larsen's "Samson" story, Joe Casey and Bill Senkiewicz's "Time Travel" story, and Rugg and Maruca's "Captain Kidd." I liked the way they all aged their stuff to look like an actual Golden Age comic with the fake newsprint look. I've never seen it done quite that well before. Erik and Jim [Rugg] are both really fastidious about that classic coloring. They each picked up nuances in the old printing process that I wasn't aware of. Like how there'd be a double image of parts of the black plate. I thought, "that doesn't really happen" but then I'd be reading an old comic and start noticing it. "They were right!" I'm glad not everybody did that though, because I like the book's anarchic look. It was also a real treat seeing black inky art from Senkiewicz on simulated newsprint. He really knows how to slosh it around.

imageSPURGEON: I noticed that you're credited as a co-creator with Joe Casey, just as Jack Kirby was with Stan Lee in the early Marvel years. Talk to me about how you and Joe work on Gødland. How much input do you have into the plot, storylines, characterization and scripting?

SCIOLI: It's been an organic collaboration. As far as plot ideas go, I had way more input in the first few issues than I do now. In the beginning I threw a bunch of plot ideas at Joe. We threw a lot of ideas back and forth. There are a lot of my plot ideas in those first few issues. As the series went on it was less and less. Occasionally there'd be an idea that I had that would pop up in one of Joe's plots. Now we're at a point where I'm as surprised as anybody when Joe e-mails me a new issue's plot. Issue #13 was an exception. I plotted most of that particular issue.

When Joe and I first got together to work on this series, I kind of had a prejudice against mainstream comics writers. I thought I had to guard against the comic being too mundane, too safe. That's why I came in swinging, throwing in every idea I could think of. It didn't take long for me to realize the book was in good hands, so I stepped back and let Joe do his job. We were on the same wavelength. We both wanted to create something really outrageous. I had nothing to fear. It was tough for me at first, though. I'm used to doing everything myself.

Of course, when you're working Marvel method, there are a lot of things that would be considered writing or storytelling that the artist is contributing. I do a lot of the pacing and staging. I'm responsible for most of the fight choreography. Sometimes Joe will ask me to come up with some aliens or something. I'll come up with unique powers, character designs, body language, all of those things that would fall in the realm of storytelling. For the most part, Joe comes up with the broad sweeps of the story and pacing, I'll break it down into the smaller pacing moments within that. We're each reacting to the other. Since the dialogue is done last, a lot of what the writer does at that stage is reacting to the expressions and body language in the artwork.

When I finished the first issue, I had a very different idea in my head of what the characters would sound like, what the tone would be. In my head it was a little more earnest. When Joe sent me the dialogue, I was blown away. It was really laugh-out-loud funny. Particularly Basil Cronus, he really came alive, Joe really gave him a unique voice. Basil was kind of like our Silver Surfer. I came up with the character in a sketchbook, sent it to Joe along with a bunch of other sketches of potential characters. He really fell in love with it, and then gave him his distinctive voice. Unlike Stan and Jack, our collaborations are pretty well-documented. We ran some of our initial brainstorming e-mails in the Celestial Edition. Maybe in a future edition we'll run some more of that kind of stuff, plot synopses, etc. If anybody's interested. There are things in the series that are more purely Joe, and there are things in the book that are more purely me, but most of it is somewhere in between.

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SPURGEON: One thing that a lot of people don't know about you is that you work full-time. How are you able to manage your time so that you remain a productive comics artists while still going to work?

SCIOLI: I have a very simple life. I'm married but we don't have any kids. Drawing comics is my hobby. I take my pages with me everywhere and work on them whenever I can find a spare moment, like on the bus, or during my lunch break. I never just sit on the couch and watch TV. If we're watching a DVD or something I'll usually have my pages. All those little moments add up.

It's not easy though, and it gets harder every year. I wish I didn't have to work a day job. I wish I could support myself just drawing comics, but I haven't figured out how to make that work.

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SPURGEON: Are you friendly with other cartoonists in the Pittsburgh areas? Which ones? Is there a cartooning community there in town? Is there anything like a sensibility or a certain kind of humor that you might share with other Pittsburgh artists?

SCIOLI: Yeah, Pittsburgh has a great bunch of comics artists, a very diverse group. I'm friends with Pat Lewis, Chris Moeller, Ron Frenz, George Broderick, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, Rich Yanizeski, Joe Jusko, Frank Santoro, Pat Olliffe, Dave White, and Mark Zingarelli. That's a wide range of approaches and sensibilities. There are some really great comics being made in this town. As far as there being a Pittsburgh sensibility? Solid draftsmanship. A strong cartooning bent. There are a lot of us that just love good old-fashioned adventure comics. Making comics that are serious without being sullen. I think a lot of us feel more of an affinity with comics' past than any current movement, but maybe I'm just speaking for myself.

SPURGEON: I know that talking to Joe about Gødland, he's always been adamant that it was the cosmic odyssey in general that was being discussed rather than simply Jack Kirby's version of it -- and yet, you're best know perhaps for the Kirby feel to your art. Are there elements to your work that you can talk about that you feel aren't necessarily sympathetic with Kirby as much as another artist that drew cosmic odysseys of the Gødland variety?

SCIOLI: We're both big fans of Nexus, so that's an influence. There's some [Jim] Starlin in there, too. Joe's the one who brought a Starlin influence to the book, not me. I started checking out Starlin's work only after we started the series. There are a bunch of comics I checked out because people were saying, "Oh, Gødland's like this or that comic."

To me, the main influence was Kirby. Mine was mainly a Kirby-style cosmic odyssey. I've got a little manga in there, maybe some other influences there, but definitely way below the surface. People started mentioning Starlin, so I checked his work out, and I can totally see the similarity. Grant Morrison was another name that kept coming up. People were like, "Basil Cronus,that's the sort of whacky visual Grant Morrison would come up with," but to me it was, "No, that's the kind of whacky visual Kirby would come up with." "It's Kirby mixed with Morrison!" To me it was Kirby mixed with Kirby. Look at Arnim Zola. Kirby designed some crazy stuff. But checking out Starlin and Morrison definitely made me into a fan of those guys. Adam Archer does seem like a Starlin kind of character. His whiny/badass ratio does seem to lean in the whiny direction, like Warlock. Nextwave was another comic people were telling me I should check out because it's got a similar tone to Gødland. I liked that one a lot, too, particularly the Fin Fang Foom issue.

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SPURGEON: Can you talk a bit about your approach to character design? I think it's one of the more affecting things about Gødland. Do you sketch designs, plot them out in advance, work from a central idea or simply free associate...? I'm particularly fond of Maxim.

SCIOLI: A sci-fi series lives or dies by its monster and vehicle design. That's why Kirby was tops. The worlds, vehicles and props need to look cool. The aliens and monsters need to look cool. A lot of Kirby's contemporaries had amazing draftsmanship, but their aliens were those same generic Flash Gordon creatures. I like to mix organic shapes with technological shapes. I like hexagons, groupings of three, asymmetry. All things I learned from Kirby. They've become second nature to me, so I just let the pencil go where it's going to go.

At the beginning, before we had any stories, I sent Joe a shitload of designs that I had sitting around, and a lot of new ones too. He picked through the toybox, and saw which ones he liked. Sometimes Joe will put in a special order, "I want something like this."

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SPURGEON: I was just looking at the latest issue, and I notice that you use a variety of physical structures on the page. Can you talk about some of the choices you've made in page design. What is it you're hoping for with across-page or across-spread tiers? With the single-panel pages, do you hope to stop the eye and allow it to drink in that single image for a slightly longer time?

SCIOLI: I want to impart a sense of awe to the reader, make a moment larger, make tall thin panels, or super wide panels. Anything to vary the compositions. I started using those double-page-spanning wide wide panels in issue #1, at Joe's suggestion. I used them with greater frequency starting in issue #12 (again, Joe's idea). It's a good compromise between the double-splash page. It gives you the big moment, the feeling of awe, but doesn't cheat you out of story moments. We still want each issue to be as satisfying and full an experience as possible. It needs a certain duration.

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SPURGEON: You once wrote that you enjoy talking Kirby with people. What do people talk to you about concerning Kirby when you talk Kirby? How do you feel about the sustained interest in Jack Kirby. Is there something under-appreciated about him that you wish received more attention?

SCIOLI: Mostly it's talking to other addicts about your favorite high. Talking about your favorite stories, favorite series, which body of work is better, weird things you've noticed. What you've gotten out of his work. As far as something that deserves more attention, I wish there was more of an understanding in the mainstream of who he is and what he did. Every time there's a movie based on something he created or co-created he should get the kind of attention George Lucas gets or J.K. Rowling. I wish he were as much of a household name as Stan Lee.

If you made a list of all the things he created or co-created, it's staggering. I also think his work is sometimes unfairly regarded as merely quaint or nostalgic. But to me his best work really has teeth. His work can be really frightening.

I wish his 1970s Marvel work got more respect. It was a shorter period than his '60s Marvel work, five years vs. ten years. But to me it's the more interesting, more accomplished body of work. People over a certain age tend to dismiss it. To me it's some of his best work. I didn't grow up with the stuff so my reaction is divorced from its context, it's a reaction to the work itself. Maybe it's different for people who were there when these comics came out. Maybe in the '70s these comics were out of step. In 2008 they're visionary.

His Fourth World work seems like it's finally getting something near the respect it deserves. I'm surprised by the reaction to the Omnibus, so many people writing about these stories saying how they've never read them before. That amazes me. I thought they were required reading for superhero fans. How can you be a superhero comics fan and only be reading them now for the first time? I also hate that every time somebody mentions The Fourth World, they have to say how it was a flop. Nobody says that about Citizen Kane. I can't help it if not enough people bought the comic in 1971. What do they know? What's that have to do with the greatness of the work?

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SPURGEON: Do you know how Gødland is going to end?

SCIOLI: No. I have a couple of vague ideas, things we've talked about at the very beginning, but I don't know if they're going to end up in the ending or not. Joe and I haven't talked about it lately, but I figure we will at some point soon.

*****

* interior art from Gødland
* cover from Gødland series
* interior art from Gødland
* cover art from the Celestial Edition version of Gødland
* Myth of 8-Opus art
* cover to next Myth of 8-Opus book
* two piece of art from the "Space Smith" story
* various pieces of art from Gødland
* Scioli draws Kirby's Eternals
* one more piece of art from Gødland
* character design from Gødland

*****

* Gødland, continuing series through issue #36, Image Comics.
* Myth of 8-Opus: Prologue, July 2008.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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plenty of comics-related programming if you dig around
 
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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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FFF Results Post #123—School’s Out

On Friday afternoon, participating CR readers were asked to "Name Five Educational Institutions From The Comics You Wouldn't Mind Attending." Here are the results.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Xavier Institute For Higher Learning (Original Class)
2. Westview High
3. Empire State University (If only for the liberal attendance policy)
4. Cromartie High School
5. Milford High

*****

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Ben Schwartz

1) Emperor's New Clothes Magazine -- where Dan Pussey apprenticed to Gummo Bubbleman.
2) Columbia University, Frank Miller's version when Matt Murdoch and Foggy Nelson met: the only Ivy League University I've ever seen with its own law school bully.
3) The grad school Reed Richards and "Doctor" Doom attended, which clearly allows doctorates no matter how crazy you are or if you even graduate.
4) Legion Academy -- assuming critical insights into comics counts as a superpower.
5) Granny Goodness' training camps for 4th World dog soldiers -- it's harsh, but I really need to get into shape, boot camp style.

*****

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Uriel A. Duran

1) Academy of Law
2) Any monastery at Nanda Parbat (any DC character who wants to learn martial arts goes there)
3) Manga Khan School of Melodrama
4) Carizzio Modeling University
5) The Umbrella Academy

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Peppermint Patty's elementary school (because it's integrated.)
2. Charlie Brown's elementary school (I'm pretty sure they went to different schools. P. P. seemed to be from another neighborhood.)
3. The school where Hopey works now.
4. Calvin's elementary school.
5. Xavier's School for the Gifted.

I'm not sure I would enjoy the education at any of these places, but I wouldn't mind being pals with the other students.

*****

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Tom Cherry

1. Ace Obedience School
2. Legion Academy
3. P.S. 238
4. Riverdale High
5. Springfield Elementary

*****

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Vito Delsante

1. Cypress Creek Elementary School (from the Simpsons)
2. Gotham State University
3. Any high school in Hoppers where I could meet Penny (Century)
4. Empire State University (the Reed/Ben/Doom years)
5. Midtown High School

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. James Street Elementary, where Charlie Brown's teacher sounds like a muted trumpet
2. Glenville High, whose students were nice enough to let Johnny Storm think he had a secret identity
3. Westview High, but only to play in Harry L. Dinkle's marching band
4. Transylvania Polygnostic University (School motto: Know enough to be afraid)
5. Demon School Hades, for my Ph(antasy)D(egree) work

*****

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Dave Knott

* Taskmaster's Crime Academy
* Walden College
* The TechnoPriest training school
* Empire State University... in the same graduating class as Reed Richards, Victor von Doom, and Benjamin J. Grimm
* Riverdale High

*****

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Tony Collett

1. Xavier Institute For Gifted Youngsters
2. Ninja High School
3. Riverdale High School
4. State University (where Reed Richards, Ben Grimm and Victor Von Doom attended)
5. Furinkan High

*****

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Scott Cederlund

1) Any school in Gotham City.
2) Blue Valley College (w/Kid Flash)
3) Massachusetts Academy from Generation X (complete with its own grotto)
4) school with the cast of Neon Genesis Evangelion
5) the Farm from Greg Rucka's Queen & Country

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Cromartie High School
2. Riverdale Elementary (Little Archie has a lot more fun than teen Archie)
3. The Tendo School of Indiscriminate Grappling
4. Space Academy (Tom Corbett, Space Cadet)
5. Whatever school Huey, Dewey, and Louie attended

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Benedict Arnold High School (Once more, from The Adventures of Bob Hope)
2. UCLA (specifically the classes taught by Victoria Nutley)
3. Knox State University (Pfiefer & Thompson's Finals)
4. Charm School
5. Enormous State University (Tank McNamara) -- I just think that's a great pun.

I also wanted to name the Amarcadian Space Academy from Starstruck, but I couldn't recall if it was a Brigade or a military school and I didn't have my comics handy. C'est la vie.

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. James Street, or Pinecrest Elementary, just as soon as there's consensus on which school Charlie Brown actually attended
2. Penguin Village Middle School, to pick Arale for my team in every sport
3. Pembroke Academy, in order for teenage me to woo Cheryl Blossom once she moves there, and to get the necessary prep classes to get into...
4. State University, to catch the Richards-von Doom rivalry in full swing
5. finally The Legion Academy, because I'm certain to have some power that'd earn me a flight ring.

*****

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James Langdell

1. P.S. 238
2. Hudson University (Dick Grayson's school)
3. Furinkan High (Ramna 1/2)
4. The elementary school with Miss Othmar's classroom
5. The Ancient One's 7-year apprenticeship program

*****

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Chris Randle

1. The Invisible College (might be too shy for the class on tantric sex magic, though)
2. Walden College
3. Bash Street School
4. Xavier Institute for Higher Learning (as drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz)
5. Cromartie High School

*****

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David P. Welsh

* Walden University from Doonesbury
* The Legion of Super-Heroes Academy
* The high school in Flower of Life
* The college in Genshiken
* The elementary school in Drifting Classroom

*****
*****
 
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Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: Black Magic In A Slinky Dress

* go, read: new Alex Robinson previewed

* go, look: The Gastrometrist

* go, read: Dean Haspiel interview

* go, look: Emroca
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Scott Adams!

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Happy 75th Birthday, Jan Kruis!

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First Thought Of The Day

Do they still have magic shops?
 
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June 7, 2008


If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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plenty of comics-related programming if you dig around
 
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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Mass., I’d Go To This

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from May 31 to June 6, 2008:

1. Al Qaida claims responsibility for a suicide bombing at the Danish embassy in Islamabad. Six are killed.

2. Tokyopop splits into two entities, one devoted to publishing. That unit will cut Tokyopop output by half. Thirty-nine people lose their jobs.

3. BEA concludes in Los Angeles, attendance down, comics looking pretty good given the general state of things.

Winner Of The Week
Chris Ware

Loser Of The Week
This Guy

Quote Of The Week
"Thanks for your understanding as we morph into the next evolution of TOKYOPOP!" -- Mike Kiley

this week's imagery comes from pioneering comic book house Hillman Publications
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Mark Schultz!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Rick Hoberg!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Larry Hama!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Frank Bolle!

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June 6, 2008


Chris Ware Wins 2008 VPRO Grand Prix

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Five For Friday #123—School’s Out

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Five For Friday #123 -- Name Five Educational Institutions From The Comics You Wouldn't Mind Attending

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1. Xavier Institute For Higher Learning (Original Class)
2. Westview High
3. Empire State University (If only for the liberal attendance policy)
4. Cromartie High School
5. Milford High

This Subject Is Now Closed. Thanks To All That Participated.

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Five For Friday is a reader response feature. To play, send a response while it's still Friday. Play fair. Responses up Sunday morning.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

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* Henrik Rehr writes in to say "The text on the Norwegian cartoon says: I am Mohammed and nobody dares to print me." I thought it said something like that. Why this is brought up is because the editors in their explanation said that the above published Monday was not a depiction of Muhammed, and I was making the snarky point when someone has "I am Mohammed" written on their shirt, it's probably a depiction of Muhammed.

* other embassies continue increased security in the wake of this week's bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan. There was also an arrest and a seizure.

* here's the official statement from Al Qaeda claiming responsibility for that car bombing, which killed six.
 
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List Of Awards Earned By Lisa’s Story

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Editor & Publisher has a round-up of awards recognition for the serialization and subsequent book collection of the cancer storyline in Funky Winkerbean.
 
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Bob Dienenthal, RIP

The writer Peter Gillis has written a fine remembrance of Bob Dienenthal, who lettered the Shatter for comic at First in the 1980s.
 
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Your 2008 Prix Asie-ACBD Winners

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The ACBD (Association des critiques et journalistes specialises en Bandes Dessinees) has issued its awards list for the Prix Asie-ACBD. Books originally from Asia released in France from July 2007 to June 2008 are eligible. The awards will be given out at a public ceremony July 5 in conjunction with Japan Expo.

* Les Fils de la Terre, Jinpachi Mori and Hideaki Hataji (Delcourt/Akata)
* Le Fleuve Shinano, Kazuo Kamimura and Hideo Okazaki (Asuka)
* La Foret de Miyori, Hideji Oda (Milan/Kanko)
* Shiori & Shimiko, Daijiro Morohoshi (Bamboo/Doki-Doki)
* Le Visiteur du Sud: le journal de Monsieur Oh en Coree du Nord, Oh Yeong Jin (Flblbl)

A list of further recommend comics was also released:

* Eagle, Kaiji Kawaguchi (Casterman -- Sakka)
* Femmes de reconfort, esclaves sexuelles de l'armee japonaise, Jung Kyung-A (Diable Vauvert/Six pieds sous terre)
* La Fille fantome, Kazuichi Hanawa (Casterman/Sakka)
* Golgo13, Takao Saito (Glenat)
* Histoires de Kisaeng, Kim Dong Hwa (Paquet)
* Kitaro le Repoussant, Shigeru Mizuki (Cornelius)
* Neige rouge, Susumu Katsumata (Cornelius)
* Ushijima: l'usurier de l'ombre, Shohei Manabe (Kana)
 
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Collective Memory: BEA 2008

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Go, Look: Secret John McCain and George Bush Tijuana Bible Discovered

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Go, Look: Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan

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one, two, three, four
 
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Go, Read: James Vance on Kate Worley

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Go, Look: Eldon Dedini In Playboy

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Go, Look: Obscure Arnold Roth

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Go, Look: A Drawn Perspective

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the critic Katherine Farmar presents her list of top ten comics characters. My list is Wimpy, the gorilla from Cromartie High School, the Entropy Twins and the Marvel versions of the cast from the Doc Savage movie.

image* the prominent retailer Buddy Saunders sure loves him some Scorchy Smith, and the new collection specifically. Admittedly, this is a fine choice for something to crush on.

* a breakdown of revenues and losses at Scripps provides a summary of fortunes in the newspaper business right now. If you're a newspaper person and haven't looked at a print publication's classifieds section in a while, it's pretty shocking. When I was a kid, my father worked at a newspaper and we got free classifieds and this was considered a hugely beneficial thing -- our garage sales ruled the neighborhood. It's weird to think of that element of a paper going the way of the TV listings and other things that have fled on-line.

* worst crime story ever!

* finally, people are still trying to track down the strange rumor of an ignored, verbally made but not written down anywhere Kodansha announcement that they're getting into publishing in America. This is like that weird alt-weekly article from the mid-1990s that claimed Warners had secretly filmed a Green Lantern movie starring Mel Gibson and Edward James Olmos, right?
 
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Happy 30th Birthday, Charles Brownstein!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Neal Adams!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, TK Ryan!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
MoCCA Previewed
PictureBox at MoCCA
Strip Folk at Heroes Con
Go See Grant and Rankin
Copenhagen Picture Array
Evan Dorkin on AIGA Event
European Cartoon Contest 2008
Chester Commodore Exhibit Reviewed

History
More Dick Stone

Industry
In Defense of Mutts
Chris Allen on Recent Industry Deaths

Interviews/Profiles
Wizard: Jason
CBR: Greg Rucka
Variety: Kurt Busiek
ComixTalk: John Allison
Thursday Audio Round-Up
Tavis Smiley: Mat Johnson
PWCW: Yoshinori Natsume
Newsarama: Howard Shum
ComixTalk: Dorothy Gambrell
The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research: Brian Chippendale

Not Comics
People Sure Like That Rowling Speech
Fired Because of Dilbert Guy Gets New Job

Publishing
On The Mega-Events
Trinity #1: Annotations
Online Comics Reader Re-Designed
Guest Cartoonist For Rhymes With Orange

Reviews
Matt Brady: Trinity #1
Tucker Stone: Various
Michael Saler: Various
Ray Ellis: Midnight Sun
Kevin Sutton: Contraband
Chris Mautner: Various 01
Chris Mautner: Various 02
Nina Stone: Fatal Faux-Pas
Sean T. Collins: The Aviary
Sean Howe: Hembeck Omnibus
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Richard Bruton: Anna Mercury #1
Linda L. Richards: Tonoharu Vol. 1
Jog: Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1
Richard Bruton: The Last Musketeer
Greg McElhatton: Action Comics #865
Tanner Braaten: Skyscrapers of the Midwest
 

 
June 5, 2008


If I Were In Philly, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Portland, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Portland, I’d Go To This

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Ali Dilem Faces Prison For ‘04 Cartoon

The heroic Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem may receive a two-month prison sentence on June 15 for his role in creating and publishing a cartoon depicting retired general Mohamed Lamari. The cartoon in question was created in 2004. In 2002 Dilem received a suspended sentence for another cartoon about Lamari, this one published in 2001.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

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* Al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan and confirms it was cartoon-related. The blast killed six people.

* Norway finds out it's next.

* that may have something to do with the above cartoon that was published in a newspaper in Trondheim on Tuesday. Editors say it wasn't Muhammed but a depiction of the current political climate. People may have been confused by what I think is a t-shirt saying basically "I am Muhammed."

* Kurt Westerberg approves.

* I told you that certain people would object to that Illeborg editorial.
 
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More On Tokyopop Re-Structuring

* a solid, general links round-up can be found here.

image* Heidi MacDonald names some names that may be among the departed. If true, the presence of people on the list heading just-announced programs seems to indicate something other than strategic pruning planned out well in advance and more like a heave and shudder kind of move.

* I enjoyed the analysis here.

* the interesting rumor that spins out of this comments section and continues over into Chris Butcher's is some sort of Kodansha announcement of their own imprint and their desire to end a lot of licensing arrangements? This would be major news if someone not named after a dark lord of the madness at the center of the universe could confirm.
 
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6000 Comics Stolen In Washington; Police, Owner Honest About Their Value

I don't know, but the honest appraisal that the 6000 comic books stolen in northwestern Washington were probably only worth about $3000 made me laugh. Can you imagine less value per pound for stealing something than the average comic book collection?
 
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Everyone Still Going To MoCCA Festival

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Yesterday I asked if anyone had changed their travel plans for this weekend's MoCCA comics festival at New York City's Puck Building, and if people from way outside of the city were still going. I'm generally interested in how higher gas prices and the strain they've put on the economy in general have had an impact on convention plans.

The answers to my query were a resounding no and yes, respectively. No, their plans haven't changed; yes, they're going to the show even though they're well outside the New York region. In fact, people are planning to exhibit from all over the country, and there are outright clusters heading there from Toronto, Minneapolis and Tampa. I heard from exactly two people who had decided not to go based on increased costs, both of whom were attending rather than exhibiting.

Some observations on answers from my non-scientific sample:

* many expressed relief that they had purchased air tickets early enough that prices had yet to go up.

* many stressed that in New York they stay with friends rather than stay in a hotel, which makes the shows there cheaper than those in other towns.

* a few respondents said what made the trip possible was having an option other than car travel: a cheaper-than-usual shuttle bus, a reliable train.

* one or two just shy of half said something along the lines that the MoCCA festival was an important enough show to merit extra consideration, and that there are other shows that would be dropped before that one.

* more than half expressed concerns that future MoCCAs may be at risk if gas prices and air travel prices continue to go up.

* one person said that flights to New York had remained cheaper than flights to other cities.

* one person mentioned that the charge for checking bags will force him to pack more lightly in terms of material brought to show at the Festival than he might have a few years back.

* one respondent noted that increases in the prices he was paying for his San Diego trip in July had led him to cut some corners on his trip to New York this weekend.

In related news, Chris Mautner provides a short guide to attending this weekend's show.
 
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Go, Look: Ray Murphy

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Go, Look: Sfar’s Petit Prince Profiled

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Go, Look: Weird But True…

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Go, Look: Bride Of The Swamp

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* not comics, but a story we've been tracking: newspapers making up 41.4 percent of total Sunday circulation have joined the Yahoo Alliance, basically because of their ad platform.

image* in great news for comic strip fans, Fantagraphics has snatched up reprint rights to two more major projects: another iteration of the Hal Foster Prince Valiant strips, with better production values than the already-pretty-good version that at one time made up as much as 10 percent of Fantagraphics' yearly sales (I'm going by memory here; let's just say it did very well for the company at the time). Also: Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy, Roy Crane's vibrant adventure strip and love letter to America's brief, youthful period as the new kid in an aging, international world. That strip is a favorite of mine, and I once obsessed over it to the point I had a dream I was producing an Adventures of Hercules-style syndicated television show version of it starring Fred Ward as Easy and Michael J. Fox as Tubbs. (Someone should still do one of those, with similar but not-ancient actors.) Just an entertaining, wonderfully drawn strip.

* the longtime editor Andy Schmidt has joined IDW, one of the only houses where you could actually say they've been a bit editor-light. Schmidt will oversee the company's GI Joe efforts.

* speaking of comic strips and IDW, that company begins its reprints of Little Orphan Annie this month. I'm not sure how long it took for Harold Gray's strip to get good, but when Little Orphan Annie was good, it was really, really good. There's nothing in comics quite like it: a first-rate decency fantasy and soap opera drawn by a master of stark cartoon visuals. Don't let memories of Andrea McArdle drive you away from one of comics' great treats.

* finally, I meant to write about this yesterday but was distracted by something shiny on my television and forgot: the comics news portal Newsarama has undergone an extensive re-design, which one assumes is the outcome of the business partnership they announced earlier this year. I would imagine that the primary upgrades are those that facilitate more video and more comics previews, but that more people will focus on the front page because that's the point of entry. I was a fan of the old Newsarama look because it allowed for a snapshot of the latest headlines without moving the browser up or down; I'm that lazy. I imagine that general fan conservatism will bring out other people that claim they liked the old site and the new one is poopy. This new look makes much more sense, though, and allows them to keep a potentially popular feature up top and in front of both hardcore and casual fans' eyes.
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, David Gallaher!

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Quick hits
Craft
Leigh Rubin On TV
Craig Thompson Draws With A Pen
Where Tom Waits' Eyeball Kid Came From

Exhibits/Events
Harvey Comics Exhibit
E&P Previews Heroes Con
Marek Bennett Hits The Road
Go See The Mystical Unionists
Book Expo Canada Previewed

History
Canada's Iron Man
On Comic Book Weddings
Captain America Still Dead

Industry
Pickles Wins Shoot-Out
Take Comic Books Seriously

Interviews/Profiles
Wizard: Dan Didio
FPI Blog: Hannah Berry
Who Watches Alan Moore?
Newsarama: Christos Gage
Independent: Jim McCarthy
ComicMix: Darick Robertson

Not Comics
Beryl Cook, RIP
Gerry Conway on WOW
Aaron McGruder Still Hates BET

Publishing
Comics Round-Up
Gary Groth Reference in 1985
More Non-Fiction From Hill & Wang

Reviews
Kevin Church: Various
Jog: Interiorae Vols. 1-2
Oliver East: Supernormal
Nina Stone: Batman #677
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Beth Harrington: Freddie and Me
Jillian Steinhauer: Trial and Error
Abhay Khosla: Secret Invasion #3
Derik A Badman: Cold Heat Specials
Katherine Farmar: We Can Still Be Friends
Johanna Draper Carlson: A Century of Woman Cartoonists
 

 
June 4, 2008


Calling All CR Readers: Query

Is anyone out there going to MoCCA -- or know of anyone that's going to MoCCA -- from more than 100 miles out of town? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I won't bother you, and won't out you, I'm just interested in how the economy is having an effect on comics shows.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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More On Tokyopop Re-Structuring

I'm not sure there's a whole lot to say about the re-structuring at Tokyopop, at least not yet. It was announced yesterday morning that the publisher will split into two entities. One will focus on film work and digital distribution of manga. The other will be the publishing unit and will carry forward the publisher's work in that area, although at a greatly reduced output. Several people at the company were let go (39 out of 100), which is always a shame. This will likely and logically have a ripple effect in their freelance creator and support services pool as well. Still, I don't know anyone that thinks Tokyopop wouldn't have to make some changes at some point given 1) the work's overall quality and ability to find an audience, 2) Tokyopop's occasional rough time when it came to packaging and promoting such work professionally and effectively, 3) the tide turning against shelving all such works no matter what, and 4) the legitimate importance of digital distribution of such works in the months ahead.

imageIt's weird to examine such a story in that if you're used to covering comics companies that might occasionally be hit hard in Direct Market, there's usually some sort of malfeasance or ritual abuse in that market or by its biggest players that you can point towards as an unfair thing. Like when Fantagraphics canceled a lot of solo comics titles in the middle 1990s, it was clear that it was put in that position by an extremely volatile and hostile marketplace made that way in great part by companies like DC and Marvel. In cases like that, you can sort of wave your flag on behalf of the wrong being done, and because the distribution entity entire is relatively intimate, speculate about the potential impact on the whole system. It's harder to do that in book publishing, although with Borders shedding personnel and a future of digital rights publishing looking like it will come without the comforting and profitable-to-many infrastructure that's developed around print, it's hard not to be slightly disturbed by strong moves like this one. In fact, you could look at Tokyopop as another specialty publisher having to make changes or risk dying off altogether, and not much of a unique news story at all.

Here's some writing on the matter:

* Anime News Network
* Christopher Butcher
* ICv2.com
* MangaBlog 01
* MangaBlog 02
* Official Press Release
* Publishers Weekly
* Shuchaku East
* Variety
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* it's pretty much consensus in the press covering Monday's deadly suicide car bombing outside the Danish embassy in Pakistan that it's cartoon revenge-related.

* one report says that it's Pakistani Taliban that did it, and that this won't have a significant impact on talks between that group and the government.

* Jakob Illeborg may get pummeled for focusing on the loss of Denmark's liberal values.

* a court in Jordan has issued subpoenas concerning this year's Muhammed caricature re-publication that I can't imagine will lead to Danish journalists making the trip to the country. One newspaper editor in that country says press during that time period nearly cost him his life.
 
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Your 2008 Komiks.dk Award Winners

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From metabunker:

Best Danish Debut
Oscar K/Rasmus Bregnhoi: Lille Miss Nobody, Branner & Korch
Best Comic for Children
Masashi Kishimoto: Naruto, Carlsen
Best International Comic
Kevin Huizenga: Curses, Drawn and Quarterly
Best Danish Comic
Jakob Martin Strid: Decimal 04, Politisk revy
Best Translated Comic
David B.: Det store onde (L'Ascension du haut mal/Epileptic), Carlsen
Best Danish Cartoonist
Jakob Martin Strid
The Komiks.dk Honorary Award
Paw Mathiasen

They were given out May 31.
 
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Go, Look: More Best of 1964

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Go, Look: Chiggers Web Site

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I thought this was pretty first rate as far as project-dedicated sites go
 
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Go, Look: Super-Sam Archive

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looks like the feature will be wrapping up soon
 
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Go, Look: The Obi Makes Jumbee

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Go, Look: More Al Capp Biography

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Go, Look: Boris Karloff’s Thriller #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this feels potentially important: Dilbert will be animated five days a week.

* does this make anyone else feel old?

image* the cartoonist Adrian Tomine covers The New Yorker and its fiction issue. I like the gag. Here's a round-up of his covers for that issue.

* I missed this Lynda Barry interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

* the cartoonist William Messner-Loebs talks about a new gig lined up for him by the Hero Initiative.

* the Chester Gould -- Dick Tracy Museum is now closed.

* the writer Matt Maxwell discusses his BEA experience.

* Trump has ended up at Dark Horse.

* yeah, I'm glad I don't work for a comics publishing company.

* speaking of which, anyone that called Ian Brill "a blogger made good" because he moved into an editorial position at a comics company needs to be punched in the face.

* Editor & Publisher talks about Dan Piraro's efforts to get people to sign a petition against horse-drawn carriages in New York City.

* finally, Mike Manley expands on his convention report by suggesting that it's a cosplay world, and we're just selling comics once or twice a month near it.
 
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Happy 79th Birthday, Dick Locher!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Steve Weissman!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Josef Rubinstein!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Wendy Pini!

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Quick hits
Craft
Electric Chair Religion
Evan Dorkin Trading Card
Dave Lasky Draws In Color
Dave Lasky Draws A Poster
Richard Thompson Draws Scott McClellan

Exhibits/Events
PWCW on BEA
Review Of UK Exhibit
Bryan Talbot on Kemi
Rall Back To Central Asia
Adams Stands In Line For Self

History
Trixie Is Boss
Superhero Fashion
Death Draws The Line
Judge Dredd Newspaper Strip
Happy 100th Birthday, Les Pieds Nickeles

Industry
Jim Whiting Honored
Comics In Academia
Silliness at the Comic Shop
Alexa Kitchen Signs With Hyperion
Marc Mason Is Dumping His Comics

Interviews/Profiles
Websnark: Ryan North
Seattle P-I: Michael Easton
Hemispheres: Mike Mignola
Eddie Campbell: Nicholson Baker
Comics Waiting Room: Rick Remender

Not Comics
Sidewalk Art
CR Hero Paul Sills Dies
The Comic Book Lady Trailer
Gerry Conway's Nostalgia Wallow

Publishing
Legal System Comic
One Plus One Debuts
White Viper Has Launched
Jeff Koterba Illustrated Essay
Minx Web Site Re-Launches, DIY Feature

Reviews
Douglas Wolk: Various
Anonymous: Kick-Ass #3
Professor Fury: Incognegro
Koppy McFad: Batman #677
Sean T. Collins: Final Crisis #1
Craig Fischer: TOON Season One
Greg McElhatton: At A Crossroads
Charles Hatfield: TOON Season One
Leroy Douresseaux: Cat Eyed Boy Vol. 1
Andy Doan: The Incredible Hercules #117
Johanna Draper Carlson: Kitchen Princess Vol. 6
Marek Bennett: A People's History of American Empire
 

 
June 3, 2008


Tokyopop To Curtail Publishing Efforts

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It's like we pointed at it and said "you are this" and then suddenly it changed into that.
 
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San Diego 4-Day Memberships Sold Out

Never let it be said I don't read my own ads.
 
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Your 2008 Doug Wright Nominees

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The nominees for the fourth annual Doug Wright Awards have been announced. They are:

Best Book
365 Days: A Diary by Julie Doucet (Drawn and Quarterly)
Spent by Joe Matt (Drawn and Quarterly)
The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming (Riverhead Books)
Southern Cross by Laurence Hyde (Drawn and Quarterly)

Best Emerging Talent
Essex County Vol. 1 Tales From The Farm & Vol. 2 Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)
Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly (self-published)
Kieffer #1 by Jason Kieffer (self-published)
The Experiment by Nick Maandag (self-published)

"Pigskin Peters" Award
Milk Teeth by Julie Morstad (Drawn and Quarterly)
Little Lessons in Safety by Emily Holton (Conundrum Press)
Excelsior 1968 by John Martz (self-published)
Fire Away by Chris von Szombathy (Drawn and Quarterly)

The Pigskin Peters award is "dedicated to works that fall outside the bounds of traditional storytelling" and is named for a character in the strip Birdseye Center. This trumps my initial guess that it was named to make me hate it. That's Mr. Peters, above, as drawn by Seth.

The nominating committee was Chester Brown, Seth, Jerry Ciccoritti, Jeet Heer and Bryan Munn. The selection committee is Katrina Onstad, Helena Reckitt, Mariko Tamaki and Ho Che Anderson. The awards will be given out in August.
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* this article provides a basic summary of international speculation all over the news wires that a bombing outside the Danish embassy in Pakistan likely had something to do with the Danish Cartoons Controversy of 2005-2006. There had been renewed calls for a strike against Danish interests earlier this year after one of the cartoons was widely reprinted in the wake of a reported assassination attempt aimed at one of the original cartoonists.

* here's a summary article on that bombing, if like me you're behind a bit. At least six people were killed.

* a memorial was held this morning for the victims, and Danish diplomats are cooperating with local authorities.
 
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Editorial Cartoonist Ann Telnaes Leaves Print Syndication For Animation

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Here's a slightly disturbing sign of the times article: the well-regarded editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes has apparently been asked to increase the number of animations she does for the Washington Post web site from two a week to three a week. To facilitate this, she'll no longer be doing print cartoons for syndication. Animated editorial cartoons have been a big hit for several newspaper web site, and there have been editorial cartoonists who have folded this into their schedule at the expense of some print work and some cartoonists who have moved over to that mode of communication entirely. This is the first name cartoonist to make that move at the explicit expense of other work that I can remember, though, and certainly the first Pulitzer Prize winner (2001). She will continue to do exclusive print cartoons for certain clients.

One thing I find unfortunate about this trend is that the vast majority of the animation work of this kind I've seen tends to emphasize everything that can be awful about modern editorial cartooning, but maybe that's just me.
 
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Dabel Brothers Sued By Distributor

imageICv2.com has a succinct report up that last Friday the distributor Publisher Services International sued the publisher and packager Dabel Brothers Publishing (aka Roaring Studios). At issue was the bulk of a $45,000 advance PSI sent Dabel Bros. when they two were in negotiations for PSI to become the company's exclusive distributor. Dabel Bros eventually signed with Del Rey. The Dabel Bros. representative contacted by ICv2.com indicated that there is money yet to be paid although they claim that arrangements were in place for this to be done.

I think what's slightly alarming from an industry standpoint is that this money seems to have gone into the publisher's coffers rather than being held in a way where it could be instantly repaid, indicating some financial shortages at the company, or at least the one-time existence of one combined with a lack of flushness now. Kind of like if you loaned a family member money to buy a car and they ended up getting a bank loan but they still couldn't pay you your money back right away.

In a related story -- related in a "publisher that seems to be having fundamental money issues in a way that may or may not surprise you" way, anyway -- a winner of a Platinum Studios to publish and represent one's comic book has announced he will be suspending publication due to unspecified money problems with Platinum.
 
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James Perham, RIP

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James Perham, a writer and operations manager at Valiant, passed away over the weekend according to this post by blogger and former Valiant employee Valerie D'Orazio. Further details weren't immediately available, and I know little of Perham beyond what D'Orazio writes, such as his being the last employee to leave the company and that he wrote a few of their comics. His script contribution seem to be later-period issues within runs and a couple of the abortive re-launches, which makes sense given that company's history.
 
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Masaru Uchida, 1934/1935-2008

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Anime News Network has posted information derived from an obituary from Sankei Shimbun indicated that former Weekly Shonen Magazine editor Masaru Uchida died on May 30. The cause was lung cancer.

The article notes that Uchida was the third editor-in-chief in that publication's history, beginning in 1970, and his contributions to its long run were two sports serials: the baseball manga Kyojin no Hoshi and the boxing manga Ashita no Joe (panels from which above). He would later advise Sony on the Animax channel project.

Uchida was 73 years old, and is survived by a wife.

does anyone out there know why a google translation of the obit keeps saying 2007? that's worrying as far as using that tool...
 
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People Writing Smartly About Comics

* the writer and retailer Christopher Butcher wrote what might be the final word on last week's flurry of objections to the Tokyopop Pilot Program contact. In doing so he makes a severely interesting point, in that while one may certainly find problems with contracts that explicitly tie properties up forever (and I'm unconvinced this one allows the clean break claimed for it), and that this is the traditional way creators have been screwed over, the way that properties are valuable to publishers right now you can get almost exactly the same benefit simply by making sure that properties are tied up during an initial window that companies in the past used to get by tying them up in perpetuity.

image* the writer and prominent blogger Valerie D'Orazio hits on something that more people should: there's nothing intrinsically wrong with a project that aims at a core audience like a superhero crossover. Such projects are generally profitable, and something like Final Crisis or Secret Invasion shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of being an audience-broadening agent, just as something like Maggots shouldn't. It's not a point that often gets made, I think because of certain occluding values held by the comics community.

There are unfortunate things about such series. They're frequently terrible, and bad comics are their own poison. There's also an argument that an over-reliance on them exhausts the target audience and thwarts the success of more standard, less universe-shattering plotlines in an already tired genre. Something that's potentially damaging about such series isn't their content but the fact that the big companies in their dick-measuring competitiveness have warped that part of the industry around them in a way that maximizes sales on such series at the expense of fostering a healthier, wider-optioned playing field that might more frequently result in multiple hits, even within those companies' own offerings. It's a market that I call ossified, where there are definite limits to what will hit and how many copies comprise a ceiling for what kind of project. In a way, it's kind of ironic. Those companies have been hostile towards their competition in the DM for years, and now there's blowback where their works more like those of their DM competition suffer the same effect.

* the television writer/producer and one-time prominent comics scriptwriting wunderkind Gerry Conway has penned a fascinating post where he essentially admits that he and his peers from the 1970s knew exactly what they were getting into when they wrote for the big companies: they were signing away their rights. While that sucks, and it would be nice if the companies were more generous in apportioning credit and paying royalties, Conway seems to be saying it would be intellectually dishonest to try and argue that that generation didn't know what it was doing.
 
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Go, Look: Reinhard Kleist In Cuba

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seriously: go dig around a bit; my thanks to Sebastian Oehler
 
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Go, Look: My Neighbor, The Dickhead

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Go, Look: Black Weather, Scroll Three

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Go, Look: Dick Stone

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Go, Look: Swamp Terror

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Go, Look: Chris Schweizer’s Smokers of the Marvel Universe

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I had this link e-mailed to me by a few people, which means it was probably someplace prominent this morning... still: cute
 
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Sign Of The Times: Convention, Gas

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from Chris Pitzer
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the mainstream American comics giant Marvel has announced one of its bigger project follow-ups to the latest Secret Invasion project: a third go at the Marvel Zombies project, where the denizens of an alternate world invade our own. Luckily, they're only attacking Florida.

image* speaking of sequels to mega-successful projects, Marvel has also apparently entered into a licensing agreement with Doubleday to do a comics adaptation of Stephen King's post-apocalyptic fantasy The Stand. I really liked The Stand when I was a kid (I had the cover that looked like Spy Vs. Spy meets Luke Skywalker), although the TV adaptation kidney-punched any desire to revisit that material right out of me. It's also nice that this is announced as a straight-up adaptation and there's no futzing around in terms of phantom promises about King's potential involvement like there was at one point with Dark Tower.

* that Peter David sure can bowl.

* a lot of comics fans will probably recognize a part of themselves in this Luc Sante article about having a large collection of books. (from Gil Roth)

* that's one fancy fashion book.

* finally, Chris Butcher picks the Eisners as he'd like to see them unfold. If for nothing else, it's worth it for the Achewood strip he uses.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Mark Anderson!

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Happy 26th Birthday, Paul Maybury!

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Quick hits
Craft
Comics as Journalism

Exhibits/Events
Philly Con Report
Galleycat Meets Bully
Local Philly Con Coverage
Peter Bagge In PDX Thursday
Big Alternative Show at Stripdagen Haarlem

History
JKS Fanzines
Gambit Says Wonky
One More Tribute to Will Elder

Industry
NYT On Missing Garfield Effort
I Would Probably Let It Run Away
Sweden Duck Comic Brings In Bucks
Happy Birthday, Comics Reviewer John Hodgman

Interviews/Profiles
Anthropologist Pens Manga

Not Comics
Mega Clap Hulk
Akimbo Shuts Down
The Comic Book Lady
Honk If Your Ameracan
Poulet Aux Prunes Film Next
Commercialism Bad; Please Buy My Designer Bag

Publishing
DC Vault Announced
Holly Black Penning GN
More On Carrier Manga
Gordon Brown Saves The World
Rick Geary Working On Trotsky Biography

Reviews
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Benjamin Birdie: Thor #9
Brian Hibbs: Final Crisis #1
Tucker & Nina Stone: Various
Patrick Berube: Final Crisis #1
David P. Welsh: Parasyte Vol. 3
Tom Baker: Fullmetal Alchemist
James Hunt: Ultimate Origins #1
Graeme McMillan: Final Crisis #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Apollo's Song
Abhay Khosla: Secret Invasion #2
Kevin Church: Ultimate Origins #1
Jerome Maida: Brothers In Arms #1
Sean T. Collins: Kramers Ergot Vol. 4
Jeff Lester: Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 4
Johanna Draper Carlson: Nephilim Vol. 1
Patrick Berube: Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1
Greg McElhatton: Showcase Presents: Metamorpho
Leroy Douresseaux: Haridama: Magic Cram School
Xaviar Xerexes: The Abominable Charles Christopher
 

 
June 2, 2008


Mike Manley on Wizard World Philly: Greatest Convention Report Ever?

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Maybe not, but it's totally worth the effort it takes to load:

"There might be a lot of factors as to why this show was lame, maybe it was the rain and tornado warnings on Saturday, maybe the NYC show a month earlier stole the juice, maybe Wizard's troubles and decline as an organization also factor, add in the shitty economy and gas prices, con fatigue, what have you. I don't know, but the show basically sucked ass."

Even the title is funny. And yes, that's Black Manta trying to catch a cab.
 
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Mel Casson, 1920-2008

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King Features Syndicate has announced the passing of cartoonist Mel Casson. Casson was the cartoonist behind the Redeye strip for almost 20 years, first illustrating it after creator Gordon Bess and then writing and illustrating it upon the passing of Bill Yates. Casson died on May 21 in his Connecticut home.

Casson was born in Boston and was trained at the Art Students League in New York City. While in New York, his work began to appear in high-profile magazine clients such as Esquire, Ladies Home Journal, the New York Times and the Saturday Evening Post.

imageHe served in the infantry in World War II, was promoted in the field to Captain and received two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts and the Croix de Guerre. He would return to active duty in Korea, which interrupted his service on the strip Jeff Crockett. After his Korean service he did the panel cartoons Spark and Angel and the strip It's Me Dilly (with Alfred Andriola). He was involved with two television shows on ABC, either as a writer, an on-air talent or both: Draw Me A Laugh and You Be The Judge. He was also a prolific maker of gag cartoons, an advertising illustrator and a well-known close friend of the cartoonist Milton Caniff. Mike Lynch has posted some of Casson's cartoon work.

With William F. Brown, Casson created the Mixed Singles strip, which ran until 1981 under both that title and Boomer. Casson joined Redeye in 1990 and the strip still appeared in nearly 100 newspapers as recently as a few years ago. Casson's papers and originals have been archived at Ohio State University. He was a resident of Westport, Connecticut for nearly 40 years.

He is survived by a wife, daughter and two grandchildren. The family has asked that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association.

caption on gag cartoon: "This is the reason I gave up playing with dolls."
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* it looks like at least two dead in a suicide car bombing this morning outside the Danish embassy in Pakistan.

* the World Association of Newspapers (given the state of newspaper publishing, that's a hilarious acronym) held a conference about free speech issues and cartooning on Sunday, which of course meant much discussion of the Danish Muhammed caricatures and related efforts like Charlie Hebdo's satirical issue devoted to the issue. I find the Jordanian editor Jehad Momani the most sympathetic, although I'm generally sympathetic to free speech absolutism.

* the Lower House of the Dutch parliament continues to push for a better explanation as to why cartoonist Gregory Nekschot was arrested and why he was held longer than seemed necessary.

* the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard received the the Sappho Award from the Danish Free Press Society a couple of weeks ago, I somehow managed to totally ignore. It is a press freedom award, and comes with a modest cash prize.
 
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52 Days Until Comic-Con International

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I Have Highly Amusing Friends Dept.

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"While folding the laundry yesterday, I thought, 'Is Obama the Mechizawa to Hillary's Kamiyama? Is she desperately trying to say, "What's wrong with you people? Can't you see that he's a robot?"'" -- political discussion instigated via e-mail by my pal Gil Roth.
 
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Go, Look: Crime SuspenStories Covers

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one, two, three, four, five, six
 
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Go, Look: Two By Joe Sinnott

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Go, Look: Best Cartoons of 1964

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Go, Look: Douglas Stewart Walker

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one, two, three, four, five, six, seven
 
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Go, Look: Michael Berry

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Go, Look: Aung Min Min

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Not Comics: Samurai Cat Armor

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granted, this is the kind of thing that was likely blogged to death whenever it first appeared
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the Fantagraphics store and its manager, Larry Reid, are prominently featured in this New York Times Travel Section profile of Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood.

image* the cartoonist Jason's Low Moon is still totally killing me.

* news that DramaQueen has an investor lined up may or may not be totally true as more time passes and it looks like investors are still being sought.

* two big publishing projects worth anticipating like a five-year-old stares at the empty stocking for the second half of December: D&Q makes official its intention to publish the 810-page Yoshihiro Tatsumi autobiography A Drifting Life; Denis Kitchen has turned in The Art of Harvey Kurtzman, which will come out from Abrams.

* the agent turned writer turned actor John Hodgman pens another of his fun reviews of various comics and comics-related works for the New York Times. Did it ever annoy anyone else when comics populists would make jokes about the New York Times Book Review when they probably meant to be cracking on The New York Review of Books?

* finally, next weekend is the MoCCA Festival, and the Daily Cross Hatch has a round-up of events leading up to the show and continuing during the show.
 
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Happy 27th Birthday, Loris Z.!

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Quick hits
Craft
Eric Reynolds Sketchbook #47
Eric Reynolds Sketchbook #48
Eric Reynolds Sketchbook #49

Exhibits/Events
Bone Exhibit Reviewed
Jim Flora's Sunday Morning
Paul Guinan's First Thursday Show

History
Hot-Shot Hamish
On Various Crises
On Various Crises 02
Brendan Wright: Kirby 04

Industry
I Love Your Cartoon
John McPherson Thanks Nurses
How To Get Kids To Read Comics
Cartoonists Love Scott McClellan Book

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jeff Parker
Times Online: Mark Millar
Times Union: Mark Tatulli
Boston Herald: Keith Knight
Den of Geek: Dave Gibbons
Globe and Mail: Art Spiegelman
Payvand: Kambiz Derambakhsh
Flying Colors: Mark Parsons, Tom Cohen

Not Comics
Marvel Vs. DC
Peanuts Licensing
Comics Are Nerdcore
Gary Leib on the Meatpacking District
Gerry Conway and The Remembered Book

Publishing
Goth to Tokyopop
Prozak and the Platypus Profiled
Claudio Sanchez Launches Strip at Popgun

Reviews
Jessica Paff: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Paul O'Brien: 1985 #1
Roger Perkins: Various
Jog: Speak of the Devil
Amanda Craig: Macbeth
ADD: Look Out! Monsters
James Hunt: Ms. Marvel #27
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Judenhass
Richard Krauss: Slam Bang #3
Doug Zawisza: Blue Beetle #27
Shannon Smith: Shiot Crock Vol. 12
Benjamin Birdie: Green Lantern #31
Paul O'Brien: X-Men: First Class #12
Paul W. Smith: God Save The Queen
Richard Bruton: The Five Fists of Science
Paul O'Brien: Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1
 

 
June 1, 2008


If I Were In Berkeley, I’d Go To This

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CR Sunday Interview: Mike Dawson

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*****

imageI've been aware of Mike Dawson since his work with Chris Radtke on Gabagool, a straight-forward observational humor comic that came out at just about the time when such a project was way more doomed than usual. I think I may have seen one or two things before that as well. I hadn't known before we spoke that he had been pursuing his latest book, Freddie and Me for a few years before finally landing it with a pair of book publishers (one in the UK; one here). I had seen an early mini, and liked it, and linked to some on-line material. None of this prepared me for the book itself, a very large book that felt even more so because of the density of the work. A walk through memory that turns into a rumination on the same, Freddie & Me does as good a job as any autobiographical comics work in making the reader feel the passage of time, the accretion of details that make up a life.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Mike, we get a glimpse of your reading habits in the new book, but I was wondering if you could talk a bit about your history with comics. Was it a pretty standard attachment to superheroes followed by a discovery of alt-comics? Does the fact that you lived as a kid for a time in England have any effect on how you comics reading habits have developed?

MIKE DAWSON: I read a lot of comics as a child living in England. Definitely the usual British suspects: The Beano, The Dandy, Whizzer & Chips. I also used to read some Scottish comics like The Broons and Oor Wullie. I really loved the UK version of The Transformers, which wasn't an import -- it was mostly an entirely original series. It did have some Marvel US imports that ran as back-ups in each issue, like the Barry Windsor-Smith Machine Man limited series, and the Rocket Raccoon comic that Mike Mignola drew. That material was my introduction to Marvel comics.

In 1986, when I was ten, a new humor comic for kids called OINK! started publication, and this quickly became my favorite. It was much edgier and anarchic than comics like The Beano, but similar in format, with recurring characters and strips. It was similar in tone to the cult TV show The Young Ones, another bit of British pop-culture that I loved: a great mix of comedy and a kind of grim morbid/dark undercurrent. That kind of tone has always appealed to me. I can see a direct connection in sensibilities between a comic like OINK! and my own Gabagool!

In my teens I was very attached to superheroes as you suggest, and went on to branch out into alt-comics during college, starting with material like Dork, Action Girl and Minimum Wage, and going from there.

imageSPURGEON: I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Gabagool!. That was a humor comic that you were making when very few humor comics were being done. How frustrating was it trying to get that title over in that market? Is it something to which you'll ever return?

DAWSON: Chris Radtke (who I co-created and wrote Gabagool! with) and I did have a hard time with this -- especially because we got the sense that people did generally like the book and thought it was actually pretty good. Nobody ever wanted to take over publishing it for us though, and yeah, I can blame a little of that on the fact that humor comics series weren't really being done anymore.

We self-published six issues of Gabagool! between 2002 and 2004. One of the reasons we wrote the Hedonism storyline was because we were getting the sense that we might have more luck getting a publisher interested in putting it out as a graphic novel. We had no luck with that either, which probably had a lot to do with the content. I am very proud of that story though, and was a little disappointed that it always kind of hovered under the radar and didn't really get noticed.

One thing I always liked about the series was that it was concretely set in a specific time and place (New York in 1999-2000). I wonder if it would be hard to return to it and pick up right where we left off. I'm not sure. I think there's still a lot of material to mine. It probably doesn't matter -- in the grand scheme of things the original comic was read by so few people -- we could probably just do a re-boot and go from there. It would have to be a collaborative effort though. Chris and I agreed that neither of us would really be capable of doing Gabagool! on our own.

SPURGEON: The Hedonism Island storyline in Gabagool! was one of the more memorable, I thought, in a humor comic of recent vintage. Is there any background to that story that'd be interesting to hear about?

DAWSON: Back when we were both unmarried, Chris and I went to Hedonism on vacation, along with two other guys that we were working with at the time. Along the way, we all agreed to one of those "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas..." pacts. We called it "The Hedo Credo," which makes me feel like a douchebag for admitting out loud. Seriously, I might be more embarrassed about that than I am about some of the things that happened on the trip... Anyway, obviously Chris and I violated "The Credo" something awful by writing a comic based on the experience, but what can you do?

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SPURGEON: What is it that you find funny about sexual discomfort?

DAWSON: I think the story is funny because the characters behave in an honest way, even if they do or say things that are bad at times. Though, I'm not sure I think anything that they do in the story is actually really "bad," just maybe off-color. I think the only character in the story that is kind of unlikable is Garry, the divorcee who frequents Hedo for ten-day stretches (to take advantage of the weekend turnover), and berates Christopher Vigliotti and his friends for failing to "score." But, even him; he's not necessarily a bad guy, just a creep.

SPURGEON: How was that storyline received? Did you get any negative reaction because of its occasionally lurid nature?

DAWSON: I think the people who read the story generally liked it. It got some very positive reviews and good feedback. Also though, one of my favorite negative reviews that I've ever received was written about Gabagool! #6. Here's the best line: "If it's not porn and it's not erotic, what is this stuff? Oh, of course. It's alternative comics." I don't think he meant it as a compliment, but it's kind of true.

SPURGEON: Mike, Freddie & Me is much larger and more comprehensive than I would have guessed before I held it in my hands. The last I saw of this project it was I think just a few pages, maybe a mini-comic. As explicitly as possible, can you talk about how you landed the deal for this book?

DAWSON: The book took about three-and-a-half years to complete -- I started in the summer of 2004, and was finalizing all of the production work and cover designs this past January. The first deal I signed was with Jonathan Cape in the UK, which happened in February or March of 2007. Then Bloomsbury USA followed shortly after.

Because I went so long without a definite publisher, I spent a lot of time between 2004 and 2007 trying to get some attention for the project, especially since my initial outreach to publishers didn't really go anywhere. I made a mini-comic out of an excerpt at one point, and I also posted large excerpts online for a while. I got linked to from a bunch of places (including The Comics Reporter), and this actually directly led to an offer to publish the book in France. For a little while there I thought the comic would come out in French before it ever came out in English.

There was a period of time in 2006 when the plan was to publish with AdHouse. Chris Pitzer was one of the few alt-comics publishers who'd expressed cautious interest in the project from the beginning. He was always interested in seeing the book as I completed chunks of it, and also helped give me a big boost career-profile-wise, by publishing some comics of mine in his Project: Superior books.

The Jonathan Cape and Bloomsbury deals came from working with a literary agent. A co-worker at Scholastic -- where I worked at the time -- suggested I contact an agent she knew who was working with cartoonists, which I did. I sent him some sample pages and a description, which he liked, and thought right-away that Jonathan Cape might be interested, which they were. It was really very exciting, and very unexpected. To go from a place where you're basically prepared to self-publish, to getting some really great deals and working with some excellent publishers -- it was really kind of remarkable to me.

SPURGEON: What kind of editorial support did you get from Bloomsbury? Was there any back and forth on the project?

DAWSON: Before things really got going, the prospect of working with an editor really freaked me out at first. I had no idea how the process was supposed to work, and I really didn't get what happens when you and your editor just fundamentally disagree over something. Who has final say? I still don't really know. From what I know about people who're published by more traditional alt-comics publishers, it's not unusual for there to be almost no editorial input at all. It just seems like the expectations at the larger book publishers are different in this regard. I dunno, I used up a lot of adrenaline worrying about it for a few months.

In the end though, my own experience was actually really positive. Since I'd completely written, drawn, and inked the first draft of the book by the time I started working with an editor, most of the support seemed to be focused on helping me to tighten and trim the story, which for me was not actually so hard to take. I met with my editor at Bloomsbury one time, and we talked through her questions/comments/suggestions, some of which I agreed with, and some I didn't. And, for the things I didn't agree with, there was pretty much no push-back. Like I said, I wasted a lot of worry.

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SPURGEON: How did you structure the work? It's in vignettes, but I'm curious as to a) why you went that direction instead of a sustained narrative, and b) if that was a matter of folding in existing material into a longer story.

DAWSON: The conceit of the book is that it's composed to match the structure of the song "Bohemian Rhapsody": it has an intro, The Ballad, the "Guitar Solo," The Opera, a "hard-rock" section, and then an outro. So, structurally, that's was my idea. It's supposed to be a less literal adaptation of the song than the one I tried in high school.

SPURGEON: I didn't catch that.

DAWSON: I attempted to mimic the song in other ways as well. One of the main ones was that I chose these three main sections from my life to make up the book, but I tried to write each one of them so that they had a separate feel from one another. Kind of a different tone. In the first section there's no narration of any kind, everything is just what you see is what you get, kind of like a kid's point of view. In the second section there's heavy introspective narration throughout -- which I think suited the tone of a self-absorbed teenager well. And it's a little melodramatic too. The idea is that like the song, even though the parts all feel a bit different from each other, and aren't always directly connected, hopefully they would all coalesce into a coherent whole.

SPURGEON: A more specific structural question: at what point did you decide to include the material on George Michael? The surface reason why is because that was your sister's Freddie Mercury-type figure, and you could use it as a basis for comparison, but I wondered why in terms of the creative decisions you made you did so much with him?

DAWSON: A few reasons: One minor one was that I just thought it was funny -- and kind of a little bit unexpected. I imagine people picking up the book expecting one thing, and not really anticipating quite so much George Michael inside. Also though, I always had in mind the very end of the book, when my sister and I met Mr. Michael at the Virgin mega-store. I knew he would appear at the end, so I had this idea of having snippets of his life-story play out as a parallel narrative to mine, knowing that the two threads would eventually connect.

The other reason for me was that it was actually very easy for me to invent a character out of him. I guess it was easier to create something of an "inner life" for him as a character. I wrote two scenes with Freddie Mercury and http://www.brianmay.com/Brian May interacting, but those really didn't come as easily to me. I think it's a combination of the fact that I don't think the milestones of their lives are quite as well known as some of George Michael's, but also that George Michael happens to write very autobiographical pop-songs. This definitely helped me feel connected to him as a character, and made writing those scenes flow quite naturally.

imageSPURGEON: I love the design of the little kid version of you. How did you enjoy working with little kids in terms of the figure drawing? Did you use old photos and the like to nail down your designs?

DAWSON: Yes, I spent some time digging through the boxes of old family photos to pick out things for reference. Pictures of our old neighborhood, the Butlin's holiday camp where I sang in the talent show, etc.

I tried a few other designs for the little kid version of me. I knew I'd hit on the right one when the drawing that I'd done made my wife burst out laughing. I think it's funny, drawing a giant head, thick goofy teeth, and beady little eyes. I once had someone who was reading an early draft comment on all the teeny little eyes on everyone, and how that was kind of weird (and disconcerting) for a comic. I couldn't help it though; we all have beady little eyes and big heads and teeth in my family.

SPURGEON: There are all sorts of famous difficulties in working with autobiography, but what did you personally find the most difficult thing about working in that genre?

DAWSON: Well, there's the familiar issue of trying to depict things as accurately as possible, and often coming up short. The way that I remember some things, isn't always the way that things actually happened. One of my best examples of this is that on November 23rd, 1991, the day before Freddie Mercury died; he announced to the world that he had AIDS. I remember going to school and talking about it with my friends that day, which is what I depict in the book. Then, the next day, I was shocked to learn that he had died, and I went to school all weepy and had to go to the nurse.

The disturbing thing is, I've gone back and looked at calendars from that year, and November 23rd was apparently a Sunday. So, I wouldn't have gone to school that day. But, I remember it differently, so that's what I went with in the story.

I feel like this is forgivable, since I do make an effort to explore some of the things I discovered about my own memory -- and some of the tricky things about it -- within the context of the book.

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SPURGEON: One of the more interesting plot points is how you processed Mercury being gay. Was there anything else to your experience in dealing with that information? Was there any re-evaluation of his presence in your life? That's a sensitive age for a lot of young men in terms of issues like that.

DAWSON: Before Freddie Mercury announced that he was sick, I really had no idea that he was gay. I don't think this was totally my own naivete -- I think that at the time, for someone my age, it didn't seem so strange that a pop-singer would be flamboyant and dress in leotards and still be straight. This was around the era of Poison, Warrant, and early Motley Crue.

There was homophobia in my high school for sure. I've started to wonder though if I was a teenager around the time that things might have started to get slightly more progressive for kids. Maybe it was related to the grunge phenomenon, suddenly making the so-called outcasts into the cool kids.

I don't recall it ever being a huge deal that I was into Queen in regards to social-embarrassment. However, it wouldn't have been socially cool to actually be openly gay -- so there was a line. I get the impression now (from MTV and movies), that there are kids who are openly gay in high school now, which I think is remarkable. Kids have it better these days in all respects. They can go to their prom as a homosexual couple, and they can openly play Magic: The Gathering in their homeroom without fear of harassment from the jocks.

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SPURGEON: One thing that I thought was curious is that you were reluctant to show the socializing you did that included proselytizing on behalf of Queen. One scene we get with you listening to music with another person near your age, and it's about Rush. Did your interpersonal relationships have an effect in any way on your admiration for and interest in Queen, or was your interest in the music something you mostly kept to yourself?

DAWSON: I could have been a little shy about actually proselytizing. My friends would have known I was a Queen fan, and I would have felt confident enough to try to push the music on the ones I was closer to. I think I got pegged at some point as being someone with lousy taste in music, which would have made me self-conscious about pushing my tastes on other people. I still feel like I have crummy musical taste -- but, I kind of feel like it is what it is.

I'm not a big proselytizer of anything really. Like comics. I know that I like them, but I don't push them on other people. My wife doesn't read many comics, and that's OK with me. I know that I like them enough for the both of us.

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SPURGEON: Do you think the connection we feel for a musician is different than that we might feel for a filmmaker or cartoonist?

DAWSON: I had some ideas about the connection between music and comics that might not be shared with film-making so much. My thought was that with both singing and cartooning, the work of art was being created directly from another person's physical body: their voice or their hand. I was wondering if this similarity between the two might have some connection to the fact that I think both art-forms serve autobiography especially well.

I was asking myself a great deal at one point why there sometimes seem to be a lot of cartoonists who work autobiographically. I was thinking it's wrong to assume that it's a case of there being a lot of cartoonists who can't think of good fiction, as some people have complained. Instead, I thought maybe look at it inversely and consider that perhaps cartooning is a form that naturally lends itself especially well to that kind of storytelling. I'm not sure, I don't feel capable of constructing some sort of thesis out of it, but I think it's interesting to consider.

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SPURGEON: In one of the book's most interesting passages, you talk about distrusting memory, the way that a scene you might depict in a certain way you really only remember in bits and pieces, while also acknowledging other people might remember it differently. It's a lovely point in and of itself, but how do you feel that section fit in within the entire book? What would you have someone take away from it?

DAWSON: I've learned from this writing experience is that memories are not as concrete as we would probably like them to be. When we think of certain memories, we can compose a watery picture of them in our minds, but the harder we try to solidify that image, the more it disintegrates and falls to pieces. What's interesting about it is that we construct a concept of who we are as people based on our memories. And, I've been doing a little reading lately about this kind of thing, and have been learning that even those constructions of ourselves as people are not as concrete as we would probably like them to be either.

SPURGEON: Is there a Queen fan community out there? What has been their reaction to the work?

DAWSON: There are a lot of Queen fans out there, especially outside of the United States. Queen is like the soccer of rock bands: beloved everywhere in the world except for America.

I've made some attempts to reach out to them, and will continue to do so once the book is published. Sites like MySpace have been very good for me. I can find a large population of people who will probably be interested in this book, just because they love Queen. And, the Queen fans that have read the book really seem to love it.

I've also attempted some outreach to some of the larger Queen related websites and personalities. When I was posting excerpts online, I was linked to from brianmay.com, which sent a horde of Queen fans my way. I will definitely keep going with this effort to connect with the very, very large fan-base.

SPURGEON: Did you ever find it difficult to work a music element into the comics form?

DAWSON: That is most definitely a challenge. I may well come up short on this in some people's eyes.

I didn't totally answer your question before about the difference between music and comics. Obviously there is one. But I've read other cartoonists make other comparisons between the two -- most memorably the idea that there's a relationship between panels and rhythm.

To a certain extent, I can represent a music element in a literal way. I can draw the notes, and render the expressions, and do my best to convey the sense of a sound that has impact in a silent medium. Past that though, I am able to fall-back a little on the knowledge that hearing music is a universal experience. I think everyone is able to relate to the idea of being moved by music, even if they aren't able to relate to Queen. In some ways, I feel like it works for me to have remained ambiguous about Queen's specific musicality. I hope that this might help make the some of the things I talk about in story feel a little more universal.

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SPURGEON: I found it fascinating that you didn't obsess over your own attraction to Queen in the book, because that seems to be the typical way that autobiography goes, that kind of examination of choices. On the other hand, I guess that makes it an unanswered question. What do you feel appealed to you so much about Queen? What was your point of connection and why did it endure?

DAWSON: My initial connection was more to do with their videos than their music. In the book you see that the first time I encountered them was in their "I Want to Break Free" video. I just thought it was hilarious. There were some other videos out around that time, "Radio GaGa" and "It's a Hard Life," both of which were colorful and interesting to watch.

Pretty quickly, though, I would have begun to appreciate them for their sound, and not just their videos, because I'm sure they weren't the only band around making interesting music-videos. I mean, "Land of Confusion" by Genesis had an extremely entertaining video to go along with the song, and I never got into them.

Freddie Mercury had a great voice, I think that's undeniable. I like that the other band members also had great voices, and I love Brian May's guitar. And, I have to say again, the best thing about them is their attitude. They do things big, and they're bombastic, and they have a sense-of-humor. I love all the stuff where they layered their own voices over and over again, to create that massive chorus sound. It's so over-the-top, but perfect.

*****

* all art from Freddie and Me except for the Gabagool! cover and the page featuring Garry.

*****

* Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody, Bloomsbury USA, softcover, 308 pages, May 2008, $19.99

*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: English-language magazine in Jordan picks top GNs for Middle East

* go, look: The Trial of the Sober Dog

* go, look: Do Your Strip

* go, bookmark: Mawil.net

* go, look: Gary Barker
 
posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #122—Nerds!

On Friday afternoon, participating CR readers were asked to "Name Five Nerds, Geeks And/Or All-Around Poindexters From The Comics." Here are the results.

suggested by Dave Knott

*****

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Dave Knott

* Professor Cuthbert Calculus -- An excellent and hilarious twist on the absentminded professor stereotype, in an adventure comic no less.
* George Hamilton III -- Wow, what a great character! I sometimes think I *was* this guy during the early nineties.
* Dilton Doiley -- The amazing thing about Dilton is that even though he's the biggest nerd in his high school, all the other teenagers accept him and never give him a hard time. Only in the comics, man.
* Kim Doonesbury -- High tech geek chic, baby.
* Peter Parker -- Lee-Ditko version before the character became a cool kid and therefore someone I could no longer identity with.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Brainiac 5
2. George Hamilton III
3. Harunobu Madarame
4. Jason Fox
5. Gyro Gearloose

*****

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James Langdell

1. Kilowog
2. Ted Kord
3. Zot's Uncle Max
4. Gunther Berger
5. Oliver Wendell Jones

*****

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Mark D. Ashworth

1. Clyde Crashcup
2. Helen Beta Narbon
3. Dexter ("Dee Dee! Get out of my laboratory!")
4. Fenton Fuscus
5. Wade (on "Kim Possible")

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Arnold Burnsteel (Fate, Scare Tactics)
2. Jack B. Quick
3. The Gecko (Major Bummer)
4. Big Words (Newsboy Legion)
5. Tadwallader Jutefruice

*****

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Joe Schwind

Professor Ned Brainard
Impey Barbicane
Professor Redwood
Doctor Solar
Mr. Peabody

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Gyro Gearloose
2. Barry Ween, Boy Genius
3. Leonardo (Clyde Crashcup's assistant and the real brains of the outfit)
4. Plato (from EPICURUS THE SAGE)
5. Phineas Freak

*****

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Tim O'Shea

1. Funky Winkerbean
2. Hank McCoy
3. Peter Parker (if for nothing else, when his graduation from college was delayed by his lack of a gym class credit)
4. Kitty Pryde
5. Barbara Gordon

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. Tadwallader Jutefruice (aka Super-Hip, from DC's Bob Hope comic)
2. Plato (from Beetle Bailey)
3. Dilton Doiley
4. Jasper Sitwell
...and, uh,
5. Fred Hembeck ... no denying it ...

*****

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John Vest

1. Jasper Sitwell
2. Harold H. Harold
3. Toby Radloff
4. Merry Man
5. Dilton Doiley

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. The Cartoon Guide to the Universe Narrator
2. The Junior Woodchucks
3. Bacchus' pal Simpson
4. Linus
5. Bran Mak Mufin

*****

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Brian Moore

1. Professor Lupin Madblood (Narbonic, Shaenon Garrity)
2. Athol Kung of R.U.R. (Time^2: The Epiphany, Howard Chaykin)
3. Professor Cuthbert Calculus
4. Bernie (Mike Doonesbury's lab partner in college)
5. Dan Pussey

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. Marcie from Peanuts
2. Professor Calculus from Tin Tin
3. Yamane from 20th Century Boys
4. Wiz Kid from the X-men comics
5. Maul from Wildcats

*****

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Don Sticksel

1) Oswald Loomis, The Golden Age Prankster
2) Little Octagon
3) Hembeck (no offense Fred)
4) Jack B. Quick
5) Deb Whitman

*****

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Tony Collett

1. Barry Ween, Boy Genius
2. Bernie the Brain
3. Dilton Doiley
4. Jimmy Corrigan
5. O.G. Wotasnozzle

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Dan "Nite Owl II" Dreiberg
2. Lucas "Snapper" Carr
3. Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards
4. Anthony "Big Words" Rodrigues
5. Doctor Terry Thirteen

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. Josh from Even Dorkin's Eltingville strips (a nerd among nerds!)
2. Dan Pussey
3. Peter Parker (early Ditko era)
4. Clark Kent
5. The Chief (from the Doom Patrol)

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Oliver Wendell Jones
2. Lt. Fuzz
3. Dr. Sivana
4. Will Magnus
5. Egghead

*****

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Matthew Wave

1) The kid from Immortal, Invisible
2) Cousin Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese
3) Jeffrey Dahmer from My Friend Dahmer
4) Marcie from Peanuts
5) Toby Radloff from American Splendor

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Jack B. Quick
2. Abelard Snazz
3. Dilton Doiley
4. Oliver Wendell Jones
5. Walter, Prince of Softies

*****

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Sean T. Collins

1. Rusty Brown
2. Chalky White
3. Wedgie
4. Peter Parker back in the day
5. That kid pushing the door that says "pull" at Midvale School for the Gifted

*****
*****
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Graham Annable!

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 72nd Birthday, Gerald Scarfe!

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

It's been as long since Star Trek: The Next Generation as between that show and the original.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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