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











June 30, 2009


Bruce N. Duncan, 1943-2009

image

By Tom Spurgeon

B.N. Duncan, a cartoonist, editor, publisher and distinctive personality who for years was a fixture of the Berkeley street scene, passed away on Saturday according to this post at the Comics Journal message board by former collaborator Ace Backwords. Duncan would have been 66 on July 9.

"Duncan was a ubiquitous figure in Berkeley -- and certainly one of the strangest-looking apparitions to grace its streets," the writer Bob Levin told CR. "I hadn't seen him in recent months and, knowing he'd been in poor health, I'd feared the worst. Coincidentally, his passing comes only a couple weeks after that of his good friend Claire Burch, the film maker (and author) whom I mention in my original piece."

Duncan was born in 1943 in Rochester, New York. His parents broke up before he was a year old. Duncan and his mother relocated to Berkeley, California, where he spent the majority of his childhood. It was during this period he developed an appreciation for cultural material of a kind that attracted disaffected youths, including comics efforts such as MAD and Li'l Abner. Duncan's family moved downstate to Pasadena when he was in high school. After graduation, he attended Pasadena Community College. While a student, he suffered the first of several mental breakdowns. He spent the next several years bouncing from educational institutions to mental institutions. He moved back to Berkeley in 1966, unsure as to his future.

Duncan was married for two years before separating from his wife and moving to Telegraph Avenue. With the encouragement of an art teacher he began to pursue cartooning for publication. The results was a strip called Hank and Hanna, which ran in both porn newspapers and newave 'zines. He also did the strip Beserkeley Blues for the Daily Gazette. It was through the local strip that he met future collaborator Wild Billy Wolf. BN Duncan provided art for the first cover of The Tele Times in 1978, and did much of the grunt editorial work. When Wolf left the publication, the Tele Times grew in page count and price and as a general vehicle for all things B.N. Duncan, including his appreciation for true outsider art and writing almost no one else appreciated in quite the same way. The publication ceased operations at the end of 1982.

Duncan received his biggest comics fame as a contributor to the anthology Weirdo during the 1980s. In many ways, Weirdo and Raw served as the twin poles around which various ideas about art comics would coalesce in that decade. Certainly Duncan's work fit in with the Robert Crumb-instigate west coast effort more than it ever would in Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly's magazine. Peter Bagge was one of Duncan's editors at Weirdo, and note that overtly sexual nature of Duncan's work could be alarming in any context.

"His work was all about his obsessions," Bagge wrote CR, "specifically sado-masochistic sex, but he also was a compulsive philosophizer and art critic. He would babble on forever (both in person but especially in letters or in print) about what struck his fancy and why. This was especially true of comic art, though hardly limited to it. Many found his SM-inspired work distasteful (people were generally very uptight about such things back in the '80s -- especially women, who found such images much more threatening than they do these days, where the trappings of bondage and discipline have become common fashion accessories), and his crude drawing style didn't help to endear his work to many folks either. Still, I think his drawings had an odd charm to them, and I also thought he was a pretty good gag writer, even if his 'jokes' were almost always mere projections of his own quirks and obsessions."

Unlike many of his fellow Weirdo contributors, Duncan wasn't able to use his appearances there as a springboard to a higher-profile venue. In the 1990s he found a small group of clients such as Bitches With Whips willing to buy his cartoons, tried a community-based magazine about comics called Point Drawn, organized art shows featuring artists that were usually cut out of such opportunities, and worked with cartoonist Ace Backwords on a series of Telegraph Avenue Street Calendars, spotlighting local street denizens and out-sized characters.

He also continued to correspond with cartoonists and comics people when he had the opportunity. Says Bagge: "Bruce used to share his thoughts with me on every issue of HATE as soon as one came out, and he would always try to limit his thoughts on one postcard to save on precious funds, but usually would continue his train of thought on another postcard, then another... I think his 'record' was seven postcards, at which point I'm sure he wished he just wrote all his thoughts down in letter form and shoved it in a single envelope! His critiques of my work were chock full of projections, where he would often assume that my own personal obsessions and motivations were the same as his. Still, even when he was way off I was always flattered by his comments, simply because my comics seemed to inspire such a strong reaction out of him." He was profiled by the Comics Journal's Bob Levin in 1996 and contributed an interview with Sophie Crumb to the magazine in 2006.

In 1995 Duncan published a collection of SM cartoons through Greenery Press called "Mercy??" "No!!". Bob Levin described Duncan's humane approach to the situations presented in his 1997 review of that book for The Comics Journal. "His drawings are gentle, muted, sweet. They are neither graphically precise nor grotesquely exaggerated. Unanchored by any details linking them to any terrain beyond their own actions, his figures float angelically upon the page."

In more recent years, Duncan joined a number of underground-era cartoonists and personal favorites in becoming a contributor to Mineshaft. "I don't know if any artist in the United States, in my mind, embodies the true spirit of the underground like B.N. Duncan," Mineshaft Co-Publisher Everett Rand told CR. His magazine Tele Times made a big impact on R. Crumb & Weirdo, I think, and it has served as an inspiration to Mineshaft as well. Duncan was very politically incorrect, but he was harder on himself than he was on any other people and he had a true love of "truth" and nature and was interested in sex, especially S & M, not as it's portrayed in the media, but as it really is, though with humor & satire...

"After R. Crumb, B. N. Duncan was the first comics artist to begin contributing to Mineshaft regularly -- four SM drawings in Mineshaft #9 -- and he continued contributing art, writing, and letters to Mineshaft until he died... he was always offering words of encouragement to Mineshaft which meant a lot to us. To Duncan life was meaningless without art and the spirit of creativity. Duncan was a pioneer oe little magazine and he promoted art and artists that otherwise would have never been heard. I'm only happy that he was able to continue being creative until the end. But he will be dearly missed." Rand mentioned that at least one future issue of Mineshaft would contain Duncan art.

Bob Levin's profile of Duncan contains within it a quote from Duncan about childhood favorite Al Capp. Like many such quotes, and especially from someone like Duncan, it could be about the work of the artist speaking as much as the one being described. "Al Capp did something very special. He presented people you laugh at because they're foolish or stupid or preposterous; at the same time your heart goes out to them for their pain and innocence and difficulties. Life is taken seriously for the suffering, but there's always something ridiculous and laughable... The writing, the dialogue, is on a lower, look-down-on-them, burlesque level; but the drawing is done with depth and dignity and humanity. There are real human beings to care about."

Levin remembers the late artist and editor as much for his efforts with others as for his own cartooning. "Duncan labored seriously and with much effort to produce work of good quality himself, and he made an extraordinary effort to promote the work of others. He fervently believed that even the most apparently off-center among us were of value, had much to contribute, and should not be cast aside. He tried, through The Tele Times, reviews he wrote, books he published, recordings he produced, and the calendar he and Ace Backwards turned out annually to call attention to the inner essences of these people and to honor their output."

"He was the giant of guy you could point to with pride and say, 'Yeah, that's Berkeley! That's why I live here.'"

A memorial service will be held on Sunday on Haste & Telegraph in Berkeley.

this article owes a crucial, overwhelming and obvious debt to Bob Levin's excellent 1996 essay on Duncan, "Outsider Cartoons: BN Duncan Goes To The Museum," The Comics Journal #185. That essay is available in the collection, Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & Pirates

image
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Honduran Cartoonist Kidnapped, Released, Cartoons Destroyed?

Jonathan Lemon passed along the following note. I've had no luck confirming it but learning that there is an editorial cartoonist by this name, but then again I'm not sure how to. I'll post it here, leave it up to your rational judgment as to how to process it and hope that someone can bring me second word. It begins with the content of the note by Mr. Lemon. I've deleted his contact information and the political phone numbers at the bottom of the note he received.
I heard this morning that my friend and editorial cartoonist Allan MacDonald [sic] has been kidnapped in Honduras and then released and all his cartoons destroyed. I had direct email contact with him and he confirmed to me that the below story is completely true and accurate. He is currently going with his family to seek safety in another country.

FYI I lived in Honduras for two years and know the cartoonist personally. His website is:

http://allanmcdonald.com/

Is there any way you can post this or get this out to the press?

*****

Kidnapping and detainment of Allan McDonald and his 17 month old daughter, April. (translated on 6/30/09 by Marla Conrad)

To all -

Through this letter I am communicating to you that at 11 am in the time of Sweden and at 3 am in the time of Honduras, ALLAN MC DONALD, the Honduran cartoonist, communicated with me by Chat saying that he had been detained by the Honduran Armed Forces in a hotel. His house was ransacked and his cartoons and drawings were burnt in a bonfire en his home in Santa Lucia. He was detained with his 17 month old daughter who had not eaten and was only given water.

The communication did not last even 5 minutes and he was communicating via a portable with little battery that belonged to the accredited consul of Venezuela in Honduras who was also detained together with him, and next to them were two female journalists, a Spaniard and a Chilena, whom he did not know. He also told me that he was with the Honduran journalists Eduardo Maldonado and Esdras Amado Lopez, but they had been taken away to an unknown place.

At the moment that Allan was saying goodbye, he said RESIST and DENOUNCE THIS DEED, I've only seen this in the television when there was a coup in 1973. The communication was cut off because he said THEY'RE COMING FOR US. Apparently, they would be driven in a bus and taken out of the country through the border of El Espino, in this moment the destination and whereabouts of ALLAN MC DONALD, HIS DAUGHTER APRIL AND THEIR COMPANIONS were ignored.

This letter is the DENOUNCEMENT, and also a call to AWARENESS, it is not possible that there are some that are applauding this coup and the deprival of the most elemental rights of our population. This period seemed to be overcome but we have gone backwards to the decade of the 80's en a clear disregard of human rights which also reflects the small democratic vocation or our political class.

***
Hopefully, all involved are safe. In fact, I wouldn't mind at all finding out this is a prank.
 
posted 8:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Rama Hughes

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 Harvey Award Nominees

image

The nominees for the 2009 Harvey Awards have been announced. The Harveys are voted on by eligible professionals and industry members, as opposed to the juried nomination process employed by the Eisner Awards. Multiple nominations went to Nat Turner, All-Star Superman, Zuda Comics and Buzzboy.

In fact, I'll freely admit I was most confused by the five nominations afforded Buzzboy, which I didn't know was still being done but I guess collected an older mini-series in 2008? The way that the nominations list the title suggests an ongoing -- can someone help with that? Was there an ongoing? Did the third issue of the Sidekicks series come out in 2008, maybe? I couldn't figure out from the site. I was also a little confused as to how quickly they had so much Harveys-related stuff actually on multiple pages of their site as opposed to something up via a blog or twitter, which makes me think the nominations must have been up for a few days...? I apologize for the lateness of this post, if that's the case. There's really no contextual help from the awards themselves, which seem to have tagged some odd books in odd ways -- Al Jaffee receiving individual nominations is awesome, but for work that appeared from 1957 to 1963? I'm confused.

Update: Buzzboy nexus and multiple nominee John Gallagher was able to clear up some of the confusion via e-mail this morning. As to what he had out, he sent the same reply to me he had e-mailed to Comics Worth Reading:
"Last year, I had two books that came out-- Kids Love Comics: Comic Book Diner which got most circulation through FCBD, and Buzzboy Sidekicks Rule #3, which was for sale at conventions and select shops across the country. Certainly not my fullest year for content. It did come out across the country last month through Diamond, but honestly, most of my books are not sold trough them-- so it is even possible that #2 was perceived as a 2008 book, as I was lucky enough to sell quite a few at Heroes Con, San Diego, Baltimore, The Miami Book Festival, and The Richmond Comic-Con, in your neck of the woods, in '08.

"I didn't complain about not being nominated in the past, so I certainly won't complain about being nominated now, I'm honored. But, personally, I think me being nominated for best writer against someone as fantastic as Grant Morrison is pretty silly, but I am proud that some of my fellow Sky-Dog creators and friends are nominated in their categories."
Asked if the FCBD effort contained Buzzboy material, Gallagher said it did. He also confirmed that although listed as a 2008 book, the collected Buzzboy Sidekicks volume did not come out in 2008, making the basis of the nominations the FCBD book and possibly material that was sold by hand.

Asked if they had encouraged voters or anything along those lines -- something past surprise nominees have done -- Gallagher said that they did nothing beyond the general encouragement of friends to get out the vote that they had done in the past, in years they were not nominated. He did point out that a lot of nominations went to all-ages material like Buzzboy, so that some of the voting may have come to his comics along those lines.

As to the how they got word up on their site so quickly, Gallagher explained that he saw that the Harvey site had the news at about 10:30 or so last night, and he got excited and got the notices up in the burst of adrenaline that followed.End Update

Ceremony host Scott Kurtz was nominated in two different categories.

The deadline for voting -- the process for which is described at the initial link -- is in late August. The winners will be announced in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, October 10-11.

I don't really understand the Harveys the way I used to understand and recognize their place in the comics firmament as 1) a process in contrast to the Eisners and 2) a collective, cohesive snapshot of nominees and winners, but it's nice to see an award nomination go to Jay Lynch's recent cover for Mineshaft, which has to be seen up close and in real-life to be appreciated.

BEST WRITER
* Kyle Baker, Nat Turner, Abrams Books
* Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Marvel Comics
* John Gallagher, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Grant Morrison, All-Star Superman, DC Comics

BEST ARTIST
* Gabriel Ba, Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics
* Kyle Baker, Nat Turner, Abrams Books
* Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules, Renaissance Press
* Jason Kruse, World of Quest, Yen Press
* Frank Quitely, All-Star Superman, DC Comics

BEST CARTOONIST * Lar deSouza, Least I Could Do, www.leasticoulddo.com
* John Gallagher, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics
* Al Jaffee, Tall Tales, Abrams Books
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Thom Zahler, Love & Capes, Maerkle Press

BEST LETTERER
* Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules, Renaissance Press
* Rob Leigh, The Spirit, DC Comics
* Doug Sherwood, Local, Oni Press
* John Workman, Marvel 1985, Marvel Comics
* Thom Zahler, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics

BEST INKER
* Rich Faber, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics
* Jamie Grant, All-Star Superman, DC Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Mark Morales, Thor, Marvel Comics
* Ryan Winn, The Darkness, Image Comics

BEST COLORIST
* Frank Cammuso, Otto's Orange Day, Raw Junior, LLC
* Jamie Grant, All-Star Superman, DC Comics
* Laura Martin, Thor, Marvel Comics
* Wil Quintana, The Mice Templar, Image Comics
* Dave Stewart, Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics

BEST COVER ARTIST
* Frank Cho, Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rule! #3, Sky Dog Press
* James Jean, Fables, Vertigo Comics
* Jay Lynch, Mineshaft #23, Mineshaft Publishing
* Ken Rocafort, Pilot Season: Core #1, Top Cow
* Alex Ross, Justice Society of America, DC Comics

BEST NEW SERIES
* The Dreamer, IDW
* Echo, Abstract Studios
* High Moon, www.zudacomics.com
* Night Owls, www.zudacomics.com
* Supertron, www.zudacomics.com

BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES
* All-Star Superman, DC Comics
* Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Mice Templar, Image Comics
* Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION
* Draw!, edited by Mike Manley, Twomorrows Publishing
* How To Make Webcomics, Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Straub, Image Comics
* Kirby: King Of Comics, Mark Evanier, Abrams Books
* Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles, edited by Dean Mullaney, IDW
* Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels, edited by David A. Berona, Abrams Books

BEST SYNDICATED STRIP OR PANEL
* Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!, Tim Rickard, Tribune Media Services
* Get Fuzzy, Darby Conley, United Features Syndicate
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate
* The Norm, Michael Jantze, Uclick Gocomics
* Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis, United Features Syndicate

BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Comic Book Tattoo, edited by Rantz Hoseley, Image Comics
* Flight Vol. 5, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Villard
* MOME Vol. 10, edited by Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics Books
* Pixu #1, edited by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, Self-Published
* Popgun Vol. 2, edited by Joe Keatinge and Mark Andrew Smith, Image Comics

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- ORIGINAL
* Bottomless Belly Button, Fantagraphics Books
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Amulet Books
* Essex County: The Country Nurse, Top Shelf
* Skim, Groundwood Books
* Too Cool To Be Forgotten, Top Shelf
* World of Quest: VOL. 2, Yen Press

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED
* Amelia Rules!: Funny Stories, Renaissance Press
* M, Abrams Books
* Nat Turner, Abrams Books
* The Mice Templar: VOL. 1, Image Comics
* Queen and Country, Oni Press
* Skyscrapers Of The Midwest, Adhouse Books

BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY
* ACME Novelty Library #19, Self-Published
* First Born: Aftermath #1, Top Cow
* Love and Rockets Vol. 3 #1, Fantagraphics Books
* M, Abrams Books
* NASCAR Heroes #5, NASCAR Comics
* Nat Turner, Abrams Books
* The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard, First Second
* Y: The Last Man #60, Vertigo Comics

BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT
* Astounding Space Thrills, IDW
* Complete Peanuts, Fantagraphics Books
* Complete Terry And The Pirates, IDW
* Scorchy Smith And The Art Of Noel Sickles, IDW
* Wacky Packages, Abrams Books

BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL
* Gus and His Gang, First Second
* Pocket Full Of Rain, Fantagraphics Books
* Red Colored Elegy, Drawn and Quarterly
* Solanin, Viz
* Witchblade Takeru Manga #s 11-12, Top Cow

BEST ON-LINE COMICS WORK
* Black Cherry Bombshells, Tony Trovarello and John Zito, www.zudacomics.com
* High Moon, Scott O. Brown, www.zudacomics.com
* Least I Could Do, Lar deSouza and Ryan Sohmer, www.leasticoulddo.com
* Night Owls, Bobby & Peter Timony, www.zudacomics.com
* PVP, Scott Kurtz, www.pvponline.com

SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS
* Lar deSouza, Least I Could Do, www.leasticoulddo.com
* John Gallagher, Buzzboy, Sky Dog Comics
* Al Jaffee, Tall Tales, Abrams Books
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* David Malki, Wondermark, www.wondermark.com

SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION
* Complete Local: Hardcover Edition, Ryan Kelly and Brian Wood, Oni Press
* Kirby: King Of Comics, Mark Evanier, Abrams Books
* Queen And Country Vol. 3, Greg Rucka, Mike Norton, Steve Rolston, and Chris Samnee, Oni Press
* Tall Tales, Al Jaffee, Abrams Books
* Wondermark Volume One: Beards Of Our Forefathers, David Malki, Dark Horse Comics

BEST NEW TALENT
* Matt Cassan, NASCAR: Heroes, NASCAR Comics
* Bryan J.L. Glass, The Mice Templar, Image Books
* Laura Innes, The Dreamer, IDW
* Tim Sievert, That Salty Air, Top Shelf
* Bobby Timony, Night Owls, www.zudacomics.com

image
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Mike Lynch Report From The Bunny Hoest Annual Bash 2009

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
We Get The Best Mail Here At CR

Received yesterday, 2PM:

"Hi Tom. If you find Wolverine sexy, then you're about to be turned on by this drawing I did of him. It took me literally seconds to do.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Lee Elias’ Green Lantern

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 10 Things He Learned From Reading About The Marvel Pets

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Exdrawminate!

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Chris Butcher Travels To Japan 02

image
 
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist and major editorial cartooning on-line presence Daryl Cagle, a member of both the AAEC and NCS, offers up a bunch of compelling advice to the former on the eve of their annual convention.

image* the writer Ken Parille extols the virtues of The Comics Revival.

* the writer Tim O'Neil is thinking about the X-Men.

* here's a highly complimentary summary essay on Lynda Barry's work well worth your time.

* not comics: it's hard to find a framework to discuss proposals like the one made in this column by Connie Schultz whereby copyright law should be changed in order to better protect a newspaper's interests in a story it reports. On the one hand, it is a "real solution" when compared to the vague allusions to mostly discredited revenue models that passes for such in journalism circles. On the other hand, it's hugely problematic. That it doesn't solve all the problems -- well, that's obvious, and arguing as much is usually a nasty, over-facile Internet construction whereby it's strongly asserted all proposals solve all problems. No the problems here are more on the ground. One, newspapers themselves depend heavily on re-purposing information. Two, while it's true production costs haven't gone down the fact is that maybe they should have, which means sustaining that model may not be necessary or desirable. Third, it's hard to turn facts into proprietary information, and doubly so in an era moving forward where companies will produce their own news in an effort to control what's said about corporate action A, B, or C. My guess is that this is maybe something that could be explored and might have benefits, because there are abuses, but by the time all the nettlesome aspects are figured out the way people process news will have continued to change to the point where such laws will guard information few people will be interested in accessing.

* not comics: I just know when I show up at the Pearly Gates, there will be a quiz for entry regarding verb agreement.

* the writer Craig Fischer on those Ditko hands.

* finally, the retailer Mike Sterling wonders out loud why there can't be a single title for a single character or team of characters, and discusses some of the virtues of that approach. I would prefer it that way, too, and I'll continue to make fun of comics with names like "Road To Hammergeddon, Absolution: Red Bee and The Creeper" until I stop writing about comics. The answer is money, of course, with a bit of related issues like market share pressing in. Mainstream comics companies decided a long time ago that it's preferable to grind as much money as possible from a devoted audience than pursue a strategy that emphasizes greater participation from casual buyers. The last time a company seriously considered a strategy like the one Sterling is proposing was early in the Shooter era at Marvel.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 51st Birthday, Shawn McManus!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Whoa
Too Hot To Work
The Naked Heroes
Hooray For John Romita Sr.

Exhibits/Events
Pat Sun Ruled Heroes Con
The Cartoonist To Screen In San Diego

History
Space Cabby Sunday
Daredevil Is In The Public Domain

Industry
No
Best Ex-Intern Story Ever?
A Trip To Forbidden Planet, NYC

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: Andy Diggle
Newsarama: Andrew Robinson
Daily Cartoonist: Corey Randolph
I Have No Idea What's Going On Here

Not Comics
Chip Kidd, Reluctant Illustrator
Before He's Done, He'll Win Them All
Mike Cope Makes Schulz Challenge Pledge

Publishing
Strange Tales Max Previewed

Reviews
Greg McElhatton: Mijeong
Hervé St-Louis: Outsiders #19
Hervé St-Louis: Wolverine #75
Johanna Draper Carlson: Solanin
Hervé St-Louis: New Avengers #54
Jeff Lester: 20th Century Boys Vol. 3
Hervé St-Louis: X-Men: Legacy #225
Andy Frisk: Action Comics Annual #12
Hervé St-Louis: Gotham City Sirens #1
Ed Sizemore: Captain Blood: Odyssey #1
Koppy McFad: The Brave and the Bold #24
Koppy McFad: Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2
Johanna Draper Carlson: Patsy Walker: Hellcat
Hervé St-Louis: Transformers: All Hail Megatron #12
 

 
June 29, 2009


India Bans Comics Porn Site

An article emanating from Reuters India indicates that governmental authorities in India have taken steps against the porn comics site Savita Bhabhi. All ISPs were asked by a government office to block the web site in a memo dated June 3. The government agency responsible confirmed the move, citing complaints. This throws the spotlight on more general issues of Indian government censorship over on-line material. A higher court challenge is being mulled over. The comics-driven web site, featuring an erotically-driven Indian housewife, was launched in 2008.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Cartooning And Iran Unrest

image

* it looks like we may be due for another round of cartoon commentary on political unrest in Iran as the comic strips with political commentary components finally see their schedules catch up to the news. Here's Doonesbury.

* I can't imagine this is authorized -- although the sympathy is there so it might be -- but here's a remixed version of some of Persepolis with an eye on recent events.

* exiled Iranian cartoonist Nikahang Kowsar is profiled by The Star; Kowsar lives in Canada.

* Stephff explains a recent cartoon on Neda Soltan by asserting that all cartoons needn't be funny, and that if you give the cartoonist enough credit to not be saying the monstrous thing, another meaning may make itself known.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Buy: Original Comics Art Sale From Clifford Meth’s Private Collection

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Smattering Of Comic-Con Updates

* so I guess CCI is getting rid of memberships returned to the show through their rebate program by putting a few up at a time on eBay. They go quickly, but at least something purchased from the show would be legitimate.

image* a few of the blogs are pointing to this article as saying Hayao Miyazaki will be visiting CCI in support of Ponyo. Official news of this should hit with enough of a splash you'll know if these articles are right or not.

* this is the week you dump your extra hotel rooms before you're charged a deposit. Also, remember that if you picked up a room here, a room there, the deposit mechanism probably won't track this. In hotel news generally, there have been several single-day room opportunities rolling out on the site since mid-May. One thing that was up for grabs this weekend was a Friday night room at the new Hilton.

* I'm moderating two panels on Friday (July 24th) of the Con: the Comic Strip Reprints panel from 1:30-2:30 PM and one called Graphic Novels from 4:00-5:00 PM. Those should be super-informative and because they're set at an hour pop right along. I'm not allowed to say who's on each one until the con folks confirm, but right now they're both stuffed with interesting names. I think I may also be on a manga panel moderated by someone else at some point on Thursday, which sounds odd to me, too.

* finally, the moderating Gallant to my Goofus, Mark Evanier, has announced some of the 18 billion panels he's moderating, sometimes three at once. That's a nice golden/silver age panel he's going to have.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Two From Atlas

image
image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: HeroesCon ‘09

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: On Walt McDougall

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Non-DCD Tripwire Preview

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Subway Stories

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Superhero Books Of His Youth

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there are two stellar posts over at Comics Comics right now. The first is a terrifying Star Chamber of Smart Comics People (Dan Nadel, Frank Santoro, Lauren Weinstein and CF) all interviewing Yuichi Yokoyama. The second is another compelling Frank Santoro essay on 1980s comics, this time on coloring techniques employed by Pacific Comics.

image* the cartoonist Colleen Coover liked the new Darwyn Cooke graphic novel The Hunter so much she not only posted so but created a piece of art to go with it. Speaking of which, if you draw you should think about entering the Draw Parker contest.

* the writer, historian and critic Jeet Heer discusses the use of nostalgia as a critique of the present. I always thought there was an element of this in the way many people are nostalgic in comic books, although what comes to mind first is the way classic rock was extolled in the 1970s into the 1980s. If you listened to classic rock stations of that era, their overriding message was that you had missed out on the good stuff, that everything coming out at that moment was a pale imitation of some Stones/Beatles/Hendrix/Doors golden age. The application of this argument didn't hold up to a lot of scrutiny, and I don't think the argument does, either, but it was a pretty powerful argument because it was based in the listener's dissatisfaction with the here and now -- a here and now with a limited interface when it came to experiencing what was really out there.

* not comics: I guess Andromeda's all right and everything, but they're no Mayhem.

* missed it: a short essay on when a graphic novel is just a comic.

image* there's not much in the way of remaining comics-related reactions to the passing last week of pop singer Michael Jackson. The biggest news is that editorial cartoonists did go after the haunting, horrifying legacy of the singer's relationships with various strangers' children. I would have bet $100 that aspect of Jackson's life would have been passed over by all but one or two people, maybe. Cagle's round-up of editorial cartoons on Jackson is here. A few folks keep finding Michael Jackson-related comic book references, like the one that's up here (found by Gil Roth). My initial round-up of links is here.

* here's zombie Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.

* finally, the journalist Bob Andelman did a series of well-selected, comics-related interviews last week. I had a bad experience once with an embedded media player provided by Bob and his twitter feed is currently on the fritz, so you might approach the following with some caution, but the content should be of a high quality. His interviews were: Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, Paul Fitzgerald, Brendan Burford, Jonathan Rosenberg and Denis Kitchen. Not a stinker in the bunch.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Bo Hampton!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Keno Don Rosa!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Mike Richardson!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Bobby London!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Paul Maybury Draws Iron Man

Exhibits/Events
On The LAT Comic-Con Article

History
On Destroy!!
Batman at 20
On New Frontier
His Summer of Batman
On Cartoons From Addams
Near Misses On The Comics Page

Industry
A Trip To Domy's Books
When Are Prices Too Much?
Comics Shops As The Last Bookstores

Interviews/Profiles
Strip-For-Me: Chris Onstad
Biff Bam Pop!: Brian Cronin
A Nickel's Worth: Todd Clark
CWR: Mark Powers, Ardian Syaf
Mr. Media: Gary Groth, Kim Thompson

Not Comics
Moving Into A New Studio

Reviews
Sandy Bilus: Mijeong
Don MacPherson: Various
Jog: Detective Comics #854
Hervé St-Louis: Herogasm #2
Hervé St-Louis: Outsiders #19
Hervé St-Louis: Invincible #63
Hervé St-Louis: X-Men Legacy #225
Don MacPherson: Robot 13: Colossus! #1
Robert Stanley Martin: Swamp Thing Vols. 5-6
Chris Mautner: You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation
 

 
June 28, 2009


CR Sunday Interview: Trina Robbins

image

*****

Trina Robbins is one of the icons of the underground comix generation, a cartoonist and creative person always pushing forward in ways that have influenced and inspired her peers and admirers. She has become in the decades since an equally valuable advocate for the recognition of great female cartoonists. Her latest book in that vein is The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940, which was released in March of this year by Fantagraphics. While many have long been aware of the general attractiveness of Brinkley's work, Robbins' book forces us to look at her art in a way -- and at a size -- where some of the specifics of Brinkley's appeal and the basis for her popularity become more apparent, such as the sweep of her page design and the enthusiastic way many moments, even ordinary ones, are rendered. Robbins' book also asks for a reconsideration of Brinkley's writing when she was allowed to pursue this element on her own, and paints an overall picture of a fiercely independent cartoonist who learned over the years to work within a system to great reward without ever becoming dominated by it. It's really great to have The Brinkley Girls, and I was pleased when Robbins agreed to answer some questions about it. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Trina, what was the genesis of this specific project? Was this something you wanted to do, or was this presented to you as a potential project? Why a book with such a heavy focus on Brinkley's serials rather than a straight-up art book, or do you feel it plays both those roles?

TRINA ROBBINS: Wanted to do! I've wanted to do this for years! Although my MacFarland book stands up as a good biography, there's no way from just reading that book that anyone can know just how gorgeous Nell's work was. As for the focus on her serials, I love her serials, and I'm so glad the book is a large enough size to read them. Anyway, her illustrated stories are her art!

SPURGEON: Was all the material drawn from your own collection? I'm particularly fascinated by the fan art and where you found that. Did you go to any outside collections on this one?

ROBBINS: Most of it is from my own collection, and some very nice collectors lent me the rest. Isn't that great about the fan art? One day I was waiting on line at the post office and some guy whose name I have forgotten asked me if I was Trina Robbins, introduced himself, and told me that since he knew I was interested in early women cartoonists he had some art he'd like to give me. And it turned out to be that fan art! If he reads this or sees my book, I hope he'll get in touch with me, because there's a big thank you and a book waiting for him.

SPURGEON: You said in an interview that you first saw this work through Bill Blackbeard. Why do you think Bill presented you with this work? What was your initial connection with what Brinkley was doing, and has that changed at all in terms of emphasis in the years since?

ROBBINS: Bill is a very sweet guy and he had some doubles, and he knew enough about me, even in 1970, to know I'd like to have them. The trouble was, seeing Nell's work out of context, all I could tell was that she drew gorgeously, but I didn't know what she said! I didn't know she wrote these great serials, or her daily panels/commentary, much of which was quite feminist.

image

SPURGEON: Newspapermen like Steve Duin and myself can't help but see this book and shake our heads in wonder that this splendid-looking material used to appear in weekly newspaper supplements. Did you give any thought to the massive contrast between then and now while assembling The Brinkley Girls? Do you think there's a lesson to be learned here about papers abandoning something that was once very successful about them, or the state of newspapers generally?

ROBBINS: Newspapers have definitely gone downhill. The SF Chronicle is pathetic these days and in danger of folding, and I don't think we can chalk it all up to the economy. After all, during the Great Depression the papers were at their best. A big mistake was downgrading the comics so that they are run so small one can barely read them, and eliminating continued adventure strips, so all that's left is three panels and a gag.

SPURGEON: I notice that some of the masthead material suggest appearances in papers between the coasts. Was there any difference as to how her work was received by people in different parts of the country? Was there a certain social class to whom she appealed? I assume and I take it from your work that she appealed to women and girl readers.

ROBBINS: She was nationally syndicated, so her work appeared everywhere. Hearst's papers appealed to the middle class and the working class, so I'm guessing Nell was not read by the Vanderbilts. Yes, women and girls were her greatest fans and collectors.

image

SPURGEON: I may be wrong about this, but you seem much more fond of the first section than the other two -- not so much from a technical standpoint but perhaps in terms of the qualities that come out through the drawings and the kind of stories being told. Is that a fair assessment? What is it about the first section's stories that you find particularly memorable or laudatory?

ROBBINS: You're right! I have no problem with the art -- Nell's art was always great -- but her earnest and feminist serials are such fun to read, while those flapper comics, written by Carolyn Wells, are so negative! After writing about brave and beautiful women, she suddenly was illustrating comics about air-headed flappers. But she returned to her feminism, when she wrote those great Heroines of Today.

SPURGEON: I'm having a hard time reconciling the initial biographical portrait you provide, of this young cartoonist and artist who's willing to return home if she's forced onto the comics page, with her making changes in the art to keep up with a popular style. What is your take on her making these changes later on in her career? Does it surprise you as well? Was it just professional survival? A desire to sustain a certain kind of popularity? Do you think she was self-critical in terms of her art?

ROBBINS: Nell was a great artist, but she also knew what side her bread was buttered on, and I think that when she had to change with the times, she was willing to make that change. Remember, at the same time she was doing some very feminist, even political, stuff in her daily panels.

SPURGEON: I thought it was interesting how you spoke of Brinkley's genuine interest in women and how that drove a lot of her illustration/reportage. Was that a common attitude among certain newspaper people at the time, this idea of really looking at what women were doing and then bringing to that to the newspaper page, or was she rare in that regard?

ROBBINS: Us women are usually interested in women. I don't think the male journalists were writing about women in quite the same way that Nell did.

SPURGEON: As you mention, the shift from Brinkley's admittedly pedestrian prose to Carolyn Wells' doggerel is almost painful to read -- do you know if there was any reaction from the readers either way?

ROBBINS: Alas, I don't! I only know my -- and your -- reaction.

image

SPURGEON: I think highly of designer Adam Grano's work... was there any back and forth between the two of you on the project or did you find common ground quickly? In general, Fantagraphics has shifted to doing more and more art books... are you happy with the way The Brinkley Girls turned out?

ROBBINS: Adam Grano is wonderful, and I am deliriously happy with the book! This is the first time I have opened one of my new books without becoming horrified at a typo or a caption misplaced or a caption-less illo! When I found a couple of errors in the galleys, they went out of their way to correct them, whereas other publishers might have (Indeed, have!) said, "Sorry, there's no time."

SPURGEON: I was reading a blurb for the Cartoon Art Museum show done in conjunction with this book and it talked about the need to rediscover history through figures such as Brinkley. You've been an advocate for women in comics for years and years now. How do you think female cartoonists both past and present have fared in this latest resurgence of comics art?

ROBBINS: How are we doing? We could be doing better, but I'm not complaining. On one hand, there are more women creating comics than ever -- ever! -- before, but on the other hand we still see male editors hiring their drinking buddies.

SPURGEON: Speaking of your Cartoon Art Museum show, what is it like seeing these works as originals? Is there a quality to the originals that maybe doesn't come all the way through in the reproductions?

ROBBINS: It's great to study Nell's work close-up. She used such delicate, fine lines, that even with the great repro methods used in newspapers in those days, something was bound to be lost in the printing process.

imageSPURGEON: Trina, you're also a well-known, key figure of the underground comix movement. I've been thinking recently of the legacy of that era and those comics. Are you happy with the way those comics are perceived today? Sometimes I think people have kind of put them out of mind. Is there anything you wish more people knew or valued more about that generation of comics makers?

ROBBINS: Well, there is a very good exhibit of underground comics going on right now at the Chazen Museum of Art, and a book from the exhibit, Underground Classics. But looking back at the underground scene, which I've done for quite a while now, I feel like I never really fit in.

SPURGEON: How do you mean? Do you mean in the sense of what you were doing with your art was different than the bulk of the material? Is this a recent realization, and if so, how did it come about?

ROBBINS: Well, yeah. I mean, I tended to do stories, sci fi often, rather than tales of sex and drugs. That plus the fact that I was a woman writing and drawing from a woman's perspective, and most everyone else was a guy (look at the book, Underground Classics!), and I really was not accepted by most of the guys. Yes, there were exceptions (Thank you, Denis Kitchen, for inviting me into your books back in '71!), but they were the minority. It wasn't until Wimmen's Comix came along, and even that had to run for a quite few issues, before I felt I had found a place to fit in.

SPURGEON: I think of you for your advocacy of Rose O'Neill and Nell Brinkley, Trina -- are there artists that you feel are in their class that you simply haven't had the time or the number of opportunities to advocate on their behalf? If there's a historian out there looking for a subject, where would you direct them?

ROBBINS: There's a woman who's just come out with a book on Rose O'Neill, and another woman working on a book about Fanny Y. Cory. But surprisingly, there's nothing out there about Grace Drayton -- I couldn't even find a Wikipedia page! And she needs a book of her own!

image

SPURGEON: There's a real exuberance to the art in Brinkley's earlier serials that almost made me laugh out loud because of the energy -- she's really drawing the heck out of those scenes, all the lines everywhere. Did people respond to that element of her work, do you think?

ROBBINS: At the opening of Nell's exhibit at the Cartoon Art Museum, I heard people commenting on all those little lines, and at least one of them used that very word: exuberance.

image

SPURGEON: What in Brinkley's work do you think people respond to now? I take it by approaching the book this way through such a concentration on the work itself you feel that people may react to reading these pages -- what's there for the modern reader? Do you perceive a sensibility common to manga directed at a female audience, perhaps in the decorative elements or the way plots are constructed?

ROBBINS: What Nell's work and manga -- especially shojo manga -- have in common is they're both so damned pretty! And yes, girls and women like pretty, and all too often male critics and art historians have scorned pretty (they call it "draws like a girl") and have though it trivial and unimportant (not important, like, say, war and people fighting each other). I think that this is why Nell has been forgotten, because the mostly male comics and art historians have not written about her. Look at all the great women cartoonists who were left out of that "American Masters" show -- they all drew "pretty!"

image

SPURGEON: You made a fascinating point in a recent interview that maybe some North American attempts to connect with a female audience have lacked elements you find in Brinkley.

ROBBINS: Are there North American comics that reach out to this kind of audience that you think work well? There must be some, but I think they're probably indies or non-superhero graphic novels.

SPURGEON: What's next for you, Trina?

ROBBINS: My next book that will come out in the Fall is something completely different. It's a history of the Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs, most of them in San Francisco's Chinatown. You know, when you watch those old movies from the 30s and 40s, there's often a scene in a nightclub, everyone's glamorous and some woman in an evening gown is singing while a big band plays? That's what the Chinese nightclubs were like, from 1937 to 1964, except that all the entertainers were Asian. The book is an oral history, with interviews with 22 retired entertainers, the oldest being 97 (and one woman, a singer, I'm sorry to say has already passed away). There are 200 illustrations, photos of gorgeous Asian women with pompadour hairstyles and dark lipstick, dancing in evening gowns or fishnet tights, and handsome Asian men with their hair slicked back, crooning or tap dancing in tuxedos, as well as great art deco menu covers and ads. The book is titled Forbidden City: the Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs. I've also just finished an updated, rewritten and revised, full-color history of superheroines, titled The Great American Superheroines, and that should be out in 2010.

*****

* cover to and images from The Brinkley Girls, provided by Fantagraphics; tiny sample of underground comix work from one of the various indexes of such material

*****

* The Brinkley Girls: The Best Of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons From 1913-1940, edited By Trina Robbins, hardcover, 136 pages, 2009, $29.99

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were Near This, I’d Go To It

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #170—Wait! Don’t!

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Decisions You'd Like To Talk The Comics-Related Person Who Made Them Out Of Doing." Here are their responses.

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Harvey Kurtzman, Disengaging From MAD The Way He Did
2. Joe Maneely, Not Taking a Cab
3. Wally Wood, Getting Original Art Back Commando-Style Before I Could Build Time Machine To Go Back In Time And Watch
4. Jack Kirby, Not Getting It In Writing
5. Jim Steranko, Hosting the Harveys

*****

image

Tom Bondurant

1. Bob Kane -- taking all the credit for creating "Batman"
2. Denny O'Neil -- using that phone poll instead of something more classy, like flipping a coin
3. Kevin Dooley -- nixing Gerard Jones' original idea for what became "Emerald Twilight"
4. The Miracleman intellectual-property owners -- not nailing down the reprint rights
5. Carmine Infantino -- not cutting Jack Kirby more slack so he could finish up the Fourth World books

*****

image

Christopher Duffy

1. Milt Gross -- eating that eclair.
2. Charles Schulz -- taking that first Met Life meeting.
3. Gary Larsen -- quitting his strip.
4. Bill Watterson -- quitting his strip.
5. Jack Cole -- killing himself.

*****

image

Marc Sobel

1. Hernandez Brothers from ending Love & Rockets vol. 1
2. Todd McFarlane from buying that baseball
3. Joe Matt from squandering his talent
4. Whoever was responsible for casting the Watchmen movie from hiring Matthew Goode instead of Aaron Eckhart as Ozymandias
5. Christoper Reeve from getting on that horse

*****

image

Andrew Mansell

1. Milton Caniff-- for going ahead with the disastrous Vietnam Storyline, "The Critics"
2. Dave Sim--For not taking his divorce/misogyny/conversion and pounding it down his readers throats for 10+ years
3. EC Segar, being with him on his death bed and preventing him from signing the shysters contract
4. Jim Shooter-- from going through with Secret Wars 1 and 2-- it has wrecked mainstream comics to this day
5. George Wunder--persuaded him that there were better ways of distancing himself from Caniff instead of adopting those horrendous profiles.

*****

image

Ben Schwartz

1. Steve Ditko, turning down Frank Miller on that MR. A book;
2. Jerry Siegel, every decision made after 1937;
3. Schulz, shoulda gone with Hostess over Dolly Madison;
4. Dan Clowes, not pushing harder for a Needledick the Bugfucker movie;
5. Stan Lee, not a thing, pal, not a thing.

*****

image

Buzz Dixon

1 - For God's sake, Mark McClellan, give me a call even if I am on the other side of the country.
2 - The first one is free, George Caragonne, but the rest of them will cost your self-respect, your talent, your friends, your family, your soul, and your life.
3 - Put the cigarette down, Steve Gerber.
4 - Get it in writing, Jack Kirby.
5 - You need a different hobby, Vaughn Bode'.

*****

image

Ben Towle

Stan Lee -- Pissing off Steve Ditko
Seth -- Adding gray-tones to Charles Schulz's artwork
Bill Gaines -- Staying up all night all hopped up on amphetamines before that congressional hearing
Wizard World -- Continually scheduling conventions at the same time as Heroes Con
??? -- Whatever caused the fall-out between ICAF and SPX

*****

image

Robin McConnell

1. Stop Frank Miller from taking whatever it drug it was that suddenly made him suck.
2. Dave Sim hating women.
3. Get 12-year-old Art Spiegelman to read some Kirby (does making someone do something count)
4. Greg Irons going overseas
5. Chester Brown doing Underwater.

*****

image

Eric Knisley

1. Dave Sim, getting too damn serious about the religion.
2. Stan Lee... well, a lot of things.
3. Larry Marder, stopping work on "Beanworld" for so long.
4. Jerry and Joe, not getting better legal advice.
5. The Electric Tape Girl who used to come to Comic-Con, wearing a costume made from about $1.10 worth of electric tape.

*****

image

Gerry Alanguilan

1. Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons, for killing and discontinuing Martha Washington.
2. Bill Watterson, for ending Calvin and Hobbes way too soon.
3. Jack Kirby, for discontinuing OMAC before he had the chance to resolve the unbearable cliffhanger that I'm still bearing for more than 30 years.
4. For John Byrne and everyone else, for trying to continue OMAC.
5. Chris Claremont, for leaving New Mutants.

*****

image

Dave Carter

1. Marvel trying to be their own distributor
2. DC pulping the Elseworlds 80-page Giant
3. George Perez, Mark Waid, Barbara Kesel et al. going to work for CrossGen
4. Dark Horse printing Lone Wolf & Cub in that tiny pocket-sized format
5. Siegel & Shuster signing away the rights to Superman

*****

image

Sean Kleefeld

1. Bill Mantlo, Don't take up rollerblading
2. Martin Goodman, Don't close down your distribution company
3. Bill Finger, Don't let Kane steal your thunder
4. Siegel & Shuster, Don't sign away everything without at least a percentage
5. Bill Gaines, Do not -- I repeat, do not -- volunteer to testify

*****

image

Richard Pachter

1. Steve Ditko quitting Spider-Man after #38
2. Mort Weisinger firing Wayne Boring
3. DC and Marvel switching to smaller size original art in 1967
4. John Byrne leaving Superman after #22
5. Jeanette Kahn deciding to increase DC output prior to Blizzards of '77-'78 leading to the DC Implosion

*****

image

Danny Ceballos

1. Jack Cole from "quitting" the business
2. Frank Miller from making movies
3. Art Spiegelman from discontinuing RAW
4. Charles Schulz from never letting Charlie Brown kick that football
5. Wimbledon Green from dispersing the Wilbur R. Webb collection

*****

image

Lou Copeland

1. Denis Kitchen -- Selling controlling interest in Kitchen Sink Press
2. Jack Cole -- You know
3. The person who nominated Jim Shooter for the position of Editor-In-Chief of Marvel Comics.
4. Bill Sienkiewicz -- Quitting Big Numbers
5. Frank Frazetta -- Taking a job assisting Al Capp

Submitted with great respect for Mr.'s Kitchen, Sienkiewicz, & Frazetta, in recognition that some of these decisions may have been unavoidable.

*****

thanks to all that participated

*****
*****
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 65th Birthday, Philippe Druillet!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 68th Birthday, Mike Royer!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 75th Birthday, Georges Wolinksi!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

I would very much enjoy a Nero Wolfe adaptation starring Gerard Depardieu and Norm MacDonald.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Chris Duffy’s The July 4th Project: Send Him Your Patriotic Superheroes

image
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 27, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade




 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Next Week In Comics-Related Events

June 28
image

June 29
image

June 30
image

July 1
image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from June 20 to June 26, 2009:

1. Cartoonist among those arrested in Iran.

2. More departures from Wizard, even as they pull off a convention in Philadelphia, and Gareb Shamus keeps adding companies to his personal ownership portfolio (as opposed to having Wizard purchase them).

3. Jack Newcombe and Jon Goldwater join their respective family businesses.

Winner Of The Week
Jake Thompson

Losers Of The Week
Cartoonists and other satirically-minded creative people in South Africa.

Quote Of The Week
"I mean seriously, I'm like FRIENDS with JEFF SMITH now." -- Alec Longstreth

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Dallas, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In So-Cal, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Denver, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Dan Jurgens!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 31st Birthday, Debbie Huey!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Bernie Mireault!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Butch Guice!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 81st Birthday, Joe Giella!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 85th Birthday, Paul Conrad!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Bob Scott On The CR Site (6/27/09)
* Somebody at Quimby's On Paul Buhle Signing Off-Site 7-12 (PR) (6/27/09)
* Curtis On The Possibility Of John Byrne Doing An X-Men Forever Type Book (6/27/09)
* Craig Yoe On The Possibility They're Hiring at yoe! studio (6/27/09)
* Phil Lee On The CR Sunday Interview With Darwyn Cooke And Ed Brubaker (6/27/09)
* Chris At Zeus Comics On Greg Rucka Signing 6/27 (PR) (6/24/09)
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I’m Playing Catch-Up With HeroesCon

image

The collective memory for HeroesCon 2009 will be run one more time, on Monday, so please get me anything of yours that hasn't been posted yet (you don't have to send it again if you've already sent it).

You know, I had no idea Don Rosa was there (that's him with Alec Longstreth in a photo I stole from here). We should make a bigger deal of Don Rosa. He's an international cartooning star, that guy, and his work is a lot of fun to read. I always enjoy seeing him at shows, too: he's cordial and smart.
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 26, 2009


Friday Distraction: Kevin Dart

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Luckovich’s MJ Cartoon

image

whoa
 
posted 9:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Andres Cascioli, 1936-2009

image

Andres Cascioli, the Argentinian artist and caritcaturis best known as the editor of magazines such as Humor, Satiricon and Fierro, died on Wednesday due to complications from cancer. He was 72 years old.

Cascioli was born in the Avellaneda district in 1936. As a younger man, he split work between the fields of graphic design and advertising, while occasionally placing work in comics publications.

In 1972 he and Oskar Blotta founded the magazine Satiricon. In 1978, the same pair started Humor a satirical magazine that presented some of the best cartoonists working in Argentina, developed others and quickly became a publication that bravely criticized military dictatorship. Cascioli would later write about that time period in the book La revista Humor y la dictadura. The magazine won a distinction in 1982 as the best international satirical magazine from an Italian source, the same year Cascioli was recognized by Asociación de Dibujantes de la Argentina as their caricaturist of the year.

That magazine's success allowed Cascioli to create a magazine label called Ediciones de la Urraca, which published up to ten magazines at a time. In the 1990s he moved into more formal magazine publishing, first with La Nacion de los Chicos for the La Nacion (1996), then the Argentinian edition of Rolling Stone (2001), and finally El Cacerolazo for Editorial Perfil. In 2005-2006, Cascioli released a best-of for Humor and a best of his own work, which was accompanied by a show at Palace de Glace in Beunos Aires featuring over 100 originals.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 John Locher Award Winner

Alan Gardner caught that Jake Thompson has been named this year's winner of the John Locher Memorial Award. He is a junior at the University Of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana campus. Thompson will be flown to Seattle and put up for the Association of American Editorial Cartoonist meeting being held there, the value of which is apparently being openly questioned.

 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
New CEO At Archie, But Familiar Name: Jon Goldwater Buys Ownership Interest

image

In what has turned out to be a very good week for sons adopting the mantles of father, Jon Goldwater, son of Archie comics empire co-founder John Goldwater and brother to the late, longtime company-runner Richard Goldwater, will take over as Archie Comics Company CEO. He also purchased an unspecified ownership interest. Goldwater plans to aggressively push the company's various properties over what looks to be just about any medium that can use them. Johanna Draper Carlson, who follows Archie much more closely than I do, has an initial reaction here.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
27 Days Until Comic-Con International

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bringing A Cartoon To Life

image

via
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Weaker Sex

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I've slipped a few more Michael Jackson and cartooning links at the bottom of yesterday's brief post, including this post by Daryl Cagle ending on a pretty choice anecdote.

* speaking of Michael Jackson, Darrin Bell is bracing for an onslaught of this.

image* Paul Pope looks at some old comics art. He has good taste.

* one thing that's good about having wasted your life is that you end up putting two and two together, like the fact that Tom Toles is one of the best editorial cartoonists and he's really interested in transportation issues. His Washington metro train wreck cartoon is as lacerating as you'd expect.

* finally, the writer and editor Joel Meadows has posted the latest Tripwire cover, and will be posting pages in the future, all in the hopes of encouraging US retailers to buy directly for their stores. I'm saddened that Joel and the gang haven't found the audience you think might exist for a glossy semi-annual like Tripwire, but I also know that this latest back-and-forth isn't about a publication being strangled in the crib by new policies as much as it is a publication that's struggling to stay in there. I think there's a big difference both in terms of the anger I bring to the issue but also in that I think we should maybe stop looking at whether or not books make whatever benchmarks and more atwhy the marketplace for certain professional-standard work has shrunk to the point of insignificance.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 32nd Birthday, Tite Kubo!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Tom DeFalco!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 75th Birthday, Bob Weber Sr.!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Steve Lieber Names Best Artist You've Never Heard Of

Exhibits/Events
G-4 To Televise CCI Panel

History
All About Thriller
That Dude Loves Terminator
Humbug Subscription Mailer

Industry
How Do You Stock Herogasm?

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: Todd Nauck
Newsarama: Hilary Barta
Broken Frontier: Fred Chao

Not Comics
This Looks Awful

Publishing
Please, Stop
WHTTWOT Previewed
Sam's Strip Discussed
Sign Up To Be In Shiot Crock
Please Publish This Awesome Comic

Reviews
Jeff Lester: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
KC Carlson: The Hunter
Greg McElhatton: Veil #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Jillian Steinhauer: I Saw You...
Jog On The New Batwoman Comic
Bart Croonenborghs: Underground
Andy Frisk: Detective Comics #854
Andy Frisk: Wolverine: Weapon X #2
Leroy Douresseaux: Negima!? neo Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Detroit Metal City Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Famous Players
Leroy Douresseaux: Captive Hearts Vol. 5
Johanna Draper Carlson: Magic Trixie And The Dragon
 

 
June 25, 2009


Michael Joseph Jackson, RIP

image

Show Respect to Michael Jackson
He's been through a lot
And What do you want?

Show Respect to Michael Jackson
He's been through a lot
And What do you want?

No one can dance like Michael can!
No one can sing like Michael can!
Lay off Michael, he's my man.
Remember when the whole world loved him?

Show Respect to Michael Jackson
He's been through a lot
And What do you want?

Show Respect to Michael Jackson
He's been through a lot
And What do you want?

No one can dance like Michael can!
No one can sing like Michael can!
Lay off Michael, he's my man.
Remember when the whole world loved him?

Remember when Michael Jackson.... mmmm hmmmm mmmmm
Remember when Michael Jackson.... mmmm hmmmm mmmmm

-- "Show Respect To Michael Jackson," James Kochalka Superstar

*****

Also: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Michael Jackson; Michael Jackson meets Stan Lee; Daryl Cagle on Jackson as a subject, Rick Marshall on Jackson the comics fan and potential Marvel Comics buyer, a tribute from James Kochalka in cartoon form, Lucy Knisley, Jim Mahfood, John Jackson Miller on all the recently passed-away celebrities and comics, full cover from Marie Severin, the final word?
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Update

Placeholders/Quick Links, for which you have my further apology:

* Ismet Vehit Guney, a prominent cartoonist and designer of the Republic of Cyprus flag, died on Tuesday at age 77.

* although best known as a prominent and influential animator, obituaries for the late Jaime Diaz suggest a newspaper strip among his many accomplishments and that his studio also performed Disney comics work.

* a recent interview with Jim Borgman over shrinking strip size garnered some attention. It's a subject worth engaging, although I'm not sure how much blame for the current state of newspaper cartooning I'd lay at its feet.

* A smattering of Yen Press titles apparently fail to make Diamond order minimums.

* finally, Gareb Shamus buys the troubled Toronto Comicon, which although suggested in arch terms as a kind of revival mechanism for the beleagured Wizard Entertainment business could also be a next step in Shamus' business career following Wizard, as this makes another show he's purchased rather than facilitating a purchase under his best-known company. All eyes -- well, all eyes that take in the convention business -- should be on WizardWorld Chicago, a big show with numerous potential difficulties. It not only has to come off, but one would imagine as the Wizard longtime convention flagship, come off well.
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Mars, God Of War

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ollie Schrauwen Blog

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Face From The Future

image
 
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Jerry Bingham!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 24, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

image

* an announcement on the site of embattled entertainment company Wizard tells the reader all about new magazine/brand Funfare, but also lets slip that like the previously announced New York city convention project, this is something that will be published by Wizard founder Gareb Shamus, not necessarily the company with which he's most closely identified. This could be a mistake in the PR's wording, a sign that Shamus may be building a list of projects for a post-Wizard lifetime, or a kind of Schroedinger's long-boxed cat thing where such decisions will be made further down the line.

image* the columnist Bart Croonenborghs says that Drawn and Quarterly will publish an English-language version of Brecht Evans' Ergens waar je niet wil zijn in 2010.

* the writer/Hollywood producer Jeff Katz announces the first four titles for his comics company/license launch-pad project American Original.

* the Eric Shanower and Skottie Young Oz-related series for Marvel was enough of a hit there will be a round two. (image top)

* the writer Sean T. Collins is right: the forthcoming Criminal: The Deluxe Edition looks gorgeous. (image bottom)

* this bit of news is going to be way out of date by the time this post rolls out, but it's the best place for me to put it so I can find it later: the new creative team on the DC potential flagship title JLA is writer James Robinson and artist Mark Bagley.

* probably the big news of the week in terms of established properties is the acquisition of the Disney duck comics (and Mickey Mouse comics) by Boom! I can't imagine there isn't a huge wait and see element involved here given the current shape of the comics market and the success of these books over the last 30 years, but I also can't imagine a comics fans that wouldn't feel better with these comics having at least a little market penetration.

* in similar news Archaia has signed a deal with the Henson company for deals on established properties like Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal and for future co-created, co-branded comic books. It's hard for me to imagine there's much if any interest in Mirrormask comics and the like, but maybe I'll be wrong about that.

* finally, the Graphic NYC folks speak to future plans, including the book.

image
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
South Korean Cartoonist Fired For Weaving Two Insulting Messages To The President Into Patterns

Wonju police have asked that cartoonist Choi answer a summons regarding his placement of two phrases insulting to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak into the patterns of a cartoon. Choi has already been fired and has apparently also already publicly defended the appropriateness of such a message being conveyed through cartooning. While the story bears watching in terms of free expression, it's also worth noting that mainstream American comic book fans may recall instances where artists on those books wove a message or two into the background visuals of a comics panel -- some bearing the consequences of said actions, some not, although perhaps none with the potential impact or severe circumstance that may be visited upon Choi.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Newsmaker Interview: Dustin Harbin

image

I wasn't able to attend the comics show HeroesCon this year. Since CR lacks the resources to run a lot of panel coverage and the publishing news that comes out of such programming, I asked Dustin Harbin if he would answer a few questions about this year's event. That way I could focus on HeroesCon as an event on the calendar and its own unique arc these last years as it's developed a national reputation as a regional show done right. Happily, the longtime Heroes employee and cartoonist agreed t speak to me. -- Tom Spurgeon

imageTOM SPURGEON: Can you describe as explicitly as possible how much work you do to help put on the show? What's the general division of labor like between you guys? Are you specifically in charge of anything as compared to what other people might do? When does it really gear up -- six weeks out? Four weeks out?

DUSTIN HARBIN: You'll get me hung in effigy if I leave out the massive effort the entire staff puts on for the show, before, during, and after. Maybe I'm still in the afterglow of how awesome our staff is, but wow, super awesome. Okay but in advance of the show a lot of the work is done by me and Shelton Drum, the show's owner and founder and my boss.

Shelton does all the stuff that involves the checkbook, the decorators, hotel contracts, dealing with a convention center that hates us, et cetera. Not to mention raising all the insane amounts of money it takes to put the show on, etc. I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but I've been outside trying to get my truck to start and I failed and I'm grumpy so shut your mouth.

I do most of the wrangling of pros, a metric ton of e-mailing, all the design work, site maintenance, program book, etc. Everything you see on our web site or in any print document associated with the show is hand-keyed by me, with the exception of our New Releases page which our store manager Shawn Reynolds handles. Also the marketing and press release writing. Oh and a lot of the show running on-site, putting out fires and trying to gingerly handle the many many many complaints people have about where they were seated and why this or that is an affront to their dignity and/or place in the industry.

But I really need to stress here: it is easier for me to enumerate what I do because I just did it, but it makes it sound like I do more than Shelton does -- that guy is a monster and a workhorse and works me under the table every year despite his advanced age of 54. We start way early but about two months out are spending most of our time on it, and about a month out the late nights and weekends start.

SPURGEON: What can you tell us about this year's attendance figures and general financial picture? Did you have as many exhibitors as last year? As many attendees? Did the general economic fortunes of the area impinge on the show at all? How did the art sale do?

HARBIN: I think last year we estimated our numbers at between 10,000 and 12,000 through the weekend. We don't have the complete numbers back yet, and even then they're never complete -- there are the hundreds of pros and dealers and guests and press and all that to think about, and we give away a lot of passes throughout the year. Shelton thinks we were about even with last year, which was a pretty good year attendance-wise. It's hard for me to estimate, as last year we were in an 80,000 square foot hall and this year moved to a 100,000 square foot hall. I thought Friday was down, but dealers seemed pleased with the traffic and if there was anyone who would complain about numbers it's the dealers.

Saturday seemed much more robust to me, although I think Sunday traffic was down from last year. I heard a lot of reports of people doing crazy good sales on Friday, from dealers to pros to small press, but I know some people didn't do as good. I just read Liz Baillie's con report and it sounded like she didn't do as well as last year.

We had the same or better exhibitors this year, and about twenty percent more small press tables sold, despite price hikes on both booths and tables. Knock on wood, but little evidence of a down economy at this year's show, however cheeky that may be to say.

SPURGEON: Am I correct in my assumption that you scaled back a bit from 2008's ambitious art-comics presence? Can you talk about your devotion to having folks from that arena of comics at the show, what your plans are for the next few years?

HARBIN: Well, I didn't purposefully scale back Indie Island, but after last year I was pretty demoralized and I just didn't put the same energy into it to be perfectly frank. Last year was like a dream for me, so many amazing people I'm a huge fan of in my hometown, by far the best perk -- I mean, I got Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga and Jaime Hernandez plus about 50 other amazing guys out to a basically mainstream show! So it stung a lot when a lot of those guys had disappointing sales, although I can't really blame them for being honest about it. I may have overreached last year, maybe? Who knows -- Shelton is really cool to just let me kind of do my thing with Indie Island, even though it's his money, so this year I was a little gunshy about throwing a lot of bread at it.

Having said that, having Jeff Smith and Jason Lutes surrounded by guys like Alec Longstreth and Roger Langridge and Guy Davis is still pretty amazing, you know? Roger told me he did way way better than last year -- our show is maybe a little singular in that a lot of the attendees come every year and are repeat buyers for repeat guests. I know Alec told me he saw a lot of return business this year, although I'm not sure how successful his overall show was.

Next year I am planning on returning to the optimistic if-you-build-it-they-will-come model. There's a pretty good chance Fantagraphics is coming, although I don't want to announce it until we have dates locked in, because unannouncing stuff is strictly for the birds. I will be knocking on a lot of doors in the fall and winter, both on the Indie Island and mainstream fronts.

It's not so much that I'm devoted to the idea of an Indie Island, although I think it lends the show something that it was lacking. It's more that I just really like indie comics and the people I invite are like a who's who of the people I love in that world. It's very selfish, but I think ultimately it will be a jewel in our crown.

SPURGEON: You guys have been awash in good feelings over the last couple of years. Has that shaped your attitude towards the show at all. Does anything about the goodwill shown the show translate in real terms to how the show comes off?

HARBIN: Hm. My feelings about the show are hard to pin down just now, with my throat still hoarse and my legs still rubbery. Shelton and I pull a month's worth of late nights in the month before the show, and it can get you down sometimes. But I will say that reading all the complimentary con reports is a real pick-me-up -- it's nice to feel like you really busted your hump for something and it worked, you know? I think maybe that's why I hated the post-show so much last year, when some of the new indie guys were surprised they didn't sell more their first show. I can be pretty petty, I guess.

In terms of goodwill translating to the actual functioning of the show though: definitely, and specifically the goodwill of our guests. They're pretty much the best -- I think we had upwards of 100 pieces of art donated by guests for our Art Auction, the proceeds of which go straight to our hospitality costs. In a lot of cases, this was big name painter guys doing original paintings onstage -- Frank Cho, Stephane Roux, Brian Stelfreeze, Eric Canete, Mark Brooks -- all these guys did full color work that brought thousands of dollars in, all out of the goodness of their hearts. So humbling. And I really think that vibe is the core of the larger "friendly" vibe we have -- fans pick up that the pros are having a great time, and the feeling just multiplies I guess. That sounds pretty silly I guess, but I think it's true.

image

SPURGEON: I'm counting on you to come up with something specific, but what distinguished this year's show from the past few? I'm not getting anything specific from the reports I've read. Was it really just another year?

HARBIN: This makes me look bad, but the show was just not planned as well this year as last year. Last year was so smooth it was crazy. This year I misprinted a ton of small press seating locations in the program book and spent the first 6 hours of the show rearranging my own painstakingly planned diagram on the fly. Most people were pretty patient about it, but some people were shooting me dirty looks all weekend.

Like I say, we have a good staff, and we're all pretty good at handling complaints and putting out fires, but I wish I could blame some of those fires on other people, which is my preference. Other than screw-ups, the big standout this year for me was the Art Auction, which earned 20% more than last year, due mainly to the excellent auctioneering of Allison Sohn. I was originally going to do it, but Allison agreed to help, and by about 1/3 of the way through I'd been booed offstage in favor of her. She's super amazing at auctioneering, and I super-hate auctioneering, so this was definitely a don't-throw-me-in-the-briar-patch kinda problem, you know? Shelton had foolishly given me a ton of drink tickets to hand out to pros too, so the briar patch was well lubricated on Saturday night.

Oh, and Jeff Smith -- can Jeff Smith count as something distinguished? I hung out a ton with Jeff and Steve Hamaker, and it's hard to imagine two cooler people to hang out with, especially if Alec Longstreth is nearby, saving you the trouble of imagining him.

SPURGEON: This is one of the first shows since the comics community's embrace of Twitter reached a tipping point: was there any discernible change in the show because of the prevalence of that technology?

HARBIN: I don't think Twitter changed the way the show was run, per se; for instance, I wasn't informing people of seating changes via tweets or anything. But I do think it expanded our network a lot, both for fans and pros a lot -- when I would post new changes to the guest list I would see them re-tweeted a lot, which was encouraging. Most of all Twitter provided me a platform to namedrop for four days and bemoan the fact that I'd forgotten to pack any socks. Thanks, social media!

SPURGEON: Are there already plans for next year, things that you know you have to do or want to do to have another one of these?

HARBIN: The big thing each year is "next year we'll start earlier," ostensibly to cut down on the number of things you find yourself doing at 4 in the morning 2 days before the show. Right now we're concentrating on locking down dates. We almost never have not had dates to announce at the show, and it basically sucks to not have that done, but the convention center is not easy to work with and the dates they have offered us aren't great. We're working all that out now -- Shelton is a good talker and can usually get stuff done, and we want to have dates that make sense and don't coincide with something else, whether it's another show or a local event (this is a Nascar town, so anything scheduled near a race weekend guarantees every hotel room in the city will be booked).

As far as improvements go, I'd like to do a better job of getting the word out locally -- I really think there is a large untapped potential fanbase around here for us, but things get so hectic close to the show that I just can't find the time to go out and beat the bushes, you know? Again, the earlier we start the more things we can do, and better.

image

SPURGEON: You've seemed to have really deepened your devotion to your own cartooning -- how is that going? What's the end result there for you, ideally?

HARBIN: This is easily the best psychological perk for me about the show. Hanging out with cartoonists, especially guys like Jeff Smith and Joe Lambert and Alec and Guy Davis just gets me excited about making comics, you know? Especially Joe -- that dude is so amazing, and makes it look so easy, and is so prolific. And Guy Davis is so complimentary you walk away from his table thinking you're Alex Toth or something. So yeah, I've got a lot of plans for SPX in the fall.

The end result for me in my own cartooning is to eventually be a "real" cartoonist, doing it full-time, working on books, long stories, even MORE fart humor than I am already capable of packing into a week. I have been doing my weekly strip since December, and while only some of them are any good, they all have been monstrously educational, and are great practice while I get ready to start more serious work. And then some seriously complaining about how solitary and lonely being a full-time cartoonist is. That's when I'll know it's for real.

In the meantime, I'm still new enough that I'm learning all the time. I'm fortunate in that I have some very good friends who are also fabulous cartoonists and have been generous with their own knowledge. While I prefer to keep my day job and my cartooning separate -- most people at the show have no idea I even draw, and I like that -- the show has provided me access to a pretty amazing group of cartoonists over the years.

SPURGEON: Where do you see HeroesCon five years from now? Are you still a part of it?

HARBIN: I think we're nearing a terminal size -- the show kind of depends on Shelton being at its center; he's been a figure in comics since pretty much the start of the direct market, and a lot of the pros are old old friends of his. If we grow too much more we'll lose some of what makes us special and just turn into a big concrete room full of people and money. Having said that, I think we could grow a teensie bit more in the next few years and get a little more frugal with our budget, and the show would actually be a perennial moneymaker for us.

As for my place, this HeroesCon was my 14th; I was hired back in '96 as a clerk at Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, the shop that organizes the show. I was 21 years old! I guess I'd like to say that I hope I'm on the other side of the table in five years, y'know? But there are worse things than working for a great comics shop and organizing a well-loved comics convention. And Shelton lets me do things my way most of the time, which is a rare trait in a boss (I hear, I've only worked a couple of other places as an adult). I suspect that HeroesCon will be a part of my life in some way for good or ill for awhile, yeah.

SPURGEON: how would you describe Heroes as a profit-generator? I've always heard that you guys did okay but maybe weren't all that aggressive when it came to maximizing profit.

HARBIN: Hm. I would say that we aggressively want to turn a profit, but are aggressively bad at it. It's how we run our shop, too -- Shelton will 10 times out of 10 err on the side of having a book if he thinks a customer will want it. Ditto for the convention -- if there's something Shelton thinks we should do, he will do it regardless of the cost. We print our own custom badges, print fancy incentive prints to just straight-up give away to everyone who buys a ticket, then print fancy huge 7' x 15' banner to hang all over the place like college basketball pennants of those prints.

Since I've only ever worked for one convention before, I didn't realize until just a few years ago that other big shows charge most of their guests for table space. I was like "whaaat?" I maybe shouldn't be saying this, but I think it's pretty cool of Shelton -- while we definitely sell a lot of table space, we don't charge any of our invited guests for tables. It can lead to some bruised egos from people who think they're on the wrong list, but I think it's part of the vibe among the pros that we're not just bleeding them dry.

In a good year we do a little better than break even, and this was a good year. We have definitely lost money some years, even years with great attendance -- sometimes the stars just don't line up, and you have to take your lumps. On the other hand, we don't carry big stacks of books around in Artists Alley to get signed by everybody so we can eBay them, we don't encourage people to charge for autographs, we don't invite a bunch of TV actors to draw that crowd, we just don't make money the focal point of the show. Whether or not this is sound business policy is hard to say, but I think it's part of the vibe. We don't invite anyone we don't like, either, you know?

I think you had it pegged in your very kind pre-HeroesCon post, in that the absence of money as a prime motivating factor had a kind of calming effect, although I bet I'm misremembering that.

*****

photos used with permission of Mr. Harbin

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: One Crazy Summer Strips

image

I wanted to get a link to Dustin Harbin's summer-fixated autobio strips up so that I can refer to it in a forthcoming newsmaker interview
 
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jack Newcombe Joins Creators

Jack Newcombe will join father Richard Newcombe's Creators Syndicate as executive vice president and general manager, it was announced through Editor and Publisher on Tuesday. Newcombe recently received an MBA from Stanford and spent time between school years working for Wikia.
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Comics At Arthur Magazine

image

more from the same source that provided last week's link to Moon Boots

* Drugs by Throne Boogie
* French cartoonist Kerozen
* Glomp X: three-dimensional comics from Finland.
* King Top by Panayiotis Terzis
* Love to Live, Kevin Hooyman
* new comics by Ms. Aidan Koch (above)
* Pete Toms' Pink Tombs wowzo comix serial
* Roots to Fruits comix by APAK
* Tortoise by Tetsunori Tawaraya
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 12:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Charles Guthrie

image
 
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 200 From Dick Tracy

image
 
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Terror Comics

image

that's one hell of a fish
 
posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Chris Butcher Travels To Japan 01

image

I'm going to link to as many of these as possible; I found the retailer/blogger's last trip series to be invaluable in terms of insight as to what the comics/customer interface in Japan looks like
 
posted 12:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to the Kochmans.

* you should want to take a comics class from Frank Santoro. I want to, but you should really want to.

imageAndrew Wheeler talks about the Longbox digital effort in terms of how it might serve certain appetites for comics consumption. I'm not sure I have the same experience he does. For instance, my personal interaction with mainstream comics is pretty sweet right now. I don't read them when they come out, I pay some slight attention to what rises to the top in terms of people liking whatever series or run, that series or run ends, and then maybe six months after the fact I start buying those comics in big chunks in local retailers' dollar boxes and/or through an on-line retailer in order to get whatever it is that I really want over the free shipping price point. In other words, I already get 95 percent of everything I want from those companies for $1 an issue. That's not to say a lot of people share my approach, but it may be that there are a lot of different approaches out there. I'm going to have to think about this a whole lot before I have a coherent opinion to share, but I suspect we're going to learn a whole lot about how people relate to comics, how it's assumed they relate to comics, and how they'd like to relate to comics as digital solutions begin to muscle in.

* related: I have yet to read this long analysis at iFanboy, but there it is.

* so there's an Eisner Awards iPhone app that will tell you about the Eisner Award nominees. Because it will update after the Awards with winners, it's also, I'm guessing, something for people that want to know the results of the Eisners before noon on Saturday or whenever the sites update that don't want to track it down on Twitter or whatever. It wasn't so long ago that people found out about this stuff a week after the fact, or if you were a Journal-only reader, two and a half months after the fact. I'm not sure instantaneous knowledge of comics stuff is an absolute necessity, or even adds all that much to the overall experience, but it's not like things are going to change back if I get all Abe Simpson about it.

* comic-cons and sex: two great tastes that taste great... wait, no, those things taste awful together.

* the writer Kristy Valenti comments on the ways that going to CCI is like going to High School. I was drunker in high school and had more discretionary income, but everyone's experience is different.

* finally, a bit of not comics: does the lack of a print newspaper on a specific day really mean that an on-line newspaper has to bridge the gap between the two days? This seems to me a fairly crazy way to look at it. Would anyone really want a daily paper that switches media as opposed to a not-daily newspaper that really kicks ass at its chosen mission?
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Michael Dooley!

image
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Russ Maheras!

image
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Alan Zelenetz!

image
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Fu Manchu
Ron Randall Draws Wolverine
What's The Last Cover That Drove You To Buy A Comic?

Exhibits/Events
Moto Hagio's Party
An Afternoon With The Searles
I'd Never Seen A Photo Of Joost Swarte Before

History
Spider-Man Is Not Correct
Captain Asks A Lot Of Questions

Industry
Win A Copy Of Remake

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: Mike Carey
Talking With Tim: Matthew Loux
IGN.com: Mark Waid, Tom Brevoort

Not Comics
The Marian Churchland Deal

Publishing
BLOC: Previewed
Read 3 Agents Of Atlas Stories Free
Sentences That Will Only Ever Appear In The Universe Once

Reviews
Brian Hibbs: Various
Fire Fraction and Land
John Mitchell: Nat Turner
Andrew Wheeler: Various
Cory Doctorow: Scott Pilgrim
Leroy Douresseaux: Naruto Vol. 40
Zak Edwards: A Red Mass For Mars #3
Jeff VanderMeer: Nocturnal Conspiracies
Not A Review Of Goats: Infinite Typewriters
Richard Bruton: Cla$$ War Series One Collected Edition
Leroy Douresseaux: takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil Vol. 1
 

 
June 23, 2009


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

image

*****

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 spin them around in my chair and give them a full shampoo and styling.

*****

JAN092559 ULTIMATES BY MARK MILLAR & BRYAN HITCH OMNIBUS HC $99.99
MAR090083 TUROK SON OF STONE ARCHIVES HC VOL 02 $49.95
Comics I would definitely buy were I independently wealthy, although they may be much further up on your personal preference chart, even in the must-have category. The first asks, "what if superheroes were more R-rated movie kind of real?" The second asks, "What would happen if Indiana met dinosaurs." These are perfectly reasonable questions in comics circles.

APR090051 USAGI YOJIMBO #121 $3.50M
According to testimony from a couple of you that read this site, the only serial-comic reason for many to go to the comic book shop.

MAR090174 ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN THE BOY WONDER TP VOL 01 $19.99
All the good "goddamn" jokes have been done. I've barely read this series so I've been looking forward to its collection.

APR090620 CEREBUS ARCHIVE #2 $3.00
APR090621 CEREBUS ARCHIVE #2 ZOMBIE & OBAMA VAR $15.00
I bet Dave Sim draws a bitchin' zombie, so I'd certainly want to see the second. Probably buy the first, though.

APR090787 GOATS INFINITE TYPEWRITERS TP VOL 01 $14.00
MAR094249 LOW MOON $24.99
The latest webcomics turned print comics, with the first being a classic series and the second an anthology built around one of the New York Times Sunday Magazine comic.

APR090953 TREASURY 20TH CENTURY MURDER HC VOL 02 FAMOUS PLAYERS $15.95
FEB090207 JLA DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 02 $29.99
Two much-loved comics makers with second volumes collecting career-defining works. And that's about it for similarities, really.

APR090595 PATSY WALKER HELLCAT TP DM ED $16.99
I thought this was funny and charming and it's entirely possible that at some point in the near future Marvel will stop doing mini-series with second- or lower-rung characters of any kind so maybe we should enjoy them now.

FEB094480 TEZUKAS BLACK JACK TP VOL 05 $16.95
Of 17. Seventeen!

MAR094041 REMAKE GN VOL 01 (MR) $12.95
FEB094018 REX LIBRIS TP VOL 02 BOOK OF MONSTERS $17.95
APR090806 PRAYER REQUESTED GN $15.95
Here's a trio of books that might slip under your radar: AdHouse Books' latest discovery, the second trade from James Turner's funny and sometimes hard to parse Rex Libris series, and the latest in D&Q's modest, sort-of art books line.

*****

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'm not sure what to say.

*****

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
UK Prison Paper Levitzes Edition With Pig In Turban; Feared Insulting System’s Muslim Population

A prison newspaper servicing facilities in the United Kingdom pulped a recent issue out of a concern that it might upset the system's Muslim population, which may make up approximately 10 percent of the total inmate population. The cartoon in question featured a pig in a turban in service of a joke about the swine flu being an Osama Bin Laden-led plot to rid the world of pork. I imagine that commentary will be split between calling the move overly politically correct and pointing out that fake cartoons relating Muhammed to a pig were a significant part of what drove initial, hostile reaction to the Danish Cartoons. Also, as I recall, the UK was one of the few places -- maybe the only place? -- where protesters made their way into the general prison population on charges related to those demonstrations.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Cartooning And Iran Unrest

image

* now that it's easier/possible to access the Reporters Sans Frontieres site, we learn that the cartoonist reportedly among the two dozen or so journalists arrested and/or imprisoned was Behzad Basho, and that he was actually taken about a week before the list was released, back on the 14th. I have to admit, I don't know who that is. There's no such cartoonist listed at Iran Cartoon, and I can't find a distinct google mention before this arrest. That's not to cast aspersions on the veracity of the report, just to point out how many cartoonists there are working over there. Also, the timing of the arrest would fit in with this person being the cartoonist at the provincial paper Velayat shut down early last week for a cartoon.

* cartoonist and on-line syndication specialist Daryl Cagle talks to Nikahang Kowsar and publishes work from Mana Neyestani (above), two of the best cartoonists from Iran. Both cartoonists had left Iran in previous years because of a clash with the government on a political issue -- Neyestani sat in Tehran's most notorious prison for a while.

* I've been looking around for American cartoonists that were able to find a second story in this mess. That's a strength that cartoonists overseas seem to display more frequently than their North American brethren -- in fact, I had a couple of e-mails from people baffled by a couple of European cartoons that commented on something more specific than "they stole the election." The two avenues for follow-ups in the States seem to be something on the role of Twitters as a communicative hub and a few that got into the political details of the American response. Tom Tommorow's, excerpted below, is probably the best of the latter.

image
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CBC: Zapiro Has Been Served A Summons In Both Jacob Zuma Lawsuits

image

This CBC story profiling the award-winning cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro and the lawsuits filed against him by current South African President Jacob Zuma contains some important from-his-perspective news, primarily that he has been served summons in both cases. This means the case is continuing to move forward despite recent overtures from the cartoonist, and although not scheduled at this time there's no reason to think it won't eventually be tried. The article also highlights Zapiro's side of the story in attractive, matter-of-fact terms: the cartoons in question -- including the famous rape of the justice system cartoon, above -- were simply strong expressions of political ideas he thinks are crucially important as the country moves forward.
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Summer 2009 Indispensable Books As Selected By The ACBD

image

As is their tradition -- or at least as I'm told is their tradition -- the French-language comics critics group L'association des Critiques de bande dessinee (ACBD) has picked 20 books for their summer reading list. I believe these are books released in French-language editions between November and June, but don't quote me on that. Included is the French-language edition of Bottomless Belly Button.

* A bord de l'etoile Matutine, Riff Reb's (Soleil: Noctambule)
* Alpha ...directions Jens Harder (Actes Sud/L'An 2)
* Animal'z, Enki Bilal (Casterman)
* Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw (Ca et la)
* Le Chant du pluvier>, Erwann Surcouf, Amandine Laprun and Joseph Behe (Delcourt (Mirages)
* Dans mes yeux, Bastien Vives (Casterman: KSTR)
* Droit du sol, Charles Masson (Casterman: Ecritures)
* L'Enfant maudit T.1: Les Tondues, Arno Monin and Laurent Galandon (Bamboo: Grand Angle)
* L'epervier T.7: La Mission, Patrice Pellerin (Soleil: Quadrants)
* L'Heure la plus sombre vient toujours avant l'aube, by Emmanuel Moynot (Futuropolis)
* Ines, Jerome d'Aviau and Loic Dauvillier (Glenat: Drugstore)
* Je mourrai pas gibier, Alfred (Delcourt: Mirages)
* Jeronimus T.2: Naufrage, Jean-Denis Pendanx and Christophe Dabitch (Futuropolis)
* Jolies tenebres, Kerascoet and Fabien Vehlmann (Dupuis)
* Lulu femme nue T.1, Etienne Davodeau (Futuropolis)
* Paracuellos, Carlos Gimenez (AUDIE: Fluide Glacial)
* Pinocchio, Winshluss (Les Requins Marteaux: Ferraille)
* Putain de guerre! T.1: 1914-1915-1916, Jacques Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney (Casterman)
* Rosalie Blum T.3: Au hazard Balthazar !, Camille Jourdy (Actes Sud)
* Spirou et Fantasio (Une aventure de... par) T.5: Le Groom vert-de-gris, Olivier Schwartz and Yann (Dupuis)

image
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Family Reacts To Racy Scene In Batman Comic In Calm, Rational Manner

A trio of you e-mailed me this link to a story in the Charlotte Observer about the Spivock family and a sequence in Batman Confidential #18; I apologize to whatever person had it where folks likely saw it first. Stripped of the normal overly-hostile reaction to having given their kids material that was inappropriate, this story actually makes DC look sort of creepy for having that kind of material in there in the first place. At least it does to me: once you take that step back, a scene like the one described really does seem like more of a racy throw-in than a mature expression of anything, like a scene in a Nickelodeon show set in a strip club. Also, because they don't insist on it, the parents look not-crazy for thinking a Batman comic might be for kids (their kids are fans of the cartoon iteration of the character). It'd be weird to function in a world where 98 percent of the animation offerings were like South Park and only a handful of shows were for kids.
 
posted 8:08 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Art Of Alex Nino

image

via
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Travis Charest Blog

image

he may have already abandoned this one; thanks, Rafael Grampa
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Anton Setola

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Tentacles Of Death

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Ben Towle’s Razorback

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* seventeen decade-old institution of higher learning Boston University is adding a religion and comics collection to its library. Go Terriers.

image* the cartoonist Laura Park will draw for you. Park is one of the cartoonist/illustrators that has likely been most hit by the contraction in the market with publications like Nickelodeon heading for the stone nap. She's also very talented, and I imagine that commissioned work from her would look swell.

* the AAEC posted something like 20 articles over the weekend. I'm sure some of them are important articles, and when I can find an extra 90 minutes to devote to a single web site, I'll let you know what's in there. I figure I shouldn't keep you from the task yourself, if you're so inclined.

* I don't usually draw attention to sales, but the recently-discounted Fantagraphics Bill Mauldin collection is an astounding book, and there are some truly heroic aspects to Mauldin's long-career including the work in this volume.

* is it wrong that my first reaction when I heard about a Penthouse article on hooking up at comics conventions was that this was going to lead to a lot of people talking about their sexual experiences at cons and I'd rather set my forearms on fire than read that kind of thing?

* here's an interesting article describing feedback to a Don Wright cartoon used by one of his syndication clients. One of the little-discussed reasons why editorial cartooning is in decline is because as a culture we are less able to process strong opinion-making, to the extent that some folks don't even want to see it in their papers, let alone use it to kick-start dialogue.

* finally, I'm always happy when people profile Ed Piskor -- he's an interesting young cartoonist -- and I'm doubly happy when it's Tony Norman doing the profiling. He was a really nice guy that kind of stepped away from writing about comics right when I came on board at The Comics Journal in the mid-1990s.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Zoran Janjetov!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 29th Birthday, Becky Cloonan!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Everybody Draw Wolverine

History
All Of Them
Remembering Destroy!!
Word Balloon-Loaded Cover
Remembering: The New Frontier
Around The Block With Dunc and Loo

Industry
Things Are Tough All Over

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: David Liss
Newsarama: Jason Aaron
Newsarama: Gregg Schiegel

Not Comics
Newspaper Industry-Wide Effort To Look Out Of Touch

Publishing
TCJ Previewed
What Chris Butcher Is Reading

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Nina Stone: Herogasm #2
Richard Burton: Far Arden
Greg McElhatton: Chew #1
Don MacPherson: Project H
Tim Callahan: Asterios Polyp
Johanna Draper Carlson: Tails
Paul O'Brien: Wolverine #73-74
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Richard Bruton: Batman and Robin #1
David P. Welsh: Ikigami: The Ultimate List
Johanna Draper Carlson: Detroit Metal City Vol. 1
 

 
June 22, 2009


Cartoonist Among Arrested In Iran

According to an Associated Press report, a cartoonist was among 23 journalists, bloggers and similar persons listed by Reportres Sans Frontieres as having been arrested in Iran over the weekend. The cartoonist was not named in wire reports and it's been almost impossible to get on the RSF English- or French-language web sites, one would guess given the current high level of international interest in the story. It was reported early last week that a cartoon insulting to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad run in the newspaper Velayat from the Qazvin provice caused that publication's offices to be closed, although little in the way details were reported and I didn't even see independent confirmation.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Cartoonigami

image

Craig Thompson says goodbye to Nickelodeon by reprinting one of the many lovely cartoons he did for the publication.
 
posted 8:28 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Look Back At The Convention Weekend Just Past In Philadelphia, Charlotte

The first big weekend of summer convention season saw two shows that fairly straddle the line between regional (where they draw attendees) and national (overall notoriety professional guest list) prominence: HeroesCon in Charlotte, and Wizard World Philadelphia.

image* Mike Manley's yearly obliteration of the Philadelphia show is a tough read this time around but, as always, it's an entertaining one. Manley doesn't just suggest that a lack of big-name exhibitors, what seems to him declining attendance and a deflated air indicate a reeling convention, he pretty much throws it out there that comics itself is in danger of dying from the same disease, that the Wizard World show is an organ failing due to a cancer that may kill the entire body.

* in lieu of repeating myself, I'll stand behind this site's early Sunday wrap-up of buzz and initial stories from the floor. Expect to hear a bit more from the Longbox digital comics service launch as something that came out of HeroesCon; the Steven Hoveke being barred from WWP story will also probably get a more thorough workout from someone -- it just sounds to me like one of those things that happens when a company collapses and people with an intimate working knowledge of one another start to have resentments and agendas that clash in public.

* a sleeper story from this weekend may be the discussion of Owly's debut on the Kindle -- that one took place in Charlotte.

* this post by Heidi MacDonald indicates that DC was promoting its Wednesday Comics project at the WWP show. That's a compelling publishing news story, as DC goes off-format in a way that its primary market has a hard time digesting. The DC comics crowd has been trained through years of interconnected titles and crossovers to maximize their interface with the DC Universe, which a special format makes difficult. Within earshot of a pretty standard build-up focused on format offerings lopes along a discussion of whether or not this material will be made available in a more collectible format and when.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More Staff Departures From Wizard?

From the time I got word of the first one of these to the time I was able to post it on this site, I received word of a second personnel change at the comic-book based entertainment company:

* this first one's less clear than usual: I'm told that Kate Napolitano, Managing Editor of ToyFare, may have given her notice on Friday, with a date of departure as yet unknown. Napolitano is a more recent hire -- I believe 2008 -- and may have worked in other positions higher up the chain as staff needs required between formal stints at ToyFare.

* the same sources are reporting this morning that designer Jairo Leon was fired on Sunday evening. Former Wizard employee Steve Hoveke, who was barred from Wizard's Philadelphia show on Saturday morning, speculates. Someone wrote in that Leon is the company's last in-house designer, which sounds potentially dire.

 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Steve Lieber/Sara Ryan Household Robbed; Clicking On Picture Below Will Make Them Feel Better

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Alt-Comix Twitter IDs

Sean T. Collins does something that I was going to have to do by the end of the year for the Resources section of this site: lists a bunch of alt-comics professionals' twitter accounts. You should also add Collins' -- @theseantcollins -- and this site's: @comicsreporter. I'm sure there are dozens more. I won't list them here, but you can comment and post yours on the linked-to thread.

Beyond information gathering, I have no idea what I'm going to do with mine. I'm definitely in the "no one cares when I get on a plane" camp, which is convenient because I don't go anywhere, and when I do I don't have anything with me that might provide me access to the service. I'm also pretty locked into a limited amount of time during the day to think about comics, which kind of runs against what Twitter seems to do really well. I'm probably going to do short reviews, major story links and look-at-thats, but if anyone has an idea what I should be doing instead or in addition .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I could use your help.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Steve Oliff Riff

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Pair Of Quick Publishing Notes

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com confirms word that BOOM! has acquired the Disney duck license, which is comics historical terms is sort of like getting "Bochco Cop Shows" or "James Burrows Directed And Developed Sitcoms" for your network.

* this site's long-time fellow-traveler in the covering-comics world and a specialist when it comes to covering the high-end mainstream and indy-genre aspects of the market, Tripwire, has finally been rejected outright for distribution to the direct market accounts served by Diamond. It's an interesting bit of news because you can see it as an inability of Diamond and its account to make use of a high-end, glossy magazine about comics the kind of which would have flipped many of our lids as 1980s kids, or you can see it as a sign that magazines just don't work in the current market, and both options are depressing. You can find out how to get the magazine directly through information provided in the linked-to posting.
 
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Torpedo Pirates

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Horror House Stories

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: All About My Mother’s Day

image

these kill
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: 10 Best/Worst Comics Dads

image

Green Lantern is apparently chairman of the Justice League of Unsupportive Assholes
 
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the great Chester Brown's very fine comics work Louis Riel made the Toronto Star's top ten books of the decade. The Toronto Star has made this site's "publications who do their lists too damn early" list.

* at the risk of sounding like an old man, comments like this can't be all that great a sign for the general health of comics buying. Funny, though.

image* there have almost certainly been interviews with Chris Wright of Inkweed before now, but I can't remember one. This one at a site called Exquisite Things is long and involved and would be a nice complement to any that exist, I'm sure.

* not comics: as of now, I'm officially unable to tell if newspaper pundits are completely clueless or the industry they serve is just that far behind the times. With all the focus on on-line solutions, a significant consideration of voluntary is just now happening, or at least is a new enough subject so that people can write about it? How is that possible?

* this is a nice story about John Broome.

* the infrequent blogger Paul Karasik provides comics-related tips on reading a great artist's work in a beautiful cathedral.

* the prominent retailer Brian Hibbs analyzes the recent Marvel single-issue promotion of note.

* finally, the very funny Shaenon Garrity describes the very not-funny state of the modern comics message board. She notes that at one point a few years back I was apparently writing about Aaron Sorkin shows on one of Warren Ellis' message boards, which is further proof that for several months mid-decade my usual dark cloak of depression became a full-bore wackadoo three-piece suit.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, Kevin Fagan!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Eric Reynolds!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks
On Black And White Printing
Tom Daly Makes A Cartoon Strip

Industry
Dan Vado Is Watching The Watchers

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Joan Hilty
CBR: James Robinson
Fox Business: Tom Wilson
Newsarama: Brandon Jerwa
Newsarama: Rick Remender
Broken Frontier: Steve Swaffel
Newsarama: Marc Guggenheim

Not Comics
I Am Old Episode #345
Ray Bradbury Fights For Local Library
John Hodgman Makes Sudden Run At Geek Emperorship

Publishing
Everyone Still Loves Bone

Reviews
Geoff Grogan: George Sprott
Hervé St-Louis: The Trial Of Thor
Leroy Douresseaux: Naruto Vol. 41
Hervé St-Louis: Mighty Avengers #26
Hervé St-Louis: Uncanny X-Men #511
Hervé St-Louis: Captain America #600
Hervé St-Louis: Invincible Iron Man #14
Greg McElhatton: Mouse Guard: Winter 1152
Johanna Draper Carlson: Flower Of Life Vol. 4
Hervé St-Louis: Green Arrow Vs. Black Canary
Michael H. Price: You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!
 

 
June 21, 2009


CR Sunday Interview: Kevin Cannon

image

*****

imageI first became aware of Kevin Cannon when he showed up in initial publicity as a member of the Big Time Attic studio alongside Shad Petosky and Zander Cannon. He first caught my attention as a solo artist when I found a collection of his Johnny Cavalier strips and began to track his contributions to 24 Hour Comics Day.

This series of exercises eventually led Cannon to attempt a graphic novel through a series of monthly 24-Hour Comic experiments -- the 288-Hour Comic. This almost worked in terms of his following the rules, and it more than worked in terms of the results. That comic became Far Arden, collected this month by Top Shelf Comics into a hardcover edition. Far Arden is an arctic sea adventure where every single person involved seems to have the emotional make-up of a tipsy, spiritually fragile graduate student. Since this also describes most of the people in my circle of friends, I found Far Arden affecting as well as being impressive for its lunatic narrative flow and the unbelievably well-crafted, overall look to the thing. Cannon has also contributed to several of the splashier Big Time Attic projects and has done a number of notable, super-sized illustrations for the Minneapolis area alt-weeklies. I might be convinced by the right malevolent spirit to trade my past for his future, and I like my past. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: As I understand it, you didn't think about doing comics until the opportunity to do some came your way in college. Is that true? Do you think the process was different for you in making your first comics than for someone who maybe always wanted to do them? Have you since developed an interest in the art form and other practitioners of same beyond making your own TMNT comics once upon a time? Did you connect back to that early exposure? Do you think your aesthetic is different than other cartoonists as a result?

KEVIN CANNON: I grew up reading newspaper strips and for a long time I thought that's the career path I wanted to take. But as soon as I started researching what that would take -- i.e. the long-shot odds of getting published, the lengthy contracts, the stultifying editorial oversight -- I lost the drive. I continued reading the dailies every morning, because they were there on the kitchen table, but after age 15 or 16 I no longer thought that being a cartoonist was in the cards. My heroes then were Kafka and Kerouac, so through most of high school I thought I would be a novelist. [laughs] I even wrote a novel back then -- imagine a very sappy, poorly written The Road. I punched that thing out a few pages a night for about a year, so I guess that experience was a precursor to Far Arden, although I haven't made that connection until just now.

My exposure to comic books and graphic novels seems bizarre when I look back on it. I consumed every bit of TMNT I could get my hands on, but for some reason never felt the need to pick up other mainstream titles. I read a lot of MAD, and my grandma had a stack of old '50s romance comics that I leafed through on holidays, but that was it. I think I'm drawn to unique art styles, the way you you look for music that has a unique sound. Maybe that's what kept me away from mainstream comics for so long. As an outsider looking at superhero comics -- and manga, too -- it looks like all the artists are desperately trying to draw exactly the same style. I don't understand that way of thinking.

Anyway, so in college I started drawing a weekly strip called Johnny Cavalier for the school paper -- I had gone in to the office looking for a job as an illustrator, but they said they needed a cartoonist, so that's how that started. It wasn't until midway through my college career after I discovered Hate and Eightball that I realized that this is where I was taking Johnny Cavalier and that this is what I wanted to do professionally. However, I'm glad I had a grounding in the dailies, because I think that gave me a good sense of timing, and how to deliver a solid punchline.

image
image
image

SPURGEON: A theme that seems to dominate your young career is how much you've benefited from tight feedback loops. I believe you're a private school kid, your Grinnell work would have been mostly read by people in your same general circumstance, and now you have a tight core of fans and fellow artists that follow what you do now. Is there something that appeals to you about this kind of attention as opposed to the more diffuse kind that you'd have if you'd signed a contract with United Media right out of school and were doing Johnny Cavalier in 200 papers and getting back six e-mails a year? Has feedback been generally important to you as a way to develop?

CANNON: Yeah, that's so true, I've always had really small, tight feedback loops. On any day of the week I'd rather have honest, harsh criticism from a few people whose opinions I care about than get a hundred gushing emails from complete strangers. In college I had a group of friends who read my weekly strips and would give me feedback. A lot of times it was harsh, maybe overly critical, but I matured a lot based on their reactions. Plus, when they laughed at a joke you know they meant it, and that was incredibly satisfying.

I'm in a similar situation here at Big Time Attic. Zander gives me incredible feedback on anything I put in front of him, and this guy is one of the best comic book writers in the business.

SPURGEON: How do you feel about the Johnny Cavalier work right now? I know that for a lot of college cartoonists that can be a very intense experience because it's part of a lot of a specific period in folks' lives. What do you recall when you think of that work now?

CANNON: Some of the art is a little embarrassing to look at, but that's a pretty superficial reaction. Mostly I'm excited by how the book has touched young cartoonists. Carl Nelson (Outwise), Tim Sievert (That Salty Air), and Julia Vickerman (Yo Gabba Gabba) have all told me that the collected Johnny Cavalier strips meant a lot, or influenced them in some way. And these weren't Grinnell students, so I'm not really sure how they picked up copies of the book.

Mostly, looking at old Johnny Cavaliers makes me realize what a great learning experience they were. Zander and I talk about this a lot, that we think doing a strip for a newspaper should be required for anyone considering a career in comics. You're forced to learn about scanning, layout, reduction, etc., but the most important lesson is how to hit a deadline. We've met a lot of art school students who have no idea what a real deadline is because their professors never enforce them. These students will turn in pencils and say, "Oh, I didn't have time to do inks, but here's what I've got," and the professor is like, "Okay, that's fine, great job." Obviously, that's a gross generalization, but based on real anecdotes! With a newspaper strip, you either get the finished product in on time or you don't. There's no pat on the ass for a job half done.

image
image
image

SPURGEON: What were your other college strips like?

CANNON: There was a political cartoon called Third Party, a gag panel cartoon called Heaters, an acerbic three-panel strip called Art Guy, and a dada cartoon called absent. Most of these ran for one semester each, alongside Johnny Cavalier. But Cavalier was the anchor, and ran for all four years.

SPURGEON: The one thing I find interesting about your not being Zander Cannon's brother is that this was the basis for your contacting him, which means there was enough institutional memory at Grinnell that people would bring up Zander. Am I getting that right? Can you talk in more explicit terms how that relationship developed?

CANNON: When I was a freshman I ran into a guy named Xander (the first in many bizarre coincidences). Xander had graduated the year before, but was on campus working in the art building. He was a freshman when Zander Cannon was a senior, and it was Xander who concluded that I must be Zander's brother. I immediately read all of Zander's old strips in the school's microfilm archive, and concluded that Zander was some kind of god. So I nervously introduced myself via email. He responded, but I let the conversation die. That was freshman year.

Jump ahead to junior year and I needed a job over the summer. My mom, in her infinite wisdom, convinced me to write a letter to Zander asking if he ever had interns. So I wrote the letter, and Zander agreed. I ended up spending four hours a day in his little Minneapolis studio, helping out on Alan Moore's Smax, which Zander was just starting to illustrate. In all honesty, we didn't get a lot done. Zander was getting ready for his wedding that August, and we were constantly (and fortunately) distracted by all the other cartoonists in that building. Sam Hiti, Adam Wirtzfeld, and Shad Petosky worked one door over, and King Mini shared Zander's space. Seeing all of their art in progress and hearing their thoughts on process and the comics industry was pretty priceless.

image

SPURGEON: You used to do really detailed pencil portraiture, which is interesting to me in that it seems an enterprise completely divorced from the kind of symbolism and simplification I think of when I think of communicating in comics form. Does that kind of art -- or even your painting, you studied painting -- influence your cartooning in a way that might not be apparent to someone taking that work at face value?

CANNON: The portraiture thing happened because at that time (high school years) I believed in objective value in art, specifically that the more realistic something looks, the better it is, and the more praise should be heaped upon the artist. My neighbors saw that I was doing realistic pencil drawings for school, and were more than willing to part with a few hundred bucks for me to draw pictures of their kids. It was hard to say no to that, and for a long time I enjoyed it. But college killed my "representational art = good art" ideal, specifically via two art classes. The first class surveyed three hundred or so years of American art from the hyper-realistic stuff back in the day to post-modernism and beyond. I cheered for representationalism at the beginning of the class, but that part of me was slowly beaten down -- not by force (the class had no agenda, per se), but by being exposed to modern art, piece by piece.

Senior year I was in a seminar on German Expressionism, and those pieces, especially the woodcuts, blew me away with their wild figures. Most of these artists were basically non-sequential cartoonists. The life and energy and complete not-giving-a-shit about realistic human proportions are the foundation of all my comics work today. If I'm the product of my influences, it's Pete Bagge meets Lyonel Fieninger, or R. Crumb meets Ernst Kirchner. At least, that's what I'm striving for!

image

SPURGEON: I apologize for not knowing this stuff, and I think it might be more fun for me to just ask rather than try to nail down the information before doing so. You and Zander and Shad Petosky created Big Time Attic earlier this decade. I was wondering if you could talk about that experience in broader terms, because it's the kind of business enterprise a lot of folks consider doing. First of all, is it still around? I always get a little bit confused with you guys. What's its status? How has it developed in ways that were maybe different than your original conception? You were such a young artist that it seemed to me odd that you would join this kind of group because your ambitions might settle anywhere -- has that been a good structure for you in terms of development?

CANNON: Big Time Attic still exists, but it has molted several times. Let me lay down the history, as I remember it. So back in the summer of 2001 I was Zander's intern, and Shad worked next door, so we hung out a lot. After that summer Zander moved to Japan, Shad became a freelance web developer and Flash guru, and I finished school and tried to keep doing portraiture. Jump to summer '04: Zander was moving back to Minneapolis from Japan and he and Shad and I were looking to join forces, because we thought that if we pooled our resources and diverse talents, that we could be more successful than we were as three lone freelancers. Actually, there were seven or eight cartoonists and artists talking about forming a group, but Shad, Zander and I were the only ones who gelled. I was incredibly young and naive, but that turned out to be great for me because I learned from Shad and Zander's experience. And what they got from me was a workhorse, someone who would stay late and make sure the jobs got done.

Our dream -- my dream -- was for Big Time Attic to be a comic book studio, to try and put out a book a year and eventually make a living off royalties. Shad, I think, wanted something bigger from the beginning, and that created a little tension. I mean, Shad had always envisioned having employees, and that was a big shocker to me and Zander. It was like a weird three-way marriage or something. Shad was the visionary, and Zander and I were the conservative voices of reason. So as far as I see it, that balance meant that we grew, but not too wildly. Thanks to Shad's connections in the new media realm, we started getting animation jobs for Target and Cartoon Network, and at one point we had maybe a dozen employees. Eventually Big Time Attic was a lopsided company with no unified direction: on one side, Zander and me drawing comics, and on the other side, Shad and the animation department doing animation and new media stuff.

So in 2007 Big Time Attic split into two separate companies: the animation department became Puny Entertainment, and Big Time Attic shrank back down to me and Zander doing comics. We separated, but it wasn't a divorce -- it was more like a cell splitting in two. Puny -- headed up by Shad and King Mini -- is now wildly successful. They're doing most of the animation for Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba. And Zander and I are finally reaching our "one graphic novel a year" output goal, with publishers like Hill & Wang and Simon & Schuster, so we're pretty happy.

Whew. And that's not even the long version of the story, but hopefully that clears up what Big Time Attic is. If someone came up to me on the street and said, "My friends and I want to start a studio like BTA, should we do it?" I'm not sure what my answer would be. It was great for me, as a young artist with no experience. But it was only great because Zander and Shad knew what the hell they were doing, and already had a solid client list. And even then, we barely made it. I'm still paying off credit cards from the first few years of BTA. So I guess my answer would be yes, do it, but be flexible, be long-sighted, and get ready to be poor.

SPURGEON: I was wondering if you could talk about some of the non-glamorous jobs you've done since joining up with those guys, say some of the background drawing you've done, or maybe some of the teamwork projects... has any of that work been particularly instructive, or is it just applying the lessons of craft, a kind of day job?

CANNON: When we started Big Time Attic, we took every single job that came our way. It was nuts. Even if we had absolutely no idea how to do a job, we'd take it. That included designing a pizza restaurant, character animation, professional photography touch-ups, digital illustration, book design... it goes on. But every time we got a job, we researched the hell out of how to do it, hired people to help if needed, and got the job done.

imageOur classic example of jumping in headfirst was when we took on a job to design a family fun center called "Action City." The contractors for the park wanted to hire us because we, as cartoonists, would give the place a fun, original feel. These contractors had spent years driving around the country and researching similar parks, and knew that they wanted theirs to stand out from the pre-made murals and generic designs that you can buy off the shelf. So we were in on this project from the blueprint stage, designing everything from themed birthday rooms to a 30-foot fiberglass back-lit volcano climbing wall. Shad and I even lived on site for three weeks before the opening. I got up at 5am every morning to guide construction crews and muralists, and Shad was on site late every night working on identity, marketing, the computer systems, etc. etc.

I was burnt out after that, but mostly I missed drawing comics, so as soon I got home I drew a story called "Our Endangered Cartoonists" just to help me come down from the nervous high I'd been on for three weeks in Action City.

SPURGEON: What was the extent of your contribution on the GT Labs book Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards? That was a fascinating book in many ways that I thought never quite coalesced as sharply as some of Jim's other works. How you do feel about that book?

CANNON: Yeah, the reaction to Bone Sharps has been less positive than we'd hoped. Part of that may be that Jim tried something new, weaving more narrative among the facts than in his previous books. So in that sense maybe it was riskier. I love it, but obviously I'm a bit biased! My role on that book was lettering and backgrounds, and I also did some of the layouts and acted as project manager.

image

SPURGEON: You've spoken in positive fashion about Jim Ottaviani and GT Labs. What is it that you think is admirable about Jim's enterprise, his approach to comics? What appeals to you about what he does?

CANNON: During the first few years after college I remember feeling like I was "getting dumber." My brain was atrophying. For most of our young adult lives, we're forced to read the greatest books in the Western canon, forced to write papers that sharpen our critical thinking and communication skills, and forced to listen to and talk to people with interesting, divergent viewpoints. And then -- boom -- you're 22 and you get your diploma and you're on your own in regards to what you feed your mind. I didn't feed mine very well, and I felt emptier and emptier because of it, although I couldn't pin down the cause at the time.

Then Jim Ottaviani comes along with the script for Bone Sharps, and all of a sudden I'm at the library again, digging up books on paleontology and dinosaurs. I'm being a little over-dramatic, but having an excuse to learn again was really exciting. The same thing happened a few days ago, walking to the library to pick up some books on evolution for a graphic novel Zander and I are doing with Jay Hosler. And it's not as though I can't read weighty books in my free time, but it's great to be able to marry those books with comics ... and get paid for it, to boot.

So getting back to Jim, he's got the best business model: he finds something he likes -- Niels Bohr, paleontology, the moon race -- and makes a graphic novel out of it. And Jim has a day job, so there's no temptation to muck with the integrity of the work just to make it sell better. If that were the case, Bone Sharps would've had a lot more babes in it.

image

SPURGEON: You're going to do this a bunch of times as the book's out, but can you describe in specific terms how Far Arden went from that initial 24-Hour comic to this multiple 24-Hour comic graphic novel. Because that just seems insane to me. Were the stunt aspects -- the time limit, for instance -- rigidly adhered to?

CANNON: The whole thing started as a dare from my friend Steve Stwalley. We and most of the members of the Minneapolis Cartoonist Conspiracy have been doing 24 Hour Comics Day since 2004. Shanks actually made his comics debut during the 2005 event, in a story called "Exit Strategy," and that story wound up in Nat Gertler's "24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2005" anthology. Anyway, after the 2006 event was over, Steve dared me to do one 24-hour marathon a month for a whole year, with each month's output being a chapter in a 288-page graphic novel.

The first four chapters of Far Arden were legitimate 24-hour marathons, minus being surrounded by people. It was pretty lonely. After the fourth event my body felt ragged and my sleep schedule was messed up and was impacting my day job, so I gave up the marathons in favor of smaller, shorter spurts. So each page was still taking about an hour, and until the very end I was still producing a chapter a month. Now I think I can only handle one 24-hour event a year.

After chapter seven was finished I bundled up those chapters and mailed them to Chris Staros at Top Shelf. Tim Sievert was working on That Salty Air in a little corner of the Big Time Attic studio and I guess that made me eager for my own Top Shelf book. Chris called me up a little while later to tell me that he was passing on Far Arden, but we had a really good chat and I don't have a ton of experience with unsolicited manuscripts, but I don't imagine that a lot of publishers would have called like that. He gave me really good notes about what wasn't working for him, and I think those notes were always in the back of my head as I wrote the final eight chapters. About a year later, not wanting to give up on Top Shelf, I sent the finished Far Arden to both Chris and Brett [Warnock], and to my surprise they picked it up.

image

SPURGEON: Was it hard for you at all to find a level at which you could create in such a short time span with as much detail as you bring to the project? Because there were moments in which you drew an entire boat or otherwise provided a more elaborate illustration where I and likely many others felt the same impulse that led Marge Simpson to yell at Homer during the trucker episode, "Don't fill up on bread!" Did you adjust your approach at any point during the initial project or project entire?

CANNON: But bread is great! The trick is to do an easy page in 40 minutes, so you have 80 minutes to do your big detailed splash page. Actually, it's even more complicated than that, because you've got to factor in restroom breaks, eating, quick jogs, socializing... so each page really takes 40-50 minutes, not 60. But yeah, it took a few years to develop a style that I knew I could pull off in an hour and still look decent. If you compare a page from Far Arden to a page from "Exit Strategy," you can easily see the rough beginnings. It's not that there are fewer lines on the page in Far Arden, it's that the lines are more confident because I knew how much I could get away with.

SPURGEON: When did it begin to coalesce for you in terms of a project that you thought might work as one massive comic book? Was that different than a project you might work on all the time for a shorter period of time, or is that sense of something coming together the same?

CANNON: I knew the scope from the get-go. Shanks' last line in Chapter 1 is me basically telling my future self what I need to try and establish and ultimately wrap up over the next eleven chapters. Usually when I write a comic I'll get a germ of an idea, and that snowball will either melt immediately or turn into an avalanche. There's not a lot of middle ground. If it's an avalanche idea I'll have to sit down and write a full script immediately. With a short comic, like my Chapter 99 one-pagers, it's easy to get the spark and then sit down and produce a finished comic in the same day. But it's obviously tougher with longer projects. I have notebooks full of plot points and character sketches for various graphic novels that are hard to execute because I usually only have a free hour or two a day, and it's difficult to find your bearings when there are tons of notes to sift through. So the chapter-a-month marathon style of Far Arden was nice because it gave me a framework in which to organize my thoughts. Plus it was maybe a little like writing for television in that once a chapter was done and "aired" there was no going back to fix things. With my longer projects there's a tendency to change a thing at the end of the script, and then need to sift through all the earlier notes to set up that change better. I suppose everyone goes through that.

image

SPURGEON: One of the fun flourishes is your use of elaborate sound-effects. If I had to hazard a guess, I would suppose that this a visual shorthand you latched onto, but were there other influences? Do you have a favorite from the ones you used?

CANNON: I'm sure they were inspired in some way by the old Batman TV show. I like how the sound effects in that show are a little cheeky, a little ridiculous. They lighten the mood and hopefully break the fourth wall a little bit.

I also latched onto them because they're incredibly utilitarian. In Far Arden, David's "THROW UP A LITTLE IN MOUTH" sound effect really cuts right to the core of what he's feeling and doing, and it only took one panel to accomplish. If I used a normal sound effect like "HRMPH" I suppose some people might deduce that David had thrown up a little in his mouth. But how do we know he hasn't thrown up a lot in his mouth? Or what if he has merely belched, without any throw-up at all? One solution would be for the character to have the "HRMPH" sound effect, and then to tell another character, "I've just thrown up a little in my mouth." But given the fact that he's got to spit out the throw-up first before he can attempt to say anything, we're looking at three, four panels just for that one gag. That's just wasteful.

imageSPURGEON: You've spoken how Far Arden kind of scratches an itch for you both in terms of its specific subject of arctic exploration and a more general sense of being in the outdoors that's stuck with you since you were a kid. Can you give an example of a specific story element that draws on that more personal sense? Were both of those things explicit influences, or were they things that you see now that the work is done? In general, is there anything in there that you're surprised reveals itself in the comic?

CANNON: I think my interest in the arctic can be traced back to a few separate childhood experiences. One is that I grew up in Minnesota, which meant long winters spent skiing and tracking animals in the woods behind my dad's house. So the memories of brutally cold winds and frozen boogers are fond ones. Also, I spent a lot of my summer vacations on a small island off the coast of Connecticut. The island was in a chain of maybe thirty other inhabited islands, and each island had their own character and bizarre histories (one involved the pirate Captain Kidd and another involved the circus performer Tom Thumb). So when I was in college and becoming really interested in polar history, I spent a lot of time looking at the strange islands of the Canadian High Arctic and imagining that each of them had their own bizarre personalities, too.

Another big influence was Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild which I read at age 16. I guess someone could make a case that Army Shanks is really Chris McCandless, had he survived and was living in an abandoned whaling station instead of an abandoned bus.

As far as a surprise reveal, I think that would be the character of Anger -- the half man, half beast. He was really just a throwaway character drawn into the first few pages. In fact, he was such a throwaway character that all we see of him initially is his big, shackled forearms. But he kept popping up later, probably because I identified with his vague "raised in the wild" history. His friendship with Alistair was a surprise, too. Alistair worships him, to the point where Alistair's brain chooses Anger as the one person he wants to walk into the unknown with. Without getting too Psych 101, I think that maybe Anger represents the nature/urban dualism I experienced growing up, and Anger's flight to Vancouver to be a movie star -- and his ultimate demise -- mirrors how I've completely lost touch with nature as an adult.

SPURGEON: Given the comic's final outcome, I think it's also fair to say that there are critical elements in it, too: everything from a distrust of blindly following dreams of the kind one has in school to people being generally disappointing to a very specific conception of Eden myths. Were you aware of this critical vein in Far Arden when you were doing it? Is there any element of it you'd be willing to unpack a bit and talk about what you were trying to do?

CANNON: I don't want the take-away message from Far Arden to be "don't follow your dreams." We all have ridiculous dreams that we follow, and I'd be a hypocrite to criticize that. I think the criticism is aimed at the means we take to achieve those ends. The backstabbing and the trampling over one another really amount to nothing. And the rewards, if and when we receive them, can never live up to our expectations.

That being said, there was never any specific goal in my head to lay down a critical vein throughout the book. That just came out naturally. Maybe the one pre-meditated idea was that I wanted the indifferent and harsh personality of nature to shine through every aspect of these characters' lives. The few journals I've read from polar explorers often mention their awe of both Nature's extreme beauty and extreme cruelty. They paint a landscape of a place that giveth more and taketh away more than anywhere else on earth, and I wanted to try and capture a little bit of that in Shanks' world.

SPURGEON: The sheer brutality evident in your conclusion seems like a whole thing in and unto itself. Were you aware that's where you were going? How might you ask the reader to consider this super-severe, shattering outcome in light of what's gone before?

CANNON: Actually, the ending was the only thing I knew about from the beginning. All the other plotlines and characters -- except Shanks and Hafley -- were made up as I went. I suppose that, knowing the ultimate outcome, I built up readers' expectations along the way so that the ending would be that much more shocking -- a bit of emotional pornography, I guess. But in another sense, I actually don't think that the ending is that harsh, if you consider the truly wonderful things the characters go through leading up to that point.

You're right, though, the ending will probably bother anyone who's a sentimentalist. It's no Meg Ryan movie. Let's be clear, I wrote the book for me, and I'm a person who doesn't like a lot of magic or fantasy. I like things to confine to reality, at least reality as we know it or can imagine it.

image

SPURGEON: You seem to be fond of your main character, at least enough so you've considered doing other works with him. One thing a couple of people mentioned to me upon reading Far Arden is that Armitage Shanks seemed a tiny bit slippery, that a sense of him was out of their grasp. What is it that appeals about him to you, do you think?

CANNON: Shanks is slippery because I haven't quite figured him out myself. Part of the fun of the book was creating Shanks' habits and back story as I went along.

I think what appeals to me about Shanks is that he's a sort of nightmarish extrapolation of myself -- someone who excelled during his school years but somehow got off track and ends up living alone in a whaling station looking at old Polaroids, reminiscing about the people he's hurt or given up on along the way. So in that sense, Far Arden is a kind of autobiography of the future, a tale of how not to spend the next 20 years of my life.

image

SPURGEON: Can you talk a bit about some of the insanely detailed single-image comics you've done for City Pages? I think there was more than one. I really liked the one I saw. That seems an entirely different enterprise. Is there something you looked at as a model? How hard is it to maintain an overall visual impression given the detail and even clarity between those details?

CANNON: You probably saw the "Rock Atlas" one, which is a big two page spread showing a lot of rock clubs around Minneapolis, but surrounded by lots of little details. I guess I like the map quality of it. I think I'd be a cartographer if I'd been born a hundred years ago.

The thing those City Pages illustrations have over regular narrative comics is that you can enter at any point, stay as long as you like, and always find something new when you return. Those illustrations are just big Easter egg fields. I love Easter eggs. I try to throw in as many Easter eggs as possible, and that's especially true in Far Arden -- if people are going to drop twenty bucks on a book I think they should be able to read it a few times and find something new each time.

image

SPURGEON: I'm terrible at that kind of thing -- can you give me one "Easter egg" example from Far Arden?

CANNON: Toward the end of the book, Fortuna tells Shanks that she's "going outside now and may be some time." These are the famous last words of Captain Lawrence Oates, who sacrificed his life for the good of the failed British South Pole expedition. Fortuna doesn't kill herself like Oates did, but I wanted to give astute polar buffs a sense of dread. There are also a couple of little neuroscience Easter eggs, but I'd rather wait and see if anyone out there is nerdy enough to find them. My cousin is a geneticist and she figured out the code at the end of chapter 3 right away!

SPURGEON: What do you have planned for the immediate and not-so-immediate future project-wise?

CANNON: T-Minus: The Race to the Moon is coming out soon -- that's Zander's and my second book with Jim Ottaviani. And we're about to start illustrating Jay Hosler's Evolution: A Progress Report, which is the sequel to Mark Schultz's The Stuff of Life. I've got a few short comics in anthologies, like Ed Moorman's Ghost Comics and the upcoming nod to old-timey newspaper strips, Big Funny. Other than that I'm trying to decide on what to do for a follow-up to Far Arden, but nothing's solid yet.

*****

* Far Arden, Kevin Cannon, Top Shelf, hardcover, MAR094430 (Diamond), 9781603090360 (ISBN13), 400 pages, May 2009, $19.95

*****

* cover to the new Top Shelf hardcover version of Far Arden
* photo provided by Kevin Cannon
* three different pieces of art from the Johnny Cavalier strip
* three different pieces of art from art guy
* from Kevin Cannon's sketchbook
* recent magazine strip
* photo from the Action City gig stolen from one of the BTA blogs
* from the T-Minus gig for Jim Ottaviani
* section from Cannon's massive strip about the 24-Hour comic and what led to Far Arden
* one of the elaborately-done panels that made me worry for Cannon finishing the comic
* one of the sound-effect panels
* more really elaborate drawing
* some of the loose action
* a section from one of Cannon's cartoon maps
* more Far Arden
* a final, fun Far Arden page (below)

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy Father’s Day

image
 
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Philly, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #169—Con Fun

On Friday, CR were asked to "Briefly Describe Five Fondly-Remembered Convention Experiences." This is how they responded.

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Sitting on the Porch of the Hyatt after the Eisners, shooting the late-night breeze with Pete Sickman-Garner and Jeff Smith
2. Driving to Chicago, hungry to see the new comics they didn't tend to sell in Indiana
3. Trying to explain to the rental car company agent how I got so much sand in the car
4. Having a cartoonist ask me if I wanted to write an article for the Comics Journal about him beating the shit out of an unscrupulous publisher, and following him for the next 90 minutes as he stomped around like Lee Marvin trying to track him down
5. Dennis DeYoung's command performance

*****

image

Russell Lissau

1. Doing my first signing in the DC Comics booth at Wizard World Chicago (2006, I think)
2. Going to an old Chicago Comicon (before it was WWC) in the early 1990s and meeting, all at one all-star table, Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, James O'Barr and Art Adams. I have the autographed books to prove it wasn't a dream!
3. Being on my first Wizard World panel (last year)
4. The first time a fan handed me a book I wrote, that he brought from his own collection, for me to sign. (I choked up, I really did.)
5. Buying a copy of "The Shy Creatures" from David Mack for my daughter at WWC in 2007. It's since become one of our favorite picture books. Then, last summer, she got to thank David for the book in person. It was precious.

*****

image

Matthew Craig

1. A lady came up to my table at last year's Birmingham International Comics Show and presented me with a cushion, upon which she (a fine artist) had painted a picture of my dog/mascot/muse Hondle.
2. Drawing a squirrel for a punter, and not having it balled up and stuffed down my throat, like "Cheetara" shoulda done.
3. Meeting Kev F. Sutherland, comico, comic and teacher, and dancing with his socks.
4. The moment when my best mate and his family turned up at Brumacon, out of the blue and somewhat out of place. I mean, okay, his daughter wanted to meet Sonia Leong, but the rest of the family was there to say hi to me!
5. Impressing some forensic science students with my degrees in molecular biolo - oh, who am I kidding: my UV-fluorescent "CSI" pen.

*****

image

Mark Coale

1. being on a panel about continuity with Peter Sanderson and Paul Levitz at the Comics Arts Conference
2. being stuck on the wrong side of the train tracks in SD along with Jeff Smith, Mark Evanier and Sakai (among others)
3. playing on the winning side of the softball game at SPX vs Diamond
4. getting a wedding sketchbook done for friends back home that were being married about a week after the show
5. getting a Psycho Pirate sketch from Grant Morrison

*****

image

Adam Casey

1. Attending my first one, a dealer oriented show, in a hotel conference room in Raleigh in 1992 and being astounded to see all of the rare comics for the first time.
2. Visiting my first HeroesCon in 2005, and getting a fire lit under me to make comics by seeing a panel discussion with Andy Runton, Rob Ullman, J. Chris Campbell, and Ben Towle focusing on mini-comics.
3. At the same HeroesCon, discovering Brien Wayne Powell's Magnet Man mini-comics.
4. Setting up for my first convention, Fluke, in 2006 and making my first sell ever.
5. Meeting two artists from Canada, Lisa and Arletta, at SPX 2008 and on the last day of the show, we went to a campground and sat around a fire and I explained to them why I was certain Barack Obama would win the election.

*****

image

Buzz Dixon

1 - Staying awake for 72 hours straight at my first WorldCon.
2 - Chatting with Jack and Roz Kirby at San Diego, and suddenly realizing we were standing alone and unmolested in the middle of a 20-ft wide ring of Jack's adoring fans.
3 - Smoking Cohibas, drinking scotch, and talking with Steve Gerber, Flint Dille, and Frank Miller through the wee morning hours on a balcony at the U.S. Grant.
4 - Watching a Satanist pick up a Jack Chick tract at the Christian Comics Art Society table, flip through it, then recoil in horror and literally drop it like a hot potato.
5 - Laying in my bed at the El Cortez and listening to a dramatic reading from Robert Gover's "One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding" performed on the sidewalk just below my window by an erotic services worker and her personal manager.

*****

image

Richard Pachter

1. Booze run at ChicagoCon with my new best pal Frank Plowright, culminating in a wild, happy, screaming hotel-room party packed with friends, phoning and shouting at Harry Broertjes, who couldn't make it.
2. Osso Bucco with Howard Chaykin at a restaurant during MiamiCon (then Art Adams at my house for dinner the next night.)
3. Shaking hands and getting a pat on the back from Jack Kirby at San Diego ComicCon.
4. Meeting Will Eisner (and Bob Cummings!) at OrlandoCon, then dinner with Fred Hembeck and Lynn Moss.
5. Having Kyle Baker curse at me (with a smile) for asking where the end of The Shadow was at a dinky, nameless con in Ft. Lauderdale. ("Ask Helfer," he said.)

*****

image

Paul Karasik

1. 1971: Going up to my then idol, Frank Frazetta's, hotel room above the con in D.C. with con organizer, Gary Groth, flipping through original Johnny Comet dailies, watching a ball game, drinking cokes, and swiping Frazetta's hand-signatured name tag.
2. Uhm... does it get any better than that?

editor's note: Paul Karasik can do that because he's Paul Karasik; the rest of you I'll bounce right to the letters column.

*****

image

Michael Grabowski

1. Right at the point where my dad had gotten tired of driving me (45 minutes each way) to San Francisco Creation Cons, a comics convention was held at a local private college so close I could bike to it. So I did.
2. Two years in a row. (Probably '83-84.)
3. With a friend my age from my high school who actually read comics, too.
4. Leaving the con in the middle of the day to bike over to Comics & Comix in order to comparison shop.
5. Seeing a Dave Sim presentation for the first time at that same local con right at the point where he was becoming a New God in my comics pantheon.

*****

image

Brandon Graham

1. seeing the tiny coffin Drew Hayes kept his art supplies in.
2. Talking to frank Miller about country music.
3. Ross Campbell greeting Klingons in their own language.
4. Spilling coffee on Bob Shreck.
5. Trading badges with Mr Justin "Moritat" Norman and pretending to be him.

*****

image

Jamie S. Rich

1. Seeing Marc Ellerby eat pavement in the middle of the street at 3:00 in the morning outside the San Diego Marriott.
2. Marc Ellerby being carried around in a giant Dark Horse bag.
3. Having to pull Marc Ellerby off of Joëlle Jones after he tackled her in a hotel hallway for no good reason.
4. Marc Ellerby's British appetite being introduced to the concept of a "burrito."
5. At the Eisners, having Gabriel Ba confuse me with Marc Ellerby after Marc bought copies of Five off of him earlier that day.

I'm gonna miss Marc not being at San Diego this year. Especially since it means I won't be making any new appearances in Ellerbisms.

*****

image

Michael Dooley

1. The 1972 E.C. Convention in N.Y.C., the first one I ever attended: where I was awestruck at seeing Harvey all the other legends all in one place, speaking on the dais and just wandering around the halls.
2. The first San Diego Convention I attended, at the El Cortez Hotel in 1974: where I was amazed at seeing such a huge, diverse gathering of comics celebrities, all easily approachable for casual conversation in the halls as well as fascinating to hear in their formal presentations.
3. The 1987 San Diego Convention at the Convention Center: where I engaged in a stimulating conversation with Art Spiegelman which became the impetus for my lengthy eight-page analysis of "Two-Fisted Painters" in Comics Journal #128.
4. The 1990 San Diego Convention: where I enjoyed conducting my first panel discussion, with Kelly Freas.
5. The 2006 San Diego Convention: where I initiated and moderated four panel discussions to talk about recently opened "Masters of American Comics" exhibition in Los Angeles and to promote my new book. My panelists included Rick Geary, R.C. Harvey, Chip Kidd, Tim Biscup, Isabel Samaras, Shag, Mark Todd, Esther Pearl Watson, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Ivan Brunetti, Mary Fleener, Roger Langridge, Souther Salazar, Denis Kitchen, Craig Yoe, and Brian Walker, who invited me to sit at his table during the Eisner Awards.

*****

image

Michael Aushenker

Five For Friday #169 -- Briefly Describe Five Fondly-Remembered Convention Experiences

1) Meeting one of my all-time favorites, Jack Kirby, and his wife Roz, at my very first San Diego Comicon (1992), shortly before Jack passed away, and giving him a copy of my first (and just-)published comic book, BOUND & GAGGED (Caliber Press/Iconografix). This took place on the top level of the convention center, that open deck where they hold the official Comicon party. I'll never forget it.
2) Back in the 1980s, when I was about 13, befriending Denys Cowan at one of the monthly Los Angeles comic conventions at the Ambassador Hotel (a classy, elegant, Old Hollywood hotel near downtown L.A. where Robert Kennedy was assassinated; unfortunately since torn down). Cowan spent several hours letting me hang out at his table while he met fans, giving me tips about cartooning in between, and, by the end of the day, I took home an 8 1/2" x=2 011" red-ink portrait of his signature Luke Cage and Iron Fist (which I still have). This experience really made an impression on me as a budding cartoonist, as I was huge fan of the Mary Jo Duffy/Denys Cowan "Powerman/Iron Fist" run.
3) Meeting fellow cartoonist Jose Cabrera ("Crying Macho Man") during one APE Convention in San Francisco a couple of years ago. Turned out he also lives in Los Angeles and I now consider him one of my best friends.
4) Witnessing Glenn Danzig going from friendly to almost taking down some poor dealer after he showed him some bootleg Danzig stuff he was selling.
5) While working my table at one SD Comicon, out of boredom and apparently suffering from costume fatigue, I drew giant googlely eyes with a Sharpie on paper and taped them to the lid part of a cherry top red-and-white trash receptacle, along with a sign that read "Meet the robot from Disney's 'The Black Hole!" It evidently made for a pretty authentic V.I.N.C.E.N.T. People laughed, posed with it and took pictures.

*****

image

Don MacPherson

1) Drinking dirty Newfoundland rum with Randy Lander on the balcony of our hotel room, chatting about comics and life in general.
2) Apologizing to the guys at IDW for my behavior the night before at their con party.
3) Listening to Mark Alessi rant like a madman as I and other online comics journalists drank his booze and ate his food.
4) Watching Jim Mahfood create a piece of painted art in a bar and buying it when it was auctioned off.
5) Politely turning down Jeph Loeb's offer to buy two pages of Mike McKone art from his first issue of the ongoing Superman series that I'd just purchased less than an hour before from the artist.

*****

image

Alan David Doane

1. Having Thai food with FantaCo alumni Roger Green and Rocco Nigro in Saratoga Springs. I broke a tooth biting down on a peanut during that lunch, so you can bet I was having a good time if I still remember it fondly.
2. Taking it all in as as I accompanied Barry Windsor-Smith and Alex Bialy to a convention in White Plains, NY almost a decade ago. Amazed by Barry's class and composure and willingness to share his knowledge with his fans. Also got to meet Marie Severin and the Nodells at that show.
3. My five- or six-year old daughter's disappointment when we arrived at a western New York comic book show ten or more years ago and she realized there was no "show." An early parenting lesson in perception and expectation! The guy that played Major West on Lost in Space was at that one, but I remembered him more as a bad guy from General Hospital.
4. Meeting Carel Struyken at an Albany science fiction convention not long after Twin Peaks ended (he was The Giant that appeared to Agent Cooper in visions, and also played Mr. Homn on Star Trek: TNG). As I recall, he had invented some sort of primitive holodeck-type video game and was hyped about promoting it. We shook hands and mine was like a baby's compared to his. Man, he was just huge, and a sweet, gracious man.
5. Finally meeting Joe Staton at an Albany Comicon earlier this year, after being a fan of his dating back to the first issue of E-Man. He's a gifted artist whose most recent work, Femme Noir, is a lot of fun. And the drawing he did of the Archie characters made my wife very, very happy.

*****

image

Scott Dunbier

* Calling Kevin Nowlan from the stage of the Eisner Awards after I accepted his award for best artist of the year.
* Spending an evening in a Detroit hotel room with Mark Nelson and Mike Mignola after some lousy show, just telling stories and laughing our asses off.
* Garry Leach, staying with my family during the 2004 SDCC, the only one he has ever attended. He spent a lot of time in his room (given up by our the three year old son, Alex), and didn’t go out much, not even to the show. I couldn’t figure it out, even got a little pissy with him over his coming all this way and not making the most of it. When he left he surprised the Hell out of my wife and I by presenting us with a painting of Alex.
* Walking over to an art dealers booth on preview night at SDCC six or seven years ago and seeing a Wally Wood Spirit in Outer Space page hanging up -- the very one that I always hoped I would own, and now do.
* Flipping coins for comic art.

*****

image

Booksteve

1- Noting that Gil Kane looked like he was drawn by Gil Kane as he walked by me, I acidentally bumped into Will Eisner and nearly knocked him into Jack Kirby!
2- Following Stan Lee down the street for six blocks on a windy day to see if it really was a toupee!
3- Watching the world premiere of SPACE 1999 in a room with only a handful of people when a filled auditorium right next door started chanting the STAR TREK opening whilst watching an episode on the big screen. Halfway through SPACE, we all defected to TREK.
4- Watching black and white SUPERMAN TV episodes in a room for Superman's 50th birthday only to have the lights come up and Phyllis (Lois Lane) Coates and Robert (Inspector Henderson) Shayne be in the room with us!
5- Talking to Fantagraphics' Gary Groth for twenty minutes before realizing who he was and being surprised he was so much nicer than his reputation!

*****

image

Mark McMurray

1. Creation Con NYC circa 1979 -- Watching amazing images repeatedly fall from John Byrne's pencil throughout the day.
2. A.C.E. Vermont 1995 -- Man... that whole day was just great.
3. San Diego Comic Con 1998 -- Meeting John Severin, then helping him find his way to the Eisner Awards.
4. SPX 1999 -- the party after the Ignatz awards in the room with the bathtub full of beer.
5. MoCCA 2005 -- Patrick McDonnell saying (after seeing my comic Dumb Jersey White Boy), "Hey... I'm a dumb jersey white boy, too!!"

*****
*****
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Steve Niles!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Berke Breathed!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

This probably isn't what they intended, and I'm a fan, but I can't stop giving Tiger Woods the finger every time he indicates I should click the sound button.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Quiet (Mostly) Convention Weekend?

Here's a few things I'm seeing around the Internet from Wizard World Philly and Charlotte's Heroes Con, the two big conventions taking place this weekend.

* former Wizard staffer Steven Hoveke of Square 1 Press was thrown out of WWP on Saturday morning after attending a full day on Friday. It sounds like he was at the show with at least two guests, Howard Chaykin and Walt Simonson.

* here's something that snuck up on me that I should have tracked more effectively: Rantz Hoseley unveiled his LongBox Digital Comics project in Charlotte.

* there are a number of title and creative team type announcements at such events, and both CBR and Newsarama cover them in thorough, almost breathless fashion as is their news mandate. This one stood out to me just because Marvel (and DC) could arguably stand to pay a lot more attention to their secondary licenses. It's not like future movies are dependent on fully-functioning comic book characters operating within their own comic books, but I have to imagine it wouldn't hurt. Dr. Strange has the best traditional Marvel origin story that's not Spider-Man's, and he's their best yet-to-be-used character for the age range of the traditional Hollywood leading man. Why shouldn't he have some juice on the page?

* Michael Cho is not happy to see someone roaming around Heroes Con in a t-shirt featuring his art.

* finally, I'm having almost no luck getting a handle on crowds from this flickr set of Heroes Con photos or this one from WWP, but if I had to guess neither one looks jammed. The first set works best right now as a nice look at the HC infrastructure; the best thing about the second set is a look at Hall of Fame comics convention media guest Virgil. This blog post says crowds are smaller at Philly this year. Wizard has a horrid reputation when it comes to releasing attendance figures, so we may never know.

The bulk of the weekend seems to be progressing in pretty normal fashion thus far in both locations. I'll likely repeat the majority of this post on Monday along with a Collective Memory entry on Heroes and anything else that's newsworthy.
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 20, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Next Week In Comics-Related Events

June 21
image
image

June 25
image

June 27
image
image
image
image
image
image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from June 13 to June 19, 2009:

1. Unrest in Iran expressed through cartooning component: massive interest worldwide from cartoonists, special focus on Iranian cartoonists, street cartooning, Marjane Satrapi in Brussels.

2. Comic sales in the Direct Market for May 2009 suck a bone, particularly when compared to a relatively robust May 2008.

3. Heroes Con in Charlotte and WizardWorld in Philadelphia kick off summer mainstream comics convention season. Art comics festival TCAF announces 2010 show in surprise move for what had been an every-other-year affair.

Winners Of The Week
Those that were taught by enthusiastic comics educator Jeremy Mullins, who died this week at age 32.

Losers Of The Week
Those who had come to enjoy the comics effort on MySpace.

Quote Of The Week
"Now this is how you write a post-artcomix-festival thank-you letter: TCAF's Chris Butcher shows us how it's done." -- Sean T. Collins, referencing the warm moments and minor glitches letter in a way that hadn't occurred to me.

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Philly, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were Registered, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Justin Norman!

image

there's only a handful of people in comics I like as much as Gus Norman
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 75th Birthday, Rius!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, John Workman Jr.!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Nix!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Jackie Estrada On Posh New Venue For Eisner Awards (PR) (6/19/09)
* James Vance On That Tekno Mall Kiosk Photo (6/19/09)
* John Vest On Neal Adams Ending The Silver Age (6/15/09)
* Peter Ogura On An S. Clay Wilson Comic He Can't Find In Published Form (6/15/09)
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 19, 2009


In Your Face, KE7: Limited Edition Of Crumb’s Genesis Set For Sale At $500

image

Judith Hansen of Hansen Literary Agency just wrote in to mention that WW Norton is now taking orders for its limited edition of legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb's The Book Of Genesis Illustrated By Robert Crumb. It's in the usual places, like Amazon.com.

This is a slipcased edition with a signed print matching the book number -- only 250 will be printed. If my life had gone in the direction where I was only buying a few copies of comics that were potentially great, or important, or meant a lot to me rather than making an attempt to buy and read all the comics, I'd likely be fighting you for a place in line. I'm not certain I won't be, anyway.

This is the best part of the Amazon.com listing, where it's discounted to $315: "Customers buy this book with The Wolverton Bible by Basil Wolverton; Price For Both: $331.49."
 
posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: Ethan Persoff’s On-Line Archive Of The H-Bomb And You

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Federal Appeals Court Declines To Re-Hear Dwight Whorley Case

Wired has a concise piece up on the decision Monday by a federal appeals court not to rehear the case of Dwight Whorley. The court decided 10-1 not to rehear the case, where Whorley was convicted in 2006 for a variety of offenses including but not limited to possession of obscene manga.

A silver lining may be that the dissenting vote by Judge Roger Gregory was extremely strong, hitting on the idea of the government regulating private thoughts, decrying a conviction regarind wholly imagined beings, and stating that the interstate commerce part of the conviction did not reflect modern practices where the Internet is common. He urged the Supreme Court to consider the case and reverse it.

A previous panel including Gregory had voted 2-1, Gregory again dissenting, to uphold parts of the original conviction including the possession of manga portion.

Both the Wired writer and other observers believe there is a direct link between portions of Whorley's conviction and the decision by authorities to pursue a case against Christopher Handley concerning possession of manga. Handley eventually accepted a plea, and awaits sentencing.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bill Bates, 1930-2009

image

Bill Bates, the long-time cartoonist at the Carmel Pine Cone and a one-time artist for the San Francisco Examiner, died on May 21 at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula from complications that arose out of a 2008 heart attack. While the work was carried in local publication and on web sites at the time, it looks like it just made it to regional/national publication in the last few days, or somehow otherwise jumped into current news circulation.

Bates was from Texas, and according to the various obituaries spent some time as an artist for various cruise lines after a stint in the military. During the cruise line job he sketched passengers and other details of individual trips and then presenting customers with a chance to buy the resulting work. He would later keep a sketchbook of his travels to over 125 countries around the world.

Bates became attracted to the Carmel area after attending a cartoonist function there. In the 1980s, Bates attended weekly meetings in Carmel at Cardinale's Coffee Shop with other area cartoonists such as Hank Ketcham, Gus Arriola and Eldon Dedini -- all of whom preceded Bates in death. Bates supplemented his Carmel Pine Cone work with the operation of a local cafe until 2001, cartoons for The Monterey Herald, and book collections and other uses of his cartoon art.

A stand-alone page remembering the artist, including some of his work, can be found here.

He is survived by his wife and eight children. Bill Bates was 79 years old.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Watch: Meet Nick Bertozzi



via
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #42

* this article at Wall Street Journal is the first one I've seen -- not that I've been really looking -- about the state of plans at Barnes and Noble in terms of opening new stores and closing old ones. The upshot is they'll be doing less of the former than they thought and more of the latter.

* the top 30 news site and top 30 newspaper site lists are always fun to read. All they really say to me is that this is an arena that's far from settled in terms of what's going to attract customers and keep them long-term.

* since Heroes Con starts today, that means it's the one-year anniversary of the May 2008 DM numbers, where the first issue of DC's long-planned Final Crisis came in a weak second to a not-premiere issue of Marvel's less-at-stake Secret Invasion series. One thing I remember hearing at the time is that the order of the finish wasn't as important as the fact that a lot of these top comics enjoyed quite healthy sales, thank you very much, a line of thinking that was definitely not revisited when the May 2009 serial comic book numbers dropped.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
34 Days Until Comic-Con International

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 Bill Finger Award For Excellence In Comic Book Writing Recipients

image

John Broome and Frank Jacobs have been announced as the recipients of the 2009 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing.

Frank Jacobs is a long-time freelancer for MAD Magazine who has worked on a variety of that publication's features since coming on board in 1957. He is perhaps best known for his well-regarded poems and song parodies. Jacobs is also the author of The MAD World of William M. Gaines, one of the earlier popular comics histories.

John Broome (1913-1999) followed his agent Julius Schwartz into comics from science fiction. He wrote for DC Comics from 1946 until 1970 on a variety of features including foundational Silver Age superhero properties like The Flash, Green Lanter, The Atomic Knights and Detective Chimp.

The Bill Finger Award was created in 2005 at the urging of longtime creator, historian and rights advocate Jerry Robinson. They are named after William Finger (1914-1974) the first writer on the Batman comics. This year's board was chaired by Mark Evanier, who reported via the press release distributed that the choices were unanimously selected. That committee was Evanier, Charles Kochman, Kurt Busiek, Tony Isabella and Marv Wolfman. The award will be presented as part of the Eisner Awards ceremony this July at the Hilton Bayfront hotel as part of San Diego's Comic-Con International.

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Philly, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Vignettes Of Life

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Summer Camp Stories

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Pro Cartoonist And Gagwriter Page Scans, April 1962 Issue

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Internet, Make Me Something I Want

image

I would like a site of information about FOOM: like this one, or this one, but with giant cover scans. Is that out there anywhere? Someone should do that. The Marie Severin bullpen, the Jarvis and the Romita Spider-Man gang covers are all great and I'd like to stare at them.
 
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's good enough news to repeat it today after posting it as its own deal last night: not only did TCAF have a successful 2009 by their internal measures, they're going to have a show next year, 2010, to see if they like putting one on every year. For those of us that were totally chicken to travel this Spring because of vague economic anxiety and would love a chance to tromp around Toronto, this could even be said to be great news.

image* the retailer Mike Sterling answers my question about Watchmen and what I think we should call The Sterling Effect, a phenomenon the prolific blogger's frequently talked about in past posts where sales for a graphic novel peak before a movie is released and then drop precipitously soon afterward.

* by the way, I think we should call this phenomenon The Sterling Effect because a) Mike's the one who talked about it the most and I believe noticed it first, b) it sounds like a Sidney Lumet film and more things in comics should sound like Sidney Lumet films, and c) Mike knew exactly what I was talking about although provided very little context.

* are your cartoons being used without your permission?

* the FAMILY bookstore blog has some great pictures up of Robert Crumb reuniting with a long-lost cousin.

* you know, I linked to a Tekno Comix post from James Vance earlier this week, but I didn't wait for the astounding picture it features up top to load before I clicked away. Wow.

* finally, the Eisner Awards are moving to a new location for 2009 -- the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The Eisners had been held for the last several years in a giant room at the convention center, which always felt to me a bit like those times when you were a kid and you'd go to an event held at your elementary school gym at night. I have fond memories of moving from the awards room to one of those ridiculously nice San Diego nighttime balconies with a bar nearby when the awards were previously held at a hotel, so this may afford the same opportunity.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 93rd Birthday, Mick Anglo!

image

i'm never all the way sure he's still alive
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Dan Fraga!

image

fraga boom
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Guillemgoyles
Rich Dannys Draws Parker

Exhibits/Events
Jeff Parker Won't Be At Heroes, Either

Industry
Kevin Church: Brick and Mortar Bully

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Mike Allred
Marc Bell Is A Genius
Newsarama: Tyrese Gibson
A Nickel's Worth: Jerry King
Comic Geek Speak: Brian Hibbs
San Francisco Examiner: Julia Wertz
Precocious Curmudgeon: Wataru Yoshizumi

Not Comics
My Dad Would Say That Ain't Peanuts
No Idea What This Is; Still Frightened By It

Publishing
Starstruck Profiled
Fort Knox Previewed
Thrizzle Collection Previewed
Astonishing X-Men #30 Previewed
ComicCritics Celebrates First Anniversary

Reviews
David Brothers: Aya
Ed Sizemore: Various
Vanja: Clyde Fans 1-2
Tucker Stone: Various
Paul O'Brien: Exiles #2-3
Grant Goggans: Cold Heat
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Dinotrux
Sarah Morean: Woman King
Zak Edwards: Ultimatum #4
Don MacPherson: The Hunter
Jared Gardner: The Unwritten
Jeffrey Brown Is Unreviewable
Richard Bruton: Swallow Me Whole
Leroy Douresseaux: Naruto Vol. 39
 

 
June 18, 2009


News Too Good To Hold Until Morning

TCAF will have a show next year, 2010, moving away from the every other year schedule.
 
posted 7:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Jeremy Mullins Scholarship Established

image

In its obituary, the blog for the alumni association of the Savannah College of Art and Design mentions that a scholarship in the name of the late professor in the sequential art department Jeremy Mullins (also a 2005 SCAD MFA grad) has been established. Donations can sent to Jeremy Mullins Sequential Art Scholarship, Savannah College of Art and Design, P.O. Box 3146, Savannah, GA 31402-3146. Anyone wishing additional information about the scholarship can phone the school's institutional advancement department at 912-525-5868.

I hope you'll consider sending something to what seems like an extremely appropriate way to remember and pay tribute to such a devoted professor.
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Yeah, I Thought So: No DCD Reports Or Rumors Surface Thus Far; A Dozen Flat Denials And Refutations

Here's an update to a posting from earlier today.

As I thought, the initial battery of e-mails from publishers and those with insider knowledge of Diamond indicate with fervor and certainty that there's no money problems in evidence whatsoever in the functioning of that company, and that whatever complaints out there that might exist -- and no such complaints have been confirmed to me -- almost certainly came from a switchover in business terms whereby the accounting takes place in a slightly different way. My inbox looks like the phone tree of a Star Chamber of comics heavy-hitters.

So until I hear way, way, way, way differently -- and you'll be the first ones to know -- I don't see any reason why any rumors along those lines should be believed or given any thought at all.

A couple of you expressed concern that I would spotlight a rumor like that. I appreciate your concern and I apologize: I probably didn't think that through all that well. My thinking was that Alan Gardner is so widely read and so well respected in certain circles that his engagement of the story meant something much different than the usual message board stuff, and that this idea comes after a round of Geppi personal finance reports that were confirmed but had an element of unspoken speculation to them, and that the rumor contained with it a pernicious explanation for why this wouldn't be covered, so in general I thought it would be better to step up and deal with the rumors in straight-up fashion rather than let them fester without comment.

I will continue to take all news and rumors of news and deal with them if and as they're sent to me. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. But in a month where comics and graphic novel sales took a dip, in period of time where I believe a lot of news stories are influenced in ways we may not even realize by general fears and anxiety concerning the economy in general and the comics economy specifically, let's be honest and forthright and make inquiries and not participate in a culture of worry and speculation where the former needn't exist and the latter is unnecessary and harmful.
 
posted 9:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Our Best Wishes To The Cartoonist Derf After Quintuple Bypass Surgery

image
image

Via the SLG blog comes word that the cartoonist Derf, one of the best alternative weekly strip cartoonists of the last several years and the creator of the enormously sweet and good-natured graphic novel Punk Rock and Trailer Parks (apparently a newly-minted CBG prize-winner) has had bypass surgery following as a result of radiation treatments. He talks about the experience and his current mindset with a great deal of clarity at his non-permalink ready blog (June 16 entry).
 
posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Bit More On Cartooning, Iran Unrest

image

* looks like there is a cartoonist on the ground in Tehran, slowly coming to the attention of outside observers: here and here.

* Steve Bell is one of the half-dozen or so editorial cartoonists to whom we pay attention on a regular basis. His sober treatment of the crisis' effect on Iran's international reputation as seen above is more of a close reading of events than other cartoonists have done (it's about a summit in Russia attended by the current Iranian president as opposed to another summary statement on recent events). This portrait, however, is more directly brutal.

* Nikahang Kowsar started posting cartoons again, after a day off that worried the BBC's blogger until they remembered he lives in Canada.

* Jens Robinson wrote in to say that you can also search for cartoons about Iran by those cartoonists represented by the New York Times Syndicate, including several international cartoonists not represented anywhere else.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
MySpace Comics Effort Out With Latest Round Of Cutbacks At Networking Site

It's not something to which I paid a great deal of attention, but the effort to provide comics through the social networking site MySpace.com has ended with the latest round of cutbacks at the News Corp. enterprise. The two most prominent components to my mind were the Joe Quesada column, which has already moved to the Comic Book Resources site, and the Dark Horse-directed on-line version of its Dark Horse Presents, which I imagine has a good chance of finding traction either somewhere else or as a stand-alone offering through the Pacific Northwest publishing house.
 
posted 8:28 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Follow Me

image

also here
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Worst Thing About Marvel Comics

imageThere's an interesting discussion on the blog of The Atlantic's politics and culture blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates about Marvel's recent PR spotlight on one of their ongoing narratives. Cole Moore Odell's point in the comments that defeating death is part of the texture of superhero comics is a smart one, as is the general point that characters in fantastic literature that aren't about superheroes do this, too (Sherlock Holmes, Gandalf the Grey/White).

However, I do have some sympathy for the position that this weakens Marvel's general claim to being the more realistic comics company, which is how that company exists in the minds of many casual fans. I also think there's not enough scrutiny as to how these sorts of plots work in specific titles (I don't care for any of the uses for Jean Grey after those X-Men comics where she killed herself after her friends fought very sweetly -- and very badly -- on her behalf despite monstrous claims as to what she had done). Mostly, though, I'm not certain the Marvel writers (or the DC ones) as a collective have ever handled well how astounding it would be to have certain people in any fictional world even half-way designed to resemble our own outright cheat death.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Darwyn Cooke Bookplate

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I’ll Take Any DCD Rumors You Have That Have People’s Names In Them, But I’m Calling BS Until Then

I didn't notice this until Alan Gardner at the Daily Cartoonist picked it up, but the creator DJ Coffman is asserting that Diamond Comics Distributor, Inc. isn't paying publishers, that publishers are using this an excuse not to pay creators, and that no one reports on this because they're all terrified of reporting on Diamond/weakening Diamond further.

Hey, first I've heard about it.

To that end, I'd be more than happy to take whatever names anyone out there would like to send me of folks that aren't being paid, whether it's your own troubles or someone you've heard about. My suspicion is that this story would actually rip to the surface of comics pretty quickly because Diamond's prompt payments are a big part of what makes most of the companies go, buttressed by the widespread assumption that DC's contractual options with Diamond are enough of a stabilizing factor that comics wouldn't be in any real danger. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I'll try to confirm and have no problem publishing any bad news.

If this it turns out not to be true, I think it's interesting as part of the free-floating anxiety that exists in comics right now, a combination of general economic worry and a more typical cycle where a whole generation of hopeful cartoonists begins to hit the ceiling in terms of what it's likely they'll make from their comics efforts.

Update: As I thought, the initial battery of e-mails from publishers and those with insider knowledge of Diamond indicate with fervor and certainty that there's no money problems in evidence whatsoever in the functioning of that company, and that whatever complaints out there that might exist -- and no such complaints have been confirmed to me -- almost certainly came from a switchover in business terms whereby the accounting takes place in a slightly different way. My inbox looks like the phone tree of a Star Chamber of comics heavy-hitters.

So until I hear way, way, way, way differently -- and you'll be the first ones to know -- I don't see any reason why any rumors along those lines should be believed or given any thought at all.

A couple of you expressed concern that I would spotlight a rumor like that. I appreciate your concern and I apologize: I probably didn't think that through all that well. My thinking was that Alan Gardner is so widely read and so well respected in certain circles that his engagement of the story meant something much different than the usual message board stuff, and that this idea comes after a round of Geppi personal finance reports that were confirmed but had an element of unspoken speculation to them, and that the rumor contained with it a pernicious explanation for why this wouldn't be covered, so in general I thought it would be better to step up and deal with the rumors in straight-up fashion rather than let them fester without comment.

I will continue to take all news and rumors of news and deal with them if and as they're sent to me. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. But in a month where comics and graphic novel sales took a dip, in period of time where I believe a lot of news stories are influenced in ways we may not even realize by general fears and anxiety concerning the economy in general and the comics economy specifically, let's be honest and forthright and make inquiries and not participate in a culture of worry and speculation where the former needn't exist and the latter is unnecessary and harmful.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Watch: Paul Karasik Talks To Arnold Roth And Al Jaffee At MoCCA Festival




 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
New Way To Score Comic-Con Entry

Someone forwarded me the following note from a casting service searching Southern California for rugged-looking booth bunny dudes:
Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2009, 5:35 PM Pacific

COMIC CON (Promo Models)
Live Project
NON-UNION

Casting Director: XXX XXXXX
Wardrobe Fitting Date: July 11th
Shoot/Call Date: July 22nd --July 26th
Pay Rate: $XX/hr plus incentives.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY

MUST LIVE WITHIN THE SAN DIEGO AREA - NO EXCEPTIONS!

Must be available July 22nd-26th -- Approximately 7 hrs per day. Both Morning and Evening Shifts are available, so please indicate your preference.

[PHYSICALLY-FIT MALE PROMO MODELS]

Good looking but rugged types are preferred. Must have an athletic build think Hugh Jackman. Must have the ability to stand for long periods of time. Must be a dependable team player. **Be available for all shifts (including a fitting prior to the event-date TBD) Flexible schedule a plus! Promotional experience a plus! Have an outgoing personality with exceptional people skills. Duties will include engaging with the public, relaying talking points, posing for pictures and distributing promo merch. Ambassadors will be provided a costume and may be in character.
Hey, I can stand up for long periods of time, have the body of former Green Bay Packer Gilbert Brown and I was thinking about Hugh Jackman not 20 minutes ago... wait, I think that means I have to look like Hugh Jackman. Never mind. Anyway, that's not a world into which many of us are privy, so I thought it might be worth posting here. (I'm assuming this is a public posting but if I'm violating something, that's my fault and I'll be happy to take it down immediately.)
 
posted 8:02 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Close Reading Of Ken Avidor Cover

imageThere's a series of comic books out there featuring women in and sort of in politics that has received an inexplicable amount of attention for how clumsily they're done. A similar comic PR-wise with almost nothing in common with those comics content-wise is False Witness, a comic about Congresswoman Michele Bachmann by Bill Prendergast and a number of other Minnesota cartoonists. It has a bit of an edge about it concept-wise as well, as in underground comix tradition Prendergast asserts that the book is a corrective to local media coverage. Here's one of those editorials-as-promo pieces, where Prendergast dissects an astounding-looking cover by Ken Avidor.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In SF, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Kirby’s KC Massacre

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Benjamin Marra Sketches

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Brechtnieuws

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Capped Mike Reddy Blog

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the Orphan Works Bill is back.

image* a few nice personal reminiscences of the late artist Dave Simons have popped up on-line since Simons' passing: James H. Burns, Clifford Meth and Gerry Alanguilan.

* this is a great story about Gene Deitch and John Lee Hooker.

* Drew Friedman draws Will Farrell.

* apparently, Ralph Steadman hates the iPhone.

* finally, the great Carlton Hargro offers up some 2009-specific reasons why attending this year's Heroes Con will be a good idea, including the fact that Jeff Smith will be there. Getting a chance to chat with Hargro, one of the few working journalists who also covers comics, might be an 11th reason.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 46th Birthday, Wataru Yoshizumi!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Dean Mullaney!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Darkseid Minus New Gods
Basil Wolverton Slideshow
Ron Chan Draws Star Wars

Exhibits/Events
Cagle In Japan
Derek Kirk Kim On TCAF
Nina Stone Goes To MoCCA
Itty Bitty Dr. Who Coming To CCI

History
Atlas Comics Spoiled
Black Lanterns Assemble
Dan Nadel's Favorite Comics History Posts

Industry
Manga 101
Ladies Get Free Comics
Why Read Comics You Hate
Mike Sterling Answers Your Questions

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Brian Bendis
PWCW: Trina Robbins
CBR: Howard Chaykin
Newsarama: Dan DiDio
Minnesota Reads: Zak Sally
Newsarama: Roger Robinson

Not Comics
Shaenon Garrity Is Losing Her Mind
Tor Launches Open On-Line Bookstore

Publishing
Laika En Francais
Ultimo Serial Begins
Underground Previewed
What The House Of Fun Is Up To
What He Likes About Anthologies

Reviews
John Mitchell: Boody
Michael C. Lorah: Che
Richard Bruton: The Blue Rider
Matthew Brady: Second Thoughts
Ed Sizemore: Yuri Monogatari Vol. 6
Bart Croonenborghs: The wrong place
Brian Heater: Nine Ways To Disappear
Brandon Soderberg: Disappearance Diary
Elizabeth Hewitt: A Treasury Of XXth Century Murder
Matthew Brady: Young Allies 70th Anniversary Special #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Showcase Presents: The Doom Patrol Vol. 1
 

 
June 17, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* Buenaventura Press has added eight books to its catalog for summer 2009: the anthology Le Muscle Carabine #3, Emelie Ostergren's Evil Dress, Emelie Ostergren and Clara Johannson's Mexikansk Granso Sparlost Forsvunnen, Carlos Gonzalez's Slime Freak 9, Kevin Huizenga's Rumbling Chapter 2, Archer Prewitt's Work on Paper, anthology Nazi Knife 5 and anthology Canicola no. 5. They've also re-stocked a bunch of stuff, so poke around. That's an image from Canicola no. 5 up top.

image* it looks like Drew Weing is going to return to his Set To Sea webcomic. He'd been gone so long I was beginning to wonder if what was up was actually a complete story -- and maybe it is, as the comic looks shut down right now, so perhaps what Weing's talking about is a re-do rather than an extension. It's worth checking out when it gets started, no matter what he's doing to it.

* publisher Brett Warnock mentions that Top Shelf has sent the new Alec omnibus off to press. Of all the books coming out in the second half of this year, I'm maybe looking forward to that one the most.

* the cartoonist Shaenon Garrity discusses the collection this August of a first volume of Skin Horse into printed form.

* the cartoonist Larry Marder has a picture and some explicit descriptions of what's coming up with his Beanworld projects.

* the cartoonist and caricaturist Richard Thompson has posted the full cover to the second Cul De Sac collection, which is due in September.

* finally, DC has announced that a broadsheet of its first Superman adventure intended for the tabloid Wednesday Comics will appear in USA Today, although disappointingly further installments will be on-line at USA Today's site.

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Iranian Unrest, Cartooning

* here's a video report on Marjane Satrapi and fellow film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf's appearance in Brussels to decry the announced election results, including footage of the cartoonist giving testimony.

* Daryl Cagle has a section up on Iranian cartoons by various cartoonists who work through his site, including heavy-hitters like Mike Luckovich and Steve Benson. My disappointment that it took a couple of days wasn't meant as implied criticism, but as it turns out Cagle had been in Japan. Matt Bors was nice enough to send me a direct link to his cartoon on the matter.

* the BBC has the briefest of updates on the suspension of the newspaper Velayat, which an initial release via a Canadian presswire said was due to the publication of a cartoon. Apparently the newspaper that wrote about the suspension was also suspended. Here's the IFEX update on general journalist suppression.

* I noticed something looking at Nikahang Kowsar's cartoons again: he saw something coming.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Adam S. Doyle

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Prix des Libraires ‘09 Winner

image

Christian De Metter's adaptation of Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island has won the Prix des Libraires given out by an association of librarians specializing in comics. The book was also one of the official selections of the Angouleme Festival just past and is part of Casterman's new noir line of novel adaptations. I was a little bit confused as to why the article brought up another book -- and I still am -- but it's a book through which Metter shared in a 2005 Angouleme prize for Best Scenario, under I believe the old voting system. Anyway, given Lehane's recent effectiveness as a source for Hollywood movies (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), and the fact that this a film adaptation of this one is this Fall's Martin Scorcese picture, I would have to believe there might be some interest in bringing this comics adaptation to the English-language market.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Visual Testimony From Last Weekend’s Comicfestival Munchen 2009

image

* Comicgate's Video
* Splashcomics' Photo Array

that's Mawil above; thanks to Stefan Dinter for the links
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Swann Foundation Recipients Named

According to a press release, the Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon has announced its fellowship awards for the academic year 2009-2010: Yasemin Gencer, Amanda Lahikainen and Jason E. Hill. The number of application led to a split award between the three recipients. Gencer will use her award for research on her dissertation covering political cartoons in Turkey from 1918 to 1928. Lahikainen will study how graphic satirists in England used the French Revolution to make commentary on domestic politics. Hill hopes to complete his dissertation on the role of cartooning in the visual strategies employed by PM Daily in the 1940s. All three are expected to use holdings at the Library of Congress, the organization that administers the fellowship awards.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Mike Shea

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Watch: There Goes My Inspiration



via
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Ward Sutton At B&N

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Photo Preview Of Museum Of Modern Art’s Tim Burton Show

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer James Vance has returned to his series of posts on 1990s license farm Tekno with this piece on Mr. Hero.

image* it's... it's so beautiful.

* a politically conservative writer (I think) with a fundamentalist background defends Garry Trudeau by going all New Standard Version on the ADL. I'm not sure why I found this compelling. Okay, I actually know why, but I think some of you might find it interesting, too. Also, he's probably not using an NSV.

* now that's a celebrity endorsement.

* The Walrus profiles cover artist Joost Swarte.

* not comics: Count Dante link round-up.

* reading this article about how stores may under-order the forthcoming Wednesday Comics and that previous serialization and folds may have some vague effect on value is horribly, horribly depressing.

* the comic strip-focused blogger Michael Cavna asks: if you were the editor of the comics page in a newspaper with a comics page and a kids page, would you a) put Family Circus on the kids page, b) keep Family Circus on the comics page, c) spend every spare moment at work when your boss isn't staring directly at you not working on the Family Circus dilemma but looking for a university position on-line hoping you can score something, anything, before you're laid off. Okay, he really just wants you to decide between a and b.

* finally, I really liked this picture of Jed Kemsley accepting the National Cartoonists Society's Silver T-Square award on behalf of his late father, James. I don't know; it just seems nice.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Bart Beaty!

image

It is my ongoing privilege to publish Bart's writing about the European comics scene here at CR, and I wish him nothing but the best on his 40th birthday. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Hilary Barta!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Chance Browne!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sketching Fu Manchu

Exhibits/Events
Cagle In Japan

History
He Loves Lucy
Hooray For Lou Little

Industry
This Made Me Chuckle

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Daniel Way
Wizard: Ed Brubaker
Newsarama: Terry Moore
Newsarama: Brian Bendis
Occasional Superheroine: Rich Johnston

Not Comics
I Miss Charles Nelson Reilly
Heather Havrilesky On Tweeting
Some Days Are Carla Thomas Days
Still Waiting For Book After Preston Falls

Publishing
Todd Klein's New Print
Dylan Project Previewed

Reviews
Zak Edwards: The Unwritten #2
Abhay Khosla: Gus And His Gang
Richard Bruton: Second Thoughts
Zak Edwards: Ultimate Spider-Man #133
Sandy Bilus: Hellboy: The Conqueror Worm
Leroy Douresseaux: Hey! Class President Vol. 2
Johanna Draper Carlson: Ballad Of A Shinigami Vol. 1

 

 
June 16, 2009


Marjane Satrapi And Filmmaker Present Election Fraud Document To European Parliament In Brussels

I've received about a dozen e-mails asking if anyone had heard or seen anything from one of the more prominent recent Iranian-born celebrities, cartoonist Marjane Satrapi. I hadn't come across anything other than scattered suggestions from people to read Persepolis until I saw this piece.
 
posted 1:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

image

*****

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 give them a full read before my retailer complained and forced my hand.

*****

MAR090210 SLEEPER SEASON 1 TP (MR) $24.99
APR090492 CAPTAIN AMERICA #600 $4.99
FEB092597 INCOGNITO #4 (MR) $3.50
Big Ed Brubaker week: a more substantial-per-volume reprinting of his Sleeper work begins, an anniversary edition of Captain America with broad media coverage, and the latest issue of his Incognito serial with Sleeper co-creator Sean Phillips.

FEB090214 STARMAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 03 $49.99
More of the James Robinson/Tony Harris/other talented people superhero series, much-loved during a mostly fallow period for the men in costumes punching each other books.

APR090384 INVINCIBLE #63 $2.99
Arguably Image's current flagship title, in the midst of a multiple-issue summer punch-up.

APR090362 MICE TEMPLAR TP VOL 01 $17.99
There was something a little to pre-packaged about this comic, but a lot of people love their anthropomorphic, just-outside-of-human-sight fantasies.

APR090495 CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #14 $2.99
Marvel's current below-the-radar, well-liked, already-canceled comic that folks have already started to buy in the discount bins.

APR090682 FART PARTY GN VOL 02 (MR) $13.95
Julia Wertz is funny.

MAR094447 NAOKI URASAWA 20TH CENTURY BOYS GN VOL 03 $12.99
Your new volume from a well-liked manga series of the week.

APR090982 NEXUS AS IT HAPPENED TP VOL 01 $9.99
A sort-of manga-style repackaging of the 1980s independent superhero title. It worked well for Love & Rockets.

MAR094038 WHATEVER HAPPENED TO WORLD OF TOMORROW HC $24.95
Brian Fies follow-up to Mom's Cancer and quite the fancy-looking book, I understand.

APR090843 LEGACY $14.95
The great Jack Katz will lay you down and make you sleep, sleep, sleep like a puppy.

*****

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, you're welcome.

*****

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jeremy Mullins, 1976-2009

image

The comics educator, podcast creator and webcomics cartoonist Jeremy Mullins has passed away, according to several alumni and those of an awareness of that program. He died on Saturday from multiple injuries while climbing in the Catskills near Kaaterskill Falls. Mullins held an MFA from the sequential art department at Savannah College Of Art And Design (SCAD), where he won an outstanding thesis award in 2005 for his "Digital Delivery and the Empowerment of the Sequential Artist" and where he would teach.

A profile of his thesis says that Mullins was a political cartoonist who came to SCAD to learn how to tell stories with his art, and that his thesis was in part a response to worsening conditions in the comics industry. His webcomic, Sweetwater Is An Asshole, frequently depicted events that were comics-related or from the late Mullins' life related to comics, and he ran the school's Seqalab podcast. He previously worked for the Savannah Morning News.

Mullins was a popular professor who connected with his students by virtue of his personality, his heavily enthusiastic passion for the comics medium and his belief in the ability of his students to contribute to the art form. A mini-comic by one of his students given the educator at the end of a mini-comics class here. He spent the winter of 2009 in France, teaching for the school.

Former student Michael Jewell wrote CR: "He was not necessarily a comics celebrity, his career in teaching had even only begun, but I'm writing through tears to tell you that his presence has impacted a chunk of this generations' young cartoonists. He oversaw the birth of my first graphic novel last winter in the wind-swept valleys of Southern France and it breaks my fucking heart to tell you that he was just a week shy of seeing it finished. He was generous with all his students, but it meant so much to know that he believed in me."

Jeremy Mullins was 32 years old.
 
posted 9:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Revolution Will Be Cartooned

image

There's a fine line between pointing out the aspects of a world event related to cartooning and seeing the world through comics eyes, and if you have a choice between reading comics news today and reading about whatever the heck is going on over there I hope you'll choose the latter, but there are a few aspects worth pointing out.

* something called the CNW group reports that the newspaper Velayat, that serves the Qazvin province north of Tehran, has been suspended by government authorities for publishing a cartoon featuring the embattled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

* hugely influential political blogger Andrew Sullivan has been pointing people towards Iranian cartoonists like Nikahang Kosar/Kowsar (cartoon below) and Mana Neistani/Neyestani (above), although I think he may mis-identify the latter as female. You may remember Neyestani as the cockroach cartoonist from a few years back.

* Sullivan also posted an example of decorative street art used to communicate a political point.

* according to the Telegraph, cartoons had played a role in the presidential election being questioned through a series of monkey-related cartoons aimed at the incumbent.

* Daryl Cagle doesn't have an index up yet, so that's disappointing. I'm not aware of any other indexing services so that we could get an idea as to how US cartoonists are handling the story -- if they're handling the story. Here's Pat Oliphant, Jim Morin and Tom Toles, so that's pretty much the only folks I care about. I looked at about 30 to get those three, and for what it's worth there was only other cartoon on Iran.

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Cut And Delusions

image
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Analysts: May 2009 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 May 2009.

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

John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles has his analysis up for May 2009 right here.

The big news this month is a sudden drop in the sales of comic books, both as measured in comparison to last year's figures -- the most utilized measure by comics industry watchers -- and in terms of sales from earlier this year. Sales of comics were down around 20 percent and sales of graphic novels were down about 13 percent for an overall 18 percent drop or so. This after an April that looked promising and featured a surge in sales, although some had warned of two extraordinary circumstance holding up the charts January-April: the extreme popularity of the Obama/Spider-Man team-up as it topped the charts not once but twice, and the strength of Watchmen trade sales as anticipation for the movie went through its final stage.

imageI think I'd tend to support John Jackson Miller's general take as to what this means. This is obviously a drop at the top of the charts, although a reason why titles on down the charts might be doing better than in past years is because they're more likely to be big company titles than they used to be. I would put it like this: this is a market that's been shaped to deliver top-of-charts success, events series and first issues, and there just aren't a whole lot of them right now. That's something that's been underlined in recent years by the attempts of the two big mainstream companies to revitalize or keep vital their mid-list performers. I also imagine there could be something to JJM's supposition that this could reflect trouble at a very specific kind of suburban store that anecdotal evidence suggests has long served as an avenue for a certain kind of high-income spender to buy a lot of comics all at once.

So I'd say the drop is worrisome, if not outright scary. Just look at the top of the serial comic book market in 2008 as compared to 2009. In 2008, there were seven titles selling above 100K; in 2009, none. In 2008, there were 42 titles selling above 50,000 copies; in 2009, there are 24. And what's even more worrisome is that the biggest companies tend to treat the Direct Market as a resource to be exploited rather than a partner to be supported; they're not traditionally the kind of agencies in times of trouble for focused change and market reform. It's enough to make one nostalgic for a year ago, when all people had to worry about and comment on was the under-performance of Final Crisis #1.

(Although the trends story dominates and I think does so with good reason, kudos to Top Shelf's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen re-launch for top of the chart placement via unit sales and dollar amount.)

*****
*****
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Hellen Jo Blog

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your ICOM Awards Winners 2009

image

Comiks Debris has word up of last weekend's winners of the 2009 ICOM Independent Comic Preis Awards. They were given out at the Munich Comics Festival.

Best Independent Comic: Die sechs Schusse von Philadelphia, Ulrich Scheel (Avant Verlag)
Best Short Comic: Raues Sitten: Das Babybuch, Leo Leowald (Reprodukt)
Outstanding Scenario: Tara oder Der Marterpfahl, der Leben heisst, Spong (Katzenjammer Verlag)
Outstanding Artwork: Der Schicksalsgnom: Die Trilogie, Robert Muhlich and Bastian Baier (Zwerchfell Verlag)
Special Award -- Remarkable Comics Publication: Orang Comic Magazin #7: "The End Of The World, edited by Sascha Hommer (Reprodukt)
Special Award -- Remarkable Accomplishment or Publication: Comicgate Magazin #3, edited by Thomas Koegel and Frauke Pfeiffer (Comicgate)
Honorary Mentions: Fashionvictims, Trendverachter: Bildkolumnen und Minireportagen aus Berlin, Ulli Lust (Avant Verlag); Kommissar Eisele: Kripo Stuttgart, Martin Frei (Gringo Comics); Paralleluniversum: Urknall, Ivo Kircheis (Beatcomix); Schalke: Helden von ganz unten, 1904-1945, Michael Vogt (Konturblau)

thanks to Marc-Oliver Frisch for the e-mailed heads-up
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Kuti #12

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Google Wants To Trade With You

Alan Gardner and Mike Lynch pick up on a story that's firing through illustration circles whereby multiple billion-dollar company Google has solicited illustration work in exchange for exposure rather than pay. This is interesting because Google is so huge and can so obviously pay and pay well and yet, on the other hand, can arguably provide value through exposure. It really forces people to confront the core issues and principles. I think companies should pay for work they buy, although in this day and age people will not only give their work to them for free but feel like they're a bit smarter than everyone else for doing so.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Demon Of Destruction

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: NCS Newsletter April ‘84

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Scary, Weird Covers

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bob Powell Bad Girls

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the cartoonist Bruce Tinsley talks about the future of newspapers and lets drop he's added papers since the last presidential election.

image* want to hear something odd? In the last two weeks I've had two people that live on opposite coasts tell me that the only reason they regularly visit their local comics shop is to buy new issues of Usagi Yojimbo. That's pretty good for a comic that's been running for 25 years. With the news that will roll out in the form of a post here in 20 minutes or so about the loss of sales in comics shops this May compared to last May, that double-testimony struck me as a nice tribute to the power of serial comics literature when it's done right.

* Don MacPherson, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com and Sean Kleefeld all look at yesterday's mainstream comics publishing news story/publicity-driven event so I don't have to.

* frequently the world confuses me.

* finally, the Robert Crumb/Genesis hype machine is surging to life... just not in the US all the way yet. That's the first time I've seen anything from later in the book.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 29th Birthday, Sarah Glidden!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Vito Delsante!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Arnold Pander!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 43rd Birthday, Killoffer!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 79th Birthday, Frank Thorne!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Tim Hensley Photo Collage

History
Good Question
Captain America
Long Live The Legion
Patsy Walker, Hustler
Sgt. Rock: Creationist
Top Ten Coolest Comic Book Mavericks

Not Comics
Aww: Buttons
Peanuts 2010 Licensing Strategy

Publishing
D+Q Enfant Debut
Why She Dislikes Anthologies
Please Publish This Awesome Comic
Please Re-Publish This Awesome Comic

Reviews
Sean T. Collins: Uptight #3
Nina Stone: Resurrection #1
Greg McElhatton: The Hunter
Shannon Smith: Redskin Rashy
Richard Bruton: Bog Wizards #2
Jog: Seaguy: Slaves Of Mickey Eye
Kevin Church: Working, The Hunter
Leroy Douresseaux: Vagabond Vol. 1 (Vizbig Edition)
 

 
June 15, 2009


Congratulations To Jason Little On The Completion Of Motel Art Improvement Service

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Ten Things I Liked About Heroes Con

image

Heroes Con in Charlotte is taking place this weekend. I recommend the show. I was a guest in 2008, I was invited back this year and it gave me a stomach ache for three days to have to turn it down. I had a really good time last year. It's a nice show, an old-school show, like San Diego and Chicago were when I was attending them in college. If there were a half-dozen shows like this one in various places across the country, I'd seriously think about doing a tour.

Here are a dozen things I enjoyed about last year's Heroes Con, in the hopes that you'll perhaps be convinced to head over to the show yourself.

image1. It's A True Regional Convention
Although there were plenty of people that I had known from previous shows and other professional stops in comics, all of whom I was happy to see in this new environment -- cartoonist and Wow Cool Publisher Marc Arsenault was there, and I hadn't seen him since 1997 -- a lot of the pros and certainly a lot of the attendees were from towns and states with which I've had little interaction since graduating from college. I liked the fact that people made trips, even stayed overnight, to support the show as much as to indulge in some aspect of their chosen hobby and favorite medium. It was also one of the few shows I've been to where I felt like I actually visited a different part of the country in addition to the Land Of Comics. If there were more convention experiences like it, I'd follow comics on tour.

2. It Has A Unique Drawing Culture
Everybody at this show draws. Nearly every single person with a table facing outward was drawing: commissions, sketches, front-piece drawings. I drew two sketches. Although attention to original art and sketching has seemed to me to grow at every show in North America, I've never seen it to the extent that I saw it last year at Heroes. I'm told attendees come back every year for new pieces of art from specific artists that come back every year to give them what they want. At times, walking the aisles of the show during con hours was more like visiting some strange hotel lobby late at night filled with cartoonists drawing and chatting. I like the fact that there's one show out there that embraces the fact that original art and sketches and commissions are one of the truly great things about the chance to meet comics professionals face to face.

3. Its Guests Return Year After Year
Not only is a vote of confidence in the show that many of the attendees seemed to be hardy veterans, it was clear those that had been there before had a leg up on newbies in that people remembered their previous appearances and came back for more. I found that nice.

4. The Attendees Seem To Cherish The Personal Interaction
I had great conversations with fans about the show and the ability to meet with favorite creators. A lot of the young men reminded me of myself as a young man in that they seemed to enjoy comics as a largely solitary pursuit in a way that the bonus of casual interaction with creators at Heroes Con meant a great deal to them. A lovely bonus. I talked to one guy who insisted on telling me a story about how one prominent Image creator threw him a free trade paperback because he and his brother had already spent all their cash. He spoke of it as this really nice, unexpected reward that was specifically for them because they read comics and went to this show. It was incredibly endearing.

image

5. I Liked The "Physical Plant" Of The Show
Heroes Con is basically three buildings and two satellite locations. The three buildings are the convention center, the hotel where everyone drinks in the bar, the hotel where nobody drinks in the bar but which has the killer health club in the same physical structure. The satellite locations are wherever they have the art auction and the Heroes Aren't Hard To Find comics shop where the final party takes place. Everything fits. Even the town works. The first night we were in town, my brother and I took a cab to Lupie's Cafe. Stuffed to the gills, we decided to work it off by walking back to the hotel. We hit the Heroes store about ten blocks down, and after walking around and staring at books and annoying the Immonens for a while shuffled the rest of the way into the city. We didn't hurry. We chatted with a couple of locals walking the same direction and bent down to meet their cairn terrier. We stopped to watch part of a baseball game. The stars were out. It felt like summer.

image6. Art Comics Were Welcome
I'll be honest with you: this is a mainstream American comics comics show, and the art comics people on hand in 2008 did haphazard business. Those with customers that remembered them from previous years seemed to do well to extremely well, hardcore arts and punk comics publishers and those who hadn't exhibited before seemed to do much less well. But everyone felt welcome, I think, if they weren't too stressed about breaking even for the trip. For the attendee who likes such comics, you not only have a fine guest list of folks that work your favorite area, but ample opportunity for interaction, both informal and formal. There was an inordinate amount of alt-industry and focus-on-arts programming. I got to talk to Richard Thompson (he's returning) and all of the eight people in attendance at the panel got to ask questions until they were physically exhausted. I got to talk to Evan Dorkin and Jaime Hernandez in a room with 20 other people in it and both of them were charming and funny. These are great memories for me, at least, and I think made for quality programming overall. They'll keep trying to keep the arts comics flame alive, and any arts comics fan will continue to benefit by their doing so. Here's Shannon Smith's guide to that element of the show.

7. It's Always Going To Be Its Own Thing
There's a quality to the show that difficult for me to communicate, but let me try. I got the sense that there wasn't a grander scheme involved, that the organizers would be perfectly happy running better iterations of what they were already doing from now until they stopped doing it. There was a confidence that what they were doing had value, which you sometimes don't get out of a not-huge show, and that what was valuable was inclusive -- it could be a good time for the pros and for the fans in attendance, not one or the other. Anyway, after attending shows with grand and sometimes callow ambitions, it was nice to be at a show that seemed startled at its own success. Talking to the Heroes Con shop personnel and the core volunteers felt like sneaking in a conversation with a host near the end of a really good party, in the kitchen, with jackets off and ties loosened.

image8. It Was A Good Cheap Comics-Buying Show
If there was one thing I could have done over in 2008 that wasn't having my brother take more hilarious pictures of Tim Hodler, it was that I didn't bring enough money to spend on comics. It was a killer show for 1970s and 1980s junk, in particular, the kinds of books that many folks won't take to a national show because of limited appeal. My art comics friends kept leaving their tables and coming back with more deliciously obtuse mainstream comics material, beaming as they showed off their treasure. I did manage to buy some late 1960s Marvel books starring Ka-Zar and The Inhumans -- just not enough. I don't know if the same opportunities will always be there, but it'd be fun to find out. When I go back, I'm budgeting more cash.

9. It's The Same Weekend As The Dub Show Tour
I have no comment except that last year the interactions between comics fans and attendees of the dub tour were among the most hilarious I've ever experienced at a convention. That is two vastly, vastly different fanbases.

image10. The Hosts And Volunteers Are Extremely Nice
This includes Shelton Drumm and Dustin Harbin and the other con organizers, all of whom seemed in a constant state of wanting to charge off to take care of some problem but also wanting to slow down and spend the next two hours talking to you about everything under the sun. Nice people. It also includes people like Andrew Mansell, who was really helpful to me personally (and it's not like I'm the sort of guest that should qualify for a lot of attention). Heck, even the people that drove the van from the airport were nice, and answered dumb questions about their city of choice, and generally enthused over the previous occupants of the shuttle. Even if you didn't like the show, I can't imagine not liking the people at the show.

So there it is. I hope maybe you go.

If you do, here's my con advice: eat at places that aren't good for you like Lupie's and Mert's, visit the main Heroes store (I thought it even better than its more-than-solid reputation), if you stay at the hotel with access to the YMCA use it because nothing beats working on your post moves before heading to a funnybook show, have cocktails at the Westin, take money to buy comics, watch Dustin Harbin perform at the Art Auction, go to all the programming that interests you (including the Ditko programming advertised below), take your sketchbook or your looking-for-commissions list and, perhaps most importantly, give yourself enough time to get through the most absurd lines in the history of absurd regional airport lines at the airport flying out or you could miss your flight. Mostly, though, get in a good year of Heroes Con-going and I'll meet you back there in 2010.

*****

image

*****

all photos by Whit Spurgeon. in case you have the ads turned off, Heroes Con is an advertiser, and there's always the chance that the above is biased nonsense that came about solely because of that relationship

*****
*****
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Looking For Iranian Election Cartoons

image

As events in Iran surrounding the disputed election continue to unfold, I've been keeping my eyes open for an Iranian election turmoil equivalent to the dispatches from cartoonist Mazen Kerbaj during the 2006 Lebanon War -- that is, a cartoonist on the ground and/or deeply focused on the events via personal insight that's expressing themselves via cartoons or comics. I thought there might be a chance for someone like that: Iran has any number of editorial cartoonists and features an aggressive blogging scene. I also wonder if the rise of Twitter and more instantaneous forms of communication eliminate that hitch step that might allow someone to make and post cartoons about what's going on. The best candidate so far is Nikahang Kowsar (sometimes Kosar), whose cartoon up top is one of the most reprinted and whose site seems to carry a number of cartoons commenting on the events. I'm not sure exactly where Kosar is located or for whom he makes cartoons; if I recall correctly, he was one of the artists jailed this decade who relocated to Canada.

In the meantime, below is one of the color-coded cartoons that made a splash in the days up to the election: the Guardian explains. I'm surprised Cagle doesn't have a clearinghouse of such cartoons up yet, but it should pop up on that page when it does. There are several cartoonists digging into it. The LA Times looks at the reaction of regional press, including cartoon makers.

image
 
posted 8:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Vollenweider’s Cave

image
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Comic Den In Renton: Fire Victim

If I'm reading this piece correctly, the downtown Renton, Washington comic book shop Comic Den was the victim of a large fire that started in one of the upstairs apartments on the block. After typing and linking up that sentence, I see the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a short piece up, too. The owner hopes to relocate temporarily and suffered limited inventory losses because of his focus on new comics rather than expensive collectibles. Comic Den was the comic shop of choice of many employees at the nearby Wizards Of The Coast gaming company during that company's late '90s heyday, and I assume remains a popular stop for folks that continue to work there.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Discussing Zip A Tone

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Pair Of Comics-Related Sales Notes

* the number guru John Jackson Miller has a few things to say here about his first look at the charts for May. He's primarily interested in a new chart, for small press and indie publishers, and what that says about comics sales below the top 300.

* the release of the new Insider's Guide by comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com means an accompanying summary article on the web site, including a bunch of summary charts by category that should give you their idea of what perennials are doing battle with which newer books and series. The takeaway is that they estimate growth improved by five percent in 2008 for the overall category, despite the slightly terrifying discombobulation of the general economy that generated a ton of news in the second half of the year.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jumble Show Preview

image

they really need Luke Cage to start appearing in the Snuffy Smith newspaper comic, too
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Dan Wasserman On His 23% Cartoon

imageAfter posting about the usually reliable Chip Bok's horrible Sonia Sotomayor cartoon for several days ending early last week, it's nice to draw attention to an editorial cartoon receiving praise: Dan Wasserman's 23 percent cartoon, which has apparently struck a nerve with Boston newspaper readers. Michael Cavna talks with Wasserman. I'm not sure I agree with the logic of Wasserman's piece, at least as it might be generally. I believe many newspapers were bloated. But at least no one is wearing a sombrero.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Drawing Al Hartley

image
 
posted 7:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: WW2 Comic Previewed

image

not the usual approach
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Golden Age Adventures Of Shoot Me In The Chest Man

image
 
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gil Kane Horror Comic

image
 
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's a blast of publishing news to start the week: Steve Holland has set up his own publishing business, Bear Alley Books. They'll apparently publish the kind of classic UK strips Holland writes about so well. IDW has given Craig Yoe his own imprint, and he's announced a Steve Ditko art book.

image* over at the Daily Cartoonist Alan Gardner catches GoComics.com subscription figures and then puts them up for his community members to discuss. It's a fascinating list from which any number of conclusions can be drawn, but I think it works best if we just look at it for the time being, and note what it says without any analysis or declarations of eternal truths for comics on-line. Speaking of which, the only unaffiliated webcomic on the list is We The Robots, which sounds about right.

* the writer Jeet Heer reprints Stan Bevington's appreciation of Chris Oliveros. I have enough admiration for Oliveros' career and accomplishments piled up that it could topple over and flatten a city, but one reason tributes make me uncomfortable is you get things like the claim in this one that Oliveros has an unrivaled eye for quality. Really? No rivals? No one comes close enough for an argument even? Although I'm sure I do this in my own writing, too.

* many of the Marjane Satrapi profiles out there read the same to the point I can't tell if they're new or old, but I enjoyed this article's description of the award-winning cartoonist.

* please consider voting for the Eisners today, if you're eligible.

* this small list of comics plot points describes how strange American mainstream comics had become by the late 1980s. They were kind of exhausted, if that makes any sense. It might have been interesting to see how all those really dense and I'd suggest largely unappealing storylines might have continued if Image Comics hadn't come along.

* finally, when does someone's vacation merit a note in a news-interested blog? When it's The Beguiling's Chris Butcher, and he's going to Japan. Butcher's last trip to Japan showcased column inch after column inch and photo after photo of Japanese comics retail interfaces (bookstores, museum shops, etc.) in such glorious detail I thought the part of my brain that secretes nerdrenaline to the rest of my body was going to exhaust itself and die.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Rick Stasi!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Brian Hibbs!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Brent Anderson!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 64th Birthday, Don McGregor!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks
Anders Talks About Comics

Exhibits/Events
Big Apple Con Report
Philadelphia Sketch Club Show Report

History
Big Shot Comics
What's That Whizzing Sound?

Industry
Vote In The Eisners, Please

Interviews/Profiles
Newsarama: Peter Milligan
Newsarama: Christos Gage

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Richard Bruton: Sulk #1-2
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Mijeong
Sarah Jaffe: Phonogram 2.3
Hervé St-Louis: Batman #687
Hervé St-Louis: Red Robin #1
Hervé St-Louis: Absolution #0
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Hervé St-Louis: X-Men Forever #1
Brigid Alverson: Yokai Doctor Vol. 1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Tiny Tyrant Vol. 1
Hervé St-Louis: Squadron Supreme #11
Johanna Draper Carlson: Gimmick! Vol. 3
Hervé St-Louis: Parker and Badger Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Goats: Infinite Typewriters
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Name Of The Flower Vol. 2
 

 
June 14, 2009


CR Sunday Interview: Dale Lazarov

image

*****

As is made clear from the start of the interview, I don't know the writer Dale Lazarov at all well. It's part of the reason I wanted to interview him. Another part of that reason is that I rarely talk to creators who work in whatever surely-loaded-to-someone-out-there term by which you want to call comics with a lot of explicit sex in them. And I should be interviewing more people working those areas of comics. It's an important avenue of expression within comics, an approach that's yielded a lot of great work and an historically important financial pursuit for all sorts of publishers. Yet another part of why I wanted to interview Dale is that I liked the work he did with Steve MacIsaac on Sticky and I enjoyed his collaboration with Amy Colburn, Manly.

Manly was the spur for this interview, a prompt that had the two of exchanging e-mails right before I went through a brief period of time where it was difficult for me to do interviews. In an ideal world, this chat would have come out closer to Manly's initial publication in late 2008. Luckily, Dale's comic is still out there to be discovered and there's much more to come -- he talks about several of his future projects in what follows. I thank him for his patience both in waiting for me to start asking questions again, and the fact that so many of my questions as to what he does in comics and why were so basic and straight-forward. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Dale, I'm not aware of you at all before you worked with Steve MacIsaac on Sticky. What's your background in terms of writing and publishing? Where did your interest in comics arise?

DALE LAZAROV: I'd been reading comics since I could remember but since I tend to be, as a writer, not really attuned to what paying comics opportunities want, I never tried really hard to write for comics. That's not to say I don't love graphic novels about self-loathing Charlie Brown-manque protagonists or this week's serialized variation on Kid Miracleman on a rampage. But I am certain that if I were given the opportunity to write in either mode I would not produce something that would meet the expectations of the audience. Having talked to agents who want graphic novels for the book market, they want the former in nonfiction form, and looking at what local comic retailers sell, they want the latter. I do have an idea for a parody of a Charlie Brown-manque novel but the difficulty for placing it, because it won't be non-fiction, and the fact that only a handful of people would get it dissuades me from writing it even though I have an illustrator semi-interested in it.

I'd been publishing literary short fiction for the past 20 years or so, as a writer and and editor, by the time Steve and I met online. About a year or so after we became pen pals, I had a short story collection come out that Steve read and liked so he asked me to write for him. I'd also had brief stints in book selling and book marketing so I had that to bring to the table, too. It's my dumb luck that Steve asked me to write for him and what I wrote for him -- wordless, carnal, sweet slice-of-life gay erotic comics -- was something that appealed to both my now-publisher and other collaborators looking to draw gay porn comics. I had no idea I had it in me.

I am not writing gay erotic comics at the moment -- I just started writing and publishing poetry in the past year -- but it's safe to say that I should have five more chic hardcovers of gay comics filth out by 2015; they're all written, and artists are slowly working through the pages or completing other projects as I write. If I write any more it will depend on the interest of my current and possible future collaborators as well as improved publishing conditions for myself; I would love to have my own imprint at a publisher so I don't have to worry about, say, the inconstancy of editorial policies. Right now I am focusing on having enough poems for a book so I am not writing comics for the time being. That's not to say that if someone really awesome, after reading this interview, asked me to write for them, I wouldn't make time for it. But I am not being aggressive about looking for collaborators or other publishing opportunities at the moment.

SPURGEON: One thing on which I'm unclear and in which I'm interested is that I have no sense of the market into which your comic would be sold. Who buys your comics and where do they buy them?

LAZAROV: Bruno Gmunder Verlag, my German gay art book publisher, says that most of their books sell online; given that I can go to online booksellers in Argentina, Italy, Poland, India and Japan and see Manly and Sticky listed, I would say they certainly do their homework with online booksellers. They are distributed to bookstores internationally, though, since they're marketed as art books and not comics. Here in North America, high-end, erotica-friendly comic stores like Chicago Comics, or big city independent bookstores like Books, Inc in San Francisco (which has a long-standing end cap with my books! Yay!), plus still-vital gay bookstore chains like Lambda Rising, carry my books. I helped Gmunder get Manly carried by Borders and InsightOut (the LGBT division of Quality Paperback Book Club) so there's room to grow, too.

Independent bookstores and comics book stores with "family friendly" hang-ups won't carry them. Diamond-only comic stores have no access to my books; Steve asked Gmunder to distribute through Diamond but that didn't work out.

SPURGEON: Have any of the markets changed in a way that you've noticed since you've been doing comics?

LAZAROV: I am only judging from my very limited perspective. I can tell you that gay literature is really dead right now; I have friends that say that book editors look like someone has placed a rotting fish on their desk when they see a literary gay-themed novel in front of them. Gmunder's expanded their gay comics offerings in the past five years. Make of that what you will.

If anything, gay culture has shifted away from its more traditional highbrow desires if one judges by the books that see print. Comics for me is a happy medium (pun unintended) because I can do a work that feels like pulp but aspires to be art and the audience either doesn't notice its pretentions or loves them.

imageSPURGEON: Am I right in assuming that the wordless nature of the book is in the hopes of reaching different language markets without the chore of translation?

LAZAROV: Absolutely. Silent gay erotic comics have been around since the days of Tom of Finland, though, so there's a precedent for it, too.

SPURGEON: Did the decision to do wordless stories with Manly change how you approached them in any way? Was it more difficult for you?

LAZAROV: I have to say that it's easier for me not to have to write cheesy porn dialogue. I can imagine a page and a story visually so that's not a problem for me and I can't seem to run out of ideas for silent gay erotic comics in general. My biggest problem is that I am an ambitious writer so I shitcan lots of writing if I don't think it's doing something new for me and/or the genre. I love to figure out new ways to subtextually sneak in emotional and progressively ideological content into what should at first glance look like hot, finely-crafted gay comics filth. I usually look to previous scripts for ideas that I could develop more overtly in another book; Nightlife, drawn by Bastian Jonsson and out next fall, is set in gay nightlife but it's not overtly about how community has an impact on relatedness and sexuality. I can so write a book about exactly that as a subtextual theme underneath the fornications. Darn, now I have to find an artist for it.

SPURGEON: What did you learn during the experience of collaborating on Sticky that you took into this collaboration with Amy Colburn?

LAZAROV: I learned that comics is not curing cancer and upsets are ephemeral. This gives me incredible patience, enthusiasm, confidence and resilience as a creator, collaborator and editor. I didn't have that when I worked with Steve, as I had been spoiled by literary publishing.

Say, Nightlife started production a year before Manly and it's coming out a year after Manly. It's gone through four colorists. Gmunder rejected it when I first showed them a story about two years ago.

SPURGEON: Have you worked in collaboration with folks outside of comics?

LAZAROV: Nope. Every once in a while I get an inkling to write a small black-box theatre play but then I go and see one and I am cured of the desire for a few years.

SPURGEON: How do you script? Full description? Marvel-style? Did you write differently for Manly?

LAZAROV: I write full scripts for everyone I collaborate with. The scripts are very specific about what I want to see and in the sequence I want to see it but I leave the rest to the artist. The artist knows that ultimately following the story beats is what's required so they have some leeway to, say, add panels to a page. Colorists also get to throw something in if they want to; Yann Duminil has thrown in some awesome, unexpected details in his coloring of Nightlife.

Since I edit the art also I get to tell the artists if their interpretation of the script doesn't quite work narratively or visually; after character designs are finalized, some artists show me layouts and then draw full pages. Some want me to look at their blue line pencils before they ink, too.

image

SPURGEON: What do you think appeals to the folks buying it about your work to want it in paper form, in the comic book format? I know that some comics with nudity and sex have found themselves absolutely buried by the widespread availability of related and unrelated material on-line. How do you make the Internet a tool to sell the print work and not force the two into competition?

LAZAROV: I may be a pollyanna, but I believe the quality of the work I collaborate on is so palpable and distinctive that it stands out amongst the millions of homoerotic renderings of anime characters everywhere present. It's really easy to use the internet to market the comics hardcovers because, even if one out of ten people who see page samples buy it, that one person is extremely easy to reach because there are so many venues for posting page samples. Say. women who like gay erotica buy my books because I know where to find them online and market to them; they're heavily networked and word of mouth really drives their purchases.

I think that the fetish for fine art hardcover editions of filth is a powerful one, too. The format has a profound impact on how the work is seen and how it's valued. Samuel R. Delany tells me he keeps Sticky and Manly on his coffee table and I could not be more delighted by his appreciation.

Floppies are a dead medium for this genre, as far as I am concerned; bookstores won't carry them and very few comic stores carry even mildly gay comics regardless of their quality. If you have to serialize erotic comics, do it online... My book publisher says that as long as one story is new to the book they don't mind online serialization.

SPURGEON: You're in Chicago as I recall, which has one of America's great gay and lesbian communities in addition to being one of the traditionally comics-strong metropolitan areas. Is there any specific local reaction to what you do?

LAZAROV: Chicago is strong for theatre and performance poetry for both creators and consumers. Comics? For creators, nope. It's inexpensive to live here if you are an artist but there's no real sense of open, fluid community; it's a very cocooned social network. For example, the Firecracker Award folks, who I would think would be all over Sticky or Manly, said to me, when I e-mailed them about sending them galleys, that they won't consider books that aren't suggested by people they know.

That said, I know lots of Chicago webcomics people who have embraced me as an equal and embraced everyone I brought to the parties. Otherwise, my comics friends are outsiders or transplants of one kind or another.

There is no local erotic art festival, either. The one time there was a small (read: non-Wizard) comics con I was unable to interest them in having a gay comics panel even though the convention was held at the LGBT Center on Halsted and several of its officers are as gay as Christmas geese. I know and like these folks so I guess their local artist/superhero-dominant focus determined the programming.

In the meantime, the gay mafiosi at Angouleme are fans but I am waiting to have more books out before I make the trip over there. My mother used to say you can't be a prophet in your own country. As I like to say, I am world-famous in San Francisco but I can't get arrested in Chicago.

I am happy to report that nearly everyone except the two major newspapers in Chicago have done a story on me and/or my comics, though.

image

SPURGEON: One thing I found interesting about the works in Manly is that there's a consistent tenderness involved; the book positive to the point of being upbeat. Would you agree with that assessment? Is that something you were conscious in pursuing?

LAZAROV: Absolutely; the generosity of spirit is by design. I hate meanness and cruelty in gay porn. Also, gay media does not need more representations of emotionally disconnected sex. I aspire to be like my favorite gay artists, like Pet Shop Boys, who aspire to produce work that make gay men feel less alienated from themselves and from each other.

Erotica is ultimately about representing the aspirations of their audience. Tenderness is an aspirational quality as much as manliness is and they are not mutually exclusive. If anything, I want to expand rather than limit the possibilities and aspirations for interaction and fulfillment between gay guys.

SPURGEON: What do you think is the basis of that tenderness as it reveals itself in your stories? Is it love? Mutual affection? Kindness? Charity? Self-reflection? Is it a share quality in your stories, or do the characters come at that trait from different places?

LAZAROV: All of those and empathy, compassion, playfulness, non-judgmentalism, affection, fraternity, etc, etc. And bukkake.

There are all kinds of gay relationships and some of them only last twenty minutes in a dark movie theatre but all of them can be life affirming. I always leave things open ended for the characters to continue past the stories in the readers' imaginations unless they're already partnered (like "Kindly Woodsmen" in Fancy or "After Hours" in Nightlife) or the point of the story requires me to show them developing something more long term (like "Hot Librarian" in Manly).

image

SPURGEON: How much were you involved in determining page design? How conscious were you of making the page work as a unit in addition to provide solid panel to panel transition in order to move your story along?

LAZAROV: I visualize the page in my head and write a script that describes how the panels follow each other and either end in a panel that gives the page a sense of either suspended closure (like it's the end of a paragraph) or asks the reader to flip the page to see what happens next. I stick to describing moments of action and behavior unless I specifically require something in the framing to be placed or presented in a certain way. I always state what should be a larger panel for emphasis, what panel should be closer to a particular action, how the sequence of panels represent an action, etc.

SPURGEON: Whose decision was it to drop background during the sex scene? Was that on purpose, and if so, to what effect? Was it to bring more focus onto the figures, the bodies?

LAZAROV: It depends on the artist. Most of them drop backgrounds as it's more common for action-oriented comics to choose when the setting is important for the choice of framing and choice of moment and when it's indifferent. Hey, it worked for Tezuka!

imageSPURGEON: One of your on-line homes mentions that you'd like to write both an alternative comics drama and a run of Legion of Super-Heroes comics in addition to the work you're doing now. What do you find appealing about the Legion characters?

LAZAROV: I love the idea of teenage-to-college-age superheroes in the future striving to make the world better even though they are volatile teenage-to-college-age superheroes in a practical utopia. There's something nutty and lovable about this premise; when I was a kid, the idea of ice creams of many worlds just branded me for whimsicality.

SPURGEON: How close are we to seeing Fancy in print form? Has that been a different experience for you, putting together something that was initially published on-line?

LAZAROV: The only difference is that Delic delivered a page a week for months without a break. His productivity is awesome.

Right now, I am waiting for Gmunder to change their mind about fantasy-based comics and pitch it to them again. They now have a new policy on page length, too, so we will have to cut out the wrap-around, thankfully not yet drawn fourth story of the book (the book was originally written to be 120 pages). We won't publish the third story online as they said a reprint of a webcomic was OK if the book had one new story in it; Delic needs to finish the third story, too, but he has been up to his neck with a commercial project that has ballooned out of proportion. I have tried to find other publishers for it that are equivalent to Gmunder but haven't been able to get a nibble from any of them.

SPURGEON: After Fancy and I guess Nightlife, what then?

LAZAROV: Nightlife comes out next fall. Fancy might be next in publishing order. Chums is 1/3rd done. Power Pop Boys will be drawn by Mioki but he's currently finishing the sequel to his very popular Side By Side. I have an artist attached to Greek Love but he's currently busy with his day job and cheerleading duties. Amy and I want to do Manly 2 but I want Nightlife to come out before I write it. I am open to doing more gay erotic comics hardcovers but for the moment I am working on poems.

*****

* all art from Manly except for second piece, which is from Sticky, and that awesome Legion pin-up by Curt Swan

*****

* Manly, Dale Lazarov and Amy Colburn, Bruno Gmunder Verlag, hardcover, 3861878879 (ISBN10), 9783861878872 (ISBN13), 80 pages, 2008, $28.99.

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #168—Cover Me

On Friday, CR readers were asked, "Name Five Specific Serial Comic Book Covers You Think Are Genuinely Pleasing To The Eye, No Matter What The Insides Are Like." This is how they responded.

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Little Lulu #165
2. Weird Science-Fantasy #25
3. Bad Girls #3
4. Pickle #5
5. Tantalizing Stories #3

*****

image

Jamie S. Rich

1. X-Factor (vol. 1) #13
2. Dark Horse Presents #130
3. Grendel (Comico) #4
4. Shade the Changing Man #33
5. Phaze #1

*****

image

J. Schwind

* Dell Four Color 290: The Chief
* HA HA Comics 94
* Art & Beauty 2
* Best Buy
* 1963 Book 6

*****

image

Scott Dunbier

* Wonder Woman #199 by Jeff Jones
* Two-Fisted Tales #25 by Harvey Kurtzman
* Famous Funnies #213 by Frank Frazetta
* Kamandi #1 by Jack Kirby
* Strange Adventures #207 by Neal Adams

*****

image

Douglas Wolk

1. Cerebus #30
2. The Flash #286
3. Zot! #8
4. I Love You #95
5. Moon Knight (1980 series) #24

*****

image

Uriel A. Duran

1) Fables #8
2) Street Angel #3
3) Vampirella (Morning In America) #1
4) Nightmares and Fairytales #9
5) Santo, La Leyenda De Plata #1

*****

image

Leif Jones

* Batman: The Doom that Came to Gotham #1 (Mike Mignola)
* Concrete: Think Like a Mountain #1 (Geof Darrow)
* Doctor Zero #3 (Kevin Nowlan)
* Fables #43 (James Jean)
* Hellblazer #27 (Dave McKean)

*****

image

Cameron Bogue

1. The Mighty Thor #337
2. Fantastic Four #258
3. The Avengers #277
4. Uncanny X-Men #243
5. Machine Man (1984 mini-series) #1

*****

image

Don MacPherson

* Starman #29
* Nova #22
* Planetary #10
* Promethea #23
* Alias #1

*****

image

Danny Ceballos

1. Yummy Fur #4
2. Silver Surfer #1
3. Love and Rockets #11
4. King-Cat Comics & Stories #38
5. Dirty Plotte #1

*****

image

Buzz Dixon

1 - All-Star Superman #1
2 - Cerebus #34
3 - Bone #2
4 - Betty and Veronica #1
5- Fantastic Four #49

*****

image

John McCorkle

* Heavy Metal November 1980
* Ken Parker #54
* Uncanny X-Men #211
* Young Magazine Vol. 30 #28
* Excalibur #43

*****

image

Christopher Duffy

* Little Lulu #16
* Raggedy Ann + Andy #12
* Four Color #175
* Four Color #369
* Four Color #729

*****

image

Adam Casey

1. Temporary #2
2. Runaways (vol. 2) #18
3. All-Star Superman #1
4. Goon #9
5. Captain Marvel Adventures #18

*****

image

Grant Goggans

1. 2000 AD #485
2. 2000 AD #1131
3. Fantastic Four #85
4. Love & Rockets # 26
5. Starman #7

*****

image

Christopher Duffy

* A Nick Magazine
* A Nick Magazine
* A Nick Magazine
* A Nick Magazine
* A Nick Magazine

*****

image

James Langdell

1. New Mutants Annual #2
2. The Balloon Vendor
3. Neil the Horse Comics and Stories #7
4. Hepcats #8
5. Aztec Ace #3

*****

image

Tom Bondurant

1. New Teen Titans vol. 1 #39 (February 1984)
2. Justice League International vol. 1 #8 (December 1987)
3. Detective Comics #472 (September 1977)
4. Captain America #109 (January 1969)
5. Superman #14 (January-February 1942)

*****

image

Andrew Mansell

1. DC 100 Page Super Spectacular #6
2. Crossfire #12
3. Kings in Disguise #1
4. Groo #16
5. Love and Rockets #24

*****

image

Fred Hembeck

* Dennis The Menace Giant #6 (Christmas)
* Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #3
* Bat Lash #2
* Tales Calculated To Drive You Bats #1
* Shadows From Beyond #50

*****

image

Mark Coale

1. Animal Man 25
2. American Flagg 30
3. Justice League 195
4. Starman (1994) 30
5. Doom patrol (1987) 22

*****

the links that were provided by the contributors are their fault if they're broke, any broke links I did are the fault of the contributors that didn't send me any

*****
*****
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Paul Kupperberg!

image
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 37th Birthday, Jamie Cosley!

image
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Cosey!

image
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 65th Birthday, Jordi Bernet!

image
 
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

I don't know what's wrong with the economy and I don't know why the newspaper industry has collapsed, but I'm guessing the fact that my paperboy drives a $55,000 sports car has a little bit to do with both.
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 13, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade




 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Next Week In Comics-Related Events

June 17
image

June 18
image
image
image

June 19
image
image

June 20
image
image
image

June 21
image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from June 6 to June 12, 2009:

1. 2000 AD stalwart Ron Smith acquitted on all charges he acted improperly in a relationship with a teenage girl in the 1980s.

2. The 2009 MoCCA Festival ends with several exhibitors expressing concern about its administration.

3. February's Sean Delonas chimp cartoon leads media giant News Corp. to create diversity advisory board.

Winner Of The Week
Ron Smith

Loser Of The Week
MoCCA

Quote Of The Week
"It is probably fair to say that he is the only cartoonist in the world currently working with the medium of blood." -- Bart Beaty on Michael Matthys

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In MN, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Ohio, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Register For This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Damien Jay!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Kris Dresen!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, Frank Cirocco!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* James C. Langdell on The New Seth Interview and John Cage's Indeterminacy (6/7/09)
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 12, 2009


Yet Another Staffer Leaves Wizard?

If it's Friday, it must be one of those Wizard employee departure rumors on which it's largely impossible to hear back official word but have been 100 percent correct so far. Anyway, today's word is that Hassan Godwin, who worked in the accounting department -- at least at one point as credit manager -- and who came to Wizard from Acclaim, may be the latest person let go by the employ-shedding entertainment company, and that this change in status is reflected in his Facebook updates. Godwin might have been according to my staff chart with lines in it the last or near the last person in accounting, which gives a boost to rumors that Wizard has outsourced elements of its business.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Ron Smith Not Guilty, All Charges

At least that's the initial word via a surge of e-mail citing both personal knowledge and seeing it via twitter updates. It's now beginning its roll-out on the UK press scene, such as this article here.

Smith, a cartoonist whose career stretches back to the late 1940s and who is primarily known as a foundational Judge Dredd artist, had been accused of assault and rape in the 1980s by a woman then in her teens. He flatly denied the charges and any and all implications of same during testimony yesterday. He was facing a total of nine charges.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
News Corp Forming Diversity Advisory Council, Partly In Reaction To Sean Delonas Chimp Cartoon

imageNews organizations are linking the formation of an outside advisory council on matters of race by News Corp. to the publication in February of a cartoon by that company's New York Post that some community leaders thought equated President Barack Obama with a chimpanzee. Initial complaints ranging from a call for firing cartoonist Sean Delonas to having Congress review the company's ability to own multiple media outlets in a single market led to a meeting May 19 on the matter between subordinate members of various groups and the media company. Their solution was an expansion of a program News Corp. has already used in Los Angeles and Chicago. The advice offered will apparently not only include coverage issues but hiring policies at the company -- members will not be paid, nor will contributions to the various groups be part of the agreement to serve.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Three More Psychiatric Ward Cartoons By Darryl Cunningham

image
image
image

hey, agents: 200 pages of these would make a fine book for some issues-centered NY comics publisher, a book of that sort I'd actually want to read
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Dan Nadel On PictureBox Subscriptions

Dan Nadel of PictureBox talks to Chris Mautner about the subscription model he's using for two books from his company featuring artists with more of a devoted fan base. There are no real answers to the general questions of how this model reflects the company's overall health that doesn't involve opening the books and, probably, listing Nadel's personal financial details down to the last dollar. Also, any model that leads to more books of this high quality is a good thing. There aren't any rules when it comes to this stuff, and most of them have been broken already. Anyway, it's a solid piece on an interesting subject and you should read it.

I'm additionally happy to hear details about Art Out Of Time 2, as I greatly enjoyed the first one. Unfortunately for the argument Nadel asserts, it could be the best book ever and I'd still think it was weird and slightly unseemly if he jumped on-line to review similar archival projects.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
41 Days Until Comic-Con International

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Warm Moments And Minor Glitches

Okay, I can't help but point out a few more things from MoCCA 2009, the link-blog gift that keeps giving. One thing I can't deny is that there's been more potent writing and compelling first-person coverage about/of this show than any in memory:

* D&Q's flickr set has a few great photos that didn't make it into anyone's con report, including this video footage from a house party. I also stole the set's name for this post's title.

* ground zero for this year's run of "wow, that was unpleasant" testimony, Evan Dorkin responds to some of his critics and addresses what he feels is an odd situation of pre-selling tables for a show that hasn't been scheduled yet when there are penalties for backing out.

* Pat Lewis recommends work he got from female creators.

* a hearty Son of the South with no heat complaints, Ed Sizemore at Comics Worth Reading offers up a lengthy report that I liked because it had a couple of points that no one else mentioned: there was no place to sit down, and some of the comics cost too much.

* finally, Richard Wylfin made walk-through videos:




 
posted 8:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: MoCCA Festival 2009

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Austin, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Horror By Krigstein

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Markku Huovila

image

it takes a minute to load, but there's a bunch of nice illustration work
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Gay Thirties

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Zim Course Books

image
 
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there isn't much to this supposed "special report" at Editor & Publisher on the dire job prospects facing editorial cartoonists -- it's surveyish, and not in a good way -- but it certainly is extra-bleak.

image* I don't know about you, but I plan on celebrating next week's Winsor McCay Day by waking up in a tangle of sheets on the floor next to my bed having just endured a frightening battery of nightmares. So nothing special.

* over at Bleeding Cool they're tracking an Internet tussle between John Byrne and Erik Larsen over events of 15 and more years ago. In related news, Peter David's republication of old CBR columns is deep into some of the things he wrote about Image at that time.

* so in shutting down Marvel's Ultimate universe, I guess they're bringing the stories of various characters to an end, which in comic book terms means killing them. I see thing like this snippet of that line's Dr. Strange buying it and it strikes me how boring most of those variations were, how solid in comparison the 1960s Marvel stuff was and how it seems like a good thing that the former group is going away.

* speaking of which, there's probably something semi-profound to say about the notion that Marvel reverses all of its major storytelling decisions over time and whether or not it's to the benefit of those characters and stories, but I'm not the one to do it.

* there are a bunch of funny, cutting lines in this review round-up.

* finally, I like this headline because it makes you think for a split second that Rob Liefeld and President Obama are working together.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Len Wein!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
History
Love The Headline, Didn't Read The Article
New New Batman, Same As The Old New Batman

Industry
On Comics Journalism And Swipe Files

Interviews/Profiles
Pulse: Chris Arrant
CBR: David Glanzer
CBR: Bill Willingham
Inkstuds: Dave Lapp
Inkstuds: Carol Tyler
See and Hear Carol Tyler
Panel Borders: Shaun Tan
Newsarama: Nick Barrucci
The Southern: Gail Simone
Blizz Planet: Simon Furman
Newsarama: Molly Crabapple
CBR: Gene Luen Yang, Derek Kirk Kim

Not Comics
#5 Really Needs To Be Yamato
Book Publishing: Still Very Gross
Jackie Kessler Wants Your Advice
Greatest Photo Ever Or Greatest. Photo. Ever.?

Publishing
A Gallery Of Vertigo Covers
I'm Looking Forward To This One
He Doesn't Understand DC Comics
Gahan Wilson Collection Previewed
Please Publish This Awesome Comic
Parker, Lieber Mark Final Days Of Friendship
Are We Going To Read Webcomics On A Dedicated E-Reader?

Reviews
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Mark Allen: Mary Jane #1-4
Richard Bruton: Harker #1-2
Koppy McFad: The Flash: Rebirth #3
Leroy Douresseaux: Slam Dunk Vol. 4
Greg McElhatton: Chicken Without Plums
J. Caleb Mozzocco: The Ultimates Vol. 3 #4
Sarah Morean: The Colorblind Art Teacher #2
Henry Chamberlain: Scarlett Takes Manhattan
Andy Risk: Miss America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1
 

 
June 11, 2009


Go, Look: Spiegelman In The Guardian

image

profile by Angelique Chrisafis; slideshow from newly-published sketchbooks
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Dave Simons, 1954-2009

image

The well-liked, long-time comics and animation artist Dave Simons passed away on June 9 after a long battle with cancer. He was 54 years old.

Simons was a native of New York. He began drawing as a child with an eye towards one day becoming a comic book artist. He served in the US Coast Guard and began formal art studies upon his release from those responsibilities. Simons training included attending the art workshops featuring Marvel Comics anchor artist John Buscema, where Simons made contacts, improved his craft and scored his first professional gigs.

imageSimons first found comics work with Marvel in the late 1970s, and quickly settled into a 'tweener role as both a pencil artist and as an inker. Among the high-profile artists with whom Simons worked as inker were Frank Miller, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, John Romita Jr. and Walt Simonson. He also took up pencils for a variety of Marvel titles, both interiors and cover art. Simons was a key player in an early-'80s attempt to revive interest in Marvel's Ghost Rider character, teaming first with Don Perlin and later with Bob Budiansky. That run of comics was later cited as inspiration for a more sustained and successful revival in the early 1990s.

Like many artists of his generation, Simons put in time with both big mainstream companies, working for DC in the 1990s on titles such as Dragonlance and Deathstroke the Terminator. He would later express fondness for working with Rags Morales on DC's Forgotten Realms effort. In the latter phase of his professional life, much of Simons work came from animation, providing storyboards to various shows including Captain Planet and Masters of the Universe. After being diagnosed with cancer, Simons also became a considerable presence on-line, interacting with fans of his work and drawing commissions.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Eisner Awards Voting Ends On Monday

imageJackie Estrada has sent word out to remind everyone that the deadline to vote in this year's Eisner Awards is this Monday, June 15. Those eligible to vote -- and you can find a ballot right here -- includes comics creators, all nominees in any category, publishers and editors, and owners and managers of comic book specialty retail stores. Since they failed to specifically mention that imaginary staffers of on-line comics magazines aren't allowed to vote, I join CR editors Red Nagurski, Janet McKillip and Tyler Swetnam as we all breathe a hearty sigh of relief (don't worry; they voted for Jonah). I encourage everyone eligible to vote for the Eisners; next to Legion of Super-Heroes chairman, it's the best thing you can vote for in comics.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Connor Willumsen Blog

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Maybe The Last MoCCA Round-Up

A few quick ones:

* I continued to get the exhibitor thank you note forwarded to me from incredulous recipients into yesterday evening, although a couple of those folks were kind enough to suggest that maybe the initial letter wasn't the place to address exhibitor concerns.

* I'm not the king of comics gossip or anything -- the site kind of limits where I can be invited and I devote several hours of every weekday I could be e-mailing with pals to transcribing Star Trek fan films onto Usenet -- but I'll take a stab at something and note that the tenor of chatter I was in on this week moved from "I can't believe the weekend" on Monday to, by late last night, intense speculation on the role of the MoCCA Festival in MoCCA's larger plans and the long-term likeliness and necessity of a marriage between that organization and New York's small press show. I think this further suggests that the museum would do well to deal directly with the various concerns raised, maybe starting with table price. I don't think there's a time-clock on it or anything, but I do think there will be lingering questions until they're engaged. If they're engaged.

* finally, the real reason I wanted to post this is to draw attention to a few considerable con reports: here's a great one by Tom Devlin at Drawn and Quarterly that reminds us how MoCCA takes place in the context of wonderful New York City, and a just-as-good one by D&Q's Jessica Campbell with more of a show focus; Big Time Attic's report gives you some insight on what it's like to be an emerging cartoonist (Kevin Cannon) with new work to show off; the report at Vice shows some great pics from Alvin Buenaventura's pass-around sketchbook; Johanna Draper Carlson provides another reference point on the show from someone whose general take on things is well known; here's a lengthy and highly-personalized report from someone I've never read, which is one of the great things about searching them out.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gabriel Schemoul

image

warning: music
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Munich, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Alex Nino

image
 
posted 7:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sean T. Collins’ David Bowie Sketchbook Adds From MoCCA 2009

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: It Could Be You

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The House On The Hill

image

Vic Carrabotta is one of the best names
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's the programming schedule for Heroes Con, and here's the Jeff Smith-related programming schedule for Heroes Con, including the interesting tidbit that there will be a screening of the recent documentary about Smith.

image* while I assume that we'll be reading several enthusiastic raves for David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp release from Pantheon, I imagine that few of them will come from those spearheading a publishing line of their own.

* the writer Mark Evanier digs up a YouTube uploading of one of the better Stan Lee television interviews. I watched a bunch of these at one point, for like a day and a half straight, and I remember the two things I always found interesting was how Lee talked about material that he didn't develop, and how he dealt with semi-hostile or dismissive questions. I think we get the former here but not the latter.

* Warren Ellis on process.

* Souther Salazar on John Porcellino.

* I thought it had already been announced that Chip Kidd is writing some Batman comics. Probably not, though. Those could be fun.

* worst contest requirements ever.

* comics consumer advocate Johanna Draper Carlson suggests that maybe instead of fixing everything else about comics, people should try to do what they already do, just better.

* here's a couple of updates from people who know stuff I didn't. James Langdell writes in to say that the little artbooks mentioned by Dave McKean in a recent French-language comics industry interview are the same ones offered for sale by Allan Spiegel Fine Arts. Dave Knott says the Sleeper books a box of which Sean Phillips could be seen unloading are 12-issue collections from that series to replace the frequently out of print smaller editions that used to be offered. That's good news, especially for fans of Criminal that are now working their way backwards into like books by Ed Brubaker.

* finally, the cartoonist and prominent blogger Mike Lynch wonders after the question of how much due diligence should one do to make sure a gag is original. I never thought about this before, but it seems like this would be a huge concern if you were selling gags individually.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Andrei Molotiu!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Laurent Lolmede!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 27th Birthday, Joe Keatinge!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
FBI At BEA 02
Go See Zander And Kevin

History
Why There Aren't More Black Super-Villains

Interviews/Profiles
Scott Nickel: Pab Sungenis
CBR: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning

Not Comics
Beam Me Up, St. Peter

Publishing
How To Sell Your Small Press Comic

Reviews
Russ Burlingame: Final Crisis
Robert Stanley Martin: Sinner
Richard Bruton: The Eternal Smile
Hervé St-Louis: Dark Avengers #5
Sean T. Collins: The Gigantic Robot
Hervé St-Louis: New Avengers #53
Leroy Douresseaux: Slam Dunk Vol. 4
Michael C. Lorah: Batman: Going Sane
Hervé St-Louis: The Mighty Avengers #25
J. Caleb Mozzocco: The Ultimates Vol. 3 #3
Hervé St-Louis: New Avengers: The Reunion #4
Greg McElhatton: Essential Dykes To Watch Out For
 

 
June 10, 2009


Dave Simons, RIP

image
 
posted 9:34 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

image

* top ten North American comic shop The Beguiling has available for sale an English-language version of the very funny (see above) Nouveaux moments cles de l'histoire de la Bande Dessinee by Francois Ayroles that they released at TCAF this year. You should want one; it's a good book.

* the writer Brigid Alverson has word of the latest volumes of two ADV orphans, Aria and Tactics.

* I almost missed this: Calvin Reid profiles the Archaia Studios comeback.

* this interview with Dave McKean discusses a series of paintings as travel books he's done that maybe haven't been seen over here -- well, I haven't seen them -- and various asides made here and there that he's working on a long graphic novel project called Caligaro.

image* I didn't attend the MoCCA Festival last weekend, but Fanfare/Ponent Mon did for the first time, with resulting insight as to their forthcoming publishing plans. That includes A Distant Neighborhood Vol. 1 by the great Jiro Taniguchi and The Summit of the Gods Vol. 1 by Baku and Taniguchi, both of which should have been sent to press this week, and word that they are delaying The Times of Botchan Vol. 4.

* a lot of folks have picked up on that Summit press release. Here's another one.

* the final issue of the comic series Planetary will ship in October, its artist says.

* the Mice Templar series will return this summer with a new art team.

*at last May's BEA in New York, a panel of librarians chose a list of "Hot Fall Graphic Novels." While I never quite know what "hot" means and the librarian's taste is rarely my own -- the sublime Alec omnibus doesn't seem like it sits comfortably next to a GI Joe book, even if I imagine the greatest GI Joe comic ever made -- the list can give you an idea of a certain kind of book that's coming out for the season. The selections are:
Kids Titles
* Binky the Space Cat, Ashley Spires, 9781554533091, Kids Can Press, Ages 7-10
* Sticky and Burr #2: The Prickly Peril, John Lechner, 9780763645809, Candlewick Press
* Little Mouse Gets Ready, Jeff Smith, 9781935179016, Raw Junior LLC
* Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francois Mouly, 9780810957305, Abrams ComicArts
* The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, Eleanor Davis, 9781599903965, Bloomsbury
* Fairy Idol Kanon, Mera Hakamada, Udon Entertainment

Tween
* Cat Burglar Black, Richard Sala, 9781596431447, First Second
* Crogan's March, Chris Schweizer, 9781934964248, Oni Press
* Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood, Tony Lee and Sam Hart, 9780763643997, Candlewick Press
* SMILE, Raina Telgemeier, 9780545-13205-3, Scholastic
* The Storm in the Barn, Matt Phelan, 9780-7636-3618-0, Candlewick Press
* Tegumi Bachi: Letter Bee, Hiroyuki Asada, VIZ Media

Teen
* Black Jack Vol. 7, Osamu Tezuka, 9781-934287-60-6, Vertical
* Charles Darwin's on The Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation, Michael Keller, 9781605296975, Rodale Books
* Moyasimon, Masayuki Ishikawa, 9780-345-51472-1, Del Rey
* Star Trek: Mission's End, Ty Templeton and Stephen Molnar, 9781600105401, IDW
* The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, Way and Ba, 9781-59582-345-8, Dark Horse
* The Vietnam War: A Graphic History, Dwight Zimmerman, 9780-8090-9495-0, Hill and Wang
* Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You, Karuho Shiina, VIZ Media

Adult Titles
* Ball Peen Hammer, Adam Rapp and George O'Connor, 9781596433007, First Second
* Ooku: The Inner Chamber, Yoshinaga, 9781421527475, VIZ Media
* Bob Dylan Revisited, various, 9780-393-07617-2, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
* Alec: The Years Have Pants (A Life-Sized Omnibus), Eddie Campbell, Top Shelf Productions
* G.I. Joe: Origins, Larry Hama, IDW Publishing, Age 18 and up
* Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, Steve Ditko, Edited by Blake Bell, Fantagraphics, 9781606992890
* Stitches: A Memoir, David Small, 9780-393-06857-3, W.W. Norton & Co
* West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchee, 9781-60699-295-1, Fantagraphics
* I'm not certain which iteration of Sleeper Sean Phillips has in this box here, but if a new edition is coming out and you don't have one and you like superheroes in a way that allows you to enjoy somber treatments of same, you should want one.

* a collection of The Rack, a webcomic by Kevin Church and Benjamin Birdie, is out now.

* in the middle of his piece on the MoCCA Festival, Tucker Stone lets drop that the line-up for this year's Halloween-themed Treehouse Of Horror Simpsons comic (#15) will include John Kerschbaum, Kevin Huizenga, Jordan Crane, Jeffrey Brown, C.F. and Dan Zettwoch. Yowza.

* finally, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a short preview of Titan Books' Fall 2009, including the next Simon and Kirby effort.

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read or Listen: Interview With Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb

image

Apparently they're guests at the Prague Writers' Festival, one of the more prominent festivals of that kind. There's nothing in the interview that couldn't have come up years ago, so I'm still a little cautious, but it seems new.
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Sun: Artist Ron Smith In Court On Trial For Rape And Assault Charges

imageThe Sun reports that Ron Smith, a veteran British comics artist who was one of the mainstays of the Judge Dredd feature in 2000 AD when that character and that publication were in their primes, is currently on trial for the rape and indecent assault of a 39-year-old woman when she was a teen. Smith, currently in his mid-eighties, entered into comics in the late 1940s but enjoyed his highest-profile work decades later with his lean and mostly non-stylized depiction of the unforgiving, futuristic lawman. Although never a top-level fan favorite and thus underutilized in the various collections that have come since, Smith contributed to a number of Dredd stories, including many of the long, seminal serials by which the character built and then maintained its iconic reputation. Smith was also the artist who produced the Dredd daily, in partnership with writer John Wagner. It is unknown how long the trial is expected to last; the article indicates that Smith maintains his innocence.

I'm slightly worried in that the article has the artist at age 80 rather even thought I believe the artist was born in 1924
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Final Few Notes On Mocca 2009

* Jog's two-part report (first part, second part) should be read by anyone interested in the festival as a place to interact with comics. Not only does Jog fully admit the purchase of great comics is his primary reason for attending, but he even uses the fact that he's in New York to grab some books he wouldn't be able to get otherwise. A really fun report.

* a few major news/editorial-style pieces: Tucker Stone's comprehensive (scene, feel, books, administrative) report, Heidi MacDonald's full post on the show, Kiel Phegley's news report at CBR, the official story at PW, and streaming audio of the Panter/Santoro panel.

* the cartoonist Julia Wertz articulates a point of view worth considering:
I'm so sick of all the whining about MoCCA all over the internet. It's New York in the summer, it's gonna be hot. How that is relevant to any of the work actually premiering at MoCCA is beyond me. All this complaining about the elements really undermines the whole concept of people getting together to celebrate this industry. Now we all just look like a bunch of whiney bitches.
The answer to that criticism is pretty easy, though.

First, it wasn't just the heat. The heat just sort of got the conversation rolling. There's a variety of complaints out there: the show was delayed, there was a lack of effective communication during this delay, the facility reportedly had one garbage can, some people were confused by who was an official volunteer from the show, some people were confused by a wrist/badge system that was sort of used and sort of not used, the web site and general on-line presence for the show leans towards the pitiful, many creators have had a difficult time even getting listed and feel disrespected as a result, and there's no evidence of local press coverage or efforts towards independent PR before or after this iteration. I know what it looks like when people in comics are being goofy and complaining that they miss some element of an experience out of pure nostalgia, or when they're just being whiny: this isn't it.

Second, Sean T. Collins puts it best when he points out that knowing it's hot in New York and that there's traffic isn't really an excuse, it's an admission that these things should be known about and prepared for.

Third, the default mode for comics people is to be exploited and happy about it. Many people have bent over backwards to be sympathetic towards the people running the show, and most people have repeated over and over again that they felt the show was successful. But if you're going to be the main cog in someone else's fundraiser, it's not whiny or bitchy to expect a minimum standard for how you're treated. It's human and it's exhibiting a collective self-worth through muscles that people in comics almost never bother flexing. I'm glad for it.

Fourth, Tucker Stone reminds us near the end of his piece that a really hot show isn't a minor matter.

* in the end, it looks like the initial reaction got pretty close to what happened: a mostly successful show for most people, some real concerns about issues ranging from the heat to basic administrative effectiveness, and a general feeling at least on my part that MoCCA might pay serious attention to these concerns or risk losing momentum on what seems like an effective fundraiser soaked in the goodwill of its participants. The thing that's funny to me is that as much as those involved love MoCCA the Festival, that affection doesn't always transfer to MoCCA the Museum and in some cases there's no affection for the organizers at all. If there's not some serious attention paid to some of these concerns, I don't think it would take much for someone to start a competing show in a just-as-good location (or the same one! or a better one!), with a decent web presence, some attention to press, tables that cost more in line with other shows and a tiny bit of the money generated going back to the exhibitors in terms of making them bare-minimum comfortable and wanted. In fact, I think it's primarily decorum that is keeping this from being a serious consideration right this very moment.

* update: the thank-you letter from Ellen Abramowitz to exhibitors doesn't mention any of the problems except as "warm moments and other minor glitches." That it's been forwarded to me by disappointed recipients seems to suggest this may have been the wrong expression at this time. Its body:
"The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art wants to thank all of you for making the MoCCA Festival 2009 such a tremendous success. Once again, MoCCA Fest brought together some of the best and brightest creators in the world of graphic novels, comics, and animation.

"MoCCA thanks each and every one of you for both your participation and help in making the event so much fun for all. While we all recognize there were some warm moments and other minor glitches, we at the MoCCA will continue to work to make things better each year.

"On behalf of MoCCA, I want to thank all of you for being a part of a terrific weekend."
I would expect this is not the last word on the issue.
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jorge Perez-Ruibal

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Turgut Demir Blog

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: The Cartoonist Spring 1960

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Analysis Of “The Burners” In Weird Mystery Tales #3

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I have no idea why they're doing period tribute covers at Marvel right now, and this would have annoyed me at 12, but I think it's kind of nice now.

* not comics: our condolences to Mike Manley on the loss of his cat, Scavee.

* this doesn't sound all that appealing, but if there's a Gorilla City out there in like Montana or something, please someone let me know.

* finally, Drawn and Quarterly has some photos up from their attendance at the Chicago Printers Row festival.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Charles Vess!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Jeff Newelt!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Scott McCloud!

image

I can't remember where I got this
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sam Henderson On Process
Sean Phillips Draws Wolverine
Dustin Weaver Draws Wolverine

Exhibits/Events
Go See Jeff Smith In Charlotte

Industry
Matt Maxwell On Various Topics

Interviews/Profiles
FPI Blog: Jay Eales
CBR: Kevin Cannon
Robot 6: Nate Powell
Arizona Star: Bill Mauldin
Scott Nickel: Peter Bagge

Not Comics
Brian Fies Is Making Bookplates
Can Anyone Help Darryl Cunningham?

Publishing
Lucy Knisley On Diets
ToonsWare App Preview
On Batman-Related Publishing Strategies

Reviews
Don MacPherson: Bayou
Chris Allen: Bleeding Cool
Koppy McFad: Jonah Hex #44
Nina Stone: Batman & Robin #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Ultimates Vol. 3 #2
Leroy Douresseaux: Brilliant Blue Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Chicken With Plums
Andrew Wheeler: The Collected Doug Wright Vol. 1
 

 
June 9, 2009


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

image

*****

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 give them a quick scan before shuffling to the next one, my Hulk slippers making a distinctive sound on the floor.

*****

APR090058 BPRD WAR ON FROGS #3 (OF 4) $2.99
APR090397 WALKING DEAD #62 (MR) $2.99
APR090588 CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 TP VOL 02 HELL COMES TO BIRMINGHAM $14.99
Two of the better-liked serial comics efforts going and a volume in the trade series reprinting issues from a recently-canceled second-tier superhero book that a lot of reviewers liked.

MAR098081 MUPPET SHOW #2 (OF 4) 2ND PRT $2.99
In case you missed it the first time around. This is one of those weeks where you just might find yourself looking for a couple of older comics you didn't catch the first time around.

APR090605 ESSENTIAL THOR TP VOL 04 $19.99
The transitional issues that go from Kirby to Adams (briefly) to Buscema, as Thor goes from maybe Marvel's best book to being one of the key books that marked the end of the Silver Age to slipping down to a comfortable place on the Marvel mid-card where it would stay until Beta Ray Bill jacked up the logo.

FEB090203 FINAL CRISIS HC $29.99
This already feels three years old.

*****

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, don't tell me: it'll make me sad.

*****

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Tom Crippen’s Golden Age Gallery At The Hooded Utilitarian

image
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Z-Cult FM Closing Down

I had totally missed the fact that one-time popular pirate site Z-Cult FM is undergoing a slow shut-down. Z-Cult FM was I believe one of the highest profile places where folks might gain access to free downloads of comics to then run afoul of Marvel and DC and their legal department, at least at the saber-rattling stage.

Glenn Hauman has pointed to this as a non-story -- and I'm sure many others will join him if they haven't already -- with the logic being that the legal threats and subsequent, eventual shut-down will not stop people the practice of people downloading free comics. The problem I have with this thinking is I'm not sure that anyone of serious import thought this would be the outcome, let alone said so in public. If they did, that was indeed stupid. But even then it's probably rhetoric about as useful and serious as these kinds of sites' occasional volleys of "I will die before I stop uploading what I want to upload" bullshit.

Anyway, I really doubt there was high-fiving and dancing in the DC or Marvel offices as the Ewok Yub Yub song played on the intercom. I doubt anyone even looked up. Without knowing for sure I would imagine there are countless reasons why legal pressure gets applied to a specific entity that likely doesn't involve as a goal ending the practice in its entirety: establishing precedents, testing legal strategies, frustrating newbies who might use a particular line of google searching, public relations, challenging a widespread principle, wanting to see that specific entity shut down -- and so on.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: James Jarvis Drawing Blog

image

via
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Few More Links On MoCCA 2009

Some extra links and worthy commentary on the MoCCA Arts Festival just past.

* the post of the day -- well, the post of the roughly 20-hour period since I went looking for MoCCA-related posts -- has to be this well-illustrated report of artists discussed by Frank Santoro and Gary Panter during their Sunday panel. I've heard all positives about the programming. That doesn't mean a negative appraisal isn't out there, I just haven't heard it.

* another post out there that should be considered is Evan Dorkin's longer explanation of problems he had with the festival, things like the vicious heat and fundamental lack of organization, thoughts he previously had made public through commenting on the initial post on the festival at The Beat. This is fairly brutal because I can attest to just how much Dorkin likes this festival. Dorkin brings up a variety of problems, and I think all of them should be considered. I think it also points out how much an uncomfortable show can make people stop and consider the show as a whole: irritating elements in terms of promotion and listing and on-site organization become more so when there isn't an overwhelming positive experience at the show itself to mitigate things. I think there's going to be some work to do in terms of convincing a certain kind of exhibitor that there is a better show to be had in future years.

* and while Evan Dorkin may be seen as a guy who complains about stuff, I don't think Dave Roman shares that reputation.

* speaking of the heat, someone said in an e-mail to me that they'd heard air conditioner rental would cost up to $18,000. That's a rumor-level figure about as certain as the message at the end of a game of Telephone, but it's worth mentioning as the cost of air conditioning that giant place with that many people running around is bound to be significant.

* in related analysis, the person with whom I had dinner last night noted that complaint about the prices of tables going up and complaints that the Festival can't afford air conditioning for their chosen venue may be related, depending on the organization's various strategies, so maybe we should wait before hammering them on the table prices going up until we know of their plans for the money.

* finally, this show report by Gary Tyrrell proves interesting in a couple of ways: the first as a mostly positive report that points out that many of those involved with the festival are brand new, the second for its focus on the show as enjoyed by webcomics artists.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: MoCCA 2009 Additions To Rickey Purdin’s Watchmen Sketchbook

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Philly, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Fremont Frog

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Alley Oop Exhibit Stuff

image

I don't know that I'd totally realized just how much stuff there is archived over at the University of Missouri in conjunction with their recent celebration of Alley Oop's 75th, including videos from the speakers. I don't think Alley Oop was in the pantheon of greatest strips ever, although plenty of people smarter than I am disagree with me on that. It's a blast to read, though, and certainly Hamlin carved space out of his two-dimensional platform more effectively than just about anyone ever to work in strips.
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Two By Bob Powell

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Beard And Baby Brother Visit The Grand Canyon

image

mom, skip this one
 
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* at first I was going to say I missed this interview with Tokyopop COO John Parker, but it turns out I didn't miss anything except for some general Fruits Basket figures -- the rest is pretty much generic corporate-speak.

image* go, look: super-cute panel from a tribute to Herge and other great world cartoonists in one of the Fantastic Four titles. (via)

* the writer, editor and cartoonist Shaenon Garrity discusses five cartoonists who are also book illustrators of meaning to her. There are a couple of standard choices and a couple of surprises. All this talk of kids books recently makes me wish there had been more comics culture love for the re-issues of Jean-Jacques Sempe's cartoon collections and the same for his collaboration with Rene Goscinny, Le Petit Nicolas. I thought both projects were really nicely done but I can't remember a single person talking about them. (Heidi MacDonald sent in a link to this Peter Sanderson preview of the cartoon collections, which I apparently missed the first time around.)

* not comics: the cartoonist Colleen Doran opens the door on the seedier side of conventions through discussion of one con artist's schemes.

* the writer J. Caleb Mozzocco notes the wind-down of Marvel's Ultimate Universe effort, and points to The Ultimates Volume Three as perhaps the worst comic book ever. He starts reviewing individual issues with #1.

* one of the finest Direct Market retailers Joe Field brings up something in terms of the Wednesday Comics series that I hadn't thought of before: really old people like newspapers. That wasn't his point, probably.

* looking at Victor Cayro's work may remind you of a time when you first started picking up alternative and arts comics and they frequently frightened you as much as delighted you. I don't recall ever reading an interview with him before, but this is a good one if it's the first or 21st.

image* let the world-without-borders marketing begin: Marvel's Strange Tales previewed with a look at Jason's Spider-Man story... on the Fantagraphics blog.

* the writer Vince Moore wonders why there aren't more effective black super-villains in North American mainstream comic books. That's a pretty good question. I can trace one of my most valued friendships directly to Moses Magnum, so it's something that should probably interest me as well. I was more of a Marvel kid, and the history of Marvel teaches us that nothing is beyond a revamp. So I guess all it would take is for some of the writers to want to work with some of those characters. Magnum is probably the heaviest hitter in terms of someone who could be looked at in a new light -- he wouldn't look ridiculous smacking the Avengers around for a couple of issues, so there's less work to do with him than, say, Daddy Longlegs. I have no idea what they've done with Erik Killmonger since Panther's Rage, but he gets mentioned as another possible candidate -- he'd be a great secondary big bad to Fu Manchu in a Shang-Chi revamp. This guy could probably be revamped if someone wanted to -- he's like the Bernie Casey of Marvel super-villains. And although he's past my time, isn't Apocalypse supposed to be black?

* wow, I know way too much about that stuff.

* finally, that may be the best comics-related art show poster I've ever seen.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 81st Birthday, Bob Bolling!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, George Perez!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks Incognito
Sean Phillips Sketches Wolverine

History
Does Canada Need A Master Cartoonist Like Doug Wright?
Seriously, Does Canada Need A Master Cartoonist Like Doug Wright?

Industry
Batman and Robin Did Well For Mike Sterling

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Andrei Molotiu
Comic Riffs: Bruce Tinsley
Hooded Utilitarian: Dan Zettwoch

Not Comics
Article Time Travels From 1992

Reviews
Chris Sims: Various
Jeff VanderMeer: Various
Steve Duin: Ivy Chapter 4
Sean Howe: Asterios Polyp
Deb Aoki: Cirque du Freak Vol. 1
Troy Brownfield: Buck Rogers #1
Sean T. Collins: LOEG: Century #1
Richard Bruton: Ellerbisms Vols. 2-3
Tucker Stone, Matthew Brady: Various
Douglas Wolk: You'll Never Know Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Resurrection Vol. 2 #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Melvin Monster Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Kabuki: The Alchemy
Koppy McFad: Batman In Barcelona: Dragon's Knight
Don MacPherson: Batman In Barcelona: Dragon's Knight
Mark Frauenfelder: Underground Classics: The Transformation Of Comics Into Comix
 

 
June 8, 2009


Another Staffer Let Go By Wizard?

This time the usual sources are saying that long-time employee Scott Klein, until recently the company's controller, was fired on Sunday. No word on how this might have taken place given that this took place on an odd day, and the fact that Klein was rumored to have been the guy who went over paperwork with any fired employees. A controller supervises a company's accounting services, which makes sense as Klein holds an MBA with a focus on accounting.
 
posted 10:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Final Word: Bok’s Sotomayor Cartoon?

imageIt's already last week's comics mini-controversy, but the questioning of Chip Bok's depictions of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and President Obama in an early-week cartoon received a Friday afternoon send-off from HispanicBusiness.com. Bok defends elements of his depiction in terms of their very specific meanings in light of he's viewed the political unfurling of the candidate taking place. He also slams suggestions -- basically, implications of lynching -- that he feels are flat-out dishonest and not support by any reasonable look at the cartoon.

One thing I found interesting is that the reason the Oklahoma paper may have been the only publication cited when people were upset about the cartoon is that it may be the only paper that carried it. I have no knowledge of editorial cartooning syndication patterns to know if that's odd or not, but I thought it worth noting.
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Three From Kurtzman

image
 
posted 10:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Malcolm Douglas, 1954-2009

image

Lew Stringer reports that comics artist and illustrator Malcolm Douglas, who worked as JT Dogg, died in late March after a long struggle with cancer. As Dogg, Douglas contributed art to the "The Street-Hogs!" and "Ham Dare, Pig of the Future" features that ran in Oink, frequently commandeering the color spread at the publication's center. Douglas continued onto a number of what Steve Holland describes as adult comics for comics publications and magazines, and drew a strip for the Manchester United match publications featuring the team's mascot. On his web site, Douglas discussed a future potential return to making comics.

Douglas was also a musician with a specific interest in folk music. A tribute to his work with the Yorkshire Folk Arts group and to that area of culture in a variety of ways including as a performer can be found here.

An obituary at the Guardian drawing on the same sources notes he is survived by a mother and a brother.
 
posted 10:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: On Artistic Printing

image

via
 
posted 10:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Second-Hand MoCCA 2009 Report

A few notes copied from other people's work, just like a 7th grade algebra test, on the 2009 MoCCA Festival.

* there were apparently a couple of major administrative screw-ups, surprising for a show that has run this many years. First, the Museum was late in distributing the various packages for which it had taken responsibility to the folks who needed them, which caused a significant delay in the show's first-day opening. As I recall, there was talk about not offering this option of delivery from the museum to the show, which seems in retrospect a hesitancy that had some merit whether or not it would have been an overall good. Anyway, not getting books distributed on time so that the place can't open is something I've never heard of at any show, and it needs to be recognized as such no matter how much people like the show.

* second, it seems from what I'm hearing that the delay was not communicated to either the vendors nor the people waiting in line in a consistent, helpful fashion, leading some to believe that the show had started and was simply going slowly, others confused as to when and if programming was going to shift its schedule and if so to what extent, and various people in line frustrated. I've heard that mitigating this was a discount offered to some line sufferers at the door and the promise to keep the show open a bit later. The show's general reputation for bottle-necking may have kept some people away until mid-afternoon, easing some difficulties.

* there were minor administrative snafus as well, as might be expected, and rumors that some exhibitors may not have been able to make it at all for whatever reason surfaced when folks spotted empty tables.

* the new location received mostly positive reviews, especially given the tendency for comics fans to be overly nostalgic for past experiences, both the deserving and the dubious. "I remember when James Kochalka rode up the stairs to his panel on the back of a giant cockroach; it was great." Most folks appreciated there being room for everyone in the central space, though, the same way that SPX expanded a couple of years back, and I would think as an attendee not to have to deal with the fuss of seeking people out would make for a more pleasant experience. I like hide and seek and I like comic conventions; I'm not sure about hide and seek comic conventions. Another element you see surface in folks' appraisals is that this was an easier location for many to get to in the first place, which makes a difference for folks traveling from the immediate area as well as from all the way out of town.

* a few folks have expressed astonishment that this venue was also not air conditioned, as some had assumed that a move to a new location would have somehow involved engaging or even solving the biggest complaint about the old location. As Evan Dorkin points out, the Festival was really lucky with weather in the late 70s and early 80s -- a 100 degree scorcher might have been a small catastrophe. I think it's okay if they expect vendors and attendees to deal with some heat if that's the cost of doing business in New York, or something like that, but I would imagine there's a limit, or at least some expectation of engagement with the issue. I think this will cost them some business if it's in the same place next year on what people expect to be a hotter day or if people have to worry about bringing folks with them. I also think because no one was hurt or made ill people should make as many variations of "MoCCA is going to move the show again for 2010: into the middle of a giant bonfire" joke this year while it's harmless to do so.

* in general, Saturday business was apparently strong to extremely strong; Sunday business was maybe not as strong.

* this picture of Alex Robinson made me laugh, and usually those posed ones don't. I also liked the image in words from Alex's con report of his sitting in the park with his family and not really wanting to go back. A couple of people e-mailed me this morning to say they're doing a movie of his Too Cool To Be Forgotten, so that's nice.

* in a major shocker, the various comics folk in attendance all enjoyed hanging out and selling comics and meeting readers and doing business and then socializing after the shows in several different locations. Imagine! I mention that because the entertainment factor is often used as a foam-covered stick to bash anything that might be said in negative fashion about any show: "Everybody had a great time; shut up!" Whereas I would imagine that everyone would have a great time seeing one another and hanging out and drinking and eating and talking comics and socializing even if they spent the day doing squat thrusts in hamster costumes as Jerry Robinson banged out time on a giant drum.

* an element of Becky Cloonan's note caught my eye: less in the ways of arts and crafts, more in the way of comics.

* Bodega Distribution surprised everyone by debuting Kazimir Strzepek's second Mourning Star collection, which people greeted with such delight that it helped the volume became a top contender for book of show. (I imagine it being really good helped considerably, too.) This was definitely a sneak attack: I still can't find even a single mention of that book on-line. Top Shelf went a different direction by unveiling a surprise guest in Renee French, a move that was also received in positive fashion. Who doesn't like Renee French? The upshot is that no one is going to provide any details about next year's show. I was personally surprised by news of such a strong webcomics faction, but I imagine other people did know about it and that it's a boon for the show whether I'm up on it or not.

* it doesn't look like anyone would object to calling this year's version David Mazzucchelli's show, either, what with the long-awaited Asterios Polyp out and the retrospective at MoCCA location prime.

* the cartoonist Cheese Hasselberger points out that prices for an early-bird table 2010 were raised to $400, which might make one think that full-price tables may garner $500 or thereabouts.

* so it looks like it was a fairly successful show, despite the problems noted up top. A "Collective Memory" entry will run in the 10 AM slot all week. If you're short on time, two pro summaries I liked on my power read this morning where Cloonan's and Robinson's. The outside-in reports I liked best were The Daily Cross Hatch's and Sean T. Collins'. I'm sure there will be many more.
 
posted 10:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: On Jimmy Frise

image
 
posted 10:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ghost Circus

image
 
posted 9:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Cagle’s Mr. Fish Fiesta

image
 
posted 9:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Two With Worms

image
 
posted 9:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Los 4 Fantasticos

image
 
posted 9:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the prominent comics blogger Alan Gardner has a nice write-up on the pledge by Jean Schulz to match up to $2.5 million in donations to the renovation of Sullivant Hall, the future home of the cartoon and comics holdings of Ohio State University. Schulz also donated $1 million outright.

* David Glanzer talks about the complete CCI sell-out and why doing so this far in advance isn't always their choice of ideal outcome, either.

image* for obvious reasons I don't write a lot about comics-related sales on eBay, and every single one of the usual caveats about this mention not being an endorsement of the item or sale apply because I clearly don't have the means to verify anything, but this original by Bill Mauldin is pretty gorgeous and seems modestly priced for what it appears to be.

* the artist and designer Paul Rivoche is teaching a comics-related class in Toronto starting July 4. I would think that Paul Rivoche would make a very good teacher.

* this is quite cool-looking, even though I'm coming to it late in comics blogging terms.

* not comics: here's one for off the beaten path: infrequent writer-about-comics Jessica Hopper has a new book out, a girls' guide to band membership, and the person providing the interior art is Anders Nilsen.

* Stephan Pastis harasses John Glynn.

* not comics: so apparently Dave Eggers is writing reassuring letters to people worried about the future of print. It looks like the letter asserts that the future of print is in the unique qualities of print, not necessarily taking everything on-line.

image* the FPI blog points out that apparently the entirety of published Elfquest is on-line. Since I don't know what to make of Elfquest these days -- it's been too long since I thought about that material -- the link takes you to FPI's concise appreciation.

* while I'm not certainly exactly what the video means and I can't get it to play, the post hosting the video provides links to a bunch of reviews of old Man-Thing comics, which is a comic book effort I suspect I remember more fondly than I might think of it were I to read a bunch of those comics now.

* Marketplace talks to a few cartoonists about the fate of newspaper comic strips. The answers are of the "what are you going to do?" variety you'd expect, although it's rare enough that someone talks to the cartoonists about this stuff the article is worth a peek. (thanks, Gil)

* not comics: Charles Yoakum provides a brief review of the 1973 ACBA portfolio, one of those project that loomed very large over the imagination of fans coming of age in the 1970s.

* finally, the new Philosophy Now will have a bunch of articles about comic books.
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 76th Birthday, Jan Kruis!

image
 
posted 9:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Scott Adams!

image
 
posted 9:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Mike Manley Crafts A Portrait
David Lasky's Enter The Seagull

History
The Black Man As Perpetual Perp
What Is The Longest Wordless Comics Narrative?

Industry
Jimmy Palmiotti Kills Me
What The Eisners Used To Be Like

Not Comics
Aiee!
Go Earth
That's One Handsome Bag
I Enjoy The Occasional Post I Don't Understand At All

Publishing
Scarab #1 Previewed
A Mack White Preview
Chloe Noonan Previewed
Please Publish This Awesome Comic
New Tour De France Album Previewed
Chris Oliveros Previews Prayer Requested

Reviews
Brian Hibbs: Various
Douglas Wolk: Various
Vanja: Scalped #25-29
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Nick Mullins: Citizen 13660
Andrew Dansby: 32 Stories
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Zach Bowen: Wolverine #72
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various 02
Esther Keller: Dracula Madness
Leroy Douresseaux: Gimmick Vol. 7
Leroy Douresseaux: Hellblazer #255
Andy Frisk: Wolverine: Weapon X #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Melvin Monster Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: You Have Killed Me
Greg McElhatton: Last Days Of Animal Man #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: So I Need To Lose 15 Pounds
Andy Frisk: Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Comics #1
 

 
June 7, 2009


CR Sunday Interview: Seth

image

*****

I'm a great fan of the cartoonist and designer Seth, whose comics I've come to enjoy more and more over the years. He has what would be for many artists a decade's worth of projects either recently out or imminent: George Sprott, 1894-1975, a book-length expansion of his New York Times Sunday Magazine novella and a work that features some of his best cartooning to date; The Collected Doug Wright, Volume One: Canada's Master Cartoonist, which he designed and I believe edited; various volumes of the John Stanley Library for Drawn and Quarterly, featuring his design work; a short comic for Kramers Ergot Vol. 7 on Thoreau MacDonald, a two-page comic on a giant canvas that shows off more of his cartooning chops; and two more volumes of The Complete Peanuts, a series on which his design work has set the standard for this new era of deluxe strip reprints. I'm probably forgetting like five things.

Seth is currently on tour with fellow cartoonist Adrian Tomine -- you can catch him at the MoCCA Festival the day this interview rolls out -- but stopped before taking off to answer a bunch of my questions about this avalanche of recent and forthcoming work. It's always a pleasure to interact with him, and this was no exception. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: I think most people are aware that George Sprott began as one of the New York Times Sunday Magazine serial projects, and more than a few are aware that this is the potential project you offered the Times that had the least amount of initial interest for you. What led you to include the Sprott idea at all?

SETH: That's a valid question. It does seem like a poor idea to toss in an idea that you don't particularly wish to be picked (though that overstates it -- it was merely my least favorite idea of the three submitted). I have learned, from years as a commercial illustrator, that you don't submit any rough drawings you don't like because it is a fact that the art director will always pick the one you hate. The truth is, I tossed in George Sprott because I felt I needed to present them with a third option. Let me explain.

I gave them three choices. Choice number one was to continue and finish a story I had begun in Toro Magazine but had left unfinished due to a conflict with editorial. Choice number two (my favorite at the time) was a quiet, meditative study of a block of abandoned buildings. I looked over my first two choices and instantly knew that I needed to give them a third. It was pure strategic thinking.

They were not going to pick number one -- they wouldn't wish to continue something begun elsewhere -- I just knew that. And number two was a shot in the dark. Probably too "poetic" for them. Too artsy. It seemed obvious that there had to be a third option that was a more traditional story and had some human characters in it. Sprott -- a rather unformed idea at that point -- was what was currently floating around in the back of my brain and therefore, Sprott it was.

I actually kind of figured they would pick it, but I was still hoping against hope they would go for the second option.

As I have said elsewhere -- in the end -- they were correct. Working on Sprott was the more challenging choice and ultimately, the more rewarding for me.

image

SPURGEON: Also, as it began to develop, where were you creatively at the time and what was going on that had an impact on your general approach? I've heard people mention a number of things that might have had some effect: an approach you learned by doing Wimbledon Green, the Dominion City project, the theme work in Clyde Fans, even.

SETH: Well -- at the very moment they called I was working on Clyde Fans (naturally) and I had just made a solemn oath to devote all my energies to finishing it up immediately. Sigh. How could I say no to the Times? It was too good of an opportunity to turn down -- though I did consider it.

Creatively, Sprott follows naturally out of Wimbledon Green. In many ways, I took the lessons I learned making Wimbledon and applied them directly to Sprott. I suppose Sprott is clearly Wimbledon Green meets Clyde Fans... but, really, all my work is pretty interchangeable. It's all of a piece. I don't really think of each book or project as something new, I simply see it all as part of a continuum. I'm working my way down a very specific path and each work is a refinement of what has come before. It's all towards a goal of trying to put down on paper the very specific feeling I have of being in the world -- trying somehow to get my inner reality communicated to the outside. In the end, every project fails but I get a little closer to understanding how to approach things in the next work.

When I did Wimbledon Green, I made it a point to mention in the introduction that I was trying to emulate a narrative approach I had come to enjoy in the works of Clowes, Ware and Heatley. The use of short, separate strips that build up to bigger picture when read together. And that was perfectly true -- that is what I was doing -- applying what I had seen and liked in their works to a little sketchbook story of my own.

But the funny thing is, after Wimbledon was published I remembered something. Back in the '80s I had heard John Cage's Indeterminacy on the radio -- 90 unconnected stories told in 90 minutes. This work had had a huge impact on me and for years I had thought about trying to do something similar in comics form -- perhaps 50 unconnected one-pagers that the reader would put together in their own mind. It was an idea that sat on the backburner so long that I forgot all about it.

I can recognize now that seeing these other cartoonists using a similar narrative approach (to Indeterminacy) is what drew me over to emulate them in the first place. They had actually put into application this old forgotten notion of mine -- done it so brilliantly that I had failed to recognize why I was so attracted to it. I had forgotten the Cage connection entirely. In fact, I hadn't thought of Indeterminacy even once while working on Wimbledon.

But, by the time Sprott came along, I had remembered this youthful notion and I thought, "Here is an opportunity to apply what I have learned from Ware, Clowes, Heatley and Wimbledon Green -- and John Cage -- to a new story." A piece that was less centrally organized -- more fragmented -- closer to my original Cage idea.

SPURGEON: I haven't heard too many people talk about the experience of having that platform. What was that experience like, appearing in the Times? Did you hear back from a different kind of reader with a different kind of reaction to your work?

SETH: I wish I could give you an exciting answer to this question -- but the reality of a cartoonist's life is that you sit in a studio all day and you send the work out and you never hear a damn thing about it again.

imageI had an excellent working relationship with the Times and it was a very valuable experience doing the strip -- I learned a lot about editing my own work while doing Sprott. But I cannot say I received a great deal of response to the work while it was running. Since it finished I have received a smattering of remarks here and there, nothing much worth commenting on. As an artist you like feedback but I have learned not to expect it. That's one sure way to be disappointed. I must say, though, that the high profile venue was a "feather in my cap" and I have "felt" some vague effect from having serialized a strip there. Hard to explain what I mean by this, though. The lack of direct feedback may simply be the nature of newspaper and magazine publication -- I mean, George Sprott (the book) has only been out a couple of days and I have received significantly more feedback than during the entire run of the strip.

I think, sometimes, people think a high profile "gig" of this sort is like appearing on the Broadway stage or something -- excitement and applause. The sad reality is that you are just sitting in the basement, the same as any other day. You don't actually see anyone read the thing. The Prime Minister of Canada doesn't phone you up and say "Good Show."

I resisted Googling the strip for its entire run but when it ended I typed in the title. The very first "hit" said: "Thank god, George Sprott is finally over." And people wonder why I dislike the Internet.

SPURGEON: What was your relationship like to the work while you were doing it and how has that changed since? Was there ever a point where you struggled with or simply didn't like the work? When did it click for you?

SETH: Like any work, it's an up and down process. Some days you think it is the best thing you've ever done and other days you think it's a piece of drivel. I was on this roller coaster the whole time I was working on it. I think initially, after I started working out the first few installments, I was very enthusiastic about the strip. I thought it had a lot of promise. Certainly, at that early stage I felt real genuine confidence that this was going to be the best thing I had ever done... but somewhere in the middle I recall feeling quite blue that something was missing from the finished work. Some nebulous quality -- something I couldn't put my finger on -- was failing to appear. I recall sitting down and doubling my effort there, to bring it to a higher level and, by the end I recall, I felt pretty good about it. Sprott was actually pretty tightly planned from the word go -- but there were points where inspiration was stronger. I felt I was getting at something when I did the strip titled "The White Dream."

That same roller coaster of emotion carries on for me after the work is finished, as well. This is true with all my work. Some days I think fondly of some creation and others I grimly accept that it's not very good. It's hard, you want so much to produce good and meaningful work but it can never possibly live up to your own expectations. Every work is ultimately a failure. How could it be anything but? The only work that ever succeeds is someone else's.

I will say this. I was enthusiastic to expand the work out into a book and at a couple of points during that process I really liked the work. When I received the printed copies a couple of weeks ago I couldn't make up my mind if I liked the book or not but I was genuinely happy with the printed object. Last week, for a few hours (maybe even the whole day) I thought it was a pretty good book -- but, of course, that never lasts.

image

SPURGEON: This is kind of a related question, but did you always know that it would be a book? Did your perception of it in another format have any effect with how you approached the serial aspects of the work? I think that's maybe been the most interesting factor about all the NYT Magazine projects, how each one has dealt or not dealt with the serial nature of the assignment.

SETH: I did not have any concrete plans for it to be a book while I was working on it. Oh, I knew I would republish it at some point but I assumed I would just include it in some kind of Art of Seth book, or some such thing.

It wasn't long enough to be a book on its own, I figured.

In fact, while I was working on it all I was thinking about was how it read in the magazine. Immediately upon agreeing to do the strip I sat down and planned out just how the work would best read. I knew right away that I did not want to do one straightforward narrative, broken down into pages, with a "continued next issue" at the end of each page. I made up my mind that the best way to read something like this (which is naturally fragmented by the serial publication) would be to have 25 self-contained single-pagers. Since I couldn't count on the reader dutifully following it week to week, I hoped I could at least make each page satisfying on its own. For the faithful reader who actually followed the strip, they would be free to tap into the bigger narrative.

I had a lot of story ground to cover so that meant each strip had to be pretty dense -- 25 or 30 panels a page. It might have been smart to design the pages to be cut in half for later republication (like Ice Haven was) but I needed to design the pages really tightly to make all those panels read simply. It was a bit of a tightrope between clutter and cleanness. I like to keep things simple and I edited these strips mercilessly -- often cutting half of the story material out of each strip. It hurt. I'm used to having as much narrative space as I want to ramble on or use silent sequences.

Anyhow, it was only after the strip wrapped up that Tom Devlin at D&Q suggested I republish it as a book. It seemed an unlikely offer, at first. The story was only 25 pages long. Even if they were dense enough to equal 100 of my regular pages. But I gave it some serious thought and the more I tossed the idea around in my head the more I came to appreciate the challenge of converting this material into a complete book and how much pleasure that process was sure to bring me. I really did like shaping and expanding the work into its present form. It was a very different process than the assembly of any other book I've worked on.

SPURGEON: Did you go away and come back to the material for this book? When there's time between the book and the collection, is there an active reconsideration of the work, or is it all there from the start and coming back to it is basically production work? You changed the overall work quite a bit, actually, through at least the inclusion of some other elements.

SETH: If memory serves, I think there was about six months between the publication of the last strip and my beginning the work on the book. Enough time to mull it over and think of just what could be done with the raw material of the original run.

What immediately excited me was the possibility of further fragmenting the original story. Even in its original run I was able to digress off with a strip or two to describe the history of certain buildings or to give the TV schedule listings, etc. ...but the story was still pretty A to B in its construction. Making it into a book would allow me to break that apart somewhat.

Fortunately, because of the structure of the original story (self-contained single pagers) it was very easy to simply insert new material in between the old. This new material would allow me to "diffuse" that directness of the original narrative. A few years ago I played around with idea of a life story told only in eight or nine short segments -- a brief episode from each decade of a characters life. A little incident, picked almost randomly from each decade would make up each installment. I wondered, when you put all these incidents together, would they add up to anything? This seemed a natural place to try out this technique, dropping these incidents between the preexisting material. I hoped that the inclusion of some new strips, along with these decade by decade incidents (plus some other purely visual material) would make the work more of a jumble for the reader -- encouraging them to organize all the material in their own minds when they reached the final strip. I tried to keep the feelings for George somewhat ambivalent so that the reader would be forced, in the end, to try and sort all the facts and decide for themselves what they felt about him.

image

SPURGEON: I wanted to ask about a couple of techniques employed in George Sprott. The first is your use of color. The easiest way to look at it is as a rudimentary designation of present and past, but it does seem as if there are gradations within those choices, and perhaps not even 100 percent regularity as to each color's symbolic meaning. Is there a full range of effect you're trying to communicate in the color? Also, how hard is it to make choices for color as a narrative effect in terms of making it work as design? Do you have to craft pages and sequences with that in mind?

SETH: The use of color is not as complicated as you might have hoped. While working on the Times strips I employed a pretty broad set of color schemes. I was using the magazine to try out color combinations just to see how they looked. Some of them worked well and others came out garish or just plain ugly. When the time came to do the book I knew I would have to simplify the colors. You don't want a book with a hundred different colors in it -- you have to start narrowing things down to create some kind of visual unity. I narrowed it down to the few schemes that had worked well. The final book has only a handful of individual colors in it -- and while there are relational connections between the strips that share color schemes, they are not used with any strict methodology. I mean, yes, the strips that show George's direct narrative on the night of his death tend to be all of the same color (green-gray) and the strips involving dreams are usually in a blue tone -- but there are plenty of examples of less clear relationships. Color was mostly picked intuitively and for emotional effect.

image

The "flashback" strips are tan-colored but this was not planned to suggest the sepia tone of the past. In fact, this didn't even occur to me until someone pointed it out and then I regretted I had made this color choice. It had been a toss up between tan and a pale aqua and I picked the tan purely because the warmer scheme made these pages stand out from the other material of the book. That's all I really wanted there. That's why those pages are done in a watercolor wash style as well -- just to separate them out from the other stuff.

image

SPURGEON: The other technique employed that I thought noteworthy was the use of illustration-only spreads at certain points throughout the story. Can you talk about the effect you're trying to communicate with those drawings -- they're abstract, for one thing -- and also how they might change the book as a reading experience, the rhythm of how someone moves through the book.

SETH: Rhythm is the key word here. The book is made up of a hell of a lot of starts and stops. That can't be helped, but you can try and control the rhythm of those reading patterns. The big double page spreads serve the purpose of long notes in a series of single beats. They are placed to break up the staccato rhythm of the reading experience. That's somewhat true for the blank pages and the photo pages as well -- but less dramatically. Despite what I have said above about Indeterminacy and fragmentation, the book is really carefully planned. I am sure the pages could be juggled in a dozen subtle ways, but this incarnation was put together to read with a careful eye toward that underlying rhythm. In my more traditional graphic novels I tend to change rhythm by shifting from dense narrative sequences to quieter ones. This book didn't offer that opportunity as directly. The spreads were an attempt to do something of the same thing but with an entirely different technique. I liked using them and I expect I will employ this technique more and more. I'm already putting them in my newer Clyde Fans chapter that I am working on right now.

You are quite right to point out that those arctic landscapes are abstractions. They don't represent actual arctic scenes so much as interior landscapes (of thought and memory and feeling) inside George. Those landscapes, and the gate-fold section, are really the only time in the story that you actually see/feel anything from inside George's perspective. Everything else is an outside view or second hand experience.

image

SPURGEON: Did you shoot the building models as they're used in the book? What made you bring that work back into the collection? If I'm remembering correctly, and please correct me if I'm wrong, you worked on the Dominion stuff up to a year before starting on Sprott.

SETH: I hired a photographer to take the pictures.

Dominion is an ongoing project and will probably continue, in dribs and drabs, for the rest of my life. I actually included the photos of the buildings as a lark. It just popped into my head and I thought it would be simply fun and "neat" to put the cardboard facsimiles of these places right there next to their comic strip histories and when I thought about it, I liked how it further fragmented the narrative a bit by reminding the reader that the whole thing was "just a story" in my cardboard metropolis. It's funny that showing the 3D model of the building actually makes the place seem it less real than the little drawings of it in the strip itself. Plus -- I love decorative things and it was a very decorative touch that would "pretty up" the book.

image

SPURGEON: Do you have any specific interest in or sympathy for the kind of public figure you made Sprott, either the explorer or the public lecturer/TV personality parts of his life? I think every community had the latter, but other than the horror hosts and maybe George Clooney's dad, they're kind of a forgotten figure even just three decades past their ubiquity. I wondered if you were actually interested in that type of person enough to want to write about them, or if it was a convenient framework for you, or if something else led you to that choice...?

SETH: In a way, George's life story was chosen almost arbitrarily. It didn't matter who George was or the specific details of his life. What was important was that it was a life coming to an end. I wanted to create a situation where the reader feels kind of lukewarm about the person who has just died (as we often do unless they are someone we deeply love). I wanted the reader to then decide for himself just how much sympathy they had for George. I personally had a lot of empathy for George -- he's like all of us -- a human being filled with contradictions. But, I tried to keep my directing hand out of it as much as I could. Is George a good person or a bad person? It's not easy to decide. All we can say of ourselves is that we are the central character in our own little stories. We are the star. Others decide whether that is "true" or not.

I was also interested in what makes a person. The choices they make? The personas they take on? How others see them? Is there a core person beneath all that? A person underneath the personality?

imageBut, that aside -- the simple answer is that I do like that old world of local television and its celebrities. I picked it because it is a phenomenon within recent memory yet it is also something that is already gone and antiquated. It disappeared fast. It was a little world that suited the tone of the story. Plus, the simple fact that George was something of a local celebrity opened the door to a wider range of "interview" subjects than just those who knew him well. Still -- it wasn't a crucial element of the story. Just window dressing.

I grew up around Windsor/Detroit in the '70s. It was a very active area for local TV. Those local television celebrities were visible signs of an active local culture that, in some manner, has vanished (or has certainly diminished) from our more globalized world. They represented an entire local stew of nightclubs and sports facilities and restaurants and department stores etc. that made up a more cohesive regional culture than exists today (not everywhere of course, but in the smaller or more blue collar cities). I wanted to reflect that a bit in the story as well, and that is why I focused on places that were central to George's life and work. I wanted to emphasize that George was part of a specific eco-system. He couldn't really live without it. George was patterned on a type of individual that seemed to thrive within that old culture. A kind of man who might be perceived as overblown, or a stuffed shirt -- or all bluster. The kind of man who didn't have a good understanding of his own emotions. In retrospect, some of these "characters" ended up looking like buffoons -- or at least caricatures. The kind of figures you don't see as often any longer in the media (Though in Canada I can think of a couple -- do you know who Don Cherry is in America?) I've known a few old men like George and they fascinated me. There is a lot of "false-front" on them. I was interested in what's behind that front and how you become that guy.

SPURGEON: How did you conceive of the narrator's voice that you use throughout Sprott? It's a weak voice in certain ways, not entirely omniscient, and looking back, doesn't appear as much as I thought it did.

SETH: Truthfully, I took the germ for the narrator's voice from the introduction to Don Quixote. Cervantes doesn't have "all the facts about Quixote" and that struck me as so utterly brilliant and modern -- especially coming from the "first" novel. I just took that outright -- it served my purposes. I wanted to further muddy the water about the details of George's life. Because of the narrator's uncertainty the reader doesn't have to take anything as the truth. Another attempt to fragment things -- put the decisions in the reader's hands.

The device doesn't appear all that often because a little of that goes a long way. I used it sparingly -- just bringing it in when I felt it added the right touch. I needed a narrator simply because there wasn't enough space in each page to let the story tell itself but, as you guessed, I wanted to keep the narrator from becoming too omniscient. Plus, it seemed like it might be funny.

SPURGEON: I apologize if this is too broad or maybe even too obvious a question, but was it satisfying for you to work with the spread of an entire life with this book? It seems like it's the first time that you've had that many points in time to play with, and I was struck a few times at the effect you got by showing the effects of accretion over a longer period of time.

SETH: I think I would love to work with that sweep-of-an-entire-life in every story but I haven't approached it in the past simply because I figured it would take too many pages to tell such a story in any depth. Clyde Fans is the model -- look how feebly I have plugged away at this story and it only represents a few days in the characters' lives (albeit over a span of several decades). I love the more naturalistic approach (moment to moment transitions rather than big jumps in time) to storytelling, like I am using in Clyde Fans, but I have to admit, it is the laborious way to tell a big story. What I did with George allowed me to cover a lot of ground economically.

imageThe culmination of a life -- that really is what I am most interested in as a writer. I think that is the underlying theme of all my work. George Sprott simply gave me the chance to deal with that in a rather perfunctory way. The effects of the accumulation of time is a topic that is endlessly interesting to me. It's the stuff of life. I wish I had the drive and gumption to create a ten thousand page comic novel that could get to the heart of that experience. It's not too likely though, is it? What a shame we often cannot accomplish what we know would be the very perfect work. It's just not in us.

That said, I think, as soon as Clyde Fans is finished I am throwing my brushes away to start drawing comics in some simple manner (perhaps markers) so that I can produce more pages. I do believe that the accumulation of detail is the only way to truly capture the real life experience on paper and that means producing lots of pages and I cannot do that in my current methods. So -- goodbye urge for perfectionism.

SPURGEON: Did you intend any part of the work as commentary on self-mythology? There's the unreliable narrator, the contrast with the horror host, the failure of the niece to publish her uncle in a manner she felt befitting to him, certainly Sprott's own efforts at distraction and persona-building.

SETH: I'm a guy who has a fake name. I used to have long silver peroxide hair. I used to walk around in a judge's robe and welders goggles. I now walk around in a gabardine overcoat and a fedora. I named my house.

Clearly I am interested in persona and self-mythologizing. Like I said above -- who are we and what makes us that person? That is a central element of most of my work. You can see it as a main theme in Clyde Fans and in Good Life and in Wimbledon, even. These choices we make determine who we end up becoming -- but there are also roles (both chosen and unchosen) that add layers of meaning onto us. Person and personality. Always interesting. I don't claim to have any great answers about it but I am "exploring" it in just about everything I write.

God knows, sitting alone at my desk every day -- I contemplate my own life and who I am, endlessly. I'm sure you do as well, Tom.

SPURGEON: No comment. Do you think it's fair to say the precision with which you told this story is at odds with the kind of fractured, incomplete portrait, you're painting? What do you think is the considered effect of these tight grids in terms of the poetry of the piece, the rhythm you're trying to create for the reader?

SETH: I don't know. As the creator it's hard to judge. The shape of the work was largely determined by the needs of serial publication. I probably would not have structured it so rigidly if I had created the book of whole cloth. I often think my choice of drawing "style" is at odds with the stories I am pursuing. The cartoonists that influenced me (Schulz, Herge, Arno, Bateman etc. etc.) were drawing in those styles for entirely different purposes. Perhaps I am trying to perform Hamlet in a clown suit. It's hard to say -- it's beyond my control. I couldn't draw differently if my life depended on it.

However, as you mentioned, the rhythms are within my control. I like those rhythms. That I like.

As I mentioned above. That was pretty well considered -- if you take into effect that I was "stuck" with a lot of starts and stops to begin with.

Let me step back, though, for a moment. Those Times strips are really tightly controlled for their internal rhythms in the first place. You mentioned poetry and that was a perceptive thing to bring up. When you are writing a one-page strip it is pretty much the same as what I imagine the writing of a poem must be like.

You become very concerned with condensing time -- and to setting up word patterns and rhythms. The thing has to "read right." You have to constantly pare the speech and the images down -- boiling the thing down into a reduced form where it is simply more potent -- more distilled than a comic narrative told over a series of pages. In essence it becomes a "block" of comic storytelling. When you have 25 of those to deal with you are simply forced to think about rhythm in designing the book. Almost all the decisions made in putting the book together were made in an attempt to soften these "blocks."

image

SPURGEON: Can you talk about how the Doug Wright material went from a shared passion that you and some others shared to becoming not just a book, almost a sustained effort to re-impress Wright into our consciousness? At what point did you see this kind of project as possible? Why now and not a few years back? Because you've been reading and collecting Wright for years.

SETH: Wright has somehow become a cause in my life -- but I didn't set out to make him so. It all sort of evolved.

Throughout the '80s and '90s, I underwent a long process of attempting to educate myself on the general history of cartooning. I started broad and worked my way down to the specifics. By the end of the '90s I was mostly interested in pursuing the work of a handful of largely forgotten Canadian cartoonists. Wright was up near the top of that list. But he wasn't necessarily at the very top.

By the turn of the century I had collected about seven scrapbooks of Wright's Nipper -- perhaps half of his actual output. It was a tough uphill climb to get that material. I was also piling up the work of about five or six other Canadians then, too. The ultimate goal of this collecting was really just to get to know their work and to learn from it. The secondary plan was a hope to publish a collective book on the group of them. I didn't think anyone would ever let me publish a book focused exclusively on Wright, for example. I didn't know if there was an audience for such a focused book. I assumed an overview of them all was the best I could hope for. The current market really didn't seem to exist at that time. I never would have even proposed such a book as The Collected Doug Wright. Not even in softcover. Times have changed.

imageI think the turning point of when Wright become more specifically "connected" to me was when Brad MacKay came to me with the idea of creating an award for English Canadian cartooning. It wasn't a foregone conclusion that Doug Wright would be the namesake. I recall we discussed Jimmie Frise as well -- but somehow Doug just seemed like the correct choice. I believe it was in the creation of these awards (both the organization and the physical awards themselves) that I first began to realize that it had become part of my "mandate" to bring Wright some of his due. The book just naturally evolved out of this sea change in thought (though this account is seriously selling short the drive and generosity of Brad and Chris in the development of this project, and I don't intend any slight here to their efforts).

Wright was a terrific cartoonist and I do want to see him recognized in Canada as a national treasure of some sort. I feel that the Awards and the book are making real steps in that direction. I would like to hope that some future artist would feel a proprietary interest in keeping me alive when I am gone as well. Perhaps this is some sort of a trust that artists owe each other.

Anyhow -- I have some hopes of this kind for popularizing the works of a handful of other Canadian cartoonist from the past, as well.

image

SPURGEON: I've talked to a few people about Chris Oliveros' assertion that Doug Wright is a talent on a level with Charles Schulz and Robert Crumb, and the reservations I hear are that they don't have a sense of what Wright was trying to communicate or reveal or explore that sets him apart -- that he obviously drew magnificently well and there's an element of how he sees the world in that drawing, but he's not as psychologically piercing as Schulz or bravely confessional as Crumb. Is that an assessment with which you agree or disagree? Is there a case you would make for Wright's work in terms of that kind of depth?

SETH: I think I understand what Chris Oliveros was trying to say when he made that comparison -- I think he was merely expressing his enthusiasm for a top notch cartoonist that few people know today and he wanted to impress on them what it was like stumbling upon a cache of "unknown" work by a legitimate master cartoonist.

However, I wish he had not used the names of Kurtzman or Crumb or Schulz. Almost no one is in the same category as these great cartoonists, and it actually brought an unfair negative comparison onto Wright.

Let's face it: Wright is not in the same camp as those guys. They are in that rarified, top echelon of cartooning -- work that really transcends the medium.

However, it is no shame to Wright to be down a peg from these fellows. We all are. But, nonetheless, Wright was a fantastic cartoonist. Much superior to those he might naturally be compared to in the commercial world of kid strips. He's much superior (in my opinion) to Ketcham, of whom I have seen him recently compared. He may not have infused his work with the psychological depth of Schulz's Peanuts but he did actually create a strip of much subtly (especially evident in the work near the end of the first book and throughout the second volume to come). Wright's best work has two factors worth holding up for study.
1. Obviously, his great ability as a draftsman to capture the real world. His work, in its precise use of observed detail is a window through time. I am always amazed at the "sense of place" evident in his strips -- more so even than photographs -- in recreating in form and feeling a specific place and a specific time.

2. His focus on "the slight incident" as a subject matter for his "real life" strips. The Nipper strip starts out as a Dennis the Menace type gag strip, but it evolves. If it had stayed in that mode it would only be of interest for my first reason, listed above. However, the strip changes as time goes on. He eschews the gag format (to a large degree) focusing less on getting a laugh then presenting some quiet aspect of family life. As time goes on the strip is remarkable for its unsentimental view of childhood. He's still aiming for a chuckle but it's not the most important aspect of the strip. His subject matter is the tiniest of moments -- in the best of his strips it is often something we would barely comment upon. Truthfully, I can't think of any other comic strip like it. This aspect of his work really takes precedence in the second book -- but you can see it strongly enough from about 1960 onward.
I love Wright's work and I don't think it needs any defending. He infused the strip with his life and that makes it interesting. Sure, he didn't infuse it with his deepest inner soul like Schulz did. I regret I even have to compare them. It's true that Schulz name comes up in the book a few times but I believe we only compare him to Schulz in terms of popularity and child-baldness. Yes, they were on different levels... but Wright deserves the title of Master Cartoonist. Schulz , more likely, is in the realm of the demi-gods. Crumb and Kurtzman as well.

image

SPURGEON: You did a fairly remarkable-looking strip in Kramers Ergot 7 on Thoreau MacDonald, and that's not someone I thought of you having an interest in before that strip. Can you talk about your interest in MacDonald and what elements of that interest drove the creation of that strip? Because part of it seems to be your capturing something about his art, and another seems to be about understanding this text in front of you. One basic question, too: why the difference in the presentation one page to the next, where you shift to journal pages?

SETH: I have been interested in Thoreau MacDonald for about eight or nine years now. This might've been more apparent to you if you lived in Canada because I gave a lecture about him at the Art Gallery of Ontario several years ago and I also published that modified essay in a Canadian magazine. If you came to my house you'd know it as well, because there are examples of his beautiful work all over the place.

TM is always up there in my mind as a potent life example -- along with Glenn Gould and Robert Crumb. People I admire enormously and think about almost every day. He was modest and hard working and had a profound connection to the world -- specifically the fields and farms of Thornhill, Ontario (now a depressing Toronto suburb). He was smart and had exquisite, austere sensibilities and I wish I were more like him.

His book designs have had a deep and lasting impression on me. I've studied them all with laser-like intensity and have learned so much about good design just from trying to figure out why he made each of his simple choices. He was like a Shaker in his visual quietness: his regularity of beauty and form: and his austerity of presentation. TM's designs might just be the equivalent of a Bach by Gould... I look at what I am doing and seriously worry I may be Liberace.

Anyhow -- I admire him greatly and it was probably inevitable that I would do a work connected to him at some point. The opportunity came up when Alvin called me about doing something for KE7. TM leaped to mind instantly. His writing has always appealed to me in its directness and its honesty and I figured this would be a good opportunity to "appropriate" it. It was especially gratifying to work with his diary entries. I have read the two published books of his diaries multiple times and the writing is extremely soulful -- especially considering the economy with which they are written. The two pages are drawn in somewhat different styles in KE7 for the simple reason that I wanted to contrast the bio with the diary pages. The Bio page was drawn with one eye on TM's own drawing -- not strictly emulation but ...with him in mind. Across the gutter, in some vague manner, I was trying to lessen my "voice" in the diary pages and so I put forward the conceit that they were drawn in a "diary-style." One reviewer (in the Village Voice) actually thought those pages really were from TM's own hand-drawn diary (of which there is no such thing)!! Somehow I figured the subject matter was suited to that grand avenue of a two-page spread in that giant book. I had a feeling too that the life an old Canadian book designer would be the perfect subject matter for that anthology. I was especially worried that several of the young artists involved in the project might tackle the same topic. (This is a joke.)

In some ways, TM has been as overlooked as Doug Wright has. He's certainly been overshadowed by his father's (JEH MacDonald, of the Group of Seven) legacy. It's a shame -- he's an enormously important Canadian artist in my opinion.

SPURGEON: Are you constantly finding new sources of inspiration, new artists with which you wrestle? What are you passionately interested in right now? Are you able to tell what's going to stick with you?

SETH: Yes -- I think that is pretty typical of me. I'm culturally hungry -- always on the look out for new fascinations. I wear interests down. I get passionately interested in something and then focus deeply on it until I burn it out. Some interests last and some don't. I'm not sure if I always know what is fleeting but I always know what will last. With artists, I have a pretty clear Pantheon of personal greats -- why one might be on the list has nothing to do with building a hierarchy of merit. A lot of it is simply personal -- how something strikes you. When that certain special artist is discovered -- one who will be added to the pantheon -- it doesn't matter where they sit in the grand scheme of "art"... it's just intuitive. They hit the right chord with me. Perhaps DuChamp, Picasso or Warhol are greater artists than Lawren Harris. It's clearly true. But Harris is in my personal pantheon and they are not. Who can explain such things? (Perhaps I am just a middlebrow).

Typically, once an artist enters that pantheon I never tire of them but every occasionally someone falls out. It always surprises me. A few years ago I was kind of horrified to discover that I no longer cared for Woody Allen. I cannot tell you how important Allen was to me. I wasn't horrified because I had no interest in his current films (why would I?) -- what bothered me was I had mostly lost interest in all his old films which I had loved so deeply. Perhaps that love will resurface. I hope so. I feel pretty indifferent on the matter right now.

Current interests. Last Year At Marienbad. William Christenberry. Stephen Shore. Thor Hansen (a decorative Canadian designer)... I've been on another Norman McLaren kick (comes up every couple of years)... for the last several years I have been reading an enormous amount of classic ghost short stories (mostly from about 1850 to roughly 1940) -- a real pleasure. I read a fascinating "ghost " story called The Great Return, the other day, by Arthur Machen -- an odd story that really stuck with me for some reason. Just today I could feel the excitement rising for a book I read a review of in the National Post -- A Progressive Traditionalist: John M. Lyle, Architect.

I could go on.

image

SPURGEON: I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about Charles Schulz, from the point of view of your design work on The Complete Peanuts. First, is it more flattering or annoying that the sum of your design choices on that series has become the Original Eve for this latest wave of modern strip reprints?

SETH: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Seriously. It doesn't bother me in the least.

I design books with my own taste in mind. I wish more books imitated my designs because then I might like them more.

That's meant to be a mean spirited joke -- not a compliment to myself. What I really mean is that I have very specific tastes and often modern book design doesn't really fit those tastes. I find a lot of modern design to be too busy. I wish a lot of books were designed more with simplicity, order and beauty in mind. To be honest -- when I look at my own designs I see the right intentions but I also see the glaring failure to achieve them (well -- some I like better than others).

It's funny that our Peanuts design has come to be seen as "classic" because we've only been working on the series for a few years. I've actually seen the design described in those terms -- "classic." I'm not complaining -- that's very flattering. I mean, who wouldn't like to hear that? That's the dream scenario for me, isn't it? To have this series of Peanuts books, with my design on it, to be the definitive collection of the master's work. As a child I so deeply loved Peanuts, and as an adult I have such respect for Schulz -- I am proud to be linked with him -- even in the most insignificant way.

I recall when the first images of the design were released on the Internet, I was directed to go over to the Comics Journal web site to see a long thread of complaints about how the design was all wrong -- too dour. Too much Seth -- not enough Schulz. A complete misunderstanding of Peanuts, etc.

Strangely, the criticism didn't bother me. I had a gut feeling that I knew the work so well and had such deep respect for the man that I could make my own decision on the books. I still feel I made the right choices for the series. They were really the only choices I could have made. When I sat down to design the books that design almost immediately developed. The design represents how I feel about Charles Schulz and his masterpiece. It's not a calculated "graphic design" -- it's one artist responding to another.

imageSPURGEON: Second, this is a question I wanted to ask anyone working with the '70s Peanuts material after doing the '50s and '60s. Have you noticed the kind of visual change that everyone says started to happen in the 1970s with Peanuts? Do you feel the strip with which you're working is different than the one with which you started working? If so, how so? And if not, is there a different quality you get from the work just paying this much attention to it as a designer?

SETH: Peanuts undoubtedly goes through some profound changes in the '70s. In a lot of ways, it's another strip ("The Snoopy Show" -- or perhaps, "Peppermint Patty's World"). However, that sort of change is pretty true of every decade of the strip. Yet, in my opinion, those shifts are not that important -- the whole strip is a continuum. I love the seventies material as much as the earlier stuff (and, to a large extent, the later material as well). Every decade of Peanuts has its charms. I am anxious to reread all the '80s material again. I expect that we will be hearing interesting reappraisals of that work as soon as it's in print again. The thing is -- as the decades roll along the characters get older. Not in the actual ages of the Peanuts kids themselves but in their voices. Schulz gets old and so do the characters. He's in his fifties in the '70s and you can see the reflective voice growing deeper in the strips. You can feel the accumulation of years in the voices of the characters.

By the time you reach the end of the strip in the '90s the "gang" are all old people. Just look at Lucy -- she's even drawn as an old lady. Where is her little dress she used to wear? She's in sweatpants and an old lady sweater. The very center of gravity changes in the drawings of the characters. They are undeniably senior citizens. They have old voices.

It's a great strip all the way through, though.

My design for the books takes some of this into account -- but it's not a big part of it. The endpapers will reflect the growing minimalism of the backgrounds. The color schemes of the books reflect the changing mood of the times. Etc. The main thing about the design is that it is meant to be simple and to allow the strips the dignity they so richly deserve. You cross the grass lawn at the beginning of the book and enter Schulz's reality and then at the end of the book you exit out the same way.

image

SPURGEON: Can I ask after your general approach to designing the John Stanley books? You've written well about him in the past, so it's obviously an artist you enjoy. I wonder specifically how you avoid repeating yourself taking on yet another high-profile project like this one. What does Stanley bring out of you that maybe your other design assignments don't?

SETH:Like everything I do, I am bound to repeat myself. It's what I am all about. I like repeating myself. That's what I liked so much about my Mum and my Dad. They constantly repeated themselves.

I love John Stanley. He's way up in that personal pantheon of mine. The entire design of the series was inspired by Tom Devlin when he spoke these words to me over the phone: "John Stanley Library."

That was it. I immediately knew I wanted the books to look like a set of old time children's encyclopedias. I love the look and feel of those books -- specifically the '50s/'60s sets. What was great about them is that many of them still had '30s surface stylings to them. They were brand new '60s books but they felt instantly old. Hence, my plan.

I know that seeing the designs for Melvin on-line probably doesn't transmit that feeling but when you see the physical books -- especially when they start to pile up and you have a handful of different volumes stacked up -- you'll see what I am going for. I think the online pictures make it look like it's got some sort of fancy art deco design going on. I can see why you might think that (and why people might think that's a really bad design choice) -- but really, with the endpapers and the texture of the cover stock and the shiny seal on the back -- it will read "encyclopedia." But, of course, encyclopedia with a fun cartoon character front and center. I think kids will respond to the design. I think it has kids written all over it. But then again, what do I know? No one is less involved with children today than I am. Do kids even read books any longer?

That last part of the question -- "What does Stanley bring out of you that maybe your other design assignments don't?" That brings us to a real problem with me as a designer. The truth is, when I design something it really is too much about me. I'm responding to Stanley with the love of another artist. I'm trying to create a package for him that is a tribute to him. It's not really how designers classically work. I think the best graphic designers try to remove themselves from the picture and create a package that is suited to the work being packaged. I don't really think that way -- I can't keep myself out of the process. My designs end up having a bit too much of me still in the picture. It's that way with Schulz, it's that way with Stanley and it is certainly that way with Wright. I'm probably not a very good graphic designer for that reason.

image

SPURGEON: I'm catching you right when you're about to head out on tour... you've been around long enough to know what things were like before the more sustained interest in a wider range of comics. Are you happy with the way things have developed in terms of the art and industry and opportunities that are there? Is there anything that you wish had happened that has yet to happen in terms of the arenas in which you work?

SETH: I am happy with the way things have gone.

I often repeat this story. Around 1999, Chester Brown and I were in a restaurant and I recall things looking really grim. We were worried that the whole comics "thing" was coming to an end. I cannot remember what exactly sparked these worries but I recall we were discussing what we would do if the publishers went under. This seemed a valid worry at the time. Would we go back to Xeroxing? How would we make a living? Chet and I decided we had hitched our wagons to a falling star. Who knew back in the '70s, when we were teens, that comic books (which seemed a mass medium at the time) were actually the modern equivalents of the dime novel. Doomed to extinction.

And then -- everything changed.

It's a better time now. It may not last, but it really is a golden age. I feel a real enthusiasm about the medium. There are a lot of exciting young cartoonists coming up -- more than have ever been. Great works are being published every year. Works that will be considered classics in the decades to come. The very vocabulary of the cartoonist's language is expanding as great cartoonists continue to add to it with their ambition and genius.

As a working artist, each day remains a struggle -- to try and make good work. To try and get better -- to learn. To try and balance the commercial work with the personal work. Frustrating. Life gets sadder as you get older... but it is a fulfilling struggle. Art is like a religion. You have to have faith in its transformative power.

*****

* cover to George Sprott, 1894-1975
* page from George Sprott
* page from serialization of George Sprott; I just like that cityscape backdrop
* pair of panels from sequence in George Sprott
* one of the color shifts in George Sprott
* a silent page set in Sprott's past
* part of one of those two-page, abstract spreads
* one of the building model photographs
* a full-page image from George Sprott
* a comic within a comics page from George Sprott
* a tiny panel from George Sprott
* Doug Wright panel
* book cover to new Doug Wright collection
* Doug Wright illustration
* from the Thoreau MacDonald story in KE7
* one of Seth's more recent covers from the Peanuts series
* image from a Seth end paper in the Peanuts series
* a John Stanley Library cover
* a Seth illustration
* a single image from a George Sprott page (below)

*****

* George Sprott, 1894-1975, Seth, Drawn and Quarterly, hardcover, 96 pages, 9781897299517, 2009, $24.95
* The Collected Doug Wright Vol. 1, Drawn and Quarterly, hardcover, 240 pages, 9781897299524, May 2009, $39.95
* Thoreau MacDonald, Seth, KE7, edited by Sammy Harkham and Alvin Buenaventura, Buenaventura Press, 2008, $125
* The Complete Peanuts, Charles Schulz, book series, Fantagraphics

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: mways MoCCA 2009 flickr set

* go, look: geekanerd's MoCCA 2009 flickr set

* go, look: Marion Vitus' MoCCA 2009 flickr photostream

* go, look: quirkyrocket's MoCCA 2009 flickr photostream

* go, look: RiRi Trautmann's MoCCA 2009 flickr photostream
 
posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #167—Me, Too

On Friday, CR readers were asked, "Name Four Specific Actions Taken By Comics Characters Where You'd Have Done The Same Thing Yourself, and One You Can't Ever Imagine Doing, But Don't Come Out And Say Which One Is Which." This is how they responded.

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Captain America Quits to Become Nomad
2. Buddy Bradley Stops Dating Valerie; Starts Dating Lisa
3. Spider-Man Extends Life Of Elderly Relative By Selling Marriage To Devil
4. Mr. X Takes Drugs To Stay Up Very Long Time And Fix Errors Made On Job
5. Joanie Caucus Celebrates End of Political Campaign By Propositioning Media Member

*****

image

Gil Roth

* Take drugs to handle a 60-minute stint in the Negative Zone
* Try to make time with the cute girl at the optometrist's store
* Discover that my superpower was triggered by smoking cigarettes
* Use an image inducer to make myself look like Errol Flynn
* Shoot son off-planet in a rocket with a blanket

*****

image

Mark Coale

1. Reuben Flagg straps John Scheiskopf to a rocket.
2. Metamorpho turns down the Justice League.
3. "Joe Kerr" agrees to help rob the Monarch Chemical Company.
4. General Sunderland hires Jason Woodrue to examine the "body" of Alec Holland.
5. Paste Pot Pete changes his name to Trapster.

*****

image

Sean Kleefeld

1. Jor-El, unable to save his planet, sacrifices his own life for his son's.
2. Tony Stark, held captive and ordered to build a weapon, builds the first Iron Man armor and uses it to escape
3. Peter Parker, having gained great spider-powers, attempts to become a media superstar
4. Splinter, taking four orphan turtles into his care, names them after great artists
5. Steve Rogers, so desperate to serve his country, agrees to have experimental drugs pumped into his body

*****

image

Uriel A. Duran

1) The future Hunter Rose throws a world championship fencing match after realizing that an easy victory is meaningless
2) Instead of undergoing any plastic surgery,Doctor Doom chooses to hide his face forever behind an iron mask
3) Morpheus chooses to sacrifice himself rather than neglect what he thinks are his responsibilities
4) Scrooge McDuck, seeking a fortune of his own,leaves Glasgow on a cattle ship
5) The Hulk asks for food and be back on Earth while the Thing wastes time thinking how to use the two wishes an alien just granted

*****

image

Don MacPherson

1) Peter Parker uses his newfound powers to seek fame.
2) David pines for Katchoo from afar (by close by too).
3) Batman takes on Jason Todd as the second Robin.
4) Tom leaves behind everyone and everything he knows to move the width of a continent away to be with the woman he loves, Lily.
5) Batman punches Guy Gardner in the face, knocking him out cold with one punch.

*****

image

Tom Bondurant

1. Batman keeps detailed notes on his colleagues' weaknesses in case he ever needs to take them down
2. Reed Richards frets about his girlfriend leaving him for a hot monarch who tends to go shirtless
3. John Stewart uses his new Green Lantern power ring to humiliate a racist politician
4. Wally West gives up being Kid Flash in order to spend more time in Blue Valley with his sweetheart
5. The Captain stuffs Rorkannu's flaming head into the nearest toilet

*****

image

Matthew Craig

1. Asked the Class Cow out to a science exhibit, or something similarly tragic (but really interesting to me).
2. Avoided meeting a girl my elderly Aunt picked out for me, "because we had so much in common."
3. Bit the same girl's hand off for reaching out to me in my hour of need.
4. Then proposed to her twice.
5. Gone through with the wedding.

*****

image

Chris Keels

* Peter Parker quits grad school.
* George Hamilton takes on the world from his room via Zygote.
* Jack Ryder (aka the Creeper) gets fired from his talk show; takes job as security guard.
* Colleen Wing dates Cyclops while he's grieving for Jean Grey, even though Misty Knight had just seen her at the airport, and had to have said something about it.
* Orion sadistically smashes Slig's Mother Box and laughs about it just to be a dick.

*****

image

James Langdell

1. Simpson saves a bottle of wine from Bacchus (which is actually a get-out-of-hell-free card) for a long, long time before finally opening it and tasting it
2. Charlie Brown's loses yet another kite to the Kite-Eating Tree
3. Steal back Uncle Scrooge's hat to try to stop the Terries and Firmies from causing any more earthquakes
4. Invent a cool never-seen-before brother to hide actually being Daredevil
5. Shoot acrobat Boston Brand in mid-air to get into a secret club.

*****

image

Buzz Dixon

1 - Captain America Punches Hitler In The Jaw
2 - Cerebus Assumes The Papacy
3 - Phineas, Fat Freddy, and Freewheelin' Frank Drive Cross Country In Their 1938 Phutney-Creech Land Yatch
4 - Huey, Duey, and Louie Save Christmas For Shacktown
5 - Scrooge McDuck Dives Into His Money Bin, Swims Around In The Cash, Throws The Coins Up In The Air, And Lets Them Fall On His Head

*****
*****
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Larry Hama!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 85th Birthday, Frank Bolle!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Mark Schultz!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Rick Hoberg!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

I take vitamins now, wear light-colored clothing to keep cool and a hat to keep from being sunburned. At 40 I've finally mastered being six years old.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 6, 2009


The Comics Reporter Video Parade




 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Next Week In Comics-Related Events

June 7
image
image

June 9
image

June 10
image

June 11
image

June 12
image
image

June 13
image
image
image
image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from May 30 to June 5, 2009:

1. Viacom cancels its comics-heavy Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. magazines.

2. Anti-Defamation League angered by Doonesbury cartoon; Chip Bok cartoon angers a variety of people.

3. A modestly successful BEA gives way to a hotly anticipated, newly-relocated MoCCA Festival as the convention calendar kicks into high gear.

Winners Of The Week
Direct market retailers, who get Marvel to move a bit on the issue of ordering a comic based on promised publicity for a related book without being able to see that publicity or know its cause.

Loser Of The Week
Wizard, losing more staffers.

Quote Of The Week
"It's difficult to monetize yourself if you're online only." -- Chris Onstad

*****

today's cover is from one of the great publications of the underground comix era

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image

and I would sing "Rainbow Connection"
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 31st Birthday, Charles Brownstein!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 83rd Birthday, TK Ryan!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* James Sturm On My Response To His Essay on Virginia Lee Burton
* Ellen S. Abramowitz On The Welcome To MoCCA Festival 2009 (PR, Sort Of)
* Steve Lafler On The Total Ticket Sell-Out At CCI
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 5, 2009


Another Staffer Let Go By Wizard?

image

This time I'm hearing from the usual sources -- 100 percent right so far, no confirmation from the publisher expected -- that Arlene So may have been let go in the last few days. She was a longtime employee and would almost certainly have been their senior art director at this point. Her site, with some of the Wizard work featured such as the above, can be found here.
 
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: Hero Complex’s Comic Book Store Clerks Of America

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Nickelodeon Magazine Closure Notes

* this is the article that most bloggers are linking to as independent, sourced confirmation of yesterday's LA Times news that Nickleodeon Magazine is having its 16-year run ended by owner Viacom.

* that article contains some salient information beyond the announcement, such as that the final closure will come before the end of the year, the magazine had a rate base of just under 1 million (it would claim 7.7 million total readers down from over 13 million total readers, which I'm guessing is based on pretty steep pass-around numbers). Also, Nick Jr. and its audience at roughly 1/4 the size is following its older relative into oblivion.

image* the article also indicates the magazine will burn off some current inventory through new publication, which is not something that came up as the rumor initially hit.

* the person whom I believe is the primary publicity person for the magazine -- or is at least the person to whom I've been directed to suss out some of the hanging issues -- is on vacation until the 15th of June. This isn't really news, but it did crack me up.

* one cartoonist who wished to remain anonymous but used to work for the magazine pointed out that one nice thing about its long run is that many cartoonists who really counted on the gig a decade or more ago have since gone on to different things, so that despite the pain involved with the cartoonists currently working for the magazine are likely to feel, there's no taking away a whole group of success stories that were initiated, prospered and then brought to an end.

* the cartoonist Richard Thompson, who did a recent, well-liked supplement cover for the magazine, wrote in to say of the publication's departure, "It leaves a big, sad hole in the magazine rack. Kids have lost a fun, inventive mag and cartoonists have lost a friendly venue for their drawings. I only worked for them once and I kick myself for not taking advantage of Chris Duffy & Dave Roman's open door for cartoons. It's a shame the door's been closed and the building's been torn down."

* there are a number of on-line testimonials about the closure, best of all perhaps Evan Dorkin's. Dorkin was the first person to link it to MAD's format shift that I read, even though it makes perfect sense to do so and we're likely to hear more about the moves in terms of their being paired together. Brutal year already for that side of the market.

* finally, Sam Henderson, the cartoonist I think of first of all those enjoying a relationship with this magazine, wrote the following to CR, emphasizing the practical difficulties involved for those who enjoyed the publication as a client. "With MAD downsizing it was only a matter of time. I'm sure every other person will say something at MOCCA this weekend. Time to get off my ass and look for more venues. The fact that some people like Kim Deitch didn't get recognition until their 50s and 60s keeps me optimistic. I'm glad I have a couple of SpongeBob gigs and Chris Duffy tells me he and David Roman might have post-NICK jobs lined up. Just when friends' kids are getting old enough to read..."

craig thompson art snipped that originally appeared in the magazine
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Moon Boots

image
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Sotomayor/Pinata Cartoon Blowback

The complaints about a Chip Bok cartoon as it appeared in the Daily Oklahoman on Tuesday featuring Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotamayor as a pinata has blossomed from one Daily Kos columnist making a case against it to a wider network of pundits and advocacy groups ripping into it or ripping into the rippers, depending on their political thrust. Chip Bok even appeared on CNN to answer questions. Despite giving off an appealing "elementary school principal who cares about your kid" vibe, the general run of political commentary is fairly proceeding without him at this point. Note the headline here. If I'm reading these articles correctly, the Oklahoman has basically hunkered down to wait this one out. Chip Bok's self-portrait on top of his site made me laugh, I'll admit.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Cosmos Of Kirby

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* if you were wondering if the Danish cartoons would come up in any of the analysis about President Obama's speech yesterday at Cairo University, look no further. Michael Moynihan makes the point that a missing element of the speech was a recognition that people should have the right to criticize Islam, and that religious leaders petitioning states for punishment of their citizens for practicing free speech -- no matter how idiotic -- is a sign there are differences of expectation there.

* JL Granatstein notes that the Danish cartoons controversy scared many Danes that are hoping to move into an era marked by prosperous multi-culturalism.

* I'll admit we're getting into dangerous "only interesting to me" territory with this one, but it's something I wondered about at the time of the riots: if a generation of Muslim community and political leaders would emerge a few years later with the Danish Cartoons controversy as a crucial experience. The Dane Fathy Al-Abid as described in this article seems to me to fit that role.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
48 Days Until Comic-Con International

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Everyone Please Have Fun At MoCCA

image

This weekend the Festival of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art puts the capital city of the Imaginary Land of Comics in New York City and its Lexington Street Armory.

imageI would consider it a great weekend merely to get books as awesome as Multiforce, The Gigantic Robot and Far Arden -- and I could do that at MoCCA in the first seven minutes. Truly a fun show. If I were within four hours of Gotham by car, I'd be day-tripping it and if I were within six I'd seriously consider a weekend. There's even some suspense in terms of traffic at the new location.

* this site's informal guide as to how we might personally approach the weekend is updated and remains here.

* the best way to access The Beat's support material is probably by going to the archived events material and reading the first four or five posts.

* you can go to the Comics Journal MoCCA 2009 Guide and find out a few details on 15 of the 196 exhibitors.

* not comics: if you're just in a New York state of mind, James Wolcott has written probably the Platonic Ideal of articles looking back on old (1970s) New York as better and hipper and more rewarding in a cultural and artistic sense. Any comics person who has spent more money on funnybooks unearthed on a Saturday afternoon at an Amish flea market than they did later that month at a top 20 direct market retailer will sympathize with the notion of great art being obscure and found in the cracks of economic decay. On the other hand, pining for filthy, scary subway cars is flatly idiotic, and everybody always projects themselves back in time as being way cooler than they actually are. (via)

A Collective Memory entry will appear on this site beginning Monday next week.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Had Lady Parts, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Andy Fischli

image
 
posted 7:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Death and Dr. Parker

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Lee Falk, Storyteller

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Manny Stallman Comics

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the esteemed art comics publisher Drawn and Quarterly celebrated their 20th anniversary with a big ol' party and brings you some pictures as proof.

* here's a (kind of loud) video I'm told is shot at the recent NCS annual convention. I haven't had the chance to watch it all the way through yet.

* the writer and critic Don MacPherson writes about the Comic-Con International sell-out and wonders if that's actually such a great thing. I hadn't noticed, but I guess there are film- and TV-related things going on at the convention now?

* the blogger and cartoonist Daryl Cagle responds to Keith Knight's suggestions for the NCS annual convention. Read it for the Jim Davis Plate anecdote.

* Where In The World Was Craig Thompson?

* finally, I can't imagine a better-written article previewing a signing than this one by Ben Schwartz on Seth and Adrian Tomine's forthcoming appearance at Quimby's. It's almost too good, but anyone that complains gets punched in the throat.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 34th Birthday, David Gallaher!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Your Book Designs Suck

Exhibits/Events
Todd Nauck In Barcelona
Editorial Cartoonists At CCI

History
Fumpy?
Hercules, Player
Noah Berlatsky On Canon
Yeah Whatever Happened To These People?

Industry
That Pushback Snippet Is So Depressing

Interviews/Profiles
GNR: Jim Zubkavich
FPI Blog: John Higgins
Roger Langridge Is Awesome
Lake County Journal: Russell Lissau

Not Comics
David Lasky Enjoys Some Culture

Publishing
Muppet Show #3 Previewed
What The Immonens Are Up To
Brian Fies' New Book Previewed
Brian Fies Has Pre-Release Jitters

Reviews
Kevin Church: Various
Richard Bruton: Kaspar
Shawn Nyland-Hoke: Various
Vanja: BPRD: The Black Goddess
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Leroy Douresseaux: New Mutants #2
J. Caleb Mozzocco: The Brinkley Girls
Sean T. Collins: Batman and Robin #1
Steve Duin: George Sprott: 1894-1975
Benjamin Birdie: Batman and Robin #1
Paul O'Brien: Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk
Leroy Douresseaux: Detroit Metal City Vol. 1
Jog: Seaguy: Slaves Of Mickey Eye #3, Batman & Robin #1

 

 
June 4, 2009


Nickelodeon Magazine Canceled

image

According to a post at the LA Times blog, Viacom is shutting down comics-friendly Nickelodeon Magazine, effective immediately. Thirty staffers have lost their jobs, the post says. The magazine has been a strong home for comics both as a gig that helped support a lot of talented cartoonists from Sam Henderson to Craig Thompson to James Kochalka by providing them a steady gig, affording many of them their primary commercial opportunity to do all-ages material, giving many a chance to work in color, and also because so many of the comics were good. The magazine had a dedicated comic section called "The Comic Book" and drove specialty spin-offs featuring nothing but the comics material.

According to the piece, the magazine had lost value as a marketing tool in the age of Internet, an interesting spin on the usual notion of falling circulation figures and non-viability that are usually the cause. Casual figures mentioned for the magazine at its height indicate a circulation of over 1 million at some point in its history. A lack of print advertising was also given as a reason: the March 2009 magazine had according to my count a page and a third of interior ads from outside sources in addition to the three cover slots. I would imagine without knowing for sure that this represents a decline in ad sales. It would certainly confirm that a current, perhaps primary value of the magazine was to enhance the brand.

The magazine's site and subscription pages are still up and while I've seen no independent news stories with sources cited as of 2 PM, the story was confirmed to me personally by a source I trust at about noon ET.

Of the freelancers contacted by CR, Johnny Ryan replied, "That really sucks. I wonder if they're killing off the whole thing or if it will have an online presence... As far as I know, Nick Mag is the only resource for quality kids comics. Chris Duffy is a comics genius and one of the best editors ever. If they are in fact killing the whole thing, then it really is a tragedy." Ryan also indicated that he had not been informed in advance of the LAT blog post.

Craig Thompson responded to an early-morning e-mail by first expressing a wish that the news wasn't true. "This Nickelodeon announcement is news to me, but I hope it's not true, because I'm sorely indebted to Chris Duffy and Dave Roman for employing me all through the production of Chunky and Blankets. Really, my supporting myself as an artist is entirely due to them. They were the only regular gig that paid my rent and grocery bills, and they were more like buddies than bosses -- our editorial phone talks were social high points through my work day."

Artist and cartoonist Laura Park: "It's sad news. The people who work there are amazing and as a whole the magazine was really supportive of cartoonists. Also, being in Nickelodeon magazine really impressed my friend's kids, now I got nothin'."

Senior comics editor Chris Duffy wrote in at 2:10 PM ET to say that he'd likely make a statement tomorrow.

thanks to all those that e-mailed this just now
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Weep: Richard Sala Art Blog

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Another Cartoonist Loses Longtime Gig

image

This time it's Roy Peterson, a multiple award-winning and widely-syndicated cartoonist, a longtime illustrator of Allan Fotheringham's column at Maclean's, the founding president of the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists of and the first Canadian president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (1983), who had his relationship severed by the Vancouver Sun for stated reasons of expense.

Between that first linked-to article and this one in the Sun that pays tribute to the 47 years of service Peterson gave the paper, a few interesting details shuffle to the service. Peterson apparently worked on a contract basis, so it's not a staff position that's lost and, of course, there are no benefits. The paper gave him three months, which is actually more than many fired cartoonists have received and one I suppose can infer elements of the nature of the severance as compared to some others where it takes place in abrupt fashion. Also, the tribute article did not give a reason for Peterson's departure.

You can advance search to pull up almost 700 cartoons here.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: O’Neill, Moore At The ICA

image

love the jacket
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Blondie: It’s All About The Timing

imageMichael Cavna at Comic Riffs catches that today's Blondie is that much more amusing if you recall the fact that Garry Trudeau is facing complaints from the Anti-Defamation League over his Sunday cartoon. Even as sturdy and trusted an outfit as the Blondie crew isn't working with that little of a turnaround time, so it's just a coincidence.

The latest on the Doonesbury thing is that the cartoonist and syndicate won't comment, although Trudeau did post the letter of complaint from the ADL to his site.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Grin And Bear It

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Dupuy and Berberian Go To Roland Garros

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gregory Benton In France

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: The Grickle Store

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* not comics: if I'm reading this, this and I believe this correctly, one of comics' first families had an interesting and perhaps even scary evening. I'm sorry that had to happen to anyone, let alone people I like very much. Yikes. I don't think this is part of the conspiracy to convince every comics person to move to the more mellow Pacific Northwest, but I'm not ruling it out, either.

image* the great Keith Knight fixes the NCS Annual Convention. (via Gary Tyrrell)

* the former artist/writer turned mostly writer Mark Schultz talks about Al Williamson.

* in I've wasted my life news, the Wendy Pini birthday greeting below is this site's 20,000th post.

* this otherwise typical "we're launching a new comic strip and let's meet the author" interview with Signe Wilkinson has an odd and thus noteworthy exchange where the esteemed editorial cartoonist is asked for her parenting award qualifications. Her answer made me laugh.

* the writer Steven Grant dissects the cancellation of Captain Britain and MI-13.

* not comics: Heidi MacDonald caught a news piece that noted plans for expansion of the San Diego convention center, home to Comic-Con International. Seeing as the show is sold out two months in advance, more space and therefore potentially more show would I imagine be good news. The key would be whether or not any such plans would be spiked by the horrendous Californian economy or, perhaps even, considered too vital to the downtown's continued viability as a convention destination not to kill. I figure this ends with my being in my 60s, finding out I'm supposed to be on a panel with Matt Brady, Conrad Groth, two robots and Rich Johnston's clone about the rise of virtual reality comics news, looking at the map to find that it's 7 miles away, and then me crying.

* finally, the noted writer-about-manga (and other comics, too) Brigid Alverson debuts a column at CBR's Robot 6.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 80th Birthday, Dick Locher!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Wendy Pini!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Steve Weissman!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 51st Birthday, Josef Rubinstein!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Paul Hornschemeier Is Taking Commissions

Exhibits/Events
Go See Daryl Cagle

History
This Made Me Laugh
Whatever Happened To...?

Interviews/Profiles
GNR: Eric Wight
PWCW: Geoff Johns
Wizard: Frank Quitely
GNR: Jimmy Gownley
CBR: Douglas Paskiewicz
Newsarama: Frank Quitely
Canada.com: Doug Wright

Publishing
Kristy Valenti On Those Muppets Comics

Reviews
Richard Bruton: Nicolas
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Zak Edwards: Runaways #10
David Welsh: The War At Ellsmere
Greg McElhatton: Rin-Ne Chapters 1-5
Ed Sizemore: St. Dragon Girl Vols. 1-3
Don MacPherson: Batman and Robin #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Batman and Robin #1
Andy Frisk: Superman: World of Krypton #4
Johanna Draper Carlson: Galaxion: The Jump
 

 
June 3, 2009


Holy Crap: Multi-Force At MoCCA

image

from the PictureBox press release: "Mat Brinkman: MULTIFORCE Yes, you read that correctly -- the entire saga at full size. 22 pages of comics genius. Sneak attack."
 
posted 8:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* Jeff Smith and Cartoon Books are doing a special hardcover edition of the first RASL book.

* IDW has entered into an agreement with the Robert Bloch estate to do a variety of projects using the late author's work as a springboard.

* there are so many comics coming out I totally missed word of the Richard Sala effort through First Second pictured above until I was sent an advance copy. It's super, super, super pretty.

image* as noted in a great catch by Rodrigo Baeza, the long-running strip reprint magazine Comics Revue is going bi-monthly to better hit the Diamond sales minimums.

* the writer John Jakala notes the hard times and struggles faced by Steve Rude in getting his self-publishing enterprise off of the ground, and its effective termination in favor of the artist's renewed emphasis on painting with comics a less significant part of the professional mix. That's too bad. Comics is a super-tricky market, and there's some evidence that the audience for the Rude line's flagship title Nexus had shrunk in the 1990s independent of all the market's complications. I like the title, and I've always liked Rude's comics work, so I feel sad that however Rude was able to approach the comics market this time didn't work out.

* Dark Horse is publishing Jane Yolen's first graphic novel.

* I like the idea of a character named Magog, because it practically guarantees that a character called Gog had something to do with his secret origin and I called dogs "gogs" until I was like six.

* that last one sure was funny when I wrote it at 3 AM last Thursday, high on powdered donuts and Mountain Dew.

* the comics business news and analysis site provides a straight-up preview of this Fall's Masterpiece Comics, from R. Sikoryak through Drawn and Quarterly.

* speaking of comics and comics-related book that I didn't know were coming out -- and I was somewhere in this post before now -- reviewers were sent copies of that 40 Years of Comic-Con book last week. They really need to promote this with a poster of that Sergio Aragones cover and they should make it available as a desktop background image immediately. Okay, they really don't need to do those things; I just really like the cover. Plus it led me to discover the Caveman Robot blog.

* finally, the great big publisher Marvel is apparently going to bring back the original Human Torch. I seem to remember the original Human Torch poking around one of the Avengers teams in the 1990s and I think the character's dead body was part of a recent Captain America plotline. That's one way that superheroes are better than movie stars, by the way: you never see a movie about Jimmy Stewart's corpse. There haven't been good comics about a flying on-fire guy since those underrated Kirby Human Torch comics in the 1960s.

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Twenty-Five Things I’d Do At MoCCA

image

This weekend is the MoCCA Festival in New York City, at their new location of the Lexington Street Armory. The MoCCA Festival is one of the jewels of the North American convention schedule and together with the Fall's Small Press Expo and up-and-coming events like Portland's Stumptown anchors the year's arts comics and small press calendar.

I won't be attending the MoCCA Festival this year, but if I were, there's a lot I'd try to do.

1. I'd get in early and go to the What's Funny show tonight
Newgarden + Mahler + Nevins = good times. It's like the live version of an article that would appear in Monocle.

2. I'd visit some of the city's great comics shops
I like to keep my comics goings-on from my not-comics goings-on as much as possible, so most of my time before and after MoCCA would be spent on the rest the stuff I like to do. I do like going to comics shops whenever I get the chance and New York has a metric ton of them. I'm always by how tight the spaces are, but that makes total sense in New York given the real estate costs.

3. I'd go see Adrian Tomine and Seth at The Strand
They're on tour right now. Tomine and Seth are not only fine cartoonists, they're excellent talkers about cartooning, so a show of theirs should be a fun time. I haven't been to The Strand for a while, either.

4. I'd go to the closing party for 24x24: A Vague Epic
I'm not sure I was sharp enough to hear about the opening, but it sounds like a fun show. Plus: it says "party."

5. I'd walk to the show one morning
You have to be careful with this one because you'll be on your feet a lot at the show, but there's nothing better than taking a long walk through one of the great cities of the world knowing comics is your final destination.

6. Let's be honest: I'd probably blow off Saturday and go to the Belmont Stakes
Comics are great and everything, but I've never won anything after putting $15 across on a 105-1 long shot on New Comics Day. I have at the Belmont, so I'd probably spend my first day out there at their fine day of horse racing and ladies wearing hats. That's a great thing about the MoCCA Festival, though; it's not really a show I think of as an attend-every-minute event, so I encourage people to come to town and do a few hours at the show and do something else, too. (For the sake of this exercise, I'm going to pretend I'm at the festival just about every minute, though.)

7. I'd take a slow, methodical walk around the show to see everything I can
This is a must at a show like this one. You never know what you'll miss unless you put your head down and perform due diligence. Try to do a second walk-around during a different day or different time of day, just because people and sometimes material swaps out.

8. I'd complete my Real Deal collection at PictureBox
I still need a couple of these.

9. I'd buy as much handmade art as I could
I love buying comics and collected editions, but festivals like MoCCA are about the comics you can't find elsewhere, so I'd be on the lookout for the handmade stuff first.

image10. I'd buy -- or at least look at with the intention of buying later -- some of the debuts that particularly appeal to me
Three books stand out. Considering I'm not even going to be there, I'm pretty fired up for the surprise publication of Mat Brinkman's Multiforce. As a fan of the cartoonist, I'm thrilled for the new Tom Gauld book, too. Another book I just sort of want to see is the final printed copy of Kevin Cannon's massive 24-Hour Style Of Creation graphic novel, Far Arden.

11. I'd go to the Syncopated Release party at Rocketship
Brendan Burford is not only one of the most powerful men in comic strips, he's an art comics anthology editor. It's like he's Clark Kent and the guy Clark Kent used to beat up at Smallville Elementary. I'm kidding: there's no better person in comics and the book looks fun. Plus I've never been to Rocketship, because I'm too scared to ride the subway intoxicated.

12. I'd go to the Future Ink show on Friday night
This looks like a fun show, too, and there will probably be some extended afterparty at someone's house. Or something. Not that I'd be invited.

13. I'd stop by the Romanian comics show Friday night
This would be fun to go to because I have no idea what would be involved. After turning 30 (let alone 40), I sort of stopped ending up at social events about which I'm completely ignorant.

14. I'd go to the opening reception for the David Mazzucchelli show at MoCCA
There are very few artists out there whose art I'd like to see up close as much as I'd like to see a bunch of David Mazzucchelli's. That Asterios Polyp sure is a fascinating book.

15. I'd have many awesome dinners with many awesome cartoonists in many of New York's awesome restaurants
I'd do something social along these lines, I'm sure. MoCCA is in New York. I'm trying to think if there's something I eat in New York that I don't eat anywhere else. Maybe Russian? But really any place to which a local directed me would be excellent, I'm sure. It's great to talk to your comics friends you don't see all that often. Here's an eating guide from Heidi MacDonald, local to that neighborhood.

16. I would sing "Rainbow Connection" to help the CBLDF
And I would be great. Okay, no I wouldn't. What kind of karaoke song list doesn't have "The Rose"?

17. I'd go to the panels Saturday, 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM: Making Good Comics In A New Era Panel (2:00 PM), Ah, Humbug! Panel (3:00 PM), Scandinavian Comics 101 panel (4:00 PM), Twisted Genius of Fletcher Hanks panel (5:00 pm)
There's nothing better than sitting down with a long stretch of panels and letting the comics knowledge watch over you as your ass becomes indented into your seat. I thought this was a great stretch on Saturday, including a double-dose of the great Paul Karasik (he's doing his Fletcher Hanks thing and subbing for Gary Groth on the Humbug panel).

18. I'd go to the Gary Panter and Frank Santoro in conversation panel at 3:45 PM on Sunday
This seems like it would be the must-attend of the show, in that both of these formidable artists are smart, fearless and talk well. There's a ton of good programming throughout the weekend, and everyone's tastes vary. I'd just suggest seeing something. Kent Worcester puts together a good slate of comics chat.

19. I'd see some old comics industry pals
Jon Lewis, Eric Reynolds, Graham Annable, Chris Staros and Brett Warnock, Chris Pitzer... we're the old guys now, at least at this show.

20. I'd meet some of the cartoonists I haven't yet or barely know
Kate Beaton, Tom Kaczynski, Karl Stevens, Jason... there are many, many more.

21. I would pay homage to the great Neilalien
The comics-blogger prime attends this show every year, and if I were lucky enough to see him I would shake his hand if he offered it and pay my proper respects. I'm told he likes Dr. Strange.

22. I would say, "Hi," to some of my fellow writers about comics
It's a great convention to see some of the best writers about comics out there, including the PW crowd and Sean T. Collins if he makes the trip in.

23. I'd go to the Comic Strip Serenade show at Jalopy
What a great-sounding cap-off to a long weekend.

24. I would feel old
I always do.

25. I would stop and reflect
While it's always a danger to watch comics at a kind of core, transactional level as some kind of balm that keeps us protected from our feelings of despair and horror when confronted with yet another round of corporate exploitation of this wonderful art form, that doesn't mean all that stuff isn't of itself a great thing. Make comics, read comics, love comics.

image
 
posted 8:25 am PST |
Permalink
 

 
ADL Objects To Doonesbury Sunday

image

As widely reported, the Anti-Defamation League has sent a letter to cartoonist Garry Trudeau about the Doonesbury cartoon that ran May 31. They then released the content of that letter to media sources. The nature of the objection is the role of money-lenders vs. money-changers, the groups each term describes, and who Jesus confronted at the temple in Jerusalem.

I think another issue that needs to be brought up is that Reverend Sloan is clearly an ageless vampire of some sort.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Andy Capp Archive

image

over a thousand cartoons and you don't have to go past the first page to see one of those astonishing wife-beating ones
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Impromptu Comics/Newspapers Round-Up

Here's a few things that seem interconnected and not big enough for their own entries:

* the cartoonist Jan Eliot notes in brutal fashion the shrinking size of newspaper comic strips since she started, which is either 1990 or 1995 depending on whether she's talking about national syndication or not.

* at least one easily-googleable on-line media commentator has criticized a syndicated Chip Bok cartoon about President Obama's decision to nominate Sonia Sotomayor.

* that Gary McCoy abortion cartoon is back up on Daryl Cagle's site, along with the firestorm of commentary it's instigated there. Like I thought I might, I intensely dislike the cartoon, but it's so rare for anyone to do anything on that subject it's worth noting.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Entropy, Part 3

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Marvel Pushes Back Final Order Cutoff Date On Reborn #1; Allows Retailers To Gauge Initial Publicity

The public complaining by a few prominent retailers that they would not be allowed to gauge the initial burst of promised publicity before finalizing their orders on the Marvel comic book that publicity is intended to benefit seems to have done some good: Marvel has pushed back its final order cutoff date on Reborn #1 to June 16. As the lead-in to Captain America #600 will be released to retailers willing to pay for the privilege on June 15, with media coverage promised to accompany it, this enables them to get a final handle on how much demand there will be for the Reborn title. Brian Hibbs has a fine summary and an explanation of possible sales scenarios. From the outside looking in, what seems strange is how stunt-like all of this is, but there's a thin line between smash hit and yet another ordinary comic book in the Direct Market these days.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Rui Tenreiro

image
 
posted 7:46 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Tintin Vs. Predator

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sickles’ Sinking Ship

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gilmar Fraga On Flickr

image
 
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I haven't yet seen a lot of interviews with Chris Onstad.

image* not comics: I really hope it's true that Darryl Cunningham is going to do a set of cards you can purchase, because he's sent me mock-ups and I love them.

* the idea of the day at the New York Times comes from Jeet Heer.

* not comics: I think we did this once in Five For Friday as a joke. Who knew?

* the cartoonist and educator James Sturm and fellow comics blogger Heidi MacDonald react to my recent pieces on the Masters of American Comics show inspired by Sturm's mention of it in an essay/slideshow on the great Virginia Lee Burton. It always sounds like this huge raging battle when these things go on for a couple of days, and usually suggests that we're all pulling our hair out in big clumps and screaming at each other about this stuff Albert Finney-style, so I feel bad for James. I just didn't think his essay was convincing and his use of the Masters exhibit as an example brought to mind something I didn't like about the way that show is occasionally criticized. That's all. No big thing.

* missed it: Charles Yoakum notes that the Herge Museum opening was a PR disaster. I had been posting to the French-language links in a very superficial manner, and had missed out on the cock-up aspects of the affair.

* Neil Schwartz sent out an e-mail this morning that he's leaving Dabel Brothers, and that future media relations might be shared by Rich Young and/or Derek Ruiz.

* not comics: sometimes I wish my life were a whimsical movie so things like the nine foot tall statue of Dick Tracy going up in Naperville would suddenly come to life and start fighting crime.

* finally, you ever think how much it would suck to get it right in the face and upper torso with Captain America's shield? It's basically getting clobbered with a giant, metal frisbee. I don't want to get pulped by Thor's hammer or have the Hulk pull my arms off, either, but there's something about that shield catching you right in your upper one-third that seems uniquely horrible to me.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Gavin Wilson!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 27th Birthday, Paul Maybury!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Nick Abadzis Sketches
Tim Hensley Makes A Cover

History
Comics Were Awesome
American's Portrayal In BD
Whatever Happened To Harmony?

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Paul Cornell
The Old College Try
Graphic NYC: Joe Simon
Newsarama: Brian Reed
Robot 6: Greg Sadowski
FPI Blog: Shane Chebsey
Rob Clough On Juliacks 01
Rob Clough On Juliacks 02
Newsarama: Jamie S. Rich
carte blanche: Aaron Costain
Comics Worth Reading: Tara Tallon

Not Comics
This Is Nice
Italian Spider-Man
I Don't Understand This But I Like It

Reviews
Shawn Hoke: Folk #2
Sabrina Fritz: Various
Richard Bruton: Pohadky
Nina Stone: The Rapture #1
Augie De Blieck: The Hunter
Doug Zawisza: New Mutants #2
Sasha Watson: The Photographer
Vanja Miskovic: Immortal Iron Fist #22-25
Leroy Douresseaux: Rosario+Vampire Vol. 7
Robert Greenberger: Funny, Misshapen Body
Ed Sizemore: Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Vol. 3
 

 
June 2, 2009


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

image

*****

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 at my leisure, muttering the occasional "My Word" through a monogrammed handkerchief.

*****

APR090234 ASTRO CITY THE DARK AGE BOOK THREE #2 (OF 4) $3.99
APR090486 AGENTS OF ATLAS #6 DKR $2.99
APR090147 BATMAN AND ROBIN #1 $2.99
APR090496 CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13 ANNUAL #1 $3.99
APR090274 SEAGUY THE SLAVES OF MICKEY EYE #3 (OF 3) (MR) $3.99
MAR094141 MUPPET SHOW #3 (OF 4) $2.99
Your various well-reviewed or hotly anticipated serial comic books of interest. That's the Morrison/Quitely Batman series, which should be fun. The Muppet Show book continues to be well-crafted and fun, that's the last issue of this go-around on Seaguy and one of the last issues on that Captain Britain run of titles that will become a dollar-bin favorite in the next couple of years.

JAN092561 DAREDEVIL OMNIBUS BY BRUBAKER & LARK HC VOL 01 $74.99
I wasn't aware they were doing this and don't need it because I have the comic books, but it should be a handsome volume and the superhero comics content you'll find within its covers is solid.

JAN092563 MMW ATLAS ERA JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY HC VOL 02 VAR ED 118 $59.99
I'm grateful that Marvel's mining this old material a bit, although I can't speak to the end result.

APR090803 MOOMIN COMPLETE TOVE JANSSON COMIC STRIP HC VOL 04 $19.95
Don't let this one slip past you -- the latest in D&Q's handsome presentation of Tove Jansson's Moomin comic strip. I thought the last volume was the best of the three, so I'm looking forward to this one.

FEB094258 32 STORIES COMPLETE OPTIC NERVE SP DEFINITIVE ED BOX SET (MR) $19.95
This is Adrian Tomine's early material as a slip-cased set of mini-comics, and about as cool as that sounds.

MAR094221 GEORGE SPROTT HC $24.95
If you've been buying books recently because of Seth's design work on them, you should be super-excited about having a Seth-designed book of work by Seth. This is his NY Times Sunday Magazine serial completely worked over and expanded into a big, fancy book. I liked it a quite a bit, and we'll be running a Seth interview on CR this Sunday.

FEB094402 MIJEONG GN $19.95
This looks nice.

MAR094458 SLAM DUNK GN VOL 04 $7.99
The best of the mainstream manga volume releases this week, a slow-building series I enjoy.

APR090815 TINY TYRANT GN ETHELBERTOSAURUS $9.95
This is I believe a re-release of First Second's previous Tiny Tyrant volume with adjustments in format.

MAR094252 UPTIGHT #3 (RES) $2.75
The previous issue of this series from the great Jordan Crane was super, super strong.

*****

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, that's on me.

*****

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Because Marvel’s Use For The DM Doesn’t Necessarily Involve Their Being Good Citizens Of The DM

* the always well-dressed, prominent retailer James Sime walks deliberately down the hotel hallways swinging his croquet mallet against the walls and shouting Marvel's name. Sime's not crazy, though: he's just pointing out that by changing the sales date a forthcoming special-event Captain America issue is going to be released at the last second on a date where retailers' attention is elsewhere, Marvel is denying themselves and their retailing partners the opportunity to move more copies. The man has a point.

For what it's worth, I believe this specific comic is part of the same general run of issues where it's been hinted that there's going to be a major plot point involving the Captain America property (80 percent likely some sort of return of the currently-dead Steve Rogers character whose death drove comics sales like mad; 20 percent some cross-promotion related to a forthcoming movie), but because of nature of announcements to retailers as items for the rumor mill funneling quickly to fans Marvel won't say exactly why the issue should sell well.

* the CBR blog probably has the best write-up and springboard for links for a discussion during a recent investor's conference as to why Marvel's raising its price. I know without looking that some folks out there will sheepishly take the view that corporations exist to maximize profits and raising prices from $2.99 to $3.99 does this and so on and so forth. I don't think that's the point, though. I think what's being expressed by fans and some critics isn't some willful denial that Marvel wants to maximize its profits or how capitalism works but a general feeling of angst whether or not it's the right time to do so and what the implications will be on the broader system which Marvel uses to make this money.

Raising prices on serial comics might cause more people to spend more at comics shops, but it might also cause people to reconsider the value of what they're getting in the first place, and it may simply cause people to buy fewer comics at the same amount of money they've allotted either formally or informally to their comics-buying hobby. It's hard not to see this as a gamble that the hardcore reading fanbase is resilient enough that any drops in overall purchases or damage to the general retailing environment isn't more than made up by the greater profits. That's a depressing, cynical strategy to be embraced by one's market leader -- it's almost antagonistic in seeing that market and that customer base as a resource to be exploited rather than as a mechanism to reach bigger audiences. I also don't believe for one second any of the implied reasons for the move other than maximizing profits -- that, for instance, the money being made by these comics' creators is somehow in danger if prices don't go up.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Here’s A Nice-Looking Comic Book Cover I Hadn’t Seen Before Now

image

it accompanies Jeffery Klaehn's list of best comic book magic-users
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
More From Book Expo America 2009

* e-publishing pioneer Glenn Hauman writes a recap of his experience at BEA over at ComicMix, reminding us that the advance reading copies of Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of The Hunter hit at this show.

* one of Hauman's photos includes Rick Marshall, who does his own write-up of BEA for the MTV Splash Page site.

* here's Paul Constant's in-show post that mentions the Parker adaptation and also that Stitches book, just in case you wanted the comics-cognizant but still a book person point of view.

* here's the first thing I've seen on general attendance figures.

* making cameos in PW's children's book round-up are Neil Gaiman, Glenn Dakin and Patrick McDonnell. Not together.

* in a short editorial, Peggy Burns of Drawn and Quarterly explains why that company wasn't on-hand: a combination of their distributor not wanting them there, the high cost of exhibiting and the ways they can use that money on more directly pushing their books in the directions that even an ideal BEA would afford them. Burns mentions the possibility of BEA doing regional, open-to-the-public book shows. I think if you read Constant's post and the Burns you'll realize that there are opportunities for regional book shows to carve a brand-new identity as BEA settles in to its new identity.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Leif Peng On Doug Wright

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
UK Comics Fans, Pros Look For Concrete Signs Of Announced Comic-Con

And so far they're not really finding any.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Two By Mort Meskin

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look At The Whole Thing: Another Dan Clowes New Yorker Cover

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Horror Story

image

some nice Lee/Tuska work there
 
posted 7:44 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Monsteroids Of The Underworld

image
 
posted 7:43 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer James Vance gets a bit deeper into his experiences with the massive, crumbling, Miyazaki-style monster that was 1990s licensed-property pusher Tekno Comix.

* the other half of Chris Butcher's look at the monthly Direct Market ordering catalog Previews, which was fun enough I forgot I don't link to half-articles.

* not comics: the great site Barnacle Press explains that forthcoming Comic Strip Serenade coming up this weekend. Sounds cool.

image* I don't remember where I got the link, and I had to have found it somewhere because sure didn't find it on my own, but I sure enjoyed reading this George DiCaprio-written underground-era comic.

* the writer and longtime on-line comics industry commentator Warren Ellis debuts his new column at BleedingCool.

* the thing I think of when I see today's reviewers discussing Howard the Duck's initial appearance are 1) whoa, that was a cool character right out of the gate, partly for reasons they get into there and 2) we were so divorced from the history of comics at that era, with no idea of its general continuities, that a duck character like Howard reminded us of the Disney duck comics but only in the vaguest sense possible. I'm not sure how to communicate that idea, but it would be a very different debut now, just because comics readers are generally more cognizant of that corner of comics history. Crap, I'm still not sure that makes sense.

* the writer and Comic-Con International mainstay Mark Evanier notes that show's sell-out.

* I can't see this cartoon on abortion by Gary McCoy, and I'm not sure I want to, but it's so rare that a cartoonist tackles that subject I thought I'd point it out.

* happy birthday, Mallard Fillmore!

* not comics: I thought that Up! movie was about 78 times better than Wall-E. It's not a great-great movie, I don't think, not if you've had a lifetime to see your share of great movies, but it's one of those nicely-made mainstream entertainments where you realize that all films could and maybe should function on that slightly higher, craft-conscious plane. If I were a kid, this would probably be one of the films I'd later remember having seen as a kid, if that makes any sense. Bonus: Christopher Plummer without having to fly to New York.

* finally, the prominent comics blogger Johnny Bacardi has the Ted White Castle of Frankenstein interview of Stan Lee up at his site. It's a good piece with Lee, probably the best of the 1960s fanzine interviews and it may be one of the five best, period. White was an interesting industry figure, one of the first (I think) of that generation of fanzine guys turned pros.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 39th Birthday, Henri-Joseph Recule!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Mark Siegel!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 28th Birthday, Loris Z!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Cancertown Signing Report
Go See Chris Ware (Seriously)
Daily Cross Hatch MoCCA Review

History
Lift With Your Legs
Mountain Skiing Gags

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jeff Parker
Newsarama: Alex Ross
All David Malki, All The Time
CBR: Gilbert, Mario Hernandez
Blog@Newsarama: David Petersen
Mike Lynch Cartoons: Doug Wright

Not Comics
Jog On Film
Even Better Than Cars
Matt Maxwell's Monsterpalooza Report

Publishing
Amulet From Around The World
Mighty Avengers #25 Previewed
NYT Magazine Shrinking In Physical Size

Reviews
Jog: Ashen Victor
Chris Sims: Various
Sandy Bilus: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
Andy Frisk: Elektra #3
Don MacPherson: Trinity
Don MacPherson: Various
Nathan Madison: Nova #25
Andy Frisk: Marcy Sparx #0
Andy Frisk: Madame Xanadu #11
Wim Lockefeer: Union Der Helden
Richard Bruton: Tiny Tyrant Vol. 1
Richard Bruton: American Elf Vol. 3
Leroy Douresseaux: Ral-Grad Vol. 4
Hervé St-Louis: Brussli Le Conquerant Vol. 1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Ninja Baseball Kyuma Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Benny and Penny: The Big No-No
Henry Chamberlain: The Hound Of The Baskervilles
Johanna Draper Carlson: Apothecarius Argentum Vol. 2
 

 
June 1, 2009


Yet More Staffers Leave Wizard?

Whipping through the channels that brought word of more than a dozen previous staff departures is the contention that Vice-President of Production and Circulation Darren Sanchez was fired today. Sanchez came into comics through Valiant, where he worked after a stint in the US Army as a helicopter pilot. He was named to his current position in 2007.

Same sources also say that the company's staff photographer Dylan Brucie left last week. Brucie was best known as the in-house photography guy for things like the photo-heavy ToyFare. He gave a short period of notice before leaving.

If confirmed, this would be yet another round of significant departures which based solely on those vacancies might be called a reeling entertainment company; either that or at one time the most magnificently over-staffed one.
 
posted 8:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Let The Crumb/Genesis Onslaught Begin

image

Of all the titles being promoted at the just-past Book Expo America, none have quite the name value and want-to-see factor as Robert Crumb's long-gestating project about the book of Genesis. The Fall release was a focus of WW Norton's BEA efforts, and today various media types were e-mailed a link to this morgue-building article about Peter Poplaski concerning that project. They are also running a massive excerpt in that magazine's pages.

The Book Of Genesis Illustrated By R. Crumb may prove the exception to the rule that a project's press journey is its least interesting aspect. Given Crumb's age and cultural standing this is a classic Lion In Winter project, formidable in terms of its relevancy and quirkiness with a twist that you can describe in a single magazine article sentence or even in a television promo leading to a commercial. I don't expect to see Crumb doing the car wash of radio and television shows on ESPN or anything modern media like that, but there should be plenty of genuine, press-driven interest in this book. At $25 for a reportedly 200-page book, it seems modestly priced as well.
 
posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Editorial On The Recent Satire Documentary Ban By The SABC

imageI very much liked this editorial by Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya of the Sowetan about the South African Broadcasting Corporation's recent decision to ban a documentary that feature some of the more controversial satirical material by popular cartoonist Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro. Moya confirms the existence of a troubling trend to redefine the argument away from free speech and the role of the press into a discussion of whether or not people find Zapiro's work offensive. He is also unsparing in his language as to this issue's ultimate, potential meaning.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I Believe In An Age Of Bronze

imageI got an e-mail about this attempt to define the parameters of a Bronze Age of American mainstream comics, but I figure out why. It seems to me that if you insist on breaking comics down into periods like that and assigning minerals to them a third era is well-defined, obviously so, by the first non-Jack Kirby issue of Fantastic Four on one end and the first issues of the mega-crossovers Secret Wars and Crisis On Infinite Earths on the other. I can't even imagine any strong contenders to those candidates, at least not any that frame that general comic book era in as compelling and convincing a way, although I suppose you could quibble over, say, last Kirby/first non-Kirby. You could also go specific, and generate one of those crazy articles that you see out there in magazines to which I've never been lucky to subscribe where grown-up people spend tons of time and energy trying and name "the last Potassium Age comic per series" or whatever, but why would you want to? It's such a rough measure, and the general high and low points in mainstream comics are pretty clear -- there really aren't as many as fans of those kinds of comics sometimes think.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Boy Comics #13

image
 
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Sounds Like BEA Did Okay In 2009

Comics aren't central to the Book Expo America, but they are a significant category and a lot of publishers attend and use that time well. We're far past the stage -- only six, seven years ago -- when the success of comics was a strange and exciting thing for a lot of book industry people: a swell of sales with a core strength derived from manga, an occasional notable feature-article generating hit point title from top-end superhero comics or the better manga series or even art-comics, and a backdrop of enthused industry folk wanting to marry the two markets for various reasons. But it's still a good category in a down market and my initial e-mails out indicate that a lot of people found the show useful. Heidi MacDonald attended and the show's organizer Lance Fensterman shot a lot of informal video. ICv2.com has a more general wrap-up. So does Daily Cross Hatch, maybe a bit less formally done.

The best thing I've read this morning from e-mail or in articles is Eric Reynolds' interview through that Heidi MacDonald link. The Fantagraphics mainstay does the dialogue about the major publishing trade show a huge service in pointing out that his company makes use of their time there making contacts and getting feedback, and that a shift to a higher-publicity convention that takes its lesson from Comic-Con really doesn't serve what they do there at all. With so much of a show like that being about the quality of the business done there, I wish more coverage reflected that, or at least explored that notion. Instead, we hear a lot about things like attendance. Frankly, I have no idea how to read attendance figures on this thing. It seems to me a lot of what goes into attendance depends on who the show is trying to attract and why. That includes overt efforts such as one mentioned though the ICv2.com link about making it harder for unpublished authors to attend, wild cards like the fact that more and more people may qualify as media in these decentralized times (I'd bet without knowing any gains in media aren't coming from traditional sources sending more people in for hardcore team coverage), and more subtle changes such as the fact you're not going to get as many bibliophiles traveling to the show to scoop up freebies when many of those freebies are e-freebies. But I do think there's something to be said that while a publisher can find the show useful, the absence of so many publishers indicates that many don't think of it as vital. In comics terms, nobody doubts that Fantagraphics and Diamond had good shows, but nobody sees it as anything close to a blow or disadvantage that Drawn and Quarterly wasn't there at all.

By the way, it was nice that one of the buzz books of the show was a comics memoir, and while I'm sure people accepted this without shock or amazement I think it's worth noting that what was likely the initial instigator of that buzz, this review, kind of plays that "it's so good it's not really a graphic novel" card. I hadn't seen that one in a while.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Gahan Wilson Series

image
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
An UG Comix Mount Rushmore

There's a terrific and, honestly, heartwarming article here by Steve Duin at the Oregonian. He presents the latest update on underground comix stalwart S. Clay Wilson. The Mt. Rushmore line comes from the title to Duin's article and refers to the famous cartooning friends that came to visit Wilson and the photos that resulted. Great stuff.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Two From Joe Maneely

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Clint Clobber’s Day

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Little Pal

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Phony Pages #2

image
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* retailing giant Amazon.com and some leaked physical space design plans scare the shit out of everybody. Okay, not really.

image* I enjoyed this Sean T. Collins review of the current Image flagship title Invincible, about as unlikely a creative success story as exists right now in comics. Collins' thinking matches my own for the most part, although I think that writer Robert Kirkman's choices force the title into confronting some time-worn superhero thematic tropes and the spin the book puts on those elements contributes greatly to the book hitting with its fans.

* the writer Peter David and the readers of his blog discuss appropriate icons for Garry Trudeau in depicting the President. Maybe they could find something from this.

* these blogging the Previews order catalog posts are a scream, but I'm not certain how many Chris Butcher can do and keep his sanity.

* an on-line broadside about the death of newspapers seems to get Daryl Cagle pissed off enough to write his most interesting best piece yet about the declining fortunes of editorial cartoonists. It's interesting because it's conflicted. I'm almost certain that the response will be to call bullshit on his statements about cartooning's popularity or to make a buggy whip joke, but those will come from people so entrenched in winning their side of the webcomics vs. print comics argument that they'll fail to see that in this case, Cagle's agreeing with them. And why wouldn't he? Although he's seen as a staunch defender of editorial cartooning in print, Cagle's also a more successful comics blogger and comics web host than just about anyone else in the history of either. When he defends print, he's defending the structural aspects that affords people jobs and stability, not the reach or the hits -- it's the latter by which we know who Cagle is at all. The fact that an argument can have multiple sides always comes as a shock to those who like to make withering, summary statements, but it's frequently the case, and I think it is here.

* not comics: defending Wonder Woman's movie viability honor. I was at least a little bit kidding the whole thread, as you'd need an electron microscope to measure how little I care about whether or not X, Y, or Z superhero would make a movie people would want to see. At the same time, it seems like you can make a pretty good movie out of most things if you find the right approach and it's odd to hear people so invested in suggesting otherwise.

* finally, Rich Johnston's Bleeding Cool launches today.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 73rd Birthday, Gerald Scarfe!

image
 
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Paul Pope's Supermek
Sean Phillips Sketches
Eoin Haggerty Should Draw Batman

Exhibits/Events
24HCD In Dublin
New Herge Museum
Brian Heater On BEA
Go See Nicolas Mahler
Joel Meadows On On London Expo
Brian Fies Virtual Launch Party Thanks

History
The Thomas Nast Jug
Oh Mike, That's Creepy
On The Belgian Schools
Namor, You Magnificent Prick

Industry
Neil Gaiman Finally Wins All The Awards

Interviews/Profiles
Inkstuds: Peter Kuper
NY Times: Maria Kalman
Fanboy Radio: Charles Brownstein

Not Comics
Book Publishing: Still Gross
Daryl Cagle's Muppet Glasses
David Lasky At The Roller Rink

Publishing
Fight The Pretty Unicorns
Some Days I Sort Of Miss Bush
Astonishing X-Men #30 Preview

Reviews
Andy Frisk: Ghost Rider #35
Craig Fischer: Unseemly Pictures
Henry Chamberlain: Dirty Beast #1
Richard Krauss: Rastafari Funnies #2
Johanna Draper Carlson: Blazing Combat
Andy Frisk: Justice Society Of America #27
Leroy Douresseaux: Mixed Vegetables Vol. 4
Koppy McFad: Justice League Of America #33
Johanna Draper Carlson: Daisy Kutter: The Last Train
Leroy Douresseaux: Muhyo & Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation Vol. 11
 

 
A Note On My Recent Comment About The Masters Of American Comics Show And Female Cartoonists

image

Peggy Burns, whom I respect a great deal, fairly kicks my ass over at the D&Q blog.

"What I find more curious is the ire Sturm stoked with Tom Spurgeon over at the Comics Reporter by saying that the Masters of American Comics should have included a woman, to which Spurgeon replies that you can only say a woman should have been included in the show if you are ready to say which man should not have been. Really, the only way to say that women like Lynda Barry and Majorie Henderson Buell helped to define the artistry of comics is by saying they helped to define the artistry of comics more than a man? Really? Perhaps there was an edict that said that only 15 cartoonists could be spotlighted, hence the need to pit cartoonists against each other. Otherwise, this argument seems a little cage match-y to me. Lame."

Yikes!

imageI'm honestly not sure what I can say here that doesn't make me sound super-defensive on any number of delicate issues. It's my job to communicate my points, so obviously I failed there. But let me take a quick shot at what I think is the heart of it.

The key is that I'm arguing for specificity, not a rigid framework. There are a million ways to discuss the excellence of a cartoonist like Lynda Barry; I just think most of the really good ones apply specifically to Lynda Barry, the career she's had and the books she's published and what's effective about each one. Similarly, if you're going to argue the success or failure of that Masters exhibit, my hunch is that most of the best, most effective arguments are going to be specifically about that show, the list they came up with, the specific oeuvres of each cartoonist selected.

So yeah, let's discuss great cartoonists and comics-makers in every way possible. But if we're going to bring in the Masters exhibit, let's get in there and talk about it. Why bring it into the discussion otherwise? I laugh at rolled eyes and crushing people in five words or less as much as anyone does, but I like it even more when people dig in to say, "Oliver Harrington is a much better cartoonist than Chester Gould" rather than "There are no African-American cartoonists on this list." And I'd be just as happy if people were specific according to Peggy's standard. I prefer, "Any list too small to include Lynda Barry is an illegitimate list" over "Where are the female cartoonists on this list?"

So no enforced cage matches, just a general hope for a dialogue of specific examples over summary dismissals. And no real, stoked ire, just a reminder how frustrating discussions about important comics industry issues can be. If only arguments against the Masters show had been more like Peggy's criticism of me: specific, on-point and brutally direct.

image
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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