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











February 28, 2009


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 21 to February 27, 2009:

1. Rocky Mountain News shuts down.

2. More firings at Wizard.

3. Sine acquitted.

Winner Of The Week
Sine

Loser Of The Week
Kodansha. They're not losers in that sense, they just lost a lot of money, apparently.

Quote Of The Week
"I'm surprisingly smooth with ladies." -- Secret Lives Of Comic Store Employees

this week's imagery comes from one of the great underground comix
 
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If I Were In SF, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Orlando, I’d Go To This

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Happy 50th Birthday, Serge Fino!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Daniel Bardet!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Tuf!

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Shannon Smith On Those Bookscan Numbers And Their Like (2/26/09)
* Sean Craig On Bob Rae (2/24/09)
* Mike Lester On Beating People To Death and Hypocritical Irony (2/21/09)
* Tim O'Neil On That Kitty Pryde Art (2/21/09)
* David Glanzer On Comics-Related Stuff at WonderCon (PR) (2/21/09)
* Michael Jantze On His Master Class at CAM (PR) (2/21/09)
 
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February 27, 2009


Go, Look: In Love With A. Lincoln

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via
 
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We Get The Best E-Mail Here

From a reader:
"I was hoping you could help me with some information. I am trying to find the name of a comic book character from the 1970's. He had longish dark hair, a moustache and wore bell-bottom pants. He also had a pet penguin."
Well, it's stumped me. I'm thinking some wacky character that was introduced into a Marvel Comic for a few issues, not long enough to make an Internet impression. But it could be anything. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
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Friday Distraction: Vincent Perriot

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Go, Read: A Talk With Drew Litton, The Other Rocky Mountain News Cartoonist

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I totally forgot that the Rocky Mountain News, whose last edition is out today, also employed sports cartoonist Drew Litton. Luckily, there are better comics reporters out there than I am today, and you can read Michael Cavna's interview with the very soon to unemployed cartoonist.
 
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Go, Look: Secret Lives Of Comic Store Employees Photo Array At Wired

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A Dozen Things I’d Do Were I Able To Attend This Weekend’s WonderCon

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1. I think I'd pay attention to the crowd and the mood and what's selling and who's doing that selling pretty closely at this one. WonderCon isn't a newer show like the New York convention and it's not the crown jewel in the one of the three big companies' array of convention offerings like NYCC, San Diego or Wizard's Chicago show. Rather, it's a solid, enjoyable, not as much in the way of bells and whistles comics-oriented convention in a city that offers all sorts of entertainment dollar competition. I think it's a good one by which to take the temperature of convention-going generally.

2. I'd try to visit as many hometown exhibitors as a I could. Because it's San Francisco, there are some awesome companies for whom WonderCon is their hometown con, and they should be there in full force or at least with buoyant spirits. This included but is certainly not limited to must-visits-at-any-show SLG (707), Last Gasp (625, 627), Lee's Comics (1007) and Comic Relief (807). One of the great things about a show like this one is that it's graspable, you can almost certainly walk the floor and see most if not all of the exhibitors. It makes take a considerable investment of time, but it's not one of those shows where you talk to people after it's over and are frequently, completely baffled about where stuff was. You might miss something, but not wide swaths of stuff.

3. I'd go to a party. People in the Bay Area are cool, and the San Francisco shows have a great reputation for late-night hanging out and drinking in odd and wonderful spaces.

4. I'd hit Artist's Alley. There are old favorites here, like the always-awesome Sergio Aragones and the equally great-to-meet Stan Sakai. I always enjoy seeing Keith Knight. There are some big names, like Roy Thomas and Jim Lee and Mike Mignola. There are also some people I'd like to meet, like Steve Englehart, Ernie Chan and Tony Dezuniga. Solid.

5. I'd eat out. C'mon, it's San Francisco. I don't really know anything about that neighborhood, but I'm sure I'd find something. In general, I always encourage people attending a convention to do something other than simply go to the show. If you don't have time to do something more elaborate in that great city, making sure you exit convention-world and sit down for a proper meal is a great way to cheat and get that experience without maybe deserving it. I think it makes for a richer overall convention-going experience.

6. I'd attend a metric ton of programming. It starts here. They've put together a solid line-up of spotlight panels alone -- you could do nothing but attend those and have a pretty good time. A couple of things that aren't quite spotlights that jump out at me are a Michael Chabon/Matt Fraction panel on Saturday, Fraction again with Ed Brubaker on Sunday, and a Stan Sakai/Mark Evanier/Sergio Aragones panel on Saturday. If you only have time for one panel at a convention, go to one with Sergio Aragones on it.

7. I'd go stare at Gene Colan art at the Cartoon Art Museum.

8. I'd take advantage of any sales and/or discount comics. I suspect that this will be a big year generally for exhibitors taking stuff to shows that they think will move. Ironically, this will likely include both high-end stuff that seems impervious to any downturn in the market and the discounted stuff where there's a high occasion for day to day churn. I'd be looking for the second, and I'd be armed with enough packing material on my person to send this stuff back to my home without having to carry all of it on the airplane.

9. I'd keep an eye out for Bob Levin. I don't know if Bob will come to this event, but he attends a number of area comics shows for a brief time. You should buy his book Most Outrageous -- just a stunningly great book about comics, although not always an upbeat one. Here's what he looks like.

10. I'd buy something I'd never seen from someone I'd never heard of before at a price I couldn't fathom generally paying and then store it away to read at home, later, when I wanted to remember the show just past. Because in a lot of ways, that's what these shows are about.

11. I'd seriously consider going to the masquerade. If I could get in. I don't understand the costume impulse at all, but I do understand arbitrary competitions that make little to no sense and the people at these events seem to have more fun in that couple of hours than I had in the entirety of my twenties.

12. Finally, I'd keep a special eye out for anything and everything to do with S. Clay Wilson this weekend, including any way I could help out with a purchase or donation. It looks like the CBLDF party will have a Wilson component -- a raffle. I'd also try to seek out any floor presence for the people giving Mr. Wilson a hand. S. Clay Wilson is an important figure in comics history through the taboo-shattering nature of his work and how it inspired many other cartoonists to be more fearless in how they pursue their art. If this year's WonderCon turned out to be the WonderCon where Wilson received a lot of help, it would be a very memorable show indeed.
 
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Go, Read: Profile Of Amin Amir

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One of the more fascinating recent developments in Canadian cartooning history is how the country has come to host a number of cartoonists doing work that either led to them being driven from their home country or would definitely do so now. One such is Somali cartoonist Amin Amir, who lives in Edmonton. I don't really have anything to add to the profile, but I wanted as many people as possible to make note of it and the general trend it might represent.
 
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David Chelsea To Raise Money For S. Clay Wilson Through 24-Hour Comic

David Chelsea, who's been producing a series of skillful 24-Hour comics the last few years, will devote the work on one of them to underground great S. Clay Wilson. Wilson is still in the midst of long-term recovery from medical issues. What's interesting about this to me is he's basically accepting donations for money per page completed -- a typical fund-raising model -- rather than simply selling the book and donating monies earned to Wilson's outstanding bills and living expenses.

By the way, if any of you are going to WonderCon, please consider tracking down any and all efforts to help Bay Area favorite son Wilson at the event. I'm not sure that the people involved with helping Wilson have known exactly where they might be and what they might be doing at the show, at least not in a way that they've been able to communicate it through press with any advance time.
 
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Dylan Horrocks Launching New Web Site

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I don't think he's done ridding it of all the bugs just yet, but Dylan Horrocks' paper publisher Drawn & Quarterly makes note of an ambitious on-line undertaking by one of my favorite cartoonists that will include serialized comics out the wazoo, so I guess I can, too. Dylan discusses it here. I'll run a graphic link to the site itself when it goes live, mostly because the color is lovely and I want to have some of it on this site.

In the meantime, you should enjoy this one-page cartoon spurred on by recent changes in New Zealand copyright law.
 
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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #24

* my Wizard-related source maintains their batting average as more details become available confirming early word of major cuts yesterday at the comics-related publishing and convention company. This here is the article where you get the corporate face on the moves.

* Heidi MacDonald brings word that Gemstone is closing its long-time Missouri office.

* a lot of fallout from yesterday's sudden-seeming announcement that today's Rocky Mountain News will be its last. Daryl Cagle has Ed Stein's statement and last cartoon here. 9News.com profiles Stein. E&P notes how the paper covered itself after the announcement. Mediabistro.com reminds that the publication had a books editor, and describes her farewell -- I can't imagine a lot of newspapers will have a books editor by the time they go if they close in the next 24 months.

* a few of you have been nice enough to e-mail me this basic primer on the free content/paid items model of Internet publishing. I would imagine some of the worries here is whether or not this is a sustainable model in tough times, what it means if sites are favored that are better at selling ancillary items, and whether or not offering stuff in this matter weakens the market long-term in a way that has an impact on what people are able to sell through that site. I'm not new media pundit, though.

* I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing when Immigration Services makes staff cuts for you.

* finally, I greatly enjoyed this article from The Stranger about the possibility that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer could continue as a on-line operation. I'd never thought about this kind of thing as a situation where Hearst is basically pumping terrified people almost all the way out of work for ideas it can implement without employing them. There's a bunch of good perspective-finding in the article like that.
 
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Go, Look: Mark Grambau’s Superhero Character Concept Posters

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Go, Look: The Comic Strips They’d Really Like To Do (To Disturb Us All)

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OTBP: Dinosaurs Fucking Robots

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Go, Look: Stento’s BD Portraits

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* so did E&P fire the person who used to write their Pulitzer predictions? Because this one seemed really lame to me, at least in the editorial cartoonist category. "Here are a bunch of ex-winners and a few other prominent people" is the kind of predicting I can do and be just as not-entertaining.

image* Carol Tyler is one of the world's greatest cartoonists and an interview about her forthcoming You'll Never Know is a fine way to spend some time on a Friday.

* the retailer and pundit Brian Hibbs takes one more shot at those Bookscan figures and why he argues what he argues.

* I'm not sure we're at the point where this kind of thing needs to be proposed as a brand-new idea, because the natural progression of the market has made this a reality for a lot of people. I'm also of the mind that there's something to the idea that you make something really cheap and some people stop valuing it. Still, I've always bemoaned 1) the general lack of cheap entry point comics for casual readers and 2) cheap used comics to help sustain a new reader coming to comics with their whole being the way that matinees, papering the house and discount tickets satiate new theater fans, or the way that used books make up the bulk of many passionate young readers' reading pile when they're in that crazy, consume-everything phase. A more reasonable general attitude towards all those older, not-very-collectible comics would be a place to start.

* it's not exactly a new idea that a generation of people that came up with those comics and a subsequent generation coming at them as object will value and find use for the energy and confidence of some very bad Rob Liefeld comics. I promise you that this occurred to a lot of people in comics in the 1990s, too.

* Gary Tyrrell at Fleen welcomes Scott McCloud back to regular blogging by showing appreciation for the subject of a recent post.

* finally, I was disappointed to find this feature article hanging solely on a quote that wasn't solicited for that article. General publishing issues surrounding the Kindle are fairly interesting, and while it doesn't hurt to think about the comics application of same right now -- I think, for example, the ability of the Kindle to download books as they become available could actually replicate New Comics Day in a way that's fun for its user -- I don't think that particular piece of technology gets to walk up the driveway and knock on the door until it's in color. Maybe the next iteration? Anyway, here's a nice round-up of general links regarding issues surrounding the device. I look forward to reading comics this way, and my primary concern is a pricing set-up that rewards creators, not one that protects the profit margins of the owners at the expense of creators or one that supports a specific industry infrastructure, which is what I suspect is going on whenever I hear prose people talk about devices like this one.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Jeff Smith!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Robert Moreau!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Annet Schaap!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Andy Kubert!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Norm Breyfogle!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Riccardo Burchielli!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Ozaki Minami!

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Quick hits
Craft
Ron Jeremy And The Cookie Monster

Exhibits/Events
Big Comic Book Auction
Go See Lean Moore and John Reppion
Go See Shaenon Garrity at WonderCon

History
Bad Decorating Ideas #58
Five Most Influential Comics
Mark Evanier On Kirby Cover Credit

Industry
Book Publishing Is Gross
Chip Bok On That Chimp Stuff
Get Poor Quick: Become A Writer

Interviews/Profiles
Inkstuds: CF
CBR: Tim Leong
CBR: Kevin O'Neill
Gear Live: Larry Latham
Newsarama: Mark Siegel
Newsarama: Jeremy Bastian
PhatCatz.org: Douglas Noble
Comic Book Talk Radio: Alex Robinson

Not Comics
Neil Gaiman In The Snow
Watchmen Link Round-Up
Chatting About Watchmen
Good News For Nina Paley

Publishing
Wizzywig In Wired
Secret Identities Project Profiled

Reviews
Sandy Bilus: Local
Alex Carr: Tom Strong
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Nick Smith: In The Flesh
Chris Mautner: Black Jack
Don MacPherson: Hulk #10
Kevin Church: Camelot Falls
Sean T. Collins: Owly Vol. 5
Andrew Wheeler: In The Flesh
Andy Frisk: Unknown Soldier #5
Sarah Morean: Comics On Fire #1
Greg McElhatton: Miss Don't Touch Me
Leroy Douresseaux: Captive Hearts Vol. 3
Andrew Wheeler: Chronicles of Some Made
Richard Bruton: Graphic Classics: Ambrose Bierce
Johanna Draper Carlson: PS238: Senseless Acts Of Tourism
 

 
February 26, 2009


Rocky Mountain News Shutting Down

There's so much trauma in the newspaper industry I'm frankly unaware if this is already common knowledge or not, but here's an official press on Scripps shutting down Colorado's oldest newspaper. I remember it was offered for sale late last year; I guess that didn't happen. I'm not up enough to know with 100 percent certainty, but I think the editorial cartoonist there is Ed Stein. Well, if he's still the editorial cartoonist there he will be for the next day and a half, anyway.
 
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Ted Rall’s Letter To The Des Moines Register On Behalf Of Brian Duffy

Ted Rall has sent the following letter to the Des Moines Register in his capacity as President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, on the matter of their art dispute with fired editorial cartoonist Brian Duffy.
Ms. Carolyn Washburn
Vice President and Editor
The Des Moines Register
P.O. Box 957
Des Moines IA 50306-0957

Dear Ms. Washburn:

As President of The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), I am writing to express the collective dismay of our membership at reports that you plan to dispose of Brian Duffy's original political cartoons without his consent.

While your newspaper may claim ownership of Brian's thousands of original cartoons he drew during 25 years as The Register's staff editorial cartoonist, there remain compelling questions of what is customary and what is right.

Although it used to be common for newspapers to keep their cartoonists' original artwork, that practice changed decades ago, and almost universally cartoonists now leave their newspapers with their artwork. These original drawings represent an artist's life work, and while newspapers pay for the its production, they do so in order to publish the work on its editorial page -- not to possess each piece as artwork.

Mr. Duffy is understandably attached to his quarter-century's worth of drawings, and may wish to archive some of them for his children. Others he may want to donate to charities or sell at galleries. Regardless, they offer him a potential source of revenue after retirement, and reasonable people would assume that he should have them.

Although your reported plan to donate Brian's cartoons to the University of Iowa is commendable, cynics may charge that your purpose is to cash in on Brian's firing by taking a tax write-off for a sizable donation.

By your own admission, Brian produced "very excellent work" for your organization. On behalf of his professional organization, I encourage you to reconsider your plans and return his artwork to him.

Very truly yours,
Ted Rall
President
Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
The site joins the AAEC in advocating for a solution to the impasse that satisfies Brian Duffy's concerns.
 
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More Major Firings At Wizard Today?

I've heard from a source who's batted 1.000 on these stories in the past that there may have been another round of firings at Wizard today. According to the source, current staff writers Rachel Molino, Kevin Mahadeo, David Paggi and Steve Sunu were let go. Also departing according to the source are Senior Vice President/Operations Joe Yanarella, Art Director Eric Goodman, and Operations Manager Jodie Westhoff.

If this turns out to be true, this would be the single-day biggest purge yet, hitting both the writing part of the magazine staff, paring it down to just a few editors now, and convention organizers (I think) Yanarella and Westhoff. If confirmed or denied, I'll report back here.

Wizard has purged a tremendous number of staff people over the last several months, reorganizing some departments and eliminating some positions outright. Their convention business has received increased competition from Reed Exhibitions -- they recently halved those offerings -- and magazines generally have suffered from a move of eyeballs to the Internet and a loss of advertising revenue.
 
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Go, Read: Big Bunch of Kramers Ergot Vol. 7 Interviews At Vice Magazine

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There are a bunch of good short interviews with Kramers Ergot Vol. 7 contributors over at Vice. I'm a little confused by the layout, or if there are more coming, but part one provides chats with Sammy Harkham, Rick Altergott, Daniel Clowes and Jaime Hernandez. Part two gives us Johnny Ryan, Matt Furie and Matthew Thurber. If you can't read them all for some strange reason: settle in on Clowes. It helps to read his KE7 contribution with the information he imparts here in mind, and we learn he's 60 pages into a graphic novel project for whom he doesn't have a publisher.
 
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Sine Acquitted On Hebdo Charges

The cartoonist and satirist Maurice "Sine" Sinet was acquitted Tuesday on charges that an article published Charlie Hebdo that targeted the son of the French president was anti-Semitic. The charges had been brought by that country's International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism. The controversy about the original public accusations and the item itself led to a split between Sinet and the magazine, with editor Philippe Val firing him from his column. The story raged through that country's media during the summer, drawing comparisons to the Dreyfus affair and seeing the magazine draw some criticism for not supporting Sinet having just been acquitted of a similar charge for imagery related to the Danish Cartoons Controversy.
 
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Alex Toth DoodleBook Not Worth $150

imageI don't think he intended to do so, and please realize this is me talking and not him, but the cartoonist and comics writer Jeff Parker provides a sterling example of how the policies of Diamond Comics Distributor, Inc. regarding moderate-selling books and comics seem to do harm to the industry entire. Parker's boutique publishing effort Dear John: The Alex Toth DoodleBook is a good book, in print, a perfect fit for comics shops that value carrying unique items that have perennial appeal that have an audience just not a mass mainstream audience, and it has enough readers to generate orders when Parker reaches out to retailers directly. However, it doesn't meet the minimums when placed in the Diamond catalog, with one end result being that people are paying exorbitant amounts on eBay thinking with some reason that the work is out of print. I don't understand how a system of minimums and levels and arena-combat fairness is better than a system that finds a way to value and support quality work like this over the long-term.
 
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Jason T. Miles Is Still At Angouleme

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in a photo-posting sense only, of course
 
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A Completely Superflous Final Reaction To The Use Of Bookscan Numbers

Because of Peggy Burns' mighty performance yesterday top of blog, I'm off the hook in terms of providing a resounding post on the matter of Brian Hibbs and his yearly analysis of the Bookscan numbers. Part of me is glad. I have to admit, I didn't understand half of what was argued in places like this long thread at The Beat. For some reason the arguments were funneled into a structure over how well the works of Los Bros Hernandez sell or whether or not the sales success of Identity Crisis is occasion for high-fives or uncomfortable shifting in our collective shoes. Or something. I'm not quite sure.

Several folks including Hibbs were nice enough to endorse my qualification that the Bookscan numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to join me in the rest of that qualification. There are grains of salt and there are times when grains won't do. I'd suggest that just as important as blanket skepticism regarding such numbers is that we realize the more specific the uses we find for such numbers, the more we need to regard them with suspicion. Inaccuracy compounds inaccuracy. Those numbers may taste a bit dodgy a la carte, but toss a bunch of them as a salad and someone's going to the hospital.

imageThe fact that Bookscan reports 719 sell-through from its accounts on Love and Rockets New Stories Vol. 1 while Fantagraphics put 5500 into the total market is something I find interesting not as a measure of sell-through, or L&R's general appeal or the wisdom of the recent format switch. We'll get a much better number for that eventually. I see 719 not so much as a low number -- and it is -- but as a bad number. Non-returnability and the emphasis on initial orders makes Direct Market estimation a much, much firmer and more useful number. Even it's not a perfect one: a lot of royalty statements don't line up with the order numbers in that realm, too. But in contrast to the DM's sometimes suspicious figures, the relative labyrinth of bookstores sales -- the combination of buy-ins and non-returnables and returnables and a longer sales window and warehousing and library sales and stores that don't report -- means that the Bookscan figures should be trusted to carry much, much less.

What do we know for sure? Next to nothing. Heck, maybe Fantagraphics is going to see 80 percent returns on L&RNS Vol. 1. I guess that could happen. My hunch, and you don't have to agree with me, is that when all is said and done and the sales cycle themselves out it's way more likely they'll end up with a figure closer to the 3850 -- a figure they've projected from the vantage point of seven years' experience doing this now with almost no margin for serious error -- than they will to 719. These additional sales will come from a combination of continued Bookscan-reporting bookstore sales, library sales, sales through the non-reporters, sales in the form of non-returnable purchases apparently made by Amazon.com that they'll warehouse while reporting sell-through to Bookscan, sales when volume two comes out, and so on. If I'm wrong, I'll get to write that story, I guess. But I don't think I will be.

Here's the thing, though: even if they don't get near 3850, anywhere they end up between 719 and 3850 remains an indictment of the Bookscan number's utility as a measurable, manipulable statistic. I don't care if a number is 75 percent off or 519 percent off. I don't want to play with it, and neither should you.

Further, let's get one thing clear: there's no continuity and no proportionality between the various Bookscan numbers. This should be obvious in that it's a number we can't predict and a number that is bound to change over time. Just the fact that a number for a book that came out in January is going to be different than for the same book had it come out in November should discredit these numbers' use. It is also to my information-gathering capability the experience of multiple publishers offering multiple titles over multiple years that the Bookscan numbers are all over the place in terms of their ability to predict the final sales figure. Some Bookscan numbers are close to the final result, many aren't, and some are very far away.

So: if such numbers are to be used for rough approximates -- say, "Random House seems to be doing well by DC" -- that doesn't mean they should be manipulated against one another. If someone insists they be manipulated against one another, that's your choice, I guess, but manipulating them against a set of numbers from the DM derived in a completely different manner with different methods, that would seem to be really, really wrong. Toss in the utilization of colloquial constructions -- all the stuff about "one store of this type sold the same as seven percent of all the bookstores in North America" and I simply don't know how anyone can argue that's useful or fair or, really, not outright laughable.

The funny/sad thing about this I'm not sure why anyone wants to argue DMs vs. Bookstores at all. Not right now. It would be awesome if the Direct Market were still moving art and indy-comics the way it did when you could push 9000 copies of Dog Boy through a nation of carry-everything stores. That Direct Market is gone. Recent news seems to indicate a harsher market right now for anything not a Brian Bendis-written team book or without Batman kicking the bucket or lacking the President on the cover than that which existed just six months ago. Twenty years ago is a different world.

Right here, right now, additional markets aren't just desirable, they're necessary. For many people the ability to operate in multiple markets is the difference between publishing and not publishing, and has been for several years now. For some folks, every single market of any value is the difference between making a modest living and making no living at all. For certain companies and titles it's the difference between existence and extinction.

I suppose it could be upsetting if you were a comic shop owner to hear some goofy blogger or a dozen of 'em declare Khrushchev-style that any money spent on promoting to comics shops is money down the toilet or simply trumpeting that the bookstore is clearly the future. I'm not sure people do that all too frequently anymore, but the memory of such proclamations might linger. At the same time, you don't re-assert the truth by bending it. Advocacy shouldn't have to rely on running something else down. The bottom line here is no one in a position of any importance at any company has to my knowledge ever seriously dismissed the still-crucial Direct Market as a place to sell comics. Those same people, these very good people, they also don't get to decide how easy it is to participate in the additional markets they need to pursue to stay alive. I suspect a long and detailed argument over who places what emphasis on what market and who feels bullish about what avenue for sales and who can score points on whom on a comments thread is a luxury that slipped out the side door months ago. We need all the markets right now. We need all our attention facing forward.

I realize that I'm writing for myself at this point, and thank you for indulging me to any extent you have
 
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Go, Look: Steve Canyon Dailies

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not only is this is this a repeat posting at the ASIFA-Hollywood site, but I think I ran a link to it the first time it appeared with exactly this daily. they remain ridiculously handsome-looking
 
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Go, Look: Jerry Grandenetti Site

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Go, Look: Morgan Navarro’s Blog

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Go, Look: Andre Dezelak

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a story up that there will only be one Alliance-Diamond Summit this year, the one held in conjunction with Baltimore Comic-Con October 11-13. There had traditionally been a summit in Fort Wayne, near the Alliance Game Distributors warehouse there. I'm very fond of Fort Wayne, but it's one of those towns that has to be the there in that area of the country because there's nothing else there, if you know what I mean. Grass Green lived there, I remember that.

image* the always-excellent Jog goes story-by-story on the new Greg Sadowski-edited Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941. That's a fascinating book. I'm already annoying people by repeating the crazier bit of dialogue in the panel reproduced here, but really something must be done.

* this video of cartoonists and cartoon-related stuff on an episode of Murder, She Wrote made me laugh.

* Michael Cavna calls out Sean Delonas, and good for him in doing so.

* the well-known science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer passed away recently. He gets credit not just for a raft-load of entertaining books with reach into general retail but one of the first major pieces of retroactive world-building, a template placed upon the great pulp literature offerings of the 20th Century that makes all the big characters related. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to mention that, but every so often you run across one of these ideas in fiction that shaped the way people look at the big comics companies' mega-storylines, such as the worlds within worlds idea and this one.

* male early twenty-something internship applications up 5000 percent at Drawn and Quarterly today.

* here's a story explaining the amount of time people spend at the top 30 newspaper web sites. Not only am I not certain what this mean, it seems as if the people that put together the information aren't quite sure what it means. It does seem to generally suggest that getting people to spend the amount of time on a web site where they'd be paying for content is going to be quite the struggle -- you don't really think of spending money on a site when you spend two minutes a day there.

* finally, people keep e-mailing me links to this post that apparently offers details on the personnel side of the recent Viz Media restructuring.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Michel Gaudelette!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Nico Oeloff!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Ric Estrada!

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Happy 56th Birthday, David Boswell!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Karen Berger!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Steve Bell!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Yu Shi-jin!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Jean Teule!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Brian Hibbs At WonderCon

History
That's Some Suit
Everybody Bring Out Your '80s Articles
Seriously, Everybody Bring Out Your '80s Articles

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Ivan Brandon
Newsarama: Dan DiDio
Wizard: Jimmy Palmiotti
Newsarama: Ron Garney
Graphic Novel Reporter: Alan Davis

Not Comics
Why Aren't We Updating Comixpedia?
Richard Thompson Goes To Mardi Gras (Sort Of)

Publishing
She Will Miss Comic Foundry
Chris Ware Made A Smaller Book
Tim Hodler Doesn't Read Comics Anymore

Reviews
Brian Heater: Boody
Charles Hatfield: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Sean T. Collins: Owly Vol. 4
Matthew Brady: Monster Vol. 10
Henry Chamberlain: Tragic Relief
Leroy Douresseaux: Love Training
Brian Heater: Little Nothings Vol. 2
Tim Callahan: The Drifting Classroom
Brian Cronin: 20th Century Boys Vol. 1
 

 
February 25, 2009


Guest Editorial: Peggy Burns On Those Bookscan Numbers; What They’re Good For And What They’re Not

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I have yet responded to the extended conversation surrounding the year-end Bookscan sales figures because I've been gathering information and refining my arguments. It's also been extremely difficult for me to figure out just what the hell people are saying. Anyway, one of the persons from whom I've gathered information is Drawn and Quarterly's Peggy Burns, who went above and beyond any call of duty to turn in a full-bore article on the matter that I'm honored to present here. I'll be back tomorrow with some words of my own. -- Tom Spurgeon

On Bookscan
By Peggy Burns

imagePerhaps I'm overly sensitive, but when I read Brian Hibb's annual Bookscan editorials, there always seems to be a desperate need to point out how "art comics" do not sell (Dirk Deppey did a a good job of pointing this out on Monday.) Last year, Brian said he was shocked to see that Shortcomings only sold 5000, which is downright laughable from a publisher's point of view, going so far as to say he though this was a "poor" performance. Mind you, this was 5000 in three months (release date: October 2007), a number any publisher of books or comics would be happy with. This year, he points out that Shortcomings sold another 4000 in 2008, but is quick to point out that Tomine's other books did not rank (the short story collections that are five years and older), a critique he does not bestow upon Bechdel, Spiegelman, Satrapi or anyone else. Basically if you publish single-authored comics -- and especially if you are Adrian Tomine -- you don't sell according to Brian, not even with your hometown retailer. How's that for team comics? How's that for supporting a local artist? Why does Brian think this? I don't know. I am guessing that Brian assumes -- incorrectly -- that comics publishers such as D+Q and Fantagraphics have dismissed the comic market, which couldn't be further from the truth. We have never dismissed the direct market. I will, however, dismiss people who repeatedly go out of their way to try and say our books do not sell.

imageHigh and low Bookscan numbers are hard to dispute -- 13,000 copies in Bookscan means that a book was certainly a strong seller and 164 means it was a poor seller. Bookscan does point out when a book has done well. Very low Bookscan numbers also point out if a book didn't penetrate. Of course, we're very pleased with the relatively high Bookscan numbers for Lynda Barry and Adrian Tomine. But everything in between high and low is a very large, grey area. Take for instance one of our bestselling titles: Moomin The Complete Tove Jansson Book One. Since its publication almost two and a half years ago (release date: November 2006), it has sold through approximately 6700 copies according to Bookscan, but our distributor FSG has shipped over 20,000; we have shipped over 4000 in the comic market; and our Canadian and UK distributors shipped 13,000 -- approximate total 38,000. Trust me when I say we are happy with every single copy sold in any and every market. And we do not care if Bookscan does not come close to indicating the grand total.

imageBookscan doesn't provide an accurate report, but it can be helpful in gauging where our sales lie in relation to other publishers. I use it the same way I use an Amazon ranking -- very loosely. I admit to logging in every Wednesday to see our previous week's numbers. I don't look to see how our books are performing against Naruto or Wimpy Kid, I look to see how our books perform among our distributor FSG's titles, and I look to see how our books perform compared to our closest publishing peer, McSweeneys, and to make sure our books perform as well as the majority of Pantheon's graphic novels (Maus and Persepolis are in their own league, of course.) When I see that Bookscan says that Lynda Barry's What It Is has comparable numbers to Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends for McSweeneys, I am happy. When I do look to see how D+Q titles are performing in the context of comics, I only view the hardcover graphic novel charts (front list -- all from the past 12 months) or back list (everything before the past 12 months), as these are the comics with which we have most in common, not manga mass market paperbacks (with all due respect to the numbers that mass market manga sells.) This is also similar to how the NY Times sorts their list, which is why you don't see The Bible at the top of every chart. Since June 2008, What It Is has been on Bookscan's bestselling frontlist graphic novel in hardcover (meaning a ranking of all hardcovers released in 2008) in Bookscan every week since its release.

Unfortunately for Brian, the truth is that he will never be able to get the full picture of how and where books sell just from Bookscan. Likewise, when I look at Bookscan and see that Hibbs' own book, 2003's Tilting at the Windmills: A Guide Towards Ethical and Successful Comics Retailing (Release Date April 2003) only sold 164 copies, I'm not sitting here wondering how many shipped through Diamond and how am I going write a manifesto to declare this. I'll never know. I do hope, however, that volume two of Tilting at the Windmills: A Guide Towards Ethical and Successful Comics Retailing (Release Date March 2009) has a chapter on public relations and etiquette.

In short, Brian stop hatin' on "art comics!" And stop using Bookscan as some sort of blind for this hatred. It's petty and takes away from any overall usefulness of your report.

*****

* from What It Is
* Peggy Burns illustration by Adrian Tomine
* Moomin Volume One
* Shortcomings

*****
*****
 
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OTBP: New Dave Kiersh Book

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Hearst Threatens Second Newspaper: 144-Year-Old San Francisco Chronicle

One of the nation's dozen signature newspapers and a friend to the comics art form the San Francisco Chronicle may be closed down if short-term cuts don't bring the publication's losses under greater control. If someone would like to recommend a second sentence that somehow mitigates the blunt depression caused by the first, I'd be happy to hear it.
 
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Scott McCloud.com Re-Launches

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The cartoonist Scott McCloud has re-launched his web site, one of the foundational stops for on-line exploration of comics on the Internet. It includes his on-line comics effort in addition to what he promises will be more blogging. The comics corner of Internet is better when McCloud is tooling around under its hood, so this is good to here.
 
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Seven Reasons Marvel Should Make A Dr. Strange Movie Sooner Rather Than Later

By Tom Spurgeon
For Comics Blogger Prime NeilAlien On The Occasion Of What I Think Is His 9th Blogiversary


image1. He's a little bit older.
Unless you are dim, unimaginative or somehow obsessed with youth over all reason, Dr. Strange not only can be played by someone aged 35 up to about his early 50s, he should be played by someone in that age range. As was the case with Iron Man, this is an advantage rather than a detriment because most of the really effective leading men are in this age range rather than the 24 to 35 grouping. These actors hold the screen more effectively. A reason I think Iron Man worked well is that Robert Downey Jr. was familiar to audiences but not overly so, and had a well-cultivated persona that he knew how to utilize to best effect. Good actor, too. I think I know who they should pick -- there's an A-list actor that if not this age is getting near it that is a solid actor and would be believable playing someone that enjoyed a glamorous early life and has now struggled to a position of stature and responsibility. But I'm reluctant to play fantasy casting agent. The fact is a lot of actors could dig into this part.

2. He has a top five comic book origin.
I think Dr. Strange's comic book origin is one of the great ones, and there aren't a lot of great ones. I mean the original origin, of course. The recent reboot is, frankly, shit-stupid. Dr. Strange's story provides a striking contrast to many comic book origins in that as the tale of a successful surgeon that loses the use of his hands, it's about an adult man struggling to find redemption rather than a young man discovering his place in the world or making good on the opportunities provided him. Stephen Strange isn't pre-ordained, he's not The One, he's not even embraced as a worthy or likely candidate when he first approaches the Ancient One. It's only through a virtuous choice that he gains the right to earn the mantle he now holds. That's a nice message. It's not "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" but "Assuming Responsibility May Bring The Opportunity For Great Power."

3. He offers a romantic view of New York City.
An element that connects Dr. Strange to Superman and Spider-Man that rarely gets explored in his comic book is the fact that the protector of the universe chooses to live in a bad-ass looking brownstone in the middle of New York City. His home is what little kids between the coasts imagine amazing-looking city buildings to be: impressive, old, stuffed with secrets. You'd want to see Dr. Strange's reality show. You know he has deeply fascinating lunches in mens' clubs you've never even heard of. You know he goes to the theater -- he was probably drawn by Hirschfeld. You know he knows the name of his grocers and spice procurers and the people that make his coffee. You know he throws amazing parties, and is invited to same -- when the superheroes have parties you know everyone's way more psyched about them than Dr. Strange is. How is this not totally appealing?

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4. He offers the opportunity for amazing, jaw-dropping special effects.
A spirit form, the Mindless Ones, the levitating cloak, the all-seeing eye and orb of Agamatto, those thick and wonderful ribbons of power: this stuff would look amazing on a motion picture screen.

image5. He has a small but visually interesting rogue's gallery.
Dormmamu, Baron Mordo and Nightmare all have great looks to them. I think Baron Mordo is the most underrated villain in the Marvel stable. Who can't relate to the absolute stomach-churn that would be the guy who was better than you at everything in school and could have had your job and your life coming back to screw with you at every opportunity? He's Draco Malfoy played by Daniel Craig. Mordo's an interesting guy character-wise, too, the Sonny Liston of the Marvel Universe: a flawed man with elements of greatness forced into becoming a supporting player in the story of a great man with flaws. Plus the magic makes him a monster heel. Great character.

6. He has cool friends.
Although they've been hit and miss as portrayed in the comics themselves, stripped to their core ideas The Ancient One, Clea and Wong are the kinds of characters that a movie would very much serve. Clea has that weird hair thing going on which a film could safely lose, but who doesn't like the Princess From Another World concept? The sudden intimacy caused by someone sweeping into your life from another place and stopping you dead in your tracks would be particularly devastating for someone like Dr. Strange the way it is for many successful men who build their life around their vocational success. There's a great piece of potential tension between the Ancient One and Dr. Strange that comics' rigid obsession with hyper-competent heroes can't really broach: that the Sorcerer Supreme is a relative latecomer to the process of succession, the symbol of the Ancient One's period of decline rather than a favorite son of the great man's prime, and what that means in terms of his readiness and training and the confidence his allies place in him. Wong could be that plot element's living symbol -- an element of continuity, someone on whom Strange is expected to lean. There are all sorts of nice little corners to explore here that a film's relative fresh start and visual shorthand could enable.

7. He's a king, not a warrior.
I like the idea of a hero that protects things, protects us, safeguards our universe, as opposed to one that fights people with whom he's personally involved out of some shared psychoses or even one that saves us when we manage to get into trouble. Dr. Strange represents a different dynamic than the usual superhero noise and nonsense and one that I think it's a profile folks might find appealing as a change of pace from a hero that fights his best friend's dad or his business partner or whatever. It's a very adult model of being a hero, and while it never seems to work out in the comics, over the shorter narrative arc provided by a film or series of films I think it could be quite affecting.

Happy Bloggy Day, NeilAlien!

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

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Go, Look: Albo Helm

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Go, Look: Random Horror Comics

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Go, Look: Three By Dustin Harbin

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Go, Look: On Tuesday

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I greatly enjoyed this Alan Moore interview at Wired that's been posted everywhere by now. Moore sounds like a cranky, opinionated, working artist in the afternoon of his career, which is exactly how he should sound. Sean T. Collins didn't like the film stuff.

image* the Oregonian is apparently revamping its comics page. What I like about it is that the editor reserves the right to make some decisions about the comics page his own self. I hope that either the editor or the good readers of that fine publication consider Cul De Sac as one of the keepers.

* a manga and anime pirate site goes legit.

* the writer Kevin Church asks if even the successful media reach-out events really make a major difference to the retailer's bottom line, or if they're limited to the purchase itself. Kevin makes it sound much less snotty and more open-minded than I just did.

* I'm not sure if I know everything Daryl Cagle is getting at here, but I really like the phrase "Since this toilet looks like such an obvious spot for Obama..."

* finally, it probably wouldn't be the best idea, but I sure wouldn't mind if the major company blogs turned into photo-pornish arrays of forthcoming books. I really wouldn't.
 
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Happy 80th Birthday, Arnold Roth!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Tom Neely!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Jess Jodloman!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Rick Geary!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Marguerita!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Colin Whittock!

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Quick hits
Craft
Heroic Woman Sketch
Sean Phillips Thumbnails

Exhibits/Events
Gerry Alanguilan on Komikero Meeting

History
Wow
This Way Lies Madness 01
This Way Lies Madness 02
Sharing Likes With Eli Kochalka
Watchmen Solicitation Descriptions

Industry
Vagueness At Viz

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Matt Fraction
Wired: Dave Gibbons
Newsarama: Don Wood
Daily Cross Hatch: Rob Liefeld
Newsarama: Charles P. Wilson

Not Comics
Superboy Will Be 40
Mine Goes On A Postcard
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Fans
Alan Moore Doesn't Know The Score
Which Two-Syllable Media Personality Got Dumped?

Publishing
Translate These, Please
Happy Blogadealio, Forbidden Planet

Reviews
Chris Mautner: Various
Xerexes Xaviar: Various
Charles Tan: Pluto Vol. 1
Rob Vollmar: Pluto Vol. 1
Dick Hyacinth: Black Hole
Greg McElhatton: Bad Dog #1
Richard Pachter: Tamara Drewe
Ed Sizemore: Mechademia Vol. 3
Noah Berlatsky: Nana Vols. 13-14
Leroy Douresseaux: Bleach Vol. 26
Shaun Huston: Breakfast Before Noon
Charles Yoakum: Saga Of The Swamp Thing
 

 
February 24, 2009


I’m Tempted To Just Play Hooky

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I'm trying to figure out a proper comparison to having this giant, lovely, complete Humbug drop and I'm coming up short. It's sort of like when Orchises Press was going to publish Hapworth 16, 1924 in that you could read the work if you wanted but it was slightly difficult, but sort of not in that the quality of the printing matters more with comics than prose. I don't know... getting Masters of Atlantis back in print? Having the original Smile come out? I'm stumped, but it's a very happy stumped.
 
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Rupert Murdoch Apologizes For Sean Delonas’ NY Post Chimp Cartoon

Said apology apparently took place in the Post, and saw the Media Overlord both apologize for the offense and assure people that there was no intention to cause that offense. The same media analysis also reports Delonas' own reaction to CNN.

All along I've just thought it's a bad cartoon. Given Delonas' antagonistic history with GLAAD, I think it's understandable that people questioned whether he was tweaking people to get some extra juice from the piece -- but in the end, you can't see into someone's motivations and you have to accept the word of the Post people that this was an honest attempt to say that the Stimulus Bill was so bad chimps wrote it. That doesn't mean the decision to run it speaks well of the collective news judgment of those involved. I mean, 14-year-old me would have seen this and gone "holy crap" so it's hard to imagine a bunch of adults working within the context of a specific community not seeing it.

And you know, once this kind of thing happens, I have little patience for those who fume that their work is interpreted a certain way -- seriously, boo hoo. You don't have to give up any rhetorical device you want to use, you can have the President or something related in some tangential fashion to the president be a monkey-tailed rapper criminal in a slave collar and Westergaardian bomb-turban and be perfectly within your rights to do so, but some folks aren't going to like it, and it's on anyone working right now to assume ownership over their visual vocabulary. On those occasions something slips away from you or you're simply unaware of a certain metaphor and a misunderstanding or bad cartoon or just unfortunate visual metaphor results, an honest apology doesn't seem to me the worst thing to have to offer up, or at least the refusal of an apology if you think you'd do it again and have no regrets. A tiny bit of blowback from years of horrifying racism in art and opinion-making doesn't seem like the worst thing to have to endure -- better that than to have been on the other end of it.

I have to imagine most outcomes are better than having Rupert Murdoch say sorry for you.
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Brian Duffy To Fight Des Moines Register Over His Editorial Cartoons

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I liked the Editor & Publisher write-up the best of what I've read about fired editorial cartoonist Brian Duffy preparing to go to battle with former employer the Des Moines Register over his body of work while at the paper. Duffy believes he holds a joint copyright; the Register seems to feel it owns staff work it paid for. Apparently, the paper wants to donate Duffy's originals to the University of Iowa, and it seems like Duffy has less a problem with the destination than the mechanism by which they arrive there.
 
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Viz Media Joins Other, Similar Companies In Early Recession Restructuring

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This is fairly straightforward: Viz Media will lay some people off to better meet the expectations of the financial forecasts as North America and, well, the world moves deeper into the current recession. This makes them I think the third top ten comics company to formally announce such moves. VP and Shonen Jump Editor-In-Chief Marc Weidenbaum's departure has been confirmed but it's unclear if it's part of this initiative or something instigated by Weidenbaum or neither or both. Given the variety of revenue streams available to the company, the always-changing likelihood which streams will become a priority and the relative age of many of its best licenses in terms of being introduced to the market, these kind of moves actually make more sense to me than they do at some major corporations, where cutting payroll seems to be more of a book-balancing move. Not that my opinion on such matters holds all that much weight, really.
 
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Kodansha Reports Largest Annual Loss

News that Kodansha has posted record-level losses would be noteworthy just on their own given the number of comics the world publishing giant produces. It's also pay attention to how the recession has not only had an effect on sales but on advertising, the same as with North American publications, and that this could be why there's been no further news of the Kodansha USA initiative.
 
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Go, Look: Two By Joe Sinnott

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Go, Look: Gluyas Williams Cartoons

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Go, Look: Jeremy Eaton Panels

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Go, Look: Weird Terror #8

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posted 6:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the numbers guru and industry analyst John Jackson Miller notes that the effects of readership migration on-line are mitigated in part by the fact that the suppliers have a chance to control some of that migration. In other words, losing 10 percent of your readership to bootlegs isn't the same as losing 10 percent of your readership to a program you've cobbled together with Amazon.com's Kindle reader.

image* missed it: the New York Times censors a cartoon. It seems to me like something that was done in the editorial process, because otherwise it's hard to believe that someone would buy a cartoon with the idea of changing it like was done with this one. Additionally, something seems odd and not quite right about this story.

* not comics: this is intensely stupid. Not everything is snark and it won't go away just because you fume and stamp your feet.

* this is the most forthright discussion I've seen yet from one of the major mainstream comics heavies on the subject of comics pricing. It's not very convincing. Pricing strategies are pricing strategies, not declarations of the creators' value. Joe Quesada hints that the money will be shared rather than simply going into Marvel's pockets. I guess that would be true of the people that get paid according to percentage, but if there really ends up being more money going to creators out of this, I hope someone will let me know as that happens. I'm skeptical that a steep increase is little more than a money grab, and that its success will depend on the hardcore fan continuing to buy the same number of comics and/or the companies that do it being able to hide any bleed on sales that results. Why companies insist on putting pressure on the system during a time of economic hardship is anyone's guess, but the hardcore fan is one sturdy customer, that's for sure.

* after-hours at WonderCon.

* finally, is it my imagination, or is this a pathetic list and not just for the stunt part at the end?
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, JR Williams!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Bryan Talbot!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Mazan!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Cristina Breccia!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Francois Dimberton!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Greg LaRocque!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Jim Borgman!

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Quick hits
Craft
Aw, Pretty
D'Israeli On Craft
Mark Anderson Talks Gag Cartoons

Exhibits/Events
Charlie Orr At Angouleme
Call For Superhero Papers
Disappearing Ink Exhibit In Florida
Remember Michael Jantze's Master Class

History
Neil Gaiman On Watchmen
Watchmen Better Serialized?
Boston Is A Land Of Wonders
The Gifts That Keep On Giving
Please Let It Be Howard The Duck
Five Ways Watchmen Something Or Other

Industry
Comics Page Changes

Interviews/Profiles
Pop: Tom Scioli
Pop: Matthew J. Pustz
ComicMix: Fred Van Lente
Digital Strips: Tom Dell'Aringa

Not Comics
I'd See That Play
Evan Dorkin Hates Billy Joel
Peter David Watches The Oscars
Book Publishing: Still Sort Of Gross

Publishing
Funny Manga
Just Out From Fantagraphics
This Is Super-Pretty Looking
Enough With The Obama Already
Self-Contained Superhero Books

Reviews
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Zak Edwards: Four Eyes #2
J. Caleb Mozzocco: The Lagoon
Richard Bruton: Dragon Heir Vol. 1
Nina Stone: The Great Unknown #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Hellblazer #245
Johanna Draper Carlson: Supermen!
Zak Edwards: The Great Unknown #1
Patrick Berube: Une Piquante Petite Brunette
Domingos Isabelinho: The Book Of Leviathan
Leroy Douresseaux: Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei
 

 
February 23, 2009


Any Hardcore Marvelites Out There?

I'd love to run a couple of things past a hardcore Marvelite out there -- I haven't gone swimming in the choppy waters of Marvel history since 2003, and if I can exchange e-mails with someone, say someone who knows who Al Landau is, that would be fantastic. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
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Pat Bagley Wins 2009 Herblock Prize

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Pat Bagley will receive a $15,000 after-taxes prize and a silver trophy as the 2009 Herblock Prize winner for editorial cartooning. The prize will be given to Bagley at a ceremony at the Library of Congress on April 2. Bagley has been cartooning since 1977 and has been at the Salt Lake Tribune since the mid-1980s. He is syndicated worldwide.
 
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Latest On The Great S Clay Wilson Including News Of A Forthcoming Benefit

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You should read all of Bob Levin's update. Hopefully, you'll consider donating to the cause and/or attending this Friday's benefit in the cartoonist's honor.
 
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* a Tunisian man facing deportation for his part in plotting to assassinate the Danish Cartoons Controversy cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and his wife appears to be chafing under the restrictions placed on his stay in Denmark.

* I'd never heard the Chip Bok story at the bottom of this article.

* ditto the lengthy Ezra Levant sort-of speech at the bottom of this article.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Cold Heat On-Line

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Frank Santoro provides details: "Issues 1-4 now online. Issue 5 will be online in March. Issue 6 in April, etc, etc. Doing print on demand double issues of 5 and 6 together and then 7 and 8 together and then 9 and 10. Those will be available to buy on the site."
 
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Upate On The Delonas Chimp Cartoon

* the NAACP has called on the dismissal of Sean Delonas and his editor from the pages of the New York Post for the publication of a cartoon many believed either directly compared or riffed on the likelihood of comparison between President Obama and a chimpanzee killed in a hail of gunfire. Al Sharpton has called for a city council review.

* I'm not sure I understand the tone of Daryl Cagle's post about a cartoon over which he was castigated on racial grounds a while back. I'm detecting an undercurrent of resentment -- although granted, I could be wrong. While the people that throw stuff like that into people's faces as grist for whatever manufactured political controversy of the day or as absolute proof of the state of someone's heart are annoying as all crap and even potentially dangerous, I would also imagine that finding out about obscure racist comparisons is a good thing so that you can avoid them in the future or at least head into the next cartoon with greater ownership over what you're saying. I don't think anyone on planet Earth has conflated this cartoon or the blue-lips cartoons with what they feel Sean Delonas may have been doing with the chimp cartoon. I was accused by readers of being racist, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic in the course of doing a daily comic strip, and while the certainty that I was doing something awful like that on purpose was kind of distressing, it was on balance good to hear from some of those people so I could refine what I was saying away from an unconscious slip into insult.

* wait, this article actually does make a comparison between the obscurities and Delonas, if only by proximity. I think that's unfortunate. They should remain separate, because I think they're processed in separate ways. I would also reject the notion floated there that no one can criticize the president without being accused of depicting him in a racist fashion -- I suppose a certain hardcore constituency is going to suggest that any criticism is based on racism the same way that hardcore people on the other side of the political spectrum suggested that criticism was un-American, but that seems a completely different issue than the trickiness of visual iconography. Anyone that thought Mike Lester's Jonestown cartoon was racist I'd greatly suspect of being an idiot, although I didn't like that cartoon.
 
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For No Particular Reason, Here Are Scans Of Complete Peanuts Covers

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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #23

* two article linked-to elsewhere that would seem to fall under this heading as well: Paul Levitz on the economy's effect on comics, a comics shop closes in Chillicothe.

* an article in Crain's Cleveland Business notes that the metropolitan daily Cleveland Plain-Dealer, while still operating in the black, is shifting emphasis towards local news in response to the ongoing financial crunch hitting that business.

* over at Reason, Matt Welch continues to beat on many newspaper folks' take on the cause of the current crisis, and the increasing call for some sort of public solution to the private quandary.

* the writer Chris Mautner talks about the previously announced cancellation of his videogames/comics column in the Patriot-News in terms of general and largely indirect economic pressures.

* this Kate Dacey post at Precocious Curmudgeon suggests that Viz might be encouraged to bundle together more titles into one-volume formats, as comics stores and bookstores move away from being able to rack entire series.

* Steve Greenberg makes the case for editorial cartoonists as a method for offering unique content in very strong words.

* this article in the Fresno Bee talks about some of the pressures facing the comic market, with a focus on Top Cow's efforts to reach out to stores this year, including a pledge to keep their books under $3.
 
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Not Comics: Smiley Face History

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Go, Look: Hirschel’s Hair

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Go, Look: Richard Thompson’s Oscars

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Go, Look: Blackhawk #71

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* another round of comics are being sold from the late Dave Cockrum's private collection to benefit the family.

* Jevon Sawyer, the third of three men accused of wrongdoing in the shooting of retailer David Pirkola, has been arraigned on formal charges and is headed towards a formal trial. Marvin Jones is expected to go to trial next month. The first suspect entered into a plea agreement in exchange for testimony. Pirkola was shot last April. Sawyer avoided arrest longer than the other two suspects.

image* the retailer and prominent blogger Mike Sterling notes the third annual Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk day, designed to bring attention to a notoriously unfinished mini-series with writing from one of the folks behind Lost. It looks like there will be an attempt made to get that particular series done. It's really hard to measure just what it is companies lose when they publish in an irresponsible way -- like I'm pretty sure you can conclude was going on here. The new books should sell just fine, but it's hard to measure the kind of unpleasant experiences that cause people to lose passion for a certain way of buying comics, and fans not getting the comics they feel they've been told they get would seem to be something that would diminish folks' passion.

* the prolific webcomics commentator Gary Tyrrell notes a new webcomics revenue model that may not be so new after all.

* this two-part interview (Watchmen, Economy) with DC's Paul Levitz is all over the place but not in the pejorative sense one usually describes someone whose opinion are scattered about. Levitz just seems to have opinions that come at various issues of the day from some very different places than a lot of people. There are some unanswered questions that weigh heavily on the rest of it, particularly when it comes to Diamond.

* not comics: latest Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death preview.

* finally, I can't decide if I like or hate this animated comic. Although I was impressed when I went to the site through the link that it was an animated comic, not simply a piece of animation. You'll see what I mean.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Tim O’Shea!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Craig Yoe!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Shawn Cheng!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Doug Moench!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Eric Maltaite!

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Greg McElhatton: Garfield Minus Garfield
Marc-Oliver Frisch: The Great Unknown #1
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Brian Cronin: Super Human Resources #1-4
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Chris Bolton: The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For
Hervé St-Louis: Batman and the Outsiders Special #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Shojo Beat's Manga Artist Academy
 

 
February 22, 2009


Reading The Watchmen: 10+ Entrance Points Into The Esteemed Graphic Novel

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By Tom Spurgeon

I have almost no interest in the Watchmen movie coming out a couple of weekends from now. I'm not flush with anticipation for it, nor am I red-faced in my adamant refusal to have anything to do with it. It feels like another movie to me. I hope it's good, because it's better for there to be good movies than bad movies and I like the source material. But if it's bad, I hope that it's at least bad in an interesting fashion because I prefer that to boring-bad. I have no personal stake in its success or failure, and barring your taking a stand on objections to the movie made public by writer Alan Moore, you probably shouldn't, either.

Strangely, Watchmen is the book that taught me as a teenager not to get wrapped up in the success or failure of someone else's work. By far the most of any work in any form I've ever recommended to other people, Watchmen is the book that's come back to me with a "this was really, really stupid" or some curse-filled approximation thereof. As a 17-year-old with insecurities big enough to keep at least two local psychologists in steak and sports cars, this reaction initially took me back. However, I was also smart enough to know Watchmen had value according to how I decided things had value, and it only took a few seconds to realize that whether or not someone else appreciated something I did wasn't a vote on its overall worth, let alone mine.

So the movie? I don't know. What I do know is that Watchmen is a fine, fine comics work and that a lot of people have been or are going to be reading it or re-reading it, and that's a great thing. I think everyone should discover what a great book means for themselves, and I won't bore you with one of my old reviews of the work in terms of giving you my own adaptation. What I'd like to do instead is briefly mention some of the ways I've entered into the work and the way some people have told me they've engaged Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' comic book novel, in the hopes that this might spur you to some discovery of your own. I welcome anyone who has a similar pathway into Watchmen to write in so I can include that strategy below these.

1. As A Murder Mystery
This may sound silly to those of you who've read the work before, because at a point far before its end Watchmen very much stops being a murder mystery. It ends those elements of the overall plot in a way that doesn't leave you with a lot of pleasant memories for the way those elements came together, either -- it's cast aside, rather than subsumed into the larger plot. However, I still think this may be the most effective way to describe the work to people coming into it, though, because it allows a blank slate and an open mind upon which Moore and Gibbons can imprint their larger world and cast of characters. Also, as usual, Moore is clever enough that just about any idea or framework introduced is going to have resonance, even one that's largely abandoned like this one. By the end of Watchmen, we've switched one mystery for another. In the realm of the policemen that might be asked to look into such things, "What is being done to the masked people?" stands a great chance of becoming, through Ozymandias' machinations and Rorshach's devotion to the truth, "What have the masked people done to us?"

2. As An Adventure Story
Now this is more like it. Moore and Gibbons are talented comic book people that came into Watchmen as young industry veterans rather than comics outsiders working their way into the medium. The fear that the Watchmen movie may simply encompass a surface reading of the book's many fine qualities has some weight because those surface qualities are solid to the point that one can imagine someone reacting to the book in that way and only that way. There are several thrilling set pieces for those that want them, such as Rorschach's prison cell face-off, the assault on Ozymandias' fortress, watching Rorschach shake various toughs down for information. There are at least three fine origin sequences for those that value them, solid and portentous and revelatory of the characters that are created through them. There are cool devices displayed and great-looking costumes and even a funny line or two. The ending my have its hard to believe elements, but as drama it comes together in a satisfying way that allows the characters to be true to themselves while either growing or withering away in the face of that growth. I think a reading of this story as high adventure may miss many of its finer points, but I can't say it's wrong.

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3. As A Symphony Of Meticulous Applications Of Craft
Alan Moore made his reputation through this work in large part because the story is so intricately told. It's a masterful performance to the point that Dave Gibbons made his own reputation by basically being up to the task of matching it -- that's not in any way disrespectful of Gibbons or his contributions, but rather an indication of Moore's powerful personal stamp on the project. There are many well-known noticeable craft elements to the work, and I personally have a good time noting one or two to which I'll pay attention on a specific reading. A famous one is to follow sugar cubes; another is to note the mirroring that surrounds Rorschach generally and his spotlight issue specifically. A favorite of mine is to note how Moore uses the facial close-up as a way to communicate certain emotional high points. You could read and re-read Watchmen the way my film-fanatic friends dig into Sam Fuller and Alfred Hitchcock movies. The fact that the elaborate construction of the book is part of the overall effect -- it's called Watchmen for that reason, too -- makes it even that much more fun to follow what's being done and to what or whom and when.

4. As A Love Story
It might be a bit top easy to focus on the romance the story contains between Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk as a main avenue through to drive yourself through the book entire, but like with many things Alan Moore there are layers there that make it a lot more fun than simply noting a plotline. They're both second-generation heroes and the children (literally or figuratively) or previous-generation heroes that were unlucky in their relationships and/or professional partnerships. There's a bit of kink and dysfunction to each person's overall psychological and sexual make-up (meaning they're a lot like most of us) and both of them find happiness that doesn't flee from those elements of their characters. Theirs is the most traditionally satisfying and sunniest plotline, at least in terms of how things work themselves out, which suggest it holds some significant weight to balance itself against that which did not turn out satisfactorily. As I grow older, it looms larger as a primary takeaway.

5. As Commentary On The 1980s
It's hard not to see the book as an extended commentary on Cold War paranoia and American attitudes towards their role in world affairs, from the obvious second identity of Dr. Manhattan as a living nuclear bomb to the extension of Richard Nixon's presidential reign due to events in the now-altered world to the notion that a more fundamentally powerful America would have made the world either just as likely to face nuclear annihilation to perhaps even more likely to face something like that. Even the monster-oriented ending is ripped from the notion that the Reagan-era US and the Gorbachev-led USSR would have found common ground if forced to face an alien invasion. The heavy mood of the comic I think reflects an annihilation-cognizant mindset that's hard to remember now, the thought that any second you could look up and see a flash and it'd be over not just for you but for everybody, a hopeless outcome that even made those rebelling against it sicker rather than more whole. There's also an underlying message that supports that primary take that I think rarely gets mentioned, in how little the powerful Dr. Manhattan changes world events but how much someone less powerful but more willing to put those skills into the service of power, The Comedian, changes the course of history.

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6. As A Liminal Experience
I have a friend whose favorite parts of Peter Jackson's boys-adventure take on Lord of the Rings were the parts that all my other friends hated the most: the scene in Fellowship of the Ring where Bilbo Baggins bugs out and his face contorts as he leaps for Frodo's ring, and the scene later on in the same film where Galadriel is temporarily transformed into a One Ring-bearing Witch-Queen. That kind of thing: there were a few more scenes like that one. For him a big appeal of Tolkien's writing and therefore any adaptation of it are those moments where the world goes a little bit bonkers and our perception of it careens into the surreal, the scary and the just plain odd-looking. One thing the film trailers have reminded us is how gob-smackingly weird and lurid and intense Dave Gibbons' visual interpretation of Moore's script was in the original graphic novel. All those oranges and browns and yellows set against mostly somber grays and blues. And then the squid shows up. The design work is also pretty stellar here: that lovely shifting mask but also the ugly pants, the top knots... I think it's entirely possible to dive into Watchmen just for the strangeness of the visual experience. It's a world of unsettling texture.

7. As World Building
Speaking of texture and JRR Tolkien, it's entirely possible to read Watchmen not as narrative at all but as a general exercise in world-building -- one of comics' best and certainly one of the most efficient examples of this kind of thing in all of fiction. Moore and Gibbons manage to communicate, say, the effects of Dr. Manhattan's improvements to world technology and the shifts in immigration into the US due to different geopolitical results in ways that fold the changes into the narrative. Other notes worm their way into back material -- an innovative, stand-alone use of supplementary material like that. This more with less approach has been copied to death in superhero comics since Watchmen hit, but I don't think anyone's ever done it as well.

8. As Commentary On Personal Histories
One of my favorite things to keep in mind as I've grown older is to see how the novel deals with personal histories. Moore is careful to suggest a center that never quite held -- the Watchmen as a team don't exist, the "Crimebusters" idea ended with a burnt map and feelings of slight embarrassment. They're life events without superhero-comic weight. Even the glimpses we see of more standard comic-book "adventures" look kind of sad and silly, and voice of reason The Comedian spells out their underlying silliness in his best speech in the book. At the same time, they're still elements of the personal histories of those involved, and I think Moore deftly handles what it's like to have a past that kind of hounds and frustrates you when you're trying to figure out how to act in the here and now. In fact, you can see each and every character as acting in a way that makes better some sort of past event that still holds power over them -- except maybe Rorschach, who with the event that comes closest really only plays on elements of his one-time partnership with Nite Owl II.

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9. As Commentary On Super-Heroes
There are any number of obvious elements whereby the idea of superheroes are discussed. The characters frequently look ridiculous or out of place in their costumes. There are story elements that are straight-up corrective satire, like the story of a character dying after having a costume malfunction, or the hero the goes in and out of the mental institution. The violence in Watchmen is much more real and abrupt and awful than in most superhero comics (the movie should underline this at least). Even the overall level of craft feels like a rebuttal to the crudeness brought to those stories in the bulk of material that settles into that genre. You can also go into specific commentary, where Dr. Manhattan basically acts as Superman, while elements of Batman are spread across Rorschach (fanaticism/morality), Ozymandias (self-improvement/planning) and Nite Owl II (gadgets/neighborhood protection). That in and of itself suggests that there's something purer about Superman and something perhaps more complicated about Batman, well before you get into how those elements play out across the plot. Another way to go at this way of reading the work is to see Ozymandias as a near-superhuman (he becomes one in the story by catching a bullet) and how that puts him into a course of conflict with the only other super-powered person, Dr. Manhattan. There's a lot here to dream on and think over, and I'm not sure how many comics creators since have really tried.

10. As A Tribute To The Genre's Ability To Hold Several Meanings At Once
Superhero comics are the ultimate empty suit, their specifics so much less meaningful and so much more arbitrary than other genres' tropes. That Watchmen holds up to multiple interpretations in the first place, entirely distinct ways of reading the book that might not show up on the same continent in the world ideas, I think says something about the nature of it chosen story type. It's a grand pageant; you tell us what it all means.

So that's me. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

*****

J. Caleb Mozzocco On Reading Watchmen As Comics Canon:
I didn't start reading comic books until the early '90s, and by the time I did, Alan Moore was already somewhat revered as, in many folks' opinions, the greatest comic book writer, and Watchmen already enjoyed a rep for being one of the classic, you-have-to-read-this comics series. I don't remember exactly which order I read them in, but I remember when I first sat down with Watchmen--as with Dark Knight Returns and Maus -- it was with the knowledge that I was about to read one of those comics that was always being cited as one that changed the field forever and lead to all those "Bam! Pow! Comics aren't just for kids anymore!" type of articles. In that respect, it was a little like reading Catcher in the Rye or Lolita or Heart of Darkness or Adventures of Huck Finn or Shakespeare for the first time. It certainly colored my experience a bit, as I found myself actively looking for the things I had heard over and over were there, the things that made this a comic that you could find in a trade paperback in a library or bookstore, back when that was still pretty unusual (I think the copy I read may have even said "Warner Books" rather than "DC Comics" on it...same with "Dark Knight"). Anyway, I wonder how many people read this because it was suggested to them that they had to, or that it was the greatest comic ever, or the greatest superhero comic ever or because they read an article about it in a mainstream magazine like Time or Newsweek.

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Michael Grabowski On Watchmen As A Serial Comics Reading Experience:
Never having bought any of the trade editions of Watchmen, I still re-read the original comics. So an additional entry into the story for me is as a serial comic reading experience. Appreciating each comic as its own unit, from cover image that amplifies a key detail of the first page, through that particular story unit, through the additional text, and even the slowly progressing letters of the inside covers and the advancing clock on the back. (The complete absence of ads shouldn't be forgotten either.) Each issue feels like a full comic reading experience at a time when most mainstream 80s comics offered diminishing rewards compared to what 35 cents bought you in the late 70s. To my teenage self, Alan Moore was using Watchmen to communicate to Chris Claremont, "Here, let me show you how to write an extended story arc with myriad characters, numerous subplots, and glacial pacing while still providing a unified chapter with a satisfying rather than frustrating amount of development and content in each issue." Because by that point in mainstream comics, for whatever reason, you knew you weren't getting a satisfying amount of story in any given book that month unless it was a double-sized (and double-priced) issue. It's even worse these days, even for alt-comics, so re-reading these comics has been a special pleasure. It helps to remember that there was a time when the only way to re-read a favorite comics story was... to re-read the actual comic books. Moore & Gibbons designed their comic series to repay such re-reading in a way particular to that sort of experience. Had it been designed to be re-read as a book -- something that seemed unlikely at the time and would certainly have been improbable but for The Dark Knight Returns and Maus -- I bet the serial results would have been a little different.

Cole Moore Odell On Reading Watchmen As A Feminist Text:
As with Swamp Thing, From Hell, Promethea, Lost Girls and elements of many other Moore works, gender politics are close to the center of Watchmen. The book presents superheroes as a proxy for late 20th-century America's cartoonish attitudes toward gender. The men engage in routine, horrific violence against women (Sally's rape, the Comedian's murder of his own pregnant girlfriend, the pirate's eventual murder of his wife and family, the way real-life victim Kitty Genovese's death hangs over the story) as distractions from their overt interest -- pointing giant phallic missles at each other. The women are either crushed underfoot or convinced to embrace their own objectification as a source of "power." Finally, Ozymandias attempts to shock the boys out of their mutually assured destruction with The Giant Vagina That Killed New York. Not only does this vagina dentata made real give all the men, from Nixon on down, something they can really fear together, but it serves as a sly commentary on the one thing with power enough to utterly defeat superheroes for young male readers -- the discovery of girls.

Charles Yoakum On Watchmen As A Reputation Builder
Reputation building can be a theme here as well. Moore and Gibbons put on a high wire act, and while Alan came in under the radar with The Anatomy Lesson, here he and Dave decided to the "big project," announced that they were going to do it, and then had the pressure to pull it all off. That's not easy. In Gibbon's book, you can see him submerging himself in the process to just get the damn thing done. What they were doing was going to be game changing and they knew it. The only other thing that was close was the freedom that DC gave Miller to do Ronin. Remember, with the same freedom, Barr and Bolland's Camelot 3000 turned into forgettable, off schedule garbage. For those of us back then, any change to the business-as-usual DC and Marvel was completely unexpected, and DC's making the accommodations to their superior creators was novel and highly unique. I didn't mind waiting for that last issue of Watchmen because I knew that there would be no compromises artistically to the dreaded deadline doom. Thank god for that.

Aaron White On Watchmen As A Personality Test
This may be the dopiest entry-point into Watchmen you'll ever receive, but my college friends and I used it as a cheap personality test. We firmly believed that one's answer to the question "Who's your favorite Watchman?" would speak volumes about your outlook on life. We were deeply disappointed in our friend Colleen, who insisted her favorite was Daniel the younger Night Owl on the grounds that her boyfriend was named Daniel.

Jason Michelitch On Watchmen As Humanist Literature
What initially dazzled me in Watchmen was the craft and the genre commentary, but what has kept me coming back to it is the fullness of Moore's characters and the attitude of the book towards humanity as a whole. I don't think that Watchmen is Moore's best work, but I can't think of any other book of his where there was as much of an ensemble at work, where one central character or smaller group of characters didn't dominate the stage. In Watchmen, there are at least seven main characters whose desires and inner persons are delved into with relish, not to mention the legions of minor characters that Moore bothers to imbue with full-fledged person status. One of the reasons why the monstrous climax of Ozymandias' plot shocks us so is that over the course of the book we've come to view to "little people" of the book as persons as real and as vivid as the ones dressed in costumes. Even the missing artists, who are discussed almost solely as a plot point for most of the book, are given two panels or so in which they are unrelentingly human. Moore is a master of using one or two lines of dialogue and carefully considered staging (interpreted perfectly by Gibbons, I should add) to suggest a whole character. On the more direct notion of humanism, the scene on Mars was really important to me as a 15 year-old trying to muddle through all sorts of Big Important Thoughts about the world and humans. There's obviously so much more to think through philosophically than Watchmen provides, but I never saw it as an end point, even when I first read it. Jon's revelation about the statistical importance of any given human being was a revelatory thought to me at that time, and I took it as a starting point for further thought and appreciation of our fucked-up species. It's still one of my favorite scenes in any work of fiction in any medium.

Chris Mautner On Watchmen As An Indictment Of Baby Boomer Hubris
I've always seen Watchmen in a large part as being a treatise on the danger of assuming you know what's best for people and a condemnation of the baby boom generation to an extent. It's not for nothing that Ozymandius draws allusions to JFK and the "best and brightest" generation. The thing I remember that struck me upon first read is how absolutely convinced Veidt (and everyone else) was that we were headed for WWIII, when, of course, in the real world, such a thing thankfully never occurred. I think Watchmen dovetails neatly with a lot of the ideas Moore expresses in V for Vendetta, about giving the power to the people themselves and the danger of assuming -- as a lot of people in power do -- that you know what's best for everybody.

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posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Five Link A Go Go

* go, read: long Colleen Doran essay on double-meanings in advertising

* go, look: James Owen does The Last Unicorn

* go, bookmark: KAL has a blog

* go, look: BBC article on Delonas cartoon

* go, read: shout out to all the comics bloggers in the house
 
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FFF Results Post #152—Pagi-Nation

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Describe Five Specific Pages Or Two-Page Sequences You Like." Here are their responses.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. A grief-stricken Sock Monkey runs away from the dead bird
2. That page in Murmur where the lead is spying on his mother
3. Speedy Ortiz visits his various loved ones
4. Bat creatures break in, Kamandi #10
5. David B. changes his first name

*****

Andrew Mansell

1. The triumphant moment from Amazing Spider-man #33
2. The arrival of the Celestial's ship from Eternals #2
3. The final page of League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen Vol 1, #6
4. The Spirit-- First two page of Beagle's Second Chance-- Perfection
5. Green Lantern tripping his brains out by Neal Adams

*****

Kiel Phegley

1. The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #3, pages 10 - 11, the knife-throwing sequence featuring "Her name was Ruby. She'd been giving me the eye..." At the same time the sexiest and one of the saddest little scenes in comics.
2. Grickle, the two silent pages in "photo opportunity" where the Poloroid-taking "hero" turns from gentle lecturer on anti-smoking to a cigarette-slapping madman. Probably the funniest comic I've ever read.
3. Amazing Screw-On Head #1, the bit that goes like this:

"But what sort of punishment? Poison Frogs? Plague rats? Giant Fire-breathing robot?"
"Why not all three?"
"Marry me."
Probably the second funniest comic I've ever read.

4. Any Kirby photo-collage spread. The most recent one I've bought is in Thor #162, a two-pager featuring the Thunder God, the Recorder, planets, some wild satellites and what I think is a disco ball.
5. JLA #7, Electric Blue Superman wrestles and angel

*****

Scott Dunbier

* GL/GA 87
From the Green Arrow solo story, by Elliot S! Maggin and Neal Adams (much of the story was shot from Adams' beautiful pencils). The sequence where Green Arrow lands in the middle of a riot in an inner city neighborhood. A little boy is shot in the back, and GA tries to save his life. Incredibly powerful, and the first time I ever read anything remotely like it in a comic book.

* Manhunter
Tough choice--I was going to go with Chapter 6, page 6 from Detective 442, Where Manhunter fights his teacher, Asano Nitobe. Now this was dynamic storytelling at its best, what a great team Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson were. But I had to go with the last two pages from the final story, in Detective 443. Paul Kirk making the ultimate sacrifice--God I loved this series.

* Detective #439
My favorite Batman story, written by Steve Englehart, and drawn by Sal Amendola (Did Dick Giordano ink it? Think so). The last two pages. After Batman ruthlessly tracks down the bank robbers who left a little boy orphaned on the street, he comes to terms with his own overwhelming grief. Could have been maudlin, instead it was beautifully handled and poignant. God, did Archie Goodwin edit the Hell out of his brief run on those Detective Comics issues or what?

* The Spirit in Outer-space, chapter 1, pages 4 & 5, by Jules Feiffer and Wally Wood.
My all-time favorite two page sequence. The Spirit is asked to lead a mission to the moon and gives every reason why he isn't the man to do it, but he finally relents. The Spirit's speech about settling down and raising a family, with Ellen looking on, and the strobe effect Wood used to convey her sorrow as she buries her face in her father's chest is heartbreaking.

* Swamp Thing Special #2, by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben.
The last two pages--Swamp Thing goes to the depths of Hell for his true love, Abbey -- and brings her back. The best moment in Moore's groundbreaking series.

*****

Marc Arsenault

1. The last page of Krigstein's story "Key Chain" with all those damn keys.
2. The Last page of Mazzuchelli's Discovering America where the guy starts working on the damn globe again
3. A couple pages before the last of Paul Pope's Escapo where dude just escaped and is on his hands and knees all wet
4. The last page of Kirby's Glory Boat (New Gods 6) where guy is stuck on the damn raft
5. The last 2 page spread of Jimbo Adventures in Paradise where Jimbo is all melty after the nuclear blast with the damn dead horse

*****

Douglas Wolk

1. Zatanna reaches out to the Seven Unknown Men.
2. The assassin in "I Killed Adolf Hitler" enters the time machine.
3. The two-page establishing shot of Funniopolis near the end of "Fox Bunny Funny."
4. Swifty Frisko reports the news as we see the Clara Pandy and the Hoop for the first time.
5. The final page of Chester Brown's "The Eyelid Burial" (in Yummy Fur #2): "a way out of the blood and sand."

*****

Ramon De Veyra

* Buddy Baker looking at the reader exclaiming "I Can SEE YOU!" that nearly made me drop the book. (Animal Man)
* William Gull seeing Jah-bul-on on the hill from From Hell.
* The final fate of Ampersand from Y The Last Man # 60 (I don't want to describe it for fear of spoiling.)
* That two-page spread in the prison riot from All-Star Superman.
* That page in Swamp Thing where his face is the background, the landscape the characters were walking through.

*****

Gary Usher

1. "Tear It Up, Terry Downe" page 3 (Love and Rockets V9, 1988) Jaime Hernandez's evolution of Hopey in one page, still amazing!
2. "Ninety-three Million Miles From the Sun...and Counting" page 3 (Love and Rockets V9, 1988) Maggie wanders by burned down Mad Dogs
3. "Penny is Found" page 91 (Love and Rockets: New Stores 1, 2008) great supergal action scene by Jaime, also
4. "The Return of Ray D." page 4 (Love and Rockets 20?, 1986) page 1 first page of first L&R I bought, Jaime at one of his peaks
5. "Rocky's Birthday Suprise" page 14 (Love and Rockets V4, 1985) Rocky and Fumble in a very poignant ending to one of Jaime's other series

*****

Mark Coale

1. Animal Man -- "I can see you"
2. American Flagg -- Schieskopf strapped to the rocket
3. Sasndman -- When the Faeries come through to Earth in issue 19
4. Starman -- jack seeing him mom on the shore in the pirate issue
5. Spider-Man -- the "lifting the machinery" page

*****

John Vest

1. Howard The Duck's car ride with Dreyfus Gulch and Beverly in Howard The Duck #7
2. The quiet beginning of "Red Nails" in Savage Tales #2 with Valeria walking around by herself
3. Reuben Flagg in bed with Titania Weis in American Flagg #7 pages 22-23
4. Thor talking to the hippies in Thor #154
5. The wordless sequence with Nick Fury and Val on page 5 of Nick Fury #2

*****

Michael Aushenker

1. Taking care of office paperwork, patronizing personal secretaries in the opening of "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" # 2
2. Porpoise-hater Phillips hunting dolphins in "Ghost Rider" # 16, the most savage shocker of all!
3. Not one...not two....but THREE Don Perlin lycanthropes running around in a spread in "Werewolf By Night" # 21
4. Lee Elias splash page in "Human Fly" # 11 where he's playing rock star, strumming a guitar and crooning
5. David Chelsea in love sex montage

*****

Tom Bondurant

1. Orion and Lightray ride the "Life Cube" into battle, page 25 of "The Glory Boat!" from New Gods #6 (December 1971). Written and penciled by Jack Kirby, inked by Vince Colletta.
2. Letitia tries to get baby Clark off the roof, page 7 of "Letitia Lerner, Superman's Babysitter!" reprinted in the Bizarro Comics collection. Written by Kyle Baker and Elizabeth Glass, drawn by Baker.
3. Batman pays Silver St. Cloud a subtext-rich visit, page 2 of "The Laughing Fish!" from Detective Comics #475 (February 1978). Written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers, inked by Terry Austin.
4. Reed Richards enters a photo-collaged Negative Zone, page 14 of "This Man ... This Monster!" from Fantastic Four #51 (June 1966). By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, inked by Joe Sinnott.
5. Machine Man laments that "even an android can cry," but Arishem the Celestial still flashes the "loser" sign at him, page 9 of the untitled Nextwave #5 (July 2006). Written by Warren Ellis, penciled by Stuart Immonen, inked by Wade von Grawbadger.

*****

Michael Grabowski

1. Curtains, then the legs of slaughtered bodies of what turn out to be Errata Stigmata's parents, then the infant Errata herself, wide-eyed in the crib, as reprised in the middle of Human Diastrophism.
2. Everybody takes a turn slapping Maggie in the face.
3. The Big Tex page where the story progresses backwards in time as the reader's eye climbs down the tree. Best seen at the ACME Novelty Library #7 size.
4. "Later , out on bail, Al [Ledicker Jr.] lights up one of his father's Pinky Perfectos" and fantasizes about the theme park of Rana Poona.
5. Shep-Shep's vision of himself becoming a sphinx, "worshiped as a god."

*****

Andrew Wales

1. Alec Longstreth explains to his psychiatrist why his comic book is stressing him out. Phase 7 #10, page 2.
2. Tales of Suspense 84 by Jack Kirby. Captain America kicks Batrocs butt with nary a word said by either of them. http://i25.tinypic.com/vy60ep.jpg
3. Catfoot Crogan swordfights on the stairs. Crogan's Vengeance p. 172
4. The possum babies give Fone Bone a run for his money. Bone Book 1, p. 31.
5. Lynda Barry explains why everybody doodles. What it Is, page 103.

*****

Andrei Molotiu

* Silent page where the grandfather buries the demonic doll, Kirby & Simon's Sandman no. 1
* Uncle Gabby goes nuts, breaks the window of the store where they sell Sock Monkey merchandise and sets the merchandise on fire
* Jimbo sees the Smoggmonsters play at the club, in "Jimbo's House is Gigantic but Condemned"
* Dr. Strange enters some weird dimension in search of Eternity, second page of Dr. Strange story in Strange Tales no. 138
* Warren Craghead's take on Charlie Brown trying to fly his kite, in Top Shelf Asks the Big Questions

*****

Russell Lissau

1. Batman cradles Tim Drake over the body of Tim's dad (Identity Crisis)
2. The Crow kills his first victim, then ties a spent shell casing into his hair (The Crow)
3. Alan Scott/Green Lantern cries after murdering millions in a dream (All-Star Squadron)
4. Meredith Van Zeyl makes her debut (Batman Allies Secret Files and Origins 2005)
5. The first iconic page of Superman For All Seasons

*****

Ali T. Kokmen

* Jack Knight eulogizes his father in a beautiful nine-panel grid in Starman #73 ("I miss him. That's all.")
* King Arthur confronts Morded in the final issue of Camelot 3000, in a powerful Brian Bolland layout where Arthur straddles the lower panels. ("Aye...'tis fitting you would be here, too, Morded.")
* Dr. Manhattan explains his realization about thermodynamic miracles as the "camera" angle pulls further back with each panel in the final pages of Watchmen #9. ("You are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg...")
* Off-panel, Superman punches a shape-shifting alien so hard that it reverts to its original form while Green Lantern watches in amazement in DC Comics Presents #26 ("You're that strong?")
* Superman (super-intelligent but sometimes not too bright) finally figures out where Batman has been buried alive, races to the site, unearths the coffin,and rips into it to save his friend...only to find the coffin empty because Batman has escaped and is standing right behind him, in World's Finest #269.

*****

Michael Dooley

1. The final page of the "3-dimensions!" Mad comic story by Kurtzman/Wood, after the pursuit of material things has led to disaster.
2. The last page of Spiegelman's "As the Mind Reels," which doesn't quite make it to the bottom but which nevertheless advises us to stand by.
3. The page toward the beginning of chapter two of Sienkiewicz's "Stray Toasters," in which "the electric kid" realizes, but only for a brief moment before his brain short-circuits, how and why his cat swallowed a light bulb.
4. The black and white page toward the end of Mack's "Kabuki/Metamorphosis," in which Buddha and Akemi share their thoughts on creation, all the way down one side of the page and up the other side.
5. The Ware fold-out spread that serves as the outside dust jacket of the McSweeney's Quarterly Concern hardcover book, which includes many strips about God and creation.

*****

Danny Ceballos

* OSAMU TEZUKA'S "PHOENIX": VOLUME 4 -- Page 320 -- Two rival artists have been ordered to create gargoyles to adorn the temple. The gargoyles are revealed and there is one clear winner. You can almost hear the clay scream.
* JOHN PORCELLINO'S "PERFECT EXAMPLE" -- FRONTISPIECE -- Husker Du or Venom? Satan will decide who is the better band.
* MILT GROSS' "HE DONE HER WRONG" -- PAGE 4 -- She sings her little ditty about hearts and flowers so sweetly that a roomful of smelly, bearded 49ers burst into tears.
* BOB KANE AND JERRY ROBINSON'S BATMAN #1 -- PAGE 2 -- The best page of the best origin story EVER. The vivid horror captured in young Bruce's eyes says it all. Who wouldn't become a bat to avenge their parents murder?
* LYNDA BARRY'S "ONE HUNDRED DEMONS" -- LOST AND FOUND -- PAGE 211 -- The girl who lives to read the classified ads is killed by a sneaky vampire. No one believed her and now she is dead. They will cover her coffin with fill dirt, very clean. The party pianist can't hold back his tears as he sings at her funeral "Cherish is the word I use to dis-cri-ibe..."

*****

Marc Sobel

1. Opening page of Flies on the Ceiling
2. Opening page of Watchmen #1
3. Opening page of The Spirit -- "Bring in Sand Saref"
4. Dust jacket for McSweeney's #13
5. Inside cover illustration for Abandoned Cars

*****

Lane Milburn

1. Tetsuo frees Akira from cryo-chamber
2. Arzach snares man with lasso (pterodactyl in center of page)
3. "The Hairstyle Report" from Julius Knipl
4. Mine cart rides through giant skull in Multiforce
5. World's Fair spread from Jimmy Corrigan

*****

Adam Casey

1. Superman dressing Perry White in various humiliating outfits and taking pictures of him from Superman #135
2. The "seduction" page featuring the former opera singer in Will Eisner's "The Street Singer".
3. The detonation of the nuclear bombs in Captain Marvel Adventures #66.
4. The two-page spread right before Caprice and Sherman kiss in "Box Office Poison".
5. The ghost of Wagner playing music in Sohei's dream in the first volume of Tezuka's "Adolf".

*****

Dave Knott

* Matt Murdock descends the stairs through multiple levels of his brownstone in Elektra Lives Again
* The final page of Lewis Trondheim's Mister O, wherein the protagonist finally crosses the gap, with decidedly mixed results
* DOOM!!! Beyond the fields we know... a mysterious entity (Surtur) begins forging a sword in Thor #337
* Carl Reissman boards the subway in "Master Race"
* Pope Cerebus blesses a woman's baby in his own inimitable manner

*****

William Burns

1. The struggle between Christian Promethea and Muslim Promethea, intercut with the struggle between two modern Prometheas
2. "Ladies, Gentlemen, you have eaten well" from Batman: Year One
3. The last page of the "Derrida" sequence from Action Philosophers
4. The Chorus girl, lampshade, ostrich and duck spread from Howard the Duck # 16
5. Kyle Baker's Plastic Man gets caught in the gears of the haunted house

*****

Richard Pachter

1. Final page of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel" (Part one)
2. Death of Guardian in Alpha Flight 12
3. "Breaking through" sequence in Amazing Spider-Man 33 (pp. 4&5?)
4. The conclusion of Lee and Ditko's "Worm Man" in Strange Tales 78
5. Final Crisis 7 p. 37

*****

Grant Goggans

1. "Lisa Leavenworth - Crazy and PROUD of it!" I don't know where this one-page gag strip originally appeared, but it's reprinted in Buddy Does Seattle and it's my favorite moment of the whole series.
2. That wonderful two-page spread in Scott Pilgrim 4 after a streetcar passes in front of the fellow with the samurai sword.
3. The page in Robo-Hunter where Sam's slowly sinking into the polluted East River. He's gagged and trying to shout for help, while his idiot assistants debate what he might be trying to say.
4. There's a Steve Yeowell page in the last Invisibles arc where Gideon's in a phone booth talking to his ex-girlfriend and he start babbling about an old kid's show as we realize he's delirious from blood loss.
5. About nine months into Charley's War, the page where Charley is forced by an officer to reveal that the bag he's dragging contains the remains of his mate, Ginger.

*****

Brian Moore

1. Two-pager: Maxim Glory gets out of Mr. Fix-It's cab, and Fix-It picks up a doomed android lady, as the El thunders by overhead
2. Batman and Two-Face fight as the helicopter dwindles in the distance
3. Hunter Rose takes his mask off to relax with a snifter of brandy in his Art Deco penthouse
4. No. 26 tries to drop a water tower on Kaneda and his buddies
5. Eddie Campbell serves up a Viennese street scene, with Chatting Clerics, Minding the Store, Mozart and Schobert

*****

Sean T. Collins

1. Keith meets Eliza (Black Hole)
2. "If we must die, let New Genesis live!" (New Gods)
3. The giant hot dog (Boy's Club)
4. Mister Miracle lives again (Seven Soldiers of Victory)
5. That fascist death squad assaults Ophelia and her friends (Poison River)

*****

thanks to all that participated. a particular thank you to all that participated but provided additional answers or riffed on the questions rather than answering them. I enjoyed your e-mail, but I can't run items obviously out of the box here, as experience tells me that soon leads to other people demanding "the right" to do the same thing and eventually I take a baseball bat to my computer. Also, anyone that expected me to find this much specific interior art and makes a complaint on that basis will be banned for life. Also, I haven't checked all my e-mail accounts this morning, so if you didn't use the main one (the one provided in the original post) and sent it some personal e-mail account of mine, a) sorry, and b) stop that.

*****
*****

 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Doug Allen!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Pete Hoffman!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Andy Diggle!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Roger Cruz!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Alec Stevens!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Nestor Infante!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Manfred Deix!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Jan van Wensveen!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Oh! Great!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Maxime Peroz!

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First Thought Of The Day

Buying toilet paper at the dollar store feels thrifty; buying food at the dollar store feels dirty.
 
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February 21, 2009


CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 7 to February 13, 2009:

1. Sean Delonas draws criticism for a cartoon that many think was referencing either overtly or in wink-wink provocative fashion President Obama being a chimp.

2. Ben Sargent takes a buy-out in Austin.

3. Another cartoonist in need: Karen Ellis loses all physical possessions in a deadly fire.

Winners Of The Week
Your 2009 Eisner Hall of Fame nominees.

Loser Of The Week
Between Sargent, Delonas and Mike Lester engaging with fans in impolite fashion about one of his cartoons, it seemed like a bad week for editorial cartooning generally.

Quote Of The Week
"Man, I wish they taught your dad how to put a condom on a cucumber, so a bitter fuck like you would of never had the chance to shit out hate from your all consuming black hole of an ass." -- A Mike Lester fan.

this week's imagery comes from one of the great underground comix
 
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If I Were Near This, I’d Go To It

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If I Were In MD, I’d Go To This

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Happy 30th Birthday, Bryan Lee O’Malley!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Frank Brunner!

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Happy 77th Birthday, Pierre Le Goff!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Hans van Oudenaarden!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Philippe Marcele!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Michel Pirus!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Carlos Nine!

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* John Platt On Being My Favorite New Comics Persons (2/19/09)
* Justin Colussy-Estes on DCD Dumping Viz Backlist And Providing Another Reason To Bypass Comics Shops (2/19/09)
* Jason Green On The Second Round Of Naruto Nation And My Confusion Over Its Explicit Purpose (2/19/09)
* Ben Ostrander On The Great Jack Jackson And His Potential For Inclusion In The Eisner Hall of Fame (2/19/09)
* Dennis O'Neil On Teaching A Writing Course at NYU (PR) (2/19/09)
* Adam Casey On Why X-Men Forever Might Have An Audience After All (2/19/09)
* Andre Molotiu On the Five For Friday About Ebaying After Items From The Comics (2/19/09)
* Alex Holden With A Photo Of Tom Gauld At Angouleme Signing Someone's Tiny Sketchbook (2/19/09)
* Jai Nitz, Jaime Portillo and Julian Lawler In El Paso 021709 (PR) (2/12/09)
* Sean T. Collins On Comics At NYCC 2009 (2/11/09)
* Kevin Huizenga On The Appropriateness Of The Cancellation Of Or Else As A Result Of Diamond Policy (2/9/09)
* Karl Erickson On Art of Watchmen and Special Screening Of Watchmen Film (PR) (2/7/09)
 
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February 20, 2009


Friday Distraction: The Findings

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Chris Butcher Says I Can Post This Now

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I guess it's the official poster for this year's TCAF? I want to go to this, but I don't know if I can talk myself into spending that much money right now. Anyway, I don't really run posters, but I was so amused by organizer Chris Butcher telling me not to run it and then telling me I could run it I figure I'd go ahead and do it. It looks nice.
 
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You Should Really Go Read Brian Hibbs’ Analysis Of 2008 Bookscan Numbers

Simply by diving into the yearly Bookscan results of sales information compiled from bookstores, as in his latest Tilting At The Windmills, the retailer Brian Hibbs does comics a huge favor. There are a number of takeaway gems in the details, such as the numbers reported for Persepolis and the general success of the book implied.

I do advise, however, that anyone diving in take all of the numbers with a huge grain of salt, take the analysis with a shaker's worth of the stuff, and the advocacy for a salt-lick sized deposit. Brian posts his own disclaimer, and that's nice of him, but I want you to conceive of a bigger and more assertive one.

imageMost importantly, I think the numbers have been shown not only to be wrong, but to be wildly and erratically wrong. This interferes with any specific lessons we might take away from individual examples and should compounds our suspicion of any analysis involving more than one number. For instance, Fantagraphics' Eric Reynolds tell me that rather than the 719 copies Bookscan reports that Love and Rockets: New Stories Vol. 1 sold through the book trade, they've sold just over 4000 copies. That's an astounding difference, not just in terms of the math but how those numbers span the chasm that exists between "uh-oh" and "all right!" "We're thrilled," he wrote back to me. I guess Reynolds could be lying, as I'm sure a lot of publishers and creators have and continue to do. But I don't think he is, and he has a sterling reputation for not doing that. I know from my own past experience comparing royalty statements to Bookscan numbers that they can be way, way, way wrong, and not in any clearly discernible way.

That should be enough right there, but I also think Brian's fighting a phantom argument against members of the 2003 blogosphere when he stresses the importance of the DM in terms of the overall sales landscape. New markets are additional markets, not replacement markets. Reynolds says that L&RNS sold just about as many copies in the DM as it did when in comics form -- so the bookstore sales are new. They're not happier about one over the other, they're happy that the new one leads to a greater, more significant total. Everyone not just spouting off on the Internet or drunk in a convention hotel bar at 12:45 AM knows the importance of the DM, just as they have a keen sense of its limitations and frustrations. Other than a vague sense that comics shops no longer enjoy things like being stops on book tours, there's never been a convincing argument made that the DM has been neglected by certain publishers for the sake of the bookstores. Believe me, I've asked after this for years. In fact, I strongly believe the investment that companies not Marvel and DC have in the DM has traditionally far outstripped the investment shown by the DM in total in return.

Comics publishers need the DM, which is one of the reasons why Diamond turtling up for the remainder of the recession is a lousy thing. Many also need the bookstores, and every other sale they can get their hands on. It's a sign of comics' fundamental weirdness that one of the best people when it comes to selling comics feels compelled to argue once year for what should be the largely self-apparent effectiveness of the specialist. So enjoy the article, but leave at least that underlying argument where you find it.
 
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Go, Look: Matt Madden One-Pager

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Furor Over Sean Delonas’ Stupid-Ass Chimp Cartoon Grows A Bit, I Guess

* I guess according to the video posted at Mike Lynch's place there was some sort of protest at the New York Post yesterday over Sean Delonas' Wednesday editorial cartoon mash-up of the killer chimpanzee news and the stimulus package story, a mixing of elements that led some believe that Delonas was archly portraying our new President as a chimpanzee that was shot a bunch of times by cops. I'm not sure there's much movement in the actual story: the editors continue claim that it was a straight-up "those guys what wrote the stimulus package are about as smart as chimps" joke, other people continue to be very upset and doubt that's all that was going on. I guess some employees are upset, so that's news. Peter David says it caused him to reconsider his longstanding strategy of betting the pass line when Al Sharpton is up to roll. The Daily Cartoonist provides an idea of how widespread the discussion of the cartoon, such as it is, now stands. Daryl Cagle has the best headline and probably the best advice: just being cognizant that people are going to see certain things as alarming, and folding that consciousness into how you approach your work.

* speaking of Cagle, he hosts Mike Lester's response to criticism of his cartoon that compare "drinking the kool-aid" provided by the President via oratory on the stimulus bill to the "drinking the kool-aid" that killed almost a thousand people in Jim Jones' compound in Guyana. How to describe it... have you ever sat around with a bunch of old friends and cut each other up a bit and then one quiet guy at the table gets to speak and completely freaks out about what's been said and goes off on how you're all immoral, evil morons and he hates you? It's kind of like that, just on-line instead of at the corner bar during reunion weekend or at the Harrah's buffet in Las Vegas. Also, judging by the tone of the comments, instead of saying "Hey man, calm down" or sending someone after him as he walks back to the rooms, you and your friends in the above example gang up on your hot-headed pal and beat him to death.

Lester's a good cartoonist, but I believe his Jamestown cartoon a bad cartoon and I'll reiterate my initial criticism. As much as he may feel contempt for the political rhetoric utilized by President Obama, it's hard to believe that Lester really thinks the people that do embrace it are going to die like so many poisoned people, and the dangers of using a specific, real-world mass suicide as a metaphorical example is that there's not much room to go beyond that initial, blunt comparison. If he really does think that belief in this rhetoric will kill people, 1) wow, and 2) it's unclear why when pressed he would unpack his case in terms of how much Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher annoy him.
 
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Jeff Newelt’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Jeff Newelt gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Heavy Liquid, Paul Pope
* Army@Love, Rick Veitch
* Next-Door Neighbor and Edited, Dean Haspiel
* Testament, Doug Rushkoff and Liam Sharp
* The Naked Artist, Brian Talbot
 
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DWAs Kick Off Their 2009 Season

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The Doug Wright Awards has announced its fifth awards show will take place at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival on May 9th and the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall. This year's ceremony will featuring the launch of The Collected Doug Wright, with the release of the first that series two books from Drawn and Quarterly. A discussion about Wright will take place on stage featuring Brad Mackay, Seth and Chris Oliversos.

The Awards also announced their jury: Andrew Coyne, Martin Levin, Joe Ollmann, Bob Rae and Diana Tamblyn.
 
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Shannon O’Leary’s Best Of 2008

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Shannon O'Leary gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Bottomless Bellybutton, Dash Shaw
2. Kramer's Ergot 7 and Edited, Sammy Harkam
3. Mini-comics Tie: Ochre Ellipse, Jonas Madden Connor; Swell #2, Juliacks
4. Capacity, Theo Ellsworth
5. What It Is, Lynda Barry
 
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Go, Look: Comes The Dawn!

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in b&w and color
 
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Go, Look: The Dalek Variations

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Go, Look: Andre Lemos

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Go, Read: A Day In The Life

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's difficult to cover publishing announcement like IDW's digital partnership with a company called Eagle One Media, but I'm encouraged with more companies finding on-line strategies and putting them into play. It's no longer the time by which we dream about ideal models, I think, but put into practice the best ones for each company that they can be find.

* the first group of Naruto books to appear in Viz's second effort to publish a lot of Naruto volumes at once have slipped slightly in their second week on the USA Today chart. Then again, Naruto volumes slip in that fashion when on the charts by themselves, too. Jason Green explains that a motivation for Viz in doing this stunt again is to catch the English-language books up to their Japanese counterparts in a way that may discourage scanlations.

image* it's always fun when a cartoonist is willing to post early, amateurish work, like Evan Dorkin with these blasts from I guess a quarter-century ago.

* I'm not sure I can endorse the poetry, but that is one good-looking Kirby drawing.

* one of the the big problems with comics' long-term continental ice-shelf style move from selling a few comics to lots of people to lots of comics to few people is that you need to find a balance between offering material again at a price that seems like worth a double-dip but at the same time doesn't make you feel stupid for the first purchase. For at least one consumer, it seems, a recent DC project hasn't negotiated that very well.

* sometimes you have no idea what a specific link is doing in your bookmarks.

* David Welsh has some Harvey nominating suggestions for you.

* you should read Gary Tyrrell's call for a way by which webcomics people could secure micro-loans so as to introduce new projects or make other career moves without having to interrupt what they're doing and whatever revenue stream they provide. I really like that post, because it brings up something I find frustrating about comics: that 90 percent of the people with a little bit of money seem to want to enter the industry as publishers of the same kind of stuff three or four people are already doing. It's the way that theater companies always start out wanting to be the next Steppenwolf and 90 percent of those that survive are the ones that completely turn that original impulse on its head and find some niche or way of doing things that fits their skill set and provides something new. That's the long way around of saying I wish more people with a love of comics with money to invest would consider other possibilities, like the one Tyrrell seems to have in mind.

* finally, the entertaining on-line art project Covered has continued to post various artists doing their versions of classic comic book cover illustrations: Eric Reynolds on Moon Knight #15, Jeffrey Brown on Uncanny X-Men #211, and Dash Shaw on Green Arrow #2 are my recent favorites. You can see the blog in its entirety here.
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Sarah Becan!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Suzue Miuchi!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Raulo Caceres!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Roberto Vian!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Fabrice Lamy!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Sergei!

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Quick hits
Craft
Love For Loose Drawings

Exhibits/Events
TCAF Guest List Expands
The Most Patronizing Article Maybe Ever
Remembering London's Alternative Press Fair

History
On Metron
Reynolds Probably Owns The Original Art, Too

Industry
Interning At Periscope
Thompson's Comment Cracked Me Up
For Your Harvey Nominating Consideration

Interviews/Profiles
Heeb: Julia Wertz
CBR: Jim Krueger
Newsarama: Zeb Wells
Newsarama: Barry Lyga
Newsarama: The Immonens
Arthur: Marc-Antoine Mathieu
Quarter Life Crisis: James Kochalka
Newsarama The Cannon Not-Brothers
Robot 6: Mark Haven Britt, Josh Frankel
Don't Forget To Validate Your Parking: Mark Sable

Not Comics
Gary Greaves, RIP
Mike Lynch Shelf Porn
Fat Guy Remembers Others One
Why He Won't Be Seeing Watchmen
Gear Live: Mike McGree, Thomas Jakab
Evan Dorkin Embraces Succinct Publishing Format

Publishing
What Proofs Look Like
First Zuda-Related Print Offering
John Allison Changing Directions
Gerard Butler Meets Mayor Bloomberg
I Totally Missed This Valentine's Day Cut-Out

Reviews
John Mitchell: Skitzy
Tucker Stone: Slam Dunk
Andy Frisk: Nightwing #153
John Mitchell: Beasts Book 2
John Mitchell: Tamara Drewe
Greg McElhatton: I Saw You...
Sean T. Collins: The Awake Field
Sarah Morean: I'm Not From Here
Leroy Douresseaux: Black Cat Vol. 19
Richard Bruton: Carlos & Zakura #1-2
Chris Sims: Sabrina The Teenage Witch #100
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
 

 
February 19, 2009


Floating World Is Drawing Kitty Pryde

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In the spirit of their well-received 2007 show Spaceknight, where comics artists from all walks of the industry drew portraits of Rom: Spaceknight to benefit Bill Mantlo, Floating World Comics in Portland will be doing a Kitty Pryde show starting May 7. All benefits to the hemophilia department at OHSU.

Artists already on board include Brandon Graham, Ross Campbell, Zachary Baldus (that's his work above), Zack Soto, Corey Lewis, Vasilis Lolos, Becky Cloonan, Bryan O'Malley, Hope Larson, Farel Dalrymple, and Tom Neely. For more information, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Eisner Awards Hall of Fame Voting Open

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The Eisner Hall of Fame nominees have been named for 2009. They are.

* Matt Baker
* Bill Blackbeard
* Alberto Breccia
* Reed Crandall
* Rudolph Dirks
* Russ Heath
* Jerry Iger
* Jack Jackson
* Paul S. Newman
* Bob Oksner
* Antonio Prohias

Solid, succint biographies are available through the above link. Industry professionals are eligible to vote here.

I hope that people will consider showing love for the late, great Jack Jackson. Jackson was a pioneer of both underground comics and the sustained, adult literary expression in comics form that grew out of that tradition and several others. His work remains powerful and unforgettably idiosyncratic.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Another Cartoonist Leaves Staff Position

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This time it's the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ben Sargent, who has been at the Austin-American Statesman for 35 years this calendar year. I guess the positive is that Sargent accepting a buyout seems like it'd be the kind of veteran fairly near standard retirement age you'd want to see accepting such a package, and that makes it a better outcome than some 32-year-old get unceremoniously dumped.

The alternate view, of course, is that it's Ben-Freakin'-Sargent we're talking about, one of the nation's super-solid practitioners of a profession now in a state of near-collapse. Sargent has one of those direct and measured voices that's allowed him to do the humorous stuff and the occasional step-back-and-think cartoon with equal aplomb. He'll continue to bring his skills to work with various syndication and freelance clients, clients that may soon include his former employer on some sort of contract basis.

I always liked the way Sargent would subtly change his approach to the art depending on the cartoon. It always looked different than what I remembered, until I'd cast around and see a cartoon that was more like the mind's eye Sargent. That's a rare gift. At any rate, I would imagine he'll certainly be missed in all the ways he ends up not being involved or published the same way he is right now.

Sargent won the Pulitzer in 1982.
 
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Kristen Overstreet’s Best Of 2008

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DHP's Kristen Overstreet gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba
* The Great Outdoor Fight, Chris Onstad
* MySpace: Dark Horse Presents, Various
* Abe Sapien Volume 1: The Drowning, Mike Mignola and Jason Sean Alexander
* Star Wars: Luke Skywalker and Last Hope for the Galaxy, Various
 
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #22

* it's so bad for newspapers right now that even a mostly positive article about unique visitors to major newspaper sites gets kicked off with bad news about advertising. The thing that may jump out for a lot of folks is a decline in readers visiting the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's site, not exactly the momentum you want to be building if you're considering what is already a Jumping Snake Canyon-level feat of going from print to on-line only.

* there's a ton of general economic talk in this two part interview with Tokyopop CEO Stuart Levy. It used to be encouraging to see company head honchos like this talk in general but positive terms about new opportunities on-line. Now the vagueness of it seems slightly scary.

* finally, Heidi MacDonald penned a much better and more forthright article than I did on various debts held by Diamond Comics' Steve Geppi. You should read it.

In general, I'm hesitant to write about those debts except in the very limited parameter that a combination of
1. A measured appraisal of Diamond's industry-altering changes.
2. An acknowledgment of how quickly they're being made.
3. The overly facile and I think hard to believe reasons for these changes being made the way they're being made.
4. This week's acknowledgment by Viz that the moves that have an effect on their books are totally Diamond-driven.
5. The debts themselves.
6. Examples of other businesses in the wider economic world making changes that seem to come not from weaknesses in their business model but from the financial profile enjoyed by that entity or its backers.
makes me consider the possibility of outside pressures driving some of the moves. I can't endorse that theory, though; I can only ask the question and suggest that the more information we have, the better. There are alternative explanations for some of the circumstances involved. I think we have to be cognizant of those, too. There are as many printer/publisher debt situations as there are Smurfs, and most of them sound terrifying for the publisher when you catch them at a specific time. The Geppi Entertainment Museum woes didn't scan for my own earlier writing as a potential contributing factor or danger sign because a) they developed a while ago and probably couldn't be a part of any sudden scramble for financial correction and b) I found it convincing that at least some of the motivation in the museum not paying the bills was a game of hardball with the museum's partners/sponsors/enablers to get a better deal.

As someone who runs a site in large part driven by opinion and analysis, I probably don't do a very good job of making clear the difference between where I feel a lack of compelling information calls into question a wider selection of possibilities and endorsing one of those pathways as likely or even prominent. It's not as fun as declaring that I know the absolute truth about everything, but I hope it's in keeping with an open-minded way of engaging comics and its actors and agents that I think best reflects the panoply of moves always being made and the various motivations for doing so. I honestly don't know if Diamond is teetering in a way they could crumble later today or if Steve Geppi just built a life-sized replica of Uncle Scrooge's money bin to which he helicopters with Michael Phelps at 4 PM everyday for private swimming lessons. I do know I think the minimum and de-listing decisions are bad ones and close doors that shouldn't have been closed and are vastly disappointing in terms of how I'd hope a major industry player would approach this period of economic hazard. I'm simply not convinced by the explanations of same I've seen thus far, and I'm looking for others.
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Josh Neufeld’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The cartoonist Josh Neufeld gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody, Mike Dawson
* Too Cool to be Forgotten, Alex Robinson
* The Alcoholic, Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel
* Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, Art Spiegelman
* Billy Dogma: Fear My Dear, Dean Haspiel
 
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Follow-Up On Delonas Chimp Cartoon

Since posting yesterday on Sean Delonas' chimp/stimulus mash-up, news and opinion articles have swollen from four to over a thousand, most of which are nearly as depressing as the cartoon itself. I'm not even sure what to do with responses like this article at Editor & Publisher, which notes that Delonas was accused of plagiarizing a cartoon last year, which has about as much to do with this cartoon as reporting he has bad breath or kicked his dog once. Pretty typical was this Newsday blog posting that called the whole affair a sad joke, and invoked Al Sharpton's involvement as a sign this was a media ploy on the part of the complainers.

If you just have a minute or so, Poynter Online has an effective wrap-up. I agree with Ted Rall's general opinion as expressed in that article. Delonas' cartoon is not to my mind overtly racist in a way that it allows us to see into the cartoonist's heart and state with conviction what's there. His history of making cartoons seemingly designed to upset gay people might influence you to lean one way over another when ascribing motivations to this one, but nothing's certain. I think with a lot more clarity you can see this effort as a cartoon of dubious value that allows us to question the cartoonist's decision-making process. The decision to publish it enables us to ask additional questions, this time of Delonas' employers, who seemed to think entirely in terms of "those guys that wrote the stimulus bill must be chimps" and never in terms of "whoa, did he just compare the first black president to a chimpanzee?" This fairly boggles the mind, and I don't understand why the first response when people complained isn't "Really? Yikes. Yeah, I probably should have seen that."

If you have a little more time, I thought that Darrin Bell and Cory Thomas had smart things to say on this Daily Cartoonist thread. Mike Lester, not so much.
 
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Nate Powell’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Nate Powell, whose recent Swallow Me Whole has ended up on a number of year-end lists itself, gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Interiorae #3, Gabriella Giandelli
2. Don't Cry for Me and I'm Already Dead, Rebecca Sugar
3. The Lagoon, Lilli Carre
4. Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw
5. Monsters # 3, Ken Dahl
 
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If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Crime Does Not Pay #90

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Go, Look: Jason T. Miles Visits The Parisian Comics Shop Super Heros

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Go, Look: Kati Rickenbach

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Go, Look: WWII Heroes Site

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at this point in the history of the Internet, finding fan sites like this one feels like finding a box of old comics at a garage sale did in 1974
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the webcomics cartoonist Scott Kurtz will host the Harvey Awards, and if you're an industry professional in some way, you can fill out a nomination ballot. I encourage everyone to do so because it's a chore and as a chore those awards are more open to a few people influencing the voting for nominees.

image* although I'm not the biggest superhero guy, I admire the great runs and stand-alone stories of years past in that genre. I think Marvel's best serial comics were Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man as they arrived right out of the gate. While Fantastic Four peaked with that amazing run that included Galactus and the Inhumans and the Black Panther, Amazing Spider-Man never really hit the same kind of peak (although some people view the final Ditko issues that way). Rather Spider-Man enjoyed the longest quality run out of the gate of maybe any serial comic ever, combining a terrific concept and the most effective employment of Marvel's in-house attention to continuity in style and tone. The series may be a bit spotty issue to issue, but the best single comics are quite well-crafted (check out Peter's awesome head!) and the general arc works much better than you'd think as long-form soap opera. Valerie D'Orazio speaks fondly about the blend of romance and superhero action when that title was cooking.

* speaking of D'Orazio, she wrote about webcomics this week in terms of their being a publishing opportunity and Joey Manley disagrees.

* "I am the bag of sweets that DC, wrapped in a filthy mac, will be holding in their hand as the kids leave the cinema."

* the compiler of Best-Ofs Dick Hyacinth goes to the bookstore to check out some comics that people say are the best of 2008 that he hasn't yet read, and comes away basically declaring that many of you are completely nuts.

* finally, I would totally watch a Super-Nanny TV show starring Tony Millionaire.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Ramon Bernado!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Martial!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Buth!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Donald Glut!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Gerry Shamray!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Joseph Behe!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Antonio Eder!

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Happy 60th Birthday, William Messner-Loebs!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Jim Lawson!

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Quick hits
Craft
It's The Characters, Stupid
Mark Waid On Being An Editor
Craig Thompson Likes Tools Blog
Two Guys Talking About City Of Glass

History
Steven Grant On The Post-Superhero
Enough With The Shitty Obama Cartoons

Industry
Korean Industry Hits 100

Interviews/Profiles
Fleen: Brad Guigar
Pulse: Mike Dawson
Wizard: Dan Jurgens
Wizard: Grant Morrison
CBR: Marc Guggenheim
Newsarama: Lance Fensterman

Not Comics
Loki?
Matt Madden Shelf Porn
Book Publishing Is Gross

Publishing
Daily Cross Hatch Is Two
Looking At New Viz Titles
Johnny Bacardi Is Buying Marvels
President Awesome Debuts With Lots Of PR
Dean Haspiel Says Welcome To Webcomics

Reviews
Alex Carr: Top Ten
John Mitchell: Token
Patrick Berube: DMZ Vol. 6
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Jog: The Zombies That Ate The World #1
John Mitchell: Isadora Duncan - A Graphic Biography
Sandy Bilus: Waltz with Bashir: A Lebanon War Story
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Creating A Graphic Novel
 

 
February 18, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

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The only publishing news item that made it across my desk that I haven't handled elsewhere is James Owen's reminder earlier today that Scholastic/Grafix has made formal its announcement that they're putting together a book of Jeff Smith's and Charles Vess' Bone prequel Rose for publication this year. I guess that could have been announced earlier and I just forgot or missed it, but it's news to me. That should be lovely and sell like the dickens.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Webcomics Cartoonist Karen Ellis Loses Everything In Weekend Building Fire

imageVia Lea Hernandez, Gary Tyrrell and a host of others comes word that Karen Ellis, the cartoonist behind the on-line Planet Karen, was apparently forced from her home and lost everything in a fire that killed an upstairs neighbor. This apparently happened over the weekend. Those first two links have information on how to help through some sort of small financial donation to keep Ellis afloat while she adjusts to her new circumstance; the third link will take you to one of Ellis' pages where a donation button usually used for supporting her comics work can now be employed in a different manner. I ask that you consider joining me in making a small contribution. An auction on her behalf is in the planning stages.

if someone has a link to an outside news article on the fire itself, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
President Obama Will Kill You Dead

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Darryl Cagle couches his conversation of the cheery Mike Lester cartoon shown above in terms of whether or not young people will understand the reference, which is an interesting way to go. For me, this underlines the more general struggles that cartoonists have in staking out strong positions. It's entirely possible that Mike Lester thinks that the fervent belief many have in the current president will kill them dead the same way belief in Jim Jones meant the death of 918 in the rogue religious leader's Guyana compound. That's hardcore, but okay. Yet if he means anything else I'm not sure it even begins to get communicated through this kind of upsetting imagery. Ironically, like many things related to Jim Jones, it's hard to muster any criticism of this based on race.
 
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #21

* Tim Gagne was nice enough to pass along to a few comics bloggers this record of a case filed against Diamond Comics Distributor, Inc. et al seeking payment of lost monies. If you combine this with, say, Rich Johnston's reports of recent judgments against the company, and news that a move like the de-listing of Viz graphic novels was directed by Diamond rather than a mutual decision, and I think there may be more questions than answers for the comics distributing giant right now in terms of general strategic choices.

* speaking of Rich Johnston, he wrote a nice note to me yesterday clarifying a recent article section about my writing on Diamond and their new minimums. He said that he believed I was right about the fact that there other issues potentially in play, but wrong about Diamond in general. I thought he was saying that I was wrong about the other issues in play and therefore wrong about Diamond in general. Thanks, Rich.

* this PWCW article that provides results and anecdotes based on an informal survey of retailers as to the state of sales right now and their opinions of and attitudes towards the current economy may be less valuable as a comprehensive survey and more valuable for the individual snapshots. In this case, I think the article works best if you focus in on statements by Eric Thornton, owner of one of the country's five best comics stores of the last 25 years. Chicago is a great comics town for the same reason it's a great town for the arts in general: there's a sizable audience for art that's distinct from the makers and close followers of that art. I think that makes Chicago-related industry news that much more worth paying attention to.

* finally, Shannon Smith wrote in to agree with me about one facet of comics culture that could have been reformed and why that might have been a good idea once upon a time.
"This is the one exact thing that Borders and B&N got right when they were doing good business. Now, not to say anyone should be looking at them as a model for success but they did get that right and it is what kept the customers coming back. (Back when people had discretionary income.) The simple notion that the customer could depend on the store to either have or get what they wanted. It is this exact quality that has kept me loyal to my favorite stores from music to auto parts or even groceries. In my life I've only ever expected one or two comic shops to have what I want and I've never expected any comic shop to be able to order what I want if it was out of stock. Which probably is a big part of why almost all the graphic novels I've bought in the last 10 years were purchased at Borders, B&N or online. When I worked at Borders it was our philosophy that we would do anything to get the book the customer wanted. Special order, store transfer, buy out of print and even call the competition if necessary. Whatever we could do we would do. I've never once in my life had a comic shop try and track down anything that was not on their shelves. I don't think this was because the clerk did not care. On the contrary, some of these clerks were my friends. I just don't think they ever had the tools to make the effort even seem like a good idea. At Borders we had a few options and we exhausted all of them. The comic shops only have one option and it was exhausted before the clerk could even make the effort."
Again, I think this could have been a first step towards reform, and is notable right now not because it will ever happen but because this kind of industry standard seems totally irrelevant to the general direction comics shops may now be taking.
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Tom Neely’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The cartoonist and painter Tom Neely gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Inkweed, Chris Wright
2. Capacity, Theo Ellsworth
3. Danny Dutch, David King
4. Sammy the Mouse, Zak Sally
5. Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody, Mike Dawson
 
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Sean Delonas Probably Avoids Criticism From GLAAD With His Latest Cartoon

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Using one news story to comment on another, non-related story is a tried and true editorial cartoonist strategy, even for those who are frequently criticized by regional media watch groups for being aggressively critical of a certain group of human beings the way that Sean Delonas has been.

I couldn't tell if you this is a stupid cartoon, a purposefully racist one, a cynically racist one aimed to attract the attention of blogs like this one and newspaper articles like this one, a means of cultural provocation or what. Hell, I guess it could be as innocent as all get out. Who knows? I don't know. I do know it's a bad cartoon, it should have occurred to someone through whom this cartoon passed that the visual might have implications that would thwart its meaning, and that the only classy thing to do is go, "Oh my God! I'm so sorry!" As a fan of the form and a one-time newspaperman I deeply resent the collective, passive manipulation or shudder-inducing ignorance of the historical echos involved.

in case this cartoon makes your nerves as raw as mine, please know that the headline is a joke in that Delonas is known -- perhaps only known -- for cartoons that routinely draw the ire of GLAAD; the headline is NOT a suggestion that members of GLAAD or the organization itself are all like high-fiving about this cartoon or would be inclined to
 
posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
MK Reed’s Best Comics Of 2008

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MK Reed gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Skim, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
* I Kill Giants, Joe Kelly
* Skyscrapers of the Midwest, Josh Cotter
* Swallow Me Whole, Nate Powell
* Fluffy, Simone Lia
 
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Go, Bookmark: Hinted-At Michael Kupperman Blog Has Gone Live

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hooray!
 
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Still A Top Ten All-Time Comics Ad

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right up there with the Sea Monkeys, Robert Bell's psuedo-Thor ad, the Look Who's Smiling Now guy and the two tiny men advertisement that ran on the back of The Comics Journal
 
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Go, Look: ZIM In Judge Magazine

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Go, Look: New Copper Is Up

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Jeff Smith explains why the folks at Cartoon Books are glad that ICv2.com re-examined the way they were reporting a specific Bookscan list so that it included comics material for young people. The reconstituted list featured Bone prominently.

Something that should make a lot of folks sit up is that Smith states they're still selling 1500 to 2000 copies of the one-volume Bone each month and have sold 140,000 total. Given the size of the book and its availability in other formats, those numbers dropped my jaw for sure. Also, I think I can answer Smith's question as to why the 140k number shows up as 50k on those charts. Jeff, the reason those numbers show up in bizarre, haphazard fashion as it relates to the actual numbers is that those charts seem to do a routinely bizarre and haphazard job when it comes to measuring comics sales numbers. I don't know why that is, so I guess that's not much of an answer, but I can assure you this isn't an isolated phenomenon and it isn't something you're doing.

image* another massive and long-anticipated book drops, joining Yoshihiro Tatsumi's A Drifting Life: this time it's Humbug.

* the comics business news and analysis site has a succinct post up describing the deal by which Marvel has re-upped with Hasbro. In terms of the company's overall post-'90s bankruptcy success, Marvel's ability to forge amenable licensing deals with various category leaders and near-leaders has been the Dave Prater to the Sam Moore that is their success in movies.

* here's a nice report on Art Spiegelman's keynote address at the ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference some days ago now.

* I hadn't read anyone laying the blame for MAD's recent cutbacks as squarely at the feet of DC Comics as Glenn Hauman has here. I'm not sure if it's fair or not; I know very little about that specific situation. One thing struck me: I'm probably in a tiny minority on this, but one of the underlying issues in these MAD articles seems to be its value as a "brand." I'm not a surly teenager. I'm fine with the fact that these things have a kind of detachable, transferable value. However, what I personally find worthwhile about MAD is the magazine, not its brand. Does that make sense? Like if MAD were still going quarterly but they had a rockin' web site, or that TV show of theirs were still going and this time around was a humongous ratings hit instead of a solid performer, I would still feel the exact same sadness about the magazine going quarterly. I mean, I don't look at National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze at the video store and think "All right! An opportunity for further engagement with the magazine that brought me Shary Flenniken and Michael O'Donoghue!" Then again, maybe I'm just old.

* this article suggests that there may be issues with new terms being discussed for implementation by Facebook, basically as they extend to Facebook's potential ownership of original content.

* finally, Steve Duin's post about missing Eddie Campbell's blog posts made me laugh, because I also get sad and slightly worried when a cartoonist stops posting regularly, if only for a while, even though I should know better.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Kim Sook!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Uli Oesterle!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Mark Bode!

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Happy 79th Birthday, Gahan Wilson!

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Quick hits
Craft
It Softens The Image
John Barrowman On Comics Writing

Exhibits/Events
Sara Varon In Angouleme
Closed Caption Exhibit Report
ICv2.com Conference Report 01
ICv2.com Conference Report 02

History
Superman Vs. Clam
This Is From A Fun Superman Story

Industry
Mainstream Comics Need A Jack Hill

Interviews/Profiles
Pulse: Kyle Baker
PWCW: Matt Thorn
Newsarama: Paul Levitz
Chud.com: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Four Color Forum: Sammy Harkham

Not Comics
Dear Lord
Buy A Toy Of Umezz House

Publishing
DC Promo Plans After Watchmen

Reviews
This Is Funny
John Mitchell: Tamara Drewe
Sean T. Collins: MOME Vol. 4
Richard Bruton: Murphy's Law
Zak Edwards: Young Liars #12
Leroy Douresseaux: Ka Shin Fu
Don MacPherson: Batman #686
Kevin Church: Welcome To Hoxford
Ed Sizemore: Chronicles Of Some Made
Curt Purcell: I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets
Greg McElhatton: My Mommy Is In America And She Met Buffalo Bill
 

 
February 17, 2009


Michael Atchison, 1933-2009

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Michael Atchison, the long-time editorial cartoonist for the Adelaide Advertiser and the Sydney Daily-Mirror, died on Monday from complications due to cancer. Atchison passed away at the Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington. He was 75 years old.

Atchison was born in Victoria, Australia in 1933. He studied at King's College (1946-1950) and Adelaide University Teachers' College (1952-1954), and later received training at the South Australia School of Art. Atchison spent most of the 1950s as a teacher, concentrating on high school-aged art students. He also taught English and French.

Like many artists, Atchison found his first audience overseas. He moved to England in 1960 and spent the majority of that decade freelancing for publications such as the humor magazine Punch (where he also contributed covers) and the literary and political publication Time and Tide.

In 1967, Atchison returned to Australia and became a political cartoonist at the Sydney Daily Mirror. In 1968 he also began providing cartoons to the Adelaide Advertiser. A dog that he included in a 1974 cartoon to pee on a Jackson Pollock painting became his signature creation. The nameless creature frequently appeared in the bottom right-hand corner of Atchison's cartoons getting the last word. In the 1980s, Atchison co-organized an exhibition of modern cartoonist and held a convention in their honor. At the end of the decade, Atchison began a syndicated daily called Word For Word on English usage, which was syndicated internationally.

He also found work as a book illustrator, including the lovely Songs For My Dog and Other Wry Rhymes for the poet Max Fatchen.

In 2007, Atchison was inducted into the Order of Australia for his decades of service to that country's media. "I've never been in favor of awards for just doing your job and I was in two minds about accepting this gong -- but the dog kicked up so much fuss that I thought I'd better say 'okay' just to keep him quiet," he told the Advertiser in their article on the honor. That same year, he won the Jim Russell Award from the Australian Cartoonists Association.

Atchison entered into semi-retirement in the mid-1990s after being initially diagnosed with cancer. He moved into full retirement in early 2008 and declared that it was time for him to find a proper job. Word For Word will run until early May.

He is survived by a wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.
 
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Once More Around The Mulberry Bush

Two responses -- one direct, one not -- to issues of Diamond's shift in emphasis in 2009.

* the gossip columnist and creator Rich Johnston puts on display the strangest definition of "wrong" ever, when he agrees with my assumption that there could be other issues at work driving these moves beyond a four percent decline in business by providing examples of exactly what I'm suggesting.

Johnston further asks if I think it's important that Diamond survive. Of course I do. Diamond collapsing would be disastrous, both for the decimation to comics' infrastructure and the way it would lock up money in a system that's under-capitalized to begin with. But if that's what at issue, let's have that discussion, then, and not this low-key barrage of vaguely portentous press releases, deck-chair rearrangement and obfuscation. For a start, let's have some reconciliation on the idea that the elimination of items in which we're told relatively no one has any interest significantly helps solve problems hitting the part of the business that doesn't traffic in them. I don't get that. If Diamond and the DM is as sick as Johnston suggests, or is even at risk to the extent many people watching the general worldwide economy might guess, refining a system so that it excludes Crickets seems to me like the 49th of 50 moves you'd want to make. Where are the reforms that hit comics that people actually buy? If DC or Marvel or Diamond itself has wet the bed, why should Rick Veitch sleep on the floor? Who does that help?

In my original piece I expressed sympathy with Diamond. I want them to be a better business, too. I'm in no way a Diamond basher: I think in their period of dominance they've done many things surprisingly well, some things they've done well according to any standard. I just don't get these decisions. All I'm suggesting is that 1) strict minimums may not be the smartest way to engage in reform, but is in fact an easy way to do that and one that keeps with comics' archaic standard of "fairness" and perhaps even Diamond's lingering self-conception as one comics distributor among many. 2) These changes could have a drastic long-term effect much bigger than the immediate impact and in effect close a lot of doors and options forever. Forever. 3) They are taking place in a way that suggests either no Big Picture for the Direct Market or one that emphasizes a Big Picture that the Direct Market is in many ways ill-suited to fulfill. 4) The moves have been made too quickly. 5) Other options are available to them that accomplish many of the same goals.

* the retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs looks at the Chris Butcher's post on Viz having a huge swathe of their back catalog de-listed as less of a big deal, because those books don't sell. I don't think anyone who's pointed this out hasn't freely admitted that the books feeling the impact are marginally successful at best, irrelevant at worst. Butcher's post in particular is much less alarmist than even my own.

What I believe Butcher's argued and the point on which I think we find agreement is that it's yet another example of Diamond quickly and perhaps irrevocably shifting away from one model -- the traditional comic shop model, no less -- to another, vaguely defined one. It's weight loss with a chain saw. It's a winnowing of options with a risk of permanency. With the rise of other options for buying comics, I'm uncertain whether these are the wisest decisions, particularly long-term. Just because it's unlikely that a majority of comics stores would ever have become like The Beguiling or Comix Experience doesn't decrease my sorrow when that likelihood gains structural force to bolster its cultural and economic momentum. Just because the markets have been largely unable to support certain books doesn't mean I didn't hold out hope that it one day would, and that the DM could lead.

You know, I used to argue that if the Direct Market system would embrace reform, a first step could be to make it an industry-wide value whereby anyone could walk into any comics store and be able to receive accurate information about any comic and, if they wanted, order any comic still in print with a reasonable expectation to receive that book. Not only does this seem less likely than ever to happen, it appears increasingly beside the point of what the DM insists on becoming. Comics history is full of stories of late-comers and second chances. It breaks my heart to see comics shutting doors instead of keeping them slightly ajar.
 
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Jesse Reklaw’s Best Of 2008

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Cartoonist Jesse Reklaw gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Welcome to the Dahl House, Ken Dahl
2. Ganges #2, Kevin Huizenga
3. Manhole #3, Mardou
4. Capacity, Theo Ellsworth
5. Mome Vol 10-12, various
 
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 Glyph Awards Nominations

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The Glyph Comics Awards has released its list of nominees for their 2009 program. They are:

Story of the Year
* Bayou, Jeremy Love
* Incognegro, Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece
* Justice League of America: The Second Coming, Dwayne McDuffie and Ed Benes
* Pilot Season: Genius, Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and Afua Richardson
* Presidential Material: Barack Obama, Jeff Mariotte and Tom Morgan

Best Writer
* Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman, Pilot Season: Genius
* Mat Johnson, Incognegro
* Jeremy Love, Bayou
* Jeff Mariotte, Presidential Material: Barack Obama
* Dwayne McDuffie, Justice League of America

Best Artist
* Jamal Igle, Supergirl
* Jeremy Love, Bayou
* Warren Pleece, Incognegro
* Afua Richardson, Pilot Season: Genius
* Larry Stroman, Black Panther Annual #1

Best Male Character
* Black Lightning, Final Crisis: Submit (Grant Morrison and Matthew Clark and Norm Rapmund and Rob Hunter and Don Ho; created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden)
* Black Panther, Black Panther Annual #1 (Reginald Hudlin and Larry Stroman and Ken Lashley; created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
* Lwanga Moses, Unknown Soldier (Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli; inspired by the character created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert)
* The Spectre, Final Crisis: Revelations (Greg Rucka and Philip Tan and Jeff de los Santos and Jonathan Glapion; inspired by the character created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey)
* Zane Pinchback, Incognegro (Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece)

Best Female Character
* Destiny Ajaye, Pilot Season: Genius (Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and Afua Richardson)
* Lee Wagstaff, Bayou (Jeremy Love)
* Storm, X-Men: Worlds Apart (Christopher Yost and Diogenes Neves; created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum)
* Vielle, Fungus Grotto (Shatia Hamilton)
* Vixen, Vixen: Return of the Lion (G. Willow Wilson and Cafu; created by Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner)

Rising Star Award
* Jennifer Crute, Jennifer's Journal
* Damian Duffy and John Jennings, The Hole: Consumer Culture
* Charlie Goubile, Blackbird
* Starline X. Hodge, Candi
* Ashley Woods, Millennia War

Best Reprint Collection
* Aya of Yop City, Drawn & Quarterly
* Me and the Devil Blues V1, Del Rey
* Nat Turner HC, Abrams

Best Cover
* Final Crisis: Submit, Matthew Clark and Norm Rapmund and Richard Horie and Tonya Horie
* The Hole: Consumer Culture, John Jennings
* Pilot Season: Genius, Afua Richardson
* Unknown Soldier #1, Igor Kordey
* Vixen: Return of the Lion #1, Josh Middleton

Best Comic Strip
* Bayou, Jeremy Love
* Cafe con Leche, Charlos Gary
* Fungus Grotto, Shatia Hamilton
* "Jefferson Jacks" from Crankshaft, Tom Batiuk and Tony Isabella and Chuck Ayers
* The K Chronicles, Keith Knight

Fan Award for Best Comic
* Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #33-35, Christos Gage and Sean Chen and Sandu Florea
* Pilot Season: Genius, Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and Afua Richardson
* Presidential Material: Barack Obama, Jeff Mariotte and Tom Morgan
* Vixen: Return of the Lion, G. Willow Wilson and Cafu
* Young Avengers Presents #1, Ed Brubaker and Paco Medina

Judges are Valerie D'Orazio, Mathan Erhardt, Ed Mathews, Tim O'Shea and Elayne Riggs. The ballot for the Fan Award for Best Comic is now open at the website for the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC). The awards ceremony will be held on May 15 in Philadelphia. This is their fourth year.
 
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Mari Naomi’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Mari Naomi of Estrus Comics gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* The Bottomless Bellybutton, Dash Shaw
* The Wuvable Oaf, Ed Luce
* Jin & Jam # 1, Hellen Jo
* PS Comics 4, Minty Lewis
* Lulu & Mitzy Best Laid Plans, S. Eddy Bell
 
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Watching The Watchmen Watchers 05: Regional Screenings Should Begin Today

I'm probably not going to run many article on the Watchmen movie, but it occurs to me that the first I've heard about screenings indicated they'd start today and/or tonight, so informed advance word should start in tomorrow morning.

I know that's not comics, and weak not comics at that. But I thought I might give those of you given over to googling around for things like that a heads up.
 
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If I Were In El Paso, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Visiting Un Regard Moderne

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Go, Look: Missing = One Town

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Go, Look: The Monster From The Mound

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Go, Look: Evan Dorkin’s Animal Man

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I keep on forgetting to post this: Marc Weidenbaum has parted ways with Viz, and with him goes their plans for an original content line, at least for the time being. Weidenbaum has always struck me as a smart guy with a strong sense of what's excellent in comics and why, so no matter what happened that led to the departure I would consider this an overall loss for comics.

* great news: D&Q has copies of almost-certain book of the year candidate A Drifting Life, and it looks pretty darn gorgeous.

image* also really good news: details via interview on Yen Press' acquisition of Yotsuba&!. They'll do the remaining volumes (which I believe to be #s 6-8) and may look into re-doing the earlier volumes either by acquiring the existing English translations from ADV or, if I'm reading the interview correctly, doing another one of their own.

* David Brothers talks about Jack Kirby's use of diverse characters, and how the Captain America/Falcon friendship in the sometimes-maligned "Mad Bomb"-era Captain America felt like an actual friendship between peers instead of a superhero/sidekick situation or an icon/acolyte deal.

* not comics: it's like this blog post on the peak aesthetic eras for all the major sports was written for me. Or by me. I try to explain to people that the NFL in the 1960s and the NBA in the 1970s were absolutely superior in terms of the experience involved and the level of game play as you got to see it unfold in front of you, and it's nice to read someone agree with me. I'd probably disagree most extensively with his college basketball analysis, because I think the Golden Age is actually 1976-1985, with the Big Ten anchoring the first part of that run and the Big East anchoring the second part. Just look at some of those Final Four teams from the early '80s sometime. It's ridiculous.

* feel better, Etta Hulme.

* finally, although I understand the inherent difficulty of linking sales, there are a number of works being offered through Fantagraphics at discounted prices that you'll likely never see again. The two that jump out at me are Paul Ollswang's Doofer: Pathway to McEarth and Gerald Jablonski's Empty Skull Comics Volume One, two of my favorite comics publications ever and almost ruthlessly unmarketable in a modern sense.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Germano Bonazzi!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Pierre-Mony Chan!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Mathieu Lauffray!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Rando Ayamine!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Hiroaki Samura!

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Quick hits
Craft
Looking At A Single Panel

History
A Last Post On Youngblood
I Loved This Cover When I Was A Kid
Daryl Cagle Remembers Corky Trinidad

Industry
Go Buy Stuff From Evan Dorkin
Bill Kellogg Offers Self-Syndication Seminar

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: Dan Vado
CBR: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Daily Yomiuri: Naoki Urasawa
Comics Waiting Room: Mike Carey
McGill University: Diane Obamsawin
NYC Graphic Novelists: Bob Fingerman

Not Comics
Ban Comics Sans
All About Brussels
Presidents As Superheroes

Publishing
A New One From Johnny Ryan
Daily Cross Hatch Looking For Writers

Reviews
Chris Eckert: Various
Chris Butcher: Monster
Michael C. Lorah: Various
Hervé St-Louis: Thor #600
Hervé St-Louis: Titans #10
Jog: 20th Century Boys, Pluto
Hervé St-Louis: Batman #686
Rob Clough: Miss Don't Touch Me
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Jin and Jam #1
Henry Chamberlain: The Deformity
Nina Stone: X-Men Origins: Sabretooth
Hervé St-Louis: Amazing Spider-Man #586
Leroy Douresseaux: Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom Vol. 3
 

 
February 16, 2009


Corky Trinidad, 1939-2009

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Francisco Flores "Corky" Trinidad Jr., the long-time Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial cartoonist widely believe to be the first Asian editorial cartoonist working on a North American publication, died on Friday morning from complications due to pancreatic cancer. He was 69.

Trinidad was born in Manila in 1939, and earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Ateneo de Manila in 1960. His popularity at the Philippines Herald starting in 1961 attracted the attention of the comics syndicates. He began work at the Star-Bulletin in 1969, coming to that paper's attention through his Herald work and from a strip for Pacific Stars and Stripes called Nguyen Charlie. Beginning to feel the heat from Ferdinand Marcos because of critical cartoons, which may have eventually led to the cartoonist's imprisonment, Trinidad was grateful to relocate. (He would later publish a book about Marcos in 1986, Marcos: The Rise and Fall of a Regime.)

The move to Hawaii began a nearly four-decade relationship that only recently ended when the ailing cartoonist went on leave due to the cancer. Trinidad was popularly locally and also became the first widely-syndicated Asian editorial cartoonist in North America, his work showing up in publications such as Newsweek, USA Today, and the New York Times. His work also appeared in publications in the Philippines and throughout Europe.

Trinidad became a popular, ingrained aspect of the Star-Bulletin, and was called its public face upon his passing. His cartoons regularly appeared in the news section as opposed to the editorial page, making him perhaps the last North American editorial cartoonist that enjoyed this distinction. In fact, he did a color one for the news section and a black and white one for the editorial pages, putting him a rare group of prolific cartoonists able to handle more than offering on a publication day. He also taught, and for a time took on strip work in addition to his panels.

Trinidad would go on to win a number of regional awards for this work in the Star-Bulletin, and was put into the Hawaii Journalism Hall of Fame in 2005. He also syndicated two strips while in Honalulu, Zeus! and Aloha Eden, drawing on a love for mythology. He became a towering figure in Hawaii cartooning circles, both for his work and for teaching at the University of Hawaii.

He is survived by his wife, Hana, five children, two grandchildren, two brothers and a sister.

An official web site can be found here, with a cartoon on its front page that Trinidad complete a while ago in anticipation of his own passing.
 
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I Could Do This All Day

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thanks, Matthew Badham
 
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
On Not Seeing The Spinner Rack For The Individual Comic Book Issues

Chris Butcher brings to the front burner that in addition to its recent more celebrated moves such as raising item minimums and moving its adult catalog into an on-line iteration, Diamond Comics Distributor Inc. is dropping their enormous Viz backlist from the catalog altogether. I think if you combine this with their recent change in policy about reorder and offered/agains, Matt High has it right in the comments: this is less a single move (raising minimums) to better deal with outside economic pressure and more a series of strategic shifts to push the company's identity now and perhaps forever towards servicing new product.

I still find this troubling for all the reason I explained here, although the emphasis of that article might have changed if I had been smarter about how I processed the company's recent moves. I think this makes the speed of the moves that much more alarming. I don't understand what's driving the company to move this quickly unless it's fear, there are some outside financial factors involved, or they know about a game-changing move in the works at one of their suppliers. While this does push Diamond more towards a clear Big Picture identity along the lines of "we provide the newest comic books," I'm unconvinced that's the best one available to them and confused they felt they had to make such a choice right now. Emphasizing newer comics is a model with obvious limitations. You're emphasizing the comics delivery system that's the least profitable, the most poorly priced, and the most limited. It seems like the solution for the shopping habits of 20 years ago as opposed to the one developing as more and more people streamline the Internet into how they consume on all levels, all the primary buyers get another decade older and less likely to jump through hoops so they can acquiesce to weekly exploitation, and buyers in general pull away from certain kinds of consumption generally. I'm baffled.

I know that one can argue that all these moves do is better lock into place the general direction of that market for the last 10 or 20 years, that this simply makes more official an unofficial retail experience that's dominated that Market for years. But you know what? You can also argue that that's been an abusive relationship, that the historical decline is more important than the ups and downs and occasionally pumping for cash that takes place, and that continuing the strategy of maximizing profit by moving the most comics to the fewer buyers runs the greatest risk of those buyers finally abandoning you, if they haven't been already. It's as if Diamond is finally admitting that offering the widest variety of comics via an array of ordering options was a marginal game all along. Yet instead of coming to their senses and working to make those books less marginal to the underlying mission, treating a sudden interest in, say, Scott Pilgrim as an opportunity to give their clients another sales anchor as opposed to treating it like some unwelcome party crasher, they're moving to cut them off entirely. It reminds me of a Marvel sales presentation 14 years ago where the guys in charge in their crazy buying Fleer/Heroes World days talked with a straight face about how carrying comics other than those by Marvel made it too difficult for people to find their Marvels. In actuality, carrying things other than Marvel and DC is the only thing that kept me going to the comics shop, where I dropped thousands of dollars and where I also bought some Marvel Comics. I have almost no reason to go to a comics shop now. I may not have been the best customer, but I was an amenable one, happy to shop in someone else's clubhouse. I can't imagine there are a lot of stores out there that would directly choose to turn down my $2000 a year right now. Why is this decision being made for them? Is my place in the comics shop really being taken up by some guy who's buying more superhero comics now that I'm gone?

PS -- Someone just sent me this essay. I don't agree with all of the logic or assumptions on display, nor would I conclude the same thing. I am sympathetic to the general thrust.
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jamie S. Rich’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The writer Jamie S. Rich gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Local, Brian Wood & Ryan Kelley
* Skim, Mariko & Jillian Tamaki
* Tamara Drewe, Posy Simmonds
* Token, Alisa Kwitney & Joelle Jones
* The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite, Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba
 
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Another Cartoonist Loses Staff Position

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Rob Tornoe catches the story, which slipped by a few weeks ago with almost no media source taking notice. That may be due in some ways to the process involved. Apparently the entire editorial staff was fired and then reapplied for jobs, some moving into new positions. His last cartoon was January 20. Ironically, Tornoe's article noted that the Times had backed original content generation as a way to survive the economic maelstrom that is newspaper publishing right now. His work is still up here. Garner made headlines in 2005 for a cartoon depicting Pakistan as a dog.
 
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Sarah Morean’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Daily Cross Hatch contributor Sarah Morean gave the site a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. Comics on it were:

1. Far Arden, Kevin Cannon
2. Only Skin #3 (continuing series), Sean Ford
3. Children and God #2 (continuing series), Kelly Clancy
4. Lutefisk Sushi Volume C, Various Minnesota Cartoonists
5. Nurse Nurse #2 (continuing series), Katie Skelly
 
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Go, Read: The Heroes Of UK Comics

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Valentine’s Day Postings Round-Up

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David Lasky

*****

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Richard Thompson

*****

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Blog Flume

*****

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Stephanie Piro

*****

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Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Judith Zaugg

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com returns to its look at 2008 book sales figures and folds in numbers for kids and young adult titles.

image* Jesse Hamm has a nice, short review up regarding the quality of the expensive Jesse Marsh Tarzan volumes. It's the first review I can remember seeing. I always liked the way Marsh's stuff looked.

* intellectual property, copyrights and trademarks 101

* not comics: Valentine's Day at White Castle. (via)

* jack-of-all-trades and master of several Tom Devlin over at Drawn and Quarterly draws attention to Ron Rege's writings on his latest work.

* the prominent blogger and cartoonist Mike Lynch writes about not letting people use his work without paying him first. A lot of people feel the way Lynch does, they just don't say so out loud for fear of looking ungrateful or out of touch. I think it's totally up to the cartoonist how they approach what they charge and for which pieces and in what context, and no one gets to decide for them.

* finally, I'm not sure how this hero history of Dr. Strange's masked superhero period got into my bookmarks, but it's a cute article. I remember when I was a kid being struck by how horrible it seemed to be to go from not having to wear a mask to wearing one that fits tight over your head. I always hated wearing hats when it was cold out, so I'm sure that played into it.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Tim Bradstreet!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Luc Vincent!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Masaya Hokazono!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Len Strazewski!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Warren Ellis!

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Happy 51st Birthday, John Totleben!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Ben Westervoorde!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Bill Williams!

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Quick hits
Craft
The First Avenger
The Rejected Gag Made Me Laugh

History
Boy Visits DC Offices
Top 10 Comics Romances
More On Liefeld's Image Work

Industry
50 Cent Bin Ditko
This Also Made Me Laugh

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Michael Avon Oeming, Taki Soma

Not Comics
Newspapers Doomed
Tales Of The Black Freighter Trailer

Publishing
Farscape Boom's #1
New Amazing Facts...
Laura Hudson Loves Finder
Archie's Battle Of The Bands
Ben Rosen At Daily Cross Hatch
Savage Critics Adds New Critics
Daily Cross Hatch Wants Your Strips

Reviews
Chris Sims: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
Andy Frisk: Eternals #8
Sean T. Collins: Sulk Vol. 2
Douglas Wolk: Batman #686
Greg McElhatton: Soul Kiss #1
Andy Frisk: Essential Daredevil Vol. 1
Andy Frisk: Essential Daredevil Vol. 2
Leroy Douresseaux: Kekkaishi Vol. 16
Don MacPherson: Crogan's Vengeance
Richard Bruton: Vampire Free Style #4
Avi Weinryb: Green Lantern Corps #33
Paul O'Brien: X-Men Origins: Sabretooth
Paul O'Brien: Wolverine: Manifest Destiny
Koppy McFad: Legion of Superheroes #50
Leroy Douresseaux: Millennium Darling 2006
 

 
February 15, 2009


Things I Hadn’t Seen Or Had Somehow Forgotten: Inside L’Association HQ

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Things I Hadn’t Seen Or Had Somehow Forgotten: The Realist Archive Project

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wow
 
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Things I Didn’t Know Or Had Somehow Forgotten: Alan Moore Wrote Fumetti

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If I Were In SF, I’d Go To This

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posted 6:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #151—High Bidder

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Items Not Primarily Weapons That Only Exist In Comics You'd Bid For Were They To Magically Appear On eBay." Here are their responses.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Twitch City on Vinyl
2. Mr. Mind's Radio
3. The Wilber Webb collection
4. Legion Flight Ring
5. Harmonica Played By Rick Jones On Gamma Bomb Testing Site

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. The championship belt from whatever fed it is Rena Titanon wrestled for. I don't think she owns her belt, otherwise I'd just say Rena's belt.
2. The Complete "Dangers of Ivan/Horrors of Ivan" T.V. series on DVD
3. A year's subscription to the Daily Bugle
4. One of the Puppet Master's Thing marionettes
5. Reed and Sue's wedding album

*****

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Uriel A. Duran

1) Joker fish taxidermy mount
2) Clothes made of unstable molecules
3) Full set of Hoi Poi Capsules
4) Signed copy of 'My Little Chickadee' novel
5) Old Daily Planet newspapers featuring Superman in the front page

*****

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Eric Knisley

1. Thor's helmet
2. Two-face's coin
3. One of Frank's mummies
4. Willie Lumpkin's mailbag
5. Maggie's big ol' wrench

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1 - Barnaby's magic purple crayon
2 - Herbie's super-rare cinnamon lollipop
3 - Buck Roger's personal anti-gravity unit
4 - Rip Hunter's time machine
5 - An unlimited pass aboard Galaxy Express 999

*****

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Jamie Cosley

1. Mr. Spook's fork
2. Groo's swords
3. Jughead's hat
4. An original Just'a Lotta Animals page by Roger Rabbit
5. an official Poohawk feather

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Raul the Cat's gloves
2. Mr. X's Glasses
3. Animal Man's jacket
4. the dinosaur from the Bat Cave
5. the Shade's Journal

*****

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Richard Pachter

1. Slice of preserved birthday cake from Superboy's Smallville farewell party.
2. Mxyzptlk's derby
3. Giant key to Fortress of Solitude
4. Peter Parker's test tubes and chemistry set.
5. Flash's ring (with costume, natch).

*****

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Scott Cederlund

1) Spider-Man's web shooters
2) The Thing's module of the Fantastic Four's Fantasti-car
3) Barry Allen's Flash ring
4) Scott Pilgrim's bass guitar
5) Jack Knight's goggles

*****

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John Vest

1. Doctor Strange's Eye of Agamotto
2. A Fantastic Four belt buckle that opened the elevator door
3. Dick Tracy's wrist TV
4. Mr. Natural's beany cap that he wore in Hup
5. Thor's norn stones from The Trial Of The Gods

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. A copy of The Daily Bugle that ran the very first (but certainly not the last) anti-Spider-Man editorial by J. Jonah Jameson.
2. A preserved, under class, piece of cake doled out to all town-members by Superboy on his final day in Smallville.
3. The glass doorknob Tubby Tompkins repeatedly --and unsuccessfully--tried to pawn off as a crystal ball to Lulu Moppet.
4. The Beatles wig The Yancy Street Gang bestowed upon The Thing.
5. The outfit Chuck wore as The Listener during "The NEW Blackhawk Era" (I need some new pajamas, y'see...).

*****

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Mike Lynch

1. The Fantasticar (This should be on EVERYONE's list!)
2. Mr. O'Malley's Magic Havana Cigar
3. Happy Hooligan's tin can hat
4. A tadpole in a pickle jar of water in a tiny perambulator (ala Pogo, natch!)
5. One of those "flying trashcans" from Dick Tracy

*****

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Ben Towle

* Buddy Bradley's Kaz-designed truck (AKA: "The Polio-Mobile")
* The Sea Hag's magical flute
* The "Frost Axe" LP from "Black Metal"
* The Rocketeer's jet pack
* A Dagwood sandwich actually assembled by Dagwood

*****

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David Jones

1. The debut album by the First Million Megaton Explosion (Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #11)
2. The debut album by the Soular System (Bunny #7)
3. Madame Xanadu's tarot deck
4. The Shadow's girasol ring
5. The Phantom Stranger's groovy medallion

*****

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James C. Langdell

1. A Shmoo or two
2. Junior Woodchucks Handbook
3. Shoes worn by Don Martin characters
4. A saxophone-like instrument from Ylum
5. A square yard of blue outing flannel guaranteed to be as comforting as Linus's

*****

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Shannon Smith

1. A Mother Box.
2. Kevin Matchstick's green card for infinite atm machine cash.
3. THB
4. King Mob's crazy ass mask head dress thing.
5. One of Superman's robots. Ya know. Just to keep the fortress tidy.

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Barry Allen's Flash ring (with costume)
2. Case of Gingold soft drink
3. Kryptonian baby blankets (set of three)
4. Reflections: A Collection of Essays and Speeches, by Princess Diana of Themyscira [the book Wonder Woman wrote near the beginning of Greg Rucka's tenure]
5. A Hicycle

*****

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Adam Mix

1. Jimmy Corrigan's Superman Sweater
2. Aunt May's Wheat Cake Spatula
3. Jimmy Olsen's Bowtie Collection
4. Krypto's Dog Collar
5. Reed Richards' Pipe

*****

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Dave Knott

* Arumbaya fetish
* Scarface ventriloquist's dummy
* Click! remote control
* Daigoro's baby cart
* A Rube Goldberg device

*****

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Adam Casey

1. The "Bizarro No. 1" medallion
2. The Death Note
3. Tony Stark's liquor cabinet
4. The Bottle City of Kandor
5. Tick's Viewmaster.

*****

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Vito Delsante

1. Gingold (the Elongated Man's stretchy formula)
2. Any article of clothing made with Unstable Molecules
3. Pseudoderm and a belt that has binary gas
4. A carton of milk with Hopey Glass' picture on it
5. the boxing gloves Ted Grant wore when he won the world heavyweight championship (but not the ones that were doctored to kill his mentor)

*****

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Gerry Alanguilan

1. The Arumbaya Fetish
2. Kurt Wagner's Image Inducer
3. Any painting by Peter Rasputin
4. A piece of shredded purple Hulk pants.
5. Kryptonite

*****

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Mauricio Matamoros

1. Reed Richards Universal Translator (or something like that)
2. Shade's Anjelica Huston
3. Rorschachs mask
4. Octopus gloves
5. Spider Jerusalem's Bowel disruptor

*****

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Jess Harvell

1.) An Ape Sex recording.
2.) Kaneda's bike.
3.) Calvin's transmogrifier.
4.) An actual "Fight or Run" video game (ideally for the Wii).
5.) One of those hallucinogenic tubers that grew on Swamp Thing's back. (Probably need a creative description to sneak this one past eBay's T.O.S.)

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Ape Sex T-Shirt
2. Gyro Gearloose's Helper
3. Ma Hunkle's Helmet
4. Woodstock's hockey stick
5. Cosmic Cube -- I'd choose "buy it now"

*****

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Danny Ceballos

* The Sandman's bag of sand
* Errata Stigmata's scarf
* Ed The Happy Clown's false nose
* Dr. Millmoss' fedora
* Marlys' eyeglasses (so I could return them to her)

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. WEBS: Peter Parker's coffee table book of Spider-Man photographs (signed by the author).
2. A page of original art from Steve Rogers' run on CAPTAIN AMERICA. A vivacious line, coupled with an almost forensic eye for detail lifts this work above the sub-Kubert journeymanism of HOWARD THE HUMAN.
3. Bumblebee.
4. A 2001-vintage leather jacket as worn by staff and students at Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters.
5. A homemade handbound edition of the complete TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER.

*****

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Russell Lissau

1 Vigilante's goggles
2 The Crow's boots
3 The Authority's Carrier
4 Grave's case (from 100 Bullets -- not the gun/bullets inside, but the case itself)
5 An Umbrella Academy logo jersey

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Orion's Flying Harness
2. Jimmy Olsen's Elasti-Serum
3. The Giant Penny from the Batcave
4. The Wildwood Cemetery window treatments
5. The Minstrel's lute from Groo

*****

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Jean-Paul Jennequin

1. Hollis Mason's book "Under The Hood"
2. Robby Reed's H Dial
3. The Cosmic Cube
4. Dr Doom's Time Travel machine (or any Time Travel machine out of comics as long as it works)
5. A batch of Super-Goof's peanuts

*****

thanks to all that participated. My apologies to those who riffed on the question or provided extra/unclear answers; I love to read them, but if I post them people will use them as "legal" arguments the next time they want to post something I don't like as much. Those kinds of arguments ruin this for me, so whatever I can do to avoid them, I will.

*****
*****
 
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First Thought Of The Day

There should be a word for movies that you thought were still going to come out in the theaters showing up on DVD.
 
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February 14, 2009


CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 7 to February 13, 2009:

1. Major arrests in last summer's Danish cartoons-inspired bombing of Denmark's embassy in Islamabad.

2. NYCC enjoys 15 percent surge in attendance.

3. David Cohen's odd Obama cartoon brings with it a small dollop of criticism.

Winner Of The Week
NYCC

Loser Of The Week
My weekend. Thanks, Diamond.

Quote Of The Week
"This game of ours always began the same. Dad would draw a picture of Ziggy happily strolling along, unaware of some horrible misfortune about to befall him. Ziggy might be zooming off a cliff, walking unknowingly into an open manhole, or oblivious to a meteor plummeting head-on his way. After Ziggy had been drawn into one of these dire circumstances, Dad would flip the placemat around, hand me his pen, and say, 'Tommy, it's time for you to SAVE ZIGGY!" -- Tom Wilson, Jr.

this week's imagery comes from one of the great underground comix
 
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If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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February 13, 2009


Happy Valentine’s Day

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also, a short message from Eli Kochalka, age 5
 
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Friday Distraction: Akira Odagiri

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Second Verse, Same As The First?

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I don't remember all of the publishing aims involved with Round Two of Viz's "Let's stuff the shelves with groups of Naruto books at a time for few months" move. I'm guessing that while Round One was about moving the magazine and volume-by-volume serialization to a more popular point in the series Round Two is about catching the series with the Japanese release, but I honestly don't know. Still, I have to imagine that new that the series volumes 34-37 all ended up on the USA Today chart reasonably clustered together has to be good news for that company.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Nate Beeler Honored For Berryman Win

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Newspaper industry bible Editor & Publisher reports that Nate Beeler was honored for winning the 2008 Clifford K. Berryman and James T. Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning, as announced last Fall. This is notable in that a) it's a significant honor, and b) I believe Beeler is younger than 30 years old, with what seems like a bright future ahead of him.

they're calling it 2008, so I will as well
 
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Here’s Another Good Angouleme Photo Set

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A few folks wrote in to ask if there were any other photo sets out there as fun to look at as Alvin Buenaventura's. There's not one that I've seen in terms of exactly what might specifically interest a North American fan -- and Alvin had a monopoly on Crumb -- but I greatly enjoyed this one by the Metabunker folks, too.
 
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
President Obama Is The New Wolverine

So apparently the President Obama/Spider-Man team-up sold over 300,000 copies and, conceivably, may have sold tens of thousands of copies more outside of Direct Market channels. I just wanted to make note of this with its own post. If you consider the fact that many fans and some stores felt the issue was underordered in the places they chose to shop for it, that's an astonishing successful stunt offering. It's good to have stunt offerings hit right when the economy starts running around and punching small businesses in the kidneys with greater than ever intensity.

Also, I think if he turns out to be a resilient commander-in-chief, President Obama should be discussed in terms of having a healing factor.
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Johnny Ryan’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The great Johnny Ryan gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Tokyo Zombie, Yusaku Hanakuma
* Powr Mastrs, CF
* Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby, Takashi Nemoto
* Berserk, Kentaro Miura
* Boy's Club, Matt Furie
 
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Collective Memory: NYCC 2009

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning New York Comic-Con, held February 6 to February 9, 2009 at the Javits Center in New York City.

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

*****

Institutional
* City
* Convention
* Site of Show

Audio
* 11 O'Clock Comics Podcast

Blog Entries
* 1Up

* A Comic Affair 01
* A Comic Affair 02
* A Comic Affair 03
* Apple Gazette
* All Ages Graphic Novels
* Aquaman Shrine
* A Quick Minus World
* ArtOrder 01
* ArtOrder 02
* ArtOrder 03
* At The Edge Of The Omniverse

* BelkisNYC
* Ben Price
* Big Picture Big Sound
* Blast Magazine
* Bookspot Central 01
* Bookspot Central 02
* Bookspot Central 03
* Bookspot Central 04
* Bryan Lee O'Malley

* Capt'n Eli 01
* Capt'n Eli 02
* Capt'n Eli 03
* Capt'n Eli 04
* Capt'n Eli 05
* Capt'n Eli 06
* Chris Butcher 01
* Chris Word
* Cinemaocity
* Cinematical
* Comics Independent Study
* Co-Optimus
* Critic Cinema
* Crivelliman 01
* Crivelliman 02
* Crivelliman 03

* David Scroggy at Dark Horse
* Daily Cross Hatch
* David Pepose
* Destructoid

* Elysian Earth
* Encephalo Ray 01
* Encephalo Ray 02
* Encephalo Ray 03
* Evan Dorkin

* Fictions
* First Showing
* Fistfight At The Art House
* Fleen

* gagglefrak
* Galleycat
* Gamespot
* Game Trailers
* geekpron
* Geeks Of Doom 01
* Geeks Of Doom 02
* GenX Comics 01
* GenX Comics 02
* GenX Comics 03
* GenX Comics 04
* GenX Comics 05
* GenX Comics 06
* GenX Comics 07
* GenX Comics 08
* Good Comics For Kids 01
* Good Comics For Kids 02
* Good Comics For Kids 03
* Graphic Fiction
* guingel 01
* guingel 02
* guingel 03

* hctor
* Hikig.com

* ifanboy
* Infoblog

* Japanator
* Jay Piscopo 01
* Jay Piscopo 02
* Jay Piscopo 03
* Jay Piscopo 04
* Jay Piscopo 05
* Jay Piscopo 06
* J. Caleb Mozzocco
* Jeff Parker 01
* Jeff Parker 02
* Jeff Parker 03
* Jimmy Aquino
* Joe Jerome
* Joe Shuster Awards 01
* Joe Shuster Awards 02
* Joe Shuster Awards 03
* Jordan D. White
* Joystiq
* Justin Simonich

* Kevin Church
* Kotaku

* Lazlo's Closet

* MacBlips
* Marty Devine's MAD World
* Marvel.com
* Matt Dentler
* Mediabistro.com
* Misanthropy Central
* MTV Multiplayer

* New Age Comics With Andrenn
* New York News
* Nina Stone
* Non-Productive

* Occasional Superheroine
* Omnicomic
* Openlygeek.com

* Panels Of Awesome
* Perezstart

* Robot 6
* Robot World

* Sci Fi Scanner
* Scott Kurtz
* SM Vidaurri
* Socially Superlative 01
* Socially Superlative 02
* Subatomic Brain Freeze

* Ten Ton Hammer
* That Videogame Blog
* The Beat Index
* The Cool Kids Table
* The Quarter Bin
* The Review Zoo
* The SJ to NYC Journal 01
* The SJ to NYC Journal 02
* The Truth Of Fiction 01
* The Truth Of Fiction 02
* Total Blam Blam
* Toycyte

* vg247

* Wraithfodder

* Zena Metal

Miscellaneous
* Cheap Ass Gamer Forums

* Facebook Events Page

* MySpace Page

News Stories and Columns
* Ace Showbiz

* CBR Interview With Lance Fensterman
* CBR's Massive Round-Up Of Site Links
* CNet

* First Showing

* ICv2.com: Optimistic Mood In GN Survey
* IGN.com Index
* io9 Index

* Newsarama's Massive Round-Up Of Site Links
* New York Press
* New York Times

* Paste
* PW

* Splash Page 01
* Splash Page 02
* Splash Page 03
* Splash Page 04
* Splash Page 05
* Splash Page 06

* TSSZ News 01
* TSSZ News 02
* TSSZ News 03
* TSSZ News 04
* TSSZ News 05
* TSSZ News 06
* TSSZ News 07
* TSSZ News 08

* USA Today

Photos
* Action Figure Insider

* Capt'n Eli
* Capt'n Eli 02
* Chris Butcher
* Cindy
* cmwnyc
* ComingSoon.net

* Electronic Designers

* Gary Dunaier
* Geekanerd 01
* Geekanerd 02
* Geniusboyfiremelon

* Kendall Whitehouse

* lordrexfear

* Metal Lungies
* Muckster

* Negative Pleasure

* Oliver 62

* PC Magazine

* The Private Universe
* The World's Best Ever

* Wrixel

* Zander Cannon

A Few Twitter Feeds You Might Follow During Course Of Show
* Comics212
* Heidi MacDonald
* Kelly Sue DeConnick
* Kevin Church
* Kiel Phegley
* Lance Fensterman
* Matt Fraction

Video
* Cap'n Eli
* Chip Kidd With Salon

* Piffman2

* Video Round-Up

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Tony Millionaire’s Best Of 2008

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Tony Millionaire gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Klassic Komix Klub, Johnny Ryan
* Comics Are For Idiots, Johnny Ryan
* Angry Youth Comics #14, Johnny Ryan
* The New Character Parade, Johnny Ryan
* Misery Loves Comedy [2nd Edition], Ivan Brunetti

You need to read the actual entry for the joke, however.
 
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If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Black Jack

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Go, Look: Multiple Horror Comics

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Go, Look: Dwight Howard Dunks Back

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I'd buy the League Pass package if Jameer Nelson occasionally dressed up like Jimmy Olsen
 
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Go, Look: Super Constellation

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this article in the Chicago Reader refers to articles and opinions that have been heavily linked-to here in the past few weeks, and the upshot that alt-weekly comics are doomed should also be familiar. A point I hadn't seen made elsewhere is that papers are saving so little money by doing this that it's amazing they've bothered making the cuts.

image* I'm enjoying these new Darryl Cunningham pages.

* I can't remember who sent me the link, but this dive into the particulars of Top Shelf's translation of the adaptation AX is quite fun.

* this is a very, very sizable interview with Garen Ewing.

* I knew I liked that David Welsh guy. He agrees with me that Steve Gerber is the best candidate for the Mad Ideas School of Comics Writing progenitor.

* finally, one of Walter Isaacson's friends needs to tackle him and sit on him until the publicity cycle passes for his new, awful article on how to save newspapers. As Bill Randall suggests, Isaacson's gut-wrenchingly horrible as an advocate for newspapers, the kind of person that through a general disconnect with the specifics of his subject matter makes the situation he describes seem 10 billion times more concretely damning than if he'd never entered the discussion. Not only are micropayment plans not really on any serious person's table as a mechanism that would save newspapers, the vague suggestion of the same was kicked to the curb a decade ago. It makes Isaacson sound desperate in exactly the way that Randall says he does, and makes the print magazine that bought the article seem like it's an out of touch dinosaur, too. I do think we may see some creative re-examination of old models in the next half-decade, but that specific one is not up to the task of saving the newspapers. Not at all. And we are so far beyond noodling around vague solutions at this point it's not funny.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Dan Christensen!

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Happy 79th Birthday, Sergio Asteriti!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Serge Ernst!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Hakon Aasnes!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Vincent Deporter!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Chris Duffy!

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Quick hits
Craft
Mike Lynch Sketch Comics 01
Mike Lynch Sketch Comics 02

Exhibits/Events
Adrian In Angouleme
Western Mass. Event Imminent

History
No Maggie and Hopey?
Captain Kirk Vs. Dracula

Industry
Family's Perpetual Sale

Interviews/Profiles
du9: Dash Shaw
Inkstuds: Jason Lutes
CBR: Brendan McGinley
Panel Borders: Adrian Tomine
Comic Book Club: Bryan Lee O'Malley

Not Comics
Awww
J. Caleb Mozzocco Shelf Porn
I Had Nic Cage In The Bugfuck Pool

Publishing
This Looks Nice
A FCBD Book Previewed
Why I Killed Peter Previewed
She Loves Anticipating Comics
Frank Santoro Endorses BodyWorld

Reviews
Gabe Bullard: '08
Michael May: Paris
Sean T. Collins: Sulk Vol. 1
Matthew Brady: Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5
Leroy Douresseaux: Hero-Heel Vol. 3
Greg McElhatton: Faces Of Evil: Cobra
Johanna Draper Carlson: Watching the Watchmen
 

 
February 12, 2009


Not Comics: There Was No Greater American Than Henry Highland Garnet

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"It is in your power so to torment the God cursed slaveholders that they will be glad to let you go free. If the scale was turned, and black men were the masters and white men the slaves, every destructive agent and element would be employed to lay the oppressor low. Danger and death would hang over their heads day and night. Yes, the tyrants would meet with plagues more terrible than those of Pharaoh. But you are a patient people. You act as though you were made for the special use of these devils. You act as though your daughters were born to pamper the lusts of your masters and overseers. And worse than all, you tamely submit while your lords tear your wives from your embraces and defile them before your eyes. In the name of God, we ask, are you men? Where is the blood of your fathers? Has it all run out of your veins? Awake, awake; millions of voices are calling you! Your dead fathers speak to you from their graves. Heaven, as with a voice of thunder, calls on you to arise from the dust." -- An Address To The Slaves Of The United States, 1843
 
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So Why Didn’t People Read This Comic?



That bit with the bullhorn still cracks me up. More here.
 
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Not Comics: I Have Really Got To Start Phoning My Brother Whit More Often

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That's him on the left; he takes most of the photos for this site. Depending on where you work, perhaps nsfw.
 
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Congratulations To Dash Shaw On The Conclusion Of BodyWorld’s Serialization

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I say that not because Shaw is the first cartoonist ever to complete a serialized work, or even to put it on-line, but because this one is very good and this post will hopefully serve as a reminder you can go read the whole thing now.
 
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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #20

* longtime industry editor Jennifer de Guzman manages to craft one of the more hopeful essays yet about the ability of comics to happen upon content as a way to negotiate rough economic times in the same post she mentions her hours at SLG have been cut back 40 percent. This is the first mention I can remember of a economy-related move at one of the traditional indy- or alt- comics publishing houses, although I'm probably just forgetting something.

* linkmaster Dirk Deppey caught something I sure didn't: the dissolution of Bowen Publishing at HarperCollins would seem to cast some doubt about the future vitality of a planned graphic novel line.

* the generally webcomics-focused Gary Tyrrell provides more information about the Assetbar method of creating exclusive site content, how its billing works, and who's had success with it so far.
 
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Go, Look: Alvin Buenaventura’s Flickr Set From Angouleme Festival 2009

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I've seen a lot of convention photo sets; this is a great one
 
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Follow Up On Cohen Obama Cartoon

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It looks to me like any controversy over David Cohen's odd and perhaps alarming choice of comparison strategies in the above political cartoon published Monday in the Asheville Citizen-Times may be relegated to comics boards, political blogs and local sites -- and not many if any of those. Cohen talks about his aims in the comments threads here. I just think it's a bad cartoon with unfortunate implications, and bad cartoons certainly happen. I'm still surprised the editor didn't pipe up, and I have a pretty low opinion on editors piping up.
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Joe Matt’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The great Joe Matt gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Little Orphan Annie Vol. 1, Harold Gray
2. Popeye Volume 3, E.C. Segar
3. The Explainers, Jules Feiffer
4. Kirby Reprints, Jack Kirby
5. Good-Bye, Yoshihiro Tatsumi
 
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Dash Shaw’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Dash Shaw, who two major works for 2008 will make many a best-of list themselves, gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Travel, Yuichi Yokoyama
* Million Year Boom, Tom Kaczynski (from Mome 11)
* Wet Moon 4, Ross Campbell
* Powr Mastrs 2, CF
* Acme Novelty Library #19, Chris Ware
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I Need Something With An Elf In It

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Is there a resource out there with serious reviews of contemporary fantasy fiction? Like is there a Jog somewhere for the Lynch/Rothfuss/Clarke generation of writing humongous novels? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 6:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Follow Up On MoCCA Festival 2009 Exhibitor Information Being Delayed

The exhibitor applications and guidelines are up on the site right here. There had been some concerns expressed last month that these were a long time in being put up.
 
posted 6:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Olga Volozova At Partyka

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Go, Read: The Girl Of The Moonpool

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Go, Look: More Virgil Partch

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Go, Look: Dear Rudy Fernandez

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thanks, Eric Reynolds
 
posted 6:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the comics business and news analysis site ICv2.com reports that Top Shelf is going to print 75,000 copies of their first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 3: Century Part 1, the first of three books in this volume. I liked the advance that's making the rounds, and I hope they sell a ton.

* kudos to Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics for criticizing BEA's potentially permanent move to NYC, both from a quality of show aspect and the fact that in a way it bizarrely rewards the unfortunate recent business decisions of big corporations. I still think the key problem is that the big publishers want a kind of publicity boost from the show that that show isn't really structurally set up to provide.

image* the writer Steven Grant writes an obituary for the Mad Ideas school of comic book writing. Doesn't Gerber get the credit for this school? Final Crisis reminded me of the Congress of Realities stuff in Adventures Into Fear more than maybe any comic that came out between the two.

* the general idea of reforming the current comics industry to better serve girls that want to read can be problematic -- for example, it suggests an aggregate taste that doesn't always describe everyone such a strategy might be expected to reach -- but this is a fine expression of that set of thoughts.

* similarly, I'm skeptical of articles that look at comics through the prism of saving them, or bringing people to a cause, but this piece seems to suggest that the new Kindle may not be the way to read graphic novels, which is probably important to note.

* over at The Beat, Heidi MacDonald writes on last weekend's New York Comic-Con and discusses encountering a webcomic with which she was unfamiliar and its creators.

* Leigh Walton has some thoughts up on my recent essay criticizing Diamond's raising minimums: here and here. He raises a fair question or two, but I think he misses the point. I wasn't trying to make an unassailable case for alternative comics as the one true way. I'm suggesting their value in and of themselves. Nor did I ever come close to suggesting that there aren't other ways to make great comics. I'm a strip guy and I know plenty of people that have wonderful and satisfying interactions with the comics art form that don't have any interest in any alternative or underground comic, period. (I also know people who come at comics solely from expressions like webcomics and mini-comics.) What I'm criticizing is moving away from a fruitful way of doing comics and making art and developing artists in order to better maximize the dollar in the short term -- judging a system of delivery by the fruits of the tremendous, dysfunctional version of it that's been created and then all but consigning it to the ash heap of history because Diamond lacks the corporate value system and institutional discipline to manage its excesses. I'm sure great comics will survive, and I'm as confident as Leigh Walton that many people will continue to do comics in a variety of forms. I'm just not convinced that the move away from comics pamphlets was an historic inevitability, or is the most desirable outcome. As for what specific comics will feel the impact of the policy change, we simply don't know yet.

* finally, WonderCon 2009 has its programming schedule up, and it seems like there's a lot of potentially interesting stuff there.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Giner Bou!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Judd Winick!

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Happy 77th Birthday, Ignacio Justo!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Christophe Alves!

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Happy 39th Birthday, T. Edward Bak!

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well, it's either today or December 2
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Antonella Platano!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Leo Timmers!

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Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Of Course Kids Love Seth
Andy Ristaino At The Boutiki
Go See Liza Donnelly and Michael Maslin

History
On Badrock
Sex In The Comics
Captain Kirk Vs. Frankenstein
This Site Says I'm A Puce Lantern

Industry
He Loves Talking About Comics

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jeff Parker
Graphic NYC: Al Jaffee
Mania.com: Simon Jones
Daily Herald: Howard Tayler
Mediabistro.com: Danny Fingeroth
Graphic Novel Reporter: Dean Motter
Sparkplug Comic Books: Olga Volozova

Not Comics
Always A Favorite
Book Publishing Is Gross
Jog Has New Movie/TV Column
Frank Santoro Loves Pittsburgh
Neil Gaiman's Kindle Argument Summary

Publishing
This Looks Nice
Cover For Bite Me!
Lesbian Batwoman Really Just Batwoman

Reviews
Brian Heater: '08
Brian Hibbs: Various
Matthew Brady: Various
Steve Duin: Scalped #25
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Rob Vollmar: Phoenix: Karma
Chris Mautner: The Big Skinny
Leroy Douresseaux: 20th Century Boys Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #3
Richard Bruton: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1-3
Michael C. Lorah: Zot! The Complete Black and White, 1987-1991
 

 
February 11, 2009


I Imagine This One Might Not End Well

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That's David Cohen in I believe Monday's Asheville Citizen-Times. Luckily, I have a computer application that fires Google up whenever I do a spit take after seeing a cartoon. Looks like it's going to make the rounds, which should at least allow for anyone tracking this to read 35 different ways to say "What the hell?!?"
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

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* first of all, many of you wrote in to tell me that the Jesse Marsh Tarzan series will certainly run more than four volumes if it does well. I blame the error on all the dope I've been smoking at fraternity parties in South Carolina.

* second of all, although it's been run a lot of places I agree that it's good news that Yen Press has picked up the Yotsuba&! series. That should mean three volumes if I'm reading this article correctly. It's a very charming series, and quite well-executed. Other titles are mentioned in the same group of acquisitions but that news have been largely drowned out by all the cheering.

* Bill Ayers, graphic novelist.

* that new Rumiko Takahasi series that's starting up this Spring as mentioned here a couple of weeks ago has Viz on board for a translated version.

* be on the lookout for a Pet Avengers mini-series, written for Marvel by Chris Eliopoulos. It's an old-school for issues rather than the three and five that you see with greater frequency these days. That comes out in May. Ten years ago that title would have met something else entirely.

* the writer Kiel Phegley launched an interviews and news site, Four Color Forum, over the NYCC weekend. I've already linked to it at least once. Marc Singer announced the wind-down of his occasional review blog last week.

image* the first volume of Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo enters into a ninth printing.

* the talented Ho Che Anderson talks about his next Fantagraphics book and a slightly less tethered project publishing-wise here. The Fanta book is apparently a continuation of Scream Queen.

* the team of Leah Moore and John Reppion to take on Sherlock Holmes. I imagine there will be more than a few Holmes projects with Robert Downey Jr.'s screen version imminent. I always think the problem with these kinds of things is that the franchise is prominent in people's imagination without being really grounded there. So riffing on the subject matter doesn't carry the same weight as it might with other icons.

* Del Rey makes official an earlier, leaked announcement that they'll be publishing Penny Arcade, starting in 2010. In unrelated news, Del Rey will also be doing King of RPGs.

* otbp alert: the great Mat Brinkman apparently had a book out last year from Le Dernier Cri. Welp, there goes the publication date on my Best Of Year list.

* the potent creative team of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting get a crack at one of those "the real story behind the story of superheroes" in their The Marvels Project.

* Papercutz has picked up the comics-version rights to the Geronimo Stilton books series.

* release plans announced for that adaptation of Wheel of Time. I don't understand how anyone can adapt for another form a billion-page long fantasy story that didn't end (at least not with its original author), but I'm not in the business of adaptations, either.

* finally, I share this person's confusion over the publishing strategy that allows the writer Chris Claremont to start over again with the X-Men where he left off (1991) in a title called X-Men Forever. I suppose this is sort of like someone in 2022 letting Aaron Sorkin run the last couple years of West Wing as he'd have done them. Or something. I'm not sure there is an equivalent. The weird thing is I swear this is the second time or even arguably the third time where they've sort of given Claremont a title with the mandate to write a semi-alternate, Claremont-centric version of things. I'm not hating the move -- I'm glad when any company of this type wants to work with someone older than the editor-in-chief -- but I am perplexed by it. Is there a big enough audience out there for this sort of thing?

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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #19

* the magazine wholesaler Source Interlink has apparently sued everyone within reach. There aren't a ton of comics offerings that count on newsstand distribution in a way that this kind of distressing activity in the magazine market becomes super alarming, maybe a dozen series expressions of various different types of cartooning, but every little bit counts.

* HarperCollins makes the first few in a series of long-expected moves to shore up its own position in a declining market as what I suppose is a huge company carrying debt: shuttering the Collins part of the company, starting an introspective process division to division, shutting down at least one of its tiny imprints.

* a couple of targeted articles on economic matters in the comics press: Newsarama looks at the issue of pricing in a way that seems to indicate that the only thing keeping comic books from being $3.99 each right this very moment is sensitivity about general economic pressure. Comipress makes a few guesses as to how manga will feel the impact.
 
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Larry Marder’s Best Of Comics 2008

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Longtime industry insider and talented cartoonist Larry Marder gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost In the World, James Kochalka
* Fantastic Comics #24, Various
* Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Barry Deutsch
* The Night of Your Life, Jesse Reklaw
* Chiggers, Hope Larson
 
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Arthur Smid’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Daily Cross Hatch contributor Arthur Smid gave the site a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. I could only find four. They were:

1. Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw
2. Bodyworld, Dash Shaw
3. Best American Comics 2008, Lynda Barry
4. Slowwave, Jesse Reklaw
 
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Go, Look: Meet Me In The Tomb

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Go, Look: More Eldon Dedini

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Go, Look: Ward Sutton Reviews At B&N

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Go, Bookmark: Aidan Potts

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via
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this post about the HarperCollins changes story breaking on Twitter reminds me of the ridiculous competitions ten years ago to see who could get whatever they heard on the phone or from e-mail up on some message board or Usenet group so that the poster could claim they broke the story. I can't imagine on any planet where unless you, a friend or a family member is involved you're not better off waiting for a more substantial version of what's going on.

image* go to Jeet Heer's site for correspondence from a young John Updike to a Milton Caniff at the height of his powers; stay a while to stare at the slightly scary photo of Joan Crawford and the great cartoonist. This Caniff art has nothing to do with anything, but it's pretty!

* congratulations to Graeme McMillan on becoming a US citizen.

* this article from James Sime about comics as a way to make friends is interesting in that I and most of the people I know that read comics had almost or literally no friends with whom they shared that particular interest until entering the field in some capacity. Maybe they had a one friend or more likely a sibling. But for the most part, it was a solitary pursuit. I mean, I had plenty of friends that read the latest Nexus or Love and Rockets or Life In Hell book if it happened to be sitting out, but none that went to comics the same way I did.

* see what David P. Welsh is reading.

* I think this article on comic book and cinema is nice and all, but I figure it's probably more about the ability of movies to do this kind of spectacle now and the fact that they've made money.

* note to people e-mailing me: when Whitney Matheson wonders after how much comic there is in the New York Comic-Con, I don't think you can dismiss it as grouchy art comics festival lovers wanting a show they'll never have or that they already get someplace else. As I said before, although I'll have to live twenty more lifetimes before I can even begin to understand the costume impulse, I like big, pop culture-focused comics shows, too -- it's just not what some folks thought they might get. Hey, maybe those folks were just being naive.

* speaking of Reed Exhibition shows, premier book publishing event Book Expo America has announced it will stop moving around and be in New York for a while and that it will move back to mid-week. Staying in New York seems smart to me. I don't know what I think about the shift back in the work week. I assume they know what they're doing, but if their goal is increased publicity it seems to me the press (especially book press) may be less able to take mid-week work days off. I suppose what they're talking about is facilitating flashier, high-profile, mainstream press rather than a surge in all the press.

* finally, it seems to me that articles like this one at Wizard, where the writers dig into some Batman plot point of which I'm blissfully unaware, don't really pop up all that frequently anymore. I'm probably wrong about that.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Takeshi Obata!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Drew Sheneman!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Regis Franc!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Delga!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Mauri Kunnas!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Massimo Cavezzali!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Jim Bradrick!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Mathieu Reynes!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Reinhard Kleist!

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Happy 97th Birthday, German Butze!

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I have no idea if he's still with us
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Violeff!

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Quick hits
Craft
Faces In Nana
Sean Phillips Inks
Making Your Own Font On-Line

History
Early Cul De Sac
Love For Youngblood 01
Love For Youngblood 02

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Tony Bedard
Brian Fies On Chip Kidd
Standard Attrition: Peter Milligan
Whitecanvas.com: Gary Baseman

Not Comics
Buy Adrian Tomine's Prints
Loving That Brave And The Bold TV Show

Publishing
Ho! Previewed
Mother, Come Home Previewed
Agents Of Atlas #1 Back To Press

Reviews
Richard Bruton: Alan's War
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Patrick Berube: Neozoic #1-8
Zak Edwards: Secret Warriors #1
Sean T. Collins: Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5
Laurel Maury: Absolute Sandman Vol. 4
Greg McElhatton: Umbrella Academy: Dallas #3
Leroy Douresseaux: Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vol. 1
Jog: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #1
 

 
February 10, 2009


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

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely 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 tomorrow I would more than likely pick up the following and look them over, causing my retailer to look over his glasses and chuckle disapprovingly.

*****

OCT080162 ALL STAR SUPERMAN HC VOL 02 $19.99
OCT080163 BATMAN RIP DELUXE EDITION HC $24.99
Two hardcovers from Grant Morrison. I really liked the material in All Star Superman -- although I have to imagine that the Absolute version of this comic will be the one to get -- and found baffling the comics I read that I think may be going into Batman RIP.

DEC080105 BATMAN #686 (NOTE PRICE) $3.99
The first of Neil Gaiman's two-issue coda to Batman sort of kicking the bucket for twenty minutes or something in the Grant Morrison comics I didn't understand. Okay, that last part of the sentence talked me down a dollar, not up a dollar... but because it's Neil Gaiman I started at $4.99. Whew!

DEC082360 CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #10 $2.99
I'm always nervous when a fun superhero title I was waiting to be canceled so I could pick up all the issues for $1 a pop makes it past issue #10.

NOV088139 DARKNESS #75 ALL BEEF EDITION CVR F $4.99
DEC082280 DARKNESS #75 BERMEJO CVR A $4.99
DEC082283 DARKNESS #75 BROUSSARD CVR D $4.99
DEC082281 DARKNESS #75 KEOWN CVR B $4.99
DEC082282 DARKNESS #75 SEJIC CVR C $4.99
Some days we deserve whatever the economy wants to do to us.

OCT082436 PATSY WALKER HELLCAT #5 (OF 5) $2.99
NOV088098 INCOGNITO #1 2ND PTG PHILLIPS VAR (MR) (PP #851) $3.50
NOV082429 INCOGNITO #2 (MR) $3.50
OCT084164 CASTLE WAITING VOL II #14 $3.95
DEC080049 BPRD BLACK GODDESS #2 (OF 5) $2.99
DEC080050 HELLBOY WILD HUNT #3 (OF 8) $2.99
DEC082269 WALKING DEAD #58 (MR) $2.99
If I had access to a comics shop, I would buy all of these comics today. That would be $23, and I would have a good time reading them. Just sayin'. Congratulations to Kathryn Immonen on completing her Hellcat series. You know, I really like Linda Medley's Castle Waiting as a comic book, and I wish more people felt the same. It's not even my kind of thing, but Medley has such a sure hand I'm to happy to follow her wherever with this kind of entertainment.

NOV082240 SWORD TP VOL 02 WATER (MR) $14.99
I like the Luna Brothers. I think they're nuts, but a really specific kind of mainstream media-savvy lunacy. Their comics are like the HBO movie you turn on at 2 AM to waste 10 minutes but you watch the whole thing and then gingerly bring it up the next time you're hanging with your buddies only to find out all of them have already seen it.

MAR083634 SABRE 30TH ANN HC (MR) $14.99
It's officially been 30 years since the American comic book industry started its shift towards ruining my life. Starring Jimi Hendrix.

*****

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 so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, 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. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, I blame special forces.

*****
*****
 
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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* major arrests in last summer's bombing of the Danish embassy in Islamabad.

* Gregorius Nekschot speaks in Denmark. I wasn't aware the government agency that had him arrested was created in direct response to the cartoons controversy. I don't have any reason to doubt him, though. Here's the text from his speech.

* as much as there's room to be totally critical of the initial and I think lousy decision to run the cartoons, I'm still made uncomfortably by even non-binding resolutions that have been brought about or have become more popular in part because of the uproar following the cartoons.

* I object to this characterization I see every so often that no editors in North America ran the offending cartoons. Not many traditional media people did. I'm deeply critical of that because after the riots started the need for readers to be informed was greater than the risk of offending people. Still, it needs to be noted that a lot of on-line sites like this one ran the cartoons starting on day one. And judging from our e-mail back then we were just as likely to receive negative and even scary feedback for doing so.

* I don't have time to read and consider this article so that I can know whether to endorse it or criticize it, but an essay that uses the cartoons as part of a worldwide struggle with the idea of freedom of speech vs. freedom from attack based on religion should almost endorse itself.

* it's still driving sizable conferences.

* there's a small mention in this newspaper article that talks about how some of the western ideas countries like Abu Dhabi are embracing for the economic principles they support may at times come into conflict with things like negative reaction to the Muhammed cartoons.

* this is the third anniversary of Jyllands-Posten's apology in Saudi newspapers. I'm at the point where I don't really recall that move specifically, but it sure sounds like that's what the almanac is talking about.
 
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It’s A Hail Of Bullets, Charlie Brown

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Jeremy Eaton has a lot to answer for.
 
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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #18

* the retailer and prominent blogger Chris Butcher clarifies an economy-related point or two concerning his recent essay about Diamond's new minimums.

* the cartoonist and cartoon editor Dave Roman talks a bit about points made during a panel that touched on monetizing on-line options and digital comics generally. I like all comics markets. This io9 write-up is the most linked-to out there of reports on the UClick panel. I like that market, too, and I look forward to reading some comics that way. I do feel compelled to mention that not all cartoonists intend for their comics to be read panel by panel -- page design is a bit more complicated than that in the hands of many of the best ones. But yeah, bring on those comics, too.

* I greatly enjoyed this article by John Jackson Miller that looks at the value that collectibles have during a down economy but in the face of digital publishing extends the discussion of collectibility to include any and all comics that make people want to keep their physical component.

* via Ron Hogan's article on the NYCC "selling comics in a bad economy" panel, DC's John Cunningham points out something I hadn't considered but should have about the migration to electronic delivery of comics -- a relative small migration could have a massive effect on the economics of comics.

* finally, I wasn't as enthused about this article on electronic reading generally as whomever sent me to it, but I do think that delivery systems are important and can galvanize the pursuit and consumption of certain kinds of content. One thing that I think Kindle and its like will be able to do really well that on-line browsers can't do quite as well is emulate New Comics Day by being this devoted place you go to at a certain time to see your downloads either already there or ready to go.
 
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A Small Poem In Honor Of The Terrifying Woman-Headed Baby In January 24’s Episode Of Rex Morgan, MD

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Woman-headed baby
Do you think that maybe
We could be friends
Or would that depend
On how your looks fazed me?
 
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The Many Uses Of Kramers Ergot Vol. 7

Alex Holden made me laugh by sending me these photos of how he used a copy of Kramers Ergot Vol. 7 as a privacy screen to conduct interviews at the recent Angouleme Festival.

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If anyone else has photos of KE7 being employed in some sort of utilitarian fashion, I'd love to run them.
 
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Jeff Smith’s Best Comics For 2008

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Cartoonist Jeff Smith gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Slow Storm, Danica Novgorodoff from First Second
* Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels), Neil Babra
* Echo, Terry Moore
* Too Cool to be Forgotten, Alex Robinson
* Amulet, Kazu Kibuishi
* The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers, Sarnath Banerjee
 
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Minty Lewis’ Best Of Comics 2008

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Minty Lewis gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Curio Cabinet #3, JB
* Fatal Faux-Pas, Sam Gaskin
* The Natural World, Damien Jay
* Bottomless Bellybutton, Dash Shaw
* Empire Park, Jason Shiga
 
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Go, Look: ~Balak01’s Digital Comic

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Go, Read: The Black Hood

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Go, Read: From Beyond The Brink

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Go, Look: Blog d’Eddy Vaccaro

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buh
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the prose and manga publisher Vertical has a mysterious new partner, which if this were a comic book would be the superhero-owner's arch-nemesis. As I recall, Vertical needed the stability this potentially brings.

image* I think the takeaway from this OBTP notice is that unless you're Ziggy, expect to be greeted at Tom Wilson Jr.'s door with a shotgun.

* I missed this Bryan Lee O'Malley profile in the New York Times. Scott Pilgrim is very appealing work and I think it's in the perfect position for this kind of article to help it along a little bit further. I'm uncertain if reports of shortages of the latest volume I'm seeing all over the place are just another sign of how popular the series is or some sort of dire news about Diamond's ability to serve a mini-surge in interest like this one for a property like this.

* this profile of Jim and George Demonakos that notes in a positive way the opening of their latest comics store last year, mentions in passing that the Obama/Spider-Man comic book was the difference in January between a sales increase and a sales decline.

* there's an idea expressed in the comments section of Chris Butcher's excellent post on the Diamond minimums policy that I hadn't considered: it may be that much harder for publishers not from the USA to raise the sales levels of their books.

* finally, there aren't a lot of interviews with Pat Oliphant out there, let alone one that touches a bit on his daily life in Santa Fe. And here's a lovely one with Ho Che Anderson, one of the all-time underrated cartoonists and an under-appreciated talker about comics.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Frederic Pontarolo!

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Quick hits
Craft
This Is Cool-Looking
I Like This Cover Design
How Do You Come Up With Ideas?

Exhibits/Events
Go See Leigh Rubin

History
On Marie Duval
Darkseid Is... Gross
Chickens As Humor Icons
Walk Like A Panther Tonight
Remembering Skrull Kill Krew

Industry
Twitter As A Cartooning Resource

Interviews/Profiles
20Q: Theo Ellsworth
Bookslut: Howard Cruse
Walrus Comix: Carol Lay
Daily Gazette: Dave Coverly
Indy Comic News: Nat Gertler
Daily Cross Hatch: Peter Laird
What Mat Brinkman Looks Like
Gerry Alanguilan: Leinil Francis Yu
Star-Ledger: Glen Brunswick, Dan McDaid

Not Comics
Tokyo! Trailer Up
People Love Boardgames Now
Designs For Alien Movie That Wasn't

Publishing
This Sounds... Interesting
This Story Sounds Sort-Of Made Up
On Various Publishing Announcements

Reviews
Chris Sims: Various
Andrew Wheeler: '08
The Star: Jeff Kinney
Sameer Rahim: Various
Michael Re: In The Flesh
Sandy Bilus: Chance In Hell
Henry Chamberlain: The Alcoholic
Leroy Douresseaux: American Elf Vol. 3
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Beanworld Book One
ADD: The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman Century: 1910
Leroy Douresseaux: Yemekui Kenbun Nightmare Inspector Vol. 6
 

 
February 9, 2009


NYCC 2009 Sees Sold-Out Saturday, Enjoys 15% Overall Attendance Boost

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has the most succinct report about the success enjoyed by this weekend's New York Comic-Con. The performance should serve Reed Exhibitions well going into their initial Chicago show in Spring 2010 and for its first shot at the permanent fall schedule in NYC next fall. Economic worries had led some to believe there could be attendance drops or deathly little traffic at the exhibition tables set up to do business: the former turned out not to be true, with 77,000 unique visitors overall, and the latter -- while apparently hit and miss, and I appreciate ICv2.com pointing that out because other people won't -- certainly exceeded the gloomiest predictions by a wide, wide margin.

It's funny to look at the pictures and remember that once upon a time the hope for the NY show was it being a BEA for comics. Let's be honest: there may be a few elements of that, but NYCC is and will likely remain very, very, very much a traditional North American comics show -- closer to a Wizard World show than to an Angouleme Festival. Lots of people like those shows, though, and lots of comics people find them very useful, so there's no basis to complain.
 
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Missed It: ‘07 Malcolm McNeill Interview

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yes, that William Burroughs; background here. Thanks, Bob Levin
 
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Go, Read: Kiel Phegley at Last Thursday’s ICv2.com GN Conference

Although there will no doubt be more formal reports later on including at the ICv2.com site itself, I'd recommend anyone vaguely interested in the business of comics at least glance through Kiel Phegley's report from sitting in the audience that day. He strings together a lot of extended quotes and some back and forth exchanges in a way that feels more like sitting there than something tightened up.

imageIt sounds like a hit and miss event. The social networking thing seems really unfocused -- split between the overt marketing mechanism and the really generic communication tool applications. I mean, recruiting for The Comics Journal became really different in the 1990s when everyone started writing on-line, but it's really obvious how and I can't imagine talking on a panel about it for more than eight seconds. I think Spiegelman is succinct and wise about on-line comics: they'll be their own thing a la comic strips vs. comic books, and they'll be a way to disseminate older material. Everyone is going on-line and everyone will be on-line, so I don't understand the continuing chatter that people are somehow resistant to going on-line and will soon die as a result. Paper comics will likely continue to do well enough that somebody out there will want them, too. I never get that antagonistic thinking -- comics needs all the markets it can get and seems suited to many of them. It's like when people shriek like loons that comics left the newsstands forever in 1985 and won't ever go back. Well, comics did go back to the newsstand. Just because it didn't look like 1947 when they did doesn't mean that hasn't been a viable business model for that company for a while.

There's harder news of course, and the belle of the ball there is manga's drop last year. I hope that the analysis to come doesn't leave out content issues. It seems less like analysis and more like PR when we're told the good years are driven by amazing content but the bad years are so because of teenage vampire novels.
 
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Taking A Second Look At A Panel

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Seriously, how much ribbing do you think the Black Knight got back at Bad Guy Headquarters for being punched off his horse from 200 yards away by Mr. Fantastic? If this were my friend, we'd still be making fun of him. Also, Iceman totally lost the appropriate opponent sweepstakes here, although I'm sure he and his ice stick are very formidable under the right circumstances.
 
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Frank Stack’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The underground comix legend Frank Stack gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. The Shiniest Jewel, Marian Henley
2. What it Is, Lynda Barry
3. Popeye Vol. 3, E.C. Segar
 
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Jeff Lemire’s Best Of Comics 2008

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Jeff Lemire of Essex County fame gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* The Lagoon, Lilli Carre
* Little Things, Jeffrey Brown
* Swallow Me Whole, Nate Powell
* Joker, Brian Azzerello and Lee Bermejo
* Skim, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
 
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Go, Look: Andrew Lorenzi Strip

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Go, Look: Curse Castle

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Go, Look: All About Men

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Go, Look: Alex Cahill’s Art Blog

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Go, Look: John Malloy

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this isn't exactly comics, but a 25 percent loss between similar quarters for a big publisher like Harper Collins is really easy, look up and take notice news, I'd think.

image* because Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac ran as a single-publication strip for a long while before national syndication, it has already reached the five year mark.

* not comics: my brother and I spent ten minutes debating whether or not there was any sarcastic element at all to this mind-boggling feature news story. Also, I would have lost any bet that involved Candace Bushnell ever casually employing the word "appurtenances," so that's good to know. (via Gil)

* the cartoonist and former P-I employee Steve Greenberg talks about the sale of his former employer. He kind of lets slip that he expects the paper will not be sold and come back as a leaner, on-line operation. That's what I hear, too. That could be fascinating. The first is that despite the experience of some P-I staff doing an on-line newspaper during a strike a few years back, it's hard for me to imagine getting a lean on-line operation out of newspaper operation that's shedding cash. It'd be like expecting a the crew and cast of the next Harry Potter movie to suddenly reorient themselves to a version for the stage. It's sort of the same, but it's not. The outlays and expectations are so freaking different for an on-line publication.

* I probably should have noted this earlier, but Sam Humphries being let go from his position at MySpace.com puts the future of the comics promotions he spearheaded into doubt. I'm surprised by what seems to me a low friends figure, although I think I'd looked at some of those previews without being a friend of that part of the site. MySpace.com looks like the Betamax of social networking sites right now, although the one thing it seems to do well is promote media, so I don't know that I totally understand this.

* the cartoonist, publisher, musician and I guess teacher Zak Sally remembers Lux Interior with a short essay and a cartoon. Sally posts about four times a year, so this is noticeable in and of itself.

* finally, the to-be-published covers of D&Q's 2009 FCBD effort did end up about as cute as you'd imagine.
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, Eugeen Goossens!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Mitsuru Adachi!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Sarah Byam!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Jo Duffy!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Frank Frazetta!

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Happy 50th Birthday, David B.!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Tim Truman!

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Happy 72nd Birthday, Hiroshi Hirata!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Lino Gorlero!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Dominiek Depreitre!

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Quick hits
Craft
Superman Gag
Nick Mullins Sketches
Kevin Huizenga Cartoon
This Looks Kind Of Pretty
Don't Try So Hard To Write
Darryl Cunningham Draws Hellboy

Exhibits/Events
Visiting Legends Comics

History
Five From Kirby

Industry
Manga Numbers Are Curious

Interviews/Profiles
The Star: Dave Lapp
Gear Live: Norm Feuti
ComicsCareer.com: Neil Vokes
ComixTalk: Rob Balder, Jamie Noguchi

Not Comics
Jim Medway Print
Cartoonists In The Movies
Neil Gaiman Talks Buttons

Publishing
Sam's Strip Previewed
Another Look at Habibi
Mike Lynch Hits 3rd Blogiversary
Neil Gaiman Hits 8th Blogiversary

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Sean Rogers: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
Jog: Man Against Time
Paul Constant: Various
Austin English: Drop In
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Andy Frisk: Haunted Tank #1
Andy Frisk: Green Lantern #37
Leroy Douresseaux: Love Code
Greg McElhatton: Vigilante #1-2
Andy Frisk: Action Comics #873
Andy Frisk: Madame Xanadu #1
Abhay Khosla: Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5
Sean T. Collins: McSweeney's #13
Richard Bruton: Dark Avengers #1
Sean T. Collins: Cry Yourself To Sleep
Robert Stanley Martin: Please Release
Steve Duin: Tales From Outer Suburbia
Leroy Douresseaux: American Elf Vol. 3
Paul O'Brien: X-Men Magneto Testament
Brian Fies: Rough Guide To Graphic Novels
Hervé St-Louis: Amazing Spider-Man #585
Hervé St-Louis: Avengers: The Initiative #21
Hervé St-Louis: Transformers: All Hail Megatron #7
 

 
February 8, 2009


Why Diamond’s New Minimums Policy Is Wrong, & What They Should Do About It

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By Tom Spurgeon

In mid-January, word began to leak out that Diamond Comics Distributor Inc., the distributor for the vast majority of North American comic books and related merchandise to comic book and hobby shops, was raising its minimums. Instead of applying a standard by which every item would be expected to earn the distributor $1500 before it would be offered through the system, Diamond would now put into place a new standard of $2500. This is a 67 percent increase. In street-level terms, for a standard item to justify its listing in Diamond's all-important catalog, the place from which retailers order the bulk of what goes into North American stores, that item would now have to make $6250 retail. Those moves, and the shifting of an adult-products catalog to PDF form, were soon confirmed.

The fallout has been a lot of talk sprinkled with a few signs of substantive, paradigm-shifting change. The focus has been on the standard American comic book: an item that because of its relatively low price point would have to sell more copies to reach those minimum standards than, say, a book priced at $14.95. Special attention has been paid to smaller publishers that publish a number of titles, particularly traditional comic books, that don't meet, barely meet or run the risk of not meeting the new minimum standard. The consensus quickly became that these moves will irrevocably change how many smaller comics publishers do business. It may wound some small companies past the point of survivability, may drive some viable publishers away from comic books and into projects with a greater certainty to make their money back , and could drive other companies away from a serialization/collection model into original graphic novels or Internet serialization. It is a very big deal.

imageSince many alternative comics (second-generation undergrounds; comics in more typically literary genres offering a variety of writing and art styles veering sharply from the mean of styles that constitute superhero comics) publish at or near those sales levels, the new minimums are expected to have a more drastic effect on those books. It's a potential category killer. Indeed, a pair of traditional alternative comic books from well-respected, award-winning cartoonists, Sammy Harkham's Crickets and Kevin Huizenga's Or Else*, have since been canceled by their creators. Both cited the new minimums as a contributing cause. There will likely be more announcements to come, although at a certain point not too far in the future, the announcements themselves will trickle to a stop as fewer artists and publishers try to push work in the comic book format in the first place. If it's not the end of the alternative comic book, it's certainly a vicious blow to those comics as we've come to know them. This is worrisome because an entire generation of excellent cartoonists came to prominence through alternative comic books -- Joe Sacco, Dan Clowes, Peter Bagge, Julie Doucet, Jim Woodring, Chester Brown, Seth, Joe Matt, Adrian Tomine. Alternative comic books were not just a vehicle for those talents but played a huge role in shaping how those cartoonists developed by giving them platform that offered legitimacy without permanency, unfettered control with periodic feedback. Although there are more opportunities now and have been other opportunities all along, one can argue that none of those formats has been as useful to this expression of comics.

The reaction crackling through comics that last couple of weeks has been odd. As with most issues, a significant percentage of comics folk can't be bothered and don't care, at least to the point of making an opinion known. Much of the dialogue that has managed to spill out splits between a chorus of voices proclaiming that Diamond sucks/is evil/needs to be stopped and a number of folks stressing as if the life of a child depended on it that Diamond is a business and has no obligation to do anything other than make the best business decisions. Many, not all of the former are in a position to lose their access to the direct market under the new policy. Many, not all of the latter are in a position where they will likely maintain their current access to the direct market. As with most arguments in comics, few people can see a future for comics without a role for themselves. And like many arguments that unfold on the Internet, generally, comics has indulged in a lot of talk about what's fair and what's someone's rights are, and little about the immediate impact and overall wisdom of the decision.

I think Diamond's decision was wrong.

I think there are a lot of complications.

I agree with many of you that Diamond has the right to make the best business decisions they can. I remain unconvinced, however, that this is a good decision. The numbers are too vague, the policy implications are too vast and undependable. I hate to say it, but I'm not even sure the logic presented as the basis for the necessity of these actions holds up. A four percent loss following years with significant gains doesn't particularly sound to me like it's totally freaking time to cut staff and change policy. I assume there are other factors involved. I mean, does anyone out there really believe that we're in a recession that somehow forces industry behemoths like Diamond and DC to fire people and change policies while mid-sized publishers pick up projects and tiny boutique publishing houses hold pat? That's one remarkably capricious, Robin Hood-like recession. It's also difficult to argue convincingly, as I think Diamond has been if I'm understanding what's out there, that you're losing money per a certain kind of item and yet you've somehow lost more money recently during a time of selling fewer items. When I was a teenager, that was the kind of two-pronged logic that got me grounded a lot.

I also agree that there are benefits to Diamond having higher standards. The bilge that Diamond likely sees on a regular basis must be soul-destroying. If you've ever spent ten minutes with a sizable submission pile whether at a review site or in a company's slush pile, you quickly pick up on the toxic arrogance with which a lot of these submissions come. There's far more "I'm better than the worst piece of shit out there" than there is "I'm as good as the best going." There's far more "I'm going to allow you the honor of making me as rich and famous as I deserve" than there is "I think we could partner together in a way that works for us both because I really want to do this." The Diamond catalog carries a lot of material that simply isn't ready to be part of a national business transaction, or involves actors unlikely to sustain themselves over a long period of time. I do believe that Diamond has a moral obligation as a juggernaut within its category, whether or not it chooses to follow it or whether or not it feels it has greater obligations. I do. You can't escape that. That obligation, however, isn't to carry every comic but to offer every comic a chance to be carried.

Finally, I think there's a point to be made that Diamond's decision merely accelerates certain trends and they shouldn't be punished for the entire trend. As Dan Vado points out, comics publishing of a certain kind has a systemic capitalization problem. A lot of comics publishing is the 34-year-old guy who won't leave his parents' house, if that makes any sense, or that does a lot of laundry there when they do leave. In alternative comics specifically, one may argue that certain cartoonists simply don't publish frequently enough or with enough of their A-list material to make a go of a traditionally difficult format, that alternative comics publishing of the kind that's been going through Diamond has simply become a place for people to publish because they're fond of it, not because the format is a vital one. It's the comics publishing equivalent of granting a football player a certain number jersey. The format may be much more prohibitively expensive than it was even 10 years ago because of the cost of paper and printing and the needs of shop owners to get value per book. Diamond may in this case simply be the guy who after a long and furious fight walks up to one of the participants and taps him on the forehead, causing him to fall over.

With all of that understood -- and congratulations for reading this far -- I think the Diamond decision is wrong. Here are some of the basic reasons why.
1. Diamond's Policy Works Against the Core Identity of the Direct Market
I'm not sure I'm able to communicate to those who weren't there how radical the comic shop was if you'd been biking over to Ross Supermarket (or its equivalent) to pick up your weekly books. It was like going from rabbit ears straight to digital cable. The fundamental appeal of the comic shop was simple. Comic shops were the places that had all the comics. They had way more than your grocery store rack did. They carried them every month. They had more comics than you'd heard of, perhaps imagined possible. Carrying all the comics a store could was a near-standard operating principle through the DM's first heady period until that impulse was manipulated by profiteer douche bags. In the days before everyone became a marketing and retails sales expert, having all the comics or at least access to all the comics was the main mechanism by which stores were judged.

Although largely symbolic, raising the minimum to a point that so many comics -- some good, most bad -- are going to no longer exist deepens the divorce of the Direct Market from that core identity. If I can get Kevin Huizenga comics on the Internet and I may or may not be able to get them at a comic shop, the Internet grows in estimation as a place for me to buy comics and the comic shop shrinks for me. If I can get them at a comics show, the comics show grows in estimation as a place for me to get comics and the comics shop shrinks. While I don't deal in the Internet hothead rhetoric that hisses all Diamond wants comic shops to be is Wolverine Delivery Systems, I can't help but wonder what Diamond wants their shops to be if not that. If comics shops are to stop being the place to get all the comics and simply become, say, the best place to get comics, there's a ton of work to do in that direction. If they are just another place to get comics, there's work to be done to prepare for the greater competition they have today. If they are the place to get a certain kind of comics, they need to be ready for the implications of that stance, too. I don't see the Big Picture gain. I don't see a Big Picture.

In 1997 Diamond could make decisions and know that it was doing so in an insulated world where there only fall-out was contained within that system. In 2009, there exists no such insulation.

2. Diamond's Policy Strikes A Blow Against A Group Of Comics That Have Grown In Terms Of Sales The Last Few Years
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but while Diamond's top 100 comics have increased a bit from what comics in those same positions sold five years ago, it was my understanding that comics at the bottom of the charts have also seen an increase, only to a much greater extent percentage-wise. If that's a place where sales have increased, why pull the legs out from under it?

3. The Loss Will Not Be Limited To Comics That Fall Under The Minimum
A huge failing of this plan is that action A (establishing a minimum) doesn't lead to reaction A (loss of market access by comics falling under that minimum). Action A likely leads to reaction A, B, C, and D. Comic books are frequently published not as entities unto themselves but as series and as component parts of lines. The smaller publishers most likely to feel the impact of this latest change in policy are far less able to specifically and easily excise the targeted books on a one-for-one basis. It seems likely that many publishers will choose to not only forego publishing comics that fail to meet the new minimum, but, say, an entire six-issue series of comics if there's a risk that issues three through six may fail to meet the standard. They may cancel plans for comics with the same trade dress because a third of them might not make it the minimum. And so on.

Additionally, if publishers remain devoted to material that will not make the minimum and find alternative methods to publish these books -- hand selling, say, or on-line distribution -- they'll likely take comics that easily meet the minimums into these new programs alongside the Direct Market orphans. Diamond's policy pressures publishers to innovate in opposition to their system rather than on its behalf, and there will be collateral damage.

4. Diamond's Policy Diminishes Comics' Greatest, Distinct Advantage Over Other Avenues For Purchase: Their Skill At Delivering Serial Comics
Serial comics is a unique market. It is the DM's unique market. What you guarantee by conflating your markets the way Diamond does is drift towards the higher-priced item. That's already happened, for sure, but raising the minimums makes it that much worse. I think there's a great case to be made for finding ways for shops to invest in and sell a greater number of pamphlet-style comic books, as opposed to dropping a group of them entirely and potentially frustrating a ton of others out of existence. Diamond's new policy not only puts the comic shop into more direct competition with the Internet, it puts greater emphasis on a format that forces the DM into greater competition with big box retail (such as they are) and on-line bookstores. If the economy is as bad for comics as Diamond's moves seem to suggest, is this really the right time to be picking those fights?

5. Diamond's Move Reinforces A Literal Bottom-Line Standard As To Cost
Driving breakeven or limited-loss comics out because they don't work according to the new standard may have costs that have nothing to do with the bottom line. We've already talked about art; I think comics as an art form has value as a general publishing reality. This also limits publishing strategies. Some comics operate as advertisements for the eventual collection or for the creators involved; some are helpful first drafts for stronger collections. We have as yet very few OGN-only comics stars and even fewer on-line serialization stars. It could be that there is a sizable audience that buys a print collection after buying print serialization that will drift away once their way of buying becomes obsolete. The damage to specific categories may strand comics that make the minimum. I've long been told that the most effective and profitable way for stores to sell comics is by having the customer's recurring business every week. Ending the reason for people to come in every week may further damage already ailing customer bases for certain categories. There are also buyers that buy across categories that may be pushed from the weekly buying habit because their particular mix of comics slips below the weekly visit and reward level. And, of course, there is the idea of low-cost comics of all type as sampling points in order to keep readers trying new titles and new artists. By stressing a system where each item must make a sales minimum, Diamond risks robbing publishers of a number of wider sales techniques that may have a more significant long-term effectiveness than the short term benefits gained, and they may put pressure on retailers to keep certain customers who count on a range of material being present.

6. The Loss Is Potentially Permanent
Comics markets are to a certain extent about momentum, and I think this not only effectively ends a certain kind of publishing for the present, I think it brings it to a permanent close. Comics has only lurched into maturity in the last three years; I think it's possible that there are a number of models that had yet to be tried: for instance, a non-profit devoted to serial comics publishing in the same way that a theater company featuring new plays might go non-profit, or a long-term initiative regarding original, non-licensed children's work. I think this all goes to the Internet now, both because of the real barrier of the minimums and because these projects will be judged by their makers on making their immediate minimums rather than a longer-term model.

7. Diamond's Move Leaves The Market Even More At The Mercy Of Its Biggest Suppliers
A market completely dependent on actors like Marvel and DC was a terrifying thing when those companies had every reason to be invested in the Direct Market. Now that they're just as if not more interested in bookstores, movie-making and the revolving licensing bonanza movies can bring, it's that much scarier to have a greater percentage of the DM given over to them. This isn't an analysis of Potential Extinction Events -- DC and Marvel leaving the market entirely would be equally apocalyptic no matter what else is in the stores with those books. But in a time where DC is running its Summer 2008 events into January and leaving many fans frustrated in terms of simple "you seemed to promise this but gave us this" expectations, and in a time where Marvel is running into its the latest of a long string of event mini-series with no end in sight and frustrating retailers with arcane premium books that make many of them look like doofuses when their press then sends people to stores, couldn't the market use the stability that might result from helping develop a half-dozen additional Jeff Smiths and Terry Moores instead of pushing talents on their level into on-line or book-only publication?

8 The Move Was Put Into Place Much Too Quickly, and Asks Too Much Of A One-Time Jump
The catalog after this new one institutes the new minimums. That is an incredibly quick turnaround for companies many of which now plan entire seasons ahead. I have no idea why this had to be done so quickly, and I don't think Diamond has made a compelling case for it, either. It's hard then not to see this as a move designed to balance the books short-term at the potential cost of the long-term health of suppliers who must scramble rather than operate on plans they made long ago. I think there's bound to be some specific dissatisfaction on the consumer end because of the speed with which these policies are instituted. To use our two alt-comics examples, Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga are not simply ending their comics, they're shuttling material created for those books into DIY packages. I don't know how 1800 frustrated, potentially dissatisfied customers isn't a bigger concern than the costs earned back from the time saved sorting that specific material for the next half-year.

9. The Move Was Uncreative
I would imagine Diamond expects its suppliers to adjust to the new realities by repackaging material, or coming up with new publishing approaches generally. The speed with which this decision seems to have been made and its specific focus makes me suspicious whether Diamond demanded the same creativity of themselves. Was anyone contacted to see if they'd act as a specialty distributor on Diamond's behalf for this material? Is there no other way to limit the extra work caused by lower-end suppliers? Just because the math doesn't work for Diamond doesn't mean someone else couldn't have figured it out or there aren't other ways to get to the very same figures. Could a sliding scale to cover the extra costs be instituted so that Diamond wouldn't lose money on these books anymore? Could Diamond have established more rigorous standards in terms of slots and scheduling to better coordinate the labor needs? It's as if Diamond feels powerless to do anything other than beat up on the weakest parts of the industry.

10. In The End, The Move Sets a Bad Precedent for the Entire Industry In Surviving This Recession
Barring a culture-destroying slide that has us all working for Tina Turner in Bartertown, my hope for comics during this financial downturn has been that the major players wouldn't automatically seek to re-balance its books as things slip but absorb some of the blows and reform some of its excessive business practices to strengthen the long-term bottom line. Comics is a good and mostly lean business, and while it's going to suffer from outside pressures just like everything else will, I think there's every reason to suggest it might be able to negotiate the choppy waters ahead with some aplomb. We're definitely not the first industry at the Superdome asking for food and shelter -- no agency in comics has done anything as cynical as NBC has in turning over five hours of prime-time programming to Jay Leno, and DC firing a couple of editors looks far less repulsive than the money-soaked NFL does in cutting a bunch of jobs weeks before the cash gorge that is the Super Bowl -- and I think there's some pride to be had from that. And I'm still hopeful. However, Diamond's moves are a severe vote in favor of individual agencies turtling up and let the general industry fend for itself. We can do better.
So there's that.

In the end, I don't think Diamond's decision can be reversed. As you can see in the opening graphs, I'm not altogether convinced it should be. What I would recommend instead is that Diamond largely ignore its new standards and in doing so de-emphasize the whole concept of regulating fairness by letting people do whatever they want and then periodically taking a hammer to some arbitrary measure of under-performance. I know that comics people love the concept of playground fairness, but indulging in that kind of standard on an industry-wide basis leads to a less special, more stunted Direct Market that must go to war with other systems for comics delivery to a greater degree than is necessary or advisable.

I call on Diamond to reorient itself towards long-term health, stable publishing partners and in serving a unique marketplace. That's more than I can simply suggest into being, but I think there are few steps they can take as a start towards making this a greater reality.

First, I would like to see amnesty offered to as many current suppliers as want to in satisfying fashion wrap their current titles, particularly those with material already created for the Direct Market. Second, I would like for Diamond to redefine fairness as an opportunity not a scalable birthright. It can do this by increasing its barriers to catalog entry in every way other than sales minimums, including hiring an industry veteran as a consultant for guidance on titles to keep on their bottom-line contribution to the art form and forcing companies to submit on a project basis rather than a publication basis with deep penalties for failure to keep up their end of the bargain. Third, I would like to see all O/A restrictions relaxed and exclusive benefits in total -- designing one's own solicitation section, better marketing information -- given to all publishers that have worked with Diamond for more than ten years or a reasonably bench-marked number of publications. If Rick Veitch can make a living selling his books but has to offer them multiple times in order to do so, it seems to me there's little harm in allowing him to continue in this direction and no compelling reason people without Veitch's track record have to get to do the same thing because they stamp their feet on some message board where people address each other as "sir." Fourth, I would like to see the encouragement of initiatives that specifically target and strengthen serial comics publishing, the DM's special contribution to the enjoyment of the comics art form. I think this should start with an attempt to fix shipping difficulties and stacked dates within months. It should also include Diamond allowing continuity between innovations by actively acting as a repository for how they perform, so that if Vertigo tries $1 entrance issues, as announced at NYCC, Diamond keeps track of how this does in order to better work with publishers who would like to try the same thing. Fifth, I would like to see Diamond shift its overall conception for comic stores to the Best Place For Comics, starting with an industry-wide, Diamond-led commitment to the notion that any person walking into any comic shop can find out accurate information on any comic published.

That would be a great start, and I think every bit of it is doable. And yeah, I would also like a pony and magic elbows. I'm not sure how much of the above could happen with the mindsets that exist now. If DC's latest round of Vertigo sales initiatives tank they're not going to allow Diamond to report that information to a smaller company that wants to try the same thing, because DC is in the habit of routinely slinging public bullshit regarding their sales figures. But one can hope. And what I hope for today is that Diamond reconsider its unique role within comics, engaging rather than shielding themselves from the possibilities before them, starting with the serial comic book market.

* Kevin Huizenga objects to this depiction of the cancellation of his book
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: the strangest and saddest video I saw this weekend

* go, look: beer ad company big Michael Kupperman fans?

* go, look: Zander Cannon's taking photos at the NYCC

* go, look: Pewfell

* go, respect: I missed Gabriel Vargas' 94th birthday on February 5
 
posted 6:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #150—The King

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Favorite Jack Kirby Single-Issue Comic Books." This is how they responded.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Eternals #4
2. Kamandi #10
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey #6
4. Fantastic Four #53
5. Fantastic Four #55

*****

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Alan David Doane

1. Fantastic Four #51
2. Avengers #4
3. New Gods #6
4. Amazing Spider-Man #8 (the Spidey/Human Torch backup story)
5. Fantastic Four #48

*****

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Gary Usher

1. Captain America 208 (1977)
2. DC Comics Presents 84
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey 8
4. First Issue Special 6 (Dingbats of Danger Street)
5. Our Fighting Forces 157

*****

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Charles Yoakum

* Fantastic Four #51
* Thor #156
* The Demon #1
* Challengers of the Unknown #7
* Fantastic Four #25

*****

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Booksteve

1. Captain America #100
2. Forever People #1
3. Fantastic Four Annual #2
4. X-Men #11
5. Fantastic Four #54

*****

image

Christopher Opinsky

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey #7
2. OMAC #1
3. New Gods #6
4. Kamandi #31
5. Captain America #207

*****

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Phil Rippke

1. Tales of Suspense #81
2. Thor #156
3. Mister Miracle #3
4. OMAC #1
5. The Eternals #9

*****

image

Tom Bondurant

1. Fantastic Four #50
2. Captain America's Bicentennial Battles #1
3. New Gods #6
4. Forever People #4
5. Kamandi #29

*****

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Christopher Duffy

1. Mister Miracle #9 "Himon" -- Kirby the thinker
2. Fantastic Four #49 "If This Be Doomsday" -- Kirby the dramatist
3. Black Panther #1 "King Solomon's Frog" -- Kirby the yarn spinnner
4. Eternals #9 "The Killing Machine" -- Kirby the ironist
5. Kamandi #29 "Mighty One" -- Kirby the maker of the humorous pastiches.

*****

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Uriel A. Duran

1) Fantastic Four #5
2) Forever People #7
3) Mister Miracle #4
4) The X-Men #10
5) The Avengers #4

*****

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Lou Copeland

1. Fantastic Four Annual #5: Psycho-Man
2. Fantastic Four Annual #6: Annihilus
3. Captain America #210: Arnim Zola, Red Skull, monsters, monsters, & more monsters!
4. The Incredible Hulk #2: Toad Men
5. Mister Miracle #8: Apokolips melee

*****

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Rick Lowell

* Hulk #1
* New Gods #6
* Kamandi #29
* Fantastic Four #55
* Avengers #4

*****

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Dave Knott

* Journey Into Mystery #114
* The New Gods #8
* Marvel Treasury Edition: 2001, A Space Odyssey
* O.M.A.C. #1
* Fantastic Four #52

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Journey Into Mystery #125
2. Fantastic Four #51
3. OMAC #1
4. Tales of Suspense #17
5. Mister Miracle #3

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Fantastic Four #5
2. 2001 #8
3. Fantastic Four #49
4. Fantastic Four Annual #3
5. Challengers of the Unknown #4

*****

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Adam Casey

1. Tales of Suspense #94
2. Devil Dinosaur #6
3. New Gods #1
4. Captain Victory #2
5. First Issue Special #1

*****

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James Langdell

1. Mister Miracle #4 {big aha! moment of how key Scott's story really is to the Fourth World. And... gosh... Big Barda shows up!]
2. Fantastic Four #85 [Doctor Doom's Latveria as McGoohan's The Village]
3. Tales of Suspense #81 [The Red Skull holds the Cosmic Cube... and the non-Kirby Iron Man half of the issue is great as well]
4. Not Brand Echh #1 [Kirby's Fantastical Four parody... startled to see that Kirby could bring on the funny like that]
5. The Mighty Thor #133 [Ego the Living Planet -- this after I thought Kirby had already upped the ante on mythic god-ness as far as it could go]

*****

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Stephen Weiner

* Fantastic Four #48
* Fantastic Four #51
* Thor #127
* Thor #138
* Avengers #4

*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Fantastic Four #35 -- It's hard to pick between FFs, but although the first one I ever read new was #22, this one had the most impact on my as a kid. Something about that uniquely Kirby way of depicting all hell breaking loose as Dragon Man came to life on that college campus grabbed me hard and didn't let go.
2. Mister Miracle #7 -- although #6 was the first issue of this title, as well as the first issue of the Fourth World series, that I read (slow to embrace Jack's puzzling move to DC, I was), this was the one that cemented my interest and led me to find the others as soon as I could (not easy in 1972, let me tell you). I loved Kirby's Kanto character, and I thought this issue in particular featured some outstanding King art, inked by Mike Royer.
3. The Demon #7 -- The first appearance of his precociously creepy Klarion the Witchboy. Not my favorite cover, though -- that would be #13, with its rushing monsters and delirious cover copy.
4. Journey into Mystery #104 -- Thor vs. the Grey Gargoyle; the first Thor comic I ever read. I still remember sitting in my Mom's car and reading it intently as she drove around doing errands.
5. Fantasy Masterpieces #3 -- My first exposure to the Golden Age Captain America stories, and better believe it blew my 6-year-old mind to know that Kirby had been drawing comics since World War II! My favorite story in this one, though, took place in Hollywood and borrowed its ending liberally from the Errol Flynn Adventures of Robin Hood film. Oh, and this was also my first exposure to those wonderful old Sci-Fi giant monster stories as well- BRUTTU!

*****

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John Vest

1. Fantastic Four #48
2. Fantastic Four #60
3. Thor #131
4. Tales Of Suspense #81
5. Fantastic Four #95 -- a favorite for the wonderful interior splash page with the Thing holding up a building.

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. New Gods #7
2. Fantastic Four #77
3. Demon #1
4. Captain America's Bicentennial Battles
5. 2001 #6

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. Fantastic Four #4
2. Avengers #4
3. Captain America's Bicentennial Battles
4. Fighting American #1 (Harvey sixties' era reprint)
5. Fantastic Four Annual #2

*****

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Michael Aushenker

1) Tales of Suspense #86 -- A nostalgic pick: the first comic book story I ever read.
2) The Incredible Hulk #1 -- Classic! (one of many, many, many in Kirby's case...this list is not easy to narrow down)
3) Fantastic Four #48 -- Rise of the Silver Surfer!
4) The Demon #7 -- Enter Klarion the Witch Boy!
5) Marvel Treasury Special Featuring Captain America's Bicentennial Battles -- Kirby's Cap was already larger-than-life... then it got super-sized! Out. Of. Control!!!!

*****

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Christopher Keels

* Captain America (and the Falcon) #212
* Eternals #9
* Fantastic Four #9
* Mister Miracle #9
* Kamandi #1

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. Our Fighting Forces #159
2. Fantastic Four #92
3. Kamandi #29
4. Young Romance #97 -- My dad's wife found this book among stuff from her teen years... there's an odd little story by Kirby about a tough guy who saves a nice girl from an even more threatening sort, but later realizes that it could never work between the two of them: he needs to be with this other, more dangerous girl. I guess you have to read it for yourself but it's kind of a sweet, affecting story.
5. Eternals # 1

*****

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Mauricio Matamoros

* Black Magic 1 (1971 DC edition)
* Demon 7
* Fantastic Four 1
* Fantastic Four 29
* New Gods 8

*****

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Chris Zepeda

1. Captain America #100
2. In The Days Of The Mob #1
3. Fantastic Four Special #6
4. Mister Miracle #1
5. Kamandi #6

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Strange Tales 104
2. Captain America 108
3. New Gods 6
4. First Issue Special 5
5. Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 139

*****

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Robert Goodin

* Captain America 210 (This one has blown my mind since I was 5.)
* Journey into Mystery 115
* Tales of Suspense 63
* New Gods 7
* Thor 133

*****

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Michael J. Grabowski

* What If? #11 "What If The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?"
* Black Panther #3 "Race Against Time"
* 2001: A Space Odyssey #6 "Inter-Galactica"
* Captain America #208 "The River of Death"
* Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #141 "Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?" PLUS a reprint of the first Newsboy Legion Story (first Golden Age Kirby I'd ever seen), introduced by the classic Kirby at drawing board self-portrait, all capped by the all-time greatest cover blurb: "Kirby says: 'Don't Ask! Just Buy It!'"

I "came of age" around about the same time Kirby returned to Marvel. With no idea who he was and not much idea who the non-Spidey Marvel heroes were, I just bought the comics that really stood out on the spinner rack. And re-read them more than most of the rest, no matter how little sense they made out of consecutive context. (The much earlier Jimmy Olsen was a much later hand-me-down.) For a beginning comics reader aged 6-9 years old, there were no other books on the stand (at least that live in my memory) that were so strange, intriguing, dominated by some crazy logic that made them endlessly enjoyable to my young imagination. These Marvel books remain otherworldy. I read them now as if Kirby was thumbing his nose at the Marvel Universe he helped create, with all the continuity entanglements that had come to restrain his characters. As if he was pointing out that comics universe history and logic is stupid when it becomes a useless constraint on story potential and the brilliant imaginations of comics creators.

*****

thanks to all that participated

*****
*****
 
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Osamu Tezuka, Gone 20 Years

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I've been threatened with a beating if I post another lengthy series of images, but as it's only been a couple of days after the 15th anniversary of the passing of Jack Kirby, it struck me as interesting that the two of the maybe three or four foundational cartoonists passed away five years and a couple of days apart. Bad month that February. I can't imagine there are too many folks unfamiliar with Osamu Tezuka, but if you're that person 1) I'm envious that you still get to discover all of those great works and b) maybe start here?
 
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Happy 31st Birthday, Steve Rolston!

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First Thought Of The Day

I'm not as big a fan of the cable-only, award-winning serial drama as many of my pals, but there's really no better way to wean yourself off of 20 straight Sundays watching at least a little bit of football and making it the rest of the way to Spring.
 
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February 7, 2009


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

February 14
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CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from January 31 to February 6, 2009:

1. Blutch wins Grand Prix at well-received Angoueleme Festival.

2. As New York Comic-Con gets underway, Reed Exhibitions announces permanent Fall dates for future NYCC and a downtown Chicago show, both starting in 2010. Wizard rebrands Chicago and announces guest of honor Mark Millar.

3. Christopher Handley trial delayed.

Winner Of The Week
Blutch, natch.

Loser Of The Week
Wizard

Quote Of The Week
I'm not a dullard, I know that the digital revolution is well underway and the paradigm? It's shifting. But it isn't shifted, and it's a little disconcerting to see my largest retail partner pushing content away from my market and into one I can't touch. -- Chris Butcher

this week's imagery comes from one of the great underground comix
 
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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 Seattle, I’d Go To This

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Happy 59th Birthday, Zdravko Zupan!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Rick Remender!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Mark Haven Britt!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Richard Bruning!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Alexandro Jodorowsky!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Fernando Fernandez!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Michel Constant!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Gui Laflamme!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Jean-Paul Arends!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Paul Peter Porges!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Tsubasa Fukuchi!

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Tim Broderick On New Diamond Minimums (2/2/09)
* Austin English On The Fall Of The Alt-Comic Book (2/2/09)
* Colin Panetta On Changes At Diamond (2/2/09)
* Evan Dorkin on An Appearance, February 4 (2/2/09)
* Michael J. Grabowski On The Fall Of Alt-Comics And The Frequency Of Their Publication (2/2/09)
* Danny Fingeroth On Jules Feiffer Interview (PR) (2/2/09)
* James C. Langdell On Changes On The Comics Page At The San Francisco Chronicle (2/2/09)
* Shawn Bowman On Portland (OR) Graphic Novel Tours (2/2/09)
 
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February 6, 2009


Jack Kirby, Gone Fifteen Years

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Friday Distraction: Humbug #1 PDF

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ICv2.com GN Conference: Graphic Novels Up And Manga Down For 2008

That's a fairly straightforward headline in that it contains all you really need to know. Here's the just-as-straightforward article. In terms of manga, I'd really like to hear more analysis of how the Twilight series drove traffic away from manga; that sounds way more correlative than causative. I'd at least expect to see a huge August plunge in manga sales when Twilight dropped its fourth book. I'd also like to see more series to series analysis, because it seems to me without stopping to check that some of the most popular series are getting up there in terms of age and that some have even ended. In terms of the GN sales, I'm fascinated by the thought that perennials drive most of these sales, although I'm not sure that speaks well of the newer material.
 
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Collective Memory: Angouleme 2009

Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning Festival International de la Bande Dessinee, held January 30 to February 1, 2009 in the city of Angouleme.

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

*****

imageInstitutional
* Festival
* Festival Site In English
* Host City

Audio
* Wim Lockefeer Tintin Movie Announcement

Blog Entries
* Bart Beaty In Angouleme 01
* Bart Beaty In Angouleme 02
* Bart Beaty In Angouleme 03
* Bart Beaty In Angouleme 04
* Bart Beaty In Angouleme 05
* Bart Beaty In Angouleme 06
* BDFiles 01
* BDFiles 02
* BDFiles 03
* BlogsBDfr

* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 01
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 02
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 03
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 04
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 05
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 06
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 07
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 08
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 09
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 10
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 11
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 12
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 13
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 14
* CB Cebulski: Angouleme 15

* Drawmadaire

* Futiles

* Gene Yang
* Graphic Novels
* Graphic Novels 02

* Hommetigre 01
* Hommetigre 02
* House of Mystery

* Krokoblog

* La Vie Des Hippos
* Le Blogustin
* Le Comptoir
* Le Journal du Pat
* Les Dessins de Lorenzo
* LigneClaire

* Metabunker 01
* Metabunker 02
* Metabunker 03
* Metabunker 04
* Metabunker 05
* Metabunker 06
* Metabunker 07
* Metabunker 08
* Metabunker 09

* Nob Factory

* Plunkblog

* Sab Illustration
* Sean Phillips
* SecondLitArt

* TchacTchac

* Wim Lockefeer at FPI 01
* Wim Lockefeer at FPI 02
* Wim Lockefeer at FPI 03

* Yozone

Miscellaneous
* Ellen Lindner Portraits
* Maliki Strip

News Stories and Columns
* ActuaBD.com: Prize Round-Up
* ActuaBD.com: Blutch Grand Prize Win
* ActuaBD.com: Expos Reviewed
* ActuaBD.com: Prix Charlie Schlingo Winner
* ActuaBD.com: Prix Tournesol Win
* ActuaBD.com: More Angouleme Prizes
* ActuaBD.com: Yes We Can
* Artico

* Bodoi.info Directory

* MundoComic

* Wartmag Directory

* Zona Negativa

Photos
* Laurent Melikian
* le bousou
* Les trucs de Myrtilles
* Metabunker Archive
* omonkey
* Reprodukt
* Wim Lockefeer Judge Dredd Picture

Video
* FNAC Video Archives
* Liberartion.fr: Blutch
* Some Sort of Czech Television Broadcast

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Keith Knight’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Alt-weekly regular and daily syndicated cartoonist Keith Knight gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Beards of our Forefathers: a Wondermark Collection, David Malki
* Postage Stamp Funnies, Shannon Wheeler
* True Stories Swear to God Omnibus, Tom Beland
* Pamplemousse: A Bob the Angry Flower Collection, Stephen Notley
* Skin Horse, Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Wells
* The Death of Black Mane, Mike LaRiccia
 
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Jeremy Tinder’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The comics maker Jeremy Tinder gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Ganges #2, Kevin Huizenga
2. Acme Novelty Library #19, Chris Ware
3. Kramers Ergot #7, Various
4. Spaniel Rage, Vanessa Davis
5. Fine Tooth Comics, Onsmith and John Hankiewicz
 
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If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Vermont, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Brussels, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Assignment Horror!

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Go, Look: McSnurtle The Turtle

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Go, Look: The Monster Show

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Go, Look: Revenge

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the retailer Brian Hibbs with more smart commentary on Diamond's decision to raise its minimums. He's riffing on this one by Chris Butcher, if you haven't read it yet.

image * I found this deeply disturbing on levels I didn't even know I had.

* although it may get lost in the posts detailing portions of their business seminar at NYCC yesterday, ICv2.com's top properties posts are kind of fun. Here's one on the most valuable superhero properties; here's another on a category called "fiction and reality," which strikes me as potentially everything.

* not comics: so the Watchmen movie opens up one month from today. I think the most fascinating outcome would be for it to be really, really faithful in every way that counts and yet still bombs with no one in a broader-than-comics sense liking it, just because I can't imagine what you'd say about that happening if you believe Watchmen is the pinnacle of artistic achievement in comics.

* by the way, I want to say for the record it annoys the shit out of me to hear DC executives bragging about their Watchmen print runs when they've been hiding their print runs on almost everything for years and years and years, for no discernible reason but to be able to press the advantage of not having their crappier sales runs exposed when they get asses kicked by their competition, which is a lot. It would be so wonderful for the comics business if that company would lead the industry and provide real figures. They haven't and they likely won't.

* I can't recall reading too many articles about adjustments at the big mainstream French-language publishers in reaction to the current world economic crisis, but here's one I think about a popular let go for just that reason.

* speaking of affaires Francais, I would totally go to this exhibition were I anywhere nearby, but it looks like museum shows in Picardie may have much saltier names than the museum shows in New Mexico. I'm not sure I could ask my Mom if she wanted to go.

* not comics: Dan Nadel writes about Los Angeles.

* finally, even if I were to work in comics for 200 years, I would likely never understand international cartoon competitions. They're sort of like what karate competitions are to sports writing: there's a ton of them, no one can figure out which one is more important than the other, and the people that are into them seem really into them.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Rich Buckler!

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Quick hits
Craft
On Nibs
Sean Phillips Pencils
Coloring Fantastic Four 01
Coloring Fantastic Four 02

Exhibits/Events
Jeff Parker Is Cold
Peter David At NYCC
Evan Dorkin At NYCC
Showcasing Comics In Brazil

History
Desert Island Comics
On The Miracleman Saga
Art Spiegelman On Little Orphan Annie

Industry
He Runs The Award Now

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Rosscott
Newsarama: Daniel Acuna
Wizard: Jonathan Hickman
Evan Dorkin Looks Frowny
Jewish Journal: Mia Kirshner
Cafe Babel: Ho Che Anderson
Newsarama: Grant Morrison 01
Newsarama: Grant Morrison 02
Windy City Paper: Dale Lazarov
The Brooklyn Paper: Koren Shadmi

Not Comics
Shelf Porn 04
This Made Me Laugh

Publishing
MOME Vol. 14 Preview
Flaming Carrot HC Out
Mike Thompson Joins Grande Avenue
New Sean T. Collins/Matt Rota Comic
Declining To Comment On Final Crisis
Top Shelf Starting To Take Orders On LOEG Book

Reviews
Steven Grant: Final Crisis
Shannon Smith: Road Crew
Sarah Morean: The Single Girls
Greg McElhatton: Dead, She Said
Avi Weinryb: Gacha Gacha Vol. 8
Benjamin Birdie: Agents of Atlas #1
Hervé St.-Louis: Captain America #46
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5
Noah Berlatsky: Best American Comics 2053
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Frankenstein: Prodigal Son Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Silver Age Teen Titans Archives
 

 
February 5, 2009


IDW To Publish Bloom County Library

imageYou can read the press release here. This is fascinating on a ton of levels if you follow the comics reprints business. First, Bloom County is considered one of the remaining jewels of archival collection. It was a fine strip with a passionate fanbase including hardcore fans that would want the ultimate iteration of this material and a sizable, slightly more casual fanbase that might be talked into getting a definitive treatment. Second, this is IDW's first modern strip, which could mean a lot of things going forward. Third, this takes right off the table one of the two or three remaining strips that could have sustained an all-in-one treatment like Andrews McMeel gave The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. I'd say that program's dead unless you count the Dilbert 2.0, and I'm not sure I do. Fourth, since going into the Calvin and Hobbes publication Andrews McMeel was rumored to have three or four more projects of that type in mind and a total of none have come out since, Bloom County ending up elsewhere seems to lend at least some potential viability to rumors that despite how well the book did, especially at its price point, that massive Calvin and Hobbes collection might have performed under hugely lofty expectations. I'm sure there are more, but that's all I got!
 
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This FCBD Pick Up Adorableness

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Creators Offers Rev-Up Service For Newspapers To Use In On-Line Iterations

Creators Syndicate has announced its answer to the question of how its material might work on behalf of its newspaper clients on-line: Rev-Up. It distinguishes itself from the KFS model by being a free features where revenue from advertisements is shared by the syndicate and the hosting newspaper. I greatly prefer these efforts to more distribution-level employment of various on-line strategies, although admittedly 1) it all depends on execution on a variety of levels, such as with this effort Creators being able to sell some decent ads, and 2) a lot depends on how stable on-line iterations of newspapers become in the ongoing death of print spiral, and if that stable nature will include syndicated content of any kind.
 
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Leigh Walton’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Leigh Walton of Top Shelf gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw
2. Fluffy, Simone Lia
3. Skim, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
4. Sam & Max: Surfin' the Highway, Steve Purcell
5. Aqua Leung, Mark Andrew Smith and Paul Maybury
 
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Matt Kindt’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The cartoonist Matt Kindt gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Gus and His Gang, Chris Blain
2. Dungeon, Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar
3. Essex County, Jeff Lemire
4. Skyscrapers of the Midwest, Joshua Cotter
5. Willie and Joe, Bill Mauldin
 
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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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Go, Bookmark: Four Color Forum

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Go, Look: Ellen Lindner Portraits Made At 2009 Angouleme Festival

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Go, Look: I Turned Into A Martian

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Go, Look: Charles Schulz Profile Clip


 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* on our new president 01: This is interesting. the Associated Press apparently owns the image which is the underlying photo used in the Obama/HOPE poster. I just assumed that it was given to the artist.

image* on our new president 02: apparently Dan Clowes drew him for Newsweek. I'd just re-run the image, but that would be kind of jive.

* on our new president 03: More from Daryl Cagle on the difficulty of drawing President Obama. Kudos to Cagle for slagging cartoonists that whine about the difficulties of drawing the new President. On the other hand, I'm a little uncomfortable with his including some folks drawing blue lips on President Obama as part of some overall difficulty in depicting the man in reasonable fashion to a hyper-critical audience. Blue lips is apparently an old-timey insult and general racist caricature. I was unaware of this, and I can't imagine anyone's use of the technique was intentional. However, I think when something like that happens you just sort of recognize that it's deeply unfortunate, apologize and stop it. Stuff like this happens. My brother was in a play once where they let some of the kids improvise their dialogue and one of them kept talking about going to see the red lights. So of course the parents in attendance thought this was a Red Light District joke. It wasn't, but the director still told the kid to knock it off and had no problem doing so.

image* OTBP: there's a comic about the polio vaccine in this month's issue of Rotarian. Yes, I read Rotarian. I think more people in comics should belong to Rotary. Actually, does .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) What about Moose, Elks or Eagles?

* I can't recall seeing a photo of Ralf Konig before. What a funny cartoonist that guy is.

* on our new president postscript: it just occurred to me if anyone out there in the editorial cartoon realm is feeling absolutely comfortable going right after President Obama, it's probably Pat Oliphant. Like him or lump him, that guy has pick fights with much larger and younger men in an elevator when everybody's been drinking tendencies. Let's double-check: Yep.

* finally, I wanted to mention something that didn't make it into my more formal posts on Reed Exhibition putting a show into Chicago. While the economy certainly isn't at this moment favorable to a new comics show, it occurs to me that Reed may see some make-up for this disadvantage by choosing to have the convention at Chicago's downtown McCormick Place. The convention business is severely competitive right now, with traditional locations like downtown Chicago losing out to warm-weather sites for a dozen years now and more recently seeing the effects of virtual conventions and reduced convention schedules. I have to imagine that the Chicago tourism board and McCormick Place -- a facility having just come off some mid-decade upgrades -- are going to be extremely amenable partners for Reed.
 
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Happy 94th Birthday, Gabriel Vargas!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Val Semeiks!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Yuko Tsuno!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Matteo Piana!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Virginie Broquet!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Lennart Elworth!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Volker Sponholz!

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Quick hits
Craft
What's Going On With Superman's Hand?

Exhibits/Events
Go See Kazu Kibuishi
Ben Templesmith at NYCC
Larry Marder At WonderCon

History
Ralph Bakshi On Gene Deitch
Happy Birthday, Petit Nicholas

Industry
A Typical Cartoonist's Day
Watchmen, Naruto Dominant
Viz Dominates 2008 Bookscan

Interviews/Profiles
Pulse: Richard Meyer
Wizard: Jerry Ordway
Newsarama: Jeff Smith
Newsarama: Jeff Parker
Newsarama: Grant Morrison

Not Comics
Bully's Poetry
Lux Interior, RIP
Join The Parker Army
Check Out The Opertoon Phone App

Reviews
Marc Singer: Final Crisis
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Tom Bondurant: Final Crisis
Eric Burns: Least I Could Do
David P. Welsh: Agents Of Atlas
Don MacPherson: Shirtlifter #2-3
Zak Edwards: Fantastic Four #563
Leroy Douresseaux: Double Trouble
Nina Stone: Battlefields: Dear Billy #1
Amy Goldschlager: Planet Saturday Vol. 1
 

 
February 4, 2009


Ten Things I’d Do At NYCC 2009

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Good luck to everyone exhibiting at or attending this weekend's New York Comic-Con and related activities. Here's what I would do if I were on hand, boiled down to ten items:

1. Take In The Sights
With the economy in a precarious situation and the fact that the New York Comic-Con still has that new show smell, you can have a good time just taking in the show as kind of a performance in progress. You can look for who has what kind of booth. You can see how traffic flows. You can see how the show has arranged certain types of booths in certain places. Are there strange, empty spaces where exhibitors should be? Are all the NY publishers there? Are there offbeat attractions that are surprisingly popular with attendees? Shows like NYCC can reveal a lot of information about comics and about themselves if you only care to look.

2. Look After The Indy/Alt Contingent
Go here, copy the Daily Cross Hatch list, and make it a point to visit all of those people and peruse their wares. NYCC has a small indy/alt presence due to a variety of factors, but that doesn't mean these folks aren't just as worth your time as they are at the other shows they attend. Don't think of it has having no time to hang out with Fantagraphics; think of it has having more time to hang out with Fanfare/Ponent Mon.

3. Attend the CBLDF Party
My general rule for cons is to attend every party to which you're invited, and you're invited to this one. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's welcome to New York party sounds like an affordable way to enjoy an evening hobnobbing with comics folks, all for a good cause. Remember to compliment Charles Brownstein on his weight loss.

4. Hit The Other Comics-Based Non-Profits
Please double-check your exhibitor list to see where all the various schools and charities might be on the floor, visit them, and consider giving them some of your money.

5. Walk Very, Very Slowly Through Artist's Alley
A strength of NYCC is its reasonably large section of artists selling books and making art -- the traditional Artists Alley. There are more than a few powerhouses back here if you care to look, or at least that's been the case for the initial years of the show's existence. I spent 60 percent of my con time in this area of the floor. I'd like to recommend programming (PDF) to take you off the floor, but other than the Calvin Reid-moderated one with Judith Hansen, who talks straight, none of it really interests me. Well, maybe the one with Paul Karasik on Sunday about visual symbolism. That looked pretty good, too.

6. Attend the ICv2.com Presentation
This is the day before, but it's a series of lectures and speeches on comics business and the state of the art form (well, sort of) organized by the news and analysis site ICv2.com. If you qualify to go, go. It is full of bran, and very, very good for you. Also: this year you get Art Spiegelman, a great comics artist and a great comics talker. One more bonus: the shmoozing afterwards is maybe the best press per square foot opportunity comics gives you in the calendar year.

7. Do Stuff in New York
If you're not from New York, and I admit this may not be a ton of you, but if you're not from New York don't forget that you're in one of the world's greatest cities and act accordingly. You should eat out -- at least walk the couple of blocks over to 9th Ave during con hours and eat a cupcake -- and go to a museum or three. Heck, some of the best comics shops in the world are in Manhattan, if you feel perverse enough to take time away from the funnybook show to look at some more funnybooks. Since the con's being held in one of the freezing-ass weather months it likely won't be as fun to walk around as it was last year, but the things to do when you get there will be that much more inviting for their ability to provide relief from the cold.

8. Go Visit Craig Yoe
There's only one man who's at New York Comic-Con to sign and promote his new book of pervy Joe Shuster art, and that man's name is Craig Yoe. I imagine a peek at the various stuff the Abrams book line has up and out for perusal would be a must-see in general. In fact, if you're lost for something to do, most of the book publishing people there are trained to talk about forthcoming plans in a way that comics people usually aren't, so you can usually get a ton of information just for asking.

9. Catch Scott Pilgrim Fever
I can't recall a book being declared the book of a show before the show, but the latest Scott Pilgrim volume is getting exactly that kind of buzz. It's rare that a book series hits in this way with enough of an audience that people stand up and pay attention, so there's plenty of good vibes to groove on in the new volume's debut even if you're as yet unfamiliar with the work.

10. Buy Some Comics
If you can spare the cash, you can probably get a lot of nice books, custom art and or related items and the people from whom you purchase them will probably be extra-grateful. Sometimes it's nice to take a leap of faith on some works, especially if they come from someone who eschews the art of the hard-sell.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

Publishing news from hither and yon, as I learn how to do a better job of reporting it:

* the cartoonist Scott McCloud will publish two books through First Second. The first fiction, the second non-fiction. Unlike most authors, in a commercial sense it's the non-fiction work that has the better chance to appeal. I'm a little weirded out by the emphasis on McCloud joining up with First Second instead of their just publishing work by him, like he's grabbing his guitar and joining them on tour. Is that some sort of odd book publishing branding I don't pay attention to when it's not a comics person?

* the cartoonist and artist Tom Neely has announced his next project:
It's called "The Wolf." This book is going to be a collaboration between my comics and the music of Aaron Turner (of ISIS and many other good bands). Aaron is going to compose and record a sort of soundtrack for the book.
That sounds interesting, although I wouldn't know Aaron from Nat. That's a piece of art from the project above.

* IDW is relaunching Dick Tracy in their more attractive, over-sized dailies format.

* you may not believe me when I say so, but I'm looking forward to Tom McLean's Mutant Cinema. I think there's an interesting story to be told about Marvel's first several forays into film. There's also a lot of really non-interesting stories to be had on that subject, too, so there's a want-to-see aspect to it for me.

image* did I ever link to this great post about AdHouse's plans for 2009 -- or at least part of that year? I probably didn't... it looks like a good year to me. Books by Ronnie del Carmen, Mike Dawson, Lamar Abrams; books in the works by Fred Chao, James Jean, Vito Delsante/Rachel Freire and Josh Cotter.

* this is something I hadn't known before: the Saga Of The Swamp Thing comics have apparently never appeared in hardcover form.

* Brad Guigar is ending Phables.

* the Daily Cartoonist site is opening itself up for people other than Alan Gardner to post stories.

* I don't know if this is an economy thing or not, but DC is adding 100 pages to its Absolute V For Vendetta project and keeping the same price point. I assume it's sketchbook and support material, not V For Vendetta Babies or anything like that.

* the cartoonist Norm Feuti's on-line effort Gill has found a new home.

* finally, in fold up the keyboard and call it a day news, I had no idea Dark Horse was doing a four-volume series of Jesse Marsh Tarzan stories, and I'm too chicken to track down if I knew this and forgot or if the whole thing somehow completely escaped my attention. Despite whatever forgetting it may say about encroaching senility, the reaction to the news itself is a guarded "Hooray!" That's the first cover right below.

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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #17

* the retailer and prominent blogger Chris Butcher finally has his thoughts up on the recent Diamond Comics Distributor decision to raise minimums in a way that seem to spell Direct Market doom for many alt-comics, independents, undergrounds and general small press. I'd make fun of his taking so much time getting his thoughts up, but I haven't finished my own article on it yet.

* with so much material on-line, expect a lot of attention to be paid to premium services, one way that creators/publishers can derive income from fans devoted to one strip or another. Gary Tyrrell writes about something called AssetBar here; it seems to count among its clients PvP and Achewood, among others.

* I guess it's nice that newspapers want to fight against the negative perceptions hitting their industry, but I don't think what's facing traditional newspaper publication is a perception battle as much as it is a paradigm shift taking place under the severe pressure of a specific kind of recession. Also, it's funny to me that in order to get the word out about their being healthy, they're going on-line. You should watch their efforts, though, if only for the reason that I think the numbers will really underline that it's not about severe drops in readership as much as it's about a readership that can no longer support the heavy costs of organizing information this way.

* apparently, the media is still dying.

* finally, the beleaguered bookseller of many things including comics Borders restructures some of its executive-level staff. My dad used to say that you don't arrange the furniture the day you leave the house for good, so I guess this could be a positive.
 
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Your CBLDF Various Events Update

* for some reason, I keep forgetting to mention that the Christopher Handley case was postponed. No firm date has yet to be set. The CBLDF is supplying supplementary legal expertise and witnesses to the defense. Handley is being tried for having in his position comics material that may or may not contain instances of child pornography. The trial was scheduled to start this week.

* you can attend a fundraiser for the Fund ($5 members/$10 non-menbers) this Thursday evening. The CBLDF can always use the extra funds, and as a lot of people in comics take their free speech rights seriously, these are usually well-attended events with a lot of comics' best and brightest.

* the CBLDF's Executive Director Charles Brownstein talks some here about the fundraising implications of the changes in the yearly con schedule that will take place with the addition of the Chicago convention organized by Reed Exhibitions.
 
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Joe Keatinge’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Joe Keatinge gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Madman Atomic Comics, Mike Allred
2. Bat-Manga, Jiro Kuwata and Chip Kidd and Saul Ferris
3. Black Jack VOLUME 1, Osamu Tezuka
4. Ditko and Etc..., Steve Ditko
5. Savage Dragon, Erik Larsen
 
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Your ‘08 Diamond Gem Award Winners

The dominant distributor to comics and hobby shops, Diamond Comic Distributors, has released its Gem Award Winners list for publishers publishing and various items being put on sale in 2008. They are:

imageSUPPLIERS
* Comic Book Publisher of the Year Over 5 Percent Market Share: Marvel Comics
* Comic Book Publisher of the Year Under 5 Percent Market Share: IDW Publishing
* New Comic Book Publisher of the Year: Radical Publishing
* Star System Backlist Publisher of the Year: DC Comics
* Game Manufacturer of the Year: Wizards of the Coast
* Toy Manufacturer of the Year: DC Direct
* Sports Card Manufacturer of the Year: The Upper Deck Company
* Non-Sports Card Manufacturer of the Year: Inkworks
* Video Manufacturer of the Year: Warner Home Video

imagePRODUCTS
* Comic Book of the Year Under $3.00: Walking Dead #50
* Comic Book of the Year Over $3.00: Secret Invasion #1
* Original Graphic Novel of the Year: Joker
* Reprint TP or HC of the Year: Watchmen
* Licensed Comic Book of the Year: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12
* Licensed Trade Paperback of the Year: Serenity: Better Days
* Manga TP of the Year: Naruto Vol. 28
* Magazine of the Year: Wizard Magazine
* Toy Line of the Year: DC Direct 1:6 Scale Collector's Figures
* Toy Product of the Year Dark Knight: The Joker 1:6 Scale Collector Figure
* Collectible Statue of the Year: Batman: Black & White Frank Miller Statue
* Mini Bust of the Year: Women of the DCU Series 2 Wonder Woman Bust
* Sports Card Product of the Year: Topps Chrome NFL T/C Box
* Non-Sports Card Product of the Year: Marvel Masterpieces Set 2 Trading Cards
* Game Product of the Year: World of Warcraft CMG
* Video/DVD of the Year: Batman: The Dark Knight DVD
 
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Dylan Williams’ Best Comics Of 2008

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Dylan Williams of Sparkplug gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Eschew #1, Robert Sergel
* I Cut My Hair #1, Lisa Eisenberg
* Wormdye, Eamon Espey
* You Don't Get There From Here #6-9, Carrie McNinch
* In the Tall Grass # 3, Tessa Brunton
 
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If I Were In NJ, I’d Go To This

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Go, Bookmark: Comics Bronze Age

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Go, Look: Evan Dorkin Designs

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one, two, three
 
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Go, Look: Sickles Editorial Cartoons

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the comics news site ActuaBD.com has an update on the Uderzo family's battles over Asterix. I find this story quite depressing.

image* the cartoonist Jeremy Eaton recalls drawing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with his 90-year-old grandfather.

* the cartoonist and blogger Mike Lynch digs up an older post where an author is mad that he's not allowed to use someone's comics work the way he would like, and feels he owed that usage because of his past patronage. It's a fun post because the author Lynch discusses seems to be working from The Big Book Of Internet Usage Cliches. As I've stated in the past, I think it's an issue of creators rights, both supporting creators in what they want to do with their creations no matter how much we feel we know better, and holding them to the contracts they sign no matter how much they don't care if we do so.

* I love cartoonists, but the Times policy doesn't sound at all unreasonable to me. Someone had to write that Daily Show sketch, too.

* a few folks out there have linked to these Stan Lee fumetti strips. My memory is dim about this stuff at this point, but I believe Lee self-published some fumetti comics in the early 1960s and tried at least one syndicated strip with same -- once in the 1970s (the linked-to strips), but maybe an earlier one in the 1960s, too. The one in the 1970s came during that period when he was trying out a lot of side projects. I think what's interesting about Lee's fumetti stuff is that if you think about it, writing gags over pictures isn't unlike scripting in the classic Marvel style. Also, I seem to recall that the '70s iteration died when it proved a lot more difficult than it used to be to get easy and free access to pictures of celebrities and other famous people.

* not comics: all respect to writer, editor and purported Element Lad fan Robert Drake on surviving 10 years after the hate crime visited upon him.

* finally, Tom Richmond's reply to a funny posting on the Cracked site about MAD going quarterly may be too defensive for some people, but I found it got at the heart of one side-issue regarding that publishing move. No matter what shape MAD takes as a publication and as a brand, I think it's okay to be depressed about and miss the monthly comics magazine, because that's its own thing.
 
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Happy 31st Birthday, Souther Salazar!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Jean-Louis Tripp!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Tom Sniegoski!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Dez Skinn!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Scott Saavedra!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Jeanine Rahir!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Renee Rahir!

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Quick hits
Craft
PJ Holden Makes A Dredd Cover

Exhibits/Events
Phoenix Show Report
Alternative Press Fair Round-Up
Fantagraphics Not Attending NYCC

Industry
ComicsPRO/Top Cow Giveaway
Technical Difficulties Delays Fanta Orders

Interviews/Profiles
CBC: Guy Delisle
Fleen: Steven Cloud
CBR: Various X-Editors
Newsarama: Jeff Smith
Wizard: Art Spiegelman
Newsarama: Steve Pugh
AV Club: David Petersen
Talking With Tim: Lilli Carre
Comics Waiting Room: Josh Medors
Comics Waiting Room: Jimmy Palmiotti

Not Comics
This Looked Pretty Cool
Jules Feiffer's Animation
Peter David Blogs The Super Bowl

Publishing
I Like This Gag
I Like This Gag, Too
New Peter Kuper Comic
Achewood Returns After Hiatus

Reviews
Nina Stone: Various
Brian Hibbs: Various
Philip Schweier: Final Crisis
Johnny Bacardi: Final Crisis
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Sulk #1-2
Greg McElhatton: Mysterius #1
Hervé St-Louis: Daredevil #115
Zak Edwards: Runaways Vol. 3 #6
Leroy Douresseaux: Naruto Vol. 36
Sean T. Collins: In The Flesh: Stories
Herve St. Louis: Spider-Man: Extra! #2
Brian Cronin: The Quest For The Missing Girl
 

 
February 3, 2009


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

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely 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 tomorrow I would more than likely pick up the following and look them over, staining them with all that grease from some fried chicken at Ezell's.

*****

AUG080118 FINAL CRISIS LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #3 (OF 5) $3.99
I'm pretty certain I was following this at one point... maybe I was in college?

JUL082204 MADMAN ATOMIC COMICS #13 $3.50
This went from being a quirky comic I liked okay to a quirky comic that bored me silly to a quirky comic I find deeply weird.

DEC082328 AGENTS OF ATLAS #1 DKR $3.99
It's the superheroes from 1954 in the Marvel Universe of 2009 bearing the comic book price point from 2021! I liked the limited series from a few years back, and Marvel could use more oddball, mid-list performers that don't make any sense.

NOV088144 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10 SECRET RETAILER VAR $2.99
I want to know more about these secret retailers, and their Secret Retailer Var. Sounds German.

DEC084246 08 GRAPHIC DIARY OF THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL GN $17.95
The only comic out this week endorsed by Andrew Sullivan.

DEC084304 BIG SKINNY HOW I CHANGED MY FATTITUDE GN $18.00
Anyone that doesn't love Carol Lay should. Great price point, too.

DEC083914 BOYS #27 (MR) $2.99
This has to be the longest-running Ron Rege title ever.

OCT083922 EUREKA #1 (OF 4) $3.99
I watch the TV show with my gray-haired Mom. It's extremely cute. Can't say as I ever thought it should be a comic book or that I wanted more of it in any form, comics or TV -- but hey, the guy co-owns the company.

NOV084320 SLAM DUNK GN VOL 02 $7.99
I didn't like reading this in Shonen Jump because the players add skills like Redwoods add rings, but getting a bunch of it at once is fun.

DEC084184 SCOTT PILGRIM GN VOL 05 SP VS THE UNIVERSE $11.95
Probably the book of the week in terms of general audience anticipation. Well, an audience I could belong to or have belonged to at some point in my life, anyway.

DEC084247 I SAW YOU COMICS INSPIRED BY REAL LIFE MISSED CONNECTIONS $12.95
I totally had a moment with this book at the comics shop, but it never called me.

*****

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 so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, 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. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, I blame market forces.

*****
*****
 
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Please Consider Helping Dave Simons

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Daniel Best asks that you consider hiring or helping the artist Dave Simons out. Apparently, he's been struggling along with esophageal cancer for some time now and need to intensify his treatments in order to extend his life. While the medical portion of his expenses looks like it's mostly covered, which is a wonderful thing, he could use the extra work or cash to help make day to day expenses. I think of Simons as one of those solid craftsmen that seems to have always been around, and I think, although I'm not 100 percent sure, that he's done a lot of inking over the years for some of the better Silver Age illustrator-type comics artists out there. All the information you should need is in the link. His site, including an art for sale page, is here.
 
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Go, Bookmark: David Brothers Brings Back His Black History Month Series

David Brothers will be blogging once a day this month in recognition of Black History Month. Just from reading the first few essays, it seems like you'll get a point of view that is often unexpressed in regular comics outlets. If that interests you, you might give Brothers' work a try.
 
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Bill Kartalopoulos’ Best Of 2008

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One-time devoted comics blogger and arts comics industry insider Bill Kartalopoulos gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

* Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, Art Spiegelman
* Acme Novelty Library #19, Chris Ware
* Windy Corner #2, Edited by Austin English
* Ganges #2 and Fight or Run: Shadow of the Chopper, Kevin Huizenga
* Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby, Takashi Nemoto
 
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Sometimes The Internet Disappoints Me

I think it unfortunate that the alt-weekly cartoonist Neil Swaab issued an apology for a mini-essay he wrote about the decline of alt-newspaper cartooning and the limitations of the Internet as a home for those cartoonists. I mean, it's nice as all hell, and speaks well of him as a person, but I selfishly sort of liked that he put those thoughts out there. Even though many of the responses were strong -- one, two -- I tend to see passionate dialogue as a good thing, and I think it's really only the fact that we argue a certain way on-line that makes this kind of conversation difficult.

In this case, I think it's the tendency to go to extremes that complicates matters, both for the way it leads to strong statements like Swaab's but also -- and perhaps more importantly -- in that people tend to cast different strategies as competing when they might be. Further, it seems that the constant rehash which is on-line argumentation sometimes compels people to get behind one of the strategies either to bolster their own choice or to look as if they're out in front on the best way of doing things. Me, I believe that the more ways that people have to make money from their comics, the better off things are for cartooning in general. I love the various webcomics models, including the drive-to-merchandise way of doing things, and I don't think there's anything morally objectionable to any of them. Driving readers to merchandise makes a lot of sense and in various ways has been around since comics' first decades as a commercial art form. As one of the links above points out, merchandising is what made Charles Schulz a very wealthy man. Yet I also think it's important to point out that the health of the traditional newspaper model until very, very recently is what allowed Bill Watterson to not merchandise while still earning a great living at his art. I want as many strategies as encompass as many different kinds of artists and their temperaments and skill sets as humanly possible. Alt-weeklies gave us Jules Feiffer, Tony Millionaire, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry and Chris Ware. I don't think it's wrong for Swaab to be dismayed when things become more narrow, and I don't think it's wrong for any of us to be concerned if a rich tradition of making comics has started down the road from ailing to all the way gone.

In ways the Internet does not disappoint me, here's a fine interview by Matt Bors with Alt-Weekly Editor Kevin Allman. That might be easier to get to just by going to Bors' blog and finding the appropriate entry. Lots of great stuff there, not limited to: the cost of dropping a cartoon isn't the cost of the cartoon but that cost plus the potential for ad space revenue it frees up, the Huffington Post is a total exploitative fraud (which isn't really a comics-related point, but needs to be mentioned as much as possible), and that it's the same with alt-weeklies as it is with so many of the entities suffering in the economic downturn: it may be the that the framework is too expensive, not that the product itself is bad or outdated.
 
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Douglas Wolk’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Widely-read critic Douglas Wolk gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Fight or Run: Shadow of the Chopper, Kevin Huizenga
2. All-Star Superman #10, Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly
3. Mome #12, Various
4. Big Questions #11, Anders Nilsen
5. Omega the Unknown #10, Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple

He ran this list on his own site.

1. The Education of Hopey Glass, Jaime Hernandez
2. What It Is, Lynda Barry
3. Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw
4. Kramers Ergot 7
5. Omega the Unknown, Jonathan Lethem and Karl Rusnak and Farel Dalrymple
6. Travel, Yuichi Yokoyama
7. Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella, Lewis Trondheim
8. The Great Outdoor Fight, Chris Onstad
9. The Rabbi's Cat 2, Joann Sfar
10. Scott McCloud: Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection, Scott McCloud
 
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If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Montreal, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Richard Sala Covers Batman

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Go, Look: Anti-Commie Comics

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Go, Look: Vigilante Stories

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Go, Look: Li’l Melvin

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posted 6:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I completely and horrifically blew covering the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act stuff, whereby many smart people in comics pointed out that efforts to keep our nation's children from sucking on lead toys might have a debilitating effect on the ability of comics and related small vendors to do business at shows and in general. I have a longer piece in the works, but maybe all it needed was a "Here's the issue" piece of the kind that other sites have been smarter bringing to light. I apologize to those of you who brought this to my attention. At any rate, the appropriate government agency has apparently issued a reprieve against enforcing these standards, so there's time to figure this out.

image* that sound you hear is 10,000 older comics fans cooing over these pieces of art from a forthcoming Kyle Baker Hawkman project. One of the things that I think is strangely underexplored in superhero comics is an approach that emphasizes executing the crap out of action scenes and related action set pieces. You can find this approach if you look -- Mark Millar's more successful comics are like this, and the Brubaker/Fraction comics do this a bit -- but I think there's a greater tendency towards playing against those elements (in favor of the soap opera or genre commentary) or even with the expectations caused by them rather than playing into the choreography and the action.

* I know it's uncouth to link to sales, but there are a lot of great books in the new Fantagraphics clearance offering and in the sense that recessions for most of us are opportunities to buy at discount for some of you I thought I'd mention it here. The Joe Daly, Roger Langridge, Jules Feiffer and Ted Jouflas books strike me as those that might never be reprinted and are quite good besides. Ted Jouflas is a fascinating cartoonist who has received almost no attention for his work. For years I avoided Jouflas' work because I didn't like the general look of it, if that makes any sense, but the books like Scary! are so funny they finally won me over. The Ed Sorel collection is great, too.

* I ran a link to it as a review, but it occurs to me that Brian Hibbs' take on Final Crisis #7 should also be singled out as industry analysis. Hibbs suggests the possibility that Final Crisis may work as art while also being awful publishing strategy. He's not the first retailer to suggest out loud that the general heave and thrust of DC's line over the last few years has frustrated more than a few fans. I personally think it may lead to a continued lack of strength in the company's middle-list comics -- although it's always hard to tell because even severe dissatisfaction gets spread across a delayed ordering system. Speaking of which, can anyone out there that's qualified to do so (qualifications perhaps limited to reading a lot of comics) .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) DC's general strategy coming off this last mini-series? I'm guessing it's letting the better-received writers do some work character to character a la Geoff Johns on Green Lantern, but I'm not sure.

* many of your favorite comics bloggers ask what Superman sang to destroy Darkseid in that FC issue. Me, I think there's only one choice.

* finally, there's not a ton of reaction to Reed Exhibitions moving its New York Comic-Con to Fall in 2010 and starting a Chicago show in spring that same year. It might be noted that it's a real vote of confidence in the comics industries, because it's not like Reed is running around greenlighting everything right now. One person wrote me a note that a DC representative and a Marvel representative being included in the initial press release is like Bill Cosby (Reed) walking across the party and punching Tommie Smothers (Wizard) in the face. In other words, it's on between those two, despite what either might say in the weeks and months ahead. It's also been suggested to me that more attention should have been paid to how this might have an effect on the rest of the convention calendar, but I'm not convinced it will have any effect. The Chicago show seems far enough away from WonderCon both geographically and in "convention time" that it wouldn't seem to be an issue, while the NYCC indy/alt contingent is so sad and withered that I can't imagine that show being any real danger to SPX unless they choose the exact same weekend. The Baltimore Con might take a hit, I guess, but my hunch is that people already do that one out of affection for the show rather than as a cold business decision that might now be usurped in favor of running around the Javits Center. Plus, you know, who doesn't like crab?
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Alain Sikorski!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Philippe Aymond!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 37th Birthday, Olivier Milhiet!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Richard Marschall!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Blacks And Grays

Exhibits/Events
Len Wein at NYCC

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Mark Waid
Wizard: Mike Benson
Star Bulletin: Carol Lay
Newsarama: Jeremy Haun
Paul Gravett: Emma Rendel
Newsarama: Christopher Yost

Not Comics
Be Afraid
Go Buy Some Darryl Cunningham Paintings

Publishing
The Return Of Reggie 12
Two More Called Up From Comics Sherpa
Cracked Responds to MAD's Publishing Problems
Holy Crap, A Lot Of Good Books Are Coming Out

Reviews
Rob Clough: Various
Derik Badman: Mushishi
Evan Waters: Final Crisis
Josiah Leighton: Foligatto
Tim O'Neil: Final Crisis #7
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Koppy McFad: Reign In Hell #7
Marc-Oliver Frisch: Mysterius #1
Robin McConnell: Papercutter #8
Hervé St-Louis: New Avengers #49
Richard Bruton: Marshal Law: Fear & Loathing
Henry Chamberlain: Mysterius the Unfathomable
 

 
February 2, 2009


Reed Confirms Long-Rumored Chicago Show; Moves NYCC To Fall Permanently

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Here's the Reed Exhibitons press release:

reedshowinchicago.doc

So basically, what that is is confirmation of what's been heavily, heavily rumored for a long time -- maybe a year? -- in various industry circles. Conventions giant Reed Exhibitions be doing a show in Chicago starting in 2010 that's modeled on the New York Comic-Con. With a new permanent Fall slot of NYCC, the Chicago show will be in the Spring rather than in the Fall. It's to be called the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo and the first one will be April 16-18 next year.

There's a few things to watch.

* First, is how Wizard Entertainment reacts, short- and long-term. Wizard has over the last couple of years laid off a number of staffpeople and made other changes that hint at money issues even before the economy started to deteriorate in Fall 2008. Their summer convention Wizard World Chicago is by far their flagship enterprise in that field, so even if they're able to stick it out there will be a ton of pressure on them to have a good show in 2009.

* Second, it should be interesting to see if people exhibit at one over the other -- the supposed desire for certain publishers to have a show instead of the Wizard show is what drove the rumors initially.

* Third, Reed is planning to have it downtown in the McCormick Place. That brings with it some issues all by itself. As I recall, that facility has a number of options in terms of what size of show they'll be able to have. I also have to imagine it's more expensive to show than than in a convention center out by the airport, if not in direct costs than maybe in terms of getting people and housing them and moving materials in and out of town and into the hall -- again, that's a guess on my part. There's also the issue over whether or not enough people will come to downtown Chicago to make up for potential losses elsewhere. I know that sounds insane, but one advantage to Wizard's airport location is easier proximity for a lot of suburban audiences, and easy highway access from Indiana, downstate Illinois, and Wisconsin.
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bill Kohlhasse’s Best Comics Of 2008

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Mr. Kohlhasse wrote his Best Of 2008 article for OC Weekly. Books on his list include:

* My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down, David Heatley (Pantheon)
* Love and Rockets: New Stories #1, Los Bros Hernandez, (Fantagraphics)
* Burma Chronicles, Guy Delisle (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Jamilti, Rutu Modan (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Che: A Graphic Biography, Spain (Verso)
* The Best American Comics 2008, Various (Houghton Mifflin)
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Guy Delisle’s Blog

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posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Velocity Comics’ Best Comics Of 2008

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I'm not sure I quite understand whose list this is ultimately, or why one person has two lists, but there are some decent works on each of them. There are too many for me to list here, and there's nothing beyond the lists to encourage your traffic so I'm loathe to break them down.

Update: A Velocity Comics' representative wrote in. "This is Patrick Godfrey, owner of Velocity Comics. I just wanted to thank you for linking to our best of '08 lists on Brick Weekly's website, and also offer a clarification-- Brick typo'd the final list's author, which should've been attributed to TANNER BRAATEN. Sorry for any confusuon, there were indeed 4 individuals with lists; all 4 share review duties for brick and wanted all to ghave a say."
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #16

* missed it: Johanna Draper Carlson looks at a missing Tokyopop book and a bunch of canceled Tokyopop titles, which can't be a good sign given the general shape of the economy and the unsteady-seeming nature of the manga giant over the last few years. There's a link out there I read where I swear a Tokyopop official says that the missing book was basically caused by Tokyopop being more awesome than people, but I can't find it now so I'm guessing it was a fever dream. There's this, where the company says this is typical when they shed staff like they have recent.

* this column by Tucker Stone has variant covers as its specific focus, although I think it may be more valuable for its lesson of "change what we can change" and the notion that some practices are more harmful during economic down times.


 
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Alexander Zalben’s Best Of 2008

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Alexander Zalben gave Daily Cross Hatch a list of five best works from 2008 for inclusion in their year-end, best-of round-up. They were:

1. Blue Beetle #25, by John Rogers and Raphael Albuquerque
2. Monster Vol. 17, Naoki Urasawa
3. All-Star Superman #10, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
4. Hack/Slash #15-17, David Baxter and Tim Seeley and Barry Keating and Brian Yuzna and Emily Stone and Mark Englert
5. Amazing Spider-Man
 
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: December ‘08 DM Estimates

The 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 December 2008.

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

John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles has his own set of numbers up for December, which you can find in their year-end article.

I suppose the main story here would be the conclusion of Secret Invasion and its general, by-usual-measure success: strong sales overall, minimal drop-off issue to issue. The other things that leap out at me are DC's halfway-decent showing in the top 25 (although part of that is putting a lot of Batman books out that month), that Final Crisis has really found its bottom, which will probably be enough to make it #1 in January, DC's strong performance on the graphic novel's chart. I find it interesting that while there aren't that many books selling over 100,000, there are routinely 4000-6000 more sales on books further down the charts compared to those same positions five years ago. I'm not sure whether to take that as a lack of special enthusiasm for more top tales or greater enthusiasm for a wider variety of titles.

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posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Matthew Price’s Best Comics Of 2008

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The writer Matthew Price has a best-of list for 2008 posted at Nerdage. It originally appeared in The Oklahoman. His choices include:

1. Local, Bran Wood and Ryan Kelly (Oni)
2. Too Cool to Be Forgotten, Alex Robinson (Top Shelf)
3. What It Is, Lynda Barry (D&Q)
4. Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics)
5. Freddie and Me, Mike Dawson (Bloomsbury)
6. Burma Chronicles, Guy Delisle (D&Q)
7. Dugout, Adam Beechen and Manny Bello (AiT/Planet Lar)
8. Love and Rockets: The Education of Hopey Glass, Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
9. Omega The Unknown, Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple (Marvel)
10. Aya of Yop City, Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie (D&Q)
 
posted 7:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 Angouleme Prix Winners

The weekend just past was the weekend of the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee in Angouleme, France. A number of awards were announced during the festival -- some aligned with the weekend, some simply made on the weekend one imagines to better attract attention.

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FESTIVAL/GRAND PRIZE

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Grand Prix de la Ville d'Angouleme 2009: Blutch (aka Christian Hincker)
The festival's big award goes to one of the worlds but sumptuous comics artists, as the recent movement toward cartoonists emerging in the 1990s now has enough winners to its name that it's a new reality rather than a movement.

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OFFICIAL PRIZES

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Fauve D'Or: Pinocchio, Winshluss (Les Requins Marteaux)
The book of the show, or best comic prize.

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Essentiel Patrimone: Operation Mort, Shigeru Mizuki (Cornelius)
An award to the essential historical volume, which I take to mean older material.

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Essentiel Revelation: Le Gout du chlore, Bastien Vives (Casterman)
The newcomer award.

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Les Essentiels D'Angouleme: Lulu femme nue, premier livre, Etienne Davodeau (Futuropolis); Martha Jane Cannary Vol. 1, Blanchin and Perrissin (Futuropolis); Le Petit Christian Vol. 2, Blutch (L'Association); Tamara Drewe, Posy Simmonds (Denoel); Spirou et Fantasio: Le Journal d'un ingenu, Emile Bravo (Dupuis)
A list of award-winning books that replaces the more elaborate, by-division and by-category awards of years past.

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Essentiel FNAC/SNCF: Mon gras et moi, Gally, (Diantre)
Maybe like a sponsor's award?

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Essentiel Jeunesse: Le Petit Prince, Joann Sfar (Gallimard)
The main youth comics award. It was my understanding that not everyone loved this adaptation when it came out, so I wonder if it's a bid deal that it secure the win.

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I am deeply confused by the festival site's reportage on the rest of them. If I can figure out who won what and for what exactly, I'll fill this the rest of the way out.

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posted 7:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Whitney Matheson’s Best Comics Of 2008

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This was done quite a while ago, but I lost the link. It's USA Today comics-interest pop culture blogger Whitney Matheson's top comics of 2008. Her list includes:

10. What It Is, Lynda Barry (D&Q)
9. Freddie & Me, Mike Dawson (Bloomsbury)
8. Kramers Ergot 7, Various (BP)
7. Burma Chronicles, Guy Delisle (D&Q)
6. The Lagoon, Lilli Carre (Fantagraphics)
5. Swallow Me Whole, Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
4. The Alcoholic, Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel (DC)
3. Too Cool to Be Forgotten, Alex Robinson (Top Shelf)
2. Slow Storm, Danica Novgorodoff (First Second)
1. Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics)
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Tons Of Walt Kelly

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posted 6:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: All About Obama

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posted 6:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Actress, The Millionaire And The Met

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posted 6:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Wally Wood Blog

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posted 6:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the blog at The Stranger notes that while the Seattle Times may not be quite as troubled as its Emerald City rival Seattle Post-Intelligencer, it just might enter into Chapter 11 bankruptcy at some point this year. I don't think anyone goes into Chapter 11 without the thought of surviving it and pressing forward, but it shows you how tenuous a lot of papers are out there, and how non-transferable a lot of the ad interest would be to the Times if the P-I is shuttered.

image* you should check out Chris Mautner's interview with Mark Siegel and stick around for the comments thread. I have to say, I'm surprised that anyone would think of Three Shadows as something other than a book for young readers. I think it has something to offer older readers, but I always saw it as a classic kids' story. This may speak to Eddie Campbell's point about the growing tendency to orient stuff towards a younger readership than any analysis of a single publisher ever could. Also, we find out the DM does roughly 1/3 of First Second's business.

* not comics: business closes because owner sick of morons.

* Alan Gardner at The Daily Cartoonist has opened up his blog for posts from the community of people that read the site.

* the recent spate of Obama appearances in comics may not be on the sturdiest legal ground -- it looks like Marvel has disclaimered itself far enough away from its "we're real/DC is not" stance for some ribbing to be justified.

* here's a few objections from Tim Broderick to statements made by an anonymous industry person on this site yesterday. I got a few letters from people castigating me for running it and attacking the content of the article. As for the publishing choice, I remain happy with my decision to run it. As for the disagreements, I have to be honest with you: if I get something about site content that says "not for publication" and it's not from a lawyer, a current advertiser or a close friend, I'm 90 percent likely to delete it without even reading it.

* not comics: I'm not sure why I failed to post this list of E&P's top news stories for the year 2008, but there it is. Anyone who's been reading this blog even halfway sober -- which is more than half of you, I'm certain -- will be able to guess the #1 story.

* finally, comics blogging godfather Neilalien presents the 02008 Neilalien awards. If you don't know the focus of the site, trust me: you'll pick up on it.
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Bob Schreck!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Olivier Mangin!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Ha Ha
Ooh, I Like That Cover
Jordan Crane Sketches
Ignition City #1 Covers
This Guy Loves Kelley Jones

Exhibits/Events
Madden and Abel at NYCC
ICAF 2009 Call For Papers
Mysterius Launch Party Report
Report On New Yorker Cartoon Money Exhibit

History
Harvey Pekar Or Reid Fleming?
Comics Enriched Their Lives 11
Comics Enriched Their Lives 10
Various Football-Related Covers
Individual-Background Peanuts Analyzed

Industry
Vote In Wizard Fan Awards
Art Comics People Are Snobs
Happy 20th Anniversary, Jim McCloskey
Happy 8th Birthday, Dan Clowes Bibliography

Interviews/Profiles
Pulse: Stan Sakai
NY Times: Dean Haspiel
Nextbook: Sergio Langer
Blog@Newsarama: Josh Neufeld

Not Comics
Scrye Ends
Jeff Smith Link-O-Rama
Book Publishing Is Gross
Watchmen, Book To Screen

Publishing
This Guy Hates Stuff
He Hates Digital Comics
What Peter David's Up To
Agents Of Atlas Previewed
Tell Them About Your Webcomic
More Obama In The Comics Plans

Reviews
Dr. K. : Final Crisis
Monte Cook: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Matthew Brady: Skim
J. Caleb Mozzocco: '08
Nick Mullins: What It Is
Brigid Alverson: Travel
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Sean T. Collins: The Plot
Michael May: Agnes Quill
Paul O'Brien: X-Force #11
Brian Hibbs: Final Crisis #7
Hervé St-Louis: Final Crisis
Rob Vollmar: Final Crisis #7
Greg McElhatton: Trinity #35
Don MacPherson: Eureka #1
Katherine Dacey: Manhwa 100
Benjamin Birdie: Final Crisis #7
Jog: Oishinbo: A La Carte Vol. 1
Graeme McMillan: Final Crisis #7
Sarah Boslaugh: Into The Volcano
Edgar Allan Moore: Journey Vol. 2
Leroy Douresseaux: Hell Girl Vol. 5
Matthew Brady: Crogan's Vengeance
Koppy McFad: Justice Society of America #23
Noah Berlatsky: The Best American Comics 2008
Jeff Lester: Final Crisis #7, Superman Beyond #2
 

 
February 1, 2009


Blutch Wins Angouleme Grand Prix

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The Fauve D'Or goes to Winshluss' Pinocchio. A full list of the prize-winners here.
 
posted 10:16 am PST | Permalink
 

 
“I’m Sick Of The Complaints”—An Anonymous Message From A Comics Insider On Diamond’s New Minimums

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Editor's Note: I'm not a big fan of anonymity, but I can vouch that the person who wrote it and sent it to me has executive to above status at their company. Also, I've been hearing variations of the following from so many people I thought it might do to have it all in one place. -- Tom Spurgeon

By Anonymous

I'm sick of the complaints about Diamond's new policy. Is it fair? Hard to say. Steven Grant's assertion that "because" Diamond is a monopoly they are obligated to list and distribute everything is total bullshit. Had Marvel never entered the game by buying Heroes World Distro back in the early '90s, the distro exclusive wars probably wouldn't have happened, Cap City would still be here today. Diamond is a business affected by a down economy just like anyone. Are they obligated to keep laying off employees, so that they can continue to list shitty comics?

Frankly, I think there's too much crap in the catalog anyway. (Yes, Marvel and DC glut the market with loads of shit, but the Davids will always and forever have to deal with the Goliaths on the playground.) I used to say, back when the 'zine revolution was in full-force, that just because anyone can go to Kinkos and make a zine, doesn't mean everyone should. Access to means doesn't grant people magically-arrived-at talent.

Another gripe, and something I think Diamond alluded to, is that they are not obligated to market someone's comic. If the producer of a given comic shows a willingness to get out of their mom's basement, work with the Diamond folks (as I did when I first launched XXXXXX), send out review copies, score interviews, and so forth, then I'd wager Diamond might allow under-ordered comics to go through anyhow. Just because they see an effort has been made to sell the fucking comic.

But more to my point, I've long longed for someone -- anyone -- to concept some new ways to get the indy comics / mini--comics out there, and i'm not talking about Haven (formerly Cold Cut) or even the just-announced Ka-Blam gig. (Even though both of those concerns are in a position now to become legit players if they can get their shit together.) Yes, this would take an enormous amount of will, and probably a small amount of trust fund money, but if there's one thing i've learned over the years, it's that you quit fucking complaining, deal with the facts as they are on the ground, and do something pro-active.

Where are the new Spit and a Halfs, the Wow Cools? Or more recently, Global Hobo or the now-defunct USS Catastrophe?

I realize the value of distributors, obviously, but come on, it's not like an independent filmmaker, who makes a "cheap" movie for two million bucks on credit cards, and has to get distribution or he loses his house and wife along with it.

Quit complaining, grow and evolve, or shut the hell up and go away.

Thanks for listening.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: Colleen Doran on Keane Kids and Manga

* go, read: Francesca Cassavetti Profiled

* go, read: Interview With Lisa Hanawalt

* go, read: Gerry Alanguilan Interviewed

* go, read: Mike Grell Interviewed
 
posted 6:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFf Results Post #149—End Of An Era

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Favorite Single-Issue Alternative/Independent Comic Books." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Love & Rockets #28
2. American Flagg! #1
3. Schizo #1
4. New Hat
5. Zot! #11

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Devlin Thompson

1. Lloyd Llewellyn #6
2. Neat Stuff #9
3. Gumby Summer Fun Special
4. Weirdo #11
5. Twist #1

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Logan Polk

5. TMNT (Vol. 4) #11
4. Tales Designed to Thrizzle #1
3. Castle Waiting #1
2. Superf*ckers #2
1. Eightball #22

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Stephen Leach

1. Sam and Max Freelance Police #1
2. St. Swithin's Day
3. Penny Century #5
4. Eightball #13
5. Sidney Mellon's Thunderskull! #1

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Destroy!!
* Heartbreak Comics
* Love & Rockets #4
* Warrior #1
* Zot #33

*****

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John Vest

1. Penny Century #2
2. Journey #1
3. Alex #1
4. A Couple Of Winos
5. Red Calloway's Big Bang #2

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. American Flagg! #4 - the start of the "Southern Comfort" storyline, but a good standalone issue, as Reuben fights off his blimp's hijackers
2. Cerebus #85 - introducing Mick and Keef, with a good bit of Elrod and Moon Roach thrown in
3. The Maze Agency #1 - as good a representative as any of Mike Barr and Adam Hughes' fondly-remembered mystery series
4. Miracleman #15 - Kid Miracleman destroys London
5. Nexus #41 - Nexus sets serial killers against each other

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Andy Kunka

1. Anything Goes #2 (Fantagraphics): Bought it off the rack in 1986 for the Alan Moore story, "In Pictopia," and got Jaime Hernandez, Art Spiegelman, Jack Kirby, etc. in the bargain.
2. American Flagg! #3 (First): First issue I could get from the local magazine store that sold some direct sales comics. I was too young to read this.
3. Nexus #5 (Capital): Found this in one of my first ever visits to a real-life comic shop on a family trip. Read it over and over again.
4. Grendel #16 (Comico): First issue of this series I ever bought, too.
5. Pacific Presents #1 (Pacific): Early Rocketeer story plus Ditko.

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Mike Lynch

1. Stig's Inferno #7 -- I loved Ty Templeton's inking; each issue got better and better
2. Ms. Tree's Thrilling Detective Adventures #1 -- a series that deserves to be better remembered
3. Nexus #6 -- the Badger crossover "The Bowl-Shaped World"
4. Megaton Man #1 -- up there with Not Brand Ecch!
5. Concrete -- the one where he walks on the ocean floor

I want to include L&R, but cannot bear to pick a particular issue. Honorable mention tie from First Publishing: Hempel & Wheatley's Mars and Cuti/Staton's E-Man revival. In the next five minutes I will change my mind and pick completely different comics, so I better get this to you, Tom, ASAP!

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Douglas Mullins

1. Multiple War Heads #1
2. RASL #1
3. The Shaolin Cowboy #6
4. Fight or Run
5. Strangetown #1

*****

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Adam Casey

1. Hickee Vol. 2 #1
2. Angry Youth Comix #10
3. Dork #11
4. Too Much Coffee Man #1
5. Pogostick #1

*****

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Michael Aushenker

1) Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman #1 -- (Eclipse) Hilarious and action-packed.
2) David Chelsea in Love #3 (Eclipse) -- Hilarious and action-packed (a different type of action, though)
3) Optic Nerve #6 (Drawn & Quarterly) -- Typical of Adrian Tomine's well-observed short story fiction. The stuff Summer Blondes are made of.
4) Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #6 (Pacific Comics) -- Sheer Kirby, plus Steve Ditko's "Missing Man" as a back-up sweetens the deal
5) Detroit! Murder City Comix #3 (SLG) -- A fun, free-wheeling unpretentious early '90s comic that's sorely missed. Go, Motormount, go!

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Christopher Duffy

1. Love and Rockets #29! (Take that, Spurgeon!)
2. Drawn and Quarterly #3 (vol 1)
3. Ganges #2
4. Neat Stuff #2
5. Eightball #23

*****

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Graeme McMillan

1. Dork #7
2. Or Else #2
3. Multiple Warheads #1
4. THB Comic-Con 2007 Exclusive
5. Graffiti Kitchen

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Cerebus #53. For just one issue, Cerebus isn't out to get anybody. He's just a "normal" guy.
2. Acme Novelty Library #7. You said "Whatever Size." Nearly every page puts a lump in my throat.
3. Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman #1. "Thirty-nine cents or I piss on your flowers!"
4. Zero Zero #15. Sacco's "Christmas With Karadzic" and a typically brilliant supporting line-up.
5. American Flagg #2. The only thing better than a great first issue is a second issue that lives up to the promise.

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Love & Rockets #42
2. Peepshow #2
3. Dirty Plotte #6
4. D'Arc Tangent #1
5. THB #1

(all of these are for one reason or another comics that signalled endings for me--of the series, or my enthusiasm, or a relationship-- whether I saw them as such at the time or not)

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Dave Knott

* Dork #7
* The Nimrod #6
* Grendel #16
* Cerebus #186
* Rabbit Head

*****

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James Langdell

1. Dork #7
2. Jim #1
3. Doing the Islands with Bacchus #2
4. Aztec Ace #9
5. Robot Comics #0 (Bob Burden)

*****

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Danny Ceballos

* Jim #4 by Jim Woodring
* Measles #8 by Los Bros Hernandez, et al.
* True Swamp #3 by Jon Lewis
* Yummy Fur #19 by Chester Brown
* Deep Girl #5 by Ariel Bordeaux

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. American Flagg #1
2. Schizo #3
3. Neat Stuff #9 -- Hippy House!
4. Dork #6 -- The All Eltingville Issue
5. Heartbreak Comics -- by David Boswell

*****

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Sean T. Collins

* Eightball #22
* Eightball #23
* Boy's Club #2
* Skyscrapers of the Midwest #2
* Black Hole #12

*****

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Scott Cederlund

1) Concrete #2
2) Queen & Country #1
3) Scout #24
4) ACME Novelty Library #1
5) Dark Horse Presents #50

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. Eightball #23
2. Love & Rockets #29
3. Detectives Inc. #1
4. St. Swithin's Day
5. Stray Bullets #2

*****

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Gil Roth

1. L&R #29 (first one I ever read)
2. Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman #1
3. Megaton Man #1 (first indy I ever bought)
4. Hup #1
5. Pickle #3 (it started a trip that sent me halfway around the world)

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Usagi Yojimbo #24 (Fantagraphics)
2. Miracleman #15 (Eclipse)
3. Stig's Inferno #1 (Vortex)
4. St. Swithin's Day (Trident)
5. Cerebus #42 (Aardvark-Vanaheim)

*****

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Bill Kartalopoulos

* RAW Vol. 1 #4 (first issue published "after 1981")
* Jimbo #1 (Zongo Comics series)
* Boys
* The Stuff of Dreams #1
* ACME Novelty Library #1

*****
*****
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Diana Schutz!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Gilbert Hernandez!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Naoki Yamamoto!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Ron Frenz!

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posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

I hope the Colts win.
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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